Tag Archive | "Michael Vick"

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Blog & Tackle: SI’s look at Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith

Posted on 20 February 2011 by Chris Pika

As the deadline for the expiration of the CBA between the NFL and the NFLPA gets closer, Sports Illustrated took a look at the two people who are at the head of the negotiations, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

The league and NFLPA are in uncharted waters with Goodell and Smith at the helms for this negotiation. At some point an agreement will be reached. The how and the how long are the unknowns. So, it is appropriate to pull back the curtain on the two men who are the faces and driving forces for their respective sides.

SI and SI.com’s Peter King wrote the personality piece on Goodell, “The Man of the Hour” for the Feb. 7 edition, and some parts are worth noting as the two sides try to reach an agreement.

First is on his relationship with his employers, the 32 NFL owners.

Goodell will have trusted lawyers and owners by his side during the negotiations, but make no mistake: This will be a deal the commissioner drives, in meetings both with the NFL Players Association and its head, DeMaurice Smith, and with leaders of the 32 franchises. One ownership source says Goodell’s level of trust among the owners is so high that if he recommends an agreement that passes muster with the players, it will easily get the three-quarters vote (24 of 32 teams) necessary for passage.

One thing Goodell has proven in private is that he will staunchly defend the “shield” as he calls it. Michael Vick ran afoul of it with his dogfighting activities, and learned first-hand.

But the commissioner has a cold and confrontational side that serves him well in staring down miscreants and business adversaries alike. “The way Roger talked to me when I was still hiding from what I’d done was such a slap in the face,” says Michael Vick. “Like, ‘Don’t you lie to me!” With stronger language than that. It was rough.”

Goodell was also key in the negotiations with the city of Cleveland to get a new stadium and an expansion franchise in 1996 that would take over the old Browns colors and records after the original Browns franchise moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens.

“There would not have been a deal without Roger,” says Cleveland’s chief negotiator Fred Nance. “No way. He came into a city under siege and was hard-nosed and stubborn. But he was sensitive to figuring out what we had to have to make a deal, and how much he could compromise knowing he had the owners to answer to whatever he did.”

Goodell and Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Dick Ebersol are good friends, and the league and network are business partners, but this exchange shows where Goodell draws the line, and what the negotiations between the league and the players’ association might be like.

Now, fast-forward to the 2009 negotiations between the NFL and NBC over extending the network’s broadcast contract for 2012 and ’13. The NFL, according to Ebersol, insisted on a rights fee of $600 million a year, though NBC wasn’t getting a Super Bowl in either of those seasons. Ebersol and Goodell had a few back-and-forth discussions, and Goodell finally said the NFL wouldn’t take a dime less than $600 million.

“There was a coldness and a ‘that’s it’ tone in Roger’s voice that was chilling,” says Ebersol. “At his heart Roger can be a cold son of a bitch. I think the people on the other side of the negotiating table are going to hear that in the coming months. He’s going to show mettle, and he’s going to do what he thinks is best for the National Football League. It’s what he’s always done.”

On the other side of the table is Smith, who was profiled by SI’s Jim Trotter in “The Fighter” for the Feb. 21 issue.

When Smith took over the reins of the NFLPA, he was replacing a legendary and dominant figure in Gene Upshaw, who passed away in 2008. Smith had plenty of Upshaw’s observations and notes to work from as he prepares to negotiate with the NFL.

Smith reaches into his papers and pulls out a program from a 1991 union meeting. Former executive director Gene Upshaw, preparing to speak to player reps, wrote some introductory remarks in cursive on the back of the program. Smith begins reading to himself, then stops halfway through and recites: The owners will always take short-term loss for long-term gain.

Upshaw governed the NFLPA as a lone figure, but Smith’s style is more inclusive, trying to give the players a larger voice in the direction the PA will take in the coming weeks.

Smith doesn’t believe in secrecy. Before his election he told players he wanted them to take more control of their careers and their futures, and that if they were unwilling to educate themselves and be more involved in the process, he wasn’t the man to lead them. The other candidates included Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong, two former players who’d served as union presidents, and a prominent lawyer, David Cornwell, who once worked in the league office. Smith was elected by a vote of 32-0.

His negotiating style is framed by a current player representative.

As much as Smith relishes a fight, he also knows he’ll have to make concessions to strike a deal. He has presented the league with a proposal for a rookie wage scale and made a counteroffer regarding the league’s proposal to reduce the players’ share of revenues. “De is a very intense guy, but he’s also a realist,” says All-Pro center Jeff Saturday, the Colts’ player-representative. “He’s not just a hype man. He’s telling you there are going to be things we’re going to have to compromise on, and here’s why. You have to be up front and honest. Not everything is going to go the players’ way. He’s done a good job of balancing that, so the guys understand that we’re in this to get this thing finished and to get a new agreement in place.”

Where the NFLPA has been effective is that unlike Upshaw, Smith isn’t afraid to prod the NFL’s power players. Earlier in Trotter’s story, Smith references the term “3-D chess” to describe the intricate game between the owners and players. Here is an example of one “chess” move.

One of the ways Smith tries to determine the power players in the league is by “poking the elephant” to see the reaction he’ll get. He has filed multiple legal challenges, including a complaint that the NFL left money on the table in its TV contract extensions in exchange for guarantees that the owners would be paid in 2011. (The special master in the case ruled that the league would have to compensate the players but did not nullify the agreements; the NFLPA is appealing that decision.) Smith has also charged the owners with colluding to limit player movement and earnings during the 2010 free-agency period. (That complaint is pending.)

And another “elephant-poking” move on Smith’s board:

Consider the collusion case. When the union leaked word that it would be filing suit, Smith received a call from Goodell urging him not to go forward. At that point Smith asked if the owners would make certain concessions during the lockout if he dropped the claim. Goodell asked for 30 days to consult the owners. Eventually he came back and said there would be no concessions. Those close to Smith say the endgame was not necessarily to get the concessions but to determine whether Goodell had the influence to get the owners to budge.

In both articles there are stories about Goodell’s and Smith’s upbringings, and how particular incidents in their lives shaped how they see the world today. The two men are not dissimilar in makeup, but both will have to work hard to find common ground.

They don’t have the close personal relationship at this point that their predecessors, Upshaw and Tagliabue, had. But both seem to have the strength to shut out the rhetoric that each side has to spew in labor negotiations, find a way to get things their side needs, and most importantly, allow the other side to save face when the deal is done.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Josh Portis

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A mistake on a pop quiz nearly ended former MD QB Josh Portis’ football career-now with a fresh start wants to finish this NFL test the right way

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Josh Portis

Josh Portis has traveled far and wide in his football playing days.

The Woodland Hills, California native was once one of the most highly touted, dual-threat prep quarterbacks in the nation, and appeared to be well on his way toward building up a decent pro resume in the NFL playing for the University of Florida and the Maryland Terrapins.

That was until his Division-I college career was derailed by coaching changes, transfers, and some bad decisions on his part.

Ultimately starting over though for Portis, while it may have appeared  to end his chances at making the NFL, it turned out to be a good decision on his part.

Portis joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” this week to share his enthusiasm for being invited to next week’s NFL Rookie Combine in Indianapolis on July 24th.

“It’s great to work out with the best competition, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Portis told Forrester. “I’m excited, anxious, and I’m looking forward to playing in the NFL on Sunday.”

Portis-whose cousin, Clinton, is an All-Pro running back in the NFL having played for the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins- saw his career as a Gator fall apart due to the presence of one Tim Tebow in Gainesville, forcing a transfer to College Park as he became a Maryland Terp for three seasons.

But Portis saw the same problem occur at Maryland as he did at Florida, where he could not break the depth chart in 2008 due to Chris Turner stepping up as the starter for the Terps.

This was after missing all of 2006 sitting out because of the transfer to Maryland. And in 2007, things seemed to get even worse for Portis, as a small but dumb decision on his part at the time may have cost him at chances at playing football for good.

Portis was caught cheating on a pop quiz while enrolled at College Park, and ultimately suspended for the year for violating the school’s Honor Code policy.

“Everyone knows about it. At Maryland, when I was there, it was a ten-point pop quiz. I made a mistake, and happened to copy someone else’s answer. Everybody moves on, but the school decided to suspend me for the whole year, but not the NCAA.”

With a ten point quiz, everyone makes a mistake. Something major happened to me on my part, and I moved on from it.”

And he expects the NFL scouts at the Combine will also ask him about his mistakes at Maryland the same way Forrester asked him about it on “The Morning Reaction.”

And Portis knows that he has to face it head-on the same way he would face an opposing defensive lineman barreling down on him.

“I feel like if you’re just open and honest about off the field things, it will take care of itself,” Portis said.

And so far, since his departure from Maryland, he has been forthright about what happened. But in order to make the NFL, you have to prove that you can play football too.

But most schools wouldn’t take a flier on a guy jettisoned from two Division-I programs, let alone one that barely played. So instead, Portis had to eat “humble pie” and and try and make an impression on NFL scouts at the Division-II level.

Which is what he did.

Portis was ultimately  invited to the NFL Combine mostly because of his play for the two seasons at the University of California in Pennsylvania, a Division-II program.

In those two years as a Vulcan, he had 69 passing touchdowns, a Cal U record. His 6,072 career passing yards were good for fourth best in school history.

He becomes the first ever player from the school to be invited to the biggest step in the process of becoming an NFL player.

Portis was actually eligible to come out for the NFL Draft after his first season as a Vulcan, but stayed on for a second year to boost his draft status.

Doing so helped become  ranked as the second-best Division-II quarterback prospect trying to make an NFL squad.

“It’s been a journey,” Portis said. I went to Florida, Maryland, now I’m at Cal U. It’s been a difficult road, but I’m finally here. God has given me perseverance, and I continue to work hard and continue to live my dream.”

In reality, Portis said the competition was challenging at that “subdivision” of college football, and while it definitely wasn’t like playing in the ACC or the SEC, it still tested his skills.

“The competition obviously at the D-II level is a little bit lower,” Portis said.  ” The atmosphere may not be as big, but D-II is still some pretty good competition.”

And even before his invitation to next week’s NFL combine, he has already had his NFL-cousin, Clinton Portis, giving him advice on how best to direct his preparation toward making an NFL squad.

“I mean you guys have been around him when he was with Washington, you know he’s a straight forward guy,” Josh said of Clinton Portis. “You know, he definitely doesn’t play around with giving me advice. He’s just been telling me to stick it out and keep working, that my time will come. He’s been a great addition and help to me as I develop my career.”

Josh Portis said he hopes to have as long an NFL career as his cousin.

“Obviously he’s given me some confidence because he’s been at that level of play in the NFL for a long time..that level for a long time with the Redskins and the Broncos. He’s been there for nine years as a running back which is pretty good. He knows how to take care of his body how to be mentally prepared, and how to go out and get the job done on Sunday.”

Portis recently participated in the former NFL PA game, now known as the “Texas versus the Nation” game on February 5th showing off some of the NFL’s eventual rookie class prospects.

Portis was 7-of-17 for 80 yards, helping the Texas team beat the Nation, 13-7.

In the game, he got a lot of comparisons based on his play and physical attributes.

“Players were telling me, “Oh, you’re like another Mike Vick. Big, fast, strong arm, move out of the pocket, pocket awareness…but I want to be a quarterback who sits in the pocket for a little awhile and run when I need to. So I kind of see myself as a Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick late in his career.

“I’m like a Tom Brady and a Vince Young. The kind of QB who moves around and throws the ball first…Aaron Rodgers is another late in his career and he has won a Super Bowl. He’s not really an actual athletic quarterback, but he has some mobility around the pocket so he can make some throws.”

But maybe Portis’ biggest asset so far other than his physical skills?

His perseverance to keep going and rebounding after making some dumb decisions in his life.

“I mean, just not giving up on your dreams, keep working hard…God has a role for you at the end of the day. You just have to believe in him and you have to work and strive for your success.”

Glenn Clark will check Josh Portis out next week at the NFL Combine! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

And continue to follow all of Josh’s exploits at his website!

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Overcoming a trainwreck weekend and starting anew …..

Posted on 17 January 2011 by Rex Snider

I cannot recall the last time I greeted a Monday with such enthusiasm. Like nearly every other sane person, I usually kick and scream my way into accepting the reality of another work week.

But, today is quite different. I just want to get started – on putting this past weekend and its disastrous chain of moments and events behind me. Indeed, this is the official beginning of my NEW YEAR …..

It doesn’t mean I won’t agonize, at times, over the Ravens loss in Saturday’s divisional playoff game with the Steelers. Heck, I will never forget it. But, as Ray Lewis said “you can only get better, that’s all you can do”; so, I’m inspired not to dwell on this defeat, either.

We’re always going to complain about officiating. And, Saturday’s holding penalty that negated Lardarius Webb’s returned punt for a touchdown represents an official’s ability to impact a game with poor decisions. That said, every team suffers a fair share of questionable penalties.

The game wasn’t lost on the Webb play, nor Anquan Boldin’s dropped touchdown pass, or T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s failure to extend the Ravens final drive. All three of these plays could’ve led to a win, but they certainly don’t define the loss, itself.

Everybody knows how the game was lost – TURNOVERS.

Surrendering the ball inside your own 25 yard line, on three consecutive possessions will likely seal one’s fate, right? Well, it will at least surrender a two touchdown lead.

Good teams can and will make such mistakes. Great teams, however, usually capitalize upon such blunders. Today, that’s really the essence of how the most disappointing loss in Ravens history can be summed up. The Ravens cracked the door, and the Steelers kicked it in …..

Today is not just a new beginning for me. It also marks the first day of the next chapter for the Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. All of these franchises can and will make changes – you can bet on that.

Here, in Baltimore, the popular consensus is Cam Cameron will be the greatest casualty of this past season’s fallout. Whether it’s the questionable play calling, sporadic offensive production or unrealized potentials, the artist of the offensive schemes is the rumored soul to be paying with his job.

However, I will offer up an additional “mitigating” reason for making a change at offensive coordinator. Perhaps, we’re confronting a potential crossroads with Joe Flacco and his command of an offense. With three seasons completely in the books, a fair argument exists with this quarterback …..

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Ravens play a prime part in very “hairy” NFL weekend …..

Posted on 10 January 2011 by Rex Snider

If you look back on the totality of this past weekend’s games, I think it’s pretty easy to detect the obvious: every round of the NFL playoffs will present some unpredictable circumstances, as well as some very quirky results …..

Many of us thought 3 of 4 visiting teams would win their respective matchups. But, did we think the New Orleans Saints, as the most resounding favorite (-10.5 points) in NFL history, would be the sole “road loser?”

If I presented the following circumstances: the Indianapolis Colts are losing by one point, they’re driving inside the Jets 30 yard line with less than one minute remaining …. would you predict a Manning win or loss?

If you knew 2 running backs would rush for 100+ yards, and the weekend’s matchups featured names like Ray Rice, Joseph Addai, LaSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and LaDanian Tomlinson, would you ever imagine that Marshawn Lynch and James Starks would be those guys?

A pretty telling factor …. Michael Vick’s last win was the week before Christmas, when he was being mentioned in the same breath with Tom Brady, for NFL MVP honors.

Does the respective, opposing defense matter? Well …. the Philadelphia Eagles averaged 28 points, per game, during the regular season and the Seattle Seahawks averaged just 19 points, per contest. Which team is still alive?

After a steady December of witnessing snowy, icy games across the midwest and northeast, the first two weeks of January have not been impacted by inclement weather, at all.

Did you ever imagine Joe Flacco and Dan Marino would be mentioned in the same sentence? That’s right, they’re the only quarterbacks to win 36 games in their first 3 seasons. With a win in Pittsburgh, Flacco will stand alone on this record.

Ten years ago, Brandon Stokley caught a touchdown pass in the Ravens Super Bowl victory. Did any of us think he would catch another touchdown, a decade later? He did it Saturday – in Seattle’s win.
Speaking of touchdown receptions …. Anquan Boldin went more than a month (5 weeks) without one. The troubling streak ended yesterday – let’s hope he can have two consecutive games with TD catches for the first time since October 17th and 24th.

With this weekend’s wins by the Ravens and Jets, both AFC wildcard teams advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs, in consecutive seasons, for the first time (2010 & 2011).

Yesterday’s win also yielded John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco as the only HEAD COACH and QUARTERBACK to win playoff games in their first 3 NFL seasons.

On Saturday, the Seattle Seahawks won their 8th game of the season. Their opponent, the New Orleans Saints, won their 8th game of the season, a mere 44 days earlier …. on Thanksgiving Day !!!!

Speaking of those Seahawks, it will be impossible for them to finish with a winning record, UNLESS they win the Super Bowl. That’s correct, if they lose the Super Bowl, they’ll finish the season 10-10 overall.

And finally …..

On a weekend when Matt Ryan debuts as one of Gillette’s new “clean shaven” models, Joe Flacco grew a beard. Who says Joe doesn’t want to be different?

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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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St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols receives high fives in the dugout following his three run home run in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 4, 2010.   UPI/BIll Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

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Athlete of the Year – 2010

Posted on 28 December 2010 by Rex Snider

Let me start this off by wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I really hope 2011 turns out to be a year full of good health and renewed prosperity for all of Baltimore, and beyond.

I’ve created three ATHLETE OF THE YEAR lists during my time at WNST, and each year I think my overall interpretation of what comprises the model athlete is further enhanced. As for this year’s list, it’s a bit different than the first couple editions …..

This list is dominated by REDEMPTION and CHARACTER. My choice for “Athlete of The Year” enjoyed a stellar statistical season, and he was part of a championship team. Yet, five years ago, nobody would’ve imagined either for him.

Here’s my list of the TOP 25 of 2010 …..

25) Albert Pujols

St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols receives high fives in the dugout following his three run home run in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 4, 2010.   UPI/BIll Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

24) Henrik Sedin

VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 26: Henrik Sedin  of the Vancouver Canucks takes part in the pre-game skate prior to NHL action against the Colorado Avalanche on October 26, 2010 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

23) Monta Ellis

22) Landon Donovan

SOCCER/FUTBOL WORLD CUP 2010 USA VS ARGELIA Action photo of Landon Donovan (R) of USA celebrating a goal, during World Cup 2010 game held at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium of Pretoria, South Africa./Foto de accion de Landon Donovan (D) de Estados Unidos celebtando un gol, durante juego de la Copa del Mundo 2010 celebrado en el estadio Loftus Versfeld de Pretoria, Sudafrica. 23 June 2010 MEXSPORT/OSVALDO AGUILAR Photo via Newscom

21) Phil Mickelson

LEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 09: Phil Mickelson looks on from the second hole during the first round of the BMW Championship at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club on September 9, 2010 in Lemont, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

20) Zenyatta

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 06: Zenyatta, ridden by Mike Smith, crosses the finish line in the Classic during the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on November 6, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

19) Alex Ovechkin

LAS VEGAS - JUNE 22: NHL MVP candidate Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is interviewed by the media at the Palms Casino Resort on June 22, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

18) Clay Matthews

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 13: Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a sack against Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 13, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

17) Calvin Johnson

DENVER - AUGUST 21: Wide receiver Calvin Johnson  of the Detroit Lions prepares to face the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 25-20. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

16) Kevin Durant

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant tries to steal the ball from Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant during the Lakers' 103-98 victory over the Thunder Tuesday at Staples Center...///ADDITIONAL INFO: lakers.0211.kjs5.jpg --- Photo by Kevin Sullivan, The Orange County Register -- 2/10/09..Tuesday February 10, 2009 Photo via Newscom

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PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Troy Polamalu  of the Pittsburgh Steelers intercepts a pass from Carson Palmer  of the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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Sunday’s NFL action provides a clear message; Ravens are still a top team

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, I’m imagining most of us spent yesterday afternoon partaking in some similar Sunday rituals; gauging the competition around the National Football League, and collectively hoping the Cincinnati Bengals might find a way to upset our nemesis up in Pittsburgh.

In totality, the day offered some pretty daunting realities, both on and off the playing field …..

– Having a “trash bag” roof eventually proves to be a bad idea …..

– Tom Brady’s game is just as good on snow tires …..

– Rex Ryan’s Jets really are the NFL’s equivalent of the pro rasslin’ product …..

– While his comeback is pretty impressive, Mike Vick is NOT Tom Brady …..

– Brett Favre evidently owns a pretty sharp razor knife, and access to the dome’s roof …..

Indeed, yesterday was no ordinary Sunday around the NFL. The slate of games was less than impressive, as a large bulk of the contests were nothing more than mismatches. But, weather and interference by off-field personnel really provided some drama to what many of us perceived to be a day full of bad football.

Maybe, I’m being too harsh …..

Instances of occasional “bad football” at the pro level are generally a seldom-seen phenomenon, right? Of course, yesterday provided a few glaring examples of horrendous execution by teams vying for playoff position, as well as those playing out the string …..

– Graham Gano may very well find himself joining Jeff Reed in the unemployment line after missing an extra point and chip shot field goal, in the Redskins embarrassing loss against the Buccaneers …..

– Brodie Croyle and the Kansas City Chiefs mustered just 67 yards in total offense, while being shutout, 31-0, by the San Diego Chargers in a prime AFC-West showdown …..

– Mark Sanchez looked very much like the rookie from last season and the “clown” from HBO’s Hard Knocks, in the Jets second straight loss, which now tasks Gang-Green with trying to stem a late season collapse – on the road, in Pittsburgh, next week …..

– And, of course, speaking of the Steelers …. we must cite the “steaming stinker” Carson Palmer left on the newly sodded turf, at Heinz Field. Yesterday’s line for Palmer: 20 for 32, 178 yards & 2 touchdowns.

Not horrible, huh? Oh yeah, that’s right, those touchdown passes were both tossed into the waiting arms of Steelers defenders …..

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Troy Polamalu  of the Pittsburgh Steelers intercepts a pass from Carson Palmer  of the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Any chance of witnessing a ‘Bungals upset of the Steelers was lost amid predictable breakdowns and missed assignments. Welcome to the 2010 edition of the “Great Cincinnati Disaster”. While they punished Ben Roethlisberger early in the game and even broke out to a quick lead, the ‘Bungals looked very much like a certain black and orange baseball product.

Cincinnati’s string of consecutive losses now stands at TEN AND COUNTING. Given the knuckleheads on that roster, it might be a good idea for the networks to consider slotting this 2-11 team into a nationally televised contest or two.

Say what you will, I’ve got a feeling the ‘Bungals have a “meltdown moment”; a behemoth mutinous catastrophe on the field and I don’t wanna miss it !!!!

In summing up everything observed in yesterday’s NFL action, I’m developing some pretty distinct conclusions:

We are going to see one of the season-long contenders go down in bursting flames over the final few weeks of the regular season …..

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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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Philadelphia Eagles

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Vick shines in DC: Can’t Dog Him Now

Posted on 16 November 2010 by Drew Forrester

So that’s what it looks like to have your offense do some damage on the road in the first half?

Well, it was impressive to say the least.

Michael Vick guided the Eagles to an early 35-0 lead in Washington last night as the visitors cruised to a 59-28 beatdown of the Redskins. Along the way, Vick tortured the ‘Skins in virtually every way imaginable, using his arms, legs and athleticism to churn out 6 touchdowns on the night. He became the first QB in league history to throw for 300 yards, run for 300 yards, throw 4 TD’s and run for 2 TD’s in the same game.

It was an epic performance.

Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Michael Vick walks off the field after they defeated the Washington Redskins in their NFL football game in Landover, Maryland November 15, 2010.      REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Some would even say it was “electric”, but there are too many puns we could attach to that one, so I’ll leave it alone.

One thing for certain: The Eagles, with a healthy Vick at the helm, are a legitimate threat in the NFC.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09:  Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Atlanta Falcons looks to congratulate Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings after Petrino

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I’m rooting for the Falcons, but not tonight …..

Posted on 11 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Tonight’s game between the Ravens and Falcons is being billed as a matchup of two very similar teams, with characteristics and qualities mirroring each other. And, for the most part, I understand the comparisons …..

Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan spawned from the same draft class and they’ve assumed starting duties, since day one.

John Harbaugh and Mike Smith ascended into their head coaching roles at the same time, as well. And, they’ve experienced early success.

Ray Rice and Michael Turner have developed into a couple of the NFL’s best running backs.

Both teams have achieved regular season records of 26 wins and 14 losses, since the Harbaugh/Flacco and Smith/Ryan tandems joined ranks.

The comparisons really are aplenty.

That said, I think it’s quite fair to suggest one team has overcome much more adversity and dysfunction, as they’ve climbed back to respectability.

To be blunt, it’s not even close …..

When Brian Billick left the Baltimore Ravens, he left a solid, organized, respectable franchise in his wake. The Ravens were a better team, thanks to his nine years of commitment. While the 2007 season was dismal, the organization was still foundationally strong.

However, the same flattering description cannot be attributed to the Atlanta Falcons …..

As we all know, the Falcons were a dysfunctional mess as the world celebrated the New Years holiday, in 2008. Their head coach deserted them, much like a call girl leaves her john behind …..

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09:  Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Atlanta Falcons looks to congratulate Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings after Petrino's NFL head coaching debut as the Vikings defeated the Falcons 24-3 at the Metrodome on September 9, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Their franchise quarterback was no longer the “franchise quarterback,” and the team was horrible, as it finished up with a 3-13 season.

As Michael Vick was settling into prison life, Bobby Petrino was familiarizing himself with the University of Arkansas …. and the Falcons were limping to close out a horrid 2007 campaign.

Say what you want, that organization didn’t deserve such an obstructed road of hardship and anguish.

It was beyond bad luck. It was wrong …..

In Baltimore, we’re spoiled by the riches of a football franchise built on stable management and in-depth personnel – on and off the field.

In Atlanta, just three short years ago, the Falcons faced the potential of unraveling into an era of disaster. They faced the uncertainty of finding the right general manager, head coach and quarterback to reverse the team’s wrong direction.

Enter Thomas Dimitroff …..

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