After two weeks out of commission, I’m finally back and ready for more Big Break NFL excitement.
Thankfully, I didn’t miss a thing over the past 14 days since my cyber BB buddy, Blue Falcon, kept me up to date with his in-depth analysis of the 7th and 8th episodes.
Check them out below to see what he thought of the teams and challenges. Then join me on Wed for my interviews with some of your favorite the Big Break NFL contestants.
Break NFL Puerto Rico Episode #7
One of the frequent refrains heard on competitive “reality” shows like Big Break is that things don’t start getting “real” until a person or team is eliminated. Now that the first team-Team Del Greco-has been eliminated from this season of Big Break, the expectation was that things would start getting real. And in this episode, they did.
The first Immunity Challenge of the day was setup by golf legend and Puerto Rico native Chi Chi Rodriguez. The challenge: Three locations were setup; each team would pick one player to hit from each location. The player who hit the shot closest to the pin would move on to the final location. It was certainly possible that one team could earn immunity if they won all three locations.
First location: 80 foot putt. While all five players did well, Chris Doleman won the location by getting his putt 1’ 5” feet from the hole.
Second location: 40 yard pitch. As Chi Chi suggested, the ladies played from this location. Whether the men were chicken as he suggested is unknown. Shannon Fish won the location for Team Doleman with a pitch to 3’4”, giving Team Doleman two players in the final location.
Would Team Doleman win all three locations and guaranteed immunity in this challenge? No. In fact, it was a resounding NO! The third location was a long drive competition. The men participated but one stood out from the rest, and that was Team Rice’s Isaac Sanchez-nicknamed Sasquatch-who airmailed a drive 346 yards! Thirty yards farther than second place James Lepp from Team Rypien. With that emphatic win, Isaac went with Chris and Shannon to the final location.
The fourth and final location was a 125 shot from the fairway. Once again, Isaac came through, getting his shot to 11’1” from the hole to win immunity for his team and another spontaneous reaction from Emily, which is always cool to see.
The second immunity challenge was another football-themed challenge. Two teams would play in head-to-head matches: Team Bulger vs. Team Rypien, and Team Brown vs. Team Doleman.
The challenge: hit approach shots to a green with yardage markers equaling yardage on a football field.
The goal: advance the ball from midfield-the 50 yard line- as far as you can into the opposing team’s territory. The two winning teams of each match would then play, with the winner of that match winning immunity. The two losing teams go to a Losers Bracket match where the winner of that match would also gain immunity.
Match #1: Team Bulger vs. Team Rypien. Chad’s 40 yard shot moved the ball to the Rypien 10 yard line. With Team Rypien teetering on the brink of losing, Team Rypien’s James and Meghan for each hit 30 yard shots to push the ball into Bulger territory at the Bulger 30. Marc responded with a 30 yard shot for Team Bulger to move the ball back to the Rypien 40. Mark hit a fabulous shot for Team Rypien to advance the ball back to the Bulger 20. Zakiya could not, however, get the ball out of Team Bulger’s zone and Team Rypien won the match.
Match #2: Team Brown vs. Team Doleman. Shannon started for Team Doleman with a 30 yard shot, pushing the ball to the Brown 20. Will hit a heavy shot for Team Brown and only gained 10 yards. With the ball on the Brown 30, Mallory changed field position with a 40 yard shot to send the ball into Doleman territory at their 30 yard line. Chris pulled his shot off the green. No advance for Doleman. Brian, however, came through for Team Doleman with a 40 yard shot to move the ball back to the Brown 30. Tim would respond with a 30yard shot to move the ball back into the Doleman side of the field, at the Doleman 40 and earned Team Brown a win and immunity.
Match #3-the Losers Bracket match between Team Bulger and Team Doleman. Chad started with a 30 yard score, advancing the ball to the Doleman 20. Chris barely reached the green, only gaining 10 yards. The ball was on the Doleman 30 when Shannon stepped up with a 30 yard shot to send the ball into Bulger territory at the Bulger 40. Marc could only advance the ball 10 yards, moving the ball back to midfield. Zakiya hit a 30 yard shot to move the ball to the Doleman 20. Brian had a chance to win for his team, but his shot rolled off the green, giving the win to Team Bulger. Team Doleman was heading to the Sudden Death challenge.
Match #4: The Winners Bracket match pitting Team Brown vs. Team Rypien. Winner gains immunity. Tim started with a 10 yard shot, to move the ball to the Rypien 40. James added 20 yards for Rypien to push the ball into Brown territory at the 40 yard line. Will countered with a 40 yard shot for Brown, sending the ball to the Rypien 20. Meghan bailed Rypien out with a 30 yard shot to send the ball back to midfield. Mark’s shot for Rypien gained 20 yards to the Brown 30. Mallory had a chance to win for Brown, and she did; her 30 yard shot moved the ball to the Rypien 40, giving Team Brown immunity.
The Sudden Death challenge involved playing out from 3 locations, with each team selecting one player to play at each location. The team with the highest number of shots would earn a loss. Team Doleman had a decision to make. Pick Team Bulger-who have a loss and would be eliminated if Team Doleman beat them-or Team Rypien for personal reasons.
Doleman chose Rypien to play against, again, for personal reasons; James eliminated Brian on Big Break Greenbrier, and there seems to be some other tension between the two teams, perhaps based on Team Rypien’s choreographed “celebrations.”
Location #1: 65 yards. Shannon says she knew she would make her up and down and Meghan wouldn’t. While that comes across as a bit arrogant, Shannon’s boast turned out to be prophetic. She made her up and down for a 2 while Meghan could only muster a 3. It’s not arrogant if you back it up!
Location #2: 165 yards. Neither Chris nor Mark covered themselves in glory in the beginning. Mark, however, bollixed the hole less than Chris did-yes that is damning with faint praise. Mark scored a 4, Chris a 5. Both teams tied at 7 entering the final hole
Location #3: From the tee box, 510 yards to the hole. Both Brian and James hit driver of f the tee, Brian found the fairway and James the first cut of rough. The script flipped on the second shots. James’ shot came up just short of the green while Brian’s approach plugged in a greenside bunker. James made a decent pitch to the green while Brian’s hole went from bad to worse as his shot flew the green from the bunker and landed in the rough surrounding the green. He did hit his chip to a few feet from the hole to give himself a chance to get up and down. James barely missed his putt, leaving a crack in the door for Brian to walk through and square the match. Brian made his short putt to force a playoff.
Playoff location: 125 yards. James went first; his shot landed on the green about 20 feet. Brian, on the other hand, nearly jarred his shot as the ball flirted with going in the hole and lipped out. James also got unlucky as his putt also lipped out, leaving Brian a chance to win and gain a little redemption. He did, saving his team a loss.
What was more surprising was seeing Team Doleman celebrate together. Could this be a turning point in their tumultuous relationship? We’ll just have to wait and see. Now, the grades:
Team Brown: SSDE-Same scenario different episode. Tim and Mallory both played well but once again, Will didn’t really show much of anything. Can a team win this Big Break without all three players playing well? Yes, they can, but I imagine Tim and Mallory would appreciate Will taking some of the heavy lifting off their shoulders. Score: 7.5.
Team Bulger: This team has been showing serious cracks in their armor the last two episodes or so. Marc is-along with Chris-the weakest players among the NFL guys. Zakiya is showing signs of buckling under the pressure of carrying the team. Chad hit some good shots. I was a little surprised that Team Doleman didn’t try to take them out this week. I’m not sure the rest of the teams will be that charitable toward them in the future. Score: 7.
Team Doleman: What a difference a week makes. After being at each others’ throats for the first 6 episodes, they seemed like a more harmonious team this week. How much of that is Chris being talked to by the Big Break staff about his previous abusive behavior and how much is Chris seeing the light about what he has done to his team is unknown; perhaps Brian can answer that in his interview here.
Chris had one good shot this week, that being the putt in the first challenge. The rest of the episode was pretty forgettable for him. He can thank his lucky stars that he has teammates like Brian and especially Shannon this week.
Brian was inconsistent. He did hit some good shots, but the second hole of Sudden Death clearly was not his finest moment. However, he helped his team win and that’s all that matters. Shannon, on the other hand, was one of the stars of this episode. It would not be inaccurate to say that she carried Team Doleman this week. Score: 10 for Shannon, 6 for Brian, 8 Chris’ better behavior toward his team, 1 for his performance on the golf course.
Team Rice: Isaac was the other star this week, especially for his shot into orbit drive and his approach shot. Emily’s contribution was mostly her infectious enthusiasm and Jerry is the glue holding it all together. Good job. Score: 10, most of which can be credited to Isaac.
Team Rypien: Despite the loss suffered in the Sudden Death challenge, Team Rypien can hold their collective heads up this week. They didn’t play poorly; in most of the challenges the teams they were playing against were just a little bit better. James was, as usual, solid, and Mark and Meghan are finally showing up to provide support. A few breaks here and there, and they wouldn’t have a loss. But now they do, and it will be interesting to see how they respond. Score: 8.
Based on the trailer for episode #8, it seems clear that Team Doleman, as the only “undefeated” team this season, has a major target on their backs. Will Team Doleman’s good fortune continue, or will their previous issues rear their ugly heads again? We’ll find out some of the answers next week. Until then, I remain…
Big Break NFL Puerto Rico Episode 8
“Game Winning Drive”
Being successful on a competitive “reality” show is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, success gets you respect and moves you or your team closer to the grand prize which everyone is playing for. On the other hand, your personal success creates anger among the other competitors and puts a target on the back of the successful person/team.
Such is the case this season on Big Break. Team Doleman, despite all their trials and tribulations, is the only team without a loss and the other teams clearly wanted to deliver some pain to Team Blue this episode. Did they succeed? The answer was no.
In the first Immunity Challenge, three locations were set up for approach shots; doesn’t it seem like most of the challenges this season are hitting approach shots? Each location had a point value. If the nominated player hit the green with their first shot, the team would receive maximum points. If a player failed to hit the green with their first shot, every successive shot would cost the team 1 point, until they reached the maximum number of allowed attempts. The winning team gained immunity and reward.
Location #1-80 yards; maximum score, 2 points. This location featured four NFL players and little Meghan, who is approximately a foot shorter than the NFL players. Team Brown’s Tim, Team Rypien’s Meghan, and Team Rice’s Jerry each hit the green with their first shots to gain the maximum 2 points. Team Doleman’s Chris and Team Bulger’s Marc, were not so lucky. They each missed their first attempt but made amends on their second to gain 1 point each.
Score after Round #1-Team Brown, Team Rypien, & Team Rice-2 points; Team Doleman & Team Bulger-1point
Location #2 was a reversal of Location #1. On this location, there were four ladies and one man, Mark for Team Rypien. This location was measured at 125 yards with a maximum point total available of 3 points. Team Doleman’s Shannon & Team Bulger’s Zakiya both failed on their first attempts but made their second shots to add two points to their team’s total. Meanwhile, Team Brown’s Mallory, Team Rypien’s Mark and Team Rice’ s Emily only needed one shot each to conclude the round.
After 2 rounds, the gaps between teams remained the same, with Team Brown, Rypien & Rice at 5 points. Team Bulger had 3 points while Team Doleman pulled up the rear with 2 points.
Location #3 was from 160 yards with a maximum 4 points on offer. Team Brown’s Will, Team Rypien’s James and Team Rice’s Isaac all succeeded in getting their first shots on the green to add 4 points to their total and go to a playoff for immunity. Brian for Team Doleman and Chad for Team Bulger, however, could not push their way into the playoff; Brian needed 3 shots to hit the green while Chad needed 2.
The final scores: Teams Brown, Rice & Rypien, 9 points each. Team Bulger, 6 points. Team Doleman, 5 points.
The playoff was a 185 shot; the goal, get the ball on the green. The same 3 players who hit the shots in the third round participated in the playoff. Will missed the green for Team Brown, Isaac hit for Team Rice and James barely missed the green short, giving the win to Team Rice.
While Team Rice enjoyed their afternoon at the spa, the other four teams had to participate in another Immunity Challenge. Each team would have one player hit from the fairway, one hitting an approach to the green from the fairway and one player as a wild card. Each successful shot in the fairway earned two points, approaches to the green 1 point, and if the approach found a points circle, 3 points would be gained. The team with the highest point total would win immunity. The team with the lowest point total would go straight to the Sudden Death challenge.
From the tee, Marc and Meghan both pull hooked their drives left for Team Bulger & Team Rypien, respectively, earning each team no points. Team Brown’s Will and Team Doleman’s Chris found the fairway with their drives to score two points each for their teams. After one round, Teams Brown & Doleman, 2 points. Teams Bulger & Rypien, 0 points.
The approach shots were hit from 125 yards in the fairway. Mark and James each added 2 points for Team Rypien. Their final score; 2 points. Chad (1 point) and Zakiya (3 points) scored the first points this round for Team Bulger, making their team total 4 points. Team Brown gained no points from Tim, but 3 from Mallory to finish with a 5 point total. Finally, Team Doleman had a chance to either force a playoff or gain immunity outright if Brian and Shannon could score 3 or 4 points. Brian added 1point on his shot, while Shannon hit a shot which looked like it wasn’t enough. However, Shannon had the ball on a string and it rolled into the 3 point circle, earning immunity for Team Doleman. Team Doleman remains the only team without a loss this season.
By finishing in last place in the previous challenge, Team Rypien earned a ticket straight to the Sudden Death Challenge, where they would choose between Team Brown or Team Bulger to compete against. Since all three teams eligible for Sudden Death already had a loss, the losing team in this challenge would be eliminated from Big Break NFL Puerto Rico.
The Sudden Death challenge was a two hole match. The first hole was best ball. Two players from each team would play the hole, with the team picking the best score of the two. The second hole would be the third player playing on their own. The team with the highest cumulative score would be eliminated.
Hole #1– Par 3 playing 181 yards for the men, 152 for the women. None of the four players-Team Bulger’s Marc & Zakiya nor Team Rypien’s Mark & Meghan-hit the green with their tee shots. All were forced to scramble to get up and down. Team Rypien’ s Mark did make his up and down, while neither of Team Bulger’s players did so. After one hole: Team Rypien, 3. Team Bulger, 4.
Hole #2-550 yard Par 5. James played for Team Rypien, while Chad represented Team Bulger. James missed the fairway off the tee, laid up for his second, and hit his third shot to the green, about 20 feet from the hole. He couldn’t make the birdie but did save par. 5 for James.
Chad hit the fairway with his drive, and the green with his approach to 30 feet. He missed the eagle putt but made his 2 foot birdie putt. 4 for Chad. After two holes, the teams were tied at 8 strokes each and needed a playoff hole to determine a winner.
Hole #3 The playoff hole was the same 550 par 5 played on the previous hole. Both players found the fairway off the tee. While Chad laid up with his second shot, James found the greenside bunker with his second. Chad’s third flew the water at the end of the fairway but fell short of the green. James pitched out of the bunker to about 6 feet. Chad tried to chip in off the green; the ball flirted with the hole but ran by. James stepped up to make his putt and eliminated Team Bulger from Big Break NFL Puerto Rico. Sad to see them go, but not terribly surprised; more on that later.
Next week’s episode continues the Comcast/Golf Channel/ NBC synergy by bringing in Rodney Harrison, analyst for NBC’s “Football Night in America” and, during his playing career, one of the toughest-some would say dirtiest-players in recent NFL history.
Now, the grades:
Team Brown: with the exception of Tim missing a shot in Immunity Challenge #2, a very solid week of play by this trio. Mallory remains her usual solid self, while Will and Tim both played well this week as well. Could it be that Team Brown is finally getting all three players on the same page? They could be dangerous if they are. Score: 9.5.
Team Bulger: Their elimination this week really isn’t a surprise to me. They have been heading in that direction for a few episodes now. The main issue was a lack of support to Zakiya. She played well early, but Marc in particular couldn’t provide much, and that lack of support, seemed to wear Zakiya down. Chad was okay. Score: 6.
Team Doleman: One big happy family? Winning can cure a lot of ills, and right now Team Doleman is winning. Their play this week was good, but not great. It doesn’t matter how you win, however, as long as you do. As the late Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis said so famously: “Just Win, Baby.” Score: 7.
Team Rice: Brilliant and efficient this week. Each player-Emily, Isaac and Jerry-only needed one shot in their respective rounds to gain immunity. They’re relaxed, they’re rested, they’re the favorites in my eyes despite their early loss. Score: 10.
Team Rypien: Good when they needed to be, but the wheels came off the wagon a bit in a couple of challenges. My honest opinion; had they chose Team Brown in Sudden Death, Team Rypien would have been eliminated, and not Team Bulger. Good choice by Team Rypien. Score: 7.
As we saw in this episode, everyone is gunning for Team Doleman, and so far, they’ve been able to continue unscathed. We’ll see if that continues. Until we meet again, I remain…