Friday, July 31, 2009

Enough Please

I have nothing against college quarterback and world savior Tim Tebow. He's a great player and natural leader who has a nose for the goal line. Off the field, he seems to be a genuinely nice guy who does good things in the world and won't be arrested for playing with firearms at two a.m. in front of a strip club.

But I'm begging people to please stop talking about him as this sui generis being sent from the football heavens to grace us. The more articles I read about Tebow's greatness, the more I dislike him.

Tebow himself has done nothing wrong (apparently ever), but from the moment he announced he was returning for his senior season, Tebow has overshadowed every other part of the college football off-season.

Heisman trophy winner Sam Bradford is returning for his senior season? Who cares, let's talk Tebow!

Colt McCoy has returned to help Texas avenge last year's BCS debacle with Oklahoma? Whatever, Timmy Tebow is still around!

USC might get busted for a legion of NCAA violations? Let's see, does Tim Tebow live in California? T
hen forget about it!

Do I sound l
ike some bitter college fan who is just jealous? Probably. I don't begrudge Tebow his off-season in the sun, I just don't like the fact that he suddenly seems to be bigger than college football. It's as if the game has never seen anyone great before.

Remember Matt Leinart, Herschel Walker, Archie Griffin, Billy Sims? All were amazing college players who won Heismans and championships. Tebow is college greatness, but he's far from
unique.

By now you've all heard of how Tebow is the son of a missionary and spends his off-seasons helping the poor starving kids of third world nations as well as preaching to inmates in prison. Great. I'm glad Tebow is being constructive with his time as opposed to what I did in college which amounted to a quest for alcohol and boobs.

By the way, Arizona State quarterback Samson Szakacsy writes his own music, acts in student films, and writes fashion columns during his spare time. Both McCoy and Bradford give motivational speeches to kids and people down on their luck just as Tebow does. You just never hear about these guys because all you see are stories about TIM FREAKIN TEBOW!

Congratulations Mr. Tebow. You are a good football player and a great human being. I should have nothing against you. But when I see your face in every magazine from Sports Illustrated to Rolling Stone, I can't help but root against you. Please pray for me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Done

Yankees Fan: "Well lookie heah at dat! Big Papi AND Man-Ram on da stehoids? Yaw title is tainted baby! Yanks rule!"

Red Sox Fan: "Big deal. Eveh heard of A-rawd? Giambi? Rah-gah Clemons? Hello pawt, it's the friggn kettle! You say ahwr titles ahwr tainted, youhs ahr just as dihrty!"

Every other baseball fan: "Will you two ever shut the f*#% up? I'm sooo sick and tired of Yankees/Red Sox talk being the center of the baseball universe. It's all tainted! Everything baseball is tainted since hair bands were popular! Now go play with yourselves!"

Texas Rangers fan: "Oh look! It's almost football season!"


You get the
point. Yes, Big Papi is the latest major leaguer to be found guilty of weezing the juice. He apparently cheated. Is anyone surprised? Seriously, are you stunned by any name comes out?

Every baseball player from the steroid era is guilty until proven innocent by now. If you didn't do steroids, you have to go out of your way to prove your innocence. Talking about it doesn't do anything, Big Papi was gung-ho about banning users from the game until this news came out; Raphael Palmeiro lied to everyone with aplomb about his involvement with the drugs.

As a fan, I don't care what a player says anymore, to me everyone in that era is somehow guilty. It's a negative stance to take, but it's one I think most fans now have. We don't want to hear about who was and wasn't using back then.
We just want it to stop.


Let Barry Bonds claim his innocence while he has the head of a T-Rex, let Mark Mc
Guire let the past be the past even though he profited as much as anyone from the power numbers put up. Jose Canseco can keep ratting out former teammates for book deals until he's blue in the face, I'm over it.

We will cross the steroid bridge again any time a player from the past two decades is up for the Hall of Fame. We will get more than our fill of this talk. Until then, can baseball please just get it's damn act together and move on before it completes the transformation from national pastime to national joke? Until then, I hear football season is starting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Favre Had To Ruin One Final Thing

No doubt you heard the cheering in the streets and sports bars last night. Brett Favre, who has tried his best to go from NFL ironman to NFL irresolute, finally decided he won't try to make yet another comeback.

Packers fans can cheer because the most popular player in franchise history won't su
lly his Packer legacy by suiting up for the hated Vikings just because of a quibble with the Packers front office (one brought on by Favre's indecision in the first place.)

NFL fans can cheer because the man who showed us how much fun football can be isn't going to spend another year devolving into a mercenary who plays only to stroke his own ego. At least, we can cheer until the first starting quarterback goes down or the Vikings struggle since Favre's retirement plans have always be
en apocyphal.

That sad thing is that Favre's "retirement" shouldn't even be the top story of the day. Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson finally succumbed to his battle with cancer. This nonsense with Favre somehow overshadowed the death of one of the great NFL defensive coordinators.

How good was Johnson as Eagles defensive coordinator for the past decade? His Philly defenses ranked second in the NFL in sacks, the defense helped the Eagles make the playoffs in seven season and sent 26 players to the Pro-Bowl. And most impressively, the only dominant player on those defenses year in and year out was safety Brian Dawkins.

Johnson created such an exotic set of blitzes designed to pressure and confuse the quarterback, his disciples populate the league today. John Harbaugh and Steve Spagnuolo are both head coaches while San Diego's Ron Rivera and Minnesota's Leslie Frazier are two top defensive coordinators.

He's a man that deserves at least a day to for fans to admire his valiant fight against a nasty form of cancer that started near his spine and for us to reflect on all of his contributions to the game of football.

Instead the top story is a wishy washy quarterback finally deciding to stay retired...for now. It should make Brett Favre nauseous that his inability to let go of the game helped take a little more NFL love away from it's rightful destination.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Welcome Back, But Don't Expect Any Pom Pom Waving

Michael Vick is back. He's eligible to play again after he serves out his six game suspension. Good for him.

Don't expect me to cheer.

I'm glad Vick gets a second chance at his life. He claims to
have learned a lot from his prison sentence and often people who've actually done time become the biggest proponents of sound judgment in life. Vick doesn't deserve to be ostracized from the NFL forever because of one big mistake.

Just don't look for me to jump on his bandwagon.

I'm a proponent of what's fair. My logical side says that Vick served out his time, he suffer
ed financially and had to leave his livelihood in the prime of his career. He should now be allowed to put that chapter of his life behind him without us constantly reminding him of it.

I'm also the owner of a wonderful puppy. My fatherly side says that son of a bitch has a screw loose and should never be allowed near another animal again. Not even in a zoo.

I know Vick grew up in a different environment than I did. I know that to a lot of poor black kids, the term dog evokes images of a terrifying police dog ready to pounce if let off the leash. It's an unfortunate issue and one that I hope will get resolved for good. But blame the owners for that because the dogs are just doing what they've been taught.

If you've ever had a dog, you know what's up. A dog isn't just some filthy animal constantly sniffing around for any kind of sapid object, whether it's food or a pile of poop. They are the most loyal and loving creatures around if treated right.

You are your dog's life. Everything they do is based on you. If a dog is chewing up the house, it's probably because you aren't paying enough attention to him and he's upset. The favorite part of a dog's day is when you wake up or walk in the door. They just want your love and attention and will do whatever they can to get it.

This is why I'm so taken aback anytime I hear about abuses to the animals. Someone who willingly causes harm to a creature devoted and reliant on you awakens my vengeful side. These are the times when I imagine tying up the abuser to a tree in 100 degree weather and a beating them constantly with a stick to see how long they can handle it.

Vick was one of these people, which is why he is such a flash point for controversy. Many people consider their dogs to be their kids and to hear what Vick did causes a huge emotional reaction. My girlfriend still refuses to even mention Vick's name.

So in the name of justice, I welcome Vick back to the NFL. In the name of pet fatherhood, I warn him not to expect a standing ovation from me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What's Wrong With This Guy (Besides The Facial Hair)?

What's the catch? That's the question I've been asking since the Dallas Mavericks acquired 6'10" forward/center Drew Gooden.

I look at his profile: he's was the fourth pick of the draft out of Kansas. He was n
amed one of the "Good Guys in Sports" by the Sporting News. He was on a Final Four team in college, he's made it to the NBA post-season. What's the caveat to acquiring him? Is he just another talented college player who simply sucks in the pros?

The NBA is littered with untalented hacks who just happen to be tall. General managers in the NBA drone
on and on about how you can't teach size. This is true, but you apparently can't teach grace to some of these guys either as evidenced by their lumbering style of running and movement of a fence post. They just stand there and collect fouls. That's all they do.

Gooden thou
gh has averaged double digit points every year and close to double digit rebounds. He isn't a foul machine, in fact last year he averaged fewer personal fouls per game than such celebrated stars as Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, and Amare Stoudemire. He doesn't have the best field goal percentage, he misses as many shots as he actually makes, but he's not a disaster offensively.

So why is it that Drew Gooden has been on six teams in only seven seasons? The past two years
have been worse as he's bounced around like a pinball between five different teams.

Even today as Gooden signs with the Mavericks, he's only there because Orlando stunned Dallas by matching the team's offer to Magic backup center Marcin Gortat while also stealing Brandon Bass away from the Mavericks. Dallas was desperate and so they signed Gooden to a short contract.

Maybe Dallas will end up being the perfect match for Gooden. He's on a team of jump shooters so he has the inside scoring all to himself and his only competition is Erik Dampier (see above about the untalented hacks). If not, at least Gooden knows how to move cities quickly. In fact, I bet he doesn't even unpack his suitcases.






Friday, July 24, 2009

Let The Southern Fried Madness Begin

How retarded are the good ole' boys for their SEC football? The front page of the Florida Times Union online has a big picture of Tim Tebow attending the three DAY SEC media conference. THAT'S the big news of the day.

The top story? The soap operaesque story of how former Flordia legend and current South Carolina head man Steve Spurrier didn't vote for Tim Tebow as a pre-season all conference quarterback. Mind you, Tebow is still the pre-seeason all conference quarterback, he's just not a UNANIMOUS decision.

Spurrier voted for Jevan Snead of Ole' Miss which is a solid pick. Snead very well could have the best season of any quarterback. But instead of explaining himself proudly, Spurrier skulked around his news conference telling everyone that his director of football operations actually filled out the ballot and Spurrier simply signed it without looking.

Well thank God that problem was solved.

I'll happily admit the SEC is the best college football conference year in and year out, but as we go from July into August, do not attempt to argue with a rabid SEC fan. If they claim that their conference is stronger than the NFL, just nod your head and escape. There is no logic based discussion with them. SEC football is the biggest source of pride for many sports fans in the south and any attempt to marginalize it will be met with swift retribution.

But as for now, sleep tight knowing we have solved the great "who didn't vote for Tim Tebow" problem.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prime Time?

Today we found out that the NFL is changing the schedule of the NFL draft. For years the first three rounds of the draft have been held on a Saturday in April while the remaining rounds are finished up on Sunday.

It made sense. Any of the crazy fans who
actually wanted to make the trip to New York just to hear a man read off player names (okay it's me), they could arrange a trip to the Big Apple in order to party with....themselves.

In all honesty, there is very little as fun and crazy as the NFL Draft. Fans of every team are lined up, all discussing the draft and how it would be JUST PEACHY if this
player fell in the draft to their team. Groups of similar jersey's gather and discuss the needs of the team while booing anyone who walks by in an opposing jersey. It really is wonderful.

This is why I'm a bit skeptical of the NFL's decision to now hold the first round of the NFL draft on a Thursday night. Usually I'm very supportive of the NFL's protean manner when it comes to televising the sport. Monday night, Thursday night, Saturday night, hell, give it to me every day of the week. Yet, I worry about this decision. Sure, it's prime time, but will the prime television slot make up for the lost fans who won't be able to swing going to New York on a school night?

And is the NFL draft ready for a prime time slot? Saturdays don't tend to have a lot of competition for the NFL. You basically choose between the draft or a rerun of What's Happening. Thursday night has Grey's Anatomy, Survivor, The Office, and the Juggernaut of CSI.

NFL fans may not care about these other choices, but I can't imagine married households coming to an
agreement to watch the NFL Draft over some of these other prime-time shows.

My guess is that the NFL Draft will become a stop down for most people. They'll watch another show and then during the commercials, they'll switch over to see which criminal player the Bengals just t
ook.

It's probably the most logical way to watch the draft, but for NFL
fans, this no way to go about it. The Saturday of the NFL Draft is like NFL Christmas. Fans from all over gather around the T.V. with a drink or twelve and ohhh and ahhhhh over each team's pick. Well, except for the Raiders pick which is usually greeted by a "BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAAH!!!! Idiots!"

I'm not one to argue with the well-oiled machine that is the NFL. For all I know, this time move will open up the draft a whole legion of new fans that were out being busy bodies on Saturday. I just worry that the hardcore NFLer that makes up the backbone of the league will be denied their weekend in the sun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Will Nike Capitilize On THIS?

Back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, athletes began a new type of training session where they lifted weights to increase strength. Now you can't drive from here to there without seeing a gym in most cities.

At one point, yoga was this bizarre new "exercise" that was only for hippies and new age types who would try to read your palm or talk to you about your chakras. Now, Sue from accounting can't make it to happy hour because she is going to a yoga session.

Now one of the new trends peaking out of the sporting world is barefoo
t running. Anica Wong of the Denver Post followed several runners who swear that letting the glabrous bottoms of your feet touch the ground while running will make you stronger and healthier than wearing shoes.

The style still has plenty of opponents. One podiatrist says that going from wearing shoes to running barefoot can actually be worse for your feet. Since most of us grew up with shoes, only a small percentage of people have feet that can properly adjust to barefoot running.

Proponents of barefoot running say "poppycock!" They say learning to run in a new style is no different than weight lifting in that you just need to ease yourself into it. They say that with proper training, a runner will find the feet relax and the body will change the way it strikes the ground sans shoes.

There are some mystics who will talk about running the way ancient man ran and how you become one with mother earth, ideas which I don't think midd
le America is ready to discuss, but many of the arguments are made with logic and practical application.

Barefoot running isn't quite sweeping the nation yet, but there have been other trends that are now part of everyday life. Will people begin tossing their Nike's into the trash, or will the shoe giant manage to corner to market on the "barefoot shoe"? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NFL Summer Of Confusion

Sadly, I'm to the point that where if I see an athlete get charged with some misdeed I don't even blink. I just hope it's "only" an affair or a drug bust and not some violent outburst that could ruin someone's life.

This NFL off-season though....I've honestly been thrown for a loop. A couple of stories lite
rally made my jaw drop.

First, of course, was the Steve McNair murder/suicide/affair situation where one of the most respected ex-players in the game, who seemed like a happily married man with a simple life, ended up having an affair with a 20 year old girl (McNair was in his late 30's). The girl was unstable enough to go purchase a handgun illegally and then shoot McNair as he slept before she committed suicide.

The whole situation shook football fans everywhere because McNair was supposed to be one of the good guys. He was a guy who balanced out idiot players like Pac-Man Jones who seems to get arr
ested every other week.

Now I read that a sexual assault charge has been directed at......Ben Roethlisberger? The two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of the Steelers is many things: a doof, a goof, possibly a douche bag, but an alleged molester?

No one accuses Big Ben of a being sedulous in his off-season life, but an
y charge of a sexual nature makes my jaw drop. Even my girlfriend said, "Roethlisberger is the guy that gets drunk and drives his motorcycle into a wall. He's not a predator."

So does that mean Big Ben is being set up by a gold digger and will be proven innocent in
court? Steelers fans think so judging by all the comments they've made in regard to the story, but the McNair case has shaken me. If McNair isn't what we thought he was, is it that far-fetched to think Big Ben may have dark side?

As of now this is an alleged accusation, so there is no proof Roethlisberger had anything
to do with the situation, but you know the court of public opinion in the NFL. There will be some choice words for Ben in Cleveland, Baltimore, and anywhere else fans want to give him an ear-full.

As for me, I'm just wondering if there is any player in the NFL that is truly untouchable by accusations and controversy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shaq Bo

Shaq is set to begin shooting this week for a television show called "Shaq Vs" where he will take on other professional athletes in their own sports. He's already slated to play football against Ben Toothlesburger, baseball against Albert Pujoles, swim with Michael Phelps, he's going to box, play tennis, and hit the beach for some volleyball.

I'm generally the first person to lament the way reality television has imbued our television sets, but I might be down to watch a couple of these episodes on ABC. Shaq is always entertaining and even if the show turns out to be a dud, it will at least take me back to those Bo Jackson "Bo Knows" Nike campaigns of the late 80's:

Friday, July 17, 2009

You Gotta Be Able To Laugh A Little Bit

I'll hand it to Tony Romo, he may not be able to pick his girlfriends very well, but he knows how to adumbrate his celebrity and make fun of the whole situation. All for an endorsement opportunity!

Peyton Manning would be proud....


Red Flag In South Beach

It seems that many moves this NBA off-season aren't actually being made for the upcoming season, but for the leitmotif of the 2010 free-agent extravaganza when players like LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowtizki, and Dwyane Wade are set to become free-agents in some way or another.

Bryant isn't leaving L.A. and Dirk sa
id publicly that he'd like to remain in Dallas. That means the spotlight is even brighter on James and Wade. We all know the deal with James, the New York Knicks have basically arranged to have what looks like the entire current roster to become free-agents next year so that the organization can make a run at LeBron James (and that will give New York playground ballers plenty of chances to dunk on him.) The Cavs countered by trading for Shaq in an attempt to prove to LeBron that he can win if he stays put.

Mean
while, down in Miami, Dwyane Wade has announced that he'd better see a contender forming in Miami if he is to stay down in Florida. The Heat have taken him at his word and are now attempting to sign free-agent Lamar Odom and there are rumors that the Heat are attempting to trade for Utah inside scorer, Carlos Boozer. (Wow. Imagine Boozer going from Utah to South Beach. Do you think his head will explode from the change in culture?)

It remains to be seen if the Heat are successful in forming a good enough team to suit Wade though the organization is trying. But a couple of events have happened recently that should make Heat fans just a tad skittish.

First of all, the Heat have quickly offered Wade a big extention (three years at over $20 million per year) which Wade says he's in no hurry to sign. That's a clear power play for Wade has he lets the organization twist in the cool ocean breeze while he goes about his business. That's not something a player does when he's happy to be somewhere.

Secon
dly, Wade just dumped Converse as his shoe representative despite having a three year contract left with the company. Wade went with shoe behemoth Nike on the Air-Jordan line. I know this has nothing to do with the Miami Heat, but it does show that:

A.) Wade isn't overly loyal to organizations and will leave if something better comes along and
B.) Wade is already making big changes to his sports persona.

Could a location change be far away? The Heat seem to doing whatever they can to prevent that, but Wade is showing that he will do whatever he feels is best from him no matter what else is happening be it contracts or personell moves.

The heat is definetely on Miami.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

NFL Network Fan Rankings....Same List Different Year

Now that training camps are approaching, the NFL has kicked it's speculative coverage into high gear. If you turn on the NFL Network in July, you will find a different countdown list seemingly every day where the show experts rank everything from current players, to past coaches, to stadium food.

Of course, I'm pretty sure the NFL Network had the same thing last year. Seriously, how could a list of the best stadiums have changed that much in a year? But people love rankings, so the NFL gets a different expert (see: former player) to grace us with their opinions.

One of the latest rankings is the best NFL fans. The esteemed fat-ass, Jamie Dukes (former journeyman offensive lineman), weighs in, literally, on what he thinks are the top five fan bases in the NFL. According to Dukes, he took into account jersey sales, home ga
me sell outs, and support in visiting stadiums.

Before I give
you this list, let me just say there is no quicker way to escalate an argument than to talk about who has the best fans since it is fans arguing about themselves. Seriously, ask a Yankees fan and a Red Sox fan to argue Joe DiMaggio vs Ted Williams and you'll get an argument. Ask the same guys which team has better fans and you might end up with a brawl.

Dukes lists the best fan bases in the NFL as follows:

5. New England Patriots
4. New York Giants
3. Dallas Cowboys

2. Green Bay Packers
1. Pittsburgh Steelers

I understand that n
o one is ever going to make a list of best fans that is dulcet to everyone, but I definitely have issues with Mr. Dukes list because he picked successful teams. How hard is it to have a rabid fan base for a good team? The Patriots had zero fans in visiting stadiums until eight years ago. What a coincidence!

Dukes mentions how many sellouts the Giants have as to why they are a top team. No kidding! And how many people either live in or are originally from New York? Giants fans are loyal, but several teams have sold out their stadium for years.

I don't even know where to start with Dallas being ranked number three. I grew up there; Dalla
s fans love their football, but they aren't a great group of fans. Back in 1989 when the Cowboys were terrible, you could play a giant game laser tag in the giant empty sections of that stadium. High schools were drawing more crowds to the games. Troy Aikman said it best when he declared "Dallas isn't a football town, it's a winners town." That just about sums it up.

I know Dallas fans travel well, but that's because of the giant legion of fans that grew up
watching the team win in the 1970's. Any city that didn't have a franchise back then (Carolina, Phoenix, Jacksonville, etc.) generally has a group of people that grew up rooting for the Cowboys. Because they were good.

The same with Pittsburgh. I know Steelers fans will want you to think that they've been waving those terrible towles forever, but I don't recall hearing or reading much of anything about the greatness of being a Steelers fan before 1972 or so. Don't get me wrong, Pittsburgh fans travel well, they show up early and stay late for ball games. It's just not that hard to support what is probably the best organization in the NFL.

With that in mind, I have two teams from the heartland ranked as the top two fan bases in the NFL, one from the NFC and one from the AFC.

One is the Green Bay Packer fans. Mr. Dukes got that one right. I've been told multiple times that I need to see a game at Lambeau Field before I die. Well, if I sign up for season tickets today, I MIGHT get there before I die. Like the Giants, the Packers have an unbelievable waiting period to get tickets and I'm pretty sure the New York subway has more people in it than Green Bay.

You mig
ht be tired of the cheeseheads, the nasal Wisconsin accents, and the constant chorus of "Frozen Tundra" references, but Packers fans take it all the way. They have nothing else.

The other top fans live in Kansas City. I have heard nothing but superlatives about the atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium. You can't play the "only support a winner" card because the Chiefs have basically been terrible since the early 1970's. True, Marty Schottenheimer built a solid squad and the Chiefs were a high flying offense under Dick Vermeil, but those seaso
ns always ended in heartache. Yet you never hear Chiefs fans taking the "we've been cursed" approach offered up by Cleveland Browns fans.

There are the Chiefs fans tailgating before every game, going bonkers for their team and offering unwavering support during the lean periods that seem to last eight years at a time. If this team ever builds a dynasty, watch out.

Those are my two picks as top fan bases in the NFL. They may lack the creative insults of the northeast fans, the national following that the Steelers and Cowboys have, or the moneybags owner like the Redskins. These fans just leave and breath for their football teams no matter how fair the weather is.