Monday, May 30, 2011

Game around my favorite game

I can’t believe that we are here.  No minicamps.  No workouts with coaches.  No rookie symposium.  No free agency.  The only thing coming up is another court date.  This Friday, June 3, the NFL and some of its locked-out players will travel to St. Louis, Missouri to present their arguments at the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is the game eclipsing my favorite game.

Greed.  Politics.  Disrespect.  Greed.  Ego.  Courts.  Greed.  

Yes, nice playbook.  What victory has it gotten?  Surely nothing for the fans who built professional football into the most popular sports league.

On the day that our nation celebrates and shows gratitude to all of the members of our military who died during service, I only have one comment about the NFL lockout.


Are the owners who own billions truly fighting to get more money in the most profitable sports league? 

Is leadership more focused on posturing instead of negotiating a collective bargaining agreement?

Are NFL owners really demanding that the players do more work and accept less pay?

Is the NFL honestly claiming broke after securing the largest media contracts ever AND guaranteeing the money if there was a lockout?

Are the owners seriously asking the players to believe their purported financial distress without opening their books?

Do the players genuinely feel like using the court is the only way to resolve the labor disputes?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  I hope that the NFL owners and players get it together.  I understand that it is business, but if they continue with the playbook they have been using, they will lose millions in dollars and fans.

My request is simple.  Stop playing games, so I can enjoy my game. 

Thank you.


Heels & Helmets®

Monday, May 23, 2011

What’s wrong with NFL players enjoying a snow day?

In this era of instant communication, anything that a celebrity does or says is quickly broadcasted to the masses, analyzed and manipulated.  This includes NFL players.  During the last month, several players have been called out for comments that many people interpreted as their satisfaction with the NFL lockout.

Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis commented, "To me, this is probably the greatest window of opportunity I've ever had in my life. It's been 25 years of my life that I've never had a summer to myself."  New England Patriots Wes Welker said, "Let's do a lockout every year.”  Both comments were used by the NFL in court to demonstrate that some NFL players were excited about not working.

New Orleans Saints’ Reggie Bush tweeted, “Everybody complaining about the lockout! Shoot I'm making the most of it! Vacation, rest, relaxing, appearances here and there! I'm good!”  After over 1.6 million followers responded angrily, Bush explained that he was joking and basically told everyone to calm down. 

I believe that the players want to go work.  They were at the doors trying to do their jobs during the few days that the lockout was lifted last month.  They are organizing to prepare for the season without direction or a facility.  However, like most people, I think they can appreciate a good snow day every once and awhile.   Who hasn’t smiled because they unexpectedly got some time off of work? 

I’m not mad at the players.  I’m just annoyed that I’m not talking about rookies in mini camps.  Herm Edwards, ESPN Football Analyst and former NFL player and coach said it best, “We’re on SportsCenter talking about him (Reggie Bush) tweetin’ instead of football! That’s bad!”

I couldn’t agree more.


Heels & Helmets®

Monday, May 16, 2011

Locked-out and still trying to work

Due to the lockout, NFL players cannot use their team’s trainers or facilities to work out.  This isn’t stopping palyers from getting together and planning their own workouts.  Mark Sanchez invited his teammates to Southern California to work out.  Michael Vick has summoned the Eagles to Philadelphia for practice.  Even the newest NFL players who were just drafted a couple of weeks ago are preparing.  The pending rookies do not have contracts and are prohibited from wearing official team gear.  Most of them do not have the teams’ playbook.  This is not stopping them from selecting trainers and working out.  They want to be ready when the 2011 season starts. IF it starts.

It’s great that NFL players are conditioning on their own and planning small practices with other teammates.  It is helpful for quarterbacks to connect with their wide receivers and throw the ball.  However, it does not replace OTAs (organized team activities) or minicamps.  Despite the players’ efforts to prepare, without the direction of a coach, equipment and support from the conditioning staff, teams will be behind the mark when the labor issues are finally settled.  As Eagles running back, LeSean McCoy said, "It's tough when you don't have a facility to go to.” 

Teams like the San Francisco 49ers who have a new head coach, Jim Harbaugh, are at a strong disadvantage preparing for the season.  Teams such as the Carolina Panthers who drafted players with the expectation that they would make an immediate contribution will also have difficulty. 

Carolina used the first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft to select Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton.   Cam was drafted on the first day of the draft during the four days that the lockout was lifted.  He was able to go into the Panthers offices the following day.  Players selected after the first round did not have this opportunity.   At least Cam got his playbook.


Heels & Helmets®

Monday, May 9, 2011

College summer break brings on top 25 debate

College spring practices are completely over.  Now everyone is reviewing their notes and fast-forwarding to August.  The debate for the Preseason Top 25 will get college football fans through the next three months. 

It’s way too early for me to participate and give any predictions on the landscape of college football.   This isn’t just because of the questions about talent, filling voids left by the NFL Draft or starting quarterbacks.  It’s because of the uncertainty on NCAA investigations and discipline for NCAA violations.  Will USC win their appeal?   Will South Carolina’s starting quarterback, Stephen Garcia, play this fall?  Will Jim Tressel and his starting quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, get a longer suspension?  The answers to these questions will make an impact on the Top 25 and the BCS race.

I don’t want to paint a picture that all is gloom in college football.  It is not.  The spring displayed a lot of promise for several programs. 
1.     Alabama fans can breathe because the Crimson Tide do not have a problem filling the running back position left by Mark Ingram.
2.     Oklahoma has the foundation to their offense intact and they don’t have to worry about playing Nebraska to win a conference title. 
3.     LSU Tigers fans must be excited that they now have some depth at the quarterback position.
4.     Michigan State is returning the leaders of their offense.  Playing Ohio State early, hosting Wisconsin and playing Nebraska late are all pluses for them to contend for the Big Ten Title.

Those are a few bright spots that I observed, but just in case you have an itch to see what is going on, check out ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 Poll.


Heels & Helmets®

Monday, May 2, 2011

Detroit Lions have impressive draft performance

Over 250 college players were drafted to play for NFL clubs over the weekend.  Cam Newton as expected went first overall to the Carolina Panthers.  Several teams draft performances standout in my mind.  The New Orleans Saints strengthened their running game by drafting Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram.  The New England Patriots took Ryan Mallet in the third round.  Like the current starting quarterback in New England (Tom Brady), Mallet studied at The University of Michigan and is a pocket passer.  He will either shadow Brady for years or be good trade material.   The Cleveland Browns acquired a fast wide receiver (Greg Little) and gave the defense a little boost with a new tackle (Phil Taylor) and end (Jabaal Sheard).  But, the team that impressed me the most was the Detroit Lions.

The Lions have been at the bottom of professional football for years.  They have been bad for so long that I am afraid to say this because I do not want to jinx them, but I think the football gods are smiling on the Motor City. 

Two weeks ago the NFL released the 2011 regular season schedule and the Lions received their first Monday Night Football (MNF) game in over a decade.  There are rumors that the game was a sign of gratitude for the franchise graciously hosting the Vikings – Giants game that had to be relocated because the Metrodome collapsed.   But, who cares?  It’s not always how you get it, but what you do when you get it.

With their first pick in this past weekend’s draft, Detroit was able to select Nick Fairley, a defensive tackle from Auburn.  This is a huge help to the Lions.  Last season they were ranked 21st in total defense in the league.  Having someone to help 2010 rookie of the year, Ndamukong Suh, on defense will improve that ranking.

Lions fans should be very pleased.  The first pick was not a quarterback or a wide receiver.  The Lions are clearly focused on defense.  If the football gods are truly smiling on Detroit, Matthew Stafford will rehabilitate well, not injure himself again and lead Detroit to the playoffs this year.  Now we just have to wait to see if we have NFL football this fall.

Check out all the draft selections.  What do you think of your team’s picks?


Heels & Helmets®