Posts Tagged ‘NFC South’

After a very Happy Birthday for me, once again I am back at it bringing you the latest in Southern Sports.

Today the NFL Commissioner handed down suspensions to 4 players directly involved in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.  Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were all targeted for their roles in the bounties.

Jonathan Vilma was given the most severe punishment, he has been banned for the entire 2012 season all the way through the Superbowl.  He openly offered $10,000 dollars of his own money for anyone who could knock Bret Favre out of the 2010 NFC Championship Game.  Also it is believed by the league that he willingly impeded the investigation into the bounty program in 2010.

Anthony Hargrove received an 8 game suspension for the targeting of Fave in the Championship Game as well as withholding information during the leagues initial investigation.  The Commissioner released a full statement regarding the punishments:

“It is the obligation of everyone, including the players on the field, to ensure that rules designed to promote player safety, fair play, and the integrity of the game are adhered to and effectively and consistently enforced,” Goodell said in the league’s statement. “Respect for the men that play the game starts with the way players conduct themselves with each other on the field.” (www.profootballtalk.com)

Will Smith and Scott Fujita were also given suspensions for their roles.  Below is a clip of a blatant cheap shot delivered by Fujita on Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers.

These punishments are truly the first of their kind.  Vilma being suspended for the year has set an entirely new precedent for league action against players.  Personally, these suspensions are dead on.  Why should players get rewarded for injuring their own?  Aren’t they supposed to be united, as in a union?  Didn’t they ban together to fight the league just a year ago?  Are we supposed to feel sorry for them when they are trying to injure each other?

With those questions aside I must point out the difference between hurting the man in front of you and injuring him.  The two are as different as night and day.  All the way through the pee wees, pop warner, middle school, high school and college your job as a football player is to “hurt” the other team.  The point is to inflict pain without leaving them immobile.  You never want the other team to think they can hurt you so you just have to hurt them first.  You’ve heard all the cliché’s before, “Punch them in the mouth”, “Bloody their noses” , “Give them body blows”.  These are all just mid sets of the athlete to prepare them for the physical battle ahead.  Nowhere is there a directive to take out a guy’s knee, or this guy has a concussion, hit him in the head.  That’s injuring.

I have no problem with good form tackles, hard hits, or big plays, just keep it clean.  I pull for certain players and nothing would turn me off faster than knowing my favorite player lost his ability to play because a guy was looking for an extra 500 bucks.

Kudos to the league for stepping up and putting a stop to this embarrassment.

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After what seemed an eternity of drafting, the NFL now has its newest crop of young talent ready to display before the masses.  There were trades galore during the primetime event Thursday, Friday and throughout out the day on Saturday.  Most of them were for good causes as fans and teams alike were delighted by the free movement in and out of rounds that allowed teams to actually get what they coveted.

As a southern style blog/report, we will focus mainly on the NFC South as I may choose to review others as I see fit(or upon request).  The Southern Division had two clear winners as the other two were riddled by either previous trades or penalty by the league.

The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cleaned up early and often in hopes of returning to the forefront of a division they not too distantly controlled before.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Bucs really went after it in this draft.  First they traded down out of the top 5 and had a hand in making Cleveland trade up one spot for RB Trent Richardson.  With the 7th pick they took Alabama SS Mark Barron.  Instantly they gave themselves production in the back 7 they sorely needed.  Next at the bottom of the first they traded back in to select Boise St RB Doug Martin, complementing Blount in the backfield.  Hopefully this will take some pressure off of the struggling QB Josh Freeman.  In the 5,6, and 7 rounds they added youth and depth at positions of need adding a linebacker a corner, another running back and a tight end.  The first round alone is enough to give the Bucs an A but they kept at it in the later rounds giving this team a new look and hope for the near future.

Grade: A

Carolina Panthers:

Early on the Panthers looked to be the team that would land the top D-Tackle prospect in the draft were they to select Mississippi St. bulldozer, Fletcher Cox, in a mild upset the Panthers elected to go with the super talented inside linebacker Luke Kuechley.  Immediately fans jumped all over the pick wondering why they would pass on such a glaring need such as DT in lieu of a linebacker.  The Panthers would not be swayed as their very next selection caused even more heads to tilt in wonder when they selected a D-II offensive guard, Amini Silatolu.  After the early misdirection the Panthers got back on track using all of their remaining picks to hit major areas of need: DE, CB, WR/PR, and S.  After the initial shock of the early rounds(and a couple YouTube highlight videos) my nerves calmed and I began to appreciate the direction and overall quality of Carolina’s decisions.  Kuechly will be a stud and Silatolu will be a monter in the middle and Carolina is fast approaching one of if not the most talented Special teams units in the League.

Grade:B+

Atlanta Falcons:

Not much to see here as they gave up the farm last year to acquire WR Julio Jones.  Two offensive lineman, a full back, defensive end, strong safety and a d-tackle.  Most everything this team needs on defense was addressed in the draft.  The only thing missing now on defense is talent.  Julio better be good next year because they are going to have to score a lot of points in this division.

Grade: C

New Orleans Saints:

Oh boy, where to begin with the continuing disaster that is the NO Saints offseason?  How about the first round, no? Okay then how about the 2nd?  Not there either?  The 3rd? Yes finally the 3rd round selection of the Saints was a DE from Regina, Akiem Hicks.  And that pretty much does it for name recognition for the Saints draft.  A WR, SS, G, and Tackle  round out the late rounds.  Look on the bright side New Orleans, you still have Drew Brees, right???

Grade: D+

There you have it folks, NFC South draft wrap ups and grades to drink in.  The South should be interesting at the least to watch.  We very well could see a reversal of fortune for those that have held this division under there thumbs for a few years now.  The Panthers and Bucs are seriously gaining ground on Atlanta and New Orleans is only one more scandal away from being the ‘Aints again.

Keep it glued right here on True Talk, your source for Southern Sports!

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.