February 06, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk V: Parties rage, Goodell dabs, Lombardi sings, (Florida) Panthers vs. Broncos; plus Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum, our SB 50 pick, Smirk IV, your verdict on Canes recruiting & more


1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6. In The Previous Blogpost: National Signing Day with how-Canes-did poll, Super Bowl With a Smirks II and III, updated NBA/NHL title odds & more. 1Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

The Super Bowl's hidden key matchup: Click on Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum for today's latest column by me. I write how the game could come down to whether Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula or Denver defensive chief Wade Phillips gets the better of the other. A generation ago their fathers, Don Shula and Bum Phillips, also famously dueled.

Canton calling: Pro Football Hall of Fame will reveal its 2016 inductees during the NFL Honors show tonight. Ex-Hurricanes running back Edgerrin James is the only former Cane or Dolphin on the balot but is expected to fall short. Beyond certain first-ballot inductee Brett Favre, others with the best shot to make it are Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene and Tony Dungy.

"So great seeing retired Herald legend (and one of my mentors) Edwin Pope back in the paper yesterday with a Miami Super Bowl memories column. Had to be an unexpected treat for lots of surprised readers, like happening upon a family heirloom you thought you'd lost." --Greg Cotexx

SUPER BOWL 50 PREDICTION: UPSET! DEFENSE RULES, BRONCOS WIN: Carolina is 17-1 and favored by 5 1/2 points, which is a lot. Denver has a fading, hobbly quarterback about to turn 40. Get all of that. But still like Broncos in an upset because I don't think Peyton Manning will need to play hero Sunday night in Santa Clara, Calif. I think his defense will do that for him. Fripix"AAAWWWK!" crows the Upset Bird, even though he's only supposed to appear during the regular season. "Peyton Maaawwwk! Omahaawwk!" A friend of mine who has his bookie on speed-dial loves the phrase, "The masses are asses." He says that to explain his pet betting philosophy-hunch: That when everybody else is zigging to one team, that’s when you zag to the other. Let the lemmings herd toward the cliff; I’ll head the other way. This crossed my mind as I decided to pull the trigger on an upset in the Golden SB — Denver not only covering the point spread but beating Carolina outright. That did not influence my decision, though, as much as this: I am sold on this Broncos’ defense, and I believe in it enough to think it will get the better of Cam Newton and a pretty awesome Panthers’ offense. This is a Denver D that limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to 16 points in the first playoff game, and only three field goals after the first quarter. This is a Denver D that utterly frustrated Tom Brady and New England in the AFC title game, budgeting Brady to a 56.4 passer rating and under 50 percent completions and intercepting him twice. I know that Carolina’s ground attack out of the shotgun, including Newton’s run-threat, presents a challenge Brady and the Patriots did not. But I still see Denver up to that challenge. The irony of Manning in what could be his final career game is that most of the winning will be done with him on the sideline if his defense takes charge as I believe it will. My pick: Broncos, 23-20.

ESPN experts overwhelmingly like Panthers: ESPN polled 70 of its NFL experts on who'll win the Super Bowl and it was 53-17 for Carolina, or 75.7 percent. Notables for underdog Denver (meaning people I'd heard of): Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Suzy Kolber, Todd McShay, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth and Trey Wingo.

SMIRK V: EXCESS REACHES CRESCENDO WITH REGAME PARTIES: Here is the last of five Super Bowl With a Smirk columns for 2016: You know the Super Bowl is getting really close when the biggest parties are happening. Hey, is that Snoop Dogg? Look, it’s a Kardashian! A Super Bowl city on the eve of the Big Game is when you might hear someone shout, “Ludacris!” and not be Smirk Playboypartysure if they spotted the rapper or were commenting on the absurdity of it all. Playboy’s 16th annual Super Bowl party happened Friday night under a 35,000-square-foot tent erected in the parking lot of the Giants baseball stadium. At the party they handed out the first issue of the new-era Playboy that includes no explicit nudity. I believe that’s when the party immediately ended. Rolling Stone, GQ, ESPN, Maxim and Vanity Fair were among other major party hosts. The ESPN soiree was highlighted by an appearance from New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and, we imagine, a lurching, leering Chris Berman inadvertently sweating into women’s cocktails. Smirk culled through his many A-list party invites and ended up at the annual bash hosted by the recently paroled half-brother of former Monkee Peter Tork. Two NFL-related parties happen Saturday night. The fourth annual NFL Honors will include the announcement of major award winners including MVP and the naming of the newest Hall of Fame class, following voter deliberation in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room. Elsewhere will be the 25th annual Taste of the NFL, a fundraiser featuring a dish by a chef from every league city. Carolina will be represented by Springer Mountain Confit Chicken Wings Kentuckyaki, and Denver by Oak-Grilled Lamb Neck. Miami, last in a Super Bowl 31 years ago, will be represented by Rum Pork Belly with a Glaze of Dolfans’ Tears.

Goodelldabs▪ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has killed the Dab. Cam Newton made the dance move Dabbing popular. But Goodell, un-hippest man in America, was coerced to do it by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and so now the Dab is dead.

▪ Goodell announced the Raiders and Texans next season would play the first NFL regular-season game in Mexico since 2005, unless Donald Trump has sealed off the entire country with his giant wall by then.

▪ ESPN’s endless pregame show Sunday includes a segment called Riding With Vince, a Carpool Karaoke ripoff in which Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and a Vince Lombardi impersonator are lip-synching to songs. Oh how I wish I were making that up.

▪ A new University of Texas-Dallas study of NFL arrests between 2000 and 2014 found 573 players had been arrested 774 times, but only 209 of those arrests (or 27 percent) were for violent crimes. AWRIIIGHT!

▪ The NFL has issued a warning regarding counterfeit Super Bowl tickets. Folks, if you bought a Super Bowl ticket that seems exceptionally small, is stamped “Regal Cinema” and mentions the 4:40 showing of Dirty Grandpa, you might have been ripped off.

Wrongcats▪ Montreal’s Le Telejournal, a French-language news show, mistakenly used a Florida Panthers logo to preview Super Bowl 50. Wonder if they said the quarterback was Jaromir Jagr?

▪ Further indications we are out of stuff to write about and the game needs to start: ESPN reports that Robin Leach, ancient host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, picks Carolina 27-21. Also, the Amazing Kreskin offered his Super Bowl prediction on Friday, surprising analysts who thought the Amazing Kreskin had died years ago.

▪ Finally, Smirk signs off for the week after having seen way too many previews of Super Bowl commercials. Again last night I had that recurring nightmare in which Betty White is nursing the E-Trade Baby while running terrified from a herd of singing sheep.

SMIRK IV: THE 2-WEEK PREGAME SHOW, NFL'S APOLOGY TO WOMEN, NO-DRONE-ZONE, STOCK MARKET PREDICTOR: Here is the fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes
columns: We must fine-tune what we mean when we say "Super Bowl excess." It does not mean our avid interest in the game itself, or the fact some 43 million Americans will host Super Bowl parties, or the magnified attention given the halftime show or the hyped-up TV ads. No, it is Your Friend the Media that is the engine of the excess. We are to Pregameshowblame. We are the ones giving you what amounts to a nonstop two-week pregame show, like it or not, want it or not. Smirk says television is the main culprit, especially host network CBS, the ubiquitous ESPN and, of course, NFL Network. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gave voice to the ludicrousness of it on Wednesday morning as he met with hundreds of media after doing the same thing Tuesday night. "How can I reword answers to questions I’ve been asked so many times?" he said. "Nothing much has changed since I’ve seen you guys 24 hours ago [except that] I had an unbelievable sleep. I sound like a broken record.' NFL Network is airing 88 live hours of on-location coverage this week featuring 36 on-air personalities. Sunday it will air 10 hours of pre- and post-game coverage. CBS and ESPN similarly are inundating you. CBS Sports has more than 550 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, will have a four-hour pregame show and will use 70 cameras during the game. Highlight of CBS’s pregame show is expected to be a 2 p.m. interview with Barack Obama. The president is expected to say he is looking forward to a good game, after which Republicans demanding equal time are expected to argue they are not looking forward to a good game and why America should not be, either. You know why America will be so excited to see Sunday’s game kick off? It isn’t because Panthers vs. Broncos will finally be starting. It’s because the two weeks of mind-numbing buildup will finally be ending.
Bombast▪ Coldplay and Beyoncé will have a lot to live up to Sunday. Super Bowl halftime shows are even more highly anticipated than the game itself, according to the latest annual survey by the National Association of Super Bowl Halftime Producers.

▪ The NFL held its first Super Bowl Women’s Summit on Thursday. Feels to Smirk like either pandering or an apology. Cannot confirm the event was subtitled, "Just to Remind You We Don’t Condone So Many of Our Players Being Arrested for Domestic Violence."

▪ The NFL Foundation’s Super Bowl alumni bowling tournament takes place Friday. It’s the best place to watch former players hobble and grimace as they gripe loudly about lack of medical benefits.

Drones▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: “The FAA has banned drones from flying within 32 miles of the stadium Sunday.”

▪ The so-called Stock Market Predictor — Super Bowl win by NFC means market up for the year, AFC win means market down — has been accurate with 40 of the 49 SBs, including seven in a row. Throes of a dilemma: Broncos fan who invests heavily in stock market.

▪ Super Fact: The Broncos are 5-0 in games in which Sunday’s referee, Clete Blakeman, has worked. "I don’t care about that. I'm just glad to see another guy named ‘Clete’ out there," said deceased baseball player Clete Boyer.

Wherewatch▪ Finally, I saw a consumer-oriented story with the headline, "Where to watch the Super Bowl." The target demographic: Football fans who own no television, have never heard of a sports bar and have no friends.

Previously: Click on Smirk I, Smirk II and Smirk III for this week's earlier Smirks. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Poll result: Richt, Canes get strong rating for 2016 recruiting class: We asked you how you thought Miami did on National Signing Day, and it was 58.5 percent "good," 26.2% "very good," 11.4% "average" and only 3.9% "below average." That's an overall stamp of approval for new coach Mark Richt, with 84.7% saying good or better vs. 15.3% saying average or worse.

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February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more


1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk I: Rechristened Media Day, toppled statues, singing sheep and a woman in Hungary; plus it's Radio/TV Tuesday & more


1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2. Happy new month, all! 2) ICYMI, click on Super Bowl Primer for our recent column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Your Super Bowl 50 Primer, Hot Button Top 10, your best All-Star game verdict & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and seen on ESPNU and Fusion TV. 

Tedcruz"Does anybody else think Ted Cruz looks like a vampire?" --Greg Cote


SmirkTHE RETURN OF 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK'!: A RECHRISTENED MEDIA DAY, TOPPLED STATUES, SINGING SHEEP AND A WOMAN IN HUNGARY: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this year beginning today with a daily jab and needle at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald in years we remember to do it:

OpeningnightYou probably know "Media Day" is the axis of SB excess, when thousands of reporters swarm upon both teams asking the same ol’ questions eliciting the same ol’ perfunctory answers. I mean, how many times can Peyton Manning insist he hasn’t decided if Sunday will be his last game even though he probably has? Many "reporters" are clowns dressed as superheroes, turning it into an increasingly inane spectacle that probably should quietly be done away with. So what does the NFL do instead? It rechristens Media Day as "Super Bowl Opening Night" and puts it on primetime TV! It was held Monday night at SAP Center in San Jose (the arena where the Sharks play hockey), and broadcast live on NFL Network. We immediately were reminded how lackluster this matchup is relative to last year, when we had the New England Deflatriots, the polarizing Belichick and Brady, the cartoonish Gronk and the comically recalcitrant Marshawn Lynch. Some 7,000 fans paid up to $30 to sit in the stands Monday and watch the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos say as little as possible in their first interviews since arriving Sunday, reminding Smirk of that famous quote attributed to P.T. Barnum about there being 7,000 suckers born every minute.

▪ Sunday the Broncos arrived at San Jose International Airport just head of the Panthers. It is expected to be the last time all week Denver beats Carolina at anything.

▪ Wait. Denver did lead briefly in field logos. Workers at Levi’s Stadium painted the Broncos logo in both end zones before correcting their mistake.

Statues▪ The NFL erected 1,600-pound statues at 10 Bay Area landmarks, but pranksters keep knocking them over or rearranging the letters in SUPER BOWL 50 to spell things like ‘SUP BRO 50’ and ‘UP R BOWEL.’ Smirk has not yet been caught.

Sheep▪ Super Bowl TV commercials will cost a record $5 million per 30 seconds this year, and every one of them will star Alec Baldwin or a donkey in a straw hat. Actually my favorite is a Honda truck ad (see video below) in which sheep sing Queen’s Somebody To Love. Sheep: the perfect metaphor for the herd of gullible consumers swayed by cute TV commercials.

▪ The five-star Fairmont hotel in San Francisco is offering a $1 million party package that includes 22 tickets to the game and a four-night stay for six in a 6,000-square-foot penthouse. Smirk will be checking in Thursday.

▪ Pats-Seahawks last year was seen by 114.4 million viewers, the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. television. They say Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 could break that record despite the halftime performer being Coldplay.

▪ EA Sports’ Madden video game is 9-3 on predicting SB winners, including an exact score one year. Now Madden ’16 has it Panthers, 24-20. With the outcome settled, the NFL on Monday quietly canceled Sunday’s game.

▪ The 1972 Dolphins had a rough week. Predictionmachine.com ranked the Perfect Season Fins only the ninth-best Super Bowl winner; the team lost in the round of 16 in a CBS Sports/Strat-O-Matic simulation; and only one Perfecto (Jake Scott) made the all-time Super Bowl Golden Team. Don Shula’s looking for somebody to punch.

▪ NFL security is tight throughout the Bay Area all week as league officials attempt to crack down on counterfeit merchandise and screenings of Concussion.

Oldcrone▪ Sirius XM satellite radio will offer 10 broadcasts of Sunday’s game in eight languages including Hungarian. Somewhere in Budapest right now, an old crone standing before a simmering pot of goulash ponders whether the Broncos will deploy a "spy" defender to shadow Cam Newton.


Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 31, 2015

SB Smirk V: Parties, Rihanna and potato gnocchi; plus Richard Sherman's dilemma. Bowl or baby: What would you do? New poll. Vote now!

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 31. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk IV, NFL-controversies-impact poll, Seattle weed-smokers & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK V: HAND-ROLLED POTATO GNOCCHI. LET'S PARTY!: Today's fifth and final 1aa1arollingstoneSuper Bowl With a Smirk notes column leads with what this week is really all about when you get right down to it. The parties. There are 1aa1ajointsreferences to Rihanna, hand-rolled potato gnocchi and Chris Berman sweating. Pictured left is Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, who will perform at Saturday's Rolling Stone party, and who looks more and more like an unattrcative woman every time I see him. Click on 1aa1alombardiSmirk V for the full column. Also included today: Goodell, creepy coaches, ball security, Sherman's timing, 12,000 joints, "I Am Confetti," national anthem, a coin, griping golfers, rival do-gooders and Lombardi's remains. [Previously: Smirk IV, Smirk IIISmirk IISmirk I].

SMIRK V POLL: RICHARD SHERMAN'S DILEMMA: The Seahawks cornerback has a tough choice. Or maybe you think it shouldn't be tough. The Super Bowl is Sunday. His girlfriend could go into labor and deliver their first child on Sunday. He says he is debating what to do. What should he do? What would you do if you were Sherman?

Poll result: Love for NFL diminished but still strong: We asked if the various NFL controversies have made you watch or like the NFL less and it was "no" with 63.6 percent to 36.4% "yes."

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

January 30, 2015

SB Smirk IV: Katy Perry promises your face will melt at halftime; plus, POLL: Do controversies make you like NFL less? Vote now!; also Kaaya and Heisman, Seattle fans 'n weed & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 30. I'm embedded at Random Evidence Laboratories today dreaming up the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk III, Villain Bowl poll, no-drone-zone, Wade injury, UM football schedule & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Kaaya on early Heisman watch list: Canes QB Brad Kaaya has early 33-1 odds to win the next Heisman Trophy, tied for 18th best in country as per Bovada. Favorite right now at 6-1 is Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott.

1aa1apickpats 1aa1acotepixSuper Bowl pick: Patriots, 27-23: It's official. (If only that meant it's sure to be right). I discuss the evenness of this game and why it looks like two great teams portending a classic-to-be Super Bowl. Also I detail the one edge that makes New England my pick. Click on SB Gem for the full prediction capsule.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK IV: KATY PERRY PROMISES TO MELT YOUR FACE. IS THAT A GOOD THING?: Today's fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns leads with the 1aa1akatyp 1aa1alionpickSunday halftime show featuring Katy Perry, who conducted a revealing press

conference on Thursday, wearing the outfit she'll have on at halftime (pictured right). I'M JUST KIDDIN'! She'll wear clothes. Who do you think she is, Miley 1aa1aguadalupeCyrus? Katy admitted some pre-recorded music would be used and said "faces
will melt" in reaction to a surprise female guest. Melting faces. Sounds creepy. (Word has since leaked that the "surprise" guest will be Missy Elliott, a rapper who was pretty big circa 1997-2005). Click on Smirk IV for the full column.
1aa1achickensAlso included today: Marshawn Lynch speaks (sort of), unlikable head coaches, Richard Sherman's baby, drones, Vulcan the lion, nuns, counterfeit merchandise and the National Chicken Council. [Previously: Smirk III, Smirk IISmirk I].

SMIRK IV POLL: IMPACT OF NFL CONTROVERSIES: The Ray Rice video, concussions, "Deflategate" -- controversies are nothing new in the NFL, and each of them spark outrage, and yet the NFL seems as popular as ever. Time for you to weigh in if you'd like:

Poll result: Pats the bad guy in Villain Bowl: Two black-hat teams here, both disliked beyond their fandoms, so we asked which makes the better villain. You said Patriots, 71.1 percent to Seahawks' 28.9%.

SUPER BOWL = BIG BUSINESS FOR SEATTLE POT INDUSTRY: Medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Washington State, and a retailer in Seattle called Solstice is rolling 12,000 joints for Sunday in anticipation of a spike in business. Cannot confirm that Seahawks fans, when asked what they are most looking forward to in Sunday's game, answered, "the snacks." [Note: So my boss doesn't get mad, this item and the following video are NOT an endorsement of marijuana, which sources tell me is evil and perhaps also wicked]. 


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January 29, 2015

SB Smirk III: NBC's plan to kill 6 hours when you're not looking; plus Villain Bowl poll, my SB pick, no-drone-zone, Wade's injury, '15 UM football sked & more

1aa1atannehillpick1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 29. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill makes his SB prediction known Thursday at the NFL Experience in Phoenix. Ryan and I disagree. Click on SB Gem for my call. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk II, best-Super Bowl-in-Miami poll, banned-puppy video, Marlins farm rank & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Heat's Wade out indefinitely: Dwyane Wade's hamstring injury will keep him out indefinitely, he said today. Speculation is at least three weeks. Makes hanging onto a playoff spot tougher. And only aggravates Wade's rep as a high-maintenance machine prone to breakdowns. 

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK III: NBC PREGAME SHOW. BECAUSE WHAT SAYS SEAHAWKS-PATRIOTS LIKE BRIAN WILLIAMS DRIVING A RACE CAR?: Today's third of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns leads with NBC on Wednesday having a major media conference call to tout its six-hour Sunday pregame show, which includes (of course) NBC 1aa1abrianw 1aa1aecuadoranchorman Brian Williams as Mr. NASCAR on a racetrack, along with a bunch of other stuff not really related to the game such as a feature on "Super Bowl wives" and "flamboyant" ice skater Johnny Weir interviewing celebrities. (Weir is 1aa1ajohnnywpictured lower left; Williams is above left, evidently practicing). This is what happens when you try to kill six 1aa1agodaddypuppyhours. Click on Smirk III for the full column. Also included today: Tom
Brady's cold, security
measures, a pointless petition, Ecuador, Indians, Skittles, GoDaddy being mean to a puppy, a poor cow's ultimate sacrifice and more. [Previously: Smirk II, Smirk I].

SMIRK III POLL: NAME THAT VILLAIN: There is no Cinderella in this Super Bowl. There are two black hats. There is Darth Vader in a hoodie Bill Belichick and the cheating-marred Patriots on one side, and there is surly Marshawn Lynch, strutting Richard Sherman, preening Pete Carroll and the cocky Seahawks on the other. Which of the two hard-to-love teams do you find most unlikable? Which is better cast as the villain Sunday? Vote and say why.

Smirk II Poll result: Namath's guarantee, of course: We asked in the previous blogpost to name the best or most memorable of the 10 Super Bowls that have been played in Miami, and the Jets' 16-7 win over the Colts that Joe Namath guaranteed after the 1968 season won it with 40.9 percent. Also support for Steelers' 35-31 win over Dallas in 1978 (25.0%) and 49ers' 20-16 win over Cincy in 1988 (18.2%)





HURRICANES' 2015 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE: It's officially out today via the ACC and UM. Not many soft spots after the first two games Here it is, with kickoff times to be determined:

Sept. 5 BETHUNE-COOKMAN Sun Life Stadium UM leads, 2-0 
Sept. 12 at FAU Boca Raton, Fla. UM leads, 1-0 
Sept. 19 NEBRASKA Sun Life Stadium NU leads 6-5 
Sept. 26 Bye Week    
Oct. 1 at Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio UM leads, 11-1 
Oct. 10 at Florida State* Tallahassee, Fla. UM leads, 31-28 
Oct. 17 VIRGINIA TECH* Sun Life Stadium UM leads, 19-13
Oct. 24 CLEMSON* Sun Life Stadium UM leads, 6-3 
Oct. 31 at Duke* Durham, N.C. UM leads, 10-2 
Nov. 7  VIRGINIA*  Sun Life Stadium  Series tied, 6-6 
Nov. 14  at North Carolina*  Chapel Hill, N.C. UM leads, 9-8  
Nov. 21 GEORGIA TECH* Sun Life Stadium GT leads, 11-9 
Nov. 27 at Pittsburgh* Pittsburgh, Pa. UM leads, 23-10-1 

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January 28, 2015

SB Smirk II: Gronk's buttchecks, which may be an upgrade from deflated balls; plus Dan Marino, GoDaddy's Puppygate, greatest-Super Bowl-in-Miami poll, Marlins farm system & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk debut, Marshawn Lynch poll, God press-conference video & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adanmarinoSI piece on Marino: Sports Illustrated has a lengthy new piece on Dan Marino (read it here) as part of a celebration of the sports year 1985 (which began with a Dolphins Super Bowl loss to the 49ers). Marino is pictured circa that era. I'm among the folks who were interviewed and are quoted in the story, but it's worth reading, anyway.

"Calm your asses down!" --Ex-Hurricanes great Michael Irvin, to perpetually dissatisfied, griping UM football fans.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK II: GRONK'S BUTTCHEEKS, AN UPGRADE FROM DEFLATED BALLS, AT LEAST: 1aa1agronkingToday's second of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns
leads with Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski enlivening Media Day with a 1aa1afirereading from a new erotic novel about him (pictured right) called, "A Gronking to Remember" (subtitle: "It was a passion that could not be 1aa1akimkspiked"), by author Lacey Noonan. The passage Gronk read included the word "buttcheeks." (Tight end, indeed!) The X-rated "novel" is 66 pages long and, unfortunately, is the first in a planned series. Click on Smirk II for the full column. Also included: A fire alarm, a prediction, Jay Glazer, a woman in Hungary, Kim Kardashian (pictured left), Roman numerals, ticket prices and a Radio Row brawl. [Previously: Smirk I].

SMIRK II POLL: WHAT HAS BEEN BEST/MOST MEMORABLE SUPER BOWL PLAYED IN MIAMI?: We list all 10 in the poll, chronologically, with the game's MVP in parentheses to give you a one-word memory jog. You tell history which game should rank as the best or most memorable of all the SB 305s:

Smirk I Poll result: Sharp divide on Marshawn Lynch: We asked in the previous blogpost your impression of Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (the person, not the player), and it was 52.2 percent favorable, 47.8% unfavorable.

GODADDY PULLS SUPER BOWL AD AFTER OUTRAGE: GoDaddy, the website-building company pimped by Danica Patrick and no stranger to controversial ads, has pulled its planned Super Bowl commercial after an online preview sparked a backlash. The ad, entitled "Journey Home," features a lost puppy named Buddy who find his way home only to be quickly sold by his owner. Awwww. Folks, the puppy is JUST AN ACTOR! Anyway, enjoy. Or, be outraged:


RANKING MARLINS' FARM SYSTEM: ESPN's Keith Law ranks all 30 MLB farm systems and slots Miami's 24th. His description: "Their system rarely ranks high because they promote players to big league roles so quickly, but there's a solid group of very young arms in the system that will be on the list for a while, as well as a teenage position player or two with some real upside. There's very little in near-term talent here, however.". Elsewhere in NL East, Mets' farm is ranked fourth, Braves sixth, Nationals ninth and Phillies 25th.

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January 27, 2015

Super Bowl With a Smirk debut: Deflated balls, crotch grabs, killer Clydesdales, Marshawn Lynch poll, Q&A with God; plus Hassan Whiteside verdict & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

"The first person to see Miko Grimes, would you tell her to please shut up? Thank you." --Greg Cote

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 27. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hassan Whiteside poll, Giancarlo's world, how close to contending are Dolphins & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adeflated footballsSUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK I: DEFLATED BALLS, CROTCH-GRABS AND KILLER CLYDESDALES: The first of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns debuts today leading with an exclusive report detailing how the 1aa1aclydesdalePatriots may be under NFL scrutiny for apparently underinflating footballs -- which we haven't heard or read anywhere else. Pictured

right: The suspect footballs used in last week's AFC Championship Game. Also included in today's Smirk debut: God's will, Garo's rumination,
Pro Bowl, rabid Clydesdales, naughty Betty White, 1aa1agodfbsimulated arrests at NFL Experience, counterfeit tickets, F-16 fighter jets and (spoiler alert) solid information that New England will beat Seattle on Sunday, 28-24. Place bets now. Click
on Smirk I for today's complete debut column.

SMIRK POLL: LOVE/HATE ON MARSHAWN LYNCH: Seattle's running back rudely refuses to answer the simplest questions and grabs his crotch after touchdowns. Seahawks fans love him. But do most football fans? I don't mean as a player. I mean as a person. Let's find out.


Poll result: Caution, but excitement, about Hassan Whiteside: We asked how sure you are that 7-foot Heat sensation Hassan Whiteside would become an NBA all-star, and 59.6 percent were cautiously optimistic, 34.2% were very confident, and only 6.2 % were doubtful.

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February 01, 2014

Canton ballot. Here's yours. Vote who should get into Hall of Fame tonight; plus Smirk V, Pacers get Bynum, Incognito in a rout, Seinfeld & more

1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1. Happy new month, all. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Smirk IV (par-tay), Super Bowl prediction, Incognito-Martin poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

1aa1abradshawSMIRK V: AMERICA THREATENED, CHALLENGED BY FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS OF TERRY BRADSHAW: Today's last of five Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns details Fox-TV's parade of scheduled pregame 1aa1ajimmyjshow features that have zero to do with a Broncos-Seahawks game -- what happens when you have four hours to kill. Supposedly one of the features will be Jimmy Johnson deep-sea fishing in the nude. (At least that's what I read). Also included in today's new Smirk: Partying Heat, Bison & Pistachio Sausage, a coin, brawling do-gooders, griping bowlers and Betty White nursing the E-Trade Baby. Click on Smirk V for the complete latest column. (Previously: Smirk IVSmirk IIISmirk IISmirk ISB Top 10 Storylines).

Poll result: Incognito routs Martin on sympathy scale: I asked previously where your sympathy lies in the Dolphins Bullygate mess, a wound reopened this week. A plurality of 47.2 percent said "neither player" and only 2.5% said "both." But of those who sided with player, Richie Incognito swamped Jonathan Martin by 44.0% to 6.3% -- the bully more sympathetic than the victim by a 7-to-1 margin.    

WORLD'S LONGEST POLL: WHO SHOULD GET INTO CANTON TONIGHT? VOTE YOUR TOP 5: Hey can I help it there are 17 finalists on the darned ballot? I'm a selective voter. I think the only three I'd vote in this year are Marvin Harrison, Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones. Warren Sapp's anti-Michael Strahan campaign should make that vote interesting. Anyway, here's the alphabetical lst of finalists. Vote for as many as five (5)!

PACERS, NOT HEAT, LAND BYNUM: Indiana signs Andrew Bynum for rest of NBA season, a backup center the Heat considered. This gives Pacers increased depth behind Roy Hibbert, and underlines the onus on Miami's Greg Oden to continue to develop in his comeback. If I didn't know any better I'd say it appears the Pacers are serious about dethroning Miami. The inevitable Eastern finals just got a little more interesting. 

SEINFELD STILL THE KING: We saw Jerry Seinfeld last night at the Hard Rock and I think it was the best 1aa1ajerrysstandup show I'd seen in a long time. Wife rermarked afterward how much I'd laughed. I mean big, out-loud laughter. Seinfeld didn't invent observational humor but owns the genre. Always amazes me he doesn't use his iconic, eponymous former sitcom as a crutch or fallback. Doesn't need to. The only vague reference to Seinfeld was him imagining some people coming to his show and saying, "Where are the other three people!?" Seinfeld, at 59, is at the top of his game. Absolutely terrific.

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January 31, 2014

Smirk IV and SB pick. Broncos win! (Sorry, Denver); plus Martin vs. Incognito The Poll (vote now) & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 31. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today birthing the latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito please shut up, Smirk III (the dopest Super Bowl of all), SB who-you-hope-wins poll, Heat about June & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

1aa1aleatherSMIRK IV: WEEKEND MEANS SUPER BOWL PARTYING (AND A GAME, TIME PERMITTING): Today's fourth of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns delves into the major parties 1aa1abermanassociated with Super Bowl Week, including the annual ESPN party at which a lurching, leering, perspiring Chris Berman inadvertantly drips sweat into other peoples' cocktails while falling over backbackbackbackbackward. Also included in today's new Smirk: Bruno Mars, Eli the orangutan, seasick Broncos, fake stuff, Peyton's ducks, God and ancient trophy-makers. Click on Smirk IV for the complete latest column. (Previously: Smirk IIISmirk IISmirk ISB Top 10 Storylines).

OFFICIAL SUPER BOWL PICK: BRONCOS, 24-20: Well, this is it. Based on the miserable season I've had 1aa1fripixwith my NFL picks, the hope of Seahawks fans is hereby fortified as Broncos fans dash for the Pepto Bismol. (Is Pepto Bismol even still a product?) There are reasons to like the slight-underdog Seahawks. One is that in previous No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense Super Bowls, the D-teams are 4-1. Another is Peyton Manning's spotty track record in cold weather. Nevertheless sometimes you go with your gut feeling and I think this is Peyton's year. His season. His Sunday. Click on Super Bowl Gem for the full predix capsule.

Poll result: Most want Broncos to win: In the last blogpost we asked not for a prediction but who you want to win Sunday, and 66.0 percent said Denver. That's less than the 72.4% who previously predicted Denver would win.

WHERE DOES YOUR SYMPATHY GO IN THE DOLPHINS' MARTIN-INCOGNITO BULLYGATE MESS?: The 1aa1abullywhole thing reared its homely head again this week as alleged victim Jonathan Martin did a TV interview and alleged bully Richie Incognito's lawyer fired back with stuff damning to Martin. I find it funny that both men are now publicly playing the sympathy card and that neither man -- at least to me -- is sympathetic. You may feel differently. We did three different Bullygate-related polls back in the fall when it was a national story but this is the first that essentially is One vs. Other. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

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