published Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

5-at-10: NFC preview, college football crazy, a Rushmore of the best hitters in 25 years and Myra Fleener

From the "Talks too much" studios, make it a good one Strap.

NFL preview, part I

The NFL starts tomorrow night.

CUH-razy, no?

We spend more of our time following the college game. Hey, it's who we are, what we do and where we live.

That said, we're fans of the NFL. The game is excellent — and will be until the safety rules force us to play a two-hand touch/flag football hybrid in which every team must somehow fill a highlight video with big hits and keep the quarterback clean and upright throughout.

So let's breakdown the NFC today, going through the playoff teams, the award candidates and those with a legitimate chance at making a run to NYC for the coldest Super Bowl ever. Giddy-up

The NFC has flipped the script. Now the power in the conference — and the entire (cue Jaws) NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE — is the NFC West. Seattle and San Francisco are among the top-five Super Bowl contenders in the league. The Cardinals are better. The Rams have Jeff Fisher's mustache. Everyone has something on which to build.

We grew up a Falcons fan, but it's hard to feel confident about this Falcons team. If these Falcons were a car, they would have a lot of shiny new parts and an awesome radio/CD player and a DVD player in the back of each head rest. It would be cool to look at. But the engine would be like a V-2, held together with duct tape and bubble gum. The defensive front seven is littered with questions. The offensive line was flat-out bad in the preseason and still is looking for a replacement for Eric Johnson, who will miss the season with a broken leg. We want to believe in these Falcons, who have the best collection of skilled players in the (cue Jaws) NATIONAL Football League. Yes, the preseason means as much as spring scrimmage, but... (there's always a but), only three Super Bowl teams — 2000 Giants, 1990 Bills and 1982 Redskins — had winless preseasons.

Here is our best guess for the NFC playoff shakedown:

1) Seattle — We like Russell Wilson better than we like Colin "Humpty" Kaepernick

2) New Orleans — The Saints have a collective chip on their shoulder that serves as a kindred motivator and bodes for special things in professional sports.

3) Green Bay — The Packers have not had a 100-yard rusher in almost three years. Eddie Lacy will change that this month.

4) Dallas — The pieces click this year for Jerry Jones and Co. Behind Atlanta, the Cowboys have the best collection of skilled players in the league.

5) San Francisco — The 49ers could have the second-best record in the conference and have to start the playoffs on the road. Did you know the 49ers already stout defense added safety Eric Reid, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Wow.

6) Atlanta — The passing game is elite. The rest of the team is filled with questions. After starting 8-0 last year, the Falcons were mighty pedestrian.

  • photo
    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) works before the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Pouya Dianat)

NFC player of the year: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay quarterback

NFC defensive player of the year: NaVorro Bowman, San Fran linebacker

NFC coach of the year: Pete Carroll, Seattle.

Feel free to weigh in.

————

Speaking of college football...

It's here. It's happening. We will have some sort of college football presence almost every day. Who are we kidding — we will have one every day. It's here.

Here's a quick recap of the excellent college football coverage in today's TFP:

Ace columnist Mark Wiedmer details the emotional roller coaster for the Mocs since the Thursday Night Fall here.

  • photo
    University of Tennessee linebackers A.J. Johnson (45) and linebacker Curt Maggitt (56) run during a drill at Haslam Field in this file photo.

Ace UT beat writer Patrick Brown talks about the Vols want to play faster here http://timesfreepress.com/news/2013/sep/04/fast-vols-aiming-to-accelerate-on-offense/?sports. And as Les Miles as tried to repeatedly tell us, good players with the want to be good players really can be good players.

SEC ace David Paschall walks us through Georgia's receiving rotation here and Auburn's new speed back here.

Add to that Johnny Frierson's two stories and notebooks from Knoxville and Athens and an inside SEC column from the sports editor and there were nine locally generated college football stories in today's TFP.

Two other college football stories worth mentioning:

The new AP poll was released and Clemson moved to No. 4. The Tigers deserved it, too, after beating Georgia in the opening weekend's best game. That said, the polls will be very critical this year, especially the Harris Poll when it gets released in a few weeks. Since there are only two teams in the BCS title mix, the top two spots are paramount. And since there figures to be multiple unbeaten teams this year, keeping a reservation among the top two is paramount. Case in point: Ohio State was passed by Oregon for the No. 2 spot. This will only magnify margin of victory in a perception sense for voters across the country.

The other was sad/hilarious story about the Georgia fan calling into an Atlanta sports talk radio station and breaking down in tears. Some of you guys mentioned it yesterday, but here's the clip.

Here's a good rule of thumb for those of us who care a touch too much about college football. Do not communicate — be it phone or electronically — after a long Game Day filled with cocktails. If you need to make a call, make it to family. And avoid the social media at all costs.

Today's message was brought to you by Bud Light, the first and almost only choice of fine pilsner for the 5-at-10.

(And if you think we're going to make fun of the Notre Dame souvenir cups that had "Figthing Irish" on them, well, you are wayoff base. Not unlike the golf Gods, which are quickly and vengeful when you laugh at someone else, the Spelling Gods can be harsh. And Carma can be a mother.)

————

Baseball

We have always believed that you start paying attention to baseball in the 'er' months. September, October, you get the idea.

Well we're here. And here's what we believe:

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis folows through with a home run in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Dodgers are locked and loaded. The Braves are tougher than a 50-cent pork chop. The Tigers are built for the playoffs.

We also believe we agree with Joe Girardi about asking Mariano Rivera about coming back for one more season.

We believe that the Pirates' ascent is great for the game. (And the Angels' implosion also is a good lesson for the "free-agency spending spree" owners.)

We believe that Miguel Cabrera has earned a place with Tony Gwynn, Albert Pujols and Frank Thomas on the Rushmore of the game's best hitters in the last 25 years — non-steroid division. Discuss.

————

This and that

— Watched Hoosiers (again) last night, and it dawned on us: Is there a more awesome movie with a worse single scene than Coach Dale and Myra Fleener's kiss? Brutal. Leave the ball, will you George?

— Bloomberg News reported that the two largest growing restaurant chains are Firehouse Subs and Jimmy Johns. Each of those is taking a swing at the $5 footlong empire that is Subway. Take that Jared. Which sandwich shop do you prefer? (We think Jimmy Johns is top shelf, by the way.)

— It looks like truth and justice may actually catch Lance Armstrong. A Texas judge is close to ordering Lance to take the stand as one of his former insurance companies is suing Armstrong for fraud.

————

Today's question(s)

Feel free to swing at any of the above topics — from NFC picks to the Rushmore of hitters of the last 25 years.

Also, there is the matter of Myra Fleener... Is she the biggest wet blanket in sports movie history?

Also, if you got to punch one person in any sports movie, who are you taking a swing at?

Let's go to Kiper's draft board on punchable sports movie characters:

1) Roy Turner, Yankees manager in Bad News Bears

2) The Cobra Kai dojo leader guy

3) Clubber Lang, who may be higher since he made a pass at Adrian and killed Mick

4) Myra Fleener in Hoosiers

5) The woman that shoots Roy Hobbs, who is played by Myra Fleener from Hooisers.

Discuss.

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 ...

24
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.
MocTastic said...

How about Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman as portrayed in the movie 42? He deserved having the crap beat out of him.

September 4, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.
chas9 said...

I think you got The Cowboys too high and The Falcs one or two spots too low, but I too follow the college game more.

I'd punch the guard with the sunglasses in Cool Hand Luke. Yes, boiled egg eating is a sport.

September 4, 2013 at 10:12 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Sad to report, we have yet to see 42. Does that mean we need to move out of Chattanooga? (We do not not own a VW either — Chevy and a Ford... USA, USA, USA.)

9er —

We believe the Falcons will win 11 games. We believe the Saints will win more. And if you got Mark Ingram in your fantasy league, congrats.

The Cowboys may be a hunch/heart pick. So it goes.

And who ever doubted that hard-boiled egg eating is a sport?

September 4, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JG, after posting that went and read up on Chapman...apparently the movie 42 was spot on with the character...he was quite the racist and anti-semite. 42 is a very good baseball movie in just terms of baseball. If you get the chance get somebody over at Engel Stadium to give you a tour after seeing the movie...there are still stuff left there from the filming.

With respect to VW and USA...aren't they made in Chattanooga and Chattanooga is in the USA last I heard. Many Chevy's and Fords are made in Canada and Mexico, which aren't in the USA last I also heard. :)

September 4, 2013 at 10:22 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Been meaning to catch 42, but the 5-at-10s are back-watching all the Breaking Bad episodes and that has consumed our downtime as it is.

And that's a fair point about the locale where each is made. And one that could generate a fair debate about if buying a Nissan or VW made in Tennessee with the majority of the profits going overseas is buying more of a USA product than a Chevy built in Mexico with the majority of the profits staying here.

September 4, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

"Here's a good rule of thumb for those of us who care a touch too much about college football. Do not communicate — be it phone or electronically — after a long Game Day filled with cocktails. If you need to make a call, make it to family. And avoid the social media at all costs"

Or just do what I did that Thursday. Turn off your phone for at least 24 hours, and stay off Facebook and Twitter.

Big D may have "skilled" players, but it won't matter if they miss reads or forget fundimentals taught in middle school.

Speaking of Big D, those follow-up clippings should be hitt'n the TFP mailbox any day now.

Not a fan of JJ's. The CEO is a prick and the sandwhiches aren't that tasty. I do like Firehouse with Subway a close second. While it is interesting that JJ's is gaining a bigger foothold in the Chat-town market, it's not my personal cup of tea.

Hadn't seen 42 yet either. Wanted to get a Chat-town made Passat but can't afford one at my current income. Though my 2013 Kia Rio is more then sufficient. ^^

September 4, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.
TNBuck said...

Late from last week, but since Clubber Lang is brought up this week, he has one of my top underrated quotes of all time. After being asked his prediction before fight number one, he resondes, "Prediction?...PAAAIIIINNNNN!" It's bone chilling.

I might take my swing at the folks trying tyring to forclose on the Field of Dreams. Speaking of Field of Dreams, it has another of my favorite quotes, "Yeah, Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us liked the SOB when he was alive so we told him to STICK ITT (cackle, cackle, cackle)."

September 4, 2013 at 10:48 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Another new sub franchise to try is Which Wich. We have several here in Huntsville and I am liking them since I can get feta on my sandwiches. Like Firehouse also, never tried Jimmy Johns.

September 4, 2013 at 11 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JMC —

Fair point about the Cowboys' indifference to fundamentals.

And we got the package this morning and looked through it. Interesting how the Dallas media is making a big part of the Johnny Football flap more about the NCAA than Johnny Football being a punk. (In truth, each has a lot to do with this entire episode.)

TNBuck —

Also, and underrated quote in Rocky III — when he goes to LA to train and he gets in the pool and Apollo asks, "Can he swim?" and Paulie deadpans, "With a name like Rock?"

Is this heaven? No it's Chattanooga.

That said, and while we love Field of Dreams, how did the folks that made that movie let Ray Liotta/Shoeless Joe hit right-handed in the movie? C'mon man.

MT —

Do you know of a Which Wich in the 423? We're always up for a new sammich shop.

Side note: Blimpie's is underrated, too.

September 4, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.
Stewwie said...

I thought of 5 sub shops off the top of my head and ranked them. They are (in order): Quiznos, Subway, Blimpie, Jimmy Johns, Firehouse. I asked Mrs. Stewwie to do the same thing and she said: Blimpie, Subway, Quiznos, Firehouse, Jimmy Johns. JJs doesn't do it for us, I guess, but I'm not opposed to eating there. One thing I've noticed though is that people who like JJs, REALLY LIKE JJs. And what has happened to the Quiznos and Blimpies in our town? Those places are good but you can't find any of them anymore.

Mrs. Stewwie and I saw 42 a few weeks back. I thought the movie did well telling the story with more of a general "overcoming adversity" vibe than just being a sports movie about racism. The racial element is there of course, but I didn't think they exploited it unfairly.

September 4, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

JG-

There are no Which-Wich's in the 423 (Not yet anyway). We have them all over Dallas and their corporate headquarters just relocated here. I love the 423 but I also know when it comes to franchises, we're usually at the "bottom rung".

I promise you I will be doing double backflips when and if "Freebirds" ever opens shop back home (was surprised to even read Einstein Bros Bagals was coming to the 423 many months back).

Your observation is right regarding Johnny "Ewing". Unfortunately, I don't write the columns, I just mail them to you. Glad you're enjoying them.

September 4, 2013 at 11:32 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JG, apparently none in Chattanooga area, bunch in Nashville area. If you ever find yourself in Huntsville, will treat, maybe they will move to the 423 soon.

Jimmy Johns has a different context down here, he was a Univ of Alabama football player who got busted for drugs and went to prison a few years back. We are just getting the JJ's subshops in the area, you sorta get a puzzled look when mentioning them, people think of the football player.

We are soon getting Einstein Brothers Bagels also...how do they compare with Brueggers if yall are aware of them?

September 4, 2013 at 11:36 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

The Blimpie in St Elmo [in the Bi Lo strip center] is very good. I wish there was one out my way. Not a chain, but Ankar's is hard to beat. Best onion rings in town.

Billy-In-Brainerd

September 4, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Stewwie-

Blimpies was popular for a time but wasn't cutting the bottom line as far the "fickleness" that is the 423 palite. They're not completely gone, but you have to look in order to locate them. Same with Quiznos I'm afraid.

I miss the fact Schlotzsky's couldn't make it in the 423. Because they were founded and HQed in San Antonio they all but thrive here in Texas. I've seen four new ones get built since my move in 2007. I was a student at UTC when they had the downtown one next to the Tivoil. Good times.

September 4, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Not a good run for Barbara Hershey, no.

Timothy Busfield's character in Field of Dreams was punch worthy, until about the last five minutes.

I know something amiss when you said blimpie's was underrated, 5. To wit: Eddie Lacy will not get 100 yards rushing in a game. You see the last preseason game? He had a rushing total like a winter's day in Green Bay. Minus-5. Pack has a great QB but the O line is o-ful.

New Orleans? Too many questions on defense.

Seattle? Strong pick. Good QB, terrific RB, solid D.

Atlanta? Great O. Can't be worse on pass rush than they were last year on D.

Dallas? Really? That is the heart talking. This a team led by Tony Romo. Did you ever think about that?

San Francisco? Trying not to channel Sid Dithers, I will say Asomugha has seen better days as a corner.

I ain't go no problem with the other picks. And nice touch with Carma.

September 4, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Huntsville has Schlotzkys and Jersey Mike franchises. They do quite well it appears.

September 4, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Spy-

Word regarding Da Boys. And the scary part is he's the highest paid player in franchise history. Meanwhile BJ will probably be heading North of the Border or playing for the Iowa City Barnstormers (that's not a complement).

MT- Huntsville and Chattanooga are two different markets. But glad to read about success whenever it appears. I was shocked when Birmingham received their first Whataburger. Now they have five to date. O_O;; Will probably hit Huntsville before too long.

September 4, 2013 at 2:21 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Schlotzky's and Jersey Mike's are fine establishments. I have not sampled the wares of Jimmy John's or Firehouse but I may one day.

But my first love is Baldino's. And it is the king of rock. There is none higher.

September 4, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

The hair-on-fire contingent within the college football fraternity would be well suited to heed the rules for post-game communications listed in this column. I will add one more: If you call for the firing of a head coach following a loss, you must have a backup plan ready to go. You can't just leave the question of who will replace said ball coach hanging in the breeze like Weepy McGoofball did Saturday night. Say something. He should have thrown out a scenario in which UGA lures Saban away from Bama. Five-million signing bonus. Ten-million per year, with incentives. Fifty-one percent share in Coca-Cola. And we'll pay for the surgery so Nick can have his femurs elongated and shins extended, he'll be 6'8" by the time we're done with him. In rare instances, talking out of one's ass is preferable to not saying anything.

Speaking of things out of one's rear-end, did you see where that lady in Bull's Gap was hospitalized after removing $5,000 from her posterior? It's not sports related, but now we know where the phrase "money out the wazoo" comes from.

And speaking of punchable movie characters, didn't that same blonde kid from Cobra Kai play some kind or another of detestable prick in about half the movies that came out during the 1980s?

September 4, 2013 at 3:06 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Grateful Dawg,

He was on the Grand Lakes University swim team in "Back to School" and came up with an "ankle" injury before Thornton Melon pulled off ... The Triple Lindy.

September 4, 2013 at 3:10 p.m.
jgreeson said...

GD —

Great post.

And the first question you should ask if you think you want your coach axed is, "Who are we going to get that is better?"

And yes, the blonde kid from Karate Kid was the same blonde guy to Thornton Melon's kid in Back to School.

Spy —

Baldino's does fine work. As does Steverino's in Athens.

Good sammich debate. We're hungry, steak-and-cheese us.

Ankars was a great call earlier, too.

As far as Chattanooga-specific, River Street Deli is pricey but it's pretty dang excellent.

September 4, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

And little Danny Struggla is hitting .184 now. He is 3-for-20 with no extra base hits since his return. Seriously, the Braves have to do something about this, as in, tell him the game starts at 8 but it's really at noon so when he gets there, everybody is already gone.

As it stands, there are some outs in the Braves lineup. And a good pitching staff (I'm looking at you, Dodgers. And you, Cardinals) will expose that come October. He can hit home runs. But right now, he isn't hitting anything. A 15-game cushion, you can get by with that. A short series ... different story.

September 4, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Dang it, 5, I do miss me some River Street Deli.

September 4, 2013 at 3:25 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

best non-steroid hitters of the last 25 years ... I'd have to look hard at Ichiro and Wade Boggs. And some redneck from Deland named Larry Jr., maybe even a little Griffey Jr.

September 4, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.
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