Shooting from the Lip
Looking back at the weekend in sports...
So long to the hole in the roof
Texans love it when people ask why there is a hole in the roof of Texas Stadium. Answer: So God can watch his favorite football team. Texas Stadium has been home for the Cowboys for 37 seasons, but it hosted its final regular-season game Saturday night. My picks for the five most famous games at Texas Stadium:
1. Nov. 28, 1974
Cowboys backup QB Clint Longley came off the bench on Thanksgiving Day to relieve an injured Roger Staubach and led Dallas back from 16-3 deficit against the bitter-rival Redskins for a 24-23 victory on a 50-yard bomb to Drew Pearson in the final minute.
2. Dec. 16, 1979
The Cowboys again beat the Redskins, this time in a 35-34 classic to win the division. Roger Staubach threw the winning TD to Tony Hill with 39 seconds left.
3. Nov. 25, 1993
The Leon Lett game. Another Thanksgiving classic as Lett booted the ball on a snow-covered field after the Cowboys had blocked a Miami field goal. The Dolphins recovered Lett’s gaff and kicked the field goal to win 16-14.
4. Nov. 26, 1994
This was a high school game that is a cult classic thanks to YouTube.com. Check it out. Down 41-17 to John Tyler High of Tyler with less than four minutes left, Plano East scored four touchdowns (with the help of three onside-kick recoveries) to take a 44-41 lead. But John Tyler won the game with a kickoff return in the waning seconds.
5. Sept. 24, 2000
The 49ers beat the Cowboys 41-24, but here's what made this game famous: then-49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens scored on a 3-yard TD and ran to the big star at midfield to celebrate. Later Dallas' Emmitt Smith scored and made fun of T.O.'s celebration. When T.O. scored another TD and ran to midfield, he was tackled by Cowboys safety George Teague.
Last week's Lightning-Avalanche game ended in controversy when the Avs were awarded the winning shootout goal after officials determined Lightning goalie Mike Smith threw his stick. Whether it was good or bad call likely depended on your allegiance.
What was unacceptable, however, was the NHL refusing to make the officials available to the media after the game. League director of hockey operations Mike Murphy told St. Petersburg Times hockey writer Damian Cristodero: "I don't think any good can come of it. There's a hot environment down there right now, and I think it's best they not speak because I don't want them getting trapped.''
Getting trapped? What the heck does that mean?
When officials in other sports make a controversial call, they are available to the media because other sports absolutely understand that fans want an explanation, that they deserve an explanation.
Hey, players are expected to face the music after a game, so why not officials? The league did respond to the controversy a day later, but that was a day too late. All of this -- Murphy's refusal to make the officials available and his strange "trapped'' quote — is just further evidence of how messed up the NHL is.
Did you hear that Lakers star Kobe Bryant is wearing a new shoe that is more of a low-top than a high-top? On ESPN's Around the Horn, panelist Tim Cowlishaw talked about how everyone wears high-tops but that low-tops "are cool and (Bryant) is going to bring them back in.'' Host Tony Reali cracked: "We might get a great view of these sneakers as he's carried out on a stretcher.''
Best college basketball teams
Never too early to start talking Final Four, is it? Actually, this is early, and there wasn't a lot of college football to talk about over the weekend. Anyway, ESPN's Jay Bilas listed his Final Four teams, at least for the time being: North Carolina, Louisville, UConn and Michigan State.
Hand it to ESPN's Mike Ditka. On Sunday NFL Countdown, he said, "Now, if you think that the Cardinals didn't show up last week, wait till you see this drive-by today.'' The Cardinals lost to the Patriots 47-7.
Seeing Tropicana Field host a football game wasn't as weird as I thought it would be. Saturday's inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl between USF and Memphis didn't look all that different than any indoor game. What was strange was seeing Sean McDonough call the game for ESPN2. With all due respect, the St. Petersburg Bowl is not exactly a glamour gig for an announcer, and you wonder how McDonough ended up calling this game. In 1992, McDonough, at the time, was 30 years old and the youngest announcer employed by a network to call the World Series. (A few years later, Joe Buck was 27 when he called the World Series.) Since then, McDonough’s career has moved in reverse. I mean, from the World Series to the St. Petersburg Bowl? Makes you wonder what happened because he has a great voice and does a solid job. Put it this way: If a game was about to come on and I saw McDonough, that would cool with me.
ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown did a cool thing regarding playing with pain, talking with current and former players. The best part was the old Jack Youngblood story. Everyone remembers the Rams defensive end played in the 1980 Super Bowl with a broken leg, but many people may have forgotten this: He played in the Pro Bowl, too. These days, a tickle in your throat gets you out of the Pro Bowl.
Basketball coach Billy Donovan has a couple of national titles at Florida on his resume, so the guy knows what he's doing. But, still, this Gators schedule is ridiculously soft. Tonight, the Gators play Georgia Southern. This after playing mighty-mites such as Toledo, Southern Utah, UMKC (I had to look up that UMKC stands for the University of Missouri-Kansas City), Florida A&M and Florida Gulf Coast. Upcoming games include Winthrop, Stetson and Longwood. And let's not talk about how tough the SEC is. This isn't football. Right now there is only one SEC team ranked in the Top 25 -- Tennessee at No. 16.
NBC's Cris Collinsworth took a few moments at halftime of Sunday night's Giants-Panthers game to point out how quickly the NFL can change. Hey, he gets credit for pointing out even his crew can turn out wrong. At some point not so long ago, people were saying the following.
* The Giants and Jets will meet in the Super Bowl.
* The Chargers and Colts are going to miss the playoffs.
* The Cowboys are finished.
* The Bucs have the best defense in the NFL.
* Arizona QB Kurt Warner will win the MVP.