I really hope the sweet chili phenomenon is making its way to America. Nicole and I were introduced to sweet thai chili flavors when were in South Africa earlier this year and we were huge fans. The South Africans put sweet chili flavor on all sorts of things - popcorn, doritos, chicken, hamburgers, etc. It's a good mix of sweetness with a bit of spice. I love these brown rice chips and I also like the sweet thai chili doritos you can get from Walmart. It's time for us westerners to join the craze!
When I was driving home today, I made the mistake of turning the radio over to ESPN. I couldn't handle more than five minutes of the mindless banter from Freddie Coleman and Jonathan Coachman, but they did mention an interesting question of whether or not Tony Romo is one of the ten best quarterbacks in the NFL. They believed he was a top ten QB, which they also say about 30 other quarterbacks from around the league. Now, basing my decision on the best quarterbacks I would take to win a game, I've come up with my own Top 10 list:
1. Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers is playing at a different level from the rest of the league right now. He is picking secondaries apart with relative ease and has the athletic ability to escape pressure from blitzes. With his incredible play, Rodgers has turned Brett Favre into a distant memory for Green Bay fans and could become even more legendary if he could deliver a second straight Super Bowl title.
2. Tom Brady - He has sustained a level of excellence in a way that makes people forget about how great he is. Until the 4th quarter of last week's game against Washington, Brady hadn't thrown an interception in four consecutive games. He will remain an unpopular figure because he is the face of a hated franchise, but it's difficult to argue with his success. Three Super Bowl rings on his resume and he might not be finished.
3. Drew Brees - I think Drew Brees has the type of impact on the Saints that Peyton Manning has on the Colts. Now, the Saints wouldn't be 0-12 right now if Brees wasn't playing, but I doubt they would be in playoff contention. His accuracy makes him one of the best in the game, and his leadership makes him an elite player in the league.
4. Ben Roethlisberger - I hate that I'm listing Big Ben as one of the top five quarterbacks in the game - mainly because I dislike him. That being said, he is the embodiment of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization - tough, resilient, and successful. There isn't much that's pretty about Roethlisberger's game, except his Super Bowl rings and the home-field advantage Pittsburgh seems to get every year because of his ability to lead them to victories.
5. Eli Manning - I'm probably making this decision from a "What have you done for me lately?" perspective. I've always considered Manning to be a talented player, but a very inconsistent one. He would make great plays and 4th quarter comebacks, but also put his team in difficult positions with costly turnovers. However, this year he has played at an MVP level for the Giants. And he might be in the discussion for the award if Aaron Rodgers were playing in the Canadian Football League.
6. Philip Rivers - This pick has nothing to do with this season. If it did, I'm not sure Rivers would be one of the top ten quarterbacks in the AFC. Still, I'm considering this season a fluke and would still take Rivers to win a big game.
7. Matt Schaub - If he can stay healthy, he has one of the best arms in the game. Schaub's problem has never been ability - it's been durability.
8. Matt Ryan - Ironically, I think Ryan is more effective when he isn't a huge part of the Falcons offense. He has proven capable of performing in the clutch and helped change the culture of the organization.
9. Tony Romo - I guess I agree with the guys from ESPN radio. Similar to Matt Ryan, Romo is at his best when the Cowboys have a successful running game. When he makes good decisions, he is one of the most effective QB's in the game.
10. Jay Cutler - I like Jay Cutler about as much as I like Ben Roethlisberger, but he deserves credit for carrying the Chicago Bears offense. Losing Matt Forte hasn't helped, but the Bears have been inept without Cutler at the helm.
Best - The Army vs. Navy Game
I'm coming at this from a biased perspective, but there is something special and unique about an Army-Navy football game. Most nationally televised games feature players and coaches who are doing everything they can to promote themselves for a better job or a chance at the NFL - the next step has already been decided for the players from both of these service academies. Even if you aren't a fan of college football or sports in general, you can watch this game and feel an incredible sense of pride and patriotism in seeing some of the best leaders our nation has to offer, on the field and in the stands.
Now, as a Navy fan, yesterday's game was a great way to end the season. For a team that has had so many struggles and heartbreaking losses, it was awesome to see the Midshipmen be able to finish a close game. A defense that has been torched all season came up with big turnovers and a huge stop in the 4th quarter, a senior kicker who has a had a nightmare season hit a clutch field goal, and a quarterback who's battled injuries all year made some key runs to help his senior class go out on top. In a way, it's just a football game - and in a way, it means everything. Every day of the year, these two schools think about beating each other. At Navy, they say "BEAT ARMY!" after nearly everything they do. "BEAT ARMY" as they turn the corner to go down the hall. "BEAT ARMY!" as a plebe finishes a set of push ups. And for the 10th year in a row, "BEAT ARMY!" on the football field. Mission accomplished. Go Navy!
Worst - The Cincinnati vs. Xavier Brawl
If the Army-Navy game is the standard for everything great about college athletics, the end of the Cincinnati-Xavier men's basketball game is the standard for everything wrong with college athletics. In a rivalry game that had turned into a blowout (Xavier won 76-53), the game finished with an on-court brawl. It began with trash talking from both teams and quickly escalated into a fight with Cincinnati's Yancy Gates punching a Xavier player in the head and then other Bearcats kicking the Xavier player while he was on the ground. It didn't get any better after the game - Xavier's players were proud of how they stuck up for themselves and didn't back down from a fight while Mick Cronin, Cincinnati's Head Coach, promised heavy consequences for his players.
A strong message would have been dismissing Yancy Gates, the team's best post player, off the team. Instead, the university announced it will suspend Gates for six games. How convenient that five of those games will be against insignificant non-conference opponents. Gates will miss also miss the Big East conference opener against Pittsburgh. No Xavier player will be suspended for more than one game. In short, both teams displayed embarrassing and unacceptable behavior - and neither institution or coach has enough backbone to assess the discipline and consequence the players deserve. It doesn't get much worse than that.
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