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January 18, 2007

Comments

basketbawful

As always, I have a few thoughts.

Concerning the Bears/Saints game. I'm an avid football fan. Courtesy of the NFL package, I watch every NFL game every week...with particular attention paid to the Saints games because I went to Purdue, just like their QB Drew Brees. Now, the general consensus among football fans -- even the intelligent ones -- is that the Saints somehow get lucky breaks and iffy calls (especially at home) because of their current status as "America's Team" (courtesy of Hurrican Katrina). I always have to point out to those people that the Saints were 4-4 at home this year, and 6-2 on the road. Two of those home losses were of the "reeeeally close" variety, and I'm telling you, they didn't get the benefit of the whistles down the stretch. It just wasn't a factor at all, and it won't be on Sunday. Especially in Chicago. I live here, and I've followed Bears football for over 20 years. If the game got fixed in Soldier Field, there would be a riot/massacre of Biblical proportions. Ain't happenin'. If the Bears lose, it'll be because their quarterback kills them and/or their defense doesn't rise to the occassion (as they haven't for about 7 weeks, including last week's mediocre showing against the 19th-ranked offense, led by a quarterback with a broken hand and a bum shoulder that needed to be surgically repaired).

Now, let's talk San Antonio. I've watched most of their games this season, including both the Bulls and Lakers games. The Spurs aren't going balls out every night anymore. They seem to be coasting for most of the game, and then they turn it on (or try to) in the 4th. The Lakers game is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. They didn't exert any pressure until the 4th (when they were down 9), and then they came back to take the lead. It backfired, of course, and the Lakers managed to rally. But honestly, had they played the whole game like they played in the 4th, it would have been a blowout. Similarly, they never even turned it on in that Chicago game. They looked like they were stuck in 2nd gear. Personally, I think they're showing the signs of a club that has been a contender year-in and year-out for almost a decade. They're going to get by on their talent, win a high percentage of games, and turn it on in the playoffs. Which means they'll lose games hear and there to younger, hungry teams (Chicago, L.A., Milwuakee, Cleveland). But, ultimately, none of those teams beat the Spurs in a 7-game series. UNLESS...they get stuck in that fog, like the Pistons did last year...

People keep underestimating the talent and toughness of the Mavs. They wanted to avenge their earlier loss to the Lakers (the Mavs are 5-0 this season when avenging a loss, BTW) and prove they're the best in the league, and they beat L.A. like a drum. Still, you have to wonder if teams like Dallas and Phoenix are peaking too soon.

How about Devean George's 7-10 performance? You must have *loved* that.

Craig

Grossman will probably cause 4 turnovers that will kill the Bears. Plus, I don't recall too many people saying that the Saints were lucky in their wins. The media's been too busy writing feel good stories about the Saints to do so.

Yet, as a Bears fan the whole entire sports world openly rooting for New Orleans is killing me. Maybe it's different if your living in the Chicagoland area, but literally everyone with a mirophone is blatently rooting for New Orleans.

For the rest of this, let's pretend that Grossman actually plays a decent game (read: zero turnovers (not likely, but pretend it may happen))

You're not telling me that there's going to be a few illegal contact penalties called on the Bears DB's during some 3rd and long situations? The NFL can't let this feel good story not "fulfill it's destiny."

You won't see the NFL fix the game as blatant as the NBA Finals (you simply can't give Reggie Bush 25 freethrows for basically looking at him the wrong way). But in football, there's a penalty in every play, it's just that the refs only call the ones that would affect the end result. Again, you're telling me that you won't see two or three "there was no flag on the play" situations? (Always a favorite of mine, the replays find the penalty, but after an extended huddle, the refs pick up the flag, like somehow a weighted piece of cloth fell out of the pockets of two refs at the exact same time.) Or what about the illegal contact downfield on a receiver far away from the play (or the Peyton Manning rule as everyone calls it)?

Remember those horrible calls in the Steelers-Colts game last year? I expect more of the same.

Finally, so what if the Bears got screwed on a few calls. The NFL won't care about the anger of 9 million people versus the rest of the United States. You won't hear anyone mention the bad refs on Monday, instead we'll get non-stop gushing about how special it is that the Saints and the City of New Orleans have persevered through all thoe tought times and made the Super Bowl.

I'll give you my NBA takes later...

basketbawful

But here's the thing, Craig: those feel-good stories about the Saints? They're totally justified. I don't know if you've been to New Orleans, but I was there for Mardi Gras last year. You know that scene in "The Terminator" where Reese was dreaming about the big tank rolling over skulls and everything's bleak destroyed? Well, that's what most of New Orleans looked like...only there are people trying to *live* in all that rubble. If you live there -- hell, if you're just visiting there -- there isn't much to be happy about. But they got to keep their football team. And that team, which has been so bad for so long that their own fans used to show up with paper bags on their heads, totally turned things around and could go to the Super Bowl. Oh, and the guys on that team have not only managed to avoid rape charges, assault charges, drug charges, murder charges, and whatever other charges you want to name -- *and* they have, to a man, been active in trying to help restore the city. That's a pretty good freaking story.

Look, I'm a Bears fan too. And, living in Chicago, I feel like the actual tangible value of my life goes up and down as the Bears win or lose. They only lost three games this year, but it felt 50. That's how wrapped up I am in Bears football. But on the other hand, there is absolutely nothing about the Saints that makes them unlikeable. If you don't enjoy -- or at least appreciate -- stories about people bravely succeeding in the face of extreme adversity, then you should turn yourself over to the government, because you're managing to live and breath despite having a heart made of the blackest coal, and I'm pretty sure there's some kind of military application for that.

My main problem with your argument is that it's based primarly on perception and assumption...which is all I've seen regarding the so-called conspiracy surrounding the Saints. Now, the Colts game you bring up...there were two or three awful calls/no-calls. They were pinpointed and discussed ad infinitum. Now, the assumption is that the Saints season was at least partially the result of those kinds of calls, and that those same kinds of calls will likely propel them to the Super Bowl. And to all the people making these claims, I say this: prove it. Break down the tape and show me something totally obvious that the refs have missed. Show me a flag that got picked up unjustly. Show me something. Anything. Give me a single sign of bad juju. Because for all the whining about the Saints being "protected," I have yet to see a single shred of evidence of it. It's like, because bad calls happen, and because the Saints are doing the impossible, it just stands to reason that the refs are making that happen for them. That's just weak reasoning.

I'm not trying to be confrontational or obstinate here. I just don't see it. I've watched every Saints game this season, some of them multiple times (thank you DVR). I just don't see it. And until someone can produce something more than just conjecture, all I'll be left with is a question: why are people hating on the Saints for no good reason?

Craig

I'm not hating on the Saints at all. It's a good story that the city has wrapped itself around a team known for decades of struggle. (Their most famous player's (Archie Manning) best season was 8-8 for crissake.) I'm all for their feel good story, especially given all the crap that the've experienced from literally everywhere (I won't get political here, the everything about Katrina and how the governing powers handled it is equally embarassing and frustrating.)

What I can't stand (and I've been very consistent about it throughout the history of this site) is media hype. I just won't be able to put up with two weeks of (btw - I'm assuming Indy wins):

A bazillion Manning family-Indy versus Manning Family-New Orleans stories for the next three weeks. Hey, did you know that Archie Manning played for New Orleans? Hey, did you know that Peyton Manning grew up in New Orleans? Hey, did you know that the Manning Family donated $1,328,289.84 dollars to that Katrina Fund? Hey, did you know that Archie Manning is watching the Suber Bowl behind a darkened glass window? No? Well let's keep showing him after his son throws yet another incomplete pass that bounces 47 times to Marvin Harrison... while they get a 12th illegal contact call.

Sure the simple sollution would be to "turn the TV off" but this being the superbowl you'll hear/read this on every medium (internet, tv, newspaper, porn sites, etc.) out there.

So my other option is to turn off sports for two weeks and focus on regular news, like the Iraqi fiasco... NOT good times.

Anyway, like I said, I'm not hating on the Saints at all. In fact, I've never said that they've been lucky. Their use of Reggie Bush has been brilliant (I thought it was hiliarious that in October people were calling him a bust, obviously a lot of people drafted Bush for their fantasy teams and were pissed that he wans't scoring TD's. He's a rookie for fuck's sake! Give him a break, they were using him a a decoy.)

Still, I'll be watching and waiting for any stange events. If I'm wrong you can go off on me for 10,000 words, but let's just wait and see.

BTW - All that being said, as a Bears fan, normally I'd be pumped with a 13-3 record, home field advantage and hosting a dome team, yet with all the injuries on defense (which the media continually forgets) and Grossman's shitty play, I have no confidence. What a weird season... eight weeks in I was quietly planning a SB party, now I'm just relieved that they won a playoff game.

Craig

BTW - Think of a point-counter point topic and let's do it. Drop us an email and Brett will forward it to me.

dave

finally, phil "good virations" jackson is talking some sense. he knows the spurs are coasting right now. he knows the playoffs are a different story. if the standings hold true from now until april the lakers are due for a 1st round loss to the spurs. you know who doesn't know this? kobe "hang on to your ego" bryant. he going to go into a playoff series with the spurs thinking it will be a cake walk. the spurs turn on the playoff d and kobe starts making bad passes and dribbling the ball off his foot trying to do too much. there is no next jordan. kobe is still a knucklehead. if the lakers are so satisfied with themselves, why did they go after webber? point is, it's too early to take any real meaning out of a lakers win over the spurs and a seven game series is long. that being said, i'm pretty impressed with how good the lakers are with just kobe and a bunch of scrubs. especially, with odom and chocolate cake (i love that!) riding the pine.

basketbawful

Two things:

1. Not a single questionable call went the Saints way today. Just sayin'...

1a. The Saints screwed themselves. I kept reading all week about how they were practicing indoors despite the fact that they *knew* they were going to be playing outside in the cold and snow...three things they are totally unused to. How could they have been so stupid. It only takes a few small variables to throw an athlete off their game. Let me put it this way. Have you ever gone to play pickup basketball at an unfamiliar court, or using a ball that was a lot different than you're used to? I'm betting it totally throws you off. It's the same in football. And suddenly a team that rarely turns the ball over goes all butterfingers. Coincidence? I think not. Poor preparataion.

2. SCREW THE PATRIOTS!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Craig

You're right... if anything, all the 50-50 calls went the Bears way.

BTW - I'd like to personally thank Reggie Bush for taunting the entire Bears defense and especially Urlacher as he scored a touchdown. The momentum was all New Orleans and that play was scary as all hell (I just kept waiting for NO to go to Bush the rest of the game), but since the taunt, the Bears outscored New Orleans 23-0.

It wasn't the turning point (the missed FG was), but it helped fuel the defensive effort. Thanks again Reggie!

The game came down to fundamentals, field position and turnovers. The Bears DOMINATED both categories and pulled though despite Rex Grossman playing the first half with both hands firmly around his neck (overthrowing receivers by a mile, calling back-to-back TO's (which is surprisingly illegal) and running off the field too early before halftime). It wasn't until that 5 pass drive before Grossman settled down.

To sum it up I was wrrrr, I was wrrrr, I was wrong about the potential bad refs (they were in Indy... just kidding!). But this is the one time that I'm glad that I was wrong...

I-65 SB!!!!

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