The NHL held an exhibition game outdoors yesterday in their 2009 Winter Classic, pitting the Detroit Red Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks in a game of football at Soldier Field. The league made the decision to have an annual football game each year in order to finally get a few minutes of airtime on SportsCenter, and to spark interest in the sport they play the rest of the time, something called hockey. They played to a tense 0-0 standoff in what might be called a defensive smash-mouth football game. You might also just say simply that neither team had a clue what they were doing.
The contest was plagued by errors, as both teams admittedly had not ever played the sport before. Chicago made an impressive drive in the first quarter. But when they completed a long pass that should have gone for a touchdown to Patrick Sharp, instead of running it into the endzone, he ran in circles shouting "Where's the goal?! Where's the goal?!" until being tackled and fumbling the ball.
Detroit looked to be making some offensive progress in the second quarter, but when they got down into field goal range they started complaining to the refs about no-calls on icing penalties. They were flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. Things got even uglier in the 3rd quarter when Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville realized he had been given a challenge flag, and began throwing it after every play.
"They gave me this cool little yellow hacky sack thingy," said Quenneville during the game. "I'll be damned if I'm not going to use it every time something doesn't go our way!"
The Red Wings got within 5 yards of the goal line at the end of the 3rd quarter, but the television coverage went to a commercial and when they came back both teams had left the field and already were in the locker rooms. NHL Officials attempted to explain to the players that there were 4 periods in football. But, when fans realized they might actually come back out and play more they began to chant "Make it end, make it end!", and thankfully for all those watching, the contest was declared a 0-0 tie.
So did the game do anything to sway people into watching a little more NHL in the coming year?
"Well, I've seen my 5-year-old son play a better game of peewee football than what I saw here today," said fan Frank Smith. "If these so-called athletes can't do any better than him, I don't know how they are going to look out there playing whatever that hockey thing is they kept trying to tell us about. I think I'll skip that, but it sure was fun to be outside for a bit."
ESPN ran a story yesterday saying that an Anonymous Jets player said that Brett Favre was distant from the rest of the team and spent most of his time in a private office alone. Anonymous went on to say that Favre should have been benched during his 3 interception performance in week 16, and the team can't be all about one person. The news goes to further illustrate just how fast things went from good to sour in New York after the team started the year 8-3.
But Favre is not taking the news lying down, and in a press conference today disputed these allegations, saying that Anonymous was actually the one who was distant from the team, and that people barely even knew who he was.
"I don't even remember playing with this guy," said Favre. "I remember Laveranues Coles, Thomas Jones, but I can't remember Anonymous even showing up for team meetings. If you want to look at someone to blame for our failures down the stretch, you can look right to him. I threw 20 incompletions in that last game, but at least 15 of those were to Anonymous, and he didn't come down with a single one. It's like he wasn't even out there on the field."
Indeed, other players are struggling to remember their teammate at all. "Anonymous...It's not ringing a bell," said Nick Mangold. "Is he french or something?"
Analysts are jumping all over the latest comments from Anonymous. "This guy is just a locker room cancer," said ESPN's Trey Wingo. "People really get on Terrell Owens and Randy Moss for things they say after tough losses, but it's actually Anonymous who is the worst. Every time you hear really damaging stuff, it's from this guy. At least they contribute on the field. Anonymous has never even made a pro bowl. The Jets need to cut ties with him during the offseason and move on."
Arizona Cardinals owner William Bidwell announced today that head coach Ken Whisenhunt has been fired, despite the team winning their division for the first time in 30 years. "Oops," said Bidwell in an official statement on the matter. "It appears I had set up a reminder in my Outlook a couple years back to fire our head coach one day after the regular season ended and set it to repeat every year. It's usually been a great reminder year after year, and so when it popped up today I just started the firing paperwork out of habit.
"I am truly grateful for the work Ken has done to turn around this ship, but there is no reversing what has happened here. Since the lawyers have finalized the paperwork there is nothing I can do. I also mistakenly booked the stadium for a monster truck show during our first round playoff game. I usually get to work renting this place out in a hurry after the season is over, and I seem to have made a scheduling snafu there. But, the NFL says that the game must be played under any circumstances except for life-threatening weather, so we'll just have to hope that Grave Digger is on our side."
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