Sunday, January 29, 2012

Local family 'lives' for Pro Bowl

Downingtown, PA--Shane Tolliver was just a kid in 1982 when he attended his first Pro Bowl in the 50th state admitted to the Union. In fact, the then ten-year-old can only remember the hard tackling and the giant, tubular waves crashing the pristine Hawaiian beaches. He's been to every Pro Bowl since and has no plans of missing the game in the future.

The Pro Bowl is the N.F.L.'s All-Star game, played in Hawaii since 1980 (except 2010) it showcases the best in the N.F.C. vs. the best in the A.F.C. It will again be played in the Pineapple State this Sunday on one of your television's channels. (I dare you to try and find it.)

Tolliver is from the Philadelphia area but exercises no allegiance to the Eagles or any other N.F.L. team for that matter. He is adamantly and strictly a fan of "just the Pro Bowl."

"It's the best football there is, period," said Tolliver, wearing an autographed Randall Cunningham Pro Bowl jersey from the 1989 game that featured the high-flying quarterback at his best. "I don't watch any regular season or playoff games, they're lame. This is it. The Pro Bowl is what it's all about. To be honest, I don't even really like any other sporting events."

The entire Tolliver family--brothers, sister, kids, grandkids, parents, etc.--are exclusively focused on the Pro Bowl.

"You know how people get geared up for the stupid Super Bowl?" said Tolliver. "Well, that's how I, and my entire family, get for the Pro Bowl. It's the ... all-star ... of, well, you know ... football games."

Tolliver's father started the tradition of all-star games when his father brought him to the 1942 N.F.L. All-Star game in Philadelphia, before it was called the Pro Bowl.

"The storylines are just so compelling," added Tolliver's brother Jim, who is in charge of organizing bets at the Family Pro Bowl party. "You have guys that battled each other all year and now, all the sudden, they're best buds and teammates. It's fantastic theater. This could be on Broadway or, at the very least, Broad Street."

The conference that wins the Pro Bowl gets bragging rights for a year and all the perks that come along with the victory. For example, the Pro Bowl championship trophy (a silver coconut), much like the Stanley Cup, is taken by each player to their home town for two days. The player can do what he pleases, within "reasonable means," and show off the award to family and friends.

"Maybe the best part about the whole Pro Bowl is that the players get to wear their own helmets. I mean, the helmets from their own team. That's just so cool," said 8-year-old Justin Tolliver, Shane's oldest son. "It's neat."

The family also noted that they love the advertisements during the game and often quiet each other in order to hear the 30-seconds spots that company's pay over $5 million for.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ship passengers offered collector's edition Love Boat action figures as compensation

Miami, FL--The Carnival Corporation announced today that all passengers aboard the Costa Concordia that ran aground off the coast of Italy on January 13 would be generously compensated in the form of "rare" action figures from the popular late 1970's and early 80's television show The Love Boat.

"The figures are valued at over $200 a piece, so ..." said Howard Newman, Carnival's vice president of customer satisfaction and relations. "There weren't very many [figures] made, but we found about 3,500 of them to distribute among our loyal, really cool passengers. I mean, we have the coolest passengers ... ever."

These passengers, after signing a document forfeiting any future right to pursue legal action against the cruise line, will enjoy the full figurine set that includes: Captain Stubing, Vicki, Isaac, Gopher, Julie and Doc.

"I feel like it's pretty fair compensation," said Brad Geiss, 39, from Silver Springs, MD, the neurologist was traveling on the ship with his new wife, Gloria. "I heard rumors of cash, but honestly I'm a big collector and this kind of stuff gets me very excited. Isn't that right, honey?"

"I bought Gopher and Doc back in 1985--they came in the same pack for a limited time--so I'm good with those two. I just need the other four to complete my set. This is awesome! Carnival really came through," said Jessica Smith, 42, of Dalesville, MA. "Carnival ruined my honeymoon but totally made up for it with these action figures. I'm signing that document."

The Costa Concordia had travelers from nearly 60 different countries when it capsized near Tuscany. How will callous promises of plastic toy models from a long ago American television show be eagerly accepted as compensation from such an international, traumatized audience?

"Well, to be quite honest, we think Captain Stubing had a very ... international appeal," added Newman. "Plus, look, the hats on each figurine are removable. I didn't know that until just right now. That's kind of cool."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama taking economy frustrations out on the basketball court

Washington, D.C.--Seeking a much-needed distraction from the chaotic life that is commander-in-chief, President Obama engaged in a "friendly" game of pick-up basketball this afternoon prior to giving the State of the Union Address before Congress and the nation in the Capitol later in the evening. During the game the President committed, and was called for, a hard foul when driving the lane for a layup late in the contest. "He fouled me," shouted an embarrassed Obama, at the informal press conference that followed the basketball workout, to a reporter that had asked about the upcoming speech and not the scrimmage. "I play to win and everyone out there on that court plays to win. It really is not a big deal." Another reporter asked about current oil prices and Obama shot back: "It was a blocking foul, plain and simple. His wheels were clearly moving, they were never set. It was a bogus call."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

CBS announcers instructed not to say Broncos' head coach's last name

Foxboro, MA--CBS instructed Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, the first-team announcers for the station's N.F.L. broadcasts, not to say the last name of the Denver Broncos' head coach, John Fox, over the entire course of the telecast on Saturday's divisional playoff matchup between the Patriots and Broncos. CBS executives felt saying the last name would give free publicity to a rival network--FOX. "I was only permitted to say John during the game," said a frustrated Nantz. "It really threw me off, I was uncomfortable. If [the cameramen] showed John Fox on the sideline I could only say, 'And there is the head coach of the Broncos, John.'"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Singletary sneaks onto 49ers' sideline, brings own headset, monogrammed challenge flag

San Francisco, CA--Mike Singletary, who was fired from the head coaching job of the 49ers after last season, is back on the sideline for the City by the Bay. However, not in any official capacity.

Singletary spent three years here and compiled an 18-22 record, failing to make the playoffs in any season and is now the linebackers coach in Minnesota. The 49ers are playing in the second round of the NFL playoffs today under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh for the first time since 2002.

"[Singletary] was wearing a large 49ers parka with the hood pulled over his head and he slipped in past stadium security," said one team official. "We just kind of let him be. Mike made it all the way to the sidelines and he even brought a headset with him. We're just letting him do his thing so not to cause a big scene, he's a good guy."

The coach also brought his own challenge flag, but it was quickly and quietly taken from him by quarterback Alex Smith while wide receiver Michael Crabtree distracted the former Bears legend. "I asked him about his linebacking days with the Bears and he just went off on a story and Alex crept up behind and grabbed the flag," said Crabtree. "We couldn't have him throwing that thing onto the field."

The team confirmed that the headset is not connected with the 49er coaches' network, but that Singletary picks up communication between truckers passing Candlestick Park on Highway 101 and US 280. "He's pretending to talk to coaches upstairs, but he only gets yelled at by tractor trailer drivers to 'pick another frequency, a&&hole,'" the official added.

Awesome Roy? New Eagles cornerback thoroughly confused hockey fan entire season

Central New Jersey--Fred Swindon admits he's a huge hockey fan. And when it comes to hockey he acknowledges it's not right to like two teams, but he grew up, and currently lives, near the ambiguous dividing line that separates the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas in central New Jersey. He says this only to reinforce his love for hockey.

"I am more a Flyers fan, but I cheer for the Devil's pretty hard, too," said Swindon. "But overall I'm just a huge hockey fan. I mean, huge."

The work-from-home computer programmer subscribes to the hockey package on cable, receives over twenty publications dedicated solely to the frozen game and takes photos of NHL arenas around the country during the puck-less summer months. Additionally, he writes a blog for the AHL ( and follows more than five thousand hockey related accounts on Twitter.

The six pool sticks in his basement billiards room were made from old hockey sticks. One carefully preserved and lacquered cue still has a hockey blade at the thicker end, he claims it was Steve Yzerman's, the longtime former captain of the Detroit Red Wings. The balls on the felt table he says are made from the teeth of hockey players around the world that he purchased on EBay.

So, when it comes to watching football the Jersey-based hockey fan is not up to speed with all the offseason transactions and happenings of the game. He says he turns the game on Sundays to have something in the background.

Missing the first few Eagles games of the season, the "extremely casual NFL fan" tuned in for an early October matchup between the Eagles and the Redskins. A pass by the Washington quarterback Rex Grossman was broken up nicely by an Eagles cornerback in the first quarter.

"Asomugha with the stop!" shouted the announcer on television.

"When I first heard it I just thought it was a mistake. Then, the announcers said it a few more times during the remainder of the game. I was dumbfounded, literally. I couldn't believe they were paying tribute to the great Patrick Roy during a football game. 'Awesome Roy' this and 'awesome Roy' that. It was great," said a smiling Swindon. "He was a great player and deserves the recognition even during a football game."

Swindon was completely unaware that the Eagles had made a major signing in the lockout-shortened offseaon when they added coveted Raiders' free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha is pronounced ah-sem-wah. Said with some quickness and rhythm and it can sound a lot like awesome-wah (or, if you'r a crazy hockey fan). Incidentally, the French pronunciation of Roy is wah.

The die-hard hockey fan that he is automatically set his mind to hear awesome Roy. Patrick Roy is a Hall of Fame goalie that played for the Montreal Canadians from 1985-95 and for the Colorado Avalanche from 1995-2003. He won four Stanley Cups, two with each team, and captured the Venzina Trophy as the league's best netminder three times.

"It didn't make any sense, but when one is so focused on hockey ... it made perfect sense. I am blinded by hockey sometimes, or deafened, in this case."

Swindon didn't realize his mistake until the end of the season when he made a post on his blog thanking the Eagles and the network announcing team for honoring Patrick Roy throughout the season. Immediately the comments came pouring in and there was lots of embarrassment.

"Lot's of egg. A big 'ol chunk of scrambled egg. What can I say, I'm not that into football."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Santorum attack ad in New Hampshire blaming Romney for collapse of Old Man of the Mountain proves too little, too late

Concord, N.H.--The smear factor on the road to the GOP presidential nomination just reached a new level in the Granite State. An attack ad by the Santorum camp on Mit Romney is being described as "beyond low" by political analysts across the country.

In the ad, a voice, which appears to be Santorum's, vaguely accuses Romney of destroying the Old Man of the Mountain, the iconic rock formation (shown on the state quarter series) that when viewed from the side appeared to be a withered, leathery man's face. The formation was located in the famous, rugged White Mountains.

Sadly, the Old Man of the Mountain came tumbling down the cliff face on an early May day in 2003 at the hand of Mother Nature, an emotionally difficult day for the residents of the New England state.

Santorum did his homework.

The advertisement, showing Photoshopped pictures of a hiking Romney, declared: "Can we trust a man who may or may not have had a hand in taking down one of New Hampshire's most treasured natural wonders? That's right, the crumbling of the Old Man of the Mountain may not have been by force of nature. Romney says he never hiked near the White Mountains, but I say show us proof. I say where were you on May 3, 2003? I say ... do you like to hike Mr. Romney? Mr. Romney, do you like to hike? [A different, more cheerful voice] This ad was approved by Rick Santorum."

Despite the ads, Romney prevailed in the New Hampshire primary and the candidates now prepare for South Carolina. "We're currently shooting an ad that focuses on Romney and the Gamecock, but I can't get into details," said one GOP contender.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Burger King debuts BK Kids Meal War Horse backpack

Miami, FL--For the first time ever a fast food chain restaurant has partnered with a PG-13-rated Hollywood film for the purposes of marketing and selling merchandise with kids meals. The popular Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse has joined with Burger King to launch a series of children's products including an oversized school horse backpack (pictured above). "We realize this is a gamble because the movie is rated PG-13 and this seemingly reduces a large chunk of our kids meal intended audience," said Beverly Morton, Burger King's director of North American sales. "That being said, huge numbers of under 13's are seeing the film--including my 8-year-old--and requesting the backpack at our restaurants. In addition, adults are purchasing kids meals solely for the purpose of receiving a War Horse backpack." Burger King claims in TV ads that each backpack contains one strand of hair from the real horse of the movie.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reid blaming disappointing season on league's rejection of 32-week, 16-game season plan

South Philadelphia--Andy Reid will be back for the 2012 campaign, really. It may not surprise most, but there was speculation that his tenure in Philadelphia was coming to an end after his 13th season as head coach of the Eagles. Struggling to an 8-8 record (4-8 before a strong finish), the deeply talented team that was suppose to make a run to the Super Bowl--at the minimum a playoff appearance--is dusting off golf spikes or skis or something.

Clock management continues to be a weak point for Reid, frequently using timeouts simply to retrieve the challenge flag or re-laminate his play chart. Senseless penalties and the abject refusal to run the football with any consistency has doomed many games even before the coin toss.

There is, however, one statistic that cannot be overlooked by critics: 13-0. Reid's record in games following the bye week. Thirteen years and 13 wins in 13 attempts after the coach has a week off, an extra seven days to study the often less-prepared opponent.

"Reid is dominant in games where he has two weeks to get ready," said Adam Zilinger, popular sports columnist for the Chester County Times Daily. "Andy knows this and is the reason he approached the league with a plan in the offseason."

Reid traveled to New York on Amtrak's Keystone service on the cold morning of February 28, 2011, nearly two weeks before the lockout began. The coach carried a massive three-ring binder at his side, actually the brick of papers had its own seat in business class. Reid made the journey as the only representative of the Eagles, in fact, no one from the franchise was aware the California native was meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the league's Manhattan offices.

Inside the binder (which freakishly resembled a trapper keeper) was a plan. A three-holed, desperate plea, perhaps, by a coach who understood perfectly the value of a bye week. Handwritten on each page was a detailed outline for the league to adopt a 32-week, 16-game season. Currently, the NFL season spans 17 weeks with 16 games. The math is simple: each team gets one week off during the season.

"Reid's radical plan was to have the season open in September and end in April, with playoffs in May, every other week being a bye week. He did all the research before stepping from the platform at 30th Street Station, over the gap and into the Amtrak car," said Mike Rulligan, the CSPM reporter that broke the story. "He was ready."

The coach had laminated, like his play charts, each and every page of the plan for effect. He hired Cooper-Sinclair, the large sports scheduling consulting group, to crunch numbers for extending the season by four months. According to the plan, the league could double revenue and attract a wider audience.

According to sources, Goodell seriously considered the plan and kept the "trapper keeper thing" to look over for several weeks. "Goodell had his team of advisers break down the plan. They returned good numbers, but they weren't good enough. The regular season would have to end by mid-February for it to work," said Rulligan. "So, much to the frustration of Reid, the single bye week format remained in place."

"We need more bye weeks in this league," Reid said at today's news conference at the NovaCare Complex, the final one of the season. "It's as simple as that. Bye weeks can help me put my players in a better position to win a game."