All good things must come to an end , eventually ….

All good things, must come to an end eventually

With NBA season still in its infancy , perhaps /the biggest story to hit the league has been the loss of NBA All Star point guard Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls . In one fail swoop , what appeared to be an innocuous contact with an opposing player led to Rose losing his balance , twisting his knee and tearing his right MCL (meniscus cruciate ligament). The Bulls prior to this unforeseen injury, were thought to be one of the teams within the Eastern Conference , deemed good enough to challenge the defending NBA champions , the Miami Heat . With Rose now out for the remainder of the season , for the second time inside of eighteen months , the player has been lost to the franchise for what appears to be an indeterminate length of time. The ramifications for the Chicago Bulls at this juncture are incalculable and any thought of them being able to mount a serious challenge within the conference , now appears to be doomed for failure.

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Bulls’ head coach, Tom Thibodeau will now have to assess, how best to utilize his roster , and somehow replace an invaluable asset such as his point guard , Derrick Rose. Try to imagine the Miami Heat without LeBron James , Oklahoma City Thunder without Kevin Durant , Chris Paul missing from the Los Angeles Clippers’ lineup or the Los Angeles Lakers , without Kobe Bryant , albeit, that at present the Lakers do appear to be competitive within their conference. Such has been the magnitude of the loss, that it has been evident with the team’s first game without Rose, which resulted in an 89-83 loss to the Utah Jazz . Chicago’s next game will be on Wednesday , 27th November against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills , in Detroit Michigan ,. How the Bulls now acquit themselves in terms of their resilience, will be predicated upon which players on the roster seeks the desire to adopt the role a leader on this team. Be it, Carlos Boozer , Luol Deng or Joakim Noah , someone now has to step up to the plate .

One of the more unlikely situations that now arises comes out of Derick Rose’s loss to the Bulls for the season , has to be how the front office now contemplates the franchise’s long-term future. A year away from the game , and the lengthy recuperation process leaves now leaves GM Gar Forman , owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the entire front office with a number of decisions to mull over. Is it worthwhile competitively playing out the remainder of the season or as some have suggested , would it be best for the organization to seek to rid themselves of a number of the large salaried contracts and impending free agents , thereby freeing up a great deal under the league salary cap and just rebuild , by way of the next NBA Draft and simply adding a veteran presence on the roster ? Clearly, the long-suffering Bulls’ fans would not like to see any of these scenarios being raised , but definitely something has to and must be done . Rose’s own contract has left the organization in almost untenable situation and the league hierarchy simply does not provide for a situation or solution as the predicament that the Chicago Bulls now finds itself in . Granted, the insurance rider carried by the franchise, will allow for any monetary loss by way of the contract , but I cannot help but wonder if this is likely to be the road that the Bulls would like to go down , in simply abandoning the player by buying out his contract at a high premium .

It certainly has been a long time, since anyone spoke about the Portland Trailblazers (13-2) in glowing terms . Yet here we are, and the franchise has gotten off to a tremendous start to the season . A great deal of the credit has to go to the coaching staff , led by head coach Terry Stotts , but also the two leading players on the roster , LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard , whose maturity and growth as a player from his rookie season in 2012 , has been very impressive this season, with his playing a leading role in the Blazers’ progress. Only the San Antonio Spurs (13-1) have a better record than the Trailblazers within the Western Conference , and the Indiana Pacers (13-1) within the East , overall .

It may well the early stages of an arduous NBA schedule , but consider the fact that more prominent teams within the league are currently struggling , who are alleged to have even greater depth to their rosters and also a better coaching staff. To my mind, it is best to adjudge the makeup of a team not just by the talent , but also by the coaching acumen on display. And to date, nothing I have seen exhibited by either the Brooklyn Nets (3-10) or New York Knicks (3-10) has given me the impression that either franchise knows what the hell they are actually doing ! Knicks and Nets’ fans can gesticulate and show their angst , because in reality, they tend to delve far more in the past , having not learned a damn thing to actually realize , what is going on in the present , only too willing to make excuses for the omnipresent mediocrity of the respective franchises in question.

Portland has simply been playing high intensity basketball, showing a great deal of aplomb in transition and a defensive mindset. Coming off the team’s almost willful destruction of the New York Knicks , during which Carmelo Anthony in a post-game tirade, directed a great deal of anger and venom towards his teammates , in stating that they sucked and were an embarrassment to the fans watching such a display. Only further emphasizing and reiterating my earlier remarks about the Eastern Conference based franchise and their continuing woes! New York’s almost $90 million payroll in comparison to their Monday night opponent’s $62.6 million cannot be considered to have been money “ well spent “ . The biggest obstacle now for the Portland Trailblazers, will be to maintain the momentum currently in their possession , as they approach the second half of the regular season . Next up for Portland will be a visit to Phoenix , Arizona , as the guests of the Phoenix Suns in a game to be played at the US Airways Arena , in Phoenix , Arizona ,. The team, will be seeking their twelfth consecutive win and eighth road win in their last nine games . While I believe the Portland Trailblazers to be a very good and well coached team , I am not so sure that during a seven game playoff series , they are capable of defeating notable conference foes such as the Oklahoma City Thunder , San Antonio Spurs , Los Angeles Clippers or the Houston Rockets . Yet, these are only my observations, as to skill-set of the teams in question !

With Kobe Bryant now being re-signed to a two-year contract extension, paying the guard $48.5 million over the next two season and essentially assuring the franchise’s fans and the player that his career will end with the Los Angeles Lakers . As to what this says about the Lakers’ intent for its long-term future , is simply, that they are seeking a smooth transition from Bryant ,as he hands over the reins of the team to the next marquee free agent that is likely to be acquired by the franchise . Obviously , Dwight Howard was not the right fit , in spite of the rather ridiculous pleading by senior members of the Lakers’ team, as well as many of the Hollywood A List celebrities , who all were willing to ” sell their souls “ , in order for the noted center to remain a Lakers’ player. Clearly, many of these individuals as well as members of the coaching staff led by Mike DAntoni , as well GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss , chose not to see the flaws in Howard’s game well as his demeanor when faced with a great deal of adversity on the court . Never mind the fact, that so-called knowledgeable Los Angeles Lakers’ fans were trying to point out that the player had the game to complement the team. If Mike D`Antoni , who at the time, was unable to figure out what his best starting lineup was meant to be during the 2012 schedule . I would hate to think what the hell, they the fans actually thought that they were able to witness from the team last season !

While Kobe Bryant may well have taken umbrage to the fact , that the Lakers were placed as no better than the twelfth best team in the conference and as a playoff contender . In truth , the team based on its current makeup, might only be two or three places higher better than many of the analysts have the Los Angeles Lakers. A 7-7 record now have the Lakers a half-game behind the eighth placed Denver Nuggets (7-6) , with the team now sitting in the eleventh position amongst the Western Conference based franchises . The revelation for the Lakers this season, with Bryant still sidelined and recuperating from an injury , has been the play of Jodie Meeks , Nick Young and Xavier Henry . With Pau Gasol , leading all players, from an offensive standpoint , the Lakers will seek to find some consistency , while waiting the imminent return of Kobe Bryant.

A recent victory over the Sacramento Kings , during which the Los Angeles Lakers give one of their best performances of this young season , added to the angst., but also delivered some excitement for the fans, though not negating the team’s plight. Even with the return of Kobe Bryant , and the expectations always high , it is difficult to comprehend how anyone can believe that the team will be good enough to not only gain a playoff berth , but also to be likely looked upon as a credible contender for the NBA title . Bryant and Gasol are aging veterans, whose best years, are now behind them . Two-time league MVP , Steve Nash , can no longer be relied upon to give the team anything more than perhaps twenty minutes per game , wherever possible. The “smart money” says that the Lakers will be hard pressed to make the postseason and if they do , it is highly unlikely , that they will be able to take down one of the more highly ranked teams within the conference.

Michael Carter-Williams , Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore , are certainly justifying the faith shown in them by the teams who acquired these rookies during the 2013 NBA Draft . In light of that fact , their 2012 predecessors are still finding their way, with the exception I believe of Damian Lillard , who is now proving to be a very special player . As to whether or not this season’s rookies, are likely to make their respective franchises an impact this season, remains to be seen . Yet, it is clear, their early season productivity , has given the general managers in question , a great deal of satisfaction and relief, by way of their play. . Decidedly, the Rookie of the Year will come from one of the trio of aforementioned players or possibly from one of the more than fifteen players now viewed as likely contenders based on their productivity .

I mentioned this in an earlier post , because I felt it necessary given the fact that not only has the NBA hierarchy and union (NBPA) become ambivalent as to the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’S) s , but it would appear that David Stern has a lackadaisical attitude on the whole issue, altogether . He pretty much towed the line of bumbling idiots such as Roger Goodell and Bud Selig , when all three as well as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman each addressed a congressional committee on the use of steroids within their respective sports . As we know the NFL has yet to adopt a policy voted on and ratified by the NFLPA (Players’ Union) as far back as 2010. Major League Baseball finds itself in the midst of what has now become a farcical arbitration process involving Alex Rodriguez . In the NHL what common sense there is to be actually found , is not being imparted by anyone within the game itself, but from outsiders.

With the recent statement made by Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban that he would like to see the use of performance enhancing drugs within the NBA , strictly to aid a players’ recovery process . I would like to know why Cuban believes that action to be of actual benefit to the game ? While steroidal medicine does have its use within the field of medicine, specifically amongst those suffering from muscular atrophy. Yet, by the widespread rampant misuse within the NFL as well as baseball, it has now become a pandemic . Mark Cuban , much like his arch nemesis Donald Trump , likes to be the center of attention , no matter how ridiculous the statements that he tends to make , which are with ever-increasing regularity . When broached on the subject, as how the league would actually monitor a players’ usage of a PED, Cuban’s response , was that should be a decision, best left to the league itself. And one wonders, why no one takes either Mark Cuban or Donald Trump seriously , on a wide variety of issues ? The Mavericks’ owner is simply buying into the idiocy, that the use of a PED is the fastest way to assist a player suffering with a bad injury, without ever truly acknowledging the dangers its misuse can bring . Also , Cuban failed to acknowledge that there are other alternatives, beyond the use of what is already a banned substance by the NBA , unless a medical waiver has been obtained from the league . Either, this was overlooked by Cuban, or he has some type of asinine , nonsensical point to make. I simply believe it to be the latter at this juncture !

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In light of the points raised within this article, what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it has always been greatly appreciated !

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:Picture and slideshow details.
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(1) Chicago Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau , left is seen with point guard Derrick Rose , center and GM Gar Forman . With the player being lost to the franchise for a second consecutive season , the damage done to the moral and psyche of the team , could very well be irreparable . A prognosis of the player’s injury, would suggest that another twelve to fifteen month layoff could be on the cards for league MVP in 2011 . Chicago Sun Times / Joe Cowdrey ……….

(2) Damian Lillard , left , and LaMarcus Aldridge are two of the primary reasons why the Portland Trailblazers currently have the second best record in the Western Conference behind the San Antonio Spurs . AP Photo / Tom Steward …….

(3) From left to right , Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers , in the foreground , head coach Mike D’Antoni , point guard Steve Nash and far right , center Pau Gasol . All three players this season and last have had their share of injury woes . Bryant is currently sidelined by an injury and hopes to make a return to the Lakers starting lineup at some point within the next two or three weeks , dependent on medical clearance from the team’s chief physician . Getty Images / Randall Carter …..

(4) LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 10: Ben McLemore (16) a of the Sacramento Kings shoots against the Los Angeles Lakers in a preseason game played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on October 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

(5) Two egotistical idiots, whose combined net wealth exceeds $ 4.3 billion dollars . Mark Cuban and Donald Trump are two individuals who are said to have a dislike of each other . Yet , there is a common thread between the duo , it remains their outsized egos and penchant for making outrageous statements , without ever having the facts to back up their often ridiculous premise . Gunther Barnes / Telefoto Spa ….
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Squawkers and gawkers …..

Squawkers and gawkers

Just when we all thought to be a great sports’ weekend, across the panacea of that landscape , one or two oddities , idiocies and great moments are witnessed. In the NFL , week twelve provided us with some scintillating play from the players and one or two moments of dubious firsts . Chris Long and his brother Kyle Long appear to get into what was said to be a shoving match on-field , in a game played between the Chicago Bears and St Louis Rams . Brotherly love in the NFL, may well have a new face to it, beyond the typical loves-fest between perhaps the league’s two most active and famous siblings , Peyton Manning and Eli Manning . That asides , Peyton and the Denver Broncos may well have provided us with the best game played on Sunday afternoon , as the team surrendered a twenty point lead to the New England Patriots , as Tom Brady led the Patriots in a rousing come from behind win in overtime .

A minor incident this past weekend in the NFL between Chris and Kyle Long , that in some cases set the NFL world abuzz .

With losses now suffered by the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs , the AFC has now become a wide open race with four games left to the regular season and the top two berths in the conference still up for grabs . It certainly sets the stage, for an interesting race to finish line over the four remaining games of the regular season schedule.

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Somehow, both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are now having something of an astonishing turnaround to their respective seasons. Both teams have now sauntered to a one and three-win streak respectively, suddenly lifting themselves both, out of a position of mediocrity within their respective divisions . As to what this might suggest about the quality of the opponents faced on Sunday has to be also tempered by the quality of lack thereof now being witnessed in the NFL . No amount of enthusiasm a by a group of former NFL players , now on air analysts , singing the praises of the league’s teams , can now excuse the fact that the league has now become a rather bland product !

The Buccaneers’ 24-21 victory over a very overrated Detroit Lions’ team, says as much about the two combatants and the very fact that this Greg Schiano coached team along with their three-game win streak have now become the focus of attention , with their being a great deal of speculation as to whether or not the beleaguered head coach would in fact survive the season . As Matt Stafford continues to put up impressive annual stats , one has to now question the fact, that Jim Schwartz seems to have forgotten that defense is also very much a prerequisite in today’s NFL game.

Speaking of teams, who appear to show no desire to actually play with a model of consistency , beyond now losing with alarming regularity . Are there any remaining fantasy geeks out there, still willing to put their trust in Matt Ryan , much less the Atlanta Falcons as a team? The Falcons in their divisional contest with the New Orleans Saints , sank to a new level of mediocrity , with their fifth successive loss of the season , dropping the team to league low 2-9 record and at the bottom of the NFC South and the NFC , respectively . Who would have thought that at the beginning of the season for a team coming off a league-high 13-3 record in 2012 , along with a divisional title and having made it into the postseason ? Injuries asides , beyond the loss of Julio Jones , the Falcons are now indicating why this suggestion of their being ” parity in the NFL ” is simply nothing more than an urban legend . It comes down to coaching , but above all , talent on the field of play . Yet the hyperbole created and the notion of parity , it begs the question is this merely a matter of creating a ” water cooler topic ” to discuss all season long ? I will leave you, to be the judge of all that !

Last season’s NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers , are proving to be human after-all. Colin Kaepernick in particular , no longer impervious, has shown himself susceptible to being inconsistent in terms of his play , and what was said to be one of the league’s most stymieing secondary’s are also proving hype doesn’t necessarily allude to greatness .

. A two-game losing streak has placed the Niners in somewhat of a precarious position as the league enters the final quarter of the regular season schedule . Tonight’s , Monday night contest at Fedex Field against the Washington Redskins could to prove to be a very interesting game between these NFC rivals . A victory, is a necessity, for both teams, as each seeks to add their legitimacy as a playoff contender . To think that the Redskins, with their record of 4-7 , are not completely out of their divisional race , does seem to be mind-boggling . Yet consider the fact, that NFC East joint divisional leaders the Dallas Cowboys (6-5) and Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) are barely above.500 adds even more credibility behind the rationale , that not only has the play this season been abysmal , but the quartet of teams within this particular division are just not that good .

The return of Derrick Rose , this season to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls , was seen as a tremendous positive not only for the franchise , but also for the league itself. Barely a month , into the NBA season and the fans have witnessed the loss of the point guard to what first appeared to have been an innocuous injury. News’ updates, have suggested that Rose has a torn the meniscus cruciate ligament (MCL) in his right knee and is now likely out, for the remainder of the season. Having not appeared at all, in any games during the 2012 season , Derrick Rose , now being sidelined , is as big a blow to the Chicago Bulls as it will be for the rest of the NBA , without fans being able to witness one of the best point guards in the game , as well as one of the best players overall in the entire league. The team’s chances of making the postseason, will have diminished, but not to the extent where they are likely to be written off as a non-contender as an Eastern Conference titlist .

Rose’s loss for the season , came in the team’s lopsided defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers . While fans and analysts alike, continue to gauge that loss , it is the points guard’s injury and the possible long-term effect on his blossoming career that now comes into question . The Bulls as an organization has a large monetary investment in the player and how they now deal with that issue will be now be predicated upon the decisions that are likely to be made jointly by Tom Thibodeau , owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Gar Forman . The team will now have to refocus their efforts and rally behind the play of Luol Deng , Carlos Boozer , Kirk Hinrich , Jimmy Butler , Gibson and Joakim Noah . If the players can exhibit the type of effort and resilience shown during the 2011 postseason , then any doubts that some observers are likely to have , could be overlooked .

Chicago will get their first opportunity to perform without their All Star point guard , when they face the Utah Jazz , as these two teams meet on Monday night in an infra-conference match-up. How the Bulls perform in that contest might not be enough of a guide to indicate how they are likely to fare over the remainder of their season , but might clue us in, as to the temperament of the team as a whole , as they seek to go on without Derrick Rose .

The Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban , self-styled narcissist and publicity seeking hound , the majority of the time, can also be a pompous ass ! Granted , with the Mavericks having won their lone NBA title in 2011 , he may well feel that gives him the luxury of pointing out the woes of NBA Commissioner David Stern as well as criticizing that executive , as to what he still believes to be wrong with the game . Certainly , I cannot question Cuban’s wealth , but the so-called business acumen that many seem to be under the impression that he currently possesses , should be tempered by the fact he recently ran afoul of the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) and US Justice Department for ‘ insider trading’. Cuban’s premise, that he was a victim of a political witch-hunt , was about as asinine as his latest comments , attributed to the Mavericks’ owner ” that performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) should now be allowed in the NBA” , with its use being strictly monitored by the league hierarchy . Educated or not , Mark Cuban’s continued stupidity and outlandish persona, is simply another reason why a great deal of the time why he has never been taken seriously by a number of his peers in and outside of the game. As to this latest statement by Cuban , it begs the question, since when was it appropriate to counteract and violate league rules in order to make a diluted product , even less attractive than it already happens to be ? Cuban may well have been acquitted of the charges , and once again , the incompetency of the prosecution (US Attorney’s Office) in the presentation of the government’s case allowed the defendant to walk .

Mark Cuban’s belief that by using performance enhancing drugs to strictly aid with a player’s recovery from an injury , would be of benefit to the league . Perhaps, the Mavericks’ owner has yet to view the pandemic created by the misuse of PED’S in baseball, and the very fact that the MLBPA (union) , much like the NBPA (Players’ Union) , have both been completely disingenuous in dealing with the issue. Cuban’s concerns, if anything, should be about the long-term future of the Dallas Mavericks and where they are likely to be, upon the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki , the franchise’s leading scorer in their history . It is not as if this team , is now likely to get any better , as Nowiztki’s career has now plateaued , and where he is no longer a force to be reckoned with, as he was during his prime.

Currently at 9-5 , fourteen games into the season the Dallas Mavericks sit in second place behind instate rivals the San Antonio Spurs (12-1) within the Southwest Division of the Western Conference . That mark is good enough for fifth place within the conference overall and sixth place within for the NBA as a whole . The Mavericks led by aging veterans , Nowitzki and Shawn Marion , could very well struggle during the latter part of their season , when health and attrition will play a great deal in what this team is likely to achieve . Coming off a two-point loss to the Denver Nuggets , the two teams will meet again on Monday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver , Colorado.

Now losers of five straight and eight of their last ten games , it is becoming extremely difficult to justify the hire of Jason Kidd , to coach the Brooklyn Nets . Furthermore, Kidd now at his worst by way of his coaching record, appears to be is no better than when Avery Johnson coached this franchise, but was summarily dismissed because of a player revolt. Nets’ GM Billy King and team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov , I believe will soon see the error of their ways , with this asinine and ridiculous hire. Take into account the team’s payroll and the rather asinine belief by anal retentive fans, that the Nets can spend their way out of trouble will actually make them a credible force within the NBA, this season . The Nets as a team, have no defensive presence and the contributory efforts of Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry , has bordered on being anemic to say he very least.

As if to further emphasize how bad the Brooklyn Nets just happens to be , only the lamentable Milwaukee Bucks (2-10) have a worst record in the entire Eastern Conference . Sunday’s twelve point home loss by Brooklyn to the Detroit Pistons , should be seen as a reverberating wake-up call for entire Nets’ front office , but with the recent announcement that both Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov will continue to back their embattled head coach to the hilt . I guess, it will be only a matter of time , before we will either see Kidd fall on his sword and summarily re-sign or at the behest of the fans, King makes the decision to relieve the coach of his duties . No use , dressing up a pig and trying to suggest that it is a sow , because that in essence , is what the fans were asked to believe when Jason Kidd was hired to coach this team . His playing credentials were never in question , but his lack of coaching acumen has been on full show , a lack of discipline , and his not being able to communicate with his players, effectively shows this to have been an extremely poor hiring choice to begin with .

This baseball off- season, has been, one of a great deal of speculation and some rather surprising moves. The ongoing “dramedy ” of the Alex Rodriguez hearings , have taken on a life of their own and as a fan of the game , I do believe that this whole process, will not change a damn thing , as it pertains to the landscape within baseball ! The league hierarchy remains incompetent , the union simply overpowering , the owners greedy , and the vast majority of the players are simply disingenuous and under the impression that they still uphold a wonderful tradition , and nothing could be further from the truth .

In one of the more surprising moves , the Detroit Tigers sent Prince Fielder and the remainder of his gargantuan contract off to the Texas Rangers , in exchange for Ian Kinsler . Two under-achieving AL teams simply swapping juju beans, while Jack is still climbing to the top of the Beanstalk. From my own perspective, the Tigers have now reached their zenith, and their recent postseason forays under former manager Jim Leyland , suggests that this team, has nothing left to offer beyond, being very good during the regular season. While this move can be simply seen, as GM Dave Dombrowski seeking to get Fielder’s contract off the books , in order for the team’s pursuance of pitcher Max Scherzer and a contract extension , now seems one that might not be that costly , but it is still likely to leave Detroit with one of the highest team payrolls in all of baseball .

With no one being able to explain the financial mindset within the game of baseball, I believe that during this off-season , we are likely to see the game’s first $300 million player by way of long-term contract ! Some might deem this to be ludicrous, but consider the following, Alex Rodriguez is still on track to have career earnings from the game of $ 500 million , having signed two contracts exceeding $250 million apiece . No one has yet faulted the rationale behind any of the deals in question , but now with Robinson Cano and Clayton Kershaw being the two off-season marquee free agents , although the pitcher’s situation comes by way of his arbitration status . It would appear, that the Los Angeles Dodgers are eager to res-sign the pitcher and have all but promised to make him the highest paid pitcher in the game.

For Robinson Cano and his ubiquitous agent, Jay-z , it is his desire to be seen, as a legitimate conduit, able to “seal a deal” for his client. The New York Yankees can ill-afford to lose a player of Cano’s caliber, but at the same time with Hal Steinbrenner seeking to reduce the team’s payroll below his desired $200 million threshold , it will be a daunting task for GM Brian Cashman to re-sign the slugger and not actually “ break the bank “ .

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From the outside looking in , this past sporting weekend has been an interesting but strange paradigm as a number of events have played themselves out on a very public scale for the sports’ fans in general . I cannot help but wonder, what now waits at the very next turn! What observations have you witnessed or would hope to see in the coming weeks within the world of sports ?

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Quarterback Tom Brady (12) hands off to running back Stevan Ridley (22) of the New England Patriots against the Denver Broncos during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Brady would engineer a fourth quarter comeback for the Patriots , with the team defeating the Broncos 34-31 to win the game in overtime . Getty Images North America / Jared Wickerham ….

(2) Running back Montee Ball (28) of the Denver Broncos fumbles the ball in the third quarter against the New England Patriots during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jared Wickerham …..

(3) Quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints is pressured by outside linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) of the Atlanta Falcons during a game at the Georgia Dome on November 21, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox ….

(4) Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose , who for the second time in three years has seen his NBA career curtailed by an injury . The player will be lost to the team for the entire season having torn an MCL in his right knee . The diagnosis , as we now know it to be , will be his having to receive arthroscopic surgery and then a long recuperation and rehabilitation process of possibly between twelve to fourteen months . AP Photo / Kerry Anderson ….

(5) Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban seen here on the set of the ABC reality show ” Shark Tank” . Cuban in a recent statement believes that the NBA should allow the use of performance enhancing drugs within the game, to aid a player in the recuperative process after having suffered an injury . Failing to acknowledge the ongoing issues now facing baseball (MLB) , the gregarious owner still stands by his statement. courtesy of ABC/Disney Television …..

(6) Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw seen here in the team’s dugout from a game earlier this season will be seeking a healthy pay increase . All signs are pointing to the fact that the player who is in an arbitration year will see his salary increase considerably , with the front office also offering the player a long-term deal , likely to make him the highest paid player on the team’s roster . AP Photo / Mark Todd …………

(7) Brooklyn Nets’ GM Billy King (left) is seen here alongside the team’s head coach Jason Kidd. With the team off to a horrendous start to the season , the front office has issued a public statement backing the beleaguered rookie head coach. NY Daily News / AP Photo/ Jose Figueroa ……
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You don’t want to be the guy who replaces a legend , you want to be the guy comes in after the legend’s successor is said to have failed miserably

You don’t want to be the guy who replaces a legend , you want to be the guy comes in after the legend’s successor is said to have failed miserably

Over the past two decades within professional team sports , we have seen the departures great players from the game , either through retirement or their trade to another franchise. Though not thought to be earth shattering at the time , the feeling was that Peyton Manning’s departure from the Indianapolis Colts and the organization’s handling of the matter was haphazard , incompetent and somewhat disrespectful , given Manning’s contribution and resurgence of that particular franchise. The famed quarterback’s success along with Tony Dungy’s coaching acumen brought about that success , the added profitability of the Colts and to the overall wealth of the team’s owner Jim Irsay .

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With the Indianapolis Colts having traded Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos , the team was lucky enough to have drafted Andrew Luck out of Stanford as the number one overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft . Luck’s success as a rookie and subsequent play has simply been a revelation , having led the team into the postseason in 2012 , along with his peer Robert Griffin III , who was able to achieve a similar feat with the Washington Redskins .

This season , both the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins have followed different paths, with the defending NFC East champions are likely to miss the postseason , after an erratic season of missed opportunities and a great deal of finger-pointing around the organization , with the actual coaching acumen of Mike Shanahan and his coaching acumen now coming into question, along with that of his coaching staff . At the same time, Robert Griffin’s play this season has been far from scintillating , somewhat of a surprise to many, given his growth and maturity shown over the first two years of his NFL career. This season , much like the team’s, Griffin’s performances , along with the other quarterbacks within the NFC East , have been understated and amongst the most erratic in the entire NFL . Yet , if there is blame to be apportioned , then a great deal of that must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Redskins’ secondary and the poor play exhibited over the course of the season . With the team now in preparation for their week twelve scheduled Monday night match-up against the high-flying San Francisco 49ers , in an NFC contest to be played at Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland . It will be interesting to see what steps will be taken by the Washington Redskins as they take on the NFC West divisional antagonists.

There is no denying that Andrew Luck’s success has been contagious and that it has affected the organization throughout , with the fans coming in droves to see a newly revamped team play at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indiana , Indianapolis , all under the watchful eye of head coach Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff . Having replaced an icon and legend in Peyton Manning, it would appear that the young quarterback , Andrew Luck is prepared to lead the Colts’ into a new chapter of their history . That next phase, will begin on Sunday , when the Colts are guests of the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Tempe , Arizona, where former Colts’ assistant Bruce Arians is now the head coach of the host team . Arians and the Cardinals will be looking to see if they can secure a win , in order to leapfrog the second placed San Francisco 49ers within the NFC West , in a division that is now blossoming into a thoroughly enthralling contest between the top three teams , by way of its competitiveness .

Robert Griffin’s path of succession in following in a long line of shall we say lackluster Redskins’ quarterbacks over the past eight seasons , has been one of the numerous reasons why the franchise has failed so miserably . Reading off those list of names of nondescript individuals , would be akin to reading the recipe of ingredients from a can of soup , produced as a generic brand to be stocked on the shelves of your local supermarket. The list of Rex Grossman , a past his prime , Donovan McNabb , Jason Campbell , Mark Brunell , and Patrick Ramsey have all got something in common . They have played for a franchise, where the team owner , Dan Snyder , has spared no expense , in carrying on with the Redskins’ ineptitude, since he took the helm of the Washington Redskins in 1999, as its main proprietor .

At 3-7 within the NFC East , the record of the Washington Redskins has proven to be a monumental disappointment . In a division , where the only team above .500 in terms of a winning record are the Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) . It is a damning indictment, as to how bad the teams are said to be, in what has been repeatedly described as the “glamor division “ . of the NFL , with the brand and product having become so diluted . Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there has been absolutely nothing glamorous about the quartet of teams much less their play over the course of this season . As I alluded to earlier , the quarterback play also has been something of an abomination and it is also, another clear indicator as to how bad things now appear to be, even in spite of a number of analysts now salivating over the play of Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles , who may well be on the verge bringing about the abrupt end of Michael Vick’s career with the franchise . If former, Philly head coach, Andy Reid could not see it for himself, that Vick is now past his prime . Then surely Reid’s successor , Chip Kelly must now realize that fact for himself , given the rather innocuous performances from the veteran player player this season , in spite of his health issues .

One could perhaps attest to the fact that where would be something of a misnomer with regard to the title of this piece and how it relates to the NFL , may well have been the passing on of the baton from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana to Steve Young . Though not necessarily controversial at the time, Favre’s unwillingness to take a back seat to a younger and most certainly a more receptive player in Rodgers, led to the veteran being looked upon as a rather petulant individual . Brett Favre’s departure from the Green Bay Packers had its supporters and detractors. Yet, it should be noted, the all-time career touchdowns’ passing as well as career passing yardage leader , never showed the form that made him such a treat to watch after his departure from the Packers. After a fifteen career in Green Bay , the subsequent stops in New York with the New York Jets ( one year) and two years with the Minnesota Vikings were as eventful , as they were somber. No doubt, upon meeting the eligibility requirements, Brett Favre will become a first year ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

Aaron Rodgers, has all but erased the memory of Brett Favre ever existing and playing at Lambeau Field for one the league’s most revered and venerable NFL franchises . Now considered to be amongst the elite of the NFL quarterbacks, now playing in the NFL , his career has been a personification of dedication to his craft , as well as having the respect of his peers and teammates alike. Other than, Tom Brady , Peyton Manning and Drew Brees , I seriously doubt that there is a more well-liked or respected quarterback in the entire NFL !

Five Superbowl victories for an NFL franchise, tends to tell you a great deal about an organization and what they have been able to achieve over the course of their existence . The transition from Joe Montana to Steve Young did a have a few bumps in the road , but who can deny the fact that these two quarterbacks along with Jerry Rice , Roger Craig , Ronnie Lott , Dwight Clark , Jesse Sapolu and the franchise’s legendary head coach Bill Walsh may well have done more to put the San Francisco 49ers on the map , beyond Walsh’s influence on the game , through his play-calling . Montana and Young between them, account for all five of those Superbowl triumphs, with their names being etched in postseason history in terms of their respective performances in the postseason and the “big game ” itself .

After a spectacular 2012 , during which we witnessed the San Francisco 49ers make their sixth Superbowl appearance. The team would not fare as well , as in their previous forays , as Colin Kaepernick and his teammates would fall to their AFC opponents the Baltimore Ravens 34-31 in a game blighted by the incompetence of not only the NFL hierarchy , utility’s company Entergy , but also the host site, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome , home to the New Orleans Saints , operated by SMG and a venue owned by the Louisiana Expo & Sports Authority . The explanations forthcoming, as to why a power outage interrupted the NFL’s biggest spectacle were as ludicrous, as Roger Goodell’s comments that the stoppage, did nothing to take away from the event , nor did it have an effect on the end result. One more reason, why the incumbent NFL commissioner cannot be taken seriously as the league’s highest ranking executive. His communicative and leadership skills , beyond being remarkably poor, are in fact a complete embarrassment to the NFL and the teams he presides over .

I have been reading with a great deal of interest , where Hakeem Olajuwon , a Hall of Fame inductee , whose playing career with the Houston Rockets was unprecedented , has now taken it upon himself along with fellow inductee and Rockets’ head coach Kevin McHale , to assist in improving and “polishing ” the game of Dwight Howard . These two great players from a bygone era of excellence within the NBA , may well be taking on a great deal than either would care or be willing to admit . Howard may well have been, a Defensive Player of the Year within the league on multiple occasions , but his offensive prowess , as well as leadership skills and lack of maturity, has repeatedly come into question . It was self-evident and there for all to see, as the player struggled to show any signs of leadership, much less being able, to impose his will on a game , while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers last season .

The fact that Dwight Howard was acquired by the Lakers’ franchise as a long-term investment and seen as heir-apparent to Kobe Bryant , as the vocal leader of the Los Angeles Lakers, came and went as swiftly , as Howard’s decision to bolt from the Lakers , taking less money , to sign with the Rockets . If that was not indicative of the fact, that the center simply could not handle any form of adversity , then his now constant moaning , as to why he has been criticized by many of the elder statesmen of the game , is clear evidence that Dwight Howard will never be viewed as one of the best players at the position to have ever played the game. The NBA in terms of the play of the centers now within the game, are a far cry from what many of the fans have witnessed during the heydays of David Robinson . , Hakeem Olajuwon , Shaquille O’Neal , Bill Russell , Kareem Abdul Jabbar , Nate Thurmond , Patrick Ewing , Willis Reed and Moses Malone . All of whom were known to be ferocious competitors . Can the same be even remotely said about Dwight Howard , even as many now regard him as the best center , currently now playing in the NBA ?

Dwight Howard’s acquisition by the Rockets, in some circles was seen as the missing piece for a franchise with a legitimate shot of making the NBA Playoffs this upcoming season. In bolstering a roster , led by the presence of James Harden , Jeremy Lin , Ronnie Brewer , Patrick Beverley , Chandler Parsons and Aaron Brooks . The team was seen as a solid enough of a competitor to challenge the presence of the San Antonio Spurs (10-1) within the Southwest Division of the Western Conference . Coming off a narrow three-point 123-120 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night , the Rockets will face the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center in Houston , Texas on Saturday evening , in what is likely to be a very lively contest between these two Western Conference foes.

Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander and GM Daryl Morey, made a bold move, that will either prove to be a success or simply backfire for the organization. While, I believe Dwight Howard will be of some benefit to the Houston Rockets, I just cannot see the player as the person who will now get the team “ over the hump” that will make them a legitimate threat to the more prominent teams within the conference , such as the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers and what now appears to be a very talented and well-coached Golden State Warriors’ roster. I may well be wrong, but at this juncture, my observations are based on what I have seen from Dwight Howard , and the fact that he’s now being asked to fill the shoes of predecessors before him on the Rockets, who made significant progress in making the franchise more widely recognized . Hakeem Olajuwon and to an extent , Yao Ming made you aware of the franchise in terms of what they brought to the Houston Rockets . Has Dwight Howard actually been able to do that any point of his career, beyond his goofy off the court antics and winning a meaningless Slam Dunk Contest ?

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Picture gallery .

Do you believe it easy, for a professional sport’s franchise to replace an iconic legend that has been associated with a team over a long period of time? Or as teams would always like to suggest “ it’s time to move on” , more often than not, because of monetary issues , rather than the athlete’s possible declining production ? Your comments are most certainly welcomed on this and anything else you believe to be of value to the premise stated this moderated piece.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Mar 7, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning speaks and Jim Irsay stands beside him to announce during a press conference at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center that Peyton Manning will become a free agent. Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE ….

(2) Andrew Luck, left of the Indianapolis Colts is seen here with team owner Jim Irsay. . The quarterback, who was drafted out of Stanford as the number one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , proved to be an immediate success with the franchise having taken the team into the postseason and the Colts now seem to be set , in terms of their long-term future with a quarterback who has proven to productive , with an immediate impact for the Indianapolis Colts from a competitive and financial standpoint. AP Photo / Garry Moss …

(3) Washington Redskins` starting quarterback Robert Griffin III is seen here with the team’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins . The team as defending champions within of the NFC East , now find themselves in almost untenable position of being at the bottom of the division and likely to miss the playoffs , having rode into the 2012 postseason riding on a sea of optimism and at the same time , projected long-term success. Instead, this season has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster , with a defense performing poorly , with alarming regularity and the same could be said of the offense . GM Bruce Allen and team owner Dan Snyder are likely to make a number of sweeping changes during the off-season concerning the player personnel and quite possibly amongst the coaching staff. Getty Images / Lance Jones …..

(4) Green Bay Packers’ teammates Brett Favre (4) and Aaron Rodgers (12) are seen here seated on the sidelines looking up at the scoreboard . The two players who have been described as not being extremely close , with Favre having been critical of the organization when Rodgers was drafted by team as a late first round draft pick in the 2005 NFL Draft . The backup would not become a regular season starter until 2008 . Brett Favre would later depart from the franchise under a cloud of controversy , with fans and detractors of the veteran , voicing their thoughts publicly , in print, via the airwaves and on television . Getty Images/ Mark Parsons …….

(5) Former 49ers Steve Young (L), Roger Craig (C) and Joe Montana (R) wait to go onto the field for a half time presentation during home opener as the San Francisco 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks at Candlestick Park September 20, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images North America / David Paul Morris ….

(6) Hall of Fame inductee Hakeem Olajuwon foreground , shows the Houston Rockets’ center Dwight Howard a few on-court drills and moves . Howard , since his arrival with the franchise has performed moderately , but the team now evolves around the play of point guard Jeremy Lin and James Harden . Olajuwon , GM Daryl Morey and head coach Kevin McHale see Howard as a vital part of the team’s offense , as they seek to make their presence felt within the Western Conference this season . AP Photo / Matt Shields ….

(7) Newly acquired center Dwight Howard , left foreground , is seen here with Houston Rockets’ great Hakeem Olajuwon and the team’s head coach Kevin McHale in the background at the team’s venue the Toyota Center in Houston Texas . Signed as a free agent in the off-season , the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is seeking establish himself as the premiere center in the NBA , after a somewhat lackluster year in 2012 , with Howard being unable to assist the Los Angeles Lakers during the postseason in any great depth . AP Photo / Keith Miller ….

(8) Two legendary giants of the game and some might agree a pair of centers who at the height of their careers were the most dominant players of their generation as centers . Bill Russell , left , whose career with the Boston Celtics is littered with accolades too numerous to mention , shakes hands with Kareem Abdul Jabbar , whose own career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are synonymous as Russell’s with the Boston Celtics . AP Photo / Roger Pettigrew …. …….

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If you can’t stand the heat, then stay the hell out of the kitchen .

If you can’t stand the heat, then stay the hell out of the kitchen .

As the NBA season still is still til in its infancy , we are already seeing the struggles of several notable teams thought to be legitimate contenders for the NBA title . Last season, we saw both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks make somewhat spirited forays as part of the NBA Playoffs , only to subsequently fall in the first round and the conference semi-finals within the Eastern Conference. From my own standpoint , although their efforts were admirable , in no way could either team be seen as a real threat to derail the eventual champions , the Miami Heat , simply based on the performances of the Heat during the entire playoffs ! Unfortunately, for fans of the New York Knicks, as always, has been their want, theirs is a world built around their belief that sports’ world is encapsulated around everything that exists within the organization , the players , management and the coaching staff .

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Coming into this season, a great deal was expected of the New York Knicks and specifically , this team , led by Carmelo Anthony , Tyson Chandler , J R Smith , Metta World Peace , Amare` Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert . Head coach Mike Woodson , long seen as a very good coach of young players, has sought instill discipline into a roster that was simply lacking that trait in 2012 , and it would appear that the trait still remains , as the Knicks are off to an understated start , having posted a 3-7 record through their first ten games of the season . Good enough, to have them at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and amongst the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference .

Now losers of three straight , one could attest to the fact that the Knicks are still seeking a footing in terms of consistency , but the evidence would suggest otherwise , with erratic play both defensively and on offense . On Wednesday night , the team will play host to the Indiana Pacers (9-1) , the current pace setters within the Central Division , as well as the conference , in a game that will be played at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York , home to the New York Knicks. While I believe the Knicks to be merely a competent team , I simply do not believe that they have the depth or the mindset to be considered good enough to dethrone the Miami Heat in a seven-game playoff series . Granted , Knicks’ fans will always point to their defeat of the Heat during the regular season, but in essence that imply counts for nothing, when there is not a great deal at stake. It has always been the postseason , where legacies are made, and at this juncture, the New York fans have simply forgotten that very fact.

How the Knicks acquit themselves against the Pacers, could tell us a great deal about the team as they move forward. A loss , not while catastrophic, could start to raise questions about the makeup of this roster and whether not a number of roster moves might well need to be made at some point during the season . GM Steve Mills , might well need to take a look at his options, should he seek to improve the roster in order to strengthen the team’s chances of making the postseason

With the baseball season now over and a World Series’ champion having been crowned , with the Boston Red Sox claiming their title in the last ten years. One of the more unsavory aspects of this past season has now raised its ugly head, with the ongoing procedural hearing concerning Alex Rodriguez’s attempts to have his suspension overturned during arbitration , with special arbitrator Frederic Horowitz presiding over the entire appeal’s process. Ten days into this proceeding , the defendant , Rodriguez , has decided to show his disgust with this all, by leaving the MLB headquarters , showing his utter disdain for Horowitz, after the arbitrator made the decision not have MLB Commissioner Bud Selig take the stand to stand to fully explain the reasons for the league’s stance in taking their current action to have the New York Yankees’ third baseman for a record two-hundred and fourteen-game suspension.

The league’s position, has been that Rodriguez has been less than truthful in the testimony provided to the league’s investigators, as well as the evidence now in their possession , in some cases paid for , as part of their evidence gathering from the now defunct South Florida based supplements’ company Biogenesis . Company founder, Anthony “Tony” Bosch , now under federal indictment for a number of federal charges , concerning drug trafficking and the selling and distribution of prescription drugs , has agreed to testify on behalf of Major League Baseball. As to what bearing, this will have not only on this hearing, but also Bosch’s own liberty , as he awaits his federal trial , will most likely be dependent upon how damaging his testimony is likely to be against Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and his high-priced legal team , headed by criminal attorneys David Cornwell and Joe Tacopina will have now have a hard time trying to disprove the case against their client , after his actions , and the alleged use of “foul language” by Alex Rodriguez , in describing the whole procedure as a ‘ ###king farce’ , as well as directing a great of his venom at the commissioner and the arbitrator. Were this a criminal case, I seriously doubt that the player’s actions would be so direct , and filled with such anger towards the aforementioned parties !

While I do believe in due process , it is very hard for me to now see how Rodriguez can see his action as being a positive ! His credibility has already come into question , with his repeated non refusal to address earlier claims that he had used performance enhancing drugs , prior to this latest allegation of ties to Biogenesis and the evidence of his having purchased a cache of different substances for his personal use , all in violation of the league’s policy. Bear in mind also , the player is also seeking legal recourse, with his own action against MLB as well as the lead medical physician of the New York Yankees , and what he feels has been a collusive act to have him driven out of baseball . As to why a team doctor would seek to work in conjunction with the league hierarchy to have a player thrown out of the game , simply defies logic , based on Rodriguez’s premise and that of the lawyers’ case in the civil suit filed in US District Court in Manhattan . Seeking punitive damages , emotional distress, loss of income, defamation and damage to his reputation ? Is Alex Rodriguez actually serious, with those claims ?

Rodriguez’s attempts to cast the league’s case as a witch-hunt I believe has more to do with the fact that he may well have felt that any suspension rendered against might well have been in line those meted out to the other twelve players named in the league’s investigative findings and then suspended . A maximum penalty of sixty-five games was handed down to the Brewers’ Ryan Braun , who has subsequently apologized for his actions , in lying not only to the fans the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization ,. but also to the league hierarchy for his misdeeds. A far cry, from his original denial in 2011, the year he won the NL MVP Award , while offering up a web of deceit and lies .

In March of 2010, Alex Rodriguez, himself, would apologize publicly for his steroid use, with the New York Yankees’ organization orchestrating much of the actual premise behind the player’s act of contrition. Yet less than eighteen months later , Rodriguez’s name would come up in association with that of Orlando medical professional , Dr Anthony Galea , who was said to be running a “pill mill” out of his offices in the Central Florida haven . Galea , now serving his time in a federal facility after a plea agreement with the U S Justice Department , was never questioned by the MLB’s investigators concerning links to Rodriguez and the player, himself when broached on the subject, simply deflected those questions with the usual baseball banter of wanting to see the team do well , and that he was not involved or did not know Galea , nor did he have any idea, how his name came to be associated with the now convicted felon. Come full circle, and it now appears, that Alex Rodriguez will seek to muddy with the waters, , with the actions taken , while also seeking to show that baseball’s hierarchy is in fact incompetent , disingenuous and cannot be trusted. The player may well be right , but at this juncture, who are you likely to give the benefit of the doubt to ? The player, or the MLB hierarchy in terms of their respective actions ?

The MLB hierarchy , as led by Bud Selig , along with the team owners and union, bear the brunt of the responsibility for this continued farce , even with Alex Rodriguez trying to dramatically play the victim , when his portrayal , if anything , has more to do with that of a villain with an amoral attitude. As to the player’s claim, that he has a deep respect for the game , his actions have shown that to be a falsehood in the past and now in the present after his less than civil behavior during an arbitration proceeding .

As the NFL enters the final five weeks of the regular season ,with the week twelve schedule giving us a taste of another Thursday night contest between NFC divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints (8-2) . I simply cannot help but wonder, how many of us would have thought that the Falcons’ season would have become so miserable and with their now being calls for the head of Mike Smith as well GM Thomas Dimitroff and a number of players on this roster ! There now seems to be nothing to play for, concerning the Falcons, other than pride and self-respect. Even that might not be enough to abate the wrath of their fans , who expected so much more out of the team this season , along with that of their Pro Bowl . quarterback Matt Ryan .

In a division where the Atlanta Falcons were expected to be challenging for divisional dominance over the New Orleans and a now resurgent ,a href=http://nfl.com/teams/profile?team=car> Carolina Panthers (7-3) . This Falcons’ team now finds itself firmly rooted at the bottom of the NFC South with a 2-8 record , which they jointly share with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) , a team that also this season , has been a major disappointment to their fans . There is a common belief that at the end of this season , both Mike Smith and his Buccaneers’ counterpart Greg Schiano are likely to get a reprieve from their respective front offices and are likely to retain their positions. Though, it would not surprise me, were either Thomas Dimitroff or Mark Dominik decided to ” pull the trigger” and simply fire both head coaches ! When all else fails and the players are not being held accountable, then the coach has to be fired. I mean, it’s the nature of the beast , kill or be killed.

Playing for pride and self-respect now appears to be the only thing left for the franchise, beyond their impending draft status. The Falcons’ draft classes in recent years , overall, have been unspectacular, with their being a lack of leadership coming from the “face of the franchise ” , in Matt Ryan. He may well be a very good player , but I have yet to hear anyone describe the player as someone with great leadership qualities . Instead, Ryan is a great regular season quarterback, but the doubts have begun to set in concerning his most recent postseason performances and the lack of recent postseason success by the franchise. . Going forward , it is unlikely that the front office is likely to do anything drastic concerning the quarterback, but there are likely to be several moves structured to improve the roster , in order to make it all the more competitive .

Matt Ryan, has the weight of a burdensome contract that he appears not to be able live up to. Unlike many of his peers at the top NFL “ quarterback food chain” , with the exception of , Sam Bradford , Philip Rivers and Tony Romo , all of the others have won a Superbowl . That if anything, has to be truly indicative of the pressure place upon a player who was drafted to replace the once beloved former Falcons’ icon Michael Vick , whose fall from grace while with the Atlanta Falcons has been well chronicled . As to what, now awaits the Atlanta Falcons over the remainder of their schedule will be predicated upon the effort given by a team , that this season , has been one of the major disappointments of this NFL calendar year. Matt Ryan has a great deal to prove, not only to himself, but also to the Falcons’ fans , as well as the NFL, in terms of his playing ability , and being able to lead the franchise to a Superbowl victory.

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Picture gallery .

In light of the issues raised within this piece , what thoughts if any do you have concerning this article and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the topic ? Simply leave a comment on this and by all means, if you have any suggestions as to future content you would like to see within the site , your thoughts are more than welcomed !

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Carmelo Anthony goes up for the dunk during a game played between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Wednesday night , 20th November , 2013 . Indiana would go on to defeat the Knicks in overtime 103-96 , with Paul George of the Pacers leading all scorers with 35 points during the game. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(2) Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers attempts a shot over the outstretched arms of the New York Knicks’ Beno Udrih (18) . The Pacers with the victory pushed their record to 10-1 , which is the best in the Eastern Conference and the top mark in the NBA alongside the San Antonio Spurs (10-1) . AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(3) Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees is seen here leaving his limousine alongside his attorney Joseph ‘Joe’ Tacopina , as the two arrive at the MLB headquarters in New York City , where the player listened to the arbitration proceedings presided over by the league and union sanctioned arbitrator Frederic Horowitz . On the tenth day of the hearings, the player abruptly left the hearing in anger , slighting both the arbitrator and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for what he believes to be an unjust and flawed hearing . As to how Rodriguez’s action will impact any verdict rendered remains to be seen . For the moment, the player’s defense , in seeking the rescinding of his suspension will be plead by his two lead attorney Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell . Rodriguez also has a civil suit awaiting a trial date to be set in US Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan , New York . AP Photo / James Todd ……

(4) Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons attempts a pass during a game played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional contest at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida , this past Sunday . The Buccaneers would go on to defeat Atlanta 41-28 in what turned to be one the Falcons’ worst performances of the season . On Thursday night they will face another divisional foe , the New Orleans Saints , when the two teams meet at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Georgia ,. The Falcons’ quarterback has performed somewhat erratically through his team’s first ten games of the season , in leading them to a 2-8 record within the NFC South and NFC as a whole . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay ….

(5) Gerald McCoy (93) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sacks Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan during the this past Sunday played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida . Tampa would go on to defeat Atlanta 41-28 in a lopsided victory for the home team . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay …..

(6) Buccaneers’ running back Bobby Rainey (43) scampers into the end-zone , after a forty-three yard touchdown run , that highlighted the team’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons 41-28, this past Sunday . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay ……….

(6) From left to right , Atlanta Falcons’ team owner , Arthur Blank , GM Thomas Dimitroff , head coach Mike Smith and the team’s quarterback , Matt Ryan . The quarterback who recently signed a six-year $113.75 million contract in 2013 , of which $42 million is in guaranteed money , will now have to live up the deal . The expectations are high not only for the player and his long-term future but also for that of the Falcons’ franchise who are seeking to move into a new venue , to be built at an estimated cost of $1.205 billion , during which the Atlanta Falcons are hoping to be ready for the 2014-15 season. A great deal of controversy has surrounded the proposed venue with the Falcons said to only putting up $200 million towards the $1.2 billion cost of the proposed structure, with the rest coming from public funding . AP Photo / Garrett Lang ……

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You say tomato , I say tomato , dynasties are now a thing of the past in the world of professional team sports in North America

You say tomato , I say tomato , dynasties are now a thing of the past in the world of professional team sports in North America

Well, over the weekend, the last of the remaining unbeaten teams fell to conference foes within the NBA and NFL . Safe to say, that for all of the relishing of seeing a truly dominant team in either sport now becomes a thing of the past , much like the respective hierarchies wish to try and suggest that dynasties are still possible within either league. Now while I admire the feats of such teams as the Chicago Bulls in their heyday , when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were leading the franchise to six NBA titles in an eight-year span . Whereas , in the NFL , the league has not seen as back-to-back winner of the Superbowl in over a decade , when that feat was last achieved by the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005 .

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, Hall of Fame inductees , Michael Jordan and teammate Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls. The duo reached the pinnacle within NBA history in guiding the franchise to six NBA titles during an eight year span during which those teams were perhaps the most dominant in all of professional team sports during their reign . Neither the NFL , NHL or MLB has seen that type of dominant reign within their respective sports over the past two decades. AP Photo / John Raoux ….

Now dependent upon how one defines the term “dynasty” , as to whether or not it means prolonged dominance or simply being able establish one’s self as a perennial contender for a title. This all becomes subjective in the eyes of many and how they actually view the issue. The New York Yankees , long seen as baseball’s preeminent franchise with their numerous World Series’ titles and Hall of Famers , stands as a testament to team sports in North America . It could be said that from the late nineties until the early part of this decade , the franchise could be considered the last “ true dynasty” in any of the North American professional team sports.

(2)
(2) Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots are seen here celebrating the first (SB XXXVI) of the franchise’s three Superbowl victories during the past decade . The duo have made six Superbowl appearances having won three with two of those defeats , being suffered at the hands of NFC foes the New York Giants . Brady leads all active quarterbacks in terms of postseason appearances and Superbowl victories. The player and coach are seeking a fourth Lombardi Trophy to join only Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw of Pittsburgh Steelers r to have won a quartet of victories for the NFL’s biggest postseason showcase event , the Superbowl . Getty Images North America / Chris Hodges ….

Joe Torre , now a high-ranking executive within baseball’s hierarchy and seen in some circles as a possible heir-apparent to Bud Selig , once his tenure comes to an end in 2014. Unfortunately , I do not believe that sound intelligence will be brought into place when the MLB Board of Governors come to the decision as to whom should succeed the incumbent commissioner. Torre seems to be the obvious choice , but somehow the idiocy of the team owners and the members of the league hierarchy are likely to go with Rob Manfred , who in many ways will remain a ” carbon copy ” of Bud Selig in terms of the decision-making we have now witnessed the present commissioner . Joe Torre as we know was able to guide the New York Yankees to four World Series’ titles in six years , along with six appearances during that decade of unprecedented success during his tenure as the manager of the ball-club. That era, led to the rise in prominence of such players on those teams as Derek Jeter , Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada . Of the quartet mentioned, only Jeter remains as a player on the Yankees’ current roster , with the team captain’s career now coming into their final years. Jeter, is no longer the player he was at the height of the franchise’s success . After an almost two-decade tenure with the franchise , it is easy to understand why he is one of the most beloved players in the Yankees’ history as well as within the game , itself .

Though the New York Yankees failed to make the postseason this year , they remained the omnipresent story within the game for some the right reasons , but most definitely also , for all of the wrong reasons and their haphazard handling of the ongoing Alex Rodriguez ” affair , and the very fact that the ball-club seemed once again seemed unwilling to conduct their own in-depth investigation into the allegations of the player’s use of a banned substance . Instead, that investigation, was left to the league hierarchy and the ongoing incompetence shown, in its handling of the procedural investigation and the evidence gathering involved . The longer this drama continues the less legitimacy the game of baseball has in terms of its relevance on the North American sporting landscape.

With Yankees’ failure , came the resurgence of the Boston Red Sox , with that franchise claiming their third World Series in the past ten years and the ball-club’s eighth overall . It is pretty much safe to say that while the Red Sox fans at present , may well lay claim to the bragging rights , another nineteen titles will go a long way in the organization seeking to be held in the same esteem their divisional rivals . Now one could allude to the fact that with the Red Sox having won a third World Series in the past decade , could they be perhaps referred to as a dominant franchise or even a perennial contender during that time-span ? While I do believe that the Boston Red Sox are a very well ran organization with perhaps at present the best managerial staff in baseball , I am not so sure that I am yet ready to call this team in its present form , dominant or even on their way to being called a dynasty ! Undoubtedly , their statistics during the run to this current World Series’ victory was considerably better than during 2004 and 2007 , the last time ball-club was victorious baseball’s showcase finale . What may truly determine greatness and the creation of what it deemed to be a dynasty , can determined and viewed by dominance of the best players on a great team. This season’s World Series’ MVP David Ortiz has proven himself to be one of the best players in the Boston Red Sox’s history and perhaps the franchise’s most beloved of the past three decades.

(3)
Derek Jeter and Torre are seen here celebrating the New York Yankees’ triumph over the Boston Red Sox in a regular season meeting in September 1996 . Jeter had the winning RBI single that guaranteed the victory for the team. AP Photo / Jason Jennings ….

This asinine idiocy that there is now parity in the NFL because there is now said to be a level playing field , is merely a creation get a dialogue going for the fans to simply debate as a water cooler topic . Parity in the NFL:, has now become a charade to hide behind and the fact that the introduction of free agency and the salary cap ($124.558 million) has altered the landscape to such an extent, whereby the game itself , as a product has become so diluted and wherein the coaching has become puerile and mediocre . A number of week eleven’s results , can be best described as inexplicable , with the Atlanta Falcons falling to divisional rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 41-28 loss , in one the worst performances by the Falcons this season . All of this, from a team that prior to the start of this year, were viewed as a possible NFC championship contender . As of now, Matt Ryan , along with his bloated salary , and his teammates could not find their way out of a darkened room with the aid of a flashlight . This game constituted about as much importance on the day’s schedule , as one would be permitted to see, during a debate within the Senate , as the legislators in question discussed the federal deficit.

The Monday night game between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium , in Charlotte North Carolina , as a resurgent Panthers’ team look to play themselves in contention within both the NFC South divisional contention, as well as a possible playoff berth for the postseason . New England, can essentially lock up the AFC East title with a win , this evening, after the New York Jets’ defeat, 37-14 at the hands of the Buffalo Bills . It is now safe to suggest , that the Jets’ mediocrity exhibited last season , has been as equally abysmal in 2013. Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, may well need to polish up his resume` should the team suffer a few more losses over the remainder of their schedule. Both GM John Idzik and team owner Woody Johnson’s patience must now be reaching its pinnacle , as this franchise has continued to under achieve over the past two seasons. Ryan’s own, laissez-faire attitude, has now been tempered by the very fact that he now faces a very uncertain future in the NFL .

The New England Patriots could rightly lay claim that they have been the best franchise in the NFL since 2001, during which that time their record during the regular and postseason , simply speaks for itself . A great deal of that success has come down to the ever-present head coach Bill Belichick and the team’s tenured quarterback Tom Brady , whose postseason experience and Superbowl appearances , now places him alongside many of the pantheons of the game, specifically those Superbowl winning quarterbacks with a Superbowl MVP also now part of their respective resumes` and feats of accomplishments. Five Superbowl appearances for the quarterback and three wins , and the zeal to add a fourth victory to his already impressive record is still atop of the player’s list of yet to be achieved personal goals .

A sole constant with regard to the New England Patriots’ success also , has been the organization’s acumen in drafting players who have gradually over time been able to contribute to the franchise’s success . Yet, with the recent charges leveled against the team’s former tight end Aaron Hernandez , his arraignment and indictment on a charge of first degree murder , one could attest to the fact that the franchise’s image has taken a monumental hit from an image and public relations’ standpoint . No amount of finger-pointing can avert the fact that the front office were well aware of Hernandez’s character issues , but they simply ignored it all to acquire the player as fourth round draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft . It is unlikely, that Aaron Hernandez will ever again grace a football field as an athlete in the NFL. Now subject to the legal system within the state of Massachusetts , what was once a promising career in the league , has now become one , that no one wishes to be associated with , at all .

With the Indiana Pacers’ loss, suffered at the hands (110-97) of the Chicago Bulls , and the assertion by Paul George that the Bulls have been of little relevance in the subsequent years since the franchise’s last titular triumph in the NBA. One could assert that the Eastern Conference demands and deserves a rivalry within that environment , beyond that of the Miami Heat as the two-time defending champions versus everyone else within the conference. While some fans are trying to suggest that both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are still finding their way as the season is still in its infancy , I would suggest that those seeking to use that premise as a proxy , simply look at the respective records of both the Knicks and Nets , and their most recent performances as well their defensive and offensive prowess . There has simply been nothing to suggest that either of these two teams are currently capable of mounting a serious enough challenge to the defending champions , albeit , that the Heat themselves are also in a state of transition , with the recent off-season moves to improve the depth on the roster.

(4)
New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson is seen here alongside Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony . The team this season is off the a horrendous start and they are struggling on both sides of the ball , during which they have dropped to the bottom of their division and the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference . Getty Images / Elsa Martinez ….

As if to further emphasize how overrated the New York Knicks just happened to be , along with their self-aggrandizing and delusional fans . In a weekend scheduled game , the team simply showed once again why they cannot be ever taken seriously as a legitimate threat to the Miami Heat. In a contest against the Atlanta Hawks , this alleged prodigiously talented Knicks’ roster were upstaged by their opponents on their home-court of Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York . My question for Knicks’ fans , if your team simply cannot defend their home turf , then how the hell do you believe that the roster has what it takes to be deemed as an elite franchise within the conference ? A great deal of “hot air” tends to be blown by the vast majority of the franchise’s fans without their being barely any damn intelligence to back up their thought process entirely . The twenty-point loss , 110-90 to the Hawks was enough of a damning indictment for the team on the night . I don’t believe that there is much else that needs to be added at this juncture !

I will say this for Mikhail Prokhorov , GM Billy King and the entire Brooklyn Nets’ organization . The trappings of wealth and ostentatious-ness has done nothing to hide the exuberance of the franchise even after entertaining and the of acquiring an aging trio of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to bolster what is said to the team’s best chance to win an NBA title in several years . To my mind, the best indicator of how well this team is likely to succeed will be totally predicated upon the health and durability of both Brook Lopez and Deron Williams . Beyond that , everything else is secondary , and as to this asinine notion that Joe Johnson is still a player capable of being a “game changer” , is akin to suggesting that Miley Cyrus’ sudden change in her musical repertoire, makes her more credible , as a musical artist. Joe Johnson has not been the focal point of anything tangible by way of his career in several years and it seems somewhat comedic in the fact as the Nets’ highest paid player on the roster and amongst the highest salaried players in the NBA , his productivity this season has bordered on being anemic .

(5)
Brooklyn Nets’ head coach Jason Kidd , is seen here with members of the team’s starting lineup . From left to right they are Joe Johnson , Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett , Kidd , center and point guard Deron Williams . Hoping to play themselves into contention this season the Nets are struggling , with their inexperienced head coach being unable to provide a real explanation for the team’s ongoing woes . AP Photo / Chris Jacobson ….

Enthralled as I always am, to read a commentator’s account as to why a team such as the Brooklyn Nets should be looked upon as a force to be reckoned with , when there has been no real “body of work” in terms of that team in recent seasons having acquit itself at the highest levels possible . Clearly , it is simply a case of wishful thinking on the part of analysts such as Chris Broussard , Tim Legler , Jalen Rose and even the somewhat ” impudent” Bill Simmons , when they describe a team in such glowing terms , as being championship caliber. The Nets’ franchise has not been a championship capable outfit, since the last of their repeat appearances in the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 , as coached by none other than Byron Scott .

In an age, where money in the world of sports can in some cases, determine a great deal of success for a professional sports’ franchise. It should be noted, that Mikhail Prokhorov as the owner of the Brooklyn Nets , might just be the wealthiest team owner not just in the NBA , but quite possibly in all of four major professional team sports in North America. With an estimated wealth , exceeding $12.5 billion , perhaps only the Seattle Seahawks’ owner , Paul Allen is the only other individual with the type of personal fortune by comparison . Herein lies the caveat, concerning the fortunes of the Brooklyn Nets , while the front office chases after success , while splurging on players’ salaries , the franchise itself has become unprofitable , losing an estimated $100 million in the past three years alone , even with having moved into their palatial edifice known as the Barclays Center , in Brooklyn, New York,.

In having the league’s highest team payroll , which now exceeds $100 million , the expectations are not only high for the Nets this season ,but with a rookie head coach , by way of Jason Kidd and where the only other assistant on his staff with any of NBA coaching experience is one of the franchise’s former head coaches in Lawrence Frank , it is becoming increasingly easy to understand one of the reasons behind the team’s failure this season. Kidd’s inexperience and what appears to be his ego of wanting to “go it alone” by way displaying his coaching acumen, has not only backfired , but it has shown the numerous flaws on the team team as borne out in their record (3-6) and standing within their division (Atlantic Division) and the Eastern Conference .

The Nets’ most recent game , saw the team post another loss , this time to the Portland Trailblazers , where the contest itself was not even remotely close by any stretch of the imagination. Defensively and from an offensive standpoint , the issues of the Brooklyn Nets will continue to remain a work in progress . However, the question , I must now ask, how much longer can Mikhail Prokhorov’s and that of GM Billy King’s patience withstand this sort of ineptitude , while the franchise itself, seeks to turn a profit ?

Since 1999, the Los Angeles Lakers , Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs are the only NBA franchises to have won multiple NBA titles, during the aforementioned time-span. The Heat having won its third last season , trails the tally of four won by the Spurs and the five won by the Lakers’ , with Phil Jackson at the helm for the quintuple of rings, adding to the franchise’s sixteen titles in total . .

For San Antonio, who are off to another successful start (9-1) to an NBA year, during which they will seek to establish another NBA record for the most consecutive NBA postseason appearances (15) in league history. All of this, has been accomplished under head coach Gregg Popovich , as the NBA’s longest tenured head coach . Such as has been the strength of his relationship with the Spurs’ front office , in particular with team owner Peter Holt and GM RC Buford , that it would be hard to envisage anyone else coaching the franchise at this juncture. Yet, at some time in the future Popovich is likely to call it a day, with perhaps the reins being handed over to one of his coaching assistants .

(6)
David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs is seen here alongside teammate Tim Duncan during the 1999 NBA season . San Antonio would go on to the first of four NBA Finals’ triumphs, in meeting the New York Knicks , where they would go on to defeat the Knicks in a rather lopsided series 4-1 . AP Photo / Marcus James …..

The San Antonio Spurs have never been considered one of the NBA’s glamor teams , merely one of the best ran organizations in all of professional sports . Yet, the franchise’s impressive record during Gregg Popovich’s reign, makes them one of the most revered and liked sports’ teams in North America. David Robinson , current Hall of Fame inductee, alongside Tim Duncan set the franchise on its current path with the Spurs’ first of their four triumphs in the NBA Finals. The initial title , would then see the retirement of Robinson , who remains in close contact with the organization , while his philanthropic efforts have been rewarded with civic awards from the city of San Antonio , as well as statewide and nationally. Duncan , has simply, carried the torch, while he , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli have extended the franchise’s proud , impressive record of longevity and success. It would be easy to suggest, that the Spurs’ perennial appearances in the postseason makes them a dynasty . Yet for all of the acclaim afforded the San Antonio Spurs, it has been the changes within the NBA and the landscape of professional sports that makes this issue now subjective , rather than objective.

(7)
LeBron James of the Miami Heat , who has slowly been carving out an NBA career that when it is all said and done , might go down as one the greatest in NBA history . James has notched a number of career firsts along the way in his already impressive resume` . Yet it has been the driving force and zeal in wanting to emulate his hero Michael Jordan , that may well see the player quite possibly surpass a number of Jordan’s feats within the game . Getty Images North America / Robin Mason ……

Dynasties in professional sports, are now thing of the past , and even if some fans and analyst are now trying to suggest that Miami Heat’s current dominance of the NBA makes them a dynasty . I believe it has more to do with the marvel-ment of witnessing the prowess of LeBron James at his very best , as he dominates the game , with his physical prowess on the court and the individual accomplishments of a ten-year career , at this juncture ! Quite possibly , in the next eight years , it might well be appropriate to suggest there has been another dynasty within professional sports by way of the Miami Heat , were the franchise able to win another four or possibly five NBA titles in the allotted time-frame mentioned .

(8)
Seen as the likely saviors of the NHL , the game’s most high profiled players from left to right , Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins , Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Alex Ovechkin of Washington Capitals . As the game’s attendance slowly regains momentum the financial woes still remain for a number of teams around the NHL . Getty Images / Chris Curtis …..

The NHL revels its own merriment , having, still not fully recovered from their self-induced stupidity of a labor stoppage. While there now seems to be a growing resonance within the game , hockey is not at the point, where it needs to be , by way of its television viewership , or in terms of attendance , or commercial sponsors. Granted, the game has now has several superstars, with Steven Stamkos , Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby leading the charge. Yet what the NHL is most definitely in need of is a truly dominant team that gets the fans excited and where their play resonates throughout the sport. It is one thing to for Barry Melrose to wax on lyrically about the “ big hits seen during a game or his own wish for the Detroit Red Wings , Montreal Canadiens , New York Islanders or New York Rangers back at their very best . The game has evolved, free agency and money dictates a player’s desire and destination as to his playing career. The Stanley Cup is the pinnacle of the sport, but given the infrequency of the NHL not having a repeat champion within the sport in a number of years . For now, the fans will have to bear the brand and product as it is now exhibited on the ice.

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Picture gallery .

At this juncture do you believe it a prerequisite, that professional team sports are in need of either a dynamic or dominant team ? Or is it, simply an urban legend created, in terms of a dialogue for discussion amongst analysts and fans alike ? By all means, do leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Hall of Fame inductees , Michael Jordan and teammate Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls. The duo reached the pinnacle within NBA history in guiding the franchise to six NBA titles during an eight year span , during which those teams were perhaps the most dominant in all of professional team sports during their reign . Neither the NFL , NHL or MLB has seen that type of dominant reign within their respective sports over the past two decades. AP Photo / John Raoux ….

(2) Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots are seen here celebrating the first (SB XXXVI) of the franchise’s three Superbowl victories during the past decade . The duo have made six Superbowl appearances having won three with two of those defeats , being suffered at the hands of NFC foes the New York Giants . Brady leads all active quarterbacks in terms of postseason appearances and Superbowl victories. The player and coach are seeking a fourth Lombardi Trophy to join only Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw of Pittsburgh Steelers r to have won a quartet of victories for the NFL’s biggest postseason showcase event , the Superbowl . Getty Images North America / Chris Hodges ….

(3) Derek Jeter and Joe Torre are seen here celebrating the New York Yankees’ triumph over the Boston Red Sox in a regular season game in September 1996 . Jeter had the winning RBI single that guaranteed the victory for the team. AP Photo / Jason Jennings ….

(4) New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson is seen here alongside Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony . The team this season is off the a horrendous start and they are struggling on both sides of the ball , during which they have dropped to the bottom of their division and the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference . Getty Images / Elsa Martinez ….

(5) Brooklyn Nets’ head coach Jason Kidd , is seen here with members of the team’s starting lineup . From left to right they are Joe Johnson , Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett , Kidd , center and point guard Deron Williams . Hoping to play themselves into contention this season the Nets are struggling , with their inexperienced head coach being unable to provide a real explanation for the team’s ongoing woes . AP Photo / Chris Jacobson ….

(6) David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs is seen here alongside teammate Tim Duncan during the 1999 NBA season . San Antonio would go on to the first of four NBA Finals’ triumphs, in meeting the New York Knicks , where they would go on to defeat the Knicks in a rather lopsided series 4-1 . AP Photo / Marcus James …..

(7) LeBron James of the Miami Heat , who has slowly been carving out an NBA career that when it is all said and done , might go down as one the greatest in NBA history . James has notched a number of career firsts along the way in his already impressive resume` . Yet it has been the driving force and zeal in wanting to emulate his hero Michael Jordan , that may well see the player quite possibly surpass a number of Jordan’s feats within the game . Getty Images North America / Robin Mason ……

(8) Seen as the likely saviors of the NHL , the game’s most high profiled players from left to right , Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins , Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Alex Ovechkin of Washington Capitals . As the game’s attendance slowly regains momentum the financial woes still remain for a number of teams around the NHL . Getty Images / Chris Curtis …..
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A very dire time in the world of sports, with the continued stupidity of athletes on exhibit on a daily basis , with fans simply seeking to excuse their behavior by using the premise of freedom of speech and the right for one to express themselves as they so wish . In a decade, where this country has sent off young men and women in a war of futility, with regard to Iraq. And where those members of the military upon on their return at the end of their deployments or careers , are treated more often than not as an afterthought , but an athlete without the decency to know the difference between right and wrong, is still given a “free pass ” for their venal behavior .

Incognito   &  Glazer
Richie Incognito is seen here in his first televised interview with Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer , as the player seeks to explain his side of the controversy that has exploded within the Miami Dolphins’ organization , leading to the player’s suspension without pay. NY Daily News @ copyrighted material …

Personally, I am of the opinion, that this country, simply has no damn morals or a right to cast itself as light of moral beacon or acceptance of all ! Venal and outright displays of racial intolerance coiled as a joke, shows nothing , but insensitivity and downright stupidity, and anyone seeking to condone that , in any form , is simply an ass ! Never mind the fact, one could ask, is the workplace an acceptable place to display that type of behavior ? I find it somewhat ironic that Fox Sports’ journalist Jay Glazer failed to ask that question of his interviewee, Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins , when the two sat down for an in-depth interview to be shown on the now overrated Fox Sports Network (FS1) !

Jacksonville   Jaguars
From left to right Jacksonville Jaguars’ general manager , David Caldwell , head coach Gus Bradley and team owner Shahid Khan . The front office for the moment appear to be showing their utmost confidence in the rookie head coach . Yet there are already cries for his firing by the fans after what has now turned out to be a disastrous season for the Jaguars. AP Photo / Rick Mason

In the NFL , as the league enters the final quarter of its season , a number of teams are simply thinking about next season and preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft . For the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers , the two teams with the worst records in the league are now plummeting to even lower depths of mediocrity than anyone could have imagined this season . There is likely to be some type of major upheaval during the off-season, within the respective teams’ rosters as well as with the coaching staff. Gus Bradley’s position with the Jaguars now seems almost untenable and I believe that the Jaguars’ GM David Caldwell is likely to “call it a day” for the beleaguered manager with his being properly compensated , with the franchise honoring the remainder of his contract. In the case of Greg Schiano and the continued slump of the Buccaneers , dependent upon who you believe , he will either be retained for next season or he and general manager Mark Dominik are likely to meet to discuss his and the team’s long-term future.

The Buccaneers (1-8) find themselves at the bottom of the NFC South and they face a dire task when the play host to the equally abysmal Atlanta Falcons (2-7) this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida. It would be fair to suggest that a win is of the utmost priority for both teams. Atlanta’s season has simply been one of repeated pratfalls by the team and the play of the team’s quarterback this season could be best described as understated. All this for a player who recently signed one of the most lucrative deals in NFL history in terms of guaranteed money for the player , that came by way of this deal . While Matt Ryan has proven to be a great regular season quarterback, the postseason and 2013 in particular , have simply been, not that kind.

Gus Bradley and the Jaguars are now simply bereft of talent , as the team’s best player, wide receiver , Justin Blackmon has been suspended indefinitely by the team , having violated the league’s substance for second time in two years . Given the fact, that Blackmon entered the league in 2012 as a first round draft pick and thought to be one of the most coveted wide receivers entering the NFL that season . It begs the question , is the player’s career now at an end after less than five years in the NFL, without his departure not being from a career ending injury, but because of a substance abuse problem ? Teams may well be inclined to give the player a second chance, but I am not so sure that Justin Blackmon is deserving of that chance , much less , having not shown any signs of maturity after his indiscretions and willful transgression of the league’s rules !

Matt   Ryan  and   Mike    Glennon
Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons and Mike Glennon , right , of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . The two opposing quarterbacks will meet this weekend in a week eleven contest between the two NFC divisional foes . Both teams are having lackluster seasons with their respective head coaches viewed as being on the “hot seat” . Courtesy of ESPN.com ….

Jacksonville has a scheduled contest with the Arizona Cardinals , this Sunday at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Florida . That game could very well prove to be an indicator of the front office’s intent, should the match-up end in defeat for the home team , with David Caldwell perhaps making the decision earlier than anticipated in forcing Gus Bradley to relinquish his duties as the head coach of the beleaguered franchise.

At the trade deadline this season , there were not as many trades as many analysts had predicted or even suggested would actually take place. The common thought appeared to be that both Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen might be on their way out of after a disastrous season to date where the NFC North based Minnesota Vikings (2-7), who have not even been remotely competitive within the division or conference . It is becoming increasing difficult to see how either Leslie Frazier or GM Rick Spielman can conceivably retain their positions at the end of the year. Neither has shown a propensity with any clarity to suggest that the franchise is now on right track or that they know which players will best serve the Vikings for the future . The Minnesota Vikings are 2-7 and currently reside at the bottom of the division and having won only one of their last five regular season games and at this juncture it is difficult to envisage the team defeating the Seattle Seahawks when the two teams meet at Century Link (Qwest Field) in Seattle , Washington, in a Sunday afternoon contest.

Both Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson remain the most enticing pieces of trade bait on the Vikings’ roster and it is my firm belief that one , if not both of these players are unlikely to be with the franchise at the start of the 2014 NFL season ! Petersen to my mind, the best running back in the NFL , has this season been ill-served by team rendered meaningless , and with the ongoing health issues that surround the team’s starting quarterback Christian Ponder . The former Florida State Seminole quarterback since his entry into the NFL , has yet to have a game that would have you believing , he can be the answer for the Vikings short and long-term future needs at the position. In other words “ failure to launch” !

Allen    &   Peterson
Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen (right) after a game played at Wembley Stadium, in London , England . The two players have been a part of the franchise for over six years with both having contributed greatly to the franchise. However, this season , without the recurring injuries the team has failed to meet the expectation of the fans and NFL analysts alike. Andrew Matthews/PA Wire ..

With five weeks remaining in the regular season , we are likely to find out a great deal about the teams thought to be in with a real chance of challenging for a postseason berth . Teams, such as the New York Giants , Green Bay Packers , Baltimore Ravens , Pittsburgh Steelers , Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins have proven to be a resounding disappointment this season . Injuries asides, there has to be a decisive reason, why these teams have failed abysmally. From my own personal standpoint, I simply believe that the talent level within the NFL is not all it is cracked to be, alongside a great deal of mediocre coaching coming from experienced and inexperienced NFL head coaches !

As the NFL season winds down , what are you most hoping to see from the remaining games on the schedule ? Also which teams do you believe have the best chance of making a deep playoff run ? Simply, leave a comment, on this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject.

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It is not always the journey that takes its toll, it is the failure then to cross the finish line ….

It is not always the journey that takes its toll, it is the failure then to cross the finish line ….

Anyone who has ever participated in any type of endurance contest, will know it is always about the preparation before the event and in the lead-up what you as a contestant, have done to prepare yourself for that specific competition. The NFL season is simply no different , with a sixteen-week regular season schedule , that at times can seem like an eternity, not only for the players, but also for the fans themselves who will have to endure the highs and lows , as they go about supporting their respective teams . As the league enters its eleventh week , teams are now beginning to distance themselves from their divisional rivals, gaining the victories needed to assure them a berth in the playoffs . This weekend , when the Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) take on the Denver Broncos (8-1) at Sports Authority Field in Denver , Colorado, a great deal will be on the line for both teams , as a victory for franchise will most certainly assure them of a berth in the postseason . In the case of the Chiefs, as led by head coach Andy Reid , he knows a victory almost assures his team that they are in the driver’s seat in terms of seeking to unseat the Broncos as the AFC West champions for this season.

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Though I was not thoroughly convinced that the dismissal of Andy Reid by the Philadelphia Eagles was the right thing to do at the time. I fully understand the frustrations and reasoning behind the former head coach’s firing. Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman simply felt that Reid’s loyalty to the team’s quarterback Michael Vick was no longer worth the risk as the seasoned veteran had now become more of a liability , rather than an asset to the team. Vick’s stats over the past ten to fifteen games has simply borne this out , along with his inability to stay injury free,

While the Eagles continue their season of inconsistency , albeit that they are now in involved in a tight divisional race with the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) , in what I can best describe as being one of the worst divisional in the NFL simply by the records reflected of all four residents within the NFC East and the fact that all four are no better than .500 within the division . The fact that is quite possible , that the actual winner of NFC East could easily end up with an 8-8 record and make the postseason , not only adds insult to injury , but also once again shows how bad the division just happens to be , in terms of the quality of football being played. Now, the more docile of observers, may well choose to point out that injuries have played a part of what we the fans have observed within the NFC East this season . However, I would put it down to the ineptitude of the coaching on display and also the fact that a number of the players within the division are not as good as advertised.

As to this contest between the Chiefs and Broncos this game will be heightened by the health of Peyton Manning and his appearance, given his ongoing health issue by way of a high ankle sprain . Manning, long seen as one of the many faces of the NFL alongside perhaps his most famous peer and adversary , Tom Brady . Off to a tremendous start this season , Peyton Manning has simply set a pace not seen in the league in several years, as the player once again seems to be on a record pace for passing touchdowns in a season . It is my belief however, that the player would rather team success by way of a second Superbowl victory for Manning and a first for the Chiefs’ franchise, as well as, quite possibly adding to his mantelpiece of a fifth League MVP and a second Superbowl MVP award . By any measure, this contest will provide a spectacular ratings’ bonanza for the broadcast network .

It is extremely hard to discern, how the Pittsburgh Steelers’ (3-6) season has continued to spiral out of control. Although winners, of three of their last five games, the team sits at the bottom of the AFC North,where the divisional leader, is a still resurgent Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) . Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis , behind a young quarterback, in Andy Dalton and an offense that has proven to be resilient as they are explosive. Pittsburgh will face a stern test when they play host to the Detroit Lions (6-3) on Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon , in what is sure to be a highly competitive game . The Bengals meanwhile, will have as their guests, in-state and divisional rival the Cleveland Browns (4-5). Needless to say, Andy Dalton and his teammates will seek to further distance themselves from the Browns and Baltimore Ravens (4-5) within the division. Both contests, should prove to be very intriguing, with the outcome likely to predicated upon time of possession, and sound defense. Something that as of late, seems to be something a “lost art form “ , for a number of teams around the NFL, where there now seems to be an abundance childlike mistakes that have become profligate within the game.

To witness a Steelers’ team struggle as they have done on both sides of the ball, does seem to be troubling for a franchise, known to be stymieing on defense and one who has always sought to “pound the rock” and then use an efficient passing game to gain a positive result. This season , the plethora of problems seems to have been omnipresent beyond the team injuries and the complete lack understanding between the offense and defense. Never-mind, the fact, that Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin remains at his wit’s end, as to the lackluster performances of this team .

The Detroit Lions and Jim Schwartz will seek to take advantage of the fact that with the Chicago Bears without Jay Cutler once again, as the Bears’ signal caller seeks to recuperate from an injury . It will also be a similar case, for the Green Bay Packers and their loss of Aaron Rodgers , as these two players have always been the focal points of their respective teams’ offensive strategies . Detroit will hope to make this advantage count , in their contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

When the Philadelphia Eagles play host the Washington Redskins (3-6) on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania, in a divisional game . This is likely to be one of those contests , where the game is likely to be extremely enthralling or a monotonous bore . I am inclined to be believed, that it will be the latter! The Redskins for their part, have simply regressed with neither Mike Shanahan or his son, defensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan being able to provide a succinct explanation as to why the team has been so pitiful this season . One could attribute that to the numerous injuries suffered by the team over the course their schedule , or as everyone seems to believe quarterback Robert Griffin III is not yet back to full fitness and playing at the level exhibited last season and during the playoffs . From my own standpoint, I believe that the Redskins and the coaching staff in particular, simply became lazy , complacent , over-confident and choosing to rest on their laurels , after the accomplishments of 2012.

With Robert Griffin III now suggesting that the last placed Redskins within the NFC East and their 3-6 record , are quite capable of still making the playoffs . I am beginning to wonder, if the second year player , is simply displaying a kind of false bravado on his part, to excuse his own poor play over the course of this season or is it, that he truly believes that over the remainder of the team’s seven games the Redskins are quite capable of winning five of the possible seven contests in question to achieve that feat ? Given the team’s play and the lack of commitment shown, I simply do not believe that they can attain that goal ! There has been no evidence, to suggest, that they have it within them collectively, to actually defeat the Eagles this upcoming Sunday.

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Despite Robert Griffin III’s Confidence, Playoffs Are Long Shot for Washington Redskins

By Brian Skinnell , Yahoo Contributor

COMMENTARY | There is a big difference between being 3-6 in 2012 and being 3-6 in 2013. Last season, the Washington Redskins were in much better position to make a playoff run. Due to the current state of the team, they’ve got a lot more work to do to duplicate that magical run.
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This past weekend, star quarterback Robert Griffin III spoke with plenty of confidence to reporters regarding Washington’s playoff chances. He told The Washington Post that the team still believes and that they aren’t giving up. While that’s all fine and well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here. The Redskins have their work cut out for them if they want to return to the playoffs.

The Special Teams Must Improve

All season long, it’s been one special teams headache after another. The coverage units have been poor and a few teams have defeated Washington thanks to the Redskins’ poor effort on special teams. Sav Rocca has had moments of brilliance as a punter, but he’s been somewhat inconsistent, as well.

There are three facets to the game of football: offense, defense and special teams. In order to be successful and win football games, you need to dominant in all three facets. For Washington, they certainly haven’t done that on special teams and that must get better if they want to make a playoff push.

The Defense Needs to Tighten Up

Much like the special teams, we have seen plenty of inconsistent play from the defense. Against the Denver Broncos, we saw them put together one of the best halves of the season only to throw it all away in the second half. The same can be said for their second-half debacle in Minnesota where Washington surrendered 20 unanswered points in their loss to the Vikings.

Statistically, Washington has one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They rank 26th in pass yards allowed (274.8 per game) and are 18th in rush yards allowed (113.8 per game). They give up an average of 388.6 yards per game which ranks them at 27th.

Let’s return to our three facets of football. We’ve established Washington’s inability to take care of the special teams facet of the game, and it’s fair to say they are having trouble getting it done defensively. The offense has played well, but last time I checked, one-out-of-three equals roughly 33-percent, which is a failing grade. In the NFL, that’s nowhere near close enough to win a football game.

The Schedule Isn’t in Their Favor

It’s not a stretch to say that Washington needs to win-out in order to make the postseason, something that will be extremely difficult to do. In the final seven games of the season, the Redskins will have to face the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons. While the Falcons and 49ers aren’t having great seasons, don’t underestimate their offensive prowess against a lackluster defense.

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The NFL now, no longer having a win-less team , the question now becomes which franchise is likely to have the dubious privilege of ending up with .the worst record in the league ? At present, the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) both share that dubious distinction with a 1-8 record apiece.. Is either team better than their respective records suggests? Well, given the fact that it was not until week ten > before either team was able to notch their very first victory of the season should tell you a great deal about teams and how their schedules have over the course of this year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have as their guests , on Sunday, their divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons , who themselves are going through a season of missed opportunities and under-achievement . It is pretty much safe to say that this being a contest of utmost importance to both teams, with a great deal being at stake beyond quite possibly the long-term futures head coaches Mike Smith of the Falcons and Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Suddenly, with the Buccaneers’ defense playing a lot better after the team’s 22-19 victory over the Miami Dolphins , during which they held their woefully inept opponents to minus two yards of rushing offense and a meager two-hundred and thirteen yards of total offense for the AFC East based franchise. I am not so sure that Tampa will be able to repeat that type of performance against a Falcons’ team looking to rebound after being completely manhandled by the Seattle Seahawks in a lopsided 33-10 loss . As to what that says about a team, who last season was seen as one of the prohibitive favorites in the NFC, only to once again fall short with another understated performance by Matt Ryan in the postseason, in an NFC championship game loss to the San Francisco 49ers . Ryan, who alongside Tony Romo , might now be the most ” overrated quarterback “ currently . playing in the NFL and certainly one of the most overpaid given the lack of postseason results from both players .

Needless to say , my own observations concerning the Dallas Cowboys will simply evolve around the continued idiotic statements of the team’s owner Jerry Jones , because in terms of taking the franchise and team seriously , they are about as heartwarming and welcomed as a pandemic outbreak of the Ebola virus. The Cowboys have simply found ways , each week over the past five years to p have killed the meaning of the word ” quality” and talent when it comes to their brand of football , along with a coaching staff that is simply bereft of creativity and talent !

The Jacksonville Jaguars will now seek to win their second consecutive game of the season and push their win total for the year season to two , when they meet the Arizona Cardinals . Personally, I believe that if the Jaguars can keep that figure below five, then in all likelihood, they will be favored to obtain the number one overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft . With a plethora of talented said to be primed and ready amongst those who will undoubted declare their eligibility , I do not believe that there will be a need for Jaguars’ GM David Caldwell to be heeding any advice from either Mel Kiper or Todd McSDhay , as to whom they (Jaguars) should be taking as their first pick overall , much less their entire allotment of picks in 2014 .

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As the season ends enters the final quarter of the .regular season games’ schedule , what are you hoping to witness as the finals games and the scenarios are played out ? Also which teams do you believe will be a making serious surge down the final stretch of the season ? Simply, leave a comment as you see fit and thanks for the continued support of the site !

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(1) Mike Munchak head coach of the Tennessee Titans is seen here walking the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NFL game played on Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts in Nashville , Tennessee ,. Indiana would go on to defeat Tennessee 30-27 in what was a highly competitive game between the two AFC South teams. AP Photo / Wade Payne ……

(2) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts rushes for a touchdown during the game played against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night , 14th November, 2013. The victory strengthened the Colts’ position at the top of the AFC South , with five games remaining in the regular season . AP Photo / Wade Payne …..

(3) Donald Brown (31) of the Indianapolis Colts evades Michael Griffin (33) of the Titans as he makes it into the end-zone after a six-yard touchdown run against the Tennessee Titans in a Thursday night game . AP Photo Wade Payne ….

(4) Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid is seen here on the sidelines talking to the team’s quarterback Alex Smith during a regular season game. Reid and the Chiefs will be taking on divisional rivals the Denver Broncos as the Kansas City Chiefs look to preserve their unbeaten record in a week eleven match-up between the two AFC West teams. Getty Images North America / Eric Patterson ……

(5) Robert Griffin III, quarterback of the Washington Redskins is seen here with head coach Mike Shanahan . Having made the postseason in 2012 , the Redskins are likely to miss the playoffs this season as they currently reside in the lower rung of the NFC East with a 3-6 record . Griffin believes that the team can make a spirited run and gain a playoff berth within the NFC at the climax of the 2013 NFL season . Getty Images / Mark Harris ……

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tophatal …………. 11/15/2013

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Chloe Vevrier . More tools in her “tool chest” than even she would care to admit. More of Vevrier below .

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Can she ride side-saddle ? Or does she prefer bareback ? As that is what I would like to know !

On the mound , but only briefly ……

On the mound , but only briefly ……….

With baseball’s postseason having come to a successful end , with the Boston Red claiming .their third World Series in the past ten seasons and the club’s eighth overall . The rest of this off-season, now becomes about the individual awards and today the first of those were announced, with the Rookie of the Year honors . In the AL , the recipient was Tampa Bay Rays’ rookie Wil Myers , who after a successful run with the team during the regular and postseason , will be looking to build upon that in 2014, as the Rays pursue another chance at success within the AL East , having fallen short of their own expectations.

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In the NL, the recipient of the NL Rookie of the Award , went to Florida Marlins’ pitching ace Jose Fernandez . The player was one of the few bright spots on a team that was simply abysmal , during which we witnessed the Marlins finish at the bottom of the NL East posting a mark of 62-100 , of which only the Houston Astros (51-111) had a worse record in all of baseball . Fernandez for his part was simply exhilarating over the season showing a great deal of poise and maturity in someone so young, who burst onto the scene with a sense of purpose. Now in the midst of this all, there are likely to be detractors, who may well feel aggrieved that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie phenom sensation Yasiel Puig may well have been viewed as an afterthought , given his spectacular debut and being the main catalyst behind the Dodgers’ mid to late season surge that witnessed them winning the NL West divisional crown with a great deal of ease , only to then fail miserably when they faced eventual pennant winners, the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS pennant series.

As impressive as Yasiel Puig was said to be for the Los Angeles Dodgers , it is my belief that the voters for this award , viewed that the NL based franchise was merely best served by not only Puig ,but several of the team’s highly paid stars , on a team that once that they blew the division apart , there was little to suggest that the NL West would still remain competitive , and we also witnessed something of a tail-off in the slugger’s performance , only to then see rare glimpses in the postseason for the team . There is no doubt in my mind that future honors await Yasiel Puig in his career , as he is one of the best young players in the game today. The game of baseball will be best served by players such as Yasiel Puig , Wil Myers , Jose Fernandez , Mike Trout , Bryce Harper , Stephen Strasburg , Andrew Bailey , Buster Posey and Geovany Soto over the coming years. Given the recent controversies that have simply ravaged the game of baseball , as the issue of steroids still remains a part of the landscape , with their little to show by the league hierarchy in stamping out the biggest stain to hit sport over the past two-and a half decades. It is pretty much safe to say , that for all of Bud Selig’s insistence , as long as along as Alex Rodriguez is allowed to make a mockery of the system and baseball itself , then the commissioner will forever be viewed as the executive who failed to show any decisiveness , making several unfathomable and idiotic decisions along the way, that have simply done nothing for the betterment of the game.

In what might not necessarily come as a surprise , but the main favorites for the AL and NL Manager of the Year Awards appear to be Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates . The Indians’ surprising resilience shown within the AL Central and thereby making the postseason as a wildcard entrant was one of the great stories of the baseball season. And fact that the Cleveland Indians bowed out in the wildcard round of the postseason , should not be seen as a negative, because , what Francona was able to achieve with this team not only caught the fans by surprise, but I would dare say, the vast majority of observers in and outside of the game . It should be noted however , that it was Terry Francona’s managerial guile that did more than anything else to guide the Boston Red Sox to their most recent World Series’ triumphs, prior to John Farrell guiding the team this past season to another notable triumph for this venerable franchise .

Recognizing Terry Francona for the award to my mind would be valid, but I feel an honorable mention ought to be due for John Farrell and what he was able to achieve in his first season with a Boston Red Sox team that was in complete disarray in 2012 , having finished in last place within the AL East, with Bobby Valentine simply showing that his managerial acumen , was really nothing more than a great deal of hot air.

Clint Hurdle was able to guide what was a young team a t its core to a respectable second place finish within the NL Central behind the St Louis Cardinals . It did look as if at one time the Pirates had the division as theirs for the taking , but momentary lapses , caused this young roster to succumb to more pressure than they are you usually accustomed to. On this Pirates’ ball-club, we saw the further maturation of Andrew McCutchen , not just as a player , but also someone, who now appears to be the vocal leader of the team both on and off the field of play . My only thought now concerning the center-fielder , is when he next becomes a free agent , are the Pirates prepared to do whatever it takes to retain the services of the best player this organization has had, over the the past eight years ? Clearly this is a matter that will be on the minds of not only the team’s fans but also Pirates’ owner Robert ‘Bob ‘ Nutting and general manager Neal Huntington . It has been Nutting’s reluctance to actually spend money on this team and seeking out the best possible talent available , that has in large part left this franchise standing curbside,. waiting to achieve something of note. Well after a two-decade long wait , the Pittsburgh Pirates made their first appearance in baseball’s ‘Fall Extravaganza’ and that of its postseason .

If an improvement is to be seen with the Pirates , then this off-season Neal Huntington and this managerial staff will have to work diligently in assessing the needs of the team, by way of the available free agents and that of the organization’s farm system to see if there are players waiting in the wings ready to contribute to and for the team.

To my mind, it appears to be a foregone conclusion in terms of the Cy Young Award Winners winners and who they ought to be this season . Without a doubt, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been the best pitcher in baseball over the past three seasons. Those who have doubts, need only to look at the pitcher’s statistics posted in each the past three years to see the evidence of his dominance. Kershaw is likely to be named the NL Cy Young Award winner , with an outside shot at quite possibly taking the NL MVP Award at the same time , making it a “daily double” . In 2013 , Kershaw was as elusive , as he was dominant during the regular season , with few batter being able to get the better of the Dodgers’ starting ace, who was by far in a way , the best pitcher on a very good pitching roster by way of the perceived talent.

In the AL , the top contenders for the Cy Young appear to be Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers , Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners . Darvish got off to an excellent start early in the season for the Rangers , before injury took a toll on part of his year , but he was able to rebound and once again show the front office’s faith in signing him. If only the rest of the team were able to show the type of consistency and dedication of the Japanese star, then perhaps the season would not have ” petered out” with such resounding disappointment and so many questions being asked of a number of players on the roster . Scherzer was simply outstanding , as he led the Tigers’ pitching in wins and strikeouts on his way to 21-3 win tally , a best in the American League and the Majors this past season . With the Tigers’ season coming to an abrupt end with the their succumbing to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS in six games (4-2) , it must be said that Scherzer’s winning of the AL Cy Young will not be seen as that great a compensation for GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch , after the resignation of Jim Leyland , whose success with the franchise made Detroit Tigers relevant again .

Beyond Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners , until this season , no one really took ,much notice of what the team was aspiring to achieve within the AL West much less the rest of baseball . It would be fair to suggest that Howard Lincoln and the rest of the managing partners that make up the Board of Directors have simply been derelict in their duties in seeking to make this franchise competitive . The Mariners’ record over the past eight years simply speaks for itself and the fact that they have not made the postseason in the twelve years and their 2001 ALCS appearance and a 4-1 series’ loss to the New York Yankees . Now while I have no doubt that the addition of Hisashi Iwakuma’s to the team has been of benefit to the Mariners , it provided nothing more than a simple feel-good story for a franchise bereft of managerial acumen and depth of talent . The team was simply not competitive enough within the AL and within a division , where other than the Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers , one might as well have imagined that the division bore the aforementioned teams playing each other repeatedly rather than the Mariners having to play the A’s Rangers and Houston Astros .

The Cy Young Award within the AL is likely to be a two-horse race in the end between the Tigers’ ace and Yu Darvish , the with Max Scherzer joining teammate Justin Verlander as a recent award winner of baseball’s top pitching award for the Tigers’ franchise .

The MVP Award , long seen as the top individual award in the game of baseball has a noted history , but as of late , one could attest to the fact that with Ryan Braun’s win in 2011 , even with the rumors of the player’s use of an illicit substance and his apology this year for his admitted deceit and lying to the game’s authorities , the fans and the Milwaukee Brewers’ ownership has left an indelible stain on the game . Bud Selig’s handling remains haphazard and completely bereft of anything bordering, on being intelligent. Yet somehow, at this point of the season before the winter season meeting of the owners , league hierarchy and front office executives to hash out a number of issues, as well as gauging the interest amongst teams of the various free agents , their impending status and the likely changes due . Baseball now needs more than ever before, an image at the top of the game, that truly represents best that the sport has to offer.

The AL contenders for the MVP are Miguel Cabrera , the 2012 MVP recipient and Triple Crown winner , Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , baseball’s only fifty home-run hitter this season and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . Cabrera hands down , has been as dominant this season as he was in 2012 , albeit that Davis’ season primarily built around that home run tally , did not lead to a postseason berth for the Orioles. Add in the fact that suspicions have continued to surround a player who before this season had never hit more than twenty-five home runs in a season . Trout coming off an AL Rookie of the Year win in 2012 , has been the Angels’ lone bright spot on another under-achieving season .

In all likelihood , this decision as adjudicated by the BBWAA will come down to how they view the year-long performances of Cabrera , Davis and Trout and who proved to be the most consistent . This season, I truly believe that Miguel Cabrera has simply been better than his peers and having led the Tigers into the postseason , of which the same cannot be said of either Chris Davis or Mike Trout .

Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates , Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks , all had productive seasons for their respective teams. McCutchen, was simply more than the driving force, behind a franchise having made their first postseason appearance since 1992. By far the best player on that Pirates’ roster , he has now become a perennial All Star and now has to be one of the best players in the NL. Molina led the Cardinals in a myriad of offensive categories this season and was one of the primary reasons behind the their successful run in the postseason. Though the World Series’ loss to the Boston Red Sox was definitely a lopsided affair , it should not detract from a splendid season by the Cardinals’ catcher , a player who is now proving to be one of the preeminent players at the position within the game. Paul Goldschmidt provided the excitement needed for a Diamondbacks’ team that simply could not meet the challenge of even remotely being in with a chance being a worthy adversary for the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West .

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It will be interesting to see which these triumvirate of players favored amongst the primary NL candidates will walk away as the 2013 NL recipient of the NL MVP award, following in a long line of illustrious winners of the past . As we know, several of those players, now fall into a somewhat unsavory category , of being suspected steroid users or admitted violators of the league’s steroidal policy . Either way, the game this season though smeared by the ongoing legacy of its landscape still being tainted is in need of a breath of fresh air with a new group of players who actually have respect for the game as well as the fans themselves , rather than being self-absorbed narcissists, with a total disregard for the fans . What if anything, do you believe to have been the major highlights of this past year within MLB and what thoughts if any, do you have with regard to next season ? Simply leave a comment, as you see fit on this, and anything you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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(1) Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays who this week was named the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year . In the NL the award went to Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez after both players had fantastic seasons for their respective teams. AP Photo/ John Raoux …

(2) Yasiel Puig (66) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on September 19th, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The player , though favored by a number of voters within the BBWAA in the NL Rookie of the Year voting , failed to get the votes needed to add the Dodgers’ list of acclaimed players to have won the prestigious award. Getty Images North America / Christian Peterson ….

(3) MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , left, whose handling of the “steroid issue” within baseball, has repeatedly come into question over the past decade. The league’s highest-ranking official will seek to have the suspension of Yankees’ third baseman , Alex Rodriguez , upheld in an arbitration hearing for which a date has yet to be set. Presiding over the hearing will be Frederick Horowitz . Rodriguez has a civil suit pending in Manhattan in the US Federal Court , in which he seeks unspecified damages for libel , slander , defamation of character and emotional distress , brought about by the league’s actions, in seeking to suspend him for misleading statements and his alleged association with Anthony ‘Tony ‘ Bosch of Biogenesis Inc. and the purchase of illicit substances , said to be PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) of from Bosch’s company (Biogenesis) . Rodriguez has denied any wrongdoing on his part stressing that it is nothing more than character assassination by the league hierarchy. He will be represented in his civil suit by noted criminal attorneys Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell . AP / REUTERS / Alex Marshall ….

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is seen here congratulating Andrew McCutchen, left, , outfielder with team. Both are in line and seen as presumptive favorites to capture the NL Manager of the Year Award for Hurdle , with McCutchen seen as the likely recipient for the NL MVP . After a two-decade wait the Pirates made it back to the postseason , only to fall at the in the NLDS . GM Neal Huntington and team owner Bob Nutting are hoping for more positive results in 2014 , with both owner and general manager vowing to increase the team’s payroll considerably, after a season of increased attendance and a sellout for a vast majority of the Pirates’ games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,. AP Photo / Mark Edmondson ….

(5) Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers 2013 Cy Young Award winner , who led all starting pitchers in the Majors this season in terms of victories . AP Photo / Eric Schmidt …

(6) Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers , left and Mike Trout , are seen as the two leading candidates in AL MVP race alongside Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles . The Tigers’ slugger is seeking back-to-back wins of the award he won 2012 , during which, he also attained the Triple Crown . Getty Images / Fiona Matthews ….

(7) Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , who led all players this season in the Majors with 53 home runs the highest total in either league over the past twelve years when in 2001 Barry Bonds hit the single season lead total of seventy-three home runs . Davis , who prior to this past season had never hit more than twenty five home runs in a season , is now created something of a storm , with their now being ever-growing suspicion as to his single season achievement . Getty Images / Chris Hobbs …..

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tophatal ………………….. 11/13/2013

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Wendy Fiore .

From the sublime to the ridiculous ………..

From the sublime to the ridiculous ……….

If there is one thing we know about both the NFL and NBA , it is that “defense wins championships”. Being able to do so on a consistent basis , best aids a team in achieving that ultimate of goal of winning a title , be it in any team sport. As the NBA season still remains in its infancy , barely a month into the season which began on the 29th October , with a number of games on the opening night . Over the weekend schedule within the league, there were a slew of very interesting games, of which a contest between the defending Western Conference champions , in the San Antonio Spurs against the New York Knicks , a team filled high-priced stars , that has simply under-achieved over the past two seasons . It should be noted that last season , a great deal more was expected of this Mike Woodson coached team . This season , the pretext already being suggested will be that the Knicks along with the Brooklyn Nets are likely to be the biggest threat to the Miami Heat the defending NBA champions , as they set on the defense of their title and in seeking to create their own piece of history in winning three consecutive NBA titles .

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New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan’s desire is to bring a title back to the media capital of the world. With the team , housed in perhaps the most famous sports’ venue in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York, it seems only fitting that his wish ought to be granted. That being said, when your team has been assembled from ill-fitting parts , you can only expect there to be a number of hiccups along the way both on and off the field of play. In recent years, we had the tenure of Isiah Thomas as head coach and then in an executive position of the venerable franchise . Missed opportunities , overspending on mediocre talent and to date , it would appear that not a single lesson has been learned by anyone within the front office of the organization . Yet continually , the Knicks’ fans and mass media within the New York City metropolitan area continue to hype the franchise , as if they have been an omnipresent force within the NBA over the past decade or more .

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As I indicated earlier, the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs met in a game over the weekend . In front of a national television audience, as well as a global audience of millions via the NBA Network and their international broadcast partners and those in attendance at Madison Square Garden. New York and San Antonio would put on a colorful display of attacking basketball. Unfortunately, for the Knicks’ fans , what they were also allowed to witness, was a team without the slightest propensity to play an iota of defense, as New York fell to the Spurs in a thirty-one point blowout loss to their opponents, 120-89 on Sunday afternoon.

If the New York Knicks are to have any hope of being within a remote chance of even challenging within the Eastern Conference and the Miami Heat, in particular . Then this team will have to a great deal more than have Carmelo Anthony be the lone threat offensively , and with their being no one of note actually being prepared to assume the load defensively to aid the ball-club. Anthony, is the only player on the roster averaging twenty points or more per game this season . With a record of 2-4 , the New York Knicks find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division , a division that is currently led by the Philadelphia 76ers (4-3) . From a conference standpoint, the team now stands at the bottom of the Eastern Conference , bearing the same record as the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards (2-4) . From a league wide standpoint , only the Denver Nuggets (1-4) , Sacramento Kings (1-5) and win-less Utah Jazz (0-7) , possess a worse record .

Clearly , all is not right with the New York Knicks, and with players such as JR Smith , Andrea Bargnani , Raymond Felton , Metta World Peace , Amare Stoudemire , Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert barely contributing anything of note during the Knicks’ two victories this season . It is extremely difficult to see how anyone can actually take this team seriously based on their current play. GM Steve Mills who was recently promoted to his current position may feel the need to make some drastic changes to the makeup of this roster at the trade deadline or try to engineer a buyout of the remainder of his contract . His biggest wish may well be to move the bloated salary of Amare’ Stoudemire off the books and as far away from the franchise as is humanly possible, as it has been years since he has contributed anything of note to this Knicks’ franchise. New York’s next game will be on Wednesday , when they are the guests of the Atlanta Hawks at the Philips Arena , in Atlanta, Georgia ,.

If the New York Knicks are said to be having an indifferent season , alongside their fellow in city and conference rivals , the Brooklyn Nets . Of which the best thing I can say , is if the front office led by Billy King feels that an aging roster , and rookie head coach in Jason Kidd , whose playing career is unquestioned , but his coaching acumen is already in doubt , is the best way to proceed forward. Then clearly, the mindset of the organization is misplaced along with an outrageously bloated team payroll of $102.6 million . Bear in mind, also, the organization will be obligated to pay the luxury tax of $63.5 million for this season alone , having exceeded the league’s soft salary cap of $58.455 million.

While, I believe that Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry can contribute to the Nets’ ambitions this season. From an observer’s standpoint, I just cannot see the team going deep into the playoffs, because simply put , the minutes needed from the entire roster to mount a serious challenge to the obvious contenders within the Eastern Conference will not be forthcoming . Kidd’s coaching inexperience is already evidence of that and it is plain to see , that there has been little productive advice being proffered up by anyone on his coaching staff . The defense of the Nets, also seems to be a work in progress , with the losses inexplicably coming in the most inopportune of ways. A barely functional Deron Williams has yet to have a real breakout game this season and it has been left to Brook Lopez to provide the greater part of the Nets’ offensive productivity this early in the season. While Williams is coming off , off-season surgery , without his productivity , it is unlikely that the Brooklyn Nets will be able to compete at a higher degree of efficiency and competitiveness , in spite of Jason Terry’s presence on the roster as the best alternative at the point guard position . As Deron Williams goes , then so do the Brooklyn Nets. So, it will be of the utmost urgency, that his game is back at a peak level .

Coming off a narrow five-point loss to the Indiana Pacers’ , the Nets will now look to gain some momentum from that defeat , when they meet the Sacramento Kings at the Sleep Train Arena , in Sacramento, California , on Wednesday evening . At this juncture just about any positive traction that can be gained must be seen as an added plus, even if it can’t be viewed as a moral victory .

Should the Miami Heat fans be worried at this juncture that the team has a 4-3 record , though they do lead the Southeast Division by a mere game over the Atlanta Hawks ? Coming off a 66-16 record in 2012 , given the Heat’s currently play , they would be projected to finish with a win total of 48-34. While I do not believe yet to be a cause for concern , I do think that the players might still be reveling in last season’s triumph over the San Antonio Spurs and for the moment are content to be judged on the credentials of being the two-time defending NBA champions ! The three defeats as early as they have come this season , I would have thought that would have shaken Miami of its complacency and simply galvanized the team into playing a great deal better than they have been . There can be no excuses made for a franchise seeking to make NBA history , alongside perhaps the best player to have graced the NBA since his entry into the league as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers . That year, was a draft resplendent with talent not since seen , in subsequent years, by a very wide margin. . LeBron James’ legacy we know, has been written and cemented in stone , but the player I now believe wants to be viewed as the ” best ever” ! Will he be able to accomplish that ? Well, only time will tell, and also dictate the fate of the player and this team.

Saturday’s loss by the Miami Heat to the Boston Celtics , by a one-point margin 111-110 , emphasized what I now have always felt, was a weakness with the Heat. They have never been considered a “physical” or a “very good rebounding “ team. What we are uniquely aware of concerning Miami, is that they are quite capable shifting gears, as and when they believe there is a reason to do so . Were it not for the inexperience in the Indiana Pacers’ roster last season in the Eastern Conference Finals , it remains my firm belief that the outcome of the series would have been entirely different ! The physicality and play of Roy Hibbert , David West , George Hill , Lance Stephenson and Tyler Hansborough ….. exposed the flaws of the Miami Heat , who are and will always remain something of a finesse team , while LeBron James , Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh , Ray Allen remain the fulcrum and pivotal to the play of the team overall. Beyond that, you can simply draw your own conclusions .

Hoping to push their record to 5-3 , the Heat will play host to the Milwaukee Bucks at the American Airlines Arena , in Miami , Florida on Tuesday evening . For the Bucks , they will certainly be hoping that they can make the proposed contest a little less lopsided than they have been in the past , with Erik Spoelstra’s players having the better of their visitors in their most recent match-ups .

In spite of the lofty expectations each season of the self-absorbed Los Angeles Lakers’ (3-5) fans and the glitterati of A List Hollywood celebrities who make it their place to be seen at the Staples Center when the venerable Lakers are on the court . I am not so sure that this will be the season, that is likely to be an advantageous a turning point for the franchise in terms of its history . Kobe Bryant’s career is on the wane and no matter how one tries to spin it , this is not a very good Los Angeles Lakers’ team , in terms of its makeup. Beyond Pau Gasol , an aging Steve Nash , Steve Blake and Nick Young and Bryant , himself . There is absolutely nothing to suggest that the Lakers are capable of hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season , much less be considered to good enough gain a playoff berth within the Western Conference . Kobe Bryant may well have felt chided, that the Lakers were favored to finish no better than twelfth within the conference at the end of this season. Yet in reality, those assessing the team , were doing so, in its merits and how they what they believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the roster outright . With Bryant still sidelined as he seeks to recuperate from injury, there is no doubt without him , the Lakers are a shell of themselves both from an offensive and defensive standpoint.

The departure of Dwight Howard should not be seen as that great of a loss for the Los Angeles Lakers. The center simply could not adjust to being in the spotlight , much less be asked to lead or be seen as the future leader of the franchise upon Bryant’s departure from the Lakers, upon his undoubted retirement. Howard simply took less money , to play ‘second fiddle ‘ to James Harden as a member of the Houston Rockets , while looking to escape a season of underachievement in Los Angeles in 2012. As to the Lakers’ impending future, that will be predicated upon Kobe Bryant’s return, as there appears to be no set timetable for his much-anticipated participation in a regular season game . It is pretty safe to suggest , his return and in a Lakers’ uniform will be about as welcomed as the franchise’s last taste of postseason success in 2010, as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals .

The Lakers’ next regular season test will at home to the New Orleans Pelicans in a game between two teams looking to reinvent themselves s and gain some traction in terms of their respective seasons . For Lakers’ head coach, Mike D’Antoni and his coaching staff , this is likely a season , that will prove to be the toughest of his professional career. If as anticipated, the franchise fails to make the postseason , then it will certainly be back to the drawing board for GM Mitch Kupcak and team owner , Jim Buss . A future without Kobe Bryant , is not that far off in the offing and with the acknowledgement by Carmelo Anthony that he will remain a life-long New York Knicks’ player , even if in choosing to exercise the option to test the free agency market by opting out of the . final year of his contract . The player knows his best chance of a title remains where he is now domiciled , rather than with a franchise that will be in a total state of transition.

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Picture gallery.

With the NBA season still in its infancy , what if anything has proven to be the biggest surprise or the most disappointing in either the terms of the play or stories emanating from around the league ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks walks into the locker room during half time against the San Antonio Spurs with his teammates Raymond Felton (2) , J.R. Smith (8) and Amar’e Stoudemire (1) at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2013 in New York City. The Spurs went on to defeat the Knicks 120-89 . Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer …..

(2) J.R. Smith (8) of the New York Knicks drives against Manu Ginobili (20) of the San Antonio Spurs at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2013 in New York City. The Spurs defeat the Knicks 120-89 . Getty Images / Maddie Meyer …..

(3) Tiago Splitter (22) of the San Antonio Spurs drives past Amar’e Stoudemire (1) of the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2013 in New York City. The Spurs defeat the Knicks 120-89. Getty Images North America / Maddie Meyer ….

(4) Paul Pierce (34) of the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Garnett (2) and Deron Williams (8) walk down-court during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center on November 9, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Pacers would defeat the Nets 96-91 . Getty Images/ Paul Hughes …..

(5) Head coach of the Brooklyn Nets Jason Kidd disputes a call with referee Mark Ayotte (56) at Barclays Center on November 9, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Pacers defeat the Nets 96-91. Getty Images / Maddie Meyer ……

(6) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat attempts to pass the ball as Phil Pressey (26) of the Boston Celtics and Jared Sullinger (7) of the Boston Celtics look on at American Airlines Arena on November 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images / Chris Trotman ….

(7) Jeff Green 8 of the Boston Celtics watches his three-point shot at the buzzer as Chris Bosh (1) of the Miami Heat and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat look on at American Airlines Arena on November 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 111-110 . Getty Images / Chris Trotman ….

(8) Kevin Love (42) of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots over Pau Gasol (16) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Timberwolves won 113-90 with the Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio torching the Lakers’ lackluster defense with an exhilarating all-round offensive display . Getty Images / Peter Harris ….

(8) Los Angeles Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak , foreground, is seen here alongside head coach Mike D`Antoni as the two host questions from the convened press at the Lakers’ training facility, the Toyota Center in El Segundo , California,. Another lackluster start to the season , somewhat similar to last year, shows the team to be struggling offensively and defensively , with their being no outright answers as to the team’s continued struggles . With no apparent timetable set for Kobe Bryant’s return , it would appear that the Lakers’ struggles are likely to continue. AP Photo / Matt Slocum …

(9) Kobe Bryant, the active career points’ leader in the NBA, a five-time NBA championship winner , Finals’ MVP and League MVP , is now in the latter stages of his storied career , but he is looking to make one last assault on winning a sixth NBA championship ring , all with the Los Angeles Lakers . With the player still sidelined by injury and recuperating as best possible , Bryant hopes to make return to the team by the end of November . AP Photo / Peter Mills ……

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tophatal ………………………….

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NBA news and archived news

NBA standings (division)

NBA results 10th November

NBA schedule 11th November

This date in NBA history

NBA champions

NBA team payrolls

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Brooklyn Nets news

Los Angeles Lakers’ news

Miami Heat news

New York Knicks’ news

San Antonio Spurs

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Goin’ old school

Sylk E Fyne , feat’g Chill ………. “Romeo & Juliet ”

We tend to see what we want to see , and not what has actually taken place ….

We tend to see what we want to see , and not what has actually taken place

In light of the recent events taking place in the NFL and this constant insinuation that everyone is entitled to their right say whatever they want as a way of expressing themselves . At no time in any of the recent debates on the incident , have I read or actually heard the words , “ decency “ , “ common courtesy “ much less “ respect “ . And all of this built upon this still rather asinine premise, that this country being greatest on the planet , built upon Christian and moral values, can and should be seen as a beacon of light for the rest of the world .

I find it now hard to believe that anyone who has seen in print, the words of Richie Incognito directed towards his teammate Jonathan Martin and at his mother , can now view this as a place where everyone can see seen or treated as equals . If racism was meant to be tolerated in the workplace, then why not have it as a statute ? Clearly, not the case, of the charade that has been created in the NFL as a fraternity of brothers . Never mind the asinine idiocy of on air analysts, opining that this matter should have been dealt with as an internal issue or where a player walking out on his teammates after a racial epithet has been directed at him , cannot be trusted once he has opened up to press and public on the matter . Yet , this is now the idiocy that we are now seeing as the league hierarchy and NFLPA (union) begin to “circle the wagons” in seeking to defer and deflect the now mounting criticism directed at the NFL and its lack of oversight and its initial handling of this incident .

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Miami Dolphins’ GM Jeff Ireland did the right thing in suspending Richie Incognito without pay , and in ordering an immediate in-house inquiry , rather than having left it to the team’s now beleaguered head coach Joe Philbin to deal with the matter and whose job is likely to be on the line given the poor performances of the team this season and his own handling of the incident in question, and those initial public statements, claiming that this was nothing more than an isolated incident , when it now seems , it was quite the opposite , with their being what appears to be a mounting feud between the two linemen on the team .

If it was known amongst many of the players on the roster , that there was some type of feud going on between the two players and with it escalating to the point of a physical altercation and now , an uncalled for rationale in Incognito’s behavior , then what should that now indicate to us about the NFL as a league where the players simply are allowed to run wild, have no respect for the law and who then often hide behind their wall of high-priced attorneys to fend of charges of a criminal act or intent . Yet excuses are now being made for this type of behavior, without a thought, about how this is all viewed by outside world . Especially one , where the league tries to sell its brand to the consumer and seeks out corporate partners willing to part ways with countless millions on an annual basis to increase this already $7 billion a year corporate entity with ever increasing revenues , which keeps the team owners , players and league hierarchy salivating at the prospect of ever increasing profits .

If you thought that this has been the only incident that placed Richie Incognito under the microscope in recent weeks , then you would be sadly mistaken . In an incident that is alleged to have taken place at a charity golf tournament , the player is said to have sexually harassed a female patron at a public in view of several members who then took it upon themselves to call in local law enforcement . Yet, here we have another incident of a player on the Dolphins’ roster having ran amok, albeit action was said to have been taken , there seems to be no record of a monetary fine or disciplinary action having been taken against the player subsequent to that particular incident . Now what has anyone got to say about the issue, other than to continue with their usual apathy disinterest ?

For the Miami Dolphins and their own impoverished t season , one where the team is in a circling motion as it awaits the call to land . It does seem, as if this conflict or saga is more likely to pull the organization apart , rather than hold it together. There is not one player amongst this lineup , who one can look to and call that individual the team’s vocal leader and with the constant struggles of quarterback Ryan Tannehill on display each week during this season . Is anyone actually surprised that at this juncture, the talk is not about what the Dolphins have failed to achieve in 2013, but the fact the team now has a possible racist within their mix, with no apparent formal apology yet to have been offered by Richie Incognito for his behavior ? Obviously a microcosm of society , where some have no wish to be held accountable for their actions, but who then would choose to play the “victim” instead , as has been the case in the first public interview granted by the player. Meanwhile, Jonathan Martin has hired himself high-powered criminal attorney David Cornwell , in what is likely to be a situation where some type of civil suit is likely to be brought against either the Miami Dolphins, or Richie Incognito , himself . And clearly, this has been the reason why NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has summoned both players to the union’s headquarters to seek a resolution in this matter, before it becomes a rather unsavory legal issue . Bear in mind also , that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has also hired an outside investigator head up the league’s own investigation as to what took place between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin . Corporate litigator, Ted Wells , has been the individual hired by the league to head up the investigation in this matter .

With all eyes now on the Miami Dolphins , for the team, their urgency will actually evolve around how they acquit themselves on Monday night , when they meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) , as the two teams get underway in a contest at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa Florida . While the Dolphins have their own off the field issues , for the Buccaneers their problems this season , have been longstanding as the team has struggled throughout the entire year , with nothing of note coming by way of head coach Greg Schiano or his coaching staff . The game itself, is likely to be one of the less intriguing contests taking place during week ten of the NFL schedule. So make of it what you will and enjoy whatever you believe to be some of the more intriguing contests on the NFL menu for the weekend

There is no denying that a team’s season can be made or broken in one moment of what appears to have been a rather innocuous incident in terms of an injury . In the case of the Green Bay Packers , the loss of quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone , could very well bring their season crashing down around their ears . The alternatives for Mike McCarthy in terms of a substitute for Rodgers can best be described as having a Ferrari in your driveway and then in comes in a 84 Dodge Pinto alongside a ’91 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme . Far be it for me to make this suggestion , but Packers GM Ted Thompson must now have realized that his office made a monumental mistake in the waiving of Vince Young at the end of the preseason , after the player showed a great deal of promise during the team’s exhibition games . Which is a great deal more than can be said of Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien combined , who are in fact the number two and the three players behind Rodgers on the team’s depth chart at the quarterback position

When Green Bay play host to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field , in Green Bay , Wisconsin , Seneca Wallace will be making his first start in an NFL game since playing for the Cleveland Browns in contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 NFL season . That asides, a great deal is being asked of player, whose NFL career can best be described as spotty in part or moderately average . A win is certainly needed by the Packers if they are to maintain their slender but slight lead over the Detroit Lions (5-3) and Chicago Bears (5-3) within the NFC North . In what is now turning out to be a tightly contested division , the three aforementioned teams will be fighting out until the end of the season with their divisional games likely to be the “make or break” that could prove to be the real pivotal factor decider within the division

In what is now turning out to be a disastrous season for the Atlanta Falcons , it is becoming increasing difficult each week to explain how a team that was originally seen as a favorite alongside the New Orleans Saints (6-2) as the duo thought to be fighting it out for divisional supremacy within the NFC South . Instead, but for the win-less Buccaneers, Mike Smith’s Falcons would now be finding themselves at the bottom of the division with their mediocre record of 2-6 , a mark that would also place them in the bottom half of the conference (NFC) . As of now , it looks as if the Falcons are not only playing for pride and self-respect, but also to determine perhaps their draft position for the 2014 NFL Draft . The real issue Atlanta this season, has been the inconsistency of their defense alongside under-achieving players on both sides of the ball . As to their being leadership on a team that has several seasoned veterans and perhaps one the league’s more consistent passers in Matt Ryan . An explanation has to be sought, as to why the Falcons have been a miserable failure . Mike Smith serves up very little, beyond the usual diatribe of platitudes and a great deal of rhetoric . GM Thomas Dimitroff , is now viewed with a great deal of contempt by the fans , as he is viewed as the architect of the roster over the past two years , with an abundance of draft picks and a number of questionable off-season acquisitions .

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As Atlanta prepares for the visit of the Seattle Seahawks (8-1) to the Georgia Dome in a conference match-up this Sunday, it would be safe to say, a defeat here and there may well be questions raised as to whether or not Mike Smith has taken this franchise as far as he can , in spite of the recent postseason appearances , where once again his teams have failed abysmally , along with Matt Ryan, and his multi-year , mult-million dollar contract . I have no doubt that the quarterback will remain the centerpiece of this team , but there are several players on this roster , who are now past their “sell by date” in terms of their dwindling productivity . We will either find out a great deal about the temperament of the Falcons this Sunday or we are likely to witness a team who has lost the appetite to win.

The façade long-held up that the NFL cares , and specifically about the health of their retired veterans continues to take repeated hits . In recent breaking news , Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett was recently diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) , along with the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Repeatedly, I have heard and read comments by fans and analysts alike stating that these players know the risk of participating in a physically demanding and full contact sport. Yet what seems to be missing in this ongoing debate , has been the years of research that was in the NFL’s possession on the studies conducted by a well-qualified medical team conducting studies in blunt force head trauma and other neurological disorders associated in playing professional football. A great deal of the of findings when published was never entered into the public domain , with that evidence remaining in the NFL’s possession . with both Roger Goodell and his predecessor Paul Tagliabue refusing to acknowledge the “cause and effect ” of CTE and blunt head force trauma. Excuses from all around, came from veterans , current players, coaches and fans alike . But it was not until the recent deaths of Junior Seau , and previously that of Dave Duerson , both from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, recorded officially, as a homicide, that the fans and public alike started to take note . Congressional Committees were convened, all to no avail , with the usual perfunctory answers being proffered up by Roger Goodell, and DeMaurice Smith .

Courtesy of USA Today

Dorsett among former players showing signs of CTE
Dorsett admits suicidal thoughts

By Maggie Hendricks

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is as familiar to football fans as a torn ACL or ruptured Achilles. It’s the degenerative brain disease that has been blamed for the suicide and untimely deaths of players including Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Chris Henry. Some researchers have linked CTE to football head trauma and cited long-term effects such as depression and dementia. The unfortunate truth of the disease was it could not be diagnosed until after death.

However, UCLA researchers have preliminary results on a test to diagnose signs of CTE in living former players. Among those diagnosed in the initial sample group is Tony Dorsett, the Hall-of-Famer who is now 59 and struggling with depression, emotional outbursts and memory loss.

He spoke to ESPN’s Outside the Lines about how it’s affecting his life.

“It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me. I’ve thought about crazy stuff, sort of like, ‘Why do I need to continue going through this?’” he said. “I’m too smart of a person, I like to think, to take my life, but it’s crossed my mind.”

The report said researchers notified Dorsett Monday. In an appearance Wednesday on ESPN, Dorsett acknowledged he had been tested at UCLA and received results.

“I’m trying to be proactive rather than reactive,” he said.

Joe DeLamiellure and Leonard Marshall are going through similar problems, and were also diagnosed with signs of CTE. The NFL recently settled a lawsuit with former players over ongoing health issues from concussions (including a Dorsett), so these men are likely not alone.

While it’s heartbreaking that these men are dealing with this diseased at such a young age, it’s also good news that researchers are getting closer to diagnosing, and possibly treating, CTE in the living.

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A recent civil suit settled in the US Federal Court has not really done anything to actually absolve NFL of their responsibilities , as they simply patted themselves on the back along with fellow defendants the NFLPA, in avoiding having to make a multi-billion dollar payout, as the plaintiffs (4,300 retired NFL veterans) in the case settled for a $1 billion settlement , that will be used for further medical research , as well assisting players such as Dorsett and many of his peers, who now find themselves in a similar position from a medical standpoint. That settlement figure will hardly make a dent in the NFL’s annual $ 7.4 billion in revenues , especially when one considers that the payout will not be a lump sum. . The fact of the matter is, the more it is alleged that the NFL cares, there is very little evidence to actually substantiate the actual claims being made . In truth, the NFL hierarchy has hidden behind a great deal of deceit and along the way, sought to throw out many of the original legal suits filed against them in the various courts around the country at the varying levels within the legal system. Now with the various medical articles published from accredited medical institutions within the field neuroscience and gerontology , it begs the question, why is it , that at every turn , the NFL so willing to discredit the findings of these esteemed practitioners in the field , when their own research and findings bore out and came to the very same conclusions from academic establishments such as Johns Hopkins , Stanford University School of Neuroscience , Harvard School of Medicine & Neuroscience , UCLA Dept of Neurology , Sloane Kettering and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) ? It seems incredulous that many are now trying to acknowledge that the NFL has become proactive , after so many years of denial on their part. The only reason that Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy chose to do an about-face on the issue , was clearly , because of the adverse and negative publicity towards the NFL and the public relations’ hit that the league itself continued to take , because of their poor handling of the issue

Tony Dorsett has joined a growing list of players recently retired as well as many of his peers who now face a very uncertain future in terms of their well-being. Advances made in the field of neurology have been considerable , but there are no cutting edge breakthroughs that have come to the fore. Unfortunately, for the likes of Bernie Kosar , Jim McMahon , Dorsey Levens and the aforementioned Dorsett , their years will be ones where memory loss chronic headaches and numerous other medical ailments associated with Alzheimer’s and CTE will play an even greater part in their daily lives , more than they would each care to acknowledge. In the midst of this all, Roger Goodell’s only public statement on this issue has been that the league set aside $1 billion as a settlement , yet what he also failed to state , that to date less than $50 million has been used to assist the numerous plaintiffs who sought the league’s help. Somehow the alleged caring we are so often told about as it relates to the NFL , has simply been for show and not much else. Good deeds within a community is one thing , but the greater disservice by the NFL has been their continued deceit and the mistreatment of retired seasoned veterans . .

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Picture gallery.

Your thoughts if any on the points raised in this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter at hand . Simply leave a comment as you see fit, and thanks as always for the continued support !

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Beleaguered Miami Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin who has come in for a considerable amount of criticism of the Richie Incognito scandal that has cast a giant shadow over
the organization . Unsubstantiated sources, now state that Philbin was not made aware of the alleged abuse or any physical altercation that was alleged to have taken place at the team’s training facility in Davie , Florida or in the team’s locker room at Dolphins’ Stadium , in Miami , Florida between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Either the head coach, simply does not keep himself abreast of problems amongst his players or he simply chooses to ignore them until something rather drastic has happened . Miami faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Monday night game at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida, on the 11th November , 2013. With a great deal on the line for both teams , a victory is of the utmost priority for each franchise. AP Photo / Mark Carter …..

(2) In a yet to seen interview that will be shown on the Fox Sports Channel (Fox Sports 1) and various affiliates Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins will sit down with Fox’s Jay Glazer to discuss his side of what has now become a very unsavory story. Incognito states that he feels betrayed by teammate Jonathan Martin , in his going public much of what has gone concerning an apparent altercation and Incognito’s racially insensitive tweet , which speaks of the player and his mother in racially derogatory terms , Perhaps someone should remind a buffoon such as Richie Incognito (right) that once you use a social media platform such as ‘ Twitter ‘ , it is extremely difficult to disprove the fact that you did not make those statements , if it is your own personal account used and then you have made a number of your own teammates aware of your actions . @ copyrighted photograph all rights reserved .

(3) Miami Dolphins’ defensive linemen Richie Incognito (68) and teammate Jonathan Martin (71) are seen here on the sidelines for the team during a game earlier this season. In what is said to have been an incident that allegedly took place within the team’s locker room , Martin was said to have left the Dolphins’ headquarters to make his way back to California to be alongside his family. For Incognito , he now has to explain to the world why he used racially derogatory terms aimed at Martin as well his teammate’s mother. Richie Incognito’s intelligence does not appear to be that high, along with the Miami Dolphins’ own intellect on the field of play this season . Getty Images / Gabe Potter …

(4) Seneca Wallace of the Green Bay Packers will replace the injured Aaron Rodgers when he starts for the Green Bay Packers in their Sunday afternoon game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field in Green Bay , Wisconsin ,. This will be the backup’s first game as a starter since a 2011 regular season contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers when playing for the Cleveland Browns . With the Packers at 5-3 jointly sitting atop of the NFC North alongside the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions , a win for the will be of their utmost priority on Sunday . Getty Images / Ryan Hart ……

(5) Atlanta Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith is seen here on the sidelines talking to team quarterback Matt Ryan (2). A disastrous season in terms of the team’s season has left them clinging for dear life with a 2-6 record lying in third place within the NFC South and likely to miss the playoffs . GM Thomas Dimitroff during this upcoming off-season will have to make several tough decisions concerning the team’s roster and its makeup as a precursor to next season . AP Photo / John Raoux ……

(6) Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett recently diagnosed with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) , a neurological degenerative disorder brought on by repeated hits and a bye product of concussions after repeated hits to the head, causing the brain to become swollen and bruised . A further bye-product of this also, can be long and short-term memory loss and the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Dorsett whose playing career was highlighted by his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys , was one of the NFL’s greatest rushers in the league’s history . Getty Images North America / Helen Richardson …..

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As the NFL enters week ten of its sixteen week regular season schedule , with the plethora of stories that have made up the season thus far. Perhaps no one story, than the one currently fomenting will have a lasting effect on the league as we know it to be at present . No matter how anyone now tries to spin what appears to have been an unsavory incident between Miami Dolphins’ teammates Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin , there is absolutely no way that one can justify the stance that racial intolerance or abuse should be part of anyone’s work environment . As to this downright idiocy , that a code of conduct amongst a brotherhood was broken by Martin, after he made it public, as to an incident that took place between he and Incognito, speaks to the damn stupidity of former NFL player Damien Woody , that with Jonathan Martin having broken that code , it now makes him “ a marked man “ who is likely . to distrusted by a teammate .

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Personally , I believe Woody to be entirely wrong, due to what appears to be ignorance and the fact , that as an African-American , I seriously doubt that he would have chosen to simply walk away, were a racial epithet directed at him or a member of his family , as appears to be the case with the online evidence of the “tweets” that were directed at Jonathan Martin and his mother in derogatory racial terms . As to those who simply want feel-good stories in a world where we have corrupt politicians , businessmen and violent crimes being perpetrated against women and children , simply add this episode, in another chapter in country spinning out of control , where common decency and respect no longer prevails .

With no formal statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the matter, from an incident, that is now almost a week old. It begs the question, is the commissioner simply an executive, who cherry picks the issues where he feels it is simply another area where he can be seen in a positive image , albeit that the NFL brand is now once again coming under fire for all of the wrong reasons and a great deal more ? In appointing an attorney Ted Wells , to conduct an in-depth investigation , that will seek input from both of the players involved in this matter , as well as head coach Joe Philbin and the Dolphins’ general manager Jeff Ireland . It now remains to be seen, if there will be parameters set, as to whether or not this matter will be given greater latitude by way of an even greater investigation not just solely of the Miami Dolphins’ organization , but also of all of the thirty-one other teams that make up the NFL . Philbin, originally tried to suggest that this was an isolated incident , but clearly the head coach is now at a loss to explain how an environment of racial intolerance was acceptable within the Dolphins’ locker room , with a makeup of players of different ethnic backgrounds . Clearly, the matter was taken seriously enough by Jeff Ireland to suspend Richie Incognito indefinitely , without pay , while the organization now conducts its own in-house inquiry .

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has summoned both Richie Incognito , his agent and that of Jonathan Martin and his own legal counsel to meet at the Players’ Union headquarters to meet and deal with and discuss d this matter in some clarity . To my mind, this is simply the union trying to line up all of its ducks in a row, in order to abate any possible public outrage over the matter that has blown up over the past forty-eight hours ! The NFLPA , has done little to monitor or dissuade the often criminal or outrageous behavior of its members who have often deemed themselves above the law. Need we also be reminded, this is the very same union that has continued to hide behind the matter of it being a privacy issue , as to why they have yet comply with the league’s request with the commencement of in and out of season testing for anabolic steroids as well as human growth hormones , even after a vote ratifying testing to begin . All this in accordance with a promise made to a US Congressional Committee in 2010 , for which this policy has yet to be instituted three years later . Such hypocrisy , not only from the executive committee of the union, but also the entire NFL hierarchy , led by Roger Goodell.

For a league, where the player personnel makeup extends beyond 65% of players, who are of African-American descent, and other ethnic backgrounds. One has to ask , if the so-called family friendly and all-inclusive atmosphere created and marketed towards its consumers by the NFL , has simply glossed over the at times and often overlooked behavior of the players . Player misconduct is one thing, but where racial bigotry has now become part of the environment , not where a fan has been directing racially insensitive remarks at a player , but that of a player directing those remarks at a fellow teammate and directly at a family member . Should we really be now asking , what else has the NFL chosen to tolerate within its own insular world of the male testosterone driven bastion of the league’s locker rooms and practice field environment ?

This season in the NFL, there have been several terrible games that the fans have been subjected to , on not only on Monday Night Football , but also on Thursday night . Tonight, should prove to be no different , with the Washington Redskins (3-5) as the guests of the Minnesota Vikings (1-7) , in what could prove to be a ” make ” or ” break game ” for both teams, with their respective seasons said to be on the line. In what has turned out to be a monstrously bad season within the NFC East , only the Dallas Cowboys (5-4) currently possess a record above .500 . As to what this actually indicates about the division as a whole , can be best summed up by how one views each of the four teams and their respective records and play over the course of this season . Suffice to say , the New York Giants (2-6) , the Washington Redskins , Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) and the divisional leaders , the Dallas Cowboys have given us a perspective as to what truly bad football is said to be about , at this point of the season. It would be terrible to think or witness the fact that a team with a sub .500 record is likely to win the division and a guaranteed berth in the postseason. Yet , this is what the fans could be facing over the remainder of this season , as I simply cannot foresee either of these four teams showing the type of consistency needed to end up with a winning record by week sixteen !

Greg Schiano , head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) , came in with a blaze of glory , having been hired by general manager Mark Dominik to resurrect the fortunes of the franchise after a dismal 2011 foray , which in the end led to the firing of Schiano’s predecessor Raheem Morris . Now win-less, with an 0-8 record , which they jointly share with the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) for the worst in the NFL . The countdown is now on to see whether or not the Buccaneers can gain their first victory of the season , as things continue to spiral out of control for Greg Schiano , his coaching staff and the entire team . And I use the word “team ” loosely , as there seems to be no desire from anyone on the roster to show any passion , much less leadership or to be held accountable for what is now turning out to be a truly miserable season by any stretch of the imagination.

The Buccaneers will play host to instate neighbors the Miami Dolphins in a game that will have a bearing on both of their seasons and quite possibly determine the fates of both Joe Philbin and Greg Schiano , and their long-term futures as NFL head coaches in the league .

Early season in the NBA and it would appear, as the Indiana Pacers (5-0) remain the lone unbeaten team in the NBA , sitting atop of the Central Division in the Eastern Conference . On Wednesday night the Pacers played host to the Chicago Bulls in one of ten games that was on NBA schedule for the day. Frank Vogel has this team playing at a high level with Paul George giving the sort of performances that was most notably seen in last season’s highly contested and competitive Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat . While I have no doubt that the Pacers are good enough to make return the postseason this year , beyond their being joined by the defending champions . It is difficult to state, which six teams within the Eastern Conference will join that duo and what that determining order is likely to be !

On Friday evening, Indiana will seek to stretch opening season run to six straight unbeaten games , when they play host to the Toronto Raptors (2-3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis,. With the Pacers having the upper hand in the regular season meetings between the two, twee this game is likely to prove to be somewhat uncompetitive . Frank Vogel’s players , but it would be rather impudent to simply think that , because the opponent just happens to be a team with a two-game winning streak , they should be taken lightly , because they have never been part of a competitive season , much less a part of the NBA’s postseason soirees . Chances are, this contest is likely to be close, based on the current disposition of both teams and the mindset of the Indiana Pacers’ players and how they will actually approach the game .

New ownership , same old story , as the Sacramento Kings continue to under-achieve , while their fans remain forever optimistic. From my own perspective, the loss of the Maloof family from the ranks of the NBA owners , should not be seen as that great a loss ! Consider the fact, that they continued to mismanage the franchise and almost brought them to the verge of bankruptcy , speaks volumes as to the lack of oversight that continues to be shown by the NBA hierarchy led by David Stern and his continued abstinence in insisting that the teams are and will remain financially solvent . Either, the NBA commissioner lives in the world of make belief , or he is of the opinion that creative accounting continues to be the best way to inflate the value of the franchises and their profitability .

Sacramento is off to a 1-3 start placing them at the bottom of the standings within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference . For rookie head coach , Michael Malone , beyond having to deal with a completely new hierarchy led by owner Vivek Ranadive , general manager Pete D’Alessandro , special consultant Chris Mullin and Shareef Abdur-Rahim as Director of Player Personnel . It is difficult to see how Malone will seek to navigate the waters of the NBA along with an untested coaching staff and a team led by the talented , but always temperamental DeMarcus Cousins . Already , the mercurial center and his coach are off to rocky start with the two seen clearly angrily gesticulating with one another after Malone sought to substitute the player during a game against the Golden State Warriors that ended in a 87-98 loss to their conference rivals . As to what this say as a precursor for the rest of the Kings’ season , will clearly be determined by the mindset of Cousins and how he views his head coach . Things are obviously not that great in terms of the long-term relationship between the two and it now defies logic as to any reason behind the franchise’s decision to re-sign the player to a four-year $62 million deal . Yet, it was felt by Chris Mullin , Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Pete D’Alessandro to retain the player and make him the centerpiece of any future development of the franchise and its long-term future. Unless DeMarcus Cousins can show signs of maturity as a player , rather than the petulant individual seen in college and repeatedly shown in the NBA when adversity looks him squarely in the eye , then in all likelihood his days in the NBA could very well be numbered as a starter in this league .

It would be fair to suggest that four years into his NBA career , in spite of the hype surrounding a collegiate career with the Kentucky Wildcats that brought about numerous highs and lows . It has to be said that with his being drafted as the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings . It would be fair and enough to suggest that the Kings’ center has simply failed to live up to the perceived expectations and that John Calipari believed that DeMarcus Cousins would prove to be an immediate success in the NBA because of his undoubted skill-set .

In spite of being overwhelmed in the NLCS by the St Louis Cardinals , it now looks as if the Los Angeles Dodgers are prepared to reward manager Don Mattingly with a new contract, extending the current deal , which the manager intends to honor , as he enters into its final year. If the rumors are to be believed Mattingly and his agent Ray Shulte have met with Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti and team President Stan Kasten to hammer out the finite details of a deal , that is likely to make the former New Yankees’ player one of the highest paid managers in Major League Baseball . Kasten’s wish to have Mattingly sign a five-year deal, with the option of an additional year on top of that, shows the intense belief of this front office in their manager and his abilities . In what turned out to be an astonishing year for one of baseball’s more venerable organizations, although the heightened expectations were there , with the expectations that it would be the Dodgers facing off against the Boston Red Sox in the World Series . The team’s failure to cool down the Cardinals’ pitching in the NLCS pennant series , was a clear indicator that there were and remained flaws that were often overlooked , because the Dodgers were a team capable of showing momentary flashes of brilliance. Instead , what was really needed , was in fact a great deal more consistency from the entire team , rather than those momentary showings of brilliance .

With the certainty that Don Mattingly will be retained, along with his managerial staff intact for 2014. The front office, will now look to assess the entire roster and review what they believe their most urgent needs are said to be. The pitching staff was amongst the best in the NL during the regular season , with their starting ace Clayton Kershaw having one of the best years in franchise history as well as in the game’s history , posting figures that were simply astonishing .

With a team payroll that already exceeds $200 million , with only the New York Yankees this past season having a larger salary obligation . This upcoming season could very well be the year where we could witness baseball’s first team with a payroll commitment close to $235 million annually . Certainly , with the ambition of team owners Magic Johnson , Peter Guber , Todd S Boehly , senior managing partner Mark Walter and the financial backing of Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC and that of holding company Guggenheim Partners Inc , as well the $ 8 billion twenty-year television deal with Time Warner Inc . It begs the question , if the Dodgers simply want the best free agents available , will they simply outbid their opponents at the drop of a hat ?

With Clayton Kershaw as the team’s most urgent priority in terms of re-signing the player to a long-term multi-year deal , rather than losing him to free agency in 2014 . The question remains whether or not Ned Colletti will now make the player the highest paid starting pitcher in the game, with a deal thought to be in excess of $275 million over ten years . The Los Angeles Dodgers currently have some of the highest paid players in the baseball , me with notables such as Zack Greinke and his compensation package in the upper echelons of the starting pitchers in the game . Kershaw and his agent J D Smart will likely seek a deal commensurate with what is being earned by the top pitchers in the game ,albeit that salary arbitration in 2014 , will not prove to be that great a hurdle with Stan Kasten Ned Colletti eager to sign the pitcher to a long-term deal . And if Magic Johnson’s statement are to be believed “ that money will be of no object “ as the Los Angeles Dodgers seek to bring the franchise its first World Series’ title since 1988 . A quarter of a century has passed since that achievement came into being , so next season ought to portend to something special for the franchise , as they seek to make winning baseball’s biggest team prize a reality for this upcoming year . Is this team capable of doing that , given the makeup of their present roster , without seeking to delve amongst many of their prospects within their farm system to bolster that lineup ?

We have yet to know the fate of Alex Rodriguez , as he awaits the date to be set for his arbitration hearing in front special arbitration adjudicator Fred Horowitz . Rodriguez , denies any wrongdoing on his part in what he feels are scurrilous accusations and claims being brought by the MLB hierarchy that he was a customer of the defunct supplements’ company Biogenesis Inc, whose founder Anthony ‘ Tony’ Bosch claims that the Yankees’ third basemen purchased anabolic steroids from the company for his own personal use. The company founder, will be baseball’s chief witness in the proceedings against the player along with what is said to be detailed factual evidence now in the league’s possession . As to the veracity of MLB’s case against Rodriguez , without any evidence for the public to view , this all remains speculative in nature. Yet , to my mind, Alex Rodriguez when questioned on the matter , has sought defer the questions claiming that under advice of counsel (his lawyers). he cannot answer any questions pending a legal matter. Clearly , with the hiring of two noted criminal attorneys , Alex Rodriguez is now seeking another avenue to refute the charges being leveled against him and what better way to do that , than by legal means , in seeking to bring about a civil suit against Major League Baseball as well as the New York Yankees’ chief medical physician . Muddy the waters of the case against you, and then also seek legal recourse with attorneys David Cornwell and Joseph Tacopina as the conduits in pressing ahead with your civil suit in the New York City , US District Federal Court .

Should the arbitration not go in Alex Rodriguez’s favor , one of the more likely premises to arise out of this all, will be that the New York Yankees , will have Rodriguez’s future salary obligations taken off their books , allowing them instant relief and wiping away in one fail swoop the approximately $43 million owed to the player , which would cover the two hundred and fourteen game suspension that the baseball hierarchy leveled as a verdict for Rodriguez’s alleged wrongdoing . With that financial burden taken off the books of the Yankees , it would allow them to pursue their likely target amongst the free agents sought , none other than Carlos Beltran of the St Louis Cardinals, whose postseason productivity has been consistent , as well as his regular season performances , during his career with the Cardinals. A number of front office executives around the league as well as a number of owners are simply dumbfounded that once again the New York Yankees are in a favorable situation , in spite of what appears to the misdeeds of a player known to be disingenuous and most certainly deceitful , given his actions of March of 2010 , when Rodriguez gave his less than contrite public apology for lying about his not having been a user of performance enhancing drugs (PED’S) . Less than two years after that apology, the player’s name was again linked to another establishment and producer of anabolic steroids and other prohibited substances banned under the league’s policy, but no investigation was called for by Bud Selig , even in light of federal prison sentence handed down to now disgraced Orlando , Florida medical doctor Anthony Galea . Which once again begs the question and strains the ongoing credibility and claims now constantly being made by Bud Selig that baseball has the most stringent testing procedures in all of professional team sports . My question for the commissioner , if the claims you are making has any veracity to it all , then where is the evidence and what about the investigative side of the league’s actions ?

The Biogenesis scandal was not uncovered by any work done by league investigators and the league hierarchy itself , who we now know to have purchased a great deal of the evidence said to be in its possession from Biogenesis for use as evidential proof against twelve of the thirteen players suspended this past season . Once again, the bumbling incompetency baseball’s hierarchy and the now less than credible and soon to be outgoing MLB Commissioner, have taken a monumental hit from an image and intelligence standpoint . As if we needed any further proof, that baseball is being ran by a bunch of supercilious buffoons, whose intelligence and credibility have repeatedly come into question over the past decade and a half, without anyone ever being held accountable for the stupidity that has been on display ! Pretty much sums up not only MLB at present , but also the NFL , if those with any discerning interest would care to look at the tenure of Roger Goodell.

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In light of the topics raised in this article , what if anything do you believe to be or find anything disturbing as to the veracity of the content ? Also , are you of the opinion that the NFL can deal with this unwanted story concerning Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins appropriately without their being further damage done to the image the league ? With the New York Yankees quite possibly being in an advantageous position should the suspension of Alex Rodriguez be upheld , with the ball-club not having to pay any luxury tax, are you of the opinion that this situation has become too advantageous for the organization ? By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe to be relevant the subject matter at hand.

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(1) Richie Incognito (68) and Jonathan Martin (71) of the Miami Dolphins . A furor over racially insensitive comments posted by Incognito has created a firestorm within the NFL , that has led for an in-depth investigation to be called for by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ,which will be headed by noted corporate litigator Ted Wells . Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland thought the matter serious enough to suspend Incognito indefinitely without pay , pending the team’s own in-house investigation . Meanwhile , NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has summoned both players to the union’s headquarters to discuss the alleged incident that took place between the two players . AP Photo / Ricardo Gutierrez ….

(2) Damien Woody , formerly a player with the New York Jets , now an ESPN NFL analyst went on record in suggesting that Dolphins’ defensive lineman Jonathan Martin was wrong in making his incident with Richie Incognito public and bringing to attention what apparently goes on inside of NFL team locker room . It is clear that Woody simply does not get it , if he feels that “racism ” and racial bigotry somehow belongs within the environment of the NFL, which he duly failed to acknowledge concerning the actions of Richie Incognito . The former Jets’ player has yet to respond to comments calling for an explanation as to what he meant in stating that Martin was wrong to address the media . However, when pressed on the issue of Richie Incognito’s now viral “tweet” and the player’s depiction of Jonathan Martin and his mother , Woody was non responsive . @ copyrighted material courtesy of ESPN …

(3) From left to right , NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith , center former union president Kevin Mawae and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are seen outside of the NFL headquarters in New York City , New York . The two lead executives are now caught up in a firestorm , which further casts the image of the NFL as an entity that appears to have a code of conduct wherein reprehensible behavior is tolerated and kept out of the media and public’s view. Both Goodell and Smith have failed miserably in dealing with repeated player misconduct and the fact that the league’s athletes now run afoul of the law with alarming regularity on annual basis . The incident now widely being reported in various media formats centers around the behavior of the Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito and his racially insensitive remarks about his teammate (Jonathan Martin) and that player’s mother , both of whom were depicted in racially derogatory terms . Getty Images North America / Paul Mason …..

(4) Native Americans protest before the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins game on November 7, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Many of those protestors were not only protesting the use of the word ” Redskins ” and that of its use by NFC East franchise the Washington Redskins , but also the incident now being widely reported in the national media that took place within the Miami Dolphins’ organization . Getty Images North America / Adam Bettcher …..

(5) Robert Griffin III (10) of the Washington Redskins, Adrian Peterson (28) of the Minnesota Vikings and Trent Williams (71) of the Washington Redskins pose for a photo on November 7, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images / Adam Bettcher ….

(6) Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) looks to gain some yards as he evades the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive lineman Jared Allen . Minnesota gain a well-deserved victory in erasing a double-digit deficit to beat the Redskins 34-27 . AP Photo / Ann Heisenfeldt …

(7) From left to right , Tampa bay Buccaneers’ general manager Mark Dominik , team wide receiver , Mike Williams and head coach Greg Schiano . The Buccaneers are off to a miserable start this season , win-less and bearing an 0-8 record , placing them firmly at the bottom of the NFC East division. The team will play host to instate rivals the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida , as they seek to earn their first victory of the season . There are now growing calls for the firing of Schiano as well as the removal of Mark Dominik in his current role with the organization . The Tampa Tribune / AP Photo / Keith Morris …..

(8) ) Indiana Pacers’ Paul George, right, talks with head coach Frank Vogel speaks during a news conference Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Indianapolis. George has been honored as the NBA’s Most Improved Player . This season the Pacers are off to an excellent start and presently the NBA’s only unbeaten team . They will put that five game start and unbeaten run to the test when they face the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in a match-up of these two East Conference teams . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(9) Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, left, is walked off the court by head coach Michael Malone after he was called for a technical foul during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. The Clippers won 110-101 . AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli …

(10) Alex Rodriguez ,right , is seen leaving a limousine alongside his lawyer Joseph Tacopina as he arrives at the MLB headquarters for a preliminary meeting with league investigators to answer questions concerning his suspected use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) . The player denied any wrongdoing or the accusations that he has once again begun to use any type of illicit substance prohibited by Major League Baseball . Not a far cry from Rodriguez’s original claims in both 2006 and 2008 , before finally admitting publicly in 2010 , that he had indeed used anabolic steroids supplied to him by a family relative , his cousin , Yuri Sucart . NY Daily News / Mark Hall ……………

(11) Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, left, checks on starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, center, during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Tuesday, July 2, 2013 in Denver. The Dodgers won 8-0 . Mattingly is likely to be rewarded with a lucrative contract extension , a five-year deal , with the option for a sixth , that is likely to make him one of the highest paid managers in Major League Baseball. Likewise , Clayton Kershaw , who is in an arbitration year with the franchise in 2014 , is seeking a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers , having met informally with team President Stan Kasten , GM Ned Colletti , along with his agent J D Smart to begin the initial talks, concerning a new deal that is likely to make the pitcher the highest paid player in the game in his current role . The Dodgers’ ace also highly favored to win NL Cy Young Award and is also seen an outside favorite to perhaps pull off the ” double ” of also taking home the NL MVP Award to adorn his own personal trophy cabinet , after a tremendous season in 2013 . AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez …

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tophatal …………………. 11/07/2013

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Jordan Carver and a montage below of Carver, again.

Nice , real nice !

No sleep ’til Brooklyn …………

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Week nine in the NFL offered few surprises , unless you just happen to be buying into the fact that Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles might now be the second coming of Joe Montana and Steve Young all rolled into one ? The fact of the matter is , when your opponent just happens to the Oakland Raiders , the opposition with all due candor , that is unlikely to prove to be a stern test . Let us just say at present , the Raiders’ season is already over , bar the shouting and Mark Davis , along with GM Reggie McKenzie are likely to bring about to an end , the tenure of Dennis Allen as the team’s head coach . The talent level on this Raiders’ team might just be at its lowest in several years , with the franchise likely to miss the postseason , as well as posting a sub .500 record or worse for the eleventh consecutive season . Consider, the fact also , that the Oakland Raiders’ last postseason appearance, came during the 2002 postseason . The franchise has now become historically woeful, with only the “Raider Nation ” faithful, standing by the team. As to what may well happen next, is now a matter of conjecture and speculation , as the Raiders prepare for their week ten opponent the New York Giants who they will face at the Met Life Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey , this upcoming Sunday .

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The Raiders’ rather lopsided 49-20 defeat suffered at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles , should come as no surprise for those who bore witness the spectacle via the national broadcast . However , what has to be treated with a great deal of skepticism has to be the performance of Foles , who matched an NFL record for the most touchdown passes during a regular season game , with seven scores against a poorly coached and hapless Raiders’ team and secondary . As good as the Eagles’ performance just happens to be, at the midway point of the season, this Chip Kelly coached team has a sub .500 record (4-5) within a division , the NFC East , that at present, might the worst in the entire NFL .

In a season , where the Houston Texans were seen as the presumptive favorites to win the AFC South , with an explosive offense led by Matt Schaub , Arian Foster and Andre Johnson . This season , the Texans have proven to be all too inconsistent with starting quarterback , Schaub having a year on that he would undoubtedly like to see in a rear view mirror. Currently sidelined with an ankle injury , it appears unlikely that he will return this season in his former role . Inconsistency has plagued the veteran starter , with the Texans’ fans showing their pleasure, in seeing Matt Schaub sidelined for the present. Beleaguered head coach Gary Kubiak can for the moment take pleasure that he might well have found the answer to his prayers with the emergence of Case Keenum , and his play during the Texans’ game against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. Unfortunately, for the home team , this contest ended in a defeat, that should have been a decisive victory against their divisional rivals . The heroics of the day once again belonged to the Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck who showed a great deal of composure in bringing his team back for this unexpected victory .

If you thought all of the drama simply took place on the field at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas on Sunday afternoon. Then seeing Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak fall to the ground from what appeared to be a fainting spell or quite possibly cardiac arrest . The coach was immediately taken to a hospital, having first been provided with immediate medical attention on the field and then in the locker room. It is likely, that Kubiak will be held at the medical facility, where he will undergo a battery of tests, before being released. No pubic statement has yet been made, as to the cause of the head coach’s condition , which is likely to kept private at the request of the family and the team , itself. Matt Schaub’s immediate and long-term future is now under a great deal more scrutiny than at any time during his nine-year career in the NFL , having been drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft . . Schaub who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2017 , signed a five-year $66.15 million deal in 2012 , of which $29.15 million was guaranteed money . His base salary for this season is $ 7,250,000 with a further $3.500,000 due in part as a bonus . Whether or not the franchise will seek to retain the veteran, is now likely to be open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation , but I do believe that a great deal of that will be prefaced upon the progress shown by Case Keenum. If GM Rick Smith believes that Keenum is the future of the Texans as they proceed forward , then in all likelihood , Schaub will be supplanted in the starting quarterback position by his younger teammate , with the franchise seeking a trade of the veteran signal caller

In week ten, the Texans are the guests of the Arizona Cardinals , for whom week nine, was a bye for the NFC West based franchise . Coming off a decisive week eight 27-13 victory over the fast slumping Atlanta Falcons , there is every reason to believe that this contest will prove to be a stern test for Houston, as they seek to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to the Colts .

The struggles of the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be an ongoing issue that now seems to have not only the Steelers’ fans worried but also a great many observers around the NFL . It has been considerably long time, since we have seen this franchise sink to such lows, where one now has to question the heart of this team as well as the play calling of offensive coordinator Todd Haley . From my own perspective, I do believe that the Steelers’ issues stem from some poor draft picks over the past three seasons , with the players in question having not shown the progress sought by head coach Mike Tomlin and the GM Kevin Colbert .

Sunday afternoon, the Steelers came to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro’ , Massachusetts , seeking to inflict a loss on the New England Patriots. Instead, the Patriots simply used all of the offensive weapons available to Tom Brady , who simply raised the level of his game to give one of his : best performances of the season as the Patriots annihilated the Pittsburgh Steelers in game that became beyond the Steelers’ reach in the final quarter as England rattled of twenty-eight points on their way to a thoroughly convincing 55-31 victory . Where this now leaves players such as , Ben Roethlisberger , Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu , Will Allen , Ryan Clark , Jerricho Cotchery .a , Lawrence Timmons and several other of these experienced players on the roster have shown no heart , as this team has now slumped to a 2-6 record within the AFC North . The fact, that the Steelers were lambasted in a lopsided hammering by the New England for the Steelers’ worst loss of the season , now leaves a number of fans wondering where the franchise now goes from here .

The Kansas City Chiefs remain the league’s lone unbeaten team and at 9-0 , with and two more wins, guarantees the Chiefs a playoff berth . A further loss by the Denver Broncos and the AFC West , the Kansas City Chiefs are likely to become the divisional champions for this season . The Chiefs have a potential game of the season awaiting them in week eleven , when they meet at the Sports Authority Field in Denver , Colorado, on Sunday, 17th October , in a conference and divisional contest . That game will certainly have a bearing on the seedings for the AFC at season’s end, but for now the fans should take heart in the very fact that division and conference does not remain a forgone conclusion

Still early days yet, in the NBA season and the defending champions have shown a few chinks in their undoubted armor . The Miami Heat are seeking to rewrite history, cast their own legacy in the annals of NBA history, as they seek to win a third consecutive NBA title . New additions to the roster , Michael Beasley , Roger Mason Jr and Greg Oden are seeking to contribute to this Erik Spoelstra coached team . At 2-2, the Heat sit jointly atop of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference , alongside the Orlando Magic , whose quick start out of the gate has not exactly caught everyone off-balance . From my own perspective this , Magic team will be in for a rough ride over the course of the season as they seek to rebound from a rather lackluster year in 2012 . One which saw the departure of Dwight Howard , whose last season with the team was mired in a great deal of controversy that in the end , led to the dismissal of Stan Van Gundy .

. Miami’s next scheduled game, will see them head north of the border to play the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario , . That match-up should prove to be very interesting contest , as the Raptors seek to gauge themselves against the best team in the Eastern Conference over the past two seasons .

Four-time league MVP LeBron James , also a two- time Finals’ MVP will seek to add to his own legacy , as he seeks to join the ranks of the greats of the game. At this juncture , if James adds another NBA title as well as league MVP to his already distinguished resume` , then I would have to rethink my view as to whether or not he has been the best player to grace the NBA over the past fifteen years . Granted, James’ idol Michael Jordan , will be considered the greatest player to have played the game , but quite possibly , at the point at which LeBron James chooses to retire from the NBA , he may well have surpassed many of Jordan’s greatest personal achievements as a player in the NBA. James has yet to reach his maturation point as a player and over the past four season , we have seen the growth of his all-round game . In terms of a rival to match James’ play and skill-set , the analysts agree that the rivalry may well come from the Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant , a three-time league scoring champion and again a three-time runner-up in the League MVP voting .

Scott Brooks head coach of the Thunder must be greatly enthused by the fact that Kevin Durant has returned to the league this season with the mindset that the team has unfinished business . The postseason of 2012 something of nightmare for the team as they were swept aside in the NBA Finals by LeBron James and the Miami Heat , where the match-up between Durant and the Heat superstar failed to live up to the perceived hype , as the Thunder were brushed over in a lopsided 4-1 series’ victory . Last year’s postseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of more heartache with the loss of the team’s point guard Russell Westbrook , as he suffered an injury in the team’s first round series against the Houston Rockets . Westbrook was injured in a collision with the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley , which would require orthopedic surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. The point guard’s loss would prove to be impactful for the Thunder, as Russell Westbrook and the team would be unceremoniously dumped in the first round, with a 4-2 series’ loss. All season long, the point guard would prove to be one the most productive players on the roster, alongside teammate Kevin Durant.

A new season beckons, it will be interesting to see what type of mindset will be shown by Russell Westbrook when he makes his first appearance for the Thunder . His return would suggest that the player has not missed a step after the team’s 103-96 defeat of the Phoenix Suns , during which he scored twenty-one points , dished out seven assists , with four rebounds and a steal . Yet there were signs of rustiness displayed with some momentary lapses that led to four turnovers and 1 personal foul. As he begins to find his rhythm, we are likely to see Westbrook regain the form that has made him one of the most explosive point guards in the NBA over the past four seasons . I strongly believe that the Oklahoma City Thunder will be one of at least four teams in the Western Conference seeking to be dominant within the conference this season, as well as within their respective divisions . The other teams I see playing a part within this whole year-long scenario, are the Los Angeles Clippers , Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs . In the Clippers’ case , that is solely based on the mindset brought in by Doc Rivers and whether or not , he can get this team to actually play a modicum of defense . We are aware as to what they are capable of from an offensive mindset , as we all bore witness to that last season .

The Clippers now seeing a resurgence in not only their play but also fan-base , and now of the belief that they’re on an equal footing with their in-house residents at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Lakers . This season, will be a test for both franchises , as they each seek to carve out a niche for themselves within the NBA landscape. As I alluded to earlier, while the Clippers are a robustly talented team on offense , their issues remain on the defensive side of the ball. With the mindset of Chris Paul , now a determining factor, things are likely to change after the point guard’s first season with the team in 2012 . Alongside , Blake Griffin , DeAndre Jordan , Darren Collison , J J Redick , Antawn Jamison , Ryan Hollins the rest of this cast , we will be able to gauge whether or not there is any justification for there to be a presumption that they are legitimate contenders for the NBA title this season . Evidence of that may well have been on hand last night, as they completely manhandled the Houston Rockets on their way to a 137-118 victory for the highest scoring game in the infancy of this NBA season . Houston with the off-season acquisition of Dwight Howard , were also being looked upon as a championship caliber team . To my mind , beyond James Harden , there is little to suggest that the addition of Howard will factor into the Rockets chances of lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of this postseason . Dwight Howard has yet to prove himself when it matters the most , and that is during the postseason and he certainly cannot be considered a player readily and willing to assume the mantle of leadership , should James Harden be otherwise indisposed due to a prolonged injury .

During last season within the NBA schedule , one of the more idiotic comments I read concerning the NBA, was that of a patron, who suggested that New York sports’ fans tend not to expect a great deal from or off their teams , even when the rosters assembled are considered to be that of a championship caliber team . Personally, I felt the statement, was lacking in intelligence and obviously from an individual, who simply does not spend a great deal of time informing themselves of what is routinely happening in the nation’s largest sports environment, where all four of the major professional team sports are well represented alongside having perhaps having some of the most gregarious and often most acerbic and volatile sports’ journalists in the country . With, both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks , having made the postseason in 2012, as the fourth and second seeds respectively, in the Eastern Conference standings . A great deal was expected of both teams, as each sought to make a respectable showing in the league’s showcase event of the postseason .

The New York Knicks led by Carmelo Anthony and an assortment of ill-fitting parts , made light work of the Boston Celtics in the first round of a highly competitive and volatile series . Meanwhile , the Nets, with their wildly exorbitant payroll of underachieving players , suffered the ignominy of bowing out in their opening round series to the Chicago Bulls , who were at the time without their best player , Derrick Rose . As to what that might suggest about a team , whose owner Mikhail Prokhorov , who remains of the mindset , that the best way to solve a problem is to simply to throw money at the issue and then let things fall where they may. Somewhat like this present White House administration , and that of the US Congress , and their omnipresent ideas , as how best to deal with an ongoing and still ailing economy. Print money, borrow money , spend money , on just about any damn idiotic idea that you think might fly or curry favor , not with the constituents , but their financial backers , by way of the funneling of monies by lobbyists and the special interest groups they represent .

Prokhorov as the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, has simply sought to play second fiddle to no one , not even to their in conference rivals the New York Knicks. The fact that these two teams have now created an intense rivalry , with both sets of fans now foaming at the mouth , while showing not quite utter disdain for their foe . I am not so sure , what this will amount to , even with the addition of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to a Nets’ roster whose team payroll of just over $70 million in 2012 , will balloon to over $102.6 million for this upcoming season and creating a liability for the Nets franchise where they will be paying in excess of forty-three million dollars for exceeding the league’s soft salary cap ($58.648 million) .

While, I believe that both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks to be very good teams , I simply do not believe, that either, are the equal of the Miami Heat, in terms of being able to mount a serious enough challenge to dethrone the defending NBA champions .

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Picture gallery . (By clicking on an individual frame , you can see that picture in its original formatted size)

With the NFL now its midway point , what are you hoping to see in the second half of the season by way of the play from the teams in the NFL ? Also with the NBA still in its infancy this season , have there been any teams , team , player or players that you believe will have a successful year within the league itself ? Leave a comment, as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it has always been greatly appreciated first and foremost !

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Nick Foles (9)/ is seen here attempting a pass during the game played between the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders played at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland , California on the 3rd November , 2013 . The Eagles would go on to defeat Oakland 49-20 , with Foles equaling an NFL single game record in passing for seven touchdowns during the contest. Getty Images / Brian Bahr …

(2) Tight end Zach Ertz (86 ) of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Nick Foles (9) against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter on November 3, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. Getty Images North America/ Brian Bahr …

(3) Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is loaded on a stretcher after he collapsed on the field as the team left for halftime against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images / Bob Levey …

(4) Case Keenum (7) of the Houston Texans breaks the tackle of Ricky Jean Francois (99) of the Indianapolis Colts as he rushes in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images / Bob Levey …

(5) Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin and team GM Kevin Colbert are seen here at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania . The franchise this season within the AFC North is having a horrendous year , bearing a 2-6 record which has them firmly placed at the foot of the division . The Steelers’ draft picks over the past four seasons has proven to be unfruitful , with several of the players failing to live up to the perceived hype . AP Photo / Carl Rogers …

(6) Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat is seen here in his official team photo for the franchise . Beasley is seeking to resurrect his often troubled NBA career in his second stop with NBA franchise . Beasley , along with Greg Oden and Roger Mason Jr are the newest members of the team , which has seen the retirement of Juwan Howard , who has since become a member of the coaching staff . AP Photo / Hector Hernandez ….

(7) From left to right , Brooklyn Nets’ GM Billy King , team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov , head coach Jason Kidd , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry . This season the Nets will have one of the league’s highest team payrolls which will exceed $102.6 million , with guard Joe Johnson being the highest paid player on the roster this season . It remains to be seen whether not franchise can be seen as a legitimate title threat to the Miami Heat as well as the rest of the NBA this season . The addition of the three former Boston Celtics’ players should add some vitality to the franchise . AP Photo / Gerry Thomas ….

(8) Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks is seen here with teammates , J R Smith , center and Iman Shumpert . Anthony during the preseason stated that he was prepared opt put of the final year of his contract to test the free agency market in 2014 . Yet , is highly unlikely , that Carmelo Anthony will seek to go elsewhere, knowing that can get a max six-year contract that cumulatively earning $129 million six years averaging , $21.5 million per year while remaining with the New York Knicks. . AP Photo / Paul Hamilton …….

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tophatal ………………… 11/04/2013

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