A Trip To The Spa

One of the bigger stories the past few days was the news that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had been caught on video at a West Palm Beach day spa with a prostitute that wasn’t a legal resident of the United States.

In the words of comedian Judy Tenuta, it could happen. Heck, it’s even possible (somewhat) that Kraft might not have known the sex worker in question was an illegal alien. Not likely, but possible.

This brings to mind my own little spa story – and, unfortunately for me, my 20-something naivete.

Sometime in the 1990s when I was working at the Sun Radio Network in St. Pete, I would have access to the Tampa Tribune – a newspaper no longer around that always played second fiddle to the then St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times. I’d always read the Tribune’s sports page, which had an ad for something called a “hot tub spa” over in north Tampa. Sounded like a plan to me, so I went and had a glance on one Monday evening when I was off from work.

The building was nondescript (which could have been my first red flag), one of those places that seemed to fit with the other stores and shops within it. I wasn’t totally naive – I figured some nudity amongst the women there would be included, but how it exactly worked was a mystery. I figured you sit in a hot tub and the girls get in bikinis, and for a higher rate of payment lose parts or all of same.

The hot tubs in question were all a front for – you guessed it – prostitution. I paid for this thin blonde young woman (who was definitely American) to get naked, as did I, but within a few minutes, I got nervous and aborted the rest of my “mission” so to speak. It’s not like I was a well-known figure in the local radio scene – but I couldn’t help but think that if I got busted here, that may change and not for the better. With the thin build the young woman had – could she have been underage? Did I have a Traci Lords situation on my hands?

The moral of the story, if there is one – it probably doesn’t hurt to ask around if you have the urge to go to one of these places. It might save you some trouble – luckily for me, my “urge” came long before trafficking and sex trafficking became an issue. Nowadays, you don’t know what you’d get at a place like that, and it’s not like they would tell you.

Super After Thoughts

Well, another Super Bowl game is in the can – and it was another unique albeit not all that artistic of an affair. The Patriots defeated the Rams 13-3 to claim a sixth NFL championship for Tom Brady to close out the 2010’s decade of Super Bowls.

It’s a shame that a lot of fans don’t appreciate Brady for what he’s done – and I wonder if there will ever be a quarterback who plays in the NFL to do what he has. I get why people hate him, for sure – but I was telling friends when the game ended that I thought the Patriots and what they’ve done the past two decades stands alone as one of the great achievements in American sports.

The Yankees won five straight titles from 1949 to 1953 – but back in a time before MLB had a draft that could equally distribute prospects out to every team, which they didn’t have until 1965. The Celtics won a string of NBA championships in the 1960’s – but there were only a few NBA teams most of that time. UCLA won the men’s college basketball title for a slew of years, back when only conference champions played in the NCAA tournament most of that stretch. Put any of those teams in the social media era of today, and yeah – I could get why they would hate on them.

Tom Brady deserves his due, and no matter what he does the rest of the way in his career, he’s the most renowned championship winning QB of all time. Maybe there’s someone out there right now who can win seven Super Bowls in the future, and maybe there isn’t. Until then, Brady deserves the mantle.

Rammed Patriots

We now know who’s playing in this year’s Superbowl – the New England Patriots, who we have seen a lot of these past two decades, and the Los Angeles Rams.

The last time these two teams met in the Big Game – the Rams emanated from St. Louis and were heavy favorites to knock off the upstart Patriots. That didn’t go so well for the Rams, as a considerably younger Tom Brady took the Pats down the field to set up a Super Bowl-winning field goal.

The Patriots are the third team to go to three straight (or more) Super Bowls in the history of the game – and could become the first team to win a Super Bowl, lose a Super Bowl, and then win it back in three successive years. I guess that would be pulling a Grover Cleveland, right?

I’m sure with two major media markets in play for the big game, interest in the Super Bowl in Atlanta will be rather high. With both semifinal games going to overtime, something that’s never occurred in NFL playoff history on the same day – they certainly left football fans across the world wanting more.

My early thinking is that the Rams would win a close game – hell, remember when Super Bowls were almost always blowouts?

Lateralpalooza

Many of you have seen this great play already on YouTune, and on the various newscasts the past few days. For those of you who don’t follow football or are outside the United States or both, I thought I’d give a brief explanation.

Last week, the perennially contending New England Patriots were in South Florida playing the Miami Dolphins in a regular season game. With seven seconds left, the Patriots kept a 33-28 lead, so if the Dolphins were to win the game – they’d have to score within that time. Seven seconds was time enough for one play, maybe two with luck.

The Dolphins had two options. The most likely play would be to throw a long pass and hope for an unlikely reception. Instead, the Dolphins, knowing the Patriots were contemplating the same thing, thus defending the entire length of the field – threw a short pass. They hoped to use the space the Pats weren’t defending and pick up the 69 yards they needed to score with help of laterals and the speed of their receivers.

The Patriots, again thinking that the Dolphins would throw a deep pass – loaded their lineup with defensive backs – and even called upon tight end Rob Gronkowski to aid in their efforts. As it turned out, Gronkowski, ordinarily an offensive player, wound up being the last line of defense on the play.

These plays dependent on laterals very rarely work – when they do, it’s a total thing of beauty.

Feel The (Lack Of) Power

I was watching the end of the Titans-Texans game last night. The outcome had been decided a while back, the Texans were going to win being way ahead – but as I’ve remarked in previous blog entries, I’m a fan of statistical oddities when it comes to sports. I “mark out” (feel a tinge of excitement) when I look at the NFL scores and see a 2, a 5, or an 11 listed.

The Tennessee quarterback, Marcus Mariota, was having a unique game. Late in the fourth quarter, he had yet to throw an incomplete pass – or a pass that had intercepted (caught by the opposing team). I’m paying close attention to these last few minutes that would ordinarily be “garbage time” (inconsequential to the outcome of the game) – and the power goes out. I miss the end of the game and miss Mariota launching an incomplete pass with a mere 7 seconds to go. The power had gone out a few seconds, but it takes a few minutes for my cable box to reset – so I missed it.

That reminded me of Super Bowl XLII – the game where the New England Patriots attempted to become the second NFL team to go undefeated, playing the New York Giants. Right before the second half of that 2008 game was to start – the power goes out here in eastern Pinellas county on an evening where the weather wasn’t a factor. By the time the power came back that night, the fourth quarter was just starting, and the Giants pulled off quite the upset to stymie the Pats and their hopes for a 19-0 season, 17-14.

I’m not insinuating my power grid is substandard in any way – I just think it’s funny how random things happen, and how the randomness of things in life and sports often get entangled.

Winter Of Discontent

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Wait, another post about football?!? Well, it’s nearly Super Bowl time, so indulge me.

The 88th NFL season comes to a climax on Sunday night when New England’s Patriots and Philadelphia’s Eagles square off at the 52nd Super Bowl in Minneapolis. It has been one of the more tumultuous seasons in league history, with the kneeling controversy hitting full stride early in the season, and the league’s refusal to enforce their own directives regarding the national anthem playing out as it did.

For now, water under the bridge.

I get a lot of people who ask me what my prediction is for the Super Bowl. This year it’s kind of complicated, so let me explain:

If you’re looking for me to pick a winner, I’d pick New England. As of this writing on Tuesday, the Patriots are -200 on the “money line” in Las Vegas. If you bet $200 on the Patriots to win, you’d get $100 back on top of the $200 wagered if they win.

The point spread on the game has the Patriots currently 4.5 point favorites, with the half-point there to prevent ties if the margin of the game hits that number exactly. (That’s happened before, most famously when the Steelers beat the Cowboys 35-31 in Super Bowl XIII in 1979, the point spread was four points. The game was a “push” and everyone who had that line got their money back.) If I were a Vegas bettor, I’d take the Eagles getting 4.5, because in the eight Super Bowls the Pats have played in during the past two decades, they’ve never won or lost by more than six points.

The over/under for the game (the total number of points scored by both teams) is at 48 as I type this. I’d take the under on that. There are also a menagerie of “prop bets” out in Las Vegas out there, plus some casinos now offer in-game wagering with a point spread that moves during the course of the game, but I’ll leave you to do your homework if you’re curious about that.

Would I mind if the Eagles won? Absolutely not. They’ve been close a few times since winning their last NFL title in 1960, and the Patriots have won five of these things in the past two decades – sure, let the Philly fans have one. Wouldn’t mind that at all.

As a fan, I’m hoping for a good game. I finally got my wish of seeing the first Super Bowl game to go to overtime last year, so I don’t know how that can be topped.

Miracles and Mythology in Minneapolis

For six weeks during the NFL season, when all the player kneeling that was going on, I boycotted watching the games. I felt the open disrespect the league’s players had for those who serve was discouraging. But like the whore that goes back to her pimp, even though the whore knows full well she’s being abused and mistreated, I came back.

Sometimes there’s a short-term reward in coming back to people who abuse you. While I don’t know what the short-term rewards are for prostitutes (more money for tricks, I’m guessing, or supplementary recreational drugs of some kind), the NFL has always been good by design at creating moments the pro football world hasn’t seen previously. Last year, it was the masterpiece of a Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl featuring a massive comeback by New England, culminating in the first Super Bowl needing more than 60 minutes of playing time to decide with this little thing we call overtime.

This year, there are two story lines needing conclusion as the Super Bowl tournament is reduced to four. First, will the New England Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl in seventeen years, which would tie Pittsburgh for the most ever won? More importantly, a Patriots championship would give them three such titles in four seasons, and would tie the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990’s in that department.

If you’re bored with the Patriots, then there’s Minnesota Vikings and their attempt to become the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium. (Oddly enough, since it’s an even numbered Super Bowl, the 52nd, they would be the acting visiting team, with either Jacksonville or New England being the acting host team.) Their win against New Orleans in the quarterfinal round (yes, I know the NFL has these fancy names for each round, but I try to keep things simple, and the round two stages away from a championship is a quarterfinal, so I call it that) was a thing of beauty. It was the first time a playoff game had ended with a walk-off touchdown at the end of regulation in the history of the NFL playoffs, going back to 1934.

Needless to say, I’m rooting for the Vikings and the Patriots. That would ensure a historic outcome either way. Now watch Philly and Jacksonville make it, with my luck.

Another Patriot Reign

Wow.

What a game.

The first ever Super Bowl overtime game.

The first ever comeback in a Super Bowl of more than a 10-point deficit.

The first QB and head coach to win five Super Bowls.

For Atlanta, pure heartbreak.

For New England, pure joy.

A game to be remembered FOREVER.

The best football game I’ve ever seen.

Thank you, Patriots and Falcons.

A Well Needed Time Out

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As many of you know, tonight is the playing of the 51st Super Bowl. (The NFL has this obsession with roman numerals, so they call the event Super Bowl LI.) Either New England or Atlanta walk away tonight as the champion team of the year, and the sports world thereafter will turn to other events, like the Daytona 500, and the 2017 MLB baseball season.

I have seen the Super Bowl referred to a few times over the years as the Great American Time Out. With all the vitriol in the news over our new President, and the changes he wishes to make with the country, and the unprecedented staunchness of the left who have put up such resistance to even his cabinet picks, it’s a well deserved break.

I have also had the honor of going to a Super Bowl in person, the 25th such game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants, won by New York by just one point. I can close my eyes and still see the late Whitney Houston singing the national anthem in the epic way she performed it. I still get goose bumps thinking about it.

If you ever get or win the chance to go to the Super Bowl, do it. You’ll never forget it.

As for my pick, I like the Patriots, 42-34. The Falcons are a very good team, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they pulled off the mild upset. I just think New England is not just playing for today’s game, but for history as well. A win by the Pats would give both Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick five Super Bowls, the most for any one quarterback or head coach.

Enjoy the game. For sports fans worldwide, today is Christmas Day.

Falcons And Patriots And A Super Bowl, Oh My!

If you’re a sports fan, you know already that Atlanta and New England’s NFL teams have a date in two weeks to decide the 51st Super Bowl winner in Houston. 

Both teams were the Vegas favorites, and each of the two games were won today with little trouble. 

Not having seen who the betting favorite is at the time of this writing, I would think the Patriots would be a favorite in the range of three points. If the Pats got more points, something close to six to seven, the Falcons would be an attractive bet. 

Tom Brady goes to his seventh Super Bowl. Prior to his career starting, no other quarterback had played or won any more than four. By any standard, and even with his share of controversy, he’s an all time great. 

I also wonder how many more times he will grace the gridiron should he win his fifth Super Bowl. It must be tempting to retire on top.

I’m also very happy for Rich McKay, son of John McKay, the first Bucs coach. Rich helped engineer Tampa’s only NFL championship in 2002-03 as their general manager. Now, he goes for a second title as the Falcons GM. 

So many stories, and I’m sure the media will hype the game to the hilt. Because, don’t they always?

Super Shocker

 

Peyton Manning
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning smiles while talking to reporters after the NFL football team’s voluntary veterans minicamp Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The very first football game I ever saw in person was on August 18, 1979 when my Dad took me to old Tampa Stadium on a Saturday night and we watched the Bucs beat the New Orleans Saints in a preseason game that evening, 14-7. The quarterback for the Saints that started that night was Archie Manning. I was two and a half weeks shy of my eighth birthday and loved seeing a game in person for the first time.

Last night, I watched his son Peyton win his second Super Bowl and break the record for most wins by a quarterback at 200 (counting postseason and regular season games) in what will likely be his final game. As a football fan, I guess that would be a “full circle” for me.

As for my pick, yes I picked Carolina, but with the cautionary tale that if I had to bet on the game, I would take the points and pick Denver. Considering what the Broncos could do defensively, I didn’t see how if the Panthers won the game that it wouldn’t be close. It was a worthy “final exam” for the heralded Cam Newton, but now he and the Panthers have become the third team coming into the Super Bowl with no losses or one loss to lose the big game, joining the 1968 Baltimore Colts and the 2007 New England Patriots.

That’s playoff and Super Bowl football for you. It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season. One loss and you’re forgotten. Congrats to Denver, and I’m sure Peyton Manning will have a job somewhere in the vast landscape of televised sports.

More Shuffling To Do

CBS Sports, with the help of Strat-O-Matic Football, conducted a mythical tournament among the 49 previous Super Bowl champions to determine which team in the Super Bowl Era was the best ever. In the final, it was the 1985 Chicago Bears that were crowned the best of all-time, knocking off the 1996 Green Bay Packers 17-10.

Can’t say I’d argue with that assessment. They had the best defense over a single season I have ever seen, and had the ability to shut down almost any team they played. The only team they couldn’t shut down that year was Miami, who handed them their only loss that season 38-24 on a Monday Night game. Had the Dolphins defeated the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, there would have been a Bears-Dolphins rematch at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Had that happened, history would have looked back on the Bears a bit more differently, one way or the other. But a great team, none the less.