Tag Archives: CFL

Some thoughts of the Saskatchewan Roughriders

I missed the game today.  We were out hiking the Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park.  I did hear the train wreck that was the postgame show.

  1. This is a pattern of Brendan Taman.  He takes over a team that makes it to the Grey Cup, won’t challenge or change the roster and within a couple of years the team is old and horrible.  It is what happened in Winnipeg and is what is happening in Regina.  There is a reason why Hugh Campbell turned over 30% of his Edmonton Eskimos roster during his dynasty years.  Time is undefeated and the message that no one is sacred is a powerful one.
  2. I don’t think a CFL team should ever hire a Canadian GM.  The best football in the world collegiately is being played in the SEC and has for years.  I think you need a GM that has strong ties in the SEC or the ACC, like Roy Shivers or Eric Tillman.  It is connection with high school coaches, university position coaches and even junior college coaches who can help you identify you players that aren’t on the national radar but can help your football team.
  3. Speaking of Eric Tillman, is it too soon to consider bringing him back?  I think it is but some will consider it.
  4. While I blame Brendan Taman, a lot of responsibility has to stand with Corey Chamblin.  He seems unable to identify why the Riders are playing horrible and doesn’t know how to fix it.  There have been other coaches that are good when things are going along great but can’t fix things when they run poorly (I think of Mike Singletary) because they are over their head schematically.  Chamblin seems lost and over his head right now.  So does his staff.
  5. Everyone gets on Chamblin for the penalties but I think this is on Taman.  It is the kind of players you get.  If you looked back at the player committing the most penalties, they would have a track record of doing it college and probably high school.  As Jimmy Johnson used to say, “Don’t send me stupid players because you can’t coach stupid players”.  We think talent is everything.  It isn’t.
  6. While the Winnipeg Bluebombers defense isn’t amazing, it is better than the Riders and with probably less talent.  Who is coaching that defense?  A gentlemen name Ritchie Hall, previously defensive coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders… back when they had a strong defense. 
  7. I love the hoardes that get upset when you criticize the Saskatchewan Roughriders as “we are all one team”.  No, not really.  I am not on the team.  I am a fan of the team.  I buy stuff from the Rider store, I cheer for the team but what is going on with that office and that field is solely the domain of the directors, the management, coaches, and players.  I don’t get a Grey Cup ring when they win and I am allowed to criticize the team when they are this bad.
  8. Speaking of bad, Chamblin’s post game interview was horrible when he offered up that there were issues with Brett Smith being benched and not being able to go back in.  Umm, why offer that up if you aren’t going to expand on it.  All it does it create speculation and media attention around you rookie QB and create a distraction when you are entering week 11 and still trying to win a game.  Also,  I was really disgusted by CKRM (I think it was Mitchell Blair but I could be wrong) asking Chamblin if he thought he would be fired.  This is a man’s livelihood we are talking about and how did they really expect him to answer that?  “Yes I think I should be fired”.  If It was Chamblin I would have said, “Thanks but I am done with this interview.”
  9. So what’s next for the Riders?  New stadium coming online in two years.  Do they trust Taman to be able to rebuild the Riders for that season?  From his track record, I don’t think I would.

The NFL Season in Review

Many of you are aware that I said goodbye to the NFL this fall after the Ray Rice scandal hit and wonder how I did.  Here are my thoughts of the NFL season that never was.

  • I still watched some football.  I am a Notre Dame fan and of course Mark plays high school football (where he played every position on the defence this season).  I enjoyed a lot of it.  I also came to grips that I am not a CFL fan.  I wish I was a bigger one but I really am not.
  • We cancelled cable and I got rid of my NFL Now subscription.  That hurt a bit but I vowed not to give the NFL any money in 2014.  I didn’t.
  • I spent my Sundays with Wendy which was time well spent.  We went for coffee at City Perk, out for walks, and explored the city.
  • I realized how much time some of my friends spend watching the NFL.  Sunday, Monday, and Thursdays.   That’s a lot of time in front of a television.
  • After spending 25 years a die hard Denver Broncos fan, it was weird not to know how they were doing during the season.
  • Despite giving up on the game, I still heard a lot about Jonny Football.  That isn’t a good thing.
  • I am still a fan of the game but Roger Goodall makes the game almost impossible to respect.  Even if you get past him, you have Jerry Jones, Jerry Richardson, Woody Johnson, Jimmy Haslam, Jerry Jones (whose stadium uses more oil than Liberia on game days), and of course Daniel Snyder who are all owners who have done horrible things.  Of course the NFL and other leagues all have horrible owners (Darryl Katz anyone?) but the idea of me giving my money to them really bothers me.  Again, I’m not calling for a boycott, it’s just a personal decision.
  • I have spent a little more time watching the Raptors (maybe because they are good), the Calgary Flames (after we had a breakup back in the late 90s during the second last lockout) and while I can’t watch such bad hockey, I find myself enamoured by the train wreck that is the Edmonton Oilers.
  • I should link to this, other pro sports owners are horrible humans as well.
  • In the end, not watching the NFL wasn’t really that big of deal.  It is a bunch of millionaire athletes playing a child’s game in the hope of winning a championship which will somehow validate themselves in their minds.  It’s fun to watch but doesn’t matter a lot to me in the big picture.
  • It is also a big business in which local communities are pitted against each other to keep their billionaire franchise owners even richer.  That part is what I find so offensive.
  • I was happy to see the NFL take a tougher stance against Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson but at the same time, this should have been done decades ago.  For all of the Ray Rice’s, there was a Warren Moon who was never suspended.  I am hoping there are changes moving forward but I am still going to take a wait and see.  I just have no faith in Goodall or owners like Richardson who won’t cut or suspend Greg Hardy.

Contextless Thoughts

  • After the Saskatoon Transit lockout is done, I can’t see Ann Iwanchuk winning a second full term.  Especially with Mike San Miguel quietly running again.  Her campaign was largely financed by labour and with the city attacking the ATU like it did, her slim margin of victory, her constituents relying on Transit heavily, and a lack of a signature issue so far, it could be really tough to win re-election.
  • It could hurt Clark and Loewen with their base and could mobilize the non voting parts of Ward 2 to really hurt Lorje.  I am not saying councillors will lose their seats but rather could face much tougher re-election races than they would have.  The right opponents will capitalize on this.
  • Despite what people think, this won’t hurt the mayor at all.  That is what the attack ads are targeted to protect (at the expense of councillors).  In many ways he could come out of this the winner, especially if this weakens rivals and empowers his base which to be honest, never rides a bus.
  • Of course the city being the city, coincided the lockout with the Mayor’s Cultural Gala.  You had some city councillors tweeting pictures of the city’s elite having a fun time while lower class people were being kicked off buses and having to walk home.  
  • Why would the city run attack ads against the very union it needs to negotiate with on the first day.  Saskatoon already has laughable communications and that didn’t exactly make the city look good.  Of course the political nature of the ads was bizarre.  Several city councillors swore to me that they never had any foreknowledge of the ads until they ran but both city staff and some others on council say that council saw and approved the ads in an in-camera session of executive committee.  It’s not exactly breaking news that council members lie to me on issues.  
  • Speaking of executive committees, it would be a lot easier for them to lie to me if council and staff stopped leaking what happened in there.  If only they had a way to investigate the leaks…
  • I have had several discouraging conversations with people who are utterly dependent on the bus for work, to provide care for a spouse who is in a nursing home, to get to school.  In Saskatoon we call those people collateral damage.
  • It is weird to hear councillors go all out in defence of their real fiduciary duty but ignore their responsibility to those who rely on a public service.  Empathy for those who have been hurt by this strike has not been something that has been communicated well.
  • I don’t really miss the NFL.  You would think I would after watching it every week since 1987 but I haven’t.   I glance at some scores but other than that, I haven’t really missed it.  I still have some college football, the Huskies, and the CFL but I have never cared about them like the NFL.
  • Brady Hoke needs to be fired from the University of Michigan.  He sent back out a quarterback with a concussion back onto the field.  That should be a fireable offence in any league (including when the Calgary Stampeders did it a couple of years ago in a playoff game against the Riders).  You send out a player with a brain injury, you are fired or suspended, especially in the NCAA.
  • What could Stephen Harper be thinking?  $300,000 courtesy ride for a couple of European diplomats because he wanted to have them at a reception?  Does he just not care anymore?  That does not look like a move by a politician who is planning on re-election.  Not only that but there is still widespread opposition to the deal in Germany.
  • The NFL is talking with Texas head coach Charlie Strong who has taken some strong steps in dealing with player misconduct. “We can’t compromise and sometimes that means getting rid of the best player.”
  • If you are a big company and you want to associate your brand with a strong event, I’d talk to the people behind Nuit Blanche right now.  Over 5000 people were on 20th Street last night for the inaugural event and it was a big time success.  People were partying, shopping, and hanging out all over the place.  What a great event.  Someone needs to step up and get behind it in 2015 monetarily so it can get bigger.
  • After reading this piece by Cathal Kelly, you will realize that the Blue Jays will never get any better than they are now.  So yeah, that kind of sucks.

What every professional sports league can learn from Donald Sterling

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio is talking about the NFL learning from the debacle that is Donald Sterling but the lessons are universal.

While it remains impossible to open a window into a person’s soul to see whether the poison of racism resides there, it is possible to screen those whose words and actions suggest that they harbor such beliefs.

Donald Sterling’s words and actions suggest that he does. And the evidence existed long before TMZ published its tape of his voice.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sterling agreed in 2009 to a $2.765 million settlement of charges that he discriminated against African-Americans and others at an apartment building he owned. The Times also reports that a lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Sterling of saying “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building,” and that “black tenants smell and attract vermin.” The case was resolved with a confidential settlement, but Sterling reportedly paid $5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs.

Amazingly, those claims and the settlements of those claims generated little or no publicity or scorn of Sterling. If an NFL owner were accused of such conduct, the mere allegations would become major national news. If an NFL owner ever settled a case involving such allegations, the league office undoubtedly would be forced to take decisive action or face strong contentions of the existence of a double standard.

It’s all the more reason for the NFL to treat this occasion as the catalyst for ensuring that its house — specifically, its 32 houses — are in order. Existing owners should be warned clearly about the potential consequences of such conduct. Potential owners should be screened even more carefully to determine that they have done or said nothing that would suggest that their hearts are rotten with racism or other qualities that could result in their wealth and power being used to violate the rights of others.

Per a league source, NFL owners already expect Commissioner Roger Goodell to address the situation in some way at the next ownership meetings in May.

It’s often impossible to get to the truth of a person’s attitudes regarding matters of race. But the Sterling situation underscores the importance of taking all reasonably available steps to ensure that the country’s biggest sports business is doing business with people who have not only the wealth to assume such an important responsibility, but also the character.

100 Ideas to Improve Saskatoon: 6. Do something with Cairns Field

I love Cairns Field.  It seats 5000 people which is small enough to feel cozy yet large enough to feel like an event.  The best part of it is that if you are there, you are watching some pretty good baseball being played by the Saskatoon Yellow Jackets on a warm Saskatoon summer night.

Cairns Field

The bad part about Cairns Field is it’s location.  It’s tucked away between Holiday Park and the South Industrial section.  It’s hard to get to and even hard to find.  I have had more than one person that was going to meet us at the game text and ask, “now where exactly is this Cairns Field”.

Cairns Field represents Saskatoon’s best chance at professional sports.  Professional basketball in Canada is the Toronto Raptors, we aren’t big enough for MLS or even NASL soccer, the CFL won’t put an additional team in Saskatchewan, and those that think that the NHL is coming are delusional (I’ve heard the arguments and they aren’t based in reality).  Minor league baseball (and maybe an AHL team) is the one team that can thrive in Saskatoon but it’s going to be hard if it is stuck back in it’s current location.

So where do you put it?  Well baseball needs to be close to downtown and close to amenities.  That is going to be a challenge anywhere in Saskatoon unless we can put it in the North Downtown redevelopment where the city yards are currently located.  

I am not saying it is ever going to happen but it would be an amazing place to walk down to and have dinner and then watch a game followed by a couple of drinks at a nearby pub.  They have done it in Winnipeg and for 50 nights each summer (plus playoffs) up to 7481 people come downtown to enjoy The Forks and watch a game (and spend money while down there).

A cozy stadium of 5,000 seats in the heart of Saskatoon with affordable ticket prices?  I can see that working.  Especially if we can find a way to up the quality of ball being played to A or AA baseball.

If that fails, maybe the city can build a decent website for the field that makes it clearer that it exists and how to get there.  That would be a good first step.

What would the end of football look like?

Relevant in Canada and the United States.  Writing for Grantland, economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier imagine how the NFL might end due to the increasing visibility of head injuries.

This slow death march could easily take 10 to 15 years. Imagine the timeline. A couple more college players — or worse, high schoolers — commit suicide with autopsies showing CTE. A jury makes a huge award of $20 million to a family. A class-action suit shapes up with real legs, the NFL keeps changing its rules, but it turns out that less than concussion levels of constant head contact still produce CTE. Technological solutions (new helmets, pads) are tried and they fail to solve the problem. Soon high schools decide it isn’t worth it. The Ivy League quits football, then California shuts down its participation, busting up the Pac-12. Then the Big Ten calls it quits, followed by the East Coast schools. Now it’s mainly a regional sport in the southeast and Texas/Oklahoma. The socioeconomic picture of a football player becomes more homogeneous: poor, weak home life, poorly educated. Ford and Chevy pull their advertising, as does IBM and eventually the beer companies.

What would the impact be?

Outside of sports, American human capital and productivity probably rise. No football Saturdays on college campuses means less binge drinking, more studying, better grades, smarter future adults. Losing thousands of college players and hundreds of pro players might produce a few more doctors or engineers. Plus, talented coaches and general managers would gravitate toward management positions in American industry. Heck, just getting rid of fantasy football probably saves American companies hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Other losers include anything that depends heavily on football to be financially viable, including the highly subsidized non-revenue collegiate sports. No more air travel for the field hockey teams or golf squads. Furthermore, many prominent universities would lose their main claim to fame. Alabama and LSU produce a large amount of revenue and notoriety from football without much in the way of first-rate academics to back it up. Schools would have to compete more on academics to be nationally prominent, which would again boost American education.

One of the biggest winners would be basketball. To the extent that fans replace football with another sport (instead of meth or oxy), high-octane basketball is the natural substitute. On the pro level, the season can stretch out leisurely, ticket prices rise, ratings rise, maybe the league expands (more great athletes in the pool now), and some of the centers and power forwards will have more bulk. At the college level, March Madness becomes the only game in town.

All-22

The camera angle that the NFL doesn’t want you to see.

Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information. On a recent Sunday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass to tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown. Daryl Johnston, the Fox color man working the game, said Smith’s throw was "placed perfectly" and that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Corey Lynch was "a little bit late getting there."

Greg Cosell, producer of the ESPN program "NFL Matchup," who is one of the few people with access to All-22 footage, said the 49ers had purposely overloaded the right side of the field so each receiver would only be covered by one defender. Lynch, the safety, wasn’t late getting there, Cosell says. He was doing his job and covering somebody else. Johnston could not be reached for comment.

Frank Hawkins, a former NFL executive during the 1990s who is now a Scalar Media Partners consultant, says he remembers the NFL considering releasing the All 22. The biggest objection, he said, came from the football people.

Charley Casserly, a former general manager who was a member of the NFL’s competition committee, says he voted against releasing All-22 footage because he worried that if fans had access, it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio. Casserly believed fans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All 22, without knowing the full story.

"I was concerned about misinformation being spread about players and coaches and their ability to do their job," he said. "It becomes a distraction that you have to deal with." Now an analyst for CBS, Casserly takes an hour-and-a-half train once a week to NFL Films headquarters in Mt. Laurel, N.J. just to watch the All-22 film.

Lonnie Marts, a former linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, says there are thousands of former NFL players who could easily pick apart play-calling and player performance if they had access to this film. "If you knew the game, you’d know that sometimes there’s a lot of bonehead plays and bonehead coaching going on out there," he says.

If I was the CFL, I would make the All-24 video available on CFL.ca.  Not only would there be demand for it (I would pay for it), it would also show that the CFL isn’t afraid of it’s fans like the NFL apparently is.

Riders next playoff appearance in about 2018

Roughriders name Brendan Taman head of football operations

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have retained Brendan Taman as general manager and expanded his duties to include complete control over the franchise’s football operations.

The Riders announced the front-office moves today during a media conference at Mosaic Stadium. Taman has been with the Riders since 2009, spending the last two years as general manager. Ken Miller was the Riders’ head coach and vice-president of football operations. He resigned from both positions on Oct. 31, creating a void at the top of the Riders’ football operations.

Miller had been in control of the team’s football operations. That meant Taman reported to Miller as the Riders’ general manager. Taman’s previous duties included management of the salary cap and overseeing scouting and player personnel. One of Taman’s first responsibilities will be conducting a search to replace Miller as head coach.

Taman returned to the Roughriders as director of football administration in 2009. Taman, a native of Saskatoon, was promoted to general manager in 2010 after the resignation of Eric Tillman. Miller also assumed the official duties as vice-president of football operations with Tillman’s resignation.

Taman’s past track record doesn’t inspire much confidence in me.  His track record in Winnipeg was poor and he hasn’t shown a lot in Saskatchewan that would change my mind.  I guess we will see.  He can’t do much worse than what Ken Miller did last year.

2011 Year End Awards for the Saskatchewan Roughriders

These are hilarious.

The Alexander Daigle award – Hugh Charles. This award is given to the player that exemplifies a truly high level of skill, speed, and game-breaking ability (in his own mind). Then all of the sudden gives up on plays for no apparent reason. I really enjoyed watching Mr. Charles give up on chasing Keon Raymond, who returned an interception 100 yards for a TD.  Charles could have had him seven times over. It made me want to throw up a little in my mouth, but hey Hugh maybe you and  the tin man will find a heart in Edmonton.

Blackberry Curve Build Out

Blackberry Curve 8530 from Koodo MobileOn the 27th I went to Best Buy to take a look at DSLR’s on sale.  I didn’t see any DSLRs but while I was there, I saw that Koodo had dropped their price on Blackberry Curves to $150 and no contract.  I had thought about getting a LG Rumor 2 this year but after looking into it, we decided to get the Curve.  I had been quite happy with Virgin but I have had technical problems with my account for two years and it was getting worse.  While Virgin’s tech support and customer service staff have been really helpful, they still could not fix the problem so I finally decided to make the move.

Blackberry by RIMI took the phone home and started to set it up.  Here is how I put it together.

The first thing I did was get my Curve set up to our wifi connection in the house.  That wasn’t working that well.  Then I realized my router was about a billion years old (it was a 801b router) and it needed an upgrade.  Since my new router was on my desk, it was pretty easy to upgrade.  The Curve, my iPod Touch, and our notebook suddenly worked a lot faster.  I upgraded my old router’s firmware and will give it Computers for Kids and if they don’t want it, it can go to SARCAN.

Here is are the apps that made their way onto it over the last couple of days.

Utilities

Social Networks

  • foursquare app for the BlackberryFoursquare | It doesn’t yet use wifi but it allows you to check in and out all over the place.  It’s one of those apps that doesn’t make sense until you use it and then you love it.
  • Twitter | Umm, it’s one of the main reasons why I upgraded to a Blackberry.
  • Facebook (one the off chance for some reason I need to actually log in sometime… maybe in 2012)
  • Flickr | It’s an uploader that uploads my camera phone shots to Flickr.  It rather annoyingly resizes them but I’ll deal with that later.

News and Sports

Am I missing anything?  Let me know in the comments.

Christmas Around Here

I see that both Wendy and Mark have posted about Christmas so I thought I might as well.  I won’t describe the day as Wendy did a great job of doing that but I will ad in that it was a lot of fun to have friends and family around. 

For my gifts, Wendy and Lee went in and got me a new 32 gb iPod Touch.  My iPod Touch was a first generation one and I was quite excited to see the it finally shipping with both a camera and a video camera in it.  I don’t have a Blackberry or smartphone but this does a good job of letting me both work and play when I need to.  I bought iMovie, and a bunch of 99 cent EA games for it and I am good to go.  Wendy also gave me a massive Rambo type knife.  I am not sure what I will use it for but there is a small first aid and survival kit in the knife handle.  Now that’s a knife.

Wilson CFL footballMaggi gave me a Wilson CFL football.  I have an NFL football but when I am watching the Grey Cup, you really need a bigger ball to toss around.

Oliver gave me a Team Canada Hockey seat cover and steering wheel cover for Hank while Santa brought me a portable external hard drive for my netbook.  I have shot several hours of video for my documentary and I really need more hand drive space if I am going to get it done in 2011 (more on that in a later post).

Lee surprised me with a copy of The Pacific on Blu Ray which made no sense since we don’t have a Blu-Ray player.  Of course then Mark unwrapped a PS3 that had Madden 11 with it.  He also gave me a The Force Unleashed II and gave Mark Call of Duty: World at War.  According to Sony VP Kevin Butler, it only does everything.  As for our PS2, it will be donated to the Centre’s half-way house where I am sure someone will enjoy playing it in the lounge.  He also gave me a new multi-tool set and flashlight.

Speaking of Lee, he was babysitting the boys this summer and Wendy walked in and all three of them were watching Predator.  Seriously, he was letting a ten year old and a 2 year old watch Predator and both of them were a little nervous.  To prove he learned nothing, there was a copy of Predator in Blu-Ray under the tree for Mark and Oliver.  We all had a great laugh over that.

On Christmas Day we went to the Reimers for Christmas dinner.  Reimers gave me a nice set of binoculars for use up at the cabin.  With North America’s oldest bird sanctuary only a couple of miles north of the cabin, there are a lot of birds flying around.  They also gave me Settlers of Catan which sounds like an ideal way to spend an evening with friends.  Kristi helped make my Christmas tree a little more Riderish with some Saskatchewan Roughrider tree ornaments and a calendar of stupid quotes.  I have a whole year of mocking stupid people ahead of me.  The only thing that I didn’t like about the dinner was that Gloria won’t give me the recipe for an amazing green bean casserole she makes.  It’s a family secret I am told.

Shaving brush and soapI am not sure any of that was on my Christmas list but it made for a fun day.  The only two things that were on my MUST HAVE list were a new zippered wallet (I hate it when I drop my wallet and my cards fall out) and a shaving brush and shaving soap which were in my stocking.

Thanks everyone, it’s been a great couple of days.

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for the Sports Fan | 2010 Edition

Hockey Night in Canada Retro Puck & Stick Rug :: While Gary Bettman doesn’t respect the traditions of the NHL, that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Check out this retro Hockey Night in Canada welcome rug which would look great every Saturday night as you host your friends and family for the Hockey Night in Canada double header. Now if we could only find a way to automatically mute the television whenever Kelly Hrudey comes on.

$39.99 (Can) from CBC Shop

NFL Training Camp for the Wii | Compared to other fitness gaming releases on the Wii, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp is in a whole other league. Unlike those other games that concentrate on general fitness concepts, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp focuses on the agility, aerobic, stamina and strength training exercises that NFL players routinely are put through during their pre-season training camps. Developed in collaboration with NFL strength and conditioning coaches, users will experience the thrill of competition while challenging themselves, as well as friends and family in these authentic NFL football drills which are performed in the likeness of user’s favorite NFL players.

Saskatchewan Roughriders Shares | As a Roughrider shareholder, fans will get the opportunity to vote on team leadership, contribute to the team’s long-term viability, and help create a football dynasty owned and operated by its fans. In addition Rider shareholders receive a number of other benefits including discounts on merchandise, preferred seating upgrades, first rights to priority parking and access to special Shareholder events.  Sadly you don’t get a say on the head coach, what kind of defence they run or who is the starting quarterback.

Each shareholder will receive a personalized and numbered share certificate, an owners card, as well as a window decal and bracelet. The limited edition 100th anniversary Series II Rider Share is available for a cost of $250 per share, with an option to have the certificate fully framed for $499.

To own a piece of the pride and become a Rider shareholder, fans can call 1-888-4-RIDERS (474-3377) or visit the Rider Ticket Office at Mosaic Stadium.

Sportscraft Pubmaster Dart Board :: The official size 18-inch dartboard has traditional colors with steel tensile steel spider and high visibility numbers. You can throw either steel or soft tip darts at the bullseye!

Plus with no one really knowing when or if the economy is going to come back, having bunch of friends over for a night of darts is a lot cheaper than a night at the pub or doing much else now that I think of it.  The great thing about darts (and bowling) is that you don’t have to be good at it to have a good time playing it.

If you want to up the anty a bit and hide the dart board from view, check out this dart board cabinet.  This pine cabinet comes with everything you need to start playing. It includes a high quality, self healing dart board, 6 steel tip darts, dry-erase scoreboard, out chart, marker and mounting supplies. It would look great at the cabin.

Wendy gave me this customizable Denver Broncos watch for our 13th anniversary. You can change the watch hands, color of strap, and engrave the back (something like Fire Josh McDaniels might be appropriate).  While this one is sold out right now, you can get a variety of other NFL team watches from NFL Shop ranging from $25.

Men’s Team HeatGear Longsleeve T Tops by Under Armour | If the person you are shopping for actually is athletic, you may want to consider a workout shirt from Under Armour. It’s a versatile multi-sport shirt ideal for training.  It’s popular because the Under Armour Team HeatGear long-sleeve tee will keep you feeling cool and refreshed during your workouts. The shirt is made using HeatGear technology, a superior moisture-management system that moves moisture away from your body to the outer layer of the garment. To keep the shirt smelling fresh over the long term, Under Armour added anti-odor technology, which prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes. Other features include a lightweight micro-pique construction with a generous loose fit, raglan sleeves that allow for total mobility and a full range of motion while eliminating shoulder-seam abrasion points, and a UA logo on the center front chest.

Custom NFL T-Shirt | While a customized NFL jersey may set you back $200, a customizable t-shirt or sweatshirt will cost you as a little as $40 and you can actually wear it out in public.  Customize the front, back and both sleeves of your shirt in any number of ways. From players name and number to a pink breast cancer ribbon.  Anything is possible and available in men’s and women’s version.  I just can’t believe that other leagues aren’t doing this yet.

How many times in the last year have you said, “This room would be perfect with a stained glass Notre Dame plaque on the wall?”  Now for $59.99 you can bring completion to your fan cave with one. It actually would look great in a lot of family rooms, even if you happened to cheer for teams like USC or Alabama. Now of course if you cheered for anyone in the SEC, you probably would not appreciate something like stained glass but sadly they don’t make these things deep fried.

Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns | Here is the story of America s national pastime from master storyteller Ken Burns. It is an eleven DVD epic overflowing with heroes and hopefuls, scoundrels and screwballs. A saga spanning the quest for racial justice, the clash of labor and management, the immigrant experience, the transformation of popular culture, and the enduring appeal of the national pastime. And through it all, baseball remains a mirror of America.

Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks | “Professional fan” Hample (How to Snag Major League Baseballs), who falls squarely in the “deeply serious geek” category, has put together an invaluable resource for armchair fans. A former college shortstop, four-time attendee of Bucky Dent’s Baseball School and an obsessive baseball collector, Hample covers basics like what to watch for in pitchers, catchers, hitters, fielders and base runners; he also provides answers to such nagging questions as why spectators stretch in the seventh inning and why most ballplayers grab their crotches. He explains the difference between a change-up and a split-finger fastball, breaks down a box score and offers an extensive glossary of baseball slang that defines both a “courtesy trot” and a “dying quail.” Other sections address free agency and fair balls, umpires and uniform numbers, stadiums and superstitions. Trivia abounds, including the names of the 10 switch hitters honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a record of inside-the-park homeruns. Hample hits the equivalent of a reference-book homerun with his witty, loose and readable style-taking a friendly for-a-fan-by-a-fan approach that doesn’t hide his enormous depth of knowledge. Highly recommended for baseball watchers, Hample also schools amateur players and coaches with well-illustrated examples of some complex pitching, hitting and base-running scenarios.

Instant Reply: The Green Bay Packer Diary of Jerry Kramer | In 1967, when Jerry Kramer was a thirty-one-year-old Green Bay Packers offensive lineman, in his tenth year with the team, he decided to keep a diary of the season. “Perhaps, by setting down my daily thoughts and observations,” he wrote,  “ll be able to understand precisely what it is that draws me back to professional football.  Working with the journalist Dick Schaap, Kramer recorded his day-to-day experiences as a player with perception, honesty, humor, and startling sensitivity. Little did Kramer know that the 1967 season would be one of the most remarkable in the history of pro football, culminating with the legendary championship game against Dallas now known as the Ice Bowl, in which Kramer would play a central role. Nor could he have anticipated that his diary would evolve into a book titled Instant Replay, first published in 1968, that would become a multimillion-copy bestseller and be celebrated by reviewers everywhere, including the Washington Posts Jonathan Yardley, who calls it to this day, the best inside account of pro football, indeed the best book ever written about that sport and that league.  I still remember the first time I read it. It was fantastic and is still one of my favourite books of all time.

The Game by Ken Dryden | I know I broke up with hockey last year but this was written during the golden age of hockey and the Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s.  This is a wonderful book which goes a lot deeper than so many sports autobiographies that I have read over the years.  It was named by Sports Illustrated in 2002 as one of the Top Ten in The Top 100 Best Sports Books of All Time. It was the number-one hockey book on the list. #9: “Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden was always different. A Cornell grad, he led Montreal to six Stanley Cups, then at 26 sat out a year to prepare for the bar exam. His book is different too: a well-crafted account of his career combined with a meditation on hockey’s special place in Canadian culture.” $15.61 at Amazon.com

Madden 11 | Madden NFL 11 is the 22nd version of EA Sports’ classic video game football franchise. Featuring cover athlete Drew Brees, Super Bowl XLIV MVP and quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, Madden NFL 11 incorporates a blend of simpler, quicker and deeper new features with time-tested classic features expected from a game in the Madden franchise. Features included in the PlayStation 3 version include Franchise mode, All-new GameFlow playcall system, dual stick control, extensive online functionality and more.  It now allows you to play games in half the time. With an all-new playcall system, spend less time in the huddle and more time on the field as you experience the drama and excitement of a full game in less than 30 minutes. While you are learning, you can actually win now. New Coaching Tips automatically pause the game at critical points to help explain each situation as it unfolds. A revamped playcall system draws player routes on the field as in-game coach’s audio provides helpful hints to better execute the play.

Available for PS3, Wii, PSP, and XBox at Amazon.com.  If who you are buying for is more of a NCAA fan, don’t forget NCAA Football 2011.

Harvard Action Arena 7-Foot Air Hockey Table | Tired of heading to the pub every time you want to play air hockey? Enter the Harvard Action Arena 7-foot air hockey table, which brings the same exciting, fast-paced gameplay directly into your home. Designed for four players instead of two, the Action Arena is well constructed, with sturdy 4-by-1/2-inch L-style legs, a cross bar for added stability, and a 6-1/2-inch PVC laminate apron with silver trim. More importantly, the table plays fast and fun thanks to the smooth, glossy white laminated play bed and 110-volt motor. Other features include automated puck return goals, an electronic scoring system, four striking paddles, and four pucks. $637.47 and available from Amazon.com

A smaller and less expensive air hockey table can be found here for $149.00. . Sports table includes 2 puck pushers and 2 pucks. Hockey puck easily glides across the playing surface due the table’s powerful 110v 2400 rpm heavy duty fan and air box. Manual scoring. Table dimensions: 32 inches high x 28 inches wide x 60 inches long. Includes assembly and game play instructions.

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