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'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.