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Denver Broncos

Goodbye NFL

Most of you know how much I love the NFL.  I wrote about it a couple of years ago in this post.  Each weekend I catch a couple of games from Thursday night to Monday.  I subscribed to NFL Now.  I have a fantasy team.  I have been a fan since I watched John Elway and the Denver Broncos blow the biggest lead in Monday Night Football history against the hated Los Angeles Raiders.  Somehow I became a life long Denver Broncos fan and if I saw Raiders quarterback Jay Schroeder on the street, I’d boo him in real life.

All through the 80s I’d rage at The StarPhoenix sports desk for never posting the west coast scores of key Broncos games and would have to go downtown to the main library to find a “real paper” to find out the score (real paper was always the New York Times who hated their sports desk and make them stay up late so they could publish the west coast scores or USA Today who probably felt the same way).  I hated the sports broadcasting of first 650 CKOM and then C95 for only occasionally mentioning the occasional NFL score which ignoring the important AFC West games. (important as in Broncos scores)

Yet for some reason this year, I’ve had enough for a few years now, the cons have been piling up:

The worst part of the Ray Rice thing was that well respected GM of the Baltimore Ravens suggested that Rice’s wife was to blame and the Ravens Twitter account even tweeted out her apology.  An apology apparently for being violently hit?  The NFL could have also demanded to see the video (“umm, Ray you are suspended until we see all of the sealed evidence”) and it isn’t as if the first videos of Janay Rice laying on the floor of the elevator and Ray Rice kicking her lifeless body to the side wasn’t horrible enough.  If you haven’t seen it, it made me sick to watch it.

No, something is wrong at the NFL.  Roger Goodell is a big part of the problem.  He was going to be the new sheriff that was going to clean up the league and protect the “shield”.  Instead he became obsessed over pot (which is not a performance enhancing drug) which ignoring the bigger issue why so many NFL players are violent towards women, in a league that is trying to aggressively market itself towards women.

In fact, a lower percentage of NFL players are violent towards women than in the general population but because of wealth, status and a stable of high priced lawyers most of those charged, get away without penalty (the worst example of all time is boxer Floyd Mayweather – don’t read this link unless you have some time to get angry).  The other issue is for a NFL player, what constitutes a jury of their peers.  Many people on that jury cheered for him, wore his jersey, and was a fan of the team he was on.  The league is stuck trying to penalize it’s players.  Of course by handing out ridiculous penalties for pot use or for dog violence, you would expect them to give out severe penalties for violently hitting a women.  Nope, those are the lenient penalties which both reflect a problem with the league and society in general.

So yeah, I am fed up with the NFL.  I still love football.  Mark is trying out as a linebacker for the Bedford Road Redmen  err RedBlacks  err Red Hawks.  There is the NCAA, the CIS, or if forced to watch it, the CFL.  I’ll still have football but unless there are some serious reforms in the NFL, I am done.  How do I say to Mark and Oliver that it is never ever okay to hit a women and then sit down and turn on the NFL which condones violence against women.

It’s been a great 26 years of being a diehard Denver Broncos fan but enough is enough.  Roger Goodell has to go and until something changes, I’m out of here.

Turning 40

Today mark’s my 40th trip around the sun without being tossed off.  I guess it also means that I am middle aged.  That being said, Time Magazine once said that 50 is the new 30 so I guess that makes me 25 or so.  Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

To celebrate my birthday, we have spent the last couple of days where it all began; in Edmonton.  Yes I was born in Edmonton.  I don’t like to talk about it because it wasn’t my choice and it is Edmonton after all.

We got up at Sunday at 5:00 a.m., left Saskatoon at 6:00 a.m., were in Lloydminister for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and in Elk Island National Park by 11 a.m.  After talking some photos of some bison, it was off to Edmonton.  Wendy used some Airmiles to book a decent hotel, the boys have spent the last couple of days enjoying West Edmonton Mall and I got out in the warmer weather and took some photos around the city.  I’ll post them online when I get back to Saskatoon.

I don’t really think of Edmonton as home.  I was born there and only lived there a year before moving to Rainbow Lake and then settling in Calgary for a decade.  Growing up as a Calgary Flames hockey fan, I used to despise Edmonton in the same way someone from Springfield thinks of Shelbyville.  Since things have changed (and both Calgary and Edmonton can’t play hockey),it is nice to be back, even if it does mean wandering up and down a mall.

Invicta Watch

For my birthday, the boys gave me a Pentax WG-10 rugged compact camera while Wendy gave me a GoPro 3+ Silver Edition and a really nice Invicta dive watch.  Maggi gave me a Denver Broncos sign that I will hang at the cabin.  Two of the four gifts say, “get outside more often” and after this winter, I can’t agree more.

The plan is to have dinner with the boys tonight at a local restaurant and then head down to Winston’s for a Diet Coke with some friends.

My brother gave me a DeWalt cordless drill and a bit set.  We are planning to build the deck on the cabin this summer and he included his ideas as well.  A 10×10 deck out back and a 8×8 deck in the front yard.  We should have it built in a day.

The Hoth Tauntauns

The Denver Broncos reinvented in the Star Wars universe.

Hoth Tauntauns

Hey look, they just got their butts handed to them by the Toydaria Wattos.

A portrait of Peyton Manning at 37

Excellent story from Grantland

Peyton Manning

What can you imagine Peyton Manning doing? Let’s build him an analogical world. You can imagine him wearing a short-sleeve button-down dress shirt. You can imagine him speed-typing numbers on an old-fashioned adding machine. You can imagine him lining up the corners on a pack of yellow legal pads. You can imagine him carrying coffee. You can imagine him researching lawn mowers. You can imagine him leaving early for work to take the station wagon in for a wax job and sliding Astral Weeks into the CD changer and watching the gray morning light settle on a street full of Dunkin’ Donuts and drive-through bank branches and thinking to himself, This is the time of day I like best.

It’s a cliché to note that he’s got some curious OCD tendencies — all that finger-licking under center,3 those rapid-fire Tourette’s bursts of audibles. What’s incredible is the cumulative effect 10,000 perfectly executed seven-yard reads have had over the years. At this stage in his late career, really for the whole season-plus he’s been with Denver, Manning makes being a midlevel IT manager look like a form of ruthless conquest. It’s as if he wrote a script to install automatic PC updates, and somehow it made him the god-emperor of hell.4 This is how he plays football: He goes out every week with a graphing calculator and a stack of forms, and he just audits teams to death.

Why Tim Tebow won’t make it in the NFL

From Dave Fleming at ESPN

When the Broncos defense was on the field, offensive coaches would often tell Tebow the first series of plays they wanted to run when the team got the ball back. Tebow would nod, and they’d separate. And then, invariably, a short while later he’d ask for the information again. Sometimes this ritual would repeat right up until Tebow had to duck into the huddle and call the play. As a result, despite starting only 11 games in 2011, Tebow was flagged for delay of game an NFL-high seven times. Worse still was the fact that, according to scouts, Tebow almost never audibled because he struggled to quickly and properly read defenses. And of all the deadly sins Tebow committed against quarterbacking, this was the worst: lacking the self-awareness to recognize and fix these shortcomings. Maybe the most shocking part of Tebowmania isn’t that he has been cast out of the NFL after just three years but that he lasted as long as he did.

The weird part about reading this is that when Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow, all he talked about was Tebow’s football IQ.

In a meeting room at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and Tim Tebow sat several feet apart, engaged in animated, rapid-fire conversation about football. They clicked almost immediately.

McDaniels was convinced Tebow was genuine. He came away even more intrigued with Tebow as a player.

Tebow, an All-America quarterback at Florida and the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, felt he had found a kindred football spirit.

“I was jacked leaving that room. I didn’t even want to visit another room. It was not enough time,” Tebow said. “We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.”

The Dave Fleming has this.

But he scored a below-average (for QBs) 22 on his Wonderlic test. As a kinesthetic learner, Tebow absorbs information better through using flash cards and hands-on repetitive experience than the traditional method of memorizing diagrams, notes and Polaroids from a playbook. 

I have taken the Wonderlic (and done quite well on it).  it’s not that hard and if someone does poor on it, I would have some serious questions about their comprehension abilities.  That may not be that important if you are cornerback or a defensive tackle but if you are a QB and you have comprehension problems, it is big deal.

The disturbing question in all of this is why then did Josh McDaniels draft him?  It seems like they bonded personally and that made all of the other issues (like completing passes and reading offences) go away.  

Christmas

Christmas for us started on the 23rd as we joined our good friends Gloria, Jerry, and Kristy for our traditional Christmas together.  It was a bit different this year because of Gloria’s cancer but it was a fun night of exchanging gifts and hanging out.  We gave some books (as is our tradition) but I gave Gloria a Sound Spa which should help her sleep while the boys gave her a plush blanket.

Because I like to make fun of Kristy, we gave her an Edmonton Oilers Snuggie.  Because most of Kristy’s life is dedicated to a) staying warm and b) the Edmonton Oilers, she liked it.

Christmas Eve had Wendy working all day.  This is the worst schedule she has ever had over a Christmas season and it hasn’t been a lot of fun for us as a family but that is the life of people working retail.  I worked part of the day and then headed home to spend the rest of the day with the boys.  We gave the boys two early gifts of some NHLPA hockey sticks so they could play some road hockey during the day. Of course it was freezing outside so instead of playing hockey, we just taped them up.  While she worked, we packed up the Mazda and headed out to Warman where we spent the evening at  Lee and Brittany’s place for a traditional Christmas supper of lasagna and fighting over who got the lasagna leftovers before opening gifts.

Lee is known to master such phrases as “less talking, more chewing” on Christmas Eve.  While he loves lasagna, he loves presents more.  In the past when Wendy was working, he would spend most of the day badmouthing Wendy and trying to convince Mark to open Christmas presents without his mom.  He takes this whole Christmas gift opening seriously.

Of the delay in eating turned costly when Oliver was playing with Tika (Lee and Brittany’s dog) and fell nose first into the edge of the carpet.  There was crying, rug burn, and blood all over the place.  While Oliver’s new shirt paid a steep cost, all was okay.  It wasn’t as if I didn’t expect blood, I just expected it over the lasagna.

Mark

Santa gave Mark a new HTC Desire C Android Smart phonewhile I got him a Fuji AV150 camera (and tripod).  I had created a Instagram, Foursquare, and upgraded his Flickr to a pro account on Sunday.  We made sure we had batteries, SD (and Micro SD) cards all ready to go.  Now we have to download some apps which will mean some quality time on Google Play today.  I gave him a 1932 Chevrolet Truck scale model to build, Oliver gave him some adventure and Star Wars blueprint books (and some Daytona 500 cologne).  He also got a graphic novel story of Canadians in WWII as well as a book on how to create his own graphic novel

In his stocking he found a new watch, a big bottle of the worst cologne known to man, Brut 33 (Wendy wept tears of pain when I showed her the bottle)  Mark also got some high quality headphones; both on the ear and in ear ones.  The less I have to listen to 90s rock, the better. 

Lee and Brittany gave him a Denver Broncos jersey with his name and number on it.  Thank goodness Tim Tebow was traded before the season started.  He was pretty excited with that.  Almost as excited as Tim Tebow gets about everything.

He also got a Starbucks travel mug and gift card from myself.  It’s a bit self-serving as he wanders down to The Lighthouse and takes me out for coffee.  To keep all of his special memories safe, we gave him a small chest to keep some of life’s momentos.

Oliver

All Oliver wanted was a pogo stick and I found him one from Santa on Amazon.com.  I gave him a toy F-22 Raptor jet.  I would have gotten his a F-35 toy but the price kept increasing until Stephen Harper told me not to get it for him.  Mark gave him a rescue play set, a puzzle from the dogs, an Obi-Wan Kenobi lightsaber, and an Optimus Prime Transformer that talks.  He is getting into hockey to I got him some mini hockey sticks and nets.

Lee and Brittany gave him a tricked out big wheel for Christmas.  I immediately thought of this.

Stewie Griffin's tricked out

What’s scary is that I think Oliver would think that was a good idea.

His favourite gift by far was a Power Ranger that transforms into something else.  He was quite jacked about it.  

Wendy

With the new iPod I gave Wendy for her birthday, I gave her a set of iHome speakers and some perfume.  We got her an electric griddle and skillet (she asked for them), a new popcorn maker (which she was really excited about).  Mark gave her a pink Zepco fishing rod which she was horrified of.  Lucky for Wendy, the fishing is horrible in our part of Last Mountain Lake.  We also got her some high quality over the ear and in-ear headphones.  If nothing else she will be able to tune us out for Christmas.  The dogs gave her some new knives and a kitchen scale.  Not sure where they got the money to get those.

Lee and Brittany gave her a gift card for Dutch Growers which made her day.  She’s out right now waiting for spring to hit.

Lee

I bought Lee a Leatherman Skeletool multitool and case.  Mark got him Red Dead Redemption for the PS3, while Oliver got him a George Reed collector’s edition figurine.  Lee and Mark got into an argument a couple of weeks ago where Mark called his uncle, “Uncle Glitter” which has kind of stuck.  Mark got him some glitter stickers for his new iPhone 5.    “Uncle Glitter” didn’t seem to appreciate his nephew’s gift that much.  

He tried to pull his knife on the Skeletool on Mark for bugging him but he couldn’t get it open.  Once he got it open, he cut himself.  

Wendy put together a great beer can chicken gift set of a roasting pan, rubs from Cabela’s, and a grilling recipe book.  I expect some good beer can chicken this summer.

Because Lee was so insistent on lasagna for supper, we gave him a MRE lasagna and a spork as well.  He can now have lasagna while camping.  I think that was his favourite gift.

Brittany

Brittany was given a nice fountain pen, two journals (one lined and one unlined), and an Indigo gift card.  Because both Lee and Brittany are getting new iPhones, we tossed in some iTunes cards as well.  Holding her Indigo gift card was Cooper the Bear which apparently has been a Sears mascot for years (a fact that I did not know).  It just seemed to work well for us.  Brittany is an english teacher and I just think an English teacher with a fountain pen is more intimidating.  It was either that or do what the NRA is suggesting and that is to give her a firearm.

Wendy gave Brittany a soapstone statue of a couple from Ten Thousand Villages which I really liked.  As much fun as it is to bug Lee, him and Brittany are a wonderful couple.

My Haul

I wasn’t expecting too much but Wendy and the boys did a lot of planning and looking for good deals.  Wendy gave me a trail GPS and a George Reed limited edition action figure, Oliver gave me a Toronto Blue Jays hat, Mark gave me Assasin’s Creed II and Red Dead Redemption.  I also got a Leatherman Skeletool.  To balance out my Tim Tebow action figure from last year, Wendy gave me a Peyton Manning action figure.  Lee and Brittany gave me a remote control helicopter.  It flies and crashes quite well around the house.    Also because I don’t smell enough like David Beckham, I was given some of his cologne.  Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  To replace my old barbecue tools (that are showing some age), Wendy also got me a simple set of three barbecue tools which is all we really use.

The advantage to only periodically playing PS3 games is that I never own the new ones which means that Wendy can find me games for $10-$15 at Wal-Mart and it doesn’t matter since I haven’t played them.  

Perhaps the purchase the surprised me the most is that the boys gave me Neptune’s Inferno which is a book about the naval battles at Guadalcanal

I really had no more success than Lee in using my Leatherman today although no blood was spilled.

The photos can all be found here.

Today is being spent around the house setting up things, doing some reading, and then having a more traditional Christmas dinner.  I had hoped to get get down to work but for the second day in a row, someone has swiped our power cords to the car which is frozen solid in this cold.  We had planned to take a long walk downtown today with Mark’s new camera but as the song says, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.  Hopefully your Christmas is a good one and you are enjoying the time with family and friends as well.

Only 11 Years

Today LaDainianTomlinson retired from the NFL.  As a Denver Broncos fan I despised watching Tomlinson carve up the Denver defence season after season but I respect his work ethic and how he played the game.  I watched a 60 Minutes segment on him once on his insane workouts, almost gravity defying workouts, which gets me to my point that despite being an elite athlete and an insane workaholic, even Tomlinson could only play running back for 11 years in the NFL.

Tomlinson won the MVP in ’06, when he set NFL single-season records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing, and 186 points. He ran for a career-high 1,815 yards that year, giving him the first of two straight league rushing titles.

Tomlinson finishes his career with 13,684 yards and 145 touchdowns.

First ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

Christmas 2011

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  After a daring battery run to Walmart on Saturday morning, we met up with the Sieberts for coffee/tea and to exchange gifts and Christmas cheer.  After that we headed out to Warman to Lee and Brittany’s place for Christmas Eve dinner to open gifts.  Wendy talked about the evening over at her blog but I was got some great gifts from Lee and Brittany including some DVDs and When the Gods Changed by Peter C. Newman, an iPad from Wendy, a Denver Broncos hat from Oliver, some big bear head slippers from the dogs, the Steve Jobs biography from Mark, along with a stocking full of fun stuff.  Oh right, Wendy gave Mark, Oliver, and myself a Snuggie for Christmas.  We aren’t happy about it.

On Christmas we went over to the Reimers where I got a really cool book by Gloria’s great uncle Heinz Guderian who was a Panzer commander and later became the Chief of the General Staff during WWII.  He wrote several important books on armoured tactics and I was thrilled to get a copy of one.  It also confirms my belief that if Gloria hadn’t married Jerry, she would be leading a war against a rival country.   Kristy gave me a gift certificate for Indigo! instead of trying to figure out what to get me.  Instead of getting a book to read, I went to Indigo! today and got a big one to write in.  While we were there, we walked over to Best Buy and looked at iPad cases.  We found one that  works for now but I am planning to add a keyboard in the future but they were all out of stock.

Tonight we are chilling out, listening to Moxy Fruvous while taking down the Christmas tree and decorations.  In a couple of hours we will be ready for New Years.

Tebow won but Sparano has to be fired

First the good news.  Tim Tebow lead the Denver Broncos to a win over the Miami Dolphins.  He looked horrible for 55 minutes, good for 5 and got the win.  The bad news has to be for Miami coach Tony Sparano as he lost to Tim Tebow and an untalented Denver Broncos team, his owner doesn’t support him and his starting QB is Matt Moore.  I don’t know how he isn’t fired in the next week.  If I am Sprarano, part of me would be relieved.  He will do some television on NFL Network if he let go and you have to think that a team will hire him as an offensive coordinator next year and hopefully it will be for an owner that isn’t an idiot.  Part of Sparano’s problem has been that he comes from a three yards and a cloud of dust system his entire career (it ain’t pretty but it works) and now he has an owner that wants Showtime.  It’s not going to happen.

The Weekend In Sports

First the positives:

The negatives

  • Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old.  It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay.  Denver is not a very talented team yet.  Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker.  It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
  • What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team.  Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man.  That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in.  Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
  • Dear Buffalo Bills.  You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Really?  Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them.  You should be ashamed.

37 trips around the sun

Lowepro Exchange Messenger Camera BagI turned 37 today.  Not much of a milestone but it was an enjoyable day.  I fell asleep on the sofa last night so I woke up early to the family and a really sore neck.  After some stretching and straining I got up and opened some presents.  Mark gave me a 70-210mm Sigma lens for my camera and a Lowepro Exchange Messenger camera bag while Oliver gave me a DSLR for Dummies book and a new camera strap.

Mini Riddell Denver Broncos helmetWendy gave me a mini Denver Broncos helmet, some new in ear headphones and some upgraded noise cancelling headphones while Hutch and Maggi got me an iTunes card so I could get some music.  The helmet made it’s way to my office and Oliver isn’t pleased.  He sees an Oliver sized helmet and doesn’t understand why there isn’t a football game breaking out.

While the Broncos helmet was pretty cool, our timing was odd with the negotiations breaking down between the owners and the players.  For NFL addicts around the world, it gives new meaning to the Day of Rage.

Keeping with the audio theme, Lee gave me a Best Buy gift card and I picked up some iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers which will be making a trip to Toronto with me in a couple of weeks (as will the noise cancelling headphones).

To celebrate, the family took me out to Alexander’s Restaurant for supper with Michaela and Taylah.  Michaela decided that since we share three hugs a year (our birthdays and on Christmas), we must be family.  I am not so sure.  We just became Facebook friends last year.

Thanks to everyone who emailed, tweeted, and Facebooked today.  I appreciated them all.

What went wrong in Denver

Michael Lombardi writes that ownership didn’t buy into McDaniels plan

When Belichick was hired in Cleveland, Modell had no idea what he had, or what Belichick could eventually become. He never thought in three dimensions, or hired with a plan; he just hoped for success, in large part because Modell based every decision on what the media and the fans thought. Modell had a wonderful heart. He wanted to make his fan base happy, therefore hiring Belichick after winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants was great, and firing him after the fans revolted was also great — never mind he just extended his contract.

Belichick’s success in New England was due to his experience in Cleveland — that Modell financed and Patriots owner Robert Kraft now enjoys. Any time a team hires a young coach or a young executive, one must think in a three-dimensional way. Does he have the aptitude to be a successful leader? Does he have the willingness to grow? Do we have the strength to handle the turbulent times?

Modell paid for Belichick’s education as a head coach, an education that has to be lived, not learned. There are no schools to attend to be a successful coach in the NFL. And just because an assistant works for a successful coach does not ensure success when it comes time for a promotion to the head coach’s chair.

When the Broncos hired McDaniels and turned over all the power to him, they had to understand there would likely be tough times. But did they?

As an outsider looking in, when the Broncos hired McDaniels, I thought they were willing to change the direction of their organization. Having spent a brief time volunteering my services as a consultant to Mike Shanahan, I saw firsthand Denver’s ridiculous spending on players, the failure to have a personnel department, and the constant approach to repair as opposed to rebuild. Therefore, when the Broncos fired Shanahan following the 2008 season and decided to change the course, eliminating the free-spending of the past, the move signaled to me that they wanted to try the Patriot Way, which centers on building a total team through the draft, cut spending in free agency and develop coaches and players from within.

Initially, it made sense to me, as most owners tend to hire the opposite of what they just fired. Firing McDaniels 28 games into his tenure as the head coach is bad for both parties. It wasn’t enough time for the team to be fully developed, or enough time for McDaniels to grow into the job.

And therein lies the problem — the Broncos wanted to change, but were not committed to change. Once they slipped into a different world, they longed to be back to their old ways of doing things. They really love the Bronco Way.

Never mind they have only won one playoff game in the last 12 years. Never mind they lack talent on the field, or are going to be paying three head coaches as a result of McDaniels’ firing. Never mind they might have to take two steps back to move forward. Clearly, this move means the Broncos long for their old days, and potentially bringing John Elway back into the organization signals how much they miss those days.

Jake Plummer on Mike Shanahan

Jake Plummer says the same thing about Mike Shanahan that Les Carpenter said earlier this week.

"I had a coach that, regardless of how well I thought I was playing or how well the majority of fans across the country thought I was playing, it was never good enough for him," Plummer said, not bitter but very matter-of-fact. "And that kind of gets frustrating.

"It just seemed like every game I could have completed these four more passes or these five more shots here and it would have been perfect. And that just wasn’t my personality… But Shanahan wanted perfection and he wore a lot of us down there."

Plummer didn’t sound surprised by the current circus unfolding in Washington, D.C., between Shanahan and Redskins quarterback.

"I think Shanahan is still searching for John Elway," Plummer said. "Somehow, someway, he thinks there’s going to be another guy like John Elway.

"He coached a team to almost perfection [with Elway] so he wanted that again, he wanted that every time we went out there. It’s just not realistic."

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. $99.95 from Amazon

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. | $19.99 (USD) at Amazon.com

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.   $68.91 at Amazon.com

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.  $30 from Amazon.com.  You can get a short sleeve t-shirt for $20.

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.  $50.99 from Amazon.com

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.  $10.08 from Amazon.com

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, “I’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 Post’s 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. $17.79 from Amazon.com

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.

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Searching for the next John Elway

Les Carpenter at Yahoo! Sports has a good article on how Mike Shanahan’s constant search for the next John Elway is ruining his coaching career and the Washington football team.

When it comes to quarterback, the position he played and loved and has nurtured through his 35 years of coaching, Mike Shanahan is never a patient man.

After Brian Griese failed to be the acceptable replacement for John Elway in Denver, Shanahan dumped him. As Jake Plummer proved incapable of running his offense the coach replaced him midseason despite a 7-4 record.

In Shanahan’s quest for the next Elway, no player is infallible, no situation too absurd. If a quarterback displeases Shanahan as apparently Donovan McNabb has done, then he is a candidate for exclusion. Even if fewer than two minutes remain in a winnable game against a team you need to beat.

Shanahan’s late-game benching of McNabb on Sunday against the Detroit Lions still defies logic. And three days of his bungled attempts to explain the decision – claiming first that journeyman Rex Grossman was better-suited than a future Hall-of-Famer to run the two-minute offense, then changing a day later to claim McNabb wasn’t in the right cardiovascular condition to run the two-minute plays – was uncharacteristic of a coach who burns for perfection.

But this year must be so strange for Shanahan, who came to Washington believing the fierceness of his will could make these lousy Redskins a winner the way he always made his Broncos teams competitive in Denver. Halfway through this season, associates say, he has come to realize the team Vinny Cerrato built and left for him is not very good and no level of coaching – no matter how intense – is going to change that.

Those who have worked with Shanahan say his greatest strength, yet also his biggest weakness, is his certainty that he can improve anybody. In the past he has eschewed the good advice of scouts to watch highlight tapes of prospects, choosing to see only the best plays that player made, confident he can coax them to that level as if to say they hadn’t been coached by him.

When they fail to meet those standards he sours on them. Soon they wither and fade away.

And it appears Shanahan has soured on McNabb.