December 27, 2005
Memphis RB
DeAngelo Williams:

Sets NCAA record with 34th career 100+ yard rushing game (233 yds). Finished his career 4th all-time (6,021 yds) and 1st in all-purpose yards (7,568).
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
SAD.  DAY.

As if simply winning the Super Bowl for themselves wasn't enough incentive, I think that the tragic death of James Dungy will provide even more incentive for the Colts -- to win for their grieving coach.

That's what I'm picking up from the entire organization -- players and staff -- as the team travels today from Indianapolis to Tampa for James Dungy's funeral. It's to support their coach during something so horrible, no one is even sure when he'll return.

The most saddening tragedies can and often do bring a team closer together. Winning a Super Bowl is absolutely the last thing on Colts players' minds today as they gather today to bury their coach's son.

However, the added motivation may result in exactly that: A Super Bowl run that transcends football and plugs directly into their humanity.

For the players, winning playoff games becomes their only proxy for grief -- at a deeper level, their only way they can control an otherwise uncontrollable situation for their coach.

Believe me: It's easy -- probably too easy -- to throw around "win-one-for-coach" projections like that (and no matter how the Colts finish the playoffs, pundits will do just that). It's not meant to be glib.

But for some of you, like me, it might be the only way to begin to process such an otherwise saddening story on the day every single Colts player will join his coach to mourn the loss of his son.

ABC's "MNF" Finale
"Turn out the lights, the party's over." The final MNF game on ABC was secondary to the memories. How many of Monday Night Football's 555 games over 36 years can you remember watching?

(Your answer is probably "too many to count.")

The flashbacks were a reminder that MNF became a national fan event for the collectively experienced moments -- like, in last night's game, when 42-year-old Vinny Testaverde threw a TD pass in his record 19th consecutive season.

(OK, so that's not T.O. signing a TD ball or Bo Jackson running into the tunnel after a breakaway or Fridge Perry diving in from the goal line, but in an otherwise slow season, we'll take what we can get in the finale.)

Next season, when MNF moves to ESPN, the secret to continued success is more must-see moments and meaningful matchups worthy of fans tuning in.

Pats: No Bruschi?
Mike Vrabel caught 2 TDs and recorded a sack, but his most critical play might have been a negative one: When he accidentally stepped on Tedy Bruschi's leg on punt coverage late in the first quarter, after which Bruschi was carted off the field and didn't return.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Mike Vrabel: Who had the Pats LB (2 TDs) as a fantasy TE?
Mavs: Tie Spurs as NBA West's best after routing IND by 22
Boris Diaw: Career-high 31 (11 reb, 5 ast); PHX beats MIN
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Bill Parcells' retirement: He's unwilling to confirm it
Mark Brunell: Redskins QB day-to-day after MRI on knee
Jeff Reardon: Ex-closer arrested, charged with robbery
 
Make no mistake: Without Bruschi in the lineup, these Pats will more closely resemble the 3-3 team that stumbled out of the gate than the team that has been 7-2 since Bruschi's return in Week 8.

There's no report on Bruschi's status, but if he's hurt seriously enough to miss even a single playoff game, it could single-handedly derail their championship defense.

(On the other hand, it sets up yet another opportunity for a "dramatic return" that seems to lift the Pats and their fans to a new level. Definitely the must-track injury development over the next two weeks...)

Millwood Joins Rangers
Can a wannabe contender overpay for a No. 1 starter? The Rangers will give 2005 AL ERA leader Kevin Millwood a hefty $60 mil over 5 years to replace Kenny Rogers and anchor a revamped rotation that features Vicente Padilla (Phillies) and Adam Eaton (Padres).

Rangers owner Tom Hicks has been suckered by Millwood's agent Scott Boras before (see Chan Ho Park's 5Y/$65M deal and A-Rod's $250M), but Millwood's 5th year is reportedly conditional upon meeting certain durability milestones. Still, the Rangers paid a steep premium to land an ace.

More Stove: Glaus to Toronto. Undoubtedly sensing that the Red Sox are faltering (they were a distant runner-up in the Millwood derby), the Blue Jays continue to make aggressive moves this winter, adding slugging 3B Troy Glaus (another player Boston had been eyeing at one time).

CBB: Game of Non-Conf?
Gonzaga (8) at Memphis (4) might be the best nonconference game of the year (judging Duke-Texas in harsh hindsight, of course).

Both teams have Final Four aspirations, and both teams have earned their top-10 rankings by welcoming grueling early-season schedules:

Gonzaga knocked off Oklahoma State and Virginia; beat Maryland and Michigan State in Hawaii; and nearly beat UConn in the Maui final.

Memphis has won at 'Bama, at Cincy, at Providence and at Ole Miss; beat UCLA in the Preseason NIT semis; and nearly KO'd Duke in the finals.

Memphis star Rodney Carney is coming off a season-high 37-point game last week, and everyone knows Gonzaga's Adam Morrison (27.5 ppg) can score. This will be a fun one (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Reggie Bush Watch
If the 49ers beat the Texans, it's simple: Houston gets the first pick of the NFL draft. (Presumably, Reggie Bush -- or trading him for a pile of picks and players.)

If the 49ers win and the other 3-12 teams (Jets, Packers, Saints) all lose, too, there will be a 5-way tie for last. Parity rules!

Apparently, they break that tie using strength of schedule. But, wait! Shouldn't they technically give it to the team that went 3-13 vs. the worst schedule?

Wouldn't that more accurately (and fairly) indicate which team was the worst, which is the whole point of assigning the No. 1 pick to begin with?

Bowlin': 2-Fer!
Champs Sports (at Orlando)
Clemson vs. Colorado
Where's Gary Barnett? Oh, right. Ha. (5 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Insight (at Phoenix)
Arizona State vs. Rutgers
If there's one bowl team that everyone can get behind, it's Rutgers, which hasn't sniffed a bowl since '78. Bruuuuuuce! (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Larry Bird:
Who knew the French Lick Hick could feel such complex, "O.C."-style emotions? The Pacers honcho says he feels "betrayed" by Ron Artest's trade demands.
 
 
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Peaked as a freshman?
 
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DeAngelo Williams
Future Top 5 NFL pick?
 
Charles White
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NBA Streaking: Cavs won their 6th straight, topping the Bulls. Ironically, tonight they play another team with a 6-game W streak, the Nets.

Jim Mora says, "I have great control of my emotions," but it's hard to completely buy that after his postgame tantrum on Saturday.

Speaking of Artest, the hot trade rumor continues to be the Nuggets, with the Denver Post reporting that it would be a multi-team deal.

I'd pay to see: I think most fans would agree it's worth at least a little something to see Shaq practice in the paint vs. sumo wrestlers.

More MLB Stove: Jason Johnson is no Kevin Millwood, but the Indians have signed Johnson (8-13, 4.55 ERA) to a 1-year deal to help replace him.

Coming Wednesday: Part 1 of the Quickie's annual Year in Review.

Miss Monday's Quickie because of the holiday? See Q It Up to catch up on what you missed!



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