Winning & Musing…Volume 3.20

We meet again…five months later. The good news is there have been sporting events that we can talk about. Having said that, 2020 has been an undeniably challenging time to be a fan. Will the new year see a return to normalcy?? Probably not, ateast at first. But we’ll watch anyway, and occasionally ponder related topics right here.

 

 

 

 

As happy as I am that the NFL & NCAA have given us a football season the fact is it just isn’t the same. It’s so strange to watch a game being played in an empty or nearly empty stadium. We didn’t do our normal preseason poll or NFL preview because I just didn’t know what to expect. My nephew & I haven’t done our weekly picks like in years past and we won’t be picking bowl games (several of which have been canceled anyway). There have been way too many games canceled and players who have missed time after testing positive for The Sickness or being in close proximity to others who have tested positive. Kudos to all involved for making the effort and taking the risk, but even though I have watched I am admittedly not as invested as usual.

 

 

I was dealing with my own (non-Covid) health issues this past summer, so I really didn’t pay all that much attention to the abbreviated baseball season or the bubble-wrapped NBA playoffs. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series and the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title, so in a world turned upside down I suppose two big city franchises with enough money to buy their championship provided some semblance of status quo normalcy. Also, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, but honestly I had to look that up because I paid even less attention to hockey this season than usual.

 

 

I appreciate the fact that the Indianapolis 500 and The Masters were both rescheduled instead of being outright cancelled, but as a fan it just didn’t work for me. I watched a little bit of The Masters, but was mostly focused on football that weekend, as I’m sure most fans were. I didn’t even know the Indy 500 was on until about an hour after it was over. I just completely forgot about it. Congrats to whoever won each event, but I don’t recall who that was and at the moment it’s not important enough to me to look it up.

 

 

Folks, we need to get something straight. Just because a fan is upset at their team losing and expresses some negativity does not mean they aren’t a “real” fan. I saw this kind of debate rear its ugly head after my Pittsburgh Steelers had their hot start come to a screeching halt and lost a couple of games. Fans were upset…mad at the NFL for bumbling the rescheduling of games and seeming to apply the rules differently to different teams, angry about wide receivers dropping way too many balls, frustrated by mounting injuries to the team, peeved at sports media types who were questioning the Steelers legitimacy even before they lost, disappointed by questionable coaching strategies, and of course debating dubious calls by referees. In my opinion this is normal fan behavior. However, there are those who say anyone who expresses any kind of doubts or frustration aren’t true fans. That’s poppycock. My perspective has always been the irritated passion a fan exhibits when things aren’t going well proves just how deep & fervent their fandom really is, contrary to the kind of blindly loyal fan who acts like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House, shouting “All is well!! Remain calm!!”, even as chaos reigns down all around him.

 

 

It would be negligent for me not to address the latest in the PC Police’s War on Sports, and guess what…the fans are losing. In the midst of the uproar caused by the #BlackLivesMatter hoopla last summer the NFL’s Washington Redskins finally bowed to media created pressure and dropped the “offensive” nickname. They’ve played this entire season as the Washington Football Team, which is all kinds of stupid. And now the Cleveland Indians have announced plans to drop their century old moniker. I’ve just never understood how anyone could possibly be offended by a sports team honoring a group of people by naming their team after them. Have y’all ever  had a friend or family member name their baby or even a pet after you?? It’s meant as a compliment. Do you know how thrilled I’d be if West Virginia got an NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL franchise and called them the West Virginia Sams?? I’d be verklempt!! But that’s what liberals do in the name of “progress”. They suck all the joy out of the room, like sort of giant, evil vacuum. It is what it is, and it makes me sad.

 

 

I’m not sure what the answer is, but in no way do I feel like an Ohio State Buckeyes team that has only played six games should be in the College Football Playoff. In retrospect this would have been the perfect year to do a test run of an expanded playoff with 8 or even 16 teams. I won’t ride the powers-that-be too much for their lack of foresight because they, just like so many of us in all walks of life, have been making things up on the fly in the midst of all the craziness, but it would’ve been nice to see some fairness & common sense implemented instead of what it looks like is happening, which seems to be “let’s do whatever we can to get four traditional power programs in the playoff by any means necessary because it’ll be good for TV ratings”.

2018 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 16

Not only has the action already began this week in the NFL with an entertaining last second upset of the KC Chiefs by the LA Chargers, but there are actually Saturday games, which is pretty cool. For our purposes I am trying to avoid focusing exclusively on the handful of division leaders & playoff contenders, so this week we’re venturing off the beaten path a bit and showing some love for a few teams that are having a tough season, or atleast not achieving the level of success they expected. Speaking of subpar seasons…last week Zach was 0-5, while I was 2-3. Yikes. We’ll just move forward and hope for better things this time.

My Season:     49-48

Z’s Season:     40-58

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miami        `                  at                          Minnesota (-7)

One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal football week ago was Miami’s miracle upset of the New England Patriots. Can the Dolphins keep rolling?? I suppose they’re still in the hunt for the AFC’s final wildcard, although that’ll be a tall mountain to climb. The Vikings are in much the same situation in the NFC, but it feels a lot different because expectations were so high for them coming into the season. They’ve lost three out of their last four, and just feel like a team heading in the wrong direction. I don’t know if Miami will get the outright victory, but The Vibes are telling me it will be closer than a touchdown. Zach thinks momentum is squarely with Miami and beliees they’ll get the win.

My Pick:     Miami

Z’s Pick:     Miami

 

 

 

Tennessee                  at                NY Giants (-2.5)

The Titans are in that AFC logjam for the final playoff berth, and they’re riding a two game winning streak. Last weekend Tennessee RB Derrick Henry singlehandedly torpedoed my dynasty league playoff hopes, which was a tough pill to swallow. The Giants are in the cellar of the NFC East and already strategizing about which “quarterback of the future” they’ll select in the first round of the NFL Draft. Having said that, the Giants do have the home field and Henry won’t repeat last week’s success. Zach likes Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley, but doesn’t think the team will get over the hump until they replace aging quarterback Eli Manning. He believes the Titans will score a close victory.

My Pick:     NY Giants

Z’s Pick:     Tennessee

 

 

 

Arizona                         at                          Atlanta (-8.5)

The Cardinals could be looking at the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, and the Falcons aren’t much better. No one is expecting anything from this game, which of course means it will end up being one of the best of the weekend, right?? I don’t know if Arizona can pull off an upset on the road, but I think they’ll stay within a touchdown. Zach is going out on a limb and predicting that Atlanta can cover the points.

My Pick:     Arizona

Z’s Pick:     Atlanta

 

 

 

Detroit                           at                          Buffalo (-2.5)

I’ve lost track of who is behind center for the Bills. Josh Allen?? Derek Anderson?? Matt Barkley?? Nathan Peterman?? AJ McCarron?? It’s tough to be a Pittsburgh Pirates fan every summer, but it can’t be much fun for the folks in Buffalo having to endure the mess that the Bills have become. Atleast the Lions know that Matthew Stafford is their starting QB…for all the good that’s done them the past decade. I’m not sure what we can hope for from a matchup of teams with a combined record of 9-17, but it’s December and the game is in Buffalo so I assume the home field has to mean something. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Buffalo

Z’s Pick:     Buffalo

 

 

 

Washington                           at                Jacksonville (-6.5)

I thought the Jags would fall off a bit from last year’s impressive playoff run, but wow…they’ve totally dived off the cliff. I suppose that’s another team that will be looking to draft a quarterback in the first round. Meanwhile, the Redskins have a different kind of quarterback issue. Alex Smith is lost for the season due to an injury, and his career might be over. Josh Johnson?? Mark Sanchez?? It makes the Bills’ depth chart look good in comparison. I think this will be a low scoring game with lots of running the ball, punts, & perhaps a turnover or two to make the difference, and I’m going with the Redskins to score a mild upset. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Washington

Z’s Pick:     Washington

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.

 

 

2016 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 6

football2I don’t feel particularly verbose today. Last week Zach was 0-5, while I fared a little better at 3-2. In an effort to get back on the right track we’re doing some bonus picks this week. It will either help right the ship, or it’ll totally blow up in our faces. We’ll see.

My Season:         12-14

Z’s Season:          8-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington (-8)                   at      Oregon

oregonThe Huskies are for real folks. They proved that by destroying Stanford and pretty much nailing the coffin shut on Christian washington2McCaffrey’s Heisman hopes. The Ducks are 2-3 and have dropped completely off the grid. However it should be noted that two of those three losses have been by 4 or less points. I have a difficult time fathoming that a team that has been highly ranked and super competitive for several years now has all the sudden become terrible overnight. That doesn’t mean that I believe they’ll win this game, or that I’m not sold on Washington. I just think that, especially in the friendly environment of Eugene, it’ll be much closer than 8 points. Zach is all in on Washington and thinks that Oregon looks like a team in a rebuilding phase.

My Pick:     Oregon

Z’s Pick:     Washington

 

 

Arizona               at      Utah (-9.5)

The Utes were on a 4-0 roll until being upset by the Cal Bears last weekend. Conversely, the Wildcats are an up & down 2-3. The points concern me utah2just a little, but I’m going to take a chance and predict that Utah covers. Zach thinks both of these teams are a bit unpredictable, but he too is picking Utah.

My Pick:     Utah

Z’s Pick:     Utah

 

 

Texas                  at      Oklahoma (-10)

TEXAS LONGHORNS.1271817676They used to call this the Red River Shootout until the PC Police got their panties twisted, so now it is dubbed the much tamer oklahoma2Red River Rivalry. Word on the street is that the powers-that-be in Austin are ready to shove head coach Charlie Strong out the door. A 2-2 start was not what they were hoping for. Of course things at Oklahoma haven’t been that much better thus far, as they have an identically mediocre record. The Sooners are clearly the better team at this point, and they do have the home field advantage. However, human beings are capable of great things when our backs are against the wall, and I believe the Longhorns will put up a heck of a fight for their coach. I’m not sure it’ll be enough to win, but it’ll probably be enough to cover. Zach is going in the opposite direction, predicting that Oklahoma should win by more than two TDs.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma

 

LSU  (-3)             at      Florida

The Bayou Bengals have already made a coaching change, and it seemed to work out well last week. I don’t think Ed Orgeron will get the gig lsu_logopermanently in Baton Rouge, but if he guides the team to a successful season after a rocky start perhaps he can snag a head coaching position elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Gators are a solid 4-1 and a fairly quiet Top 20 team. All things considered I am stunned that the oddsmakers aren’t even giving Florida a slight home field advantage. I have to assume that they know something I don’t and go with it. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU

 

 

Tennessee                  at      Texas A&M (-7)

The Vols are off to a fantastic 5-0 start, but only a miraculous Hail Mary saved them from defeat last weekend. The 5-0 Aggies are surely the toughest 10015tenn_vols_w_helmetopponent Tennessee has faced, and the game is in College Station. Both are Top 10 teams just a tick away from playoff contention should a couple of higher ranked teams go down. I’m going to predict that A&M wins this game…by a field goal. Zach likes Tennessee to get the victory.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Tennessee

 

 

Florida St.          at      Miami, FL (-3)

miamiuThis used to be one of the biggest games on the schedule, but then the Hurricanes fell on tough times. And now that Miami Florida_State_Seminolesseems to be on the cusp of being back the Seminoles are having a tough year. A month ago I would have picked Florida St. without a second thought. If this game were in Tallahassee I’d still pick them. But given recent events and the fact that the game is being played in Miami it seems the momentum lies with the favorites. Zach disagrees. He’s such a rebel.

My Pick:     Miami, FL

Z’s Pick:     Florida St.

 

 

Philadelphia (-3)                   at      Detroit

Rookie QB Carson Wentz is the real deal. The 3-0 Eagles should have no problem beating the 1-3 Lions. I can’t believe the point spread isn’t higher. philadelphia_eagles-3715Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia

 

 

Washington       at      Baltimore (-3.5)

Washington_Redskins_logoThe Redskins, at 2-2, are having a tougher year than I anticipated. Conversely, the 3-1 Ravens are better than I expected. There Baltimore_Ravens2is only 40 miles separating DC & Baltimore, so I don’t think the home field is that big of an advantage. The Vibes are telling me to go with the upset. Zach feels differently and he’s picking the home team.

My Pick:     Washington

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore

 

 

Houston             at      Minnesota (-6)

Could it be that Sam Bradford was as good of a quarterback as a #1 overall draft pick is supposed to be all along and has now finally found the kind of vikingshelmet1good team he’s needed to shine?? It’s an interesting hypothesis. The Vikings’ defense is undeniably great, and there seem to be a plethora of weapons on offense. The Texans aren’t too shabby either, but they are playing on the road. I’m a big believer in Big Mo, and I think that rests with Minnesota. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     Minnesota

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.

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!!

2012 NFL Preview & Prognostications

There’s nothing like cutting it close, right?? Just a few hours before the 2012 NFL season officially kicks off (on a Wednesday…weird) I am here with my always stellar & 100% accurate predictions. Well…okay…my vibes aren’t always all that precise, but I keep trying!! I am not really predicting anything all that wacky this year because I think we pretty much know who the haves & have nots are in professional football. There are always a few mild surprises, and of course a couple of injuries here & there can change everything in the blink of an eye, but not withstanding the unforeseeable I believe that this season will mostly adhere to conventional wisdom, but in a fun kind of way. As always I do not condone wagering, especially with my track record. Seriously, the only thing financially riskier than using my football forecast for monetary gain is trusting President Obama and his economic braintrust. Each team’s 2011 record is shown in parentheses, with my prediction for 2012 immediately following.

 

 

NFC East

*Philadelphia Eagles      

(8-8)                      12-4

*Dallas Cowboys             

(8-8)                      10-6

New York Giants             

(9-7)                      8-8

Washington Redskins    

(5-11)                    7-9

Last year the Eagles signed a bunch of big time free agents and bloviated a bit too much about being a team of destiny…then proceeded to fall flat on their face. If…if…QB Michael Vick can stay healthy in 2012 they may finally fulfill their potential. Everybody knows that another disappointing season will cost Coach Andy Reid his job and I don’t think anyone really wants to see that happen. The Cowboys will be in hot pursuit and should make the playoffs. I really like new Redskins field general Robert Griffin III but he is a rookie quarterback and I think we need to lower expectations for a couple of years. A year ago I predicted that the NY Giants wouldn’t “be nearly as good as most others seem to think they will”. They promptly went out and won their 2nd Super Bowl in 5 years. However, I will not be deterred!! Actually if you look closely at last year the Giants went 9-7, backed into the playoffs, then got hot at the right time. That is unlikely to happen again, and I think it far more probable that they will have a similar record in 2012 and fail to reach the postseason rather than actually having a dramatically better regular season this time around.

 

NFC North

*Green Bay Packers      

(15-1)                    11-5

Chicago Bears                   

(8-8)                      9-7         

Detroit Lions                     

(10-6)                    9-7

Minnesota Vikings          

(3-13)                    2-14

I just don’t see this division as being in any doubt. The Packers may have stumbled last year in the playoffs, but they are still among the elite franchises in the NFL and have the best QB in the game. Their aerial attack is so good that their defense just has to be solid, not spectacular. The Bears & the Lions will both be decent and in the midst of the playoff hunt, but I’m just not all that impressed…yet. Give the Lions another year or two. I like young Vikings QB Christian Ponder, and of course when healthy Adrian Petersen is among the best running backs in the business, but there’s really nothing else to be excited about. And if AP doesn’t recover as well as hoped for from knee surgery it could be a v-e-r-y long year for the guys in purple.

 

NFC South

*New Orleans Saints     

(13-3)                    9-7

*Carolina Panthers         

(6-10)                    9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(4-12)                    7-9

Atlanta Falcons                                

(10-6)                    7-9

I do not believe that a team can go through the turmoil that the Saints have experienced this offseason and not be affected. Their head coach is suspended for an entire year, and the guy they picked to fill in is suspended for the first 6 games. So for nearly half of the season they are being led by a 3rd string head coach. For most teams that would be a fatal blow, but this team has an ace in the hole…QB Drew Brees. There is a school of thought that Brees will lead this team in blitz of anger and dominate their opponents en route to glory just to prove a point and piss off Commandant Fidel Goodell. That sounds like a fun theory, but I don’t believe it’ll be quite that easy. Fortunately for fans in The Big Easy their team plays in a rather mediocre division. I do think QB Cam Newton, in his 2nd year, will surprise a lot of folks and lead his team to the playoffs. The Buccaneers will improve but when a team goes 4-12 there’s really nowhere to go but up. I like new Bucs coach Greg Schiano, but there will be an adjustment…this ain’t The Big East anymore. The surprise might be in Atlanta, where I’m just not sold on the Falcons. QB Matt Ryan will be a free agent after the 2013 season, and by then I think he’ll be ready to flee The Peach State.

 

NFC West

*San Francisco 49ers     

(13-3)                    12-4

St. Louis Rams                  

(2-14)                    8-8

Seattle Seahawks           

(7-9)                      8-8

Arizona Cardinals            

(8-8)                      5-11

Much like the NFC North this division isn’t really all that competitive. The 49ers fell just short of The Super Bowl in coach Jim Harbaugh’s inaugural season…I don’t think winning the division is at the top of their list of goals. I believe the Rams will be much improved and will rebound from last year’s horrible season. The Seahawks are relying on undersized rookie QB Russell Wilson to lead them, which may pay dividends 4 or 5 years from now, but will only result in mediocrity for now. The Cardinals are a mess. A year ago I stated that “I’m sold on new Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb” and predicted a division title. I am not sure what kind of drugs I was on that day. Needless to say I was way…way…way wrong. Is john Skelton the answer?? Hell no. The fans in the desert have to be praying that their Cards can somehow get ahold of USC quarterback Matt Barkley in next year’s draft, and I think they’ll finish in a spot that’ll allow them to do just that. Fortunately they have WR Larry Fitzgerald locked in thru 2018, so atleast they have that going for them.

AFC East

*New England Patriots

(13-3)                    11-5

Buffalo Bills                        

(6-10)                    8-8

New York Jets                  

(8-8)                      7-9

Miami Dolphins                

(6-10)                    3-13

As much as I would love to see the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era come to a devastating end, sadly I don’t think it’s quite that time just yet. The Patriots should run away with the division and be amongst the heavy favorites to contend for The Lombardi Trophy. I really like what the Bills have done with their defense, especially the addition of Mario Williams. However, I do not believe that head coach Chan Gailey nor QB Ryan Fitzpatrick are the long term answers in Buffalo. There is an old adage that says if you have two quarterbacks then you have none, and I think that is exactly the conundrum the NY Jets find themselves in. Tim Tebow, as much as one might appreciate & respect his faith, morality, and personality, is nothing more than a huge distraction in regards to the on-the-field product. Also, RB Shonn Greene, even though he runs behind possibly the best offensive line in football, has not proven that he can be an elite tailback in the NFL. Oh, and whoever winds up being the quarterback doesn’t really have much of anyone to throw to besides head case Santonio Holmes, a #2 receiver trying desperately to convince everyone he is better than he is. And then we have the Miami Dolphins. Anyone who watched HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer can verify that this team is going to be bad…very bad. I think ownership made a horrible mistake hiring Joe Philbin as the new head coach. Philbin seems like a perfectly nice man, but traditionally very nice men don’t make successful NFL coaches. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has potential, but he has absolutely no one to throw to outside RB Reggie Bush.

 

AFC North

*Baltimore Ravens         

(12-4)                    11-5

*Pittsburgh Steelers      

(12-4)                    10-6

Cincinnati Bengals           

(9-7)                      9-7

Cleveland Browns           

(4-12)                    2-14

The Bengals did a lot better last year than I predicted, and quarterback Andy Dalton acquitted himself quite nicely. That being said, I don’t think we’ll see anything better in Cincy this season. Note to Bengals fans: “upgrading” from RB Cedric Benson to RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis is kind of like buying a Whopper instead of a Big Mac…better, but still not the steak that you really should spring for. The Browns will be even more horrible than usual. I don’t really understand giving up on QB Colt McCoy in favor of 28 year old rookie Brandon Weeden. It seems like a curious decision, but hey, it’s the Browns…they aren’t known for their smart decisions. So the division undoubtedly will come down to the Ravens and Steelers…again. The Ravens are on borrowed time because after Ray Lewis & Ed Reed are done I think the team will decline. Complicating matters in 2012 is the fact that linebacker Terrell Suggs tore an Achilles tendon last spring and will miss most or possibly all of this season. That would seem to tip things in the Steelers’ favor, but desperation can be a tremendous motivator. As a diehard Steelers fan I have some significant concerns about my team, including the uncertainty at RB (starter Rashard Mendenhall suffered a torn ACL at the end of 2011 season and may or may not be ready to return), an aging & injury riddled defense, a new offensive scheme under coordinator Todd Haley, and an unfortunate pre-season knee injury to promising 1st round pick OL David DeCastro. I do not think that the Steelers will be bad at all, but neither will they be elite.

 

AFC South

*Houston Texans            

(10-6)                    9-7

Tennessee Titans            

(9-7)                      9-7

Indianapolis Colts            

(2-14)                    6-10

Jacksonville Jaguars       

(5-11)                    4-12      

Lots of talking heads are jumping on the Texans bandwagon, and admittedly they do have a solid QB in Matt Schaub and one of the best RBs in the league in Arian Foster…not to mention big time receiver Andre Johnson. But I don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park for Houston. I really like Titans QB Jake Locker, and I think RB Chris Johnson will rebound from a subpar 2011. If Locker has a target or two step up to solidify the passing game I think the boys in Music City will be in the thick of the battle to the very end. Another quarterback I really like is Colts rookie Andrew Luck. In time I believe he will follow a similar path of success to that of his predecessor in Indy Peyton Manning. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and improving by just a few games would be a significant reason for optimism. The Jaguars offseason has been dominated by the holdout of RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who magically decided to end the standoff immediately following the end of the pre-season. That does not bode well. I do like rookie WR Justin Blackmon, but I’m just not sure second year signal caller Blaine Gabbert is the right man to deliver the ball. NFL owners & fans have an increasingly short attention span, and Gabbert will need to show remarkable improvement to prevent a loud clamor for his ouster. I think it is very likely that the Jags will be players in the Matt Barkley Sweepstakes.    

 

AFC West

*Denver Broncos            

(8-8)                      10-6

*Kansas City Chiefs        

(7-9)                      9-7

Oakland Raiders              

(8-8)                      8-8

San Diego Chargers        

(8-8)                      6-10

There’s a new sheriff in town in Denver, and his name is Peyton Manning. The Broncos made the playoffs last season with Tebow at the helm, so surely they will be just as good and probably better under the skilled leadership of an actual NFL quarterback. KC is getting alot of buzz these days, and I do think the two headed RB monster of Jamaal Charles & Peyton Hillis can be an effective tandem, but my question is whether or not QB Matt Cassel is the right man for the job. The Raiders just seem to be treading water…neither all that great or too awfully bad. The surprise may be the Chargers, who I picked to win The Super Bowl last year. I was way off base obviously, and am now pretty much convinced that the party is over in San Diego and head coach Norv Turner will soon be enjoying an early retirement.

 

 

 

AFC Championship                          Baltimore            vs.          New England

My six playoff teams are noted (*), and I am not even going to try to get cute with the championship selections. Football fans would love to see another Ravens-Patriots matchup, even though just like last year I would be humbly asking God if there is any way both teams could lose. I don’t think the results will be much different, and we’ll see the damn Patriots in The Super Bowl yet again.

 

NFC Championship                         Green Bay           vs.          Carolina

The predicted playoff teams are noted (*), and I think it’ll come down to the Packers (no surprise) versus the Panthers (kind of a surprise), with Green Bay taking Cam Newton to the woodshed. Don’t worry Carolina fans…his time will come, just not yet. Making it this far only to be demolished by Aaron Rodgers will be a great lesson for the young man and will benefit him tremendously in 3 or 4 years.

 

 

Super Bowl

New England  Patriots                   vs.          Green Bay Packers

As much as I hate to admit it, this one would be a classic. I daresay that it would even be a shootout. The TV folks would LOVE that. In the end though I think the Packers have too much firepower and will win the highest scoring Super Bowl of all time 42-38.

 

2012 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…Week 1

 

Over a year ago I mentioned that I wanted to do a weekly football pick ‘em type of thing here at The Manofesto. However, both the 2011 college & pro seasons got underway without me implementing the plan, so I decided to wait ‘til next year. Well…the time has come. The most glorious time of the year…football season…is upon us. It really is the only thing that makes summer slipping away more tolerable. My plan at the moment is to pick 7 games each week. Normally it will be a mix of NCAA & NFL games, but since the NFL doesn’t begin its season for another week our initial go round will consist of 7 college games. These games are picked at random by me based purely on what I view as interesting, competitive, and entertaining. I was a little leery of the first week of college football simply because it is traditionally chock full of powerhouse vs. cupcake matchups that are in no way interesting, competitive, or entertaining. Fortunately I was able to choose 7 games that do frost my cupcake and I will be interested to see how it all plays out.

One thing that readers can expect from your humble Potentate of Profundity is accountability. I am not like those twits on ESPN (Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Mark May, etc.) who act like a bunch of know-it-all experts and then conveniently forget to ever mention their picks again when they are proven to be completely wrong. I will keep track of my hits & misses. I will own up to it when I am wrong. This whole thing is just for fun, but I cannot deny that there is some sense of pride on the line as I match wits with the talking heads that get paid big bucks to make these kinds of prognostications. Originally I did not plan to utilize point spreads and just wanted to choose straight up winners, but as I pondered the possibilities I figured out that the point spread adds an element of complexity that makes the process that much more enjoyable. I am well aware that the point spread is also meant to be used for gambling, something that I am not going to promote. I’ve done it before and I am sure that I’ll do it again in the future, but I am also well aware that gambling is one more thing…like alcohol, drugs, food, & sex…that one can easily become addicted to and that has destroyed careers, families, and lives. Remember folks…everything in moderation with God in the driver’s seat, okay?? Now on with the picks!!

 

 

Tennessee  (-3) vs.  N.C. State

I’m a bit surprised that the folks in Vegas are favoring the Vols here. Maybe when I put them in my pre-season Top 25 it wasn’t such a shot in the dark after all?? At any rate, since it is a given that their SEC schedule will be tough that makes it imperative for Tennessee to win their non-conference games if they want to have any shot of fulfilling my prophecy and returning to prominence. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack is usually one of the ACC’s more solid yet unspectacular teams. They don’t get a lot of publicity but they always seem to get the job done and go bowling at season’s end. It is interesting to note that this is a neutral site game being played in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. I’m going with the talent & experienced leadership of UT QB Tyler Bray to pull this one out and cover the spread too.

 

Boise St.  at  Michigan St. (-7)

I had the Broncos just sneaking into my preseason Top 25’s last spot, but that is more a function of the media’s love affair with them combined with the relative ease of their schedule due to playing in the notably unnotable Mountain West. I don’t think former QB Kellen Moore will be easily replaced, which means there might be a bump or two in the road, especially early on. Meanwhile, over in Lansing, the Spartans are also faced with finding a new signal caller since former 3 year starter Kirk Cousins is now backing up Robert Griffin III with the Washington Redskins. That would seem to make this game a wash…and a very tough call. This is an opportunity for Boise St. to open lots of eyes and shut lots of mouths, because I know there are many naysayers like me who still aren’t quite convinced they belong at the big table with the adults. I am usually a sucker for the underdog, but I think that Spartan Stadium will be rockin’ and will give the guys in green the edge. Will they cover?? Good question. The vibes are telling me that this might be decided by a field goal, which means that I like Michigan St. to win, but I’ll take Boise St. & the points.

 

Northwestern (-1.5)  at  Syracuse

Will this game be fun to watch?? Probably not. I hate watching TV games broadcast from the Carrier Dome. I can’t explain it…it just doesn’t feel like a good football atmosphere. It has always seemed like kind of a boring place even when the Orange were a winning team. And since they have been horrible for most of the past decade and the outcome of most games seemed like a foregone conclusion it was even worse. When a lower tier Big 10 team is the opponent…well, that is an excellent recipe for either a lot of channel flipping or a fine afternoon nap. At any rate, I went out on a limb and put Syracuse in my pre-season Top 25 and said that they might win 8 or 9 games. Getting a win here would sure be a nice way to get off on the right foot, and I think they’ll do it. I’m going with the Orangemen to win this game outright.

 

Clemson (-3)  at Auburn

The last time we saw Clemson on a football field they were getting mauled in the Orange Bowl by my WVU Mountaineers 70-33. That kind of defeat will either haunt your dreams or piss you off…maybe both. I do really like junior QB Tahj Boyd and sophomore WR Sammy Watkins, but the question is can the defense stop anybody?? I put Auburn in my pre-season top 25 because it wasn’t that long ago that they were going undefeated & had a Heisman winning quarterback, and even when they “fell off” last year they still won 8 games. This boils down to 2nd tier ACC vs. 2nd tier SEC, and I think we all know where the smart money is in that battle. With this game being played at Jordan-Hare Stadium I have to give the edge to Auburn. I mean really…all they have to do is watch the Orange Bowl film.

 

Iowa (-9)  at  Northern Illinois

On paper a Big 10 vs. MAC matchup usually looks pretty lopsided, and most of the time it is. However, I really like this Northern Illinois team. Their games were rather fun to watch in 2011 and they have been a dominant force in their conference for several years. Iowa, on the other hand, is a hit & miss program. Maybe they’ll win 6 or 7 games and sneak into a forgettable bowl game, or maybe they’ll win 10 or 11 games and compete for the conference title and a spot in the Rose Bowl. They are never really bad, but they are rarely mentioned in the same conversation with elite Big 10 foes Michigan, Ohio St., Wisconsin, and Nebraska. It is interesting to me that this game is being played at Huskie Stadium, which just might be the tipping point. Those fans will know how important defeating a Big 10 opponent would be, and they’ll be ready. I am going to wuss out of picking an outright victory for the underdogs, but I’ll take Northern Illinois and the points.

 

Miami (-2) at  Boston College

Ahhh…a dreaded ACC matchup. The ACC is even more boring to watch than the Big East, the conference these two traitors ditched several years back. I don’t know about all the financial stuff, but on the surface that move has looked like a poor one for both teams, as they have both become lost in the shuffle and gotten far less love from the media than conference darlings Florida St., Georgia Tech, NC State, and Virginia Tech. I remember when Miami…or as I called them, Thug U…was one of the best teams in college football, with coaches like Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, & Dennis Erickson, and alums who went on to be big NFL stars like Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Michael Irvin, Jeremy Shockey, Reggie Wayne, Warren Sapp, Ed Reed, and Ray Lewis. They were in the national championship picture for most of the 80’s & 90’s and into the new millennium, but it’s been almost a decade since the Hurricanes were really that good. The Eagles are another hit & miss team. Sometimes they are mediocre, sometimes they can be very good. However, in 2011 they finished 4-8, the worst record for a BC football team since 1998. I don’t have a dog in this particular fight, so I’ll go with the home team and pick Boston College to win.

 

Michigan  at  Alabama (-14)

Last but certainly not least, right?? This is the crown jewel of the first week of the college football season. We all know that the Crimson Tide has been…I’m sorry, I can’t avoid it…on a roll, winning 12 or more games 3 out of the past 4 years and capturing two national championships. During that same time span the Wolverines were suffering thru the Fraudriguez Era, going 15-22 and not at all resembling the traditional powerhouse that had been built by Bo Schembechler and had produced dozens of conference titles, multiple Rose Bowl & other bowl victories, and a plethora of NFL talent such as Tom Brady, Tom Harmon, “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Anthony Carter, Dan Dierdorf, Braylon Edwards, Larry Foote, Brian Griese, Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson, and Amani Toomer. In 2011 the powers-that-be restored order in Ann Arbor by canning Fraudriguez & hiring Brady Hoke as the new head coach, and the Wolverines went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl. There is no doubt that this will be a tough task for Michigan, especially since the game is being played at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Obviously the oddsmakers aren’t giving the ol’ Maize & Blue much of a chance to win. However, I think a 14 point spread is ridiculous. I would be stunned if ‘Bama actually won by that much. I give the Wolverines more than a decent shot to pull out a victory, but I certainly believe that that they will cover the points even if they lose.

 

 

 

 

2009 NFL Preview – NFC

The word for this year’s NFL season is parity. Yes…..I realize that’s not an original thought. You hear it dozens of times from all the talking heads on ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC…..your friendly neighborhood purveyors of NFL action. But honest to God I really believe it to be the case this year. There are a few teams (Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit) that continue to wallow in the land of dreadful despite all the usual machinations such as new coaches and noteworthy free agent signings or trades. And there are a few elite teams (Pittsburgh and the New York Giants for example) that continue to ride the tasty wave of success with no signs of decline. But the vast majority of the league seems to be atop a high wire, where a key injury or bad move by the coach will dictate the fickle difference between 7-9 and 11-5 but no amount of tinkering will make them neither elite nor awful. It’s one of the reasons we love the NFL…..it’s unpredictable and somewhat random. That being said, here’s my take on how we might see the season unfold. As always…please, no wagering. I don’t claim to actually be good at this.

We’ve already dissected the AFC…now it’s the NFC’s turn:

NFC EAST

New York Giants                 13-3

The Plaxico Burress debacle dominated the Giants off season. As unfortunate as that situation was, I believe that the loss of Burress and the other starting WR Amani Toomer will actually benefit the team, as the replacements…some combination of Domenick Hixon, Steve Smith, rookie Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Sinorice Moss…have the potential to be a significant upgrade (and far less of a headache than Plax). Some may say the running game suffers a bit by the departure of Derrick Ward to Tampa, but personally I think it provides clarity. I’ve seen the NFL evolve from running back tandems in my childhood to the era of one feature back and back around to tandems the past few years, but I’ve never thought a three back system is a good thing. It’s just too muddled and confusing. There’s no way to get three running backs involved successfully and keep them all happy, especially if all three really are talented enough to be the primary runner. In New York it is now clear that Brandon Jacobs is the #1 option  and Ahmad Bradshaw is his backup, albeit one who’ll see his fair share of action. That will be helpful to the offense. On the defensive side of the ball the return of defensive end Osi Umenyiora can only make an already strong defense even more imposing.

Philadelphia Eagles            10-6

I’m not a big Donovan McNabb fan. He may be one of the most overrated football players in the past half century. That being said, this is always a top level team and one that’s a legitimate threat to win every single game. The defense had a rough offseason, losing safety Brian Dawkins and CB Lito Shepperd and also enduring the sad death of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Offensively Jeremy Maclin was drafted to be a bookend WR with last year’s pleasant surprise DeSean Jackson, and some additions were made to bolster the offensive line. The Eagles made headlines of their own by signing QB Michael Vick, who is looking for a fresh start after spending the past couple of years…..away. I’m not too concerned about the defense…..Philly just seems to be one of those teams, like Pittsburgh and Baltimore, that is perennially strong on the defensive side of the ball, with age and free agency and other factors never seeming to have a significant negative impact. And the offense will be better as more weapons have been added. But for some strange reason this is a team that has a hard time reaching the pinnacle, getting to the Super Bowl only twice in the past 30 years despite making the playoffs in over half of those seasons. I see no reason why 2009 will be much different…..they will have a successful season, make the playoffs, and then fall short of the goal.

Dallas Cowboys                  10-6

One word springs to mind…..overrated. The Cowboys are the professional equal of Notre Dame, living off an overblown reputation largely earned decades ago and having a bloated sense of self worth. I’m not saying this isn’t a good team, it’s just not a great team. Jerry Jones hasn’t become the complete joke that Al Davis has, but give it a few more years and I’m sure it will happen. The Cowboys have a shiny new billion dollar stadium that has puffed up the egos of Cowboy Nation even further, but that ain’t gonna win ball games. Much like the Eagles, the Cowboys will have a solid season and then fall apart at some point in the playoffs. The offseason departures of Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, and Jessica Simpson will be addition by subtraction, but it still won’t be enough.

Washington Redskins        7-9

There seems to be an undeniable correlation between ownership and success, or lack thereof, on the field. Jerry Jones and Al Davis are wack jobs and their teams are either God awful or heading in the wrong direction. The Rooney Family are held up as model citizens and owners, and the Steelers have won two Super Bowls in the past few years. Coincidence?? Of course not. That brings us to Daniel Snyder, a self made billionaire who epitomizes the fact that just because you have the ability to make money doesn’t mean you know diddly squat about football. He’s another one of these owners that, instead of hiring knowledgeable football gurus to run his team, thinks it’s his right and privilege to make all the decisions himself. I suppose it is technically his right and privilege, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. He has continuously tried to buy success by signing aging free agents to big money contracts, only to have those moves not pay much of a dividend on the field. 2009 does have the potential to be different, as most would agree that DE Albert Haynesworth was a quality signing. But the jury is still out on QB Jason Campbell, head coach Jim Zorn, and a receiving corps that is unimpressive to say the least. The division is super tough, and I just don’t see this team being able to get over the hump quite yet.


NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints           9-7

I’m not sure if the NFC South is mediocre or just the quintessential embodiment of the aforementioned parity. Picking this division really is like pinning the tail on the donkey. There is no right or wrong answer. I really like Drew Brees though, so the Saints get the nod in a virtual coin flip.

Carolina Panthers              9-7

I don’t like QB Jake Delhomme nearly as much as I like Drew Brees. That’s it, that’s the x factor, the tie breaker. The defense is always strong, and most pundits seem to not believe this team will be much different than the one who won 12 games last season. But I see that they have tough out-of-conference games against Miami, New England, and the Jets, plus they start the season against Philly, Dallas, and Atlanta. That may be 6 losses right there.

Atlanta Falcons                   8-8

One step forward, two steps back. Everyone fell in love with rookie QB Matt Ryan last season, with good reason. He was impressive. No significant changes were made in the offseason with the exception of adding future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez, and that’s what bothers me. This feels like a team to me that believes they’ve arrived, that believes last season erases a track record of mediocrity, that no further changes need to be made. But history proves otherwise. In 1998 the Falcons went 14-2 en route to the Super Bowl before falling to the Broncos…..the next season they went 5-11. In 2002 they were a playoff team…..the following season: 5-11. In 2004 the Falcons won 11 games and made it to the NFC title game where they lost to the Eagles…..the next year they were a .500 team. Achieving success isn’t foreign to the Atlanta Falcons, but sustaining success seems to be an issue.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers    8-8

There’s a new sheriff in town for the Bucs. There’s also a new QB. Pretty much everything is new. It’s rebuilding time in Tampa. The division is a tossup so maybe this team will surprise some folks, but on paper it doesn’t look promising.


NFC NORTH

Minnesota Vikings             12-4

The Vikings acquired a new QB recently, some guy whose name escapes me right now. But whoever he is, a lot of people expect him to be the final piece of the puzzle for a team who has had an above average defense for awhile now and last year added Adrian Peterson who quickly established himself as one of the top running backs in the league. I concur.

Green Bay Packers             10-6

Last season was a tumultuous one for the folks in Titletown. This offseason has been rather uneventful in comparison. Aaron Rodgers is firmly ensconced as the QB, and in 2008 he acquitted himself quite nicely. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t be even better this year. The biggest question I have is RB Ryan Grant. Is he a one year wonder?? If he proves to be legit then The Pack will be a formidable force. 3 of their first 5 opponents are Detroit, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, so there is potential for a hot start. There are tough non-divisional games against Baltimore, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Arizona. If Green Bay can manage to win 3 of those then it’s on, it’s on like Donkey Kong baby. And then of course there is the division…..6 games against Minnesota, Chicago, and Detroit. We can safely assume 2 wins against the hapless Lions, so if they can split the other 4 games that’d possibly get them to 10 wins which may be good enough for a wild card playoff appearance.

Chicago Bears                      8-8

Move on, there’s nothing to see here. Everyone is making a big deal out of the fact that the Bears significantly upgraded the QB position. Okay, I will submit to that fact. They swindled the Broncos in acquiring Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler for the ill fated Kyle Orton, and I missed exactly how this happened but somehow Rex Grossman ended up in Houston doing exactly what he was destined to do, ride the pine. But quite honestly I’m not buying the Cutler hype. He acted like a complete jackass in whining his way out of Denver, which I know has nothing much to do with his on the field ability but it still makes me question his leadership skills and mental & emotional makeup, something that is vital for the quarterback position. Bret Favre has been around long enough and achieved at a level that somewhat justifies his diva attitude. Jay Cutler hasn’t proven himself worthy of carrying Favre’s luggage, atleast not yet. And even if people a bit less neurotic than me can put all that aside, there’s still that issue that Cutler has no one to throw to in Chicago. When the Bears add a couple of meaningful pieces to the receiving corps then maybe I’ll become a believer. Until then they have an awesome defense, an above average running back in Matt Forte, an overrated QB with an attitude problem, and no one to catch the ball. I believe in the axiom that defense wins championships…..Baltimore and Pittsburgh have proven that. But Minnesota’s defense is just as good if not better than Chicago’s, and offensively there’s just no comparison. Non division games against the Steelers, the Cardinals, and the Ravens will be super tough.

Detroit Lions                        4-12

Hey, atleast they’ll not go winless again this year. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so no one expects a quick turnaround in Motown. If QB Matthew Stafford proves to be the real deal and they continue to add pieces to the offense and the defense then maybe we can expect something approaching respectability for the Lions in about 3 or 4 years. I suspect by then there will be yet another new coach and a bunch of new players, but that’s a long way away. In 2009 winning 4 games will be a welcome improvement.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals               10-6

A year ago at this time no one was picking the Cardinals to go to the Super Bowl. Not only did they go but they darn near won the thing. Ohio State’s Beanie Wells replaces the departed Edgerrin James at running back, a risky move considering Wells’ injury history. I also don’t believe Kurt Warner is the long term answer at quarterback. Matt Leinart needs to shape up or ship out. But for now, in 2009, there is a belief that Warner can atleast keep things moving in a positive direction. Do I think the Cards will make it back to the Super Bowl?? No, I don’t. But they should be able to maintain dominance in their division and make the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks               9-7

I’ve always believed that Seattle was better on paper than in reality, but they aren’t as bad as they played last year. The injury bug bit and bit hard in 2008. If they can avoid that this season they instantly become better. Jim Mora Jr. takes over as head coach after Mike Holmgren decided not to return, so that should freshen things up a bit. Receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh finally escaped Cincinnati and will be hungry to prove he is a legitimate #1 WR as well as see what it’s like to actually be part of a winner. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the primary running back, Julius Jones or the newly signed Edgerrin James. Even if they run a tandem it’s not a bad duo. A couple of additions were made on the defensive side of the ball, and how quickly that group gels could decide on which side of .500 the Seahawks finish. I’m optimistic they will rebound from last year’s aberration and once again be in the playoff hunt.

San Francisco 49ers          6-10

Deciding between Alex Smith and Shaun Hill in the starting quarterback competition is like going to a restaurant and having the choice of beef broth or unsalted crackers…..uninspiring, uninteresting, unappetizing, and not fulfilling in any way. After establishing themselves as one of the all time elite franchises during the glory years of Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh, and George Seifert the 49ers have now slipped into Bengals/Browns/Lions territory, which I find sad. They drafted WR phenom Michael Crabtree with their 1st round pick and he has subsequently held out all summer and may hold out all year and go back into the draft next year. No matter how it shakes out long term, within the framework of this season it’s a wasted choice and eerily reminiscent of something that might happen to Cincinnati and not to great teams like Pittsburgh, New England, or Indianapolis. I like Mike Singletary as a coach just as I fondly recall his fierce talent as a player, but I think the problems in San Francisco start upstairs and until those issues are resolved the coaches and players are just pawns in a perpetually losing situation.

St. Louis Rams                     5-11

Wow…what has happened to the Rams?? It wasn’t that long ago that The Greatest Show On Turf was appearing weekly at a stadium near you, but the Dick Vermeil/Kurt Warner/Torry Holt era is over and done. Even offensive tackle Orlando Pace is gone. I’m a big fan of QB Marc Bulger, who is a former West Virginia Mountaineer, and I think Steven Jackson is among the league’s best running backs when he is healthy. But beyond those two the cupboard is pretty bare and the Rams are in full on rebuild mode. Nothing happened in the offseason to give anyone any reason to believe a dramatic turnaround is imminent after last season’s 2-14 epic failure. I suspect more turnover…..perhaps a new QB or even a very quick and sudden end to Steve Spagnolo’s short tenure as coach..…will occur before this team begins to show signs of a full recovery.