Welcome to the "Original" Dynasty Rankings Fantasy Football Blog

This blog was born out of a Dynasty Rankings thread originally begun in October, 2006 at the Footballguys.com message boards. The rankings in that thread and the ensuing wall-to-wall discussion of player values and dynasty league strategy took on a life of its own at over 275 pages and 700,000 page views. The result is what you see in the sidebar under "Updated Positional Rankings": a comprehensive ranking of dynasty league fantasy football players by position on a tiered, weighted scale. In the tradition of the original footballguys.com Dynasty Rankings thread, intelligent debate is welcome and encouraged.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 31, 2008: Bill Murray vs. Chevy Chase

From James A. Miller and Tom Shales' 2003 Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests.

Bill Murray: I got in a fight with Chevy the night he came back to host. That was because I was the new guy, and it was sort of like it was my job to do that. It would have been too petty for someone else to do it. It's almost like I was goaded into that. You know, I think everybody was hoping for it. I did sense that. I think they resented Chevy for leaving, for one thing. They resented him for taking a big piece of the success and leaving and making his own career go. Everybody else was from the improvisational world, where you didn't make it about you. You were an ensemble, you were a company. So when he left, there was resentment about that. It was a shock. . . .

When you become famous, you've got like a year or two where you act like a real asshole. You can't help yourself. It happens to everybody. You've got like two years to pull it together -- or it's permanent.

John Landis: I've only been to SNL three times, and one time I was there, Chevy and Billy were having a huge screaming fight in the hallway, and Michael O'Donoghue and Tom Davis were holding them back, and John and Danny jumped in because Chevy and Billy were really going to come to blows. I mean, it was a huge argument. And the thing I remember about Bill Murray -- I don't know Bill Murray, but he's screaming, you know, foaming at the mouth, "Fucking Chevy," and in anger he says, "Medium talent!" And I thought, "Ooh boy, that's funny. In anger he says 'medium talent,'" That really impressed me. I went, "So, Bill Murray -- wow, who is that guy?"

Laraine Newman: It seems like there was a tension between Chevy and Billy all along during the week. I don't know why. I don't know if Chevy provoked it or not. But it culminated with Billy saying to Chevy, "Why don't you fuck your wife once in a while?"

And I don't even remember who threw the first punch, Billy or Chevy. But it was ugly. I'd never seen guys fighting like that, let alone people I knew.

Tags: Live from New York, Saturday Night Live, Tom Shales

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 30, 2008: A Demarcation Point

From James A. Miller and Tom Shales' 2003 Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests.

Alan Zweibel: "John [Belushi] was on the cover of Newsweek by himself when Animal House came out, and there wasn't anyone from the rest of the cast there with him. I think if there was a demarcation point, as far as I was concerned, that may have been it. Things changed. All of a sudden there was a world that was dangling temptations. John's a star now by himself, John's getting a million dollars or whatever it was, by himself. Gilda [Radner] was given a one-woman show on Broadway. Billy [Murray] did Meatballs. John did Goin' South, and he and Danny [Akroyd] did the Blues Brothers movie.

"And I think those last few years that I was there, one of Lorne's [Michaels] greatest tasks was to keep everybody together. So it wasn't just, 'Let's put on a fun show,' it was, 'Let's keep this together.' And what happened was, there was a competition. There were studio executives starting to hang out in 8H during blocking asking, 'Who wrote that sketch?' They were looking for sitcom writers or movie writers."

Tags: Live from New York, Saturday Night Live, Tom Shales

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Full Contact: Playoff Picture

Final Regular Season Standings:

1. Red Storm 12-5, 1029 / 31.19
2. Backyard All-Stars 11-6, 937 / 28.30
3. Warriors 11-6, 776 / 24.52
4. Slashers 10-7, 791 / 23.58
5. Choda Soda 10-7, 770 / 24.25
6. Underpaid Action Heros 9-8, 879 / 24.15

7. Openacanofwhoopass 9-8, 787 / 23.44
8. Gator Nation 8-9, 811 / 21.68
9. Aurora Casket Co. 7-10, 744 / 20.46
10. Tampa Red Palms 6-11, 698 / 17.50
11. Boppers 5-12, 736 / 16.69
12. Chem Coach 4-13, 632 / 13.97



#1 Seed: RED STORM [+18]

QB: Peyton Manning, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego

RB: DeAngelo Williams, CAR - No. 2
RB: Brandon Jacobs, NYG - No. 1
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson, SD - No. 4 vs. Indy
RB: Darren Sproles, SD - No. 4 vs. Indy
RB: Jerious Norwood, ATL - No. 5 @ Arizona

WR: Derrick Mason, BAL - No. 6 @ Miami
WR: Roddy White, ATL - No. 5 @ Arizona
WR: Marvin Harrison, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego
TE: L.J. Smith, PHI - No. 6 @ Minnesota
TE: Alge Crumpler, TEN - No. 1

K: David Akers, PHI - No. 6 @ Minnesota

D: Ravens, BAL - No. 6 @ Miami


QB: Kurt Warner, ARI - No. 4 vs. Atlanta

RB: Brian Westbrook, PHI - No. 6 @ Minnesota
RB: Chris Johnson, TEN - No. 1
RB: Mewelde Moore, PIT - No. 2

WR: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI - No. 4 vs. Atlana
WR: Hines Ward, PIT - No. 2
TE: Todd Heap, BAL - No. 6 @ Miami
WR: Mark Clayton, BAL - No. 6 @ Miami
TE: Brent Celek, PHI - No. 6 @ Minnesota
TE: Jeff King, CAR - No. 2
WR: D.J. Hackett, CAR - No. 2

K: John Carney, NYG - No. 1
K: Neil Rackers, ARI - No. 4 vs. Atlanta

D: Eagles, PHI - No. 6 @ Minnesota
D: Panthers, CAR - No. 2

#3 Seed: WARRIORS [+12]

QB: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - No. 2
QB: Byron Leftwich, PIT - No. 2
QB: Tarvaris Jackson, MIN - No. 4 vs. Philly

RB: Willis McGahee, BAL - No. 6 @ Miami

TE: Heath Miller, PIT - No. 2
WR: Santonio Holmes, PIT - No. 2
WR: Nate Washington, PIT - No. 2
TE: Kevin Boss, NYG - No. 1
WR: Sidney Rice, MIN - No. 4 vs. Philly

K: Jeff Reed, PIT - No. 2

D: Chargers, SD - No. 4 vs. Indy
D: Falcons, ATL - No. 5 @ Arizona

#4 Seed: SLASHERS [+9]

QB: Chad Pennington, MIA - No. 4 vs. Baltimore

RB: LenDale White, TEN - No. 1
RB: Willie Parker, PIT - No. 2
RB: Edgerrin James, ARI - No. 4 vs. Atlanta
RB: Gary Russell, PIT - No. 2

WR: Vincent Jackson, SD - No. 4 vs. Indy
WR: Anthony Gonzalez, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego
WR: Muhsin Muhammad, CAR - No. 2
WR: Brandon Jones, TEN - No. 1

K: John Kasay, CAR - No. 2

D: Titans, TEN - No. 1

#5 Seed: CHODA SODA [+6]

QB: Jake Delhomme, CAR - No. 2

RB: Le'Ron McClain, BAL - No. 6 @ MIA
RB: Joseph Addai, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego
RB: Dominic Rhodes, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego

WR: Steve Smith, CAR - No. 2
WR: DeSean Jackson, PHI - No. 6 @ Minnesota
TE: Antonio Gates, SD - No. 4 vs. Indy
WR: Amani Toomer, NYG - No. 1

K: Adam Vinatieri, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego

D: Colts, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego


QB: Kerry Collins, TEN - No. 1

RB: Adrian Peterson, MIN - No. 4 vs. Philly
RB: Chester Taylor, MIN - No. 4 vs. Philly

WR: Reggie Wayne, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego
TE: Dallas Clark, IND - No. 5 @ San Diego
WR: Anquan Boldin, ARI - No. 4 vs. Atlanta
WR: Justin Gage, TEN - No. 1
TE: Bo Scaife, TEN - No. 1
WR: Kevin Curtis, PHI - No. 6 @ Minnesota

K: Rob Bironas, TEN - No. 1
K: Matt Stover, BAL - No. 6 @ Miami
K: Nate Kaeding, SD - No. 4 vs. Indy

D: Steelers, PIT - No. 2
D: Vikings, MIN - No. 4 vs. Philly


2007: 1st Place - Warriors | Runner-up - Underpaid Action Heros

2006: 1st Place - Choda Soda | Runner-up - Backyard All-Stars

2005: 1st Place - Backyard All-Stars | Runner-up - Aurora Casket Co.

2004: 1st Place - Backyard All-Stars | Runner-up - Chem Coach

2003: 1st Place - Warriors | Runner-up - Red Storm

2002: 1st Place - Cardinals | Runner-up - Backyard All-Stars

2001: 1st Place - Florida Flash | Runner-up - Backyard All-Stars

2000: 1st Place - Klein's Kleaners | Runner-up - Bob & Tom

1999: 1st Place - Red Storm | Runner-up - Bob & Tom

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 29, 2008: I Dream About Those Days. . . .

From James A. Miller and Tom Shales' 2003 Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests.

Howard Shore: "I have quite a fondness for that period, those first five years. You were doing something that you knew was something. You were creating something, and nobody had quite gone there before. And you were with a great creative group and you could sense it, you felt it. I particularly could feel it with the cast and with the writers. You just knew that you were part of a very special group."

Robin Schlein: "I dream about those days, actually. I dream about those people a lot. When I was transitioning into my new career I had a lot of dreams from that old time. As a psychotherapist, I realize what an amazing and important life experience it was for me and I think for everybody else who worked during that time there. I now give talks on therapeutic humor, and I'm always thinking about the time that I was in a work situation where I had so much laughter in a day. Working on that show gave me great confidence in my own sense of humor, because I was able to make people like John Belushi laugh.

Tags: Live from New York, Saturday Night Live, Tom Shales

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 28, 2008: They Allowed the Game to Drift

Michael MacCambridge's 2004 America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation:

And what, exactly, were those lessons? Perhaps paramount among them is that the popularity of a sport is not predestined, and shouldn't be taken for granted.

"Baseball in 1960 was run by people who loved baseball," said the writer and Red Sox executive Bill James, "but it was run by people who, because they loved baseball so much, assumed that there was something 'special' about baseball which had propelled it to its predominant position in the American sports world. And because they made this assumption, they allowed the game to drift. They didn't really think about the game, as a commercial product; they still don't. Pete Rozelle, Lamar Hunt, George Halas and the other people who ran pro football had serious disagreements among themselves, but they all assumed that they had both the right and the responsibility to shape football into the best possible commercial product that could be built upon the framework of the game. If the games were boring, they assumed it was their responsibility to make them more exciting. If the games were too long, they assumed it was their responsibility to trim the fat."

Tags: America's Game, Michael MacCambridge

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Game Notes | Week 17: Seahawks @ Cardinals

Seneca Wallace - Flushed from the pocket, throwing on the run, hits Ralph Brown for an opening drive interception. Got lit up as he made a great throw to Deion Branch in the back of the end zone. There are worse starters around the league. Wallace's last three or four games have created a body of work that says he deserves an opportunity down the road. Used athleticism to buy time for second TD to Branch.

Maurice Morris -

Julius Jones -

Deion Branch - Made a fantastic catch in the corner of the end zone with Rod Hood faceguarding him. Wide open for 2nd touchdown on 4th & goal in the fourth quarter.

Bobby Engram -

Koren Robinson -

John Carlson -

Kurt Warner -Fumbling bugaboos reappeared on the first drive of the game. Sloppy performance early. Found Jerhame Urban in the end zone.

Matt Leinart -

Tim Hightower -Losing carries to Edgerrin James.

Edgerrin James - Gave the team a boost in late in last week's game and got early carries this week. Back in the picture as the possible lead back.

J.J. Arrington -

Larry Fitzgerald - Caught a trade mark jump ball for a 43-yard gain to get the Cardinals' passing game on track. Took a wide receiver screen and bulldozed his way into the end zone. One-handed circus catch showed why nobody in the league has better hands. Another sick circus catch for a TD on a bomb.

Anquan Boldin -

Steve Breaston - Sheds a tackle and breaks free for the touchdown.

Jerheme Urban - Corner touchdown on a nice pass from Warner.

Leonard Pope -

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Game Notes | Week 17: Jaguars @ Ravens

David Garrard - Found Alvin Pearman wide open in the end zone for the Jags first score. Nobody picked up the halfback out of the backfield. Huge gain on the ground, but ruined by a pick to Ed Reed. Picked on a deep ball once again by Ed Reed. Fantastic play by Reed.

Maurice Jones-Drew - Sheds Jim Leonhard in the backfield for a nice gainer.

Dennis Northcutt -Fumbled at his own 33-yard line, turning it over to Ray Lewis.

Reggie Williams -

Mike Walker -

Marcedes Lewis -

Joe Flacco -

LeRon McClain -Bulldozed his way into the end zone for his 9th TD of the season.

Willis McGahee -

Ray Rice -

Derrick Mason -

Mark Clayton -Made a terrific adjustment to haul in a Joe Flacco bomb on the opening drive. Wide open after nice Flacco playfake for another nice gainer.

Todd Heap -

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Game Notes | Week 17: Browns @ Steelers

Bruce Gradkowski - Browns coaches clearly had no confidence in the passing game. Hit as he was throwing on several occasions. 32-yard pick-6 to Tyrone Carter.

Josh Cribbs -

Jamal Lewis -

Jerome Harrison - Couldn't turn the corner against Steeler D.

Braylon Edwards -

Donte Stallworth -

Martin Rucker - Caught a nice gainer, but Troy Polamalu knocked it out of his hands, and a premature whistle took a Steelers defensive TD off the boards.

Ben Roethlisberger -Awful jump-pass under pressure for a red zone interception behind Heath Miller. On the flipside, he rolled out and found Nate Washington for a 39-yard touchdown -- ended up being take off the board due to a holding call. Stretchered off with a potentially serious head/neck injury that was later called a concussion.

Byron Leftwich - Improvised on a 8-yard scrambling TD, and it looked like he broke his own leg trying to make a cut.

Willie Parker -Showing no explosion, but took a 34-yarder down the sidelines for a touchdown. Not exactly "Fast" Willie, but he did take advantage of the crease.

Mewelde Moore -

Hines Ward - Three receptions for 39 yards on first two drives. Just missed a late-second quarter touchdown from Leftwich. His tackle-breaking 21-yard catch-and-run set up Gary Russell's 3-yard TD.

Santonio Holmes -

Nate Washington - Had a 41-yard TD wiped off due to a holding penalty.

Limas Sweed -

Heath Miller -Much bigger part of the offense since returning from a mid-season ankle injury.

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Game Notes | Week 17: Panthers @ Saints

Jake Delhomme - Pump-faked and found Steve Smith deep for a 54-yard bomb. Showed good accuracy, allowing his receivers to catch the ball on the move. Drove the team down for the game-winning field goal after suffering a lower back injury.

DeAngelo Williams -He gets a 30-yard power run up the middle, but it doesn't go for a TD. John Fox's pick for the most improved player in the NFL. Over 100 yards for a Panthers record 8th time this season before the first half even ended. Up to 143 yards by halftime. Became Carolina's single-season rushing leader. He now has 1,480 yards, breaking Stephen Davis' record of 1,444 set in 2003. Did everything well, great patience, burst to the outside, tough up the middle, great vision, big play ability.

As a team, Carolina had 174 yards rushing in the first half. Already, that's the team's third best rushing performance in a game all season.

Jonathan Stewart -Broke five tackles in the backfield and turned a loss into a 16-yard gain. Took advantage of Steve Smith's 54-yard bomb for his 10th rushing touchdown of the season.

Steve Smith -Beat double coverage, got behind the secondary, and hauled in a 54-yard bomb, tackled at the 6-yard line. Almost pulled in a one-handed circus catch. Just throw it up in the air, and Smith will get it. His brilliant 39-yard catch in double coverage set up the winning field goal.

Muhsin Muhammad -Eight-yard touchdown reception.

D.J. Hackett -Came up two yards short of a first-down in the red zone, causing a field goal. Caught a 30-yarder in the second half.

Dante Rosario -

Jeff King -

Julius Peppers - Pinning his ears back and now up to 14 and 1/2 sacks on the season.

Drew Brees -Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, and Jeremy Shockey were all in the lineup at the same time in just three games this year. Sacked just 11 times this season. Threw off his back foot, underthrown and picked off by Chris Harris over the middle. Starting to get pressured in the second half as the Panthers are pinning their ears back. Became just the 2nd player in NFL history to post 5,000 yards and recorded his 10th 300-yard game of the season. Three fourth quarter TDs to bring the Saints back from way behind. Brees 16 yards away from record. Brees fourth-quarter flurry not enough.

Mike Bell -Primary ball carrier, with Deuce staying on the sidelines even at the goal-line.

Deuce McAllister -

Marques Colston - Does he seem a step slower? Dropped a 4th-quarter pass that would have gone for a TD. Third hundred yard game of the season, up to 7/124/1.

Lance Moore - Had a deep ball glance right off his finger tips. Everything is underneath again, so Moore has to do his damage after the catch. Fourth-quarter touchdown from 9 yards out. Brilliant leaping catch in the end zone to put the Saints up 31-30 late.

Devery Henderson -

Robert Meachem - Went in motion, took a backfield pass, and bulldozed his way in for the TD.

Billy Miller - End zone target goes just wide.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 27, 2008: It's Sort of What We Have Instead of God

From Ernest Hemingway's 1926 "Lost Generation" classic The Sun Also Rises:

"You know," Brett said, "he'd only been with two women before. He never cared about but bull-fighting."
"He's got plenty of time."
"I don't know. He thinks it was me. Not the show in general."
"Well, it was you."
"Yes. It was me."
"I thought you weren't going to ever talk about it."
"How can I help it?"
"You'll lose it if you talk about it."
"I just talk around it. You know I feel rather damned good, Jake."
"You should."
"You know it makes one feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch."
"It's sort of what we have instead of God."
"Some people have God," I said. "Quite a lot."
"He never worked very well with me."
"Should we have another Martini?"
The barman shook up two more Martinis and poured them out into fresh glasses.

Tags: Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 26, 2008: People Like Us

From Robert Bly's "People Like Us" in Morning Poems, 1998:

People Like Us

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can't remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and
Who love God but can't remember where

He was when they went to sleep. It's
All right. The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time

To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he's lonely , and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school,

You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul
And greatness has a defender, and even in death
you're safe

Tags: Robert Bly, poetry, poem

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 25, 2008: A Short History of Chirstmas

From Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" on NPR:

Today is Christmas Day, celebrated by Christians since the 4th century AD. Early Christians believed that the only important holiday of the year was Easter, but in the 4th century, a heretical Christian sect started claiming that Jesus had only been a spirit, and had never had a body. The Church decided to emphasize Jesus' bodily humanity by celebrating his birth.

Most Christian theologians believe that Jesus was actually born in the spring, because the scripture mentions shepherds letting their animals roam in the fields at night. The Christian church probably chose December 25th as the official birth date because of competition with pagan cults, who celebrated the winter solstice on that date.

The problem with combining Christian and pagan traditions was that the winter solstice had traditionally been a time of drunken feasting and revelry, and many Christmas celebrations became similarly festive. Many preachers began to speak out against the celebration of Christmas, and after the Protestant Reformation, Puritans outlawed Christmas altogether.

It was only in the mid 19th century that Christmas became a domestic holiday associated with family. The transformation was due in part to government crackdowns on wild street parties. In 1828, New York City organized its first professional police force in response to a violent Christmas riot. Eventually it became more fashionable to stay at home with family than to go out to big parties.

One practice that endures from pagan traditions is the singing of carols. The word "carol" comes from the Greek "choros," which is a circular dance accompanied by singing, usually to celebrate fertility. After most Europeans became Christians, they began to write and perform folk songs at Christmas time to express their joy at baby Jesus' birth.

But the church often discouraged the singing of carols because they were considered too secular, and the practice of caroling almost died out under church pressure. When Christmas became a more domestic holiday in the mid-1800s, there was a carol renaissance, and many of the most popular carols were written in that period, including, "Away in a Manger," "O Little Town of Bethlehem", and "Silent Night" written in Austria in 1818.

Tags: Garrison Keillor, Christmas

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 24, 2008: American Christmas Man

From Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" on NPR:

Today is Christmas Eve, the subject of the beloved holiday poem that begins:

"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads."

The poem, now known as "The Night Before Christmas," was first published anonymously in a small newspaper in upstate New York in 1823, and its original title was "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." It was thought for many years to have been written by Clement Clarke Moore. But today some scholars believe that a Revolutionary War major named Henry Livingston Jr. may have been the actual author of "The Night Before Christmas." His family has letters describing his recitation of the poem before it was originally published, and literary scholars have found many similarities between his work and "The Night Before Christmas." He was also three-quarters Dutch, and many of the details in the poem, including names of the reindeer, have Dutch origins.

But whoever wrote the poem, "The Night Before Christmas" changed the way Americans celebrate the holiday of Christmas by reinventing the character of Santa Claus, and by combining St. Nicholas Day with Christmas.

The image of Santa went through many variations, until the political cartoonist Thomas H. Nast drew a picture of the fat, jolly man with a white beard that became the standard version. Santa started wearing red and white clothing after an ad campaign for Coca Cola in the 1930s.

In Holland, children are now visited by St. Nicholas on December 5th, and on Christmas Eve they are visited by Santa Claus, whom they call, "American Christmas Man."

Tags: Christmas Eve, Garrison Keillor

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 23, 2008: Boiled with His Own Pudding

From Charles Dickens' 1843 classic A Christmas Carol:

Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer . . . ? "If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' upon his lips should be boiled with his won pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"

Tags: Scrooge, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 22, 2008: Not Necessarily Accessible to Everybody

From James A. Miller and Tom Shales' 2003 Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests.

Paul Shaffer: "The idea that some of the things would not be necessarily accessible to everybody didn't matter. As long as there were a few people out there who thought it was hilarious, that's what mattered. I kind of learned that from this show, that concept. It was a show for our generation, which was, let's face it, a sixties-style generation."

Tags: Live from New York, Saturday Night Live, Tom Shales

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Game Notes | Week 16: Eagles @ Redskins

Donovan McNabb - Fumbled after getting hit from behind by Jason Taylor, which led to the Redskins first touchdown. Beautiful pass hitting Westbrook in stride down the sideline for a 47-yard gain. Eagles can't get open deep, and the Skins are squeezing them tight. McNabb hurried and throwing too low for his receivers can handle. He's low everything, may have mechanical issues. Receivers aren't getting any separation, and they've dropped 8 passes. Almost hooked up with Reggie Brown and the game-tying touchdown, but Reggie Brown cut his route just short of the goal-line and was stopped short with time running out.

Brian Westbrook - Hauled in a 47-yard catch-and-run down the sidelines but was caught from behind. Tackled inside the 5-yard line by Chris Horton. Limped off the field with 2:30 left in the game, returned but acceleration is missing.

DeSean Jackson - Took a huge hit from LaRon Landry right as the ball hit his hands. Got behind DeAngelo Hall in the fourth quarter, but he dropped what would have been a long gainer. Got behind DeAngelo Hall again on a bomb in the endzone, perfectly thrown ball but Jackson was just unable to make the play. Should have been a touchdown. Four of the seven drops were by DeSean Jackson.

Reggie Brown - Hit just before breaking the plain of the goal-line, and the clock ran out.

L.J. Smith -

Jason Campbell - Once again, he couldn't get anything going beyond 10 yards. He doesn't run a lot, but he's an effective scrambler when he does. Should have been picked off by Asante Samuel.

Clinton Portis - Left briefly with a sprained left wrist, returned in 2nd half. Stopped just 10 inches shy of the goal-line, but comes back with the TD on the next carry. Banged up again, trainers looking at his shoulder.

Ladell Betts - Betts hauled on several short passes and was Jason Campbell's best receiving option in the first half.

Santana Moss - Moss was active on underneath routes, but he couldn't accomplish anything deep against the Philly corners.

Chris Cooley -

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Game Notes | Week 16: Dolphins @ Chiefs

Tyler Thigpen - Throws into double coverage for Gonzalez, picked by Andre Goodman. Inaccurate early. Fantastic playfake to Larry Johnson and floated one just enough in double coverage to Devard Darling for the TD. Showing a tendency to put the ball in danger. 75-yard screen pass to Jamaal Charles. Another one thrown up for grabs, and Goodman should have picked it. Up for grabs again, and Darling pulls it in for 32 yards. Thigpen scrables for 27 yards, and then answers that with a QB-draw touchdown and he's up to 57 rushing yards in the first half. Another one thrown up for grabs, picked off by Nathan Jones. Almost intercepted again -- Thigpen could have a dozen picks so far if the Dolphins DBs could hold on.

Larry Johnson - 2-yard touchdown set up by a 75-yard screen to Jamaal Charles. Lots of room to run on that shotgun-draw handoff out of the spread.

Tony Gonzalez - Powered his way in for an 8-yard touchdown.

Dwayne Bowe

Mark Bradley - Isolated deep on back-to-back plays, but Andre Goodman broke them up. Targeted deep again on a touch pass, but the corner knocks it away again. Finally a connection on a 37-yard bomb.

Jamaal Charles - 75-yard screen pass, tackled at the 2-yard line. Another screen for 18 yards to close out the half.

Chad Pennington - Beautiful pass in the end zone over a couple of defenders where only a leaping David Martin could catch it. Three questionable throws in a row to close out the first half, the final one gets picked off.

Ronnie Brown - Biggest impact came in the passing game, where he had one run knocking over the ref and leapfrogging a defender.

Ricky Williams - Found the edge on a 4-yard touchdown after Patrick Cobbs' 44-yard Wildcat run set the Dolphins up for the score.

Davone Bess

Ted Ginn - Takes the first play to the house on an end around reverse for 31 yards after a long kickoff return by Patrick Cobbs.

David Martin - Acrobatic leaping catch in the end zone by the former basketball player.

Anthony Fasano - Broke a tackle on a short pass and took it into the end zone for a 14-yard TD. Miami grabs the lead on another (one-handed) 14-yard touchdown catch. Fasano has twin 14-yard TDs where he carried bull-dozed his way into the end zone.

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Game Notes | Week 16: Chargers @ Buccaneers

Philip Rivers - Playfake screen pass to Manumaleuana for an 11 yard touchdown. Rolled out, bought time and threw a perfect pass to Antonio Gates on the end line for a second TD. Having his way with the Bucs defense. Scrambled and found Gates again in the end zone. Career-high 4th touchdown to Sproles on a screen pass.

LaDainian Tomlinson - Finding running room early with 7 carries for 36 yards. Showing a little of the Jamal Lewis stutter step when he can't find a hole.

Antonio Gates - Rivers found him streaking along the end line for a leaping 15-yard touchdown. A scrambling Rivers once again found Gates in the end zone, too physical for the Bucs corners.

Vincent Jackson - Back shoulder throw down the sideline, but unable to pull it in with Aqib Talib all of him. Picked up 15 yards on a slant. Another 18 yards on a playfake over the middle. Wide open for a 22-yard gain. 25-yarder over the middle to set up a last second field goal to close out the first half.

Chris Chambers - Norv Turner thought he'd have a big day today. Sold a post pattern and made a break for the sidelines, hauling in a 17-yard pass.

Darren Sproles - Rare Sproles-Rivers-Sproles flea flicker that goes for 4 yards. Screen-pass homerun for a 32-yard touchdown.

Legadu Naanee - A couple of nice first-half catches.

Jeff Garcia - Scrambles to set up his own bootleg TD on a 3rd & 2. Despite the injured calf, he was his usual gutsy, improvisational self, but he got little help from a receiving crew that dropped balls all day. Bought time and got drilled as he threw a bomb to a wide open Antonio Bryant for a 71-yard touchdown. Bleeding all over the face after Quentin Jammer drilled him in the helmet, smashing it into the bridge of his nose. Second interception (pick-6) came on a deflected ball. Down by 17 with a bloody face, was replaced by Luke McCown with 2 minutes left in the game.

Warrick Dunn

Antonio Bryant - Lost 2 yards on first catch and fumbled it away to the Chargers. Bad drop on a ball that hit him in the chest, and then another drop on the next play. Racked up a couple of catches on the drive to close out the first half. Chargers secondary lost him, and a hurried Garcia found him wide open down the field for a 71-yard TD. Just overthrown by a yard on another wide open deep ball.

Michael Clayton

Cadillac Williams - Appeared to break the goal-line on a high effort run, but the Bucs didn't challenge the call and B.J. Askew dove over on the next play.

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Quote of the Day | December 21, 2008: The Winter Solstice

From Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" on NPR:

In the northern hemisphere, today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night. It's officially the first day of winter and one of the oldest known holidays in human history. Anthropologists believe that solstice celebrations go back at least 30,000 years, before humans even began farming on a large scale. Many of the most ancient stone structures made by human beings were designed to pinpoint the precise date of the solstice. The stone circles of Stonehenge were arranged to receive the first rays of midwinter sun.

Ancient peoples believed that because daylight was waning, it might go away forever, so they lit huge bonfire to tempt the sun to come back. The tradition of decorating our houses and our trees with lights at this time of year is passed down from those ancient bonfires.

In ancient Egypt and Syria, people celebrated the winter solstice as the sun's birthday. In Ancient Rome, the winter solstice was celebrated with the festival of Saturnalia, during which all business transactions and even war were suspended, and slaves were waited upon by their masters.

Henry David Thoreau said, "In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends."

Tags: Winter Solstice, Garrison Keillor

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 20, 2008: Teddy on Football

From Theodore Roosevelt's Letters to His Children, 1919:

I am delighted to have you play football. I believe in rough, manly sports. But I do not believe in them if they degenerate into the sole end of any one's existence. I don't want you to sacrifice standing well in your studies to any over-athleticism; and I need not tell you that character counts for a great deal more than either intellect or body in winning success in life. Athletic proficiency is a mighty good servant, and like so many other good servants, a mighty bad master.

Tags: Teddy Roosevelt, Theodore, Ted

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Quote of the Day | December 19, 2008: The Honor of My Race, Family and Self Is at Stake

Jack Trice, an Iowa State football player who died from injuries received on the football field in October, 1923; from a note written to himself and found in his coat pocket following his death:

The honor of my race, family and self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field. Every time the ball is snapped, I will be trying to do more than my part . . . Fight low, with your eyes open and toward the play. Watch out for crossbucks and reverse end runs. Be on your toes every minute if you expect to make good. Jack.

Tags: Jack Trice

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Game Notes | Week 16: Colts @ Jaguars

How about that, a George Wrighster sighting.

Why isn't Marcedes Lewis better than he is? A physically gifted former first rounder on an offense that really needs a pass-catching tight end. Well, that might be the answer. Garrard hits him in stride on a play that would have been a big gainer, and Lewis just lets it hit off his hands. That's his 11th drop of the season, and it's quite possible he could have taken it to the house.

MJD getting more than his usual dose of screens and draws to counteract the Colts D-Line speed.

Garrard throws a beautiful touch pass that hits Dennis Northcutt over the shoulder for a 28-yard touchdown. Great pass by Garrard and a nice grab by Northcutt. Just the 6th passing TD given up by the Colts all season.

Dominic Rhodes just had a 21-yard run called back on a holding penalty.

Warren Sapp says MJD had three great blitz pickups on the opening drive. Another good catch by Northcutt, going up to get the ball for a first down on the sidelines. Garrard nice playaction with a quick roll out pass to Richard Angulo. Jags back in scoring territory. MJD makes a terrific play, juking Freeney on what would have been a 3-yard loss. Collinsworth called it Barry Sanders-esque, and I can't disagree with him. 24 plays by Jags, 6 by Colts so far. Third & goal from the 2-yard line. Garrard QB-draw fights his way in for the TD to cap off a 17-play, 93-yard, 9 1/2 minute drive. Colts knew what was coming, but Garrard powered his way in -- 14-0 Jags.

Good stat: MJD is only the third active player with 40 TDs in his first 3 seasons. The other two guys -- Randy Moss and LaDainian Tomlinson. MJD = stud. Like I said last summer, he's not just one of the best running backs in the league, he's one of the best players in the league.

Colts RB update: Rhodes has had nowhere to go in the passing game, with the Jags LBs & DBs pursuing well. Joseph Addai hasn't seen the field yet.

Manning just hit Reggie Wayne for a 41-yard bomb, and there was nobody within 15 yards of Wayne. Reggie Nelson bit up on Gijon Robinson, and Wayne ran right by him. Manning has started 8-of-8 for 88 yards and a TD, Colts down 14-7.

Northcutt with another impressive play. Kelvin Hayden just missed an interception, and Northcutt hauled it in and grabbed another 15 yards after the catch. He's up to 4/59/1 early in the second quarter. Marcedes Lewis' butterfingers routine is the only ball that's hit the ground in either passing game so far. Thanks, Bob Papa. As soon as you say that, Garrard chucks one out of bounds. There's my boy Mike Walker with a nice catch, but Khalif Barnes' holding penalty negates it. Horrible call. Papa incorrectly called that Walker's first reception. I know I saw a game where Walker had about 8 catches against the Steelers. That bad holding call ends up being a huge momentum switch as the Jags have to punt instead of receiving the first down. MJD up to 79 total yards with 6 minutes left in the half.

Manning finds Rhodes on a slant and go wide open down the field for a 29-yard gain (longest of Rhodes' career), and Peyton is up to 10-of-10 for 130 yards. Manning hasn't missed a pass yet, he's on fire, and the Colts go with a wide run on 3rd & 1. Very questionable call. Rhodes loses 3 yards and Vinatieri hooks the gimme 30-yarder. Colts get bupkes. Zots.

Mike Walker with a big sideline catch, and Scobee gets the last-second field goal.

Manning comes out just as hot in the second and throws a beautiful pass across the middle, hitting Dallas Clark in stride. I wonder how many guys started Joseph Addai in their title game. He still hasn't seen the field, and I suspect he won't with Manning as accurate as he's been all year. Rhodes from Manning for the TD, and it's a 17-14 game. Manning just came out and methodically took the Jags defense apart on a 75-yard drive.

Manning's completion streak to start the game stopped at 17, which is the longest of his career.

MJD makes a great move to get 8 yards out of nothing on a swing pass. This guy's good. Mike Walker didn't show any separation speed at all on that deep ball. He might be more of a possession receiver. Another phenomenal play by MJD to make something out of nothing and get the first down. Collinsworth can only say, "Look at him." Could say poor tackling by the Colts too. Chauncy Washington comes to spell MJD for a couple of carries. Nice leg drive there. Oops. Washington can't the corner and loses about 4 yards. Garrard hits Lewis over the middle for a third-down conversion. Oh boy, MJD owners have to be livid. He's get the ball down to the one, and Montell Owens gets the vulture TD. Now they know how Fred Taylor feels.

Manning starts the drive with another perfect touch pass down the sidelines, and Dallas Clark did a hell of a job to pull it in for 33 yards. As impressive as Peyton Manning's career has been, I don't think I've ever seen him pass more accurately than he has tonight. Collinsworth correctly calls him brilliant and says, "Some people like to watch musicians, I like to watch this maestro." Rhodes down to the goal-line, and Manning is stuffed on a quick-count sneak. It's going to be third & goal at the 1-foot line. Manning playaction to Rhodes and hits a wideopen Dallas Clark. Adam Schefter pipes up from the sidelines, "How does Dallas Clark get that wide open."

Manning's stats 24-of-27, 314 yards, and three touchdowns. Who else started him this week? That's good stuff.

Garrard is 7-of-10 on third down conversions tonight, but he can't hook up with Northcutt. Freeney and Mathis haven't been factors.

Ouch. Derrick Harvey trying to cover Dallas Clark on 3rd & 3, and it goes for 20 yards. Clark over 100 yards on the night. Rhodes finally seeing some running room now that the Jags are selling out against the pass. Colts screw up the snap, and they'll have to attempt the tying field goal here from 45 yards out. It's 24-24 with 6 minutes left. Colts would be leading this game if not for two blown 3rd & ones.

Oh, David Garrard. That's hoooooorrrrible! Third & 4, he throws it into a crowd of Colts, and Keiwan Ratliff picks it and takes all the way back for the TD -- 31-24 Colts. Garrard fails to generate points again, taking a 16-yard sack to end the next drive.

Colts driving, but they turn to Rhodes on 3rd & one again, and he's stuffed again. The Jags are going to get the ball back with 2:45 remaining and zero timeouts. Redemption time for Garrard with the ball on this own 10-yard line. Can they pass the ball when they need to? That's not really their strength on offense. Pass to MJD and then back-to-back to Northcutt, Jags have the ball inside the Colts 40. Garrard hits Reggie Williams with a bullet, and they're down to the 17-yard line with 48 seconds left. Checkdown to MJD goes for the first down. Uh-oh. MJD is down. Automatic 10 second runoff. Garrard misses Reggie Williams wide open in the end zone. That should have been a TD. Garrard sacked after Montell Owens whiffed on the block, and time will run out the Jags.

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Quote of the Day | December 18, 2008: Bo Schembechler

From Michael Rosenberg's 2008 War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest:

Bo Schembechler was lost in Ann Arbor.

It was a snowy night in late December 1968, and Schembechler and his staff had piled into two cars in Oxford, Ohio, and headed north. They had left Miami University in Ohio for the University of Michigan, if only they could find it. Except for Schembechler and his defensive coordinator, Jim Young, none of the coaches ever had been to Ann Arbor. Now they were lost.

Where to go? Schembechler couldn't ask for directions to the school's football facility, because there wasn't one — the Wolverines had a dingy locker room tucked into a corner on the second floor of Yost Fieldhouse. The locker room had only a handful of toilets and poor ventilation; the resulting smell was so foul, players wanted to run out of the locker room as soon as they could. But that was risky: The stairs outside the locker room were built for small men in loafers, not football players in cleats. When the players got downstairs, they had to go outside, through a parking lot, over a set of train tracks (or over couplings, if there was a train stopped on the tracks), through another parking lot and finally into Michigan Stadium, where they could begin practice.

Schembechler could have asked for directions to the national convention of Students for a Democratic Society, which was being held in Ann Arbor that week. SDS had been founded a few years earlier by Michigan alumnus Alan Haber and Michigan Daily editor Tom Hayden and had become the most powerful student organization in the country. As the Vietnam War became more unpopular, SDS grew in size and influence, and now it was about to crumble under its own weight, leaving splinter groups that favored more violent methods. (Haber had left Ann Arbor and SDS because there were too many factions pulling the organization in different directions.) But Schembechler, a 39-year-old footballaholic with a military buzz cut and very little interest in politics, surely didn't know about the convention.

If he got closer to campus, Schembechler could have listened for the strains of "2+2=?," one of the first anti-Vietnam rock 'n' roll songs. It was written by Ann Arbor native Bob Seger and outsold the Beatles in local stores; it would be re-released in the autumn of 1969, as Seger's song gained resonance by the week.

But Schembechler was unlikely to listen to rock 'n' roll, or a protest song, and especially a rock 'n' roll protest song. Dissent did not sit well with the coach. (His new players would discover that quickly.)

Tags: Bo Schembechler, War as They Knew It

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Master BBQ/Grilling Info

Top 10 Skills to Master Your Grill
Essentials for Grillin and Chillin
Big Green Egg Wise One Recipe Book
Big Green Egg Temperatures
The "Stoker" Remote Temperature Gauge
BBQ Islands
Maverick Digital Remote Thermometer
Meat Charts
Big Green Egg Table Gallery
How to Build a Table for Your Big Green Egg

High-Volume Grilling
Low Maintenance Grilling for Crowds

Appetizers and Sides
Atomic Buffalo Turds (Jalopenos)
Smoked Armadillo Eggs
Grilled Romaine Lettuce

Tipsy McStagger's Spoon Bread with Honey Butter

Pork Shoulder/Pork
Pork Butt: Selection & Preparation
Pulled Pork Recipes
Pork Butt: The Renowned Mr. Brown
Pork Butt: Slathered with Mustard & Rub
Pork Butt: Championship Injection
Quick Cook Boston Butt
Quick Cook Boston Butt No. 2
Pull off at 185-190?
Pulled Pork Timetable
Pulled Pork Timetable No. 2
Brush vs. Spray
Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Best Ribs in the Universe a/k/a BRITU
Fast-cooked, Dry Memphis Style vs. Slow-cooked
World Famous Rendezvous Dry BBQ Ribs
World Famous Rendezvous Dry BBQ Ribs 2
Rendezvous Ribs @ Grillinfools.com
Nine Rib Recipes @ Grillinfools.com
Mike Mills' Beef Ribs
Apple City Barbecue World Champion Ribs
Grillin Fools' Old School Ribs
Grillin Fools' Country Style Ribs
"Country Style" (Pork Butt) Ribs
Honey Spiced Country Style Ribs
Know Your Smokin' Woods
Beef Recipes
The Bacon Explosion
Fatty No. 2
Fatty No. 3
Prime Rib Recipe
Paul Kirk's Kansas City Brisket


Flame Searing
TRex's Steak Searing Method
"The Perfect Steaks" Big Green Egg Recipe
Andria's Steak Method
BBQ Pit Boys Porterhouse Steak Vid
Sliced Ribeye Sammiches

Proscuito Burger
Extraordinary Simple Burger
The 10 Essential Steps to the Perfect Cheeseburger

Simmering Brats and Sausages

Spatchcocking How-to
Basic Chicken Breast with Italian Dressing
Big Green Egg Dutch Oven Chicken
Brining and Smoking a Whole Bird
Caribbean Jerk & Other Recipes
Brant's Brined Beer-Butt Bird

Chicken Wings
Direct, Then Slow
Super Smokers Sweet & Spicy Chicken Wings

Pizza / Breads
Big Green Egg Calzone
Chicago Style Pizza Recipe


Sauces and Rubs
Willingham's Original Mild Dry Rub
Willingham's @ Saucehog.com
Bad Byron's Butt Rub
Allegro Marinade
Andria's Steak Sauce
Gates Family Kansas City Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Mike Mills' Apple City Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Mike Mills Original 17th Street Barbecue Sauce (Order)
Mike Mills Magic Dust (Order)
Mike Mills' Magic Dust Recipe  
Big Bob Gibson's White Sauce
All-Purpose Dry Rub
One Way to Develop Barbecue Sauce
Roxy's Mustard Vinegar Sauce
Rendezvous Rib Rub 
Charlie Vergos Rendezvous Rub (Order)

Miscellaneous Blogs/Sites

Grillin' Fools
Grillin' Fools Cook for Food Critic
The Official 2008 Grilling & BBQ Thread
The Official 2009 Grilling & BBQ Thread
Footballguys Big Green Egg Thread
Egghead Forum
Naked Whiz Ceramic Charcoal Cooking FAQ
Cookin' Canuck
The BBQ Brethren Forum
Big Green Egg Reviews

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Update | Wednesday, December, 17, 2008

Rankings update:

- All player ages have been changed to reflect age as of first game of 2009 season.

- I'm in the process of adding contract status. Many of the QB & RB free agents & trade candidates are updated.

- I've made some of the rankings changes this week, but I haven't yet had the time to post a new set of rankings. Check last week's for changes, but keep in mind it's not complete.

- If I have time today/tonight, I'll post new rankings. If not, it will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon.

Good luck to all in their championship games this weekend. I'm sure the majority of you have a dog in the race.

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Quote of the Day | December 17, 2008: Woody Hayes

From Michael Rosenberg's 2008 War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest:

It was time for Woody Hayes to adjust. Halftime, late October 1967: Hayes' Ohio State Buckeyes trailed Illinois. Hayes stood at the locker-room chalkboard, like any other football coach, to perform the most basic football-coach task: diagramming a play. And Hayes tried, he really did, but then he caught a glimpse of his fullback, Jim Otis, who had fumbled twice in the first half, and suddenly Hayes wanted to smack Otis.

Did it matter that Otis was one of Hayes' favorite players? Or that Otis' father roomed with Hayes for two years at Denison University? Or that Hayes had known Otis for years — and that Otis had spent his whole life preparing to play fullback for Woody at Ohio State?

Hell yes. Of course it mattered. With such close ties to Woody Hayes, Otis knew darn well not to fumble.

Hayes turned and rammed through the first two rows of players, then attacked Otis with such force that Otis' Coke popped up in the air. And as he pounded away, Hayes screamed that Otis would never play for Ohio State again.

The Buckeyes had seen the flash of Hayes' temper many times. Normally, there was a way to prepare for it: make him stand on your right side. Hayes was left-handed. When he stood on your right side, Hayes had to take a step back to throw that left hook, and you had a chance to get out of the way.

But Otis, wedged into the third row, had nowhere to go, and at that moment, so much seemed to be ending. The season was lost — Ohio State's record was about to fall to 2-3. There were rumblings that if Hayes lost the big season finale at Michigan, he would be fired. Otis, a sophomore, thought his career was finished (and in fact, he would be benched for the rest of that Illinois game and the two after that).

Had a picture been taken at that moment — an image frozen and passed around the nation, designed to provoke an instant reaction — most people would have reached quick, obvious conclusions: Hayes and Otis would never speak again; the coach would lose the respect of his players; and the Woody Hayes era at Ohio State would probably end. Every conclusion would have made sense — and every one would have been wrong.

Jim Otis never considered leaving Hayes' program; his love for the coach only grew stronger over time. As for the other players, Hayes sometimes angered them, but he never lost them. His influence on them was overwhelming.

The sheer size of a football team limits individual interactions between the head coach and each player, but Hayes was so powerful in those moments that many Buckeyes would say he was like a second father to them. Hayes insisted that they graduate, and when they did, he coaxed many of them to go to law school. Some players considered him so morally incorruptible that long after they left Ohio State, they feared disappointing him.

Hayes told his players that their closest friends in the world would always be their Ohio State teammates. That was true, but when those friends got together, they inevitably started talking about Hayes so much that they started to sound like him. Hayes had such a profound effect on his players that years after he died, they would often speak of him in the present tense: "Woody has two rules: No drugs and no haters," they would say. Or: "He is the best teacher. When he goes to the board in a classroom, he is magnificent."

And on the topic of endings: The Buckeyes would win their final four games of 1967, saving Hayes' job. From there, they would put together one of the most dominant stretches in football history. And their excellence would trigger the greatest decade in the most storied rivalry in college football.

Nothing ended in that cramped locker room at Ohio Stadium. This was actually one of the great beginnings in the history of sports.

But the Buckeyes could not possibly know that at the time. They just knew the Old Man was ticked off again. And that somebody ought to detach him from Jim Otis.

One of Woody's assistant coaches, Hugh Hindman, pulled him off.

Tags: Woody Hayes, War as They Knew It

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Twinkilling Mini Q & A

I received an interesting email from Brad Spieser of twinkilling.com today, asking me to clarify a few fantasy/NFL issues. So here goes:

1. Twinkilling: In your Saints-Bears "Game Notes" piece, you wrote the following words about the Saints' backfield: "Just thinking about Reggie Bush. Surprising that he sat out that whole drive, but it's just not his kind of game in cold weather on a frozen field. Just as importantly, it's obvious that Pierre Thomas isn't just a better runner but a better football player." What? Really? There's little question that Thomas is the superior between-the-tackles runner, and a well-rounded player, but he is no Reggie Bush. Not only is Reggie Bush the best receiving running back in the league - possessing the skills to be the best slot receiver in the league - but he's also an elite punt returner (3 TDs in 10 games this year!). I love Thomas as a player, and he might just win me a ring next week, but he's not the player Reggie Bush is. I don't know how you'll respond to this, other than to say, "I disagree," but I'd be willing to bet you $100 that Bush has a better career than Thomas. The gauntlet has been thrown...

Sons of the Tundra: If Bush was a great (or even very good) NFL player, it would show up somewhere -- on the field, in the stats, somewhere, anywhere. But it hasn't. He's quite possibly the worst runner of all the starting backs in the NFL, and Bush apologists have to accept the fact that he's nowhere near the homerun hitter he was hyped to be when he entered the league. It shouldn't go unmentioned, either, that it's now an open question of whether his body can withstand the pounding that a running back/slot receiver takes on a regular basis.

Being a good receiving back doesn't mean that you have the best hands or catch the most passes -- though that's certainly a major part of it. What's more important is what you do with the ball in your hands. For an alleged electric player, Bush averaged an embarrassing 5.7 yards per reception in 2007. He's upped it to 8.5 this year, which is very impressive considering his volume of catches. For comparison's sake, Pierre Thomas is at 9.2 yards per reception this year and has shown terrific hands himself.

Bush is billed as a playmaker nonpareil. However, even after sitting for half the season behind a washed up Deuce McAllister, Thomas has 11 TDs on 144 touches to Bush's 6 TDs on 158 touches. Bush has averaged a Cedric Benson-like 3.7 YPC in his career to go with a pedestrian 7.5 yards per reception. Playing in the exact same offense, Thomas has averaged 4.8 YPC to go with 9.1 yards per reception. Who is the more effective offensive player? And does being an above average punt returner make up for that drastic difference in effectiveness?

Pierre Thomas is just now receiving an opportunity similar to what was given to Bush upon entering the league, and Thomas is succeeding with flying colors. Has Reggie Bush ever had a month as productive as Thomas' last month?

I think I've made a fairly strong case for Thomas being the better NFL player, but Rotoworld football honcho, Tulane grad, and avid Saints backer Gregg Rosenthal made a better case last week:

For one night, the Saints running back from Chicago outshined the Bears running back from Louisiana. Thursday was Pierre Thomas' night, final score notwithstanding. It was the night the world could see how much better the Saints offense runs with Thomas as the primary back, and Reggie Bush as backup complementary player. The undrafted player is a better pro than the Golden Boy from USC. This seemed to dawn on Bush as he slumped further in his winter coat while nursing his knee injury for most of the second half.

It was hard not to think back to Week 17 of last season, when my man crush for Mr. Thomas began. He racked up over 200 total yards in a depressing loss in Chicago, showing power running and receiving ability. His arsenal was on display again Thursday. He scored twice, making eight TDs in five games. He rushed for 87 yards, and caught seven passes for 59 yards for a cool 33 points in PPR leagues. His game isn't flashy, but it's complete and effective. Much like Matt Forte. You start to wonder how Reggie Bush fits in behind Thomas moving forward, not the other way around. And you start to wonder how Bush will handle it all.

2. Twinkilling: Who in the hell is going to win the 2008 NFL MVP? Is it possible that Michael Turner is the most valuable player in the league despite being the second-most valuable on his own team? Would you have a problem with Matt Ryan winning the award? Are there any deserving candidates? Kurt Warner or Drew Brees? No way. DeAngelo Williams? Troy Polamalu or James Harrison? Adrian Peterson or Andre Johnson? Help me, Rhonda.

Sons of the Tundra: First of all, allow me to thank you for not seconding Peter King's foolish notion that Peyton Manning is the MVP in one of the least impressive seasons of his career. And I'd like to take the time right now to give out a special "Sean Salisbury Dereliction in NFL Analysis Award" to all of the jackasses that even mentioned Kerry Collins as a possible MVP candidate a month ago. Christ, are they judgment impaired. Foghorn Leghorn: "Son, you're about as sharp as a sack full of wet mice."

In a year where there is no glaring MVP, I'd go with Adrian Peterson if I had to vote after 15 weeks. The Vikes QBs have been putrid, but they're doing enough on offense to possibly finish with the No. 2 seed in the NFC because they have the most talented player in the league at tailback.

This is probably the one year since I've been following the NFL that there are more legitimate defensive MVP candidates than offensive. James Harrison, DeMarcus Ware, Albert Haynesworth, Kris Jenkins, Justin Tuck, and Ray Lewis have all had a huge impact on wins and lossses this season. Considering the dominance of the Steelers defense, I wouldn't have any problem with James Harrison and Troy Polamalu splitting the MVP.

To answer a few more of your questions:

- I don't think Matt Ryan is deserving of the MVP award, but no one can deny his importance to the Falcons in 2008. I wouldn't vote for him, but I wouldn't have a problem with it either -- considering the weakness of the field. I think Ryan has been more valuable to the Falcons than Turner has been.

- I agree that neither Warner nor Brees are deserving. Neither have come up big when it mattered.

- I brought up DeAngelo Williams as a talking point last week, simply because he's had a better running back season than just about anybody but Peterson. But I'd be lying if I said I thought he was even the most valuable player on his own offense. Steve Smith is the Panthers MVP, and he just might be the second most dominant offensive player in the league behind Peterson. He's perenially underrated -- almost to Roethlisbergian proportions.

3. Twinkilling: How are you advising Antonio Bryant owners, not only this week for Fantasy Super Bowls but in the future? Take me, for instance: I'm playing for a ring in one league with the following WR corps: Greg Jennings, Terrell Owens, Roddy White and Antonio Bryant. We start three WRs...who's on my bench?

Sons of the Tundra: I would ride Bryant's hot streak through the fantasy playoffs, and then try to flip his possible fantasy playoff MVP performance as soon as the fantasy season is over.

How would I dissect Antonio Bryant's unique brand of high knucklehead factor? He's not as delusional as Cedric Benson, he's not as psychotically narcissistic as Terrell Owens, he's not as lazy and irresponsible as Plaxico Burress . . . instead, he's a volatile mixture of righteously indignant with an outsized ego, a lack of respect for authority, a past drug history, and a chip on his shoulder the size of Bill Parcells' goat tits.

I've always been intrigued with Bryant's talent, and I've had him on several redraft leagues over the past five seasons, but his value in Dynasty leagues is just lacking in stability. He's playing better now than he ever has, and he's gone from WR3 to WR2 easily over the past month. He's a big, physical receiver with great hands. That's the good news. The bad news is that he could easily go the way of Plaxico Burress at a moment's notice. Add in the uncertainty of where he'll play in 2009, and it gets even sketchier. After signing a one-year $650K contract last offseason, he told Jon Gruden that the Bucs were getting a lot more than they were paying for. And he was right. Now it's time for Antonio to get paid, and he just had the season of his life so his agent could show him the money this offseason. I think he's going wherever the biggest money is this offseason. Will that be Tampa? What if it's not? Even if he stays out of trouble, would Bryant match this year's production without the friendly confines of Gruden's split end role?

Personally, I'd just assume get something of value from him and move on with other players. His package isn't something I place a lot of value on, but I know there are owners who really like his future value. And it's quite possible they're right and I'm wrong. He definitely has the talent to produce WR2 numbers for the next five seasons if he can keep his head on straight. I'd just rather someone else was invested in that stock.

For a perfect Antonio Bryant Rorshach inkblot test, read this very lengthy, very thorough article on Bryant's history by Yahoo's Sean Jensen. I read it and see a bright but immature young man who doubles as a righteously indignant egomaniac. Others read it and see an obscenely talented receiver who was never given the chance he deserved in the NFL.

Just for gits and shiggles, I'm going to put all three of these questions up for vote on the right sidebar.

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Daily Dose | Eagles Soar, Titans Tumble

With Aaron Gleeman being dispatched to Vegas to cover the MLB winter meetings last week, I've been sharing Rotoworld's Football Daily Dose duties with Mark St. Amant. I'll be up on Rotoworld's front page on Tuesday & Thursday mornings the rest of the season while St. Amant handles Wednesdays & Fridays. Here's Tuesday morning's dose:

With the obvious caveat that they were facing an overmatched Browns team, the Eagles put on a dominant performance for the third straight game since Donovan McNabb's Week 12 benching. As ESPN's Steve Young pointed out after Monday night's laugher, Philly is one of the few teams in the NFC right now that can score 30 points in a game while holding their opponent to less than two touchdowns.

Just three weeks after the epitaphs for McNabb's Eagles career and Brian Westbrook's season were being etched in stone, Andy Reid's squad is the one Wild Card candidate that no contender wants to face. If they can continue their stalwart play against a crumbling Redskins team this week, Philly will host Dallas in a possible winner-take-all final week matchup that will determine who gets into the playoffs and who stays home.

Now that the Giants are struggling to run the ball, pass protect, and gain separation in the receiving game, the NFC is up for grabs for the first time all season. Meanwhile, McNabb has directed an improved offense while completing 69 percent of his passes for 741 yards and a 7-to-1 touchdown/interception ratio. Over the same time period, Westbrook has totaled 400 yards and six touchdowns to generate a consistent ground attack. Throw in DeSean Jackson as an playmaking wild card, and Philly's offense may be in better shape than it's been since the Week 2 barn-burner at Dallas. Even better, their defense has almost completely shut down opposing passing games while remaining strong against the run. As improbable as it seemed on Thanksgiving Day, the Eagles are a legit contender in the NFC.

Did your fantasy season end Sunday? Check out Rotoworld's new weekly fantasy game: Snapdraft. Draft your team this week, and get a cash payout by next Tuesday.

The AFC, on the other hand, presents a team going in the opposite direction. Following their one-point loss to the Texans, Tennessee is in danger of backing into the playoffs on the heels of three straight losses. Not only will the Titans be without their All-Pro caliber defensive line tag-team of Albert Haynesworth (sprained MCL) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (minor groin surgery), there are also whispers that the team will rest some of their key players the next two weeks against the 11-3 Steelers and 10-4 Colts.

Coach Jeff Fisher told SI's Peter King earlier in the year that he would not sit his players down the stretch, but he could be waffling. Still, we remain skeptical that Fisher will employ the overly passive "resting" strategy with AFC homefield advantage on the line. The 2007 Giants created a blueprint for riding momentum into the playoffs, and the Titans aren't likely to spit in the face of both common sense and conventional wisdom by mailing it in against the top two AFC contenders in Weeks 16 and 17.

Fisher is one of the best coaches in the NFL, but the flippancy he sported throughout the Texans game is disconcerting. It wasn't just the crucial late-game decision to eschew the long Rob Bironas field goal attempt in favor of the low percentage deep ball. The greater issue was the complete abandonment of the team's running game while continuing to put the ball in an erratic Kerry Collins' hands despite trailing by less than a touchdown. It was almost as if he was willing Collins to prove to him, to his team, and to the NFL that the journeyman passer could carry the Titans to victory if defenses insist on stacking the box with eight or nine defenders. Fisher desperately wanted to show the AFC that his team is not afraid to throw the ball. The problem is, Collins just isn't good enough. Fisher gambled -- and lost big.

Now the Titans are riding a sketchy quarterback, an injury-ravaged defense, and the probability of a demoralizing three-game losing streak into the playoffs. The stars had been aligned in favor of Tennessee for the first three months of the season, but it's quite possible that their once-indomitable coach is letting the season slip away down the stretch.

Two-Minute Drill: Long-time Chiefs President/GM Carl Peterson resigned (or more likely forced out), but Herm Edwards remains employed … As does Bills coach Dick Jauron, after signing a three-year contract extension following Sunday's error-filled loss to the Jets … Tarvaris Jackson, fresh off a four-touchdown performance, will start against Atlanta in Week 16 … Jon Gruden plans to name a starting QB by Wednesday, and he's hoping it's Jeff Garcia … The Lions will stick with Dan Orlovsky for another week … Coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn't believe that Anquan Boldin's mid-season head injury is affecting his play, but he does worry that Boldin is being overused in the offense … Broncos waived would-be RB sleeper Cory Boyd … Fellow Bronco Selvin Young could be left out of the offense after losing a key fumble against Carolina … LaMont Jordan played a season-high 16 snaps against the Raiders … Titans owner Bud Adams still considers Vince Young the quarterback of the future … Bucs DE Greg White has officially changed his first name to "Stylez" in a nod to the 1985 Micheal J. Fox classic, Teen Wolf. Next step: van surfing.

Red Zone: According to coach Tom Coughlin, Brandon Jacobs (knee) is uncertain to practice Wednesday. NBC's Andrea Kramer reported Sunday night that the "tentative plan" was for Jacobs to play in the NFC clash of the titans against the Panthers … Tony Dungy expects both Joseph Addai and Bob Sanders to return Thursday against the Jags … One half of the Vikings' Williams Wall, Pat, will miss the rest of the regular season and possibly the playoffs with a broken right scapula … Coach Jim Haslett revealed that Steven Jackson did not suffer a concussion against the Seahawks, so he's likely to avoid the injury report this week … Santana Moss did suffer a concussion, but the team anticipates him being fine for Week 16 … Jason Campbell is dealing with an elbow injury but is expected to practice Wednesday … Though Jason Witten has a slightly sprained ankle, the Cowboys don't foresee him missing any game time … WR Roy Williams is fighting plantar fascia, which is almost certainly limiting his production … Chargers WR Malcom Floyd was hospitalized with a collapsed lung, but he has a chance to play in Week 16 … Matt Hasselbeck is expected to miss a third straight week with back troubles … … After a disappointing season, Bills rookie WR James Hardy tore his ACL in Week 15.

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