So the NFL regular season has come to an end, and what a great year it was. We saw another 2,000-yard rusher in Jamal Lewis. FSU alum Anquan Boldin set the rookie record for catches in a campaign. And Tom Brady led his Patriots squad to 12 straight season-ending wins, only the third team ever to do so. Now come the playoffs. Ah, the sweet, sweet pigskin action that awaits over the next month, culminating in that night of joy known as the Super Bowl.
But wait. The Dolphins are out. Even ten wins couldn't reserve them a spot in the post-season tournament. What now? Well, just because those aqua- and orange-clad warriors will be home in January doesn't mean you need to tune out all things gridiron until September. Why not start rooting for your other favorite team? God knows, there are millions of transplants in South Florida, so chances are you grew up somewhere outside of the Sunshine State.
The Eagles, Chiefs, Rams, and Patriots are four of the eight teams that will be in action for the divisional playoff weekend January 10 and 11. They all received first-round byes and will host teams that make it past the wild-card opening round. So, if you want to cheer with like-minded folks for your sentimental favorite, listen up.
The Parrot Lounge (911 Sunrise Ln., Fort Lauderdale) is home to all things Philadelphian. The bar even boasts actual Astroturf from the floor of Veteran's Stadium, the former home of the Eagles. The birds now play in Lincoln Field, and thanks to their number-one seed, they'll be there as long as they keep winning, or until they make it to Houston for the ultimate prize. For their divisional playoff game this weekend, Parrot Lounge owner Joe O'Donnell promises a party much like the one he had for the Eagles' Monday-night game against the Fins this December, when the street was blocked off and Fort Lauderdale Beach was swimming in a sea of emerald number 5 jerseys. Call 954-563-1493.
You can check out the Patriots game at the Village Grille (4404 El Mar Dr., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea), a New England-friendly tavern that has been around for more than 50 years. Call 954-776-5092 for more details. And if you fancy yourself a Chiefs fan, Kansas City Steakhouse (5645 S. University Dr., Davie) will have all its big screens tuned to the game in Arrowhead. Call 954-680-0322. -- Russ Evans
Into the Woods
Florida's natural beauty
You want to introduce the whole family to the Great Outdoors? Snyder Park (3299 SW Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) offers Nature Exploration Tours every second Saturday of the month. The park has an elevated trail that winds through the wetland hammocks indigenous to South Florida. These hammocks consist of tropical plants, shrubs, raccoons, squirrels, alligators, and more. Each tour is accompanied by a guide. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children. Call 954-828-4585. -- Russ Evans
All Ahead Full!
Now that hurricane season has passed us by, it's time to put those admiral's caps back on and take those boats out. Qualify for your Florida safe boating ID card with a boating skills and seamanship class, held Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. beginning Monday at the Boynton Beach Boat Club Park (2020 N. Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach). The program concludes on February 16, and instruction is free, though course materials cost $35. Call 561-738-7454. -- Dan Sweeney
Losing the Holiday Pounds
It's already two weeks deep into the new year. Time to get off your ass. You'll never lose those extra pounds gained from eggnog, champagne, and ten helpings of Mom's Christmas turkey with that remote in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other. The Sahara Sports Winter Off-Road Racing Series gets under way with its first event January 11 at Quiet Waters Park (401 S. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach). For those wanting to run, swim, and bike, the triathlon starts at 7 a.m. Not into running? Afraid of water? The dog ate your sneakers? The cross-country bike race begins at 9:30 a.m. Entry fees range from $23 to $38. Call 954-433-3475. -- Russ Evans