Archive for June, 2011

This bling is making my eyes sting

I love Super Bowl rings.

I love their gaudiness, their extra-terrestrial size, the jewels, the descriptions on the sides.

I love the clever way they reflect the number of Super Bowls a team has won.

I have had the pleasure of seeing every Super Bowl ring, after the NFL sent them over to London in 2009 and 2010 as part of the pre game festivities for the regular season International Series in England.

It was with some sense of childish anticipation that I wanted to see the next instalment of this legacy of bling.

The Packers were going to mark their fourth Super Bowl title this offseason, having held open the Steel Curtain long enough to get the pigskin to glide through ground and air in a more efficient way than their opponents in the 45th World Title game.

Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers deserved a ring that was worthy of a legacy that covers both the past and present, an item that screams Lombardi and softly speaks Sherman.

What the Packers team has ended up with is a hideous piece of costume jewellery that looks like some bit of aluminium tat that would make even  Zsa Zsa Gabor choke on her diamond encrusted Flutie Flakes.

I ‘get’ the four football shaped diamonds in the four corners of the front area of the ring, but the volume of diamonds around the face and throughout the ‘G’ logo look like the whole ring has been dipped in a bucket of broken glass.

Yes the ring is the superficial showpiece for Super Bowl winners, but if I had sweated blood and tears, overcome the adversity of being the lowest playoff seed, got past some of the worst injury jinx in years and finally shook the shadow of a future Hall of Fame quarterback who should have retired I would expect something better looking than the lead and glass ensemble that is the Superbowl XLV winners ring.

What do you all think ? Am I way off the mark or is this the worst Super Bowl ring design in 45 years?


Broadway Joe kicked off MNF in 1970

This lockout is as much fun as a trip to the dentist so any news about any type of NFL football on my television screen is good news.

Which is why an email from NFLUK earlier this week made me grin maniacally from ear to ear.

ESPN in England (to all you USA based fans this is a watered down lot of programming and not a like for like ESPN feed that you would get) has made an agreement with the NFL to show old ‘episodes’ of Monday Night Football.

As someone who has almost half of his Sky+ recording box hard drive memory packed with about 50 episodes of ‘NFL America’s Game‘ I am an absolute Barry White on the sound system style lover when it comes to watching old NFL footage.

A number of games have already been scheduled in to be shown, including the inaugural episode, which will satisfyingly be the first ever MNF game, held on September 21 1970,  featuring the New York Jets (led by Broadway Joe Namath) and the Cleveland Browns.

Now I have to confess that as someone who has lived in England all his life I did not grow up with MNF, but as far as buying into the drama, the aura and the significance of the last game to be played every week during the regular season I think it is a perfect idea.

I only really agreed to pay for ESPN (an extra satellite tv subscription here in England) last year because it offered exclusive live MNF coverage. I would like to report that I got my money’s worth.

My highlight/lowlight from MNF last year was the coming out party of dog killer Michael Vick as he executed one of the greatest single game performances in regular season history (see here). As a Redskins fan and a Vick hater it was like watching a 3 hour car crash, but one that you could not help but rubberneck the entire time.

The ESPN retro MNF fun fest begins in July.

Hopefully it will be double good news by then, with real 2011 free agency under way and preparations for the 2011 NFL season in full swing.

Regardless, getting to watch NFL legends from the last four decades slug it out on my tv screen is going to be a treat.


Why was Mark Herzlich not drafted?

If there is one NCAA football player that deserved to be drafted, but was ridiculously overlooked by all 32 teams it was former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich.

Herzlich had an outstanding stint at Boston College as a do-it-all linebacker, ending his college career with 314 tackles, 7 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.

Despite the stats the only team to pull the trigger on Herzlich in a pro team draft is the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL. in the 10th round of their 2011 rookie draft. (Bizarrely the Nighthawks are led at quarterback by 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, a man who has bounced around football leagues more widely and frequently than a rubber ball.)

Herzlich has not committed to the Nighthawks as he is still hoping that an NFL team pick him up once this crazy lockout is finally over, and NFL FAN IN ENGLAND hopes says he deserves a shot at an NFL roster.

It was with that in mind that I was overwhelmed when I sent a Twitter message to Mr Herzlich to say he should become a Redskin.

To my surprise and honour Mark retweeted my message to his 14,211 followers.

Two words – TOTAL RESPECT.

Red Grange - a man's man's man.

If Red Grange was alive today he would be 108 years old today.

As it is one of the founder members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Class of 1963) made it to the ripe old age of 87.

Not bad considering he played the brutal sport of American Football in a time where a leather skull cap and a thick vest were considered sufficiant padding to protect people from the onslaught of rabid defenders.

Grange knew pain from an early age, he lost his mother aged five, and as a teenager at Wheaton High School in Illinois he was hit so hard in a hight school game he remained unconscious for 48 hours.

The achievements of Red Grange go beyond 99% of any human being who has ever picked up and carried a football, and it is during these times of billion dollar stadiums and billion dollar lawsuits that we should remember that without the likes of Red Grange there would be no multi million dollar football players.

The New York Times ran an article about Grange’s historic 1925 week 11 game for the Chicago Bears, in New York against the rookie franchise Giants. Was it not for 73,000 fans turning up to see the ‘Galloping Ghost’ in the flesh (let alone the 20,000 refused entry on the day) it is arguable that the Giants would have ceased to exist by the end of that year. The other four teams that entered the NFL in 1925 (Detroit Panthers, Pottsville Maroons, Providence Steam Roller and the Canton Bulldogs) all failed to survive.

Anyone who loves the NFL must read all about Red Grange, especially on his birthday.

Lets all raise a toast to Red Grange – a man who deserves the status of legend.

After almost two years behind bars its time to say 'Return of the Plax'

In the 1990s a British guy called Mark Morrison had his only true pop chart hit with a song called ‘Return of the Mack’. Now if you tinker with the lyrics ever so slightly you will be singing ‘Return of the Plax, You know that I’d be back.’

The Plax of course refers to former Super Bowl winning WR Plaxico Burress who went from hero to zero after literally (not metaphorically like most idiotic NFL superstars who have run ins with the law) shooting himself in the foot at a nightclub.

Plax served just under two years in a state prison (Oneida Correctional Facility in New York – somewhat inappropriately situated on ‘School Road’ in Oneida County)   before his release this month.

Rumour has it that the Philadelphia Eagles want the former jailbird to add to their receiving corps, joining the explosive but shorter DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.

Plax did him self no harm to the natives of Philly after he came out of the prison sporting a red Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap (see here).

With 2011 Free Agency about as lively as Jabba the Hutt after 100 Philly cheese steaks there is nowhere for Plax to immediately go, apart from the free world.

Even though his journey to freedom did not involve crawling through a 500 yard long tunnel full of human excrement (a.l.a. Red’s narration in Shawshank Redemption “Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine”) he did have a pretty crappy time I can imagine.

On a fantasy football front I think Plax still has enough determination and talent to get about 50 catches for 800 yards and 5 touchdowns if Roger and Demorrio ever get their fingers out of their asses and decide that it is mutually beneficial to actually have an NFL season.

For all you Mark Morrison fans – here is the video I mentioned at the start of this post. Yes readers its that desperate during these strike ridden times, I am resorting to 90s pop videos.