Thursday, January 22, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Grand stage set
By the time this is read, the United States will have inaugurated its 44th president and just a little less than two weeks later, the NFL will stage its 43rd Super Bowl. Both of these events are assured to capture the lion’s share of attention from all Americans. Well, most all Americans, anyway.
The grand stage has been set for both. In the former it was back in November. For the latter it was finalized at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. But before we get into the comments on the “Big Game,” it might be wise to slow down the infamous “coaching carousel” and take a quick look.
First, the hapless Detroit Lions wasted no time after their history-making, 16th-straight loss to tell their coach, who had probably seen this coming way back about the fifth loss, that his services would no longer serve the Detroit franchise. His successor was named almost immediately. A couple of names had been bandied about but Jim Schwartz was the unanimous choice. His former boss, Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans, stated that his defensive coordinator was more than ready and capable to take on such a daunting task.
Next to become an instant millionaire was Steve Spagnuolo ( he was also mentioned for the Detroit job), tapped to shepherd the faltering St. Louis Rams. Spagnuolo was defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Perhaps the quickest decision made was by the Tampa Bay Bucks. They terminated former Super Bowl winner Jon Gruden on Friday and announced Raheem Morris as the new head coach on Saturday evening. Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders is still searching. What about you, Mr. (Jerry) Jones? Still sticking with your season-ending desire to retain and not fire and hire?
The decision of owners to go “defensive” in new hires might be a solid choice. Defense played a great part in both conference championships on Sunday. The Arizona Cardinals were definitely the “if” team in the NFC. They were 3.5 below the Eagles in odds. They never showed any fear of the Eagles and will now play for their first NFL title since 1948 (they won last in ’47). If you are an underdog lover you have to love these Cardinals. Ironically, their QB, Kurt Warner, won his Super Bowl jewelry at St. Louis, and Warner hit the scene about 10 years after the Cardinals left for Arizona.
And for all of you who have been telling me that the Steelers were back, you are vindicated. They, however, were six-point odds favorites over the Ravens. Now these winners will face each other on February 1 at Tampa. Both have new coaches (two years).
Depending on who was asked last week, there were all kinds of answers about who would ultimately win the “Big One.” Probably the most diverse predictions came from Fred and Neil (Carlisle). Neil said he was leaning toward the Cardinals because he liked the way they were performing in the playoffs. Fred said he was picking the Steelers because Terry Bradshaw selected them. And Fred went on to add that he and Bradshaw shared the same haircut.
Guys, you were both right. For now.
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