Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito named 110th Supreme Court justice

Judge Samuel A. Alito is now Justice Alito after a 58-42 Senate confirmation vote today.

Despite the grandstanding of Sen. John Kerry (from Switzerland, no less), there was never any real threat of a filibuster. Once it was decided Alito would get an up-or-down vote, his confirmation was all but assured.

By the way, can you tell we’re in an election year? The four Democrats who broke party lines to vote for Alito were Robert Byrd (WV), Tim Johnson (SD), Ben Nelson (NE) and Kent Conrad (ND). It’s no coincidence that the aforementioned Senators represent states which went to President Bush in the 2004 election.

The only nay vote from Republicans came courtesy of Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a consistently “blue state” in Presidential elections.

Despite the public relations beatings President Bush has suffered due to the Iraq war, enormous government spending, illegal immigration, etc., you can hardly deny the resounding victories in his nominations to the SCOTUS.

Given that one of the platforms the President ran on was re-shaping the courts with judges who would actually uphold the constitution, he has hit a home run with the appointments of Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Where were you twenty years ago today?

I was in my junior year of high school at Harding High in St Paul, MN. I happened to be in the midst of another exam in my American History class when Mr. Keenan, the purveyor of our school announcements, came on the loud speaker with a very succinct message:

“The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off this morning.”

That particular message resonated with the majority of students and teachers due to the fact there was a teacher on board the Challenger. Sharon “Christa” McAuliffe was an American teacher from New Hampshire who was selected from among more than 11,000 applicants to be the first teacher in space. Because of the extra notoriety surrounding this mission, students all over the world were viewing the launch on TV in anticipation of receiving a science lesson from outer space. Instead, those same young people had to endure the pictures of such a tragic event.

Then President Ronald Reagan, who postponed his State of the Union address that evening, summed up the tragedy in his usual graceful manner:

"We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"Twenty years later we offer many continued prayers on the behalf of the families of crew members McAuliffe, Francis “Dick” Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair and Gregory Jarvis.

We truly will never forget.

Steve Smith or Dee Brown.

In professional and college sports alike, you see your share of characters. I’m not talking merely about personality but rather the unique names of individuals. From NFL QB Guido Merkins to NBA star World B. Free to non-descript baseball player Buddy Biancalana, we have seen a plethora of unusual names.

What about some of the more common names amongst athletes?

If you’ve watched any pro or collegiate sports over the last 15-20 years, you no doubt have heard of Steve Smith and Dee Brown, right?

Now when I mentioned those names, the immediate reactions probably varied.

That’s because there seems to have been an inordinate number of athletes with those very names.

Here’s a little trivia game I like to call simply “Steve Smith or Dee Brown.”

I’ll give a short bio of a professional or collegiate athlete. You answer, quite simply, Steve Smith or Dee Brown.

1) Carolina Panthers wide receiver; named the NFC comeback player of the year in 2005.

2) NBA guard drafted fifth overall in 1991 out of Michigan State.

3) NBA guard drafted nineteenth overall in 1990 out of Jacksonville U.

4) Kansas City Chiefs running back. Originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers.

5) Senior guard with the University of Illinois basketball team.

6) Wide receiver who just completed his junior season with the USC Trojans. A member of
the Trojans’ back-to-back national title teams in 2003 and 2004.

7) Was drafted by the Raiders in the third round of the 1987 NFL draft. A running back out of Penn State.

8) Outfielder who played with the Kansas City Royals for seven seasons.

Non-sports figures (EXTRA CREDIT)

9) The drummer of the 80s super group “Journey.”

10) The God-fearing bible student who, in 1985, introduced yours truly to the Lord.


1) Steve Smith

2) Steve Smith

3) Dee Brown

4) Dee Brown

5) Dee Brown

6) Steve Smith

7) Steve Smith

8) Dee Brown

9) Steve Smith

10)Steve Smith

Easy, Rider.

He was late to his introductory press conference after finally signing a contract as the fifth overall draft pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1993.

It proved to be an inauspicious omen in the life and NBA career of one Isaiah “J.R.” Rider.

I guess I can’t say I was shocked when reading of Rider’s most recent plight.

From espn.com:

Troubled former NBA player Isaiah Rider appeared in court Friday to face kidnapping charges but did not enter a plea because he did not have a lawyer.

Rider, 34, was arrested Thursday on charges of kidnapping and battery, said Sgt. Bruce Baker of the Marin County Sheriff's office. Rider, who also faces an outstanding warrant for resisting arrest in Alameda County, was released Friday from Marin County Jail on $2 million bail.

Rider allegedly got into an argument Wednesday night with the unidentified female acquaintance and drove off with her against her will, Baker said. The woman began to scream, attracting the attention of police. Authorities tracked Rider down early Thursday morning and arrested him, Baker said. The woman was not injured.

Rider told Marin County Superior Court Judge Verna Adams that he had called his lawyers but no one showed up. The public defender's office offered to consult with Rider but he said he would be represented by a private attorney.

Adams ordered Rider to return to court Monday.

Again, that appears to be a microcosm of Rider’s existence. He called his lawyers but no one showed up? C’mon, JR. That sounds awfully similar to the excuses you used to put forth when being late to practice as a member of the Timberwolves. Like the time the plumbing in your house failed because of frozen pipes? Or the time your SUV wouldn’t start because it was too cold? Both incidents took place around early November----WHEN IT WAS 40-PLUS DEGREES OUTSIDE! I know that may seem chilly to a California native but here in “Minny” we’re wearing wind breakers at that temperature.
That’s not to say that Rider didn’t have his moments of brilliance. I’ll never forget a game in his rookie season of 1993-94. The Wolves were taking on the New York Knicks at the famed Madison Square Garden. Knicks center Patrick Ewing was going in for a breakaway dunk when out of absolutely nowhere the 6’5” Rider swooped in from behind and swatted away the 7’0” Ewing’s dunk attempt.

Who could forget Rider’s performance in the slam dunk contest on All-Star weekend at his home Target Center in 1994? His “East Bay funk dunk” (above, in progress) allowed Rider to take home the Slam Dunk championship as a rookie. As Rider approached the basket he leapt toward the rim. While in mid-air he transferred the basketball between his legs from on hand to the other and came down with a windmill style jam. Players and fans alike were brought to their feet in absolute astonishment at such a physiological feat.

Those would be some of the few moments in Rider’s career when his on-court performance was more newsworthy.

Rider racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and suspensions in his NBA career, which ended in 2001. His offenses ranged from being tardy to practice to spitting at fans and airport personnel to crimes of assault and marijuana possession.

He spent two days in jail for failing to perform court-ordered community service for a 1994 assault charge -- kicking a woman in the back after a disagreement at an autograph signing.

In May 1997 he was convicted of marijuana possession and later pleaded no contest to possessing unregistered cellular phones.

Rider would spend only three years in Minnesota. He was then traded to Portland in 1996 and spent three seasons with the Trail Blazers. He was suspended for a total of 12 games during his time in Portland, including three by the NBA in 1997 for spitting at a fan in Detroit.

After getting traded to Atlanta for Steve Smith on Aug. 2, 1999, Rider was late to his first day of camp, and never could get along with coach Lenny Wilkens. He was released in March 2000 after refusing to accept a three-game suspension for being late to a game.

He spent the 2000-01 season with the Los Angeles Lakers and was suspended five games that season for violating the league's anti-drug program.

He joined Denver the next season and was waived in November 2001 after playing just 10 games with the Nuggets. Rider never played again in the NBA.

It’s almost a cliché when talking about a professional athlete who was loaded with talent that went mostly unfulfilled.

Rider always took pride in the fact he never forgot his roots, which were embedded in the tough streets of Oakland’s east side. Despite the fact he was an up and coming NBA star in the early 90s, he could just as easily be found in his old neighborhood playing a game of dice on the sidewalk.

I guess it’s true what they say. You can take a kid out of the mean streets but you can’t take the mean streets out of the kid.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mercy killing

From the Internet movie database:

Controversial new US drama The Book of Daniel, starring actor Aidan Quinn as a pill-popping Episcopal priest, has been cancelled.

Man, with that premise alone you had to know it was doomed.

The show was a target for conservative religious groups who were upset that the main character, Father Daniel Webster, conducted regular chats with Jesus as he popped painkillers.

Beware of the liberals counteracting with a Rush-Limbaugh-on-OxyContin diatribe.

The show also features storylines dealing with drug dealing, alcoholism and homosexuality, which also outraged religious groups, who petitioned to get the show canceled.

For NBC to have cancelled the show, it was a BUSINESS decision. Alienating the majority of Americans (83% identify themselves as Christians) is not smart business. NBC, after all, is in existence for one reason and one reason only: TO MAKE A PROFIT. Despite that fact, you will no doubt hear from the Hollywood left in how it is another loss for “artistic freedom.” But as Lee Habeeb pointed out in his fantastic op-ed on National Review Online, the show would have eventually died a “natural death – the low ratings kind.”

A television station in Indiana had to post security outside their studios after receiving death threats for airing the controversial religious drama.

Only in a red state, huh?

Friday's installment of the show came in a distant third in its time slot and NBC network executives decided to pull the show.

You’ve no doubt heard the query “If a tree falls in a forest with nobody there, does it actually make a sound?” In that mode, if “The Book of Daniel” was cancelled because nobody watched, did an episode ever really air?

The show had filmed eight episodes but no new episodes are scheduled to air and will be replaced by coverage of the Winter Olympics.

NBC has to be asking: “Where’s a Nancy-Tonya saga when you really need one?”

Saturday, January 21, 2006

NFL Conference championships: The Final Four

Statistics are like one of those skimpy bikinis occasionally seen on a woman:

They show a lot but they don’t show everything.

In the NFC divisional round, the Carolina Panthers allowed 21 points to the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field. We’re talking about the same Bears club that was also ranked #1 defensively most of the season.

In the other NFC match-up, the Seattle Seahawks lost running back (and NFL MVP) Shaun Alexander in the first quarter against the Washington Redskins.

If I were armed with those statistics prior to both contests, I would deduce a Redskins-Bears NFC title game match-up.

To quote ESPN’s resident obnoxious carnival barker, Chris Berman: “That is why they play the game.”

Carolina may have allowed 21 points to an ordinary Bears offense but they scorched one of the top NFL defenses for 434 yards and 29 points.

Meanwhile, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck threw for a touchdown, ran for another in Seattle’s 20-10 win over the Redskins.

The AFC divisional round?

The reigning Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots, had five turnovers in Denver against the Broncos.

In the other AFC contest, the Pittsburgh Steelers were clinging to a 3 point lead with 17 seconds remaining. It came down to a 46-yard game-tying field goal attempt by Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt.

Again, if I were given those vital stats prior to game time, I’d say it would be a Steelers-Broncos AFC championship game.

As Knicks announcer Marv Albert would say: “YESSS!”

New England has had a phenomenal run, winning three Super Bowls in the past four seasons. But Denver, 8-0 at home in 2005, forced the Patriots to commit five turnovers in last weeks’ game. No surprise the Broncos went on to win 27-13.

I knew the Colts were doomed when it was left up to Vanderjagt to tie instead of Peyton Manning to win. I know Vanderjagt is one of the most accurate kickers in terms of field goal percentage. But when he’s under pressure in the playoffs? You need to look no further than his miss in overtime against the Miami Dolphins in the 2000 wildcard playoffs. I think the kick started in Miami’s stadium but ended up in Havana, Cuba. So there was almost this air of inevitablility lingering last Sunday when Vanderjagt missed the tying field goal attempt, having it again sail wide right in the Colts' 21-18 loss.

I guess Vanderjagt’s playoff accuracy is hindered when he has two hands wrapped around his throat.

Anyways, here are my picks against the point spread for this week’s Conference championships.

Again, these picks are strictly satirical and not to be used to place bets.

Steelers (+3) at Broncos: Were it not for a touchdown-saving tackle by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in last weeks game, Pittsburgh wouldn’t even be here. You saw the play. With just over a minute to go and the Steelers leading by 3, Pittsburgh’s Jerome Bettis fumbled at the Indianapolis 2-yard line. The ball was picked up by Colts cornerback Nick Harper, who looked to have a clear path to the end zone when he was tripped up by Roethlisberger. Yes that was the same Nick Harper who earlier that week was “accidentally” stabbed in the knee by his wife, Daniell, in a domestic dispute. If I had to guess, I’d say the Steelers were the first team in NFL history to award the game ball to an opposing players’ wife.

With their victory over the New England Patriots, the Denver Broncos attained their first playoff victory since Super Bowl XXXIII. That was also John Elway’s final game! The Broncos are attempting to make their seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, while the Steelers are vying for their sixth berth.
Pick: Broncos

Panthers (+3 ½) at Seahawks: The Seattle Seahawks, in their 30th season of existence, will gain their first Super Bowl berth in franchise history with a win Sunday. The last (and only) time they were in a conference title game? Twenty two seasons ago when they were in the AFC. Curt Warner (not the former Rams QB) was the running back and Dave Krieg was their quarterback. Krieg was best known for attending school at Milton College in Wisconsin, a place that ceased to exist (Milton College, not Wisconsin) once he became an established NFL pro.

Compared to the Seahawks, the Carolina Panthers are an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the post season. In only eleven seasons in the NFL, this is the Panthers third title game appearance. Carolina head coach John Fox took over a team that had just finished 1-15 in 2001 and lead them to a Super Bowl two seasons later.
Pick: Seahawks

Last Week: 2-2-0

Overall: 68-60-6

Quote of the week:

"It was Pavarotti coughing in the middle of the Ave Maria."

-Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy on the Patriots' normally clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri missing a field goal in their 27-13 playoff loss to Denver.


Friday, January 13, 2006

NFL Divisional round: Familiarity breeds comtempt.

The saying goes “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” With this week’s games all being rematches of regular season contests, things will definitely get heated up.

Like last year, three of the four road teams won in last week’s wild card round. But then the home teams made a clean sweep in the 2004 divisional round.

Will history repeat itself in 2005?

As always, the following picks against the point spread are not to be used as a basis for a cash wager.

Redskins (+9) at Seahawks: The forecast this weekend in Seattle calls for showers….especially if Redskins safety Sean Taylor gets into a heated argument with an opposing player.
Hawks win, Skins cover.
Pick: Redskins

Patriots (+3) at Broncos: I know the Broncos are tough at home and I know they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game. But betting against Pats QB Tom Brady (10-0) in the playoffs? At this point, I’d feel safer investing in Northwest Airlines stock.
Pick: Patriots

Steelers (+9 ½) at Colts: Steelers linebacker Joey Porter isn’t impressed with the Colts style of play. “They don't want to just call a play, get up there and run a play. They want to make you think. They want it to be a thinking game instead of a football game.” Well, Joey. I “think” your team is done after Sunday.
Colts win, Steelers cover.
Pick: Steelers

Panthers (+3) at Bears: In the regular season match-up, the Bears sacked Panthers QB Jake Delhomme eight times! Near the end of the game the Panthers offensive line didn’t even bother to block. Instead, they moved aside and yelled “DUCK”!
Pick: Panthers

Last week: 3-1-0

Overall: 66-58-6

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Kennedy to make a "Splash" with kids book.

Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy, an author of a children’s book?

Apparently so, according to a Reuters story released yesterday.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sen. Ted Kennedy is writing a children's book that will explain the workings of government from the point of view of his dog Splash.

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! SPLASH???!!! Kennedy named his dog SPLASH???!!! Doesn’t anybody see the irony here?

Isn’t that like O.J. Simpson naming his pet “Glove”?

Or Bill Clinton naming his pooch…uh…well, we won’t go there.

Publisher Scholastic said "My Senator and Me: A Dog's-Eye View of Washington, D.C." was a 56-page picture book about a day in the life of a senator and his dog, explaining how laws are made. It will be published in May.

"Kids love animal stories and they will be captivated by the tale of Senator Kennedy's extraordinary Portuguese water dog, and his adventures in Congress," said Lisa Holton, President Children's Books and Book Fairs, Scholastic.

Like the time Splash soiled the floor of the Senate chamber? As a kid that would certainly grab my attention!

Scholastic said in a statement Kennedy was inspired to write the book after working with a children's reading program in Washington for the past five years.

"Reading is a lifelong adventure and I hope that this book will spark an interest in young people to learn more about their government and to explore the joy of books," Kennedy said in the statement.

Learn more about the government from your perspective, Senator? Does the book give detailed explanations on how one slanders the name of a Supreme Court nominee?

Scholastic said the book would offer a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a U.S. senator from the perspective of his canine companion, who was given the formal name Champion Amigo's Seventh Wave and nickname Splash by his original owner.

"Splash is always at Senator Kennedy's side -- in his office, at press conferences, in meetings at the Capitol and even right outside the Senate chamber," the statement said.

I just hope Splash is never in an automobile with Senator Kennedy.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

NFL wild card playoffs: Experience preferred, not required

Wild Card weekend!

The NFL playoffs are in full swing with some intriguing match-ups. Each game will feature one starting quarterback with playoff experience with the opposing QB having none. That’s the angle taken by many of the football analysts regarding this weekend’s games. But just how important is it to have been battle tested in playoff football?

Joe Montana had zero playoff experience in 1981. Zip. Nada. Nuthin’.

Same for Kurt Warner in 1999.

Ditto for Tom Brady in 2001.

The results? A Super Bowl MVP trophy for all three.

That said, I don’t put a lot of stock in so-called playoff “mojo”. However, I do believe that the four starting QBs who have appeared in the post season previously will lead their respective teams to victory this weekend.

But the real question here is will they all cover?

As always, the following picks against the point spread are for recreational purposes only.

Redskins (+2 ½) at Buccaneers: The Buccaneers won a regular season thriller over the Redskins in Week 10. With the ‘Skins leading 35-28, the Bucs scored a TD with less than a minute remaining. Coach Jon Gruden decided to go for the win by calling for a two-point conversion attempt. The officials ruled that RB Mike Alstott crossed the goal line, giving the Bucs the win, 36-35. I guess in the eyes of that officiating crew, closeness counts in horse shoes, hand grenades and two-point tries.
Pick: Redskins

Jaguars (+7 ½) at Patriots: Jags QB Byron Leftwich remarkably will return just six weeks after breaking his ankle. But I’m afraid his club will fall a bit shy given that two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady is unbeaten in his playoff career (9-0). However, your day will come, Byron. Remember, Denzel Washington was beaten out by Al Pacino for Best Actor at the 1992 Oscars. I think Denzel rebounded nicely, didn’t he?
Pats win, Jags cover.
Pick: Jaguars

Panthers (+2 ½) at Giants: Panthers coach John Fox threatened to fine players if they engaged the Giants in trash talking. However, Fox would allow them to earn the money back if they could successfully spell “Osi Umenyiora.”
Pick: Panthers

Steelers (-3) at Bengals: Did you happen to see the Bengals performance on defense each of the last two weeks? An average of over 30 points and 400-plus yards allowed. If you have a bobble-head doll out there of a Cincinnati defensive player, dousing it with gasoline and setting it ablaze would make it more life-like.
Pick: Steelers

Last Week: 6-7-3

Overall: 63-57-6

Thursday, January 05, 2006

O'Reilly vs. Letterman

The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, home to “The Late Show with David Letterman”, has a reputation for keeping the studio temperature rather cool.

With the guest appearance of Bill O’Reilly on “The Late Show” Tuesday night, things definitely heated up.

I can’t say whether Letterman had disdain for O’Reilly prior to the visit. However, as the interview progressed, it was quite clear that Letterman became agitated by a few of O’Reilly’s remarks.

If you’ve ever heard or seen O’Reilly, he is a self-described “Traditionalist”, which means he will often fall on the more conservative side on most social issues.

The interview started with O’Reilly wishing Letterman a Happy “Winter Solstice”. Of course, O’Reilly was playfully alluding to selective groups in the United States who feel the uttering of “Merry Christmas” or references to Jesus Christ are suddenly taboo. He even referenced a few different scenarios where lyrics to Christmas carols were revised, a manger could not contain the baby Jesus et al, and green and red napkins being banned. Letterman seemed to think that all the anti-Christmas rhetoric was being overblown and that the cases O’Reilly stated were merely isolated incidents.

Where things really got tense was in the discussion of the Iraq war. O’Reilly has been on record as saying he resented Cindy Sheehan’s claim that insurgents in Iraq were actually “freedom fighters”. Mrs. Sheehan has been in the news for the past several months for her militant anti-war stance after the loss of her son, Casey, in combat. At the moment O’Reilly invoked Cindy Sheehan’s name on Letterman’s program, it became very apparent that Letterman sympathized with Sheehan.

O’Reilly: “This is important, this is important. Cindy Sheehan lost a son, a professional soldier in Iraq, correct? She has a right to grieve any way she wants, she has a right to say whatever she wants. When she says to the public that the insurgents and terrorists are 'freedom fighters,’ how do you think, David Letterman, that makes people who lost loved ones, by these people blowing the Hell out of them, how do you think they feel, what about their feelings, sir?”

Letterman: “What about, why are we there in the first place? The President himself, less than a month ago said we are there because of a mistake made in intelligence. Well, whose intelligence? It was just somebody just get off a bus and handed it to him?
……..See, I’m very concerned about people like yourself who don’t have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan.”

I know people personally who have had to bury a child. No question, they have my endless sympathy. Cindy Sheehan, whom I do not know, has my endless sympathy in the loss of her child. But does that mean Mrs. Sheehan is the ultimate authority on all things related to combat? If we adamantly disagree with her claim that people who deliberately destroy women and children are “freedom fighters” that automatically makes us unsympathetic to her loss?

I can’t pretend to completely outraged by Letterman’s comments. After all, this is a guy who has created wealth by, among other things, dropping water melons off a 10-story building and having animals on his show that can open refrigerators (Nice work if you can get it). I don’t take him at all seriously when he claims that 60% of what O’Reilly says is crap.

O’Reilly: “Our analysis is based on the best evidence we can get.”

Letterman: “Yeah, but I think there’s something, this fair and balanced. I'm not sure that it's, I don't think that you represent an objective viewpoint.”

O’Reilly: “Well, you’re going to have to give me an example if you're going to make those claims.”

Letterman: “Well I don’t watch your show so that would be impossible.”

O’Reilly: “Then why would you come to that conclusion if you don't watch the program?”

Letterman: “Because of things that I’ve read, things that I know.”

A wise man once said “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you do know that isn’t true.”

After Letterman's pathetic display Tuesday evening, I once again long for the days of just "Stupid Pet Tricks" and Larry "Bud" Melman.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Tice gone; Who's next?

Let the speculation begin!!

Now that Mike Tice has been fired as Minnesota Vikings head coach after four seasons, who will be the seventh head coach in team history?

As a Vikings fan since 1978, I have my own thoughts as to whom the Vikings might consider as well as whom they should consider.


To adhere to the NFL hiring policy, teams must interview at least one minority candidate. However, in my opinion, this should be no token inquiry.

Singletary is a Hall of Fame linebacker who was a member of one of the most prolific defenses in history, the 1985 Chicago Bears. He was linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2003-04. Ray Lewis was named 2003 NFL defensive player of the year under the tutelage of Singletary. In 2005, Singletary was in his first season as San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach/linebackers.

In 2001, Singletary won the Walter Camp’s “Man of the Year Award,” based on his reputation for integrity and leadership within his profession and contributions benefiting his community, country and fellow man. He also co-founded Leadership Zone, a company that provides leadership training. That’s the kind of personal pedigree that would be welcome in an organization like the Vikings, who have lacked favorable PR over the past several seasons.


When one coaches a top tier defense in the NFL, one almost gets immediate consideration. That said, Rivera has become a hot candidate in resurrecting an average Bears defense.

Rivera played nine seasons at linebacker for the Bears, coached the Eagles' linebackers for five seasons and spent the past two years coordinating the Bears' successful defense.

In the Minneapolis Star Tribune today, Bears head coach Lovie Smith said he’d be “disappointed if (Rivera) didn't get interviews [this week]. He's done an outstanding job. He's a great football coach and he deserves his shot running his own team some day."

Rivera also has the admiration and respect of All-Pro Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
"He has the demeanor to be a great head coach," Urlacher told the Star Tribune. "He doesn't get too ticked off or too happy. He's like Coach Smith. He's a smart guy, he knows football and he knows how to win."


While this wouldn’t be my favorite choice, Fassel has the familiarity factor with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. As a life long NY Giants fan, Wilf had the opportunity to see Fassel coach the Giants from 1997 through 2003. In those seven seasons, Fassel compiled a record of 58-53-1 with two NFC East championships, a conference championship and one Super Bowl appearance.


Linehan just completed his first season as Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, where the Dolphins finished the 2005 season with six consecutive victories.

We all know that Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper has had a somewhat erratic career in his seven NFL seasons. However, he never flourished more than in the 2003-04 seasons when Linehan was the Vikings offensive coordinator. In fact, Culpepper averaged just over 4,000 yards passing, 32 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions in those two years. When it was rumored that Linehan would be leaving after the 2004 season, Culpepper made public pleas to find a way to keep him. After a dreadful start to the 2005 season where Culpepper had only 6 TD tosses and 12 INTs in seven games, it seems the pleas where a premonition. The Vikings went from a top 5 offense (in terms of yardage) to a bottom 10 unit in the span of one season.

That is a short list of many candidates who are available to be had.

I’m not sure which will be more intriguing: The process of interviewing candidates or making the actual hire.