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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did a rare thing earlier this month — so rare it’s hardly ever been done since the 1200s BC. In cracking down on Ravens running back Ray Rice for a savage act of domestic abuse, Goodell (begrudgingly, after getting backed against the wall by public outcry) plunked for morals over talent. That, as the ancient Greeks knew from reading the war stories of their cultural icon, Homer, is easier said than done.
It shouldn’t have been a hard choice. Rice seems to have been caught dead to rights on camera, beating his fiancée senseless in a public place. Even the snippet of the video that’s been publicly released by TMZ is difficult to watch: with the casual unconcern of a man used to being treated like a demigod, Rice drags the unconscious woman out of an elevator like a rag doll. He takes his time, as if daring anyone to stop him.
Worst of all, no one did stop him. Rice was right to assume that starting running backs with Super Bowl rings and solid rushing averages can do what they want and get away with it. Rice is a star; he sells seats. So for an offense that may put him behind bars, the league suspended that naughty, naughty boy for two whole games. It looked like Rice was in line to join the ever-growing complement of suspected criminals and potential felons to be slapped gently on the wrist before returning to their adoring fans and multi-million-dollar contracts. Ray Lewis, Leonard Little, Andre Smith — the list goes on.
We’ve already seen a huge upset when the Johnny Football-less Texas A&M Aggies destroyed the ninth-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks. What else can college football fans look forward to this weekend?
1. The College Football Playoff System Goes Into Effect
It’s a new era. Goodbye BCS; hello CFP. College football fans have been begging for a playoff system for years, and it’s finally here.
2. Florida State Seminoles Go Head to Head with Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Cowboy Classic
Will the defending national championship team show up to prove that they are “True Champions” in this College Gameday featured game? The Seminoles lost some of the key members from the championship team, including Kelvin Benjamin, the 6’5 wide receiver who caught the game-winning pass from Heisman winning quarterback Jameis Winston to beat the Auburn Tigers in the last seconds of the national championship game.
3. Will Ohio State’s Backup QB Handle the Pressure?
Braxton Miller, Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, is out for the year because of a torn labrum. The backup QB will start, but what does this mean for Ohio State’s chances of a slot in the new College Football Playoffs? We’ll see how the team is shaping up as the Buckeyes go up against Navy this Saturday at Noon Eastern.
4. Who will secure the starting quarterback spot at Alabama?
Heisman nominee AJ McCarron graduated and moved on to the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team. Blake Sims has been named the starter for this weekend’s game against the West Virginia Mountaineers, but it’s still considered an “open audition” as former FSU backup quarterback Jacob Coker is expected to play.
5. Maryland, Rutgers, and Louisville Debut in New Conferences
Maryland and Rutgers are ready to play in the Big 10, with Maryland moving from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Rutgers switching from The American. Louisville also left The American to join the ACC.
A few months ago, I brought you the story of Chris Conley, a football star at the University of Georgia (my alma mater – Go Dawgs!) who was putting together a Star Wars fan film. The finished product, entitled Star Wars: Retribution, is set to make its debut July 5. Here are the trailers:
Conley’s production company will soon begin work on a new film, Volition, soon.
Dejan Kovacevic has this poetic and wonderful piece at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on the passing of Chuck Noll, the greatest NFL coach, ever.
Noll won not just by being the greatest coach in football history, with all due nods to Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Don Shula, Bill Belichick and all others whose ring count is lower than four. He did so by being the quintessential Pittsburgher.
But Kovacevic’s piece isn’t about comparing the greatness of NFL coaches against each other. It’s about describing the greatness of a man, an introspective, brilliant and understated man who saved a city.
Saved a city?
If you don’t see a correlation there, chances are excellent you don’t have first-hand familiarity with what truly made those Steelers of the 1970s so Super.
It was a terrible time. The steel mills that employed nearly half the city were closing en masse. The surrounding businesses were failing with them. Pittsburghers were out of work, out of luck and, soon, out of town: From 1970-80, the city’s population was slashed by 96,179, per the U.S. Census. Almost 20 percent! Some fled for the D.C. area and government jobs, others for new economies in the South and West, others just for sanity’s sake.
We were Beirut without the bombs, Chernobyl without the radiation. . . . This was just how it was going to be, they’d say. Pittsburgh had its time. Now that was done.
Crazy thing would happen every Sunday during football season, though.
Yeah, on those days, all was well. Because Pittsburgh ruled.
Kovacevic is right. On Sundays during football season, a city stopped and witnessed an amazing run of four Super Bowls in just six seasons – a feat that no team is ever likely to match again. It wasn’t just that the Steelers had a swarm of Hall of Famers starting – Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, the ferocious headhunter Jack Lambert, Mel Blount and Joe Green – and more. They also had a coach who was unlike any other. They had a coach who tapped the best in players and called them to find the purpose of their life, even if it wasn’t football.
5. Draft Day (2014)
It’s currently at 57 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s not highly rated. But it is highly amazing that anyone at all liked this football-illiterate soap about a Cleveland Browns general manager (a sullen-looking Kevin Costner) simultaneously having girlfriend problems (with Jennifer Garner, who plays his team’s salary-cap guru), dead-dad problems and personnel problems on the biggest day of year for general managers.
Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) trades three first-round draft picks at the annual NFL draft of top college prospects in order to move up six spots and select the hottest college quarterback in years. But then he worries he’s made the wrong decision because of a rumor that none of the jock’s teammates attended his twenty-first birthday party. Also he gets jittery because of a game in which the QB got sacked four times, though even a non-expert looking at the tape can see how the sacks were entirely the fault of poor blocking by the offensive line, not the quarterback.
In short, no one who knows anything about football can take this film seriously, and the romance between Costner’s character and Garner, is flat and tepid. Their arc? They’re having difficulties because he’s not very nice to her. But then he decides to be nice. The end.
The NFL has never seen anything like it. There has been a frenzy of free agent signings since the window opened Tuesday afternoon. That first 24 hours saw 64 players sign contracts worth more than a billion dollars. And that was only the beginning.
There are still some big names out there, but so far, most of the top players have inked their deals and pocketed their fortunes.
The most active team appears to be last year’s Super Bowl losers, the Denver Broncos. They bolstered their defensive backfield by signing safeties T.J. Ward from Cleveland and Aqib Talib from New England. Then they hit the jackpot by signing sackmeister DeMarcus Ware from Dallas. Ware may not be in his prime, but there’s still plenty in the tank.
As far as which position players have been in demand, offensive linemen have been a popular choice:
Branden Albert, Eugene Monroe, Jared Veldheer and Rodger Saffold all signed big contracts shortly after free agency started. (And if you don’t know where they went, just go here. I’m tired.) Zane Beadles was the first guard to go, landing in Jacksonville. Our friend Evan Silva noted that Saffold got a better contract from the Raiders than Jake Longgot from the Rams a year ago. Yikes.
Veldheer was my favorite value of the bunch, upgrading an awful left tackle situation in Arizona. Saffold looked like the most overpaid player in all of free agency by Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie. That was until the Raiders gave New York Jets right tackle Austin Howard $15 million guaranteed on a $30 million contract after midnight.
There are still some D-line studs available, including former Pro-Bowler Julius Peppers who was released by the Bears, and Minnesota’s unrestricted free agent Jared Allen. Both players are getting a little long in the tooth but should have two or three productive years left in them.
Another name rumored to be let go that should draw monster interest is Carolina’s WR Steve Smith. The diminutive wideout is versatile, being able to line up in the slot, or outside, and has superior hands. With Baltimore re-upping Jacoby Jones and Detroit grabbing Seattle’s Golden Tate, the rest of the receiver market is pretty thin. Green Bay’s speedster James Jones expects to find a home, perhaps with Indianapolis. And New England’s Julian Edelman, coming off a 105 catch year, should command a lot of attention.
As for running backs, Vic Tafur of the Raiders blog, tweets all you need to know:
Only $100,000 of Darren McFadden’s deal with #Raiders is guaranteed … Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be running backs
Not much action involving quarterbacks either. San Francisco traded a 6th round pick for Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert. And Chicago back up QB Josh McCown, who performed well when Jake Cutler went down for several games last year, has landed in Tampa Bay. Manwhile, Cleveland — a place quarterbacks go to die — released two quarterbacks in 34 minutes. The Browns have parted ways with Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, the team announced. They join a long, non-illustrious list of failed QB’s since 1999: Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Tim Couch, Colt McCoy — damaged goods and with confidence destroyed.
One other bizarre move; the Bucs have released Darrelle Revis, the 4 time pro-bowl cover cornerback who they traded for just last season. After sending a first-round pick in 2013 and a fourth-rounder this year to New York for him, Revis, coming off a severe knee injury, had a mediocre season. He won’t get the $16 million a year he was making with the Bucs, but he’s far too talented to not land a sweet deal somewhere.
The NCAA Rules Committee has decided to table a motion that would have required college football offenses to wait 10 seconds between plays. The recent move by some coaches toward super-hurry up offenses had some schools claiming that the increase in the number of plays put players at risk for injury.
The real problem was that some coaches couldn’t figure out how to consistently stop those light speed offenses and wanted a respite. Some teams like Oregon snap the ball so quickly, it is impossible for the defense to make substitutions — extra defensive backs for passing downs, for example. The speed of the game also puts enormous pressure on defenses to make the right call and get players in the right position. More often than not, the ball is snapped, the defense isn’t ready, and gaping holes open up for running backs, while receivers run to daylight.
But some powerful coaches didn’t like going up against these offenses and wanted to change the rules. Some coaches were referring to the proposed rule change as the “Saban Rule,” after Alabama’s hugely successful coach Nick Saban, who has been a strong critic of the hurry up, or “spread” offense, saying that it’s “logical” that the more plays there are, the better chance for injury there is. Most coaches — whether they run the up tempo offense or not — believe that’s nonsense, pointing to the lack of evidence for any such contention:
Coaches opposed to the proposal suggested other possible motives, including a philosophical divide over how football should be played. They noted the participation of Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and Alabama’s Nick Saban – who have both been vocal about the trend toward ever-faster pace – in the rules committee discussions before the proposal was initially approved.
At the time the proposal was announced, Sumlin called it “an attempt to limit the creativity of the game.” South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier called it “the Saban Rule”, suggesting his counterpart was simply attempting to advance his own aims.
Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez called the rule “ridiculous”, saying: “It’s a fundamental rule of football that the offense has two advantages: knowing where they’re going and when they’re going. The defense has one advantage: they can move all 11 guys before the snap.
“What’s next, are you gonna go to three downs rather than four downs? It’s silly.”
The debate devolved in that direction, too.
On Monday, Arizona’s official Twitter account released a video parody of the movie “Speed,” in which Rodriguez said, “I think there’s some coaches that have a hidden agenda. … They’re holding college football for ransom. … People want to see action. They don’t want to see huddles, people holding hands and singing kumbaya.”
In a text message, Rodriguez told USA TODAY Sports the video “might be a little over the top but it only took an hour of my time!”
Last week, Saban told reporters, “I don’t necessarily have an opinion on the 10-second rule.” But he added his primary concern was safety and reiterated a question he had asked before: “Was football intended to be a continuous game?”
It is well and good that the NCAA has developed rules to protect players. One proposed rule change would adopt the NFL’s “Brady Rule” to prevent quarterbacks from being hit below the knee. That’s a likely rules change that will occur next year.
But in a game where a player’s season or even career can end on the next play, does Saban have a point?
“The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there’s no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic,” Saban told ESPN. “What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.’”
It is doubtful that any meaningful study will “prove” that running the spread offense is necessarily more dangerous than a normal offense. You’re going to have to prove that the specific style of play contributed to the injury. Otherwise, who’s to say that if the team had been running a normal offense, the injury wouldn’t have occurred anyway?
I say, let ‘em play. Eventually, some smart defensive coach will simplify things to the point where defenses will be able to stop the up tempo offense on a regular basis. That’s the way its been with every offensive innovation that’s come down the pike. From the forward pass, to the “T” formation, the swing wing, the wishbone — eventually, defenses were developed to counter all those formations and plays.
Coach Saban would do well to concentrate on finding a way to stop the spread offense on the field rather than in the rules committee.
1. The players were puppies.
2. There was no crying in the stands after plays
3. Kittens! (one even used a parachute)
4. You didn’t cringe after the ball was snapped…
5. You stayed awake.
Dear Mr. Mills,
I thought you might appreciate some feedback regarding your recent trespass into MetLife Stadium during the Super Bowl. You went to a lot of trouble, lying your way past several layers of security before gaining access to a televised post-game interview where you seized the microphone and called upon the audience to “investigate 9/11.” The least I can do is offer this brief response.
Of course, if I really wanted to do your effort justice, I would have to trespass into your home as you trespassed into the homes of tens of millions through the magic of television and impose my views upon you without your consent. Be that as it may, I trust you will choose to consider my opinion without me shoving it down your throat.
I just wanted to let you know what we normals took away from your brief bleating about our government killing thousands of its own citizens on September 11, 2001. If that claim were not ludicrous on its face, having it shouted rudely in the middle of a post-game interview may have caused some to doubt its veracity.
Here’s the thing, Matt. If you expect anyone to believe that “truth” motivates your actions, you may want to conduct yourself truthfully. Lying to law enforcement and security personnel to gain unauthorized access to a platform you do not own does not imbue your message with credibility.
I know you think the end justifies the means, and that the importance of your message justifies any action taken to propagate it. But you’re wrong. We have free speech in this country. That does not entitle you to a venue or an audience. We also have free association, which means individuals get to choose to whom they listen. When you jumped in front of the camera and seized the microphone for those few seconds, you trampled on the free-association right of tens of millions of people. It wasn’t just rude, though it was surely that. It was a violation, a trespass, and probably a crime.
Before you or your buddies in the “truther” movement try a similar stunt in the future, realize that your message has gotten out just fine without rights-violating tactics. It’s not that we’re not hearing it. We’re just not buying it. Factor that truth into your paradigm.
A group called American Atheists is sponsoring a digital billboard near MetLife Stadium targeted at Super Bowl attendees. Six times each hour through Super Bowl Sunday the billboard will proclaim, “A ‘Hail Mary’ Only Works in Football. Enjoy the Game!”
“Prayer is superstition, plain and simple,” says American Atheists President David Silverman.
It trivializes the dedication of the players and takes away from their achievements. A third of football fans pray in hopes of helping their team. These are adults we’re talking about—people with children, people with careers, people who vote. It’s 2014; it’s time to stop believing that prayer works. Give credit where credit is due and celebrate what this is really about—coming together to cheer on hard-working athletes doing what they do best.
On Fox News’ The Five on Friday, Greg Gutfeld seemed to agree. ”If prayer actually works in a game no one would ever lose,” Gutfeld said. He added, “I don’t believe God designed the world on who’s the best pray-er.”
On the surface, Gutfeld and the atheists have a point. Several years ago when my son was playing football for a Christian school, the teams would huddle together before the games for a short prayer. As the team’s captain, Ryan was often called upon to lead the prayer, along with the captain of the opposing team. He admitted at one point that it didn’t seem right for both teams to pray to win and he thought it was especially awkward to pray for a win in the presence of the other team. They were, after all, asking God to bestow his favor upon one Christian team and not the other. How would God ever choose? Would he pick the team with the “best” Christians? The most fervent pray-ers? Or does God not bother with such trivial things as the outcomes of football games?
In the end, my son decided that he would pray for all the players to do their best and that God would protect them. He also prayed that he and the other boys would demonstrate Christ-like attitudes on the field and that they would honor God in the way they played the game. He would leave the outcome up to God and then play to win.
So does God care who wins the Super Bowl or the curling competition at the Winter Olympics or your family’s Monopoly game? Two of God’s attributes, his omniscience and his sovereignty, as described in the Bible, help to explain God’s view of matters that may seem trivial upon first glance.
“We’re talking about football here, and a lot of people took it further than football,” Sherman said. “I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected and immature, but this is a football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes and doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game.” — Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
Our family’s first foray into youth sports didn’t go quite as planned. The female coach who had volunteered to coach our son’s T-ball team told the children on the first day that the players who didn’t get dirty would get candy at the end of the game. A few parents took this well-meaning (but misguided) mother aside and explained to her a few things about the nature of boys and something about the physical properties of baseball and dirt and informed her that their sons would not be participating in her little “clean game” nonsense. This was our introduction to the ubiquitous drama that permeates youth sports leagues.
My husband and I spent a lot of years coaching youth sports as our sons grew up — baseball, soccer, basketball — mostly because we were the only parents who didn’t drop-and-run. We weren’t savvy enough in the early years to realize that you are by default the U4 soccer coach if you’re the only parent left on the field five minutes after practice is scheduled to begin (other parents, making a beeline to the parking lot, shouted to us, “The whistle and cones are in the blue crate! We’ll see you in an hour. Good luck!”)
We always believed it was important for our boys to participate in team sports, not only for physical fitness reasons, but because they were of the male gender and we thought that participating in sports would be a good way for them to learn to control and channel the aggression that is inherent to their maleness.
My first post for PJ Lifestyle nearly two and a half years ago dealt with the nanny state mentality in the league office of the NFL. Back then, I wrote about the ideas that stem from Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office that don’t always sit well with players and/or fans. This week, in an interview with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, Goodell mentioned an idea that is sure to generate controversy: getting rid of the extra point.
“The extra point is almost automatic,” Goodell said. “I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd (attempts). So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.
Extra points — with a 99.1 percent success rate since 2004 — have become an afterthought. Unless you’re up against Lawrence Taylor in Tecmo Bowl, there’s virtually zero drama attached to the point after.
Goodell has an ally in New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who has argued for abolishing the extra point for years:
I would be in favor of not seeing [extra points] be an over 99 percent conversion rate. It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players. It was a lot harder for them to do… I don’t think that’s really a very exciting play because it’s so automatic.
Now, I know what some football fans are asking: what about two point conversions? Goodell brings them up:
“There’s one proposal in particular that I’ve heard about,” Goodell went on. “It’s automatic that you get seven points when you score a touchdown, but you could potentially go for an eighth point, either by running or passing the ball, so if you fail, you go back to six.”
With a two-point conversion success rate of 47.9%, it’s an interesting perspective. But what do kickers think? My friend Rex Robinson, former New England Patriots (and University of Georgia) kicker, weighed in on Facebook:
I would move the PAT back 10 yards before I eliminated it…it is a gimme play now-a-days.
What do you think? Should the NFL eliminate the extra point attempt? Should teams get a choice of an automatic seven point touchdown or “going for two” and risking losing a point? Should the league make the PAT more challenging? Share your opinion in the comments section below.
Are you ready for some football? Who isn’t? (Or as Saints fans are screaming now, who dat?) Seattle’s getting ready for an earthquake, and the cameras are getting ready for Tom Brady. San Francisco’s prepping for a much warmer game than last week, and the Chargers are aiming for a mile-high upset.
Today, 4:35 p.m. on Fox: New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Today, 8:15 p.m. on CBS: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. on Fox: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. on CBS: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Here’s how the guys at ESPN are feeling going into this playoff round:
Here’s how Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, budget BFFs, feel going into this round:
And, naturally, here’s how I feel (#QuestForSix):
That’s an Instagram of San Francisco 49ers quaterback Colin Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette (formerly of the 49ers practice squad) hitting the range in the offseason.
Yesterday, as Wisconsites crowed that the frigid temperatures and the not-at-all-green field in Green Bay would be too much for the California team, Kaepernick hit his target. He played without any sleeves under his jersey and led the team to a 23-20 victory in the first round of the NFL playoffs. The game was sealed in the final seconds on a 33-yard field goal from veteran kicker Phil Dawson, acquired last year from the Cleveland Browns.
The Wild Card round this weekend certainly had its nailbiters and surprises, with the Indiana Colts edging the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 and the New Orleans Saints topping the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24. The San Diego Chargers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10.
Next weekend the playoffs head to the divisional round. The first game on Saturday is the Saints and Seahawks, followed by the New England Patriots and the Colts. On Sunday, the Niners play the Carolina Panthers and the Chargers face off with the Denver Broncos.
As a longtime 49ers fan back to my childhood and the Joe Montana era, I’m pretty partial to this assessment by ESPN NFL writer Kevin Seifert:
The 49ers are the best team in football, and if they continue to play the way they did Sunday, they will win Super Bowl XLVIII next month.
Their offense is poised to outscore the Carolina Panthers next weekend in the NFC divisional round. Their defense is a good matchup for the Seattle Seahawks, their likely opponent in the NFC Championship Game. They’re tougher than the Denver Broncos and more versatile than the New England Patriots.
I don’t regard this prediction as particularly bold, at least not to an audience that has paid attention to the NFL over the past two months. Sunday marked the 49ers’ seventh consecutive victory and their 12th in the past 14 games. Their two losses during that period came against two playoff teams (the Panthers and Saints) by a total of four points.
…I realize that a 20-point victory Sunday might have filled the 49ers bandwagon more quickly, but to me a championship-caliber team is measured best when it faces adverse conditions. No one cruises to the Super Bowl title. At some point, you must overcome circumstances that would otherwise sink you.
You know where my fidelity is at. It was a tough season last time around when my Niners made it to the Super Bowl and my Fighting Irish made it to the BCS championship and both lost. Now it’s all about the Quest for Six — and, today, the many Packers fans here in D.C. (yep, there are a lot of them in the nation’s capital) who hate me. Share your thoughts about where you think the race to the Vince Lombardi Trophy is headed.
On Saturdays in the fall, Chris Conley puts on a uniform and goes into battle, where his legs and arms serve as weapons. The wide receiver at the University of Georgia will finish up his junior season on January 1 at the Gator Bowl, but once the season ends, Conley will don a different uniform and brandish a different type of weapon. He is organizing a light saber duel for friends at UGA to film:
Other than his No. 31 jersey he wears for the Georgia football team, the junior receiver has a Star Wars Jedi costume he will break out on special occasions. Like when he wore it to the Gym Dogs’ meet against Alabama on Feb. 2.
“It was pretty epic,” Conley said. “I was dressed as a Jedi and we had two Storm Troopers.” But he is hoping it’ll come in handy again sometime soon.
Conley is trying to organize lightsaber duels on UGA’s campus with other fellow Star Wars fanatics. His campaign to get production of the fan film going began on Twitter.
“I’ve actually had a lot of response,” Conley said. “A lot of people really want to do this. It’s something I’m kind of spearheading. It’s been a goal of mine before I graduate. This is just for me, just for fun. All of the people who are involved like that sort of thing and we accept our nerdiness.”
Conley began tapping into all of his possible resources. He recruited a Georgia football videographer — Frank Martin, who has overseen the production of the Bulldogs’ pregame hype videos, such as A Letter for Larry and Awaken The Nation — has been out shopping for props to build lightsabers and has continued to build his production team.
Conley doesn’t yet have a timeline for his project, but he and Martin are scouting locations, designing props, and recruiting participants.
The Bulldog star admits to being a fan of the Star Wars franchise since he was a kid – along with the rest of his family – and he freely admits his geekdom:
“My brother and I got into the games and into the some of the Star Wars history outside of the movies and I’ve just been a fan of it ever since,” Conley said. “I’ve been a big guy who prides myself on remaining who I am regardless of who I’m around or how old I get. It’s something that I like and regardless of what people tell me, if it’s frowned upon or not. It’s me.”
Cade Foster had a rough night on November 30. The place kicker for the Alabama Crimson Tide missed two field goals in their game against in-state rival Auburn, while the Tigers blocked another of Foster’s kicks. Auburn cornerback Chris Davis actually returned the last missed field goal 109 yards for a fluke, game-winning touchdown.
Some Alabama fans displayed a complete lack of class, sending hateful tweets and even death threats to the senior kicker. However, just a few days after the game, Foster received a letter of encouragement from someone unexpected:
Now he has the support of a former president.
Foster showed off this note from George W. Bush on his Instagram account Wednesday.
The note says: “Dear Cade (#43), Life has its setbacks. I know! However you will be a stronger human with time. I wish you all the best- Sincerely- another 43 George Bush.”
Foster said he will definitely frame this keepsake.
If a surprise letter from a former president (and true class act) doesn’t lift Foster’s spirits, nothing will.
PHILADELPHIA (CBSDC) — The Washington Redskins team bus was apparently egged on the way to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Sunday morning.
Defensive lineman Chris Baker posted a photo of the egg smeared side of the vehicle on Instagram.
Hate: It’s what’s for breakfast.
I just wrote about the brewing scandal involving the Miami Dolphins and the alleged bullying of offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. Apparently, the situation contains further wrinkles that we’re just learning today. The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel has reported that Dolphins coaches told teammate Richie Incognito to toughen Martin up, though Incognito may have taken the instruction too far:
Sources say that communication took place when Martin skipped two days of the team’s OTA program, and Incognito was encouraged by his coaches to make a call that would “get him into the fold,” one source said.
Even though OTA workouts are voluntary, the NFL culture forces coaches to strong arm the team’s leaders to make sure everyone attends. Sources say Incognito was doing his job, but they admit he crossed the line.
Incognito spoke out to the press for the first time this week, telling a local reporter, ”You know what, I’m just trying to weather the storm right now… this will pass.”
Other Dolphins players, though supportive of Martin, say he should have spoken out sooner.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe indicated that Martin should have come to the leadership council with his problems, which apparently carried over to his second season. The problem is Incognito was also on the leadership council, and possessed a tremendous amount of power and influence.
That might explain why Martin hid his issues with Incognito, and on occasion hung around with him in South Florida, and during road trips. It is possible Martin felt he had to do so to feel accepted.
Martin remains on the team’s 53-man roster, and his teammates have indicated that they would welcome him back when he is ready to return.
Football fans love drama. The back and forth of close games, the thrill of a come-from-behind victory, the outsized personalities — all of these make for plenty of excitement in the NFL. However, one team is making headlines for its off-the-field drama far more than for its on-the-field antics these days. The Miami Dolphins have suddenly found themselves embroiled in a controversy involving player hazing, bullying, and harassment, with the added twist of apparent racism.
The soap opera began last week when second -ear offensive tackle Jonathan Martin took a leave of absence from the team, claiming other players bullied him.
Martin left Dolphins headquarters on Monday when finally reaching his limit with the persistent bullying and teasing from some teammates that has plagued him since joining Miami as a 2012 second-round draft choice. As first reported by FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer, the latest taunt – a group of players stood up and left when he tried joining them for lunch – led to Martin getting up himself and walking out the door.
There is no timetable for a return, which could lead Miami to ultimately place him on the reserve/non-football injury list. It also raises questions about his future with the franchise.
This wasn’t an abrupt action by Martin, who is Stanford-educated and the son of two lawyers who attended Harvard University. A source said Martin has tried dealing with a slew of indignities that crossed into personal and family insults, including being bestowed with the nickname of “Big Weirdo.”
The Rittman Indians have been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. A poem read in class by disgruntled Indians football player Nick Andre – an ill-conceived English assignment — lambasted the head coach, his teammates, and the team’s losing record and sloppy play. When the 16-year-old Ohio player was suspended and kicked off the team for what the school principal called “hazing and harassment,” the story went viral, even making the national news. After serving part of his 4-day suspension, Andre was allowed back on the team, but not before the head coach resigned in the wake of the controversy. Suffice it to say that it’s been a bad year for the Indians with little hope of redeeming the season.
But with the help of coaches from the Waynedale Golden Bears and the officials, the Indians season ended on an remarkably positive note on Friday. The Daily Record’s Aaron Dorksen reported:
Coaches on the Rittman and Waynedale sidelines were both thinking the same thing in the final minutes of what would turn out to be a 49-6 Golden Bears’ win Friday: “Let’s let ‘Big Mike’ score a touchdown.”
The players and even game officials all got in on it, too.
So with less than a minute left in the season finale for both teams, the spotlight and the football were given to Rittman senior Michael Halliwell, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder with autism who was seeing his first varsity action of the year on that drive.
For the first few plays, Halliwell had lined up at left tackle and the PA announcer congratulated him for a good block.
Indians coach Lane Knore used his final timeout to set up a handoff from quarterback Matt Evans to Halliwell, who ran it 31 yards with 22 seconds left for the most heart-warming touchdown anyone in Indians Stadium is likely to ever see. A Rittman assistant had run over to Waynedale’s sideline just prior to the play to ask Bears coach Matt Zuercher and his staff if it would be OK, to which Zuercher responded, “We were already thinking the same thing.”
Waynedale’s coaches, including defensive coordinator, Todd Barkan, who is a special education teacher, had taken the players to a local children’s home earlier in the week to perform community service. “We talked about giving back and helping others, but who knew we’d be able to do something like that in our game Friday? It was a special night for our team to be a part of, too,” Coach Zuercher told the Daily Record.
Mike’s father, Allen Halliwell, told the Daily Record that to “Big Mike” the touchdown was real. “He ran as fast as he ever has, all 6-5, 300 pounds of him clutching the ball with two hands until teammates mobbed him in the end zone.” He said the Golden Bears congratulated him as well. ”Mike is proud to be a Rittman Indian,” Allen Halliwell said. “He knows he’s part of something bigger than himself.”
“I finally got to do something I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little boy — make a touchdown,” Mike said.
Read the whole story here.
Sports media is in an uproar about the horrific murder of Ty Doohen, Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson’s two-year-old son. Unfortunately, they’ve got the angle all wrong. This is not a story about a father’s loss and brave return to the field. It is a story of a sick culture, of a man who reportedly didn’t even know he had fathered a son until three months ago and never looked on Ty’s face until the boy was in a hospital bed, dying.
It’s a story of the woman who birthed this child. Ann “Ashley” Doohen reportedly had the child tested for paternity and the results came as a surprise to her. She thought the child was her ex-boyfriend’s (not current boyfriend and alleged assailant Joseph Patterson). This makes three men Doohen was (allegedly) having sex within a relatively short time period. She was not married to any of them.
This is a story of a woman who left her baby in the care of a person who had a criminal record of child abuse that anyone with $30 and a computer could have uncovered. But most importantly, this is a story of a child with no father, with no hero and no advocate to protect and shield him from the evil around him.
In January 2012, Tim Tebow was the darling of the marketing world — he was marketing gold. Then quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tebow had led the team to several come-from-behind wins and threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of an overtime game to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a first-round playoff game. The game drew a stunning 49% more viewers than the year-earlier match-up.
Ad Age reported at the time, “The game on CBS averaged a 25.9 household rating/43 share, according to Nielsen, the highest-rated first-round NFL playoff game in 24 years.”
They said that Tebow ranked among the top 85 celebrities in the world in the Trendsetter attribute, “on par with George Clooney, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake.” According to Ad Age, “In terms of influence, Mr. Tebow is now in the top 40 of 3,000 celebs in the DBI, on par Tom Hanks, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Aniston and Steven Spielberg.”
Darin David, account director at The Marketing Arm, Dallas, said that Tebow was then likely at the $10 million a year level in marketing potential. “As a marketer, you want somebody like that.”
Now you’d think that any team with half a brain, or even a modicum of greed, would have seen the potential — a decade of Tebwomania with the accompanying marketing bonanza. Jerseys, posters, shoes, ticket sales, TV viewers — dollar signs. They would have immediately put a team of the best coaches, trainers, and former quarterbacks on Team Tebow to do whatever it takes to transform his Heisman Trophy college skills into NFL-worthy abilities. But the media had to have its say.
August is finally winding down. The kids are back to school, and the whole world seems to settle back into a routine. Starting this week — and especially on Saturday — the world changes for the better, as teams on campuses across the country take the fields to play football.
Yes, it’s college football season, and college football, like food, music, and beautiful women, is one of the things we just do better down South. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has dominated the sport for years now, and for that reason, the entire country is in a love-hate relationship with the conference.
Over at one of my favorite sports blogs, Saturdays Down South, Kevin Duffey speculates how the SEC, with all their successes, may well be the villain of college football:
Just over three years ago, Lebron James became the biggest villain in major American sports as a result of his televised Decision. For the next three seasons, fans – whether they hated or loved Lebron – couldn’t stop watching him as he pursued NBA Championships.
Several years before that, baseball fans were joined together in a hatred toward the New York Yankees as a result of multiple World Series titles and an ever expanding payroll.
Whether the villains are a result of a Decision, a payroll several times that of a team’s competitors or 7 straight BCS Championships, villains are fantastic for sports. Villains drive emotion and drive fan interest on both sides of the equation.
The SEC is an interesting scenario for a villain since it’s such a large entity. It’s not a single individual like Lebron James or Tiger Woods. It’s not a single team like the Yankees. No, it’s 14 teams and an entire region of the country.
I know what you’re thinking – “These SEC fans sound like they’re bragging.” But the facts speak for themselves. Teams from the SEC have won the last seven championships in a row – and nine of the last 15. Five of the ten largest college football stadiums reside within the SEC, and the SEC boasts nine of the 20 largest attendances in college football. Then again, those are mere statistics.
The last few months haven’t been a good time to be an athlete in the public eye. Think about the worst offender by far – Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots tight end who is in jail on murder charges. Or consider his college teammate — for the Florida Gators, the mortal enemies of my alma mater, UGA, I might add — Riley Cooper, who uttered racial slurs and went “f—ing nuts” after being denied backstage access at a Kenny Chesney concert and just happened to be caught on tape.
Let’s not forget Alex Rodriguez. It seems the
sports media whole world has fixated on the suspension that has stemmed from his alleged use of banned substances – one writer even compared him to the “party guest that won’t leave.” Last but not least, look at poor professional bowler Troy Walker, whose bid for a perfect score ended when he accidentally pressed the reset button before his last frame.
But my friend Britt Johnson posed an interesting question on Facebook today, so I thought I’d bring it to your attention: who’s the bigger idiot in sports this week: Tony Stewart or Johnny Manziel?
On Monday night, Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion broke his leg in two places racing for fun at an Iowa dirt track – his second dirt track crash in as many weeks. He will undergo surgery to repair his leg.
The injury likely will end any hopes of Stewart making this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. With five races remaining before the Chase begins, he is 11th in the point standings, just five points behind 10th-place Greg Biffle. Stewart currently holds one of the two wild card positions due to his one win this season, which came on June 2 at Dover.
Heisman Trophy winner Manziel, who has already generated controversy since his amazing freshman season last year for having meltdowns on Twitter and not taking a summer QB camp seriously enough, is now under investigation for allegedly taking $7,500 to autograph helmets.
An East Coast autograph broker told ESPN on Tuesday that Johnny Manziel was paid $7,500 for signing approximately 300 mini- and full-sized helmets on Jan. 11-12 while he was attending the Walter Camp Football Foundation event.
The broker played two cell phone videos for ESPN showing Manziel signing white Texas A&M helmets and footballs laid out on a bed in a hotel room. The video does not show Manziel accepting any money.
On the videos, which the broker said were recorded without Manziel’s knowledge, ESPN heard Manziel say “you never did a signing with me” and that if the broker were to tell anyone, he would refuse to deal with him again in the future.
So in your mind, who’s the bigger idiot: Stewart or Manziel? Which athlete has potentially done the most damage to his career? Tell us in the comments section below.