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TWC's high school schedule

Time Warner Cable will air 20 high school football games this season, on channels 13 and 713. All but two of the games will be televised on tape delay. The two live broadcasts are next Saturday’s McQuaid at Canisius (1 p.m.) game, and Sept. 28’s meeting between St. Joe’s and Aquinas.

The schedule:

Sept. 1, 1 p.m., McQuaid at Canisius;
Sept. 1, 7 p.m., Bishop Timon-St. Jude at Williamsville South;
Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m., St. Joe’s at Bennett;
Sept. 15, 4:30 p.m., Lackawanna at Cheektowaga;
Sept. 22, 7 p.m., Clarence at Lancaster;
Sept. 28, 7 p.m., St. Joe’s at Aquinas;
Sept. 30, 7 p.m., North Tonawanda at Starpoint;
Oct. 6, 7 p.m., McKinley at North Tonawanda;
Oct. 13, TBA, Depew at Lancaster;
Oct. 14, TBA, Kenmore West at Kenmore East;
Oct. 20, TBA, Section VI playoff;
Oct. 27, TBA, Section VI playoff;
Nov. 3-4, TBA, Section VI Championships;
Nov. 8, TBA, Msgr. Martin Association semifinals.

--Greg Connors

Namath wades in shallow water in HBO documentary

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The HBO documentary "Namath," which premieres Saturday night at 9, is definitely an authorized biography. The 68-year-old quarterback spent a lot of time with HBO producers, talking to the camera about his shooting-star career as a Super Bowl champion with the New York Jets.

Namath, sitting in his South Florida home, his famously rebuilt knees making it look like a chore for him to cross his legs, reminisces about many phases of his life, on the field and off. The camera also follows him back to his hometown of Beaver Falls, Pa., where he is honored as a returning hero.

The documentary doesn't shy away from asking Namath about some low points in his life: His bouts of heavy drinking, for example; his divorce, and the squeeze put on him by the NFL in 1970 to sell his interest in his Bachelors III night spot because gamblers and organized crime figures were known to gather there.

For all the access, however, it's hard to feel that you come away knowing the man behind Broadway Joe.

Namath, of course, was football's first major media star and millionaire product pitchman. Because he played in New York, he became more famous for being famous than he was for throwing a football. In the HBO program, one of his agents recalls asking him back in the day, "What do you think about Joe Namath?"

"What do you mean? I'm Joe Namath," he said.

"No," the agent said. "I'm talking about the character, the guy whose name is on the clothing labels and who appears in all the commercials."

Some 40 years after that conversation, it's not clear that Namath has given much more thought to his answer. No matter what the topic Ñ whether it's the Jets' shocking upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, how he was resented by teammates when he first arrived as a member of the Jets or Bear Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide, or how humiliating it was when a drunk Namath in 2007 told ESPN's Suzy Kolber on national television that he wanted to kiss her Ñ Namath's thoughts just barely skim the surface.

Perhaps this is not Namath's fault. The late writer David Foster Wallace, in an essay titled "How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart," described his disappointment at Austin's inability to write anything interesting about her career as a tennis phenom. Wallace concluded that perhaps the seemingly effortless physical superiority of many athletes makes them particularly unsuited to introspection. Perhaps, Wallace said, what is going through their minds during those moments of physical transcendence is "nothing at all."

It would be nice if he had more to say about what it was like being the king of New York nightlife; what it meant to end up living his boyhood dream as a Super Bowl quarterback, a star in feature films, and the most famous man to come out of Beaver Falls. He doesn't duck  any questions, but his answers don't add much to the record. When his father walked out on the family when Joe was a boy, "that was tough." When Namath filmed the movie "C.C. & Company" with the sex symbol Ann-Marget, "she was really hot." And when they did a love scene together it was awkward because there were a lot of people on the set. "Still, it wasn't THAT awkward," Namath says, grinning.

One of the great debates for NFL fans and pundits is whether Namath's career was truly worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This documentary might not settle the argument, but it goes a long way toward explaining how Namath got his bust in Canton. Namath's career statistics do not by themselves place him in the pantheon of the all-time elite. But his impact on the game back in 1969, when the Jets represented all the AFL teams vying for respect from their NFL brethren, is almost impossible to measure in 2012.

Namath's fame in those days was something akin to that of Muhammad Ali. Former Rams defensive star Fred Dryer explains in the program that defensive players used to pull up when tackling Namath, whose knees made him so vulnerable to getting injured on any given hit. Dryer said only an idiot would want to knock Namath out of a game because he was so good for football, for selling the product to the public.

Ann-Margret said Namath had a special twinkle in his eye that helped define his charisma. Maybe it was his unique accent, the way he rolled his L's. ("I'd been strugg-a-ling that year.") It's hard to think of another quarterback since who has single-handedly commanded so much attention.

Whether you remember seeing Broadway Joe on TV or on the football field, or you just want to see what his legend is all about, HBO's documentary is a good place to start. If you want to go a little deeper, I'd highly recommend the book "Namath: A Biography," by the former New York sports columnist Mark Kriegel. It's a great companion piece to HBO's colorful sampling of the football legend.

---Greg Connors

Buffalo Sports Museum a labor of love

Boutet V

Be sure to check out the Monday Extra in the Sports section on local teacher John Boutet's labor of love, the Buffalo Sports Museum. Boutet has more than 10,000 pieces of memorabilia in his home and has put photos of many of them on his voluminous Web site at www.buffalosportsmuseum.com. I spent three hours in his home last week and probably could have spent about 13 more because there were so many bring-back-the-memories things to see.

For an even better look at the collection, follow this link to our Web video, Great work as always by digital media producer Joseph Popiolkowski and photographer James P. McCoy, whose shots are in the paper, on this blog and in this photo gallery

Boutet VI Boutet sent me a follow-up email last week that he agreed to let me share here. What's the favorite item in his collection? It's the mid-1950s Duke Snider Rawlings baseball glove of his late father, Paul. When John was a child, Paul Boutet was the one who took him to the Aud and Rockpile and let his son become a kiddie collector of sorts by mining ticket stubs and the like. Boutet gives you some more insight:

"He taught me everything I know about the game of baseball and more importantly life in sports. ... My Dad was the father who would always end up volunteering to coach when none of the other fathers would. He would work his 10-hour days and rush home to get us in the car and head over to Kenmore West for practice. He was the father who would drive all the kids home because he knew it was safer than having them walk or ride a bike on the busy Kenmore streets. He was the father who kept every kid who tried out because he knew everyone had value even if they were only the water boy or equipment manager. He never once cut a kid. He made sure every kid got a jersey even if it came out of his own pocket.

"He was the father who treated every kid to ice cream after the games on Saturdays at Anderson's. He was the father who threw batting practice until his arm nearly fell off. He was the father who when he found out that 20 kids weren't going to make the St. Joe's JV hockey team said "Let's make a JV "B" team just so those 20 kids would have a team to play on. He never coached hockey in his life but he wanted those kids to have a team to call their own. He named the team the "It's" because he said "It was the team to play for". That was my Dad, always looking out for all the kids, not just his own. So my favorite item is that tattered old glove, because it symbolizes all that my Dad was...my hero."

Great stuff. Nothing more to be said after reading that.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Memories of Lou Reuter

For those of you who knew former Kenmore East football coach Lou Reuter, you know he had a passion for life. That passion never wavered during his battle against cancer. Lou lost the fight Monday morning, but his influence on the people he taught, coached and worked with will live on forever.

Lou was a Ken East Bulldog through and through. He and his good friend, former Ken East varsity coach Dick "Sparky" Adams, always would say that they bleed blue and gold. Lou coined the phrase "Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog."

This Bulldog is proud to say he loved Coach Reuter. He was an incredibly intelligent and high-character man. His speeches and pep talks are legendary. I would love to hear more stories and fond memories about this great man!

---Assistant Sports Editor Dennis Danheiser

Sabres' Miller among big Upstate names headed to the Glen

Sabres Afinogenov Hockey The racing weekend at Watkins Glen International starts on Friday, and Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (left) will be a part of it.

Miller will be the grand marshal for Friday night's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series event, the Crown Royal 200.

Fans will get a chance to meet Miller during a special autograph session at 5 p.m. Friday. Miller will be at The Pyramid -- the souvenir store located in the infield of the track -- to sign autographs and promote his charitable endeavor, The Steadfast Foundation. During the appearance, Miller will sell limited edition Steadfast Foundation/Watkins Glen International hats with all proceeds benefiting The Steadfast Foundation. 

First-year Syracuse University football coach Doug Marrone will be the grand marshal for Saturday's Nationwide Series race, the Zippo 200.

Several local military groups will be participating in the prerace festivities as well.

During the singing of the National Anthem for Saturday's Zippo 200 and Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race, color guards from all different military branches will be posted around the 2.45-mile circuit. They include the U.S. Niagara Falls Air Force Color Guard of Niagara Falls, the U.S. Navy Color Guard of Buffalo will be joined by the color guard of the Army’s 27th Combat Brigade of Syracuse.

Prior to Sunday's race, the nation's colors will be presented at the start/finish line by the West Point Military Police Honor Guard. Each member of the West Point Military Police Honor Guard has served the country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The unit's primary purpose is to render military honors at military funerals but they also present the nation’s colors for various ceremonies and events.

Following Saturday's anthem, multiple Black Hawk helicopters from the N.Y. Army National Guard of Albany will pass over the grandstands. Sunday's flyover will be made by four F-16C Fighting Falcons of the 174th Fighter Wing from Syracuse.

I'll have updates throughout the weekend from the Glen.

---Keith McShea

Associated Press file photo

 

Punt, pass and pose

News Sports Reporter Anna Kim profiles Wheatfield's Krystal Gray, a quarterback for the New York Majesty in the Lingerie Football League, in Friday's Buffalo News.

This league kicks off a 22-game regular season in September, featuring seven-on-seven contact football between women dressed in bikini tops and shorts.

There's even talk of a team finding a home in Buffalo.

What do you make of this?


Talkin' about practice (the remix)

Fun stuff, including an appearance by a certain new Buffalo Bill at the end ...

---Keith McShea

Yelling at the TV: Super Bowl XLIII

Super Bowl XLIII, the TV as-it-happened review, from pregame (6 p.m.) to commercials to halftime to the amazing end. We'd like to thank HDTV, skycams and DVR for making it quite an enjoyable evening.

If you want to check out the commercials, go to hulu.com or nbc.com. Review real-life live blogs by the News' Jerry Sullivan -- for the game -- at Sully on Sports and by Anne Neville -- for the ads -- at the Pop Stand blog.

This one might get into a little bit of both -- it's not really about the X's and O's but how Al Michaels, John Madden, NBC and company brought them to us. Early on, TV-wise, the ads get most of the blabber.

* * * 


Pregame

** John Madden opens with commentary with some teeth: The Cardinals have made him think "futility" and he says you would even forget they were in the league. Nice.

** Isn't this one of the most orchestrated, planned out events in sports? So if we're going to have cameras following the players and coaches to the field, do you think the flag-holders and the support staff can get out of Mike Tomlin's way so he's not zig-zagging through people down the tunnel?

** The Man of the Year award goes to Kurt Warner, and we have our first Brenda Warner sighting. How many of those will we get during the game?

** Jennifer Hudson seems like she's singing a decent National Anthem, but I can't tell with the loud recorded background music. Not good.

** First commercial break leads with an action army movie with Dennis Quaid leading the charge? I don't know about that. Oh, it's G.I. Joe vs. Cobra!? I think I just saw Snake Eyes! AWESOME. Ahem. Sorry about that.

** There seems to be an annoying clicking noise in the background. Hey, this is the Super Bowl. Get a man on that. (It disappeared once the game started).

** Nice nods to the important stuff in the pregame, with the flight crew from the plane that landed in the Hudson River (with one member holding a Steelers Terrible Towel) as well as Gen. David Petraeus in on the coin toss. Players and officials applauding right before the biggest game of their lives.

** During the coin toss, some cameraman must have said something funny, because Ben Roethlisberger and Jeff Reed both look over and have a did-he-just-say-that-during-the-coin-toss? smile on their face.

** Pittsburgh sideline reporter Andrea Kramer says Hines Ward was reinjected with his own blood and he feels better. Umm, isn't that also called blood doping?

** Arizona sideline reporter Alex Flanagan busts out with F. Scott Fitzgerald! Talk about shameless pandering to the NPR and public-television-watching demographic. Actually a nice touch.

* * *

First quarter

** The first flag of the game is on NBC, which showed the play clock expiring well before hand, an obvious glitch as play continued.

First commercial breaks. For many, the real start of the game

** Bud Light, always a strong Super Bowl-er, starts nicely with a guy getting thrown out a window during a meeting. Best part is when someone pokes fun at the company's own "drinkability" slogan: "Does my pen have writeability?"

** Three commercials in, two of them have guys getting thrown out of windows. I llke it. That was an Audi ad, where the car chases were cool, but the best thing was the fake billboard in the 80s advertising "The Mousse is Loose." 

** Another theme, as two commercials in a row feature traveling through generations -- Pepsi brings Bob Dylan and will.i.am together. Sort of.

** The ad for delicious Doritos, with a guy throwing a crystal ball/snow globe into a vending machine, was dopey. But they're still delicious. Man, it's tough typing with Dorito-fingers.

Back to the game: Quality video angles on the Roethlesberger non-touchdown. ... Cardinals first drive. Nothing doing.

* * *


Second commercial break.

** Conan O'Brien does a Bud Light ad that will broadcast "only in Sweden." Very Conan, very wacky, very good. Bud Light apparently has more ad execs than brewmeisters.

** Jack Black and the kid from "Superbad" are cavemen or something in "Year One." Early review: Gonna stink.

Back to the game -- Pittsburgh's second drive.

** Arizona's 'D' is the last unit to do the self-introductions at the bottom of the screen. Good to see Edgerrin James keep "the U" (Miami) in the national dialogue. I still would love to know what college alumni boards think of their star NFL alums opting to use their high schools rather than their colleges.

** Madden describes Big Ben as "being Superman" after a very outstanding scramble-around-and-completion. Superman? Maybe. Hey, it's the first quarter. After Superman, there's nowhere to go with your superhero metaphors.

* * *


End of the first quarter, Pittsburgh 3-0: Seemed like that went pretty fast. Or maybe that's my DVRing through the bad commercials.

** Bridgestone somehow courted Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head to drive a car. Just saying: I didn't see any shoulder belts on those two. ... Another Fast and the Furious movie. Thank goodness. ... Castrol gets into monkey business: I think I just saw a monkey kiss a guy. That one is the clubhouse leader for conversation-starter at water cooler.

* * *


Start second quarter

** Good Madden stuff:  "Usually for a skirmish you'll find Hines Ward in the middle of it. If there's a fight to be fought he wants to be part of it."

** A Will Ferrell movie, Land of the Lost. One movie exec says to the other, "Hey, let's have Ferrell do his schtick, but instead of being a 70s basketball player or a dumb step-brother we send him back in time with dinosaurs!" Other exec: "I love it!"

** More Doritos. This one ends with something that's always funny: a guy gets hit by a bus. Thousands of males watching with other males pause their DVRs for the first part, when Doritos gave him superpowers to remove a woman's clothes. I'm too busy writing to do that. I swear.

** godaddy.com featuring Danica Patrick in a shower, sort of. Why is Danica selling herself like this? Doesn't she have other endorsements? Doesn't she realize that she loses more and more credibility the longer she plays off her looks and doesn't win any races (in North America)?

** Lots of guys getting hurt, slapstick-style. Fun stuff. It's for Diet Pepsi Max, which inferred that men don't like diet cola. I wonder what the eight 12-packs of diet Coke in my kitchen think about that. Hmm. That reminds me, almost time for my queche dinner.

** Pedigree advertises its adoption drive. Nice scene of a pig in the backseat of a car with grandma. Animals are always Super Bowl ad winners. ... Speaking of, Budweiser's horse and dog are back. ... NBC keeps promo-ing the blank out of Heroes even though, just from the ads, you can tell the show has jumped the shark.

* * *


Steelers kickoff after taking a 10-0 lead and we're back to the commercials.

** And back to the animals. Boy horse meets girl horse. Personally, I'm done with the Bud horse. ... Another Star Trek movie? What is this, the eighth incarnation of those guys? Just goes to show you can never underestimate the amount of people who grok Spock.

* * *


Cardinals on the move in the second quarter.

** Brief mention of Kurt Warner's comeback from being Leinhart's backup. Thought they might milk that a little more -- it's a great storyline. But the night is young.

** Warner hits Anquan Boldin and he's inside the five. Excellent, we gotta game. NBC and NFL execs gotta love it.

And another commercial break. ... Gatorade commercial features Jason McElwain of the feel-good high school hoop three-point fest a couple of exits down the Thruway from a few years back. ... Cars.com ad has lots of buildup of a child genius, but no payoff. Best thing is during his negotiation with parents for later bedtime, you can see a power-point pie chart in the background which features more than half of the pie attributed to "roughhousing." 

* * *

And back to the game.

** Lovely montage of Warner tripping on handoffs during the playoffs. He's gotta love that one -- hey Kurt, here's a collection of you stumbling around. ... Madden's still got it, nice Football 101 of why chop-blocking is a penalty.

Timeout, Cardinals.

** Some screaming execs in different languages, then "Hyundai, like Sunday." Not bad. ... Infants at the computer for E-Trade. I'm done with that, too. Can ads jump the shark?

Time in for a punt ...

** Nice job by Al Michaels, calling the fact that Larry Fitzgerald has no catches the game's "stunning statistic." A little alliteration.

** Ad for a Pixar movie with an old man in a house. Hollywood makes dumb movies which are animated, too! ... Bud Light is back, now with the telestrating guy. Done with him, too.

* * *


Two-minute warning with the Cardinals coming off an interception.

** Death appears in H&R Block ad. Not funny. ... Flowers in a box. Flowers come in a box? Talking flowers tell off a girl. Big laugh at the end thanks to her cubicle neighbor. But I already forgot who it was for.  ... Jay Leno driving this time in a promo. Mr. Potato Head had a nicer chin. Baddump-bump.

* * *

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have our Blunder of the Game. As a graphic advertises that the halftime show wil be done from the pirate ship above the end zone (of the Buccaneers' stadium), Al Michaels references the pirate ship and says "hopefully none of them from Somalia." Al, you know the whole world heard that, right?  Wow. Awful.

* * * 

Cardinals driving late in the first half ...

** Madden nice breakdown of the Arizona backs able to take passes to the outside because Pittsburgh is concentrating on preventing Fitzgerald from going inside.

Timeout Cardinals ...

** Cheetos is a winner, with the small-town girl and Chester Cheetah (where have you been?) sending pigeons over to pester some annoying snobby girl from Long Island (I can say that about her. But you can't).

Back to the action ...

** Quality video & Madden analysis of Steelers' defending of Fitzgerald.

** Nice camera angles on the amazing James Harrison interception return -- In one of the slow-mos, you see the Cardinal cheerleaders in the background with hands on hips and huge smiles on their faces -- as their team is giving up one of the worst plays in Super Bowl history. C'mon ladies. 

** Madden: James Harrison runs "like James Brown." Groan.

* * *

And we're at halftime with Pittsburgh suddenly up, 17-7.

** Hey, something in 3-D! Cool! Where are my glasses? Um, I don't have any. You needed to pick them up in a store? Hey, Disney, Sobe, NBC and 3-D marketers out there! Want to guarantee a much larger audience actually watch? How about sticking them in the Sunday newspaper? Newspaper ad execs, get on it. I like my job.

** Bob Costas: "One of the biggest turnarounds in Super Bowl history" is right-on. Cris Collinsworth makes a great point on Arizona RB Tim Hightower being kept in to block on the play, affecting where Harrison would be. Considering all the schmoes at the desk, they're doing a good job doling out some quality info. Mike Holmgren says he would have gone for it on fourth-and-goal on Pittsburgh's first drive; Tony Dungy and Collinsworth say no. Surprisingly quality stuff when it looked like there were too many cooks on the screen.

** Heroes football ad: John Elway is really a mutant? Insert teeth joke here.

** Bruce Springsteen brings it, screaming at us to get away from the guacamole. Great start. Nice to see people -- even middle-age people -- actually enjoying the show; usually the Super Bowl imports no-nothing-about-the-artist teeny boppers to do some blind bopping. ... Bruce goes into a full slide into a camera. Ouch. ... Everyone singing along with Born to Run. A Super Bowl halftime act with some actual energy! Who knew? ... Bruce goes football on Glory Days, at the end a referee comes out to signal delay of game. Not bad schtick. Now that was a Spuer Bowl halftime show.

Back to the ads.

** Priceline. Funny. William Shatner is funny just talking, much less some guy doing Shatner ... Overstock and Carlos Boozer and some kids was a feel-gooder. ... NBC promo for Thursday night exposes LMAO Syndrome, where people are hospitalized after literally laughing their A off. Quality.

Back to Costas, who asks who would have known Harrison would be "Born to Run." Not bad -- flirting with groan territory, but he's Costas so you give him the benefit of the doubt. Jerome Bettis says at the half he gave Harrison a nod and Big Ben looked great. Thanks, Jerome. Now that's the useless information we expect from our talking heads. 

Back to the ads again, which have gone local. ... For Ch. 2, silent newscasters are holding signs. Leftover cue cards? ... Some more local ads -- the ad time must be discounted now. "Hurt in a car?" Puke. Only thing worse would be the idiot who sincerly hopes that we stay out of trouble.

* * *


Third quarter

** Great graphic to start us off - Cardinals scored the most points in third quarter this season, Steelers allowed the fewest.

First ads of the third quarter ... Coca-Cola bringing avatars together - not bad. .... Some moon buggy dudes get their Bridgestones swiped. Very funny, bonus points for bringing House of Pain's "Jump Around" back, stirring wistful memories of playing it at 4 a.m. to infuriate a college roomate. ... Denny's gives us Mobsters out to breakfast. Eh. ... Monster.com shows what's behind those trophy animal heads. Nice. ... A few breaks later, I am definitely sick of Budweiser's horse droppings. A clydesdale with an Irish brogue. Whatever.

* * *

Back to a Pittsburgh drive start.

** Shot of Cuba Gooding at the game, or is that Cardinal great Rod Tidwell? Al talks about Jerry Maguire and how they filmed scenes during MNF. Weird, but Gooding's Tidwell and Maguire have been on cable a bunch lately.

** Weak roughing-the-passer call gets appropriate I'm-not-sure-about-that treatment from Al & Madden.

** Nice block by Heath Miller helps spring Willie Parker, and nice breakdown by cameras and Madden. "About as good a block as a tight end can make."

** Dubious non-intentional grounding call -- until a good replay removes the doubt.

* * *

After a Pittsburgh field goal, it is 20-7, and more commercials. Maybe they'll tail off now?

** Transformers sequel. Awesome. ... Woman screaming in her car, a coworker saying "Hey dummy," and "if you daydream of punching small animals" and "if you sit next to this guy" (BIG warning on the visual here if you watch it), you might need Careerbuilder.com. BEST COMMERCIAL OF GAME. ... Coca-Cola goes with animated insects -- maybe because animals are tapped out? It's actually a fun one wiht all them bugs working together to steal a bottle. Nice. ... The outstanding Tina Fey does her thing with a great "if you're Conan lasts more than three hours, see a doctor" line during a Conan O'Brien promo.

* * *

Back to game: Cardinals take over late in the third.

** First Brenda Warner in-game shot! Over under on the rest of the game? I'm setting it at two and taking the over.

** Michaels says Warner "looks like he's been at the spa for a month." Huh?

** Did we really need the shot of Warner in a Rams uniform to show he didn't wear gloves back then? Weird. What we need is some then/now shots of Brenda Warner!

* * *


End of third quarter, Steelers still up, 20-17.

Usama Young of the Saints wins the NFL Super Bowl ad contest after going from Redskins sno-cone seller to the NFL. "Now I'm in the Super Bowl," he says. "It's just a commercial, son," says Dad, "now get me a snow cone." Nice. ... A Jesus (Frank) Reich sighting! Shilling Frey Electric with Laurie Lisowski. ... Enjon Development? A company apparently run by a 16-year-old. WORST COMMERCIAL OF GAME. ... LaBatt Blue Lights are brewed by a goalie with an icicle hockey stick. Interesting.

* * *

Start of the fourth quarter.

** Ed McMahon and MC Hammer for cash4gold.com! Somehow pathetic and hilarious at the same time. That looked like a Tropic Thunder-esque spoof, but I just checked the Web site and it's real. Wow. Ed's wrinkled fingers holding his gold? I'm starting to think that he's sunk to a certain level, but then again, he was at that level: he was Mr. Publishers Clearinghouse.

Back to the game ..

** Shot of sportswriter Larry Fitzgerald Sr. in the press box. He's just sitting there. I know Larry's having a quiet game, but you're making us look bad! Can we get a laptop flip or a scribble on a notebook or something?

** Vocabulary word: Al says Cardinals are going to the no-huddle, working with "alacrity." Nice.

** Another shot of Larry Sr. Still just watching the game. Somebody from the sportswriters association get ahold of him! Put a pen in his hand or something!

** Touchdown Fitzgerald! NBC shows dad, who is still stonefaced, "like a true journalist" says Al. Then a shot of Warner's wife! Booyah. One down, two to go and I hit the over.

** "A little David Tyree" in that play, Madden says of Fitzgerald's TD catch. Nice.

** Madden lauds Darnell Dockett, who then makes another great play with a 10-yard sack.

** One of the few standout ads late is a surprising version of an SNL skit: "MacGruber!" Funny stuff. 

* * *


Back to late drama. Steelers lead, 20-14. A Warner wife shot HAS to be coming up soon.

** Another great pre-call by Madden: "I think they can do business in the middle," right before Warner hits Steve Breaston -- in the middle.

** Madden says something to the effect of if the Cardinals can pull this off, Kurt Warner could be headed for the Hall of Fame. Sounds like a good spot for a Warner wife shot! But no.

** Boom! Brenda Warner reaction on a replay, and then a live shot! I win! Unless you count that as the same shot. Even so, I feel confident. Victory or despair, we'll be seeing blondey again. Definitely set the over/under too low.

** "He ought to be thrown out for that." Very appropriately strong stuff from Madden on a personal foul by Harrison on a Cardinals punt, even though he says, "I love the guy."

** More good stuff from Madden, he talks about Dockett but he leaves the game. "If I'm coaching, I want Dockett in there."

** Holding call means a safety and a 20-16 game instead of a Holmes catch to get Pittsburgh out of its end zone! Great camera angles on play, including from the ground behind the end zone, and Al speaks for all of us, "Wow!"

** Bills alert! Al says it's the first Super Bowl safety since Bruce Smith slammed Jeff Hostetler.

** Warner to Fitzgerald up the middle for a TOUCHDOWN! Are you kidding me!?!?!!?

** Warner wife shot! She's partying. Larry Sr. shot -- he's not doing much.  Great replays and Michaels voice-overs "and he watches himself go into the end zone on the big screen." Great game, great TV.

* * *


Cardinals 23, Steelers 20, but one more chance for the Steelers ...

** "This would be the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history." Good stuff from Al (or the director in his ear).

** Madden sets up the final drive: "It's funny you go through the whole season and all the stats, and Pittsburgh stats, and when you needed them to play, they didn't do it. And now, Arizona's defense, not a great stat defense this year, but now you need them to play. Are they going to it?"

** An incompletion just before the two-minute warning -- "Aaron Francisco on the coverage." Great time for Al to go with "Francisco, that's fun to say!" but he doesn't.

** We didn't need an ad like this at such a late, tense, important moment. Another lowest-common denominator ad from godaddy.com and Danica, as she joins some buxom witnesses testifying before congress about whether they are "enhanced" or not (the ad actually does very nicely to poke fun at Roger Clemens and his "misremembers" line). Danica, Danica, Danica. You should be better than this. There may have been a time for ads like this, and Maxim photo shoots and such, but if you are a major-league sports star, you don't do this. Ugh.

* * *


Back from the two-minute warning...

** Jeff Reed practicing on a very crowded sideline. The guy is only going to try and tie the Super Bowl up. Can we give him some room?

** Great looks and Madden talk about Ben's big hands bringing down on his initial pass before hitting Santonio Holmes to get inside the 5.

** Touchdown Holmes! Can you remember the days when we didn't have all these camera angles? A definite "wow" on the shots of Holmes catching the ball in the end zone, right down to his toes (although we should have seen the toes-on-the-ground angle more). Great breakdown by Madden about how they went back to Holmes on the second straight play, same play, different corner.

** Heart-breaking replay shot (for Cardinals fans) of Fitzgerald mouthing "no, no, no" and shaking his head while watching the replay on the same big screen he watched himself score on.

* * *


Game over. Wow.

** After a very nice pause, Al sums it up: "I don' t know if you could beat last year's game between the Giants and New England, but this one is in the neighborhood." Later: "It was a classic."

** Madden, too: "When Santonio Holmes had to make the  play, he made it. When Ben Roethlisberger had to make the throw, he made it. They were both perfect."

* * *


Postgame

** Cool shot of Joe Namath bringing the Vince Lombardi trophy up a path lined by Steelers who all want a touch.

** Dan Patrick MC-ing the awards presentation; one minor speaking flub but surprisingly does a solid job of getting out of the way.

** Mike Tomlin gives it up to his players, President Obama and Steeler Nation. Hearing him preach makes you want to play for the guy.

** Andrea Kraemer with Harrison: one good question (about the big runback), one not-so-good question (how does this compare with his first Super Bowl. Dud question, dud answer).

** Good questions from Alex Flanagan and some great responses from Ken Whisenhunt, particularly the last one about how noone believed in the Cardinals.

** Back to the too many cooks: Holmgren doesn't offer much; Dungy does OK, Matt Millen offers "this is what the NFL is all about." This, from a man that knows what the NFL is not all about after being the architect of debacle known as the Detroit Lions. Still not sure how he got the TV gig back. 

** Worst-commercial-of-the-day company Enjon is back with their 16-year-old CEO, who is apparently very good at using his cell phone and talking with an attractive girl from the office.

* * *

Putting the post in postgame.

** "Professional football has evolved into our national pastime," says Al (take that, baseball!). "This is the perfect way to end the season, with a classic Super Bowl."

** Madden: "That was a real super Super Bowl."

** Costas: Kurt Warner now has the three highest-passing Super Bowl games. Wow. Hello, Hall of Fame.

** Flanagan with Warner, and she does a very smooth job asking the retirement question without asking the question: "Is this something that you want to try and make it back to, a Super Bowl?" She gets a good answer, although media-friendly and well-spoken Warner probably would have had a good answer no matter what.

* * *

In the end, you gotta love sports. A live-up-to-the-hype finish that actually just might just justify everything, from the two weeks of coverage to the insane pregame show and maybe even all the bucks put into those ads. Nothing else like the Super Bowl.

Costas gets the last sound bite, and whether it was him or a teleprompter or what, a great postscript

"An incredible Super Bowl 43. Back and forth, with both teams angling for fantastic finishes, with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers finally getting the last word. A picture-perfect winning touchdown pass to the MVP, Santonio Holmes -- there it is -- with 35 seconds to go, and a record sixth Super Bowl title for the Pittsburgh Steelers: Who now rank perhaps as the model franchise in all of American sports." (Take that, Yankees!).

"We've finally reached the end of our Super Bowl broadcast ..."

And we've finally reached the end of this blog. 

---Keith McShea

Rewinding the week

Thank God it's Friday ...

... and thank God the National League Championship Series is over, so we get a temporary reprieve from the Fox pregame show and things like Jeanne Zelasko's circa-1980 red leather jacket. She and Kevin Kennedy have been useless in the minutes before and after games for years.

In other Zelasko news (thanks, google), check out her apology to Tampa Bay Rays fans after calling the team the "Tampa Rays" several times this season (check out the comments below the story -- lest you forget that a city named St. Petersburg and a certain Bay are part of the region).

Fox will be back next week, but help is on the way -- thanks to, of all things, political campaign ads. If there's a Game Six, Obama bumps Zelasko in the pregame. Now that's a game-changer.

• • •

Greatest new commercial featuring football players: LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu going from the womb to the NFL.

Great shots, a great beat and a pretty great message (except for little-kid Polamalu stomping the living room table, I suppose). The ad is a bit bigger at Nike's site.

Most awful new commercial featuring a football player: Brian Urlacher playing down to stereotypes for Old Spice.

• • •

Most bizarre sports-related sight following Wednesday night's presidential debate: During Greta Van Susteren's post-debate show, I could have sworn I saw Mr. Met walking around in the background. Turns out that I did.

• • •

Before Game Three of the NLCS, Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight, ahem, "fame," introduced the Dodger lineup. I'm like, "this is so L.A." But Hart actually was a fan: She was quite visible sitting behind the plate in the bottom corner of my HDTV, yelling and cheering inning after inning. Then she did something very shocking for an L.A. fan: she stayed for the entire game.

• • •

Nice job by TBS, catching Stephen King reading a book in his box seat as Boston fans were bumming during the Red Sox's Game Four loss. Just when I think I'm Mr. Smarty Pants by freezing the screen with my DVR and googling the words I could make out from the cover, Skip Caray spoils my fun by telling everyone that the title is a you-can't-make-this-up "When Will There Be Good News?" (Does the book say the last three innings of Game Five?)

Better job TBS: In the postgame "Inside MLB," the guys had fun with the editing machines, having King reading the latest by noted author (and co-host) Cal Ripken.

• • •

More fun from Inside MLB: As I wrote last week, the show has had some fun with Dennis Eckersley and a certain home run he gave up to Kirk Gibson 10 years ago. In the "Ernie's Neat-O Stat of the Night" after Game Four, they did it again. At least I found a video clip this time (thanks soxanddawgs.com).

• • •

During Josh Brown's game-winning, 49-yard field goal for the Rams against the Redskins at FedEx Field, did anyone notice on replays that the two video screens on each side of the uprights were trying to distract him?

(Check it out at the end of the highlight, which I'd suggest playing with the sound down. Sorry Rich Eisen, you jumped the shark when you jumped off the worldwide leader mothership). The video screen on the left was zooming in-and-out, Wayne's-World style, and the one on the left was a rotating red spiral that came right out of a fun house. Is this legal?

• • •

Speaking of the Rams-Redskins game, it accounted for two of Chris Berman's best lines of ESPN's Blitz:

* After Richie Incognito's mouthing off nearly cost the Rams the game: "When your name is Richie Incognito, you're not supposed to be noticed! You're supposed to be quiet!"

* On the long interception return for a touchdown by the Rams' Oshiomogho Atogwe, Berman filled in some new syllables for a familiar call: "And he ... could ... go ... At ... og ... we!"

• • •

I knew Berman was going to enjoy doing the final play of the Cowboys-Cardinals highlight since Arizona's Sean Morey had the game-winning punt block. I knew this because, while working for the Ithaca Journal, I was in Providence, R.I., covering an Ivy League football game in 1997 when Morey went completely nuts (ok, three touchdowns and 221 receiving yards) for Brown University in a 37-12 rout of visiting Cornell (coached by former University at Buffalo coach Jim Hofher).

Sure enough, proud Brown grad Berman said "Sean Morey," and then set up Blitz-mate Tom Jackson with his familiar leading question "from?" "BROWN UNIVERSITY!" hollered Jackson. Fun stuff.

• • •

From the there's-always-a-Buffalo-connection department:

* When a Redskin was shouting it out on the sideline with Rams coach Jim Haslett, nobody-circles-the-wagons Berman said: "If you remember Jim Haslett as a linebacker for Buffalo, he's not backing down."

* Late in the Chargers' rout of New England during Sunday Night Football, NBC put up the graphic that noted it was the Patriots' largest deficit since their 31-0 loss in the 2003 season opener to Buffalo.

• • •

Late during Sunday Night Football, it seems like the subject matter and verbiage can loosen up a bit.

Al Michaels spoke about the Charger fans' frustration with the officials, especially in the wake of the the Ed Hochuli-gate at Denver, because fans were booing calls late in a game that was already settled.

"They felt like they got screwed," Michaels said. "And this is their way to vent ... and it's partially [because of] the other way you spell boos."

• • •

Someone should get a Web site going to create a database of which NFL players choose not to say their college during the individual introductions on Sunday Night Football, and why.

Ellis Hobbs, who was actually born in Niagara Falls (who knew?), did not say his college alma mater, which is Iowa State. I believe he said his high school, which was DeSoto (Texas). To each their own, but if I'm the Iowa State recruiting/fund-raising department and missing out on valuable exposure, I'm giving Ellis a call.

• • •

One of the best for last. "College Football Final" on ESPN is becoming some Must-See-TV thanks to Lou Holtz's enthusiasm. He thought he got a little carried away last week at the end of a segment called "The Final Verdict" in which Holtz and Mark May debate a topic before judge Rece Davis.

The premise for the segment sounds a little goofy, but it works, especially when Holtz gets so fired up -- in this case, arguing that Florida's Tim Tebow is still the best quarterback in the country.

The segment seemed like it was over, with even Davis taking off his wireless microphone, but Holtz continued to argue his case, prompting an off-camera May to ask "are we doing this again?"

They kept the cameras rolling, thank goodness. Afterwards, Holtz apologized, saying, "I'm glad we're on at 1 o'clock in the morning and all the children are in bed."

Here's the full segment and the short version.

---Keith McShea   

Rewinding Tuesday: Some sporting debate

There were no baseball games on television Tuesday night. ESPN's programming was relegated to Madden (the video game, not the "BOOM!" guy) and poker.

But that didn't mean there wasn't any sports on TV.

"You don’t run the four corners when you’re behind," said Republican media guy Alex Castellanos on CNN, yearning for John McCain to push the ball upcourt after the second presidential debate.

Baseball fans know what happens when a player reaches the base at the same time as the ball. Maybe CNN's Gloria Borger is one of them. In talking about the effect of poll-leading Barack Obama not losing the debate, she said: "Tie goes to the front-runner."

Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews' show is called "Hardball" but he and his guests had boxing on the brain.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman referenced the story of fellow Pittsburgh native Billy Conn; ostensibly (sorry, I flipped over halfway through) because Barack Obama had not gone for a knockout punch late in the debate, as Conn did against Joe Louis.

"In the 13th round when he had him on points," Matthews summarized, "[Conn tried] to take out the Brown Bomber and the Brown Bomber took him out ... you are Pittsburgh until the end, Howard Fineman."

Panelist Pat Buchanan got his gloves up, describing an Obama line (the shot about McCain's "bomb, bomb Iran") as "a solid haymaker punch which really landed."

Later, Matthews called McCain's "not you, Tom" response to moderator Tom Brokaw's question about the selection of a Secretary of the Treasury as a "suckerpunch."

The most bizarre politics/sports collision of the night was a Fox News story about a voter registration fraud probe in Las Vegas. One of the alleged violations was that a canvasser filled out forms not with the names of actual people interested in registering to vote, but with the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys, including Tony Romo and Terrell Owens.

The debate was already being described as not being a "game-changer." That term, which has been very popular throughout the political season, sounds like a sports term but really isn't.

Until now, perhaps?

Man, did you see that Reggie Bush on Monday Night Football? He's a real game-changer.

---Keith McShea

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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