Former University of Oklahoma standout Adrian Peterson, who is turning heads in his second pro season with the Minnesota Vikings, is featured in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine. His records (including breaking the single-game rushing record as a rookie), his honors (Pro Bowl MVP, rookie of the year, Heisman runner up at 18), and his super physical abilities (able to race 100 meters in 10.6 seconds) have drawn comparison to Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton and Jim Brown. The expectations of Peterson motivate him to be the best.
Peterson: “Believe it or not, some of the same things I did last year on the field I’ve been doing since middle school. I push myself harder. I do extra drills. No matter how tired I am, I make sure I’m first. I got a long way to go, but I figure if I just keep doing the things I have been doing, I should be all right.”
Vikings coach Brad Childress on Peterson: “He’s 100 mph every day. He’s never looking for the break. He’s not looking to hide. We’re always asking him to slow down. Because frankly, the other players can’t got hat hard.”
NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth’s take on the Dallas Cowboys following their loss to Washington: “The Cowboys have to understand who their best players are and it’s not their skill position players. It is that offensive line. And for Marion Barber to only get eight touches, Felix Jones to get zero carries in this game is just a huge mistake. But you just go right down the list of the star players: Jason Campbell outplayed Tony Romo; Clinton Portis outplayed Marion Barber; Santana Moss outplayed T.O.; and everyone outplayed Terrence Newman.”
Jimmy Johnson likes Alabama: Forget OU. Alabama is Jimmy Johnson’s choice for the No. 1 team in college football. “With
Co-host Terry Bradshaw gave his picks last week on the “Fox NFL Sunday” preview show.
Analyst Jimmy Johnson gave his take on Bradshaw’s list: “Drew Brees should be on there and Jay Cutler should be No. 1. He’s the best in the league. He will win.”
As a Dallas Cowboys’ fan, I’m probably biased, but I’d have to rate Tony Romo No. 1. Fox analyst Michael Strahan also was high on Romo. “If you want to say ‘will win,’ it’s Tony Romo. Romo is the best quarterback during the regular season. So if you want to say ‘will win,’ Romo is the one you want.”
No. 1 Ben Roethlisberger (Age 26): “Like Eli, Ben can keep the gameplan going no matter what happens. He can make all of the throws and keeps every play alive. Right now he is playing hurt and it’s no big deal. His record is 41-16, has won five of his seven playoff games and won a ring. At one month shy of 24, Ben became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. He’s my No. 1 and he just so happens to play in my No. 1 town.”
No. 2 Eli Manning (27): “The last three guys are all Riverboat Gamblers, but Eli loves to stay within the design of the offense. In crunch time he has a special rapport with Plaxico Burress. This time last year, Eli would not have made my list but as I’ve said, winning is what counts and Eli won when it counted. And then when it really counted, he performed in stunning fashion.”
No. 3 Tony Romo (28): “This Dallas star is the most electric of the bunch. Romo runs one of the most loaded offenses and the ‘Boys play hard for him. What I love is that nothing seems to faze him. He messes up, no big deal. He’ll come right back with a TD to T.O. He still needs to be the man in the big game, but for 16 games, no one is better.”
No. 4 Philip Rivers (26): “I’ve loved this kid for a while. I watched him back at North Carolina
No. 5 Jay Cutler (25): “This kid is showing me something. I love his physical skills and that arm. Playing last season while not knowing he had diabetes and losing all of that weight, well that’s impressive. Cutler could be No.1 in a couple of years.”
NBC producers say they will focus on Aaron Rodgers and minimize the talk about Brett Favre during its Sunday Night Football broadcast when the Green Bay Packers host the Dallas Cowboys at 7:15 p.m. Sunday. That will be a welcome development. I’ve grown tired of the Brett Favre saga in Packerville. And he’s long gone, after being traded to the New York Jets.
In a conference call, NBC commentators talked about the Cowboys-Packers matchup, which should supply a huge rating for the network.
PRODUCER FRED GAUDELLI: “Aaron Rodgers is such a fresh story. He’s playing such terrific football after two games, and for the most part is unknown in terms of where he’s from, what he’s done and how he got to this point. I don’t see a lot of Brett Favre coming into this telecast unless something happens that automatically says you have to mention his name. But, I don’t think it’s going to be like some of the other telecasts that you’ve seen so far.”
JOHN MADDEN ON RODGERS BEING PREPARED: “This isn’t some backup who’s been there for two or three weeks or six months and coming in and playing. This is a guy that has been there, been in the system for years, and now it’s his chance. And if he really took advantage of that time, it’s going to show. I think it showed on Aaron Rodgers.”
CRIS COLLINSWORTH ON RODGERS PLAYMAKING: “One of the things that has really impressed me is the ability of Aaron Rodgers to play on the move. This is a guy like Brett (Favre) was early on in his career with the ability to scramble, to move, to make plays outside the pocket — he certainly has the ability to make throws in the pocket. I love watching the receivers on this team. I think Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are sensational, Donald Lee very good at the tight end position and James Jones is back. Honestly, I’m not sure Aaron Rodgers family could have predicted what would have happened thus far with this team.”
MADDEN COMPARING RODGERS TO ROMO: “Aaron Rodgers has been everything and more that the Packers could have expected. He throws the ball, he can move in the pocket. He can do all those things that a top quarterback has to do. And Tony Romo is the same way. They remind me of each other.”
MICHAELS ON GOING TO GREEN BAY AND FAVRE NOT BEING THERE: “I think about when you go to Chicago after Michael Jordan leaves, or in hockey the analogy would be when you went to Edmonton after Gretzky got traded to the Los Angeles Kings; Pete Rose leaves Cincinnati and goes to Philadelphia, it’s probably along those lines. When a guy builds up a tremendous currency with one team and becomes so affiliated with that team, it will be very different, but that era’s gone, and the new era is here. There’s so much excitement now in Green Bay, with the way the team has started and the way that Rodgers has started. But sure, it will be different to go in there for the first time since early ’90s not seeing number four.”
Channel flipping on a football weekend:
The lowly Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) are becoming the laughingstock of the NFL. Several analysts took shots at them on Sunday. The L.A. Raiders routed them 23-8 on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
NBC’s Keith Olbermann on a marriage proposal at the L.A. Raiders-Chiefs game: “She said yes I’ll marry you, but I will not go to another Chiefs game with you.”
NFL Network’s Deion Sanders on the Denver Broncos’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 28: “Kansas City is a homecoming game.”
College talk: Fox Sports’ Jimmy Johnson says Ohio State should stick with running quarterback Terrell Pryor, a freshman, following the Buckeyes’ 35-3 loss at No. 1 USC. “Ohio State can win the Big Ten with whichever quarterback they’ve got in there. Terrelle Pryor needs to be the starter now.”
CBS’ Spencer Tillman says Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, is not among his top three candidates for the 2008 award. “Chase Daniels is, Sam Bradford and Knowshon Moreno … Moreno is going to win this going away. Tebow is not in my mix. He is not going to get the number of carries he had last year. Dan Mullen, his offensive coordinator, wants him to carry it 10 times.”
E60 lineup: the next edition of ESPN’s newsmagazine “E:60” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, will feature:
— An all-access story chronicling how high school football helped Parkersburg, Iowa, recover from the devastation of a tornado.
— How the New York Yankees new cathedral of baseball is forcing children from the poorest Congressional district in the U.S. to look for recreation elsewhere.
— A look at how surfing is changing the lives of troubled kids in Santa Barbara County’s barrios; and more.
It makes for an interesting debate. Which is the best college football conference, the SEC or the Big 12. Both have five teams in the top 13 the latest AP college football poll.
Big 12: 3. Oklahoma, 6. Missouri, 8. Texas, 12. Texas Tech, 13. Kansas.
This week, I asked several network analysts for their thoughts on the question. Colin Cowherd, talk show host for ESPN Radio, was the only to pick the Big 12 as the best conference.
Colin Cowherd: I think the Big 12 is the best conference this year. I think the SEC, because they lost some good quarterbacks, has been knocked down a couple of pegs. For the record, I think the Big Ten is going to be better than expected.
Todd Blackledge: I would still say the SEC is the best. I saw it up close for seven years (while at CBS). I think the overall team speed and the strength defensively to go with the speed on offense is what kind of sets them over the top, plus how difficult all the places are to play at. There is no easy venues to play at. This year, the Big 12 is the second best. Team in and team out, I don’t think the defenses are at the same level as the SEC, but offensively, they are very, very explosive. They have some excellent quarterbacks, and offensively, maybe a notch ahead of the SEC right now. The SEC only has two or three returning quarterbacks. It’s more of a defensive-oriented conference.
Spencer Tillman: The SEC is probably the strongest, but I don’t think anyone can refute the strength of the quarterback play of the Big 12 across the board. By far and away as a conference, it has the strongest set of quarterbacks. Period. If you think the college game is very much a coaches’ game and a quarterbacks’ game, then I think you really have to listen and give pause to any notion that the Big 12 isn’t neck-and-neck with the SEC in that regard.
Tim Brando: I agree totally with Spencer. The Big 12 is the only conference out there this year that really offers a legimiate, from top to bottom, a bit of competition to the SEC. I don’t think there is balance in the Pac 10, Big 10 and certainly not in the ACC. The Big East may be balanced, but it’s struggling a little bit out of the gate. The Big 12 might be right on the SEC’s heels largely because of experience at quarterback. You can name a half-dzen guys who might be in the top 25 in passing by midseason this year.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit has a suggestion for his Ohio buddy, Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops: Show the 2006 OU-Oregon tape to his team on Friday night, the night before his Sooners face Washington in a 6:45 p.m. game on ESPN. The Sooners lost 34-33 on several questionable calls by Pac 10 officials.
Herbstreit: “If I’m Bob Stoops, I pull out that videotape from the
Herbstreit, who will call the Ohio State at USC game on Saturday night for ABC, says the Sooners need to avoid letdowns against lesser opponents, which have plagued them in recent years.
“I think for Oklahoma. You go back and look at the last two or three years. You can handpick one game where they’re the superior team, and for whatever reason, they just didn’t show up. I remember the Colorado game last year. Played great for three quarters, and all of sudden, a couple of fumbles on punt returns, and the next thing you know, they end up losing on a last-second field goal to Colorado. Play TCU when they were in seventh in the country, I think it was back in ’05, and lost a home. The challenge I have for Oklahoma is ‘Play each week like it’s your last game. Don’t just wait for the big games. Keep playing like you’re playing.’
Grumpy guys. The “Grumpy Old Coaches” of Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson on “Fox NFL Sunday” were on target for criticizing game officials for their excessive celebration call against University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, costing the Huskies a potential victory over BYU game:
Switzer: “Emotion like this wasn’t ‘look at me’ emotion. It was just excitement!”
Johnson: “You have good coaches, you have bad coaches. You have good officials, you have bad officials. This official is an idiot for making that call!”
Rich Ocho Cinco. After Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco, NFL Network network host Rich Eisen liked the sound of it as he introduced himself on NFL GameDay Sunday. “Along with my GameDay compadres Deion Sanders and Steve Mariucci, I’m Rich Ocho Cinco.”
Can the Dallas Cowboys get over the hump this season. ESPN’s “Sunday Night Countdown” crew gave their views Sunday.
Cris Carter: “I love the talent that they have assembled. They have a very good coaching situation. A great high school coach taught me, ‘It’s not the Xs and Os Cris, it is the Willies and the Joes.’ The Cowboys, we can say what we want, they have as much talent as anyone in the league.”
Tom Jackson: “13 Pro Bowlers, a possible 14 with Pac Man Jones in that lineup, but they went backward last year. So this is not about the talent on the football field. They lost under Bill Parcells, a botched snap by (Tony) Romo. They got beat up by the New York football Giants last year. So, this is about the integrity, the mentality, the way you approach the game. It is not about the players that you have. It is about the way they play at the most important time of the season. I still haven’t seen it yet.”
Keyshawn Johnson: “I like the Dallas Cowboys, I really do. But when you look at it, and I watch it from one end to the next, the coach is Wade Phillips and the coach waiting in the wings is Jason Garrett. To me, that’s the coach … With all that talent in the world, will they go back to last year? Will everybody start to point the finger?”
Mike Ditka: “Another coach on ESPN says, ‘Not so fast.’ Here’s the deal. This is a talented football team. We all know that. What’s going to happen when they get hit on the nose? Are they going to hit back or are they going to bleed? If they don’t hit back, they are going to be ‘also ran.’”
Chris Berman: “If things don’t go well, how will they respond? And to quote another Hall of Fame coach, he was a high school coach once, Marv Levy, he once taught me, I learnt a lot from Marv, ‘I don’t want Pro Bowl players, I want Super Bowl players.’ Maybe they can be both. We’ll see. They haven’t won a playoff game since Emmitt (Smith), and Troy (Aikman), and Michael (Irvin) and the boys were there.”
Looking back at ‘Hail Mary’ game. The 1975 NFC Divisional Playoff, dubbed “The Hail Mary Game” between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings changed the way people talk about the game of football. The NFL Network will replay the game at 8 p.m. Friday as part of its classic games series.
The Cowboys got the ball with only 1:51 left, down by four, on their own 15-yard line. With 24 seconds left in the game, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach threw the 50-yard winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson on a play that is now commonly known as a “Hail Mary” pass. The play was dubbed a “Hail Mary” by Staubach in a postgame interview, the first time that term was used to describe such a play.
At the start of the NFL season, the networks hold conference calls to hype their TV packages. Fox analyst Troy Aikman, a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, recently answered questions about his former team the Cowboys, which open the season in Cleveland at 3:15 p.m. Sunday on Fox. Aikman will call the game with play-by-play announcer Joe Buck.
What are the chances of the Cowboys returning to the Super Bowl?
I think Dallas is the most talented team certainly in the NFC, maybe as talented as any team in the NFL. As the Giants showed midseason last year, going into the last few games of the season, I don’t know of anybody who thought they would do what they would did. … Dallas has got to be able to pull together this collection of talent and play well when it matters most. That’s a hard predicament to get into. I’ve been on those teams. It doesn’t matter what happens right now with the Cowboys, if they go 14-2 and 15-1. They’re judged on what happens in January. To a certain extent, that takes a lot of fun of the four months leading up to January.
Does answering questions about his personal life bother quarterback Tony Romo?
I don’t think so. I would guess that Tony does get tired of maybe answering those questions. People have kind of accepted some of the things he has done lately or the people he’s dating, whether it’s Jessica (Simpson) or whoever it might be. I’ve gotten to know Tony fairly well. He tends to handle most things pretty well. He’s pretty laid back. He’s very intense about the game. I think that’s why he has done some of the things he has done that has brought on all the attention. As he said last year going to Los Cabos (Mexico) before the playoff game, that he doesn’t worry about perception, he just lives his life. I think he was being very honest with that comment.
What effect will rookie running back Felix Jones have on the Cowboys, especially with injuries at wide receiver?
I don’t think Felix Jones’ contribution early on in the season will be dictated by what is going on at the wide receiver positions. He’ll be involved in some of the return game. He’ll be involved some as a guy who is comes in and spells Marion Barber, but I wouldn’t anticipate that he’ll be used a lot on third downs, It’s hard for a young running back, predominantly because of the blocking responsibilities. Most highly touted running backs coming out of college didn’t do a lot of that at the college level. The wide receiver postion for Dallas I don’t think that’s going to a big issue, at least early in the season, because they have a guy like (tight end) Jason Witten. They are able to use him in ways that a lot of teams use their third wide receiver. You’ve got Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten and then Marion Barber as well. It’s a pretty formidable group for any defense to try to cover.