Category Archives: NFL

Two Games Are Not Enough for Ray Rice

404px-Baltimore_Ravens_logo.svgI had the two feelings upon hearing about the “punishment” Ray Rice received for assaulting his then-fiancée.

Disgust and shame.

I was (and still am) disgusted that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed Rice what I felt was a light punishment – a slap on the wrist no less.  I was (and still am) disgusted that violence against women is not taken as as seriously as violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

And I do not care if Josh Gordon was a repeat offender in the substance abuse department – he didn’t knock out any women along the way.

And by the way, I am also disgusted that this young sister decided to become Rice’s wife.  What message will that send to their child?  That it’s ok for a man to strike a woman when engaged in a quarrel?  That it’s ok for a woman to accept abuse from a man acting strictly on cowardice?

I felt shame for being an rabid fan of a league that is run by a commissioner who obviously could give two damns about violence against women.  I felt shame for being a fan of a team (the Steelers) whose starting quarterback has a history of sexual assault against women, though he has never been charged.

And while the uproar over that “punishment” is growing louder, there are people out there – mainly men – who have come to Rice’s defense.

I’ve heard the tired chorus: “we didn’t know what happened on the elevator.”  Another gem I’ve heard was “maybe she provoked him by hitting him first”.

Those folks needed to be drug-tested, plain and simple.

What if that young lady was a sister or daughter of theirs’?  Would those same morons still cling to those same stupid-ass arguments?  I’m guessing that would not be the case.

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that justifies a man putting his hands on a woman.  Even if Rice’s fiancée at the time was throwing haymakers at him, that still does not give him – or any man – the right to strike a woman.

There were many ways that Rice could have prevented the situation from escalating (and yes, the responsibility lies on the man to be the bigger person).  Talk it out.  Listen to her.  Once she starts swinging grab her arms and wrap her up.  Last I checked, dude is an NFL player who takes punishment from defenders for a living.  There was no way in hell a girl that slight in frame could get out of his arms if he wrapped her up.

I am concerned that there are some powerful men in this league who did not send the proper message to Rice for his actions.  Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh, while saying mostly the right things in his press conference concerning Rice, clumsily said that Rice is “one heck of a guy.”  Really coach?

And why haven’t Ravens ownership stepped in where Goodell failed by adding more games to the suspension followed by a hefty fine to be donated to women’s shelters in the Baltimore area?  The team is allowed to suspend a player up to four games per the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Maybe they will, though I am not holding my breath.

And speaking of Goodell, he had a chance to make a strong statement to the players and society at large: that the NFL does – and will always – take violence against women seriously.  If he is as serious as he lead on concerning growing a female fan base, he may have embarked on pissing away that opportunity.

And that in and of itself is a damn shame.

2014 NFL Draft: First Round Thoughts

NFL

The first round of the NFL Draft came and went (FINALLY).  From what I saw, I have more than a few observations.

Shall we go? …

The Houston Texans made the right pick in Clowney.  Jadeveon Clowney was the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  I have one thing to say to that: bravo Houston!  Let’s examine this closely.  The Texans are getting an uber-talented pass rusher in Clowney to go with another stud pass rusher in J.J. Watt.  On a team with several needs (Houston did finish 2-14, you know?), getting a stud pass rusher was not a bad start.

If the Texans want to make some noise in the AFC South again, they have to beat Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.  Now Luck will have his head on a swivel with both Watt AND Clowney coming after him on the pass rush.  And anyone who understands Football 101 will tell you the key to a good turnover machine playmaking defense is having a good-to-great pass rush.

Now Houston can focus on getting their quarterback of the future – Derek Carr, come on down!

That St. Louis defense is going to be VERY nasty.  In what had to be one of the biggest surprises in last night’s draft, the St. Louis Rams drafted Aaron Donald from Pitt.  The Rams’ defensive line depth chart will now look like this: Chris Long, Donald, Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn.  Dayum!  As I said with the Texans, the key to a having a good playmaking defense is a good pass rush.  With those five defensive linemen, there should be no need for the Rams to blitz – EVER.

How about that NFC West?  All four teams – Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Rams – have hellafied defenses.

The Jacksonville Jaguars obviously do not know what the hell they are doing.  Blake Bortles with the #3 overall pick – when they could have had Johnny Manziel?  Really?  See, this is the reason why the Jaguars are the Jaguars.  For some reason Jacksonville felt as though Blaine Gabbert wasn’t bad enough, so why not draft Bortles?

Look, I know that Bortles has the measurables.  He has been compared with Big Ben Roethlisberger because of his size (6’4″ 230-plus lbs).  And more importantly, he has a smoking hot side piece.  But Bortles does not pass the smell test with me, certainly not enough to be drafted #3 overall.

It’s as if those cats were listening to Ron Jawkorski and company on ESPN hyping Bortles and downgrading Manziel.  Speaking of which, the Jags will rue the day they passed up Johnny Football for Blaine Gabbert Part II.

I’m going to pray for Johnny Manziel.  I’m happy that Johnny Football got drafted.  I’m one of the few who thinks he will make an impact in the NFL.  I’m just sad that he got drafted by the Cleveland Browns.  While the Browns have a capable offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan who knows a thing or two about working with mobile QBs (see Robert Griffin III), there is no need to believe that Manziel will succeed where others such as Tim Couch, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden failed.  Simply put, Cleveland is where QBs go to die.

You are in my prayers Johnny…

Deep Thoughts on Free Agency: Week 1

NFLThe Baltimore Ravens made the best free agent move in bringing in Steve Smith.  I knew this was going to happen.  I had a very sick feeling in my stomach as soon as the Carolina Panthers made the head-scratching move in cutting Smith a few days ago.  Smith is still a very productive receiver who is always eager to prove people wrong and rub their faces in it.  He is also a guy who will bring attitude and swagger to a locker room.  The Panthers fed off of his intensity for the majority of his career.  And now, unfortunately, that attitude will do nothing but help the Ravens.

The Ravens missed that attitude and swagger when they let Anquan Boldin go for pennies last off-season.  You could tell how bad they missed him during their 8-8 season.  Now Smith’s swagger will help a receiving core that features Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.  Great move for Baltimore, bad news to the rest of the AFC North (especially for my Steelers).

Speaking of Carolina…

What in the hell are the Panthers doing?  It wasn’t just that Carolina let Smith go.  It was HOW the team bungled it.  General manager Dave Gettleman disrespected Smith and denigrated his accomplishments at the NFL Combine.  Gettleman said that Smith would become a distraction in the locker room.  Gettleman allowed the news to leak that the team was trying to trade Smith – without having a conversation with Smith.  Smith wasn’t even offered to take a pay cut.  Now the Panthers are in the midst of dealing with a PR disaster.

And Smith’s release alone is not troubling.  Tedd Ginn, Jr signed with the Arizona Cardinals.  Charlotte native Hakeem Nicks spurned the Panthers and signed with the Indianapolis Colts.  Domenik Hixon signed with Chicago.  Brandon LaFell is testing the free agent market.  Who in the hell can QB Cam Newton throw the ball to?

Anyone?  Bueller???

Packers’ pass rush improved with Julius Peppers signing.  The Packers were moribund on defense, and their pass rush suffered after injuries to Clay Matthews and others.  Peppers is a feared pass rusher who will help the Packers immensely.  Peppers on one side and Matthews rushing the passer from the other – scary.

By the way, Peppers leaving the Bears for the arch-rival Packers goes to show how NFL free agency has killed any sense of loyalty.

Deep Thoughts on Day #2 of NFL Free Agency

NFL“We are the New England Patriots, and you’re not…”  That’s what Pats fans are at least thinking today.  Their team pulled off what I think is the biggest NFL free agent heist to date.  Forget Aquib Talib, right?  This is turning into an awesome arms race between the Patriots and the Denver Broncos.  It’s good to see Peyton Manning help bring his disdain for the Pats to Denver.

At any rate, Revis replaces Talib – and is seen as an upgrade for only one year and $12 million.  If Revis could live up to the contract, then he’ll be in store for another payday.  And the Patriots stand to benefit in a huge way if Revis could live up to the contract.

Credit to the Patriots organization to once again proving why it is the gold standard in the NFL.  I’ll tell you what, if the Pats manage to land Steve Smith (if the Panthers are indeed stupid enough to release him), then expect Tom Brady to twerk his pretty-boy ass all over Boston.

Browns rid themselves of Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.  Whoever thought that Weeden was the answer to the QB problems in Cleveland, then what the hell was the question?  This just in: Weeden got on a wide-open plane, and still couldn’t complete a pass to an empty seat.  Uh anyway, Campbell, while serviceable, was obviously not the answer as well.  Cleveland obviously has had a hard time getting its QB situation together.  It has become a place (as well as Oakland) where QBs come to die.

In the meantime, Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel – come on down!

Eagles offense becomes scarier with the acquisition of Darren Sproles.  Damn, how in the hell do you defend this offense?  DeSean Jackson and “Riley the Bigot” Cooper at wideout.  Lesean McCoy toting the rock at running back.  Now defenses in the NFC East have to worry about containing Darren Sproles on third down?

In New Orleans, Sproles was the ultimate match-up nightmare for defensive coordinators.  He will also excel on special teams.  Hell with head coach Chip Kelly leading the way, Philly might become “New Orleans North”.

Now if only the Eagles could find a defense…

Deep Thoughts on the First Day of NFL Free Agency

NFLNFL free agency is here, which means I can start talking football again.  WHOO HOO!!!  I will be sharing my thoughts throughout the free agency period, starting today.

Let’s go…

San Francisco made a good move in trading for Jonathan Martin.  This is a win-win for both sides.  First of all, Martin gets a second chance to get his once-promising career back on track.  He played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and several of his assistants when they were at Stanford.  Harbaugh has been a champion for Martin. He vouched for Martin in the Wells report that examined the bullying case.  What better cheerleader a player could have than the head coach?

The 49ers also get a talented offensive lineman in Martin.  He will provide valuable depth to an already great offensive line.  It doesn’t hurt that Martin was a second-round draft pick.  It also doesn’t hurt that the 49ers have a stable, professional locker room whose players condemned what went down in Miami.

Bottom line: Martin 1, Richie Incognito 0.

Denver is loading up for another Super Bowl run.  The Broncos signed former New England cornerback Aqib Talib to a six-year, $57 million contract last night.  Talib was not only the Patriots best corner – he was the best corner in the free agent market.  Couple this with the news of Denver bringing in former Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Ware, I’d have to considered the Broncos the huge favorite to represent the AFC again in the Super Bowl.  The defense was Denver’s weak link, and Talib (and maybe Ware) will make it considerably stronger.

Okay Peyton Manning, you have no excuses for coming up short this coming season.

Pittsburgh is off to a good start in getting younger in its secondary.  My Steelers made an unusual early free-agent splash, signing former Carolina safety Mike Mitchell to a five-year, $25 million contract.  This confirms that my Steelers weren’t just willing to address their defensive backfield through the draft.  I am happy to see the Steelers getting serious about getting younger on defense.  The defense lost many games last season, and the Mitchell signing is a step in the right direction.  Pittsburgh gets a 27-year-old starter who was a play-maker for the Panthers last season – a younger version of Troy Polamalu.

Steeler Nation is rejoicing.

My Knicks Should Have Freed Carmelo by the Trade Deadline

ny-knicks-logoI sometimes wonder if my New York Knicks are coming or going.  After winning 54 regular season games last season the Knicks are 21-39.

Sure the Knicks played short-handed with their assortment of injuries.  Tyson Chandler as been in and out of the lineup with his injuries.  Amare Stoudamire is still not 100% back from his knee issues.  Point guard Raymond Felton was in and out of the lineup with his own issues.  All of those things would disrupt any team, let alone one not as deep as New York.

However, the Knicks have not made the best personnel decisions.  I still think New York made a big mistake in not bringing back Steve Novak.  Not having a 3-point shooter off the bench who could stretch the defense has hurt New York more than it cares to admit.  And firing general manager Glen Grunwald – who helped the team win 54 games last season – was not a good look either.

The Knicks made a bigger mistake in not extending head coach Mike Woodson’s contract, thus making him a lame duck.  If sports history has taught us anything, is that ANY professional team led by a lame duck coach does not do well.  Those players tend to tune a lame duck coach out because they know that coach will not be around the following season.  Woodson is a good coach who got a bad rap in his previous stop in Atlanta.  Woodson also had a hand in guiding the Knicks to 54 wins last season.  It’s not like the man forgot to coach overnight.

With all the issues I mentioned, my Knicks made the biggest mistake of all – not trading Carmelo Anthony before the trade deadline.

What would make the Knicks attractive to Melo?  The Knicks will be in salary cap hell for one more season.  I do not know of any marquee free agents who will be on the free agent market in 2015.  Also, who would want to coach this bunch?  If it ain’t Phil Jackson, then I don’t know who could right this sinking ship.  Did I mention that the bumbling, stumbling James Dolan is STILL the owner of this franchise?

Why not trade Melo instead of letting him leave for nothing?  I know the Knicks would not get anything of equal value for him, but at least a few expiring contracts to help their salary cap and a few extra draft picks would have been nice.

There is no way Melo would come back to this mess.  If only Dolan could fire himself…

49ers Playing with Fire in Handling Harbaugh

san-francisco-49ers-logoWhen I first heard that the Cleveland Browns made a play for San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh, I thought to myself that there was no way in hell that would EVER happen.  That was until how close Harbaugh himself was close to accepting the job.

For Harbaugh to even consider leaving the behemoth he has built in San Francisco for a shithole organization in Cleveland, things are not as rosy in the Bay Area as we all have thought.  There is talk that the 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke hates Harbaugh.  Hell, there is talk that there were others in the organization who are tired of Harbaugh’s act.  Even Harbaugh himself may be tired of dealing with the suits in the 49ers’ front office.

All I know is this: if a team has a known commodity who instantly turned it into a winner, why would that team risk alienating and losing him?  Do the 49ers really value collegiality over being winners?  Are they really arrogant to think that any coach could lead them to the promised land?

I guess the 49ers conveniently forgot what life was like before Harbaugh.  Dennis Erickson?  And worse, Mike Singletary?  This was how bad Singletary was – Harbaugh came in and immediately starting winning with Singletary’s players.

And yet, the 49ers seriously considered moving Harbaugh for draft picks?  Really?

This should be interesting when the time comes for Harbaugh and the 49ers to renegotiate his contract, which will expire after this coming season.  I know that Harbaugh is not going to coach as a lame duck without a contract extension.  I also think that the 49ers do not want to break the bank to keep Harbaugh, regardless of how much he wins with the Niners.

If the Niners do not want to go back to being the sorry-ass team of seasons’ past, they need not jerk with Harbaugh.

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