Archive for the ‘ALL II’ Category

Welcome to 2013!  I’m happy you made it but PLEASE don’t read into it.  Nothing bothers me more than those elaborate 2012 reviews that casually ignore significant sports stories like Lebron James being unclutch, to Lebron the champion, to Lebron putting up 30-9-7 and no one is shocked.  They always seem to miss how bountygate became a story about Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspensions and Saints brass seems to have gotten a total pass about the bounty system THEY started and were warned about by…the Commissioner’s office.  Oh and how about the Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year being Michael Phelps; I understand the temptation to give it to an Olympian but to not give it to Usain Bolt is pretty egregious (USA bias?).  All of those things are best left to professionals.  I can only offer you two of my favorite things: the 2012 Commissioner of the Year award and an updated assessment of the ALL Sports Defensive Team.

2012 Commish of the Year

It’s been a busy year for the fearless leaders of the Big Four professional sports leagues in North America.  I give the Commissioner of the Year honor out to recognize the best of the most hated people in sports.  No one gives people greater angst than Tim Tebow professional sports commissioners but we should always stop and realize that they do oversee the things we love despite the fact that fans think they could do a better job with greater ease.  It should also be noted that you (yes YOU) probably cannot come close to doing their jobs because they work for the owners and you hate the owners.

This year was much harder than last year because lockouts really helped to cut down the pool by two people.  2011 saw Alan Selig storm to victory late in the year past Gary Bettman (gasp!) primarily because Selig and the MLBPA peacefully sat down and passed a collective bargaining agreement which got no media attentions because it wasn’t confrontational.  Furthermore, the deal that passed made the game more entertaining with the added wild card play in game.  Yes, instant replay is a problem and yes MLB does have the strongest players union but credit goes to the guy who provided stability and excellent playoff baseball to the views.

With that said, the final standings are:

4) Gary Bettman

Locked out again after an amazing hockey run.  Any bit of momentum created by this league is thrown away with an ease second only to the XFL.  No one respect Bettman and players have a viable alternative to hockey (though not viable in the long term).  Bettman does seem to do a good job with owners as not playing is more cost effective than playing but fielding no product is just not good enough.

3) Roger Goodell (2010 Winner)

For all my issues with how Bountygate has been misled it still has been a black eye on the commissioner’s office.  Anyone that does Adderall is apparently exempt from punishment for cheating because it’s not like football has a steroids issue. (Seriously have you seen these players?!  Don’t bother me about steroids in baseball if the NFL is loaded with muscular freaks) Oh the replacement referee debacle all falls on him and although ratings did not suffer, it’s never good business to allow less than your best to be on display.

2) Alan Selig

Not much to report other than baseball STILL has not adopted instant replay because old man Selig is old.  The changes to the playoff format, while great, were rushed through leaving glaring holes on what to do (re: one-game playoff rosters allowing for expanded slots for more pitching changes than Tony La Russa could think of).  Not a bad season just not good enough for high honors.

1)      David Stern

Started the NBA season better than anyone could’ve imagined.  For all his shortcomings (namely his world class personality), he totally embraced the bad guy role this year.  Check out the beginning of the NBA draft amid a healthy set of boos. “Woah…thank you for that warm welcome…” and the hand to the ear at the :49 second mark is stuff of pure gold.  Great season after a rough start in the lockout era and most importantly pushed through his grand idea of a “World Cup of Basketball.”  Congrats on this awards and announcing his retirement.

ALL II Defensive Squad Update

As many of you know, I defend a ton of people for pretty good reasons.  Often times these people get no credit or respect because their narrative is totally miscast by the broader media/fans.  Can’t pull a fast one by me.  It’s time to update the defensive team by sport: who’s in, who’s out, and a brief (I promise) explanation how we got here.

The National Basketball Association Wing (aka The Dirk Wing)

CURRENTLY IN: Russell Westbrook, Vinny Del Negro, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams (Suspended for sucking)

OUT: Chris Bosh, Erik Spolestra

Won a title and Bosh’s absence made things much harder for Los Heat to do it.  Value on display.  Second best player that playoffs for the Heat.  Spo won the chip and revolutionized line ups.

In: Mike Brown, my father Avery Johnson, Brook Lopez

Brown: Fired after five games without getting his entire healthy team on the court.  Kobe wanted the Princeton Offense.  Can’t fix being old as s**t.

Johnson: Won coach of the month the same day he was axed.  In the mist of a bad run led by an injured Lopez and career low shooting from Williams.  Got kiss of death from Williams.  Honestly a .500 team on pace to finish above .500 (by a game but still).

Lopez: underappreciated as an offensive force.  Team loses when injured.  Team wins when healthy.  Needs to get totally healthy but team is undeniably better when he is active and on the court.

The Major League Baseball Wing (aka Playing without Steroids Wing)

CURRENT: Ichiro, Carl Crawford

CHIKA CAN NEVER TALK ABOUT BASEBALL AGAIN AFTER ICHIRO’s PLATOON SPLITS WITH THE YANKEES LOOKED GREAT.

OUT: n/a

IN: Mike Scioscia, Justin Upton, Mike Trout

Scioscia is going to be under extreme pressure to win immediately after their loaded line-up missed the playoffs last year.  Smart manager.  Proven winner.  Thin ice.

Upton is the cause of great concern with his numbers regressing last season.  Many outlets are reporting that Arizona is looking to deal him (again) after signing Cody Ross.  Still like the talent that is in Upton; pure athlete that can put it together for a solid career though a jump to the American League may stunt that growth.

Trout should’ve won the MVP by MILES.  Best all-around player.  People don’t understand that defense is part of the game.  Do better.

The National Football Association Wing (aka Nate Kaeding Wing)

CURRENT: Alex Smith, Roger Goodell, Anthony “Tony” Romo, Joe Flacco

OUT: Pete Carroll, Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush

IN: Mark Sanchez

Romo is easily a top ten quarterback.  Over his career he consistently throws for 4300-4600 yards completing 65% of his passes with a 2:1 TD/INT ratio.  Yes he makes some poor decisions in huge moments but it’s not like his defense is helping him.  Winning late to make it into playoff contention should also mean something.  If Dallas thinks jettisoning Romo is going to make them better then they are bound to fail for the next five years.

Sanchez plays with no one talented.  Get that man a talented person at a skill position and then bother me.  (He is also here for comedic relief)

SO thats it.  Expect me to rant about how no one will be admitted in the Hall of Fame and I will reveal my clear cut NFL MVP which I declared in week 14.

ALL II

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There is a significant difference between doing what is honest and doing what is right.  Significant may be a stretch, so between you and me, we can probably agree that some circumstances may lead to the separation of those two ideas: honesty and moral right.  My generation of football witnessed the death of an illusion, the end of an era of looking the other way, the conclusion of what some would suggest “the greatest good” winning in the end.  Football’s celebrated violence is now incredibly controversial, with concussions leading the way as the poster child for our beloved, barbaric sport.  For whatever reason, this usually splits casual observers and fans into two camps: pro-players or pro-league.  The pro-players stance is really simple: players make BILLIONS of dollars for the league and should be supported more; owners and particularly Roger Goodell (because people cannot figure out he represents the owners) should support players better with health care and make the league safer.  On the contrary, the pro-league stance suggests players do not HAVE to play football and if they do they should play it safely.  The NFL places no restrictions on if players can use “safer” helmets and if they really cared about safety they would wear all of their equipment (which they don’t), wear safer equipment (which they don’t), and should listen to team doctors upon injury.  Brian Urlacher says eff that!   One thing that is missing from this conversation is the potential avalanche created by fear, not fear of losing money or permanent injury but both.  It’s the fear of replacement.

This takes us to the Monday Night Football extravaganze between Da Bears and the 49ers featuring Colin Kaepernick and Jason Campbell.  Somewhat surprisingly, Kaepernick played phenomenally against a very good Bears defense and dominated from beginning to end.  Inevitably this one game success leads to a quarterback controversy in the media.  “I usually tend to go with the guy that has the hot hand and we have two quarterbacks that have a hot hand,” Harbaugh said after Monday’s 32-7 victory.  WOAH!  That’s not the media, that’s the head coach!  Legit quarterback controversy after one game!  That seems a bit rushed especially since Alex Smith has been…very good in his last two starts (25-27, 304yds, 4TDs/0INTs – injured in the second game) and good all season.

Loss of job from injury + what have you done for me lately.  That’s a huge blow for someone who was built up from mediocrity/instability in the organization.  Thoughts of Smith’s playoff win over the Saints and his carving up the Green Bay defense this season seem like years ago.  How does this all relate to concussions?  Last week, prior to being taken out the game, Smith stayed in the game SIX MORE PLAYS after being concussed and experiencing blurred vision.  He threw a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on his final play of that game without being able to see straight.  I am far short of being a medical doctor but I cannot imagine the injury risk of being hit again after already suffering a concussion.

What drives players is competition, especially those who are not comfortable in their situations.  Who knew that the world would spin so quickly for the fourth rated passer in the NFL and all the talk of supporting Alex Smith who fade after Kaepernicks’s first completed 10-yard out route against the Bears.  Harbaugh unnecessarily brought drama on the NFL’s best team and it remains to be seen if Kaepernick can sustain this success. (Remember Vick coming in for Kevin Kolb against the Packers a couple of years ago and lighting the world on fire?  Or how about giving $10 million guaranteed to Matt Flynn after one great game?)

What remains true is that players will continue to put themselves in harm’s way because tomorrow cannot be guaranteed.  Shameful really but the sport is also a business, and business is just business.

32 Questions and More: Week Five

Posted: October 7, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , ,

Finally snapped out of my 9-7 streak with an impressive 11-4 performance.  Good to see everyone pleased about the return of the regular referees and then turn on them with the quickness of a WWF Attitude Era plotline.  As usual, my picks and questions for the week.

Cardinals at Rams

Kolb was sacked eight times last week and their starting quarterback is out due to injury.  Could there be a worse omen going forward into trap game Thursday?

Sam Bradford’s comeback trail has been lackluster but he doesn’t need to be brilliant to win against the fourth best team in the NFL.  Can he get enough protection to complete just enough to pull off the upset?

Dolphins at Bengals

Dolphins are in the bottom three in pass defense.  Bengals have given up some yards in chunks.  Can Ryan Tannehill continue overachieving long enough to exploit a weak, between the numbers secondary?

Can the Bengals return to the playoffs by only beating teams with under .500 records for the second straight season?  If so, that is an awesome accomplishment that defines a good football team.

Packers at Colts

Can the Packers play a single game without an egregious call against them?

How quickly will the Chuck Pagano story be shifted to match the Colts performance on Sunday?  If they do well, it’s an inspired performance playing for their coach.  If they do poorly, it’s the natural letdown to such a huge loss.  Get better, Chuck.

Ravens at Chiefs

Ravens got up for division rival Cincinnati and AFC elite rival New England.  Can they avoid a letdown on the road at Kansas City?  (Trap game #2)

The clearest advantage for the Chiefs is in the ground game with Jamaal Charles against the Baltimore edges.  With a slower Ravens defense, can Charles get established early and often to control the game opposite Flacco’s no-huddle?

Browns at Giants

If Browns fans were told after four weeks they would be keeping pace with the New Orleans Saints, how many would be disappointed by that reality?

Is it time to give Manning, Eli some credit as a quarterback who makes his teammates better after looking at the great start by perennial butt of the joke tight end Martellus Bennett?

Eagles at Steelers

Accurately picked the Eagles win against the Giants but don’t like their mistakes.  Both teams have porous offensive lines.  Can the Eagles pass rush outperform the Steelers counterpart?  If so then you have a win.

How much will the addition of James Harrison add to the top three pass rush defense going against a turnover prone quarterback?  Not much but it cannot hurt.

Falcons at Redskins

Can the Falcons stop the Atlanta, Georgia sports weekend from hell (Braves screwed in the Wild Card game and Georgia Bulldogs no-showed against South Carolina)?

Where does the Redskins pass defense begin in trying to contain Julio Jones and Roddy White?

Seahawks at Panthers

Russell Wilson is completing exactly 60% of his passes which is good until you see it’s for 600 yards and four touchdowns.  How poorly does he need to play before Carroll considers two game hit wonder Matt Flynn?

Seattle has an elite defense.  If they opt not to blitz, is Newton good enough to make tight throws and know when to throw it away?

Bears at Jaguars

Is it troubling for Bears fans that their franchise quarter back is playing as well as Blaine Gabbert? (Same completion percentage, touchdowns, more interceptions)

The problem with MJD vs. Forte is that Jones-Drew runs against the Bears defense.  It’s a pretty formidable challenge.  Can the Jags get Laurent Robinson going to ease the burden on their running game and reestablish a potential red chip wide receiving talent?

Titans at Vikings

Hasselbeck and Johnson.  Possible tagline for the season “Titans Football: Turning back the clock too late?”

Are you sold on this Vikings team that needed two improbable special team scores to beat the Lions?  Lots to pick apart with this team.

Broncos at Patriots

Can the computer pick apart the evil genius on the road?  It’s really the first and only meaningful Manning test I need to see.

Do you think the Patriots can afford another home loss following their last game against the Cardinals at Foxboro?  Key to this game is Stevan Ridley and getting to the 4.5 yards/carry mark.

Bills vs. 49ers

Who would’ve guessed that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be leading the NFL in touchdown after 4 games (12 TDs, 7 INTs)?

As dominant as their rush defense is, their pass defense has been that much better.  Can their offense avoid looking poorly in what should be a comfortable win?

Chargers at Saints

Chargers got worked by the NFC at home.  Hard for me to imagine this being different.  Can Rivers reassert himself in the top quarterbacks conversation that he woefully fell out of last season?

Things are much easier when you need to focus on just one threat.  Will the Saints put the clamps down on still recovering Ryan Matthews to turn this into a shootout?  Brees still can outperform Rivers – especially in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Texans at Jets

Since the Texans don’t really play good teams it’s hard to know just how good they are compared to others.  Certainly a top three team.  Do the Texans need to blow out the Jets to get the respect is probably deserves?  At least a ten point victory is needed.

How many offensive weapons do the Jets have?  *Waiting…waiting…* Yeah I guess that’s Sanchez’s fault too.

32 Questions and More: Week Four

Posted: September 29, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , ,

As a Packers fan I was going to have a very long post on the disgraceful end of the Monday Night Football game where a win was given to the losing team on a play so egregious that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and companions openly acknowledged they had been gifted a “W” but the 13th man.  My greatest frustration with the game did come with the final bad play but had been building for some time after the blown roughing the passer penalty.  Still, Green Bay played a terrible game for 30 minutes.  The offensive line looked as bad as USC did against Stanford.  Dropped passes.  Just a poor look.  I hate when people say “well, you should never put the game in the hands of the officials – just play better” because in general it is true but sometimes you are put in situations where you need to battle.  The Packers struggling in this game shows me that Green Bay can make adjustments (see the final 30 minutes of that game) and that Seattle’s defense is legitimate.  You hope the referees do their jobs properly so battles can be decided on the field.  Oh well.  Despite the screw job, I didn’t exactly want the NFL to cave in on everything to resolve the labor dispute immediately.  Some of the requests were absurd no matter the amount of money the league makes, especially the idea that part-time employees making on average $140,000+ should get a pension plan while full-time NFL employees do not.  NFL should have paid them more.  Eventually they settled things but it should be noted that my main man Commissioner Roger Goodell is employed by the owners who would not budge on these issues.  I know Goodell has a cushy life and criticism is part of the job but as fans we should do better at understanding what the Commissioner has control over (player conduct inconsistencies) vs. what the Commissioner is merely a representative on (labor negotiations between monetary interests).  Look up in the press box to the big wigs you cheer for putting players on the field – and try not to forget they were the same people that delayed and damaged the game.

Another 9-7 week for me.  Third straight in three weeks.  It’s consistency that will lead me through the lesser hot streaks of other “bloggers” on this site.

Browns at Ravens

Brandon Weeden played well last week.  Baltimore’s defense has been fraudulent.  Can Weeden put up numbers on this defense and should we owe him an apology for a bad week one?

Trap game on a Thursday night?  It’s the only reasonable way they lose this game.

Falcons vs. Panthers

With major quarterbacks struggling, is the Ice Man Matt Ryan in position to win an MVP trophy?  Best team in football right? (No, its still the 49ers)

Maybe I am out of touch but I had no issue with the Charlotte Observer’s editorial cartoon of Cam Newton with a Miss Kitty shirt.  Should I be more open to arguments like the one Stephen A. Smith laid out?  Should CAAAAM just play better?

Patriots at Bills

After week one, who thought the Patriots would be behind the Bills in the AFC East?

Fred Jackson is the game changer.  But his presence means nothing compared to the Buffalo expensive front seven versus Brady’s machine-like offense.  Can Mario Williams get to Brady?  Is this game the one where we know if Williams’ contract was a waste of money?

Vikings at Lions

Two close games with less than stellar opponents and a dominant performance against the best team in the NFC.  With teams no longer looking at this team as a gimmie, will the Vikings step up or was Week Three a fluke?

Detroit can win with Shaun Hill right?  Hell, if they can shut down Percy Harvin they can win…right?

Titans at Texans

Chuck Klosterman wrote a great piece on how fantasy football has changed how people view player success and performance (re: Chris Johnson).  Mr. Johnson has 45 yards after three games.  Is there any real way to understand this stunning lack of productivity?

Are the Texans the most underrated (certainly underappreciated) team in the NFL?

Chargers at Chiefs

Hehehe…Chargers got exposed didn’t they?  NFC seems superior to the AFC so seeing the Chiefs should right the ship.  Don’t mind the classic Arrowhead trap game fever and questions about the Chargers defense matching up against Jamaal Charles.

Not going to go overboard with Charles’ big day.  Can the injured secondary force Rivers turnovers?  Two is the magic number.

49ers at Jets

Alex Smith struggled, defense struggled, special teams looked good actually.  Can losing to the Vikings be forgotten by going from west to east and winning?  In the modern era, nothing is more overstated than east to west splits.

Joe McKnight playing cornerback in practice.  How much more evidence do you need that this team is a mess?  First place in the AFC East by the way.

Seahawks at Rams

Not to be a spoiled sport but it is impossible to look at Russell Wilson and think “there is a good quarterback.”  How bad is Matt Flynn?

Felt good about this being a trap game until I wondered: How is Sam Bradford going to deal with this really good Seahawks defense?  Rush the passer with the Rams offensive line somewhere between Packers bad and Bears bad.  Not good.

Dolphins at Cardinals

Amazingly enough, the Dolphins should be tied for the AFC East lead.  Reggie Bush needs to be healthy for them to win.  In any event, how good would this team be with Matt Moore at quarterback?

Skelton is healthy.  Kolb appears to be “back” which means he is good but not that good but good as of late.  Who will be the quarterback of the future for the undefeated Cardinals?

Raiders at Broncos

Can’t figure out this team, can you?  When McFadden is on, he is ON!

Peyton Manning going behind early is concerning.  His comebacks are reassuring.  Can the offense avoid early struggles to keep the game close?  If so, they will win.

Saints at Packers

Brees has struggled to live up to his high standards.  Will Brees and the Saints validate the third ranked defense in the NFL or expose it as a result of poor offense opponents?

The Packers offense has struggled to live up to its high standards.  Will Rodgers and the Packers get back on track against a bad Saints defense or expose themselves to be mortal?

Bengals at Jaguars

Looks like the young Andrew Dalton maybe winning the Dalton/Newton argument of 2011.  Will the Bengals be able to stop MJD or at least try to avoid being a bottom team in run defense?

Speaking of MJD, he is averaging 5.3 yards per carry.  That’s nuts.  Can Blaine Gabbert pull himself from the jaws of being a 50% completion percentage quarterback to support their star running back?

Redskins at Buccaneers

Simple question: Can the Redskins defense be half as competent as their offense?  All of their struggles have to do with their defense giving up over 30 points per game.

Over/Under Josh Freeman touchdowns 2.5?

Giants at Eagles

Can the Giants offensive line handle a talented and powerful Eagles front four?

LeSean McCoy.  Does Andy Reid forget he plays for his team?  Will he get some touches?

Bears at Cowboys

Can the J’Marcus Webb turnstile hold up against DeMarcus Ware?

Will Tony Romo – off to his typical good start – avoid his typical big game mistakes?

Point/Counterpoint

Posted: September 23, 2012 in ALL II, Bunker, Collaborative Posts

Defense of Goddell – ALL 2

Per usual with the legal sphere and rich folks (especially in sports), we get a bunch of confusing statements, juicy headlines, and more questions than answered.  Earlier this week, Jonathan Vilma finally met with Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his involvement with the Saints bounty program, the story that will not go away.  Soon thereafter the meeting, the public learned that Vilma and his attorney were given a signed affidavit (available here) of Gregg Williams’ statements pertaining to the bounty program.  Not being a legal scholar, I know that the penalty for lying in an affidavit is perjury and that is something people should not want to face because it’s a BIG deal.  (Note: I am a PhD student in political science, not a law student.  I will leave the legal side open for my more legally inclined colleague) The kicker in all of this is the new rush to present affidavits on the situation.  Vilma’s attorney Peter Ginsburg suggests 30 players are ready to defend Vilma.  Vilma took to Twitter to suggest Williams was bullied into signing this.  Everyone is confused as to why its dated September 14, 2012.  All of this does not matter to me because until further notice it appears as bad for Vilma as it did before.

The first thing that bothers me is the quickness for people to dismiss the genuine nature of the affidavit.  Most people acknowledge that the statement mirrors the exact information he gave to the NFL back in March.  Most people complained that they did not believe the evidence the NFL had and some recently suggested Williams was backing out of his statements; the affidavit seems to double down on the genuine nature of the statement.  Maybe this is the contrarian opinion but this seems more than reasonable since this is going back in front of a court.  I suppose it’s also contrarian to not hate the commissioner but I digress.

The other part of this that gets me going is the public’s willingness to be on board with the 30 players willing to support Vilma.  This, to me, sounds similar to the Lance Armstrong situation that everyone sided with USADA on a month ago.  Remember Lance being confronted with more and more people in trouble and giving testimony claiming he doped?  Remember Lance saying he didn’t and could bring many more teammates, coaches, etc. to support his side?  Remember no one giving a damn that Lance could do that?  I do. I do. I do.  Vilma is now in a similar situation and everyone seems to be siding with Vilma because Goodell is a bad man.  Having a bunch of players pop up to your defense does not mean you didn’t do anything.  It means you have people that said you didn’t do something other people said you did.  Why does Gregg Williams get no credibility but Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and others do when making statements after testing positive and “in the clutches of the man?”

What this comes down to is Roger Goodell and the NFL are not just picking on the Saints.  We are in a semantics war between pay for performance and pay for injury.  It’s a lawyer’s wet dream which means it’s time for me to bow out.  What I do know is that a bounty system did take place and that involved some players.  Now, no player is willing to rat on another. I get that.  But some player was involved.  Multiple players were involved.  While I am in no position to challenge someone’s motives, I do wonder if this is about integrity or the moolah lost.  If this was not a full season suspension, would we even be here?  Maybe.  I have no issue with Goodell looking to hold players accountable for their involvement in something egregious like a bounty scandal.  Hope the players implicated are the ones involved but to this day nothing has changed to point the finger of doubt towards anyone but Vilma and the three other’s fingered by the NFL.

 

Defense of Jonathan Vilma: Bunkie

I don’t know whether or not Jonathan Vilma is directly responsible with this pay for performance (some call it a bounty) scandal. He’s racking up legal fees by the day to defend his name and reputation, money I’m sure he’ll want when he retires. I can respect the way Vilma has gone about defending his innocence. When Goddell asked to meet with Vilma, Vilma refused, a move I first criticized. But what has become increasingly obvious is that Roger Goddell has relied heavily on hearsay and third party references to come to his conclusions about bounty-gate.

An independent arbitrator lifted the suspensions. That tells me that there is a serious lack of evidence on the side of the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, the circumstantial evidence mounted against Vilma is convincing, but since when do we convict on such matters. While some may quibble with the idea that we still aren’t even certain that this was a bounty scandal, the distinction between pay for performance and bounty is very important. The NFL needs to go out and prove without a doubt that this Saints system was contributing to unnecessary violence that would not have happened were it not for this system. That’s tough to do. Especially when there’s no smoking gun. So in a desperate attempt to save face and pin the deed to Vilma, Goddell reached into the gutter to trot out the troll that he suspended indefinitely: Greg Williams.

Although I’m not a fan of the “Stop Snitching” era, this Greg Williams affidavit is exactly why that moniker was created. Greg Williams was the face of the bounty-gate, he received the most severe punishment of all. He’s desperate. Goddell’s desperate. They are both making a deal with the devil. For all of those who believed that Goddell had an agenda against the Saints, this helps give that notion A LOT of credence. I’m sure Goddell didn’t obtain this affidavit without giving Williams a little something in return. Vilma’s defense, although it sound childish, is valid: “The nfl has 1 affidavit saying i did it. I have NINE saying i didnt. Do the math. Hush haters”. The whole investigation and the subsequent suspensions were resolved via questionable circumstantial evidence, why can’t the defense be the same.

When it comes to NFL credibility, well, these are the same people who are telling us the replacement referees are doing a great job.

32 Questions and More…Week 3

Posted: September 21, 2012 in ALL II

Consecutive 9-7 weeks makes me a contender in the NFC East and a league leader in the AFC South.  Picks in bold and 32 questions for 32 teams in Week Three.

Giants at Panthers

Every week the Giants are more and more injured and that famed pass rush is not doing the job to help the band-aided secondary.  Will Manning, Eli need to throw for 400 yards to beat the Panthers by a touchdown?

How will the Panthers decide to confront the Giants defense: a primary run first team with three NON-INJURED THOUGH NOT HEALTHY running backs or a passing attack to take on the Webster led secondary?

Rams at Bears

Sam Bradford can pick apart a bad defense but for now the Bears still have a good defense.  In a tight game, will Steven Jackson be healthy enough to open up lanes for Bradford to go over the top (re: Cedric Benson last week versus the Bears)?

Matt Forte is the top rusher and second leading receiver.  He is hurt.  Who steps up to fill that void in the wide receiver department?  Did the Brandon Marshall signing detract from a still poor wide receiving corps?

Bills at Browns

Was the Bills defensive performance against the Chiefs last week taking advantage of a beat up team or a sign of a defense meeting high expectations?

Brandon Weeden looked great.  Trent Richardson looks good too.  Everyone else is disastrous.  Is there real hope for Cleveland going forward?

Buccaneers at Cowboys

Which unwritten rule will Greg Schiano break this week?  I can only hope he doesn’t do the handshake at the end of the game and advocate for more helmet-to-helmet hits.

It’s clear that Tony Romo is doing this on his own.  Will people see through the box score and recognize that Romo is overachieving with an offensive line on par with the USC Trojans?

Jaguars at Colts

Upset special.  MJD looks smooth like an American beer with nearly similar initials.  Can Blaine Gabbert get his life together to play consistent decent games?

Luck is in a similar situation with Romo with a terrible offensive line but got his first win against the once formidable pass rush of the Minnesota Vikings.  Still, is Reggie Wayne the team’s MVP?

Jets at Dolphins

Loss against a good defense.  Tebow getting a bump.  Sanchize under fire.  Hate to deflect a bit but will anyone call out Shonn Greene for being unsatisfactory at the running back position?  3.1yds/carry is not exactly ground breaking.

Tannehill played better too but the guy of the team is Reggie Bush.  He looks very good this year coming off a season where he looked like a number 2 overall pick in 2006.  Can he establish the run against a top flight front?

49ers at Vikings

Recently bloodied Alex Smith has now beaten Rodgers, Stafford, and Brees in three of his last four games.  Is he any closer to getting respect from anyone in the league?

The Vikings have played the two closest games of the season based on play (not score).  Both of those teams were not good.   Can the Vikings, at home again, provide the 49ers defense with some problems and keep it close again?

Chiefs at Saints

So when the Chiefs go 0-3 will my upset pick to win the AFC West be voided due to serious injuries on the team?

Not to be rude but Drew Brees isn’t exactly playing at an MVP level.  Their defense is atrocious.  Can the Saints hold off a fledging Chiefs offense and can Brees establish himself against the beat up defens?

Lions at Titans

What’s wrong with Matthew Stafford?  This is abnormal.

Chris Johnson has 19 carries for 21 yards.  What’s new with this guy?  This is normal.

Bengals at Redskins

Law firm is producing nicely and Andy Dalton has resumed his solid performance from last season.  I know the spotlight is on A.J. Green but who will cover Andew Hawkins and his 14.2 yards/catch?

Josh Morgan got death threats after his penalty cost the Redskins last week.  When will fans get a grip and upgrade their priorities?

Eagles at Cardinals

How many turnovers can the Eagles (Vick) commit and still win?  Isn’t that the theme for the first few games for the Eagles?

Kevin Kolb’s revenge maybe a bit over blown.  Will he survive against a legitimate NFC East pass rush?

Falcons at Chargers

Matty Ice looked good early but the Monday Night Football game was way too close after those early turnovers.  On the road outside, can Matt Ryan be productive enough to open up lanes for a struggling Michael Turner (2.6yrds/carry)?

Philip Rivers is back on track and Ryan Matthews should be returning this game.  Will this begin to swing the tide from the NFC to the AFC?

Texans at Broncos

First real test for the Texans who got to 2-0 with confident wins over scrubs.  I do believe in this defense and the best set of running backs in the league.  Will that offensive line be able to protect Schaub who has one touchdown in two games?

Peyton stunk, worked through it, and almost pulled off the comeback.  Not to start a controversy but can it ever be a good sign anytime Brock Osweiler is warming up?

Steelers at Raiders

Can the Steelers gain control of a tough AFC North against a weak opponent as their rivals fight it out in Baltimore?

Before anyone can point a finger at Carson Palmer (and he should not get a finger pointed towards him), what happened to Darren McFadden with 54 yards total in two games?  Not acceptable.

Patriots at Ravens

Quietly kept, the Ravens defense can be run on.  With the Patriots excited (and more commited) about the run, can Stevan Ridley get to the century mark on the ground?  Does that guarantee a win?

Will Joe Flacco finally cement himself in the next tier of quarterbacks?  This game falls squarely on his shoulders as this is not his offense.

Packers at Seahawks

People are very quick to point out how the Packers offense has not looked sharp.  It may have something to do with playing the best defense and a perennial top five defense in the first two weeks of the season.  Can Green Bay play an effective game against another top tier defense in the NFL?

Do the Seahawks have (or need) enough offensive diversity to slow down the revitalized Packers pass rush and move the ball down the field?

 

Rough week in the picks department but week one is about survival and figuring out what you really have against other opponents.  Going 9-7 was a nice start but in the 32 questions below, it’s already must win double digit games or I fear a benching or even a firing.  Ok maybe not but it’s not as bad as Andy Reid’s seat.  Picks and questions for week two with winners in bold.

Bears at Packers

Chicago has played the Packers close and lost over the past six meetings but has not been this balanced in years.  Will Cutler’s plan to bait the Packers into press coverage result in a 125yd, 2TD performance from Brandon Marshall?

Offensively the Packers looked the same, playing well against the top defense in the NFL but defensively looked as suspect as ever: little pass rush, penalties, and corners who could not keep up.  Can Mr. 1000 yard rusher Cedric Benson provide enough quality rushes to ease some pressure off Aaron Rodgers to outscore the Bears?

Bills at Chiefs

Kansas City struggled last year due to key injuries on the offense and the little depth in the secondary.  Last week, the defense came under attack with injuries to starting corner Brandon Flowers, linebacks Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher, and safety Kendrick Lewis.  Can this team catch a break?

Along with the Chiefs, the other upset playoff pick that looked bad was the Bills.  The upgraded defense got worked by Sanchize and Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed healthy and still crappy.  Will Chan Gailey be outcoached by Romeo Cronnell?  If you get worked by the offensively limited Jets, everything else seems like an uphill battle.

Saints at Panthers

How stupid were people to suggest that Super Bowl winning coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton wouldn’t be missed because Drew Brees is really good?

How long will it be before Panthers GM Marty Hurney (employed in Carolina since 2002) get the ax for perpetuating this rotational running back mess?  Decide on the running back of choice and let that person run the ball.  Caaaaaaaaaaaaam….woaaaaah, Caaaaam is spared for now.

Browns at Bengals

Since week two comes falls on the week of September 11th and Brandon Weeden struggles with American flags, how will avoid the pregame blitz from good ol’ USA!USA!USA!? Did you notice his attempt to fake right and run backwards before taking the sack?

The Bengals were blown out by Baltimore but that game was much closer than the final score indicates.  If Vick can throw four interceptions and still win by one, does that mean Andy Dalton has only two turnovers worth of error to win?

Vikings at Colts

Adrian Peterson not only played, he ran for two touchdowns and looked pretty amazing in week one.  Can the Vikings enter week three as the only 2-0 team in the NFC North!?

It’s easy to credit a wide receiver when he has a great quarterback just was its easy to forget a star with a bad quarterback (see Larry Fitzgerald).  Have people underappreciated the greatness that is Reggie Wayne?  (YES!)

Texans at Jaguars

In Andre Johnson’s career, he has never had a double digit touchdown season but first things first: Can Johnson tie his 2011 touchdown total in only two games this season?

Blaine Gabbert played well in a game they should’ve won if they weren’t the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Will the Jags be fooled again into thinking they can compete this season (check out Jacksonville’s paper after they won the first game of the 2011 season), only to win four games?

Raiders at Dolphins

Is it possible to trade Reggie Bush to the Raiders to complete their insatiable desire for USC Heisman trophy winners from the Pete Carrol days?  (Sidebar: Did the Raiders address the question of why on a 52 man roster there was no one capable of long snapping to the punter in the event of injury?)

Aside from Darren McFadden, is there a more important non-quarterback offensive player for an AFC team than Reggie Bush?  Both Bush and McFadden run and catch more than anyone else.

Cardinals at Patriots

Which was more shocking: Arizona winning against the Seahawks or Kevin Kolb leading the win against the Seahawks?

Again, how the Patriots got this easy schedule?

Buccaneers at Giants

Greg Schiano prepared his defense to crush the Panthers rushing attack and he succeeded (10 total rushing yards for the Panthers).  What will Schiano focus on against the Giants and can stopping one thing be enough?

One game is an aberration; two is more of a trend.  Can Martellus Bennett back up his solid week one performance with a boneheaded free week two game?

Ravens at Eagles

Will the Ravens no-huddle offense make them the better team with better offensive athletes this Sunday?

How hard is it to believe that Vick will play winning football after his dud in Cleveland?

Cowboys at Seahawks

Are we just at the peak of the Cowboys season before underachieving the rest of the year or is there still room for improvement?

Yes, the Seahawks came one dropped pass from winning the game but is Bill Simmons’ pick to win the Super Bowl the dumbest thing ever written?

Redskins at Rams

Can recent fantasy pick up and rookie running back Alfred Morris be more than a one hit wonder before Shanahan pulls the plug?

Am I too afraid to pick the upset when this game has all the signs of a trap game?  (YES)

Jets at Steelers

How many games of leeway does Sanchez have after his amazing week one performance?

Can the Steelers ever get through a game without losing an offensive lineman?

Titans at Chargers

Is it bad to say that Chris Johnson is back on track after his 11 carry, 4 yard day last week?

It’s hard to root for Norv Turner but this could be the season where the losing streak comes at the end and not the beginning?

Lions at 49ers

Quietly kept, the Lions didn’t do themselves any favors with a poor performance in St. Louis.  Will Jim Schwartz successfully make it through the postgame handshake on opponent territory?

Randy Moss is back.  Manningham looks good.  Defense?  Spectacular but will it be able to contain a dual threat team with an elite wide receiver like Calvin Johnson and a healthy Kevin Smith?

Broncos at Falcons

Peyton Manning back in a dome with a high speed, no huddle offense and he rarely loses night games in primetime.  Can he pick apart an upgraded secondary with an injury to Brent Grimes but still anchored by Asante Samuel?

Can the Falcons’ streak of winning in that dome during the regular season over power Peyton’s power to not lose in primetime at night?  (Or is this going to be the first good test of how much better the NFC is over the AFC?)

This is going to sound like rambling so I apologize ahead of time but it’s just the beginning of some sports thoughts I’ve had for some time.

Going to a sporting event in the United States of America is a very exhilarating activity with many nuanced details and customs.  One of the oddest things has been the singing of the national anthem before games.  I generalize sporting events because this happens for major professional leagues the same as it does for untelevised high school sports.  It is a thing we (Americans) do because we are…exceptional.  Or so I think.  I only occasionally thought about why we drop what we do (eating, heckling, texting) to stand, find the flag, and listen to someone sing about our triumphant moment some centuries ago.  It took leaving the USA to realize that this is not a standard operating procedure in sports; it is uniquely American.

Visiting England (soccer) and South Africa (soccer and rugby) made me realize something that seemed obvious all along: when you are going against a team in the same nation, you don’t really need to sing the national anthem.  You all know what country you are in and presumably chanting that name or acknowledging it doesn’t change anything.  It was weird for me to not rise and remove my hat to listen to an anthem.  Odd but refreshing.

One of the things I like about international competition is that the opponent is from a different place and the kinship I feel is to the athletes from my location.  Singing the national anthem for the USA seems wonderful to inspire the fans against a different rival.   Singing it for Chicago vs. Detroit seems woefully uninspiring and at worst suggests one place to be more American or patriotic than the other.

I love this country and living here but this socialization to find the flag and recite the national anthem prior to high school track seems absurd – with the greater suggestion of not doing it means you are not as American.  Of course this is racialized as many persons of color have a distinctly different perspective of American history or “patriotism” through their own lens.  My qualms don’t go down those lines, rather they are squarely focused on the insecurity about our collective patriotism in highly “masculine” venues like sports.  It bothers me.  It seems very silly to do what we do and even more concerning when asking the question is met with disgust.

Some days are exceptions to my general feelings towards sports merging with patriotism.  Today is one of those days.  Today is September 11, 2012, the eleventh anniversary of the most dreadful and heinous terrorist attack that took place on September 11, 2001.  We were wounded, suffered, and lost as a nation and recognizing those losses and our healing seem appropriate today.  At most venues (and throughout the weekend for football), “God Bless America” will be performed to further pay homage to our losses and rebuilding efforts.  In New York Yankees games, this is a common practice every game during the seventh inning stretch.  A bit too much for my liking but what works with the patrons is the motivating factor for the day.

We should all take some time to remember how connected we are as people in this nation and paying tribute by singing the national anthem is a great way to do that at sporting events.  But going forward, it should be asked: why we need this every day for every sporting event?  Old Habits Die Hard (my suggestion for the title of the next Die Hard movie with 60 year old Bruce Willis) but not questioning why we do things may be doing more harm than good.  Just a sport thought though…

Its a quarterback driven league so we know the winners and losers early….Happy Sunday!

 

NFL 32 Questions or More: Week One

Posted: September 5, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: ,

Every week throughout the football season I will ask 32 questions, one for each team in the National Football League.  On the heels of the Wednesday night season opener, I give you the Week One 32 Questions gimmicky post.

AFC East

New England Patriots

Will the Patriots defense be able to keep up with their offense providing even a minor break for the fighting Tom Bradys?

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins played well for former coach Tony Sparano, delaying his firing by continuing to win games.  Will the same fortune fall on Joe Philbin and is Reggie Bush poised for his first back to back 1000 yard rushing season since USC?

New York Jets

After the screw job is complete with Mark Sanchez (no offensive line, poor rushing, lack of offensive skill players), will Greg McElroy complete 60% of his passes over the final six games of the season?  (Side question:  How underappreciated will the Jets defense be with all the focus on the offensive woes?)

Buffalo Bills

With a healthy Ryan Fitzpatrick, top tier front seven, soft schedule, and a mended relationship between Steve Johnson and the good lord, how can the Bills miss the playoffs?

NFC East

Washington Redskins

How will the offense be built: RG III plays the Shanahan system or Shanahan crafts an offense tailored to RG III style?

Philadelphia Eagles

Is Michael Vick the most overrated quarterback of all-time?  (Figuring in contracts, lack of 16 game seasons, and playoff performance)

Aside: Can LeSean McCoy a) be a successful running back without the specter of Michael Vick and b) break the strangle hold over quarterbacks winning MVP?

Dallas Cowboys

Will the often underappreciated Tony Romo end the season as the best quarterback in the NFC East?  Will it matter when they miss the playoffs again this season?

WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK GIANTS

Since the Giants won’t repeat as champions, what will be funnier to non-Giants fans: Martellus Bennett getting the Manning, Eli face after dropping passes or Tom Coughlin’s job on the line at week 7 after a two game losing streak?

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals

Much less than reaching the playoffs, can the Bengals defense repeat their top ten performance to aid the Dalton led offense?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Can Reshard Mendenhall get to 1000 yards in under 250 carries?  If so, maybe Ben won’t be asked to do it all with that cruddy offensive line.

Cleveland Browns

Who do you draft in top three in the 2013 draft?  Robert Woods would look good with a second year quarterback…

Baltimore Ravens

Does Joe Flacco make the jump to solid top ten quarterback with firm control of the offense?

NFC North

Detroit Lions

The Lions gave up 90 points in the final two weeks of the NFL season (week 17 and playoffs).  Defensive improvement?

Chicago Bears

From what we know he Chicago Bears are the most balanced team in football (offense, defense, and special teams).  Will their offensive line be able to hold up long enough to take advantage of their skills?

Minnesota Vikings

How in the hell is Adrian Peterson ready to play NFL football after that horrific knee injury?!?!?

Green Bay Packers

Can Cedric Benson last long enough to finally give the Packers a legitimate run threat?  Will it be enough to accommodate for some regression to the mean by Aaron Rogers?

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts offensive line is horrendous.  No two ways about it.  Simply put: Does Andrew Luck play all 16 games?

Jacksonville Jaguars

Is there a way that the Jags can make Blane Gabbert have a contract holdout so he doesn’t play quarterback this season?

Tennessee Titans

Has there ever been a team more perfectly constructed for 8-8 than the 2012 Tennessee Titans?

Houston Texans

With everyone healthy in a weak division, is this a “rich man’s” version of the San Francisco 49ers?  Can they get to the AFC title game? (Oh yes they can!)

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 2011 Bucs provided the Boston Red Sox with a great blueprint for how to quit on a coach midseason.  With new personnel installed, can Josh Freeman regain his rookie year form?

Carolina Panthers

Hot shot Cam Newton (CAAAAAAAAAAAAM) started strong and struggled mightily late, especially throwing the football (only two 215+ yard passing games in the final eight games).  A running game helps this type of thing.  Who will be the Carolina Panthers running back of choice or will we get another back by committee system?

Atlanta Falcons

Will Julio Jones become the number one option for Matt Ryan, supplanting the questionable hands of Roddy White?

New Orleans Saints

I think the Saints will be fine this season so there is only one real question to ask: Will Sean Payton make an attempt to talk to his team and get caught by the NFL?

AFC West

Oakland Raiders

Chika thinks the Raiders will be a contender and points to Carson Palmer to have a good season.  Yeah, we laughed too.  But in all seriousness, if the offense stays healthy it should be good.  What is going to happen on the defensive side of the ball with no cornerbacks and a depleted line backing corps?

San Diego Chargers

It seems nearly impossible for the Chargers to begin their season with a characteristic piss poor record.  And Philip Rivers seems destined to recover from his disastrous season.  How many wins will Norv Turner cost this team?  (two wins and possibly the wild card)

Kansas City Chiefs

When healthy, the Chiefs made the playoffs.  Last season, the injured Chiefs struggled mightily and Todd Haley was let go.  How will a healthy Chiefs team overcome the colossal deficit that is Romeo Crenell?

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning’s four time surgically stabilized neck?  Nasty thing to type, even worse to play with I’m sure.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams

Remember when Sam Bradford was the greatest thing since…the last overall number one quarterback?  Nope me neither.

Arizona Cardinals

Remember when Kevin Kolb was the greatest thing since…the last quarterback out of the Andy Reid school of offensive success?  Nope me neither.

Seattle Seahawks

Remember when Matt Flynn was the greatest thing since…Kevin Kolb before he played a snap for Arizona?  Nope me neither.

San Francisco 49ers

Can the upgrades at wide receiver continue the renaissance of Alex Smith?  Can you have a renaissance when you struggled most of your career?