Posts Tagged ‘Joe Montana’

Anyone following North American sport cannot fail to acknowledge the NCAA College basketball tournament, where it is all about surviving in order to move on.

Unlike the debacle that is the current NCAA College football post-season, the basketball post-season is at least simple to follow. It is a simple knockout tournament. You win you stay alive. You keep winning you get to the ‘final four’ and then a chance to lift the shiny trophy.

The NFL have tried to capitalise on this wave of ‘bracketology’ discussions by launching their own knockout competition to decide the greatest ever NFL play.

With the parallel timing of the ‘final four’ NFL plays and the ‘final-four’ NCAA College Basketball games it’s all about getting to the final this weekend.

I am a little saddened that the final four NFL plays are dominated by modern-day plays; Marshawn Lynch running ‘beast-mode’ (2011); DeSean Jackson’s game winning punt-return touchdown (2010); Troy Polamalu’s ‘over-the-top’ tackle (2010). The remaining play is from 1988, Steve Young’s insane run through the entire Minnesota Vikings defense, and it is without doubt the best of the four (in my eyes).

If I had it my way I would have made the top 64 plays far more eclectic, with one play from every year over the last 64 seasons.

So where would I go with my top plays of all time? It’s a tough call and I don’t know the order quite yet, but here I go with some of my personal favourites…

  • Leonard Marshall forcing a fumble by Joe Montana in the 1991 NFC Championship game. I was 17 at the time and thought Joe Montana was invincible. That single play knocked the stuffing out of ‘Joe Cool’ and it was five Giants field-goals that gave the visiting team the win.
  • Darrell Green’s punt-return in the 1987 Divisional playoffs. Withe the scores tied 14-14 and a minus 10 wind-chill factor Green picked up a punt around midfield and ran it back for a score. Green had been playing cornerback all game and even tore his own rib cartilage half-way through the return after hurdling over a wannabe tackler.
  • Eli Manning’s 10 yard touchdown run at Wembley in 2007. For the 81,176 fans at the first ever regular season NFL game played in England it was the realisation of the dreams of fans like myself, who fell in love with the sport at a very young age but never even imagined they could see real NFL teams in a real NFL regular-season game. Manning’s scramble and the whole game may have been soggy and scrappy, but right there and then the NFL had truly ‘touched-down’ in England. 
  • Santana Moss’s 70 yard touchdown catch in 2005. Under four minutes left, down 13-0 and in Texas, Redskins wideout Moss caught not one but two bombs delivered by Mark Brunell. The second, a 70 yard catch, was the winner and helped his team to make it into the playoffs (later in the season).

More to come soon, but what do you think so far?

Advertisements

Had the pleasure of picking up my weekly free copy of a ‘lads’ magazine called Shortlist just outside Birmingham New Street (UK) train station this afternoon.

I enjoy a good skim through it as I make my 20 minute train journey home, and to my delight today’s issue had an American Football article in it penned by none other than the singer Huey Lewis (found on page 58).

He was reminiscing  about the day the San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII (23). As a Niners fan he went as far as to say “Still I’ll never forget this game.”

All seems quite straight forward so far, until you read in full the article he wrote. Lewis describes how 49ers quarterback Joe Monana ‘orchestrated a 92-yard drive, ending in a 10-yard pass to Roger Craig to win the game’.

Whooooah – ROGER CRAIG ? Every NFL fan in the world knows that it was wide receiver John Taylor who caught the winning score as the Bengals focussed their defensive efforts on man marking Jerry Rice.

Huey, I hate to say it but I think you have the early onset of dementia. Next you will start saying the Bengals won Super Bowl XXIII.

You stick to the music and leave the NFL punditry to the likes of Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

Goodnight knuckle-heads – and especially for you Huey, below is what actually happened at the end of Super Bowl XXXII.

Broncos QB John Elway had a bad day at the office in Super Bowl XXIV

I was only 15 when the San Francisco 49ers pulled down the collective pants of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV (1990).

I wasn’t legally allowed to bet, but I somehow convinced my mum to go into our local high-street bookmakers and put £5 on the 49ers winning the game by 35 points or more.

Made a small fortune that weekend, but more importantly the memory of Joe Montana clinically tearing apart the Broncos secondary was one I will never forget.

Anyone who witnessed the sub zero coolness of Montana in his previous three Super Bowl appearances would not have shown an iota of surprise as the team in orange were squashed like a bag of Jaffas in a juicer.

I’m sure this game in some small part influenced the decision to bring the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers to London to play in the fourth annual NFL International game in England.

These were two teams that in the 1980s would have inspired people from across the UK to find a home in their heart for the NFL, either as glory supporters (like the sheep over here in England that started supporting the Patriots after 2000), or as fans of the eternal underdog.

Anyone becoming (and staying to this day) a Broncos fan after seeing the guts it took John Elway and his team mates to embark upon another NFL season after being slaughtered in three Super Bowls in a four-year stretch, deserved total respect in my book.

I wonder how many other fans have booked tickets to see the 49ers v Broncos at Wembley Stadium on Halloween 2010 will dust down their NFL memory archive and remember the day Montana, Rice, Craig and Rathman looked like school bullies who had not only stolen the Broncos players lunch money, but had them marched the down to the bank one by one and ordered them at gunpoint to withdraw all their cash and give it to the team in red and gold.

Who else remembers Super Bowl XXIV so fondly?

Is this kid a future Hall of Fame NFL QB?The news that a Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christianhigh school quarterback accepting an offer to become a Washington Huskie in 2010 is not something I would normally report on.

Wednesday’s news that this same QB declined an offer from the Fighting Irish Notre Dame would also seem somewhat inconsequential.

That this gun slinger is going into his senior high school season throwing passes to team mate WR Trey Smith, the son of Hollywood actor Will Smith (WR Trey Smith) AND  he is keeping backup QB Trevor Gretzky on the bench, the son of NHL ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is bizarre enough.

This is where it truly goes ‘radio rentals’ (for all you non UK fans this is Cockney rhyming slang for mental) as the passer in question (seen left wearing the #5 shirt) is none other that the son of four time Superbowl winning quarterback Joe Montana – Mr Nick Montana.

Trust me you could not make this up. Don’t believe me – click here.

This would be the UK equivalent of Hugh Grant’s son (not that I think he even has one), David  Beckham’s son Romeo and Ian Botham’s son (English cricket legend) all playing for the same school Sixth-Form football team (soccer).

As Dizzy Rascal would say ‘BONKERS’.

Only in America! And this ladies and gentlemen is why I love our friends over the other side of the pond.

Anyone ALREADY getting excited about the 2014 NFL Draft (assuming that Montana Jnr does not apply for NFL draft eligibility as a junior) ?

It’s a long and somewhat depressing off-season. Six months of guessing, planning, bragging, but above all not a single minute of regular season NFL action that means a jot.

So what is there to do in the wasteland between March and September?

Well there is baseball and even basketball, but despite almost 20 years of trying I cannot emotionally attach myself to the likes of the Denver Nuggets or the New York Yankees.

As a six year old to relieve boredom I recall my father buying me a sticker album, Panini Football 1980. To my non-European readers I refer to the round ball variety of football.

It was there that I remember the initial joy of opening packets of stickers (which I recall cost 5 pence a packet) to see if I could pull out a shiny silver badge or a famous player such as Liverpool star Kenny Dalglish or my childhood football hero Viv Anderson (a defender for Nottingham Forest and the first African Caribbean player to play for England).

Growing up in a small town in Surrey (a county below London on a map) I did not live near to a major football team so I chose the team to support based on the team sticker that had the most trophies by the players feet.

Back in 1980 Nottingham Forest were the best team in England and Europe under the genius that was Brian Clough, so I said to myself that would be my team. Little did I know that almost 30 years later I and most other Nottingham Forest fans would still be harking back to those glory days, with little to show for it in terms of trophies earned in the past three decades.

So I have football stickers to blame for my love of Nottingham Forest starting in 1980, and 29 years later I still share the same childlike excitement for opening packets of cards to see if I can pull a rare card or a limited edition one.

It is interesting in England that children in 2009 will potentially commence their love for collecting stickers the same way I did all those years ago, just like American children will open their first pack of NFL trading cards and share the passion for collecting small pieces of card.

Somebody somwhere was happy when they opened a pack and got this Matt Ryan card - on sale for $500 on EBay today

Somebody somwhere was happy when they opened a pack and got this Matt Ryan card - on sale for $500 on EBay today

Growing up in the 1980s I became obsessed with all things NFL and I recall that in 1987 Topps released a set of NFL cards. They were smaller than the set issued in the United States in both physical size and collection size.

I used to save up money given to me to get the bus to school to buy these cards and I remember sending off for the small collection box to keep my collection safe.

I would read all the stats on the back of each card and flick through the collection in boring lessons such as Music or Religious Education.

My music teacher Mrs Nye in fact confiscated my collection for a whole term (semester) as I was paying more attention to them than I was to playing an electric keyboard.

I did get them back the very first day of the next term and vowed to never bring them back to school. I can proudly say that I still have that collection, featuring the likes of Joe Montana, Dan Fouts and Dan Marino.

Where my interest began - a 1987 Topps Dan Marino card

Where my interest began - a 1987 Topps Dan Marino card

From then for about the next 15 years that was the only interaction I had with NFL trading cards, until one day at work in 2002 I was talking to a rather beefy looking businessman about the NFL.

He shared my love for American football and told me that he had a signed Walter Payton shirt hanging up in his office that he won on an Internet auction site called EBay.

After he told me how much he payed I quickly gave up on the idea of collecting full size NFL players shirts.

He must have seen that I was not exactly wealthy and suggested that I bid for an NFL trading card which is signed or has a small piece cut from an NFL players shirt.

I was very excited to even think I could own a small (very small in fact) piece of shirt worn by an NFL athlete in a real NFL game.

He told me that rookie players are the ones worth the most money so I bid for a card featuring the 2001 Heisman Tropy winner Eric Crouch and a small piece of a brown leather football that he had held.

I won the auction, and from then on I have spent time over the last 6 years collecting various cards on Ebay, as well as purchasing packets (an even on one occasion a full box) of NFL trading cards when visiting the USA.

I have not made any bids in 2009 but I get the feeling my wife would kill me if she saw a return of the small brown bubble envelopes dropping through our letterbox with remarkable regularity.

I am still waiting for the day that I pull an amazing cad from a pack I have purchased, as opposed to bidding for the card I know I have a chance of winning on EBay.

Cards I have pulled include; one with a piece of ball used by the Dolphins Ricky Williams in 2003 v the Buffalo Bills; one with a piece of the shirt held up by Calvin Johnson when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions and an autograph of former Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller.

I have emailed all the USA based card companies in the past and they have been kind enough to send me free cards and even card buying guides.

It’s a fun hobby for sure, provided you do not become obsessed, and providing you have the spare cash to indulge.

Above all it’s something to do during the tedium of the off-season, and what with the 2009 NFL Rookie Draft just weeks away, my advice would be to snap up any Rookie cards when they come up on EBay.

You could get a signed rookie card for a quarterback drafted in the sixth round for a very reasonable price! And we all know which three time Superbowl winning quarterback was a 6th round pick don’t we!

So does anyone else admit to collecting NFL trading cards? And if yes what was your best ever pull?

Favre gets used to his new colours - Pic by Steve Coleman Associated Press

Favre gets used to his new colours - Pic by Steve Coleman Associated Press

The whole Brett Favre Green Bay Packers saga during this off-season has had more yawns than an intercontinental sleeping championships, so it with some degree of relief that number #4 has left Wisconsin for the sleepy town of New ‘goddam’ York.

Gulp!

This means the Favre saga – a bit like Mr Balboa in Rocky VI – will go a few rounds too many in the ring.

The New York media will no doubt waste a small rain forest in paper analysing Brett’s move to the Big Apple, calling him names ranging from the ‘ressurection’ to ‘a grey haired over the hill dreamer’, but face it the New York Jets are NOT a Superbowl ready team like the Green Bay Packers.

The Jets have simply not got the defensive talent or the offensive line to make it into the post-season.

Thomas Jones is an average starter at best, a non glamorous starter that neither scares opposing teams nor exites home fans. Laverneus Coles is coming off an injury at wide-out, and Jerricho Cotchery is consistent but he is not the man to get you to the final dance.

Green Bay was the team Brett should have stayed at if he wanted a shot at the next Superbowl, now he will end his career in some kind of ugly kelly green and white mess on the AstroTurf of Giants Stadium.

I will say in here and now on NFLFANINENGLAND that Brett Favre will NOT make the playoffs with the New York Jets. He will potentially throw 3,000 yards in 2008, he may even extend his outstanding consecutive starts record, but Brett will not be tasting the rarefied air of the playoffs let alone the Superbowl.

The fact the Jets and Packers agreed a deal that means the Packers get a 1st round pick if Brett makes the Superbowl is not optimistic, it’s downright bonkers.

The hype for the Jets v Patriots game in week 2 of the 2008 season will be out of control. The Pats are a team on a mission, and also incredibly the same team that Favre beat in his only ever Superbowl win.

I think one man that has been given an incredibly raw deal is unemployed quarterback Chad Pennington, who must have a sore back after being shoved out with one hefty push towards the exit part of the New York Jets practice facility.

Yes Pennington did not have an incredible 2007, but he was the NFL comeback player of the year in 2006, and has the NFL record – YES THE NFL RECORD for completion % for all NFL quarterbacks who have attempted a minimum of 1,500 passes – better than Tom Brady, even better than Joe Montana or Steve Young.

Anyone out there think that the Jets can go better than my 2008 prediction of 6-10 ??? Please post a response

Now at least we get to see if former Cal quarterback Aaron Rogers is the real deal – thank goodness !