Mariota wins Heisman, hopes to avoid curse


By Ray Hamill

Congratulations to Marcus Mariota who joined a very illustrious club of recipients when he was named the winner of the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.

The award capped a big week for the Oregon quarterback. On Sunday, his team was included in the first ever four-team national championship playoffs, and on Thursday he stole the show at the national college football awards ceremony, being named Most Outstanding Player and Player of the Year, as well as taking home the top quarterback award. Continue reading

Just what are the best rivalries in sports?


By Ray Hamill

One of the oldest and most enduring rivalries in all of sports was back on center stage Saturday when Army played Navy for the 115th time.

And that got me wondering, just what is the greatest rivalry in sports?

It’s a question I’ve raised before with a variety of guests on my weekly radio show and one that always results in a passionate discussion, and about the only certainty from it all is there never is a consensus top pick.

But what makes a great rivalry? Continue reading

Steelers and Ravens primed to make a move


By Ray Hamill

Despite the crowded nature of the AFC playoff picture this season, both Pittsburgh and Baltimore could put some distance between themselves and their chief rivals this weekend.

The Ravens get to host a weak Jacksonville side, and with a 14-point spread they’re the heaviest favorites of the weekend, while Pittsburgh is favored by two to win at Atlanta after what has been another disappointing campaign for the Falcons.

And that could spell disaster for their closest seven playoff rivals, five of whom are underdogs this weekend, according to Vegas. Continue reading

AFC playoffs essentially already under way


By Ray Hamill

Pete Rozelle must be smiling down from the great big hall of fame in the sky.

Almost 20 years after his death, the former NFL commissioner’s vision of a modern-day NFL is alive and well, and the man who did more than anyone to make the NFL what it is today would undoubtedly love the parity and competitive nature of the league.

Heading into the final quarter of the season, 21 of 32 teams are in contention for a playoff spot, and this weekend alone, nine of the 15 games feature a pair of teams battling for postseason inclusion. Continue reading

In sports, Cleveland is the Wile E. Coyote of cities


By Ray Hamill

When it comes to North American sports, there are plenty of long suffering fans out there faithfully following their team of choice and never giving up on dreams of success. But when it comes to cities that have suffered the most, nowhere compares to Cleveland.

In fact, it’s not even close.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s last taste of success in any major sport, an NFL championship by the Browns in 1964, and I sure hope all the Clevelanders (yes, that’s what they call themselves) held a great big parade that day and really soaked it all up, because it’s been a long barren spell since. Continue reading

Here’s hoping for better games on Sunday


By Ray Hamill

The turkey wasn’t the only thing to put me asleep on Thanksgiving. The football played its part.

So here’s hoping Sunday’s contests are a little more exciting, especially the two standout fixtures of the day, Denver at Kansas City and New England at Green Bay.

Continue reading

Raiders try to avoid making history

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders

By Ray Hamill

Much in line with how the NFL seems to pick its Thursday night affairs these days, the winless Oakland Raiders will host the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs tonight.

Talk about a contrast in fortunes.

The Chiefs are flying high with five straight wins (only the Patriots and Cardinals are hotter with six straight), while the Raiders are the league’s only winless team at 0-10 and haven’t tasted victory in more than 12 months now, riding a 16-game losing streak. Continue reading

How about J.J. Watt for MVP?


By Ray Hamill

History might suggest he has little chance of winning the award, but how about J.J. Watt for MVP?

After all, who is having a bigger impact for his team this fall? 

Certainly names like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and DeMarco Murray (among others) will all deservedly garner consideration, but I’m not sure any of them mean as much to – or work as hard for – their team as Watt, who causes matchup nightmares for opposing coordinators on any given Sunday.

Sometimes even on offense. Continue reading