Patrick Mahomes. Five years as a starter, five appearances to the AFC title game and now three Super Bowl trips. That's pretty dag-nabbin' impressive. True or false on a Monday, Patty Mahomes is the face of the most impactful and popular thing in American pop culture?
Big 12. Wow, that was impressive. And what Oklahoma did to Alabama was, well, what Alabama has done to pretty much the rest of the SEC to this point.
Tennessee. That said, when the polls are released later today, Tennessee deserves serious consideration to be No. 1 in the country. The Vols posted a double-digit win over a very good Texas crew that may be as skilled offensively as anyone in America. Make no mistake about it, UT's elite defensively, and not just this year. Like historically good at guarding folks and whipped a top-10 Texas team in a game that was not as close as the 82-71 final.
Philadelphia sports fans. Phillies made a magical run and had a great off-season. The Eagles are in the Super Bowl. Heck, the 76ers are really good too. Spy, how are the Flyers this year?
Novak Djokovic. Dude won his 22nd major and his 10th Aussie Open title over the weekend. He cruised by Whosehispants Sissypants. The Joker has now appeared in more Grand Slam finals than anyone and has 22 career major titles, which matches Nadal's all-time mark. As great as the Roger-Rafa feud was, the Joker will leave both in his wake in the GOAT conversations. That said, why is Djokovic's decision not to get vaccinated any part of this story at this point? It's his choice to get COVID-19 vaxxed or not, and he didn't. OK. But his win Sunday is not some grand testament to freedom in my mind. Heck, if we're going to talk and/or write about that part of his narrative, then why aren't more folks asking if he was so staunch about his stance, why did he lie like a preschooler about it?
Greg Olsen. Man, the Fox color analyst was again the best thing in sports broadcasting over the weekend, easily outperforming Tony Romo, who was somewhat awkward during the AFC call, and giving Fox a real discussion behind the scenes. Olsen has become as good or better than anyone doing the NFL this season but Fox has already signed Tom Brady to a several hundred million dollar contract to have the Color Analyst 1 chair when Brady hangs up his helmet. So there's that.
NFL officiating. Maybe it's the stakes, but man Sunday felt like every time we turned around, there was a review, a delay, a missed call or some other malfunction. Heck, in the most enjoyable Sunday on the sports calendar that does not involve a Green Jacket, we had an old-school do-over, we brought in back-up chains to keep using the pre-color-TV version of the caveman-ish way we mark progression and possession in a sport that brings is tens of billions of dollars annually, we had a punt hit a cable but no camera angle to verify it, and more questionable calls against the defenses than we ever seen since maybe Desert Storm.
NBA officials. Man, referees are easy targets, I know. But when the NBA officials union is forced to issue a statement about missing a call on a nationally televised game between the league's two most revered franchises and against one of the sport's two or three best players to ever put on sneakers, well, it's not a good look. And here's the other thing considering the growth of sports betting nationally, the cries of "fixed games" will only get louder, and this is from someone who hates the conspiracy theory explosion.
NFL roster rules. Yes, it was a day that should have been about the Eagles' excellence and the Chiefs' run to replace the Patriots as the team to beat in the NFL. But the two biggest story lines for me were the Keystone Cops routine by the striped shirts and the fact that somehow, someway, the 49ers were seeing if Christian McCaffrey could where the QB helmet with the transmitter in it. OK, again, the NFL is making billions on their billions. Heck, 40-plus million folks watched Sunday's games. But a first-quarter hit on Brock Purdy's throwing shoulder and a concussed Josh Johnson made the NFC title game as dramatic as a Scooby-Doo marathon. So why is it that the Lookouts can have like 12 guys sitting in the bullpen waiting for the call but the 49ers have QB1 (who actually was QB3 to start the year) and QB2 and then bupkis? Heck, if this was the college football playoff semifinals, there would be more QB options than what Kyle Shananhan had. Expand the rosters people. Yesterday.
Golf fans. Man oh man, the LIV-PGA drama as personified by the Patrick Reed-Rory McIlroy feud, would be fun theater if it was a regular occurrence. As it is we will have to cherish moments like Sunday, when Reed was playing his putter off and Rory handled the pressure with a late birdie to beat the American by a shot in Dubai. Again, forget the smack talk between those two. Heck, forget limiting the marketing chances to just a 12-hole "Match" format. We need a full-scale, Ryder Cup-like LIV vs. PGA event and this needs to happen ASAP. Phil and Tiger as playing captains. Rory vs. Reed. JT vs. DJ. Jordan vs. Bryson. Rahm vs. Sergio in an all-Spain square off. Who would not watch this?
Joe Burrow. Look, I love the guy. Wish he was a Falcon to be honest. But he stepped on the big stage and played one of his worst games since his junior year at LSU. Multiple sacks. Multiple picks. And yes, the calls were confusing. But in the end, Joey Franchise had multiple chances in the fourth quarter to be THAT guy and Sunday evening, for the first time I can recall, he wasn't.
Sadness and anger
I wish I was better with words at times like this.
Tyre Nichols was murdered. By cops.
I wish I could sum up the emotions from something like this, especially from the video in which he's calling for his momma.
I can't. Not sure anyone can.
I wish I could put proper perspective on a profession as noble and needed as policing, a profession that 98-plus-% of its members view as a calling more than a career, who are forever tainted by the actions of the wicked among them.
I wish we could have a real conversation about police reform rather than deductions in funding.
I wish the great police leaders I know and call friends like Fred Fletcher and David Roddy were still involved in the fight.
I wish the fight on crime was not the fight against the crime fighters, but it has to be. And it has to be more vigilant and more transparent than ever before.
Mostly, I wish this -- or any of the senseless acts of cruelty, violence and hate like the ones that killed Nichols -- had never happened.
But those are wishes.
So we must act. All of us.
And no, changing or challenging our police procedures is not an endorsement for the nonsensical "defunding" crud.
Heck, they likely need more funding.
But we can't stand idle as this happens. Again and again.
I wish I had better words. Or better ideas.
But wishes are worthless. We need action. And we need it now.
This and that
-- So Stetson Bennett got arrested for public intoxication. Whatever.
-- Nice win Saturday for the Mocs at ETSU. If Jake Stephens is healthy come SoCon tournament time, the Mocs could make some noise in the five-letter months.
-- So the female folks in the 5-at-10 clan are headed back from, wait for it, a trip to South Dakota where they saw Mt. Rushmore. So there's that.
Weekend winners and losers. Go.
Multiple choice Monday goes a little something like this:
On his 93rd birthday, which Gene Hackman movie is the best?
-- "French Connection."
-- "Mississippi Burning."
-- "Royal Tennebaums."
-- Other (and please specify).
And dang, Hackman's got a Duvall-esque kind of Rushmore that is multiple Rushmores deep.
It's a strong day for birthdays, as FDR and Phil Collins share Hackman's Jan. 30 candle-blowing day.
So does Payne Stewart.
Rushmore of sports deaths that shocked/saddened you. Go and enjoy the day.