Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Yeah, we don’t know either

1995 NFL Pro BowlWe came across this story today from Business Insider Australia (h/t @PhilHecken) about the mascots that the NFL used during the 1995 Pro Bowl game.

Now, admittedly, we don’t watch much if any of the Pro Bowl, but we do check in a little during the game and generally catch the highlights. But we have absolutely zero recollection of this mascot supposedly representing the Cleveland Browns.

We’re not even sure what it is supposed to be. Yeah, sure, it’s a “dawg” but other than that, what the heck is going on? Why is he so sad? And why does he have a Mike Holmgren-like mustache almost 20 years before Holmgren came to Cleveland?

Does anyone remember this?

Weird.

Another blow for Liverpool

We expected it, but it was still tough to hear confirmation the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will be absent until at least the middle of January with a hamstring injury suffered Saturday against West Ham United.

Gerrard will miss away matches with Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Chelsea that were going to be tough enough with him in the lineup, plus home games with Cardiff City and Hull City.

The 33-year-old Gerrard has appeared in every league game this year for Liverpool and he joins striker Daniel Sturridge and left-back José Enrique on the sidelines, which certainly doesn’t help manager Brendan Rodgers efforts to keep the Reds on the tail of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.

Gerrard’s injury may open the door for more playing time for Joe Allen, who made consecutive starts last week for the first time in almost a year and who Rodgers brought to Anfield in a £15 million deal from his former club Swansea.

“I’ve struggled with different injury problems but you’d hope that they’re behind me now and I can focus on getting out there and playing more and more,” Allen told The Guardian. “The manager has just told me to be ready for when my opportunity comes and to get back to my best. That will come with game time. Nothing has changed really. But everything comes together with playing time, so I’m looking to getting a string of games and showing what I can do.”

Champions League knockout stage is set

The 16 teams are set for the knockout stage of the Champions League, with all four English teams advancing.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all advanced, which is actually a plus for Liverpool as they get to focus on just the Premier League race while their competitors have to also exert energy chasing the Champions League trophy. (And yes, we are trying to cope with Liverpool not being in the competition again this year.)

The final 16 will be drawn into home-and-home match-ups on Monday in Switzerland.

As first-place winners of their groups, Manchester United and Chelsea should be drawn into a favorable match-up. The road will be a bit harder for Man City and Arsenal thanks to finishing second in their groups. Both could potentially face Real Madrid or Barcelona, while Arsenal could also be drawn against reigning champs Bayern Munich and Man City could have to take on last year’s runner-up in Borussia Dortmund.

“Of course, to finish second makes the potential draw more difficult,” Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger told The Guardian. “Maybe this year we will be a bit luckier [although] if you look at the teams, you know we will have a difficult draw.

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