STATE COLLEGE, PA - JANUARY 22: Community members pay their respects at the statue of Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach, after hearing of Paterno's death outside of Beaver Stadium on January 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. Paterno, who was 85 years old, had been battling lung cancer. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, I was originally going to just focus a bit more on the playoffs. With the news of Joe Paterno passing away this morning, though, that is what we'll begin with.
Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno passed away at the age of 85 on Sunday after having suffered through lung cancer. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that his legacy/reputation took a hit over the past year due to the Jerry Sandusky situation. We don't need to debate how Paterno should be remembered, but rather acknowledge that Paterno affected the lives of many people in a positive manner, especially in the state of Pennsylvania.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens signed with The Wranglers of the Indoor Football League (IFL) recently, after no NFL teams attended a workout he held during the regular season. Owens had a very productive season in 2010, but after tearing his ACL, nobody was interested in the aging receiver in 2011. I doubt that Owens' production in the IFL will captivate NFL teams, but I'm sure there will be some team that offers him a one-year contract when training camp rolls around, much like the 49ers originally did with Braylon Edwards before cutting ties with him right before the end of the regular season.
I was watching a special titled "The Brady 6" yesterday, a documentary that went live back in April 2011. It talked about the six quarterbacks in Tom Brady's draft class and how their careers panned out compared to his. One of the first quarterbacks mentioned in the piece was the Browns' Spergon Wynn. I couldn't help but crack up at a conversation shown between Chris Palmer and Brian Billick. To recap, Palmer told Billick in a quiet/secretive voice "You know, I think this Wynn kid is going to be pretty good." Billick didn't have the slightest idea where Wynn came from, and even after Palmer told him he played at the University of Minnesota while Billick was with the Vikings, Billick was still confused -- even to the point where he asked what position Wynn played in college.
I haven't changed my pick for the AFC Championship game. I'm sticking with the Patriots, as the only way I think the Ravens could pull off an upset is if they had a similar beginning to the playoff game they played two years ago. That was a rarity, and after the season Brady has had with Rob Gronkowski and company, I don't see it happening again. When I couple that with my lack of faith in Joe Flacco to deliver in the clutch, I see New England winning by a couple of possessions.
The NFC Championship game hasn't gotten any easier for me to project. I think the 49ers and the Giants are evenly matched, with both teams playing at the top of their games right now. Despite being on the road, I like Eli Manning and the Giants' playoff experience to propel them to the Super Bowl for a rematch from 2007.