Tag Archive | "New Orleans Saints"

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson (L) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb in the second quarter of their NFL football game in Baltimore, Maryland October 24, 2010.   REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For me, the challenge in writing a good blog is partly bound in highlighting a specific theme or idea that hasn’t been addressed by other writers. While such originality is usually my mission, it’s not always possible.

But, I still try ….. So, as I walked out of M&T Bank Stadium, upon witnessing the Ravens thoroughly destroy the Buffalo Bills, I envisioned the things we would hear on the radio and see in blogs, come Monday morning.

Heck, I was hearing it as we walked across the Hamburg Street bridge. My wife is not a football visionary. However, she is a passionate Ravens fan. Thus, her ensuing comments were as predictable as the sunset every evening. “You and your buddies said there was no way the Buffalo Bills would hang with the Ravens” ….. “You gonna blame today’s crappy 4th quarter on the opponent being a good team?” ….. “This might’ve been a win, but it’s an embarrassing win” ….. If I would’ve had a rope, I could’ve hanged myself – right there, above the train tracks. It was a better alternative than begging her to “PLEASE SHUT THE HE@# UP,” which is not a good idea with my wife. Trust me, I’ve done it and I’ve paid for it. Besides, she was

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Do teams take on the personality of their fan bases?

Posted on 04 October 2010 by Domenic Vadala

Let me preface this by saying that not every team or fan base falls into this argument. However each city and each team in every sport is known for something in a sense. My question is whether or not these two things go hand-in-hand to a certain degree. First off, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. As an example, Pittsburgh is a tough old blue collar town. As much as we may dislike them, does that not describe the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Pittsburgh Penguins? (I suppose that the Pirates wouldn’t fall into that category though). The Steelers have always had tought teams composed of guys that “brought their lunch pails to work” everyday. So in that sense perhaps the team(s) take on the persona or moxie of the people. (Notice that I’m using the term fan base as opposed to community; with sports being much more national than in the past, your main fan base might not necessarily be isolated to the local area.)

On the other hand, take a look at the San Francisco 49ers. California is an extremely laid back kind of place. Over the past few seasons, the 49ers have almost played so relaxed that they didn’t seem to realize they were competing. Even when they were winning the Super Bowls they never seemed to play with the fear of God in their eyes. We all remember the story of Montana eyeing John Candy in the stands at the Super Bowl. The New York Yankees are another one; New Yorkers as we know can be fairly arrogant if they want to be, but they generally pack a pretty mean punch. The Yankees seemingly carry a quiet arrogance about them (which generally ticks the rest of us off), and they back it up on the field. Go up the road to Boston…they were lovable losers for so long, and suddenly they win a few world series’. If you say something bad about the Red Sox their fans almost seem to get militant in defending them. The team seems to play with a chip on their shoulder to the point that if you look at them wrong they’re ready to come out with their dukes up. New Orleans is a party town…the Saints didn’t really seem to stop celebrating their Super Bowl victory until the 2010 season kicked off.

Again, these attributes can be both good and bad. How can you go wrong by celebrating like the Saints? By doing so I think you run the risk of becoming the Boston Red Sox who seem to treat every home run like one might a world series win. (Yes Kevin Youkilis I’m talking to you who likes to tackle guys in the dugout to celebrate homers.) I suppose that what I’m saying is that even if you’ve never been there before, act like you have. To keep with the Boton motif, we all know that the fans there can be brutal in that they expect nothing less than success. How many times has Bill Belichek been (justifiably) criticized for running up the score on someone? The Red Sox seem to enjoy doing the same thing when they get a lead. I agree with Belichek in that it’s not his job to stop his offense, but there’s a right way to win and a wrong way. The same could be said to the Steelers, who didn’t seem to want to take out their starters with a 30+ point lead in the fourth quarter.

Here’s a sensitive one for me personally: the Washington Redskins. I’ve been a Skins fan my entire life, an I’m a season ticket holder. But I do see some less-than-desirable qualities in my fellow fans. While the Redskins are noted for having loyal fans, I routinely see people bringing their friends to games who happen to root for the team the Redskins are playing that day. I also routinely hear “down in front!” when you so much as get up to get a soda during the game. Unfortunately many people see Redskin games as entertainment rather than as NFL games I suppose. Furthermore, I’ve had people at games tell me that the fans shouldn’t make noise when the other team’s on offense because not only is it unsportsmanlike, but it makes it all the more sweeter for that other team if they win. Um…excuse me?! (I’ve also seen fans buy beer for opposing fans because for some reason if you come all the way from wherever to see your team play on the road you deserve a free beer.) Two weeks ago the Skins had a 17 point lead on the Houston Texans in the 4th quarter…and lost. Granted this sort of contradicts what I said about Boston fans (with regard to running up the score), but while you don’t need to rub salt in the wound you don’t want to totally take your foot off the gas either. However if there are fans that act as I just described, couldn’t you argue that the Redskins take on that persona?

So do Baltimore’s teams take on the persona of the fan base? I would say that similar to the Steelers, the Ravens tap into that blue collar nature of the city (although Baltimore is a much more afluent place than Pittsburgh). Baltimore also likes to party…Orioles Magic anyone? All of these arguments are matters of opinion, however I think it’s an interesting concept. As I said, this isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Take it or leave it.

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Week 4 Coach Speak

Posted on 28 September 2010 by Brian Billick

After my broadcast partner, Thom Brennaman, and I called an exciting overtime game in New Orleans when the Falcons beat the Saints, I taped this week’s edition of CoachSpeak for FOXSports.com.

I talked to the winning coach of the Atlanta-New Orleans game (and my brother-in-law), the Falcons’ Mike Smith on why he went for it on fourth down so much against the Saints and how he plans to keep his team focused this week after such a big win. I also spoke to the losing coach, Sean Payton, about how last Monday night’s game at San Francisco did to his team’s schedule, and the adjustments coaches have to make in that situation.

In my Billick 101 segment, we get a look at the Vikings check system with quarterback Brett Favre and running back Adrian Peterson through the eyes of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. We also go on the field with Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, who shows us the keys to a proper QB-RB exchange on handoffs.

I take a look at the 49ers’ firing of offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye this week, what that might mean to head coach Mike Singletary down the line, and what new OC Mike Johnson needs to do to help turn around the 0-3 49ers fortunes.

Lastly, we check out the Never Say Never Moment of the Week, including Leon Washington’s two kickoff returns for TDs for the Seahawks.

Here is this week’s version of CoachSpeak:

Video: Coach Speak: Week 4

This Sunday, Thom, field reporter Charissa Thompson and I head to Green Bay this Sunday as the Packers try to bounce back after a tough loss at Chicago as they host Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions on FOX.

But before that, I will be on WNST several times to talk about what’s going on in the NFL. If you miss any of those appearances, please check out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to listen to all of the great interviews on WNST.

Talk to you next week …

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New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is sacked by Baltimore Ravens Haloti Ngata during the second half in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 13, 2010. The Ravens won the game 10-9. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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Blog & Tackle: Week 1 NFL scoring struggles

Posted on 14 September 2010 by Chris Pika

If you thought the amount of scoring in the NFL’s Week 1 games was less than usual, you were right in a big way. A total of 21 teams scored less than 20 points in the 16 games — that number was the highest total of Week 1 sub-20-point team scoring since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, according to research through Pro-Football-Reference.com.

The 2010 teams under 20 points? Minnesota 9, New Orleans 14, Cleveland 14, Tampa Bay 17, Miami 15, Buffalo 16, Denver 17, Atlanta 9, Pittsburgh 15, Oakland 13, Carolina 18, Detroit 14, Chicago 19, Arizona 17, St. Louis 13, San Francisco 6, Dallas 7, Washington 13, Baltimore 10, New York Jets 9 and San Diego 14. The league, as a whole, averaged just 18.3 points per team in Week 1.

Here are the year-by-year teams scoring 19 points or less in Week 1 from 1970-2009 (via Pro-Football-Reference.com.

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is sacked by Baltimore Ravens Haloti Ngata during the second half in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 13, 2010. The Ravens won the game 10-9. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The 21 teams was a far cry from last season’s Week 1 total of only 14 teams. In the decade of the 2000s, 153 teams scored under the 20-point mark in Week 1, an average of 15.3 per season. Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams and eight divisions in 2002 for 16 opening weekend games, the average was 15.25 per season from 2002-09.

There are a lot of factors at play in why this was the case in this particular opening weekend. Better defenses, weather issues and injuries to key players certainly played a part. But one other factor might also be in play.

The last time most clubs play their starters for an appreciable time in the preseason is Week 3. Most clubs hold out starters or play them very little (one or two series) in the final week in order to look at players fighting for the final spots during the remainder of the game.

It’s almost a bye week for the starters on both sides of the ball, since they will not face live competition for two weeks until the regular season starts. So, when the starters get back on the field in Week 1 of the regular season, the timing is off when it needs to be at its sharpest.

Here are the year-by-year totals of Week 1 teams at or under 19 points in the decade of the 2000s.

Total Teams Scoring 19 Points or Less in Week 1 (2000-09)
2009: 14
2008: 17
2007: 18
2006: 19
2005: 15
2004: 15
2003: 14
2002: 10
2001: 15
2000: 16

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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My Super Bowl Pick .....

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My Super Bowl Pick …..

Posted on 10 September 2010 by Rex Snider

Over the past couple days, I’ve predicted the respective finishes in the AFC/NFC divisions. Today, it’s time to paint my picture of Super Bowl 45. Admittedly, it will be tough to pick against the Ravens making a trip to Dallas, in early February. After all, they’re a consensus favorite among MANY notable sports personalities.

What do predictions yield the Ravens? NOTHING …..

Predictions are quite simply as worthless as the time it takes to express them. But, it’s still fun to forecast the prospective future of the upcoming National Football League season.

As I review my AFC picks, I’m considering the division winners, which include the Dolphins, Ravens, Colts and Chargers. My wildcards are the Patriots and Texans. I foresee the Ravens and Dolphins meeting for the AFC crown and I’ll predict a big hometown win at M&T Bank Stadium on a chilly, overcast January day.

When I look back at my NFC selections, I can choose from the Cowboys, Packers, Saints and 49ers, as division champs. The wildcards are the Falcons and Vikings. While it will be an exciting season in the NFC, I’m picking the Saints to represent their conference, once again. I believe they’ll hand the 49ers a pretty sound beating on the same field where the 2010 season began, last night.

So, my prediction for Super Bowl 45 is …..
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And, my pick?

Ravens 27

Saints 20

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NFC Predictions ....

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NFC Predictions ….

Posted on 09 September 2010 by Rex Snider

Yesterday, I dished out my AFC picks along with bragging about the talent compromising the 2010 Baltimore Ravens. Today, I’m issuing my NFC predictions.

Here ya go ….

NFC EAST
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1) Dallas Cowboys (11-5) – Trust me, I hate to pick the Cowboys to win ANYTHING. Year after year, they’re showered with preseason accolades. Yet, they’ve won a total of ONE postseason game in the last 14 years. I think the Cowboys and Eagles are fairly comparable in the NFC-East. However, based on strength of schedule, the Cowboys are being dealt a “gimme” win against the Cardinals toward season’s end.

I still think they’ll be the same old Cowboys we’ve expected in recent history; they’ll bow out early in the playoffs. And, I’ll guarantee Tony Romo has something to do with it.

2) Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

3) Washington Redskins (7-9)

4) New York Giants (7-9)
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NFC NORTH
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1) Green Bay Packers (12-4) – Honestly, is anyone picking against this Packers offense? While Aaron Rodgers is being touted as the prospective MVP, another breakout star is in the making in Wisconsin. Remember the name JERMICHAEL FINLEY. While he lines up at the tight end position, he possesses phenominal wideout speed and agility.

How good is Finley? Well, he led a formidable Packers corps in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in the second half of the 2009 season. I’ll bet Brett Favre wishes he had such talent in Minnesota.

2) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

3) Detroit Lions (7-9)

4) Chicago Bears (5-11)
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NFC SOUTH
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1) New Orleans Saints (12-4) – I think they might be better than last year’s SUPER version. Why? Well, I can envision Drew Brees’ crew of receivers developing with experience. Specifically, I look for Robert Meachem to take a step forward and potentially become the Saints top wideout. Combined with a steady Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and the Heisman-less Reggie Bush, I’m predicting very busy Sundays for opposing secondaries.

2) Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

3) Carolina Panthers (9-7)

4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13)
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NFC WEST
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1) San Francisco 49ers (10-6) – Who could’ve imagined the 49ers would return to being such a prominent favorite, especially since they haven’t enjoyed a winning season since the Jeff Garcia era, 8 years ago? Of course, Mike Singletary’s team is aided by the departures of Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner, in Arizona.

The 49ers are not an offensive juggernaut. But, they’re rightfully expected to pummel opposing offensive units. And, the ringleader of the 49er’s attack is the Ray Lewis of the west coast, Patrick Willis. Expect a lot of low scoring victories. Sound familiar Ravens fans?

2) St. Louis Rams (7-9)

3) Arizona Cardinals (6-10)

4) Seattle Seahawks (4-12)

Well, that’s my look at the NFC. Tomorrrow, I’ll break down the playoffs and predict the Super Bowl winner. A reminder …. Brian Billick will be joining me at 2:30pm today. And, you can also find me in Thyrl Nelson’s FANTASY FLAVOR chat tonight @ 8pm !!!!

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Seeing the press release stating that Dave Trembley was fired as Orioles manager reminds me of how hard the decision is from the inside and how it affects an entire organization.

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Blog & Tackle: Not a good day

Posted on 04 June 2010 by Chris Pika

Seeing the press release stating that Dave Trembley was fired as Orioles manager reminds me of how hard the decision is from the inside and how it affects an entire organization.

I was part of two franchises in the NFL in a PR/new media capacity, the Saints and Falcons. During the time I was in New Orleans, Jim Haslett lost his job after a 3-13 campaign in 2005 in the wake of the forced move of the Saints to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, I was in Atlanta when Jim L. Mora got the gate after some bad seasons.

Coaches know that when they are hired, more than likely, they won’t be able to choose their final day with the club. It’s part of the territory. So are the calls for their heads in every medium after losses or when the team misses the playoffs.

I don’t know Dave Trembley. But from what I’ve read, he isn’t any different than Haslett or Mora. Each of them worked very hard to move up the ladder and get one of a very limited set of jobs in the world. They all were grateful for the opportunity, and even more grateful were the families who supported their dreams.

Today, it’s the families I think of. When you make a change, it’s the wife and children who’ve had to deal with the uncertanty that comes with public speculation. They know it’s part of being in a coach’s family, but it’s not any easier for them to know that their dad or husband is out of a job. Their assistant coaches don’t know if they will still have their jobs when the “new guy” come in. You can feel the stress in every part of the building.

Many of us have had to come home and have the difficult “out of work” discussion with the spouse and kids. It’s no different for a shift worker, a corporate suit or a baseball manager.

Most of the time, the coach knows he’s “dead man walking” when he goes through the front office in the days before a change. People who may have shared a meal, or a joke, with the coach aren’t sure what to say or how to say it. The front office feels different on those days as more doors are closed and rumors run rampant.

Ultimately, the coach keeps going to work and trying to succeed until the boss tells him that his services are no longer needed. And once it’s done, no one is sure how to approach the departing staffers, even if just to wish them well.

We can debate the merits of Dave Trembley’s tenure, his successes and failures. That’s fair in sports and part of the fan experience. Tomorrow, we can debate the next man to occupy the office, and what he needs to do to turn the club around. Today, though, is for taking a moment to thank a decent man for his service and understanding that a change is much more than a press release for those involved.

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Blog & Tackle: Second chance for Stallworth

Posted on 17 February 2010 by Chris Pika

All eyes will certainly be on wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth and the Baltimore Ravens after the club signed him Wednesday – a second chance for a man whose horrible personal decision cost another man his life less than a year ago.

The football move to add depth to the wide receiver corps is a good thing for a Ravens team in need of playmakers. He was 21st among wide receivers from 2005-09 in yards per reception (14.8) and 11th among WRs in average yards after the catch (5.3) over the same five-year period. Stallworth is not a No. 1 receiver any more, but he will be someone opposing defenses will have to account for.

Stallworth has had a lot of personal accounting to do over the last year.

He was convicted of second-degree DUI manslaughter in the death of Mario Reyes in March 2009. He admitted to drinking the night of the accident, and received a sentence of 30 days in jail, 1,000 hours of community service, two years of house arrest and 10 years probation. He also lost his Florida driving privileges for the rest of his life.

He served just 24 days in jail – a sentence that angered many of those who fight for tougher drunk-driving laws – and he avoided a civil lawsuit by reaching a financial settlement with the Reyes family. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for the 2009 season, and he was reinstated the day after Super Bowl XLIV.

So, Stallworth was eligible to return to work, and the Ravens have given him an opportunity to re-prove himself.

I worked around Stallworth during his first four seasons in the NFL with New Orleans (2002-05). I won’t say I knew him well outside of the locker room, but I had plenty of conversations with him about football and his career after practices and games. You also get a real sense about a player by watching him interact with his teammates and coaches when the media isn’t around.

Stallworth was well-liked in the locker room, and he worked hard on the practice field. He’s had a lot of injury issues (hamstring, heel) during his career, and his prep work before practices and games was painful to watch as his hamstrings were stretched to the limit like a track athlete’s would be before a meet (Stallworth ran track and jumped in high school).

The early-entry to the NFL (he was drafted No. 13 overall out of Tennessee after his junior year) battled those injuries in his first two seasons to start just 10 games among the 24 he played, although he had eight TD catches as a rookie in 2002.

The next two seasons he caught fire, with 767 yards and five TDs in 2004 and 945 yards and seven TDs in 2005 during the club’s disastrous 3-13 Katrina season. In August 2006, he was traded to Philadelphia, and later was fourth on the team in receptions for the Patriots during their undefeated regular season in 2007. He battled injuries again in 2008 with Cleveland, and his numbers tumbled.

Stallworth’s one-year signing does not present a significant risk to the Ravens. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out, both Derrick Mason and Kelley Washington are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, and Stallworth is the only veteran WR under contract in Baltimore right now. He still has the burst of speed and good hands to be effective as a possession receiver for Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense. He has been working out, and obviously the Ravens looked at both the football player and the person before offering him a contract.

I wouldn’t dare to tell anyone what to think of the Ravens signing Stallworth, especially in light of his conviction. But I can say this from my perspective: He is a very thoughtful person who seems to “get it” about the game and life. I read the quotes from Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh, and all spoke about his horrible decision, and the consequences for both the Reyes family and for the man who chose to drink and drive.

Stallworth has to live with that result each day, and while he paid a financial sum, he can never repay the emotional debt to Reyes’ family.

“I will never get that morning back,” he said in the Ravens’ press release. “It weighs on me every day and will for the rest of my life. What I can do is move forward, try to be a better person, try to convince others not to do what I did and warn others about the dangers of drinking and driving. I have to show otherwise that what happened doesn’t reflect who I am. I have to prove that, and, hopefully, I’m on my way to doing that.”

Maybe the prevalent “it will never happen to me” mentality in locker rooms or the local bars might come to a momentary pause when hearing Stallworth’s message.

“I will make the best of it, and some people may listen to me because I will be playing,” he said. “I hope I can do some good in delivering a message that could help someone or prevent someone from doing what I did.”

If anyone thinks twice and doesn’t climb behind the wheel after a couple of drinks because of Stallworth’s fatal mistake, that will be the most important unseen catch of his career.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (2/4/10)

Posted on 04 February 2010 by Jack McManus

9:35-

Warren Sapp is next up. He talks with the guys about his possible entrance into the Hall of Fame. Drew explains that he thinks Sapp is a slam dunk for the hall. Sapp next talks about the first time he met Ray Lewis. Lewis stepped into Miami’s lineup at age 17 due to injury to a starting linebacker. Sapp watched Lewis mature into the player he is. Sapp next talks about how the Colts’ management ruined the chance for a perfect season for both the fans and the players.

sapp

9:11-

Tim Brando is next up with Drew. He mentions his travel plans that could be affected by the impending snowstorm. He starts off by discussing Tony Bennett’s impact at Virginia. Bennett has been a breath of fresh air at UVA. He goes on to call Maryland and under-exposed team. He states that Maryland does not have many household names and could surprise many people later in the season. Before leaving, Brando predicts the Saints will win the Super Bowl.

milbourne

8:50-

Drew now welcomes in Merton. Merton reminds everyone that Indy has taken the Colts and turned them into a winner. Drew asks if they could take the Orioles away as well. Nestor tells Merton that he will be wearing a Saints championship shirt at the scouting combine.

8:48-

Nestor and the rest of the crew down in Florida discuss the average commenter on blogs. Most of them seem to be negative everyone agrees.

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smart

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (1/27/10)

Posted on 27 January 2010 by Jack McManus

9:35-

Bob Woods, asistant coach of the Washington Capitals now joins Drew. He talks about the team’s win last night. The team got a balanced effort, scoring 7 goals while not getting a point from Alex Ovechkin.

9:09-

David Downs, the Executive Director of the USA Bid Committee is the next guest. He begins by talking about how MLS attendence is only a  small factor in deciding which cities will have World Cup games if the USA becomes the host country. He points out that although Baltimore does not have and MLS team, the game played at M&T Bank sold out and drew lots of national attention. Downs states that about 12 cities will host games. Those cities will not be determined until about 5 years before the World Cup would take place in America. Downs also explains that all 18 cities still in the running have an equal opportunity right now.

8:53-

Sideline Reporter for the Colts, Kevin Lee is now up. He starts off by talking about the idea of resting players in the regular season. The Colts and the Saints were both proven correct by reaching the Super Bowl. Indy fans still contend that the Colts should have played for the perfect season. Lee states that he is happy with how things have worked out. He next explains how the Colts reacted to being down 11 points before halftime. The bench was still calm during the entire game despite the deficit. Lee also explains that most, if not all, of the injured Colts will be able to play in the Super Bowl.

7:48-

Shaka Smart joins Drew early this morning. Smart is the head coach of the VCU basketball team. His Rams will face off against Towson tonight. Smart agrees with Drew that the top of the CAA is terrific this season. He also points out that his team has improved during the season and he hopes to finish conference play strong. He calls Towson a “dangerous” team to play.
smart

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