NFC & AFC Title Game Predictions for Sunday January 20, 2013
 
Well, we’re down to the “final four” of our annual NFL Super Bowl tournament.  
 
Last Week’s Picks
 
We did very, very well again with last week’s picks–we picked every game correctly, and only missed the Denver-Baltimore game, which was decided by a FG in a second overtime, 38-35.  But for the Baltimore upset, we would have been 4 for 4.

Taking the prior weekend’s picks into account, we are 6 for 8 or batting .750.  Not too shabby.  
 
The Super Bowl was Named for the Wham-O “Super Ball”.  See Discussion, Below.  I had one of these when I was a kid. As you can plainly see, SuperBalls were made of “amazing Zectron”.
 
 
Before we get to Denver-Baltimore, let’s go over the other games.  SF-Green Bay played out like we saw it in the first half, a very close game.  In the second half, Green Bay seemed to play tired, like a team coming off a wild card round, while SF seemed like the rested team they were, and SF steadily pulled away in the second half.  While it was surprising that QB Aaron Rodgers did not provide more offense in the 2d half, it’s also true that he was slightly missing on some throws while SF seemed to make all the big plays.  Again, fatigue has to play a role in things like that, and Rodgers, for Green Bay to win, has to toss it up there @50 times a game.    
 
The Seahawks-Falcons game also played out like we thought through @ 2 1/2 quarters, with the Falcons in firm control and up twenty points.  Then, the Seahawks, as with last week, mounted a furious comeback, eventually taking the lead 28-27 with less than a minute to go.  This again shows how evenly matched those teams were,and how very good a coach Pete Carroll is–his team never quit, even though they were on the road and they were tired.  You had to love the way Seattle played.  But even better was the way Atlanta responded–by going fifty yards in less than 20 seconds and then kicking the GW FG–showing that Matt Ryan’s experience–something we touted last week–together with the home field advantage–kicking in a dome is FG friendly–would prove very helpful to the Falcons when it came down to it.  So we got that one right.  Barely, but right.
 
Finally, we got the Pats-Texans game exactly right.  The Texans are a fine team, but they can’t keep up with the Pats’ offense, and they can’t hold them defensively.  That was not even a close game, and we didn’t think it would be, so we picked that one correctly and for the right reasons.  
 
So where did we go wrong with Denver?  What is the lesson?  Never pick Peyton Manning against Ray Lewis in a playoff game?  Well actually Peyton Manning was 2-0 vs Baltimore in prior playoff games.   
 
Here’s a stat worth considering:  Jake the Snake Plummer and Tim Tebow each have more playoff wins in a Denver Broncos jersey as starting QBs, than Peyton Manning.  This has to be embarassing to Peyton Manning, whose little brother Eli Manning of the NY Giants has two Super Bowl wins against the NE Pats on his resume to Peyton’s one win in the Super Bowl.
 
Well, we said Ray Lewis was a warrior, and in the end, the Baltimore Defense made Peyton Manning look awful.  They won the game by forcing him to roll right in OT, and make a terrible off balance throw that resulted in an interception, a throw that Peyton Manning never makes, normally speaking.  This results in an INT, Baltimore gets the ball, goes down and kicks the GW FG, game over.  
 
This is really the story.  
 
PREDICTIONS FOR AFC CHAMPIONSHIP AND NFC CHAMPIONSHIP THIS WEEKEND
Ravens at Pats 3 PM Sunday AFC Championship
 
First, we have the Baltimore Ravens at the New England Patriots in the early game, scheduled for 3 pm in New England, in a rematch of last years AFC title game.  There are three games we can look at here.
 
Initially, we have this years game between the two teams, which the Ravens won 31-30 on a GW FG as time expired, in week 3 of the season, back in September, in Baltimore.  The Baltimore defense essentially held Brady in check while Flacco & the Baltimore offense scored 10 unanswered points in the last five minutes of the game to beat the Pats.  Strong stuff.  
 
Second, you have last years AFC championship game, which the Pats won 23-20.   However, as everyone knows, Baltimore had a chip shot FG to tie, which Billy Cundiff missed with barely any time left on the clock, and Baltimore had numerous other opportunities in the 4th Quarter to come back from a 23-20 deficit.  The Pats were very lucky to escape out of that game as victors.  
 
Third, you have the 2009 wild card round game, wherein Baltimore came into New England and soundly whipped them, 33-14.  
 
Baltimore is the one team in the AFC that really gives Tom Brady trouble.  
 
Baltimore will be motivated to win because they lost last year, because Ray Lewis is looking at his last year, and because they know they can beat this New England team.  
 
On paper, this matchup strongly favors the Patriots, and they are at home, but the pick here is the Ravens in an upset.  
 
Ray Lewis is going to the Super Bowl.  
 
49ers at Falcons – NFC Championship
 
This is a very closely matched game on the stats.  Common opponents don’t really say much–the 49ers beat the Saints, while the Falcons split with the Saints, winning one and losing one.  The 49ers split with the Seahawks, winning one and losing one, while the Falcons hung on to beat the Seahawks in the playoff game this past weekend.  All this tells us is that both teams can play against very good opponents like the Seahawks and Saints and beat them on a given day.  It also tells us on any given Sunday either of them might lose to the Saints or the Seahawks, which we probably already knew, and therefore, there’s no 100% probability that if these guys played three games, one team would sweep all three–much more likely that there would be a split and then a deciding game.  
 
However, they only play one, and in this one, we pick the 49ers. The Falcons have much going for them–the home field, Matt Ryan being due, and Atlanta being ripe for a trip to the Super Bowl.  But on the other side you have a very tough SF 49er team, which features the rushing attack of one day HOFer Frank Gore (U. Miami Hurricane), who is 3d among career RBs in career rushing, just behind Adrian Peterson and both trailing Steven Jackson.  Gore is supplemented by a running QB in Colin Kaepernick, and a fervent defense.  
 
David Akers, who is a veteran kicker, should be an advantage, but he presents some weakness from beyond 40 yards, especially compared to Atlanta’s kicker Bryant.  If it comes down to FGs, there is an edge somewhat to Atlanta, though the dome will help both kickers.    The pick is still the 49ers.  
 
Postscript
 
We mentioned great RBs last week–but we forget to mention Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett among the greatest ever.  Smith is obviously among the greatest RBs ever to play the game, and a true champion, while Tony Dorsett, also a Dallas Cowboy great, could also do it all.  Both were great rushing as well as receiving, and both were durable and versatible backs who were at their best in the playoffs and in the biggest games.  No one could possible leave them off their teams.  Another mention has to be made of Franco Harris, the powerful and durable back of the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s.  
 
We were once (several of us) at a Penn-Princeton football game  many years back and sitting right in front of us, was Franco Harris, who was watching his son with the Princetonians.  He looked pretty much as he did during his playing days, and on his fingers were the four Super Bowl rings–quite a sight, mind you.  
 
We were not worthy.  
 
In fairness, you’d want a Franco Harris or an Emmitt Smith or a Tony Dorsett on your team any day of the week.  They were winners, and I can’t count how many Super Bowls, Conference Championships, playoff games, they all won  collectively, but it has to be a ton.  
 
The Name of the Super Bowl Derived from the Wham-O Super Ball, as Shown by This Exhibit in the Pro Football HOF in Canton, OH.  The fact that Lamar Hunt coined the name is recited therein.  The owners had decided to call it the “AFL-NFL Championship Game”.  Well, you see how well that worked.  No .92 resiliency coefficient.  “After watching his children play with a Super Ball, Lamar Hunt, founder of the American Football League, coined the term Super Bowl. In a July 25, 1966, letter to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, Hunt wrote, “I have kiddingly called it the ‘Super Bowl,’ which obviously can be improved upon.” Although the leagues’ owners decided on the name “AFL-NFL Championship Game,” the media immediately picked up on Hunt’s “Super Bowl” name, which would become official beginning with the third annual game.[8][17][18]”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Ball
 
 
Final PS point:  
 
The Super Bowl was named after the Wham-O toy, the “Super Ball
 
It’s true.  Lamar Hunt and his fellow owners were sitting around one day figuring out what to call the new championship game back in the mid-60s and they got the name from the “Super” of “Super Ball”.  It’s told right here at: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/Is-the-Super-Bowl-really-named-after-a-1960s-chi?urn=nfl-317028.
 
The key source for this story on the website is Michael MacCambridge’s “America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation.”  (Random House, NY, NY 2004).  It can be located at Amazon.com at:
 
 
Here’s the Yahoo article: 
 
“Is the Super Bowl Really Named After a Children’s Toy?”
It seems too much like an urban legend to be true that the Super Bowl was named after a children’s novelty toy that was popular in the mid-1960s.
But strange as it sounds, it is. The name of America’s biggest sport event got its name from a Wham-O toy called “Super Ball.” The story was recounted in Michael MacCambridge’s book, “America’s Game.”
Once the NFL-AFL merger was announced, discussions began about the inaugural championship game between the winners of the two leagues. A group of seven men were tasked with the specifics. During the course of the meetings, it became confusing when the men referred to “the championship game” because the others didn’t know whether he was referring to the league championship games or the finale, which still didn’t have a name. To end the mix-ups, Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt jokingly referred to the final championship game as the “Super Bowl.” He had come up with the name while watching his children play with the toy pictured above.
“Super Bowl” is how the game was referred to for months, even though Hunt himself said it was “far too corny” to ever be used on the big stage. In the middle of 1966, he wrote commissioner Pete Rozelle and said the group needed to come up with an official name for the game. “If possible,” he wrote, “I believe we should ‘coin a phrase’ for the Championship Game. […] I have kiddingly called it the ‘Super Bowl,’ which obviously can be improved upon.”
Rozelle agreed. The league’s publicity director recalled that the commissioner despised the word “super,” because it didn’t have any sophistication. Rozelle was evidently a “stickler on words and grammar.” The game would be known as the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.”
That bulky title didn’t last. People caught wind of Hunt’s name and soon everyone, from media members to players, were calling the title game “the Super Bowl.” The NFL was slow to adapt, though. It wasn’t until the third game that the words “Super Bowl” appeared on the official game program and the fourth game when the phrase appeared on tickets.
As mentioned above, Michael MacCambridge’s excellent “America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation” was the main reference for this blog post.
citation supra.  
 
The Original Patent for the SuperBall aka “Highly Resilient Polybutadiene Ball” Patented by Wham-O Corp 1965.
 
March 22, 1966 N. H. STINGLEY 3,241,834
HIGHLY RESILIENT POLYBUTADIENE BALL
Filed Aug. 25, 1965
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United States Patent O
.1
3,241,834
HIGHLY RESELIENT POLYBUTADIENE BALL
Norman H. Stingley, Garden Grove, Calif., assignor to
Wham-0 Manufacturing Company, San Gabriel, Calif.,
at corporation of California
Filed Aug. 25, 1965, Ser. No. 432,584
3 Claims. (Cl. 273–58)
This is a continuation-in-part of application Serial No. 462,081 filed June 7, 1965, and now abandoned.
This invention relates to a toy and more particularly to a ball or sphere having extremely high resilience and a high coeflicient of friction.
The resiliency of rubber balls is one of their most important characteristics. This is because the resiliency of the ball material determines the “liveliness” and “bounce” of the ball and hence its utility in various sporting games and attractiveness as a toy for children. The resilient material normally used for making rubber balls is a polymer such as natural rubber or some synthetic analog of natural rubber such as polyisoprene.
The present invention is concerned with a material other than rubber and -polyisoprene as the base polymer in rubber toys and sporting articles. It has been found that this new material imparts some highly unusual qualities to articles fabricated with it. Such articles have been found to have a substantially greater resiliency than those manufactured from more conventional materials. This greater resiliency is thought to be due to the nature of the base polymer used in the mixture and the unique quality -of the mixture which comprises the article of being able to conserve the energy which is imparted to it rather than dissipating a substantial portion of it in the form of heat. The higher resilience means that balls made from the material of this invention have a resilience factor in excess of 90%. This resilience factor is the resilience of the material as measured by the Yerzley method, ASTM D945-59.
Another unusual quality of balls and toys of this invention is their coeflicient of friction. In this instance the coefficient friction is substantially higher than in other
similar items. This quality combined with the significant
ly higher resilience causes a ball to react in an extraordinary and unpredictable manner when bounced or struck. This higher coeflicient of friction also provides a means whereby the spin or “English” on a thrown, struck or dropped ball can be accentuated resulting in unusual reactions by -theball whenever it rebounds from a hard surface. This novel combination of qualities means that one natural application for ‘balls manufactured with the base polymer with which this invention is concerned is in trick ball uses. In addition, as a sports implement a ball of this invention presents -a greater challenge -to the user. As an article of play, the eccentricity of reaction makes the ball a highly entertaining and amusing toy.
The invention in the present case contemplates a molded, vulcanized, highly resilient ball comprising a mixture of polybutadiene, a sulfurous vulcanizing agent and a polybutadiene reinforcing agent.
In addition to the inherent resilience of the base polymer, the degree of cross linkage between -polymer chains is important in optimizing the bounce or liveliness of balls fabricated with it. The -degree of cross linkage is primarily determined by the amount of vulcanizing agent used. By limiting the amount of vulcanizing agent introduced into the mixture to the quantities specified below, a ball having a Yerzley resilience in excess of 90% is obtained. Such a resilience factor is substantially higher than that found in balls manufactured from natural rubber or polyisoprene.
In addition to resilience and cross linkage, the ability
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In the formulation above polybutadiene is the base polymer of the mixture. To produce cross linkage between polybutadiene chains, that is, to vulcanize or cure the polymer, sulfur is added to the mixture. A greater amount of vulcanizing agent is used in this mixture than in such products as tires thereby producing a greater degree of vulcanization. Put another way, the degree of cross linkage relative -to saturation (hard rubber) is increased over tires and the like. The more complete vulcanization is believed to result in the improved resilience of the finished product. The addition of sulfur in the range indicated will result in balls having a Yerzley Resilience in excess of 90%. Oil extended polybutadiene having as much as 50 parts by weight of oil per hundred parts by weight of polybutadiene can also be used as the base polymer.
Because the natural curing rate of a mixture of polybutadiene and sulfur is quite slow, certain other additives are combined with this basic mixture to initiate the curing cycle and accelerate the rate of vulcanization. The zinc oxide and stearic acid are added to the basic mixture to provide this activation function. Acceleration accomplishes two purposes, one, it shortens the length of the molding cycle, and two, it equalizes heat throughout the mixture during the curing cycle. In the preceding formulation, the accelerators are N-oxydiethylene benzothiazole 2 sulfenamide, di-orthotolylguanidine and bismuth dimethyldithiocarbonate. For ease of reference, the trade names AMAX, DOTG and Bismate respectively will be used to designate the accelerators.
The activation of these accelerators occurs as the mixture reaches a specific temperature. For Bismate and DOTG the activation temperature is approximately 230° F. while that of AMAX is -approximately 260° F. By insuring that t-he heat of reaction is equalized throughout the mixture a more uniform rate of vulcanization and improved consistency in the end product is obtained.
Hydrated silica is added to the mixture as a filler. A specific hydrated silica suitable for use in this mixture is marketed under the trademark Hi-Sil 233. This material and certain other materials perform the function of providing tear and abrasion resistance. The basic criteria for selection of the filler material is its ability to improve the durability of polybutadiene without unduly increasing the specific gravity. Carbon black and lithium oxide have also been found to fill these requirements and are satisfactory substitutes for the hydrated silica.

3,241,834
3
In addition to the ingredients just previously discussed, 4 methyl-6 tertiary-butyl phenol is also added to the mixture. This substance has been given the trade name of Antioxidant 2246 and prevents discoloration and staining and inhibits aging of the finished product. Examples of substitutes for Antioxidant 2246 are phenyl B naphthylamine, alkyl diphenylamine, and hindered alkyl phenols. Pigmenting agents for obtaining the desired color of the end product are optional additives.
The mixture and molding of the constituents of this formulation proceeds according to the following steps. The various elements of the formulation are brought together in a mixing machine and agitated thoroughly to insare uniform mixing and distribution of the elements throughout the mixture. The result is a plastic mass ready for insertion in a mold.
To complete the process, the mixture is placed in a nold and subjected to a pressure of between 500 and 3,000 p.s.i. for a period of approximately 10 to 30 minutes. Simultaneously, the temperature of the mixture is raised to approximately 285-340° F. To a certain extent the length of the molding operation, the pressure, and the temperature to which the formulation is subjected are co-variant and one may be adjusted to compensate for a variation in the other. Preferably the time and temperature for the molding operation is 15 to 20 minutes at approximately 320° F. and 1,000 p.s.i.
An alternate formulation to the one outlined above is as follows:
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The above formulation is mixed in the same manner as the preceding formulation. To insure a good dispersion of all ingredients in the mixture, the batch is normally given a two-pass mix. In the above formulation, the zinc oxide and the stearic acid perform the same functions, viz., activation of polymer curing, as they did in the first formulation. Akron 544 Red and Akron 626 Blue are trade designations for organic coloring agents manufactured by Akron Chemical Co. Titanium dioxide is also a coloring agent. These three constituents in combination are the pigmenting agent for the mixture.
Zeolex is a proprietary brand name for a series of precipitated, highly hydrated sodium silico-aluminates and sodium calcium silico-aluminates. Its function is to strengthen the finished product and to act as a filler in the same manner as the Hi-Sil 233 does in the preceding formulation.
Sulfur is the vulcanizing agent. Vandex is a proprietary name for finely ground selenium. Its function is to supplement sulfur as a vulcanizing agent.
As in the first formulation, several constituents of the mixture (AMAX and M. Tuads) are added to serve as accelerators for the polymerization.
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As is normal in molding tehniques, the curing temperature must be carefully selected in order to prevent imperfections in the finished product. Too high a molding temperature will contribute to a condition designated “backrind.” This condition is characterized by an indented fracture around the body of the molded product defining the point where the two halves of the mold are brought together and is due to thermal expansion in this area during and after the molding cycle.
Subject to the proper choice of injection pressure, injection time, and the combination of mixture constituents, preheat, and mold temperature, this mixture can also be molded by means of a conventional injection-molding technique.
Combinations of ingredients of which the two formulations listed above are representative have been found to result in a product with a specific gravity of approximately 1.0 to 1.3. For greatest resilience, it has been found that a sufficient amount of filler should be added to produce a product having a specific gravity of 1.02.
What is claimed is:
1. A highly resilient solid ball in the form of a sphere, the ball material having a specific gravity of from about 1 to about 1.3, and comprising in combination a vulcanized polymer characterized by the use of 100 parts by weight of polybutadiene and 0.5 to 15 parts by weight of a sulfur vulcanizing agent, and further comprising, in addition to any activators and accelerators used for vulcanization, 5 to 15 parts by weight of an inorganic reinforcing material.
2. A ball in accordance with claim 1 in which the reinforcing material is selected from the class consisting of hydrated silica, carbon black and lithium oxide.
3. A ball in accordance with claim 2 in which the sul
‘ fur vulcanizing agent is approximately 5.25 parts by
weight and the reinforcing material is approximately 7.5 parts by weight.
References Cited by the Examiner
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Location: Tampa, FL, USA
PLAYOFF PICKS FOR DIVISIONAL WEEKEND JAN 12-13 2013
 
Last Week
Well, last week went pretty well as we got 3 out of 4 right. That wasn’t looking so good until Mike Shanahan, who I savaged in last week’s column, decided, after going up 14-0 on Seattle, to leave RG3 out there on one leg and see how injured the guy could get facing the best defense in the NFC.
 
We discussed last week Shanahan’s history of abusing QB’s and going one and done with guys not named Elway.  Last week was a classic batch of evidence of this.  Up 14-0, Shanahan only had to do one thing–sit RG3 on the bench and go with his competent backup and sit on the lead.  Instead, he left a hobbled, injured QB out there too long–who by the time they actually needed him to come back and get the lead in the 4th Quarter, was way too banged up to play.  Had Shanahan rested him for two and one half quarters, RG3 might have had enough for one last drive–or his backup could have gotten it going enough to keep the ‘Skins in the game.  
 
RGIII was left in last weeks game way too long by Mike Shanahan
 
Now the Seahawks march on, Pete Carroll is a genius, Shanahan is a ninny, RG3 may be out for 1/2 of next year, RG3 has LCL and possibly ACL damage that is severe to the same knee he destroyed once already in college, and Shanahan is directly responsible for aggravating the injury for leaving in the  kid in there after the kid worked hard in the first quarter to get a two TD lead.   If I’m a tort lawyer, I’m suing Shanahan for negligence.  I mean, c’mon.  
 
Oh, and by the way, another one and done for Shanahan.  See?  And another playoff win on the road for Carroll, who continues to show his playoff genius.  And makes my pick of last week look like brilliance.  Since I analyzed it as a case of Shanahan will beat himself and Carroll will take advantage.
 
Cincinnati was lackluster in losing to the Texans in the playoffs for the second year in a row (though I have to give a shoutout to our high school QB, Haverford School/Boston College and former NY Giant Michael Mayock, who was broadcasting that game and actually made it interesting).  Mayock does all of the draft analysis for NFL Network and is one of the best prepared and best NFL and college broadcasters in the game, and one of the greatest athletes I ever saw play high school football (he once dropped 26 points in a 12 year old hoops game that was about five minutes long).  Greatest line from Mayock:  the other broadcaster mentions that Arrian Foster runs like Marcus Allen, and Mayock immediately says “Hey, I played against Marcus Allen” and goes on to note the similarities and differences.
 
Marcus Allen, OJ, Jim Brown & Walter Peyton v. Adrian Peterson & Eric Dickerson
Thirty years ago this month I was living in LA, and my good friend E.N. was visiting from NYC, and we scored fifty yard line seats for the LA Raiders-NY Jets playoff game in balmy 70 degree weather.  You may remember that this was the game won by the Jets (barely) using Richard Todd at QB, and with their famous defensive combo of Gastineau and Temple’s own Joe Klecko.  Famous for the fact that until Rex Ryan came along, the Jets had not won a playoff game since that 1983 contest for a long, long time.  
 
Anyhow, Marcus Allen was in that game as a rookie, and not ten rows ahead of us was sitting then world famous actor and sports commentator Orenthal James “OJ” Simpson, a white Bronco ride still ten years away in his future, sitting with his beautiful blonde wife and an equally beautiful blonde on the other side of him.  During the entire game we (meaning the whole crowd) were peppering him with cries of “Juice, Juice”.  After all, we were in the LA Coliseum, the very place he had played college ball for USC, and he was watching his good friend Marcus Allen play ball.  
 
Marcus Allen USC and LA Raider HOF RB
 
 
It seems a long time ago, but this year some running back made an assault on Eric Dickerson’s 16 game rushing record of 2105 yards achieved in 1973 (Adrian Peterson with 2,097).  The only problem being, both Peterson & Dickerson did it in sixteen games, whereas OJ Simpson’s record of 2,003 yards, set in 1973, was achieved in fourteen games.  OJ averaged more than 143 yards per game, whereas Dickerson, in the longer season, averaged only 132 yards per game.  Meaning that had OJ played two more games, it’s pretty safe to say that OJ would have gained 2,289 yards in a sixteen game season.
 
No one since OJ has gained 2,000 yards in 14 games or less, and if OJ were playing today, he’s probably have already broken the 2,500 yard mark for a running back in a sixteen game season with a bye.  Remember, too, he set that record playing in Buffalo, outside, in the snow, without a bye week.  
 
OJ Simpson – the greatest RB of them all?
 
 
OJ had another year two years later in 1975 where he gained 1817 yards in a 14 games season and averaged 130 yards per game.  If he had played 16 games that year, he’d have rushed for 2,017 yards that year.  That would still be 5th on the all-time list today ahead of all but Dickerson, Peterson, and the famous 2000 yard seasons of Jamal Lewis & Barry Sanders.  
 
This was probably the OJ look that launched his “Naked Gun” film career
 
 
Lest we neglect the greatest RB of them all, Jim Brown played 1/2 of his career in a twelve game NFL season.  In 118 games he rushed for 12,312 yards and averaged over his career 104.3 yards per game.  In 1963, Brown rushed for 1863 yards and averages 133.1 yards per game, which means if he had played 16 games in 1963, he would have rushed for 2,129 yards.  
 
Needless to say, Jim Brown would have been the all-time rushing leader and the first to break the 2,000 yard barrier if he had played a 16 game season.  Moreover, Brown’s retrospective 2,129 yards he would have gained in 16 games played with a bye in 1963 would rank first in the NFL overall today, and would only rank behind OJ’s retrospective 2,289 yards which OJ would have carried in 1973 given sixteen games and a bye.
 
Consequently, let’s forget about Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson, who are great HOF backs, and concentrate on who were the greatest NFL running backs in history.  That list comes down to three–Jim Brown, OJ Simpson, and Barry Sanders.   And of course, the late Walter Peyton, whose 1977 season rushing for 1852 yards with a pace of 132 yards per carry in a fourteen game season would have propelled him to a total of 2,116 yards in a sixteen game, bye week season.  That would have ranked him third all time in NFL history.  
 
the late Walter Payton – perhaps the most beloved football player of all time
 
 
And I’d take Marcus Allen after them and before Eric Dickerson or Adrian Peterson.  Allen was as good a receiving back as he was a running back, and in his NFL career rushed for 12,000 plus yards as well as caught passes receiving for another nearly 5,500 yards at a nearly 10 yards per reception clip.  If you split him into two he’d be two HOFers, but as a single back, he was a wrecking crew.  In 1985 he totalled 2314 yards from scrimmage, 1780 on the ground and another 555 in reception yards.  Yikes.  Not even Sanders, Peyton, Simpson or Brown were that versatile.  Peyton could catch and run with the ball more than the others–and Sweetness was truly great–but at his peak, Marcus Allen literally destroyed defenses.  
 
In the Super Bowl of January 1984 between the LA Raiders and the Washington Redskins, wherein the Raiders destroyed the Redskins 38-9, Marcus Allen rushed for 191 yards on 20 rushing attempts.  John Riggins on the other side only gained 64 yards on 26 attempts.  The combination of Marcus Allen and Jim Plunkett was, literally, unstoppable, and the Raiders crushed a Washington Redskins team that had won the Super Bowl the very previous year over Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins.  They didn’t just beat the Redskins–they destroyed, humiliated and made a laughingstock of them, so much so that everyone forgot that the Redskins had ever been champions the year before.  
 
Marcus Allen’s 9.55 yards per carry Super Bowl rushing average is second all time in Super Bowl history–to the immortal Tom Matte of Baltimore, who averages 10.55 yards per carry back in Super Bowl III (which the Jets, not the Colts won).  Matte rushed for 116 yards on 11 attempts in that game, but that was in a losing effort.  Matte and Unitas were usually a terrific pair, but Namath and his teammates were just better that day–a lot better.  
 
That was how good Marcus Allen was.  And as good as OJ, Peyton, Jim Brown, and all the rest were, only Walter Peyton won a Super Bowl, and Jim Brown an NFL championship.  Marcus Allen didn’t just win a Super Bowl–he dominated it.  
 
PICKS FOR THIS WEEKEND
 
Saturday’s Games:
 
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos:
 
I’m getting this out a little late, so really I shouldn’t be picking so late on this one, but I’m going with the conventional wisdom and picking Denver, at home, over Baltimore.  Ave atque value, Ray Lewis.  Those about to do NFL combat for the last time salute you, you are a true warrior.  
 
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers:
 
This is a very close matchup.  Green Bay has a better offense with Aaron Rodgers, but SF has a superior defense, and one has to like the Niner’s coaching scheme.  Also, the Niners have the home field, which is a big difference from playing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.  I like the 49ers in a close game.  
 
Sunday’s Games:
 
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons:
 
On paper, you’d have to like the Seahawks.  However, Atlanta is very tough at home, they have the bye week, and Matt Ryan is a much more veteran and savvy QB than rookie RGIII, and will play for the long haul.  Atlanta has a good rushing attack with Turner and Rodgers to go with the passing attack of Ryan, and Atlanta also has an excellent defense.  Think about Atlanta’s 34-0 smackdown of the NY Giants in the Dome, and you get the idea of how good Atlanta can play at home, and their 13-3 record is nothing to sneeze about.  I pick Atlanta.
 
Houston Texans at NE Patriots:
 
This is a rematch of last year’s playoff game, wherein the Patriots pretty much destroyed the Texans.  As much as one would like to see a different result, the fact is that Tom Brady and the Pats are really good at home, they scored the most points of any team in the league, and their defense is pretty darn good also.  And their QB is very good.  The Texans won last week, but in one of the most boring games ever, and other than Arrian Foster, they just don’t have the offensive weapons to keep up with the Patriots, and their defense will not shut down Tom Brady for an entire game–the Patriots scored 557 points this season.  
 
Footnote:
 
The Canton Bulldogs, which featured Jim Thorpe, and played in the NFL only during the 1920s (my late grandfather lived in Canton OH for two years and watched Jim Thorpe play football), won two NFL championship.  That is more NFL championships than the Seattle Seahawks, the Houston Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Carolina Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Minnesota Vikings (all of which have zero NFL or Super Bowl championships), and more than the Baltimore Ravens, the New Orleans Saints, the Tampa Bay Bucs, the NY Jets or the San Diego Chargers (all of which have one Super Bowl or NFL/AFL championship).  The Broncos, Bills, Chiefs, Titans, Dolphins and most embarassingly, since they’ve been in the league since 1920, the Chicago/St Louis/Arizona Cardinals, are all tied with Canton with two championships.   So much for NFL parity.  18 teams have won the same number or fewer NFL championships as the Canton Bulldogs, a team that last played during the Coolidge Administration.  Even the Philadelphia Eagles have three NFL championships (1948, 1949 and 1960).  
 
Art Kyriazis, Philly
http://arthurjohnkyriazisgoogleblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/playoff-picks-for-divisional-weekend.html

 

George Russell, one of the Jazz Legends, died last week in New York City, a death that went all but unnoticed except in the New York Times, which had a fitting obit to the jazz legend.

Russell’s album “The Jazz Workshop” from 1956 is a legendary work, and for years commanded very high collectors’ prices in mint first edition, usually more than a hundred dollars. It was an amazing work.

Russell, as the NYT obit noted, invented modal dissonant jazz—dense harmonic dissonant chord changes which he described in his “bible of modal jazz”, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation, published in 1953 and again in 1959. (thanks to the New York times 7/30/09 for this).

The effect on the jazz world was dramatic. Miles Davis and John Coletrane immediately picked up on modal jazz, starting with the album “Milestones” in 1958 (they were still in the same band) and then Davis struck gold with his all time classic “Kind of Blue” a year later in 1959 (the fifty year legacy edition was recently released by Columbia in a two cd edition).

From here to the wild modal jazz explorations of miles and coletrane of the 50s and 60s, and to the free jazz of ornette coleman, and the fusion jazz of the 60s and 70s, was but a short step. Dissonance and freedom from tonality was all the rage for the next 25 years.

The movement raged on into rock and blues. Ray Manzarek explained “Light My Fire” as a “modal chromatic inversion” of Coletrane’s “My Favorite Things”; the Grateful Dead and other groups began to improvise and jam along modal jazz lines each and every night, as did more blues-based groups like Eric Clapton and Cream. By the 1970s, modal jazz and jazz-rock fused into jazz-fusion and groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra led by John McLaughlin produced stupendous works like “The Inner Mounting Flame,” while more mainstream artists like Al DiMeola, Jean Luc-Ponty and Weather Report experimented with jazz fusion and modality throughout the decade.

Perhaps my favorite modal work was 1967’s “Nefertiti”, by the legendary Miles Davis lineup which included Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter & Tony Williams. Sublime and spectacular.

George Russell was completely forgotten by then, but he was the father of it all. No one remembered that Russell was the composer of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Cubano Bop” and “Cubano Be Cubano Bop” in the late 1940s, or that Russell continued to teach and play in the new york area for years, or that Russell received a McArthur Fellowship in 1988.

George Russell was one of my favorite jazz figures precisely because he was obscure but influential and brilliant. He never sought out the spotlight, fame, money, fast cars or the attention of pop stardom. He was, to the end, a musician’s musician. He will be missed.

–art kyriazis, Philadelphia, PA
the birthplace of dizzy gillespie & john coletrane

David “Fathead” Newman, one of the great R & B and jazz saxmen, has passed away January 20, 2009, and Freddie Hubbard, jazz trumpet player extraordinaire, December 29, 2008. Newman is most well-known for being part of Ray Charles excellent R & B band of the 1950s, from 1954-66. Newman played on almost all of Ray Charles important hits of the 1950s and 1960s, including the great “I Got a Woman.”

Newman is also one of the great hard-bop jazz saxmen. He released no less than 38 of his own albums, and also worked as a sideman with dozens of the industry’s greats. One of his greatest albums was STILL HARD TIMES from 1982, a title for our times if ever there was one. But truly, any Newman CD/LP is a good one. He never cut a bad one, truth be told.

Freddie Hubbard trained with the greats, including Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and cut a lot of sides with Joe Henderson and Kenny Barron. Because of the untimely death of Lee Morgan, the heir apparent to Miles, Hubbard was more or less thrust into the role of heir apparent to Miles, a role Hubbard was never quite comfortable with, though Hubbard was a fine and excellent trumpet player.

There are a lot of stories about Freddie’s personal life. He liked to live large, and his career was not managed well, nor did he keep his accounts straight with creditors or bill collectors.

But Freddie Hubbard, whatever his personal faults, was a living jazz legend, and lest we forget, he played with all of the greats, and left behind a vast recorded jazz legacy that stretches over more than fifty years, both as sideman and band leader. Moreover, his recorded legacy, as the memory of his actual life fades, will seem greater and more imposing, as time passes.

David Fathead Newman and Freddie Hubbard collectively have left us with nearly a hundred recordings of some of the most excellent hard bop jazz in existence, recording alongside the best sidemen in the business.

Newman in addition has left behind all his recordings with the Ray Charles band from the prime of that group, and Hubbard played as sideman on many albums to some of the greatest in the business as well.

These recordings are a lasting legacy to a couple of the great jazz musicians of an era.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies