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A parent’s guide to profiting from their little college athlete – with help from Taylor Martinez’ dad Casey

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Today we learned that Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez’ father has a business specializing in selling Cornhuskers apparel. The company is ingeniously called Corn Fed. Just like the cows I like to eat. With a 90% of the proceeds going to the father, Casey, what are the restrictions on any Nebraska alumni or boosters from spending overwhelming amounts of money on these products, no matter what the quality is? Can you see Pandora’s Box opening?

So in honor of the most hypocritical years in the history of the NCAA organization, the following is a guide for parents of high school athletes whose talents are just too good to attend college without a price. Kind of like Cam Newton and Taylor Martinez.

  1. Parents with the entrepreneurial bug need to incorporate a new business designed to sell apparel or anything else with a prospective schools logo. In fact if the parent is really good, they will offer a line of multiple schools apparel in the run-up to signing day. That way each schools boosters can go on a shopping spree and the school with the most apparel sold can claim the services of the little superstar athlete. That’s called a win-win situation.
  2. For those who don’t have that entrepreneurial bug, then plausible deniability is for you. Here’s what you do, you can shake down as many schools and boosters as you like, without heavy scrutiny, especially if you’re kid is the best Heisman candidate in decades, as long as you don’t bring the naïve youngster into the process. Ensuring the purity of the child is a main concern here.

What not to do?

  1. Don’t let your kid go at this alone. Otherwise they might end up like those poor North Carolina players that took money the old fashioned way from agent runners and ended up ineligible.
  2. Don’t let your kid sell their rings, trophies, or anything else they received while at the university.
  3. No tattoos either. Don’t want to have to answer how those expensive pieces of art end up on your kids’ arms and necks.

So there you have it. The days of $100 handshakes and phony summer jobs are a thing of the past. Now just bring your Dad along for the ride. Enjoy.

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Five Sports Resolutions for the New Year

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

In honor of the coming New Year, I have put together my New Year’s resolutions for the world of sports. For fear of the potential of overdoing it, this list has been limited to five.

 

When's the parade?

1. The biggest story of 2011, arguably, was LeBron James taking “his talents to South Beach”. LeBron needs to resolve to SHUT UP for the time being and keep from sticking his foot into his mouth. Leave the foot in mouth stuff to Rex Ryan when he’s alone, with or without a camera, with his wife.

LeBron’s year started with the indecision of what he would do. That was followed by him giving up against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Then here came the “Decision”. That was followed by the coronation with Wade and Bosh. Next LeBron and company laid an egg to start the season. Because accountability, at least publicly, isn’t LeBron’s calling card, “sources” began to badmouth the head coach and laid the problems associated with Miami’s slow start at the feet of Erik Spoelstra. Then, when given the chance to be classy in Cleveland, he failed again. Finally, with the year winding down, LeBron decided to endorse eliminating 4 teams and numerous player jobs so more teams can have 2-3 superstars like they had in the 80s. Except, LeBron, only 5-6 teams in the 80s had that kind of talent, unlike today where there are probably 8-10 teams that have 2-3 superstars on their teams and bad teams even have some. If LeBron was around in 1983, he probably would have wanted to contract the Bulls so Orlando Woolridge cool join Dominique in Atlanta. How exciting would that be?

So the #1 resolution for 2011: Shut up LeBron and maybe people will forget that you’re a disingenuous moron and appreciate you for being one of the 2-3 best players of your generation. And if you don’t like that, you need to get over it.

 

This system sucks!

2. College football hypocrisy seems to be an annual issue. The BCS garbage is one issue that I’ve already countered with a prospective playoff system.

Next, one of these years college administrators will come out of the closet and be entirely open about the fact that college sports, specifically football and men’s basketball, are big business and decisions are made as much, or more, based on revenues as opposed to wins and losses. That’s why bad coaches remain in place, typically because of cost prohibitive buyouts and seemingly good coaches, like Ralph Friedgen at Maryland and Bill Stewart at West Virginia, are jettisoned, or soon to be let go because of money.

Friedgen is being let go despite winning the 2010 ACC coach of the year award and 9 games. Friedgen’s Terps played in the Orange Bowl following his first season in 2001 and never returned to a high payout BCS game. Big money is behind Friedgen’s exit as well.

Stewart has won 9 or more games in each of his 3 seasons as head coach at West Virginia. Stewart will be head coach next season while HC in waiting, Dana Holgorsen, comes in from Oklahoma State to change the offensive system for a season before taking over. West Virginia AD Oliver Luck, somewhat honestly, stated that he didn’t feel that West Virginia could compete for a national championship with Stewart as head coach. What he didn’t say was that he was uneasy about the Mountaineers chances of winning a Big East title with Stewart despite the lack of Top 25 competition in the conference. This season’s loss to UConn kept West Virginia from playing Oklahoma on New Year’s night for a $13 million payday.

Those two coaching examples are actually refreshing when it comes to standard NCAA hypocrisy. Usually we hear about graduation rates and GPAs when justifying firing an underachieving coach as to not imply that wins and losses matter.

But in keeping with the tradition of putting money first instead of honesty and integrity, the NCAA decided to suspend 5 Ohio State players for games at the start of NEXT season for indiscretions committed in previous years. They will still be eligible to attract high ratings in next week’s Sugar Bowl. This comes on the heels of the Cam Newton decision which essentially permitted Newton’s father, Cecil, carte blanche in shaking down prospective colleges that recruited Cam, as long as Cam didn’t KNOW anything was going on. Would these situations been handled the same way had players at Boise State or TCU committed these infractions? You know the answer as well as I.

Resolution #2: If you’re all about money share the wealth with the players, if not, don’t let ratings and the money that they generate affect decisions regarding eligibility of players who have received or solicited illegal benefits. You can’t have it both ways.

 

"How do we make $$ off of player safety?"

3. The NFL needs Olympic-style, stringent PED testing in their upcoming collective bargaining agreement. If the NFL is really serious about player safety and “the kids”, then they will make this a high priority in the upcoming negotiations.

There are two issues that go with the PED issue. One is the obvious concerns about the unknown consequences of ingesting or injecting these substances and how these players will be affected in 10, 20, or 30 years. When players weigh the unknown against the potential of making millions of dollars or even just making a team, the unknown rarely wins out. That’s why the decision needs to be taken out of their hands.

The second, indirect, issue that is associated with the PED use in the NFL is the proliferation of head injuries throughout the league. Some of these injuries would happen in any era, with any size of player. Sometimes you just get dinged. But a lot of these hits are as violent as they are because of the speed and size of the individuals involved. James Harrison is a 6-0, 245 lb linebacker who has become the NFL’s poster boy for borderline hits considered to be over the edge. He plays the game at a high speed, moving around like safeties from a different era and with the size of a defensive end from a different era. When combining his speed, quickness, and size, Harrison can and usually does unleash incredibly violent hits on ball carriers and receivers that frequently show up on highlight films.

Not accusing the sometimes volatile Harrison, but what if he was a step slower and 15-20 lbs lighter. Like, for instance, former Steelers great linebacker Jack Ham who played the game at 6-1 and 225 lbs. Watching the way Ham tackles in that piece makes you wonder when coaches stopped teaching players how to tackle. You can’t convince me that the hits would be just as violent if the players involved were slightly smaller and a half-step slower. The greater the size and higher the speed are the known benefits of PED use an ultimately result in an increased level of violent hits in an already hard-hitting league.

Resolution #3: If eliminating, or drastically reducing the use of PEDs in the NFL results in smaller, slower players who unleash hits that causes fewer concussions, why would this be a bad thing? The NFL, and other professional sports, shouldn’t be reserved for the athletes with the least morals and indiscretion for their own well-being.

 

It's awesome, baby!

4. Why does every talking head want 50 man rosters for all star teams and 75 teams in the NCAA tournament?

With the Pro Bowl selections having come out on Tuesday, analysts like to tell us who got snubbed from selection to the NFL all star teams. Now, this isn’t just an NFL issue, just wait until the NBA selections in February. But the NFL just happened and that provided a reminder of what I hate about the commentary on these issues.

I don’t mind hearing about who got snubbed. Everybody plays that game and it’s usually fun to do. But when telling us who got snubbed, follow it up with who needs to go. The AFC Pro Bowl team can’t have 6 halfbacks. Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, and Maurice Jones-Drew made the team. If you want Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, or even Peyton Hillis (yes, I heard somebody mention him), then you need to tell us why you would choose that player over one or more of the three that were picked.

This isn’t just an NFL problem. Baseball talking heads put together 60 man rosters with 25 pitchers when given a chance. There’s a reason why there’s a cutoff at a certain number. Some guys are just not good enough in a certain year. But it’s not just former players cheering on their former comrades. The annual announcement of the field of 64, 65, and now 68 teams for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is always followed by Dick Vitale’s 10-12 snubs of teams coached by his favorite coaches. Wait for Duke’s 14-18 season; Dukie V will be aghast that they’re not a 9 seed placed in Greensboro. It’s not just Vitale either. Digger Phelps is always there to make Vitale look coherent and from the site of the Big Ten tournament, Clark Kellogg wonders why more Big Ten schools weren’t selected.

Resolution #4: In the world of sports commentators, especially those former coaches and players, mediocrity is to be overlooked if it’s only perceived as temporary or the people involved are close personal friends. Just once, would one of these talking heads have the stones to wonder why a player made an all star team or a big conference team made the Big Dance. The only time you hear a selection criticized is when the evil fans make it.

 

Winningest professional athlete ever

5. If drug addicts, rapists, people who have committed manslaughter, dog killers, and straight out cheaters are allowed to return to their games, compete at the highest level and earn millions of dollars, why can’t baseball induct Peter Edward Rose into the Hall of Fame?

It’s been over 21 years since then MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti suspended Pete Rose for life for gambling on baseball games while MANAGING the Cincinnati Reds from 1987-1988. There have not been any accusations, founded or unfounded, that Rose bet on games during his playing career. If Pete Rose never managed a game in baseball, he still would have retired with 4256 hits, 3 World Series championships, and more wins as a player than any other athlete in the history of organized sports. Frank Robinson isn’t in the Hall of Fame because of his .475 winning percentage as a manager, he’s in there because of the 586 home runs, 85 hit as Rose’s teammate in Cincinnati, and championships that he helped win in Baltimore.

There are Hall of Fame players who managed that have made it to Cooperstown, like Robinson. There are Hall of Fame managers who played, like the soon to be inducted Bobby Cox. Cox is an interesting example because nobody expects his candidacy to be affected by his domestic abuse incident in 1995. There was no discipline handed down by MLB for the all-time great manager.

Pete Rose has played in more games, had more at-bats, gotten more hits, and won more games than any player in the history of the game. The merit of Rose’s inclusion into the Hall of Fame is not in doubt as far as his playing career is concerned. Twenty one years after the suspension, the time has come for the Baseball Hall of Fame needs to include one of the most accomplished players ever to play the game. Rose will turn 70 on April 14th. Ironically a day before tax day as it was the tax evasion charges that uncovered his baseball related gambling. People at that age usually don’t have that much left. There’s arguably no brighter baseball mind than Pete Rose and he could be a spectacular television analyst if given the opportunity. He doesn’t have to be brought back in uniform. During a year in which one of the two candidates for the MVP award in football is on parole, the time has come for the all-time hit leader to return to the game of baseball.

Safe! In Cooperstown!

Resolution #5: Baseball turned a blind eye to sacred records falling left and right during the steroid era, at 70 years old and 21 years out of the game, they now need to bring Pete Rose back into it.

Pro Football Week 16 Sunday Recap

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are my thoughts on this weekend’s games as I still wonder if Tony Dungy is the best choice to be the next coach of the Cowboys

Cardinals beat Cowboys 27-26: Well, the Cowboys found another way to lose as their kicker blew an extra point in this one. That kind of summed up their year, starting with the end of first half fumble against the Redskins and culminating in this. Next week’s game in Philly should be a three touchdown blowout as this team runs to the offseason and Jason Garrett can put 4-4 as interim head coach on his resume. The good news is that the Cowboys could sneak into the top 5 on draft day. With the top level quality in this draft, the Cowboys might be able to drop down and get an additional 1 or 2.

Patriots beat Bills 34-3: Another ho-hum affair for the team that clinched the best record in the AFC. Brady continues to play “perfect” and Pats defense has given up 7 or less in 3 of their last 4 after not holding opponents under 10 all season. Seven straight victories for the Pats are the most since their undefeated regular season in 2007. The 2001 Pats won 6 straight and 8 of 9 going into the playoffs, the 2003 Pats won 12 straight, and the 2004 Pats won 8 of 9 going into playoffs. This team plays similar and the results are as well.

Bears beat Jets 38-34: Matt Forte ran for over 100 yards for only the third time this season as the Jets lost for the third time in four games. Could all of the distractions finally be catching up to the Jets? A month ago the talk was about a Super Bowl and now the coach is becoming a walking punch line and the defense is having problems stopping anybody. The Bears can clinch the 2 spot and a bye with an Eagles loss or a win next week at Lambeau.  Soldier Field is going to be a tough place to win in January. The Jets host Buffalo needing a Steelers loss and a win to get to the 5 spot.

Ravens beat Browns 20-10: The former Browns continue to haunt Cleveland worse than LeBron. The Ravens are hanging in the shadows as the playoffs approach. The Patriots get a lot of hype and already beat the Ravens earlier this season. But the Ravens dominated them last year as they eliminated the Pats from the playoffs. There seems to be even more animosity between the Pats and Ravens then the Pats and Jets. The Ravens can win the division with a win against Cincinnati and a Steelers loss to the Browns.

Chiefs beat the Titans 34-14: The Chiefs clinched the AFC West for the first time since 2003 with the help of the Bengals. The Chiefs have a stellar defense and their own triplets with Cassel, Charles, and Bowe. The best rushing team in football is going to be a difficult out in the postseason. Including this season’s five; there have been 70 quarterback seasons with 30+ TD passes. Matt Cassel is 3 TD passes away from joining that club. The Chiefs are in the 3rd spot but lose the tiebreaker if they’re tied with the Colts. The Raiders come to town to close out their season on Sunday.  

Rams beat 49ers 25-17: The 49ers lost the game and Mike Singletary lost his job later in the evening. Somebody will give him a chance to redeem himself as a defensive coordinator and not regret it. This situation just highlights how difficult it is to coach in the NFL. This team hasn’t had stability at the QB position since Jeff Garcia. The Rams win in Seattle and get into the playoffs. Sam Bradford has to be the ROY if they win on Sunday.

Lions beat Dolphins 34-27: The Lions win back-to-back road games after losing an NFL record 26 straight. The Dolphins finish at 1-7 at home, including the Browns, Bills, and Lions to finish the season. Their home losses were not bad until that string. Tony Sparano will most likely suffer the consequences and probably should since a 1-7 home record doesn’t get you into the playoffs or, more importantly, help fill the stadium. The Lions are a definite sleeper going into next season if Matthew Stafford is healthy.

Redskins beat Jaguars 20-17: Believe it or not, this game didn’t really mean that much for the Jags. If the Colts lose to the Titans next week, the Jags are in a win and they’re in position in Houston. But for that to happen, MJD will need to be healthier and productive against the Texans on Sunday.

Bengals beat Chargers 34-20: This game was the nail in the proverbial Chargers’ coffin. The Bengals have now won 2 in a row and are reportedly petitioning the league to not count their 0-8 record in October and November. Marvin Lewis is completing his contract, but the team has surprisingly not quit on him and so far it appears like he might return. As for Norv Turner, GM AJ Smith is renowned for his hardheadedness and will probably bring Norv back for what might be their final season in San Diego. He’s not old yet, but Philip Rivers will be 30 when next season ends and the window of opportunity with a great quarterback will close sooner than anticipated for the Chargers. That needs to be in their minds when they decide on their coaching situation for next season.

Broncos beat Texans 24-23: Tim Tebow threw for over 300 yards and a TD and then ran for one as he brought the Broncos back from 17-0 at halftime to win his first game as a starter. Tebow has sort of a Doug Flutie feel to him as the talent evaluators find problems with him, but he finds a way to win. Do the Texans move on from Gary Kubiak and if they do, will the Broncos hire him?

Colts beat Raiders 31-26: The Colts running game showed up again (191 yards) and their defense stuffed the 3rd ranked rushing offense, holding them to only 80 yards. The Colts need to win at home against the Titans or have the Jaguars lose in Houston to make the playoffs. If they win and the Chiefs lose, they get the 3 seed and a probable matchup with the Jets.

Packers beat Giants 45-17: This was a beat down in Lambeau. Aaron Rodgers returned and was well protected as he threw for 404 yards and 4 TDs. That had to be the best non-Brady/Vick performance of the year and top 5 overall. The Giants turned the ball over 6 times and that looks like it might lead to the downfall of Coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin’s trademark is discipline and holding onto the football.  The turnovers are indicative of a team that isn’t as disciplined as they should be. Both teams are now tied at 9-6 and need to win next week. The Giants play at FedEx against the Redskins and the Packers host the Bears in Lambeau. The Skins are done but the Bears are still playing for a bye. That should work to the Giants advantage.

Buccaneers beat Seahawks 38-15: Josh Freeman is a beast as he threw for a career high 5 TD passes yesterday against the Seahawks in front of a not so capacity crowd of 46,576. Tampa Bay has their best quarterback since Doug Williams and a winning team and still don’t support this team. Ridiculous. How good was Freeman? His 21 completions were to 10 different receivers. Pretty good. He’s still at the top of the list of first and second year quarterbacks that I would want to build my team around. The Bucs need to win at New Orleans next week and hope. Hope for a Saints loss tonight and either a Giants loss or Packers loss. Or they need both the Giants and Packers to lose next week.

Tonight I like the Saints. The winner of this game might be my favorite to win the NFC as the Saints are rolling and the Falcons haven’t lost outside of the Keystone State. This game should be a pre-playoff statement game where the winner can feel like they will have an advantage if they play again and that could happen as soon as the Divisional Playoff round. The Falcons have to feel like they can do their part to eliminate the Saints if they beat them. They need to feel like it will be easily to beat the Saints tonight rather than in three weeks. The Saints had won 6 straight until last week’s loss to the Ravens. The Saints will probably have to win either tonight or next Sunday against the Bucs to make the playoffs. A win would set them up with the hapless winner of the NFC West in the wild card round. That’s almost like getting a bye week and should be enough motivation for the Super Bowl champs to win tonight.

I concur with Governor Ed Rendell about the Eagles and Vikings game.

Post Week 14 MVP ballot (If I had one):

1. Tom Brady QB Patriots: It’s tough to not vote for Brady when he is having, arguably, the best season of his career. Who is going to be the Patriots’ deep guy without Moss? Hah.

2. Michael Vick QB Eagles: As great as Vick has been, if the Eagles don’t win in Chicago, there won’t be any reunions in Atlanta for the NFC championship game. The Eagles have already lost there with Vick and the weather shouldn’t be better in the middle of January.

3(tie). Julius Peppers DE Bears and Clay Matthews LB Packers: These two have dominated on two of the best defenses in the league. Both seem to make key plays that lead to wins on a weekly basis. That play yesterday by Matthews to rundown Brandon Jacobs was indicative of what he’s brought in his two years in the league. Peppers is the most disruptive pass rusher of his era and his freakish athletic ability enables him to defend passes and rundown running backs like a linebacker or safety.

My Super Bowl pick, this week, is the Patriots to beat the winner of tonight’s game (Saints/Falcons).

Expect Jerry Jones to target Tony Dungy to be the Cowboys new coach

December 26, 2010 1 comment

With all of the talk about Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden, nobody is mentioning Tony Dungy as a potential candidate for the Cowboys job. Last night on the NFL Network, Jerry Jones hinted that he might be targeting a former Super Bowl winning coach to revive the Cowboys. Jones specifically mentioned that nobody has won Super Bowls as head coach of more than one team. Perhaps Jones will try to use that carrot to target the retired Dungy.

The Cowboys job is not an ordinary job in sports. It’s on the level of the Yankees, Lakers and Celtics, and the Canadiens in terms of prestige and continuous scrutiny. It’s not for everyone as many have proved during Jones’ ownership. No matter where you live, just think about how many times you’ve seen the bad Cowboys play this season on television. There will probably be only 3 games or so not seen by most of the country. That kind of visibility is naturally attractive to big name coaches and the current season of embarrassing play could be motivating Jones into making a big hire. There’s a lot of money to be made in Dallas by increasing game attendance from 80K per game to over 100K per game. That’s millions per game for Jones and the Cowboys. Salary should not be an issue in this hire.

Why Tony Dungy then? Wouldn’t Cowher or Gruden better embrace the fishbowl environment in Dallas? Dungy couldn’t possibly want to coach in that type of environment, could he? Well Dungy has a coaching demeanor reminiscent of former Cowboys coach Tom Landry in addition to their deep spiritual beliefs. Dungy doesn’t have that persona of being a control freak and grocery shopper that former successful Cowboys coaches Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells had. There would be no potential clashing of egos in Big D. Dungy would definitely help Jones sell tickets, probably as much or more than Gruden and Cowher. There isn’t a more respected person involved with the NFL as far as head coaches go than Dungy and he brings that defensive background that Jones will need to address in the offseason. There’s no downside to hiring Tony Dungy if you’re Jerry Jones.

Why would Tony Dungy ever consider coaching the Cowboys? If Dungy were to coach again, where would he go? There’s no bigger stage than the Cowboys and Dungy has personal aspirations in terms of being a positive role model and community leader to would be enhanced by his weekly appearances on national television leading “America’s Team”. Dungy would also become the first black head coach of possibly the most recognizable franchise in professional sports. Don’t discount that factor as Dungy takes immense pride in those types of accomplishments. There’s really no other place that would fit Dungy better than this.

Typically when something looks too good to be true, it usually is. But Jerry Jones is different and he always thinks big and shoots for the stars when he can. This is one of those situations and listening to Jones before last night’s game this possibility sounded intriguing, but after the game it sounded like Jones has been humbled to the point where he is resigned to hiring a big-time former Super Bowl winning coach. The potential partnership between Jones and Dungy works for Jones because Dungy doesn’t need or crave the attention. That’s perfect for Jerry. Jones goal is to continuously expand and enhance the Cowboys brand worldwide and who doesn’t want to see Tony Dungy be successful?

NFL Week 16 Preview

December 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are my thoughts on this week’s NFL slate of games while I wonder where TO will be keeping it real next year…

Cowboys at Cardinals: Tonight’s game is the first of a group of “who cares” games. Both teams are positioning for a top 10 pick on draft day 2011. The Cards know they need a QB and the Cowboys fans know they need a new QB. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, the owner/president/general manager doesn’t know this yet. The Cowboys have been winning some ugly football games with Garrett and should continue tonight.

Patriots at Bills: The Pats just need a win to clinch the division and home field throughout the AFC playoffs. The Bills have won 4 of 5 and are taking themselves out of position for a top 10 pick. This week should get them back on track as the Pats clinch.

Jets at Bears: The good news for the Jets is that it looks like Mark Sanchez will start. The good news for the Bears is that it looks like Mark Sanchez will start. Why? Sanchez has thrown for only 4 TD’s and 17 INT’s in games played in less than 45 degrees. Guess how cold it’s supposed to be in Chicago for this one? Add in the Bears stifling run defense and you can imagine Sanchez running from Defensive POY candidate Julius Peppers frequently. The Bears have won 6 of 7 and the key has been Matt Forte and the ability to protect the football. After breaking 45 yards just once in his first 7 games, Forte has gone over that total in 6 of the last 7. The only game Forte didn’t run that well was against the Patriots. He’s averaged over 81 yards per game in those 6 victories. The Bears have also taken care of the football by winning the turnover battle by 8 in their 6 wins. The Jets win this one and they’re in the playoffs. The Bears need this to keep ahead of the Eagles for the NFC 2 seed and a wild card round bye. Look for the Bears defense to force 3 or more turnovers and either score on defense or special teams to give them the win at Soldier Field.

Ravens at Browns: The annual Art Modell Hate Bowl is being held tomorrow in northeast Ohio. The Ravens need to win and they’re in. If they win out they can win the division if the Steelers lose next week.

Titans at Chiefs: The Titans broke their losing string last week, but that was more of a win for the man who pays the checks as they beat Bud Adams’ hometown team. This week, they face the Chiefs who are 6-0 at Arrowhead. The Chiefs are playing well with Cassel at QB and Jamaal Charles might win the rushing title. The Chiefs need to win out with two home games. This will be the first of two needed wins.

49ers at Rams: My favorite division. The Rams control their own destiny and the Niners control theirs if the Bucs beat the Seahawks. Got that? The Niners go back to Troy Smith this week but are still 1-6 on the road. The Rams get the win and play for the division next week in Seattle.

Lions at Dolphins: The Lions broke their NFL record 26 game road losing streak last week in Tampa and stay in Florida to play the Fins. The undercard might be Ricky vs. Gunther. Pedro Martinez against Don Zimmer, football style. The Dolphins are 1-6 at home and heading for 1-7. Lions win.

Redskins at Jaguars: MJD is doubtful, heading towards out. That leaves Rashad Jennings to attack the worst defense in the league. The Skins are slightly better against the run at 27th in the league. The Jags need help to win the division or get a wildcard. But they don’t have a chance if they don’t win this one. The Rex Grossman era started with a 4 TD game in a loss last week for the Skins. Look for bad Rex to show up and the Jags keep their playoff hopes alive.

Chargers at Bengals: The Chargers are 2-4 on the road and need two straight and a Chiefs loss to win the division. They also have a long shot at the wildcard. The weather in Cincy is sure to be un-San Diego like as they expect a wintry mix. This was the site of one of the coldest games in NFL history when the Bengals beat the Chargers on their way to Super Bowl XVI. It’s been over 20 years now since the Bengals appeared in the Big Game. The Bengals broke a 10 game losing streak last week, but will get back into the loss column against the Chargers.

Texans at Broncos: This is the Gary Kubiak Bowl where the winner might have Kubiak as head coach next season. Why? Because he keeps his job by winning and he’s reportedly the favorite in Denver if he’s available. Tim Tebow starts for the second time. Let’s go with the Broncos in this one.

Colts at Raiders: The Colts now control their own destiny after running and stopping the run last week for the first time all season. Can they keep this up? The Raiders have a great running game as they have run for over 239 yards in 4 games already this season. If the small Colts defensive front can’t handle the physical Raiders front, the Jags are back in it. The Raiders are also 5-2 at home and are starting to make the Coliseum a tough place to play for the first time in years. The Raiders have a solid defense and Peyton Manning might need to find somebody besides Reggie Wayne if Asomugha is covering him. This might be the best matchup of the day and the Raiders get a win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Giants at Packers: There isn’t a game with more on the line than this one this week. The Giants win and they’re in. The Packers win out and they’re in. Aaron Rodgers returns after missing last week with his second concussion this season. The Giants have knocked out 6 QB’s already this season and an already woozy Rodgers in their sights. The Giants shouldn’t be in this position as they have blown some games (last week) with careless turnovers and play calling. The Packers have to feel the same as they’ve lost 4 games by 3 points and two others by 4. So expect a close game at Lambeau. Matt Flynn showed that he can play with a solid performance last week and could be called on again. If Eli can limit his turnovers, the Giants win. Look for a steady dose of Brandon Jacobs in the cold and short passes to Kevin Boss to keep the chains moving. A screen pass to Ahmad Bradshaw will break this open in the second half and the Giants win by 3 or 4.

Seahawks at Buccaneers: Seattle is home of the 12th man and the Buccaneers are just looking for 12 fans. Expect a post Christmas crowd of less than 50K again in the worst sports region in North America. The Seahawks win out and they’re in the playoffs. The Buccaneers can win out and get in with a Saints loss on Monday and a little more help. The Bucs are 8-1 against teams with sub .500 records. With the Bucs still playing for something expect them to win.

Vikings at Eagles: It looks like the Favre era might finally be done. But he does like the primetime spotlight. The Eagles win and they are in, but they need to beat out the Bears to get a bye. Otherwise they might be seeing a ticked off Giants squad bent on revenge in two weeks. Look for this to be a game for a quarter or two before the Eagles break it open. The Vikings haven’t put together a full game defensively in weeks (months?). Mike Vick continues his MVP march with another big game Sunday night and the Eagles are NFC East champions.

Santa’s 2010 NBA stocking stuffers

December 24, 2010 Leave a comment

In the spirit of Christmas, Santa has agreed to comment of what he plans to place in the stockings for the 32 NBA teams when he slides down the chimney on Friday night in addition to his previous NFL plans. Unfortunately, Santa is unable to fit any team owners in his sack. Sorry Clippers and Knicks fans. Santa is a big fan of Nate Robinson and thinks he might be able to help him at the North Pole when he’s done in the NBA.

Merry Shaqmas

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: A better medical plan. They need Rondo, Perkins, and everybody else to be healthy for another playoff run. Another Celtics-Lakers final, with both teams fully healthy would be great for the game.

New Jersey Nets: A star for their new arena in Brooklyn. Melo doesn’t want to go there, but how about the perpetually hurt Yao?

New York Knicks: Santa appears ready to arrive next July with Melo. In the meantime, a push for a 50 win season and a good playoff series or two would add to the hype that will be enhanced by an Anthony arrival.

Philadelphia 76ers: Good health for Doug Collins and for the Sixers young guns to fulfill their huge potential. Thad Young, Lou Williams, and Evan Turner need to become major players and key a run to the playoffs.

Toronto Raptors: A superstar who doesn’t mind playing in Canada. Maybe the Italian Bargnani can fill that void in the international city of Toronto. Doubling his 5.6 rebound average would be a nice start for the 7-footer.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: More mirrors. They’ll need more mirrors to keep this level of success going without a legit shooting guard.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Boldness and creativity to swap LeBron’s running mates for a newer, younger group to build around. Moe Williams and Andy Varejao could bring back younger players and future #1’s and maybe even help get Jamison off the payroll.

Detroit Pistons: Hometown kid Jason Richardson for Rip and Tayshaun and picks. This would help the Pistons move on from their old championship team.

Indiana Pacers: Four points and four rebounds more per game for Roy Hibbert. That will get the 3rd year budding star all star consideration.

Milwaukee Bucks: A healthy return of Michael Redd and Brandon Jennings in January to give the Bucks the backcourt firepower to push for a 6 seed in the playoffs.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks: Here’s the team that should really put together a deal for Carmelo. Josh Smith and a Crawford might get it done. Maybe Favors or Harris from the Nets for Smith and move the Nets pieces with Crawford to Denver.

Charlotte Bobcats: A clue and a coach.

Miami Heat: Maturity and humility for the King and his serfs. Perhaps somebody should contract his opinions. Oh, and a little mental toughness as well. What kind of effort did you expect from your opponents, LeBron, when you talked about all of the championships that the Heat would win? Be good next year and Santa might bring you a point guard.

Orlando Magic: Some chemistry and a couple of more pieces of the puzzle using Jason Richardson as the bait. See Detroit for what’s in Santa’s sack.

Washington Wizards: Gilberts gone and so should the Wizards name. Bring back the Bullets and Wes Unseld’s hair. Hold the short shorts.

Bring back the Bullets

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: A full recovery and success for George Karl. A viable trade for Carmelo. Atlanta has the pieces, but they probably don’t have the stones.

Minnesota Timberwolves: More Kevin Love. Getting 20 and 15 every night, Love deserves a backcourt partner. Ricky Rubio, where are you?

Oklahoma City Thunder: A good first round playoff matchup so they can taste postseason success. The Lakers were and are a bad matchup.

Portland Trailblazers: A healthy season for Greg Oden. He doesn’t deserve to be Sam Bowie Jr.

Utah Jazz: One more chance at the finals for Jerry Sloan. Williams and Jefferson have a chance to become the next Stockton and Malone.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: Some defensive stops to give this talented team a chance to win.

Los Angeles Clippers: A treadmill for Baron Davis and a fool-proof healthcare plan for the Poster Child, Blake Griffin.

Los Angeles Lakers: A healthy and motivated Andrew Bynum to face the Celtics in the finals and giving the Heat a dose of reality on Christmas Day.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash isn’t going to play forever, so this is the time to pull the trigger on a big deal to replenish the talent in Phoenix. It’s too bad Miami doesn’t have any other pieces to deal for Nash. That pretty much leaves the Knicks.

Sacramento Kings: A coach to demand maturity and to bring out the best in future superstars Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. Larry Brown’s available…

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks: Not hoop related, but Santa wants to deliver a college football playoff to Mark Cuban.

Houston Rockets: Somehow, someway, healthy legs for Yao. It’s too early for his career to end.

Memphis Grizzlies: A new General Manager. Chris Wallace made bad picks in Boston and has continued in Memphis.

New Orleans Hornets: An owner who will keep them in NOLA and for the fans to reciprocate with Saints-like support.

San Antonio Spurs: One more great championship run out of one of the best 10 players ever, Tim Duncan.

Five Ohio State Buckeye football players suspended for games next season, but not the Sugar Bowl

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

With another mixed message from the NCAA, today five Buckeyes were suspended for the first five games of next season. Those players are star QB Terrelle Pryor, leading rusher Daniel Herron, second leading receiver Devier Posey, starting LT Mike Adams and backup DL Solomon Thomas. Jordan Whiting was also suspended for next year’s opener. But why not suspend them for their upcoming Sugar Bowl game? Could it that a big money bowl game and ESPN would frown upon star players not being available for the anticipated game?

Pryor stated a few weeks ago that he would be returning to Columbus for his senior season. That was a good move since Pryor would probably not be called in at least the first two rounds of the draft and could improve his standing by returning to school. Like Pryor, all of the other suspended players are juniors. If all of these suspended players were to go to the NFL after this season, The Ohio State would not be punished at all for these transgressions. Pryor and Adams are projected as top 5 at their positions in their draft class (2012) while Posey and Herron are projected as top 10. Thomas isn’t graded as being a potential NFL player.

The players are required to repay thousands of dollars in the form of charitable donations in order to return after the suspensions. But if these players sold the jerseys and rings for money, presumably because they needed it to buy things, what makes the NCAA think that they still have it? And if they don’t have it, where are they going to get the money from? They can’t get jobs during the season and with most players who have NFL potential, they spend most of their free time in the offseason working on their bodies and skills in order to improve their draft stock. When are they going to be able to make the money needed to return? Maybe they will get some winning lottery tickets in their stockings on Saturday and everything will turn out fine.

The most likely scenario here is that all of the players will end of declaring for the NFL draft a year early and leave. That doesn’t help anybody involved in this situation which reintroduces the issue of player compensation for a team that will receive over $13 million for their Sugar Bowl appearance that will feature the talents of these players, without any kind of compensation for them. At the end of the day, as sleazy as some people feel representatives are, college athletes should be able to participate in the free market and be able to have agents and commercial endorsement opportunities. The Cam Newton story has shed light on the underground activities that go on with the recruitment of big time athletes and how these athletes can make millions for schools and billions for conferences while the players are lucky if they can get a pizza on Friday night. The time has come for the players to reap the benefits of this huge financial gravy train.