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Kansas City 31 San Francisco 20
[Posted minutes after the Super Bowl]
NFL Hall of Fame Quiz: On Friday, Joe Gibbs was enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, along with Buddy Baker, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, and Waddell Wilson. Gibbs thus joins six other NFL Hall of Famers who are members of additional sports Halls of Fame. Name three of them. Answer below.
--I’m not attempting to analyze the game in full...but let me start with saying that in the pre-game show, as I flipped from golf to Fox, back and forth, that Pitbull’s dancers would be an interesting opener for the State of the Union on Tuesday.
And then as for the halftime show, goodness gracious...I know few will agree with me, but Shakira can attend all my remaining birthday parties, if she happens to be performing in the area.
Look, society has changed. We aren’t getting ‘Up with People’ for the halftime show, nor would you want that. You have to be honest with yourself. Paul McCartney, U2, the Stones, and others of that ilk, won’t live forever, though I’m on record as saying I’d love Bruno Mars every year.
Meanwhile, we had a game, and a so-so one at best. 10-10 at half, the 49ers outgaining the Chiefs 177-155, Patrick Mahomes with a mere 81.7 passer rating, while Jimmy Garoppolo was 9/11, 89, 1-1, 92.8.
Then to start the second, Mahomes threw a bad interception and as we started the fourth quarter, it was 20-10, 49ers.
And then Mahomes threw another pick, a badly thrown pass to Tyreek Hill.
But with 6:13 to go, things got interesting, the Chiefs and Mahomes completing an 83-yard drive for a score, with a one-yard pass to Kelce, and it was 20-17.
And then the Chiefs held the 49ers, and with roughly 5:00 to play, Kansas City got the ball back at their 35...and a few plays later it was first and goal at the ten. And on third and 5, Mahomes completed a short pass to Williams, 24-20.
And after San Fran was stopped on downs with 1:19 left, though with three timeouts, so you’re thinking they can get it back, Damien Williams of the Chiefs went 38 for the clinching touchdown, final score 31-20.
The football world is happy for coach Andy Reid, one of the most popular figures in the NFL. And the legend of Patrick Mahomes grows further with the ultimate triumph.
--Lamar Jackson was named the NFL’s most valuable player Saturday, becoming the first Ravens player to win the honor and capping a stunning first full season as their starter. Jackson also became the second player to be a unanimous MVP choice by the media members designated by the Associated Press to vote for the award. He joined Tom Brady, a unanimous MVP in the 2010 season. [That was the year Brady threw 36 touchdown passes with just four interceptions, leading the Pats to a 14-2 record, only to lose to the Jets in the first round. J-E-T-S...Jets! Jets! Jets!]
But Lamar Jackson now has to deal with an 0-2 playoff record and there is going to be immense pressure on him and Baltimore to at least get to the Super Bowl next season.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was named NFL’s coach of the year, a regular season award picked before the Ravens’ playoff collapse.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was named the league’s defensive player of the year.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was chosen as offensive player of the year after setting a single-season league record with 149 catches.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who helped the Titans to the AFC championship game after being obtained in a trade with Miami, was selected comeback player of the year.
Nick Bosa of the 49ers was defensive rookie of the year, Arizona QB Kyler Murray offensive ROY.
--Over the weekend, the Pro Football Hall of Fame named its Class of 2020: Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, former Broncos safety Steve Atwater, former Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce, former Seahawks/Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson and former Colts running back Edgerrin James.
The five go in with former coach Bill Cowher and safety Donnie Shell, previously named as part of the Hall’s Centennial Class last month.
I have to admit, regarding the selection of James, I’m kind of like, ‘Eh.’ His 4.0 yards per carry average is far from impressive. [3.9 in 13 playoff games.]
On the other hand, Isaac Bruce is most deserving, let alone the others.
--The NFL and the Players Association are close to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, but one critical issue remains. The league and owners want a 17th regular season game, the players don’t.
The current CBA expires after the 2020 season.
--I’ve written of this a few times before, but I was reading a piece by Howard Balzer of USA TODAY Sports on past Super Bowls, and the story behind Super Bowl I and Max McGee is always worthy of retelling.
“The night before the game, 34-year-old Packers wide receiver Max McGee, who had just four receptions all season and didn’t expect to play, emphatically broke curfew by returning to the team hotel at 6:30 a.m. after spending the night with two flight attendants he met.
“ ‘I could barely stand up for the kickoff,’ McGee said.
“He told fellow receiver Boyd Dowler, ‘I hope you don’t get hurt. I’m not in very good shape.’
“Well, Dowler reinjured his shoulder on the third play, and McGee entered the game with a borrowed helmet. All he did was score the first touchdown in Super Bowl history on a first-quarter, 37-yard play, added a 13-yard score in the third quarter and finished the game with seven receptions for 138 yards.”
Some games of note since last chat....
--Wednesday, 10 Seton Hall and DePaul staged one of the worst displays of college hoops in recent memory, the Pirates prevailing 64-57 as each team committed 20 turnovers! They were also a combined 10 of 41 from three.
--Thursday, 20 Colorado lost on the road to UCLA, 72-68, falling to 16-5, 5-3; the Bruins just 11-10, 4-4.
--But Saturday, Colorado, continuing its Los Angeles foray, whipped a solid USC team 78-57, the Trojans 17-5, 6-3. So the Buffaloes will remain in the top 25.
Seton Hall, however, should fall a few notches after a second horrendous display, losing at home to Xavier (14-8, 3-6) 74-62, The Hall suffering its first Big East loss, 16-5, 8-1.
The thing is, the Pirates have played two awful games despite the fact their second-best player, Sandro Mamukelashvili, is back from injury. Yes, the chemistry has been disrupted.
There was simply no fight in coach Kevin Willard’s team as Xavier outrebounded them by a staggering 51-22! Plus the Pirates lost critical point guard Quincy McKnight to a knee injury, though initial indications are it was ‘just’ a sprain. Nonetheless, he is likely to be out a spell.
Lots of college teams go through slumps in February, which is like the dog days of August in baseball, but it’s this last month where you build your case for seeding in March.
Meanwhile, no titanic upsets yesterday, though 2 Gonzaga will lose a few votes vs. 1 Baylor after a hardly impressive 83-79 win over San Francisco. [Baylor whipped TCU 68-52.]
The only upset in the top ten, if you want to call it that, was Creighton’s 76-61 win over 8 Villanova, the Wildcats falling to 17-4, 7-2; the Bluejays 17-5, 6-3, and probably top 25 bound.
9 Duke (18-3, 8-2) had a good 97-88 win at surging Syracuse (13-9, 6-5) as freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. had 26 points and 17 rebounds.
11 Oregon fell to 18-5, 7-3, with a 70-60 road loss at Stanford (16-5, 5-3).
25 Rutgers (16-6, 7-4) will fall out of the top 25 after a 69-63 loss to Michigan (13-8, 4-6) at Madison Square Garden.
4 San Diego State retired Kawhi Leonard’s number and then the Aztecs rallied for an 80-68 win over Utah State (17-7, 6-5) as SDSU remained perfect, 23-0, 12-0. They keep answering every call.
Two others...Boston College (11-11, 5-6) beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 71-70, in a game with a controversial ending, perhaps a bad call, Roy Williams’ boys now 10-11, 3-7!, though at least Cole Anthony returned, scoring 26 points in 26 minutes. It’s still not out of the realm of possibility that UNC could make a run in the ACC tournament if they figure it out.
And my Wake Forest Demon Deacons finally got win No. 3 in the ACC, 56-44 over Clemson at home, a true horror show to watch, as I did; the Tigers (11-10, 5-6) shooting just 30.5% from the field, the Deacs (10-11, 3-8) only 34.5%. But at least we got key performer Chaundee Brown back after he missed seven games due to his latest injury.
--Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“Through the blackness, there appeared shouts of light.
“ ‘Ko-be! Ko-be!’ the crowd chanted in a darkened Staples Center. ‘Gi-gi! Gi-gi!’
“Through the bleakness, there appeared a voice of hope.
“ ‘I want to...continue his legacy...because that’s what Kobe Bryant would have wanted,’ LeBron James announced.
“Amid the wake, there was an awakening, as the Lakers both mourned loss and celebrated life Friday in an extraordinary show of fortitude and family....
“Nobody is going to remember the 127-119 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, but nobody will forget how a franchise linked arms with a mourning city and helped guide it on the first steps out of a nightmare.
“It was Usher singing ‘Amazing Grace’ and James showing amazing grace. It was Ben Hong playing ‘Hallelujah’ on the cello while Bryant’s highlight video replayed countless angelic leaps.
“It was tears during a 24.2 second moment of silent – 24 was Bryant’s number, 2 was Gigi’s youth basketball number – followed by wild cheers when every Lakers starter was introduced as if he were Bryant.
“ ‘At one forward, No. 24, 6-6, 20th year, from Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant!’ longtime public address announcer Lawrence Tanter intoned, again and again and again and again and again.
“The crowd roared louder with each similar introduction. By the end they were cheering louder than perhaps anybody has cheered for anything in this town for the last week. It felt cathartic. It felt cleansing. It felt as if the ever-resilient Kobe Bryant would have slyly grinned, then approved....
“For 20 years and five NBA titles, Staples was his house, and to think he’ll never step inside again still drains a bit of the soul....
“ ‘To be honest, you wake up in the morning and say, ‘I can’t believe this has happened,’’ Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. ‘There is still an element of shock, for sure.’”
The company that owns the helicopter carrying Kobe, his daughter and seven others when it crashed was not licensed to fly in foggy conditions, officials say.
Island Express Helicopters was limited to operating when the pilot was able to see clearly when flying.
The pilot reportedly had the federal certification to fly the helicopter relying on cockpit instruments.
However, experts say he is likely to have had little experience in doing so, due to him being restricted by the company’s licensing.
--Friday night, the Nets’ Kyrie Irving, channeling his friend Kobe, went off for 54 points on spectacular 19 of 23 shooting from the field, 7 of 9 from three, as the Nets defeated the Bulls 133-118.
But then Saturday, Irving twisted his knee in a gruesome looking tie-up, a 113-107 loss at Washington, though supposedly it’s only a sprain.
--The Astros hired Dusty Baker to be their new manager. Owner Jim Crane said: “Throughout his successful career, Dusty has embodied the qualities that we were looking for in a manager. He’s a winner, and more importantly, a strong leader who has earned the respect of not only his players, but of virtually everyone that he has touched in baseball. We’re extremely excited to name Dusty as the new leader of our ballclub.”
At 70, Baker is the oldest manager in the major leagues, though he’s younger than Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders...just sayin’.
Baker ranks 15th in career wins with a 1,863-1,636 record over 22 seasons. He guided the Giants to the NL pennant in 2002, and is a three-time NL Manager of the Year.
Houston had to make this move following the firing of manager AJ Hinch. Baker has the credibility that the Astros overall are desperately in need of.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox still haven’t picked a manager to replace the fired Alex Cora. Ah, Boston? We’re less than ten days from pitchers and catchers.
--Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant lost his grievance against the club to become a free agent after this upcoming season, which increases his potential return in a trade scenario.
Now, interested teams will likely be willing to part with greater assets since Bryant will be under contract through 2021.
Bryant, in five seasons, is a three-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and league MVP (2016). But his grievance was over his not making the roster out of spring training in his 2015 rookie season, when he instead started the year at Triple-A, which gave the Cubs another year of team control. It was literally just one day of service that was the difference and Bryant obviously had a point.
But rules are rules, boys and girls. Needless to say, though, the two sides don’t like each other a helluva lot these days.
The decision against Bryant, however, is a biggie for the players union and will be a focus of the looming new CBA negotiations.
--Shu, great memories of your summers in Mt. Pleasant, PA, and the Pirates games. I, too, remember the Doughboy statue. But I understand you gotta be all in with the D’Backs these days.
--American Sofia Kenin, who earlier had defeated Coca Gauff, became the youngest Australian Open champion in 12 years on Saturday, beating Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to claim her first Grand Slam title.
At 21 years and 80 days, Kenin is 22 days younger than Naomi Osaka was when she won the title last year. In the previous Grand Slam tournament, last year’s U.S. Open, the champion was 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu. The youngest champion in Melbourne before Kenin was a 20-yeare-old Maria Sharapova.
Kenin’s path to stardom is similar to Sharapova’s. Her parents first moved to the United States from Russia in 1987, but traveled back to Moscow for Sofia’s birth so they could have the support of their extended family.
The Kenins returned to the U.S. soon thereafter and it was nothing but tennis for the girl, her father being Sofia’s coach.
Monday, Kenin will become the top-ranked American woman in the world rankings, passing Serena Williams and reaching No. 7. She will be the youngest American to debut in the top 10 since Williams in 1999.
The Kenin-Muguruza matchup was the fourth consecutive women’s Grand Slam final without a top-five player. Kenin is the eighth first-time champion in the last 12 women’s Grand Slam events as well.
Kenin, seeded 14th, had defeated top-seeded Ashleigh Barty to get to the finals, deflating the hopes of Australians who had banked on Barty to become the country’s first homegrown singles champion since 1978.
--On the men’s side...Novak Djokovic did it again, a record-extending eighth Australian Open title, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 over young Austrian Dominic Thiem on Sunday.
The victory is Djokovic’s 17th major title, placing him just two behind Rafael Nadal and three behind Roger Federer, the record holder whom Djokovic dismissed in straight sets to get to the final.
Thiem had defeated Nadal in the quarterfinals and then Alexander Zverev in the semis, but he’s now 0-3 in Grand Slam finals.
Lastly, congratulations to the Aussies for getting this tournament in, with all the doubts in the weeks leading up to it given the serious wildfire issues in the area.
--Wake Forest’s Webb Simpson captured his sixth career PGA Tour title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open; Simpson with a clutch birdie putt on 18 to force a playoff with Tony Finau, who seemed destined on the tee to win his 2nd career event, but he didn’t, and then Simpson won it on the first hole of sudden death.
It’s said after every tournament that the winner, so-and-so, could be headed for far greater things...that it’s a launching pad for Mr. X’s career...and you could say that about Simpson, who has become one of the top 20 players in the world, like 16, 11 and 17 the last three years in the FedEx Cup points race.
But Tony Finau, as every golf fan knows, needs to start closing the deal! He had this one in the bag. One career win for a guy who is consistently in the top 20, or better? C’mon, Tony...like the last two years he was No. 7 and 6 on the points list....but with no wins.
Finau’s only win, despite all his excellence, was an opposite-field event, the Puerto Rico Open.
We love the guy....but Tony, you’ve got to get it done.
--Jordan Spieth missed another cut in Scottsdale, continuing a streak that has him plunging down the world rankings, just one top-5 finish since the 2018 Masters. It’s a funny, often depressing game for these independent contractors, who are mostly alone in their thoughts, never knowing when the demons will emerge.
--Wednesday, Liverpool finally made up the game it had in hand, and picked up another win, 2-0 at West Ham.
--Saturday, Liverpool did it again, 4-0 over Southampton. Leicester City and Chelsea played to a 2-2 draw, and Manchester United and Wolverhampton were 0-0.
--But today, kind of out of nowhere, my Tottenham Spurs had a huge 2-0 home win over Manchester City, newbie Steven Bergwijn, in his debut for the Spurs after being acquired from PSV Eindhoven, scoring the first goal and just like that, Tottenham is for real back in the Champions League conversation.
Standings after 25 of 38
1. Liverpool... 73 points (24-1-0...W-D-L)...beyond staggering
2. Man City...51
7. Man U...35
All the clubs get a week off in the next two, but looking ahead, Feb. 22 is the season for the Spurs as they travel to Chelsea.
--The incredible Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals went into today’s game against Pittsburgh with 11 goals in his last five games, two on Friday against the Ottawa Senators, Nos. 694 and 695 of his career, to move past Mark Messier for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time list. Next up is Mike Gartner at 708.
But Ovechkin was held scoreless this afternoon, the Capitals losing to the Penguins 4-3 in a highly entertaining contest, especially the last ten minutes.
--I’ve been commenting on the Tokyo Olympics in that other column I do, the world not seeming to focus on the fact the Games begin July 24 and we have this little issue of coronavirus that, instead of slowing down and petering out as most of these viruses do, is speeding up.
But let’s assume the Games are held as expected. Nike’s controversial high-tech Vaporfly sneakers will be allowed.
Track and field’s world governing body on Friday moved to curb the future escalation of running-show technology pioneered by Nike, saying the group’s experts found the technology may provide a performance advantage and threaten the integrity of the sport.
The new regulations issued by World Athletics, formerly the IAAf, would restrict the thickness of a shoe’s sold to a limit of 40 millimeters, which is greater than the current Vaporfly shoes, which have a 36-millimeter sole.
The key is the rules stipulate that, starting on April 30, any shoe used in elite competition must have been available for purchase on the open retail market for four months, which prohibits possible emerging technologies from competing brands, racing to compete with Nike.
Ergo, Nike’s shoe will still be allowed in Tokyo.
World Athletics also said this week that records set using Nike Vaporflys, such as the men’s and women’s marathon records established in the last year or so, will stand because they were “achieved under the rules that were in force at the time.”
Nike-funded research has found that the shoes can reduced a runner’s energy cost and thus improve efficiency by up to 4.2%.
--We note the passing of comedian Jack Burns, 86. Burns was half of the one of the best-known comedy teams of the 1960s and’70s, Burns and Schreiber.
Burns had a brief but successful stint as a partner of George Carlin, and after his long and fruitful partnership with Avery Schreiber ended, he went on to produce “The Muppet Show,” writing about two dozen episodes.
Burns also wrote for variety shows like “Hee Haw” and comedy specials starring Flip Wilson and Paul Lynde.
But it was Burns and Schreiber that cemented his fame. The duo was a staple of “The Ed Sullivan Show,” for one, and their routines were flecked with social satire, terrific timing and rapid-fire repartee, exemplified by their signature “yeah/huh?/yeah/huh?” bantering.
Burns was the know-it-all, playing off Schreiber’s low-key character.
Burns explained in a 2002 interview with the Los Angeles Times: “He was Jewish. I was Irish. He was mellow and sweet and optimistic, and I was angry and cynical and pessimistic.”
George Carlin said in his autobiography, “Last Words”: “These two guys would talk together for hours. They were great characters for saying things you weren’t quite willing to say yourself.”
--Finally, us local Oldies music radio listeners are in mourning over the passing of the great Harry Harrison, 89.
Harrison, the “Morning Mayor of New York,” was a fixture in the 1960s and beyond, first as a WMCA Good Guy and then a WABC All-American – the team names adopted by the stations that were competing for audience share, particularly with the advent of the Beatles and the British Invasion. The DJs became huge local figures (as others did in big markets all over the country).
Eventually, Harry Harrison became the morning drive-time host for WCBS-FM, 101.1, until he retired from full-time broadcasting in 2003.
As Sam Roberts noted in the New York Times:
“While some of his contemporaries harangued or interrupted guests or gratingly volunteered their opinions, Mr. Harrison would wake New Yorkers ‘as gently as a whiff of fresh-brewed coffee,’ the entertainment reporter David Hinckley wrote on medium.com.
“What distinguished Mr. Harrison in the highly competitive New York metropolitan market – even before the advent of shock jocks – was his folksy Midwest patter.
“He would eclectically intersperse Beatles tracks with birthday greetings and listeners’ nominations for a ‘Housewife Hall of Fame.’ He would deliver bromides like, ‘Stay well, stay happy, stay right there’’ and ‘Every day should be unwrapped like a precious gift...that’s why they call it the Present.’ As his signoff would say, ‘Wishing you the best – that's exactly what you do deserve.’”
A lot of what Harry Harrison said was indeed corny, but it was authentic. He was just a good guy. For years, both as a kid, and then after I got out of college, Harrison was more often than not what I woke up to, though I later divided my morning radio time with Don Imus.
Once Harrison retired, though, WCBS-FM just wasn’t the same and then the station stupidly went to a format that is unlistenable to me today. Of course in the meantime, Sirius-XM came along and the 60s channel is a fixture, plus we are lucky here to have a super AM station, WMTR-1250, that has stayed true to its rock and roll roots.
Harrison started out in the radio business in Peoria, and soon word of his success spread to New York, where WMCA recruited him to help fill a lineup going up against goliath WABC.
Then in 1968, WABC got Harrison to jump ship, and Harry joined the likes of Charlie Greer, Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy, Bruce Morrow and Scott Muni.
Eventually, Harrison ended up at WCBS in 1979, joined by Ingram, Lundy, and Cousin Brucie, as that station took over the Oldies mantel.
In 1997, Harrison was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
But you should know Harry Harrison for his holiday season version of “May You Always,” a Top-20 hit written by Larry Marks and Dick Charles and recorded by the McGuire Sisters, that I feature each year as part of my Bar Chat Christmas Special.
And sometimes soon, may you be waved to by a celebrity,
Wagged at by a puppy,
Run to by a happy child,
And counted on by someone you love.
More than this, no one can wish you.
Top 3 songs for the week 2/4/67: #1 “I’m A Believer” (The Monkees) #2 “Georgy Girl” (The Seekers) #3 “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” (The Royal Guardsmen)...and...#4 “Tell It Like It Is” (Aaron Neville) #5 “Kind Of A Drag” (The Buckinghams) #6 “Words Of Love” (The Mamas & The Papas) #7 “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” (Blues Magoos) #8 “98.6” (Keith) #9 “Good Thing” (Paul Revere & The Raiders) #10 “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” (Four Tops... outstanding week, ‘A’...and another reason why 1967 was the best year for Rock and Roll...followed by 1965...)
NFL Hall of Fame Quiz: Joe Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame joins six other NFL HOFers who are enshrined in other sports Halls of Fame.
Jim Brown – U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Bob Hayes – USA Track and Field and U.S. Olympic Halls of Fame
Cal Hubbard – Baseball Hall of Fame
Lamar Hunt – Tennis Hall of Fame
Bronko Nagurski – National Wrestling Hall of Fame
Jim Thorpe – USA Track and Field and U.S. Olympic Halls of Fame
Cal Hubbard was one of the early pioneers of the NFL, playing most of his years with Green Bay, where he was a lineman and one of the inventors of the linebacker position. He then went on to become a major league umpire.
Joe Gibbs’ racing team has five Cup Series championships with three drivers: Bobby Labonte (2000,) Tony Stewart (2002, ‘05) and Kyle Busch (2015, ‘19). He also has three Daytona 500 victories and five Brickyard 400 wins.
Gibbs’ Redskins teams won three Super Bowls.
Gibbs said the other day, “One thing I’ve learned in life: You always want to be in team sports because then it’s not so obvious if you’re a horrible athlete. And I was a horrible athlete!”
But he had a gift for coaxing the best out of others.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday.