By dealing Vince Carter to the Nets, Raptors GM Rob Babcock effectively sucked the "Air" out of the Air Canada Center...
Still, questions surround Carter's arrival at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Will his Achilles injury ever fully
"heal"? If so, can he return to superstar form? Can he co-exist with franchise players Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson? And if he can, will he make
the Nets a contender again? And what about his nicknames? "Vinsanity" isn't going anywhere, but will "Continental Airlines" replace "Air Canada"? And
what kind of a nickname is "Continental Airlines"?
Walsh and Ditka started it all by making a name for themselves over two decades ago. Today, their namesakes have all but taken over the NFL coaching
ranks. From Parcells to Holmgren, Belichick to Shanahan, Cowher to Martz, men named Bill or Mike coach ten out of the 32 franchises in the NFL. The
other members of this elite coaching conglomerate include Brian Billick, Mike Sherman, Mike Tice and Mike Mularkey, who just so happens to coach the
Bills. In fact, a man named Bill or Mike has appeared 11 times in the past ten Super Bowls and 16 times in the past 20 with 11 Lombardi Trophies to
speak of. And call it a coincidence, but (Bill) Cowher's Steelers, (Bill) Belichick's Patriots, (Mike) Sherman's Packers and (Mike) Tice's Vikings are
leading the charge toward this year's championship game in Jacksonville...
Heading into Week 16, the race for NFL supremacy is thicker than Joe Theismann's skull. The 13-1 Steelers lost a division game to the 8-6 Ravens but
beat the 13-1 Eagles, who have yet to lose in their conference. So which one-loss won-loss record is more impressive? And if Peter Piper picked a peck
of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked? And where the hell was I?
Mediocrity has long since had a home in the overpopulated playoffs of the NBA and NHL. And now, just in time for Christmas, the NFL is opening its
post-season doors to the less fortunate. If Yankee Stadium is the Mecca of baseball, today's NFL is the soup kitchen of Sport. As it stands, one
sub-.500 team - the 6-8 St. Louis Rams - would represent the lowly National Football Conference in the tournament. That's one sub-.500 team too many.
And sadly, it's more than conceivable that the eventual winner of the NFC West (and first-round playoff host) would have more losses than wins come
January, with the 7-7 Seahawks and 6-8 Rams topping the division. It's been 19 years since a team with less than nine wins made the post-season. Way
back in 1985, the Cleveland Browns snuck into the tournament by winning the AFC Central in spite of their 8-8 record. And if probability has its way,
two average teams will have a home for the holidays in the NFL playoffs...
Indeed, the NFC is a bigger joke than Parity itself. But is it weaker than the perennially weak post-Jordan Eastern Conference of the NBA? Absolutely.
A quarter of the way into 2004-05, the East has a .384 interconference winning percentage (56-90) with seven teams above .500. That might be bad, but
the NFC is even worse, with an interconference winning percentage of .328 (19-39) and just four teams above .500...
For the record, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning is recording record-breaking numbers en route to his second consecutive MVP award. If the
season ended today, Manning's 123.9 passer rating would break Steve Young's single-season record by more than 11 points. And not to sound like a
broken record, but Peyton is just two touchdown strikes away from breaking Dan Marino's single-season record of 48...
Rick Monday was an everyday player for the A's, Cubs and Dodgers for the better part of the 1970s. Today, Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday, whose
Colts are 1-1 on Thursdays, mostly works Sundays...
Like "Nomah" before him, Pedro Martinez is "no mas" in Beantown. His departure officially marks the end of the Prima Donna Era in Boston, prompting
illiterate Red Sox fans everywhere to begin preparations for Madonna's arrival. Unlike Garciaparra, Pedro wasn't about to skip town without burning a
bridge or two - he is, after all, a "very proud man." During an interview with ESPN this past week, Martinez warned the Nation that without his
presence in the rotation, the 2005 Red Sox would be the "best bad team in baseball history." That's right, "good badness" - whatever the hell that is
- will plague the Red Sox from this day forward. You might even call it the Curse of the Pedro. And like Michael Jackson before them, the Sox will be
putting the good back in bad, which may or may not be a good thing. That was a musing, I'm Dean Christopher...
[Edited on 12/21/04 by deanchristopher]