Often I turn these championship games off afterwards, bleeding inside for the guys who blew it. But I don’t feel sorry for New England after all the celebrations they’ve enjoyed over the years.
How did Eagles Defensive End Chris Long not make finalist for NFL Walter Payton Man-of-the-year? The dude donated all of his game-cheques this season to charity. J.J. Watt is a great choice but I would’ve made him and Long co-winners just like they did for Eli Manning and Larry Fitzgerald last year.
2 –FRANKLIN WOULD’VE FIT BETTER WITH RIDERS: The news of Ricky Ray’s contract extension for another year with the Argos reinforces my belief that James Franklin should have waited until free agency and signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Am I the only one perplexed that Franklin left Edmonton (or at least he would have on his own if the Eskimos hadn’t traded him) because he doesn’t want to be a back-up, only to join another team where he will most certainly be a back-up?! The Argos could have saved the salary cap space to lock up James Wilder Jr. long-term and spared themselves a quarterback controversy. The Riders could have avoided overpaying for a QB who went 0-8 just a few months ago, and Franklin could have commanded a better salary himself as the clear-cut number one guy heading to training camp.
3 – ROUGHRIDERS HAVE MORE PRESSING NEEDS THAN PASS RUSH: Charleston Hughes is a nice pickup for the Riders, especially given the fact they didn’t give up anything more than some salary cap space and a glorified career 3rd-string quarterback (Vernon Adams Jr) to get him. However, I’ve heard two personnel guys from around the league say despite the impressive 11 sacks he piled up last year, it is clear that his explosiveness is on the decline. My advice to the Roughriders heading into free agency and the draft? Fix what was a very disappointing and inconsistent offensive line a year ago. Zach Collaros’s happy feet in the pocket isn’t going to improve without a better year from the hogs up front.
4 – CFL-CBA BARGAINING NOT BUSINESS-AS-USUAL: I don’t feel sorry for CFL players crying foul over some teams' refusal to let players out of their contracts early to try the NFL. A deal is a deal is a deal is a deal. I do feel sorry for CFL players that their union buckled under the pressure during the last round of collective bargaining which enabled the teams to start over-paying coaches while short-changing players. Listening to CFLPA president Jeff Keeping speak in the last few days leads me to believe the next round of collective bargaining won’t be the same as all the others. Players are mad and the union won’t be rubber-stamping any deal before 2019 without a significant increase to the salary cap. The players are the product and they are due for a raise.
5 – BETTMAN GETS TOO MUCH CREDIT: The kudos have been pouring in for Gary Bettman’s 25th anniversary as NHL Commissioner. His supporters point to the fact NHL revenues are roughly 11 times greater than what they were in February of 1993 (when he was hired). This would be impressive if the other 3 major North American professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB and NBA) hadn’t enjoyed revenue growth between 11 and 14 times what they were worth 25 years ago. That’s not to say Bettman isn’t a good commissioner or a smart guy. He is both. But can we finally acknowledge the growth of these sports leagues has had far more to do with the tech bubble of the 90’s, broadcast monetization of the 2000’s, low interest rates of the 2010’s and plain old inflation than from any of these commissioners?
6 –SENS OWNER HIGH MAINTENANCE: Speaking of the NHL, not a fan of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. To be fair, he did save the franchise from extinction when he bought them out of bankruptcy in 2003. His behavior over the past few years however, has been nothing short of appalling. Stories and a lawsuit about him mistreating his staff, wanting a downtown arena, then not wanting a downtown arena a month ago, followed by wanting a downtown arena again last week are enough to make hockey fans in the nation’s capital bleary-eyed. Are all billionaire owners this confusing? Sheesh! Here’s hoping the Sens get their new downtown palace and more importantly a new owner. Maybe one who actually lives in Ottawa and doesn’t live in another country to avoid paying his taxes like the rest of us.
7 –ENGLOT DESERVES LEGENDARY STATUS: Michelle Englot’s competitive curling career is over and while the absence of a Scotties tournament of Hearts crown denies her the same fame the late great Sandra Schmirler will always command, she is an all-star athlete in her own right. 10 Scotties appearances sprinkled over 4 decades is nothing short of remarkable. Englot is plenty worthy of induction into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Hame. And it doesn’t bother me that she finished her career with a rink from Manitoba either.
8 –SASKATCHEWAN BLUES STORY NEEDS TO BE TOLD: The crowning achievement of my broadcast career was the 2007 radio documentary about Bill Hunter’s pursuit of the St. Louis Blues for Saskatoon. It’s a fascinating story that so many of us who didn’t grow up until later know almost nothing about. A Saskatchewan media company started a film project about the idea before stalling due to a shortfall in funding. I, for one, hope this thing gets done. It might be the most interesting sports story in Saskatchewan history. Most seem to think the team would have failed eventually. I’m not so sure about that.
9 – 30 FOR 30 HITS IT OUT OF THE PARK AGAIN: I love documentaries and the newest ESPN dandy on the relationship between Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick might be their best one yet. “The Two Bills” really examines how the two men worked together from the ground up to build some of the greatest teams in NFL history. I grew up thinking Belichick was riding Parcells’ coattails all the time. Now I wonder how far Parcells would have made it without Belichick designing all of those great defenses for him.
10–BEST/WORST PART OF THE SUPER BOWL: The best part was MVP Nick Foles going from zero to hero in 18 months. The worst part was Cris Collinsworth and his whining about the Eagles touchdown catches not being wiped out when they were clearly caught. Couple that with his #almichaelsshakeyourbooty obsession and Collinsworth gets a zero from this scribe for that broadcast performance.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)