Custom Search

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rumors Run Rampant, But Favre Stays Retired

I honestly think that Brett Favre must love this time of year. Not because the fishing is good in Mississippi or because he's sure to get a farmer's tan. If you ask me, Favre loves the attention he draws every late spring regarding his football status. The "will he? or won't he?" kind of speculation probably makes him feel important and wanted; something the Packers got tired of doing this time last year.

Last year's buzz about Favre's return was surrounded by the spectacle that came with his retirement from Green Bay and his subsequent return and eventual trade to the Jets. Although a trade to the Minnesota Vikings was never in the works, the Vikings were accused of having improper communication with Favre . Even though they were eventually cleared of tampering, the Vikings have never denied their interest in having Brett Favre on their roster. Once released by the Jets, rumors ran hot of Favre's possible return to the game and to the NFC North with the Vikings.

This time however, the out of control rumor mill is starting to slow its spin. According to Steve Mariucci from the NFL network, Favre has not been throwing or working out since his last regular season game with the Jets. That fact is not too surprising. It was June of last year that Favre committed to his training program to make his return to football. But a major development today reported by Yahoo Sports stated that a source close to the Vikings confirms that Favre will choose to stay retired.

Apparently, Favre spoke to Vikings head coach Brad Childress via telephone and informed him that this time his retirement is for real. It is expected that Favre will officially put the rumors and innuendo to rest with a formal statement in the near future.

It looks like the Vikings will be left out in the cold again in their pursuit of Brett Favre. The Vikings are determined to improve from last season's respectable finish of 10-6; even though they made a trip to the playoffs. Many feel that they are only a pro bowl quarterback away from a Super Bowl run. The quarterbacks currently on their roster are Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels, and John David Booty. Last year, Jackson might have shown flashes of greatness, but he also showed inconsistency and was benched for veteran QB Gus Frerotte in week 2.

Although they have the best running back in the league in Adrian Peterson, it is the quarterback position that they obviously feel the need to upgrade. With mini camps underway and training camp around the corner, it would appear that the Vikings will be forced to go with what they have on their roster. As for Favre, maybe some good ol' Mississippi fishing and a well earned Farmer's tan can suffice. For now.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Ten Favorite NFL Catch Phrases

For this top ten Tuesday, I chose to have a bit of fun. Every football fan has their little catch phrases that they have picked up from analysts, coaches, and players. I am no different. All of these phrases are very memorable for the moments that they represent. When I hear someone use these terms, I always think back to when they were said and the circumstances that led up to those words. Whether they were said during a highlight reel, or a game, or even a meltdown at the coaches podium, their words became part of fan culture and continue to be used daily in sports conversations everywhere.

10) "You Play To Win The Game!" - Coach Herman Edwards

As the head coach of the New York Jets, Herm Edwards had just 39 wins (41 losses). So his frustration with his team was understandable. On October 30, 2002, the Jets had just lost to the Browns and dropped to 2-5 on the season. During Edwards' press conference following the game, a reporter asked him about the team's ability to win. The coach responded with his most famous quote.

While obviously annoyed and frustrated with the question, Herm Edwards started off calm by saying "This is what's great about sports...". Then without much warning the Coach began to shout "You play to win the game! Hello? You play to win the game!" Here is a coach who is never at a loss for words. I mean, he has even published his own book of quotes. But this rant, at this press conference became Herm's most memorable quote and later became a part of fan culture. Fans continue to use these words when their team displays lackluster or half-hearted effort.

9) "Is This Fun Or What?!" - Coach Steve Mariucci

Steve "Mooch" Mariucci loved being the coach of the San Francisco 49ers. He loved the bay area and displayed his emotions all over the side lines. But, before every game, he would look at various players and staffers and ask "Is this fun or what?". He wasn't really looking for an answer to the question. It was just his way of letting his team know how much he enjoyed game day.

Mariucci compiled a 60-43 winning record as 49er head coach. However, Coach Mooch was fired after the 2002 season and went on to coach for the Detroit Lions. I don't know if his famous catch phrase followed him. But I do know that some 49er fans still use it on game day Sundays. There has even been a highlight reel made only of Steve Mariucci saying his catchy phrase.

8) "Boom!" - John Madden

Whether he was talking about a big hit on the field, a Thanksgiving Turducken, or tough actin' Tenactin, John Madden loved using the word "boom!". It was probably his most popular Maddenism (phrases or ramblings contributed to John Madden). He retired from sports broadcasting a few weeks ago, but his signature catch phrase will undoubtedly live on. We may not get to see him use his telestrator or hear his burly voice. But, television's most colorful color commentator left us one word to describe excitement in football and it will be used with pride.

7) "The Bears Are Who We Thought They Were!" - Coach Dennis Green

Poor Denny Green. That's how you felt after that loss to the Bears. The Bears entered the game 5-0 and were heavily favored over Green's Arizona Cardinals. But this was Monday Night Football and the Cards came into that game pretty pumped up. Coach Denny Green had them prepared and they showed up and embarrassed the Bears for 40 mins. They sparked off a 20 point lead on the undefeated Bears on national television in Arizona. If the story ended there, it would have been a major highlight in the season for the Cardinals. The fact is, football games last for 60 mins.

The Bears rallied back to win 24-23 and Coach Green created one of the most memorable press conferences for any coach in resent memory. "The Bears are who we thought they were! They're who we thought they were!" exploded the Head Coach. There were a few expletives and lots of shouting about their previous preseason game and crowning the Bears. The coach went on to say "But they are who we thought they were, and we let 'em off the hook!". Green's rant became infamous and fans and analysts everywhere jumped on the phrase. It has been used throughout the following seasons and even in a Coors commercial.

6) "Oh, What A Bonanza!" - Joe Starkey

Joe Starkey, the long time voice of the San Francisco 49ers, was always fun to listen to. He served as the play-by-play announcer for the 9ers for over 20 years, as well as the commentator for the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears since the mid '70's. During that time, Starkey is known for many famous calls including Cal's game vs. Stanford in which the band stormed the field.

But it is his tag line of "Oh, what a bonanza!" that became his signature call. Today, players, commentators, and fans alike use Starkey's signature call to indicate a big play on the field. More specifically, a big play that ends up in the end zone. The "bonanza" had to be a dynamic, successful, ESPN-highlight worthy of a play to earn Starkey's signature catch phrase. Every player that ever heard the line during their highlight undoubtedly felt honored.

5) "Get Your Popcorn Ready!" - Terrell Owens

The first time I heard Terrell Owens, aka T.O., spout off "Get your popcorn ready!", I had no idea what he was talking about. I was watching my 49ers get whipped by the Atlanta Falcons during the 2001 season. T.O. had no catches, for 0 yards at the time. While on the sidelines, he kept saying "That's okay. Just get your popcorn ready!" While I thought, "why don't you shut up and catch something already!". In any case, he went into half time with no catches, no yards, and no touchdowns. But, he did have one heck of a catch phrase.

In the second half, T.O. caught 3 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was to tie the game and send it into overtime. There was 17 seconds left on the game clock at the time. His third touchdown was in that overtime; a 52 yard game winner. The lesson I learned? When T.O. says to get your popcorn ready, you better have some popping in the microwave; because he is ready to put on a show.

4) "That's Why They Play The Game." - Chris Berman, ESPN Analyst

Chris "Boomer" Berman is one of ESPN's most popular analyst. So it's no wonder that he would have a couple of catch phrases in this countdown. This particular phrase from Berman is used when a team who is highly favored to win that week's game, actually gets beaten by the underdog. Berman likes use the line during his NFL Primetime show which shows the highlights from that week's games.

He usually sets it up by talking about the favored team and how dominate they have been. He mentions their stats, their markee players, and why it is virtually impossible for them to lose to the team they were scheduled to play that week. Right before the highlight he gives the line "That's why they play the game." Basically, all the hype, stats, streaks, and previous performances in the world cannot determine the game's outcome. Only the game itself can. Couldn't have said it better myself, Boomer.

3) "Playoffs? Playoffs! Don't Talk About Playoffs! You Kiddin' Me?" - Jim Mora

On November 25, 2001, then head coach of the Indianapolis Colts Jim Mora had just lost to the San Francisco 49ers. But, it wasn't the loss that upset him. It was how the team lost that sent him into one of the most famous coach tirades in NFL history.

The team had turned the ball over to San Francisco 5 times; 1 for a touchdown and 3 others in great field position. The coach entered into that press conference pretty steamed. His rant started with a run down of how badly his team performed. Someone interrupted him and asked about making the playoffs. The rest is sound byte history. Mora answered "Playoffs? Playoffs! Don't talk about playoffs! You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win another game!".

That rant became the catch phrase for NFL fans, analyst, players and anyone talking about playoffs. It also became a Coors beer commercial. The sound byte can be heard around the country on radio shows, NFL highlight shows, and anywhere playoffs are mentioned. That reporter probably gave Jim Mora a headache that day. But, Mora gave us the gift of his rant that will forever be repeated.

2) "How 'Bout Them Cowboys!" - Jimmy Johnson

As a 49er fan, four words invoked nausea in me for years. You see, the Cowboys had just beaten the 49ers (again) in the NFC Championship (again) and there they were, in the locker room gloating (again!!!). What added salt to the deep, deep wound was the famous catch phrase that came out of that locker room celebration. Former head coach Jimmy Johnson looked at his team, beaming with pride and shouted "How bout them Cowboys!" to a roaring Dallas team with cameras capturing every gut wrenching second.

But, here is the beauty of time. Although Dallas went on to win the Super Bowl that year, the 49ers eventually got their revenge and finally beat them. Dallas' team would later grow old and have to rebuild. As the team began to have some down seasons, the 49er fans stole their famous catch phrase and used it to mock them. As recent as last season when the Cowboys imploded and even stars such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and Terrell Owens couldn't get them to the playoffs, the catch phrase came in handy for us 49er fans. When and if the Cowboys find a way back, I am sure those words will invoke the same sickening feelings it did back in the early '90's. But for now, the Cowboys are actually the one team cringing when they hear it.

1) "And He Could... Go... All... The... Way!" - Chris Berman & Howard Cosell

This has got to be one of the most famous catch phrases in sports. The originator is the late, great Howard Cosell, so most of the credit goes to him. But, once again, Chris "Boomer" Berman of ESPN shines here with another catch phrase he helped to make famous.

Berman uses the line during highlight reels on the shows NFL Primetime, Sunday NFL Countdown, and Monday Night Countdown when describing a player who is taking the ball to the house. That is, getting a touchdown for you laymen out there. "And he could go all the way!" is used by fans, analysts, players and even video games. Needless to say, it is my favorite NFL catch phrase of all time.

This top 10 list was a fun look at the fun we have while watching our favorite games. Catch phrases has become a staple in fan culture; an inside joke between the die hards who know how they originated. Not only are they a part of fan culture, they are also a part of pop culture and even a part of American culture as we see them being used in our everyday lives. Go ahead and yell "Playoffs?!" Ala Jim Mora, or tell someone to "Get your popcorn ready!" just like T.O. It might make you feel like you're ready for some football.