All posts by michaelbrianwalker

Currently: math/economics teacher at Ramsey High School, commissioner of both a fantasy baseball league and a fantasy football league Past: Graduate of Midland Park High School Class of 2000 and Colgate University Class of 2004, pricing/yield analyst at AvisBudget from 2004 through 2007, member of MPHS baseball and cross-country teams Fan of: Mets, Devils, Giants Achievements: Named "World's Slowest Eater" by everyone who knows me, played on the 2003-4 Colgate intramural-championship ice-hockey team, three-time IceHouse Adult League Champion (twice as a Seal, once as a STRanger), have twice been hit by deer while driving, coached the league-tourney-champion 2008-9 Ramsey Rams JV ice-hockey team (universally regarded by me as the greatest JV hockey team of all time), once ran 6 miles listening to nothing but Lonely Island's "Jack Sparrow" on repeat, picked Gonzaga 10 times to win the championship (yes, I was that guy before it was fashionable to be that guy), stayed for all 17 innings of a 2000 Newark Bears/Somerset Patriots game (and caught my only career foul ball at a pro game during the 16th inning), and have not eaten breakfast regularly since 1996

Circle of Madness

Note (Saturday 3/17): I actually wrote this post on Thursday (3/15) night.  Since then, my bracket, with a championship game of UVA over Wichita State, has been destroyed.  Therefore, some of what you will read below did quite ring true this year.  Enjoy my post nonetheless!

I am one of those annoying people who watches 99% of my college basketball in March yet is super-duper interested in basketball for that month.  Does that make me a fraud?  Yes.  Do I care?  No.  I love the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and I know that many of you out there are frauds like me.  In light of this, allow me to share with you my “Circle of Madness”.  This explains my following of college basketball over a full year.  I shall start this circle with “One Shining Moment”.

April: While watching “One Shining Moment”, I think to myself, “I love college basketball!  Next year, I am going to watch a lot of college basketball all year long.”

July: On a random summer day, I think to myself, “I really love the NCAA Tournament.  I can’t wait until next year’s college-basketball season.”

Midnight Madness in October: As I revel in the only time of year with MLB, NFL, and NHL games; I am floored to hear that college-basketball teams have begun practicing.  “Seriously, who cares about college basketball at a time like this???”, I think.

Opening Night of College Basketball in November: A week or two after the World Series has ended, I think to myself, “OK, now I can put all my sports focus on football and the Devils.”  When I hear that the college-basketball season has begun, I think, “I’m not ready for this yet!  Can we push this off a few weeks?”

Next Week or Two: I begin to obsess over making fantasy-playoff runs in my fantasy leagues, how to win my Survivor pool, how the Giants are going to make the playoffs, and which Devils games I will attend.  At no point do I spend even a second thinking about college basketball.

Thanksgiving Eve: At a bar or restaurant, I catch a glimpse of either the Preseason NIT or Maui Invitational on TV.  I think to myself, “Oh yeah, it’s time for me to start watching college basketball this season.  Starting now, I am watching every single Gonzaga game!”

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Next 2-3 Weeks: I do not spend even a second thinking about college basketball.  My mind is simply filled with thoughts of “Fantasy, Giants, Christmas music, Devils, Survivor, Christmas music, Fantasy, Survivor, Mariah Carey needs to cover up her chest at Rockefeller Center, Devils, Survivor, Christmas music.”

Random Date in Mid-December: During a CBS football game, I see a preview of a college-basketball game, complete with the great CBS college-basketball music.  I start to get excited thinking about March Madness.  I think to myself, “I really need to start watching college basketball TODAY.  I can’t just jump onboard a week before the NCAA Tournament”…you know, even though that is what I have done for each of the past 11 seasons.

Next 2-3 Weeks: I do not spend even a second thinking about college basketball.

Random Night in January: I turn on a Rutgers game because Rutgers is either tied or losing by just a few points to a good team.  I am very excited for 2 to 3 minutes before switching to “The Mick” on DVR.  Sidebar: “The Mick” is absolutely hilarious, and I recommend it to all of you.  The only funnier show right now is “Last Man on Earth”, which (double sidebar) is coming back on Sunday!  Anyway, after turning off the Rutgers game, I think to myself, “I really need to start watching college basketball.  If I wait until March to start watching, I will know nothing about these players or teams, and I won’t enjoy the Tournament as much as I usually do!”…even though, for every year since 2007, I have waited until March and have managed to love the crap out of the NCAA Tournament.

Worst Sunday of the Year (aka The Sunday Between the AFC/NFC Championships and the Super Bowl): I wake up in the morning (but not feelin’ like P-Diddy) and think to myself, “How do I fill my NFL void?  I know, I am going to watch college basketball today!”  What do I actually do?  Go running, listen to Elton John music, clear out my DVR, go to the gym, and spend a few hours lying on my couch doing absolutely nothing.

Super Bowl Sunday: As I go to bed after the game, I think to myself, “The Super Bowl is over!  You know what that means – March Madness is right around the corner.  Time for me to start watching college basketball!”

Next 2-3 weeks: I watch one Bucknell (where my brother went to college) basketball game on TV.  By that, I mean that I put 10 minutes of the game on my TV while I am eating dinner, listening to a podcast, and reading a map…all at the same time.  That game aside, I watch no basketball whatsoever.

Two Weeks Before Selection Sunday: I realize that college-basketball conference tournaments are soon to begin.  “Now I will start watching college basketball so that I know what I am talking about when I do my brackets.”

One Week Before Selection Sunday: I go to’s “Championship Week” page and look at all of the conference-tournament brackets.  I also begin making daily visits to Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology”.  At this point, I have watched zero basketball over the previous week.

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During the Last Week Before Selection Sunday: Hallelujah, I finally start watching some college basketball!  I do not watch for long periods of time, but I do check out at least one college-basketball game each day.  Additionally, I check the college-basketball scores daily to see who is advancing in their college-basketball tournaments.  This is a huge step for a guy who had not deliberately sought out general college-basketball scores at any previous point in the season.

During the Weekend of Selection Sunday: I read many articles about who should be in the Big Dance/who should not/who should be seeded where/etc.

During the Selection Show: I watch/listen in a state of pure euphoria.  “I love this time of year!!!!  March Madness, Thin Mints, and spring weather!  Plus, this year, I feel like I know the teams in the Tournament so much better than I have in any previous seasons.  I am going to dominate my pools this year.”, I think.

Between Selection Sunday and Thursday’s Start of the First Round: I fill out my brackets and read/listen to countless analysts speak about the tournament.  By Thursday, I have heard that every single team in the Dance is somehow a sleeper, a favorite, an underdog, prime to pull off an upset, unlikely to  pull off and upset, underseeded, and overseeded…and has both a very easy path and a very difficult path to the Final Four.  I find myself in many conversations with other people who have also watched roughly 0 hours of college basketball this season.  In these conversations, we lament the fact that Oklahoma has no business being in the Tournament while Oklahoma State stays home.  In years’ past, we have scolded the selection committee for leaving Drexel or St. Mary’s out of the tournament.  We agree that the Selection Committee shows no respect for mid-majors and that Drexel and St. Mary’s are clearly better than two of the at-large teams who have been selected for the Tournament.  We are qualified to make these statements because we watched St. Mary’s upset Villanova in 2010, and we saw Drexel pull off that upset in 1996.

This all makes perfect sense coming from a guy (me) who usually picks Michigan State to outperform its seed (except this year because of karmic reasons) because it did that in 2009 and 2010 and picks Cincinnati to perform worse than its seed just like it always did under Bob Huggins in the 1990s.  Like I said, I know my college basketball.  It was not luck that caused me to pick Loyola-Chicago to go to this year’s Sweet 16.  No, no, no.  It was hours of Loyola game film that someone else watched….and then this watcher wrote an article that said Loyola is really good.  Then, I read that article. Like I said, I know my stuff.

Thursday to Sunday of First Weekend of NCAA Tournament: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!!  48 games of college basketball!  I love it, and I hate having to miss even a single game.  I hated missing Bryce Drew’s buzzer beater for Valparaiso against Ole Miss in 1998.  (I was in school in 10th grade at the time.)  I hated missing Loyola-Chicago’s buzzer beater today!  After all, a loyal college-basketball watcher like myself should not have to miss any NCAA Tournament games!

Quick tangent: There are four people who annoy me greatly this weekend:

  • The person who starts out 4-for-4 on Thursday and brags to everyone about it. Congrats, you successfully picked a 3 over a 14, a 6 over an 11, a 2 over a 15, and a 1 over a 16.  Seriously, if you have a standard bracket-scoring system (32 max points per round), the first round can only eliminate you.  Those with 2012 Duke, 2014 Duke, or 2016 Michigan State national-championship brackets know what I mean.  If you went 4-for-4 so far, nobody cares.


  • The studio talking head (one of the 7845 employed by CBS/TBS/TNT/TruTV/Nickelodeon/Bravo) who responds to a “12 over 5” upset by saying, “Everyone in America is tearing up their brackets right now.” Um, yeah.  I suppose if you are in a “You win this pool only if you pick a perfect bracket” pool, you are tearing up your bracket.  Otherwise, you can probably withstand that one upset even if you did not pick it.


  • The play-by-play announcer who shouts, “IS THERE AN UPSET BREWING HERE IN (FILL IN THE LOCATION HERE)????”, as a 16-seed heads to a timeout with 12 minutes left in the first half holding a 20-15 lead. How many times do we have to see a #1 seed go on a huge run to end the first half or start the second half before we realize the silliness of this announcer’s quote?  Often, a #16 seed can hang with a #1 seed for a little while, but eventually the #1 seed figures out how to neutralize the #16’s strength or takes advantage of its major depth advantage.


  •  The announcer/analyst who calls an “11 over 6”, “10 over 7”, “9 over 8” an upset.  Stop it.  In the first round, “12 over 5” is the smallest seed disparity that counts as an upset.


Monday to Wednesday of the Following Week: I spend several hours playing with the “Scenario Generator” on my bracket pool’s site to see how many different paths there are to my victory.

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Thursday to Sunday of Weekend #2: I love it!!!!  We get the quantity of 48 games in Weekend #1.  Now, we get the quality of 12 huge games between dominant teams – with a few Cinderellas sprinkled into the mix.


Monday to Friday of Next Week: I can’t wait for the Final Four.  I think, “It all comes down to this.  All the hours of college basketball I have watched this season culminate right here. This is my reward. What an incredible ride it has been.”


Saturday to Monday of Final Four Weekend: I intently watch all three remaining games.  It is bittersweet though, as I know that, after Monday, I have to wait until mid-November to get to watch college basketball again.

Monday Night: While watching “One Shining Moment”, I think to myself, “I love college basketball!  Next year, I am going to watch a lot of college basketball all year long.”

….and there you have it – my Circle of Madness!

A Player Deserves a Point for a Screen

I am writing this post to answer a question once and for all.  The question is, “If I write a post, and nobody reads it; did I still write the post?”  I figure, what better way is there to accomplish this than by posting that the NHL should award points to players for screens.  What topic is sexier than that?

This thought enters my head a few times per NHL season, and last night was one of those instances.  Recent Devils acquisition Patrick Maroon had a perfect screen on a Travis Zajac goal, but he did not receive a point for his efforts.  To me, that is silly.  The screen was the #1 reason for the goal.  Sure, Zajac had to make a good shot, which he did.  However, Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren likely makes the save if he sees the puck.  In fact, when an NHL player takes an unscreened first shot (as opposed to a rebound), an NHL goalie saves it nearly every time.

In hockey, a forward often finds himself parked in front of the opposing net while his teammates pass the puck around the zone.  As soon as one of his teammates prepares to shoot, this forward has three offensive responsibilities: screen the goalie, try to deflect the puck, and look for the rebound.  If the player successfully deflects the puck into the net or puts a rebound into the net, the player earns a point (a goal).  However, if the player successfully screens the goalie to allow for a goal, this player is unrewarded statistically?  This seems quite incongruent to me.

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Therefore, I feel that the official scorer should have the right to award a point for a screen.  In this case, the person who would – under current rules – earn the secondary assist would not earn a point.  I am OK with that though.  Sure, the second-to-last pass setting up a goal is important to the goal, but it is not as important as the screen.  The screen more directly contributes to the goal than the secondary pass.  Therefore, the screener deserves the point.

Hopefully, I have now answered my question, “If I write a post, and nobody reads it; did I still write the post?”

Let – But Do Not Force – Colleges to Pay Athletes

“Marginal revenue product”.   This three-word term essentially means “How much value does a worker’s work provide for society?”  This question provides half of the logic behind how much a worker should be paid.  The other half of the logic comes from the answer to “How many available workers can provide the same value as this worker?”  In short, a person’s salary comes down to supply and demand.

Doctors and lawyers earn a great deal of money because a) they provide very valuable services to society, and b) very few people in society are skilled and trained at these professions.  Similarly, in the United States, professional athletes are generally paid extremely well.  Oftentimes, I hear people say, “Why should players make so much money to get to play a game for a living?”  Well, the answer is “Because of us”.  We Americans as a whole pay a lot of money to watch professional sports, and this money is revenue for sports teams, leagues, and networks.  Additionally, very few people are skilled enough at a sport to play it at the major-league level.  In fact, there are many more people who have the skill to be a successful doctor and lawyer than there are those who can play professional sports.  Since professional athletes bring large sums of revenue and are in quite low supply, they are paid large sums of money.  Some people might not like this, but it makes perfect economic sense.

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What a perfect segue now into this week’s hot-button sports topic, “Should college athletes be paid?”  To me, the general answer is quite simple, even if the details are quite complex.  I believe that colleges should be allowed, but not forced, to pay their athletes.  College sports are a business, and, as with any business, workers should be paid based on their supply and marginal revenue product.  It is ridiculous to think that major college-football teams can fill 100,000-seat stadiums, sell huge scores of jerseys, allow players’ numbers to be used in video games….yet are not allowed to pay their players out of the resulting profit.  At the same time, it is ridiculous to think that athletes on a Missouri Valley Conference men’s swimming team, who earn next to nothing in terms of revenue (and thus have zero marginal revenue product), should be paid above whatever scholarships they might be receiving.

I will now explain my framework for change.  I feel that, in Division-I athletics, each sport should have a salary cap.  I do not know what that number is, but it should be directly proportional (which does not mean “directly equal”….The revenue will still outpace the salary cap) to the amount of revenue that the average Division-I team in that sport earns.  In other words, the more revenue a sport earns on average, the higher the salary cap.  People privy to more financial information than I can decide on a logical value for the cap.

Regardless, for argument’s sake, let us say that the men’s college-basketball salary cap is $5 million.  The big boys of college basketball – Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, UNC, etc. – would likely use the full $5 million.  Perhaps one of these programs would pay each of its top three recruits $1 million per year and use the remaining $2 million to disseminate among its other players.  That would seem logical to me, but the schools can decide this.  Maybe no teams would spend the full value of the cap.  It is up to the colleges to decide how much to spend.  The “$5 million” number seems reasonable to me, in that a) it would mean that colleges would continue to pay players much less than in the NBA, which is an important distinction (more on that later); b) it would give players “enough of the pie” they are producing; and c) it would greatly reduce the likelihood that coaches would violate recruiting rules.

In terms of “c”, my change would allow the NCAA to have a better handle on recruiting violations.  First off, by allowing coaches to provide legal compensation to players, these coaches would have less motivation to provide illegal compensation.   This idea is similar to speed limits.  People not named “Sheldon Richardson” are more likely to obey the speed limit on an 80-mph highway than a 55-mph highway.  Secondly, with this cap, the NCAA could stop worrying about “trivial” transgressions.  With a $5-million cap, the NCAA would not need to obsess over whether or not a coach took a player’s family to dinner and gave the family some college shirts.  That value of the dinner and shirts would be negligible in the grand scheme of a $5-million cap.  Instead, the NCAA could focus solely on major violations.  For example, if John Calipari were to dole out the $5 million but then provide Range Rovers for a few of the kids, the NCAA would blow the whistle on it.  However, if Coach Cal were to take the kids out to Outback Steakhouse during a few recruiting visits, who cares?

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Now, I realize that some of you might be thinking, “This policy change would hurt the mid-majors, who cannot dole out the full $5 million.”  Would it really though?  Honestly, I think that, on the court, things would play out remarkably similarly to how they do now.  Right now, great high-school players often have to decide, “Do I go to Duke, where I might be a fringe starter?  Or do I go to Wichita State, where I would be the star of the team?”  This same scenario would continue to unfold.  If Duke is already paying a large amount of its cap to 4 or 5 players, Wichita State might be able to offer this prospective player more money than Duke anyway.   Regardless, my plan would probably mean that Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, and Michigan State would be top-notch teams every year.  Oh wait, exactly like they have been for almost my entire life!  Therefore, mid-majors would be in the same competitive position in which they usually find themselves.

Let us now switch gears from men’s basketball.  Given that this sport and football are the biggest revenue generators in college, these sports would have the highest salary caps.  That said, the same salary-cap premise would also apply to other sports.  Women’s basketball does not generate as much revenue as men’s basketball and thus would have a smaller cap.  At the same time, UConn would likely spend more money on its players than most other programs would, as UConn typically generates relatively high revenue.  Meanwhile, in baseball and softball, perhaps some of the big-time programs like Arizona or Texas would pay their players, but most would not.  The revenue simply is not there.  The same thing goes for plenty of men’s and women’s college-basketball teams, who would choose not to pay players.  For example, I am a proud Colgate alum, but very few people attend Colgate’s basketball games.  I would expect that Colgate would choose not to pay any of its players.  The same thing would go for a good chunk of colleges that really only garner attention when they become #14-16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

For those of you who worry that my system of “Pay if you want” would be “unfair” to the bulk of college athletes who do not receive paychecks, this is simply untrue.  A college education costs a few hundred-thousand dollars.  If an athletic scholarship defrays even part of that cost, then the athlete is being paid implicitly.  Furthermore, if a non-scholarship athlete is accepted into a better college than would have accepted him/her without the athletic implication, that athlete is paid as well.  He/she is paid in the form of higher future earnings due to having gone to a more prestigious college than he/she otherwise could have attended.

Thus, all college athletes are paid one way or another, explicitly or implicitly.  My plan merely alters the payment structure so that the players who earn large sums of revenue for a college are paid for this.  It is basic business.  The more money you make for a company, the more you get paid.  College athletics should be no different.

Let me now tie up three loose ends with my proposal.

  • I propose that recruits be forced to commit to 3-year guaranteed contracts, with player options for the fourth year. The “one and done” thing is a joke.  Most of us sports fans hate it; we want to see some continuity from year to year with our sports teams.  Of course, in order to achieve this goal, we need to tie up the second loose end.


  • The NBA and NFL age minima should be 17. Long ago, I believe that Bill Simmons suggested that the NBA imposed the age minimum to keep teams from signing high-school busts (Sebastian Telfair, Dajuan Wagner, etc.) and thus embarrassing the GMs.  He is probably correct, and he is also correct that the GMs’ logic is silly.  Anyone who has read Moneyball knows that it is riskier drafting a high-school player than a guy out of college.  One does not know how a high-schooler will mature physically and mentally.  One does not know how a high-schooler will perform when making a two-level jump (high school to college to pros).  Therefore, may the buyer beware.  GMs should be allowed to draft 17/18-year-olds.  GMs know the risk/reward tradeoff, and they should plan accordingly.  If a GM things he has the next Lebron, Kobe, or Garnett; he should draft the high-schooler.  If he is uncertain, maybe he should take the safe route and grab a college guy with a lower ceiling but a higher floor.  That is for GMs to decide, but the minimum should be 17.  Meanwhile, high-schoolers would know that they could either enter the draft out of high school, or else they would be mandated to complete three years of college before entering the draft.  This is similar to baseball and would be good for the college game and pro game.


  • This is unrelated to the first two loose ends, but I need to say it. I do not believe that the current college system is the result of racism, as several prominent people have lately suggested.  One of my favorite quotes is Hanlon’s razor, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”  Maybe this is because I am optimist who believes that people are generally good….but often not that smart.  Anyway, in the case of college athletics, I think that Hanlon’s razor applies.  Why is the college-sports system what it is now?  The best answer is probably, “Because that’s how they’ve always done it.”


In the 1950s and 1960s, when college athletics were much less racially diverse than they are now, players were not paid either.  In fact, over the past 50-70 years; as college sports have become more diverse, all of the following have happened: 1) College educations have become more valuable, in that there are fewer employers who will hire those without college educations; 2) The number of scholarships has increased; and 3) The amount and values of illegal contributions to players has presumably increased greatly.   Therefore, one could argue that players are better compensated now than they were during an era in which college athletics were much less diverse.

Yes, it is fair to speculate that the current college-athletic structure is more unfair to African American athletes more than to others, and that is definitely a matter worth fixing (as I feel my proposal would).  However, I would attribute this situation to the NCAA’s stupidity, not to racist motives.  Again, “never attribute to malice what can adequately be attributed to stupidity.”

Image result for never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

Anyway, now that I have tied up my loose ends, I will wrap things up.  Let us allow, but not force colleges to pay players, and let us make the NBA and NFL age minima 17.

What If the Kerrigan/Harding Incident Happened Today?

Two of the two most memorable off-the-field sports moments of my sports fandom occurred in 1994.  One of these two happenings was the OJ Simpson drama.  The other thing was the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident.  Many people credit the 16 months of OJ Simpson coverage with the starts of two modern phenomena: the proliferation of 24-hour news channels and our societal obsession with celebrities (which has evolved into reality shows, social-media coverage, etc.).  Of course, that “societal obsession with celebrities” has infiltrated those 24-hour news channels, not to mention ESPN, MTV, E!, Bravo, and well just about everything.

That said, the Winter-1994 Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident happened before the OJ stuff; nevertheless our country – in a pre-reality-TV/news-channels-galore/social-media world –did manage to obsess over the figure skaters.  Naturally, it was a more primitive obsession than today, as we consumed our daily Tonya/Nancy fix via the major networks’ news shows, Sportscenter, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and newspapers – to name a few resources.  All the while, because the Tonya/Nancy stuff did happen before the current social-media and news climates, I have wondered what the coverage would have been like had the incident happened today.  After all, one American Olympic figure skater was indirectly involved with the clubbing of another American Olympic figure skater!  Even 24 years later, this thought remains completely insane!  Anyway, in 1994, Shawn Stant (hired by Tonya Harding’s “bodyguard” Shawn Eckhardt, acting kinda on behalf Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, who was acting kinda on behalf of Harding) clubbed Nancy Kerrigan below her knees after a January-6 practice.  The Olympic women’s long figure-skating program, in which Kerrigan won silver and Harding finished eighth (following a shoelace issue), ultimately took place on February 25.  What madness would have ensued if this had taken place in 2018 instead of 1994? One can only imagine.  Therefore, without further ado, here is the fictional timeline from my imagination.

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January 6: The clubbing happens.  1267 TV channels, including the Food Network and Animal Planet, set up shop outside the Detroit ice rink, site of the clubbing, and provide at least 3 full days of around-the-clock coverage.

January 7: The Internet breaks.  Just to be clear, the Tonya/Nancy thing does not actually break the Internet.  Instead, so many people post on social media that “This story is gonna break the Internet” that the Internet actually breaks from that.

January 7: A record number of memes and vines are created to Kerrigan’s “Whyyyy???”  Plus, after a five-year hiatus, the “Harlem Shake” returns with people mimicking Harding and Kerrigan in the second part of each video.

January 8: This “Harlem Shake” rebirth ends abruptly.

January 8: Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers each tell a joke about the Harding/Kerrigan incident, marking the first time since June 2015 that one of them has told a joke that does not contain the name “Donald Trump”.

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January 9: Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe proudly shout in unison, “There is no place for crowbars in figure skating!”  It is their first time ever agreeing on something, but their Bennigan’s waitress reminds them, “Gentlemen, ‘Undisputed’ was cancelled months ago.  Stop coming in here and pretending that you are filming a TV show.”

January 10: ESPN announces that ESPN, ESPN2, and the Ocho will provide “round the clock Kerrigan/Harding coverage until the Olympics”.  ESPN lobbies successfully to have Congress instate its own version of British Parliament’s Quartering Act of 1765 to allow Pedro Gomez to move into the Harding residence, Stephen A. Smith to move into the Kerrigan residence, and Barry Melrose to move into the Eckhardt residence.  This allows the reporters to cover their subjects 24 hours per day.  ESPN’s amount of hockey coverage is unaffected.

January 11: In her first public comments since the “incident”, Tonya Harding – sitting next to her new PR representative Mark McGwire – says, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”

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January 11: FOXNews hosts a roundtable discussion, “Has #takeaknee gone too far?  First Kaepernick, now Kerrigan.”

January 12: Kerrigan says that, although she continues to suffer extreme leg pain, she is fine to skate in the Olympics.  Sports analysts spend a combined 154,360 hours agreeing with each other that Kerrigan’s competing in the Olympics will be a greater feat than Willis Reed in 1970 and the Michael Jordan Flu Game and will be just slightly less impressive than Christ walking on water.

January 12: Mike Francesa makes a guest appearance on WFAN and says, “The idea that you can hire a goon – and that’s what he is, folks, a goon – to break the legs, literally break the legs, of your competitor is the most awful thing I have heard in my sports caree-ah.  I mean, that’s just all there is to it.  Seriously, the guy tried to break her legs.  We are talking about breaking legs…”  Francesa repeats the “Breaking legs” comment somewhere between 200 and 300 times before angrily hanging up on a caller who suggests separating Judge and Stanton in the Yankees’ batting order.

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January 13: Taylor Swift rewrites the lyrics for “Bad Blood” in honor of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

January 16: The Mets invite Kerrigan clubber Shawn Stant to Spring Training.  Sandy Alderson applauds his line-drive rate and says that a little time with Tim Tebow should make Stant a better man.  Alderson expects both players to be in the Mets’ starting outfield by July.

January 20: Lavar Ball declares that his three sons could skate blindfolded and still take gold, silver, and bronze in the Olympic men’s and women’s figure-skating competitions.

January 21: Hillary Clinton repeatedly recites “When they go low, Nancy goes high” into her mirror.  Clinton rehearses this line for days as she prepares for a Kerrigan-themed TV interview that nobody but her is planning.

January 22: Giants fans say that they agree with clubbing Nancy Kerrigan but that the way Stant went about clubbing her was wrong.

January 24: Kylie Jenner has a baby and actually gives her a normal name, “Nancy”.  For some reason, people care a whole lot about this.

January 27: Lebron James holds a press conference to condemn the clubbing of athletes.  Haters say, “Stay out of politics, Lebron.  You’ve never been clubbed in the leg.  How can YOU know anything about this issue?”

January 28: At the Grammys, all guests wear silver to take a stand against the clubbing of Olympic athletes.

January 28: At the Grammys, Kerrigan sits next to Taylor Swift, and they dance awkwardly together during all of the performances.  At the end of the night, Kerrigan announces that she has created an all-Taylor Swift playlist for her Olympic long program.

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January 29: Tonya Harding announces that she will skate in the Olympics to an all-Kanye playlist.

January 30: MSNBC hosts a Roundtable Discussion: “The Clubbing of Olympic Athletes: This Never Would Have Happened if Obama Were Still President”

January 31: Jeff Gillooly, realizing his chances of rekindling his marriage with Tonya is over, agrees to become the new Bachelor.  ABC immediately starts filming to air the premiere two weeks later, just in time to compete with the Olympics.  Also, ABC knows that this year’s current bachelor is a major tool and that Nick Viall was much better.

February 4: Super Bowl prop bet: If you parlay “Al Michaels will make a gambling reference” with “Al Michaels will make a Harding/Kerrigan reference as Collinsworth chuckles awkwardly”, you win big.

February 6: Miraculously, President Trump has waited a full month before tweeting about the Kerrigan incident.  Finally, on this date, he tweets, “Nancy’s an 8.  Tonya’s a 4. Tonya’s guilty!  LOCK her up!!!!”

February 7: Huffington Post finds pro-Trump tweets from Tonya Harding from 2016 and 2017 and presents these tweets to the public.

February 8: President Trump tweets, “Kerrigan’s a CRYbaby!  Tonya’s innocent!  Innocent until proven guilty!  Check out the crowds in the food court to watch her skate.  Huuuuge.  Huge crowds!!!! Oregon loves Tonya! Oregon loves Donald Trump!   Donald Trump loves food courts!!!!!”

February 8: One day before the Opening Ceremonies, Nancy Kerrigan is seen with renowned hitting coach Kevin Long.  All networks spend 24 hours wondering if she will swing the American flag at Harding’s legs as they enter the Opening Ceremonies.

February 23: After a strong short program by Russia’s Oksana Baiul, both President Trump and Hillary Clinton accuse the other (on Twitter) of colluding with Baiul to arrange Kerrigan’s clubbing.

February 25: Harding has a shoelace malfunction during her long program.  Making matters worse; as she cries to the judges, Pierre McGuire shows up from behind the glass to ask her, “How are you feeling out there, Tonya?”

February 25: Al Gore tweets that Harding would have done better in the Olympics if global warming hadn’t made for poor ice conditions.

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February 25: After the figure-skating program ends, President Trump tweets, “HUGE ratings for the Olympics tonight.  Much bigger than the Olympic ratings under Obama!!!!   Beautiful job by all the ladies!!!”

February 25: CNN Roundtable Discussion: “Most Sexist Tweet Ever???  Trump Calls Figure Skaters ‘Beautiful’”

February 26: Following her 8th-place finish at the Olympics, Harding joins the cast of “Real World” and starts a lifetime career in the reality-TV circuit.  Years later, Jeff Gillooly and she temporarily reunite for 10 seasons of “Marriage Boot Camp: Celebrity Edition”, in which they are 100 times more famous than anyone else on the show.

February 28: Nancy Kerrigan signs on to be the next Bachelorette, to be on “Dancing with the Stars”, and to be a judge on “The Voice”.

March 1: Tonya Harding is sentenced to never being allowed to compete in US figure-skating contests again.  Bernie Sanders defends her, saying that it is another case of the economic system being rigged against the lower class.  President Trump tweets, “I told you Tonya was guilty!  Great job by our United States legal system!!!!”

Yup, I am pretty sure that this is how things would have turned out for Tonya and Nancy in the modern day.


Olympic Hockey is So Much Better Without NHL Players!

I have not been this pumped for Olympic hockey since 1994, the last time that NHL players were not allowed in the Olympics.  I realize that I am in the minority with this opinion, but I do not mind being in the minority on sports opinions. (See “Eli Manning”)

There are three major reasons why I dislike having NHL players in the Olympics.  I will list them now in declining order of importance.

  • I associate players with their current NHL teams. I cannot stop on a dime and change the players for whom I root for two random weeks in February, only for me to change back at the end of those two weeks.  This issue became most pronounced in the 2002 Gold Medal Game.  In that game, two players were on the ice for the full 60 minutes – Mike Richter and Martin Brodeur.  Yes, Ranger Mike Richter and Devil Martin Brodeur.  Yes, American Mike Richter and Canadian Martin Brodeur.

While I have written in the past about my strong dislike for the Yankees, I despise the Rangers a thousand times more.  I cannot stand the Rangers.  I loathe the Rangers.  Anyway, from 1993 through 2002, I watched countless Devils/Rangers games featuring Martin Brodeur and Mike Richter.  To that point, I had always rooted for Brodeur, my all-time favorite athlete, to come out on top over Richter.  However, now that the players were wearing different uniforms for two weeks, I was suddenly supposed to change for whom I am supposed to root?  Look, I agree with Jerry Seinfeld that, in sports, we are really always just rooting for laundry.  (Sidebar: I love Todd Frazier now!)  However, expecting me to overhaul my rooting habits for a mere two weeks in the heat of the NHL season (and then overhaul them back again) seemed patently ridiculous. Thus, I found myself rooting for Team Canada on that day in 2002.  I am not proud of that, but, given the circumstances, I find my actions defensible.  Meanwhile, this issue did not disappear after 2002.

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In subsequent Olympics (2006, 2010, and 2014), I have rooted for Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, and Patrik Elias on other countries’ teams.  Meanwhile, I have rooted against Rangers, Flyers, and Penguins on the American team.  In fact, there was no post-1994 Olympics – until this year’s – in which I found myself pouring all of my heart into the US Olympic men’s hockey team.  Once a player is playing for an NHL team, I associate him with that team, not with his country.   (Do not get me started on the World Baseball Classic, which will not “happen” until long after “fetch” “happens”.  Also, I would never root for Bryce Harper, Chipper Jones, or Derek Jeter!)  Plain and simple, my emotions are too fragile and my loyalty too deep to root for players one week, against them the next two weeks, and for them again afterward (and vice versa).

  • Having NHL players in the Olympics makes zero economic sense for the NHL.   Can you imagine Adam Silver, Roger Goodell, or Rob Manfred stopping his respective season at the ¾ mark so that his top players can play in an intense, physical tournament for which his league receives ZERO revenue???  That is comical….and I am sure that all three of these commissioners and their predecessors have laughed at Gary Bettman because of it.  Interestingly, Islanders GM Garth Snow took flak four years ago for blasting the practice of having NHL players in the Olympics.  Snow spoke out after Islanders star John Tavares hurt his knee in the Olympics and thus missed the remainder of the NHL season.  Snow complained that a player under an NHL contract should not play for another team, risking major injury and/or fatigue, during an NHL season.  Somehow, many people thought Snow was out of line for his comments, which confounds me.  Snow was absolutely right.  (Fittingly, Garth Snow was a goalie on the 1994 US Olympic team, the last edition comprised solely of amateurs.)

Of course, some people counter my economic argument by saying that the NHL draws more interest following the Olympics.  Well, my friends, that argument is baloney.  It is Grade-A baloney.  There is not a single person who watches Olympic hockey and thinks to him/herself, “You know, I did not watch the NHL before, but now I am definitely tuning into the Flyers/Stars game next week.”  That does not happen.  The NHL does not get a ratings bump off the Olympics.  People who would have watched the NHL continue to watch the NHL; people who would not have watched it continue not to watch the NHL.  It is no different than the situations with most other Olympics sports and me.  I love watching Olympic skiing, speed skating, luge, bobsledding, figure skating, curling, swimming, gymnastics, track and field, and slalom-kayaking.  What is the key word in that sentence?  “Olympic”.  That is all I am watching.  The week after the Olympics, those sports are all dead to me, as they are to many Olympic fans.  Likewise, this is how hockey is for Olympic, non-NHL fans.  These individuals tune in for Olympic hockey and then wait four years to watch hockey again.

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Given all that logic, why the heck should NHL teams be expected to expose their players to major injury and fatigue 5-7 weeks before the NHL playoffs?  It is asinine.  It is a major cost with no benefit for the NHL.  Sure, I know that players really want to be able to play in the Olympics, but that is life.  These players cannot have their cake and eat it too.  Plus, many of you know that I think the MLB season is too long.  Well, I certainly feel the same way about the NHL season, and having the players go to the Olympics makes the season even longer!  Craziness.  I am very glad that is not the case this season.

  • Lastly, I do not feel much American pride watching a team that has had all of one or two practices together suddenly play together in the Olympics. I do not feel much American pride watching a team that flies to the Olympics 3 days after the Opening Ceremonies and now plays 3 to 6 games together.  Both of these afore-mentioned scenarios describe the American teams of the previous five Olympics.  Meanwhile, if you have seen Miracle, you know that one of the joys of the 1980 American gold medal came from the adversity the team had to overcome over more than a year’s worth of training.  “A bunch of guys from Minnesota and Massachusetts” spent months getting over their differences and individuality to realize that they were playing for one team.  These players committed themselves every day for over a year to their teammates and to winning a gold medal for the United States.

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On the other hand, let us look at 2014. During the Sochi Opening Ceremonies, I was at The Rock, watching the Devils beat the Oilers in overtime.  Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr, and Marek Zidlicky suited up for the Devils that night, which is interesting considering that they were on the Czech Olympic team.  Similarly, the next night, I went to a bar in Hoboken.  On one TV, I saw the Olympics; on the neighboring TV, I watched the Capitals and US Olympic defenseman John Carlson defeat the Devils.  Thus, the Olympics had begun, yet most of the players on the top-8 Olympic hockey teams were still focused on their NHL teams.  Only a day or two later did the NHL Olympic players finally fly to Sochi, Russia, to commence their participation in the Olympic games.

It is very hard to get psyched to watch an Olympic team full of guys who were still playing NHL games during the first few days of the Olympics.  These NHL/Olympic hockey players spend little thought on their Olympic teams and gold medals before boarding those planes three days into the Games.  This does not exactly evoke memories of “Mike Eruzione…I play for the United States of America!!!”  Plus, some people claim that it is better to have NHL players in the Olympics, because Olympic medals are meant to reward the best players and best teams in the world.  However, in reality, it takes months for a hockey team to jell and for the cream to rise to the top.  The probability is relatively slim that the best hockey team will win the gold medal, given that the players have essentially no practice time, play three games, and then enter a single-elimination tournament.

Anyway, I have now listed and explained my three reasons why I do not like having NHL players in the Olympics.  Granted, I realize that many of the American players this year are not amateurs like we used in all of the Olympic Games through 1994.  Many of these players, like captain and Devils single-season goal-scoring leader Brian Gionta, have played in the NHL at some point.  Also, these players have not trained together for a full year or longer.

That said, at least these players been practicing together – as a team – in pursuit of a gold medal for a few months.  That is enough for me.  Plus, even if some of these players – like Matt Gilroy and Bobby Sanguinetti – did once play for the Rangers, it was a few years ago….not right now.  After a few years away from the Garden, I am able to erase the Rangers “stink” from a player, as I have with Devils Brian Boyle and John Moore.

This leads me to my last point.  In 1994, I had the pleasure of watching both the Devils and Olympic hockey on the same days.  That was one of the greatest thrills of my sports-watching life.  Throw in the facts that the 1993-4 Devils had their best season in history to that point and that the current Devils are now having their best season since 2012, and I am very excited to have a sports repeat of February 1994…minus Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding, and a messed-up shoelace.

Tom Brady is the GOAT

It seems that most football fans decided several years ago that Bill Belichick was the GOAT (“Greatest of All Time”) when it comes to coaches, yet there are still plenty of fans who have not wanted to call Tom Brady the GOAT among quarterbacks.  To those individuals, I say it is time to give it up.

Seriously, on what grounds can one claim that Tom Brady is not the GOAT?  Let me now rebut any argument in favor of a non-Brady being the GOAT:

  • If you think the GOAT is anyone who played before 1980, you are picking a quarterback who played in an era when a) QBs threw somewhat rarely, b) the running back was the focal point of the offensive backfield, c) teams did much less elaborate scheming than you see now, and thus d) quarterbacks spent much less time perfecting their craft. Sure, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, and Terry Bradshaw played when there was a different bar for “greatness” for a quarterback.  It is just that said bar was 75% lower than the current bar.  Nobody in his/her right mind would say that a Night at the Roxbury cell phone is the GOAT of the cell-phone world, simply because that phone was considered amazing in 1998.  The same premise goes for calling an old-time QB the GOAT.  Brady is an iPhone, so please do not tell me you would rather have a Cingular


  • It is not John Elway, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, or Dan Marino. Remember that Tom Brady has a 196-55 regular-season record and a 28-9 playoff record.  He has 488 touchdowns and 160 interceptions in the regular season and 71:31 numbers in the postseason.  Oh, he also has been to a record 8 Super Bowls and won a record 5 of them as a starting QB.  The four guys I have mentioned cannot come near a resume like that.

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  • It is not Aaron Rodgers. Yes, when Rodgers is healthy, he is the best quarterback in the league right now.  However, Brett Favre and injuries have kept his career performance down a bit.  Plus, consecutive seasons of legendarily devastating playoff defeats in Seattle and Arizona quite possibly kept him from having three championships, instead of 1.  I cannot say that a guy with one Super Bowl appearance is the GOAT.  Rodgers still has much of his career ahead of him.  Therefore, I cannot count him out in terms of taking over as GOAT.  However, he has a long way to go.


  • It is not Peyton Manning. Yes, there were times when we thought that Peyton was better.  However, Brady ultimately surpassed Peyton everywhere that matters.  Manning’s regular-season record of 186-79 falls short of Brady’s.  His 9-10 playoff record falls light years short of Brady’s.  While it is fair to say that Peyton’s playoff record is hurt by having several byes (and thus avoiding easy Wild-Card-Round wins), Brady’s is hurt by the same factor, and his record is doing just fine.  Both Brady and Peyton put up gaudy numbers on some very talented teams, while both dragged a few untalented teams to 10-win seasons.  Yes, Peyton threw for nearly 72,000 yards, while Brady threw for a little more than 66,000, but that is a negligible difference in the grand scheme of their careers.  Plus, Peyton was not good in Super Bowls.  He was average while winning Super Bowl MVP against the Bears (I thought Dominic Rhodes should have won the honor), was decent in the loss to the Saints, put up an epically horrendous performance against the Seahawks, and was dragged to a championship by Von Miller and the Broncos’ defense to finish his career.  Meanwhile, Tom Brady has played well to incredibly well in all eight of his Super Bowls.  In big game after big game, Brady has fought back through adversity.  However in big game after big game, Peyton performed worse as things got worse.  (Save for the 21-3 comeback against the Pats in the 2006 season).  Seriously, when the Broncos were down 8-0 in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII, Peyton already had a look on his face of “I don’t want to be here anymore.”   Having watched Peyton and Brady for their entire careers, I can say that Peyton Manning is incredible.   However, Brady is clearly better.

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  • It is not Joe Montana. Montana has the best non-Brady case for being the GOAT, outside of Brady.  However, it is still not Montana.  A 117-47 regular-season record and a 16-7 playoff record are impressive, but Brady’s are better.  Plus, Montana threw for 40,551 yards, which is a far cry from Brady’s numbers.  I know that Montana played in an era when defensive players tried to murder any receiver cutting across the middle of the field, but a 26,000-yard difference is too sizable to attribute solely to that fact.  (Keep in mind that it was not until the second half of Brady’s career that the rules changed as mentioned here to receivers’ and QBs’ benefits.)  Therefore, I do attribute much of the yardage difference to the difference in eras (see the cell-phone analogy).


That said, I know the #1 argument that people make in favor of Montana being the GOAT.  These people say, “The guy never lost in the Super Bowl.  Brady has lost three times.”  OK, that argument would have merit if quarterbacks were randomly assigned Super Bowl trips.  However, it does not actually work that way.  Because a QB must earn a trip to the Super Bowl, a Super Bowl loss is a positive for a quarterback’s resume.  Of course, it is nowhere near as big a positive as a Super Bowl win, but it is positive nonetheless.  Furthermore, if Brady were 3-3 in Super Bowls, Montana sympathizers would have a leg on which to stand.  However, Brady is not 3-3.  He is 5-3.  He has won more Super Bowls than Montana, and he has been in twice as many.


Also, some people talk about how Montana “dominated” his Super Bowls, while Brady “has not”.  Yes, Montana dominated 3 of his 4 Super Bowls, his first being the only one in which he had pedestrian numbers.  People remember that two of his Super Bowls ended 38-16 and 55-10.  Yes, that is incredibly impressive.  However, Brady put up great numbers in all except his first Super Bowl, in which he led a game-winning drive in the last minute.  It is also worth noting that the Niners allowed 21, 16, 16, and 10 points in Montana’s four Super Bowl wins.  Meanwhile, the Patriots have allowed 17, 29, 21, 17, 21, 24, 28, and 41 points in Brady’s eight Super Bowls.  While I am not going to list all of Brady’s Super Bowl game stats, I can tell you that they are quite impressive (especially Sunday’s 505 yards with zero interceptions!) and rival Montana’s on a per-game basis.  I can also tell you that Brady’s lack of a dominant Super Bowl win is more of a function of the Pats’ and Niners’ defenses than it is of Montana’s and Brady’s play.  That said, Montana does get a point over Brady for having two lopsided Super Bowl wins.  I have to acknowledge that, so that Point #6 does not later turn me into a hypocrite.  (Montana should also lose a point for having a 49-3 playoff loss to the 1986 Giants.  Brady has no playoff losses that were so lopsided.)

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All that said, I feel strongly that 8 total Super Bowls, 5 Super Bowl wins, and 4 late-game Super Bowl-winning drives more than offset Montana’s two blowout wins and 4 total SB wins/appearances.


  • Sure, Brady’s career has been helped immensely by Bill Belichick, but that does not keep Brady from being the GOAT. All great players in team sports are functions of their teammates, coaches, and other external factors.  If Drew Bledsoe never got hurt or if Tom Brady were drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Tom Brady might not have become anything special at all.  However, you could say play the “What if?” game with anyone.  What if Bill Walsh were not in San Francisco with Montana?  What if the Colts picked Ryan Leaf and Peyton ended up on the Chargers?  Heck, what would Michael Jordan be if either Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, or both had never shown up in Chicago?  We do not know.  Nobody knows.  Therefore, we can judge greatness only by what we do know.

Yes, being the GOAT often requires some luck, but many people get good luck.  To be the GOAT, a player has to make the most out of every single morsel of luck that he receives.  Tom Brady was forced into action on an 0-2 Pats team that was following up a 5-11 season.  Let us not act like he was gifted a Hall-of-Fame career on a platter.  For every Tom Brady, there are countless John Skeltons, Brian Hoyers, Greg McElroys, Tim Rattays, Charlie Whitehursts, Trent Edwardses, and so on who make very little out of their good fortune.

Simply put, Tom Brady was given an opportunity in September of 2001; he grabbed that opportunity; and he has spent 17 years becoming the GOAT of NFL quarterbacks.

Carson Wentz Wants the Patriots to Win the Super Bowl

Carson Wentz wants the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.  Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sure, we might hear an interview this week with Wentz in which he says something like, “I’ll be rooting harder than anyone for Nick Foles and the Eagles.”  Sure, reporters will inevitably blow this up into a full-page story about what a great team guy Wentz is, as if he had not simply uttered the obvious cliché line that any player in his situation would say.  However, let us be clear: If Wentz says anything at all about rooting for the Eagles, he is full of you-know-what.    Allow me to explain.

Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate as of the time of his Week-14 injury.  The Eagles were 10-2 at the time and on the verge of an 11th win.  Wentz was injured in the third quarter of that 11th win, and Nick Foles was ultimately behind center as the Eagles scored the winning points.  Thus, the Eagles entered Foles’s first 2017 start with an 11-2 record.   Since that time, Foles has started five games – two dominant efforts (against the Giants and in an otherworldly performance in the NFC Championship game against the Vikings), a solid effort in the Divisional Playoffs against the Falcons, an underwhelming performance in a win against the Raiders, and a bad but brief and meaningless performance in the season finale against the Cowboys.  In the modern NFL, it is not unusual for any starting quarterback to have two dominant games, a decent game, a below-average game, and a bad game over a 5-game stretch.

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However, it is a big deal that Foles’s most dominant game of this stretch did come in the NFC Championship.  In that game, he threw for 352 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a passer rating of 141.4.  That dominant performance against Minnesota has caused many people to shed a more positive light on Foles’s Divisional-Round effort with 246 passing yards and a 100.1 passer rating.  Furthermore, Foles’s win over the Giants saw Foles throw 4 touchdowns and bring the Eagles to a 99% probability of earning the top seed in the NFC.  Therefore, it is easy for Eagles fans to ignore Foles’s bad efforts in Weeks 16 and 17, as the games were essentially meaningless.

That all said, Carson Wentz did lead the Eagles to a 10-2 record this season and had them on the doorstep of 11-2.  Carson Wentz did all the heavy lifting to earn the Eagles the top seed in the playoffs.   In 13 starts, Wentz threw for 3296 yards, 33 TDs, 7 interceptions, and a 101.9 passer rating.  For good measure, Wentz also added 299 rushing yards.  Yes, Foles has had two dominant games and one respectable game over a 5-game stretch, but could Foles have done what Wentz did for 13 games?  I do not know.  Furthermore, if Wentz is as fierce a competitor as Eagles fans would want him to be, Wentz should think that Foles could not have done it.

Additionally, I am sure that Carson Wentz has thought from Day 1 in Philadelphia, “I am gonna be the guy who finally brings a Super Bowl Championship to Philly.  I am gonna be loved and adored in that City forever.   They will love me even more than they love Rocky, and they actually think that Rocky Balboa was a real person.”  Look, I hate the Eagles and hope that they go up in flames on Sunday, but, if the Eagles had drafted me to be their savior quarterback, I am certain I would be thinking the afore-mentioned quote as well.

Anyway, let us now take a quick journey through Carson Wentz’s career in Philly.  He had a strong, albeit losing, first season in Philly.  Then, he went out and dominated Season 2.  By midseason, the Eagles were the clear favorites to win the NFC.  Wentz put the Eagles on the doorstep of clinching the #1 seed, and then BOOM!…He got hurt.  By that point, Wentz’s replacement needed only to win one of three games to guarantee the #1 seed.  That replacement, Foles, took care of business in that first game.  Then, he stunk his way through Weeks 16 and 17.  After that, he played a very pedestrian game against the high-powered Atlanta Falcons.  Foles lead the Eagles to a mere 15 points but lucked out because his defense played a stellar game in holding Atlanta to 10.  The next week, Foles went out and played “the game of his life” against the Vikings to put the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Now, we do not know what will happen this coming Sunday in Minneapolis.  However, if the Eagles win, Nick Foles will forever be the guy adored by Eagles fans for bringing Philly its first Super Bowl Championship.  It does not matter that Wentz got the Eagles to 10-2 this season.  Foles will be the guy hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.  Even if Wentz ultimately wins (shudder) six future Philly championships as the starter, Foles will always be the guy who brought the city its first Super Bowl Championship.  That has to kill Wentz inside.  In fact, if it does not, and if I were an Eagles fan; I would be mad that my starting QB is not competitive enough!

Now I know many of you might be thinking of parallels between Wentz/Foles and Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler of the 1990 Giants.  We Giants fans loved Hostetler for stepping in for Simms and winning the last two regular-season games, two NFC-playoff games, and the Super Bowl.  However, we never thought that Hostetler could legitimately replace a healthy Simms (although a QB controversy did ultimately emerge in 1991 and 1992).  The Giants won those five Hostetler starts in the 1990 season on the strengths of an elite defense and a strong rushing attack.  Hostetler did just enough to win.  In fact, the Giants used a formula similar to that which the Eagles used with Foles against the Falcons.  That said, unlike with Foles against the Vikings, Hostetler did not have any “the game of his life” playoff games.

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In fact, when I put “the game of his life” in quotes for Foles’ NFC Championship performance, I did so because Foles did go 8-2 in 10 starts for the 2013 Eagles.  He threw for 2891 yards, 27 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a passer rating of 119.2.  Wow, those are some great numbers!  Also, Foles threw for 7 touchdowns in one game against the Raiders that year.  In fact, I would argue Foles’ 2013 numbers are more impressive than Wentz’s 2017 numbers, and Wentz knows that such a case can be made.  To the contrary, Jeff Hostetler was a career backup, and neither Simms nor most Giants fans ever felt that Hostetler could outplay Simms for any significant period of time.  Moreover, prior to Hostetler’s Super Bowl victory, Simms had already won a Super Bowl, the Giants’ first.  Therefore, even though Hostetler did win Super Bowl XXV with “Simms’ team”, Phil Simms knew he would remain more legendary than Jeff Hostetler in the minds of Giants fans.   On the other hand, the analogous scenario is not true with Wentz and Foles.  Wentz knows that Foles had an all-time great (by any QB’s standards) season 4 years ago and that Foles was temporarily ruined in 2015 by known QB wrecker Jeff Fisher.  It is not completely unreasonable for a person to think that Foles is better than Wentz…Wentz knows that and cannot be happy about it.  Meanwhile, Wentz does know though that, if Foles loses the Super Bowl, fickle Philly fans will immediately criticize Foles and talk about how they will win the Super Bowl next year when the superior Wentz returns.  Wentz has to know that.

On the other hand, if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, not only does Wentz have to deal with the “scene” of Foles basking in the glory Wentz feels should belong to him……but Wentz also knows that it is actually fathomable that he would then find himself in a “Goddamn arms race” with Foles.  Boom. That is a double whammy that would eat at my soul if I were Wentz.

Therefore, Wentz can say whatever he wants…but, deep down – in his heart, in his brain, and in his soul; he wants to be the guy to bring Philly its first Lombardi Trophy.  Carson Wentz is absolutely rooting for the Patriots.