THE 67 SONGS THAT REMIND ME OF RUSTY THE MOST

Russ met his favorite band Boyz 11 Men in 1993 and 2009.
Russ met his favorite group Boyz II Men in 1993 and 2009.

It’s only been a couple of months since my brother Rustin Riggs passed away. While BYU football and sports were his top passion, music was next in line for Rusty. It was a close second. He loved a genre of music called “New Jack Swing.” This was an R & B sound who had it’s hey day was from 1986 to 1995. He took his music seriously. He created deep thoughts about music he loved. He broke it down, organized it, and ranked things in order of how much he liked them. Rusty followed these bands well after their retirements. He had a sincere desire to know how all of these people were doing in life. He always kept me informed. I’ve noticed as I mourn his loss I’m thinking about his music initially more than his sports. He influenced that large branch of music I love as well. This music listed represents his softer side and is mostly over one era of time. He also liked Sublime, The Chili Peppers, and 3-11. Back in the day I remember him digging Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, and Paula Abdul (I’ll defend his ego by telling you he did not like “American Idol.”) He also became a fan of some “hairbands.” This is not a list of Rusty’s favorite songs or the songs I’d guess he loved the most. These are the 70 songs that remind me most of Rusty.

HONORABLE MENTION: I’M READY, BROWN EYED GIRL, ALONE WITH YOU, CAN WE TALK, (Tevin Campbell), IT’S LIKE THIS AND LIKE THAT (Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog), STILL (Brian Mcknight), KNOCKIN DA BOOTS (H-town), SWEET NOVEMBER (Troop), IN MY DREAMS (REO SPEEDWAGON), HIP HOP HOORAY (Naughty by Nature), I DON’T WANNA BE LONELY (Az Yet), I NEED YOU (3T), LAY DOWN YOUR LOVE (Four PM), MR. WENDAL (Arrested Development), AS ONE (Hi-Five), IV Example (I’d rather be alone),DEAR GOD (Boyz II Men).

#67 ALL THAT SHE WANTS (Ace of Base) Rusty loved going to “haunted houses.” We were driving to one with our friend Katie and her cousin. This song came on and after it was over the cousin started bragging “that song came out way earlier where I’m from.” With no hesitation Rusty goes, “That song is absolute steeeeench!”

#66 ANGEL-(John Secada) Russ became a big fan of Secada. He would remind me of songs he thought were “so good you are wasting your life away not knowing them well enough.” He was disgusted I didn’t know and learn these songs.

#65 LET IT SNOW (Boyz II Men & Brian Mcknight) It reminds me of he and I driving to the Marriott Center in the snow to see basketball games. It also reminds me of amazing friends we had from Highland, American Fork, Alpine, and Lehi.

This Shai album had a major influence on Rusty's music taste.
This Shai album had a major influence on Rusty’s music taste.

#64 A SONG FOR MAMA (Boyz II Men) This song was instant gold. We saw Boyz II Men perform in Provo in 2009 with our wives Ruth and Emi. When the show began there was a movie screen that was listing all of the amazing accomplishments the group had achieved.. Russ said, “Sheer dominance bro! My entire body is tingling.”

#63 TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY (Ice Cube) Russ could always find the mood for rap. This Ice Cube performance reminds me of him and so does  “Check Yo Self.” Russ owned the censored version of “Eazy- Duz- it” by Eazy E. We laughed while we rapped.

#62 DUST IN THE WIND (Kansas) He did not like classic rock. A couple summers in a row he told me “1970’s music sucks bro.” I’d tell him how ridiculous of a statement it was. He would follow it up by saying, “I do like that one song.” He would go on to poorly sing “dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.” He would add that he preferred music of the 1950’s and 1960’s to that of the 1970’s.

#61 IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES (Joose) Rusty thought it was awesome that Joose had performed this in front of original singer Garth Brooks and that Garth was thrilled with it. The song, like many reminded him of Ruth.

#60- SUMMERTIME (DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) This was an easy one for Russ to like back in the day. It screamed cruising, relaxation, music, and girls. He loved to just drive around. He would grab himself some fruity, non carbonated drink.

#59 THESE ARE THE TIMES (Dru Hill) The nice sounding chorus drove his interest to this one. Russ was a strong and resilient person. He was also very loyal. When I needed advice or help with something, he was always there.

#58 I’D DIE WITHOUT YOU (P.M. Dawn) In our last school newspaper senior year there was a picture of Rusty and the caption read, “He was last seen wearing orange hunting socks, singing PM Dawn, looking for Jay Brandriet and Joe Both.”

#57 LITTLE THINGS (Boyz II Men) On his behalf I want to thank the following friends for the Summer of 1992. Clinton Monson, Nathan Smith, Katie Terry, Matt Hicken, Karin Monson, Andy Hicken, Danny Smith, Leslie Barron, Cory Hansen, and Garrett Davis.

#56 THANK YOU (Boyz II Men) It sounded right in his jeep. He got such relaxation by driving in his jeep with the top off. He liked to go through Alpine neighborhoods and pick out the houses he would like to live in. Thank you Russ for loving my brother Justin. You have been a powerful figure in his life.

#55 TILL YOU DO ME RIGHT (After 7) He had a friendship with this song. He loved the opposite sounding voices of the main two singers. If someone would swear in the early days, he would touch their bicep and say, “ya, tough guy.”

#54 RUMP SHAKER (WRECKX-N-EFFECT) Classic. Rusty loved to scratch the dashboard acting like it was a turn table. This is that sort of song. It reminds me of going to the “Purple Turtle” with him in Pleasant Grove.

#53 HE’S DOING YOU WRONG (Shai) When Russ would get a new cd he had been looking forward to he would always listen patiently from song one all the way to the end. He would rate each song and tell me which few jams to get to right away. He knew I wanted to hear the great songs first and milk them over and over. He was going to be fair to each note that had been sang. His response to hearing this song the first time? “Another nine for Shai, nothing new.”

#52 ONE LAST CRY (Brian Mcknight) This reminds me of driving to UVSC in the fall of 1993. I was excited to see my boys Russ and Heath Bell each time. I told Riggs I’d loved this new song. He told me, It’s an 8.2 . He already bought this album months ago. He said, “there is one other 7.9 on the album called “After the Love.”It was no surprise to me it was exactly a..7.9

#51 ALL MY LIFE (K-CI & JoJo) We saw them perform this from row 11. He loved his parents, sisters, and all of his family. This song spells it out well.

#50 WEAK (SWV) For some reason this one reminds me of how much he loved Beavis and Butt Head. When I would freak out at him on a voice mail, his first usual words back were, “settle down Beavis.”

#49 DREAMS (Boyz II Men) It reminds of him at his very happiest. He had an amazing, fortunate life and he knew it. I praised him many times for his television broadcasting career. I wish I could tell him now, that he was out of my league as a professional.

#48 U SEND ME SWINGIN (Mint Condition) If there were was something good out there, he would find it. I can still see him swaying his arms, snapping during this chorus.

#47 STILL IN LOVE (New Edition) He wasn’t into old school New Edition too much, but this one made him a fan.

#46 THIS IS MY HEART (Boyz II Men) Russ believed “Cooleyhigharmony” was the greatest album of all time. The group influenced his dress to some degree.

#45 ANYTHING (3T) These kids are related to Michael Jackson. Russ was all about this song.

#44 BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Queen) It reminded us of a movie. “Wayne’s World” had a huge impact on our lives. It wasn’t just a movie. It had social and behavioral influence on us. This Queen classic plays a huge role in the show and triggers memories.

#43 COULD (Brian Mcknight) The “Anytime” album made Russ officially on board with Mcknight and his talents. I appreciated the artist much earlier than Russ. When Russ loved he loved hard. By 1998 he was an even bigger fan of the great Brian Mcknight than I was.

#42 THANK YOU IN ADVANCE (Boyz II Men) This song reminds me of him becoming a husband and a family man. His intentions regarding his wife and kids were perfect. He found this song to be thoughtful and clever. It was also him soaking up the groups continued dominance in the R & B world.

#41 VISIONS OF A SUNSET (Shawn Stockman) This was Rusty’s favorite singer in Boyz II Men in a solo. Riggs loved “slim” claiming he was the most talented in the group. Russ told Slim this in 1993 at the “Delta Center” in Salt Lake City.

#40 SUKIYAKI (4PM) This was the first sound released off Four PM’s debut album “Now’s the time.” Russ fell in love with the song immediately. He nagged me for weeks until I had it. What he thought was unique about this record was, “you can play it from start to finish and not skip anything.”

#39 ALL AROUND THE WORLD (Boyz II Men) Rusty was on his mission in the fall of 1994. I was driving home listening to Boyz II Men’s much anticipated second album. I knew he had the cassette as well with him in Louisiana. When they sang the line, “Boyz II Men, back around the world, and were comin through your town,” I remember getting goose bumps and being happy for Russ.

#38 NEVER GONNA LET YOU GO (Hi Five) This one reminds me of driving with him to dance clubs and our homey Craig Christiansen.

#37 YOUR’E NOT ALONE (Boyz II Men) Another Christmas one he was in to. It reminds me of what a sentimental person he was. His heart was pure. The very details of memories were not just fun for him to live, he liked to recap his life and his times.

#36 SHOW ME THE WAY BACK TO YOUR HEART (Brian Mcknight) He was listening to this a lot when he and Ruth started dating. Russ was able to marry his dream girl. Good job bro!

#35 INFORMER (Snow) He almost was laughing at the song a little, but he gravitated toward the new sound and energy. We would stay up late watching videos on MTV while he would boss around his sisters.

#34 SHE SAID  (Hi Five) If Russ thought Boyz II Men were the best and Shai second, he almost saw Hi Five as their little brother. Little, but still a brother. Every Hi Five track reminds me of Russ, but he lived to hear stand out songs like this.

#33 ALWAYS IN MY HEART (Tevin Campbell) He was so funny it was intoxicating to anyone around him. Songs that meant so much to him like this one, will keep him alive forever.

#32 FOREVER MY LADY (JODECI) Everyone wanted to hang out with Russ. I watched him become part of a group of friends that were mine first. Not only did Russ become the leader, people would try to take on his character traits. Everyone tried to be as funny as him. Everyone tried to tease each other. His personality was so bright, he sorta gave the group culture.

#31 MONA LISA (All for One) He thought All for One were pretty cool. He really enjoyed this song. It reminds me of covering high school football games with him at Wasatch High School.

#30 I’LL MAKE TO LOVE TO YOU (Boyz II Men) He took a few jabs at this great song some years back. Some of the words were lame and he hated the label his R & B music gave him sometimes. It could be used as love making music, sure. Russ loved the music itself. It made him feel great. It was like an emotional tatto to him. He adored this song. It was the first song released on their second album. He had recorded it off the radio in Louisiana and sent it to me in Salt Lake City before the single was even for sale.

#29 LOVE A LIFETIME (Firehouse) This reminds me of going to Salt Lake in his red truck. Of course he would find a rock band singing a love song. He liked to purchase the drink “Peach Ole” in gas stations. He would also embarrass me by asking workers “how many grams of fat” were in different fast food items.

#28 SACRED EMOTION (Donny Osmond) This song sounds right in line with a lot of the music he cared about. He was all about this 1989 Osmond tune.

#27 CRAZY LOVE (Brian Mcknight) This was the one that helped him turn a big corner in liking Mcknight. It was a Van Morrison joint that Brian sang in a way Riggs could relate to.

#26 BACK AT ONE (Brian Mcknight) This reminds me of us seeing Brian Mcknight in person. It reminds me of his first born child, Madalyn. Russ had more pride than most humans. His pride in being a father was off the charts.

#25 ONE SWEET DAY (Boyz II MEN & Maria Carey) He couldn’t help but add this to his great list. It had a sound and a meaning. It was played at his viewing.

#24 FOREVER LOVE (Color Me Badd) I play a song like this and I remember what a tender heart Rusty had. You’d have to have a good heart to love this soft hearted, lovey dove, well sang stuff. This song ranks way high on his best of list, and it reminded him of delivering pizza.

#23 DO THEY KNOW (Boyz II Men) A Christmas album from his boyz was quite a treat to give Rusty. This song is about Jesus and is beautiful music. It reminds me of he and I hanging out every day during school lunch.

#22 SOMEONE TO HOLD (Trey Lorenz) This one reminds me of playing in the “Roundball Ruckus” with him. Win or lose he was scoring points. He and I told some girls “we wrote the Trey Lorenz song “Just to be close to you.”You could say dumb stuff like that before there was internet.

#21 DO WHAT I GOTTA DO (Ralph Tresvant) He praised how near feminine Ralph could sound with his smooth voice. I was the last one among my friends to convert from cassette to cd. Rusty would take shots like, “Jay, driving a horse and carriage, listening to his tapes.” He gave me props for  making this Tresvant album the second cd I purchased.

#20 YOUR LOVE (Boyz II Men) He enjoyed not just listening to this jam, he loved talking about it. He thought it was underrated and a real hidden gem.

#19 YES (Four PM) When the group  sings a slow “Y-E-S” in the background during the chorus was his favorite part. He could have been the public relations person for this music group. He always wanted them to have put out more songs than they did.

#18 GLORY OF LOVE (Chicago) Before he had adopted R & B as his calling card, this was Rusty’s favorite song when he was 15 years old.

#17 WIN (Brian Mcknight) After hearing this song for the first time in the year 2000 Russ said, “this says perfectly how I want to live the next stage of my life.”

#16 COME AND TALK TO ME (Jodeci) Rusty liked that this song had thump, attitude, but still remained a great slow jam. A shout out on his behalf to American Fork High School class of 1993.

#15 TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO (Tevin Campbell) Tevin was a little “bubble gum” at this point of his career. Russ loved Tevin and wanted to review anything the guy would sing. He thought Tevin was a vocal phenom.

#14 TOGETHER FOREVER (Shai) Rusty noted how delicate and intimate this song was. He liked the song more as the years passed. He loved the harmony and talent of Shai.

#13 GIRL YOU FOR ME (Silk) He didn’t dig too many Silk tracks but this one had it all working. It reminds me of driving to his Grandma and Grandpa Waters house.

#12 CAN’T WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE (Hi Five) I’d guess he would choose this as Hi Fives best. It was a young perspective, but sang like R & B grown ups. It was radio friendly and the very first Hi Five song Russ had me sample.

#11 ROUND AND ROUND (Tevin Campbell) This reminds me of cruising around with him in the early days. He always wanted to do things and go places. He was pro active for an adventure. He drove 90% of the time (he would say right now that it was “98.1% of the time”).

#10 LATELY (JODECI) K-Ci and Jo Jo nailed this Stevie Wonder classic on an “MTV” special in the Fall of 1993. Russ had deep roots with this song. The opening part of the song was the part he enjoyed most.

#9 COMFORTER (Shai) He had elite praise for this one. He liked it’s tempo, it’s layered sounds, and the support aspect. His top singing line in it was “I don’t mean to disregard your feelings, but I think that he’s a fool, he don’t know how sen-si-tive you are, and baby that just ain’t cool.” The words look cheesy. Shai singing it is dope.

#8 BABY I’M YOURS (Shai) He admired Shai. He thought the best stuff they had could compete with anyone. This song was further proof to Russ that the slow jams he liked were becoming cool and mainstream.

#7 IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY (Boyz II Men) Both of our first memory of the summer of 1992 is that we saw Boyz II Men sing this on Good Morning America. We called each other to celebrate it. This song IS Russ. A classic about loved ones passing away. “And I’ll take with me the memories to be my sunshine after the rain. It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”

#6 I ADORE MI AMORE (Color Me Badd) He liked “All Eternity” and “The Earth, the Sun, the Rain” more as songs. This one reminds me of him more. It was on a mix tape he had as we would drive to Jazz games. The line that is him is..”Dream on, dream away, I think I’m gonna have to stay, stay forever.”

#5 KNOW LOVE (Hi Five) On a December Saturday night in 1991 Rusty knew I had a few dollars to burn and he was going to MAKE SURE I got some new music. We went to Fred Meyer in American Fork and brought Hi Fives first album back to his parents house. Sitting in a cold driveway he told me, “This will help with your music taste”. He played this song.

#4 MOTOWN PHILLY (Boyz II Men) This was the bands original theme song in a way. That means it was Rusty’s theme song. When walking down the hall his senior year, guys would chant “Rusty Riggs, ABC BBD, east coast family.”

#3 END OF THE ROAD (Boyz II Men) It was not only number one on the charts for 13 weeks, it defined his favorite summer of all time (1992). This was the music group he admired on absolute fire accross America. He wanted to remind me, “I loved Boyz II Men when they were opening for MC Hammer at the the 49th Street Galleria.”

#2 CONFUSED (Tevin Campbell) I was stunned I ranked this number two overall. Since he passed, no song has gone through my head more than this one. Listen to the opening seconds of this song. “Every night I dream of places, I’ve never been to, so real it blows my mind.” It wasn’t the words that mattered to Russ the majority of the time. It was the sound, the vibration, the melody, this song was in his soul.

#1 PLEASE DON’T GO (Boyz II Men) From 1992 to the day he died in 2014, he believed this was the greatest song ever made. In his second meeting with Boyz II Men in 2009, he made sure they understood what the song had meant to him. His words impacted the singing group. Russ impacted my life on the highest level possible.

Jay C. Brandriet 7/27/14

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BILL SIMMONS GOT IT RIGHT TALKING JORDAN / PIPPEN

Michael pushed Scottie to the limit and the result became a dynasty.
Michael pushed Scottie to the limit and the result became a dynasty.

I’ve always thought Scottie Pippen has been disrespected by fans. It’s also been very over looked that he and Michael Jordan were an amazing duo. In a June 11th article on Espn.com Bill Simmons nailed the harmony the two players shared. In referring to a streak in which Jordan had not lost three straight games between December 1990 through the 1998 season, Simmons writes:

Re watching Finals games Jared Adams would say, "there were several plays where you can confuse Scottie and MJ."
Re watching Finals games Jared Adams would say, “there were several plays where it was difficult to tell MJ and Scottie apart.”

“Jordan’s genius during that run , at least for me, was in how beautifully he meshed with Scottie Pippen. You watched them together, running around in tandem and it was almost like Jordan spawned his own clone. Like Dr. Evil and Mini-Me. Only in this case , Pippen was two inches taller. Pippen moved like Michael, saw the court like Michael, jumped passing lanes like Michael and blended with Michael’s game like a non identical twin. It was crazy. I will never forget watching it for the rest of my life. Bird and Magic were geniuses, too, but shit, they never figured out how to replicate themselves.”

Bravo Bill Simmons.
Jay C. Brandriet

 

7/4/14

SCOTTIE PIPPEN’S LEGACY WAS LOST IN JORDAN’S CAPE

When Scottie Pippen became a superstar, the Bulls became a dynasty.
When Scottie Pippen became a superstar, the Bulls became a dynasty.

Scottie Pippen is the most disrespected NBA star of my lifetime. People go out of their way to put him down. It usually starts with “well Pippen played with Michael Jordan,” or “Scottie Pippen is not one of the 50 greatest players ever.” He seems to be the only target in that “Top 50” group that gets called out. I have heard fans go as far as “Jordan would have won the same amount without Scottie.” True, if he had Kevin McHale, Pau Gasol or Mitch Richmond instead. You would think Michael had won 72 games by himself in 1996. The truth is Scottie Pippen is one of the great, dynamic players in the history of pro basketball.

WHY HE GETS LESS CREDIT:

Scottie played and developed along side the greatest player I have ever seen in Jordan. There are natural perceptions I can understand where people assume the next best player on his team would be MUCH less good. Pippen seemed insecure in Michael’s shadow and may have rubbed some people the wrong way. Scottie did take time to become a star player. He needed a few years to gain physical and mental strength to find his potential.  The Detroit Pistons beat him down for awhile and made him have to grow like most of us have to. There is the 1994 incident in which Scottie refused to check back into a playoff game because Phil Jackson had not called the play for him, only to watch Toni Kukoc go on to hit the game winning shot. It was a huge mistake on Pippen’s part. It gave his doubters unforgettable ammunition.

HIS GAME:

Pippen (with Grant Hill) was the new age point forward. Scottie took pressure off his team with his ability to handle the ball in the back court. He was Chicago’s distribution man and  was a standout player on the fast break. Pippen could slash and finish on the highest level. He was long and one of the sports best athletes. Before he became a dangerous shooter, he created a nice array of bank shots. By his prime Scottie had added needed weight and muscle. Pippen is one of the finest defensive players to have lived. His defense on “Magic” Johnson cut the head off of the Lakers snake in the 1991 Finals and was a key factor in the series win. Jordan called Scottie a “defensive predator.”

IMPORTANT NOTES:

From 1990 to 1998 Pippen averaged 20ppg, 7.3rpg, 6apg, and 2 steals.

He was named to seven different All NBA Teams.

He was named to the All Defensive team 1o times, and All NBA First Team Defense eight years in a row.

Pippen played in seven All star games (All star MVP in 1994)

He is one of only three players to record 200 steals and 100 blocks in the same season(Olajuwon and Jordan).

He is the only player to win an NBA title and Olympic gold in the same year two different times (1992 & 1996).

Pippen’s 395 playoff steals are the most ever recorded.

He was on the “Dream Team” and should have been.

THE MJ FACTOR: 

Michael was such an iconic player that he forces a Hall of Famer like Pippen to play distant second. That fact has skewed Pippen’s NBA reality. Don’t forget that Jordan was Pippen’s teacher. Wouldn’t that be to Scottie’s extreme advantage? What about the fact that Michael claims his toughest challenge was in practice with Pippen? Scottie made the best better. Jared Adams watched the 91-93 NBA Finals several times to attain highlights. He would often say, “on quick cuts to the basket it’s easy to get MJ and Scottie confused with each other.” As a duo they were athletic harmony. While the basketball public wants to see it as “Michael carried Scottie”, I see it differently. On the podium after winning their fourth ring together Michael said to Scottie, “You are my MVP dog.” It was an important complement and the truth. MJ was the best, but him pushing Pippen to the level he hit, is what put the Bulls over the top.

WHEN SCOTTIE REALLY PLAYED WITHOUT MICHAEL:

Haters like to ask “How did Pippen do after he was done playing with Michael?’ Why do they ignore Michael left Scottie in his prime to go play baseball? All that Pippen did behind the wheel was led the Bulls to 55 wins and a tough whistle away from the Eastern Conference Finals. He led the Bulls in all five major statistical categories and finished third for league MVP honors. With Jordan in a dugout somewhere, Pippen was no less than a top five player on earth.

AFTER HE WAS DONE PLAYING FOR THE BULLS:

Scottie fought through back pain in game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals to help the Bulls seal their sixth world championship in Salt Lake City. The team was dismantled after this feat. Pippen had played 30,000 regular season minutes and another 178 playoff games by the time he parted ways with MJ. Scottie was a good player in a bad chemistry experiment in Houston. He was also a key cog to an all time deep Trailblazers team that reached game 7 of the Western Finals. Pippen’s teams made the playoffs in 16 straight seasons. Was he not allowed to age? What did Michael Jordan ever win without Pippen?

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Playing with Jordan was a huge advantage for Scottie in that he was led to winning and fame. There is also tremendous value in the competitive relationship they shared. Being his teammate also came with a huge price tag. A brilliant player like Pippen is seen as a very good tag along.

Scottie Pippen was not just the second best player on six world title teams. He was somewhere between the third and twelfth best player in the league, on six world title teams.

Jay C. Brandriet

4/9/14

DO YOU REALIZE SHAQ HAD KOBE TOO?

Bryant was arguably the best player of his generation. Someone that good can not be "carried".
Bryant was arguably the best player of his generation. Someone that good can not be “carried.”

Kobe Bryant was denied the credit he deserved while playing with Shaquille O’Neal. Any time the discussion of Kobe’s place in history would come up related to his three rings I was told “Kobe had Shaq.” How many times did I hear “Shaq carried Kobe?” My favorite was “Kobe will never win it all without Shaquille.” I was offended by these outlandish takes. I told you guys then Kobe would succeed, and now I’m here to remind you. When the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals, I heard a broadcaster say a line that really left an impression on me. He said, “four time champion Kobe Bryant.” What did I just hear? Did he win four titles tonight? I don’t remember him getting credit for the first three. His fourth title, and first without O’Neal validated Kobe out of a shadow he should not have had to fight.

Peoples fixation on “Kobe HAVING Shaq” comes from a few places. Kobe had so much swagger out of the gates, having proved zero, it rubbed people the wrong way and made him an awesome villan. Michael Jordan fans resented Kobe for talking like Michael, chewing his gum like MJ, and using his moves. Those same Jordan lovers feared Kobe. Phil Jackson had made it clear Kobe was Michael’s equal in skill and killer will. The last and most obvious reason is Shaq was an amazing basketball player. O’Neal is one of the 10 greatest players of all time. During the Lakers three peat in the early 2000’s, he was the most dominant and best player on the planet. Shaq was the ultimate mismatch of the day. He was as close to an automatic bucket or dunk as you can get. What you may not remember is Bryant was the NBA’s most skilled player, and its second best overall.

The Los Angeles Lakers of the early 2000’s were a unique dynasty. They were a top heavy team who had the world’s two best ball players. When you get into comparison talk don’t give me that “Batman and Robin” garbage when you talk about Shaq and Kobe. Robin had very little game. Kobe Bryant during his physical prime was not like a little pet lending a helping hand. Here are some perspective points to Kobe’s level while playing with Shaquille:

Over the three championship seasons Kobe averaged 25.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. He attained these numbers having to contain himself and cater to O’Neal.

In 2002 the Lakers were an all time best 15-1 in the post season. Bryant averaged 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists.

He was on the ALL-NBA Team and the All-Defensive Team each year.

In game four of the 2000 NBA Finals after Shaq fouled out in overtime, a 21-year-old Kobe told his teammate “I got you.” Bryant hit all five of his shots in the extra session leading the Lakers to victory.

In February of 2003 Kobe scored over 40 points in nine consecutive games. He dropped 50 plus in two of them and the Lakers went seven and two over that stretch.

Shaq set the tone and was the unquestioned hammer. Kobe was the wicked talent and the closer. He handled the ball in the last five minutes of games play making for himself and others. Kobe also was protecting O’Neal at the end of contests because he hit 31 percent more of his free throws.

Kobe was an impatient young man who wanted to rule pro basketball. Shaq was the alpha dog and big brother figure in the locker room. Kobe thought he worked harder than O’Neal, while Shaq thought Bryant was a hot dog. Soap opera or not, when the lights came on Shaq and Kobe performed and played brilliantly together. They did not have the connectivity of a Stockton to Malone or Magic to Worthy. They didn’t have the cool similar styles that MJ and Pippen or LeBron and Wade had. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant won big and did it with opposing game styles and personalities. These two players are both legends of the game. Why hasn’t anyone ever said, “Shaq had Kobe?”

After escaping the Boston Celtics in game seven of the 2010 NBA Finals a reporter asked Kobe…”I know for you this is a team accomplishment first, but what does this fifth world title mean for you individually?” With zero hesitation Bryant said, “one more than Shaq.”

Jay C. Brandriet
2/19/14

PEYTON MANNING HAS WARTS, BUT DON’T UNDER DO HIS BEAUTY.

Manning has led 51 game winning drives.
Manning has led 51 game winning drives.

Peyton Manning is one of the greatest football players who has ever lived. His glow of preparation and mental mastery of the game has become his powerful niche. Peyton breaks records every day he gets out of bed. When your team sacks Manning, it feels like you sacked an entire community. He’s that good and important.

Manning has endured a ton of criticism in his career. Some of it’s fair, most of it is fans lacking perspective. In 2006 Peyton and his Indianapolis Colts won a world title. Manning was the MVP of the Super Bowl and his legacy was set. The problem for Peyton is he has remained so top shelf for so long, we have changed the standard. If you win a ring you are supposed to be a “made man”. Manning is so elite, it seems like he needs another.

The Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks looked like an even matchup for the ages. The biggest focus was how the games turnout would effect Peyton Mannings legacy. Super Bowl 48 became the most disappointing contest in my lifetime. Sometimes Super Bowl blowouts have their place. This should have been a good game. While Peyton played poorly (with a record 34 completions), the real story was the Seahawks suffocated the Broncos and deserve all of the credit. The fans quickly used the game as a way to re-evaluate Peyton’s value in the big picture.

Quarterback is the most important position in the game of football and maybe all of sports. With that said, the perception of the qb in comparison to his teammates, in the ultimate team game, is over blown. We actually give the quarterbacks a win loss record. Tony Gonzalez won “his” first playoff game in his 16th year and it was a side note. Considering Mannings level, he has some flaws on his resume. He is 1 and 2 in Super Bowl games, 11 and 12 in the playoffs, (including 8 first game exits) and has 37 touchdowns to 24 interceptions over that span. These facts are not good enough for a guy that is trying to be the best qb to ever play the game. They are the small details that make other all time greats seem better than each other.

Kurt Warner was 1 and 2 in the Super Bowl. People see Warner as a humble guy with a cool story. A milk drinking, safe face who will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at some point. The terrific Warren Moon was 2 and 7 in the playoffs and nobody knows. Dan Marino is a legend. Dan’s teams were 8 and 10 in the post season (32 touchdowns/24 interceptions) and felt short of a title. We don’t bash Marino. We almost feel bad for him because he was so awesome.

Is it good to have played in 23 playoff games or take two different franchises to the Super Bowl? (one coming off multiple neck procedures)Is winning a championship important? How about winning 12 or more games in a season 10 times? Peyton has lame accomplishments like 65,000 yards and just under 500 touchdown throws. He picked up a fifth NFL MVP award on the side. Outside of a couple different seasons, he’s a “top 3” qb every year. This guy is a victim of his own success. He’s stuck being compared to only the best NFL players. When you rip on Peyton Manning, keep your jab in context. It’s like saying Cindy Crawford is your least favorite supermodel because of her mole.

Jay C. Brandriet
2/13/14

TONY ROMO 2013: HE PLAYED HIS BEST BALL, AND WILL BE REWARDED WITH BLAME

You know Tony was good in 2013 if David Schultz slipped up and called him a "stud".
You know Tony was good in 2013 if David Schultz slipped up and called him a “stud”.

In 2008 Tony Romo was at his “most prolific and probably most athletic.” In 2009 he had his best season in the most “traditional sense”.” The 2013 version of Romo was “the best the player has been so far.” You have to consider the money he had recently been paid, the criticism he got for it, and the new level of responsibility he would take on. In part because of a league high number of injuries to  defensive lineman, the 2013 Cowboys were mostly bad on defense. Against the pass, this unit bled yards on a historical level. Tony was great this year! By “great” I mean he beyond did his part for his team, and even without a playoff birth was a top seven or eight NFL quarterback. Romo was way more clutch than not, but the story will come out different. He will once again get the blame because of a few reasons. It’s a quarterbacks league, his past mistakes, and mostly his high-profile team leads to him getting attention but constantly snubbed of credit. He also gave his critics two unforgettable games where his “Romo blunders” cost his football team the game or at least a chance.

Did you see Romo throw two late picks against Green Bay to help the Cowboys finish blowing a 26 to 3 lead this last December? I know you did. All of you couldn’t stop talking about it. It was a big game. It was being shown in a prime spot. Then there was the classic at home against the Denver Broncos. Romo put on a clinic that day. His 506 yards passing and five touchdowns were a product of his all time great pocket awareness, and escapeability. He led the Cowboys to a 48 point tie late in the game. With a chance to win, Tony threw the ball to the Broncos who came out on top 51 to 48. It was a cruel, almost fitting dagger. It pains me to admit that game is probably the best 60 minute nut shell example of how most fans view Tony Romo.

The next morning Michael Smith of ESPN said, “You know we always say the quarterback gets too much credit when he wins and too much blame when he loses? As far as his critics go, Tony Romo is the ONLY quarterback I’ve seen that gets NONE of the credit when Dallas wins, and ALL of the blame when they lose.”

Romo always gets his numbers. This time around brought 3,828 yards passing while completing 64% of his attempts. The 31 touchdowns ranked second in the NFC, and the 10 interceptions were pretty elite for a player known for turnovers. He fumbled a career low four times (one lost). Tony threw away balls at the right time, and took smart sacks. He was 8 and 7 as a starter, but 5 and 0 in the most crucial division games. He now has more yards and completions than any QB in NFL history through their first 100 starts.

Avid Sportsman Tony Abbott is never shy or dishonest about his Romo opinions. On five different occasions this year in the middle of down to the wire Cowboys games, Abbott proclaimed “the SEASON was on #9 right here”. He was not putting just each of these games is on one guy, he was saying the entire temperature and direction of the franchise right now, is on Romo. Lets look at the five contests.

November 3rd VS Minnesota Vikings: The Cowboys were coming off a one point horror show loss at Detroit. They were 4 and 4 and could not afford to lose this ballgame. Dallas was down three points to the Vikings with 2:44 left in regulation. The Cowboys had the ball on their own 10 yard line. Romo and his right arm accounted for all 90 yards that ended with a go ahead touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining. Other than winning, I really enjoyed knowing my South Dakota family members/Vikings fans watched the same thing I did.

November 24th at New York Giants: New York had won four in a row and talked ridiculous trash all week. The temperature was 22 degrees and the wind 27 mph. Dallas let go of a 21 to 6 third quarter lead. They found themselves tied at 21, with the ball on their own 20 yard line, with 4:45 left in the game. In methodical fashion, Tony led the Cowboys on a 16 play drive. He spread the ball around, he needled the Giants to death and made them look worse the bigger the play became. Dan Bailey knocked in a close range field goal to win the game. This kept the Cowboys season alive, and essentially knocked the Giants out.

Since 2006, Tony Romo has 23 game winning drives in the 4th quarter or overtime. Only Peyton Manning has more.
Since 2006, Tony Romo has 23 game winning drives in the 4th quarter or overtime. Only Peyton Manning has more.

November 28th VS OAKLAND RAIDERS: This game was an uphill climb from the opening play. The Cowboys first kick return attempt became a fumble and a Raiders score. Oakland led 21 to 7 with under two minutes remaining in the first half. Tony completed five straight passes to set up a short running touchdown. In half number two, Romo completed all 12 of his passes and led the team to a 31 to 24 victory.

December 15th VS Green Bay: I mentioned this game is where the focus will stay. Tony was having a good day helping Dallas build a 23 point half time lead. He also threw a clutch TD to Dez mid way through the fourth quarter as the Packers mounted a furious comeback. The qb then put the cherry on the collapse by throwing two late picks. The first INT was extra bad. The kind of play you want to pretend didn’t happen. The Packers played good, but this was one of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history.

December 22nd at Washington Redskins: As things ended up playing out, the Cowboys had to win this game to keep the season alive and to set up an NFC East title game with the Eagles. Dallas was down nine points at the beginning of the last quarter. Romo hurt his back and was experiencing shocking pains down his legs. He decided to put on another display of bad ass clutch play. The stand out plays were a fourth down and six completed for 20 yards to Cole Beasley, and a scramble then 51 yard hurl to Terrance Williams. The Boys failed to punch in the football on three straight running plays. It was fourth down and the year from the 10 yard line. Tony showed off his footwork and patience as he hit DeMarco Murray for a game winning touchdown pass and the best moment for the Cowboys in 2013.

I have to mention it: October 20th at Philly in a one score game late in the third quarter, after throwing a bad interception..Tony leads a drive where he completes seven out of eight passes for 69 yards. In the process he converts five first downs and a slant pattern for a score to put Dallas up 17 to 3 where the score would stay.

Abbott is a smart guy who does not think that Romo is as good as I do. I had to note, that Romo delivered enormous clutch plays and succeeded in 80% of those challenges put out there.

The night after the Redskins win on “NFL Gameday Final” Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk said, “If you really pay attention to it, the Cowboys constantly are in the position that Tony Romo HAS to make a play. Your team is built to have one guy have to constantly make or break the game. That is why Tony Romo is always in the hot seat.”

Everyone jumped head first in how and why Romo changed a key play late against Green Bay to a pass. Did anyone mention ANY of the plays he changed in ANY of his clutch moments? They did not. After Tony sacrificed his body and sold out in the pressure at Washington to give Dallas a chance did anyone take a breath to celebrate it? They did not. What I heard instead was, “If Kyle Orton plays good next week it will make Romo look so Bad.” I also loved the “Romo would have choked against Philly” card. He could have easily thrown a pass to cost Dallas the East. Without his pressure packed performances, the Cowboys would have never been there.

Romo has a lot to prove to be a truly great NFL player.That doesn’t mean I’m not tired of him playing like the low-level star he is, and getting the respect of an overpaid backup.

Jay C. Brandriet

2/25/14

THAT PHONE CALL FROM CANTON TO TERRELL DAVIS IS NOW DUE.

Davis was the best player in the world and a proven winner. It's wild watching him get lost in Hall of Fame mentions.
Davis was the best player in the world and a proven winner. It’s wild watching him get lost in Hall of Fame mentions.

It’s that time of year again. The greatest players in the NFL are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I’ve asked hundreds of NFL fans their opinions of Terrell Davis. The majority (75%) of them do not believe he is a Hall of Fame player. Davis has been eligible for the Hall for nearly a decade now. The arguments against him are mostly weak. In a vacuum, Terrell Davis was as good as any back I’ve ever seen. He was patient, punishing, and could take it to the house on any play. He was milked in pressure moments and he thrived in the role. He was the best player in pro football for three seasons and led the Denver Broncos to back to back NFL Championships. There can be a case made that Davis is the best running back in post season history.

 

HE DID NOT PLAY LONG ENOUGH?

He was only at his best and most healthy four of his seven seasons. Terrell played in 78 regular season games (10 more than genius runner Gale Sayers). Bill Walton got very little out of his body but has received an amazing amount of credit because of his best level of play. Bo Jackson is fawned over by fans for his amazing abilities and for what he could have been. Bo played in 38 NFL games. Davis somehow gets looked past, even though he actually did achieve dreamy things. Understanding his career was short, he’s waited long enough for Canton to call. I understand the value of longevity. In the end it’s the quality that counts more than the quantity.

 

WHAT DAVIS GOT DONE IN HIS REGULAR SEASON CAREER:

Davis was named to the NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team.

Two time AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1996,1998).

He was the NFL MVP in 1998.

His 97.5 yards per game average is fourth best all time. He trails only Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, and Adrian Peterson.

Terrell is in the “2000 yard club.” He had 2,008 rushing yards (5.1 yards per carry, and 23 total touchdowns) in 1998.

Over his best three seasons, the Broncos were 39-9 in regular season games.

Through his first four seasons Davis had 6,413 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 56 touchdowns.

“TD” had 34, 100 plus yard games and had had three more over 200.

His 2,476 regular season and playoff rushing yards combined in 1998 are the top mark in league history.

 

Impressive as those things are, it was the playoffs where Terrell really made good use of his time.

 

PLAYOFF JUGGERNAUT:

In eight post season games Terrell Davis averaged a stunning 143 yards on a 5.6 yards per carry average. He had seven straight 100 yard plus performances in which Denver won every game in that stretch. Davis also scored 12 times.

He was the best player on two Super Bowl winning teams. In the first one he rushed for 157 yards and scored three touchdowns, in only three-quarters while suffering a migraine. He was named the Super Bowl MVP. Terrell also had over 100 yards rushing and 50 receiving as the Broncos defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl 32.

 

HOW ABOUT THE BACKS THAT FOLLOWED HIM WHO HAD SUCCESS?

Yes he played with a nasty, agile, offensive line. He played with a great QB, and a host of other key names. So what? Every champion needed help, and Davis needed it less than most. He was the best player in the sport, let alone his team.

It’s true that Mike Anderson was a good NFL player who had an outstanding season as a feature back in the year 2000. In 2005 Rueben Droughns had a solid 1,232 yards (4.0 ypc) and two touchdowns. I liked a guy named Olandis Gary. He stung people when he ran. He added 1,159 yards in only 12 games in 1999. Clinton Portis was going to be good for any team in any era. Alex Gibbs coached up some fine offensive lines. This does not change that Davis was the driving force behind his teams rings. It was “TD” who rushed for 199 yards in a playoff game and broke 47 Denver Bronco club records. Other backs having some moments does not change the legacy of number 30.

 

SUMMARY:

I’m hearing a lot of chatter about other players with potential to get voted in. Terrell Davis belongs in the Hall of Fame. The level he attained and how it contributed to team success is way more of a positive than his short career is a negative. The football public somehow missed out on a guy who is closer to a legend then someone who should be begging for votes.

Jay C. Brandriet
9/1/13