Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is the worst commissioner in big time pro sports.  Keep in mind, I say that being a self-proclaimed David Stern hater.  To me, you really have to go above and beyond the call of duty to surpass Stern in general all-around lousy-ness.  Goodell has managed to pull it off.

The first three weeks of the new NFL season looks a lot like the old Techmo Bowl video game.  Goodell’s anti-defense rule changes have altered the game to look like a pinball machine, with balls flying all over the field.  Scoring and passing stats are on ridiculous record-shattering roll.  Patriots QB Tom Brady has 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Through three games!  That puts him on pace for nearly 7,000 yards and 60 touchdowns.  Oh yeah, that’s great for the game, totally destroy any semblance of defense.

Then there’s the new kickoff rule that has severely curtailed both returns and starting field position.  Of course, you can no longer even look cockeyed at QBs or receivers without drawing a flag, so it hasn’t hurt offense or scoring.  But what it has done is turn what was the most exciting play in the game into a dull routine of touchback after touchback.

To top it off, today he upheld Terrelle Pryor’s totally unjustified, bogus suspension.  I’m just shocked!  Aren’t you?  I mean allowing the guy who issued the suspension in the first place to rule on the appeal gives about a 0.0% chance of any other outcome, but in Goodell’s NFL, due process is only a sham to give the appearance of fairness anyway.  Forget for a moment that Goodell totally ignored the reason the supplemental draft exists in the first place, twisting logic to issue this ruling, he’s suspending a guy for NCAA transgressions that the NFL has exactly zero jurisdiction over, holding him to a five-game suspension that no one believes for a second Ohio State would’ve honored, and punishing him for “purposely” losing his eligibilty after his coach got fired by being forthright with the NCAA investigation.  Nice job, commish.

Pryor’s coach, Jim Tressel, by the way, will be a consultant for the Colts after his six-game suspension.  But don’t call it a suspension because, for one it’s not, and two, Tressel instituted it largely on himself in solidarity with Pryor and the guys he left behind with the Buckeyes.  That would make Tressel the only guy at any level of this mess with any integrity at all, and the only one who actually gives a damn or has any loyalty to the players.

But hey, the NFL just inked a fat new tv contract, and they totally shanked the NFLPA in the CBA negotiations, getting them to somehow give up financial ground even though the league is awash in cash with more on the way.  Who cares if the product has become a bastardized video game on the field or that he’s making up and enforcing rules out of thin air?

Like I said, Goodell has become the worst commissioner in pro sports.  Of course, if the reports are true about Stern wagging his finger, lecturing NBA players during labor negotiations today, he may well reclaim that title before the weekend is out.  As incredible as it may have seemed a few years ago, this pair really do make Bud Selig look like a professional, competent leader.  Who woulda thought?

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I’m no Tim Tebow fan, the way he flaunts his religion turns me off, and he comes off as a bit arrogant.  I think former Denver coach Josh McDaniels over-reached by a good two rounds when he traded up to pick him in the first round two years ago.  That being said, the guy is getting a serious screwjob by the Broncos right about now.  It does raise an interesting philosophical question, though.  Does your virginity remain intact when you get bent over by your employer?

Look, there is no debate in my mind that, until he proves otherwise, Kyle Orton is and should be the starting quarterback in Denver.  The guy’s pretty good.  He’s not great, but he can run an offense, he doesn’t make a ton of mistakes and he’s not gonna kill you on Sundays.  I’ve got no issue with Orton being the guy.

But Brady Quinn as the backup?  Seriously?  I’ve watched Tebow play in his starts last season and in the preseason.  I’ve watched Quinn play in his three seasons in Cleveland.  There is quite simply no conceivable way anyone, anywhere could possibly believe that Quinn has more upside than Tebow.  Quinn was nothing short of absolutely putrid in his previous on-field efforts.  I’m pretty sure I could play better, given a chance.  Yet somehow, we’re expected to believe that Quinn is the better choice and that Tebow needs to either be traded or outright released.

This is complete bull.  This has more to do with the two John’s (Fox and Elway) trying to wipe out McDaniels’ short legacy than anything Tebow has or hasn’t done.  What has he done, by the way?  Well, he threw 5 touchdowns against 3 interceptions with a QB rating of 82.1 and rushed for 5.3 yards per on 43 carries and 6 more touchdowns in limited action last year as a rookie.  In the preseason this year, he’s 7 for 9 passing, 11 yards per attempt, with a rating of 113.7 and 22 rushing yards on just 3 carries for a 7.3 clip.  Yeah, he totally sucks.  Why are they keeping this hack around?

Quinn, on the other hand, has had ample opportunity to win the starting job in Cleveland over the years, and he’s produced a career QB rating in the mid 60s.  In the preseason with Denver, he’s got the most attempts, the lowest completion percentage, the lowest yards per attempt, the most interceptions and the lowest rating of the three Denver QBs.  Yet somehow, he’s “outplayed” Tebow and has “earned” the backup spot.

John Fox isn’t exactly a coaching mastermind, either.  He’s what I refer to as a member of the retread carousel, that being a failed coach who gets fired from one job and then inexplicably lands another right away.  He had a couple good years in Carolina, more bad ones, and his idea of a great QB was overpaying to keep World League retread Jake Delhomme in the league several years after it was obvious he was finished.  Fox is little more than a poor man’s Jeff Fisher.  Lots of talent year after year, and consistently disappointing results.

I’m not sold Tebow will ever be a consistent contributor in the NFL, but I’m damn sure that Quinn will never be.  Tebow has infinitely more potential, and a range of skills that far exceeds Quinn’s in a much smaller body of experience.  At this point, I hope he does get released just so he can get a chance somewhere else with a coach who’s not judging him based on some difficult to comprehend standard and might be able to figure out a way to use his unique skill set.

Far be it for me to wish an injury on any player, but if they do move Tebow out, it would totally serve Fox and Denver right if Orton were to go down and Quinn be forced to play.  Maybe then, they’ll see what everyone in Cleveland (and anyone who’s actually watched an NFL game) already knows; Brady Quinn is a total, indefensible trainwreck under center.

So are we supposed to believe that Terrelle Pryor’s 5-game NFL suspension was just coincidentally the same length as the one he agreed to at Ohio State?  Is there any precedent whatsoever for suspending a guy who isn’t even in your league as yet?  And, at what point did it become the NFL’s job to enforce NCAA penalties?

According to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell–or is he more appropriately addressed as Emporer now because apparently he can just make up whatever rules he likes on a whim–it was necessary to issue a suspension to Pryor in order to “protect the integrity of the draft process.”  Let’s forget for a moment that we’re talking about the supplemental draft, an add-on to the regular draft specifically intended for people who lose college eligibility after the deadline to enter the regular draft, you know, like Terrelle Pryor.  According to Goodell, they aren’t really punishing Pryor for NCAA transgressions.  Yeah, that’s why it’s an unusual five-game suspension, right?  Has absolutely nothing to do with the five-game ban he agreed to at OSU.  Sure, I buy that.  And Buffalo’s gonna win the Superbowl this year, too.

To make matters worse, Goodell has reportedly told Pryor he can appeal up to three days after he signs with a team, but he also has to accept the penalty to be eligible to enter the league in the first place, which some have suggested would mean he forfeits the legal right to appeal.  Talk about a catch 22, you have to be in the league to appeal, but you can’t get into the league without giving up your right to appeal. 

It does make a bit of sense, though.  Goodell can’t really suspend Pryor until he’s actually in the league, so Pryor can’t really forfeit his right to appeal by agreeing to a suspension Goodell has no standing to issue in the first place.  The supposed deal isn’t that so much as it’s a notification from Goodell to Pryor that you’re in the draft, but I’m suspending you as soon as you are legally under my control. 

Not only do I think Pryor should appeal, he should sue both Goodell and the league as well.  Pryor likely wasn’t going to be a first round pick in any circumstance, but if you don’t think this suspension is going to affect what round he’s picked in and what kind of contract he receives, you’re just naive.  This baseless, unprecedented suspension will cost Pryor real money, and possibly even the opportunity for an NFL career if he doesn’t get drafted at all, a distinct possibility.

Popular opinion is that Pryor has earned this kind of treatment through his conduct at Ohio State.  Really?  Was his conduct any worse than his coach, who willfully looked the other way, and likely has been for who knows how long?  Was it any worse than the school itself and the BCS getting together on the bogus 5-game suspension in the first place so clearly ineligible players could be on the field for the money making bowl game?  Did he have a booster pay for a prostitute and then her abortion later?  And let’s not forget, the celebrated #1 pick in the regular draft Cam Newton was literally shopped around to the highest bidder by his own father, yet somehow managed to stay eligible to win a Heisman Trophy and National Championship. Auburn is still under investigation, by the way, as is the team they beat for the title, the Oregon Ducks.  But, by all means, let’s hammer Pryor for selling his own stuff and gettin some free tattoos.  Absolutely.

And how exactly did Pryor purposely sabotage his eligibility, as the NFL claims?  By cooperating with the NCAA and actually truthfully answering their questions and providing documentation.  He did what he was supposed to do and fessed up, and the NFL suspends him for it.  He cut that bogus suspension deal with Tressel anyway, who was later forced to resign.  There is very little doubt, once the investigation ramped up, that Pryor would never have seen the field this season at OSU under any circumstances.  And all of this–Tressel’s resignation, his testimony to the NCAA and the intensifying investigation–all happened well after the Jan.15 draft entry deadline.  Not only should Pryor been obviously eligible for the supplemental draft, he’s the exact kind of case it was designed for to begin with.  The notion that his circumstances didn’t change for the worse after the January deadline is willfully ignorant at best and purposely disingenuous at worst.

This should have been a cut and dried decision; either Pryor is eligible for the supplemental draft or he’s not and has to wait until next year.  And if Goodell had simply ruled him ineligible, the entire matter wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  I would still have disagreed, and thought it unfair, but at least a solid case could be made and justified.  This hybrid ruling–yes, you’re eligible but you’re also suspended–has no defense or justification in the rules or the law.  It’s been invented out of whole cloth by a commissioner drunk with his own power and looks more like a giveaway to his buddy, NCAA President Mark Emmert, than any genuine attempt to protect anything about the NFL’s draft process.

There is no rule Goodell is following to issue this decision.  There is no precedent under which this falls, in fact, the precedents almost all side with Pryor.  There is no legal standing to suspend a guy who isn’t even part of the league as yet.  On top of it all, it treats players who commit NCAA violations differently than coaches who do the same thing (I, among others, are looking at you, Pete Carroll).

Worse yet, this decision does the exact opposite of the stated goal of protecting the integrity of the draft.  By making up rules as he goes along, Goodell is threatening that integrity he claims to be defending.  What we have here is not justice or fairness.  What it really comes down to is a ruler with nearly unlimited power inventing rules and ignoring inconvenient realities to punish a player for violating someone else’s rules that don’t even come into his purview.

This is all about protecting Emmert and the corrupt NCAA system which serves as a free de facto minor league for the NFL.  Terrelle Pryor just happens to be the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Karma? Maybe. But fairness under the rules?  Not even close.

Read this article with photos on Bleacher Report

Read the open comments section of almost any article on the NFL lockout, and you’ll find a large percentage of the people holding the opinion that it’s the players who are at fault for this.  They’re greedy, overpaid bums who should just shut up and do whatever the owners say because they’re the employees.  The owners should just fire them all and start over with new players at much lower salaries.  And on and on it goes.

It amazes me that in this day and age, when so many businesses are essentially giving the shaft to their own employees to maximize profits for themselves, that anyone would support a big business attempt to do the same.  Maybe it’s envy because the players are so well paid and do actually have some leverage over their employers, two things the average American very likely lacks, but that doesn’t make it right.

There are numerous fallacies about the lockout that have been bandied about, by both participants in the labor battle and fans in the comment sections everywhere.  In this article, I’m going to address four of what I consider the main ones, and explain why I am 100% with the players on this and why guys like Jerry Jones are the real bad guys at whom we should be throwing our venom.

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See this article with photos on Bleacher Report

Last week, the Green Bay Packers went into Philadelphia and beat Michael Vick and the Eagles.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a fantastic game.  He didn’t pile up the yardage but he had three touchdowns, was very efficient and no interceptions.  Most impressively, they somehow managed to produce a 123 yard game on the ground for someone named James Starks.  All season long, Green Bay’s offense has been all about Rodgers and the passing game.  Have they found some legitimate balance now, or was that a flash in the pan brought about by a poor Eagles defensive performance?

The Atlanta Falcons are possibly the most below-the-radar 13-3 top seed in a long time.  They just keep on winning week after week, yet teams like New England, Pittsburgh, the New York Jets, the Packers and even the now-eliminated Saints have gotten more love as a Superbowl contender.  Atlanta has an excellent defense, a first-rate franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan, a Pro Bowl caliber feature back in Michael Turner, one of the best receivers in the league in Roddy White and possibly the greatest tight end of all time in Tony Gonzalez.  Would it kill somebody to give them a little press?

But, on the other hand, teams have done this before.  A good team suddenly jumps up to 13 or 14 win territory only to get exposed come the post-season (I’m lookin’ at you, Tennessee).  Are the Falcons for real or are they just the beneficiary of a weaker than normal NFC? (more…)

See this article with photos on Bleacher Report

Last weekend saw three of four road teams come out and win, with the only home team to hold serve being the improbable Seattle Seahawks.  What does that mean for this weekend, if anything?  Well, home field advantage clearly isn’t what it used to be, and the lower seeded division winners in both conferences are somewhat inferior to the higher seeded wild cards.  This weekend, however, the home teams are the top two teams in each conference and that makes winning at home a more likely thing, right?

The first game of the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs is going to be a battle as the Pittsburgh Steelers host divisional blood rival, the Baltimore Ravens.  Pittsburgh enters the playoffs after a bye week coming off of two easy wins over Carolina and Cleveland by a combined score of 68-12.  Baltimore comes in fresh off of a total shellacking of the Chiefs in Kansas City last week, 30-7.  The Ravens have won five in a row and seven out of eight.  Their only loss?  To these Steelers back in Week 13.

Which of these two dominant teams will be the first to earn a spot in the Conference Championships next week? (more…)

See this article with photos on Bleacher Report

Michael Vick pulled off one of the most remarkable career turn-arounds in league history this season.  Vick was an other-worldly talent with Atlanta early in his career, making multiple Pro-Bowls and playing the quarterback position like we’ve never seen before.  Then the dog-fighting scandal happened.  Two years out of the league, a stint in Leavenworth and an ugly bankruptcy followed.

Even when given a chance by the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick, with his play, showed little to indicate that he could return to glory as a starting QB.  Kevin Kolb was anointed the starter, then he got hurt in Week 1 against these same Green Bay Packers, Vick came in the game, and the rest is history.

Green Bay started out well enough, 7-3 after ten games and dreams of a division title and a playoff bye looking realistic.  Then they lost three out of four to Atlanta, New England and an embarrassing 7-3 loss to Detroit where Aaron Rodgers got banged up.  Only after coming back to lead Green Bay to big wins over the Giants and the Bears, did Rodgers even get the team into the playoffs at all.

It’s fitting that Green Bay has drawn the Eagles in their first playoff game.  They created Michael Vick, so to speak, or at least created the circumstance that allowed him to get on the field.  If Kolb doesn’t leave that game in week 1, would Vick have even gotten a start this season?  And if so, could things have worked out as well as they did?  They unleashed this guy on the rest of the league, and now it’s up to them to either find a way to stop him or be destroyed by him.  It’s epic, a little like Frankenstein. (more…)