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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Agree With Cold Hard Football Facts!

The definitive list: Top 10 NFL quarterbacks
Cold, Hard Football Facts for January 24, 2008

By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts issuer of edicts

There’s a lot of talk lately about Tom Brady’s status among the all-time greats, especially as he prepares for Super Bowl XLII, his every move hounded by the paparazzi in a way no quarterback has experienced since Broadway Joe rocked the Apple 40 years ago.

Is the New England signal-caller the best ever at his position? All the “pundits” and talking heads are asking the same question.

You will not find a bigger group of Tom Brady rump-swabs than the Cold, Hard Football Facts crew. But best ever?

Sorry folks. Not yet.

He’s definitely worked his way onto the short list, there’s no denying that fact. And he has pieced together the greatest first eight years by a quarterback in NFL history.

But let’s remember, there have been a few other fair country quarterbacks in the nearly 70 years since it evolved into the position we know it today (primary passer and signal caller).

So where does Brady rank among the best ever? The ultimate Top 10 list appears below.

Our list will differ than most others. These lists normally begin with inherent human biases and are created by people who believe John Elway invented football at Stanford in 1982. Let’s put it this way: if Dan Fouts is on a Top 10 list of best quarterbacks ever and not, say, Otto Graham or Sammy Baugh, the author is a moron.

Fortunately, the Cold, Hard Football Facts have memories as long as the trail of humiliation we suffered at the hands of the cool kids in high school. So our list spans the full breadth of the position, measuring passers in several key areas: statistical production (in the context of their era), intangibles such as leadership, impact on a team's fortunes and, of course, championships. As we've long noted, passers who play well in the postseason win games. Passers who do not play well in the postseason lose games. So, championships, particularly multiple championships, are often a pretty solid indicator of a quarterback who consistently played well in big games.

There will be bitching and moaning about who made the cut and who didn’t. But that's part of the fun of these lists, isn't it? Plus, just ask yourself – who would you pull of this list to make room for your favorite quarterback, especially considering that, if he's not on this list, he doesn't belong on this list. (Apologies to the greats who came closest to making our list: Dan Marino, Sid Luckman, Norm Van Brocklin, Terry Bradshaw, Sonny Jurgensen, Y.A. Tittle and John Elway.)

Here, then, is the list of the 10 best quarterbacks in NFL history. Keep in mind that all other lists are wrong. Only this list is correct.

10. BRETT FAVRE (Atlanta, 1991; Green Bay, 1992-present)
Best season (1996): 325 for 543 (59.9%), 3,899 yards, 7.2 YPA, 39 TD, 13 INT, 95.8 passer rating
Career: 5,377 for 8,758 (61.4%), 61,657 yards, 7.0 YPA, 442 TD, 288 INT, 85.7 passer rating
Championships: 1996
Overview: All you need to know about Favre is this: he holds every single volume passing number in NFL history: completions, attempts, yards, TDs and even INTs.

And for a three-year period from 1995 to 1997, he played the position as well (and as excitingly) as any passer in history, tossing 112 TD passes to 42 INT.

Despite it all, he might not have even made the list if we published this back in August. He had been a mediocre (in 2000 and 2006) to even a bad quarterback (2005) over many of the past several seasons. But he responded with perhaps the greatest statistical season of his career here in 2007 – no small feat for a 38-year-old warrior who guided his young team into the NFC championship game for the first time in 10 years. Of course, shades of the “Old Yeller” Favre haunted Green Bay in that game, as he tossed a critical pick in OT that handed the Giants an easy opportunity to score the game-winning points. There have been a handful of disastrous postseason “gunslinger’ moments over the past decade – and they’re the only thing keeping Favre, the most productive passer in history, from earning a spot much higher on the list.

9. PEYTON MANNING (Indianapolis, 1998-present)
Best season (2004): 336 for 497 (67.6%), 4,557 yards, 9.2 YPA, 49 TD, 10 INT, 121.1 passer rating
Career: 3,468 for 5,405 (64.2%), 41,626, 7.7 YPA, 306 TD, 153 INT, 94.7 passer rating
Championships: 2006
Overview: What else can you say? Manning has basically done everything faster than every quarterback in the history of football – even faster than the original QB stat monster, Dan Marino.

Here’s how their careers stack up after 10 NFL seasons:

Manning: 3,468 for 5,405 (64.2%), 41,626, 7.7 YPA, 306 TD, 153 INT, 94.7 passer rating
Marino: 3,128 for 5,284, (59.2%), 39,502, 7.5 YPA, 290 TD, 165 INT, 87.8 passer rating

Manning bests Marino in every single category at this point in their careers and, most importantly, in the efficiency categories (completion percentage, YPA, passer rating). All of which, of course, puts Manning on pace to shatter every single passing record in the history of the game. And, don’t forget, Marino played his best ball early in his career. His best season was his second. Manning continues to pick up steam. As of today, Manning has the second best career passer rating in NFL history (94.7), with record-holder Steve Young (96.8) well in his sites.

The knock on Manning has always been that he doesn’t play well in the postseason. That argument became harder to make after he picked up a Super Bowl title – and Super Bowl MVP award – last season. But save for an utterly brilliant second half against his former nemesis New England, he did struggle even during his Super Bowl-winning postseason run. It’s the only thing keeping him right now at No. 9. But the sky remains the limit for the most productive passer we’ve ever seen.

He’s also one of the great NFL ironmen: Manning has NEVER missed a game in a pro career that began a decade ago and now numbers 160 consecutive starts in 160 opportunities (174 including postseason).

A couple more brilliant seasons – and more importantly, another ring or two – and Manning could find himself at the top of the list.

8. STEVE YOUNG (Tampa Bay, 1985-86; San Francisco, 1987-99)
Best season (1994): 324 for 461, 70.3%, 3,969 yards, 8.6 YPA, 35 TD, 10 INT, 112.8 passer rating
Career: 2,667 for 4,149, 64.3, 33,124, 8.0 YPA, 232, 107, 96.8 passer rating
Championships: 1994
Overview: Young had the misfortune of playing in the shadow of Joe Cool. It makes it easy to forget that, at the height of his powers, Young may have been the most unstoppable quarterback in the history of the game.

Young led the league in passer rating an unequaled six times, including four straight seasons from 1991 to 1994, and topped the 100 passer-rating mark in all four of those seasons. Every single one of those marks are unequaled.

To put those above-100-rating seasons into perspective, modern great and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Brett Favre NEVER topped the 100 passer-rating mark. The Cold, Hard Football Facts also put a lot of stock in the easier-to-understand (and equally effective) passing yards per attempt figure. And over those four years, Young averaged 8.71 yards every time he attempted to pass. To put THAT mark in perspective – and pigskin perspective is what we’re all about – the brilliant Peyton Manning has topped 8.71 YPA in a single season just once (2004).

The period of dominance was highlighted by the greatest Super Bowl performance in history: a 67-percent, 325 yard, 6-TD, 0 INT explosion in a 49-26 victory over overwhelmed San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX.

And let’s not forget: Young was the best ballcarrier in our list of Top 10 QBs. He rushed for 43 TDs – no other QB on our list comes close – including an impressive 17 in his four-year run of dominance.

It didn’t end there: Young also led the league in passer rating in 1996 and 1997, though he played in just 12 games in 1996. The knocks against Young are well-known: he struggled early in his career, he was injured often late (he played a full 16 games just three times in 15 seasons) and won just one Super Bowl. But two potential Super Bowl titles were stymied by a dynastic Dallas team (and Young did not play poorly in those games). But over the course of the 1990s, nobody approximated Young's brilliance.

7. ROGER STAUBACH (Dallas, 1969-79)
Best season (1971): 126 for 211 (59.7%), 1,882 yards, 8.9 YPA, 15 TD, 4 INT, 104.8 passer rating
Career: 1,685 for 2,958 (57.0%), 22,700 yards, 7.7 YPA, 153 TD, 109 INT, 83.4 passer rating
Championships: 1971, 1977
Overview: Roger the Dodger did not become a fulltime NFL quarterback until the 1971 season – at age 29! One wonders what he might have done had he not spent five years in the service after his Heisman-winning 1963 season at Navy and two years sitting behind Craig Morton in Dallas.

Finally given a chance, he quickly proved to be a player for the ages. He took a Dallas club that “couldn’t win the big game” (five crushing playoff losses in five straight seasons, including three in NFL championship games or the Super Bowl) and turned it into a champion and “America’s Team” in his first full year at the helm.

In that 1971 season he played something of a caretaker role, attempting just 211 passes for 1,882 yards, but he tossed 15 TDs to just 4 INTs, averaged an astounding 8.9 YPA and posted a passer rating of 104.8, the second highest of the Dead Ball Era. It’s a truly remarkable number considering the season in which he did it. The league-wide passer rating in 1971 was just 62.2 – the second-lowest league-wide rating since 1956. Staubach shattered the standards of the era in his first full year playing NFL football – or football of any kind since 1963.

He also ended the 1971 season with an MVP performance in Super Bowl VI (a dominating 24-3 win over the Dolphins, who would not lose again until 1973) while placing himself high up on the pigskin pantheon of heroes who have defined America’s Team.

Staubach wasn’t quite done: he added passer-rating titles in 1973, 1978 and 1979, and another Super Bowl title in 1977. He’s one Jackie Smith dropped pass away from a third championship ring – in a game which might have earned Staubach and the Cowboys, not the Steelers, the title of team of the decade in the 1970s.

He also was a great scrambler and ballcarrier who rushed for 20 scores and 2,264 yards on 410 attempts. Most impressive: he played all but two years of his career in the depths of the Dead Ball Era, yet still racked up a career passer rating of 83.4 – No. 1 all time among pre-1980 quarterbacks.

Not bad for a guy who spent five years in the Navy during Vietnam.

6. JOHNNY UNITAS (Baltimore Colts, 1956-72; San Diego, 1973)
Best season (1959): 193 for 367 (52.6%), 2,899 yards, 7.9 YPA, 32 TD, 14 INT, 92.0 passer rating
Career: 2,830 for 5,186 (54.6%), 40,239 yards, 7.8 YPA, 290 TD, 253 TD, 78.2 passer rating
Championships: 1958, 1959, 1970
Overview: Remember George Shaw? No?

Blame Johnny Unitas, a name that reeks of leathery, blood-and-spittle football lore. Shaw was the Wally Pipp to Johnny U’s Lou Gehrig; or, more appropriately for the gridiron-inclined, the Drew Bledsoe to Johnny’s U’s Tom Brady.

Shaw was Baltimore’s stud first-round draft pick in 1955 – the upstart organization’s quarterback of the future. Unitas was Pittsburgh’s unheralded 9th-round draft pick that same year, cut by the lowly Steelers in training camp and then acquired by Baltimore off the Pittsburgh semi-pro sandlot circuit the following season as some cheap insurance behind Shaw.

The starter Shaw went down with a broken leg early in the 1956 season. In stepped Unitas. The rest, as they say, is legendary.

In 1957, his first full NFL campaign, Unitas pieced together one of the era’s greatest passing seasons (24 TD, 8.5 YPA, 88.0 passer rating). He followed it with an even more effective season in 1958 – a season that ended with Unitas leading the first-ever overtime drive and walking off victorious in what may be the single-most important game in league history, Baltimore’s 23-17 win over the Giants at Yankee Stadium.

Johnny U. wasn’t quite done. His 1959 season was one for the ages – a truly remarkable 32 TD passes (to just 14 INTs) in a 12-game season, and a 92.0 passer rating. His 32 TD passes shattered Sid Luckman’s 1943 record by four.

The name Unitas is often the first that comes to mind when fans are asked to name the best quarterback of all-time. Sports Illustrated dubbed him the best ever in its cover-story tribute following his death in 2002.

So why don’t the Cold, Hard Football Facts rate him higher? Well, Unitas is certainly one of the best ever. And he had his greatest seasons early in his career, earning him a reputation as a clutch big-game QB throughout his career. But he never had a great postseason game after 1959 and, as you’ll see, was clearly the second best quarterback of the 1960s. He also had the benefit of spending his career surrounded by Hall of Famers (seven, in fact), including players destined for Canton at tackle, wide receiver, tight end and running back, and while playing for two Hall of Fame coaches (Weeb Ewbank and Don Shula).

But at the peak of his game – especially early in his career – few could hold a candle to the legend of Johnny U.

5. TOM BRADY (New England, 2000-present)
Best season (2007): 398 for 578 (68.9%), 4,806 yards, 8.3 YPA, 50 TD, 8 INT, 117.2 passer rating
Career: 2,294 for 3,642 (63.0%), 26,370 yards, 7.2 YPA, 197 TD, 86 INT, 92.9 passer rating
Championships: 2001, 2003, 2004
Overview: Overrated? Probably not. Consider that some “pundits” are already poised to proclaim Brady the best ever (perhaps pending the outcome of Super Bowl XLII next week). Also consider this: no individual in pro football history has had a greater impact on one team’s fortunes than Brady has had on the fortunes of the Patriots.
Bill Belichick was 42-58 as a head coach before Brady. He’s 100-26 since.
The Patriots organization won just 98 football games in the 14 seasons from 1987 to 2000. They’ve won 100 in the seven years since.
The Patriots won seven postseason games in the 41 seasons from 1960 to 2000. They’ve won 14 postseason games in the seven years since.
The Patriots did not win a single championship in their first 41 seasons. They’re on the verge of their fourth in the past seven seasons.
The organization fortunes lit up like a air-raid klieg light the day Brady stepped on the field. Suffice it to say, Brady’s first six years in the NFL were incredibly eventful: three Super Bowl championships, two Super Bowl MVP awards, a record 21-game win streak, a TD passing title (28 in 2002, his first full season as a starter) and a passing yardage title (4,110 in 2005).

And then came 2007, in what could go down as the season by which all others will be measured: a record 50 TD passes (to just 8 picks), 4,860 yards, third most all time, 117.2 passer rating, second best all time, and, of course, the chance to become the first quarterback to lead a team to a 19-0 record. There’s been no season in history that combined raw, dizzying numbers with the ultimate stat: victories.

And, after eight years in the NFL, there’s been no career in history that combined raw, dizzying numbers with the ultimate stat. Brady’s career passer rating of 92.9 is the fourth-best in history, and he's the only cold-weather quarterback anywhere near the top. He’s rapidly climbing up the statistical charts in every area, and his 100-26 (.794) record as a starter is unmatched.

There’s also been one clutch fourth-quarter performance after another, almost single-handedly capturing victory from what appeared to be certain defeat time and again. Brady, like Manning, has the potential to move high up the list. And matching Joe Montana’s four titles and winning them in just eight years in the NFL (it took Montana 11 seasons) will make it hard to keep Brady out of the No. 1 spot. He's clearly on pace to one day make that claim.

4. OTTO GRAHAM (Cleveland 1946-55)
Best NFL season (1953): 167 for 258 (64.7%), 2,722 yards, 10.6 YPA, 11 TD, 9 INT, 99.7 passer rating
Career (includes AAFC career): 1,464 for 2,626 (55.8%), 23,584 yards, 9.0 YPA, 174 TD, 135 INT, 86.6 passer rating
Championships: AAFC 1946-49; NFL 1950, 1954, 1955
Overview: Otto Graham was Tom Brady before Tom Brady, putting up gaudy numbers for his time while winning games and championships at an unprecedented rate. He led the Browns to a championship in all four years of the AAFC’s existence (1946-49). But he and the Browns proved they belonged in the big leagues by capturing the NFL title in their first year in the league.

In fact, they’d go on to set a record that still stands, appearing in six straight NFL championship games from 1950 to 1955, winning three of them. Bottom line: Graham played in a pro football championship game every single season of his 10-year career, winning seven of them in two different leagues.

He also set passing marks that stood for decades. His 86.6 passer rating, for example, is the top mark of the pre-Live Ball Era. And his career 9.0 YPA is No. 1 by a sizable margin.

So why, then, isn’t Graham higher on the list?

His four years in the AAFC make for some awkward comparisons. There’s every reason to believe the Browns would have been a dominant NFL team over those four years, but little reason to believe they would have won four straight championships. Graham’s numbers also declined pretty noticeably when he went to the NFL, from simply unbelievable to merely spectacular. His career 9.0 YPA average, for example, drops to 8.63 if we look only at his NFL numbers. Of course, that 8.63 YPA mark is the best in NFL history, too.

The full measure of Graham’s impact is this: the organization has never recovered from his departure at the end of the 1955 season. Sure, they remained competitive through the Jim Brown years (1957-65), winning a championship in 1964.

But that’s the only championship the organization won since Graham last took a snap for the Browns.

3. SAMMY BAUGH (Washington, 1937-52)
Best season (1945): 128 for 182 (70.3%), 1,669 yards, 9.2 YPA, 11 TD, 4 INT, 109.9 passer rating
Career: 1,693 for 2,995 (56.5%), 21,886 yards, 7.3 YPA, 187 TD, 203 INT, 72.2 passer rating
Championships: 1937, 1942
Overview: Here’s a little rule of thumb: if you ever see a list of greatest quarterbacks (or greatest players, period) that doesn’t include the Pigskin Messiah, burn the author of said heresy at the stake. Seriously. Public execution.

We paid Baugh the ultimate compliment two years ago when we named him the quarterback of our peerless All-Time 11. We even listed his 1945 campaign as one of the greatest Old School seasons in NFL history a couple weeks ago.

You could make an argument that he’s the best athlete in NFL history (we’re not making the argument here, but you could). He certainly can stake a claim as the most accomplished two-way player in the history of the game. He was a devastating defensive back (31 career picks) and still stands as one of the most spectacular punters in the history of the game – as evidenced by his tremendous 45.1 career punting average, second only to Oakland’s current punter Shane Lechler.

But we’re talking quarterbacks here, and even at that position, few were as good as the man they called Slingin’ Sammy. He virtually invented the modern quarterbacking position, and put up performances that continue to stand the statistical test of time. (For the record, while researching the 1942 NFL championship game between the Redskins and Bears, Baugh was actually listed as a “left halfback” in the papers. But he’s really one of the first players we’d identify as a passer, as the nickname Slingin’ Sammy suggests).

His 70.3 completion percentage in 1945 has been surpassed just once (by Ken Anderson, in 1982), and his 109.9 passer rating that season stood as the second-best in league history until Joe Montana surpassed it in 1989. How impressive is that? Consider that the league-wide passer rating in 1945 was just 47.4 – Baugh more than doubled the league-wide mark!

We can only imagine what kind of numbers the Pigskin Messiah might have produced had he played only offense today, in an era that favored passers.

Baugh was also a two-time champion who led the greatest upset in NFL history. In the 1942 title game, his Redskins toppled the undefeated Bears, 14-6. Keep in mind that the 1942 Bears are the only club in history more dominant over the course of an entire season than the 2007 Patriots.

Are you listening, Eli?

2. JOE MONTANA (San Francisco, 1979-92; Kansas City, 1993-94)
Best season (1989): 271 for 386 (70.2%), 3,521 yards, 9.12 YPA, 26 TD, 8 INT, 112.4 passer rating
Career: 3,409 for 5,391 (63.2%), 40,551 yards, 7.52 YPA, 273 TD, 139 INT, 92.3 passer rating
Championships: 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989
Overview: Sammy Baugh invented the position we know as quarterback today; performers like Johnny Unitas proved how deadly the forward pass could be. Montana gave the position the technical wizardry that defines it today, tearing apart defenses with a computer-chip brain and nerves of ice connected to a pinpoint passing arm that shredded defenses like Enron balance sheets.

Before Montana, passers attempted to stretch out defenses and beat them over the top. Montana, in perfect tandem with Paul Brown-bred offensive wizard Bill Walsh, attacked their under-protected flanks and soft underbelly. Coupled with a once-a-generation “It” factor that manifested itself in extreme poise under extreme pressure, and you have a quarterback many argue is the best of all time.

In the Super Bowl Era, it’s certainly hard to find a peer. Montana won four Super Bowl titles, an unmatched three Super Bowl MVP awards and stands as the undisputed king of Super Bowl quarterbacks, as evidenced by his staggering 127.8 passer rating in four apperances in the spotlight game in North American sports.

And, in a manner befitting a legend, he orchestrated one of the most spectacular drives in NFL history – an edge-of-the-seat 92-yard drive in Super Bowl XXIII that Cincinnati appeared helpless to stop (aided by a dropped INT) and that he capped with a 10-yard thread-through-a-needle TD pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining.

In his spectacular 1989 season, he completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 3,521 yards and 26 TDs, to just 8 INTs. His 112.4 passer rating that season stood as the best of all time until surpassed by Peyton Manning in 2004. His career 92.3 passer rating remains No. 5 in NFL history, just 0.6 points behind his statistical alter-ego, Tom Brady.

1. BART STARR (Green Bay, 1956-71)
Best season (1966): 156 for 251 (62.2%), 2,257 yards, 9.0 YPA, 14 TD, 3 INT, 105.0 passer rating
Career: 1,808 for 3,149 (57.4%), 24,718 yards, 7.8 YPA, 152 TD, 138 INT, 80.5 passer rating
Championships: 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967
Overview: That’s right. Bart Starr. The greatest quarterback in the history of the game.

Sit down and take notes:

History has done a grave disservice to the legacy of Starr, the 17th-round draft pick out of pre-Bear Bryant Alabama who turned into the most clutch and most cruelly efficient passing assassin of his or any other generation.

History remembers Starr’s legendary coach, and the bevy of Hall of Fame talent that surrounded him. It forgets that Starr was Lombardi’s second in command, a tremendous big-game performer, and that the Packers of the 1960s would have been just another team without the prolific Starr as their beloved on-field leader. Instead, they won five NFL championships, with Starr at the helm of every single one of those title teams, while he crafted an NFL-record 9-1 postseason mark. The rings say it all: Starr is the only quarterback in history who has one for every finger on his throwing hand.

And even if you listen to teammates today, they make it pretty clear that they would have fallen on a grenade for Starr. Leadership is an elemental piece of quarterbacking – probably more important than gaudy passing stats. And that love his teammates had for their field general is an incredible sign of his leadership.

But forget, for a moment, the team accomplishments and the “intangibles” of leadership.

If you want to talk passing and statistics, we’ll put Starr up against anybody. Anybody.

He led the NFL in passer rating five times. Johnny Unitas led the league in passer rating just twice. Ditto Joe Montana. Only Steve Young surpassed Starr’s mark (six).

And, lest we forget, Starr was the best postseason passer in NFL history, as evidenced by his record 104.8 playoff passer rating and 1.41 percent interception rate, also a postseason record (CHFF readers are well aware of the importance of not throwing picks in the playoffs). Starr played in an era when 80 was a decent passer rating. Yet he still performed more efficiently in the playoffs than folks such as Montana, Brady, Manning, Marino, Young and … well, anybody, ever.

There’s a cause and effect here, folks: NFL’s greatest dynasty, only winners of three-straight title games, and a record 9-1 postseason mark. And there, underlying it all, is Starr with his postseason passing records. The two are intricately intertwined.

History also remembers Starr’s Packers as a great running team, and that’s certainly true of their earlier years. But the truth is that they typically passed the ball more effectively than they ran it, especially during their run of three straight, when they were a below-average running team.

In their 1965 championship season, the Packers were 11th in the 14-team league with an average of 3.4 yards per rushing attempt. They were second in the league, with an average of 8.2 yards per passing attempt.

In their 1966 championship season, the Packers were 14th in the 15-team league, with an average of 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. They were first in the league, with an average of 8.9 yards per passing attempt.

In their 1967 championship season, the Packers were 4th in the 16-team league, with an average of 4.0 yards per rushing attempt. They were first in the league, with an average of 8.3 yards per passing attempt (Starr himself that season averaged 8.7 YPA).

Starr averaged a remarkable 7.85 YPA over the course of his entire career, the 8th-best mark in history, and better than that of a slate of quarterbacks who are generally regarded as the best passers in history, including Dan Marino (7.37), Joe Montana (7.52), Roger Staubach (7.67), Dan Fouts (7.68), Sonny Jurgensen (7.56), Fran Tarkenton (7.27), Y.A. Tittle (7.52), Terry Bradshaw (7.17) and Joe Namath (7.35).

Six times in the 1960s, Starr surpassed 8.2 YPA for a season. To put that into context, Peyton Manning has surpassed 8.2 YPA just twice in his brilliant 10-year career.

And, if you want drama, don’t forget that Starr scored the winning TD in the Ice Bowl, probably the most famous game in NFL history. Sure, Montana led his team 92 yards for the game-winning score in Super Bowl XXIII. But he did it on a 68-degree night in Miami. Turn down the thermostat by 86 degrees (it was 18-below in the fourth quarter of the Ice Bowl) and you begin to approximate the conditions under which the greatest quarterback in NFL history operated during his greatest moment in the sport’s greatest game.

And Starr was brilliant on that drive, in the decisive moments of the sport’s most famous game: he completed 5 of 5 passes in ball-busting cold, and then called a run play for the winning score. But instead of handing it off, he decided in his mind, without telling his teammates, that he was going to punch it in himself. It was only fitting: the game’s greatest signal-caller taking matters into his own hands in the sport’s signature moment.

To cap his career achievements, Starr earned MVP honors in the first two Super Bowls after shredding the best the AFL could throw his way for 452 yards on 47 passing attempts (9.6 YPA). Among those victims were the 1967 Raiders, perhaps the AFL's greatest single team. He posted a combined 106.0 passer rating in those two games. If you think it was no small feat to beat up on "upstart" AFL teams, just look at how NFL quarterbacks fared in Super Bowls III and IV. (Here's a hint: they were embarrassed.)

When it comes to a combination of leadership, victories, big-game performances and statistical supremacy nobody – NOBODY – put together a more total package than Bart Starr, the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thank God For Warm Spell And Honey Wagons

Thank God for a break in that terrible cold weather! Unfortunately it's not going to stay with us very long. Just long enough to dump some rain on us to freeze up on our county roads and porch steps.

Spent my last saturday wending my way down to the Wisconsin Dells area. I have never been enamored of that whole scene. too much of a P.T. Barnum atmosphere for my likes.

Performed for The Wisconsin Liquid Waste Carriers Association banquet. That's right -- the boys with the "honey wagons". Another case of how does one choose this as one's life's work. Do you just wake up one day and say: "Yeh, that's it! I want to suck human urine and excrement into a big tank truck for a living!"

Believe me -- It takes a special kind of person. I have been nearby when the man pops that big cement cover and your nose fills with the steam and fermentation of a hearty load. The kind of smell that Kim and I refer to as a "throat-coater".

It's one of the joys of being a country squire.

Starts me thinking about how much human waste must be generated in a city the size of New York City in just 24 hours!

At any rate, they were an appreciative audience - they obviously know good shit when they see and hear it.

It was held at Chula Vista Resort, which has really really morphed since my last appearance there. My God! It is an entire city unto itself, with underground walk ways and shops, water slides, swimming pools, restaurants and bars that serve (I found out) $7.00 margaritas.

Hell! That's New York City prices!

Luckily the house P.A. system was more than adequate and I didn't have to go through the logistics of finding the closest door to unload sound equipment and when I finished the show, it was throw the guitar in the back and head on out to Windsor (near Madison) for an overnight with my friends the Johnson boys, Stan and Tom.

They gave me a bed and bathroom in exchange for two of my pizzas for lunch on sunday.

Weird not to have a Packer game on the tube on a Sunday. Now begins the winter of our discontent! I am already near nausea over the mention of Tom Brady's name. YUK!

Certainly hope that the G-MEN can pull off an upset in the warmth of Arizona. Disappointed but not surprised that Brett has bowed out of the Pro Bowl.

Checking the clock I see I am 10 minutes away from my bank opening its doors so I'm outta here! Didn't sleep very well last night so I think it's nap time when I get back.

My friend Matt, in Itgaly sent me this one:

Very elderly gentleman, (mid nineties) very well dressed, hair well groomed, great looking suit, flower in his lapel smelling slightly of a good after shave, presenting a well looked-after image, walks into an upscale cocktail lounge. Seated at the bar is an elderly looking lady, (mid-eighties). The gentleman walks over, sits alongside of her, orders a drink, takes a sip turns to her and says, "So tell me, do I come here often?"


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dr. Tim Is Gone -- I Have Lost A Good Friend

I last saw Dr. Tim when I visited his offices for an adjustment before the holidays. Tim was in no condition to be doing chiropractic adjustments himself, having gone through treatment for cancer at Mayo Clinic. Yet there he was, taking care of office business and as usual, putting on a happy face for his friends and customers.

Yesterday I went in for an overdue adjustment with his partner Jerry Retzlaff. Jerry gave me a very good adjustment but twice he said: "A lot has happened since you were last in."

Finally he just said it. Tim had died at 4AM that morning. His spinal implant had failed completely.

I have lost a very good friend.

I first met Tim when I was teaching at North Junior High School - through his now deceased first wife Margie - we taught English together.

Tim and I became good friends through common interests. We both love WWII history and Tim was a collector of memorabilia. We also loved to go fishing.

Tim was a very generous man. He never charged me for my adjustments. In turn, I would take him on canoeing, camping/fishing trips with my beat up old canoe, and occasionally I would bring his staff pizzas.

Our favorite river to fish small mouth bass was the Jump River near Sheldon, Wisconsin. At about the half way point in the trip there was a very nice outcropping of sand stone rock that jutted out into the river -- perfect for a camp fire and cooking both supper and breakfast. Up the hill from the point, we would pitch the little two man tent amid the cedars and sleep blissfully to the sounds and smells of the river and the cedars.

One of the most unique memories I will always have of Tim was the day we were fishing on the river and had guided the canoe over to the shoreline to have the sandwiches I had prepared for our lunch.

Right in the middle of lunch, a thrush landed right on top of Tim's head. Tim looked at me and said: "Is that what I think it
is?" The bird sat there for at least 5 seconds as we both stared at each other in wonder.

I think the thrush recognized a gentle soul.

I got the call this morning to be a pall bearer. It will be a sacred honor.

Tell those that you love that you love them today, for we never know.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Letter To Mr. Seubert

Larry Heagle
4888 Hobbs Road
Fall Creek, Wisconsin 54742

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mr. Tom Seubert
Buck-A-Neer Supper Club
D1891 County Road C
Stratford, Wisconsin 54484

Dear Mr. Seubert:

My sincerest congratulations on the Giants victory yesterday in Green Bay! The G-Men deserve to be in Arizona.

I hope that Rich’s injury was not severe and that he will be able to play in the Superbowl.

I am certain that you are very very proud of him as you should be!

Even though I am a died-in-the-wool Packer fan, I want you to know that I will be cheering my heart out for the Giants in Superbowl Forty Two.

Again, congratulations and I hope you are all thawed out today!

Best wishes!

Larry Heagle

That's The Way The Old Ball Bounces -- Go G-Men!

I slept inordinately late this day after disaster in Green Bay. I guess I just didn't want to face the day. It was one of those mornings when you awaken and realize that something that happened the day before (an automobile accident? a death in the family?) is not a bad dream but in fact, a fact.

As I stumbled about half awake, I wondered how awful Brett must feel today upon awaking, if he slept at all last night. I replayed parts of the game in my head, playing the "if only" game in my head.

Truth is, there is no taking away from the magnificent season this young football team managed to put on the board with the old master leading the way.

The New York Giants deserve to be in the Superbowl. Believe me, they outplayed the Packers yesterday. They completely shut down Ryan Grant who came away with 19 yards rushing. And Eli handled the cold magnificently. He was calm and collected. Same for Plaxico Burress who made some amazing catches!

So on to the Superbowl for the G-Men. I will be cheering for them all the way.

Know what I think today? the real Packer heros of yesterday's game were the 72 thousand some fans who braved that weather and kept up the "G Force" noise the entire game. Green Bay Packer fans are the greatest!

I can't imagine how cold that ride back from Green Bay was on the many buses that made the trip. My hat is off to the fans!

Now I read this morning that Brett will quickly make a decision about whether he wants to go through all of this again next year. Selfishly, of course, I want him to continue to play. But it will be completely understandable if he decides to retire at this point. He, more than anyone, knows how difficult it is to get to the Superbowl and I don't know if he has anything left to give. If he does retire, he will have done so with nothing to prove. Not to us or himself.

He is truly legendary -- interception or not!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tales of Nelson Lake Landing

I am currently reading Steve Martin's autobiography: "Born Standing Up" and in the chapter I am reading he tells about working the Playboy Club comedy stage on a Monday night and is surprised to find he has a full house -- very unusual for a Monday night.

When he starts the show his comedy is falling on non-response. Suddenly he realizes that the audience is made up entirely of Japanese tourists who don't speak English at all.

It brings to mind the summer I am working an outdoor stage for the fourth of July at Nelson Lake Landing outside of Hayward, Wisconsin. I deliver my first punch line to utter silence. I try again with the same result.

Only then does the management sidle up to the stage and inform me that the audience is made up entirely of deaf people. That is the day that I realize I need to slow down my delivery as I watch the interpreter nearly self-immolate trying to keep up with me in hand translation.

Another fourth of July at Nelson Lake - my good friend Steve Rogers accompanies me to do some fishing in the morning before I do my show in the afternoon.

We awaken to near gale force winds on the lake and retire to the comfort of the bar where Steve proceeds to get smashed. Later, while I am doing my show on a make shift stage made up of paint scaffolding, complete with tires with kick brakes, Steve hooks up with a bunch of fellow Viet Nam vets, equally as smashed.

Half way into my show one of the vet's wives begins seriously heckling me. I take it for a while and then, when she gives me a great opportunity, I crush her with a withering line.

For a moment she stands struck numb and dumb by the line. Then her face screws up and she begins crying loudly. This, in turn enrages the vets, who begin throwing artificial limbs on stage.

The next thing I know, led by MY FRIEND STEVE, they are kicking off the brakes to the make shift stage and beginning to roll the stage towards the lake!

Luckily the management comes to my rescue.

Just another day in "show business".

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Interesting Sidelight To Championship Game -- Two Wisconsin Boys Go Up Against Each Other

State of conflict

Wisconsin sons face off


Posted: Jan. 18, 2008

East Rutherford, N.J. - Mark Tauscher and Rich Seubert grew up 10 miles apart in central Wisconsin, but for how often their paths crossed during grade school and high school, they might as well have been raised 100 miles apart.

Wisconsinite and Giant Rich Seubert, grew up 10 miles from the Packers' Mark Tauscher.

Yes, in small-town Wisconsin, everyone knows everyone else, and the fact their fathers coached grade school basketball, occasionally against one another and a couple of times with their sons opposing each other on the court, certainly makes for a good story.

Yet it would be a stretch to say their meeting Sunday at Lambeau Field - Tauscher as a right tackle for the Green Bay Packers and Seubert (pronounced SIGH-bert) as a left guard for the New York Giants - is a reunion.

It is, rather, a case of paralleled perseverance and small-town work ethic being rewarded on one of the biggest stages anyone could imagine. It is Auburndale (Tauscher) and Rozellville (Seubert), combined population less than 1,000, being represented at the NFC Championship Game.

"It's two good, hard-working kids," said Dennis Tauscher, Mark's father. "Both he and Mark are similar in that they're small-town kids who don't get a lot of fanfare. Mark was a late-round pick and Rich was a free agent. Both worked their way up the ladder.

"They come from small-town farming communities with strong work ethics."

Mark Tauscher has lived the dream so many state kids have. He played football at the University of Wisconsin, played in the Rose Bowl and was drafted by the Packers. He is in his eighth season with Green Bay and is closer to getting to a Super Bowl than at any time in his career.

It didn't come easy, though. Two years older than Seubert, he had to walk on at Wisconsin, and only a chance meeting with his offensive line coach at the Kentucky Derby, of all places, resulted in him coming back for one more season as a graduate student and getting a chance to showcase himself to the pros.

As a seventh-round pick, he was given little chance of making the team, but became a starter early in his rookie season and has remained one since, his only setback a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in 2002. Not even that could set him back, however, and he enters Sunday with the gargantuan task of having to block Giants end Michael Strahan in the biggest game of his career.

"As an offensive lineman, you want to be not seen," Tauscher said recently. "You don't want to hear your name called. I pride myself on trying to be consistent, trying to be the same player every week, and that's what I'm going to be looking for. I just want to go out and execute to the best of my abilities."

This weekend, Tauscher has the luxury of having 70,000 fans in his corner.

Seubert, he'll have about 50 or 60. That's how many tickets he was able to scrounge up from his teammates, so that his parents and various family members and friends can drive the hour and a half or so to Green Bay for the game.

If there's anyone who can handle coming into Lambeau Field in a uniform other than a Packers one, it's the gritty Seubert. After finishing high school at Marshfield Columbus, he didn't get the call from Wisconsin, so he went to Western Illinois.

When he was done there, he went undrafted in 2001 and had to sign a free-agent deal with the Giants. Like Tauscher, he proved himself right away, although he didn't become a starter until 2002. In '03, he suffered a fractured lower leg that forced him to miss the second half of the season, plus all of 2004.

In '05 and '06, he was a backup, but when David Diehl was moved to left tackle this season, Seubert was inserted at left guard and started every game. He has become the pride of southern Marathon County and given the area a reason to cheer on the Giants.

"I know he's pretty excited," said his father, Tom Seubert, who is owner and chef at the popular Buck-a-Neer Supper Club in Stratford, Wis. "We are, too. We'll be there in Lambeau. It's right in our back yard, so we're going to be there."

Rich has only one demand from those who get his tickets, and that's that they wear Giants apparel to the game. He grew up following the Packers and attended some games, but this is not a trip down memory lane or a pilgrimage he's making; he's here to beat the Packers. And he knows his family is behind him.

"Family is a lot thicker than where you live," Seubert said. "This opportunity only comes around once in awhile. They're behind me and they support the Giants. I went to Lambeau, and you get the shivers going in there. This will be my first time playing there, so it's going to be interesting."

Tom Seubert has decorated one of the walls in his restaurant with Giants memorabilia and he regularly hears from townspeople and friends about how proud they are of his son. But he also knows that on each Sunday, the television sets at the bar have to be tuned into the Packers' game.

So he goes into the kitchen and watches the Giants game by himself. He good-naturedly gets ribbed about his allegiances, but after 36 years as the restaurant's chef and host to 300 or 400 people on Fridays and Saturdays, he's cut some slack.

On Sunday, Seubert plans on keeping the restaurant open, even though he will be attending the game. His sister-in-law has offered to take over while he's gone so he can see if his next trip is to Glendale, Ariz., for Super Bowl XLII.

As for Rich's rivalry with Tauscher, well, there really isn't one. Seubert was part of the Marshfield Columbus basketball team that broke Auburndale's 67-game home winning streak, but that happened after Tauscher had graduated. The two think they played against one another in basketball, but neither really remembers it. Same with football.

After the game, they may seek one another out and shake hands. They've done it before, so it wouldn't be anything new. One of them will be celebrating and the other will be conciliatory. Both have plenty to be proud of.

"That's the thing I want to say," Dennis Tauscher said. "Someone's got to win and someone has to lose. But they're a very nice family and we have a lot of respect for them. This is about two kids who really worked hard to get where they are. That's the important thing."

Friday, January 18, 2008

For I Am The Blogger Man

Last night's gig with the "Electric Meter Specialists", held at the Ramada Inn Convention Center, down town Eau Claire went really well.

It is always nice when the group offers to help carry the sound equipment in and out again as that has gotten to be the toughest part of my job description.
They graciously invited me to join them for dinner but I have learned over the years of playing what I call "The Mashed Potatoes Circuit", to forego the eating of a meal just before performing. I think it has helped keep some of the weight off.

I opened the show with a one liner my good friend Matt Capell had sent me from Italy and it went over very well! I shall keep it in use for some time.

Matt Capell is one of the dearest friends of my life. We both went through the hell of divorce at the same time and ended up sharing an apartment on Main Street in Eau Claire. I was teaching 8th grade English at the time.

After moving in and living with me for a couple of months, Matt became very disconsolate that he did not have a job. I told him there was an opening for a cook at Howard Johnson's where I was working nights. Matt applied for and got the job.

Then the first thing he decided was that we needed a stereo system for the apartment. So he went to see another good friend of ours, Doug Cox, now of San Francisco, who was running a stereo shop on Water Street.

Matt picked out the stereo that we wanted (I still have the amp somewhere in my basement) and told Doug that we couldn't pay for the whole thing up front, but couldn't we please buy on credit.

Doug, with his wonderfully dry sense of humor, replied: "Here's the world's biggest deadbeat asking for credit for the world's second biggest deadbeat", and he proceeded to fill out the necessary papers.

Matt and I did, indeed, manage to pay off the remaining debt on the stereo system.

Matt is one of the funniest guys I know (besides Doug). One day, it was really slow at the Howard Johnson's restaurant and Matt was standing around quite a bit. The manager came in and decided this would not do and started looking for minor, insignificant tasks for Matt to do outside of his job description, which was cooking.

At one point he had Matt up above the stoves, cleaning the grease off the huge vent hoods. So Matt took a big bandana, tied it around his head "Aunt Jemima" style, and in a very loud "slave" voice started this rap: "Yass, massa, I be cleanin'' jus' as fas' as I can! Please, massa, don' whup me no mo'!"

He kept it up until every customer in the place was craning his neck to see what was going on. Finally the manager said: "Okay! Okay! That's enough! get down from there!"

Once Matt and I took a road trip north to visit my friend Gerald in Spooner. This was the late 1970's -- the wild years -- and yes, we both had gotten into the 'erb before we left.

Matt is driving north on Highway 53 when suddenly he says: "Is this highway two lane or four lane?"
Says I: "Pull it over! Better let me drive!"

Even weirder is the fact that Gerald worked for the Northwest Regional Planning Commission in down town Spooner. So we look for the address and park. The Planning Commission shares the building with the Spooner Police Department.

We sat in the van for half an hour! Scared ourselves straight! Talk abut paranoid!

I will never forget the time that Matt came down to a bar my band "Yesterday's Wine" was working. It was back in the day when the "Outlaw Country" singers -- Willie, Waylon, and the boys had everybody wearing huge cowboy hats and country rock was the music of the day -- we were tearing through a country tune when Matt walks in, sits down at the bar, takes off his huge black hat, takes aim at a coat rack near the band stand and lets fly -- the hatlanded like a perfect "ringer" in horseshoe! Spun a couple of times and came to rest.

The band stopped playing, our jaws dropped! Finally I said: "I'll bet you can't do that again."
Matt says: "I don't have to." and turns back to the bar.

Funny the stages we go through in life. Back then we were all "drug store cowboys". Later I would use the joke "Cowboy hats are like hemorrhoids -- sooner or later, everybody gets one."

Matt and I were in "Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum". I played the slave Pseudolus and he played Captain Mileus Gloriosus.

At one point in the show he sings a number while grasping me by the tunic. One night, he thinks he has lost his place in the lyrics when he really hasn't. He is mumbling them so that only I can hear them but out of panic, he is really putting the screws to me, throwing me around like a rag doll.

I kept whispering to him: "You've got the right words! Sing! Sing! You're killing me!"

Several years ago, Kim and I visited Matt and his wonderful wife Dianne in Italy and they were the most gracious hosts in the world.

It was a trip I will always cherish!

I have a lot more Matt Capell stories but some of them are unprintable.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Milwaukee Freeway Signs Get Face Lift

This one is for all you Chicago Bear fans!

Have Banquet -- Will Travel

There was a time, shortly after my recovery from motorcycle accident number two, when work was really difficult to come by. I ended up working in folk venues where at most they gave me a hot bowl of soup and covered my beer tab. I was expected to supply some sort of "tip" jar and work at the mercy of the gathered for the evening.

This is my tip jar. The smaller type at the bottom reads: "Give generously so that others may give".

It seems like a good idea at the time.

I am getting ready to pack gear and head down town Eau Claire to after-dinner entertain the Electric Meter Readers. Thank god for the niche I have found in "show biz".

Next week I travel to Wisconsin Dells to entertain the Wisconsin Liquid Waste Carriers where I can use my old standby:
"There's only three things you need to know to be a liquid waste carrier: Shit don'r run up hill, don't put your fingers in your mouth, pay day is Friday!"

Yes, I lead a many and very life. In February the hits just keep on coming mid-month with a banquet for the Wisconsin Cattlemen followed the next night with a banquet for the Wisconsin On Site Waste Water Association.

One of my favorite opening lines was when I did a convention of the Wisconsin Concrete Association. After my introduction, I scanned the audience for a good long time and then simply said: "Why do I get the feeling you all know where Jimmy Hoffa is?"

They were mine for the rest of the evening.

Or the time I was asked to speak at the Wisconsin State Convention on Law Enforcement. I finished my show but they wanted more. I came back onstage and said: "Okay. You asked for this." and proceeded to tell this joke:

There's this old man, hard of hearing, who every saturday takes his dog with him, ties her to a fire hydrant outside his favorite bar, and then goes in and drinks all afternoon.

One Saturday the dog goes into heat. There are dogs arriving from all over the community, some by bus, all taking a number.

There's a little old lady across the street who sees this dog orgy in progress and she calls the police.

"I can't have my daughter seeing disgusting things like this!" (her daughter is 42 years old).

The cop arrives, kicks dogs off the bitch, goes inside and asks the bartender whose dog that is outside. The bartender tells him it's the old guy at the end of the bar, but talk loud to him because he's hard of hearing.

The officer goes down to the man and says: "Excuse me, sir, is that your dog outside?"
"Yep, that's my dog."
Well, your dog is in heat."
"No, no, the heat don't bother her none. I give her a bowl of water in the morning, she's good for all day."
"No, sir -- you're not understanding me. Your dog is gonna get bred."
"Oh, no, no, I never give her bread. It makes her fart. So I never give her bread."
"No, you don't understand , sir, your dog is gonna get screwed!"
"Oh .. OH! Well, go ahead -- I always kinda wanted a police dog puppy."

For some odd reason, I have never gotten hired back.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

These Sports News Stories Too Good Not To Pass On

Lambeau? Brrrring it on
Johnette Howard
January 16, 2008

Worried about Eli Manning's ability to play effectively in the cold during the NFC Championship Game on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers? Admitting it is your first mistake.

"With Vince Lombardi, it was never cold here," said former Packers All-Pro Fuzzy Thurston, who played guard for Green Bay from 1959-67. "Before games, he'd just say something like, 'Men, it's a little blustery out there today.' Blustery, see? Then he'd say, 'It's our kind of day! Now get your asses out there and strut around like it's the Fourth of July."'

Thurston is 74, and he's outlasted throat cancer and endured two hip replacements. He said this marked the first time in nearly five decades he's missed a game at hallowed Lambeau Field. The Giants haven't played a playoff game there since 1961, Lombardi's third season, and it's been 40 years since the legendary coach patrolled the Packers' sidelines in his trademark overcoat, barking at officials in his best Brooklynese. But within the magical space of Lambeau itself, and the surrounding little town of Green Bay, it can often feel like not a lot has changed.

It's not just the snow or terrible cold that gives playoff games at Lambeau a flashback feel. When the Packers return from an important road game, win or lose, the townspeople still leave their porch lights on for the team as a show of support. When a heavy snowfall hits the area in the days before a game, the Packers' front office - as it did yesterday, for the fifth time this season - puts out an announcement asking volunteers to show up at Lambeau and grab a shovel. For $8 an hour, citizens come by the dozens to clear the stands.

"And if we announce we want people here at 8 o'clock, they start lining up outside at 4 a.m. because they want to be a part of it," says Bob Harlan, the Packers CEO and chairman of the board. "A lot of people bring their children, too, because they say, 'I can't get tickets and I know this is the only way my children will ever see the inside of the stadium.' At the current pace, the wait is 40 years."

Visitors from far and wide still stop by Lambeau and ask to be shown the exact spot in the south end zone where, in the 1967 NFL Championship Game, better known as the Ice Bowl, Bart Starr made the 1-yard touchdown plunge that gave the Pack a 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Grainy black-and-white photos show Starr burrowing across the goal line with 13 seconds to play, his arms hugging the football as if he were protecting a newborn from the minus 46-degree wind chill.

Thurston's many vivid memories of that game include his undying gratitude about Lombardi's gamble of going for the win and running the ball on third down with no timeouts, rather than trying a game-tying field goal that would've only extended the agony. Not that he'd have admitted it then.

"It was like I had no hands, had no feet, and oh, gawd, the field was so hard it felt like hitting concrete," Thurston said. "But we were never allowed to use the word 'cold' around Lombardi. We would've had to find a new job. Cold was not in his vocabulary."

The Giants shouldn't utter the word this week, either. The current nattering about Manning's ineffectiveness in bad weather traces back just a few weeks to the Giants' Dec. 16 game at the Meadowlands. The Giants flubbed their way to a 22-10 loss against Washington while Manning completed only 18 of 52 passes into the teeth of a swirling, gusting wind.

The fact that the Giants coaches even asked Manning to attempt 52 passes under such conditions is far more worrisome to this week's outcome. The Elias Sports Bureau says Manning has a quarterback rating under 60 and a completion rate under 50 percent when the temperature is 39 degrees or below. But it's too bad Elias didn't get its super computer to run an over/under on how often Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has persisted in calling 40 or more passes in squall-like weather.

If he or coach Tom Coughlin call 50-some throws again should a blizzard hit Sunday, can we agree the Giants players have permission to board the team plane and leave them shivering on the tarmac?

Harlan, with a lilt in his voice, said yesterday that the forecast for Sunday's game is "a high of about 7 or 8 above zero. Game time, it will probably be about 4 above, with the possibility of snow showers."

Then Harlan added, "If it's not windy, that's not that bad."

Told now that he sounded like those Palm Springs natives who insist the 120-degree days there aren't really hot because it's a "dry" heat, Harlan laughed and said, "Aw, you get used to this."

"Like hell you do," Thurston scoffed.


Green Bay Packers Now Have "The Whole Package" -- Positive Vibes Flood The State

The ascendency of Ryan Grant to the Green Bay Packer's starting lineup has been nothing short of phenomenal. I recall the first time the offensive line opened up enough of a crack for Ryan to slip past the front four and he actually took my breath away when he got into the open and really started motoring.

He is deceptively fast. He has proven it again and again this season. And he just keeps getting better! My guess is that Tauscher and Wells, Clifton and Colledge, are happier than pigs in shit to be able to blast straight ahead and lay into their opponent with a solid run block, because with a back like Ryan, they know he will run his heart out for the team.

I will be the first to admit that it has been hard for me to be a believer. Even up until the Snow Bowl I didn't give the boys much of a chance to go all the way. But they out and out bitch-slapped Holmgren's Seattle team -- handed them their asses and showed them how to get to Austin Straubel in a snowstorm.

In that game, the Packers truely became THE WHOLE PACKAGE. I saw things jelling like never before this season.

The defensive halfbacks were madmen! By the end of the first half Woodson, Harris, Bigby, Collins, Tramon Williams had all the Seahawk receivers hearing footsteps.

In the past (right after the Cowboys game) I was pretty down on Atari Bigby. In the Snowbowl he was absolutely insane!

Our linebackers have been really good all year and they continue to play even better. The defensive line is still hanging in there despite injuries. We have two of the finest outside rushers in the league. They held the Seahawks to diddly squat on the ground. Down right embarrassed them!

Brett Favre should have been MVP this year. Nuff said!

The fantastic five have been performing an aerial circus all season. The burden has been lifted from Donald Driver's shoulders! Every time they come out with five receivers you know it's showtime! so many receivers, so little time!

The New York Giants have the 2nd best defense in the NFL. That's okay. The Seahawks had the 4th best defense in the league. I have a real good feeling about this sunday's game. If I wasn't such a guilt ridden Catholic boy who would take the blame for a defeat, I might even make a prediction right here.

I will just leave it at this. In the middle of the season, if you asked me if the Packers would beat the Patriots in a Superbowl at the end lf the season I would have said absolutely not.


Because like the Patriots, the Green Bay Packers are the complete package!


Shared greatness

There are four people in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one coach and three players, who were members of both the Packers and the Giants.

In their press guides, both teams claim coach Vince Lombardi and tackle Cal Hubbard as their own. That is, Lombardi is listed in the category of "Giants in the Hall of Fame" in the New York guide and in the "Packers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame" in the Green Bay guide.

Lombardi was an assistant coach for the Giants from 1954-'58 and the Packers' head coach from 1959-'67. Hubbard played for the Giants in 1927, '28 and 1936. He played for the Packers from 1929-'33 and in 1935.

The Giants also claim defensive back Emlen Tunnell, who played for 11 seasons in New York. Tunnell is listed in the Packers' guide among "Others in Pro Hall of Fame Who Played for Green Bay." He was in Green Bay from 1959-'61, at the end of his career.

The Packers claim quarterback Arnie Herber (1930-'40) as theirs. Herber is listed in the New York guide in the category of "Others in the Hall of Fame with Giants Experience." Herber played for New York in 1944 and '45.

Yesterday I got a wonderful e mail from my old pal and great musician/drummer (notice I put those in two separate categories) David Barneson who had some noteworthy comments to make about the blog after reading through much of it. Of course, being the proud papa of a real cutie (see photo) he took umbrage with my tirade about children, shopping carts, and grocery shopping, and he's right -- "kids in little shopping carts are cute" -- especially his!

I have no complaint about kids riding in little carts -- it's when they are pushing those "shopper in training carts" themselves, or the parent has them in the choo choo train cart that takes up three aisles!

I also pointed out that the now dropped-out-of-the-race Bill Richardson is not from Arizona but New Mexico -- my bad.

My condolences to Barney on the loss of his dog Mattie -- gone three years and still painful to remember. Kim and I are still roughing it with the loss of both our cats. The house is just so different without them. And I sdwear that every once in a while I catch a glimpse of one of them rounding a corner, going out of sight.

The house has ghosts.

So last night I got so depressed I called a help line -- which of course is now located in Pakistan. I told them I was suicidal. They got very excited and wanted to know if I knew how to drive a truck!


Andy Hyman of Distant Replays Does His Impression of "The Man in the Iron Mask"

A long long time ago, when I first started blogging, one of my blogs was on E commerce and my favorite websites from which to purchase. One of them was Distant Replays of Atlanta, Georgia,. They specialize in anything and everything "retro" in sports.

Over the past couple of years, I have established a relationship (of sorts) with the owner and entre-manure, Andy Hyman, and have bought some items from him.

At one point I even sent him copies of my CD's.

If you have been following my blog in the past months, you know that I have become interested in restoring a Riddell football helmet from the 1960's. It's still a work in progress.

Quirky as I am in my old age, I decided I would try to find full sized, accurately detailed helmets from that era. I began making inquiries, looking specfically for a Bart Starr type Green Bay helmet. My one insisted criteria was that I be able to actually comfortably put the helmet on my head.

Truthfully, I didn't call Distant Replays first because they listed the helmets at $60.00 more than other sites. Unfortunately, I found that all other outlets had sold out of the helmets and Riddell has stopped making them.

So I called Mr. Hyman, and asked if he had access to this helmet and I made it very clear to him that I wanted to be able to PUT IT ON MY HEAD AND WEAR IT COMFORTABLY.

He assured me that he could get me the helmet and that I would be able to wear it.

When it arrived, I looked inside the helmet and the size listed was 7 3/8. Cool! I am only a 7 1/8th! But when I tried to slip it on, I came to realize that there was no way I was going to get it on. It also became obvious that Riddell makes these only for display (I already have a Packer helmet size 6 for that express purpose).

Now, heaven knows I am not about to get involved in a sand lot tackle football game where I NEED a helmet. I admit I am just an old weird guy who still has a lot of little kid alive inside and I wanted to be able to put my helmet on here at the office while I typed my blog!

So I called Andy and told him I felt he had misled me and that I was not happy. We went back and forth on the phone for a bit. He explained if I unsnapped the jaw pads I could put it on and that I should keep the helmet and enjoy it.

I slept on that idea overnight and the next day I called back, spoke with a sales rep instead of Mr. Hyman (knowing he would give me more shit) and being the good upright person that I am, I did not ask for my money back, but instead wanted to exchange for a Mitchell and Ness Ray Nitschke jersey (valued nearly the same).

They didn't have any so I went a step further and settled for a Jim Brown jersey as I have always admired Brown as the greatest running back ever.

The reason I tell you all this is as a lead in to these pictures Mr. Andrew Hyman sent me by e mail along with this messsage:

I just don't get it Heagle. But if you don't like it, you don't like it. I understand it may not fit, and you changed your mind, but you cannot say it is not what you ordered! That is the only size EVER made to be sold at retail- it is the RK model 2-Bar full size helmet and it only comes in the size you received and can be worn and is cool as all the dirty words on your CD!!! They don't make these bad boys like fitted baseball caps for goodness sake!! Notice I am wearing a Patriots tee in protest (also notice my cool NFL poster above my right shoulder from 1968 featuring some Packer dude). I appreciate the exchange for the Jimmy Brown and will send out. I must say I look pretty snappy with that helmet on, and with the hint of grey in my 5 o'clock shadow and fearful grimace, I look like Brett Favreharvre himself! When you visit my store, there will be fistacuffs galore! Looking forward to your reply -

Andy Hyman, Owner
Distant Replays
Tel. 770-953-2722
Fax 770-953-2723

Here is my e mail reply:

Dear Mr. Hyman:

Imagine my shock and surprise to find your 5 o'clock'ed, grimacing image staring out at me from what looks to be the most uncomfortable helmet modeling job of the 20th century. I mention the century because the only historical mask I can compare this photo to is "The Man in the Iron Mask" (circa 1782) -- the novel written by Mr. Alexandre Dumas.

And here you are, a modern day Andrew Dumas(s)!

I wish I could have been at the store to watch you put it on and take it off -- with those six jaw pad snap- points raising hell with your jaw, I'll bet it was a scream (literally!)

You give a whole new meaning to the expression "a little head".

The Patriots tee shirt is disgusting. It looks good on you, though!

And now I challenge you to a bet. If the Packers go to the Superbowl and win, You must wear the Packer helmet to Hooters for lunch with me.

On the other hand, if the Pack loses, no harm no foul. A Packer loss will be punishment enough!

respectfully yours,

Larry Heagle
the man with the dirty mouth


Note: If you are a sports nut with an eye towards sports history, Distant Replays is an excellent source! The web site can be found at www.distantreplays.com.

Please visit the site and buy something, for God's sake! Andy has a small child that needs food and clothing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Miracles Happen In The Strangest of Places -- Fancy Meeting You Here

As I hit the middle of my 31st year as an entertainer, I find it fascinating when and how people suddenly recognize me from past performances.

Years ago I was on a ferry out of Seattle, Washington, going to Vancouver, B.C. for the afternoon. As I stood looking out over the bow, a young man eased up to me and says: "Excuse me, aren't you, Larry Heagle?"

Taken aback I said: "Yes, I am. How do you know who I am?"
"Oh, we're from Wausau. we've seen your show many times at the Parlor Car."

Later, on the same trip, I am walking through the airport when I guy walks by, lugging a cooler.

"Hi, Larry!" he says as he keeps on walking.

"Wait a minute!" I say, turning to him. "How do you know my name?"

"We're from Downsville, Wisconsin," he says, " out here doing a bit of salmon fishing and we are just heading home."

There have been othr times when locals from the Eau Claire area have stumbled upon me while I was working comedy clubs on the road. Pheasant hunters from Eau Claire are suddenly impressed by the facat that I am working at Stephanie's Comedy Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Harley nationers from the Chippewa valley stumble upon me at the comedy club in Rapid City and for some unknown reaon, my stock rises in their eyes because they see me on the road.

It happened again this morning. I went out for a late breakfast at the Altoona Restuarant on Highway 12 East. The waitress (who has waited on me numerous times before) suddenly comes back over to my booth:

"My god! You're Larry Heagle! You are just the funniest! I used to live in Wausau and we came out to hear you all the time! I didn't recognize you!"

Probably not --that's been fifteen years ago and I have been through two motorcycle accidents, major heart surgery, and a major weight loss since those days.


I got this in my e mail from my pal Matt Capell who is presently living in Italy. Some day I will devote an entire blog to Matt Capell stories:

This is an actual letter sent to Proctor and Gamble from Wendi Aarons, Austin, TX, regarding their feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph . .

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your Always Maxi Pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuardCore(tm) or Dri-Weave(tm) absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from 'the curse'? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my 'time of the month' is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills'. Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants...which brings me to the reason for my letter.

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.' Are you fucking kidding me? Does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness – actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James?

FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kaluha and lock yourself in your house just so you Don't march down to the local Kmart armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put Down the Hammer' or 'Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong', or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bull shit. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.

Wendi Aarons Austin, TX


Monday, January 14, 2008

And Then There Were Four -- Seahawks and Cowboys Go Bye Bye

When R.W. McQuarters came down with this errant pass intended for Terry Glenn in the closing seconds of yesterday's Dallas/New York game, both my wife and I let out a wild yell that I can only imagine echoed from every household across Cheeseheadland!

Outside of beating the Minnesota Vikings, nothing is sweeter than watching "America's team" bite it!

You know things are going badly when old skintight Jerry Jones is down on the field pacing back and forth. And Mr. Jessica Simpson really lost his cool -- can't say as I blame him the way the Giants were trying to rip his head off.

I guess I better google ol' Jessica and check out what her daddy describes as her "Double D's". Shame on you, daddy!
Oh, my! Them be some Bodacious TaTas!!

NO wonder Tony couldn't play masterfully! Jessica is Delilah -- and she hath shorn Sampson of Wisconsin. Oh, well, all the more time in Mexico.

Again I want to reiterate that this has been one hell of a football season. I had to work Saturday afternoon and was afraid I would miss the Packer/Seahawk game so I arrived on site about three hours early and got my equipment set up well in advance and parked my butt right in front of the big screen at "Fat Matt's", an out in the country dance hall north on Highway T out of Hammond.

As it turns out, no one was going anywhere as far as the scheduled program was concerned until that game was over. My heart sank to my shoes after Ryan Grant's second fumble in five minutes, but what a magnificent come back and then out and out ass kicking the Pack laid on Fatty and Baldy the rest of the afternoon!

And mucho kudos to Mark Tauscher (a Wisconsin boy, by the by), for the way he manhandled defensive end, Pat Kerney -- I don't hink I heard his number called once all afternoon.

And the snow fall was like something from a Green Bay Packer movie script.

Yes this has been one hell of a season! And it ain't over yet! Lambeau will be rockin' next Sunday! If the Pack can get past being "favored" this coming sunday and make it to Phoenix, where I am sure they will be at least two touchdown underdogs, I wouldn't count them out!

It has been that kind of season. I just came from the car wash and I was daydreamin' about getting personalized plates for the Scion xB -- those yellow plates with the Packer G on 'em? I want mine to read: 07magic.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Brett May Be On Board For 2008-09 Season

I am extremely pleased to hear that Brett Favre is looking past this season and thinking seriously about returning next year. The regular season of this year ws outlandish -- even Brett couldn't believe that these "kids" kept winning! But the real truth is this version of the Pack is the youngest team in the league.

for any of us to expect them to get all the way to -- and then win the Superbowl -- is pretty fantastical. If they stumble in the playoffs (hopefully not against Holmgren), I, for one, am not going to be getting down on the team. Most of the pundits gave them a 50% ratio win to loss for a season record this year. So it's great neews to know that we will have the good fortune to continue to watch in amazement this true American sports hero do his thing for at lest one more year.

Much has been accomplished and Brett sees that the only way this team has to go is UP! Go Pack!

Today I just finished Edward Gruver's great biography about Ray Nitschke, probablay the best remembered Green Bay Packer of all time.

It is a great read and I recommend it highly for any Packer fan.

Having lost both his parents at a very yooung age, ray started life out with a tremendous chip on his shoulder. His life was saved by several people, principally his wife Jackie, and his college coach and of course, coach Vince Lombardi, who almost fired him very early on in his career.

I don't remember if I have told this story before but I got a chance to "share the bill" with Ray as after dinner speakers twice a couple of years before his untimely death at age 61.

Both times it was for Lapham-Hickey steel out of Appleton, Wisconsin. The first year, I arrive, walk into the country club, and there stands this hulking, bald-headed man that I instantly recognize as Ray Nitschke. I go over and shake hands (my hand disappears into his huge mitt), and I explain that I am doing about a half an hour of comedy right after lunch.

He agrees that his talk should follow mine as his talk will b e much more of a insprational type presentation.

After my show, I stood back to listen to Ray. I will always remember that at one point one of the Lapham-Hickey employees glanced down at his watch and Ray, with those intense eyes of his, stared a hole right through him as he said: "YOU GOTTA BE SOME WHERE?"

I almost felt sorry for the guy.The next summer, I am asked to return and do another show for Lapham-Hickey at the same place, the Butte Des Morte Golf Course.

This time as I pull into the parking spot, another car pulls in right next to me. We both stand up outside our vehicles and it's Ray Nitschke!

Ray glares at me and says: "YOU AGAIN!

As we walk in together he tells me that he's not following me this year.

Whatever you say Mr. Nitschke. Whatever you say.

Now, after reading his biography, I am kicking myself for not getting his autograph as he was well known for always obliging people who asked for his autograph.

In the closing chapetr of the book, the author says:

Dave Robinson said that as great a player that Nitschke was, he was a even better person. To Ray Scott, Nitchke's real talent - brightening the lives of everyone around him - was evident once his playing career ended. When Willie Davis thinks of his old teammate, he thinks of the special bond between them, a bond that surpassed all racial barriers, a bond strong enough to link a white man from urban Chicago with a black man from rural Arkansas.

"Everyone talks about the love those old Lombardi teams had," Davis said, "well, I can tell you, I loved Ray Nitschke. I loved the man."

At his passing, the governor said: "to live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die. Ray certainly lives in the hearts of
millions of people in Wisconsin and across America."


Further Simple remedies For Simple Folk

This addition (correction?) to yesterday's simple remedies for simple folks from a truely simple man, his Irish eminence, Mr. Jay Moore, who says:
addendum to yesterday's blog, re: home remedies, spec. blood letting...if one hasn't the fortitude to let one's own blood, one may acquire a leech...or, failing that, a lawyer. Just an idle thought from our Department of Redundancy Department.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Amazingly Simple Home Remedies For Amazingly Simple People

1. When choking on an ice cube, simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat. Presto! The blockage will instantly remove itself.

2. Avoid cutting yourself slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold while you chop

3. Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

4. To treat high blood pressure: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.

7. You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

8. When confused remember, everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Daily Thought:

bada bing bada boom!

Brady Gets It, Favre Deserves It

The vote is in. Tom Brady is the most valuable player in the National Football League. Out of 50 votes, he got 49. I found the dissentng vote by Mr. Frank Cooney of the Sports Xchange to be very much in line with my own thinking. When his identity was revealed, here's what he had to say:

“Frankly, I’m surprised I was the lone wolf on this,” Cooney said. “I voted for an individual honor — who was MVP of his team. Before the season even began, (Favre) had a leg up just by deciding to come back. Without him, the whole franchise was getting ready to implode. Favre took the youngest team in the league that was expected to win five games and won 13. Brady was a great player among great players who were expected to win 14 games and they won 16.

“I’m sitting here wondering what might have happened if (Randy) Moss had gone to Green Bay instead of New England, but that’s just a half passing curiosity. I’m astonished no one voted for Moss. The Patriots didn’t go 16-0 or have 50 TDs before Moss showed up. Tell me who the most valuable player is in that formula?

“The question to me is who was most valuable to their team in 2007. In that narrow regard, Favre had more to do with his team’s ascent in the win column.”

Here’s what Cooney had to say in a follow-up e-mail:

First, let’s be clear that this award is a distinctly individual honor in the ultimate team sport, which makes it extremely difficult to sort out in the first place.

As such, it cannot be based on statistics, which reap their own rewards. The term we are addressing here is Most Valuable Player, which I take to mean most valuable to one’s team. It is, at best, an awkward phrase to evaluate, let alone quantify or justify. But, again, mere statistics should not be the sole basis of consideration. So it takes an understanding of a larger picture to get this into focus.

Tom Brady is a great player on a great team filled with great players in a highly evolved system and a proven, veteran coach. That team, that franchise was expected to win 14 games and it won 16. Brady was awesome behind an awesome line and with awesome wide receivers in a great system with the help of excellent defense and special teams. He threw 50 touchdowns, 23 to Randy Moss. I appreciate all of that. Great players, great offense, great stats, great organization. It’s all awesome.

In addressing the subject of the individual honor of Most Valuable Player, however, one is confronted by one of those chicken-or-egg scenarios. Was Brady great because of his team or was the team great because of Brady? There is no right or wrong answer there, just endless debate. I am familiar with this debate because it raged when Brady’s idol, Joe Montana, was the quarterback in the 49ers West Coast offense. But the fact that the question can be asked opens the way for comparing Brady’s individual accomplishments in 2007 with those of other NFL players.

In fact, one might ask if Randy Moss was the MVP, considering that Brady and the Pats did not manage 16 wins or 50 touchdown passes before Moss arrived. Or Welker, for that matter.

Moving on..

Favre was the quarterback and unquestioned leader of the youngest team in the NFL, one that was expected to win only five games. He led that team to 13 wins. I think that was a more valuable INDIVIDUAL achievement than what Brady managed with his great team.

How can one measure “Value?” …Not sure. But Favre hoisted the fate of an entire franchise squarely on his shoulders. This is a franchise that was stumbling into the 2007 season with no concept of what it could accomplish. He inspired his team as much with his attitude, on and off the field, as he did with his arm. The fact that he returned to play at all infused the team with a positive attitude and may have prevented the franchise from emotionally imploding. There’s no statistic that accurately reflects his impact on the success of the Packers franchise in 2007. But there is a terminology that is apt and that is Most Valuable Player.

Hell, it doesn’t even mean he was the best quarterback in the league. It means exactly what it says, that he was the most valuable player to his team. Period.

The Patriots have and will continue to garner incredible team honors. It was an historic season for the Patriots and many of their players. Within that team there are many great players, starting with Brady and including Moss, Welker and one of the best offensive lines we have seen in years. But Most Valuable Player is an individual honor and I think as an individual that Favre was the Most Valuable Player on his team.

Finally, I support everybody’s right to voice their opinions and theories for our great game of football and the great people who take part in it. It’s part of what makes our great sport what it is. It is, after all, a complex game of conflict.

Congratulations to Brady for having a spectacular seaon and to the Patriots front office for putting together perhaps the most dominant franchise in the history of the game.

If Patriots fans would allow it, however, I think that my vote was justified for another historic player who breathed life into another historic, albeit floundering, franchise. Even amidst a flurry of honors that are indeed owed to Brady and the Pats, Favre’s contribution to the 2007 season and the Packers is certainly worthy of note and, therefore, received my one vote.

Enjoy the postseason.


Frank Cooney


Doug Cox is a man that I am proud to call friend. He is, without a doubt, the funniest man I know. He has a wonderfully dry sense of humor and now when he flies back here from San Franciso and we go to dinner, he loves to give the waiter a faux-nasty customer routine that entertains not only our table but the waiter as well.

We have done too many shows together for me to recall. If I had to pick my two favorites it would be "Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum" (Doug - Hysterium, Larry -Pseudolus) or "The Odd Couple" (Doug - Felix, Larry - Oscar).

Doug played Hysterium, the young slave in dragl (with the skankiest blonde wig ever made!) in "Forum" and he was alwys looking for some sort of little prop he could work into his role. So he takes a length of clothesline, bores holes in two baseball size styrofoam balls, spray paints the balls a bright yellow, inserts the clothesline through the holes in the styrofoam balls, and ties the "belt around his waist.

Well, you know where this is leading. Doug plays with his balls whenever he kows it will get a laugh -- all the way through the show.

At one point in the show, the comedy is all based on physical timing of characters crossing the stage and opening doors. I have a part where I just walk rapidly across the stage and when I pass the upstage door, it's supposed to open and Hysteria and Pseudolus exchange quick laugh lines and the show goes on.

So one night, I cross the stage and it's a no show from Doug -- he misses his entrance -- I exit -- the show goes on, no biggie.

Later on, when the shows calms down and Doug and I are both offstage I ask him: "Where the hell were you on that cross?"
Doug whispers: "I got my balls wrapped around a flat."

That's Doug -- I just went through some e mail transactions I want to share before I gets to work ---

Larry -

From our friend. Sigh.


From: HOMDOUG@aol.com [HOMDOUG@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 1:49 PM
To: Denson, Wil T.
Subject: Episode

Had a cardioversion at noon on Friday and congestive heart failure at six!! There was also a power failure at the time (lots of wind and rain) so I had 911 rescue by candlelight. The drama of it all. Six firemen and four EMTs in this tiny little bungalow again. I thought I was going to see 'Lizbeth for sure but was ultimately treated with a pipe up my peepee and another down my throat much morphine and am home. I know it was serious because I canceled a scheduled-and-paid-for trip to Vegas on Sunday.
Walter is insisting I throw the ball...so that's the report.
Also there is a pair of cut-off underwear in the ER at Davies Medical Center should you wish to claim it.

From: Larry Heagle
To: Doug Cox

Doug: Wilbur just forwarded all this "good" news to me. So have you joined me and my past with the implantation of a "stent" --that thing where they take a rubber, some chewing gum, and a paper clip and stick it in your artery? I am sorry to hear of your plight -- and having gone thru a quad bypass I know all about this shit! Time for some decisions about how long we want to live, ain't it? Please e mail me and let me know everything that happened (if you don't, I will have to come out there and put that pipe up your peepee again!)

you come home, now!



Please hold dearly in your thoughts three of my friends who are in crisis right now: Tiit Raid, Mike Quick, and Douglas Scott Cox

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Day Is Gone But The Dirty Dishes Remain

Today is one of those days when I feel like I have accomplished absolutely nothing. Thinking back on the preceding hours, I realize that I spent a goodly amount of time with a tech support gentleman for Clearwire - trying to set up an e mail account that would continue to use my e mail address.

When he finally convinced me that we could approach both of my computers individually without one affecting the other, I went ahead and folllowed his directions and finally got those problems ironed out.

Then he became really alarmed how little signal my clearwire modem is receiving here at 4888. I found out that things like having my cell on, the location of the telephone base, window coverings, all make a difference in how I would receive.

Because we basically live in a forest out here there are lots of obstacles to getting a clear signal. Last night I experimented with my modem by taking it over to the house and hooking it up way up in the loft where Kim has been receiving a very strong signal and -- wham! I was pumping signal like crazy!

But over here, with just one little floor, and all kinds of obstructions it's a different story.

What's really kinda weird and scary is this tech I'm talking to is located in Florida and he's telling me exactly where my modem is located, where the woods are, where my shed is, and that my bungalow is the last house on the dead end road!

So now I have optimized my system. It's still not great, but clearly beats the hell out of dial up any day of the week. I found the best spot for the modem is on my book case, looking out the window, with the venetian blind pulled all the way up (does this mean I can't sit around working at my desk in my underwear anymore????)

I have, in the process, distanced the phone base from the modem ro reduce interference.

I think the only other task I accomplished today was writing out some bills.

Oh! And I did get a return telephone call from Marilyn Hodges Woodward Garmin Freeman, a former student of mine who is living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and making a living with various film projects as they come through in Colorado.

I had talked with her dad, Don at my show last friday night and he told me I should give her a call. I had tried several times and today I got heer through call waiting.

I am most proud of her and pleased to say that she graciously even gives me some credit for getting her started on her path in "show biz".

This is "get in touch with former students" week as friday I am meeting one of all time favorites for lunch --Mr. Kurt Weber, now of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

We haven't had a chance to really visit in a good long while!


The latest on Tiit Raid: Tiit and Ann are currently back at Mayo for some "consolidation chemotherapy" this week. The bone marrow readings are such that he didn't have to have further testing there -- he is at this point, cancer-free, and the consolidation is, as I understand it, to make certain that it stays that way.

Okay -- time to run the bills out to the mail box (now that the mail man is gone) and then its a steamy bath and some reading until Kim gets home from school. see yoou tomorrow!