Pro football in New York reaches historic low

namath1974

Considering all the lousy years of football in New York, this may be the worst season yet.

On Sunday, the Giants (2-7) meet the Jets (1-7) for  bragging rights…if that’s what you want to call it. Not much to brag about for either team.

Since the Giants and Jets first met in 1970, their worst combined record occurred in 1976, when each team finished 3-11. Joe Namath led the Jets, and Craig Morton quarterbacked the Giants that year.

In 1973, the Giants were 2-11-1 and the Jets 4-10. In 1980, each club finished 4-12, two years after the NFL went to the current 16-game schedule.

The past two seasons have been a calamity for both teams. The Giants wound up 3-13 and the Jets 5-11 in 2017; last year, Big Blue went 5-11 and the Jets 4-12. Phew!!

The worst single season head-to-head matchup occurred in 1974, when the Jets won 26-20 in overtime (both teams were 2-7 following the game). Namath, pictured above, scored on a fourth quarter rollout to tie the game in the Yale Bowl before Emerson Boozer ran it in from five yards out in overtime.

In 1996, the teams entered winless at 0-3 and the Giants won 13-6. The Jets and Giants were bad then, and they’re worse now. Time to bring out the paper bags.


A Yankee connection in beautiful Coronado

Island Beer Club

If this were a travel review, I’d wax poetic about the wonderful two weeks I spent in California. Every day was a highlight, starting with Grant & Andy’s wedding at Jack London’s ranch in the wine country. Spent some time farming in the sweet air at Glentucky Farms in Sonoma with Mike, Grant’s father and my friend since first grade.

During the trip I found my old home and school in Daly City, and visited such sports as Mission Carmel, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, magical Moonstone Beach in Cambria, Morro Rock and the Santa Monica Pier as I made my way down the Pacific Coast Highway to Southern California.

I even managed to cross off a bucket list item with a visit to Dodger Stadium, the third oldest ballpark in the majors. With the help of the SeatGeek app, watched Washington defeat Los Angeles in an NLDS playoff game. Afterwards, battled LA traffic and made my way to see another lifelong friend, Janie, and her husband Kevin, in Marina del Rey.

From there, went to Coronado to visit my college roomie Paul and his wife Karen. We saw the historic Midway aircraft carrier, the San Diego Zoo and the famed Hotel del Coronado.

On the final night of the trip, Paul suggested we make an appearance at the Island Beer Club, pictured above. What a concept, Drinking beer with your neighbors outdoors in the beautiful weather.of San Diego.bob_sheppard_bw

Since I was wearing a Yankee cap, a club member told me I should meet Chris. Well, Chris Sheppard turned out to be the son of legendary Yankee PA announcer Bob Sheppard, who was nicknamed “The Voice of God” by Reggie Jackson. Carl Yastrzemski once said: “You’re not in the big leagues until Bob Sheppard announces your name.”

Sheppard was the PA announcer for the Yankees for 56 years. During that time, the Yankees won 22 pennants and 13 World Series. Shepperd announced six no-hitters and three perfect games at Yankee Stadium.

He called his first game on April 17, 1951, six days before I was born. The first player he introduced was Dominic DiMaggio of the Red Sox. Mickey Mantle made his debut that day. Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and Johnny Mize of the Yankees and Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr and Lou Boudreau of the Red Sox were also introduced by Sheppard during the game.

Sheppard earned $15 a game his first year with the Yankees, $17 for a doubleheader.

He was also the PA announcer for the New York Giants for more than 50 years, encompassing nine conference championships and three NFL titles, including two Super Bowls.

Sheppard was the starting first baseman for three years and the starting quarterback for four years for St. John’s University, graduating in 1932. During World War II was a gunnery office for the US Navy and served in the Pacific Theater. He taught speech at several schools, including his alma mater.

Bob Sheppard worked until he was 97, and passed away three months before his 100th birthday in 2010, two days before George Steinbrenner died.

Chris Sheppard played basketball and baseball at Marquette, and sometimes filled in for his father at Yankee Stadium. He joined the Marines and later became a commercial airline pilot. He lives in Coronado, where he is a member for the Island Beer Club.


C’mon man, Patriots ain’t no underdogs

brady

Cut the underdog talk Tom Brady. Please, Patriots, spare us the rap. Nobody buys it.

It’s bad enough you have the best quarterback and coach of all time, and that you’ve been to the Super Bowl nine times since 2002.

“I’m too old,“ Brady told CNN moments after the Patriots knocked off Kansas City in the AFC title game. “We’ve got no skill players. We’ve got no defense. We’ve got nothing.”

Nothing but five Super Bowl rings already.

Does New England understand how Las Vegas odds work? Here’s a simple lesson. That +3 in your column means the Patriots are favored to beat the Rams by three points.

The Rams – with the young coach and quarterback and the inexperienced squad – are clearly the underdogs in Super Bowl LIII.

8-0…or 0-8

Amazingly, the Patriots could just as easily be 8-0 as 0-8  in Super Bowls in the Brady-Belichick era. The Patriots won their first three Super Bowls on field goals, and later added an end-zone interception to beat Seattle and a record-setting 31-point comeback to stun Atlanta in overtime.

On the other side, the Pats came close to beating the Giants twice and the Eagles last year before falling short at the end.

QB Hell

Who’s the best quarterback never to play in a Super Bowl?

Two Charger greats top the list – Hall of Famer Dan Fouts and Philip Rivers, who lost to the Patriots in the divisional round of this year’s playoffs.

Hall of Famer Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Archie Manning are also on the list nobody wants to be on.

The best never to win a Super Bowl? That honor goes to Miami’s Dan Marino, whose Dolphins lost to San Francisco in 1985, his second season….and never made it back.

Fellow Hall of Famers Fran Tarkenton and Jim Kelly made the big game multiple times, yet never came out on top.

RICK’S PICK: I’m an NFC guy who would love to see the Rams win. But my head tells me New England, 31-20.


How about an all-LA Super Bowl?

LA

Randy Newman would love it. So would southern California. And all those fans who hate the New England Patriots would have reason to cheer.

Imagine an all-Los Angeles Super Bowl? The Los Angeles Rams vs. the Los Angeles Chargers. In 52 previous years, never have two teams from the same city played in the Super Bowl.  It would be a first, and quite an accomplishment for a city that suffered more than two decades without an NFL team, from 1995 until 2016.

The city of Los Angeles does own one Lombardi Trophy – but neither the Rams nor the Chargers won it. Rather the Raiders, temporarily removed from Oakland, beat the Washington Redskins, 38-9, in Super Bowl XVIII.

The Rams did win Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, beating the Tennessee Titans. But that Rams team called St. Louis home.

The Los Angeles Rams appeared in one Super Bowl, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 in 1980.

The LA Rams won their only NFL championship in 1951 over the Cleveland Browns, 24-17. The Cleveland Rams won the NFL title in 1945, defeating the Redskins 15-14. The team moved to Los Angeles the following season.

The Chargers, representing San Diego, played in one Super Bowl. In 1995 they were crushed 49-26 by the San Francisco 49ers in SB XXIX.

The Chargers called LA home in their inaugural year in 1960. They moved to San Diego in 1961, and won their only AFL title in 1963 when they beat the Boston Patriots, 51-10.

 

I Love LA – Randy Newman

Roll down the window, put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys, baby
Don’t let the music stop
We’re gonna ride it till we just can’t ride it no more
From the South Bay to the Valley
From the West Side to the East Side
Everybody’s very happy
‘Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day
I love L.A. (We love it)
I love L.A. (We love it)


Matty and The Jinx–a rainy night in New York

IMG_2145When I go to games with my long-time friend and high school buddy Matty, bad things happen to our teams. Incredibly bad things. We affectionately refer to it as The Jinx.

The Jinx spans sports and the ages. We’ve seen the Giants crushed in the Super Bowl, the Yankees  blanked in both games of a doubleheader, the Knicks lose buzzer-beaters. And so much more. We’re afraid to speak on the phone when the Yankees or Giants are playing for fear of jinxing them.

But The Jinx may have reached a new high…or low depending upon your point of view…..on a rainy   Friday night in July in New York.

The evening started out in fine fashion when. Matty nabbed box seats, right behind home plate, for Yankees-Royals at the Stadium. But it rained the whole time we were there, the tarp was never taken off, and finally the game was postponed. Bummer.

So now Matt and I are on a crowded subway heading back downtown. We pull into the Fulton Street station, I reach into my pocket….and realize to my horror my cell phone is gone.

Matty quickly calls my number and to my amazement a guy named Zack answers. Sure I’ve got your phone he said, I found it sitting on a bench at the 149th Street Station in the Bronx.

Shortly after we’re turned around, going back uptown to meet Zack, who’s at 75th and Amsterdam. My man Zack answers the door with a Yankee cap (he too had been at the game), and handed over my iPhone. He refused a monetary reward but did accept the gift of a CC Sabathia bobblehead doll.

Zach if you’re reading this you are my hero. And while calculating the odds of recovering a phone left in a South Bronx subway, I will pass it along.

The story doesn’t end there. As soon as we left Zack’s place a monsoon hit Manhattan. No shelter from the storm. We got drenched.

Finally we find the subway and head back downtown to the Oculus Station at the World Trade Center to take the Path train under the river to Newark. We make our connections, and then rush to make  the Jersey transit train for the last leg of our journey back to Fanwood.

We’re just about 10 minutes into the 30-minute ride when the train comes to a stop at the Union Station Keane University stop. A half hour later we’re informed that a vehicle hit a bridge up ahead of us, and that we can’t move until the bridge passes inspection.

Well finally, about an hour and a half later, we’re cleared to go and make our way home.

The Jinx. You can’t make this stuff up.

Matty and the Jinx – the original top 10 list.


Eddie Price, last Giant to win NFL rushing title

Eddie_Price_-_1952_Bowman_LargeIf Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, the #2 pick in the NFL draft, lives up to expectations, he may accomplish something no New York Giant has done in 67 years – win an NFL rushing title.

That’s right, the answer to that trivia question about the last Giant to win a rushing title is running back Eddie Price, who topped the league way back in 1951. Which just happens to be the year I was born.

That year the 5-11, 190-pound Price led the NFL with 971 yards rushing in 271 carries. He scored seven TDs, all on the ground, in leading the Giants to a 9-2-1 record, just shy of a berth in the NFL championship game.

The highlight of Price’s 1951 season was an 80-yard TD run against the Eagles, sparking a 23-7 Giants win in the next to last game of the season.

In 1950, his rookie season, Price ran for 703 yards in just eight games, which ranked fourth in the league. He missed four games due to injury that year.

Price, a Tulane University product, played his entire career with the Giants, retiring following the 1955 season. He had 3,292 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns in his career, including four scores on pass receptions.

A World War II veteran, Price survived landings at Saipan Leyte, Luzon and Guam.

He planned to go to Notre Dame before World War II, but wound up at Tulane. Perhaps his biggest highlight with the Green Wave was a 103-yard kickoff return that helped Tulane upset Alabama 21-20 in 1947. Tulane later beat the Crimson Tide in the 1948 and 1949 openers.

Tuffy Leemans in 1936 and Bill Paschal in 1943 and 1944 were the only other Giants to win NFL rushing titles.


The Super Bowl from hell

superbowlliiAbout 14 years or so ago, God approached the world’s biggest Yankee and Giants fan with a proposition. In return for the Yankees becoming the first team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 lead and lose a playoff series in seven games (to the Red Sox no less), God would grant the Giants not one, but two, comeback Super Bowl victories against the Patriots. And to sweeten the pot, one of those Super Bowl wins would knock out an undefeated New England team.

It was an offer no fan could refuse.

Now, as we approach Super Bow LII, the picture is about as bleak as can be for New York fans. Oh woe, it’s come down to this. For a Giants fan, Eagles-Patriots is about as bad a Super Bowl matchup as you could possibly get. Only thing worse would be Cowboys-Patriots.

There are so many reasons to dislike both these teams. It would be a LII (lie) to say I wanted the Eagles or the Patriots to win Super Bowl LII. But come Sunday, one of those teams will emerge triumphant.

Reasons to hate the Eagles

1. They’re an NFC East rival, and play the Giants twice each year.

2. The Eagles have handed the Giants numerous bitter losses over the year, most notably the Chuck Bednarik game in 1960, the Herman Edwards game in 1978, and the LeSean Jackson game in 2010. Those losses and others still cut deep.

3. Philadelphia fans booed Santa Claus.

4. Those some Philadelphia fans cut the brake lining in my nephew’s van during a Giants game at Lincoln Financial Field several years ago. Seriously. Fortunately noboby was injured when the van crashed into a cyclone fence.

5. Philly can’t hold a candle to New York. First prize, a week’s vacation in Philadelphia. Second prize, two weeks vacation in Philly. Get it.

Reasons to hate the Patriots

1. They always win.

2. Most of their fans also root for the Boston Red Sox.

3. They cheat. Too many controversies, ie Spygate and Deflategate, make it appear more than simple coincidence.

4. The refs are on their side. I mean how many calls go New England’s way? There oughta be an investigation.

5. Boston can’t hold a candle to New York. The Big Apple vs. Beantown. Yeah right.

There’s only one saving grace in Super Bowl LII, and it leans towards the Pats. If the Patriots win, at least the Giants can claim the only Super Bowl victories against New England in the Brady-Belichick era. New England under B&B is presently 0-2 against the Giants in the Super Bowl, and 5-0 against the rest of the league.

Go Pats I guess. Good luck New England. Not really.