Friday, July 31, 2009

Vick to 'Skins? Campbell can't be happy

I feel bad for Jason Campbell. First the whole Jay Cutler business, then the Redskins talked about drafting a quarterback and today the news is that Michael Vick is close to signing a deal with the team and compete for his job. This guy can't seem to catch a break.

According to ESPN, an anonymous Redskins coach is quoted as telling FOX 31 in Denver "There is definitely a number of us who would love to have him play here. I can tell you I would not mind at all."If that isn't a slap in the face for the former first round pick, I'm not sure what is.

Statistically Campbell is the better quarterback having posting a higher career completion percentage (59.7) and passer rating (80.4) than Michael Vick (53.8 and 75.7 respectively) and has shown improvement in his stats since he was drafted in 2005. Vick's stats are as choppy as a nervous chef on Hell's Kitchen trying not to get yelled at by Gordon Ramsay.

Yeah, Michael Vick is/was more exciting to watch than Jason Campbell but if you want a guy to throw the ball to your receivers then Campbell is your guy, not Vick. If you want your quarterback to run for 1,000 yards, then Vick if your guy. The Redskins need to make up their mind on Campbell. Is he your guy or not?

The Redskins need to pick a quarterback and get behind him. No matter who is under center if they don't feel supported by the head coach and the front office then they are not going to perform at a high level. The Redskins need to get behind Campbell and stay there if they want to win this season.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Favre Yet to Decide on Return

Will he or won't he? The now seemingly age old question of whether Brett Favre will return to the NFL for another season still remains to be answered.

Let me put this out there - I like Brett Favre (and I've never been a Packers fan). I don't really care if he robbed a bank, stole someone's identity, or threw a baby for a touchdown - I will still like Brett Favre. But if he decides not to come back this year I will be pretty dissapointed. Not because I really want him to come back to see him play one last year or that I think he adds that missing element to the Vikings to make them a real contender in the NFC, but because the Vikings have invested too much of their time and energy into Favre for him not to return this year.

If he decides not to return this year all the work he has put in, and his surgery, will be all for nothing. The Vikings trainers and coaches that visited Favre in Mississippi this summer that took time away from players that are actually on their roster to go tend to a guy they hope will join their team will be all for nothing.

If Favre decides not to come back this year it will be a selfish decision of a great quarterback. He owes at least one season to the Vikings after all their hard work getting him ready for the season and waiting on him to give a definite answer.

It may take a little while for those faithful Vikings fans to get used to their former Green and Gold wearing nemesis throwing the rock for their team, but they will come around. Favre will put fans in the seats and (a healthy Favre) will put points and wins in the box scores. The Vikings have everything to gain and everything to lose in one decision. Don't let them down Brett.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

LeBron Dunked On?

It seems that you can't really get anything by TMZ, they found a video of the dunk on LeBron James and let's just say that it didn't live up to the hype. The video isn't the best quality - it looks like a cell phone recording - but you can see Jordan Crawford dunking with all the authority that comes with an open lane, two handed dunk. As Crawford is in the air he is "challenged" by what appears to be LeBron but I would hardly classify that as getting dunked on. In the few seconds leading up to the dunk LeBron is half-heartedly playing defense.

I wanted to see Crawford dunk on LeBron like Vice Carter dunked on that French guy a few years ago in the Olympics. Now that was a posterization!

Check out the video and see for yourself.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shaq to play football..and tennis..and baseball?

It looks like I have a new favorite show this year - "Shaq Vs". Debuting in August, Shaquille O'Neal will be the star of a show where he will compete against other top athletes in their respective sport. He came up with the idea for the show as a way to train for the upcoming basketball season.

Athletes that are lined up right now include Aquaman Michael Phelps, Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethilisberger, retired former world boxing champ Oscar De La Hoya, Tennis grunter Serena Williams, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujlos, and Olympic volleyball gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.

A handicap will be established as part of the competition and Shaq is looking to defeat these other world class athletes at their own game.

Since Shaq completed the Sportscaster U program at Syracuse this past year, I would put my money on this being the first of many opportunities we will have to see Shaq as a TV personality. This will definitely be worth watching - I'm starting the countdown until the first episode.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Let Vick Play

Michael Vick was released from federal custody Monday after finishing up the house arrest portion of his 23 month sentence for dog fighting. Now Vick can officially petition the NFL for reinstatement, but should Commissioner Goodell let him back in the league?

I say let the man play. Vick has served his time and has a pretty complicated road ahead of him just to get back on the field. Vick is still on probation for the next three years and if he wants to leave his home in Virginia he must submit a request to his probation officer which can take a week or so to approve. Not exactly ideal when you have to travel for job interviews.

I understand that some teams may be wary of losing some sponsorship if Vick is signed, but I believe the benefits out weigh the risks. Vick will put fans in the stands especially after being gone for the last two years. I doubt he is in playing shape right now, but word Monday is that he hired Tom Shaw, a personal trainer to professional athletes, to help him get back on track physically.

The man spent two years in jail for running a dog fighting ring. Now I'm not saying he should be on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine for running an illegal and wrong operation, but rapists, murderers, and drug dealers have spent less time in jail than Michael Vick. When St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little was convicted on manslaughter charges in 1998 he only received 90 days in jail, four years probation, and was suspended 8 games by the NFL. More recently Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth, on a very similar manslaughter charge, was given 30 days in jail, which he basically bought his way out of more time given the large amount of money he will be giving to the family of the deceast, and a indefinate suspension by super-tough Commissioner Goodell.

Both Little and Stallworth killed a human and received a far less jail sentence than Michael Vick and we are still trying to villify Vick. He has more than earned a second chance according to the law and now its time he has a second chance with the fans.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Who to Pass on in 09

It's almost that time of year again...when the Top 10 Plays on ESPN aren't the same old boring diving baseball catch or home run (Oh, how I hate baseball season) and we finally get to see some real highlights. Let's face it, any Little League kid can catch a ball and throw a guy out at first, but it takes a real athlete (yep, I just called out all baseball players that ever lived) to run over six guys on his way to a touchdown. A new football season calls for a new fantasy football season and if you plan on winning your league then you need to start getting ready now.

That being said, you will probably start reading a lot of projections and articles on who to pick up this year. Well, here is my two cents (for now). Here are a few players that I don't want anywhere near my roster this year. Picking up one of these guys could easily force you to scramble later on to find a replacement and when the waiver wire is looking pretty hopeless, so are your chances of bringing home your league trophy.


Tom Brady

Last year Tom Brady was a legit first round selection that was guaranteed to give you crazy fantasy points week in and week out - and then the ACL tear in the first game. So many first round selections down the tube along with fantasy league championships lost on that one play. Brady had a few setbacks with his surgery and rehab early last year, but apparently ended up recovering well - say the Patriots. Coach Bilicheck gives as many straight answers on the injury report as Mark McGwire does under oath. An ACL tear is no joke and even after months of rest and rehab he is not going to be 100% this year. Maybe a 80% Brady is good for you but not for me. Besides, he may be too broken hearted over those missing flower boxes or thinking about how hot his wife is to concentrate on the game. There are better options for your top QB this year.

Carson Palmer

Like Brady, Carson Palmer is coming off a major injury to begin the season, a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Kind of a big deal if you are the guy slinging the rock. Palmer chose to rehab the injury rather than taking the surgical route like Jake Delhomme did. The Bengals dont exactly have an all star offensive line either and its hard to throw a touchdown while laying on your back. Housh has departed for Seattle and Ochocinco isn't the same as Chad Johnson he used to be - literally actually. You don't want Palmer as your starter this year. Draft a QB earlier and make someone else pick him up.

Running Backs

Brian Westbrook

It doesnt seem like the Eagles have enough Ace bandages to keep West-breezy on the field. For the last few years we all seem to get lured back into the Westbrook trap - he looks and feels good in training camp says Andy Reid - and we know he could bust out with 200 total yards and a couple TDs in any game, so we draft him. He does well for a game or two and you think man, this guy is crazy good - then he gets hurt. In addition to injuries, the Eagles drafted LeSean McCoy who could steal some touches and signed Leonard Weaver at fullback who could steal some receptions from him. Oh, and he is hurt right now and might miss all of training camp. With all this going on he isn't worth your time.

Ryan Grant

I'm still not sold on Ryan Grant as a featured back. He is better suited for a platoon approach rather than shouldering the majority of the load himself. Given that Aaron Rodgers proved he does have the skills to replace Favre the Packers went back to passing a lot since Grant was only giving them just over 3 yards per carry. The only thing he has going for him is that there really isnt anyone to challenge him for his job so he will get carries. Let a die hard Packers fan make the mistake of drafting him and use your pick more wisely.

Wide Receivers

Terrell Owens

Getcha pop corn (or tissues) ready - its about to be another circus. Do you really think T.O. is going to get the ball more than he did in Dallas? That might be impossible. T.O.'s problem wasn't that he wasn't getting looks, he wasnt catching the ball. His hands seem to be turning into stone in his old age. With new QB and future scapegoat Trent Edwards he doesn't have the most experienced QB getting him the ball. Too many chances for off the field problems to effect on the field production. I would draft someone else.

Antonio Bryant

Antonio finally had a good year with the Buccaneers after jumping from team to team over the last few seasons. Putting up 1200 yards receiving and adding 7 tds that might have been good enough to add him to your draft "wish list" this year, but you should still be wary of Antonio. He isn't exactly Mr. Consistency and could easily fall back to earth this season. Really he didnt even turn it on until late last year, so even last year he was inconsistent. Oh, and we still don't know who the QB is going to be in Tampa Bay which doesnt provide a lot of time to build chemistry with Antonio. He is like a box of chocolates - and you know what that means... he shouldn't be trusted to be on your fantasy football team.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mason Retires - Leaves Void for Ravens

Today Baltimore Ravens Wide Receiver Derrick Mason retired after playing 12 seasons split with the Ravens and the Titans. Mason has been a very productive receiver over his career and was key in the Titans run to the Super Bowl in 2000. His departure leaves a huge void in the receiver corps.

This would most likely make Mark Clayton, a historically under performing receiver, their top option in the passing game. The Ravens could use another experienced receiver to replace Mason for this season, maybe two, until they can work out a long term solution. (Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall come to mind since they are not happy with their current teams)

Marvin Harrison is still available and would be a great acquisition for the Ravens.
He brings experience and leadership to an offense with a young quarterback and could provide instant production on the field. Though the Ravens still have tight end Todd Heap and added tight end L.J. Smith this off-season they still need some kind of deep threat to stretch the field. Marvin isn't quite as fast as he used to be, but he can get the job done.

Harrison really is the only number one type option available in free agency right now. The Ravens could take a chance on Plaxico Burress but no one is sure how much disipline Commissioner Goodell will hand down to Burress. The Ravens will have to move quickly to fill the void Mason's retirement has left in their offense and have few viable options right now. I think we will most likely see Harrison wearing a Ravens jersey this season.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Witness Protection - Nike takes Dunk Tape

WHAT?!! LeBron dunked on? Posterized? I'll believe it when I see it.

It seems that I will have to go on believing that LeBron was't posterized on a dunk at his Skills Academy by Xavier University's Jordan Crawford because a Nike rep confiscated the video tapes. I mean, if you don't see the tape, it never happened, right?

I guess it was embarassing for the MVP of the National Basketball League to get dunked on two-handed by a college kid from a Mid-Major, but I think LeBron and Nike have gotten themselves into a bigger mess than if the tape had made its way to YouTube or even SportsCenter.

Now not only did LeBron (allegedly, but for real) get dunked on, but now he looks like a baby for having the tape confiscated. Add this to his walking off the court ordeal during the NBA finals and it looks like King James might not be as mature as his basketball skills would have us believe.

This whole incident could have been easily laughed off afterwards in front of a news camera or two, or saying that this kid has some real skills but instead LeBron looks a little immature and Nike looks like the CIA for taking the tape. Too bad those Men in Black memory erasers aren't real, huh Nike?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who is your 1st pick in '09?

Over the past few years the top pick in your Fantasy Football draft was pretty easy. Most leagues fought over the top pick so they could pick LaDanian Tomlinson who has been regarded as the top running back in the league. Since the scoring in most standard fantasy football leagues (I play on ESPN and you should too) allow the running backs the greatest opportunity to score the most points, LT was an easy number 1 pick. Having LT meant that if the rest of your draft wasn't too bad you were almost guaranteed a spot in your playoff bracket.

Things have changed since then.

LT is coming off a year where he was injured for most of the year and will be 30 when the season starts, which has typically been the age when production begins to decline for running backs. I'm not saying LT is washed up, just that he might not be the clear cut #1 he has been in the past. This year the Chargers also gave a huge contract to Darren Sproles to keep him in San Diego so this could translate into fewer carries for LT. (Which is ridiculous given that LT is more than capable of being the featured back.) If the trend continues then this opens the door for the new class of running backs in this year's draft. So who is the clear cut number one pick this year?

Adrian Peterson?

"All Day" has been regarded as the heir to LT's Automatic 1st pick Throne since he exploded during his rookie season a few years ago. He is fast, powerful, and agile - the running back trifecta. Peterson can run around defenders or run through them. He will find the end zone one way or another. The down side to AP is that he has been prone to injuries through out his career and has ol' Chester Taylor waiting behind him on the depth chart to steal those goal line carries every now and then. Touchdown vultures like Taylor don't help the value of backs like Peterson. A 16 point day (100 yards, 1 TD) is pretty good but 22 (100 yards, 2TDs) is better. Peterson didnt do his fantasy owners many favors in the playoff weeks last year by putting up a couple of single digit performances during the most important part of the fantasy season.

Michael Turner?

The "Burner" had a break out year last year in Atlanta after spending the past few seasons in San Diego as LT's back up. Apparently he was paying attention while he was on the sidelines. I didnt think much of him as a fantasy threat last year and ended up paying for it (Im taking you down this year Foster!). I guess you could say I got Burned? Ok, bad pun and you can hate it if you want. Turner proved his worth in a Falcons offense that was headed into the season with a rookie QB Matt Ryan and a wide out who most thought had breakout potential in Roddy White. This year with a more mature and comfortable Ryan under center and the addition of Tony Gonzalez at tight end the passing game should be opened up a little more for Turner to run wild again this year.

Matt Forte?

Coming off a huge senior season at Tulane (2,000 + yards and 20+ TDs) this rookie wanted to show everyone he was bringing his A game to the NFL. Forte did not disappoint Bears fans (That was Rex Grossman's job and he was not going to let some rookie take it away from him) or fantasy football owners who took a chance and drafted him. The Bears weren't exactly loaded on offense but Forte broke out anyway. Forte rushed for 1200 yards and had 8 rushing TDs and added 400 yards receving along with 4 more receiving TDs. With the Bears offense gaining Jay Cutler in the offseason and Devin Hester being more comfortable at wide out could provide Forte to pick up where he left on last year.

Drew Brees?

Who said you HAD to pick a running back? Over the past few years Drew Brees has led a Saints passing attack that has become feared by secondaries all over the league. You know he is going to throw the ball, but no one can seem to stop it. And if you want a guy that gets a lot of reps and touches why not the only guy on the field that is gauranteed to touch the ball every offensive play? Brees has a beast in Marques Colston (who was hurt for a lot of last season) out at wide out and Reggie Bush catching passes out of the backfield. Lance Moore really came on toward the end of the season and proved he can be another reliable target for Brees. Ok, sure, Drew will throw a interception from time to time (Farve did it, why can't he?) but he will throw for over 300, sometimes even over, 400 yards a game and a couple of TDs. Most standard fantasy leagues award 1 point per every 25 yards and 4 points per passing TD. I'll leave the math up to you. The Saints passing attack has never been the weak point in their passing attack (unless you remember Aaron Brooks - that guy was terrible) and Brees looks poised to have another great season.

So, who is going to be your first pick? Take a second to vote on this week's poll. May you choose wisely if you are lucky enough to grab that piece of paper from that hat with the #1 pick on it. The first pick is easy, it's the rest of your picks that you have to worry about.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Remembering McNair

Over the weekend former NFL Quarterback and League MVP Steve McNair was found shot to death, along with a young woman, in a downtown Nashville condo.

When interviewed McNair's teammates described a tough, loyal person who left everything on the field. Community members in Nashville, where McNair played for the Tennessee Titans, remember his dedication to the community through his charity work.

The recent news of his death and relationship with Sahel Kazemi, his 20 year old girlfriend, has shocked many of his fans. But why?

Steve McNair gained fans by the way he played football. He was a tough quarterback who played injured so often that it forced him to retire at the age of 36. His athletic prowess gained him fans and accolades, not what he did in his personal life. McNair was a football player, not a saint.

The news of his affair with a younger woman shouldnt come as a surprise. We had no idea what McNair did in his personal life, so how can we be shocked when we hear something like this? Sure, we expect our public figures, especially athletes, to be role models but they are often just as flawed as you and I.

Will the news of his affair change the way people view him? Absolutely. People will lose respect for him as a person but that opinion shouldn't tarnish what he accomplished on the football field. McNair was a good quarterback who led a Titans team to the Super Bowl in 2000 and shared the league MVP with Peyton Manning in 2003. Both are accomplishements that most players only dream of but McNair was able to acheive this high level of sucess.

Remember Steve McNair the same way you remembered him before he retired, as a football player.

Florida State Appeals NCAA Decision

Florida State Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden continues his fight against allegations that he knowingly played athletes who were not academically eligible. The penalty given by the NCAA would force Bowden and Florida State to forfeit fourteen total wins which would most likely prevent Bowden, who is near the end of his coaching career, from surpassing Joe Paterno, Head Football Coach at Penn State University, as the winningest football coach in NCAA history. Currently Bowden is only one win away from surpassing Joe Pa’s record, but Paterno continues to coach and adding wins to his record.

The majority of the cheating occurred in an online music history class where it is alleged that staffers helped students and even asking one athlete to take a test for another athlete. As part of the NCAA sanctions the University was stripped of scholarships in ten sports and was placed on probation for a four year period. Florida State is appealing the decision saying that forfeiting the games is too harsh.

I think this is a completely legit penalty. If players are not eligible and you put them in the game you shouldn't get the win. I’m sure it can be devastating to a team when a couple of key players can’t make the grades to stay on the field, but to continue to play them is a slap in the face to all the coaches that are doing the right thing and benching those players as they are required to do.

When it comes down to it there aren’t going to be many surprises when it comes to how well a player will do in their classes. Their academic record precedes them and coaches at all levels should be aware of any potential students who may struggle in class and get them the help they need to succeed in their studies.

As the head football coach you are going to be ultimately responsible for the actions of the entire team – players, coaches, etc. Just like with any business the person at the top has to answer for the mistakes of those below them. It is the responsibility of the person at the top to make sure that everyone under their supervision is doing the right things and not putting the team or university at risk.

Coach Bowden seems to think that since the incident was self reported then they should not have to forfeit the games. Just because you self report something does not mean you should be absolved from the consequences that may follow. If the cheating was self reported then that is admirable, but it does not give you a free pass to do whatever you want as long as you report it before the NCAA finds out.