Posts pertaining to the National Football League.
By Eric Nelson
February 1, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from Timberwolves nation…
•Crowd Counts: Despite winning seven of their last 10, crowds are not exactly flocking to Target Center to see the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 26 home dates the Wolves average just 13,871 fans per game – which ranks 29th out of the NBA’s 30 teams. Only Denver (13,575) draws fewer fans per game…
•Silver Lining: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in Minneapolis last week watching the Indiana-Minnesota game. Despite the Wolves attendance woes, Silver is not concerned about Minneapolis as a basketball market. “No, not at all,” Silver said. “They’re doing all the right things to continue to attach themselves to the community. Part of it is building the team and building the arena as well. They are doing everything that is necessary, so I have not a bit of concern…”
•Wow Factor: It was Silver’s first trip to Target Center since the arena’s three-phase, $150 million renovation began. Silver raved about the new circular video board that is in the venue. “It really changes the experience for the fans,” Silver said. “These high-definition, big screen video boards are unique to our league…”
•Trending Up: Silver calls Minnesota a “first class organization” and says all the “arrows are pointing in the right direction.” He believes the Wolves have the right pieces in place to have sustained success…”
•C-Town-Bound: Minnesota logged another win Monday night, defeating Orlando 111-105 in overtime at Target Center. Next up for the Timberwolves (19-29) is a Wednesday evening game at Cleveland. The NBA champion Cavaliers (32-15) are on top of the Eastern Conference and have a 21-5 home record…
•In the House: Twins 2B Brian Dozier and CF Byron Buxton were at Saturday night’s Brooklyn-Minnesota game at Target Center. Dozier and Buxton were in Minneapolis for Twinsfest…
•Girl Power: Wednesday is National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and to celebrate the Minnesota Lynx are taking 20 female athletes from St. Paul Humboldt High School to the Science Museum of Minnesota Sportsology Exhibit. Lynx stars Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen will participate in the festivities…
•Bold Bash: The Minnesota Super Bowl host committee is throwing a party Thursday night in Houston. “Bold north down South” is the theme of the evening. Super Bowl LI is Sunday in Houston and Super Bowl LII will be played in Minneapolis in 2017…
•Super Stats: According to wallethub.com, 51.7 million cases of beer will be sold on Super Bowl Sunday and 1,300 planes will land at Houston area airports during Super week. Most of those (85 percent) will be corporate jets…
•Big-Game Brent: Another legendary sports broadcaster is retiring. ESPN’s Brent Musberger is leaving after a fabulous career in the booth, the studio and the sideline. Musberger was a multi-talented guy who brought energy and passion to the broadcasts, and is one of the all-time greats. Musberger’s staple was the way he used to open up the old NFL Today shows on CBS by saying, “You are looking live at a sold out Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, MN…”
•Fab Four: Musberger’s retirement comes just months after three other icons left the booth. In 2016 Vin Scully, Dick Enberg and Verne Lundquist called it quits too. The foursome leaves a huge void. The airwaves will never be the same…
By Larry Fitzgerald
January 27, 2017
When things don’t go your way you simply hope for the best. The Arizona Cardinals were pre-season 8-1 favorites to reach Super Bowl LI. So were the Green Bay Packers after winning eight in a row. Sunday the Falcons sent the Packers home 44-21.
Arizona started the season at home against another pre-season 8-1 Super Bowl pick, the New England Patriots. The Patriots did not have the great Tom Brady, who was out serving a four-game suspension. No problem: Patriots 23-Cardinals 21.
What a difference a game makes, right? The Cardinals finished 7-8-1 and missed the playoffs in what could be Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.’s final season. Fitzgerald was selected to his 10th career Pro Bowl this week in Orlando. Only Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice among receivers has been selected to more — 13.
Fitzgerald is third all-time in receptions behind only Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez. In fact, he has more receptions in his first 201 games — 1,125 — than any other player in NFL history. Fitzgerald has 14,389 yards receiving, which is ninth all-time, and has 104 career touchdown receptions, which is eighth all-time.
Fitzgerald also led the NFL in receptions in 2016 with 107. Sunday Fitzgerald, along with Eli Manning of New York and Greg Olson of Carolina, was named a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the year. This is the second time in his career (first in 2012) he has been named a finalist. The winner will be announced at NFL Honors on FOX during Super Bowl week on Saturday, February 4 in Houston, Texas.
The award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. Fitzgerald has already received $10,000 provided by Nationwide for being named the Arizona Cardinals/Walter Payton Man of the Year. He will receive a $50,000 donation to the charity of his choice and an additional $50,000 donation in his name to implement the Character Playbook program in Arizona.
Through two foundations — the Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. First Down Fund, which he started, and the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, which was founded in 2003 by his father, Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. — Larry has helped thousands across the country by providing funds for positive activities for kids.
Fitzgerald has done charity work around the globe with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, all over Africa, and with Oxfam America in Ethiopia. He has been honored for furthering awareness for breast cancer research and for his longtime support of men and women serving the Armed Forces.
The overall winner of the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year” award will receive a $500,000 donation to the charity of his choice and a $500,000 donation to expand Character Playbook across all NFL markets. Fitzgerald and family will be in Minneapolis on Friday, April 7 for the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
By Eric Nelson
January 24, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Minneapple…
•Robert’s Revenge: The matchup for Super Bowl LI is now set. Atlanta and New England will play for all the marbles at NRG Stadium in Houston on February 5. If the Patriots win, millions of viewers around the globe will be treated to a potentially awkward moment when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell presents the Lombardi Trophy to New England owner Robert Kraft. Because of Deflategate, there once was a Grand Canyon-like rift between Goodell and Kraft. Apparently they have patched things up, but this could be interesting…
•Famous Feuds: Kraft was not happy when star QB Tom Brady received a four-game Deflategate suspension at the start of the season. If circumstances force Goodell and Kraft to share the post-game stage, it could create the most Super tension since Super Bowl XV, when former Commissioner Pete Rozelle gave the Lombardi Trophy to Oakland owner Al Davis. Rozelle and Davis were in the middle of a bitter battle, as Davis was trying to move the Raiders to Los Angeles against Rozelle and the NFL’s wishes…
•Moot Point: Of course, this could be much ado about nothing. Goodell and Kraft have been chummy before and might be again. If the Falcons win this is a complete non-story, because Goodell will be handing the trophy to Arthur Blank…
•Icy Forecast: The Super Bowl weather conditions in Houston include plenty of ice. The moniker for Atlanta QB Matt Ryan is Matty Ice and the public demeanor of New England HC Bill Belichick is downright icy. If Belichick can come up with a defensive scheme to melt Matty Ice, then the Patriots have a good chance to win their fifth Super Bowl…
•Return Trip: This will be New England’s ninth trip to the Super Bowl (an NFL record) and the second time the Patriots have played in Houston. New England won Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina 32-29, on a 41-yard field goal field goal by Adam Vinatieri with four seconds to play. That was the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction game…
•Breakout Performance: A perfect headline for the AFC title game is, Hogan’s a hero in Patriot’s convincing win. WR Chris Hogan had nine receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns as New England pummeled Pittsburgh 36-17 in Foxboro, MA. Hogan is in his fourth season and played at Monmouth college in NJ…
•Typical Game: Atlanta WR Julio Jones had the exact same receiving stats as Hogan (nine catches, 180 yards, two TD’s) in the Falcons 44-21 crushing of Green Bay in the NFC Championship game. Hogan is an obscure talent who is just starting to blossom, while Jones is one of the top wideouts in the NFL who puts up cartoon-like numbers on a weekly basis…
•January Tradition: Twinsfest is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Target Field. The annual winter event features, behind-the-scene activities, interactive games, memorabilia and appearances by 60 current, former or future Minnesota players…
•Playoffs?: It may seem preposterous to even mention the word playoffs when a team is 16-28, but that’s the current reality for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves have won five of their last seven and are just 2 1/2 games behind Denver for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Minnesota is part of an eight-team scrum battling for the final post-season spot. Even the LA Lakers (16-32 and last in the West) are only 4 1/2 games back of the Nuggets…
•Weekly Honors: UM-Duluth freshman F Riley Tufte is the NCHC offensive player of the week, while fellow Bulldog Willie Raskob is the defenseman of the week, Western Michigan freshman G Ben Blacker is the goaltender of the week…
•Crane Count: According to the Seattle Times, Seattle is the crane capital of the US. The Emerald City skyline had 62 visible cranes at the end of 2016, the most in the country. Chicago is second with 56 cranes and Los Angeles is third with 29. Ironically the old television sitcom Fraiser, starring Kelsey Grammar as Frasier Crane; took place in Seattle…
We Both Like Packers and Pats
By The Coach and Dr. Football
It was eight weeks ago when we declared our prediction for the 2016-17 Super Bowl – the Green Bay Packers against the New England Patriots.
No sense changing our minds now.
There seemed no reason to believe that Aaron Rodgers was not going “to run the table,” and we knew from the moment Tom Brady returned from that insane “Deflategate” suspension (Yes, I will stand by my suggestion that at its worst, it was no more than a 10-yard penalty), that he wouldn’t run rampant through the NFL.
Both scanarios have come to pass and this Sunday, neither The Coach nor Dr. Football can see it going any other way. The Packers and Patriots are on a collision course and while we understand that Atlanta has home field advantage, it’s just not changing anyone’s mind.
Last week, Dr. Football went a very impressive 4-0 (172-92) straight up and 4-0 (140-124) against the spread while The Coach took a flyer on three upsets and failed. The Coach went 1-3 straight up (175-89) and 1-3 (139-125) against the spread. This week, we agree and we stick our commitment – Pats-Packers/Rodgers-Brady in the Super Bowl.
Let’s take a closer look:
SUNDAY AFTERNOON 2:05 p.m. Fox
Green Bay Packers (12-6) vs. Atlanta Falcons (12-5)
Line – Falcons by 5
After being burned a few weeks back, we’re not ready to get off the Green Bay bandwagon. They proved they can win on the road and they proved they can win indoors too.
Dr. Football: Take the Packers in an upset.
The Coach: Take the Packers.
SUNDAY EVENING 5:40 p.m. CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers (13-5) vs. New England Patriots (15-2)
Line – Patriots by 5.5
Despite how strong the Steelers have become this season, this is Tom Brady’s year. We can’t wait to see the idiot commissioner’s face in Houston in a few weeks.
Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.
The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.