Today's Names to Know: New Year's, Patriots, Wild Card Weekend, Redskins, NFL Draft 2008, Donovan McNabb, Devin Hester, Bowl Mania, Dayton, Jose Canseco, The Wire and More!
Happy New Year! Special New Year's post coming later this morning.
NFL Wrap: If it wasn't for the Pats perfect season, Week 17 of the 2007 NFL season would have approached all-time worthlessness. As it is, the playoffs are set. The team to beat (or not beat, in this case) is established. Let's tee up next week:
AFC: Jags at Steelers, Titans at Chargers. Jags recently beat the Steelers in
NFC: Redskins at Seahawks, Giants at Bucs. Ugh, can you remember a less inspired pair of NFC Wild Card games? What does it say when the biggest intrigue is watching KSK's Unsilent Majority (Redskins uber-fan) and Captain Caveman (Seahawks uber-fan) go at each other all week?
(By the way, after the way I called out the Giants on Friday, I owe them a hat-tip for the way they played to win the game on Saturday. I didn't credit them enough in Sunday's post.)
Honestly, what an lame batch of games in the playoffs -- totally appropriate for what has been the lamest season in recent NFL history, entirely because of the Pats' perfection, though ironically (and infernally) the Pats perfection by itself redeems the season.
Let's say a quick "thanks" to the Browns, who were the surprise success of the season. It's really a shame that
(The Redskins making the playoffs -- even ahead of Purple Jesus -- is one of the great stories of an NFL season with very few of them. It's a shame the conditions that made it a heart-warming situation. Clinton Portis' somersault into the end zone might just be the image of the year for Redskins fans.)
NFL Draft 2008: Who won when they SHOULDN'T have? Ending a miserable 2007 season on an appropriate note, the Falcons won when they shouldn't have, taking themselves out of a guaranteed spot in the Top 3 and putting themselves into a 4-way scrum for the No. 3 pick in what will likely be a 4-player draft: Good thing the Falcons need a QB. (UPDATE: Apparently, the Falcons earned the No. 3 spot in a tiebreaker. OK. It doesn't excuse the following...)
(So: What's the Jets' excuse for not tanking and ending up in that 4-loss Gang of Four, rather than locked into the No. 3 draft spot?
Season-ending intrigue: Was this Donovan McNabb's final game in an Eagles uniform? Among other offseason storylines for the teams in the league not in the playoffs, this might be the biggest one.
For former playoff teams like the Bears, Saints or Bengals -- or teams that entered the season with playoff hopes like the Broncos or Ravens: Back to the drawing board? Or do you just rely on parity?
(For the Bears, let's hope it's a lot more Devin Hester, who ended his season having established himself as the most exciting player in pro football.)
Marv Levy stepping down as GM of the Bills? The proper response is "Zzz..."
NBA: Lakers go with the short-shorts against the Celtics, then lose. I appreciate the gimmick, I really do. Loved it, actually. It was worth the loss. But despite John Stockton's success wearing them into the new century, I actually think the players had to be feeling out of sorts wearing the shorts early on; it's just such a change from the usual (which they switched back to in the second half). But, as far as entertainment goes, I give the Lakers huge credit.
Blazers win streak hits 13: On December 2,
CFB Last Night:
CFB Bowl Mania: Six bowls on Monday! It's as if people don't need to go to work or something. Here's a preview, in chronological order of their scheduled kickoffs.
Humanitarian: Georgia Tech vs. Fresno St. Needless to say, Paul Johnson has bigger expectations for '08 than Humanitarianism.
Sun: South Florida vs.
Chick-fil-A: Clemson vs.
CBB Weekend Wrap: Yes,
MLB: Jose Canseco to write a sequel to "Juiced," presumably titled "Juiced 2: Electric Boogaloo." Actually, the working title is "Vindicated." (What: You expected it to be called "Humility?" The irony is that if Canseco had even a minimal bit of restraint, he would be positioned as the hero in this steroids story.)
Congress wanted to reinstate Pete Rose? I can't get behind this story, if only because it involved scandalized former Congressman Bob Ney of
TV (Non-Sports): "The Wire" Season 5 season premiere is supposedly going on HBO On Demand TODAY -- a week ahead of the scheduled debut. I can't wait for the return of the greatest drama in the history of TV.
Shanoff reading this Thursday in NYC: Don't forget to save the date Thursday night for a reading event, where I'll be the opening act for Will Leitch and Dave Zirin. That's like Lifehouse opening up for Prince and U2. (Happy Ending, 302 Broome, 8 pm, FREE). Details here.
New Year's Resolutions: I used to make lists of dozens of things I wanted to improve; it all seemed sort of technocratic. For the last few years, I've tried to abide by "Live and let live," with a handful of the usuals (eat better, work out more) thrown in, aspirationally. (Special New Year's post coming later this morning.)
Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for 2008. Be safe.