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Archive for January, 2012

Typically this time of year all you’re hearing about for two straight weeks is talk about the Super Bowl. This year there’s a little twist which is centered not on the Super Bowl itself, but instead around the host city’s biggest celebrity and athlete…Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. By now you’ve heard many different scenarios discussed about Manning’s future as well as the drama with him and owner Jim Irsay. Here are some scenarios to think about as this saga unfolds along with how and where I think he’ll ultimately end up for 2012.

1.  Manning Retires – Manning may decide his long-term health is more important than adding a few more dollars to his bank account.

2. Peyton Manning may think he has one or two seasons left in the tank and doesn’t want to leave Indianapolis. He’ll never see the $28 million bonus the Colts owe him in early March, but he may get “cut” and turn around and re-sign a new one or two-year deal with the team.

3. Because many of you who’ll read this are fellow Browns fans I’ll humor you with this scenario. Manning would come to Cleveland and immediately re-invigorate the franchise. He’s been successful with second, third and fourth string WR’s in the past and since we’re a team full of #3 and #4 receivers it won’t be any change. We could sign a big name in free agency (Marques Colston or DeSean Jackson) and immediately have a legit offense. Oh, did I mention we have 3 draft picks in the first 40 picks too? Sounds pretty good eh? Don’t hold your breath.

4. Here’s where I ultimately think he may end up and it’s a team you don’t hear anyone else talking about…the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars played most of 2011 with first round pick Blaine Gabbert at QB. He was the only QB statistically worse than Tim Tebow last season…what does that tell you? They have a new owner who’s likely going to move the team to L.A. at some point and would love nothing more than making a splash bigger than his mustache (hands down the best mustache in the NFL…better than Brad Childress or Andy Reid). They have a new offensive-minded head coach in Mike Mularkey which Manning should love as he knows a little something about offense himself. Also, the Jags have been struggling like no other team in the league to sell tickets. You can’t tell me bringing in Peyton Manning wouldn’t immediately help sell TENS OF THOUSANDS of tickets for the next year or two and instantly make your team relevant again.

Time will tell what happens, but you heard it here first if he end up as a Jaguar. Selfishly I’d love to see the Browns sign him, but who’s the last big-name free agent to EVER come to any Cleveland team? It’s not going to be Manning either.

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Do I have your attention? Let me begin by saying as a member of a TEAM, there is nothing more important than winning Championships. Whether it’s a tournament championship, conference championship, state championship or any other type of championship that’s the ultimate team goal.

In looking at championships another way, they couldn’t be more overrated when looking at the greatness of an individual who is a member of a TEAM sport. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re talking about, but any time someone talks about the “Greatest Player of All-Time” in that sport one of the topics that always comes up is how many championships that player won during his career.  For those of us who’ve ever been fortunate enough to play on a team, we all know that one person can’t win a championship by themselves.

The only sport where I’d almost allow someone to try to make this argument is basketball because that’s a team sport where only five players are on the court at one time as opposed to most other team sports which have many more than five players. Plus, if you’ve watched an NBA game in the past 10 years it’s hardly a team sport anymore…it’s five separate one-on-one games going on at each end of the floor, but I’ll save this topic and tirade for another day. Also, if there was ever a case where you could say an individual was solely responsible for a team’s success in the NBA it was the Cavs when LeBron was there and how many championships did those teams win?

Let’s first take a look at the “Greatest Quarterback in NFL History” debate which we all hear several times a year. When this topic comes up the names you typically hear are Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Brett Favre, Dan Marino and even Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. I’m not going to try to say who I think is the best of all-time, but the giant wart you always hear about Dan Marino was his inability to win a Super Bowl. This also comes up when discussing Manning, however he’s won one Super Bowl so he sort of gets a pass in this category. What people don’t talk about is the fact that the Dolphins teams under Marino had some of the worst running backs in the history of the NFL. Names like Tony Nathan, Bernie Parmalee, Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Sammie Smith and Mark Higgs. Additionally, people forget that in the NFL teams have to play something called DEFENSE! How is it Dan Marino’s fault that the Dolphins’ defenses in the 80’s were average, at best, and in the 90’s they were terrible? The same exact argument could be made for Manning and the Colts, however Manning had Edgerrin James as a top-notch RB the year they won the Super Bowl. Their defenses were terrible except for their two defensive ends, and the only time they played well was that playoff stretch leading up to the Super Bowl.

Another hot topic for debate is greatest hitter of all time. You hear names like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and recently Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. Again, I’m not making an argument on behalf of A-Rod (or his steroid use) but for years he was criticized for being on teams who couldn’t win the big games. When his Mariners teams made the playoffs what could he do when John Halama, Aaron Sele and Paul Abbott took the mound? Or, in his next stop with the Texas Rangers his lineups included everyone’s favorite Ruben Sierra (only 35+ years old), Ricky Ledee, Gabe Kapler and Mike Lamb. Not quite the same as Jeter, Texieria, Cano, Posada and Damon.  Over his career A-Rod has already racked up over 600 home runs, 14 seasons with 100+ RBI, a career .302 hitter, and is only 225 hits away from 3,000 for his career. On top of that he’s a 14-time All-Star and 10-time Silver Slugger winner. When his career is over he may be the greatest hitter of all-time, but had he not been on an amazing team in 2009 he’d forever be known for not winning the big one.

So, over the next two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl you’ll inevitably hear comparisons between Eli and Peyton Manning. I’m sure numerous on-air personalities will say that Eli will be the better quarterback if the Giants beat the Patriots, only because he’ll have two Super Bowl titles compared to Peyton’s one title. I’d be willing to bet that 95% of the people who make that argument have never worn a jock strap in their lives.

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Happy New Year! With 2012 being an election year I thought I’d mix in a tiny bit of politics with sports. You may be wondering how those two topics go together and in most cases they don’t! For example the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens steroid/perjury trials cost taxpayers huge dollar amounts all for what? To find out what we all already knew…they both used performance enhancing drugs and lied about it. Is finding that out worth your tax dollars?

One example of politics mirroring sports is taking place right now with the Republican primaries and the NFL Draft. If you think I’m crazy just keep reading before you tell me I’m nuts.

Tuesday was the first official primary as Iowa held their caucuses with no clear-cut winner. The results…Mitt Romney 25%, Rick Santorum 25%, Ron Paul 21%, Newt Gingrich 13%, Rick Perry 10% and Michele Bachmann 5%. If you would have looked at the USA Today/Gallup national poll on December 7th here’s what you would have seen: Gingrich 37%, Romney 22%, Paul 8%, Perry 7%, Bachmann 6% and Santorum 3%. A month before that on November 7, 2011 here’s what it looked like: Herman Cain 21%, Romney 21%, Gingrich 12%, Perry 11%, Paul 8%, Bachmann 3%, and Santorum 2%. That’s a lot of numbers but there are several things that stick out.

First, what happened to Herman Cain? If you follow politics you know his character came into question and he dropped out of the race due to numerous allegations against him. I compare Cain to former Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett prior to last year’s NFL Draft. Mallett looked and sounded like an NFL quarterback and had all the skills to be a successful QB but his off-field character issues caused him to drop to the third round of the draft and he never saw the field this season behind Tom Brady.

The next question…who is Rick Santorum and how did he jump from 2% to 25% in two months?  Santorum visited every single county in Iowa and spent tons of time promoting family values and has run a positive campaign. It has culminated with a solid showing in the caucuses on Tuesday. This is similar to the recent rise in the draft stock of Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. Griffin had a very good season and peaked at the very end with outstanding games in his final few games of the season including winning the Heisman Trophy and leading Baylor to 67 points in their bowl game. A month ago Griffin was mentioned as the third of fourth best QB behind Stanford’s Andrew Luck, USC’s Matt Barkley and Landry Jones from Oklahoma. Time will tell where Griffin is drafted but his stock has never been higher.

On to Newt Gingrich. How does he go from 12% to 37% and back down to 13%? He didn’t really do anything different to gain support but he was the flavor of the month during December. I look at him like former Missouri QB and current Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert. Last year Gabbert was an afterthought because everyone thought Andrew Luck was going pro and Luck was the talk of the NFL. When Luck went back to college many people elevated Gabbert to “best QB in the draft” status and didn’t do anything different for his stock to rise but it did. Gabbert eventually faded getting picked after QB’s Cam Newton and Jake Locker.

The next candidate is Ron Paul. He has risen from 8% support in the first two polls to 21% in the Iowa caucuses. Paul’s support has come from voters’ support of his strong belief in the Constitution and long history of consistently voting conservatively…two rather boring, yet important, topics. He doesn’t get much media coverage as he isn’t as flashy or controversial as other candidates. When you look at someone like that in the NFL Draft you look at an offensive lineman like Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns or Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins. For the 2012 draft the offensive tackle at the top of most lists is Matt Kalil of USC. A majority of the conversation in the media about the draft centers around “skill position” players like QBs, RBs, and WRs because that’s exciting for fans. But when draft day comes, NFL general managers know the importance of a solid, consistent player on the offensive line to protect their franchise quarterback.

Finally, take a look at Mitt Romney. He’s been at the top or near the top of every poll you see about the primaries. I wouldn’t quite compare him to Andrew Luck who many scouts say is a “can’t miss” prospect, but more so like Reggie Bush from the 2006 NFL Draft. Romney has had a very successful career in the private sector similar to Reggie Bush’s college career. He also made quite a bit of money in the private sector similar to the money Bush received while at USC! (Sorry – I couldn’t help myself). Romney ran for president in 2008 but eventually came in second to John McCain. Similarly, nearly EVERYONE thought Reggie Bush would be the #1 overall pick of the Houston Texans in 2006 and on the night before the draft Houston pulled a stunner by announcing they’d be picking Mario Williams and not Reggie Bush with the first pick.

Will we have a similar scenario again this year with Andrew Luck having been pegged as the no-doubt #1 overall pick for almost two years? Will the Colts throw a curveball and draft someone else with the first pick? We’ll find out in late April and we all know a lot will change between now and then.

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