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Hockey Fight

After a recent fights on the ice lead to the suspensions of several players and the injuries to others.  The National Hockey League is getting some serious backlash from its corporate sponsors.  One sponsor in particular has gone so far as to threaten a complete pull out if the NHL doesn’t do something about this quickly.

Now I know its hard to believe that one sponsor dropping its support of the league would hurt at first but what real damage could be done by only one company?

It is believed that if the sponsors start to pull money the dominoes have been tilted and they begin to fall one after another until there are no more sponsors.  That is the current fear.

More recently though, as the playoffs have commenced the on ice violence has increased exponentially.  11 game misconduct penalties have been levied against players. 8 teams have already had at least one player ejected as a result.

Common sense would dictate that the league would take notice of the distaste the sponsors are showing right now, however, the league is also very aware of one infallible truth, The Fans Like Fighting.

So, with that being said the NHL still holds the trump card.  If the fans still like what is happening on the ice someone, somewhere will come out to sponsor the melee.

The sponsors have every right to withdraw their money if they feel like doing so, just remember that if they do someone with the same money will fill their spot and be thankful for it.

It’s a nice gesture to look after the safety of the players from a sponsorship view point but the fans ultimately hold all the cards and the League will do whatever they have to do to keep those fans glued to the carnage in the rink.

2012 NFL Schedule Released

Posted: April 18, 2012 in NFL
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NFL Kicks off the season with the Cowboys and the Giants

It must be that time of year again.  The NFL has officially announced the full schedule with dates and times of every contest for the 2012 season.  Just 9 days before the anual draft the slated schedule is packed with intriguing match-ups.  The anual kickoff game will feature the defending Superbowl Champion New York Giants against their bitter rivals, the Dallas Cowboys.  How’s that for opening day fireworks?  The remaining games do not disappoint the rest of the way.

Week 1:

Along with the kickoff game on Thursday their are some really good games that Sunday as well.

Pittsburgh @ Denver

Peyton Manning will get a true test as early as it gets.  He will be charged with the task of dismantling one of the best defenses in the league.  Meanwhile, Big Ben and the Pittsburgh offense will have a test of their own as they face one of last years stingiest defenses with budding superstar and reigning defensive rookie of the year, Von miller roaming from sideline to sideline.

San Francisco @ Green Bay

San Fran is trying to continue its resurgence to the forefront of the NFC as they clash with Arron Rodgers and Company.  The Niners have arguably the best defense in the NFC and they will need it in this early matchup with the Pack.  Aaron Rodgers must feel like he has something to prove after piling up the best record in the league last year and falling short in the Playoffs.

Week 2:

 Chicago @ Green Bay

The Bears are an interesting team as they completely fell off the map last year when starting QB Jay Cutler went down.  They never could quite recover.  With a new Coordinator on offense and a new front office the bears are making good moves in the offseason and are looking to put together a full season with an aging defense and lethargic(at times) offense they look to bounce back and make a playoff run that could help take Head coach Lovie Smith off of the hot seat.  Green Bay will look to hold serve against their hated rivals.

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh

Tebowmania will reach a fever-pitch if the J-E-T-S are struggling at this point.  Mark Sanchez will have a fight on his hands against Pittsburgh as the Jets try to regain their hold on the AFC East.  A win here would quiet the fans but for how long?

Week 3:

New York Giants @ Carolina

Cam Newton will make his primetime debut in his new hometown against the defending Superbowl Champs.  Cam vs Eli, what more could you ask for on a Thursday?

New England @ Baltimore

Tom Brady and the Patriots will have a rematch of one of the best playoff games in recent memory when they take on the Baltimore Ravens who have made a mission to take the next step and make it to the Superbowl.  Fans will all remember the end of that playoff game so the atmosphere will be thick and heavy.  This one is important.

Week 4:

New York Giants @ Philadelphia

This will be a telling matchup as to which of these teams will control its share of the division until they lock up again near the end of the season.  The winner will be in the drivers seat.  Hopefully the “Dream Team” will live up to its billing this year and perform more like they did at the end of last season at the begging of the new one.

Oakland @ Denver

The Raiders looked promising last year before they took a step back towards the end of the season.  The most promising aspect of this matchup is the Quarterbacks, Peyton Manning vs the rejuvenated Carson palmer.  This rivalry has been heated to say the least and with the new star power at the QB position this has all the makings of an instant classic.

Week 5:

Denver @ New England

Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning…

Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh

The great instate rivalry, Big Ben vs Vick.  This game has lost a little luster recently as the Eagles have struggled and they have not played in a while it seems.  This will be another good test for both teams early enough to judge against each other.

Week 6:

New York Giants @ San Francisco

A rematch of the NFC Championship game.  These two should be rockin’ and rollin’ by this point.  A great game to watch with these two hard nosed defenses going at it.

Indianapolis @ New York Jets

A good test for the new kid on the block, Andrew Luck.  If the young gun pulls the upset here the boo birds will be out in full force calling for their messiah(Tebow).

Week 7:

Detroit @ Chicago

A great divisional game between 2 playoff contenders.  Stafford/Megatron vs Cutler/Marshall how could this be anything but good?  We will have to see how the Cutler/Marshall experiment will work this time.

New York Jets @ New England

If New York hasn’t imploded under the weight of Tebowmania a thrashing at the hands of Tom Brady will bring down the house.  By this point the Jets will have no choice but to put in the 3rd year signal caller.

Week 8:

New England @ St. Louis

New England  will be a strong test to see whether Jeff Fisher’s claims of the ability of Sam Bradford being the best QB in the league.

 New York Giants @ Dallas

The series could determine first place in the division by this point.  Eli and the Giants could go a long way in ushering both Romo and Garret out the door if the ‘Boys fail to reach the playoffs.

Week 9:

Carolina @ Washington

This matchup is interesting because of the possibilities of the QB’s Newton vs RGIII could be phenomenal.  Both of these teams are in rebuilding mode with the Panthers being slightly ahead because of the rapid accention  of Cam Newton.  This should be a good one.

 Buffalo @ Houston

Can the Texans put a full season together with a healthy QB?  Will Arian Foster continue his torrid pace?  These questions and more will be answered in this great matchup.

Week 10:

 Denver @ Carolina

Old school vs New school Peyton Manning and his new Coach John Fox who happens to be the former coach of the Panthers will travel cross country to take on Cam Newton and Ron Rivera in a QB duel you just can’t miss.

Dallas @ Philadelphia

You know the drill, this one is just too important to both squads.

Week 11:

 Green Bay @ Detroit

This series is going to be good for a long time to come.  We all hope for 100 combined points in this one.

 Baltimore @ Pittsburgh

Blood guts and glory, the winner will be wearing all three as they take hold of the division and prepare for the playoff race.

Week 12:

 Houston @ Detroit (Thanksgiving)

You wont have to worry about the turkey putting you to sleep this year, because this game will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The running and passing of Houston and the Passing of Detroit could make for an epic turkey day football feast.

 Carolina @ Philidelphia

Circle this one on the Monday night calendar.  Vick vs Newton in an ultimate primetime showdown.

Week 13:

 New Orleans @ Atlanta

The Dirty birds will host a Sean Payton-less Saints in what could be a fight for first place not only in the division but for the over-all #1 seed in the NFC.  It will definitely be a showdown.

 Pittsburgh @ Baltimore

See previous matchup.

Week 14:

Tennessee @ Indianapolis

Another showdown of the young QB’s.  This one could be interesting as to how the power in the AFC south has shifted.

New Orleans @ New York Giants

If New Orleans hasn’t fallen apart this could have huge playoff implications.  We will have to wait and see if this as important then as it looks now.

Week 15:

Carolina @ San Diego

Cam Newton will travel to test a Charger’s team that will once again be healthy.  This could be huge right before the playoffs for both squads.

San Francisco @ New England

Two big teams playing big time football at the end of the season will make for great TV.

Week 16:

 Atlanta @ Detroit

Ryan/Jones vs Stafford/Megatron   fireworks all around.

San Diego @ New York Jets

One of these teams will be in the playoffs one will have Tebow under center.

Week 17:

Philadelphia @ New York Giants

Same scenario… different results?

Carolina @ New Orleans

This could be where the two teams take different paths one moves on the other stays home.  The playoffs will start a week early for these two teams.

Derrick Rose Hot Sauce

After a hard foul in a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons, Derrick Rose received minor attention from the medical staff on the Bulls’ sideline.  In the media room after the game Rose let his true feelings be known to the public in criticizing the hard fouls he has received as of late.

“I’ve gotta be the only superstar in the league that’s going through what I’m going through right now,” Rose said at the time, referring to a lack of foul calls in his favor. “But I can’t say too much about it.”(ESPN.com)

I did a little research about why Rose may feel he is being targeted and found that the budding superstar has played in all but 6 games in his career until this season.  An NBA season consists of 82 regular season games, and Rose has completed 3 seasons, thats a grand total of 146 games in which he has played in 140.  Remember, this season has been shortened by almost a third and Rose has already missed 23 games.  While injuries may not be directly related to fouls one has to consider the fact that Rose has been taking some hard fouls as of late and his durability has suffered as well.

Rose has played with injuries before so I do not believe this is a question of toughness or a half-hearted attempt at getting more favorable calls on the court.  I do believe that the former MVP has noticed a trend developing that needs to be addressed before the injuries pile up and the NBA loses a star that they can ill afford.  However, the NBA should not institute a no foul policy on Derrick Rose, I just think that the rules should be evenly enforced throughout the league.

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Lamar Odom

The Dallas Mavericks, defending NBA Champions, have essentially released 13 year veteran, Lamar Odom.  The decision came soon after Mavs owner, Mark Cuban, questioned Odom’s commitmentment to the team.  Odom has struggled mightily this season recording career lows in almost every statistical category.

With the “release” Dallas still retains the rights to Odom and would receive compensation from any team that looked to sign the maligned vet.  According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the two sides reached an agreement that allowed the two parties to separate immediately.

“The Mavericks and I have mutually agreed that it’s in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team,” Odom said in a statement to ESPN.com. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.” […]

Sources said Monday that Odom’s departure will be immediate and that the Mavericks intend to simply list him as inactive for the rest of the season instead of outright releasing him, leaving open the possibility that they could still trade him after the season in conjunction with the draft. Any team that has Odom on its roster as of June 29 must buy him out by that date for $2.4 million or otherwise accept responsibility for the full $8.2 million that Odom is scheduled to earn in 2012-13.(http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/lamar-odom-leaves-dallas-mavericks-rocky-disappointing-season-152007017.html)”

Most observers feel that the versatile big man will return to the Lakers where he never quite recovered from a perceived betrayal after a failed trade attempt earlier this year.  Meanwhile the Mavs are still on the hook for the remainder of Odom’s salary.  Charles Barkley had a few choice words about the situation you can read here:http://espn.go.com/dallas/nba/story/_/id/7802095/joke-dallas-mavericks-pay-lamar-odom-charles-barkley-says

The Mavs will move on and probably make the playoffs while most players at this stage of their careers never fully comeback from things such as this.  Lamar Odom should try to regain his form but in my opinion that would be a lot easier said than done.  His psyche has been damaged, and it looks as though he has lost all confidence.  Maybe he should relax for the rest of the year on Mark Cuban’s dime and reflect on whether or not he should return.

Ozzie Guillen Strikes Out In Miami

Posted: April 11, 2012 in MLB
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Ozzie Guillen

Reports have flooded national and local media outlets of the outlandish comments made by Florida Marlins Manager, Ozzie Guillen.  Usually, a person’s individual comments manage to muster a small outcry of outliers that are “offended” by this or that.  This time the enigmatic manager has managed to enrage an entire population of displaced refugees.  Guillen made remarks to Time News online during an interview in which he said that he both “loved” and “respected” Fidel Castro.

What is the big deal?  Fidel Castro has been 90 miles south of Florida running Cuba for more than 50 years.  Most of us have only read about the man.  We all know about the Cuban Missile Crisis from the 60’s but thats about it.  Now, as a former history major, I recall a tad bit more than the average person my age and I realize that what Ozzie did was very, very insensitive to say the least.

Lets put a little perspective on this, Ozzie has been more than outspoken in his career as both player and manager.  This is one reason his celebrity has lasted as long as it as, well, and the fact that he is pretty good at the whole baseball thing.  If he were to have said this as the manager of just about any other team in the world it may have made a ripple in the grand scheme, but it didn’t happen anywhere else in the world.  It happened in the one place that has more Cubans per capita than anywhere else save Cuba itself.

Think about it, some of these Cubans risked their lives to cross 90 miles of open ocean on little more than a pool float to make it to the freedom and promise of a better life here in America.  The last thing i would assume that they would want to hear is some off the cuff remarks of a millionaire baseball manager lauding the praises of one Fidel Castro.  It seems to me like a slap in the face and I can’t say that I blame them all that much.

Lets say Joe Torre or John Fox come out in an interview and speak on how much they respect and love the courage and ingenuity of Adolf Hitler?  What do you think would happen then?  I’d be willing to guess that they would be thrown to the court of public opinion and torn limb from limb.  I’m not saying that they are the same thing but I’m pretty sure you get my point.  Just the thought of praising a man such as Fidel Castro or any person who has brought evil and tyranny to their own people should be enough to make one at least pause and contemplate the consequences of such a statement.

On the other hand, Guillen has never apologized for anything in his life and that is to be respected I suppose, but in this case Guillen has apologized to a fault coming as far as to tear up in his apology to the latino people as a whole.  And for that I do commend him, however, this could all have been avoided with a little self-censuring or even just a splash of common sense.  You are in Miami Ozzie!  Think man, Think!

Steve Smith

In a press conference this afternoon at approximately 3:00pm, Steve Smith officially announced that he and the Carolina Panthers had reached an agreement on a contract extension.  The loose terms as of now are 4 years with $18 million guaranteed and the Panthers have an option for a 5th year with undisclosed terms.  The deal puts Smith in the company of Reggie Wayne’s recent signing with the Indianapolis Colts.

Panthers fans should be relieved as Smith was entering his final year of his current contract.  This should lock up the perennial pro-bowler throughout the rest of his career.  Smith, who will turn 33 this season, is looking to remain with the team that drafted him back in 2001 in an era that doesn’t see that kind of stability or loyalty with players of his caliber.

Smith is the Panthers all-time leading receiver in most statistical categories including, receptions, touchdowns, and yards.  Remaining with the team may shake up the Panthers draft strategy, but if you’ve been following me recently you’ll know that that will not be the case.

Smith said in his conference this afternoon that he is not looking to teach his new quarterback anything, quite the opposite, he is looking to learn from the second year starter.  I, for one, have studied closely the enigma that is Steve Smith and I found that the more you try to understand the man the more mystified you become.  The best I can figure, the only option is to just sit back grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy one of the greatest little receivers to ever play the game of football.

Rejoice Carolina fans you got your Smitty back.

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Sean Payton

As of today the league has announced that the suspensions of Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and Joe Vitt have been upheld.  Per the announcement the league said Commissioner Goodell gave “careful consideration” to the punishments handed out earlier this month.

Sean Payton has been banned from the Saints facility starting April, 16 and will not end until the 2012 season is over.  Mickey Loomis, GM of the Saints, will begin his 8 game suspension after the preseason as will Joe Vitt’s 6 game suspension.

At the conclusion of each suspension Roger Goodell will review each one’s reinstatement individually.

What does all of this mean to the Saints?

First of all they are at a serious coaching disadvantage and must immediately start vetting replacements for their staff.  Granted with an offense as gifted and deadly as the Saints it should not be that hard to find someone to hold the clipboard and let Brees and company do what they do.  However, Drew Brees contract situation is still well up in the air.  Brees ultimately refuses to sign the franchise tender and with the lack of coaching and front office personnel Brees may choose to just sit out this year and completely derail the Saints organization.

This situation could very quickly go from very bad to even worse and if I were a stock market kind of guy I would make a power play to corner the paper bag market in the French Quarter.  The Aint’s could make a less than triumphant return to the Big Easy.

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Cam Newton Draft Photo

The last weekend of April is one of the most anticipated weekends of the year for football fanatics.  Teams and their fans are looking to this magical weekend to upgrade their respective rosters with talent farmed from some of the best collegiate football programs in the country.  What is this magical weekend of eternal hope and renewed spirit? This, my friends, is the NFL Draft.

Every team has at least one chance to choose a former collegiate player to add to its roster to help fill holes left by free agency or injury, or just provide depth at a position that is thin or top heavy with talent.  Teams work round the clock vetting these future “stars” and “busts” as well as managing team needs versus where they feel they line up in the draft order.  Some teams employ the Best Player Available approach, while others draft solely based on need.

Last year the Carolina Panthers struck Draft Gold by selecting Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  He rewarded the Panthers with a rookie season the likes of which have never been seen.  He destroyed all records for a rookie quarterback and even some records that have stood the test of time(Rushing Touchdowns by QB).

In 2012 the Panthers are once again selecting in the top ten of the draft and they look to continue their first round dominance under the command of second year Head Coach, Ron Rivera, and front office veteran GM, Marty Hurney.  The Panthers will be selecting with the ninth overall pick after losing the coin toss with Miami to decide the tie-breaker between the two teams with identical records.

Options abound and possibilities are seemingly endless for the Panthers, but we will try to keep it simple and go with the most logical of scenarios for this pick.

Everyone is aware of the defensive struggles that the Panthers suffered through last season, after losing key cogs, Jon Beason(achilles), Thomas Davis(ACL), and Ron Edwards(Torn Triceps) to season ending injuries.  The logical step would be to assume the Panthers will draft defense early and often.  Marty Hurney, however, cautions against such a simplistic view of their overall draft strategy.  The Panthers are leaning heavily toward the Best Player Available strategy.  This puts every possibility into play and also makes the Panthers a very real trade partner.

The most obvious top 10 caliber defensive players that could be available at number nine are, Morris Claiborne, Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox, Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, and Luke Kuechly.  Claiborne fills an obvious need at corner back as the Panthers secondary was torched as teams routinely picked on the small but fiery Captain Munnerlyn. Claiborne will likely be gone by the ninth pick maybe as early as third overall but teams like Tampa Bay and Cleveland are starved for offensive playmakers and could use their picks on sexier names like Blackmon or Richardson.

Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox and Quinton Coples would be the next best options to Claiborne as the Panthers received zero interior pressure from the d-line after spending not one but two third round picks on interior lineman in last years draft.  Terrell Mcclain and Sione Fua were thrown to the wolves last year as rookies and both finished the year on injured reserve.  The two early round picks could prevent the Panthers from going that direction again.

The wild card selections would be drafting according to the B.P.A. strategy.  Say the Panthers are not worried about filling needs just grabbing who they feel are solid football players that fit their mold.  These players could include but are not limited to, Luke Kuechly(ILB), David Decastro(G), and Michael Floyd.

In my opinion Luke Kuechly would be the safest pick.  The problem lies in that the Panthers are absolutely stacked at the linebacker postion.  All-pro Jon Beason controls the middle while outstanding players Thomas Davis and James Anderson roam the outside.  Beason and Davis are coming off of season ending injuries so depth could be the focus there.

With the depature of long time starter Trevelle Wharton at the Gaurd spot the Panthers could look to David Decastro to shore up the protction for Cam Newton.  While the most surprising pick to me would be if the Panthers were to select Notre Dame wideout, Michael Floyd.  Carolina has struggled to replace all-pro wideout Mushin Muhammad as the true number two opposite Steve Smith.  The Panthers are expecting big things from third year wideouts Brandon Lafell and David Gettis.  An offense that was already potent would be absolutely terrifying for opposing coordinators.

Finally the other option would be for the Panthers to trade back and stockpile picks to help build a team that will soon be a perennial playoff contender for years to come.  This I feel is the least of the options. A team should never relinquish high picks in the draft when they are so close to contending year in and year out.

All in all I believe the best option for the Panthers would be Morris Claiborne if he does in fact drop.  After many mock drafts and speculation I think the Panthers will have done their homework and continue their run of successful first round picks.

Lawyers

Posted: June 15, 2011 in NFL Lockout
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Once again as reported by Profootballtalk.com the lawyers for the NFLPA* and the NFL have been side lined after nearly derailing the labor negotiations. So what are they doing in there in the first place? Granted they will be needed after the framework is in place to put it into legaleeze, but they should be no where near the parties involved. It was a gamble to put them back in the discussion room and almost cost both sides dearly. But wait, what’s this? The clear and present voice of reason that called off the dogs? None other than De Smith! Talk about an upset… Vegas would have made a lot of money posting that spread. Anyway, here is to the hopes of a quick deal and a long season! Cheers Football Fans the light is getting brighter.

Lockout….

Posted: June 10, 2011 in NFL Lockout
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Unexpectedly, good news is popping up from both sides regarding the current NFL Lockout.  Both sides agree the time is now and they have benched both sets of lawyers for sit down disscusions about the issues at hand.  This is wonderfull news for those not spliting 9 billion dollars, the fans.  So be guarded, cautious, introverted, all things not out right jubilant in you optimism.  Lets try not to jinx what could very well mean a season unimpeded.