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Woody's Winners, NFL Week 2

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NFL WEEK TWO: For those who missed last week's column, Woody's Winners is written with highest respect in a similar style to that of the most entertaining football prognosticator of my youth, Leonard Postero, host of Leonard’s Losers. I went a respectable 8-5 through last Sunday afternoon’s games, but then fell apart to lose all three night games on Sunday and Monday to end Week 1 with an even 8-8 record. More day games! Do ya hear me, NFL? Oh, you’ve got your hands full with referee positions and the “process of the catch”? Fine, then. Here are Woody's Winners for Week 2.

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BALTIMORE & CINCINNATI

The Bengals bungled away a possible win in Week 1 with an interception and two fumbles, which tempered an attack that outgained the Patriots by 50+ yards. Rest assured that the Ravens have studied film of those turnovers and are devising schemes to peck the eyes out of the Tigers. But Owens and Ocho will have fans living on the air in Cincinnati as they adopt a pass-first attitude that will keep Baltimore from opening the season 2-0. In the Poe House, the Ravens rule, but at Paul Brown…

Woody’s Winner, in a close one: Cincinnati

FACT: Baltimore led the NFL last season with 1,094 penalty yards. The next-closest AFC team had only 920.

Click "more" to see my picks for the other 15 NFL games in Week 2.

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TAMPA BAY @ CAROLINA

The Bucs pulled out what promises to be a rare victory last week at home against the Browns. In Week 2, Tampa Bay goes looking for an angry pantheon of Panthers, and they’ll find them. Carolina QB Matt Moore proved he wasn’t quite ready for prime time, with 5 turnovers (3 INT, 2 FUM) and a concussion to boot. Still, without a reliable sub in the Panther dock, he’s expected to start in Week 2. The Giants wore down the Cats last week and outscored them 17-2 in the last half, so expect a Tampa tamp-down as things turn sour in Sweet Carolina.

Woody’s Winner: Tampa Bay

FACT: Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman threw for a season-best 321 yards at Carolina last season, but five interceptions cost his team the game.

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BUFFALO @ GREEN BAY

Watching Pack QB Aaron Rodgers dodging and ducking defenders and chucking the ball here and there last week made it obvious who his mentor was. Watching Green Bay LB Clay Matthews made me wonder if he’s human. Add several thousand cheesehead fans to the mix, and the Bills are in for a long day in Wisconsin. While the opportunistic Bison defense may grab a few INTs, it won’t take long before Buffalo learns that life isn’t always fun when you’re lactose intolerant.

Woody’s Winner: Green Bay

FACT: No member of the Bills had more than 40 combined rushing/receiving/returning yards last week.

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MIAMI @ MINNESOTA

Minnesota’s had 10 days’ rest since posting a loss in the first regular season game of the season, but Brett Favre should be in better form with a week of legit play under his belt. Miami hasn’t opened the season with back-to-back wins since 2002, and although Dolphins are smart, there’s not a fish in the ocean that doesn’t expect that streak to continue. Rose Nylund and Mary Richards will be partying all night to celebrate a Viking victory in Week 2.

Woody’s Winner: Minnesota

FACT: Don Shula won 274 games as Miami head coach. None of his replacements has won more than 43.

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CHICAGO @ DALLAS

Last week, the Bears did all they could do to lose to Detroit. (If I were Commissioner, both teams would be 0-1 heading into Week 2.) They’ll have to play much better against a squad of Cowboys eager to put on a better show than they did in a loss to the Redskins. Expect the Stars to extract revenge by blowing the Windy City team halfway across Texas.

Woody’s Winner: Dallas

FACT: The Cowboys have a Week 4 bye, tied for the earliest in the league. The 13-game stretch after that includes back-to-back games against last year’s Super Bowl contenders, the Saints and Colts.

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PHILADELPHIA @ DETROIT

“L” is indeed for Lions, a team that rushed 21 times for 20 yards in Week 1. (If my public-school math holds up, that’s less than one yard a carry.) With Kevin Kolb banged up, Philly’s Michael Vick will get his first regular-season start since returning to the NFL, and this will cause all sorts of match-up problems for Detroit. To Motown’s credit, the team did deliver some big hits on defense last week, but with their own QB injured as well, Rocky will deliver a KO punch to keep the Kitties winless.

Woody’s Winner: Philadelphia

FACT: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford missed 6 games last season with a separated left shoulder, and may miss similar games this year with the separated right shoulder he suffered last week.

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ARIZONA @ ATLANTA

Alphabetically, Arizona and Atlanta come first in the standings, but both teams have things to prove heading into Week 2. Luckily for the Falcons, QB Matt Ryan has lost only one of 14 starts at home. While the Blackbirds do expect their rushing offense to return to form, their underrated passing attack may prove the difference. If the Cardinals fumble 7 times (losing 4) like they did last week against the Rams, however, expect (Michael) Turner Classic Movies to be in the end zone all day long.

Woody’s Winner: Atlanta

FACT: Cards QB Derek Anderson targeted Larry Fitzgerald 15 times last week, but the team’s #1 WR only hauled in three catches for 43 yards and a touch.

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KANSAS CITY @ CLEVELAND

In the last four games between the Chiefs and Browns, the average score has been 36-33. This week’s match-up is expected to be a lower-scoring affair, particularly on the KC side of the ball, but either team might explode for points in any given week. The Arrowheads’ Week 1 victory against San Diego said more about the Chargers’ woes than the Chiefs’ ability, and that will be proven when the Dawg Pound sinks its teeth into some Native hindquarter.

Woody’s Winner: Cleveland

FACT: Cleveland was the only AFC team with triple-digit losses (103) in the 2000s.

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PITTSBURGH @ TENNESSEE

Dixie was no match for Dixon last week, as sub-Roth QB Dennis Dixon helped his team edge Atlanta in overtime to seal the Steelers’ 8th consecutive victory on Kickoff Weekend. In Week 2, Pittsburgh faces another southern team, the Tennessee Titans. RB Chris Johnson rushed for 154 yards and two TDs in Week 1, but will he be able to duplicate that effort? Pitt’s D looks as tough as nails, but Tennessee will find a way to win at home.

Woody’s Winner: Tennessee

FACT: Pittsburgh’s OT victory against Atlanta last week marked the third consecutive game between those two teams that went longer than regulation time. The teams are each 1-1-1 in those games.

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SEATTLE @ DENVER

The Seahawks invented a new move called the “49er Smackdown” in Week 1, and I’m as curious as any to see how they follow up that gem 5,000 feet up. Neither the Ocean Birds nor the Buckin’ Bunch had much success running the ball last week. In the statistics-can-be-misleading department, the Broncos are 15-5 in their last 20 games against Seattle, but most of those games are from 2001 and before, when both teams were in the same division and played each other twice a year. Still, it’s difficult to pick against Rocky Mountain High at home.

Woody’s Winner: Denver

FACT: In Week 1, Seattle allowed San Francisco to convert only 1 of 15 third-down attempts.

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ST. LOUIS @ OAKLAND

It’s a good thing that he wears a different uniform, ‘cause Oakland QB Jason Campbell (2 fumbles, 1 interception) sure looks a lot like he did at the helm of the Redskins. Rams rookie Sam Bradford impressed, however, despite tossing three passes to the other team. A blocked field goal attempt and a last-minute TD cost St. Louis a win last week, but that won’t happen in Oakland. If every Man in Black had the skill of the Raiders’ punter and kicker, they’d be making reservations for Dallas in February. Alas…

Woody’s Winner: St. Louis

FACT: Last week’s Oakland-Tennessee game was a punting clinic. The Titan’s Kerns booted 4 for a 50-yd. average (and 2 inside the 20), while the Raiders’ Lechter punched 4 for a 55-yd. average (and 1).

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NEW ENGLAND @ N.Y. JETS

I’m not recommending that Pats QB Tom Brady have an auto accident before every game, but heck; not only did he escape uninjured, but he went on to decimate the Cincinnati defense for 3 TD passes. Add to that a TD kickoff return and a defense that was there when it mattered, and New England looks set for another strong season. The Jets would hate nothing more than to open their new stadium with two consecutive home losses, but the season is long, and facing the Ravens and Patriots back-to-back is not exactly a late summer picnic.

Woody’s Winner: New England

FACT: New England’s 38 points scored in Week 1 led all NFL teams.

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HOUSTON @ WASHINGTON

The Texans made a HUGE statement to the NFL in Week 1, defeating the Colts despite Manning’s sharp 433/3/0 performance. And, unexpectedly, they did it on the ground. The Redskins earned their own shout-out by surprising the Cowboys, and they’d love to knock of Texas’ other team in Week 2. Houston seems destined to break out this season, however, and should pull off a W in Washington. I’m tempting fate by picking three road teams in a row, but why not?

Woody’s Winner: Houston

FACT: The Texans are 0-2 lifetime against the Redskins, losing both games by the same margin, 16 points.

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JACKSONVILLE @ SAN DIEGO

In Week 1, Jacksonville’s hyphenated-last-name attack belonged to Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for 98 yards and caught three passes. (Sims-Walker didn’t touch the ball except in pre-game warm-ups.) As they proved last season, the Chargers can be notoriously slow to warm up. But they should still have enough juice in their battery packs to render Jacksonville catatonic. I wonder if any Jags will take a side-trip up to L.A. to check out the housing market…

Woody’s Winner: San Diego

FACT: Both the Bolts and the Jags tossed 10 interceptions last season, tied for fewest in the AFC.

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N.Y. GIANTS @ INDIANAPOLIS

Manningfest 2010 takes place in Indianapolis, where Peyton expects to defend his home turf against his younger brother. New York should have fallen victim to Eli’s 3 interceptions, pulled out a win nonetheless. Indy couldn't do the same with Peyton's 400+ yard passing day, and lost at Houston. That’s the third regular-season loss in a row for the Colts, something that hadn’t occurred since 2002. I wouldn’t hold my breath to wait for number four.

Woody’s Winner: Indianapolis

FACT: Hakeem Nicks had four catches last week, three of them for TDs.

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NEW ORLEANS @ SAN FRANCISCO

It’s gold rush time in California as the New Orleans arrives to do some panning in San Francisco. No team scored fewer points (6) than the 49ers did in Week 1, and there’s no way the team can hold its own against a bunch of high-flying Saints. The Super Bowl champions will be wearing flowers in their hair as they descend on some unsuspecting Prospectors, and I wouldn’t want to be in the locker room post-game when coach Mike Singletary tells it like it is.

Woody’s Winner: New Orleans

FACT: Since New Orleans was realigned out of the NFC West in 2001, the Saints are 5-0 against their old division rivals.

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Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but please be cordial to others; this is all in good fun. Thanks!

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Big Questions
Who Was Chuck Taylor?
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From Betty Crocker to Tommy Bahama, plenty of popular labels are "named" after fake people. But one product with a bona fide backstory to its moniker is Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers. The durable gym shoes are beloved by everyone from jocks to hipsters. But who's the man behind the cursive signature on the trademark circular ankle patch?

As journalist Abraham Aamidor recounted in his 2006 book Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History, Chuck Taylor was a former pro basketball player-turned-Converse salesman whose personal brand and tireless salesmanship were instrumental to the shoes' success.

Charles Hollis Taylor was born on July 24, 1901, and raised in southern Indiana. Basketball—the brand-new sport invented by James Naismith in 1891—was beginning to take the Hoosier State by storm. Taylor joined his high school team, the Columbus High School Bull Dogs, and was named captain.

After graduation, instead of heading off to college, Taylor launched his semi-pro career playing basketball with the Columbus Commercials. He’d go on to play for a handful of other teams across the Midwest, including the the Akron Firestone Non-Skids in Ohio, before finally moving to Chicago in 1922 to work as a sales representative for the Converse Rubber Shoe Co. (The company's name was eventually shortened to Converse, Inc.)

Founded in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1908 as a rubber shoe manufacturer, Converse first began producing canvas shoes in 1915, since there wasn't a year-round market for galoshes. They introduced their All-Star canvas sports shoes two years later, in 1917. It’s unclear whether Chuck was initially recruited to also play ball for Converse (by 1926, the brand was sponsoring a traveling team) or if he was simply employed to work in sales. However, we do know that he quickly proved himself to be indispensable to the company.

Taylor listened carefully to customer feedback, and passed on suggestions for shoe improvements—including more padding under the ball of the foot, a different rubber compound in the sole to avoid scuffs, and a patch to protect the ankle—to his regional office. He also relied on his basketball skills to impress prospective clients, hosting free Chuck Taylor basketball clinics around the country to teach high school and college players his signature moves on the court.

In addition to his myriad other job duties, Taylor played for and managed the All-Stars, a traveling team sponsored by Converse to promote their new All Star shoes, and launched and helped publish the Converse Basketball Yearbook, which covered the game of basketball on an annual basis.

After leaving the All-Stars, Taylor continued to publicize his shoe—and own personal brand—by hobnobbing with customers at small-town sporting goods stores and making “special appearances” at local basketball games. There, he’d be included in the starting lineup of a local team during a pivotal game.

Taylor’s star grew so bright that in 1932, Converse added his signature to the ankle patch of the All Star shoes. From that point on, they were known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Still, Taylor—who reportedly took shameless advantage of his expense account and earned a good salary—is believed to have never received royalties for the use of his name.

In 1969, Taylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The same year, he died from a heart attack on June 23, at the age of 67. Around this time, athletic shoes manufactured by companies like Adidas and Nike began replacing Converse on the court, and soon both Taylor and his namesake kicks were beloved by a different sort of customer.

Still, even though Taylor's star has faded over the decades, fans of his shoe continue to carry on his legacy: Today, Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors a day, 365 days a year, to retro-loving customers who can't get enough of the athlete's looping cursive signature.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Pop Culture
The Time a Wrestling Fan Tried to Shoot Bobby Heenan in the Ring
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For a man who didn't wrestle much, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan wound up becoming more famous than a lot of the men flexing in the squared circle. The onscreen manager of several notable grapplers, including André the Giant and “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Heenan died on Sunday at the age of 73. His passing has led to several tributes recalling his memorable moments, from dressing up in a weasel suit to hosting a short-lived talk show on TNT.

While Heenan’s “heel” persona was considered great entertainment, there was a night back in 1975 when he did his job a little too well. As a result, an irate fan tried to assassinate him in the ring.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Heenan was appearing at the International Amphitheater in Chicago as part of the now-defunct AWA wrestling promotion when his performance began to grate on the nerves of an unnamed attendee seated on the floor. Eyewitnesses described the man as friendly up until wrestlers Verne Gagne and Nick Bockwinkel started their bout with Heenan at ringside in Bockwinkel’s corner.

“Get Heenan out of there,” the fan screamed, possibly concerned his character would interfere in a fair contest. Heenan, known as “Pretty Boy” at the time, began to distract the referee, awarding an advantage to his wrestler. When the official began waving his arms to signal Heenan to stop interrupting, the fan apparently took it as the match being over and awarded in Bockwinkel’s favor. He drew a gun and began firing.

The man got off two shots, hitting three bystanders with one bullet and two more with the other before running out of the arena. (No fatalities were reported.) Security swarmed the scene, getting medical attention for the injured and escorting both Heenan and the wrestlers to the back.

According to Heenan, the shooter was never identified by anyone, and he was brazen enough to continue attending wrestling cards at the arena. ("Chicago really took that 'no snitching' thing to heart back then," according to Uproxx.)

Heenan went on to spend another 30 years in the business getting yelled at and hit with chairs, but was never again forced to dodge a bullet.

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