College football’s recent National Letter of Intent Day has become a major media event.
The high school athletes hold press conferences for one of the most memorable days of their lives as they announce where they’re signing and the media grades the recruiting classes of the colleges.
But before the high school seniors head off to college, they and their parents should read a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Mike McIntire entitled, “Champions Way: Football, Florida and the Lost Soul of College Sports.’’
The book chronicles how many of the athletes are exploited, funneled into no-show classes and often leaving school without a degree or a future in pro football.
And the football program – supported by free-spending boosters — often seems bigger than the university.
Continue reading “Riveting new book further exposes the seedy underbelly of college football”
Is this the way a sports dynasty sometimes ends?
Not with a bang, but a whimper, a victim of too many self inflicted wounds.
We now wonder if this is where the New England Patriots are after their Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Are they the victims of too much hubris, too much believing “The Patriot Way” is infallible, too much believing in one man having all the answers?
Is The Patriot Way still the right way? Will they make another Super Bowl?
Continue reading “Is this the beginning of the end for the Patriots?”
With 16 seconds left in the famed Ice Bowl in 1967 and trailing the Dallas Cowboys by a field goal, the Green Bay Packers called their final timeout and Bart Starr went to the sidelines to talk to coach Vince Lombardi.
The two men weren’t wired, but Starr has retold the story of that conversation many times.
The Packers had failed on two runs to get in the end zone, and Starr told Lombardi the runners were slipping on the ice and he thought a better option was for him to run a quarterback sneak because he could get better footing.
Lombardi said something like, “Ok, let’s run it and get the hell out of here.’’
Behind blocks by Jerry Kramer and Ken Bowman (who never got the credit he should have on the play), Starr went under the Dallas lineman and scored the winning touchdown. Two weeks later, the Packers won their second Super Bowl and fifth NFL title.
Continue reading “Foles’ big moment evokes memories of Bart Starr’s iconic Ice Bowl play”
My eight takes on the eighth Super Bowl for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady:
1. Belichick’s decision to bench Malcolm Butler got most of the attention as the New England Patriots defense was shredded by the Philadelphia Eagles. But it obscured the fact that the Patriots defense wasn’t very good all year, even with Butler. It ranked 30th in pass defense and 29th in yards allowed. If not for Brady carrying the team and the Patriots playing in a weak AFC, it might have caught up with them before the Super Bowl. And who is responsible for putting such a bad defense on the field? Obviously, Bill Belichick, who makes all the decisions. Belichick the personnel guy hasn’t gotten enough good players on defense for Belichick the coach.
Continue reading “Eight takeaways from the eighth Belichick-Brady Super Bowl”
One of the more interesting matchups in this Super Bowl is between the two fan bases.
Even though Philadelphia and Boston are both Eastern seaboard cities with a rich history in the founding of the country, they have very different histories when it comes to football.
Starting with their names. The Eagles aren’t the Eastern Pennsylvania Eagles. They’re Philadelphia to the core.
Boston changed its name to New England in 1971 to try to become a regional team the year they opened the stadium in Foxboro.
And then there’s the stadiums. Philadelphia’s stadium is in the city of Philadelphia. The Patriots could never get Boston to build a stadium so the Sullivan family built a 60,000 seat metal bench stadium in Foxboro for $6 million in 1971.
Continue reading “Even a Super Bowl loss won’t tame the white-hot devotion of Eagles fans”
Doug Pederson is just in his second year as the Philadelphia Eagles’ coach, but he’s about to coach what could be a career-defining moment for him this Sunday.
He’s going to become the seventh coach to face Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl.
One of them, Tom Coughlin, beat Belichick twice as the New York Giants’ coach, but the other five not only lost, they made coaching gaffes that helped contribute to their team’s losses.
Now it’s Pederson’s chance to see if he can beat the New England Patriots with Nick Foles as his quarterback.
If he is to pull it off, Pederson has to avoid the types of mistakes made by the coaches who’ve lost to Belichick in the Super Bowl.
Continue reading “Pederson must avoid gaffes that have cost so many Belichick Super Bowl foes”
So where do the Jacksonville Jaguars go from here?
Despite the heartbreaking defeat in New England, they had a magical season that energized the fan base, will sell a lot of tickets and sent a message that they should be a contender the next three or four years.
But that same frustrating loss to the Patriots also revealed a hard truth about this team.
Namely that while Blake Bortles probably played well enough to convince the Jaguars to bring him back at $19 million, the odds are against them winning a Super Bowl with him at quarterback.
The top priority for the franchise has to be to find their long term answer at quarterback if they want to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Jacksonville. Bortles improved this year, but remains too inconsistent to reach elite status.
Continue reading “Jaguars won’t be Super Bowl-ready until they move on from Bortles”