Monday, January 01, 2007


Sorry It's been so long since last post but it's been a pretty hectic time around the offices of the Bostonian, what with the in-laws in town, New Year's Eve festivities,attending bowl games, etc...

I hope that all my loyal readers had a safe and festive New Year's celebration.

Mine was definitely on the safe side- watched the ball drop with the wife & son, had a couple of glasses of champagne (you must pronounce that word as cham-pag-nee, a la Christopher Walken in his hilarious SNL sketch "The Continental") and hit the sack.

Does that mean I'm getting old? Well that's half of it, the other reason my celebration was pretty mellow is because my son & I went to the 2007 Outback Bowl at Ray Jay this morning. Kickoff was at 11:00 a.m. so by 9:30 I was in bumper to bumper traffic on I-275 attempting to get to the exit. Luckily I was one of the few locals trekking to the game (every other car had either a Penn St. flag or UT sticker on it), so I was able to use a few shortcuts gleaned from my trips to the Bucs game with my buddy JT and saved about 45 minutes of stall time.

Thus we made it into the stadium in plenty of time to see the pre-game festivities, which included Charlie Daniels singing the anthem, a flyover by four Harrier Jump jets followed by four paratroopers landing on the 50 yard line. Freaking awesome. Well, except for geriatric Charlie. Needless to say my son, who had never been to a game, college or pro, was awestruck. The flyover was low enough to blow our hair back, and loud enough to make Drew cover his ears while his eyes popped wide open.

Unfortunately I was watching the parachuters and didn't get a pic of the jets.

But I did get some good ones of the 4 guys who braved the blustery conditions (of course it was like the second rainy day in a month) and nailed their jumps.

Well except for the one bearing the UT flag- he slipped at midfield and drew a huge chuckle from the Nittany Lion fans...

...while the Penn State flag bearer landed just fine (foreshadowing, anyone?)
The game itself also turned out to be very entertaining. Penn State defeated the Vols 20-10 in a game that was played hard & tough by both squads and had all the elements of a classic old-time football game:

*Low Scoring- it was 3-3 for much of the first half and 10-10 at halftime

*Hard hitting- one Tennessee player nearly volunteered a few ribs after a nasty , "Jacked Up"-style hit in the second half (look for it on the highlights)

*Punishing running - Penn State running back Tony Hunt gashed the Vols defense for 158 yards on 34 carries and the Lions gained 183 yards on the ground

*Key turnovers- it was a big hit by Penn St. LB Sean Lee that jarred the ball loose from Tennessee RB Adrian Foster's hands at the PSU 12 and Tony Davis returned it 88 yards for the game-winning score (no photos of the actual run, but how 'bout a Jumbotron replay shot?)

All that plus my son & I had a great time at his first "real" football game, so it was a good New Year's day all around.

Well, not for everyone.

Denver Broncos defensive back Darrent Williams shot to death.
It was while I was stuck in that traffic jam that I heard the sad news about the death of the Bronco corner back; I was shocked to learn that the talented and by all accounts fantastic young man was killed after of another stupid night club confrontation .

In case you haven't heard the full story, after the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs with a home overtime loss to the 49ers Williams and others attended a birthday party for Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin at a club called Safari in the LoDo section of Denver. LoDo is the revitalized, trendy part of downtown Denver that has seen a massive surge in popularity since the city renovated all the old warehouses and factory buildings and lined the streets around Coors Field with bars, clubs, restaurants and microbreweries.

Williams or someone with him had a minor confrontation at the party that appeared to be no big deal at the time.

But shortly after 2:00 a.m. Williams and his companions left the club in a Hummer limo when the vehicle was sprayed with gunfire on the busy downtown thoroughfare Speer Blvd., and the 24-year-old was hit by a bullet in the neck, killing him instantly. Two other people were taken to the hospital with injuries, and unconfirmed reports state that one of the other passengers in the ride was Bronco wide receiver Javon Walker, although he was reportedly not injured.

It's yet another senseless tragedy that is as old as becoming much too common with today's athletes. Two weeks ago Bears lineman Tank Johnson's bodyguard was shot & killed over a beef in a Chicago club, and just last night Vikings receiver Travis Taylor was Tasered and arrested for disobeying a police officer after exiting a downtown Minnesota night spot.

Let's move on to some on-field NFL news.

Playoffs are set after a wild final Sunday
It was a fitting end to a crazy 2006 season as the final wild card spot wasn't decided until about 7:30 EST, when San Francisco kicker Joe Nedney hit a 36-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the Broncos, knocking Denver out of the last spot and allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to slip in.

So the final standings look like this:

AFC: East- New England (12-4); West- San Diego (14-2); North- Baltimore (13-3); South -Indy (12-4) WILD CARDS: New York Jets (10-6); Kansas City (9-7)

NFC: East- Philly (10-6); West- Seattle (9-7); North- Chicago (13-3); South- New Orleans (10-6) WILD CARDS: Dallas (9-7); NY Giants (8-8)

Saturday: Kansas City @ Indianapolis, 4:30; Dallas @ Seattle, 8:00 EST.

Sunday: NY Jets @ New England, 1:00; NY Giants @ Philly, 4:30

Byes: San Diego; Baltimore; Chicago; New Orleans

Kansas City made the cut because Herm Edwards ran Larry Johnson to the tune of an all-time record for carries in a season (416) as the Chiefs knocked off the Jags, 35-30. So all Denver had to do was defeat the 11-point underdog Niners (7-9), because cocky coach Mike Shanahan even went so far as to say he didn't want the Chiefs to lose so the Broncos wouldn't "back in" to the playoffs. Wish granted, your royal genius.

The Cowboys tumble from atop the NFC East was complete after an embarrassing 39-31 home loss to the lowly (3-13) Lions. Philly's win over the floundering Falcons made the division race moot, but the way the Boys have staggered to the finish line has left many a fan in Big D wringing their hands over the playoff prospects of their erratic team. Dallas has allowed 32 points in its last 4 games and let the Lions score the most points it had since 2003. Yikes.
By the way, the Romo Bandwagon has OFFICIALLY rolled over after his 4 fumble (2 lost), 1 interception performance.

Seattle avoided the dubious distinction of having a record over .500 entering the post season, unlike the G-Men, by knocking off the woeful Yucs (4-12), 23-7. It's worth noting because the Seahawks were actually 3 point underdogs to the Yucs. How embarrassing is that? The defending NFC champions and current NFC West division champions getting points against a 3-12 team!

But as embarrassing as that may seem how about the worst 13-3 team in the history of the NFL, the Chicago Bears? These wannabe champs took on his holiness Brett Favre and the Packers last night and proceeded to leave a ring around the new spaceship-like interior of Soldier Field. The Bears got trounced, 6-7, and Rex Gross-man had yet another odorific outing: 2-12, 33 yards and 3 interceptions. Wow. Repeat after me, Lovie: "Rex is our quarterback...and we will be one & done."

After the game Favre feigned off questions of whether or not he will retire as he blubbered into the camera about his love of the guys and the game and blah,blah,blah. Just do it already, Brett, and spare us all the soap opera theatrics. I'm glad I didn't watch that horror show- I'm sure it was one giant Favre slurpfest for his # 1 fan, Madden.

So the regular season is over and it's time for the real season to begin. Interesting facts about this postseason, most courtesy of Mr. Peabody, a.k.a. ESPN's John Clayton:

*Two games will be rematches (NYG/PHI; NYJ/NE) and the road teams won all 4 games

*New Orleans finished 10-6 and got a #2 seed, New England went 12-4 and got a #4. Ah the wonderful NFC.

*There are 7 new teams in the playoffs this year; there were also 7 new teams in the playoffs last year. Can you say 'parity'?

* The Chargers, winners of 10 straight, are the hottest team going in. The Cowboys and Seahawks, ironically, are the coldest; both have lost 3 of 4 (I smell a Something's Gotta Give game.)

Well that's all I got for today. Gotta go watch the rest of the bowls and try to digest everything that has happened over the past 48 hours. I will return with a complete updated post tomorrow.

Happy New Year.

Darrent Williams, R.I.P.

No comments: