BACK IN THE BOX! Returned last season as the host of "the Penalty Box", the post game call in show for Rochester Americans broadcasts on Sports 1280 WHTK, as well as studio host for game broadcasts and intermission updates. Looking forward to starting a second straight season this upcoming year.
Weekend morning newscaster on WHAM.
Sometime fill in host for Bob Matthews or John DiTullio, as well as hosting call-in shows during Yankees and Red Wings rain delays.
Graduated from West Irondequoit high school (in 1984) where I was the sports director at the student run radio station, WIRQ, as well as the "voice of the Indians" football and basketball radio broadcasts.
Graduated with a B.A. degree from Florida Southern College (in1988). Announced FSC basketball games on local cable TV. Also announced local high school football games on local cable TV.
Have worked for WBBF-AM, WPXY-AM, Sportsradio 990, and then moved on to Clear Channel in 1997, where I have worked for WHAM and WHTK since as a board operator, producer, newscaster, traffic reporter, weatherman and sports host, as well as all-around good guy.
I am also psyched to be back on the air hosting "the Penalty Box", the post game call in show for the Rochester Americans radio broadcasts on 107--3 FM and 1280 AM.
I recently also started reading newscasts on Newsradio 1180, WHAM. It is a good opportunity for me, although I never saw myself as a "news guy". I am still enjoying the opportunity.
I got wrapped up watching the latest ESPN 30 for 30 documentary special over the weekend about the anniversary of the 1983 run to the national championship for Jim Valvano's NC State Wolfpack.
It was excellent, as most of them are. I'll tell you, for all the self-egrandizing ESPN does, they have a reason for a lot of it. They are good. Those 30 for 30 specials are almost always very enlightening, entertaining and often emotional. This latest edition is definitely that.
The show went over the improbable run that NC State went on that year on their way to the title. They had half a dozen former players on that team remininiscing with each other about the game. It was the main contributors too, not some unknown bench players. Derek Whittenburg, Sidney Lowe, Thurl Bailey and Lorenzo Charles all took part.
Intertwining with that, the footage and the on the court story, was the sad and emotional part about Jim Valvano finding out he had cancer, his battle with it, his famous speech and ultimate death. It was very emotional, and the producers and writers did a great job. I highly recommend checking it out if you didn't see it. It will tug at your heartstrings and give you a full appreciation for what NC State accomplished.
The other thing it did, was get me thinking about where that team's exploits rank on my personal list of the top upsets of all time in sports.
Upsets are what make sports, let's face it. If it weren't for upsets, why would we have the teams even play the games? The favorites would win every time and we could all just move on. No, upsets...HUGE upsets, are what make sports truly worthwhile. They give us hope, that even if the rest of our lives are going in the crapper, that you can get a boost from your team upsetting a heavily favored team, especially if it is for a championship. The emotions, the thrill of a huge upset is hard to explain. It's an endorphine rush, a high that is hard to equal.
Anyways, here are the games or series that I felt did that more than any others:
10. Duke beats UNLV in NCAA Championship game in 1991.
UNLV's Running Rebels were a juggernaut. They had beaten Duke in the 1990 title game by 30, and were probably even stronger in 1991, led by Larry Johnson, Anderson Hunt and Stacy Augmon. Most people just wondered if Duke could keep it closer than 30 but they ended up beating the Rebs 79-77.
. 1969 NY Mets over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles were dominant that year with a 109-53 record. The Mets were in their 8th year in existance. The Mets won the series 4 games to 1.
8. James Braddock over Max Baer for the heavyweight title.
Anyone who saw the movie "Cinderella Man" knows why this is on my list. Baer was the flashy heavyweight champ who people were afraid would actually KILL Braddock in the ring. Braddock was a non-descript journeyman fighter who went from dockworker to heavyweight champ when he upset Baer.
7. Jack Nicklaus wins the 1986 Masters at age 46
Nicklaus was possibly the best and most dominant golfer in history, so many would say any of his victories should never be on an upset list, but this has to be. By 1986, Nicklaus was basically retired, only playing in certain majors and taking it easy. It was not a consideration that he may be in contention at that point, yet going into Sunday, the Golden Bear was 2 under par, 4 shots behind 3 of the most dominant players of the day, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman. Nicklaus fired a 7 under par final round 65 to win over a star studded leader board.
6. Chaminade knocks off number one Virginia in 82-83
Back in that era, seven footer Ralph Sampson had Virginia at the top of the college basketball world. Because they never won anything, people forget that now, but back then, the Cavaliers were dominant because of Sampson, the Lew Alcindor of the time. The Cavaliers were ranked #1 and expected to go unbeaten and win the championship by many experts in the 82-83 season, but were upset in a pre-season tourney hosted by Chaminade college of Hawaii, a division two team.
5. Villavova knocks off Georgetown in 1985 NCAA championship game.
Rollie Massamino's guys were not even supposed to be on the same floor as the Hoyas, in Patrick Ewing's senior season. The Hoyas also had Reggie Williams, Bill Martin, Michael Jackson and David Wingate, while the Wildcats best player was Ed Pinckney. It seemed like a total mismatch, but no one counted on Villanova shooting over 75% for the game (22-28).
4. NC State beats University of Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma
Not only was this as shocking as Villanova's win over Georgetown two years later, but it was the way this team got there that puts it ahead. Thanks to a broken foot to star guard Derek Whittenburg early in the season, the Wolfpack struggled while he was out of the lineup. By the time he came back, NC State had to win the ACC tournament to even get into the big dance. They were behind in most games, but won all of them, including upsetting top ranked Virginia on the way to the ACC title.
In the tourney, the Pack were behind numerous times late in games and somehow kept pulling out wins. In the title game, they matched up against a dominant Houston Cougars team with Akeem (not Hakeem yet) Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Larry Michaux and Benny Anders. NC State finished off the improbable run with a two point victory on a last second Lorenzo Charles tip in of a Whittenburg shot.
3. Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson for the heavyweight title.
Mike Tyson was the baddest man on the planet on January 11th in 1990 when he took on a no-name club fighter named Buster Douglas in Tokyo, Japan. It was supposed to be such a one sided affair that the fight wasn't on television in the US, and in fact, I don't think it was even on pay-per-view. When Douglas knocked Tyson down and out to end the fight, most fans heard about it second hand through word of mouth. Most of us can remember where we were when we heard the amzing news, like the Kennedy assassination or the Reagan shooting. It was the end of the dominance for Tyson, who really never recaptured his glory before Buster.
2. The New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III
At the time, the Colts were somewhere around 17 point favorites against the Jets. It didn't matter that the Jets were led by Joe Namath and that he had issued a proclamation of victory. Most fans just laughed back then. For many fans, a Jets win would be like the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL beating the New York Giants in the 1986 Super Bowl or the Philadelphia Bell or Florida Blazers of the WFL beating the Steelers for the 1975 Super Bowl. Somehow the Jets pulled off the upset, legitimizing the AFL and making the NFL what it is today.
1. The 1980 US "Miracle on Ice" triumph over the Soviets to win Oplympic Cold.
I hate the way this story is always purveyed, as team USA didn't beat the USSR to win the Olympics. They had to beat Finland in the gold medal game, but beating the Russians in the semi-finals was a much bigger deal. Having a collection of basically college all-star hockey players from the US beat the best team of professionals in the world. At the time, I remember hearing experts saying it would be the equivalent of a high school football all-star team beating the Pittsburge Steelers.
As a 13 year old, I remember everything about that Olympic run. I remember the Bill Baker goal with seconds left to tie Sweden at 2 in the first game. I remember the shocking win over the Czechs ( I think it was 7-3 or 7-4), and the win over the Germans (I seem to remember 5-1) in the prelims. I remember the game against the Soviets being on a Friday at around 3 or 4pm Eastern time. The game was being tape delayed until prime time that night, and announcers son the local 6 o'clock news aying "if you don't want to know what happened, turn your volume down now".
Even though (because of all that) I knew what happened when I actually watched the game, it didn't hamper my enjoyment of it. The sheer magnitude of the upset, combined with the nationalistic fervor and I don't think another sporting upset could ever surpass that feeling, that moment.
THAT is probably the true measure of a great sports upset. Maybe something like that will happen in this years NCAA tournament. We can only hope.
I have to admit, I am obsessed by the NFL free agent frenzy this year. I am not sure why this year is different than most years, but it is definitely the case. Actually, I think I know why it is different, now that I think of it. For the first year, I have the NFL network on my cable system. That, combined with the fact that other than Wednesday night's Amerks game, I have really not had to do anything at work.
The NFL network does a great job at what it does, which is-- everything about the world's most popular league, the NFL. They cover the free agent market frenzy over the last few days and also talk a lot about the upcoming NFL draft and how free agency figures in to team's draft decisions.
As for the Buffalo Bills, what I have learned is that on the first day of this new NFL "yearly season", they lost their starting quarterback, as Ryan Fitzpatrick was sent packing after he declined an offer to restructure his contract.
If that is really the case, then good luck Ryan, and good riddance. Fitzpatrick obviously feels he is much better than he really is, and deserves to be an NFL starting quarterback somewhere. Good luck, Mr Harvard graduate! If there is one thing that has been proven over the last three years, it's that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent NFL backup, but way over his head leading an NFL team. A 19-34 record as a starter will do that for you.
Anyways, the second day I learned the Bills signed Manny Lawson, an inside linebacker who played with the Bengals last year. NFL network says it was a good signing that addressed Buffalo's needs but didn't break the bank. Lawson signed a three year deal worth $12 million dollars--a decent price in today's NFL. He had 47 tackles and 2 sacks last year in Cincinnati, ten games as a starter. Lawson has good size at 6-5 and 240 pounds, but that size is more suited to being an outside iinebacker in a 4-3 scheme, which the Bills used last year.
Basically, Lawson replaces Nick Barnett, who was allowed to leave as a free agent. Now the Bills still need to find a middle linebacker. Brian Urlacher is still out there, but I doubt the Bills go after him. I Still think the Bills go that way with the 8th pick in the draft. I DON'T think they will pick a quarterback with that pick. From what I have heard after Geno Smith's pro day yesterday, he will be taken before the Bills pick. Which is fine, because it would be very tempting for Buffalo to take him if he is out there at number eight, which I don't think they really want to do.
I still think the Bills will go with the "best available player" at the point for their pick. Especially if it fills a need, which is linebacker, and pass rush. A guy like Barkevious Mingo could still be out there. Mingo is a freak of nature with rare athletic ability. He ran a 4.58 forty at the combine and had stunning numbers in the cones and vertical leap among others. He has strength and explosiveness, which conjures up images to me of Von Miller. Problem is, Mingo is more suited to a 3-4 defense. I think a player is a player is a player. If he is as explosive and athletic as advertised, Mingo would be a great choice, and the Bills could find a place for him.
The Syracuse Orange mens basketball team is hard to figure out. They look lousy in losing three straight Big East conference games and 4 of 5, including a regular season finale in Georgetown where they couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat.
Then they start the Big East postseason tournament and look great beating Seton Hall and then a very good Pitt team. It's almost as if the sight of Madison Square Garden brightened their fortunes.
The Orange usually play well in the Garden, and James Sutherland obviously likes it. Sutherland hit 6 of 9 three point attempts against Seton Hall and then was even better against Pittsburgh, hitting 6 of 6. In two games, that means....carry the one....Sutherland has made 12 of 15 shots from three point range in the last two games. He better keep that going because the next game against Georgetown is where the Cuse will need that kind of shooting.
Either way, Syracuse could be a quick, one and out upset victim in the NCAA tournament, or they could go all the way to the final four, or maybe farther. It all depends on if their outside shooting is on or way off, and who they get matched up against. Many teams who never see a zone like SU can throw at them, can be baffled by it. We will see once the field is announced.
Tiger Woods showed he isn't done yet. His play and win at Doral was as good as he has ever been. It seems like yesterday, but Woods was most dominant in the early 2000's. From 1999's PGA championship to 2002's US Open, Woods won seven of his 14 major titles. THAT is dominant!
Since then, he was very good until 2009, although maybe not quite as dominant. Basically, he was still the world's top player, but he could be beat. After his marriage fell apart, he has taken a long road back, slowly getting better every year since then.
Some people have wondered if Tiger will ever get back to the dominant form he once showed. I doubt if he will. We are dealing with a unique situation though with Tiger. Comparing to Nicklaus, you get the feeling it might be different for Woods.
Jack Nicklaus was basically the most dominant player in the game until age 40, then he was done, except for that amazing 1986 comeback at age 46. Woods was the best player ever until age 34. It remains to be seen if he can recapture his old form and dominance, but it seems to me that he can at least get back to being very good, like he was from 2004 to 2009. The win two weeks ago is a nice start.
NFL free agency begins tomorrow at 4 pm, and the question around western New York is, "how active will the Buffalo Bills be this year?"
Bills fans have become accustomed to that answer being "not very" over the years. Last year however, the Bills surprised EVERYONE, signing the biggest name on the free agent list, Mario Williams, to a $100 million dollar deal, as well as signing Mark Anderson away from New England.
The problem is, both really didn't live up to expectations, so it wouldn't surprise me this year if the Bills are a bit gun shy about blowing big bucks on big name players. Still it is fun to dream isn't it?
Lets start with linebacker, since one of the most glaring needs for Buffalo is middle linebacker. The Bills need a maneater in the middle of their defense. A guy who will spit nails and stop running backs in their tracks the moment they break through the defensive line. How about the best linebacker to play the postion over the last decade, Brian Urlacher? I highly doubt it. First off, he is 34 years old, and will demand way more money than he is worth at this point. Plus he has been so injury prone over the last five years. Someone will sign him, but it won't be Buffalo.
Better choices would be Manny Lawson of Cincinnati, DJ Williams of Denver, Barrett Rudd of Houston, Dan Connor of Dallas or Dannell Ellerbe of Baltimore.
How about defensive backs or corners? What do you think of the Bills signing Ed Reed, Charles Woodson or Ronde Barber? Well, they would all be great additions if this was 2005. Unfortunately, it's 2013 and Reed is 35 years old, Woodson 36 and Barber is 37. They all get by on guile now and would cost way more than they are worth, so I doubt the Bills would look their way.
A better choice would be Aqib Talib, Marcus Trufant, Tracy Porter or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. All of them are younger and would probably be cheaper. Would the Bills sign one of these guys for a bunch of money after just re-upping with Leodis McKelvin two days ago? I highly doubt it.
What about another dominant pass rusher to put on the other side from Mario Williams and REALLY improve the pass rush, with Mark Anderson rotating in? Well, Dwight Freeney, John Abraham and Osi Umenyiora are all available to the highest bidder. Problem is, the Bills threw so much money at Williams and Anderson last year, I doubt they would be able to spend enough to land any of the three, as they would all be expensive. Plus, Abraham is 37 years old, Freeney is 33 and Osi is 31 and perhaps a product of the defensive system.
One of the biggest strengths of the Bills heading into 2013 is their offensive line. Still, you can never have enough beefcake and studs up front, so what about signing Jake Long or Andre Smith away from Miami or Cincy and moving Cordy Glenn back to guard? Well, it would make sense if they had a ton of money to spend. The Bills would not be best suited to spend the kind of money it would take to sign one of those two guys at the price they would want. at a position of strength. Both are young and have huge upside, so they would be looking for a career-making contract. Not gonna get it from the Bills.
Scott Chandler has solidified the tight end position for Buffalo, but perhaps they are looking for an upgrade. Well, Dallas Clark, Dustin Keller, Fred Davis, and Jared Cook are all available. I doubt the Bills would spend the cash it would take to get one of those guys, knowing Chandler is their current starter. In other words, I don't think they think any of those guys would be an upgrade.
More likely a possibility: the Bills could sign Martellus Bennett, Ed Dickson, James Casey, David Thomas or Delanie Walker to use in two tight end packages.
Other than inside linebacker, wide receiver could be the Bills biggest need, and the one that I could see them spending big money on. The three biggest names on the market are Wes Welker, Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace.
My problem is, each of them has a downside. Welker could prove to be a product of the Patriots system. Would he put up similar numbers in another offense without Tom Brady throwing to him? Especially in Buffalo, with a rookie or Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterbacking? I doubt it. Jennings is injury prone, and Wallace disappears in games. He has speed to burn, but needs a QB to be able to get him the ball, which I don't think Fitzpatrick could do.
A better option would be to help the overall depth of the receiving corps by going after Early Doucet, Steve Smith (sadly not the Carolina one, but the St. Louis one), Devin Aromashadu, Brandon Gibson, Steve Breaston, Devery Henderson, or Jerome Simpson.
With Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller in Buffalo, there is no need for a running back, but it is fun to think about who is out there. Steven Jackson, Michael Turner overdrive, Cedric Benson, Shonn Greene, Rashard Mendenhall, Reggie Bush, Peyton Hillis and Beanie Wells are all former thousand yard backs who will be looking for a new home. It won't be in Buffalo.
A more plausible option with Tashard Choice becoming a free agent, is signing another Dallas back, Felix Jones instead. Or perhaps Joique or Khalil Bell, of Detroit and Chicago respectively, javon Ringer, Ronnie Brown or Justin Forsett.
Finally, what about quarterbacks? There HAS to be someone better than Ryan Fitzpatrick out there isn't there? Uhhh....NO! Unless you are a fan of Derek Anderson, Jason Campbell, Brady Quinn, Caleb Hanie or Rex Grossman. Those are the biggest names on the list. However, there are three intriguing names on the free agent list that I think could give Fitzy a run for his money as a starter or at least be quality backups (better than Tarvaris Jackson, who is also a free agent), and those would be Drew Stanton, Chase Daniel and Matt Leinart.
I still don't really know if Leinart has ever really been given a chance to be a full time starter, and I think he may have the talent to be one. Same could be said for Stanton, who was highly thought of coming out of Michigan state and has spent his career as Matthew Stafford's backup. Finally, Chase Daniel doesn't have prototypical size for a QB, but he has to have learned something as Drew Brees' primary backup the last few years.
Well, there you have it. Will the Bills sign any of those big names again this year? I doubt it. I think a backup tight end or quarterback and second line receiver is more likely. Who knows though, maybe they will surprise us again this year.
Carl Crawford made news yesterday...for being a cry-baby.
Crawford, who is now in Tinseltown, playing in Chavez Ravine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, acted like he was sprung from purgatory when speaking about playing in Boston for the last two seasons. Or in his case, NOT playing for Boston.
After batting practice and hitting off a tee at the Dodgers spring training complex in Glendale Arizona, Crawford said, "There are obvious reasons why I want to be here."
Obvious reasons like Boston and Carl Crawford were not a good marriage. Obvious that he wanted to put the last two years of his career behind him, and forget about them like they never happened. Obvious that he feels he now has something to atone for. Obvious to everyone that he never should have signed that seven year, $142 million dollar contract.
He went on to say, "It just wasn't the place for me at the end of the day. I didn't do my homework. Maybe they didn't either. At the end of the day, it just wasn't the right place for me."
It wasn't the place for him at the beginning of the day either. Crawford took the money, without thinking about it, or even researching anything. He didn't realize or even consider that the Red Sox are traditionally not a team based on speed--his strong suit. He didn't consider that many of his previous home runs hit barely over the left field wall, would be line drives into the Green Monster for singles or doubles. He didn't realize Fenway park was not the stadium that would favor his game, or that Boston the city was not a friendly place for guys making $20 million a year if they didn't earn that cash.
Crawford found out soon enough.
"That smile turned upside down real quick," he said. "I think they want to see that in Boston. They love it when you're miserable."
Crawford continued, "Burying people in the media, they think that makes a person play better. That media was the worst I've experienced in my life."
He wasn't done yet. "I took so much of a beating in Boston, I don't think anything could bother me anymore, he said, "They can say what they want--that I'm the worst free agent ever--and it won't get to me. But it bothered me the whole time there."
Waaaaaah...cry me a river!
There is nothing that bothers me more than a player who makes an obvious money grab, takes on a ridiculous contract, and then doesn't produce. Crying about how terrible everyone was to him just makes it worse.
Crawford was a career .300 hitter, and was coming off a great run in Tampa, where he averaged 45 steals a year. In Boston, he hit only .255 his first season with the Red Sox. In two injury plagued seasons, he stole only 23 bases combined in beantown. He had a combined 14 homeruns.
Granted, Crawford had injuries. His season was shortened two years ago, just after getting 500 at bats. He underwent Tommy John surgery, which affected him the following season, and limited him to only 31 games, and 117 at bats. The thing is though, when he was on the field and healthy, mainly in his first year, he played like a shadow of the player he was just the year before in Tampa.
Today's salaries in sports open players up to criticism, and players need to realize this. If you are making one or two million dollars a year and you slump, it's one thing. If you are raking in $20 million and you have by far the worst year of your career, it's entirely another.
Carl Crawford shouldn't be shocked. True, there are some cities where bad seasons aren't noticed as much. Perhaps Crawford should have thought of that. Fans and the media in Boston have won two World Series crowns in the last ten years, and have a long history and tradition of winning seasons. They are going to be less forgiving. If Crawford wanted to play in a market that would be more forgiving, he should have signed with San Diego, or Milwaukee, or Seattle, Cleveland, Minnesota or Pittsburgh. By choosing to take the money and go to Boston, he has no one to blame but himself.
I hope Crawford bounces back, has a great year for L.A., and starts earning that money. If he doesn't, I hope someone shoves a Dodger dog in his yapper. I don't want to hear about how mean everyone is in So. Cal.
Remember the name Lauren Silberman. She is now the answer to a very obscure trivia question. That being, "Who was the first women to ever try out for an NFL team?"
It's really not all that significant. We're not talking as if this was a middle of a season, "we need a kicker", audition tryout. This was a regional scouting combine tryout camp for the New York Jets. Basically, it was an open "cattle call" that pretty much anyone could go to, but it still poses some significance, and gets us talking.
Silberman's qualifications? She played club soccer at Wisconsin. Yet, she apparently thought this qualified her to be an NFL kicker, and the NFL wasn't about to argue out of fear of discrimination lawsuits and equality mongers.
Silberman's big day came over the weekend, and....well....it didn't really go well. She attempted two kickoffs. Her first one went 16 yards, just over midfield to the 49. Her second one went 13 yards. THIRTEEN YARDS!?!?!? Heck, SIXTEEN YARDS!?!?!? I'm 46 years old, at least 30 pounds out of shape, and legally blind, and I am pretty sure I could kick a football 16 yards into a 40 mile an hour nor'easter wind.
After her second kick, Silberman asked for a trainer after apparently pulling something, then left the tryout field shortly thereafter, speaking with the media briefly. She praised the NFL for being open-minded enough to give women a chance.
This was a joke on every level, disguised as a serious tryout. It was no doubt a publicity stunt from a woman who, for whatever reason, wanted to see her name in headlines. The NFL, for its part, played right along with the charade, figuring,
A. Any publicity is good publicity, and
B. If they had turned her down, they would subject themselves to a whole lot of legal mumbo-jumbo.
Luckily for Silberman, it turned out as it did. As it should. I am sure some people, mainly women, are going to think I am being a sexist pig, but here's the deal: I don't care if she boomed 24 kickoffs over the endzone, 12 rows up into the stands....NFL football fields are no place for a woman!
I don't care if she has a cannon for a leg, stronger than every male kicker in the game, and the accuracy of a cyborg, she should not be kicking for any NFL team in the league. Why? Because she is a woman.
I am no doctor, but I know enough to tell you that women are built differently then men. They are slighter of build, and their bones are more brittle. In general, they cannot run as fast or be as strong as a man. They have a much better chance of being injured than a man.
Bottom line is, they should not be playing in an NFL game with men, for their own safety....EVER! They have women boxers, but they don't box against men! They box against other women. Why? Because first of all, it goes against everything we have ever been taught as a society, but also because they stand a much better chance of being seriously hurt. Same goes for this situation.
Imagine just for a second, that a woman ever did win a job as an NFL kicker. The first time she kicks off, she has to run downfield like any other kicker, trying to make a tackle if necessary. The male opponents running down the field to block now are in a quandry. Do they block this little lady, and try to knock her on her ass like they would any other player? If they do, and they hurt the poor girl, then they are heathens. If they don't, then they are compromising their role and responsibility as a football player and a teammate.
If the female kicker gets hurt by a hard hit or block, imagine the controversies that would ensue. The ACLU would be all over the league about violence in the sport. Womens groups would be calling for assault charges to be filed and picketing outside stadiums everywhere.
As men, we are taught all our lives, from an early age, that you are NEVER allowed to hit a woman. Now are teams supposed to suddenly say it's okay? How are parents of young children going to ever instill this in their young charges, that you can't hit women, when they see a female kicker getting buried by large men on a football field?
Another problem would arise the first time that any male player inappropriately gropes the female kicker in a tackling pile or scrum. How about the first time the female kicker assists on a tackle and her male teammates slap her on the ass in appreciation? And of course, what do you do about the locker room situation?
All in all, the whole thing is a joke, and quite frankly, I think all parties ought to be a bit embarrassed.
I realize this country is all about freedoms, equality, open-mindedness and giving everyone a chance, but come on folks, show some common sense! For the NFL, it's just not worth it.
I know I am going to sound like a bit of a curmudgeon here, but something has been bothering me, and quite frankly, I am kind of sick of it.
All of this melancholy, wistfulness, and knashing of teeth lately about Syracuse leaving the Big East conference after the year is starting to drive me batty.
The Cuse played the final game in their long rivalry with the Georgetown Hoyas over the weekend, and listening to the TV broadcast of the game, you would swear that the SU basketball program was going away forever, put on mothballs, never to be seen again.
"It's the end of an era". "Never will we see such spirited competition again". "This rivalry will go down as one of the best ever in college sports...it's such a shame". And on and on. Quotes like these were seemingly all that could come from the announcers mouths. PUH-LEEZE! If I heard the announcers say one more thing like that, I swear I was going to vomit.
I'm not disputing that the Hoyas and Orange wasn't a great rivalry, or that they brought tons of thrills or memories to fans everywhere. They did, and there were dozens of great games to remember. You could say the same about Syracuse and Pitt, or Syracuse and UConn or Syracuse and Villanova, Marquette or Louisville.
Thing is though, it's not the end of the college basketball world! Yes, those rivalries will come to an end, but with SU moving to the ACC next year, NEW rivalries will immediately start, and I guarantee you, some of those new rivalries will make the old Big East rivalries look paltry by comparison.
Personally, I can't wait for the SU-North Carolina rivalry to get underway. Same for the Orange and the Duke Blue Devils. Even SU-NC State, Maryland, Virginia and Clemson sound like they will be a lot of fun.
Geographically, things will not be that different. Georgetown, Villanova and Rutgers are not that far away from Duke, Carolina, Virginia or Maryland. Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech aren't far from USF. Boston College isn't far from Providence. It will take about as long to get to Wake Forest or Clemson as it would to get to South Bend, Cincinnati or Depaul.
I also think there are even MORE universities with rich college basketball history and tradition in the ACC than in the Big East.
In the sports world, things change. There is no need to focus on the past, when the future promises such excitement. The Big East was a very good conference, no doubt. I just think the ACC offers even more potential for greatness, especially with the Cuse in it.
I think it's time we all just bid a fond farewell to the Big East, but at the same time, welcome with open arms the excitement that joining the ACC brings. Stop crying those crocodile tears and being all sad. The future is so bright for Syracuse, it's downright orange.
The Buffalo Sabres finally pulled the trigger yesterday. After years of having that gun cocked and ready to fire, that hammer finally came down, ending Lindy Ruff's tenure as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.
It was clearly the right move. In fact, it was long overdue. Loyalty can only take you so far in the world of sports, and Terry Pegula, the owner of the Sabres, finally realized he had to do something he didn't want to do, and got rid of his good friend and loyal scribe Ruff.
All parties involved: Pegula, Regier and Ruff, all spoke from the heart. Pegula and Regier truly didn't want to have to fire Ruff, and you knew they meant what they said when they both said how hard a decision it was and how much Lindy Ruff meant to them and the organization.
The bottom line though, and Pegula and Regier knew it, is that something had to be done. For whatever reason, it was obvious that Ruff's messages were not being heard by his team anymore. Or if they were, there was a need of a translator. He had simply lost his team. They weren't buying into it anymore.
Sometimes it just happens in sports. When you are the head coach of an organization for sixteen years, players have heard it all before. They have heard all the tricks. They have heard all the motivational speeches. After a while, they just roll their eyes and say to each other, "here we go again". When that starts happening with regularity and nothing is getting through anymore, it's time to make a change.
When you think about it, sixteen years is an eternity nowadays in sports. It just doesn't happen anymore. The days of Toe Blake, Tom Landry, Tom Lasorda and Jerry Sloan are pretty much gone. If a team has a coach in place for more than five years, that coach has done extremely well. It's just the way that it is, so you can't blame Pegula or Regier for being heartless.
Terry Pegula came on board as the owner of the Sabres a couple of years ago. He brought deep pockets with him and Darcy Reguer happily went on a spending spree, bringing in the likes of Christian Erhoff and Ville Leino via free agency. Regier did his job. He brought in talent. Some of the best on the free agency market. This year, he addressed the team's lack of toughness by bringing in Steve Ott. Regier did what he had to do....what a general manager is supposed to do. Pegula signed the checks. The Sabres are 9th in the NHL in total salary payroll at just over $64 million dollars. At that point, it comes down to coaching. With the Sabres struggling with the talent assembled over the last two years, Ruff HAS TO be the fall guy.
Now Ron Rolston gets his chance, moving up to become the interim coach of the Sabres for the remainder of the year. It is a natural choice for now, but probably not for the long term. Bringing Rolston up, means the Sabres may have the potential for a fresh start with someone new. Perhaps the players respond to a new voice, and perhaps the team gets a jump in their step that was sorely lacking under Ruff. We know Rolston will basically run the same system, so it should be a relatively easy transition.
The thing about Rolston though, is that he is mainly a developmental coach who has a strong history with young players. Can he be a stern taskmaster of older veterans on the NHL level? That is the biggest question for me. Rolston being in charge of an NHL team is kind of like Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rogers being in charge of the US troop force in Afghanistan. That laid-back temperment may work with young players in the minors, but will he be strong enough to get his message across to older guys in the NHL? My hunch is no, but I'm hoping he will surprise me.
Chances are, Rolston coaches out the string, the Sabres miss the playoffs or barely make it and are a quick exit, then Rolston comes back to Rochester and the Sabres go in an entirely different direction in the off-season. Either way, the Lindy Ruff era had to come to an end in Buffalo. Now, it's time to see how the decision pays off on the ice.
I read with amusement over the weekend that Alec Ogletree, one of the best linebackers coming into the NFL and a sure fire first round pick in the upcoming draft, had been arrested for DUI.
Amusement not because it's amusing in any way when someone gets arrested for drunk driving, but amusement in what that arrest would mean for his draft status. Would teams who might be thinking of picking Ogletree suddenly change their minds, or knock him down their draft boards? Around these parts, you have to wonder that because one of those teams could very well be the Buffalo Bills. If it is, they better change their thinking, and quickly.
Ogletree has everything the Bills sorely need. On their "needs" list, other than a quarterback of the future, a fast, dominant, instinctual tackling machine of a middle linebacker is right up there for the Bills. Ogletree is the best description of that of any player in this years draft, and could very well be out there when it comes time for the Bills to make their first pick at number eight overall.
Ogletree has it all. He was among the top recruits in the country coming out of high school after recording 160 tackles, eight blocked punts, and five interceptions in his final two seasons combined. He is 6'3" and 232 pounds and runs a 4.5 forty. He had 111 tackles last season for the Bulldogs, despite missing four games due to a ban for failing a drug test, and there is the rub.
For all his positives and upside, Ogletree alse has a track record that NFL teams do NOT like to see. Other than that ban for drug use, and his recent arrest for DUI over the weekend, he was also arrested in 2010 during his freshman year on a theft charge for stealing a Georgia track athlete's motorcycle helmet. Despite all that, before this weekends arrest, NFL dot com's Gil Brandt projected Ogletree to be selected with the number eight pick in the draft, and guess who has that pick? Yes, the Buffalo Bills.
But will it happen? Should it happen? Probably not, but absolutely!
The Bills have prided themselves for years, if not decades, for having "quality individuals" playing for their football team. Rarely have they given troubled NFL players a chance or even a look, and players who they drafted who became lawbreakers, like Marshawn Lynch, were quickly let go. Lynch of course smiled, winked, and went on to become a superstar in Seattle.
The thing is though, the Bills haven't the luxury of being able to be choosy anymore. When you are an NFL franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since the Clinton administration, the need is to win, and win NOW! I don't care if Ogletree drove a golf cart and caddied for OJ Simpson as a child in Florida and hangs out playing playstation with Chad Ochocinco. If he is on the board at number eight, I'm taking him if I'm Buddy Nix and Doug Marrone.
Sure there is a chance it could backfire. Sure there is a chance that Ogletree could become a major head case, law breaker and distraction. The thing is though, for every Chris Henry, Rae Carruth, Chad Ochocinco, Lawrence Phillips, Jovan Belcher, or Michael Vick, there are dozens if not hundreds of NFL players who learned from their mistakes, grew up, and never had another problem again. The Bills have to think like that, and NOT rule out a guy like Ogletree.
For too many years, the Bills have had a team full of choirboys with records of 4-12, 5-11, 6-10, or 7-9. I'm fine with a Bills team with a few bad apples and a record of 11-5 or 12-4 for a change. I'm pretty sure most of the Bills fan base would agree.
My God, the liberals are at it again. I had to cringe yesterday, when I cracked open the online fishwrap and saw a story about how the website Jezebel.com is accusing the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition of "perpetuating racial stereotypes".
Apparently Jezebel has their collective panties in a bunch because in some of the swimsuit models photos, perceived poor local black men are used as props. The website argues that SI is "perpetuating racial stereotypes by drawing power and class lines between the westernized models and the 'primitive locals', and points to a long history of media using people of various ethnicities as 'extras'".
Really? This is something that bothers you? First of all, HOW is that perpetuating racial stereotypes??? What, there can't possibly be a half naked white model in the congo just because its a beautiful place on the earth? If it was a baboon or a lion being used as a prop instead of a "poor local black man", would these same people be saying it is an affront to the animal kingdom?
I am a longtime fan of the SI swimsuit edition. As such, I am sick and tired of people railing against it about some damn thing seemingly every year. If not racism, it's usually some pro-women group complaining about how showing half naked models in swimsuits in beautiful locales has nothing to do with sports, and doesn't belong in a sports publication.
Sports Illustrated has been at the smart end of the bell curve for decades about this. Always coming out a week or two after the Super Bowl, the swimsuit edition is the perfect antidote for many mens "mid-winter blues". It is something many look forward to, and it's perfect timing for SI since mid February is one of the worst times of every year in sports. Nothing exciting is happening! NBA and NHL seasons are at the mid point, spring training hasn't started yet, and football is now over. Nothing beats a bevy of beauties in skimpy swinsuits at this time of the year, and I say, God bless SI for doing it so well for so long!
I know of one curious 13 year old boy who will never forget that classic shot of Cheryl Tiegs in a blatently see thru fishnet swimsuit top gazing into the camera on a beautiful beach. Or seeing Christie Brinkley looking stunning while frolicking in the water on a beach in the Seychelles a few years later. Or being amazed by the sight of a gorgeous Elle McPherson bending over a pontoon boat a few years after that in the British Virgin Islands. Those memories are burned into my young mind in a collage of collective beauty. There is nothing wrong with that.
Yet every year, SI has to brace for slings and arrows of jealous people who have little better to do with their lives than rip them. Of course, SI is laughing about the controversies all the way to the bank. Every year without fail, the swimsuit edition is the magazines best seller, so no one should cry for them.
Hey, I know it's a free country, and I applaud that. Everyone has the right to say whatever they want to say, but every year it gets more and more idiotic. This latest thing is just ridiculous. Those poor local black boys or men who are used as extras? Being in an SI swimsuit photoshoot probably made their YEAR! Not to mention that I am sure they were paid more for being in one picture than they probably made the rest of the year combined if they are indeed so poor and destitute. Yeah, thats so racist isn't it?! Plus they are THERE! The pictures are trying to show the local culture and people. If an average traveler was going to Africa, wouldn't you want to take some pics of some of the locals? Would that be racist too?
I wish people would just get used to the SI swimsuit edition being here, see the forest for the trees about the good it does for many men everywhere, and go about their lives. It isn't going anywhere. It shouldn't.