Monday, January 23, 2006

Super BOWL XL: Pittsburgh Steelers v. Seattle Seahawks in Detroit! (I'm going)

After a 2005 which saw me cancel my trip to Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, due to my Mom's battle with Breast Cancer -- she's much better now -- I'm proud to be attending the 40th Super Bowl game. This is one of the "row of three" host cities that bidded for the right to host a Super Bowl with Oakland.

I must admit that I'm surprised to see the Pittsburgh Steelers as the AFC Champion, as I expected and wanted to see the Indianapolis Colts play the Seattle Seahawks. I also want to see Indy Coach Tony Dungy lift the Lombardi trophy over his head.

Oh, well.

But I am looking forward to the events, the people, and the game, and Detroit. I'm confident the city will put it's best foot forward. What I like is that they -- unlike Jacksonville -- didn't lie to the NFL about the number of hotel rooms they had under contract.

Moreover, Larry Alexander and Susan Sherer of the Metro Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau were very nice to me when we met in Atlanta at the 2000 Fall NFL Owners Meeting.

I only hope the weather's over 30 degrees!

Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis Can Trump NFL by Hiring Black or Latino Coach - Monte Poole of The Oakland Tribune

Note: The reason why I didn't link to the article is ANG Newspaper's website archive is so poorly designed and maintained, the link would go bad after 30 days. Here's Monte's article below, and his photo to the left.

Al could trump rest by hiring minority
Monte Poole

MAYBE AL DAVIS, often accused of being past his prime, is the one NFL executive who will see what his colleagues have missed.

And wouldn't he love that?

The Raiders owner is the last of the nine bosses to have interviewed candidates but remain undecided about his next head coach. Six have hired their new man, and two others are believed to be an announcement away.

Which leaves Al in a position he relishes, able to defy convention, be contrary, go his own way.

It's as easy as hiring Maurice Carthon or Ron Rivera as Oakland's next head coach. Or Tim Lewis, Jerry Gray, Hue Jackson, Ted Cottrell, Greg Blatche or Donnie Henderson.

Each is a man of color, touted as capable of a being quality head coach in the NFL. Men of color, given such an opportunity, have done exceptionally well. So well, you'd think NFL owners would have noticed.

Maybe they have, but are too race-conscious to acknowledge it.

Otherwise, they are clinging to ignorance in spite of the obvious.

Most observers noted the results achieved in 2005 by Tony Dungy in Indianapolis, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Lovie Smith in Chicago. There was widespread acknowledgment of the strides made by Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.

Four African-American head coaches, all former coordinators, all longtime dues-paying members of the coaching fraternity, experiencing success in a league reluctant to hire head coaches of color.

With Smith and Dungy finishing 1-2 in the Coach of the Year voting, and Lewis tied for fourth, it was an undeniable breakthrough. Equality, finally, is at hand. Fairness at last. That's what the folks at the barber shop say.

Ahh, but team owners and presidents, those who do the hiring, don't go to the barber shop. Don't hear what's said there, either.

How else to explain the sixhires this off-season, as well as the two reportedly decided? The new wave looks a lot like the old wave. Some are relatively young, maybe prematurely promoted. Some are relatively old, perhaps overdue for an opportunity. Several were downright mystifying.

All are indisputably white.

Brad Childress (Minnesota), Mike McCarthy (Green Bay), Eric Mangini (New York Jets), Rod Marinelli (Detroit), Sean Payton (New Orleans) and Scott Linehan (St. Louis) now have their chance. Buffalo reportedly is ready to hire former Chicago Bears coach Dick Jauron, while Houston will hire Denver assistant Gary Kubiak, who became available Sunday after the Broncos were ousted from the playoffs.

Eight positions filled, none by anyone who brings similar socio-ethnic experiences or points of view as those currently among the most successful coaches in the league.

It is apparent is that few employers are influenced when Denver safety John Lynch says two of the greatest positive influences on his life — his life! — are Dungy and Herm Edwards, neither of whom coaches the Broncos. And that few understand the amplitude of the statement when Bengals receiver Chad Johnson says his head coach, Lewis, is "like a father" to him.

Mangini, who turned 35 last Thursday, spent one season as defensive coordinator in New England, after five years coaching defensive backs. Before that, he was a quality control coach, which means he was responsible for coffee and doughnuts.

And McCarthy, architect of a 49ers offense that finished at the bottom of the league, gets rewarded by the Packers.

Why not hire former FEMA boss Michael "heckuva job" Brown?

Whatever happened to the notion that the NFL is a copycat league, where needy teams try to mimic the latest, hottest organizations?

Rivera, defensive coordinator under Smith with the Bears, went from hot to not hot in the blink of an eye. Same with Tim Lewis, who serves in the same capacity for the New York Giants. Henderson and Cottrell, two more DCs, got courtesy interviews and now find themselves unemployed.

Boys and girls, black head coaches typically make a positive impact. Art Shell improved the Raiders, Ray Rhodes improved the Eagles, Edwards improved the Jets, Dungy improved the Colts. Dennis Green improved the Vikings (he's got a ways to go with the Cardinals).

For evidence of turnaround jobs, consider Dungy with the Bucs. Or Smith with the Bears. Or Lewis, becoming the second coach in Bengals history to have a winning record (27-21) after three seasons.

Only Rhodes (37-42-1 with two teams) and Edwards (41-43 after going 4-12 with the injury-depleted Jets in'05) are sub-.500.

These men have done well not because they are black but because they were highly qualified by the time opportunity knocked.

History reveals progress is not progress until those in power see it as progress. The hirings this off-season serve as a potent reminder — even if Al bucks the trend.

Monte Poole can be reached at (510) 208-6461 or by e-mail at

USC's Matt Leinart Selects Sports Agent Leigh Steinberg

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who guided Southern California to a 37-2 record during the past three seasons, will be represented by agents Leigh Steinberg and Chuck Price in upcoming contract negotiations.

"Matt is a dominating franchise quarterback who should be picked at the top of the first round," Steinberg said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Steinberg has represented the first pick in NFL draft eight times. Several past standout quarterbacks including Hall of Famer Steve Young, Warren Moon and Troy Aikman were among his clients. He represents current starting quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Brunell.

Steinberg and Price will work with Air 7, Leinart's management team.

Leinart announced last week that the talent and literary agency Creative Artists Agency would represent him for his off-field business ventures.

"With the combined team of CAA, Chuck, Leigh, and Air 7, I am confident that my business affairs are in the very best hands," Leinart said. "This gives me the freedom to focus on becoming the best football player I can be."

Leinart is expected to be one of the first three players chosen in the April 29 draft, along with USC running back Reggie Bush and Texas quarterback Vince Young. Bush won the 2005 Heisman, with Young finishing second in the voting and Leinart third.

SUPER BOWL XL To Reach More Viewer in Europe - NFL

From the NFL:

SUPER BOWL XL will reach more viewers in Europe than ever before following the signing of two new network broadcast agreements, giving the NFL high-level presence in its three major European markets of Germany, the United Kingdom and France, it was announced today.

In Germany, the Super Bowl XL action from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on Sunday February 5 will be aired live on ARD. It will be the first time that the No. 1 network in the country has broadcast the finale of the NFL season.

For the first time, Super Bowl will be aired on terrestrial network in France, following an agreement with France Television, which will show the game live on France 2, the second largest station in the country. In the United Kingdom, the NFL is in the second year of a three-year deal with ITV, the biggest commercial network in Europe.

JIM CONNELLY, Managing Director of NFL Europe, said: "We are very excited about securing such highprofile broadcast partners in our three key European markets. This level of exposure is unprecedented for any American sports event in Europe.

"The key to the growth of our NFL business is exposure to a mass audience and these agreements give us a great platform upon which to build. Super Bowl is the NFL's showcase event and is like no other sporting event in the world, with its mixture of show business, music and exciting action on the field. We hope that many new people will become interested in the NFL after having the chance to watch this year’s game. We are excited about the opportunity of growing our sport in conjunction with these partners in years to come."

ARD will have a 15-man crew in Detroit to broadcast the game. In the booth as color commentator will be German-born offensive lineman TOM NÜTTEN, a Super Bowl XXXIV winner with the St Louis Rams. France 2's coverage will be anchored from their studios in Paris, where the station is hosting the NFL's official Paris Super Bowl party, featuring performances by the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders.

ITV’s coverage will be co-hosted from Ford Field, where former Pittsburgh Steelers running back MERRIL HOGE will be one of the game analysts, and from London, with Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DHANI JONES a studio guest, along with World Cup-winning England rugby captain MARTIN JOHNSON. The game also will be screened live in the UK by long-time NFL broadcast partner Sky Sports, whose show will feature Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX winner SHAUN GAYLE, and will air live on BBC Radio
Five Live.