Monday, December 03, 2012

12/03 (Monday) Quickie

That was a tremendous afternoon of football, headlined by startlingly interesting QB play:

*Andrew Luck: Greatest season ever by a rookie QB? Isn't it insane to think that the only reason he wouldn't claim that title is because the other top rookie QB is having a slightly better season? (And that we are coming off of last year, when Cam Newton created a new standard for rookie QBs?)

*Charlie Batch: Coming off last week's debacle, Batch sobbing on the sidelines as the Steelers pulled out the win in Baltimore over the rival Ravens is my new favorite NFL image of the year so far.

*Greg McElroy:  If you thought the Sanchez-Tebow QB controversy was as absurd as it could get, think again. Mark Sanchez was finally benched, but Tim Tebow was unavailable, so they go to the third-stringer -- the articulate game-managing former college champ who has been a bemused non-factor all season long -- and he leads the offense to a TD that Sanchez couldnt'... and the team to a win. And now... what, exactly?

*Russell Wilson: Lost in the Luck-RGIII mania, Wilson is having an arguably more impressive season, given that Luck and RGIII were expected to be NFL stars from the get-go, where Wilson was a 3rd-stringer with potential, but certainly with no one expecting THIS. I am entirely comfortable with "Offensive Rookie of the Year" being a three-way tie between Luck, RGIII and Wilson.

Consider that spectrum of compelling QB storylines -- the No. 1 overall pick leading his team to the playoffs... the ageless back-up pulling off the gob-smacking win on the road... the former 7th-round pick and third-stringer stealing the show from the most popular player in the league... the third-wheel rookie QB pulling off the win of the day for his playoff contender against one of the league's elite teams.

How much more can you ask for?

Tragedy in KC: I appreciate why reporters are trying to show a little nuance in discussing Jovan Belcher, but the reality is that the guy is a murderer -- clearly mentally unstable, although that's not a mitigating factor -- and it is hard (if not impossible) to understand why we would treat him as anything but.

MNF: The must-see "Monday Night" game of the year? Very possibly -- it's RGII, the most must-see player in the NFL right now, against the defending champs, with the Redskins a win away from being very much in the Wild Card discussion (and a loss away from being pretty much out of it).

CFB Bowl lineup set: Alabama-Notre Dame will be the most-watched national-title game of the "media-fragmentation" era. The rest of the bowl lineup? Ehh...

The Fiesta (K-State/Oregon) looks fun and the Rose (Stanford-Wisconsin) looks solid, but the Sugar (Florida-Louisville) is a dud.

The highlight of the whole thing? The unprecedented presence of a MAC team in the BCS -- Northern Illinois -- only partially mitigated by the idea they are playing a fizzling FSU.

(Meanwhile, among the rest, the most notable detail is that Louisiana Tech opted NOT to play in a bowl game -- a bowl game in Louisiana! -- rather than play cross-state rival Louisiana-Monroe.)

Final USA TODAY Sports Coaches Top 25 ballot: Transparency! And so you get to see Vandy's James Franklin pushing Notre Dame down to 4th (approve!) And you get to see Michigan's Brady Hoke pushing Northern Illinois to 25th (behind USC, for whom he was the only coach to rank in the Top 25!) In the end, it is impossible to begrudge the coaches for their various regional biases and odd confederacies and personal sympathies -- the best part is that it is all out there in the open.

Meanwhile, check out my own BlogPoll Top 25 final ballot of the regular season. As I said yesterday: I am fine with Notre Dame vs. Alabama for the national title, but I think ND is not as good -- by resume or eye test -- as three other SEC teams right now. That said: All three of those SEC teams had the chance to win the SEC and get into the national title game, and all fell short.

NBA: Dwight Howard is embarrassed by old Magic mates in Lakers loss to Orlando. The Magic may or may not being going anywhere, but that was pretty close to their NBA Finals Game 7.

(Of course, the only detail that will get coverage will be Kobe telling Pau Gasol to "put his big-boy pants on," and deal with his late-game benching.)

MLB Hot Stove: The best storyline of the day is the rumors swirling that the Nats and Rays might be circling around a deal that would send Tampa workhorse James Shields to the Nats for some of DC's young (controlled) talent.

The most important (but likely overlooked) news of the day is the report that a study of 85 brains of dead football players showed that 68 had signs of CTE.

A Quickie mantra worth repeating: Knowing what we know now -- let alone what we'll know soon -- how in the world would you let your kid play tackle football?

-- D.S.

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