Terry Fator on the NFL’s biggest stories of the year

Now that the NFL season is done and dusted, we thought our readers would get a kick out of this exclusive clip from “America’s Got Talent” winner Terry Fator’s new concert DVD (available February 18th), where the comedian and his puppet, Winston the impersonating turtle, joke about the year’s biggest stories. Check out the clip below:

  

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Peyton Manning’s legacy

Super Bowl Sunday is finally here, so we can finally get to the game as opposed to the endless talk out there on the web and all the cable channels. The game has been analyzed from every possible angle, and while opinions vary greatly on who will win, many expect this to be a close game and a classic Super Bowl. You can be sure that bets are flowing into the sportsbooks in Las Vegas and betting enthusiasts all over the world are researching various bets, including the famous Super Bowl prop bets and a list of free bet offers.

The most interesting angle here involves Peyton Manning versus the Seattle defense. We’ve seen so many examples of high-powered offenses getting stuffed in the Super Bowl, with notable examples being Jim Kelly’s Buffalo Bills who seemed unstoppable untile they ran into the New York Giants defense and an offense that ground out the clock. We also saw a diffeent Giants defense stuff Tom Brady when he had some of his best offenses. Even though they won their Super Bowl, the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams were definitely slowed down by the Titans, and then they ended up losing to the Patriots.

We’ve also seen plenty of offensive explosions, particularly in the 1980s when Joe Montana was racking up big numbers in the Super Bowls. But he faced some pretty weak defenses in those games.

So the big offense versus tough defense storyline is front and center here, and it’s magnified due to the involvement of Peyton Manning. Manning has gotten some grief for mediocre playoff and Super Bowl performances, and now he has another chance to enhance his legacy with this matchup. The important aspect of Manning’s game is that he’s an excellent tactician, so he won’t be afraid to use the running game if necessary to keep Seattle off balance, unlike Jim Kelly who seemed determined to win the game with his arm and then paid the price. On the other hand, we’ve seen Manning get frustrated by the great Patriot defenses in the past. Can that happen here?

Which then brings us to his legacy. If Manning loses, there will be those who hold that against him. That’s just the way these things go. He is one of the greatest QBs ever already. The question is how many people try to argue he belongs at the top of that list. If he wins today, he will be the only quarterback to win Super Bowls with more than one team, and that will certainly add to his legacy.

So be prepared to have this topic discussed endlessly after the game.

  

Old versus new in the Super Bowl

The matchup is set with the Denver Broncos facing off against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 Super Bowl which will be the first to be played outside in a northern city. It will likely be a very evenly matched game between two very different football teams led by very different quarterbacks. With such a matchup we can all expect the Super Bowl online betting to be quite brisk. As soon as the two teams were in place there was already a flurry of activity as most sportsbooks had Seattle listed as a slight favorite, but that changed quickly as money poored in on the Broncos. Now were see Denver as a one point or 1.5 point favorite on many sportsbooks, and we can probably expect more volatility.

One factor that will probably move the line with be the weather. With Peyton Manning leading Denver’s traditional yet explosive air attack, we can expct more money to flow to the Broncos if we see mild conditions for the game, or at least little wind and snow. But if the weather is bad, than the conventional wisdom has that favoring the Seahawks who rely more on the running game as opposed to Russell Wislon. Also, while Wislon is not particularly effective in the pocket, he is great at improvising and bad weather might actually help his game.

The matchup between the quarterbacks will be the most intriguing and that goes far beyond the weather. Peyton Manning represents the kind of quarterback that has been winning championships in the NFL throughout its history. Manning beats you by throwing from the pocket. His mobility isn’t that great though he’s good at navigating around a pass rush and throwing under pressure. Russell Wilson on the other hand is one of the new mobile quarterbacks who sometimes relies on the read option to be effective. The Seahawks have been limiting the number of times he runs, as it’s obviously a huge risk that he’ll get injured, but he’s also been less effective lately. Without the running threat teams are daring Wilson to throw the ball. But he’s certainly capable of making big plays, and if he hits on some then Seattle will be in a good position.

It should be a great game!

  

Andrew Wiggins is Gatorade’s High School Player of the Year

Andrew Wiggins Gatorade POY 2

Andrew Wiggins is on his way to becoming a household name, and winning the Gatorade High School Player of the Year Award is another big milestone in that journey. I was on hand in Los Angeles last night for the awards ceremony at the W Hotel in Hollywood as Wiggins picked up his trophy and Morgan Andrews picked up the award for best female athlete.

Gatorade has been handing out these awards since 1985, and past winners sound like a who’s who of sports superstars with names like Emmitt Smith and Peyton Manning. Last year we were on hand when Breanna Stewart picked up the award for female athlete, and she promptly went on to win a National Championship with UConn in woman’s basketball. This years winner for girls basketball, Morgan Andrews, is going to Tennessee and it will be fun to watch her potentially challenge Stewart and the Huskies for basketball supremacy. Here are all of the impressive winners:

GIRLS
Lauren Carlini Volleyball
Sarah Baxter Cross Country
Mercedes Russell Basketball
Morgan Andrews Soccer
Carley Hoover Softball
Kendell Williams Track & Field

BOYS
Max Browne Football
Edward Cheserek Cross Country
Andrew Wiggins Basketball
Cristian Roldan Soccer
Clint Frazier Baseball
Trayvon Bromell Track & Field

We spoke with many of the athletes and came away impressed with all of them. As a Cleveland Indians fan I had already heard about Clint Frazier, this year’s #1 draft pick for the Indians. Frazier has tremendous power and is considered by many scouts to be a 5-tool player. He’s already started his pro career and he’s loving it. Max Browne is heading to USC to play quarterback, and with Matt Barkley heading to the NFL we may just see Browne starting this season as a freshman. Trayvon Bromwell is the first American high school athlete to run a sub 10.0 in the 100-meter dash with a 9.99 second effort this past season. We’ll probably be seeing him in the Olympics soon.

Andrew Wiggins Gatorade POY

Gatorade surprises all of the winners at their high school with their award, so we heard plenty of stories about that in our interviews. Max Browne explained how they showed up on his last day of school and how his friend had played along while the coach made it sound like they had gotten in some sort of trouble. Mercedes Russell said her coach only told her they would be taking some pictures that day so at elast she was prepared for that part of it.

A number of pro athletes were on hand to give out the awards and honor these young kids, including Phillip Rivers, Paul George, Abby Wambach and Misty May-Treanor. We were able to speak with each of them and we’ll be posting videos soon.

When we spoke with Andrew Wiggins, he explained how he’s already training with the Kansas Jayhawks and looking forward to the upcoming season. He seems to be handling all of the hype well, saying that he’s just concerned with the upcoming season now and he’s not getting distracted by the potential of being the #1 pick in the NBA draft next year. I asked him about a budding rivalry between him and Jabari Parker, last year’s winner in the basketball category who decided to attend Duke, Wiggins pointed out that Kansas and Duke will face off this season in Chicago, so he’s definitely paying attention to the matchup. It will be fun to watch these two incredible talents play against each other, possibly sparking a new Bird-Magic type of rivalry for years to come.

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Johnathan Gray wins Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Award

We were in Hollywood last night to attend the 2012 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award ceremony. Johnathan Gray, a football player from Aledo High School in Texas, and Breanna Stewart, a basketball player from Cicero-North Syracuse High School in New York, both won the 2012 Athlete of the Year honors from among this impressive group of high school athletes:

GIRLS
Jordan Burgess – Volleyball
Molly Seidel – Cross Country
Breanna Stewart – Basketball
Morgan Andrews – Soccer
Geri Ann Glasco – Softball
Shelbi Vaughan – Track & Field

BOYS
Johnathan Gray – Football
Futsum Zeinasellassie – Cross Country
Jabari Parker – Basketball
Ema Boateng – Soccer
Lance McCullers Jr. – Baseball
Abraham Hall – Track & Field

You’ll be seeing many of these kids in the years to come on SportsCenter. Johnathan Gray is an amazing running back who will be playing for the Texas Longhorns this coming season. In his senior season of high school, he rushed for 3,891 yards on 346 attempts for a rushing average of 11.2 yards per carry. Even more impressively, he rushed for 65 touchdowns!! Needless to say the Texas running game will be getting a nice boost for the next several years.

Breanna Stewart is a 6′ 4″ basketball player who will join the parade of amazing players Geno Auriemma assembles from year to year at UConn. She has also played on the USA Basketball teams for three years, helping each team win a Gold Medal.

All of the kids were very impressive, but Jabari Parker also jumps out as a kid to watch. He was only a junior in high school last season so it’s highly likely Gatorade will be bringing him back again next year. Right now he’s the #1 recruit in the country according to most scouting services and every college basketball powerhouse is drooling at the opportunity to bring in this 6′ 8″ talent. Many are calling him the best young talent since LeBron James.

We had the opportunity to speak with all three players and they all came across as great kids. Each of them emphasized the need to keep working hard to improve their games at the next level. I asked Johnathan Gray about some of the running backs he looked up to, and he mentioned LeSean McCoy, LaDainian Tomlinson, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson. I also asked him about his patience running behind a great offensive line, and Jonathan responded with a great line, saying that running backs should be “slow to it, fast through it” when waiting for the hole to open up.

Check back as we’ll be posting our interviews with Jabari Parker and Breanna Stewart as well.

The award show was also very entertaining, with ESPN’s Stewart Scott hosting the show that included some great presenters, including Robert Griffin III, Alonzo Mourning, Landon Donovan, Lisa Leslie and Brandi Chastian among other notable athletes. Mourning is a former winner of the award, which has prestigious names like Derek Jeter, Lebron James and Peyton Manning among the many winners since 1985. Mourning stressed education in his remarks and in our interview with him afterwards. The beauty of this award is that it takes more than just athletic accomplishments into account. All of these kids excel in the classroom as well.

Along with Zo, we were able to interview Landon Donovan as well and had him size up the state of Team USA as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup and we sat in with an interview session with RG3 as well. Check back as we’ll also be posting these interviews.

It was a great evening as we caught a preview of some of the athletes who will likely be dominating the sports headlines in the years to come.

  

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