Tuesday, August 29, 2006

ESPNU to Televise My High School's Football Team

from Charlotte.com | 08/28/2006 | ESPNU to televise Butler-Independence game

ESPNU will televise the Independence-Butler high school football game live nationally at 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at Memorial Stadium.

The game, a Butler home game, will be the regular-season finale for the rival schools. For the past few seasons, it has been shifted to Memorial Stadium to accommodate a larger crowd.

“I think it will be very exciting for the program,” Independence athletics director Kelly Lewis said. “A lot of players don’t get media attention outside of local newspapers. This will be good for Independence, Butler and CMS (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools).

ESPNU, an affiliate of its parent network ESPN, specializes in college sports and has a fall schedule of high school football telecasts.

Independence’s 94-game winning streak is the longest current in the nation, and second-longest in national history. Butler (1-0) played its rival tough last season, losing 22-7 in the N.C. 4AA playoffs, and 41-31 in the regular season.

Sportz' Fantasy Draft

Monday, August 28, 2006

Chuck Norris and the Deadly Dolphins

I love the 80s.  Cartoons weren't computer generated and they all followed the same formula.  Stupid bad guys in dumb get-ups [or handicaps].  The TV star has his own show featuring a rag tag elite fighting force which usually includes a kid, an ethnic figher......or an ethnic fighting kid.  And usually there is a talking animal. 

Anyways....enjoy.....the young......Chuck Norris.

Shimmy Shimmy Ya!

Since I've had a really busy week....I haven't been able to properly keep up with all the haps in the sports world.  So this will hopefully rectify it...

49 DIE IN KENTUCKY PLANE CRASH:  A plane crashed just after taking off in Lexington, KY on Sunday morning.  It happened about an hour away from where I sit now.  Only one person has survived, a co-pilot, and he is still in critical condition.  Speculation is that the plane used the wrong runway.....one that was too short.  Of the 49 dead is Jon Hooker....a former pitcher for the Kentucky Wildcats [a teammate of D-backs' pitcher Brandon Webb] who had a stint in the minor leagues.  He was married on Saturday night and was on his way to his honeymoon this morning.  He was 27. 

PANTHERS STEROID TROUBLE:  Go to AOL SPORTS: PANTHERS to check out the story written by David Warner on the recent breaking story on the Carolina Panthers and the steroid scandal.  It really begs the question.....is baseball set to a higher standard??  I mean, if something like this broke in the MLB....it would be a firestorm.  Imagine if the 2004 St Louis Cardinals had a ton of guys taking roids that year....and that it was a well known thing.  All hell would break loose.  But, in the NFL...it is a mildly buzz worthy story. 

TIGER WOODS WINS AGAIN:  Let's see.  Tiger wins his 52nd event.  He won his fourth straight event he's entered....and on the 10th anniversary of him turning pro.  In the 13 events he's entered this year....he has won 6 of them.  Yikes!

REDS FALLING:  When the weekend began, the Reds and Cardinals were tied atop the NL Central.  Then the Reds got ripped in three straight with the Giants....while the Cardinals won three straight over the Cubs.  Now Cincy's lead in the wildcard is just 1/2 a game over the Padres....who the Reds will visit next weekend. 

OWENS SAGA:  Now the Cowboys have fined T.O. $9,500 for being, well, T.O.  Couldn't happen to a better franchise!

TEAM USA:  Our hoops team dismantled Australia to advance to the World Championships quarterfinal round.  Now, we get Dirk Nowitki and the German team.  Most likely the Americans should cruise to the gold medal game where they get to face off against either Argentina or Spain....the two teams that could topple them. 

HEISMAN WATCH:  Um, why is there one??  Oh, because the Heisman is the most ridiculously overhyped award in sports.  I mean, does the NBA put out a list of MVP candidates before the season starts??  How about the NFL or MLB???  And it is a bullcrap voting system anyways that bases everything on exposure.  That's why they should just ship the award to Brady Quinn since you know every Notre Dame game will be on national TV.

Ktmdog's Competitor Challenge


Some athletes just have that killer desire to succeed.  To have to win.  The need to win.  People that really feel that second place is just the first loser.  People who may be more disliked by their teammates....since these guys are so demanding of them. 

But who is the biggest competitor of them all??  Who is the one that lives for the moments that scare the crap out of everyone else? 

My buddy Ktmdog is trying to figure that out.

Below is the tournament bracket as determined by Ktmdog from a list of competitors voted on by him, me, RichCBT, LBerg, Johnnysee, LakrMike, YCSJ, Endora, Bax Deal, Fine Asset, WolfOnTheAir, JRowe and fellow AOL bloggers Yannis and RaisinBrn.  This is the first round......

Pacific Division
1. Jerry West [NBA] vs. Michael Jordan [NBA]
2. Larry Bird [NBA] vs. Jim Brown [NFL]
3. Jerry Rice [NFL] vs. Emmitt Smith [NFL]
4. Dick Butkis [NFL] vs. Ronnie Lott [NFL]

Midwest Division
1. Muhammad Ali [boxing] vs. Gordie Howe [NHL]
2. Tiger Woods [golf] vs. Wayne Gretzky [NHL]
3. Joe Louis [boxing] vs. Sugar Ray Robinson [boxing]
4. Martina Navratilova [tennis] vs. Ty Cobb [baseball]

East Division
1. Carl Lewis [track] vs. Bruce Lee [martial arts]
2. Ricky Marciano [boxing] vs. Bill Russell [NBA]
3. Bob Gibson [baseball] vs. Pete Rose [baseball]
4. Kobe Bryant [NBA] vs. Lawrence Taylor [NFL]

South Division
1. Jake Lamotta [boxing] vs. Annika Sorenstam [tennis]
2. Joe Montana [NFL] vs. Emil Zatopek [track]
3. Babe Didrickson [golf] vs. Fanny Blankers-Koen [track]
4. Jackie Robinson [baseball] vs. Magic Johnson [NBA]

There were some very worthy people mentioned for this tournament....but with trying to include a variety of sports in a variety of eras.....this is what you get.  Feel free to comment on who think should win these matchups.  When the winners are determined, I'll get the 2nd round out to you. 

Sunday, August 27, 2006



Ya know, after last week's home loss to the Jets, Joe Gibbs was animated in the postgame news conference.  He said things need to get better in a hurry.


Washington strolled into New England for Preaseason Game #3....and promptly were smacked up 41-0. 

Yards??  Patriots 464.  Redskins 154.

Passing yards??  Patriots 294.  Redskins 80. 

First downs???  Patriots 30.  Redskins 8.

Penalties??  Patriots 3.  Redskins 12.

And we got our lone scoring chance....a 43 yard FG attempt.....blocked. 

But, hey....we didn't turn the ball over this time!!  Things are looking up.  Sorry....just thinking about this game is making me sick.

Send Some Smack to a Fellow Fantasy Owner!

           Hang in There!

ESPN has some dumb ideas sometimes....but sometimes they hit something on the mark.

The smack card.

Go to this link...ESPN.com Fantasy Football eCards....and set up a fantasy football smack card.  You can e-mail them to fantasy owners to talk a little junk to each other.  Choose prewritten smack....or create your own.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Steve Smith Trash Talks Chad Johnson

I like Steve Smith even better now.

I mean, he plays for my hometown Carolina Panthers and he's one of my keepers in my Fantasy Football League.....but he added to his legend in the Sportz Room now.

On NFL Network's "NFL Total Access".....host Rich Eisen asked Smith about the new TD celebration rules which have been dubbed the "Chad Johnson rules".  Smith replied with the fact that Chad had 7 touchdowns last year [actually, it was 9, Steve] and he only had 12.....which led the NFL.  And he also smacked back, "Oh, and in late January, he was at home watching #89 play."


I'd be willing to add that Steve Smith has a TD reception in a Super Bowl [a really nice one] while Chad has gone 0-1 if playoff games with zero TDs. 


Vince Carter to Charlotte???


This just appeared from RealGM:

According to a close friend of Vince Carter, his wife, Ellen, began divorce proceedings recently, which may become a significant factor in whether or not he remains with the Nets.

If Ellen were to gain custody of their 1-year-old daughter and elects to move back to Orlando or her own hometown in South Carolina, Carter could be motivated to sign with the Magic or Charlotte Bobcats just to stay close, as both teams have can sign him due to their significant cap space.

The last time Carter addressed his contract situation, he stated, "I just let it be as it may, and when the time comes, I'll deal with it."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Surviving Racism


Survivor [a show I really never watched] is going old school with it's 13th season. 

There are four teams.  Oooooo.  Each team has 5 people.  Oooooo.  The teams?

White team.
Black team.
Hispanic team.
Asian team.

What??  This new setup brings in a bunch of questions.....and a bunch of ratings.  I mean, why else would anyone talk about Survivor unless they are getting their betting pools together? 

The setup invites a ton of stereotypes....and I pray to god that they thought long and hard about who comprises these teams.  You don't want something happen....and "middle white America" say "see, I told you they all are like that."  The producers claimed the contestants had "ethnic pride".....which is foolish.  Ethnic pride??  ASIAN covers a slew of countries.  And last time I checked, sticking a Japanese person, a Chinese person, a Vietnamese person, a Thai person and a Korean person on the same team and there isn't much that binds them.  And "Asian", to me, means Pakastan, Russia, Ukraine, India and Mongolia.....since they are also ASIAN countries.

Same with the Hispanic team [or "Mexican team"....as one of my unenlightened co-workers said].  Are these Americans of Latino decent???  Or people who are actually from Latin America.  And are Spaniards included??  How about the white team?  A white person from New England is different than a white person from the South.....or a white person from California.  And black?  Is that African Americans, Africans, Cubans, what??

And why did they stop there???  Why not an Arabic team??  Where are they??  How about Indian people.  I mean, they only comprise 1/6 of the world's population.  Both races are very prominant in American culture.  And honestly, I can see how this shakes out.  Where I work, there are whites, blacks, Hispanics and "Asians".  Will we sit down for our break and secretly be rooting for our races to suceed???  Most likely, yes. 

Of course, the most interesting part will be when those teams merge together as one.  Will you see the systematic "voting off" of the other races as alliances are built among the "our kinds".  It just is dumb to do something like this for the sake of ratings. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Two Tears In A Duckett


My Redskins added some more depth at the running back position by dealing for the Atlanta Falcons' TJ Duckett. 

It is both an interesting and troubling move by Washington.

Interesting, since Duckett was one of the NFL's better "red zone backs"....meaning he is a great battering ram on short yardage situations.  It gives the Skins some good depth at the position...with All-Pro Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts already in tow [and top FB Mike Sellers].

Troubling, since this may be a sign that both Portis and Betts [who are both injured] are coming along from their injuries slower than expected.  Portis is hoping to be back for Week 1....but that's not a given.  Betts is playing, but banged up enough where if he cannot go...the Skins have no other option behind him [well, Rock Cartwright....but NOOOO].

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sportz' 2006-2007 Bowl Game Predictions

Here are my predicitions for the 2006-2007 Bowl Season.  And I guarantee this predicition will come true:

This won't remotely be right.

Who cares?  It's just fun to see what we can make outta this Play-Dough.

POINSETTA BOWL:  BYU v Houston.  BYU heads back to the site of many great Holiday Bowl memories.  Just, not in the Holiday Bowl.  Houston may make an entrance as an at-large team.  If so, this could be one great shootout!

LAS VEGAS BOWL:  Arizona State v Utah.  If the Devils don't get to El Paso, they'll gladly head up the street to Vegas.  I think that TCU heads to a BCS game...and that Utah slides up to take this spot. 

NEW ORLEANS BOWL:  La-Lafayette v Memphis.  This may be an example of too many bowl games. 

NEW MEXICO BOWL:  New Mexico v Nevada.  Duh.  New Mexico will be playing in this game.  And meeting up with Nevada won't be a bad thing for fan interest. 

BIRMINGHAM BOWL:  Rutgers v Southern Miss. The Knights are trying to make this a habit.  I guess that Southern Miss is too. 

FT WORTH BOWL:  Colorado State v Tulsa.  The Rams won't be here if TCU doesn't get that BCS bid.  Neither should Tulsa. 

HAWAII BOWL:  Arizona v Fresno State.  I think this is the year that Mike Stoops gets his Arizona team into a bowl.  There, they will play always battle tested Fresno. 

MOTOR CITY:  Michigan State v Akron.  If the Spartans can get bowl eligible, you know that the Motor City people would love to see them in Detroit.  I don't know why....but I like Akron to win the MAC

EMERALD BOWL:  Maryland v UCLA. A pretty good 1970s basketball game.  The Terps head across the country for this one...while the Bruins just head up the coast. 

INDEPENDENCE BOWL:  Missouri v Mississippi.  Miss??  Or Mizz???

HOLIDAY BOWL:  California v Nebraska.  The Pac-10 hasn't figured out a way to get it's #2 team onto the New Year's stage.  Nebraska could get into the BCS with an upset in the Big XII title game.  Too bad they won't. 

TEXAS BOWL:  Pittsburgh v Kansas. The Panthers and Jayhawks will usher in the former Houston Bowl. 

MPC COMPUTERS BOWL:  NC State v Boise State. If NC State does indeed qualify, they could get snatched up by the Meineke Bowl.  If not, they'll play Boise on their blue turf. 

CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL:  Virginia Tech v Purdue.  V-Tech gets squeezed down to this game....while this would be a nice reserrection from Purdue. 

MUSIC CITY BOWL:  Georgia Tech v South Carolina. Boston College should get the nod here...but the Music City Bowl will want a more local team.  Steve Spurrier sets foot in a state that hates him.  Always fun. 

SUN BOWL:  Oregon v Texas A&M.  The Quack Attack invades El Paso.  Though if Arizona State is available, they could get slotted here.  The Sun Bowl will get either Texas A&M or Texas Tech....whichever one the Alamo passes up. 

INSIGHT:  Northwestern v Iowa State. The Wildcats offense will light up the desert sky!  Iowa State will try to keep up.  Iowa State travels really well and could gain an advantage. 

ALAMO BOWL:  Wisconsin v Texas Tech. Hey, this has become one of the better pre-New Years Day bowls.  Either Texas Tech or Texas A&M will get the nod here.  Tech brings more excitement plus an interesting contrast in styles. 

LIBERTY BOWL:  UTEP v Arkansas. I just think the Miners are the Conference USA's top prize.  Arkansas brings some local flair. 

MEINEKE CAR CARE:  Boston College v Navy.  If a North Carolina school is bowl eligible [NC State has the best shot] then they may get this bid.  I don't think one will [despite my NCSU pick earlier]...so BC heads to Charlotte for the 2nd time in three years.  They will play Navy, who has entered a partnership to this game. 

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL:   Clemson v Alabama.  The Chick-fil-A bowl gets first dibs on the non-BCS ACC teams....and Clemson would draw well.  Plus, that lackluster showing from Miami last year left a bad taste in their mouths.  They'd love it if Georgia could fall here...but Bama will just have to do. 

GATOR BOWL:  Miami v West Virginia.  The Canes miss out on a BCS berth with the TCU surprise.  West Virginia will miss out with a loss to Louisville [and I think another upset in there].  Still, this game should be pretty good.  Former Big East foes going at it!

COTTON BOWL:  Oklahoma v Georgia.  The Sooners first trip will be a loss to Texas.  What about this second trip??  And what about a great game with the Georgia Bulldogs!! 

OUTBACK BOWL:  Michigan v Tennessee. Always a neat game when these two programs can meet up. 

CAPITAL ONE BOWL:  Penn State v Florida.  Some nice athletic talent all over this field if this matchup happens. 

INTERNATIONAL BOWL:  South Florida v Toledo.  Those Canadians won't realize this matchup sucks. 

GMAC BOWL:  Northern Illinois v Central Florida.  This will be the bowl game that will set the plate for the BCS national championship game????

FIESTA BOWL:  Texas v LSU.  Both Texas and LSU will lose a game to teams that could be in the BCS title game.  So this will be a really nice game. 

ROSE BOWL:  Iowa v TCU.  The Big Ten v Pac 10 matchup will be in the BCS title game....so the Rose Bowl settles for this.  TCU may run the table in the Mountain West and become just the second non-BCS team to make it in. 

ORANGE BOWL:  Florida State v Louisville.  Louisville could have a crack at the title game if things work in their favor.  I think they'll lost once and end up facing the Seminoles...who will win a non-elite ACC this year. 

SUGAR BOWL:  Auburn v Notre Dame.  I think that Auburn will slip once in the insanely tough SEC.  Notre Dame will get clipped by USC to end the season....and end up playing in the 2nd best bowl game. 

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP:  Ohio State v USC.  I think that Ohio State upsets Texas in Austin and then runs the table the rest of the way.  No conference title game is a bonus.  Same goes for USC....which has a tough schedule that lays out decent enough for the Trojans to keep winning. 

Monday, August 21, 2006

VIDEO: Doug Williams Owning Denver

This was the day where "Hail To The Redskins" surpassed "Happy Birthday" for Most Played Song In the World

The NEW College Bowls for 2006-2007

There are a few new bowls [and two renamed ones] for the upcoming college bowl season.  Let's take a look......


NEW MEXICO BOWL.  The New Mexico Bowl will be played in Albuquerque, NM and feature the #3 or #4 team from the Mountain West Conference and the #3 team from the WAC.  The game will be played on December 23.


BIRMINGHAM BOWL:  Conference USA will play a team from the Big East this year [they alternate with the MAC] in the first Birmingham Bowl.  It too will be played on December 23.  This marks the return of college bowls to Birmingham.  They've held the Dixie Bowl [1947-48], the Hall of Fame Classic [1977-1985...then moved to Tampa and eventually became the Outback Bowl] and the All American Bowl [1986-1990]. 


TEXAS BOWL:  The Texas Bowl was the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl and the Houston Bowl the last few years.  This bowl was dead in the water this spring.  The sponsorship with EV1.net expired and the Houston Bowl was broke.  But, the Houston Texans and NFL Network stepped in and took control of the bowl and are reviving it as the "Texas" Bowl.   The Big XII, Big East and Conference USA [along with TCU from the Mountain West Conference] will be associated with the game.  It will be played on December 28.


CHICK-FIL-A BOWL:  This was the Peach Bowl from 1968 until, well, today.  Chick-fil-A had been the main sponsor for the game since 1997 and took over control this season.  This bowl has big plans when the the BCS and other bowls adjust themselves in a few years.  This bowl wants a bigger matchup....possibly taking the Capital One Bowl's place in the heiarchy.  In fact, the new name [and more money] has convinced the ACC to give the Chick-fil-A bowl first pick after the BCS selections.  The ACC team routinely plays the 5th place SEC team.  It will be played in Atlanta on December 30.


INTERNATIONAL BOWL:  This new bowl will be played in Toronto's Rogers Centre [better known as the SkyDome].  It's the first NCAA sanctioned bowl game to be played outside of the United States since the Bacardi Bowl in Cuba back in 1937.  The Big East and MAC face off in the game...which will be played on January 7. 


BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:  Technically not a bowl game....kinda.  Since 1998, the BCS has pitted their championship game on a rotating basis with the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls.  Now, they've added this bowl game....which will use a "double host" system.  That means that one of those four bowl games will play host to the BCS Championship game a week after their bowl games.  This year, the game will be played in Glendale, AZ....site of the Fiesta Bowl.  Tostitos has bought the rights to sponsor the game....and keeping it's Fiesta Bowl ties as well.

NFL Possible Surprises and Disappointments


Look....we all make mistakes.  If anyone actually could predict exactly what will happen in the 2006 NFL season, they'd be swimming in won gambling earnings soon.  We just don't.  Though I have tried [listen to Sports Bloggers Live - AOL Sports for my NFL divisional previews].....I know I won't get 'em right.

But who will screw it all up??  Who could be the teams that rise up and we say "ah, they are a fluke"???  Who could be the teams that struggle and we say "ah, they'll turn it around"???  Remember that most of us didn't see Chicago as the #2 seed in the NFC or the Philadelphia Eagles stinking up the joint prior to last year.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES:  This team has nearly been swept under the rug.  The horrid 2005 season and the defection of Terrell Owens puts them there.  But maybe TO leaves and the team comes together again.  Remember, Terrell Owens never played an NFC playoff game for the Eagles while he was there.  Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb should be extremely focused now that The Distraction isn't there anymore.  And the team could rally around that and make a surprise run in a tight NFC East.

DETROIT LIONS:  Hey, someone has to win the NFC North.  The Lions could do it.  On the surface, they have issues.  But Jon Kitna was the comeback player of the year with the Bengals during Carson Palmer's rookie season.  With Mike Martz in as offensive coordinator, he could get Kitna back to that level again.  And he could get the most out of disappointing, but talented receiving group that has three first rounders [Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Roy Williams] and a solid tight end in Marcus Pollard. 


GREEN BAY PACKERS:  Brett Favre had an ugly season last year [29 interceptions]....and they've lost Javon Walker to the Broncos and have no real running back.  Or, you could see it as Brett Favre still is as good as many other teams' QBs [he did throw for 3,800 yards and 20 TDs] and he can make a suspect receiving corps better.  Remember, there really weren't any big time wide outs even in Favre's hey day.  Hopefully someone in that running back mess can acend to the top.  Not to mention that their defense, though not spectacular, is much improved from last season. 

ARIZONA CARDINALS:  It comes down to if the offensive line can salvage their name.  They were horrid last year...and there hasn't been much to change it this year.  But, if they can protect Kurt Warner enough that he can use his stellar set of receivers [Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin] and they can open some holes for Edgerrin James....well, the Cards could make a playoff run. 

BALTIMORE RAVENS:  Sure, the QB guru Brian Billick has yet to develop a QB in B-more and may be on the ropes.  But if Steve McNair can stay healthy....the team could surprise.  There are weapons on offense [Jamal Lewis, Derrek Mason, Mark Clayton, Mike Anderson, Todd Heap] that should get much, much better with a confident McNair leading them.  The defense isn't as unstoppable as it once was...but still has former MVPs Ray Lewis and Ed Reed who can step up their games and at least hold teams off a bit.



CINCINNATI BENGALS:  Look, the Bengals are one of my favorites to reach the Super Bowl.  But they could crash and burn.  I mean, these are the Bengals.  Already, the Bengals have had so many offseason arrests that it has become a nuisance with the team.  Add in Carson Palmer's injury, which, we really don't know how it will affect his play when he does get back on the field.  Odell Thurman is suspended for four games....and their big free agent signee Sam Adams has yet to practice with the team.  Oh, and that schedule is a beast too.

DALLAS COWBOYS:  They have a bad schedule, too......and Terrell Owens.  Owens should have a big year...maybe similar to his first season in Philly.  But he's already angred his new teammates and coaches without, really, even opening his mouth.  He's barely practiced with the team...and has brought on some off field distractions with books and interviews basically "explaining" his time in Philadelphia.  But it ain't just T.O.  This team couldn't seal the deal last year with an arguably better team.  The offensive line isn't that good...and their best back [Julius Jones] has yet shown an ability to stay on the field.  Also, it looks as if Drew Bledsoe's time is numbered as the starting QB.  With the bad line, a moblie Tony Romo could get the nod.  And if T.O. chewed up Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb....what could he do to a guy who's never thrown an NFL pass???

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:  I know everyone loves Larry Johnson right now....but is he really as good as he was at the end of last year??  Maybe so.  But that offensive line isn't as good without Willie Roaf.  Herm Edwards also will put the reigns on what used to be an explosive offense.  The Chiefs will ground out the ball.  But usually that means the defense must play well....which it never has.  With mashers Rudi Johnson, Edgerrin James, LaDanlian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, Steven Jackson, LaMont Jordan and Reuben Droughns on their plate this season....the Chiefs could find themselves in some trouble. 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:  The Pats are still good....but the pillaging of their coaches has left the team a bit in transition.  That, plus their receiving corps is thin....as is their secondary [which sometimes contained the same players].


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Skins Get Spanked By Jets

I agree with Joe Gibbs...who pretty much looked like a dad who had his kids act up in front of his boss at the company picnic.  He wasn't at all pleased and dressed down the players and coaches in his post game media chat.

The Redskins lost to the New York Jets 27-14.

What bothered me was the same thing that bothered me from last year's team....big plays.  The Redskins lost several games because they gave up big plays [Priest Holmes and LaDanlian Tomlinson got two key ones].  In this game, rookie Brad Smith ran a reverse 61 yards for a TD and rookie Leon Washington ran a kick return 87 yards for another TD.  The Jets ran for 216 yards on the Skins. 

Also, Cornelius Griffin went down with an injury [they said he's fine]....making it the 2nd defensive lineman to go down this week [Phillip Daniels hurt his back].  The Redskins turned the ball over 3 more times....making it 6 giveaways in two preseason games.

However, it ain't all bad.  Todd Collins and Jason Campbell looked better this week and the Skins showed an ability to run the ball with no Portis in the game.  I am hoping and praying that we are just seeing the Redskins playing "vanilla ball" where they aren't showing anything but base plays.  Gibbs usually does that...and I hope that's the case this year.

The NFC South

CLICK THIS LINK TO HEAR ME DISCUSS THE NFC SOUTH [fast forward 20 minutes in]:  http://sportsbloggerslive.podcast.aol.com/sbl_podcast081706.mp3

The NFC South has turned into maybe the NFC's top division in the past 5 years or so.  Carolina has a shot at being a Super Bowl contender and the Buccaneers aren't too far away.  Atlanta has Michael Vick, one of the premiere stars in the game.  All three have great young coaches [well, Fox isn't that young].  Oh, and then there is New Orleans...who we will get to later.



COACH'S STATE:  Coach John Fox may have the coolest seat in the NFC.  He's taken a Panthers' franchise that had just one winning season into a NFC Champion and, last year, a NFC runner up.  And last year they did it with smoke and mirrors.  Injuries hurt the defense and their running game.  Yet, Fox adjusted his gameplans and still got his team to the NFC title tilt.
BIGGEST ADDITION:  Sure, Keyshawn Johnson will alleviate some pressure on Steve Smith....it will be DT Maake Kemoeatu which will have the biggest impact.  Carolina had issues stopping the run last year...and with the recent injury woes of fellow tackle Kris Jenkins, Kemoeatu will be a huge upgrade.  This also causes a domino effect.  He can keep blockers off the linebackers which frees them up to make plays.  It also makes it difficult to constantly double up Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker.  And with those guys being able to man the box...it frees up the secondary to stay with the receivers.  The entire defense should benefit. 
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION:  If this was 2004, then the losses of Stephen Davis, Ricky Proehl, Brentson Buckner and Ricky Manning would be huge.  But this is 2006.  Losing OLB Will Witherspoon is the key.  Witherspoon has great range and coverage skills and was a key asset to a franchise that has had issues with injuries and illness in the LB corps.  Carolina will replace Witherspoon with Keith Adams and Thomas Davis...the latter being a safety a year ago. 
PLAYERTHAT NEEDS TO SHOW UP:  The key to the team will be if DeShawn Foster can stay on the field.  Fox loves to run the football...and Foster is their main man.  But he has a history of injuries which cost the Panthers in the NFC title game.  They drafted DeAngelo Williams as a capable backup...but Foster must be the horse. 
OFFENSE:  Fox likes running the ball...and with Foster, Williams and Eric Shelton they should be able to do so.  And if defenses try to stop that....then Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith can make them pay.  Smith was the top receiver in the NFL last year and could be even more deadly with Keyshawn.  The line is solid, though with a few defections. 
DEFENSE:  Again, the defensive front should be solid.  Not only do they have Peppers, Kemoeatu, Jenkins and Rucker...but they can rotate Al Wallace and Demione Lewis in.  Great depth.  As I said earlier, the linebackers will have an adjustment period as they lost Witherspoon and Brandon Short.  The secondary is great.  They have, essentially, two shut down corners in Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble.  They did lose Marlon McCree at safety...but still have stallwart Mike Minter.  This defense will be darn good.
SCHEDULE:  The NFC South faces off with the AFC North...so there should be some great games in there.  Because of that, the Panthers have to go to Baltimore and Cincinnati and get Pittsburgh at home.  In the NFC, Carolina have NY Giants, Dallas and Washington to worry about.  Aside from the mandatory NFC South games, they have Minnesota and St. Louis.  Not too shabby. 
OUTLOOK:  The Panthers have all the trappings of a Super Bowl champion.  With Johnson as his new "Mushin Muhammad"....Delhomme should have a much better year since he won't have to force the ball into Smith constantly.  But, he won't lose sight of Smith, who could have an even bigger year.  The defense should be near great again that they can take someof those Delhomme chances and hopefully not cost them as dearly.  The biggest obsticle [as it is with any team] is injuries.  Guys like Foster, Dan Morgan and Jenkins need to stay on the field as much as possible.  They do that...they could be in Super Bowl XLI.



COACH'S STATE:  Jon Gruden may be able to have the kind of offense he's wanted since his days with the Raiders.  Gruden did take the Bucs to a Super Bowl title in his first season...but the team floundered since.  A division title last year was nice, but the team was upset at home by Washington in the first round.  The good thing that came out of that game was the emergence of Chris Simms as a somewhat reliable QB.  If Simms can build on what he's done thus far, Gruden can have a blistering offense again.
BIGGEST ADDITION:  Well, Tampa really didn't add anything but depth.  The top addition will probably be rookie WR Maurice Stovall.  He is a big receiver with speed who could become a factor in a more open Gruden offense. 
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION:  The team didn't lose much on defense either, so really only QB Brian Griese qualifies.  Sure, Simms is the starter...but he became one right after Griese went down with an injury.  And looking at the Tampa QBs, they really don't have much experience past...well...Griese.  Still, he won't be missed that much. 
PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO SHOW UP:  Chris Simms, obviously.  The keys are in his possession and he is the man to run this ship.  He really has no one behind him but retreads.  He played really well in the playoffs and made a beautiful would be game winning pass for a TD had it not been dropped. 
OFFENSE:  Again, it is up to Simms.  If he can stay on this upward path, than Gruden can open up the offense more.  If not, then it will be steady doses of Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman.  There are weapons around Simms to suceed. 
DEFENSE:  It still is good.  I mean, when you can still line up Booger McFarland, Simeon Rice, Shelton Quarles, Brian Kelly, Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks....you are still okay.  Not only is the personel good...butguru Marty Kiffin is still there calling the shots.  . 
SCHEDULE:  Like Carolina....the Buccaneers have a tough schedule.  And since they win the division [not Carolina]...they get it worse.  How about games at Atlanta, NY Giants, Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Chicago??  Add in home games with Baltimore, Carolina, Cincinnati, Washington, Atlanta and Seattle and there is a tough roadmap.  They also have a late stretch where they play 4 of 5 on the road.
OUTLOOK:  Only one starter is gone from the defending NFC South champs.  So, they should repeat, eh?  Well, a tough sked mixed in with relying on what was an unreliable QB could spell a step back.  I think they will still be a good team...possibly a playoff team.  But one reason the won the division was the injuries Carolina had.  I think that the Panthers will be better and get past Tampa for the division.  But a wildcard can be had. 



COACH'S STATE:  Jim Mora is one of the best up and coming coaches in the NFL and is respected by his GM, Rick McKay.  His issue, though, has been trying to fit Michael Vick's talents into what the Falcons want to do on offense.  He has yet been able to do so....and it may end up costing him.  The coaching staff and Vick have been at odds of late...and, well, Vick sells tickets so he ain't goin' anywhere
BIGGEST ADDITION:  DE John Abraham will bring back that great Falcons pass rush of old.  His addition brings the Falcons front line to him, Patrick Kearney, Rod Coleman and Darrell Shropshire.  A tough line indeed!  Injuries and attitude have been issues in the past with Abraham...but his talent has always been there. 
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION:  I hate to say a kicker...but they need a kicker.  Todd Peterson is gone from the Falcons and Atlanta has yet to replace him.  He missed just 2 of 25 FG attempts last year and in this rough and tumble division...close games are plentiful.  The Falcons had five games decided bya FG or less last year. 
PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO SHOW UP:  Michael Vick is a superstar but not really a great QB yet.  His physical talents are breathtaking....but an NFL quarterback has got to be able to consistently play in the pocket.  Many teams just try to keep Vick back there by not putting too much pressure on him...not letting him run out of the pocket.  They don't respect his decisions passing the ball.  And because of this, the Falcons are too one-dimentional. 
OFFENSE:  This is a running team.  They have solid backs, a good line and a QB that can pick up yardage on the ground.  The issue is passing the ball.  Vick seems to only trust huge TE Alge Crumpler...and that's because he's a big target.  Vick doesn't see open players until they are really open.  And that hinders the team. 
DEFENSE:  The defense should be much improved.  The additions of Abraham, Lawyer Milloy and rookie Jimmy Williams should shore up deficiencies they had a year ago.  Atlanta prides itself on tough defense and that running game.  The problem is that they let opponents score 30+ points on them FIVE times.  Again, the new blood should help bring that down.
SCHEDULE:  Just like everyone else...Atlanta has a tough sked.  And they get the mandatory tough stretch after Thanksgiving...with at Washington, at Tampa and then Dallas and Carolina at home.  They begin the season with three straight division games...two of which are on the road.  They got to get out to a decent start.
OUTLOOK:  Like I just said, the Falcons begin with a big start.  They are in Carolina, host Tampa and are at New Orleans.  An 0-fer there would be disasterous.  It is up to Michael Vick and Jim Mora to figure out some kind of passing game.  If they can, the Falcons can compete with Carolina and Tampa.  If not...watch out...this could be an ugly season. 



COACH'S STATE:  Sean Payton finally gets his shot at a head coaching gig.  He had other shots...but for some reason took this Saints job.  That says a lot about New Orleans' ability to try to rework their franchise from the muck of 2005. 
BIGGEST ADDITION:  It seems that Reggie Bush landing in the Saints' laps marks good fortune for a team that had such bad in 2005.  But it will be Drew Brees that will try to bring back the Saints.  With Payton a former QB coach....Brees should be able to have success in the offense.  There are weapons there when healthy, and Brees can make the most of them.  Signing Brees also shows the NFL that New Orleans can still attract big time free agents into town. 
BIGGEST SUBTRACTION:  The Saints lost several players, but were strong in those areas anyways.  But the loss of CB Fakhir Brown could hurt the most.  They didn't replace him with any free agents and they didn't have anything already on their roster that can step in. 
PLAYER THAT NEEDS TO SHOW UP:  Joe Horn is still a top notch receiver...but he had an all around bad season last year.  He will be key in getting Brees into the Saints passing groove.  He can stretch the field and turn short passes into long gains.  If he and Brees can get on the same wavelength, the Saints offense could be really good.
OFFENSE:  Speaking of the offense, it has talent.  Not only does Brees have Horn to toss it to, but Donte Stallworth and Zach Hilton could have big years too.  And let us not forget those two backs they have....Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.  Both can carry the load for the Saints, who may use both considerably.  Bush could be used as a slot receiver at times.  The problem is their offensive line...which is rebuilt.  There is no depth and the guys they got haven't really worked together...with several changing positions.
DEFENSE:  They have a solid front line led by Will Smith.  After that, they are just decent.  They will attack a lot, but the secondary may not be good enough to stop big plays from happening.  The entire defense lacks depth pretty much everywhere. 
SCHEDULE:  The sked is unkindto N'Awlins.  They must go to Carolina, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas and NY Giants.  Yowser.  Add home games with Atlanta, Tampa, Cincinnati, Washington and Carolina and the Saints have a tough road to climb.
OUTLOOK:  It has to be better than 2005.  They will come back to the Superdome which has become the lasting image of how the infrastructure of New Orleans was damaged during Hurricane Katrina.  The Saints will be glad to have a real home again.  As much bad that happened in the city last year...the Saints have offered the city some good.  The Superdome will reopen, the drafting of Bush adds hope for the future, and signing Brees means that guys aren't as scared of the rebuilding as many would think.  Still, in this division this season...the Saints are on the tail end of the stick.  But, you gotta start somewhere

Mighty Healthy

"My god, so they are killers!  I've heard lots of people say once a man's a killer, they just keep on killing and killing; they sort of develop a taste for blood.

"Yeah, that's right. They kill one man, or kill ten,
it's all the same. After all, they can only hang you once."

Um....memo to the Red Sox.  You are playing the New York Yankees, ya know, your rivals?  Yeah.  Well, they've scored 39 runs on you...in three games...in two days.  You now are 4 1/5 games back of the Yankees now....and they are about to pull the plug on ya. 

Sportz Assassin's WNBA Playoff Assessment


I don't know....and I don't care.

I could sit here and lie to you.....but I won't.  I don't care about the WNBA.  Not at all.  I don't watch it.  Never have.

Oh, I've caught a minute or two here and there....but not an entire game.  And I am not that chauvanistic guy that says that women's sports suck.  Women's tennis is usually much more exciting than men's....and there are various women's Olympic events I watch.  I'm not smacking on lady hoops.  I probably catch 10-15 games of the NCAA women hoops games and keep up with the Lady Heels [and usually check out the UConn-Tennessee games and the women's Final Four]. 

I just don't watch the WNBA.  If not for a link on ESPN.com....I would've had no idea that the playoffs were going on right now.  I lived in Charlotte....and never once thought about going to a Sting game.  To be honest, I probably cannot name all the teams [most of them, but I'm not sure if the Portland Fire, Seattle Storm and Miami Sol still play].  The closest I've come to watching a WNBA game was renting "Juwanna Man". 

And it's not that I think it should go away.  Far from it.  Women's basketball is probably the biggest women's team sport in America [the soccer is pretty good too] and to have a pro league is great.  They are nice players too....and I've always said that women are better shooters than men. 

I just don't watch it. 

Saturday, August 19, 2006

It Was Only A Matter Of Time...


I usually love to sing the praises of all former Tar Heels.....but I must smack 'em when they disappoint, too.

Marion Jones....you're up!

According to ESPN.com, Marion Jones had a positive urine sample taken from her at an event in Indianapolis back in June.  If her B-sample comes back positive as well, Jones faces a 2-year ban.

She's been one of the dominant and most personable women in track and field over the past decade.  She won five medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  At North Carolina, she excelled in track and was the point guard on the Heels' 1994 National Championship women's basketball team. 

But rumors of doping have followed her over the past several years.  Victor Conte, the BALCO dude, has called her out...saying he had her on a steroid schedule.  Jones' ex-husband....a former runner....CJ Hunter, said Jones has used steroids.  Tim Montgomery....Jones' "baby daddy", has retired after a 2-year ban for suspected doping.  Her former Olympic coach, Trevor Graham, has had several of his clients test positive in recent years...including Justin Gatlin, who was just caught doping and faces a lifetime ban.  Graham is currently under investigation. 

All this smoke around her....you just knew there would be a fire. 

Friday, August 18, 2006

Snakes on a Plane


My friends and fellow bloggers over at the The Wade Blogs put up another gem.  The movie "Snakes on a Plane" is being pimped all over the place....and The Wade Blogs talk about a somewhat similar experience.

It involves Ric Flair, a robe and flight attendants.  Anyways, click the link to read his take. 

How Does The Baseball Calendar Look???

When handicapping the pennant races, you must look at schedules.  Some have easier ones than others which may be inducive for a strong stretch run.  Some may have a ton of landmines which could trip up a team.  Put those together...and it could equal quite a race down the stretch!!

NY YANKEES:  Well, they open up a 5-game series in Boston with a four-game series in the Bronx in a month.  This Sox series starts a tough stretch for the Yanks who [after a three game series in Seattle] must go to the Angels for 3....host the Tigers for 3.....then host the Twins for 3.  Yikes.  After that....it isn't horrid.  Three games with Kansas City, 7 with Tampa Bay, 7 with Baltimore.  But, late in the year...there is that Red Sox series and six games with the Toronto Blue Jays...including the final three. 


BOSTON:  Again, the Sox open up a five game series with the Yankees at home....and this starts a bear of a schedule.  The Yankees for five....at Angels for three...at Seattle for three...at Oakland for three....Toronto at home for four....Chicago at home for three.  Ouch.  They do have a series with the Royals, a two-game series with the D-Rays and two series with the Orioles....but have a stretch in mid/late September which sees them at the Yankees for four, Minnesota at home for three, then at Toronto for four. 

TORONTO:  Don't count the Jays out.  If anything, they can make their own way since they still have 8 games with the Red Sox and 6 with the Yankees.  They can also make up some ground now...since while the Yankees and Red Sox will be beating each other up...the Jays see the Orioles this weekend and the Indians and Royals for the next week [they do have an Oakland series breaking it up].  If Toronto can stay afloat...they can make their run at the end of the season....which sees them closing out with Boston [4 games], at Detroit [3] and at the Yankees [3].


DETROIT:  If the Tigers are gonna fold...they may do so now.  They've got a beast of a schedule the rest of the way.  They have 5 more against Texas, 7 against the White Sox, 3 at the Yankees, 3 with the Angels, 4 at Minnesota and 3 with Toronto.  Tough.  They do see the Royals six times and the Orioles 4. 

CHICAGO:  The White Sox can make up the gap in the AL Central since they face the Tigers 7 more times...and they just swept the Tigers last weekend.  They have a tough AL Central stretch right now...as they have two series with the Twins with a four game Tigers series in the middle.  They also must go to Boston, LA/Anaheim and Oakland in early September....with a homestand with Detroit following.  They also close at Minnesota to end the season, who they play 9 times the rest of the way.

MINNESOTA:  Right now, the Twins [who are 3rd in the AL Central] would have the 2nd best record in the National League and would lead the AL West.  But they can make up ground quickly.  They get the White Sox for 9 games and the Tigers for four.  But they do have an easier sked than the rest of the AL Central.  They'll see a lot of Kansas City, Tampa and Baltimore...but do have road series at New York and Boston.


OAKLAND/LOS ANGELES/TEXAS:  The beauty of the AL West is that they see a ton of each other.  The A's-Angels play 7 times [including the final series].  The A's-Rangers play 6 times.  And the Rangers-Angels play 7 times.  The Angels also play home series with Boston, Yankees, Toronto and Chicago...and on the road in Detroit.  Oakland must go to Toronto and Minnesota...and get Boston and Chicago at home.  Texas sees the Tigers at home and at Detroit...giving them the scheduling edge. 

ST LOUIS:  The Cards and Reds don't see each other again for the remainder of the season.  So there will be some scoreboard watching.  The Cardinals play at the Mets next week....then don't see anyone strong until playing at Arizona in the 2nd week of September.  After that??  A home series with the Padres.  The rest of it is against sub-.500 teams.


CINCINNATI:  The Reds have it different.  Again, while not seeing the Cards anymore, the Reds must keep pace with St Louis.  The problem is that you'd think by looking at the schedule that the Reds were back in the NL West again.  They play at the Giants [for 4], at Dodgers and at Padres [3 each] in a looong 10 game road trip.  That series could make or break Cincy.  They come out of that with the Giants three times and Padres three times at home.  After that big land mine....they skate with Chicago, Houston, Florida and Pittsburgh the rest of the way. 

LOS ANGELES:  Currently, the Dodgers lead the West...but that can change quickly.  They go to San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona beginning today....a 9-game road trip within the division.  After that?  Cincinnati at home.  They also must go to the Mets and Giants [again]...and see the Padres and Diamondbacks at Chavez Ravine. 

ARIZONA:  The D-backs can make their own way immediately.  They go to San Diego and San Francisco before seeing the Dodgers and Padres at home.  They also host the Cardinals in early September....and close with this:  at San Diego [3 games], at Los Angeles [3], at San Francisco [3] and at home with San Diego [4].  Wow!

SAN DIEGO:  Again, they'll see Arizona 13 times, Cincinnati 6 times, Los Angeles 7 times and St Louis three times.

COLORADO/SAN FRANCISCO:  Both teams run the gambit in the NL West...but the Rockies have it tougher.  They have 6 games with the Mets.  The Giants see the Reds 7 times and Cardinals three times. 

Taking the Edge Off

EDGE-Y PICK:  Apparantly my selection of Arizona's Edgerrin James with the 6th pick wasn't met well in the AOL community.  I don't know why.  It is me....and you know I did a ton of fantasy football research during the time off I had with my back injury.  I actually had James rated 5th overall [behind Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, LaDanlian Tomlinson and Clinton Portis].  Sure, the gripe that his offensive line is bad is a concern.  Just as how horrid the Oakland Raiders team was that scared me away from LaMont Jordan.  Or just as the fact that Tiki Barber is in his 30s and at any minute will fall to pieces.  Or just as the fact that Steven Jackson has had injury woes his entire short career thus far and STILL plays for a coach that is pass happy.  Or the fact that Cadillac Williams has injury issues as well and plays some tough defenses on his schedule.  Or the fact that Domanick Davis can't stay healthy.  Etc.

The only player I considered to place ahead of James was Ronnie Brown.  No more Hippie Lettuce Ricky to split carries with him.  A much better passing attack to lay off of the running game.  And I like what I saw from Brown last season.  But James has done it before...albeit with a different team.

James is a great runner, with not as much wear and tear as you'd think [he's missed just 1 game over the past two seasons....and that was last year's season finale that the team chose to just rest James].  Edge probably won't get the rushing yards he did in Indy....but he may exceed his TDs.  As a Colt, James routinely was taken off the field in the red zone for Domanic Rhodes....and the Colts also enjoy passing on slants and posts in the red zone to score [yet he still had 14 TDs].  Teams HAVE to be mindful of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald....so safeties can't prey on James.  He's also a very decent receiver....good for about 20-30 yards a game.  Oh, and Denny Green is his coach...and knows how to ride a running back [see: Terry Allen and Robert Smith].

And apparantly I am not the only idiot: SI.com - Fantasy Central has James rated 5th amongst running backs. 

JUNIOR RETIREMENT:  Just a few days after announcing his retirement....and seeing the football world discuss him in a Hall of Fame light....Junior Seau may end his retirement pretty soon.  Word is that he's signing with the New England Patriots.  Huh?  The Chargers threw this big shindig for him to announce his retirement....just to change his mind just as quickly????  Huh???  Methinks that the Seau Retirement announcement send out a signal to the rest of the league......"Junior Seau is still playing?!"

TIGER AND PHIL GO 69:  Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson were paired together for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship.  Both shot a 69.  Not bad.  I honestly felt that Tiger would step up his game a ton and Phil may get a bit nervous.  Not so.  Both played pretty well and if they keep this up....they may keep in the same pairing the rest of the weekend. 

KOREN ROBINSON:  The current Viking....and former NC State wide receiver...was arrested for drunk driving, speeding and resisting arrest.  Dude was going 104 mph and evading police...so he can get back to Vikings camp before curfew.  He ran stop signs, a stop light, and was twice clocked for speeding during the chase.  He was arrested at gunpoint...though K-Rob didn't resist.  G-bye ol' Koren!


GRIFFEY'S STRENGTH:  While the Reds are fighting the Cardinals in the NL Central and pretty much everyone else in the wildcard chase....Ken Griffey Jr is dealing with pressure off the field.  During the past few weeks, Junior has played well....marching up the HR ladder and playing a key role in the team's wildcard lead.  At home, it's different.  His mother is having colon cancer surgery....and his dad was just diagnosed with prostate cancer.  The Reds have offered Griffey some time off if he needs it....which he has respectfully declined.  His mom wants him to keep playing [his parents live in Orlando].  Griffey has said: "I go out there and try to do the best job I can.  I've got a responsibility to the guys in this locker room. We deal with it the best we can."  You parents are in our prayer, Junior. 

STEPHON'S CHEAP SNEAKS:  Stephon Marbury....the much maligned guard for the New York Knicks...will endorse a sneaker called the "Starbury One" for the Steve & Barry's University Sportswear store.  The shoes will cost just $14.98.  For those who don't know, Steve & Barry's makes sporting clothes that tend to cost around 6-8 dollars.  They have a bunch of college t-shirts and sweaters, jackets and t-shirts with clever [or not so clever] sayings on them.  Marbury won't be paid for endorsing the shoes....but will be paid according to how well they sell.  Ya gotta give it up to an NBA player who will "give" his name to a product for next to nothing....and a product that doesn't outprice many of his fans.  [Welcome to SteveandBarry's]

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bobcats' New Uniforms


In our sports world....nearly every team has an alternate uniform.  Well, unless you are the Houston Astros who have about 13 uniforms [well, and Oregon football].  The NBA started doing this about a decade ago....when the Bulls debuted a black jersey, Miami debuted a red jersey, Orlando a blue jersey [which they kept] and black jerseys in Utah.  Now, even the Lakers [white] and Celtics [black] have ones.

Well, above are the Charlotte Bobcats new alt-unis.  I like 'em.  I like them so much, I'm even wishing they scrap the orange ones....or make orange the "alternative" uniforms.

NFL or NCAA???


ESPN.com has been discussing which is better...NCAA football or NFL football.  To every single person, the answer is easy.  Some people easily like one over the other.  But which is really better??

CHAMPIONSHIP:  The NCAA still insists on having 30+ bowl games to determine nothing.  Over the past 15 years, they tried the normal polls, the Bowl Alliance and the BCS [which they've tweaked in every season since it has been around] to determine the National Champion.  And none still have worked.  This year, they are unveiling an extra game played a week after the BCS games are done.  Why??  That's dumber than anything.  In fact, it is worse than the current BCS system.

The NFL holds this little event called the Super Bowl.  Now, it may be overhyped just a tad....but it still is the most watched event in the United States and no programming brings an entire nation to a stop like it. 

Winner:  NFL

RIVALRIES:  The NFL has some mean rivalries.  Cowboys-Redskins, Chiefs-Raiders, Bears-Packers....with new mini-rivalries popping up every now and then. 

But, they don't touch the NCAA.  Not only do they have rivalries....they have some old artifact that meant something to a couple of guys at a bar 100 years ago as the prize.  An Old Oaken Bucket.  A Shelleleigh.  About 40 "Victory Bells".  They are meaningful.  Even though they aren't as big as they once were....the Army-Navy game is still an event on the college football landscape.  And as a UNC fan, there is still nothing better than beating Duke at anything....even if they blow at football. 

Winner:  NCAA

MONEY:  The NFL is a gazillion dollar entitity.  But their players get a chunk of that too.  Not all are living phat....but many are [and most make more than us in a year]. 

In the NCAA...the players really see none of that.  And spare me the "free college education" bit.  Not all use that freebie like the NFLers use money.  A lot do....but I'm sure a $300,000 one year NFL salary would pay for some college too.

Winner:  NFL

OVERTIME:  Here is an interesting one.  The NFL's overtime rules are essentially just an extra quarter.  The have a coin toss and the same rules.  Of course, the drawback people have is that....coin toss.  The coin toss many times determines the outcome of the game more than anything.  With these pro kickers, all a team has to do is get to the opponents 35 yard line before it feels like they can win the game.  Overtime games in the NFL tend to be anticlimatic...unless a kicker misses.

In the NCAA, they do the "both teams get a shot" mode....which is very exciting.  And nerve racking.  That's a good thing.  The bad thing is how skewed things can get.  You can get those 58-57 outcomes if teams match up in each overtime period.  Of course, how many fantasy football fans would love those extra TD stats on their teams???

Winner:  NCAA


STADIUMS:  Here is a tough one.  The NFL has mainly a bunch of newer state-of-the-art stadiums.  That baked potato in Arizona.  The magical glass palace of Ford Field.  Even ancient Soldier Field has been gutted into a new stadium. 

The NCAA prides itself on epic stadiums....and huge ones at that.  Whether it's the Rose Bowl, Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium or Neyland Stadium.....they are huge monuments nestled in the hills.  Most aren't luxury boxed out and do have a feel of tradition.  Still, I rather have those beautiful and comfortable NFL stadiums any day. 

Winner:  NFL

HALFTIME:  In the NCAA, the bands fill the field.  The drumlines perform.  The baton twirlers...well, twirl their batons.  Mascots play.  To be honest...I have no idea what happens during NFL halftimes.  I'm usually in the can when I'm at the game....and with NFL Sunday Ticket...I just turn to another game. 

Winner:  NCAA

COACHES:  The current longest tenured NFL coach is Bill Cowher...who has been in Pittsburgh for 12 years.  Joe Paterno has been at Penn State since 1950.  Cowher was born in 1957. 

Ahhhh...but Ivan Maisel cannot fool me.  College does have it's great, great coaches...but they don't have Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs, Bill Walsh [well, they did....but he was better in the pros] or Paul Brown.  And those gimmicky coaches don't fair too well when they step up to the NFL.  See Steve Spurrier. 

Winner:  NFL

TRADITIONS:  Oh, the NCAA has it beat.  I mean, the War Chant at Florida State...Rocky Top....Roll Tide....cheerleading pushups....or all the other various little things that colleges do during their games.

The NFL doesn't really have much of that.  Sure, there are some....like the Redskins' band and "Hail to the Redskins" song.....but nothing like the college kids.

Winner:  NCAA


CHEERLEADERS:  The NFL pretty much has a strip show for their cheerleaders.  The NCAA has traditional cheerleaders.....and guys cheering.

Winner:  NFL

NUMBERS:  In the NFL, our QBs wear 1-19....our backs wear 20-49....or lineman wear 50-79...and our receivers wear 80-89, or now 11-19. 

In the NCAA, you could have a linebacker wear #1....a running back wearing #5....a kicker wearing #89....a QB wearing #22....and tight ends wearing #49.

Winner:  NFL

THE HEISMAN:  The Heisman award is bigger than the NFL MVP award.  I mean, fans can peel off most of the past 10 Heisman winners...yet would struggle with the NFL MVP winners over the same span.

However, the Heisman is a joke.  It is a contest determined by TV coverage and the team's success...not as much as the individual.  No offense to Reggie Bush....but how could he win the Heisman on a team with two other great offensive players???  Meanwhile, Vince Young goes empty handed??

Winner:  NCAA, but we need a recount

OPPORTUNITY:  As ESPN pointed out, over the past 5 years....only the Cardinals, Bills, Lions, Texans and Saints have not made the playoffs at least once.  That is 27 of 32 teams that have reached the postseason.  In the NCAA over the past 5 years....only 16 different schools have finished in the consensus Top 10. 

The bigwigs stay the bigwigs in college.  In the NFL, the team who finished 2nd [the Super Bowl loser] seems to struggle the following year.  With the salary cap....every team really feels that either they have a shot this season....or not too far away from doing it.  In college, there are the USCs, Notre Dames and Michigans who know they'll always be bowling....and the Dukes, Temples, Baylors who pretty much know they'll be left out.

Winner:  NFL

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bengals "Jerk-line" Debuted


For those who don't know, the Cincinnati Bengals have installed a hot line for fans to call from their cell phone if they have unruly fans around them during home games.  This came after complaints during several games [read: Steeler games] of fights, bad language and just an overall hostile experience some people had.

First off....this thing is both good and bad.  It is good for those really bad fans who need to be reeled in.   We've all gone to sporting events and had that drunk guy ruining the entire experience for everyone but cursing all loud around our kids or family.....or the group of guys combative against the other team's fans.  In a world of transplants, there are many fans of different teams living within new cities.  I am a Redskins fan living in Cincinnati...so I'm sure I'd be treated rudely during a Skins-Bengals game here in Cincy.  It is to be expected.....but sometimes it is darn near terrorism and downright scary.  Imagine what Steelers and Browns fans must go thru!

Also, Cincy had a little issue with a guy who wandered on the field and stole the ball from Brett Favre [pictured above]. 

If the hot line rids the good fans of the jerk who's spoiling everything....it is a great thing.

The problem is that people have different versions of what a jerk is.

This is America...Land of the Don't Bother Mes and full of NIMBYs.  Meaning, we all don't mind a lot of things....as long as we don't have to look at them.  We need more prisons!!!  Just not in my back yard.  If there is a chance to get something free out of some bull crap [like suing for no reason]...we do it.  Go to a movie theatre....and most people there feel like they are at home and that everyone else is meaningless. 

That's what worries me about this.  You may be a normal fan....get a bit tipsy and may scream a profanity towards Ben Roethlisberger.....which would be fine with about 70,000 people in the stadium.  Ah, but you were within earshot of the one person who brought his 100 year old grandmother to the game who didn't appreciate it and called the Jerk-line to complain about you.  And off you go.


I know this...and you do too....because it's happened to all of us.  I used to work in retail, and sometimes you can really be condesending and a jerk to a customer or two.  I've done it on those bad days.  But, those never get you in trouble.  No, you get in trouble when someone nicely asks you for something...and you politely say "I'm sorry, but we are currently sold out".  They didn't like the fact that you didn't bend over backwards to (a) look for it even though they are the 10th person who's asked for it since you sold out....(b) try to locate it somewhere else for them....or (c) didn't console them in their time of disappointment.  That really happened to me.  It was the day after Thanksgiving [Black Friday in the retail industry] and everything in the ads sells out in an hour.  And with about 20 people around me, some lady walked up behind that mob and said "do you have any more of the TVs in the ad??  Ya know, the ones for $5 [that's an exaggeration on the price, but you get the point that there is no way that cheap TVs last more than an hour]".  I nicely said, "no ma'am, we are sold out"...and continued with the 20 customers I had already.  I then got a phone call from the manager on duty who said she had complained about me for...well, I don't know.  He understood and said that she seemed rather stuffy...but had to check into it. 

That's the issue I have with the jerk line.  It may not be you who is over the line....but someone else with a stick up their backside.


Here is an article on the initial test...ESPN.com - NFL - Bengals' 'Jerk' hot line gets mixed signals in debut

Most of the people who called the Cincinnati Bengals' new hot line for reporting unruly fans just wanted to see if it worked -- or hung up.

About 100 calls had come in to the hot line, 381-JERK, by the end of halftime at the Bengals' preseason game Sunday against the Washington Redskins. The team set up the hot line to allow fans to report excessive foul language, fights and other bad behavior in the stands.

Hamilton County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to handle rowdy fans at least once because of a call to the hot line, said Bob Bedinghaus, the team's director of development for Paul Brown Stadium.

One security guard manned the hot line's sole telephone during the game. The line doesn't have call waiting or voicemail, so some fans might have gotten a busy signal.

Bedinghaus said that's likely to cause complaints, "but we're not going to put 25 people down there to answer phone calls." If the line is busy, fans can ask a security guard or police officer for help.

A call to the hot line alerts security to check out the complaint on camera, then in person if action is warranted. According to Bedinghaus, the team has 38 cameras in the stadium.

"It was a great tool to call attention to something we're trying to address: unruly fans," he said.

Bedinghaus said the team probably will review the hot line's effectiveness after the second home game of the regular season, on Oct. 1 against the New England Patriots.

"If 90 percent of the calls we're getting are prank calls," he said, "we need to re-evaluate this."