RSS

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Creating Sports Memories

I have been lucky enough to be a part of some truly amazing games that my favorite teams have been involved with over the years.  Louisville basketball and football as well as the Baltimore Ravens have been a part of so many fantastic memories I will always have as a sports fan.  Some of the memories I have were from being at the games live, while others were simply unforgettable moments that I watched on TV.  With many of the games that come to mind immediately, I can tell you where I was, who I was with and what I was doing.  These memories that have been created by teams that I have given so much of my energy, emotion and time to for the majority of my life are why I love sports.

If you’ll allow me, I’m going to indulge myself and discuss some of the greatest memories I have as a sports fan.

Baltimore Ravens:

  • Baltimore 34 New York Giants 7, 2001: Let me start with the obvious one.  Super Bowl XXXV.  This was a while ago, but I still remember it rather clearly.  I still lived in Louisville and was in 6th grade.  I recall arguing back and forth on the bus during the week leading up to the game with some family friends that had moved from New York to Louisville.  They were Giants fans and I obviously wanted everyone to know the G-Men sucked and the Ravens were going to win the game (which they did handily).  I remember yelling and jumping up and down in my living room when Jermaine Lewis ran back an 84 yard kick return to cap an insane 21 points (14 for Baltimore and seven for New York) in under 30 seconds.  I am 100% sure I would feel a greater emotional attachment to a Super Bowl victory as an adult who not only was able to live in Baltimore and be around the team, but gets the game of football and knows how special it is. Side note: my dad made delicious buffalo wings and chili for dinner.
  • Baltimore 44 Seattle 41- overtime, 2003:  What is now the second greatest Ravens game I have attended, in 2003, Baltimore was able to cap one of the most incredible comebacks in NFL history.  Anthony Wright (who???) was their starting quarterback that day against the Seahawks.  Matt Hasselbeck absolutely tore it up throwing 5 touchdown passes and led Seattle to a commanding 34-17 lead (this was back before the Ravens offense realized it actually needed to help the defense if they wanted to win football games).  At this point people started to leave, but since it was the first Ravens game I attended I made it clear to my dad I had no intentions of leaving M&T Bank Stadium early.  What a wise decision that turned out to be.  Due to some lucky calls and Anthony Wright playing better football than anyone ever thought he could, the Ravens came back to win in overtime.  This still stands as one of the best games I have ever seen live in any sport.  The only reason I say it is number two in terms of Ravens games now is because of how amazing beating the life out of Pittsburgh in week one felt. 

 

Louisville Football

  • Louisville 26 #4 Florida State 20 – Overtime, 2002: This was one of the biggest games in Louisville football history.  I was supposed to go with my grandmother, but the pouring rain changed those plans.  No one wanted to go with me, and my parents wouldn’t stand for me to go by myself in the downpour (it seemed like a much better idea to 8th grade me).  I will forever remember Dave Ragone playing his heart out at quarterback in the monsoon weather.  I Will forever remember Anthony Floyd intercepting Chris Rix on Florida State’s first over time possession.  I will absolutely never ever forget the feeling that ran through my blood when Henry Miller ran 25 yards for a touchdown on Louisville’s first offensive play of overtime to win the game.  There is nothing better than making a statement against the number four team in the country, and then watching the goal posts get taken down.  I will never forgive Mother Nature for not allowing me to attend this amazing spectacle. 

 

  • The majority of the 2006 Orange Bowl run:  The Cardinals started off the season by absolutely throttling those guys in blue, but the sweet victory was not without a price.  Our star running back Michael Bush (who for some reason was still playing late in the third quarter even with a huge lead) broke his leg and was forced to miss the rest of the season.  After a first half where he seemed primed to be in the Heisman conversation, his season, and thus college career, ended in the blink of an eye.

- A few weeks later, we proved we were for real by handling Miami at home. I remember watching that game at a Green Turtle sports bar with my dad and sister on the way to Ocean City for the weekend.  It was a worthwhile detour.  It didn’t get much more satisfying than beating West Virginia in a “blackout” game in Louisville.

-This Louisville team was perhaps an off-sides call on William Gay on a missed Rutgers field goal away from making the national championship game.  Instead, Rutgers was allowed to re-kick and win a game that the cards seemingly had in the bag.

-Louisville’s BCS fate came down to the last game of the season between West Virginia and Rutgers.  It was quite simple, if Rutgers won, Louisville doesn’t make the Orange Bowl, If WVU won, they do.  Along with a large number of family members (also Louisville fan’s), I watched the game at the bar at the venue that was holding my cousins Bat Mitzvah party in Birmingham.  West Virginia went on to win and Louisville represented the Big East in the Orange Bowl.  My dad and I were able to go to the game, and through a pretty amazing EBay excursion, we found tickets about 15 rows up at the 40 yard line complete with a parking pass and tickets to the pregame Orange Bowl party for people on the committee.  I was able to take my picture with the trophy and meet coach Dennis Erickson, which was pretty awesome.  We also ate Dinner the night before the game at the table next to Muhammad Ali (Louisville’s honorary captain for the game).  Louisville won too.

Louisville Basketball

I could write for days about all of the amazing Louisville basketball games I have seen and attended over the years.  Louisville basketball is my passion in terms of sports.  I give the most attention, time and stress to them.  I have probably lost years off of my life because of the knots they are constantly forcing to be tied inside me.  I just want to jot down some quick memories that I won’t go into detail about just because I will feel bad if I leave them out.

  • Edgar Sosa burying the game winning three with 2.3 seconds left against Kentucky in 2009.  

 

  • Reece Gaines and Bryant Northern leading one of the most incredible comebacks I have ever seen in the last 30 seconds against Tennessee in 2001.

 

  • Watching Darius Washington Jr. melt to the ground after missing two of three free throws with no time left on the clock that would have tied or won the game.  

 

  • Taquan Dean Hitting a three to send the game to overtime against Notre Dame in 2006.  I was sitting about even with where Dean hit the shot about five rows up.
  • Seeing Reece Gaines, Francisco Garcia, and Jerry Smith all hit game winning three’s against Marquette.  Coach Crean wasn’t too fond of those.
  • Coming back to beat Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament in 2011.
  • Winning the Big East regular season and tournament titles in 2009.
  • Attending my first game at the nicest arena in college basketball, The KFC Yum Center, in 2010.
  • Watching Louisville overcome an 18 point deficit led by Preston Knowles to come back and beat Marquette on my birthday in 2011

These are just a few of the amazing memories I have that I will never forget as a Louisville basketball fan. Now, onto two of my favorite memories.

  • Louisville 78 #1 Syracuse 68 – Final Game in Freedom Hall, 2010:  This was one of the most emotional day’s I have ever been a part of as a Louisville fan.  54 years of history has taken place inside Freedom Hall, and I was there to see it all end.  My dad and I were able to procure second row seats behind the Louisville bench (thank you Grammy), which was pretty amazing.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house during the pregame introductions.  There was an aura in the arena unlike anything I had ever felt before.  You thought Louisville was playing for a national championship instead of scraping for one of the last spots in the NCAA tournament.  There was no way the crowd would let them loose.  The fans refused to leave the caramel corn scented arena for the last time with a loss to anyone, let alone the number one team in the country.  Led by Kyle Kuric (King stay the King), who at the time was lucky to play more than five minutes a game and seemed to be nothing more than your average white boy, Louisville willed its way to victory.  Kuric scored all 22 of his points in the second half, much to the crowds delight.  Not a single person sat down after half time, and the building was literally shaking for nearly the entirety of the last 20 minutes.  I had no voice left following the game.  This was a truly magical game that I will never forget.  

 

  • Louisville 93 West Virginia 85- Elite 8, 2005: I watched this game at one of my oldest friends houses in Louisville.  We have been friends since Kindergarten where we attended Sunday School with Ms. Paula.  He is also the only other person I know who is as insane as I am when it comes to Louisville basketball.  He had just lost a close soccer game and by the time he had returned to his house, West Virginia had a commanding lead and he chose to watch the remainder of the first half by himself.  We chatted at halftime about how we couldn’t lose this game.  Francisco Garcia, Taquan Dean and Larry O’bannon would not let that happen.  We had come too far to loose now.  Louisville basketball would NOT get Pittsnogled.  Sure enough, after being down 18 at halftime, we saw an amazing second half comeback to send it to overtime.  Francisco Garcia (clearly Louisville’s best player) fouled out and Taquan Dean was suffering from a terrible case of leg cramps to the point he couldn’t run even if he tried.  It didn’t matter though.  Louisville dominated overtime and went on to the Final Four.  We jumped, yelled, screamed, hugged and probably shed a tear.  I want that feeling again.

Anyway, finally to the point of this whole thing.  If you know me well, you know I am not a huge baseball fan, but I will attempt to root for the Orioles.  I have never really had one of these memories that will stick out in my head forever to go along with any Orioles game.  I was too young to appreciate Cal Ripken for what he was (he was one of my favorite athletes as a young kid, but I never could have known just how great he was when he retired), and they have been so bad for so long.

This year was no different for the O’s who again, finished in last place with a record of 69-93.  They Lost the cities interest quite early and instead of being able to go to one of the most beautiful ball parks in all of Major League Baseball, Baltimore sports fans probably preferred to sit in their air conditioned homes and wait for the lockout to end and the Ravens to return to the forefront.

Wednesday night however, in a game that meant absolutely nothing for the Orioles aside from the pride of winning a game, was different.  They came out and played with the heart that had not been there for most of the season.  They looked like they wanted to win more.  They had totally embraced the role of spoiler and the games were actually somewhat fun to watch on TV (I tend to have a very tough time watching baseball on TV).

They also gave me something I have been lacking from a team I root for.  I finally got my distinct memory that will stick with me forever as an Orioles fan.  Sure, their season was over as soon Nolan Reimold crossed home plate off of Robert Andino’s walk off double, but it doesn’t matter.  The Orioles were part of one of the most exciting nights of not only baseball, but sports, in a good while.  It took all of three minutes for the Red Sox collapse to become official.  What are the odds the just three minutes after Reimold’s walk-off, Evan Longoria smacks a walk-off home run against the Yankees?  It felt like a night of faith.

My team might not be making the playoffs this year (or anytime soon), but I will not soon forget this game.  Hopefully this group of O’s uses this final stretch of the season as a jumping off point for next year and can maybe have some success.  No matter what, this Orioles game, and entire night of baseball showed why I love sports.  It is the greatest reality TV out there.  It brings people together and helps form memories and lives.

I can’t wait to work in sports.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Week 3 NFL Notes

-I’ll start with the story that seemed to take over the weekend.  The Eagles are in bad shape right now.  Mike Vick is getting tossed around like Raggedy Anne in the backfield and now has a contusion in his non-throwing hand, their offensive line is god-awful and their defense simply can’t tackle.  What do we make of this rough start for the now 1-2 “Dream Team”?

For most teams it would be easier to say they will continue to struggle, or that they will be just fine.  This Eagles team is tough to tell.  If Mike Vick is healthy, getting the protection he needs, and playing at a high level, they can be great.  If he keeps getting banged up and the defense continues to play sloppy, they could very easily wind up in the cellar of their division.  The NFC East is a very tough division and if they don’t solve their problems soon they could be in trouble.  Also, no quarterback other than Tom Brady gets the treatment Mike Vick wants.  He just needs to shut up and play.  If he wants to complain about something, he should tell his offensive lineman to keep him clean.

-Congratulations to the Bills and Lions for starting 3-0 and ending long loosing streaks to their opponents.  I’m thrilled that I picked the Bills game wrong.  I knew it would be high scoring, but I wasn’t sure if the Bills were quite ready to take that next step and actually beat the Pats and start 3-0.  Kudos to them for proving me wrong.  This Bills offense is running like a well-oiled machine.  Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like a pro bowler, as does Fred Jackson.  Even though they have played two very good offenses the last two weeks, their defense still needs to step up and prove it can keep teams off the scoreboard.  Tom Brady may have had four interceptions, but I believe three of them were tipped.  This Bills team just might be for real, and I know I will be rooting for them.  The Patriots and Jets better not rest on their laurels; they will be in a dogfight for not only the division, but for a wild card spot.

The Lions managed to overcome a 20-0 halftime deficit and rallied to win in overtime.  Matthew Stafford continued his amazing start to the season and the Vikings, well, collapsed hard again.  I have never seen a team have such commanding leads in the first half of three straight games and somehow find a way to blow all of them.  Who is to blame for this?  Most will blame McNabb and call for their number one pick Christian Ponder to come in, but that would be foolish.  He needs to sit and learn for the majority of the season, and these losses are also not squarely on McNabb.  You also must look to the coaching (still…Is Brad Childress still there?  Are they messing with us?) as well as the defense letting teams back into games. The Lions are rolling and the Vikings are in trouble.  I don’t think it will get old to see the Lions have success, at least for a couple of years.

-The Colts, without question, outplayed the Steelers on Sunday night.  There is no way in hell this game should have been close with how bad the Colts have looked thus far.  Hats must go off to the Colts defense for doing everything they could to keep them in the game.  Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis were animals coming off those ends and getting to Ben, but the two of them and the rest of their running mates couldn’t do everything.  It really comes down to the fact that Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter just won’t cut it for the Colts.  Collins played better than he had the first two weeks, but Painter, although he did lead a huge touchdown drive, overthrew and unbelievably wide open Pierre Garcon, and pretty much handed the ball to Troy Polamalu along with a hand written invitation to run it back.  The Steelers defense, for the second time in three weeks, didn’t appear quite themselves, and to be honest, didn’t deserve that game.  I have to give a ton of credit to the Colts for not giving up on the season and continuing to battle even with Thing One and Thing Two at quarterback.

-Baltimore had a very nice bounce back win on Sunday against the Rams.  They did exactly what they were expected to do, and in big.  The biggest piece of the victory for the Ravens is without a doubt the progression of second round pick Torrey Smith.  After hearing questions about his skill and development all over Baltimore since the start of pre-season, he finally got involved, and it was quite a statement.  I hope for his sake (and mine as a fan) that he has turned the corner and is finally comfortable and confident in his role within the Ravens offense.  It will be interesting to see what he does next week against the Jets, especially since Antonio Cromartie will miss the game.

-I would just like to point out that I called the Oakland upset over the Jets and it felt pretty damn good.  While Sanchez didn’t have that bad of a game as I thought he might, the defense let up 171 yards and two touchdowns to Darren McFadden, which they can never do if they want to win games.  The Jets life doesn’t get any easier the next two weeks as they are at Baltimore this weekend, followed by playing at New England.

-Congratulations to Cam Newton for getting his first NFL win.  He may not have had the stats of his first two games, but he led his team to victory in a monsoon, which he hadn’t done before.

-How in the world did the Cardinals loose to the Seahawks?  That just doesn’t make sense to me.  Maybe Sidney Rice will be a bit more of a difference maker than I thought.  I didn’t think anything could save T-Jax (not that his presence saves him as the future by any stretch of the imagination).

-You can’t help but feel horrible for Kenny Britt.  He was having such a great start to his season.  It’s never fun to watch someone go down with a bad knee injury.  Hopefully he has a speedy and successful recovery and can come back next season just as strong.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Week 3 NFL Picks

I know I am two weeks late in starting up my picks for NFL games, but I started the blog directly following week one and last weekend I was out of town and unable to get a post up.  I was also riding high on Louisville’s big W over Kentucky and nothing could distract me from the glory that came from that win.  It was long overdue; as the last time the Cards came out on top I was a senior in high school.  They also won the Orange Bowl that year.  Oh how times have changed…KRAGTHORPEEEEEE!

Anyway, I digress.  Week two left a pretty sour taste in my mouth as a Ravens fan.  It never feels good to follow up an enormous, tone setting win with an ugly, bad loss.  Since I’m already talking about them, what better place to start than with the Ravens week three matchup.

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) @ St. Louis Rams (0-2)

Tennessee came out and embarrassed the Ravens last week.  While they held Chris Johnson to next to nothing, they let Old-Man-Hasselbeck throw for 358 yards.  This is unacceptable against a team that isn’t supposed to be good with a new quarterback who didn’t have any offseason training programs to get comfortable with his new offense.

This game clearly isn’t going to be a measuring stick for the Ravens season, and I hope it will actually help them in the long run.  They are a very good team, but it is still the NFL and if you let your guard down for one second, you will get beat.  No matter how bad the team you are playing is, they are still professionals for a reason.

The Rams at 0-2 are still trying to find their identity and are already pretty banged up.  Danny Amendola is most likely out again, and even if they can go, Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, and Cadillac Williams will all not be playing at 100%.  With that being the core of their offense, I don’t foresee any drastic improvements coming from them this week.  The good news for the Rams is they are never out of the race for the NFC West.

I believe the Ravens will come out Pissed off and ready to knock some heads around after getting embarrassed last week and the Rams might be the unfortunate sacrificial lamb.  27-10 Ravens.

New England Patriots (2-0) @ Buffalo Bills (2-0)

I must admit, I never would have expected the Bills to open up at 2-0.  Ryan Fitzpatrick has been outstanding so far, and Fred Jackson leads the NFL in rushing yards after two weeks.  Their offense has seemingly been unstoppable, but they have benefitted from playing Kansas City and Oakland.

The Patriots are who we thought they were.  They are still very good.  As much as I hate him, “The Golden Boy” has been absolutely on fire so far.  I do feel this team should enjoy its overwhelming success while it lasts.  Not to say they won’t be there until the very end this season, but this is not a running team, and once it gets cold out and the field shortens, I see them having some trouble.  By that time, teams will be more cohesive and have significantly more film on what Belichick is doing.  That said, for now, I don’t see anyone slowing Brady down.

This game should see a lot of points being put on the board, but I just don’t see the Bills ready to take that step yet.  It’s been 15 straight losses for them, and if there is one pick this week that I hope I am very wrong on, it’s this one.  I would love to see the Bills pull it out in front of their home crowd, but I just don’t see it happening quite yet. 42-38 Patriots.

Jacksonville jaguars (1-1) @ Carolina Panthers (0-2)

If ever there were a player in the NFL who didn’t deserve to start 0-2 based on his level of play alone, it’s Cam Newton.  I wrote about him after week one, and he continued his record setting start in the NFL, this time against the defending champs defense.  I look for him to absolutely shred Jacksonville.

The Jags are a very bad football team and I can’t see them getting any better in the short term by starting Blaine Gabbert.  I don’t think “Sunshine” will turn out to be much of an NFL QB, but I also said that about Newton, so that probably means he will be great.  For now though, MJD can’t do it all.  Cam will get his well-deserved first win with ease.  27-7 Panthers.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

The 49ers better hope that Alex Smith can play.  They can feel sorry for themselves all they want about that demoralizing loss to the Cowboys last weekend, but if Smith doesn’t play, this game might become unwatchable.  Neither of these teams are very good to begin with, and Colin Kapernick will not help that cause in any fashion.  That said, I’ve been impressed with these teams so far.  Despite all of their glaring flaws, they both play hard and don’t want to believe they are part of the armpit of the league, unlike Kansas City and Seattle.  It might be ugly, but this should be a close, hard fought game.  17-13 49ers.

Miami Dolphins (0-2) @ Cleveland Browns (1-1)

The Dolphins confuse me.  They have a bunch of good pieces in place.  Their defense is strong, they have a good receiving core, and Chad Henne seems to at the very least be improved from the last two years, which might not be saying much.  Their running game definitely needs help, but I feel Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas complement each other nicely for the time being.  And yet, for some reason, they sit at 0-2.

The Browns are definitely a team on the rise and will continue to improve throughout this season and the next few years.  This team will definitely beat teams is has no business beating, but it will also blow some games it shouldn’t loose.  I believe they have finally made the transition from one of the leagues really bad teams to one of the leagues good-bad teams.

This game will be close, but I see the Dolphins coming out with a sense of desperation.  If they loose this game, I could see the team slowly quitting, and Tony Sparano winding up unemployed before the season is over.  They need this one more and will find a way to step up and win.  24-17 Dolphins.

Detroit Lions (2-0) @Minnesota Vikings (0-2)

The Lions are one of the most fun stories in the NFL this year.  You can’t help but hope they succeed.  They have been so awful for so long, it’s actually fun to see them winning games.  I’m calling it now; Matthew Stafford will be a Pro Bowl quarterback IF he can stay healthy.  Calvin Johnson sure helps his cause.  Also, just because I feel like mentioning him, Ndamukong Suh is an absolute monster and a new idol of mine.

As for Donavan McNabb and the Vikings, this will not be the week they turn it around.  They have a different problem than other bad teams in the league.  They can compete, they just can’t seem to finish games.  They have talent, but just can’t seem to put all the pieces together.  The Lions are on a roll and will continue to win.  God I hope they make the playoffs.  31-17 Lions.

Houston Texans (2-0) @ New Orleans Saints (1-1) 

This has the potential to be the game of the week.  I love watching games with that have two of the most explosive offenses in the league and two extremely mediocre defenses.  It always sets up for a fun game, unless you really want to see defense.

I don’t really see the Texans getting threatened in their division this year unless they collapse and allow themselves to be threatened, but the Saints are a different story.  Atlanta and Tampa Bay are both playoff contenders, and even though Carolina isn’t there yet, Cam has proven he will at least keep them in ball games thus far.  This game will be close, but not only does New Orleans need this big game more, I think they are a superior football team, and they do not loose in the dome.  38-31 New Orleans.

New York Giants (1-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) 

The Giants have more injuries than they know what to do with.  You can’t help but to feel sorry for them that only two weeks into the season they are already in dire straights.  I also have unbelievably little faith in Eli Manning.  I just don’t trust him and that damn body english kills me slowly inside every time I see it.

The Eagles are very good and I’m sure since he has already been practicing, Michael Vick will play.  I don’t really think this one will be very close.  Not only is it in Philly, but, injuries aside, the Eagles are just better.  31-13 Eagles.

Denver Broncos (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1) 

The Titans are staying at home this week coming of their huge win over the Ravens.  This Titans team could wind up surprising a lot of people if they can play at a high level, as they did last week.  Kenny Britt is a very good young receiver and Matt Hasselbeck may be old, but he still has some tricks up his sleeve.  The scary thing about the Titans is they haven’t even been able to get Chris Johnson going.  Look out when he finally gets his game legs under him.

The Broncos are another team that isn’t very good this year. I feel like I have said that a fair amount already and still have some bad teams left to cover, but I think the lockout had much more of an effect on the amount of bad teams than many realize.  The Titans will continue to play strong and handle business at home.  24-13 Titans.

New York Jets (2-0) @ Oakland Raiders (1-1)

I think I’m going to go out on a limb here.  This is going to be my upset pick of the week.  The Raiders offense has been extremely efficient thus far and yes, the Jets defense is great, but everyone has an off week.  I might be delusional, but look for Darren McFadden and Michael Bush to have big games in Oakland’s backfield and I’m feeling like Mark Sanchez will have one of those terrible Mark Sanchez games.  I’m probably wrong but what the hell.  27-23 Oakland.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) @ San Diego Chargers (1-1) 

The Chargers are coming off a big loss to the Patriots that I’m sure they were none to happy about.  The Chiefs absolutely SUCK and now their best player, Jamal Charles, is on IR.  They will loose badly…again.  45-10 Chargers.

Green Bay Packers (2-0) @ Chicago Bears (1-1)

This game is also up there for most intriguing game of the week.  In a rematch of last years NFC title game, Chicago will most definitely be out for some revenge on one of their biggest rivals.  After a strong showing in week one, the Bears really struggled last week against the Saints.  I’m sure being back at home will re-energize them and they will come out much sharper.

As great as the Packers have looked so far, I see the Bears stealing this one, as they need to keep pace with the Pack and the Lions (?!?).  24-21 Bears.

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (0-2) 

Arizona is a better team than they have played like in the first two weeks.  They have a new quarterback and I think as the season goes on they will continue to improve and Kevin Kolb will come into his own.  The Seahawks and Tarvaris Jackson will not.  They are right up there with Kansas City and Indy in the battle for the top pick.  I haven’t seen anything positive to say about them yet.  31-9 Arizona. 

Atlanta Falcons (1-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

This is an extremely important game and one that could play in as the season goes on.  These two, along with the Saints will be jockeying for position all season long in the NFC South.  Both teams are coming off huge comeback wins last week and are certainly riding high.  This game will be close but I like Josh Freeman and the Bucs in this one.  23-20 Bucs.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

I can’t believe that with some of the good games on this is the Sunday night game this week.  I know Peyton was supposed to play when they scheduled this game, but really?  This is such an uninteresting game and I think the score will only add to that.  The Ravens pissed the Steelers off in week one and the Colts are really bad.  They should really sign David Garrard already.  He may not be great but he will certainly be better than that Fossil Kerry Collins.  31-13 Steelers.

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ Washington Redskins (2-0)

I can’t believe the Redskins are tied for the division lead with Rex Grossman as their starter (side note- a buddy and I shared a drink with the Bloomington native’s wife at Kilroy’s when we were there a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure anyone will care, but it’s kind of cool).  These two teams absolutely hate each other and I’m sure this will be a hard hitting, close game.

I believe if Tony Romo plays, he will not finish the game.  They should really be smart and save him.  It’s a long season and they will be in far worse shape if he gets injured further.  Healthy Romo or not, I for some reason am buying into the Redskins.  27-24 Redskins.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Stupid Conference Realignment

Just stop.

Please stop.

Everything about this conference realignment is driving me crazy.  All of this needs to get solved now and be done with so we can just enjoy college football and not have to listen to this extracurricular nonsense.

I had both hoped and thought that once the whole Texas A&M business was finished, everything would at least be put on hold till the spring or summer, but I was clearly quite wrong.

I had attempted to follow this as little as I possibly could, but I woke up on Saturday to learn that Syracuse and Pitt had made the jump to the ACC.  When this happened, I had little choice but to follow it closer, as it became a bit more personal.  The only thing I care about in this whole mess is that Louisville somehow winds up not getting screwed and can find themselves in a good situation.

This entire process has seemingly been littered with deceit and lies from all involved.  First of all, it seems like no entity wants to be the one to actually make a move (except A&M).  No one, weather conferences or schools, want to be that next piece of the Tetris-esque puzzle to fall.  No one wants to be the entity that is ridiculed endlessly until something else happens.  Because of this, the whole process seems to be moving at a snails pace, which is not fair to the fans and especially the student athletes.

When Texas A&M chose to leave the Big-12, they didn’t beat around the bush.  They said they were tired of Texas getting all of these extra benefits and they simply thought the SEC would provide them a better future.  Whatever.  That’s fine if that’s how they felt.  What transpired Saturday was not so clear-cut and was far more filled with lies.

Both Syracuse and Pitt were part of the group that helped mold and grow the Big East into a power conference.  Syracuse had been there since the beginning in 1979, while Pitt joined three years later.  Just days prior to both schools applying for acceptance to the ACC and having it granted, they had pledged their loyalty to the Big East.  All of the schools had claimed they were committed to making this whole thing work and that improving the conference was the way to go.

That Clearly didn’t matter to two of the longest tenured members of the conference.  Loyalty had clearly gone out the window.  While in situations like this where everything is so unstable, I totally understand it coming down to the every man for himself mentality.  It would have to in order to ensure that this will one day get sorted out and the super-conference era can just start already.  Until then, there are still six power conferences and these two schools put the other members of the Big East in even more limbo then they already were in.

For them to both site that it came down to quality of competition for their women’s sports as well as their Olympic sports is absurd.  That was not the deal breaker and to even attempt to tell people that is wrong.  It was done to save each school and make sure they were in the best situation financially if and when the Big East folds.  It’s a joke that they would try and use that as an excuse.  Disgusting.

The other aspect of this whole mess that has really irked me is that is that academics are being brought into this.  It is such a false front for the end goals of both the conferences and the schools.  This is purely a decision based on the financial side of things, conferences wanting to tap into new TV networks, and general stability.  Certainly, I’d be kidding myself if I thought academics didn’t play into this at all.  These conferences aren’t going to try and push too many limits and go out and get these schools that will outwardly hurt their reputation, however I do feel that it is not the goal in the whole process.  Aren’t these supposed to be STUDENT Athletes?

For today (or the hour), this miserable roller coaster seems to have slowed down a bit.  Last night, in surprising fashion, the Pac-12 decided to no longer pursue expansion, leaving Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. in the Big-12.  Even if the Pac-12 is done for the time being, the ACC is still rumored to be strongly considering adding two more schools (which would in all likelihood would be Rutgers and UConn), and the Big-12 is still left with nine members and would more than likely look to get back up to 12.  They have been rumored to have interest in West Virginia, Louisville, and BYU to fill those gaps.  The Big East has also claimed that they are still going to attempt to stick together.  Word is the favorites to come in there are the military academies, which doesn’t really seem like it would be a step up from their already mediocre football conference.

This just needs to end.  There’s too much speculation and not enough happening.  People can’t help but talk about it.  I had told myself for months that I just wasn’t going to care about it, but once you are almost forced to as a fan, it becomes inevitable and you just can’t fight it anymore.  Stop pretending that the super conference won’t happen and just let it happen now so this can all go away.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Cam Newton’s Fast Start

Love him or hate him, It’s hard to ignore what Cam Newton did in the season opener for Carolina Panthers.

I have been someone who did not buy into the Newton hype.  Sure I thought eventually he could be a decent NFL quarterback, but I didn’t ever believe that he could come out and shatter records in his first game.

Something I still haven’t entirely wrapped my head around is how not only Newton, but Blaine Gabbert as well, were first round draft picks.  Following the end of the college football season, neither of them were being talked about as anything more than mid second round picks at best.  Somehow, without playing any more real football, sometime between mid January and late April they both jumped up and were potential top 10 picks.  How does this work?  There was no more football to prove their worth to teams potentially interested.  I didn’t realize that the combine and a pro day could possibly be the difference in a full draft round and millions of dollars, but apparently this is why I am not an NFL scout.

I recall sitting in my living room in April with my roommates and none of us wanted to believe that the Panthers were stupid enough to actually take Cam Newton first overall.  It seemed like a joke that those reporting and writing about the draft were pulling on us.

Sure enough however, Newton’s name was called first.  No matter how much I tried to convince myself that both the Panthers and the NFL were trying to pull a fast one on me, but they simply were not.  I couldn’t believe that following the joke that the Panthers called a season last year they could possibly be stupid enough to waste the top pick on a quarterback who could so easily be on either side of the fence.  He could definitely be great at some point down the line, but he could also never quite figure the NFL style out and be a huge bust.

They also had just drafted Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the 2010 draft.  Sure, he was pretty terrible last year when he saw the field, but was it really already time to give up on him?  He had ran a pro style offense during his time at Notre Dame so you think he would pick up on the offense eventually, right?  You have to wonder if his struggles last season were on him or the fact that the team itself was so horrible.

As the lockout ended and preseason got underway, I certainly didn’t think that Newton would wind up being their starter on day one.  With no offseason training programs and time for him to get into the facility and work with the coaches and other players, he couldn’t possibly be ready to see the field. While we are in an age of starting rookie quarterbacks right away (see Flacco, Ryan, Sanchez ect.), if ever there was a year to let them sit to start the year, it was this year.  Again, These are all reasons why I am not a scout and or a coach in the NFL right now.

Right on cue with all of those thoughts going through my head, Ron Rivera named Newton his starting quarterback for opening day.  I couldn’t help but think that the Panthers would again be horrific and might be battling for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes at the end of the season.

Three quarterbacks in three years? Who know with the Panthers.

To put it simply, Cam Newton made me eat my words.  He became the first rookie quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in his week one debut.  He did what no other Carolina quarterback could do for several years now, and made Steve Smith look like his former pro bowl self.

Newton has never been short on fuel of trying to prove people wrong.  He had to battle his way to even get a second chance at Auburn, and even last year it was almost like people were waiting for him to either mess up on the field, or get caught having accepted money from a booster.  This year, as has been discussed, there were a huge amount of doubters that he wouldn’t translate well into the NFL and would wind up taking a long time to develop, or he would flop.

While the Panthers may not have won the game, they proved they will be competitive and they will surprise people this year.  They were one yard away from tying it up last Sunday, and even though they didn’t quite get it, Newton put them in a position to have a chance to win, which I never thought he would do this early.  Sure they were playing the Cardinals, who aren’t spectacular, but they are nowhere near as bad as the Panthers were thought to be.

Cam Newton is simply a winner.  Some athletes just do what it takes to be great and refuse to loose.  Last Sunday was the first time Newton had suffered a loss of any kind since he was in Junior College.  The kid is a specimen and if he continues at the rate he is going now, he will win many NFL games and has the chance to be a really special player.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

The Glory That Is Ed Reed

This morning, a buddy of mine sent me a link to an article on Yahoo Sports by Jason Cole, of which he encouraged me to write about.  The article happened to be about one of my favorite athletes, Ed Reed.

Cole calls Reed, “The greatest NFL thief of all time”.  Reading this article, which simply puts his accomplishments on the table and shows how great he is, really made me realize just how lucky I am, and have been to watch him play football for the last 10 years of my life.

I have been lucky enough to have my favorite football team led on defense by two of the greatest to ever play the game.  Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are pioneers of their position and they have forever changed the expectations for current and future players.  They both without question will be first ballot hall of famers when their time rolls around.

Ray Lewis is a topic for another day, however.  This is all about Edward Earl Reed Jr.

For the last nine football seasons, 10 if you include the one just beginning, Ed Reed has allowed me to breathe significantly easier every Sunday that he takes the field.  He has long been the protector of our end zone.  He is the last line of defense and over the years he has instilled fear into the eyes of every quarterback that has played against him.  Quarterbacks often try and avoid throwing in his general direction, but it generally doesn’t do much good.  Reed is the ultimate ball hawk and it’s truly fun to watch play defense.

Aside from being amazing, Reed has been at the forefront of so many of my greatest memories as a Ravens fan.  Three games in 2008 really stick out to me as what makes Ed Reed is such a special player.  The first was against the Eagles.  This was the first time that I can remember that Andy Reid actually benched Donavan McNabb (with help from Ed Reed).  McNabb had a dreadful second quarter, turning it over 3 times, one being an interception thrown to Reed.   The Eagles came out in the second half and called on Kevin Kolb, who wasn’t much better that day.  He also threw two interceptions, including Reed’s NFL record 108-yard interception return.  This still stands as the longest interception return in NFL history.  The Ravens won that game handily, 36-7.

The second game was two weeks later against the Redskins.  This game was simply the Ed Reed show.  On the first series of the game, he picked off Jason Campbell.  Two series later, he literally took the ball out of the hands of Clinton Portis and eluded a handful of Redskins and made it to the end zone.  Finally, he closed the game out for Baltimore with another interception in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

The final game in 2008 that I want to look back at was the wild-card round playoff game against the Dolphins.  To be quite frank, both of these teams were huge surprises to even be in the post season.  The Dolphins were coming of their 1-15 season and the Ravens hadn’t been much better in 2007.  Miami was the beneficiary of Tom Brady missing the whole season, leading to a division title, while Baltimore had a rookie quarterback and head coach, but that doesn’t matter nearly as much when you have Ed Reed on the other side of the football.  Reed picked off The Human Noodle Arm (Chad Pennington) twice, including one that went for a 64 yard return to break a 3-3 tie in the second quarter.  The Ravens went on to beat down the Dolphins 27-9 and eventually made it to the AFC Championship game.

Those were just a few memories that I have in my mind from Reed, but there are without a doubt so many more.  He is a seven time pro bowler and was the NFL defensive player of the year in 2004.   Last year he led the NFL in interceptions, and oh yea, he missed the first six games while recovering from hip surgery.  And who can forget his heroics from last post season when he was playing the wake of his brother’s disappearance.

With 56 career interceptions, two coming last Sunday against Pittsburgh, Reed is primed to keep climbing the ladder towards the top.  He is currently tied for 16th most interceptions in NFL history and with another season that promises to stellar after last weekends start, he should vault into the top 10 with ease.  Troy Polamalu is tied for 246th most interceptions in NFL history with 27.  I’m just saying; this is the Ed Reed Era at the safety position.

Ed Reed has been an idol and an icon here in Baltimore for years.  His white number 20 jersey was the first Ravens jersey I purchased.  Not many groups of fan’s have the opportunity to watch a once in a generation player such as Reed.  It is my hope that Baltimore fans realize just how lucky we are to have number 20 out there every week, because unfortunately, it won’t last forever.  But, for now, I will enjoy watching Reed and his trademark beard torture and torment quarterbacks, wide receivers, and offensive coordinators.

I’ll leave you with a link to an extremely emotional 10-second video of Reed firing up his troops from his Miami days.  It always gets me pumped up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LG_f1GzmwHo&feature=related

Link to Jason Cole’s Yahoo article:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=Ai6NfQiI4oqCoL4O0zjN_8s5nYcB?slug=jc-cole_direct_snap_reed_best_ballhawk_091311

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

My First Post- Football Is BACK!

Hello all.  This is my first of hopefully many blog entries here.  I’m starting to write this to not only get my thoughts out in the open (for the many readers I’m sure to amount), but to attempt and build some sort of portfolio for the future.

What better way to start off any blog of any kind than with football?

Make no mistake about it; football is back.  This weekend was pure bliss to be able to veg out and watch countless games, and for the first time in my life, not have any school work to worry about for the following Monday.

The football weekend started on Thursday with the epic NFL season opener between the Saints and the Super Bowl champion Packers.  This was an unbelievable way to kick off the season after a long, frustrating offseason.  It was entertaining, hard fought, and an all around happy occasion to have football officially back.

Friday and Saturday were simply reminders for me that the two college teams I root for are who we thought they were.  Louisville lost to Florida International on national TV Friday night.  This was amazingly embarrassing and yet not all that surprising.  FIU however has one of the best players no one has heard of in T.Y. Hilton.  He was easily the fastest player on the field and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t playing on Sunday’s in some capacity next season.  It wasn’t a surprise to me but still disappointing; Louisville sucks at football (still) and the rebuilding process is infuriating.  It has been way too long since I was sitting in Dolphins Stadium watching them beat Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl. It’s also Kentucky week.  Keep an eye on my sanity please.

Saturday evening brought the IU Virginia game.  This game is IU football in a nutshell for as long as I have been following them.  They play well, but not great.  They do nearly enough of what it takes to win big games, but they always find a way to loose in an emotional fashion, which (shocker) they did again this week.  While it was clearly better than the performance they put on against Ball St. last week at Lucas Oil, they need to find the remedy for loosing these close games year after year and they need to find it soon.

Thankfully College football wasn’t all lost for me this weekend.  While I am not a fan of Michigan or Notre Dame, they did play an incredibly entertaining game.  I had no emotions invested in this game, but I found myself going crazy by myself in my living room as this game wound down.   I have never seen an ending quite like this one.  I thought this game was over 3 different times, but neither team wanted to die.  We leave this game behind knowing a few things; Denard Robinson is a freak of nature, Brian Kelley has to quickly right the ship at Notre Dame before the faithful turn on him and with another tough game against Michigan St. this coming weekend it won’t be an easy task, and finally, Michigan fans are smitten with Brady Hoke right now.

Back to the NFL.

Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but instead of a day filled with sorrow, it turned into a day of joy.  There were beautiful memorials and gestures done all over the country at the different NFL games, but there was also a full day of good football to help take the dark undertone away from the day and help us to celebrate what we still have, while remembering all we lost that day.

For me, week one of the NFL helped formulate answers to some of the more popular questions floating around the NFL leading into the season.  I’m going to attempt to answer them based on how I see things following a week of football.

1. Can the Packers repeat as Super Bowl Champs?

-There is absolutely nothing that I saw in their week one game against the Saints that would lead me to bet against them.  They are probably the most complete team in the NFL and their offense is simply a menace.  You take a group that was great through the playoffs last year and add in Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb as extra weapons for Aaron Rodgers, and you also bring back in Ryan Grant who adds some consistency to their running game.  This team is very, very good and it will take any teams absolute best effort to knock them off, regular season or playoffs.  Barring injury, they will at the very least go down fighting if they can’t repeat.

2. Just how will the colt’s fair without Peyton Manning?

-Is it too early to go ahead and award them the Andrew Luck sweepstakes?  This team is absolutely horrible without Peyton.  I have a hard time believing they would even make the playoffs if he were healthy this year.  I think this team has run its course and they need to get bigger, stronger, faster, and younger if they want to continue to win.  That said, this season is what it is for the Colts and if they were smart, they would just hold Peyton out all season and let him get where he needs to be health wise.  Part of me is slightly sad I won’t be in Bloomington this fall to see all of the sad Colts fans every week.  It’s going to be a very long season for Indy, but at least most of their fans don’t expect much more than that.

3. Are the Eagles indeed the dream team?

-Let’s be serious.  The Backup quarterback, who also happens to be injured currently made this statement.  They are clearly not the “dream team”.  This team is very good and extremely dangerous but they definitely have their flaws.  First and Foremost, Mike Vick needs to prove he can stay healthy through an entire season.  This might be hard for him with their offensive line being young and exceptionally mediocre.  Their Linebackers are also very young and leave a lot to be desired thus far.  That said, along with Vick, they have without question the fastest players at the skill positions offensively in the NFL.  You see Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and even Jason Avant line up across from you, its almost like pick your poison.  They are all so dangerously fast that you could easily find yourself in trouble against them.  Oh yea, they also picked up Nnamdi Asomugha to play on the other side of Asante Samuel.  This will be scary.  Everything seemed to go well in their first outing of the season, but while they are certainly improved, they are still the Rams.  Philly will without a doubt be fun to watch all season.

4. Can the Ravens Finally take the next step during the season and in the playoff’s?

-Yes I am a Ravens fan, and I will attempt to remove bias whenever I write about them.  I was lucky enough to attend the game yesterday against the Steelers, and I must say, I have yet to stop smiling.  I was not quite sure how all of the new pieces the Ravens added would fit together this early in the season, but they seemed to mesh just fine yesterday.  I don’t ever remember a team doing to the Steelers what the Ravens did yesterday.  They absolutely embarrassed them and made them look inferior.  Suggs continues to find ways to get to Big Ben like no other pass rusher can and Haloti Ngata is continuing to show why he is one of, if not the best defensive lineman in football today.  The work the Baltimore defense did against the Pittsburgh offense is not surprising, but extremely impressive nonetheless.  It was more what the Ravens offense was able to come out and do that was telling of this team.  Joe Flacco, who was under a ton of scrutiny going into this season, really seemed to come into his own and looked more comfortable, patient confident and most importantly, accurate.  The offensive line who hadn’t taken one snap of real football together ever, cleared the way for Ray Rice to have a 100 yard day, and only allowed one sack.  The Ravens offense absolulty abused the Steelers.  It’s always amazing as a fan to beat the team you hate the most, when you embarrass them and make them look weak, there may be no better feeling.  At the end of the day, it was only one game, and the Ravens need to build on this, because like it or not, the Steelers will be there in December and January.

I appreciate anyone and everyone who takes the time to read my blog.  It really means a lot to have people reading my work, even if it is a very small audience at times.  I’m going to try and post at least four or five times a week and will always put them up on Facebook and Twitter when I get them up.  Also, if anyone has any constructive criticism please let me know, it will be appreciated.  I’ll leave off for today with some other NFL notes from the weekend that I noticed.  Enjoy!

  • Cam Newton performed way better than I, or anyone else thought in his first NFL game.
  • Who are you and what did you do with the Buffalo Bills we thought were playing yesterday?
  • Cincinnati Def. Cleveland in the Toilet Bowl.
  • San Diego still sucks at special teams, but the Vikings suck more all around.
  • Detroit is going to be a thorn in everyone on their schedules side all year.  I hope they can squeeze into the playoffs.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.