Saturday, February 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Son!





Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Update

The comparisons between Anna & Marilyn are eerie

It's only fitting that the controversies surrounding Anna Nicole Smith's death are as bizarre and unbelievable as they were during her life. if not more so. Like the starlet she modeled her career after, Marilyn Monroe, Anna led a fast, flashy life and died a mysterious, tragic death before the age of 40.

Appropriately in Hollywood (Fla.)

While zillions of stories circle the blogosphere following the zaftig model's death yesterday afternoon many have proven to be the result of rumors and speculation. Almost anyone could have predicted the circus-like atmosphere that is shrouding her death because the woman lived in a constant such state, but the shit that has been coming out since her demise sounds like fodder for pulpy paperback novels and E! True Hollywood stories.

A few of the items that have come forth in the past 28 hours include the police verifying that prescription drugs were found in Smith's hotel room but not any illegal drugs, as had been reported on many sites, and no prescription drugs were found in her stomach, according to results of her autopsy. Also her strange (not estranged, the dude is just odd) husband Howard K. Stern is reportedly the executor of Smith's will, which would make it tricky for him to collect any possible financial windfall the SC might award due to the fact that one person cannot be the executor and beneficiary of a will. Sucks to be you, Howie!

Anna's daughter Dannielynn is the likely bene-ficiary due to the passing of her son Daniel, and depending on who is determined to be the girl's father- Stern or former Smith boyfriend Larry Birkhead- will decide which man gets to cash in his golden ticket.

Which brings me to the oddest part of this wild odyssey; someone else has thrown his hat into the ring of fire that is the paternity issue of little Dannie-lynn, and this guy ain't a photographer, a lawyer, or a octogenarian billionaire. No, this one is a prince. Or at least a wannabe prince. Prince Frederick von Anhalt, better known as Zsa Zsa Gabor's (yes, she's still alive & kicking at 90) 65-year-old husband, is now claiming that he fathered the 6-month-old baby because he had been having an affair with Smith for at least a decade. Excuse me?! What the f**k is that all about?!

Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder.

Other developments include Anna's mother, Virgie Arthur, arriving in the Bahamas to begin looking into who will take custody of the baby; news that Stern & Smith had bought a 39-foot boat in Florida and that they were planning to take it home to the Bahamas today; and G. Ben Thompson, another rich old dude Smith hooked up with, arrived in the Bahamas as well. Not to check on the baby's well-being, but to change the locks on the house Anna had been staying in for the past 6 months. Why did he do that? Because he owns the property and had been haggling with Smith to vacate the premises for months before her death.

All of this has happened in a little over 24 hours.

I shudder to think what lies ahead in this sad, sordid saga.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith found dead

Anna Nicole Smith, 11/28/67- 2/8/07

The tumultuous, tragedy-filled life of model/actress Anna Nicole Smith came to an abrupt end at around 2:00 pm today when she was found unconscious in her hotel room at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Although the official cause of death has yet to be determined, 9 out of 10 armchair doctors are laying money on a drug overdose or complications from excessive, prolonged drug use.

The 39-year-old buxom blond's life had been filled with contro-versy, tragedy and legal drama for much of the past 10 years. Her son, Daniel, died in the Bahamas three days after Anna gave birth to her daughter, Dannielynn, last September. It was determined that Daniel, 20, had a lethal combination of drugs in his system when he collapsed in Smith's hospital room.

Following that horrible event, a paternity suit developed regard-ing the true father of Dannielynn; Smith claimed it was her long-time friend & lawyer, Howard K. Stern, while her ex-boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, claimed he was the biological father.

Smith's journey from working-class country girl Vickie Lynn Hogan to international sex symbol began when she graced the cover of Playboy in 1992. Soon the voluptuous platinum blond was draw-ing comparisons to Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, and by the time she was named Playmate of the Year and spokesmodel for Guess? Jeans in 1993, she was an object of lust for millions of heterosexual men, yours truly included, of all ages from all over the world.

But the magic carpet ride of photo spreads, B-movie roles and enjoying life to the fullest started to unravel when she married billionaire J. Howard Marshall in 1994. The starlet was just 26 while her new paramour was a robust 89. The controversial pairing brought both unrelenting claims of "golddigger" from the press and disgusted reactions from her fans as she was seen smooching and hugging the dodgy, geriatric oil tycoon.
Marshall passed away just over a year after they married and im-mediately Smith was embroiled in a nasty dispute over the dis-tribution of the Marshall fortune. She joined forces with one of Marshall's sons in a claim against his other son, E.Pierce Marshall, as to who should receive the majority of his estate. Although nei-ther had a written claim to the fortune, Smith swore that Marshall promised her half of his assets shortly after they wed.

After numerous judgements for both sides and more than a decade of legal wrangling, the case has yet to be resolved. Recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, but unfortunately Smith will never get to see its conclusion.

The firestorm of controversy, supposed heartbreak, and public ridicule led Anna down a dark path of overeating, drug addiction and ultimately self-parody. Her television series, The Anna Nicole Show, debuted on E! TV in 2002 and immediately brought those realities into clear view for the whole world to see. A bloated, incoherent and disgusting Smith waddled through life with her manslave Stern in tow, while a bewildered-yet-innocent looking Danny hung on as his mother embarrassed herself time and time again in front of the cameras.

The show was cancelled in 2004 after overexposure made the once-adoring masses sick of the behemoth, babbling former babe. Ironically, after that she began to rehab-ilitate her image-sort of; Anna became a spokeswoman for weight loss program TrimSpa and shaved at least 100 pounds off her ample frame. Still busty & boisterous, Smith soon stumbled into controversy again when she made a slurred appearance at the 2004 Amer-ican Music Awards, rekindling rumors of drug and/or alcohol abuse. These rumors persisted right up until Daniel's death; many blamed the young man's demise on the years he had spent watching his mother turn into an addicted, cartoon-like character.

But something tells me that the woman who was truly larger than life in life will become an even grander figure following her tragic death. Like the woman she has been compared to most, Marilyn Monroe, she lived hard and died young under mysterious circumstances. Stories like that only serve to help legends grow, and the legend of Anna Nicole Smith will live on long past this day.

The only question left is, who will play her in the inevitable biopic?

R.I.P. Anna Nicole.

And thanks for the memories.

The early years

Playboy material

Guess? what I've got?

Two reasons why she made it big

Goodbye, Vickie Lynn


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

39 and holding

That's right today I officially begin my year in Pre-40's Purgatory; I only have one more year that I can say I am thirtysomething, 39 & holding, that 30 rocks!

The thirties are quite a decade in a person's life. The immaturity and impetuousness of the teens & twenties fall by the wayside, replaced by a grizzled, knowing immaturity and impetuousness that comes with onset of being considered 'old' for the first time.

When I turned 30 I didn't have time to realize what was happening since my wife threw me a great surprise birthday party. Not only was I completely taken off guard when I saw all my friends and family at the house that night, but by the time enough adult beverages had been consumed and the exotic dancer left I didn't dwell on the fact that I had officially entered my thirties.

No, that realization hit home when I reached the dreaded 35. Why was 35 worse than 30 for me? Aside from the fact that there were no strippers it was the realization that I had officially run aground on the sandbar that is middle age. Halfway home. Glass half empty. Time ticking away....

I stumbled around in that state of depression for about a week or two before I shook it off by reminding myself "hey, at least I've still got 5 years till I turn 40!" Now that grace period has dwindled to a year, which makes me feel like more of a lame duck than George Bush.

But something positive thing did come out of the last decade: I found out that family is more important than anything else. Thanks to eye-opening events like 9/11, the Iraq War and even mid-January Florida tornadoes that wipe out dozens of sleeping citizens in the blink of an eye, I know that it is crucial to spend as much time with your family while you can.

So I guess my 30's weren't all bad.
Since this is 'my big day' I decided to post about some things that interest me. For a change.

I read a couple of amusing pieces today on Sportscenter anchor Stuart Scott on Deadspin. Let me start off by saying I HATE STU SCOTT WITH A PASSION. I find his condescending tone, wanna-be-ghetto-hip slang and annoying catchphrases to be an immense distraction to what the man is supposed to be doing for a living- anchoring a sports news show.

Instead the ultracocky 'smoov brova ' hands out cute sayings like Mike Vick hands out STDs and after a few too many "cooler than the other side of the pillow"s, "holla at a brother"s and "hater in the house"s I want to poke my eardrums out with a letter opener. Not to mention the horrifically overplayed "Boo-Yah!" Of course Stu thinks his "ridickified" lingo is the hippest thing since Chuck D's lyrics, in turn making him the baddest brother in broadcasting. To me, and evidently many others, it makes him sound like a Tourrette's victim who swallowed a ebonics dictionary, combined with a nauseating desire to come off like Jamie Foxx. Dude, you're from a middle class family and went to North Carolina. You ain't street so please stop trying to be!

Some of my Stu Scott dislike comes from the time I saw him when I was in Denver for the 1998 Baseball All Star Game. My buddy Bill not only had tickets to the game at Coors Field but due to some work connections also scored passes to the Players Party at the convention center. It was incredible to see so many great athletes under one roof: Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, George Brett, Jeter, A Rod (when he was with Seattle, before everyone hated him), tiny Vinny Cashstealer, Juan Gonzalez, Pudge Rodriguez. The lineup was incredible. Everywhere I turned was another player just hanging out, chatting or getting a drink.

Anyway, a bunch of ESPN guys were in town (I met Dan Patrick on the street the day before) and soon enough Stu-ya walks in acting like the pimp of the prom. I mean you would have thought the guy was Denzel, Jordan, and Tiger all rolled into one. As people recognized him he gave the slight head nod as if to say "thanks for acknowledging me but I'm not really gonna return the favor" and pimp walked his way to a private area, ostensibly so he wouldn't be harassed.
The first thing I thought when I saw this was "what a douchebag. You're a freakin' cable sports anchor, not a real athlete or celebrity, so get over yourself."

Which brings me to the point of my story. As I'm checking out Deadspin I read a piece about how Stu is ticked at one of their columnists for releasing an article about Stu trying to score a booty call while in Miami for the Super Bowl. Evidently Stu, married with 2 kids, had no desire to have this juicy bit of info plastered on the world wide web.

Too late, Stewie. Not only is the cat out of the bag but you'd better start coming up with some clever phrases for "brother kicked out of his crib with no place to crash 'cept a hoochie mama's couch." What a loser this guy is.

To top it all off I found another post on the site from last August about a "group" that had come up with a disparaging song about Stu. The commenters ripped the guys for many obvious reasons, and although their singing was American Idol-reject lame, the message was spot on. Listen and enjoy it, and let's all hope Stu does something to get himself booya-ted from SC soon, so I can start watching it again.

Tonight for my birthday present I get to watch another installment of the classic North Carolina/Duke college hoop rivalry. In case you didn't know this about me yet I am an avid Duke fan. I know what you are thinking, "how can a Sox/Pats fan like a team that is often referred to as the Stankees of college ball?" Well it began in the mid-'80s, when I was knee-deep in hoops hysteria thanks to a guy named Larry and a team known to wear Green. Along with the NBA I also enjoyed college hoops a great deal, but as most Mass residents will attest to college sports takes a back seat to the 4 pro teams in the region.

Although I watched games every week I had no hometown team to root for; BC had a just few decent seasons when Dana Barros was there, and this was before UMass went on its bought-&-paid-for run to national prominence. So when I watched games each week who was there to watch but Duke? As the great coach Pete Gillen once said about the Blue Devils propensity for appearing on national television: "certainly Duke is Duke...they're on TV more than Leave it to Beaver reruns."

So began a decades long infatuation with the boys from Durham, starting from the days of Mark Alarie, Danny Ferry & Johnny Dawkins through the Laettner-Hurley-Grant Hill era and the Brand-Battier-Jason Williams regime right up till the recently concluded JJ Redick/Shelden Williams age. There have been so many great players, great games, and such a clean history associated with the Blue Devils program that I personally can't see why the entire country hates them. But I guess that's what fans of the Stanks say.

And tonight is another installment in one of sports greatest rivalries when the Dukies take on the Tarheels, their arch enemy whose school is located just 8 miles down Tobacco Road from Durham. The Devils come into this game riding a two game losing streak, and both losses were last-second heart breakers: 68-66 at Virginia on a buzzer-beating shot and 68-67 at home to the Noles (the first ever win for FSU @ Cameron Indoor.) Both games ended with Josh McRoberts futilely attempting to hit a final shot, but as this team is so young it is still trying to find its footing in the rough & tough ACC.
As the tired saying goes you can throw out the records when the Devils and Heels go at it; the game often features fantastic finishes and 4 of the last 5 meetings have been decided by 5 points or less.

Whenever games like this come on there is always an outpouring of "best rivalries in sports" pieces, which of course got me thinking about my favorite rivalries. Here is my list of the best sports rivalries, past & present, in honor of tonight's epic contest.

Major League Baseball
ALL TIME & CURRENT: Red Sox Yankees
Sure I'm biased, being from New England and having been witness to hundreds of these contests myself, but anyone would be hard pressed to come up with two teams, cities, and fan bases that dislike each other more than these two. Maybe back in the day the Giants/Dodgers or Cubs/Cards were big time, but this one dates back to the early 1900's, festered throughout the century, and came to a head in that miraculous ALCS in 2004. You know, the greatest comeback in the history of sports.

This rivalry might just be the best in the history of sports as well.

ALL TIME: Dallas/Washington
CURRENT: Patriots & everybody
When teams are whining because you are celebrating too heavily you know the rest of the league can't stand you.

ALL TIME: Celtics/Lakers
This one is officially shot now that Celtics "fans" are rooting for Laker players.
CURRENT: David Stern/Fans
With players getting arrested every other week, getting in brawls the other weeks, and other players who admit to participating in the slam dunk contest just for the money, how can anyone tell if there is a rivalry worth watching now? Stern would have the fans think it's Lakers/Heat, but that made-for-TV rivalry is lamer than Battle of the Network Stars.

Who cares?

ALL TIME: Some will say Army/Navy, or Harvard/Yale, but I'll go with Ohio State Michigan
CURRENT: Ohio State/Michigan
The recent resurgence by the Buckeyes has only made this rivalry sweeter, or more bitter depending on your perspective. But as long as the keep churning out 1 vs. 2 shootouts, this one will stay at the top of the heap.

ALL TIME & CURRENT: Duke/Carolina
Storied history (dating back to 1920); close proximity; Hall of Fame coaches; stellar winning records; spotless academic records; myriad players make the NBA. This rivalry cannot be matched anywhere by anyone.

It simply is one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.

And the 222nd edition should be no different.

Happy Birthday to me.


Monday, February 05, 2007

SB XLI Wrap up: The Entertainment

Now that the Super Bowl is over there is just one bit of unfinished business to take care of before we sign off from the NFL for a while...

...reviewing the Super Bowl entertainment, i.e. the commercials & halftime shows.

Most years the ritual of watching, grading, and talking about the ads & acts that play during the Big Game is more fun than the actual game itself. Websites now run "grade the Super Bowl ad" polls as the popularity of these mini-movies grows, and companies regularly pay over $2 million apiece to run spots during the most watched program on the planet. Whether they are clever & innovative or ridiculous & redundant, these spots can fuel water cooler discussions long after who won the game leaves the public conscience.

Who won, anyway?

This year the NFL tapped some old standards to take care of the song & dance portions of the extravaganza, trotting out Billy DUI Joel for an unmoving rendition of the anthem, and then wheeling out the petite purple Prince himself for the halftime show. What's wrong with this picture? Well for one thing those two have a combined age of 105, meaning the majority of viewers have either seen/heard them so many times that they are sick to death of them while the rest of the audience just turned to each other with looks that said "who the f**k are these geezers?"

And while Joel sucked Prince actually did an admirable job of making the halftime show work.

Decked out in an aqua suit and hair net 'do rag, the Artist took the electric purple stage shaped like the symbol he once used as a moniker and ripped through a set of his classics plus covers of others that had Prince-ophiles like my wife squealing with joy. Coupled with innovative use of lighting which created an iconic silhouette against a billowing sheet and some traditional nasty guitar work it made for a flashy, fun performance against the backdrop of the rainy Miami night.

"Let's Go Crazy
" was a great choice for his intro song, but Tina Turner's "Proud Mary"? Why? By the time he attempted to belt out the Foo Fighter's "Best of You" I almost reached for my iPod so I could hear the song the way it was intended to be heard- sung by Dave Grohl. (my wife & I both pointed out that it would have been much cooler to have the Foos up there with Prince and let Dave growl out the lyrics while Prince provided the guitar- why can't execs think of this stuff?)

But the little man redeemed himself on his closing number, with a little help from Mother Nature. His rendition of the soulful ballad "Purple Rain" was certainly befitting the soggy evening and served as an anthem for the entire event. Capped by an explosive pyrotechnics display, Prince exited the stage as one of the top halftime performers in history, trailing U2 and Nipple-gate but certainly ahead of the Rolling Stones and Sir Paul McCartney.

Not bad for a little old guy with a degenerative hip condition.

Now onto the main stuff- the ads. This year was a mixture of good & bad, hilarious and stupid. But with so many companies vying for only so much ad time you're going to get a hodgepodge like that.

That's why there are so many sites like this to sort through the riffraff and help you decide which ones were the most memorable, for better or worse.

So without further adieu, and with the help of iFilms, here are my Top 5 Super Bowl ads in various categories.


5- Honda, GMC, & Toyota
With bland ads like the ones these guys came up with it's no wonder the car business is in the crapper

4- Bud Dalmation
Okay, we know the Clydesdales are played out and the Lizards are so '90s but resorting to a little spotted dog? Cute, but cheap. At least it didn't talk.

3- Schick Quattro
A lady slipping off a treadmill-brilliant! (not)

2- Sales Guy
An absolute snoozer that had no business being shown during this marquee event

1- Prudential: Retirement

"A rock can..." bring your Super Bowl viewing party to a grinding halt. Please, never again.


5- Fed Ex: Moon Service
With all the air, sea and ground angles covered in past ads, FedEx took to outer space for inspiration in this original chuckler

4-Doritos :Crash
This contest-winning gem was reportedly made for $12 bucks. Take that Madison Ave.

3- Sprint Broadband
Coining the phrase "connectile dysfunction" served to both skewer those annoying male performance-enhancing drug ads and boost the visibility of Sprint's product. Brilliant!
Not a particularly great series of ads, but combining the drab world of office cubbies with the do-or-die urgency of Survivor/ Lost was a creative stroke of genius

1-Coke: Assembly Line
Even though this ad has run in theaters for months seeing the magical inner workings of a coke machine made for fun, fantastic viewing .


5- American Heart Association: Heart
Nothing like talking about diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity while 95 million people are loading up on nachos, fried foods and beer. Thanks Captain Buzzkill!

4-Chevy: Car Wash
This one featured a bunch of shirtless guys washing a Chevy HHR in the middle of a downtown street to Nelly's "Hot in Herrre". It was created by a 19-year old contest winner. 'Nuff said.

3-Emerald Nuts: Office
Although I commend them for their originality, Robert Goulet crawling along an office ceiling made me a little uncomfortable.

2-Budweiser: Strategy
Call me crazy but I felt the mating of coaching legend Don Shula, hip hop icon Jay-Z and a holographic game of virtual football just didn't click.

1-Revlon: Sheryl Crow
Okay, let's cut this shit out right now. Do women watch the Super Bowl? Yes. Do women deserve to have a makeup commercial planted smack dab in the middle of the crucial third quarter? Hells no! It was the equivalent of pulling the E-brake on a bullet train.


5-Taco Bell: Talking Lions
After a massive food poisoning scandal all they can come up with is an a CG lion who purrs "carrrrne asada"? How 'bout giving away your craptastic food and bringing back the chihuahua?

4-Go Daddy
The mysterious domain name provider continued its tradition of using busty women to sell their site, but this time dragged American Chopper's Teutel family with them. How creative.

3-Bud Lite: Slap & Faceoff
Okay, so they were funny at first. But the more you think about them and the more you see them, the more disturbing- and unfunny- they become

2- Garmin: Map Monster

Cheesy Japanese monsters, Power Rangers, bad hair bands and a GPS device. You're fired!

1-Snickers: Mechanic
Way to bounce back from Nipplegate, NFL- air a commercial with two men kissing while chewing a candy bar right near the beginning of the game when all the kiddies are watching. Nice. *Worst Commercial Award*.


5-Chevy: Singers

-The only cool car ad tapped the likes of Mary J. Blige, Big & Rich, T.I. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to sing songs referencing the Bowtied automaker. Very well done, especially racer Johnny O'Connell "rapping" LL Cool J's "Going Back to Cali".

4- Blockbuster Mouse

-Yes the former video giant used the tired template of talking CG-animated animals, but this silly, simple spot got its point across and had the benefit of a voiceover from Jack Donaghy himself, Golden Globe winner Alec Baldwin.

3- Bud Lite:Hitchhiker
-Although this one used a couple of old themes- doing anything for a Bud Light and movie villains- it made them funny & original; finally, a decent beer ad!

2- Nationwide: K-Fed
-The (sorta) lovable loser lampooned himself for a reported $500,000 and now he is laughing all the way to the bank while we are just laughing at this clever ad. Actually made my wife exclaim "I like K-Fed now"-but will it help sell insurance? "Federline! Fries!"

1- Coke: Love

-This creative take on the controversial yet wildly popular video game Grand Theft Auto was not only visually stunning but it sent a positive, anti-GTA message, and tied in with the Miami setting of the Bowl. Gotta "give a little love" to Coke for their innovative entries, and this masterpiece takes home the top prize for 2007. Loved the dancing rats.

Honorable mention goes out to Oprah & Letterman's couch snuggle, but that was more a promo than an ad so it was disqualified from consideration. Also the Carlos Mencia Bud ads were decent and my wife & the gals in her office enjoyed another amateur contest winner, the slightly risque Doritos Cashier spot.

Anyway, that's all I got. Any comments, complaints, or arguments, feel free to let me know. Until next year, Super Bowl coverage is officially over.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl XLI: Colts 29, Bears 17

An awful new version of the Manning Face has appeared- the smug "I've got one now, too" look

First the Gators win the BCS title, then the Pats lose to the Colts in the AFC title game, and now the Colts are the Super Bowl champs.

My Personal Sports Season is starting out very shitty.

Yes the Indianapolis Colts did what many people expected them to do Sunday night in a dreary downpour in Miami, and because of it us Pats fans will have to endure a full year of stuff like this, and hearing that now Peyton Manning only trails Brady by 2 rings. And by only 1 SB MVP award.

That's right his Royal Whineness won the MVP with his 25-38, 247 yards, 1 touchdown outing. Like they were going to give it to anyone else if the Colts won. The only way he wasn't getting that trophy was if he pulled a Grossman.

Of course Grossman was the focal point of the loss for Chicago. I know I said it was the Year of the Gator but neither that kind of karma nor the supernatural spurring of Chicago Bob could overcome the condition hereby known as Gross-mania. By definition Gross-mania is the propensity to make incredibly stupid plays at the absolute worst time of a game, including flinging the pigskin down field to nobody in particular, coupled with a high susceptibility to fumbling, tripping, and generally looking like a 14-year-old pre-pubescent doofus.

Grossman was guilty of all of the above in a game he'd love to forget, along with all the other ones he's had this season; he was 20-28 for 165 yards (take away the 5-5 for 54 yards on the final, meaningless drive and he was a horrid 15-23 for 111 yards) with 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles (1 lost), 1 trip/sack, num-erous mishandled exchanges, ensuring a lifetime of shame and embarrassment. It was the kind of game that has caused the rabid Bears fans to call for Lovie Smith to replace him with veteran Brian Griese for the past 3 months.

I know I named Grossman as one of the reasons why the Bears would win, but that was a tongue-in-cheek shot at the Gators recent run of success. No one in their right mind would never choose Grossman over Manning in a game that mattered. Or a game that didn't. Even my son said "why did you pick the Bears, Dad, you hate Grossman?" Ah the wisdom of youth.

: IND- 430 CHI- 265
Pass Yds: IND-239 CHI-154
Rush Yds: IND- 191 CHI-111
1st Downs: IND- 24 CHI-11
Tot. Plays: IND-81 CHI-48
T.O.P.: IND- 38:04 CHI-21:56
T.O.s: IND-3 CHI-5

Those stats tell the whole story as to why the Colts won this game and the Bears were less impressive than musical geezers Prince & Billy Joel combined. Indy ran roughshod all over the vaunted Bears defense, crrushing Urlacher & his defensive cohorts for nearly 200 yards on the ground, and when have you ever seen a team win a Super Bowl with 5 turnovers?

It's ironic (i.e. intentional) that I mentioned those other games in the opening because this Super Bowl bore a bit of a resemblance to both the BCS title game and the AFC Championship game.

When Devin Hester returned the opening kick of the game for a 92-yard touchdown (predicted by yours truly) to give the Bears a 7-0 lead just :14 into the game it was an eerie parallel to Tedd Ginn Jr's 93-yard opening kickoff return for Ohio State :16 into that title game. Just as in that contest the boost that scoring on the very first play of the game provides was a distant, and rare good, memory for the team that benefited from it.

And much like in the AFC title game against the Pats Indy looked very bad early, falling into a 14-6 hole after one quarter, only to come roaring back and swing the balance of the game in their favor by the end.

The first quarter alone packed enough action to satisfy a John Woo fan: 3 touchdowns, 3 fumbles, 1 interception, 1 missed PAT, and numerous slips & bobbles due to the soggy conditions. One wacky exchange saw the teams fumble on successive possessions, the first of two such occurrences in this miserably muddy match.

By the second quarter Manning & Co. settled in and went to work on Chicago's defense. Steady during the regular season the depleted unit had been manhandled pretty effectively in the postseason, and that trend continued tonight. Indy mounted back-to-back scoring drives, one an 8-play, 47-yarder that culminated in a 29-yard field goal by Vinateri, the other a 7-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Dominick Rhodes (21 carries, 113 yards, TD) for Indy's first lead of the game, 16-14.

For Chicago it was all downhill from there.

The Bears went 3 & out and Manning appeared to be driving for a back breaking score before the half. But Brendan Fletcher fumbled at the Bears 37 and Chicago had new life. That life lasted approximately :07 seconds as Rex the Fumble Dog botched the snap and dropped the ball in Indy's lap. Luckily for Rexie Urlacher made a huge stop on Joseph Addai on 3rd & 2 from the 17 and then my hex came through big time as Mr. Automatic, Vinateri, missed a 36-yard field goal as the half expired, and Chicago went into the break trailing by just 2 points despite the staggering advantage Indy held in most categories:

Yards: IND- 257 CHI-95
Pass Yds: IND-193 CHI-32
Rush Yds: IND-64 CHI-63
Plays: IND- 46 CHI-19
T.O.P: IND- 19:56 CHI- 10:04
T.O.s: IND-3 CHI-3

Unfortunately for Chicago those numbers would only get uglier by the time it was all over. How bad? From the time Indy mounted that drive that ended the first half until the time Chicago got another offensive snap was 56 minutes of actual real time. That's right the Bears went nearly a full hour during the game without touching the ball. That's because after Prince staged a flamboyant-yet-subdued halftime show (more on that later) Indy took the second half kickoff and embarked on a punishing 13-play, 56-yard drive that ate up half of the 3rd quarter, and although they had to settle for another Vinateri field goal, the psychological damage had already been inflicted.

As the minutes ticked by it became more and more apparent that Chicago's soggy defense could not stop the Indy offense, and with Chicago's offense doing its best impersonation of the Keystone Cops the game was over before it was officially over.

The unofficial ending came 3:00 into the 4th quarter after the teams had traded field goals to make the score 22-17 heading into the final frame. That's when a severe case of Gross-mania overtook Rexie, and he threw an incomprehensibly bad pass intended for Muhammad that was intercepted by Kelvin Who? Hayden for a game-clinching 56-yard touchdown that sealed Manning's, as well as Grossman's, legacy.

It was about as bad as a quarterback can play in the ultimate game, and the funny thing is that nobody is the least bit surprised that it happened. All season long Lovie defiantly stood by his man as people far & wide could see that this kid has a serious case of the jitters, can't think or perform under pressure, and would never be able to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.

They used to say the same thing about Manning & Dungy.

No one can say that anymore.

The Colts can hold their heads up high because they finally did what they needed to do in order to get the respect and admiration that winning the Bowl brings. The much-maligned defense came up huge in the postseason, allowing only 16.5 points per game and holding opponents to just 83 yards rushing per game after allowing a league-low 173 yards on the ground per game during the regular season. Manning came up huge in the biggest post-season of his life, guiding the team to score after score in the last two games and learning that the game is won by both sides of the team not just the offense. And Tony Dungy can finally stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Chucky Gruden as Super Bowl winning coaches.

And he can be proud of the fact that he did it his way.


Super Bowl XLI Preview

Super Bowl XLI
Indianapolis Colts (12-4) vs. Chicago Bears (13-3)
Miami, Florida; Dolphin Stadium
Line: IND -7

The time has come. This is the best day and the worst day of the year for us football fans.

The best because after a lengthy preseason beginning in August, through an exciting and surprising 17 week regular season followed by a fast & furious postseason, the NFL has reached its pinnacle, its premiere game, its showcase, centerpiece and final destination.

The worst because after tonight it will be another 7 months before we will see meaningful football again. For some, that is a reason to cry; for others, a reason to rejoice. But let's leave the wives out of this post.

And let me tell you after 2 weeks of dull, repetitive coverage of these two milquetoast teams, where the most exciting thing that happened was former Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan getting arrested at the Miami airport Friday for passing bad checks in Nevada (yawn), I can safely say that yes, I am ready for some football. Even if it is between 2 teams I could care less about.

That brings me to my Super Bowl preview.

The Bears are going to win.

I was going to leave it at that, but it made for a pretty dull post. So I thought I'd better back up my prediction with some reasons.


5- Peyton Manning & Marvin Harrison
Together these two are truly Regular Season Wonders, hooking up for the most completions and touchdowns by a quarterback/receiver combo ever. But in the playoffs these guys just can't seem to get it together.

Harrison especially has found the going much tougher when the games matter the most; he has only 55 catches and 2 touchdowns in 3 career playoff games. Manning has fared better this year as far as wins go, but he is still a subpar 72-115 (63%) with just 2 touchdowns and 6 picks this postseason. Coming into this season, Manning's career playoff record was 3-6. Not stellar stuff from the two most important guys on the team. Could they have a monkey-shedding coming out party Sunday night? Absolutely! I just don't think they will.

Of course, now that I've said that you can bank on them lighting it up, Manning will probably throw for 400 yards and 4 TDs while Harrison rakes in 10 grabs for 150 yards with 3 scores and they'll share the MVP trophy & head off to Disney together.

4- Tony Dungy
Let me start off by saying Tony Dungy is a great man and a great leader of men, and I respect his character, integrity and attitude.The man just can't win the Big One.Which is the reason why the Glazers jettisoned him out of Tampa and hired hot shot Chucky Gruden to steer Dungy's steeds towards Super Bowl glory.

Everyone on the planet knows that Buccaneer team that won it all in 2003 was built on the foundation that Tony laid, along with Lovie Smith, Herm Edwards, and the rest of that staff. Trouble was Tony couldn't get the team over the hump, and he finds himself in that position again in Indianapolis. Here he is on the brink of his biggest game ever, yet the man cannot relax because he has to know that if he doesn't get it done here he may wear that unattractive label the rest of his career and life. And wouldn't it be something if it is Tony's former protege who denies him his ultimate shot at glory.

3- RB Joseph Addai
1,081 yards and 7 touchdowns in the regular season, 217 yards and two more scores in 3 postseason games, including the memorable game-winner against the Pats in the AFC title game (god it hurts to write that phrase.) Kid's good, alright. But the key is he's just a kid, a rookie, and we know how most rookies fare in big games. Especially when they are going up against a good defense like the Bears, which ranked 6th against the run in the regular season and held the Saints to a mere 56 yards on the ground in the NFC Championship game.

And a closer look at Addai's playoff totals shows that he gained 122 of those 217 yards in the Wild Card game against the Chiefs, a team ranked 18th against the run in the regular season. In the other two games, he gained 39 (vs BAL) and 56 (vs NE) yards. My guess is his totals are going to resemble those numbers rather than the Chiefs' total. So, the Colts running attack should be nullified.

2-The Curse of Adam Vinateri
The Sports Guy put it best when he said it made him sick to see Vinateri at media day wearing a Colts jersey while talking about the biggest game in the sport. It's just not right, like seeing Britney wear panties or a city overreact to a bunch of Lite Brites.

I mean this guy is a New England legend, a man who won more games for the Pats during their dynastic run than Brady and was nearly as popular as Tom Terrific around the Commonwealth. He is one of the greatest kickers of all-time and probably is the greatest postseason kicker of all time.

He's automatic. He's money. He's a bleeping Colt!

If there is a Football God, hopefully, he will make sure justice is served when and if Vinateri lines up for any potential game-altering kick. Because if the Patriot Nation has to witness that man make a Super Bowl-winning kick for that team, well there's not enough anti-depressants in the country to get everyone down from the Zakim Bridge.

1- Relocated team= bad karma
Don't think the football gods have forgotten the fact that Indy is a carpetbagging team that stole out of Baltimore in the dead of night back in 1982 and relocated to America's heartland. Although the Rams escaped the Relocation Jinx back in 2000, the Gods (and Vinateri) caught up with them in 2002.


5- Rex Grossman
Sure the questionable quarterback is as unstable as Junior Soprano and about as predictable as an M. Knight Shamalayan film, but there is one thing he has got in his favor going into the biggest game of his life:

2006-'07 is officially the Year of the Gator.

As much as I hate to admit that those smug, pompous, Poupon sniffers are on top of the sports world right now, it is indeed an inconvenient truth. The hoop team won it all last April, and after the everyone returned, they are poised for a possible repeat; the football team, well the memory of them, whipping mighty Ohio State into submission less than 4 weeks ago is still fresh in everyone's memory, and former players like Reche Caldwell, Jabbar Gaffney and Bear Alex Brown had terrific seasons, further enhancing the gaudy orange & blue aura surrounding the league right now.

Then again, as we all know, Gators are prone to choke at any moment (see Caldwell's two wide- open drops in the AFC Championship game- sorry, still not over it.)

4- Brian Urlacher
The fearsome linebacker for the Bears is the single most dangerous player that will be on that field come Sunday night. He is a one-man wrecking crew, who roams the entire field looking for people to put a hurt on, and his drive & will to win can single-handedly propel the Bears to victory.

He could have a Ray Lewis-like impact in this game. If you remember, RayRay came into Tampa for Super Bowl XXXV sporting a nasty snarl, a (alleged) murder rap, and a chip on his shoulder; then went out and willed his team to victory over the Giants and captured the MVP trophy.

Urlacher has the ability, and most of all the desire, to echo that performance. Minus the murder rap.

3-WR Bernard Berrian, RB Thomas Jones & KR Devin Hester
Everyone talks about the "skill" players for Indy- Manning, Harrison, Wayne, Clark- but the Bears have a trio of devastating weapons that are all capable of changing the flow and outcome of a game.

Berrian is a devastating deep threat who led the league in plays of 20 yards or more this season and leads the Bears in receiving this postseason. He averages over 15 YPC and has had long catches of 62, 49 and 68 yards this season. If he can get behind Indy's banged up secondary (S Nick Harper is questionable with an ankle injury), look for big gains for the Bears, shortening the field for...

...Jones, who has battled for the starting tailback spot all year with Cedric Just Gimme the Night Benson but refuses to give it up with strong running and clock-eating ball carrying abilities.

Jones had a decent regular season (1,210 yards, 6TDs) but has taken it to another level in the playoffs, putting the team on his back with 189 yards & 4 TDs in 2 games, including a solo effort soul-crushing 69-yard drive that knocked the hope out of the Saints in the NFC Championship game. Get him the ball and let his powerful legs do the rest, then mix in the elusive Benson for a devastating 1-2 punch.

Hester was the talk of the league when he returned his 6th kick for a touchdown back in November but tailed off considerably since then. With entire special teams units driven to wipe him out on every play and/or kickers kicking away from him, Hester got into a rut of trying to run before catching the ball, leading to numerous muffs down the stretch and no more TDs.

But a game like this is a perfect place for a player like Hester to make his mark. Special teams play is often huge in the Super Bowl and if my Vinateri hex works, then this is the guy I would pick to have a breakthrough play.

Hey, if Desmond Howard can win the MVP, why not Hester?

2- Everybody is picking Indy
That alone is reason enough to go opposite and take the Bears. Whenever everyone is picking one team that is always a sign to go the other way, because 'everybody' is almost never right (right, Gators?)

Besides who doesn't love an underdog?

1- The Power of Chicago Bob
When Lovie Smith was hired to take over my good friend Bob's Bears team 3 years ago, I told him that it was a good hire, that he would get the team back to focusing on defense like the great Chicago teams of old, and that he would turn the team around within a short period of time. Bob seemed hopeful yet doubtful, but he could see the improvement from 5-11 to 11-5 and then 13-3 this season and a Super Bowl appearance.

Unfortunately, Bob did not make it to see the Bears great run this year, as he passed away due to complications from a brain tumor last July. His wife Barb firmly believes that Bob has been guiding this Bears team from above, probably while hanging out at Heaven's version of Buffalo City, throwing back a few cold buds with Papa Bear, Sweetness, and the Big Guy himself. And you can be sure he's got a load of cash on the game, too.

If there is such a thing as karma, fate, kismet and shit like that, then the Bears will win this game if for no other reason than that's what our friend Chicago Bob would have wanted them to.
And that's plenty good enough for me.

Go Bears.