With a smidgen of good will and a dollop of sarcasm, it’s once again time to bestow upon our deserving friends in the sports world some holiday gifts:
Arthur Blank, Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith: 1,000 thanks from legions of Falcons fans who’ve long dreamed of a season like this one. A season like this following a season like last is enough to restore even the most cynical fan’s faith in the magic of the season.
Matt Ryan: A long, healthy career. And thanks for helping everyone forget what’s-his-name.
Paul Johnson: Unlimited use of the phrase “I told you so.” You’ve convinced us all that your offense will work at Tech.
And in the ACC. You convinced the folks in Athens, too. You also convinced Dan Radakovich to the tune of a 53 percent pay increase. And, as an extra bonus gift, how about a bowl game east of the Mississippi?
Tom Tuberville and Philip Fulmer: Nice, long, happy, paid retirements. It’ll sure beat getting bashed by ungrateful and unknowledgeable “boosters.”
Auburn: A new football coach. Oops, let’s clarify that: Another new football coach.
Gene Chizik: A short-term lease.
Charles Barkley: Patience. Hey, these things take time. Barriers don’t all fall at once. First, we elect a black man
President of the United States. Then we scale the larger mountain: getting Auburn to seriously consider hiring a black head football coach. Or, at least convincing you that they did.
Iowa State: Tables turned. How about a new head football coach stolen from the school that stole your head football coach? Closure all around.
Plaxico Burress: A handgun. Wait. You’ll shoot your leg out.
Detroit Lions: A Washington bailout. Geez, isn’t there a single corporation in that entire city with a business model that hasn’t failed? Ah, but this is the time of year to believe in miracles and be positive. Maybe the Lions will be next year’s Dolphins. And maybe General Motors will be next year’s Toyota.
Mark Richt: Another year with Knowshon and Matthew. And a drastic increase in the collective on-field smarts of the entire supporting cast.
Willie Martinez: Fire-resistant slacks. And a couple of ends who can pressure a quarterback. Or, the vision to create pressure without the luxury of some pressurizing ends.
Joe Paterno: A lifetime contract. Of course, giving an 82-year-old a three year deal might be the next best thing. As Joe Pa. told Mark Viera of the New York Times last week, “I feel good. There’s no reason for me not to think that I can go for a while. Now, how long is a while? I don’t know.” We do know this: Joe Pa. just had hip replacement surgery, and he’s already tossed his cane. You go, Joe.
Atlanta Hawks: Relevance. At long last. Don’t anyone in the front office listen if Pete Babcock comes along and advises that the team has reached a “plateau.”
Atlanta Braves: Respect. How do you go from perennial division champ to a place where the only free agent you can attract is Greg Norton? Sadly, it looks like the Braves are en route to becoming the former Hawks.
Bobby Cox: A couple of pitchers that “throw good.” Preferably under the age of 40, though I’m sure he’d welcome back John Smoltz and Tom Glavine with open arms.
Dennis Felton: Something to rekindle the memory of last spring’s SEC tournament title. Like, maybe an overtime win over Wofford.
Paul Hewitt: Something to rekindle the memory of that 2004 trip to the NCAA championship game. Like, maybe a big win over Pepperdine.
Richmond: A nice celebration. Richly deserved after capturing the Football Championship Subdivision by virtue of winning the postseason playoff. Gee, what a novel idea-an undisputed champion.
Florida and Oklahoma: An undisputed championship.
Texas: A shot at a championship.
Michael Adams: Someone to listen to his case for a Football Bowl Subdivision playoff. Maybe he can make some headway now that he’ll have an ally in the White House. Of course, the new President might initially have some more pressing items on his agenda.
Scott Boras: A towel, to wipe the egg off his face after Red Sox owner John Henry called his bluff and discovered that he really didn’t have another offer for the services of Mark Teixeira. The inimitable Mr. Boras was trying to get the Sox to bid against themselves. At least Rafael Furcal’s agent really did have an offer to trot back to the Dodgers.
John Schuerholz: Kudos for having the guts to call Paul Kinzer, Furcal’s agent, despicable. Everyone knows that agents have minimal scruples, but no one actually says so. Imagine if there were still a place for honesty and integrity in baseball.
And to all of you loyal readers, peace, love and happiness now and throughout the new year.