Weekly Replay 09.21

Kobe…! – 

Since 1996 kids on playgrounds have shouted Kobe when taking big shots.  (Okay adults living their dreams at gyms and YMCAs do it too.) During Game 2 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, we heard it on a NBA court.  With the team wearing their Black Mamba Jerseys to honor the late Kobe Bryant, Lakers center Anthony Davis hit the game-winning 3 point at the buzzer.  After it went through the nets he yelled, “Kobe!”

What did Lakers Coach Frank Vogel have to say?

“That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. To me, AD coming off just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it’s a Mamba shot.”

Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is tomorrow at 9 pm ET on TNT.  The Lakers are leading the series 2-0.

Big Ten FOMO   

The Big Ten football schedule is out.  After announcing that it would not have a season this fall because of the coronavirus, the Power Five football conference called an audible last week and announced that it was reinstating its season beginning October 24.  Each school will play eight games with the conference championship on December 19.  This means the Big Ten will conclude its season on the eve of Selection Day for College Football Playoff.

I guess watching the SEC play was just too much.  The thought of the bowl games and national championships happening without the Big Ten in the conversation was agonizing.  Then there was the reality of the loss of revenue.  Compound that with political pressure and Big Ten football was back.   

With campuses in the Big Ten seeing cases increase and requiring students to self-quarantine, is the return to football in late October as the flu season approaches the right play?

Prime Coach – 

September 21. Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders who wore #21 during his 14-year NFL career was announced as the 21st head football coach at Jackson State University, a historically black university in Jackson, Mississippi.  Oh and Deion first broke the news on his podcast “21st and Prime.”  Yes, 21 is special to him

Sanders who had eight Pro Bowl seasons and is on the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team was also a center fielder in MLB for nine years.  He is the only athlete to have played in a Super Bowl and a World Series.

Everyone in football knows Prime Time.  His success in sports and media including two Super Bowl rings will get the attention of recruits.  Known for his charisma and entertaining fans, Deion told the Jackson State community, “We’re going to win. We’re going to look good while we win, and we’re going to have a good time while we win.”  That’s Prime Time.  Just don’t call him that now because he only wants to be addressed as Coach Prime.  

Trick Kick –

Everyone is talking about the Falcons collapse on Sunday.  They had the Dallas Cowboys scoreless until the 2nd quarter and was ahead until the final play of the game.  Now they are in the history books for being the only NFL team to have 39 or more points and no turnovers to lose a game.  I don’t want want to talk about that.  I want to look at the other side of the ball and the anatomy of Dallas’ onside kick.

The Cowboys pulled out a crafty play from their Special Teams playbook that led to a 40-39 comeback victory over the Falcons.  Ironically in a game of speed, bullet passes and hard hits the game changer was absent of all of that. The Cowboys were trailing by two points after scoring a touchdown and getting the extra point with less than two minutes in the game.  An onside kick was expected, but I knew something was different when I noticed that Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein put the football directly on the ground; not on a tee.  I hadn’t seen that in college or pro football.  Is he really kicking without a tee?  He did.

We’re accustomed to seeing kickers run, take big steps and have a lot of momentum as their feet strike the ball.  Even with an onside kick, the ball gets a nice boot to go in the air and bounce a couple of times to go diagonally across the field.  The goal is to give the kicking team time to rush and recover the ball.  Zuerlein didn’t have to move toward the ball for his kick.  He stood right by the ball and gently tapped it.  It was so soft that I was thinking the Cowboys were stuck with a botched kick.  The ball rolled so slowly that Cowboys players were just waiting to greet it at 10 yards.  It passed some Falcons players who didn’t know what to do as it nonchalantly made its way to the mark to become a live ball.  It got there and Jerry’s World, with the largest NFL crowd of the season so far, went crazy as Dallas recovered the ball with 1:49 left in the game.  That set the Cowboys up for victory in their home opener. 

No botched kick here.  A strategic, unorthodox onside kick that confused the Falcons and got the dub.  This wasn’t Atlanta collapsing; give Dallas credit for a comeback.  Dem ‘Boys did it.

Game On,

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