Monday, February 28, 2011

The Best Page in the Universe

The logo for "The Best Page in the Universe"
The Best Page in the Universe

For those of you who have never visited Maddox's website, I strongly suggest you click the above link and do so. I've been reading this guys page since middle school and he's hilarious and right 80-90% of the time.

The whole premise of the site is that he writes about things/people that either piss him off of he likes and does so in hilarious fashion. He's also really smart and good at developing plausible arguments.

I also love the way he tackles hate mail and posts it on his site. I can only hope that someday I will receive hate mail and meet it with the same biting wit and sarcasm that Maddox is able to.

I don't have much else to say other than start reading this dude's site, it's seriously awesome. I'm more than happy to be giving him some free advertising. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Top 10 N64 games

One of the most important symbols of my formative years

As my readers know, I love to compile top 10 lists. But so far all of my top 10s have been football related. Well my adoring fans, that's about to change. I've stepped out of the box and put together a list of my top 10 favorite classic N64 games! Any male from my generation should identify with this list. Prepare to have your faces melted!

*Disclaimer: Before you crap yourselves and berate me for not having Goldeneye or Perfect Dark (which I believe is WAY over-rated) on this list, let me just say I understand how important they were to the developement of the FPS genre (which I love) and games in general. However, I never owned either game and after playing them several times, I have never fallen in love with either. Remember, this is MY top 10 favorites. Not top 10 best-sellers or anything else.

10. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater:
This game is on my list not only because of what it was, but what it turned into. This was the first of a long ling of incredibly awesome Tony Hawk skating games, my all time favorite of which was Tony Hawk's Underground for Gamecube. Pretty much every guy my age remembers that first Warehouse level, collecting "S-K-A-T-E", and busting tricks on the halfpipe. A true classic.


9. Yoshi's Story:
This is a vastly under-rated and fun game in my opinion. You can play it over and over and never get bored with it because there are so many ways to play through the story. It follows a band of young yoshis who's Tree of Happiness was stolen from them by none other than Baby Bowser. Players go through many levels of a storybook as Yoshis eating various fruits and growing happier en route to being reunited with their beloved tree. It's worth a try if you've never played it.

8. Super Smash Bros.:
Although it pales to its sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee, in comparison, the original Smash Bros. was an innovative concept and a blast to play. Melee is probably one of my all time favorite games and so its predecessor deserves a place on this list for that reason if nothing else. For the first time, all of your favorite Nintendo characters across many genres were on one game with one purpose: to beat the living crap out of each other. I've also always loved how the worlds of these characters were incorporated in the game as well.

7. Super Mario 64:
Mario 64 was the first ever 3-D adventure players could take on as the beloved italian plumber and it didn't disappoint. The plot was the same as it always is. Bowser has taken Peach hostage, and in this case her entire castle too, and it's up to Mario to save the day. There are so many missions, levels, and challenges in this game it's almost overwhelming. But every bit of it is fun and rewarding.


6. Donkey Kong 64:
What an awesome game. It was essentially DK's version of Mario 64 with some humor. King K. Rool replaced the role of Bowser and rather than collecting stars, DK and his primate pals strove to recover DK's beloved golden bananas. This was also an extremely deep game full of extra challenges and features like weapons and instruments for each character. And who can forget the DK rap that opens the game? All I have to say is: "Walnuts, peanuts, pineapple smells, grapes, melons, oranges, and coconut shells."

5. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron:
As an enormous Star Wars fan and nerd, this game has to be high on my list. Of the many fantastic games across many platforms that focus on the Star Wars galaxy, this was the first one that was REALLY good. Shadows of the Empire had its moments, but just wasn't quite up to snuff. Rogue Squadron centers around the many flight missions undertaken by Luke and the rebels between Episodes IV and V, which is even better if your a nerd like me. The way to get the most out of this game is through cheat codes. Only through them can you unlock secret missions and ships like a tie interceptor, the Millennium Falcon, and even a flying Buick (go figure). It's also worth noting that Rogue Squadron featured some of the best graphics available on N64.

4. Mario Kart 64:
I have never met a single person who played N64 and did not LOVE this game. After saving the world from Bowser, Mario and his pals had a lot of free time on their hands (as evident in multiple N64 titles). There was time for golfing, tennis, and even a life-sized board game. But the most awesome of all these excursions was none other than Go-Kart racing. I could still play this game for hours with friends and never get bored. No other character driven racing game even comes close. Mario Kart is far and away the King. Suck it Crash Bandicoot.

3. Paper Mario:
I LOVE this game! I've never figured out why it gets a bad rap. I've beaten the game multiple times and always had fun doing it. The story is engaging (although it is at its root the same as every Mario adventure: rescue Peach from Bowser) and full of humor. There's plenty of side missions to keep you busy and you get the help of party members on your quest. The battles are turn-based (different than any other Mario title) which gives the game a whole-nother dimension which I really enjoy. Plus the paper characters on 3D backgrounds make the graphics pretty timeless. I strongly recommend this game if you've never played it.

2. Star Fox 64:
Wow. I'll try to do this game justice in just a few sentences. Probably in my top 5 or 6 favorite games of all time on any console. Most N64 fans including myself can quote half of the game. There's just so many different ways to beat the game and I never get tired of trying them all. The concept of flying straight (for most of the game) and shooting various enemies is simple, but so much stinking fun. Plus there's the option of using other vehicles like tanks and subs on certain levels. And there's always the wisdom of Peppy Hare, which transcends the video game world. DO A BARREL-ROLL!

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
This game also cracks my list of top 5 games of all time. Without a doubt the best N64 game ever. This game is beyond deep. In fact, to this day I have never completely beaten it (I've actually just recently begun this undertaking again and am determined to finish the job this time). Besides the long main story, which is very... well just awesome, there's no end to the side missions, mini-games, and bonus objectives to be completed. The land of Hyrule is as vast and alive as any could possibly be on the N64. Plus, I believe this is the only game in which you can play as Link both as a child and an Adult (other than Super Smash Bros.). This is the very best of an absolutely superb series that is the Zelda series. And let's not forget, you can ride a horse as an adult in this game! An awesome feature that, in my opinion, was not done well again in a game until just recently in Red Dead Redemption (thank God for the ressurection of the Western genre). This game is just great. If you haven't played it, you've probably been living under a rock for 20 years or are just a girl. Regardless of these restrictions, you should try it if you haven't. It is original, it's a blast, and it's nothing less than a true gaming classic! Forget Link, this game is the true Hero of Time!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NFL Draft Preview


With the NFL scouting combine officially beginning today, I figure it's only right to post my official preview of the 2011 NFL Draft. I will simply post how I believe each pick of the first-round will go down and a brief analysis. Once the draft has happened, I'll post analysis of the Cowboys' and Jets' draft classes and a review of each TCU player selected. Fun Stuff! Anywho, let's get this party started!

MY 2011 MOCK DRAFT:

1. Carolina Panthers:
Pick: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Analysis: Of the Panthers' many needs, their front seven are some of the most glaring. Barring any change due to the combine, Fairley appears to be the best in a stacked class of defensive linemen. Carolina desperately needs a solid presence in the middle and Fairley presents not only a great run-stopper but a formidable Warren Sapp-esque pass rusher as well. We saw the way he dismantled Oregon's zone read in the BCS championship, and if this production continues, he'll be someone the Panthers can begin to rebuild their defense around.

2. Denver Broncos:
Pick: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Analysis: This pick will come down to Bowers or LSU's Patrick Peterson. The Broncos defense is in shambles, so they can't go wrong with either pick. The reason I believe they'll go with Bowers over the equally versatile Peterson is that Bowers could fill needs at either DE or OLB (assuming Elvis Dumervil can't play at the same level as past seasons). Denver will most likely be looking at some scheme changes under John Fox as well and Bowers fits the bill as a Fox player more so than Peterson, in my opinion.

3. Buffalo Bills:
Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Analysis: I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the Bills go for shock value and take Cam Newton. However, quite frankly the Bills have far too many other needs to roll the dice on a hit-or-miss QB that will likely backup Ryan Fitzpatrick for his first two years. If the Bills are smart, they'll fill a need at OLB with Miller. He's got great pursuit speed and will be a considerable asset to a struggling defense.

4. Cincinnati Bengals:
Pick: AJ Green, WR, Georgia
Analysis: Although the Bengals would probably be better off selecting a good pass-rusher like Robert Quinn, I have a feeling that they won't be willing to pass on the talent and upside presented by Green. TO simply did not work out as expected and Cinci does need someone to complement Ochocinco (who may not be back either). Green gives the orange and black a complete receiving option. He has great size and speed and is a great route-runner as well. He also has outstanding toughness, which separates him from many WR out of college.

5. Arizona Cardinals:
Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Analysis: Due to the retirement of Kurt Warner and the miserable failure that is Matt Leinart, Arizona is in desperate need of a QB. Blaine Gabbert is a much safer option than Cam Newton and seems to be a good fit for the Cardinals' system. He's got a good work ethic and and can chunk the ball downfield (which is what the Cards want). He also is more accurate than people give him credit for.

6. Cleveland Browns:
Pick: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Analysis: The Browns could really use a solid WR to help Colt McCoy on offense, but top 10 is generally a tad high to go with a WR unless they are a sure thing like Green. Although Quinn and his lack of recent playing time present a small risk as well, I think they'll go with him because of his upside. Cleveland is in great need of a good pass-rusher like Quinn. Don't be surprised if the Browns trade down either.

7. San Fransisco 49ers:
Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Analysis: San Fran could certainly use a high caliber DT like Marcell Dareus, but I just can't imagine that they'd pass on the phenomenal talent of Peterson if he falls to 7th. CB is another need the 49ers have and Peterson and his versatility more than fills that need. He very well could be the best all around player in this draft and would be an outstanding addition to any defense, namely the 49ers.

8. Tennessee Titans:
Pick: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Analysis: Tennessee is starting over, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be the team willing to take a chance on Cam Newton and rebuild their franchise around him. It's a potentially risky move, but there aren't really any other high caliber, first round prospects to fill their needs. If they don't take Newton, I think there is a high likelihood they'll trade down. But like I said, I have a good feeling that this is where the Heisman trophy winning cheater will land.

9. Dallas Cowboys:
Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Analysis: After a season as disappointing as last years', the 'Boys could go any number of directions. Amukamara is the popular projection and I tend to agree with it. Mike Jenkins fell off the planet last year and Terrance Newman isn't getting any younger. The biggest upside to picking Amukamara is that he is big enough that he could likely make a seamless transition to safety (a glaring need for a long time now) and be successful. He will probably be the highest rated player left on Dallas' board and I see no reason why they won't take him.

10. Washington Redskins:
Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama
Analysis: The Redskins need a QB BAD! But if the draft plays out like I've predicted, there will be no QBs left that DC will be willing to take in the first round. Dareus is highly ranked and is versatile enough to play tackle or end (both needs on the 'Skins defense). Although needs at QB, RB, and WR outweigh those on defense, Washington likely won't be willing to spend a #10 pick on a less valuable player than Dareus. I believe there is an outside chance that they may take Mark Ingram here, I think they will stay safe, take Dareus, and meet their offensive needs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th rounds.

11. Houston Texans:
Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Analysis: Houston's secondary is hurting worse than the Cowboys' and Smith will be a good place to start fixing. He's a solid option, coming out of the Big 12, where he proved he can come up and hit guys as well as cover well. Houston could also use a DT, but this is another situation where Smith's value will outweigh that of any available DTs.


12. Minnesota Vikings:
Pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Analysis: Here's another team in desperate need of a QB but could face the same problem as Washington. Lucky for the Vikings (at least as far as the draft goes), they also need a lot of help on D-line. The Vikings D-line, though good, is aging and badly needs some youth. Adrian Clayborn is a big, run-stopping DE that will fit their system nicely.


13. Detroit Lions:
Pick: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
Analysis: The Lions need a CB BAD! So bad that they will probably be willing to make a bit of a reach and go ahead and grab Williams at 13. Williams isn't on the same level as Smith or Amukamara, but he is still a talented DB who can help a struggling defense. The Lions could possibly go OLB here and take Akeem Ayers, but I think it's more likely they address their most pressing need.


14. St. Louis Rams:
Pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Analysis: I have no doubt that if Jones is available, the Rams will take him at 14th. Bradford has lived up to the hype and then some, so now the Rams need to build around him and give him some good weapons to throw to. Jones is the first step. He has performed well as a young player in a tough SEC, and I believe he will be able to carry over his success to the NFL.


15. Miami Dolphins:
Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Analysis: Miami should go one of two places with this pick, RB or C. RB is the bigger need and Ingram presents a great talent that will also sell tickets. There is no guarantee that Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will be resigned, and even so one can't stay healthy and the other is getting old. If both RBs stay Dolphins, then Miami will likely take Mike Pouncey. But if they go, Ingram will be a Dolphin.


16. Jacksonville Jaguars:
Pick: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Analysis: The Jaguars have a number of defensive needs. If they don't take Smith here, I believe they'll take safety Rahim Moore. However, I feel like they'll take Smith as he presents the greatest upside. A better pass-rush will also do a lot to help Jacksonville's struggling secondary.


17. New England Patriots (from Raiders):
Pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Analysis: The Patriots need to infuse youth into their ever aging defense and OLB is the first place they need to do it. The Pats ought to take Ayers here for fear that he will otherwise be gone by the time they pick again at 28th. An athletic LB like Ayers will be a nice fit for Belichick's aggressive 3-4 defense.


18. San Diego Chargers:
Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
Analysis: The Bolts need some help on the outside of their D-line. With such a deep draft for D-linemen they have a number of options still remaining. Jordan is the highest rated remaining DE and is a better fit for the 3-4 with his quickness.


19. New York Giants:
Pick: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Analysis: The Giants will likely be the first team to take an O-lineman in this years' draft and Solder will likely be where they look. Solder anchored Colorado's offense this year and should be able to do much of the same for a Giants line that needs some help on the outside.


20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Pick: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Analysis: The Bucs need help at RB and various defensive positions. Watt will likely be the best player available to meet one of those needs. He doesn't have blazing pass rushing speed (which could be the only reason Tampa might look elsewhere for this pick), but he is big and consistent. He could do a lot to help the Bucs' defense.


21. Kansas City Chiefs:
Pick: Corey Liugent, DT, Illinois
Analysis: The Chiefs have a number of first-round caliber options from which to choose to meet their most pressing needs (DT, OT, and OLB).  I feel like they'll take a DT here as Liugent will probably be the highest player left on their board. There will continue to be more options at OT and OLB, but this will probably be KC's only chance at a DT of this caliber.


22. Indianapolis Colts:
Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Analysis: The Colts should take Smith he to rejuvenate their O-line. As is the case with KC, Smith will probably be their highest rated remaining player. He will be a big help  in protecting an aging Peyton Manning.


23. Philadelphia Eagles:
Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin 
Analysis: The Eagles will be primarily looking to add depth at various positions. In this case, Carimi may actually present an upgrade to a current starter. Whether he starts or simply adds solid depth, this pick is a win-win for the Eagles.


24. New Orleans Saints:
Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Analysis: The Saints will be looking for a RB in the 2nd or 3rd round, but as far as the 1st round goes, they will most likely be interested in upgrading their D-line. Wilkerson is the kind of under-the-radar player the Saints like to go after and is still very talented and highly rated.


25. Seattle Seahawks:
Pick: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
Analysis: The Seattle O-line needs improvement across the board, and Pouncey presents a very good option. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised however if the Seahawks opt to draft hometown hero, Jake Locker, to be their QB of the future.


26. Baltimore Ravens:
Pick: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
Analysis: The Ravens will likely go O-line or Secondary with this pick. Either way they will be looking for depth and heirs apparent. A have a feeling that they will go safety and get Rahim Moore into their system and earning playing time.


27. Atlanta Falcons:
Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Analysis: The Falcons need more consistency from the DE opposite of John Abraham or simply a backup for Abraham himself. Mark Kerrigan down as the 8th DE taken in the first round.


28. New England Patriots:
Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Analysis: If all goes according to plan, the Pats will be able to get their man at OLB and still pick up a solid OT in Castonzo. Both players will be upgrades to positions that are aging rapidly.


29. Chicago Bears:
Pick: Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU
Analysis: The Bears will likely use this pick to take an OT to help protect Jay Cutler. However, if the draft goes as I predict, their first round talent pool will have all but dried up. Still, O-line will be their focus for the first couple of rounds so Chicago should go for someone like Barksdale here.


30. New York Jets:
Pick: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Analysis: The Jets need youth and depth in their defensive front 7, specifically at OLB. Houston will provide just that. Rex Ryan loves aggressive, fast defenses and Houston fits that prototype better than DE Cameron Heyward. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jets take Randall Cobb here as an insurance policy either.


31. Pittsburgh Steelers:
Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Analysis: Yet another team in need of a good young OT to keep their QB standing up. Enter Derek Sherrod. They ought to improve their CBs in the following rounds as well.


32. Green Bay Packers:
Pick: Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
Analysis: As great as Green Bay's offense was last season, with Ryan Grant injured they were in need of serious help at RB. Thomas could be just the man for the job. He's a big complete back with a lot of speed to match his bruising ability. He could be special if the Pack decides to take him.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Artist of the Week: Led Zeppelin

LED ZEPPELIN

"Then as it was, then again it will be. Though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea."

Led Zeppelin is and was as close as you can ever get to an all-star team of a band. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones were among the best at their individual crafts. So much so, that two members of The Who suggested that such an immense collection of talent would "go down like a lead balloon". The idea struck a chord with the band, hence the name "Led Zeppelin". Rather than leading to a disaster, Led Zeppelin resulted in easily one of the greatest rock bands of all time. 

Every time I listen to Led Zeppelin, I rediscover just how amazing they are. Jimmy Page is easily one of the greatest and most innovative guitarists of all time. I simply cannot get enough of him in every single song. Robert Plant's voice and poetic lyrics are just as incomparable. And it would be unfair not to mention the incredible talents of John Paul Jones and the late, great John Bonham. 

One of the most amazing things about Led, is the way they managed to transcend genres. They pioneered hard-rock and through their bluesy-rock sound could assume many forms. Always though, their music and lyrics had the ability to surround you and penetrate your mind. Again I mention Plant and Page, but Plant's vocals were so deep and emotionally charged and Page's guitar so other-worldly and intense, there is simply no comparison. They created a sound that even today is unlike any other, and that is what makes them so awesome. 

Another thing about Led that I love and respect is their dedication to releasing only album-based rock. They refused to release singles because they saw the album as a complete and inseparably work of art (I agree, when an album is assembled correctly). They were just so good at what they did and never gave two craps about what the suits told them they ought to do. They did what they wanted and always succeeded. You gotta love a band that doesn't take crap from anybody and just plays what they know is good. There will only be one Led Zeppelin!

(Despite Led Zeppelin's belief in albums) 
My Top 5 Songs
1. Dazed and Confused
2. When The Levee Breaks
3. The Battle Of Evermore
4. The Lemon Song
5. Stairway to Heaven

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top 10 Missing Rings

"I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me."- Beck
As the Steelers continue to lick their wounds from their recent Super Bowl loss, I'm taking this post to recognize all of the teams that have come up short. For every one of the greatest teams that won the Super Bowl, there have been countless outstanding teams that just couldn't finish the job. And so I present to you, my Top 10 Best NFL teams that did NOT win the Super Bowl.

10. 2006 San Diego Chargers: This team went into the playoffs with a 14-2 record and a first-round bye. With an extremely prolific offense and an adequate defense, the possibility of San Diego capturing it's first ever Lombardi Trophy seemed within reach. They boasted stars such as Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Shawn Merriman, and Ladainian Tomlinson in the prime of his career. However, the Bolts surrendered their first win at home that season to the Patriots in a lackluster performance.

9. 1979 Houston Oilers: The city of Houston has been nothing short of snake-bit when it comes to NFL success. But 1979 was the closest that the often overlooked Oilers ever came to a Championship. It seemed the Oilers had finally built a formidable team around the bruising running of Earl Campbell.  Campbell was League MVP and Rushing Leader. The Oilers finished second in the AFC Central, behind the dynastic Steelers, and met their division rival in the AFC Championship as a wild card. The Steel Curtain keyed on Campbell, but Houston still had a shot at winning. Thanks primarily to an awful "no TD" call against Mike Renfro that took the wind out of the Oilers sails, Pittsburgh came away with the victory en route to their 4th Super Bowl Championship. 

8. 1984 Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins were dominant all year in '84. They rattled off 11 straight wins as Dan Marino posted over 5,000 yards passing and 48 TDs. At 14-2, they breezed through the playoffs until they met the 49ers in the Super Bowl. It was a heavyweight battle between the NFL's premier QBs: Marino and Montana. Unfortunately for Miami, it was a fight the Dolphins lost. The 49ers were well on their way to being the dynasty of the '80s.

7. 1981 San Diego Chargers: If there was ever a year that the Chargers should have won it all, '81 was it. Their offense, highlighted by Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow, was nothing short of unstoppable. It seemed they were the team of destiny after a legendary OT win over the Dolphins in the playoffs. But their season came to a grinding halt in the bitter cold of Cincinnati, as the Bengals beat them 27-7 in what became known as the Freezer Bowl. There's no telling where this Southern Cal team would sit amongst the best teams of all time had they not let the weather get the best of them in '81.

6. 2001 St. Louis Rams: "The Greatest Show on Turf" was arguably the best team in the league that year and seemed primed for a second Super Bowl title in 3 years. The offense was led by '99 Super Bowl MVP, Kurt Warner, Tory Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Marshall Faulk. The defense had made leaps and bounds in two years. They entered the playoffs at 14-2 and methodically waded through there NFC competition. They were favorites entering the game against the also-rand Patriots, who on the leg of Adam Vinatieri, launched themselves into a dynasty.

5. 1969 Minnesota Vikings: 1969 was to be the first of a long line of enormous Viking disappointments, specifically in the Super Bowl. The Vikings lost 4 Super Bowls in franchise history, but first they lost to the underdog and under-appreciated KC Chiefs. Fran Tarkenton and the Purple People Eater defense blew through the NFL with a 12-2 record. Everyone including the Vikings thought that a contest against the inferior AFL would be a breeze (Super Bowl III was clearly a fluke). But the Vikings clearly showed a lack of preparation for the game and for the second year in a row, the AFL bested their over-confident NFL counterparts.

4. 1990 Buffalo Bills: The Bills and their no huddle offense led by Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas could not be touched as they ran to a 13-3 regular season including an 8-0 home record. Bill Parcells knew that the only way his over-matched Giants could topple the AFC's giant in the Super Bowl, was to keep the ball away from their offense. New York did just that, with a Super Bowl record 40 and a half minutes of possession. In short, Scott Norwood and wide right can't take all the credit for Buffalo's misery. When this outstanding team had been beaten, it was all downhill for the Bills. Three more consecutive Super Bowl losses later and a handful of losing seasons and sub-par drafts, Buffalo is still looking for a winning formula. 


3. 1968 Baltimore Colts: The mighty Colts of the mighty NFL had no reason to believe that they would lose to the New York whoevers of the AFL. The Packers easily won the first two Super Bowls, so why would their fate be any different. At 15-1, Johnny Unitas and the Colts didn't belong on the same field as the Jets. The only problem was that the Colts felt that way, and their over-confidence bit them in the butt. The guarantee came true, the Cinderella AFL won it's first Super Bowl, and the NFL was changed forever.


2. 1998 Minnesota Vikings: One of the greatest teams in NFL history and yet they weren't even the latest on the list of Vikings teams to end with disappointment. These Vikings were stacked from top to bottom. Randall Cunningham at QB, John Randle at DT, Robert Smith at RB, and incomparable veteran Cris Carter and rookie phenom Randy Moss at WR. They finished the regular season 15-1, including 8 straight wins. It's worth mentioning that their only loss came against Tampa Bay by a mere 3 points. In the AFC Championship, the Vikings appeared all but assured of a Super Bowl berth. But the Atlanta Falcons had other plans, and after OT, came away with the 30-27 victory. Heartbreak in Minnesota seems to be a constant. 


1. 2007 New England Patriots: You can't beat undefeated... at least not on this list. The Giants certainly could. The team of the 2000s was charmed in '07 and looked like they were marching into NFL history. The city of Miami had a collective stroke as Tom Brady and the star-studded Pats reached 16-0... 17-0...18-0. The Pats had been all but crowned the greatest team ever when they met the New York Giants in the desert for the Super Bowl. Strahan and the Giants put Brady under more pressure than he had seen all year. With the help of some 4th quarter heroics, the Giants took the Pats from 19-0 to 18-1, Super Bowl runners-up, and the #1 spot on my list of losers. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wet Willies

I would just like to make my readers aware that the classy strip joint just west of Chapel Creek on I-30, known as "Wet Willies" has installed search lights on it's roof. This high end establishment is, no doubt, insuring that they will be visible from space in the coming months.

At first,the simply installed two standard search lights, but just recently they installed a third that burns almost as bright as the throne of God. I pass this club every night on the way home from my fiance's house and I'm not embellishing when I say this search light was visible before I even reached Aledo.

So If you ever see an abnormal glow on the horizon or hear of a downed plane west of FW due to a blinded pilot, you will know you have Willie to thank. It's people like Wet Willie and his go-get-em attitude that have made this country what it is today. What a guy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

TCU Baseball Preview

The tilted cap of doom
With the 2011 TCU baseball season beginning tonight against Kansas, I wish to offer my slightly belated preview of this year's TCU Baseball team.

Fresh off of yet another conference championship and a solid run in their first ever CWS appearance, the Frogs are ranked #1 in two polls and #2 in others. With Sophomore pitching phenom, Matt Purke, at the helm, the 2011 season seems as if it will have similar results.

There's no telling what will happen come tournament time, but that's a discussion for another blog. All I can say is that, as things look now, TCU has a very realistic opportunity at its first ever Baseball National Championship. 

Here are some notables heading into the season...
  • TCU is returning 7 starting defenders and all 3 starting pitchers. The biggest lose from last season is Catcher, Bryan Holaday, who was a clear leader of the team and clutch performer. It will be interesting to see how and if the next in line can fill his shoes.
  • Pitchers Matt Purke, Kyle Winkler, and Steven Maxwell and OF Jason Coats have all been tabbed pre-season All-Americans.
  • Returning hitters combined for a .330 batting average last year. Taylor Featherston alone hit an insane .465 at home (look out KU). Returning pitchers combined for a 3.08 ERA with 404 strikeouts. 
  • As mentioned before, all of the starting pitchers return. With another year of experience, this group should continue to assert its dominance. Their combined record in 2010 was 39-5. The sky is the limit for these three. 
  • Freshman pitcher Tony Rizzotti was the only newcomer to be drafted. He will be the new guy to watch when he makes it onto the mound.
  • Coach Jim Schlossnagle is 18 wins away from 400 career victories. 305 of those wins have come while at TCU (he's been here since 2003). He places 2nd all-time for wins in TCU history

Expect the Frogs to motor through conference play, as has become the norm, en route to another conference title.

This is sure to be a very exciting and magical year. There never has been a better time to be a Horned Frog! 

GO FROGS! BEAT THE JAYHAWKS!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top 10 NFL Uniforms

For those of us still suffering from football withdrawals, I've put together yet another Top 10 list (I've got tons of these suckers). Especially in today's game, how good your team looks on the field can be almost as important as how well they play. Well... not really, but looking good is a good thing. So, in honor of this fact, here's my list of my Top 10 favorite NFL uniforms.
























10. Houston Texans















It's probably just the Texan in me that loves these unis. I like the incorporation of the Texas Flag on the bull logo. I also like that blue is the primary color of these unis. It's just a really good look in my opinion. Although I'm not quite as crazy about the cherry popsicle alternate.


9. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have a classic and simple look (they've had the same uni since the 1950s). If it aint broke, don't fix it. The Colts have one of the best helmets in the league with the horseshoe and blue stripe. I've always loved solid white unis too, so I'm partial to their away look.



8. Pittsburgh Steelers

As much as I dislike the Steelers, they definitely have a classic and recognizable uni. Unique touches like the logo for the steel industry on only the right side of the helmet and the black and gold mixed together create a special and solid look. People who know nothing about football generally recognize the Steelers when they see them and that's partially thanks to a solid, long-standing uni.



7. New England Patriots: 

Simply put, the Patriots uniforms are patriotic. I'm fairly certain that if the USA had an olympic football team, their unis would look a lot like this. The logo is streamlined and looks great on a silver helmet. The red accents complete the look. The Pats' alternate is also a classic.





6. Oakland Raiders
Another simple, but iconic look. The black and silver just has an aura about it. It fits the Raiders reputation, city, fans, and mascot. The Raiders may not be doing much else but lose now-a-days, but at least they look good doing it.




5. Minnesota Vikings
First let me say I obviously love purple. And I've always like the vikings helmet decals that simulate a viking helmet's horns. But once the unis were revamped a couple years ago, I was sold. The current look is awsome and the many details and gold trim make it complete. Not to mention now the helmet is the same color as the rest of the uni.



4. New York Jets
Although the old Titans of New York uni is one of the ugliest in sports history, I've always loved the classic Jets look. Especially their all whites. They just look so good with the dark green as the secondary color. The original jets logo is also way better then the one used for a while in the 80s and 90s.


3. Arizona Cardinals

Yet another team whose unis were dismal until a recent revamping. I love the Cardinals unis across the board. They kept the old helmet, which looks great, and added new jerseys and pants with lots of details and well placed stripes. It's simple yet complex at the same time. Dang they look good.



2. San Diego Chargers
The Bolts' newer unis are nothing short of awesome. They totally personify the team's style and mascot. The contrast of colors is great. The Powder Blues don't only mirror a great throwback, but also simbolize the attitude of Southern California.





1. Dallas Cowboys
Classic, iconic, and just plain good looking. Nothing comes close to the Cowboys. Although the white is worn almost every game, the other two alternates are also solid unis. The silver and blue look great together and nothing beats the star. Some complain about the different shades of blue in the home whites, but I think they all mesh nicely. When it comes to looking good, nothing beats the Star, and nothing beats the Cowboys






Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Artist of the Week: Michael Jackson

MICHAEL JACKSON

"If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change"

Gone too soon. Michael is the King of Pop for a reason. He is arguably the single most talented person in the history of music. An amazing singer, dancer, actor, and producer/director. From start to early finish, Michael strove for nothing but the best his entire career. He was pushed (often too far as a child) and used every bit of his extraordinary talent.

You will never hear a more pure and incredible voice than Michael's as a child. He only perfected his craft as he got older. He was dedicated to putting everything he had into his shows and was just as devoted to his fans as they were to him. He forever changed pop music and set the standard for years to come. Also, one cannot talk about Michael without mentioning how he revolutionized the music video industry. One word: THRILLER.

Like many of my favorite artists, Michael had a passion for using his influence to change the world and help those in need. He was compassionate and a child at heart. Nobody was better at channeling their emotions through song and dance. It's mesmerizing to watch him in his element and dancing. It's a shame that so many people had such great misconceptions of him due to falsehoods in the media.

Michael never molested children. He cared so much about kids and would never do anything to hurt them. As his own childhood was virtually non-existent because of a life spent performing under a drill sergeant of a father, he spent his entire life trying to get back the childhood he lost. As far as Michael was concerned, there was nothing wrong with sharing a bed. I know I shared beds with boys lots of times as a kid. Michael had an innocent heart. It's thanks to a homophobic society that this idea was misconstrued. The parents of the "molested"kids were greedy and, like so many others, simply wanted to take advantage of Michael. Notice how both of the molestation cases were settled outside of court? Martin Bashir also contributed to a scewed view of Michael through his agenda-setting journalism. Jerk. Anyone close to Michael will say he was an awesome father. He shrouded his kids faces when they were young to protect them from kidnappers and help them to have as normal a life as possible with a father who was under constant scrutiny. They weren't abused, they were protected.

Michael did get a bit out of control with plastic surgery, but it was because his father was abusive and told him he was ugly as a child. When he grew out of his cute stage and reached adolescence, many others called him ugly and it scarred him. Michael's skin was white because he gradually bleached it to hide his vitiligo. Vitiligo is a real disease and Michael didn't want to be walking around blotchy, which would certainly lead to just as many headlines. 

And as far as Bubbles and Neverland ranch goes, what the heck is wrong with that?! I know for a fact that if I had that kind of money, I would probably own a chimp too! Leave Michael alone, geez. The majority of headlines like the elephant man's bones and the hyperbaric chamber are just plain made up. And yet people believed them. Give me a break.

The bottom-line is Michael was insanely talented and, from what I understand, a genuinely good person. Anyone with misconceptions about him should just listen to his song "Childhood". It basically explains exactly why he was the way he was. I see nothing wrong with Michael and would have loved to be his friend. He believed the world could be a better place if we had more love in our hearts. He did the best he could to live out that philosophy. It's a shame that he had some of the problems that he did as far as self image and sedative addiction. But in my opinion, we would all do good if we would attempt to see the world more like Michael. There will only be one King of Pop. RIP

My Top 5 Songs
1. Smooth Criminal
2. Thriller
3. Man in the Mirror
4. Another Part of Me
5. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TCU Police...

The Essential tool for chasing down renegade parkers
...are a bunch of presumptuous douche bags. Seriously, these guys are dicks and serve no practical purpose.

All I have ever seen these people do is write completely unnecessary, and often ticky-tacky parking tickets. As if the parking situation at TCU wasn't miserable enough, TCU police see it necessary to immediately crush anyone trying to catch a break. No joke, I saw one of these guys driving through a parking lot at 3:30 a.m. Sunday night stopping at every car to check its permit. Are you freaking serious?

And how about those cars? Nothing says respect my authority like a gas-guzzling Chevy SUV. Real cops don't even use those. What are they having to go off-road to catch students attempting to park in the grass. Please. Quit taking yourselves so seriously.

Don't give me any crap like, "well they must be doing a good job, there's no crime on campus." BS. TCU is under FWPD jurisdiction anyway! So in reality, TCU police serve virtually no purpose! The closest thing I've ever seen these "officers" do to regulating crime is one of them stopped a man from selling fake Louis Vuitton luggage on campus the other day. Heaven forbid any of our wealthy sorority girls carry anything but the best in designer luggage. God Bless You TCU Police! vomit*

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day


A Happy Valentine's Day to all! Whether you are single, dating, or married Valentine's is something we all can enjoy.

Although the "cool" thing to do now-a-days is to openly hate Valentine's Day, I feel anything but. I have never bothered myself with conforming to what everyone else is doing and I'm fairly certain that most Valentine hatred is a result of people wanting to have the cool and edgy opinion. BS, whatever. I love Disney Movies, The Notebook, and Valentine's Day, so deal with it.

For me, Valentine's is another excuse for me and my best friend/fiance to have a special evening together. There's nothing wrong with taking a day to show someone who is special to you just how much you care. Granted, you should show this love the other 364 days as well, but Valentine's provides the opportunity to do it in a special and meaningful way. And what's wrong with that?

Contrary to popular belief, if you're single, Valentine's day doesn't have to be a day to wallow in your loneliness. Rather than focus on the romantic side, simply take the opportunity to show or tell someone else in your life how important they are to you. A best friend or a mentor. I guarantee they will appreciate it and you will feel good that you expressed your feelings for someone you care about.

In conclusion, I would like to give a final shout out to my amazing fiance and girlfriend of four years. As much as it makes me vomit to see people "express their love" on the Internet (generally people make it a 'look at me' sort of proclamation rather than a sincere gesture) this is my blog, so I'll do what I want. I don't exaggerate when I say that she is my best friend in the entire world. She has literally changed my life for the better in the four years I've known her. We laugh together, can be serious together, and spend every moment together and never get tired. I never thought it was possible to love a person as much as I love and treasure her. I absolutely cannot wait to be married later this year and begin the journey of a lifetime with the ultimate co-pilot. I love you baby!

Happy V-Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Top 10 NFL Defenses

Ravens or Bears?
We continue to wade our way through football separation anxiety with another Top 10. The NFL's top 10 Defenses of All-Time. An often debated topic, this is where I stand on the issue. Enjoy!

10. 1975 Los Angeles Rams: Although they did not win a championship, the '75 Rams were a stout defense with a feared pass rush. Led by DE Jack Youngblood and LB Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds, the Rams posted a 12-2 record before falling to the Cowboys in the NFC Championship. They led the League in '75 with 9.6 points allowed per game. The Rams also had 5 Pro Bowlers on defense that year, with Merlin Olsen, Fred Dryer, and Isiah Robertson joining Youngblood and Reynolds. Something worth noting about this team is that they defeated the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers during the regular season by a score of 10-3. The Rams compiled 39 turnovers on the way to an NFC West Championship and the number 10 spot on my list.


9. 1969 Kansas City Chiefs: This was a team of redemption. After losing to the Packers in the first Super Bowl, the Chiefs stormed back on the heels of their defense to win Super Bowl IV in 1969. The '69 Chiefs were arguably the biggest and fastest defense that the NFL had ever seen at that time. It featured legends such as Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell at LB and Buck Buchanan at DT. Despite their defensive dominance, the Chiefs were frequent underdogs and entered the playoffs as a wildcard. The '69 playoffs was when their defense was most impressive. They limited the favored Jets and Raiders to a combined 13 points and then held the explosive Vikings offense to only 7 points in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs were first in takeaways with 47. Another noteworthy thing about this defense, is that they broke a taboo of the 60s by starting 8 Black players who other teams overlooked because of their skin. 
8. 1962 Green Bay Packers: Out of all of Lombardi's championship Packers teams, this defense was the greatest. They posted a 13-1 record en route to a 2nd consecutive NFL Championship. The defense featured 5 Hall of Famers including Henry Jordan, Willie Wood, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, and the incomparable Ray Nitschke at MLB. They led the NFL in interceptions (31) and fewest passing yards allowed (2,084). They won their first four games by a combined score of 109-14. This was a team that completely and thoroughly dominated the League from start to finish. They beat a New York Giants team in the championship that desperately sought revenge from the '61 championship game, and yet they could not muster an offensive TD against the Packers. This defense was the cornerstone of the Packers' 1960s dynasty.


7. 1971 Minnesota Vikings: The "Purple People Eaters" were, without a doubt, the best defense to never win a Super Bowl title. Their defensive line was anchored by two Hall of Famers in Carl Eller and Alan Page. They were first in the NFL in points allowed per game with 9.9. They went into the playoffs with an 11-3 record and the title of NFC Central champs, but lost at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion, Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings posted three shutout victories during the regular season. Although they are remembered for their suffocating pass rush and fearsome defensive line, this defense also featured a Hall of Fame free safety in the form of Paul Krause. The Purple People Eaters were consistently stalwart throughout the late 60s and 70s. They were right up there with Doomsday and the Steel Curtain.


6. 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs went from being one of the NFLs worst teams to Super Bowl Champions in 2002, entirely thanks to their defense. Their defense had a stud at every level: Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice on defensive line, Derrick Brooks at LB, Ronde Barber at CB, and John Lynch at safety. They were the first ever NFC South champs and crushed the Raiders and their #1 offense in the Super Bowl, 48-21. Speed was key on this defense. At times, it seemed their defense scored more points than the offense did. They were also clutch when shutting down mobile QBs like Vick and McNabb when they were at the top of their game.


5. 1971/1977 Dallas Cowboys: Both Doomsday I and II deserve a spot on this list, and because they were so close in time, I'm letting them share the 5th spot. Both Doomsdays featured Super Bowl MVPs and Hall of Famers. Names like Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan, Thomas Henderson, Harvey Martin, and Randy White are legends in both Texas and Canton. The Cowboys of the 70s were often called a finesse team because of Landry's complicated offense, but the defenses proved that there was nothing soft about these Cowboys. '71 and '77 were Championship seasons, but Dallas also reached the Super Bowl in '70, '75, and '78 where they lost to the Colts and Steelers. The point is, the Cowboys were consistently the best team in the NFC and twice they were the best in the land. Much thanks to Doomsday.


4. 1990 New York Giants: Many will raise cane and say that the '86 Giants deserve this spot, but I'm giving it two the '90 Giants for two main reasons. First, Phil Simms was injured most of the season and the defense carried the team to the Super Bowl almost on their own. Second, once in the Super Bowl, the Giants stymied the NFL's best offense in the Buffalo Bills and played a ball control game to win the game. Giant defensive greats like Jim Burt and Harry Carson were no longer on the team in 1990, but Carl Banks was still there and a certain other LB that many consider the best ever. I'm speaking of course, about Lawrence Taylor. He was feared by QBs and RBs alike. He played a complete game every time he was on the field and led this team to its second Super Bowl championship in 1990. 


3. 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers: Widely regarded as the best defense of the 70s, the Steel Curtain epitomized smash-mouth football. The '75 Steelers in particular were stacked from top to bottom with Hall of Famers. Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, "Mean Joe" Greene, Mel Blount, and LC Greenwood are just a few of the names from this defense that need no introduction. In '75 the Steelers held 7 opponents to single digit scores. They only allowed 17 touchdowns in the regular season and scored 2 themselves off of fumble recoveries. The Steelers won their second consecutive Super Bowl in '75 against the Dallas Cowboys thanks in large part to their defense. The Steel Curtain was balanced and aggressive. They could defend every aspect of the game and deserve most of the credit for the Steelers' dynasty of the '70s. 


2. 1985 Chicago Bears: It would be a mortal sin not to include the "Da Bears" and their vaunted 4-6 Defense in the top 2 of any defensive top 10. The revolutionary 4-6 was based entirely on pressuring the QB and it was sweepingly successful. Nobody could do anything against this defense. Besides the scheme, this defense also had its share of legends, such as Mike Singletary, Steve McMichael, Dan Hampton, and William "the Refrigerator" Perry. They displayed on of the most dominating performances in Super Bowl history, beating the Patriots 46-10. They finished the season 15-, including a 12-0 start. Their only loss came against none other than the Miami Dolphins, who were hell bent on defending their title as the NFLs only undefeated champ. The Bears forced 54 turnovers in '85 and two players finished with double-digit sacks.


1. 2000 Baltimore Ravens: In my mind, there was no better defense than the Ravens in 2000. Led by Ray Lewis, the Ravens defense WAS the team, and was the reason that they won the Super Bowl. Their offense just plain sucked, so the defense HAD to be exceptional. Outstanding players like Chris McAllister, Rod Woodson, and Sam Adams made their marks on this defense. They made a habit out of setting records. They allowed the fewest points in a season (165) and fewest rushing yards (970) and pitched 4 shutouts. From top to bottom, you could not find a weakness on this defense. All the Ravens ever had to do was put up 10-14 points on offense and the defense would win the game. As far as a defense goes, it simply does not get any better than that. I don't know that we will ever see another defense that's truly on the same level as this 2000 Ravens team.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

TCU Basketball: Is there a solution?


After a strong start, TCU Men's Basketball has yet again sunk into the depths of loserdom. The Frogs have lost 11 of their last 12 games and are 1-9 in MWC play. The MWC has two of the Nation's best Basketball teams in BYU and San Diego State, as well as quality teams in New Mexico, Utah, and UNLV (who beat TCU just yesterday). However that is no excuse for TCU's sub-par play. The Frogs will be entering the Nation's best Basketball conference, hands down, in 2012, and if we ever want to be competitive, something has got to change.

In a time gone by, (the late 90s) TCU Basketball was actually something that Frog fans could be proud of. But when Coach Billy Tubbs was fired in favor of Neil Dougherty, our Basketball program was effectively sentenced to death. Dougherty's complete inability to recruit coupled with a total lack of offense sent the program into a downward spiral. Jim Christian has since been hired to try and salvage the mess that is our basketball team.

Considering a sever lack of tools, Christian has actually manage to recruit a few halfway decent players. This year's team is certainly more talented than past years with players like Hank Thorns, Garlon Green, and Ronnie Moss (who is now suspended indefinitely). Yet the mediocrity continues.

As I see it, there are three main problems facing this program:
1. Recruiting: What makes recruiting so hard at TCU is that fan support for the Basketball team has become virtually non-existent from years of losing. Regardless of how good facilities are, quality players don't want to play in an empty home coliseum. Also, fans don't want to pack the house to watch a proven loser. It's a cycle that somehow needs to be broken for our program to improve. 
2. Depth: This also goes back to recruiting. This year in particular, we have a few good starters, but no quality 6th men. Another huge problem, (no pun intended), is a sever lack of a big man. TCU has not had a good big man since the Tubbs era. Kevin Langford was good a few years ago, but at 6-8, he still didn't take up very much space in the paint. 
3. Stupid Mistakes: This is most likely due to a coaching disconnect or lack of player motivation. Missing easy shots and lackluster defense are huge examples of this. Where our offense has improved somewhat under Christian, our defense has sucked. The first example that comes to my mind with missing shots came at home against Air Force on Jan. 29th. TCU took the game into OT against a poor Air Force team. Down by one point with 3 seconds left, Greg Hill missed a wide open LAYUP! TCU lost the game with Air Force breaking their 20 game road losing streak. Inexcusable. 

It's hard to explain why our Basketball team has had the wheels come off after beating teams like USC and Texas Tech early in the season. TCU was putting up scores like 99-72 and 96-79 and only lost to last year's Cinderella UNI by 4 points. Now we are missing game winning shots and at times barely breaking the 50 point plateau. 

As I said before, something has to change, and Christian may not be the man for the job. We need a coach that can get players to believe. If someone could get one really good player to come in with some role players, it could be enough to garner fan support and start our program on the track to relevance again. In my opinion, if Christian can't get us above .500 in the next 2 years, we will need to look elsewhere. 

We know a turnaround is possible. If Franchione was able to take our Football team from losers to bowl competitors in one year, it can certainly be done in basketball. Supposedly Bill Gillispie has shown interest in coaching at TCU. FOR GOD'S SAKES HIRE THE MAN!! He has turned around Texas A&M and UTEP in one year and now A&M is a perennial contender. I don't care about supposed disconnects with players, that's BS. The man can recruit and the man can win, and that's a heck of a lot more than anyone has done at TCU in a good 12 years.  


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Artist of the Week: The Beatles

THE BEATLES

"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out. It doesn't matter much to me."

The Beatles are, without a doubt, my favorite band. They have such a diverse catalog, from the fun-loving rock and roll of their early years to their more psychedelic and then pensive sides late in their career. There are so many things I love about this band. They did so much to advance music as a whole, pioneering distorted guitars, orchestras, and other strange sounds and instruments to complement their messages including sitars and harpsichords. 

The Beatles started by mimicking their favorite black American rock musicians and went from there. Although their early music was understandably more shallow than their later stuff, it is still a blast to listen to. They resonate the joys of youth and love.

My favorite dimension of the Beatles is their later years. When they decided to stop touring (a very controversial idea at the time) is when they started doing their best work. It began with Sgt. Pepper and grew from there. Songs from this era of The Beatles penetrates the consciousness in such a way that you don't get from any other musician. Their lyrics became deeply philosophical and sometimes intentionally nonsensical. This music could take you away to another place and make you experience thoughts you never thought possible. Granted, many of this music was the brainchild of a drug-induced stupor, but it still touches the mind in a powerful way. For a person like me who enjoys things that unusual and different, The Beatles really strike a chord with me. It's truly awesome stuff. 

When their psychedelic phase wore off, their deep and philosophical lyrics remained. They wrote a lot more ballads near the end that became standards of their catalog. Like Bob Marley, the Beatles mantra was if only the world would love one another, regardless of race or creed, it would be an amazing place, and that is certainly true. At the heart of all of their music is a spirit of fun and happiness. A spirit that encourages you to be yourself and believe what you believe, no matter what the world says. That's what I love about The Beatles. 

My Top 5 Songs
1. Blackbird
2. Strawberry Fields Forever
3. Come Together 
4. Within You Without You
5. All You Need Is Love

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 10 Football Factories

Every NFL great starts somewhere
Now that football season is officially over, the next thing fans have to look forward to is the quandary known as the NFL draft. As hit or miss as the draft can be, there are some NCAA programs that seem to consistently put some of the best talent on NFL fields. Since it is entirely too early to start any kind blog coverage for this years draft, I have decided to pay homage to some of these programs in a countdown of the 10 best All-Time Football Factories. Countless legends in the pros have come from smaller schools such as Walter Payton (Jackson State), Jerry Rice (Mississsipi Valley State), or my beloved LT (TCU). But some bigger programs have seemed to always produce players in bulk that have had great success on the next level.

The key to my top ten is not only sheer quantity of players drafted, but the percentage of those players that went on to have very successful careers. Let the countdown begin!

10. Pittsburgh: 
Current Players: 24
Hall of Fame: Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Mike Ditka, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Joe Schmidt
Super Bowl MVPs: None
Other Noteworthy Players: Darrelle Revis, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark May, Mark Stepnoski, LeSean McCoy
Synopsis: Although they may not turn any heads now-a-days in the Big East, Pittsburgh has a history of producing pro-caliber athletes. They have made good use of a fairly rich recruiting base in the Midwest, producing both key Super Bowl Champs and runners-up. Tony Dorsett and Dan Marino are names that particularly stand out.

9. Oklahoma:
Current Players: 31 
Hall of Fame: Tommy McDonald, Lee Roy Selmon, Troy Aikman (UCLA grad)
Super Bowl MVPs: Troy Aikman (UCLA grad)
Other Noteworthy Players: Adrian Peterson, Keith Jackson, Roy Williams, Tommie Harris, Sam Bradford, Mark Clayton, Andre Woolfolk
Synopsis: Despite being one of college football's most celebrated programs, Oklahoma has not produced great NFL talent as consistently as many would think. With 334 total players drafted all-time, a relative few of them turned out to be true studs in the League. Lee Roy Selmon, Adrian Peteron, and Keith Jackson have all left definitive marks. Then again players like Roy Williams are largely over-rated. There have also been so many players that were outstanding at OU, but never really shined in the pros, such as Billy Sims, Brian Bosworth, or Josh Huepel to name a few.

8. Syracuse:
Current Players: 24
Hall of Fame: Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Floyd Little, Art Monk, John Mackey, Jim Ringo, Al Davis
Super Bowl MVPs: Larry Csonka
Other Noteworthy Players: Donovan McNabb, Keith Bullock, Dwight Freeney, Marvin Harrison, Daryl Johnston, Joe Morris, David Tyree
Synopsis: The Orange have seen a considerable slip in recent years both on the field and in the draft, but their legacy precedes them. There is of course the incomparable Jim Brown, and many other fine RBs. Larry Csonka is a legend in his own right, as is Floyd Little. What makes Syracuse have a place on this list however, is not only its older talent, but the talent that they have produced recently enough to still be making an impact in the NFL. Marvin Harrison is now retired, but Bullock, Freeney, McNabb, and Tyree are all still key contributors. Thus keeping Syracuse relevant and on my list.

7. Michigan:
Current Players: 51
Hall of Fame: Elroy (Crazylegs) Hirsch, Dan Dierdorf, Tom Mack, Len Ford, Benny Friedman, George Allen, Bill Hewitt, Ralph Wilson Jr. 
Super Bowl MVPs: Desmond Howard, Tom Brady (twice)
Other Noteworthy Players: Charles Woodson, Ty Law, Braylon Edwards
Synopsis: The majority of celebrated Wolverines have come in recent years. Charles Woodson is one of the best DBs in the League and has been for sometime and Tom Brady's reputation precedes him. Also in recent years, Michigan his seeing a gradual decline in their number of successful NFL players, but they have produced enough through history to earn the 7th spot on my list. 


6. Texas:
Current Players: 49
Hall of Fame: Earl Campbell, Bobby Lane, Tom Landry, Tex Schramm
Super Bowl MVPs: None
Other Noteworthy Players: Ricky Williams, Steve McMichael, Roy Williams, Vince Young, Nathan Vasher, Quentin Jammer, Jerry Sisemore, Brian Orakpo, Tommy Nobis, Priest Holmes, Casey Hampton, Michael Griffin, Jerry Gray, Jamaal Charles, Cedric Benson
Synopsis: Texas owes it's spot on this list thanks to the recruiting Eden that is the State of Texas. A place where the Longhorns have seemed to have first pick for most of history. Texas continues to churn out  NFL talent year in and year out. The only problem with University of Texas players, is many of them (especially in recent years) have had a tendency to flame out and not stay consistent throughout their career. This is due to anything from personal issues (Vince Young, Ricky Williams) to discipline issues (Cedric Benson) to who knows what's wrong with them (Roy Williams). A lot of this is due to the culture at UT, one of zero discipline, where players have a sense of entitlement and that they are bullet-proof. This attitude doesn't often translate to the next level or real world. This is a Mack Brown era trend. If it weren't for this embarrassment, Texas would probably be higher on my list. Earl Campbell for example, is an exception to this rule. He gave of himself completely for his entire career and is rightfully regarded as one of history's best RBs.

5. Ohio State: 
Current Players: 49
Hall of Fame: Paul Warfield, Lou Groza, Bill Willis, Sid Gillman, Dick LeBeau, Jim Parker, Dante Lavelli, Ed Sabol
Super Bowl MVPs: Santonio Holmes
Other Noteworthy Players: Eddie George, Matt Snell, Orlando Pace, Jack Tatum, AJ Hawk, Mike Vrabel
Synopsis: Ohio State players have always been regulars in the Draft. The majority of successful Buckeyes in the pros have been linemen throughout the years, but recently a lot more skill players have risen to the top. Santonio Holmes and Eddie George are names that immediately come to mind. But for every success, there have been plenty of busts (Troy Smith, Ted Ginn). Ohio State has most consistently produced defensive talent, with names like Jack Tatum, AJ Hawk, and Mike Vrabel. OSU players have had a tendency to be hit or miss, like OU, but with 383 players drafted, they have a much higher percentage of success.

4. Alabama:
Current Players: 25
Hall of Fame: Joe Namath, Bart Starr, John Hannah, Don Hutson, Ozzie Newsome, Dwight Stephenson, Derrick Thomas
Super Bowl MVPs: Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath
Other Noteworthy Players: Ken Stabler, Shaun Alexander, Demeco Ryans, Cornelius Bennett
Synopsis: Alabama is 4th on this list because although they have not produced the same sheer numbers of draftees as Ohio State, (Bama has had 276 drafted), there are far more Alabama products that are considered some of the best ever at their positions. Joe Namath, Bart Starr, and Ken Stabler are all Super Bowl Champion QBs and are all HOF caliber (Stabler isn't in yet, but should be). Before the Jerry Rice era, Don Hutson was easily considered one of the best receivers of all time. He pioneered the WR position similar to the way Sam Baugh pioneered QB. Ozzie Newsome is a legend at TE. Shaun Alexander had a largely successful career and Demeco Ryans continues to be a successful LB for the Texans. With the resurgence of Alabama's football program, there are certain to be more NFL studs coming out of Tuscaloosa in the future.


3. Notre Dame:
Current Players: 40
Hall of Fame: Joe Montana, Nick Buoniconti, Paul Hornung, Alan Page, Dave Casper, John (Blood) McNally, George Connor, Wayne Milner, George Trafton, Earl (Curly) Lambeau
Super Bowl MVPs: Joe Montana (3)
Other Noteworthy Players: Joe Theismann, Tim Brown, Jerome Bettis, Mark Bavaro, Chris Zorich, Mike Golic, Aaron Taylor
Synopsis: Despite taking a serious dip in production lately, Notre Dame is 3rd on this list because few schools can match the amount of solid, legendary players that Notre Dame has fathered in the past. Only USC can claim more Hall of Famers than the Irish. Every Notre Dame Hall of Famer is a recognizable name and a phenomenal talent. Those not yet in the Hall are equally impressive names: Tim Brown, Mark Bavaro, Jerome Bettis. There's no telling how long Notre Dame will be in the hole, but they will have to spend a long time without any NFL talent to move down on this list.

2. Miami:
Current Players: 53
Hall of Fame: Ted Hendricks, Michael Irvin, Jim Kelly, Jim Otto
Super Bowl MVPs: Ray Lewis, Otis Anderson
Other Noteworthy Players: Sean Taylor, Edgerrin James, Chuck Foreman, Clinton Portis, Devin Hester, Russell Maryland, Brandon Meriweather, Santana Moss, Warren Sapp, Reggie Wayne, Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle, Ed Reed, Willis McGahee, Jonathan Vilma, Jeremy Shockey
Synopsis: It is an extremely rare occurrence to be watching pregame introductions of any NFL game, and not hear at least three players say they are from "The U". Miami players are everywhere and they are all really good. Every player I have listed above is most likely a future Hall of Famer. Even mediocre Miami teams have produced solid NFL players. The Hurricanes are every bit deserving of 2nd on this list.

1. USC:
Current Players: 43
Hall of Fame: Marcus Allen, Lynn Swann, OJ Simpson, Ronnie Lott, Ron Mix, Fran Gifford, Morris (Red) Badgro, Willie Wood, Anthony Munoz, Ron Yary, Bruce Matthews
Super Bowl MVPs: Marcus Allen, Lynn Swann
Other Noteworthy Players: Troy Polamalu, Clay Matthews, Junior Seau, Keyshawn Johnson, Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush, Sam Cunningham, Lofa Tatupu, Mark Sanchez, Brian Cushing, Steve Smith (Giants)
Synopsis: The only reason that USC is above Miami on my list is that they have managed to produce stellar talent not only in the last 25 years, but throughout all of NFL history. USC claims more Hall of Famers than any other university (11). And as with Miami, all of the noteworthy players I listed are also likely future Hall of Famers. What's is amazing about USC is, good or bad, they have always consistently churned out talent. There have been few, if any, lulls in production as with many other schools on this list. This is truly an achievement that USC can hang their collective hats on.