Okay, I exaggerate. The kicker for the Pittsburgh Steeelers did not score every single point in their statement victory over the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday.
And he didn’t score every point in a game that extended the Bengals’ streak of not winning a playoff game in nearly a decade – by eliminating the Bungles from the playoffs this year.
No, but Chris Boswell – a second-year kicker from Rice University – was responsible for six successful field goals. Six of ’em. Boswell hit from 45 yards in the first quarter, then two 49-yard FG’s in the second, added a 40 and another 49 yarder in the third, then tapped in a 30-yard shot – 18 points by field goal. That’s the most field goals hit by a Steelers kicker in a single game since 1988, when Gary Anderson popped six FG’s through the uprights in a win over Denver.
And when Pittsburgh’s quarterback threaded the needle to a touchdown pass to Eli Rogers, boom the Steelers were in the lead, thanks to those six field goals by Chris Boswell.
But Boswell didn’t just help the Steelers with his kicking foot. He also helped on defense.
Yes. A kicker helped on defense. So all of you who think kickers aren’t football players, listen up.
There’s five minutes left in the second quarter, and the Cincinnati Fumbles are up 17-3 and are receiving the kickoff. Boswell boots it to Alex Erickson, who finds a lane and is running through Steelers defenders like he’s Jean-Claude Killy on the slalom. All he’s got to beat is the kicker and it’s another six points for Cincinnati.
At the last second, Boswell gets his hand on Erickson’s right foot, and Erickson goes down like ski jumper Binko Vogataj on the Wide World of Sports intro. Boswell prevents a kick-six.
Alex Erickson thought he was taking this to the house…
And one of Boswell’s successful field goals – came thanks to some boneheaded moves by Cincinnati’s resident bonehead, Vontaze Burfict.
Ah, yes. Vontaze Burfict, the fonebone who seems to make it his life mission to cheap-shot any Pittsburgh Steeler he can get his meathooks on. Example. Pittsburgh’s quarterback does an end-reverse to Sammie Coates, who helps Pittsburgh get a first down. While that’s going on, Burfict gets a hold of the quarterback and slams him to the ground. Unnecessary roughness. Surprisingly, Burfict didn’t do what he normally does and try to stomp his cleats into the Steeler player, or dive into him to create another concussion. But what Perfect Burfict did do was give Pittsburgh another 15 yards – and allow Boswell to hit another field goal. Thanks, Vontaze. Oh, and now that the Dingles are out of the playoffs, I’m sure you can do what Cincinnati does every year in January… find an open golf course. 😀
So yeah, maybe it wasn’t the greatest Pittsburgh Steelers win. Maybe it was bowling-shoe ugly. But it’s a win. A win that all but mathematically secures the Steelers a playoff berth. And with a healthy quarterback, along with a speedy Le’Veon Bell, a scintillating Antonio Brown, and this week’s scoring machine Chris Boswell… that seventh Steelers Super Bowl championship is looking more and more likely.
So last night, I watched the Pittsburgh Steelers completely dismantle the Washington Redskins 38-16. After that exciting game was a veritable snoozefest match, as the San Francisco 49ers pulverized the Los Angeles Rams 28-0.
About the only exciting thing about that late-night matchup occurred during the fourth quarter, with the 49ers up 21-0, a red-shirted idiot sprinted onto the field. As is customary for network television covering sporting events, the cameras immediately photographed something else rather than give this clown any more than the allotted 15 seconds of fame.
That being said, though… the radio call of this idiot running around the football field like he thought he was the second coming of Jerry Rice is epic. Kevin Harlan called the game for Westwood One Radio, and when you’re a radio broadcaster, you tell the fans EVERYTHING that’s going on at the stadium. They can’t see it, it’s the broadcaster’s duties to help the fans see in their minds what’s happening.
So while most people were watching the Monday Night Football game on TV, radio audiences heard broadcaster Kevin Harlan give an awesome play-by-play coverage of a clown who ran onto the gridiron and was eventually tackled by security and hauled away. Listen to this clip. Harlan’s call is ten levels of awesome.
If you don’t have time to hear the full call, here’s a transcript.
“Hey, somebody has run onto the field! Some goofball in a hat and a red shirt, now he takes off the shirt! He’s running down the middle, by the 50! He’s at the 30! He’s bare-chested, banging his chest – and he runs the opposite way! He runs to the 50! He runs to the 40! The guy is drunk! But there he goes! The 20! They’re chasing him! They’re not going to get him! Waving his arms, bare chested, somebody stop that man! They tackle him at the 40-yard line!! That was the most exciting thing to happen tonight! … Look at the police, they’ve surrounded this man like he’s – like he’s just robbed a bank! … I hope it was worth it, my friend, because you’ve got a night in the clink coming up!”
Ha ha ha ha ha!
Surprisingly, this wasn’t the only “idiot” to try to crash through prime-time television on a live broadcast from California.
Maybe he was buddy-buddy with those two track stars who tried to bum-rush Ryan Lochte on Dancing With The Stars last night.
Last year, the New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul blew up his hand in a fireworks accident. The hand was severely damaged, and one of his fingers was amputated.
That being said, coverage of the fireworks accident and whether Pierre-Paul would suffer any significant career-threatening or career-ending damage to his hand was the talk of the sports media world. A few days after the accident, ESPN’s Adam Schefter was able to get a screenshot of the hospital records regarding Pierre-Paul’s surgery and amputation. He later tweeted a photo of the records.
ESPN obtained medical charts that show Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul had right index finger amputated today. pic.twitter.com/VI5cbS1uCw
But here’s the problem. Neither Adam Schefter nor ESPN had the right to provide that information to the public without the expressed consent of Jason Pierre-Paul. In other words, Schefter and/or ESPN and/or the hospital workers who provided that information to Schefter and/or ESPN, all may have violated Jason Pierre-Paul’s privacy rights under HIPAA.
If you haven’t heard of HIPAA, it’s the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which basically states that a person’s medical records are to be kept private. In other words, whatever you’re in the hospital for is your own business, and not to be reported to your employer or your insurance provider or to the media or whatnot without your permission.
Deadspin also reported that the two hospital employees who allowed Schefter to take a picture of the medical form have been fired from their jobs, and the hospital has also settled a separate lawsuit filed against it.
There are two arguments here. One is that because Jason Pierre-Paul is a public figure, a professional football player, that this is newsworthy and the reporter was just trying to do his job. The other argument is that Jason Pierre-Paul was in the hospital and should be allowed his privacy regarding any medical procedure, diagnosis or result.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Comments below.
They are symbols of achieving the highest and most difficult accolade in American professional football. And after battling through the regular season and defeating your opponents in the playoffs, you take victory in the most-watched televised sporting event in the world. You become a Super Bowl champion.
And in doing so, you eventually receive a beautiful, ornate championship ring. The ring is coated in gold and diamonds and team iconography. They are custom-built and custom-sized.
And if you couldn’t throw a pass to save your life, or if your 40-yard running speed was last clocked with a sundial, you could still own a Super Bowl ring.
You would have to outbid other collectors, but yes… you could do it.
In fact, this upcoming auction features the opportunity to acquire a Super Bowl ring from the very first Super Bowl ever played.
On February 20th, Heritage Auctions will offer for bid the 1967 Championship ring awarded to offensive lineman Jerry Kramer following the Green Bay Packers’ win in the 1967 Super Bowl, otherwise known as the initial game between the National Football League champion Green Bay Packers and the rival American Football League champion Kansas City Chiefs (Green Bay won 35-10). The championship ring is the centerpiece of Jerry Kramer’s personal career collection, and is one of several pieces of championship jewelry the lineman has earned over his career – jewelry that will also be part of Heritage Auction’s February 20th show. The online bidding site LiveAuctioneers.com will allow bidders worldwide to participate in this auction through absentee and Internet live bidding, including through mobile devices.
Super Bowl rings can sell for upwards of six figures, and are the most highly prized of all championship jewelry. Here are 6 Super Bowl rings whose auction prices made headlines:
William “Refrigerator” Perry – 2015 – $203,150
Every Super Bowl player wants to “put a ring on it,” but not all fingers were created equal. Sometimes it costs the NFL just a bit more to spring for a World Championship ring. In 1985, the jewelers appointed by the NFL had to supersize the Super Bowl XX ring awarded to mighty Chicago Bears tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry.
Reportedly, there wasn’t even a jeweler’s device capable of producing an accurate measurement of the Fridge’s ring finger, but the estimate was an unbelievable size 25. It was the largest Super Bowl Championship ring ever made.
Perry parted with his ring at some point, and it changed ownership multiple times after that. Most recently it was in the spotlight at Heritage’s July 30, 2015 auction. An individual who bid online through LiveAuctioneers.com claimed the gridiron super-prize for $203,150 (inclusive of buyer’s premium).
“It ended up being one of the top ten most expensive items sold last year through LiveAuctioneers,” said the Internet auction company’s VP Product & Marketing Phil Michaelson. “Our systems can predict the optimal selling price for auction items, so we knew the ring was going to go through the roof.”
Steve Wright – 2011 – $73,409
Super Bowl Championship rings typically command five and six figures at auction.
In 2011, Grey Flannel Auctions of Westhampton, N.Y., sold Steve Wright’s 1966 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Championship ring for $73,409. Wright, an offensive tackle, played for five teams in his ten-year NFL career; he earned this ring with the Packers in the first Super Bowl.
“That ring was destined for success. The provenance was impeccable,” said Grey Flannel’s president, Richard E. Russek. “To our knowledge, it was the first ring from Super Bowl I that had ever been offered at auction, but on top of that, it came directly from Steve Wright, who signed a letter of authenticity that went to the new owner of the ring.”
Jamal Lewis – 2012 – $49,770
As a rookie, Jamal Lewis helped the Baltimore Ravens defeat the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV; however, this ring is from Baltimore’s second Super Bowl championship in 2012, and was given to Lewis in recognition of the running back’s long and memorable tenure with the team. Goldin Auctions of West Berlin, N.J., sold the ring in 2015 for $49,770.
“Super Bowl rings are among the most sought-after collectibles in the [sports collectibles] industry,” said Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions. “Although museums occasionally buy Super Bowl rings, for the most part it’s private collectors and NFL fans. …The industry is thriving as more and more historical artifacts are unearthed and as professional athletes make their collections available for auction.”
Phil Michaelson noted: “Demand for collectibles is soaring. Thanks to mobile bidding, people who have an interest in certain items can bid remotely. They’re no longer tethered to their desks.”
Joe Gilliam – 2011 – $38,423
“Jefferson Street Joe” Gilliam was the first African-American quarterback to start an NFL game after the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, and played for several seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This championship ring was from Gilliam’s last season with the Steelers, when they won Super Bowl X over the Dallas Cowboys.
Lelands in Bohemia, N.Y., has sold more Super Bowl rings than anyone else in the sports auction business. “That’s because we’ve been around longer than anyone else,” said Lelands’ owner Joshua Evans.
“In 2011, we sold the ring presented to Joe Gilliam for the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers’ World Championship,” Evans continued. “It had everything going for it – two chunky diamonds sandwiching the Vince Lombardi trophy, the ultimate symbol of the Super Bowl – and it represented the perfect match-up with the blue-collar ‘Steel Curtain’ beating ‘America’s Team,’ the Dallas Cowboys. …The ring transcended sports memorabilia. Joe Gilliam was the second black quarterback ever to play in the NFL, which made it historically important.” The Super Bowl X ring sold for $38,423, but Evans believes if it were auctioned today, it would double that price. Nice investment!
There is a trend toward rings from the “storybook teams” and actual players’ rings versus front-office and coaches’ rings, even though the former are far more expensive. Also, collectors like “rings with content,” Evans said.
Lawrence Taylor – 2015 – $230,401
The world auction record for a Super Bowl Championship ring is held by SCP Auctions of Laguna Niguel, California. In 2015 they sold New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor’s Super Bowl XXV ring for a staggering $230,401.
Why the extraordinary price? “Its mass appeal rested simply on the massive shoulders of the man who owned it, Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor,” said SCP spokesman Terry Melia.
Lawrence Taylor played twelve seasons with the New York Giants, where the Hall of Fame linebacker helped lead Big Blue to two Super Bowl championships.
Jim Langer – 2015 – $37,375
Only a select few 1972 Championship rings awarded to players or owners after Super Bowl VII have ever reached the marketplace. This is one of the few from that category – the ring awarded to quick-blocking center Jim Langer after the Miami Dolphins capped a perfect season by defeating the Washington Redskins 14-7.
Hunt Auctions of Exton, Pa., sold the ring in 2015 for $37,375. “It is not a stretch to place this example, which belonged to a key team member and Hall of Fame inductee, among the elite pieces of Championship jewelry in private hands,” said David Hunt, owner of Hunt Auctions.
When collecting Super Bowl rings, the most prized are those rings whose provenance can be traced back to specific players or coaches. Other Super Bowl championship rings were issued to team personnel and staff; those rings are more affordable to the average sports memorabilia collector.
Let’s get a few things out of the way right now. I am a devoted and unashamed fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which by extension means that I automatically have a distaste for any of the following opponents – the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Jets, the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers, and any team with Tim Tebow on their roster.
But right now my focus is on last night’s AFC Wild Card playoff game between the Steelers and the Bengals. Arguably you could say it was one of the toughest, grittiest playoff games in recent memory. The defenses both stood up and took notice. Unheralded players stepped up and showed their pride and grit and determination. Backups struggled. The game could have gone either way. It was truly the “Battle of 1816,” with the Steelers beating the Bengals 18-16.
Hell, the best play that game was when Martavis Bryant had a circus catch where he effectively caught a touchdown pass with his rear end.
However… for all the great moments in that football game, for all the determination and skill and creativity and highs and lows…
Let’s face it. Us Steelers fans were waiting to see what would happen with Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict seemed to have designed a black-and-gold bullseye on the Steelers’ most powerful offensive weapons, and during Pittsburgh’s two regular season games against Cincinnati, Burfict did a little “target practice” of his own.
Back in December, Pittsburgh lost star running back Le’Veon Bell to a rolling hit from Vontaze Burfict.
That hit knocked Bell out of the Steelers for the rest of the season.
So let’s spin forward to Saturday night. Already tensions were high between Steelers players and Bengals players, and in the third quarter, with Pittsburgh having a handy lead, look what happened to the Steelers quarterback.
Burfict walks over him like he was nothing. The quarterback was knocked out for a while, and went to the locker room for X-rays – while at that same time, Cincinnati fans threw beer bottles and other garbage at the quarterback on his way back to receive medical attention. Stay classy, Cincinnati…
So now Pittsburgh has to use backup QB Landry Jones for some snaps. Listen, Landry Jones might be a great quarterback some day, but I’d rather have Matt Saracen under center than Landry Jones.
Okay. In the final series, the starting QB returns. They need to advance fifty yards to get in the range of Pittsburgh’s field goal kicking unit.
And then this happens.
Antonio Brown gets knocked into the middle of Kentucky by Vontaze Burfict. You can see the play in slow motion. Burfict looked like he was playing Rock’em Sock’em Robots with Antonio Brown and just landed the neck-popping uppercut. Targeting. Automatic 15 yard penalty and first down. Now the ball is close enough for a long field goal try.
But then another Cincinnati penalty – I think this was from Adam “Pac-Man” Jones – and the Black and Gold advanced to the 35-yard line for a chip shot field goal. Made. Win. Go home.
And Vontaze Burfict is still pleading his case.
Plead all day, man. But just know this.
Your quick-response temper and your head-hunting and your false bravado cost your team a chance to win their first playoff game in 25 years.
Your trash-talking and your targeting helped the Bengals snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It’s all on you. Okay, it’s also on Jeremy Hill and Pac Man Jones and A.J. McCarron, but let’s face it.
You concussed Antonio Brown, the most electrifying receiver in Steelers history – right up there with Hines Ward and Lynn Swann and Santonio Holmes.
You probably cost your head coach his job. Because once again, the Bengals couldn’t get a first round playoff win. Heck, the other team could have forfeited and Cincinnati would probably still be declared the losers.
This is all on you, Burfict.
So now what happens for the Steelers?
Next week we get to beat on the Denver Broncos, on our way to the 2016 Super Bowl and our seventh Super Bowl championship.
Peyton Manning – out of our way.
Brock Osweiler – out of our way.
And if any Broncos player DARES put on a #15 jersey…
Best if that player stays on the bench and guards the clipboards. 😀
I’ve never played fantasy football before. And with the exception of watching The League, I’ve had no interest in doing so. First off, there’s no way that this diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan would ever take any players from the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens or Cleveland Clowns on a fantasy football team. And I can’t watch a football game and gripe that players on opposite teams aren’t playing the way I want them to because they’re affecting my results.
That being said, I’m tinkering around with the idea of creating my own fantasy football league – one in which quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defense mean nothing.
And you’re going … then what players are left?
Ah, that’s where the fun begins. I want to create a league in which wins and losses are determined by the kicking team.
Yep. In my fantasy league, you draft four kickers (two AFC, two NFC). For each game that your kickers play, you receive 3 points for a completed field goal, 1 point for a successful PAT. I haven’t decided if you get docked for missed field goals or missed PAT’s, and what might happen if your kicker suddenly passes the ball for a fake FG / TD.
Or if your team gets penalized because your kicker suddenly thinks he’s a quarterback and has never thrown a forward pass in his life.
So all that being said… I’ve named my league the “Gary Gussman Fantasy Football League,” in honor – or in notoriety – of former Albany Firebirds kicker Gary Gussman. In the early years of the Firebirds’ Arena Football days – back in the pre-“Touchdown Eddie Brown” years – Gary Gussman was the Firebirds’ woeful kicker. Look, I know the uprights in Arena Football are razor-thin, but at some point in time the Firebirds’ coach should have just given up on PAT’s and went directly for two-point conversions. Just sayin’ is all.
So the rules of this fantasy football league are simple. You get to draft four kickers – two in the AFC, two in the NFC. You only get to replace them if they retire in mid-season. You accumulate points based on whether your kickers can accumulate points – heck, nine out of ten of the most prolific scorers in NFL history were kickers (ten if you count George Blanda, who became a kicker later in his career). The fantasy season would run concurrent with the NFL’s regular season, with weekly recaps in this blog, and in the end, a fantasy champion is crowned.
Sorry I don’t have the time to build a Shiva trophy (or a Sacko trophy), but I’m treating this fantasy football league as an alternative to the super-obsessed, trash-talking, hyper-focused detail of regular fantasy football leagues. It’s an alternative and – I hope – a fun alternative to those leagues.
If you’re interested in participating in this league, drop me a blog comment. If there’s enough interest, we can have an e-mail draft party; or I could just let everybody draft their four kickers so that the same kicker could be on more than one team.
One rule. And this is the Commissioner’s rule, so no arguments.
By the time you read this, I’ll be on the road with a precious cargo – six of my best photographic artworks – for “Drop-Off Day” at the New York State Fair. This seems to be part of an all-encompassing “drop-off-3-day-weekend” with my three entries for the Big E shipped yesterday, and my four (5) entries for Altamont being couriered to the Fairgrounds tomorrow.
So as I’m driving along the New York State Thruway with my entries… I’m thinking about things. Again. I do this a lot. So bear with me on these things.
I’ve attended back-to-back funerals this week. Last Wednesday was the services for my aunt Dolores. It was a very dignified service and the staff at St. Thomas the Apostle did an excellent job. If I could say one thing about the journeys of my life, it always seems that at some point in time I will find myself at St. Thomas the Apostle for baptisms, for weddings, and for funerals. Such is the way of the world.
The next day, I attended a funeral service for one of my teachers at my high school, Ahmed Naqi. This was my first experience attending a funeral at a mosque, and although I couldn’t understand any of the imam’s commands or prayers, I did understand the devotion and piety and spiritual strength of the attendees as they prayed for the soul of a good man. The whole experience of two very emotional funerals left me, for lack of a better term, spiritually drained.
I’m 6,000 miles away from the big 100,000 mile marker for the Blackbird. With that in mind, I’m looking at replacing anything and everything in terms of the car’s belts, fluids and the like. If I can keep this car going for another 53,000 miles after that, I’ll have surpassed the mileage achieved by my first car, the 1991 Pontiac 6000. It seems so long ago that I owned that “beater with a heater.” Almost a lifetime and a half ago.
I’ve been enjoying the Sirius/XM satellite radio in my car, especially the old-time-radio dramas and comedies and westerns on the Sirius/XM Radio Classics. If the schedule works out the way it should, I’ll enjoy episodes of Our Miss Brooks (Eve Arden in a hilarious sitcom about a high school teacher), the Phil Harris – Alice Faye Show (bandleader Phil Harris and his wife, movie bombshell Alice Faye, in their own domestic comedy), and a Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar marathon (Bob Bailey in the transcribed adventures of an insurance investigator with an action-packed expense account). Good stuff. Combine that with a Gunsmoke episode, a sci-fi story from X Minus One, and an experimental broadcast from the CBS Radio Workshop, and it’ll be a fun trip today.
I’ve been rebuilding my white tower computer system for the past week. It’s involved reformatting my entire C: drive, upgrading to Windows 10, and reinstalling all my software. Luckily I was fortunate to store my photos and writings and music and other materials on ancillary hard drives, so they weren’t lost in the crash. It’s just been a pain in the tuchus to get everything reinstalled. And when I figure that I’ve worked with personal computers going all the way back to the old TERAK standalone desktop computers at Hamilton College, going forward through a Packard Bell 386 laptop I purchased at Sears, and a few second-hand computers bought at various locations throughout the Capital District – none of which are around any more – if we were talking in the language of science fiction, I’m currently on the Tennant edition of my tower, having just regenerated from my Eccleston edition. Please do not ask me to explain this, or I will club you upside the head with a sonic screwdriver.
There was a recent article in Forbes magazine about the National Basketball League of Canada, my winter employer. It was a very positive and fair article about the league and its accomplishments. And I should mention that the league’s Commissioner, David Magley, is a former member of the Albany Patroons. I’m telling you, being a Patroon is a good thing for your future career.
If someone had said to me fifteen years ago that I would go from a Nikon CoolPix 800 camera to nearly a dozen digital and film cameras, I would have thought they nuts. Just goes to show you what happens over time. Then again, I wouldn’t have brought six artworks to Syracuse today had I known all this.
You know how some people can fall down the Wikipedia rabbit hole? My rabbit hole is YouTube. I start pulling videos for K-Chuck Radio and next thing I know, I’m watching a documentary on electronic tabletop football. Yeah.
I’m driving by Hamilton College, my alma mater, right now. Dear is thy homestead, glade and glen… okay, enough of that. I realize that one of my pictures, The Walkway, is among the six that I’m bringing to Syracuse this year. It’s also the first photo from dear old Ham Tech that I’ve ever entered into competition.
This photo was taken with my first “gifted camera,” a Rolleiflex Automat MX that was donated by my good friend Teri Conroy. I’ll probably see Teri when she brings her Wunsapana Farm llamas to the Big E this year. As for “gifted cameras,” I’ve received two more in the past year – a beautiful Leica M3 and a sturdy Argus C3, both rangefinders. Next year, I believe that those cameras will produce images that will be competition-season worthy.
It’s a beautiful day today. Beautiful days are good things. They’re rare and precious, and they disappear before you’re finished enjoying them.
Time to keep driving. I’m almost at Syracuse now. Turning Stone Casino is just ahead. No. Not stopping. At least not this time. Maybe on the way home to give me a “driving break.” That, and I have to decide if I really want to make a charitable donation to the Oneida Indian Nation or not. Maybe I’ll just enjoy the wonderful world of Sav-On gasoline.
In about a week or so, the local Hess gasoline stations will convert to Speedway gas stations. What does that mean? Most likely… no more Hess toy trucks in our area. Serious bummer.
For the first time in what feels like forever, I’ve actually skipped watching a Marvel movie on opening night. Yep, I didn’t go out to watch the new Fantastic Four movie. And that’s odd for me, because I love the Fantastic Four. How times have changed.
All right, listen. I’m going to keep driving. But I want everybody to have a good day today, get some sunshine and enjoy the beautiful summer.