It is highly possible I try to offer more blog stuff as the day goes on, but here is some early stuff…
Super Bowl Facts and Figures …from the International Press…
AT STAKE — National Football League Championship for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
PARTICIPANTS — Arizona Cardinals (NFC) and Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC). This is the first appearance for the Cardinals and the seventh appearance for the Steelers.
SITE — Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. This is the fourth Super Bowl played in Tampa and the second at this Stadium.
SEATING CAPACITY — 70,500.
DATE — Feb. 1, 2009.
GAMETIME — 6 p.m. EST.
NETWORK COVERAGE — By NBC-TV to more than 200 stations throughout the United States.
Westwood One Radio to 500 stations within the United States. The Armed Forces Television will also provide broadcast to 180 countries throughout the world.
The game will be distributed internationally by the NFL and NFL International to more than 220 countries and broadcast in 30 different languages.
PLAYERS SHARE — Winners: $78,000 per man. Losers: $40,000 per man.
PLAYER UNIFORMS — Arizona will be the home team and use the West bench. The Cardinals have their choice of wearing its colored or white jersey.
OFFICIALS — There will be seven officials and two alternates appointed by the Commissioner's office.
TROPHY — The winning team receives permanent possession of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, a sterling silver trophy created by Tiffany & Company and presented annually to the winner of the Super Bowl. The trophy was named after the late coach Vince Lombardi of the two-time Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers before the 1971 Super Bowl. The trophy is a regulation silver football mounted in a kicking position on a pyramid-like stand of three concave sides. The trophy stands 20 3/4 inches tall, weighs 6.7 pounds and is valued more than $25,000. The words "Vince Lombardi" and "Super Bowl XLIII" are engraved on the base along with the NFL shield.
ATTENDANCE — To date, 3,276,834 have attended Super Bowl games. The largest crowd was 103,985 at the 14th Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
A great feature on the Steelers Deep Snapper who is also known as the guy from Ft Worth who was moving couches until the call, and now he is in the Super Bowl …
After I got cut I was out of work for probably a month before I decided, all right no one is going to call. I have to go back to work. I got bills to pay. I have to take care of myself. I started to get workouts with teams. I had a ton of workouts but no one was biting. I started coming to the realization that maybe my time in the NFL is up and I need to start focusing on my career. I graduated form TCU with a degree so I tried to use my degree to get a job. The problem is in Fort Worth the job market is horrible so I couldn’t find a job. I started to sign up for police testing. I was going to try and do the fire academy. I signed up in several cities for police academy work.
I was working for Bonilla Moving Company to make some money. I also did some work for Bell Brothers Moving Company. It was whenever I had work there. If I could work for the other guy I would. I tried to work as much as I could. It was enough to get by, to pay my bills. Sometimes we’d work 60, 70 hours a week. Sometimes we’d work 12 hours a week. It just depended on what kind of jobs we had. It kind of stunk because you never knew what days you were going to have off. Everyday you’ve had to call in and see if you were off. Then it got to the point you wanted to work every day, but you couldn’t because there was no work.
I did everything, drove the trucks and pulled the trailers. We kind of did it differently than most people. Most people have big trucks that do it. We had one big truck and we had long car trailers that we’d pull. At the time I was working, I was the main one that could pull trailers on our crew. So I was usually the one driving on those days. There were four of us working together. We were all pretty good friends. We got along well.
It can be tough work, it depends on the customer. Movers charge hourly. We try to tell them that the more ready you are, the better it goes, the faster we go and the cheaper it is. You can show up at a house and you don’t have any clue. Usually you go in about a month in advance and you give them an estimate. After the estimate, you tell them basically what you think it will cost. You go off that estimate. A month later you have no idea if all that stuff you estimated is packed boxes. If you have to pack them it’s going to take longer. If they’ve got clutter or they want to take everything in their house or they want you to go other places. You never have any idea what you’re moving when you get there. The hard thing is that you’ve got to find out if you’re moving pianos and that kind of stuff. That stuff has to be planned out.
I knew I wasn’t going to be a mover forever. I was just doing that to hold off until I could get a job. I had one job offer. It was basically to work at a nursing home and I was going to manage the facilities and the maintenance staff. Basically I was in charge of making sure the floors were clean and the bathrooms were cleaned and that kind of stuff. They offered me a really low amount for a year and I couldn’t bite on that. I was better off staying with the moving company. I had a little leeway; if I could get a workout with some team I could leave.
Right around the time that I was going to go for one of the police tests, probably a week before my first test popped up, I got a phone call from the Steelers. Greg had gotten hurt and was done for the season. It meant a lot to me when Greg got hurt and they put their trust in me and brought me back in.
It was really exciting. But the truth was that they called me and said, ‘look here’s the deal, we’re going to bring three other guys in and you’re going to have to snap against them and we’re going to take the best one.’ I had a history with the Steelers and I wanted to come in. I felt like I had gotten a lot better than where I was and I wanted to prove to them that I was better and that I’ve improved. Then I saw the guys I was snapping against and they both had been in the league for a few years. It’s a little intimidating going against guys who had experience and I have no experience. I think once I got out there and started snapping I was just back in the normal rhythm and wasn’t even thinking about it. Then we were all sitting in the locker room and they pulled me out of the group and we started to walk up stairs and they said ‘let’s go sign some papers,’ and I thought I was going to drop to my knees and bawl. I wanted to hug people and it was just great.
We were discussing the Super Bowl the other day with regards to previous Bowls that have had point spreads similar to this one, where the Steelers are favored over the Cardinals by 6.5 points.
With a historical look, there are 10 games that have had a spread between 6 and 8 points …
SB8 – Mia -6 over Minn Mia
SB10 – Pitt -7 over Dallas Dallas covered
SB23 – SF -7 over Cinn Cin covered
SB25 – Buf -7 over NYG NYG outright
SB26 – Wash -7 over Buf Wash
SB27 – Dal -6.5 over Buf Dal
SB33 – Den 7.5 over ATL Den
SB34 – STL 7 over Tenn PUSH
SB38 – NE -7 over Car Car covered
SB41 – Ind -7 over Chi IND
5 times favorite won and covered
3 times underdog lost and covered
1 time underdog won outright (NYG)
So, 9 times out of 10, the favorite did at least win the game. So, that suggests a 90% win sample, but of course, the Patriots were favored by 14 last year…
In baseball news, the Rangers are gaining national ridicule for their 2 tone batting helmet …
The Rangers' helmet is such an instant classic of bad design, it immediately leapfrogs all the competition and becomes the worst batting helmet in MLB history.
8 Major League Free Agents still looking for work ….
Here is a rundown of the best of the unemployed:
1. Manny Ramirez. The Man-child and the Dodgers appear to be in a stalemate, with the team holding at $45 million for two years and Ramirez wanting a deal for four or five years for between $25 million and $30 million per. The Giants, who are in excellent financial position, look like the biggest threat; although at least publicly they're saying they won't go crazy for Manny after diving into the market early. San Francisco already signed Edgar Renteria, Randy Johnson, Bobby Howry and Jerremy Affeldt, a commitment of more than $20 million for 2009, but if they don't get Ramirez the question has to be asked: Wouldn't that $20 million-plus have been better spent on Manny? The Angels and Mets say publicly that they won't go for Manny, while the Yankees already have upgraded their offense immensely with Mark Teixeira. So until further notice the two great West Coast rivals look like the favorites.
2. Bobby Abreu. He is one of three players in history with a .400 on-base percentage, 300 steals and 200 home runs (Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson are the others) and one of three with 100 RBIs in each of the last three years (Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols are the others), yet for some reason Raul Ibanez, whose numbers aren't even in Abreu's ballpark, was the more popular pick this winter. Ibanez signed for $31.5 million over three years with Abreu's former Phillies team, but Abreu would do well to get $20 million for two right now. Ibanez scored points for his deserved rep as a great guy and a clubhouse leader, but Abreu certainly isn't a negative influence in any way. The two perceived knocks on him are minor (that he's interested in stats and fears the wall) and shouldn't preclude anyone from signing him. The Dodgers (if they fail to sign Manny), Braves and perhaps Reds, A's or Giants could be possibilities after he didn't jump at a Rays offer and saw former teammate Pat Burrell take it (Tampa was OK with that since it really only needed a DH). With the Mets taking hits for ignoring Manny, perhaps they'll make a play for Abreu after they solve their more pressing pitching problem.
3. Adam Dunn. After five-straight years of 40-plus home runs, it's no wonder he was
said to be seeking $100 million. Yet Dunn will have to settle for a fraction of that. Unless the Dodgers see him as a viable Manny replacement, his only real hope for any sort of substantial payday may be Washington, which desperately wants a left-handed power hitter.
4. Oliver Perez. The Mets are in for more than $30 million over three years, but talks seem to have slowed a tad over the last couple days for the talented 27-year-old lefty. The Rangers and Brewers look like they could become possibilities, though it isn't certain how willing either of those teams is to do a multiyear deal. Despite the negotiating hiccup, the Mets, whose GM, Omar Minaya, loves Perez, still make the most sense.
5. Ben Sheets. Even after he provided updated medical information, the market doesn't appear to be moving too fast for one of baseball's better pitchers. Sheets started the All-Star Game last year and went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA overall, but teams appear focused on the flexor tendon injury that caused him to miss a playoff start. Don't believe the knock that he's soft, as this is the same guy who threw a four-hit shutout to beat Cuba in the 2000 Olympic final. His career is very similar to that of A.J. Burnett, who cashed in for $82.5 million. Sheets has never had major arm surgery, has pitched 200 innings three times -- not counting 198 1/3 last year -- and has only once been below 140 innings. The Yankees flirted with him, but right now he might have to settle for an incentive-laden deal, perhaps with Texas, which has been talking about a one-year commitment.
6. Orlando Hudson. He was hoping for $50 million over five years but he plays the wrong position (second base) in the wrong year. Indications are that he was hoping for the Mets or Yankees to create a need by trading their current starters, Luis Castillo or Robinson Cano. But no one wants Castillo, and the Yankees still see great potential for Cano. The Nats are a possibility, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution suggested the Braves could sign Hudson and move Kelly Johnson to the outfield, as they would have for Rafael Furcal.
7. Orlando Cabrera. Edgar Renteria's $18.5 million, two-year deal must be a mirage. This guy is better. But where's he going? Oakland's a guess, but yours might be as good as mine at this point.
8. Garret Anderson. Here's another terrific hitter caught in a nightmare of a hitting market. He's been among the more productive outfielders in the AL over the last several years, and while he has seemingly been around forever, he's still only 36.
Henrik signs for 12 years with Detroit …hometown discount….
The reasons behind Henrik Zetterberg's decision to become a lifetime Red Wing lie in what happened on the team plane ride home from Columbus on Tuesday night and in a conversation he had a few weeks ago with team legend Steve Yzerman.
Zetterberg's deal, announced Wednesday, is for 12 years and $73 million, which will keep him in Detroit until he's 40 and, at $6.08 million a season against the salary cap, will help ensure the Wings remain competitive.
"I've never seen any reason to go anywhere else," Zetterberg said. "I really like it on the ice and off the ice. I have great teammates, a great coaching staff, owners who we know will have a good team every year. I don't see any reason why I shouldn't stay. I love it here, and I want to be here forever."
Owner Mike Ilitch described himself as "absolutely ecstatic" when he heard the news, which comes less than two years after Pavel Datsyuk agreed to a seven-year deal worth $46.9 million. Both are Wings draft picks, and neither has played for another NHL team.
Coincidentally, Zetterberg won't play tonight against Dallas, but he said his back spasms have improved and that he may be ready this weekend. Nicklas Lidstrom (elbow) and Datsyuk (hip) will be back, and defenseman Derek Meech can play up front. The Wings are debating putting defenseman Brad Stuart (torn cartilage in the rib area) on long-term injury reserve and calling up someone from Grand Rapids.
Zetterberg easily would have drawn offers upward of $8 million a season from other teams had he become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but then he'd be giving up being a Wing. That was at the heart of what Yzerman, a former teammate and now a vice president, told Zetterberg when they talked.
"I had some understanding of what he was going through and what his feelings were and what not," Yzerman said. "What I just wanted to stress with him was that I thought was important for him -- he's that type of player and has that stature -- that he should play for one organization his entire career. Actually there were two that I mentioned, the Detroit Red Wings and the Swedish national team. Those are the two jerseys you'll see Henrik play in now. It really creates an incredible legacy for him."
Speaking of Detroit, the Stars have their last meeting with the Wings this evening, and I know many of us are quite interested to see how well Dallas can stand up to their demons and a great hockey team at Joe Louis Arena. I think the Stars generally try to skate with a burden of bad memories up there, and that generally allows them to get beat pretty badly before the game even begins.
Are they in a better spot mentally? I hate to be a pessimist, but seeing Detroit has lost 3 straight, I must confess I am not overly optimistic…
Meanwhile, James Mirtle has some very tough talk about Fabian Brunnstrom’s first year …
He's been by far the weakest defensive player on a Stars team that has really struggled with its goals against this season and seems completely clueless in his own zone. And that's with coach Dave Tippett playing him against the weakest opposition possible, mainly the other teams' fourth lines.
Only four players in the entire NHL have seen more goals per minute go in their own net at 5-on-5 this season, and two of them play for the Islanders.
He makes $2.225-million, is nearly 24 years old and isn't an NHL-caliber player. Not even close.
Sean Avery wasn't the only bad signing in Dallas this summer. And I'm sure teams like Vancouver and Detroit aren't all that unhappy they missed out.
I don’t believe that he is “not even close” to being an NHL caliber player (double negative?), but I do think even the Stars will admit that he sure could have used a year in the AHL. The trouble is, the Stars appear to have promised him that he would be given every opportunity to play with the big club in his first year. This is just a re-hab assignment to the AHL, and he will be back very soon.
I still believe that they are pleased with his upside down the road. The pressure on him to immediately be a stud scorer has been immense by people who followed his signing sweepstakes last spring, but the key for him is going to be to find a role. He is not a 4th liner, but he is stuck there until he is better defensively. It is a tough spot for this season, especially now that Dave Tippett wants his best players on the ice at all times because every night is very, very important in this playoff run.
Great idea for Goalie Gear ….
Sweet Child O Mine