Tag Archives: Notre Dame

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.

How Athletes Go Broke

Basically it is easy come, easy go.

What the hell happened here? Seven floors above the iced-over Dallas North Tollway, Raghib (Rocket) Ismail is revisiting the question. It’s December, and Ismail is sitting in the boardroom of Chapwood Investments, a wealth management firm, his white Notre Dame snow hat pulled down to his furrowed brow.

In 1991 Ismail, a junior wide receiver for the Fighting Irish, was the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Instead he signed with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts for a guaranteed $18.2 million over four years, then the richest contract in football history. But today, at a private session on financial planning attended by eight other current or onetime pro athletes, Ismail, 39, indulges in a luxury he didn’t enjoy as a young VIP: hindsight.

“I once had a meeting with J.P. Morgan,” he tells the group, “and it was literally like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher.” The men surrounding Ismail at the conference table include Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, Cowboys wideout Isaiah Stanback and six former pros: NFL cornerback Ray Mickens and fullback Jerald Sowell (both of whom retired in 2006), major league outfielder Ben Grieve and NBA guard Erick Strickland (’05), and linebackers Winfred Tubbs (’00) and Eugene Lockhart (’92). Ismail (’02) cackles ruefully. “I was so busy focusing on football that the first year was suddenly over,” he says. “I’d started with this $4 million base salary, but then I looked at my bank statement, and I just went, What the…?”

Before Ismail can elaborate on his bewilderment—over the complexity of that statement and the amount of money he had already lost—eight heads are nodding, eight faces smiling in sympathy. Hunter chimes in, “Once you get into the financial stuff, and it sounds like Japanese, guys are just like, ‘I ain’t going back.’ They’re lost.”

At the front of the room Ed Butowsky also does a bobblehead nod. Stout, besuited and silver-haired, Butowsky, 47, is a managing partner at Chapwood and a former senior vice president at Morgan Stanley. His bailiwick as a money manager has long been billionaires, hundred-millionaires and CEOs—a club that, the Steinbrenners’ pen be damned, still doesn’t include many athletes. But one afternoon six years ago Butowsky was chatting with Tubbs, his neighbor in the Dallas suburb of Plano, and the onetime Pro Bowl player casually described how money spills through athletes’ fingers. Tubbs explained how and when they begin earning income (often in school, through illicit payments from agents); how their pro salaries are invested (blindly); and when the millions evaporate (before they know it).

“The details were mind-boggling,” recalls Butowsky, who would later hire Tubbs to work in business development at Chapwood. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”

What happens to many athletes and their money is indeed hard to believe. In this month alone Saints alltime leading rusher Deuce McAllister filed for bankruptcy protection for the Jackson, Miss., car dealership he owns; Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad put his mansion in Charlotte up for sale on eBay a month after news broke that his entertainment company was being sued by Wachovia Bank for overdue credit-card payments; and penniless former NFL running back Travis Henry was jailed for nonpayment of child support.

In a less public way, other athletes from the nation’s three biggest and most profitable leagues—the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball—are suffering from a financial pandemic. Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players’ associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that:

• By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

• Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

The Old Ball Couch Needs a Hug

So the University of South Carolina’s football coach gets criticized in a column and instead of shrugging it off, gets mad at all media and then get this, is now trying to get the columnist fired.  As Yahoo! Sports sees it.

Morris and Spurrier are enemies, we get that, but why penalize the entire media contingent? And why over this? Yes, Morris questions whether Shaw should have played in that game, but I think a lot of people were doing the same. Shaw looked pretty miserable during the bulk of the Vanderbilt game. He sat out the East Carolina game and many thought he should sit out UAB to be ready for the grueling SEC season.

In the end, Shaw’s shoulder proved not to be a big deal against Missouri as he completed 20 consecutive passes in a dominating 31-10 win.

So, I guess it’s kind of a “See, I was right all along” kinda thing to Morris, but still just another example of childish behavior by a coach toward the media, which seems to be happening far more often this year than in the past.

This is where it gets really stupid.

Apparently the contents of the article can not be tolerated by Spurrier in the future.

“I told my wife after the last article, ‘I’ve had it. I’ve had enough,’” Spurrier said. “‘I’m not going to take it anymore. I’ve had enough.’ Almost all of the Gamecocks say, ‘Coach, don’t pay any attention to him, he’s insignificant,’ which he is. He is not an important person. But they’re not having their name and reputation slandered. So, I’m the one. It’s not my mode of operation to not say anything about it. So, this is my voice here. He gets his voice in the newspaper, which he uses.”

The highlight of the segment comes in what Spurrier says next, where he eludes to the idea that he is going to get Morris fired from his job.

“I think we need to make some changes. I think some positive changes are going to happen,” Spurrier said. “They have a little problem over there that we know about, but they’re working on it. Our president and our athletic director, they’re all backing me in this.”

It’s hard to imagine someone saying they’d have taken a job somewhere else while in their current position, but that’s exactly what Spurrier goes on to say.

“When I came here, I didn’t know we had some enemies within our own city,” Spurrier said. “If Mike McGee, when he hired me, had said, ‘Steve, we’re going to give you a chance to run the football program at South Carolina. You hire your coaches, you do your thing, but you have to put up with the local media trying to trash you and try to ruin your reputation and they’ll try to portray you as a mean, evil, self-serving person.’ I would have said, ‘You give that job to somebody else. I’ll wait for the North Carolina [Tarheels] job to open,’ which opened the next year.”

Spurrier closes with reiteration of the idea that getting rid or Morris will bring the community closer together.

“I believe our city is going to be better off because we’re all going to get along better. That’s what it’s all about,” Spurrier said. “We’ve had some serious discussions about things. Basically, I said I’m not taking any more of this stuff that’s coming out of our local paper anymore. If that’s part of the job, I’ll head to the beach. That’s not part of the job. So, we’re going to get it straightened out.”

Like the calm before a storm, there’s a feeling that something major is about to happen in South Carolina. What does this mean for the future of the media that covers Gamecocks football? Will anyone who is critical of the team or Spurrier be subject to discipline? Who will the fans ultimately side with? Whether you like Steve Spurrier or not, it’s almost impossible to not look at what happens next.

I don’t know what the South Carolina media is like but I do follow the Notre Dame Fighting Irish media really closely and they criticize Brian Kelly, Charlie Weis, and even Lou Holtz when they are winning or losing.  It’s part of the job.  Ask Ken Miller how hard the media criticism can be and was one of the most successful Saskatchewan Roughrider coaches ever.  Only in the United States is the “football coach” a title and not a job.  

What’s sad is that this reverence for the “coach” is what leads to scandal like what happened at Penn State and like it or not, columnists like Ron Morris who question these guys are the counterbalance because the Athletic Director and university Presidents can or will not (notable exception was Arkansas in tossing Bobby Petrino).  Steve Spurrier makes $2.88 million a year and has one of the highest profile positions in the state.  With that comes criticism, not coddling.

The shame that is the NCAA

Excellent article on the NCAA in The Atlantic

“I’M NOT HIDING,” Sonny Vaccaro told a closed hearing at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 2001. “We want to put our materials on the bodies of your athletes, and the best way to do that is buy your school. Or buy your coach.”

Vaccaro’s audience, the members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, bristled. These were eminent reformers—among them the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, two former heads of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and several university presidents and chancellors. The Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that takes an interest in college athletics as part of its concern with civic life, had tasked them with saving college sports from runaway commercialism as embodied by the likes of Vaccaro, who, since signing his pioneering shoe contract with Michael Jordan in 1984, had built sponsorship empires successively at Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. Not all the members could hide their scorn for the “sneaker pimp” of schoolyard hustle, who boasted of writing checks for millions to everybody in higher education.

“Why,” asked Bryce Jordan, the president emeritus of Penn State, “should a university be an advertising medium for your industry?”

Vaccaro did not blink. “They shouldn’t, sir,” he replied. “You sold your souls, and you’re going to continue selling them. You can be very moral and righteous in asking me that question, sir,” Vaccaro added with irrepressible good cheer, “but there’s not one of you in this room that’s going to turn down any of our money. You’re going to take it. I can only offer it.”

William Friday, a former president of North Carolina’s university system, still winces at the memory. “Boy, the silence that fell in that room,” he recalled recently. “I never will forget it.” Friday, who founded and co-chaired two of the three Knight Foundation sports initiatives over the past 20 years, called Vaccaro “the worst of all” the witnesses ever to come before the panel.

But what Vaccaro said in 2001 was true then, and it’s true now: corporations offer money so they can profit from the glory of college athletes, and the universities grab it. In 2010, despite the faltering economy, a single college athletic league, the football-crazed Southeastern Conference (SEC), became the first to crack the billion-dollar barrier in athletic receipts. The Big Ten pursued closely at $905 million. That money comes from a combination of ticket sales, concession sales, merchandise, licensing fees, and other sources—but the great bulk of it comes from television contracts.

For me, NCAA football and to a lesser extent basketball is my passion.  I started playing football the year that Notre Dame went undefeated and won the 1988 National Championship.  Tony Rice, Lou Holtz, Michael Stonebreaker, Andy Heck, Rocket Ismael all became heroes of mine as Notre Dame steamrolled over amazing opposition that year.  I still love watching an option offense being run.

It pains me to see age old rivalries destroyed, conferences falling apart, and the nature of the game being changed all for more lucrative television contracts worth billions of dollars and yet athletes aren’t paid a dime.

Don Curtis, a UNC trustee, told me that impoverished football players cannot afford movie tickets or bus fare home. Curtis is a rarity among those in higher education today, in that he dares to violate the signal taboo: “I think we should pay these guys something.”

Meanwhile football coaches average $2 million a season (plus shoe contracts that are generally paid to them), speaking gigs (which they are often allowed to use the private university jet), and endorsement fees, all because of the success of the athletes that play for them.  It’s a sick system.

I can’t help but wonder if the issue is not football but money starved universities desperate for television revenue to pay the bills, cover buildings, and keep on going through recessions.  Underfunded universities and tapped out state governments put university administrators in the tough situation if keeping tradition means the cutting of programs.

I don’t know what the solution is but it’s hard to even pretend that big time college football is anything but a professional sport when you see universities like Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M, the Pac-10, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and others all go crazy for the money and care about very little else.  As a fan of sports, it’s sickening to say the least.

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.

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.

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

Holiday Gift Guides

 

 

Navy now has a winning streak against Notre Dame

This is getting out of hand.

Navy knocked off Notre Dame again and this time the Midshipmen made it look easy.

Ricky Dobbs scored three touchdowns and Alexander Teich ran for 210 yards to lead Navy to its third victory against the Fighting Irish in the last four seasons, a 35-17 rout on Saturday at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

The 84-year old series, which Notre Dame (4-4) once owned like no other in college football history, now belongs to Navy (5-2).

In 2007, the Midshipmen snapped their NCAA record 43-game losing streak to Notre Dame with a 46-44 win in overtime at South Bend, Ind. Last year, Navy did it again, winning 23-21 at Notre Dame Stadium, the first of four straight losses that ended the Charlie Weis era.

Mike Florio on Braylon Edwards

I am a big fan of Pro Football Talk and it’s publisher, Mike Florio.  Today Florio has a great post on Braylon Edwards in which Florio writes about the hypocrisy of the New York Jets and all of professional sports.

Braylon Edwards Francesa’s core message is on the money.  The Jets could have done much more to Edwards, and the idea that they didn’t out of deference to the union is cover for ensuring that a starting-calibre receiver is on the field.

So when you hear any of the various talking heads on ESPN (we noticed several of them doing it today) explaining that the Jets had no choice but to let Edwards play, it’s simply not true.  If the Jets wanted to send a message to Edwards and the rest of the locker room, they could have told Edwards to stay in New York this weekend.

But, as Francesa put it, the Jets care about the Dolphins.  And they want to beat the Dolphins.  And they think that Edwards will help them beat the Dolphins.

What else should we expect?  They traded for Edwards two days after he was arrested for assault.  Nearly a year later, they’re merely sleeping in the bed they made.

It’s not just the Jets, it is all professional sports teams (and I include many NCAA programs in with that).  All they care about winning which translates into making money for the owners.  It’s a world where you can beat your girlfriend and drag her up and down some stairs, not only do you not get cut, you get drafted in the first round.  You can drive drunk, you can bring multiple guns into the locker room and pull them on a teammate.   You can be involved in drug deals, or vehicular homicide.  Look at the clean cut University of Florida Gators, 30 arrests since Urban Meyer has come in as coach.  When you have that many players arrested, something is wrong but as long as Urban Meyer continues to deliver SEC titles and NCAA championships, will anyone in Florida care?

I am a big Bobby Knight fan.  He said one of the most satisfying thing that he did as a coach was win against teams that he knew was cheating because he knew he was playing within the rules.  I wish more university presidents, athletic directors, and coaches felt the same way… at every level.

Contextless Sports Thoughts

The Woods Family Picture :: Tiger, Elin and the kids

  • Interesting article on how IMG is handling the Tiger Woods debacle :: "Specifically," Posner writes, "sources at two of Woods’s corporate sponsors told The Daily Beast that Steinberg has been working furiously to get them to issue public statements demonstrating that they ‘had full faith in Tiger and backed him completely.’" And according to Posner, while Nike is on board with the plan, Gillette and Gatorade are not, and Accenture is wavering. :: I personally think Woods is done as a marketing pitchman and his ability to pitch will be very limited from here on in.  Like Wendy said after reading a news report that said that Tag Heuer was dropping Tiger from it’s latest ad campaign, how do I show her a pamphlet with Tiger Woods on the front and say, “You can give me one of those for Christmas”.  Also, he just didn’t have an affair, he had affairs with women whose lifestyle is not exactly what most Tag Heuer owners ascribe to.  That and the Tiger Woods Tag Heuer watch is one ugly watch.
  • Jay Cutler Dan Pompei has a story on how Jay Cutler needs to grow up and stop being a baby.  He’s another QB that needs to grow up quick or risk having a career trajectory similar to Jeff George.   Mike Shanahan couldn’t get him to grow up, his immaturity lead to him being traded from the Broncos to the Bears (burning bridges as he went) and it ended the honeymoon pretty quickly in Chicago.  We could start a pool on where he ends up next.  Oakland anyone?
  • Pretty big news out of Notre Dame today.  Brian Kelly has been named coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Let’s hope the Brian Kelly era is nicer to us fans than the heartbreaking Charlie Weis era.  Someone does need to Tweet Charlie Weis and get him to update his Twitter profiles though.  You can follow Coach Kelly on Twitter here.

The end of the Charlie Weis era

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Well Charlie Weis is out at Notre Dame.  Notre Dame had an incredible aerial attack but couldn’t run the ball out on close games and had a horrific defense for most of Weis’ tenure.  In the end Weis didn’t beat better teams than Notre Dame and often were beat by inferior teams.

Despite that, I felt really down when they announced his firing.  From all accounts, Charlie Weis is a really good man who recruited athletes that the University of Notre Dame should be proud of.  He was also a great offensive coach but couldn’t hire effective defensive coaches or could not recruit good enough athletes on the defensive side of the ball.  Notre Dame’s front seven constantly lost the war in the trenches and you aren’t going to win too many games if you can’t stop the run.  You also won’t hold many leads if you can’t run out a game and Notre Dame could not.

Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis So what do you do now?  Michael Ventre of MSNBC asks the question, “Would even half of the Florida Gators be able to qualify to enroll at Notre Dame?”  He suggests that Notre Dame needs to lower academic standards to allow better players to qualify.  Dan Wetzel sees it differently, “When Notre Dame gets a good coach again, it will be good again. This isn’t rocket science. Had the Irish snapped up current Florida coach Urban Meyer, a former star assistant, when they could have, there would be no debate, Notre Dame would be Notre Dame.”   Weis signed plenty of players that USC and Florida and others wanted. He had a team that was good enough for nine or 10 wins. He just couldn’t coach them into a viable unit.

Now if I was Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner and for some reason, I was still committed to Eric Mangini as my coach, I would hire Charlie Weiss as my team’s offensive coordinator and see what he can get out of Brady Quinn.  Remember, Brady Quinn is from Cleveland if he can make him into a franchise quarterback or even a QB that can get the Browns into the playoffs on a regular basis, it would energize the Cleveland fan base.  While it isn’t as common now as it was in the 90s, there can still be a role for the superstar offensive coordinator.

Stay Classy Notre Dame

Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen Not all of the details are out but punching Jimmy Clausen in the face after a family dinner isn’t really the way to convince their star quarterback to come back another season.

The group decided to leave after words were exchanged with others at the bar, the official said. As they were leaving, Clausen’s girlfriend realized she left her purse behind. Clausen went back to retrieve the purse and someone followed him outside and punched him, the official said. Clausen did not fight back and left, the official said.

It isn’t Claussen’s fault the Irish are horrible this season and even if it is, I am not sure he deserved a punch to the face.  Nothing like losing perspective at 2:00 a.m. about what is important in this world.

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for the Sports Fan | 2009 Edition

Readers of this blog know that I am a big sports fan.  As a sports fan I know how hard we can be to shop for and along that line I have some suggestions on what to get for your favorite sports fan.  Just a tip.  If you don’t know what his or her favorite teams are, find out before buying for them.  While that Vancouver Canucks shirt is a great deal, I’ll never ever wear it, no matter how much I love the person who gave it to me.  If you are wondering how deep team loyalty goes, I’ll let Rick Reilly from ESPN explain it to you.

The “If Bill Billicheck Coached in the CFL” Rider Hoodie :: With a pair of scissors, you can convert it to a short sleeve model as well.   You can get one of these for any CFL team at the CFL store but let’s be honest, you only need a Saskatchewan Roughriders one. | $89.95 (Can) at the Rider Store

Saskatchewan Roughrider Fans Gather Here Wall Sign :: Not only does this sign look great hanging on your wall, it also let’s your brother-in-law from B.C. know that if he comes over on game day, he is going to get a big wedgie from your friends. | $29.95 at the Rider Store.  Around $25 at other sports collectible places.

Notre Dame Football T-Shirt and the Notre Dame Football Sideline T-Shirt ::  I know the Charlie Weis era has been hard for Notre Dame football fans but better times are coming (we hope).  Either way a Notre Dame t-shirt for you or someone you love shows that you are no bandwagon jumper and you are in this for the long haul, no matter how many times in a row that USC beats Notre Dame.

Saskatchewan Roughriders BBQ cover :: I have one of these at the lake and not only does it look cool, it is a really high quality barbecue cover and is the envy or Rider fans at Arlington Beach. | $69.95 (Can) at the Rider Store but quite a bit cheaper at Canadian Tire.

Calgary Flames Upgrade Crew T-Shirt :: The Upgrade Crew Tee, part of the Reebok Face-Off collection, features:

  • 100% cotton jersey
  • Team name and logo screen printed across the chest
  • Reebok logo located on the left sleeve
  • Ribbed crew neck

Sure you can an Edmonton Oilers version but why would you want to be seen out in public in one? | $24.99 (USD)

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

A customizable NFL team t-shirt or hoodie from NFL Shop.com.  These are great looking short and long sleeve shirts that have customizable front, back and sleeves.  They start about $20 for a basic shirt and can go up to $40 by the time you are done finishing it.

A pair of RB/WR NFL gloves :: If the person on your shopping list played high school football or above, there is a good chance he or she had a pair of these.  While they won’t keep you that warm, they are a great three season glove that can be worn while biking, hiking, or calling plays during the big game from the sideline.

If your better half is like Wendy, they get a little tired of all of this sports stuff laying around.  The Saskatchewan Roughriders have a solution in the form of this great looking gear locker.  This Gamebox fits perfectly in any den, sports room, office etc and is designed with the highest attention to detail and quality. The easy-to-clean Roughriders Gamebox is scratch resistant, and is decorated with the vintage Roughriders logos, enhanced with the 13 man logo and provide the official licensed word marks. Dimensions: 34″w X 18″h X 18 1/4″d | $249.99 (Can) from the Rider Store

Spalding NBA sized Street Basketball :: You need a decent quality basketball for when friends come over or when you step outside and address the 4 for 56 three point shooting streak you are on.  You could use the Spongebob Squarepants basketball your kid bought at Wal-Mart or you can ask for a decent looking Spalding basketball.  While your game may have gone missing, at least you can look like you can still execute a pick and roll, even if you can’t. | $19.59 (USD) from Amazon.com

SIGMA BC906 9-Function Topline Wired Bicycle Speedometer :: The ability to monitor individual rides, and overall training schedules is important to the serious cyclist. The BC 906 tracks your trip, your overall speed, distance, and riding time as well as allowing you compare your actual speed with your average speed. Complete functions include: clock; actual maximum and average speed; comparison of actual and average speed; trip and total distance; trip and total riding time; language selection (seven languages); and low-battery indicator. Also, the BC906’s small, low-profile keeps wind resistance to a minimum, its twist-mount, no tools required design ensures quick installation and its included 3-volt lithium CR2032 battery provides long-lasting power. | $20 (USD) at Amazon.com

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

Speaking of having people over, air hockey is another one of those games that one doesn’t have to be good at to have a good time playing.  Check out this free standing game for some good times.

If you have been to Mosaic Stadium, you know there are two temperatures.  Too hot and too cold.  The Saskatchewan Roughrider store has what you need to survive game day.  Here is your official Saskatchewan Roughrider thermos and water bottle.  Fill it with what you see fit.

University of Saskatchewan Huskies Basketball/Hockey Game Tickets :: It only costs $10 for adult tickets for Huskies basketball and hockey tickets.  While watching a game at Rutherford Arena takes some courage and a seat warmer, watching games at the PAC is starting to have the feel of big time NCAA college basketball.  If hockey is more your style, tickets for the Saskatoon Blades cost $16.57.  My point is that while NBA, NHL, and NFL tickets are really expensive in this economy, there are some great other semi pro, college, and minor sports that are really cheap and a lot of fun.

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.