Chocolate, it’s good stuff. Some of it’s even good for you (70% cocoa).
Bread is the staff of life, if it’s whole grain (See; gluten-sensitivity).
Beer is a gift from the gods, if appreciable (21+) & enjoyed in moderation.
And then there is cheese, a true staple, world-wide.
You’ve got your soft cheeses, like ricotta, brie, camembert and limburger.
There are the firm varieties in colby, provolone, mozzarella, Swiss and my personal favorite, sharp cheddar. Mmmmm.
The hard palate-pleasers (graters) including parmesan, gouda (semi) and Romano.
And then there’s the Big Cheese, Midwest variety: the Green Bay Packers.
There was a time when, defensively speaking, hard was the only variety of Packer one would encounter on the tundra, frozen or otherwise.
Names like Dillon, Nitschke, Tunnell, Forester, Jordan, Davis, Adderley, Robinson & Wood struck fear into the hearts of lesser, and some very up-to-the-challenge opponents, the fearless Jim Brown and Joe Kapp not among ‘em.
But the cheese line turned muenster in the 70s & 80s, w/notable exceptions in hit-men like Hendricks, Carr, Harris, Anderson, Douglass, Gray, Buchanon and Ezra Johnson.
On arrival of Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren (‘91), the Packerland Awakening began and continues today. It’s been marked by a West Coast offensive pass scheme that relies on a keen, highly-accurate, quick release QB. Enter Favre (’92) and then Rodgers (‘07). And when they‘ve gotten time (OL), and they usually have, it runs smooth as Cheese Whiz®.
Defensively, when Reggie White left Philly for greener Wisconsin pastures (93), he and LeRoy Butler gave gBay a stature it hadn’t had since the 60s. When both were gone, so too was the balance that had made the Packers back-to-back NFC champions (‘97-98).
Today, that balanced formula is a concoction too often left in the lab.
Oh, the Pack’s been plenty good since the Wolf era, winning lots o’ games, NFCN titles and SB45 (31-25 PIT) under stewardship of Thompson – McCarthy. There have been gamers (Burnett & Hawk) and the glory-stat guys (Matthews / Woodson), but too often, in the big game, the hard-bodies have looked more like Swiss cheese than the ‘grater gang’ of old.
That may be changing in 2014.
While green & yellow resorted to trickery for a 27-24 win in Miami by way of the spike-that-never-was, no such chicanery was needed last Sunday as the they jumped on visiting Carolina quickly and relentlessly, putting 21 first quarter points on the board enroute to a 38-17 de-clawing of their opponents, holding the visiting Cats to just 3-pts through 3Q.
Coming into week 8, Packers defense ranks at #19 in ypg (362), just below the resilient Arizona Cardinals (357), but crack the top-ten in Pts/G (21), tied w/ Dallas at #9.
Their next foe: the Saints, GB’s first mettle game of 2014. Week 1 is week 1 (SEA).
Set to take the Dome Sunday night versus snake-bit Saints, keeping prolific passer Brees from working the scoreboard will be a major challenge for upward trending Pack who are a bit over-sold this week w/wins vs NYJ, CHI, CAR, MIN and chicaneried MIA. Saints are ticked-off (2-4) and do favor that home-cooking on the big bayou. Should be good.
Be wary, cheese crew, as “Doug Heffernan” once quipped: “I don’t know why they call this place the Big Easy, it’s hard, very hard (“No Orleans”)!” Romano hard.
A World of Headache
Former Seahawks now Jets receiver Percy Harvin has been hot topic since the Seattle brain-trust suddenly, to public eyes, anyway, decided to part ways last week with the talented but rumored cantankerous, fleet-footed football star.
Back in his Minnesota days (’09-12) when rumors of personality conflict surfaced, Harvin was plagued by migraine headaches, keeping him out-of-action with some frequency, including their memorable run at the Super Bowl (‘09-10) when Favre still had ankles.
Curious that in their first game post-Percy, the normally stout Seattle crew atypically fell behind big (3-21) to the 1-4 host Rams w/green QB Davis at controls who’d normally be feeling the wrath of a historically strong Seahawks’ D. The word ‘tank’ began to filter its way into the brain, until Hawks made it respectable late (L 26-28). Now word of locker-room grumbling that QB Wilson isn’t “black enough,” for some. Percy pay-back?
Not much is known about the causes of such malady, but stress is a known contributor. Broncos great running back Terrell Davis has talked publicly about his suffering similar headaches, a pain that reportedly abated upon his exit from the stress & rigors of NFL.
Neither a medical doctor nor privy to all the facts in Percy’s case, it wouldn’t be careless to presume an attitude adjustment or a personal inventory, if you prefer, is in order for PH after ugly separations from his prior clubs. If not for his career, then for piece of mind.
“Air Coryell” Remembered
The year was 1976. Carter came out of Georgia to edge incumbent Ford in the November Presidential, the Big Red Machine was cruising, Gifford, Meredith & Cosell made MNF a national habit w/half-time highlights & witty banter and disco dominated the charts.
It also marked the last time the Cardinals started an NFL season with an impressive 5-1 record, a tally matched by their present-day descendents heading into week 8 (PHI).
The late, great head coach Don Coryell (1924-10) was mastermind behind the St. Louis revival of the mid-70s when the League’s charter member (w/Bears) made back-to-back playoff appearances (‘74-75) with a signature offensive scheme that came to be known as “Air Coryell,” a reinvigoration of Sid Gillman’s (SD) air-it-out invention.
Big names like Jim Hart (QB), all-purpose Terry Metcalf (PR/RB), Jim Otis (FB), Mel Gray (WR), J.V. Cain (TE), Ike Harris (WR), Roger Wehrli (CB) and Dan Dierdorf (OT) were known to most fans around the nation who knew the Redbirds would come to play.
After bowing out in Divisional round in both ’74 and ’75, Coryell’s bunch posted a spiffy 10-4 record but missed the post-season in ‘76 and would not return until, briefly, in ‘82.
The brass ring eluded their grasp but those 70s Cardinals rarely failed to excite.
The Real McCoy?
On Monday, Redskins rookie head coach Jay Gruden shelved the Kirk Cousins project and opted for 3rd-stringer and former Longhorn Colt McCoy as his starting QB after Mr. .45 played admirably (11-12, TD (Garcon 70y)) in 2nd-half duty in leading Skins to a win over Titans last Sunday, 19-17. Presently, the McCoy project is contingent on return of Rob Griffin who is still rehabbing from a serious ankle injury a month back.
Virtù isn’t exactly trending today, but given Washington’s bleak outlook for the rest of 2014, some serious patience with Cousins might’ve produced good results in the long run. Let’s hope Colt, unlike his predecessor, is less willing to step aside when Sir Runs-a-Lot. Good luck with the carousel, Jay.
Canton-bound Sticky Glove
I’ve not paid much mind to Peyton Manning’s on-field wardrobe of late (jacket & tie post game presser is impressive), but w/his surpassment of Favre’s career TD total (509 & counting) last weekend, the photo folk had a field day w/ the future HOF’er and noticed he had on the now standard year round shill gear for rough & tough footballers, a sticky-glove. Cute.
Johnny Unitas and Sammy Baugh are spinning.
I’ve just one question for Mr. Manning: Do you wear the glove when you eat pizza, too? Hot hot hot!
Not Ready to Bite
The Lions are enjoying a 5-2 start and are one of a handful of media darlings this week 8 (GB, DAL, IND, DEN). This writer isn’t ready to bite.
A come-from-behind, 1-point win, at home against an up & down (mostly down) Saints club, doesn’t yet qualify this Detroit team as down-the-road contenders, not with their long history of flame-out to overcome (See; 1960 – 2013).
Play a blinder versus Falcons (2-5) in London town this Sunday, a talented bunch just as ticked as are their arch-rival to the West (NO), then master November’s slate (MIA, AZ, NE & CHI (3-1)) and best the Packers at Lambeau (W17), and I’ll start consuming.
Book of Matthew (McConaughey)
“It’s just… I love the emblem (Washington Redskins). I dig it. It gives me a little fire and some oomph. But now that it’s in the court of public opinion, it’s going to change. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will.” (“Matthew“ / SI.com (E/M) / 10-21 / Maloy).”
Such a back-handed, defeatist endorsement of the beleaguered motif is hard to figure. Dis-information? Hmmm, doubtful, but who can say in these times.
Don’t raise that white flag just yet, Mr. McConaughey (“change”), “Rome wuddn’t (lost) in a day (B.Hopkins),” it took five centuries. Plenty of time to gauge “public opinion.”
As for the “court” you reference, if lady justice is truly blind in her balancing-act (“public opinion“), pro-Redskins should remain a winner. But if she lifts that veil and winks at the PCB bunch, I fear too, a sad result, something like the OJ and Pistorius “court(s).”
Popularity and justice need not be mutually exclusive outcomes.
Cherry Picks Week 8: Mettle Match-ups
Chargers (5-2) @ Broncos (5-1): 10-23 CBS 8:30 EST: Bolts win
Lions (5-2) @ Falcons (LON) (2-5): 10-26 Fox 9:35am: Birds win
*Nice start time State-side. For Mom, “maybe no.” “Over there?.”
Ravens (5-2) @ Cincinnati (3-3-1): CBS 1:00: Bengals win
Seahawks (3-3) @ Carolina (3-2-1): Fox 1:00: Seattle wins
Bears (3-4) @ New England (5-2): Fox 1:00: Bears win
Eagles (5-1) @ Arizona (5-1): Fox 4:10 (GOTW): Cardinals win
Colts (5-2) @ Pittsburgh (4-3): CBS 4:30: Steelers win
Packers (5-2) @ New Orleans (2-4): NBC 8:35: Saints win
Record: 38 – 20 – 1
Photo credits: hard gouda, J.Sullivan, 6.15.06, wc.cca; cheese, zamorano, Spain, 4.07, wc.cca; Packers wordmark, wc.cca, 1959; M.McCarthy, wc.cca, 8.11.07, TJ.Grant; D.Capers, 8.5.11, wc.cca, G.Cervantes; P.Harvin, 10.6.14, K.Allison, wc.cca; St.Louis Cardinal wood print, wc.cca, 1966; P.Manning, 8.26.12, wc.cca, J.Beall; M.McConaughey, 7.17.12, wc.cca, MAD; cherries, Hispalois, Spain, 7.2.12, wc.cca
Posted: 10-23-14 @ 6:32pm; edits 10:52 & 10-24 @ 1:37am EST