Tag Archive | "Donovan McNabb"

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 28: Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Did President Obama call Steve Bisciotti?

Posted on 30 December 2010 by Rex Snider

This weekend, the National Football League wraps up the regular season and enters the “elimination round” for determining the next Super Bowl Champion. Indeed, this is the most exciting time on many sports lover’s calendars.

Heck, we’ve already enjoyed a pretty entertaining and, at times, surprising slate of action across the NFL’s universe. All of us have been right, all of us have been wrong, and most of us have been simply shocked on more than a couple occasions …..

The Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears have served as the most recent examples of fortunes changing for the better in just one season …..

At the same time, the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings have proven that NOTHING is ever guaranteed …..

And, to the chagrin of many observers, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have proven, once again, that dismissing their reputation and stability as major factors in overcoming injuries and depth issues is a foolish proposition …..

Indeed, the upcoming postseason will be representative of surprising entries, as well as the most dependable late season finishers. But, this is a reality of every playoff picture, right?

In addition to team results, individual performances have also been a major part of the game’s lure, in this 2010 season …..

Once again, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have lived up to reputations of being the best players in the game. Donovan McNabb was predictably snake-bitten by the Redskins dysfunction. And, as expected, Ray Lewis rattled off another Pro-Bowl caliber effort.

As for surprises, who really expected a long haired Clay Matthews to join the ranks of the most feared players in the game? Did any of us really know much about Arian Foster, just six months ago? Alas, did we expect Michael Vick to ever contend for another MVP award?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 28: Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Pleasant surprise performances are always a nice way of wrapping up a season and looking ahead to the future. But, unfortunately, these same surprising players can and will be exploited for the gains of others.

We shouldn’t be surprised to be seeing entourages of hawkers latching onto the NFL’s hottest, new or “reborn” commodities. Yet, to see the President Of The United States doing it is pretty disappointing …..

A few days ago, the world learned that President Obama called Philadelphia Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie, and commended him for giving Michael Vick a fresh opportunity, because “so many people who serve time never get a fair second chance.”

Fair enough, I suppose …..

But, if expressing such a humanistic approach to helping others and recognizing compassion is a mission during this holiday season, I do wonder if President Obama also used his trusty Blackberry to give Baltimore Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti, a phone call with the same spirited message?

After all, Mr. Bisciotti has provided the very same effort for Donte’ Stallworth, right? A year ago, Stallworth had no clear indications of how or where he might be able to make a living. The Ravens have afforded him a “second chance”

Better yet, did President Obama spread a little more goodwill by gracing Cincinnati Bengals owner, Mike Brown, with such a spirited “attaboy !!!!” phone conversation? God knows Mr. Brown and the Bengals have doled out more second and third chances than Carmella Soprano and any girlfriend of Alex Rodriguez, combined.

Let’s not stop with football and current players, either …..

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ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Donovan McNabb  of the Washington Redskins on the sidelines against play against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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The “Most Disappointing Performers” of 2010 …..

Posted on 22 December 2010 by Rex Snider

A week ago, I introduced my first LIST chronicling sports and events, in 2010. At the time, I guaranteed variations of such rankings, including the GOOD, BAD and downright PATHETIC. For some odd reason, developing this year’s lists has not been an easy endeavor. Hence, the delay in posting …..

Today’s list regards the “MOST DISAPPOINTING PERFORMERS OF 2010”. The criteria are simple; the list applies exclusively to professional athletes and the 2010 year. As always, I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions …..
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10) Donovan McNabb – while he certainly maintains a healthy core of supporters, it’s pretty difficult to blindly overlook McNabb’s tumultuous, yet brief stint in the nation’s capital. He’s grinding thru a tough season that has yielded the fewest touchdown passes (14) and most interceptions (15) of his 10 seasons as a starting quarterback.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Donovan McNabb  of the Washington Redskins on the sidelines against play against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It’s become quite obvious that McNabb and Mike Shanahan are not on the same page, as two benchings would certainly indicate. The Redskins are mired in another losing season, and regardless of a potential Hall of Fame career, McNabb must accept a great deal of accountability for a lackluster offensive attack.

Hmmm …. do you think they’re smiling up in Philly?
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9) Alex Rodriguez – I never thought this name would appear on such a list; well, not in 2010, anyway. However, I think it’s pretty fair to say A’Rod easily suffered through the worst season of his career as a starting 3rd baseman/shortstop.

Aug. 11, 2010 - Arlington, Texas, USA - August 11, 2010. Yankees third baseman ALEX RODRIGUEZ in the dugout as The New York Yankees played the Texas Rangers in a Major League Baseball game at the Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

While the Orioles (and a few other teams) would gladly receive a 3rd baseman who hits for a .270 clip, with 30 homers and 125 RBI, the New York Yankees expect much more production. And, when they’re paying that player an annual salary of $33 million, I’d say such demands are warranted.

The 2010 season was a downer for A’Rod, as he’s still counted as a true five-tool player. At 34, his best days are assuredly in the rear view mirror …. but, I’m sure the Steinbrenner’s still expect a batting average in the vicinity of .300, with 35 homers, 30 doubles, 10 steals and 125 RBI.

And, for the money they’re spending …. I don’t blame them.
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#8) Chris Johnson – I think everybody remembers Johnson’s season of domination, in 2009, right? He became the sixth player to rush for 2,000+ yards, in NFL history. He basked in the spotlight and became the top pick in most 2010 Fantasy Football Drafts.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 18: Running back Chris Johnson  of the Tennessee Titans warms up prior to the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 18, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Of course, Johnson fed the adoration and suspense by predicting he would rush for 2,500 yards, in this 2010 season. It was a ludicrous goal to set and an even crazier hope for a growing collection of fans. With a couple games remaining, Johnson finds himself with 1,267 rushing yards.

Not a bad year, huh? By most accounts, it wouldn’t be a disappointing season …. but, even Johnson expected and guaranteed more.
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7) A.J. Burnett – here’s the one guy who justifies Andy MacPhail’s reluctance to overpay free agents, huh? Just a couple years ago, A.J. Burnett shared prospective shopping lists with Mark Teixeira. As we know, the Orioles made token offers and both players ended up in pinstripes.

New York Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett throws a pitch in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium in New York City on April 17, 2010.  UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

While Teixeira has produced at an expected level, Burnett has struggled to achieve the lofty statistics that rendered him one of the most coveted pitchers in the 2008 shopping market. And, 2010 was simply a season to forget, as Burnett produced a 5.26 ERA and 1.51 WHIP, while finding a way to lose more games than he won.

Perhaps, A.J. Burnett is on the shortest leash, heading into 2011. The Yankees are a team that can withstand bad contracts, and unless he recaptures some dominance, Burnett might find himself pitching in Kansas City or Baltimore …. sooner rather than later.
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6) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – I have never maintained the belief that Earnhardt was among the very best talents in NASCAR, let alone comparable to the legend of his father. However, I also never foresaw him performing this badly, either.

CONCORD, NC - OCTOBER 14: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the  AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 14, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

We’re approaching three years since Earnhardt won his last race, and he’s finished outside the Top-20 in season standings for two straight years. On a weekly basis, he’s being viewed as just part of the field, rather than a threat win any particular race.

Still, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains NASCAR’S most popular competitor and he easily earns more money than any fellow driver (and most ballplayers) on an annual basis. Only in America, huh? What’s the incentive to win? Perhaps, Earnhardt’s popularity really is undermining any hunger to win …..
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5) Greg Oden – as he’s shelved in his fourth season as a pro basketball player, Oden stands to potentially become one of the biggest BUSTS in NBA history. To date, the former #1 overall pick has earned almost $20 million, while playing in just 82 career games.

ATLANTA - MARCH 30:  Greg Oden #20 of the Ohio State Buckeyes warms up during practice for the NCAA Men's Final Four at the Georgia Dome on March 30, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Hmmm …. my calculator says that’s about $230,000, per game. Not bad for a night’s work, huh? In 2010, the figures are even uglier – Oden hasn’t played a single game, this year. But, he’s being paid $4.3 million for such services.

To suggest Greg Oden has been a disappointment, in 2010, is an absolute understatement. Then, again, maybe the Trailblazers don’t expect anything from him – which is exactly what he’s giving them.
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4) Randy Moss – how about a standing ovation and resounding applause for the first dude who makes both of my BAD lists, in 2010. As the 2010 season winds down, Randy Moss finds himself making no real contribution to the Tennessee Titans offense.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11: Randy Moss  of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the New York Jets at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 11, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets won 29-20. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Ironically, the same can pretty much be said for his brief stint, in Minnesota, as well. That’s right, it’s been a couple months since Moss forced his way out of New England – where they’re readying to seize the top seed in the AFC playoff picture.

He entered the 2010 season as one of the most legitimate receivers in the NFL. Yet, thru 14 games, Moss has just 5 touchdowns and 27 receptions. Of the 5 scores, he has only two over the last couple months. Is he disappointment? Yes, very much so …..
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3) Lebron James – you can call him King James, All Star or Chosen One …. just don’t call him a WINNER. While his 2010 has been the tale of two cities and teams, Lebron James has failed to establish himself as the driving force behind a corps capable of winning BIG GAMES.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James stands on the court during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls in game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at the United Center in Chicago on April 22, 2010. The Bulls won 108-106 and trail the Cavliers 2-1 in the best of seven series.  UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

He packed it in against the Celtics, back in May. He chose to flee a team he commanded for a team where he’s surrounded. Leaders don’t need such security – just see Jordan, Magic or Bird.

The story of the 2010-2011 Miami Heat has not been written. They’re winning regular season contests, but will they win the postseason games, where leadership is a MUST? Based on his past, it’s pretty safe to assume Lebron cannot be counted upon when it matters most – and such a reality defines disappointment.
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2) Brett Favre – if he just had a crystal ball, huh? In some distinct ways, I feel badly for Favre. He obviously plays the game with a sheer love for the competition, and a legend of his stature should not walk away in such a beaten state.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 05: Brett Favre  of the Minnesota Vikings leaves the field after defeating the Buffalo Bills at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

But, Brett Favre gambled on one season too many. Buoyed by last January’s NFC Championship Game …. and near miss, he caved to pressure from the Vikings and returned for another season and shot at the Super Bowl.

It has proven to be a mistake. Favre wasn’t healthy when the season began and he should’ve been smart enough to realize and accept it. Of course, America’s favorite bimbo, Jenn Sterger, has only added to the dysfunction of this disastrous season.

In the words of the great Clint Eastwood, “a man must know his limitations.” Unfortunately, Brett Favre did not recognize his limitations, as 2010 became his worst season, ever.
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#1) Tiger Woods – well, could it really be anyone else? As the entire world knows, Tiger’s life unraveled into a sordid, corrupt mess, in 2010. From adulterous affairs, to domestic discord and lost sponsorships, Tiger lost an awful lot …..

Tiger Woods waits to hit off of the 11th tee box during the first round of the Quail Hollow Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 29, 2010.  UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

The losing also carried onto the golf course. He played the worst golf of his professional career and looked totally lost, at times. From the hecklers speckled in the galleries, to the gaudy airplane banners soaring overhead, Tiger’s presence at a golf tournament became very “tabloid-ish”.

However, I think Tiger Woods is the MOST DISAPPOINTING PERFORMER of 2010, because we expect such greatness from him. He is easily the most dominant athlete of the last decade. And, to see his game struggle due to something other than the natural progressions of age or injury is very sad, indeed.

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LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles makes a break past Brian Orakpo  of the Washington Redskins on November 15, 2010 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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Will he ever outrun the dogs?

Posted on 18 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Like many football fans, my Monday evening was devoted to watching the Philadelphia Eagles dismantle the Washington Redskins before the eyes of a national audience. I could call it a “beatdown” or “trouncing”, but such terms fall short of describing the true disparity in performances by both teams.

For the record, you can count me among the MILLIONS who believed Michael Vick would never really be a star performer, again.

Not in the National Football League, anyway …..

Monday’s performance, by Vick, was a pretty awesome display. He carved through the porous Redskins secondary with a surgeon-like expertise. He escaped the pocket and pursuant defenders like bigger kids bully smaller ones.

The statistics are pretty daunting : 413 yards (333 passing & 80 rushing), 6 touchdowns (4 passing & 2 rushing). Not too shabby, huh?

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles makes a break past Brian Orakpo  of the Washington Redskins on November 15, 2010 at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

During the course of Monday’s game, I can recall ESPN’s crew, including Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico, tying Michael Vick’s dog fighting crimes and subsequent incarceration into the conversation regarding the night’s contest.

One of my immediate resulting thoughts was “are these guys ever gonna let it go?

And, to a more substantial degree, I asked myself “will our society ever put it in the past?”

I sensed that I really was tiring of the story. I was tiring of the talk of redemption. I was tiring of the talk about a career renewed. I was pretty much tiring of everything – except, football.

When I’ve had my fill of something, I have a consistent habit of tuning it out. Call it self-serving or close-minded, but I simply turn my casual attention to something else.

That’s what I started to do with this entire Michael Vick saga. And, then something surfaced to bring it back into the spotlight …..

The Eagles opened their 2010 season with a new leader. He paid his dues and served as Donovan McNabb’s understudy, for 3 seasons. The job belonged to Kevin Kolb and he was touted as the new face of the franchise.

With thanks to the Green Bay Packers, and special thanks to Clay Matthews, Kolb’s stay as Philly’s starting quarterback was short lived. Michael Vick entered the season opener for an injured Kolb and performed very well.

With exception to an injury of his own, Vick has really claimed the job for his own and appears to be Andy Reid’s long term selection.

Why not?

He brings a dynamic to the game that’s minimally described as “unique”. How many quarterbacks sporting blazing speed and a decent arm come along in a lifetime?

Yeah, I hear the MVP talk and that’s just ridiculous. Vick has missed 5 of 11 games and he trails the likes of Philip Rivers and Tom Brady in overall production.

But, he’s having a great season and his redeeming himself …. ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD.

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Is quiet leadership a bad thing in today’s world?

Posted on 05 November 2010 by Domenic Vadala

As we know, sports can be a great motif for life in general. As a part of the oh-so-competitive corporate world, I’ve been told time and time again that it’s important to toot-your-own-horn when you do something good at work. If you don’t, they say, you’ll never be able to move up. I come from humble stock, and bragging about how great I am is just not something with which I’m comfortable. Having said that, I’ve seen less-than-qualified people be promoted over me, and I’ve even been threatened with my job for giving credit to others.

The purpose of this column is not to vent about my job. However if life mirrors sports, does the same theory or idea hold true? As a Washington Redskin fan, I hated Donovan McNabb for years. Not only did he play for the Eagles, but he had the uncanny ability to beat the Redskins whenver he needed to do so. However looking back on those games today (with McNabb now playing for the burgundy and gold), I can see that he played all of those games with the grace, class, and leadership that he exhibits now with the Redskins. He’s not an overly emotional player in that he never lets you see him sweat when he’s under duress. My point isn’t to bring up or discuss his benching last Sunday afternoon in Detroit, although I’ll say that I think it was a bad move. However that was only the latest instance in a long line of times where McNabb’s been embarrassed during his football career. He even refused to publically denounce T.O. when they were teammates and Owens saw fit to call him out. He was benched by Andy Reid in Baltimore a few years back at halftime, and he took his medicine without complaining. However each time his team wins or he makes a great play, he’s always up there saying how great of a route Chris Cooley or DeShawn Jackson ran on that play.

On the other hand, showboaters such as Michael Irving and Deion Sanders never seemed to struggle for respect. Both of them were great players without a doubt, however they never carried themselves with the humility or grace with which someone like McNabb does. Derek Jeter (as much as we hate him) is a quiet guy, but he plays for the Yankees so he’s essentially loud by association. Alex Rodriguez can be loud at times, and as we saw earlier this season he seemingly has no regard for the game’s unwritten rules (ask Dallas Braden). The league, media, and fans even swept Rodriguez’s steroid use under the rug. Yet a quiet type of guy like Rafael Palmeiro was villianized. (Granted Palmeiro lied to Congress, but on the field he was fairly mild-mannered.) So what am I trying to say here? To be honest, I’m really not sure myself. I guess what I’m trying to say is that for whatever reason, it’s easier for society to accept someone like a Michael Irving or Alex Rodriguez. The majority of society are emotional people; therefore they react and empathize with someone like that. When people see someone like Donovan McNabb or even Raffy, they immediately think that the guy has no moxie whatsoever. In fact, when they screw up people are potentially more likely to hold them accountable. McNabb was benched because he threw a horrible interception late in the game, or Palmeiro single-handedly ruined baseball with his steroid use. This, as opposed to Michael Irving may act like a thug and have a drug addiction but he’s a great receiver, or Alex Rodriguez took steroids, but so did everyone else.

What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. Steroids are wrong no matter how you look at it, and regardless of who’s taking them. However I suppose what I’m saying is that people can accept the shortcomings of humanized athletes or public figures moreso than they can those of the quiet leaders. And I think that’s a horrible trend. We should all aim to be like Donovan McNabb, telling reporters how great his teammates are. Instead, as a society we’re more like Michael Irving, who never wasted an opprotunity to promote himself to the cameras or microphones. Nowadays NFL players are almost expected to do some kind of endzone dance when they score, whereas the true legends of the game such as Johnny Unitas simply walked off the field. Again, we all wish that we had that kind of class.

I don’t think for one moment that Donovan McNabb isn’t respected in the NFL, however I’ve heard that he wasn’t always liked by the fanbase in Philadelphia because of his professionalism. All jokes about that making sense for Philadelphia people aside, that’s a sad state of affairs. Is that why he was traded? I don’t know, however I would assume that had he perhaps spoken his worth from time to time, they might have thought twice about it. Instead, he motored along like a good soldier and propped people up around him. To me, that’s leadership much moreso than someone that steals the limelight on a continual basis. But yet, those are the people that seemingly make it in today’s society. What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

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What does Tom Brady think of the Baltimore Ravens and Terrell Suggs?

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What does Tom Brady think of the Baltimore Ravens and Terrell Suggs?

Posted on 19 October 2010 by Rex Snider

By now, we pretty much know how Baltimore’s purple kool-aid drinking, smash-mouth football fans feel about Tom Brady ….

I’m assuming you respect his on-field achievements, especially as it regards his overall prowess as a championship winning quarterback, and a stat-logging machine.

Tom Brady has been recognized as the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player. He is the only quarterback in the game’s modern history to lead a team to an undefeated regular season record. And, he is the only quarterback to throw for 50 touchdowns in a single season.

Yet, more importantly, Tom Brady has been on the winning end of 102 of his 135 regular season contests. Yes, that’s a .755 winning percentage. Or, for those scoring on the 16-game measuring stick, he wins an average of 12 games per season. Not too shabby, huh?

Of course, the most impressive part of Brady’s resume’ is his postseason mark of 14 wins and 4 losses, accompanied by 28 touchdowns, 4100 passing yards and THREE OF THESE …..
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Hard to beat such accomplishments, huh?

Count ’em, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Kyle Orton, Matt Ryan, Donovan McNabb, Jay Cutler, Mike Vick and the CHOSEN ONE – Mark Sanchez, combined, have not won as many Super Bowls as Tom Brady.

Combine the achievements and distinctions with Brady’s character as a good citizen and unblemished ambassador of the game, which separates him from the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre, and the story of a guy who’s universally adored is a given reality, right?

Not so fast …..

While Tom Brady is everything specified, thus far, he’s also known for one disintegrating trait, which grows louder and LOUDER …..

That’s right, on top of being everything an American kid could hope for in life, Brady has also been hampered and psychologically scarred by an incident that paved and demolished his 2008 season.

If you’re just a casual football fan, chances are you still recall this image from the NFL’s “Opening Day,” just a couple years ago …..
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It’s only been a couple years, but I will always remember that season-ending injury for Tom Brady. I felt bad for the guy and I still do. As I mentioned earlier, he’s the perfect role model citizen and he’s a freakin’ winner. I also dig the fact that all 32 teams passed on him NUMEROUS TIMES in the NFL Draft.

But, in the couple years since returning from his debilitating injury, Brady has been earning a reputation that will likely stick a negitive stigma to his otherwise stellar reputation. In fact, this perception and belief people are developing can be a KILLER for a “man’s man.”

Tom Brady is being viewed as SOFT.

Tom Brady is being viewed as GUN SHY.

Tom Brady is being viewed as a SISSY.

There, I finally said it. After all the lathering of accolades I’ve smered on the guy, I’ve gotta be honest about the way many people are viewing Tom Brady, these days. It’s an impression I’ve resisted for more than year; that’s how much I really LIKE and RESPECT the guy.

But, with each passing game, I’m being swayed further and further to the side of the guys who question Brady’s mental and physical toughness …. or even his courage.

That’s a very damning thing to say or write …..

In last year’s October matchup, all of us distinctly recall Tom Brady lobbying officials for penalties against Ravens defenders for incidental contact and rather meaningless/harmless touches. At first, I perceived it to be gamemanship from Brady. I imagined that he would complain with a demonstrative vigor, but ultimately walk back to the huddle with a snicker, while knowing he was gonna get some yellow hankies thrown in his favor.

As last season dragged on, so did Tom Brady’s antics. And, he was getting louder about it.

Everyone was taking notice.

For me, the culmination of Brady’s complaining about contact really culminated in Sunday’s game. He was hit CLEAN upon releasing the ball on a completed pass, late in the 4th quarter. Yet, he still slammed his hand to the ground, while chewing the referee’s ass. He was looking for a penalty. And, yes, I saw Terrell Suggs’ hand graze the quarterback’s helmet.

Fortunately, the officials didn’t bite and a penalty was not assessed. Doing so could’ve killed the impending reality of overtime.

Is that how Tom Brady really wants to win?

Is that what he’s reduced to?

I’m not buying it. I don’t think it’s a competitive tool or gamesmanship. To be blunt, I think Tom Brady is legitimately concerned about getting hurt, again. And, while I can understand his plight, it’s also the professional path he’s chosen.

Getting slammed by Ray Lewis HURTS. Getting drilled by a Cliff Lee fastball HURTS. Hitting the wall in Jeff Gordon’s Chevrolet, at 180 mph, HURTS. I get it, I really do.

Evidently, Tom Brady really gets it …. and he doesn’t like it. Thus, we’re treated to his weekly antics …..
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Believe me, I see the business aspect tied to guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. They’re the marketing darlings or “cash cows” for NFL Properties. Thus, the league does everything possible (including rules changes) to ensure these guys stay on the field.

But, at some point, you’ve gotta play football, right? Heck, some folks think the game has already been watered down by the rules changes.

Still, Tom Brady complains – every single week.

I suppose he accomplishes what he wants. And, on Mondays, he denies everything.

Each Monday, Brady joins the Dennis & Callahan Show, on Boston’s WEEI Radio, for a phone conversation. During yesterday’s call, he downplayed his on-field complaining. In fact, he called all the Ravens hits “CLEAN.”

He also dished on his thoughts of Terrell Suggs and the predictability of the Ravens defense, inside the red zone. He said, “they’re either blitzing or putting 8 men in the end zone.”

He also said, “they do a lot of talking for a team that has beaten us once in 9 times, since I’ve been here.”

You can find the conversation HERE

While I still like Tom Brady and remain in awe of his career-defining accomplishments, I really would like to remember him as a guy who did things the right way and played with a physical/mental toughness demanded of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks.

Today, I’m not so certain I still believe in his heart and courage.

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2010 NFL Forecast: Will the Ravens raise the Lombardi Trophy?

Posted on 08 September 2010 by Luke Jones

With the beginning of the 2010 NFL season only hours away, expectations have never been higher in Baltimore as the Ravens have their eyes fixed on their first Super Bowl title since the 2000 season.

Questions remain in the secondary and whether Joe Flacco can reach elite status with an abundance of new weapons in the Baltimore offense, but contenders and pretenders alike face some level of uncertainty on the eve of Week 1.

Easy schedules — and the unsophisticated attempts to predict a team’s fate week by week — in early September frequently transform into daunting slates in the unpredictable nature of the NFL. An injury to a key performer at the wrong position can derail even the strongest teams’ championship aspirations.

Inevitably, a sexy preseason contender or two will collapse under fatal flaws, and an anonymous outfit that no one is even pondering as a victor will find itself playing long into January.

We just never can tell.

And with that digression, I toss my hat into the futile, but enjoyable, pool of forecasting the 2010 season. If nothing else, predictions offer damning proof that most of us (all of us?) really don’t know what we’re talking about when the dust settles in early February.

AFC East
New England – The Jets will continue to steal the headlines, but the Patriots will happily take the division title.
New York – Rex Ryan speaks loudly and carries a big stick, but Mark Sanchez is not ready for the big stage yet.
Miami – No one is happier about Brandon Marshall’s arrival in South Beach than Chad Henne.
Buffalo – Did Chan Gailey really get another head coaching gig in the NFL?

AFC North
Baltimore – Can Joe Flacco keep three former Pro Bowl receivers happy in a potentially explosive passing game?
Cincinnati* – Coordinator Mike Zimmer and the defense will prove their No. 4 ranking in 2009 was no fluke.
Pittsburgh – An aging defense and a shaky offensive line will not be able to overcome Ben Roethlisberger’s four-game suspension and ensuing rust.
Cleveland – It’s rarely a good thing when all people want to talk about is the new front office.

AFC South
Indianapolis – Would the NFL have tweaked the umpire’s positioning if Peyton Manning had not been the one to complain the loudest?
Houston* – After being the chic pick for a couple seasons, Gary Kubiak and the Texans finally crack the postseason.
Tennessee – Does Chris Johnson hold up long enough to touch the ball over 400 times again?
Jacksonville – Three straight losing seasons could spell the end of Jack Del Rio’s eight-year stay with the Jaguars.

AFC West
San Diego – Ryan Mathews won’t make Chargers fans forget LaDainian Tomlinson, but the rookie back is poised for a dynamic rookie campaign.
Oakland – Picking the Raiders any place other than last seems foreign, but Tom Cable has some semblance of a football team if Al Davis doesn’t meddle too much. Good luck with that.
Denver – Kyle Orton is serviceable but not enough to make a difference in the Broncos’ fate.
Kansas City – Safety Eric Berry is a future star and one of several young players giving the Chiefs hope for the future.

NFC East
Dallas – No Cowboys coach has lasted longer than four seasons since Jimmy Johnson (1989-93), so Wade Phillips (entering his fourth year) needs a big season in Big D.
New York – The Giants’ Steve Smith (107 receptions in 2009) has officially turned the Carolina wideout into the “other” one.
Philadelphia – Kevin Kolb will seal Andy Reid’s fate as a genius or mark the beginning of the end for the coach in Philadelphia.
Washington – Donovan McNabb will limp through a hapless season without enough talent surrounding him.

NFC North
Green Bay – This might be the year that Aaron Rodgers exorcises the ghost of Favre by bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Titletown.
Minnesota* – The absence of Sidney Rice will hurt more than Brett Favre’s ankle, taking the Vikings down a small notch.
Chicago – A fortune was spent for Jay Cutler a year ago and Julius Peppers this offseason, but a small return this season will mark the end for Lovie Smith.
Detroit – Rookies Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best give Lions fans two reasons to be excited for the future.

NFC South
New Orleans – Drew Brees might be the one quarterback in the league you wouldn’t grow tired of seeing in the Super Bowl.
Atlanta* – Though he took a step back in his sophomore year, far too many people are overlooking Matt Ryan and the Falcons this season.
Carolina – Whether the Panthers surprise or wilt with Matt Moore at the helm, it looks like this is the final act in Charlotte for John Fox, whose contract expires after the season.
Tampa Bay – At least they have those “creamsicle” throwbacks to look forward to at some point this season, right?

NFC West
San Francisco – Alex Smith is no Joe Montana or Steve Young — or even Jeff Garcia — but the 49ers are the strongest team in a pedestrian division.
Arizona – Cardinals fans wish Kurt Warner would be more like Brett Favre in his retirement practices.
Seattle – As if his first two go-rounds in the NFL weren’t bad enough, the shadow of the sanctions at USC makes Pete Carroll an easy guy to root against.
St. Louis – Sam Bradford has 50 million reasons to smile while he takes a beating in his rookie season.

* = Wild-card berth

Wild-Card Round
New England over Cincinnati
Houston over San Diego
Minnesota over San Francisco
Atlanta over Dallas

Divisional Round
Indianapolis over Houston
Baltimore over New England
New Orleans over Atlanta
Green Bay over Minnesota

AFC Championship
Baltimore over Indianapolis

NFC Championship
Green Bay over New Orleans

Super Bowl XLV
Baltimore over Green Bay

MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ryan Mathews
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh

The exhilarating journey begins Thursday night.

Enjoy the ride.

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Before You Push The Purple Panic Button ....

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Before You Push The Purple Panic Button ….

Posted on 23 August 2010 by Rex Snider

My highly anticipated “Sports Saturday” started off on a positive note, thanks to the Orioles 8-6 victory over Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers. The game was full of pleasant surprises …..

Who would’ve ever predicted that Josh Bell would connect more often than Joe Flacco on a simultaneous gameday? Ahh …. the magic of the unexpected in sports, huh?

By the time I hit the Lazy-Boy for the Ravens vs. Redskins preseason showdown, I was convinced it was going to be a GREAT night. I can’t say it turned out badly, but I did go to bed knowing John Harbaugh’s bunch still has A LOT of work on its hands before reuniting with Rex Ryan and his Jets.

While I can readily admit Saturday night’s game left me agonizing over a few areas of concern with this team, I’ve chosen to take a more sensible look at the overall picture of the 2010 Baltimore Ravens …..

For the past few weeks, we’ve heard the gloomy forecasts from those who invested a significant portion of their collective hope in Domonique Foxworth’s presence at cornerback. From callers to on-air hosts and even occasional guests, some sobering words have been spoken.

However, in all fairness, there has also been a fairly respectable amount of us who believe the team will be just fine, while downplaying any real handicap to the secondary. And, we’ve had answers for our continued positive outlook, right?

The common rationale in defending the stubborn optimism has been along the lines of “THE RAVENS ARE GONNA HAVE TO BLITZ MORE OFTEN AND GET AFTER THE QUARTERBACK.”

This certainly seems like a logical solution, right? Heck, it’s Football-101 …..

But, we’ve also heard the fairly warned potential ramifications to this solution, too.

As many realists have concluded, if you’re blitzing, you MUST get to the quarterback. If not, guys like Donovan McNabb are gonna make plays. And, the Ravens will be facing a host of ‘slingers better than the former Philadelphia Eagle, in 2010.
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At times during Saturday’s game, McNabb looked like he was doomed, only to fool all of us by stepping up or rolling out of the pocket to buy an extra tick. He succeeded in some crucial situations, including a couple opportunities from the Redskins endzone.

By the way, does anyone know if Travis Fisher made the trip to DC?

The good news is we still have three solid weeks remaining before action on the field really counts. That’s 21 days for Lardarius Webb to get healthier. That’s 21 days to shop for better options on the rosters of other teams. And, that’s 21 days for Greg Mattison to assert some Rex Ryan and Marvin Lewis “PURPLE MAGIC” into his defense.

I’m certain a proportionate amount of this week’s WNST phone calls will be directed at finding a way to help the crippled cornerback unit. That’s the way it always is with the fan base. Among our consistent reactions, nothing is stronger than the tendency to PANIC.

Well, I’m telling you to relax.

Absorb the preseason for what it is – PRESEASON.

John Harbaugh and Greg Mattison weren’t really worried about stopping Chris Cooley, Santana Moss or Anthony Armstrong. Indeed, I’ll guarantee you they were more interested in seeing how their patched up secondary would fare against them – for better or worse.

For some players, like Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and Derrick Mason, this game was simply about finding their rhythm and getting back into the flow of established gameplans.
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For some others, like Anquan Boldin, Donte Stallworth, Cory Redding and Ken Hamlin, this game served as a prime opportunity to become intimate with their surroundings and a whole new playbook, at fullspeed.

And, yet, for some guys, like Travis Fisher (really …. did he play?), Prince Miller, Jason Phillips and Cary Williams, this was a vitally significant opportunity to prove they can play at this level and for this team.

You can bet a few sets of discerning eyes were cast on Flacco and his cohorts, as well as Boldin and his gang. But, I’ll bet the house nearly every eye that matters was watching that final group, as they danced upon the bubble …..

So, while you’re worried about the Ravens cornerbacks being able to cover the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals, I’m urging you ….. LET IT GO.

Unless he suddenly finds some of Ronnie Lott’s natural ability deep within his soul, Travis Fisher will not find a spot on this Ravens team. Greg Mattison surely suspected it going into Saturday night’s game. Fisher, himself, only confirmed it.

Perhaps, that’s why Mattison emphasized on a blitz-happy defensive attack. I can see that strategy. Think about it …. they might as well test the unproven or unlikely guys in an ideal situation, right?

Thus, they blitz and leave “Fisher Island” all by itself.

The preseason is partly about bringing the obvious back into focus, while also helping the truly qualified to learn a new system. But, it’s equally apportioned to testing the untested, to see if they can be part of a championship-caliber organization.

This trip to FedEx Field was nothing more than the second step in John Harbaugh’s FOUR-STEP preseason process. This team is in a self analyzation stage. They must find out who can contribute, even in the most mitigating ways, to this team’s immediate future.
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While we love and savor those summer days in Westminster, it won’t be revealed there. Harbaugh and company cannot determine their 53rd man at McDaniel College. The survival process does not surround the practice field.

Two meaningless games are in the books and two more still remain. I don’t mean to undervalue the meaning of playing the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams over the next couple weeks. But, these games really don’t matter.

Let me rephrase that ….

The next couple games don’t matter UNLESS you’re standing in the shoes of Fisher, Miller, Williams and a few others. For them, these games are every bit as important as Super Bowl XLV.

These are the biggest games of their lives.

As I suggested, relax. This team will be just fine. Ozzie Newsome didn’t spend more than six months agonizing over a kick ass opportunity, just to be totally derailed by losing a cornerback in the early stages of training camp.

He’s obviously not panicking, why should we?

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Ravens beat Skins 23-3

Posted on 22 August 2010 by Domenic Vadala

More importantly than the final score, the Ravens left FedEx Field in Landover, MD fairly healthy. According to John Harbaugh, wideout Demetrius Williams rolled an ankle in the second quarter, but that shouldn’ limit him in practice this week. Ultimately the Ravens beat the Washington Redskins 23-3 in a game that was probably more noted for how it dragged on in the second half than anything else. Although the Ravens won the game, it’s preseason…this game left much to be desired on the part of the Ravens. They put three fumbles on the ground in the first half; the coaching staff might want to spend some time on hanging onto the ball this week in practice. However, quarterback Joe Flacco completed 9-16 pass attemps although he only had 72 yards. I thought the Redskins were the team that used the West Coast offense?!

Defensively the Skins were able to complete some big plays on the Ravens’ defense. Coming out of last season the secondary was a big question mark, and with Dominique Foxworth out for the year that continues to be the case. On the Redskins’ opening drive of the game Donovan McNabb was able to complete a 45-yard home run ball downfield to Anthony Anderson, who ran under the slightly underthrown pass to make an amazing catch. The play saw the Ravens getting caught in a cover-two defense, which they might not want to continue playing if that’s going to be the result. One thing that was fairly impressive was the Ravens’ red zone defense, which tightened to hold the Redskins to a field goal. McNabb also hooked up with tight end Chris Cooley as well as wide receiver Santana Moss on numerous occasions throughout the first half to move the chains on Redskin drives. However the Redskin offensive line, which looked fairly good last week against Buffalo, seemed to wilt under the pressure of the Ravens’ defense. McNabb found himself getting knocked around on several occasions; right before halftime they even caused a rushed McNabb to commit an intentional grounding penalty. Overall, the Redskins put up three points in the game, which means that the defense played well.

One thing that we do have to keep in mind is that it’s preseason. Admittedly I’m a firm believer in the preseason system in the NFL, as I think these games all serve a huge purpose. There are certainl aspects of any sport which cannot be mastered in practice, such as timing with receivers if you’re a quarterback, or running a route through a defensive secondary. So when I hear people talk about shortening the preseason, first off I tell them that they’re going to see two or three weeks of bad football in the newly elongated regular season. However that would also mean that coaches would have less time to evaluate their players in games. Traditionally the fourth week has always been the game where the starters play very sparingly, givng coaches the chance to see the reserves for most of the game. That wouldn’t be the case if there were only two preseason games. That aside, odds are that had this been a regular season game the play calls would have been different at various stages of the game, so who knows what the final score would have been. When players and coaches get ready for a game, their main goal is always to win (preseason or regular season). However I think that John Harbaugh’s probably happier with the fact that they came out of the game with just a few nicks than he is with the final score.

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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won't Get It ....

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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won’t Get It ….

Posted on 28 June 2010 by Rex Snider

While I’m not a passionate fan of Michael Vick’s play on the football field, I have been quietly rooting for him since last season’s return.

To be honest, my hope in seeing him overcome his past has no real tie to football or athletic achievements, at all. I’ve really hoped he would leave his sordid transgressions and the associated lifestyle in the rear view mirror, while proving to himself and others that he is indeed a “CHANGED MAN.”

Better yet, I thought Michael Vick could motivate a growing generation of adolescents who’ve made poor personal choices in their young lives. Maybe, just maybe, his story and ultimate rise from self-destruction would help others in an inspirational way.

There is just one “catch” ….. this anticipated story of a compassionate comeback needs to stay on track.

As recently as a couple weeks ago, things were looking very opimistic.

Today, I’m not so sure.

As the world now knows, Michael Vick celebrated his 30th birthday with a BIG BASH at a Virginia Beach nightclub, on Thursday night. It was promoted and advertised to the general public, via Facebook, Twitter and informal means.
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While some people might think that hosting parties and momentous celebrations are an expressed inclusion of our freedoms, many of us also realize that such events are an invitation to more than just dancing, drinking and eating birthday cake.

And, discerning between these two considerations is probably where Michael Vick screwed up.

I don’t care that he’s a convicted felon and federal parolee; I don’t simply assume he’s done something illegal. He’s paid his debt to society – he has every right to attend charity functions at Martins West, movie premieres in Hollywood and parties thrown in his honor.

However, a clearly distinct line distinguishes the difference between the “RIGHT” to do something, and whether it’s “RIGHT” to do something. I’m certain celebrities employ such decision making methods when considering their presence and involvement at events – both public and private in nature.

It doesn’t matter if they organize or host the event, if a BIG NAME is in attendance and something goes wrong, they’ll be forever tied to it. Just ask TMZ’s Harvey Levin …..

When is the last time this guy did something DUMB or ill-advised in a social setting?
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Good luck finding such an incident. You’ll likely search for days and still never find any smoking guns. And, there is a very plausible reason behind striking out on any quest in finding dirt on Peyton Manning – HE KNOWS BETTER.

Peyton Manning is aware of his image, reputation and obligation to an array of different people. The list includes …..
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His Team
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His Wife
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His Business Partners
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His Family’s Name
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I’m sure you see my point – even if you disagree. But, the names go beyond Peyton Manning. I’m confident this list of guys will not be arrested, accused of criminal conduct or attending a party where another attendee is SHOT, in 2010 ….. Drew Brees, Derek Jeter, Steve Nash, Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick, Albert Pujols, Hines Ward, Tim Duncan, Jeff Gordon, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco …..

How about this ….. I can think of a list of guys who have endured legal troubles, while making some very poor choices in their respectives pasts. But, they’ve given us every reason to believe we won’t be seeing their name associated with crime and punishment, by year’s end. For me, the list starts with Ray Lewis.

It’s been a decade since Ray ran afoul of the legal system or found himself in a public meltdown of poor judgement. He’s way beyond such indiscretions – he values his reputation and image. He has plenty of company among those who’ve had troubles and overcame them, like ….. Kobe Bryant, Ricky Williams, Josh Hamilton, Kurt Busch, Bernard Hopkins, Brett Favre and Jamal Lewis.

Of course, the final group is those who’ve committed multiple transgressions. Arrested? Yes. Stupid decisions? Yes. Numerous occurences of one or both? Yes. These are the guys you’re most likely going to be hearing about during a BREAKING NEWS segment, early in the morning. This is where you’ll find Brandon Marshall, Elijah Dukes, Sidney Ponson, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Tyson, John Daly, Jeremy Mayfield, Cedric Benson, Allen Iverson, Matt Jones, Delonte West and Michael Vick.

Hey, it’s accurate.

Michael Vick may very well have intended to celebrate an innocent occasion, last Thursday. In fact, I’d be willing to bet on it. He doesn’t want to screw up – he doesn’t want to be out of a job – he doesn’t want to go back to prison. I honestly believe these things.

However, I also believe Michael Vick lacks the sensibility to dissect a proposed action or decision, while considering the ramifications of the FALLOUT if something goes wrong. That’s exactly what he should’ve done when the idea of his birthday party being held at a nightclub, and open to the general public was tabled.
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Why?

Well, there are a few reasons. Foremost, there is very little positive exposure to be gained in a nightclub environment. While nightclubs attract girls dressed in their sexiest wares, they also serve as a hotspot for people with checkered characters. Say what you will – Mike should be whoring himself to more “feel good” opportunities than President Obama, Tom Cruise and the CEO of BP, combined.

Another consideration is Michael Vick should not host, endorse or attach his likeness to ANY EVENT, unless he has direct control over it. I don’t care if a promoter really handled the party, its got the name MICHAEL VICK forever stamped to it. In the future (or in hindsight), he should celebrate his birthday with a party at home or in an establishment that can offer a respected reputation and a high degree of decorum.

If he wants to get CRAZEE and dance with some hotties, while fondling an expensive champagne bottle, he should have the party at home – and make all guests leave their cellphones at the door. Be assured, that’s what happens at Diddy’s house. And, he has much less to worry about than Mike does.

You don’t think Alex Rodriguez enjoyed the arrival of his 30th birthday? How about Ladanian Tomlinson? Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Shaq? They just make good decisions when it comes to enjoying themslves.

As we sit here today, Michael Vick has problems. He might not face any legal sanctions with his Probation Officer. But, I think that everything else is in limbo. I’d bet my HOUSE that a certain group of individuals are angry as HELL. They’ve attached themselves to Michael Vick and he has let them down. Of course, the most important one is obvious …..
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However, you can also include Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid, Tony Dungy and Arthur Blank. Each of them went to bat for him, helped him or had a HUGE part in giving him this most recent chance to make a living as a member of the National Football League.

What could they do differently, specifically ask “Michael, will you be celebrating your 30th birthday in a nightclub” ??? They should’ve expected that he would exercise better judgement. No doubt, they rightfully expected it from him.

With each passing hour, more and more details regarding the NIGHTLIFE of Michael Vick are surfacing. Welcome to the age of Twitter, Facebook and online tabloids. We now know Vick hosted parties in May, as well as April.

I wonder if dog fighting co-defendant, Quanis Phillips, attended those events. Probably not. Why did he attend this one? Well, it was held near his home. But, most importantly, he attended last Thursday’s party, because he could.

NOBODY and/or NO PLAN was in place to stop such a situation. And, if they did plan for it, they failed …. which is even worse, if you really think about it.

Thursday’s incident is a loud, distinct message to one of Michael Vick’s former endorsers, as if they have really considered resurrecting his marketability …..
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You can bet the folks in Beaverton, Oregon, are thinking one thing …. “MIKE AIN”T WORTH THE RISK.” And, if Nike is scared off, so is McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Visa and Under Armor. Like humans, corporations are known to forgive and reconcile, but they arguably take far less chances than people do.

Over the last few days, we’ve heard the typical “we will wait until all the facts are known before addressing the situation” line. It’s the SAFE thing to say …. and it may very well apply to the United States Justice Department’s role in the life of Michael Vick.

But, rest assured, NFL spokeman, Greg Aiello, was better off giving the politically correct statement, rather than saying “Roger is done with this experiment.”

As for the Eagles, did you expect them to say “Mr. Lurie is knee deep in trying to void Michael Vick’s contract.” Oh and “Jeff Garcia is visiting team headquarters, later this week.”

Perhaps, both Mr. Goodell and Mr. Lurie haven’t exercised such drastic measures. But, you can bet they’re not sitting on their hands while waiting for an outcome, either. Not a chance …..

They know what they need to know.

Michael Vick may never, EVER be involved in another incident of violence. He may never pose for another mugshot in his life.

But, he cannot be trusted to really think about a potential outcome to the hair-brained ideas of family, friends and cohorts. No doubt, he’s as spontaneously reactive to his cultural ideals as Paris Hilton is to shopping for shoes.

He’s evidently incapable of change. He is who he is …..

He just can’t be trusted to do the RIGHT thing.

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Monday's PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Monday’s PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 05 April 2010 by Chris Bonetti

Suggested Reading

SportingNews.com:  Outstanding TSN College Hoops columnist Mike DeCourcy suggests, “Don’t believe all the David-Goliath nonsense.” And you know what?  I agree, Mike.  In fact, not only will I take the Bulldogs and the 7.5 points, but I’ll pick Butler outright.  Just saying, the Monday night National Championship Game is the easiest big-time sports ticket to get your hands on.  You better believe all those West Virginia and Michigan State fans’ seats will be occupied with folks from Indy rooting for Butler.  If this game is tight with four minutes to go, it’ll be great to watch Duke’s Big 3 try to score against the stingy Bulldogs’ defense in front of a hugely pro-Butler crowd.  Butler has won 25 games in a row and hasn’t allowed any opponent in the Tournament to score more than 59 points.  If guard Shelvin Mack, who battled leg cramp issues, and center Matt Howard, who had concussion like symptoms, are ready to roll 100 percent with Gordon Hayward, Duke gets over that 60-point watermark, but it won’t be enough to prevent coach Brad Stevens’ team’s 26th straight win.

SI.com: College Basketball columnist, Andy Glockner breaks down tonight’s title tilt position by position in, “Title game matchup: Duke vs. Butler.”

NY Times: Kevin Armstrong takes a closer look at the off-court statistics of Duke and Butler in, “For Butler and Duke, a Very Public Affair.” They are the first two private schools to meet for the National Championship since Villanova-Georgetown 25 years ago.

USAToday.com: Bob Kimball dissects Tiger’s press conference from The Masters this afternoon in, “Tiger Woods speaks: Praises fans, apologizes to fellow pros on Tour”

ESPN.com: Sal Paolantonio looks back at McNabb’s career in Philadelphia in, “Eagles decide McNabb’s time is up.”

SI.com: A weekly must read, Peter King’s, “Monday Morning Quarterback: How the McNabb-to-Redskins trade impacts the rest of the NFL, draft.”

FanHouse: Kevin Blackistone unfortunately tells us about Matt James, an All American football recruit headed to Notre Dame in September, whom fell to his death while on Spring Break with friends in Panama City, FL this past weekend in, “An ‘Incredible future’ ends needlessly.”

ESPN.com:  Boxing columnist Dan Rafael says, “It’s time for Hopkins and Jones to retire,” after their bout this weekend in Las Vegas, won by Bernard Hopkins via unanimous decision.

Video of the Day

There’s been a lot of talk about DaSean Butler’s knee injury and its aftermath Saturday night with Bob Huggins consoling his senior, whom turned out to have a torn ACL and sprained MCL.  An odd sight sure… but a definite true sign of a coach’s compassion for his player.  I loved it; thought it was great.  However, I do have a HUGE problem with something.  The way Butler was carried from the floor was utterly UNACCEPTABLE!  How can a team physician and training staff not immobilize the knee in any way and allow two other players to carry their teammate of the floor with his leg just dangling, knocking against the ground with every step.  Jeez, further damage can be done so easily in that situation.  Unreal.

Tweets of the Day

The President of the United States, Barack Obama – BarackObama

Opening the 2010 baseball season with the first pitch at Nationals Park today.

The Trips Tab at WNST.net – WNST

News: Capitals Playoff Puck Bus now on sale via TRIPS tab: Join the WNST “Rock The Red” Baltimore crew for an “all… http://bit.ly/bBMlhb

The Trips Tab at WNST.net – WNST

News: Yankee Stadium bustrip for Wednesday, May 5 matinee now onsale: Miller Lite presents another WNST Orange Roa… http://bit.ly/dDqKYD

ESPN MLB Columnist, Jayson Stark – jaysonst

Nationals haven’t allowed 11 R on Opening Day since . . . well, last year . . . when they gave up 12 to Florida. Quite a tradition.

SI MLB Insider, Jon Heyman – SI_JonHeyman

just asked lasorda in lunchroom why padilla started today. “i dont know. you know how many people asked me that question?”

New York Times College Basketball Columnist, Pete Thamel – PeteThamelNYT

Just talked to a Butler official who said that the players went to their 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. classes today. Back for 12:30 film.

WNST NFL Correspondent, Chris Pika – BlogAndTackle

Butler-Duke tonight would be a game I’d like to see Jim Nantz lose his voice, and CBS go to the bullpen for Gus Johnson.

FoxSports.com College Basketball Columnist, Jeff Goodman – goodmanonfox

Fran Fraschilla, according to sources close to the situation, has withdrawn from the Iona opening.

SI.com NFL Columnist, Peter King – SI_PeterKing

I like the trade. Helps both teams. Lets Reid move on with kid he thinks could be ARodgers. Gives Shanny top-12 QB to play aerial game.

Former Ravens, Browns Scout and friend of WNST, Daniel Jeremiah – MoveTheSticks

Theory for the Eagles must be to let Kolb and the other young skill guys grow up together. That way they hit their prime at the same time

ESPN NFL Insider, Chris Pika – Adam_Schefter

McNabb has 3rd-highest winning percentage among active quarterbacks (83-45-1, .647) behind Manning (119-59, .669) and Brady (88-25, .779).

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