The Back Nine: It was a super Bowl

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is reflected in the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he speaks during a news conference Monday, in Miami, the day after the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Back Nine comes at you after a Super Bowl Sunday that included Super Bowl Sundaes (it’s a Karen Dooley tradition) and the return of the two-TV system for my sports room. Woo-hoo.

  1. It was a fun Super Bowl in that I didn’t have a real rooting interest and just enjoyed the immense weight of the game (which only got heavier after the ribs were served at the Dooley Dome). I thought everything was great — the halftime show (not my kind of music, but it was spectacular), the commercials (the Groundhog Day one was the best) and the game. I was happy for Andy Reid, but here’s something that caught my eye that made me really appreciate him as a coach. After the Chiefs took an 11-point lead with a little more than a minute to go, Reid went to his offensive linemen as they came off the field and to quarterback Patrick Mahomes. You didn’t have to read lips to understand what he was telling them — “This game is not over.” The point was that anything can happen like a kickoff return or a fluke touchdown and those guys might have to go out there and try to get one more first down. I admire head coaches who don’t celebrate too early. There were a number of players who could have been the MVP, such as Chris Jones and Damien Williams, but, when in doubt, it will always go to the winning quarterback.
  2. One thing about winning it all in any sport is the aftermath, because players change as people and rosters change because it is inevitable. It’s rare that we have a team like Golden State that stays together AND keeps it together for a long run (a long run that has since ended horribly). Let’s face it, New England has done it because of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and has been able to plug and replace. But that’s a rarity. Free agency, new contracts, endorsement deals, they can all get in the way of keeping it going. That goes for San Francisco, too. On a related note, please don’t jump on that Kyle Shanahan bandwagon that is blaming him for blowing two Super Bowls (the other as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator). If Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t overthrow Emmanuel Sanders deep with 1:40 to play the Niners probably win the game. That play may have looked familiar to Florida fans (not the overthrowing) because it was the old Mills Play that Steve Spurrier brought to Florida and used with Ernie Mills. 
  3. On Saturday night, I’m watching Florida’s basketball team almost blow another big lead and complaining and Kelsey told me, “Dad, don’t you remember one of your sayings?” Oh yeah. Win by one. And Florida got the win that snapped a three-game losing streak and did it on the road in a place that has ghosts. Still … I didn’t think Florida played much better than they did in any of those three losses. The Gators were fortunate that they were playing a team that is historically bad (the SEC losing streak has now reached 26, the most for a conference team and it’s 28 if you count two SEC Tournament losses). That said, this season is not about how the Gators look anymore. It’s not about style points. It’s about finding a way to win games (by one if necessary). And winning enough of them, no matter the score, to get into the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think this team is going to suddenly turn it on and look like the team we all overrated in November. But it doesn’t mean these Gators can’t grind it out. 
  4. One thing we are reminded of every basketball season is that the non-conference part of your schedule is for metrics and rankings, but the conference part of your season is when you find out how good you are. We are seeing that with LSU, still unbeaten in the league, and with Mississippi State, which has five straight conference wins and suddenly looks like an NCAA team. It is pretty clear — even with five weeks to go in the conference season — that there are still seven teams with a shot to make the Big Dance. Auburn, Kentucky and LSU are playing for seeds, Arkansas just can’t have a collapse and then there are the three with a lot of work to do. Miss. State is 38 in the NET Rankings heading into Monday night’s games, Alabama is 41 and your Gators are 42. The rest are below 70 and outside of a stunning 8-2 or 9-1 run or winning the SEC Tournament in Nashville, I’m not seeing it. It’s important for the league (not only financially) to not fall too far off after getting 15 teams in the tourney the last two years.
  5. When they announced the second wave of NFL Hall of Fame inductees this weekend, there were a lot of people in Jacksonville who were bummed out Tony Boselli was left out again. On the Dan Patrick Show, Boselli had this to say — “Gale Sayers played fewer games than I did. Dwight Stephenson played fewer games than I did. Terrell Davis played fewer games than I did. Kenny Easley played fewer games than I did. … The short career stuff has to go away.” Which is a good argument. You can understand why Boselli is upset because this was an important year considering the players who will be eligible next year (Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, etc.) It also stings Duuuu-vaall because the Jags are still without a member in the Hall. Here’s the argument against Boselli — he played offensive tackle, only played in 91 games, played in a small market and his teams never saw a Super Bowl. Boselli was a dominant player, but sometimes it’s difficult to quantify guys at the position he played.
  6. It’s about to get busy around here and in some ways it’s the most wonderful time of the year. There is about to be so much going on for the sports fans in our fair city, it’s almost overwhelming. First, let’s begin with a laurel and hearty handshake for the women’s basketball team. I don’t know if the win over No. 13 Kentucky is truly the beginning of this program turning things around, but I know Cam Newbauer’s team is playing better than a year ago and that was a huge win. The Gators return home Sunday for Georgia. And a pat on the back to men’s tennis, the second-ranked team in the country, after it spanked FSU over the weekend. That’s never a bad thing. And gymnastics continues to look like a team on a mission after its win at Kentucky and recording the fourth highest score in the nation this year.
  7. But the point is that you are about to have incredible options when it comes to going to sporting events in Hogtown. In addition to men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s tennis and gymnastics and swimming and diving and golf, which are all in season right now, there’s this:

* Baseball starts at home Feb. 14. 

* Lacrosse starts at home Saturday.

* Softball begins Friday and will start its home schedule Feb. 11.

Track also is in season and has the SEC Indoor coming up, but only the two meets at home — the Florida Relays and the Tom Jones, both in April. Oh, and we’re not that far away from the start of spring football practice. 

  1. Twitter blew up during the Super Bowl, but the smart ones left their phones in another room and came back to them later. That way, you get to see later how people overreact terribly. Anyway, this was not an overreaction by Mak Whicker, the columnist for the Orange County Register — “Just a reminder that the Eagles fired Andy Reid so they could hire Chip Kelly.” We all need to be reminded of that.
  2. Another Super Bowl is behind us, another National Signing Day approaches and here is another playlist:
  • Lose Your Mind” by So Many Wizards.
  • Changes” by Langhorne Smith and the Law.
  • Firebird” by Milky Chance
  • The King of Carrot Flowers” by Neutral Milk Hotel.
  • And for an old one, I only take you back three decades to the time Paul McCartney (those of us close to him call him “Macca”) was searching for a writing partner who could bring him the edge of John Lennon. He settled on the great Elvis Costello and the album wasn’t much, but I always loved this one song — “My Brave Face” by Paul McCartney.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. Amen on number 10 Pat. It’s always spectacular to watch pole dancing and booty shaking with my teenage son and 12 year old niece. My boy really loved the camera angles that gave him such great views of J Lo’s crotch. My niece now feels empowered to overcome any stigma attached to being a stripper. Spectacular indeed!

    • As long as 100 million people continue to watch, the perverse American entertainment industry will continue to devolve what you watch at Superbowl halftimes. “Wardrobe malfunctions” will likely become commonplace.

      I, for one, got my fill of the NFL when the owners didn’t challenge the players kneeling for the national anthem. So, I “missed” that “highly entertaining” halftime show on Sunday. Sounds like I should be glad I did!

      • I never quite understood why some consider it so offensive to kneel during the National Anthem. Kneeling is a sign of reverence, respect, and submission. We’ve never took issue with those who remain seated, continue talking, looking down and around, or otherwise not standing at attention looking at the flag with a hand over heart during the anthem before, at least not to same level of hatred. Those are much more disrespectful than kneeling. I would bet the farm that the majority of political right don’t stand silently in their homes while the anthem is being played over the TV. Now, I can understand if the backlash is against a political issue (e.g. police brutality, racial inequality) not agreeing with theirs, which I think is the crux of the issue. But I don’t really think kneeling is a sign of disrespect to the flag or to all who are in uniform. Let’s call a spade a spade. Not saying I agree or disagree with the political issue they are trying to bring to the forefront, but I see kneeling as their right to freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. Likewise, I’d hate to see the same level of chastisement and black-balling against any players who are exercising their rights to bear arms.

      • I don’t watch any NFL either but for a different reason. I think they are overpaid, overpriced, and less entertaining than college football/sports. I have more time to follow the Gators. And oh yeah, I don’t have ties to any (mobile) franchises like my alma mater.

        • Let’s make sure we clearly identify “my problem,” because you’re absolutely right when you say that players, like all citizens, have a constitutional right to free expression. I believe not standing for the national anthem in the presence of the flag is disrespectful and ungrateful, but perfectly legal.

          “My problem” is that I tune in, or pay for a ticket, to JUST watch a football game. If the NFL wants to hold a pre-game ceremony to honor our nation by playing the national anthem, the least their “employees” should do, while “on the clock,” is to follow tradition and STAND in respect of the flag during that ceremony. Once the “customers” are trapped in the stadium (or watching on TV) they’re not “paying” to watch their “entertainers” disrespect their national symbol.

          The “employee” who does that violates his contract and his team owner has a contractual right to take legal retribution for insubordination, up to and including firing the offending “employee” for insulting their “customers” and devaluing the “entertainment product” they are in that stadium to sell, at a ridiculously high price!

          That the NFL owners initially chose to do NOTHING about that obvious insult to their “customers” perpetrated by their “employees” meant, at least to me, that they didn’t value my patronage. So, I took their cue and just stopped watching NFL games.

          I agree with you. It gives me a lot more time to follow college football, which I enjoy A LOT MORE!

          • Thank you for elaborating to help me better understand those who opposes the “kneeling”. I can understand the paying fans to the paid owners and the paying owners to the paid players relationships and the responsibility of the paid to the paying. I would side with those opposed to the kneeling if they had went further and also voiced with the same level of displeasure towards those not standing at attention looking at the flag with hand (or hat) over their heart. Not giving complete attention and respect while the anthem is played has bothered me for long time preceding the kneeling. It seems every time the cameras panned towards the players during the anthem, whether it be football, baseball, basketball, or whatever is played, there would be a few doing it right while others are looking around not really paying attention. Yet, no one has made an issue of it. However, when players started kneeling, which I thought was more respectful than looking around, it became a huge issue. That led be to believe that the issue is not the kneeling but the underlying political issue that they were championing. I would support a blanket league policy that stipulates that all players must stand at attention facing the flag, not looking around, not kneeling, and with hands or hat over the heart. So as to avoid the perception of a tyrannical policy, I would offer the players the option to remain in the locker room while the anthem is played if they do not wish to comply.

        • BTW, college football got it right in keeping the national anthem ceremony off the air. They also got it doubly right with their “excessive” celebration penalty. It keeps their players focused on playing the game well and minimizes the amount of hot dogging done for the cameras, which I find to be idiotic and unsportsmanlike, but hey that’s just me.

          • I agree college football got it right on their definition of unsportsmanship. They should keep the celebration amongst teammates and not go over the top by involving the fans and other antics.

        • Fans at sporting events that don’t respectfully stand at attention during the presentation of colors and playing of the national anthem are just as ungrateful for the true privilege of being a citizen/resident of this great nation as the players who “kneel” during the ceremony. JZ and Bioncé have gotten a ration of crap on cable and social media for exactly that vile behavior at the Superbowl.

          That said, it’s totally consistent for me to defend the right of anyone who PAID to watch a football game and was therefore TRAPPED in the crowd, to CHOOSE not to participate in a ceremony they don’t agree with. That is a RIGHT they had walking into the event they shouldn’t have to give up just for the privilege of PAYING to be there. Knowing the ceremony was coming, I might have chosen to go to the rest room, or buy a beer, but that’s just hair splitting.

    • I quit watching Super Bowl half time shows years ago. They’re usually nothing more than over choreographed lip syncing displays or medleys of the “greatest hits” or the debacle at this year’s game. If I want to see pole dancing I can go to the local strip club, but I have no interest in seeing it there or on the Super Bowl. Make the half time shows entertaining for everyone.