Quick Takes

          Last week was all baseball. This week is all football.


          Through the first four weeks this season, four NFL teams are still undefeated. However, a closer look will tell you that their stats are not as impressive as you may have thought. Not one of the four teams has played a single team with a winning record thus far this season. To carry it a step further, the combined records of their opposition is as follows:

Cincinnati Bengals            4-0    Combined record of opposition is 3-10.

Indianapolis Colts            4-0    Combined record of opposition is 5-9.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers     4-0    Combined record of opposition is 3-12.

Washington Redskins       3-0    Combined record of opposition is 5-6.

          At this point in the season, the most impressive team is the Denver Broncos. They’re 3-1. Their opposition’s combined record is 8-7. The Broncos are the only winning team in the NFL whose combined opposition is in the plus column.          


Eli Manning had a great game Sunday against St. Louis; everyone should have a great game offensively against the Rams. He’s going to be a star in the NFL ala his father and his brother. But I take exception to the way he manipulated the Chargers and the NFL to wind up in N.Y. in the 2004 draft. John Elway manipulated the NFL the very same way, and I never respected him for it either.


Not like O. J. The Buffalo Bills drafted him, and he went. He didn’t complain; he did it because it was the right thing to do. And he’s still doing the right thing; after 10 years, he’s still methodically searching for the guy who killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman……………on every five-star golf course he can find.


          No NFL player is more worthy of respect than Donovan McNabb. He had flaky Terrell Owens to deal with in the off-season; he still has flaky Terrell Owens to deal with. He is as hurt as it gets without being on injured reserve. The Eagles were down 17-0 to the Chiefs on Sunday in K.C., and McNabb came back to pick the Chiefs apart. McNabb is a stud!


          The San Diego Chargers went cross-country to play the Patriots in N.E., and totally demolished them. The Chargers played a great game. However, in addition to the loss of two coordinators and several starters this season, the Patriots could have suffered as well on Sunday from a major letdown after their come-from-behind win at Pittsburgh the week before. Don’t count the defending champs out yet; the Pats are a great organization.


          Congratulations to my favorite team, the New Orleans Saints, on their win Sunday in San Antonio. They’re 2-2 now. Other than the few games they play in Baton Rouge, every game they play this season is ostensibly a road game. If they make the playoffs, it will be a major accomplishment.


          They were terrible in Chicago. They were terrible in St. Louis. They have been terrible in Phoenix. They are the Arizona Cardinals and their terrible (and filthy rich) ownership, the Bidwills. But in a new environment last Sunday, namely Mexico City, they are undefeated at 1-0. Of course, it did  help that they played the hapless semi-pro team from San Francisco, but they nonetheless have a perfect record en la ciudad de Mexico. I suspect Phoenix fans would like them to stay there.


          I wrote a Quick Take some time ago about the fact that the NFL should give strong consideration to putting a team in Mexico City. Millions of people, large corporations to buy premium suites, beautiful women; it’s perfect. And 103+ thousand came out for the game on Sunday. If the likes of Arizona and San Francisco can sell that many tickets, it proves my point.


          It’s not just the brain surgeons in the Sunday night NFL booth on ESPN, although they are guilty of it more than any broadcast team. Too many announcing teams do it. If they want to make a dramatic point about a player or a team, they often state that “he’s the best in the league” or “they’re the best in the league” at whatever the subject is. It’s a weak and trite editorial. Pay attention to it as you listen to the telecasts, and you’ll see what I mean.


          Each time I determine Brett Favre is ready to step down, he does what he did Monday night. He was brilliant against Carolina in another losing effort, but Monday night certainly wasn’t his fault. Favre should buy his receivers a gift of function..................Elmer’s Glue-All.      


Story of the Week


          Elvin Hayes closed out a glorious 16-year career in 1984. He was second in all-time minutes played, third in total games played, fourth in total rebounds, and sixth in career scoring. Those rankings have changed down through the years, but you get the picture. The “Big E” was 6’-9” and 235, and had an unstoppable turnaround jump shot, both along the baseline at close range as well as outside the paint at long range. Hayes was one of the finest shooting big men in all of basketball history.

          Durability seemed the hallmark of Hayes’ professional career, and only a handful of high scoring big men ever lasted longer and performed at his level for so many years. The result was some of the hottest career numbers in the NBA record book. Besides nearly 30,000 points and all those games and minutes played, Elvin was absolutely relentless on the boards.

          During a brief four-year tour with the expansion Rockets in San Diego and Houston, Hayes enjoyed little teammate support that might supplement his own efforts. He dominated in ’68-‘69 as a rookie with league-best totals in scoring average, points, minutes played, and field goals attempted and made, while at the same time his team languished as a NBA also-ran.

          Once he hooked up with the Bullets of Baltimore and Washington in the ‘70s, and he teamed with fellow work-horses ala Wes Unseld, Mike Riordan, Phil Chenier and Kevin Porter, it was an altogether different story. Hayes proved himself a durable winner at mid-career when he carried the Bullets (along with Unseld) to three NBA Finals in ’75, ’78 and ’79, earned one championship ring in ’78, and in the process emerged as the all-time franchise leader in both scoring and shot-blocking. His final three pro years were spent back with the Houston Rockets.

          As remarkable as Hayes was in the NBA, he was even more of a superstar during his years in the college ranks at the University of Houston. There is no more storied instance of one-on-one duals in college annals than the one involving Elvin Hayes and UCLA’s franchise center, Lew Alcindor. The two locked for the first and most memorable time on January 20, 1968, during a highly promoted contest staged for a national television audience in the Houston Astrodome. This collegiate game attracted a record arena audience of 52,693. Houston won because of Elvin’s 39 points, and a pair of game-deciding free throws. Alcindor’s injury that night also prevented a true test between the two superstars. Were it not for Alcindor, Hayes might well have been considered the dominant collegiate player of the decade of the ‘60s. In Hayes’ senior college season, 1968, he did earn the title of National Player of the Year.

          The “Big E” is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.


Last Week’s Trivia

          Willie Mays hit his first MLB home run off the great lefty Warren Spahn of the Boston Braves in 1951.


Trivia Question of the Week

          What MLB Hall of Famer was on the cover of the very first issue of Sports Illustrated? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.