Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Notre Dame, You're not what you think you are.

The truth is a hard thing to accept especially if you're a "storied" program like Notre Dame. Most people of the 21st century can't recall the glory days of Knute Rockne, The Gipper, The four Horseman and the national championships of days gone by. Much like washed up superstars of any sport, Notre Dame is living on what they once were and not what they are.

Legendary figures like Knute Rockne and Ara Parsegian have been featured in numerous documentaries, movies and news reports extolling their greatness. It seems as though Notre Dame fans, administrators and media fail to realize that big time football has certainly evolved. It's almost as if the school's administrators haven't heard about the invention of electricity. Are they aware that fire has been discovered? Obviously the world of big time college football is still flat in South Bend.

Notre Dame has been through 4 coaches in 18 years since winning their last national championship in the 1990's. Lou Holtz recruited players like Tony Rice, Raghib Ismail and Jerome Bettis. The 1990's hailed the slow death of traditional powers after the NCAA limited scholarships in the 1980's. Now upstart programs like South Florida can compete with Florida, Miami, and Florida State for top tier talent. (Not to mention every state that gets the sloppy seconds) Gone are the days of Joe Montana, Joe Theisman, and Paul Hornung signing with Notre Dame for their religious and the dream of a playing on hallowed ground.

The Boise State's of the world can go into the living rooms of big time recruits and promise a shot at a decent education. They can also sell kids on how they also play against top flight competition and on their relationships with NFL scouts. Sure a recruit can get all of those things at Notre Dame but why go to a school that plays the likes of Navy, Michigan State and Army. Sure they got Brady Quinn, Arnez Battle, Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate to commit there but all of the men that recruited those great players got fired.

Bob Davie, Ty Willingham and Charlie Weiss were all shown the door after having winning records. Weiss was rewarded a raise after getting Notre Dame to a BCS bowl in only his second season. The ten year extension not only made us scratch our collective heads but it also caused us all to know that this would end pretty ugly. There are some key factors that support my rationale.

1. Every coach that were the "hot candidate" during the eras of Davie, Willingham, and Weiss said thanks but no thanks to Notre Dame.

Guess what Notre Lame fans (sorry but I couldn't resist) its still happening. Urban Myer has said no for the second time. Bob Stoopes is a Deity in Oklahoma. Talented coordinators on both sides of the ball have opted to sign deals as "coaches in waiting" (This is more like waiting to cash in on a trust fund when you turn 40 and you're 15 now)

Mack Brown bolted for Texas after a successful tenure at North Carolina, A school not necessarily blessed with a "storied" history for football. What about Jim Tressel's rise from the Division II ranks. Brian Kelley has climbed through the ranks like Mack Brown and Tressel but Kelley will be more of the same at Notre Dame. (Contrary to what the national media is selling us) He's a skinner version of Charlie Weiss with a lot less arrogance.

2. Notre Dame Athletic Director Jim Swarbick is on the hot seat.

Sports administrators at major college football programs take their fair share of criticisms but not nearly as much as they should. He wasn't the guy that fired Willingham. He certainly isn't the imbecile that decided to give Weiss that ten year extension but that seat will get even hotter after Kelly doesn't get it done at Notre Dame. Sure he's been there 18 months but do you think he pulled the trigger because he thought he had to or did the powerful boosters and alumni pull his chain?

3. Kelly isn't a significant upgrade from Charlie Weiss.

Kelley's teams have dominated lesser leagues offensively. The Big East isn't the MAC or Sun Belt. He will see the likes of USC, Michigan, and Michigan State yearly. Sustained success is not something that we should attribute to Kelly's resume. His tenures at Grand Prairie State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati lasted an average of just over three years. He's smart enough not to promise any "schematic" advantages. He needs to show that he can win close games defensively.

It took a last second touchdown for the Bearcats to put away Pitt. Notre Dame lost several close games this year. They're record could have easily been 8-4 or 9-3. Will Kelly commit to both sides of the ball or will he still depend on his offense to compensate for an inefficient defense? Look for him to do what got him there. What got him there will ultimately seal his fate.

4. Will NBC stay in love with mediocrity?

The allure of tradition earned the program an exclusive contract with NBC. Notre Dame has pulled out some hat tricks under their previous regimes to at least seem some what worthy of exclusivity but what if Kelly gets shown the door? What if the occasional 10 win season gets old? Any thing's possible but I don't expect Notre Dame to loose their big time deal. The contract buyouts alone for Weiss in 18 million dollars. Tack on what they had to pay Willingham and Davie to go away, that's a strong indicator that this program has money to burn. Their contract with NBC runs through 2013.

The first year will yield some excitement for change sake but it will take at least two years to recruit the type of players that can run his system. This isn't Cincinnati! Notre Dame still remains one of the top academic institutions in the country. He will find out what Bob Stoopes, Urban Myer, Jon Gruden or any other big name coach already knows. Notre Dame though powerful and mighty at most points in its history, can no longer competed in the new world of college football. It's just that simple. Let the countdown began for the coaching search that will start in 2014.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What's the exit strategy for Tiger Woods rebuilding his public persona?

I've read several columns by some of the giants of sports writing and was very intrigued by the death sentence that most of them pronounced over Tiger's career. What's strange is that these people have written about Tiger's greatness much like the disciples wrote about Jesus in the gospels. But the cruel irony is that most of the writers all remind you more of Judas more than Matthew, Luke, Mark and John. Tiger has to do a better job of choosing his twelve apostles the next time.

Let's face it, Golf is a country club sport being dominated by a 30 something year-old black guy. The PGA tour's wagon is hitched to Tiger Inc. Woods is the most prominent golfer in an environment that governs the socioeconomic landscape. Some of the most sinister and ferocious business deals are decided over a golf game. This is where the strategy of gradual progress(or the appearance of it) takes place for a multitude of industries. It's where Fuzzy Zoeller can make jokes privately about the masters menu and no one would say, "Cut it out." All of us are different people privately than we are publicly, So why the outrage?

Is it just me or is the coverage of sexual scandals perceived differently by the public? Country club men like Mark Sanford, Elliot Spitzer, Jim Nance, Rodger Clemens, Bill O'Riley and John Edwards draw a different type of indignation from the media. Men like Kwame Kilpatrick, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, Kobe Bryant and now Tiger Woods (yes Tiger Woods) experience a different public flogging than their white male peers.

In 21st century America, do we still consider Black men as the only sexual deviants? Is Tiger's crime really jungle fever gone wrong thus some of the venom? By the looks of Tiger's mug shot, Elin defied a lot of the stereotypes attributed to the sweet innocent blond. She went off the deep end like most faithful broken hearted women do. (Cue up Jasmine Sullivan) Look for Tyler Perry's Diary of a mad Swedish woman in the fall of 2010. I know, I know I'll move on because this is a sports column right?

So far Tiger has taken some steps at redeeming his image. Here's some key factors to why Tiger will bounce back.

1. The latest statement to the media makes him appear more human than robotic.

Somewhere in middle and urban America, there's a man who identifies with Tiger about compromising his values. Tiger's story was fascinating before but the admiration for Tiger reaches a new plateau. Few will acknowledge or even try to understand how not being wanted can either motivate or send a person on a downward spiral. At first, He was just inspired by Tiger's plight to fulfill his Dad's prophecy of someday ruling the world of the country club's most sacred and prominent sport. Besides this man can probably tell you a thing or two about not being wanted. Especially in certain professional environments. He's even taken some golf lessons to align more with the spirit of what Tiger does and represents. This is way to rub elbows with his peers in his chosen profession. Despite the hostility he perseveres, destroying the stereotypes by performing at a high level equal or even superior to his peers. So for this guy, Tiger Woods will always be a hero because he understands Tiger's real challenge.

2. The public's outrage or lack there of will dictate how fast Tiger recovers.

Don Imus lost his job because the wrong ears heard a very bad but funny joke. (Don't tell me you didn't laugh just a little bit at Imus) The people that defended Imus blamed Al Sharpton for the firestorm but a man with a perm will never have that much power. Advertisers pay attention to whats good for the bottom line and not necessarily to whats politically correct. If enough consumers stop buying Nike's because of Tiger's affair, then and only then will Nike cease its longtime relationship with Woods. Besides they wanna "support" him through this firestorm. God forbid that Reebok swoops in like a knight in shining armor after Tiger successfully repairs his image.

3. America loves a comeback story.

American pop culture has its moments of temporary insanity. We have a fanatical love/hate relationship with our heroes and sheroes. We can to turn on them like faster than a New York minute. Especially after they've exceeded our proverbial limit of success we think they ought to have. Michael Jordan retired after his gambling issues surfaced during the 1993 playoffs. His 1995 return propelled him to new levels of popularity.

Kobe Bryant's return to popularity after his very public fall from grace is even more remarkable. Bryant's rape allegations had an O.J. Simpson like feel to it. He even implicated Shaq during his questioning causing most to still clown him in certain social circles of the NBA. (If you could be a fly on the wall when Kobe's name comes up in a black barbershop you'd really understand) Now after five plus years, Bryant has produced an NBA title. Coupled with MVP awards for the NBA finals and regular season, Kobe has rebuilt his image and regained his endorsements.

Alex Rodgriguez has survived steroid allegations while still playing baseball. Helping the Yankees to a world series and finally peforming in the clutch has temporarily silenced that that scandal. Didn't Nascar quietly settle Maurcia Grant's lawsuit? It's about strategy. A publicist is a public figures best friend.

So all hope isn't lost for Tiger Woods. Reportedly he's changing his prenuptial agreements, getting counseling, and skipping his charitable tournament to prepare for the comeback. If you're over thirty this should remind you of the first line of LL Cool J's 1991 hit "Mama Said Knock you out". LL was wrong about not calling it a comeback. For Tiger it is.......

Monday, November 30, 2009

What does Maturation of Vince Young mean for the future of the Tennessee Titans?

Bud Adams isn't the crazy old owner after all. Vince Young defied the criticisms of many(including the guy writing this column) analyst that downgraded his ability to just win football games. Statistics can never fully explain the magic that Young brings to a football field. Sunday's two minute drill was eerily similar to that drive against USC in the 2006 national championship game. I've never doubted Vince's ability to create the magic we saw Sunday. In fact I believe the Titans coaching staff put a muzzle on "VY" after his rookie season. I've bought into the theory of the Titans coaching staff being paritially responsible for Young's slow development (That's another column coming soon)

Matt Leinart watched Young take away yet another win that was right in his grasp. Leinart played a great game considering he hasn't played meaningful football in over a year. The Titans coaching staff have finally learned to cater a game plan to match the talent of Young. NFL coaches of times past and present are known to be stubborn to a fault. In their defense, every coaching move is scrutinized and some of them lose their jobs on perception more so than by the reality of the situation. I know that the coaching staff look like geniuses now but not so fast. (I promise to write about this because I still have serious beef with them)

Of course wins and losses matter but the intangible qualities that produces winning football got lost in the shuffle. A 13-3 record can cause most teams to overate themselves. The biggest mistake made by Coach Fisher was handing Kerry Collins the job without competition. Training camp competition creates a culture of precision, chemistry, camaraderie and respect. Yesterday's performance by Young and his young receiving corp silenced the sentiment of Chris Johnson being the only way the Titans were pulling off this streak.

"C.J." was still up to par with another explosive day but Kenny Britt, Jarret Cook and Lavelle Hawkins all took a huge step in their own maturation process. Quarterbacks become great when they can lead by example in the huddle, on the practice field and in their preparation in the film room. Great offensive coordinators have to be bold enough to install packages that fit their personnel. Credit Mike Heimerdinger for finally recognizing this. Many local and national analyst have blamed Young for not using his legs more. But he doesn't call the plays. There's a distinct difference between how VY was coached in his rookie year to the second year. The VY that we're seeing now has come full circle.

Norm Chow and VY were the scapegoats. This year is proof positive that Young hasn't been coached to his full potential. (I promise I'm not writing that other column) Sunday was a coming out party that caused even Merril Hodge to take back some of his harsh words. (I wonder will Jason Whitlock do the same? He did it for Rush Limbaugh but I digress)

The fourteen month layoff for Young was probably the best thing to happen to him. The untimely death of Steve McNair may have centered his life in a way that most of us will never know. Young has decided to take an active role in McNair's sons lives. A sense of responsibility can bring balance, purpose and focus for a young man like Young. All of the criticism was a lot for him to take considering his track record of winning at every level he's ever played football. Now he seems to have great understanding of how to deal with life as a professional and its showing on the football field.

The layoff has been the catalyst to his maturation as a person, as a professional football player and locker room leader that his most staunch supporters expected him to be. Young must continue to be a sponge because NFL defensive coordinators stay up late too.. It's a fact of life in a league that really stands for Not for Long and not the National Football League.

The Titans organization must continue to make good on personnel decisions in order for this team to become a perennial contender year after year. Young needs to pull a page from all of the great franchise quarterbacks. He needs to spend the summer with his receiving corp. This will further cement the relationship with his teammates and force Fisher to open things up.

The defeat of The Arizona Cardinals is a signature win for the Titans and for Young. This could be a precursor of things to come. Teams must now account for Young being able to beat you with his arm as well as his legs. Young has silenced the critics at least for another week with a performance line that reads 27-43 387 yards and a touchdown.

The Titans travel to Indianapolis to face Peyton Manning (An MVP candidate) and a Colts team that beat people from multiple angles. If the Titans pull to a .500 record against the Colts, it expands the reputation of Young and further makes Jeff Fisher look inept in his decision making. If that happens look for that column I've been trying not to write to appear real soon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Which 10-0 team will blink first?

The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are the class of the NFL featuring two of the most dynamic quarterbacks in pro football. Manning is a first ballot hall of famer and is a serious contender for another MVP trophy. Manning is completing a blistering 69.7 percent of his passes and is already over 3,000 yards passing for the season. Brees is no slouch either. The San Diego Chargers let him walk not because he couldn't play but because they had invested a first round pick in Phillip Rivers.

Brees's shoulder injury raised some valid concerns as well. The Saints took the risk when other teams with huge needs at quarterback took a pass. Both the Colts and Saints present unique qualities that explains their uncanny success in a league that is ultra competitive and changes with the next trend. The Saints had a few close calls including a couple of come from behind victories against the Dolphins and Panthers.

Manning's theatrics at the line of scrimmage is legendary while Brees is as cool as a summer breeze in the pocket while shredding defenses to pieces. Robert Meachem, a first round pick out of Tennessee has blossomed under the offense and tutelage of Sean Peyton's system. Marquis Colston has continued his stellar production while Jeremy Shockey has returned to a shadow of what he once was as a rookie with the Giants.

The Colts have had some young players step in from the last few draft years that make Peyton look more dominate than ever. Bill Polian and the Colts organization have not missed a beat with rookie head coach Jim Caldwell. Pierre Garcon sounds more like a designer shirt(Gordon Gartrell for Cosby show fans of the eighties) than an NFL receiver. The amazing thing about Garcon is that he is from tiny Mount Union College, a division III powerhouse that regularly appears on national television during the dead period between the end of the season and the shanigance of the BCS bowls.

Most football junkies don't even watch those games but pro scouts sure do. Garcon saw limited action last season and benefitted from watching Reggie Wayne and Manning work. Now he has become another sure handed weapon for Manning. Along with 30 catches and 3 touchdowns, Garcon is the find of the decade for the Colts. Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez are great compliments as well, while Dallas Clark continues to put up big numbers at the tight end position.

The running games of both of these teams get overshadowed by their passing games. Joesph Addai is still a powerful and instinctive runner that blocks and catches the ball out of the backfield very well. Reggie Bush is a classic scat back that reminds you of an overpaid and over hyped version of Dave Megget. Mike Bell is a classic north and south runner that takes the pounding Reggie Bush rarely takes in between the tackles. He is the perfect compliment to Bush's skill set, allowing Sean Peyton to keep defenses honest in their quest to account for all of the weapons on the field. The Saints running game is 5th overall in rushing yards. That's shows that the Saints are just a passing team. They have a healthy balance due to being ranked 6th overall in the league in passing yards.

The Colts survived the brutal test of Ray Lewis and Baltimore Ravens, edging the Ravens by less than a field goal. They are easily the class of the AFC south but face a feisty Houston Texans team that wants to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Then they host a rejuvenated Tennessee Titans team led by Vince Young and the dynamic Chris Johnson. The Colts schedule down the stretch isn't as challenging as it may seems. However it does present a cause for concern.

They will play Jacksonville on the road in December, a team that they beat by two on opening day. The Denver Broncos and New York Jets are both reeling from fast starts, while the Buffalo Bills look like cream puffs. The Colts could conceivably go undefeated considering whats left of their schedule. But this is the NFL and on any given Sunday, a 1-14 team can get that second win against a team that's been the class of the league all year.

The Saints have a Monday night showdown against the New England Patriots. Then they travel to Washington D.C. to meet the struggling Redskins on Dec. 6th. The following week they travel to a reeling Atlanta Falcons team that is missing their star running back Micheal Turner. In closing out the season, The Saints meet the Dallas Cowboys at their new state of the art Taj Mahal posing as a football stadium. The Boys lead the brutal NFC East division and look pretty motivated to win their first playoff game since 1996. Tampa Bay is still hapless and Carolina is searching for answers at the coaching, quarterback and receiver positions.

The Saints are more likely to lose before the Colts considering they've played down to lesser competition. The Colts on the other hand have blown out guys they should have beaten and survived against .500 teams like the Jags and Ravens. Monday Night will be a true test for the Saints. These two teams would be a dream come true to see in the Superbowl. The last decade has seen quite a few wild cards advance and even win the the coveted Lombardy trophy. Records go out of the window when the playoffs kickoff. Let's see who survives at season's end.

Bud The Terrible!!!!!

Maybe you thought the double gun salute was for Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills. Bud actually threw those "guns" several times. Smart business men like Adams probably have forgotten more about keeping their thoughts concealed than the average human. He took the fine because he wanted us to know that he's heard the frivolous comparisons to Al Davis, Jerry Jones, and Daniel Snyder.

Adams is a proud oil man who took a calculated risk when he decided to be one of the charter members of the old AFL. He knew what he was doing when he outbidded other NFL owners for the services of Warren Moon. Adams and Floyd Reese pulled the trigger on drafting Steve Mcnair which planted the seeds for the eventual dismissal of Reese. Bud went "gangsta" again with ordering the selection of Vince Young third overall in the 2006 NFL draft.

After things went south with the Titans in the 2009 season, Adams stepped in yet again with his directive to Jeff Fisher to put Vince in the game. Nationally most analyst thought that Young was left for dead. In most of our minds, Young was an overrated, immature, overpaid and living up to the prophecy of Merril Hodge.

The legend of Vince Young still loomed large in Texas. Bud Adams may have moved his team to Nashville but still resides in Texas. That could explain why Bud isn't easily influenced by the boo birds that have doubted Vince Young from day one. Not that he would anyway but sometimes owners and coaches are influenced by what they hear from analyst in the media. Bud has seen more of Young than all of the experts nationally and locally. Adams saw the intangible quality in Young that most analyst will never see. Vince Young is competitive and he will do what it takes to win.

He brings a unique dynamic that keeps defenses off balance. An 0-6 start reminded Bud why he drafted Young in the first place. Bud reached down in his bag of Do as I say and not as I do and surprised the league by demanding that Young get some playing time. Young Quarterbacks will experience ups and downs before they find some measure of success. Mark Sanchise(Sanchez) has had 2 games this year where he's thrown for 3 or more interceptions. Several of Sanchez's interceptions have been returned for touchdowns.

Young's draft classmate Jay Cutler has already thrown more interceptions than he did last year. Matt Leinart has yet to unseat the ageless Kurt Warner. Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Jason Campbell, Phillip Rivers and Eli Manning have shown flashes of brilliance (Manning has a Superbowl) but they all have struggled at some point during their development. Vince Young's inspired play has confused the wise while making Bud Adams and others who believed as he did look smart.

Young looked like a poor man's Randall Cunningham Monday night against the Houston Texans. Cunningham threw a better ball but seemed to lack the talent around him to help move the Eagles to the next level. Can you imagine what a young Cunningham would've done with a running back of Chris Johnson's caliber? Couple that with the recieving corp he eventually played with in Minnesota. (Chris Carter, Jake Reed, Randy Moss) Ben Rothlisberger, Steve Young, Steve Mcnair, Steve Grogan and Fran Tarkenton are names that come to mind when I scan the hallowed halls of football history. These guys were hybrid quarterbacks that benefited from having sure handed receivers that could catch a ball from a mobile quarterback.

In time Vince Young can become the next great mobile quarterback but he's got to have the proper support around him to pull it off. Steve Young had Jerry Rice, J.J. Stokes, Terrell Owens, Brent Jones, and Rickey Waters. McNair had Derrick Mason, Drew Bennett, Eddie George and Frank Wycheck. With the exception of Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt, the Titans have missed in the draft terribly on young players that could help them be dynamic. Mike Heimidinger has done a great job with preparing Young to be successful but they've got to open up the offense more.

One wrinkle that can be added is more naked bootlegs. The Pittsburgh Steelers do a great job with using Big Ben in all sorts of bootlegs, using him under center and allowing him to throw on the run if a play is sniffed out by defenses. Pittsburgh's receiving corp led by Hines Ward are some of the most sure handed receivers in football.

If I'm Vince Young, instead of envying the games of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, I'd be studying tape on all the great mobile quarterbacks. Expecting Vince Young to be a pure pocket passer is like expecting Ike Turner not to beat Tina. Good luck with that. It is the responsibility of the Titans coaching staff to draft, develop and devise schemes that caters to the strengths of the personnel that they have.

Bud Adams has had to pull an executive decision but mysteriously the Vince Young of 2007 and 2009 look totally different. Sure his success can be attributed to a variety of things, however the play calling from those two season look an aberration. Where was this in 2007? Did this contribute to Young's meltdown? Some fans are even asking why not sooner in 2009? These are questions that will never be explored or answered. Winning has a way of making people forget such glaring details.

For Now, Bud the Terrible's final word has proved yet again that he knows something that we didn't. Young has shown us that his talents are better served for the schemes the Titans want to run. So the next time we doubt Bud Adams just remember that a 250,000 dollar fine and a flip of the double bird is what he really thinks of our opinions. At 4-6 the Titans have salvaged some pride but it does leaves some questions as to what might have been. So we've been warned. Bud the Terrible can strike at anytime. Analyst and fans be damned......

Apparently there are certain decisions

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Should College Coaches be held accountable for their players behavior?

The University of Tennessee recently dismissed Nu'keese Richardson and Mike Edwards from the team. Nyshier Oliver, in an unrelated incident was also arrested for shop lifting on November 7th. Oliver is a redshirt freshman that's expected to contribute to UT's rise to prominence next season. Jansen Jackson a third party in the botched robbery, wasn't aware of the activities of the other freshman. Jackson remains on the team but is suspended indefinitely.

Coaches have a huge responsibility in managing the behavior of players off the field. Is it just me or does its seems as though the player gets a slight pass. Can a coach be there with a kid 24/7? Most college football coaches pour their wisdom into these kids weekly about making the right decisions. For some the message sinks in but for others the message seems to go in one ear and come out of another. The million dollar questions that should be asked is what led to the dismissal of two young men from the University of Tennessee. Why would kids risk their full scholarships on such lousy decisions as shop lifting and attempted robbery?

It's a simple answer for someone like myself but for many Americans, the explanation of poverty may come across as an excuse and not a diagnosis. In 21st century America, most major college programs are going to give scholarships to kids that hail from some of the most impoverished areas in the country. That's not to say that all kids from poor neighborhoods will make the same dumb decisions that Richardson, Edwards and Oliver did. However it shouldn't be a shock when some of them revert to the behavior of their former environments. Most major college programs give their scholarship players very little money outside of their tuition and meal plan.

A college scholarship doesn't necessarily compensate for the fast paced world of major college campus. Some of these kids are driving luxury cars, sporting the latest electronics, fashions and have access to a disposable income. Often times, that income is provided by hardworking or privileged parents. In some cases these students are allowed to work part time while attending classes. During the football season (which is now year round) how can a "student athlete" masquerading as a defacto pro football player, survive in this new world. Oh sure, take the self righteous high road and beat your chest while spouting off your college resume. Tell me how hard you had to work while you were in college. Never mind that you didn't have the demands of a major college athlete.

Some of these young men rarely have the financial means to interact with their new peer group. Acceptance from ones peer group at any age is still important. It's one thing to be worshipped for your athletic prowess, but to not fitting one's social circle breeds a different under current of pressures that few human beings will ever experience or understand. It leads some to have illegal contact with boosters, agents, runners and yes commit crimes that can cost them their college careers. Ask Jimmy Johns why he sold cocaine on Alabama's campus. What about Teddy Dupay's gambling ring he ran out of his dorm room at the University of Florida.

Criminality isn't the answer to their problems. But 3 squares and a roof over your head is hardly market value when your athletic talent is responsible for contributing millions to a major college program. Why does a major college athlete have to steal when he's apart of university that has unlimited resources. College coaches are caught between a rock and a hard place because they can't help their kids with any tangible benefit outside of the NCAA's archaic rules. A sensible social stipend should be apart of the student athlete's scholarship package, which could alleviate most of the allure of criminality that takes place among some young college athletes.

When college kids makes a dumb choices, then the coach has to fall on the sword for a system that is already fundamentally flawed.( I'm not crying for millionaire college coaches either) Peter Warrick was sidelined for shop lifting a few weeks before the national championship game. This guy was a four year starter. At the time Warrick was one of college football's most exciting players in the 1999 season. Warrick could barely afford to get a haircut, let alone any gear that was acceptable to his peer group. Coach Bob Stoopes had to get rid of freshman phenom Rhett Bomar for accepting cash for work he didn't do.

What about Maurice Clarett's "job" in the summer at Ohio State? Ever heard the story how Reggie Bush's his family "rented"a luxrious home for a year before he declared for the NFL draft? Booster involvement for star players is inevitable considering all of the lifestyle challenges most college athletes from lesser means encounter. Sure defend the rights of the NCAA while forgetting the plight of kids that are supposed to "amatuers". Some of these "student athletes" never get college degrees or fail to reach the NFL.

College coaches are paid to win not raise our kids when they arrive on XYZ campus. Ask Sylvester Croom how fast he was shown the door after having early success and cleaning up the mess of his predecessors. College athletics is smoke and mirrors. Most of us hate to admit it. Most of us are blinded by our fanatic loyalty. Our inherent addiction of seeing our favorite college teams win skews our judgement. Nu'keese Richardson and Mike Edwards will land on their feet. In most cases having athletic ability seems to always write a ticket to the land of second opportunity. Nothing changes in the grand scheme of things because most of us will accept that this is the risk we take when recruiting these types of kids. Boderline recruiting violations are also an accepted practice by those who aid their respective programs with whatever resources deemed neccessary to keep the program on top.

Coach Mark Mangino of the University of Kansas, is now under fire for his harsh treatment of his players. Is he really under fire for that or is it the 5 game losing streak that the Kansas administration is really concerned about? Rich Rodriguez dodged a bullet at Michigan after allegedly holding extra practices outside of the mandatory 20 hour limit. Now that Michigan is 5-7 , does their fan base care about the percieved whining of its players? These two coaches aren't a full representation of college coaches who care about their players. But where is the meaningful dialouge that should be taking place? It's easy to write troubled athletes off as bad apples but what about the system itself? Any self respecting college sports fan should be able look at the recent events at Tennessee and compare them to these three factors. The misconduct of some college coaches, the sinister underworld of recruiting, and the riches of the NCAA. How do we sit back and blame college coaches? Rich Rodriguez and Mark Mangino still have their jobs but for how long?

Coach Kiffin didn't commit a cardinal sin in extending troubled kids a chance at a better life. It's one thing to have lax rules that aren't enforced by the coaching staff. Apparently that wasn't the case. These young men made their own choice to go against the commitment they made to the team and a fresh start towards the future. Yet the perfect storm of being away from home, struggling to adapt to college life and having limited resources is the perfect explaination of why see these types of choices are made by young men affiliated with major college sports. As the old saying goes, Don't hate the player hate the game. Obviously we have it backwards. WE hate the players but love the game.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Put a contract on it! Why the titans should lock up Chris Johnson to a long term deal.

Chris Johnson is the NFL's leading rusher. The Titans allowed Albert Haynesworth to hit the open market over one million dollars. After being franchised for the 2008 season, Haynesworth met the terms of the one year deal and signed for the richest contract for a defensive player to date with a contract worth over 100 million dollars. Beyonce Knowles, the sultry and seductive songwriter has coined a phrase synonymous with disgruntled ladies that are trying convince their man to marry them or find greener pastures. It would be horrendous to see CJ get a free agent contract from another team that's willing to "put a contract on it."

How does that sentiment resonate with Titans fans? Management refused to "upgrade" Haynesworth, a move which has affected the Titans this season. A 3-6 record creates an atmosphere of doubt but at the same time creates an expectation of whats to come for future seasons. The inspired play of Vince Young and a do everything super stud in Johnson would definitely keep season ticket holders happy. Arguably Johnson is the best running back in football. Sure Adrian Peterson is in the discussion but CJ doesn't have to play second fiddle either.

Jeff Fisher has gotten his wish. He has the "final" say so on all personnel drafted or signed as free agents. His love affair with defensive backs is evident. He was on board with locking up seventh round pick Courtland Finnegan. SO how about the Titans doing the same for an offensive player. Since 2006 his decisions have been marginal at best. Taking Chris Henry in the second round was a complete debacle.

Trading valuable early round picks for Jared Cook hasn't quite panned out either. Electing to go with rookie Byron Mouton over veteran Mark Jones was genius as well. How about allowing Chris Carr to hit the street? What about not bringing Rod Hood in until the season was all but lost?

Chris Johnson will be going into his third year in 2010. He is one of the few bright spots in Fisher's tenure as the prime decision maker on draft picks and free agent signings. Why not offer him a fair market value contract of the top running backs in the NFL now? I can understand the hesitance of offering Haynesworth a contract but the Titans can ill afford to go bargain basement with Chris Johnson. Johnson maybe the most dynamic player in Tennessee Titans history. Most local analyst have had trouble finding a comparable comparison to Johnson.

Barry Sanders has been mentioned but I see him as a hybrid of Marshall Faulk and Tony Dorsett. Like Faulk, Johnson can line up in the slot or take it to the house from scrimmage. He's still not the traditional "north and south" runner like an Adrian Peterson. Johnson's vision is special which gives him time to adjust to the holes created by his offensive line. Like Dorsett he strikes fear in the opposing defensive coordinators heart, causing defensive staffs to scheme specifically against his unique gifts.

Bo Scaife was franchised after leading the Titans in receptions. Franchising C.J. would be a bad P.R. move considering how productive he's been. Johnson has the type of talent that comes once in a generation. Speed is an intangible that can't be coached. It is certainly a skill set that smart organizations include in their evaluation process, in particular when determining which players can help them when that elusive Superbowl championship.

Securing C.J.'s services is a now brainer. Vince Young is definitely benefiting from playing with him, the fan base is in absolute awe of his speed and talent, And this young man has the goods to carry this franchise for at least another 5 to 7 years. With so much uncertainty at Quarterback this is the wise investment that Bud Adams, Jeff Fisher and Mike Reinfeldt have to make. Say with me Titans fans, Put a contract on C.J.!

Johnson has a bright future in this league barring any serious injury. Conventional wisdom says that they Titans have learned from not resigning Haynesworth. These aren't Floyd Reese's Tennessee Titans. Mike Reinfeldt and Jeff Fisher may go through several franchise tags with Johnson before its to late. If they do that then we become the jealous guy in the club that had Beyonce but didn't commit. Can you blame Jay Z? I could see Daniel Synder or another playmaker starved franchise getting down on one knee after the first date. The NFL season is in the second half so time will tell as always!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is the NCAA the evil Empire? Ask Dez Bryant

Deion Sanders is the mastermind of a sinister plan designed to mentor young black males. Sanders plan includes teaching young men to behave as professionals on and off the field. It includes being accountable for your actions at all times, avoiding bad influences, making great business associates to enhance your life after football and it even includes an introduction on incorporate a relationship God. Deion Sanders and his diabolical plan to take over the NCAA's athletes must be stopped right?

Even in my sarcasm I find my previous statements to have a grain of truth attached to it. Julio Jones and Mark Ingram took a fishing trip with a 56 year old booster. "Allegedly" all the booster did was pay for the fishing trip. So what's the difference between Dez Bryant and Mark Ingram and Julio Jones? First of all Alabama "self reported" the little shin dig about Jones and Ingram. The information about Bryant's relationship with Sanders was uncovered by hardcore investigation. Once Bryant was questioned about the relationship he was in no man's land.

On the surface its seems as if Bryant got bad legal advice. According to ESPN.com's Jemelle Hill, Bryant was advised to lie about his relationship with Deion Sanders. Apparently several years ago, Deion started a mentoring program for young high school athletes which led to him reaching out to college athletes. Bryant only had dinner at Deion's home. Deion is not in the same category as Rodney Guilory. Don't remember him? Let me refresh your memory. He is the guy that basically was O.J. Mayo's caretaker from his junior in high school all the way up to his "recruitment" to USC.

Guilory's job was to steer O.J. Mayo to Bill Duffy. Of course that blew up once the hard evidence showed up. Guilory provided plane tickets, cell phones, clothing, meals and an introduction to the celeberty lifestyle awaiting Mayo once he did his one year sentence in college basketball. We don't even have to mention another USC great do we? Okay for the sake of argument, what about Reggie Bush? The NCAA has yet to suspend Pete Carroll's program.

On the surface it would appear that the NCAA is trying to protect the integrity of its "student athletes" but I think most sane and rational people know better. Why is does John Wall have to payback the expenses of his AAU summer expenses? But Dez Bryant has to lose out on his season for essentially having dinner with an NFL legend that isn't even an alum of Oklahoma State!!! Should the young high school quarterbacks that attend Peyton Manning's football camp be ineligible to play college football because they got a few tips at a football camp? Of course not!(Note Manning isn't the only guy that holds camps to help enhance kids football skills)

Please find a better angle than "he lied" to us. Is a lie worse than LaGarret Blount's sucker punch of an opposing player after the game? There's even talk of reinstating Blount. Now how's that for a double standard? Does Alabama's storied program keep them out of any meaningful violations concerning Jones and Ingram? Of course it does. Sure Alabama has the price in the past for multiple recruiting violations but how can Jones and Ingram not get some type of punishment if they did indeed went on the fishing trip. Especially if a kid can get suspended for lying about dinner. How can USC's football program not be punished for their obvious transgressions involving Reggie Bush?

The integrity of the NCAA is in the toliet. Any journalist that would even attempt to defend this joke of organization is absolutely delusional. It all boils down to money, the protection of the NCAA's product (the student athlete) and having full autonomy to operate as a monopoly. Citing Sanders relationship with Crabtree as a possible red flag is ludicrous. Deion Sanders had nothing to do with Crabtree's hold out. Deion Sanders publicly expressed his relationships with present NFL players who are still on active rosters in the league. Most up and coming cornerbacks that are high draft picks have the opportunity to meet Deion Sanders at some point in their young careers. Wouldn't you exchange cell phone numbers with someone who's a known great in your profession? Any Joe Blow would if they had any professional intelligence...

Eugene Parker has started to make some noise in the sports agent world. Parker has signed 7 first round picks over the last few season. The question is to ask is some entity in the sports agent world threatened by Parker in some way? What forces are running scared with the possibility of a Deion Sanders having more influence young black athletes? Isn't this what national columnist and radio talk show host allow Jim Brown to spew all over the airwaves and in print? When someone actually takes Brown's words and applies them, now there's a problem. Is it counter productive to steer an impressionable college athlete from the same fate as Sean Taylor or a Darrent Williams.( That's not to say Bryant is a bad kid) Pac-man Jones may still have a career in the NFL if he would've interacted with a credible mentor like Sanders while he was in college.

Mike Crabtree signed with Parker on the recommendation of Larry Fitzgerald and not Deion Sanders! Let's say if Sanders was in Crabtree's ear during his holding out, Were there any laws broken?. SO why does this trickle down to Dez Bryant? It's simply to make an example out of Bryant and hopefully the rest of the herd will get the message.

I'm not saying that the NCAA is poorly run organization however they are littered with glaring double standards. Their unethical and selective judgement undermines their image drastically. Dez Bryant will be fine. He is smart enough to enter the NFL draft where he will be a first day selection. Hopefully Sanders can continue to reach out to kids that want help and positive influences but I'm not holding my breath about whether or not the evil empire will ever change its stripes....

Monday, November 9, 2009

Is it time for Allen Iverson to call it quits?

Great athletes never can accept it when their skills diminish. The roar of the crowd, the V.I.P. treatment and your name being discussed in arguments at the barbershop can make a brother lose sight of things. Allen Iverson at one point in time was considered one of the greatest players under 6'3. Now he is doing is legacy a total disservice. Most of his detractors will now swear that this version of Allen Iverson that they've been warning us about.

Joe Dumars realized his mistake when trading the steady and humble Chauncey Billups for Iverson after another meltdown in the Eastern Conference finals. Not only did Iverson sit on the bench most of last season but he whined about it. He didn't particularly like playing second fiddle to a team that has had more playoff success that he has. Imagine that. Allen Iverson has scored a bunch of points in his career but aside from a few playoff appearances,(one resulting in an NBA finals appearance) who has he made better? Drafted ahead of Stephon Marbury in 1996, conventional wisdom said this guy had the star power it to ressurrect the Philadelphia 76'ers. To his credit he was apart of that resurgence but he wasn't the total summation of why it happened.

It was difficult for young stars like Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes to really develop because Allen dominated the ball so much. Eventually Iverson became one of the shortest 2 guards in the NBA but boy could he score. Eric Snow normally handled all of the ball handling duties and guarded the opposing teams speedy point guards while Iverson played help defense like a defensive back. His defensive skills were sub par though he was always one of the league leaders in steals. Playing passing lanes and defending people one on one are two different things.

Allen Iverson is going through what Muhammed Ali, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Jerry Rice, Magic Johnson and countless other sports legends go through when its time to hang it up. Great players are likely to underestimate their present abilities by past accomplishments. Professional athletes are like trying to carry groceries in soggy paper bags- You never know when the bottom of their talent is going to fall out. Very few times do scoring point guards play at a high level past the tenth year. Iverson has exceeded that, yet he is unwilling to concede that he's past his prime.

Iverson's numbers have declined over the last four seasons partially because he was no longer the first option. He has a career scoring average of 27 points coupled with a 6.2 assists per game. Not bad for a perceived ball hog however stats don't always tell the of his entire story of his career. Larry Brown was Allen's best coach and quite frankly, "A.I." had is best years under Brown. Those days are long gone. Iverson has become more of a cancer in the locker room. He's hasn't evolved into the veteran leader that Sam Cassell became once he realized he wasn't the same player.

Iverson is having a hard time adjusting from superstar to role player. The game has seen many great point guards but Iverson is the originator of the term combo guard. He isn't the first guard that could play both the point or the two but he is one of the few that has been allowed to just be what he is. Tiny Archibald was a great scoring guard but didn't win a championship until he catered his game to a team first philosophy. Isaiah Thomas could score in bunches but wisely adjusted his game to his personnel.

Iverson probably will never do so and may find himself out of the league after this season. Today's young point guards such as Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Brandon Jennings and Rajon Rondo are playing like your classic "pure point" guard. These guys are throwbacks to the Mark Price's(Rondo worked out with him this summer)the Mark Jackson's and the Mark Macon's of basketball yesteryear. Those types were great at getting their own shot second and getting their teammates involved first. When has Iverson ever had to defer to anyone? He didn't at Georgetown. He didn't in his ten years in Philly. Iverson wants a championship but at the expense of him playing like he did in 2001. It will not happen that way. Does he want a European championship like Dominique Wilkins? His stint in Memphis was supposed to be a launching pad for a contender to trade for him.

It's his time to show that he can be a leader on and off the court. This was his one chance to allow his game to evolve from getting 25 shots a night to only half that in order to develop fit into a team concept without him driving the ship. Rickey Pierce became a deadly threat as a six man later in his career. Clyde Drexler gladly came to Houston in 1995 after his glide began decline. Vinnie Johnson relished his role as a sixth man. Iverson has become a disappointing example of how team sports will always have a love/ hate relationship with guys who statistically productive but have difficulty with meshing with their teammates.

When these types get older they become expendable. Seven years ago NBA teams would've dealt with the baggage that he brings. Now in the twilight of a hall of fame career, teams don't have to. It's to much young talent available for teams to have to settle for a pompous veteran who's never learned to be a teammate first and a superstar second. The Memphis Grizzlies was the one of the few teams willing to extend a lifeline out to Iverson. Maybe time away from the game will put it proper perspective for him. Maybe when teams will barely give him an invitation to work out, let alone a contract will he get it. Until then he's hijacked a paycheck from a struggling franchise that needed someone like him to make the team relevant again. SO much for that.

Monday, November 2, 2009

In Vince we Trust? Not so fast

Vince Young's performance yesterday was encouraging but not the be all end all to the Titans woes. The Titans backbone showed up yesterday. Chris Johnson's 228 yard thrashing of the Jags defense proved to be one of the difference makers. The defense finally showed up and did their job. The Titans returned to power football while Vince gave them an element that only he can provide.

The consensus has been that "VY" couldn't play at the this level. We all know about Merril Hodge's assessment. Jason Whitlock has chimed in. Local media and Titans fans have taken their shots. His defenders (me included) have always thought that Fisher wasn't necessarily catering to Vince's strengths. The Titans coaching staff has repeatedly failed to develop the receiving corp that they acquired in the draft. They've missed on quite of few draft picks as well. (Chris Henry, Ty Calico and the infamous Pacman to name a few) Overpaid free agents or aging veterans couldn't get the job done either.

Some of the blame was on VY as well considering his spotty play and shoddy work ethic. The 2007 season saw him have some struggles that most young quarterbacks will have. But the fans and peanut gallery wanted more of the 06 VY than the 07 version and rightfully so. His benching was the right decision. Kerry Collins was a bright spot, leading the Titans to ten straight wins.

The fools gold in those ten straight wins was that Collins was significantly better than Young. Statically they graded out pretty close save the interceptions. Ball control offenses can't tolerate turnovers from the quarterback position. An immature quarterback coupled with an impatient fan base Now 14 months to the day of his infamous refusal to go back in the game, he managed to have a quarterback rating of 114.9 throwing for 125 on 18 pass attempts.

Now that he's answered the bell this week, how does the rest of the season play out? San Francisco has a similar style as the Jags. Frank Gore is running back and loves to punish defenses with his power running style. Mike Crabtree and Vernon Davis have become reliable targets for Alex Smith and like Vince Young, is trying to prove that he belongs in this league.

Many Titans fans believe that drafting a more "traditional" quarterback could be the catalyst to playoff glory. However the recent success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco make many fans of losing teams believe that their early progress rest solely on their shoulders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Baltimore and Cincinnati are shining examples of how difficult it is to find the right guy at quarterback. Ryan and Flacco have great supporting cast that enable them to learn causing them to look like prodigies.

The term "franchise quarterback has been branded in our psyche as fans and media types alike. We forget that Baltimore experimented with the likes of Brooks Bolinger, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve Mcnair and Trent Dilfer before landing Flacco. Troy Smith was penciled in as the starter before going down with an injury. The Raven's Quarterback odyssey is proof positive that evaluating talent in the NFL is no exact science. I don't care what Mel Kiper or Todd Mcshay tells us. They've been wrong more times than they've been right.

Dilfer's Superbowl run also shows that a team can compete for a Superbowl without having a superstar at the quarterback position. Many forget that Doug Williams and Jay Shroeder battled for the starting job all season before Williams edged him out due to injury. Of course Williams went on to lead the Redskins to a Superbowl. The Giants had a similar quarterback controversy between Phill Simms and Jeff Hoestetler. It didn't hamper their championship run either.

Nothing special considering that the Redskins got to the promise land with Mark Rypien and Joe Theisman. The Ben Rothlisberger, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez are statistical anomalies compared to the bust rate of first round quarterbacks. Look at the 2004 draft. Ben Rothlisberger, Phillip Rivers, JP Lossman and Eli Manning have delivered( well minus JP Lossman but three out of four ain't bad) while Alex Smith and Jason Campbell from the 2005 class have had their challenges.

Aaron Rodgers is one of the few bright spots in that 2005 quarterback class considering he fell all the way down to 24th. I bet San Fran would like to have that draft back. The 2006 class of Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler and Vince Young has produced only one playoff appearance between the three of them.

2007's class is a total bust. Jemarcus Russell is fat and overpaid while Brady Quinn can't seem to crack the lineup in Cleveland. Look at the first round picks from this decade. Trust me there's a high probability for us to strike out. IF VY washes out don't be surprised when the Titans go through the valley of Quarterbacks that can't play. Every franchise will go through it at some point. Look at Cincinnati after Boomer Eaison retired. Our best bet is to bring both Kerry and VY back next year, make them compete for the job(the spirit of competition does wonders for football teams) and draft a slew of defensive talent that can be the cornerstone for how we want to play football.

This team was obviously comfortable with having the best record in football last year. The lack of competition in camp was a mistake. I understand Jeff's commitment to his starters but blind loyalty can get a coach fired. That happens everyday in the coaching profession. VY had a great day Sunday but NFL players earn their checks every week. The greats at every position never rest on the laurels of yesterday. It's back to work for the Titans. VY had a lot of help (which he acknowledged) Sunday and will need even more as the season goes on. As always time will tell.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Rush Limbaugh should be allowed to purchase an NFL team

Let me start by saying that it absolutely kills me to write this blog. Limbaugh is a guy I can say I absolutely detest. Now that I've admitted that, I think its fair to explain why he should be allowed to purchase a minority stake in an NFL franchise.

For most intelligent people, fanatical analysis detached from logic can't live in the same room. Call me crazy but what I'm about to say will be about as fair as anyone could be considering the comments that Rush Limbaugh has made over the years. WE all know about his comments about Donovan Mcnabb. We've heard his take on why slavery wasn't that bad. Even after all of that I've still find myself taking the side of Rush Limbaugh because of the principle of this matter.

Rush Limbaugh's controversial comments draws twenty million kool aid drinkers everyday mostly for affirmation and certainly not for information.

In all fairness those twenty million viewers may view my defense of Jeremiah Wright in the same vein. Truthfully all of what we believe as right or wrong is solely based on our experiences. The NFL is one of the most hypocritical organizations in all of sports. It didn't hire its first Black coach until 1989. How many black general managers are there in the NFL? Let's try 5 as of this year. Ozzie Newsome was one of the lone rangers in this important front office role for a number of years.

Remember this league didn't allow black men to play quarterback until the late 60's. Sure it was a defacto rule but it existed. So how is the NFL in any moral position to deny Limbaugh the chance to invest in an NFL team. Ironically the good ole boy's club that is actually denying Rush is the same club that is for excluding him of american right. This is a guy has been a card carrying member of this club and now he's getting his. I can't lie apart of me likes seeing this but it is still wrong. If Louis Farakhan was denied the right to buy five percent of a team, I wonder if Al and Jesse would show up to defend him? I think we know the answer to that question.

The NFL only cares about cashing checks. So why should Limbaugh not be allowed to be a "minority" owner for an NFL franchise? What does his opinions have to do with being qualified to invest in five percent of the Saint Louis Rams? If free agents decided not to play in St. Louis because Limbaugh owned a small stake in the team then that would be their right as an American and an employee of the NFL.

In a recent television appearance, Steven A. Smith concluded that if the price was right most NFL players would sign on the dotted line regardless.

Guess what? Steven A. is spot on. Has anyone forgotten how hard it is to gain financial security playing in a league that doesn't guarantee its entire contract?

Limbaugh a week later in classic fashion went of the defensive, using President Obama as the explanation for why his bid was being denied. Never mind the fact that people view his comments as bad for business. Forget that he's a social pariah and a hypocrite at best. Sure play the blame game Rush. Do the same thing you claim that liberals and minorities do all the time. It's funny how chickens always come home to roost. As a descendant of an old farm boy, chickens coming home to roost never made me sad. In fact it mad me glad.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is Tim Tebow the Elvis of College Football?

To many music fans of generations gone by Elvis Presley is the King of Rock and Roll. Those of us who know better understand where the source of Presley's gift originated from. Tim Tebow is a phenomenal talent that plays the game of football the way it should be played. He is an infectious leader that has the "it" factor that many men envy. He's the kind of guy teammates will play hurt for. His opponents rave about how difficult it is to play against him. So is this a blog to hate on Tim Tebow? Of course not! The purpose of this column is to shed light on a factor that is the equivalent of a Hollywood remake. In deference to the many dynamic mobile quarterbacks that have gone before him, the question can be asked is he really all that?

Tommie Frazier, Charlie Ward, Eric Crouch, Rodger Staubach and Steve McNair are names that jump out at me as I rack my brain for comparisons. Tommie Frazier is the only man to win the MVP of the national championship game that he lost! Charlie Ward could certainly scramble but boy did he throw a better ball than Tebow. The same can be said of McNair and Rodger the dodger. Sure Mcnair played at a much smaller school as did Staubach but those guys dominated where they got the opportunity to play. Eric Crouch was unbelievable but wasn't a very good passer though he had magical moments running the option.

In the spirit of my musical comparison, Tebow like Elvis wasn't the first or best to every do what he did. In the case of Tebow he's still doing it. "You ain't nothing but a hound dog" wasn't originally recorded by Elvis. Blues singer "Big Mama Thornton" recorded the original in 1952. Presley's version was recorded in 1956 after seeing a band in Las Vegas record a similar version he went on to make famous.

Tebow doesn't proclaim to be the "greatest college football player" ever. He simply goes out there week to week and leads his team to victory. He's not like King James, (not Lebron) You know the dead guy who put his name on the bible to make ignorant readers of history think he actually wrote it. Yeah that guy. Tebow quotes this book a lot on mission trips and visits to prisons around the country but apparently the guy has the good sense to know that he didn't invent how he plays the game. Sadly most analyst and rabid football fans do not.

Tebow is simply the victim of what I've diagnosed as Elvisitis. Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy, Little Richard, Ike Turner and Jerry Lee Lewis were some of the early pioneers of Rock and Roll but somehow Elvis gets crowned King? In the words of Chris Rock in the movie Head of State, "That ain't right". Eric Clapton has said in numerous interviews that his early influences were the blues musicians of the deep south. The blues help to usher in the early sounds of Rock and Roll. The marriage of the stride piano and the distortion used by Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry revolutionized music, forever changing the direction of musical artistry.

Tim Tebow has been seen before. He's just the beneficiary of the 21st century hype machine. Of course that comes with the territory of winning a Heisman, winning multiple national championships and being an overall good kid. Like any monster we've created out of hype, we will eventually eat our own. As soon as he flops at the pro level, then he'll join the ranks of a lot of Heisman winners that didn't quite live up to the hype.

Anointing Tebow the greatest college football player ever is like believing that Jim Jones and David Koresh were really the second coming of Jesus. There has been so many great players through the generations. Ask a guy that's in his 60's he may tell you that Paul Horning or Archie Griffin is the greatest. It's all about opinion. Tebow's reputation off the field has largely contributed to the canonization of what he does on it. Tebow has only four career 300 yard pasing games.

Two of those games was against Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic in the 2007 season. How many yards a quarterback throws for isn't the only measuring stick especially when he's supported by a team with an oil wells's worth of talent. Oddly enough, it does bring up an interesting conversation about why team accomplishments are largely misrepresented as the ability of one person, opposed to one individuals contribution to the team. The entertainment value of television skews this dramatically which explains why we like to turn on these guys when they don't meet our lofty expectations.

Time has a way of eradicating the memories of Rashaan Salaam, Rahib Ismail, Andre Ware, Danny Wureffel, Gino Torretta and countless other sure things the hype machine created. During Charlie Ward's run at Florida State, I vaguely remember the media giving him props for being the student body president. He was also known as a clean cut kid as well but never did he get worshipped in the fashion that Tebow does. Ward's ability to play in the NFL was completely shot down while Tebow is some circles is being considered as a first round pick.

I believe most NFL GM's no better but stranger things have happened. I.E. Alex Smith, Vince Young, Pat White, Heath Shuler and the list goes on. So if you're on the bandwagon of Tim Tebow being the greatest college football player ever then you're welcome to stay there. Just remember when he flops at the pro level to have mercy on him. The Best Damn sports already has spot warmed up for him on one of their goofy list. Just wait and see. I love being the one to say I told you so.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why the Titans are 0-2

The "shocking" loss of the Titans on Sunday felt like a punch in the gut. High expectations will do that to a fan base that desperately wants a championship banner to hang from its rafters. Every team has a sense of entitlement when it comes to the chase of such an elusive team goal. The players, management and fan base collectively knows that Superbowl glory expunges the memory of being one yard short. (Actually seven points but one yard shy sounds better) Sunday exposed most of what I've written about in the off season but there's some other things have reared their ugly head.

I've never thought the the additions of Kenny Britt and Nate Washington was the "final" pieces of our championship quest. I'm not going to pin the blame on this 0-2 start on the Titan's failure to resign Albert Haynesworth. That's to easy of a target. Our Front four led by Kyle Vandenbosh has shown the ability to make plays. Jason Jones and Tony Brown aren't chopped liver either. So what could it be? Here are five credible reason why the Titans are 0-2.


I'm not suggesting that Jeff should be fired. He's a fighter no doubt. Jeff is the NFL's longest tenured coach with multiple division titles, 1 AFC championship and another appearance in the AFC championship game after a 1-4 start in the 2002 season. That was seven years ago though. Since then the Titans offense has underperformed. They haven't had a Quarterback pass for 3,000 yards since Steve Mcnair. Free agent signings on offense have not panned out. David Givens, Carl Pickens, Eric Moulds, and Yancy Thigpen didn't help the team. We have failed miserably at drafting recievers. Brandon Jones was decent but opted for free agency. Courtney Roby, Paul Williams and backseat of my jeep (Tyrone Calico) are shameful from picks from the ghost of busted draft pick past. The Titans have two straight playoff appearances that ended after the first game, including the heartbreaking 3 point at home loss to the Ravens in last years divisional round.

Fisher still hasn't totally surrendered the reins to veteran Kerry Collins and the offensive coordinator. After a hot start in the first half, Kerry only completed 5-13 passes for 35 yards. Chris Johnson great play still couldn't salvage the win after touching the ball a total of 25 times accounting for over 250 yards of total offense. Johnson's talent and not necessarily great play calling saved the Titans. Johnson's timely 57 yard burst, with the Titans facing third and 19 kept the Texans at bay. Andre Johnson had 14 catches which was more than Britt, Gage and Washington combined. The offense didn't stay aggressive. In addition to that, Collins turned the ball over during crunch time.

2. The Secondary got exposed.

Nick Harper isn't the entire reason but he's a big piece of the puzzle. The front four got pressure on Shaub but to his credit, he got rid of the ball in a timely fashion. Sacks aren't always the be all end all but the Titans definitely depend heavily on disrupting the quarterback which helps out their secondary tremendously. Andre Johnson showed why he's an emerging talent on par with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes and Terrell Owens.

3. The Titans didn't score any points off turnovers.

The Titans "sneaky" 13-3 record was anchored by their affinity for causing turnovers and giving their offense a short field. This led to Lendale White scoring 15 touchdowns and doing that lame touchdown dance he loves. The Titans haven't been as fortunate this season. The defense does miss Albert's presence in regard to causing mismatches but Tony Brown and company showed that they can do the job. Theyperformed well without Haynesworth against Pittsburgh last winter which led to the Titans securing home field throughout the 2008 playoffs. Jason Jones found a way to get kicked out of the game. Though the call can be viewed as suspect, he has to find a way to remain calm in such a tight game. Also save me the excuse of missed field goals. That's still the sign of a team that is a one trick pony. The Patriots eventually evolved into an offensive jaugernaut but still kept a money kicker after Vinateri left.

4. The offense took the gas off of the pedal in the second half.

Some would argue that the titans were one of the tops in the league in "red zone" efficiency by the amount of touchdowns they scored. True but that stat is skewed and anchored by the fact that the Titans were also one of the best teams in takeaways. The passing game produced only 12 touchdown passes which is great but when it counts 6 points is more than three if you're down by two scores. Secondly Kerry's fumble in the last two minutes showed that the offense had lost its edge after building a 21-7 lead. An interception and conservative play calls allowed the Texans to stay close and eventually take the lead late in the 4th quarter.

5. The Titans brought a knife to a gunfight.

Whenever teams are scoring at a high level coaches have to recognize the shift in momentum. The coaching staff didn't do that. They overworked their defense while allowing their offensive philosophy to stay conservative(knife) while their opponent kept up their onslaught(gun) of brilliant and timely calls. 0-2 isn't the end of the world. Pittsburgh started 0-2 last season and won the Superbowl.

Kerry Collins has been serviceable the first two games but dropped balls by Justin Gage and Ahmad Hall are common place. The return of Bo Scaife and the health of Jared Cook is one of the keys to turning things around. The New York Jets are an upstart team with a huge amount of confidence. This team needs to be punched in the mouth offensively. A field goal and a cloud of dust will not suffice this weekend. Chris Johnson will do his part but the receiving corp and coaching staff must keep their defense off of the field for long periods of time.

Visiting Houston this week has been an eye opener. The radio station 790 AM, has the fans of the Texans believing that they can challenge for the AFC South title. Our play is 0n both sides of the ball has got to get better or Jeff will be preparing to draft a "shutdown" corner in the top half of the draft. Get ready for 0-3...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Is Brett Farve the New Roger Clemens?

This isn't the first time we've seen star athletes past their prime that refused to go quietly into the night of retirement. Muhammed Ali would probably slap Don King if he could keep his right hand steady for about thirty seconds. Roger Clemens pimped the Houston Astros to the tune of 22 million dollars. He could pick the days he wanted to pitch and he avoided the bulk of spring training. He could fly in off vacation and pitch the next day, promptly leaving for another rendezvous with Mindy Mcready. Sound familiar and ain't life grand?(I'm not suggesting that Farve is having an affair)

The last two years Farve has been able to use "retirement" as the scapegoat for not wanting to attend training camp and OTA's. Farve has been given special treatment throughout his career. John Madden helped to soldify the Brett Farve myth. Farve is known as a "gun slinger" with a strong arm. Some of that is true considering Farve has produced several seasons of throwing 30 or more touchdowns and keeping his interceptions in the mid teens. In 1993, Farve threw for a then career worst 24 interceptions. He's had a few seasons where he's topped twenty plus interceptions. In fact he has done that 6 times out of his 18 year career. He did it last season as well throwing 22 interception against 22 touchdown passes.

In the 2004 season Farve threw 29 interceptions against 20 touchdown passes. Most guys would've been run out of town after that type of season. Most analyst would've called for any other guys head after that type of season. Surprisingly the national media and most fans didn't think so. We gave him a repreive considering some of his stellar seasons in the past that netted him 3 MVP's. At this point in Farve's career, Aaron Rodgers was still waiting in the wings. Luckily for Farve Rodgers wasn't some hot shot coming out of college. Pro scouts loved his skill set but that didn't stop him from sliding in the 2005 draft to 24th overall.

The Packers finally got a chance to catch a glimpse of what Rodgers could do late in the 2007 season against the Cowboys in a Monday night game. Farve responded by valiantly leading the Pack to the NFC championship game, falling short against the Giants by throwing one of his signature interceptions. Since that game we've been allowing Farve to hold us hostage. First in New York and now in Minnesota. We've all been holding on to the glory years of Farve. So we're all partially responsible for this circus that he's been putting us through. Yes, Fran Tarkenton blame us!!!!

Some of his New York Jets teammates didn't necessarily embrace him. All was forgiven while they were winning. But the chickens came home to roost when the Jets lost multiple games down the stretch. Thomas Jones spoke out about how there was trouble in paradise during the 2008 season. Once again Farve's image didn't take that much of a hit. The Jets and Farve went their separate ways. The Jets drafted Mark Sanchez and Farve waltzed off into "retirement". Never mind that he and Brad Childress were still communicating about him playing in Minnesota.

That never happened right? Childress also "closed" the door on Farve possibly playing for them after he failed to show up for the start of training camp. He even promised a an open competition for the job between Rosenfels and Jackson. Did you know that Minnesota Vikings owner Ziggy Wolf owns a private plane? O.J. Simpson and A.C. Cowans were jealous of that entrance that Farve made two weeks ago.

Most Farve apologist cited his rotator cuff injury for Farve's lack luster play down the stretch. Injuries are apart of the game and they're apart of the legend of Brett Farve. Farve has been one of the most durable and toughest quarterbacks to ever play this game.(Some may argue thanks to his bout with painkillers skewed that) If any other quarterback, young or veteran showed this type of lack luster leadership in the locker room, poor performance on the field and cried wolf (pun intended) this much about retirement he'd receive much more criticism than this. Not so for teflon don Farve.

Still don't see the comparison to Clemens? Both decided when they were going to play. Contrary to popular belief, Clemens 22 million for playing part time did cause some stink in the Houston clubhouse. Secondly, Farve is up to his old tricks again in Minnesota. He got ten million from the Jets last year and he's getting another 12.5 mil from the Vikes with an option for another year. There's been some rumblings about a "schisms" that are already happening amongst the rank and file of the Vikings. The players and Farve's rebuttal to the rifts amongst the team is that they all have no idea about what the word means. No wonder people think that most major college programs are football factories.

Sure the Vikings players will give us positive feedback when the cameras are rolling. However lets not be naive here. There has got to be some players that played with Tavarius Jackson last season are pulling for him and think they don't need Farve. They've witnessed his development up close and personal. For what he may lack on the field, he has proven that he is willing to be apart of the group. Secondly Jackson played very well down the stretch of the 2008 season. All he's gotten for his hard work was the drafting of John David shake yo Booty. Coupled with the acquirement of a 3 million a year Sage Rosenfels who is more unproven than he is. He's handled it a lot better than a lot of guys would have. If he pulled a Jay Cutler I wouldn't be mad at him.

Several Jets described Farve as "distant". Sage Rosenfels was brought in to compete with Jackson. Some teammates may feel that Sage is equally capable as Jackson. This segment of the team may have feelings that Rosenfels and Jackson were doing just fine by competing for the job. Plus they were both at all of the OTA's and in training camp. They have both been paying the price with the other guys.

Strangely enough analyst are saying the Farve gives the Minnesota Vikings the best chance to play in the superbowl. Yeah right. Before the 2007 season the Packers had missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The oldest quarterback to lead a team to a Superbowl championship was John Elway at age 38. Steve Deberg, Warren Moon, Vinny Testeverde, Steve Grogan, and Joe Montana are notable names in the superbowl era to have led their teams deep in the playoffs. Elway was largely supported by the dominance of Terrell Davis.

Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe were reliable targets. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian. Berrian had a stellar season last year but can he do it in back to back years? Is Farve willing to accept a reduced amount of passing attempts to feed Peterson the ball? Has his arm fully healed? Is Bobby Wade going to emerge has a dominant slot receiver? Farve is going to be 40 this year. Is he willing to return to the years where he made less mistakes while being supported by work horse backs like Dorsey Levins and Ahman Green? The NFC north isn't going to be a cake walk.

The Bears are better and so are the Packers. The Vikings and Packers will be must see TV twice this season First in Minnesota on October 5th and again on Nov 1st. Farve the wrangler man gets to prove that his game is still as tight as his jeans. We shall see. Strangely enough even after my rant I will be watching.... Ah opinions and Football season.. Doesn't get any better than that!!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is playing in the NFL a right or a privilege?

The recent criminal cases of NFL players has caused American society to reevaluate our celebration of public figures. Michael Vick's recent partial reinstatement to the NFL has sparked a huge debate with a litany of opinions. Donte Stallworth's recent suspension hasn't had the same reaction though it resulted in jail time and a year suspension from football. Some have argued that Stallworth's vehicular homicide of Mario Reyes is much worse than Vick's cruelty to animals.

The underlining theme that caught my attention in both their public statements was that playing in the NFL was a privilege and not a right. That statement in itself is an oxymoron considering some key words that I rediscovered. The Declaration of Independence has a powerful statement in it that I believe is the antithesis of the public sentiment among most media experts and American football fans.

Does the idea of people being endowed by the creator with unalienable rights to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness fall on deaf ears in 21st century America? Or is it more convenient to be inconsistent with deciding who should be the rightful heirs to this sacred promise? The latter is really the pulse of the public fascination with celebrity and privilege. How is it that a guy can kill a human being and get a thirty day sentence while a man kills animals gets only two years?

The answer is the hypocrisy of celebrity and the appearance of justice for all. Justice in America no doubt can be bought. Average citizens would in most cases spend much more time in jail than Stallworth for the same crime that he committed. In a cruel sense of irony, some average citizens that have been convicted of dog fighting like Vick has gotten less time. Honestly, trying to equate our everyday lives with NFL players by questioning their right to be employed by the NFL is not only absurd but its largely dehumanizing. Further evidence to this is how Vick has now become more of a symbol in the cause of animal rights rather than a human being, desperate to reestablish his sense of his humanity while navigating through the mine field of American society.

Everyday people have the same sense of entitlement that they accuse sports stars of having. After all, it is the fan base of major sports that creates the atmosphere for this monster of privilege in the first place. Let's be honest, most sports fans covet the money professional athletes earn. It explains why some people want to see NFL players pay an even steeper price than what they would want to pay themselves if they were in the same position. It also explains why we are fascinated with seeing the "fall from grace" and a subsequent "comeback story".

This sense of entitlement is on display in everyday American life both in civic and public life. How many discrimination lawsuits are on the books from various groups? Why is affirmative action a federal law in this country? Why do some people feel the election of Barack Obama hails the total destruction of "their country"? How is that any different than an NFL player's right to play pro football considering he has met all of the qualifications? Isn't pro sports a little bit more pure in regards to people getting a fair opportunity based on their own merit? Does America resemble sport in that regard? The answer is a resounding NO..

Criminal behavior on any level should not be excused but when a disgraced citizen serves their time then they are automatically restored back into the rat race of pursuing life, liberty and happiness. So the falsehood of playing professional sports isn't a right is but a privilege is complete hogwash. Privilege and the right to pursue a human endeavor are interchangeable. Money, justice, prestige, privilege and celebrity is something that the common sports fan will never understand. We are more likely to have dinner with a martian than gain acceptance into the country club of sports celebrity.

The alienation of the common man from elite status creates the great divide between the sports fan and the athletes we cheer for. In reality, we're just a pawn in the grand scheme of why professional sports exist in the first place. Professional sports leagues will give us the occasional sacrificial lamb to appease public outrage in order to keep the dollars flowing. Plain and simple. Our obsession to witness celebrity athletes have some sort of remorse and contrition is beyond comical. It's actually sick. Some would rather see Vick work in construction than continue his football career which gives credence to this argument.

Football season is upon us which is always our saving grace. The field of struggle is what buys the NFL time from the insanity of managing public persona in the off season. It's the reason why they have to nail the selection of the artist that performs during the halftime show opening weekend. We as American sports fans must separate ourselves from the expectation of sports stars bearing the total responsibility for the pedestal we put them on. In other words, most of us need to get a life. September 10th where are you?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why Louisville didn't Fire Rick Pitino.

Rick Pitino falls in a long line of public figures from all walks of life that fall prey to beautiful women. My problem isn't with the juicy details of the romp in the restaurant. What's so funny is how the public is buying into that he only "slept" with her on one occasion. Sure it may seem wrong to speculate but its highly unlikely that a one time chance encounter has caused the amount of stress in the life of Rick Pitino.

The handwriting was on the wall. Athletic director Tom Jurich, stated that Pitino had been truthful" about the affair. Louisville President, Dr James Ramsey followed up with a statement expressing shock of the recent details surrounding his legendary coach's extortion case. So what we have is a three ring circus that mounts a strong legal team against the wolves of public opinion. Pitino would have us believe that he would drop 3,000 dollars for health insurance for someone he hardly knows. I guess he's in favor for universal health care.

Slick Rick would also have us to believe he's the real victim in this case because he hasn't been brought up on any charges. Sorry but I was born at night and not last night. The press conferences of the A.D. and Dr. Ramsey resembled a classic case of misdirection. It's the academic version of the stop snitching campaign. I'm going to be consistent. I do believe Rick should be fired for his personal indiscretions. It's not like he's Jim Harrick or Todd Bozeman. (As far as we know) However we should make fun of him for not using that million dollar contract to buy some condoms.

Plus he needs to start listening to hip hop to learn how to lie a little better. Its absurd that he would have the public believe that he had just laid eyes on her the first time that night.

What I find ironic is that sexual assault cases involving high profile public figures take on a different angle in the court of public opinion. Some people like their heroes "perfect" and unblemished. While others empathize with scandalous behavior considering they don't TMZ cameras trying to capture a Mike Price moment. Steve McNair's untimely death reminded us just how fragile hero worship really is. WE only know our sport heroes for what they do on the field battle.

The harsh reality is that some national sports columnist felt compelled to discredit McNair's charity work due to his infidelity. Strangely enough these same columnist didn't have the same indignation for a man who clearly has the same issues while he yet lives. The University of Louisville aren't that embarrassed considering Pitino had just led them to another 30 win season. Louisville enjoyed a season where they dominated the Big East, made a deep run in the NCAA tournament and had two players get drafted in the first round in the NBA draft.

WE don't fire those type of guys in America. The more wins and autographed copies of their books they give us the more likely we are to turn a blind eye when they behave badly. We actually demand players transfer if they get caught humping in the student center. Of course he's not the starting tailback either. What do we do about a successful coach that could probably make a gubernatorial run after his coaching days? Let him pass. George O'Leary can lie on his resume and get another job but a player can get kicked out of BYU just for going a little to far with a coed. Ah the sweet taste of hypocrisy. Guys like Gary Barnett and Rick Neuheisel can lose their jobs at the college level not for scandal but for not winning enough games to keep that postseason revenue coming in.

Larry Eustachy feels me if you don't. Tic Price, former Memphis Coach may want to chime in too. Winning cures adulterous casual sex like penicillin does for most STD's. (Just so you know I wouldn't know anything about that)

Pitino knew that coming forward in early July would help to cement some of his reputation. Consider it damage control at this stage because now his public persona is at stake. The civil case was brilliant considering that his would be baby mama didn't put a gun to his head to extort him. Maybe a boob and some fish nets but never a 357 magnum. That would've been to messy. We may never know how she got him to keep quiet about her alleged extortion for a period of six years. However it's not so hard to believe that he devised an escape plan better than most dishonest CEO's.

Coaches plot their escape for greener pastures all of the time. Memphis can definitely attest to that. Calipari sold them down the river by convincing R.C. Buford that the firestorm of academic fraud would blow over after the season. 3 months later he's holding a press conference reminiscent of Jimmy Swaggart's confession of loving Jesus more than the ladies of the evening. Jurich and Dr. Ramsey now have something to hold over Pitino's head. Can you imagine the guilt trip they'll lay on him if any other school comes knocking? They will play the tape of their three stooges impression that diverted the public firestorm from the University and most noteably him. As long as he continues to be competitive in the Big East, contends for a national championship and slaps Calipari around every year on the court and in recruiting, he can bang girls in the locker room like Magic used to do.

Winning is the core reason why public sports figures are allowed to get away with things that average citizens never will get away with. That's the real reason why the Louisville administration is standing behind Pitino. Nothing more and nothing less.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The truth about the bias of the sports fan and the return of Michael Vick

I've racked my brain trying to figure out the connection that some dog lovers have with seeing Michael Vick suffer. Some hardcore realities have set in considering the times that we know live in. First, lets establish that Vick made his own bed. Lets also remember that the guy virtually threw away 130 million dollars. He's lost all of his endorsement and will make peanuts in comparison to what his original contract was.

He lied to his employers about the pending charges, spurning an opportunity to tell the truth when asked. But now that he's out of prison what does that have to do with him picking up the pieces to his life? As a resident of the south, I've always heard that this region was the "bible belt".

Some belt. It's not made out of the genuine leather that most belts have in scripted on the inside. (Let that marinate a little) One of the key lessons that seems to be a recurring theme in the bible, is the notion of "redemption" and "forgiveness". We rarely apply that to public figures because we "worship" them so. Guys like Ray Lewis went through fraternity hazing just to repair his image. He benefited from playing in the league when Paul Tagliabue was the commissioner. But to "Ray Ray's" credit he took responsibility for his actions, virtually making most people forget that horrible incident during Superbowl 34. The dynamic of the position plays a huge role in comparison to Lewis being a linebacker and Vick playing Quarterback. But should that really make much of a difference? NO

Here's the three biggest reason why sports fans are biased in their support for players getting second chances.

1. People support who they Identify with. Michael Vick never really appealed to the "average" sports fan.

On April 21st 2001, Michael Vick got drafted number one overall, ushering in a fear that most people will never admit. Some of Atlanta's fan base was uncomfortable day one with the "image" of Michael Vick. At the time he sported "corn rows", baggy clothes, and an entourage that would make HBO blush. That's why many people in Atlanta loved him. Let's face it that's why some people hated him at hello too. Of course he became a star but to the chagrin of most who wanted to see him fail. Sure we appreciated some of his dazzling exploits on the field but deep down inside we all had an idea that it was only a matter of time before the chickens would home to roost. Maybe you're wondering about this fear that I mentioned.

Mike Vick was hailed as one of the quarterbacks that would finally make the "hybrid" quarterback the norm of the NFL. Most people will never admit it but virtually all of the skill positions on both sides of the ball are dominated by blacks. The quarterback position has been the unspoken holy grail since the leagues inception. Honestly that applies for all levels of the game throughout its history. Sure that sounds like complete hogwash to some but to others that know the under belly of hate in America very well, WE know its true.

2. Feel good comeback stories are only for guys who pass the smell test of "image".

Who can forget the alcoholism of Brett Farve and Kerry Collins?(Actually most people have) Brett Farve is a God to some in the south because he's a good ole country boy. He wears tight wranglers, farms, chews tobacco and loves country music. He's a tough guy that fits the mold of the macho man (not randy savage) who has "survived" life's biggest challenges. The people who "identify" with Farve the most, rarely speak about his past addiction to pain killers and his intense love for booze. Some Farve fans are Rush Limbaugh fans also. They to closely "identify" with Limbaugh. They still faithfully listen to good ole Rush. They didn't bat an eye or turn their radio station when the news came out about his drug abuse. In fact the guy is more popular than ever. See the connection? Sure you do but you'll ignore because you're biased.

Kerry Collins found redemption after being a horrible teammate. He once called one of his teammates a "nigger" and even showed up drunk in a fur coat to the airport before a road game. Kerry's career eventually recovered. He led the 2000 Giants to the Superbowl. After stints with the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints, Collins rebounded yet again, leading the 2008 Tennessee Titans to the playoffs. Not bad for a guy who's had such dark days in his career. A change a scenery and being in a place where people "identify" with you helps out a lot.

Collins is Brett Farve 2.0 in Nashville. I know what you're thinking. Steve McNair was a country boy and we loved him too. Charlie Pride is country singer but most country fans love Hank Williams Jr. more. Just like I love MC Hammer more than Vanilla Ice. For the record, McNair would've never worn tight wrangler Jeans and a cowboy hat. Tight Jeans and hip hop culture don't mix remember. Vick may have a better chance in an NFL city that is desperate for something good to happen and "identifies" with him too. Those cities are San Fransisco, Washington, D.C. Seattle, and Houston.

3. If Michael Vick didn't personally kill or fight our dogs then why are we really that upset? Could it be we're just like him?

Think about it. Most people who are in support of additional suspension time are claiming to be righteous people who believe in "following the rules". In the real world convicted felons don't have to show contrition to an employer. It's an uphill battle for convicts to prove to employers that they've changed but at least they don't have to sit down with the CEO and show "contrition". Contrition should be shown by action and not press conferences. Regular joe blow ex convicts don't get press conferences or baby kissing moments. Sure rich athletes get way with murder(literally) but in Vick's case it was dogs, Not people.

We're no better than his crimes if we take personal satisfaction at seeing him suffer further humiliation and punishment. Sure you don't have children and your pets are your loved ones. I get it but that's a little weird in my book. Criminal behavior in the NFL isn't good P.R. but it is overblown. Out of 1700 NFL players, less than 2% of them get in any real legal trouble. So is it fair to judge the league on 2% percent of the bad while casting aside the majority of the league? Sure let's be cynical for a moment. Some of them may not get caught but can we say the same thing about sports fans who live double lives that might be worthy of jail time. How many drunk people leave NFL stadiums all across the country drunker than Cootey Brown on most Sundays? (Never met Cootey he's Hootie's cousin)

My issue with the decision to suspend Vick is with Goodell's treatment of Spygate. There was enough evidence to suspend Bill Belichick but it didn't happen because the evidence was destroyed. That was straight from the Richard Nixon playbook. Spygate was a case of Goodell abusing executive privilege while protecting his reputation as a no nonsense business "professional" to the public.

Since most of us are sheep we will never make that connection due to our affinity for taking pleasure in seeing certain people "get what they deserve" while executives get a slap on the wrist. The Patriots organization embodied that slap on the wrist. Donte Stallworth, Mike Vick, Matt Jones, Chris Henry, and Tank Johnson were dealt with accordingly but the Patriots got off. That's a microcosm of the morons that defend certain side effects of bad free market capitalism. Is it football season yet?