published Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

5-at-10: NFL Power Poll, UT football moves, More than you wanted to know about the McRib and Poor Sportsman of the Year

Hey was that a Chris Johnson sighting last night? Wow, we remember that guy.

Don't forget Friday's mailbag, and from the "Talks too much" studios, let's wrap this Christmas gift.

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    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Denver.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NFL Power Poll

OK, the Atlanta Falcons answered the challenge and the Denver Broncos beat a team of merit. The Falcons are a win away from clinching Dome-field advantage. The Broncos, winners of nine consecutive games, look like the best team in football.

Here's the poll (with Super Bowl odds from

1) Denver (5-to-1): Where does this rank on the comeback scale, this stuff that Peyton Manning's doing with a new set of teammates, a new system and the never fading worries that one awkward hit on his his oft-surgerically repaired neck will end it all? We're having a hard time coming up with a better one. (Side note: As great as Manning has been and as much as he meant to Indy for the better part of 14 years, want to know how many Colts fans are sad how things worked out now that it's apparent that Andrew Luck is Manning 2.0? Yep, zero.)

2) Atlanta (7-to-1): It's easy to go from flop to favorite, as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer shares here The 34-0 spanking of the New York Giants somewhat cleansed the memory of last year's playoff 24-2 beat down the Giants handed the Falcons. Now Atlanta must cleanse its sketchy work in the postseason.

3) Green Bay (15-to-2): As the Packers start to get healthy, they become more and more scary. After clinching the NFC North with a win over Chicago, getting healthy becomes the only goal.

4) New England (19-to-4): Sunday night's roller coaster loss was puzzling at every step. It was strange to watch a Belichick-Brady team fall behind 31-3; it was a blur when they tied it at 31; and after it was tied, everyone thought it was the Pats' to lose. Well, it was and they did. Still, Brady-and-Belichick are still the Super Bowl favorites.

5) San Francisco (9-2): Nice win at New England. Still, of all the teams on the Super Bowl shortlist, the Texans and the 49ers are the only two teams who have quarterbacks that you don't completely trust.


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    Ja'Wuan James plays in the annual Orange and White game in Neyland Stadium.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

UT football moves

The whirlwind that has been the Tennessee football program in the last three weeks keeps spinning.

The coaching staff is complete. Potential all-star tackle Ja'Wuan James is staying. Potential NFL star in waiting receiver Justin Hunter is leaving. There are some recruiting machinations, but until signing day, that's the case everywhere.

Let's look at the two players that made football decisions Monday, as our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown shares with us here

James is an effective player who has been a starter since he first stepped foot in Knoxville. Paired on the opposite side of stud duck left tackle Antonio "Tiny" Richardson, James' return means the Vols have two future NFL tackles around which to build Butch Jones' new offense. And if you think that's not important, well, know this: A new spread/passing attack with an unknown at quarterback and two big-time tackles worked out pretty well for Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M. And yes, there's not a Johnny Football Manziel waiting in the wings to take the baton for Jones and the Vols, but that Texas A&M offense and Johnny Football's Heisman success has been greatly enhanced by the presence of two elite tackles. Tennessee will start with that type of foundation next fall.

As for Hunter, it's not a surprise nor an indictment against the new staff that the 6-foot-4 receiver is declaring for the draft. In fact, Johnny Vols Fans would be wise to plan on Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Bray to join Hunter in the NFL draft pool. And those are the right decisions.

Hey, we love the draft. You know this. And for Hunter, a guy we believe will test very well for NFL scouts, this decision was magnified by the knee injury that ended his 2011 season. Hunter's return this season was far from brilliant, but it was good enough — he still had 73 catches for 1,083 yards — to show he's returned from the injury. And while no future pro athlete wants to have a knee injury on their resume, Hunter could hardly afford to return and risk a second one. Because one knee injury happens — heck Adrian Peterson is making the knee injury look only mildly worse than an extreme ankle sprain — but name a skill player who has had NFL success after two knee surgeries?


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McRib, try Mc 'No Thanks'

If you are a fan of the McRib sammich and want to stay a fan, we're OK with that. It's your body and we're a big believe in personal responsibility.

That said, if you want to be a McRib believe, you have our permission to skip straight to the "This and That" at this time. If you read on, there's a real chance your last McRib will be your last McRib.

And before we get started, we normally avoid stuff like this. We in truth and at its core, do not want to see how the sausage is made. But once we saw these facts about the McRib, we couldn't unsee them, and while we've never had the McRib — something about a sammich being pressed and shaped to look like it has bones in it always troubled us — this secured the fact that we'll be McRib-less forever.

We stumbled on to this report and here are the lowlights for the McRib, which has a cult-like following:

* It was developed in 1979 because of a shortage of chickens that limited the availability of Chicken McNuggets. (Wow, who knew the Chicken McNugget was 33 years old? Well, not all of them are that old. Wait, let's keep going.)

* The McRib is a "restructured meat product" and that's what it's called by its inventors. It starts as pork — and we won't mention the parts of the pig, just that it starts as frozen pork — and then goes through the assembly line to a frozen faux rib back in a process that takes 45 minutes.

* There are 70 ingredients in the McRib patty, including azodicarbonamide, which is a flour-bleaching agent that is frequently used in the making of foamed plastics. Delicious.

* The sammich aside, the McRib is a genius product of flash-and-hide marketing, which created the cult-like following and makes its appearance on McDonald's menus seem special.


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    New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

This and that

— OK, we'll ask: What exactly was the offensive plan for the New York Jets this year? After Monday night's loss eliminated the Jets from the postseason (although their offense had eliminated them from being contenders long ago, and this sadly means we won't have the chance to wager some entertainment against Tony Sparano and Mark Sanchez in the playoffs), what was the goal this year? Develop Sanchez? Bring in Tim Tebow as a piece to do what exactly? What a mess?

— We mentioned this Monday, but now it's official that the Toronto Blue Jays have added NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in a trade with the Mets. And, considering the Orioles made the playoffs last year, the Rays have such a taut, young nucleus, the Yankees are the Yankees and the Jays have now added Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to the rotation and Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to the lineup, the Red Sox are the worst team in the AL East. We blame Booby Valentine.

— Congrats to Jimmy Boeheim for winning his 900th game. That's a lot of sitting and pointing for a long time. And dude has gone through some college hoops talent at Syracuse, dating back to the mid-1980s and Pearl Washington. (Side note: Those old mid-1980s Big East slugfests were great when Georgetown was awesome and St. John's had Chris Mullin in the tightest shorts this side of John Stockton and Syracuse and Jerome Lane and Charles Smith at Pitt. Ah good times. College hoops is a shell of its former self, but that's a topic for another day.)


Today's question

Late into the evening Monday, a few of us were debating the merits of Timmy Horton and the pro-Canadian views of Spy when the dreaded name Gary Bettman appeared.

That got us thinking, if LeBron was the Sportsman of the Year, is Bettman the Poor Sportsman of the Year right?

Who you got in the Poor Sportsman of the Year? Bettman is a contender. So is Lance Armstrong and Roger Goodell.

Discuss, and we're still looking for your favorite Christmas songs for a mailbag question for Friday.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
sportsfan said...

Jay - although the story broke in 2011, the Sandusky trial was conducted in 2012, so put me down for PSU for Poor Sportsman of the Year. As a BBQ snob, there's no way I ever eat que remotely associated with any fast food joint. Low and slow is the only way to cook real BBQ (Wallaces, Williamson Bros, and Melears for starters).

December 18, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

Mid 80's Georgetown with John Thompson Sr, Patrick Ewing, et al was "must see tv" on Saturday afternoons.

Lance for Poor Sportsman.

December 18, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
orangeguy said...

National guys keep pointing to AP's acl recovery in the MVP discussion. And while potentially breaking the all time season rushing record less than a year removed from that is incredible, Peyton Manning's career was supposedly over. Even when the season started there was no zip on the deep ball. As you said he's one hit away from disaster... And his team is one of, if not the best in the league. Peyton's gotta be MVP, right?

No shock on Hunter. Glad Juwuan is coming back. Should be a really good o-line again.

Not sold on Dickey/Johnson/Buehrle. Johnson's a career 2-3 month/season DL guy. Dickey had a great year, won CY, but he's a 4+ era, .500 guy that had one great season. And 2 NL pitchers pitching a full season in the AL for the first time... Yikes.

Poor sportsman is the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm still fuming about the "infield fly" chant during their celebration after the play-in game. And let's give Bud Selig an honorable mention for adding that thing in the first place.

December 18, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.
Walden said...

Yes, the McRib is pretty disgusting. But, I submit to you Mr. Fiver, the McNugget is even more so. I used to work for a certain bank and in my capacity there, I covered the food industry. I once toured a chicken processing plant in South Georgia where the main product was the McNugget. Without going into a lot of detail, suffice it to say that these little golden chunks-o-joy ain't made with a lot of "whole muscle" chicken meat. The content of chicken skin, yes I said chicken skin, in the mix of gloop that ultimately becomes the old McNugget is astonishing. The mix of skin, "meat," and chemicals is blended and bludgeoned into a white, pallid paste in a huge vat, then summarily plooped out onto a conveyor belt in cute little McNugget glooplets. The conveyor belt proceeds to take the nuggets through a tempura batter process, then they are "par-fried" in a vat of burning oil, then flash frozen to be sent out to all the good little girls and boys around the world. Once in the store, they are again dropped in overused grease where the frying becomes complete. Then Americans go on to eat millions of these horrid bits of "food" on an annual basis.

McDonald's is creepy and cultish. Maybe one day I'll enlighten the masses on that subject. I think my Jeremiad on the McNugget is enough for today.


December 18, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

You wanna know how long McDonald's worked on the McGriddle? About 10 years. Friend of mine who owns a slew of McDonald's franchises told me that.

The Indiana-Butler game Saturday was sublime and it was also depressing. It reminded me of how good college basketball can be and has been - and how good it far too often isn't these days.

Barbecue? Sweat's in Soperton. Old South in The Jonquil City. Vandys in Los Boros. The late lamented Brossis in LA. That's Lower Allenhurst for the novices.

December 18, 2012 at 11:03 a.m.
Astropig said...

Walden- Good info there. For those that care, here's how the McRib is made -

Otherwise... I personally think that UT would benefit if Bray goes pro. Not a lot of upside for new coach Butch Jones with a short timer at the wheel. A short timer with a maturity problem. As I see it, Tennessee has five baked in losses in '13 anyway ('Bama, Florida, Georgia,Cackalacky and Oregon) and Bray isn't going to help that much. He's never beaten any of them,so they can certainly lose without him. It's probably better to get the quarterback of the future in there and get them some real time game experience while the noisy fanbase is still lined up behind the new coach. If Bray stays and goes 6-6 or (gulp) 5-7,it would waste the honeymoon by trying to win today and giving the new staff less room for error down the road. Jones has to be aware that the last guy got only three years ,but the wolves were howling after just two. Thats the reality of big money CFB these days.Wish Bray well,tell him he's a VFL and build your team with your players.

December 18, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
Blueoval said...

Jay, I have not heard anything recently about Eric Berry's twin brothers Evan and Elliot Berry. I know they once visited TN and also took a visit to Auburn. Have you heard anything about where they might land?

December 18, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Interesting read about the McRib. Ditto with sportsfan. If I want BBQ, I have my DFW/CHAT mental black book.

No surprises regarding the Vol report. I'm sure this may have been discussed but I'm stil awaiting who gets tapped for what (OC, DC, ST, QBC etc.)

Read where Russ had joined Twitter. Someone please remind him that 150 characters or less does not include @#!%$#@!$%#@!!. I'm just saying.

It's Tuesday and people are still talking about the "local team's" OT against the "Fight'n Bumble Bees" formally of Three Rivers Stadium. We're not in the playoff and we still have New Orleans on Sunday.

Jay- will mail the Rangers coverage + two sports sections that have articles in there about the Texas playoffs. If I'm lucky, I can mail on Wednesday with the last of the mailing goodies. Right now, I am at 50% capasity due to some virus I got this morning (as in 2 AM morning). I'll spare the details regarding the engine flushing but I an't feeling good.

But I still have to come to work D:

December 18, 2012 at 11:45 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

Astropig (and Master G), let me play devil's advocate here for a moment regarding the Vol QB Whose Name I Dare Not Speak, the one with the million dollar arm and 10 cent brain.

I think it is well-known that there was no lovefest or man crushes shared by DD and the QB WNIDNS. What, just what, if he returned to show the Vol Nation what he can do with a coach that he respects and will listen to? What if he wants the Vol Nation to see another side of his maturity besides beer bottle tossing and windshield bashing? Granted, Hunter is gone and Patterson probably too. However, if he can adjust, he can still throw enough accurate passes to win some games.

These are just musings, ungrounded in facts or rumor, but the possible storyline fascinates me.

December 18, 2012 at 11:46 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Sportsfan —

Sandusky is the all-timer. And for every year since that monster started — and every year forward.

And there are few areas that are better to be a snob in than BBQ.

McPell —

No doubt. That was good times.

Orangeguy —

We'll discuss the MVP tomorrow. Or maybe Friday.

And yes, the Vols' O-Line is going to be stocked.

Walden —

Thanks for ending any future McNugget order. EVER.

Spy —

A decade? For the McGridle?

And as great as Butler-IU was, do you know it got whipped in the TV Ratings by the New Mexico Bowl? Swish those onions.

Astropig —

Well-played indeed. Concur from front to back.

Heck, Bray wasn't even a Dooley guy; he was a Kiffin commit. Cut the cord and matriculate the ball down the field.

— 5-at-10

December 18, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
Astropig said...

"What, just what, if he returned to show the Vol Nation what he can do with a coach that he respects and will listen to? "

Valid, well reasoned. But I would posit that even under ideal conditions,Bray can really only have a measureable impact on three games ( Missouri, Auburn and Vanderbilt. Tennessee should beat Austin Peay,Western Kentucky,Kentucky and South Alabama with any serviceable quarterback).That said, Bray's upside is limited. And for the record, I don't believe that Justin Worley is the answer either. I would like to see CBJ build a team the right way and avoid the quick fix guys (remember how Dooley brought in Juco refugee Matt Simms and the results were disastrous.)

But I live in Realville. I know that the pressure is to win and win now.And objectively,Bray might (MIGHT) be the difference between another 5-7 and some minor bowl that would give the illusion of progress. But then the Vols would have to start over with somebody else in the spring of '14.

December 18, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Oval —

Heard something similar that Auburn and UT were the front runners for the Berry twins. Not sure what's up with the coaching turnovers, but we'll investigate and report back.

Run JMC —

Thanks for thinking of us, and we enjoy looking at the DMN.

If Russ is on the Twitter, we're going to have to follow him.

Mr Proctor —

We can see that logic, but if Bray comes back he's going to do it throwing to Pig Howard and Jason Croom in a new system. That's not a recipe for an improvement over his SEC-leading totals this year.

Plus, it's going to be a spread-based system which will magnify Bray's biggest physical shortcoming — his lack of accuracy when throwing on the move.

Plus, if you're Butch, as Astropig points out, if you welcome back a senior, record-setting QB, that rightly or wrongly raises expectations and right now that's not a good thing. And if you change your offense for Bray, how are you preparing for the next run with his replacement? Two sets of reps in practice?

We think your scenario could work with the QB WNYDNS believing he needs to show better judgement and decision making, but the lack of receivers and the offensive change — remember Bray was supremely fond of Chaney, too — make this one a slam dunk.

As for Patterson, dude is top 15 overall on Kiper's big board. He has to go.

— 5-at-10

December 18, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
jgreeson said...

from friend of the show StuckinKent — Three of the last four years, Josh Johnson has pitched 180+ innings. Taking out 2011, when Johnson was injured for most of the year, Johnson has started 92 games. Justin Verlander in that time has started 101 games. That means that Johnson has missed about nine starts during that stretch. That's six weeks off. Yes, he did have the one injury plagued year. But since his Tommy John surgery, he's been reasonably durable.

I owned Johnson on my fantasy baseball team. I loved him, but I did trade him away middle of last year. I thought I could get more in return for him than he was worth to me (I have a loaded pitching staff anyway). But for the Blue Jays? Johnson and Buerhle are the staff aces. Dickey just has to be a number three. They have a few young pitchers to fill in. Throw in Reyes, and the bats that they have up there. Whoa. The Blue Jays are probably not going to win the East, but they sure made a lot of noise this offseason. Hard to say that they didn't win this offseason.

The Blue Jays and Angels won the offseason in the American League. The Dodgers probably won the offseason in the National League. Who else do you think won this offseason?

December 18, 2012 at 2:49 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, there was wildly entertaining up at Signal last night. The refs in reversing calls in conferences each lasting three to five minutes had more meetings than the Warren Commission. Signal down 20 at half came back to take the lead with three minutes left, unfortunately that's where Soddy regained control.

Further, there was a ex-Soddy player looking to be in his twenties sitting front row of the home side passing out advice to players during any play stoppage on his end. When confronted by digital evidence of this one of the refs said this man was a former Soddy player, not a coach. The ref was then asked why this former player went to the locker room with the team?

In the Second Half some enterprising young Eagles fans made it their business to sit all around the "former player" still on the front row yelling when he talked and standing where he stood. The interloper was chased away in the end.

Never seen anything quite like last night's festivities. Gripping!

The Mcrib reminds of a vibram sole slopped over by a ketchup and vinegar concoction. Tastes surprising pleasing. Is "Mickey D's" where you took the staff to lunch yesterday?

December 18, 2012 at 3:33 p.m.
Blueoval said...

Not a surprise about Soddy. When I went to Red Bank and we played at Soddy, some of their fans would throw rocks at us as we entered their stadium. Classy........

December 18, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Blue Oval, were you at Red Bank when John Trundle decked Tim Neighbors out on the floor?

December 18, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.
Blueoval said...

No my last year of '91

December 18, 2012 at 4:44 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Blueovel. We might have cross paths though doubt it. My freshman year at RBHS was in '91.

December 18, 2012 at 5:51 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

Wow, that's some weird, wild stuff. We did not know that.

No, it was not Mickey D's. As it has been for our decade in the 423, we went to Wally's.

Oval —

We were involved in two postgame brawls — in hoops at Paulding County and against Alexander in baseball.

Less than good times in retrospect.

— 5-at-10

December 18, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.
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