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NFL players could learn a lot from watching Olympic hockey

vancouver olympics ice hockey--1565721032.widec.jpgThough we remain fully and completely dedicated to pro football, the single greatest athletic endeavor on the planet, we’ve long had a soft spot for a game that is far harder to play.

And as we discussed last night with Peter Brown of Sporting News Radio, there’s something pure and admirable in the dedication that hockey players have for their chosen sport.  After watching the American upset of Canada’s national team, a game for which the players will not receive a dime of salary, we’re now convinced that most if not all of the men who play hockey for money would play the game even if they were being paid nothing.

How many pro football players would do that?

We’re not saying they should.  The men who play pro football (and pro hockey) entertain millions of people, and the players deserve to reap as much of the reward as anyone, especially since they are compromising their future quality of life. 

We now hear a lot about the plight of the Conrad Doblers of the world, and the topic had been ignored for far too long.  But plenty of hockey players have similar problems in their later years.  When my brother-in-law and I went to a Rangers-Penguins playoff game in May 2008, there was a former Pittsburgh player sitting at the end of our row (we were the only two people in the section who didn’t know who he was), and we cringed as we watched him hobble out of Mellon Arena on a leg that would not longer bend at the knee.

Though it’s assumed that football exerts the biggest physical toll on its participants, NHL players don flimsy motorcycle-style helmets with little or no face protection and attach oversized steak knives to their feet 82 times per year.  Then comes a grueling playoff season, with up to 28 more games — a few of which feature from time to time another entire game’s worth of overtime action. 

Remember all the complaints about Astroturf?  As hard as it might have been, it ain’t as hard as ice.

Then there are the flimsy pads and the sticks and the boards and the glass and the steel goal assembly and the small black missile that only gets more lethal when it’s frozen solid — and that any of them would throw their bodies in front of, even in an exhibition game.

Are you reading this, Antonio Cromartie?

Our point isn’t that football players should be willing to play for little or no money or that football players aren’t as tough as hockey players.  It’s that more football players should have the kind of genuine love for their game that every hockey player seems to possess. 

As scouts and coaches begin to gather in Indianapolis to pick over the next crop of would-be gridiron greats, they’re all searching for men with true passion for football.  The NFL teams that accumulate the most of them will be in the best position to achieve year-in and year-out success.

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109 Responses to “NFL players could learn a lot from watching Olympic hockey”
  1. Big Stretch says: Feb 22, 2010 8:57 AM

    how do you live so high up on that horse?

  2. Love_Boat_Scandal says: Feb 22, 2010 8:59 AM

    Um. Have you seen an NHL All Star game? No one tries in those.
    And the biggest complaint about astroturf wasn’t how hard it was, it was that guys were blowing out knees when their cleats got caught in the carpet.

  3. Erik A. says: Feb 22, 2010 8:59 AM

    College football has all of the admirable qualities of the olympics, at least for most of the guys.
    Then they get to the NFL and it becomes a business, not a game.
    Hockey is always a game because the NHL does not know how to run a business.

  4. Dre says: Feb 22, 2010 9:03 AM

    Wow, a meaningful article. Nice job Florio.

  5. Flying elvis says: Feb 22, 2010 9:04 AM

    A lot of pro hockey players would be farmers if they didn’t make it. I think that is part of what makes them down to earth.

  6. homercles82 says: Feb 22, 2010 9:04 AM

    Hockey is very underrated as a sport. It is amazing to watch and actually much more fun than the NFL.

  7. WarrenMoonGOAT says: Feb 22, 2010 9:04 AM

    shut up what a dumb ass article
    i never had a soft spot for hockey, its boring

  8. clavette says: Feb 22, 2010 9:05 AM

    Then why didn’t the nhl players play for free instead of the nhl having a lockout? The olympics and the nhl are 2 completely different things. Get back to football articles please

  9. adeem4578 says: Feb 22, 2010 9:06 AM

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s about time you posted a decent article on here Florio.

  10. .VoxVeritas says: Feb 22, 2010 9:06 AM

    Good thing that nobody in the NHL ever holds out for more money.

  11. NYBearsFan says: Feb 22, 2010 9:09 AM

    Excellent read Mike, thanks.
    Not a huge hockey fan, but I do watch it from time to time, and do have immense respect for all the players, and it does seem to me that there is much more pride in hockey players, than in any other sport’s athletes.

  12. MakingitRain says: Feb 22, 2010 9:10 AM

    Great point. I love hockey and the intensity that the players bring to it. It is a shame it isn’t more popular in the lower 48.

  13. MikeF says: Feb 22, 2010 9:11 AM

    Bravo, Florio.

  14. milehiclown says: Feb 22, 2010 9:12 AM

    Agreed. Thus, you should simply do this blog with no compensation, no sponsorship and zero incentive. Just do it cause you love to write.
    Silly.

  15. Bender says: Feb 22, 2010 9:14 AM

    amen – guys at the top of their game were playing their heats out yesterday, for zero dollars. AND they were doing it mid season.
    Yet NFL players can’t bother to give it their all in a post season allstar game?
    bs.

  16. The Real Shuxion says: Feb 22, 2010 9:17 AM

    That game was awesome last night.
    Although I did not like the difference in SOG. Canada had like 45 and the US had only around 25.
    Games like this is why hockey is better than basketball.

  17. THE OPINION GUY says: Feb 22, 2010 9:18 AM

    Football has slowly been going downhill for years. Hockey is not as popular as football but is a much better game by far.

  18. jgreeds says: Feb 22, 2010 9:20 AM

    I’ve never posted before, but as someone who grew up in a hockey family I gotta agree with Florio (for the first time ever)

  19. boleyn9 says: Feb 22, 2010 9:21 AM

    This is just a pathetic post.

  20. County K 66ers says: Feb 22, 2010 9:24 AM

    The NFL could get a huge lesson in how to officiate a game. The play dictated the outcome not the officiating.

  21. mnmaverick says: Feb 22, 2010 9:31 AM

    There is hypocrisy everywhere though.
    The NHL is made up of foreigners now. It’s best players are native Europeans, Canadiens, etc. Foreigners live a tougher lifestyle than most Americans do. So values and work ethic come naturally.
    The biggest problem is too many folks take this country for granted. Even with the Haiti situation. This country in a recession has given two three times what any other country in the world has contributed as far as aid goes. And we still have people living in Beverly Hills, Bel Aire, or Penthouses on Park Avenue begging the lower incomes to give more while they rake in hundreds of thousands if not millions each year. They basically planted the Democrat in office who supports the high taxes and ridiculous spending that the lower incomes can’t afford and the main reason our ancestors came to America to begin with. To escape the taxation of King George. They care more about Haiti and gay rights than their own damn country or the soldiers being slaughtered in Afghanistan due to a Commander in Chief who is Missing in Action and spending like he lives in Beverly Hills during a recession. We have a society that has issues with sexual harrassment, rape, sexual assault, etc. So the libbies contribute skimpy designer clothing, porn stars, Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, etc. and the general perception that women are sluts and guys are pervs. That’s really productive in the general scheme of things, ain’t it? The bottom line is that our society is screwed in more ways than we care to acknowledge.

  22. coxypoo says: Feb 22, 2010 9:32 AM

    Yeah and its working great for hockey isnt it. Stanley Cup Finals Less than 1% of country tunes in. Superbowl= over 70% of country tunes in. What they should learn from Hockey is not to be like them at all.

  23. imabigdog says: Feb 22, 2010 9:36 AM

    BTW…
    They actually are getting paid. They are still getting their NHL sallary.
    Also… If you don’t think that right behind “I’m doing this for my county” is “Wow If i win a gold medal think of the endorsemts I get” you are crazy.

  24. BLACKQBWHITERB says: Feb 22, 2010 9:36 AM

    Did the USA Olympic Hockey team follow the Rooney Rule?????????????

  25. r8rsfan says: Feb 22, 2010 9:37 AM

    For a perfect example of this look no further than the locker room in Oakland at JaMarcus Russell.
    Hockey players play the game to win, enjoy the competion and are passionate about the sport itself. NBA and NFL players are entertainers approaching the games like it’s another day at work.
    I would love to see Ron Artest run into the crowd at a Philadelphia Flyer game.
    Hockey really is the most pure of all the professional sports IMO.

  26. Adam-Chris Scheftersen says: Feb 22, 2010 9:40 AM

    As long as we’re calling out Florio for selling out… Florio, I see four ad spots on this page. When you made your little agreement with NBC you said there would never be more than two. Sell out.

  27. BwB says: Feb 22, 2010 9:40 AM

    @ Adam-Chris Scheftersen
    ur a huge tool box, stop speaking

  28. kotapug says: Feb 22, 2010 9:42 AM

    And a lot of NFL players would be in jail if they did not make it that is what makes them thugs.

  29. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 9:43 AM

    OK you geniuses, keep telling me how great Canada’s team is and how they are a cinch to win the gold? Looks like they are in serious trouble against Russia on Wednesday even if they beat Germany who usually gives Canada a battle.

  30. Big Stretch says: Feb 22, 2010 9:44 AM

    Didn’t the NHL have a lock out recently over money???

  31. chief says: Feb 22, 2010 9:45 AM

    good to see NBC is still employing puppets.
    Do you think other countries would line up to play an American Football team?? How is it fair to assume we couldn’t field a team of players from the NFL that would play..and play HARD… for country??

  32. andrewgloversays says: Feb 22, 2010 9:47 AM

    great article
    go flyers!
    go eagles!

  33. quannumkid says: Feb 22, 2010 9:48 AM

    No idea how anyone could call hockey boring. (regarding an earlier comment)
    For the people criticizing the article, what were you reading? It wasn’t outrageous or hyperbolic, just an honest look at the difference between pro hockey and football right now. Though I believe that if the NFL and NHL were switched in terms of profitability and popularity, you’d see more NHL players in it for the money and more NFL players in it for the love.

  34. SlimPickens says: Feb 22, 2010 9:48 AM

    Totally agree with you here Florio. NHL also has the best expression of respect for the game when they shake hands after these games in the Olympics and after each playoff series.

  35. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 9:52 AM

    Mike
    It is the EXACT same thing in the 82 game NHL season. Sure these guys on all these teams are trying their guts out for the short tournament for their countries. BUT EXACTLY like the NFL they do NOT show up every NHL game. And they are indeed well paid just like NFL players are.
    NFL has a 16 game qualification round before its 3 maybe 4 playoff games that count.
    NHL has an 82 game regular schedule where 16 of 30 teams(more than half) make the playoffs that will take 4 rounds or possibly 28 more games to win the championship.
    If football was in the Olympics you’d see the players try harder than they do in regular season as well.

  36. SF Saints Fan says: Feb 22, 2010 9:53 AM

    milehiclown:
    “Agreed. Thus, you should simply do this blog with no compensation, no sponsorship and zero incentive. Just do it cause you love to write.
    Silly.”
    Hey milehiclown, I dump on Florio as much as anyone when he deserves it, but you must be one of the newcomers to PFT Planet. I am a lifer and have been following this “blog” pretty much from day one (I can date this by remember which office I was in when I first started “working” while reading a football blog) and in the early years, Florio did do this for nothing. His first real sponsor of note was Sprint and he did not sell out to NBC until last year. Florio paid his dues in pee wee and minor league and now he is a corporate drone to N….B…..C….. and their GE overlords. I hope he continues to keep it real once Comcast takes over.
    And on the hockey thing. I watched it last night after I figured out that the real NBC was doing some freaking ice dancing or some other crap and found the hockey on another channel. Can’t believe people were scalping those tickets for over $1,000 each. It was actually entertaining and the Canadian fans during the third period were just as quiet as the Colts fans were during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. There, I brought this ‘story” full circle.
    I just want to know if any of those hockey players have foreheads as large as Peyton Manning, because if they do, the glare off of that and the ice would lead to snow blindness.

  37. mustbechris says: Feb 22, 2010 9:53 AM

    we’re gonna be talking about that game 20 years from now. instant classic; one of the greatest hockey games i’ve ever watched. ryan miller might be the best goalie in the world.
    i love football, but hockey’s just got something that football doesn’t and i enjoy watching it a lot more.
    now if only the people who run the NHL weren’t completely incompetent. gary bettman is running that league into the ground.

  38. Reasonable says: Feb 22, 2010 9:54 AM

    So your sayin football players need to commit to their sport like hockey players that just had a lockout season?

  39. ham1 says: Feb 22, 2010 9:56 AM

    Good Job Florio.
    Hockey is one of the greatest sports of all time.
    I would love to have seen Ray Lewis with a hockey stick, his speed and attitude…

  40. CT Pats Fan says: Feb 22, 2010 9:57 AM

    I’m not a Hockey fan, but Man, that was pure passion last night. And when it comes to toughness, Football’s a long way behind hockey.

  41. Crowder911 says: Feb 22, 2010 9:59 AM

    i totally agree and like that you brang that up.
    BUT keep in mind that a NFL players career averages 5-7 years.
    on the other side an average hockey career probably 10-15 years.
    i dont get it why the NFL all star game is such a joke, i think the NFL should get back to the players skill competition. in that case you wouldnt get the Chris Johson vs Ted Ginn vs DeSeasn Jackson vs Ocho Cinco talk.
    and the most important things
    – CHANGE THE FREAKING VOTING SYSTEM
    – STOP STARTING THE VOTE IN MID SEASON AND DO THAT DAMN THING AFTER ALL IS SAID DAND DONE

  42. ChiliDawg says: Feb 22, 2010 10:00 AM

    Having played both sports (hockey at a much higher level than football), I can tell you that I certainly loved playing hockey more than I did football. It is simply a much faster game and the action doesn’t feel like it stops during a period of play.
    A back injury forced me to stop playing hockey altogether and I have a fair number of “legacy” physical problems (back, ankle, knees) that I’ve been told will only get worse as I age into my fifties. However, given the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Other than Christ and my wife and son, nothing gave me the kind of joy I experienced while I was on the ice.

  43. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 10:00 AM

    County K 66ers says:
    The NFL could get a huge lesson in how to officiate a game. The play dictated the outcome not the officiating.

    You are right about the refs letting the players play and decide the game on their own. even more so in the russia/czech rep game.
    BUT that is NOT how midget NYC lawyer and commissioner Gary Bettman has instructed NHL refs to call games during the NHL regular season and even playoffs! It is quite the opposite with refs calling penalties for absolutely no reason, chitzy calls and many 5 on 3s each and every game.

  44. Reasonable says: Feb 22, 2010 10:00 AM

    To mnmaverick
    Boy you have a lot to learn. I can tell by your post your just a kid. If you are a grown up, then I’m sorry for you.

  45. bspurloc says: Feb 22, 2010 10:03 AM

    This article is quite racist………
    Funny as hell though……
    Florio should list out all the quitters of the NFL then we can all envision them playing Hockey…
    Randy Moss
    Plaxico Burress
    Donovan McNabb……………………

  46. emoser says: Feb 22, 2010 10:04 AM

    “Um. Have you seen an NHL All Star game? No one tries in those.”
    Um. Have you seen the NFL Pro Bowl game? Enough said.

  47. igor79 says: Feb 22, 2010 10:06 AM

    I love hockey, but I barely follow it during football season.
    There are too many games for any of them to matter. Hockey playoffs are epic though and I have had a lot of fun watching Olympics.
    Although I have to say the helmet and pads argument is a silly one. The reason football players have more pads is because of how much more dangerous it is. People were dying left and right in football before they made serious changes in helmets. The NFL is talking about getting rid of helmets so its LESS dangerous.

  48. Tony DeHoff says: Feb 22, 2010 10:07 AM

    Totally agree with the point of the article. Well said. I think it’s great that the next article is about a guy who has the love of the game that you are writing about. Tim Tebow has huge flaws in his game but his heart and desire should not be questioned. A lot of “pro” players could learn from not only the NHL but from Tim Tebow as well.

  49. BBrophy1 says: Feb 22, 2010 10:09 AM

    49ers Joe Staley tweeted “lovin this usa canada hockey game, its an all star game the players actually care about..lovin this lazy sunday”
    Nice shot at the Pro Bowl Joe!

  50. mnmaverick says: Feb 22, 2010 10:11 AM

    My understanding is that5 hockey players have to supply their own equipment for the most part.
    Their sticks, helmets, pads, etc. come out of their wallets. Most other sports have the teams supplying everything.

  51. OscarMooseFarmer says: Feb 22, 2010 10:12 AM

    Wow…maverick..wow..
    People didn’t move to america to get away from taxes. They did it to get away from religious opression. The kind of religious opression that many conservatives are advocating in the face of practices that doesn’t fit with their definitions of christianity.
    If the taxes of King George was what bothered the first american settlers then why would they name their colony Georgetown?
    Now taxation did have a big part in the american revolution. But it was more the disconnect in that the american colonies were taxated but not given representation in parliament that was the main beef..not the taxation itself.
    And do you really think life is tougher in Canada, Sweden or Finland than it is in america?
    Son..put the bottle down, leave the bunker and go out and see the world from a new perspective…it’s a great place.

  52. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 10:17 AM

    This American team roster is full of real good and up NHL players! All of them! This team would beat that Miracle on Ice team by 10 goals a game! Ryan Miller is one of the best goalies in the world!

  53. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 10:22 AM

    mnmaverick says:
    The NHL is made up of foreigners now. It’s best players are native Europeans, Canadiens, etc. Foreigners live a tougher lifestyle than most Americans do. So values and work ethic come naturally.

    Tougher lifestyle than Americans? You think it’s that “socialism” that those other countries have that cause this “tougher lifestyle”?
    How is growing up in New York City or Philadelphia different from growing up in Toronto or Montreal like many of those “foreigners” who play in the NHL come from?

  54. mnmaverick says: Feb 22, 2010 10:26 AM

    Reasonable says:
    February 22, 2010 10:00 AM
    To mnmaverick
    Boy you have a lot to learn. I can tell by your post your just a kid. If you are a grown up, then I’m sorry for you.
    ———————————————————————
    I’m not a naive liberal. I have values and honor personal responsibility. I understand history in what this country has gone through to get where it is and how liberalism has caused a deterioration of values, personal responsibility, and COMMON SENSE. You have to be living in a cave not to see it.

  55. mnmaverick says: Feb 22, 2010 10:34 AM

    Want to compare growing up in Russia, Czech, Finland, Sweden, Norway, etc. to growing up in USA or Canada? Educate yourself before you speak.

  56. Drat says: Feb 22, 2010 10:37 AM

    I remember an item written bazillion years ago, the journalist was marveling that NHL hockey players stay on the ice after practice, just for the fun of it.
    I had a roommate in college who turned out to be an Olympian (Calgary 88, Norway) and the dude just totally loved hockey, not the way other athletes love their sport, but in some crazy visceral fundamental way.

  57. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 10:38 AM

    most impressive thing yesterday in those games was in the russia/chech rep game.
    ovechkin’s hit and obliteration of jagr at center ice turning into a russian goal as play went back in the opposite direction and totally turned around the game and maybe this olympic hockey tournament.

  58. John Spagnola says: Feb 22, 2010 10:42 AM

    “flimsy motorcycle helmets”
    Motorcycle helmets offer far superior head protection then any hockey or football helmet. There’s nothing “flimsy” about them.
    Also, quite the funny contradiction you have going on here and with the Myron Rolle piece.

  59. .VoxVeritas says: Feb 22, 2010 10:42 AM

    “49ers Joe Staley tweeted “lovin this usa canada hockey game, its an all star game the players actually care about..lovin this lazy sunday”
    Nice shot at the Pro Bowl Joe!”
    He’s just mad because he has to buy tickets to the Pro Bowl every year.

  60. mnmaverick says: Feb 22, 2010 10:43 AM

    Ever hear of “The Boston Tea Party”?
    Sure it was a combination of things but taxation was a big part of it.
    I swear a good lot of you never were educated in History or Social Studies.
    You just talk out your asses.
    Ya rip Florio on his own damn forum on a daily basis despite the fact that he and his staff give you the priviledge of posting here.
    Like I said class, values, and personal responsibility have been thrown out the window and you little trolls just serve to prove it.

  61. Big Stretch says: Feb 22, 2010 10:49 AM

    Are you saying that the Olympics are the equivalent of exhibition games?

  62. Rdowb says: Feb 22, 2010 10:58 AM

    Hockey legalizes fighting. Football does not. Hockey is game of individuals played on a team. Football is a team game played by individuals. They’re different and are good in their own ways.
    The NHL owners were the ones who locked out the players, very similar to what is going on with the NFL CBA right now.
    Hockey’s problem is that the 45th game of a season is as pointless as the 23rd. They play too many games for any to meaningful. A team doesn’t need to panic unless they drop 6 or 7 in a row. Not to mention the quality of your average NHL game is not nearly the same as was the Canada vs USA. It’s actually quite boring.
    Football is a game to simmers for periods of time and then has huge peaks of excitement. It’s an easier game to watch. But when it’s boring it can be really boring.
    And there are different values based on where you’re from. I just don’t think it has a huge effect in the NHL like the NFL.
    Hockey is a game that is taught to be played on edge, very aggressive and angry. Players do things like Todd Bertuzzi people and thug it out. What kind of a non-combat sport says it’s ok to slug a guy or hack him with a stick? You’d get benched by your coach if you did that in football.

  63. shamalamadingdong says: Feb 22, 2010 11:01 AM

    Bob S. says:
    February 22, 2010 10:17 AM
    Ryan Miller is one of the best goalies in the world!
    Not one of the best. THE best. S.O.B. stole that game from us. See you Sunday!

  64. thecrazytomato says: Feb 22, 2010 11:02 AM

    Actually OscarMooseFarmer
    If you want to get into a history lesson, Not all people came over here because of religion oppression. Mass. Pen. Maryland where 3 states founded on religious principals. Mass. being puritans Pen. Being quakers, and Maryland Catholics. Most people came over to America to “strike it rich” get a small piece of land and farm it, and hope to get some money. “All your southern states. Virginia-Georgia. Pretty soon the Northern states I.e Mass. broke off and created little states like Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
    Granted the problem to occupy the land over here wasn’t taxation, but it did play a little part iin the war.

  65. boleyn9 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:03 AM

    Bob S. says:
    Tougher lifestyle than Americans? You think it’s that “socialism” that those other countries have that cause this “tougher lifestyle”?
    How is growing up in New York City or Philadelphia different from growing up in Toronto or Montreal like many of those “foreigners” who play in the NHL come from?
    —-
    Why do you think people from countries like Russia want to come here, Bob? Because even the poor in America are fat. His point goes well beyond a couple of Canadian cities you mention. You need to wake up and take a look around you, my friend.
    mnmaverick is spot on.

  66. severs28 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:07 AM

    # Flying elvis says: February 22, 2010 9:04 AM
    A lot of pro hockey players would be farmers if they didn’t make it. I think that is part of what makes them down to earth.
    Yeah and a lot of pro football players would be in jail or dead if they didn’t make it. What is your point?

  67. TheDPR says: Feb 22, 2010 11:11 AM

    This is for many commenters, not for you, Mike.
    There is a difference in comparing the two sports of football and hockey, and in comparing the two leagues.
    NFL >>>>>>>>NHL
    That said, hockey is a much more exciting game to watch live and a much harder sport to play, especially at the non-paid level.
    College hockey is way more exciting to see live than college football, and a much greater % of the players are in college for an education because most pro prospects in hockey play in minor leagues rather than college (some do both).
    Ice hockey is a game of grit and heart and athleticism. American football can be, but too often isn’t.
    Both of them blow snoozefests like basketball and baseball out of the water, though.

  68. theravenlives2 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:12 AM

    Bravo, Mike. Great post.
    I love my Ravens, but I gotta admit that what Florio says is true. For a passion for the game, there are no players in the world like hockey players.
    I get to cover high school hockey for a local paper. These kids get up at 5 a.m. so they can be at practice at 6:30 AM!! They practice on a sheet of ice at a local rink that THEY partially have to pay for. How many high school football players would pay to play? Yeah, they may get a free sweater, but they have to buy all of the other equipment and skates. If their stick breaks, the team doesn’t buy them a new one. They buy their own.
    Last night was awesome to watch. Those guys busted their asses because they remembered the words of the great Herb Brooks.”You’re playing for the name of the front of the sweater and not the one on the back.” As an NFL season ticket holder, who is gonna be the loser if there’s a strike? If won’t be the owners and it won’t be the players. It will be me and millions of other fans (yes, I know the NHL had a lockout a few years ago) who have long been forgetten by the NFL players and management.
    As for the Buffoon that said that hockey players would be a bunch of farmers if they weren’t playing hockey, how about your average NFL player? Most of them would be dropping the fries at McDonalds. Think before you speak, man!
    When life gets tough for me, I put on the movie “Miracle” and watch the greatest sports tale ever told. It’s about a man who believed he could take a bunch of snot-nosed college boys and beat the best professional hockey team in the world and shock the world. Damned if he didn’t do it, too. It was sports at its purest, most beautiful and will never be duplicated. When folks ask me why I love sports so much, I let them borrow the DVD. Rest in Peace, Herb. Although it wasn’t as momentus as 1980, you’d have been a proud man last night.

  69. gopher says: Feb 22, 2010 11:13 AM

    The comment of one of the posters was just wrong, he stated that “if they were not playing hockey they would all be farmers”, please let me know what 75% or 80% of the NFL players would be if they did not play football. They might say what college the football player attended but how many did graduate with a degree that was useful or a degree at all and you can add the NBA to that mix.

  70. raiders177 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:20 AM

    Miller was a beast last night and Brodeur didn’t look all that great. I’d be surprised if they didn’t go with Luongo from here on out.

  71. Rickah99 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:24 AM

    Fantastic article Florio! Great observations regarding hockey, and it’s impact worldwide.
    I wish NFLers were “man” enough to get 30-50 stitches then play the rest of the game. No, their return would be considered “doubtful” with a pinkie.
    NFL has the lucrative TV contracts…NHL is the superior Sport!

  72. RacerX says: Feb 22, 2010 11:28 AM

    Good to know that we have a self-important bloviator ready to take over if O’Reilly retires. Nice work Florio.

  73. mad555 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:29 AM

    Florio, have you ever played football past highschool if at all? I didn’t think so. Let me just put it to you like this. The amount of pain in 1 football weekend is = to the amount of pain of 1 NHL season for all NHL teams put together. Please don’t try to compare figure skaters to bulls.

  74. Deepstylebronco says: Feb 22, 2010 11:30 AM

    Mnmaverick let me just respond briefly to your posts. The coloonies were not founded by ‘our ancestors’ as a reaction to taxation. As others have noted, the colonies were founded for two primary reasons: religious antagonism (some felt their very intense views were being opressed) and economic opportunity. Not to evade taxes and certainly not king George I-III who were not in power. The colonies were formed under James I (hence Jamestown) and the Charleses. Carolina takes its name therefrom. The revolt was about taxation WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. George III refused under any circumstances to consider the colonies districts deserving MPs and thence began the revolt that gave is our great nation. One other thing: us ‘libbies’ as you call us are Americans too. We love our country every bit as much as you do. We were bien here(or not) raise our children, work hard and pay our taxes. We vote. I can understand many of your complaints (if not take your positions) but the venom you spew at us, the President, and the calumny you so easily castigate the whole nation with is utterly extreme. I do not so hate you or my political opposites that I no longer see the good in them or so demonize them that I can be so ugly toward them. We are all in this together. We can disagree, do so even heatedly, but give each other at least the good faith that the other isn’t simply evil or venal. Let’s at least do this with humanity and generosity of character.
    All that said, hockey is a beautiful sport.

  75. Joe in Toronto, Canada says: Feb 22, 2010 11:37 AM

    First and foremost, congratulations to Team USA on last nights victory. Miller was simply amazing and was clearly the difference in the game.
    The USA won the battle, the war however, is still ahead.
    Mike: great article. Unfortunately, ignorance (in the true sense of the word) is rampant on this site and not all understand what you’re saying.
    That’s not a slam on anyone here, just the truth.

  76. simple_simon1 says: Feb 22, 2010 11:47 AM

    Good article
    Love both sports.
    Good game last night USA. You beat my Canadians and Miller was amazing.
    Better hope the Canadians don’t make it past the Russians though because aside from Miller, you were soundly beat.
    Luongo will be in net next time if we meet again.
    I hope we can make it past Russia.

  77. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 12:03 PM

    boleyn9 says:
    Why do you think people from countries like Russia want to come here, Bob? Because even the poor in America are fat. His point goes well beyond a couple of Canadian cities you mention. You need to wake up and take a look around you, my friend.
    mnmaverick is spot on.

    Is he? Then why are there thousands of Americans now living in Toronto alone? BESIDES living in large Canadian cities is no different than living in large American cities(except being a little safer) OR living in country Canadian cities and similar ones in the USA is no different either.
    The only reason any of those players (on every team in this Olympic hockey tournament) is because they are excellent hockey players whether they learned the sport in USA, Canada, Russia, Slovakia, etc.
    Switzerland took Canada to a shootout. Switzerland’s entire population has a higher standard of living than Canada or the USA.
    This hockey tournament has nothing to do with socialism or capitalism! Almost all of the NHL players from all these countries are millionaires or soon will be.

  78. simple_simon1 says: Feb 22, 2010 12:05 PM

    mad555:
    “The amount of pain in 1 football weekend is = to the amount of pain of 1 NHL season for all NHL teams put together.”
    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!
    You are either very naive or absolutely stupid. Both sports are hard hitting. Both are great in their own ways. Travelling at 20-30 mph and hitting a wall, player, etc is not less pain than taking a blind sided hit in the NFL. If you think so you are clearly dillusional. Running is much less hard on the knees than skating is as well. If you don’t agree take a physiology class.

  79. godfather says: Feb 22, 2010 12:07 PM

    Good God Florio, did you just compare Astroturf to ice?
    As has already been stated, the complaints about Astroturf are due to the fact that extreme traction of the shoe to the turf make the player’s legs more prone to bending and twisting. On grass, this does not occur as often and it’s clearly not as likely to occur on ice. There’s a reason why twisted knees and ankles occur much more often in football and soccer than in hockey.
    Seriously, how are you employed? If I was as incompetent at my profession as you were in yours, I would have been fired a while ago.

  80. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 12:08 PM

    theravenlives2
    It’s about a man who believed he could take a bunch of snot-nosed college boys and beat the best professional hockey team in the world and shock the world.

    In 1980 NHL hockey players and all professional hockey players were NOT allowed to play in the Olympics. AND DID NOT PLAY!

  81. Enjoysatan says: Feb 22, 2010 12:08 PM

    I concur, great post Mike. Hockey players are the most underrated athletes.

  82. Percy Nugz says: Feb 22, 2010 12:10 PM

    What a great game last night. I am a casual hockey fan and nothing gets better than Olympic hockey. I agree with Joe from Toronto, Ryan Millers play was stellar. He was taking shots from every angle against a freaking all-star team on steriods. It was a shame that this game wasn’t on NBC which brodcasts in hd (if you do have MSNBC in HD your cable bill must be 800$ a month). in conclusion. HOCKEY RULES!!!!

  83. dfresh429 says: Feb 22, 2010 12:13 PM

    I love both football and Hockey, but hockey players are much more passionate about their profession.
    One of the main reasons that hockey players are superior to football players?
    Hockey players only celebrate after a score..
    Football players? They dance around like goons if they stop a guy for a 3 yard gain…

  84. Ottawa49ers says: Feb 22, 2010 12:13 PM

    nice post Florio.
    You won’t see any athletes playing harder and through more injuries than in olympic or playoff hockey. There are times in the regular season where certain players do take the night off (see Kovalev, Jagr, Yashin etc.)
    Pro hockey players definitely play for pride and the love of the game more than other athletes. However the NHL might be the most poorly run league in the world and the bobble head midget weasel Gary Bettman could definitely learn a thing or two from the NFL.

  85. scream_stereo_scream says: Feb 22, 2010 12:49 PM

    First off mad555, you have obviously never played a second of hockey in your life…NHL players get banged up just as much if not more than NFL players do, and still play through the pain…sometimes even the next night, not an entire week later.
    And Bob S. I’m pretty sure the USSR team was made up of players that played professionally in the USSR

  86. rawdogg says: Feb 22, 2010 12:51 PM

    Wow I am so surprised not one person here has mentioned the bombardment of commercials in an NFL game?!? I DVR every game and begin watching them halfway through so I can fast forward through commercials.
    Also I need to say this. The 2 minute warning has to be the dumbest thing in all sports. I friggin hate everything about it.
    I love my Lions, but hockey just doesnt have as many commecial breaks as football

  87. Rickah99 says: Feb 22, 2010 12:57 PM

    @mad555,
    I played both sports, all through high school and 2 seasons each in D-1…there is NO way football is more grueling than hockey. I’ll take 2-a-days in 100 degree heat, than full gear wind sprints and day of the week….oh, and twice on Sunday.
    Even at the Pro level, as I said, if an NFL player is hurt(not injured, big difference) he’s most likely done for the game(or longer)…whereas in hockey players block a 100mph slapshot with their face: lose 2-5 teeth, require 40 stitches and are back out on the ice to finish the game. The NFL wins in TV contracts and that’ it….oh and Felons!

  88. Adam-Chris Scheftersen says: Feb 22, 2010 1:00 PM

    BwB says:
    February 22, 2010 9:40 AM
    @ Adam-Chris Scheftersen
    ur a huge tool box, stop speaking
    ——————————
    You’re an incredible idiot. I wasn’t speaking at all. I was typing. And hockey sucks donkey balls. Go away.

  89. filthymcnasty says: Feb 22, 2010 1:23 PM

    they could learn alot from watching Blue Mountain State, too.

  90. purpleguy says: Feb 22, 2010 1:24 PM

    What an entertaining game. Seems like Canada has a collection of superstars, whereas the USA formed a “team”. The “hot goalie” excuse is getting a bit old though. Sure Canada is probably better, but their defensemen seemed a bit slow, the power play weak, and most important, there aren’t enough role players/grinders to cover the rear’s of the superstars (ie, Crosby a negative three plus/minus rating). The Canadian’s prior game went into overtime too, so its not like the juggernaut hit this lucky USA speedbump.
    No one seems to be talking about the old hockey player injury/disability angle Mike noted. The prior union regime pilfered the players union and retirement contribution plans — the NFL program, which isn’t great, looks like gold compared to the benefits offered old NHLers. You just don’t hear them whining about retirement benefits, just like you didn’t hear them whining about injuries when they played.

  91. DoomsDayD75 says: Feb 22, 2010 1:30 PM

    They should make football an olympic sport, then we could see who really has a passion for football and their country. Until that happens I won’t have a good reason to pay attention to the Olympics anyways. It’s so boring.

  92. Occam says: Feb 22, 2010 1:41 PM

    “In 1980 NHL hockey players and all professional hockey players were NOT allowed to play in the Olympics. AND DID NOT PLAY!”
    Bob, I’ve got a nice bridge you might be interested in………….

  93. wrath4771 says: Feb 22, 2010 1:47 PM

    There isn’t anything more beautiful than Plumpic hockey – I’ll be blashpemous and say it’s even better than NHL playoff hockey. Watching these guys give it all for their country – even the highest paid professional players – is something to behold. Obviusly NFL players give it their all during the playoffs, but something about hockey translates that feeling better than football.

  94. freelancealchemy says: Feb 22, 2010 1:49 PM

    It was one good game.
    Sorry, but everyone who says Hockey has some of the best players around, I disagree.
    They’re playing for a gold medal and their respective country. Also, Canada lives off of hockey, so to beat them at the sport they are crazed off of adds some intensity.
    No, Rugby players should be revered among us all. They play football w/o pads. $%#$ that, lol.

  95. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 2:16 PM

    scream_stereo_scream says:
    And Bob S. I’m pretty sure the USSR team was made up of players that played professionally in the USSR

    they were the red army team. of course they all they did was play hockey but there were no pro leagues at that time in communist russia. as i said though the olympics did not allow pro athletes in any sport to compete. that included all the other teams in it. canada at that time sent an amateur team like the other countries did. in fact canada did not play usa in that olympics. but looking at this usa team today – these players are already proven at the highest level of hockey in the world in the nhl. this is a much better american team than ever before and now even sit with the easiest trip to the final 4. usa will play winner of belarus/switzerland.
    Quarter-Finals Schedule
    Wednesday, February 24
    Q1 USA vs. Switzerland/Belarus 3pm et
    Q2 Sweden vs. Slovakia/Norway
    Q3 Russia vs. Canada/Germany (UBC Thunderbird Arena)
    Q4 Finland vs. Czech Republic/Latvia

  96. scream_stereo_scream says: Feb 22, 2010 3:02 PM

    Bob S. I’m assuming you’ve never heard of the Soviet League? CSKA Moscow also known as the “Red Army” team were the league champs 32 times. The 1980 USSR team was composed of players from that league (for the most part teams CSKA and Dynamo)…I’m not aware if they were compensated for their play though…which I guess would technically not make them professionals…

  97. VonClausewitz says: Feb 22, 2010 3:05 PM

    The difference between other Big 4 sports and hockey is that hockey is a culture, not just a game. Here, in Canada, you grow up permeated by this culture. The players go all out because it’s a matter of pride. It harkens back to time on the pond or playing road hockey with the team from 2 streets over. There’s a territorial bragging rights thing that gets baked into your psyche from your earliest childhood. Ask any Canadian hockey player what their dreams are and they’d say win the Stanley Cup and play in the Olympics. That’s just how it is here. There’s no lack of desire to compete at this level. It’s a huge privilege to be asked to play. And it helps that the Olympic game is better than the pro game. There’s something more pure and exciting about it that isn’t matched in the NHL.
    Re: the outcome of the game. I’m glad they lost. It gives them more games to gel and a bit of a motivation. Plus the question of which goalie to ride was always simmering in the background. Now there’s a going to be a little more clarity.
    Kudos to the Americans and Miller for the challenge. You’ll see us again.

  98. tcelser says: Feb 22, 2010 3:44 PM

    As someone who’s played both sports for years, I must say that I would give anything to play hockey while I only ever played football for fun. Hockey ha a way of reasching deep inside you and making everything all right. The smell of the ice, the touch of the puck on your stick, the feel of your skates carving through the ice… It’s something you can live for.
    As for the injury situation, playing hockey has literally destroyed my body. I have two bad knees, a blown out shoulder, broken bones and concussions. But I decided to play through those injuries, just as many of my teammates did, because we loved the game. I don’t see football players playing with a torn ACL, broken arms, or seperated shoulders.
    If I were given the chance to play in the NHL for just enough money to live by, I wouldn’t even hesitate.

  99. Beezer says: Feb 22, 2010 3:57 PM

    Florio,
    I have been a lifetime hockey fan but your article is based solely on driving people to watching the network you now work for. You are a sellout and you were at your best when you were independent and posting rumors and not your opinions or predictions. Let’s face it your predictions were based on your favorite teams, Pittsburgh and Washington. You couldn’t make it more obvious that you are a steelers fan when you post articles from Steelers insider magazines.

  100. Bob S. says: Feb 22, 2010 5:18 PM

    Beezer says:
    Florio,
    I have been a lifetime hockey fan but your article is based solely on driving people to watching the network you now work for.

    nbc once carried nhl hockey before mike florio (i think) was even born. back in the original 6 days.

  101. CanadianVikingFan says: Feb 22, 2010 7:14 PM

    I love how some Americans think Canada is like a whole different world.

  102. theravenlives2 says: Feb 22, 2010 7:39 PM

    theravenlives2
    It’s about a man who believed he could take a bunch of snot-nosed college boys and beat the best professional hockey team in the world and shock the world.

    In 1980 NHL hockey players and all professional hockey players were NOT allowed to play in the Olympics. AND DID NOT PLAY!
    ————————————————
    Umm, Bob…..
    Those guys were supposedly in the Soviet Army, and they did indeed spend hour upon hour training…to play hockey.
    The Soviet Union had NO Professional league, and the Communists wouldn’t let the players play “professionally”. If you believe those plays weren’t professional, then you are truly niave. MANY of them went on to play in the NHL a few years later when pros were allowed in the Olympics. Hell, they hadn’t lost an Olympic game since the 1960’s!
    Again, Bob, you are another one who proves that one should do some research before one opens his mouth.

  103. ala1 says: Feb 22, 2010 8:04 PM

    scream_stereo_scream says:
    February 22, 2010 3:02 PM
    Bob S. I’m assuming you’ve never heard of the Soviet League? CSKA Moscow also known as the “Red Army” team were the league champs 32 times. The 1980 USSR team was composed of players from that league (for the most part teams CSKA and Dynamo)…I’m not aware if they were compensated for their play though…which I guess would technically not make them professionals.

    Oh, they were most definitely compensated. They were actaully members of the real Red Army – that’s how the Soviets got away with their ‘they’re not full-time’ hockey players scam!

  104. JayPhilly says: Feb 22, 2010 10:01 PM

    I find it amusing, as someone who has played both (high school football, college hockey) no one whom has played hockey has commented that they’d rather play football. What I have to say to this is DUH.
    I love both sports, but when it comes to playing? Football = 7 second of live action, 35 seconds of nothing. Time and again. I used to play football in hopes of being in shape for hockey, but by college I knew that training for football would not get me in anything resembling hockey shape at that level. Hockey is a team sport, with only the backup goaltender (hopefully) failing to contribute.
    In football, at best you play either offense OR defense and SOME special teams. Football is not a team sport, it is a game of two teams playing for one goal. Don’t believe me? Ask Peyton how he could have stopped the Chargers in the playoffs last year. He couldn’t, because he’s not on the defensive team.
    When you play hockey, if you turn the puck over, or a teammate does, you must play defense as a unit, and attempt to create a turnover so you can transition to offense. Everyone on the team has a role, and for the most part everyone is happy to have their role. You’ll never hear a hockey player say anything like Joey Porter’s “You’re not on the field enough to talk to me.” quote regarding special teamers, because third and fourth liners in the NHL are not your backups, they’re your teammates. You play for one another. Nothing a top scorer loves more than to see his third and fourth line players on the ice defending a lead.
    Football is a great Sunday activity, but hockey is a lifestyle. I never played hockey for glory, though being cheered was great, I played hockey because I love the sport and the teammates and the camaraderie. Football is a sport where so many play just for their own personal glory…it can never compare.
    As for toughness, don’t even try. Mario Lemieux once took a puck to the face, got 15 stitches, lost three teeth, and was back out in 10 minutes to score the game winning goal. In the NFL, you’d be questionable to return. In MLB, you’d be on the 15 day DL. In the NBA you’d probably be out for the season or you’d come back wearing some ridiculous Rip Hamilton mask.

  105. Iron Wolf says: Feb 23, 2010 10:27 AM

    Interesting article Florio.
    Hockey is indeed more a way of life – it’s much older than any of the other major sports and has greater and deeper cultural significance in Canada, Europe and Russia. In short, it’s an honor, not a marketing opportunity, to represent your country. The hockey culture in the US is pretty good too, and the reverence that other countries have for the sport rubs off on us. It’s a game played mostly by humble, charitable guys and I hope that never changes.
    I understand why the NBA is more popular – basketball is a game more easily played by more people, but that in no way translates to mean that basketball is a better sport. No game in which you as a viewer can miss everything but the last 5 minutes could be.
    But we’re talking about the NFL here, where hype is everything and true substance sometimes takes a back seat. I love football, don’t get me wrong, but now we have Super Bowl programming that starts 6 and a half f*cking hours before kickoff and now a 3-day, prime time draft. Game telecasts are 10% actual action and 90% huddling up and truck commercials. Enough. Love the NFL, but don’t hate hockey just because it’s something purer.

  106. Outburst78 says: Feb 23, 2010 3:01 PM

    Okay, Florio. You’ve written some real stupid articles in the past, and I’ve given you grief over most of them. So I’ll give you props for this one. Nice article. My skin just crawled while I was writing that last sentence.

  107. Occam says: Feb 23, 2010 9:12 PM

    CanadianVikingFan says:
    “I love how some Americans think Canada is like a whole different world.”
    You guys have computers in Canada???????? ;)

  108. blowinanutt says: Feb 24, 2010 9:26 PM

    Great article! very true! I love football ,but hockey is a way of life.And those of you that think it’s boring just don’t get it. p.s. hockey players are much tougher than football players. oh i got a hangnail,i’ll have to miss a couple games! ha!

  109. zllabnkcoc says: Feb 25, 2010 5:48 AM

    You’re a moron, Florio. How can you compare playing for an NFL team to playing for your COUNTRY in the OLYMPICS? And it’s nothing new to anyone that the NFL is the most mercenary league in the world.

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