Category Archives: NFL

Does the NBA Need a Rooney Rule?

US Presswire Sports ArchiveSo far this season, four NBA coaches have been fired or “mutually agreed” to be fired–Mike Brown (Lakers), Avery Johnson (Nets), Scott Skiles (Bucks) and Alvin Gentry (Suns). Three of the four are African-American. They’ve been replaced by Mike D’Antoni, PJ Carlisimo, Jim Boylan and Lindsey Hunter (above), respectively.

Three of the four are white.

When the NFL enacted its Rooney Rule a decade ago (it requires team to interview at least one “minority” candidate for head coach and senior football operations openings), no one suggested the NBA enact a similar edict. That’s because the league had a long and positive history of hiring African-Americans as coaches and senior front office personnel.

Still does. In its most recent “Race and Gender Report Card,” the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida gave the NBA an A+ in the area of minority hiring.

But what’s happened so far this season is a bit troubling. Coaches get fired, not doubt. And among the other 26 NBA teams, 11 are led by an African-Ameerican head coach. That’s not bad, but the trend has worth watching.

In the NFL, solid former coaches with winning records–such as Lovie Smith and Jim Caldwell–were overlooked by ownership, which in most cases decided to go with unproven coaches. (Seven of the eight new NFL coaches have never been head coaches in the league.) And a plethora of talented coordinators was overlooked as well.

The Suns promotion of Hunter, a former player with 17 years of experience and two championship rings, to interim coach at least shows that the NBA is still ahead of its brutish brethren. But not by as much as the league thinks.

How Will the Te’o Madness End?

TeoI have no idea how this Manti Te’o madness will end. Right now, all I know is that I feel as if I’m being duped. I don’t know by whom, or by everyone (including my sportswriter colleagues who are no doubt enduring some serous career soul-searching tonight).

There are still soooo many questions, too many to even articulate. And the answers we’ve received, well, at least for me, don’t quite complete the most bizarre puzzle I may have ever witnessed in this profession.

Of course, the biggest question may be the simplest one: Why?

If Te’o is truly the victim, then why would someone go such machinations to perpetrate this hoax. Is this what passes for fun in the digital age? Is this what our kids have to look forward to, or be wary of? As a friend of mine often says, Who does that?!

If he’s not the victim, then why?

He seems like a fine young man, a spiritual young man–and he’s a terrific football player. He captured our consciousness for his play on the field, for his leadership. And he should have a solid future playing on Sundays.

So why?!

It has been reported that Te’o will speak soon, perhaps has early as Thursday. He must, and he must soon.

Because right now, only he can stop the madness.

Griffin a Victim of NFL’s “Win Now” Mentality

griffininpain1Robert Griffin III (I’m not calling him RGIII again until he’s healthy) had surgery today. According to various reports doctors repaired a torn LCL and examined at previously injured ACL. Rehabilitation is likely to take months.

Like millions, I watched in pain as Griffin limped through the final desperate minutes of Washington’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. At one juncture, as he gamely–but with a clear gimp–tried to lead a Redskins comeback, I tweeted “Get RGIII outta there!” But Mike Shanahan didn’t pay me any mind. And soon thereafter the future–hopefully–of the franchise, and maybe the most popular man in the nation’s capital, was carted off the field.

My immediate reaction was that Shanahan’s fateful decision was to blame. And it is.

And despite the esteemed Redskins team physician Dr James Andrews’s public moonwalking, he was also on the sideline, too, as Griffin remained on the field like a hobbled doe in the sights of a hungry pride.

Yet, this is football. Check that, this is the NFL, where the lives and fortunes of so many rest on moments of success or failure, of grandeur or defeat, of desperation. It was easy for me to think about getting the young quarterback out of there, just as hindsight has prompted millions of others to say, Of course he shouldn’t have been in there!

But my job wasn’t on the line. Not my livelihood. Shanahan was in the moment and that “moment” said win now.

NFL moments are not about tomorrow.

And that may cost the Redskins the quarterback who would have saved the franchise.

Hottest Seat in the NFL? Hey, Jim Caldwell, Take a Load Off…

Most of the participants–peripheral or not–are pretty clear about their desires.

If you’re a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, you want the Colts to lose on New Year’s Day to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That way you’ll lock up what many feel is the next great once-in-a-generation QB, Stanford’s Andrew Luck.

If you’re a Colts player, you want to win. Period. That was never more clear than last night when the Colts came back to defeat the bound-for-the-playoffs Houston Texans 19-16 for their second win of the season. To players, Luck has nothing to do with it. These guys are playing for their suppers.

And then there’s Jim Caldwell, the Colts head coach.

Like any coach, he’d like nothing better than to coach a team with a great (or at least potentially great) quarterback. And Luck’s that guy. Lose and you ensure yourself of going from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck, with just a little bit of Dan Orlovsky.

Win?

Beating the Jags would put Luck in play, with the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams also in the running for the top pick.

And should the Colts lose Luck to one of those team, well, that New Year’s Day win in Jacksonville might go down in infamy in Colts lore.

That said, a Colts win might also allow Caldwell to keep his job.

Might being the operative word.

Had the Colts run the table–or more appropriately, had the table run over them–Caldwell would have almost certainly been fired. Though his record was a sterling 24-8 coming into this season, the stink of 0-16 (along with the still-bitter memory of the Colts failing to “go for” undefeated in 2009, Caldwell’s first season; and losing to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, where the general consensus was that he was outcoached) would have been too much to survive.

That said, owner Jim Irsay doesn’t seem to be the type who over-reacts to short-term aberrations. After all, he paid Manning his full $26 million for this season, even though he didn’t play a down. And he looks to be willing to pay the 35-year-old Future Hall of Famer his $28 million option in March (which would) engage the final four years of his current five-year, $90 million-contract), even though he’s coming off a neck injury that would make his comeback a damn-near a miracle.

It wouldn’t have surprised me if Irsay had retained Caldwell, even if the Colts had gone oh-for’11. Especially since the team would be selecting Luck, giving the coach the kind of gem he should have the chance to coach after enduring this kind of hell.

It also wouldn’t have surprised me if Caldwell had been canned. In fact, he reportedly expected to be fired if the Colts had gone 0-16. It’s the nature of the business–win or go to the television studio.

But the Colts won’t go winless. In fact, they’re one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Okay, not really but after all they’ve been through the deserve to stick their chests out a bit.

But right now I’m not sure if Caldwell feels he’s done enough to save his job. More important, does Irsay believe his head coach deserves at least another year on the sideline?

A victory on New Year’s Day might be enough to help Caldwell retain his headset–but it also might cost him and the franchise dearly.

To paraphrase Dirty Harry: How Lucky you feelin’, Jim?

Great Win, Colts! Or Bad Luck…?

Good for the Colts.

No team should go oh-fer. No matter how bad they may be (and the Colts were never considered one of the NFL’s bad teams), no team deserves that fate. Players are professional, and most of them had pride. Winning the Super Bowl is tough, but every team should at least one game.

Indianapolis finally got it’s win–defeating the mediocre (7-7) Tennessee Titans today, 27-13.

Good for them, but did it hurt them in the long-range, big-picture Andrew Luck derby?

There’s been some “debate” over whether the Stanford quarterback (full disclosure: I’m a Cardinal alum and though Luck should have won the Heisman) should still be the No. 1 pick. But that debate doesn’t include anyone in the NFL, where Luck remains the hands-down No. 1.

All that said, did the Colts, in winning, lose their grip on the young man many believe to be the game’s next once-in-a-generation franchise QB?

Let’s see:

The Colts two remaining games are against Houston and Jacksonville. Both are winnable, given the Texans having clinched the playoffs and that the Jaguars, well, stink. But let’s say the Clots go 1-1, giving them two wins for the season.

There are two other two-win teams–St. Louis and Minnesota.

The Rams will lose their final two games. Write it down. In ink. They play Pittsburgh and San Francisco. So the Rams will finish with two wins.

The Vikings finish the season against Washington and Chicago. They should win at least one of them but could lost both. Just for the fun of it, let’s say they do lose both and finish with two wins, as well.

Now, I’m not going to go through the various Matrix-like machinations that could deliniate the various tie-break scenarios. For the sake of sanity let’s just assume all finish 2-14.

If the Rams Pick, No. 1, they’re not likely to choose Luck because they already have a talented young QB in Sam Bradford, who’s only in his second year. Or would they? How much would Bradford be worth on the trade market–to teams like Kansas City, Seattle or Washington. GIven how woeful the Rams have been I would not be surprised if they hit reset and start over with Luck.

The Vikings? Please. They’d pick Luck faster than Mel Kiper could comb his hair.

So good for the Colts. But until today it seemed clear that the franchise had its heir to Peyton Manning.

Now? Well, it should make the last two weeks of the season very interesting.

God’s Tweet to Stevie Johnson: “I don’t do stupid, dude–and I had nothing to do with those dropped balls!–the REAL Head Coach”

The national reaction to Tim Tebow’s public displays of faith was pretty stunning to me, but again it was not.

He’s not the the first professional athlete to “give God credit” during games. From Mark Bavaro to Barry Bonds to Larry Fitzgerald, athletes in almost every sport have been very public about their faith.

But none have been vilified and mocked like Tebow. Earlier this year, two of those laugh-a-minute Detroit Lions – linebacker Stephen Tulloch and tight end Tony Scheffler – thought it fun to mock Tebow’s prayerful pose after sacking him.

As a christian myself, I wasn’t surprised. Despite the fact that America is known as a “christian” nation, religion is still a lightening rod in many circles, inspiring ridicule (fear?) among some. But I have marveled at how Tebow has handled it all, never wavering nor stooping to the level of the critics or those players who mocked him.

Moreover, he continued to improve, to handle the heat, to win. In doing so, he has demonstrated the strength of his faith more than a thousand images of him bowing on one knee could have.

AP photo

By contrast, we have Buffalo’s talented but stunningly immature wideout Stevie Johnson.

On Sunday, just hours before Tebow led the Broncos to yet another fourth-quarter comeback victory, over San Diego, Johnson scored against the New York Jets and proceeded to put on a display of stupid shenanigans by mocking Jets wideout Plaxico Burress.

Photo by Tyson Trish / NorthJersey.com Staff


How?

By pretending to dance then shoot himself in the leg–an night-club accident that cost Burress two years in prison. Not funny.

What was funny was that Johnson, who professes to be a christian–remember his tweet blaming God for another dropped ball last season?–dropped three potential game-winning passes in the final minute.

Clearly, God don’t like stupid.

RSJ note: Johnson seems to have realized the massive error of his ways. He has apologized to Burress and the world.

NFL Predictions, Sunday, November 27 (Week 12)

If nothing else is certain, know that prone linemen are safe today from the cleats of Ndamukong Suh. He and the Detroit Lions are at home watching today, where Suh himself will likely be for what should be the next two Sundays.

As for the rest of the league:

Cincinnati over Cleveland

Indianapolis over Carolina (yes, the Colts, now firmly ahead on the Luck ‘stakes, will finally have a reason to smile)

Atlanta over Minnesota (If Colts get on a “run,” could Vikes sneak into the Luck Bowl?)

Houston over Jacksonville

Buffalo over Jets (NY sports talk radio is just too much fun in times like these)

Rams over Cardinals (Anyone think the Eagles should have kept Kolb now?)

Bucs over Titans (TB cannot be as bad as they’ve been this season)

Oakland over Bears (Tough to win first game after losing starting QB)

Seattle over Washington (Zzzzz)

Denver over San Diego (Elway still isn’t convinced)

Pittsburgh over Kansas City (Chiefs earlier run was a mirage)

Saints crush Giants

Enjoy!

A Delusional Suh Must Finally Slow It Down

“I was with him until the stomp.”
Howie Long, Fox Sports analyst

“Maybe I could believe him if there was not a history.”
Sterling Sharpe, CBS Sports analyst

“He doesn’t get it.”
Bill Cowher, CBS Sports analyst

I love Ndamukong Suh. Loved watching him play from the moment I first saw him dominate a football game from all fours–as a defensive lineman, something I could not recall ever seeing in my entire life.

That was when he was in college, at Nebraska, where he looked like the huge kid in Pop Warner who caused parents of opposing players to rail that he should not be on the field.

Ndamukong Suh could hurt somebody!

He still can. He’s the most dominant defensive player in the NFL not named Derrell Reavis.

Reavis Island? How about Mount Suh. Or a Suh-valanche, a mass of humanity that rolls through offensive linemen and buries anything unfortunate enough to be carrying a football.

And yet. He’s got to reign it in.

He’s got to reign in the fury that prompted so many penalties and fines that he requested a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell about what he was and was not allowed to do in the NFL.

He’s got to reign in the fury has now caused him to receive two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this season – the latest on the national stage on the day in which we are asked to give thanks.

With the Lions hanging in against undefeated Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day, Suh shoved the head of Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith into the ground then stomped on his arm as Suh was rising and players were being separated for what was a minor scuffle. He was ejected. Green Bay, which was at the time leading only 10-0, began to pull away, soon taking a 21-0 lead. The Packers ultimately won 27-15.

Afterward Suh was only what just about everyone described as delusional. He claimed to be trying to regain his balance and added that “the man upstairs knows what I did.”

Yeah, dude, the man upstairs knows you shoved Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground and stomped him!

Now, it is clear and unequivocal: Suh must reign in his fury before he becomes a simple of what we all don’t want our kids to see. Rather than being an icon, he’ll soon become an idiot.

Or Albert Haynesworth. Why Albert? Remember when he stomped an opponent in the head in 2006? In that instance, criminal charges were discussed but not filed. Haynesworth was suspended five games without pay.

I love Ndamukong Suh. But he needs to reign it in.

This time, Roger Goddell is calling him.

Monday (11/28/11) appears to be a day of repentance, at least for recalcitrant NFLers. On the same day Buffalo wideout Stevie Johnson apologized for his histrionics, Suh reportedly called Goodell and apologized for his Turkey Day Stomp. Suh will still likely be suspended at least two games.

Who Needs the NFL Combine? Not me!

Smoke 'em if you got 'em? Mallet ain't sayin'

I hate the NFL combine. I really do. Oh, I understand why it’s necessary. It allows teams to come together and scrutinize their future millionaires (hey, even if there is a rookie wage scale, these kids will still make more than you or me) in a controlled environment, the better to make the kind of assessment necessary before making a commitment.
I get that. Still hate the combine.
I hate it for much the same reason I hate how some companies evaluate some future employees: they focus on what the person can’t do rather than on what they can.
And usually that approach targets the most talented skill players. The QBs. The WRs. The RBs.
The Cam Newtons and Ryan Mallets.
Both young and talented QBs may have hoisted proverbial “red flags” with actions and/or comments in recent days that seemed to mitigate almost everything they did on the field on college.
Some guy from the Tennessee Titans asked Newton why he ran a QBs sneak rather than taking a knee on the final play of the national championship game.
Apparently, Newton became defensive with his response.
Frankly, I would have just showed the dude my championship ring.
Millet seems haunted by rumors that he may or may not have used drugs in college.
Another relatively obscure guy – SF 49ers GM Tony Softli told ESPN Radio: “A lot of guys are comparing Mallett to Ryan Leaf.”
Franky, Tony, I’d be more concerned if they were comparing him to Alex Smith, your former No.1 (slash bust) QB.
On Sunday, Newton missed several passes in drills, passes to receivers he’d never played with.
Uh oh, red flags.
Mallett, by contrast, played well on Sunday, emerging from the three-, four- and five-step drop drills as the top QB.
Good for him. Now can we just end the combine?
If “guys” don’t know that they know by know, they don’t know anything.

Cam Newton apparently got defensive when

Daddy Cam = Mommy/Daddy Bush?

Was Cam's sig worth $200,000 to Auburn?

Oh, I bet the Heisman folks are fidgeting right about now.
The news this morning that someone – maybe or maybe not working on behalf of someone maybe or maybe not related to Auburn QB/Heisman fav Cam Newton – was telling schools it would take $200,000 to sign the player out of junior college last year really isn’t “news,” now is it?
Not just weeks after SI’s illuminating story of an agent gone wild, and in the wake of the revelations regarding Reggie Bush’s apparently lucrative days at USC, which led to USC being slapped with probation and Bush being stripped of his Heisman.
So we’ve seen this movie.
Nothing has been proven, of course, and the NCAA (God bless ’em) is investigating, which means Newton will be leading the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl before any findings are announced.
But you have to believe something is amiss. And that’s too bad because it’s already tainted a very talented and seemingly fine young man.
In many ways, agents, cash and greedy relative are college sports’ “steroids” issue.
And just as the drug saga dragged baseball into the pits before the game decided enough was enough, it will likely have to get a whole lot worse for college sports this madness ends.
If it will ever end at all.