Variety is the spice of life and we’ve got it today ladies & gents. Football, baseball, AND basketball (kind of). I am aware that the NHL playoffs have begun, but as usual I just don’t care.
Overall I was rather pleased with my Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft class. First round selection Jarvis Jones has the potential to be the next great Steeler linebacker, following in the footsteps of guys like Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Kevin Greene, Robin Cole, Mike Merriweather, Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, and James Harrison. Fourth round pick Landry Jones was at one time touted as a possible first rounder, but a rather pedestrian senior season at Oklahoma lowered expectations, which may turn out to be a blessing. Jones may or may not be the successor to Ben Roethlisberger down the road, but at the very least he should eventually become a solid backup. I don’t know much about third round WR Markus Wheaton from Oregon St. but I don’t think it’ll be too difficult to replace the departed Mike Wallace, who the Miami Dolphins overpaid in free agency. I know absolutely nothing about cornerback Terry Hawthorne or safety Shamarko Thomas, but I do know that the Steelers desperately need quality depth in the defensive backfield, so hopefully these guys will turn out to be the types of diamonds in the rough that Pittsburgh is famous for uncovering in the latter stages of drafts. 6th & 7th round choices Vince Williams (another linebacker), Justin Brown (a wide receiver), and Nick Williams (a defensive end) are likely long term investments that’ll be stashed away on the practice squad and given an opportunity to develop. And the pick I am really excited about is RB Le’veon Bell from Michigan St., taken in the second round. Bell is the kind of battering ram tailback…in the grand tradition of guys like Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, and former Steeler great Jerome “The Bus” Bettis…that I really like, and I don’t think it’ll be long into the season before he seizes the starting gig.
It might be a small thing, but I’m kind of pumped about NBC choosing Carrie Underwood to sing the theme song for Sunday Night Football. I have nothing against the very lovely Faith Hill, but Underwood is definitely an upgrade…like trading in a Volvo for a BMW.
Ok so here is what really bothered me about the whole “NBA player Jason Collins comes out of the closet” thing. First of all, yes, technically Jason Collins plays in the NBA. But before all this no one had ever heard of the dude. In a 12 year NBA career he has averaged less than 4 points and rebounds per game. Yet when this news hit the reaction was as if he was someone people should actually give a damn about. If a real superstar on the level of Lebron, Kobe, Tim Duncan, or Chris Paul would come out then maybe it’d be news. Jason Collins?? Who cares?? Secondly, ESPN spent two whole days yapping about the whole thing ad nauseum. At a certain point I just had to stop watching. It’s no secret to avid viewers that ESPN is very agenda driven, whether it is cuddling & caressing the SEC, trying to convince us that Tim Tebow is relevant, or propping certain big market pro teams. That’s all fine & dandy as long as it has some tangential relation to sports. But when my sports shows start promoting their liberal sociopolitical beliefs I reach for the remote control. That’s not what I watch sports for. Just give me scores, highlights, player & team news, and analysis of games. The hypocrisy of liberals is…well, I can’t say it’s shocking at this point because it’s really not. It’s just annoying. When the whole President Clinton-Monica Lewinsky deal was going on back around 1998 we were told “it’s just sex” and “it’s none of anyone’s business as long as he continues to effectively do his job”. Well…as long as Jason Collins continues to get his measly 4 points & rebounds per game then why should his sexual preference be news?? I even saw some folks throwing the word “hero” around which really ticked me off. The man is not a hero. He’s a very average professional basketball player that everyone seems to think deserves some kind of an award because he has made the choice to sleep with other men. Now I have my own faith based beliefs & opinions, but I also honestly respect another person’s right to freely live their life as they choose. However, I am a little sick & tired of Christians being accused of “shoving our beliefs down other peoples’ throats” while it is deemed perfectly acceptable for talking heads to pontificate adoringly about how awesome “alternative” (aka sinful) lifestyles are. Would ESPN have droned on for hours about an athlete who had been filled by the Holy Spirit and given his heart to Jesus Christ?? Of course not. If anything they would have chided that person mercilessly. As a matter of fact one employee of the Bristol mothership…NBA reporter Chris Broussard…did speak out about his Christian beliefs and was immediately branded a bigot & a homophobe. They name streets after liberals…One Way…and I’m pretty fed up with the double standard.
If I were the Commissioner of Baseball I believe I would really try to shorten the season a bit. 162 games is just too much. I think I’d have each team play everyone else in their division 12 times (four 3 game series) which would be 48 games and play the other two divisions 9 times (two four game series with a double header worked in there somewhere) which would equal 90 games. No interleague play (call me old fashioned I guess). That’s a 138 game season, which is plenty. They could wait to start the season in May and get The World Series over by the end of September. The “boys of summer” should never play in a snowstorm.
Other thoughts about the NFL Draft:
· I am not surprised that former WV Mountaineer QB Geno Smith fell to the 2nd round. I believe that where there is smoke there is fire, and Geno certainly seems to have some maturity & leadership issues. I have been saying for months that I thought he’d be a bust, and unfortunately for him landing with a trainwreck organization like the NY Jets was just about the worst thing that could have happened. The media in The Big Apple will eat him alive. On the flip side he stands a pretty decent chance of seizing the starting job since his competition is the unimpressive trio of Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, and Greg McElroy.
· After signing free agent RB Rashard Mendenhall the Arizona Cardinals were able to fill other needs early in the draft, but later on the Cards took both Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor and Clemson’s Andre Ellington, both of whom will pass Mendenhall on the depth chart within a couple of years.
· The Cardinals also rolled the dice on infamous LSU defensive back Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, which might work out really well for all involved since Mathieu’s good buddy, fellow corner, and former college teammate Patrick Peterson is also in Arizona.
· Not sure what the Green Bay Packers were thinking when they drafted RBs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. If Lacy’s purported health issues are legit then the choice of Franklin will seem brilliant. However, if Lacy is as dominant in the NFL as he was at ‘Bama then a conundrum shall develop rather quickly, as Franklin is just too good to keep on the bench. I suppose it’s a nice problem to have for the Packer offensive braintrust, even if it is a huge pain in the rumpus for potential fantasy owners.
· I was able to watch the NFL Network’s draft coverage for the first time this year and I must say I was impressed. The guys on ESPN seem to enjoy the sound of their own voices way too much and the viewer misses multiple picks after the first round. The NFL Network crew is much less obnoxious & intrusive.
· LB Manti Te’o ending up with the San Diego Chargers seems appropriate. I see a lot of Junior Seau in Te’o. Plus…unlike Geno Smith…he lands in a place where the red hot spotlight won’t be so intense and he may get a fair opportunity to let his past issues fade into the mist.
· The Chargers also picked up WR Keenan Allen in the 3rd round. In a lot of mock drafts Allen was penciled in as a first rounder but he fell because he is coming off a knee injury and didn’t perform well at The Combine. I think maybe NFL suits are a bit short-sighted at times. More often than not knee injuries heal and in this case San Diego may have gotten a real steal.
· Did the Buffalo Bills reach for QB EJ Manuel?? Probably. They likely could have traded down a couple of times, stockpiled some picks, and still gotten their man. But I think it is very possible that in a few years Manuel will emerge as the best quarterback from this draft and the Bills front office will look like geniuses.
· If Manuel doesn’t become the best QB from this draft the honor may well go to Matt Barkley someday. Less than a year ago many thought Barkley was a potential #1 overall pick. Instead he stayed for his senior season at USC, had his mojo stolen by other flavors of the month, and the Philadelphia Eagles ended up snagging him in the FOURTH round. Mark my words…Matt Barkley will be Philly’s starting quarterback by 2014 and he’ll be really good.
· The Cincinnati Bengals choosing tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round is a real head scratcher since they already have Jermaine Gresham, who is only 24 years old. I know two tight end sets are increasingly popular in the NFL, but I’m not sure how wise it is to use a 1st round pick to fill that role.
· The Minnesota Vikings did a nice job of maneuvering to end up with three 1st rounders, all of whom should be impact players.
· I am a little surprised that QB Matt Scott wasn’t drafted, but he has signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars and I absolutely would not be surprised at all if he is starting within a year or two.
· Kudos to the SF 49ers for rolling the dice on RB Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore may never overcome the injuries he suffered in college and if so ‘Frisco isn’t out all that much. But if…if…he does recover in a year or two and fulfills the potential he once had then the pick will look absolutely brilliant.
- Report: Jason Collins Earns 2381 Stories, Gosnell 115 (breitbart.com)
- Jason Collins looking for a job in NBA (sportsnippets.com)
- Knowing the Steelers Way: A Unique Intangible (nicepickcowher.com)
- Jarvis Jones is a Steelers kind of guy (behindthesteelcurtain.com)
- Geno Smith Warms Up In The Cold (rantsports.com)
- Criticism of Geno Smith mounts after the draft (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- The hits keep coming for Geno Smith (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Chargers’ Head Coach Concerned about Manti Te’o’s Invisible Friend (thenewporker.com)
- Dr. Phil Sues Over Manti Te’o Interview (webpronews.com)
- Not On Manti Te’o Bandwagon Yet (boltbeat.com)