Rarefied air and toxicity
The sports’ world is all aghast and with good reason , we have seen the New England Patriots reign supreme unmasking the Atlanta Falcons as being something of a fraud, even if the Superbowl itself was an exciting game . What cannot be denied as evidenced with the coverage of this game, was the very fact the Falcons fell apart during the finals eight minutes of regulation play before the contest went into overtime, with New England prevailing for their fifth win of the Lombardi Trophy.
Slide show .
The victory placed Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick and the team’s quarterback Tom Brady in rarefied air , as the only head coach and quarterback in NFL history with five Superbowl rings to their names. The NFL remains a year-round league in terms of the ongoing news’ stories to be found and it will be that way throughout much of the off-season as the league now has its free agency period, as well as the upcoming NFL Draft . The New England Patriots will have the privilege of taking the last pick in the first round of the Draft, which is befitting the best team in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this all Bill Belichick and his coaching staff seek to bolster the current roster with a fresh crop of players to add to the Patriots’ arsenal. Break-out players for New England during the regular season were James White whose heroics in the Superbowl was there for everyone to see. As were the talents of White’s teammates ,who ably abetted Tom Brady as the quarterback would go on to win his fourth Superbowl MVP Award.
This off-season should prove to be interesting for the New England Patriots as well as the other teams around the NFL as they seek to bolster their respective rosters through, free agency , trades and the NFL Draft. It could all prove to be very fruitful for the Patriots based on their past experiences , especially over the last five seasons .
Kyle Shanahan has now become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers , succeeding Chip Kelly , whose firing along with that of GM Trent Baalke did not come as a great surprise to many. However, it was Baalke’s successor which might well have taken everyone off-guard, as team CEO Jed York made the formal announcement that Jon Lynch , former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ player would be hired for the position. Lynch has no NFL front office experience and with Shanahan now assembling his own staff, it will be extremely difficult to see how this franchise can be seen as being in a position to be competitive this upcoming season. This past season was one of sheer incompetence on the part of the coaching staff as well as the players , as the Forty Niners labored both on and off the field of play. Their record was reflective of that very fact with their being no signs of competitiveness at any point during the season. Colin Kaepernick was a mere shell of the player who guided the team to a Superbowl appearance less than five years ago. Kaepernick’s teammate Blaine Gabbert , whom Chip Kelly threw his weight behind as being the team’s starting quarterback at the start of 2016, was equally incompetent in the role. There is no doubt San Francisco will be looking to draft a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft or they will be seeking a free agent passer of proven ability .
Carson Palmer will be returning to the Arizona Cardinals for the 2017 regular season and during his five years with the franchise, Palmer’s leadership has come into question. Under Bruce Arians the Cardinals have become more resolute, but postseason success for this franchise has been lacking. One could seek to blame the veteran quarterback for this or place the blame elsewhere by placing it squarely on the shoulders of the front office , where GM Steve Keim leads the staff. Keim was a replacement to for Rod Graves , but whose tenure as the general manager for the Cardinals, saw highs and lows.
Having failed to make the postseason in 2016, the Arizona Cardinals will have to assess the roster and look at where the improvements will have to be made as to the makeup of this team. If there are deficiencies on the Cardinals then clearly, it starts with the secondary and the fact the defense showed how vulnerable it just happened to be. Larry Fitzgerald the veteran wide receiver on the playing staff, still seeks that elusive Superbowl ring and title as a player. Considered to be one of the best receivers in NFL history , it is hard to believe that during his career , Fitzgerald has never been able to play on the NFL’s biggest stage with an appearance in the “big game ” itself. It was rumored Larry Fitzgerald was considering retirement and were that to take place , then it would leave a considerable gap in the Cardinals’ lineup for next season. It is hard to envisage how the Arizona Cardinals would look without their veteran receiver on the roster, but with the league now being about the here and now , the window of opportunity for this team is now closing fast.
The Atlanta Falcons’ destruction of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game was as embarrassing for the team as it was for not only the NFL, but also for the fans watching. In spite of what Aaron Rodgers might now feel concerning the Packers, this team simply wasn’t prepared for the game. A great deal of the blame must lay squarely on the shoulders of Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff . Green Bay’s front office have already begun to take swift steps to shed players from the current roster , with the first casualties being veterans Sam Shields and James Stark . Yet , I do believe the pairing will not be the only ones to be let go during what is likely to be a turbulent off-season for the Packers !
Aaron Rodgers was among the NFL’s best quarterbacks during the regular season , but his performance and that of his teammates against the Atlanta Falcons left a great deal to be desired as the Green Bay Packers fell to the Falcons , losing by the score of 44-21 .
The fallout from the head coaching dismissals in the NFL was not much of a surprise , but I do believe many of the firings were warranted , as several of the head coaches in question, simply obfuscated their responsibilities , created a toxic atmosphere within their regimes, while also failing to acknowledge their own shortcomings.
Rex Ryan having been dismissed by the Buffalo Bills has continued to behave like a spoiled child whose pacifier was taken away from him , along with his rattle and assorted toys. The fact that he led the Bills into a deeper morass as the season progressed , simply showed that he was completely out of his depth and never capable of leading the players to any type of success envisaged by team owner Terry Pegula or the organization . Buffalo’s downward slide is likely to continue, as the team’s depth is sorely lacking at just about every position imaginable . Many of the players on the Buffalo Bills’ roster are likely to be gone during this off-season , as they seek to pare down their cap , creating enough cap space for some acquisitions beyond their likely draft choices.
Having seen a triumphant New England Patriots’ team win their fifth Superbowl , the fans of the Buffalo Bills can only admire their AFC East rivals from afar wondering what might have been.
Through unconfirmed sources, it is rumored Jeffrey Loria , erstwhile owner of the Miami Marlins reached an agreement to sell the South Florida based MLB franchise for $1.6 billion in what would prove to be the second largest sale of a ball-club in baseball history. Only the $2.156 billion paid by the consortium headed by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Earvin Magic Johnson , for the auction ( sale of then bankrupt) of the Los Angeles Dodgers , has there ever been a large sale or purchase of a professional baseball team. The purchasing consortium for the Marlins is made up several businessmen , but one name which comes up as part of the buying group is that of John Kushner , brother to Presidential adviser Jared Kushner , who just happens to be the son-in-law of Donald Trump . Now one can speculate as to whether or not there might well have some sort of White House influence concerning this impending sale remains to be seen, but given the ongoing incompetence shown the current Presidential administration and the idiocy of Trump’s own special adviser Kellyann Conway , it would be reasonable to assume , nothing as of now, would appear to be off-limits.
It should be noted there was no transparency seen when former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was seen consorting with several members of the Miami Dade County Government and the Miami City Council in the lead-up to both government entities taking a vote on whether or not Marlins Ballpark would be a publicly funded expenditure , when the stadium was built at the cost of over $600 million ,through a mixture of taxes , bond issues , which could end up costing both the city and county as much $3 billion , because of the structured financing of the project.
Only now have the chickens come home to roost , while Jeffrey Loria will walk away with a cool $1 billion in his pocket . There hasn’t been this sort of financial malevolence since Frank McCourt , former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers , who filed for bankruptcy protection of the ball-club in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from his wife. McCourt was said to have used the ball-club and several of its assets as part of several private business deals , all of which contravened the bye-laws of Major League Baseball , but not once did Bud Selig or any member of the league hierarchy seek to formally press charges or seek Frank McCourt’s removal as a franchise owner within baseball while this was all going on . It should be noted Selig and then MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner claimed that the Dodgers were a well-ran organization, with its finances meeting the league’s own stringent financial threshold . Clearly , without an audit having been conducted by MLB , this was all a big fat lie.
Jeffrey Loria presided over one of the two World Series’ triumphs by the Miami Marlins , but it has been several years since their last appearance in the MLB Postseason and during that time , little success has been evident for the organization. Managers have come and gone, as too have several famous players . Yet , some how in the midst of this all, Loria , David Samson and GM Michael Hill have pulled the wool over the eyes of the fans. Since the opening of the Marlins Ballpark and its inaugural game , the venue has never been filled to capacity for a home game. Subject to the MLB approval and the ratification by the owners , this proposed sale could be passed unanimously be the next meeting of the league hierarchy and team owners or with an emergency being called. This latest scenario could provide the MLBPA (Players’ Union) with all the ammunition they need to seek a major increase with regard to baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) . Something I firmly believe the owners as well as the league hierarchy will want to negotiate from a position of power, rather than staring down the barrel of a sawn off shot-gun with the union firing their volley of shots across the bow of Major League Baseball.
For years as a team owner Jeffrey Loria plead poverty , but yet he in conjunction with Bud Selig, coerced local politicians to finance a deal so outlandish, it places both the city of Miami and Miami Dade County with a fiscal crisis , which many would determine was actually of their own making. Concessions will have to be sought from the new owners of the Miami Marlins that the team will not be relocated and that all agreements now in place will be adhered to. As to the competitiveness of the team in its present form , a great deal of this will be based on the managerial acumen shown by Don Mattingly and his managerial staff .
The death of Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez shook this Marlins’ organization to its very roots, along with the fan-base of the ball-club. It will be hard to replace a player of Fernandez’s stature and popularity. His teammate , Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be the vocal leader of this team alongside seasoned veteran Ichiro Suzuki . While I believe the Miami Marlins to be a good team on paper , I do not expect them to be a legitimate contender within the NL East , much less a favorite for the NLCS Pennant or the World Series itself. There remains far too many flaws in this lineup and I believe Don Mattingly hasn’t proven himself to be a manager capable of winning the big games that really matter !
The Miami Marlins will begin their Spring Training Schedule with a game against the Houston Astros on March 1st at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas , before embarking on their regular season schedule, where their Opening Day Game of the regular season will be against the Washington Nationals on the 3rd April , 2017.
There has to be something real troubling when a former player of an NBA franchise creates more excitement on a basketball court than the home team itself. This was the case when Charles Oakley was arrested and escorted away from his seat at a recent New York Knicks’ game in Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York . The Knicks were playing the Los Angeles Clippers in a home game against their Western Conference opponents . Oakley got into a verbal altercation with court-side staff and the former NBA star directly a profanity laced tirade against the employees. Knicks’ team owner James Dolan has since issued a statement , advising and informing Charles Oakley he is no longer welcomed to attend games at Madison Square Garden , with or without an apology from the former player.
Clearly, Charles Oakley’s behavior was unwarranted, but the banishment I believe was certainly an over reaction from the owner ! The employees were not physically assaulted by Charles Oakley and in the heat of the moment , his anger got the better of him as the situation got out of hand. Oakley’s reputation is well-known around the NBA and it has been chronicled thousands of times , as his play was a reflection of his image and persona , a bad boy, perhaps one of the toughest players in the league among his contemporaries. Just a pity that sort of grit and determination is not shown by the current crop of Knicks’ players. Their loss to the Clippers has been reflective of what is lacking in the team over the course of this season.
Next up for the New York Knicks will be a contest against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon and with New York having lost on Friday night in a game against the Denver Nuggets , I have to now ask myself are the Knicks one of the most incompetent teams in Eastern Conference other than Brooklyn Nets when it comes to facing opponents from the opposing conference ? I will continue to say this about Phil Jackson , he may well know how to win championships and to inspire championship caliber players , but when it comes to assembling a competitive roster , he simply knows nothing at all . It has been his ego all along , which has proven to be fallible and the entire reason why the New York Knicks will continue to be a rather mediocre team ! Jackson brings along his own toxic mess and utter stupidity , while his admirers look on from afar, lapping it all up as if it were perfection .
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What have been your most recent observations taking place within , the NFL , MLB and the NBA which have given you the cause for greatest concern ?
The 2016 NFL postseason