The Eagles and Cowboys are both 9-6. Where would the Eagles be without Jeff Garcia? Probably 6-9. Where would the Cowboys be without Terrell Owens? Probably 11-4.
Itís not over yet in the NFL, primarily due to the wild card races. The NFL was the first league to ever use the wild card format. When the league realigned into two conferences of three divisions each in 1970, it wanted an even four-team playoff field in each conference. This was established by having the three division champions in each conference joined by the best second-place finisher in the conference. To be sure, the wild card concept in the NFL (and all major sports) has been and is worth mega-millions!
Itís thought provoking time. Who should be the NFLís MVP this season? Should it be LaDainian Tomlinson or Drew Brees? Or should it be someone other than the two leading candidates?
Before you answer, I have another question for you to consider. What does MVP really mean? Thatís the key question, a question that has never been answered clearly in any sport. The appropriate definition is very debatable; the answer will vary from person to person. For example, there are some who argue that playing on a championship team is the first requisite, which Iíve always felt is ridiculous, but thatís only my opinion.
Iím not stating here that Tomlinson and Brees arenít worthy, but I am stating here that I can make a case for others as well based on their accomplishments this season.
No debating this one. The 2006 NFL Coach of the Year is Sean Payton, first year head coach of New Orleans. The Saints were dead and dead last in the NFC South in 2005 at 3-13, the second worst record in the NFL. Need I go any further? If I do, where have you been all season?
For most of this season, Reggie Bush struggled from the RB position. I wrote earlier that he should be used as a slot back or wide receiver on offense, but not running the football and trying to crack the line. I hereby state that I was only 100% wrong! Thatís why Sean Payton coaches the Saints, and I donít.
Story of the Week
Floyd Patterson was raised in Brooklyn, got into trouble early, and at age 10 was sent to a juvenile facility, where he learned to box. He was 17 when he won the Olympic Gold Medal as a middleweight, and 21 when he became professional heavyweight champion of the world, beating Archie Moore for the title in 1956. No fighter has ever won the undisputed championship at a younger age, although Mike Tyson became champion at age 20.
After defending his title four times, a 1959 championship match against Swedish slugger Ingemar Johansson was widely considered a powder-puff fight that Patterson would win easily. But the Swede knocked Patterson to the mat seven times, until Patterson's wife begged the referee to stop the match, and Johansson was declared the new champ.
John Wayne had front-row seats for that fight, and as the ref awarded Johansson the crown, the battered Patterson looked over the ropes directly into the Duke's eyes. "This famous American hero had come to watch me fight, and I was losing the title to another country," Patterson said. "It was the most embarrassing moment of my life."
Johansson, dubbed "The Hammer of Thor," met Patterson again the following year, and with a fifth-round KO, Patterson became the first heavyweight to regain the title. After raising his arms in victory, Patterson saw that the unconscious Johansson's left leg was twitching in spasms. He quickly knelt at Johansson's side and held him in his arms until the doctors arrived.
Photos of that moment endeared Patterson to fans worldwide, especially Swedish fans, and solidified his nickname as "the gentleman of boxing". Nine months after their second match, the two men met one final time, Patterson winning by knockout in the sixth.
Through the late 1950s, Patterson's championship was dogged by his unwillingness to fight an up-and-coming prison-taught thug named Sonny Liston. When they finally met in 1962, Liston won with two left hooks and a right to knock out Patterson, two minutes and six seconds into the first round. According to legend, Patterson was so ashamed he snuck out of the arena in disguise, under a fake beard and mustache. In a 1963 rematch with Liston, it was again lights out for Patterson in the first round.
In a later comeback attempt in 1965, he fought Muhammad Ali, whom newspapers still persisted to call Cassius Clay. In a pre-fight interview, Patterson said, "This fight is a crusade to reclaim the title from the Black Muslims. As a Catholic, I am fighting Clay as a patriotic duty. I am going to return the crown to America." Ali toyed with Patterson for nine rounds before winning.
Patterson was 37 when he entered the ring for the last time, and as fate would have it, also against Muhammad Ali on Sept. 20, 1972. He stayed even with Ali for the first four rounds, but a bad cut opened up over his right eye, and the ring doctor stopped the fight after the eighth round.
As a professional, Patterson had 55 wins, 40 by knockout, with eight losses and one draw.
In 1998, while serving on the New York State Athletic Commission, Patterson was unable to remember who he had fought to first win the title, or even his aide's name. He said he did not sleep well the night before, and that his memory was spotty. He subsequently resigned from the Commission.
Floyd Patterson, 71, died May 11 of this year at his home in New Paltz, N.Y. He had Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.
Floyd Patterson was far from the greatest heavyweight champ ever. As a matter of fact, in another era he would never have won that belt; he actually was more a light-heavyweight. He proved he was no match for the Alis and Listons of the ring. However, I will remember him as being as classy a man as any who ever participated in sports.
Last Weekís Trivia
The three fine running backs on the Dallas Cowboysí great 1971 Super Bowl VI winning team were Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison. 1971 was also the year Roger Staubach won the starting QB job, and he added 343 yards rushing.
Trivia Question of the Week
What MLB player once got six hits in one gameÖÖÖÖagainst six different pitchers? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.