In this little corner Roger Pretzel will review his favorite play of the week along with a thoughtful review of what beverage he was imbibing at the time.
Week 15: DRC Blocks Field Goal, Amukamara Retrieves Ball for Great Position
It was a squeaker between the Panthers and the G-Men Sunday, despite New York’s dismal showing in the first half. Rodgers-Cromartie’s big block went a long way in adding fuel to a comeback fire that was ultimately put out calmly by Cam Newton and Graham Gano, but in terms of a game’s turning point, it doesn’t get much more “play of the week” worthy than this.
It’s not wildly unusual to see a field goal blocked in the NFL, but it is rare to see one go so far backwards. Who better to send the ball flying in the opposite direction than Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? Gunning around the edge from the outside, he makes a perfect leap for the ball that involves leaving Gano totally untouched. It’s pretty amazing to see how he jumps horizontally across the field instead of vertically toward the kicker. Roger Pretzel Sr. hates it when commentators use the term “athleticism” when referring to big playmakers but it’s hard not to think of that hoary catchall term in this context. Perhaps “freakish” (the new “athleticism”) is what I’m looking for…
Bonus: All Kinds of Shenanigans Between Odell Beckham and Josh Norman
I love a rough and chippy hockey game. When tensions run high and the players start scrapping, you begin to see a skill set and sport-dynamic that feels so genuinely unique to hockey. However, when it comes to my NFL football, I have no use for the pissing matches and sissy swings that come when the pot bubbles over. It’s simply not needed in a game that is inherently violent enough. As a football player, you’re gonna make a much bigger statement by catching a big pass, making a big (legal) hit, or denying a receiver with outstanding coverage.
My sympathies lie with Josh Norman considering it seems like he takes the brunt of the damage as Odell throws tantrum after tantrum. I’m of the mind that the rules make pass defending the most difficult job in the game, as you’re not even allowed to touch these dainty WR’s. I’ve knocked Becham Jr. in this column before for being a bratty diva, and once again he’s back behind the fighting side of my pen. If he really is the NFL’s new darling receiver he better muster up some maturity quickly.
Week 15: Athlete Vanity Wines
It’s one thing to shill a product for endorsement money, but you know you’ve gone beyond mere Peyton Manning status when you buy your own winery and put out a vanity label for mass consumption. Like many other celebrities in that hallowed club that contains Drew Barrymore and Dave Matthews, athletes like to unwind with a glass as well.
But it always seems like once those egghead vintners take over the production process, the liquid version of that athlete’s soul is lost in the process. Below are the tasting notes of a few famous athletes’ wines, and what variety should actually represent them.
Jeff Gordon Cellars – Carneros Chardonnay 2012
“This luxurious chardonnay has a deep yellow, almost straw color with hints of light gold. Initial essences of Meyer lemon, vanilla bean and poached pear show through, followed by a wisp of crème brûlée. The wine has a nice, smooth mouth feel with plenty of balancing acids that carry along flavors of green apple, melon and cream. The long, vibrant finish dazzles the palate”
This sounds like one soft-ass fruity chardonnay to me. When I hear vanilla bean, poached pear, and smooth mouth feel I do not think of Nascar.
What Jeff Gordon’s Wine Should Actually Be: Chablis
I was tempted to go with a dry Riesling for Mr. Gordon because of the petrol flavors they often contain (get it?), but I decided that #24 may stay chardonnay… as long as it comes from Chablis. The region’s flinty soil adds a nervy, raciness to the fruit, and a dynamic acidity that seems quite appropriate for the tight turns, and calculated daring of the speedway.
No 99 Estates – 2008 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
“2008 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon showcases the warmth and ripe black fruit flavors of this vintage. It is rich with concentrated black berry fruit, and harmonious blending has resulted in excellent balance and complexity. The use of French and American Oak barrels adds structure to this very drinkable wine.”
You might say this wine is a little like Wayne himself in the sense that it’s BORING. But I jest. Let’s not forget that Gretzky is the “Great One,” and as such surely deserving of something more majestic than a lame new-world quaffer.
What Wayne Gretzky’s Wine Should Actually Be: Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru (Pinot Noir)
Now we’re talking! This appellation matches Gretzky note for note in elegance and sophistication. The foundation of Gretzky’s legendary greatness was turning hockey into a thinking man’s game, and this here is some truly profound fermented grape juice. I like to picture the Great One counting the money he’s made from No. 99 Estates while sipping a big ‘ole glass of this instead. He’s in front of a fireplace playing chess with Steve Yzerman. Soft hands: soft tannins.
Greg Norman Estates 2012 Shiraz – Limestone Coast
“The 2012 Greg Norman Estates Shiraz is an attractive dark crimson red color in the glass. On the nose, rich chocolate and coconut mocha notes from the oak maturation underpin distinctive black cherry, mulberry and blackberry jam aromas. The medium bodied wine is soft and elegantly structured showing a spectrum of rich dark fruits including cherry, mulberry, blackberry, and boysenberry flavors on the palate. These flavors meld with fine cedar and chocolaty oak adding persistence on the long finish.”
And sometimes you just nail it.
What Greg Norman’s Wine Should Actually Be: Greg Norman Estates 2012 Shiraz – Limestone Coast
Yup, Greg Norman actually puts his money where his mouth is and plays golf just like he makes wine. Growing up “The Shark” was the first celebrity I was aware of having his own line of wine, not to mention his own line of clothing. And coming up in the ‘burbs in the late 80’s and 90’s you were more likely to see that goofy rainbow-patterned shark outline on some old dude’s polo than you were to see any teenager with a pair of J’s.
Shiraz fits Norman like a driving-glove with its new-world jazziness and robust fruit flavors. I feel like every time Norman suits up in the clubhouse before 18 holes he tips that weird hat and winks at himself in the mirror. That’s basically what a good glass of Shiraz is.
Mike Kitka Wines – Coach’s Blend 2011 – The Champion
“The Mike Ditka 2011 “The Champion” Coach’s Blend has remarkable flavor intensity. It’s well-balanced, with flavors of blackberry and cassis, with a hint of cayenne pepper; lingering tannins, leading to a persistent finish.”
In reality, Mike Ditka is to wine what the current Chicago Bears are to winning, but I get it: the dude owns a line of steak houses and you gotta crush something besides chilly domestics when you’ve got the porterhouse in front of you. Still, the big guy should be ashamed to front a Napa blend of mostly merlot and cabernet sauvignon under his name. This time around it’s the coach that needs to show more hustle.
What Mike Ditka’s Wine Should Actually Be: Zinfandel
Stop beating around the bush, Mike. You wanna make this steak dinner the real deal? Then you gotta start serving a wine that actually reflects your character. Say what you want about Mike Ditka, but the dude has never been mostly merlot, noble and august as that grape may be. Ditka’s the grinder. Ditka’s the snarling heart in the depth of a windy Chicago blizzard. Ditka is zinfandel, and he’s California zinfandel at that. Huge, burly, and mega-fruity, this is the real wine of second-class steak joints with delusions of grandeur.
Try it out, coach. Then hit me up.