Gearing Up For ESPN’s ’30 For 30′ On Old Friends Bill Parcells & Bill Belichick

Tonight is the night. ESPN presents their latest documentary. ‘The Two Bills’ chronicles a pair of the greatest football coaches ever. Both coached the Patriots, among others. I’m not big on comparisons in terms of who is better. I’d rather just appreciate greatness. Obviously Bill Belichick’s accomplishments speak for themselves. Younger fans probably don’t realize how great Bill Parcells was. As Lord Tree Sap told me, the guy pretty much rebuilt everybody in the AFC East.

Sorry, Buffalo. Parcells turned around the Pats and Jets. He took New England to a Super Bowl. Today we think of New England as a primary franchise. Before Parcells took over, New England was in disarray. Robert Kraft bought the Patriots from someone who wanted to move them. They would have been renamed the St. Louis Stallions. Even if Belichick did a better job or won more, there is something to be said for the guy doing it first.

Without Parcells, Belichick does not get a chance for so much greatness. Of course, that could be said about Belichick’s whole career. His first job as head coach followed years of coaching in the Giants organization under Parcells. After coaching New England for four years, Parcells headed back to New York.

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The 1997 Jets went from 1-15 a season earlier to 9-7. Year two as Jets coach saw additional improvement. In 1998 the Jets won their division and earned a bye. They beat Jacksonville and were up 10-0 in Denver with a Super Bowl on the line.

Later, Parcells was the Executive VP of Football Operations for Miami. He engineered another amazing turnaround. The Dolphins won just once during their 2007 campaign. They finished 11-5 in 2008. The Dolphins were division champs. Lightning had struck for a second time. Parcells had done it again. More first year magic.

That’s just part of what Parcells did. Despite his AFC East greatness, much of what Parcells is known for happened in the NFC East. He won his two championships coaching the Giants. This is another example of fans only knowing what the team represents today.

Many do not remember their long drought before Parcells got there. His final work as a head coach came with Dallas. Tony Romo’s fumbled snap prevented a playoff win in Seattle. Mike Francesa often told the story of how Dallas would have advanced to play Chicago, and Parcells was confident about that potential matchup. Francesa should be featured tonight, but that’s a topic for another time.

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Perhaps the most interesting part of tonight’s documentary will be having Belichick and Parcells together. I’m sure plenty of time will be devoted to their relationship. I wonder how much time will be spent on Belichick walking away from the Jets. Another juicy subject will be when Belichick’s Browns beat New England (coached by Parcells) in a playoff game. I have been waiting to see this for months. Enjoy tonight’s presentation on ESPN at 9:00.

ESPN’s “30 For 30: The Nature Boy” Gave An Honest Look Into The Life Of Ric Flair

ESPN’s highly anticipated “Nature Boy” aired last night and it lived up to the hype. Ric Flair is a living legend and I want to stress the word living because I have no idea how this man is still alive. Even if you have never watched wrestling before, my guess is you have heard of Ric Flair. Besides Hulk Hogan, Flair was the most recognizable wrestler in the 1980s and he didn’t even wrestle for WWE, which is NUTS. The robes. The flashiness. The promos. The in-ring work. Ric Flair had it all and then some. Everyone wanted to be like Ric Flair even if you didn’t like wrestling. LeBron James called him the inventor of swag. Snoop Dogg called him a major influence in how he wanted to portray himself to the public. He was the dirtiest player in the game.

The man had promos for days. To be the man, you gotta beat the man.

WOOOOOOOO

I haven’t even touched on his in-ring ability and performances. For those who don’t know wrestling, in simplest terms, you need to be able to talk and you need to be able work in the ring. Talkers and Workers. Most of the time, you fall on one side or the other. The all-time greats and the legends of the sport can do both. Ric Flair is at the top of the list. If you watched the 30 for 30, you heard about how he was an absolute workhorse, wrestling for an hour almost every night. Most champions in wrestling are supposed to be the aggressor and look dominant. Ric was the exact opposite. He brought out the best in his opponents and sold like a mofo just to get a crowd reaction. Look at this flop!

Did I mention he liked women and booze? It’s INSANE that this man is still alive. Here are the two quotes that most people will remember.

“I’ve been with 10,000 women…maybe.”

“‘How much do you drink a day?’ I said, ‘I’ll drink at least 10 beers, and probably five mixed drinks.’

10,000 women and 15 drinks a day. I don’t think I’ve seen 10,000 people and I for sure would be dead if I drank that much. Ric said he did that for almost 30 years. THIRTY YEARS!

However, the quote that will stick with me is from Shawn Michaels.

“Ric is my friend, for better or worse. I knew he couldn’t stay away from this stuff. And again, I knew when they wanted him to go that he didn’t want to go. … Ric doesn’t love Richard Fliehr. I don’t know that he’s ever taken the time to get to know him, or to find out who in the world he is. He only knows who he is through the image and gimmick of Ric Flair.”

Ric Flair was Ric Flair both in and out of the ring. His gimmick took over and he did not know how to separate them. I actually worked for WWE for close to 4 months. I traveled every week to shows all over the world. It’s a brutal, brutal grind. I saw firsthand how some superstars could not be themselves outside of the ring. They were in character 24/7. It was sad to see, but it happens all too often. Between the lack of support from his parents to his son’s tragic death, Ric lived a tough life. He struggled with alcoholism and he didn’t really know how to be a father at times. Heartbreaking stuff. It was not all glamorous.

I’m glad the 30 for 30 ended on a positive note with Ric celebrating with his daughter, Charlotte (Ashley), after she won her first championship. It’s inspiring to see that Charlotte really didn’t want the wrestling lifestyle, but she’s doing it in honor of her brother. A truly touching moment.

If you have not seen the 30 For 30, I highly recommend it even if you don’t like wrestling. I had the honor of spending some time with Ric while working at WWE. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet. He also was the most charismatic person in the room. That’s just how the Nature Boy rolls.

Gear Up For Mike And The Mad Dog’s 30 for 30 With A Trip Down Memory Lane

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*** Written By WFAN Veteran Joe Saponara***

Tonight at 8 P.M. ESPN will air a 30 for 30 on Mike and the Mad Dog. This stirs up a lot of feelings and thoughts for me. ESPN knows this is going to be huge. Their radio station competes with WFAN, and for years people like Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen were not allowed on with Francesa despite being his friends. You might think they would at least wait until Francesa signs off before airing something about him, but clearly ESPN decided to strike while the iron is hot. They know they’ve got something big here. Rumors and hopes of them getting back together continue to circulate.

I did not immediately get into Mike and Chris, or really WFAN for that matter. In 1987 I was only 10 years old. Watching sports was fun, and I enjoyed playing them. However, there were other things going on. I was in school. Afternoon activities included things like riding my bike and playing video games. Something else had my attention in 1987. Wrestling was taking off. Hulkamania had been running wild, and the same could be said for Macho Madness. There had been some sports discussion on radio. Occasionally I’d catch a little bit on WABC when the Yankees were not playing. Soon I started tuning in to WFAN. By the early 90s, I was hooked. One event that had New York buzzing was the Bills-Giants Super Bowl. Magic Johnson held his press conference to announce being HIV-positive in 1991. The Announcement was an ESPN film about that. Suddenly, for me these events became tied to Mike and Chris.

I can remember them discussing big topics. Something would happen and I could not wait to hear them break it down the following afternoon. Back then the NBA was huge. Especially in New York. The Knicks were relevant. They followed them on the road. Even a Bulls-Suns series was dominating shows. They would travel to games and host shows at arenas in other states. Russo loved the San Francisco Giants. I can remember Atlanta catching them in the great 1993 battle. That was the final year without a wild card. San Francisco won 103 games, but failed to make the playoffs. They hosted from 2-7 during my last year of high school, and I would tune in right after leaving so I could hear their opening. Fortunately, I had an open ninth period. I graduated in 1994. That spring the guys had a classic argument when Scottie Pippen refused to come out for a final shot because the play was not drawn up for him. Mike loved Pippen. Chris ripped him.

Soon after my graduation they changed times and came on at 1:00. I was so happy to be finished with school. When I applied to Petco, my application said I could only work until 1:00. It didn’t say that I needed to hear Mike and Chris, but in reality that’s why I wrote it. 2001 was significant because of the 9/11 attacks. Even now there is a lot of talk about the shows Mike and Chris did days later. Mike talks about going to the first game back in New York and how they were asked to be there so people knew it would be okay to attend. For years people would call and thank them for those shows. Callers said listening to Mike and Chris made life feel normal.

In 2001 I started working in New Jersey. Usually I worked at night. Most people listened to Mike and Chris on their way home from work. I heard them on the drive in. Once at the office, I would tune them in on a radio. Reception wasn’t always great. They did not have streaming available back then. Soon their show was televised by YES. That began a new chapter. Their television days made it easier to catch the show. You didn’t need to scramble for a radio. At first many people did not get it because of a dispute. We had DirecTV in the office, so I could pop them on.

Thursday night’s 30 for 30 will take me down memory lane. I will revisit some of these events, and numerous others as well. These men set the tone. It’s hard to believe that there was no 24-hour sports station in 1987. People thought it would fail. These guys started radio row at the Super Bowl! They are responsible for so much. Just ask Mike…he’ll tell you.

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John Daly Looks Like An Absolute Rockstar in His 30 For 30 Trailer

John Daly = Electric

Grip it and Rip it. 30 for 30 has another winner on its hands with this John Daly movie. Talk about a charismatic superstar. Daly is pure electricity. People him might look at him now as the guy with the funny pants, but back in the day, he was a certified rockstar. Alcohol, Cigarettes, Gambling, Women, Partying, Drugs. This is the same John Daly that smashed the windshield of his RV after a missed cut. Did I mention John Daly plays golf? It’s a shame to see that addiction took up a part of his life because he was extremely talented. No one used to hit it farther than John Daly. No one. He’s definitely no slouch. Daly was the ninth and final alternate for the 1991 PGA Championship, a major championship that he ended up winning. Add another British Open and you got a 2 time major winner. Not many golfers can say that.

The man was entertaining and this 30 For 30 should be no different. Hit hard.

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