Merry Christmas gang. Hope it's everything you deserve.
Let's handle some basics.
Rushmore of movies with a number in the title (and we offer this with today's HBO Max release of Wonder Woman: 1984, and if anyone sees this feel free to share your review in the comments below): Well, this one was tough, which calls for categories: comedies — "16 Candles," "Three Amigos," "40-Year-Old Virgin," "48 Hours"; non-comedies — "Rogue One," "Se7en," "Magnificent Seven," Dirty Dozen," "42"; horror — "Friday the 13th," "28 Days Later," and since we're in the Christmas spirit, a special shoutout to "Miracle on 34th Street."
Rushmore of worst Christmas songs: Again, we're going two categories here, the terrible ones I found after some research and the terrible ones we all hear every year. As for the obscure ones I found, well, John Denver's "Daddy, Please Don't Get Drunk on Christmas" which sadly is a real song and down right dreadful, Tiny Tim's "Santa Claus has got the AIDS," which also sadly is a real song and down right dreadful, Bon Jovi singing "Back Door Santa" which at best is a sneak Santa rather that a, well, never mind, and of course AC/DC's "Mistress for Christmas" which makes the somewhat uncomfortable "Baby It's Cold Outside" look like Silent Night. As or the worst ones that get played too much, well, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer is far left; That "Christmas Shoes" nightmare that makes everyone cry, Same Old Aung Syne, which is both creepy and more New Year's than Christmas to being with, and the Jingle Bells by the Jingle Dogs, which narrowly edged the I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and a slew of others.
Rushmore of most important Christmas Tree decorations: The tree topper (more on this in a moment, but for us it's an star and always has been), lights, at least one ornament from your childhood, and at least one ornament your kids made before elementary school. While we are here, the most outlandish ornament on our tree has a backstory. The Mrs. 5-at-10 helped with the crafts in our kids' classes through the years and took photos of all the kids in their class and made angel ornaments with the cut out photos. We have our kids through the years from ages 3 to 10 or so. Well, one year when Madeline Ray was about 4, we were hanging the photo angels and the Mrs. 5-at-10 asked Ray-Ray for a hanger for one of her angel ornaments. Ray-Ray sprinted upstairs and got a clothes hanger from her closet. That angel ornament — bright yellow plastic clothes hanger and all — sits in the middle of our tree every year.
Rushmore of made-for-TV Christmas specials: Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, It's a Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph and Frosty.
NFL picks, give me the Rams plus-2, Miami minus-2.5 at Las Vegas, Cleveland minus-9.5 at the Jets, Colts minus-1.5 at Pittsburgh, and Philly-Dallas over 49.
To the mailbag:
From Big P
Do you really think Brady is the GOAT? That's what's wrong with the media these days! I don't think Brady is in the top 3 and maybe not in the top 5. You need to stick to A2 and general stuff because you're sports opinions are stale.
Big P —
Well, not sure where to begin here, but considering that so many of my anti-A2ers tell me to go back to sports, well, there's harmony in balance I suppose.
Brady is the GOAT like MJ is the GOAT. They are the ones who have combined greatness with the most accomplished résumés of the modern era.
The value of winning for a quarterback is overstated and yet undeniably important.
I loved watching Dan Marino, and he was amazing, and if circumstances were different — and those circumstances were beyond his control — if he had three titles, he's likely a top-five or top-three all-timer. But he'll never be anywhere close to the GOAT conversation, right?
I think Aaron Rodgers is the best I've ever watched throw a football. But I think in terms of skill set and physical talents, Jef George is one of the best I've ever seen too. There has to be some mixture of accomplishment with the praise for the acumen, don't you think Big P?
That said, I loved the back-and-forth this week between Brady and Tony Dungy, who said he thought Peyton was the best ever, admitting his bias considering their time together in Indy.
Yes, Brady's title count certainly owes a tip of the helmet visor to Belichick, but still check out his career numbers to go with the rings. He's easily top-three in the Super Bowl era.
I'm headed back to A2 now. Speaking of which, check out today's offering somewhere on the site.
Question for Jay: what are odds Guarantano ends up reuniting with Butch at Arkansas State? And more power and good luck to that young man. I am so ready for Vols and Mocs BB!
I would suspect pretty good, and considering the launching pad that Arkansas State has been, that is a smart move or Butch to go there and try to rebuild the image. And let's be clear, if Lane Kiffin can reshape his image — never mind Steve Sarkisian who was drinking on the job at USC — then anyone can rework their résumé.
I hope Guarantano finds a place to finish college football on his terms, because the last couple of years have been a disaster.
But I then would offer this potential connection of lily pads. If Jarrett Guarantano goes to Arky State and finds success and finds a way into the league, then think of the QBs who got chewed up by the pressure of playing in Knoxville only to find Sunday success.
Tyler Bray, who was much-maligned before the one season that Kiffin redirected his narrative, is still in the league. So is Nathan Peterman. So there's that.
For the bag: Jay, please elaborate on your former habit of madcap December 24 shopping. Failure to plan? Bargain hunting? Love of crowds?
And, Who's the solo human figure in Kathleen's cool photo?
And, because he's Chas, Bama's in the playoffs and A&M, Gawga, and Florida got New Year's Six bowls, all well deserved. Next three for the SEC (Ole Miss, UK, Auburn) got the Outback, Gator, and Citrus. Are these the next best three bowls? Among the three, how would you rank them? The Wolfpack won twice as many games as the Cats, but Kentucky is favored by 3. Is 12 the most bowls ever for our favorite league? The Music City Bowl payout is slightly higher than the Gator, but isn't the Gator still a more prestigious game? I know it used to be.
I loved Christmas Eve shopping for a slew of reasons. I love Christmas as much as anyone I know. And I love to give money away. Truly.
I'm the guy always reaching for the check. I'm the guy that the cashiers and bag boys at Food City remember because I've been tipping them $5 each since the pandemic started. I'm the guy that has been known to slip a $50 or a $100 into an elderly lady's bag when she's not looking.
It makes me feel good. (And that said, it's one of the reasons I don't want the government in my pocket. I am completely happy to spread my money around on my own. I don't need Bernie's and Kamala's and Nancy's 24-hour handout train.)
And when you had those chances at Christmas, well, it's the best feeling at the best time.
Also, I am forever fearful o someone showing up with a present and I have nothing for them, so there are a couple of wrapped dozens of Titleists, a couple of ribboned bottle of dark liquor and a couple of cards with some cash on hand at all times.
It was never running late as much as planning on being part of the last-minute Christmas rush. That said, Paschall may be the only really good journalist I have ever know that is not a procrastinator who craves the 11th hour pressure. Paschall plans and delivers.
No. 2, that's our son Lee, and Kathleen and the kids went back on Tuesday and got a photo we're sending to folks as a "Welcome 2021" card.
No. 3, the Citrus gets the first choice of those three bowls, depending on which SEC teams are in the Big Six games or whatever they are called.
In truth, considering that in normal years, the bowls try to avoid having the same team in back-to-back years and all the bowl money is pooled and divided among the league, I'm not sure there is much of a difference when it comes to bowl hierarchy.
Does the Heisman go to the best college player or the QB on the best team? If it's the former, Mac has no chance. If it's the latter, he wins. Heisman Trophy voting is a joke. Just ask Peyton.
Sadly, the award has morphed into the 'Best QB on the best team' kind of thing.
Like every award the voters occasionally get bored and decide to look for different things, like the year Peyton lost to Charles Woodson that you referenced.
Because through the whole year, we heard that Peyton shouldn't win it because it was not a 'career-achievement award' but the next year, Ron Dayne won it in the most career-achievement nod in the trophy's history.
I think DeVonta Smith will win it this year, and I know he deserves it to be honest. Yes, Mac Jones has been way better than we expected, but he's not even the All-SEC QB in my mind, and we're going to give him the Heisman?
Nope. Shouldn't work that way, not with the Heisman for sure, since the hollow word of 'Valuable' is not part of the award or the voting process.
Tennessee should not be going anywhere...it is embarrassing to go to a bowl with 3 wins...to even want to go is embarrassing. Where would you rate JP compared to the 3 previous coaches? I am not so sure that he would not be last as a head coach.
Love this question, and I firmly believe in my heart that Lane would have had the Vols in the SEC title game within three years.
And in the NCAA doghouse within five.
So Lane is clearly the best of the last four coaches. Clearly. In fact, I wanted Auburn to move Heaven and humility and go get him from Oxford.One, I think he's a great recruiter. Two, he's a true offensive innovator. Three, he's confident enough — Spurrier-level confidence — to let the defensive guys do their thing while he does his. Unless you can find a Saban or luck into a Swinney, that's the recipe of success.
Because quite simply, it falls into the old adage of "We can accomplish amazing things when no cares who gets the credit."
Ranking the other three UT coaches since, however, is trying to pick your favorite Meryl Streep movies. You can split hairs but you never want to see any of them again.
I think Dooley was possibly better than we thought, Butch was assuredly worse than his record, and Pruitt is aging like buttermilk.
So, since I've never ducked a question before, and I ain't starting on Baby Jesus' birthday, I'll go of the last four, Lane, Butch, Pruitt, Dooley, but guys, I'm open or discussion.
Love your work and really miss Press Row. Are you guys going to be back on the air soon?
My question for you after this weekend, has any athlete had the pre-pressure Charlie Woods has got to make the pros?
Thanks for the kind words and playing along with my silliness.
Not sure when Press Row will return to 105.1, but I am sure I won't be there. I was fired earlier this month for giving an honest assessment of the ESPN new national morning show, which is really bad.
Side note: Did anyone else see that after the bowls, Mike Golic's time with ESPN is up. Dude was every bit as important to his realm and making ESPN radio as guys like Chris Berman or Keith Olbermann, who got multiple swings at the mothership, were to the NFL coverage or SportsCenter. And Golic got tossed like old shoes, never mind the fact that he is a way, Way, WAY better dude than Berman or Olbermann could every aspire to be.
Sad really, if you think about it. And I'll offer this too — I wouldn't want Mike Greenburg watching my back in a foxhole all things considered. Think o the number of folks who have been caught in the wake and have lost their spots at ESPN so the powers that be could get Greenie in an 8-10 TV spot from NYC and a 10-noon radio spot rom NYC.
Hey, Greenie is great at what he does and I enjoy Get Up, but to lose Golic and the LeBatard Show, at least in part because Greenie wants to work from his home city and play golf in the afternoons, well, he must have some very incriminating photographs.
As for the next-gen pressure questions, Charlies Woods' daddy had a TON of pressure on him too. Not many athletes are piping 2-irons on day-time TV at the age of 3.
I think Ken Griffey Jr.'s hype was legendary in his youth.
The stories of current Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses in youth and high school were just as Paul Bunyon-esque.
I also have to believe that Michael Jordan's basketball sons had an impossible mountain to climb.
That said, not sure Charlie has the most pressure of a younger athlete running around these days. Does Charlie have more pressure than young Arch Manning, who already is the No. 1 prospect in the country and as a name every-bit as famous? (And while we're here, how did Andre Agassi and Staff Graf not drop a couple of Wimbledon winners?)
And what about Bron-Bron James, who is also a sophomore in high school and arguably the highest-regarded prep player in the country?
Still, the fact that Charlie has Vegas odds about his professional golf accomplishments more than a decade down the road is pretty amazing.
Merry Christmas friends, and may you be safe and happy and enjoy the meaning of this season.