Carson's Tonight Show was one of the few late night shows my parents allowed me to watch during my early years. I cherish the memory of sitting with my family and watching Johnny deftly ad-lib his way through dying material. He was something special, and represented for me one the last vestiges of great television comedy. He could be funny, sure, but his greatness in my eyes resides in the cleanliness of his humor. Of course, there were sly winks and double entedres that sailed over my head like a Roethlisberger pass, but it was his clever wit and delivery that charmed me into a loyal viewer. I was drawn to this man who looked to be doing exactly what he was born to do.
So then I admit a bit of naiveté, mourning the loss of these icons from my youth while shocked at their lack of immortality. But I shan't apologize; every faint remembrance of Charles Schultz, Fred Rogers, and Christopher Reeve is like a brief whiff of Mom's corn pancakes: they always make me smile. Good night, Johnny.
Want to know what gets my goat? NBC's website didn't even have any note of Carson's death on their front page on Monday morning. As of this writing, they've added a little square to the bottom right honoring the man whose show once produced more than 10% of NBC's total revenue and ended with 50 million viewers. What's prominently displayed when the page loads? Couple's Fear Factor. Have mercy.
Let's talk football.
I was speaking with my boy Ryan the Commish earlier today, and he reminded me that this season's Super Bowl matchup has been widely predicted since, oh, August. After all the talk this year about the Colts and Manning, the Chargers and Brees, Culpepper and Moss, and, um, Gibbs and Brunell, the very simple truth remained that the Philly Egos and New England Patriots are the best teams in their respective conferences. How true.
What I find amazing is that while both of these teams are perennial contenders, occasional conference champions, and one nears dynasty status, they both keep getting better. Consider that the Patriots and Eagles both finished last season ranked #1 and 3 respectively and still were able to pick up high-impact free agents in the offseason who perfectly filled their few weaknesses. Corey Dillon had his best year ever and Terrell Owens instantly made Donovan McNabb a pocket passer. That's good management of personnel and finances, and the rest of the league (et tu, Snyder?) would do well to learn from their example
The labored two weeks between conference championships and the Super Bowl give plenty of time for analysis and prognostiaction. But let me say here, now, that if Terrell Owens fails to play on Super Sunday, the Eagles will not win. If T.O. suits up and plays, I give the Eagles a 47.6% chance of winning. That is, it's more likely than not that the Patriots will repeat and ascend to the Pantheon of Great NFL Teams.
I was a bit dismayed at how unbalanced many of this season's playoff games turned out. The headlining games featuring Vick vs. McNabb, Manning vs. Brady, Roethlisberger vs. Belichick, Vick vs. Bulger, Culpepper vs. McNabb, Favre vs. Culpepper, and Manning vs. Mike Sherman all turned out to be one-sided smackdowns whose only drama was whether the losing team could make the score respectable. Thankfully, the Jets made the playoffs and provided some Real Fun Football, even if it wasn't Good.
So I'll wait a bit to predict a final score and confirm the Patriot's win. Think I'm overconfident of New England? Raise your hand if you thought Brady would go deep for two passes over 40 yards in the first half, including one for more than 60 for a touchdown. Nobody in Pittsburgh should have their hand up. The Patriots held the high-powered Colts to 3 points, then put up 41 on the road against the #1 seed in the AFC. They humbled the league MVP and Rookie of the Year in consecutive weeks, and were never challenged. They can run, they can pass, they have a wide receiver playing in nickel defense. What can't they do?
I dunno about you, but if I'm Andy Reid and the Eagles, I don't sleep these two weeks and prepare to do what appears to be the impossible: outsmart the New England Patriots.