KAZ’S KORNER

 

I try to read as many Super Bowl stories as I can during the two weeks between the National Football League’s conference championship games and the actual Super Bowl.

Even if I spent most of my free time (and when you’re retired, you have quite a bit during the winter months) looking through the thousands of columns and media views on the upcoming event, I would just barely scratch the surface.

It’s quite amusing reading about the Philadelphia Eagles players buying dog-faced rubber masks that symbolize the fact that although the Eagles had the best record in the NFC, they have been dubbed as underdogs throughout the playoffs.

This also is true for Sunday’s Super Bowl LII where the New England Patriots are favored by around a touchdown.

One column in Monday’s Houston Chronicle pointed out that the last time the Philadelphia Eagles won a championship John F. Kennedy was the president-elect, “Ben Hur” had received the recent Oscar for Best Picture, “Gunsmoke” was the highest-rated television show and Cassius Clay had won an Olympic gold medal as a light-heavyweight.

“Yes, 1960 was a good year, and not just because the Eagles defeated Green Bay 17-13 as an underdog to win the title. That same year A.J. Foyt won his first Indy Car race, Elvis finished a two-year tour in the Army, Hugh Hefner established his first Playboy Club and Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind” reached No. 1 on the record charts,” the article added.

The Eagles have played–and lost—two previous Super Bowls and are hoping that the third time Sunday is the charm. They lost Super Bowl XV to Oakland 27-10 and Super Bowl XXXIX to these same New England Patriots 24-21.

Another article that appeared recently in USA Sports Weekly points out the motivational ploy Eagles’ Head Coach Doug Peterson used straight out of “Hoosiers” and “Rudy” and any other movie depicting a team that was given no chance to win.

There was even a video made with highlights of national media members predicting the Eagles would lose, with signs around the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex about how no one respected them.

However, Pederson’s real genius was concocting a game plan that made quarterback Nick Foles thrive.

“It’s officially time to retire the notion that the NFL is a quarterback’s league,” the article points out. “Not with Foles, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles and Minnesota’s Case Keenum all vying for a spot in the Super Bowl in conference games two weeks ago.”

That quarterback bubble burst when Baltimore’s Joe Flacco got hot for a month in 2013, led the team to a Super Bowl and essentially forced the Ravens into giving him a $120 million contract. Flacco became less than an average quarterback soon thereafter.

The same thing happened to Oakland’s Derek Carr, who has never started a playoff game, signed a deal last off-season making him the highest-paid player in NFL history, only for Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, owner of zero playoff wins, to break that same record weeks later.

Surrounded with the right talent, quarterbacks the likes of Keenum, Bortles and Foles can give a team 75% of what Stafford can for a fraction of the cost.

Tom Brady has been smart enough not to sign one of these cap-breaking deals. In 2017 he cost the Patriots as much as quarterback Mike Glennon cost the Bears. This is why the Patriots always win. They get the best quarterback ever for the price the Raiders should be paying Carr.

And with Brady at the controls—cut hand or not—I look for a high-scoring Super Bowl with New England winning 34-24!!

KWICKIES…The Cleveland Indians announced Monday that they no longer will use the face of the Native American chief after this upcoming 2018 baseball season. It appears the front office got tired being the target of protesters who claim it’s demeaning for any sports team to have a mascot depicting a Native American mascot.

The PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open held last weekend at Torrey Pines in San Diego ended in a three-way tie between eventual winner Jason Day, Great Britain’s Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer, who was eliminated on the first extra hole. What’s so unusual about this event is that the tourney was called due to darkness with Day and Noren still deadlocked after five extra holes. It was continued Monday morning where Day won on the sixth extra hole.

Orange’s Earl Thomas was the starting free safety for the NFC in Sunday’s rain-soaked Pro Bowl played at Orlando but wasn’t responsible for Delanie Walker’s touchdown grab in the end zone with 1:21 left to give the AFC a 24-23 victory. The victory was sealed when Denver’s Von Miller caused and recovered a fumble by Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff. The players on the winning team each received $64,000. But I don’t believe Earl was disappointed with the $32,000 his losing team received.

The Lamar Cardinals’ first black coach, John Payton, died last weekend at the age of 83. He was hired by athletic director J.B. Higgins in 1970 to coach offensive backs under Vernon Glass. Payton was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2003.

And speaking of the Lamar Cardinals, they used a solid defense late in the game to subdue my alma mater McNeese and win a Southland Conference basketball game 86=80 Saturday at the Montagne Center in Beaumont. The Redbirds came back from a 30-13 first-half deficit and tightened their defense just before the intermission to improve their SLC record to 5-4. It marked the first time in 24 years Lamar has beaten the Cowboys in three straight games. McNeese drops to 4-4 in league play.

JUST BETWEEN US…Congrats to Houston Astros’ super-star second baseman Jose Altuve who received his American League Most Valuable Player trophy Sunday night at the 95th Annual dinner held by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The 27-year-old Altuve also was named as the New York BBWAA chapter’s postseason MVP, an honor he shared with teammate Justin Verlander. Other Astros receiving accolades at the fete were outfielder George Springer and shortstop Carlos Correa.