Archive for January, 2011

Aloha, Pro Bowl!

The 2011 Pro Bowl will be held at 7:00 pm ET tonight at Aloha Stadium in beautiful Hawaii.  Given the snowfall we have experienced so far this year, we wish we were there to enjoy both the game and the beach! 

Compared to Major League Baseball’s All Star Game, where the winner determines home field advantage for the World Series, the winner of the Pro Bowl does not receive any tangible benefit by emerging victorious.  Also, given the nature of football where team chemistry and timing are critical aspects of the game, it is difficult for the game to be all that exciting.  Other sports, like basketball, allow for more individual showmanship.  The NBA All Star game is more interesting to watch simply because players have a chance to showcase their best moves on the court.

Both the MLB and NBA offer other components to make their All Star games more appealing to fans.  Baseball holds the always entertaining Home Run Derby the day prior to the All Star Game.  The NBA hosts an All Star weekend which includes a Slam Dunk contest as well as a number of other contests and exhibitions. 

The NFL is quite successful in marketing itself, but it does seem there is not much creative effort put into making the Pro Bowl more interesting and appealing.  While we acknowledge that tonight’s Pro Bowl may not be the most electrifying and strategy filled game, we simply can’t pass up another chance to see Michael Vick in action.  If you are experiencing an empty, out of sorts feeling this pre-Super Bowl weekend, tune in to see some of your favorite players in one final appearance before the season closes or a lock out threatens the 2011 season.  Plus, you will have the chance to see some beautiful Hawaiian scenery and that in itself is reason enough to watch!

The starters for the Pro Bowl are:

AFC

Offense
QB – Philip Rivers
RB – Arian Foster
FB – Vonta Leach
WR – Reggie Wayne
WR – Brandon Lloyd
TE – Mercedes Lewis
OT – Joe Thomas
OT – D’Brickashaw Ferguson
OG – Kris Dielman
OG – Logan Mankins
C – Jeff Saturday

Defense
DE – Robert Mathis
DE – Jason Babin
DT – Haloti Ngata
DT – Vince Wilfork
OLB – Cameron Wake
OLB – Terrell Suggs
ILB – Ray Lewis
CB – Darrelle Revis
CB – Devin McCourty
FS – Brandon Meriweather
SS – Eric Berry

Special Teams
P – Shane Lechler
K – Billy Cundiff
KR – Marc Mariani
ST – Montell Owens

NFC

Offense

 

 

 

 

QB – Michael Vick
RB – Michael Turner
FB – Ovie Mughelli
WR – Roddy White
WR – Calvin Johnson
TE – Jason Witten
OT – Jordan Gross
OT – Tyson Clabo
OG – Jahri Evans
OG – Chris Snee
C – Andre Gurode

Defense
DE – Julius Peppers
DE – John Abraham
DT – Justin Smith
OLB – DeMarcus Ware
OLB – Brian Orakpo
ILB – Jonathan Vilma
CB – DeAngelo Hall
CB – Brent Grimes
FS – Antrel Rolle
SS – Andrian Wilson

Special Teams
P – Mat McBriar
K – David Akers
KR – Devin Hester

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Steeler Nation or Cheeseheads? Which Super Bowl Team Boasts the Best Fans?

In 2008, ESPN ranked all 32 NFL teams’ fan bases and determined that the Steelers and Packers were tied for first place.  Exactly what criteria were used to make this determination is unclear, but not many people would argue that these two teams have fiercely devoted fans.  After a “tiebreaker” by an ESPN writer who just happened to be a native of Steeler country, they ultimately named the Steelers’ fans the best in the NFL due in part to their sellout of 299 consecutive games.  Every home game since 1972 has been a sellout.

Pittsburgh’s fan base is referred to as “Steeler Nation” and their fans are indeed scattered throughout the country. How and why is there such a huge, nationwide following of the Steelers?  The answer can be traced to the decline of the steel industry and the emergence of the Steelers as a dominant force in the league.  When Chuck Noll became head coach, the Steelers ushered in a new decade of supremacy.  The 1970’s gave birth to many Steeler icons such as Terry Bradshaw, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, “Mean” Joe Greene, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth – just to name a few.  Is it any wonder that during that decade the franchise made the playoffs 8 times and won the Super Bowl 4 times?

The rise in the Steelers’ success occurred at a time when the steel industry began its decline.  In the late 70s to early 80s, steel mills shut down, causing major unemployment and the beginning of an economic crisis in the Pittsburgh region.  As a result, many people were forced to leave the area to find jobs.  When they left, they took with them their fervor and passion for their beloved Steelers.  Behold, Steeler Nation was born! 

Today, the Steelers’ black and gold clad fans are rampant wherever the team travels.  Waving their trademark “Terrible Towels”, they should indeed be considered one of the most loyal, fervent fan bases in the NFL.

So how does the Steeler Nation compare to Green Bay’s Cheeseheads?  Green Bay has the 2nd oldest franchise in the NFL and, like the Steelers, their fans are loyal beyond measure.  Perhaps that loyalty can be attributed to the small town feeling associated with the team.  Or perhaps it is the fact that the Packers are the only non-profit, publicly owned professional sports franchise in the U.S., with nearly 112,000 shareholders, most of whom are Cheesehead-wearing fanatics!  On game day, nothing can compare to the70.000 screaming fans at Lambeau Field.  Their incomparable passion and dedication is certainly tied to the fact that most of these fans have an actual stake in the team!

So as we head into the Super Bowl, which team boasts the most devoted, fervent fan base?  Tune in on February 6th and find out when these two fanatical groups meet in Cowboys Stadium for a real Texas showdown!  Jerry Jones’ egotistical vision built the largest, most state of the art NFL stadium in the country, with a seating capacity of over 100,000.  What better venue to host two of the largest and most dedicated fan bases in all of professional sports?  Even with this massive seating capacity, we have a feeling the stadium will be bursting at the seams!

Super Bowl XLV – Let’s Get Ready!!!

After a few days recovering from last weekend’s Conference Championship games, we’re back!  Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that on February 6th, Super Bowl XLV will feature the AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the NFC Champion Green Bay Packers.  As the big day approaches, we will be bringing you all the latest player, coach and team news, as well as what we think the keys to the game are for both teams.  We will also include some features that look at some of the interesting and unique aspects of this year’s Super Bowl.

The Steelers are the oldest team in the AFC, having been established in 1933.  Pittsburgh has 6 Super Bowl championships – the most in the history of the NFL.  The Packers franchise was started in 1919 and they have the most league titles, twelve of which are prior to the establishment of the Super Bowl.  With two teams so rich in tradition, Super Bowl XLV is shaping up to be one of the greatest matchups in recent history. 

We hope you will join us over the next 10 days as we explore the on and off field storylines – like an in depth feature on Cowboy’s Stadium, a look at the very loyal and unique fan bases of both teams, a preview of the pre-game and half time entertainment, and of course, an in depth analysis of both teams!

As we prepare for next Sunday’s festivities, we want to share one of our very favorite tailgating recipes that will be a great addition to your Super Bowl party menu.  It is super easy and can be made the day before the big game.  Enjoy!

Touchdown Tortellini Skewers

Marinade: 

½ cup olive oil

4 Tbsp. sugar

4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Salt, pepper, oregano, basil

Cook one package of fresh tortellini (cheese filled).  I use the multi-colored tortellini to make it look more interesting.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Add cubed Jarlsberg cheese.  I buy the pre-packaged wedge of Jarlsberg from the deli and use the entire thing, cubing them to approximately equal the amount of tortellini pieces I have cooked.  Add sliced pepperoni (use enough to approx. correspond to the number of tortellini and cubed cheese) and cherry tomatoes and place in marinade.  Refrigerate a few hours to overnight.

Place on wooden skewers or long football themed picks, alternating tortellini, cheese, and pepperoni.  I use just a small amount of the cherry tomatoes, usually one or two per skewer.  Place on tray and cover with plastic wrap.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Who Will Make it to the Super Bowl? Here are Our Predictions!

Today will determine who will be going to the Super Bowl on February 5th.  Will the Chicago Bears win today in the longest rivalry in the history of the NFL?  Or will the Green Bay Packers represent the NFC and make a run for the ultimate title?  In the AFC, will the Steel Curtain be lowered on the Jets or will New York find a way to soar above Pittsburgh’s tough, stingy defense?  Whatever the outcome, this is shaping up to be an electrifying day for gridiron fans!  Here’s our take on who emerges victorious today.

Chicago has home field advantage, but we think the Packers’ overcome the crowd, weather conditions and the Bears’ defense and win in a close game.  Aaron Rodgers is playing phenomenal football and we think he will do whatever it takes to win the game. The keys to a Green Bay victory are…

  1.  Keeping the game from being one dimensional.  Most of the season, the Packers relied almost exclusively on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.  When they found a running game, they became a much more balanced offense that is simply harder to defend.  The Bears have the #2 rushing defense in the NFL, which will make it a real challenge for Packers RB James Starks.
  2. The Packer’s defense needs to pressure Bears QB Jay Cutler.  Last week against the Seahawks, Cutler had 274 yards passing and 2 TDs, but that was against a Seahawks defense that did little to pressure him.  The Bears have the #5 pass defense in the league, which means Cutler will be facing a much different situation than he did last week.
  3. The Packers need to stop Matt Forte.  Forte poses a threat as a running back and a wide receiver and is peaking at just the right time.  If the Packers don’t have an answer for Forte, he may just win the game for the Bears – especially given the frigid, wintry conditions expected at Soldier Field today.  Since the Packers are better at pass defense than run defense, Forte could be a real game changer.

 

The Jets/Steelers game is a tough one to call.  Big Ben has the experience to take the Steelers into the Super Bowl and is hard to pick against.  But the Jets are coming off a huge upset win against the Patriots and sometimes sheer momentum is enough to beat even the toughest opponents. We pick the Jets in what should be another close one!  For our prediction to come true here is what has to happen.

  1.  Real pressure on Big Ben.  Last week the Jets defense pressured Tom Brady, causing him to lose his rhythm.  Big Ben has the physical size, strength and mobility to escape that pressure.  For the Jets to win, they MUST find a way to disrupt the two-time Super Bowl winning QB.
  2. Contain strong safety Troy Polamalu and head hunter linebacker James Harrison.  If the Jets cannot control these two defensive dynamos, Sanchez is in for a very long day – much of it on the ground looking up at the sky!
  3. Make Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson key components in the offensive game plan today.  For the Jets to win, they must run a balanced offense, using their two RBs and using a game plan that allows Sanchez to make quick, short throws downfield.  This will be an enormous challenge, given the relentless rush defense of the Steelers.

Given all these seemingly impossible tasks, why have we picked the Jets over the Steelers?  Jets coach Rex Ryan has lost two AFC Championships in a row and simply won’t tolerate a third.  Combined with the momentum the Jets are on after last week’s defeat of the Patriots, we think he and his team will back up their season long tough talk with a victory over the favored Steelers.

Who’s Your Man?

Tomorrow’s AFC Championship game has two high profile quarterbacks – New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.  When it comes to a title game, who would you rather have on your team?

 Big Ben and Mark Sanchez are light years apart in public image.  Roethlisberger’s off the field problems – careless motorcycle driving, two different accusations of sexual assault and a possible drinking problem – have given him a bad boy image.  His QB performance this season has certainly helped repair that image somewhat, but if he doesn’t take the Steelers to the Super Bowl, we have to wonder if fans will once again be reminded of his misdeeds.

Sanchez, on the other hand, has somewhat of a golden boy image.  His wholesome looks, combined with his Southern California roots, make him the perfect candidate for a Hollister ad campaign.  Not only can he pull off a sun-kissed, fun loving surfer image, but he also embraces his refined, cultural side as well.  This past summer, he appeared at the Tony Awards and introduced a song from a Broadway musical, while admitting that he is a big fan of theatre and the arts since moving to New York.  Talk about a multi-faceted personality!

Both Roethlisberger and Sanchez were first round draft picks.  Sanchez was the 5th overall pick in 2009.  When drafted, he had only 16 starts under his belt as a USC Trojan.  He started only one season, but led the Trojans to a 12-1 record and Rose Bowl Championship.  In his first year with the Jets, he took his team to the playoffs, but ultimately lost to the Colts in the AFC Championship game.  He became the 4th rookie QB in NFL history to win his first playoff game and the 2nd to win two playoff games in his rookie year.

Despite only 2 years in the NFL, Sanchez exudes the confidence of a much more experienced player.  Perhaps his poise and leadership skills can be traced to his childhood.  Sanchez’s father – a former Army Sergeant and fire department captain – believed in teaching his son how to think quickly and to be a leader.  As a child, Sanchez mastered these skills by doing drills such as dribbling a basketball without looking – while reciting multiplication tables.  Sanchez’s father would have Mark stay after practices and do these drills in order to learn how to concentrate and think fast in a pressure situation – two skills that are serving him well as the NY Jets QB.

Roethlisberger was the 11th pick in the 2004 draft.   When drafted, he had 3 years of experience playing at Miami University of Ohio.  He broke every major record at the university and dominated the Mid-American Conference as well.  Since he started playing for the Steelers in 2004, Big Ben has compiled an impressive resume, too numerous to list.  Some of his major accomplishments include 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year, a Pro Bowl Selection in 2007, and oh, by the way, TWO Super Bowl Championships!  Big Ben was the youngest starting QB to ever win a Super Bowl.

Sanchez may have had an upbringing that helped him develop leadership and quick thinking skills.  But Roethlisberger clearly has the advantage when it comes to playoff experience, where those types of skills are truly tested.  He has a 9-2 playoff record, compared to Sanchez’s 4-1 playoff record.  Another advantage Big Ben has is his 6’5” 240 pound frame that makes him a real challenge for defenders to bring down. 

So, which QB would you want on your team tomorrow?  If we were only choosing based on likeability, Mark Sanchez – the California surfer with a love for Broadway – wins hands down.  But if we want to have the best chance of winning the game, Big Ben is our man.   His size, combined with his playoff experience, arm strength and mobility, make him our choice for this fabulous AFC Championship game.

Flying Under the Radar – Why Aaron Rodgers Thrives on Being Stealth

Snubbed by the Pro Bowl this year, overlooked by most of the media and having endured playing in the shadow of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers is now making his presence known.  Even Troy Aikman stated this week that if he had a team, he would choose Rodgers as his starting QB.  As Rodgers leads his Packers into the NFC Championship, he is playing like not just a would be Pro Bowl QB, but quite possibly an MVP.

His path to the NFC title game was not easy.  Coming out of high school, Rodgers was not offered a single Division I scholarship offer.  Never one to give up, he went to Butte College, a small community college in California and led them to a 10-1 season and number 2 national ranking.  His performance there caught the attention of the University of California, who offered him a scholarship.  As a Golden Bear, Rodgers once again played exceptionally well and set a number of passing records as a sophomore.  He led his team to a victory over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl and elevated himself to national recognition. 

Rodgers entered the 2005 draft and was considered to be the top QB and likely number one overall pick.  But Rodgers was overlooked by the teams many considered would take him and was finally chosen by the Packers as the 24th pick.  Unfortunately, he found himself on a team with one of the most elite QBs in the history of the game – Brett Favre.  For the next three seasons, Rodgers waited for his opportunity to play.  Upon Favre’s departure in 2008, he earned the starting position.  Despite his solid play, the Packers had a losing season and fans directed their anger and disappointment towards their new starting QB. 

In 2009, Rodgers led the Packers to an 11-5 record and a wild card spot in the playoffs.  While the Packers lost in the first round of the playoffs, Rodgers had a very successful season.  He was the first QB to throw for over 4,000 yards in both of his first two seasons as a starter.  Rodgers was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2009.

This season, he was the top ranked NFC QB with a rating of 101.2.  He passes with incredible accuracy and is the epitome of a pocket passer.  His incredible ability to read defenses quickly and pick them apart is reminiscent of Peyton Manning. Like Manning, he also changes the play at the line of scrimmage when he sees a better read – that is a true testament to the confidence his coaches’ place in him. Rodgers also has the ability to run and was the Packers’ leading rusher this season, rushing for nearly 400 yards and 4 TDs.

While most of the attention in last week’s playoff game focused on Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan who was selected for the Pro Bowl, it was the QB NOT selected by the Pro Bowl who had the big day.  In that game, Rodgers was 31 of 36 for 366 yards, 3 TDs and a 48-21 victory.  It seems Rodgers thrives on the underdog status, playing like a man with something to prove.

Flying under the radar is something Aaron Rodgers has become accustomed to.  From his early days when he was overlooked by Division I colleges, to being passed over in the draft and living in the shadow of Favre,  Rodgers has maintained his dignity, while preparing for his day in the spotlight.  That day has finally arrived and it seems Rodgers is fully prepared to take center stage.   With this new found attention and hype, will Rodgers’ hot hand continue?  Or does he perform better when he is the underdog and plays with a chip on his shoulder?  Sunday’s game should answer that question and I, for one, cannot wait to discover the answer!

SocialVibe! A Free, Easy Way to Make the World a Better Place!

We are pleased to announce a new component to our blog that allows you to support a worthy cause at absolutely no cost!  All you need to do is participate in a few “activities”, which basically means taking a quick survey or looking at a few ads.  It is a simple and completely free way to make a positive impact on the world!

 We have chosen to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.   Here is a bit about this private, non-profit organization.

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund was founded in 1994 by Sol Schreiber to honor the memory of his wife Ann.  She was a distinguished public administrator and fought a courageous five-year battle with ovarian cancer. Under the leadership of Liz Tilberis, the late editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, the worlds of fashion, beauty, and entertainment were united around this important cause.  Gridironglamour feels that this organization, committed to funding research to find a method of early detection and a cure for ovarian cancer, is a cause worthy of our support.

OCRF is one of the leading independent agencies dedicated to advancing ovarian cancer research in the United States.

If you scroll down and look at the menus on the right side of this page, you will see a box called “SocialVibe”.   Click on the box and after a few minutes of questions or activities related to the sponsor’s products, your “donation” will be complete!

We hope you will take the time to check out this latest addition to our blog and help support this very worthy cause!  Again, it costs nothing to participate, other than a few minutes (less than 5!) of your time!

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