February 04, 2019

New: Why Dolphins are poised to hit big with Flores gamble; plus Patriots win and so did I on Super Bowl Sunday; also, our SB pick, Smirk Quintet, your Canton verdict, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Happy new month, all. Do good, Feb! 2) Football is at its crescendo so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk I-II-III-IV-V, Pro Football Hall of Fame poll, Super Bowl pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW COLUMN: DOLPHINS POISED TO HIT BIG WITH FLORES HIRE:The Dolphins have made only two head-coaching since the Don Shula era that should have had fans truly excited: Jimmy Johnson in 1995, and Nick Saban in 2005. Brian Flores, in 2019, could be the third. I explain why in my new column: Visit Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble to read.

PATRIOTS WON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. SO'D DOLPHINS. AND SO DID I: Unorthodox game and odd score, 13-3, but Patriots last night won sixth championship of the Brady/Belichick era. The Dolphins won, too, because now they get Brian Flores, the New England defensive play-caller whose handprints were on Sunday's win and who now becomes the Fins next head coach. I won, too. I had the Patriots winning outright. (Check). I had the Patriots comfortably covering at minus 2 1/2 points. (Check). And I had the 'under' on what what a 56 1/2-point line on total scoring. (Check). A fitting end to our personal-record-setting season of picks!

SbliiiSUPER BOWL LIII: RAMS VS. PATRIOTS: THE PICK: Do you suffer from Super Bowl Week Syndrome? This is a medically recognized malady that causes headaches and victims’ eyes to glaze over from the the incessant parade of media hype for the big game. Do you suffer from Patriot Fatigue? Symptoms of this diagnosis — prevalent to nearly epidemic levels outside of Massachusetts — include acute irritability over the very idea of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick winning yet again. Either way, folks, for better or worse, it’ll all be over soon! Atlanta hosts the 53rd SB and Brady and Belichick haven’t actually been in all of them, it only seems that way. New England’s Double-G.O.A.T. quarterback/coach combo is merely making a ninth Super appearance together, in search of a record sixth NFL championship. These two have more rings than Saturn. But will they add one more or is the dynasty about to end as 120 Americans bear witness? An L.A. Rams team led by a 24-year QB (Jared Goff) and a 33-year-old coach (Sean McVay) is well-poised to represent “Next!” But can they? I’m doubting it. There’s a neat full-circle thing in play here, because it was the Rams (then in St. Louis) who gave Brady/Belichick its first Super Bowl win 17 years ago. Rams haven't been back to the Big Game since, ‘til now. New England was way back then a 14-point underdog; Sunday they're 2 1/2 -point favorites. Faith in the Pats is easy by now. New England is playing its best ball of the season, nobody is more clutch on this stage than Brady, and now it seems Rob Gronkowski has gotten his second wind. That’s huge, because the Rams have defended tight ends poorly all season. The Patriots’ defense also is better all-round than L.A.’s, which has given up 30-plus points seven times. Then there’s Belichick. He has a great track record vs. young QBs, of which Goff still qualifies. He also earned his Genius Card by limiting opponents’ most dangerous threat, which is why I think he’ll find a way to insulate Brady from the Rams’ up-the-gut pass rush led by Aaron Donald. I know that underdogs tend to be a smart Super Bowl play; that ‘dogs have won six of the past seven SBs outright. But that trend ends here. Yes, the Patriots have been much better at home than on the road this year. But consider this: For New England, the Super Bowl is home. (For the full preview/predix, visit Super Bowl Gem). Our pick: Patriots, 31-24.

SmirkTHE 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' QUINTET: Smirk returned with five daily notes columns poking fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game:

Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia? -- Previewing NFL Honors night hosted by Steve Harvey. Also: Lamb belly, Lil Yachty, Greg Economou. 

Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st -- Meet UM Hurricane whose historical distinction will always be his alone. Also: Merriam-Webster's SB analysis, amputation, Etrade Baby.

Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers -- Maroon 5 canceled halftime-show presser as Roger Goodell tried to explain away Saintsgate. Also: Romo's non-pick, 442 prop bets. 

Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history -- For 34th straight season Miami didn't make Super Bowl. But team's biggest fan did. Also: Clydesdale dates Betty White, Hungary, Ed Mangan. 

Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII -- Join host city Atlanta in welcoming Patriots, Rams, lawsuits, anger and a squirming NFL commissioner. Also: Dodgeball, Pizza Hut, haggis.

EdreedPOLL RESULT: REED, GONZALEZ TOP YOUR PICKS FOR CANTON: We asked, "Which of 18 finalists should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?" and gave you up to six votes. The maximum vote for any one player would be 16.7 percent if every voter used all six votes, and you'd multiply any player's total by six for an idea the percent of ballots that included that person. Got all that? Your top six: Safety Ed Reed (pictured) with 17.27%, tight end Tony Gonzalez 15.07%, cornerback Champ Bailey 11.77%, running back Edgerrin James 7.69% and tackle Tony Boselli 6.91%. (Next best were coach Don Coryell 5.34% and receiver Isaac Bruce 5.18%). Applying the 80 percent requirement used in actual Hall of Fame voting, only Reed and Gonzalez were voted into Canton by you all, although Bailey came close.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:x

Hotbutton1. NFL: Patriots beat Rams in weird Super Bowl: The Patriots were 2 1/2-point favorites over the Rams as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady attempt to win (what seems like) their 943rd Super Bowl together. It was actually their sixth, 13-3, in an oddly low-scoring, somewhat boring letdown of a game. New England is the team we love to hate. Los Angeles shouldn't even have been there except the officials screwed the Saints. Um, was anybody else rooting for both teams to lose?

2. HEAT: Wade's 'Last Dance' includes All-Star nod: His team is the epitome of mediocrity at 24-27 after three straight losses and eighth in the East entering a six-game road trip starting Tuesday. The good news? Dwyane Wade's farewell season will see him  in the Feb. 17 All-Star Game after Wade and Dirk Nowitzki made as it "special additions" of commissioner Adam Silver. Hi-yo, Silver!

3. HURRICANES: Transfer Portal kings await national signing day: After a bad end to the season, an unexpected coaching change and a lousy early recruiting period, UM football has roared back as this Wednesday's National Signing Day looms. Miami nabbed four of 247sports' top 17 available transfer including Ohio State QB Tate Martell to make what happens Wednesday less urgent than it might have been.

4. NFL HONORS: Ex-Cane Reed makes Canton, Mahomes is MVP: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes won league MVP in a runaway and ex-Hurricane Ed Reed led the new Hall of Fame class at the NFL Honors awards show on Super Bowl eve in Atlanta Saturday night. Joining Reed in Canton: Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Johnny Robinson, Kevin Mawae, Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt. Shoulda been picked but denied: Isaac Bruce.

5. PANTHERS: Cats trade Bujgstad, McCann: Florida (21-29 and nine points off playoff pace even with Saturday's win over Vegas) traded forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three 2019 draft picks. That's either a white towel waving on this season or a last shot at jolting it to life. We'll see.

6. NBA: Unibrow fined for trade talk as deadline nears: Player movement a hot topic approaching Thursday's NBA trade deadline. Anthony Davis was fined 50K for publicly saying he wanted out of New Orleans. The Knicks dealt Kristaps Porzingis. Kyrie Irving may be moving. And who will LeBron lure to L.A?

7. DOLPHINS: As Flores arrives, Tannehill on way out: Pats assistant Brian Flores will soon be introduced as Miami's next head coach now that his team's season is (finally) ending. Meantime, it was reported the Fins will parts ways with QB Ryan Tannehill. Wait. Is that news? Hearing Miami will part with Tannehill is like hearing your 104-year-old grandpa died. It wasn't if, just when.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men continue freefall: Jim Larranaga's guys, once 5-0, fell to 9-12 overall and 1-8 (ugh) in ACC play with Saturday's 56-46 loss at No. 3 Virginia. At least the No. 23 Canes women are 19-5 after a Sunday home win over Virginia.

9. MARLINS: FanFest ushers in spring in five days: FanFest is this coming Saturday and the start of spring training will soon follow as the Marlins gear for Year 2 of the Derek Jeter era. Meanwhile trading away catcher J.T. Realmuto for prospects (to the Braves, perhaps?) continues to percolate on the hot stove.

10. SKIING: Vonn announces she's retiring: American Lindsay Vonn, 34, said she'll retire after the World Championships in Sweden later this month. She has won 82 World Cup races, second all-time. Also could describe Tiger Woods naked, if she wanted to.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): "Golfer Sergio Garcia was disqualified from an event in Saudi Arabia for intentionally destroying greens ..... Update: Countdown now 2,695 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Most recent non-Smirk columns: Le'Veon wants Dolphins, And Interest Should Be Mutual / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints. Also: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2019

Canton calling! Poll: 18 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists, you pick top 6. Last day to vote. Go!; plus our Super Bowl pick; also, Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed and Miss Universe & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2. Happy new month, all. Do good, Feb! 2) Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for best-of podcast from this week's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. The new Back In My Day chugs in around the 17-minute mark. 3) Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod/Rose & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

FbhallWHO SHOULD BE VOTED INTO CANTON? YOU DECIDE, RIGHT NOW!: By the numbers, there are 18 finalists for 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. There are 48 voters who will decide on Saturday, with winners revealed that night. Between four and eight men will be anointed. In this poll I list all 18 finalists alphabetically and invite you to VOTE FOR AS MANY AS SIX (6), or as many as you feel are Hall-worthy up to six. From a consensus of your votes we'll separate wheat from chaff. Based on most estimations including my own only two men -- former Miami Hurricanes safety Ed Reed and tight end Tony Gonzalez -- are considered no-doubt locks for induction. Others with a good chance include Champ Bailey, Fort Lauderdale-born Isaac Bruce, Alan Faneca and Kevin Mawae. Another ex-Cane, Edgerrin James, is a close call; his induction would not surprise, but neither would his being denied. I would invite even Hurricanes fans to vote as dispassionately and honestly as possibly. But enough from me. It's your ballot and your vote. Note, in a six-vote ballot, the highest vote total possible for any one person would be 16.7 percent IF every voter cast all six votes. Any totals above that means some voters voted only for those people. Multiple a person's vote total times six for a rough idea the overall percentage of ballots that included that player. Ready? Go!

VOTE FOR AS MANY AS SIX (6)

Picks Sb53NFL PLAYOFF PICK / SUPER BOWL: AND THE WINNER IS...: It's Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots on Sunday in Atlanta in the 53rd Super Bowl, and a  million Saints fans saying they'll boycott watching the game (but we all know they won't). Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are 2 1/2-point favorites to win their sixth SB crown together. But will young Rams Sean McVay and Jared Goff represent an NFL changing of the guard and the end of the New England dynasty? This is not a rhetorical question, folks. I have the answer! For our Super Bowl LIII preview/analysis and prediction, visit Super Bowl Gem.

SmirkCELEBRATE 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' WEEK IN MIAMI!: It's Super Bowl Week and that means 'Super Bowl With A Smirk' returns in the Miami Herald for five daily notes columns. Join us as we merrily poke fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Our Smirk Quintet:

Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia?: Previewing NFL Honors night, hosted by Steve Harvey. Also included: Lamb belly, Lil Yachty and Greg Economou. 

Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st: Meet the Miami Hurricane whose historical distinction will always be his alone. Also included: Merriam-Webster's SB analysis, amputation and the Etrade Baby.

Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers -- Maroon 5 canceled its halftime-show press conference and Roger Goodell tried to explain away Saintsgate. Also included: Romo's non-pick, 442 prop bets. 

Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history -- For the 34th straight season Miami didn't make the Super Bowl. But the team's biggest fan did. Also included: Clydesdale dates Betty White, Hungary, Ed Mangan. 

Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII -- Please join host city Atlanta in welcoming the Patriots, Rams, lawsuits, anger and a sweating, squirming NFL commissioner. Also included: Dodgeball, Pizza Hut Hut Hut, football-shaped haggis.

Most recent non-Smirk columns: Le'Veon wants Dolphins, And Interest Should Be Mutual / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints. Also: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 03, 2018

The pick has landed! Our Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl forecast and preview column; plus Dolphins QB Quandary: Tannehill vs. Cousins vs. Mayfield. Your final verdict; also, Super Bowl With a Smirk V, your choice on MLS Miami & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3. Happy new month, all! 2) R.I.P., Rasual Butler, the former Heat player (2002-05) who died Wednesday at 38 along with his wife in an auto accident in California. 3) The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our book. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking MLS Miami among our Big 5 pro teams with poll, R.I.P. Bob Rubin, Made In Miami LeBapalooza, Super Bowl With A Smirk I and II, U2 video & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sb52OUR SUPER BOWL PREVIEW: NFL WINS EITHER WAY WITH THIS MATCHUP, BUT AMERICA WANTS ONLY ONE TEAM: History is in the offing. The Patriots will win a record-tying sixth Super Bowl on Sunday, or the Eagles will win their first championship since 1960 and end the third-longest drought of any fan base in the U.S. Either result would suit the NFL, which needs the big finish after a beleaguered season, but only one result will make America smile. Click on The Historic Super Bowl the NFL Needs for my preview column. 

OUR PATRIOTS-EAGLES PREDICTION: THE LIMB WE'RE OUT ON IS CREAKING, BUT WE CAN EXPLAIN: New England is favored over Philadelphia by 4 1/2 points in Sunday's Super Bowl, but I see it going differently. I see an upset and the Eagles' first NFL championship trophy since 1960. Click on Super Bowl Gem for my official SB 52 predix capsule and I'll tell you why it'll happen.

DolphinsQUARTERBACK QUANDARY: DOLPHINS HAVE 3 DIVERSE OPTIONS, MUST CHOOSE ONE: In my latest column -- click Exploring Dolphins' QB Quandary to read in full -- I examine the Dolphins' quarterback situation in the wake of the huge NFL trade this week in which Kansas City dealt Alex Smith to Washington, meaning Kirk Cousins will become a free agent. As I see it Miami must do one of three things: Go all-in with Ryan Tannehill and stick with their incumbent. Or pursue Cousins in free agency. Or draft a likely available Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma 11th overall this April. Can't choose more than one, but must choose one. Sticking with Tannehill is the strong likelihood, but my column explores why Cousins and Mayfield are extremely viable options, meaning the timing would be right to move past Tannehill. I put the three options to a vote on my Twitter site and here are your final results:

Mayfield49%: Draft Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield

 


Tannehill29%: Stick with Ryan Tannehill

 

 

Cousins22%: Go after Kirk Cousins

 

 

Mlsmiami RubinThis week's other columns: Bob Rubin, MLS Miami: Our friend, mentor and longtime former Miami Herald colleague, Bob Rubin, passed away peacefully this week at age 76. Click on Farewell, Rubin to read the obituary. Earlier in the week we wrote from the official announcement that an as-yet-unnamed Miami team fronted by David Beckham would join Major League Soccer as an expansion team for the 2020 season. Click on Beckham's Dream Becomes A Team for that column.

Smirk

CELEBRATE SUPER BOWL WITH SMIRK WEEK IN MIAMI!: It's Super Bowl Week and that means Super Bowl With A Smirk was back in the Miami Herald for five daily notes columns that merrily poked fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. In case you missed it or for your repeat pleasure, our parade of Smirks:

Smirk V: Taste of the NFL Leads Party Parade -- Eagles' brisket beats Pats' gnocchi despite shocking lack of Cheez Whiz.

Smirk IV: Welcome Back, Mr. Wardrobe Malfunction! -- Justin Timberlake halftime show recalls an indelible SB moment.

Smirk III: Goodell's "All Is Well!" Address -- Commissioner hopelessly accentuates the positive as flames engulf his league.

Smirk II: TV Ads -- Angry Clydesdale Chases Screaming Betty White. The time it took to read the previous sentence cost $588,000.

Smirk I: Unlike-A-Bowl -- Starring two teams you'd rather see both lose, played in a city you'd only visit in winter if you lost a bet.

POLL RESULT: MORE THAN HALF SAY MLS MIAMI WILL ARRIVE TOP-3 AMONG OUR BIG 5 PRO TEAMS: We asked, "Where will Miami's new Major League Soccer team rank in terms of your interest level and fandom relative to our other four pro teams?" Results were all over the map. Your verdict: 1st--15.60 percent; 2nd--12.84%; 3rd--26.61%; 4th--17.43%; 5th--27.52%. That's a near-plurality who think soccer will check in third (presumably after the Dolphins and Heat), and around 55% overall who see MLS as top-three (presumably ahead of the Marlins and Panthers).

Select other columns: A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus (Gulfstream's world's richest horse race). The Upside Of a Fire Sale (Lewis Brinson becoming face of Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial). Also: And Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 31, 2018

R.I.P., Bob Rubin, 1941-2018; plus Beckham/MLS Miami soccer poll. Vote now!; also, Super Bowl With A Smirk II, LeBa-palooza, "Get Out Of Your Own Way" (U2) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the podcast from yesterday's LeBatardShow. 2) The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our franchise history book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Pegasus World Cup, our Wondrous Weekend & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

RubinR.I.P., BOB RUBIN, 1942-2018: Our friend, mentor and longtime former colleague, Bob Rubin, passed away peacefully Tuesday at age 76 following complications from a stroke he'd suffered on Jan. 2. Bob was a Miami herald fixture from 1976 to 2002, mostly as a columnist in tandem with Edwin Pope (who died last January at 88). Rubin is survived by his wife Lena, three grown daughters and four grandsons. I spoke to Bob for the last time one week before he died, and was honored the Herald asked me to write his obituary. Here it is.

MlsmiamiWHERE WILL MLS MIAMI SOCCER RANK AMONG OUR BIG 5 PRO TEAMS IN YOUR INTEREST LEVEL?: We got the Miami Dolphins first (1966), the Miami Heat next (1988), then the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers together (1993). For a quarter century it's been our Big Four professional team sports in South Florida. Now, make room for one more. It was confirmed Monday that as-yet-unnamed team fronted by David Beckham will join Major League Soccer for the 2020 season. Click on Beckham's Dream Becomes A Team for my column. This will make ours one of only 10 U.S. cities or metropolitan regions with all of the Big Five teams -- football, baseball, basketball hockey and soccer. And there is no doubt that booming MLS qualifies as the fifth league in stature. My question: Where will MLS soccer arrive on our interest scale? Top? Middle? Bottom? Imagine it is two years from now, and Beckham's team is readying for its inaugural season. One through five relative to the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers, where will your interest in Miami MLS soccer land? Vote now!

LebatardIT'S LEBAPALOOZA! LEBA-FEST?: This is exciting. I mean it. This sounds like a great Miami event, combining Dan Le Batard's imprint on Miami and national sports and the mark of his brother Dave (a.k.a Lebo) in local-and-beyond art circles. Throw in music and it's a can't-miss. And since the whole thing is driven by the popularity of Dan's national ESPN Radio show (which I co-host every Tuesday), I'm honored to be a very small part of this extravaganza. (Picture booth? With me?) It is called "Made In Miami: A Celebration Of Music, Art And Sports in Miami," and it is March 10 from 6 p.m. 'til midnight at Blackbird Ordinary. Get many more details by visiting LeBatardBrothers.com. (Click on image at right to see much larger version).

Smirk

 

 

CELEBRATE SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK WEEK IN MIAMI!: It's Super Bowl Week and that means Super Bowl With A Smirk is back in the Miami Herald for five daily notes columns. Join us as we merrily poke fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Smirk III lands later today. So far:

Smirk I: Unlike-A-Bowl -- Starring two teams you'd rather see both lose, played in a city you'd only visit in winter if you lost a bet.

Smirk II: TV Ads -- Angry Clydesdale Chases Screaming Betty White. The time it took to read that previous sentence cost $588,000.

Latest other columns: Beckham realizes MLS Miami dream: Click Beckham's Dream Becomes A Team for column from Monday's news that Miami will join Major League Soccer in 2020. Other most recent columns: A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus (Gulfstream's world's richest horse race). The Upside Of a Fire Sale (Lewis Brinson becoming face of Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial).

BECAUSE IT'S A GREAT SONG, AND IT SAYS SOMETHING: Without getting too political here, I thought U2's Grammy performance the other night of their song, "Get Out Of Your Own Way" was triumphant. The backdrop of the Statue of Liberty was perfectly suited to  the lyrics, and the chorus won't leave my head. A great song that says something. See if you agree.

Select other columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2017

Dolphins' Taylor elected to Hall of Fame! How I did on my Canton predictions; plus latest and Super Bowl With a Smirk, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, February 4. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Me and Dwyane Wade and Twitter and wine, the fourth Super Bowl With a Smirk, our Falcons-Patriots SB prediction & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

BREAKING: Jason Taylor voted into Canton: Ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Also elected" LaDanian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Morten Andersen, Jerry Jones and Kenny Easley. That's seven in all. How's I do on my predictions? (See below). Six of the guys I had with a 50 percent chance or better got in. I thought John Lynch and Terrell Owens would, but they didn't. I thought Andersen wouldn't make it, but he did. Overall, not too bad on my guesswork. My original post is below:

CantonCANTON CALLING: HANDICAPPING HALL OF FAME LIKELIHOOD FOR JASON TAYLOR, OTHER 17 FINALISTS: Pro Football Hall Fame does the Big Reveal tonight at 8 on Fox, and what's intriguing is that only RB LaDainian Tomlinson is an absolute, you'd-bet-your-life lock to get in. There is big, wide debate on whether the Dolphins' contender, DE Jason Taylor, is likely to make it or has no real shot. I rank the 15 finalists and three senior/contributor nominees by likelihood of induction, with my betting odds on each:

DEAD-CERTAIN LOCK:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (99% percent likely / 1-100 odds): Bet the house, the car and your entire family.

LIKELY:

QB Kurt Warner (75% / 1-2): God's will?

S Kenny Easley (70% / 1-2): Just watch. At least one Senior nominee has gotten in every year since 1997.

MAYBE:

S John Lynch (65% / 2-3): State of the art

Owner Jerry Jones (60% / 1-1): And Jimmy Johnson didn't make it to finalist round. Ouch. 

RB Terrell Davis (60% / 1-1): Fairly short career could hurt.

OT Joe Jacoby (60% / 1-1): Boss Hog.

WR Terrell Owens (60% / 1-1): Controversial. Media didn't like him. So what!

JtDE Jason Taylor (50% / 5-4): Most experts call him a longshot in first year of eligibility, but he's sixth all-time in sacks, returned more fumbles for TDs than anybody, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and is only pass rusher on the ballot, which helps. Don't be surprised if he gets in this time, or if he doesn't, but I absolutely think Taylor is a certain future Hall of Famer (eventually) and has a big chance right now time.

SLIM SHOT:

PK Morten Andersen (35% / 8-1): Punter Ray Guy remains only specialist/foot-man in Hall.

G Alan Faneca (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday.

OT Tony Boselli (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday II.

Coach Don Coryell (25% / 15-1): No Super Bowls, .572 win percentage. Meh.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (25% / 15-1): If he didn't get in immediately, probably never happen.

NEGLIGIBLE CHANCE:

WR Isaac Bruce (20% / 20-1): Big numbers, but Fort Lauderdale native and Dillard High alum spent much of pro career overshadowed on own team by Torry Holt.

C Kevin Mawae (15% / 25-1): Hall of Very Good. 

S Brian Dawkins (15% / 25-1): Hurts him that Lynch and Easley are both on ballot.

CB Ty Law (10% / 30-1): No ugly mustard-yellow jacket for you!

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: BIDDING ADIEU FOR WEEK WITH AGRODOLCE, TAYLOR SWIFT, 22 COWS, 1.7 MILLION POUNDS OF CHICKEN WINGS AND ONE ORANGUTAN: Super Bowl With a Smirk bids farewell with our last of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

SmirkYou know Super Bowl Week is winding down and the game is finally near when the official parties kick in.

The 26th annual Taste of the NFL, a "Party With a Purpose" fundraiser, happens Saturday night at the University of Houston with dishes by chefs representing every league city.

Featured on the tony menu this year: Atlanta’s Roasted Quail, Parsnips, Onion Soubise and Cranberry Agrodolce vs. New England’s Cavatelli, Housemade Sausage, Butternut Squash and Shaved Truffle Butter.

AgrodolceObvious edge there to Atlanta. I mean, who doesn’t love soubise and agrodolce!?

In case you wondered, Miami, last in a Super Bowl 32 years ago, will be represented on the menu by Stone Crab Bisque and Rum-Glazed Bacon with a Glaze of Dolfan Tears.

Let’s hope there is no controversy at Saturday’s Taste of the NFL like there was last year, when the chef representing the Patriots was kicked out for intentionally deflating other chefs’ souffles.

(*) Maxim, Rolling Stone and Playboy will be among other major party hosts as a bevy of rented women and once-famous hip-hop stars make the rounds. Taylor Swift is hosting a "Super Saturday Night" party and can be expected to act all surprised to be there.

(*) Smirk culled through a stack of his exclusive A-list invites to celebrity soirees and chose to attend a Super Bowl party being hosted by the estranged second cousin of Gloria Estefan’s former gardener.

(*) Hall of Fame voters met Friday in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room to decide which new inductees will be announced Saturday. LaDainian Tomlinson is the only absolute for Canton, but ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor has a good shot. Should we expect a Tweet from President Trump that the election was rigged?

Kmkey(*) Keegan-Michael Key (of Comedy Central’s "Key & Peele") hosts the NFL Honors awards show Saturday, with winners announced in 16 categories including league MVP — likely Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Could be a shutout for Dolphins, although Cam Wake has a shot at Comeback Player of the Year. Miami also is a finalist for the Kaepernick Cup for anthem kneeling.

(*) Fox, ESPN and NFL Network are girding for pregame shows that will last longer than the game itself. ESPN’s pregame will include a 13-minute segment on how Wilson footballs are made. No, seriously. What they might not tell you: all of the footballs to be used on Sunday required the hides of 22 cows, one of them a cherished doe-eyed Guernsey named Lulu.

(*) ESPN’s pregame also will feature a tribute to Chris Berman on his final major workday before the network shoves him unceremoniously into awkward semi-retirement.

Chicken(*) The National Chicken Council says the estimated 1.3 billion chicken wings eaten on Sunday will weigh 1.7 million pounds or 300 times the combined weight of the 32 NFL teams, surprising analysts who were unaware there was a National Chicken Council.

(*) The annual NFL Foundation Super Bowl golf tournament was held Friday as dozens of former players drove the course loudly griping about their various ailments and lack of benefits.

(*) Acara, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, has predicted a Falcons victory.

(*) There was a brawl on Sad, Sad Radio Row at the SB Media Center on Friday when producers for rival Bangor, Maine, radio stations got into a kickfight over first dibs on Patriots backup long-snapper Tug McGillicutty.

Madea(*) Finally, our parting Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Why do what every other party in America is doing? As the Falcons and Patriots are lining up for the opening kickoff and the din of your guests reaches an excited pitch, abruptly switch the channel from the game to "A Madea Christmas" airing on BET.

Click Smirk I, Smirk II, Smirk III and Smirk IV for this week's previous Smirks.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-4-17: What events on the Saturday, Feb. 4 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami favored to bag its 10th straight win.

2. Hall of Fame announcement, 8 p.m.: Canton's big reveal could include Jason Taylor.

3. Hurricanes at North Carolina State, 3 p.m.: UM men, 3-5 since start of year, seek spark.

4. Kentucky at Florida, 8:15 p.m.: No. 8 Wildcat men a big test for No. 24 Gators.

5. Cleveland at New York, 8:30: Because LeBron James at Carmelo Anthony is still a show.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 03, 2017

Me and Dwyane Wade, Twitter and wine; plus our Falcons-Patriots prediction, the new Super Bowl With a Smirk & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, February 3. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes' recruiting bounty, latest Super Bowl With a Smirk, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (50 games), your Barkley-LeBron beef verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ME AND DWYANE WADE, TWITTER AND WINE: I love Twitter. I do. One of the reasons why metastasized yesterday with my Tweet shown below and Dwyane Wade's response right below it. What I Tweeted was admittedly snarky. Dwyane didn't like it. His NBA prime was defined by greatness. He still is very good, but very good isn't great. From a basketball standpoint, I'll defend that Tweet all day. But from a personal standpoint? The Tweet was a bit mean-spirited, which I don't like to be. I felt bad I may have hurt Wade's feelings, so after his Tweet I Tweeted: "Love @DwyaneWade & always been big supporter as he knows. Just havin' a lil' fun. Very nice wine btw. Blend, but w/ mouthfeel of smooth cab." And of course I got beat up for that because it was seen as a retreat from my initial Tweet. Bottom line? I do not regret the initial Tweet but I do regret that Wade -- whom I like and respect very much -- took it as a cheap shot at sort of a fragile point in his career. Postscript: The wine really was pretty good. God bless Twitter.     

OUR OFFICIAL SUPER BOWL PREDICTION (SORRY, ROGER GOODELL): Sunday’s game in Houston marks only the sixth time in 51 Super Bowls that the matchup has been the team that led the NFL in scoring (Falcons) vs. the team that allowed the fewest points (Patriots). A key difference is, New England is as mighty on offense as it is stingy on D, while Atlanta’s defense, though Sbnebetter than it was, cannot claim to be the equal of what Matt Ryan gets done. As a writer, I think I subconsciously root not for a particular team but for the best story to tell. Here, Super Bowl LI wins no matter the result. Either Atlanta reigns as champion for the first time in its 51-year history. Or we get a trophy presentation that might be even more riveting than the game if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is handing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to a New England franchise he socked so hard over Deflategate — a franchise feeling it was wronged. So "best story" is a tie here. But "best team" is not. As mentioned, Bill Belichick has a complete team that can beat you with or without the ball, while the big-scoring but more lopsided Falcons have a young, somewhat unreliable defense that savvy old Tom Brady will find a way to pick apart. Intangibles also tend to come into play on this biggest stage, and the contrast there greatly favors New England as well. The been-there/won-that Patriots have built a modern dynasty on this stage, while Atlanta — its only other Super Bowl appearance in 1998 and last in the playoffs in 2012 — cannot know they’ll be ready for this. The game might swing importantly very early. Atlanta has scored a touchdown on its first possession in eight games in a row. Keeping that streak alive will give the Birds instant confidence, but if it ends there could be a fast feeling of "uh oh." Ryan is used to leading. He isn’t used to trailing. And certainly not against Belichick and Brady. In a Super Bowl. I think he’ll have that feeling on Sunday. And I think I’m looking forward to the awkward drama of the postgame trophy presentation a lot more than Roger Goodell is. My pick: New England 31, Atlanta 23. Click on Super Bowl Gem for the full predictions capsule.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: PATRIOTS TRADEMARK FRAUDULENCE, GAGA'S SHOE, MORTARS, FAKE MERCHANDISE: Super Bowl With a Smirk is back with our fourth of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game.

Smirk Sb51OK, this is war! The New England Patriots, who have never had a perfect season, have somehow won a trademark on the phrase "Perfect Season."

It's an outrage -- the most egregious "alternative fact" yet. It would be like Greg Cote trademarking the phrase "Pulitzer Winner."

Smirk today is calling upon Don Shula and the 1972 Miami Dolphins -- the only team that did have a perfect season -- to foment into an angry if aging mob and picket outside Sunday's Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl in Houston.

The Patriots were undefeated and untied before losing the Super Bowl nine years ago. They deserve a trademark on "Almost Perfect Season." Or perhaps on "Almost Perfect Cheaters."

Instead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December granted the Patriots-owning Kraft Group legal rights to the phrases "Perfect Season" and "19-0," ESPN's Darren Rovell reports.

XaverianIt took eight years for the Kraft Group's petition to finally be approved. The loophole the Pats used to justify deserving Perfect Season was to license the phrase to a Massachusetts high-school football association to commemorate Xaverian High's 24 straight wins.

The Dolphins once filed to trademark "17-0" and "Perfectville" but eventually gave up the fight.

Now New England legally owns what Miami earned on the field, but, galling and absurd as that is, we all know better, and about this I'm not Smirking:

Perfect Season belongs to only one team in NFL history, and it sure ain't the Patriots.

(*) Lady Gaga met the media Thursday in Houston, and declined to pick a winning team, saying, "I'm going to write it down and put it in my shoe." Gaga is headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show Sponsored by Smirk's Second-Favorite Cola.

(*) National-anthem singer Luke Bryan also met the media. The Falcons fan from Leesburg, Ga., blatantly did the limbo to compliment the Patriots so as not to hurt his sales in the Northeast.

Madden17(*) Spoiler alert! The Patriots will beat the Falcons 27-24 on Sunday. Book it. Bank it. Because EA Sports' Madden 17 video game played it and says it. The Madden game is 9-4 on previous SB picks, which strikes Smirk as decent, not great.

(*) The group MVPindex took umbrage at Smirk's Wednesday suggestion they might have been drunk when ranking Julian Edelman's social media impact greater than Tom Brady's. Based on criteria including how many times followers engage with a post, "Edelman does it better," said spokesperson Amber Moore. "So we aren't drunk."

(*) Stadium security precautions will be tight Sunday. Prohibited items that fans may not carry in include umbrellas, lasers, signs and 60-millimeter hand-held mortars.

(*) Two notable Houstonians, former president George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara, ages 92 and 91, will conduct the pregame coin toss. There's a joke there somewhere, but some things are out of bounds even for Smirk.

(*) Counterfeit merchandise update: If that pricey Super Bowl jacket you bought has no logos whatsoever and looks eerily like a 1980s Members Only jacket, it might not be official Super Bowl apparel.

Odouls(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Make your Super Bowl party alcohol-free this year. It'll save you the bother of having to host a Super Bowl party next year.

Click Smirk I, Smirk II and Smirk III for this week's previous Smirks.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-3-17: What events on the Friday, Feb. 3 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Anaheim at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats chasing eighth seed and playoffs.

2. U.S. soccer vs. Jamaica, 7 p.m.: Last friendly before men's World Cup qualifying.

3. Might be time to retire this short-lived new blog feature after a second straight slowwwww day in sports.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2017

Canes, Richt score big with recruits. The names that jump out; plus The Luddite's MVP Standings for red-hot Heat through 50 games, latest Super Bowl With a Smirk (Goodell sacked), Hot Button Daily, your Barkley-LeBron beef verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, February 2. I'm back at Friday Page World Headquarters for the last time this season working up my Super Bowl pick. Anybody got a coin? 2) A new Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Barkley-LeBron beef poll, Super Bowl With a Smirk second edition, updated betting odds, new Back In My Day video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

RICHT SCORES BIG WITH CANES RECRUITING, AND ONE NAME JUMPS OUT: Miami scored the nation's 12th-ranked recruiting class (according to ESPN) this week in the first full shot for Mark JeffthomasRicht after last year's late arrival and scramble, and he wasn't lying yesterday in saying, "We nailed it." UM's 24 recruits  (11 are from South Florida) include 13 four-star rated guys, and 10 from the ESPN 300. The name that jumps out, for me, is fleet receiver Jeff Thomas (pictured), who had not been committed to UM and was a huge late get, favoring the Canes over A-list suitors including Alabama. Thomas will pair with Ahmmon Richards to form a dynamic wideout set for whomever emerges this spring as Brad Kaaya's replacement at quarterback. And that should be a great competition with four legit contenders. I also like that The U really beefed up its offensive line, including behemoth 6-6, 375-pound Navaughn Donaldson from Miami Central. He is bigger than my refrigerator. UM's defensive line looks to be pretty great with the notable addition of pass rusher D.J. Johnson. UM still seems a bit thin to me at running back, but in the overall I really like this incoming class and the job Richt and company did. With 14 of 22 starters returning and a near-Top 10 class arriving for a team that finished 9-4 with an impressive bowl win, this is a program on the upswing. Florida State and Clemson remain gigantic hurdles for UM in the ACC; still, Miami should be an improved team with a steady polls presence in 2017.

LATEST 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK': GOODELL SACKED, SMOKING WITH DITKA, RYAN LEAF, UNCLE MORT: Smirk returns with our third of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

Smirk Sb51NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual pre-Super Bowl "state of the league" news conference in Houston on Wednesday, and, really, it seemed to go fabulously well for him.

There was not a single uncomfortable question put to him, with the exception of the Chargers bolting San Diego, the Raiders trying to move to Vegas, lower TV ratings, the refugee travel ban, concussions and brain injuries, the broad perception of diminished quality of play — oh, almost forgot! — and the likelihood that Sunday night he’ll be forced to hand the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady after dodging the Patriots for two years over Deflategate.

Quarterbacks under constant sack siege face less pressure. By the end of the 75-minute grilling Goodell’s wingtips were covered by a rising puddle of his own sweat.

At one point, as yet another Deflategate-related question whizzed at him like shrapnel, Goodell said he has "no doubt" that if he were to attend a Patriots game in Foxborough he would be "welcomed."

Whatever he said next could not be detected above the massive roar of braying laughter that could be heard 1,600 miles away in New England.

(*) In college football, Wednesday was National Signing Day, when teams collect their latest bounty. In the NFL it was National Sighing Day, the dead middle of Super Bowl Week, when fans already are tired of the buildup but resigned to more of it.

Stubhub(*) You could spend up to $112,000 on a single Super Bowl ticket on StubHub on Wednesday. If Smirk is spending that much for one seat, there had better been an envelope stuffed with about $111,500 waiting on that seat.

(*) The NFL announced Wednesday that the Patriots and Raiders would play a regular-season game in Mexico next season if they can manage to scale Trump’s wall.

Ditkacigar(*) Celebrity parties are as big a part of Super Bowl Week as the game itself, according to party planners, and Mike Ditka and Ron Jaworski co-host one Thursday: "Cigars With the Stars." Sounds like fun, other than the choking cigar smoke and the dreadful possibility of inadvertently having to converse with either Ditka or Jaworski.

(*) NFL security officials are warning about counterfeit tickets. If, for example, the ticket you bought seems extraordinarily small and reads, "AMC Theaters/La La Land/Admit One," it might not be a bonafide Super Bowl ticket.

(*) A group called MVPIndex ranks most valuable NFL players on social media and says Julian Edelman, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski rank 10th, 14th and 20th overall, while the top Falcon, Julio Jones, is 47th. Hmm. Edelman ahead of Brady? Are you drunk, MVPIndex?

(*) Friday is the 26th annual NFL Foundation/NFL Legends Super Bowl Golf Tournament. One of the team captain "legends" is Ryan Leaf. Oh, how I wish I were making that up.

(*) In an NFL initiative, Houston Habitat For Humanity rebuilt a home Wednesday despite derisive heckling from members of bitter rival group Rebuilding Together. OK, I made up that second part.

Gaga(*) Super Bowl halftime performer Lady Gaga said in a revealing interview that she would not reveal much about her planned show. People are betting on which song she’ll sing first. Smirk could not care less but is hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.

(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Have those plastic zip ties and duct tape ready again just in case Uncle Mort gets belligerently sloppy-drunk before kickoff like last year.

Click Smirk I and Smirk II for this week's previous Smirks.

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (50 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 20-30 on nine straight wins after last night's over Atlanta, here's The Luddite's 10th installment, with 45-game rank in parentheses. Dragic, by the way, has narrowed his deficit to Whiteside from 216 points to 129 in past five games. 

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (50 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,402

2. Goran Dragic (2)            1,273

3. Tyler Johnson (3)             893

4. James Johnson (4)           891

5. Dion Waiters (5)              691

6. Rodney McGruder (7)     493

7. Josh Richardson (6)         483

8. Willie Reed (8)               444

9. Wayne Ellington (10)     439

10. Justise Winslow (9)       355

Others: Luke Babbitt 295, Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 231, Udonis Haslem 64, Okaro White 53.

Poll result: LeBron most to blame in Barkley beef: We asked who's most wrong and it was 65.4 percent for LeBron James' personal-attack response and 13.2% for Charles Barkley calling LeBron whiny. Another 14.3% said neither because both had a point, and 7.1% said both are equally to blame.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-2-17: What events on the Thursday, Feb. 2 sports calendar (a very light day) interest South Florida fans most:

1. Golden State at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.: Warriors pounded Clips by 46 last week.

2. Missouri at Florida, 7 p.m.: Gators men's team is ranked No. 24.

3. Hurricanes at Wake Forest, 7 p.m.: UM women take their No. 16 ranking on road.

4. Phoenix Open, all day: First round of PGA Tour event.

5. "This Was the XFL", 9 p.m.: ESPN's debuts latest 30 For 30 doc.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

 

February 01, 2017

If LeBron were any more thin-skinned we'd see his internal organs. New Barkley vs. James beef poll. Vote now!; plus latest Super Bowl With a Smirk, National Signing Day, blog debut of Hot Button Daily, new betting odds, latest Back In My Day video & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, February 1. Happy new month, all! 2) A new Miami Herald Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE to visit. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk worldwide premiere, Super Bowl poll results, The List (Canes on top) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

The hate/love of National Signing Day: I really dislike the overblown hype and excess of the way Your Friend the Media covers National Signing Day as a bunch of 17-year-olds making a college decision are treated like gods. But! If you love NSD, Miami Herald Sports' new Facebook page will feed the junkie in you all day, right HERE. 

DEBUT OF NEW BLOG FEATURE! HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-1-17: What on the Wednesday, Feb. 1 sports calendar interests South Florida fans most:

1. National Signing Day, all day: Hurricanes, FIU, nation's colleges collect football bounty.

2. Atlanta at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Scorching Miami after its ninth consecutive victory.

3. Florida State at Hurricanes, 8 p.m.: Beating No. 15 FSU could lift UM men to Top 25.

4. Minnesota at Cleveland, 7 p.m.: Imagining LeBron's postgame should Cavs lose again.

5. Baylor at Kansas, 9 p.m.: Men's No. 2 at No. 3 brings Final Four feel to February.

LebbarkLEBRON-BARKLEY BEEF: IF LEBRON WERE ANY MORE THIN-SKINNED WE'D SEE HIS INTERNAL ORGANS: I find interesting and amusing this week's LeBron James-Charles Barkley beef. TNT analyst Barkley called LeBron "whiny," a pretty mild term that I found pretty justified, considering the Cavaliers are reigning champions and second-favorite to win again but here's James at midseason publicly calling out his team's management and his teammates. James, ever thin-skinned and on the lookout for perceived disrespect, called Barkley a "hater" and spewed a very personal attack-response, saying, "I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying." Oy! My take: Barkley has a right in his role as analyst to call James "whiny," and LeBron overreacted. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll.

NEW 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK': ADS AT $167,000 PER SECOND, FAN IN DJIBOUTI, BRADY'S TEARS, TUNA EYEBALLSSmirk returns with second of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game.

SmirkAgain this year, the Super Bowl television commercials have been voted even more popular than the game itself in an annual poll of the American Society of Advertisers.

In-game ads for this Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl will cost a record average of $5 million per half-minute spot, or roughly $167,000 per second.

Sunday’s ads will include has-been comic actor Jon Lovitz for Mexican avocados, a woman having a sexual fantasy about cartoon hottie Mr. Clean, an Intel ad with Tom Brady, and a Miami Herald commercial promoting Greg Cote’s blog. (OK I made up that last one).

Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad will tell the heartwarming story of immigrant founder Adolphus Busch’s 1857 journey from Germany to St. Louis, unless President Trump signs an executive order banning the ad.

Super Bowl ads used to be highly anticipated before companies put them out days in advance on social media. There still is a bit of unpredictability, other than the two annual iron-clad certainties:

Donkey1. There will be a sentimental ad revolving around a dog befriending a bedraggled donkey in a straw hat.

2. We’ll all hate the GoDaddy spot.

(*) NFL reports Falcons-Pats will be seen in 188 countries, Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and in more than 20 languages including Mandarin Chinese, Flemish and Hungarian. Right now, two bickering crones in Budapest stirring a pot of goulash are in agreement Falcons coach Dan Quinn may be “a feje folott” (in over his head).

(*) "What do they know of coaching!" cried a man in Djibouti.

(*) Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan briefly lost track of a backpack containing the team’s Sunday game plan. Cannot confirm witnesses said it had been taken by a scowling man wearing a gray hoodie.

(*) Still early, but Super Bowl Week has been too quiet and controversy-free. Can LeBron James and Charles Barkley both fly to Houston and start arguing please?

(*) Short of that, would some enterprising reporter at least please surreptitiously plant deer-antler spray on some linebacker?

7yrold(*) The question that nearly brought Tom Brady to tears talking about his father — "Who is your hero?" — was posed by a 7-year-old who won a contest to be a Super Bowl reporter. Great. Isn’t bad enough that newspapers are struggling. Now I have a second-grader after my job!

(*) Answer: Blonde/yellow is the betting favorite for the hair color of halftime performer Lady Gaga. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous prop bets!?

(*) Notice how businesses refer to the "Big Game" in ads so they won’t get sued by the NFL? Smirk suggests "Stupor Bowl" or "Super Bore" instead.

(*) A team of Budweiser Clydesdales arrived in Houston Tuesday and were immediately signed to one-week contracts by Bill Belichick and trained to rush the passer.

(*) Only midweek, but already there are early indications the national media may be running out of story ideas. Trending: Experts in onomastics weigh in on the exact origin of Matt Ryan’s "Matty Ice" nickname.

(*) Wait. Smirk could swear he just saw Mercury Morris standing on an orange crate with a megaphone in downtown Houston loudly reminding passersby the ’72 Dolphins remain the only undefeated team.

Moose nose(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Want a few party foods sure to surprise and delight your guests? Eight words: Tuna eyeballs, crispy Cambodian tarantulas, jellied moose nose.

Click Smirk I for Tuesday's Smirk debut.

UPDATED BETTINGS ODDS FOR NBA, COLLEGE HOOPS, NHL: Not much good news here for SoFla teams in latest odds via Bovada. In the NBA: Warriors a strong title pick at 5-7 odds, followed by Cavaliers at 13-5, with Heat still off the board. James Harden is 10-11 for MVP, then Russell Westbrook close at 5-4. In men's college basketball: Kentucky is tops at 11-2 for the national title, then Gonzaga at 15-2. FSU is 20-1, Florida 50-1 and Miami 300-1. In the NHL, Capitals at 6-1 and Blackhawks at 7-1 top a very bunched field. Panthers are 21st at 50-1.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': From Tuesday's LeBatard Show:

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 31, 2017

Worldwide premiere: Super Bowl With a Smirk, today starring dodgeball, Trump, Adolphus Busch and chicken wings; plus The List (Canes on top) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 31. A new Miami Herald Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (and it includes a lot of vintage stuff from the late great Edwin Pope) makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl polls & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio. You can also watch us on TV from 10-Noon on ESPNU and Noon-1 on ESPN2. 

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, my latest, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions held here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

"Yeah, I know. The schedule has been favorable lately. But c'mon, it's still eight straight wins..." -- Greg Cote

IT'S BACK! 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' DAILY NOTES COLUMN DEBUTS WITH DODGEBALL, TRUMP, VIBRATING BRADY, ADOLPHUS BUSCH AND CHICKEN WINGS: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this year with a daily needling jab at the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, "Make Fun, Not War," Smirk is an annual week-long feature in the Miami Herald except years we forget to do it. The first of five Smirks:

SmirkHey, did you catch the Pro Bowl game Sunday night? Yeah, me neither. But I heard one of the skills challenges the day before involved Dodgeball. No, seriously, because evidently they couldn't think of an idea even dumber. On deck: Twister!

The Pro Bowl unofficially kicks off Super Bowl Week each year, although it actually launched Monday with two major events in host-city Houston:

1. Super Bowl Live opened, a 250,000 square-foot "fan village" that features a virtual-reality trip to Mars, an outdoor skating rink and the daily live arrest of an NFL player. (OK we made up that last one).

2. Super Bowl Opening Night, formerly Media Day, where fans sat in the stands at Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros, to watch reporters interview players down on the field. The only thing worse than a mass Q&A session at a Super Bowl? Paying to watch it.

DodgeballThe interview process will be its own game of NFL Dodgeball all week as the Patriots maneuver to dodge all inquiries related to Deflategate, the Pats' buddy relationship with President Donald Trump, Tom Brady's appetite for revenge against commissioner Roger Goodell, and cheating-tainted legacies.

Smirk is surprised this hasn't gotten more attention, but Trump -- close friends with Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Brady -– quietly signed an executive order on Monday ordering Matt Ryan to have a lousy game.

(*) NFC champion Atlanta arrived in Houston Sunday afternoon, while AFC champ New England arrived Monday. It was expected to be the last time all week the Falcons were ever ahead of the Patriots.

(*) The point spread might have swung wildly in Atlanta's favor, but airport officials rejected the Falcons' claim that Brady was Muslim and therefore should not be allowed to deplane.

Electricfb(*) The Patriots won by an average score of 28-25 in 50,000 computer simulations conducted by PredictionMachine.com. Smirk conducted his own simulation using an electric football game from the '60s but results were inconclusive as a wildly vibrating Brady kept falling over.

(*) To absolutely guarantee no more Deflategate-type skullduggery from the Patriots, Goodell has ordered that all of the balls used in this Super Bowl be bowling balls.

(*) "Goodell's executive orders are almost as fantastic as mine!," said Trump.

(*) Security is heightened throughout Houston this week as NFL officials crack down on counterfeit merchandise and media interviews with brain-injury experts.

(*) Enterprising columnists sniffing an offbeat angle were scrambling to locate ex-Falcon Eugene Robinson – the devout Christian arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Miami the night before Atlanta's only previous SB appearance -– only to learn, crestfallen, that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution just did that.

Busch(*) Budweiser's Super Bowl ad will tell the story of immigrant founder Adolphus Busch's 1857 journey from Germany to St. Louis, unless Trump signs an executive order banning the ad.

(*) CBS Sports played a "Madden '17" simulation of the Super Bowl and -– ah, who cares who won the video game!

(*) By the way, it's Super Bowl 51 to Smirk, not the Roman numeral "LI," because demographic studies indicate only 12 percent of current Miami Herald readers are ancient Romans from 900 AD.

(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: When deciding how many chicken wings to order, the standard is 240 per person, according to the National Chicken Council.

Poll result: Landslide wants Falcons, but (narrow) majority thinks Pats: We asked who you want to win this Super Bowl and it was Falcons with 83.7 percent. We asked you think will win and it was Patriots with 51.8%.

THE LIST: CANES TOP COLLEGES WITH MOST ALL-TIME SUPER BOWL PARTICIPANTS: The top 10:

School                        SB players

1. Miami                        118

2. Southern Cal              116

3. UCLA                         110

4. Michigan                    106

5. Penn State                  104

6. Notre Dame                102

7. Tennessee                    97

8. Nebraska                     92

9. Colorado                     91

10. Georgia                     89

Note: Florida State is 14th with 82 and Florida is tied for 16th with 77. Alabama leads this Super Bowl with six total players. UM has only one alum playing: Falcons punter Matt Bosher.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

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

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

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.

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

Twitter @gregcote