Hope Mr. Big and Tall is still around thanks to this (RIP Keith). Anywho, welcome to the end of 2021, which, when translated phonetically, spells Twenty-Twenty-Won. Uplifting stuff.
Before we get to picks of the week, previewing Sunday's "I have no idea what the eff is going on with this team and you don't either so don't even try" game vs Houston on Sunday (Final home game of the year in all likelihood, unless the 7 seed manages to make it to the NFC Championship vs a 6 seed SF), let's discuss (ok, I am going to write it and you may or may not read it so whatever) the best way to honor John Madden.
Madden was a great coach, who went 103-32-7 with a Super Bowl win in 10 seasons as coach of the Raiders. He stepped down due to health reasons and occupational burnout, meaning he is one of the first major coaches to publicly announce burnout as a contributing factor, so he was a pioneer in acknowledging mental health. Coaches, and assistant coaches, tend to work some insane hours, and their families, and own mind and bodies, suffer for that. He also avoided that Shawn Michaels in Saudi-level comeback that inevitably stained a great a coaching legacy. He just went on to the next thing, broadcasting.
The first shot in that video is of the play by play announcer being creepy as hell with a female in the stands. Madden deadpans: "I didn't even know people looked like that" and we are immediately reassured Madden has no time for your bullshit, because he's here to talk football, not boobs. That video above is the first game of Madden's broadcast career, a tilt between Bill Walsh and OJ Simpson's (yes, really) 49ers vs Archie Manning's New Orleans Saints. It takes less than 2 minutes for Madden to break down how tough Steve DeBerg is while playing with a cast on his left wrist. He was comfortable right away, and we were better for it. So the best way to honor him?
Maybe to honor the Sabols as well?
NFL Games On-Demand.
I like to get caught up on 49ers games from the past. Like, the way past. BW (Before Walsh) games, even. Doing so makes the 1981 NFC Title win seem that much bigger at the time and moment, and adds more context to the 90's battles versus Dallas as well. The problem with going back this far is the level of quality found on old YouTube broadcasts (There are other sites as well, TOKY Video had all the Super Bowls, for example) and it is not always the best, audio or video-wise. There are also tons of games missing. Who wouldn't want to see the Steve Young-led Tampa Bay Bucs in the White Creamiscle jerseys battle the Packers in the snow in 86? Or the full game of SF vs Philadelphia in 1989 when Montana led a furious 4th-quarter comeback vs Buddy Ryan's Eagles? Nope. First Bill Walsh win? Also, no. Sure, you can find the old NFL Films weekly highlights, but you have to take the context they provide, and are unable to glean your own.
It's 2021. Where are the games?
CBS and NBC had rights for years, as did ABC, then ESPN, Turner, then FOX. The NFL has Game-Pass, which is great in theory, but is choppy, and can be missing things in the app or the fire stick app that you can only find via desktop, mobile (it also only goes back 10 years, and shows condensed games, not full). Why can we not go back as far as we possibly can? AFL Teams had an ABC contract starting in 1960, in the NFL the Browns had an independent deal with SNI and everyone else with CBS, but then joined on with the rest of the league's deal with CBS in 1961. The content should be somewhere, no?
Give us all the games.
The Holy-Roller. Staubach's comeback vs the 49ers in 72. The Heidi-game (a guy at the Arizona game that I was sitting next to attended that game live). The Hail-Mary. Bears vs Dolphins MNF 1985. Any/all NYG/SF matchups from 1981 to 1993. All of them. Make games sortable by team, network, broadcaster (The Madden Collection, anyone? From 9/23/1979 to 2/1/2009, SB XLIII Arizona vs Pittsburgh). They could set it up the way WWE Network used to be. Monthly subscription...and use a lot of it to fund retired player funds or pay players who played in these games directly. No league has been better at documenting their own content better than the NFL...now is the time to release that content and profit, while using it to honor the folks who helped make this sport what it is today. Or work deals with the individual streaming services for them to be able to broadcast their old games?
In lieu of waiting on these giant streaming companies to replay All-Madden like what happened this past week, why not let football fans honor Madden in their own way, and watch broadcasts he called of the teams they love?
That seems like a great, and impactful, way to honor Madden, no?
On to this week's picks:
Pass- Houston +13 at SF Is it Trey? Is it Jimmy? Is it Trey Sermon or Elijah? Is it Houston last week or Houston two weeks ago? SF wins, but they never seem to blow anyone out, so 13 seems like a bit much. Maybe put a sheckle on Deebo for first TD, or build a DFS Showdown lineup around the Texans' #1 wideout, but that's about it.
KC -5.5 Seems like the Chiefs are reminding everyone how good they actually are, and the defense has been holding tough the entire time. Also, alot of money on Cincy in this one.
Was +5.5 Philly is also another darling, getting mucho dinero and a lot of the picks. I expect a much better effort from a healthier Washington team a week after getting pantsed by Dallas on national TV.
AZ/Dal Under 51.5 Arizona, doing the annual Joe Walton fade as opposed to the annual Bill Parcells late-season push, is not the offensive juggernaut it was. A couple of long drives ending in failed 4th downs or field goals can keep this under the total.
Trey vs Jimmy
Starting Trey Lance before he is ready is not a great way to set him up for success. Letting a less than 100% Jimmy Garoppolo play when a healthy Trey Lance is right there is bad for optics. Jimmy sitting with injury and not looking as though he is trying to get back and play like a Baker Mayfield would not be helpful for his optics, either, particularly when he is probably looking for a new job next year and this is his chance to audition. Prediction: Trey starts, Niners win. Any prediction after that is based on if either SF or LA is playing for anything next week.
Am I going to the game this weekend? I am not, I usually have the kids on alternate holidays, and New Year's fits that mold. I have attended 8 games this year, with a record of 5-3, the most recent being the Atlanta home win. I also was in Detroit, Philly, Home for Seattle, Arizona, and Atlanta, and trips to Jacksonville, Seattle, and Cincinnati, where the hotel on night one had no hot water and no where served food after 8:30 PM. I was also saddened by the fact not one station in Cincinnati had the call letters WKRP. Like, WHY?