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Archive for December, 2010

Will Federer and Nadal Continue To Dominate at Tennis Grand Slams? 0

Posted on December 31, 2010 by JA Allen

Federer and Nadal have met in three times in Wimbledon finals.

By now tennis fans are so used to the status quo that anytime Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal does not win a slam, the airwaves crackle with speculation.

Since 2003 Roger Federer has won 16 slam titles. The Swiss began with one title in 2003 at Wimbledon and ended with one title in 2010 at Melbourne, averaging almost three a year in the intervening years.

The news is usually when Federer is NOT in a grand slam final. He has won four Australian Open titles, one French Open championship, six titles at Wimbledon and five consecutive titles at the U.S. Open from 2004-2008.  He had appeared in 23 consecutive semifinals until Robin Soderling stopped that record at the French Open in 2010 during the quarterfinals.

Twenty-four year-old Rafael Nadal who won his first French Open title in 2005 has now won five titles at Stade Roland Garros. In 2010 Nadal captured a career grand slam when he won the U.S. Open for the first time.

In addition to five French Open titles and one U.S. Open championship, Nadal has captured Wimbledon twice in 2008 and 2010 and the Australian Open once in 2009.  Nadal owns nine grand slam trophies.

That leaves little room for anyone else.  This iron grip on majors is quite unusual in the history of the sport.  True, other players have dominated, but not for such an extended period. If we look back at the years since the Open Era began, you begin to see how extraordinary the dominance of the current No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players has been.

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2010 Sports Year in Review: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 0

Posted on December 30, 2010 by Dean Hybl

The Saints winning the Super Bowl was one of the good sports moments of 2010.

2010 has been an interesting year in the world of sports. As is typically the case, there have been some wonderful and memorable moments, but also some that we all wish could be erased from the memory banks.

Below is a look at some of the good, bad and ugly from 2010:

The Good:

New Orleans Saints Win the Super Bowl: For nearly 40 years the New Orleans Saints were the NFL’s epitome of the phrase “Nice guys always finish last.”

From the time the Saints entered the NFL in 1967 the franchise seemed to spend more time on the blooper reels than in the highlight films. It took 20 years before they posted a winning season and another 13 years before claiming their first playoff victory.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the region in 2005 there were some who believed that New Orleans could no longer support an NFL franchise. Yet, when the Superdome reopened in 2006 the people of New Orleans completely embraced their team and the players did the same for the city.

They reached the NFC Championship Game that year, but lost to the Bears and over the next two seasons slipped back into mediocrity and out of the national conscious.

After posting an 8-8 season in 2008 there was little expectation that the Saints would be a serious championship contender during the 2009 campaign. However, under the direction of quarterback Drew Brees the Saints came out firing on all cylinders and reeled off 13 straight victories to start the season and earn homefield advantage throughout the NFL playoffs.

Hosting the Minnesota Vikings in what would end up being one of the most exciting NFC Championship games ever, the Saints won 31-28 and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. Read the rest of this entry →

Final Chapter of Iowa Football: A Tale of Two Seasons in 2010 0

Posted on December 29, 2010 by JA Allen

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the season of Light…Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Iowa started strong led by Adrian Clayborn and Iowa's front four.

Redemption came at last in the Arizona desert where the first warning bell tolled against a predicted preeminent Iowa football season.

Iowa,who started college football in August as the media darling of the Big Ten, reportedly fielded one of the best defenses in the nation.  Indeed, Iowa’s front four proved to one of the best quartets in college football.

But even they needed help from the linebacker corps and the secondary to contain an assemblage of top-ranked quarterbacks who spread their opposing offenses, often picking apart even Iowa’s well-oiled defense.

Unfortunately for the Iowa D, the Hawkeye’s defensive coordinator, Norm Parker, was sidelined for the season in September after undergoing surgery to amputate his right foot, necessitated by complications of diabetes.

Furthermore mounting injuries practically decimated the Hawkeye linebacker corps as well as limiting or sidelining other key defensive personnel.

The first real chink, however, appeared in Tucson where the No. 24 Arizona Wildcats upset Iowa in an unusual game for the highly vaunted No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes.

In the first five minutes Iowa endured a blocked punt  and an interception, sending Arizona up 14-0. Iowa scored a touchdown in the second quarter but Arizona returned the subsequent kickoff for 100 yards and another score—plus two field goals.  Arizona was up 27-7 at the half.

Scoring another touchdown in the third quarter, Iowa climbed seven points closer. The Hawkeye’s defense had clamped down hard on the Wildcats, holding them scoreless well into the second half.

In the fourth quarter another Ricky Stanzi pass added another seven, leaving Iowa trailing only 27-21. At that point Broderick Binns intercepted a Nick Foles pass and returned it 20 yards for a score to break things wide open. But Trent Mussbrucker’s PAT was blocked and the score remained tied at 27-27.

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Classic Rewind: After Further Review, the Packers Edge the Bears 4

Posted on December 29, 2010 by A.J. Foss

From 1986 until 1991, the National Football League used an instant replay system in which an official in the booth would buzz the referees on the field, indicating that they were reviewing the previous play and then the replay official would determine whether or not the play needed to be reversed.

The most memorable moment under this replay system came in 1989 during a week nine matchup between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, in which the replay official determined if the potential game-winning touchdown was legal.

The Bears entered the game with a 5-3 record after starting the season with a 4-0 start.

The Bears were led by head coach Mike Ditka, who had taken control of the NFC Central Division as they won the division each year since 1984, including a Super Bowl title in 1985.

But the 1989 season was a year of transition as the team traded quarterback Jim McMahon during training camp and replaced him with quarterback Mike Tomczak, until he was replaced by third-year quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

The Packers entered the game with a 4-4 record under second-year head coach Lindy Infante.

The Packers had been stuck in mediocrity for the past two decades as the team made only two playoff appearances ever since head coach Vince Lombardi retired back in 1967.

The Packers’ starting quarterback was Don Majkowski, a 10th round selection out of the University of Virginia in 1987. Read the rest of this entry →

Best Quarterbacks in NFL History: Where Does Favre Rank? 8

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Where does Brett Favre rank among the top quarterbacks in NFL history?

Now that it appears Brett Favre’s 20-year NFL career is finally in its last stages, it provides an opportunity to analyze where the gunslinger ranks among the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

There have been many superstar quarterbacks who fall short when selecting the all-time greats because while they may have posted excellent career numbers, they never measurably made their team better.

The best quarterbacks make an average team good, a good team great and a great team into a champion.

Trying to analyze the value Favre brought to the Packers and recently to the Jets and Vikings can be challenging. Given his tendency for risk taking and the subsequent risk-reward results, did Favre make average teams perform at a higher level than they would have otherwise or did he make key mistakes at inopportune times that kept great Packer and Vikings teams from going as far as they maybe would have had he not been such a gunslinger?

During his 19 years as a starting quarterback, Favre has led his team to at least eight victories 17 times and to double digit win totals 10 times. However, Favre has a 2-3 record in NFC Championship Games and late interceptions cost his team in each of his last two trips to the conference title game.

Favre will retire as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, touchdown passes, passes intercepted and times sacked. However, he ranks only 17th in completion percentage and 21st in passer rating. So, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between how great he has been and how many of his records are purely a result of his longevity.

Since the game of football and the quarterback position have evolved so dramatically from the early days of the NFL, for the purpose of creating this list, I have included quarterbacks whose primary careers occurred after 1955. There is no question that Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham and Sid Luckman deserve to be recognized as among the best quarterbacks of all-time, but to try and thoughtfully compare their careers to those of today’s stars in virtually impossible.

Because quarterback stats have increased so dramatically even during the last 55 years, using just single season or career stats to analyze all-time greatness isn’t really an accurate assessment of where a player ranks among the best of all-time. Other qualities such as team success, comparison to others from that particular era and quality of the skill position players around the quarterback also can be used to chronicle success.

Below is my take on the top 10 quarterbacks in NFL history. In general, the selections are not significantly different than those listed in many other all-time quarterback lists.  Rather, there are some differences in my order than on other lists. If you have an opinion, please feel free to provide your own top 10. Read the rest of this entry →

Boston Celtics Keep On Winning 0

Posted on December 23, 2010 by Carl Desberg

The team's average margin of victory has been 12.5 over the streak, but Pierces jumper late gave the Celtics a closer win.

On November 22nd, the Boston Celtics started their winning streak with a lopsided win over the Atlanta Hawks. Over a month later, the C’s still have not lost.

Coach Doc Rivers has an interesting take on this stretch in an interview with WEEI radio this morning: “I know it sounds crazy but it’s a strange streak in many ways. As a staff I can tell you we’re not looking at it at all. We’re so focused on the next game and who is going to play and how we’re going to get a decent practice. In some ways every streak is a joy, but I don’t know if we’ve enjoyed this one as much because of all the other things.”

Doc’s right in many ways. During this streak, the Celtics have battled injuries just as much as the opponent. At times, the team has only had eight healthy bodies to practice, which makes it hard for the squad to refine their game. Shaq O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Rajon Rondo, Delonte West, and others have missed significant chunks over the past month which has really tested the depth of this team.

Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ainge spent much of the offseason compiling a strong bench in an effort to lengthen the playing rotation to ensure less playing time for his starters. The idea was good, but the result has not gone quite as planned. Due to numerous injuries, the Celtics’ Big Three have been carrying the load.

Playing their best basketball in years, the Big Three has led this 14 game charge. Each of the savvy veterans is playing like they’re in their prime and have truly adjusted to whoever is on the court with them better than ever. Doc Rivers preaches togetherness and it has never been more apparent than this month stretch. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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