Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

Take A Walk on The Wild Side ….

In their frustration to get back to winning ways the Philadelphia Phillies , all but broke the bank in signing Bryce Harper to a thirteen year , $330 million contract . That deal certainly makes Harper the highest paid player on the Phillies’ roster as well as well as the highest paid player in all of baseball by way of a contract. His deal surpasses the one paid to Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees whose original contract was structured by the Miami Marlins . Many believe the game of baseball to be in a healthy financial state due to the continued profitability of the teams by way of revenues and their income. In reality however, with the salary cap in place instituted by the Major League Baseball hierarchy. It’s safe to say the level playing field envisaged by baseball’s s governing body has been anything but that.


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Major League Baseball , much like the NBA and NFL are continually looking for various ways to stream their content to an even wider audience by way of the internet , broadcast television and even on the international scale. The game itself remains popular in Latin America , the Caribbean and within certain Asian countries. Unfortunately, Bud Selig and his successor current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred eschewed their chance to have baseball remain forefront on the international stage by failing to come to terms with the conditions laid out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) . With the sport no longer being part of the Summer Olympics , it’s now left with the less than celebrated World Baseball Classic to provide that international stage for the sport to be more widely recognized. To date, it would be fair to suggest that the WBC (World Baseball Classic) has been far from being a resounding success.

This upcoming season could be a very important one for the Philadelphia Phillies with both Bryce Harper and Pirates’ veteran Andrew McCutchen looking to place this ball-club back among the elite teams within the game. Within the National League , it’s going to be hard to suggest which of the teams will rise to the occasion while looking to usurp the dominance shown by the Boston Red Sox , who many now believe to be the best team in all of baseball. There is no doubt in my mind that they have the deepest roster in all of baseball , with several All Stars at various positions on the depth chart of the roster. The Phillies’ acquisition of Bryce Harper might well be one of the most active off-seasons in recent baseball history , with Manny Machado having been signed by the San Diego Padres to an extraordinary deal and then we had Nolan Arenado remaining with the Colorado Rockies , having been signed to another gargantuan deal.

We’re now just over three weeks away from the start of the regular season within baseball, but for the moment , the Spring Training schedule remains active. There are several games scheduled for Monday afternoon , 4th March as teams seek to find a rhythm before embarking on the Opening Day Schedule, 28th March , 2019. From my own perspective , I don’t believe the teams will actually find their full rhythm until mid-May , early June , with their having several games under their belts.

The NBA has entered the last month of the regular season and there are still a number of spots up for grabs , most notably , only one division appears to be all but decided , while conference berths for the NBA Playoffs are from being decided. It’s strange to see the Boston Celtics struggling along with fellow Eastern Conference representatives the Philadelphia 76ers . Inconsistency as well has injuries, have at some point plagued both teams. Boston for their part have played much of the season without the use of veteran point guard Kyrie Irving , and with their being continued speculation, that Irving might consider leaving the franchise to rejoin former teammate LeBron James who’s now playing for the Los Angeles Lakers . It remains to be seen, how that whole scenario will actually play itself.

The roster of the Boston Celtics was built to win now , with both Al Horford , Gordon Hayward and Irving being the seasoned veterans on the roster. GM Danny Ainge had the blessing of team owner Wyc Grousbeck to do whatever it takes to make the Celtics a competitive force within the league this season. Add in the coaching astuteness shown by Head Coach Brad Stevens and there can be no denying the team has not met expectations sought for this season. However, I do believe, if Irving is back in the lineup , given the team’s experience , they have to be considered among the favorites within the Eastern Conference to reach the Conference Finals for this season.

If there’s a question concerning the Philadelphia 76ers , then it comes down to the lack of coaching acumen of Brett Brown and the use of his players during games and their lineups at certain points during a contest. While point guard Ben Simmons has been lauded for his play there have been times where questions have arisen concerning his being unable to take over games and stamp his dominance in those contests. Joel Embiid , might well be considered the best all-round player on the roster, but again his inconsistency has continued to be questioned and the same can be said of
JJ Redick .

At this point last season , things were very contrived as the teams were seeking to parlay their season into something meaningful. Defending champions , the Golden State Warriors remain the team to beat and as a burgeoning dynasty , I seriously doubt they’re going to be overthrown anytime soon. Kevin Durant and fellow Warriors’ teammate Steph Curry might well be the best one-two combination in the league in terms of their combined offensive prowess.

Make no bones about it, Los Angeles Lakers’ fans might well have felt with LeBron James coming to the City of Angels , things were about to change , but the Los Angeles Lakers have been far from convincing this season. A sub .500 record was not expected of this team at this point of the season and it’s my own belief having not landed Anthony Davis at the trade deadline, has only further solidified the fact that the Lakers are from being the desirable destination , even with the four-time League MVP being there to attract a big name. Should the Lakers miss the NBA Playoffs, then the repercussions could very well be truly damaging and damning for the organization.. The remainder of the Lakers’ schedule is a very tough one and it will be interesting to see how the team fares as they wind down their regular season schedule. The team will be in action this week and their next game will be against the Denver Nuggets at home , a conference rival within the West.

Gonzaga are now back atop of the NCAA Men’s Basketball rankings and it will be interesting to see how this team will fare during their conference championship and in particular within the NCAA Tournament , which begins on the 19th March . While much of the talk in recent weeks has been the loss of Zion Williamson , the player many believe will be the consensus overall number one pick in the NBA Draft. Gonzaga now takes center stage as they seek to win a national title.

OK , with the NFL simply a year round news’ cycle within the North American sports’ market panacea . All eyes now will be set on the upcoming NFL Draft , with the New England Patriots having landed their sixth Superbowl victory within the last eighteen years. One now has to wonder what is now left for the coaching and player tandem of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady . Both are sure first ballot Hall of Fame bound for Canton , and I’d dare say that team owner Robert Kraft will likely join that illustrious duo , pending his current legal status. The Patriots are a dynasty in spite of what naysayers will have to say, Cheating asides, we all know that it’s something that is widespread within the NFL and professional sports in general.For the puritans out there , it’s time to just shut the fuck up and face facts, professional sports is no longer about playing fairly , but making sure you just don’t get caught.

The upcoming NFL Draft could prove to be very interesting along with the current batch of free agents likely to hit the market within the next few days. With teams having until the 9th March to put their affairs in order with regard to retaining players guaranteeing roster and incentive bonuses , this off-season could prove to be a very interesting one , just as it was at this point in 2018 in the lead-up to the 2018 NFL Draft. The consensus appears to be that either Nick Bosa or Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray will be one of the two players taken as the number one overall pick for this Draft. . There is a glutton of quarterbacks who have declared their intent , and it will be interesting to see if Murray’s name is announced as the number one overall pick, joining a long list of passers having been taken in the first round as the overall number one pick. As to the success the player is expected to have , it’s going to be dependent upon where he lands and the coaching acumen shown by the coaching staff involved. The Arizona Cardinals will be the team with that first pick and it’s my belief Kyler Murray will be that player taken by the franchise as their first overall pick .

It’s time for the New York Giants to move on from Eli Manning in spite of the player’s achievements for the franchise. In the last three years alone , Manning has proven his best years are now indeed behind him and that this present Giants’ roster is far from equipped to compete with the best that the NFC has to offer much less the rest of the NFL for that matter.

From my perspective , it’s not in the best interest for the New York Giants to seek a free agent quarterback when they have to their future on the line and to stick with Manning, would be absolutely nonsensical at this juncture. The veteran can best serve the franchise in nurturing the talent of his heir-apparent , rather than continuing not to be held accountable for his own poor play and the lack of real leadership on the field . Much of that blame also lays squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff led by Pat Shurmur . The coach will seek to put some resilience back into this lineup through the upcoming NFL and most likely through some worthwhile off-season acquisitions .

Eli Manning is not due to become a free agent until 2020 , but has a high cap value of over $23 million for 2019. Whatever the New York Giants now seek to do , it will be every interesting to see what transpires.

Jon Jones with his latest victory in the defense of his UFC Light Heavyweight Title , has now cemented his legacy within the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Many purists believe him to be, perhaps the greatest fighter the UFC has seen within its history . I think Jones is by far the best fighter of his generation within his weight class and among the top-five UFC fighters of all-time !!! Jones’ clinical dismantling of challenger Anthony Smith might well have been the best fight of the champion’s career in the last four years. Jon Jones to my mind can now name his own price , by way of his own destiny , because I firmly believe he is now the face of this sport and not an ass wipe such as Conor McGregor .

From my own standpoint the UFC is now at a crossroads as the President of the company , Dana White has to place more of an emphasis on the real stars within the sport, rather than his own personal choices as to whom, he best believes fits the bill to become the face of the UFC.

Which have been the main stories over the past few days within the sports’ that have you enthralled ?


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Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Ten Days In The Valley and There’s Not $hit To Do Except Laugh …

Well the state of California is being decimated by wildfires likely to cost the state billions of dollars and with large payouts of claims , much to the detriment of the insurance companies. Don’t shed a tear for the companies involved , because at the end of the day, the consumer will always ending up paying. As to the state of the professional sports’ franchises active within the state, other than the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Dodgers , everyone else is in a state of disarray. Granted, fans of the NBA are hoping that the teams within Los Angeles will be able to provide some glamour as well as some competitiveness. Yes , I am talking about the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers . It’s like talking about two of the hottest girls you’d like to take to the prom , only to find out that both have self-esteem issues , where both lack eloquence and elegance. Anyone who believes that either of these two teams will be able to beat the best that the West has to offer much less the rest of the NBA has to be severely delusional.


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The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers will begin their respective regular season schedules on the 19th October when they play each other on the Opening Night of their season. With both lineups afresh with new talent beyond the rookies, it will be interesting to see if Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Luke Walton of the Lakers can get the best out of their teams while seeking that first victory to start the season.

Weekend results in the NFL , proved one thing , injuries and lack of consistency will continue to ruin the boldest of ambitions for the teams. Taking Colin Kaepernick out of the equation , but how much worse can things get for the San Francisco 49ers (0-6) ? This is a team that is badly coached , lacks motivation , but above all, the players themselves apparently don’t seem to care. Call it too much kneeling (pardon the pun) or plain and simple, head coach Kyle Shanahan is in way over his head. Team GM Jon Lynch in his first executive position within the NFL has gotten off to a preposterous start. For all of the idiots who believed his draft class for the Forty Niners was one of the best in the franchise’s recent history. I have to ask, what the hell were they looking at when they came to that particular assessment ? The rookies and sophomores on the roster are not particularly good , the defense is abhorrent and let’s just say the quarterback play is way beyond mediocre. If Brian Hoyer is your starting quarterback, simply imagine your team sinking in quicksand. I am not about to suggest the Niners will go 0-16 , but if they do, I won’t be surprised at all. However , I do feel if things get much worse over the next two weeks , then Kyle Shanahan could very well become the first coaching casualty of the season.

In week seven the San Francisco 49ers are due to meet the Dallas Cowboys , for whom this season has already turned into a nightmare . Give Jerry Jones his due , his comments notwithstanding , he is now proving himself to be a monumental asshole , albeit that he has sought to backtrack after his recent comments drew criticism from players on the Cowboys’ roster.

The Oakland Raiders are having struggles of their own and the loss of starting quarterback Derek Carr certainly hasn’t helped. This team simply takes a step backwards without Carr in the lineup. As he goes when at his best , then so does the team. Oakland was in action against the Los Angeles Chargers whose season to date hasn’t met expectations. With veteran quarterback Philip Rivers in the twilight of his career , it’s difficult to see how the team will contend over the course of the season. Sunday’s game at the O. Coliseum provided the fans the chance to see what both of these AFC West teams are made of . The Chargers came away with a narrow one-point margin of victory , while David Carr back in the lineup , played as best he could . Inevitably the Raiders are expected to challenge for the division this season , but as I alluded to earlier it will all be predicated upon the play of the young quarterback . Lofty expectations for a player whose recent contract negotiations led to him being given a hefty pay raise and contract . No doubt the Oakland Raiders will b e looking to make a second consecutive appearance in the postseason, something which they haven’t done in a number of years. Next up for Oakland will be a home game against the division leading Kansas City Chiefs , who are led by the rejuvenated Alex Smith . The former Niners’ quarterback , great during the regular season in recent years has been unable to lead this Andy Reid coached team into making a deep postseason run. Perhaps this will be the year in which they are able to achieve that feat ? Smith’s years with the Forty Niners were ridiculed , but when you take into account the disarray there was with the franchise and the lack of competitiveness , much of the blame should have been laid upon the front office led at the time by former GM Trent Baalke and the coaching staff of Jim Harbaugh , whose relationship with Baalke was seething and coming to a boil. Alex Smith’s last season in San Francisco was in 2012 with the team ending with an 11-4-1 record and their making the Superbowl . Smith was on the roster , but did not take part in the championship game .

Stanley Kroenke might well be one of the richest owners in all of North American professional sports. Forget Michael Jordan’s , $1 billion fortune or Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones . They all pale into insignificance when measured against Kroenke’s and then you bear in mind he is married to Ann Walton-Kronke whose late father Sam Walton was the founder of Walmart , the world’s largest retailer. Their combined net worth would be well in excess of $15 billion , if not more. As the owner of the Los Angeles Rams , whose relocation from St Louis , Missouri to the outskirts of greater Los Angeles , gives the city two NFL franchises , with the other being the Los Angeles Chargers . With the Chargers having their own misfortunes this season, it has been left to the Rams to pull up the slack. Who would have thought at this point of the season the Rams would be riding high, sitting on top of the NFC West ? Led by Jared Goff , a second-year starter in the league , along with Todd Gurley , this team appears to have a pretty potent offense. It remains to be seen if head coach if Sean McVay in his first year in charge can get the best out the Rams while possibly leading them into the postseason. It would certainly be the shock of the season , given the visibility of the Seattle Seahawks who have been the dominant team within the NFC West in recent seasons. The regular season meetings between these two teams should prove to be entertaining once they take place. The first of which happened in week five, with the Seahawks taking that game by the score of 16-10 . Their next scheduled meeting will be in week fifteen on the 17th December , 2017.

What can go wrong for the Los Angeles Dodgers at this stage of the MLB Postseason ? They have a 2-0 lead on the reigning World Series champions the Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers’ pitching staff has proven to be exceptional not only during the NCLS but also throughout this postseason. Yet , there is a caveat and a lesson to be learned . The Dodgers have a way of self-imploding, having a series well within their grasp , only to be caught like a deer in headlights. Against the Cubs , this is not a team you want to let off the hook , having caught them on the end of your line. Joe Maddon as a manager should not be underestimated , as he will find a way to place the Chicago Cubs back in this series.

Game three of the NLCS will revert back to Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois, when when the Chicago Cubs will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A win for the home team will put them right back into the series . Losing and it places the Dodgers in the driver’s seat , having to take only two of the remaining four games in the series. The heroes for the Los Angles Dodgers have been Justin Turner , Kenley Jansen and Kenta Maeda . However , it has been a solid team effort which has led the Dodgers to be just two games away from making their first World Series’ appearance in over twenty-five years. Tommy La Sorda was the last manager of this ball-club to take a team to the World Series and win it outright. Current manager Dave Roberts seeking to achieve what his seven previous predecessors have been unable to do. Were he to achieve the feat , Roberts would become only the second African-American manager to have won a championship after back-to-back series’ titles won by Cito Gaston as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 .

Alabama (6-0) still reigns supreme atop of College Football as they remain unbeaten and already guaranteed a playoff berth in the reformatted system . Elsewhere, in the once highly touted PAC 12 Conference , the once mighty powerhouses seem to have fallen on hard times. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide were hardly tested over the weekend when Alabama faced off against Arkansas , walloping their guests 41-9 in a home stand. The PAC 12 might still be revered , but I have always felt , defense was never part of the makeup of programs within the conference and where offense always remained a constant. The USC Trojans , Washington Huskies and Washington State are the top three teams within the conference based on their overall records . All three teams will be in action this upcoming weekend as will many of the top programs within College Football.

I have no doubt the SEC will produce this season’s National Champion and it seems all but a certainty Alabama will once again be in the mix. They will face Tennessee (Volunteers) in a game to be played on Saturday 21st October . Everything seems to be pointing towards a seventh consecutive victory for the Crimson Tide at this juncture. If Alabama’s fortunes are said to be on the rise then consider the problems now facing conference rivals Florida (Gators) . Let’s just say head coach Jim McElwain , his staff and players have some real issues to discuss. McElwain has seen this team simply fall apart at the seams and it’s not likely to get any better unless the players show signs of improvement. Up next for Florida will be a match-up against Georgia (Bulldogs) in Gainesville , Florida in a game being played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium . One more loss and the Gators will be out of the running for a lucrative Bowl Game once and for all.

It’s official , the Athletics Department of the University of Louisville had their fill with Rick Pitino , Head Coach of the Basketball Program for the university. With all of the mounting evidence and repeated infractions in spite of the denials from Pitino . He was fired with no formal comment from the coach after his dismissal . The writing was on the wall, because in spite of Louisville’s record , the off-court issues were far too much to bear for the fans and school itself. Rick Pitino’s character , lack of judgment , deceit and lies had finally caught up with him . No amount denials or excuses by his supporters or the man himself was ever going to be enough for him to escape the inevitable. There was no way he could continue in his role as the coach of the program under any circumstance whatsoever. Serious violations of NCAA rules, repeated infractions and the lack of oversight all fell on Pitino’s shoulders and that of the Athletics Department headed by AD Tom Jurich , who has since been replaced by Vince Tyra . The Sword of Damocles was wide-reaching as it led to Greg Postel being named Interim University President.

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Rick Pitino , now the former Head Coach of the Louisville Men’s Basketball Team. Pitino along with AD Tom Jurich were fired from their respective positions after revealed improprieties concerning the basketball program. There is also a federal investigation of Pitino and four other NCAA Basketball Head Coaches , which could lead to further penalties of the programs involved. Rick Pitino has denied any wrongdoing on his part or by any of his associates. There is mounting evidence to suggest the head coach has been less than truthful with some of his comments.

Rick Pitino’s future now looks bleak and his chances of returning to the collegiate ranks as a Head Coach are less than zero .

The firing of Rick Pitino might be the best thing to happen within the world of College Basketball , because for far too long , coaches like Pitino have been placed on a lofty pedestal not just by the fans, but also by the idiot members of the media , who would rather write meaningless stories , rather than seek out the truth when there is wrongdoing on the part of these coaches. It might even lead to coaches not skirting the rules , taking heed and changing how they conduct themselves professionally. Jim Boeheim’s denials concerning his assistant Bernie Fine , still leaves a disgusting taste in one’s mouth. A sexual predator whose proclivities rival that of Jerry Sandusky , whose close confidante was none other than Joe Paterno , then Head Coach of Penn State . Needless to say, the ensuing cover-up initiated by certain members of the Board of Trustees of Penn State , dragged the school’s reputation further into the ground.


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From rags to riches and back to rags again, this is what we are likely to see over the remainder of the sporting year as it relates to the sporting topics raised in this article. What thoughts if any do you have on the subject ?

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Tophatal …..

Rarefied air and toxicity ….

Rarefied  air and toxicity
The sports’  world is all aghast and with good reason , we have seen the  New England Patriots reign supreme unmasking  the  Atlanta Falcons  as being something of a fraud, even if the   Superbowl  itself was an exciting game . What cannot be denied as evidenced with the coverage of this game,  was the very fact the Falcons  fell apart during the finals eight minutes of regulation play  before the contest went into overtime,  with New England prevailing for their    fifth win   of the Lombardi Trophy.

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The victory placed Patriots’ head coach  Bill Belichick    and the team’s quarterback    Tom Brady  in   rarefied air , as the only head coach and quarterback in NFL history with five  Superbowl rings to their names. The   NFL remains a year-round league in terms of the ongoing news’ stories to be found and it will be that way throughout much of the off-season as the league now has its free agency period, as well as the upcoming     NFL Draft . The New England Patriots will have the privilege of taking the   last pick     in the  first round    of the Draft, which is befitting the best team in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this all Bill Belichick and his      coaching staff    seek to bolster the   current     roster     with a fresh crop of players to add to the Patriots’ arsenal. Break-out players for New England   during   the regular season were     James White  whose heroics in the Superbowl was there for everyone to see. As were the talents of White’s teammates ,who ably abetted Tom Brady as the quarterback would go on to win his fourth Superbowl MVP Award.

This off-season should prove to be interesting for the New England Patriots as well as the other teams around the NFL as they seek to bolster their respective rosters through, free agency , trades and the NFL Draft. It could all prove to be very fruitful for the Patriots based on their past experiences , especially over the last five seasons .

Kyle Shanahan has now become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers , succeeding Chip Kelly , whose firing along with that of GM Trent Baalke did not come as a great surprise to many. However, it was Baalke’s successor which might well have taken everyone off-guard, as team CEO Jed York made the formal announcement that Jon Lynch , former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ player would be hired for the position. Lynch has no NFL front office experience and with Shanahan now assembling his own staff, it will be extremely difficult to see how this franchise can be seen as being in a position to be competitive this upcoming season. This past season was one of sheer incompetence on the part of the coaching staff as well as the players , as the Forty Niners labored both on and off the field of play. Their record was reflective of that very fact with their being no signs of competitiveness at any point during the season. Colin Kaepernick was a mere shell of the player who guided the team to a Superbowl appearance less than five years ago. Kaepernick’s teammate Blaine Gabbert , whom Chip Kelly threw his weight behind as being the team’s starting quarterback at the start of 2016, was equally incompetent in the role. There is no doubt San Francisco will be looking to draft a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft or they will be seeking a free agent passer of proven ability .

Carson Palmer will be returning to the Arizona Cardinals for the 2017 regular season and during his five years with the franchise, Palmer’s leadership has come into question. Under Bruce Arians the Cardinals have become more resolute, but postseason success for this franchise has been lacking. One could seek to blame the veteran quarterback for this or place the blame elsewhere by placing it squarely on the shoulders of the front office , where GM Steve Keim leads the staff. Keim was a replacement to for Rod Graves , but whose tenure as the general manager for the Cardinals, saw highs and lows.

Having failed to make the postseason in 2016, the Arizona Cardinals will have to assess the roster and look at where the improvements will have to be made as to the makeup of this team. If there are deficiencies on the Cardinals then clearly, it starts with the secondary and the fact the defense showed how vulnerable it just happened to be. Larry Fitzgerald the veteran wide receiver on the playing staff, still seeks that elusive Superbowl ring and title as a player. Considered to be one of the best receivers in NFL history , it is hard to believe that during his career , Fitzgerald has never been able to play on the NFL’s biggest stage with an appearance in the “big game ” itself. It was rumored Larry Fitzgerald was considering retirement and were that to take place , then it would leave a considerable gap in the Cardinals’ lineup for next season. It is hard to envisage how the Arizona Cardinals would look without their veteran receiver on the roster, but with the league now being about the here and now , the window of opportunity for this team is now closing fast.

The Atlanta Falcons’ destruction of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game was as embarrassing for the team as it was for not only the NFL, but also for the fans watching. In spite of what Aaron Rodgers might now feel concerning the Packers, this team simply wasn’t prepared for the game. A great deal of the blame must lay squarely on the shoulders of Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff . Green Bay’s front office have already begun to take swift steps to shed players from the current roster , with the first casualties being veterans Sam Shields and James Stark . Yet , I do believe the pairing will not be the only ones to be let go during what is likely to be a turbulent off-season for the Packers !

Aaron Rodgers was among the NFL’s best quarterbacks during the regular season , but his performance and that of his teammates against the Atlanta Falcons left a great deal to be desired as the Green Bay Packers fell to the Falcons , losing by the score of 44-21 .

The fallout from the head coaching dismissals in the NFL was not much of a surprise , but I do believe many of the firings were warranted , as several of the head coaches in question, simply obfuscated their responsibilities , created a toxic atmosphere within their regimes, while also failing to acknowledge their own shortcomings.

Rex Ryan having been dismissed by the Buffalo Bills has continued to behave like a spoiled child whose pacifier was taken away from him , along with his rattle and assorted toys. The fact that he led the Bills into a deeper morass as the season progressed , simply showed that he was completely out of his depth and never capable of leading the players to any type of success envisaged by team owner Terry Pegula or the organization . Buffalo’s downward slide is likely to continue, as the team’s depth is sorely lacking at just about every position imaginable . Many of the players on the Buffalo Bills’ roster are likely to be gone during this off-season , as they seek to pare down their cap , creating enough cap space for some acquisitions beyond their likely draft choices.

Having seen a triumphant New England Patriots’ team win their fifth Superbowl , the fans of the Buffalo Bills can only admire their AFC East rivals from afar wondering what might have been.

Through unconfirmed sources, it is rumored Jeffrey Loria , erstwhile owner of the Miami Marlins reached an agreement to sell the South Florida based MLB franchise for $1.6 billion in what would prove to be the second largest sale of a ball-club in baseball history. Only the $2.156 billion paid by the consortium headed by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Earvin Magic Johnson , for the auction ( sale of then bankrupt) of the Los Angeles Dodgers , has there ever been a large sale or purchase of a professional baseball team. The purchasing consortium for the Marlins is made up several businessmen , but one name which comes up as part of the buying group is that of John Kushner , brother to Presidential adviser Jared Kushner , who just happens to be the son-in-law of Donald Trump . Now one can speculate as to whether or not there might well have some sort of White House influence concerning this impending sale remains to be seen, but given the ongoing incompetence shown the current Presidential administration and the idiocy of Trump’s own special adviser Kellyann Conway , it would be reasonable to assume , nothing as of now, would appear to be off-limits.

It should be noted there was no transparency seen when former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was seen consorting with several members of the Miami Dade County Government and the Miami City Council in the lead-up to both government entities taking a vote on whether or not Marlins Ballpark would be a publicly funded expenditure , when the stadium was built at the cost of over $600 million ,through a mixture of taxes , bond issues , which could end up costing both the city and county as much $3 billion , because of the structured financing of the project.

Only now have the chickens come home to roost , while Jeffrey Loria will walk away with a cool $1 billion in his pocket . There hasn’t been this sort of financial malevolence since Frank McCourt , former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers , who filed for bankruptcy protection of the ball-club in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from his wife. McCourt was said to have used the ball-club and several of its assets as part of several private business deals , all of which contravened the bye-laws of Major League Baseball , but not once did Bud Selig or any member of the league hierarchy seek to formally press charges or seek Frank McCourt’s removal as a franchise owner within baseball while this was all going on . It should be noted Selig and then MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner claimed that the Dodgers were a well-ran organization, with its finances meeting the league’s own stringent financial threshold . Clearly , without an audit having been conducted by MLB , this was all a big fat lie.

Jeffrey Loria presided over one of the two World Series’ triumphs by the Miami Marlins , but it has been several years since their last appearance in the MLB Postseason and during that time , little success has been evident for the organization. Managers have come and gone, as too have several famous players . Yet , some how in the midst of this all, Loria , David Samson and GM Michael Hill have pulled the wool over the eyes of the fans. Since the opening of the Marlins Ballpark and its inaugural game , the venue has never been filled to capacity for a home game. Subject to the MLB approval and the ratification by the owners , this proposed sale could be passed unanimously be the next meeting of the league hierarchy and team owners or with an emergency being called. This latest scenario could provide the MLBPA (Players’ Union) with all the ammunition they need to seek a major increase with regard to baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement (CBA) . Something I firmly believe the owners as well as the league hierarchy will want to negotiate from a position of power, rather than staring down the barrel of a sawn off shot-gun with the union firing their volley of shots across the bow of Major League Baseball.

For years as a team owner Jeffrey Loria plead poverty , but yet he in conjunction with Bud Selig, coerced local politicians to finance a deal so outlandish, it places both the city of Miami and Miami Dade County with a fiscal crisis , which many would determine was actually of their own making. Concessions will have to be sought from the new owners of the Miami Marlins that the team will not be relocated and that all agreements now in place will be adhered to. As to the competitiveness of the team in its present form , a great deal of this will be based on the managerial acumen shown by Don Mattingly and his managerial staff .

The death of Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez shook this Marlins’ organization to its very roots, along with the fan-base of the ball-club. It will be hard to replace a player of Fernandez’s stature and popularity. His teammate , Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be the vocal leader of this team alongside seasoned veteran Ichiro Suzuki . While I believe the Miami Marlins to be a good team on paper , I do not expect them to be a legitimate contender within the NL East , much less a favorite for the NLCS Pennant or the World Series itself. There remains far too many flaws in this lineup and I believe Don Mattingly hasn’t proven himself to be a manager capable of winning the big games that really matter !

The Miami Marlins will begin their Spring Training Schedule with a game against the Houston Astros on March 1st at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas , before embarking on their regular season schedule, where their Opening Day Game of the regular season will be against the Washington Nationals on the 3rd April , 2017.

There has to be something real troubling when a former player of an NBA franchise creates more excitement on a basketball court than the home team itself. This was the case when Charles Oakley was arrested and escorted away from his seat at a recent New York Knicks’ game in Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York . The Knicks were playing the Los Angeles Clippers in a home game against their Western Conference opponents . Oakley got into a verbal altercation with court-side staff and the former NBA star directly a profanity laced tirade against the employees. Knicks’ team owner James Dolan has since issued a statement , advising and informing Charles Oakley he is no longer welcomed to attend games at Madison Square Garden , with or without an apology from the former player.

Clearly, Charles Oakley’s behavior was unwarranted, but the banishment I believe was certainly an over reaction from the owner ! The employees were not physically assaulted by Charles Oakley and in the heat of the moment , his anger got the better of him as the situation got out of hand. Oakley’s reputation is well-known around the NBA and it has been chronicled thousands of times , as his play was a reflection of his image and persona , a bad boy, perhaps one of the toughest players in the league among his contemporaries. Just a pity that sort of grit and determination is not shown by the current crop of Knicks’ players. Their loss to the Clippers has been reflective of what is lacking in the team over the course of this season.

Next up for the New York Knicks will be a contest against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon and with New York having lost on Friday night in a game against the Denver Nuggets , I have to now ask myself are the Knicks one of the most incompetent teams in Eastern Conference other than Brooklyn Nets when it comes to facing opponents from the opposing conference ? I will continue to say this about Phil Jackson , he may well know how to win championships and to inspire championship caliber players , but when it comes to assembling a competitive roster , he simply knows nothing at all . It has been his ego all along , which has proven to be fallible and the entire reason why the New York Knicks will continue to be a rather mediocre team ! Jackson brings along his own toxic mess and utter stupidity , while his admirers look on from afar, lapping it all up as if it were perfection .

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What have been your most recent observations taking place within , the NFL , MLB and the NBA which have given you the cause for greatest concern ?


  Tophatal    …… 


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It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

It never rains ,but it does pour and then there’s the 1,000 pound Gorilla in The Room …

Well , with the  NFL Pro Bowl   having    taken place   and their being a     victory    for the    AFC    in   defeating     the NFC   , the league can now put to past another meaningless event as part of the      postseason . From my own perspective there is no amount of tinkering which can be done which will make this game all the more appealing for the fans ! These games are always non-competitive and the sole reason for this exhibition , is simply lure the fans out once again and their for them to spend their money needlessly.  NFL   Commissioner    Roger Goodell    and the league hierarchy continue to sell the fans a bill of goods , which is of no real value and then bear in mind , the league still wishes to expand not only the postseason format , but also the number of teams to possibly include a franchise in Latin America as well as Europe. In this day and age , with the current President’s policy of America first, I am beginning to wonder if the league might become all the more jittery concerning President    Donald Trump’s    reach with his new agenda.

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The NFL’s biggest showcase event of the season will take place this Sunday at the NRG Stadium in Houston , Texas, when the Atlanta Falcons will face the New England Patriots in Superbowl LI (51) . This will be the Patriots’ seventh appearance in the big game as they seek to win their fifth Superbowl , while the team’s quarterback Tom Brady will seek to join Hall of Fame players Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana , as the only quarterbacks with four Superbowl victories to their name. Brady and the New England Patriots are likely to be seen as the presumptive favorites in this game, while opposing quarterback Matt Ryan and his teammates will be looking to upset the apple-cart and pull off what would be Falcons’ biggest win the franchise’s history. No doubt Atlanta’s billionaire owner Arthur Blank will be hoping to witness a victory for his team, after the near misses and the real consolation that after the era of Michael Vick , the Falcons can now be viewed as one of the league’s more respectable teams.

If this Superbowl game goes to form , then the fans should be in for a thrilling event , with both teams having been very good through much of the regular season , with each having risen to the occasion in the postseason. Matt Ryan’s record against the New England Patriots is not an enviable one, whereas for Tom Brady , this could be business as usual , considering the three-time Superbowl MVP’s record in the postseason as well as the big game itself. Get ready folks , as the fireworks will be explosive and certainly deafening . The pace of this game could very well be dictated by the pass offense of both teams and the defensive capabilities shown by both secondaries , but it would be remiss not to suggest the rush offense won’t come into play. With over one hundred and fifty million viewers likely to be watching the game domestically and a further 1.6 billion worldwide , this will be the television event of the year as it has been repeatedly over the last two decades.

Two years of frustration and it all led to the firing of head coach Chip Kelly and the subsequent dismissal of GM Trent Baalke by the San Francisco 49ers , as the franchise looks to retrench itself . Kelly was simply abysmal and this constant idiocy of his being a coaching genius , borders on the stupidity of Donald Trump having the wherewithal to defeat ISIS . Ego and outlandish statements cannot make up for common sense and intelligence , for which , both Kelly and Trump are indeed short off ! At no point during his NFL coaching career has Chip Kelly ever been able to get his teams play competitive football. This was clearly indicative of the abysmal season by of the Forty Niners in 2016. How else can you explain the team’s 2-14 record , with a defense which was nowhere to be seen, while the offense continued to spiral out of control faster than fecal matter being flushed down a men’s restroom cubicle ?

In the aftermath of the firing and drama surrounding Colin Kaepernick , the Forty Niners now find themselves at a crossroads , with many calling for the York family to relinquish control of the team and selling the franchise to someone who actually cares about football , as well as the organization itself. The team’s CEO Jed York has now made the decision to replace Trent Baalke and his decision to name a successor , has actually caught everyone off-guard , with the naming of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ strong-safety Jon Lynch . The player has never held an executive role in the NFL , since his retirement and the absurdity of this decision will either come back to bite the Niners in the ass or it will be seen as an ingenious move along the lines of Ozzie Newsome being hired run the operations of the Baltimore Ravens . Newsome has guided the franchise to two Superbowl victories, while several of his picks have produced Pro Bowl caliber players . One could equate Lynch’s hire with that of Matt Millen’s tenure with the Detroit Lions and the abysmal chapter for Lions , while Millen was in charge of all personnel decisions for Detroit. Needless to say , the fans were angered and his dismissal could not come fast enough. I would hate a that a similar fate would await Jon Lynch , but how can anyone have any faith in a member of the York family , as owners of the San Francisco 49ers. Since the departure of Eddie DeBartolo , this franchise has been adrift in an ocean of continued mediocrity .

If Jed York and his family were to consider selling the San Francisco 49ers , then the team could be sold for in excess of $3 billion , based on today’s value alone , without considering their market demographics , as one of the league’s best supported teams. Yet, for the moment, this will all be pure conjecture and a great deal of speculation as to the nature of the ongoing story-lines concerning the Forty Niners.

All of a sudden the Miami Heat have hit a rich vein of form having won seven straight games and placing themselves in with a chance of garnering a playoff berth , but it should be noted with the All Star Game still at the forefront of the players’ thoughts , albeit they still have two weeks of play before the break. It should be noted there has been a great deal of debate about the gross error in judgment by the fans and the continued idiocy of the league hierarchy of allowing the fans have the greatest say in the players placed on the starting rosters for the East and Western Conferences. The omission of Russell Westbrook speaks as to the lack of intelligence among the vast majority of NBA fans and their lack of in-depth knowledge of the game of basketball. To my mind, I feel as if the fans believe they are in fact voting for a contestant on the now defunct television reality show American Idol .

If the fans are being entrusted to with this sort of endeavor in voting for the All Star Game rosters solely based on popularity , then you might as well do away with the game altogether as well as the rest of the festivities which encapsulate the whole weekend encompassing the event. Russell Westbrook is having an exceptional season by anyone’s standards and this idiocy of fans stating their unimpressed shows , might be an indicator of what might be wrong with the NBA in general , they are far too impressed with style over substance. Westbrook has been added to the Western Conference roster as a reserve by Steve Kerr , who will be the coach of the team representing the West. It will be interesting to see how much playing time will given to the point guard during the contest.

Over the past ten days , the league has been very tops-turvy by way of the results and the all too inconsistent play seen from the players and the teams . Yet, still leading the pack within their respective conferences are the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East and the Golden State Warriors in the West. A repeat of last season’s NBA Finals seems to be what the fans want, even if there is once again going to be a great deal of controversy along with the way, with some rather dubious calls from among the officials . There still remains a great deal to play for and the fans seem to be loving every minute of what has been seen this season to date. There will be several games on tap for Monday night , of which the most interesting might be the contest between the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics , two teams vying for dominance within their divisions as well as having an eye on the NBA Playoffs this season.

Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics has proven himself to be the vocal leader on this Brad Stevens’ coached team . The Celtics have proven themselves to be the surprise team in the East this season , as seen with having the second-best record in the conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Serena Williams emphatically stamped her authority on the game of tennis, by winning her twenty-third Grand Slam singles’ title , defeating her sister Venus Williams in the Australian Open Singles Final. In doing so, Williams surpassed the mark of Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Steffi Graf , whose mark of twenty-two has stood for over a decade. Now the question becomes where does Serena Williams rank among the all-time greats among the female players to have graced the professional ranks of tennis?

In what turned out to be a tremendous Men’s Singles Finals , Roger Federer defeated one of his greatest adversaries , Rafael ‘Rafa ‘ Nadal of Spain. This five-set thriller graced the Rod Laver Stadium in Melbourne, Australia , as thousands watched this enthralling game , simply giving the fans everything they could have wanted and a great deal more . Sportsmanship was there to be seen , as was the athleticism and aggressiveness from both of these great players . Sadly, both of these players are now at the twilight of their careers and from my own perspective , Men’s tennis will be all the worse , once they make the decision to make an exit from the game. All due respect to Andy Murray , but your number one ranking , is something of a joke at present !

Spring Training is still over a month away , but already teams have been to assemble their rosters by way of their free agency acquisitions , non-roster invitees and no doubt there will be still more trades to come. Fans are already making a prognosis as to which prospects will be able to contribute for their ball-clubs this season. No doubt the reigning World Series champions will be looking to make a successful defense of the title they won with ease last season.

Major League Baseball really does need to provide the fans with something special this upcoming season and I don’t believe the World Baseball Classic will do anything to add to the perceived notion the game has been losing its way over the past five seasons. Teams continue to be profitable , because of the ever increasing admission prices , concessions and dare one say it , with the renewal of licensing agreements and television contracts, the league hierarchy led by Rob Manfred and the team owners will continue to gloat.

Mike Trout has added another ALMVP award to his resume’ , but the thing one the player desires the most is a World Series ring and championship acclaim. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Los Angeles Angels will getting there anytime soon. With each passing year of near misses or just downright bad luck , this franchise’s continuing downward slide provides little hope for Trout , that his dream will ever come true. Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia , I do not believe he will be managing this team next year, should Los Angeles fall short of Arte Moreno’s wishes. Moreno , the impassioned owner of this team has stood by and given full reign to successive general managers and it has all been to no avail. For Mike Scioscia it’s now all in or bust , or he will be fired with the speed of lightning .

The Los Angeles Angels’ exhibition schedule will be somewhat rudimentary , but the real battles will begin with their regular season schedule and off-course Opening Day . The first game of their 2017 season schedule will be against the Oakland Athletics (A’s) on the 3rd April , 2017 at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California . The struggles of the A’s were apparent for all to see , with their pitching and hitting being inconsistent throughout much of last season . Now with the moves made it will be interesting to see what else will be done by GM Billy Eppler to bolster the roster for the upcoming season. One thing for sure , Mike Trout cannot do it all by himself as he has been asked to do , ever since he first played in an Angels’ uniform in 2012.

When baseball fans start to prognosticate about prospects (up and coming players) it is either , because they have nothing else better to do or they are simply reminding us why their team or teams might have been bad last season. From my own standpoint, these so-called prospects will not be making that great an impact in their first season. Consistency is they key , but not many are able to keep it all up over the prolonged season of one hundred and sixty-two games. Their contributions will be what they are , nothing more and nothing less.




Picture gallery and by clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture alongside a narrative.

What aspects of the recent news’ stories have you found to be the most intriguing and with the Superbowl just a few days away , do you believe the game will meet all expectations one feels we are using to seeing ?

🙂

Tophatal  … 01/30/2017

Related article : https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new

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One step forward , two steps back ….

–While the NFL world continues to show its idiocy , the sheer bewilderment and utter stupidity of sports’ fans over the stance taken by San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the national anthem. When one considers the fact many of Kaepernick’s detractors are basing their criticism not only on race , but also their belief the player is a self-absorbed narcissist , speaks volumes as to the impasse which now can be seen in the nation along racial lines in large part, but also among the African-American race , questioning the player’s loyalties. Criticism has also come from current and former NFL players and also from within the political arena. Yet, those with their criticisms somehow seem to have forgotten athletes such as Muhammad Ali , Jim Brown , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Althea Gibson , Jackie Robinson , Bill Russell , Dave Bing , Arthur Ashe , Jack Johnson and several other prominent activists , who also happened to be athletes , questioning the direction of the country as to the ongoing social injustices taking place. Throughout history , athletes have questioned the social ills of this country , but it would appear , given the continued racial divide , its felt better that they be seen and not heard, especially if they just happen to be a minority.

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This story still rages on and somehow, no one questions he behavior of Maine Governor Paul LePage his calling for a race war and the gassing of the Democratic members of his state legislature . Somehow this type of behavior can be overlooked by a leading state executive , but the moment an athlete does something not deemed befitting within his normal parameters he will be questioned as to his loyalty and patriotism. One can consider the sheer and utter stupidity also of former New England Patriots’ safety Rodney Harrison and his claims of Colin Kaepernick not knowing what it is like to be growing up as a young black man in America , but his being from a white privileged background. Unfortunately, this was something of a rather asinine statement from the retired veteran , who had he chosen to do some research into Kaepernick’s background , he would find that the quarterback had been born of a white mother , African-American father and was placed into the adoption system at an early age , because of the criminal activities of both parents. The player would be adopted by a Caucasian family and raised as their own, without his ever being denied his racial ethnicity by his adoptive parents . Harrison has since apologized for his statements and with good reason.

With the beginning of the 2016 NFL regular season less than forty-eight hours away, teams are now settling themselves in for the onslaught for a long and arduous season. Chip Kelly has made the decision to install Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback for the team and while the speculation remains Colin Kaepernick will likely be traded or his career in the NFL coming to an abrupt end. I have to question whether or not Kelly will reconsider his position should the team start to lose with alarming regularity to begin their schedule ? Outside pressure is also being brought to bear on the current situation befalling Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers with the Santa Clara Police Department stating they are not prepared to provide safety and security protection for the public for any games at Levi Stadium , home to the Forty-Niners , if the player is in the team lineup . One also has to wonder at this juncture, if the San ta Clara Police Department would be still willing to continue their strike action after it was revealed the Niners’ fullback Bruce Miller attacked a seventy-year old man in a vicious assault. Miller has since been released by the organization

Chip Kelly and his coaching staff will prepare the San Francisco 49ers for the opening game of their regular season schedule when they face the Los Angeles Rams . Blaine Gabbert might well have done enough to convince Kelly he is ready for this game , but Gabbert’s track record in the league is far from desirable . . From my own perspective , I believe the Forty-Niners are likely to struggle this season as I have no confidence in Chip Kelly as a head coach . It was an act of desperation on the part of Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York to hire the embattled head coach after his failures in Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Eagles .

The NFL season will likely be filled with controversy throughout much of its schedule and to my mind given the premise , this league loves controversy and willingly courts it with as avarice as one would expect of a sports’ entity built solely as a profit making behemoth .

In what will be his final year of an already Hall of Fame worthy career Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz will be hoping to leave the game of baseball on a high. Ortiz and the Red Sox are in the midst of a very tight AL wildcard race where absolutely nothing can now be left to chance , with there still be so much left on the line . John Farrell and his managerial staff will prepare the team for their scheduled game on Tuesday afternoon when they face the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park in San Diego , California .

The Boston Red Sox will be looking to make inroads into the divisional lead of the Toronto Blue Jays within the AL East . David Ortiz has been lucky enough to lead a very good Red Sox team which has seen many of their younger players stepping up to the plate. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr have been ever-present with their play, while Rick Porcello leads the league in wins among starting pitchers in the Majors . Boston could prove to be among the most dangerous teams in the playoff hunt given their recent play , but a great deal of that will now be predicated upon the performances seen over the remainder of their regular season schedule in the month of September. David Ortiz for his part has been showing the form which has made him one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball over the past ten years . Ortiz is considered to be among the front-runners for the AL MVP Award , an individual award the seasoned veteran has never won. Should the Boston Red Sox make the postseason , then I expect the team to hit a rich vein of form and be among the most competitive of the AL teams. Fans of the game know quite clearly what David Ortiz is capable of doing when he’s playing at the top of his form . As he leads , so the rest (teammates) will follow.

The Chicago Cubs are slowly making g believers out of everyone and that gratitude has to be placed firmly upon the shoulders of team manager Joe Maddon and his managerial staff . Maddon has seen his team run away with the NL Central division, having already secured their place in the postseason.Yet , the goal appears to be with the team , win out and win convincingly over their opponents as they round out their regular season schedule. On Tuesday night the Chicago Cubs were matched up against the Milwaukee Brewers in a game being played at Miller Park , in Milwaukee , Wisconsin. The two most impressive players on the Cubs’ roster this season have been Kris Bryant and Jake Arrieta , but a solid mention should also be given to Jon Lester who has been stellar as the number two starter on Chicago’s pitching rotation .

Joe Maddon and his team will renew their ongoing series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday afternoon looking to further increase their lead over a divisional rival. A one-hundred win season doesn’t appear to be beyond the Chicago Cubs , with the ball-club having already notched eighty-nine wins to their credit , with only twenty-four games left on the remainder of their schedule. As recently as 2008 and then again in 2015 , the Cubs came close to achieving that mark only to end up with ninety-seven victories in each of those seasons and also making the postseason . This year the ball-club will be hoping to make it to the Holy Grail with an appearance in the World Series itself and they will be looking to atone for the years of mediocrity since their last appearance in the ‘Fall Classic’. The Chicago Cubs’ highest pinnacle in the game came in 1908 when they claimed the World Series , with a series’ victory over the Detroit Tigers .

Prospects , prospects and even more prospects . At this time of the year with teams failing their passing grades , it becomes the time of the call-ups from the Minor Leagues and into the Majors. All of a sudden after several years of misspending and this season with there being a lack productivity from their offense, the New York Yankees have taken it upon themselves to flip the script and see what their youngsters can provide for this team. From my own perspective , I feel that both Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman have shown little faith in the farm system of the Yankees. Granted , this season , Luis Severino has stepped up to the plate as one of the few bright spots on the team alongside Masahiro Tanaka , Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez . There can be little doubt the New York Yankees are a long way off from where they need to be , in spite of the claims of Girardi the team is still in with a chance of making the postseason. Should they make it , then it will be a short-lived appearance during the early rounds.

Currently 3 ½ games out of a wildcard berth , the New York Yankees would have to pray the five teams ahead of them in the wildcard standings, will have an absolute meltdown over the next three weeks. Of late the Yankees have been playing above average ball, going 6-4 over their last ten games .

Joe Girardi seems extremely optimistic , but I do believe it is the only approach he can take for this team to the postseason, given the resounding disappointment they have been . At the start of the season there was a great deal of hope surrounding the Yankees. Mark Teixiera was thought to be injury-free and Alex Rodriguez after a stellar 2015 , the feeling was both of these All Stars would be producing . Instead, for the better part of this season , Teixeira has been on the DL , while Rodriquez has simply whiffed at everything sent his way over the strike zone. It was not at all surprising the decision was made by front office to release Alex Rodriguez , bringing to an end one of the most controversial careers in baseball over the last decade. Mark Teixeira formally announced that this season would be his last in Major League Baseball and his leaving the game sooner than expected. One could understand the reason why Brian Cashman and members of the Steinbrenner family came to the decision , given the financial commitment to both of these veterans at the start of the season exceeded $40 million .

As the New York Yankees wind down the remaining games on their schedule for the month of September , it is easy to suggest this ball-club is now playing for a sense of pride and self-respect. On Wednesday evening the Yankees will be playing host to the Toronto Blue Jays in a game to be played at Yankee Stadium , in the Bronx, New York . Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays will be on the mound as the starting pitcher against a yet to be named opponent.

Is there anything that the Tampa Bay Rays are able to do competently other than to lose with alarming consistency ? Derek Shelton the team’s hitting instructor was fired and Chad Mottola was promoted from their Minor League System to succeed Shelton. I am not so sure what that will actually achieve for a team which has now lost their best player , Evan Longoria and the productivity he brings to the table for the Rays. Pitcher Chris Archer has only shown fleeting moments of brilliance and somehow in one of the more asinine moves of the season GM Matt Silverman traded Matt Moore to the San Francisco Giants and in the aftermath of the deal, he made the announcement the team was better for the trade , with the acquisition of the players brought in to facilitate the transaction . I have to wonder at the direction this ball-club believes it is heading in , never-mind the ongoing issue of seeking a new stadium , which will come at the taxpayers’ expense.

Kevin Cash and the Rays’ managerial staff have a team which is deeply devoid of talent on many levels . A last place finish within the AL East appears to be on the cards along with possibly the worst record in the AL . Something of which seems to be reminiscent of the old days when this franchise was regular seen as the “laughing stock” around the game of baseball under former owner Vince Naimoli and during the early years of the ownership under Stuart Sternberg . If there was any doubt as to how bad things have been going for the Tampa Bay Rays , then you only have to look at the team’s play over the course of the season their losses and the number of series won.

Kevin Cash and the managerial staff will be preparing the team for today’s game when the Tampa Bay Rays take to the field to face the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg , Florida . I expect the contest to follow the current and regular season series between the two teams , with the Rays once again falling to their divisional foe. From hereon-in whatever unfolds for the Tampa Bay Rays will be predicated upon the mindset of the team and managerial staff.

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Picture gallery . There is an accompanying narrative to each frame . Simply click unto that picture to view.

While the idiot sports’ fans , general public and media continue to weigh in on the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick it does seem somewhat asinine they have no sense of history and the fact athletes in the past have questioned social injustices taking place throughout the nation’s history , specifically over the last six-plus decades. For a country which professes to take injustices and seeks to address them with reverence , it is becoming abundantly clear this is all nothing more than a fallacy .

As the regular season of baseball comes to a close which teams do you believe will have the most to prove and are likely to viewed as contenders for the World Series ?

🙂

Tophatal ….. 2016/09/07
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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.

 

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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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