Vince Lombardi once said, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” This begs the question, from a pure secular perspective, is there anything that is not possible? As Nike implies with the phrase, “Just do it.” It is not the question of whether it can be done, but instead whether you believe you can do it. As we labor through the last weekend of the year absent of football, I would like to examine some recent events in sports where the line of possible and impossible has blurred.
- Brett Favre. Last year we had Favre Gate, this year the football world waited on baited breath for whether he would take the helm guiding the Vikings, conveniently one of the Packers most hated rivals. Finally, we were informed by the first ballot Hall of Famer, “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I didn’t feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable.” Favre would never play in the NFL again. It was impossible. But then August 18 happened. The impossible was again possible as Favre decided that he was not quite finished with his personal play box otherwise referred to as the NFL. I really like Favre or perhaps it is more accurate to say I really like watching him play the game of football. The Vikings had no shot of winning the Super Bowl this year. Now arguably the best defense and most fearsome running game now has an adequate passing game to complement them with Favre paired with the constant deep threat receivers of Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice. The Super Bowl is now possible for Minnesota. Unfortunately, I think the incomparable Scoop Jackson identifies the mood of the football community with his article “What if Brett Favre were a woman?” I guess time will tell as to whether it worth dancing the dance with Mr. Favre.
- Tiger Woods. He is an amazing athlete and in the discussion as perhaps the greatest golfer of all time. He has been named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year a record-tying four times, and is the only person to be named Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year more than once. However, these facts have blinded the sports media during the past several years to pose the question at every PGA Major event: Tiger or the field. To be fair, his list of accomplishments at Majors are considerable. He is second all time in PGA Major victories, one of two players to win all four majors twice and the only player to have won multiple Majors in consecutive years. Starting from the first year Tiger won a Major in 1997, there have been 52 Majors. Tiger has won 14 or about 27 percent. This is a significant number, but during this time there were four entire years that he did not win a single Major: 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2009. The PGA Major tournaments consist of the top players in the world with varied and distinguished course terrains. It is irresponsible to suggest that one man should be considered the the front runner for every single tournament with no consideration to what players are playing the best golf at the time as well as those whose game is best suited for the current course in question. It is lazy journalism. Less than 30 percent odds is not something I wish to place my lot behind. Is it impossible that Woods could win every Major, no, but its highly improbable.
- The Diva Receiver. To make a list of the those that have fit this profile since the 80’s would quickly begin to look like the Bible’s Book of Numbers. Long. Recent events suggest that there is strong reason to believe that the final curtain is falling for the diva receiver in the NFL, though we still have the entertaining examples of Ochocinco and that of the embarrassing from Brandon Marshall. I believe the era will be capped by the imprisonment of Plaxico Burress. A remarkable interview by Jeremy Schaap with Burress on E:60 highlights that his current circumstances may not be those resulting from that of a Diva mentality, but instead that of the targeted athlete that was so well documented in the article in ESPN The Magazine titled Living Scared following the tragic death of Sean Taylor. So is the Diva wide receiver in the NFL on its way out? I have hope that it is possible.
- Eric Bruntlett. A post about the possible of impossible in sports would not be complete without paying tribute to Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play. It was only the second in major league history to end a game and the 15th overall. Sometimes overcoming the impossible involves just a bit of luck because as Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
Posted in sports
Tagged 19th Hole, Brandon Marshall, Brett Favre, E:60, Eric Bruntlett, ESPN, Nike, Ochocinco, Plaxico Burress, Tiger Woods, Vince Lombardi
What a difference a year makes. The U.S. may now matter in two global sports that in years recent, we were an afterthought. Favre Gate of ’08 is now mere nuisance and the NBA is filled with Conference altering changes. I also no longer loath the month of July as its significance in the sports landscape is quite plentiful.
I have been quiet on this site for exactly two months. This is to long for something meaningful not to result from my absence. Today is a very important date. It is the day I made steps to seriously pursue a passion, a direction. Today I began developing a site, and similar to GDGT it will be a least a few months before it is fully unveiled. July is an exciting month. Happy Birthday America.
- GOOAAALLLL! That is right. Its summer so it is time to discuss elite soccer again. For 45 minutes, a full half, U.S. soccer was on top of the world. The Confederations Cup saw the U.S. leading Brazil 2-o, unfortunately the game ended 3-2 in favor of the South American power house. Brazil winning the Confederations Cup was not unexpected. The U.S. playing in the final and competing drew comparisons for many to the Miracle on Ice. While in no way does the Confederations Cup have similar importance to the Olympics, this would have been an unprecedented milestone in American soccer. Even with the loss, it represents the first time the U.S. competed in the final for a significant global soccer championship. World Cup ’10, yeah U.S. soccer, you have piqued my interest.
- The NBA Draft. Where to begin. Blake Griffin was selected first in the Draft. The Timberwolves selected three point guards while still having Sebastian Telfair under contract. There is a reason some teams stay in the gutter. You heard it here- some where between first and last – Ricky Rubio will never play for Minnesota. Perhaps because some have suggested comparisons to Iverson, I am hoping for great things from Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings. Here is a great counter criticism post regarding his recent trials. Oh yeah, inexplicably, the Spurs some how landed DeJuan Blair at pick 37. There is a reason some teams always compete for a Championship.
- Wimbledon. In Ladies singles, as anticipated, the Williams sisters will compete head to head yet again for Grand Slam title. The title game is on the 4th of July no less. Its America’s little way of reminding the British about a document we like to call the Declaration of Independence. The Gentlemen’s Singles final is a bit of a different story. American born Andy Roddick will face off against Roger Federer, winner of 14 Grand Slam titles. This is not the match the tennis world was expecting or possibly hoping for. Today Roddick took down Britain’s Andy Murray. I will not lie – a piece of me was rooting for Murray after watching the Hope of Dunblane, but I have moved on. Hopefully Roddick can bring relevance again to U.S. Men’s tennis this weekend.
Can you smell it? Are the withdrawal symptoms that began in early February beginning to subside? Are you ready for some football? That is right – it is time. The NFL kicks off on September 4 with the Redskins taking on the New York football Giants. It is pleasing to the soul. Here are a few other highlights from the week:
- Chad Pennington. Poor Chad. Everyone knows Brett Favre is a member of the Jets, but few people mentioned the unceremonious release of 2006 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. A great leader, fan favorite and statistically one of the franchise’s best quarterbacks of all time. His one great downfall being injuries, he deserved a little bit more. Excitement now builds for the Jets opener against the Dolphins, Pennington’s new team.
- Padraig Harrington. Once can be viewed as luck. Twice and we are starting to see a trend, but three PGA major golf victories in 14 months and I think we may have a Tiger hunter. It is important to put into perspective the enormity of Harrington’s PGA Championship win. It has been 78 years since a European has won the tournament and he is the only European in history to win back to back PGA majors. All that and he has a cool name. Count me in on the bandwagon.
- Redeem Team. I am not sure I can get on board here. I bought into the hype and decided to be one of the estimated billion plus people to watch the U.S.A versus China. It was a good first half, but a bad game. Moreover, I found myself rooting for China. Either I like underdogs, am disgusted with the NBA or am simply a pinko. Overall, I am just not into the Olympics this year, but did love watching the U.S.A. 400 freestyle relay team put France in their place.
- Caleb Campbell. The U.S. Army just shot itself in the foot. It stated it had a new policy that would allow cadets with exceptional skills to forgo their military commitment and serve through a recruitment capacity. After all the publicity and positive PR surrounding the first West Point cadet drafted in 11 years, the Army learned it did not have the authority to do this. The Lions lost a draft pick and time will tell if Campbell lost his opportunity to play in the NFL.
I loath the month of July. Not necessarily because the furnace like weather in Texas is at its peak, but instead because it is a dead zone for sports. At least when concerning my interests, there is hardly anything going on. I can actually meet with friends on the weekend without a care of what game I am sacrificing. This can be highlighted through PTI taking the entire past week off. Its a difficult time, but I was able to roundup a few notable stories.
- Are you ready for some football? I know its a bit mean to start that chant when we are still about a month away from regular season college or pro games, but yesterday the LA Times reported that NBC will live stream Sunday night NFL games. This is huge. Following ABCs live streaming experiment earlier this year with the NCAA Tournament and NBCs Olympic coverage (ablbeit delayed), I truly think the last significant online video gap is on the verge of being conquered. TiVo and Hulu adequately handle on demand TV show consumption, but sports generally requires live viewing and I am ecstatic networks are finally building out the infrastructure to allow high quality sports viewing for fans regardless of their location and access to a TV. Perhaps we may even break similar ground with Notre Dame this year too. One can only hope.
- The Sports Guy. The intrigue of Bill Simmons is beginning to unravel. While I understand he is supposed to be the voice of the fan, I place strong importance in quality journalism. He has written some amazing articles including the article about Jamiel Andre Shaw Jr. earlier this year, but his recent blast on the sport of tennis was poorly researched and showed even less effort in word choice. A friend and I recently commented on his shortcomings, which are highlighted by the arrival of Rick Reilly to the ESPN family. To Simmons credit, he does discuss his tennis face-plant in this podcast, but I am hoping this may have been a wake up call and push him to raise his craft to a new level. His entertaining style is undoubtable, I am just hoping his credibility can match.
- Favre Gate. Perhaps due to the lack of true sports news in July, this modest story has snowballed into the daily news lead for every sports show. This is an unusual stance for me, but I believe that Green Bay is more in the right than Favre. Regardless of whether he felt pressured into retiring, Favre did retire. It is not fair to the organization and his teammates to be held hostage by a single player. Aaron Rogers has displayed decent promise in limited action and it is fair to require a competition for starting QB if Favre comes back to Green Bay this year. Rogers is the future and has displayed unbelievable control throughout this ordeal, which cannot be said for Favre. Polls have shown that even the fans think Favre should remain retired. It is clear now that he will play this year, I hope he can without hurting his legacy. This is not the storybook ending we had in March.