Tag Archives: AFC

You go, Marcus and the Titans!

There once was a time when I despised the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League.

You see, they once were known as the Houston Oilers. Then the Oilers’ owner, Bud Adams, decided he wanted a nicer place to play his home football games. The Astrodome — the former Eighth Wonder of the World — wasn’t good enough for him, so he packed his team up and moved to Nashville.

I lived with my family for 11 years in Beaumont and I became a fairly diehard Oilers fan. I hated the Titans for quite some time.

Then they did something rather cool. The Titans drafted a young quarterback out of the University of Oregon. Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy playing QB for the Ducks, which happen to be my favorite college football team; I am a native of Oregon, which you might already know.

With that draft pick, the Titans elevated themselves from the hated to the revered. Just … like … that.

Last night, I watched Mariota perform some gridiron magic that made me proud to call this former Duck one of my homeys.

The Titans trailed the Kansas City Chiefs by 21-3 at halftime of their American Football Conference wild card playoff game. The teams took the field in the second half and Mariota then demonstrated why he is considered the Titans’ “franchise quarterback.”

From from the Chiefs’ 6-yard line, Mariota tossed a pass, which got deflected and caught the pass himself — and then he dived into the end zone for another touchdown. Mariota to Mariota! Then he fired a 22-yard touchdown pass.

Late in the game, Mariota handed the ball off to another Heisman winner, Derrick Henry, who scampered around the left end — and got a decisive block from none other than … Marcus Mariota. Quarterbacks don’t usually throw their bodies at defensive players, let alone brutish linebackers.

The Titans won the football game 22-21.

I am a happy Titans fan today.

Well done, Marcus. You made this native Oregonian might proud.

Getting ready for the Big Game

A young colleague of mine told me today he is going to Houston this weekend. He’s going to attend a football game: the Super Bowl.

My friend is a diehard, true-blue, dedicated fan of the New England Patriots, who will face off Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Our brief conversation prompts me to offer this off-kilter perspective on the game that’s about to overwhelm us. It is this:

I have no particular allegiance to a team. My preference is for the conference. The National Football League comprises two conferences: American and National.

Going back many decades, I have long been an American Football Conference fan. My reasons are weird. Perhaps there are others out there who share my loyalty to the AFC.

It goes back to the American Football League. The AFL came into being in 1960. I was intrigued that a brand new pro football league would challenge the NFL. AFL teams played an exciting brand of football. They scored a lot of points; they played initially before sparse crowds; yet they had some talented players engaging in some tackle football.

Then in 1966, the NFL and the AFL agreed to merge. It would occur at the start of the 1970 season. Before the merger took effect, the AFL played the NFL in a championship game. The Green Bay Packers won the first two of those games in 1967 and 1968. Then in 1969, the AFL’s New York Jets — led by quarterback Joe Willie Namath — surprised the sporting world by defeating the Baltimore Colts; the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL battered the Minnesota Vikings in the following year’s championship game.

Then the leagues merged. My loyalty to the AFL was watered down somewhat when three NFL teams joined the AFC. They were: the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts, the Cleveland Browns (now known as the Baltimore Ravens) and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thus, my AFL loyalty was watered down somewhat by the presence of these old NFL teams playing in the same conference as the new teams.

But my AFC loyalty has remained strong. It has presented a struggle for me when the Steelers, Ravens and Colts have represented the AFC in Super Bowls. I continue to this day to root for teams that are held over from the old AFL … such as, oh, the New England Patriots.

I’ll root for the Patriots on Sunday, not so much because of the guys who play for them, or the fellow who coaches them. I shall root for them chiefly because of their origin as one of the founding franchises in the American Football League.

My young friend who’ll be somewhere in that Houston stadium cheering his lungs out Sunday for the Pats wasn’t even born when the leagues merged. He’s entitled to root for his team.

I’ll cheer for the league from which they came.

Go Pats!

A shout-out to two backup QBs

Tom Brady is basking in the glory tonight. Good for him. He gets to play in Super Bowl LI … that’s No. 51.

But wait a second, OK? The New England Patriots stud quarterback, who won the most valuable player award for tonight’s AFC championship game victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, ought to share the spotlight with a couple of young men who haven’t gotten so much as a mention tonight.

They would be Jimmy Garoppolo (pictured) and Jacoby Brissett.

Who are these fellows? They’re the backup quarterbacks who led the Patriots to a 3-1 start for the NFL season — while Brady was serving a four-game suspension over that infamous “Deflategate” controversy in 2015.

If the Patriots had floundered and flailed at the start of the season, they wouldn’t have been in position to earn home-field advantage in the playoffs, which well could have helped them defeat the Steelers tonight. Suppose, too, they had lost, say, another game or two to start the season. They might have become so dispirited that their fortunes the rest of the way could have turned out quite differently.

But they kept their poise in Brady’s absence. Garoppolo and Brissett held the team together while Brady watched. Then the Big Man returned and picked up where the backups left off.

I will tip my proverbial hat to Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, even if no one else is giving them the props they deserve.

It all came down to one great football game

The hype didn’t matter. The controversy was reduced to a bit player. The TV commercials were amusing, more or less.

What actually mattered to real football fans Sunday night was that two very good professional teams played their guts out and produced a game worthy of the name — Super Bowl.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/new-england-patriots-at-seattle-seahawks/game-center/sp-id-10401000001421883

The New England Patriots emerged victorious over the defending National Football League champion Seattle Seahawks. The game’s outstanding player, Patriot quarterback Tom Brady, simply cemented his place — as if it needed cementing — in pro football’s Hall of Fame, whenever he becomes eligible.

The so-called “Deflate-gate” kerfuffle that erupted after the Patriots won the AFC championship still hangs out there, somewhere. The NFL is going to investigate it. Perhaps the league will determine who took the air out of those footballs to make them more catchable for Brady’s receivers and running backs. It didn’t matter for this game. The principal Patriots — starting with head coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady — say they didn’t tamper with the footballs. They’ve said so categorically and unequivocally. End of story? Not quite.

The better team on Sunday won the Big Game.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t a blowout, or that it ended with a questionable officiating call on the field. A blowout would have reduced the TV announcers to blathering on and about the deflated football matter. A questionable call would have detracted from the game being played.

Instead, we got a great football game to end a wild and topsy-turvy season.

That’s how it’s supposed to go.

'Deflate-gate' turns into media monster

How is it that some stories that seem relatively inconsequential at the beginning turn into major headline events and the top subject of every cable news-talk show in America?

Welcome to the era of “Deflate-gate.” Good bleeping grief!

http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/12212777/tom-brady-new-england-patriots-says-alter-footballs

New England Patriots head football coach Bill Belichik has issued a oh-so-precise denial of any wrongdoing. He says he did not know of the dozen footballs assigned for his team’s use being tampered with, or know who might have deflated the balls to make them more catchable.

OK. What about the quarterback, Tom Brady? What did he know and when did he know it? Brady says he knows nothing about any funny business prior to — or during — the Patriots’ 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC championship and a trip to the Super Bowl to play the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. It’s been kind of fun listening to the sports talking heads come up with different analogies to describe how badly the Patriots beat the Colts. “They could have beaten them throwing … ” oh, beach balls, water balloons, Frisbees, whatever.

All these denials, buck-passing and admissions of ignorance are simply fueling speculation that someone — the coach, the QB, the equipment manager, the center, the officiating crew — knows something that they aren’t revealing.

Brady said something Thursday about how much air pressure he prefers to have in the football he throws. No word, yet, about the PSI preferences of Russell Wilson, the Seattle quarterback.

Here’ a thought. Why not simply require the National Football League to inflate every football to precisely the same air pressure, give each team their allotted number of game balls — just before they take the field for their pre-game drills — and tell the players, “All right fellas, here are the balls. Go out there, play your guts out and may be the better team win”?

Do not leave this matter in the hands of the principals who will play the game.

I’m beginning to sense a conspiracy theory in the making, one that will become a monster that will never die. Not ever.

Turns out Sherman isn’t such a punk after all

One week from The Big Game — aka the Super Bowl — and I’m feeling a bit embarrassed by my first reaction to a sideline rant by one of the game’s bigger stars.

Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman made a great play at the end of the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks won the game, after which commentator Erin Andrews asked Sherman to comment about his team’s big win.

Sherman then launched into a tirade against 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, against whom he made the big play. He woofed and hollered all kinds of smack against Crabtree. Andrews cut the interview short.

My thought then was: Who is this clown?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/sports/football/seahawks-richard-sherman-is-much-more-than-just-talk.html?ref=sports?src=dayp&_r=0

It turns out Richard Sherman is quite the young man.

The New York Times article attached to this blog post notes that (a) Sherman graduated second in his class at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. and (b) received a football scholarship to attend Stanford University and (c) earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and is now working on his master’s degree.

My bad for thinking ill of the young man.

Did he behave like a gentleman, a sportsman in that sideline interview? No. He got caught up in the moment, I suppose, of his team winning a game that puts them into the biggest game of the year. Adrenaline can make one say and do amazing things, which appears to be the case here.

His personal story, though, is compelling. Sherman came from a tough neighborhood. He could have fallen into the gang life. He could have made a wrong turn at many points along the way. He appears to have made many correct decisions.

Do I want this young man’s team to win the Super Bowl? Fat chance. I remain an AFC fan and will be pulling for the Denver Broncos.

I do feel better, now, for coming clean on my false first impression of a man who’s achieved many good things in his young life.