SportsBytes #2.1

Rant off the bat...

Last week, everyone in sports was proclaiming Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick the next big thing -- the new MJ, Mays and Montana all rolled into one -- and he was going to revolutionize football.

This week, after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Falcons 34-10, those same people are saying there is now a "blueprint" for stopping Vick, and he's never going to be the great superstar of the NFL until he can "solve" the Bucs.

So which one is right? (I think you all know where I'm going with this).

Neither side is right. First off, Vick is not going to revolutionize the NFL, because there just aren't enough people like Vick. Maybe if Randy Moss could throw the ball 70 yards -- and maybe he can, but he just doesn't want to -- he could be another Vick. Or if Peyton Manning was somehow fused with Edgerrin James and could suddenly run, he could match Vick. But right now, there isn't another Vick (saving his younger brother Marcus, who I think is destined to be a Brent Gretzky to Michael's Wayne), and there won't be for some time.

As for Tampa's "blueprint"... well, let's just say that it's not quite Jay-Z material. Sure, the Bucs can slow down Vick, but most other teams simply don't have the talent to copy Tampa's scheme. The Ravens have the linebackers and the safties, but not the ends. The Redskins are in the same boat. The Packers have the talent in the front four, but their LBs are inferior (by Tampa standards).

So what are we left with? Only one thing is certain: the Bucs-Falcons rivalry will be very good for a very long time.


• This has been said many times before, but I have to say it now: ESPN's pre-game NFL coverage is too damn long. It starts with "Edge NFL Match-up" (individually, a great show) at 8:30 a.m. Then there's a half-hour "SportsCenter," followed by "Outside the Lines." That's really the last hour that's fairly football-free for the day. "The Sports Reporters" always has something to say about the NFL, as does the 10:30 "SportsCenter." After that, it's a 2-hour "NFL Countdown." Do we really need two hours?! That breaks down to almost eight minutes per game. Compare that to the fact that your average "SportsCenter" feature is closer to three minutes, and a highlight package checks in at around 30-45 seconds. It's just too much football leading into a day of actual games from 1-7:30. Of course, I could always watch "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

• I know that in the media, you're not supposed to speak ill of your competition, but I'm not really "in the media" per se, and this site isn't the site that competes with this guy (and "competes" is probably the right term, since I don't think he even knows about, I'm going to go ahead and say it -- I really can't stand Nick Bakay's betting thing on the Monday night "SportsCenter." He makes the same jokes every week, and they're jokes that don't take much thought to come up with. I can look at the scores on Monday, compare them to the betting lines, and make some weak one-liners about the closest games. Most football fans can. For some reason, Nick Bakay gets to do it on "SportsCenter." D'oh.

Tiger Tracks

• It looks like it's going to be another dismal season for my alma mater's women's basketball team. Towson is off to an 0-4 start after blowing a big lead in the final minutes against Duquesne. The Tigers are down to 10 active players, and only eight are truly healthy.

That said, I have faith in Joe Mathews. My vote of confidence doesn't really count for much, but Towson has to give Mathews time -- much more than just one or two seasons. Three players left the team from last year, so he's basically putting out a skeleton team right now, one that can barely go 5-on-5 in practice.

When it comes down to it, you're not going to be able to rate this team based on the likely final scores in games against Old Dominion, or even Delaware. The team may not even win a game. But what the players, and the program, go through this year will make them that much stronger for when things turn around.

eBay Item of the Week

• A Dave Meggett autographed New York Giants mini-helmet. Minimum bid: $25.00. Buy-it-now price: $30.00. Ends: Dec. 20, 8:20 p.m., PST.

Random Prediction

• The Rams will keep Kurt Warner this offseason, and trade Marc Bulger to the Redskins for Washington's first round draft pick this year, and a future conditional pick. I have no inside information here, I'm just guessing. That's why it's called "random prediction" and not "prediction based on research and knowledge."