Our Hats Are Off — To Africa

At the end of a big championship game, the winners appear within minutes wearing T-shirts and caps proclaiming themselves as the champs. Obviously, these pieces of clothing have to be manufactured in bulk before the game in order to make that kind of deadline, and that means that half of the orders — the ones proclaiming the wrong team as the winners — never see the light of day. Did I say never? Well, that’s overstating it, because the shirts and hats actually do wind up in the hands of those who can use them:

After the final moments of the Super Bowl, when the Indianapolis Colts’ coach was showered in Gatorade and hoisted atop his burliest players’ shoulders, the winning players engaged in another time-honored ritual and immediately tossed on championship hats and shirts, which seemingly appeared out of thin air.
These are official Reebok-sponsored, NFL-approved hats and shirts that declare to the world that the Colts are the Super Bowl winners.
But how does that work, since the winner is not known beforehand? Reebok makes two sets of Super Bowl Championship gear — 288 shirts, hats and other assorted paraphernalia for each team. So there are also 288 hats and shirts that claim the Chicago Bears are the Super Bowl XLI Champions.
But before the first speck of confetti hit the AstroTurf at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Sunday night, the Bears’ gear was locked away, never to be seen again on American soil, not even on eBay.
Thanks to World Vision, a relief organization that helps provide food, clothing and shelter to developing nations, residents of preapproved towns in Uganda, Niger, Sierra Leone, Romania and other struggling countries will receive these coveted championship leftovers.

The NFL makes World Vision ensure that the gear goes to remote villages, never to return to the United States. They do not want the clothing used to mock the losers of the Super Bowl. The charity makes sure that each family only gets one piece and that they truly need the clothing. That way, it will not wind up on e-Bay and the 288 shirts and caps truly assists the needy.
It’s not a bad plan. It’s better than burning the extras, and it allows a select group to benefit from the need for immediate gratification that the shirts and caps provide to the winning team. If the NFL had to pick a partner for this project, they could hardly do better than World Vision. If you’d like to contribute to World Vision in order to help provide more assistance to poverty-stricken people, please follow the link. You can be a champion every day, even if you never get the shirt or cap to show it.

Nice Guys Finish First

We’ve all heard the Leo Durocher saying, “Nice guys finish last,” a tenet by which Durocher lived his life as manager of both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. Too often in sports (and business, and politics, etc etc etc) we celebrate the successes of the sharks — those people whose drive to win pushes them past any sense of ethics and humanity, and the lesson always seems to be that only the obsessed win in life. That’s why it becomes so important to tell the stories of those who reach the pinnacle without leaving their humanity behind — and such is the case with Tony Dungy, the soft-spoken man who persevered and won a Super Bowl:

Sportswriters cover so many jerks, egomaniacs and sometimes even criminals that when a person of such high quality as Dungy finds success we can’t help but enjoy it.
Dungy is fair, he is candid, he is helpful, he is genuine. He is a man who repeatedly talks about his Christian faith without seeming overly preachy, nor hypocritical. He lives his life exactly according to the values he espouses.
“You see that soft-spokenness,” Dungy’s wife, Lauren, said. “The calmness, the humbleness, the man that’s in control, a man that has a job and wants to do it and do it well. Not necessarily to get credit for it, it’s a family coming together to make a championship team.
“The way he has done it, that’s to play a game with intensity, to play without compromising. To go out and play on the field and not have to compromise with the cussing and carrying on that often happens, we often see with coaches.”
In the twisted world of the NFL, those qualities were sometimes seen as detrimental, that he wasn’t tough enough or mean enough or inspirational enough to get his team to the Super Bowl. A string of playoff disappointments were all it took to make the case, a mediocre 7-8 postseason record in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.

It should be noted that many of these same qualities also resided on the other side of the field in Lovie Smith, the Chicago Bears head coach. It seems that this could have been called the Super Nice Bowl. It may have been the first Super Bowl to feature two African-American head coaches, but it also might be the first in some time to feature two head coaches with such overt Christian faith informing their leadership of their respective teams.
J.A. Adande writes a good column on Dungy, covering his commitment to live his life by his faith and to treat his players with respect at all times. He misses one point that perhaps Adande wanted to leave out on purpose, but it bears noting as an example of Dungy’s commitment. One of Dungy’s sons committed suicide in December 2005, a tragedy that could have shaken Dungy’s faith and transformed him into a bitter man. Instead, he considered it a “test” and one to overcome, and he did so painfully but keeping himself as grounded as anyone could possibly be under the circumstances.
The better team won the game last night, but more importantly, one of the best men in the league finally got his due. Congratulations, Coach Dungy, and thank you for the example and the challenge you have set for all of us. Nice guys can finish first — they just have to work hard and be true to themselves to do so.

Super Bowl XLI: Live Blog

Since I’m going to watch the game and check on the latest in the news, I figured I’d do a bit of a laissez-faire live blog. I’ll update it during the pre-game, game, and post-game, but on a low-intensity basis. The opening Gloria Estefan number and its wretched excess convinced me I had to make at least a few comments. This should be a lot of fun, especially since I don’t have the pressure of having the Steelers in the game … which is a transparent effort to put the best possible face on the 8-8 season Pittsburgh had this year.
4:58 CT – I’m not sure what the point of the Estefan act was, but has anyone seen a weirder looking routine? I’m guessing that the theme was that even though we’re rooting for different teams, we’re really all the same … spectators, I guess.
4:59 – Today’s the First Mate’s birthday. We went out for a nice brunch, but since the wind-chill factor this weekend has hovered around -30, she has decided that we’ll celebrate another time.
5:10 – Non-XLI item: So how good is John Edwards’ vetting squad? Apparently, they need a little work. Hiring a blogger that has this much in the Google cache says something about the competence of Edwards’ campaign management, and that something isn’t Good Job.
5:25 – The NFC has won the coin flip ten years in a row now, but they’ve lost 7 of the 9 games played in that span. I’m sticking to my prediction of 31-24 Colts …
5:27 – “This game is brought to you on HDTV.” Well, not to me! I spelled HDTV C-P-A-C this year …
5:28 – Hester hits the runback jackpot on the first pull. You suppose Indy will kick it directly to him the next time?
5:34 – Not a great start for Indy, is it? A special-teams breakdown and an interception.
5:47 – Did Chicago forget to cover Reggie Wayne? It looks like they did, and Peyton hung in there to get him all alone. However, it still looks like Indy’s snakebit: they blew a PAT. Not exactly championship play here. Now, will they kick it to Hester?
5:50 – Did Chicago not think to put their hands team on the kick return? I guess not. Oops!
5:52 – Jeez, these are the two best teams in the NFL? It looks like Keystone Kops Take Miami.
5:59 – The Carlos Mencia commercial so far looks the best, although one has to give props to Oprah and David Letterman. I miss Uma, though …
6:06 – No one wants a piece of the rock, tonight. Both defenses are hitting hard!
6:09 – You absolutely punt under those circumstances. There’s no gray zone here. It’s a ground-position game.
6:15 – This is why Indy punted. They have the field position advantage now. It was a crazy first quarter, but I’d expect Indy to settle down now, and get back to ball control offense.
6:18 – Is it just me, or are most of these commercials old news? Even the new Go Daddy commercial is just the same old crap. They’re not exactly my favorite sponsor anyway — a lot of spammers get their domains from Go Daddy, and they won’t exercise any control over them.
6:24 – The Garmin commercial so far is the worst. Power Rangers? Pul-leeze.
6:29 – Colts defense looks pretty good so far.
6:33 – You think that all of these foggy, wet lens shots have HDTV viewers really pissed off?
6:34 – Indy takes the lead for the first time by going to the run. Dominique Rhodes shows that Indy can play hardnosed football, too.
6:45 – Indy’s playing pretty tough on both sides of the ball. They’re about to control the last few minutes of the first half, and after the opening kickoff, it’s been pretty much all Indy. Manning’s been looking solid, even though Grossman has avoided the big mistake so far.
6:50 – Turnover! That’ll kill the big Mo.
6:51 – Not if Grossman has his way. Ball back to Indy, and back to the Colts’ grinding offense.
6:56 – Vinatieri missed a field goal! Yikes! Call Mike Vanderjagt! That may give the Bears a lift, but it won’t change the domination that Indy put on them in the first half.
7:07 – So I guess Prince couldn’t even spring for a hair stylist for his big Super Bowl moment, huh? And how smart is it to have hundreds of fans run onto the field when the Colts and Bears have another half to play on it?
7:13 – Prince is doing a great job as the halftime entertainer, much better than I would have expected.
7:32 – Indy back in the same groove, making the plays to extend their drives and keep the Bears D on the field.
7:37 – I didn’t know that they could challenge for the number of men on the field. Maybe Dungy should have remained ignorant of it, too.
7:39 – Indy gets a field goal and makes it a five-point lead. If the Colts defense can get another three-and-out, the Bears are in deep guano.
7:47 – Deep, embarrassing guano. Rex runs a Riegel — twice — and gives the ball back to the Colts in good field position.
7:53 – Indy ran it down the Bears’ throats, but for some reason started throwing it from the 10-yard line twice instead of sticking with what’s working. They’re going to have to kick the FG instead.
7:55 – The Bears almost gave them four more downs from the 1. Their discipline is breaking down …
7:57 – The Charles Barkley commercial was pretty good. I lived in Phoenix when he played with the Suns, and he owned that town.
7:58 – Indy’s discipline needs a little work, too. Also, if they’re going to kick it that short, why not just kick it out of bounds and have it on the Chicago 40?
8:04 – So the Bears got it on the Colts 40, and only could move it 14 yards. Not exactly impressive. They’re not going to get those kinds of chances much in this half.
8:19 – The Bears got hit with their first painful penalty — a holding call that wiped out a nifty run.
8:21 – Grossman Strikes Again! He throws it at the wrong jersey and gives up six, the first TD scored in over 30 minutes of game time. Chicago will challenge it, but they’re going to lose it and be left with one time out left.
8:32 – Grossman Strikes Again … Again! He hung one up when he had the Bears moving, on a first-down play. Dumb play, and that’s why I thought Indy would beat the Bears.
8:43 – Indy needed to score on that possession, and the Bears have moved the ball since the punt. They have to face a 4th-and-8 in order to stay in the game.
8:46 – The Bears lost their opportunity to win the game on that dropped 4th-down pass. Grossman put it where it needed to be, but Clark just couldn’t come down with it.
8:48 – Who gets the MVP if the score stays the same? Peyton? Rhodes? Either one would do.
8:54 – Huh. 4th down at the 17. Should Indy try for the field goal?
8:58 – Peyton finally gets off the schneid, and so does Dungy. The Colts dominated the Bears, and not just because of Rex Grossman. We’ll see who gets MVP. I’m betting Rhodes.
9:10 – I think Shula was the last Colts coach to win the Super Bowl, too. Interesting …
9:13 – “There’s also social significance to this victory …” Dungy had a great answer, saying he was more proud that two Christian coaches could win “the Lord’s way”.
9:14 – Peyton gets the MVP, and he gets the Caddy, too.
9:16 – Andy corrects me in the comments; Shula took the Colts to Super Bowl III and lost it to the Jets. He wasn’t with them when they won Super Bowl V.
9:17 – Fabulous game, and I’m not surprised to see the Colts prevail. Their defense really jelled in the last few weeks, and Peyton is too good a field general to lose to Rex Grossman. This game was won in Indianapolis, in the second half of the Patriots game.
Thanks for sticking around all night — hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

I’ll See Your Hyperbole …

My friend and radio partner Mitch Berg goes off the deep end with his Super Bowl prediction this weekend:

In 1940, everyone – everyone – predicted Sammy Baugh’s Washington Redskins were going to beat the Chicago Bears in the NFL Championship game.
Of course, the final result was the Bears dishing out a legendary 73-0 drubbing, a victory that set the stage for the defeat of Naziism. …
Bears 42
Clots 17.

Of course, one could more easily argue that it set the stage for Pearl Harbor … but I digress. Historical hysteria aside, the Bears have a strong defense and a good offensive line, but the Colts have Peyton Manning and a re-energized defense that shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots as if they were the Minnesota Vikings in the second half.
If the Rex Grossman that played in the second half against the Saints shows up tomorrow, then the Bears have a chance. If the one that likes to play like a liberal and re-distribute the wealth (and the football) when on offense shows up, then the Colts will cream the Bears.
My prediction: 31-24 Colts.
Oh, and as an answer to Mitch — this will usher in a new era of peace, understanding, and freedom around the world.

Tomlin To Helm The Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers picked another young replacement for a long-term coach by going outside the organization for Mike Tomlin. The 34-year-old defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings is the same age as Bill Cowher when he got the job 15 years ago:

The Steelers made Tomlin’s hiring official Monday morning, but it is unclear whether Childress discussed the job with Spagnuolo before he joined the Giants. Childress, in his first public comments since Pittsburgh named Tomlin a finalist for the job last week, said Tomlin “did a great job for us” in 2006.
“I’m really happy for Mike,” Childress said in a statement released by the Vikings. “He is a class guy and a good football coach and deserves to have this opportunity. … I know he will be successful in Pittsburgh.” …
Dressed in a black suit with a gold tie, Tomlin pledged to “have a first-class, blue-collar work ethic in how we approach our business” in Pittsburgh. At only 34 years old, he said he looks forward to connecting with his new players.
“I don’t think it will take them long to realize my goals as a coach are no different than any other coach they’ve ever had,” Tomlin said. “I think mutual respect is required. I have a job to do from a coaching standpoint. They’ve got a job to do from a playing standpoint. My age is my age. I’ve never had a problem with [coaching] men. When I broke into the league [in Tampa Bay], I coached John Lynch. John’s older than me. I don’t anticipate it being a problem, and really, more than anything, I just look forward to getting to know the men and moving forward.”

It’s a good hire for the Steelers. Tomlin has done excellent work here in Minnesota in bolstering a defense that Denny Green mostly ignored in successive drafts. The Vikings defense this year hearkened back to the Purple People Eaters of the 1970s at times, even if their offense was less than impressive under Brad Childress. Tomlin even made his first good decision, which was to keep Dick LeBeau as the Steelers’ defensive genius in place.
The Steelers’ Dan Rooney had made minority hiring a priority for the league in head coaching positions, even if they had only hired two head coaches in over 30 years. This time they surprised some by not keeping Ken Whisenhunt or promoting Russ Grimm, but looking outside the organization. In fact, some reports had Grimm already being promised the job, only to have it rescinded when they found Tomlin, a rumor the Rooneys hotly denied.
Tomlin should make a good head coach — and with enough time, maybe even a great one. Given the Steelers’ history, they may not have to make another coaching decision for another generation.

Colts Win One For The Ages

Earlier today, I made two predictions for the NFL conference championship games. The Chicago Bears made me eat my words in the first game, dominating the New Orleans Saints in a 39-14 rout. And for the first half of the AFC championship, it looked like I’d have a second helping of crow. However, in the greatest comeback ever in a championship game, the Indianapolis Colts erased a 21-3 deficit to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, 38-34:

Peyton Manning overcame his playoff past, and his biggest nemesis, to march the Indianapolis Colts into the Super Bowl with a 38-34 come-from-behind victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship game.
Manning and the Colts will head to Miami to take on the Chicago Bears in the NFL title game on Feb. 4. The Bears soundly defeated the New Orleans Saints 39-14 earlier Sunday in the NFC championship game.

I almost turned the game off after the poor start Peyton Manning had. He couldn’t move the offense and threw gasoline on the fire by tossing an interception that Assante Samuels easily took to the house for the 21-3 lead. The Patriots looked like they couldn’t miss, and the Colts looked to be missing on a few cylinders.
Manning, however, had no quit in him. He started seeing holes in the Patriot defense and exploiting them by playing ball-control offense. The Colts defense stiffened, only giving up 13 points in the second half and keeping Brady off the field. The Patriot defense began to tire, and Dominique Rhodes began blowing through the line for substantial gains on the ground. The Pats started looking spooked and tentative as they tired.
But the big story is Manning. He has had an albatross around his neck with his losses to the Patriots, twice in the AFC championship game, and with the big hole he dug for himself it looked like that albatross would get even heavier. He kept plugging away, even after he apparently injured his thumb, and looked like a man possessed in the second half. The Colts scored 32 points against a good Patriot defense and one of the masters of the sidelines in Belichick.
Manning finally gets his Super Bowl, and so does Tony Dungy. Earlier in the day, Bears coach Lovie Smith ensured that this Super Bowl would have its first African-American head coach, and now we have two. We’ll see a brilliant offense squaring off against a brilliant defense — and I can’t wait for Miami and February 4th.
PS: Colts by 7.

The Penultimate Bowls

For fans of the NFL, this weekend is the second-most anticipated of the season. Both conferences select their champions today, setting the stage for the Super Bowl on February 4th. Kickoff starts at 3 pm ET for the NFC Championship, and the afternoon should feature two closely-fought contests. This seems a propitious moment for predictions, and I don’t want to disappoint.
The Indianapolis Colts will host their nemesis, the New England Patriots, after both teams won improbable victories on the road. The much-maligned Colts defense came up huge against Steve McNair and the Baltimore Ravens, holding them to only two field goals in a 15-6 win. Peyton Manning could not find the end zone, but he was playing against the toughest defense in the league on their home turf. He managed not to lose the game his defense was winning, and last week that was enough.
The Patriots won a game they should have lost last week against a better team. Bill Belichick outcoached Marty Schottenheimer, but the difference was really some foolish playing by the team itself. As Cris Carter put it, “It’s not the Xs and Os, its the Willies and the Joes.” Tom Brady bounced back from a poor first half to outshoot Philip Rivers, and the San Diego Chargers inexplicably left LaDanian Tomlinson in drydock most of the period.
So both teams have had their seasons extended, a bit surprisingly. Expect the Colts to take advantage of it. Their defense, which played great last week on the road and on grass, plays even better at home and on turf. The Patriots defense, while good, isn’t as good as the Ravens, and Peyton will find the end zone more than once today. Brady and Belichick can’t be discounted, but they won’t be enough today. Final: 28-17 Colts.
In this case, we have the two teams everyone expected to see in the conference final. The Chicago Bears have done domination a little differently this year; they look as though they would collapse every week from a QB controversy. They still manage to win, but they don’t win many style points in doing so. They square off against the New Orleans Saints, who have made this a rebuilding year: rebuilding Drew Brees’ shoulder, rebuilding the team in the draft, and rebuilding the city. If any team could be considered the so-called team of destiny, this is the one.
I see the Saints winning this one, even on the road. Brees starred at nearby Purdue and knows how to play in the weather. The team is built more for ball control offense than the Bears, and they have more stability in the leadership positions. They should excel at the run game, short passing, and special teams, and that will be enough to end the Bears’ season. Final: Saints 24, Bears 14.
Of course, I could be entirely wrong … which is why I plan to watch the games.
UPDATE: I’m wrong on the NFC. Rex Grossman is still less than impressive, but New Orleans has turned the ball over 5 times and will lose this by a wide margin. Rick Moran should be cracking open the bubbly about now. Let’s see if I get closer with the Colts.

A Message To Steroid Users

The Baseball Writers Association of America has a message for today’s baseball players: steroids may keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Mark McGwire, whose home-run chase reignited fan support of the national pastime and whose lifetime total easily outstrips many other Hall members, only mustered less than a quarter of the ballots for his first year of eligibility:

Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame bid was met with a rejection as emphatic as his upper-deck home runs. While the door to Cooperstown swung open for Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn on Tuesday, McGwire was picked by less than a quarter of voters — a result that raises doubts about whether Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa or other sluggers from baseball’s Steroids Era will ever gain entry.
McGwire, whose 583 home runs rank seventh on the career list, appeared on 128 of a record 545 ballots in voting released Tuesday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“I hope that as time goes on, that number will increase,” Gwynn said. “I hope that one day he will get into the Hall of Fame, because I really believe he deserves it.”
The 23.5 percent vote McGwire received represented the first referendum on how history will judge an age when bulked-up players came under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball didn’t ban steroids until after the 2002 season.

If any of the steroid-era players could have expected a pass from the BBWA, it would have been McGwire. After a disastrous lockout and the first cancellation of the World Series in ninety years, major-league baseball looked as though it had lost its fan base for good. McGwire and his smashing of Roger Maris’ 37-year-old single-season record captured the imagination of the nation, and his good-hearted inclusion of Maris’ family in the celebration as well as his friendly competition with Sammy Sosa created a lot of goodwill — and it showed at the turnstiles.
However, allegations of better living through chemicals had always followed McGwire during his career, and even during his record 1998 season people wondered aloud as to whether it should matter. When Barry Bonds broke his record three years later, fans grumbled that the record books should carry asterisks for steroid use. McGwire further alienated fans with an evasive performance at a Congressional hearing about steroid abuse in sports, convincing even more fans that McGwire had essentially cheated his way to the record.
In contrast, the BBWA focused their votes on two of the classier acts in baseball, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. Both were assured a first-ballot selection, but in this case the writers may have intended to send a particular message. Neither player made their names through bulking up and setting power records; instead, both brought an unforgettable artistry to baseball. As a Dodger fan, I can attest to the fact that Gwynn always seemed to get on base through some magic in his bat. I hated seeing him coming to bat against us, but no one who loves the game could fail to appreciate his talent and the joy he took in playing the game. Ripken, of course, broke Lou Gehrig’s cherished consecutive-games streak and did it in a quiet, modest manner that gave us a refreshing break from the bulked-up egos of modern athletes.
McGwire, by the way, also comported himself with class during his career, and perhaps the BBWA just wants to sent a temporary message. (One might imagine that Barry Bonds will not get treated even this kindly by the writers he despised.) When baseball needed a hero, McGwire took the stage, and it should be recalled that baseball did not have a rule against using steroids at the time, although its unprescribed use was illegal. He may well have to pay for the refusal of baseball owners and players to recognize the damage steroids have done to fan loyalty and to the record books held sacred by those enthusiasts, particularly in this sport.

What About Boise State?

Ohio State went into tonight’s national championship game favored to beat Florida in a wipeout. Some people questioned whether the Gators even belonged in the game at all. They proved it by reversing expectations and blowing out Ohio State, 41-14:

Not even close.
Florida — yes Florida — owned the field it wasn’t supposed to be on, embarrassing Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and No. 1 Ohio State 41-14 on Monday night to run away with the national championship.
Chris Leak and Tim Tebow showed off coach Urban Meyer’s twin quarterback system to perfection as the No. 2 Gators became the first Division I school to hold football and basketball titles at the same time.

I managed to watch the whole game, even though little doubt remained about the outcome after halftime. Ohio State scored on the opening kickoff and managed one decent drive, but otherwise the Gators dominated the supposed #1 team in the country. Troy Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy last month, looked like a rookie under the pressure of the underrated Florida defense. The Buckeye defense, on the other hand, looked confused and slow all night long.
And now we do have to ask about the Boise State Broncos. BSU went 13-0, the highest-ranked team to go undefeated this season. Florida and Ohio State both had a loss this year. Florida may have beaten Ohio State, but no one beat the Broncos — and they knocked off a tough Oklahoma squad in a game that may have been one of the best in college football history. Sports writers will have to ask themselves how they can support a once-defeated Florida team against the undefeated Broncos, and strength of schedule will not be a very convincing argument in favor of Florida.
Once again, we have a perfect example of why the “national championship” promoted by the NCAA and the BCS is little more than a marketing ploy. Unfortunately, we won’t even get a chance at a playoff system until 2010, even though the NCAA’s other football divisions all employ one to determine their champion. The Boise State Broncos will have to console themselves with the knowledge that being the only unbeaten team doesn’t count nearly as much as the money towards a national championship.

Mark Danelo, RIP

As CQ readers know, I am a rabid Notre Dame fan and have a lot of fun taking shots at our nemesis, USC. However, we know that this is all in the fun of a classic rivalry and that the game brings us together more than anything else. When tragedy strikes, no one remembers the rivalry, but we all mourn the loss of those far too young to leave us. Yesterday, USC’s reliable place kicker Mark Danelo was found dead, apparently after having fallen off of a cliff in San Pedro:

Southern California kicker Mario Danelo was found dead Saturday about 120 feet down a rocky cliff near Point Fermin lighthouse in the city’s San Pedro section.
The body was reported by a passer-by at about 4:30 p.m., said Martha Garcia of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Danelo, the 21-year-old son of former NFL kicker Joe Danelo, appeared to have suffered traumatic injuries, Garcia said.
Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said investigators didn’t find a surf board, scuba-diving tanks or anything else at the scene to indicate Danelo might have been down there for any recreational activities common to the area.
Humphrey said a handful of people had fallen from the cliff over the years.
“It’s entirely possible that he fell,” he said.

Danelo played a key role in USC’s success this year. He scored 89 points, highest on the team, by going 15-for-16 on field goal attempts and 44-of-48 for extra points. He kicked two field goals to help USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, and had another year of eligibility to help his team vie for yet another national championship in 2007. Amazingly, Danelo made the team as a walk-on in 2003 and only won a full scholarship in 2005. He holds the NCAA record for PATs in a season, a mark he set last year by going 83-of-86.
What a blow for the Danelo family, USC, and all of college football. Our prayers go to his family and friends. I’m sure someone will be burning a candle for Mark at the grotto in South Bend by the time today’s over.