Super Bowl LI

super-bowl

Is there a better a week in sports than Super Bowl week? And while we are at that, is there a better DAY in sports than Super Bowl Sunday? Of course, game seven of the NBA, MLB and NHL finals are all great, but the Super Bowl has a magic of its own. However, I figure that if you’re not a sports fan, you’ll never understand. But enough with dramatic (sort of) opening paragraphs and let’s talk about how the teams that will make sports fans happy all over the world this Sunday got to the biggest stage.

When the Patriots with Bellichick and Brady play a playoff game in Foxboro 100% focused it’s really hard to even think that they won’t beat anyone. After beating the Texans kind of going through the motions and raising some suspicions, they didn’t have any trouble beating the Steelers (okay, Bell’s injury was decisive to make things easier but even so…) and headed to their seventh Super Bowl since Brady and Bellichick joined them.

Everybody and their mother knew that Falcons and Packers was a game perfect for a shootout. What nobody expected was a single-sided shootout! There was only Matt Ryan playing against a nonexistent Packers defense and Aaron Rodgers having to deal with an offense plagued by injuries and Jordy Nelson playing with a broken rib. There was no contention and Atlanta easily smashed Green Bay.

Given the proper introductions, let’s talk about the main event.

SUPER BOWL LI: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS. ATLANTA FALCONS

There’s no shortage of people saying that we’re in for one of the greatest Super Bowl ever. That remains to be seen (remember how Seahawks and Broncos turned out?) but we certainly have all the ingredients for that to be confirmed.

The Patriots defense will face a huge test. Atlanta’s offense is firing on all cylinders and although underrated, Matt Ryan is a serious candidate for season MVP (despite what happened in the NFC final I still cast my vote to Aaron Rodgers). And as I said in my Conference finals post, they have the world’s greatest wide receiver in Julio Jones.

Having said that, let’s not forget that Bill Belichick is a defensive genius (he stopped Jim Kelly, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas in Super Bowl XXV while defensive coordinator for the Giants) and didn’t give Antonio Brown any chance in the AFC final. I think he will use the cornerback and the safety to try and do the same with Julio Jones opening more space to Sanu and Gabriel, as if he was saying: “okay, let’s see if THEY can win the game for you.” The problem with that is: he did the same the two times he faced the Giants in the Super Bowl and it didn’t work out. That’s one of the things to keep an eye on this Sunday.

At the other side of the ball, Atlanta’s defense who was great against Seattle and Green Bay (the injuries notwithstanding) will face one of the greatest QBs of all time (if not the greatest) with a lot of experience in the greatest stage of all. And Hogan, Amendola and Edelman are playing great helped by a dangerous running game with Blount. Will experience make all the difference in the world? Who knows, that’s what we gonna find out.

This one is pretty difficult to predict, but as a Saints fan and somebody who thinks Boston is the greatest place in the Universe, I’m going with my heart: Patriots 35-33.

I’m counting the hours till Sunday, and obviously putting some craft beer in the freezer. Good game to you all!

Current playlist:

Listening:

The Outlaws – Playin’ to Win

Lou Gramm – Ready or Not

Union – Strike

Rough Diamond – s/t

City Boy – City Boy Book Early

Highway Chile – Rockarama

Heart – Live At the Royal Albert Hall w/ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Watching:

Heart – Live At the Royal Albert Hall w/ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The Accountant

Westworld – Season 1

Reading

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower – Stephen King

You Can’t Make This Up – Al Michaels

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

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Super Bowl 50: an overview

Congratulations to the Denver Broncos, Super Bowl 50 champions. It was a battle between two great defenses and the Broncos came through on top thanks to an incredible performance by Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller, and Damarcus Ware.

This Super Bowl score and the game itself were described by the great Chris Berman from ESPN as a “Super Bowl VII kind of game.” It was grinding, it was old-school and it was hard fought. And again the old principle proved to be true: offenses wins you games, defense wins you championships.

Yes, I know I said the Broncos defense wouldn’t be able to contain Cam Newton, but (again as a Saints fan) I was gladly proven wrong. The performance was dominant to such extent that even former Broncos linebacker and current ESPN analyst, Tom Jackson said he never thought it was possible to have a defensive performance like that in modern football.

And despite a rather quiet performance by Peyton Manning, it was fitting that he capped a brilliant career with a World Championship. He got to the Super Bowl and won it on the back of his defense, but he deserved one more title.

As for the Carolina Panthers, the loss doesn’t erase their brilliant record and I’m sure they’ll dominate the NFC South for the next few years, especially if the Saints, Falcons and Bucs keep doing things wrong.

However, Cam Newton was pathetic walking out of the press conference. He’s unhappy, he lost a Super Bowl got to as an MVP and his team was huge favorite, we get it. But a great leader and someone who aims to be a role model and an idol, wins with class and lose with class. Besides, he is cocky on the field (nothing wrong with that) and must accept the consequences of being like that when you lose. He behaved like a spoiled brat. But this is nothing that time and some good advice won’t improve.

Overall, the Super Bowl proved once again why football is probably the greatest sport in the world TODAY: the underdog won and deservedly so. It was a fitting end to a fantastic season that had unforgettable games and overtimes.

The sad thing: we’ll have to wait till September to star again.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Bullet – No Mercy

Autograph – That’s the Stuff

Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct

Flying Colors – Second Nature

Watching:

The Walking Dead – Season V

Reading:

The Kill Artist – Daniel Silva

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, one of the most important nights in sports is upon us. Super Bowl 50 will be played next Sunday by the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers.

There are people labeling it as a battle of a New-School quarterback (Cam Newton)  against an Old-School quarterback (Peyton Manning), but that’s just one of the many challenges that will take place on the Santa Clara turf.

For example is also a battle between a team founded in 1960 to be part of the extinct AFL and that joined the NFL as part of the merger (Broncos), against a fairly new one, founded in 1995 (Panthers). The Broncos arrive at the Super Bowl for the eighth time (they won in 97 and 98 in the John Elway era) and the Panthers arrive at the big game for the second time (they lost the first time in 2003 to the Patriots, in Tom Brady’s first title).

Another interesting thing is: it will be the team with the best defense (Broncos) against the team with the best record. And this always begs the question: What will have more impact in a decisive game?

There’s a saying in sports that say: offense win you games, defense wins you championships, which would turn the balance Denver side, but my guess is that this time will be different.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: as a Saints fan, I wouldn’t want the Panthers to win because a) they are divisional rivals and b) I would love to have the Saints as the only Super Bowl champions in the NFC South forever. However, I can’t let that cloud my judgment about the game.

That said, I think the Panthers will win. Although Denver’s defense was the best in the league, let’s not forget they beat New England only because Gostkowski lost an extra-point in the first half. They didn’t actually hold the Patriots attack and I don’t think they can hold the Panthers’. Cam Newton is playing lights out and he is strong, mobile, good passer and outstanding runner. And he has great targets in Jerricho Cotchery, Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess; too many weapons, rather tough for any defense.

Besides, the Panthers defense is fairly good and will be tough for Manning. And I still think he’s not 100%. However, he is Peyton Manning and if he is inspired the good Broncos offense might help and we can have an upset.

But I won’t stay on the fence on this one and say Panthers 38-28.

All in all, I’m anxious for Sunday night and regardless of what happens, it will be a ball!

Current playlist:

Listening:

Pacific Gas & Ekectric – Are You Ready

TKO – In Your Face

The Rossington Band – Love Your Man

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

 

 

 

Hall of Idols # 50: Sean Payton

Sean-Payton

Fiftieth installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.

Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.

Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.

As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.

You can’t overstate the importance of a head-coach in a football team. He’s not only the technical leader; he must lead also a large group of men including the coaching staff and even the front office.

But if you got an organization used to win and with endless financial resources, everything tends to go smoothly. When you have to face a team used to be the laughing stock of the NFL and its home town just endured a hurricane and a flood, it’s another story. And that’s exactly what Sean Payton had to face.

Patrick Sean Payton was born December 29, 1963 in San Mateo, California. When he was seven, the family moved to Newton Square, Pennsylvania where he attended grade school and middle school. In high-school the family moved to Naperville, Illinois where at the Naperville Central High he was starting quarterback in his senior year. He managed to obtain a football scholarship and went on to be successful playing for the Eastern Illinois University.

Payton was not drafted and his professional career developed in the Arena Football League, the Canadian Football League and even in the UK Football league.

Upon returning home, he began his coaching career as offensive assistant at San Diego State University. He then landed positions as assistant coach at Indiana State University, Miami Ohio and Illinois, before going to the Philadelphia Eagles as quarterback coach.

He was then offensive coordinator at the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, before getting the invitation to a head-coaching job at the New Orleans Saints.

Now, of course, for a guy that was always an assistant a head-coaching job is a dream come true, but think about it for a second: he was going to a devastated city, to a team that had just coming out of a 3-13 season getting a quarterback that heard from a lot of doctors he would probably never play again. Not exactly football Shangri-la, is it?

He even had a discussion with his wife about it. It’s all thoroughly and deliciously explained in his great book: Home Team: Caching the Saints and New Orleans Back to Life.

The effects of the Brees-Payton partnership were already felt in its first year. First, with the historical blocked punt by Steve Gleason against the Atlanta Falcons on the day the Superdome reopened his doors after being destroyed by Katrina. The play was ordered by Payton and today is immortalized in a statue in front of the stadium; then, with the Saints going to their first NFC championship, but losing to the Chicago Bears in a miserable Windy City cold.

After making some improvements on the roster (the story about managing to get Reggie Bush he tells in his book is great), in 2009 the Saints had a 13-3 regular season and after a thrilling game against the Vikings at home, they won the NFC and went on to the Super Bowl.

In the Super Bowl against the heavy favorite Indianapolis Colts and losing 10-0 at the half, Sean opened the second half with an ONSIDE KICK! How many coaches would have the guts to do that? This play turned the game around and the Saints won. But it was not only that, in his book he tells everything that went behind the curtains (including giving prizes even to the player’s wives!) to build a championship team. And these things were all instrumental in Saints victory.

I know the last few years people (myself included) had been critical of some of Payton’s play calling and other things, but this cannot take out the brilliance of his achievement. He won a SUPER BOWL with the New Orleans Saints! This is huge and eternal and makes him always a hero to me.

Therefore, Sean, come marching in to the Hall of Idols.

Current playlist:

Reading:

Salem’s lot – Stephen King

Watching:

Breaking Bad – Season V

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

NewPinnacleAward3D2 (1)

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

Super Bowl XLIX: So hard to choose

superbowl

Are you ready for some football? That was the chorus that dominated ESPN’s Monday Night Football opening theme sung by Hank Williams III. Afterwards he had a fall out with the network and he and the song were dropped. Anyway, the reason I started the post with it is that I do hope that you’re all ready for some football.

I mean, last year’s duel between those same Seahawks and the Broncos was primed to be a close game, but we and the Broncos offense were all shattered by the Seahawks defense. It was a rout nobody was expecting. This year we live the same expectation, but it will be an even greater surprise if we see another rout (either from the Pats or the Seahawks).

Therefore this year we are bound to have some serious contention about who will take the Lombardi home and my guess is that we gonna see some serious football played in Glendale.

First of all, it made me really happy that after so many wrong predictions in the Final Four, NBA Finals and World Series, I got the two finalists right. The Pats against the Colts were not rocket science, but I’m most glad that not only I was right about the Seahawks; I was right on the money that it would be a game for the ages. It was a monumental comeback, one with its story guaranteed in football history books.

Second, I’m not going to talk about “Deflategate” anymore. I read and listened to zillions of opinions about it and I couldn’t come up to a conclusion if it was a big deal or not. Therefore I decided that here at my blog I’m only talking about the game next Sunday. Whatever happened before it doesn’t matter.

As I said above everybody’s expectation is that this one should be a wonderful, tight game between teams that ended up with the best record in their respective conferences.

Another interesting thing is that we gonna see the last team to win back-to-back championships (Patriots) against the only team that have this chance over the last ten years! That should also contribute to a thrilling duel.

There’s so many things to keep both eyes open on this game is even hard to decide which to talk about. For example: will Tom Brady throw in the direction of Gronk if Richard Sherman is there? Will Gronk be able to receive passes in the slot? How New England will manage to stop Seattle running game with Marshall Lynch, assuming he will be on Beast Mode? Will Russell Wilson throw to any of his receivers if they happen to be where Darrelle Revis is? How the Seahawks will work if the Patriots decide to go to no huddle offense? As a matter of fact is impossible to answer those questions with 100% certainty.

And let’s not forget the coaches. As controversial as he is, Bill Belichick is regarded by many as one of the best (if not THE best) football coaches of all time. He will be up against another great (and one of the most intense) coach in Pete Carroll, who seemed to be loved by his players. They seemed to play for him.

All in all, after everything I wrote, I need to take a stand. In the end, who I think will be at the podium celebrating?  This one is really though. I can’t stress this enough and I wouldn’t bet a dime in any of the teams. But, just for the sake of choosing someone, I think Marshall Lynch can be a huge factor in the Patriots defense and Seahawks Legion of Boom can make Brady’s life a living hell. Seahawks 30, Patriots 27. It should be amazing to watch!

Current playlist:

Listening:

Stevie Nicks – 24 Carat Gold

Goatwhore – Carving Out The Eyes Of God

Watching:

Wayne’s World

Pistol Whipped

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

NewPinnacleAward3D2 (1)

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

Hall Of Idols #17: Drew Brees

NFL-2009-Drew-Brees-QB-New-Orleans-Saints

Seventeenth installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.

Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.

Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.

As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.

Football season is upon us and I swear that this name popped up from my ballot by pure luck. Football gods were probably watching.

Well, of course with a few exceptions, sports idols have always a deep personal connection with us. After all, seldom times you love somebody from a rival team.

And I must say that Drew Brees is here because although he got impressive numbers he was one of the main reasons the Saints won their only Super Bowl title.

Drew Christopher Brees was born in Austin (TX), January 15, 1979. He had his high-school career at Westlake High School and university career at Purdue, before starting to play professionally for the San Diego Chargers.

After suffering a severe injury to his right (throwing) shoulder and feeling that the front-office didn’t have any confidence in his recovery, Drew started to meet with other teams, signing a deal with the New Orleans Saints in 2006.

Now, let’s not forget: Drew faced not only a franchise that was pitied by all the others in the league for never getting anywhere (New Orleans “Aints” and “lovable losers” were nicknames often used to describe the team) but he had to face a city devastated by Hurricane Katrina just one year before.

However, due to a change in the management of the team that also hired Sean Payton (who will definitely be part of the Hall some day in the future), Brees started to feel the he could march the Saints (no pun intended) to finally grab that elusive Super Bowl ring.

And in the 2009-2010 season the great moment came. After a record start of 13-0 and finishing the season 13-3, with Brees pulverizing record after record, the Saints under Brees leadership routed the Arizona Cardinals, beat Brett Favre’s lead Vikings in a dramatic victory in overtime at the Superdome to take the NFC title and were ready to take on the heavily favorite Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.

With a stellar performance that earned him the Super Bowl MVP award and benefiting from Sean Payton’s boldness on the bench, the Saints defeated the Colts 31-17 and won the Super Bowl. Drew was also named Male Athlete of the Year by the AP.

It is also worth noticing that he won the Sportsman of the Year from Sports Illustrated, but not only because of his football season, but also due to his direct involvement in the rebuilding of the hurricane devastated New Orleans.

The Saints are yet to repeat their Super Bowl run but Drew are still putting up good numbers and no matter what happens he already made history.

So, Drew, I hope you are ready for some football and to get in the Hall Of Idols.

 Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

Grammy Awards 2014

Hello everybody ! Last night I watched some parts of the Grammy Awards. It’s been about more than 20 years since I had last watched even one minute of it and actually, it was not that bad. It was maybe the most interesting Grammy’s in a long time. I mean, of couse I only watched the parts that interested me, namely Paul McCartney, Ringo and Metallica. But, although I think Daft Punk is very boring I could actually enjoy them playing alongside Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers.

Anyway, the obvious highlights were: Paul and Ringo sharing a stage after a long time (unfortunately they played a Paul tune and not a Beatles tune, but it doesn’t matter), Black Sabbath announcing the Ringo Starr Band, the Ringo Starr Band playing the wonderful “Photograph” with Steve Lukather and Peter Framptom on guitars and backing vocals and Greg Phillingaines on keyborads and Metallica playing “One” with that crazy Japanese pianist.

On a more personal note, I was extremely happy to see Steve Lukather, Greg Phillingaines and Leland Sklar (who played bass when Willie Nelson and Kris Kristoferson were on stage), playing at the Grammy’s as I had the huge honor of interviewing them all together when they were in Toto.

And finally, the day has come. February 2nd is Super Bowl sunday. I’m picking the Seahwaks to win it. I know Payton Manning is great, but I still think the Broncos’ attack was not tested yet against a great defense. And that’s what Seattle has, a great defense. Anyway, it should be fun to watch and it promises to be a fantastic game.

And the last thing this time is somnething that I’ll start doing every week: I’ll post here what I’ve been listening, reading and watching the week before the post. So here’s this week choices:

Listening: The Beatles – BBC 2, Kylesa – Ultraviolet, Watain – The Wild Hunt, Tombs – Tombs, Tears For Fears – Songs From The Big Chair

Reading: Sanctuary – William Faulkner, The Real Frank Zappa Book – Frank Zappa w/ Peter Occhiogrosso

Watching: Rush – Clockwork Angels Tour (DVD)

See you all next week.