Gridiron greatness clouded by controversy and a sad, hollow man

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NFL

The NFC championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams got off to a weird start.

Jimmy (“Margaritaville”) Buffet, “performed” our national anthem, after which he dropped the mic on the field.

Maybe he was making fun of the gesticulation, who knows? But I had to put “performed” in quotations because his version of our anthem was much-less-than-delightful…and made better if he’d dropped the mic BEFORE he tried to “sing.”

Both teams also had dismal starts.

…the practice of ‘loosening the rules’ in the post-season needs to be stopped.

The Saints opening drive stalled at the doorstep. They settled for a field goal.

The Rams got the ball, and gave it right back.

Quarterback Jared Goff’s pass went through the hands of running back Todd Gurley and was intercepted.

Again the Saints camped in the shadow of the goal posts, and ended with another FG.

New Orleans scored a touchdown on their next possession.

I love trick-plays and the Rams executed a perfect one on 4th & 5 when Kicker Johnny Hekker lined up to punt.

He took the snap and threw a flawless pass to cornerback Sam Shields for a 12-yard gain and the 1st down, which set up a field goal from Kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein, 3-13.

A beautiful 36-yard pass and run, followed by a Gurley TD rush sent the Rams to the locker room trailing, 10-13.

L.A. received the kick to start the second half only to go 3 & out.

The Saints scored on a 12-play push and the Rams answered with a 71-yard TD-drive, 17-20.

Goff mowed 85-yards of lawn to set up an FG at the top of the fourth Q, 20-20.

Throughout the game the referees turned a blind-eye to some obvious holding, pass-interference, and helmet-to-helmet contact.

The on-air commentators wrongly rubberstamped this by saying, “They’re letting them play.”

No.

They’re allowing them to foul.

It’s wrong and the practice of “loosening the rules” in the post-season needs to be stopped.

On 3rd & 10 with 1:45 left, Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman committed blatant pass-interference and egregious helmet-to-helmet contact penalties at the 6-yardline…and no flag was thrown.

New Orleans subsequently kicked a field goal.

L.A. got the ball, moved 45-yards, and were given life on a 48-yard Zuerlein FG that sent the game into overtime, 23-23.

Saints won the toss. QB Drew Brees was hit as he threw and Rams Safety John Johnson pulled in the INT.

L.A. advanced 25-yards and Zuerlein nailed a 58-yarder for the win.

The New England Patriots won the AFC championship game in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31.

The Rams meet the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, Sunday, February 3.

Boxing

Adrien Broner’s career has had a chalk outline drawn around it for a while…it’s now officially “dead.”

But it would have been better for him to go out with a whimper rather than spewing a profanity-laced rant, while whining like a petulant brat.

Broner’s bad behavior is the only compelling storyline left for this badly broken, empty husk.

In his last four fights Broner won a split-decision, lost a unanimous decision, managed a majority-draw and lost by unanimous decision.

In his bid for Manny Pacquiao’s WBA World Welterweight title Broner lost every round on my card (120-108).

Showtime’s unofficial scorekeeper gave Broner two rounds.

Broner did so little it’s possible he won a couple of rounds simply because he did “more.” He landed 50-punches during the entire fight…and only 1-punch in Round 12.

Pac-man controlled the bout, threw in combinations and had Broner in trouble several times.

Broner did little more than back away. Yet, at the final bell Broner raised his hands and jumped on the ropes.

Pacquiao was correctly awarded a unanimous decision (117-11 and 116-112, twice).

Hollow-headed Broner verbally attacked Showtime announcer Jim Gray and (shuffled in with the obscenities) claimed he had won the fight…which could mean Broner suffered a concussion from all the power-punches he stopped with his face.

God Bless and always play by the rules.

Mark Felicetti hopes his allusions to T.S. Eliot’s work will not offend the poet’s fans. Reach him at mark@tolucantimes.com.  

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