Rio or Bust and Beyond ….

Rio or Bust and Beyond

The Olympics are now underway and Rio de Janeiro now becomes the sporting center of the universe. Controversy remains , with IOC Executive Committee made the decision not to ban the entire Russian delegation at these games. The first medal of the tournament was won a by US athlete, when Ginny Thrasher took the gold medal in the Women’s 10 meter Air Rifle event and with it comes the $55,000 paid out to each winner of an individual event by the US Olympic Committee . Michael Phelps remains the most honored athlete in Olympic history having won a total of twenty-five medals in all competitive events, swam at the Summer Olympics. Competing in his fifth Summer Games , Phelps will be looking to add to his tally and further immortalize himself as the most successful US athlete in Olympic history. As to whether or not he is the greatest Olympian of all-time, can be best judged, as to how one determines greatness. Is it adjudged by the level of competition faced, being able to overcome all adversity placed in your way , or can it be judged by the overall pressure to succeed.

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I certainly believe Michael Phelps is a great athlete, but I do not believe he is the greatest athlete or competitor in Olympic history. Phelps’ fellow teammate, Katie Ledecky will also be seeking to place her name in the annals of USA Olympic history, as he chases down even more records. Ledecky remains by far the most dominant female swimmer in US history and certainly the best of the current crop of athletes competing at the Rio Games in the Women’s events. She has been dominant form at the start of the swimming events and there is the likelihood , she will leave Rio as the most decorated female athlete at these games.

Gabby Douglas left the 2012 London Olympics , making history as the first African-American female athlete to have won the female All -round Competition, bringing home Olympic gold. Team USA dominated in winning the team competition, but it will be the individual events , which will now garner the most attention, as Douglas , along with teammate , current three-time world champion Simone Biles will be expected to contend for the individual all-round event as well as several as the other individual events. Biles is heavily favored in several of the individual events, as well as the all-round competition , given her status as the reigning world champion. It will be interesting to see if the duo can provide the level of competition and thrills expected, when they compete as individuals ,rather than as teammates..

My three favorite Olympic sports remain , Boxing , Taekwondo and Track & Field . It will be on the main track at the Olympic Stadium where we are going to see whether or not, track star , Usain Bolt can continue his dominance in the sprint events of the Men’s 100 and 200 meters, as well as the 4 by 100 meters Men’s Sprint Relay. The Jamaican star has completed the Olympic triple of having won the events at 2008 Beijing Olympics , repeated the feat in London , in 2012 and will be seeking to make history in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil .

From my own perspective , this quadrennial event has now lost its integrity , soul and is no longer about the spirit of true competition ! The Summer and Winter Olympics have now become about excess , greed and a great deal of corruption at the highest levels of the Executive Committee (hierarchy) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) . Like so many other sporting institutions around the globe be it at the national or international level, once the hooks of corruption are locked in , absolutely nothing good can ever come from within . The IOC remains corrupt and duplicitous on so many levels , that not one of the the Presidents of what was once a venerable institution can be viewed as unscathed. Current IOC President Thomas Bach has already placed himself in the line of fire , with the decision to have Russia compete in Rio , when there were calls for there to be a complete ban of the delegation. Russian athletes have been involved in some of the biggest doping scandals to have hit the Olympic movement of the past four decades. A partial ban of several athletes from Russia has not sat well with many of the member nations of the IOC. At the end of the day , the Olympic Games must go on and the success of the Rio Olympics will be based on the level of integrity , sportsmanship , spirit of competition shown , without there being any signs of major controversy.

With what was meant to be the official Kick-Off to the start of the NFL Preseason ended up being another fiasco , which the NFL hierarchy and the Pro Football Hall of Fame showed a great deal of incompetence. With eight new inductees being enshrined in Canton, Ohio, the preseason opening game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts had to be postponed . Official reason for the game failing to be played , came from there being far too much paint on the field at Tom Benson Stadium in Ohio , along with the excuse , that the playing surface was unfit to host the contest. A spokesperson for the organizers of the game , did stipulate a full refund will be given to all of the fans in attendance of the postponed event. As to what this suggests about the league (NFL) can be best summed up in two words , utter incompetence .

Brett Favre and Tony Dungy are two of the most celebrated and revered individuals to be associated with the NFL over the past four decades and the level of respect shown to both at their induction , was very much a show of appreciation and gratitude for their contributions to the game of football. The achievements of both Favre and Dungy have been well-chronicled and there isn’t really a great deal more which needs to be said about their respective accomplishments .

Robert Griffin III will get the chance to begin a new chapter in his NFL career , one which has created a deal of disillusionment for some , while there continues to be a belief , the best is yet to come from the player. The Cleveland Browns are the beneficiary’s of Griffin’s talent and with it comes not only the baggage , a but a great deal of expectation from the fans of the Browns. Over the past ten years there has been very little to write home about concerning this franchise. Browns’ manager Hu Jackson has been envisioned with bring the best out of this team as they head in to their preseason and regular season schedule . The players will begin that journey when they open up their exhibition season against the Green Bay Packers on Friday, 12th August , 2016 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay , Wisconsin. I don’t believe there is likely to be a quarterback competition for the starting role on the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were threadbare in that particular role last season and it led to one of the many reasons why the team was so ineffective in 2015. If the Cleveland Browns are to have any chance being a competitive franchise this upcoming season then every facet of their game will have to be improved.

As I alluded to earlier, no quarterback competition is on the horizon , but I do believe Hu Jackson and the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff will use every opportunity available to assess the talent of Josh McCown and whether or not he can be relied upon as a backup to Robert Griffin III. McCown and Griffin are likely to get a great deal of playing time during the preseason , before the regular season beckons. The first game on the Cleveland Browns’ schedule for the regular season , will pit them against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania on the 11th September , 2016 .

Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals have to prove themselves worthy of being considered legitimate contenders within the AFC this upcoming season . Since his introduction as the Bengals’ starting quarterback Dalton has proved himself to be very good player in the regular season, but he continues to falter during the postseason . I certainly believe Andy Dalton is capable of leading a team to a long playoff run if he’s surrounded by the talent good enough to make this a reality. This is where I believe Marvin Lewis , his coaching staff and the Browns’ front office must come in and make the pertinent decisions to make such an event a real possibility.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ draft class is considered to be one of their best in recent years and the rookies are ready to make themselves known to the ever raucous fans of the franchise. Cleveland’s coaching staff are preparing the players for their preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings in their home exhibition season opener. Andy Dalton and his Bengals’ teammates will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the New York Jets at Met-Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on the 11th September, 2016 .

While I am hoping to see an entertaining preseason in the NFL , I know for all sense and purpose there is not a great which can be be placed on the games played , but I do feel for a number of teams , the exhibition schedule could go a long way in telling us about their determination to get better . For the New England Patriots and the decision to sit Tom Brady for the first game of their preseason schedule , a great deal will be expected of Jimmy Garopollo over the course of their schedule and heading into the regular season. Brady will miss the first four games of the Patriots’ regular season start, having given up his task of seeking reinstatement , providing his backup, Garopollo with the chance to prove himself as a capable starter as Tom Brady’s understudy and perhaps the heir-apparent to the two-time League MVP .

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots’ coaching staff will be expecting a great deal from the team this season and a chance to make up for last season’s rather pedantic display in the postseason. New England’s loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game which provided the chance Brady to cross swords with long-time adversary Peyton Manning , was something of a disconcerting defeat . With Manning now retired and assured of being a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 2021 . The question now being asked , how many more years can Tom Brady play and can he still maintain the high level of success achieved throughout much of his career ?

No more ‘Mr Nice Guy ‘ . This now has to be the mindset of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers , albeit over the last two seasons the Panthers have proven themselves to be the best team in the NFC . Head coach Ron River a must know this team does have another window of opportunity to get the job done , winning the franchise’s first Superbowl . Last season’s meltdown against the Denver Broncos , showed the inexperience of the players on the Big Stage. I believe it will be a lesson well-learned for those returning to the fold. The departure of Josh Norman came as something of a shock , with the corner-back having signed with the Washington Redskins for a substantial deal . Rivera will likely look to several players on the depth chart to step up to the plate , seeking to replace one of the Panthers’ most dominant players on their secondary last season. There was a very good reason why the Carolina Panthers proved to be a very good defensive team during the regular season.

Cam Newton was the consensus winner of the League MVP in 2015 and will look to repeat the form seen last season , entering what will be his sixth season in the NFL , having been the number one overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft . Newton was among a group of college quarterbacks taken in the Draft of that year, thought to be prototypical passers. As a player the Panthers’ quarterback poses as a duel threat, as a passer and a rusher. I firmly believe given the singular success achieved by Cam Newton he is now on the verge taking it to the next level and be considered an elite quarterback in the NFL ! With departure of Peyton Manning there remain possibly, just a handful of players in the league who could be considered of that status . Namely among those are Aaron Rodgers , Tom Brady , Drew Brees , Andrew Luck , Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers . With all due respect to Tony Romo , until he has proven himself capable of leading the Dallas Cowboys on a prolonged run during the postseason , all he will be remembered for is consistency seen during the regular season , a propensity to get injured, the mediocrity of his form and constant excuses for his and the team’s poor play during the NFL postseason.

This season’s schedule could prove to be a tough one for the Carolina Panthers , where their toughest divisional competitor is likely to be the New Orleans Saints within the NFC South. It is my belief the Atlanta Falcons are now on a steady decline , while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain a work in progress and where the jury still out on their quarterback Jameis Winston . Weeks’ six and eleven will provide the Panthers’ fans with the chance to see how Cam Newton will fare against his opposite number Drew Brees in those two divisional contests during the regular season. The Panthers will be a strong candidate among the presumed NFC contenders for the Superbowl and I believe they have to be seen as the prohibitive favorite within the conference as a postseason contender for the conference title and to raise the Lombardi Trophy as the next Superbowl champions .

 

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What have your impressions been of the Olympics, the coverage provide by NBC Sports and their affiliate stations. Which athletes do you believe will prove to be the most impressive of these games ? With the start of the NFL preseason due to begin on Thursday evening with several games scheduled , what are you hoping to see from the teams this early in the NFL exhibition schedule and then leading off into the start of the regular season ?

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Tophatal …..

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