Call it the "Westernized Sports Fan" in me (right, Louie?), but football (the tackle version) is the greatest sport on Earth.
This article takes a look at its most influential people in 2008. From heroic passes on the greatest of stages to temper tantrums in not so private locker rooms, we will at least catch a glimpse of some of the movers and shakers in the sport we love to watch most.
Can someone pass the cheese dip?
The younger Manning stepped out of his brother's shadow and rained on the New England Patriots' victory tour. Athletic bloodline, quarterback DNA, winning smile, Super Bowl MVP trophy, soft-spoken leadership skills...
What does Eli have in store for us this post-season?
Although he no longer roams the sidelines with a headset, the Big Tuna has shown he is quite influential this season in helping to turn around 2007's doormat franchise, the Miami Dolphins. Who else would take a QB reject and resurrect a franchise that could not outplay a team of peewees a year ago?
Cannot recognize the names? That does not diminish their influence. They are the commissioners of the Big Ten and Pac Ten conferences respectively.
Collectively with the Rose Bowl and university presidents, they make up the biggest opposition to a playoff in college football.
For all his talent, the NFL's biggest prima donna may go down as the only person in history to destroy three locker rooms. San Fran was bad, Philly was exponentially worse. The honeymoon is definitely over in Dallas.
Enter the dust to settle...
With all due respect to Parcell and Huizenga's Dolphins, no franchise has impressed fans more this season than Blank's Falcons. After being used and spurned by Parcells, Blank settled in and found all of the right buttons to press.
Dimitroff and Smith deserve more than their share of props, but it was Blank who endured the season from hell and stiffened his upper lip to turn around a franchise...and a city of fans.
No BCS title this season, but Carroll's Trojans are still the bar that other programs are trying to clear. In a city big enough for a gazillion stars, Carroll is bigger than any Clipper, as big as Kobe and as influential as ever.
For television fans who long for the melodrama of the Ewing family's return, Jones brings them the next best thing: his Cowboys' locker room. He alone can take credit for the perfect storm that seems to constantly brew among the egos and the smelly jock straps.
PacMan...ahem! Adam's worst nightmare. Goodell seems intent on changing the image of the NFL brand. The new commissioner lowered the hammer on Jones and other thugs with skills.
But $10,000 for a snow angel...?
It is hard to tell which the frumpy Patriot coach likes more, sweats or video taping. But give credit where is due. If Carroll sets the collegiate bar, Belichick sets the one for his NFL colleagues. And if there were any doubters before this season, bringing success to New England sans Brady has proved his influence.
Herbstreit and Corso are the lead singers in the band that promotes all things campus about football. From highlights to headgear, they give airtime to the big programs and lead stories to the prime time players.