Sunday, October 11, 2009
The Unbeaten Denver Broncos??
There is one game to go before Week 5 of the NFL season can be put to bed. I don't care what anyone says, the story of the season so far is the play of the Denver Broncos. They were celebrating in the Mile High City yesterday afternoon as Matt Prater(pictured above) kicked a field goal in overtime for a win over New England improving them to 5-0. 5=0? The Broncos? A team that was in such disarray going into the regular season that some thought they might have the inside shot at the number one draft pick.
They choked at the end of last season costing them a playoff spot. It cost the legendary Mike Shanahan his job as head coach. The team went and hired a 30-something kid named Josh McDaniels who was the offensive co-ordinator in New England. He tried to get his old quarterback Matt Cassel in a trade and when his then current quarterback found out about it, he threw a major league tantrum that forced the trade of Jay Cutler to Chicago. It resulted in Denver being stuck with Kyle Orton---a man who at the time struck no fear in anyone. Star receiver Brandon Marshall then got suspended. That seems so long ago to people in the Bronco organization. I don't know how they have done it, but they have beaten quality opponents at home in Dallas and New England over the last two weeks, and chances are this team will be in the playoffs at year's end.
Just do me a favour and like the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago, never ever wear those unis again. I thought I was watching the San Diego Padres of the late 70's, early 80's. Where was Tony Gwynn, where was Dave Winfield, where was Kurt Bevacqua??! Those jerseys were uglier than what Seattle donned a couple of weeks ago. They were beyond hideous. Maybe I should get Vanstone one for Christmas. What's even more bizarre is if you remember, the Broncos beat Cincinnati in Week 1 on a ridiculous last second touchdown. That touchdown is the only thing preventing the Bengals from being 5-0 as they improved to 4-1 with a win over Baltimore.
Has Peyton Manning ever played better? The Colts quarterback is the runaway favourite for NFL MVP. He solidified talk of that early on in the NFL season with another vintage performance in a win over Tennessee. Manning was 36 of 44 passing for over 300 yards with three touchdowns in a 31-9 rout of the Titans. Manning is in a zone right now. He is tearing apart defences with surgical precision. With the exception of last week when he did it to the Seahawks, it is amazing to watch. He makes every throw, he isn't confused by the coverages thrown at him and he is perhaps better right now than he has been at any time in what has been a great career. What makes this performance even better is the fact he is doing it with two rookies in Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. Both are making incredible contributions to Indy's success.
The Metrodome is now a football only facility. The Twins have played their last game under the bubble as they were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday by the Yankees. I have been in the Metrodome many times, but I will always remember being there for Games 1 and 2 of the 1987 World Series. I was sitting three rows up in the 2nd deck just above the baggie in right field. I have never been in a louder facility. The atmosphere was surreal. Minnesota crushed the Cardinals in both games I saw with big innings happening in the 4th in each game. The Twins went on to win the World Series that year in 7 games. As I've said before, the best baseball game I've ever seen was played in the Metrodome and that was Game 7 of the 1991 World Series when Jack Morris pitched 10 innings of shutout baseball in a duel with John Smoltz of the Braves with Minnesota eventually winning 1-0.
The team is going back to an outdoors ball park in downtown Minneapolis. It looks nice, but I don't think they will ever replicate the atmosphere they created under the Dome. By the way, how good must the economic situation be in the Twin Cities? They have a new baseball stadium, a new football stadium for the Gophers, and the home of the Wild--the XCel Energy Center is a building that I believe is less than 10 years old. Where did the money come from for all these facilities?
When the Riders had injury problems in 2007, Kent Austin said injuries were not an excuse. It was just a chance for the next guy on the depth chart to step up and make an impact. That's how I'm looking at the Riders in the wake of the news that Weston Dressler has a fractured fibula. Its my guess we have seen the last of the diminutive Dressler for 2009 which is too bad. Yes, his loss creates a huge hole, but now it means even more of a role will be played by Andy Fantuz, Chris Getzlaf and Rob Bagg. Jason Armstead may get a chance to contribute offensively, and this could mean Jason Clermont gets his chance to show he isn't washed up and that he still has a lot to give. Some have said the Dressler injury ruins any chance the Riders have of getting to and winning the Grey Cup. Not having #7 makes it tough, but I don't think the season is over because of this injury.
Former Global Regina reporter J'Lyn Nye has co-authored a biography on former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington. He says the Oilers and Leafs just about swapped cities with Wayne and company doing their thing in Toronto instead of Edmonton. Pocklington says then Leafs owner Harold Ballard called him up inquiring about the move--one that Pocklington said yes to before Ballard backed out. Do you think that really could have happened? Would the NHL have allowed such a thing to happen? I can't see it. By the way, why is Gary Bettman speaking with Quebec City about maybe getting back into the league? Is he trying to fool Canadian hockey fans or does he have something else up his sleeve. Does Jim Balsillie know French?