Sports


NFL Pool Update

NFL Pool256 games later only three of the thirty-three NFL poolies can claim a piece of the pie. Among the top three finishers is my very own mother. Congratulations Mom!

I had a rather disappointing year, but still tied my brother Steve and beat my brother Ryan. Of course, all three of us were outclassed by dear old Mom who sure can pick 'em. At least Ryan won a week. Steve and I won diddly squat. I will exact my revenge during the 2004 NHL Playoff Pool. It's an annual event.

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Pack Attack

NFL PlayoffsIt's playoff time in the NFL, and once again my Bills will be watching the games on TV. With the Bills out of the playoffs, who will I root for. I find it extremely difficult to enjoy a sporting event without a rooting interest. This has always been the case. If no home team is present, I have to find an angle I can get behind so I care about the outcome. When I don't care who wins or loses, I lose interest altogether. Who am I rooting for in the NFL playoffs? The Green Bay Packers.

There are several reasons why I'll be backing the Pack...

  • Brett Favre is the man. I've always loved the way he plays the game. It's incredibly easy to root for Favre, and this year there's even more reason to do so. His beloved father dies suddenly, and Favre starts the Monday nighter and destroys the Oakland Raiders in a must-win game 41-7. Following a hectic week including his father's funeral, he goes out and destroys playoff-bound Denver Broncos 31-3 in another must-win game. Favre is the man. Enough said.
  • It took a miracle for the Packers to slip into the playoffs. Despite beating Denver yesterday, they needed the horrible Arizona Cardinals to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in order to qualify for post season play. Minnesota led Arizona 17-6 with two minutes left and the Cardinals cut the lead to 17-12 on Josh McCown's fourth-down 2-yard pass to Steve Bush with 1:54 to play. Damien Anderson recovered the onside kick for Arizona, and a 30-yard pass-interference call against Denard Walker put the Cardinals in scoring position. A final game winning play was reviewed several times before being allowed. Now that's drama.
  • The Packers are a cool franchise. Green Bay is the smallest city to host a team in the four largest North American leagues, and the team is owned by fans, not a single owner or corporation. Lambeau Field is the coolest...literally.
  • I've rooted for them before. During Favre's glory days in the mid to late 90s, I was a big fan. I've celebrated a Packers Super Bowl victory before and I can celebrate a Packers Super Bowl victory again.

So, as you can see, I have a team to root for despite the absence of my all-time favourite franchise. Go Pack Go!

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Bills 0, Patriots 31

Go Bills Go!The Bills defeated the Patriots 31-0 in week one, and today the Patriots returned the favour. It was a fitting end to another disappointing campaign for Buffalo as they finish 6-10 and miss the playoffs for the third straight year. I don't want to talk about it any further.

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Bills 3, Dolphins 20

Go Bills Go!This season started so promising for the Bills. They won their first two games in convincing fashion, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 69-17. I was just about ready for a serious run at the Super Bowl that has eluded Buffalo over the years. Then, everything fell apart.

Drew Bledsoe was once again ineffective and coach Gregg Williams is a walking corpse. Following last season's respectable 8-8 season, the year is a serious letdown. I'm a very disappointed fan.

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The Lou Marsh Trophy

BaseballOn Tuesday, the Lou Marsh Trophy was awarded to golfer Mike Weir. For those who aren't familiar with the Lou Marsh Trophy, it is given annually to Canada's outstanding athlete.

Mike Weir had a great year. He finished fifth on the PGA Tour money list, won three events and most importantly, he became the first Canadian to win a PGA Tour major when he captured the Masters in April. Having said that, Mike Weir did not deserve to win the Lou Marsh Trophy for 2003. Another Canadian athlete had a better year.

The award should have gone to Eric Gagne. Gagne didn't only have a good year, he had a perfect year. He had a season for the ages. He saved all 55 games he entered. You can't perform better than that. He is the first pitcher ever to record more than 50 saves in two different seasons and he holds the major league record with 63 consecutive saves dating back to last season. He won the National League Cy Young award becoming only the second Canadian to do so and the first relief pitcher to do so in 11 years.

Weir is far from an embarrassing choice but he is the wrong choice. This year belonged to Gagne. At least he won the Tip O'Neill Award...whatever that is.

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Bills 26, Titans 28

Go Bills Go!Despite the fact Steve McNair's 43-game consecutive start streak came to an end, first-time starter Billy Volek threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Tennessee handed the Bills their eighth loss of the season.

The Bills had a chance to tie this one and perhaps win in overtime to even out their record at 7-7, but Drew Bledsoe's pass to Bobby Shaw on a 2-point conversion attempt failed. Gregg Williams, it was nice knowin' ya.

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Jesse Palmer

Jesse PalmerToronto-born Jesse Palmer will become the first Canadian-born and trained quarterback to start a game in the NFL when he starts for the New York Giants on Sunday.

It's been a long time coming. Mark Rypien may have been born in Calgary, but his formative years were spent south of the border. Palmer is making history and all of Canada will be rooting for him.

Rooting for the Giants won't be easy. I still get queasy envisioning Scotty Norwood's field goal attempt from the 47-yard line drifting wide right. It's a painful memory for all Bills fans, but it won't stop me from hoping Palmer beats the snot out of the New Orleans Saints this weekend.

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Bills 17, Jets 6

Go Bills Go!It's been a very long time since I've had to witness one of my teams on the losing end of a game. The Leafs have won eight in a row, the Raptors won their fourth in a row earlier today and the Bills won for the second week in a row. It was the Travis Henry show at Ralph Wilson Stadium as he ran for a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown.

Following the Raptors victory I took my Freeplay Ranger outside where I was barbecuing some Italian sausages. I listened to Van Miller call the end of the Bills game on NEWSTALK CKTB out of St. Catherines. I have fond memories of listening to Miller call Bills games and I'm saddened by the fact he's retiring at the end of the season after 37 years. He's one of the best in the business and I'm going to miss him.

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Bills 24, Giants 7

Go Bills Go!Drew Bledsoe threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns as the Bills ended a four game losing streak. The Bills had not scored a touchdown on the road since September 14th and Bledsoe hadn't thrown a touchdown pass since October 19th going into this afternoon's game. No wonder the Bills will miss the playoffs for the fourth season in a row.

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The Great One

The Great OneAs a child, I idolized Wayne Gretzky. I would read and reread a paperback copy of The Great Gretzky by Terry Jones that I got from a sale at a Toronto Public Library back in 1982. I know this is where I got the book because I'm looking at it right now and there is a stamp that reads "Since this book is no longer in demand Toronto Public Library is offering it for sale".

Back in 1982 Gretzky's professional career was really just beginning. This book was published following his third year in the NHL when he was just 21 and without a Stanley Cup. I was baffled at how good he was at so young an age. There is a story in this book about a ten year old Gretzky scoring 378 goals in a season while I was struggling at Rennie Park in Swansea to score one. At a time when Toronto was celebrating Rick Vaive's 50 goal seasons it was awe inspiring to read about Gretzky's 50 in 39 games. He was The Great One then and he's The Great One now.

During a trip last winter to The Hockey Hall of Fame, I was most intrigued by the Gretzky exhibits. The man has so many NHL records they literally have a Gretzky wing. In a decade during which my home town team was abysmal, I could always root for the Edmonton Oilers in the spring and for Gretzky to win another cup. He won four during the 80s and the heart of many a young hockey fan.

Today, I'm still a Gretzky fan, but I now have one regret regarding #99. I fear he has become commercially overexposed. The man has done so many endorsements over the past fifteen years, it seems I can't turn on the television without seeing him hocking another product. He has done commercials for McDonald's, the Hudson's Bay Co., Hallmark Cards, Nike, Post Cereal, Coca-Cola, Esso and Ford, and that's just a short sample. I'm not suggesting he doesn't have the right to make a buck in this fashion, I'm just wishing he had better picked his spots and approached the selling of Wayne in a more subtle manner. I just don't like seeing him selling cars night after night. My childhood hero is above that sort of thing.

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