From the soon to be named studios, let's go.
Excellence before us
It's not that often that a playoff game - or any game for that matter - in any sport features a matchup of two all-timers. That's one of the reasons that the Bird-Magic stuff was so special, it was two of the NBA's best ever meeting in critical games at the height of their powers. Same for Russell-Chamberlain.
In football it's a little different because there's so much more of the team aspect involved. But during the late 1980s, the 49ers-Giants games were an event because it was Montana vs. Taylor. In baseball, we're sure when Aaron or Mays faced Gibson or Ruth vs. Walter Johnson drew similar awe.
When you factor in the playoff factor, those match-ups naturally elevate. So when Tom Brady faces Ray Lewis on Sunday, there's a real argument to be made that this meeting features the best ever at the two most important positions in NFL history.
If Brady leads the Pats to their fourth Super Bowl, he ascends to the top of the charts in the 5-at-10's view. Quarterbacks are judged more than anything by winning, and what other quarterbacks won four Super Bowls: Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. Bradshaw had Swann and Stalworth and the best defense of a generation, and possibly ever; Montana had Rice, a slew of weapons and the best offensive coach in NFL history. Brady, well he has had Wes Welker, a great defensive coach and an assortment of running backs that are the founding partners in the less-than prestigious talent agency Retread, Neverwillbe and Scrub.
As for Lewis, he has been the soul of a defense that has been among the best over the last 15-plus years. Plus, he was the Super Bowl MVP when the Ravens won it all with Trent Dilfer taking snaps. Read that again. Who's a better middle linebacker than Lewis? Singletary? No, and it's not as close as you would like to think. Lambert? Nope. Butkus? No thanks, Lewis is every bit as mean and physical and twice as athletic.
So they take the field Sunday as the anchors for their respective franchises and as possible all-timers at their positions. We'll have our picks Thursday, but heed this advice: Enjoy this match-up because they don't come around very often.
Our UTC football ace John Frierson caught up with former McCallie and UTC star B.J. Coleman (Chattanooga's B.J. Coleman, Tim Benford trying to shine at East-West Shrine Game) as he's preparing for the East-West Shrine game this weekend.
Loved this quote from B.J.: "It's a business trip," Coleman said Saturday. "I'm going to meet a lot of different people, a lot of scouts, and it's going to be exciting. ... It's a big, big, big week."
And he's 100-percent correct. This is the first step in the song and dance that is the NFL draft process, and Coleman is spot-on that this is a BID-ness trip. And if anyone thinks the scouts are not watching all the time - how you lead drills, how you interact with teammates and coaches, how you take direction, pretty much everything - well, they're wrong.
As Frierson told us in this story Coleman's in Florida preparing for this game with some other guys looking to climb the quarterback draft ladder. Some guys like John Brantley and Dan Persa may have more name-recognition than Coleman, but this seems like a group that Coleman can compete with and even grab some attention.
Sure, there aren't the big-name guys like Luck, RG III, Weeden et al.. But there will be no fewer than 10 QBs drafted next April, and if Coleman is going to establish a spot in that top 10, it starts this week.
Business trip, indeed.
College hoops rewind
Three quick observations from a pretty memorable Monday in college hoops.
1) We all know the 5-at-10 is in Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin's corner, and we even said that if he finds a way to get these Vols into the tournament, he's the Coach of the Year in a landslide. But in the paraphrased words of the brilliant Winston Wolfe from "Pulp Fiction" - "Let's not go and hug each other's neck just yet." The Conz mentioned tournament possibilities in this story from our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown (Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin can see Vols in NCAA play), and he structured the claims properly. But let's remember that UT is 8-9 and 1-2 in SEC play. Are they playing better? No doubt about it. Are they are tournament team? Let's not go and hug each other's neck just yet.
2) Quick shoutout to Kansas and Bill Self for looking like the potential NCAA tournament champ the 5-at-10 believes they can be. Kansas steamrolled previously unbeaten Baylor 92-74. We're going to start a new gadget here called the 5-at-10 See-Saw, where we offer a pro and a con on a team, player, movie, whatever, and we do it in back-to-back sentences with no interruption. Here goes:
See (ProKansas): Thomas Robinson is a man and went for 27 points and 14 boards against Baylor. If the season ended today, Robinson would be the player of the year (sorry 9er, he's had a better year than A-Davis).
Saw (ConKansas): This win was at home and there are few home-court advantages as good as Phog Allen Field House. Plus, a team with youthful guards like Kansas is always, Always, ALWAYS going to be better at home.
3) Want to know a reason why SEC football is so much better than every other conference? Ask any SEC fan you know today whether he can name the three best basketball players from their favorite school or the three best football commitments from their school, and we'll bet the majority can do the latter more easily than the former. (All bets are off if you are talking to a UK fan, however.)
This and that
- Alabama hired former Washington Huskies OC Doug Nussmeier as its offensive coordinator. We have a question for some of our new found UoW followers out there: Did Alabama make a good hire? Or better yet, are you upset that Nussmeier is leaving? (Two things here: One Washington coach Steve Sarkisian is a super bright offensive guy, so you know our thoughts on hiring the coordinator of a talented head coach with an impressive offensive or defensive pedigree. Second, we'd give a chunk of our paycheck - with the Mrs. 5-at-10's permission of course - if Nussmeier walked in the news conference and said in his best "Animal House" voice: "Is that a pledge pin... on your UNIFORM?")
- Denver executive John Elway announced that Tim Tebow will enter camp as the starting quarterback. OK, um, thanks. Let's see if we have this right: A Denver team that was the NFL's second worst in 2010 and started 2011 1-4 before turning it over to Tebow and winning seven of their last 11 regular-season games, winning the division and beating the Steelers in a playoff game is going to pledge to Timmy T that he'll get the first snap at camp. Elway's apparently going to go with Tim Tebow over the super-deep Denver QB depth chart of Brady Quinn and Adam Weber. OK, super. Looks as though Elway and the Denver brass have things under control. What's next, Elway's going to announce that milk builds strong bones and teeth? (Did the sarcasm come through in those last few sentences?)
- Happy birthday Muhammad Ali, who turns 70 today. And while the 5-at-10 does not remember your career, we do know that Ali lighting the Olympic torch in Atlanta in 1996 was off the charts on the chill-bump meter, as BIspy noted Monday. Here's TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's view on Ali (Mark Wiedmer: Muhammad Ali also great for civil rights)
We all know that you can't win in the NFL without good quarterback play. It's just that simple. (Granted, you need other parts, too, but it still starts at QB1.)
So, let's look at the 12 quarterbacks that made the NFL playoffs this year:
NFC - Eli Manning (first round, No. 1 overall), Aaron Rodgers (first round), Matt Stafford (first round, No. 1 overall), Alex Smith (first round, No. 1 overall), Matt Ryan (first round, No. 3 overall), Drew Brees (first pick of second round)
AFC - Joe Flacco (first round), Tim Tebow (first round), Ben Roethlisberger (first round), Andy Dalton (third pick of the second round) T.J. Yates (21st pick of the fifth round, No. 152 overall), Tom Brady (the 33rd pick of the sixth round).
Take Yates out of the picture since he is the Texans' third-string QB after injuries downed starter Matt Schaub and back-up Matt Leinart. So every QB in the playoffs was a top 35 overall pick other than Brady.
Brady was picked 199 overall, sandwiched between quarterbacks Spergon Wynn (No. 183 overall) and Todd Husak (No. 202 overall). Heck, current Baylor School assistant football coach Frank Murphy (170th overall to Chicago) was picked ahead of Brady
OK, the 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. But here's our question: Was Tom Brady the greatest draft day steal of all-time?