Thursday, January 29, 2015

Who do you think will win this year's Super Bowl?

Tarvaris Jackson as a Viking.
Arguably the biggest sporting event of the year (except for the Iron Bowl, of course), is set for this coming Sunday when the New England Patriots face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Az.

This year’s Super Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium, and coverage of the game is set to start at 5:30 p.m. on NBC. As you might have imagined about the two top teams in the NFL this year, both teams feature a number of players with Alabama connections.

The Super Bowl player with the strongest connection to the state is Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who is not only from Alabama, but also played his college ball within the state. Jackson, age 31, is a native of Montgomery and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 2001. Many of you will remember that, Jackson, who is 6-foot-2 and tips the scales at 225 pounds, played quarterback at Alabama State and was later drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. Since then, he’s played in the NFL for nine years, and if you get to looking for him on Sunday, he wears jersey No. 7.

Other Seattle players with Alabama ties include offensive guard James Carpenter, wide receiver Kevin Norwood and defensive tackle Jesse Williams. Carpenter, who wears jersey No. 77, played his college ball at Alabama and has played in the NFL for four seasons. Carpenter, 25, grew up in Augusta, Ga. and is listed as 6-5, 321 pounds.

Norwood, who wears jersey No. 81, also played college football at Alabama and this is his rookie season in the NFL. Norwood, 25, grew up in D’Iberville, Miss. and is listed as 6-2, 199 pounds.

Williams, who wears jersey No. 90, also played college football at Alabama and this is his second season in the NFL. Williams, 24, is a native of Brisbane, Australia and is listed as 6-3, 325 pounds.

The New England Patriots have two players with ties to Alabama, rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler and third-year linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Butler, who wears jersey No. 21, played college football at the University of West Alabama in Livingston. Butler, 24, is a native of Vicksburg, Miss. and is listed as 5-11, 190 pounds.

Hightower, who wears jersey No. 54, played college ball at the University of Alabama, where he starred on some of Nick Saban’s best teams. Hightower, 24, grew up in Lewisburg, Tenn. and is listed as 6-3, 270 pounds.

As of Monday morning, New England was a one-point favorite over the Seahawks, and I honestly think this game is a toss up. On paper, New England has the better offense, but Seattle seems to have the stronger defense. It’s been said that defense wins championships, but instead of picking Seattle to win, I’m going to go with my gut and predict that New England will win. This isn’t Bill Belichick or Tom Brady’s first rodeo, and I look for the Patriots to edge out Seattle, 31-25.

Today in History for Jan. 29, 2015

Thomas Paine
Jan. 29, 1737 – American Revolutionary figure Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, Norfolk, Great Britain. He would publish his most influential work, a pamphlet called “Common Sense,” in 1776.

Jan. 29, 1777 - Facing a surprise British counter-assault in the bitter cold and with a snowstorm approaching, American commander Major General William Heath and his army of 6,000 abandoned their siege on Fort Independence, in Bronx County, New York.

Jan. 29, 1777 - General George Washington put Major General Israel Putnam in command of all Patriot troops in New York. Putnam was charged with the defense of the city and its water routes.

Jan. 29, 1820 - Britain's King George III died insane at Windsor Castle.

Jan. 29, 1843 – The 25th President of the United States, William McKinley, was born in Niles, Ohio.

Jan. 29, 1845 – Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, "The Raven" was published for the first time in the New York Evening Mirror and became a popular sensation. Though it made Poe a household name almost instantly, he was paid only $9 for its publication.

Jan. 29, 1858 – Jasper N. Dennard became postmaster at Burnt Corn.

Jan. 29, 1861 - Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state. It was the 34th state to enter the Union. The struggle between pro- and anti-slave forces in Kansas was a major factor in the eruption of the Civil War.

Jan. 29, 1863 - General Ulysses S. Grant was placed in command of the Army of the West and was given orders to capture Vicksburg, Miss.

Jan. 24, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes occurred near Cobb’s Mill and near the Tennessee River in North Alabama.

Jan. 29, 1864 – Joseph Ganes Sanders, the “Turncoat of Dale County,” resigned from the Confederate army.

Jan. 29, 1900 – The American League was organized in Philadelphia with eight founding teams.

Jan. 29, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. James Scales of Jackson, Ala. “died from disease.”

Jan. 29, 1936 - The first members of Major league baseball's Hall of Fame were named in Cooperstown, NY. The group included Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

Jan. 29, 1948 – A British South American Tudor IV four-engine passenger plane called the “Star Tiger,” flying from the Azores to Bermuda, disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle with a crew of six and 25 passengers.

Jan. 29, 1959 – The Evergreen Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting and election of officers at the Evergreen High School lunchroom. Guest speaker was Dr. George R. Stewart of Birmingham, a former Birmingham-Southern College president, who worked for Alabama Power.

Jan. 29, 1963 - The first members to the NFL's Hall of Fame were named in Canton, Ohio. The list included Sammy Baugh, Johnny Blood, Dutch Clark, Red Grange, Mel Hein, Pete Henry, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers, Jim Thorpe, Bert Bell, Joe Carr, George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Tim Mara and George Preston Marshall.

Jan. 29, 1968 – NFL Hall of Fame cornerback and safety Aeneas Williams was born in New Orleans, La. He would go on to play for the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams.

Jan. 29, 1979 - San Diego teen Brenda Ann Spencer explained why she sprayed bullets on classmates on this day in 1979, saying “I don't like Mondays.”

Jan. 29, 1980 – The Cobb House in Grove Hill, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Jan. 29, 1980 – The Old Fort Dale Site, the Fort Dale Cemetery, the Old Log Barn and Oak Grove Methodist Church, all located in the Greenville, Ala. vicinity, were added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Jan. 29, 1989 - Billy Joel sang the U.S. national anthem at Super Bowl XXIII.

Jan. 29, 1995 - The San Francisco 49ers became the first team in National Football League history to win five Super Bowl titles. The 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 49-26, in Super Bowl XXIX. San Francisco quarterback Steve Young threw six touchdown passes in the game.

Jan. 29, 1998 - A bomb exploded at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., killing an off-duty policeman and severely wounding a nurse. Serial bomber Eric Rudolph was charged with this bombing and three other attacks in Atlanta.

Jan. 29, 2002 – In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush described "regimes that sponsor terror" as an “Axis of evil,” in which he included Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

Jan. 29, 2004 - Major League Baseball owners approved the $430 million sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from News Corp. to Frank McCourt. 

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Thurs., Jan. 29, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.90 inches

Winter to Date Rainfall: 10.85 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 3.90 inches

NOTES: Today is the 29th day of 2015 and the 40th day of Winter. There are 336 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Evergreen Courant's Sports Flashback for Jan. 28, 2015

JAN. 29, 2009

“No. 2 Sparta girls improve to 21-1: Sparta Academy’s varsity girls basketball team continued to waylay opponents during the past week, racking up big wins over a trio of 1A Region 2 opponents.
“The Lady Warriors, ranked No. 2 in the state among AISA girls teams, slammed Sumter Academy, 61-20, Friday night in Evergreen. Last Thursday night in Evergreen, Sparta collected a 73-33 victory over Central Christian Academy of Selma. On Tuesday of last week in Eutaw, the Lady Warriors wiped out Warrior Academy, 57-17.”
Players on Sparta’s girls team that year included Madelyn Black, Emily Booker, Savannah Brown, Rebekah Coleman, Morgan Harden, Shaina Hutcheson, Mallory Kendrick, Erica Palmer, BreAnna Pate, Ashton Raines and Jordan Smith.

“Warriors slam dunk Sumter by 15 points: Sparta Academy’s varsity boys basketball team improved to 7-16 overall and to 6-6 in region play Friday night with a 48-33 win over region rival, Sumter Academy, in Evergreen.
“Mason Black led Sparta with 15 points, five rebounds, two steals and a block. Nicholas Hardin followed with nine points, two rebounds and two assists. Devlin Crosby finished the game with eight points, three rebounds, two steals and two assists.”
Other outstanding Sparta players in that game included Nick Andrews, Dalton Baggett, Joey Bradley, Michael Cook, Matt Johnson, Garrett McClain, Drayton Rodgers.

JAN. 27, 1994

“The Hillcrest High School varsity basketball team is pictured with their first year coach, Keith Nettles. The Jaguars will host the annual Hillcrest Invitational Tournament beginning tonight at Hillcrest High School. The Jags will be in action Friday night against the winner of the Excel-T.R. Miller game. Pictured are Derrick Rudolph, Roger Rudolph, Terry Holt, Lavon Lyman, Charles Thomas, Jason Boykin, Coach Nettles, Isaac McMillian, Marlon Tolliver, Ray Rudolph, Chris Watts, Gary Betts and Sherman Grace.”

“Members of the Sparta Academy varsity girls basketball team are Aundria Griffin, Janet Kendrick, Valerie Griffin, Carla Grimes, Kelly Booker, Nann Castleberry, Nikki Jones, Joy’l Lowman and Rachel Bohannon. Their coach is David Mallory.”

“Members of the Sparta Academy varsity boys basketball team are Casey Grant, Adrian Mitchell, James Johnson, Larry Wright and Nicholas Jones; Coach Keith York, Sandy Salo, Britt Ward, McPherson Cook, Andy Clanton, Aaron Albritton and Brian Gorum.”

“Ward leads Sparta to victory over Colts: The Sparta Academy Warriors defeated the Catherine Academy Colts by the score of 72 to 69 in a cage game played in Evergreen last Friday.
“Senior Britt Ward paved the victory path with 27 points. Sophomore James Johnson collected 16 points and played an excellent defensive contest, according to Sparta Academy Sports Information Director Byron Warren Jr.”

JAN. 25, 1979

“Jackets edge Uriah 56-55: The Lyeffion High Yellow Jackets defeated the Uriah Bulldogs, 56-55. Scorers for the Jackets were Adrian Woods with 25 points and 13 rebounds; Eric Finklea, nine points; James Riley, eight points; Donald Lee, seven points and five rebounds; Ricky Hall, four points; and Ricky Johnson, three points. Their record now stands at 9-1.”

“Blue Devils beat Cyclones: The Conecuh County High School Blue Devils defeated the Southern Normal Cyclones, 65-64, on Jan. 9.
“Scorers for the Blue Devils were William Griffin 26 points, three rebounds; Ronnie Sanders, nine points, 16 rebounds; Henry Sanders, seven points, 15 rebounds; Curtis Scott, six points, six rebounds; Robby Moye, four points, four rebounds; Paige Stokes, 13 points, 11 rebounds.”

“Monroe’s big, tall and undefeated Vols speared Sparta Academy’s Warriors, 62-44, Saturday night to win the championship in the boys division of the Sparta Academy Invitational Tournament held here at the school gymnatorium Friday and Saturday.
“Terry Peacock gunned for 15 points to pace the losing cause of Sparta. John Hall had eight points; Bobby Padgett and Tony Baggett, six each; Terry Shipp, four; Tony Raines, three; and Jeff Johnson, two.
“Peacock and Padgett were named to the all-tournament team, according to Sparta Sports Information Director Byron Warren Jr.”

JAN. 30, 1964

“After So Long EHS 84, C’berry 59: It’s a long trail that has no end, and Conecuh County High’s long trail of victories over Evergreen High finally ended Friday night. Score Aggies 85, Blue Devils 59.
“Evergreen’s last victory over Coach Wayne Pope’s cagers took place back in the dark ages, or so it seems, but Coach John Law Robinson’s men were not to be denied.
“Pope, recuperating from surgery earlier in the week, was unable to attend the game. Principal M.C. Thomasson filled in for him, coming out of coaching retirement to do a fine job of handing the boys.
“The Aggies used a balanced attack and tight defensive play to curb the Blue Devils. Sid Lambert and Kenny Harper sacked up 18 each to lead the charge. Joe Sasser sank 16; Ronnie Jackson, 11; and Scott Cook, 10; to put all starters in double figures. Jimmy Warren added five; Mike Fields, four; and Wayne Tolbert, two.
“George Godwin paced the Blue Devils with 17 points. James Glass added 13; Donald Sawyer, 12; Don James, 10; Bobby Ellis, four; Larry Heaton, two; and Jim Oliver, one.”

“The Evergreen High Aggies edged Frisco City, 63-62, in a nip-and-tuck thriller Monday afternoon at Memorial Gym. Sid Lambert led the balanced attack with 18 points. Joe Sasser warmed up late for 15; Kenny Harper had 14; Ronnie Jackson, 10, before he fouled out; and Scott Cook, six.”

JAN. 27, 1949

“Aggies Trounce Whippets 51-35 In Frisco City: The Evergreen High Aggies went on a scoring binge Tuesday night in Frisco City and recorded their highest total of the season, cracking the Whippets, 51-35. Coach Wendell Hart’s cagers played by far their best offensive ball of the season.
“John Greel Ralls, playing his second game at the pivot post, continued to show improvement. Time after time the speedy Ralls faked off the Whippet defenders and drove into the basket for layups. Ralls sacked 10 points in the first half. Playing a few minutes of the third period he grabbed another basket and returned in the final three minutes for two more buckets. His total for the night was 16.”

“The Evergreen Aggies were handed their fourth loss of the current cage campaign by the UMS Cadets in Mobile last Wednesday night. The Cadets took an early lead that the Aggies could never overcome to win, 33-27.
“Dickey Bozeman and Guerry Moorer shouldered the load for Evergreen. Bozeman hit for 12 points, and Moorer, nine.”

“The Aggies of Evergreen High bounced back into the win column here Friday night, trimming the Georgiana Panthers, 47-38. It was the sixth win of the season for Coach Wendell Hart’s cagers, and they have lost four.

“Gwyn Daniels showed up well in his first appearance with the varsity. He was promoted Thursday from the ‘B’ squad when it was learned that Jack Cunningham was lost for the rest of the season.”

Today in History for Jan. 28, 2015

Nathanael Greene
Jan. 28, 1624 – Sir Thomas Warner founded the first British colony in the Caribbean, on the island of Saint Kitts.

Jan. 28, 1777 - John Burgoyne submitted a plan to the British government to isolate New England from the other colonies.

Jan. 28, 1781 - General Daniel Morgan reported to General Nathanael Greene that his men had observed the British army moving towards the Catawba River.

Jan. 28, 1820 – A Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev discovered the Antarctic continent, approaching the Antarctic coast.

Jan. 28, 1828 - Confederate General Thomas Carmichael Hindman was born in Knoxville, Tenn.

Jan. 28, 1841 - Sir Henry Morton Stanley was born in Denbigh, Wales, UK. He went on to become a journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of central Africa and his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley allegedly asked, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

Jan. 28, 1846 - Montgomery was selected as the capital of Alabama by the state legislature on the 16th ballot. Montgomery won the final vote largely because of promises of Montgomery city leaders to provide $75,000 for a new capitol and because of the emerging prominence of the Black Belt region of the state.

Jan. 28, 1862 - The tenth president of the United States, John Tyler, passed away at the age of 71 in Richmond, Va.

Jan. 28, 1865 – During the Civil War, the Confederate torpedo boat St. Patrick attacked the USS Octorara in Mobile Bay, Ala.

Jan. 28, 1878 – The Yale Daily News became the first daily college newspaper in the United States.

Jan. 28, 1887 – In a snowstorm at Fort Keogh, Montana, the world's largest snowflakes are reported, 15 inches wide and eight inches thick.

Jan. 28, 1904 - The University of Chicago awarded blankets with the letter “C” to all seniors that played football during the 1903 season. This event marked the beginning of the sports letter tradition.

Jan. 28, 1915 – The Monroe Journal reported that the contract for the construction of a railroad bridge across the Alabama River near Pine Hill had been awarded to the American Bridge Co. by the Gulf, Florida and Alabama Railroad.

Jan. 28, 1915 - The Coast Guard was created by an act of the U.S. Congress to fight contraband trade and aid distressed vessels at sea.

Jan. 28, 1920 – H.P. Lovecraft completed “The Terrible Old Man,” which was originally published in Issue No. 4 of The Tryout, 7 in July 1821.

Jan. 28, 1922 - The National Football League franchise in Decatur, Ill. transferred to Chicago. The team took the name Chicago Bears.

Jan. 28, 1938 - German race car driver Bernd Rosemeyer, known as the “Silver Comet,” reached the speed of 268 mph on the Autobahn, just before his death.

Jan. 28, 1949 – Evergreen High School’s varsity boys basketball team improved to 6-4 on the season by beating Georgiana, 47-38, in Evergreen.

Jan. 28, 1953 – The Alabama Historical Association erected three historical markers in Autauga County. Those markers were erected in memory the Pratt Gin Factory, Albert J. Pickett and Alibamo Indians.

Jan. 28, 1957 - The Brooklyn Dodgers announced that circus clown Emmett Kelly had been hired to entertain fans at baseball games.

Jan. 28, 1958 - Roy Campanella of the Brooklyn Dodgers was seriously injured in an auto accident in New York. He would never return to play again.

Jan. 28, 1959 - The Green Bay Packers of the National Football League signed Vince Lombardi to a five-year contract as the team's coach and general manager.

Jan. 28, 1960 – The National Football League announced expansion teams for Dallas to start in the 1960 NFL season and Minneapolis-St. Paul for 1961 NFL season.

Jan. 28, 1986 - The U.S. space shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after takeoff from Cape Canaveral, Fla. All seven of its crewmembers were killed.

Jan. 28, 1989 – The Bank of Andalusia on South Court Square and the Covington County Courthouse and Jail were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Jan. 28, 1990 - Aaron Neville sang the U.S. national anthem at Super Bowl XXIV. Joe Montana got his third MVP award. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Denver Broncos, 55-10.

Jan. 28, 1996 - Diana Ross performed as the featured halftime performer at Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, AZ. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17. It was the fifth Super Bowl for the Cowboys. 

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Wed., Jan. 28, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches.

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.90 inches

Winter to Date Rainfall: 10.85 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 3.90 inches

NOTES: Today is the 28th day of 2015 and the 39th day of Winter. There are 337 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hrs Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 195: Take the kids to the Senior Bowl in Mobile

Saturday's 66th Annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Prior to last Saturday, the only Senior Bowl I’d ever been to in person was the 1995 Senior Bowl. I went with my friend Eric Byrd from Goodway, Ala., and we saw such football greats as Steve McNair, Derrick Brooks, Jay Barker, Dan Reeves and Ted Marchibroda. I’ve come close to going back several times since then, but lately I’ve really wanted to back now that my kids are old enough to enjoy and appreciate the experience.

I officially put “Take my kids to the Senior Bowl in Mobile” on my “bucket list” a couple of years ago after a conversation with Evergreen, Ala. postal carrier Charles Roache. Charles told me that he and his son – standout Conecuh County athlete, Keyshawn Roache – had a longstanding tradition of going to the Senior Bowl together every year. The way Charles talked about it, this tradition sounded pretty cool, and I wanted to be sure that my kids got at least a taste of what the Senior Bowl is all about.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Senior Bowl, it’s a post-season college football all-star game played in Mobile, Ala. that features two teams, the South and the North. Both teams are coached by the coaching staffs of two NFL teams, and the game typically features a number of outstanding NFL draft prospects. It’s a sure bet that if you’re watching the Senior Bowl, you’re also watching more than a few future NFL Hall of Famers.

This year’s Senior Bowl was the 66th Annual Senior Bowl, and it was played Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, where the game has been played every year since 1951, when it moved to Mobile after one year in Jacksonville, Fla. The game kicked off at 3 p.m. and the North ended up winning, 34-14. Total attendance was 36,471, and the game ended at 6:15 p.m.

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah was named the game’s MVP. Utah outside linebacker Nate Orchard was named the North team’s Most Outstanding Player, and Florida State offensive guard Tre’ Jackson was the South team’s Most Outstanding Player. Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt was the head coach for the South team, and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was the head coach for the North. The game was televised on the NFL Network.

My wife and kids seemed to have a good time on Saturday, and this was helped by liberal amounts of soft drinks, nachos and cheese and French fries. (I scored a beer and a $5 program.) Past Senior Bowls became known for bad weather, and the worst part about last Saturday was the cold weather. It was sunny and 57 degrees at kickoff, but those of in the shade and facing the 17-mph north wind had a tough time. Next year, we’ll be sitting on the east side of the stadium or in the north end zone.

In the end, how many of you have ever been to the Senior Bowl? How many have you been to in all? What big stars to you remember seeing before they hit the big time in the NFL? Let us know in the comments section below.