We love our records ! Not vinyl, but sports’ records

We love our records ! Not vinyl, but sports’ records

In light of Peyton Manning’s demise alongside his teammates of the Denver Broncos in their now historic loss , in which they suffered defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks . It is now my belief, that was the last appearance that we will see of Manning in a Superbowl contest! One victory in three Superbowl appearances and one could surmise that the window of opportunity for the quarterback to join a select few of his peers with at least two Superbowl victories and rings to their name, has now actually closed . This kind of makes me wonder if there is a sibling rivalry between Peyton and his younger brother Eli Manning , who has captured two victories in the NFL’s postseason finale, along with an Superbowl MVP award to adorn his trophy cabinet .

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As the quarterback of the Denver Broncos , Peyton Manning had an extraordinary year, having smashed the single season passing yards’ record, as well as the single season passing touchdowns’ mark. As spectacular as those feats were , the disappointment of that Superbowl loss , has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Broncos’ players and leaving the front office of the organization completely bewildered as to the magnitude of the defeat. Let’s just say, that team owner, Pat Bowlen and John Elway , President of Football Operations, himself being no stranger to the postseason disappointment of a Superbowl appearance. Elway, as a member of the Denver Broncos , made five appearances in the Superbowl, but rode out on a career-high, having won the last two , on his way to a Hall of Fame induction in Canton, Ohio, at the culmination of his career.

Now we could start to prognosticate as to where Peyton Manning ranks amongst the best quarterbacks to have ever played the game, but with his career, yet to come to an end . Would it be remiss to suggest, that he no longer has what it takes to win at the highest level? With the right weapons around him, Manning was able to achieve success this past season , in the regular and postseason , but we all saw , that the Superbowl contest , clearly showed that the Denver Broncos were not ready to play and they were simply overwhelmed by the Seattle Seahawks . This off-season could prove to be an eventful one for the Broncos’ front office with John Elway , Matt Russell , Tom Heckert in conjunction with John Fox assessing the player personnel needs, with the likelihood of several players on the roster not likely to return for next season .

Peyton Manning within the next two years , should he make the decision to return for the 2014 season , is likely to make a full assault on the career touchdowns’ passing mark of 508 held by Brett Favre as well as the career yards’ passing record also held by the former .. Green Bay Packers’ quarterback. At present the Broncos’ quarterback leads all active players in terms of passing yards, passing touchdowns , pass attempts , completions , career comeback wins , and interceptions , Manning I believe having been on the wrong end of two defeats in the Superbowl, would like nothing better than to redeem himself and that of Broncos’ teammates in making one last attempt to win a second title . As I alluded to earlier, I do believe that Superbowl 48 was indeed the last time we will have seen the five-time league MVP having appeared in the NFL’s postseason finale.

Elway and John Fox will likely spend part of this off-season with behind the scenes closed-door discussions with their heralded quarterback, seeking his input on the weapons he feels best needed, in order for the Broncos to take that next step to a Superbowl victory . Contemplating the future of free agents, such as Knowshon Moreno, Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eric Decker, Dan Koppen, Zane Beadles, Trindon Holliday , Michael Huff and others may well prove to be difficult . Yet the likelihood will be , the team will have to forsake a number of these free agents in order again to their advantage , while also preparing for the NFL Draft and the prospective litany of free agents that will hit the market during this off-season . The Broncos will be in a significantly advantageous position, as their cap figure will not be to their detriment , where they will have in excess of $11 million of cap room available the front office make deals as they see fit.

As talented as Dez Bryant is said to be, his career is still in its infancy , and with his off-the field behavioral issues beyond team owner , Jerry Jones coddling him like a child . I find the player to be an ingrate and someone with a lack of respect of others as well as for the game ! Bryant, a wide receiver with continually overrated Dallas Cowboys , during this past season, made the claim that he was good enough to be placed alongside both Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald , two of the best wide receivers to have entered the NFL over the past eight years. . Johnson has already cemented his legacy in NFL history having surpassed the single season receiving yards’ mark of Hall of Fame legend Jerry Rice , the greatest wide receiver in NFL history and perhaps one of the top-five players to have played the game at any position within the NFL . Fitzgerald has consistently proven to be a top-ten at the wide receiver, since his entrance into the league , having played his entire career with the Arizona Cardinals , a team who this past season proved to be possible future threat to the f supremacy within the now all so competitive NFC West , which over the past seasons seems to have been a two-horse race between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco Giants.

The Cardinals’ wide receiver now ranks fifth amongst active players in terms of receiving yards, with 11,367 yards on his career resumes’. In terms of career yardage , he has a considerable way to go before surpassing Jerry Rice’s mark of mark of 22,985 yards. The one NFL record , which I believe is unlikely to be surpassed , because of the consistency and longevity needed ! If both Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald continue at their present pace , both are likely to be a “lock “ for induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio , upon the end of their respective NFL careers. If Dez Bryant truly wants to be seen as one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL , then beyond the ongoing woeful ineptitude that exists with the Dallas Cowboys , he will have to prove also that he can be a game changer and lead by example , not just from a playing standing point, but also as a vocal leader on the team. Because in reality , the presumed leadership skills or qualities, have never been shown by Tony Romo or perhaps the best player on the roster , tight end Jason Witten , who has carved out an exceptional career playing career for the franchise, without having a Superbowl ring to show for his stellar efforts.

I have written with depth and at great length, concerning the woes of the Dallas Cowboys and do not wish to add much more to that content within this site ! Except that, if you so wish , you are welcomed to peruse the articles in question and add your input on the points raised.

Say what you will for this past NFL season, in terms of the season highlights , the game reigns supreme, as it still resonates with the masses . The events of the Superbowl notwithstanding, the fans will now await to see further stories are likely come to the fore , with the upcoming NFL Draft .

Another supreme career within baseball is about to come to an end , once the regular season reaches its finality . With Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, making it known that this season will be his last in Yankees’ Pinstripes. One can perhaps now begin to ask where the player ranks amongst the all-time greats to have adorned the team’s uniform as well as gauging his contributions to the franchise . A five-time World Series’ champion , Series’ MVP , AL Rookie of the Year but having never won the AL MVP , as well as a multiple time All Star , the player’s resume` is littered accolades and accomplishments , that his departure from the ball-club , will be the last vestiges of the corps of players who alongside then manager Joe Torre , won four World Series , having made six appearances in baseball’s postseason finale between 1996 through to 2005. The short-stop’s last championship game in 2009 , with Joe Girardi helming the team as the manager , with the Yankees’ win over the hapless Philadelphia Phillies in a 4-2 series’ win.

With noted Hall of Famers from the New York Yankees’ rich baseball history , such as Lou Gehrig , Babe Ruth , Reggie Jackson , Micky Mantle , Wade Boggs , Dave Winfield, Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter , Joe DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto. In trying to assess where Derek Jeter would rank amongst those players would take a great deal of deliberation . The game has undoubted changed over the course of the last eight decades plus. Yet, the statistics cannot lie when trying make a case for the soon to be retired Yankees shortstop. If there is one thing that truly stands out concerning Jeter’s stature in terms of personal statistics , it may well be his on-base and slugging percentage (OPS) .

With all of the acquisitions made by the New York Yankees during the off-season , which is likely to push the team’s payroll slightly northwards of $200 million . I cannot now help but wonder, how the organization will seek to market the farewell of one the franchise’s and baseball’s most beloved figures over the past two decades. Former teammates, Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera bowed out last season , in what was jointly their last years with the franchise. Rivera, the all-time career saves’ leader, for the New York Yankees, as well as in Major League Baseball, that may well stand the test of time given the present environment within the game. Pettite’s career can simply summed with the words, most postseason wins in baseball history as a starting pitcher, and five World Series’ titles tend to bolster a career resumes’ as well. A great deal will now be expected of this New York Yankees’ lineup , given the fact that Derek Jeter will start his farewell tour in 2014 and no doubt the team’s season series against the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays , the franchise’s most celebrated rivalries in recent years, will likely take on a whole new meaning. As visitors to the venues of the Red Sox and Rays, Fenway Park and Tropicana Field are likely to be sold out for each of those series’ games.

Issues asides , brought on by the Alex Rodriguez saga , with the player now having to sit out the entire 2014 schedule. How the Yankees now acquit themselves under the guidance of Joe Girardi and his staff will tell us a great deal about the mindset of this team and also whether or not Derek Jeter will be back to his very best after a season, in which, 2013 saw him sidelined and limited a handful of games as the team missed the postseason foray . As I alluded to earlier , with this announcement of the player’s departure the expectations are likely to be high , with the view that the Yankees are to be viewed as a favorite for the World Series. What better way, for the heralded shortstop to bow out, than his winning a sixth World Series’ title. Fourteen other teams, within the AL, are likely to have a different perspective on the issue , no doubt.

With the NBA season having reached its halfway point and about to have their annual All Star Game break . It will be interesting to see what behind the scenes moves are made as teams seek to make use of the break to engineer trades that will likely make or break their seasons , when the regular season calendar schedule resumes. From my own perspective , the first half of the NBA schedule was something of a blur , with the Eastern Conference in particular, offering the fans , the usual incompetent displays , with the actual play, now beyond mediocre . The top two teams within the conference , the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat , seem bound for another conference finals’ series match-up. One that could clearly go in favor of the Pacers , if Frank Vogel’s players continue at the present pace in terms their play and perform as a cohesive unit.

It may not feel like a lifetime ago, since Carmelo Anthony almost single-handed, exploited a bad Charlotte Bobcats team on his way to a career-high sixty-two points in the New York Knicks’ win over their conference rivals within the East. Subsequently , the Knicks have continued to throw in some rather tawdry performances , and yet their fans continue to make all types of excuses for the team’s mundane play . If at this juncture , Carmelo Anthony , still remains unconvinced that his best options lay elsewhere , concerning his ambitions to win an NBA title , then to my mind he is not deserving of the opportunity to move on elsewhere ! He is being asked to carry way too much a burden, night in and night out , while his teammates simply look on , without rarely coming to his aid and contributing positively . Head coach, Mike Woodson for his part, now seems completely out of his depth , along with an unimaginative coaching staff .

Coming off two consecutive losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings , respectively , it is becoming increasingly easy to understand why the Knicks remain a moribund franchise , ran by an unimaginative front office and owned by James Dolan , who remains simply clueless, as to what it takes, to run a successful sports’ franchise. Madison Square Garden , one of the NBA’s most venerable venues , might as well be an elephants’ graveyard , because in terms of competitive and entertaining basketball , it is definitely not on view there by , way of the performances of the New York Knicks . The press within that New York media market, may well try to spin the idiocy of what takes place with the franchise , but in reality , mediocrity cannot be disguised for anything else , than for what it really just happens to be. Steve Mills , general manager of the Knicks , may well be have to consult with James Dolan and Mike Woodson concerning Carmelo Anthony’s immediate future, because should he make the decision to opt out of his contract and seek to test the free agency market , the Knicks could up with nothing in return . They can either, seek to trade the player or gamble, that he might seek to return and re-sign with the team.

Through the first half of this season, the two most dominant players in the NBA , have been , Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James of the Miami Heat , currently the reigning NBA champions. One might seek to add, the Indiana Pacers’ swing-man, Paul George , as stock has risen , along with that of the Pacers and their conference leading mark within the East. In terms of the NBA Most Valuable Player race, James with his four titles , joins a select group of players to have won the award more than twice . Durant, seeks to add that piece of silverware to his trophy cabinet, having already won multiple NBA scoring titles . Yet this season, Durant , is driven , I believe, by the fact that last season , but even more so, the team’s efforts of the 2012-13 season , were to end so disappointingly, with a series’ loss in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat. That I believe, has been the driving force behind Kevin Durant’s year and that of his teammates , as led by head coach Scott Brooks and his coaching staff .

If Durant and the supporting cast of the Thunder, are to prevail this season, which I believe that they are quite capable of doing! Then a possible match-up in this season’s NBA Finals, against either the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat could very well a postseason finale well worth watching. What better way for incoming Commissioner Adam Silver to celebrate his elevation to the league’s highest ranking executive position !

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Do you believe that records long revered within professional sports , still mean something to this day , even with the growing trend within some areas , for athletes to circumvent the rules and cheat ? Chime in, with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Five-time NFL League MVP , Peyton Manning leaves the field after the Denver Broncos’ humiliating loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Superbowl . The defeat was one of the largest margins of victory (48-3) in a the NFL’s postseason finale. For Manning , it was his third appearance the even and his second loss in an NFL title game. AP Photo / Reed Martin ….

(2) Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen , left, gather for a photo during an NFL football news conference at the team’s headquarters Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, in Englewood, Colo., where Elway was named the team’s executive vice president of football operations. The former Broncos’ quarterback made five appearances in the Superbowl all with the franchise , having won two titles in his five visits to postseason event. AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski ….

(3) Brett Favre , now retired is the NFL all-time leader in career passing touchdowns as well as career passing yards . Should Peyton Manning return for the 2014-15 NFL season, then the career passing touchdowns’ mark is likely to be broken at some point during the regular season . Favre’s career passing yards’ mark of 71,838 yards ranks first all-time , leading the second placed Manning by over 6,874 yards . Peyton Manning’s career yardage total of 64,964 ranks first amongst all active quarterbacks now playing in the NFL . Getty Images North America / Richard Hart …..

(4) Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) is seen here with teammate Tony Romo (9) prior to the start of an NFL game. Bryant, believes himself to be the equal of experienced receivers Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions and the St Louis Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald . A first round draft pick by the Cowboys in the 2010 NFL Draft , the player has proven to be talented , but also something of a malcontent when things do no got go his way . AP Photo / Marc Carson …

(5) Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald (11) right , are seen here meeting on-field at the end of NFL game between the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals . The two players represent a new breed of athletic and speedy wide receivers to have entered the NFL over the past eight seasons . Matt Farmer / Engle Inc archives ….

(6) Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees is seen here addressing the convened press . The player has made it known that this will be his final season in baseball , after a two-decade career which has seen him win just about every individual honor that the game has to offer with the exception of the AL MVP award. Jeter will leave the game ranked in the upper echelons in a number of offensive and defensive categories with the baseball franchise.

(7) LeBron James of the Miami Heat is seen here alongside Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both players are currently seen as the frontrunners for this season’s NBA MVP Award with their being no other serious contenders for the game’s highest individual regular season award. Durant and James are respectively the leading scorers for the Heat and Thunder as well as being amongst the leading scorers within the NBA this season . Both players also , have each won an NBA scoring title . A Finals’ title and Finals Series’ MVP award are the only things currently missing from Durant’s already extraordinary NBA career . AP Photo / Matthew Clarke ….

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tophatal ……………

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This wasn’t the way it was meant to be , but I’ll take it

This wasn’t the way it was meant to be , but I’ll take it

By Tophatal ….. 01/08/2013

There’s something to be said for teams playing themselves into contention as the postseason approaches , and one could also attest to the fact that a team without a veteran presence on it , will tend to come up short in the initial round of the NFL playoffs . Clearly, that was the case, when the Baltimore Ravens played hosts to the Indianapolis Colts , led by their rookie sensation , Andrew Luck . And against the backdrop of the stories that surrounded the franchise over the course of the season , it seemed that nothing was about to go right for the team.

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it was revealed before the Sunday afternoon kickoff, that Colts’ assistant head coach, Bruce Arians had suddenly taken ill , having collapsed in his hotel room , suffering from dizziness and nausea . Considering, the health issues that befell Chuck Pagano earlier on , with his recovery from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma , having undergone several rounds of debilitating chemotherapy .One has to wonder, if this was simply a rather unjust way of getting back at the Colts after their on-field success this season?

From 2-14 in 2011 , to double-digit wins and a postseason berth in 2012 , to alongside the exhilarating play of Andrew Luck and his teammates . What no one would be in doubt with , was that Ravens’ veteran linebacker , Ray Lewis was not about to let this game be his final swan song with the Baltimore Ravens . Over his illustrious career, Lewis has racked up accolades, the way, Warren Buffett has seen his wealth grow immensely . Lewis has the respect of his peers, past and present , as well a great many number of fans across the NFL landscape. And while he made the formal announcement stating that this would be his last season in the NFL , I seriously doubt that Ray Lewis’ wish was to ride off into the sunset, with a postseason loss to the upstart Indianapolis Colts .

The Colts did their leveled best to keep this game close , but errant plays , missed opportunities , and as I alluded to , the lack postseason experience , with only a few such veterans on the roster who could provide a minutiae of what was sought , Indianapolis would in the end come up short , on the wrong side of a 24-9 loss to their AFC counterparts .

As a New England Patriots’ (12-4) fan, simply knowing that they had garnered a top two seeding in the AFC was enough of respite knowing that the team’s defense still remains a work in progress, this late into the season . Now, far be it, for me to suggest, that Bill Belichick , a defensive “guru” , simply does know what he is doing , but at times there does seem to be a reason to his madness and that of his coaching staff . As to what that might be , only the venerable head coach and his staff would clearly know what that might be .

All season long , the deficiencies in the Patriots’ defense were highlighted , with their inconsistent play , albeit that came away victorious in many of those games . Charged with making the defense a great deal stealthier , well that has been placed in the hands of Matt Patricia , while the offense is left in the hands of Josh McDaniels. While the defense has its ongoing woes, the offense of the Patriot has simply been clicking on all cylinders . Leading the way for the Patriots is the franchise’s three-time winning Superbowl quarterback and league MVP , Tom Brady , who simply goes through the motions during the regular season, but once the postseason comes around , he simply becomes a cold-hearted assassin .

The Patriots will host the Houston Texans . This will be the second successive season, in which the Texans have made the postseason . For Texans’ quarterback, Matt Schaub , he will be given the chance to redeem himself after the team’s lopsided 42-14 defeat in week fourteen to their venerable AFC East counterparts. And much of the hype that surrounded the Texans during the early part of the season wasn’t at all justified , as the team came into the final five games of the regular season , going 2-3 in those scheduled match-ups . Hardly, what one consider to be noteworthy for a franchise with Superbowl aspirations. And though one can’t really put much store in one game , I do feel however, if you gauge that by looking at the series between the two combatants , it can at times provide us with something of an indicator , as to how these games can go !

The Houston Texans have proven to be a formidable force this season , and as one of the three best teams </u in the AFC from a record and offensive standpoint , it is easy to understand why the team was seen and remains as such, one of the favorites within the conference for the Superbowl. Running backs , Arian Foster , Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead , should be able to provide the fans in attendance at Gillette Stadium , in Foxborough , Massachusetts with a great spectacle in terms of a running game . A stern test of both defenses will be part of the recipe , in what is hoped to be a scintillating game . If there is a victor to come out of this match-up , then it will be all predicated upon time of possession , and whomever controls the ball in that specific category will come away the winner , in this divisional round duel.

I don’t know that there will be a more highly anticipated game this upcoming weekend , than the prospective match-up between the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons ! For a seventh round draft pick (2012 NFL Draft) , Russell Wilson might just prove to be the invaluable and prophetic player taken that late in the NFL Draft over the past decade , since Tom Brady as was drafted by the Patriots a sixth rounder in the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots . As we know Brady’s career has been illuminated by his on-field accomplishments , his career earnings , estimated wealth , conservatively said to be between $75 million to $120 million , and the fact that he and Peyton Manning might just be the most marketable players in the NFL, and that is with the idiocy that surrounds the “marketing” of Tim Tebow , as one of the “up and coming faces “ within the NFL ! Affability as a sales’ tool when it comes to consumer branding and marketing amongst heterosexual males , might just rank up there alongside using Clay Aiken as the next spokesperson for Louis Vuitton. It just doesn’t work .

In a game that will see Matt Ryan , of the Atlanta Falcons , once again try to get off the “Schneid” in terms of garnering his first postseason victory in what will be his fourth attempt indicates the struggles the player has in terms of his postseason performances . Ryan , forever the consummate professional is a great regular season performer , yet all of his troubles tend to arise in the postseason. As to whether or not he will be able to lead the Atlanta Falcons past a self-confident and driven Seahawks’ team , well that remains to be seen .

Russell Wilson’s accomplishments this season have simply been extraordinary, and the very fact that he joined Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin as the only rookies to have taken their respective franchises into the playoffs in their very first season, speaks volumes as their play. What cannot be denied in 2012 , and it is that we may well have seen the best year amongst NFL rookie quarterbacks in well over a decade .

Whether or not he wins Comeback Player of the Year or adds to his tally of four League MVP’s , there is no denying that Peyton Manning had an astonishing season in 2012 . He led the Denver Broncos to a conference best 13-3 record , and the fact that they steamrolled their way to the AFC West divisional title , simply indicates to me that the , Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders , and San Diego Chargers , are in all likelihood , going to be playing catch-up to the Broncos for quite a few years to come !

And for the Broncos they now have a home date with the Baltimore Ravens , to be played at Sports Authority Field , in Denver , Colorado ,. The two teams met earlier in the season , in week fifteen , with the Colts coming away with a 34-17 victory over their conference rivals . It was very much a game , that pivoted around the proficiency of both offenses and defenses during a great deal of the scheduled match-up between these two teams. For quarterbacks Peyton Manning and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco , this should be an event , that will provide us with an aerial assault , as well as , a great deal of productivity on the ground , by way of a running game from both the Colts and the Ravens.

Getting beyond the travails of Alex Smith , for whom consistency has been worrisome , considering over the course of his career, it wasn’t until 2011 that we saw some growth , maturity and leadership from the seven-year veteran quarterback, drafted out of Utah State as the # overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. With Smith’s regression in 2012 , it has been his backup Colin Kaepernick , who has stepped to the fore to take this Niners’ team into the postseason. Head coach Jim Harbaugh , had shown all the faith he had in Smith , but once the player became injured , he was left with the backup , Colin Kaepernick. He has grasped that opportunity and relished being the incumbent starting quarterback . On Saturday , we will get the chance to see Kaepernick make his first postseason start and assuage his progress as player within the ranks ranks of the NFL .

The prospective match-up between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers , in a game to be played at Candlestick Park , in San Francisco , California, should prove to be eventful , with an all too weary Packers’ team seeking not to be duped into that false sense of security . And with Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, looking to further cement his legacy , after another exemplary season . This game has all the makings of becoming an instantaneous classic, in more ways than one .

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Picture gallery.

What , if anything , has been the most surprising to you , in terms of the playoff games that have taken place ? And in the divisional round of the postseason , what do you hope to see from the teams participating at that juncture? Chime in, on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

🙂

Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates after an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. Lewis has said he will retire at the end of the season, and the Ravens won 24-9 . AP Photo/Gail Burton …

(2) Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) runs with the ball and gets away from Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) , for a 47 yard gain , during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(3) New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski faces reporters in the team’s locker room at Gillette Stadium following NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. The Patriots host the Houston Texans on Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff game . AP Photo/Steven Senne …

(4) Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (8) reacts to throwing an interception to Cincinnati Bengals’ Leon Hall during the second quarter of an NFL wild card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in Houston. Left is Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins . AP Photo/Dave Einsel …

(5) Denver Broncos coach John Fox , left, and quarterback Peyton Manning (18) watch from the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Denver. Denver won 38-3 . AP Photo/Joe Mahoney ….

(6) Head coach Jim Harbaugh talks to Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park on November 19, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images North America / Thomas W Henderson …

(7) Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson waves as he leaves the field after an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins 24-14 . AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(8) Five quarterbacks who failed to deliver in 2012 by way of a playoff berth for their respective teams . From left to right , Eli Manning , Tony Romo , Ben Roethlisberger , Philip Rivers , and Jay Cutler . All are hoping to rebound in 2013 . …. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …

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NFL Draft (2013) & potential quarterbacks likely declaring their eligibility

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Wale & … Gucci Mane “Pretty Girls”

Who says you can’t go home and be welcomed back like a prodigal son ?

Who says you can’t go home and be welcomed back like a prodigal son ?

By Tophatal

As an ardent and passionate New England Patriots’ fan, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see the team playing at their very best ! Granted , while the offense seems to be clicking on all cylinders , the defense remains a work in progress , leaving a great deal to be desired . For all of the audaciousness and brilliance of head coach, Bill Belichick , he can at times be ever so , conceited . Perhaps , that is the reason behind his brilliance after-all ? The Patriots’ defense is now giving up an astonishing 380 yards per game , ranking the franchise well below the bottom-half of the franchises within the NFL . This lone issue of a porous defense , has remained a sore point , not just with myself , but with the vast majority of Patriots’ fans up and down the country .

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Now while the defense remains an eyesore each week , the offense of the Patriots seems to be as explosive as ever , with veteran quarterback Tom Brady leading the way for the team. However, without that arsenal of receivers and backs , Brady in terms of his performances would be somewhat pedestrian , by comparison to a number of his peers within the league and AFC , this season. Brady , has been joined by his one-time nemesis , Peyton Manning , who himself , has been having an exceptional season , even by his own lofty standards, in putting together a string of superlative performances. And if you doubt my word , simply look at Manning’s escapades this season for the Denver Broncos , as they now seem to be marching towards a successful defense of their AFC West divisional title with consummate ease . . Kind of makes you wonder , if Tim Tebow had remained in Denver , rather than being traded , and now being ridiculed en-mass for his lack play , and the messiness of the going drama with the Jets . One now has to wonder what predicament might the Denver Broncos now find themselves in , had the player remained with the franchise ? Care to answer that very question , at this juncture ?

With injuries now plaguing teams at this point of the season, as they seek to set themselves for the final stretch run of the schedule , franchises around the league are now seeking out unrestricted free agents , or assessing their needs by looking at their practice squads to see if they can find themselves “ a diamond in the rough” . Bill Belichick , and his coaching staff , having seen Wes Welker , Rob Gronkowski , Stevan Ridley and Aaron Hernandez, amongst the Patriots’ frontline players to have gone down injured over the course of the season , the head coach sought out former player , Donte` Stallworth , and signed the wide receiver for the remainder of the New England’s perceived schedule . Having overcome his own personal issues and professional struggles in recent years , and laboring with several teams during that time-span, since he was last in a Patriots’ uniform . It has to be said that this decision by Belichick should not have come as a surprise , given his past propensity in dealing with reclamations projects , such as Corey Dillon ,Randy Moss, and Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) . The most least successful of the triumvirate being , Johnson, whose one season in New England , proved to be counterproductive , rather than being enlightening and to the franchise’s benefit . What might have been more hideous was Chad Johnson’s lack of effort during the postseason and in particular during last season’s Superbowl (SBXLVI) and the New England’ Patriots’ defeat , suffered at the hands of the New York Giants , in their second such meeting , in the NFL’s showcase event .

With the acquisition of Donte` Stallworth , it doesn’t bode well for Justin Edelman , who is at present the Patriots’ injured reserve list having suffered a right foot injury. It is hoped that Edelman will be able to make a speedy recovery in time for the Patriots anticipated push for the playoffs. The team (9-3) has a comfortable lead within the AFC East over their closest rivals , the New York Jets( 5-7), Buffalo Bills (5-7) and the Miami Dolphins (5-7), all of whom share the same record.

New England, coming off what was a hard-fought 23-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins in week thirteen .. The Patriots will face the Houston Texans (11-1) in a highly anticipated game in week fourteen, on Monday night , in a conference match-up between a pair of teams with the best records in the AFC . With that being said, it is quite clear that the Texans will end up with the number one seed within the conference and thereby foregoing the wildcard round of the postseason , in gaining a bye in the opening round. For Gary Kubiak , as the head coach of the Texans , this might well be a blessing in disguise , for his team , as they prepare themselves for their second successive appearance in the NFL postseason in two years. As to whether or not this Texans’ franchise can make a deep playoff run this postseason, will be predicated upon the play of the team’s quarterback , Matt Schaub , and their explosive offense led by wide receiver , Andre Johnson , and running back, Arian Foster . And what has been markedly noticeable concerning the Texans , has been the improvement in the team’s defense in 2012 , in comparison to last season , and in all likelihood one of the primary reasons behind the Houston Texans’ results this season.

Courtesy of NFL.com (New England Patrtiots news’ page)

Donte` Stallworth, New England Patriots to reunite

By Gregg Rosenthal , NFL.com

The New England Patriots are going back to an old friend to help fill a hole on the wide receiver depth chart. And it’s not Deion Branch this time.

NFL.com’s Albert Breer reported the Patriots will sign Donte’ Stallworth on Tuesday, according to a source who spoke with player. Stallworth, 31, has tried out for a few teams since the Patriots cut him in August, but he hasn’t been on a roster this season.

Stallworth’s anticipated signing doesn’t bode well for Julian Edelman, who injured his foot during Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins. He was seen on crutches after the game. The Patriots are lacking depth after cutting Branch last month and losing practice-squad player Greg Salas to the Philadelphia Eagles on waivers.

Stallworth was with the Patriots for their 2007 run to the Super Bowl, and this could give him one last chance to be part of a championship team.

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Looking beyond Monday night’s game , the remainder of the Patriots’ regular season schedule does seem amenable for the team to pull off three consecutive victories . With those upcoming games against the San Francisco 49ers (week15), Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins , to close out their season in 2012. Not necessarily a daunting task , but one, which I believe that Belichick and the coaching staff will emphasize to his players ! That feat , has to be utmost on the minds of the fans’ who will be in attendance at two of the three remaining games that will be played at Gillette Stadium , in Foxborough , Massachusetts , home to the New England Patriots. .

For Donte` Stallworth , I would like to believe, that his return to the Patriots will be viewed as the “return of a long lost , prodigal son” . And while his resume` has never been looked upon as one of the more illustrious careers in the NFL , as that of a prolific wide receiver , who was taken in the 2002 NFL Draft as the thirteenth overall pick in the first round by the New Orleans Saints of that season . Stallworth , as a rookie , had 42 receptions , for 542 yards and 8 touchdowns . If the veteran can be even remotely productive in assisting the team and the plethora of wide receivers on the Patriots’ roster , then it could very well lead to Donte` Stallworth achieving his greatest wish, and to bow out with that much cherished Superbowl ring. However, great deal of that will have to be predicated upon the improved play of the Patriots’ defense , which if anything, has been unimpressive and erratic throughout much the regular season, giving up on average 380 yards per game and ranking the team twenty-sixth overall of the NFL’s 32 teams in 2012 . So for the members on the Patriots’ secondary , such as Jerod Mayo , Vince Wilfork , Kyle Arrington , Chandler Jones , Dont’a Hightower , and Brandon Spikes , as they are expected to raise the level of their play over the remainder of the regular and postseason .

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Whether or not you’re a fan of the New England Patriots , do believe that the team can be seen as one of the justifiable favorites within the AFC for the Superbowl ? Or are you of the opinion that the sole reason for their perceived dominance , can be put down to the fact that the Patriots possess one of the most productive offense in the NFL , along with leadership qualities of Tom Brady ? And how do you view the acquisition of Donte` Stallworth by the team , do you believe it to be a prudent decision ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit , on the subject matter in question and anything else you believe to pertinent on the subject matter in question.

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(1) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady enters a media availability at the NFL football team’s facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia …

(2) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listens to a reporter’s question during a media availability at the NFL football team’s facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia …

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listens to a reporter’s question during a media availability at the NFL football team’s facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Belichick is seeking to take the Patriots to their sixth Superbowl appearance during his tenure with the franchise . AP Photo/Stephan Savoia …

(3) New England Patriots wide receiver Donte` Stallworth catches a ball before a walk through at the team’s NFL football training facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Stallworth was released from the team during preseason and was picked up again this week after wide receiver Julian Edelman was placed on injured reserve . AP Photo/Stephan Savoia …

(4) Houston Texans running back Arian Foster waves to fans as he leaves the field after their 24-10 win over the Tennessee Titans in an NFL football game , Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. With the win , the Texans clinched their second straight playoff berth, a franchise-record 11th win this season, and their first season sweep of the Titans. AP Photo/Wade Payne …..

(5) New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) gestures to fans as he leaves the field after their 23-16 win in an NFL football game , Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Miami. Welker tied Jerry Rice’s NFL record by making at least 10 receptions for the 17th time . He had 12 catches for 103 yards and a score . AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee …

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Lauryn Hill ……. “ Lost Ones “

The Luck Of The Irish …………

The Luck Of The Irish …………

Granted week 5 of the NFL season comes about and there seems to the considered belief that a number of teams now simply struggling to stay alive . Four winless franchises and as pitiful as these performances have been for the ball clubs I am not so sure what to now expect !

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The Miami Dolphins are complete mess on both sides of the ball and incumbent starting quarterback Chad Henne now injured has been lost to the team and it would appear for their entire season . Henne’s backup Matt Moore is clearly not the answer as to the organization’s most dire need. Coach Tony Sparano and GM Jeff Ireland now have a decision to make as what is the Dolphins’ best interest as they seek to move forward without a true starting quarterback on the roster. David Garrard as a free agent remains unsigned but the player’s asking price may well be too high . In what now appears to be an act of desperation on the part of the Dolphins’ front office they have signed Sage Rosenfels . The less said on the matter , it is essentially for the better !

Now rooted firmly rooted at the bottom of the AFC East and there seems no apparent signs that things are about to change for the better as the team embark on their schedule . Team owner Stephen Ross might now have to make take a closer look at his coaching staff and the decisions that have been made the coaches. With the influx of draftees and offseason acquisitions the thought that these players would be able to make an immediate contribution has not materialized . As to what now awaits the Miami Dolphins over the remainder of this season remains to be seen.

If there has been a surprise to this season then it must be the fact that the St Louis Rams remain one of the quartet of teams that are winless . Injuries have plagued Steve Spagnuolo’s roster and the fact that incumbent starting quarterback Sam Bradford has suffered what seems to what many thought to be an innocuous injury but it has somehow affected the quarterback’s play and the team’s overall effectiveness.

The NFC West remains a division of where the quality of play can be best described as being anemic . And with Stephen Jackson simply having somewhat of an indifferent start to his season it certainly doesn’t bode well for the fortunes of this team at present.

There’s not much more that can be said about the Minnesota Vikings that hasn’t been said about this team already. Poor play and a coach in Leslie Frazier who appears to be out of his depth and who has a coaching staff that simply brings nothing to the table by way of their coaching acumen. With Christian Ponder about to be thrown into the fray after Donovan McNabb playing so ineptly the time was ripe for Ponder to be given the chance to prove himself to the Vikings’ fans. If the former FSU Seminole can by any measure showcase his college ability then this team certainly will be better off than having McNabb quarterback the ball club. .

Everything about the Minnesota Vikings would suggest that ” the window of opportunity” for the team has been slammed shut and is not about to open again anytime soon. For years the franchise has sought to be relevant during the modern era of the NFL . Now in the midst of this malaise there seems to be no sense being shown by anyone within the organization from the upper echelons of the hierarchy down to the players themselves.

We are all aware as to the issues now facing the Indianapolis Colts and the loss of quarterback Peyton Manning for the forseeable future . Such has been the conjecture and speculation regarding the future of the player that the statements from the front office of the Colts seemingly changes from one moment to the next . Perhaps none more so than the retraction of a “tweeted statement “ made by owner Jim Irsay . Now with the team off to an 0-4 start to their season and the inconsistent play of Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter one wonders how much worse things can now get for the organization . It is not as if the team is in a position to run off four or five consecutive wins and make themselves a contender within their division much less the conference as a whole .

Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff will now have to coax and cajole this team to play with a great deal more aggression than they have been exhibiting . And with the fact that there seems to be no one on the roster who is looking to assume the role of a leader , it leads me to believe that the Colts will be in for a tough time over the course of this season !

With the problems that the Colts now seem to be having at the quarterback position and there not being what one might deem an abundance of talented free agent quarterbacks available it will be interesting to see what maneuvers will be made by GM Bill Polian in conjunction with the team’s head coach in order to remedy the situation .

At the end of the regular season schedule all eyes will be on the postseason and the teams that have garnered the respective berths for the NFL’s season finales. Those left by the wayside in terms of the teams will be looking to the 2012 NFL Draft and the talent available amongst the declarees . With what appears to be an abundance of talent at the quarterback position the consensus will be that Andrew Luck will be the number one overall pick. The Stanford quarterback has had an outstanding collegiate career and it bodes well for any of the teams in question with the desire to make Luck the face of their franchise . Alongside the Stanford player there’s also Denard Robinson , Kellen Moore , Case Keenum , Landry Jones , Brandon Weeden , Robert Griffin III and Nick Foles to name but a few who may well declare for the NFL Draft.

Given the uniqueness of the situation for a number of NFL franchises and their situation it certainly will be interesting to see the choices being made by the respective head coaches and that of general managers when the time comes to make their draft choices . But as of now we will just have to see the season pans out for the teams mentioned within this article .

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the immediate future of the four franchises discussed within this piece . Which of the quartet do you believe if possible may well end up taking that number one pick overall ? Furthermore , do you believe that the choice in question has to be a quarterback taken by that prospective team ? Simply a comment as to your thoughts anything else that you believe pertinent with regard to this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) SAN DIEGO, CA – OCTOBER 2: the Miami Dolphins the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 2, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 26-16 . Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …..

(2) ST. LOUIS, MO – OCTOBER 2: Sam Bradford (8) of the St. Louis Rams playing with a nagging injury passes the ball against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 2, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Redskins beat the Rams 17-10 . Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images …….

(3) Quarterback Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after throwing for a touchdown during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 2, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images ….

(4) Quarterback Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings is hit by Tyson Jackson (94) and Tamba Hali (91) of the Kansas City Chiefs as he scrambles during the game on October 2, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images ……

(5) TAMPA, FL – OCTOBER 3: Defensive lineman Michael Bennett (71) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackles quarterback Curtis Painter (7) of the Indianapolis Colts October 3, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …..

(6) Quarterback Curtis Painter (7) of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 3, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images ……

(7) Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (12) waves to crowd after Stanford defeated UCLA —- 45-19 in an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Luck threw for 227 yards and three touchdowns. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma …. ….

(8) Landry Jones (12) of the Oklahoma Sooners passes against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida. Oklahoma would go on to defeat FSU 23-13 . Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ……

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Pick Your Poison …… With Manning ….. Without Manning ?

Pick Your Poison …… With Manning ….. Without Manning ?

It seems strange that the Indianapolis Colts could go into the preseason without their four time winning league MVP and Superbowl winning player Peyton Manning . The player having had off-season neck surgery is now committed to a full recovery in time to make the regular season for the Colts’ roster . With the team having Austin Collie now their injury list along with Manning the trials and travails of coach Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff could come undone before it has even started .

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Clearly the Indianapolis Colts’ fans would like nothing better than to see Manning taking the first snap of the regular season rather than Curtis Painter , Mike Hartline , or Dan Orlovsky for that matter . I am not so sure that the Colts’ front office led by Bill Polian has really thought ahead about the day ahead when Peyton Manning is no longer available to this organization . And given the success that the that the Colts have had over the years with Manning at the helm of this team , it has to be said that the loss would be seen as seismic to say the very least . Over the course of his outstanding career Peyton Manning has led this organization with class and distinction and there is not a doubt in anyone’s mind that once his career has come to an end he will be Canton bound to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame .

This organization during the off-season made some moves to bolster the roster as well making the customary draft choices one would deem to be prudent . It certainly gives the fans the impression that the organization is once again set to be dominant not just within the AFC South but also the conference as a whole . Certainly there’s a lot to suggest the Colts are once again the team to beat within the division as I simply don not believe that either Houston Texans , Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans will be a match for this organization over the course of this season . The indications are were that the Texans were making great strides but that simply wasn’t borne out over the course of the 2010 regular season as they simply petered out when it mattered most . For the Houston Texans’ Gary Kubiak this may well be his last chance to prove himself worthy as the coach of this team .

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 19: Mike Hartline (9), Dan Orlovsky (6) and Curtis Painter (7) of the Indianapolis Colts look at play sheets during the game against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ………

In the preseason for the Indianapolis Colts we have seen the frailties of this team without Manning at the helm quarter-backing the team . And it could very well be that if the player hasn’t fully recovered enough in time for their regular season opener against the Houston Texans on September 11th we could see Manning’s longevity in terms of consecutive games’ record will come to an end . From my own perspective I feel that the player will have recuperated enough to don his number 18 jersey and be his customary and efficient self ! There are few players amongst the elite within the NFL who perform with the prowess of Manning at the quarterback position .

I certainly do believe that the Indianapolis Colts will very much have the AFC South to themselves and that is in spite of the offseason moves made by the teams within the division . What may well detract from the possibility of the team repeating as divisional champions could very well be the health of Manning and his ability to last through the rigors of a regular season .

The rookies drafted by the staff will almost certainly be looking to have a productive season having had their initial baptism of fire in the preseason games . Anthony Castonzo, Ben Ijalana , Drake Nevis , Delone Carter and Chris Rucker are sure to prove that the faith shown in them by Jim Caldwell and his coaching staff is justified .

If anything however , it will be imperative for the seasoned veterans on this roster to lead by example should Peyton Manning not be available to them for the first couple of games of the regular season . That has to be the caveat here with regard to the fortunes of this team and how they could very well fare over the course of this year . Certainly last season we saw what the team was capable of in terms of adversity when they were faced with the possibility of failing to make the postseason . The fact that they were able to do so having fought tooth and nail to win the division (AFC South) in spite of the injuries and other obstacles showed the true mettle of this team .

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Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, left, and running back Joseph Addai talk during the NFL team’s football training camp in Anderson, Ind., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ………

Amongst the seasoned veterans that I believe will step up to the plate for this team are Reggie Wayne , Dallas Clarke , Joseph Addai , Dwight Freeney , Gary Brackett and Robert Mathis . But in reality the Indianapolis Colts’ way has been there to be a collective effort from all the members of this team. Most certainly that was something instilled into them by Jim Caldwell’s predecessor Tony Dungy , a coach who simply communicated with his players and made them fully aware as to what was expected from each, on game day .

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By your own estimation do you feel that Peyton Manning could miss the first two or three games of the regular season given his ongoing health concerns ? It hasn’t been confirmed that he will miss the entire preseason but all estimations that seems the likelihood with neither Caldwell , Bill Polian or for that matter Jim Irsay will to make an emphatic statement on the matter . How do you see the Indianapolis Colts faring over the course of the regular season ? And do you feel that without their league MVP quarterback their chances to win the division will be less likely ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on this subject matter and any other thoughts you believe to pertinent . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) FILE – This July 31, 2011, file photo shows Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning speaking during a news conference with the NFL football team’s owner Jim Irsay, right front, at the teams training camp, in Anderson, Ind. Manning says he won’t play the last two preseason games and Colts owner Jim Irsay says his team must be prepared to open the season without Manning behind center. AP Photo/Alan Petersime …..

(2) Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, left, talks with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning following an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Washington won 16-3 . AP Photo/Michael Conroy …….

(3) Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, right, greets Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan following an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. Washington won 16-3. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ……..

(4) INDIANAPOLIS, IN – AUGUST 19: Mike Hartline (9), Dan Orlovsky (6) and Curtis Painter (7) of the Indianapolis Colts look at play sheets during the game against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ………

(5) Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, left, and running back Joseph Addai talk during the NFL team’s football training camp in Anderson, Ind., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. AP Photo/Michael Conroy ………

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What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

What’s Happening In The World of Sports … ?

Well now that the MLB season is slowly progressing towards its halfway point and with the league’s midseason showcase event due in July with the All Star Game being hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field , in Phoenix , Arizona. It well be interesting to see how the teams come into the break in terms of their overall form .

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The standings at present reflect that Philadelphia Phillies seem to be intent on running away with the NL East . They currently hold a 5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves within the division and though it’s way too early to suggest that they will be playing for the NLCS during the postseason but it would appear that the only thing that can derail the Phillies’ season would be their own complacency . Within the NL Central and NL West it would appear the races there are too close to call between the top two teams within each division . Tight races tend to add a great deal more excitement to the season and there’s no doubt in my mind that’s what the fans really yearn . And that is liable to be the case at present within both of the divisions in question .

Within the AL it’s business as usual within the AL East where the Boston Red Sox are now prepared to show that their recent form isn’t merely an aberration. On a two game winning streak and winners of nine of their last ten games the Red Sox now look as if they’re look distance themselves from the rest of the division. Their 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field was certainly a hard fought win but that’s simply the mindset of what now is the most competitive division within baseball. This division to my mind will most certainly provide the wildcard entrant for AL without a doubt unless there’s a monumental meltdown by the runner up to the winner of the AL East.

As was the premise with the NL Central and NL West well once again here too the races may well be too close to call within the AL Central and AL West . What we can be certain of within both divisions is that the teams won’t be giving up until the divisions are mathematically out of their reach in terms of winning or possibly attaining that lone wildcard berth .

Now as much as I know that Commissioner Bud Selig the league hierarchy in conjunction with the team owners have proposed expanding the playoffs’ format by adding two more teams within each league . I certainly believe that the hierarchy’s biggest issue is to deal with the financial problems now engulfing a number of teams within the league rather than adding to the playoffs and further elongating the season far more than it needs to be. I mean it’s not as if Selig has actually shown the propensity for being proactive on any issue unless he’s dragged kicking and screaming , then being forced to make a decision. Simply look at the morass created by Frank McCourt with the Los Angeles Dodgers ? If that’s not enough of an indication to show mind numbingly slow Selig was in acting , given the fact that it had been widely reported that the franchise was financially troubled . Then clearly Bud Selig along with the owners and league hierarchy were in fact so naive but perhaps even more so , too damn stupid for their own good .

I’m not about to try understand the fascination with Ricky Rubio and the fact that the player now says he’s ready to play in the NBA . Granted , having been drafted in 2009 by the Minnesota Timberwolves , the player sought to forgo joining the organization and play an additional two years in Europe where the financial inducement there was far greater than the front office could have offered with a rookie contract. Team owner Glen Taylor and GM David Kahn now feel that the player having made the decision to join the team can provide them with the form and maturity that simply belies his age.

In the aftermath of a horrendous season the Timberwolves now have to deal with the disatisfaction of their incumbent coach Kurt Rambis and the mere fact that neither Glen Taylor or David Kahn have assured their beleaguered coach that he’ll be asked to return next season. With there not being a plethora of viable candidates out there to succeed Rambis should he be relieved of his duties . I would have thought that the the general manager and team owner would want to reassure the coach that his job is safe. Furthermore , with the NBA Draft due to take place on 23rd June I certainly would have thought that a coaching upheaval would be the last things that this franchise now needs . But herein lies the idiocy of how the Timberwolves have simply acted , as if in a vacuum and perhaps one of the reasons why they’ve simply had little success over the last five years. Beset by rather asinine personnel decisions made not only by Kahn but also his predecessor Kevin McHale this organization has never gained any traction in terms of success .

With the Minnesota Timberwolves having the number # 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft it will be interesting to see the decision made by the organization. As such there isn’t a genuine consensus number one pick but the thought is that the two most desirable players could well be Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams . From there , it’s anyone’s guess as to what format will be then taken in terms of the players taken in this Draft .

As the NFL work stoppage has already entered its ninetieth day I can’t help but wonder what the optimism amongst the team owners , league hierarchy and players appears to be about ! Hell, both sides have already alienated the vast majority of fans to begin with . And no amount of public statements coming from both sides concerning the progress now being made can simply hide the fact that what we have are two groups of greedy fucking bastards ! The average salary of an NFL player is $1.9 million per year with the median salary $770,000 and the average career span being approximately three and a half years . I understand that the players are entitled the highest possible salary available to them given the inherent risks of the game . But herein lies my question do they try and identify themselves with the fan out there ? I’ve heard a number of players during this stoppage state their issues are no different from that of any employee in the work place . Personally, I seriously doubt that the working fan who attends an NFL game can actually identify with the likes of Tom Brady , Peyton Manning or even Reggie Bush for that matter when their salaries run into the millions each season . Whereas as the average salary nationwide is approximately $44,000 per year , one can well understand that fan can hardly identify with a player who’s compensation package , endorsements notwithstanding can easily exceed $15 million a year.

From a fan’s standpoint , at this moment in time I couldn’t really care if the NFL starts on schedule as planned on the 8th September 2011 . Once this dispute came into being with a stoppage the NFL simply lost me and many others as long term fans . I’m of no doubt that they will however do their utmost to lure us all back with some form of inducement that we might too unbelievable to turn down . It has already began with a number of teams around the NFL in many cases offering deep discounts on for the purchase of season tickets and game day tickets in a number of instances .

So the US Open golf tournament is underway and all of this without the game’s biggest draw in Tiger Woods . The stage is set at Congressional Golf Club in Bethseda , Maryland for any one of a number of players to step into Woods’ shoes and show the fans they can become the main draw for the event . From my own standpoint the moment made the announcement that he wouldn’t be participating in the second Major of the season I simply knew that the tournament could either become a monumental disaster from spectators yearning for excitement . As it now stands the leaderboard for the tournament midway through two rounds isn’t exactly awe inspiring . Rory McIlroy leads the event with an eight stroke lead at -11 (11 under par). And to think that a patron stated that the player’s meltdown in the year’s first Major The Masters was simply because he wasn’t good enough . I guess when your knowledge of the game borders on the level of Palin’s knowledge of jurisprudence and the number of members seated on the US Supreme Court I guess you simply have to take that for all it’s worth ? Sitting solely in second place is Y. E. Yang at -3 , in third place is Robert Garrigus at .-2.

There is still two more rounds to be played in this tournament but if McIlroy is able to keep his composure with the pressure bearing down on him then it is my belief that he can win this tournament and cement his credentials as one of the best young players on the PGA Tour . Having already established himself on the European Tour as well as a member of a winning European Ryder Cup team the future bodes well for the young Irishman . In an earlier article I had intimated that I firmly believe that the US Open could be won by a foreigner as I felt that the US born players have now simply become too disinterested in their national championship and in large , the Majors themselves . With there being vast sums at stake on the Tour schedule and total prize money in excess of $ 225 million it begs the question are they actually interested in winning or merely cashing a check for a top twenty finish ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ………….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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(1) Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard (6) celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Florida Marlins in the fifth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 3-0 . AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr ….

(2) PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 16: during the game against the at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-0. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images ….

(3) Outfielder B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base as shortstop Marco Scutaro (10) of the Boston Red Sox is late with the tag during the game at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(4) Pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) of the Tampa Bay Rays talks with pitcher David Price (14) during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Red Sox would go on to defeat the Rays 4-2 Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(5) Spanish basketball player Ricky Rubio gives a press conference on June 17, 2011, at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona, to announce that he was leaving the Catalan team to make his debut in the NBA next season at Minnesota Timberwolves.
AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO /Getty Images …

(6) Head coach Kurt Rambis of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a play against the Houston Rockets during a game on April 13, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images …

(7) T’wolves’ GM David Kahn (foreground) and the team’s owner Glen Taylor answer questions from the convened press at a team press conference. picture appears courtesy of espn.com/ ap/photo/ Martin Geshell ……………….

(8) Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shake hands after an NFL game . The two celebrated quarterbacks are amongst the highest paid players in the NFL . Getty Images/ Jim Rogash ……

(9) BETHESDA, MD – JUNE 17: The handwritten scores of Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in the press room during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images ……

(10) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland swings from the bunker on the ninth hole during the second round of the 111th US Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland. TOPSHOTS/AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON ….

(11) Y. E. Yang, of South Korea, watches his drive from the fourth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Bethesda, Md., Friday, June 17, 2011. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

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