Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton excused himself, walked to a table and brought the Vince Lombardi Trophy back with him to the podium where he was conducting a post-Super Bowl news conference Monday morning.
Payton wanted to share the special meaning the trophy has to New Orleans, the Saints organization and especially a particular member of his coaching staff. To him, it was almost ordained that the Lombardi Trophy, the symbol of Super Bowl victory, was in the Saints' hands.
"Last night at about midnight, we grabbed this trophy and one of our coaches, his name is Joe Lombardi - he's Vince Lombardi's grandson - and Joe Lombardi, his father Vince Jr., his two brothers sat and posed with this trophy - the four of them while pictures were taken," Payton said. "I just thought to myself you've got to be kidding me.
"If you believe in heaven, and you believe Vince Lombardi's there looking down on his grandson, it doesn't get any better. This is a guy that coaches our quarterbacks, coaches Drew Brees, and here's a trophy that's named after his grandfather. You can't get enough of this."
The mystical greatness of the trophy did not preclude Payton from sleeping with it by his side Sunday night - "I probably drooled on it," he joked - but it was in its rightful place in the morning and before long was in New Orleans on display for the team's faithful fans.
The postgame party at the Saints' hotel lasted late into the night, and for at least one special member of the team, the following morning had dreamlike qualities.
"I had to wake up this morning and turn to my wife and say, 'Did yesterday really happen?' " Brees said. "And she said, 'Yes, it did.' What a special moment, something that you dream about as a kid.
"Our victory last night was the culmination of four years of hard work, fighting through a lot of adversity, ups and downs, and more importantly than that, representing a city that has been through so much - been through so many struggles and hardships."
The Saints weren't favorites to win the Super Bowl at the start of the season, but their victory Sunday at Sun Life Stadium stamped them as the best team in the National Football League. They haven't convinced everybody of that fact, evidenced by Las Vegas oddsmakers ranking them behind the Indianapolis Colts (13-2) and San Diego Chargers (8-1) as favorites for Super Bowl XLV.
It's not bad enough they were ranked below the Colts, but they were tied with New England - a team they crushed in November - at 10-1, according to betting site Bodog.com. The Green Bay Packers were tied with the Dallas Cowboys at 12-1.
The odds might speak to Las Vegas' belief that the Saints were more of a team of destiny than dominance, but it also reflects the potentially difficult off-season they face. They are expected to extend Brees' contract - and make him one of the highest-paid players - and they have roughly 25 players whose contracts expire in March.
Among those who will definitely be unrestricted free agents are safety Darren Sharper, linebacker Scott Fujita and center Nick Leckey. In addition, eight other prominent players would be unrestricted if there is a salary cap and will be restricted if there isn't, as expected.
Among those players are left tackle Jammal Brown, running back Mike Bell, guard Jahri Evans, receiver Lance Moore, end Anthony Hargrove and receiver Courtney Roby. The Saints also must decide whether they want to carry running back Reggie Bush at a salary cap number of more than $13 million.
"Somewhere last night we talked about Dallas, Texas (site of Super Bowl XLV), and one of the greatest stadiums now that our league knows, and there's probably never enough in regards to the challenge," Payton said of the upcoming season. "That's the neat thing about it. When you get a quarterback like Drew Brees, who's in the prime of his career, it's not enough.
"Last night was great, and yet there's still something that burns in you to separate yourself more. So we'll spend a little bit of time here refueling, recharging the batteries and getting ourselves prepared for the challenges ahead. We know that it'll be difficult and yet, no more difficult than getting this team going after Katrina . . . "
For now, the Saints can revel in their remarkable season - beating five Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, winning 13 in a row and helping revive a hurricane-ravaged city. They deserve at least some time to celebrate.
Next season? They'll get to that after the party dies.
"Our players will be ready for the challenge," Payton said. "We're young. We're hungry. One thing about this game, this Super Bowl, and when you have an opportunity to participate the week of and in the event itself, it just pulls you that much closer to wanting to be in it again."
Article Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Monday, February 8, 2010
In a tournament everyone expected him to win, Madison's Steve Stricker was trying not to lose.
Instead of firing at flags and trying to make birdies, which allowed him to build a six-shot lead at Riviera, he suddenly found himself playing it safe and trying not to make bogeys. Instead of having a chance to break the 25-year-old tournament scoring record, he feared matching a PGA Tour record for blowing the biggest lead.
The Northern Trust Open ultimately ended Sunday the way everyone thought it would - Stricker in tears after another victory.
"I just knew it was going to be hard," Stricker said after closing with a 1-under 70 for a two-shot victory over Luke Donald. "You're playing a different game than what you normally play. You played scared - at least I did there for a while."
Back-to-back birdies at the turn settled him down. Another clutch putt for par on the 15th hole essentially clinched it for him.
Stricker won for the fourth time in his last 15 starts, moving up to No. 2 in the world for the second time in his career. It was his eighth career victory, and the eighth time he couldn't make it through his TV interview without wiping tears from his eyes.
This time, all it took was a reminder of where he was four years ago, when he lost his PGA Tour card.
The final round felt as though it lasted just as long.
His lead was cut in half after four holes after Stricker missed a short par putt. It was down to two shots when Donald made a 10-foot birdie on the fifth hole. It might have vanished entirely had Donald not missed birdie putts about the same length on the next two holes.
"If I got really hot with the putter, I could have maybe caught Steve," said Donald, who closed with a 66. "He played nicely coming down the stretch, and I think he was a deserved winner. But at least I gave him a little run for his money."
Stricker finished at 16-under 268 and earned $1.152 million to go over $25 million for his career.
This is the second time Stricker has gone to No. 2 in the world - he also got there in September after winning in Boston - although he likely still would have to win at least three more times to catch Tiger Woods, who is out indefinitely as he tries to save his marriage.
Dustin Johnson, who shot a 74 on Saturday to fall out of the lead, made one last run and got within three shots. He shot a 66 and tied for third with J.B. Holmes (67).
Stricker built his lead back to four shots on the back nine when he started playing cautiously and saw it start slipping away.
Then came the 15th, when he missed his 4-iron to the left and chipped poorly to 10 feet, only to make his biggest putt of the round.
"My father-in-law always says there's a defining moment when you're going to win a golf tournament," Stricker said. "And I think that was it right there. It allowed me to keep a three-shot lead going into the last three holes."
Phil Mickelson, trying to become the first player to win three straight years at Riviera, had a 73 and finished 14 shots behind.
Mark Wilson of Menomonee Falls finished at 1-over 285.
Article courtesy of Milwauke Journal Sentinel
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
WOW what a game. Neither Defense showed up and the Packers at one point found themselves down 31-10. The Packers turned over the ball 2 times in their first three possessions on Offense.
Then the dust settled and the Pack came roaring back scoring at will. Probably the best call of McCarthy's career came early in the 3rd quarter when after scoring, the Packers fooled the Cards with an onside kick, recovering it with ease. The surprised Cards didn't even know what hit them. A few minutes later Aaron Rodgers and the Packers scored again, putting up 14 points in less than 5 minutes.
But the Packers Defense, ranked #2 in the league after the regular season, just could not stop the Cards highpower attack. Both teams traded scores in what turned out to be the highest scoring playoff game in the history of the NFL.
The Packers eventually would tie the game, but the Cards had just under 2:00 minutes to score and win the game. Neil Rackers, the Cards kicker, who had only missed two field goals all year, blew a 34 yard FG to win it at the end of regulation.
The Packers then won the coin toss in OT, and on the first play in OT, Aaron Rodgers just missed a wide open Greg Jennings that would have been 6 points and a Pack win for sure. That's a pass that Rodgers will play over and over as he watches the playoffs from home!! The play brought back memories of Favre to Jennings against Denver in OT, and the Packers game against the Bears in week 1, when Greg Jennings scored on a bomb with little time on the clock.
A few plays later, Rodgers was nailed by the Cards Mike Adams who grabbed his facemask and Rodgers fumbled, then kicked the ball in the air, allowing Karlos Dansby to pick it up in the air, and run in for the game winning play in OT.
NO CALL BY THE OFFICALS, and a lot of unhappy Packers fans!!! The play has been the subject of debate over the past few days, with most people in favor of the Pack. Too bad for the Pack that this controversial play ended the Packers season. Now TT and the Pack get to focus on what some consider the Packers brass does the best at and that's the draft!!! Plenty more to come as the offseason never ends for the Green & Gold.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Regular Season is over and the Packers have made the Playoffs as a Wildcard. They've been playing great football of late and have been playing as a TEAM. As the Packers prepare for their Playoff game on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, we take a look back on a few games and also talk a little bit about where the Pack is today on both sides of the ball.........enjoy!
So looking back, Pack should be the #2 seat. Think about (3) specific games that the Packers SHOULD have won period.
Game# 1: Bengals……….Bengals ended up being a hell of a team. If we had the mind set that they weren’t the Bengals of old, we might have stepped up our game enough that we wouldn’t have lost.
Game#2 Bucs………..Although this game ended up being a wake up call to the Pack, no way should they have lost it especially after being up and letting a rookie QB come back and kick our butts. Should have won, but good for the team to lose that one.
Game#3 Steelers………Sure GB gave up 500+ yards passing to Rothisbur……….whatever, Nice Pick Cower!!!! The Pack were winning that game as ugly as it was for our Defense. We then go into classic late 4th quarter prevent and give up an amazingly perfect pass on seriously GREAT coverage by Bell (he’s a bum anyway). I mean C Wood couldn’t have protected it better, it was just a GREAT pass and an amazing catch by the WR to win it. Should have won game 3 out of the 3 games on my list.
So with that said, the Packers could have won the division and had a 1st round bye. Not complaining, just stated facts. The facts are as successful as an 11-5 season is, we seriously could be 12-4 or 13-3 easily if it wasn’t for a few freak plays. Just goes to show you that on any given Sunday.
I think going into the playoffs right now, on the AFC side, the Colts and Chargers are the scariest teams who are playing well. Colts have a lot of injuries but are getting it done. Just a solid team all around. Packers brass should pay close attention. The Chargers are by far, hands down, the hottest and scariest team in the NFL right now. Their D is clicking at the right time and playmakers are stepping up. On Offense, Rivers is having an MVP year and is doing it quietly!!!! Lots of weapons, scary team.
On the NFC side, again two teams are scary and are playing amazing football. One is Philly. They have very dangerous weapons on Offense in Brent Celek, TE, Desean Jackson, WR (probably one of the most explosive players in the league right now), and don’t forget about Vick, McNabb (playing solid ball), & Christ………Brian Westbrook (concussions or not, it’s freakin Brian Westbrook).
The other team is our very own Green Bay Packers. Now I’m not just saying the Packers because I live and breathe Green & Gold, they seriously are on scary team clicking at the right time. Their Offense looks like it did in preseason when we all thought nobody could stop us. Finley is lights out period……..enough said!!! Jennings is clicking now after a slow start, Grant is rushing the ball extremely well (as he always does late in the year when you need it the most), Driver is our go-to-guy on any down and still playing at a VERY high level. The O-Line is finally clicking and playing well. I attribute that to the arrival of Mark Tauscher. Before he was signed and then got a game or two under his belt, we were on the way to A-Rog becoming the next David Carr. A solid QB with a ton of talent who got his lights knocked out more than any QB in history. Thank god we got it together. Now that’s just on the offensive side of the ball. That doesn’t include Brandon Jackson’s pass blocking or 3rd down success, Hall/Khun/Quinn Johnson’s exceptional blocking play, Lee’s ability to block, and Nelson finally coming alive on ST.
That was just O. The Packers Defense is tops in the league!!!!! #1 against the Rush!!!! A +23 (or something like that) turnover ratio (SICK!!!!!!!), the play of our LB’s, specifically the rookies Matthews & Brad Jones who seriously both could/should be in the Pro Bowl (well Matthews for sure, Jones needs some playing time but has made all of Packer Nation forget Kampman). Hell even Hawk has been more successful than previous year’s. Barnett has come back from injury to have another GREAT year worthy of Pro Bowl. Jolly, Jenkins, and late in the season Raji have been HOUSES!!!!!!!!! Great underrated players!!!! And our Secondary needs no explanation!!! C Wood, Defensive Player of Year (HANDS DOWN!!!) and Collins another Pro Bowl year with 6 INT’s………
Need Crosby to step up his game!!! Need ST, return game to wake up…………..like it did a bit on Sunday. ST, can be the difference in the game. Especially with field position. Packers only glaring weakness is SPECIAL TEAMS!!!! STEP IT UP BOYZ
Packers are hot!!! Playing well as a TEAM. We’re a dangerous team who needs to play smart, get TO’s, and play penalty free (or as close to it as possible).
BRING ON THE PLAYOFFS BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO PACK GO!!!!!!!!!!!!