Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula removed a lot of drama surrounding last Sunday’s Bills-Jets mercifully season-concluding game when he fired head coach Rex Ryan earlier in the week. The dismissal meant that Rex Ryan would not be able to try to beat the Jets which of course was the team that he coached for six seasons. Ryan was fired by Jets owner Woody Johnson two years ago after he failed to get the Jets to the playoff for four straight years.
The Bills’ decision to can Rex before the last game of the season was a gift to Jets head coach Todd Bowles who himself has been on the hot seat because of his team’s awful season.
For starters, the Bills who were eliminated from playoff contention last week after a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Dolphins, came into MetLife just to play out the string. Knowing that they would have a new head coach next year, the Bills players had little reason to show up on Sunday and they proved that by getting pulverized 30-10 by the Jets, a team which got by such NFL dregs as the Browns and the 49ers by a margin of three points in each game and had to furiously come from behind in both games to boot.
Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who was one of Gang Green’s few bright spots this season, agreed with my assessment that when most NFL players talk about “playing for pride” in meaningless contests what they are really saying is “give me my paycheck and I will do whatever I can to avoid injury” when I spoke with him at his locker following the Bills game.
Beating the Bills was probably just icing on the cake for Bowles. New York Daily News NFL columnist and Fresh Meadows native Gary Myers reported last Thursday that Woody Johnson had already made the decision to bring him back. My guess is that Woody wanted to show everyone that he did indeed make the right decision to ax Rex Ryan in January 2015 and replace him with Todd Bowles shortly afterwards. In what has been a losing season in every way imaginable, seeing Rex get fired by another team and then keeping his successor for another season made Woody feel like a winner.
Northwest held off Pittsburgh, 31-24, in last week’s Pinstripe Bowl that was held at Yankee Stadium. As has been the case in all of the past six Pinstripe Bowls, scores were made on big plays as opposed to lengthy drives, and the game was not boring.
Many doubted the long-term feasability of the Pinstripe Bowl when the Yankees created it in 2010. This year’s game drew nearly 38,000 spectators and it now appears that the Pinstripe Bowl is an NYC holiday week fixture.
Tennis fans who want to see some of their heroes from yesteryear play again should come to Barclays Center this Saturday for the PowerShares QQQ Cup. Competing for the trophy will be Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Douglaston’s own, the legendary John McEnroe.
Good news for all of you urban cowboys. The Professional Bull Riders make their annual weekend visit to Madison Square Garden for the Monster Buck-Off beginning Friday night. Bull riding has grown in popularity as it is one of the highest rated programs on the CBS Sports Network which has helped earn it occasional exposure on the main CBS broadcast network. North Carolina’s JB Mauney has been the most successful rider the last few years but he is getting more competition from all over the world. Among his rivals this weekend will be Brazil’s Fabiano Vieira and Aussie Troy Wilkinson.
It’s hard to tell who had a worse New Year’s weekend: Mariah Carey or Ronda Rousey. Rousey, once the very attractive and invincible face of mixed martial arts, badly lost her UFC comeback match in 48 seconds to Amanda Nunes. Thirteen months earlier she suffered her first loss ever as she was knocked out by Holly Holm. Rousey turns 30 next month and the odds are that she has fought her last fight in the octagon cage.
Mariah Carey took a lot of criticism for her awful vocal performance in Times Square on ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” just before the ball came down. In fairness to Carey, she claims that her earpiece had not been working and that the producers did nothing to fix the problem. In fact, they reassured her that everything would be fine.
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated one of the best teams in the NFL on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys, by a score of 27-13. That was not really the story however. During the game, a representative from the Eagles’ public relations department had a security guard eject Jeff McLane, who covers the team for Philadelphia Inquirer, from the Lincoln Field press box. According to reports, an Eagles PR staff member did not like the fact that McLane and his colleagues were loudly discussing a penalty call and proceeded to berate McLane. He let the PR person know that he wasn’t happy with how he was being addressed and things quickly escalated.
What the Eagles PR staff did to McLane was galling and unprofessional. What was surprising is that they went after a reporter from a major outlet this way. I have been writing on sports for a long time and fortunately most of the public relations folks that I have worked with have been first class pros. On the other hand I can vividly recall PR bullies who wanted to intimidate me because I wrote for a weekly newspaper and they thought that they could get away with it. It still happens on very rare occasions. The sad reality is that there are some very insecure people in this world who only feel good about themselves when they try to make others feel insignificant.
Three cheers to the editors of Esquire Magazine for bringing back its humorous “Dubious Achievements of the Past Year” section to their January 2017 issue. This used to be a staple every January until it disappeared a few years ago for some unknown reason. As expected, Donald Trump and James Comey got a lot of play in this year’s article.
In the past, “Dubious Achievements” used to take up at least ten pages in Esquire and this year it was just a paltry two. Hopefully Esquire will return it to its old size and glory next year. I have a feeling that they will have ample material to fill it.