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 ?

😉

Tophatal …..

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Puppet On A String …..

Puppet On A String

It’s a year-long three hundred and sixty-five day multi-billion dollar business , but for all the vagaries , the NFL remains a league entity still bereft of leadership, albeit , NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is still being praises for his leadership since assuming his role from the previous occupant Paul Tagliabue . If nothing else, Goodell has proven himself to be an imbecile at every turn , with his ham-fisted decisions and lack of communicative skills. Not content with the league’s mishandling of several legal issues as well the Deflate-Gate Affair , Roger Goodell is now intent in seeking recourse after an earlier Federal Judge’s ruling in Tom Brady’s favor. Using what appears to be a backdoor means in having the earlier decision overturned, the Commissioner is now seeking to use his authority as laid out in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement to suggest his authority is absolute, in rendering any punishment deemed proper when a player is known to have violated the NFL rules through misconduct or his on-field behavior.

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Roger Goodell continues to cherry-pick the skirmishes he seeks to wage, while the league continues to lose the most important battles of all. Football will continue to remain popular among its hardcore fans , but I seriously doubt they have a great deal of confidence in the hierarchy led by Goodell! The NFLPA (Players’ Union) under the leadership of DeMaurice Smith , continues to be adversarial , rather than seeking a bilateral partnership with the league to discuss the numerous problems of the league. What appears to be the primary concern of the league and union , is how much money they can continue to make , while the product being served up to the consumer remains as bland as ever. Now there are many who will suggest this past season in the NFL was among the best in recent years and the fairy-tale ending which provided the right send off to the ending of Peyton Manning’s career was the right one. Manning and the Denver Broncos won the Superbowl over the highly favored Carolina Panthers , but only one team turned up to play in the game. The Panthers offered nothing by way of offense or defense, in a game which was error filled. Manning had one of his most undistinguished games of his postseason career , but it was enough for the Broncos to come out ahead as the victors. With it came the adulation , Vonn Miller being named Superbowl MVP for his heroics , while Peyton Manning stepped down in style.

With the off-season in full swing and the NFL Combines having taken place , teams will be seeking reassess their needs while also look at their cap positions and then seeking to restructure their rosters accordingly. Already we have seen a number of unexpected moves , with several players being cut by their teams and a number of trades being made. Brock Osweiler , the backup to Peyton Manning last season with the Broncos has now moved on as a free agent joining the Houston Texans where he will now become the new starting quarterback for the franchise. With his acquisition comes a lucrative contract for Osweiler , while he is expected to live up the expectations of the head office and the Texans’ coaching staff .

Replacing Peyton Manning was never going to be easy, but Denver Broncos’ Head of Football Operations ‘ John Elway believes Mark Sanchez is the right player to fill the role. While I believe Sanchez to be a good player, I am not so sure he is capable of keeping the Broncos ahead of the pack within the AFC ! The Broncos remain a very good team on paper and undoubtedly Elway will be seeking to bolster the roster during the off-season by way of trades, the re-signing of free agents and then off-course, there is the upcoming NFL Draft where the Broncos where the Broncos have their customary number of picks. ‘

In what might be considered either an audacious move or one sheer stupidity , the Los Angeles Rams (St Louis Rams) have traded up to take the number one over all pick for this upcoming Draft. Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher along with GM Les Snead made the decision to offer up picks from the 2016 NFL Draft as well as future picks for 2017. Fisher is the eyeing the team’s urgency in seeking a top-flight quarterback among the eligible quarterbacks in this class. Les Snead has already met with Jared Goff , quarterback of the Cal State Bears as well as Carson Wentz of North Dakota State . Both players are thought to be the two best quarterbacks among this current crop passers available. And as audacious as this perceived move might be for the Rams , it is not really all that surprising the entire organization is seeking to make as big a splash possible after relocating back to the greater Los Angeles area , with their almost two decade absence from the state of California.

Will Trading Up Be Rams’ Downfall?

By Jason Keidel

When the Los Angeles Rams — the back-to-the-future franchise — shoved their draft coin to the middle of the table to get the top pick from the Tennessee Titans, most football fans wondered if this is 2016 or 1994, the last year the Rams were in Los Angeles.

So many similar trades have bombed. Further, the Rams are banking on a big variable — a rookie quarterback. And we can’t even agree on which one they will take in 10 days. All we know is either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz will lead the Rams back to Hollywood, and into the future.

Jerry Jones, the loquacious owner of the Dallas Cowboys, chimed in on the matter, sardonically saying he didn’t know Herschel Walker was still around. The reference, of course, is to the trade between the Vikings and Jones’s fledgling Cowboys, who were getting smacked around the NFL, with Troy Aikman and little else.

The Vikings surrendered a king’s ransom in 1989 for Walker, a good player who didn’t make the Vikings great. Meanwhile, the Cowboys used those draft picks, along with Jimmy Johnson’s keen eye for college talent, to build a dynasty.

History is on the side of the team that stockpiles draft picks, or at least against the team that gives them away. The Vikings never reached the Super Bowl with Walker. The Saints hemorrhaged an entire draft 10 years later for Ricky Williams, who wound up in Miami. The Redskins bet the farm 13 years later for Robert Griffin III, who’s now in Cleveland.

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The Los Angeles Rams’ reemergence in Los Angeles might well be deemed to be a positive thing for the city , the fans of the franchise as well as the NFL in general, but the real test for the NFC West based Rams might well be how successful they are in the upcoming season . There was no denying the team fell way short of expectations last season as they were barely competitive within their division , conference and the league. Nick Foles was the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams in 2015 and the team failed miserably on all fronts , with the Rams posting 7-9 record , good enough for third within their division , missing the postseason and barely being competitive to be seen as a contender within the NFL. St Louis Rams’ owner Stanley Kroenke will make a great deal of money from the franchise’s move from St Louis , Missouri to Los Angeles , California . The land on which the Rams stadium is to be built is owned by the real estate mogul and the venture which will see a mix of commercial enterprises as well as some residential properties , will bring about a large economic impact for the area. Kroenke has worked with Los Angeles County and the cities of Industry as well as Los Angeles , to make sure the venture met with the requirements sought by both municipalities, while in the background the league hierarchy was pulling all the strings to make sure Roger Goodell’s dream came to fruition.

Moves are likely to be made by the St Louis Rams to bolster their roster , with Jeff Fisher embarking on a whole new chapter for a franchise whose last appearance in the postseason came back in 2004 when the team made it to the divisional round of the postseason before finally falling to the Atlanta Falcons in a lopsided loss . In the later years , with coaching and player personnel changes the franchise has squandered every opportunity available . The best finish during the season which the St Louis Rams have been able achieve since 2004 , were second place finishes in 2005, 2006 , 2010 and on each occasion they failed to make the postseason.

The Los Angles Rams will begin their 2016 schedule with a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara , California on September 12th 2016, week one of the regular season schedule. Their preseason schedule will offer the fans the chance to see their team face the Dallas Cowboys , Kansas City Chiefs , Denver Broncos and the Minnesota Vikings as part of their quartet of games during the exhibition games being encompassed by the league’s thirty-two teams . The St Louis Rams in seeking to have the overall number one pick and the clear indication Les Snead and Jeff Fisher they’re in need of a quarterback , may well stem from the belief Nick Foles was unable to give the team the insurance needed at the position . St Louis’ offense last season was not only anemic , but the defense also left a great deal to be desired . There are issues which need to be addressed across the depth of the team’s roster at a number of positions. Decisions likely to be made will have a long-term impact on the franchise’s future and in particular for this upcoming season.

Through their first six games of last season the St Louis Rams were not as competitive a team as Jeff Fisher might have hoped. Other than the play of their rookie running back Todd Gurley , there was not much to suggest the team was ever in with a chance of challenging anyone within their division or the league over the course of last season. The challenge for Gurley this upcoming season will be to prove to his detractors last season was not an aberration .


Adam Gase
has become the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins and Gase has seen fit to assemble a coaching staff he believes will be able get the best out of a roster which has failed miserably over the past five seasons . Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross in spite of his wealth has presided over a franchise bereft of genuine leadership and proven managerial acumen. The front office led by general manager Chris Grier and EVP Mike Tannenbaum , in part , are now expected to resurrect the fortunes of this franchise. Yet in the midst of this all, the continued belief remains , this team lacks leadership and the players ready to be held accountable for their actions. Ryan Tannehill , the Dolphins’ quarterback has yet to show the skill-set needed to get the job done and Ndamukong Suh , acquired as a free agent to bolster the defense , has not <a href=http://pr shown the ability that made him a Pro Bowl caliber player. One should bear in mind both Tannehill and Suh are being rewarded handsomely for their services. This season the Miami Dolphins’ cap figure will exceed $160 million dollars , though it will not be the highest among the NFL’s teams.

Coming off a rather disappointing season where during the course of their schedule the Miami Dolphins went through two head coaches , with Joe Philbin being fired , then to be replaced by Dan Campbell and it is easy to understand why there was no consistency to the team over the course of 2015. Finishing with 6-10 record within the AFC East , good enough for a fourth place (last place) place finish within the division and their failing to make the postseason after a poor finish in the AFC , simply dashed the hopes of the fans and the franchise last season. There very few positive signs of improvement in the team and I believe the Miami Dolphins will once again struggle during this upcoming season ! Adam Gase, Chris Grier and Mike Tannenbaum will undoubtedly look at the makeup of the team’s roster assessing the strengths and weaknesses they believe will need to be addressed. Moves will be made to improve the lineup and I can see that the front office and coaching staff will look to make prudent choices concerning the upcoming NFL Draft.

The NFL preseason tends to offer up nothing but meaningless entertainment and games which the fans are expected to pay full ticket prices merely to see second and third-string players still seeking to make their way unto the full roster of the teams. The standings at that point of the season have no bearing on the final regular season standings at all. Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins will play a three-game preseason schedule against the New York Giants , Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons , before embarking on their regular season schedule. In week one their opponents will be the Seattle Seahawks , who will they will be playing at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington on Sunday 11th September , 2016. If the Miami Dolphins are to be successful this upcoming season , then a great deal will be expected of not only Ryan Tannehill , but from the entire coaching staff and roster.

In the lead-up to the NFL Draft it will be interesting to see if there will be any other bold moves being made by other teams as they seek to improve their draft order position. As they say, “ nothing ventured , nothing gained “ .

Tophatal ……. 2014/04/18

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Exit stage right or is it , stage left ?

Exit stage right or is it , stage left ?

Well , the curtain has finally come down on the career of the NFL’s , five-time League MVP and two-time Superbowl champion Peyton Manning . With the undoubted acclaim which will now come , it does appear the recent controversy surrounding Manning’s career will bear some light upon how he is viewed in certain circles. To my mind the Denver Broncos’ quarterback is among the best quarterbacks of his generation and I would certainly rank him among the top-five players at the position in NFL history.

Peyton Manning will have his detractors, but what cannot be denied, has been the tenacity shown by the player and his willingness to take a team on his back and lead them with a great deal of authority. He is one of the few quarterbacks over the course of their careers to have averaged at last ten wins per season throughout their tenure. Manning could teach his younger sibling Eli Manning a thing or two about what it is like to be a leader , while also seeking to limit the excuses when his performances have been poor.

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Courtesy of ESPN (Transcript of Manning’s retirement speech)

Transcript of Peyton Manning’s retirement speech

ESPN.com Staff

Here is the transcript from Peyton Manning’s retirement speech Monday:

“In my very first NFL game, I completed my first pass to Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. I threw a touchdown in that same game to Marvin Harrison, who would be inducted into the Hall of Fame this August.

“The quarterback for our opponent, the Miami Dolphins, was — after my dad, my favorite player — Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who on the first third down of the game completed a 25-yard skinny post. And it was the damndest throw I’d ever seen.

“Later, I completed a pass to tight end Marcus Pollard down the middle and somebody hit me really hard and after I got up, I told myself, ‘I know I can play in this league.’

“Later in that struggling season, we played in and lost to Baltimore. It was the first time that the Colts had returned to Baltimore since they had moved back in 1984. We didn’t exactly get a warm reception that day. The fans were screaming at me and I kept thinking, ‘Hey, I was only 8 years old then, get off of my back.’

“I had met him once before, but when the game was over I had the chance to shake Johnny Unitas’ hand. He told me, ‘Peyton, you stay at it. I’m pulling for you.’

“Well, I have stayed at it. I’ve stayed at it for 18 years and I hope that old No. 19 is up there with his flat top and maybe his black high tops on and I hope he knows that I have stayed at it, and maybe he’s even a little proud of me.

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In many respects it was clear to see , this was bound to be Peyton Manning’s last year in the NFL after nineteen seasons torturous play and the type of physical exertion on his body , which left him mentally and dare I say it physically in a state of disrepair. What I believe was a telling sign during this last season , was Manning admitting the fact he played through one or two games injured and that his throwing arm , showed signs of weakness and some nerve damage. Wear and tear and most notably the accuracy of his passes were very telling and to the detriment of the team. Either way, had Peyton made the decision to return for a nineteenth season , I do believe Broncos’ Head of Football Operations and a former quarterback for the franchise , John Elway would have made the decision not to re-sign Manning, solely for the reason of cap space availability and avoiding having to pay the player the almost $20 million he would have been due in 2016. The era of Brock Osweiler now beckons and it will be interesting to see what the future now holds for the Broncos , as well as for Osweiler, who now steps into some rather gigantic shoes , having to succeed Peyton Manning.

The baseball season has started and already the game finds itself in the midst of further controversy. New York Yankees’ pitcher Aroldis Chapman has been given a thirty-game suspension by the league hierarchy for conduct unbecoming the game , after his being charged with domestic violence . The player’s act of contrition has been somewhat lukewarm and one has to bear in mind while seek to portray it all as a random act , it is believed this was not be the first time Chapman has been abusive towards his spouse, although there are no records counteract the allegations. Baseball much like the NFL has been slow to react to the issue of domestic abuse and the social ramifications seen from the behavior from the athletes with both sports. It certainly has not helped with either union , from the MLBPA and the NFLPA remain so silent on this issue , which itself is extremely disturbing. Rob Manfred , the current MLB Commissioner , his predecessor Bud Selig and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appear to be no clearer to addressing the issue , much less having sought to make the public aware of their respective leagues’ stances on what has become a social virus.

Another controversy engulfing the sport of baseball was the lifetime banishment of New York Mets’ pitcher Jennry Mejia , for a third positive test of a banned substance (performance enhancing drug / PED), in violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. For the current NL Pennant winners this was just another blow for the franchise , many of whom believe the Mets might be the team to beat this upcoming season within Major League Baseball. Pitching might well have been the strength of the New York Mets’ team last season , but I do believe they will be hard-pressed to eclipse the form shown during the early rounds of the postseason before the World Series failings against the Kansas City Royals .

Mets’ manager Terry Collins has yet to give a public statement concerning Mejia’s lifetime ban and what might be even more nonsensical concerning the player’s banishment is the little known fact , Jennry Mejia can be reinstated by the league hierarchy after two years at the league’s discretion. Mejia can return to the game, but Pete Rose remains a pariah within the game of baseball ? This is the sort of stupidity Major League Baseball has become known for , along with the buffoons at the upper echelons of the game, who clearly show no common sense whatsoever.

The New York Mets are involved in two split-squad games involving the St Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers as opponents on Monday afternoon. Reigning World Series’ champions the Kansas City Royals will be taking on the Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s in another set of split-squad games being played.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been in charge of the Chicago Cubs’ front office , dealing with all of the franchise’s player-personnel dealings, while the Ricketts’ family as the owners of the Cubs have sought to bring back some shine to the club’s laughable legacy over the past eighty-five years . It is bad enough Tom Ricketts has now seen fit to embroil himself in the current political climate with a Super-PAC (Political Action Committee) now in place , which is said to favor ‘ Conservative Causes ‘ and policies , while also seeking to oppose the support of Republican Presidential candidate and the party’s front-runner for the nomination , Donald Trump . It is at times like this , which has me wondering where the two areas collide , but then I look at how baseball and specifically the MLB hierarchy plays both sides of the political aisle , as they seek to maintain their status and hold unto their antitrust exemption granted to them by the Congress. Massaging the egos of the five hundred and thirty-five members within the legislature , does have its merits.

From my own standpoint, I don’t believe the Cubs will be competitive enough to be a force within the NL Central . Joe Maddon and his managerial staff , along with the team will need to be completely focused if they are to compete with their divisional counterparts this upcoming season. The Cubs’ season will begin with a game against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday , 4th April , in what will be viewed as the road game for the Chicago Cubs.

So at what point , do the naysayers start to it up and take note , the Golden State Warriors are for real and their exploits this season are not just a flash in the pan ? Over their last fifteen games, led by Steph Curry and his teammates , have been “torching” their opponents with ease , while , posting the best record in their division , as well as the Western Conference and the league , overall . The question now remains , can this Steve Kerr coached team which has set franchise records and league records , as they seek to surpass the achievements of the Chicago Bulls and the record breaking season on their way to the NBA championship in 1995 and eliminate the Bulls’ mark from the record books ? The Bulls went 72-10 during that year , with Michael Jordan leading the way for the team . A recent loss by the Golden State Warriors suffered at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers has done nothing to deter the Warriors , as they seek to make press along with their historic run this season. The victory has been one of the few bright spots for the Lakers this season and I firmly believe , Byron Scott will not be returning to the franchise next season to coach this Los Angeles’ team . With Kobe Bryant’s retirement coming at the end of this season , the prayers being asked by the franchise’s fans is their wish the Lakers pursue Kevin Durant who will be one of the many free agents , but among the marquee list of players who might be looking for a new home which beckons in the 2016 NBA season.

A prohibitive favorite to win the League MVP for a second successive season , Steph Curry has been rewriting the records books and stamping his mark on what might turn out to a historic season for the player and this Warriors’ team. The consensus appears to be , not that Golden State will break single season mark of the Chicago Bulls , but which team in the league has the best chance of defeating the team during the NBA Playoffs. Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs might well have the second-best record in the league , but the Spurs have proved to be no match for their conference rivals during their meetings this season . I am inclined to believe that will also be the case should the two teams meet during the Conference Finals this postseason ! Golden State will back on court , Monday night , when they face the Orlando Magic in what will likely turn out to be a thoroughly entertaining game.

The UFC staged another of their marquee events with two title holders being the main draw for their fight card of UFC 196 , which was staged at the MGM Grand Arena , Las Vegas , Nevada , this past Saturday, 5th March, 2016. Heading up the card were title Conor McGregor facing Nate Diaz , as McGregor faced Diaz in a catch-weight contest without his Lightweight Title not on the line. The other main attraction was Holly Holm making the first defense of the UFC Women’s Bantamweight title against Miesha Tate , A title which Holm won A in convincing fashion , defeating former champion Ronda Rousey . What should have been a lopsided contest turned out to be a shocking defeat for Holm , as she surrendered her belt in an unbelievable manner.

Two major upsets all on the same night , with McGregor being forced to submit by Nate Diaz and Holm’s inexplicable loss , has left many wondering, is the depth of talent in the UFC really that good or is it merely the hype and the skilled marketing by UFC President Dana White , which has us believing , the bouts staged, are as good as advertised ?

For Holly Holm, it’s back to the drawing board and for Miesha Tate, she can look forward to a lucrative payday , with a contest being lined up against former nemesis Ronda Rousey. Conor McGregor for his part, might well have been magnanimous in his loss , but I cannot help but wonder , during the pre-fight publicity junket , all of the well-staged publicity was all being done in the name of hype for a champion , McGregor, took his opponent way too lightly and who was very much complacent during the bout against Nate Diaz !

The English Premier League (EPL) is now heading into the final stretch of what has turned out to be a surprising season . Sitting at the top of the divisional standings are the surprising minnows of the division , Leicester City . Bought by the current owners for less than $500 million dollars just under four years ago . Should , Leicester win the title , it would be the biggest upset in English soccer history, since the Premiership came into being. The likes of Chelsea , Arsenal , Manchester United and Manchester City with their big-money stars and an abundance of success , have been cast into the shadows by an exceptional all-round team managed by their unheralded coach Claudio Ranieri , are now on the cusp of achieving something truly historic for the club.

In their most recent game , Leicester City were the victors over Watford , winning the game 1-0 . Granted , the Premiership contests are not known for high-scoring games , but what was on evidenced in this contest , was the stealth and resilience shown by Ranieri’s players . Next up for Leicester City will be a game against Newcastle on March, 14th, 2016. A victory in this game , while not making the conclusion of the season a formality, it would certainly go a long way in laying the foundations of what has been a memorable season for The Toffees , as they are more commonly known by their fans. What comes out of this season could very well set the template moving forward for a number of teams in upcoming seasons. Clearly , n the case of Leicester City as well as the Kansas City Royals , Golden State Warriors and Denver Broncos, their success was attained by the use of due diligence , an eye for detail and placing an emphasis of having the players and management in place to achieve their goals sought.

Do you believe the decision made by Peyton Manning to retire from the NFL was the right choice   ? Of the sporting events  that  took place over this past weekend , which would you consider to be the most relevant of all ?

 

 

 

 

 

Tophatal ……………. 2016/03/07

By  clicking  on  an  individual   image  seen below  , you   can view  a  picture  in a reformatted size  along  with an  accompanying  narrative.

NFL news

MLB news

MLB results 6th March and schedule

MLB standings (Spring Training)

NBA news

NBA results 6th March

NBA schedule 7th March

NBA standings (divisional)

NBA standings (conference)

NBA Playoff Picture (projections)

UFC news

Results from UFC 196
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EPL Premiership soccer , Premiership news

This past weekend’s results , form guide

Premiership league table
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So What Am I Missing Here ?

 

 

So What Am I Missing Here ?

Here we are once again and with a new Superbowl champion, with the Denver Broncos having triumphed over an under-achieving Carolina Panthers’ team. During this off-season teams with their front office executives and coaching staffs are seeking to make roster, cuts with the cutting of players, impending free agents as they seek to pare down cap commitments with a view to preparing themselves for not only the upcoming NFL Draft but also, what has become the usual free-agency free-for-all and all too ridiculous off-season drama repeatedly seen at this time of the year.

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Already, a number of high-profiled players have been let go by their teams with the recent announcement by the Chicago Bears that their veteran running back Matt Forte will not be returning to the franchise in 2016. Which begs the question , where will Forte now end up and is he willing to take pay cut in order to fulfill his ambition of winning a Superbowl title ? If that were not enough, the ongoing drama which still surrounds the future of Johnny Manziel , still looms large for the Cleveland Browns even in the aftermath of the idiotic claims now being made by Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam , that he and the coaching staff were lied to by the Texas & AM Athletics Department and coaching staff about the conduct and demeanor of Manziel , while he attended the school as a player. I am sorry, but given the repeated media coverage of quarterback’s conduct both on and off the field, it has me wondering if the Browns’ Scouting Staff and coaches actually used diligence before coming to the decision to draft Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft as the twenty-second overall pick in the first round of the Draft that year ? Since then, the alleged flashes of brilliance shown by the player have been about as illuminating as damp squib on the 4th July. Now with a giant shadow being cast over Johnny Manziel’s future in the NFL , his issues with sobriety and allegations of domestic violence, his unwillingness to check himself into rehab , event at the request of his own father.

One no longer needs to question the fact, the Cleveland Browns should cut ties with the player and now seek to rebound from the farce of making the former Heisman Trophy winner the focal point of their future. At no point during Manziel’s tenure was there ever a glimpse of the acclaimed brilliance he was said to possess at the collegiate level ever bearing fruit for the Browns. Bear in mind also , the team struggled throughout much of the season , where they would finish up with a 3-13 record for a last place finish in the AFC North and one the worst records in the entire AFC, not to mention the league itself. Cleveland’s offense was as bad as their record suggests and the team’s defense was equally inept . With teams having to declare their pare down of payroll in order to free up cap-room availability , it will be interesting to see what now takes place between now and the 1st March.

Calvin Johnson , wide receiver with the Detroit Lions is now said to be mulling retirement after another disappointing year by the team. It has to be said the blame must lie with the fact the player has been let down once again by an inept coaching staff and front office . I believe a great deal of the blame must also rests with team quarterback Matt Stafford who continues to be a conundrum and enigma all rolled into one. From my own perspective, I believe Stafford along with Matt Ryan , Jay Cutler , Ryan Tannehill , Sam Bradford and Tony Romo are the most overrated quarterbacks now playing in the NFL. Now there are those who will point to the fact , Romo remains consistent during the regular season, but the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback is now softer than a roll of Charmin’ tissue paper and unlikely to be healthy enough to play a sixteen-game schedule. And it will always come down to the fact repeatedly. Romo in the postseason, is as poor as his record suggest without his being the constant butt of so many jokes , his continually seeking to blame others for his own poor play and his lack of leadership.

 

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Jim Caldwell , head coach of the Detroit Lions is seen here speaking with team quarterback Matt Stafford (9) . Caldwell’s position with the team could be in jeopardy  there appears to be mounting speculation he could be relieved of his coaching duties during this off-season. GM Bob Quinn is undecided and has met with Martha Firestone Ford , owner of the franchise and members of the Ford family, as well as other senior executives to discuss the head coach’s future . The possibility of Jim Caldwell being fired seems likely , but it would only add to the increased turmoil and lack of stability for the Lions who have gone through several head coaching changes over the past ten years . AP Photo / Sarah Carson …

If Calvin Johnson does make the formal announcement to walk away from the game then the fans of the NFL can feel privileged enough to have seen one of the best wide receivers of this generation . Certainly , Johnson when judged against his peers , has shown the consistency not often seen and while there are those chomping at the bit concerning the exploits of Odell Beckham , other than the hype there has been little of note achieve by Beckham or the New York Giants since he was drafted by franchise. Granted , the same can be said concerning Calvin Johnson , but bear in mind the Detroit Lions , have only made the postseason on two occasions since 2009, first in 2011 and then again in 2014 , where their forays were short-lived and nothing of note was achieved.

Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell will be hard-pressed to get this team back on track this upcoming season and with improvement seen with the Minnesota Vikings along with the ever-present, Aaron Rodgers guiding the Green Bay Packers , I do believe Detroit will be playing catch-up once again this upcoming season ,while the Packers and the Vikings remain the dominant forces within the division (NFC North) for this year !

For their own part, Detroit will almost certainly be looking to make some changes to last season’s lineup and the likelihood of several of their free agents not returning after an unproductive season is seen as inevitable. Lions’ GM Bob Quinn will be under a great deal of pressure to make the changes necessary , as he seeks to improve the roster in the run-up to the NFL Draft and preseason.With the free agency market being what it is, I also believe he will be seeking to make some rather fascinating moves , delving into the alternatives available to him there , seeking one or two options as he surveys that particular landscape. For the moment, Matt Stafford’s appears to be safe, but I can’t help feel , if the opportunity arose for him to trade the quarterback , it would be taken at the drop of a hat and close out what has been a rather disappointing tenure by Stafford, whose seven years in the NFL have proven to be underwhelming .

$20 million a year can get you a great deal in the NFL , but there are too few quarterbacks in this league actually worth the sum , who are capable of winning consistently in today’s NFL. Now consider the fact Sam Bradford of the Philadelphia Eagles , who becomes a free agent during this off-season , is now seeking such a deal , it begs the question will the front office staff continue with their idiocy after the hire and then firing of Chip Kelly and the ignominy of his tenure with the franchise ? Bradford at best , is no more than a backup quarterback for any franchise in the league, but given the Eagles’ poor pass offense , among the coaching staff of new head coach Doug Pederson. Bradford is thought to be the best of an awful bunch.

The Philadelphia Eagles had a litany of issues all over their roster and much of it stemmed from the fact during Kelly’s tenure , the franchise never had a propensity for playing defense and this run-gun- mentality of the team’s offense barely served them any purpose or brought about any tangible success. Yet somehow , purely upon his accomplishments with Oregon , Kelly was thought to be a football genius.

Having been hired by the San Francisco Forty Niners to succeed Jim Tomsula , Chip Kelly will be allowed a “second bite of the apple” , on a team with issues both on and off the field , and where there is said to be little faith in the acumen of GM Trent Baalke or team Chairman & owner Jed York . If the rumors are to be believed , with Chip Kelly longing to reunite with Sam Bradford and bring him to San Francisco , then one has to ask, what does the future hold for Colin Kaepernick and his remaining with the team ?

We are all aware of the decline in Kaerpernick’s play since 2014 and his being more concerned with his high-profile image , contract-value , than actually leading his team . Which all stems from the quarterback’s lack of maturity , leadership ability and being caught up in his own world. Back to back postseason appearances and there were comparisons being made with Niners’ legends Joe Montana and Steve Young in some circles . Pump the brakes and take a step back for a minute or two and then start to look at when and where the decline began for not only Kaepernick , but also for the Forty Niners where they now find themselves in their present predicament. The team in its present guise might not even be the best in their division and I certainly believe the Seattle Seahawks will remain the “ cream of the crop” within the NFC West . Seahawks ‘ quarterback Russell Wilson has to now be considered an elite quarterback in this league and as a Superbowl winning quarterback , I believe that he is only going to get better . He has shown the temperament , has the backing of his teammates , but also , he has shown himself to be a leader, leading by example and his teammates seem to be more than willing to follow his lead. I doubt the same can be said of Colin Kaepernick at this moment in time !

Jim Harbaugh’s wish to part ways with the San Francisco 49ers , were two-fold in the premise leading to his departure . Harbaugh’s relationship with Trent Baalke and Jed York had soured , his failure to hold his players accountable for their conduct off the field as well as on it was there for all to witness ( Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald ) , but idiot fans of the franchise seemed to be more concerned with the malaise and folly of the two front office executives. During the off-season Chip Kelly and his coaching staff will seek to assess the merits of the current roster while also assessing the potential free agents heading to the market , as Trent Baalke and coaches seek to bolster the roster. This upcoming season will be make or break for Colin Kaepernick, while Chip Kelly’s first season with the San Francisco 49ers will also come under a great deal of close scrutiny. Abject failure is not something likely to be tolerated by the fans of the franchise and many of their former players still closely associated with the organization.

Four Superbowl victories for New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick has pretty much sealed his legacy as perhaps the best NFL coach of his generation, as well as perhaps being one of the most despised individuals in NFL history. There is no denying the franchise has now become the most hated in the league ,along with the never ending controversies which have dragged down the image of the Patriots’ organization. Team owner Robert ‘ Bob’ Kraft remains all powerful, though his relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has soured in aftermath of the ‘ Deflate-Gate’ . Though the allegations against Tom Brady were not necessarily groundless, but the league hierarchy’s presentation of their case in front of an arbitrator in a US Federal Court smacked of incompetence and showed that Goodell and his minions are in fact imbeciles . It should tell you a great deal about the case when the league’s own Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Pash refused to testify on behalf of the NFL in the presentation of their case against Brady. The decision by Pash , pretty much handed the victory to Brady and his legal representatives and guaranteed his four-game suspension being lifted.

New England’s loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game led to their falling short of making a successful defense of the title won last season. For Tom Brady and his teammates , this is not an off-season for them to ponder what went wrong, but for the coaching staff and front office to assess how the team can actually get better. The Patriots struggled on offense when it mattered the most in their encounter against the Broncos and for Brady this was not one of his better encounters against Peyton Manning during the postseason .

Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will likely seek to strengthen the team’s defense , while also looking add to the team’s offensive corps of players. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has to be aware the team’s rush offense was something of a letdown , while offensive line is in need of a major upgrade to protect Tom Brady and allow the quarterback more time in the ‘pocket’ . There is the feeling Belichick working in conjunction with GM Nick Caserio , will add Matt Forte to the team’s roster , while releasing one of the Patriots’ quantity of running backs among the lineup from this past season. We know the league to be a ‘cut-throat’ business at this time of the season and I expect New England to be no different from any of the other franchises around the league as they make the cuts they believe necessary in preparing for the NFL Draft and free agency.

With the NFL cap figure expected to be $155 million for 2016, the New England Patriots find themselves in a favorable position should they make place themselves in a position, to make a big splash for marquee free agent as mentioned earlier (Matt Forte) . Things worked out well for several teams at this point last season , as they sought to bolster their rosters through free agency and in some respects it played a part in the success of the Denver Broncos during the postseason.

Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins may well have won the NFC East , a division I believe to be one of the worst in the entire NFL , but the thought of Cousins now on the cusp of seeking and being signed to a multi-year deal does seem daunting. The Redskins’ front office could seek to ‘franchise tag’ the quarterback and then simply offer him a one-year deal equivalent to the average earnings for a top-five paid passer in the league. Whether not Cousins is said to be worth such a deal , is dependent upon what you might believe are his attributes as a passer ? Jay Gruden witnessed his team grind out a rather mediocre 9-7 record to secure the divisional title before being upended in the wildcard round of the postseason in a rather embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers. Cousins and the Redskins were simply out of their depth against a superior team, with a far better coaching staff than those at the disposal of Jay Gruden.

A great deal of the deliberations this off-season will not only surround the status of Kirk Cousins but also , his teammate and fellow draftee from 2012, Robert Griffin III . Griffin was the second overall pick taken in the draft behind quarterback Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts . In what would appear to be all of the alleged warning signs, the feeling seems to be the coaching staff and front office no longer have any implicit faith in Robert Griffin’s abilities , while also, his being a malcontent and a major distraction. Injuries have played a part Griffin’s fall from grace, beyond the erratic play and willingness to sacrifice himself needlessly to make a ‘big play’. Gruden’s predecessor Mike Shanahan was never really able to get the best out of Griffin , even after his leading the Redskins to a postseason appearance in 2012, his rookie season. From thereon-in , his demise has been swift and somewhat demoralizing. If Robert Griffin is cut, then he could very well be signed by a team in need of a player with regular season experience , primarily in a backup role to a starter. Griffin still believes himself to be a front-line starting quarterback and more than capable of leading a team. With his career now at a crossroads , it is extremely difficult to suggest where Robert Griffin now goes from here. At the start of 2012 , so much was expected of the player after a stellar career at Baylor (Bears) , which now seems to be stuck in a morass.

Redskins’ team President Bruce Allen and team owner Dan Snyder have yet to make a public decision concerning the beleaguered quarterback and even GM Scott McGloughlan seems reluctant to discuss the matter in public , but there are swirling rumors now being floated, a decision has been made , Robert Griffin III , will be be released by the franchise. The release of Griffin would save the Washington Redskins $16.2 million against the team’s cap for 2016 and will go a long way in creating cap space and their pursuit of several highly-prized free agents as well as possibly ‘ tagging’ Kirk Cousins, rather than signing him to a multi-year deal .

Basking in their return to the greater Los Angeles area , the St Louis Rams will return to the roots and become associated with the city where they first garnered fame . For Jeff Fisher and Stanley Kroenke , this becomes the chance to perhaps see an appreciation in the Rams’ value and profitability as well as the notable rise in attendance likely to be seen in 2016. For the fans of the Rams within the community this brings about their long wait for the return of a franchise to the city of Los Angeles . OK, one can choose to ignore the era of the Oakland Raiders when they were known as the Los Angeles Raiders and given the abysmal record of the Raiders since 2004 , I think just about anyone who has a vested interest in the NFL will simply ignore the AFC West based franchise and the systematic incompetence seen with Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie . The less said about Raiders’ season of ignominy the better off the whole would appear to be.

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Kurt Warner , left , is seen here being hugged by Dick Vermeil after the St Louis Rams’ victory over the Tennessee Titans in the Superbowl . Neither Vermeil or Warner are currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame , in spite of both having been retired for several years and having met the eligibility requirements .

For Jeff Fisher and this current crop of players , several of whom are unlikely to be on the roster for this upcoming season. I believe a fresh start with new faces might provide the franchise with something it has long sought and that is a chance to return to competitiveness seen when Kurt Warner was ruling the roost with the ” Greatest Show on Turf”” . Those days are long gone and the Rams haven’t come close to achieving the sort of notoriety seen when they won the Superbowl.

Last season for the St Louis Rams was a year when nothing seemed to go right for the team, from week two right to week six . A 7-9 record was just an indication of where the Rams stood at the end of the regular season and in reality it told us a great deal about the team in general . Nick Foles is being asked to place a great deal of the burden upon his shoulders and to lead the St Louis (Los Angeles) Rams this season and I believe it will be far too tough a task for him , even if surrounded by complementary players suitable to his skill-set . Foles is a creature of habit and his not being able to think outside the box , is not something we have not seen from the player at this point of his career . This will have to be the year, where Nick Foles convinces us all , how great he can be under the guidance of Jeff Fisher’s coaching staff and his sortie of teammates. While I believe Foles to be a good quarterback, I am yet to be convinced he is the kind of player capable of leading the Rams a Superbowl victory !

Three things will unfold this season for the Dallas Cowboys . One , Jerry Jones will finally get another chance to see the good and the bad side of the Dallas Cowboys and two , he will have to make a decision as to whether not he can still stand by Tony Romo as the starting quarterback of the team. Finally, he has to come to his senses as to the merits of Jason Garrett’s tenure as the head coach of the franchise. Romo’s postseason record notwithstanding , but Garrett’s own achievements have been equally abysmal , in spite of his being given the keys to the “Kingdom” , an alleged Ferrari , which he hasn’t been able to get out of first gear. The Dallas Cowboys might well be worth an estimated $4 billion and have the luxury of playing in cavernous and ostentatious Texas (AT&T ) Stadium , built at the reputed cost of $1.4 billion ,but the Cowboys in their present guise will never make an appearance at their home venue as a participant in the Superbowl and I am prepared to go on record and state Tony Romo will not be leading the franchise to a Superbowl victory ! He may well say all of the right things , but his window of opportunity has now firmly closed and he can simply dream of what might have been. Romo can continue to dream , where in his world and fantasies of make he belief he raises the Lombardi Trophy in victory around, with the team owner and teammates.

In recent years injuries have plagued Tony Romo and we are no longer guaranteed the fact , he can play a full sixteen-game regular season schedule and if that were not enough, is not enough , the depth on the roster at the quarterback position is very weak . Anyone under the misconception , Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden were the answers to Jason Garrett’s and Jerry Jones’ prayers, are completely delusional . This off-season , a decision has to be made concerning the Cowboys acquiring a decent backup starter for Romo, as well as the drafting of a very good college quarterback who will be groomed for the future. As to whether or not Wade Wilson , quarterbacks’ coach for the Cowboys , can make that all a reality remains to be seen, dependent upon the decisions made by the Cowboys during the upcoming NFL Draft. Dallas has not drafted a quarterback since taking Stephen McGee in the 2009 NFL Draft . McGee’s career statistics if nothing else , simply makes for a good way to pass the time or for a piece of Cowboys’ trivia of not so fun-filled facts. Either way, it sums up the Dallas Cowboys’ continually abysmal record in the NFL since 2008. All of the excuses in the world , cannot hide the fact, you cannot dress up a pig and call it a sow . Oink, oink , oink !

This season could very well be the last year we all get to see Tony Romo is a Cowboys’ uniform as his best years are now behind him and not ahead. His career plateau has been reached , Pro Bowl appearances and personal achievements , but an elusive Superbowl ring and victory will not be on his career resume’ upon his retirement , not unless it is in some other capacity , either as a backup starter or in some coaching capacity of the future.

What moves do you believe will take place during this off-season in the NFL ? Which teams are likely to benefit from this free agency period in the run-up to the NFL Draft ?

 

 

Tophatal  … 2016/02/24   By clicking on an image seen below you can view the picture in a reformatted size alongside the accompanying narrative.

 

NFL news and NFL  transactions  (February 2016)

2016  NFL  Draft & NFL  Combine  news

NFL free agents

Projected team salary caps

Top-capped players in 2016

NFL transactions (March 2015)
NFL archived news

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Too late the hero …

They came they saw and thought they would conquer , instead the heavily favored Carolina Panthers laid a monumental goose-egg as they were outplayed , outcoached and made to look ordinary in their loss to the Denver Broncos. For their part, the Broncos avenged their horrendous loss of two years ago, when they fell asleep at the wheel in their embarrassingly lopsided defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. Panthers’ quarterback , Cam Newton the presumptive League MVP was harassed all game-long by the Broncos’ defense, with Vonn Miller having an exceptional game , while being named Superbowl MVP.

Too late the hero

They came they saw and thought they would conquer , instead the heavily favored Carolina Panthers laid a monumental goose-egg as they were outplayed , out-coached and made to look ordinary in their loss to the Denver Broncos . For their part, the Broncos avenged their horrendous loss of two years ago, when they fell asleep at the wheel in their embarrassingly lopsided defeat to the Seattle Seahawks . Panthers’ quarterback , Cam Newton the presumptive League MVP was harassed all game-long by the Broncos’ defense, with Vonn Miller having an exceptional game , while being named Superbowl MVP. The resulting 24-10 win by the Denver Broncos, brings to an end one of the best seasons seen from an NFL franchise in terms of their defensive capabilities seen during the regular and postseason . Denver’s defense was exceptional and their play-making ability exhibited in the Superbowl was nothing short of spectacular.

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For Peyton Manning , the question remains, does he now bow out on a career-high , having won his second Superbowl or does he return for one more year with the Denver Broncos ? Certainly, he will be getting advice from his family and closest friends but I believe Manning also seek advice from Broncos’ Head of Operations and former quarterback John Elway , whose career with the franchise have been etched in Denver Broncos’ folklore. Denver came into this game as the overwhelming underdogs , but when it mattered the most, it was the defense who stepped up to the plate to make this victory all the more satisfying for their fans and the organization.

This off-season , I have no doubt John Elway , the front office and the coaching staff of Gary Kubiak will go about assessing the team’s needs in the run-up to the 2016 NFL Draft . With notable free agents on the roster who will undoubtedly be looking to get paid , one could reason , Elway will not be rushed into things concerning the Broncos’ roster and their off-season dealings. Having been the architect of this team , drafting and acquiring free agents to bolster the roster , adding depth to the team overall. It could be said , Elway should be taking as much credit for this success , as the players on the team.

There was a solemn note to this Superbowl with John Elway acknowledging words of appreciation for team owner Pat Bowlen who was unable to attend Sunday’s event. Bowlen has been the ever-present figure presiding over the franchise almost from its very start. Ill-health has taken its toll on this much revered owner and it seems only fitting that the Denver Broncos’ greatest player was the person offering Bowlen , his best wishes.

Carolina Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera , obviously disappointed with his team’s loss , was the first to acknowledge this was a learning experience for his players . In his post-game interview the coach praised his opponents while stating his team will get better and they have learned something from this loss. The disappointment on the faces of the Panthers’ players was there for every one to see and the gut-wrenching way with which they discombobulated, was all the more unbelievable. Mistimed efforts by the receivers , Cam Newton being harassed and pressured played a part in the Carolina Panthers’ downfall. Furthermore, with Ron Rivera’s coaching staff not adapting the to Wade Phillips’ defensive strategies have me wondering , did this have more to do with Panthers not figuring out they were going up against the NFL’s best defensive team during the postseason ? As good as the Denver Broncos were said to be defensively, Carolina through their sheer desperation simply had no real answer , their world came crashing down because they lacked composure and an unwillingness to change or battle their opponent head on.

With the result of the Superbowl now known , we will see how the NFL Draft pans out as the teams make their choices on Draft Day. The Tennessee Titans will have the privilege of making the first pick in the upcoming draft and it will be interesting to see the decision made by the Titans’ front office as they seek to fortify a roster around the skill-set of Marcus Mariota . The only way is up for the Titans after another disastrous season in the NFL and while Mariota was able to show signs of leadership and composure , when the surrounding cast appears to be nothing more than mediocre , then there is not a great which can be done and that was clearly the case for Mike Mularkey and his coaching staff . Mularkey replaced Ken Whisenhunt who had been fired earlier in the season after the Titans’ inauspicious start to their schedule . There are a litany of issues which needed to be addressed by the Tennessee Titans during the off-season and while one can only hope to see some signs of improvement from the AFC South based franchise, I am of the opinion they are likely to struggle again this upcoming season !

Over the last ten years the Dallas Cowboys have sought ride into the postseason on the shoulder of Tony Romo . Suffice to say, I believe Cowboys’ owner and GM Jerry Jones has spent way too much time hyping up the franchise while making a great deal of money over-charging fans for a rather mediocre product ! Romo’s postseason malaise have been well-chronicled along with his continuous excuses and the very fact he is no longer able to play a regular sixteen-game schedule . During this off-season the quarterback will once again be undergoing surgery, having re-injured his shoulder. Can we just say , if Romo were a race horse who repeatedly suffered the same injury , he would have been euthanized ? Head coach Jason Garrett , continually the ‘pet poodle’ of Jerry Jones , is simply proving whether or not he has on-field talent, slight or genuinely very good , he cannot get the best out of those players , much less truly indicate he has a modicum of coaching acumen. The losses suffered by the Cowboys this past season were as just as much the players’ fault as it was Garrett’s and his ill-prepared coaching staff’s .

I have never really been enamored with the Dallas Cowboys and this constant belief they are ‘ America’s Team’ . It is said , if you tend to spread the message long and loud enough , then people are likely to believe it. Well, I do believe the Cowboys alongside the New England Patriots are the most despised teams in the NFL , while also being the most hated in North American professional sports !

It would be a safe bet to suggest , when Tony Romo was lost the Dallas Cowboys during the season, their year was essentially over. Neither Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden as Romo’s under-studies were able to get the job done as the team’s starting quarterback, replacing the Pro Bowl player . Cassel was never consistent enough and Weeden was simply out of his depth.

The losses suffered by the Cowboys this past season were as just as much the players’ fault as it was Garrett’s and his ill-prepared coaching staff’s. Dallas having finished their season with a 4-12 record will have the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. If their first round draft based on the team’s needs are anything to go by, then there is a very distinct possibility Jerry Jones will likely take a quarterback , but this purely based on speculation from my own perspective ! The Cowboys’ needs are vast and varied and given Jones’ inclinations , just about anything is possible. One can only hope this upcoming season the Dallas Cowboys will have their game faces on , rather than being dressed in clown costumes and performing like the NFL’s answer for ‘comedic relief’.

Not one to pour salt into the wounds ,but in the aftermath of another deplorable season if all the fans of the St Louis Rams can feel excited about is their imminent return to the greater Los Angeles area , then it is to their shame. Rams’ owner and eponymous billionaire and husband of Ann Walton-Kroenke , of the Walton family fortune . Stanley Kroenke , as the owner of the NFL franchise has presided over a disaster since he acquired the team and this move can and should be seen as nothing more than to take away your attention away from what has been another year of just incompetence from the top on down . Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff appeared lost and the players seemed to be lost all season long. There was but one bright spot to this team and it was the play of their rookie running back Todd Gurley . While others might be calling for the names of Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston for the NFL Offensive Rookie of The Year . To my mind , Gurley made enough of an impact to have outshone his contemporaries from the 2015 NFL Draft class ! Whether or not the Rams’ running back wins the award remains to be seen.

Jeff Fisher and the St Louis Rams never seemed to be in control of their own destiny from the start of the season , right until its very end and their 7-9 record was reflective of that very fact . Poorly led on the field of play, their quarterback play it has to be said , neither Nick Foles and Case Keenum were up to the task of leading this team.

Stanley Kroenke having bought a large parcel of land outside the town of Industry , California will now seek to build a stadium which will in all likelihood will be publicly financed, while the surrounding area for the stadium will be for commercial and residential use , all under the umbrella of one of Kroenke’s commercial enterprises. While the Rams’ fans in Los Angeles might not seem perturbed with the use of public funds to aid one of the richest men in the country with one of his whims, it plainly speaks to the ignorance of the fans of the NFL in general and their lack of economics. As to the NFL hierarchy , well with the move having been approved, this is one more feather in the cap for Roger Goodell , whose own image is in need of something positive . His leadership of the NFL has been one of the poorest in living memory and perhaps among those of his contemporaries within MLB (Bud Selig and Rob Manfred) , NHL (Gary Bettman), NBA (David Stern) and NASCAR (Mike Helton).

If the St Louis Rams’ season was said so monstrous , then for the Oakland Raiders theirs was simply dire and one where there was little of note to take seriously. Jack Del-Rio did all he could without their being anything to show for it at the end of the day. Now with team owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie having met with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson , CEO of Sands Corporation the entertainment and gaming conglomerate with a major presence in Las Vegas , Nevada as well as throughout much of the Far East . Adelson proposes the building of a vast stadium for the Raiders , along with a mix of commercial and residential real estate . As to what the NFL will make of this all , given their given wish not to be closely involved with the gaming industry , is somewhat hypocritical , when one considers professional football is a major source of revenue for the industry. Something the league hierarchy is well aware of and lately, several influential owners have been pressing Roger Goodell to loosen his stance with regard to their being no association.

Personally, I believe the league and the gaming industry to be hypocritical , as are the laws which prohibit wagering on sports’ events around the country ! The US Justice System and the States Attorneys’ General have bigger fish to fry , than seeking to punish with impunity , the gaming industry and those who make a living from it.

Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie’s meeting with Sheldon Adelson also took in the local political dignitaries, along with senior members of the Las Vegas City Council . If their weight is thrown behind such a proposal , it will be interesting to witness how the NFL will seek to dissuade its members from allowing the relocation of the Oakland Raiders. While I have no problem with NFL franchises seeking to move , I do have a problem with team owners believing it best for municipalities , county or state governments to be at the beck and call when it comes to the financing of stadiums ! Less we forget , the NFL remains a tax-exempt organization , where only the teams , and the league’s employees are taxed. Bear in mind also, in 2014 , Roger Goodell’s salary exceeded $25 million dollars , and were he a player in the league that year, he would have been among the highest paid in the NFL . I am sure when the next CBA (collective bargaining agreement) meeting is due to take place between the union (NLFPA) and league hierarchy , the issue is likely to be raised by its leadership and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith . I mean is there any way Goodell can truly try and justify his salary ?

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Tophatal …….. 02/08/2016

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So you think you know sports ?

So you think you know sports ?

 

Well, with the Superbowl slowly approaching and the two participants from the AFC and NFC now in preparation for the NFL’s showcase event. Away from these preparations , we have a litany of news surfacing concerning a number of the league’s franchises. Outside , what appears to be an idiotic remark by Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton interjecting the issue race into the mix, with his stating being a ‘ black quarterback’ in the NFL makes him a target for criticism. I beg to differ Cam, what will make you a target for criticism for the NFL and analysts in general , would be the issue of the Panthers performing poorly and the team not winning. The fact of the matter has been , the Carolina Panthers reeled off fourteen consecutive wins during the regular season , with the team’s only loss coming at the hands of their divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons.

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Cam Newton for his part through much of the season played at a consistently high level and had several career firsts during the season as well as career records . Head coach Ron Rivera has to be entirely happy with what he saw from his team as they ended the regular season posting a 15-1 record, best in the NFL. Carolina’s opponent for the Superbowl game on the 7th February will be the Denver Broncos , who will be led by their veteran quarterback Peyton Manning. For those questioning Manning’s ability this season , they should consider the fact for much of the year the player was playing injured , something his critics obviously overlooked with their rather asinine prognostication and claiming Manning player was past his prime and his playing days were in fact over. Peyton Manning simply does what he does best and that is to answer those critics by leading the team into the postseason and unto another Superbowl appearance, the third of his career and the second for the Broncos in the last five seasons .

This game is the match-up the fans and analysts undoubtedly wanted to see, with the two best teams in the league vying for the Lombardi Trophy. Carolina are likely to be viewed as slight favorites in the game by the odds-makers in Las Vegas. Gambling on the’ big game’ should run into several hundred million dollars , if not at least one billion or more.

The fiftieth edition of the Superbowl and this is the game the NFL wants to be seen as the event which takes them into the latter half of the decade , with the fans expecting a great deal more. The league and its’ major corporate sponsors will be looking to this game to be a tremendous success competitively and from a commercial standpoint.

The NFL hierarchy has granted permission to the St Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers to relocate to the greater Los Angeles area. Rams’ owner , billionaire real estate and sports’ mogul Stanley Kroenke having bought a vast track of real estate in the town of Industry , California , will now be looking to both municipalities , Industry and the city of Los Angeles to finance a stadium, which will house a proposed new venue for the NFL franchise . While fans of the Rams rejoice about the return of the NFL to the city of Los Angeles , I seriously doubt they are intelligent enough to realize that ramifications involved , both cities proposing the use of taxpayers’ funds for the building of a new stadium for a billionaire who is among the four hundred richest people in America as well as being among the list of billionaires with a net worth exceeding $5 billion . The cities of Industry and Los Angeles still have their fiscal budgetary woes and the league hierarchy likely pressing both cities to facilitate their financing of a new stadium for the St Louis Rams. Stanley Kroenke has not been totally upfront on his proposals , other than to state stadium and the surrounding area will see an aesthetic use of the land with a mixture of commercial and residential use surrounding the $1 billion stadium.

The Spanos family, owners of the San Diego Chargers have not stated categorically, they will relocate the Chargers’ franchise, but all signs seems to be the pointing to the fact , with their negotiations with the city of San Diego at an impasse , their only alternative would be the move to Los Angeles.

The Oakland Raiders after another unfulfilling season in the league , have now sought to make themselves part of the NFL news’ cycle , with front office having met with officials from the city of Las Vegas to discuss their moving the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas. Over the past two-and-a-half decades the Raiders have long felt the city of Los Angeles has been theirs by territorial right, albeit the franchise has remained noncompetitive since 2004 and have not made a postseason appearance since their loss in the Superbowl to the Tamp Bay Buccaneers . In the ensuing years the Raiders have been a joke and through a string of head coaches since Bill Callahan took the team to their last Superbowl appearance.

Mark Davis as the owner of the Oakland Raiders has remained impervious to the criticism leveled at him by the fans and analysts alike and with each passing season of abject failure , there appears to be no real signs of improvement from any member of the team. Derek Carr was seen as something of a savior for the franchise , but in reality , he cannot do it all by himself and as a quarterback , as he has yet to attain the leadership skills sought to lead the Raiders where they need to be. Carr and the Oakland Raiders were not competitive enough to be viewed as a significant contender within the AFC West or AFC throughout much of this past season. Davis’ reasons for wanting to relocate the Raiders stems from greed and the fact the league hierarchy under Roger Goodell , have never looked favorably on his wish to have the sole territorial rights for the greater Los Angeles area , going unchallenged as the sole NFL franchise within Los Angeles. The NFL would have to grant their blessing for a proposed move by the Oakland Raiders and that is unlikely to happen in time for the upcoming 2016-17 season and so in all likelihood, such a move might not take place for at least another two years .

As baseball enters its silly off-season of movers and shakers among the executives , owners and agents negotiating contracts for free agents and players in arbitration , an interesting morsel of baseball historical news was revealed . Trades and free agent acquisitions have taken place at a fairly rapid pace , with several players signing lucrative deals during this off-season. Yet I believe the biggest news to hit the cycle to hit the world of baseball was the announcement that Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Piazza were to be the two players inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame for the class of 2016. Both players I believe were thoroughly deserving of this illustrious privilege , the highest honor possible for a player outside their winning a World Series’ ring. Future Hall of Fame eligible players for 2017 and 2018 are those who have met the eligibility requirements or those from the past, who will be appearing on ballot as a repeat eligible player .

With each passing year baseball seems to find itself dealing with some form of controversy or this never-ending idiocy of either the MLB hierarchy dumb-founded fans talking about Major League Baseball expansion. Were it not for the fact the hierarchy continues to be so damn clueless , along with the vast majority of the game’s fans and their not realizing the vast majority of the teams are barely financially viable , but yet the talk of expansion continues to raise its ugly head. For the Tampa Bay Rays having seen their hopes dashed repeatedly for a chance to build a new stadium within the city of St Petersburg or the greater Tampa area , as the franchise now appears to be on the verge of leaving the state altogether. Clearly the powers that be , among the civic dignitaries for cities of St Petersburg and Tampa cannot justify or explain to their residents, a thoroughly good reason why public funding should be used to build a stadium for a franchise whose attendance levels have continued to sit among the bottom half of baseball’s thirty teams.

At no time during the Rays’ two decade plus existence has the franchise ever seen those figures be ranked among the top-ten clubs within baseball’s attendance levels . The game is barely viable as a sport during the regular season for the two professional teams within the state of Florida , with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins struggling to remain competitive as well as seeing an upswing in attendance. The game of baseball is barely viable as a sport during the regular season for the two professional teams within the state of Florida , with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins struggling to remain competitive as well as seeing an upswing in attendance.

Baseball only remains relevant within the state of Florida during the Spring Training schedule , because of the abundance of teams who make use of the state for their Spring Training habitat and schedule.

So as the NBA season meanders along we are beginning to see the continued mediocrity of the teams , who are simply fighting to play themselves into contention for a Draft Lottery pick. The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers continue to vie for the worst record in the entire league and with good reason, given the mediocrity seen with their continued play. The Eastern Conference remains abundant with its ineptitude and far be it for me to suggest , but anyone who still believe the Cleveland Cavaliers are even remotely capable beating the top five teams in the West Conference over a seven-game series , then those fans of the Cavaliers had better think long and hard as to how good they believe Cleveland to be.

LeBron James might not have played a part in David Blatt’s firing, but after it was revealed his relationship with Blatt’s successor Tyronn Lue went beyond a head coach , player relationship , one has to wonder what were the behind the scene maneuvers which led to David Blatt’s downfall and his firing by GM David Griffin . The Cleveland Cavaliers will be back on court when they take on the Detroit Pistons on Friday evening , 29th January , 2016.

I have never been convinced the NBA has ever sought to be truly tough on their players, when it comes to reprehensible behavior ! Granted, David Stern might well point to the fact , Latrell Sprewell was fined and suspended for his now well chronicled altercation with P J Carlessimo and then we have the idiocy of Gilbert Arenas and his former teammate Javaris Crittenton trying to prove their manhood , by drawing their guns in the locker rooms of the Washington Wizards as a way of resolving an argument over a gambling debt. Suffice to say beyond that idiocy , we also have to deal with the widespread homophobia and misogyny constantly at play within the NBA . Need we forget also, the league hierarchy’s poor response to Donald Sterling’s ignorant racial rants which took time for the league to deal with in a timely manner. What else would you expect of a hierarchy ran by a group of predominantly aging Caucasian males who preside over the upper echelons of the NBA ?

There are teams we know in the NBA who are seen as perennial contenders within this league and among them one might consider the Los Angeles Clippers to be among the elite teams . However, in light of the news Blake Griffin will be missing from the team’s lineup for the next five weeks , one has to wonder what the player was thinking when he got into an altercation with Mathias Testa , an equipment manager with the Clippers’ organization. Griffin has since issued an apology on Twitter apologizing to his fans and the Los Angeles Clippers for his conduct. This is not the first time Griffin’s temper has gotten the better of him and the player’s lack of maturity must now come into question and what his loss may well mean to the team in the coming weeks.

Doc Rivers , as the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers appears to be more concerned with the loss of the player . rather than Griffin’s conduct and the fact neither he, the Clippers or the league have seen fit to take action against the player. What this suggests about the NBA and perhaps the Clippers to lesser extent , is the feeling unless a player has committed and charged with a a felony , then he should be treated with ‘kid gloves’ and the presumption of innocence. However, when one takes into account a repeat offender as is the case with Blake Griffin, then you have consider the hypocrisy of the league and the Los Angeles Clippers at this juncture.

With the All Star Game a little over two weeks away it will be interesting to see how the teams position themselves for the second half of the season and their continued ambitions over the remainder of the schedule.

With the first Grand Slam Tournament of ATP Tour and WTA entering its final phase it has been interesting to note the speed with which the ATP hierarchy has shrugged off the claims of their being widespread gambling within the world of Men’s Tennis and that certain players had been paid to “ throw matches” . In a report actually commissioned by Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) which governs the men’s sport , they went on to state that the evidence was inconclusive but they would take it under advisement pending a meeting of their Executive Committee before issuing a formal statement. The fact that sixteen of the world’s top fifty players were named in this report, should be a cause for concern, not only among the fans of the game but also for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) but also the IOC (International Olympic Committee) .

Novak Djokovic the world number one among the Men’s Rankings has seen his name associated with this report and the player has acknowledged the fact that early in his career he had been approached to throw a game , which in the end he refused to do.

The Australian Open has always been the first official Grand Slam Tournament on the tennis schedule for the game’s calendar year. Many of the world’s top-ranked men and women will be competing at the event in Melbourne , Australia , with the Men’s Finals taking place on Sunday and the Women’s Finals on Saturday afternoon. This two-week event takes its toll on the players both mentally and physically because of the humidity and heat which remains constant throughout the tournament . Serena Williams will be looking to make a successful start to the season as she once again looks to possibly rewrite tennis history.

Serbian. Novak Djokovic a five-time champion at the Australian Open will simply be looking to solidify his position atop of the Men’s Rankings and win his sixth title at this particular event. The story itself concerning gambling within the sport of tennis is nothing new , but what might be considered unnerving has been the fact the ATP hierarchy has not taken the claims of the investigation seriously, albeit , in the past , at least three players within the rankings have either been fined or suspended after allegations were proven that they had thrown matches for financial gain , to the benefit of the illegal bookmakers bribing the players in the match fixing.

Tennis alongside , professional soccer on the continent of Europe, has long been a target of not only organized crime and their involvement with gambling on sports , but there are claims now being made , many of these criminal enterprises and syndicates would like to ultimately make their way across the Atlantic, get a firm foothold in North America and a piece of the multi-billion dollar gambling industry which takes place here, covering the entire gamut of sports at the collegiate and professional level. We know from years past, illegal wagering and the shaving of points , have taken place within the world of College Basketball . Within College Football and the NFL , one could make allegations , there too , such activity might well have been widespread , but as we know , it is not something the NCAA or the NFL would like to discuss openly in public.

From my own perspective with their being so much money awash within the world collegiate sports and at the professional level , claims of match fixing . corruption and bribery will always be common place and no matter how much oversight is said to be taking place , somewhere and somehow those involved will always be able to find a way to elude the very people said to be overseeing the sport. Does anyone truly believe the sport of boxing remains clean and is still above reproach given the lack of oversight by the numerous international governing bodies now presiding over the sport ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on the points raised within this article.

Tophatal ….. 01/29/2016

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Tit for tat …

With the weekend results now in within the NFL the constant there appears to be with regard to the postseason , has been the fact any showdown between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will draw the nation to their television sets.

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Granted, when the New England Patriots play as the guests of the Denver Broncos , this game will be the marquee match-up of the conference championship games being played next weekend. Regular season and postseason meeting between these two prolific quarterbacks have become drama and a thrill ride ever since these two players entered the league. It would not be remiss to suggest the NFC championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers will be taking a backseat to the AFC championship game. There Carson Palmer will seeking to create an upset with the elimination of the Panthers, but I believe with the season had by Cam Newton we are likely to see Newton and the Panthers make their first appearance in the Superbowl !

Back to the AFC contest and the expectations for Broncos’ head coach Gary Kubiak , his coaching staff and in particular Peyton Manning. Kubiak succeeded John Fox and now having taken the team to the brink of another Superbowl appearance , the thought has to be ,can Manning guide the team to another Superbowl victory, which would be the second of his illustrious career ? As the Denver Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlem seeks to overcome his medical issues the debilitating illness of early onsets of dementia , it has to be said beyond the drama off the field , there will be a great deal of drama on the field when this game kicks off.

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(1) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots has another postseason meeting with Peyton Manning (18) when the two teams meet in the AFC championship game this upcoming weekend. Brady has met Manning on several occasions during the postseason and regular season with a favorable record overall. AP Photo/ Matt Wilson

 

An exceptional season for the Carolina Panthers coming within earshot of only the second unbeaten season in NFL history , since the inception of the sixteen-game regular season schedule. The Panthers’ lone defeat came at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons , where Panther’ head coach Ron Rivera rested several of his starters during the waning during the second half of the game , leading to their 15-1 record . It was perhaps in the Panthers’ best interest to have lost the game and concentrate on the ultimate goal of the postseason and a Superbowl victory. Getting past the Arizona Cardinals will prove to be a tough task, but not an impossible one for the best team in the NFL. It is a game where the two opposing head coaches Bruce Arians and Ron River a will have show all of their acumen , once this contest gets a full head of steam.

With the recent announcement by wide receiver Reggie Wayne , it is intent to retire from the NFL , this Hall of Fame bound player steps away from the game and he has to be recognized as one of the best players of his era at the wide receivers’ position. His career stats place him in the upper echelons of his contemporaries, as well as his peers . His relationship with former teammate Peyton Manning is well-respected by both players and among their contemporaries. Wayne was unable to find a permanent team during this past season and now with his career having wound down , there is no need for him to assess where he ranks among his peers.

If one of Reggie Wayne’s contemporaries Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions has seriously mulled retirement , then one has to consider his position and the fact his talents have been wasted with the Lions over the past five years. The struggles of the franchise have been well-chronicled and the brunt of this malaise has to borne out by Ford family as the owners of the Lions and the clear ineptitude shown by the front office as well as the list of head coaches to have held the position over the last decade. Who can forget their 0-16 season, where the team at the time , from week to week sank to new levels of ineptitude. .

I have long been a admirer of Calvin Johnson and his retiring from the game I would have to say , would come as a complete surprise ! Johnson’s angst is understandable , where another season of incompetence was there for everyone to see with the team’s failure this season in the NFC North and the lack of real progress seen with Matt Stafford. I believe Stafford to be overrated , with his continued failings there for everyone to see ! Calvin Johnson is not due to become a free agent until 2020 , but with the continued disillusion of the wide receiver there might well be a chance the front office might well relent and possibly trade the player , knowing they would be able to obtain a slew of players in return. It remains to be seen if GM Bob Quinn would believe such a deal to be in the Lions’ best interests. For the moment Jim Caldwell’s job appears to be safe as the head coach of the team and there is no apprehension on my part in believing another year of this team failing to make the postseason and Caldwell would be relieved of his position. For the moment Jim Caldwell’s job appears to be safe as the head coach of the team and there is no apprehension on my part in believing another year of this team failing to make the postseason and Caldwell would be relieved of his position !

Eight wins in two seasons and Lovie Smith’s coaching career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tenure with the franchise came to an abrupt end, after the decision was made to fire the head coach. Needless to say, the finger-pointing began with blames being apportioned right across the board. Idiotic praised, was heaped upon the shoulders of the team’s top , draft choice and the number one overall pick from this past season’s draft as Jameis Winston’s rookie season was an inauspicious one . A 6-10 season summed up the incompetence seen , even if Winston threw for over 3,000 yards and had a five-touchdown performance game for the Buccaneers . The only player on the team to have truly made an impact was running back Doug Martin who amassed over 1.200 rushing yards to finish among the top-ten rushers in the league for this past season..

Lovie Smith’s firing has led to the promotion of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter , who in his formal acceptance of the position stated , he would seek to improve the Buccaneers’ performance of the franchise . I believe it will be a tough task for a rookie head coach whose head could be on the chopping block.. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to have a revolving door with regard to the head coaches of the franchise over the eight seasons . Needless to say, GM Jason Licht’s position could come under a great deal of scrutiny during the upcoming season should the Buccaneers fail to contend. The only way is up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as this franchise seeks to reinvent themselves once again . Can it get any worse for this NFC South based franchise, whose only lasting moment of glory was their Superbowl victory over the Oakland Raiders ? This has been the only thing the Buccaneers’ fans have been able to cling unto for just over a decade. There is likely to be a big reassessment of the Buccaneers’ roster by the front office with several players likely to be jettisoned this off-season.

Other than the NBA , MLB and the NFL there are few sports in North America where a $20 million a year salary seems to be the norm. Within baseball , this stat is very much the norm , as too with basketball as well as football . Leading the way among the players with this classification are those with their guaranteed contracts , salaries and the fact a number of them have failed to live up to perceived expectations . With millions being paid out annually in salary commitments , it begs the question how can the NFL continue with their antitrust tax exempt status while teams at the drop of a hat, pending league approval , leaves a municipality in something of a rut ? Stadiums have been built for these professional franchises , whose owners are among some of the richest individuals in America.

With the recent announcement that the league hierarchy had granted their approval for the relocation of the St Louis Rams whose billionaire owner , Stanley Kroenke is the sixty-fourth richest individual listed on Forbes’ 400 list. Kroenke’s estimated $7.4 billion dwarfs many of his contemporaries within the league and the fact his franchise and the San Diego Chargers have been granted their relocation wish to move to the greater Los Angeles area.

Stanley Kroenke purchased a large tract of land in the city of Industry , California hoping to develop the acreage , with a stadium as well as commercial development, covering retail and entertainment concerns . The proposed stadium however is unlikely to be private-financed , with the belief , Kroenke and the league seeking the financing of the venture, coming by way of public funding (bond issue) jointly by the cities of Industry and Los Angeles . This proposal may well sit well with fans of the Rams, who would have yearned to see the NFL brought back to the greater Los Angeles area , but beyond that, their concerns on the impact to the infrastructure of the cities in question as well as the ongoing budgetary woes for both municipalities, isn’t within their sphere of thinking.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will continue to wax on lyrically concerning how competitive the league has become , its growing impact from an economic standpoint , which seems to be the only issue the commissioner can point to as a sign of positive growth. . Elsewhere, under his leadership, he remains an abysmal failure on a litany of issues encompassing the NFL . .Issues which the league has failed to address with any degree of their outcomes being long last ing much less being morally correct. .

As the NFL postseason comes into view what if anything are you hoping to see from the games being played this upcoming weekend ?

Tophatal …..

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Not on my watch …

Not on my watch

Well,the NFL regular season came to an end and teams seemingly squandered their chance at a postseason berth . With the wildcard round underway , the participants provided the fans with a great deal of excitement and disappointment and nowhere was this more prevalent than the games which saw the demise of both the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings . Both teams entered the postseason as divisional champions and were perhaps widely expected to make their way to the divisional round of the postseason. It was not to be for the Marvin Lewis coached Bengals as they completely fell apart in their astounding loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Cincinnati’s defensive player Vontaze Burfict imploded showing his wrath , denigrating officials , his head coach as well as opposing players on the Steelers’ roster. As to what this suggests about the Cincinnati Bengals , can best be summed up by simply stating this was a team completely out of control , with the coaching staff showing little, if any experience in their coaching acumen.

For Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings their loss might well as have been as dramatic as anything seen in the NFL over the past eight seasons in NFL postseason history. The continued knock against the Vikings will be the fact they are not as competitive as many believe them to be. It might well have been a complete fluke the team actually won the NFC North , but herein lies the issue for the franchise, Teddy Bridgewater the Vikings’ junior rookie quarterback still remains a work in progress , while the defense though steady , have yet to reach the level of consistency expected of a perennial championship contender. Adrian Peterson a year removed from his suspension , came back with something of vengeance , but he proved that a player of his caliber cannot do it all by himself. At this stage of Peterson’s career , I am not thoroughly convince Minnesota remains the best place for him to round out his career or the franchise gives him his best chance of winning a Superbowl !

With the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings now bowing out of the postseason, it’s now onto the divisional round of the NFL postseason where the match-ups become all the more intriguing.

The top seeds within the AFC and NFC will enter postseason play with the Carolina Panthers led by Cam Newton facing the Seattle Seahawks , while the Green Bay Packers will be the guests of the Arizona Cardinals. In the AFC Peyton Manning makes a welcome return to postseason play , while the idiot Brock Osweiler supporters, can simply shut the hell up with their idiocy of Osweiler being the immediate future for the Broncos. The backup quarterback in the last of his regular season performances proved himself to be barely adequate in his role , but many believed him to be the answer to the Broncos’ prayers. Denver will face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado on Saturday afternoon. The other AFC contest will feature defending Superbowl champions the New England Patriots facing the Kansas City Chiefs , with Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick seeking to win his fifth Superbowl title as a head coach. Belichick and Tom Brady should they win the title , can also use the spectacle as a poke in the eye of the NFL hierarchy for their ham-fisted approach in seeking to punish the player and franchise for their alleged actions in the Deflate-Gate Affair. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy are still hoping to punish the player albeit , after their suspension of Brady was overturned in a US Federal Court Judicial process. Goodell is adamant the quarterback is guilty of the allegations, but the league’s own evidence supporting the charges are circumstantial and held very little merit.

When your teams’ season can only be viewed as a disaster , then there isn’t a great which can be done to appease your fans other than to uproot your franchise and move elsewhere. With the recent announcement that the NFL has granted their wish to see both the San Diego Chargers and St Louis Rams back in the city of Los Angeles. The one question I have to ask, will the league seek to make their feasibility study on the issue public or will we simply have to take their word this is in the best interests of both teams as well as the city of Los Angeles along with their residents ? This much is abundantly clear, the taxpayers are on the hook for this whole process from a financial standpoint. The NFL as constituted , is seen as a not for profit business, but repeatedly , all Roger Goodell has sought to address throughout his tenure , has been the rise in revenues, the profitability of the teams and the league’s growing expansion around the globe. Never let it be said , the league hierarchy actually cares about the fans , much less the players, who are essentially overpaid subjugated slaves.

For the moment it would appear the St Louis Rams are a definite go with their return to Los Angeles set for 2016, but the San Diego Chargers have not yet made their thoughts known on the league’s approval. Alex Spanos and his family as the owners of the Chargers will likely move , with arrangements being made for a venue to be made available for the team’s home games in 2016. Where this now leaves the Oakland Raiders and their long-held ambitions to also make a return to Los Angeles is just about anyone’s guess at this juncture. As to the thoughts the Raiders would be a playing a greater part in determining the AFC West title. Well that came and went with the absurdity of the team’s performances on the field of play last season !

In what has to be seen as one of the best national title games in recent College Football history , as Alabama rolled past the Clemson Tigers , with both teams putting on an exhilarating display of football. Nick Saban claimed his fifth title as a collegiate head coach , while Alabama (Crimson Tide) won their fourth title in the past eight years . The Crimson Tide will round out their year as the national champions , ranked number one again and have to be seen as a prohibitive favorite for the national title next season. DeShaun Watson and Derrick Henry solidified their respective positions as two of the best players in College Football during 2015,

The Golden State Warriors’ indomitable start to the season and their continued dominance has placed this team among the most consistent seen in recent NBA history. In the absence of Steve Kerr , Luke Walton is proving himself to be of considerable worth to the franchise as the team’s head coach. In all likelihood , Walton could very well end up being a head coach with a team at the start of next season. All signs now seem to be pointing to this and it only seems a matter of time before it all becomes a reality. Steph Curry , Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are the primary reasons why the Warriors have been so good this season. As to the nay-saying idiots seeking to detract from Thompson’s play this season , perhaps they need to be reminded this is a team game and solely about individual glory?

Golden State in their most recent contest took care of the Miami Heat with consummate ease getting by their Eastern Conference opponents on their way to an eight-point victory . The Warriors next game will see them on the road when they face the Denver Nuggets in a Western Conference road contest . Golden State is well on its way to nothing up their fortieth win of the season, leading their closest rivals by a considerable margin in the wins’ tally .

While the Golden State Warriors have remained dominant the same cannot be said for the Brooklyn Nets , who in mid-season have decided to rid themselves of head coach Lionel Hollins and general manager Billy King, The upheaval within the front office with King’s dismissal was not unexpected bu the firing of Hollins , may well have caught everyone by surprise. While there may well be justification for the coach’s dismissal , a great deal of the blame must rest on the shoulders of the team’s billionaire Russian entrepreneur , mogul and owner Mikhail Prokhovorov. The owner gave cart-blanche for King to try and outspend their rivals in assembling a high priced roster which was all to no avail repeatedly over the past five seasons. The fact, the current roster bears no likeness to the roster fielded during the 2012-13 season , should give you an indication as to how far things have come with this franchise and the present predicament they now find themselves in .

Tony Brown is now the interim head coach of Brooklyn Nets and I believe it is unlikely he will be given the position on a full-time basis. Rumors are now already in motion , with the front office seeking to gauge the interest of Kentucky Wildcats’ head coach John Calipari. Calipari does have NBA experience having been a former head coach of the Nets , but I believe he is far too comfortable in his role and clearly doesn’t want to deal with the bloated egos of the players at the professional level. Besides, he’s the coach of one of the most envied and wildly known programs in all of Men’s College Basketball.

Over their last fifteen games played the Brooklyn Nets have labored during the time-span in question.The Nets’ last victory came by way of a win over the Boston Celtics on the 2nd January, a span of six games , during which the Nets posted an anemic 1-5 record. Tony Brown will now prepare the Brooklyn Nets for a Wednesday night game against conference rivals the New York Knicks which will be played at the Barclays Center , Brooklyn, New York. Considering the intense rivalry between these two teams over the past three seasons this contest should tell us a great deal about the directions the two clubs are heading in .

For the New York Knicks this season has been something of an indifferent year , with the team having its struggles, but suddenly showing some signs of life. Derek Fisher might well be finally coming into his own as an NBA coach . The Knicks find themselves in second place within the Atlantic Division behind the Toronto Raptors(24-15) and with the team playing some credible basketball.

Sitting mid-table within the Eastern Conference , the New York Knicks might well be considered a playoff contender , but I feel the team is still a long way off from where they need to be ! How the Knicks fare over the remainder of the season will be predicated on the mindset of the team.

Pat Riley , now a senior executive with the Miami Heat has an association with the well-known NBA franchises., with his first professional mark coming as a player with the New York Knicks , also as a head coach with the New York Knicks , finally to be followed with the Heat. Having been the architect of all three champions successes for the Miami Heat., you can well understand why his success has left an indelible mark with all three NBA franchises. This season for the Miami Heat , without LeBron James having left the team after their last title , the franchise now finds it self at a crossroads. Their two elder statesmen Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are now in the twilight of their respective careers. Amare’ Stoudemire is proving to be nothing more than a stop-gap measure, even if his salary is deemed minimal . Yet , there might be nothing more Pat Riley would like to prove to his detractors, than to win another title without four-time League MVP LeBron James . His departure from the Heat might not have created a great deal of anger, but in some circles it was deemed James felt he was ill-served by Riley’s unwillingness to bolster the roster .

Erik Spoelstra as the Miami Heat head coach along with the coaching staff have worked diligently to have the team playing with a great deal of resolve, This can be seen with the play of several of the Heat’s youngsters on the playing staff, while the veterans also continue to show they have what it takes. Whether not the Heat has what it takes to beat the best in the East , we will have to take under advisement. Miami over their last eight games have been fairly competitive , but the feeling remains consistency , year-long will be the key for the team. In their last contest the Miami Heat fell to the Golden State Warriors in a 111-103 loss, with the defending champions showing why they continue to have the better of the Eastern Conference. Miami will be on the court Wednesday night when they face the Los Angeles Clippers led by Blake Griffin and Chris Paul .

How bad can an NBA franchise be and why does the NBA hierarchy allow teams to intentionally tank their seasons , while the fans are actually being defrauded ? Oblivious to this all, are some of the idiot fans and analysts who subscribe to the belief a team will be able to resurrect their fortunes by way of the NBA Draft . It doesn’t appear to be working out for the Philadelphia 76ers as their season continues to implode before our very eyes.

Joshua Harris as owner of the 76ers has been extremely negligent from a business and competitive standpoint , concerning the franchise over the past six seasons. Brett Brown and the coaching staff remain completely out of their depth. The firing of Sam Hinkie as the general manager will not cure what ails this franchise and I seriously doubt the hiring of Jerry Colangelo to head the franchise’s Basketball Operations will lead to an immediate turnaround in the short or long-term ! Key players such as the Sixers’ last two first round picks , I certainly don’t believe will be sticking around to play for an noncompetitive organization. Harris for his part, has sought to apportion blame elsewhere for the team’s continued woes, when he has been just as complicit in the debacle as the players and coaching staff in recent years.

Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid have yet to make their mark for the Sixers and in all likelihood both players will continue to struggle with the franchise. If the coaching staff is unable to get the best out of these two young players then the chances of Philadelphia getting better anytime soon will not be happening for the foreseeable future. Free agents will be unwilling to come to a franchise where there is no track record of recent success. Cap space availability now and next season doesn’t portend to anything meaningful. Granted, with the acumen of Jerry Colangelo , anything is possible , but as I have stated before the damage has already been done , due to the negligence shown by Joshua Harris.

At no point during their season have the Philadelphia 76ers been able to put together a winning streak of two games or more and considering their record it is easy to understand the reasons why !

Statistically , beyond the lack of coaching acumen shown by Philadelphia 76ers, the fact there seems to be some sort of pleasure being gleamed from the ineptitude indicated , there is no way the NBA hierarchy can continue to suborn this type of incompetency and believe it best serves the interests of the league . It is an insult to the fans of the game and if nothing else indicates the league’s top executives are just profit-driven and not much more beyond that ! The Sixers for their part , can continue to be among the least supported teams in the league alongside being its worst .

Do you believe professional sports’ hierarchies have an obligation to ensure the fans are provided with the best product available or just there to simply make money for their teams ?

Tophatal ……..

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” As We Enter” … Nas & Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley

 

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning …

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning !

Well, in the  aftermath a tumultuous  NFL season we now know the twelve teams   to have made the NFL postseason. The New Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are the two top-seeds within the AFC, leaving the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals as the top seeded contenders within the NFC.

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Results   emanating   from Sunday’s games left us in no doubt who the top teams were within the    conferences after the two hundred and fifty-six games played. As usual with the postseason approaching , speculation will be raised to the possible coaching carousel likely to take place. There is the likelihood we might well have seen the last game coached by Tom Coughlin   as the head coach of the  New York Giants   after the team’s rather embarrassing loss to divisional rivals the Philadelphia Eagles.

With Chip Kelly’s abrupt firing by the Eagles’ front office , the number of coaches terminated this season are numbered at four , with the recent dismissals of Mike Pettine with the Cleveland Browns and Jim Tomsula with the San Francisco 49ers . As abysmal a season had by each of the teams in question , they were not the franchises with the worst record in the NFL during the 2015 regular season schedule . That accolade belonged to none other than the Tennessee Titans (3-13) a mark which was also shared with the Brown. What this might suggest about both teams can be best summed by their results over the course of the season and their statistical play throughout.

With the top two teams in each conference having a bye in the wildcard round of the postseason , teams seeded three through six will begin the playoffs with the scheduled games due. Those match-ups are likely to prove very intriguing with perhaps the best of the bunch being the NFC contest , which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the Minnesota Vikings . The two opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson of the Seahawks and Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings, will provide the fans to see two of the more productive passers within the NFC this season.

Though we have not yet reached the midway point of the NBA season there can be no denying which team has been the best in the league at this point of the schedule. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have set a blistering pace leaving others in their wake . Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr , in his absence has seen his understudy Luke Walton guide the team with a great deal of coaching acumen , leading a number of analysts to believe, Walton will likely be pursued by a number of teams at the end of the season, once the customary firings begin to take place. There are likely to be at least six teams seeking the former player’s services, but I do believe he will be reluctant to leave, unless his desired destination is with a franchise where there is a more than reasonable chance of success.

Coming off another victory , Curry and his teammates will next take to the court to face the Charlotte Hornets at the Oracle Arena , Oakland, California on Monday, 4th January . This should prove be an easy win for the Warriors against an Eastern Conference opponent given the team’s record against the conference and their record at home . The Hornets for their part will be looking to keep apace within their conference as well as against a Western Conference opponent where the team has had relatively little success this season.

The Los Angles Lakers (8-27) and the Philadelphia 76ers (3-33) have combined for eleven regular season wins at this point of the season , having played roughly thirty-five games. It would be fair to suggest both teams could very well end up with what would be franchise lows in terms of regular season victories. There also appears to a remote possibility the Sixers are well on their of equaling the NBA league-low number for regular season wins, a mark held by 1973 Philadelphia 76ers .Wins have been have been very difficult to come by for this Brett Brown coached Sixers’ team . Philadelphia’s last victory came on the 30th December when they defeated the Sacramento Kings by the score of 110-105. The team’s next game will be a home contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday evening.

For Byron Scott and the Los Angeles Lakers , their season has been one of sheer ineptitude with only sparing glimpses of Kobe Bryant at his best among the players on the Lakers’ roster. It is hard to envisage where the Lakers now go from here , as GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss have very few alternatives with regard to the depth on the roster. Capable perhaps of only playing for their self-respect, the Los Angeles Lakers do not appear to have a short-term, much less a long-term strategy once Kobe Bryant has played his last game for the franchise. Bryant made it official , this would indeed be his last year with the Lakers , formally announcing his retirement for the end of this season. Unlikely to be a major player in the free agency market , salary dumping or otherwise, Kupchak can only seek to assess the current crop of Los Angeles Lakers’ players and go from there with regard to rebuilding the roster. With a game coming up against the Golden State Warriors , which will be on the road , it will be interesting to see how the team will fare against a conference opponent , the reigning NBA champions .

The College Basketball season is now in full swing and with the teams gearing up towards ‘March Madness’ ,and it has been an interesting season , which has meandered its way through a slew of games. Seated atop of the rankings are the Kansas Jayhawks (12-1) under head coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks’ team . Wayne Selden , Perry Ellis and Frank Mason are the leading scorers for the Jayhawks , but a great deal of praise this season has been heaped upon Ben Simmons of the LSU Tigers . Simmons is considered to be a consensus first round lottery pick and the likely number one choice of the team privileged to have the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft . Judging by his game that is not without merit for a player whose all-round skill-set has been compared to has been compared to four-time NBA League MVP and Cleveland Cavaliers’ player LeBron James . Great praise indeed, but I believe it to be way too premature to be making such comparisons ! The LSU Tigers have an upcoming game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Bill Self and his Kansas Jayhawks will have pride of place when they tip off against the Oklahoma Sooners in a battle of top-ten ranked teams.

We know the SEC to be the best conference in College Basketball and there can be no questioning of that very fact. The programs within the conference, speaks volumes as to the quality of play witnessed each year. Florida are now going it alone without Billy Donovan going as the head coach of the program. His successor Mike White is being asked to fill a big pair shoes after the considerable success achieved by Donovan during his reign. Florida is off to an inauspicious start to their season and their most recent game was an exhilarating victory over the Georgia Bulldogs with a fourteen-point 77-63 win . White and the Gators will be on the road to face the Tennessee Volunteers in a contest which should bring out the best in both teams.

I have to admit in recent years I have grown tired of the sport of boxing ! It remains corrupt , devoid of real leadership at the international level and most notably without any real transparency by way of leadership here in North America. The USBA which is affiliated to the IBF remains a constant joke, like many of the international counterparts which now hold sway over the sport internationally. Consider the fact there is no undisputed champion in any of weight categories and it is easy to understand why this sport is dying on its knees and close to being in need to resuscitation.

Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao may well have brought back a certain amount of excitement in what was Mayweather’s last professional bout which saw close out his career with an unbeaten 49-0 record. In reality however, this fight was five years too late and simply lacked the excitement the fans truly hoped for . Lackluster, would be too soft a word to describe the title fight , where both fighters walked away with an estimated $300 million to split between them , Mayweather taking the larger slice of the purse before taking into account another $200 million in television rights from the overseas sales and merchandising revenues grossed.

From my own perspective , I believe Floyd Mayweather will make a return to the ring to push his record to 50-0 . Mayweather has not really fought anyone of consequence in the past four years and even though his resume’ boasts and unbeaten record , along with multiple title defenses , one could suggest the record might well stand the test of time , but it truly lacks the hyperbole many believe it deserves.

Several boxers at the welterweight and light middleweight division would undoubtedly like to head into the ring and got toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather, but herein lies the caveat with the unbeaten fighter. He cherry-picks his opponents and simply added insult to injury , when he chose Andre Berto , to push his record to 49-0 . Berto was certainly undeserving of a title shot and the fact he was not high enough within the welterweight category clearly indicated the titleholder wanted a “patsy ” in the opposite corner for his last professional bout.

It has been ten years since the heavyweight category last had an undisputed champion with the last titleholder of the titles being British fighter Lennox Lewis. Since Lewis’ retirement from the ring there have several claimants to the differing established belts as recognized by the four main international governing bodies. Unfortunately, the entities in question have failed to give the fans what they yearned , a unified and undisputed champion. Siblings Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko for years, each held claim to one version of the title but refused to defend their versions against each , seeking to unify the division. With Vitali having retired it was left to Wladimir to reign supreme over the division , which in many ways he had done with a string of successful defenses, against less than credible opponents.

Yet in what was believed to a bout where he was considered to be a clear-cut favorite , he fell to the boxing skills of Tyson Fury of Great Britain in what some considered to be one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history. The bout itself was far from being an instant classic but what it lacked in drama was made up for with the passion shown by the challenger as he wrestled away the title from the Ukrainian champion. However, in what one could only deem as farcical the IBF (International Boxing Federation) has seen fit to strip Tyson Fury of the belt he legitimately won in the ring. The explanation if it is to be believed, smacks of stupidity on the part of the governing body and from the former titleholder , Wladimir Klitschko , who was said to be not only upset with the decision rendered by the judges in a fight he lost in a unanimous decision, but also by the fact Fury sought not to grant him an immediate rematch within ninety days. If boxing has a flaw , then it is one of its own self-importance and indulgence , where the fighters themselves lack as much credibility as the various governing bodies which preside over the sport.

Boxing has lost a great deal of credibility around the globe, albeit , if there are claims it remains the one pugilistic and combative art form every fight fan yearns for . I am not so sure those claims are any longer legitimate and can be proven. While boxing has seen a marked decline , the rapid rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) now under the banner of the UFC , seems to be giving fans something they really yearn for. UFC has brought legitimacy and business acumen to a sport which has now become the fastest growing participant sport across the globe. Many of the fighters within the UFC stable of MMA stars are fast becoming recognized names as well Hollywood action stars and crossover celebrities. Suffice to say, the UFC hierarchy under Dana White has struck box-office gold , even if White is considered to be a dictatorial executive.

Ronda Rousey’s shocking and surprising loss to Holly Holm may well prove to be a welcome change for the sport and actually shape the direction and open even more opportunities for women who might see an interest in entering the genre. Rousey created a buzz needed when many felt MMA had lost some of its appeal. Now with her defeat, her drive and eagerness to reclaim her Bantamweight title could be the best thing to happen to Women’s MMA as well as the UFC in general.

In recent months several champions have seen their reigns come to an end within the UFC and added new honorees within the sport. It could well be seen as a good thing for MMA and its viability long-term if the excitement created can be maintained . Certainly , Dana White is taking a new approach of growing the UFC brand globally as well as expanding across North America , with the executive’s biggest wish being to see the sport be granted the license to promote and stage events in New York State.

For some strange reason the State Legislature of New York State sees no need to grant a license and continues to show their disapproval of a sport they deem barbaric. Last I looked, with the issues stemming from the NFL and how that particular league hierarchy has dealt with the issues of chronic head trauma , I would have to say the New York State Athletic Commission has been oblivious to the idiocy of Paul Tagliabue and his successor Roger Goodell , who have somehow chosen to remain in the dark ages as to the deniability of the damages caused from years of brutal head to head helmet contract driven by the physicality of football within the NFL. The league itself , still seeks to challenge the multi-billion dollar settlement obtained by retired by players in a Federal Appeals Court ruling , while also seeking reinstate their four—game suspension of Tom Brady for his alleged involvement in Deflate-Gate. Begs the question, at what point will both the New York State Athletic Commission and the NFL hierarchy actually wake up and smell the coffee , much less the napalm ?

Sports in general as always is in need of a good shakeup , be it at the competitive level or among its hierarchical leadership structure. One thing for sure, without real change , things tend to stagnate and show signs of recession rather than real growth or excitement.

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Pick your poison …..

Pick your poison …

The NFL season has proven to be a great deal more than many would be willing to admit and now the consensus and debate is whether or not Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton is a deserving winner of this year’s NFL League MVP. From my standpoint , with Newton having led the Panthers to an unbeaten 14-0 season , with two games left to be played . It would take an idiot to bet against the player and his possibly leading them as only the second franchise in NFL history to go unbeaten during the NFL’s sixteen-game regular season schedule. There might well be a sense of foreboding , with the fact the last team do so, the New England , having gone 16-0 , would then fall to the New York Giants in the Superbowl .

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Ron Rivera and his coaching staff have the team playing some explosive football, with Carolina being impressive all season-long with their statistics bearing this out. Yet, this has all been a collective effort from just about every player on the roster. From the rookies to the seasoned veterans , everyone has somehow played a part in what has become a historic run for the Panthers. With two games left to the regular season schedule, it will be very interesting to see how Carolina continues to navigate their season. Singular glory asides, I believe Cam Newton would rather lead the Panthers to their first appearance and victory in the Superbowl ! Newton has performed admirably throughout the season , having set career-bests and now placing himself as a dual-threat and not what one would deem to be the NFL prototypical quarterback .

Passing league or not , the NFL is in need of a player to assume the mantel soon to be relinquished by the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees . Granted , Aaron Rodgers to my mind , has been the best quarterback in the league over the past six seasons has proven himself to be among the elite players at the position and is slowly carving out a career which will likely see him inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio upon his being eligible.

Having gotten the better of the New York Giants in their most recent game , the Panthers defeated the Giants in a close and highly contested contest . The two NFC stalwarts gladiatorial in the contest with it being highly physical. Though Carolina Panthers were victorious , the game will certainly be remembered for the thug-like antics of Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr , whose infantile behavior and lack of maturity , is showing him in a negative light. Throughout much of the game , Beckham was constantly under pressure from Panther’s defensive player Josh Norman and with the receiver having dropped a number of passes thrown his way by teammate Eli Manning, it was easy to understand Beckham’s frustration. However, what was totally abhorrent, was Odell Beckham’s attempt in trying to decapitate the Panther’s defensive back during the game.

While we all know taunting is prevalent during games between opposing players during NFL games , what is now becoming a regular occurrence. is the continued taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct. Beckham was given one-game suspension for his conduct , while Norman went unpunished for his conduct. If the league hierarchy cannot deal with such issues aggressively and adequately, then the type of behavior shown will continue to be a pattern within the game.

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will seek to keep their fourteen-game winning streak intact when they face the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional road game on Sunday evening . This is a game, which I believe will a lopsided contest favoring the road team , one which could end up rather embarrassingly for the Falcons. Though the Atlanta Falcons leads the series 27-14 with the two teams having met forty-one times over the two decades during which the contests have taken place. In their most recent meetings , it was Carolina winning both games in 2014, with Cam Newton prevailing over his divisional rival.

Matt Ryan , the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback will be expected to lead his team with authority. Something, I now believe he is incapable of doing with any degree of certainty , given Atlanta’s rapid decline this season. Thomas Dimitroff’s position as the general manager is certainly being scrutinized by team owner Arthur Blank and I also believe Ryan’s own long-term future with the franchise is in jeopardy. Granted , the Falcons have a considerable sum invested in their quarterback, who has failed to deliver when it has mattered the most and his dismal season , has only further emphasized the issues which continue to dog Matt Ryan as a player.

If there is a “ call to arms “ , which players are most likely to meet the call and lead by example ? It’s said to be the quarterbacks’ duty to lead and his teammates will likely to follow. Of late , I have a great deal of idiocy surrounding, how Brock Osweiler was meant to be the face and future of the Denver Broncos , much of this having been based one game , where Osweiler led the Broncos to a victory over a disheveled New England Patriots’ team. In the past two weeks Peyton Manning’s understudy has shown the NFL he is not yet ready to actually take over the reins from the future Hall of Fame bound player. Denver for its part , has been struggling in recent games , though their postseason aspirations are not necessarily in jeopardy. One has to wonder , if Brock Osweiler has the temperament to lead the Denver Broncos on a deep playoff run, much less Gary Kubiak being able to show real signs of coaching acumen. Kubiak’s postseason record can be best described as mediocre .

This weekend with the teams lining up for their penultimate game of the regular season schedule , it will be interesting to see the end results will be . The San Diego Chargers will kick off this part of the schedule with a divisional game against the Oakland Raiders , in a contest during which both teams will be looking for some form of salvation. Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos will have a tough game on their and quite possibly be in for a rude awakening, when they meet the Cincinnati Bengals a formidable conference foe . Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be the guests of the New York Jets in what is likely to be seen as a “ must-win game” for the Jets. There is a very meaningful game taking place on Sunday afternoon, when the Washington Redskins take on the Philadelphia Eagles , with the victor likely in the driver’s seat concerning the destination of the NFC East divisional title. All that you might well need to concerning the division, is that it remains one of the worst in the entire NFL.

Chip Kelly as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach has presided over the steady decline of the franchise since his being introduced as its head coach . A lone postseason appearance coming in 2013, saw the Eagles fall in the wildcard round of the NFL postseason in a game against the New Orleans Saints led by their quarterback Drew Brees.

A Philadelphia Eagles’ loss and we might as well begin to ask how long before team owner Jeff Lurie makes the decision to fire both Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman ? Clearly, the two inspire about as much confidence as a blind man playing hopscotch in the middle of a mine-field. We know stuff gets blown up , but Roseman has countenanced every dumb move made by Kelly , allowing the head coach unparalleled latitude with his decision-making concerning the team’s roster . Chip Kelly on his best day couldn’t spot NFL talent , much less coach it , if he were given the proper tools to do so. Kelly’s teams in the NFL have lacked finesse and they certainly have no propensity to play defense , but yet there are moronic fools repeatedly jumping to defense, believing him to be a very good NFL head coach. That is about as inspiring as suggesting Roger Goodell has been a great asset to the NFL as its top executive. Goodell has presided over a popular league , but he remains weak and indifferent when dealing with a litany of issues facing the NFL.

Among the top contenders of candidates for this season’s NFL Rookie of The Year , the consensus appears to be Todd Gurley , Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are the best of a really bad bunch of NFL rookies in 2015. All three have had their moments this season in the NFL, but the trio also play on very bad teams who are not even in contention for even their divisional titles much less a postseason berth . I would also throw in Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders , but again as before, he is playing on an exceptionally bad team. While I get the fact the award to reward a player for their season-long contributions achievements within the league during their rookie season. I can’t help but feel, rewarding so-called excellence when your team just happens to be bad , is nothing more than giving a child a lollipop after they have finished in the bottom-half of a Spelling Bee Competition !

Would you also like to have some cheese with your wine and continued whining ? There has to be something said when three NFL quarterbacks, having signed multi-million dollar deals have put together a string of performances this season that have you feeling depressed and the thought beyond their being overpaid, you could actually do better. Joe Flacco , Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler are three such quarterbacks, where the blame can be in part be laid for the abysmal seasons of the Baltimore Ravens , San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears . Obviously , all three teams will be in action during week sixteen with the Ravens taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers , the Forty Niners facing the Detroit Lions and the Bears taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of these games given their status, should prove to be eventful and at the samepoint last season teams were in the waning moments of their respective schedules.

Head coaches in some cases are coaching with job-survival being on the line and there is no doubt in my mind , we are likely to see several coaching turnovers during the off-season. Jim Caldwell is likely on the “outs “ with the Detroit Lions and similar fates could also await Mike Pettine, Bill O’Brien , Chip Kelly , Jim Tomsula and Sean Payton . It remains to be seen whether or not , Jerry Jones will finally admit the Jason Garrett era must finally come to an abrupt end after another disastrous season by the Dallas Cowboys .

Jason Garrett will prepare the team for their road game against the Buffalo Bills , where Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan is facing an internal mutiny among his players after their lackluster season and not understanding Ryan’s often blurred coaching strategies. It seems almost nonsensical to suggest the number of stories written concerning the calls for Jason Garrett’s dismissal or calls simply for Jerry Jones to relinquish his position as the Cowboys’ general manager. The loss of Tony Romo due to injury , simply added to the Dallas’ woes for the season and essentially place the team on their current path to one of their worst finishes in franchise history in recent seasons. . Jerry Jones is unlikely to be forced to heed the calls for Garrett’s firing , as it would simply prove his mistake in hiring the incumbent head coach as the successor to Bill Parcells .

For Sean Payton and the complacency shown by the New Orleans Saints, is slowly emphasizing what we already knew , having won a Superbowl and the aftermath of ‘ Bounty-gate Scandal’ , there was nothing left in the tank and Payton’s coaching acumen was indeed slipping. Take into account the departure of several key players over the last three seasons and you now have to wonder where the Saints can now go from here . The New Orleans Saints are no longer a match for the Carolina Panthers’ and Cam Newton has to be considered the best quarterback in the NFC South , not just based on this season , but also over the past three years. His ascent while Drew Brees’ steady decline seems to be providing us with a stark reality of what is now happening within the division. Sorry Matt Ryan , but you were never going to be part of this equation as you are soft , softer than a baby’s ass a matter of fact ! Brees and the Saints will seek to redeem themselves when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, as the two teams meet at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in New Orleans , Louisiana , on Sunday afternoon.

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As the regular season comes to a close, which teams do you feel have been a failure and which teams do you believe will be in the hunt for the Superbowl ?

Tophatal …………

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The case of the man in the moon …

The case of the man in the moon …

Somehow, in the wake of the horrors of the events which took place in Paris, France with the world taking a moment to mourn the loss of the victims. The sports’ world paid their condolences to the victims’ families. In the UFC , in what has to be deemed the most shocking event in the genre’s history the Women’s Bantamweight Champion , former Olympic judo medalist Ronda Rousey saw her unbeaten run come to an end, as she was defeated by challenger Holly Holm with a second-round knockout.

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For Holm , the unbeaten challenger and now champion, this was the biggest win of her career. Calls for a rematch now seem to be a certainty , with UFC President Dana White knowing a return bout between the two would be an instant sellout and a major PPV draw. Rousey has been the biggest draw in the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) since her debut. Her charisma has attracted a slew of female and male fans , along with young girls now seeing the former champion as something of a role model. It hasn’t hurt also, with Ronda Rousey having carved out something of a niche, as a budding action star, with revelations that she will be the lead , in a revamped remake of the Patrick Swayze action drama “Roadhouse” .

For the moment however, Rousey will be looking to prepare for her rematch against the newly crowned champion Holly Holm. UFC 193, the event where the shocking result took place, will likely prove to be a major revenue winner by way of PPV broadcast views and ancillary rights for the UFC. A win-win situation for everyone involved in the event , including both the main fight card headliners , Holm and Rousey.

I am not so sure what can be learned from week ten of the NFL schedule , other than to suggest there were one or two teams who are now falling way short of expectations for the season. Inexplicable losses on the road as well as at home may well have led to a great deal of frustration among the fans as well as the coaching staffs of the franchises around the league. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were able to pull off a last-minute come from behind victory , defeating the New York Giants by the narrowest of margins eking out a one-point 27-26 victory , with kicker Stephen Gostkowski being the hero of the day. With the win the Patriots, moved their record to 9-0 . leading the AFC East by a healthy margin , with Bill Belichick likely now preparing the team for their week eleven contest against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro’ , Massachusetts, on Monday , 23rd November, 2015.

Of the more unexpected results , we witnessed the losses suffered by the Denver Broncos falling to divisional rivals the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers seemingly falling apart at the seams , losing to the Detroit Lions. Those defeats suffered , might not have as lasting an effect on the teams in question, but in the case of the New Orleans Saints and their thirty-point plus loss to the Washington Redskins , this might well have put the final nail in the coffin for the Saints and their inept season.

Sean Payton as the head coach of the Saints , is now left wondering what went wrong during his team’s 47-14 loss to the Redskins. The defeat was the New Orleans’ worst loss of the season and likely leading to some major shakeups to the roster before the Saints meet their week twelve opponents the Houston Texans on the 29th November, 2015. Week eleven will be a bye-week for the Saints as the coaching staff and players look to reassess the issues of the team.

A seven-game losing streak hasn’t yet convinced Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys front office , this team is simply bereft of coaching acumen , leadership on and off the field of play. At the start of the season , Jones believed the Cowboys was capable of actually winning the Superbowl. Needless to say , Jerry Jones remains delusional and continues to live in the land of make belief. Sunday afternoon , was just another day at the office for the Dallas Cowboys, as the display from the players was as inept as any given during the seven game losing streak , accumulated by this team over the course of the season. The fact the Cowboys were facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have been a warning sign of things to come as their ineptitude , shown throughout the contest remained bewildering through four quarters.

In a low-scoring game, the Dallas’ offense could only muster six points and 216 yards of total offense . The two opposing quarterbacks combined for three interceptions , two fumbles and plethora of mistakes throughout the contest and questions are likely to be asked of Jason Garrett , the Cowboys’ coaching staff and the lack of commitment from the players on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster. Lovie Smith may well be smiling after the Buccaneers mind a numbingly boring 10-6 victory, but there was nothing about this win which could convince anyone the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still capable of gaining a wildcard berth for the NFL postseason. As to where this now leaves the Dallas Cowboys, can be best summed up by suggesting Jones and the front office are hoping for a high draft pick from the 2016 NFL Draft .

Ten games into the NBA season and needless to say, the Los Angeles Lakers(2-8) have been the butt of so many jokes , with continued criticism of Byron Scott , his coaching staff and the team . With Kobe Bryant back in the lineup and the team being inconsistent through season’s infancy , there is the belief the Lakers will continue to struggle over the remainder of the season. Coming off a twelve-point home victory over the Detroit Pistons this past Sunday , the win provided something of a respite for a team still in search of an identity .

On Monday night as the Los Angeles Lakers seek to keep the momentum going , they will get the opportunity when they meet another Western Conference counterpart , with the team meeting the Phoenix Suns in what is likely to be a thoroughly entertaining contest.

Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak, team owner & CEO Jim Buss will be hard pressed to turn things around at this juncture , with this likely being the last season of Kobe Bryant illustrious career . The five-time NBA champion will certainly be looking to go out with a “Big Bang” , but that is unlikely to happen this season given the Lakers’
woes
at this stage of their NBA schedule.

In their last game, played on the 14th November , Golden State toyed with the rather inept Brooklyn Nets on their way to an eight-point , 107-99 victory over the Eastern Conference based Nets. The Brooklyn Nets have been struggling and it seems unlikely the coaching staff led by Lionel Hollins knows how to get the team out of their current funk . In their next game the Brooklyn Nets will face the Atlanta Hawks in their home venue of the Barclays Center , Brooklyn, New York on the 17th November, 2015. The match-up should prove to be very interesting as the Nets seek to improve on their current record and stop their current losing streak, where Brooklyn are 1-9 in their last ten games . Only the Philadelphia 76ers have a worse losing streak (0-10) over the time-frame in question , which is no big a surprise , considering the 76ers’ record this season within the NBA .

It would not be remiss to suggest the front office of the Philadelphia 76ers remain without a clue and they are a badly ran franchise . Team owner Joshua Harris and GM Sam Hinkie seem bereft of intelligence , leaving many to wonder if their intent is simply to share in the spoils of war , when one considers how , profitable the NBA teams have become , seeing a sizable appreciation in the value of the franchises ?

Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach Brett Brown will be hard pressed to have this team playing with any type of resilience , when the coaching staff , itself not being able to find anything worthy from the players on the roster. Work in progress or not with the last two first round picks on the roster, but it is clear Brown and Sam Hinkie can no longer this malaise to continue.

Brett Brown and the Sixers will play their next game at home against the Indiana Pacers . Neither Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor have been able to provide significant production for Philadelphia this season. The Philadelphia 76ers remain a franchise simply out of their depth and there are no signs, this team is about to get any better anytime soon. It has been almost fifteen years since the Sixers last won a divisional title ,not since the 2000-01 season , with their last Playoff Appearance coming during the 2011-12 postseason , where they fell to the Miami Heat in the first round .

James Harden of the Houston Rockets (4-7) has now become an elite player within the NBA , but it remains to be seen whether or not he can lead Rockets to another NBA title for the franchise. The Houston Rockets have yearned to raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy and for team owner Leslie Alexander , nothing would give him greater pleasure than for his team to win the title. Head coach Kevin McHale and his coaching staff , I believe are capable of coaching this team their being able to make a deep playoff run, but a great deal of that will be dependent upon the play of Harden and whether or not Dwight Howard can finally step up to the plate during the postseason. The Rockets’ center has continued to disappoint and I do not believe he is capable of playing at a high-caliber , when it matters the most and that is during the NBA Playoffs.

Houston has made a solid start to the season, but with the Western Conference being so tough , their best chance of a postseason berth I continue to believe will their winning the Southwest Division within the West. In their most recent game the Houston Rockets hung tough in their contest against the Boston Celtics , but lost a game , which on paper, was far from being close, with the Rockets falling , 111-95 in a home loss .


Brad Stevens
has achieved a great deal since being hired to succeed Doc Rivers as head coach of the Boston Celtic. The fact that the team made the NBA Playoffs of last season before being brushed aside in the first round might well provide the fans and the franchise with the hope Stevens was not only the right man for the job, but GM Danny Ainge and team owner Wyc Grousbeck had to be extremely satisfied with the hire. Stevens has now cultivated a mindset within his young roster of players , which everyone now seems to be buying into , including the Boston Celtics’ fans. Boston might not be prolifically talented by way of their offense , but this team does play with a great deal of bravura .

Jared Sullinger , Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson , Evan Turner , James Young , Tyler Zeller, Isaiah Thomas , Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier are among the teammates of the Boston Celtics who are making the franchise one of the hot topics of conversation this early in the season among the Eastern Conference as well as within their division and the NBA this season. Clearly, if the Celtics are able to make back to back playoff appearances and build upon what was achieved last season. Then there is no reason to believe why this team cannot be seen as a legitimate contender for the NBA title at some point in the future. With a very good coaching staff in place, along with a front office making the right type of personnel decisions ,the future does seem bright for the franchise’s long-term relevancy .

Something is finally going on after the recent years of instability within the Detroit Pistons’ franchise and organization. Team owner Tom Gores along with the front office seemed to have figured it out. Former agent Arn Tellem has been brought in to run the business side of the Pistons’ operations, with Jeff Bower as the general manager of the franchise. The ouster of Joe Dumars was seen as an obvious move , after the decline of the franchise during the last few years of his tenure as general manager.

Sitting two games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (8-3) within the Central Division of the Eastern Conference the Detroit Pistons find themselves in a comfortable position in a division which will be closely watched. Coming off great victory over the Cavaliers, where LeBron James could not muster his teammates to get the win needed to increase their lead within the division , while also while also looking to pad their lead over the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks within the conference. The win might be the most significant of the Detroit Pistons’ young season which is still in its infancy. It might bode well for the team, if they can build upon the victory and put themselves in a position to contend within their division as well as the Eastern Conference.

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With all the news which has come into focus over the past few days beyond the world events . There is the common belief sports can truly unite the masses ,when we can witness a genuine act of sportsmanship , heroics on the field of play. but above all else , a true love of the environment being cultivated on the field of play.

Tophatal ……..

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Rick Ross featuring Ne-yo .. ” Super High ”

Trials, tribulations, a whole lot of grief and angst …

Trials, tribulations, a whole lot of grief and angst

In the aftermath of another not so overwhelming MLB postseason , with the Kansas City Royals winning their second World Series in the franchise’s history , things are suddenly taking on a new shape in the world of baseball. With the Winter Meetings just over a month away , several players have declared free agency , with perhaps the biggest surprise of being Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers .

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Greinke had an exceptional year for the team , but the Dodgers’ postseason foray ended up being nothing more than a glimpse of recent past seasons.

There was nothing about this Don Mattingly managed team which suggested the NL West champions were in with a serious chance of winning the NL Pennant and being the National League’s representative in the World Series. Now it will be, back to the drawing board for front office representatives GM Farhan Zahidi and Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, as they seek to rebuild the roster through likely free agent acquisitions and their farm system .

Don Mattingly is no longer a part of the managerial staff , having agreed to mutually part at the end this postseason. While there was considerable success under Mattingly, the Dodgers’ non appearance in the Fall Classic only added to the ball-club’s ongoing woes. There can be no excuses made for the abysmal failure witnessed over the past six seasons by this organization and their having spent over $1 billion in players’ salaries during the time-frame in question.

Zack Greinke’s decision to opt out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent , will now add to the plethora of pitchers now on the market this off-season. Teams in need of very good starting pitching will be required to pay top-dollar for a number of these prized assets.

There are times within world of baseball where one has to take a step back , d simply observe the frailties within the game and among the players . New York Yankees’ starting pitcher CC Sabathia with his admittance , that he has a sobriety issue as an alcoholic, makes you wonder why an athlete would seek to ruin their career for the sake of a momentary high. Sabathia for his part , made this disclosure while on morning television , explaining in the aftermath of the Yankees’ wild-card loss to the Houston Astros , he checked himself into a drug and alcohol dependency program. Given the recent woes of Josh Hamilton of the Texas Ranger, this issue I truly believe, just happens to be more widespread within the game, than teams and front office executives would care to admit ! As for the MLB hierarchy, given the ongoing lack of a really in-depth testing program for users of banned substances , this is just another glaring headlight the game of baseball can really do without.

There have been no formal comments coming from the New York Yankees’ front office concerning CC Sabathia’s current situation and while the player is due to become Yankees’ free agent this upcoming season, it remains to be seen whether or not he is likely to be re-signed by the franchise. Bud Selig and now his successor MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred have been twirling their fingers and thumbs not seeking to work in conjunction with the MLBPA (union) on a wide variety of issues within the game. The relationship between these two entities, has become adversarial , rather than one of bipartisanship when dealing the problems within the game of baseball.

It seems hard to believe that in 2008, the Detroit Lions were win-less during a regular season , with sixteen consecutive losses on their record. The team’s statistics during the year remains among the worst in NFL history. Rod Marinelli coached the Lions at the time and along with the coaching staff and it was clear they were completely out of their depth. This season bearing a record of 1-7 and it would appear the Lions are on track to have another morbid year in the NFL. Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matt Stafford is having a season he would rather forget , while the talents of wide receiver Calvin Johnson are being wasted on a team which has showed absolutely no signs of winning a game at all this season.

Detroit’s only win of the season so far , came during their week six victory over the equally abysmal Chicago Bears as the two NFC North divisional rivals met in that particular contest. With a bye-week during week nine the Detroit Lions can rest their weary bones while preparing for their week ten contest against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin on the 15th November , 2015.

Matt Stafford’s record (2-7) against the Packers has not been a favorable one , with his last victory against this divisional rival coming in week three of the 2014 regular season. The Lions’ issues this season have come in various guises, with the defense and offense being mediocre at best.

The disarray within the Lions’ organization, particularly within the front office has led to the firing of GM Martin Mayhew and Team President Tom Lewand , but the coaching staff of head coach Jim Caldwell have been kept for now , but I expect if there are likely to be changes should the Detroit Lions fail to turn their season around before the end of their schedule. Mayhew’s firing has led to added responsibilities and a first within the NFL , as Allison Maki becomes the first woman in NFL history to hold the position of general manager for an NFL franchise. It will be a joint role , to be shared between Maki and Sheldon White as interim general manager .

Likely to be also clear, will be the impending future of quarterback Matt Stafford , a first round draft pick from the 2009 NFL Draft. Stafford , who is not due to become a free agent until 2018. Stafford’s three-year $53 million contract , with $41 million guaranteed , expires in 2017 and should the Lions seek to trade the player , they would still be liable for the remainder of his guaranteed money. Matt Stafford is not one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL in spite of the fact he has amassed a great deal of yards during his playing career. He has not proven himself to be a leader , vocal or otherwise as a player with the Detroit Lions. This I believe is what is sadly missing from this Lions’ roster , beyond the ongoing incompetency of the coaching staff !

William ‘Bill’ Clay Ford as one of the team owners of the Detroit Lions has sat idly by as the franchise has gone through a quick succession of head coaches over the last eight years . The off-season I believe will bring a great deal more upheaval within the Lions’ organization , far more than anyone might have thought possible.

It would be fair to suggest the NFC is having something of a down year, with some notable teams within the conference still struggling at the mid- point of the season. Of late, fans of the San Francisco 49ers (2-6) are decrying the fact how quickly the team has fallen off the face of the map after the successes of 2012 and 2013 . There is no denying successive postseason appearances had the Forty Niners’ fans wanting more, but a great deal of complacency set in among the play and coaching staff of former head coach Jim Harbaugh.

This season the plight of the Niners has become worse , with head coach Jim Tomsula considering the improbable with the benching of Colin Kaepernick , perhaps the best offensive weapon on the entire roster. For their part, team CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke have offered little or no explanation behind the team’s fall from grace. The warning signs were certainly there last season , ending with sheer embarrassment for the NFC West based Forty Niners. Off the field issues with Ray McDonald and Aldon Smith , clearly showed the franchise to be lacking in moral fiber , while it would appear everyone seemed willing to give Jim Harbaugh a pass, as things continually spiraled out of control. Harbaugh was just as much to blame for San Francisco’s woes , as Trent Baalke and Jed York. Colin Kaepernick for his part, in spite of his postseason heroics still had his stuck firmly in the clouds, beyond having signed his ludicrous contract .

Heading into their week nine contest against the Atlanta Falcons (6-2) the San Francisco 49ers will be looking to right their ship , which is still struggling to stay afloat. If Colin Kaepernick is benched in favor of his backup Blaine Gabbert, it is hard to envisage how Gabbert would be viewed as a better option than Kapernick in this contest . While I don’t believe Jim Tomsula will be fired from his position, I do think the head coach will be in the unenviable of situation of being cast as the ” real villain” of this current situation, when everyone from the front office on down has played an equal part in the franchise’s woes seen this season.

There remains a great deal of idiocy among many of the so-called sports’ fans who genuinely believe they have some insight on sports in general and in particular the NFL. Recently on a visit to sports’ site , the contributor suggested with his declining play , Denver Broncos’ (7-0) quarterback Peyton Manning was no longer capable of playing at a high level or leading a team to a postseason berth. Now given Manning’s play since joining the Broncos as a free agent in March of 2012. In the three years since the Broncos’ ascent to the top of the AFC West which has gone unchallenged by their divisional foes and again in 2015 , the team is back to its very best , starting their season with a seven-game unbeaten streak. So much for this idiocy of Manning not being able to play at a consistently high level. In their week eight game against the then unbeaten Green Bay Packers beat their NFC opponents with the utmost ease destroying the Aaron Rodgers’ led Packers defeating them 29-10 .

The defeat for Green Bay derailed their chances of an unbeaten season, while the Denver Broncos , New England Patriots (7-0) and Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) seek AFC supremacy within their conference , with the three teams still unbeaten entering into the week nine NFL schedule .

With the NBA season still in its infancy , with the majority of teams having only played six games, there is only one franchise that remains unbeaten. Defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors (6-0) are leaving no one with any doubt, , why they won the title last season. With few changes to their core roster of last season , the Warriors have simply began from where they left off at the end of the regular and postseason. The fact they have won their first six consecutive games of this season, should not come as a surprise to anyone, even to those who still believe last season’s beaten finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers were the better team .

Reigning League MVP , Steph Curry has lit up the scoreboard in each of the Warriors’ victories and this season he already has a season-high 50-point game for the year. LeBron James may well be the best all-round player in the game, but Curry isn’t that far behind, with the shadow also of Kevin Durant also to be considered as part of the equation.

Golden State in their last game , subdued the Denver Nuggets on their way to a 119-114 victory and quite obviously the best record in the Western Conference. Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr and his coaching staff will now prepare the team for their next game where their opponent will be the Sacramento Kings in a contest to be played at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California on Saturday, 7th November ,2015.

With both New York based NBA franchises struggling at this point of the season and in all honesty, it does not come as a surprise to me at all ! The Brooklyn Nets (0-6) and the New York Knicks (2-4) have mediocre records and are struggling within their divisions as well as within the Eastern Conference. For head coaches Lionel Hollins of the Nets and Derek Fisher of the Knicks , this might be the last opportunities provided to them in their respective positions , because I feel , if both should fail this season , then there would be no alternative than their firings by Billy King of the Nets , Steve Mills and Phil Jackson of the Knicks. It is certainly not difficult to understand how bad both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks have been , when you consider the underwhelming talent on their respective rosters. The Brooklyn Nets were on the wrong side of another loss on Saturday night , coming at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks , another in a long line of mediocre performances by the Nets this season.

If the intent of Phil Jackson was bring about change since he assumed control as Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks. Then the change witnessed by the fans and Knicks’ fans in particular, has been a complete embarrassment for the franchise and the NBA in general . Derek Fisher and this Knicks’ coaching staff remain deep, in over their heads and Phil Jackson’s apparent acumen as a front office executive is and will remain overrated , in spite of his idiots still coming to his support , suggesting he still remains a basketball genius. As a coach yes, but in his current role , he has become an absolute joke.

Billy Donovan is now the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3) and the expectations are once again high for this team. The loss of Kevin Durant for a large chunk of last season led to the Thunder missing the NBA Playoffs by the slimmest of margins . This season Durant and Russell Westbrook will seek redemption and lay claim , they are the equal of the Golden State Warriors and among the best within their conference. A Sunday afternoon home game for the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Phoenix Suns should prove to be an interesting contest for both of these Western Conference based franchises.

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As the sports’ world meanders through the usual glutton of stories, it appears the salacious and the mundane tends to get the front page notice while the events on the field will at times take a backseat to it all.

🙂

Tophatal … 2015/11/07

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News , views and chews ….

As Major League Baseball awaits the victor of the ALCS series which now stands at 3-2 , with the Kansas City Royals leading the Toronto Blue Jays in the series. We await the outcome of game six which will be played at the Kauffmann Field , in Kansas City . Missouri, on Friday evening.

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Taking the mound for the home team will be former AL Cy Young winner David Price who will face Yordano Ventura of the Royals in what will be a pivotal game for both teams. A win for Kansas puts them in this year’s World Series , while a win for the Blue Jays forces an exciting game-seven decider between the two AL teams. Awaiting the winners of the AL Pennant will the their NL counterparts the New York Mets , whose convincing series’ win over the Chicago Cubs was as good as the Mets have been in a recent postseason foray. Both their pitching and offense was of the highest level expected from a well-managed Terry Collins’ team.

Away from the on-field foray has been the big news to hit the world of baseball with Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers mutually agreeing to part ways. Unfortunately, the public explanations being given in the interviews granted to the press remain unconvincing from both parties , with neither the front office executives or Mattingly , himself , being truly convincing with their summation as to the reasons behind their abrupt dismemberment. One thing is for certain , Andrew Friedman as the Head of Baseball Operations has been given full control to make the decisions necessary to bring about a real turnaround for this franchise. The complacency seen which has been seen from the Dodgers over the past four seasons during the MLB postseason , is unlikely to be tolerated by Friedman or the team’s general manager Farhan Zaidi.

Having spent over $1 billion on salary since their acquisition of the franchise the owners have seen the team simply implode at almost every hurdle during recent postseason play . This season in particular the Los Angeles Dodgers were never good enough to convince anyone they could be seen as the presumptive favorites for the World Series. A $315 million payroll , the highest in the game , and all we witnessed from the Dodgers throughout much of the season were the thrills and spills of a highly overrated team. Granted, Zach Greinke had an exceptional season for the team and will likely be crowned the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Typically, one would laud the feat as being a great achievement, but in retrospect , singular awards while credible , for this franchise the only success sought, was that of a World Series’ triumph , something last achieved by the Dodgers in 1988.

There can be no denying the NFL season so far has proven to be nothing more than the usual storm in a teacup. Granted, there are several teams we knew would be either be bad or just mediocre , while there will always will be one or two surprises which have left us bewildered. Who knew at this point of the season the Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) would be one of the best teams in the AFC as well as the league in general ? Coming off a week six victory over the Buffalo Bills. The Bengals have a bye-week during week seven , whereby they can rest and recuperate before resuming their schedule in week eight , with a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 1st November,2015.

Two games on this weekend’s schedule , will likely have the fans’ attention, will be conference contests featuring the New York Jets facing the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro’ Massachusetts. Tom Brady is having an excellent season and it would appear the idiocy of the Deflate-Gate scandal now seems to be in the rear view mirror of the four-time Superbowl winning quarterback. No doubt Brady will be looking to extend his regular season record against the Jets , while the team seeks to increase their lead over the Jets within the AFC East. The other game of note, pits the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants , in a must-win contest for both teams. Given the mediocrity of the NFC East . there remains the possibility that the winner of the division could be no better than 8-8 or 9-7 at the end of this season.

Eight weeks into the College Football season and as expected , the talk begins as to which teams are deserving to be called the best in the nation. The Ohio State Buckeyes remain unbeaten and atop of the heap in the College Football rankings . Saturday afternoon , the Buckeyes will be on the road as they visit Piscataway , New Jersey to fact Rutgers University. Somehow , I believe this game will end in a rout , with Ohio extending their unbeaten run to twenty games dating back to last season. This Buckeyes’ team is playing at an exceptional level , barely being challenged by their opponents this season.

Texas Christian (TCU) , Baylor, Utah and LSU (Tigers) are among the unbeaten teams all vying for a playoff berth. Les Miles head coach of the Tigers will be hoping to see his team prove their worth in their scheduled contest on Saturday afternoon when they face Western Kentucky. Leonard Fournette , Louisiana’s all blistering running back will be looking to excel in this game while also showing himself to be a viable candidate for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

With four games left to the College Football schedule , there remains a great deal to play for as the season seeks slowly winds down .

The NBA regular season will begin on Tuesday 27th October , but for the moment the preseason is still winding down. Defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors will be looking to make a successful defense of their title while also seeking to become the first back-to-back titlists since the Miami Heat were able to were able to achieve the feat in 2012 and then again in 2013 . The team was unable to make it a triple , succumbing to the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 . This season the Heat will seek to make their presence felt within the Eastern Conference where the Cleveland Cavaliers will be seen as the prohibitive favorites for the conference title.

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the elder statesmen on the Heat’s playing staffand they are being entrusted to lead a roster with a mix of youth and experience. Erik Spoesltra and his coaching assistants will certainly have their work cut out for them over the course of Miami’s schedule. The team will begin their regular season schedule with a home game against the Charlotte Hornets on 28th October, 2015 . However, I believe the true test for the Miami Heat will come in their conference meetings with the Chicago Bulls , Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks , three of the better teams within the Eastern Conference , based on last season’s standings. The Heat will also be counting on their young rookie Justise Winslow to make a major contribution to the team this season , as he comes under the wings of his mentor Dwyane Wade.

For the Eastern Conference champions of last season , the Cleveland Cavaliers after being soundly beaten by the Golden State Warriors in last season’s NBA Finals , this season will be their chance at seeking redemption. The Cavaliers’ front office led by team owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin have acquiesced to all of LeBron James’ whims facilitating him with a roster , he believes can win the franchise a title. Big money contracts have been offered to players such as Tristan Thompson , with the hope Thompson can prove to be productive for the team.

LeBron James and his Cavaliers’ teammates will begin their regular season schedule against divisional rivals the Chicago Bulls in their game to be played at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois,. While I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers remain the best team in their conference, and likely to repeat as conference champions this season, my belief remains the this team will struggle to beat any of the top-three teams within the Western Conference.

Kevin Garnett has returned to the franchise where he first made his professional league debut. The fact that Garnett now in the twilight of his career is once again with the Minnesota Timberwolves seems not only fair , but brings back memories of a time when he was among the best all-round players in the league, able to play every position possible , without there being a problem for this once agile player. Now he brings to this team , age , experience and a basketball mind second to none , with perhaps only Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant with an adept knowledge of the game and what is needed to succeed. Having won a title with the Boston Celtics as well as multiple appearances as NBA All Star and a League MVP in 2003 . It could be said Garnett’s career has come full circle, without him having much else to prove , other than being a mentor to a young team in need of real leadership.

Flip Saunders , head coach GM , Head of Basketball Operations as well as a minority stakeholder in the Timberwolves, will seek Kevin Garnett’s assistance in providing the on-court stability needed to make Minnesota competitive this season. Karl-Anthony Towns the franchise’s first round draft pick , alongside Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio are seen as the primary contributors for the team as they embark upon their schedule. The true test for the Minnesota Timberwolves will come when they take on the best the Western Conference has to offer , beginning with their regular season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Speculation will continue to surround the events which led to former NBA star Lamar Odom being found lying unconscious in the room of a Nevada brothel. Unfortunately, this simply adds another episode in the life of a player who never lived up to the expectations sought as a parent or as a teammate , in spite of the sympathetic words now being used as a cacophony to make up for another athlete’s shortcomings as a habitual drug user.

Odom through his publicists and his estranged wife Khloe Kardashian have thanked the press and public alike for their well-wishes , but this latest episode cannot hide the fact the NBA actually continues to enable and facilitate the use of banned substances within the game. The league’s so-called policy on banned substances remains weak and the fact the NBPA has sought to weaken the original structure of the policy simply goes to show how much of a ferret David Stern just happened to be, before handing over the reigns as commissioner to his chosen heir-apparent Adam Silver. The NBA Commissioner has yet to issue a public statement concerning Lamar Odom’s issues, purely on the basis the player is no longer active within the league. However. it should be noted , Odom never officially announced his retirement from the NBA and was still hoping to pursue a career , by returning to the league, signing with a team seeking an experienced veteran.

The NBA Commissioner has yet to issue a public statement concerning Lamar Odom’s issues, purely on the basis the player is no longer active within the league. However. it should be noted , Odom never officially announced his retirement from the NBA and was still hoping to pursue a career , by returning to the league, signing with a team seeking an experienced veteran. It seems doubtful a franchise would be willing to risk all. after this latest debacle concerning Lamar Odom.

Speaking of athletes with some off-field issues , with his recent plea agreement with the State’s Attorney’s Office former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones has been reinstated by the UFC , allowing the fighter to makes his return to the octagon. Jones was stripped of the title , after it was revealed he fled the scene of traffic accident while under the influence. It was later revealed the fighter had high level traces of cocaine within his system. Now while he has attended drug intervention program and the fact UFC President Dana White issued an indefinite suspension of the former champion. What cannot be denied, has been the fact, White has been very lax in whom he chooses to punish with impunity when he feels it is necessary.

Jon Jones in his last bout before being stripped of the title tested positive for a banned substance and it was widely reported that several top executives were prive’ to the fact Jones’ test had come back positive on the eve of his title defense against Daniel Cormier. Dana White for his part brushed aside those claims aside , stating it was pure fabrication on the part of detractors of the UFC. However, the Nevada State Athletics Commission which governs the sport within the state has records to prove the UFC hierarchy were well aware of the positive tests. Cormier the current Light Heavyweight Champion would like to make a defense against Jon Jones , knowing such a match-up would lead to a big money payday for himself as well has his challenger. There are very few fighters with the appeal and athleticism of Jones within the UFC at present and the biggest draw currently is the Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey who seems be totally unbeatable within her weight class.

Rousey will be looking to parlay her ongoing fame and notoriety in her next bout when she meets Holly Holm at UFC 193 scheduled to take place at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne , Australia on the 15th November, 2015.

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In light of the latest occurrences in the world of sports what do you feel will be the main talking points in the coming days or over the next week ?

Tophatal …

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A Moratorium on Stupidity or What Actually Makes The NFL Tick?

A Moratorium on Stupidity or What Actually Makes The NFL Tick?

Six weeks into the NFL season and the results have come thick and fast. Nonetheless, things have began to pan out within the divisions , conferences and the league standings overall. At the top of the food chain surprisingly enough are the Cincinnati Bengals coached by Marvin Lewis and where quarterback Andy Dalton looks as if he has found his presence as a leader of this team. Whether or not the Bengals can make a successful run at claiming the AFC North crown remains to be seen , but they keep apace with the six consecutive victories , with a win in week eight and the team having a bye in week seven. Then I am of the opinion Cincinnati will be in a position to claim their first divisional title in several years.

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The Cincinnati Bengals got the better of the Buffalo Bills in their week six contest defeating their AFC compatriots 34-21 , in a game where the Bills were never really in with a chance of winning. Marvin Lewis for his part has to be extremely pleased by what he has seen from the Bengals’ players at this stage of the season. Elsewhere within the AFC North the Pittsburgh Steelers got by the Arizona Cardinals , winning that contest 25-13. The Baltimore Ravens continued their woeful season with a 25-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns were on the wrong end of an overtime defeat suffered at the hands of the Denver Broncos .

Chances are the Carolina Panthers (5-0) are looking more likely to be the divisional winners of the NFC South with no clear challenge coming from any of their divisional rivals . Cam Newton has led the Panthers to a 5-0 start to their season with their most recent victory coming in a thrilling 27-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks (2-4). Newton for his part has been proving why the ongoing signs of maturity has Ron Rivera believing in his quarterback and why he believes him to be among the elite players at the position currently in the NFL . If the Carolina Panthers are to gain any semblance of success sought , then it will be predicated on the heightened postseason play of Cam Newton and his teammates .

Week seven is on the horizon and Carolina will certainly look to their bye-week as a way of preparing for their week eight contest against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indiana , Indianapolis on the 2nd November, 2015.

A great deal of hyperbole was being made of the game between the New England Patriots (5-0) and Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. A renewal of their AFC championship clash which led to the aftermath of the Deflate-Gate Scandal, was seen as another premise to raise the alleged animus between these two franchises. The media have played their part in this ongoing circus , but most certainly the league hierarchy played their role in this melodrama with the sheer incompetency shown by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several of his subordinates throughout this whole charade of one-upmanship .

For New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady the contest provided the player with another chances to show his superiority over the Colts and in particular his counterpart Andrew Luck who remains win-less against New England during the regular and postseason since his entry into the NFL in 2012. Brady and his teammates piled on the pressure in a contest which came down to an erroneous play sealing the victory for the AFC East based franchise. Questions are still being asked as of the Colts’ coaching staff led by Chuck Pagano which led to his team’s debacle in this game .

The Indianapolis Colts (3-3) now find themselves atop of a puerile AFC South division where the play has simply been horrific by all of the division’s occupants. Pagano certainly knows after this loss, Indianapolis will certainly have to reset themselves before entering into their week seven contest against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (2-4) at home. The Saints are in need of a win if their season is to show any signs of a turnaround after a rather disastrous start to their schedule. A defeat suffered against the Indianapolis would certainly begin to bring the curtain down New Orleans’ season and likely to have some questioning the virtue of Sean Payton keeping his position as the head coach of the team , given their indifferent start to the season and and lack of cohesion from the players. Next up , one the Saints’ schedule will be a game against the always intriguing Indianapolis Colts. Defense is likely to play a significant part in this contest , with both teams having struggled to this point of the season.

Philip Rivers , quarterback of the San Diego Chargers (2-4) put on an aerial display in the Chargers’ game against the Green Bay Packers (6-0) , only to see it become of no avail in the team’s loss to the Packers. Rivers had a career-day throwing for over 500 yards in the game , along the way throwing two touchdowns , no interceptions , completing forty-three of sixty-five pass attempts , completion percentage of 66.15 and a QBR of 99.7 in the contest. By comparison one could surmise Aaron Rodgers simply had a routine day at the office , leading Green Bay to their well-deserved 27-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

Of the unbeaten teams in the league the Green Bay Packers might well be considered the best team in NFL , given their schedule so far , when measured against those of teams yet to taste a loss this season. Rodgers is well on the way to cementing his legacy and also erasing the memory of Brett Favre among Packers’ fans. The Green Bay Packers appear to be sprinting towards another NFC North divisional title and a high seed within the NFC , with the postseason activity still over two months away. A bye-week during week seven will provide Mike McCarthy’s players time recuperate from any injuries sustained as they prepare for their week eight contest against the Denver Broncos (6-0) and Peyton Manning at Mile High Stadium/Sports Authority Field in Denver , Colorado. This might be the game of the day during week eight , if both teams remain unbeaten at the time kick-off on the 1st November , 2015.

Don’t look now , but the New York Jets (4-1) might be back to their best , but like any other New York based professional sports’ franchise with ideas above their station, the Jets remain a work in progress under Todd Bowles who succeeded Rex Ryan as the teams’ head coach. Defensive backs , Darrelle Revis, and teammate Marcus Williams seem to be having their way against opposing quarterbacks with a litany of takeaways and interceptions this season. Certain Jets’ players are now talking about the first of their regular season match-ups against the New England Patriots. When these two teams meet on October 25th at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro’ Massachusetts, this game might just prove to be the one where the Jets will either sink or swim.

As good as the Jets’ defense might appear to be , I believe their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will have a difficult time trying to pick apart a Patriots’ defense , while his record against New England is not a favorable one at this juncture of his career. Recent contests over the past three seasons between the two teams would suggest the New England Patriots will come away with another home victory over their divisional rivals.

Somewhere, the Football Gods might well be looking down on the NFC East and simply thinking among themselves , what the hell must be going on within the division ? A Monday Night Game featuring the New York Giants (3-3) and Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) should be considered , league cannon fodder and diatribe . given their respective records. The Eagles having demolished a mediocre Giants team on their way to a lopsided victory can bask in the limelight of just being average .

In the lead-up to the start of the NFL season and we had Roger Goodell seeking to address the issue of player misconduct , domestic violence and seeking the input of the National Organization of Women (NOW) as to how best to address the issue of abuse by players against their spouse or girlfriend. One should also bear in mind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ sexist imagery and undoubted archaic male view as to what appeals to a female in selling the NFL brand to women , can be seen as how out of touch the league and its hierarchy remains , while Roger Goodell suggests they (NFL) are making well-observed strides in dealing with the issue. I would like to suggest the commissioner take a look at his actions and decisions, as it relates to Greg Hardy and Ray Rice , considering the lenient sentences handed down to both of these players.

Furthermore , if at every step the NFLPA (Players’ Union) seeks to challenge the authority of the NFL when there is a clear pattern of misconduct by its members concerning domestic abuse. I would like to know why DeMaurice Smith as the Executive Director of the NFLPA has failed to address the issue in public, rather than seeking to challenge the league and the punishment of the players , by suggesting the commissioner is overstepping his authority ? Never mind the fact , when you have imbecilic and apathetic fans making excuses for the players and suggesting the NFL should leave the issue to the Justice System. It begs the question do these assholes actually understand the law, much less comprehend there is a code of conduct within the league concerning the players’ on and off the field behavior ?

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In spite of the NFL being a multi-billion dollar business enterprise , it continues to be poorly ran , with a hierarchy completely devoid of intelligence, a fan-base made up of a large majority of male Neanderthals , whose concept of the game continues to border on stupidity. Nonetheless, without the demographics in question, the NFL as we know it, might not continue to thrive, but baser instincts would suggest otherwise. Stupid is, as stupid does and in the NFL , where else can you find this much stupidity on display both and off the field of play ?

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Tophatal

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Something Wicked This Way Comes …

Something Wicked This Way Comes …….


Week three
of the NFL season is now in our rear-view mirror and with it came the results leaving a great deal of the league in something of an after-shock. We have seven unbeaten teams , with the AFC on appearance having the better of the showing in terms of the success seen among the franchises. NFC champions the Seattle Seahawks remains a team in a state of disarray , albeit , they had their first win of the season with a 26-0 thrashing of the Chicago Bears , a team I believe will likely be among the worst of the NFL’s thirty teams this season.

Jay Cutler remains more of a liability to the Bears than he is an asset. Among the other NFC franchises, we have the San Francisco 49ers , looking as if they have been caught in a head-on collision , having been hit by a sixty-foot semi-trailer at high speed. Niners’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s season thus far has been one of sheer disappointment, while fans of the San Francisco 49ers appear to be pointing fingers at team CEO Jed Yorke and GM Trent Baalke for the franchise’s disarray.

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The Niners’ assuredly embarrassing loss to the Arizona Cardinals was as abhorrent a sight as one would not wish to see on an NFL field. Head coach Jim Tomsula and the coaching staff are as much to blame for this defeat as the players themselves. This Niners’ team lacks not only confidence but also a great deal of leadership and discipline. There can be no excuse for the loss , even if one could attribute it the loss , to the fact the Cardinals were the better team on the day.

In week four the San Francisco 49ers will play host to the unbeaten Green Bay Packers (3-0) , where quarterback Aaron Rodgers seems to be on a record breaking pace for the season in terms of his own personal achievements during the Packers’ regular season schedule . Personally, I do not believe the Packers will face much of a daunting task from their divisional rivals within the NFC North during 2015 !

While I believe over the past two seasons we have seen the growth of Cam Newton as a player, until he leads the Carolina Panthers (3-0) on a deep run in the NFL postseason , for the moment, he will just be considered a very athletic and gifted quarterback. He possesses a great deal of athleticism which is undeniable, yet he is complemented by a roster of players who have yet to meet the goals expected of the fans or the ownership at the moment. Head coach Ron Rivera and the Panthers’ coaching staff have slowly begun to mold this roster into a competitive force within the NFC South as well as the NFL , but the real goal for this organization has to be deep run in the postseason and ultimately a Superbowl victory.

The Panthers romped to a victory over a very labored New Orleans Saints’ (0-3) team missing Drew Brees in this contest. Granted, Brees’ back Luke McCown was being asked to do a great deal in this match-up , this loss was indicative of how bad , the Saints have become this season. Three games into their schedule and I am not so sure the New Orleans Saints are capable of extricating themselves out of a hole of their own making. Next up for the Saints will be a home game against the Dallas Cowboys (1-2) , in a must-win contest for both teams , if either of these two franchises are to make sense of their season.

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will be taking their show on the road to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , where Jameis Winston will be looking to acquit himself after his rather lackluster display in the Buccaneers’ week three loss , suffered at the hands of the Houston Texans. Going into this contest against the Panthers , I would be very surprised if the home team is able to pull of a victory against the visitors in this contests . Games between the two teams since Cam Newton was drafted by Carolina have been in favor of the Panthers’ quarterback.

Say what you will , in the aftermath of the debacle which engulfed and embarrassed the NFL hierarchy with Tom Brady seeing his proposed four game suspension bite the dust with US Federal District Court Judge Richard M Berman, siding with the player, The judge stated, the league had overstepped its limits in seeking to suspend the New England Patriots’ quarterback for the first four games of the Patriots’ regular season schedule. Deflate-Gate as this debacle and unmitigated disaster, has come to be known, isn’t simply about the accusations of the New England Patriots cheating , but it is a damning indictment of a league lacking in leadership from the hierarchy on down to the front office executives and among the players themselves.

Meanwhile, clueless individuals , notably the anal retentive fans pointing an accusing finger at the Patriots’ franchise , have been quick to overlook the misdeeds of coaches such as Rex Ryan , Josh McDaniels , Sean Payton and a slew of bothers. Needless to say, these same blithering idiots , with their short-term memory loss have quickly forgotten the antics of the New Orleans Saints’ organization and the antics surrounding the Bounty-Gate Scandal. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell remains the consummate imbecile , while the anal retentive and apathetic fans of this league continue to wax on lyrically about how great the NFL happens to be , but they appear to be nowhere intelligent enough to be succinct in their criticism of a clueless commissioner.

Tom Brady for his part has led the New England Patriots to an unbeaten three-game start to the season, with the Patriots’ quarterback going about his business , as if the scandal which engulfed his reputation was simply a meaningless obstacle. Questions may will still arise as to player’s innocence or guilt, but given the fact the league’s case as so ill-prepared , even the NFL’s SVP and Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Pash failed to take the stand to explain the NFL’s case against Brady , has simply been another indicator of the ongoing incompetence of this hierarchy under Roger Goodell’s leadership.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots annihilated the Jacksonville Jaguars on their way to a 51-17 victory for their biggest win of the season , with their schedule still in its infancy . Brady has already amassed over 1,000 passing yards on the season , thrown seven passing touchdowns without an interception , with a completion percentage above sixty-five percent (65% ) and a QB rating in excess of 115.00 . Outstanding statistics for the four-time Superbowl winner, three-time Superbowl MVP and two-time League MVP . Awards being what they are and even in light of the most recent allegations , Brady has remained at the top of his game without any real distractions. Granted , there still remains the idiocy of the league , still holding out some hope they are able to suspend the player at some point during this season, but given the league’s poor presentation of their original case , there seems little chance of their having a successful ruling in a Federal Appeals Court , which renders Richard Berman’s verdict null and void.

Brady now remains single-minded in his pursuits , with franchise records and a number of career milestones now within his sight, but perhaps the biggest achievement yet remaining for the player , might be the chance to win a fifth Superbowl ring and championship with the Patriots’ franchise. His six appearances in the NFL’s biggest showcase event is a testament to his career and while there will remain detractors , the fact of the matter remains, neither player or the organization are solely to blame for the malaise and bad publicity this latest scandal has brought the NFL. The leadership within the NFL remains weak , and the owners seem more concerned with , money , profits , team value and less about a positive image, while Roger Goodell’s continued incompetency and lack of real leadership ,drags the NFL further into a quagmire of its very own making.

The New England Patriots will head into week four with a bye , though still looking to increase their lead within the AFC East , while also seeking to remain among the front-runners within the AFC. Their next opponents will be the Dallas Cowboys , whom they will meet in week five of the regular season at Cowboys Stadium , Arlington , Texas on the 11th October , 2015. Defensively , the Patriots still leave a great deal to be desired , as the defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will certainly have to assess the issues of the secondary and their continued woes. It remains the one area Bill Belichick must have his deepest concerns and reservations about , as the team seeks to progress this season .

Heading into this season, it was felt, both the Baltimore Ravens (0-3) and Oakland Raiders (2-1) might be in a position to do something special within their respective divisions in 2015. Three weeks into the season and the struggles of both franchises can be chronicled with just a couple of words, “ they have been abysmally awful “ . The Raiders might well be off to one of their best starts in recent seasons , but head coach Jack Del Rio knows a great deal more consistency will be needed from this team , especially from quarterback and presumed on-field leader Derek Carr . The AFC West could become a highly competitive division with the starting quarterbacks within, all looking to play a significant role in their teams’ success. The Raiders will be looking to make sure that their fortuitous start to the season doesn’t come crashing down around their ears when they face the lowly Chicago Bears (0-3) in a game where the visiting Raiders take to Soldier Field in Chicago , Illinois on Sunday , 4th October , 2015.

Joe Flacco is coming off a season where by his own lofty standards , he was less than satisfactory for the Baltimore Ravens. Their indifferent start to this season makes his and the team’s situation all the more bewildering. An early season favorite for the Superbowl and now win-less, they might not be in a position to win the AFC North or gain a postseason berth given their poor start to the year. It doesn’t seem that long ago when Flacco’s postseason exploits which led the franchise to their second Superbowl title was being lauded as one for the ages . Out of those scintillating performances from 2012 , Flacco was able to land himself a six-figure deal making him one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL . Now while the Ravens have been frequent visitors to the NFL postseason since their 2012 triumph over the San Francisco 49ers , the real issues have been their failure to draft well , ill-timed free agent acquisitions, while several players on the team have failed to meet the expectations of the coaching staff and front office . GM Ozzie Newsome may well be feeling the need to look over this roster and begin to cut the waste from this lineup.

When the Baltimore Ravens take to the field to play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on 1st October , 2015 in their Thursday night contest , should the Ravens fail to gain their first win of the season. In all probability John Harbaugh will likely be under a great deal of pressure in his role as the head coach , beyond the fallout of a fourth consecutive loss for the franchise.

Things are not all that sunny on the beaches of Miami or with the South Florida based Miami Dolphins (1-2). Quarterback Ryan Tannehill along with his teammate Ndamukong Suh have bared the brunt of the criticism leveled at the team as well as Joe Philbin and the coaching staff . One could question the fact the Dolphins chose to make Suh one of the highest paid defensive players in the league, with Suh yet to show the leadership or ability sought to lead this defense . With the New England Patriots off to a solid start and the New York Jets (2-1) under Todd Bowles , seemingly revitalized by the stabilizing lay of Ryan Fitzpatrick and seasoned veteran corner-back Darrelle Revis back to his best as he has played with a great deal of zeal, leading the Jets’ secondary , among the best in the league at this point of the season.

Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins will play host to the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in a divisional clash, with Miami seeking to avoid a third consecutive loss at this early stage of the season. Tannehill will be tested in this contest and his play has to be at its very best , if the Dolphins are to overcome this very confident Jets’ team .

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At this stage of the season with there still being a great deal to play for , several of the teams who remain win-less now will now have to play solid football over the remainder of the season if they are to prevail with their season’s ambitions. Yet, for all we have witnessed from the teams, I cannot help but wonder what is likely to happen next.

Tophatal …….

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NFL standings (overall)

NFL schedule week four

NFL player stats (week three)

NFL team stats (week three)

NFL teams’ salary caps (2015)

This month in NFL history

On this date in NFL history