Feb 28, 2018

My biggest fight yet

Hi everyone - usually at this time of year, this blog would be filled with posts getting ready for our annual Vegas trip in March, and the ensuing diaries of the hijinks from the 5 day trip.

However, as many of you know, there won't be a Vegas trip in March this year as I have encountered some health issues.

Again, many of you know this - but for some that have not heard, I was having some stomach issues in December and January where it was painful to eat. I went to a GI specialist for an endoscopy on January 18 - and the results were completely shocking - I had stomach cancer. More tests showed that the cancer had spread to lymph nodes and the liver.

I have started chemo on Feb 5 - don't want to bore everyone with the details here - and now doing the second round this week. The first round went pretty bad with respect to the side effects; we think we have adjusted the medicine somewhat to alleviate those side effects. It seems to be working better so far.

I want to thank many of you for your support, references, contacts for second/third opinions, visits and thoughts during this time. Janice and I have set up a Caring Bridge site that we will use for frequent updates; I encourage all of you to join the site to keep updated on my fight; here's the website:

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ericsfight/

We'll beat this and soon we can get back to Vegas stories, daffy NFL picks and maybe a repeat performance in the 2018 SuperContest. Thanks again to all of you that have helped tremendously so far. 

And on a light hearted note - here's my best friend in the beverage aisle; since I have been able to eat again I have had a craving for Hawaiian Punch. I've been living off of this for 2 weeks now...so good!




Dec 31, 2017

NFL Week 17: Don Criqui, Bob Trumpy

And for our finale, the announcing duo in focus this week is ...Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy! For any Browns fan over the age of, oh, 40, these two were the TV voice of the Browns in the 80s. Browns games were always on NBC; Dick Enberg (the #1 announcer for NBC) was rarely assigned to Browns games, and Charlie Jones only did West Coast games. So we always seemed to get the #2 team for NBC in the mid- and late- 80s.... and that was Criqui and Trumpy.

Criqui and Trumpy worked together for 5-6 years, and they were a classic team. Both midwesterners (Criqui is a native of Buffalo, and I count that as the midwest; Trumpy was born in Illinois and played for the Bengals.

Let's start with Criqui: it's just amazing how many big moments Criqui announced in his career. His NFL TV broadcasting career spanned 47 seasons....47!!!!! 1967-2013. That's a record that I hope never gets broken, especially not by Nantz.

Some of the big moments that were covered by Don's voice:

1970:  Tom Dempsey's 63 yard field goal for the Saints (for you young un's, this was a record that stood unmatched for 40+ years):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD9giDCLXFE

1981: Another NCAA tournament clip! Criqui has been around so long, he has clips from the NCAA tournament when he was with NBC! This is the end of one of the biggest upsets in history, St. Joe's over DePaul---- and where was this played? Only in the greatest NCAA tournament venue ever created.....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKquUz-3Jq0

(Go to the 1:32:00 mark for the end)
(and how about the crazy SportsWorld promo at around 1:32:30....have to watch this....All-Ireland Hurling championships!)

And he was the voice of the 1984 Orange Bowl - a classic:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoNs0mdKAO8

(I have to say that Criqui's signature lines in those last two game... "Look at this! LOOK AT THIS!" needed a little work).

Trumpy was a 10 year tight end for the Bengals for most of the 1970s; he quickly moved into broadcasting, hosting a local sports show on 700 WLW in Cincinnati ("heard in 38 states and most of Canada!") before going to NBC full time. He worked NFL, obviously, but also did Olympic coverage and commentary for the PGA tour!

I can't find any clips of Trumpy doing PGA work; he was a tower announcer for 6 years for NBC. Amazing. This means his last work with NBC in 1996 would be calling one of the most forgettable Opens in history - the Steve Jones win. That was NBC's first US Open, I think. Here's the recap- sorry, no Trumpy sightings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtYoRV8NQKk

As Browns fans, we were convinced Trumpy hated us. We looked for any sign of bias available with his color commentating. How dare you critique Bernie's delivery! You can't second-guess Lindy Infante!!! You are a moron! Those are words I yelled frequently in the late 80s, and I think my Dad did too. But looking back, he was as unbiased as could be.

Trumpy did move into the #1 color position for NBC with Enberg in the mid 90s, doing a couple of Super Bowls for NBC. He's like fine wine - gets better as the time goes by.

Now, some classic Browns clips with these two:

1: 1986 - Key Browns/Bengals matchup in Week 14. Bring back this theme music, NBC!
(And as Layup mentioned when he saw this clip - how did we allow live tigers in cages on football fields?)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zmj-WE1Abss&t=1s

2. In my mind, the greatest NFL playoff game ever. Period. Browns-Jets, Jan 1987. Thank you Mark Gastineau.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO_vBN2oMak&t=78s

3. You thought today's refs are bad? How about the end of the Browns-Oilers wild card game in Jan, 1989? How many onside kicks is a team allowed? We pick it up with the Browns kicking off, down 24-23, with :31 left....I think this game changed the rules for on-side kicks in the NFL.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQwJFQ3iyPg&t=462s

Speaking of onside kicks - the last NFL game Criqui ever did was the robbery in New England - New England 27, Cleveland 26, in late 2013. We were up 12 with 1:15 left and lost.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH347DQ0_r0


On to the games:

Det 27, GB 24. Hundley can't let his career end with that dud at home vs. Minnesota .He's playing for reputation, and how motivated are the Lions?

Ind 27, Hou 10. Who is the QB for the Texans? And I think Brissett is decent enough to score in the home finale for the Colts.

Min 26, Chi 13. The VIkes will call off the dogs at halftime against the overmatched Bears.

NE 30, NYJ 13. Was thinking that the Jets will keep this close, but I don't think Belicheck will let the Jets get any confidence going into next year with a close game here.

Was 20, NYG 13. How motivated are either of these teams? Cousins still looks like he has something to play for, and the Giants D has checked out.

Dal 23, Phi 20.  What a mess both of these teams are. Foles looked awful on Monday - and the Cowboys looked even worse.

Atl 28, Car 20.  I'm not convince Carolina has it all figured out just yet, and the Falcons will find some magic at home to make the playoffs.

Bal 24, Cin 13. The key to handicapping Ravens games: how many TDs will the defense score? If the answer is zero, then the Ravens won't cover.

Mia 24, Buf 20. Not at a point where I can trust the Bills on the road just yet. But am I really confident in Cutler?

NO 20, TB 14. Still not sold with the Saints on the road. And I continue to believe TB already played their best game 2 weeks ago vs. Atlanta.

Ten 24, Jax 16.  I just can't see the Jags being motivated here; they will see running, running and more running from the Titans - and in the cold, how long will the Jags fight?

Den 19, KC 16. Mahomes! Lynch! Ugh. Could not care less.

SF 27, LAR 24. Just don't see McVay as the type of coach to willing lay down vs. a division opponent. I know Jimmy G is a popular pick here....

LAC 30, Oak 20. Lots of points expected here, especially with the Raiders' awful defense.

Sea 31, Az 17. Arizona is awful - having been involved in their last 5 games (I think). Seattle is desperate and this game should be full of trick plays on both sides.

Best bets: 15 of them. Last week: 8-7; overall: 123-94-6
GB +6.5
GB/Det over 44
Ind -3.5
Was -3
Was/NYG under 40
Dal/Phi over 40
Atl -3.5
Mia +2.5
NO/TB under 49
Ten -3
SF/LAR over 44
LAC -7
Oak/LAC over 42.5
Sea -8.5
Az/Sea over 38.5

Supercontest: Last week: 3-2; overall: 50-27-3
GB +6.5
Ind -3.5
Cle +11 (stale line; had to do it)
Atl -3.5
Ten -3

Dec 28, 2017

NFL Week 17 Anagram

Here is your final anagram for the season! A grand finale!

Q: NY Bimbo - DUI. Corrupt?

This could be something written in the transcript in an Albany court case, asking if the defendant  who was charged with intoxication is trying to bribe the police. However, rearrange these letters to form what broadcasting duo that are forever linked?

(Yes, I know they are both not dead)

Your hint: It's a duo! But if you need more, just think...the Browns and the 80s.....


Dec 24, 2017

NFL Week 16: Gus Johnson

This week's announcer in focus: Gus Johnson!

Boy, I think the NFL really needs to get Gus Johnson back into the fold. How do we convince FOX that Gus should be freed from NCAA duties and thrown back into doing the NFL for Fox full time? I mean, have you listened to Kenny Albert? I have...he's awful. Kenny can't even tell you the correct down or distance half the time. Gus is 10x better than that.

Anyway - some history on Gus; he grew up in Detroit as a three-star athlete for his high school; he ended up going to Howard University in DC with a political science degree - but then quickly went into broadcasting.

His first listed job was being the host for Black College Sports Today on ESPN in 1991 - and during the early 90s, he moved around a few times in the south before ending up on Channel 5 in Washington for the weekend sports anchor gig. In 94, he started doing some play by play for the Knicks on both radio and TV. CBS signed him in 1995.

The next year, in 1996, some absolutely genius at CBS heard Gus and said "you know what? You would be great to represent the passion and energy of the NCAA tournament. Why don't you become our play by play announcer for our #8 team?". And there started the legend of Gus Johnson.

His first session broadcasting the NCAA - I remember this so clearly - was the Friday session for the 1st and 2nd round games in Indianapolis. The last game of the day was defending champion UCLA against Princeton in a 4-13 game. Any fan of the tournament over 40 years old can recite the score of that game....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYd9Tqiy-z8

That was his first year! Wow. Where do you go from there? Well, only to be the voice of some of the most dramatic moments of the early rounds of the tournament. Nantz and Packer can have their stay in Charlotte for the Duke/UNC invitational every year in round 1 and 2; let's get real announcers to Dayton/Boise/Oklahoma City/Worcester for real action and drama.

Because I love to waste your time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbFNFHsNo3w   (This will gave Mike A pains)

The Gonzaga run fueled by Gus, with Wiz's favorite Dan Bonner on the color:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez8AgrNKtwQ
The slipper still fits!

This collapse, which Layup heard the screaming from the sportsbook in his room 7 floors up:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tICZv1wh53c
(start at the 3:30 mark if you want)

And then of course, this game....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt0VUSyVIr4

Here's the best of:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B08Km6sV3pk&t=5s

Ugh, where do I go from there? He was at CBS until 2011, where there was a contract dispute and as a result, he left CBS for FOX. At FOX, they tried to make him a soccer announcer. Does it work?  I will have to defer to the soccer fans that read this blog...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk5e8xRkT1g

Yes, he does some NCAA football games and basketball on FS1, but it's just not the same. It's not.
Hey CBS - if you are able to get Raftery freed up from Fox to do NCAA tournament games, you can do the same for Gus. Cmon. We don't need Spero doing a 5-12 game in March. Can you imagine if Gus did the Purdue - Little Rock game last year?

So Gus has about 10-15 years of NFL games under his belt for CBS; surprisingly, there's little footage of him doing Browns game. The two memorable ones: First, a very important game in 2007 (the magical season) when the Browns were at home playing the Bills in a blizzard. All I can find are the local calls for this game, but this was a very important 8-0 win for the Browns to keep their hopes alive. Gus Johnson was on the national call that I watched with Layup in a bar in LA.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lV2ZzY_ph0&t=35s

But the main legacy of Gus for Cleveland was a 2001 game vs. Jacksonville. Do I have to go through the details here? Third year back for the Browns, we were 7-7, driving for the winning touchdown..... we complete a 4th down pass, then spike the ball on 1st down....and then Terry McAulay decides to review the 4th down pass.....pandemonium ensues.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-teMkx2vgA&list=PL393z5zOOKHQ1tw-o0LYKMAH6VwYfuCM-

I still hate McAulay.

On to the games this week:

Car 27, TB 13. Carolina is still motivated and the Bucs' Super Bowl was last week, Monday night at home. Can't see the effort from Tampa here, amid reports of issues in the locker room.

Det 31, Cin 24.  How can you trust the Bengals? I think both teams throw the playbook out and heave the ball downfield hoping for PI penalties.

KC 27, Mia 16. Not thinking that Cutler can keep this one that close on the road against a KC team that is slowly getting better.

NE 27, Buf 17. How hard do the Patriots want to play? Buffalo just doesn't have the weapons to keep up.

NO 30, Atl 17. The Saints are still pissed after losing that Thursday night game 2 weeks ago; they shot themselves in the foot, mostly. The Saints run game will have a field day.

LAC 23, NYJ 20. I think the Jets have one more full-effort game in them, against a team that I'm not convinced is well coached.

LAR 24, Ten 23. The Rams run D is average, at best, and the Titans will take advantage. However, the Titans pass D is horrific - and Goff should find all sorts of open receivers.

Was 23, Den 16. Let's stop crowing about the Broncos. They beat the Jets at home (without McCown) and the Colts. Was still has a good D.

Jax 23, SF 16. I don't think Jimmy G has seen a pass D like Jacksonville just yet. Let's calm down a bit before we anoint Garrapolo.

Az 27, NYG 17. Like TB above, the Giants had their Super Bowl for 2 weeks at home vs. Dallas and Philly. Now on the road? Against a good Arizona D? How do they score?

Dal 27, Sea 24. Seems obvious for the Cowboys here - but it's Dallas. You never lay points with the Cowboys.

Pit 24, Hou 23. Pit, on the road, against an inferior opponent. Haven't we seen this movie several times this year?

Phi 27, Oak 10. The Eagles still need to play hard to get Foles confidence - and the D needs to put on a good performance. And, again, the Raiders' Super Bowl was last week vs. Dallas.

Best bets this week: 15 of them. Last week: 10-3-2; overall: 115-87-6
Car -10
TB/Car under 46.5
Det -3
Det/Cin over 44.5
NO -5.5
Atl/NO under 52.5
NYJ +6.5
Ten +6
Was -3
Jax -4
Az -3
NYG/Az over 39
Hou +9
Phi -9
Oak/Phi under 47

Supercontest picks: Last week: 3-1-1; overall: 47-25-3
Car -10
NO -5.5
Az -3.5
Hou +9
Phi -8.5









Dec 23, 2017

NFL Week 16 Anagram

Here's our anagram for the Week 16 announcer:

Hug Jon's Son!

This is what I will do when I see Mr. Schmitt's youngest son, as we share the greatest birthday on earth (along with Rod Stewart) - but rearrange these letters to form the name of what announcer?

Your hint: It's the Christmas season, so I will make it easy. Miller Lite bottles.


Dec 17, 2017

NFL Week 15: Jim Nantz

This week's announcer in focus: our good friend Jim Nantz!
 
Not much introduction for Nantz is really needed, is it? Nantz was born in Charlotte (actually, that explains a lot about his bias in the NCAA tournament) , lived in New Orleans and ended up in high school in New Jersey. He went to college at the University of Houston - majoring in broadcasting and playing on the golf team. Who was on the golf team with him those years? Freddie Couples; Couples and Nantz were roommates for most of his college career. Nantz recounted a time in college when he and Couples were sitting around one day; Couples said he was going to win the Masters in the future, and Nantz pipes in: "And I'll be there to announce your win!". So it was clear early on what Nantz's goals were.

(Note: Blaine McCallister - another PGA Tour member in the 80s and 90s - was also on that team).

His first jobs out of school were working Houston and Salt Lake as a sports broadcaster; Nantz joined CBS in 1985 and almost immediately went to the forefront of CBS Sports. I won't recount his whole history at CBS - we all know it - but it's amazing how quickly he became the face of CBS in the late 80s. he started with golf and NCAA basketball/football; he was leading NCAA studio shows in his 2nd year and then was in the 18th tower for CBS's golf towers in 1989. He was doing NFL games in the early 90's, went to host NFL Today when CBS re-gained the NFL package and then went back into the announcing booth in 2004 and became the #1 announcer then. We'll get to the NFL in a second....

....but first, some trips down memory lane. Here is our hero doing a promo for the '86 Masters - which would be his first Masters broadcast. Nantz lays out the importance of Amen corner and recaps the disaster that befell Curtis Strange in '85.....handing the green jacket to Bernhard Langer.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcObgJ1UMeo

(Note 1: If Strange doesn't falter, Langer doesn't get on the cover of Golf Digest in late '85....and a young golfer in Maryland who was struggling with his putting would not read an article on how cross-handed putting helped Langer.......yes, Langer was the inspiration for me to go cross-handed, and that was 32 years ago....32 years!)

(Note 2: I want that all-red outfit that Langer wore. How in the world did that go with the green jacket?)

So they put Nantz in the 16th tower in 1986....and, the rest, they say, is history. Nantz delivered probably the greatest setup to a historical shot ever - ever!!!! - and this clip still gives me goose bumps. He knew Nicklaus's history to perfection, set up Weiskopf, and the timing was perfect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqLiTrTiP0E

(note 3: How in the hell can Weiskopf joke about losing the Masters to Jack? That had to have been painful.....what a professional)

Since he led studio shows for NCAA, he was the first face we saw at 6:00 pm on the second Sunday of March for the selection show! Here's one from the archives - the 1987 show, with our gambling hero Brent and the old curmudgeon, Billy Packer, at his side.

I loved those 12' foot boards from "Kansas City" - before computers, this is how they really formed the bracket, right? Moving around pre-printed magnet labels of teams around the board to create the perfect bracket and the perfect path for Dean Smith and North Carolina? *

(* - sorry, my Maryland fandom is showing. They always got easy paths to the final four in the 80s. Pure fixing.....)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUIavVHt_qU

And one more for history - Nantz as the studio host for the last Olympics not televised by NBC...the 1998 Nagano Olympics, complete with the smarmy, drug-induced introduction of a flower growing in snow...It's a huge upset that we did not hear "Hello Friends...."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4_1ey4MGu8

What do I think about Nantz as an NFL announcer? I'm sorry to say, not much. He clearly favors the big teams and I think he's very unemotional. Here's exhibit A - and this has stuck with me for a while. Cleveland-Pittsburgh, 2007. Late November game, winner leads the division. Game at Heinz field. The Steelers just scored to go back ahead (18 unanswered! Nantz for sure points this out). And then the kickoff to the Browns...

Just imagine if Gus Johnson made this call. Ian Eagle.....Sam Rosen.....anyone but Nantz.
He made this sound like a routine 3rd down conversion....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q7w28cfSJ0

Cmon, be just a little excited....

And - found this beauty - Jeff Garcia with an epic performance against the Cowboys in 2004. This game was memorable for us as we scored late to get within one score (with :09 left, I think); then went for the on-side kick; and on the kick, Winslow injured his leg and was out for the year....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6uHaiJpTrE&t=147s

On to the games:

Buf 23, Mia 16. There has to be a letdown after the emotional Monday win for the Dolphins..

Car 23, GB 20. Just have no feel for this for Rodgers' first game. If Green Bay wins this and makes the playoffs, those Packers fans owe us Browns fans big time.

Jax 24, Hou 20. Talk about a letdown - can't imagine the Jags will play at the same level they did vs. Seattle. And Houston and Yates are motivated; Yatets is trying to show what he can do for next year.

Min 27, Cin 13. Cincy played 3 at home in a row, with the 2nd one being the Steelers collapse. Now they go on the road against a team off a loss, trying to gain top seed?

NO 26, NYJ 13. Can't see the Saints playing with much urgency here; they will do what they can to win and get out.

Phi 24, NYG 23. Just look at what the Eagles have been through! At Seattle, at the Rams - huge emotional games. Now 3rd road game in a row, without Wentz, and this is the Giants' Super Bowl.

Was 27, Az 16. Washington has too much pride to lay down at home, and I don't trust Gabbert on the road.

Sea 30, LAR 28. We all know the drill by now. Seattle falls behind, then passes for 532 yards in the 4th quarter to make it a one-score game. They seem to have the Rams' number.

NE 31, Pit 23. I'm convinced Belicheck had the Pats play possum last week, and the Steelers' pass D is awful now.

SF 24, Ten 17. Yes, ok, I'll ride the Jimmy G bandwagon. And my cynicism of the Titans is well known.

Dal 27, Oak 20. The Cowboys will stop th Raiders enough to win here.

Atl 20, TB 17. Tampa's Super Bowl, and Atlanta struggles this year playing outdoors.

Best bets: 15 of them. Last week: 11-5; overall: 105-84-4
Buf -3
GB/Car under 47
Hou +11
Hou/Jax over 38
Min -11
NYJ/NO under 47
NYG +7.5
Phi/NYG over 40.5
Was -4
LAR/Sea over 47
NE -2.5
SF -1
Dal -3
TB +6
Atl/TB under 49

Supercontest: Last week: 5-0; overall: 44-24-2
Hou +10.5
Min -10.5
NYG +7.5
Was -4
NE -3









Dec 15, 2017

NFL Week 15 Anagram

Your anagram for week 15:

TMZ in Jan.!

With the end of the net neutrality rules per the FCC yesterday, this could be an advertising campaign by Comcast to lure customers by adding new internet access packages - but re-arrange these letters to form the name of what NFL announcer?

(see, I can be topical!)

(No, I have no idea on the details on Net Neutrailty)

Your hint - oh, hell, I'm in a good mood, let's make it easy..... Freddie Couples!


Dec 10, 2017

NFL Week 14: Spero Dedes

Your NFL Announcer in focus this week: Spero Dedes!


Spero has risen up the ranks quite quickly, as far as announcers go. In a world of Verne Lundquist and Dick Stockton, Spero could easily have 50-60 years in the announcing business if he so chose. He started early with the NBA and is now one of the staples of the CBS roster of play by play announcers. He currently is on the #6 NFL team with Adam Archuleta - so that means someone like Jay (a Patriots fan) will never see him, but Browns fans will probably have him 4-5 times a year.

He was born in 1979 in New Jersey, and at 22 started working for the New Jersey Gladiators of the Arena Football league. I didn't realize they had full time play by play announcers! Can't even imagine what channel those were televised on.

Fun fact - the Gladiators moved in 2002 to Las Vegas, and then in 2008 to Cleveland. What a connection for this blog!


Somehow, in 2005, Dedes got the break of his life by being named as the main play by play announcer for the Lakers. The Lakers! At 26! Can you even imagine being 26 and on the road with the Lakers traveling to all those cities with the team....wow.... he started working for CBS in 2009 part-time around his Lakers' duties; that's when he started appearing on random NFL games and the final #8 pairing for the NCAA tournament.

In 2011, he left the Lakers and now is the main radio voice for the Knicks. He wanted to work both NBA and become a staple on the national CBS broadcasts, and this move to New York allowed him to do that. He's still with the Knicks as they toil through their season. The one moment of notoriety - a negative one -was a slip up when calling a Jeremy Lin game. Here's Spero's radio call.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oanBaRDkTMc

Spero got reprimanded for this, but not fired; I think it was unfair that the ESPN guy got fired for this error. On both parts, it seemed completed unintentional.

Spero has been doing the NCAA tournament for a few years now - the best call I could find was in 2016 - a game that ended late (past 1 am) and it's amazing people nationally don't talk about this more. In fact, that year (2016) had some of the greatest finishes in the first two rounds - think Northern Iowa vs Texas, Northern Iowa vs. Texas A&M, and Layup's favorite - the Wisconsin/Xavier game.

I'm sure many of you forgot this game. Watch this live and try to make a decision. Then watch the replay 10 times and make a decision. It's sooooo close.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5ORb2OwkWA

Football-wise, Spero's picture has been on my basement wall for 351 days now - since he is the last play by play announcer of a Browns win! Yes, he was on the call on Dec 24, 2016 last year for the Browns' 20-17 win over the Chargers. I was in a car driving everyone up to Columbus for Christmas eve, so I did not see this live....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMEGuWcHtKY

I think it's in Spero's contract to call Browns-Chargers games. He did last week as well, and he also called a game in 2013 where the Browns won a classic, 7-6, over San Diego.

He also called the Arizona-Jacksonville game 2 weeks ago when our favorite Browns kicker from the past, Phil Dawson, hit a 57 yarder at the gun to win. Arizona was one of my picks in the Supercontest, and this caused a 2 minute dance on the patio by yours truly....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC-W5ZZ5Cww

Will Spero be on the call again Christmas eve when the Ravens visit - and maybe we can find a win this year? Only Les Moonves knows!

On to the games....

Buf 24, Ind 17. Can't imagine the motivation the Colts have here, going to cold Buffalo. Their lack of D should be the key in a Bills win.

Car 24, Min 16. A desperate Panthers team; a third road game in a r



ow for the Vikes, and I don't think the Vikes have an explosive offense to run away from the Panthers. Carolina will find a way.

Cin 23, Chi 16. Yes, the Bengals may have a letdown after the loss to the Steelers - but jees, have you seen the Bears offense?

Hou 27, SF 17. Talking about the Bears and SF- let's not go crazy over Jimmy G's win last week. The Bears had less than 40 plays. Of course the Bears D would be tired and Jimmy G would look good...

KC 30, Oak 13. I know KC sucks right now - but I'm believing in Reid to get just a half of a defensive effort. The Chiefs will move the ball vs. the Raiders, and Oak's offense is struggling too.

Det 31, TB 20. Det struggles when pressure is put on their O line - and that is exactly what Tampa does not have.

NYG 23, Dal 20. Dallas's D is awful; the Skins shot themselves in the foot last week. A re-energized Giants team with Eli will move the ball.

Az 27, Ten 20. I continue to believe that Tennessee is a fraud; they have no pass D (so Gabbert and Az should move) and their offense is all based on the run, which Az can stop.

Den 23, NYJ 19. Eight straight losses against the spread for Denver! This has to stop, right? By principle, if the Jets are favored on the road, go against them.

LAC 24, Was 17. Should be a lot of running on both sides given that each team has little run defense.

Jax 24, Sea 13. The only thing Seattle can do is pass, which is matched up against Jax #1 pass defense. The concern here is Bortles vs. the Sea defense.....

Phi 27, LAR 23. Last week, I saw that the Rams run D is vulnerable. If Philly can get the run game going, setting up play action - look out!

Pit 20, Bal 17. Back to the days of a tight 3 point game between these 2.

NE 27, Mia 13.  The only question here - how motivated is NE to score in this game? Going up against Miami, they can name their score.

Best bets: 16 of them. Last week: 6-7; overall: 94-79-4
Buf -3
Car +2.5
Hou -2.5
KC -4
Oak/KC under 48.5
Det -2.5
Det/TB over 45
NYG +3.5
Az +2.5
Ten/Az over 43
Den +1
Was/LAC under 46.5
Jax -2.5
Phi pk
Bal/Pit under 43.5
NE/Mia under 47.5

Supercontest picks: Last week: 3-2; overall: 39-24-2
Car +2.5
KC -4
Az +3
Jax -2.5
Phi +2





Dec 8, 2017

NFL Week 14 Anagram

This week's anagram of our announcer:

"Red Speedos!"

This may be what Marge Schott asked the 1985 Cincinnati baseball team to wear for their team picture - but rearrange these letters to form the name of what NFL announcer?

Your hint: Jeremy Lin!



Dec 3, 2017

NFL Week 13: Dan Hicks

Your announcer in focus this week: Dan Hicks!

Jees, I still think of Hicks as a young announcer, but he has been with NBC Sports for 25 years now. 25! And I think that he is still immune to the snobbery of NBC Sports; it hasn't rubbed off on him. Imagine how smug you could be if you worked with Bryant Gumbel, Bob Costas, and Johnny Miller for 25 years....but Dan still seems down to earth.

Dan grew up in Arizona and started as a local anchor for a Tucson TV station; he moved to Atlanta to join CNN in the late 80s. He's one of the few guys we are profiling in this series that does NOT have experience at the ESPN mother ship. (Maybe that explains why he seems so well grounded on air). While at CNN, he was working aside Vince Cellini, Nick Charles and others on "CNN Sports Tonight". Remember that? CNN was going to be a full fledged competitor to ESPN - they had some serious people doing their Sports Tonight shows, and kicked off a 24-hour sports channel in the 90s - CNNSI - but that quickly fell apart.

Hicks then went to NBC in the early 90s and got into golf, NFL and NBA. He is primarily now known as the main host / play by play lead for the NBC golf broadcasts. Yes, working aside Johnny Miller 10 weeks out of the year. I like him as a golf lead, I know other readers of the blog hate him. I think this week is as good a week as any to recall Hicks' best line from his golf coverage - his call of the 72nd hole of the 2008 US Open. Poor Rocco....he deserved a major just for his performance as being Tiger's foil in this event.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFfCpvT_MV8

(You know, 20 years from now when we are all retired and can sit back and reminisce, will we say that the 2008 US Open ranks up there as one of the 5 best golf tournaments in our life? I mean, nothing will top the 86 Masters - but is the 08 US Open 2nd best? )

Hicks had a memorable 2008 - he led the swimming coverage at the Beijing Olympics. That was the year of the incredible US comeback in the 4x100 Freestyle relay - where Jason Lezak was our anchor and overcome an impossible deficit on the last leg to nip France at the wire. France? France was a swimming power?

I can't find the video and audio of Hicks' call - here's the audio....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jW3b7469UI

As for football, Hicks started doing games for NBC right after he started in 1992. Talk about jumping into the fire! He's been doing games since; he did the Chiefs/Colts playoff game in 2014 (the incredible Luck comeback/Andy Reid choke) - game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQskgXwhKI4

He is now the lead Notre Dame football announcer, too, taking over from Tom Hammond.

The earlier Hicks calls I could find for a Browns telecast is this one, from 1992 - against the Chargers at home! 9 minutes of fun here - looking at this film is like looking at the first color movies made in the 1930s. The broadcast starts with Hicks nailing the pronunciation of one of our D-linemen, the great Pio Sangapugatele......


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4XWRf2ubJM

(and who's his color announcer on this broadcast? That's right - the great Mr. Suzy Kolber himself, Joe Namath!)

And I have to share this - here's a highlight unearthed by the author of one of the great feeds in my timeline - Scott Dryden - this is from 1995. This is the NBC Open to the NFL games and there is our hero, Dan Hicks, with the Browns' nemesis, Bob Trumpy. Look at those AFC Central standings from 1995! Banner year..... I believe this was our last win that year until the season ender at home where we took apart the stadium.

https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/934759644802764802

We all reminisce about CBS's great themes from the 80s and 90s - this was the dreck NBC gave us. The song - unmemorable. Ugh. (And I think we will be talking about Trumpy in future weeks).

Browns today are 14 point underdogs to a team playing in a soccer stadium. That pretty much represents the state of the franchise.

On to the games:

Atl 23, Min 20. I can't figure this game out. I do believe there is some home magic in the new stadium for the Falcons, and their D is getting better; can we trust Keenum or the Falcons?

Bal 24, Det 17. The Ravens are still desperate; the Lions have very little pass D so the Ravens should move the ball, and Bal's pass D should shut down Stafford.

NE 27, Buf 17. I think I have passed on better every single Patriots game this year. And - Julia Roberts best judges that decision from "Pretty Woman": "Mistake. Big Mistake".

SF 17, Chi 16. Look, I know bad football. I think the Bears are quitting on Fox and that regime is coming to an end; the Niners are still playing hard for Kyle and Jimmy G should provide a spark.

TB 30, GB 27. Tampa still has weapons in the air and should move the ball vs. the Pack's average D. Hundley will look good again against a bad Tampa D. Look for the over here.

Jax 23, Ind 13.  Watching these teams score will be a struggle. Should be at least one defensive score by the Jags here.

Mia 24, Den 17. Is it Trevor Simien this week? I just have no faith in anything Denver does anymore. Their pass D is getting worse; I think Miami will score enough here to win.

KC 23, NYJ 17. Andy Reid is too good of a coach to let this season slip away. I have to believe they find something here.

Ten 24, Hou 20. Yes, Houston has Savage - but Tennessee's pass D is awful, and Houston's pass rush should keep them close.

LAR 24, Az 20. The Cardinals have enough of a pass D to slow down the Rams, and I'm banking on Arizona's home field to keep them in the game.

Oak 27, NYG 10. Poor Geno. He just has no weapons to work with; how can he be properly evaluated as the future of the Giants?

NO 23, Car 16. Two good defenses here should keep this a close game all the way.

Phi 27, Sea 23. Seattle's pass D is awful; Philly should carve up their secondary. Seattle's home field can only take them so far.

Pit 28, Cin 17. Cincinnati just isn't very good - look at their wins..... Pittsburgh has trouble showing up for inferior opponents, but they will present vs. a divisional rival under the lights.

Best bets: 13 of them. Last week: 6-7-1; overall: 86-72-4
Min/Atl under 47.5
Bal -3
SF +3
SF/Chi under 41
TB +2.5
TB/GB over 45
Mia +2
KC -3
Hou +7
Az +7
Oak -8.5
Car/NO under 48
Pit -4.5

Supercontest picks: Last week: 3-1-1; overall: 36-22-2
Bal -2.5
SF +3
Mia +1.5
Az +7
Pit -5