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Something Ain’t Right about DeSean Jackson’s Release

NFLThere are times where I step back and wonder aloud “something ain’t right”.

The Philadelphia Eagles cutting DeSean Jackson last Friday is one of those times.  This comes on the same day reports surfaced of his alleged gang activity/support via the website

Look, I understand that Jackson was, according to most “in the know”, a royal pain in the ass.  I’ve seen his histrionics on the field, most notably when he blew up at his position coach on the field at Oakland.  I do know that the Eagles have a plethora of talent on offense that could make head coach Chip Kelly’s offense thrive in stud LeSean “Shady” McCoy, a health Jeremy Maclin, newly acquired Darren Sproles, and the bigoted Riley Cooper.

I also know that Jackson committed the sin of wishing he was paid more after a home playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.  That did not sit well with fans, and apparently not with Kelly as well.  Kelly figures that he now has more than enough talent on offense to move on from Jackson.

That said, I have a big problem with folks who intentionally sully a guy’s name.  First of all, that report in had to come from the Eagles’ organization.  What would anyone else seek to gain from leaking Jackson’s alleged gang ties?

What makes this “leak” even more messed up is that Jackson’s childhood teachers, coaches and family friends all swore that he is not a member of – or even affiliated with – gangs.  While all of those folks would not say that he was a choir boy, they do not think he is a true gangster in any form or fashion.  Also, keep in mind that Jackson has never been arrested or even thought of to be a person of interest in any crime.

And let’s be honest about something here: do we REALLY think that Philly didn’t know about any suspicious off-field activities from Jackson before a few days ago?  Hell everyone knew that perceived character issues were reasons Jackson dropped into the second round to begin with.  So the report making the Eagles nervous is, frankly, bullshit to me.

It’s time for the Eagles organization to come correct.

If Kelly was tired of Jackson’s diva act and thinks that his offense would be just fine without Jackson, just say it.  If the Eagles’ front office didn’t think that Jackson was worth the huge cap number this season, just admit it.

Just don’t sully Jackson’s name for no reason.

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…

Sam’s Sexuality Not a Big Deal to Fellow Athletes

R0dbK.St.81When NFL draft prospect Michael Sam announced his is gay yesterday during ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”, a lot of people commended him for his courage.  Some people trolled in internet chat rooms and called him every slur (mostly gay, but some racial) in the book.

When I heard it, I had two feelings: 1) oh wow, he had the stones/courage to disclose his sexuality to the rest of the sporting world; 2) okay, it’s time to move on.

I’ve always said that most male athletes do not stress over their teammates’ sexualities.  Athletes already have an idea of what sides of the plate his fellow teammates bat from.  Hell, it’s enough stress for athletes to focus on their own regimens in preparing for games every week.  The mantra is almost always, “as long as that teammate performs and helps us win, who cares who/what he is screwing”.

Sam is an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri who doubles as the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year.  Do y’all think that some of his teammates had challenged him over his sexuality?  My guesses were “no” and “hell no”.  Don’t believe me?  Read what Sam said about his teammates’ reactions for yourselves:

“Coaches just wanted to know a little about ourselves, our majors, where we’re from, and something that no one knows about you.  And I used that opportunity just to tell them that I was gay. And their reaction was like, ‘Michael Sam finally told us.’

“I was kind of scared, even though they already knew. Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from Day One. I couldn’t have better teammates. … I’m telling you what: I wouldn’t have the strength to do this today if I didn’t know how much support they’d given me this past semester.”

Here was his coach Gary Pinkel’s reaction:

“We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this, and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou.  Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he’s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team and we all support each other.”

So there you have it.  His teammates didn’t think it was a big deal, and they rode his high sack total (11 1/2 sacks) to an SEC East Division title, a spot in the SEC championship game, and a victory in the Cotton Bowl.  Sam also mentioned that during his Senior Bowl experience, some fellow football players were already aware of his sexual orientation.

The only downside I see in Sam coming completely out of the closet is that the media (namely ESPN) will make such a big fucking deal over it.  Hell, check out ESPN’s website right now.  There are several write-ups right now from what it means in NFL locker rooms going forward to the timing and the NFL’s reaction.

The people who will give Sam the most grief are the fans.  Expect a few anti-gay signs and slur chants at games from opposing fans this season.  The unfortunate part is that the media will make his teammates answer those inevitable “gay questions” because of that fallout.

No matter what fans say or think, there ARE -and always have been – gay players in the NFL.  Maybe now other gay players will feel free to lives and their straight teammates not worry about the media asking those annoying questions.

I’m wishing this young brother nothing but luck in the NFL.

Jonathan Martin – not Richie Incognito – Was the True Villian

dolphins-2013-logoI am about to say something I thought would never come out of my mouth: I need to apologize to Richie Incognito.

Incognito was called by a racist piece of crap by most media members and fans (including yours’ truly) for the n-words he dropped on Martin in several text messages.  Most branded Incognito a bully who was out of control in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room.  Again, I was on that bandwagon.

I just wish I knew that Martin was a willing participant.

Judging from the text messages that were exchanged between Incognito and Martin not only were both men juvenile and boorish as hell, they were apparently friends – GOOD friends.  So to me, when Martin saw his boy Incognito get racked over the coals and labeled a “bully”, he should have done something to defend his friend.  That is the problem I have with Martin.

Here is the “guy code” that most men live by: never leave your boy hanging.  Martin not only left his boy Incognito hanging, he left Richie’s ass flailing in the wind.

It seems to me that Martin is sick and tired of playing football, and used Incognito as a shield in doing so.  Not only was that cowardly, it’s straight punk-ish.

Again, this is not to absolve Incognito of his past transgressions.  He is STILL a neanderthal who is SEVERAL years behind in maturity level.  He just got a really raw deal here in terms of being at fault with the Martin fiasco.

My bad Richie…

Seahawks’ Curb-stomping Could Kick Off a Dynasty

when-is-2014-super-bowl-xlviii-detailsTo say the Seattle Seahawks dominated the hell out of the Denver Broncos is like calling Honey Boo-Boo’s mama morbidly obese.  So much for that Denver pick of mine last week!

I mean look at the way Seattle dominated.  Its secondary, led by Kam Chancellor (a bad-ass name for a bad-ass football player), nailed the hell out of Denver’s receivers.  Y’all see that hit that Wes Welker took in the second half?  The Seahawks were also able to pressure Peyton Manning into making bad throws, including two interceptions – one of which was returned for a pick-six by Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

It was Russell Wilson, not Manning, who turned in a stellar quarterbacking performance.  He finished with 18-26 passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns.  He was effective making plays with his feet as well (26 yards on just three rushing attempts).  The Broncos’ D failed to get to Wilson and make him uncomfortable.

I loved the impact Percy Harvin had on the game.  An 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half to go with 45 yards on just two carries.Ya think the Seahawks are glad that he was back on the field?

The Seahawks were too quick, too physical and just too good for the Broncos. What was hyped as a classic matchup between an unstoppable offense and a top-ranked defense turned into a rout.  The supposed limited Seattle offense punted only once.

Now here’s the kicker: I think the Seahawks can keep this roll going for a long time.  The Seahawks are among the youngest teams to win a Super Bowl (average age is 26.1 years), and while I do not know the personnel’s impending free agents, they could easily repeat next season.

The only thing that could stop Seattle from repeating next season are the following: the San Francisco 49ers, improved versions of the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, and overconfidence.  Either way, this is just the beginning for the Seahawks and their fans.

It should be a fun ride.

Super Bowl XLVIII Preview

when-is-2014-super-bowl-xlviii-details2014 Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos.  Honestly, this is the best Super Bowl matchup I have seen in recent memory.  Two teams with the two best records in the league – the best in their respective conferences.  The #1-ranked defense (Seattle) going against the #1-ranked offense (Denver).

I really, REALLY, love this matchup.

The Seahawks bring a lot to the table defensively.  Even though they are well-rounded on that side of the ball, it’s their secondary – a.k.a. “The Legion of Boom” – that carries that defense.  We all know that my new favorite NFL player Richard Sherman is the best cornerback in the league.  His eight interceptions this season – which led the league, by the way – proves that.  But how about those safeties?  In addition to being playmakers, Kam Chancellor (three interceptions) and Eric Thomas (five interceptions) will knock you the bleep out.

Seattle is not bad offensively, though a bit limited.  Its receivers do not exactly impart fear in opposing defenses, and generally do not do a good job in terms of getting separation from defensive backs.  That said, you have to give it up for running back Marshawn Lynch – especially when he is in “Beast Mode”.  And there is so much to love about QB Russell Wilson.  He is a great leader who shows poise on the field and grace off of it.

There is so much to love about Denver’s offense.  It all starts with QB Peyton Manning.  He only set the NFL record for touchdown passes in a season (55).  The Broncos’ top four receivers – Demaryius Thomas (14), Julius Thomas (12), Eric Decker (11) and Wes Welker (10) – all have at least 10 touchdown receptions.  Running back Knowshon Moreno had over 1,000 rushing to go with 10 rushing TDs.

Denver’s D has really improved this season.  Though it is barely a top-20 defense, it was better than being dead fucking last in 2012.  Well, that’s about it.

I was leaning towards picking Seattle to win the Super Bowl, but a few things crossed my mind.

First of all, I do not think that the Seahawks can keep up with the Broncos offensively.  Denver is known to score a lot of points in a hurry, and Seattle does not have the personnel to consistently score over 28 points per game.  Second, and most importantly, Sherman cracked on Peyton.  I don’t care how good a defensive player you are, you never EVER talk junk to Peyton.  Something tells me Manning is looking to light Sherman’s ass up.

Broncos 28, Seahawks 20.

Bonus prediction: Manning will retire a two-time Super Bowl champion and go out on top – y’all heard it here first (I think).

Sapp Is Flat Out Jealous of Strahan

NFLI won’t waste much time on something as trivial jealousy between former professional athletes, so this one will be short.

Former Tampa Bay Buc/Oakland Raider great Warren Sapp unloaded on former New York Giant great Michael Strahan’s Hall of Fame candidacy, rather lack thereof.  In case y’all have been living under a rock – or simply not giving a damn – he basically said that Strahan is not deserving of the Hall of Fame.

Here is Sapp’s quote:

“I don’t think his résumé stacks up.  Four straight Pro Bowls and a mythical sack record. When you really measure it up, he comes up short, except you all are giving it to him.”

So basically Sapp still resents the fact that Brett Favre gave himself up against Strahan in 2001, which gave Strahan the NFL single-season sack record.  And Sapp probably resents the fact that Strahan is rich and has good gigs on “Live with Kelly and Michael” and Fox Sports’ Sunday NFL pregame show – and not broke.

Here was Strahan’s response:

“I am.  I’m all hype.  I lasted 15 years, all hype. I had 141.5 career sacks, all hype. I was always a starter. I played left end, and that made me get sacks. My coaches kept putting me in the game because they felt it gave us the best chance to win, and that was all hype.”

And the money shot:

“…The tiger does not pay attention to the opinion of the sheep.”

Memo to Warren: move on already.  Not only are you in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you BEAT STRAHAN TO IT! Don’t get mad, get happy like Pharrell Williams dammit!


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