Winning & Musing…Volume 6.17

Sorry non-sports fans…there are a few things going on about which I feel compelled to comment. Take heart though…the holidays are coming up soon so there is some fun stuff in the pipeline, and of course there a couple of long term projects that I need to complete plus one or two that I need to actually get started on, so if you’re not into football or basketball stay with me…I won’t forget about y’all.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the Houston Astros for winning their first World Series championship. I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in the Series this year, but a disaster was averted when Houston beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS because a Yankees-Dodgers World Series would’ve had zero appeal for me. I know that sounds strange, but as a sports fan I need an underdog, a little engine that could, to root for. I enjoy a good David vs. Goliath story. I realize that’s not how the real world works. In reality the bigger, better entity with more power, money, & influence wins the vast majority of the time in virtually all walks of life. However, part of the romance in sports is that sometimes the little guy actually wins, and that’s not just a fantasy birthed in 1976 with Rocky. In my opinion it’s kind of weak & uninspiring to jump on the Goliath bandwagon. Before this season the Astros hadn’t won a division title since 2001 and had only made the playoffs once since 2005. They’d played in just one World Series since the franchise’s inception in 1962, losing to the Chicago White Sox in 2005. In the past decade they’d had seven losing seasons, including a three year stretch from 2011-13 in which they were a combined 162-324. So even though Houston itself is the 4th largest city in America the Astros have never been among baseball’s elite…until now. It doesn’t hurt that the games themselves were really fun to watch, and anytime we get to a Game 7 in anything it’s pretty cool. I’m sure the L.A. Dodgers will be back in the thick of things next year. They’ll go out and buy a couple of bigtime free agents or make a blockbuster trade. Same with the Yankees. Second place isn’t good enough for such teams. They think that, because of their huge TV market and bottomless coffers, they’re entitled to a trophy. But all of that just makes me yawn.

 

 

Speaking of yawning…

I guess the NASCAR season is almost over?? Honestly I haven’t watched a race since…the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend…I think. And unlike the past couple of years when I was consciously objecting to NASCAR for various reasons, in 2017 I haven’t even given NASCAR a second thought. I just don’t care. They totally lost me as a fan. Their “playoffs” are stupid, their stage racing is stupid, and their drivers are boring. I’m probably supposed to get all misty & nostalgic about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement, but I don’t care about that either. He’s just a sellout who has never been worthy of carrying his father’s name. Good riddance.

 

 

Dear ESPN: Declining ratings for football has EVERYTHING to do with anthem protests and politics interfering with our enjoyment of sports. Y’all can try to spin things all you want, blaming injuries and weak teams to deflect from the controversy, but just as your ratings have deteriorated due to not-so-subtle sociopolitical propagandizing with which a sizeable portion of the audience disagrees, football is suffering for also promoting a provocative agenda unrelated to the sport that fans tune in to watch. These people are so insufferably full of themselves and impressed with their own intellect that they’ve become totally out of touch with the viewing public.

 

 

It’s still really early in the NBA season, but I can’t help but chuckle at the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers & San Antonio Spurs are off to subpar starts, and the Golden State Warriors have lost more games in the first few weeks of the season than they did before the end of November last year. Perhaps if players & coaches for those teams had spent the offseason appreciating their success and preparing for more of the same instead of flapping their gums and displaying their ignorance about real world issues they’d be winning more games right now. Sadly it is probable that all three teams will be just fine, make deep playoff runs, & battle for the NBA Championship, but I’d like nothing better than for them to struggle all season and make early playoff exits. Just as the NFL is learning, the NBA needs to eventually realize that we just want them to shut their pieholes and play ball.

 

 

As recently noted, I have no issue with the initial College Football Playoff rankings that put Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, & Clemson at the top for the moment. But you can bet that if the final four team field includes two teams from the same conference & an independent and excludes three of the Power 5 conference champions that playoff expansion debates will heat up really quick. We’ve known all along that it would happen eventually. Expansion of the playoff has been inevitable from the beginning. I’d like to see a six team field, with the top two teams receiving a bye, but I assume that what we’ll get at some point is an eight team playoff. I don’t care what the talking heads say…if conferences are going to continue to exist then conference championships need to mean something, otherwise what’s the point??

Winning & Musing…Volume 4.17

I am well aware that some citizens of The Manoverse are not sports fans and skip right past posts like these. That’s okay, I understand, and stay tuned for other non-sports goodness coming your way. I also know that I just published the previous edition of W&M less than a week ago. But I’ve got more to say and I just can’t hold it in, so climb on, strap in, & ride the wave!!

 

 

 

 

In offering thoughts about the NFL Draft I neglected to address one significant topic of conversation…running back Joe Mixon. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Mixon in the second round, and the looks of disdain on the faces of the talking heads could not go unnoticed. In 2014…his freshman year at Oklahoma…Mixon pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for punching a woman in a restaurant during the summer before the school year began. The details of the incident aren’t important and I am NOT here to defend Mixon. His actions were appalling…few would dispute that fact. Having said that, I have two issues with how the situation has been handled & reported. First of all, I fervently disagree with anyone who equates Mixon’s circumstances with those of former Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice, who you’ll recall was suspended from the NFL in 2014 after punching his fiancée (now wife) in an Atlantic City elevator. Rice hasn’t played a down of football since and probably never will again. The huge difference to me is that Rice was a 27 year old professional who should’ve known better. I have no problem with the fact that he hasn’t gotten another opportunity to play in the NFL. It’s a privilege to do so, not a right. Conversely, Mixon was a barely 18 year old college freshman. He was suspended for a year from the Oklahoma football program and caused no further issues after his return. Yet there were reportedly NFL teams that didn’t have him on their draft boards at all, and after he was drafted guys like ESPN’s Adam Schefter (who I usually like a lot) looked like they might actually cry, vomit, or do both simultaneously. Where’s the mercy?? Holy cow…if we were all held perpetually accountable for the idiotic things we did in high school and/or college I know a plethora of successful people who never would have gotten a job interview. Granted, punching a woman in the face is much more serious than the stupidity that my friends & I engaged in during our youth, but the point still stands. Joe Mixon did something truly awful as an 18 year old kid. He shouldn’t have to pay for it for the rest of his life. Admittedly it was a bit tone deaf for the Bengals, who’ve had more than their fair share of lawbreaking miscreants don the orange & black in the past decade or two, to choose Mixon, but that’s on them. I assume the young man will be under a zero tolerance policy, and rightfully so. If he even so much as looks angrily at someone he should be waived and forced to get a 9 to 5 job like the rest of us working stiffs, but if he stays on the straight & narrow I think allowing him to pursue a professional football career is proper. The other issue I have with this whole thing is the relatively new idea that professional athletes need to be model citizens. I have opined multiple times over the years that just because an individual can run fast or has superior athletic skill doesn’t mean they are a good person, and it didn’t used to be a requirement. The history of sports is chockful of drunks, junkies, bullies, & criminals of all kinds, from baseball’s Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb to football’s Joe Namath & Lawrence Taylor to basketball’s Dennis Rodman & Allen Iverson and many many other examples from every level of athletics. Some people ultimately ruined their careers while others were just branded as “colorful”, but because they were supremely talented all were given an opportunity…oftentimes numerous opportunities…and no one seemed to mind. However, in the ultra-PC 21st century there are those eager to toss aside someone who made one big mistake when he was barely 18 years old?? Again I ask…where is the mercy??

 

 

Add NFL Hall-of-Famer and favorite Steeler Jerome Bettis to the list of those dismissed in the much discussed ESPN bloodbath. I’m a huge fan of The Bus, but I’m not shedding too many tears for him because I happen to know that he’s involved in various business pursuits and will land on his feet just fine. To be honest he didn’t add all that much to the already copious amount of NFL coverage on The Mothership and likely won’t be missed.

 

 

I wonder if journalist Brian Windhorst gets down on his knees every night and thanks the Good Lord above for Lebron James?? Windhorst has parlayed a local career in his hometown of Akron, OH during which he covered Lebron’s high school games into a gig with the Akron Beacon-Journal, then the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, & now ESPN. He has basically been Lebron’s personal reporter for almost two decades, and now he has written a book that I just finished reading called Return of the King, about Lebron’s homecoming to Cleveland a few years ago and the Cavaliers’ failure then success in pursuit of an NBA title. The book is pretty good if you’re into those kind of books, which I am. Good job Windy!!

 

 

 

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who gutted out a seven game series victory over the Washington Capitals to move on in the NHL playoffs. The Pens will have to take down the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals to earn a shot at defending their Stanley Cup championship.

 

 

 

Some ideas to “fix” the NBA:

*Expansion. It is necessary for my math to work. There are currently 30 teams in the league, but we need 32. Maybe you give Seattle a team back. Ditto for Vancouver. How about Vegas?? The NFL’s Raiders are moving there and the NHL is expanding there as well, so why not?? I’m a little partial to the idea of awarding a team to Pittsburgh. I don’t know…discuss amongst yourselves. All I know is that we need two additional teams.

*32 teams would allow us to reduce each team’s schedule from 82 games to 77. Not much of a decrease, but every little bit helps, right?? I’m tired of all the whining about resting players & such. The league would be split into an Eastern & Western Conference. Divide each conference into North & South divisions if you want…it doesn’t really matter. A team would play everyone else in their conference three times…45 games. They’d play each team in the other conference twice…32 games. 45+32=77.

*I’m not sure how you’d handle scheduling. My vote would be to play as many back-to-back games as possible to reduce travel just as they do in MLB, but basketball players seem to complain a lot about back-to-back games. I’ll leave it up to people smarter than me to figure out logistics.

*Even though we are expanding the league and reducing regular season games we’re still going to go ahead and trim the playoff field from 8 teams in each conference to 6. The top two teams in each conference (you could make these division champs) get a first round bye. Each first round series is just three games, as is each second round series. The conference finals are 5 game series, and the NBA Finals would be the only round with a 7 game series.

*Out of the 26 teams that don’t make the playoffs the BEST five go into the Draft Lottery to see who gets the #1 pick. Well…actually it’d decide the top five picks. If you still want to do the bouncy ball thing then each team’s number of balls would be equal to their number of wins. After that win/loss records would determine the draft order. So the worst team in the league would receive the 6th overall pick. This system would eliminate the ridiculous practice of tanking, which is a stain on the league. Not only would good teams be competing to make the playoffs in the waning days of the regular season, but not so good teams would be competing to get into the lottery rather than purposely losing. It would encourage competitive balance and wise management, because teams that just missed the playoffs are (theoretically) adding the best players, putting playoff teams on notice.

 

 

I said about a month ago that I would postpone offering an opinion on my Pittsburgh Pirates until a little further into the season. Well, we are more than 30 games in and the Pirates are dead last in their division and painful to watch. We Pirates fans endured two decades of losing until a few years ago, then had a couple of years when the team actually made the playoffs as a wildcard. But now it feels like we are right back to square one. I’ve never believed that pitcher Gerrit Cole is a true ace, but he’s the best they’ve got and there is chatter about him being traded. Outfielder Starling Marte screwed the pooch by getting suspended for most of the season for PED use, but I’m not sure his presence would make that much of a difference. There has been talk of trading all-star outfielder Andrew McCutchen as far back as last season, but even if they keep him it feels like his prime years are being wasted. I watch games and don’t even know who some of these guys are!! I am tempted to say that it’s time for manager Clint Hurdle to go, that he is too passive and the players aren’t listening to him anymore. That may be true, but I don’t think changing managers would help that much either. The problem with the Pirates is ownership. The business is profitable and fans continue to fill the ballpark because that’s just how dedicated & loyal Pittsburghers and fans from surrounding areas are. It’s in their DNA. Winning would be a nice bonus, but it doesn’t seem necessary to the powers-that-be. I don’t have any answers. I wish I did.

Winning & Musing…Volume 3.17

For the past few weeks I’d been feeling really upbeat & blessed. Springtime. Sunshine. Birds chirping. Occasional use of the AC. But at the moment it is raining here in Appalachia and has been for a few days. There’s a November-esque chill in the air. I’ve had to wear a coat again and get the comforter out of the closet. I’m sniffling, sneezing, & taking antibiotics. I hate feeling this way. I hate this weather, especially since IT’S MAY!!!! Thankfully the sports calendar remains robust, and those hours of relaxation & delight ease the burden. Let’s unwind and have some fun.

 

 

 

 

NBA Playoffs Drinking Game: Do a shot or chug a beer (drinker’s choice) every time one of the announcers says “pick & roll”. You might pass out by halftime or possibly need to go to the ER to have your stomach pumped. Either way you probably won’t be around for the end of the game.

 

 

 

A few thoughts about the recent NFL Draft:

*I’m a traditionalist, so I wasn’t too sure about the NFL’s decision to move the draft away from New York to an outdoor venue in Philadelphia, but WOW…what a great idea it turned out to be!! The passionate fans in Philly showed up in droves…about 100k each of the three days…and really infused a ton of energy into the event. Kudos to those fans, and a tip of the cap to whomever decided to try something new after the draft had essentially been in the same comfort zone for a couple of decades.

*Speaking of stepping outside one’s comfort zone, I finally transitioned to the NFL Network as the home base for my draft coverage instead of ESPN, and it was a great choice. I found the talking heads on NFL Network to be much more focused & knowledgeable than their counterparts. Mike Mayock especially is multiple levels above ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. Whoever is running the NFL Network obviously knows what butters their bread and understands the kind of reporting fans truly desire. Perhaps they should ponder creating an all-sports network that actually concentrates on sports. Wouldn’t that be a novel idea??

*I’d give my Steelers a B+ on their 2017 draft. I love the first round choice of linebacker TJ Watt. If he’s anywhere near as talented as his brother JJ he’ll be an all-pro for the next dozen years, which would be nice. The Steelers did address concerns about the secondary with 3rd & 5th round picks of guys I’ve never heard of. I’d like to have faith in the braintrust in Pittsburgh, but my preference would have been to prioritize the position with potential starters rather than players that’ll probably need a couple of years to develop. I know a lot of Steeler fans are excited about second round choice JuJu Smith-Schuster, a wide receiver from USC, but I have an irrational disdain for people with hyphenated surnames, so I can’t seem to get psyched about the pick. I’m not knowledgeable enough to expertly criticize the choice of a long snapper in the sixth round, but it seems like a wasted pick to me. I really like 3rd round running back James Conner (even though he played for Pitt) and 4th round quarterback Josh Dobbs out of Tennessee. Conner should become an immediate contributor as a backup to Leveon Bell, and Dobbs can learn for a year or two or three from Ben Roethlisberger. Whether Dobbs settles in as a career backup, becomes a worthy successor to Big Ben someday, or is a complete bust, the pick itself is solid and could end up being much more.

*I’m really surprised that the New England Patriots didn’t trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a QB needy team. If I were Garoppolo I’d want out not only for an opportunity to start somewhere, but because it’s a bad idea to be the guy who replaces The Guy. When Tom Brady FINALLY retires the person replacing him will be faced with two options. Failure would further inflate (ha!) perception of Brady as “the greatest quarterback EVER!!” and pretty much stop the replacement’s career in its tracks. Conversely, if the Patriot train keeps on rolling even after Brady leaves then it would diminish his legacy while inflating (I just can’t help myself) the status of head coach Bill Belichick. Either way it’s an odd position to be in for Garoppolo.

*In my mock draft I opined that none of the available quarterbacks were first round worthy, yet three of them were taken. The Chicago Bears traded away two 3rd round picks & a 4th rounder to move up ONE spot for North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky. Seems a bit much to me, especially for such an unproven player. Kansas City traded a 3rd round pick and next year’s 1st rounder to move up for Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes. I like Mahomes better than Trubisky, especially since he’ll be able to sit for a couple of years and learn from Alex Smith, but it still struck me as an expensive trade. The Houston Texans traded away next year’s first round choice to go up & grab Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and I think it might actually be looked upon as a wise transaction in a few years. Watson will probably be the rookie quarterback pressed into starting the quickest, but he also has the best team surrounding him. If Watson fulfills the potential I think he has the Texans could win a Lombardi Trophy in the not too distant future.

 

 

A melancholy Happy Trails to The Sports Reporters, which has been cancelled by ESPN after almost three decades on the air. Admittedly I was not a faithful viewer of the show because it was usually on while I was on the way to church, and for some reason I never recorded it like I’ve done so much stuff since the DVR became a thing. However, I always enjoyed the program when circumstances allowed me to catch it. Debate shows about sports are a dime a dozen now, but I assume The Sports Reporters was one of the prototypes, if not the founding father of the format. Unlike many of the current shows on the air, Reporters was a more tranquil & erudite conversation. Though I am sure most of the “journalists” that appeared over the years were your typical leftists, sociopolitical issues or “progressive” bias never seemed to be a part of Reporters’ DNA. The focus…as it should be…was on sports. The discussions were thoughtful and intelligent, not reactionary. Perhaps the emphasis on sports and lack of brash & colorful personalities is what led to the cancellation, which makes it even sadder. Google “misplaced priorities” and you’ll probably get directions to Bristol, CT.

 

 

 

 

Unlike many folks I am not all that broken up about the impending retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. I wish him well in his new marriage and future endeavors, which I assume will eventually include being a NASCAR team owner. However, let’s be honest…Dale Jr.’s popularity has never been about Dale Jr. It’s about his name. It’s about his legacy. It’s about the tragic death of his father. Many cheered for the elder Earnhardt, so they transferred that loyalty to his son. But when Dale Jr. sold out that heritage to join a super stable at Hendrick Motorsports that included Jeff Gordon & Jimmy Johnson it felt…atleast to me…like Larry Bird leaving the Celtics to join Magic Johnson’s Lakers, or Peyton Manning spending his last few years in the NFL with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady’s backup. It left a proverbial bad taste in my mouth, and became the first of multiple factors that eventually led to me putting my NASCAR fandom on the backburner. Your mileage may vary, and that’s okay, but I’m just being honest.

 

 

Speaking of ESPN…..

Of all the talking heads that The Mothership recently canned, I must give a shout out to a special few. Baseball reporter Jayson Stark called in weekly to Mike & Mike, regularly stumping Greeny & Golic with difficult trivia questions. It was a fun & informative segment and I’ll miss it. Ed Werder added low-key gravitas to NFL coverage, while Andy Katz did the same for discussions about college basketball. I guess neither one is colorful or loud enough for ESPN now. NFL analyst Trent Dilfer & MLB analyst Doug Glanville are former players that got jobs in sports media, which of course isn’t unusual. Unfortunately it seems like they also were a little too cerebral in the eyes of whatever moron is making these decisions at ESPN. Anchors Jade McCarthy & Sara Walsh are both lovely ladies, but they’re both now unemployed. I first encountered Jay Crawford when he hosted Cold Pizza, which eventually morphed into First Take. He seems like a cool guy, but made the misstep of thinking that anchoring Sportscenter was the Holy Grail, which it no longer is. He should’ve stayed on First Take. Former Florida State quarterback & college football analyst Danny Kanell strikes me as kind of a tool, which makes his ouster rather odd since it seems like that’s what the network embraces now. Anchor John Buccigross had been around for a couple of decades and embodied the second generation of glib sarcasm popularized back in the Dan Patrick/Keith Olbermann days. Bucci seems like a good dude and I hope he lands a gig somewhere. The most popular target of fans upset by this bloodletting in Bristol has been Stephen A. Smith, as in “I can’t believe (insert fired person’s name here) is gone but Stephen A. still has a job!!”. That reaction was so vociferous & so ubiquitous that Smith actually felt compelled to speak up and defend his credentials. While he certainly isn’t my favorite personality I don’t necessarily take issue with Stephen A.’s continued employment. However, he does exemplify what ESPN is about now…ratings brought by outspoken personalities who aren’t afraid to let their sociopolitical agenda bleed into sports debate. It’s a bold strategy Cotton…let’s see if it pays off for them.

 

 

2017 NFL Mock Draft

After doing my first ever mock draft(s) back in 2014 and then trying again the following season I took last year off. I was recovering from surgery and just had too much occupying my mind. But we’re back baby!! I’m doing something a little different this time, a decision that is contrary to what typically defines me as a fan. My fantasy football buddies know that I love to tinker. Wheelin’ & dealin’ is a huge part of the fun for me. However, in putting together this mock draft I’ve decided not to do any imaginary trades. The only trades reflected here are the ones that have already been made in reality. I expect that there will be some deals done during the actual draft, but eliminating such speculation here concurrently simplifies the process while challenging my inner nature. The pool of prospects is deep this time so we’re doing a three round mock. My methodology is a hybrid of what I believe is likely to happen mixed with my own take on what teams should actually do. As always I have no inside knowledge about salary cap issues, contract negotiations, & what players may or may not do or where they may go in the future. The NFL Draft is educated randomness, but I’ll be darned if it’s not a lot of fun.

 

 

 

Round 1

 

1       Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett – DE – Texas A&M

No one believes that there’s a quarterback in this draft worth the #1 overall pick, and the Browns are understandably a little gun shy given their poor quarterback track record in the past couple of decades. Ideally they’d trade out of this spot, but usually the only teams looking to move up this far are looking for a franchise signal caller, and that’s not going to happen. So Cleveland is likely to utilize the “best player available” strategy, and Garrett is the clear cut best player in the draft, a guy I’ve seen compared to recently retired Broncos LB/DE Demarcus Ware. If Garrett really is that good he’s certainly worth the top choice.

 

2       San Francisco 49ers

Reuben Foster – LB – Alabama

Don’t be surprised if ‘Frisco trades down out of this spot. I think it’s still too early for a quarterback, and even if they do draft one at some point it’s likely that Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley will be starting most of the 2017 season. Better to address other needs with this choice, and Foster is a safe pick.

 

3       Chicago Bears

Malik Hooker – S – Ohio St.

Jay Cutler isn’t going to be behind center in Chicago this season. That job will be held by Mike Glennon, formerly of the Buccaneers. He’s probably not a long term solution, but he is good enough for the Bears not to reach for a quarterback with this selection. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey has bolted for Philadelphia, but with Eddie Royal, free agent arrivals Kendall Wright & Markus Wheaton, and 2015 first round pick Kevin White (finally healthy after two different leg injuries) receiver isn’t a need. Hooker is an immediate upgrade at safety.

 

4       Jacksonville Jaguars

Jonathan Allen – DT – Alabama

Calais Campbell was signed away from the Cardinals in free agency, and I think this addition would make the Jags’ defensive line quite formidable.

 

5       Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Corey Davis – WR – Western Michigan

Tennessee has this pick as a result of a trade wherein the Rams moved up to the #1 overall slot to pick QB Jared Goff in 2016. Quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn’t have a top notch receiver to throw to on the current roster, so Davis seems like a logical choice.

 

6       New York Jets

Haason Reddick – LB – Temple

The Jets have whiffed on quarterbacks Geno Smith and…probably…Christian Hackenburg & Bryce Petty, although the jury is still out on those two. Josh McNown is the likely starter in 2017. The question is…is that okay?? Might they still sign a free agent signal caller or make a trade?? Either way, they should be about as hesitant as the Browns to roll the dice this early on a quarterback. Signing Morris Claiborne away from the Cowboys probably negates the need to choose a cornerback in this spot.  Reddick has been steadily moving up most draft boards, and he fulfills a need.

 

7       Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams – WR – Clemson

It still seems odd to say that…the LA Chargers. Although younger fans might not be aware that the Chargers originated in the old AFL in 1960 in Los Angeles before relocating to San Diego a year later. At any rate, this could be an interesting spot to take a quarterback and let him learn for a year or two behind Philip Rivers, who is 35 years old and known to not be a big fan of the move to Los Angeles. However, I don’t think they’ll pull the trigger just yet. Free agent Russell Okung moves down from Seattle to plug a massive hole at tackle, so there’s no need to reach for that position. Instead, Williams gives Rivers another weapon to go along with receiver Keenan Allen, RB Melvin Gordon, and tight ends Antonio Gates & Hunter Henry.

 

8       Carolina Panthers

Dalvin Cook – RB – Florida St.

Free agent Julius Peppers bolted Green Bay for the warmer climate of Carolina, so that fulfills a need on the defensive line. Matt Khalil has left Minnesota to join his brother Ryan on Carolina’s offensive line, which takes care of that issue. Are the Panthers comfortable with 30 year old Jonathan Stewart leading the rushing attack, backed up by Fozzy Whitaker & Cameron Payne?? Well, if necessary I am sure they’d live with it…but it’s not necessary. Cook is probably the most well-rounded running back in the draft, and I think he gets the nod.

 

9       Cincinnati Bengals

Solomon Thomas – DE – Stanford

Many pundits have Thomas as the second best prospect in the draft, so if he’s available at this point the Bengals will sprint to the stage to make the pick. He has been compared to Rams’ end Aaron Donald, and if he lives up to that evaluation Cincinnati will be quite happy with the choice for the next decade.

 

10     Buffalo Bills

Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio St.

The Bills lost cornerback Stephon Gilmore in free agency, so why not replace him with this pick?? Lattimore might even be an upgrade.

 

11     New Orleans Saints

Ryan Ramczyk – OT – Wisconsin

The Saints might consider replacing receiver Brandin Cooks, who they traded to New England. I think they’ll do that…just not yet. It is entirely possible that the Saints try to trade down…or even trade up…because this is a tough spot. With Lattimore already off the board cornerback is a reach here. My philosophy?? When in doubt upgrade the offensive line.

 

12     Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson – QB – Clemson

The Browns improved the defense with the top pick, and now I think they have to grab a quarterback. None of the best prospects are ready to walk right onto an NFL field as a starter, but Cleveland is still rebuilding anyway so they can be patient. Of the choices that have been deemed first round worthy I like Watson the best. He’s a winner. From my limited fan perspective it seems like he’s got the intangibles that separate the wheat from the chaff at this level. If he’s a bust…well, it wouldn’t be Cleveland’s first rodeo, right?? But if he lives up to his potential the sky may be the limit.

 

13     Arizona Cardinals

Malik McDowell – DT – Michigan St.

This is another tough spot. Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger and he’s battled injuries a lot, which have derailed the Cardinals’ momentum. They went from 13-3 in 2015 to just 7-8-1 last season. Defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson, & linebacker Kevin Minter all left via free agency, although linebacker Karlos Dansby returns to Arizona after wandering in the football desert of Ohio the past few seasons, and Jarvis Jones, a former first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, adds additional depth to that linebacker group. McDowell is a reach, but a replacement for Campbell is necessary. I think they can get a quarterback in the second round.

 

14     Philadelphia Eagles

Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU

Running back Wendell Smallwood from my West Virginia Mountaineers is on my dynasty league team, so this choice would sadden me a bit. However, my vibe is that Smallwood isn’t viewed as a top notch lead runner, while Fournette is a generational talent that some have compared to Adrian Peterson. Only his injury history has caused him to drop this far, otherwise he’d be a Top 5 pick.

 

15     Indianapolis Colts

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Stanford

No one would be more upset to see the Eagles take Fournette than the folks in Indy, where starting RB Frank Gore is 147 years old. They’ve done a lot to fix their defense in free agency, so I think offense is the priority here. I don’t believe there is a lineman worthy of this spot. That leaves McCaffrey, who I envision as a swiss army knife hybrid RB/WR who can be special in the right system. Hopefully head coach Chuck Pagano & offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski will know how to maximize his skills.

 

16     Baltimore Ravens

Jamal Adams – S – LSU

The Ravens will sprint to the podium with this selection. Adams can partner with free agent acquisition Tony Jefferson to make a formidable combo in the defensive backfield.

 

17     Washington Redskins

Derek Barnett – DE – Tennessee

Ideally the Redskins would trade out of this slot. Aside from that possibility, I have to think that upgrading the defense is a priority.

 

18     Tennessee Titans

Zach Cunningham – LB – Vanderbilt

With their first choice in this round Tennessee added a potent weapon on offense, so I think this pick has to be defense. They’ve added some pieces in free agency, but more needs to be done. One would assume that since Cunningham played college ball right there in Nashville the Titans are likely familiar with his work.

 

19     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard –TE – Alabama

The Bucs added receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency, and along with Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, & running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims they provide QB Jameis Winston with a pretty good arsenal. The one thing missing?? An elite tight end. So I think it is a reasonable upgrade that’d make the Bucs’ offense quite intimidating.

 

20     Denver Broncos

Forrest Lamp – G – Western Kentucky

The quarterback competition in Denver looks to be between Paxton Lynch & Trevor Siemian. They’ll both be disappointed if Howard is already off the board, because a good tight end is a QB’s best friend. So, where is the value here?? They could still choose a tight end, but I think it is more likely that they’ll reach for a solid offensive lineman to protect whichever young signal caller wins the job.

 

21     Detroit Lions

Jabrill Peppers – S – Michigan

There are still plenty of great defenders available, so this pick just depends on who the powers-that-be in the Motor City prefer. I like Peppers in this spot. No one knows quite where he fits in the NFL. He’s too small to play linebacker, so safety is probably the best option. Can he be the second coming of Troy Polamalu?? I think it’s possible.

 

22     Miami Dolphins

Taco Charlton – DE – Michigan

The Dolphins are really building something with potential. This might be a good spot for a team to trade up to if they’re looking for a quarterback. If that doesn’t happen though Charlton could be a nice addition to the pass rush.

 

23     New York Giants

David Njoku – TE – Miami (FL)

The Giants have had an interesting off season, adding receiver Brandon Marshall to the offense and Geno Smith as the quarterback of the future. Okay, I’m kidding about that second part. Maybe. Who knows?? Anyway, since there isn’t good value at running back here (and I think Paul Perkins should be given a fair chance at succeeding) the focus might be on defense. Or will it?? The Giants have a solid history of good tight ends, from Mark Bavaro in the 80’s to Howard Cross in the 90’s to Jeremy Shockey a decade ago. Njoku would be a significant upgrade at the position and give an aging Eli Manning another weapon in the chase for a third Super Bowl ring.

 

24     Oakland Raiders

Marlon Humphrey – CB – Alabama

Will the Raiders sign running back Adrian Peterson?? And if they do, is that enough?? I’d hate to rely on a 32 year old tailback whose legs could abandon him at any minute. Can they trust DeAndre Washington with the job?? Those are all questions that don’t currently have an answer, and the point is moot anyway because I don’t think there’s another first round talent at running back. The Raiders will focus on improving an already stellar defense, and Humphrey should be a starter from Day 1. He’s the fourth Alabama alum off the board in this round, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

 

25     Houston Texans

Mitch Trubisky – QB – North Carolina

I was convinced that Tony Romo would be the quarterback for the Texans in 2017, but to the surprise of many that’s not happening, which is unfortunate because Houston is just a quarterback away from being a legit Super Bowl contender. I don’t know what they do for the immediate future, but with this pick they must think long term. Trubisky is a nice fit. It would have been advantageous for him to sit & learn for a year or two behind Romo…instead he might be warming the bench while Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick try to lead the team to The Promised Land.

 

26     Seattle Seahawks

Fabian Moreau – CB – UCLA

I like the fact that the Seahawks added former #2 overall pick Luke Joeckel to their offensive line and former Packer Eddie Lacy to a running back mix that also includes Thomas Rawls & CJ Prosise. Moreau is a piece that might actually re-legitimize the Legion of Boom.

 

27     Kansas City Chiefs

Caleb Brantley – DT – Florida

The Chiefs are the real deal, but they’re also in a really tough division. They lost defensive tackle Dontari Poe in free agency, so they’ll be looking for a replacement. Brantley might be somewhat of a reach, but he fills a need.

 

28     Dallas Cowboys

Obi Melifonwu – S – Connecticut

It seems like the Cowboys lost their entire defense in free agency. Defensive backs Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, & Brandon Carr all bolted Big D for greener pastures. Melifonwu impressed a lot of people at the combine, and he can probably step right into a starting role for a depleted Dallas defense.

 

29     Green Bay Packers

Alvin Kamara – RB – Tennessee

The Packers don’t really have many holes to fill, although I am not convinced that receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery is truly the answer in the backfield after the departure of Eddie Lacy. What about Christine Michael?? Ehhhh…I don’t know. Kamara is probably a reach at this point, but he might seize the job easily and make the choice look brilliant.

 

30     Pittsburgh Steelers

Raekwon McMillan – LB – Ohio St.

I know my Steelers well enough to know that, despite most fans wanting desperately for them to upgrade the secondary, they covet the linebacker position more than just about anything. With Jarvis Jones & Lawrence Timmons having moved on the position is a legit issue. Ryan Shazier is great and Bud Dupree has potential, but James Harrison can’t play forever and everyone else is unproven. Pittsburgh has had good luck drafting former Buckeyes, which gives McMillan the nod over a couple other possibilities.

 

31     Atlanta Falcons

Cordrea Tankersley – CB – Clemson

The Falcons’ defense got eaten alive by Tom Brady in the second half of the Super Bowl, so I have to believe that will be a point of emphasis going forward. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe defected to Atlanta from Kansas City in free agency, so that fills one huge need. There are a plethora of cornerbacks to choose from in this spot, but I’m going with Tankersley for no apparent reason.

 

32     New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)

John Ross – WR – Washington

This pick is obvious. The Saints traded away speedy wideout Brandin Cooks. They took an offensive tackle with the 11th pick. There are enough corners available they can be patient, especially if they also lure Malcolm Butler away from New England as expected. Ross is a solid replacement for Cooks.

 

 

 

 

 

Round 2

33     Cleveland Browns

TreDavious White – CB – LSU

In the first round the Browns got the best player in the draft in defensive end Myles Garrett and took their latest quarterback of the future. They need a corner to bookend with All-Pro Joe Haden, and White should fit the bill.

 

34     San Francisco 49ers

DeShone Kizer – QB – Notre Dame

The Niners added linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round. The top two field generals…Watson & Trubisky…are off the board, so ‘Frisco will roll the dice on Kizer to develop for a year or two while Brian Hoyer and/or Matt Barkley pretend to be pro quarterbacks.

 

35     Jacksonville Jaguars

Cam Robinson – OT – Alabama

The Jags made what is probably the safest choice in the draft with their first round selection of defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. Now they can solidify the offensive line with a massive addition.

 

36     Chicago Bears

Garett Bolles – OT – Utah

After signing Mike Glennon away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and also picking up Mark Sanchez…lol) the need for a quarterback is diminished in the short term, which is good since the value isn’t there in this spot. The secondary was addressed in the first round. Improving the offensive line is always a solid choice.

 

37     Los Angeles Rams

Chidobe Awuzie – CB – Colorado

The Rams didn’t have a first round pick and didn’t make any major free agency moves. Wade Phillips is the defensive coordinator now, and in the past he has worked wonders for teams like the Texans & Broncos. They really need to address the secondary.

 

38     Los Angeles Chargers

Dan Feeney – G- Indiana

The Chargers added a premier wideout in the first round. I think it is still a bit early to take the quarterback of the future since Rivers is likely going to be around for a couple of years. It is more likely, especially with the departure of guard DJ Fluker, that they address the offensive line, even after signing tackle Russell Okung away from Seattle.

 

39     New York Jets

Pat Mahomes – QB – Texas Tech

The Jets played it smart in the first round…but they just can’t help themselves. They’ll add to their collection of quarterbacks and pray that one of them actually develops into something resembling a competent pro.

 

40     Carolina Panthers

Charles Harris – DE – Missouri

Let’s be honest. Julius Peppers, at age 37, is a temporary fix. The Panthers need a young end that can be mentored by the veteran.

 

41     Cincinnati Bengals

Takkarist McKinley – LB – UCLA

The Bengals released linebacker Rey Maualuga and signed Kevin Minter away from Arizona. I think they’ll still look to solidify the position in the draft.

 

42     New Orleans Saints

Teez Tabor – CB – Florida

The Saints improved the offensive line and replenished the receiving corps in the first round. I think they go defense here, solidifying the secondary. They still might end up getting cornerback Malcolm Butler from the Patriots, but then again they might not. Either way adding some depth is never a bad thing.

 

43     Philadelphia Eagles

Jourdan Lewis – CB – Michigan

The Eagles have rebuilt their receiving corps this offseason with the additions of Torrey Smith & Alshon Jeffrey. They took a stud running back in the first round. Now it’s time to improve the secondary.

 

44     Buffalo Bills

Curtis Samuel – WR – Ohio St.

Other than Sammy Watkins the Bills have nothing impressive at receiver, and Watkins seems to have a hard time staying healthy. If they want any quarterback to succeed he’s got to have some weapons.

 

45     Arizona Cardinals

Davis Webb – QB – California

Any quarterback taken in this spot is a gamble. But with an injury prone & aging Carson Palmer backed up by Drew Stanton the situation warrants a roll of the dice. Webb has tremendous size, especially if he adds some muscle. Cal has produced guys like Aaron Rodgers, Steve Bartowski, Kyle Boller, & Jared Goff, so maybe Webb can evolve into a solid NFL quarterback.

 

46     Indianapolis Colts

Dion Dawkins – G – Temple

Indianapolis took Christian McCaffrey in the first round, and they did a lot to upgrade the defense in free agency. It seems like protecting quarterback Andrew Luck has been an issue every one of his five NFL seasons, so they’ll keep trying to improve.

 

47     Baltimore Ravens

Chris Godwin – WR – Penn St.

After solidifying the secondary in the first round and in free agency the Ravens have a couple of directions they can go in this spot. Steve Smith is retired and the jury is still out on 2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman, leaving only Mike Wallace as a reliable pass catcher, so I think Baltimore has to pull the trigger on a wideout.

 

48     Minnesota Vikings

Chris Wormley – DT – Michigan

The Vikings didn’t have a first round selection due to last year’s trade that brought them QB Sam Bradford from Philly. They’ve replaced the aging Adrian Peterson with running back Latavius Murray, formerly of the Raiders…a great move in my opinion. I think they’ll go defense here, choosing from among the best players available to add some depth.

 

49     Washington Redskins

Adoree’ Jackson – CB – USC

The Redskins lost two receivers…DeSean Jackson & Pierre Garcon…in free agency. Terrelle Pryor comes over from Cleveland to fill one of those spots, and Brian Quick, formerly of the Rams, takes care of the other. And of course they have last year’s top pick Josh Doctson, so the wideout spot is solid. They have a stable of young running backs and a good offensive line. The pass rush was enhanced in Round 1, so I think the back end gets some attention here, especially with DeAngelo Hall being 33 years old.

 

50     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Budda Baker – S – Washington

The Bucs added a big tight end in the first round, so they can now turn their attention to defense. Baker adds to a secondary that already includes last year’s first round pick, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.

 

51     Denver Broncos

Taylor Moton – OT – Western Michigan

We know the Broncos have a great defense, but no one is too sure what to expect from the offense. They added an offensive lineman in Round 1, but don’t be surprised if they double up on that area of need.

 

52     Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee Titans)

Pat Elflein – C – Ohio St.

Cleveland has this pick as a result of a trade the Titans made last year so they could go up and get tackle Jack Conklin (a move that worked out well for Tennessee). The Browns have already addressed needs at quarterback & corner, as well as taking the best defensive end in the draft with the top overall selection. They might end up using this pick as an asset to trade up, but that’s an unknown. I think this is a good spot to solidify an offensive line that already has a lot of talent. Center Alex Mack moved on to Atlanta last season after seven years with the Browns (netting an appearance in the Super Bowl…not a bad exchange on his part), so maybe they find a talented replacement in this spot.

 

53     Detroit Lions

Tim Williams – LB – Alabama

After addressing issues on both lines in free agency and adding the athletic Jabrill Peppers in the first round it seems like Detroit should be focusing on the linebacker position with this pick. Apparently Williams had some off the field issues at ‘Bama, but he’s being compared to Raiders’ (and former WVU) pass rusher Bruce Irvin, so we know a team will be willing to roll the dice. Putting a guy with a history of marijuana & firearms arrests in Detroit…what could possibly go wrong??

 

54     Miami Dolphins

Gareon Conley – CB – Ohio St.

I really like Miami’s offensive. However, despite a line that includes Ndamukong Suh & Cameron Wake and the presence of linebackers Kiko Alonso & Lawrence Timmons I still think the defense needs some work.

 

55     New York Giants

T.J. Watt – LB – Wisconsin

The G-Men added their next great tight end in Round 1, so now I think they’ll tinker with the defense a bit. If TJ is even half as good as his brother JJ this will be a steal.

 

56     Oakland Raiders

Joe Mixon – RB – Oklahoma

The Raiders added a cornerback in Round 1, so I feel like this might be a good spot for a curveball. I’m sure DeAndre Washington will be given every opportunity to win the starting job, and IF Adrian Peterson is brought in that adds some depth, but Mixon is rising up many draft boards and he’s just the kind of controversial player the Raiders have always taken a chance on. Wow…Peterson & Mixon in the same backfield?? Wrap your head around that.

 

57     Houston Texans

Dorian Johnson – G – Pitt

Whomever ends up being the quarterback will need a deep & talented offensive line in front of them. 

 

58     Seattle Seahawks

Larry Ogunjobi – DT – Charlotte

What do you get a team that has everything?? In this case I think beefing up the interior of the defensive line is a smart move.

 

59     Kansas City Chiefs

Jarrad Davis – LB – Florida

The Chiefs didn’t do a whole lot in free agency besides signing CJ Spiller to replace the departed Jammal Charles at running back. I feel like they need to add some depth to the pass rush, especially with Tamba Hali being 33 years old.

 

60     Dallas Cowboys

Kevin King – CB – Washington

Dallas has to continue rebuilding their defense. Period.

 

61     Green Bay Packers

Dalvin Tomlinson – DT – Alabama

The Pack replaced departed running back Eddie Lacy in the first round, so now they can turn their attention to the defense. Tomlinson would be the sixth ‘Bama player taken in the first 61 picks…about 10% of the draft thus far. I don’t know if that’s any kind of record, but it sure is impressive.

 

62     Pittsburgh Steelers

Carl Lawson – DE – Auburn

In the first round my Steelers replenished a depleted linebacker corps. They added a couple of nice complementary pieces in free agency, and I’m sure they’ll take the best player available here. That might just be Lawson, who has drawn comparisons to Dwight Freeney. He’s battled injuries at the collegiate level, so where he lands will be largely dependent on medical evaluations.

 

63     Atlanta Falcons

Josh Jones – S – North Carolina St.

In Round 1 the Falcons addressed secondary issues that cost them the Super Bowl. They might want to consider doubling up just to be sure.

 

64     New England Patriots

Roderick Johnson – OT – Florida St.

The Super Bowl champs finally get to make a selection, although I really don’t know how they could improve, especially after trading for receiver Brandin Cooks, signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore away from Buffalo, & getting defensive end Kony Ealy from Carolina. I suppose refining the offensive line to protect the ageless Tom Brady wouldn’t be a bad move.

 

 

 

Round 3

 

65     Cleveland Browns

Desmond King – S- Iowa

 

66     San Francisco 49ers

Duke Riley – LB – LSU

 

67     Chicago Bears

Sidney Jones – CB – Washington

 

68     Jacksonville Jaguars

Jake Butt – TE – Michigan

 

69     Los Angeles Rams

JuJu Schuster – WR – USC

 

70     New York Jets

Quincy Wilson – CB – Florida

 

71     Los Angeles Chargers

Brad Kaaya – QB – Miami (FL)

 

72     New England Patriots (from Carolina Panthers)

Montravius Adams – DT – Auburn

 

73     Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Orlosky – C – West Virginia

 

74     Baltimore Ravens (from Philadelphia Eagles)

Vincent Taylor – DT – Oklahoma St.

 

75     Buffalo Bills

Antonio Garcia – OT – Troy

 

76     New Orleans Saints

Nathan Peterman – QB – Pitt

 

77     Arizona Cardinals

Rasul Douglas – CB – West Virginia

 

78     Baltimore Ravens

Tarell Basham – DE – Ohio

 

79     Minnesota Vikings

Isaac Asiata – G – Utah

 

80     Indianapolis Colts

Marcus Williams – S – Utah

 

81     Washington Redskins

Eddie Jackson – S – Alabama

 

82     Denver Broncos

Evan Engram – TE – Mississippi

 

83     Tennessee Titans

Cooper Kupp – WR – Eastern Washington

 

84     Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Elijah Qualls – DT – Washington

 

85     Detroit Lions

Ahkello Witherspoon – CB – Colorado

 

86     Minnesota Vikings

Will Holden – OT – Vanderbilt

 

87     New York Giants

Jaleel Johnson – OT – Iowa

 

88     Oakland Raiders

Tyus Bowser – LB – Houston

 

89     Houston Texans

Ryan Anderson – LB – Alabama

 

90     Seattle Seahawks

Chad Wheeler – OT – USC

 

91     Kansas City Chiefs

Jalen Myrick – CB – Minnesota

 

92     Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Walker – DE – Florida St.

 

93     Green Bay Packers

Cameron Sutton – CB – Tennessee

 

94     Pittsburgh Steelers

Dede Westbrook – WR – Oklahoma

 

95     Atlanta Falcons

Carlos Watkins – DT – Clemson

 

96     New England Patriots

D’Onta Foreman – RB – Texas

 

*97    Miami Dolphins

Devonte Fields – DE – Louisville

 

*98    Carolina Panthers

Ryan Switzer – WR – North Carolina

 

*99    Philadelphia Eagles (from Baltimore Ravens)

Derek Rivers – DE – Youngstown St.

 

*100 Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Danny Isidora – G – Miami (FL)

 

*101 Denver Broncos

Samaje Perine – RB – Oklahoma

 

*102 Seattle Seahawks

David Sharpe – OT – Florida

 

*103 New Orleans Saints (from Cleveland via New England)

Marlon Mack – RB – South Florida

 

*104 Kansas City Chiefs

Josh Dobbs – QB – Tennessee

 

*105  Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner – RB – Pitt

 

*106 Seattle Seahawks

Brian Allen – CB – Utah     

 

*107 New York Jets

Isaiah Ford – WR – Virginia Tech

Winning & Musing…..Volume 4.16

Howdy. Holy cow have we had a lot going on in the sports world. It’s times like the last few weeks that I really feel bad for those who, for whatever reason, never became sports fans. They’re really missing out on so much fun. Of course they miss out on an abundance of frustration & heartbreak as well, so there is that. Anyway, let’s roll.

 

 

 

 

 

lebroncavsA year & a half ago I said that Lebron James would “have the Cavs in the playoffs this summer and in serious championship contention next year.” He exceeded my expectations by leading them to the NBA Finals in 2015 before ultimately losing to the Golden St. Warriors. And this year he finally took them all the way. In a series rematch from last season the Cleveland Cavaliers fell behind against the Warriors 3-1 before staging an epic comeback and winning a fantastic Game 7 to earn the trophy. I am sincerely happy for the fine folks in Cleveland, OH, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that between the Browns winning the NFL championship in 1964 and the Cavs winning the NBA title this year…a drought of 52 years and over 200 major professional sports seasons…the City of Champions Pittsburgh, PA won 13 championships among the Steelers, Pirates, & Penguins. Sorry…I couldn’t resist.

 

 

Speaking of the Penguins, kudos to them for winning their 4th Stanley Cup in the last quarter century. As predicted the series did Pittsburgh_Penguins7go seven games. I need to correct an error I made in the last edition of W&M. As it turns out the last several games of the finals were played on NBC proper, as it should be. I’m not sure what the deal was with those first couple of games being shown only on the NBC Sports Network.

 

 

skipFinally our long national nightmare that was the Skip Bayless era at ESPN is over. Bayless is taking his shtick to Fox Sports 1, where I am sure they’ll pair him up with some other obnoxious character and try to duplicate the First Take debate formula. Personally I won’t be watching. How Bayless has any credibility whatsoever remaining is a complete mystery since he has been demonstrably wrong the vast majority of the time in the past decade. I am quite sure that FS1 will see a spike in ratings upon his debut, but I’d be shocked if the honeymoon lasted more than a few months.

 

 

Now that the NBA Finals have concluded the chess match that is the offseason can begin, nbawith the first move being the NBA Draft in a couple of days. It isn’t nearly as entertaining as the NFL Draft, but I suppose I’ll watch. As for free agency, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Kevin Durant will leave Oklahoma City and end up with…the Los Angeles Lakers. You heard it here first.

 

 

usopenAdmittedly I lost a good bit of interest in the U.S. Open Golf Championship once my man Phil Mickelson missed the cut. This was supposed to be Lefty’s year to win the only major that has eluded him, the one in which he has finished second a record 6 times, but it just didn’t happen. That being said, I think the future of golf is going to be just fine. The final round of the U.S. Open was great theater, although it could’ve ended up being quite messy. Early on in his round leader Dustin Johnson had a situation where his ball appeared to move ever so slightly. A few holes later USGA officials informed Johnson that he may or may not incur a one shot penalty. He had to play the last several holes…of a major…not knowing exactly what his score may be. What?? Seriously?? How freakin’ stupid!! It’d be like telling an NFL team that a 2nd quarter touchdown may or may not count once a potential pass interference call is reviewed after the game, or an MLB team that a 4th inning grand slam may or may not have really been a foul ball and that a final decision would be made after the last out of the contest. Of course that would NEVER happen!!!!Decisions in most major sports might be endlessly analyzed & questioned after the fact, but atleast there is a damn djdecision. I know golf is a quirky game, where players are expected to self-report any rules violations and must accurately keep score themselves or else be disqualified, but the situation that occurred at the U.S. Open was shameful. Despite what purists may think there needs to be serious reflection about how to avoid such debacles in the future. Thankfully Johnson kept his cool and won by more than one stroke, leaving the outcome beyond doubt. Otherwise a great game could have suffered a terrible and 100% preventable stain on its legacy.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 3.16

Greetings sports fans. What’s up?? I hope everyone is enjoying the early delights of summer and that those pesky cicadas aren’t annoying you too much. Just think…once we get thru the next few weeks we won’t have to hear that awful noise until 2033. By that time I’ll be 60 years old!! Okay…I just freaked myself out a little. Let’s talk about sports.

 

 

 

 

 

hockeyGuess what y’all…I’ve actually been watching hockey!! No one is more surprised than me. As of this writing my Pittsburgh Penguins are up 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals. Two of the games have gone into overtime. I was really hoping the Pens would go up 3-0 which would essentially mean it’s over, but now I am leaning toward my original assessment, which is that this thing could go the full seven games. It’s a shame that the championship series of a major professional sport is being shown mostly on a marginal channel like the NBC Sports Network, which is in 12 million less homes than ESPN, 10 million less than Fox Sports 1, & a whopping 30 million less than NBC itself which is where the games would be broadcast if it were football, baseball, or basketball. There are multiple things that could possibly be blamed for hockey’s lack of popularity in America, but that’s a broader topic than I want to address at the moment. For now let’s just say that I am hooked and will be watching this series. Go Pens!!

 

 

So I guess we have a Summer Olympics coming up?? They are scheduled to get underway in Rio (that’s in Brazil for those that slept thru geography class) in early Rio2016August. Numerous medical professionals have opined that the event should be postponed or relocated because of the Zika virus, which is apparently a rather big issue in South America, but we all know that there is way too much money involved for that. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. As for the games themselves, I am really only interested in basketball. The United States hasn’t announced their 12 man roster yet, but it is anticipated to include guys like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, & Lebron James. Nothing less than another gold medal will be acceptable.

 

 

CCI’m not quite sure what to say about the death of Cassius Clay. He is practically being deified by the sports talking heads and the general drive-by media. Boxing has never really been in my wheelhouse and the fabled career of “The Greatest” was stumbling to a pitiable close by the time I even became conscious of his existence. Inside the ring he was an impressive 56-5 over a couple of decades, won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, and captured professional boxing’s heavyweight title three times. Outside the ring he was doing pro wrestling style promos years before pro wrestling gained pop culture relevance in the 1980s. Cassius Clay might have been successful had he simply been a great boxer, but being a charismatic entertainer is what elevated his status to legendary. The most controversial aspect of his life began in the early 60’s when he became an adherent of Malcolm X and converted to Islam, which led to him “conscientiously objecting” to the Vietnam War and refusing to serve in the armed forces. I sincerely believe in freedom of religion, but my faith tells me that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, & the Life and that no man shall come to the Father except through Him. It also annoys me greatly that when a Muslim uses their faith as an excuse to protest something they are applauded for it, but Christians are not afforded the same respect. I don’t hate Cassius Clay. I feel bad for him. I do not believe that Islam is a “religion of peace”. History…especially in recent years…reveals that idea to be absurd. Yet I don’t believe that all Muslims are bad people. Cassius Clay chose to follow Malcolm X and elected to “dodge” the draft. He paid a price for it, losing three prime years of his career. Later on he gained the sympathy of the masses while fighting a courageous & debilitating battle against Parkinson’s Disease, an awful condition no one should have to endure, and became a kind of goodwill ambassador, even traveling to Iraq & Afghanistan to negotiate the release of American hostages. What’s done is done and Cassius Clay is gone now. I don’t revile him for his choice of religion or anti-American rhetoric in regards to Vietnam, but neither will I participate in hoisting him up on a big ol’ heroic pedestal. My prayers are with his family & friends.

 

 

The NBA Finals are underway as well. As many people expected it’s all come down to the defending champion Golden State Warriors vs. Lebron James and his NBA-FInals-2Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors are up 1-0 at the moment and looked pretty dominant in that first game, but I am hoping this series goes 6 or 7 games too. It would be a huge letdown to everyone outside of Oakland, CA if it is a brief & one-sided sweep.

 

 

espnWhat in the world is going on at The Mothership in Bristol?? Not only are they losing noted blowhard Skip Bayless to Fox Sports 1, but now Mike Tirico is jumping ship & heading to NBC, while ESPN original Chris Berman is reportedly being phased out after his contract expires at the end of the year. I really couldn’t care less what happens with Bayless. He joins fellow windbag Colin Cowherd at FS1, taking that network from its current status of “irrelevant” to “avoid like The Plague”. Hey FS1…if the goal is to increase ratings you’re doing it wrong. Conversely, Tirico seems like a decent dude and he’s great at what he does. I am assuming that his presence will make it easier for NBC to gently push 71 year old Al Michaels into retirement without Sunday Night Football missing a beat. Sean McDonough, a decent enough play-by-play man, is now going to be doing play-by-play on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, but that show is doomed as long as Jon Gruden…the guy who once said that “any team that passes on Johnny Manziel will regret it”…is doing color commentary. He makes John Madden & Charles Barkley look like Woodward & Bernstein. It may seem like Berman is ancient because he’s been there since ESPN’s launch, but he’s only 61 years old. His shtick has worn a little thin with some, but it feels a bit premature to put him out to pasture. Of course Berman’s eventual departure is only part of ESPN’s makeover of its NFL coverage, as they’ve already ousted Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Ray Lewis, & Keyshawn Johnson in favor of new faces Randy Moss, Matt Hasselbeck, & Charles Woodson. Those feel like positive, much needed changes.

Redskins, Monkeys, & Big Butts: A Recrimination of The United States of the Offended

Any citizen that has spent much time in The Manoverse knows a couple of things: I’m not easily offended and I despise political correctness. So it was with beleaguered bemusement that I observed a few recent incidents that had people talking…or stirring the pot…take your pick.

 

Washington_Redskins_logoThe first issue is a tried & true chestnut that ESPN loves to trot out periodically, but this time they had a reason. A new Washington Post poll came out indicating that 90% of Native Americans do not find the moniker of the NFL’s Washington, DC franchise…aka the Redskins…offensive. 80% don’t even believe it’s an issue worth discussing. That jives not only with what I’ve been saying for awhile but numerous other polls that have been conducted thru the years. I made sure to tune in to my favorite ESPN shows to get their reaction, and unfortunately it was mostly predictable…with one notable exception. You see, for some reason, mindless, spineless, weasely liberals HATE the majority. The mantra that I have heard repeatedly over the years about the Redskins in relation to these polls is that if 10% or even just ONE person…in the entire country…is offended by it then it must be changed!! It’s the same mentality that has gotten us into the quagmire created by “LGBT” issues, wherein the majority has been silenced in deference to a miniscule number of individuals. Screw the majority!! What most people want doesn’t matter!! We shall kowtow to the vocal minority!! To my utter amazement PTI’s Michael Wilbon, though he disagrees on a personal level, seemed to wave the white flag. He basically said that this latest poll pretty much shuts down the debate for the time being, and he is absolutely right. It should end the argument forever because a) it’s a media driven, completely fabricated controversy meant to stir the aforementioned pot, and b) the Washington Redskins have been in existence for 84 years and if the nickname was rubberstamped in 1932 and not changed in 1952, ’72, ’92, or 2002 then why bother now. About that last point I know what you’re saying: “But…but…times have changed!!”. We’ll get to that idiotic premise. Be patient.

 

adamsStaying in the world of sports, you may or may not know that the NBA Playoffs are going on right now. In the immediate aftermath cosellof a surprising victory over the defending champion Golden State Warriors an interview was conducted with Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams. During the interview a relieved, happy, exhausted Adams gave props to the athletic skills of his opponents, calling them “quick little monkeys”. Football fans of a certain age may recall that in 1983 Howard Cosell said of Redskins wide receiver Alvin Garrett “That little monkey gets loose doesn’t he??” during a Monday Night Football game, an incident that is often mixed up with a 1973 MNF telecast during which Cosell was showing highlights of the previous day’s games and said of another Redskins WR, Herb Mulkey, “Look at that little monkey run!”. At any rate, when Cosell abruptly left MNF after the 1983 season an urban legend grew giving the impression that he was pushed out in part due to his “offensive” comment. The truth is that Howard Cosell not only used monkey as a term of endearment for his own grandchildren but had also used it to describe athletes both black and white on multiple occasions. At any rate, Steven Adams was given a pass by the talking heads because not only was it obvious to anyone with a brain that there were no racist intentions, but also because he hails from New Zealand and has only been in America for a few years. His ignorance of our culture was thought to be a reasonable excuse…another train of thought to which we’ll circle back soon.

 

The third situation is a bit out of my wheelhouse but it illustrates the point so we’ll go for it. Alleged actress Blake Lively, whose only work I am vaguely familiar with is the delightful 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram. The marginally lovely Ms. Lively, who is married to the guy who just played Deadpool, is apparently pregnant but the weight has mostly gone to her booty for now. Yes I just used the term “booty”. I’m hip like that. Anyway, she captioned the pic “L.A. face with an Oakland booty” (because she’s hip too), which are lyrics from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 90’s hit Baby Got Back. Now let’s be honest…anyone who has utilized social media for longer than five minutes has probably used song lyrics as a status update, Tweet, or photo caption. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everybody has done it. Harmless fun, right?? Well, except to the PC Police, who see racism in EVERYTHING and wouldn’t know fun if it sat on their laps, fed them grapes, & sang a song.

 

As mentioned, one of the reasons the Steven Adams remark was quickly forgiven is because he isn’t from America. He doesn’t know our ways or understand what we mirror-1might consider offensive. So has anyone considered the possibility that we may want to look at our collective selves in the mirror?? Maybe we are doing it wrong. If people in New Zealand don’t find the term monkey offensive then why do we?? If the Washington Redskins was a good enough name in 1932 and even today 90% of the population the name could conceivably offend aren’t offended by it then what is the freakin’ problem?? If a gal with a big butt references a song about gals with big butts then what exactly is the issue?? It was common knowledge three decades ago that Howard Cosell meant nothing offensive with his comments and often used the word monkey in a positive way. Yet here we are talking about it because people are under the impression that Cosell was an evil racist.

 

americaProgressive types constantly use the thought that “times have changed” as a defense for their madness, but I have two questions. First, is that really true? And secondly, if yes then how much and in what way?? Certainly there are thought processes and social norms that evolve…sometimes in a positive way. Women have a lot more freedoms & rights than they did a century ago, which is wonderful. Slavery ended after The Civil War but it took another century after that for black folks to achieve legitimate legal equality. I don’t know why it takes so long for obvious things to become obvious, but clearly it sometimes does. That being said, my issue is that this is the United States of America. The greatest nation on Earth…or atleast Americans used to believe that. We used to tackle big issues. We fought world wars in defense of big ideas like democracy & freedom. We ended slavery. We got women the right to vote and do any other thing they decide they want to do. We welcomed tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free because they came here wanting a better life and happily assimilated and embraced American culture. We went to space and walked on the moon. We invented light bulbs, airplanes, jazz music, baseball, & The Internet. But now?? We indulge a small percentage of the population who wants to argue about the name of a sports team. We take wholesome TV shows like The Dukes of Hazzard off the air because a handful of people are offended by a flag. We stoke the fires of a national debate about bathrooms to pander to an infinitesimal percentage of mentally ill people who need treatment not absolution. We are offended by innocuous uses of language that clearly have no malevolent intent. We seem all too willing to sacrifice fundamental rights that the Founding Fathers deemed bedrock principles of the nation. To the extent that “times have changed” I’m not at all sure that they have changed for the better. We tell ourselves that these modifications are positive because we’re more educated, informed, open-minded, multicultural, & inclusive now than ever before, but that’s a bunch of poppycock. There is a thin line between awareness and hypersensitivity and that line gets crossed more & more every day.

 

1The media only exacerbates the problem. Journalists don’t look at their jobs as simply reporting the news. They believe it is their responsibility to shape the narrative. They view themselves as crusaders fighting for the little guy, for those not in a position to help themselves,thus their disdain for the majority. They prefer to be champions for the minority, to be the voice of the voiceless. Isn’t it ironic that…despite claims to the contrary…it is often liberals who side with the 1%, atleast on some issues.

 

The fact is that most people are decent folks. Very few are looking to harm anyone literally or figuratively. Redskins is just the name of a football team, its original focus-glassintent was to honor Native Americans…not insult them. Monkeys are cute little animals, imagery rarely used for racially insensitive purposes. Song lyrics are just that, and if one has a problem with the words then target the songwriter, not fans of the music who innocently regurgitate those words. The world would be a much better place, and more specifically America might get back to achieving great things, if everyone would step off their high horse, get their priorities straight, and focus on what’s really important.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 4.15

Greetings friends & fellow sports fans. I have a few things I have to get off my chest. You know how it is, right?? We just want to sit back, relax, & enjoy the games, but sometimes there are destructive forces that seem to prevent that from happening. It probably has a lot to do with too much media. There are too many opinionated talking heads with too many hours to fill, and a plethora of Internet sites that have to have more content than highlights & box scores. What we end up with is information & analysis overload that is kind of a buzzkill. At any rate, allow me to kvetch a bit and let’s get some feedback going. Your opinions matter too.

 

 

 

 
cowherdVictory!!!! I mentioned in the last edition of W&M that I had turned my back on ESPN’s Colin Cowherd after he’d gone too far with his insufferable assclown shtick and made some disparaging comments about pro wrestling fans. At the time I had somewhat jokingly initiated a #boycottCowherd movement on Twitter, which had prompted a surprisingly vociferous response on both sides of the issue. However, even in the midst of my anger & disdain I said that “I’m not crazy enough to think that one man can take down an entire TV show”. But now…just a few months later…Colin Cowherd is gone from ESPN!! To be fair he had already announced his impending departure from The Mothership in Bristol so he could move on to Fox Sports 1, but he didn’t even get to finish whatever time he had left before ESPN threw him off the air. The funny thing is, after seeing the clip, I almost kinda sorta understand what he was trying to say about Dominicans & baseball and found those remarks much less malicious than what he had said about wrestling fans. I’m no fan of ESPN’s social agenda and I despise political correctness & how so many people are perpetually offended, but I have to say that I am so happy that Cowherd was fired. Agenda issues aside, moving from ESPN to Fox Sports 1 is like trading in a Camaro for a minivan, and it couldn’t have happened to a more spiteful moron than Cowherd.

 

 

I’m not trying to be negative, but I also have to express disgust for NASCAR, something I really liked just a few nascarweeks ago. It was certainly below football, baseball, & basketball on my fandom scale, but it was above hockey and in a dead heat with golf. However, after both their “most popular driver” Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who is an insult to his father’s name) and the suit that runs the sport both came out against the Confederate battle flag, thus taking a dump all over the heritage of the very people on whose backs the sport had been built, I decided that I don’t need NASCAR in my life any longer and haven’t watched a race since. NASCAR has grown by leaps & bounds in the past two decades, evolving from a niche “southern” sport to running races in California, Michigan, Kansas, Las Vegas, & New Hampshire, among others. That’s fine. Kudos. But my father taught me to never forget where you come from, and the truth is that NASCAR owes everything to the American South…places like Atlanta, Bristol (TN), Richmond, Darlington (SC), The Carolinas, Talledega (AL), & Daytona. It all started there, and if it wasn’t for those loyal fans there’d be no big money TV contracts, no commercials & other outside opportunities for guys like Dale Jr., & nowhere near the revenue that the business now generates. Shame on you NASCAR!! Shame on you for turning your backs on the people that allowed you to become what you are. Shame on you for kneeling & bowing to political correctness. The funny thing is, the powers that be haven’t had the cahonas (thus far) to outright ban the flag, and from what I understand fans have continued to defiantly show up to the tracks flying it proudly. Good for them. As for anyone else who remains a fan, I won’t discourage your continued interest. It’s a free country (for now) and you have the right to spend your time & discretionary income any way you wish, but I’m out. I just can’t support blatant hypocrisy.

 

 

PNCI had an opportunity a few weeks ago to finally attend my first game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The circumstances weren’t ideal (it’s a long story) so I didn’t have time to explore like I wanted, but it is a beautiful stadium. The game I was at went 14 innings and the Pirates thankfully pulled off a dramatic victory, which was super cool. Anyone in that area who has even a mild interest in baseball or are just looking for a fun evening should check the place out. However, I must say that, for the most part, I think I am just as satisfied to stay home and watch games on TV. I’m a fervent homebody, and kind of like having commentary, replay, & my own (cheap) food to eat.

 

 

Even as an ardent Tom Brady/New England Patriots hater I am as sick as everyone else of hearing about bradyDeflateGate. For the first time EVER I have to give a tip of the ol’ cap to NFL Commissioner Fidel Goodell for upholding Brady’s original 4 game suspension. It says all one needs to know about Brady that, unlike every other NFL player that gets suspended then appeals that suspension before ultimately taking their punishment like a man, The Golden Boy is apparently going to take this thing to court like the entitled diva that he is. I must admit that the dark side of me (we all have one) wouldn’t mind seeing Brady get to play in the first game of the season against my Pittsburgh Steelers so their defense might have the opportunity to sideline his whiny ass for longer than four games.
Yeah…I just went there!!

 

 

I am fully aware that pro wrestling isn’t an actual sport (we’re not as dumb as Cowherd thinks we are), so this probably doesn’t quite fit here, but…..
As a fan of Hulk Hogan since childhood I was disappointed to hear his racist remarks that recently became fodder for public discourse. I’ve known for awhile that the character Hogan played while WWF champion in the 80’s wasn’t a true reflection of the real man, aka Terry Bollea. The fact that he’s kind of a jackwagon isn’t all that shocking. That being said, I disagree with WWE cleansing him from their history. As with the Confederate flag issue, I find it disturbing to just erase the past as if it never happened. WWE doesn’t want Hogan to appear hulkanymore on their TV shows?? Fine. That’s understandable and a wise business decision. Hogan can’t wrestle anymore anyway…he’s got more artificial parts than one of his action figures. Fans have moved on. But the fact is that Hulk Hogan is a huge reason why professional wrestling became so popular 30 years ago and retains atleast some of that popularity today. There are, of course, other legends that helped build the business. Bruno Sammartino & Andre the Giant preceded Hogan. Ric Flair was Hogan’s peer in the 1980’s. Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, & John Cena were successors to Hogan’s throne. However, it is Hulk Hogan that was & is the cornerstone of the industry. He obviously has no future with WWE or any other company, and that is his own fault. The past though should be left alone.

2015 NFL Mock Draft

nfl-footballI’ve been debating on whether or not to even bother with a mock draft this year, but with just over 24 hours to go until the real deal I just can’t resist. I’m just doing a two round mock because after that we’d get into players I’ve never heard of and I really wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about. The picks you’ll see here are based on a hybrid approach of what I would do, what I think teams need to do, & what I think is most likely to actually occur. I have no inside knowledge about salary cap issues, contract negotiations, or what players may or may not do or where they may go in the future. The truth is that the NFL Draft is somewhat of a crapshoot. Tim Tebow was a first round draft choice, while Tom Brady lasted until the sixth round. In the same year that Kurt Warner went undrafted Heath Shuler was selected 3rd overall. It may be random, but it’s fun randomness. I’ll watch. You’ll watch. It’ll be a good weekend. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Round 1

1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Jameis Winston (Florida St.)
If it were me I’d trade out of this spot for a boatload of picks. I’m just not a Jameis Winston Tampa_Bay_Buccaneers_Helmetfan. While I think it is too harsh to compare him to Jamarcus Russell, I do believe that Winston is more trouble than he is worth. Guys like him always have a posse, and I think it’d be beneficial for him to get as far away from his posse as possible. He’s too much of a celebrity in Florida and needs distance from any environment that may feed into his sense of entitlement. Unfortunately for all involved that’s not going to happen. No one is going to offer the Bucs enough for this pick, and the suits there will roll the dice. Hopefully the 275 miles between Tampa & Tallahassee will be enough for Winston to stay out of trouble.

 

 

2 Washington Redskins (via trade w/ Tennessee Titans)
LB/DE Dante Fowler (Florida)
It’s way too soon for the Titans to give up on 2014 sixth round pick Zach Mettenberger, who I Washington_Redskins_logothink can be a solid NFL quarterback. I’d trade this pick, and I think Tennessee will. The question is to who?? Philly is probably too far down at #20 to jump into this spot. Cleveland has the ammo to make the swap, but I think they are likely to play it safe this year after the botched pick of Johnny Football in 2014. The Jets?? Maybe. St. Louis?? It’s unlikely. There’s been a lot of talk about San Diego swapping Philip Rivers for this pick, but I’d be surprised if they actually pulled the trigger. At the end of the day I think it is extremely possible that a team jumps into this spot…but NOT for a quarterback.

 

 

3 Jacksonville Jaguars
LB/DE Vic Beasley (Clemson)
The Jags reportedly were set to take Fowler, but the trade messes up the detail. No worries Jacksonville_Jaguarsthough. Beasley is just as good…maybe better.

 

 

4 New York Giants (via trade w/ Oakland Raiders)
DT Leonard Williams (USC)
The Raiders are said to be willing to trade out of this spot, and so they shall. The GiantsGiants Logo braintrust will sprint to the podium to choose Williams.

 

 

5 Tennessee Titans (via trade w/ Washington Redskins)
DE Bud Dupree (Kentucky)
So the Titans traded down and Marcus Mariota is still on the board. What to do?? They could Tennessee_Titans_Helmettrade down again and amass even more draft picks, but let’s not get crazy. They’ve had their fun and now it’s time to get down to business. Dupree might be just a bit of a reach here, but I think the gamble just might pay off.

 

 

6 New York Jets
RB Todd Gurley (Georgia)
I predicted before he was even drafted that Geno Smith would be a bust and thus far that Jets-Pin-Prohas been the case. However, I think it is way too early to give up on him, especially when Mariota is far from a slam dunk choice. And while the receiving tandem of Brandon Marshall & Eric Decker hardly strikes fear in opposing defensive backs they are good enough that the Jets don’t have to spend a 1st round pick on a wideout. Conversely, a backfield of Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, & Stevan Ridley just ain’t gonna cut it, though they do provide quality depth that will enable the Jets to ease Gurley into action coming off an ACL tear during his junior season at Georgia.

 

 

7 Chicago Bears
WR Kevin White (West Virginia)
Jay Cutler is the most overrated quarterback in the NFL, and folks are starting to figure that chicago-bears-logo13out. Does that mean the Bears jump on Mariota here?? I don’t think so. The insufferable Cutler would be even more gloomy than usual if he had to train his replacement, and that wouldn’t be good for anybody. So I think the Bears make the safe choice and bolster their receiving corps.

 

 

8 Philadelphia Eagles (via trade w/ Atlanta Falcons)
QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
A few things are in play here. Both pass rushers that the Falcons coveted…Fowler & philadelphia_eagles-3715Beasley…are off the board. Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly is foaming at the mouth while simultaneously dancing a jig because Mariota is still on the board. #2 was too high for Philly to leap to, but #8 is more palatable. And the Browns are just a few picks away. So at this point Kelly practically has an orgasm as he lands the player he wanted all along.

 

 

9 Oakland Raiders (via trade w/ NY Giants)
WR Amari Cooper (Alabama)
The Bears made this an easy choice for Oakland.raiders

 

 

10 St. Louis Rams
OT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
The best player available also happens to be a position of need for the Rams. You gotta love St_Louis_Ramsit when things work out like that.

 

 

11 Minnesota Vikings
OT Andrus Peat (USC)
The Vikings have a plethora of needs, so they can go in a lot of different directions. There’s vikingshelmet1probably no one worth a team trading up for, so it is unlikely that Minnesota can trade out and stockpile extra picks. My philosophy is, when in doubt take a lineman.

 

 

12 Cleveland Browns
NT Danny Shelton (Washington)
As mentioned, I believe it is likely that the Browns will take the low key, safe approach this Cleveland_Browns_Helmetyear. Football teams are built in the trenches, and Shelton address a need.

 

 

13 New Orleans Saints
WR Devante Parker (Louisville)
Yes quarterback Drew Brees is 36 years old, but I don’t think the Saints are going to find his New-Orleans-Saints-Logo-244x300successor this year, especially in the first round. The best thing New Orleans can do is give Brees another weapon. They traded away tight end Jimmie Graham. Marques Colston is a solid receiver but has lost a step or two. Brandin Cooks…all 5ft.10, 189 lbs. of him…is a good slot receiver, but not really a true top tier guy. I think the powers-that-be in The Big Easy would be thrilled to see Parker slide this far.

 

 

14 Miami Dolphins
CB Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest)
Word on the street was that the Dolphins really like Gurley, but he is off the board. So now Miami_Dolphins_Helmetwhat?? The top three receivers are gone as well, and there isn’t another one worthy of this choice. Johnson has been steadily climbing draft boards across the land, and he would certainly upgrade Miami’s defensive backfield.

 

 

15 San Francisco 49ers
CB Trae Waynes (Michigan St.)
It seems like ‘Frisco lost half their defense in the past several months. They have been to 3 49ersout of the last 4 NFC title games and narrowly lost the Super Bowl just three years ago, but the 49ers are now in rebuilding mode. This pick has to be defense, and the best player available is Waynes.

 

 

16 Houston Texans
LB Eli Harold (Virginia)
This is a little bit of a reach, but needs are needs. The Texans’ defensive success revolves houston texans logo2heavily around whether or not Ja’daveon Clowney lives up to the hype. Why not make his task a bit easier??

 

 

17 San Diego Chargers
RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)
The Chargers’ suits will look like Usain Bolt taking this card to the podium.San_Diego_Chargers_Helmet3

 

 

18 Kansas City Chiefs
OT Ereck Flowers (Miami, FL)
It’s not a sexy pick, but anytime a team can upgrade their offensive line I think it is a good kc-chiefs-logochoice.

 

 

19 Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo)
TE Maxx Williams (Minnesota)
The Browns addressed the defensive line with their first choice. Now I think they need to Cleveland_Browns_Helmetreplace Jordan Cameron, who they lost in free agency. Whomever ends up at quarterback for Cleveland is going to need weapons. The top tier receivers are gone, but we know how valuable a solid pass catching tight end can be in the NFL. This is a pick that the Browns received from the Bills last year so Buffalo could move up and select receiver Sammy Watkins.

 

 

20 Atlanta Falcons (via trade w/ Philadelphia Eagles)
LB/DE Shane Ray (Missouri)
The Falcons land in this position after trading with the Eagles so Chip Kelly could go get falconsMarcus Mariota. I assume any such deal would include several other draft choices as well. At any rate, it works out great for Atlanta in this scenario, as Ray, a player once thought to be a potential Top 10 pick, tumbles a bit due to a foot injury, an unimpressive pro day, & an arrest for marijuana possession.

 

 

21 Cincinnati Bengals
OT La’el Collins (LSU)
The Bengals would have loved Shelton, but their in-state division rivals stole him away. Plan Cincinnati_Bengals_HelmetB…as always…is to add the best offensive lineman available.

 

 

22 Tennessee Titans (via trade w/ Pittsburgh Steelers)
OT TJ Clemmings (Pitt)
The Steelers could go in one of two directions…linebacker or defensive back. I like a third Tennessee_Titans_Helmetoption…trading down to stockpile an additional pick or two. The Titans should have some extra ammo after trading out of the #2 position, and they use it here to trade back into the first round. With that pick they solidify their offensive line. Not bad for a day’s work.

 

 

23 Detroit Lions
DT Malcolm Brown (Texas)
The Lions lost both Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh in free agency. They also signed Hali Detroit_Lions_HelmetNgota away from Baltimore, but he’s a bit long in the tooth. More help is necessary, and this is it.

 

 

24 Arizona Cardinals
LB Eric Kendricks (UCLA)
The Cards would have loved to snag a running back, but with Gurley & Gordon both off the cardinals-helmetboard there isn’t another tailback worth a first round pick. Kendricks fills a need and adds some youth to a defense that is getting a bit creaky.

 

 

25 Carolina Panthers
OT DJ Humphries (Florida)
The top priority in Carolina is keeping quarterback Cam Newton healthy so he can do that CarolinaPanthersthing that he does. To that end it is necessary for the Panthers to upgrade their offensive line.

 

 

26 Baltimore Ravens
WR Breshad Perriman (UCF)
The Ravens lost receiver Torrey Smith in free agency and Steve Smith is practically collectingravens_preview_flat social security. Perriman will benefit from the leadership of a veteran team as he transitions into the NFL.

 

 

27 Dallas Cowboys
DT Eddie Goldman (Florida St.)
Quarterback Tony Romo seems convinced that the Cowboys have a legitimate shot to win the dallas-cowboys-dallas-cowboys-15496395-1280-1024Super Bowl. I personally don’t see it. Replacing running back Demarco Murray with Darren McFadden is like trading in a 2015 Audi for a 2010 Kia, but I don’t think there is a running back on the board that has value at this spot. It seems likely that Dallas will look at beefing up the defense here, and Goldman has been the subject of much positive chatter lately.

 

 

28 Denver Broncos
OT Eric Fisher (Oregon)
Much like the situation in Carolina, the Broncos need to focus on keeping their quarterback broncos-4759upright. This is probably Peyton Manning’s last chance to win another Super Bowl, and he’s got plenty of weapons. The defense was addressed last year, so now it’s time to add some youth to the offensive line.

 

 

29 Indianapolis Colts
S Landon Collins (Alabama)
All the talking heads seem to agree that the Colts’ biggest need is at safety. Who am I to Indianapolis_Colts_Helmetdisagree??

 

 

30 Green Bay Packers
CB Marcus Peters (Washington)
Linebacker Julius Peppers is 35 years old, but it would be a reach to choose his successor Green_Bay_Packers_Helmetwith this pick. Instead I think the Packers upgrade their defensive backfield. Peters has had some off the field issues, but I don’t think it’ll be a big deal in the long run, especially if he ends up with the right organization.

 

 

31 New Orleans Saints (from Seattle)
G Laken Tomlinson (Duke)
The Saints have this pick after trading All-Pro tight end Jimmie Graham to the Seahawks. With new_orleans_saints-logo-in-gold-background24their first choice I gave them a receiver to soften the blow of Graham’s departure. In this spot I think they need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line. It’s not the kind of choice that excites fans, but it is a solid building block essential to championship teams.

 

 

32 New England Patriots
WR Nelson Agholor (USC)
What do you get the team that has everything?? Well, the truth is that the Patriots have rarely New_England_Patriots_Helmethad top notch talent, especially at the skill positions. It is head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, & tight end Rob Gronkowski that makes this engine purr like a well fed cat. Is there a receiver or running back with good value in this spot?? Maybe. Rumors are that Belichick is enamored with Agholor. I think it is a little bit of a reach, but if anyone can afford to roll the dice it’s the Pats.

 

 

 

Round 2

33 Pittsburgh Steelers (via trade w/ Tennessee Titans)
CB Byron Jones (Connecticut)
The Steelers find themselves in a very interesting situation. This pick almost certainly needs to be a cornerback, and there are 3 or 4 still available that seem like a good fit. My preference is for Jones because of his size & versatility. He can play at corner or fill in at safety, and may even be a good candidate to eventually move to safety full time.

 
34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE Randy Gregory (Nebraska)
The Bucs have their franchise quarterback, even if I’m not a huge proponent of the choice. Now they have other needs to address. Gregory was once touted as a Top 5 pick until it was discovered that he enjoys puffing the magic dragon a bit too much. In reality he probably won’t slide this far, but how ironic would it be if Tampa ended up with two problem children?? I’m not a militant anti-marijuana guy, but I believe it is an indicator of an attitude, the kind of person who doesn’t like rules and doesn’t believe they apply to him. Maybe it’s no big deal. Maybe Gregory ends up being a solid Pro Bowl player for a decade. But it’s also possible that his rebellious arrogance makes his stay in the NFL very short. Either way his talent makes him a steal in this round.

 

35 Oakland Raiders
S Damarious Randall (Arizona St.)
The Raiders added a top flight receiver in Round 1. I may be in the minority, but I am comfortable with Latavius Murray & Trent Richardson toting the rock, and I don’t think there is an offensive lineman with good value here. Randall has been the subject of increasing buzz, and the safety position is thin in this draft. Former Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson currently mans the position in Oakland, but he’s older than dirt.

 

36 Jacksonville Jaguars
RB Tevin Coleman (Indiana)
The Jags got a great pass rusher in the first round, so now they need to focus on the offense. Absolutely no one is sold on last year’s top pick, quarterback Blake Bortles, but he’s not going anywhere for now. Tight end is a position of strength, with both veteran Marcedes Lewis and newly signed free agent Julius Thomas in the fold. The receiving corps is young & talented. And then there is a ragtag group of running backs…Toby Gerhart, Denard Robinson, Storm Johnson, Bernard Pierce. Yikes. Both of this year’s elite tailbacks are off the board, but the second tier might produce a star or two. Coleman has been compared to Demarco Murray, and if that is true he’ll be another steal.

 

37 New York Jets
DT Arik Armstead (Oregon)
With Todd Gurley as the new feature back I assume new head coach Todd Bowles, a former defensive coordinator, will shift his concentration to the defense.

 

38 Washington Redskins
OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M)
The Redskins traded up in the first round to get a talented pass rusher. Now they upgrade on the other side of the ball.

 

 

39 Chicago Bears
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA)
The Bears have a new head coach in John Fox, and he’s a defensive guy. After getting a new elite receiver in Round 1 I think the focus will be on defense. Good luck pronouncing the name lol.

 

 

40 New York Giants
LB Shaq Thompson (Washington)
I love the Giants. They’re so damn unpredictable. One never knows whether they’ll finish bellow .500 or win the Super Bowl. That kind of randomness extends to the draft as well. They moved up in the first round for an elite defensive tackle, but I don’t think they’re done upgrading that side of the ball.

 

41 St. Louis Rams
C Cameron Erving (Florida St.)
The Rams have a variety needs and could go in a number of directions. Erving is a center but can also slide over to guard if needed. That kind of flexibility is quite valuable in the NFL. He’s the best player on the board at this point, and a tremendous value for St. Louis.

 

42 Atlanta Falcons
G AJ Cann (South Carolina)
The Falcons gambled in Round 1 and won big, getting a Top 5 player with the 20th pick. The pick here is a lot less stimulating, but it’s a necessary building block that’ll pay dividends for many years to come.

 

43 Cleveland Browns
QB Brett Hundley (UCLA)
The Browns played it safe with their two first round picks, helping the defense with a massive nose tackle and providing the offense with a talented tight end that’ll be valuable to whomever the quarterback may be. Now the question must be asked…who will that be?? I’m not a fan of Johnny Rehab as an NFL quarterback regardless of whether he’s able to become a better person off the field. He’s just too small and his style doesn’t fit the pro game. I don’t believe that there are any can’t miss signal callers in this draft…not even Winston or Mariota. Having said that, I think Cleveland has to venture out on a limb here. Hundley is intelligent, articulate, & mature. He probably won’t start as a rookie, but with some good coaching he could become the guy in a year or two.

 

44 New Orleans Saints
CB Jalen Collins (LSU)
The Saints had two first round picks and added a top flight receiver as well as depth to the offensive line. Now what?? Well, for a team that appears to be solid across the board despite a 7-9 record in 2014, I think the “best player available” approach is probably apropos. In this case that’s Collins, another guy who apparently likes the ganja. That issue knocks him into the second round, but at this point the value is undeniable.

 

45 Minnesota Vikings
CB Ronald Darby (Florida St.)
The Vikes have a decent defensive backfield, but cornerback Terence Newman is 36 years old. An opportunity to groom a successor cannot be passed up.

 

 

46 San Francisco 49ers
LB Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi St.)
The surprising retirements of both Patrick Willis & Chris Borland (after his rookie year!!) has depleted the 49ers linebacking corps. They need to replenish.

 

47 Miami Dolphins
WR Phillip Dorsett (Miami, FL)
Current Dolphins’ receivers include Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, & free agent signing Jordan Cameron at tight end. Not bad, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another guy to the mix, especially since the 31 year old Jennings is probably a short term solution at best.

 

 

48 San Diego Chargers
OT Donovan Smith (Penn St.)
The Chargers got their new franchise running back in Round 1, so now they can address other needs. There seems to be some questions regarding the offensive line. That new tailback will need some holes to run thru, right??

 

49 Kansas City Chiefs
WR Dorial Beckham (Oklahoma)
The Chiefs added Jeremy Maclin in free agency, but the rest of the receiving group consists of De’Anthony Thomas, Jason Avant, & Junior Hemingway. In 2014 Kansas City had zero…yes zero…touchdowns to wide receivers. Maclin helps, but it couldn’t hurt to add another weapon.

 

50 Buffalo Bills
LB Kwon Alexander (LSU)
Buffalo didn’t have a first round pick because of the 2014 trade with Cleveland that enabled them to move up for wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Rex Ryan is the new sheriff in town and he’s a defensive guy but there are a lot of holes to fill on this team before they can even dream of challenging the despicable Patriots for the division title. LeSean McCoy was an outstanding get in a trade with Philadelphia, and I really like newly signed tight end Charles Clay. Watkins & the enigmatic Percy Harvin are an interesting pair of receivers, but who will throw them the ball?? I think it is way too early to give up on quarterback EJ Manuel, but it might be beneficial for him to ride the pine for a year behind Matt Cassel. I’d be surprised if Ryan didn’t try to upgrade the defense with this pick, and pairing Alexander with defensive tackles Mario Williams & Marcell Dareus could be interesting.

 

51 Houston Texans
WR Jaelen Strong (Arizona St.)
Receiver Andre Johnson departed Houston in free agency. I have every confidence that DeAndre Hopkins can fill the void and become a great target, but there’s still a deficiency at the position. Strong is the best wideout on the board and fits the Texans’ needs just fine.

 

 

52 Philadelphia Eagles
CB Eric Rowe (Utah)
The Eagles signed cornerback Byron Maxwell, formerly of Seattle’s Legion of Boom, in free agency. They also have former Boomer Walter Thurmond, who spent the past couple of seasons with the NY Giants (although I’m not sure anyone really noticed). Despite all of that I still think Rowe is a good fit. He can move over to safety either situationally or in the long term, and that kind of versatility is more than beneficial in today’s NFL.

 

53 Cincinnati Bengals
NT Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma)
The Bengals grab an upgrade to eat space in the middle of their defense.

 

54 Detroit Lions
RB TJ Yeldon (Alabama)
I don’t believe for a second that Joique Bell & Theo Riddick are a good enough running back tandem. Yeldon would have a legit opportunity to step into the starting lineup from Day 1.

 

 

55 Arizona Cardinals
RB Jay Ajayi (Boise St.)
The Cardinals keep missing out on running backs!! They couldn’t get either Gurley or Gordon in the first round, and Yeldon would have been the perfect battering ram compliment to the smallish & oft injured Andre Ellington. That leaves Arizona in a tough position. But I just don’t think they can go thru another season with only the unreliable Ellington in the backfield.

 

56 Pittsburgh Steelers
CB Alex Carter (Stanford)
My Steelers traded out of the first round but were still able to address a tremendous need at cornerback with the initial pick of this second round. They are on the clock again and the temptation to add even more depth to a depleted secondary is strong. However, they also need to upgrade their pass rush. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them trade down again, but I’ll be conservative here. A lot depends on if the team’s braintrust have confidence that defensive linemen like Cameron Heyward, Daniel McCullers, & Stephon Tuitt are capable of stepping up and fulfilling their potential. There are several possible replacements with good value in this spot. I’m going to have faith that those young guys will come thru and reach just a little bit to fill a need. Would the Steelers actually go back-to-back corners?? It’s possible. Carter is another guy with the size & skills to fill in at safety, and that could be quite an asset to this particular team.

 

 

57 Carolina Panthers
RB Duke Johnson (Miami, FL)
Running back DeAngelo Williams departed in free agency, leaving Jonathan Stewart as the primary runner. I have no doubt he can fulfill that role just fine, but Johnson would be a nice complement and make this new tandem an significant upgrade over the old one.

 

58 Baltimore Ravens
DE Preston Smith (Mississippi)
The once mighty Ravens defense has looked human the past couple of years. They don’t yet require a total rehaul, but they need to start getting some younger guys into the mix.

 

59 Denver Broncos
DT Michael Bennett (Ohio St.)
I really like the Broncos defense, but I think they’ll still try to add some youth.

 

60 Dallas Cowboys
RB Jeremy Langford (Michigan St.)
Now might be the spot to get a running mate for Darren McFadden.

 

 

61 Indianapolis Colts
DE Mario Edwards Jr. (Florida St.)
Colts’ defensive ends Robert Mathis & Trent Cole are both way past 30. It’s time to get younger on the defensive line.

 

62 Green Bay Packers
LB Denzel Perryman (Miami, FL)
The Packers have to get younger at linebacker.

 

 

63 Seattle Seahawks
WR Sammie Coates (Auburn)
Hey look…the Seahawks are finally on the clock. What they really need is a head coach & offensive coordinator who won’t make boneheaded goal line play calls that cost the team the Super Bowl. Unfortunately a team can’t draft that. Anyway, despite the addition of tight end Jimmie Graham this team still has an unimpressive, non-descript group of wide receivers. That can change right now.

 

 

64 New England Patriots
RB Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska)
LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, & James White are the current running backs for New England. I think they can do better.

The 2014 Sammy Awards – Part I

SammyAwardBefore we get too far into 2015 it is time to take one final look back at the year that was 2014. Welcome to the 5th annual Sammy Awards, an introspective review of the previous year, as well as the world’s coolest imaginary awards show. I like to think of The Sammys as an eclectic remix of real awards shows…classier than anything MTV offers, not as pretentious as The Oscars & Grammys, and more engaging than the plethora of offerings (The SAGs, The Tonys, The ESPYs, The People’s Choice Awards, etc.) that no one watches. There are no acceptance speeches and many of the nominees aren’t even in the audience (for obvious reasons). The pace is brisk because shows like these tend to drag on and no one pays attention if the event lasts too long. I have always said that the show would be broadcast on HBO, but I would be open to options like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Show me the money!!

 

Please give a warm welcome to the host of the 2014 Sammy Awards. He is an actor, comedian, & veteran of hosting awards shows. He has won Emmys, crystalGrammys, Golden Globes, & Tonys in the course of a legendary career that has spanned four decades. It is a deeply sincere honor to introduce Billy Crystal!!

 

 

 

 

After an inspiringly funny song & dance number by our host it is time for our first award. Please welcome the cast of one of the most underrated sitcoms of the late 70’s/early 80’s…WKRP in Cincinnati. Give it up for Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Jan Smithers, Gary Sandy, Frank Bonner, & Richard Sanders.

hessmanandersonreidsmitherssandybonnersanders

 

 

 

 

And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Favorite TV Show

The Big Bang Theory
Not only does CBS continue to air original episodes (the show is currently in the midst of its 8th season), but TBS airs multiple repeats several nights per week. One can see how the series has evolved. I realize that there are some that believe that the quality of the writing has gone downhill and that the original nerd concept has somewhat softened into what is essentially a Friends rehash. That idea isn’t completely off base, but I feel like TBBT is still performing at a high level and is better than any sitcom that’s come down the pike in the past decade.

 

Gotham
I am a certified Batmaniac!! I love everything Batman. The concept of this show however is less about Batman and more about Gotham City as a lawless wasteland. It shows us James Gordon as a young, fresh, idealistic cop that is partnered with cynical veteran Harvey Bullock. It just so happens that the first case the duo is assigned is the murder of Thomas & Martha Wayne (aka Batman’s parents). Along the way we are given origin stories for some of Batman’s most infamous foes…Catwoman, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Riddler, & Two-Face (so far). We also meet young Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred, but they are in the background. In some ways Gotham is not unlike your typical police procedural…Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, etc…but with the framework of the Batman mythology, solid performances, & fantastic writing it stands out from the crowd. It is a bit too violent at times for my taste, but I can live with that if the stories are great.

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning
The four time winner of this award has secured another nomination. However, I must say that it’s been a tough year for Greeny & Golic. The sports world has had more than its fair share of controversial, sociopolitical issues and oftentimes while the guys are discussing these kinds of topics I find myself realizing that they lean pretty far to the left. I understand that it is tough for the talking heads on ESPN and elsewhere. They can’t just ignore stories like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Donald Sterling, or the Washington Redskins nickname. But I found myself changing the channel a lot in 2014. I’ve curtailed my exposure to politics and other kinds of stressfully provocative programming, and when that stuff seeps into my sports I find it even more important to seek alternative entertainment. The Mikes are still very funny & enjoyable much of the time, but I don’t find myself getting up early or otherwise going out of my way to watch the show like I did in the past. Maybe 2015 will provide less contentious sports stories and we can all go back to relaxing and having fun with Mike & Mike. I hope so anyway.

 

The Herd
Everything I said about Mike & Mike applies to Colin Cowherd as well. However, I do find Colin to be less…weasely…than Mike Greenberg and much more intellectually stimulating than Mike Golic. I don’t always agree with his opinions, but I respect the thought that goes into them and the articulate way in which they are presented. Cowherd can be a funny dude too, and he mostly does the show himself, with minimal help from guests.

 

Highly Questionable
Thankfully ESPN has settled on a time slot for this show (4pm on ESPN2), but I still feel like it gets pre-empted an awful lot. Hosts Dan Lebatard & Bomani Jones are acquired tastes that may not appeal to everyone, but I find them rather entertaining in small doses. And I love Dan’s father Gonzalo (aka Papi), a 70 year old Cuban immigrant who inexplicably reminds me of my 100 year old (if he were still alive) Italian grandfather. The show is briskly paced, which means the hosts don’t have time to dive too deep into controversy, a fact that serves them well (especially during a weird sports year like 2014). It’s informative & fun, kind of like a mid-afternoon snack that won’t curb your hunger completely but will tide you over until dinner.

 

Girl Meets World
I wasn’t the target demographic for the parent show Boy Meets World in the 1990’s, so I am most certainly not the audience this program is going for, which I am assuming is young teenage girls. However, I always liked Boy Meets World. It was the kind of lighthearted, family friendly show that ABC specialized in at the time (other examples: Step By Step, Perfect Strangers, Full House, & Family Matters). Girl Meets World re-introduces us to Cory & Topanga Matthews, who have now been married for 14 years and have two children. One of those kids…young teenager Riley…is the focus of the show. I think Girl Meets World…like its predecessor…will evolve & mature over time. There is a nostalgia factor right now, which is why people like me tune in. But that can’t last forever. The acting is a bit over-the-top, I don’t know what the heck Ben Savage did to his nose, & one can certainly tell the difference between a program airing on a broadcast network like ABC and a show like this that is on The Disney Channel. We’ll see where Girl Meets World is at in a year or two, but at the moment I am giving it a tentative thumbs up.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 
The Big Bang Theory. Kudos to TBS for the abundant re-runs. I have probably seen every episode of the show’s first seven seasons atleast 2 or 3 times. I can’t tellbbt you how many lonely & tedious evenings in the past year have been made tolerable by the presence of TBBT on my television. Oh I still like the new stuff that airs on CBS each Thursday evening, but it was the repeats that secured the award.

 

 
sternTo present our next award The Manofesto is pleased to welcome the world’s foremost “shock jock”. Give a warm welcome to radio & TV personality Howard Stern.  And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest Non-Sports Sports Story

Michael Sam
Defensive end Michael Sam is gay. Did you know that?? If you watched ESPN this past spring you surely did know since the entire cast of talking heads yapped about it every 5 minutes for months. Sam was the only 7th round draft choice I have ever seen that had cameras in his house when he got the phone call. And then all the way thru training camp with the St. Louis Rams his every move was reported by the press. Sadly the liberal narrative took a hit when he proved himself not good enough to play in the NFL. But then Jerry Jones came to the rescue and the Dallas Cowboys signed Sam to their practice squad. Eventually they released him too but by then the sports media had moved on and last I heard the young man was whining that he didn’t receive a fair shake because he is gay. Dear liberals: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it’s no big deal when a Democrat manwhore President cheats on his wife in The White House because “it’s just sex” and then turn around and act like the world owes someone fame & fortune because of their chosen sexual preference. Michael Sam was ultimately judged on his talents & abilities on the football field and he simply didn’t have what it takes to make it at the highest level.

 

The Washington Redskins
I have no doubt that someday owner Dan Snyder (or whomever he eventually sells the team to) will be forced to change the team’s name, and that will be a sad day. I detest political correctness and that is all this “controversy” is. I never heard of anyone having an issue with the term Redskins back in the 80’s when Washington was winning Super Bowls, and multiple polls have shown that only a very small minority of the general population as well as an equally small number of Indians…oops, I mean Native Americans…have a problem with the name. This is a media driven story that a handful of glory seeking politicians leech onto occasionally when they get bored. It’s idiotic.

 

Tony Stewart Kills A Man
Tony Stewart has been my favorite race car driver ever since the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. over a decade ago. Smoke is brash & outspoken but is rarely a jackass about it like Kyle Busch. He’s a throwback to when racing wasn’t quite so corporate and isn’t a polished pre-fab pretty boy like Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon. However, this past summer he found himself at a low point when he was moonlighting at a dirt track in central New York. Things got a little heated on the track (as they sometimes do) and a young driver got out of his car and walked into the middle of the track where he was inadvertently struck by Stewart’s car. The young man died and for awhile it looked like Stewart may face criminal charges. I never for one second believed that the incident was intentional, and it was later discovered that the deceased driver had been high on ganja. Smoke took a few weeks off and a grand jury found no cause for an indictment. Tony Stewart finished the NASCAR season, but unfortunately he will have to live with what happened for the remainder of his life, as well as deal with the judgment of those who think they know more than multiple levels of a legal establishment that decided this was nothing more than a tragic accident.

 

NFL Thuggery & Ineptitude
It all started last February when Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice knocked his wife out in an Atlantic City elevator. A video was released showing Rice dragging the young woman out of the elevator and the NFL responded by suspending him for three games. Several months later additional video footage from inside the elevator was released and all hell broke loose. The NFL & the Ravens acted stunned by what the video showed, even though Rice had admitted what he’d done and what the second video showed was 100% totally NOT a surprise. In a purely PR move the league suspended Rice indefinitely and the team released him immediately. As if that wasn’t enough, at around the same time that the NFL was completely bungling the Rice fiasco Minnesota Vikings RB and noted manwhore Adrian Peterson was arrested for beating his 4 year old son with switches to the point that the child had multiple bruises and lacerations. This is the same guy who has six children by multiple women. One of those children died when he was two years old in 2013 after the babymomma’s boyfriend beat him up. No big deal for AP though. He’d never even met the kid and didn’t know he even existed until shortly before the child’s death. A few days after the infant died Peterson was treated like a conquering hero when he overcame his “grief” and played on Sunday. At any rate, the NFL acted swiftly…kind of…this time, suspending Peterson for the remainder of the season. Almost as noteworthy as the incidents themselves is the complete incompetence shown by NFL Commissioner Roger “Fidel” Goodell, one of the most evil people in the history of sports. There was brief talk that Goodell may lose his job, which would have been awesome. Unfortunately for the game that will eventually be flag or two-hand touch football he retained his position and will likely continue on his path of destruction for several years.

 

Jim Kelly’s Cancer Battle
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 90’s. Losing all four of those games might have been tough, but Kelly has dealt with worse. In 2005 his 8 year old son Hunter died of a rare nervous system disease. And then in 2013 he was diagnosed with jaw cancer. After treatments Kelly was cancer free, but in 2014 the cancer recurred. The sports media followed the story closely and the way Jim Kelly and his family handled the situation was inspiring. In August, after more chemo & radiation he was again declared cancer free. I have never met the man, but he seems like a solid guy. We should all say a little prayer occasionally that Jim Kelly remains healthy and gets to enjoy a long & happy life.

 

Donald Sterling
At the beginning of 2014 Donald Sterling was the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. However, due to his own stupidity he no longer retains that title. Last spring Sterling was caught on video saying some disparaging things about NBA legend Magic Johnson specifically and black people in general. It didn’t take long for the story to blow up, especially since Sterling has previously been sued for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. The NBA has long known that this isn’t a good person, but now they were obliged to do something about it. The league banned Sterling for life and likely would have eventually voted to make him to sell the Clippers, but he agreed to sell without the league formally taking that step. I am somewhat uncomfortable that a business owner can be forced to sell his property simply because people disagree with something that he said in a private conversation. The Clippers employ black players, coaches, and management personnel, so there wasn’t any outright discrimination. It is a slippery slope that we must be cautious of in the future. However, Donald Sterling is the kind of out-of-touch whack job that is easy to root against. And we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him. The team that he bought for $12 million in 1981 was sold for $2 billion. Of course since we are talking about an 80 year old man the real winners are his family that will eventually inherit that fortune.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 
The NFL. Times are tough for football at all levels. Increased education & awareness about the effects of the sport on players’ health combined with the ever nfl-footballgrowing PC Police in America has the entire industry against the ropes. The last thing football needed was this kind of drama. Let’s be honest…there have always been thugs in sports. Just because a guy can run fast and do athletic things with a ball in his hand doesn’t automatically make him a good person. Fame & fortune not only doesn’t always translate into decency, but we have learned over the decades that it oftentimes has the opposite effect. We also know that people look at various crimes differently. Had Ray Rice & Adrian Peterson been caught smoking pot or speeding no one would have cared. Even if they would have held up a liquor store or ran someone down while driving drunk there might have been a collective yawn from the masses and some measure of sympathy. But one guy punched a woman in the face and the other physically abused a child. We aren’t quite as forgiving when it comes to those crimes. The NFL wasn’t blameless either, as they showed a shocking level of ineptitude in handling the situation…especially the Rice case. It seems as if the league suits are more contemptuous of cornerbacks & linebackers who might (GASP!) tackle a “defenseless” receiver (whatever that is) or sack a quarterback just a bit too hard than they are toward hooligans like Rice & Peterson.

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take a break. Please join us again soon for Part II of the 2014 Sammy Awards!!