Friday Fodder: Kaepernick is a winner on the road
January 16, 2014
Sports fodder for a Friday morning … Colin Kaepernick has taught the San Francisco 49ers how to win on the road in the playoffs. Before Kaepernick came along, the 49ers were 2-10 in their glorious history on the road in the playoffs. Joe Montana and Steve Young combined to win one playoff game on the road. Kaepernick is a perfect 3-0 on the road in the playoffs. Maybe it's the hoodie, earphones and scowl that blocks out all the distractions. Whatever it is that focuses Kaepernick on the road, well, it works. He won at Atlanta in the NFC championship game last year and he went to Green Bay and Carolina this year and came home a winner. He'll do the same on Sunday in Seattle.
Kaepernick thrives on adversity. He is at his best when everyone is telling him he can't succeed. Chris Ault told him at the start of the 2007 season that Nick Graziano was a better quarterback than he was. Ault told him for four years that he had to become a better thrower. Nobody thought he could ever beat Kellen Moore and Boise State or win a bowl game. The NFL scouts told him that his release was too long. The NFL general managers told him in the 2011 draft that Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker were better NFL quarterbacks than he was. Well, how may playoff victories do those quarterbacks have combined right now? How many Super Bowls and NFC or AFC championship games have they been to? Kaepernick can't win in Seattle? Yeah, right.
Peyton Manning is 4-10 in his career against Tom Brady. Brady and the New England Patriots beat Manning and the Denver Broncos in overtime earlier this year. None of that matters this weekend. The AFC title game on Sunday, unlike the meaningless regular season meeting in November, is in Denver. Brady and the Patriots are doing it with mirrors this year. They don't belong in the AFC title game. Manning and the Broncos were up 24-0 on Brady and the Pats back in November before they started turning the ball over. That 24-0 lead wasn't a fluke. The fluke was the second half. The Broncos will meet the 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Manning simply has to win on Sunday. Brady and the Patriots, who have been decimated by injuries this year, are playing with house money. There's no pressure on Brady and the Patriots this weekend. Manning, on the other hand, has all the pressure in the world. His legacy is on the line. If he loses to Brady again he'll always be considered a notch below the great postseason quarterbacks. Everything is in Manning's corner on Sunday. It's a home game. He has all his weapons while Brady is going out there with castoffs. This is Manning's year. He has to win.
The Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team lost to Boise State because the Broncos turned Deonte Burton into a passer. They clogged the paint, stood their ground and Burton shied away from the challenge and passed the ball. For this Wolf Pack team to reach the promised land, Burton has to go back to being Deonte Buckets. He's the best player in the conference. He has to shoot. He has to score. He has to lead. When the best player in the conference passes the ball, it's a sign of weakness. Cole Huff, Jerry Evans, Michael Perez and A.J. West are all solid players. They are all nice pieces to a championship puzzle. But they are complementary parts. They are not leaders. Deonte Buckets is the leader of this Pack team.
What made the Wolf Pack teams from 2004-07 great? They were great because, more often than not, they won big games under pressure when the expectations were the highest. The easiest thing to do is to win when nobody expects you to win. That's what the Pack did during its four-game winning streak. That winning streak, though, raised the expectations. The Boise game was the Pack's first meaningful game since the Western Athletic Conference tournament in March 2012. A crowd of over 8,000 showed up on Tuesday because of those expectations. The Wolf Pack wilted under the pressure back in March 2012 and they wilted again on Tuesday night, getting outcoached and outplayed again.
Major League Baseball is getting ridiculous. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who will make $30 million a year for the next seven years, will earn almost a million dollars for each of his starts. Over the last three years Kershaw has averaged 33 starts, 232 innings, 3,455 pitches and 17 victories a season. That means he'll earn roughly $909,000 a start, $129,000 an inning, $8,700 a pitch and $1.8 million a victory over the next seven years.
Alex Rodriguez is a cheater and deserves to be suspended. That's not the issue. But 162 games? Commissioner Bud Selig is just trying to make an example out of Rodriguez. He's also doing the New York Yankees a huge favor because now they don't have to pay Rodriguez his $25 million or so this year. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and countless others cheated for years and Selig looked the other way. That's because Bonds, McGwire and Sosa lined MLB's pockets with gold. A-Rod is now just a fading star that nobody likes. Suspending A-Fraud is easy for Selig. Nobody gets hurt. Selig, who is about to retire, just wants to show everyone before he leaves that he is tough on steroid users. The commissioner, though, is an even bigger fraud than A-Rod.
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