Archive for January, 2010

Tuesday Countdown: Fans, enemies, Peanut Dawg, Tebow (UPDATED)

The Count is having dental issues.

The Count has crown issues.

(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. . . .

10. What street in Miami is better than Bourbon St.?

035713_NFC_Championship_Foo

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 …

Continue reading Tuesday Countdown: Fans, enemies, Peanut Dawg, Tebow (UPDATED) »

Favre’s retirement could open door for Vick to Vikings

favretears

If Brett Favre decides to walk away again …

040009_SPORTS_FBN-EAGLES-CO

… Michael Vick (or Donovan McNabb) may walk in.

Brett Favre is pondering retirement again, and for all we know that pondering might extend through the winter, through the spring, past the draft, past free agency and into summer and the start of training camp.

Should he step away (again) — and there are indications he will — don’t be surprised if the name Michael Vick comes up as a possible replacement.

Let’s start with Favre. Earlier in the postseason, he told ESPN’s Ed Werder,  “If you win, you go on. If you lose, you’re done, and for me, that could very well be my last game.” And just this morning, my pal Adam Schefter of the same network sent this on Twitter: “Let this be the first of hopefully very few Favre-Watch updates: Favre told ESPN’s Ed Werder it was ‘highly unlikely’ he’d play again.”

I know. We can’t know because even Favre doesn’t know, and even if Favre knows something at lunch, he may change his mind at dinner. …

Continue reading Favre’s retirement could open door for Vick to Vikings »

Falcons fans: Are you rooting for or against the Saints?

The Falcons have been going against the Saints forever. So should Falcons fans be pulling for Indianapolis?

The Falcons have been going against the Saints forever. So should Falcons fans be pulling for Indianapolis? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Had an interesting exchange last night with Falcons coach Mike Smith, when I spoke to him about two conference championship games. At one point, I asked Smith if he had any feelings about the New Orleans franchise finally making it to the Super Bowl.

“No, not really,” Smith said.

So the whole thing about the tormented franchise . . .

“No.”

This wasn’t surprising, I suppose. Smith coaches the Falcons. Football coaches don’t get emotional about other team’s conquests, particularly when the other team is a division rival. (The Falcons lost two close meetings this season). But I was wondering: How do Falcons fans feel about this?

In the live blog off championship Sunday, several Falcons fans chimed in, saying no true Falcons fan should be pulling for the Saints. Maybe because I didn’t grow up here, I can’t relate to the hate in the rivalry. Plus, I’ve …

Continue reading Falcons fans: Are you rooting for or against the Saints? »

Super Bowl: Colts vs. Saints, Manning vs. Brees is historic

The NFC championship Sunday and the Super Bowl berth that goes with it was a long time coming for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

The NFC title win over Minnesota Sunday and the Super Bowl berth that goes with it was a long time coming for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. (AP photo).

This is what you wanted. Indianapolis started the season 14-0, and the Colts still might be undefeated if they didn’t place themselves in a protective bubble in the final two weeks. New Orleans started the season 13-0 and led the NFL this season in offense, points and humiliated defensive coordinators.

This is the way it’s supposed to go. The two best teams, led by the two best quarterbacks, driving two of the best offenses into the Super Bowl.

Only the coaches with a defensive pedigree will have a headache.

“It’s going to be a long week for the two defensive coordinators,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said Sunday night after watching the New Orleans Saints earn their first trip to a Super Bowl with a 31-28 overtime win over Minnesota. “They’ll be burning the midnight oil, trying to figure out how to stop the …

Continue reading Super Bowl: Colts vs. Saints, Manning vs. Brees is historic »

It’s down to Final Four, Mike Smith will break down winners

Peyton Manning faces Jets' top-ranked defense.

Peyton Manning faces the Jets' top-ranked defense.

Brett Favre will battle the noise in New Orleans.

Brett Favre will battle the noise in New Orleans

The two best Sundays of the NFL season are the first one and this one.

The first Sunday is filled with hope. Today theoretically determines the two best teams in football, with the NFC and AFC championships. Generally the games live up to the hype — unlike the Super Bowl, which too often is less entertaining than the commercials.

Both games have great story lines. In the AFC, the New York Jets haven’t lost a game since losing to the Falcons last month. (Afterward, the distraught Jets coach, Rex Ryan, said: “This obviously is t0ugh because now we’re obviously out of the playoffs, and it’s unfortunate.”) But even with the league’s No. 1 defense, it’s difficult seeing the Jets upsetting Indianapolis. Even if they slow down Peyton Manning, it’s hard to see the Colts scoring less than 20 points, or New York scoring even that many.

The NFC game is harder to call. The Minnesota Vikings …

Continue reading It’s down to Final Four, Mike Smith will break down winners »

Mark Fox’s ‘process’ at Georgia just went into high gear

Trey Thompkins (AP photo)

Trey Thompkins (21 points) and the Dogs have reached unexpected heights already (AP photo)

ATHENS – Until the tournament berths, Mark Fox sells hope. Until some of the five-star basketball recruits who have been drifting out of the state stop and think, “Wait, why not Georgia?” the Bulldogs’ new coach will talk about concepts like commitment and work ethic and building a program the right way.

And he’ll tell stories like this: “I had dinner with Ramon Sessions in the fall. He just signed a four-year, $16 million contract [with Minnesota] Here’s a guy we signed at Nevada two weeks before his freshman year. Nobody wanted him. But he turned into a great player. The key is finding players willing to commit to the process.”

But nobody could have figured the process would produce results this dramatic. Or this soon. Why not Georgia?

Midway through Fox’s first season, the Bulldogs just upset a top-10 team for the first time in six years and played before a home …

Continue reading Mark Fox’s ‘process’ at Georgia just went into high gear »

You go, Herschel! (and please do better than Canseco)

So come on -- who doesn't have abs like this at 47?

So come on — who doesn't have abs like this at 47?

Evander Holyfield is 47. He’s still climbing into a ring. He looks like a cartoon.

Herschel Walker is 47. He’s also climbing into a ring. He just looks cool.

It took a little while but I think I finally figured out the difference. Holyfield is still trying to hang on to a boxing career that has long been comatose. Walker left his career long ago. He isn’t running with a football at 47. He’s just looking for an outlet for that same competitive gene that drove him on the field.

You’ve probably heard by now that Walker will be competing in his first MMA event next Saturday in Miami. I have no problem with it whatsoever. He’s long been one of my favorite athletes, and certainly the only one who I’ve ever spoken to during three completely different vocations: 1) football player; 2) Olympic bobsledder; 3) frozen food manufacturer. (That is how you define versatility.)

Some former athletes can’t stand being off stage, and …

Continue reading You go, Herschel! (and please do better than Canseco) »

It’s the new charming Al Groh (until Virginia week)

It turns out new Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh has a sense of humor.

It turns out new Tech assistant Al Groh has a sense of humor. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Al Groh walked into his first formal meeting with the media at Georgia Tech Friday, wearing a particularly large ring on his right hand: a Super Bowl ring from his days with the New York Giants.

Was this standard accessorizing for him?

“No,” he said “Not very often. I usually just wear it for other people’s entertainment.”

Press conferences?

“No. Recruiting.”

This ring was from Groh's second Super Bowl with the New York Giants.

This ring was from Groh's second Super Bowl with the New York Giants.

Full disclosure here: Groh, while long regarded as a top defensive coach, never has had a reputation of being a charmer with the media. But I figure that working for Bill Parcells all of those years is bound to make anybody miserable.

But Groh seemed at ease Friday when discussing his new role as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator, and even cracked a few jokes. When asked about the possible difficulty of  going from being a head coach at Virginia to only an …

Continue reading It’s the new charming Al Groh (until Virginia week) »

Dan Reeves joining Chan Gailey in Buffalo? ‘It’s news to me’

Dan Reeves said he has no plans to shuffle off to Buffalo

Dan Reeves said he has no plans to shuffle off to Buffalo

Chan Gailey and Dan Reeves: The Sunshine Boys hit Buffalo?

Not so fast.

Reeves was at home in Atlanta Friday and not house hunting under a snowdrift in Buffalo.  “I haven’t even been contacted,” the former Falcons’ coach said when asked about reports that he might be headed north to work with Gailey, the new Bills’  and former Georgia Tech coach. “It’s news to me.”

This apparently all stemmed from an interview Reeves did with a Buffalo television station Thursday. He was asked if he would be open to working with Gailey, and responded, “I tell you, if I could help Chan Gailey out, I would certainly be interested in that.”

Several media outlets ran with it, including even a blogger on the Bills’ official website. So I figured I would just call Reeves this morning and ask him. He said he hasn’t spoken to Gailey since “several days before” he was named Buffalo coach, and wasn’t even aware at that time …

Continue reading Dan Reeves joining Chan Gailey in Buffalo? ‘It’s news to me’ »

If you don’t believe at Georgia, get out of Mark Fox’s way

A three-year plan? No. Mark Fox doesn't accept that Georgia can't win now. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

A three-year plan? Why? Mark Fox doesn't accept that Georgia can't win now. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

ATHENS — In the spring, a player asked Mark Fox, “Do you really think we can win?” and for a moment he was stunned. No player had ever asked him that before.

In the first week of school,  Fox made his team runs steps in Sanford Stadium in the heat of August, punishment for blown tutoring sessions and, he said, “being undisciplined.”

First road trip? Three players forgot their shoes.

“Three guys left their sneakers in Athens,” Fox said. “We go to practice the night before the UAB game and I’m like: What’s the deal here? It was embarrassing. We had the team manager who hadn’t traveled  with us bring the shoes  with him the day of the game. I was like, ‘OK, now I know why we’re having some issues here.’”

These are the little reality checks for the new Georgia basketball coach. When a program generally is synonymous with apathy and misery, interrupted by the occasional 20-win …

Continue reading If you don’t believe at Georgia, get out of Mark Fox’s way »