February 1, 2004
FOOTBALL/POP CULTURE: Return of the Sports Guy
I hope you haven't missed out on this week's rare treat: Bill Simmons is back and blogging twice a day. Bill's Boston Sports Guy site, of course, was a hit blog before most people knew what a blog was -- for the last few years of the 1990s, he was a mostly one-man show offering daily links and sidesplittingly funny commentary on sports and pop culture. (As many of you know, I got my own start on the Net on Bill's site from May 2000 to its demise a year later). Anyway, he's been reduced to two columns a week lately while working for the Jimmy Kimmel show, but this week he's been in Houston for the Super Bowl and back in top form. Click here for yesterday's entry and links to the rest of the week.
I confess to not having followed football that much this season, but Bill's Thursday column completely sold me on why the Patriots should be heavy favorites:
Consider the following things:
*The Pats lost their last game against the Redskins on Sept. 28. The baseball playoffs started two days later. Now, we're about three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting ... and they still haven't lost a game. Only one other team in the history of the league -- the '72 Dolphins -- has won more games in a row than New England. And nobody seems to be even mildly impressed by this.
*Of those 14 victories, eight of them came against teams that won 10 games or more. The Panthers only played four teams with a winning record all season ... and they still lost five games! If this were the BCS, they would have been playing in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl.
*Looking back over these past four months, the best teams were the Pats, Titans, Eagles and Colts. They were the cream of the crop. And the Pats went 5-0 against those other three teams. Has that ever happened before?
* * *
*The Pats defense has only allowed one 100-yard rusher all season. Sixteen of the 18 quarterbacks they played ended up with a lower QB rating then they had for the rest of the season. They also have the best coach in the league. And their starting QB has a record of 39-12. Apparently none of this matters.
*They're playing the fourth seed from the NFC ... and the NFC absolutely sucked this season. The disparity between the two conferences hasn't been this glaring since the early-'90s. Just look at what happened with that Packers-Seahawks-Vikings-Cowboys debacle in the past two weeks -- the Pack went from needing a miracle to make the playoffs to being everyone's sleeper in the span of 12 hours.
Anyway, if the Super Bowl has taught us anything, it's this: When the best team from a superior conference has two weeks to prepare for an upstart team from an inferior conference, the game usually gets out of hand early (see San Diego-San Fran, Denver-Atlanta, Baltimore-N.Y. Giants, Chicago-New England). Especially with a shaky QB on the inferior team involved. . . .
*The Panthers lost three consecutive games less than two months ago. They also prevailed in three of the luckiest games of the season -- the fourth-and-10 to beat the Jags, the blocked extra point to beat the Bucs, and Jim Haslett's meltdown in New Orleans. Yeah, you need some luck ... but they were three plays away from being 8-8. . . .
Has any team ever won a conference championship by having their QB throw three times in the second half of a relatively close game? Come on. You think John Fox took the ball out of Delhomme's hands because he wanted to rest him?
Bill's Monday column also ran through another of his specialties, worshipping at the altar of gorgeous women . . . just two thoughts: (1) Bill asks what happened to Phoebe Cates, but if I recall correctly she made a conscious decision to stay out of the limelight and have children (with her husband, actor Kevin Kline); and (2) Bill writes of Jennifer Anniston, "[e]specially in those first two seasons of "Friends," when she had a little more weight on her . . . [t]hen she went Elisabeth Shue on us and got skinny ... she still looks great, but it's not the same." I have to not only agree, but say that this is, as far as I can tell, this is nearly a unanimous opinion and one that's shared by women as well as men. Nearly every time we watch Friends, my wife and I comment on how much better Anniston and Courtney Cox looked before they went all diet-crazy. I just don't know how women in Hollywood get it into their heads that they aren't supposed to look like . . . well, women.
Anyway, read the whole week's worth of columns, if you haven't already.