Friday, February 26, 2010

Cable Storm: Hannah

Sorry about the gap in posts and podcasts this week. As you likely know, I have been in Disney on a Work-cation with the family.

The "Worldwide Leader" has been "re-branding" and "re-imagining" the former "Disney Wide World of Sports, into the "ESPN Wide World of Sports."

Get it?

It's even more, ESPN-ized!

The junket has been first class all the way. Comped everything, a personal "liason" for me and Andy, swag, gifts, the whole deal.

The only bummer was the weather: as you can see above, our concourse location would be wonderful if it was only 69 degrees, not 49 degrees.

But I'm not bitching.

I got to say hello to one-time Comcast SportsNet DC anchoress extraordinaire Sage Steele, now holding down the mid-days on ESPN's "SportsCenter" with fashion, savvy, and skillz.

Sage is awesome, and incredibly down to earth for somebody both so talented, and so ridiculously good looking. You might think she's a diva, but you would be wrong.

She gave me some interesting scoop on the whole Hannah Storm-Tony K. kerfuffle. I won't cite it here, lest she too get in trouble. But she did say that every woman on television today - especially those in the frat house that is ESPN - knows what a certain outfit might or might not mean the minute they put it on.

My big argument on the Storm thing is this: by letting Storm go on the air with that get up, they gave it de-facto APPROVAL. So why then didn't ESPN simply say: "Tony is entitled to his opinion. We think Ms. Storm dresses appropriately for the job, and looks fabulously doing it. Too bad Tony is such a prude."

Well, I know why they didn't just say that. Sexual harassment laws, employee-on-employee crime, yada yada yada.

My argument to Sage, was more direct. I said, "yeah, Sage, but I've seen YOU wear boots too!"

"Yeah, but with a lot more clothing on top of them."

To which I said: "But to a lot of us, that doesn't matter, girl. When you rock the boots, you ROCK the boots. We wouldn't know if you had a burqa on top."

Which really gets to the point of it all. As men, certain women just "do it" for you. It may be the boots, the skirt, the smile, or the way they talk.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Can't Timmy Throw?

So, now... now he's gonna work on his throwing motion?


Nothing quite like a debacle of a Senior Bowl outing to make you get some religion on proper quarterbacking mechanics.

What? What? Religion? Too cute, huh?


This would be like a business major saying a month before graduation: "Do ya think I shoulda taken some accounting?"

Score one for Theismann. He blasted away on Tebow during Super Bowl week.

"Obviously at Florida they don't teach throwing the football," Theismann opined in explaining that Tebow's mechanics are "poor." Theismann also said that Urban Meyer and his staff have "no clue" regarding the process for preparing a quarterback to play "at the next level."

Most people reacted by saying Joey T was a bitter douche who is still mad he's not on MNF. I said at the time: "Well, he does have a point."

The obvious debate now centers on Urban Meyer. What there wasn't any summer available for Tebow to fix this along the way? Think of all the 55-3 blowouts "Tebow 3:16" could have been polishing these changes.

At this juncture, only desperate fools - or the fan starved Jaguars - would dare take Tebow in the first round. In fact, the gamble on him has now been extended past the third round.

Can you imagine Tebow thinking in the pros: "Is my elbow high enough? Sharp drop back. Don't slouch my shoulders before winding up."


I know how difficult it can be for QBs to stamp out bad mechanics. Jason Campbell of my Skins came into the league with a long-ish delivery. Not nearly as bad as Tebow's wreck of a motion, but definitely too long. He's worked hard to pare it down, and he has - somewhat.

But the Tim Tebow Experiment is going to end up with about as much success as Barkley in the Hank Haney Project.

Worse yet, Tebow will likely waste a good year or more trying to "fix" his crap mechanics while adjusting to the NFL's hyperspace tempo. That's a crucial year he could be learning to play H-back.

That's probably he best and only option as a pro. If he works hard, he could forge a nice little Frank Wycheck kinda career.

His team might even let him give those awesomely biblical half-time motivational speeches.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Open Season on Peacock

I'll admit, I'm somebody who complains A LOT about the shortcomings, quirks, and inequities in TV sports coverage.

Just listen to me. Like I'm some kind of expert. Sheesh.

Then again, I can't help it. It's like the inner director in me comes out, and I start bellyaching about all the camera angles, replays, and action I would have shown, instead of that bum in the network truck calling the shots.

I'm certainly not alone. Like anybody who sits IN FRONT of the boob tube, we all think that mastery of a remote is just one step short of being Roone Arledge.

So this may shock some of you, but I think NBC is doing a fabulous job of televising the Olympics.

"You're doin' a heck of a job, Peacock."

I mean it.

Sure, the network is losing their ass on these games financially. But that's due to a bid for the rights born of a much different non-recessionary time than now.

The complaints I have been hearing, are some of the most tired, predictable, and stupid ones I hear all the time.

"There's not enough action!"

"Too much studio time!"

"I hate the shmaltzy features!"

Happens just about every Olympics.

And don't get me started on the whole tape delay thing. Sure, NBC could show live events on their cable outlet during the day, WHEN they happen. Sure, could stream that action live on the web. Sure they could charge for all of that.


They tried it. Olympics Triplecast. Google it. Not a raging success.

Only a junkie needs to see EVERY downhill run, every minute of a cross country ski race, or every ski jump. Speaking of which, doesn't anybody wipe out anymore on ski jumping? I'm not looking for more Eddie "The Eagle" Edwardses, but a little bit more than one perfect jump and landing after another would be nice.

And for anybody that thinks the USA-Canada hockey game should have been on NBC1 instead of MSNBC, you are nuts. I too love hockey, but it's ratings death. These games as presented by NBC finally ended American Idol's 222 night winning streak last Wednesday.

Sure it took Linday Vonn winning the downhill, and the fact that most of us KNEW that fact ahead of time to do it, but still. It's not like NBC doesn't have a clue.

The Winter Olympics are a delicious sampler platter of events and sports that we otherwise wouldn't give a crap about. I for one, have been savoring them.

And NBC's coverage has been fantastic in terms of artistic merit. The high definition has been stellar, and the super slo-mo replays sensational.

The camera angles, replays, and techno-gadgetry of the downhill and super-G races was nothing short of a visual orgy.

What, NBC gets no credit for this?

I think too many people very much over-rate the notion of more "action" instead of what is sometimes called "fluff."

Personally, the feature on injured snowboarder Kevin Pearce, his family, and his recovery was better than anything I've seen on TV in a long time.

So let the record show, I don't complain about everything. And NBC's Football Night In America remains a goat-sodomizing mess. But as for these games and NBC: good job, carry on!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Here, Birdie Birdie!

Okay, go ahead and call me a "bird nerd" but I thought these super-slo-mo's I took of my birdfeeder are mildly awesome.

Shot with the trusty Casio EX-F1 camera, this is what cardinals look like flying away at 300 frames per second.

Now my next goal is to get footage of a blue jay, tearing the crap out of an oriole. Then I can post the footage on a Baltimore Orioles website and piss everyone off.

Only problem: no blue jays at my feeder. I've only seen them at my parents. And I have NEVER seen a real live oriole in the wild.

Another Car Wreck

Of all the phrases I've heard people say following Tigerpology 2010, this one is the most annoying. "Give him credit for standing up there and saying all that. It wasn't easy."

Yeah, it also wasn't an option.

He gets credit for it, like you get 200 points credit on the SAT for just signing your name.

Tiger said the least he possibly could, in the most chickenshit manner, to a comically staged room full of cronies - the commissioner included.

Forgive me for not welling up in tears like Charlie Rymer over that.

It was almost like a second car crash. Only this time, deliberate.

His robotic opus of therapy inspired talking points hit all the scripted notes. Some TV commentators insisted that he wrote the entire thing himself. This was a laughable assertion that was both unknowable and pointless even if true. For a guy with a team of advisers ballsy enough to dictate terms like this for an apology, to think they didn't at least poke their nose a bit into the script proves that gullibility is a chronic condition.

Was it sincere? Is he a changed man? Will a better Tiger emerge? Draw your own conclusions and have fun. They aren't really relevant to what will happen next. It's not like he had been suspended from the PGA Tour until he said he was sorry to the Commissioner at Tour HQ and really meant it. Tiger is basically locking his golf clubs in the trunk in an act of contrition, love, and recovery in order to save his marriage, his kids, and something north of $300 million.

Timetable on how long that's gonna take? Ha. Pick a date and tournament. It'll be the hot office pool of the summer. As soon as he uttered the line about how he would "return to golf ONE day" I think I heard Finchem's tongue get lodged in his esophagus. Don't think for a minute that Tiger doesn't just love the suspended financial agony he's putting the Tour through. Brett Favre ain't got nothing on him.

Yet for all the scoring elements of his scripted mea culpa, he committed more than one tactical error.

The largest, I think, is a trap he has now baited and set regarding the facts of "Zero Hour" of this entire crisis. The whole thing started with every sports fan in America hearing one way or another: "Tiger Woods has been in a car crash, and taken to the hospital."

By angrily disputing some of the more salaciously speculated accounts of that crash - accounts that grew like mold in the musty tabloid vacuum that he himself created by going underground for almost 3 months - Woods made it relevant again.

He has now - in essence - necessitated a plausible accounting of the crash in his own words. It is not enough to just say: "I'm not discussing that. It's between me and Elin." It is not enough to just say: "The police have closed their case."

"Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame."

As Bill Simmons points out with lazer like clarity on the matter:

To be fair, Tiger, you crashed your car while leaving your house at 2:30 a.m., you weren't wearing shoes, your neighbors found you asleep on the sidewalk and your wife holding a golf club, the back windows of your cars were smashed in, the accident wasn't reported for 12 hours, and then you disappeared for 10 weeks. You never told us what happened. You got terrible advice from your advisors and opened the door for people to imagine crazy scenarios for what happened that night. Don't blame us.

And if I may add, when you say that false stories like that "anger" you, then it only follows that you would set the record straight. I'll take Woods at his word, even if he's lying. I understand that any admission of Elin's rage would not only add to her hurt, but also put her in possible (though not likely) legal jeopardy. But if so, he'll need to replace that larger, possibly wife protecting lie, with a knockoff handbag of a lie. "We argued a bit, I went out to blow off steam, dropped my cell phone on the floor, went to reach for it, and then BAM!"

There. Fine. Wrap it up, I'll take it.

Otherwise, he's just a big fucking liar, in which he deserves nobody's respect whatsoever. Or there's still stuff he wants to hide. Like perhaps a drinking and/or prescription drug abuse issue.

If I were a golf writer covering the Tour, getting to the Zero Hour facts is precisely where I would start whether Tiger likes it or not. Because hard as it may be for him to understand, more than a few journalists still care about pursuing and reporting the truth, especially when they themselves or others have grossly misrepresented the facts. If the "Elin The 9-Iron Wielding Window Smashing Maniac" narrative was indeed wildly unfounded for reasons still untold, then let's do our part to bury that once and for all.

There will be plenty more questions coming his way, ones that he will probably think deserve to remain off limits. Sample questions might include....

Q: You were injured in that car crash. How much of it do you remember, and did you fear for your life or golf career at any point?

Q: What kind of surgery - if any - did this accident require?

Q: If this rehab journey is going to take a long time, months, years and beyond, then why can't you return to work, your career, in a reasonable amount of time, WHILE you are continuing to change your life for the better off the course and repair your marriage?

Q: Are you disappointed with any of your sponsors who dropped you?

Q: Have you added any new people to your management team, or dropped anybody in the wake of this?

Q: Do you plan to apologize directly to fellow tour players in person about the damage your actions have cause the Tour, or the questions they have had to answer about you?

Q: Will you become more fan friendly once you return as part of your rehabilitation?

Q: Why didn't you do more to avoid holding this press conference during a live tournament day? Explain more clearly why your schedule demanded this?

I'd also love to know if he plans to start openly quoting Buddhist scripture after every win. The Suvarnaprabhasa Sutra is also known as the "Golden Light Sutra" and is central to the confession of faults.

One Japanese Buddhist proverb puts it simply: bonna kunu.

Or in other words, "all lust is grief."

No shit.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The National, With Frosting

Snow, on a golf course, is not unusual. Pretty, yes. Unusual, no.

In fact, many golf course photo calendars usually include a lovely snow-frosted hole for the months of December, January or February.

But here's something, I don't think I've ever seen: snow, at Augusta National.

These photos showed up in my email in-box, with the following note:


We ended up with something like 4 to 6 inches overall. About 50 days away from the tournament and this is what the course looked like when I came in this morning. My personal favorite picture, besides the ones of Amen Corner, is the photo of hole #4 and the one palm tree on the property. It is also interesting to see how much difference the hydronic coils make in the soil temperatures. No snow on any of the greens that have coils underneath them.


Brent Seyer

I don't know who that is, or if he's going to get fired for releasing them.

But this winter frosting is a delicious and rare look to a course we are all salivating at seeing in its full glory in a few months.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tiger Pops His Head Out

It's on.

I had never before wanted to actively root against Tiger Woods, but he has now left me with no choice.

With his planned dog, pony, and tears show at Tour Headquarters on Friday, the Tiger Woods of Golf, has become the Tiger Woods of Douchebaggery.

Now every time a Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang, or Angel Cabrera pops up to thwart him in a major, it will be an episode of fist pumping joy for me on the couch.

Tiger Woods doesn't deserve our respect anymore. He did before the Thanksgiving accident. He did while he was dealing with the fallout. He did while he was going through rehab (allegedly). And I was prepared to give him that respect once he did come back.

But not now. Enough is enough. Not only hasn't he learned from any of this, but he's doubling down on petty and stupid. A presser that takes away thousands of column inches from the very Tour sponsor that was the first to drop him?

Coincidence, I'm sure.

This phony attempt to put things behind him is going to backfire, and backfire badly. For starters, his fellow Tour Pros are already blasting it.

“It’s selfish,” said Ernie Els, mincing no words. “You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament.”

Secondly, you can't just say "no comment" forever. At some point, live people with real questions about all of this, will get within shouting distance of Woods and then the real game will begin.

Will Woods walk out of Tour press avails at the first non-golf question lobbed his way? Will the Tour start stripping credentials of writers and broadcasters who do not toe the line of "questions about club selection only, please."

To fully appreciate the arrogance of Team Tiger, soak in this statement from PR "guru" (sarcasm=on) Mark Steinberg.

Steinberg issued a press release noting that other reporters excluded from the session would be allowed to watch from a nearby room ... located a mile away at the Sawgrass Marriott. It read: "As a courtesy, there will be a room made available at a nearby conference center for credentialed reporters."

Heh. "As a courtesy..." Yeah. Thanks.

At this point, I know that some of you will say: "Hey Czabe, what do you think Tiger OWES to you, or anyone else in the media?"

Me? Nothing. And it's really not about the rest of the golf/sports media either.

Tiger owes it to the Tour. To his fellow pros. To the game of golf.

That's who.

Tiger needs to understand that while his failings are personal, there is a seismic professional fallout at his workplace for those actions. He needs to "get it" that despite his off-course prowess (now mortally wounded) at making money, it remains the PGA Tour that provides the stage for his career and enormous wealth.

As such, it was, and is, incumbent upon Tiger to properly MITIGATE that damage professionally, and at the very least DO NOT MAKE IT WORSE!

Wow, has he failed miserably.

The first casualty is the Tour's Commissioner Tim Finchem, who allowed himself to be co-opted by Team Tiger in this farce. Maybe he had no choice. The Tour, minus Woods, is buried in an unplayable lie. Finchem knows this. But there are times for leadership and principle, and Finchem has now shown he has very little of either.

Tiger's camp says they "reached out" to The Tour in order to "assist with logistics" for this event.

Finchem should have said: "I'll give you the number for the Sheraton in Orlando. They have plenty of big ballrooms, perfect for holding a press conference." And then hung up.

Tiger's responsibility was to take the barrage of arrows from the media, like the hail of Persian arrows in the movie "300" that promised to "blot out the sun."

Replied Stelios, unflinching: "Then we will fight in the shade."

Tiger should have held an honest, open, "bring it on" presser at a neutral site. Hell, find a stadium if you need something bigger. Think Jerry World!

Tiger's problems, are all his own. Accordingly, he should have the class and consideration NOT to bring them to the office. By this selfish approach, he's doing just the opposite. He's practically inviting the media to try to get to him from inside the ropes on Tour.

His fellow pros, well, they'll just have to lump it. Sorry, chumps.

So now, it's on. I can root against Tiger on Sundays with full and un-conflicted gusto. May he never reach Jack's magic number of 18 majors.

I know this will likely be a fruitless exercise. With only 4 majors to go, Woods is a mere 35 years old come December. Given a solid decade left of his "prime", Jack's record should be a layup.

But at least Tiger has clarified where I stand, on him.

A selfish jerk, is just a selfish jerk. No matter how far he can hit a stinger 2-iron.

Congratulations, Eldrick. You've outdone yourself on this one.

PS: This shit, has got to stop too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The New Suzy Chapstick?

Now that Lindsay Vonn has won her gold in the signature, heavyweight division, alpine event - downhill - she is free to start ringing the endorsement register to her bank account's content.

Good for her.

The gal is so All American she makes the Osmond family look like Bin Ladens. Blonde hair, blue eyes, killer smile, a body harder than a run full of icy moguls, and most importantly - a winner!

My colleague Andy Pollin reminded me that she was "sorta like" the Suzy Chaffee of the new millenium.

Ahhhh, yes. Suzy Chapstick!

Greatest name-to-product-endorsement-match ever!

A hot blonde skiier, whose name sounds exactly like the one critical product to have in your ski parka: lip balm!

The only problem, is that Suzy Chaffee didn't win a gold medal. Not even close!

"Chaffee was named captain of the US Women's team and was one of the favorites in the downhill at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. She finished 28th in the downhill, blaming her poor showing on using the wrong wax, but she made a global impression with her skin-tight silver racing suit."

This isn't to say she sucked.

She was quite good at freestyle skiing (a much tamer form of ski "dancing" almost, not the radical freestyle of today with jumps and flips and moguls) and went on to advocate strongly on behalf of Title IX.

But Vonn is a certified winner. And nothing smells - or sells - like winning, baby!

Now that she's done the SI Swimsuit issue, I ask: first female gold medal winner to go "all nude" for Playboy, anybody? I mean, tastefully done, of course.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Next Stop: "The Situation"

Welcome to the Tuesday after President's Day.

Or, maybe in your case, the day you were FINALLY going to get around to re-starting that now-failed New Year's resolution to lose some weight.

I'm not here to nag, I am here to offer a small glimmering light in the distance. In this eternal struggle against donuts and stretch pants, if a fatso junk-eater like me can turn the tide, so can you.

By now, you readers know about how I lost 35 pounds doing the P90x program. Yes, the same one you've probably whizzed across on late night cable TV. If not, well, here's the un-retouched photographic proof.

I have fielded a lot of questions about it, and I have been meaning to give some common answers by way of this blog. So let's get started.

Q: Should I try the program?
A: Hell, f'ing yeah! Because there's NO RISK! Because I was able to do such a great job of spreading the word, the good folks at P90x have made me the FIRST EVER media endorser to CONTINUE the campaign past 90 days. As such, you can the money back guarantee by going to MY PAGE and calling MY NUMBER for the program.

Q: It looks hard, can I really do all those things?

A: Hell, f'ing NO! You can't do ALL those things. Especially not right away. But so what? As you will hear Tony Horton say early and often: "Do your best, and forget the rest." Plus, there are ways to modify every exercise in the program. What you WILL find, though, is that as you get better and better at things, what once seemed IMPOSSIBLE (for me, 40 Mason Twists at the end of a grueling AB Ripper X session) is now routine. That's very motivating!

Q: What kind of equipment do you need?
A: Not much. But some extra stuff helps. You will need at a minimum some resistance bands, but I went ahead and invested in some dumbbells. I got weights of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 40 pounds each. If you can afford it, I highly recommend dumbbells.

Also, you may want to get a chin-up bar. The style offered at the P90x website is okay, but MAY not fit your doors. They did not fit mine. So I went ahead and bought something called "The Perfect Pull Up." This pull-up bar sits differently in your doorway, and allows for you to do so-called "Australian" pull ups (which are like half pull-ups). This is perfect for early on, because I couldn't do more than ONE pathetic little pull up when I started. In fact, I used the resistance bands, wrapped around a hook at the top of my doorway, and did "pull downs" for the first 6 weeks or so before graduating to actual pull ups.

I also highly recommend a cheap, foam, 1/2 thick interlocking exercise mat for use on all of the Plyometric and Kenpo stuff. I bought this grid which is roughly 8x12 feet for less than $30 at Sports Authority.

Finally, some push up bars and yoga blocks are cheap and useful. Go ahead and grab them, just so you have all the tools.

Q: What about diet? Was that hard to follow?

A: Look, I'll be honest. I am one picky little bitch when it comes to food. I have the tastes of a 10 year old boy. I hate veggies, never eat them, and I'm not really wild about fruit either. Salad? Ha! No chance! So, how did I do it? Well, let me explain.

First of all, the nutrition guide that comes with the program is excellent, and many of you with adult eating habits might find it quite easy to follow. If so, great.

If you are more like me, however, let me give you one simple mantra: NO CARBS!

Okay, you won't be able to go ZERO carb, but limit the hell out of them, and you'll see and feel the difference. I was eating so much sugar and bread, that my blood sugar was riding the equivalent of a Six Flags roller coaster. I would jack my blood sugar sky-high by stuffing myself, and then watch my energy bottom out.

Tired, my body would trick me into eating more, to try to float that balloon back into the air. And the cycle never stopped. Sound familiar?

Feels awful, and is mortally unhealthy for any extended period.

So I just started steering VERY clear of carbs.

Breakfast would be two eggs, with low-fat cheese, scrambled. I started with low-carb bread (9 carbs per slice) and then just bagged that altogether in order to "save" my carbs for later in the day.

I would have a low-fat cheese stick for a snack, or a rolled up hamslice with cheese. I would have an apple or some peanuts to get me through to about noon.

Lunch would be a nice turkey and cheese sandwich on that low-carb bread. Or maybe a piece of meat from home. Chicken, steak, fish.

Dinner would be some kind of meat, or perhaps another low-carb sandwich, and I would shut down the ol' piehole around 6 p.m. for the day.

To get my occasional fix for something sweet, I would supplement during the day with either an Atkins brand diet bar, or the P90x chocolate/peanut butter Peak Performance bars. These suckers are meaty feeling, stick to your ribs, and give you a sweet chewy taste. Eating them feels like cheatin!

(NOTE: While you are getting P90x supplements, you might as well get the recovery drink. They say it helps, and I'm sure it does. I just can't vouch that you'll really "feel" anything different. I just think, if you are committed, do it right.)

Now if you can do this, you will find that something remarkable happens to your suger/carb cravings. I know it did for me.

They just kind of go quiet. Still. Like the wind dying down to nothing in the middle of a summer day.

I was living in a daily raging hurricane of sugar/carb cravings, and it wasn't until I got going on this program that I suddenly felt like the eye of the hurricane had passed over me.

Once you get to this point, it's as easy as just mashing "play" every day and doin' the workouts.

Q: How long are the workouts?
A: Between 52-58 minutes. Six days a week, with a rest/stretch day at the end. With a few exceptions. Let me explain.

First of all, that little timer on the screen in P90x is GOLDEN! I know for me, it was nice to be able to look at it in the early days, and say: "Oh, thank god! Under 40 minutes left! Under 30, under 20!" And so on.

Secondly, because warm-up and cool down are like 5-6 minutes each, your hard work portion is really more like 45 minutes. Come on people, you can do that!

Now, the exceptions.

Yoga X: What a bitch! That's what I thought early on, because a) it's hard! b) it lasts (groan!) 90 minutes! You just gotta resolve to plow through this puppy early on, because you are not going to be a fan of it. (However, toward the end, it was actually one of my favorites, and the last 40 minutes of the routine are not that bad at all). Yoga X presented me with more of scheduling issue in my day, and not so much of a "can I get through this" issue.

Ab Ripper X: It took me like two weeks to realize: hey dummy, you are supposed to do this routine (15 minutes) at the END of your other hour workout 3 days a week.

Holy crap!

I missed like the first two weeks of this, because I didn't understand that notion, and was wondering "hmm, what DAY do I get Ab Ripper X?"

Dopey. But after that, I also quickly found that I am NOT of the mindset where I can do ABX after a regular workout. Just can't.

So my tip to you, is to knock out the ABX routine on the "other end" of the day as your normal workout. As a standalone 15 minutes, it's not bad. And this way, when you are done with the regular workout, you are done! Period. Whooo hooo!

Q: When did you find time to workout?

A: Me, mostly at night. Yeah, not everybody's favorite, but I just do NOT like sweating early in the morning. I would much rather go 10-11 p.m. than 7-8 a.m. So if this is you, you are not alone. Many nights I would come home, and knock out the routine after the kids were in bed, and then I'd sleep like a baby. The best thing is, because you are HOME, you can't say "I didn't find time to GO to the gym today." The other benefit of night workouts, is that night time is often eatin' time for me. Well, you can't eat too well, when you are bustin' out superman-bananas or one-legged wall squats.

And one final common question....

Q: How did you stay motivated?
A: Ah yes, the eternal question to every new exercise routine.

They say that there are only two basic motivations in life: fear and love.

For me, I was motivated by fear. Let me explain.

When Fox Sports Radio approached me with this endorsement, I was hesitant. My schedule was terrible. I hadn't workout out for real in years. Blah, blah, blah. But I said I would look at it and get back to them with a decision.

Well, apparently my "I'll think about it" was heard as an unequivocal "YES!" by the sales rep at Fox. And before I knew it, I was told that the ad agency had gone ahead, signed me up for a page on the Beachbody website and posted a message "from me" that said: "Hey guys, I'm doing P90x, come join me!"

Super. Ugh.

So I thought about having them pull it right then, and politely passing on the chance. Until I got that one last little nudge I needed: my cynical smart ass producer Solly.

I was looking at the material in my office, when he walked in. I told him my predicament. I said to him somberly: "So, whattya think?"

Solly: "How long are these workouts?"
Me: "An hour a day."
Solly: (chortle) "Ha. Sure. Piece of cake, for YOU." (sarcasm=heavy)

(long pause)

Me: "Fuck you. I'm in. Now get out of here."

And that was it, right there. I had my marching orders.

1. Do not disappoint the client.
2. Stick it up Solly's ass, and by extension everybody else who was a doubter!

So I guess there's actually THREE kinds of motivation in life: fear, love, and revenge. Or something like that.

What you will need to do, is find your little motivational focal point. Something to tip you over the edge, and to just BEAR DOWN with git-r-done consistency for 90 days.

1 hour. 90 days in a row. You... can... do... this!

Once you are through the first 30 difficult days, you are going to pick up a NEW motivation. For starters, you will be doing MUCH BETTER on all of the workouts. This will be cool. Secondly, you will start seeing things.

I started seeing little muscle lines in places I hadn't seen in years.

This will, I hate to admit it, make you at bit of a mirror gazing diva after workouts. I'm serious. There's no way not to look just a bit.

As such, that should be a great "second stage booster rocket" of motivation on your road to the magic Day 90.

Now, I have a new problem to confront.

I have been at 200-202 on the scale since I finished in mid-December. And even though I had begun a new round of P90x, I had plateaued just a bit in terms of weight.

Most of this, I am convinced, was because I got slack on my diet. I was working in some pizza and cheesburgers, and while I was still getting stronger on my weight work, and while I was still at 200 pounds, I had stalled.

Then I went to the Super Bowl last week, and well, ate my face off.

Remarkably, and thankfully, I came home, only up 2 measly pounds, which melted away once I did some snow shovelling and hill climbing after sledding with my daughters.

So consider this my new kernel of motivation.

I want to be like my new idol, "The Situation" from Jersey Shore.

No really. That's my goal. If I can get abs like him, I'm gonna by that big gold chain, and go hang out with Ronnie and Pauly and the crew. (But no, I'm not going to sleep with Snooky - even if my wife allowed, and was pushing! And chances are, "The Situation" wouldn't pass even the most basic Olympic drug test.)

I am going to embark on a new round of P90x today. I am going to post new "Round 2" pics at 30, 60 and 90 days. I have a feeling that getting the kind of dramatic, visible improvements THIS time around, without 35 "easy" pounds of blubber hanging off of me, is going to be tough.

But what the hell. Let's do this.

I think I can get down to 190, with some REAL muscle definition, not just the vague definition I have now.

And if you want to join me, well then let's go! I'll be here, updating, maybe shooting some videos, answering questions, talking trash, whatever.

I don't just want to have success via P90x. I want a loyal P90x Army! Now who's with me..................!!!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kick Save and a Beauty!

Next time, fella, just go ahead and buy her a box of chocolates.

Or, better yet, put your head in a woodchipper, and save yourself the wedding expenses on the front end, and the divorce attorney fees on the back end.

It's A Sham-Dunk Contest

To say the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest has become a bit tedious to watch live, is an understatement.

It has been a few years - on and off, I can't keep track - since I hunkered down for the event live, not just cherry picking the highlites the next day on SportsCenter.

And boy, you can cut the awkward moments with a knife!

Credit the TNT crew for not being league shills. You knew Barkley was going to be brutally honest, and it wasn't two dunks in that the guys were essentially saying: "This sucks!"

I believe at one point, Kenny Smith said he's done all of these dunks himself - in REC LEAGUE PLAY!

I held up my own personal "10" card on that one!

Yes, there is a certain bit of nostalgic wishful thinking about the dunk contest. We all remember Jordan from the free throw line, 'Nique and Spudd, etc. etc. We then selectively throw out all the garbage in between like when Kenny Walker won it or Fred Jones from the Pacers (huh?), or we felt sorry for the white guy and gave it to Brent Barry.

After Kobe won in 1997 in New York, the consensus had become: "There are no more dunks to be dunked. The contest, is officially out of business!"

The lockout killed the entire All-Star weekend the following year, but when all was right again in David Stern's travelling hardwood circus in 2000, Vince Carter did some super-electric-funktastic shit to win it, and we all thought - alright, here... we... go!

Now that Nate Robinson has won it a third time - and don't get me wrong, at his size, he IS awesome - perhaps we should put it back on ice for a year.

LeBron is a big pussy for backing out of his "pledge" last year to be in it (finally!) this year. Now you wonder, is ever going to be in it? The only thing that makes me want to give 'Bron a pass, is how re-donk-ulous his IN-GAME dunks are!

I think 'Bron should have just submitted a highlight reel of his 15 feet in the air, throw it down so hard it bounces into the 5th row, watch me fly into the picture like a condor, dunks.

We would all sit there and watch the jumbo-tron with the lights out, and when it was over, the lights would come up, LeBron could take the mic courtside with his palms up and say: "Any questions?"

Nah. Give him the trophy, and tell DeMar DeRozen to go home.

Unless that is, there still ARE some new funky dunks out there to be dunked. My question is this: has anybody bothered to make a detailed year-by-year, player-by-player, spreadsheet list of ALL the dunks that have been tried and executed.

A database of dunk, if you will.

Now there's a list I'd like to see.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stumbling Out of the Post-Football Haze

Don't know about you, but this has been a weird, weird week.

True, mine has been made even weirder by the punctuation of delayed flights, travel, a blizzard, and over 3 straight days on snowbound house arrest.

With my wife and three daughters. Love 'em. But that's a lot of woman-girlie time.

Enough about me, let's talk about you. Mr. Sports Fan. Doesn't this week on the sports calendar just kind of fuck you all up mentally just a bit? It does to me.

See, the Super Bowl has just gone down, and it's like we are spit out of a super long, twisting waterslide tunnel otherwise known as the NFL season.

Not that we've been oblivious to every other sport going on during this time.

It's just that we didn't really give a shit.

There are definite feelings of loss, disconnectedness, despair, and malaise.

Been really hungry, too. Hmm.

So all week I've been scrambling to get some traction on the rest of the glorious buffet that is modern high definition professional (and semi-pro "college") sports.

I watched the Caps lose their 14 game win streak. (Fellas, you can't fall behind every night and scramble to win 6-5. Not gonna last like that.)

I watched Duke put down UNC. There are some out there still willing to say "IF UNC doesn't make the tournament...." What the hell are THEY smoking? If??? Right now, Carolina is on the bubble - IF THE COMMITTEE TAKES ELEVEN TEAMS FROM THE ACC!! Say goodnight, Roy. You were bound for one of these years eventually in Chapel Hill.

I watched alot of stories about Lindsay Vonn's shin. Why can't some helga-looking cross-country-ski-shooter hurt her shin? Damn.

I heard many angles on the Danica Patrick to NASCAR story. I think it's cool. I look forward to seeing her out there. But, I wonder how many casual fans realize that she's not going to be "out there" for any of the big boy races, only a dozen times on the Saturday circuit. Which makes sense, and I'm not complaining. Its just I wonder if NASCAR and the networks aren't overselling her just a bit already. Pace yourself, fellas.

I have gotten more than a few emails from people wondering where did the new Czabecasts and First Team Express segments go? No worries, kids. They will ramp up again on Monday. Since I haven't been into the studios to see Solly and Scotty in over a week, we just haven't been able to knock them out.

Lastly, you must - MUST - see the NFL Films treatment of the Super Bowl win by the Saints 5 days ago. It was the bulk of the "Inside the NFL" show on Showtime. (Don't be cheap bitches, pay the $8 a month for the channel, if for nothing else than this show alone.)

As with all things Steve Sabol and his crew touches, this is pure gold. The film work is stunning, and the mic'd up audio of Sean Peyton (Jim Caldwell either refused, or said nothing of note that was worth showing) is priceless and informative. Not only do you hear Peyton telling the refs to be aware of their on-side kick play, but there are other cool nuggets. Like...

- One of the referees (might have been crew chief Scott Greene, but I can't be sure) actually said "blue ball" on the on-side kick, before the "official" call went to the Saints. Makes me wonder: if the first call by a referee is not final, then is the second call? Or the third?

- Mike Bell's 3rd down run at the goal-line that failed, was because he was wearing the wrong cleats. You could hear Coach Peyton say that Bell had to "stick in his plant foot" and drive it up there on the play before it happens. So they run the play, and Bell slips like he hit a banana. When he comes over to the sideline, Peyton chews his ass out when he sees he's not wearing screw-in cleats, but metal baseball-style cleats. Man was Peyton pissed. Amazing this stuff happens in the Super Bowl.

- Peyton knew that Manning was going to attack replacement corner Usama Young and said as much right before - BINGO! - Pierre Garcon touchdown!

- Prior to game winning INT by Tracey Porter, he and Reggie Wayne had been battling pretty fierce. Not only had Wayne been catching consistent gainers on Porter, but they exchanged words once saying to each other "watch your hands, man!" The final battle, as we all know, went to Porter.

Speaking of that play, I don't think you can blame either Manning or Wayne on it. Porter just stone cold JUMPED the route so clean, neither guy had a chance to avert disaster. When you watch the 3-4 different angle replays on this episode, you see how Porter was at the very spot a full two beats ahead of Wayne. It was a great play, and the product of film study and pure cornerback confidence.

So now we have a pretty boffo weekend to enjoy. Daytona. NBA All-Star Game at JerryWorld. The Olympics, with some awesome NHL all-stars playing and pretty babe-tastic skiers and skaters. All that, plus a crappy non-Tiger field at Pebble Beach. Take notes, golf nerds, because we'll be back there in June for the Open.

The haze is lifting, and I think they just finally got around to plowing my street. Time to go back to work. See you Monday!

The Snowblower: Man's Greatest Machine

True story. About 5 Christmases ago, I got swept up in the spirit of overly generous giving. I bought both my brother and father snowblowers.

Nothing too industrial. We do live in the DC area, which averages a mere 26" of snow per winter.

The idea came after I had purchased a humble single stage snowblower and split the $600 cost between myself and two neighbors. And when the first blowable snow arrived - a somewhat modest 8 incher - the pure joy of letting this machine do all the hard work for me was simply sublime.

So I wanted to give this gift to my hard headed family members who had for years scoffed at the notion of owning one. They thought - incorrectly - that such machines were for the good folks of Buffalo, Detroit, and Wisconsin.

How wrong they are.

Well, my brother decided that he would rather have the $600 re-directed to a kayak instead. . Okay, I returned it, and let him go buy his kayak.

My father appreciated his machine, but with a smallish driveway, didn't seem to really relish having it.

So I ended up moving from my neighborhood (I left behind my $200 share of the blower, because asking for it back would have felt cheap and pathetic) and thus needed a blower for my now much longer driveway.

Dad let me re-posses his. Thanks pop!

So now here we are, in the middle of a DC area winter for a lifetime! A two-foot storm last Friday, and another foot yesterday. Whooo weeee.

My dad's snowblower is not made for clearing 2-3 feet of snow, but it still does the trick with some hearty pushing, and multiple "chews" of the snow berms. Without it, I would be complete fucked.

That's a French term for: "Dead."

I can't even imagine HAND SHOVELLING my driveway. And I simply don't understand why most homeowners here in the area don't own such a glorious machine.

Oh, I understand their argument. "It doesn't snow enough." Oh really? So what?

Only if you had to purchase a NEW $600 snowblower every YEAR, would that make sense. When you consider that a snowblower will last 10 years - EASY - then it is a $60 a year "investment" in NOT having a massive heart attack or major back injury.

Best money ever spent.

The last few years, I looked longingly at my dormant Toro snowblower in the garage. We got under 10" the last two winters. I so desperately wanted to take her out, and clear the driveway clean down to the asphalt with the greatest of ease.

Patience, my friend. Your time will come.

And so it has.

I write this Ode To A Snowblower not for your readers in Wisconsin, who already know that not having one is like a death wish. I write it for my friends here in DC.

Go buy one this winter, as soon as the current piles of snow melt a bit, and the Home Depot's get re-stocked with machines.

Don't blink for a second at the cost, and don't worry about whether you will get your "money's worth."

You may go another 3 years without really needing it. But when you do need it, you'll say to yourself: "God bless whomever invented this fantastic machine!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2011 Super Bowl Odds & Notes

Now that the NFL has been put to bed for the year, is it too early to start dreaming?

Hell, no!

Here are your odds to win the 2011 Super Bowl XLV, courtesy of

My notes on some of these numbers, to follow.

13-2 Indianapolis Colts
8-1 San Diego Chargers
10-1 New England Patriots
10-1 New Orleans Saints
11-1 Pittsburgh Steelers
12-1 Dallas Cowboys
12-1 Green Bay Packers
12-1 Minnesota Vikings
16-1 Philadelphia Eagles
20-1 Baltimore Ravens
20-1 New York Giants
25-1 New York Jets
25-1 Tennessee Titans
30-1 Atlanta Falcons
30-1 Cincinnati Bengals
35-1 Arizona Cardinals
35-1 Chicago Bears
35-1 Houston Texans
40-1 Carolina Panthers
45-1 Miami Dolphins
45-1 San Francisco 49ers
45-1 Seattle Seahawks
50-1 Denver Broncos
50-1 Jacksonville Jaguars
50-1 Washington Redskins
100-1 Buffalo Bills
100-1 Cleveland Browns
100-1 Detroit Lions
100-1 Kansas City Chiefs
100-1 Oakland Raiders
100-1 St. Louis Rams
100-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

So who do I like at these prices?

Who I Don't Like At All...

Saints (10-1) - On paper, this team has all it needs to return. Emotionally, however, teams like this rarely summon that motivation to repeat.

Patriots (10-1) - The defense just isn't good enough anymore, and the lack of commitment to the run is troubling.

Chargers (8-1) - One word. Norv. 'Nuff said.

Jets (25-1) - Sanchez due for a sophomore slump, and he wasn't even that good this year as a rookie.

Who I Do Like:

Vikings (25-1) - Favre will torment them, but probably return. Even if he doesn't, I think Chilly and Co. have a viable "Plan B" (McNabb) and the rest of the team is loaded.

Ravens (20-1) - A tough play given they live and Brady and Manning's neighborhood, but this team played the 2nd weekend of the playoffs last year.

Titans (25-1) - Who's their QB? Good question. I don't care. With Chris Johnson and Jeff Fisher, I like them at this longshot price.

Pittsburgh (11-1) and Dallas (12-1) - I know no team has ever played the SB in their home stadium, and the Cows could stay home at "JerryWorld" if it happens. As for Pittsburgh, there's good value here for a fundamentally sound team.

One more thing....

You will likely see somebody like Danny Sheridan in USA Today list the bottom feeder teams at 10,000-1 or longer. This makes for good newspaper fodder, but no real sports book will take a bet at that price, even for a buck. There's simply too much exposure, in case something radical happens this offseason. Thus, 100-1 is about all you'll get on scrub teams, at any reputable book.

That said, if you gave me the Lions or Raiders at 1 Million - to - 1, I would say: "Give me the one, you take the million side."

And it would be the easiest, no-stress dollar I've ever made.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saints Win: Sweet and Clean!

This just in: Peyton Manning still, sometimes, makes mistakes.

Even though the football talking heads I heard on Sunday night, seemed to attribute the backbreaking Pick-6 by Tracy Porter more to a lackluster Reggie Wayne route than to Manning.

For all the talk about Gregg Williams' gambling, blitzing, hitting style, and for all the analysis of how many times and how hard they were going to need to hit Manning, the game winning play came from something boring and tedious: film study.

Porter read the play correctly that he had seen the Colts run so many times in film study, had the confidence to jump the route knowing it was not a hitch-and-go or double-move, and the rest is pure glory for him and New Orleans.

Did Manning fail to properly look off the defender or disquise the play? Should Wayne have made a better effort to break up the pass?

Yeah, probably. Both.

But whatever the case, the New Orleans Saints are now Super Bowl Champions. A miraculous full circle story arc from the awful days of post-Katrina suffering and uncertainty.

How absurd would it sound to say: the "San Antonio Saints" have won the Super Bowl!

The team stayed and it is now impossible to think they will ever, ever, leave.

This was a very cleanly played game, mostly free of turnovers, mistakes, and controversy. It moved briskly thanks to QB precision on both fronts. The game was nearly antiseptic.

If you had to summarize the game in one paragraph it would go something like this: "The Saints kept Manning off the field for a long time, the Colts mis-managed the end of the first half, the Saints then stole a possession with the on-side kick, and Manning made one fatal mistake."

A missed 51 yarder by Stover and a (briefly) incorrect call on a two-point conversion were about the only small dents in an otherwise smooth evening. By my clock, the TRT on this puppy was a fast moving 3:06 from opening kick to final confetti.

And that was with an extended Who concert in the middle!

The on-sides kick was one of the gutsiest ever by a coach in this game. Think about what likely happens if it fails. Manning and company go short field for a TD, extend the lead to 17-6 and it is likely curtains for Brees and Company.

I heard after the game, that coach Payton told the officials he was going to execute the play, I assume so they would be ready for it, and not call an incorrect formation penalty.

That's a pretty amazing little nugget, don't you think? You choose to whisper into a referee's ear a play that may effectively lose the game and hang you with the goat horns forever.

Like telling a hot dog vendor on the street: "Psst. Buddy. I'm about to go rob Wells Fargo here in broad daylight. Look alive!"

There will be some who bash Manning for this loss, razz him about the pick-6, mock the ManningIsTheGreatestWhoEverEvenThoughtAboutPlayingThePosition debate this past week.

Fine. But consider this: the respect for his lethality is such that two head coaches made clinically insane gambles this year just to keep the ball out of his hands.

For Colts fans, this one will hurt like crazy until you are many many years down the road. Like Packer fans with the "win one, lose one" double, the losing seems to hurt twice as bad as the winning felt good.

Commercial Watch

I thought as a group, the ads were lackluster. The Jay Leno & David Letterman ad was shocking, in that Leno agreed to a promo for Letterman without any return favor. While I doubt CBS would have allowed a Tonite Show ad on their network, I wonder if NBC gave their blessing to Leno to do this, or if it was just a big F-U! from Leno to his parent network. If it was, serves NBC right for backing the wrong horse in the Conan-Leno fued.

I liked the Stevie Wonder ad regarding the.... oh wait a minute. I don't remember what the hell he did, or for what product. It was funny, though. Because blind jokes are always funny. When done in good taste, and all. Yeah. Ahem.

The sock monkey ad was great, only because my youngest daughter has that sock monkey. She'll love it when I play it for her on the TiVO when I get home.

The Google ad was very well done, and I can remember that it was for Google! Hooray, memory! That said, who the hell doesn't know about Google? Crikes. Not like the company can't afford Super Bowl ad rates, however.

The Census commercials were annoying. So let me see, our tax dollars have to pay for an ad for Ed Begley Jr. to remind people to allow themselves to be counted? And we're gonna count everyone in the country illegally, right? Uh, huh.

And then there were some mildly funny beer ads.

There. End of commercial analysis.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Semi-Stranded in South Beach Paradise

Greetings from Bokamper’s Sports Bar here in Plantation Florida.

Yeah, that Bokamper. Kim. Dolphins LB. Same guy who got the ball bitch slapped out of his hands for seven by Theismann back in SBXVII, thank God!

Very nice sports bar, crystal clear HD screens everywhere. Outside deck area is rockin’ for the Super Bowl, and – of course – the fucking sound is so low, and the drunks so loud, that I can’t hear shit.

(UPDATE: Sound fixed after first 3 minutes.)

This is the perennial curse of watching the big game in public, and the very reason that Andy Pollin did not make this little trip with me and Thom Loverro of ESPN980’s “The Sports Fix” and super producer Chuck Sapienza.

Andy, is back at our hotel, in his shorts and t-shirt in his room, watching in silence and solitude.

In crummy STANDARD DEFINITION on a 19 inch bulging tube TV!!

Greeted me at 10 a.m. with big smile in lobby. “Just walked about 2 miles to grocery store. Got my Super Bowl spread all ready. Sub sandwich, popcorn, and fresh tangerines.”

Pure Andy.

It was this, that made me flee to the local watering hole.

Well, that, and the fact that my radio overlords made the worst call since Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.

Normally, I am home tucked into the 5-Hour Energy Dome for this game. Not this year, thanks to the snow. See, I made the suggestion to management that we depart Miami on Thursday, in advance of Snowzilla that has crushed our nation’s capital and snagged air travel like a bad cast in weeds.

Nope. Gotta stay, they said. Something about “we paid a lot for this trip.”

Ohhhhkayyy, I said. No skin off my ass. I’ll hang here in warm FLA until we get a flight home.

NOTE: Peter King would call this his “Annoying/Enjoyable Travel Note Of the Week” in his column. My JetBlue flight on Sunday from FLL to IAD was cancelled. Duh. I planned on that. But instead of waiting for Dulles/Reagan/BWI to shovel out and get their landings un-tangled, me and Chuck will be flying to Richmond (love ya, 804!) and renting a car for the final 2 hours home on land. I’ll let you know if I made it safely tomorrow.

All that said, I did enjoy watching the game with a very live room full of fans. Informal jersey count and noise estimates said it was 75% Saints fans. I’ve got the game plus all 6 hours of pre-game on TWO of my DTV-DVR’s at home.

And you can bet I’m going to watch it all again.

Sadly, we are now an agonizing 161 days away from the next official professional tackle football game in America.

Lord Football, you have once again been magnificient. Rest well, my liege, rest well.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Goin' To the Dogs

Nothing like a trip to the dog track to lift your Super Bowl Week spirits! I have never been to this form of gambling, but now I can cross it off my list.

Won a few races, but lost more than I won. Actually had three SEPARATE $2 bets to WIN, and I end up missing a boxed trifecta for $338.


Ah yes, the grizzled hard core dog bettors. (Note: I did not bother them for advice. Seemed busy, and grumpy.)

Nice, doggy. Now, RUN YOU BASTARD!


Radio Row scene, a "Raider Reunion" on Sirius NFL Radio with Rich Gannon, (host) Adam Schein, Warren Sapp and Tim Brown.


Played golf this week at a semi-private 36 hole facility in Ft. Lauderdale called "Jacaranda Golf Club." For a typical Florida course (flat, lots of water hazards, mix in palm trees) it was actually quite nice. The bunkering was excellent and interesting. Furthermore, they had a bunch of awesome looking trees that had massive root systems like a bundle of wires. These were large, mature, gorgeous trees, with huge canopies. For a tree geek like me, I loved em.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Are You Not Entertained?

Once upon a time, Sports Illustrated ran a cover (seen here) that now looks comical in the rear view mirror.

Yeah. Thank God, we as a nation figured out how to "save" the National Football League. I put that, right up next to the Moon Landing on our national resume.

Sarcasm aside, I will admit that okay, sure this was following several years of decreased scoring, league wide. There were a particularly high number of gawd-awful-looking 6-3 games, including the Jets v. Redskins ode to incompetence, a 3-0 assault on the eyeballs on December 12th of that year.

And yeah, the league tweaked up the rules, a new batch of great QBs and teams rose like cream in coffee, and the supposed perils of a "boring" NFL are now nothing more than an archived punchline.

But the American appetite for professional, high impact, neatly packaged, tackle football just keeps growing like a hurricane over warm water.

Prime evidence of this hunger, is the logic defying TV rating garnered by the Pro Bowl last Sunday. Just when the game itself, took a dramatic slip further down the ladder into pitty-pat, grab-ass "football" on the field, the TV rating spiked by almost 35%.

I had figured the Colts objections to players having to be there when they weren't going to play, along with Bryant McKinnie's seemingly impossible trick of getting booted from the roster for missing practice, along with a move away from tradition, was going to signal a death knell for this game.


It is here to stay, more than ever. Because if it's football, and NFL football, then people are going to watch.

It doesn't mean that there won't be contrarians every now and then, who breathlessly opine that deep, deep TROUBLE lies ahead for the league.

Take for example, the very compelling Gregg Easterbrook of's Page 2 and Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

I pulled this little nugget from his column in the aftermath of the Patriots Spygate scandal. (Note: Put down the milk, and finish drinking first.)

Why is the situation worse than people think? Because the NFL is on the precipice of blowing its status as the country's favorite sport. The whole NFL enterprise is in jeopardy from that single word: cheating. It's the most distasteful word in sports. And now the Patriots have brought the word into the NFL.

Think the NFL can't decline? Fifteen years ago, the National Basketball Association was going up, up, up by every measure and was widely considered the gold-plated can't-miss "sport of the next century." Since then, NBA popularity and ratings have plummeted while NBA-based teams have floundered in international competition. At the moment of its maximum success, the NBA became overconfident and arrogant in ways that need not be recounted here. Key point: There was no law of nature that said the NBA had to stay popular, and it did not.

Today the NFL is king of the hill in sports status, ratings, merchandising and association with the American psyche. There is no law of nature that says the NFL has to stay popular. Overconfidence and arrogance could be the downfall of the NFL, too – and we might be on that precipice. People will always watch and play football, of course. But nothing guarantees that the NFL's version of football must remain the super-successful money machine that it is today. There could be autumn Sunday afternoons in the near future in which the overwhelming majority of Americans couldn't care less what NFL games are being shown. Fifteen years ago, sports-marketing types would have said "impossible!" to the notion that only 11 percent of American households would watch the NBA Finals, which is what happened this June.

Plummeting popularity for NFL broadcasts seems "impossible!" right now, but might happen fast enough to make your head swim.

Sorry Greg, there is no precipice, and my head is still bone dry sitting on a beach chair.

It doesn't mean that the NFL in particular, or tackle football in general, doesn't face some daunting issues right now.

One of the big issues, is of course, the undeniable fact that football is not very healthy for you.

At all.

Now this doesn't come as any surprise to many of us, but remember that we are living in an age where there is a push to eliminate anything and everything that could be of harm to us, no matter if the enjoyment from that thing is immense and greatly desired by many.

Today, trans-fats, smoking, helmets for kids on bikes. Tomorrow, tackle football?

I won't go so far as to say the sport faces an actual "ban" in some localities (hell, we've still got boxing, right?) but you just never know where the current road might lead.

Time Magazine has a twin pair of stories devoted to the issue, along with its cover.

In it, you can read about how some coaches and organizations are advocating some pretty radical things to improve player safety. Among the ideas being tossed around...

- Automatic 3 month layoff for every concussion
- Prohibiting running backs from lowering their helmet upon impact
- Eliminate the 3 point stance for all lineman, offense and defense
- Dramatically cut back on all off-season contact work
- Mandating more equipment to lessen the effectiveness of the helmet-as-weapon.

Says Rich McKay of the Falcons: "You start with the premise that nothing is off the table."

Hmmm. Okay.

The key problem I see, is that the NFL's "smash-em-up" factor has gone hyperspace in the last 30 years. Athletes are simply bigger, stronger, faster (ahem, and not all because of wind sprints and skinless chicken... ahem..) and as such the body-to-body explosions are wreaking more havoc.

Yes, equipment has played a part. Yes, the highlight culture has played a part. Yes, poor technique has played a part.

But at its most basic level, the 22 cars on the field are smashing each other to pieces because of the better-and-better-horsepower under their hoods.

So while "nothing" may be off the table, let me throw one little idea out there for everybody to shoot down as idiotic and unworkable, remembering that I only want to somehow "dial back" the product on the field, not change it irreparably.

What about strict weight limits for certain positions?

Unfair? Not really. Lose a few pounds, bubba. Or change position. If you kept lineman under 300, linebackers under 250, and DB's under 225, then you might just keep guys from getting demolished.

You could replicate similar limits on offense, for each position.

There would not only be no need for a wideout to "bulk up" in a sort of muscular arms race with defenders, it would actually be prohibited.

Look, I am of the firm belief that we can't make everything in life perfectly safe, and perfectly consequence free. I hate so much of what is going on right now, it makes me crazy. And I certainly would never want to hurt this great game will love so much.

But part of me does wonder: "What happens, the day that an NFL player gets blown up on a hit, and there's a funeral on Monday."

I hope that day never comes.