Saturday, February 06, 2010

go or geaux?

Although it really doesn't matter to me who wins the Super Bowl, I do want to pick a team and root for them tomorrow. I like both the Colts and the Saints and will have to dig a little deeper to find a preference.

The Colts are especially popular in Knoxville because of Peyton Manning. My friends outside Tennessee might not realize that he is a former UT Volunteer. In addition to all his national endorsements, he turns up on local TV in commercials for Mercy Health Partners. I am impressed with the star quarterback's ability, even if he is a little OCPD.

The City of Indianapolis also has something going for it in my book. One of the boxes in my basement contains the key to the city. Don & Mike and I each received a key when we did a remote broadcast from Indy at the invitation of then-mayor William Hudnut.

Although it has been many years, the Colts lose some points for the way they abandoned Baltimore. They should have left their name and colors behind like the Browns did when they ditched Cleveland. Instead of becoming the Ravens, the old Browns should now be the Colts.

The storyline of the Saints is appealing to me. I like that they were one of the last five teams to have never reached a Super Bowl. Their dedicated fans have been waiting a long time to win a championship. It's almost like the Red Sox or Cubs winning the World Series.

I've been to New Orleans a few times for the Morning Show Boot Camp convention and absolutely loved it. I like going to the Acme Oyster House and getting on their webcam. I love the Bananas Foster at Brennan's and just about anything étouffée at just about any restaurant in the French quarter.

So who's it going to be? Do I cheer for Peyton, whose work ethic and incredible ability I respect and admire? Or do I go with the feel-good story of New Orleans? Maybe I'll think about it tomorrow morning while I'm waiting for Mass to begin at All Saints Church. Hmmm... maybe I just decided.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

bowled over

That wasn't so bad, was it? Something I have been hoping for since 2006 happened last night. The Pro Bowl filled the football void on the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

I can't be the only one who liked the change. Ratings for the game were way up and I heard on NFL Network that the highest ratings for the game were in football-crazy New Orleans, which had no players on the field. Some people, like WATE's Mark Nagi, objected to the lack of Saints and Colts players in the Pro Bowl. I wonder how many Super Bowl players skipped the Pro Bowl in past years because they were too banged up to play again so soon.

I also wonder if those who didn't like the change were expecting a real football game. The Super Bowl players weren't the only ones missing. The AFC had to go deep into their roster to find a starting quarterback. It didn't matter, the game was fun to watch and AFC quarterback Matt Schaub turned out to be the MVP. Because of the physical nature of the sport, a football all-star game is probably less intense than a baseball all-star game. Well alright, let's say less intense than a basketball all-star game. No matter, the Pro Bowl is glorified two-hand touch anyhow.

As a Redskins fan, I thought I wanted the NFC to win. Yet, I was unhappy when an Eagles quarterback connected with an Eagles receiver for a touchdown. When a Cowboys quarterback was intercepted, ending any hope of an NFC comeback, I was pleasantly amused.

My gripe is that the NFL scheduled the game opposite the Grammy Awards. I would have preferred to watch the Pro Bowl before the Grammys. If I still lived on the West Coast, I guess I could have done so. However tape-delayed award shows are another pet peeve of mine. Some of us equate major award shows with major sporting events. The audiences for the Grammys and the Pro Bowl are not mutually exclusive. The Grammy ratings showed an increase too.

The 2011 Pro Bowl will be played in Hawaii, which probably means another evening start in the Eastern time zone. Let's hope that the higher ratings last night keep the pre-Super Bowl void filled with football. I still like my idea for a Consolation Bowl between the teams that lose the conference championship games. Anyone else?

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Friday, January 08, 2010

nominee for best Grammy alternative

One of the NFC playoff games this weekend has made me feel conflicted. I come from a family of New York Football Giants fans. I got more interested in football after moving to the D.C. area and meeting several of the Washington Redskins. I married into a family of Redskins fan and before long, I had converted.

When the dreaded Dallas Cowboys play the despised Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night, I will be hoping that somehow they will both lose and both be eliminated from the postseason. Obviously that can't happen and one team will survive to play again on the 16th or 17th. So I am faced with a question: which team do I hate more? As a Redskins fan, I should say the Cowboys. Yet my roots have stirred a deeper dislike for the stinking Eagles.

The weeks leading up to the Super Bowl are usually more fun than the big game itself. I will try to watch as much of the four games this weekend and next as I can. The conference championship games on January 24th are must-see TV for me. This year, the league has finally done something to alleviate the boredom of the Sunday following the championship round.

Instead of having no football to watch a week before the Super Bowl, the NFL decided to try playing the Pro Bowl that day. This is something I have been hoping for since 2006. My son and wife both said, "what about the players in the Super Bowl?" My response is "who needs them?" In past years many of the Super Bowl players skip the Pro Bowl anyway. Others only play for one or two series of downs. Excusing those few players from the Pro Bowl will have no major effect on my enjoyment of the game. I hope the experiment works.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

pickin' and grinnin'

The national Super Bowl commercials get all the glory but it was a local ad that got my attention. A newly signed on radio station bought time on the local CBS affiliate yesterday. Their ad ran a couple of times during both the pregame and postgame shows. I also saw it once either during the game or during halftime. The new radio station borrowed a page from the negative campaign commercials we see before every election. The ads attack the incumbent country music station, which gets huge ratings that seem inexplicable to the casual observer.

In case you don't know, I work for a radio station that would stand to benefit if the top rated country station were knocked down a peg or two. However I'm not so sure that their new competitor will land a punch. The new station is attacking what I think are the big station's strengths, not weaknesses. The TV commercial says:
If you like the same 20 songs over and over, do not listen to 96.7 FM. Merle has more country music and we play it all. If you like jibber jabber, commercials and sports broadcasts, do not listen to 96.7 FM. While they're talking, Merle's playing country music. While they're playing ball, Merle's playing country music. While they're bragging about how great they are, Merle's playing great country music. See for yourself tomorrow morning, listen to 96.7 Merle FM Total Country.
A graphic on the screen showed their red, white and blue logo. Across the top it said something like "we don't eat bugs," a reference to WIVK's frog mascot.

It's actually the jibber jabber and sports broadcasts that make WIVK unique. Anybody can play LCD country music but not anybody can broadcast the Vols, Paul Harvey and the local news. Every time a snowflake or raindrop falls in East Tennessee, listeners call WIVK to report it. The station used to have four billboards along I-40. None of them even mentioned their music. Instead each billboard promoted a different selling point of their station: news, weather, traffic and Volunteer football. They also have one thing that listeners want yet can't be bought: longevity. Maybe Merle's Super Bowl commercial is actually an attempt to goad WIVK into fixing what isn't broken.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

what's in a name?

Indianapolis Colts shirts are showing up all over Knoxville. On Friday, I saw some nice Colts sweatshirts being worn by a few of the employees at Sam's Club, where I could have bought cupcakes decorated with the Colts horseshoe atop blue and white icing. Our town doesn't have any special relationship with the Circle City. It's all about Peyton.

The News Sentinel gathered together 49 of the many local kids who were named after Peyton Manning since his days as quarterback of the Vols. Today's paper is packed full of Peyton minutiae as it has been for several days. And it's not just the newspaper. Rick Russo from WVLT is filing Peyton-centric reports from Miami. Sports collectors are hoping their Manning memorabilia will increase in value.

People with Baltimore ties still remember how the Colts abandoned them in the dark of night. Years later when Baltimore did to Cleveland what Indianapolis had done to Baltimore, somebody had the decency to insist that the team leave their name behind. Otherwise there would be Baltimore Browns instead of Baltimore Ravens. It would have been nice if Indianapolis had come up with a new name for their team and if the Colts name was made available when Baltimore got a team again. For the same reason, there really shouldn't be Cardinals in Arizona or Rams in St. Louis. The Oilers did the right thing when they became the Titans after moving from Houston to Tennessee even though the Texans didn't use the Oilers name.

There's examples in other sports too. My dad felt abandoned when the Giants left him for San Francisco. However the best case for leaving the name behind when a team moves can be summed up in two words: Utah Jazz.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

loss of momentum

It feels like there should be a football game on today. We're ready for some football but there isn't any. Bring on the Colts and the Bears! As usual the NFL has given us a feast of good playoff games only to create a famine on the Sunday before their biggest game. Of course, the best solution would be for the NFL to drop the bye week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. Since that is very unlikely to happen, a year ago I suggested that they try moving the Pro Bowl to this weekend. So what if the Super Bowl players miss the Pro Bowl, right? Here's my new suggestion for 2007: a "Consolation Bowl" played by the losers of last week's games. Who wouldn't have enjoyed seeing the Patriots and the Saints play a meaningless game to fill today's void in the NFL schedule? Or instead of it being meaningless, allow a big sponsor to pony up a huge cash prize for the winning team. Without a Super, Pro or Consolation Bowl to entertain me today, I'll have to settle for staring at the Bundt Cake Bowl I saw at Williams-Sonoma the other day:

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