Michael Jordan again.
All men who, when they retired, genuinely made me sad.
Notice whose name is not on that list? Fireman Ed. Yep. Ed retired this week. He hung up the helmet, his boots, and his hose (although, admittedly, that sounds a bit odd).
I’m not sad about Ed. In fact, most fans of the Bills, Patriots, and Dolphins are actually happy we won’t have to see and hear that J-E-T-S chant on CBS once a year against our teams going forward.
But I do respect Ed. Not just because he was an actual firefighter. That’s respectable enough. But because he was a dying breed. The breed of the Human Mascot. Not the furry creatures dressing up each week on the sidelines, but those guys or girls in the stands who go all-in and become famous throughout the country for their dresswear.
Here are some of the most memorable Human Mascots over the years, some still doing it every Sunday in the fall. Some who’ve gone the way of Ed and are now only in our memories…
Barrel Man in Denver. I'm so glad the suspenders never broke:
Viking Man. By the way, what's with the Cowboys star tattoo on his right bicep?
The Hogs and Hogettes. I still have nightmares of them from January of 1992:
The Dawg Pound's Big Dawg. I don't think I'd be a dog worshipper like I am if they actually looked like this:
The entire Raiders Black Hole. Too bad their franchise has been a reflection of their moniker:
Of course, we have our own here in Buffalo. Like The Bills chefs and Elvis:
More on the Jaguars at Bills game below, but first…..
3 Other Must-See NFL Games For Week 13:
Buccaneers at Broncos: The two NFC wild card spots are still very much in the air. The Bucs aren’t in one of those positions right now, but a win here and some help and they’ll be in one of those positions with just four games to play. Greg Schiano is doing a great job of proving college coaches can come into the league and be successful right away. No one’s really talking about his players hitting Giants offensive linemen on a kneel-down anymore because his team is playing too well to overlook. The Broncos started 2-3 but have won six in a row. They’re still in the mix for home-field throughout the AFC playoffs. And this game could see a lot of scoring. Denver is 3rd in the NFL in points per game (28.9). Tampa is 4th (28.2).
Steelers at Ravens: If you are still holding out on that slimmest of hopes that the Bills can win their remaining games and make the playoffs, this one is huge to pay attention to. It’s also a great, physical rivalry between two teams that just played two weeks ago. Of course whether or not Ben Roethlisberger plays is the big storyline headed in. It may be the only chance the Steelers have. Charlie Batch isn’t going to Baltimore and winning a game when the Ravens still have division titles and home playoff games to play for. And one that’s won 15 straight at home in the regular season.
Charlie Batch. AARP MVP.
Giants at Redskins: This is most likely a knock-out game for the Redskins. If they lose, they’re virtually out of the NFC playoff race. If they win, they’re only a game back of the Giants with four still to play. The Giants look like they got their groove back last week against Green Bay, but the Skins looked just as good on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys. In fact, they’ve played terrific football the past two weeks, beating Dallas and Philly, averaging 34.5 points in those wins. QB Robert Griffin III became the first rookie in NFL history with four or more TD passes in consecutive games.
NFL Fact Hopefully Not Only I Find Interesting:
Through Week 12, there have been 95 games decided by eight points or fewer, the most through the first 12 weeks of a season in NFL history.
3 College Games Worth Your Time:
Alabama vs. Georgia (SEC Championship): This is a national semi-final game. Even though it’s not officially that, we all know the winner here will face Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship on January 7th. There will be a ton of NFL talent on the field. The odds makers have the Crimson Tide as a 7 ½ -point favorite. Sure, Alabama can cover that, but don’t underestimate the Bulldogs. In fact, talent-for-talent, Georgia may not only match Alabama, they may be better. But of course, Nick Saban vs. Mark Richt may be the biggest edge the Tide has.
Winner gets Notre Dame.
UCLA vs. Stanford (Friday night; PAC12 championship): What odds would you have got before the season started that THESE two teams would be playing for the conference title? No Oregon here. No USC. Just two teams who kept surprising people all season and just kept winning. Two coaches, Jim Mora, Jr. (UCLA) and David Shaw (Stanford), who’ve done an amazing job. This game will come down to the UCLA offense vs. the Stanford defense and which wins that battle. The Cardinal are 19th nationally on defense. The Bruins are 21st on offense.
Oklahoma State at Baylor: Not the most attractive matchup as far as top teams are concerned, but if you like offense and scoring, this game is for you. The Cowboys are #5 nationally in total offense. One of the four ahead of them is Baylor. They are #2 nationally. Both teams routinely score over 40 points.
NFL Fact Hopefully Not Only I Find Interesting Part II:
Since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 15 teams have reached the postseason despite having a losing record after 11 games. Twelve 5-6 teams have done it. Three 4-7 teams have done it, all in the AFC (1995 Chargers; 1996 Jaguars; 2008 Chargers). The Bills, of course, are 4-7. That brings me back to…..
Jaguars at Bills:
Buddy Nix says CJ Spiller will get more carries.
Chan Gailey says Ryan Fitzpatrick is the team’s QB for the near future.
No one knows for sure if either of those two will even still be in their positions when 2013 begins.
The Jags haven’t started to run for the bus yet. In fact, just the opposite. They’re playing their best football f the season the past two weeks. That coincides with Chad Henne starting at quarterback. Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III are really starting to emerge in what was an otherwise anemic offense most of the season.
But the Bills defense has been playing their best football as of late, too. Mario Williams is finally healthy and getting to the QB. The linebackers are making stops at the line of scrimmage.
Normally, when a Florida team comes north for a December game in Orchard Park, you know they’re going to have trouble even before the bus pulls in. But the forecast is for mid-50s (maybe some rain) Sunday in Western New York. No advantage there for the Bills, really.
Their biggest advantage is Clifford. Clifford “CJ” Spiller that is. Jacksonville is 29th in the NFL stopping the run. Let’s see if Buddy’s right, even if the only way to really “see” it in WNY is by going to the game itself.
Hi, my name's CJ. Nice to meet you, Coach!
To a man, Bills players say they can win five in a row and make a run at the payoffs. It’s not about five. It’s about one.
---Sal CapaccioFollow me on twitter: @SalSports