The Lombardi Trophy Belongs to Lisbeth Salander

At least now I can go back to rooting against Boston teams for the next 7 months. Also, I hope this second Super Bowl loss to the Giants in 4 years means the Patriots can finally switch back to their throwback Pat the Patriot uniforms. For New York, Mario Manningham now enters the lexicon right beside David Tyree. And Is Eli Manning really this good or just lucky? Does it even matter?

Tough to narrow it down to a single play for the New England offense, although an injured Gronkowski playing at 50% max capacity didn’t really enhance their chances. Tom Brady missed a few opportunities downfield during the 4th quarter and Wes Welker didn’t help out much either. At least we know Brady will be able to luxuriate comfortably in his 22,000 square foot mansion.

Finally, where was Rooney Mara, niece of Giants principal owner John Mara? Lisbeth Salander was about the only thing that could have saved the Lombardi trophy presentation.

Monday morning is going to be much longer than usual.

view from Indy courtesy of @davidsmoak


A Super Bowl Sized History of Bad Boston Ankles

The most talked about ankle in Indianapolis this week belongs to Patriots tight end and Telemundo superstar Rob Gronkowski. After suffering a high ankle sprain in the AFC championship, courtesy of that guy Bernard Pollard, Gronk is officially listed as a “game time decision” for Super Bowl XVLI,which in Belichickian terms means “he’ll play because we’re injecting his ankle with Toradol and he won’t be able to feel anything below his waist”. My buddy Chip sent me a text this past week asking what’s the deal with Boston athletes and injuries to their lower extremities. This got me thinking, besides Gronkowski, what other sports stars from Beantown have had to overcome significant leg injuries at crucial points in their team’s season?

Thinking beyond sports, you can trace the roots of landscape altering Boston leg injuries all the way back to the Boston Massacre in 1770. If you look closely at Paul Revere’s famous engraving you can clearly see several New England “Patriots” strewn about the cobblestone streets outside of the Custom House with blood flowing from their faces, abdomen, and lower limb areas. Some historians have said that this Revere engraving was nothing more than a piece of propaganda intended to inspire colonists to revolt against their British masters. And while the Boston Massacre is typically considered one of the key moments leading up to the Revolutionary War, I choose to think of it as nothing more than an early instance of DNP – gunshot wound.

Perhaps the most famous ankle injury in the history of Boston belongs to Curt Schilling. His bloody sock from Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees will forever commemorate arguably the greatest comeback in sports history. I was in the building for this monumental occasion but didn’t know about his sutures popping until I got home later that evening and ESPN was beginning what would turn into nearly a decade straight of all Red Sox all the time. Sportcenter anchors like John Buccigross and Steve Berthiaume might as well work for NESN. The only thing that can possibly distract Bristol from their love affair with the Nation is Tim Tebow. I mean, Miguel Cabrera should show up to Spring Training drunk and riding a unicorn and all Baseball Tonight would be talking about is whether or not Mike Aviles is going to be the Red Sox fulltime right fielder. Thank god for Scott Van Pelt whose Maryland roots reminds us all that there are in fact other baseball teams besides the Red Sox and Yankees.

Back to Schilling for a second, some people still wonder if his bloody sock was all just an enormous ruse, not to be confused with rouge, an aging bombastic pitchers final chance at back page relevancy. Take Orioles broadcaster, and Maine native Gary Thorne, who went on the record and openly questioned the entire thing. So, what was that on his stirrup anyway: blood or one of the 57 varieties? If the Hall of Fame begins offering Shilling’s sock as a condiment in their cafeteria then I think we’ll have our answer.

Then there was Paul Pierce doing his best Nancy Kerrigan impression during Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Only this time Jeff Gillooly and his police baton were no where to be found. Skeptics would later wonder why The Truth would require the services of a wheelchair for an “injury” that would only kept him out of action for less than a quarters worth of game action. Was it scripted? Did Vince McMahon suddenly hijack the NBA offices in NYC and hog tie Commissioner Stern to his private bathroom stall? Did Tonya Harding pay Kendrick Perkins to injure his teammate much like she brokered the deal in Detroit with her ex-husband?  To be completely fair to Kerrigan, a native of Woburn, Mass, the hematoma on her shin lasted much longer than any of the damage to Pierce’s sprained knee ligaments. Fans have since forgiven their captain as he would go on to lead the Celtics to their first NBA Championship in 22 years.

And while other famous Boston sports figures like Tommy Heinsohn and Booby Orr have probably experienced their fair share of high and low ankle injuries, it’s time to bring the focus back to Rob Gronkowski and Super Bowl XLVI. I like New England for two main reasons: 1) most of my friends, including my contrarian wife who thinks Eli Manning is a “super” nice guy, are picking the Giants to win and 2) now that Tim Tebow is out of the playoffs, God is clearly on Tom Brady’s side.

If Gronk plays it opens up the rest of the underneath for Wes Welker and Super Bowl XLVI MVP Aaron Hernandez. If Gronk doesn’t play then the Patriots will have to rely a bit more on their underrated running game (LAWFIRM!!!) and perhaps a few big plays down the field to either Deion Branch or (gulp) Chad Ochocinco. If Ochocinco ends up being the difference in this game you may find me Monday morning curled up in a fetal position next to my refrigerator.

Final Score: Patriots 34 Giants 31

MVP: Aaron Hernandez

Enjoy the game everybody!!!

view from Lucas Oil Stadium courtesy of @timdahlberg 

Fumblerooski: NFL Week 16

NFL Week 16

Houston (-7) over INDIANAPOLIS – Now that the Colts have gotten the one win out of the way they can go back to focusing on securing the top pick and Andrew Luck. Now that Matt Barkley will return to USC for his senior year, teams in need of a QB will be lining up to make a deal with the well positioned Colts.

KANSAS CITY (-2.5) over Oakland – Todd Haley would probably still be coaching the Chiefs if he were a little more willing to play Kyle Orton instead of Tyler Palko. Instead, Haley, with scraggly beard and massive ego in tote, is probably busying himself by scouring the Amazon Gold Box for some last minute deals on kitchen appliances.

BUFFALO (+3) over Denver – C’mon Buffalo! How do yo expect to hold onto the Bills when you can’t even sellout a game against Timothy and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?

TENNESSEE (-7.5) over Jacksonville – I bummed this game isn’t being played in Jacksonville. I always love it when the grounds crew throws a little Santa hat on top of Jaguar logo. Reason enough to prevent the team from moving to Los Angeles.

Arizona (+4) over CINCINNATI – Sneaky great game with both teams still fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Who knew that a game between John Skelton and Andy Dalton could be so compelling.

Miami (+9.5) over NEW ENGLAND – Weird things always seem to happen when these two team play during the final few weeks of the NFL season. Like the time in 2003 when a major snowstorm buried the northeast in over 2 feet of snow, preventing my dad and I from reaching Gillette Stadium. We got as far as Route 1 in Foxboro before having to turn around due to traffic/lack of parking spaces. I’m still waiting for my refund Mr. Kraft.

BALTIMORE (-12.5) over Cleveland – How can anyone still presume that the Ravens are the favorites to win the AFC after the total egg they laid last Sunday in San Diego? You can usually tell within the first couple of snaps whether or not Joe Flacco has taken his medication and clearly, against the Chargers, he had yet to catch his “fix”.

NY Giants (+3) over NY JETS – Head says Jets. Heart says Giants. If anything, I’ll enjoy rooting for Tom Coughlin over Rex Ryan. Class Act > Hot Air.

WASHINGTON (-6.5) over Minnesota – Which coach looks like they have higher blood pressure: Mike Shanahan or Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly? I say Shanahan. He constantly looks like he fell asleep in a tanning bed.

CAROLINA (-7.5) over Tampa Bay – I’d like to thank Ron Rivera, Cam Newton, and maybe even Bum Phillips for inspring me to change the name of my weekly NFL picks column.

PITTSBURGH (-14) San Francisco – Poor Ben Roethlisberger. Even when he is genuinely injured his teammates still don’t believe him. Not that a healthy QB matters here, Steelers could win this game with Tyler Palko under center.

San Diego (+2.5) over DETROIT – I look for the Ford Field scoreboard to self combust by the end of the 3rd quarter when the score is already 45-42.

SEATTLE (+2.5) over San Francisco – Do you think Pete Carroll told Matt Barkley to stay in school for one more year until the Seahawks were in better position to draft the USC QB?

Philadelphia (+1.5) over DALLAS – We’re are only weeks away from the 8-8 Eagles hosting a first round playoff game.

GREEN BAY (-12) over Chicago – Caleb Hanie could probably use a good stiff drink right about now.

NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over Atlanta – Darren Sproles is an amazing football player especially when you realize that he is roughly the same size as Tom Cruise.

Last Week 7-9 (Overall 115-106)

view from Lucas Oil Stadium courtesy of @TawnyTaylorPB

Aaron Rodgers And His Turtleneck Are Very Excited

And now for your Wild Card Weekend box score w/words AND pictures.

Seattle Seahawks 41 New Orleans Saints 36

Beast Mode is back! I asked my buddy Casey, a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan, what he thought about Marshawn Lynch’s game breaking run against the Saints to which he responded, “why didn’t he ever do that for us”. (The city of Buffalo just can’t catch a break.) I’m no football expert but even a fool could see that the Saints secondary was going to have a hard time defending Bengie Molina legging out an infield single let alone trying to cover those Seattle receivers.

view of Qwest Field courtesy of @Scrubs24

New York Jets 17 Indianapolis Colts 16

Jets survive, thanks in part to Jim Caldwell and his ongoing love affair with the timeout. Peyton Manning’s reaction to the ill advised clock stoppage was priceless. New York now heads to New England to take on the Patriots next Sunday in what will be the rubber match between two division rivals. VMS contributor Dave, a Jets fan, believes the line should be Patriots (-42). Gotta love the optimism.

view of Lucas Oil Stadium courtesy of @janesports

Baltimore Ravens 30 Kansas City Chiefs 7

Clearly the Chiefs weren’t quite ready for their closeup.  I hadn’t seen KC play all year and therefore had no real idea what to expect when they took the field against the Ravens.  A few observations: 1) Todd Haley doesn’t inspire much confidence.  2) Jamaal Charles is a top 3 fantasy pick next season. 3) Was I right about Charlie Weis sandbagging the play calling?

view of Arrowhead Stadium courtesy of @chad_or_vez23

Green Bay 21 Philadelphia 16

Packers should be scoring more points. What’s missing? QB can make every throw. Running game is picking up positive yardage on most carries. Should we blame the coach?  Recently, fans have loved giving McCarthy a hard time for his poor clock management.  One thing is for certain, he’s no Jim Caldwell. Lastly, did anyone else catch Joe Buck making a fat joke about Andy Reid during the 4th quarter of the Fox telecast?

view of Lincoln Financial Field courtesy of @Aaron_Nagler