Friday, February 29, 2008

Filling needs

I listed the Viking off-season needs in this order:

1. Wide Receiver
2. Quarterback
3. Safety
4. Defensive End

The Vikings have signed fullback Thomas Tapeh and safety Madieu Williams. According to Access Vikings, the Vikes are currently talking with wide receiver Bernard Berrian (he's in Minnesota--if they want him, they ought not let him leave without a contract), and they're planning on having defensive end Justin Smith visit Saturday.

Safety, Wide Receiver, Defensive End. If they sign starters for all three of those positions, what's left for the draft? Depth, of course, and the proverbial "best player available." And of course getting another talented wide receiver or defensive end only helps the team. Their need at quarterback (a reliable backup or a competitor for starter) don't seem to be met in the draft, though I suppose it could be.

Of course, I'm putting the vulture in front of the short stack of pancakes here (I'm inspired by The Onion to replace common idioms with complete nonsense--I mean cart before the horse and all that). The Vikings may miss out on both Berrian and Smith. But the Vikings appear to be attempting to fill team needs in free agency--they have a plan. That's encouraging.

Thomas Tapeh!

Fullback Thomas Tapeh, a former Minnesota Gopher and St. Paul Johnson Governor, joins the Vikes (Access Vikings).

Brady Quinn

At Epic Carnival, I compare Brady Quinn to Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer. FREE BRADY QUINN!

I also want to express how disappointed and horrified I am whenever a good player from the AFC joins a team in the NFC. It seems to be happening a lot in the last few days. Since I've never seen the Vikings even reach the Super Bowl, I don't care how good the AFC teams are; I don't like seeing the Vikings' NFC competition getting stronger.

Madieu Williams

Safety Madieu Williams is apparently close to joining the Vikes (PFT, Access Vikings).

The Ragnarok has already looked at how Williams could help the Vikings. He's evidently very good in pass coverage, which is a big need for the Vikes.

UPDATE: PFT says it's all worked out.

Already starting

There's already Viking free agent news (at Access Vikings, and then at PFT).

According to said sites, WR Bernard Berrian and DE Justin Smith already have Twin Cities visits in the works (Kevin Seifert says Zygi Wilf's private plane is going to get Berrian). The Vikes could fill two of their biggest needs with two of the best available FAs at those positions.

Access Vikings mentions some QBs that the Vikes might, maybe, possible have interest in: J.P. Losman and Josh McCown. I've always had a weird infatuation with McCown, though reason suggests I shouldn't. Losman really intrigues me: he'll be 27 next season, he's got 31 career starts, and in the past two seasons he completed 62.7% of his passes. He's young enough to improve and be good, but he's got enough experience to produce immediately. I'd like to see Losman in a Viking uniform next year.

Tomorrow we'll all be refreshing Access Vikings and PFT regularly.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Free Agent Blizzard

Here is how I rank the Vikings' top off-season priorities:

1. Wide Receiver
2. Quarterback
3. Safety
4. Defensive End

Playmaking pass catchers trump every other need on the team. At the very least, the Vikes need backup quarterbacks for Tarvaris Jackson, and they could bring in somebody to compete for the starting job. Safety shot up the list as a need when the Vikes cut Dwight Smith. Many would rank DE as a higher priority; I think that the Vikings could "get by" with Darrion Scott, Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, and other cheap guys at DE, while they couldn't just "get by" with anything they currently have at wide receiver, backup quarterback, or safety. Oh, they should definitely try to upgrade the DE personnel; I just don't see it as a desperate need like WR, QB, and S are.

Kelly Holcomb is gone (Pioneer Press). Well, 0-3 as a starter, that was certainly not worth it.

The Ragnarok details Madieu Williams.

To answer the Daily Norseman's question, yes, I think Sage Rosenfels is worth a 3rd round pick, but only if the Vikes aren't able to fill the backup QB position without giving up a draft pick--which, frankly, they should be able to do. I guess I'm changing my answer to no.

Isaac Bruce, anyone? Man, I'm desperate (Football Outsiders).

But no, David Givens isn't the answer to any question (SI).

People really want Bernard Berrian (PFT). Mr. Berrian, Tarvaris Jackson is probably a better passer than either Vince Young or whomever the 49ers throw out there at QB.

Cold Hard Football Facts has some historical stuff on championship games and game-winning drives. Eli Manning has something in common with Bobby Layne (let's just hope Manning doesn't end up allegedly costing his team a win because he gambled on the outcome and tries to throw a touchdown to beat the point spread rather than simply going for the win with a field goal, then getting traded that week, then still making the Hall of Fame because the selectors have an odd way of viewing "character").

The Starting Five comments on Minnesota's departed stars.

End Zone Buzz looks at the NFC North teams' needs.

Stop Mike Lupica writes about some sports blog conflicts. Sometimes I consider just up and starting a feud with another sports blog, but I don't.

Roy S. Johnson praises Chris Paul. The great state of the Point Guard position is going to be on full display in the Western Conference playoffs this year, as folks like Paul, Kidd, Nash, Parker, Williams and more go against each other. It's going to be fun.

Vikes in Free Agency

The Star Tribune reports the Vikes will likely be pursuing some recognizable free agents. If they're able to get Bernard Berrian, Madieu Williams, and Justin Smith, I will learn to love them all.

The idea of Bernard Berrian is growing on me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

laughing out loud in my office

This has nothing whatsoever to do with sports, but when something gives me this much joy (and laughing to the point of tears by myself in my office is unrestrained joy), I want to share it with others.

See garfield minus garfield. It's funny on levels I don't even understand.

(via bookslut)

A two year old blog

Two years ago today Pacifist Viking had its first post. We're still trying to somehow be both a Viking blog and a general sports blog (though I think we're more of a Viking blog). We're still pretentiously incorporating literature and poetry into our sports commentary. We still whine a lot.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You know you're desperate for WRs when...

When you see people like Eddie Kennison now available and you think, "Hm, I wonder if he'd be willing to come to Minnesota?"

Other lousy receivers the Vikes could sign include Justin McCareins and Brandon Lloyd. Looks like they're dodging the proverbial bullet on Muhsin Muhammed, though.

Those of us who grew up with Anthony Carter, Cris Carter, Jake Reed, and Randy Moss are now holding our heads in our hands.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The nightmare is over.

We used to have some receivers that could catch but couldn't get open, and some that could get open but couldn't catch.

Now we just have receivers that can catch but can't get open.

Mondays, huh? (blizzard)

The combine is like preseason: football news, but devoid of content or meaning. It's all abstract potential. Free agency and the the draft are different: there, we learn that Player A will be playing for Team B. That's actual content and meaning. I give only tangential attention to the combine or preseason.

Getting up for free agency...again
For several years, I've gotten excited for free agency and the possibilities for the Vikings. For several years, I've gotten excited about particular players they've signed, many who did turn out to be outstanding performers for the Vikes (Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, Steve Hutchinson). But the Vikings still haven't had a 10+ win season since 2000. We get excited for all the ways the Vikings can improve, but when I keep doing it every year, and they're still basically an 8-9 win team (which they've been four of the past five seasons), I start to get skeptical about what's really going to change.

While there are objective arguments to be made in sports, discourse on sports usually recognizes the inherent subjectivity better than discourse on other subjects. I root for the Vikings and RK roots for the Packers, and we both must know that there's no moral "truth" to the way we view and root for the NFL. Discussing sports simply requires recognition of different subjective vantage points.

But sometimes in sports blogs I notice a tone that I'll call "self-righteous smuggery." Sometimes a blogger writes as if it is completely ridiculous that anybody sees the world differently than said blogger. It's not when people write about their own favorite teams: a self-aware "my team is good and your team is bad" type of writing is usually in fun, and expressing emotions about sports (or issues) is not a bad thing. It sometimes comes up when writing takes a social or ethical (and sometimes statistical) angle. Even when I agree with what the writer is saying, I find myself annoyed and resistant. It's not a matter of content: it's a matter of tone and word choice. In my opinion, such a tone doesn't explore ideas or advance the discourse on a subject as well as it could; such a tone instead seems to try hit readers in the head with an attitude of superiority. I certainly recognize that there is a place for such writing--on some issues, it is justified to consider one's viewpoint moral and other opinions ridiculous. I'm just pointing out that it sometimes turns me off.

I'll try to be conscious of tone on this blog. I of course have strong opinions I want to express, and I often wish to refute what I see as illogical arguments or faulty ideas. But I'll try to do so with an effort toward discussion, not an effort to insult those who might disagree with me.

Besides, we have What was that bang? to occasionally affront people.

Bryant McKinnie was arrested (Star Tribune, Pioneer Press). How do you feel whenever you learn that another Viking player has some legal trouble? I usually have a desire to pretend it isn't happening.

The NY York Times Movies page has a story about Baron Davis's love of and involvement in film. I enjoy reading about other facets of athletes' lives.

PFT writes that there isn't much of a market for Donte' Stallworth. Oh, Vikings, please sign a guy with a career 15.1 yards per reception. He may not be a stud, but he can make plays and stretch the field.

MJD has a funny replacement for the Wonderlic Test.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Blizzard

Why all the slapping of tags?
I keep reading about players getting "slapped" with the franchise tag, about teams "slapping" the franchise tag on various players, yada yada yada. But players and franchise tags are delicate things. I encourage teams thinking of just up and slapping that tag on to be a little more careful. Tenderly apply the tag, gently and with care. Don't be so callous as to just slap that tag on.

The Safety Position for the Vikes

I don't have a problem with the Vikings cutting Dwight Smith (Star Tribune, Pioneer Press). The Viking pass defense was routinely destroyed by competent quarterbacks last season: they ranked 32nd in yards allowed, 15th in touchdowns allowed, 20th in interceptions, and 17th in net yards per attempt allowed. Opponents completed 64% of their passes against the Vikings (the league completion percentage is around 61%). By even the best of assessments, the 2007 Viking pass defense could only be described as mediocre--but they're mediocre because they generally contained bad quarterbacks, and got slaughtered by good quarterbacks.

So what are the Vikings to do? Stick with the status quo in the secondary? They're probably OK at cornerback: Antoine Winfield is good, and though Cedric Griffin and Marcus McCauley often looked shaky, they were in their second and first seasons, and can improve. Should they just stick with Dwight Smith and Darren Sharper at safety again? I think they're right to try and go in a different direction at safety.

They've clearly got deficiencies in their pass defense. The first step toward improvement is improving the pass rush. For anecdotal evidence on the need for a strong pass rush, look at the New England Patriots in the playoffs this season. The Jaguars failed to rush Tom Brady, and he calmly and easily sat in the pocket and completed 26 of 28 passes, leading the Pats to 31 points. The Giants put a consistent and fierce pass rush on Brady, and he had just 5.5 yards per attempt in getting the Patriots to just 14 points. Perhaps because of the changes in rules regarding pass coverage, the only way to stop a really good passing team is to pressure the quarterback.

But that doesn't mean the secondary shouldn't be tinkered with as the Vikes add defensive ends. If your pass defense is bad, you have to look a the secondary and find ways to improve yourself.

Signal to Noise talks about Prince Fielder going vegetarian. On a related subject, I Dislike Your Favorite Team shows the indirect connection between Daniel Snyder and torture of chickens.

Access Vikings reports that Troy Williamson's agent will be meeting with the Vikings (well, not all of them, I assume). I'm just trying to picture the meeting. Can you imagine Williamson's agent making any request, or any complaint? Would the Viking officials just laugh? Stare in wonderment? Pro Football Talk says Williamson is on the trading block.

John Hollinger grades all of the wild and zany NBA trades this season. I don't remember an NBA season in which so many teams--and championship contenders--made big name trades.

Fanhouse says the Vikes might draft a DE again. Here are some of the defensive linemen the Vikes have drafted in the first round in my spectating period: Derrick Alexander, Duane Clemons, Demetrius Underwood, Chris Hovan, Erasmus James. No, I'm not terribly excited about the prospect of another defensive lineman selected in the first round (though we did get Kevin Williams, which is 1,000 levels of awesome). DE is a big need for the Vikes--but WR is bigger. Of course, unlike Madden video games, free agency comes before the draft in real life, so we don't know what the team needs might be on draft day.

Enjoy your weekend, folks. You know how I feel about weekends: they come during a week, and they're at the end. Just as you know how Travis Cole feels about the homeless: they're human beings, and they have no homes.

At Epic Carnival, wwtb? takes our Bad Luck Number and wonders who's the next long-suffering team to win a title.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

NFC North off-season

Check out Football Outsiders' "Four Downs: NFC North." Ryan Wilson writes that the Vikings need to add WRs this season, which I completely agree with (though I don't agree with the suggestion that Sidney Rice didn't pose a deep threat: he only had 31 catches, and those included 40 yard and 60 yard touchdown catches. His modest 12.8 yards per catch was, I think, more a reflection of the weak and generally short passing attack than his own inability to threaten deep). He also notes potential needs at defensive end and safety.

The theme continues: the Vikings are solid in most areas, but need to improve the pass defense and need to add quality components to the pass offense.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tormented Fans: the Bad Luck Number

Sometimes when I tell people I fear I'll never see the Vikings win a Super Bowl, they try to assure me that I will. I'm young, and there are a lot of years left--chances are they'll win a title sometime. But "Why?" I say. The Cubs haven't won a championship in 100 years--I'm sure some Cubs fans in the last century were assured by friends that the odds are they'll see a Cub World Series win, but most assuredly some of those Cubs fans are now dead.

So I've considered what I simply call a "Bad Luck Number." It's simple: if championships are simply random, and there are 32 teams in the league, then you'd think that in 32 years, your favorite team should win a championship. So, look at each franchise in the league, and note the number of years since:

a. it last won a championship.
b. it entered the league through expansion.
c. it relocated to its current location (because what do residents of Phoenix care about how bad the Cardinals were in St. Louis?).

If the number of years since either a., b., or c. occured is greater than the number of teams in the league at the time, then that franchise has a Bad Luck Number. Fans of those teams are tormented and unlucky.

Now, of course championships aren't just randomly selected from a hat. But assuming I've used this website correctly, over the course of 32 years in which each team has a 1 in 32 chance of winning, a particular team has a 63.8% chance of winning one or more championships. I'm just trying to look for a simple number to show fan suffering. If you root for a franchise that has had a longer championship drought (in its current location) than the number of teams in the league, you've certainly been miserable.

Here is a list of each franchise from the NFL, NBA, and MLB that has a Bad Luck Number. I am including AFL and ABA championships, which doesn't change the list but does change the number in the parentheses (which is the year of the team's relocation, expansion season, or last championship).

NFL (32 teams, 14 with no championships since 1976)
Atlanta Falcons (1966)
Buffalo Bills (1965)
Cincinnati Bengals (1968)
Cleveland Browns (1964)
Detroit Lions (1957)
Houston Texans (1961)*
Kansas City Chiefs (1969)
Miami Dolphins (1973)
Minnesota Vikings (1961)
New Orleans Saints (1967)
New York Jets (1968)
Philadelphia Eagles (1960)
San Diego Chargers (1963)
Seattle Seahawks (1976)

*Cleveland lost a team and then gained an expansion team, but I'm including that entire history. It seems fair that Houston, which lost a team then gained an expansion team during a similar time period, gets the same consideration, so the Oilers are considered. In each case, you could subtract the years they didn't have franchises (since they obviously had no chance of winning those years), but they would still have a Bad Luck Number.

MLB (30 teams, 8 teams with no championships since 1978)
Chicago Cubs (1908)
Cleveland Indians (1948)
Houston Astros (1962)
Milwaukee Brewers (1970)
San Diego Padres (1969)
San Francisco Giants (1958)
Seattle Mariners (1977)
Texas Rangers (1972)

NBA (30 teams, 11 with no championships since 1978)
Atlanta Hawks (1969)
Cleveland Cavaliers (1971)
Denver Nuggets (1968)
Golden State Warriors (1975)
Indiana Pacers (1973)
Milwaukee Bucks (1971)
New Jersey Nets (1978)*
New York Knicks (1973)
Phoenix Suns (1969)
Portland Trailblazers (1977)
Utah Jazz (1975)

*They were the New York Nets when they won an ABA title in 1976; I don't really know if the fanbase changed fundamentally when they became the New Jersey Nets.

The following cities/regions that have two teams with Bad Luck Numbers:

Atlanta (Falcons and Hawks)
Seattle (Seahawks and Mariners)
San Diego (Chargers and Padres)
Houston (Oilers/Texans and Astros)
Milwaukee (Bucks and Brewers)

Seattle will also add the Supersonics to their teams with Bad Luck Numbers in 2009--just before the Sonics move to Oklahoma, probably. There would likely be other cities listed here if I had included hockey teams.

But one city has THREE teams with Bad Luck Numbers:

Cleveland (Indians, Browns, Cavaliers)

Yes, Cleveland sports fans are the most tortured of all, rooting for a baseball team that last won a championship in 1948, a football team that last won a title in 1964, and a basketball team that began playing in 1970-71 and has never won a championship.

Each year, only one team in each league can win a championship, and of course nobody is entitled to championships. But if you root for a team that hasn't won a championship in as many years as there are teams in the league, then you can certainly whine about your lot.

(This data was incredibly easy to access using the sites. These sites are brilliant. Their hockey reference site isn't ready yet, though, and the other sites I considered using for hockey franchises weren't organized in useful way for this post; I didn't feel like doing the work, so I skipped hockey for now. Stanley Cup championships may come up in possible future posts on the subject).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Midweek Blizzard

First of all, how dare you suggest I've been mailing in the effort on this blog lately. Where do you get the nerve to suggest that I go through a brief period at the end of the football season when sports doesn't inspire me? Why would you suggest I've devoted my energies primarily to my family, my teaching job, and watching TV shows on DVD? Where do you get off?

On to a few links.

Grant's Tomb discusses the Viking wide receiver situation. Frankly I spend too much time mulling what the Vikings should or will do to upgrade and improve the wide receiver position. It's clearly the team's biggest need (bigger than any issue on the defensive side, like the need to upgrade pass rushers and defensive backs, in my opinion). What can they do? How should they do it? If somehow the 2008 Viking receiving corps featured Javon Walker, D. J. Hackett, and Sidney Rice, with Bobby Wade doing some nice slot work, I'd probably... well, I've grown bored trying to find a creative metaphor to describe how ecstatic I'd be. has some interesting stuff on game winning touchdowns.

William Rhoden writes about the Nets losing Jason Kidd, their identity. What do you do when your favorite NBA team loses its iconic figure? Sometime in February, you probably catch a locally broadcast game, look at the team that has lost about 80% of its games, and just feel nothing. But really, I'm not entirely sure the Nets didn't get more for Kidd than the Wolves got for KG.

Monday, February 18, 2008

wide receiver fantasies

I've accepted that Larry Fitzgerald catching passes for the 2008 Vikings is strictly the stuff of dreams. But if Donte' Stallworth becomes available, is that an impossible dream, too?

This is what I'll use to distract myself from deranged fantasies that D. J. Hackett is about to transform the Viking receiving corps.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Alge Crumpler

According to Fanhouse, playmaking tight end Alge Crumpler is now available. Crumpler, who hasn't really played with good passing quarterbacks, still managed to average 13.3 yards per reception in Atlanta. That's a tight end that can get downfield and make plays. If you want a comparison, the best TE of this era, Tony Gonzalez, has a career average of 12.1 yards per catch and has never had a single season matching Crumpler's career average. Considering Crumpler is 30 and had his best years from '04-'06, I think he's got game left. And I would love for the Vikings to sign him. They definitely need a pass catcher with Crumpler's abilities.

The Fanhouse post also notes Byron Leftwich is available. Though I don't think his style fits the Vikings' current offense, they are in desperate need of (at the very least) a backup for Tarvaris Jackson. Leftwich's presence among available QBs at least deepens the available pool--giving the Vikes a slightly better chance to pursue a different QB they might want.

Friday Blizzard

Don't you deserve more original content on this blog? No. No you don't.

What was that bang? gets moralistic
At Epic Carnival, wwtb? questions the assumption that congress really does have more important things to do than get involved in pro sports, and wonders why we don't think we have better things to do, too.

On the Vikings
From Access Vikings:

The Vikings want Kenechi Udeze to have privacy. The post notes that Udeze and his wife just had their first child--very sad. I don't care if Udeze ever plays football again; I'll be very happy if he beats cancer and can be there with his daughter as she grows up.

Udeze has the character to fight.

Kevin Seifert speculates on the Vikings' interest in WR Marty Booker. Really, the Vikings are so weak at WR, and the FA pool is so thin, that any available WR needs to be mentioned. I'm still driving the D. J. Hackett train, but last spring I was driving the David Carr train, so you can pretty much discount me entirely if you want.

The Ragnarok considers Bernard Berrian.

Grant's Tomb discusses the Viking offensive line.

My neighbors have been complaining about the horrified screams coming from my house Sunday afternoons. They want the Vikings to part ways with Troy Williamson, too (Fanhouse).

This Footballguys post is about Donovan McNabb and the Eagles, but the stats listed have two interesting notes on the Viking passing game. On the one hand, the Vikings had the highest percentage of yards after the catch in the league: a whopping 66% of their passing yards came on yards after the catch (compare that with teams that are known for good passing games: Seattle 32nd at 28.1%, Indianapolis 30th at 37.4%, New England 29th at 37.6%, Dallas 27th at 38.1%; evidently, team yards after the catch is not a good indicator of teams with good passing games. I've got all sorts of ideas about what this means). And on the other hand, the Vikings were 6th in drop percentage, dropping 6.3% of passes attempted.

And the rest
Football Outsiders' readers give 2007 awards.

Naturally, the NFL is upset that a judge decided Michael Vick can keep the money he already earned (Fanhouse).

Tim Hardaway has changed his attitude about gay people (Fanhouse).

Kids in poor countries get to live in bizarro sports world (Outsports).

MJD doesn't mind congress looking into allegations of cheating in pro football.

Oh, by the way...
Dexter, an excellent show originating on Showtime, is going to be showing on CBS starting Sunday. Your Sundays are now more open: I recommend checking out Dexter. I've previously written about the show at Costanza Book Club if you're interested, but there may be some spoilers toward the end of the post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Has Brad Childress gotten the Vikes closer to the playoffs?

Jon Marthaler at TNABACG writes that "2008 will be Brad Childress's third season in charge, and it seems that the Purple is no closer to the playoffs than when he started." It's a comment made basically in passing, but it made me wonder: are the Vikes closer to the playoffs?

If you look at nothing but records, no. The 2005 Vikings, coached by Mike Tice, went 9-7, and the 2007 Vikings, coached by Brad Childress, went 8-8.

But if we look closer, we see signs that the Vikings are actually closer to the playoffs than they were two years ago.

Points Scored and Points Allowed
The 2005 Vikes were outscored: they scored 306 points and allowed 344 points. According to p-f-r, that gives them 6.9 estimated wins (making the 2006 rebound to 6 wins understandable). The 2007 Vikes outscored their opponents: they scored 365 points and allowed 311. According to p-f-r, that gives them 9.5 estimated wins, suggesting the Vikes have improved, and possibly suggesting improvement next season.

People may recall the seven game winning streak in 2005 and think that Viking team was good. In fact, that seven game winning streak came mostly against lousy competition, and the Vikings were blown out nearly every time they played a quality team. Look at the 2005 game logs, and recall the embarrassments. 37-8. 30-10. 28-3. 38-13. 18-3. The 2007 Vikes were much more competitive on a week to week basis than the 2005 Vikes.

Defensive Improvement
Comparing the '05 defense to the '07 defense, we'll see improvement in points allowed (21.5 points per game to 19.4 points per game, improving from 19th ranked to 12th) and rushing defense (improvement from a league rank of 19th to a league rank of 1st). The Vikings still gave up a lot of yards both because they were passed against a lot and because they were frequently horrible against the pass. Still, I see the 2007 defense as better than the 2005 defense.

Improvement to Offensive Personnel
The 2005 Vikings had no dangerous skill position playmaker (after Culpepper got hurt) and often had troubles at the offensive line. The 2007 Vikings have two dangerous skill position players (though both are running backs, Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson), and really played strong at the offensive line (aided by the addition of Steve Hutchinson, the return from injury of Matt Birk, and the improving play of linemen like Bryant McKinnie). The Vikings have major deficiencies in the passing game personnel right now; however, Brad Childress inherited a team with major deficiencies in the passing game.

I think the Vikings are closer to the playoffs than they were when Brad Childress took over. Still, I agree with Marthaler:

"two seasons is hardly enough to make a definitive judgment on his tenure - but three seasons might be. If the Vikings miss the playoffs again in 2008, it's time to reconsider the team's long-term future, specifically Brad Childress's place in that future."

Midweek Blizzard: Kenechi Udezi has leukemia

Kenechi Udeze
Viking defensive end Kenechi Udeze has leukemia (Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Sports Illustrated, Viking Update, Fanhouse, Ragnarok, Daily Norseman, Viking War Cry, The Viking Age, Viking Vixen, Skol Vikes, The National Anthem Before A Cubs Game). Thoughts and Prayers for Udeze.

Sentences from emails regarding Art Monk
RK: he was basically al toon. you can quote me--art monk equals al toon.

PV: I'd probably take 10 active WRs over him. He was probably the Wes Welker of his generation.

I don't like to hear this about future Viking Brady Quinn
Allegedly, Brady Quinn used a gay slur during a conflict (Fanhouse).

UPDATE: Quinn denies the altercation and the word (SI).

A few other links
The New York Times reports on cock fighting in the Dominican Republic.

Britt Robson writes on "Getting Past the Garnett Hangover."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Why I'm not renewing my Viking season tickets (Blizzard)

Viking Tickets

If I renew my season tickets, it will cost about $500. I would then have tickets to all of the games, including the preseason games that I don't want to go to. Parking fees add the total to around $600. Furthermore, attending a Viking game can transform a three hour television experience into a six to nine hour day. And I don't even know the precise schedule yet: Monday night games would be tricky for me to attend.

And there is a better solution. In 2007, I got fairly comfortable in the Metrodome area. I also know that there are folks selling tickets near the Metrodome.

Instead of committing to $600 for Viking game attendence, why don't I remove the obligation but still go to games? I estimate that if I want to go to four home games next season, I could do so for as little as $140 (possibly more depending on ticket availability). I could go to games when I want to, without the requirement to go to every game. I'd still get a lot of great experiences seeing the Vikes play live, but I also don't have to commit the time eight days a year (especially during a college semester). And now that I feel comfortable navigating the area, I know that if games get blacked out, I can still easily get down to the Dome for a game.

I liked being a Viking season ticket holder. I'm afraid I like being cheap more. I can save money, gain freedom, and still attend games when I want to.


Adrian Peterson gaining 129 yards and getting Pro Bowl MVP is the only thing that could possibly make me regret not watching the game...and I still don't regret not watching the game (Star Tribune).

Brad Childress talks about how Adrian Peterson can improve (Star Tribune). Specifically, "Two areas in which Childress wants to see Peterson progress are in his pass protection and in making reads while running the ball." When Peterson develops into an adequate pass blocker, and when consistently shows willingness to take a 3-6 yard gain rather than always busting for a big play, he's going to be a near flawless running back. I'd also like to see him more involved as a pass catcher next season: he's such a dynamic open field runner, why not try devise more plays that put Peterson in space?

Peter King's MMQB is much more enjoyable in the off-season, when you're desperate for football conversation, than during the season, when you're immersed in the sport and you can find good football conversation anywhere.

William Rhoden writes about the NCAA's need for policies to promote minority football coaches.

MJD comments on Tiki Barber's comments on the Super Bowl winning Giants.

As Cathy from the The Kids in the Hall sketch says, "Mondays, huh?" Enjoy your day.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Duke vs. UNC

I have a weird sports existence. I was born in Minnesota and doomed to be a fan of the Minnesota Vikings for life, but at the same time when I was in 2nd grade I ended up watching March Madness for the first time and became a fan of Duke. I live in a paradox. One team that never gets over the hump and many consider a loser, the other team is a perennial success and is hated nationally along the lines of the New York Yankees and Notre Dame football. It is interesting. However, I post this video to celebrate Wednesday's victory over rival UNC, but also to recognize how this years team is the closest to the fans I have seen since my 2nd year at Duke Div (the 2005-2006) team, led by JJ and Shelden. I can still remember the team walking down the road to come to the UNC game and everyone cheering. That was fun as a fan. For those of you who hate Duke, I would suggest not watching the video. It will only make you madder to see the Crazies going crazy over a bunch of athletes returning from victory.

Sartre and Fandom (Friday Blizzard)

Aaron Schatz, Free Darko, and "The Flies"

At Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz writes about loving football, and tries to emphasize that there's more to a football season than it's champion. We can appreciate other successes too.

At Free Darko, there's a lot of talk about "liberated fandom," how we are not bound to root for our geographical teams, and our freedom allows us to root for whichever players or teams move our souls.

I enjoy the perspective both Schatz and the madmen at Free Darko offer us. But I don't quite feel that freedom.

In Jean-Paul Sartre's play "The Flies," the people of Argos are trapped by their own guilt and sense of tragedy: they are unaware of their own freedom, dooming themselves to their own tragic lives. And Orestes comes speaking of freedom.

I feel like a Viking fan trapped in Argos, swarmed by flies and by fears of the dead. It's nice that Orestes can tell me I can be free of it all, but I also know that the only way I could be free is to abandon sports altogether, to embrace my freedom by no longer tying my state of being to the performances of people beyond my control. And so I'm stuck here, waiting. Perhaps like Electra, waiting all that time for Orestes to come (though to fulfill the tragedy more than rescue her from it).

Oh, I'm deeply moved by Orestes' words about human freedom. But as long as I'm a Viking fan, and until the Vikings win a championship, I feel much more like the sorry lot in Argos. I'm bound to the Vikings, and the zero championships for the team, like the flies, swarms over my soul.

Though perhaps Orestes is a better metaphor for February

From September through January, it sometimes feels like the real week is just six days long; Sunday, generally, is entirely sucked up by football. When football isn't on, we're waiting for football. When football is over, we're still thinking about football. It's not that we really want to escape that, but at the same time it's a bit burdensome.

Then comes February and its entirely open weekends. A Friday night, an entire Saturday, and an entire Sunday for the other things that we generally call life.

David Tyree's catch

There's one camera angle (it's the second photo in this Nosebleeds post) that shows David Tyree pinning the ball to his helmet, and in between the little circle formed by arm/helmet/ball is Rodney Harrison's arm. So Tyree is pinning the ball to his helmet with one arm/hand, while Harrison has his arm clawing in the middle. Then Tyree falls pretty far to the ground, on his back, but still holds the ball.

Another good angle comes at this Ballers, Gamers, and Scoundrels post, where it appears Tyree is using just his fingers to pin the ball to his helmet.

Already crippled by fantasy
Lately I've been imagining all sorts of wild scenarios for the Vikings. The 2008 off-season is upon us, my friends. Now is the season of hope.

Sports Law Blog asks if there is a difference between cock fighting and dog fighting.

Addendum #2
At Epic Carnival, wwtb? points out the two teams that weren't embarrassed to go 18-1.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Blizzard: remember that return to the mean

Dan Marino followed up his 48 TD season in '84 with 30 TDs in '85. And he followed up his 44 TD season in '86 with 26 TDs in '87 (in 12 games).

Kurt Warner followed up his 41 TD season in '99 with 21 TDs in '00 (in 11 games).

Peyton Manning followed up his 49 TD season in '04 with 28 TDs in '05. I remember fanball's fantasy preview magazine for '05: they listed each of Manning's season TD totals, and said "one of these things is not like the other." And in the next three seasons, Manning has dropped back closer to his still incredible pace.

Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes in '07. It's nuts to believe he'll get anywhere close to that next season.

In his previous five 16-game seasons going into 2007, Brady always threw between 23 and 28 touchdown passes. 2007 was a career year; it's more likely that Brady is the kind of QB who throws 23-28 TDs a season. Some might make the argument that he reached his previous numbers with mediocre WRs, and if he still has Moss, Welker, and Stallworth next year, he can keep up the ridiculous numbers. But I don't think that's very likely. Looking at his regular and postseason game logs, you could argue the return to the mean has already started. Brady threw 38 touchdown passes in his first 10 games, and 18 in his final 9 games. Obviously a two touchdown per game average is very good, but it's not record-breaking or otherworldly. If Brady has all of his receivers back next year, and he plays very well again, I think he could get to 35 touchdown passes. I think it's more likely that he throws right around or below 30, since I expect the Patriots to run for more touchdowns next season too.

That obviously still makes Brady a great quarterback and a great fantasy quarterback (just like Marino, Warner, and Manning were great fantasy quarterbacks), but if somebody is planning on making him a first-round pick in a snake draft or a high-priced player in an auction draft, it's not going to be me.


Dr. Z ranks all the Super Bowls by his own personal feelings, and calls Giants-Patriots the best Super Bowl ever. I'm a little leery of calling the most recent close game the best ever: as time passes, the previous close games develop an aura of historical inevitability, and we forget how suspenseful those previous games really were. However, Z does get at what made this game so special for me: it was a defensive slugfest where everything the offenses did was earned. That's very fun to watch. looks at a few different numbers to show that the 2007 Giants are the worst Super Bowl champion ever. That doesn't diminish my appreciation for what the Giants just did (it takes a special team to go on the road to knock off 9-7, 13-3, and 13-3 division winners, then go to a neutral site and beat a 16-0 team). And Giant fans shouldn't be bothered by this either: they have a championship, and quality points for that championship don't matter (better to be the worst champion than the best non-champion). But the numbers are convincing, and can leave us with some doubt about where the Giants are going in the future.

Cold, Hard Football Facts discusses legacies in relation to Super Bowl 42.

True Hoop compiles links to some of the reaction to the Miami-Phoenix trade. A lot of the focus is on Shaq going to Phoenix (rightly, as the Suns are a contender this year), but I'm definitely intrigued about Shawn Marion going to join Dwyane Wade in Miami. Isn't this some smart management by the Heat? They trade some of their future (Lamar Odom and Caron Butler), they get a friggin' championship out of it, and now they trade an aging and expensive Shaq for a very good 29 year old player? I like the move (assuming they keep Marion).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Next Eleven: LeBron James

Last season was the NBA's 60th season, and we commemorated it by adding ten players to the NBA 50 team. Now in the 61st year, we add one more.

LeBron James' career regular season numbers are 27.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, and 6.5 apg. He's led the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory in four playoff series already, and his playoff averages are 27.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 7.1 apg. In each of the past three seasons, he's been first or second team All-NBA and he's been in the top four in points per game. He already has at least one legendary playoff game under his belt, his 48 point masterpiece against Detroit in Game 5 of the Easter Conference Finals last season.

This year LeBron James leads the league in scoring, and his season averages are 30.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, and 7.2 apg. But James is so good, you can almost take for granted that you're watching a 30-7-7 guy. We all need to sit back and appreciate the basketball force that is LeBron James: he's going to give us some incredible basketball memories, and he's already one of the 61 best players ever.

LeBron James is akin to William Shakespeare. If an English teacher tells you that he or she likes Shakespeare, you really know little about that teacher. It's Shakespeare: English teachers are supposed to like Shakespeare. Similarly, if somebody tells you he or she likes LeBron James, you can't know that person's personality or fandom; all you know is that person is able to appreciate the best that basketball has to offer.

Shakespeare also seems to transcend labels like "writer," "playwright," "poet," or "literature." He is his own thing, above every other writer in the canon of English (and perhaps world) literature. So too LeBron James transcends what it means to be a "great basketball player;" there is something special in him that sets him off as his own thing.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, and Dirk Nowitzki.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday Morning Super Blizzard

Previously on Sports Toothache
Sunday Night Super Blizzard

On the Couch: Super Bowl

2008 HOF debate: why Cris Carter is better than Art Monk

Monday Morning's Reaction

"Monday (Super Bowl) Edition: Wha' Happened?" (Randball)

"The play of the game" (Star Tribune)

David Tyree showed incredibly strong hands on that play.

"Thoughts on the Super Bowl" (The Ragnarok)

"An inconvenient truth" (Andrew Perloff)

"Perfection KO'd" (Peter King)

Let's note one particularly stupid thing King writes. King compares Wes Welker's 2007 season with "the most productive season Jerry Rice ever had," which he calls 1995. He then ONLY compares regular season and post-season receptions to show Welker looking comparable to Jerry Rice. He doesn't point out that in 1995, Rice set the NFL RECORD FOR RECEIVING YARDS IN A SEASON with 1,848. In 2007 Welker had 1,175 receiving yards in the regular season, a total Rice topped ELEVEN TIMES! And in '95 Jerry Rice had 15 touchdown receptions in the regular season to Wes Welker's 8--a total Rice topped TWELVE TIMES!

If King wants to show how great Wes Welker is by comparing his best receptions total in a season (in 19 regular and post-season games) to Jerry Rice's best receptions total in a season (in 17 regular and post-season games), he can do so. He is, however, fairly idiotic to simply present only receptions without pointing out that in 1995 Rice had MORE RECEIVING YARDS THAN ANYBODY EVER HAD IN A SINGLE SEASON!, while Welker's 1,175 yards was topped by BY TEN RECEIVERS THIS SEASON! I'm completely appalled by this statistical cherry picking.

"My life story, one Super Sunday at a time (revisited)" ( blog)

"Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLII" (Football Outsiders)

This should be one of your must-read articles today.

"Sales Genie: Racists" (MVN Outsider)

Found via Ballhype. At some point in the night I said to my wife, "I keep wondering how many of these commercials are vaguely racist."

"'Free Fallin' out into Nothin'" (Bill Simmons)

Everybody on the internet is looking forward to this column, right? (also found via Ballhype).

"Thoughts on the Super Bowl" (The Starting Five)

"Holy Bleepers!" (The Football Professor)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Night Super Blizzard

Previously on Sports Toothache
On the Couch: Super Bowl

2008 HOF debate: why Cris Carter is better than Art Monk

Sunday Night's Reaction
"Ten things we learned from the Giants' Super Bowl win" (Jeffri Chadiha)

"Is a lack of Super Bowls keeping ex-Vikings out of the Hall?" (Grant's Tomb)

"Super Bowl XLII Snap Judgments (Don Banks)

Banks also thinks Cris Carter should have been elected to the Hall of Fame, saying "the smooth-as-silk Carter was one player I would have paid money to watch perform." Banks also notes, "I'm glad Art Monk made the Hall of Fame. If only because it now puts the cottage industry known as the Art-Monk-deserves-to-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame Washington lobbyist group out of business." That's something that has bothered me: Monk backers (primarily Washington fans) writing that it's so obvious Monk should be in the HOF and that the selectors who don't vote for him are utter fools. The logical argument isn't all in Monk's favor: in his 16 season career (really 15), there were only three seasons that Monk's peers thought he was one of the four best players, at his position, in his conference. Yet Monk supporters carry on as if morons are perpetuating an obvious injustice. Now that's thankfully over.

"Justin Tuck Deserved to Be MVP" (JJ Cooper)

He was dominant in the first half, but for the entire game, the defensive domination came from all over the Giants' line: I have a hard time crediting it all to Tuck. I think Manning is worthy choice.

"Burress Scored the Game-Winner, but Tyree Was the Giants Best Receiver This Night" (Ryan Wilson)

That Manning to Tyree throw is now one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history.

"SB XLII: Simply the Greatest Super Bowl Ever" (JJ Cooper)

We're in an age where any close Super Bowl game immediately gets called the best ever. There have been other close Super Bowls, and there have been other Super Bowls with big fourth quarter lead changes. If this is the greatest ever, it's for the dramatic finish AND the amazing upset. But I don't think it's the greatest ever.

CHFF talks, HOF voters listen (Cold, Hard Football Facts)

CHFF celebrates that four defensive players are entering the HOF.

"Reflections on an all-time classic" (Cold, Hard Football Facts)

This bit is worth the read: "It’s amazing how one play can change thousands of lives. If the Patriots sack Eli Manning on that third-and-longish play late in the fourth, the Giants probably miss on fourth down and the Patriots win their fourth Super Bowl. A half-second extra in the grasp, and the ref blows the whistle. A half-foot less on the throw, and the Patriots knock the pass down. Instead, it’s complete, and everything changes. Guys will retire that might have come back, and vice versa. Players, coaches, executives make a whole different set of decisions. Everything changes."

"Eli no longer the 'Other' Manning" (Cold, Hard Football Facts)

Well, yeah he is.

"PERFECTION!" (I Dislike Your Favorite Team)

IDYFT channels "Dewey Defeats Truman."

More thoughts (and links) Monday, I'm sure.

On the Couch: Super Bowl

Giants 17, Patriots 14

The difference in the game
In my opinion, the difference in this game was each team's ability to rush the passer and protect the quarterback.

The New York defensive line dominated the game. Individual players like Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Jay Alford kept making outstanding individual plays. Tom Brady had a record setting season in part because the New England offensive line consistently gave him time to throw; when given a chance to scan the field, Tom Brady will shred any defense. But the Giant pass rush consistently got to Brady, sacking him, knocking him down, putting him off rhythm. We haven't been used to seeing Brady knocked around, but that's what the Giants did.

On the other side, the Patriots brought a wicked pass rush against Eli Manning, but the Giants consistently did a solid job picking it up (and Manning did a solid avoiding rushers). The running backs (notably Brandon Jacobs) really did a solid job blocking blizters, and overall, the Giant offensive line did a much better job pass blocking than the Patriot offensive line.

Eli Manning: Super Bowl MVP
Though the Giant offensive and defensive lines deserve a lot of the credit, the problem of MVP is trying to find one player who stands out. In the first half of the game, Justin Tuck was MVP (it's pretty obvious why New York extended his contract). For the game as a whole, Eli Manning is a worthy choice. In the fourth quarter, the Giants had three real possessions. Manning twice threw go-ahead touchdown passes. He completed four of five passes on 3rd down, three of them converting to first down (on a 3rd and ten, he completed a nine yard pass that allowed a short 4th down run). In the fourth quarter, he made big play after big play. He's a deserving MVP.

(I should note that I have a football card of every Super Bowl MVP; when a lesser name player starts dominating early in a Super Bowl, I start fretting about when and where I'm going to get a card for that player. I've got plenty of Eli Manning cards, though).

An exciting fourth quarter
At the last Super Bowl, I noted that there was a madly exciting first quarter, followed by a rather ho-hum game.

Today most of the scoring of the game was saved for the fourth quarter. Now, I like good defensive football games. They can be dull if you don't care who wins, but if you've got a rooting interest, a low scoring game is very fun: every play becomes meaningful. Still, the fourth quarter was fun. The Giants went into the quarter down 7-3. Then they went up 10-7. Then then went down 14-10. Then they went up 17-14. That's a fun back and forth in the critical part of the game.

Individual Legacies
The Giants gave up a lot to acquire Eli Manning on draft day four years ago. But if you get a #1 overall pick quarterback, and four years later, that quarterback is the starter for your Super Bowl championship squad, you have to feel pretty good. Eli Manning's legacy is now secure: whatever else he does, he's a Super Bowl winning, Super Bowl MVP quarterback.

Michael Strahan has already had a Hall of Fame career as one of the best pass rushing defensive ends of the last ten years. Now when we look back, Strahan was a defensive force on two NFC championship teams and one NFL championship team. He's got a strong legacy, and should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

And how about Tom Coughlin? Now he's had successful runs with two different franchises, and he's capped it all off with a Super Bowl win. Once again we must remind ourselves that just because a coach doesn't win a Super Bowl with one franchise doesn't make that coach a failure. The head coaches of nine of the past eleven Super Bowl champions had previously coached with a different franchise.

What this means for the Patriot dynasty's legacy
At a wide look, a Super Bowl loss looks bad for the '00s Patriot dynasty. The '70s Steelers won all four of their Super Bowl appearances, as did the '80s 49ers. In that way, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are always going to have something over Tom Brady.

But during those Steeler and 49er dynasties, there were of course years when they lost in the playoffs before reaching the Super Bowl. We shouldn't really hold it against the Patriot dynasty that in one of their non-championship years, they lost in the Super Bowl instead of earlier in the playoffs. If the Patriots go on to win another championship this decade, they're legacy will still match the '70s Steelers and '80s 49ers.

And though the Patriots didn't lose a game this season until the Super Bowl, I struggle to pin them with the "choker" label. They've already won three Super Bowls this decade; they can't be saddled with a choker legacy when they have three Super Bowl wins. Certainly, going into the Super Bowl at 18-0 and getting upset by a team that was 13-6 and mediocre by many standards throughout most of the season counts as a brutal loss. But going 18-1 this season without a championship doesn't negate three Lombardi Trophies; if Patriot fans are feeling down right now, they can of course consider that.

This loss does mean that players like Junior Seau and Randy Moss don't yet have Super Bowl rings. And it means that the 2007 Patriots, who would have had a trump card for any "greatest team ever" arguments, are now out of the discussion ("greatest team not to win the championship" arguments are now in play).

Is this a blip in the AFC's dominant period, or is the NFC now on the rise?
The AFC was the dominant conference in the 1970s, and the NFC was the dominant conference for most of the' 80s and '90s. The AFC has been far superior to the NFC for most of the past decade.

It's hard to say right now whether this is simply one year when the NFC pulled off the upset in a long run of AFC domination, or whether this game signals the pendulum's swing back to the NFC.

More on the way
We've now got many months without real football games; we'll definitely be back to make more meaning out of this Super Bowl.

2008 HOF debate: why Cris Carter is better than Art Monk

Saturday, February 02, 2008

2008 HOF debate: why Cris Carter is better than Art Monk

Six players are making the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008 (ESPN).

The most notable name is Art Monk, whom Washington fans have been enraged over for years.

Viking Cris Carter did not make it in, showing just how little the HOF selectors trust modern passing numbers. Carter is currently 2nd all-time in career receptions (1,102) and 2nd all-time in career touchdown receptions (130--almost twice Art Monk's 68). The selectors are right to be skeptical of those numbers, though; after all, Art Monk retired with a lot of career numbers that were soon obliterated, and so after a few years great cumulative numbers don't appear so impressive. Still, Carter had eight seasons with 9+ receiving touchdowns (Art Monk never had nine touchdown catches in a season: his career high was eight, which he did twice), eight seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards, and 10 seasons with 70+ receptions. He was a consistent statistical compiler. The big numbers just don't mean much for wide receivers anymore, because everybody has them; that's one reason Monk and Michael Irvin didn't get elected to the Hall in their first years of eligibility, either.

Last year I showed why Michael Irvin was a better wide receiver than Art Monk. A lot of the same arguments apply for Carter being superior to Monk. There are two key arguments:

Cris Carter compiled more quality seasons than Art Monk did.

When we compare Monk and Carter not to each other but to their respective contemporaries, Carter comes out the superior player.

Carter made eight Pro Bowls, Monk three. Carter was in the top-ten in receptions eight times, Monk four. Carter was top-ten in receiving yards five times, Monk three. And Carter was top-ten in touchdown receptions eight times (leading the league three times), while Monk was top-ten in touchdown receptions just once.

Look at it this way: Art Monk's top season ranking in touchdown receptions was 8th in 1991. Cris Carter ranked higher than that eight times: 3rd ('89), 5th ('93), 1st ('95), 5th ('96), 1st ('97), 4th ('98), 1st ('99), and 6th ('00).

Carter has better career numbers than Monk. Carter has more good seasons than Monk. And if you don't want to compare the actual numbers of players whose primes were in different decades, you can compare their rankings against their contemporaries. Carter was among the league leaders in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns much more often than Monk.

I'm glad Art Monk is now going to the Hall of Fame. But Cris Carter was a better wide receiver than Art Monk.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Phil Simms '86, Eli Manning '07

At Epic Carnival, wwtb? looks at what this Super Bowl means for Eli Manning's legacy.

National Friday League: last football weekend

Living without ESPN means not getting exhausted by Super bowl hype.
I have barely thought about the Patriots or the Giants since the conference championship games--and that's a good thing. Instead of hype inundation, I get to just settle down Sunday and watch real football teams play a real football game. After a two week break (that's fine with me), it's always fun when you see an actual team kick off, an actual team return the kick, an actual team line up to run an offensive play.

It already feels like football season is over at this point anyway. As Kramer says, "In my mind, I'm already gone."

I will provide you absolutely nothing in way of a preview
In previewing the Super Bowl, so many possible angles have been considered and written about. Just about every media outlet devotes resources to covering Super Bowl week. With only one game on the schedule, all the writers and sites devotes to actual football analysis have been able to cover the one game pretty thoroughly.

Basically, there's a lot more coverage previewing the Super Bowl beforehand than there is coverage making meaning of the Super Bowl after the fact. But for me, the previews have a certain emptiness, while the post-game commentary has actual content, real stuff to talk about. Last February I put out five posts on the Monday after the Super Bowl to talk about the game, the coverage, historical contexts, Hall of Fame selection, player legacies, etc. This Sunday and Monday, I'll see if I can top that.

At Epic Carnival, DMtShooter provides "Top X reasons the NFL needs to be taken down a peg." Let me second two of his reasons in particular: the marking of Super Bowls by Roman numerals (I've memorized every Super Bowl winner and loser by year; I have no memory for Xs, Vs, Is, or Ls), and the fact that Instant Replay is not fairly applied (big games get a lot of network cameras, meaning a lot of angles, while less popular games get fewer network cameras).

Jamie Menutis writes about Super Bowl sponsor Bridgestone Firestone's labor practices in Liberia. Dave Zirin also has more on the issue, including Bridgestone Firestone's response.

Remember anoher important football even this weekend: final Hall of Fame selection. Selector Peter King writes about this year's class. talks about the history of black quarterbacks in pro football.

How's this for a lousy pre-Super Bowl post?
In this pre-weekend football post, I haven't named a single player that will be on the field Sunday. I also haven't made a prediction. This is an empty, practically useless post. If you'd like, use the comment section to tell me what you think about Sunday's game and what you're looking forward to seeing.