(A RARE COUNTDOWN UPDATE: Check out No. 8.5.)
If the Count is a little grouchy this morning, it’s because he spent part of Monday in a dentist chair, getting his teeth jack-hammered to make room for a crown, which I believe is the closest The Count ever will get to royalty. (Crown. Royalty. Get it? Sorry. That’s my dental humor.) Next time, I will get my dental work done in the French Quarter, where I can feel no pain. How much is New Orleans partying since winning the NFC title game? Try this? Nobody wants to leave town. Maybe not even for the game. In Miami! We count down. . . .
OK. There was some slight overstatement there. Any Saints fan who is fortunate enough to land a ticket to the Super Bowl against Indianapolis will leave town. That covers what — one out of every 297,000? But the unique thing about the Super Bowl is how many fans will go to the game just to be in that city for the day, or the weekend, or the week. That’s why the game is held in places like South Florida and not Cleveland. Notice how Atlanta hasn’t hosted a Super Bowl since the ice storm? True story: Covered a Super Bowl in Minnesota one year. Nobody went outside. Except to see the ice sculptures and that got old after 10 minutes. Everybody used those walking tubes between buildings downtown. I felt like I was in a Habitrail for eight days. My room even had one of those wheels and the maid they left carrots on my pillow. Good workout though. Anyway, back to New Orleans.
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know it’s the city of excess. Remember as a kid when everybody had a friend with the best party house? That’s like New Orleans. Except this party house is a city. So it follows that a lot of Saints fans are now faced with this dilemma: Do we stay at home and get drunk or do we go to Miami and get drunk? The New Orleans Times Picayune is even running an online poll, “New Orleans or Miami: Where would you rather be for the Super Bowl?” In a strange way, this is the worse thing that could have happened to the NFL and the South Florida Convention Bureau. Sure, the Saints getting to the game is a great story. But somebody paid good money to have people go to South Beach and spend $12 for a beer and $37.50 for a shrimp cocktail appetizer. OK, Colts fans will be there. But seriously? Who wants to party all week with people from Muncie? (Here come the emails from Muncie. Oh wait, they don’t have Internet. Never mind.)
UPDATED: BONUS COUNTDOWN ITEM
8.5. VIKINGS JUMP THE GUN
Thanks to ProFootballTalk.com for picking up on this. It seems the Minnesota Vikings were so sure they were going to win the NFC title game over the Saints that the team’s website was “updated” prematurely. No more commentary necessary. This picture tells the story.
8. It looks like somebody still has Al Groh issues
So last week, I wrote with some amusement about how jovial new Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh seemed at his introductory press conference, even cracking jokes. And I kinda speculated that his decision to take the Jackets job might have had something to do with having a chance to stick it to Virginia next season. The item apparently made the rounds up in Charlottesville. In fact, I even received an email from somebody who sent me a poem, titled, “An Ode to Al Groh,” and it began,
7. ‘Fred’ says Groh wasn’t beloved in Charlottesville (duh)
Bitter? OK, so I can tell you that this person does not want to be publicly identified. “Call me Fred,” he said. But he’s a former Virginia athletic department staff member. He confirmed what most of us already knew: That Groh was not the most popular guy on campus, particularly at the end. He was arrogant and militaristic and grumpy, just like Nick Saban, except he lost a lot of games, unlike Nick Saban. Also, he is being paid $4.33 million to not coach. Now, if you’re a Georgia Tech fan, you really don’t care about that. You just know he’s a terrific defensive coordinator. But it’s funny how one’s school’s treasure is another school’s nuclear waste. “Fred” says Groh burned a lot of bridges at Virginia. “He came in and talked the whole NFL shtick, how he worked with [Bill] Parcells and everything. He talked about playing chess when everybody else was playing checkers. Obviously, he recruited well in the beginning. But over time things changed. One year, eight of his 24 recruits didn’t get into Virginia and he complained about it publicly. That didn’t go over well.” The former official also is convinced Groh took the Tech job, “So he can stick it in Virginia’s eye.” And my guess is he will.
So I covered the Georgia-Tennessee basketball game last week and apparently I missed the big story. Some kid covered himself with peanut butter. I don’t know why he did this. Maybe it was pledging a fraternity. Maybe he didn’t have any pockets and needed a snack for the games. Maybe he’s a food sciences major. Maybe he’s just a moron. Yeah. That’s it. He’s just a moron. Wonder if he’s on the Hope scholarship? His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Skippy, must be so proud. Anyway, here’s a link if you want to read a “first-hand” account of the “Peanut Butter Kid” on Deadspin. I’ll try to be more on top of these things at the Arkansas game, when somebody covers themselves with grape jelly.
So by most accounts, Tim Tebow did a faceplant in the first day of workouts at the Senior Bowl in Birmingham. Here’s the analysis of Todd McShay from Scouts Inc.
Monday (1/25/10): Day 1 was not a good one for Tebow. The concerns we had coming in were all magnified today. He was out of rhythm, missing receivers low and high and fumbling snaps while also struggling to read defenses and use proper footwork when dropping from under center. He remained positive, though, continuing to accept coaching and showing the same leadership qualities that helped define his college career. We’ll have a keen eye on Tebow’s progress this week and whether he can correct the biggest issues surrounding his game.
Today is expected to go much better. Scout team defenders will be dressed in red and black.
Countdown disclaimer: The Count will not criticize any man for his religion, political beliefs or blood type. But when The Count watches Super Bowl commercials, he wants to see funny babies giving stock tips for E*Trade, Mean Joe Greene throwing a kid his smelly football jersey for Coke, and a hot Miss USA, Ali Landry, catching Doritos in her mouth in a laundry mat (see video below). Do you know what the Count doesn’t want to see? “Issue-oriented” ads. It’s Super Bowl Sunday. The only issue I want to deal with is replenishing the queso dip. Are you listening Tim Tebow?
Disclaimer II: I am NOT taking a public stance on this issue. Again: I am NOT taking a public stance on this issue. (Somehow I don’t sense that’s going to stop the “left-wing agenda” comments.) But do we really want to start seeing anti-abortion/pro life messages on Super Bowl Sunday? A national coalition of women’s groups is putting pressuring on CBS to scrap an ad with Tebow and his mother, Pam Tebow, which focuses on her pregnancy in 1987. The ad is paid for by a Christian group, “Focus on Family,” with the theme, “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” and is said to be a cleverly disguised anti-abortion/pro life ad. CBS spokesperson Dana McClintock said only that the network will ensure that any issue-oriented as is “appropriate for air.” You know what’s appropriate on Super Bowl Sunday? Beer. Chips. Football. Hotties doing their laundry. Somebody should declare Super Bowl Sunday as “National I Don’t Want To Think Day.”
You know, we here at the AJC have had our financial issues like everybody else. (I’m not supposed to say that publicly, I think, but I’m pretty sure editors only read the first few items of Countdown anyway, then look at page view totals.) But I can’t think of anybody this side of, well, the government that has blown more cash than NBC. For several years, it made the catastrophic decision to get out of the pro sports scene, particularly the NFL. Then when it got back in with Sunday night football, it hired Keith Olbermann (aaaaaaagghh!). Just recently, it gave Conan O’Brien $45 million to just leave town. (For the record, Virginia fans: That’s almost $41 million more than Al Groh.) Now this: NBC estimates it is going to lose $250 million on the upcoming Winter Olympics. That’s why parent company General Electric will be charging $237 for a toaster come March. The final crushing blow to the expected bottom line came when figure skater Sasha Cohen finished fourth in the U.S. championships, which meant the Games will not have a high-profile figure skater for women viewers and a reason for dirty old man (who comprise most of my readers) to pay attention. But the Count has another idea.
1. Maybe it’s time for another knee-capping?
The IOC needs to start getting a little more creative. When Tonya Harding hired somebody to knee-cap Nancy Kerrigan, it led to highest TV ratings in history at the 1994 Olympics. Only four TV shows topped it: Two Super Bowls, the final espisode of Mash and an episode of Roots. Now I’m not suggesting athletes start attacking each other in warmup competitions to help the Olympic movement. But I’m just sayn’. They need to shake it up a little. Nude slalom skiing, maybe? How about the bobsled through rings of fire? I’ll do my part for the television ratings. To the left is a picture of snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, who must be the best-looking thing to ever come out of Toledo, Ohio. Otherwise, here’s a nice little Tonya Harding retrospective: 1) A recap video; 2) Her celebrity boxing match with Paula Jones.