Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Five Underrated Sports Teams That Play Sports

When I was in radio I hated this time of year, mostly because talk show hosts got lazy. Since there was nothing to talk about -- it's been eons since the Reds were interesting in the middle of summer, and the Bengals were roughly a month from reporting to camp -- hosts would always resort to gimmicky topics to generate phone calls.

Topics that often included lists.

But now I'm feeling their pain. I have absolutely nothing to say about the current state of the sporting world. Nothing. Okay, yeah, I want Edinson Volquez to get healthy, and I would like to punch David Weathers in the neck, but that doesn't really make for a column, you know?

So, because of all thems words you just read, I'm giving you the **definitive** list of the five most underrated teams in the history of sports.

(**Definitive** indicates I only gave this list five minutes of thought, and completely ignored anything that happened before 1998.)

1998 Atlanta Falcons

It seems they're remembered as one of those crappy Super Bowl losers (like the '85 Patriots or '94 Chargers) and that's more than a little unfair. First, they went 14-2 in the regular season. I don't care how weak their schedule was, 14-2 is 14-2. Second, they weren't gift-wrapped a win in Minnesota after Gary Anderson missed his only kick of the season; they still had to march the length of the field -- on the road -- just to tie it. Then, of course, they had to win it in overtime against the dominant Vikings. The '98 Falcons were good, but they weren't John Elway and Terrell Davis good.


1998 Utah Utes men's basketball.

Again, another runner-up from '98 who's thought of as something of a joke. Kentucky was a worthy champion, for sure, but Utah is never remembered fondly. Ever. I'm thinking this is because their roster was predominantly white. But them there white boys could play...and, of course, Andre Miller was decidedly non-white. Regardless, the Utes featured four guys who played in the NBA: Miller (2002 assist champion), Michael Doleac (10 years in the league), Hanno Mottola and Britton Johnsen. Do some digging, and quickly you'll find that most teams never sniff sending four gentlemen to the NBA from a single roster. Even some champions fall short of possessing four NBA players from one roster, like Syracuse in 2003, who only had two pros.


2002 Sacramento Kings.

Similar to the '98 Falcons and '98 Utes, the '02 Kings didn't win it all. Even worse, they didn't even make it to the Finals; they lost an excruciating seven game series to the Lakers that still seems unbelievable (not believable). They were the best team in basketball and deserved the 2002 title. History remembers the '02 Kings for two reasons: (1.) Robert Horry burying a dagger three against them to steal game four and (2.) the infamous fourth quarter of game six, when a Tim Donaghy-led crew sent the Lakers to the free throw line a staggering 41 times in a comeback victory for the Lakers. What happened in game seven? They lost in overtime, of course.


Old Mississippi football, 2008.

These dudes could play, it just took them a minute to figure it out. After starting 2-2, the Rebels (a.) beat eventual champion Florida in the Swamp, (b.) traveled to then-No. 2 [and BCS-bound] Alabama, only to lose a 24-20 heartbreaker and (c.) won their last five, including a thumping of No. 7 Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Old Mississippi finished 9-4 and ranked 15th nationally, but they were good enough to win it all, and you're kind of stupid if you disagree with me. They'll always be my argument for why college football needs a 64 team tournament.


2005 Bengals.

It's hard to imagine Carson Palmer and Marvin Lewis spearheading a Super Bowl victory, but crazier things have happened. Well, maybe not. But either way, the Steelers cut down the nets (or whatever) that year, but I'll go to my grave knowing (read: thinking) the Bengals were the better team. One month prior to Kimo von Oelhoffen rudely launching his fat ass into Carson Palmer's knee I watched the Bengals effortlessly go up and down the field in Pittsburgh, scoring 38 points on a muddy track. The Bengals weren't necessarily the best team in 2005, but they were absolutely talented enough to beat anybody, and it's a goddamn shame they didn't get to toy with opposing defenses in January.

End of words.

(More lists on the way, unless something interesting happens)

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)