Football vs. football: What do people really want to watch?

Every year, the Super Bowl comes around and the mavens in the sports media tell us that it’s the biggest sporting event in the world.

Then every four years, the World Cup comes around and mavens in the sports media tell us that it’s the biggest sporting event in the world.

So which one is it? (Via Beutlerink):

World-Cup-viewersBut (the NFL fans whine) you’re comparing something that happens every four years to something that happens every year.

Really, are you going to make me do the math?

Multiply the Super Bowl number by four, and you’re still short by the entire population of North America, where the only people who care about the Super Bowl live.  And when you think about it, lots of people in the world don’t have televisions. So the World Cup is a community event where villages gather in front of a lone TV to see what’s going on.

And unlike the Super Bowl, they’re not tuning in just to watch the commercials.

I was in Belgium during the 2006 World Cup, and the city put a huge monitor in the middle of the street near the Bourse (the stock exchange building) downtown and closed off the area to automobile traffic. We roamed the streets with an Italian flag and joined all the Italians after Italy beat France in the final. That year in Paris, they put a big screen on the Eiffel Tower which allowed everyone to see Zidane’s headbutt heard around the world.

In 2010, we were in a restaurant/pub in London watching Spain beat the Netherlands in the final, although the highlight of that tournament was when the U.S. tied England because goalie Robert Green let this get by him. We were watching that match with a bunch of Brits who were ragging us on how badly American asses were going to be kicked. Let’s just say, the Americans were the ones gloating at the end.

Check out this photo gallery at the Washington Post to see how people are watching the World Cup around the globe. This is not how we watch the Super Bow.

Louisville’s three first-round NFL draft picks

Well, Teddy Bridgewater went in the first round of the NFL draft … as the very last pick.

The Minnesota Vikings took him, which means he’ll be wearing lots of gloves next year (via ESPN):

Next season will be the Minnesota Vikings‘ last in the 31-year-old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and fans of the purple and gold can look forward to blue lips and red cheeks as they shiver through two seasons of old-school outdoor football.

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said Friday that the team plans to play at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, while the team’s new stadium gets built at the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis.

Teddy wasn’t the only Louisville Cardinal selected in the first round.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Kentucky

That’s safety Calvin Pryor on the right, who went to the New York Jets as the 18th pick. Here he is in action:

And, to everyone’s surprise another Card was drafted in the first round before Teddy. At No. 26 the Philadelphia Eagles took Marcus Smith:

Louisville had three picks go in the first round. That’s the best the team has ever done. The only other team to match that number was Texas A&M. It’ll be interesting to see how Louisville does in the coming college football season. New quarterback, new coach, new strategies and a new conference.

But for now, let’s have one more look at Teddy firing up the crowd:


The NFL draft mystery: Teddy Bridgewater

I didn’t much care about college football until three years ago. That’s when Teddy Bridgewater started playing for Louisville. Ask anyone about Louisville football, and you’d hear that Bridgewater is the second best quarterback to come from the Cardinals’ program.

The first is Johnny Unitas. And if you think about it, if Teddy had stayed in Louisville for another year, he would have been the best.

I’ve watched him play broken and bruised against Rutgers to win the Big East title. I was at the Sugar Bowl when he demolished the Florida Gators, even though the Cardinals had absolutely no running game until the end, when the game had already been decided. I watched the following season when Louisville had a 12-1 record, and could have been perfect if the defense hadn’t collapsed against the University of Central Florida, because Teddy had sealed the win. And I watched the destruction of the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

So the mystery I’m trying to figure out is why there’s talk that Bridgewater won’t be selected tonight in the first round of the NFL draft? All of Louisville knows that the Cardinals would have gone nowhere without Teddy, but in all the draft predictions I’ve seen, Bridgewater will be the SECOND Cardinal selected, with safety Calvin Pryor going early in the first round. Yeah, Pryor’s a great safety, but Bridgewater was the team.

I don’t understand this.

Meanwhile, here’s a heartwarming video about Teddy from Spike Lee:

The old ‘wrong ball’ play

This is probably proof that football does cause concussions that lead to brain damage:

Because it works again:

And again:

And again:

It is in the arsenal of every Pee Wee football team. When it works in high school, as in the first clip, that’s a sign the kids took too many hits to the head.


O.J. Simpson wins parole, stays in jail

A couple of days ago, I asked “whatever happened to O.J. Simpson.” Found out he was trying to win parole. USA Today says he did — sort of:

O.J. Simpson won parole Wednesday on some of the charges that have kept him in a Nevada prison for almost five years, but still faces at least four more years behind bars.

The Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners order says the decision relates to two kidnapping and two robbery convictions and one conviction for burglary with a firearm. But Simpson, 66, will continue to be held for related convictions for which he is not yet eligible for parole.

So, O.J. got some time knocked off his sentence. But he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Alex Karras, NFL great (and Mongo), dies at 77

Alex Karras, who played tackle for the Detroit Lions for 12 seasons in the 1950s and ’60s, died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 77.

Though not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he was named by the Hall to the All Decade Team for the 1960s as defensive tackle.

Karras said that during his best year in the NFL, he made $9,000.

But Karras had another career that proved more lucrative than football.

That’s him as Mongo in “Blazing Saddles.” He also did pretty well in television, as one of the commentators for “Monday Night Football,” and as the adoptive father of Emanuel Lewis in the TV show “Webster.”

According to the New York Times, he suffered from kidney disease, heart disease stomach cancer and dementia. The dementia was a result of his NFL career.

According to the Washington Post:

In April, he became the lead plaintiff in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. He is among about 3,500 retired football players who accuse the league of not protecting them better from head injuries.

Mongo just a pawn in the game of life. But Karras’s life was surely fascinating.

Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, dies at 82

Oakland Raiders logo

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s the quote that sums up Al Davis, one of the great minds in football.

Just win baby!

From the New York Times:

The Raiders played in the A.F.L. championship game in 1967, 1968 and 1969, and when the A.F.L. and the N.F.L. merged in 1969, they went to the first of their 11 conference championship games in 1970. Mr. Davis’s Raiders played in five Super Bowls, winning three, Super Bowls XI in 1977, XV in 1981 and XVIII in 1984. From 1963 to 1985, the Raiders compiled an overall record of 229-91-11, the highest winning percentage of any team in professional sports during that time.

9/11: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

Before the Washington Redskins home opener with the New York Giants.

Below, Colin Powell, left, on the jumbo screen, shakes hands with Giants quarterback Eli Manning before the coin toss.

The Redskins won, 28-14.

Virtual reality

If you were watching the Vikings-Packers game on television in London, you saw during time outs how ESPN America aired player-profile spots made up of plays picked up from the EA Sports “Madden 2011” game.

You’d think the NFL would give the Brits real footage of players if it was serious about building up a fan base overseas. If the goal is to sell more copies of  a videogame, that’s fine. But if you want to show how exciting players are, let’s see their real highlights, not cartoons.

George Blanda died

Football fans my age remember that back in the early 1970s, whenever the Oakland Raiders played, television cameras would focus on an older guy wearing the number 16, sitting on the bench, smoking a cigarette. He’d put the cigarette down, put on his helmet, trot onto the field and kick a winning field goal.

Television commentators loved George Blanda. He played until 1976, retiring at 49, and gave retired jocks in the announcers’ booth the feeling that no matter how out of shape they were, they could still suit up keep up with the younger guys, because George could do it. He was a Hall of Fame kicker and the Raiders backup quarterback. But he had a huge career as a quarterback long before he joined the Raiders and was one of the players responsible for the success of the old American Football League.

He must have driven antismoking forces crazy, because he always was puffing away on the sidelines when he wasn’t playing. Haven’t seen anything like him in football since.

He was 83.