Age, is simply, nothing but a number , yet , when it catches up with you , it does make one look old
Having spent a decade in armed forces of Her Majesty’s government as a member of the British Royal Marines , I have to admit that those years were some of the best and the most formative of my adult life ! Two decades plus , later , and here I am , residing in the USA , Central Florida of all places , and I am amazed as an ardent sport’s fan , to hear others quip and the belly aching of fans , as to the merits of their teams ! And nowhere is this more cognizant, than with the self-absorbed fans of the teams, residing within the Big Apple , New York City , to be exact . Granted, the Buffalo Bills failed miserably last season , with the intra-conference rivals the New York Giants , also failing to show any resolve over the course of their season . And the less said , about the three-ringed circus , known as the New York Jets , the better the whole world becomes !
As if to further place emphasis on how asinine the world of the NFL now becomes this time of the year , consider the fact, that teams will now start to trim the fat from their rosters , as they deem to be necessary , all to fit in, under a league mandated salary cap that has increased exponentially each season . Yet , repeatedly , rarely do you hear of the league hierarchy , speaking of financial restraint being shown on the part of owners , and the front office executives . Instead, it is left with NFL Commissioner , Roger Goodell , regaling us with the fact the NFL revenues are increasing , while he purports to suggest , that he is working to make the game safer . Unfortunately, those claims are false and falling on deaf ears , when one considers the fact that the NFL , still remains a defendant in at least 275 civil suits within the legal system , at varying levels within the US Courts , ranging from the state to the Federal Level . In midst of this , all , $ 1 billion ($1,000,000,000), set aside to assist in providing benefits for retired veterans of the past still remains unused , yet when questioned on the matter , Goodell and his union counterpart , DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA (Players’ Union) , somehow cannot provide a suitable answer , as to the reasons why that money has yet to find its way into the hands of those who need it the most .
Courtesy of USA Today
By Mark Garafalo , USA Today
In the NFL right now, Paul is making out like a bandit. It’s Peter who’s getting robbed.
With the start of the league year approaching and a salary cap flatter than most expected, there’s been a run of what have been termed “restructures” around the league. It’s a term that connotes a somewhat involved process, but it’s actually a simple move in which the money a player is slated to receive in the current season is repackaged as a signing bonus, thus allowing the proration of the guaranteed money to be spread over the rest of the contract.
Like the saying goes, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul: All of the cap room saved in the current year is being pushed back to later years.
It happens every year in the NFL as competitive teams spend up to the cap to fill in the final pieces of what they believe is a Super Bowl-worthy roster. But the extent of the occurrences this year hasn’t been seen in the league since the late 1990s and early 2000s when teams were still trying to learn how to manage the salary cap.
By now, teams know better. Or at least they should.
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With clubs like the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers having to restructure the deals of as many as 10 players, it’s an indication much of the league was caught off guard by how flat the cap has been under the new collective bargaining agreement. (However in the Cowboys’ case, they must finish serving a $10 million cap penalty assessed against them last year for overspending during the cap-less 2010 offseason.)
This season, it’s expected to be roughly $123 million, which is where it was back in 2009 in the final capped year of the previous CBA. The cap won’t spike in coming years despite the expected influx of big dollars from TV contracts in 2015.
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In baseball , the standings and the postseason simply reflected how awful the New York Mets and their crosstown rivals , the New York Yankees , just happened to be ! With Spring Training now in full swing , and the World Baseball Classic said to be an international team tournament , said to represent the “best of the best “ of the international talent available
for the fans to observe . I am now, beginning to wonder how much longer MLB and IBAF (International Baseball Federation) FAB can carry on with this ridiculous charade ! Hopefully , not ,much longer given the dire mediocrity of the play coming from several of these international teams , including Team USA, itself . This is one competition; I believe that the world can do without !
The ailing and aging New York Yankees are now in a world of trouble , with Mark Teixeira , Alex Rodriguez , Curtis Granderson , and a still unfit Derek Jeter , still being uncertain as to when his return might be. The three aforementioned players, beyond, Jeter , remains on the team’s disabled list.
The loss of that triumvirate , along with Derek Jeter , represent and an offense that led the league and the AL home runs . Teixeira , Granderson, Rodriguez and Jeter , accounted for 100 of the team’s 245 home runs in 2012 , an AL record for the season . Moreover, the real issue with the Yankees , remains their pitching , and other their starting pitcher, C C Sabathia, one could attest to the fact that the team’s pitching remains their Achilles’ Heel .
One of the more pressing issues to resolve for GM Brian Cashman will be the impending status of the team’s second baseman , thirty-year old , Robinson Cano , perhaps the Yankees’ best all-round player , and in many fans’ eyes , the heir-apparent to Derek Jeter , as the team captain. The player becomes a free agent in 2014 , and one seriously doubts that the ball-club would like to see Cano , seek to test the free agency market . A highly desirable and productive player , it would not be out of the realms of imagination to see Robinson Cano be offered a multi-year , multimillion dollar contract. At present, the second baseman, is in the final year of a four-year $30 million deal .
As the Yankees, make their way through their preseason schedule , it will be interesting to see how the team fares , and how Joe Girardi goes about assessing his roster of none roster invitees and every day players , seeking out the strengths and weaknesses of the squad overall . . The team opens their regular season schedule , with a three game set against their heated divisional rivals, the Boston Red Sox , at Fenway Park , in Boston , Massachusetts , with their first meeting on the 1st April, 2013. In the ensuing months , there will be a great deal, that we are liable to learn about this team , the organization , and the fans , themselves .
The NBA this season , has left a lot to be desired , while fans are looking for feel-good stories , which have been few and far between . OK, so we have the Golden State Warriors within the Western Conference surprising everyone with their resiliency , and the recent play of Steph Curry has been exceptional , to say the very least . Yet , beyond that, there are no real break-out stories , which seemingly have the fans on the edge of their seats . The NBA defending champions , the Miami Heat , are making their division and Eastern Conference seem like something of a cakewalk , as they simply stroll through , slaying their opponents , almost at will.. So much so, that it seems , that head coach , Erik Spoelstra has an embarrassment of riches , by way his roster’s star laden makeup . As the team’s season has progressed , we have seen LeBron James systematically raise the level of his play , to the point , where we must now ask “ since the heydays of Michael Jordan, has there ever been a player this dominant within the NBA , with such an sound all-round game “ ?
Sixteen straight wins , for the Heat , and the NBA analysts, are now looking for “ superlatives “ to describe the team , as well as the play of James , who remains the leading candidate for the League MVP award, a trophy , which he won for the third time, last season , in his already illustrious career . And while his legend grows , so too , are the flattering comparisons that are being made. It is way too early to make either the suggestion or the comparison as to the greatness of LeBron James . What we do know , it is , that he is now the preeminent player in the NBA , with perhaps only Kevin Durant , being remotely close by comparison , in the creation of a “budding rivalry”. A much-needed rivalry , I might add , because although the belief is that the league has a dearth of extremely talented players . In reality , what we do have, is a handful of very good players , one truly dominant player , and perhaps no more than two or three very good teams , now playing in the NBA .
At the start of the season , a great deal was made concerning the strengths of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks . With the Nets having relocated from New Jersey to their lavish and palatial venue , the Barclays Center in downtown , Brooklyn , New York . Nets’ owner , Mikhail Prokhorov , the billionaire Russian oil and financial magnate , and majority stakeholder /owner of the multi-billion dollar development , that houses commercial and residential estate, as well as the NBA’s newest venue , was meant , to signal the reawakening and relevance of a newly revamped Nets’ team , led by their All Star point guard , Deron Williams . The point guard, and the newly acquired Joe Johnson , were meant to provide the glitz and glamor to rival that of their more renowned erstwhile rivals, the New York Knicks . However, what has taken place with the franchise this season , is one of sheer ambiguity and the very fact that Brooklyn Net are simply not a very good team. Certainly not good enough, to be seen as a credible challenger, to the might of the Miami Heat. And while the Nets’ fans might beg to differ as to how their team might well be viewed by the rest of the fans around the NBA . The fact of the matter , is that the evidence is there for all to see , and which has been witnessed by the inconsistent play by the franchise over the course of the season. Avery Johnson , head coach of the Nets at the start of the year, would be relieved of his duties , by GM , Billy King , after it was felt that Johnson had lost control of the team. Speculation began to mount , that the firing of the coach came at the behest of Williams, who is said to have clashed with Avery Johnson , on more than one occasion concerning the style of play of the team. Shades of Jerry Sloan’s departure, from the Utah Jazz, Williams’ former team , and how it all went down ? I will leave that for you all , to speculate on .
Johnson’s successor, veteran head coach , P J Carlesimo , and it must be said, there were signs of improved play, only for there to be a subsequent tapering off as the team faltered. The Nets’ most recent game played against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats , a team that once again seems to be on the verge of creating NBA history , by ending the season with the league’s worst record . In 2011 , that was most certainly , the case with the Bobcats’ front office , having no idea , as how to get the franchise heading in the right direction. Team owner , Michael Jordan and GM , Rich Cho , will have a number of issues to address this off-season concerning this team and the makeup of its roster . Chances are , the Bobcats will be part of the NBA Draft Lottery pick , when the draft comes around .
The Nets for their part , now holding down the fourth seed within the conference , a potential playoff opponent , would appear to be the Chicago Bulls (34-26), a team whose defensive prowess has kept them in close games throughout much of their season schedule . Leading the Bulls ,without their All Star and former MVP point guard , Derrick Rose , we have seen Carlos Boozer , Luol Deng , but most notably , Joakim Noah , playing at a level not often seen with this two-time NCAA championship winning Florida Gator .
Inasmuch, as high praise has been heaped upon the New York Knicks this season and the fact that they have led the Atlantic Division throughout much of their schedule. To my mind, the biggest disappointment remains the fact that this team has an aversion to playing defense , in spite of the claims of their fans . A strong case, could be made that although Mike Woodson demands it, of his players , they somehow, only play defense as and when they see fit for the need to do so. They remain, one of the league’s best offensive units , but therein lies the misnomer for the players on this roster . What use, is a prolific offense , when you simply resist the desire and discipline to defend ?
With an aging core , in terms of its roster , the one thing that this Knicks’ team remains susceptible to , are injuries to their core group of players , but more so, to their veterans , players such as , Rasheed Wallace , Jason Kidd , Marcus Camby , Kurt Thomas and Amar`e Stoudemire . All season long for the New York Knicks , it has been the Carmelo Anthony “ show” , while he has been ably assisted by J R Smith , Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton . Personally , now , I feel that the prospects of the Knicks having a deep and successful run in the postseason , are not as assured , as they might well have been two weeks ago ! It has been the team’s inconsistency in large part , which has been all the more thought-provoking , beyond the fact that as the season enters the final third of its arduous schedule , things now become a great deal tougher , as teams now jockey themselves for position , the divisional races , and conference berths , with a view to entering the postseason.
A patron , who is a frequent guest to my columns , suggested that former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic head coach , Stan Van Gundy , was one of the better coaches that we have seen within the NBA in recent years . Van Gundy , no longer with a team , now awaits an opportunity to come his way , and a speedy return to the league . Both Van Gundy , and his sibling , Jeff Van Gundy are but a few of the siblings to have either played or coached alongside in each other in NBA history . Jeff , is now a respected NBA commentator and analyst for TNT Tv , and his astute observations , do provide some levity , as part of that network’s broadcast coverage. Stan Van Gundy ,with an all-time win percentage of .641 would fall behind only Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau among active head coaches in that specific category . However, in light of that , as good a coach as Stan Van Gundy is said to be , I have always judged a head coach, not only by the success attained , but also by the players that he developed, from their being drafted and then becoming established stars . In reality , I have yet to see view the former Heat and Magic head coach in that endeavor ! Granted , as I alluded to earlier , he is a very good coach , more so an X’s and O’s type of individual , when placed in the right type of environment. His last coaching foray , with the Magic, was well chronicled , wherein , it all came to an embattled and bitter end , with the fallout between the coach , the Magic front office executives , but also , his contentious relationship , with former Magic center , Dwight Howard. Suffice to say , the pairs’ behavior, bordered on being rather infantile and less than honorable . Could one have asked for anymore ?
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(1) FILE – In this Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Buffalo Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman (56) walks on the field before an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, N.Y. Merriman is calling it “Lights Out” on his career , announcing on his website, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, that he plans to retire. AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File …
(2) Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. The first year head coach , faces a rough first season , with major roster moves having been made during the off-season , as the Bills seek reduce cap space , in order for the upcoming NFL Draft and to acquire potential free agents . AP Photo/Michael Conroy …
(4) New York Jets defensive back Darrelle Revis runs on the field before the preseason NFL football game between the New York Jets and the New York Giants Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. There now seems to be mounting speculation that the Jets may well seek to trade the corner-back who spent much of the team’s 2012 schedule on injured reserve . AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …..
(5) New York Mets’ Wilmer Flores hits a home run off Venezuela pitcher Enrique Gonzalez during the ninth inning of an exhibition baseball game , Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Venezuela won 14-10. AP Photo/Julio Cortez …
(6) Home plate umpire Chris Segal , left, gestures a called strike on New York Mets’ Travis d’Arnaud , right, for the final out, next to Venezuela catcher Miguel Montero in an exhibition baseball game, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Venezuela won 14-10. AP Photo/Julio Cortez …
(7) Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton follows through on an RBI ground-out off New York Yankees’ David Phelps during the first inning of a spring training baseball game , Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. At right is Yankees catcher Chris Stewart . AP Photo/Matt Slocum …
(8) TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 20: Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait on February 20, 2013 at George Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The player who becomes a free agent , seeks a long-term deal with the Yankees’ organization , but it appears that GM Brian Cashman and managing partner Hank Steinbrenner are said to be unsure that it would be productive in offering Cano such a deal . Leading to speculation that the ball club might be willing to allow the player to test the free agency market in 2014 . Photo by Elsa Martinez /Getty Images …
(9) From left, Golden State Warriors’ Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut , David Lee , and Step Curry watch from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. AP Photo/Ben Margot ….
(10) CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 06: Deron Williams(8) of the Brooklyn Nets shoots over Ben Gordon (8) of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 6, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …
(11) Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant drives past New York Knicks’ Tyson Chandler , right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 7, 2013, in New York. The Thunder won 95-94 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …
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