Matchup For the Ages; Aaron Remembered; One and Done at Stanford
Some are calling it a game of the ages. Tom Brady (43) vs. Patrick Mahomes (25).
I'm thinking it might be a game for the ages.
This year's Super Bowl will be one of the more intriguing matchups in the game's history. On the one side you have the Buccaneers' "boring" old Brady, who will be playing in his 10th Super Bowl and going for his seventh win. On the other side, the game's rising star, the Chiefs' Mahomes, gunning for his second straight after last year's thrilling comeback over the 49ers.
Two contrasting styles. Brady, who calmly dissects opposing defenses with his quick release, precision throws, and great decision making. All he does is win. Mahomes, exciting, elusive, extends plays, a guy who will throw the ball every which way—side-armed, underhanded, on the dead run—and hurt you with his legs as well as his arm.
I hate to go against Brady, who’s thrown for 47 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards this year (including the playoffs) at the age of 43, but I think Mahomes' mobility will be the deciding factor.
The Bucs beat Green Bay by pressuring, and sacking, Aaron Rodgers all day. On the decisive play of the game, third and goal from the Tampa Bay eight yard line, Rodgers had plenty of room to tuck the ball and run it in, instead choosing to force a pass that fell incomplete.
That play, of course, was followed by the incomprehensible decision by Packers' coach Matt LeFleur, down by eight points, to kick a field goal with two minutes remaining, when everyone in the stadium and the millions watching around the globe, knew that Brady would run out the clock.
The Hammer: One of the greatest players in baseball history, Hank Aaron, passed away last week at the age of 86. Aaron was the man who broke Babe Ruth's career home run record with his 715th and ended his 23-year career with 755 round-trippers. He held the record for 33 years until Barry Bonds passed him.
But Aaron was much more than a slugger. He was a complete player. He was known for having the best wrists in baseball, consistently roping line drives to all fields. He wasn't flashy, never tried to call attention to himself. He just went about his business and did everything well.
Aaron batted .305 for his career and ended up among the all-time top 10 in many categories. In addition to being No. 2 in home runs, he is No. 1 in RBIs with 2,297, No. 2 in total bases with 6,856, No. 2 in at bats with 12,364, No. 3 in hits with 3,771, No. 3 in games played with 3,298, and No. 4 in runs scored with 2,174.
He won the National League MVP in 1957 and finished in the top 10 in voting 13 times. He hit more than 20 home runs a record 20 times. He was named to the All-star game 21 straight seasons and won three Golden Gloves. He was also an excellent baserunner.
Aaron was just as extraordinary off the field. Because he was a black man, he endured death threats as he chased Ruth's record. He rarely, if ever, complained. He was a mentor to many other players, including former Giants' manager Dusty Baker and Giants' great Willie McCovey, who wore Aaron's number (44) and came from the same town (Mobile, Alabama). After retirement, he became one of the game's great ambassadors and a civil rights leader.
I grew up in New Jersey and my heroes were Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. In those days, the debate was whether Mantle or Willie Mays was the best player in baseball. Aaron was considered a top star, but never entered into the "greatest of all time" debate.
He should have.
I hosted Aaron for a speaking engagement at Stanford in 1980 and spent several hours with him. He was a class act. Really a great guy. Honest, sincere, friendly, gracious, humble. Uncomplicated.
We need more like him.
Hall Passes: Aaron is one of 10 Hall of Famers who have died in the last year. The others: Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Joe Morgan, the aforementioned Whitey Ford, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton and Tommy Lasorda. (Thanks to Glenn Schwarz and Bob Rose for this info).
Terry Sits: Like many other Stanford alums and Cardinal basketball fans, we were dismayed when Tyrell Terry became the school's first "one and done" player. Not only because of what that revealed about the state of Stanford basketball—and the state of college basketball in general—but because we didn't think Terry was ready.
After one good season at Stanford, in which he averaged 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, the 6-3, 160 pound Terry believed he was ready for the rigors of the NBA. And apparently some scouts and general managers agreed with him. He was chosen with the first pick in the second round,
But Terry could've used another year at Stanford, where he'd get stronger, gain weight, learn to eliminate unforced errors, improve his 3-point shot and gain needed experience while playing 35 minutes a game.
Instead, he is gathering dust on the Dallas Mavericks bench, playing only in garbage time, and getting virtually no opportunities to improve.
To date, the Mavericks have played 18 games. Terry has appeared in only nine of them, all when the games have been decided. For the season, he has a total of 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Another year would’ve most likely improved his draft position, and his paycheck. As the No. 1 pick in the second round, he reportedly signed a four-year deal worth $6 million. A mid-round pick in the first round got almost three times as much, with more guaranteed money.
Passing Through? Speaking of "one and done", it appears this will become more of a frequent pattern at Stanford. The Cardinal landed one of the top 10 recruits in the country this year, 6-8 forward Ziaire Williams, who is considered a lottery pick in the next NBA draft.
So far this season, Williams has been inconsistent but has shown flashes of brilliance—excellent balhandling skills for a big man, a deft shooting touch, strong rebounding ability, and active defense—but he's made a distressing number of unforced turnovers, and has a tendency to disappear for long stretches.
He disappeared for the entirety of Stanford’s thrilling upset win over UCLA Saturday, missing the game for “personal reasons.”
We'll see if Williams gains some consistency and eliminates mistakes over the second half of the season. Unfortunately, if he does, he's going to be gone after one year.