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What a week, and not just because of the PGA Tour opener

By RICK WOODSON
On Sports
Rochester Business Journal
January 11, 2013

There was laughter and lamenting, happiness and sadness, celebrating and sorrow. You name it, and it happened somewhere in the sports world within the past week. And what a week!
 
High-fives were flying in Alabama after the Crimson Tide rolled over previously undefeated Notre Dame, 42-14, for 'Bama's third BCS championship in four years. And up in South Bend, Ind., tears were running down the face of Knute Rockne's statue and over the Notre Dame campus.
 
How could anybody not pull for the Fighting Irish, who hadn't won a national championship in years? And was anybody surprised that Alabama dominated the game? I had my fingers crossed, but it didn't work.
 
Meanwhile, the National Hockey League and its players union finally settled their contract dispute, ended a 103-day lockout and will play a 48-game season. 'Bout time, huh?
 
Ah, yes, then there's the NFL playoffs, in which the Seattle Seahawks came from 14-0 down to beat the Washington Redskins, 24-14, and the Houston Texans spanked the Cincinnati Bengals and sent them home. Now all eyes are on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who host the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.
 
Then, right here in Western New York, some Buffalo Bills fans are already making plans to go watch their team play in the 2014 Super Bowl. Why not? The Bills all but signed a contract to play for the NFL championship next season when Doug Marrone signed a contract to become the team's new head coach.
 
Don't believe it? Hey, just ask them! Marrone turned around the Syracuse Orangemen, and it's almost a consensus that he'll do the same with the Buffalo. In other words, the Bills have finally-finally!-found the coach they need to end their 13-year playoff drought. And if you don't believe it, just ask them.
 
There have been six head coaches and five "saviors" of the franchise since Marv Levy retired after the 1997 season, not including one interim coach, Perry Fewell, who took over for the last seven games in 2009.
 
Optimism gushed from One Bills Drive when Wade Phillips (1998-2000) took over from Levy, when Gregg Williams (2001-03) took over for the fired Phillips, when Mike Mularkey (2004-05) took over for Williams after he was let go, when Dick Jauron (2006-09) took over after Mularkey resigned, and again when Chan Gailey took over to start the 2010 season.
 
I don't know about those other teams looking to replace fired coaches, but here in Western New York, optimism gushes again because the Bills have hit the jackpot again, this time with Marrone! Well, we'll see, won't we?
 
Are you excited about the Pro Bowl Jan. 27 in Hawaii? If you are, get a life. The first Pro Bowl was in 1939, after the 1938 season. This gameless game has been played in Honolulu every year since 1980, except for 2009, when it was played in Miami.
 
Why Hawaii? Because there are maybe a half dozen players excited about being chosen for the Pro Bowl. But my guess is there are many wives and girlfriends of players who insist that their significant others not fake injuries to miss the game. They probably say something along the lines of "A free week in Hawaii in the winter, and you don't wanna go? Get real! And yes, we are going."
 
The Pro Bowl is the NFL equivalent of a flag football game: no blitzing; no rushing a punt or placekick; no motion or shifting by the offense; intentional grounding of the ball is legal. Prediction: Sooner than later, there won't be a Pro Bowl and it won't be missed.
 
I almost forgot the big news down the road! The NFL's scouting combine starts Feb. 20, and then the college draft is the fourth week in April. And that, folks, is when every team in the NFL will say it hit the jackpot and can't believe the incredible talent that was available each time it had a pick. First round, seventh round, doesn't matter. All teams will tell the world that they got exactly the players they wanted.
 
Now it's my turn to celebrate, albeit a little early, because the PGA Tour started last week at wind-blown Kapalua, Hawaii, and continues this week with the Sony Open in Honolulu. The Masters is only three months away!
 
Then there's the great game of baseball. Spring training is only one month away, and the season starts March 31 with the Houston Astros hosting the Texas Rangers. The next day, April Fool's Day, will have a full schedule. I don't know about you, but I can't wait!
 
Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at www.rbjdaily.com. His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at www.authorhouse.com/bookstore. Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.1/4/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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