I came to warn Caesar, not to praise him

I came to warn Caesar, not to praise him

Well, the big story in the NFL at present is the league hierarchy’s apparent punishment of the New England Patriots and their Superbowl MVP winning quarterback Tom Brady . The player and the franchise were punished for their apparent actions during the AFC Championship game victory over the Indianapolis Colts . As serious as the claims are said to be, with the league fining the Patriots $1 million , Brady being suspended for four games and having forfeit two future draft picks in the NFL Drafts of 2016 (first round) and 2017 (fourth round) . I am not so sure what this fine will or actually make a dent in the tens of millions of dollars in of revenues reaped annually by the New England Patriots ! If the findings in the Ted Wells’ report are anything to go by , then I believe the punishment should indeed fit the crime . Unfortunately, the scales of Justice within the NFL when meted out under the auspices of Roger Goodell , it often tends to be that of a parent merely scolding a child,by merely spanking them across their backside and then telling them not to do it again.

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Wells’ report finds that members of the Patriots’ staff were uncooperative and evasive during their investigation and in many instances are said to have refused any of the questions being asked of them by the league’s investigators. To my mind , the NFL now seeking to be arbiters of some form of justice, is somewhat like the investigations conducted by the Roman Catholic Church and the sexual abuse that rocked the church over the past ten years. Simply passing the buck, or obfuscating their own responsibility has become something of a widespread pattern of behavior and stupidity by the NFL.

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GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the podium following Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24 . Kraft was a main supporter of Roger Goodell succeeding Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner . Roger Goodell has yet to issue a public statement on the findings from the Wells’ Report , leading many to believe he is seeking to distance himself , as a way of seeking to be impartial. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Don’t look now, but some fans still believe this league can overcome this type of bad publicity, while remaining popular. During this past season, the league has found even more ways of shooting itself in the foot , without the apparent aid of anyone else helping them along the way. Goodell , as NFL Commissioner , has even admitted he made mistakes. Well Roger they’re piling up and I seriously doubt we will be seeing the last of your now comic and epic mistakes ! If there were to be an Oscar awarded for the portrayal of stupidity , then the commissioner would have the inside track and be the leading contender for the award.

Tom Brady is likely to challenge his suspension (four-games) with the backing of the NFLPA (union) and the likelihood , he will mount a defense , stating the league’s investigation was not only biased , but lacked credibility . Team owner

From my own standpoint , I find this whole spectacle to be one big charade , with the league simply looking to save face among its fans while seen to be doing the right thing . The media for their part seem intent with the fanning of flames and also showing their ongoing stupidity. Yet, what else would be expect from the cabal of buffoons , who cover the sport in print , on the radio and on television ? There remains a great deal more to this ongoing spectacle as it is likely to played out in the coming weeks , if not months.

For the Indianapolis Colts, in the aftermath of their lopsided loss , there has been nothing of note coming from within the organization by way of public statement . GM Ryan Grigson and team owner Jim Irsay have remained silent . Something of a shock from the Colts’ owner , given his penchant for making rather asinine statements . But I believe Irsay’s silence has more to do with the fact he was one of the more prominent owners who supported the hiring of Roger Goodell to succeed Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner. Best not to show opposition to the beleaguered executive and simply have others outside the game voice their indifference as the league stands behind their man , even as his repeated pratfalls continue to make a mockery of the NFL .

Mandatory rookie camps are not yet officially in session , but already the unthinkable has happened with Jacksonville Jaguars’ draftee and line backer Dante’ Fowler , with the player being lost to the team for entire preseason and regular season . Given the plight of the Jaguars last year, Fowler’s loss will be seen as a disaster. For head coach Gus Bradley and his coaching staff this now provides them with the opportunity to assess their options within the team’s secondary. LaRoy Reynolds will now have to prove himself worthy partner to seasoned veteran, Geno Hayes as the Jaguars seek to bolster a defense which stumbled throughout much of last season.

Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles, this will be the season where will either see the progress in the player’s ability or has often been the case with so many second-year starting passers their regression . Bortles is expected to lead this Jacksonville team with the expectation of their being able to compete in what is likely to be a fairly competitive AFC South division.

Gus Bradley and his players will begin their preseason schedule with a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at EverBank Field in Jacksonville , Florida on the 14th August , 2015 . This will be the first of Jaguars’ quartet of contests making up their exhibition season. With the regular season getting underway on 10th August when the Jaguars will have as their guests the NFC South based Carolina Panthers led by Cam Newton . This game should tell us a great deal about both teams , especially with regard to the Panthers , their ascent , while there just happens to be the flagging fortunes of the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan is proving that his contract and game are more a of a hindrance , with his being unable to lead the Falcons to any type of meaningful win during the postseason. ” Father Time ” has begun to catch up with Drew Brees and his teammates , while Sean Payton looks like a desperatel man searching for answers.

I will say this for Trent Baalke and Jed Yorke , they are certainly putting on a brave face after the departure of Jim Harbaugh to the Michigan Wolverines . Mutual consent or not , the one thing we now realize was the very fact the San Francisco 49ers’ front office had lost all respect for their once revered head coach . A disastrous sojourn around the league in 2014, and the . inconsistency of not only Colin Kaepernick as well as the team , without delving into the off-field antics of several of the players. It led many to believe Harbaugh had lost sight of discipline and respect among the roster. A fractured relationship between the Niners’ head coach and the franchise’s lead front office executives was certainly the “ writing on the wall” and for the imminent departure of Jim Harbaugh . His successor, Jim Tomsula has a tough act to follow ,given his predecessor’s success with the Niners.

A rookie head coach , an organization in transition , upheavals and in recent years their biggest divisional rival has now ascended to become one of the biggest teams in not only the NFC but the entire league . So much of the 49ers’ perceived dominance in recent years with the quick rise of the Seattle Seahawks . Their divisional contests this season should prove to be thoroughly entertaining as Jim Tomsula seeks to match wits with his counterpart Pete Carroll. It will be interesting to see if Colin Kaepernick can rebound after a disastrous season in 2014. If not, then the Forty Niners will be in for a dire time this upcoming season among their rivals and the league enlarge.

San Francisco will kick-off their schedule with a Monday Night contest against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi Strauss Stadium in San Francisco , California , on 14th September , 2015.

If ever there was a franchise in the NFL whose constant scrutiny causes endless debates , then other than the Dallas Cowboys , the organization in question would have to be the Washington Redskins. With due deference to the Oakland Raiders and their lackluster performances over the last ten years. The Redskins have been embroiled in the sort of incompetence not often seen in the league , even with the bankroll of team owner Dan Snyder.

Political correctness asides , issues with the franchise’s logo and name , the question remains when will the Redskins have some semblance of success? . Robert Griffin III leading the team to a divisional title and a postseason appearance in 2012 , only to be followed up by two years of abysmal inconsistency and failure , speaks volumes as to how overrated this franchise remains. Jay Gruden is still trying to find his footing and also having to deal with the egos of Griffin and his immediate backup Kirk Cousins . If that wasn’t enough, throw in the fact Dan Snyder’s ego is as large as FedEx Field itself. In some respects. the Redskins’ owner models himself after Jerry Jones , but without having the responsibilities of being the general manage . A task currently undertaken by Scot McGloughan , whose first draft class with the Redskins is considered to be a success and perhaps the franchise’s best in the past six years.

The main issue facing Washington for the upcoming season, will be how to get the best out of Robert Griffin and an offense which sputtered , while also seeing a great deal of improvement from the team’s secondary, which seemed to give up point and yards at the drop of a hat throughout much of last season. Their regular season will prove to be a tough one , with all four teams within the NFC East looking to gain a competitive edge over a rival. Dallas , the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants will be looking to make point as to their ambitions for the season.

For Washington , if they and Robert Griffin are to have any semblance of success, then their first four games to start the season will have to be a resounding success with at least a minimum of three wins if they are to have any sort of momentum. Their first regular season contest will be against the Miami Dolphins at FedEx Field , Landover , Maryland, on 13th September , 2015. Match-ups between these two teams have proven to be entertaining and it would be the very first time that Robert Griffin has faced the Miami Dolphins in a regular season game . Likewise also , for his opposing number Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins as he looks to prove himself to be one of the better young quarterbacks in the AFC.

It is not difficult to explain the reasons why San Diego Chargers have failed to make a deep postseason run during the NFL Postseason . The franchise has been ill-served by the numerous bad decisions made by a succession of head coaches down the years . From Mike Riley to Marty Schottenheimer , to Norv Turner and down to Mike McCoy, this franchise has simply stumbled from one season to the next. San Diego’s last postseason appearance came in 2013 , ending with a divisional round loss to the Denver Broncos with a 24-17 defeat. For Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers this was another heartbreak in an otherwise stellar playing career in the NFL and with the organization. It is hard to say how history will judge the ten-year veteran who stands second all-time in franchise’s career passing yardage , but who leads Hall of Fame legend Dan Fouts in career wins for the franchise.

With Chargers’ GM Tom Telesco contemplating the trading of Philip Rivers prior to the NFL Draft and with apparently no takers for the veteran . The team will start off their season with Rivers at the helm for the offense, as they begin their preseason exhibition games. Alternatives at the quarterback position for the Chargers are not encouraging, should Rivers come down with an injury. Prospective free agents at the position are there, but I am not so sure they would fit the system Mike McCoy has in place concerning the Chargers’ passing offense. San Diego will have Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions as their guests at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego , California on the 13th September ,2015. Relocation or not the Spanos family may well see this as the last season where Phillip Rivers will be in a position to lead the Chargers to a Superbowl appearance.

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Based on the suggested evidence in the Ted Wells’ report do you believe the punishment mandated by the NFL hierarchy is appropriate or is not severe enough given the extent of the charges leveled against the New England Patriots ? Also, with the NFL Draft having taken place which teams benefited the most from the exercise and which teams failed to meet your expectations ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site and the associated content !

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Big game , no shame ….

Big game, no shame …..

As the big game is merely four days away and with the countdown clock clicking down hours, minutes and seconds to the NFL’s postseason showcase event of the Superbowl . The two teams in preparation have been the center of attention for an event through the usual media thrust, which has attracted the world’s press as well journalists not normally associated or known to cover the NFL and specifically the Superbowl. Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks will be viewed as the home team when they take to the field fend off the quest of the New England Patriots seeking to gain their fourth Superbowl victory in fourteen years and their sixth appearance in the event , all coached by Bill Belichick , who alongside quarterback Tom Brady will be seeking their fourth postseason victory and the raising of the Lombardi Trophy.

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The NFL will know that their showcase event will be the most watched televised program nationally, with an estimated viewership exceeding 105 million viewers and a global audience in excess 1.4 billion watching this sport’s spectacle. With advertizing revenues exceeding $4 billion and major corporations willing to pay $4 million for a thirty-second slot , this averages $130,000 per second and most televised ads for the Superbowl are no longer than two minutes, it easy to understand why the Superbowl has become so lucrative for the league , as well as an economic impact worth tens of millions of dollars, national and worldwide exposure for the city staging the event. The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale , Arizona will be the venue staging Sunday’s game , with Pete Carroll seeking to win the Seattle Seahawks’ second Superbowl and making a successful defense of the title they won with a great deal of ease last season in defeating the languid Denver Broncos with a lopsided 43-8 victory. last season

This season’s Superbowl provides us with two evenly matched teams, where both their defenses and offenses have proven to be extremely resilient. The opposing running backs LeGarrette Blount and Marshawn Lynch have had their fair share of success during this postseason, postseason with Blount being spectacular in New England’s 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts where the running back claimed three touchdowns in the game.

For team owners Paul Allen, billionaire entrepreneur owner of the Seahawks and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots this gives both of these high-profiled individuals a chance to make themselves visible to not only fans of the NFL but also the global recognition perhaps they would not be usually accustomed to , but it should be noted, Allen was one of the main driving forces behind the inception of software giant Microsoft , whereas Kraft, is the owner of The Kraft Group of Companies , a privately owned and held conglomerate. Bragging rights are on the line for both of these NFL franchise and where for the second time in two seasons we have the two best teams contesting the right to be called a Superbowl champion. With the word ” dynasty” being so often being thrown about to describe teams who have aspire to attaining success winning multiple titles within a specific time-frame, it must be said the Patriots and Seahawks are genuinely seeking to have their names placed among the elite of the NFL’s most successful franchises during the Superbowl era .

With Russell Wilson, now seeking to achieve what no other NFL quarterback with less than sixteen postseason games to their resume’ has been able to do, in winning a second Superbowl. It could be said the 2012 third round drafted quarterback is now well on his way to NFL immortality. Tom Brady for his part, his regular season and postseason resume’ speaks volumes as to what he has been able to achieve. A fourth Superbowl victory would place the famed Patriots’ quarterback alongside Hall of Fame inductees Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana , with four Lombardi Trophy wins to their name . With both of these quarterbacks likely to be at their very best, I believe this game could be one of the very best in recent NFL Playoff and Superbowl history !

Richard Sherman and his opposing counterpart Darrelle Revis will also be center-stage, as the Seahawks’ corner-back looks to justify his claim of being the best in the NFL, whereas the Patriots’ Revis, after his great season will simply be looking to aid his teammates in their historic quest.

The 2015 NFL Combine will provide teams and their coaching staffs with the opportunity to assess the college players who have declared their eligibility and looking to be a high draft prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) who have the top draft pick in this upcoming draft will be hard pressed to overlook the talents of Oregon (Ducks) quarterback Marcus Mariota the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner . The Buccaneers had a slew of woes, which cast a giant shadow of the course of the team’s regular season and obviously explained their dismal regular season record. Head coach Lovie Smith, his coaching staff and GM Jason Licht will be facing a tough decision, do they forgo Mariota, trade down and gain several additional picks or take a player who many believed to be the most dynamic in College Football during 2014 ? With neither Mike Glennon or Josh McCown being able to provide the Buccaneers will a passing game competitive enough to compete within the league and a defense which was simply mediocre at best , it has to be said the NFC South based franchise is caught between a rock and hard place .

Where the Buccaneers seek to go in terms of their draft choices will be based upon the needs Lovie Smith and Jason Licht best fits the needs of the franchise. Several free agent players on the team’s roster will likely be jettisoned , as both the head coach and general manager seek to avail themselves of even more cap space for the upcoming season. With their being several marquee free agents looking for a big payday , Tampa may well seek to obtain to make a big splash in the free agency market by way of an acquisition. From this point forward , it will be interesting to see what rumors are likely to emanate from within the organization as they they seek to position themselves for the NFL Draft.

Jerry Jones may well have been satisfied with the fact the Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East and made the postseason for the first time since 2009. Yet, for all of the bravura by the lugubrious owner, this team still failed miserably. I can only surmise apathy remains the norm for a franchise and a fan-base, who believe it preordained that beyond a rite of passage, they are meant to be in the postseason each season. Tony Romo’s playoff record is simply one of the many reasons why the Cowboys are unlikely to win a Superbowl in the near future beyond the fact Jason Garrett is simply a lousy big-game head coach, especially during the postseason , never mind the regular season, when all is said to be on the line. Other than the Philadelphia Eagles’ , a team whose head coach Chip Kelly remains clueless when it comes to the fact that defense is needed when it actually comes to winning games. The the Cowboys were never seriously challenged within the division throughout the season, with the Eagles simply throwing away the opportunity to win the NFC East outright.

This off-season the biggest obstacle face Jerry Jones as the general manager of Dallas Cowboys , will be decision of retaining either DeMarco Murray or Dez Bryant , two of the primary reasons why the franchise was so successful this season by way of their record . Bryant and Murray as highly prized free agents at the running back and wide receiver positions will certainly be looking to be offered contracts commensurate with their standing in the NFL .

Having to make the decision between the choice of Bryant and Murray , will not be tough, even with the salary cap likely to exceed $156 million for 2015, it does not leave the Cowboys with a great deal of wiggle room, unless Tony Romo is willing to redo his contract and lower the sum of $27.7 million he is due in 2015 . It remains the only way Jerry Jones can retain both players, unless he is willing to jettison several members of the current roster he believes to be superfluous to the Cowboys’ needs. I would hazard a guess, Jones will keep his cards close to his chest , rather than letting on what his final decision is likely to be !

The fallout this off-season, with the customary managerial firings witnessed, should not have really come as a big surprise. Marc Trestman , Rex Ryan and Mike Smith were either complacent or simply did not do enough to motivate their respective teams . Just looking at the poor performances of the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons provided us with enough of an indication how poor a season all three teams had during 2014.

The fallout this off-season, with the customary managerial firings witnessed, should not have really come as a big surprise. Marc Trestman , Rex Ryan and Mike Smith were either complacent or simply did not do enough to motivate their respective teams . Just looking at the poor performances of the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons provided us with enough of an indication how poor a season all three teams had during 2014. Jay Cutler , Geno Smith and Matt Ryan , it could be said they led the NFL by way of their inconsistency over the course of the season.

While it seems highly unlikely the Bears , Falcons and Jets will pursue a quarterback in the NFL Draft or via free agency , one way or another these teams will have to address the issue and the reasons why, all three players failed so miserably, beyond looking at their respective salaries and value of their contracts . Former Bears’ GM Phil Emery must have been in a drunken stupor or was he was actually cajoled into making Jay Cutler among the highest paid players in the NFL with his seven-year $126.7 million deal ?

The more things are said to change , the more they tend to remain the same. Not much has changed for the Oakland Raiders over the past three seasons in terms of their play or seeking to improve their divisional record . Another season and yet another coaching change, with Jack Del Rio succeeding the departures of Tony Sparano and Dennis Allen who were at some point during 2014 season the head coaches of the Raiders. If the situation , which unraveled leading to a 4-12 season was not enough of a disaster , then consider the fact some fans of the franchise tried to suggest Derek Carr was the future of the Raiders in terms of having a quarterback who could lead this team. The Raiders proved to be no more of a challenge for their opponents during their season than their record would suggest. Those four victories if nothing else, simply suggested how mediocre this season just happened to be , without delving into the fact that neither Tony Sparano or Dennis Allen brought anything new to the table by way of their coaching acumen.

Del Rio will assemble his own coaching staff , while having to deal with GM Reggie McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis have shown a propensity to make the most asinine of decisions concerning the player personnel for the franchise. There is likely to be another rash of “in-house cleaning” as McKenzie seeks to cut away the “dead weight” from the roster. There are more pieces to be found on the Raiders , than a patch-work quilt, but at least a quilt , is likely to have its uses . In the case of the Oakland Raiders, they were about as useful as a bucket filled with holes and used as a receptacle to hold water.

This NFL postseason has seen its fair share of controversy , highs and lows . Yet for all of the drama which has unfolded, we will still be drawn to the spectacle of the Superbowl. Whatever the outcome might be, the best the league can now hope for is a competitive game, rather than another blowout, as was the case in 2014.

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Picture gallery.

Of the two teams participating in this season’s NFL showcase event, which franchise do you believe will prevail on Sunday evening ?

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(1) Russell Wilson (3) greets Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots after a game which took place at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington , on 14th October , 2012 . Wilson engineered a come from behind win defeating the Patriots 24-23 on the day. The two teams will meet again this Sunday in Superbowl 49 , where the Seahawks will be looking to make a successful defense of the title they won in Superbowl 48 , defeating the Denver Broncos with ease in a lopsided victory . Seattle Times / Dean Ruiz .

(2) Tom Brady , left and Russell Wilson . The two quarterbacks will both be seeking a another win of the Superbowl, while possibly looking to add their name to the Superbowl MVP . Something of which Brady has done before as a player for the New England Patriots . Wilson was among the Seahawks’ nominees when his team won Superbowl 48 . AP Photo / Paul Brooks

(3) The opposing head coaches of Sunday’s big game are Bill Belichick , left, of the New England Patriots and Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks . Carroll preceded Belichick as the head coach of the Patriots where he spent three years in his capacity at the position of head coach of the AFC East based franchise. USA Today Sports/ Joe Nicholson

(4) Robert Kraft , billionaire and team owner of the New England Patriots. Kraft will be looking for the franchise to win their fourth Superbowl this upcoming Sunday , becoming only the third ownership group with such a distinction . The Rooney family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Bartolo’s of the San Francisco 49ers are the others with the honor of achieving the feat in question. AP Photo / David Murray

(5) Paul Allen , owner of the Seattle Seahawks and one of the wealthiest individuals in America and among the richest people in the world . Allen is often seen at the home games of the Seahawks played at Century Link Field in Seattle , Washington , where he is known to be extremely passionate about the franchise he owns . Getty Images North America / Bill Patterson

(6) Darrelle Revis (24) and Richard Sherman (25) , considered to be among the two best corner-backs currently playing in the NFL today , with both players being outstanding defensive players for their respective teams . Sherman will be looking to add a second Superbowl ring to his list of accomplishments , while Revis seeks the first of his career. Courtesy of ESPN .

(7) Teammates , Dez Bryant (88) and DeMarco Murray (29) of the Dallas Cowboys , had outstanding seasons for the franchise breaking single season records , while leading the Cowboys to their first playoff appearance since 2009 . Bryant and Murrary are free agents during the off-season and it is not known if Jerry Jones will be able to retain both players , signing them both to long-term contracts. The only possible way for the situation to work in the Cowboys’ favor would be a restructuring of Tony Romo’s contract where the player is due to receive $27.7 million for 2015 or the franchise cutting several other players from the roster thought to be superfluous to the team’s needs. A decision is likely to be made in the run-up to the NFL Draft . AP Photo / Chris Jones

(8) Jan 16, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Jack Del Rio (center) with Oakland Raiders’ general manager Reggie McKenzie (left) and owner Mark Davis at press conference to announce his hiring as Raiders’ head coach at the Raiders practice facility. Del-Rio becomes the franchise’s ninth head coach in the last eleven seasons . USA TODAY Sports/ Kirby Lee

(9) Dec 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; (left to right) Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper and Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon and Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota pose with the Heisman Trophy during the pre-announcement Heisman finalists press conference at the New York Marriott Marquis . All three collegiate players are likely to be first round draft picks in the 2015 NFL Draft . The question remains to be seen , who will become the number one overall pick in the first round. USA Today Sports / Brad Penner

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The Lombardi Trophy .

Cronyism , alive , kicking and damn well doing well in the NFL and in being part of our daily lives

Cronyism , alive , kicking and damn well-doing, well in the NFL and in being part of our daily lives …

After yesterday’s rather embarrassing display in the NFL , I am beginning to wonder how the league hierarchy and in particular NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will try to suggest that the game itself was a rousing success , as a branding and marketing of the NFL for a global audience . An expectant worldwide audience of over 1.3 billion people were in fact subjected to one of the most lopsided Superbowl games in NFL history , from what were we informed were two of the best teams in the league all season long . Perhaps , we ought to have really read more in the week two preseason meeting between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks , as Russell Wilson and his teammates subjected the Denver Broncos to a 40-10 mauling . Rightly or wrongly, we are told that we should never read much into the preseason and whatever takes place there, as the games are meaningless . If that appears to be the case, then can someone explain to me , how in the most important game of the season , the Superbowl , an experienced quarterback such as Peyton Manning and his accompanying teammates can once again manage to lay a goose egg with another inept performance of such gigantic proportions ?

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Sunday’s thirty-five point margin of victory in Seattle’s staggering pounding of the Denver Broncos , where the Seahawks’ defense simply steamrolled and outplayed the Broncos’ offense , was not the largest winning margin in Superbowl history ,but by all means it may well have been the most embarrassing , when one considers that we were led to believe that the two combatants were the best that the NFL had to offer all season long in 2013. Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, in their 43-8 victory , gained the NFC West based franchise their first Superbowl victory of their existence. For owner , Paul Allen this was indeed vindication in hiring the former USC Trojans’ head coach .

Pete Carroll can now go off into the off-season , knowing that his previous experiences within the NFL can now be cast aside as he joins growing throng of head coaches to have won a Superbowl. For opposing head coach , John Fox , this was once again a season of missed opportunities and questions will certainly abound as to what went wrong, and why things went wrong and so abysmally for the Denver Broncos and their presumed to be, high-octane offense. Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen and the team’s President & Head Football Operations John Elway , have now seen the team falter two years in succession , after a great deal of anticipation in both 2012 and then again this past postseason . It is pretty much safe to say, that the two lead executives will go about reassessing the roster and the team’s needs overall , as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

What seems eerily strange throughout this contest between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks , was the very fact that John Fox and his coaching staff appeared be at a loss in how counter Seahawks’ every move . Perhaps , it was me , in expecting far more out of Fox as a head coach , given his pedigree in that role !

For a team that might not have been seen as an odds on favorite over the Seattle Seahawks in this Superbowl title match-up , the Denver Broncos were certainly expected to make this game a competitive one. Instead, it became a lopsided affair, with only one team , seemingly eager to display their all-round talents. Something that was effectively done and continually on display thought the game by the Seattle Seahawks , in particular from a defense that was hell-bent on showing why they were the best defensive unit in the entire NFL over the course of the regular season . Russell Wilson, in only his fifth postseason start , can now be called a Superbowl champion. His teammates, Richard Sherman and Superbowl MVP winner Malcolm Smith , are not likely to rest on their laurels , as they seek to make a successful defense of their title at the start of next season. . Seahawks’ GM John Schneider having succeeded John Idzik , has assembled a roster of veterans , as well as a group of young and versatile players at several positions amongst the team’s depth chart . It bodes well for the Seahawks, if they are able to keep the greater part of the team’s roster, as they seek to embark on the defense of Superbowl 48. Granted, they are likely to lose a number of players through free agency and attrition , but with . the salary cap possibly kept in line with the 2013 figure of $124.8 million. It could well lead to the front office being a significant player during the off-season , in seeking retain players , as well as signing a couple free agents to meet the team’s needs.

With the postseason having come to a close within the NFL and stories having been written , with differing plot-lines having been envisaged at the start of the preseason as well as the regular season. It must be said, that the arrogance shown by Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy has simply been nothing short of astounding. Several teams as we know, failed to live up to expectations and with a postseason finale that bordered on being so abysmal, by way of the lack of competitiveness. Any type of postscript to be made by the commissioner that concerns the Superbowl and his selling the game as being a tremendous success cannot be seen in any type of positive light .

The economic impact of a Superbowl can lead to anywhere between $2 and $3 billion being infused into a local economy , and it is understandable that the state of New Jersey harbored the ambition to host this event at the NFL’s newest venue , at MetLife Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey, which just happens to be home to the New York Giants and New York Jets . John K Mara , President & CEO of the Giants went so far as to suggest that no matter what the outcome of the event , it was his belief that MetLife Stadium should now be placed on the list of venues that should be hosting future Superbowl games. Mara, off course, is quite within his right, to make such a suggestion, as is his wish. Yet, were it not for what we know to be the fact that the league and specifically owners such as himself, making outlandish demands of the governmental agencies repeatedly , while a great deal of the time offering them little in return, other than the so-called privilege of stating that they have an NFL franchise within their locale.

Roger Goodell professes his wish to see the NFL grow on a global basis and for the past several years , the fans have seen preseason and regular season games being staged in Mexico City , Toronto and London , England. Yet, for all of that un-abashed gimmickry by the league, in selling the game in spite of annual revenues exceeding $8 billion , the NFL still faces an uphill battle to compete against the likes of the NBA and soccer on the global stage. One factor that hinders the league’s process, comes down to the fact that the NFL’s most highly visible players are not known on a worldwide basis as of yet, in spite of the league’s slow but growing profile in Europe , the Far East and on the African continent.

It will be interesting to see the direction taken by the Cleveland Browns after another inauspicious season , with the firing of Rob Chudzinski and his being succeeded by the newly appointed Mike Pettine , a first time head coach in the NFL. Team owner , Jimmy Haslam , having narrowly escaped being imprisoned , for what he now tries to suggest were actions by subordinates within his company , that were completely unknown to him , now has to convince the fans and players that he is indeed an owner , who will take a great deal of interest in the franchise and its future ambitions . The singular biggest issue for the franchise, may well be, whether or not they can keep faith with Brandon Weeden as the team’s starting quarterback . The player, since his elevation to the role, has been wildly erratic , in not being able put together consistently efficient performances , leading many to now believe that the front office will likely draft a quarterback , while also possibly acquiring a free agent during the off-season.

Having finished with a 4-12 record , afoot of the AFC North and barely being competitive throughout this past season . It is easy to understand why the Browns are now said to be seeking a new direction. If nothing else , it may well give the fans hope, but in reality , it just about creating the perception that the organization is seen to be trying in earnest , in seeking some semblance of success. If Weeden is not the answer for the Browns at the quarterback position, then I expect Mike Pettine to seek out an alternative , for that specific role !

Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the decision to cut short Greg Schiano’s reign as the head coach of the team. A lackluster season and the idiocy of claimants that with the players putting together a three-game winning streak , it meant that Schiano’s position was safe, because of that streak . What, they seemingly failed to realize, the very fact the head coach was ill-disciplined in terms of his coaching style and defensively the team was simply bust . Finishing just ahead of the bottom of the table Atlanta Falcons within the NFC South was a further sign of a lack of progress made under Greg Schiano , after all of the pageantry at his being made the head coach.

Schiano and ousted former GM Mark Dominik simply failed to acquire the players needed, to foster some semblance competitiveness over the course of the season. Add in the fact, that amongst the playing staff, there were few memorable moments for the fans to feed off , as well as their being a complete lack of leadership from anyone on the roster over the course of the year. The apathy of the fans of the franchise, remains , with some trying to point to the fact that this is still a very young team. I guess, having seasoned veterans such as Vincent Jackson and Darrell Revis , simply counts for nothing in their eyes ? And it remains a constant , amongst the fan-base of this franchise.

The hiring of Lovie Smith , a disciple of the Tony Dungy coaching philosophy, it will be very interesting to see the type of dialogue that takes place between Smith and Mark Dominik’s successor , Jason Licht , a former front office executive within the Arizona Cardinals’ organization. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to have any semblance of success , then both Licht and Lovie Smith will have to be on the same page and off the same mindset as to what is needed to improve the team and make them competitive and a perennial contender within the division and NFC. No use crying over spilt milk, as the Josh Freeman era with the Buccaneers has now ceased to exist. As serviceable as Freeman was said to be , he simply did not appear to be a player who had honed his craft or learned from his numerous and repeated mistakes over the course of his reign with the franchise. The drafting of Mike Glennon and the ability of the young rookie to make plays while being efficient with the “rock” impressed Schiano during last season. Alas, where Glennon succeeded , his offense at times, simply let him down and was repeatedly the source of many of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ woes this past season.

During the off-season, as Jason Licht and Lovie Smith prepare for the NFL Draft , the team’s will be predominantly on offense, where at least one or two productive wide receivers are needed along with a tail-back and a tight-end. Seeking out that type offensive weaponry via free agency could prove to be expensive dependent upon how Licht views the market in terms of the aforementioned positions ( wide receivers, running back , tight-end).

In the aftermath of what has been a tumultuous season for the Glazer family as owners of two professional sports’ franchises in Manchester United of the English Premiership League and their floundering fortunes within the Premiership (EPL) , to be concluded with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ infamous soiree in 2013. I must now ask the question, are the sons of Malcolm Glazer, completely clued in as to what is needed to either create or simply continue the success of a professional sports’ team? As the patriarch of the family , the now rarely seen Glazer must be shuddering to think that both of these franchises are likely to sink or swim , with the decisions made by his offspring .

As if to emphasize and further reiterate, why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now appears to be a franchise. without a clue . It is being widely reported that the franchise , are keenly interested in acquiring seasoned veteran quarterback, Michael Vick. With the exclusion of an twenty-two month incarceration at a federal penitentiary, for his involvement in an illegal gambling and dog-fighting ring that he presided over through a company that he was directly involved (Bad Newz Kennels) with . While, the player has served his sentence, for the crimes committed and his league mandated suspension for his conduct. It has been the gradual decline of the Michael game since his return to the NFL in 2010 , that have many wondering, if he is still capable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL . Andy Reid’s implicit and undying loyalty to the then Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback proved to be fateful for the head coach in 2012 , leading to his dismissal at the end of the season, with fans also calling for the release of the player. Last season, while it proved to be a success for the Eagles, Vick played no major role in the franchise’s resurgence under Chip Kelly . Nick Foles proved to be effective throughout much of the season , leading the team to the NFC East divisional title and playoff berth in the postseason.

If the Buccaneers are interested in signing Michael Vick , who becomes an unrestricted free agent this off-season , it simply makes no sense to have a player , who over the last two seasons has not been productive or provided any type of leadership skills , where necessary. Even if merely acquired, as a backup to Mike Glennon, there are far better options than Vick , amongst the quarterbacks who will become free agents during this protracted break before the 2014 NFL season comes into being. This has me wondering, what are the apparent motives behind a possible move like this ! Desperate times, may well call for desperate measures , but this is not one of them, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If anything, it can be seen, as an act of utter idiocy, from a franchise still seeking some semblance of consistency! .

This past Superbowl may well go down as the most watched and the highest rated in NFL history, as well as being the most watched program in US history, by way of the official figures revealed by the league hierarchy and Fox Television. Yet, the question that has to be asked , how many of those viewers nationally , switched channels , once it became inevitable that this contest was simply going to be a “blowout”, rather than a compelling and gripping game , between what was said to be the two best teams in the NFL?

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Picture gallery.

With the NFL season having reached a conclusion with the determining of a Superbowl champion for the year . Which event during the regular or postseason, in your opinion do you believe to be the most memorable? Also, with John Mara deeming the staging of Superbowl SBLVIII a monumental success, do you think it right, that another postseason finale contest should be staged MetLife Stadium within five years, at the omission of another venue ahead of the scheduled return that proposed stadium ? The NFL hierarchy we know , tends to pander to the more powerful of the owners within the league at the cost of less vocal of the franchise owners. What thoughts, if any, do you have with regard New York Giants owner’s suggestion? Simply leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos is caught off-guard, as the ball sails over his head during the first quarter of the game of the Superbowl contest between the Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks . That play was a sign of things to come as the Seahawks won this lopsided contest in a rout 43-8. The game would prove to be one of Manning’s worst in his postseason career. AP Photo/ Mark Cameron …

(2) An aerial view of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford , New Jersey as clouds hang over the venue that was the scene for Superbowl 48. In the stadium filled 80,000 fans , this was the first Superbowl to be played in an outdoor stadium in a cold weather city. Getty Images / John Moore ….

(3) Seattle Seahawks’ wide receiver Percy Harvin (11) returns a kickoff for a touchdown during the second half of the game against the Denver Broncos during the Superbowl played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford , New Jersey. The televised event broadcasted by Fox ,was the most watched sports’ program and non-sports’ televised event in US broadcast history , from the figures released by the NFL . AP Photo/ Matt York ….

(4) Russell Wilson (3) of the Seahawks looks to evade the Denver Broncos’ Danny Trevathan (59) while making a playing during the first half of the Superbowl contest played between the two teams on the 2nd February , 2014, at MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford , New Jersey. In only his fifth postseason start , Wilson can now be called a Superbowl winning quarterback. The player was selected by the Seattle Seahawks as part of the rich crop of quarterbacks that were part of the 2012 NFL Draft class. AP Photo Paul Sancya ….

(5) To the victor belongs the spoils. Russell Wilson is seen here with the Lombardi Trophy after the Seattle Seahawks’ triumph over the Denver Broncos . It was the franchise’s first victory in only their second appearance in the NFL’s most prestigious game. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez …..

(6) Superbowl MVP Malcolm Smith celebrates the Seattle Seahawks’ victory by laying on the ground amongst the confetti while creating a snow angel . REUTERS/ Shannon Stapleton …..

(7) New York Giants’ owner John K Mara having seen MetLife Stadium host the Superbowl would like to see the event return to the venue within the next five years. Whether or not this will be amenable to the league hierarchy and many of the other NFL owners remains to be seen. AP Photo / Paul Harris …..

(8)New Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, right, smiles as he poses for a photo with new head coach Lovie Smith during an NFL football news conference Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Licht becomes the fifth general manager in team history. He takes over a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007 . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

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tophatal …….. 02/03/2014

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News, views and other tidbits, from around the world of sports

News, views and other tidbits, from around the world of sports …

With the biggest event of the North American sports’ world, taking place on Sunday afternoon , when the Denver Broncos play host to the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl (XLVIII) . The last-minute builds up and news, has now reached fever pitch . With journalists from around the globe reporting on the event , it will be interesting to see how these individuals report the contest, the images and their take on it all. Now while, much of the NFL related news has been about rants and ravings of the Seahawks’ corner back Richard Sherman and his thoughts. From my own perspective , Sherman has simply been trying to “cash in” on the newfound notoriety , while hoping to be part of a victorious Seattle Seahawks’ team . For the NFC West based franchise, this will their second appearance in the NFL’s , biggest postseason event.

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For opposing quarterbacks, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks , their respective careers are now at their nascent , in one case and in the other , it has reached a plateau , that is likely to see Manning add to an astonishing NFL career , in terms of the accomplishments and accolades received during his fifteen-year tenure in the NFL.

Wilson will be seeking to win his first Superbowl title, after a little less than three seasons in the league . All the more astonishing, when you consider the draft class in which the young quarterback entered the NFL . . In what will be only his fifth postseason career start ,the Seahawks’ passer will be facing Peyton Manning , who will be making his twenty-third postseason start and third Superbowl appearance , having already won a title with his former team the Indianapolis Colts and also walking away with the Superbowl MVP, for good measure after that victory . This contest, even if it is likely to be played under inclement weather conditions , with the likely weather forecast suggesting game-time conditions will be contested with freezing temperatures. I would like to believe, that this match-up will be competitive and highly entertaining! ! Yet, with that in mind , I would proffer this question to Roger Goodell , did he really have to capitulate to the owners of the New York Giants and New York Jets in acquiescing to their demands in staging the Superbowl at Met Life Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey, which houses both franchises, knowing that the match-up was likely to be played during icy temperatures during Winter ?

The NFL Commissioner, is proving to be an individual with even less intelligence than first thought. A case of the dog wagging its tail or someone else wagging the dog’s tail on their behalf?

Say what you will about this NBA season , but it is becoming abundantly clear , with it being formally the last month of David Stern’s three-decade long tenure as the NBA Commissioner and the league’s highest ranking executive . He leaves the league , in somewhat of a dire situation. His successor was already being groomed as heir-apparent and Adam Silver will succeed Stern as of Monday morning. The league itself is going through not growing pains, but a lack of competitiveness within the Eastern Conference and what appears to be not only dour coaching . but also the lack of a truly engaging team rivalry within the NBA, itself . Gone are the days, where a regular season showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics actually meant something . As of today, both of these heralded franchises are going through pains of their own , borne out by the respective conference and divisional records this season. Lackluster results and some truly unbearable performances and it is easy to understand why both teams are currently struggling.

For the Boston Celtics and their off-season upheavals, that led to the departures of Doc Rivers to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers , a triumvirate of players , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry being traded to the Brooklyn Nets , and what now appears to be a resurgent Nets’ team . The travails of rookie head coach Brad Stevens and this young Celtics’ team looks as if it is likely to be an arduous first season for the former Butler head coach.

For GM Danny Ainge and managing general partner , Wyc Grousbeck to now start afresh , when it might have been best to have contemplated these moves last season , when it was widely known that Rivers was not satisfied with the direction of the franchise. An influx of young talent by way of the NBA Draft over the past two seasons , and still the signs are that this will be something of a long hard slog for a coach still finding his legs in the NBA.

As losers of nine straight of their last ten contests , it would be safe to suggest that beyond non-availability of Rajon Rondo , suggestions that Danny Ainge might also seek to trade the point guard does seem somewhat speculatory in nature, as well as suicidal , in that concluding that the franchise should simply give up on the season. Granted, the fans are already disappointed with a team bearing a 15-33 record languishing at the bottom of the Atlantic Division , 10 ½ games behind divisional leaders the Toronto Raptors (24-21) . Growing pains abide , but all that is really needed , is for this group of players to find some sort of consistency , with Stevens and his coaching staff getting the best possible contribution out of his starting lineup and bench players .

A narrow one-point loss by the Boston Celtics at home to the Philadelphia 76ers , and then they face another conference rival on the 2nd February , against the Orlando Magic whom they host , before a return engagement with the 76ers at their home venue , the Wells Fargo Center , in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , on Wednesday evening .

A the leading candidate, in the MVP race , Kevin Durant has been laying siege to the NBA this season. On a tear, that has seen the player score thirty or more points for twelve straight games , along with near double-digit assists or rebounds in several of those contests , in leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the best record in the NBA. That feat of Durant’s, puts him in the rarefied air of Hall of Fame great Oscar Robertson , who himself , was also prolific scorer and player. An NBA title has so far do eluded Kevin Durant , his teammates and the team must now be seen as the prohibitive favorites to come out of the Western Conference as a likely contender for this season’s title .

If to further emphasize the growth in Kevin Durant’s game , he and his teammates were recently the guests of reigning NBA champions, the Miami Heat . That contest in some circles , may well be seen as a precursor to the title match-up this upcoming postseason , albeit , that the Indiana Pacers are no pushovers and are likely to give the Heat their biggest test of the postseason , if the two teams are indeed to revisit their budding rivalry within the Eastern Conference . The Thunder’s lopsided seventeen-point victory over Miami, led many to believe that not only has Kevin Durant been out playing LeBron James this season , but in all likelihood with his performance in that contest he has to be seen as the current frontrunner in the League MVP race. As good as Kevin Durant’s play might have been against the Miami Heat , I believe his leading the Thunder in a come from behind victory over the Atlanta Hawks was just as scintillating and quite possibly the best individual scoring feat of this NBA season and that is with due respect to the “overrated “ sixty-two point outburst recently by Carmelo Anthony , against what I deem to be a totally inept Charlotte Bobcats’ team . A team that I might add, whose defensive stature at present belies the fact that they have one playoff appearance in their current guise , but yet, there seems to be idiotic hyperbole as to the magnitude of what Anthony was able to achieve against the Bobcats. Mediocrity, can come in many forms and currently , there are no two better representatives of that, than the Charlotte Bobcats and New York Knicks within the Eastern Conference.

I will say this for Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant as the owner and general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers , both laid the groundwork in running LeBron James right out-of-town , when the player declared his free agency options ! Neither thought it appropriate, to consult with the star prior to firing Mike Brown . As the head coach of the franchise , he led the franchise to their only NBA Finals’ appearance , a series that they would subsequently lose to the San Antonio Spurs in a lopsided 4-0 loss , during which Tony Parker was named the Finals MVP . In the subsequent years after that series’ loss, things have simply spiraled out of control for the franchise , with Byron Scott’s tenure being a tumultuous one as the head coach . Brown’s firing, led to his being hired by the Los Angeles Lakers , only for his stay there to be undermined, by the simple idiocy of Mitch Kupchak and owner, Jim Buss . Brown’s successor, Mike DAntoni is currently feeling the heat , if not necessarily the wrath of the Lakers’ fans , as that franchise’s season sinks into oblivion . Mike Brown has since been rehired by the Cavaliers , but it now looks as if history might be on the brink of it repeating itself, as the franchise’s biggest asset and best player , Kyrie Irving is now said to be dissatisfied and unhappy with the current “state of affairs” Cleveland. Any idiotic hope, that there was said to be, of LeBron James returning to the Cavaliers, can be rightfully shot down. Are there still individuals who now believe that James would be willing to opt out of his contract to return to Cleveland , when he is guaranteed a max-contract simply by remaining in Miami that is likely to net him upwards of $140 million gross over six years (averaging $23 million plus a year) ?

Kyrie Irving if nothing else , is simply unhappy with the fact that the team as it is currently built does not complement his skill-set , nor does it make the Cavaliers a competitive franchise within their division or the . Eastern Conference. His reasons for shying away and not actually placating those fans who now fear the worst, seem so contrary to what has been said in private, now becomes a matter of conjecture and a great deal of speculation, while making the media simply ravenous for more concerning Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers . Though, he cannot become a free agent until 2015 , it seems highly unlikely that Chris Grant would seek a trade of Kyrie Irving, a player whose rookie scale contract is still in effect .

Coming off a thirty-one point drubbing at the hands of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York . The Cavaliers’ next game is unlikely to do them any favors , when they face the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston Texas on Saturday evening . How Mike Brown gets his players to acquit themselves in that contest , may well play a big part in possibly determining the short and long-term future of Kyrie Irving and the likelihood of his remaining with the franchise.

The NBA 2014 All Star balloting votes , have been accounted for and we now know the conference starters , as well as the reserves for the East and Western Conferences. Suffice to say, if you did not vote , then your voice was not heard . Shall we now “Rock The Vote” for next season’s event, because of the number of snubs of players, who were simply overlooked purely through favoritism in favor of those less deserving ? I’m sorry Deandre Jordan , but mine is not to reason why, as the league’s best field goal percentage shooter , you were overlooked , even if you are playing alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers .The teams, will be coached by Frank Vogel for the Eastern All Stars and Scott Brooks for the Western counterparts. Fan friendly, with the league’s stars making themselves accessible in the weekend’s revelry from the 14th to the 16th February , makes this break, just past the midpoint of the season , a fun time for all of the NBA’s most discerning fans alongside all of the events being staged at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans , Louisiana , and home to the New Orleans Pelicans .

All the chips seem to be falling into place , as it relates to baseball’s marquee free agents , with many of them having signed lucrative contracts , either to remain with their current teams or to move on elsewhere . Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson , formerly of the New York Yankees , have each found themselves a new home . As the drama in New York continues, with a great deal of it, now surrounding how much of an effect will the acquisition of Masahiro Tanaka have on the Yankees and their pitching lineup . Tanaka’s deal by no means the biggest signed by pitcher this off-season was enough to have even the most fiscally prudent of individuals wondering when will baseball start to take heed and reign in their obligatory team payroll commitments . In 2013 , the combined financial outlay for the starting day payrolls of the league’s thirty teams exceeded 3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for the first time in MLB history . While, Bud Selig , continues to sing his melodic refrain as to the financial expediency being shown by the teams. I can’t help but wonder, when was the last time an in-depth audit held for each of the baseball franchises !

Projected figures, for this season’s Opening Day lineups in terms of payroll obligations are likely to come close to surpassing last season’s figure of $3 billion , with once again the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees likely to share top billing at number one and two of the league’s thirty teams.

Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , the present owners of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors have shown an interest in purchasing the Oakland Athletics (A’s) , where majority stakeholder Lew Wolff and GM Billy Beane have rebuffed what is believed to be an offer topping $675 million for the ball-club . In recent years, the A’s have been successful , having made the postseason in successive years and as two-time AL West divisional champions . Unfortunately,their progress in both postseason appearances was somewhat short-lived . Manager Bob Melvin and his managerial staff have assembled a young and experienced team , which has been a revelation recent seasons. In 2014 , the A’s are likely to be seen as the preseason favorites to retain their divisional title. Given that fact, that the Houston Rangers , Los Angeles Angels , Seattle Mariners , Texas Rangers have proven to be less than adequate adversaries over the past two seasons . It begs the question, which of those teams this season will be best equipped to truly challenge Bob Melvin’s group of players ?

In recent years , Lew Wolff has struggled in his dealings with the MLB hierarchy, in seeking their assistance in obtaining a new venue . Not surprising , when you consider that Bud Selig went out of his way to aid New York Mets , New Yankees and the Miami Marlins in the furtherance of their efforts for new stadiums , which were built at an estimated of . over $2.455 billion , much of it, being the use of public funds. The A’s are now left in an unenviable position of being a competitive franchise, but playing in a now aging and archaic venue, the O Coliseum in Oakland , California ,. Stuart Sternberg as the owner of the Tampa Bay Rays should heed the problems of the A’s in their endeavors and stop trying to appease Bud Selig and his coterie of buffoons, who make up the league’s hierarchy.

The reluctance of Lew Wolff to sell the ball-club is understandable, as he now has a winning on-field product , albeit that the A’s still struggle somewhat , in terms of attendance , which remains amongst the lowest in all of Major League Baseball . Yet, I cannot help but wonder , if a new owner with greater financial resources purchased the A’s , would it not be better for the organization overall and perhaps, further aid the A’s pursuance of a new ballpark ! Both Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , have the financial resources , with their respective backgrounds. Were they make another unsolicited bid, that would prove to be successful , then Guber would have to relinquish his interest , which he currently owns in the Los Angeles Dodgers , having been one of the several partners brought in by Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , to make that now record $2.16 billion purchase of that particular ball-club .

Commissioner Bud Selig, like his NBA counterpart David Stern,will be relinquishing their respective roles before the end the 2014 calendar year. Stern will be succeeded by his immediate deputy , Adam Silver , and it remains to be seen what changes if any , are made to how the NBA is operated , and the type of product that is displayed for the fans’ consumption. The MLB hierarchy, have yet to formally announce a successor to the incumbent commissioner, but it is widely believed that Rob Manfred will succeed Bud Selig at the time of his stepping down . Joe Torre , seen as a fan favorite , perhaps isn’t seen in a friendlier light by some who are part of the MLB hierarchical structure, that also includes the owners with their voting clout.

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Picture gallery .

What other sports’ story or stories over the past week or month, have piqued your interest and what do you feel might be the outcome , given the facts as you know them to be ? By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos will face opposing quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s Superbowl , to be played at MetLife Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey . With a national television audience expected to 90 million viewers and a global audience of 1 billion. This is likely to be one of most eagerly anticipated watched Superbowl’s in recent NFL history . Carter Evans / AP Photo ….

(2) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is seen here holding the Lombardi Trophy which will be contested by the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XLVIII (SB48) on Sunday afternoon , when the two teams meet at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. AP Photo / Neil Sharpe …

(3) Dec 30, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks corner-back Richard Sherman (25) celebrates on the field following a 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field . Sherman has been one of the most visible players during the lead-up to the Superbowl , giving countless interviews to members of the press and fans alike . The thought being , why not “cash in” when you get the chance ? Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports …..

(4) NBA Commissioner David Stern is seen here with Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls after the team’s triumph in the 1996 NBA Finals over the Seattle Supersonics in a 4-2 series’ win . In each of the Bulls’ six appearances in the Finals , Jordan would be named Finals’ MVP. Michael Jordan’s entrance into the NBA as a first round draft pick during the 1984 NBA Draft , draft pick in that now moment in which Hakeem Olajuwon was taken number one overall , only to be followed by Sam Bowie drafted out of Kentucky and taken by the Portland Trailblazers. Jordan was seen as the likely number two choice , but dropped to number three and taken by the Chicago Bulls. His relationship with David Stern and his meteoric career are seen as the organic reasons why the NBA exploded unto the scene and then to become a global phenomenon. The NBA as a commercial entity , has grown from $400 million in revenues in 1986 to become a commercial behemoth with annual revenues exceeding $ 4.8 billion . This growth has been presided over by David Stern , but the greatest contributing factor has been Michael Jordan , his iconic appeal and ability to be seen as a commercial spokesperson for numerous Fortune 500 companies . Down the years, that mantle has been passed on from Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal , to Kobe Bryant and now LeBron James of the Miami Heat . Michael Jordan today. still ranks as one of the highest paid athletes in the world , even after having retired for the final time in 2003 , playing out that final season with the Washington Wizards , a franchise , where he was a part owner at the time along with then majority stakeholder , Abe Pollin . UPI / Getty Images / Christopher Marshall …..

(5) Boston Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens is seen here with the team’s point guard Rajon Rondo . In a season of transition after the departures of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry . GM Danny Ainge has seen fit to revamp the roster by way of the draft and trades . The team has got distinctively younger , but also showing a great deal of inexperience . With Rondo also having missed several games on the team’s schedule , their on-court issues have been magnified a great deal , shown by way the Boston Celtics’ record this season . Their next scheduled game will be against the Orlando Magic at the TD North Garden Center in Boston , Massachusetts on Sunday , 2nd February , 2014. AP Photo / Sara Glover …..

(6) Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers is seen here court-side at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio , along with head coach Mike Brown as the two discuss a team play that was not executed to the coach’s satisfaction. With growing locker room dissension and Irving having stated that Brown has lost control of the team and the locker room morale. It would appear, r that there is likely to be some major upheaval within the roster prior to or at the trade deadline . AP Photo / Marcus Spears ….

(7) Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are the co-owners of the Golden State Warriors . The pairing in late 2013 made unsolicited bid to buy the Oakland Athletics from managing partner Lew Wolff and the syndicated group of managing partners . Guber and Lacob’s bid of $675 million was rebuffed by the front office of the A’s , who may well have felt that the billionaires’ offer , was far too low a price. For the moment , it would appear that intended buyers, are likely to regroup , rethink their strategy and perhaps come up with a revised offer for the AL team . AP Photo/ Andrew Garcia ……

(8) Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff, left, and General Manager Billy Beane watch their team warm up before the start of Game 1 of their American League Division Series game against the Detroit Tigers , Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Mich. The A’s are at present having to fend off an unsolicited bid from a prospective purchaser and it is likely that both Wolff and Beane will seek to strike a deal with Oakland Alameda County government concerning a new ballpark , something that this pairing have been working on for several years without much assistance being provided by Bud Selig or from anyone within the league’s upper hierarchy . D. Ross Cameron/Staff …….

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Hell , you know me ! There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough!

Hell , you know me ! There comes a time when you have to say enough is enough!

By Tophatal

We are but a month away from the 2013 NFL Draft , and already there is a great deal of speculation unraveling, as to who that first player, to be taken, will be . In seasons past , that number one overall choice has either had an outstanding career, or somehow fallen into oblivion , never to be heard from again . From afar, as a fan of the NFL , this is the one time of the year that I choose not to take any notice as to how the draft unfolds ! I am of the belief that the players chosen , will either live up to the perceived expectations or they will simply fall by the wayside , because of their lack of physical ability and mental toughness .

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In 2012 , it was the year of the rookie quarterbacks , by way of the excellent play witnessed and the leadership qualities shown by quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck . Luck and Griffin, taken numbers one and two respectively , by the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins , would go on to lead their teams to respectable showings in the divisional standings , as well as garnering a playoff berth for each franchise . Unfortunately, during the playoffs , both teams would indeed have early exits , with the Redskins falling to the Seattle Seahawks , and the Indianapolis Colts succumbing to the Baltimore Ravens , the eventual Superbowl champions .

This upcoming Draft , inasmuch as there is said to be a great deal of talent among the players declaring their eligibility . I truly believe that the talent level that many believe there is said to be , is not actually there , in any great depth ! Granted, the so-called “draft geeks “ and analysts will espouse the virtues of Geno Smith , Matt Barkley , Luke Joeckel and Alec Ogletree . More often than not , there is rarely a sure-fire bet or hit , that will be that impactful . However, a case could be made that last season Luck and Griffin proved that the 2012 draft class , particularly for the quarterbacks , might well have been the best NFL has witnessed in the past fifteen years .

This upcoming Draft , inasmuch as there is said to be a great deal of talent among the players declaring their eligibility . I truly believe that the talent level that many believe there is said to be , is not actually there , in any great depth ! Granted, the so-called “draft geeks “ and analysts will espouse the virtues of Geno Smith , Matt Barkley , Luke Joeckel and Alec Ogletree . More often than not , there is rarely a sure-fire bet or hit , that will be that impactful . However, a case could be made that last season Luck and Griffin proved that the 2012 draft class , particularly for the quarterbacks , might well have been the best NFL has witnessed in the past fifteen years .

Of course, it will be interesting to see how both of these sophomores will progress as the 2013 regular season beckons and what we might expect from both quarterbacks , as they become further acclimatized to the rigors of playing in the NFL . I certainly believe that with the moves made by the Colts , in particular , they are likely to prove to be a major contender for the AFC South and quite possibly a major force to be reckoned with , within the conference overall !

With the NFC East always being something of a conundrum , merely because of the preponderance of idiocy that simply overwhelms those who espouse to the fact that the Dallas Cowboys will always be a force to be reckoned with . The truth of the matter remains , the team , while Jerry Jones sits atop of his throne , the franchise will be nothing more than a mere laughing-stock , lacking in leadership , accountability at an any level , on or off the field of play. And, with the team’s overrated quarterback , Tony Romo being overpaid , while continuing to make excuses for his and the team’s perennially poor play . It were as if , flies are being genuinely attracted to fecal matter , each and very time I read a piece subscribing to the fact, that Romo is a great regular season player , while clearly being unable to lead the team to the necessary heights in the regular and postseason . Tony Romo, is only great, in brief spurts , of two or three games at a time , beyond that , he is not a player that can be can be consistently be relied upon, to lead a team to any length , of real tangible achievement or success . A fact that , seems to be lost, on the vast majority of the analysts who cover the game , and who are paid handsomely, for their opinions . Unfortunately, we also have a clueless batch of individuals within this forum, who will continue to be of the same mindset ! Stupid is , as stupid does !

It goes without saying that Jason Garrett and his coaching staff will this season , remain the focus of attention from around the NFL. The Cowboys’ failings, in 2012 , was self-evident in a wide range of categories , from their defense to their sputtering offense . Pardon me for saying this , with the Cowboys’ firing of Rob Ryan as the team’s defensive coordinator , to be replaced by an aging Monte Kiffin , whose two years assisting his son Lane Kiffin in a similar capacity with the Pac 12’s USC Trojans , to my mind has to be considered an asinine decision , especially when you take into account , that during that time-span ! The Trojans were never ranked in the nation’s top twenty-five , in any meaningful defensive category. Clearly , a case of the blind , leading the blind within the Cowboys’ front office at the timing of that particular decision !

I believe that a case can be made that the winning of a Heisman Trophy , no matter how prestigious the award might be , can be a claim that as the nation’s best collegiate player , is by any measure a guarantee of success . Yes, last season, Robert Griffin III excelled for the Washington Redskins , but the 2011 Heisman Trophy claimant did have his issues in spite of the team’s extraordinary season. With 2012 winner , Johnny Manziel remaining in college quite possibly for one or two more seasons in order to hone his game with the Texas A&M (Aggies) . It has to be said that Manziel may well have made the best possible decision. Countering that , are the following two quarterbacks , who might now be viewed as perhaps under-achieving journeymen around the NFL. Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart , now find themselves at a crossroads in their respective careers . Both achieved a great deal of success at the collegiate level , and each were afforded college football’s highest individual honor, by being named a Heisman Trophy recipient and award winner. Both, were players at USC (Trojans) , under what was thought to be the capable hands of then head coach , Pete Carroll and a program said to be above reproach. In the subsequent years, since their departure , and Carroll’s own jump to the professional ranks , I believe that we can attest to the fact that the coach’s tenure, was rife with sordid improprieties , that he and then AD , Mike Garrett simply chose to ignore and sweep under the carpet.

I believe that a case can be made that the winning of a Heisman Trophy , no matter how prestigious the award might be , can be a claim that as the nation’s best collegiate player , is by any measure a guarantee of success . Yes, last season, Robert Griffin III excelled for the Washington Redskins , but the 2011 Heisman Trophy claimant did have his issues in spite of the team’s extraordinary season. With 2012 winner , Johnny Manziel remaining in college quite possibly for one or two more seasons in order to hone his game with the Texas A&M (Aggies) . It has to be said that Manziel may well have made the best possible decision. Countering that , are the following two quarterbacks , who might now be viewed as perhaps under-achieving journeymen around the NFL. Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart , now find themselves at a crossroads in their respective careers . Both achieved a great deal of success at the collegiate level , and each were afforded college football’s highest individual honor, by being named a Heisman Trophy recipient and award winner. Both, were players at USC (Trojans) , under what was thought to be the capable hands of then head coach , Pete Carroll and a program said to be above reproach. In the subsequent years, since their departure , and Carroll’s own jump to the professional ranks , I believe that we can attest to the fact that the coach’s tenure, was rife with sordid improprieties , that he and then AD , Mike Garrett simply chose to ignore and sweep under the carpet.

Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart spent 2012 , laboring with the rather mediocre and self-aggrandizing Oakland Raiders , who over the last decade , have become the poster child , in how not to run an NFL franchise , but how to systematically ruin one, on a competitive and economic front . Albeit , that even being close proximity to one of the nation’s largest media markets , somehow the Raiders’ front office led by team owner , Mark Davis and GM , Reggie McKenzie , continue to make complete fools of themselves , with their remarkable consistency for making some of the most unbelievably ridiculous personnel decisions encapsulating the franchise . With the revenue streams afforded the Oakland Raiders , theirs as a franchise , should not be one , that is said to be losing tens of millions of dollars annually . Yet , somehow the incompetency of the front office does bear this out . Needless to say , with the incompetence being shown off the field , last season and 2011 , simply mirrored “ how far this franchise “ has fallen over the past decade .

With it now being apparent, that Palmer was not the player whom McKenzie felt could lead the team , after a very sporadic 2012 season . There now seems to be little interest by the general manager and owner , to supplant 2002 Heisman Trophy recipient and number one overall pick from the 2003 NFL Draft , with either his backup , Matt Leinart , or another troubled enfant-terrible , in Terrell Pryor . Albeit , that there were signs of intuitive play on the part of the former Buckeye starting quarterback. Carson Palmer has refused to take a pay cut or simply reconstruct his contact favorably , affording the Raiders some cap space . Reggie McKenzie has not exactly gone out of his way to endorse Pryor as the team’s future , as the Raider’s starting quarterback. It now seems likely , that the ten-year veteran , Palmer , will be cut and tossed unto the scrap heap , or quite possibly McKenzie might well seek out any opportunistic franchise , seeking to make a trade for the seasoned veteran.

With the Raiders due to take the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft , it seems highly unlikely that there is a need to trade down or up for the franchise . However , what will be needed by Dennis Allen and the organization’s scouting staff , will due diligence being used as it relates to the choices to be made . I am not so sure a quarterback is of the utmost priority for the franchise , as there are gaping wholes that need to be addressed over the team’s entire lineup . How the staff deals with those adversities, will very much be an indicator , as to what we should expect in 2013 , from the organization as a whole .

From a national champion title holder , to an “ overnight bust” , this is certainly how one could best describe Vince Young’s career at the collegiate level and then within the NFL . Never mind that in the wake of it all , the player has squandered the millions earned , having filed for personal bankruptcy, and now in the midst of seeking to make a comeback to the professional ranks . Given the player’s proclivity for being immature , oafish , disdainful of his teammates and simply ignorant of the fact that a coach seeks to guide him , as to how best to fulfill his career goals . I am not so sure, that it would be in an NFL franchises’ best interest to even remotely entertain the idea of giving Young a tryout ! . That being said , it would not surprise me if that perfunctory asshole and Tennessee Titans’ owner , Ken “Bud” Adams , sought to welcome Young , back with open arms . It was Adams’ intransigence and downright stupidity that led to Jeff Fisher’s departure , after the owner sought to side with the often troublesome former NFL player , rather than his well-respected head coach . The aftermath of it all, Young would soon be jettisoned by the franchise , as his play simply deteriorated .

From a national champion title holder , to an “ overnight bust” , this is certainly how one could best describe Vince Young’s career at the collegiate level and then within the NFL . Never mind that in the wake of it all , the player has squandered the millions earned , having filed for personal bankruptcy, and now in the midst of seeking to make a comeback to the professional ranks . Given the player’s proclivity for being immature , oafish , disdainful of his teammates and simply ignorant of the fact that a coach seeks to guide him , as to how best to fulfill his career goals . I am not so sure, that it would be in an NFL franchises’ best interest to even remotely entertain the idea of giving Young a tryout ! . That being said , it would not surprise me if that perfunctory asshole and Tennessee Titans’ owner , Ken “Bud” Adams , sought to welcome Young , back with open arms . It was Adams’ intransigence and downright stupidity that led to Jeff Fisher’s departure , after the owner sought to side with the often troublesome former NFL player , rather than his well-respected head coach . The aftermath of it all, Young would soon be jettisoned by the franchise , as his play simply deteriorated .

With there soon to be an abundance of free agent quarterbacks on the “open market” , Vince Young’s task will become all the more difficult , even with his less than impressive workout at the Longhorns’ Pro Day on the university’s campus playing field . He may well catch on , with an NFL team , either as a third string starter or as part of a practice squad, because I no longer believe that he has the play-making ability or the mental psyche to be a successful quarterback in the NFL ! All of the promise shown at the collegiate level , seem all for nothing , given the years wasted by Young , as he simply became a boorish oaf ! Win some ,and you lose some ! Vince Young has been nothing but a loser , since his entry into the NFL !

The more things change , at times , it is in fact the more they remain the same . Sideshow , performing animals , comical clowns and a high wire and trapeze act could best sum up the New York Jets’ diabolical season . A clueless owner , in Woody Johnson , a coaching staff simply devoid of creativity and intelligence , all of which was led by the self-absorbed Rex Ryan . And the reason why I categorically state that the Jets’ owner is simply clueless ! When you seek to apportion blame upon others, when you have the final decision as an owner on all personnel decisions , and you were said to be indifferent to the signing of a player. It indicates to me , that you are either an idiot , or simply willing to listen to others when their own decision-making has repeatedly come into question.

During this off-season , Woody Johnson bitched and whined that he was pressured into giving the final OK , in the trade that brought Tim Tebow over from the Denver Broncos , to the New York Jets . Heralded by the print media within the “Big Apple ” as a thing of “genius” , the acquisition would prove to be the Jets’ undoing and hoisting even more ridicule not only on the franchise but also upon the now stunted shoulders of the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner . See where I am going with this all , as it relates to the aforementioned winners of this accolade who have simply done nothing of merit in the NFL ?

With the Jets’ front office, now seemingly more unsure than ever before , as to whom is best suited to lead the team at the quarterback position , speculation mounted during the off-season that the organization would simply jettison their starter, Mark Sanchez , after his rather dubious forays of 2012 . With the franchise now having acquired ten-year journeyman and veteran David Garrard . It kind of makes you wonder, what other rabbits Rex Ryan will now seek to pull out of his top hat , while seeking to create the illusion and perception that the Jets are now progressing in the right direction . Suffice to say, anyone who feels that Garrard can provide the roster of quarterbacks already on this team with further competition , having seen the veteran quarterback’s play in recent seasons , has either got to be on prescribed medication or under the delusions of grandeur.

With the tempering rumors, that the Jets may well use their Pro Bowl corner-back , Darrelle Revis , as a form of trade bait to move up in the NFL Draft order , a great many things are now certain to come into play , as it relates to the franchise and the player .

In the midst of this all, Tim Tebow’s future remains uncertain with the New York Jets . A homecoming of sorts , is already out of the question , with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ management categorically stating that they have no interest in acquiring the beleaguered quarterback. There now seems to be a quandary as to how Rex Ryan will seek to extricate himself from a mess he fashioned alongside the team’s former offensive coordinator Tony Sparano , an individual, whose NFL coaching experience , can be best summed up in two words “absolute bull#hit “ !

From my own personal standpoint , what Ryan was able to achieve in his first three seasons with the franchise was impressive . Yet, in the subsequent years , all of the ballyhooed and hype simply cannot hide the fact, that he has become a bloviated ass , who rested on his laurels , rather than seeking to improve New York Jets ,as a franchise . GM John Idzik may well use this upcoming season , not only to assess the roster , but also Rex Ryan and his entire coaching staff . Failure once again , and it is likely , that he will be summarily relieved of his duties as a head coach with the franchise. Ryan’s most pressing issue beyond dealing with the team’s cap issues will be how best to also address the team’s draft needs .

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What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the salient points raised within this article ? By all means do leave a comment as you deem fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1)Quarterback Matt Barkley , center, talks to reporters during NFL football pro day at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(2) Safety , T.J. McDonald looks during Southern California’s NFL football pro day, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(3)Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is hit by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) , as he throws, during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. The Ravens would go on to defeat the Colts 24-9 . AP Photo/Nick Wass …

(4) In this Jan. 6, 2013, photo, Washington Redskins quarterback , Robert Griffin III (10) returns to the huddle after hurting his right knee as he fell awkwardly while throwing an incomplete pass during the first quarter of their NFL wild card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Landover, Md. An injury that sidelines Griffin well into next season is a very real possibility _ or at least it seemed that way Monday, Jan. 7, after head coach Mike Shanahan described the results of tests on the rookie’s right knee following a series of plays in their Sunday game that did additional damage to a knee that was just three games removed from suffering a sprained lateral collateral ligament. AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, L. Todd Spencer …

(5) Texas A&M offensive lineman Luke Joeckel answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine . Joeckel is being seen as a the consensus # 1 overall pick likely to be taken in this year’s NFL Draft . Yet the prevailing thought with the Kansas City Chiefs seeking a proven passer , Geno Smith of West Virginia could supplant Joeckel as that number one pick. AP Photo / Richard Sasser ….

(6) Geno Smith of West Virginia is seen here going through drills at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana , Indianapolis , earlier in the year. The quarterback is seen as the best passer in this year’s crop of eligible college quarterbacks with their sights set on the professional ranks of the NFL . AP Photo / Richard Sasser ……

(7) There’s always something to laugh about and seemingly find comical , if you just happen to be a member of the Dallas Cowboys . Pictured here , are the team’s under-achieving quarterback , Tony Romo and team owner , Jerry Jones , sharing a few laughs. I wonder what the 2013 season may well hold for the franchise within the NFC East and the conference as a whole . Certainly , it can’t be any worse than last season ? Perhaps it could ? Well , let’s hope so ! Getty Images North America / Christian Petersen …

(8) Raiders’ quarterbacks , from left to right , Terrell Pryor , Matt Leinart , Carson Palmer and Kyle Newhall-Caballero . Newhall-Caballero, no longer on the roster , remains a part of the Raiders’ practice squad. Rumors persist that with Palmer unwilling to restructure his contract for which he is due to receive $13 million for the 2013 season and the team seeking a cut , down to $10 million , he is likely to be cut by the organization . AP Photo/ Junii Kumagawa …

(9) Vince Young on the campus of the University of Texas (Longhorns’) campus , as he prepares for the Longhorns’ Pro Day . The former Tennessee Titans’ , Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills backup quarterback is hoping to make a last-ditch attempt to resurrect his somewhat understated NFL career . Of the NFL coaches in attendance on the day , only the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin was said to have shown any discerning interest. However, rumors now circling around the NFL , are that the Chicago Bears may well bring in Young for a tryout and as a backup to team starter , Jay Cutler . Getty Images North America / Ian Thompson ……

(10) Mark Sanchez(6) , listens in , as offensive coordinator , Tony Sparano confers with head coach Rex Ryan and starting quarterback Greg McElroy (14) , during a game played against the San Diego Chargers at Met Life Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey . Also in picture , second string starter, Tim Tebow . The Chargers would go on to defeat the Jets 27-17 . To further exacerbate the franchise’s travails was their poor finish to the season and final standing within the AFC East , a third place finish with a 6-10 record . AP/Getty Images / David Shults ….

(11) From left to right , New York Jets’ owner , Woody Johnson , is seen here with newly installed general manager , John Idzik, who succeeded Mike Tannenbaum , and who was summarily fired by Johnson , after the team’s disastrous 2012 season . AP Photo/ Chris Douglas …….

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When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

By Tophatal

Well, the 2012-13 NFL season has come to close , with the Baltimore Ravens winning their second Superbowl since 2000. The “ Harbaugh Bowl” lived up to all of the hype and expectations , one have come to expect of the nation’s biggest sport’s event . The city of New Orleans were wonderful hosts, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana , was the perfect setting for the event.

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With Ray Lewis now riding off into the sunset as a retiring NFL player , happy with the knowledge of having won his second world title ring , whatever awaits defensive lineman , undoubtedly will be a great deal of wealth and adulation. The wealth, will come in the form of the monies that will obviously be offered to a player by a number of broadcast outlets seeking to have Lewis become an NFL analyst , and who might well be described greatest defense player of his era, and quite good enough to be placed amongst the top five players at the position to have played the game in the NFL . The Ravens came away with a moral and well deserved victory , in a thrilling 34-31 win over their NFC counterparts , the San Francisco 49ers . Opposing quarterbacks , Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick , for the most part , were excellent , and it would suggest that both of these players, should have long and successful careers for their respective teams. Flacco was named the MVP of Superbowl 47 , albeit , that I felt either Jacoby Jones or Ed Reed could have supplanted Flacco for the award, but at the end of the day, the recipient of the award , seemed just right.

For winning head coach , John Harbaugh , he now becomes the first coach in NFL history to have taken a team to the postseason in each of his first five seasons , and to have won a Superbowl in his very first attempt. Baltimore Ravens’ owner, Steve Biscotti , billionaire industrialist , and avid sport’s fan has worked tirelessly in making the franchise he now owns a source of pride in the greater Baltimore area . Both Bisciotti, and general manager, Ozzie Newsome , have built the Ravens into a formidable franchise both on and off the field of play. And this victory was a culmination of their efforts along with that of the entire coaching staff , the players and the fans , themselves . . Newsome drafted prudently , and acquired players , using due diligence , while not having to pay outlandish salaries , in assembling this current roster . Inasmuch, as we know that there is bound to be off-season upheavals amongst the playing staff, there simply can be no denying that the Ravens will be amongst the contenders and quite possibly be viewed as a prohibitive favorite for the Superbowl , for next season. . Your thoughts, on this ? Simply chime in with a comment.

At a time when the NBA should be content with its environment , the game is mired in mediocrity , and lo and behold the self-indulgent union, the NBPA (union) now finds itself mired in controversy , that can only be deemed as an embarrassment not only to the union , league but also the sport , and the brand itself. The now embattled union has seen its Executive Director, Billy Hunter , be forcibly asked to step down , but he states, he is in fact taking a voluntary leave of absence , while the union’s executive committee conducts an in-depth investigation into the misappropriation of league funds , and suggestions that Hunter , sought to transfer $ 7 million in NBPA funds , to be used as an investment to shore up the finances of a Cherry Hill , New Jersey based bank, where two of his children , just happened to be employees . What makes this latest mea-culpa so embarrassing, at the center of this all, is the very fact that Billy Hunter’s intent was have this transaction take place without having advised any senior executive member of the union hierarchy. And here was I thinking , the only such organizations who conducted themselves with such secrecy, were the Teamsters Union , UAW , AFL-CIO and the now inept US government .

It is hard at this juncture to feel any empathy towards the union , Billy Hunter , who is being paid a $ 3 million annual salary to provide the union with his expertise in labor laws, as well as a wide variety of union related issues concerning the NBA . Somehow, I now feel, that Hunter’s days with the union are numbered , with him being in all likelihood being fired. Only a formal announcement awaits , pending the outcome of the investigation , with union President , Derek Fisher , or his deputy , VP , Keyon Dooling , making the statement that Billy Hunter will be relieved of his duties, as the union’s Executive Director , to take effect , immediately .

At the start of the season , in the midst of the upheavals around the league with so many off-season moves . A great deal was made of the fact that the Brooklyn Nets would be seen as a viable candidate to challenge the perceived dominance of the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference . After an inauspicious start to their schedule , Nets’ GM Billy King summarily fired , beleaguered head coach , Avery Johnson and promoted , his assistant , PJ Carlesimo to the position of interim head coach , until the end of the regular season . And while the Nets under Carlesimo , have proven to be a great deal more energetic in their play , I am not so sure that this team , will be able to challenge the likes of the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks , were it to come down to a postseason seven game series !

At 28-19 , the Brooklyn Nets , currently sit in second place , three games behind the New York Knicks (30-15) within the Atlantic Division . In what might be seen, as one of the more competitive divisions within the NBA , it has to be said that the three teams in contention within the division , cannot now afford to make any major slip-ups between now and the end of the regular season , with so much being on the line , and where a drop in a conference position , can mean a life or death situation for those teams and their postseason aspirations. Personally , I am not convinced that the makeup of this current Nets’ roster is simply good enough or anywhere near talented enough to win an NBA title. The team led by Deron Williams , Joe Johnson , Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries have proven to be somewhat inconsistent , albeit , that since the installing of P J Carlesimo as the head coach , there has been a gradual overall improvement in the team’s play.

Are you beginning to wonder how good the Chicago Bulls(29-18) might be , were Derrick Rose fully fit and playing on that current roster ? Taking up the slack , in the absence of the point guard , have been Luol Deng , Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah , and Nate Robinson . And this has all been borne out , by having the third best record within the Eastern Conference ,while leading the Central Division over their closest rivals , the Indiana Pacers (28-19) . Bulls’ head coach , Tom Thibodeau , in spite of his postseason letdown in 2012 in the playoffs , which at the time , it was the scene of what precipitated to the loss of the Bulls’ point guard , in their first round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers . Thoroughly outplayed in the entire series , the reverberations from that series’ defeat to suggest that beyond the inexperience shown by the team at the time , Thibodeau’s inexperience was glaringly transparent for all to see. With Rose, now on the mend , and thought to be almost nearing the end of his rehabilitation from his surgically repaired left knee . The anticipated timeline for his return, is said to be, after this year’s All Star Break (15th-17th February 2013) , which will be played at the Toyota Center in Houston , Texas , with the rosters of the East and Western Conference being made up of the game’s biggest stars.

The Bulls’ next game will be on Monday night , when they face the Indiana Pacers in a pivotal match-up , that should tell us a great deal about these two teams and where they currently now stand . However , with the anticipated return of Derrick Rose , Tom Thibodeau , has to be mindful , as to how the insertion will affect the rhythm, that the team currently now have. Winners of seven of their last ten games , which is amongst hottest streaks now going in the NBA . As I alluded to earlier , the expectations are high for the return of Derrick Rose , and the likelihood , his first game back could very well be either against the New Orleans Hornets on 19th February , or quite possibly against the Charlotte Bobcats on the 22nd February . There is an intervening game in between 19th and 22nd , on the 21st February , which would I believe would prove to be too stern a test for the player, in having to face the Miami Heat at home in the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois .

If Rose can recapture the form that won him the NBA league MVP , in 2011, then it would certainly bode well for the Chicago Bulls and their very ambitious point guard .

Call me naïve , but it may well take more than a kick in the a$s for David Stern to realize that the NBA brand is in the midst of a down year from a competitive standpoint in comparison to last season . And it would certainly help if the commissioner and the league hierarchy would acknowledge that fact, rather than continually extol the virtue of a league that is lacking in truly appealing stars. Granted , the likes of LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Dwyane Wade , Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook , James Harden , Tony Parker , Chris Paul and Blake Griffin , are some of the most recognized names , and well-paid stars in the NBA at present . Yet, even that by itself, is no real guarantee concerning the success of the league. The revenues of the brand , will grow and decline exponentially , as the NBA finds itself in the midst of another economic downturn .

At a time when the NBA calls out for a rivalry to match the most famous of them all , that of the “ heated rivalry “ between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers during the regular season , but one which took on a life its own during the playoffs , but even more so during the NBA Finals . The budding embers of what could be this best era’s rivalry , that of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder was on view last season during the 2011-12 NBA Finals. And we have seen growing stature and respect between the game’s two best players , in Kevin Durant and LeBron James . Their teams , which they represent , the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, are considered to be amongst the best in the NBA , but this season it is clear that the league is seeing some rather mediocre play being exhibited by the teams in the NBA .

For the Thunder’s head coach , Scott Brooks , his team’s play has been as resolute as ever , even in light of the departure of James Harden from last season’s roster in a stunning trade that sent Harden to the Houston Rockets , and one which literally took everyone by surprise. Currently, with the second best record in the Western Conference. At 36-12 , the Thunder sit two games behind the conference leading San Antonio Spurs (38-11) who are winners of ten consecutive games , currently the longest such winning streak in the NBA at present .

In their regular season meetings between the Heat and Thunder , since the inception of Western Conference franchise , these two teams have met a total of 54 times , when one takes into account the franchise’s former being as the Seattle Supersonics . The Miami Heat currently leads the series 30-19 during the regular season , and by a margin of 4-1 in the postseason , as reflected in their only series’ postseason meeting , which took place in last season’s NBA Finals.

In the 2012-13 season , and their only meeting thus far , the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 in the Heat’s regular season opener to start the defense of their NBA crown. Kevin Durant , and LeBron James, led all scorers , scoring 33 and 29 points respectively , for the Thunder and the Miami Heat, during the game. The next scheduled meeting between these two franchises will take place on the 14th February when they will meet at the Chesapeake Energy Center , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , in front of what is sure to be a rabid and vociferous crowd of primarily loyal Thunder supporters . It could be seen as a precursor, as to another possible encounter in the postseason , but much of that will be predicated upon how both teams acquit themselves over the remainder of their respective regular season schedules, and in the earlier rounds of the postseason.

Shrewd businessman and some might say perhaps , one of the ” most despised “ owners in the NBA . Yet somehow , Mark Cuban , owner of the Dallas Mavericks , and a constant thorn in claw of David Stern, has always found a way to either keep himself in the news , or that of the franchise that he owns. In the subsequent years, since the Mavericks won it all, in 2011 , when they defeated the Miami Heat in a surprisingly easy 4-2 series’ victory , with Dirk Nowitzki , being named Finals MVP. Since that triumph , the Mavericks have fallen on hard times, with Cuban and general manager , Donnie Nelson , having to shed burdensome contracts , or simply players who were under-achieving with the franchise. Head coach , Rick Carlisle , will be asked to work his magic once again , this time however , with something of a younger cast to complement the aging and declining skill-set of Nowitzki, who is now , in the twilight of an illustrious career.

Now playing for pride more than anything else , it is extremely difficult to see how the Mavericks can hope to play themselves into playoff contention , and currently playing with a sub .500 record at 20-28 ! The team lacks real scoring , and defensively , there remains a great deal to be desired , from unit that gives up on average 102.9 points per game and a staggering 33.7 defensive rebounds a game. Definitely, not the sort of statistics that is likely to win a franchise a championship. Away from the court , Donnie Nelson, is having a tumultuous time in dealing with troubled star , Delonte` West , a player , whose off the field troubles and well chronicled run-ins with law enforcement , have shone a light on West , far more than anything he has ever achieved on the field of play throughout his troubled career . His refusal to originally report for duty , with the Mavericks’ D League affiliate the Texas Legends , can only cast further doubt , on whether or not he has a role to play for this franchise , much less a have a future at all within the NBA . At this juncture , I would think it pretty safe to suggest that either by the trade deadline or at the end of this season , Delonte West will no longer be with the franchise ! I mean , why have a loose cannon , within your midst , when your coaching staff is trying to create some semblance of camaraderie and competitiveness amongst the players ?

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Picture gallery .(By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in a larger formatted size)

During the Superbowl , which incident or incidents do you believe may well have been the focal and turning point of the game ? And do believe, the explanation of electrical the power outage was good enough, given the importance of the event? Last but not least , what do you believe to be the biggest disappointment behind such lackluster play season in the NBA at this point of season ? Chime on in with your thoughts as you see fit

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal.
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(1) A fan looks around the Superdome after half the lights went out during a power outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …

(2) Baltimore Ravens players look around the Superdome after the lights went out during the second half of NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. The game would resume after a 34 minute delay with the Ravens defeating the Forty Niners 34-31 , in the most watched Superbowl game in NFL history . AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(3) Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy during a news conference after NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with MVP Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco at a news conference after the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. The unassuming quarterback whose contract expires on the 31st March seeks a new deal with Ravens’ organization . Team owner , Steve Bisciotti , in conjunction with GM , Ozzie Newsome have stated that they will do whatever it takes to retain their Superbowl and MVP winning quarterback without having to resort to “breaking the bank” . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(5) San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh , left, greets Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh after the Ravens defeated the 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Dave Martin …

(6) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, left, and linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(7) Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome , who also happens to be the Baltimore Ravens’ general manager . Newsome became the franchise’s general manager in 2002 , having worked as a consultant with the Ravens prior to being promoted by owner Steve Bisciotti . In the subsequent years , it has been the executive’s keen eye for talent , which has drawn rave reviews from his peers. He now joins a select group of NFL individuals to have won a Superbowl as a player and in the role as a front office executive , but it should be noted that with the victory, he becomes the first African-American to have guided a franchise to a Superbowl victory , in his present capacity, as a general manager. Courtesy of USA Today /AP Photos / Mark Warren …

(8) NBPA President , Derek Fisher , left, is seen here with the union’s Executive Director , Billy Hunter , right , taking questions from the convened press , at a time when the union was at an impasse with the NBA hierarchy over the renegotiating of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Hunter , is now embroiled in tawdry scandal that involves the misappropriation of union funds by a subordinate in his employment who was in fact a family member (daughter – Alexis Hunter) . Further allegations. though not fully substantiated but showing a pattern of behavior suggesting that the union executive sought to transfer $7 million in union funds to a Cherry Hill's , New Jersey based bank , where his son just happened to be a mid-level executive . The intent was to use the funds to prop up the balance sheet of what was then a financially impoverished concern.

(9) Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries (43) shoots over defending Chicago Bulls players in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center , Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(10) Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(10) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives past Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

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NFL news & archived NFL news

Superbowl 47 (SBXLVII) results & stats

Baltimore Ravens news

San Francisco 49ers news

2013 NFL Draft

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NBA news and archived stories

NBA standings by division & by conference

NBA playoff picture

NBA results 3rd February

NBA schedule 4th February (8 games)

NBA statistics

NBPA (Players Union) & news and events

2013 NBA All Star Game to be played at the Toyota Center , in Houston , Texas (15th -17th February, 2013)

NBA All Star rosters (Eastern & Western Conference )

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Actress , author , philanthropist and entrepreneur , Jaime Pressley .

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And as most would aspire to see Pressley !

Crescent City Blues ……….

Crescent City Blues

By Tophatal

As the NFL prepares for their showcase event , it seems somewhat tactless that the city of New Orleans as well as the NFL hierarchy simply tries to gloss over the blight that still affects the city to this day , in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina . Crime within the city has petered off slightly, but New Orleans’ homicide rate remains amongst the highest in nation , ranking it up alongside that of Chicago’s. New Orleans’ mayor , Mitch Landrieu while happy to see the event staged in the Crescent City , has to know that while the city comes under a global microscope this upcoming Sunday , his greatest concern has to be , how to best deal with the blight that still ravages his city , with the ongoing corruption , mistrust of the Police Department and the very fact that his predecessor , Ray Nagin will soon go to trial, on corruption and mail fraud charges in an indictment obtained by the US Justice Department .

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While there are wildly differing views and economic estimates as to the economic impact the staging of the Superbowl has on a municipality , it would not be out of the realms of reality to suggest it would in excess of $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) in the leadup to the event itself , during the fortnight in which the city will have been the beneficiaries of the revenues in question . One billion dollars is something of a conservative estimate, in view of the events that are staged within the confines of New Orleans . Furthermore , with the exposure gained , there has to be future growth potential derived from the event’s staging. through the city

Now, while the city’s residents can take pride in the fact that this will be eleventh time that they will have staged a Superbowl . It cannot have escaped their attention how poorly the city , state and federal government by way of FEMA , still remain , poor in responding to their needs . Billions of dollars have been poured into the state, and the city to repair infrastructure , but yet there remains several thousand homes and businesses still left in a state of disrepair. Be it, through graft and corruption, the long-held notion as to how things are done within the city and state , there remains little if any optimism that the New Orleans can once again return to the splendor it once had .

All of the altruism and optimism , that went with the election of Bobby Jindahl (R-La) , who succeeded the “ hapless” Kathleen Blanco , as governor of the state , has now become all the more glaring , when one considers that Jindahl’s administration and the legislator are hopelessly gridlocked in dealing with so many of Louisiana’s, most acutest of needs .

The Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana , will be the stage for the NFL’s showcase event , as the Baltimore Ravens will play their NFC counterparts , conference champions , the San Francisco 49ers . . Both teams had truly tremendous seasons by way of their play and the results record over the their respective schedules .

A great deal will be made of the fact that that the two opposing head coaches are siblings , with Jim Harbaugh facing off against his brother, John Harbaugh , in a game that might not necessarily create warring factions amongst the Harbaugh clan . But that remains to be seen between now and the culmination of the big event . Whatever one might now feel at this juncture , both teams are thoroughly deserving of their present positions , by way of their play in the postseason .

Quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick have been placed on the game’s greatest stage , where they will be both entrusted teams on a path to undoubted success . In what will be the most important games of their respective careers , these two quarterbacks will be looking to extol their abilities and indicate to the fans that their ascent to their present positions is no mere fluke but a belief in their own skill-set and the imbued faith shown in them by their respective head coaches.

Now while the media seeks those emotional stories to tug at the heart strings , as the game approaches, while Ray Lewis seeks to bow out , after an illustrious career in the NFL , his story , will be , by no means the biggest to be had , in the buildup to the event on Sunday. There are, a number of subplots to be expounded and placed in the public domain . Another seasoned veteran , who has been overlooked for much of the season , has been Niners’ wide receiver , Randy Moss . The player brought in earlier this season by GM Trent Baalke , to complement what was as such a moderately average wide receiving corps , could very well be playing his last professional game in the NFL , should the San Francisco 49ers prove to be triumphant. As to whether or not Kaepernick will now rise to the occasion in the biggest game of his career with the weapons at his disposal , will go a great way in telling us a great deal about the demeanor of this sophomore quarterback drafted by the franchise in 2011 .

While the rumblings have now subsided, with many questioning Jim Harbaugh’s decision to have Colin Kaepernick replace Alex Smith earlier in the season , after Smith initially went down with a concussion . I have always felt that the young quarterback offered his team more chances to win , than his more experienced predecessor ! Kaepernick , having won the position outright , he now has the franchise on the cusp of seeking their sixth Superbowl title .

Ozzie Newsome , the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens , might just be one of the most unassuming front office executives in the entire NFL . He has quickly, transformed this roster into in all action fully accomplished and cohesive unit. In recent years, his drafting of a pool of players , who have proven to be productive. And it has been this mindset that has allowed Harbaugh coaching staff to have attained the success we have seen recent weeks from the Baltimore Ravens , in spite of the recent upheavals to that staff. Cam Cameron , was summarily dismissed as the offensive coordinator , when it felt, that the team was not getting the best out of their running and passing game during the months of November and December . The dismissal of Cameron , led to the immediate promotion of Jim Caldwell , the former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. In the ensuing weeks that have followed , primarily in the playoffs , where we have seen Joe Flacco raise the level of his play , to the point where he might now be considered the best performing quarterback during the postseason.

With Joe Flacco’s existing contract set to expire at the end of this postseason , the rumblings are that the player will seek a deal , commensurate with that of the highest paid players at the position within the NFL . If that amounts to a five or six year $100 million deal , I am not so sure , even in light of a Ravens’ triumph, the player is entitled to that sort of a compensation package. As good as Flacco has been for this Baltimore Ravens , it has only been in 2012 , where we have seen the maturation of the player simply reach a “peak level “ of efficiency and maturity on his part , and amongst his peers in the AFC , let alone amongst the rest of his contemporaries in the NFL , as a whole .

There have been relatively few meetings between the two teams , and their most recent match-up was not exactly a memorable event in terms of all-round productivity from either of these franchises . A 16-6 victory by the Baltimore Ravens was enough to suggest that we might well be in for either a thoroughly enticing ball game , showing the defensive capabilities of both teams or we the fans will granted the unwanted privilege of witnessing an event that could end up being a monstrous bore . And with the anticipated viewership , tens of millions nationally , and upwards of 1.3 billion globally , in what of what should be this year’s highest rated and watched television event. I for one , will be hoping , that this Superbowl provides us with a thoroughly exciting game , and one which will be totally memorable for all of the right reasons ! The NFL needs that sort of an uplifting event after the mishaps and pratfalls imparted upon the fans after another disastrous season of leadership during the tenure of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell .

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Picture gallery.

As a fan are you entirely happy with the staging of Superbowl 47 in the city of New Orleans , even as the city and state slowly work towards repairing not only its infrastructure, after the recent natural disasters, but also, its still tarnished reputation ? And what if anything , do you hope to see from this game, in terms of the undoubted competitiveness of both teams ? By all means, do take time to leave a comment on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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(1) An aerial view perfectly captures the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. AP Photo / John Hall …

(2) The New Orleans Superdome where thousands sought refuge from what was desribed at the time as the worst natural disaster to hit the Southeast , since Hurricane Andrew , in August of 1992. AFP/REUTERS/Arnold Gillespie …

(3)President Barack Obama, center, is greeted on the tarmac by from left to right, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu , and Gov. Bobby Jindahl, during his arrival at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, in Kenner, La. Obama traveled to the region to view the ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Isaac. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais …

(4) Kathleen Blanco , former governor of Louisiana , is seen here with President George W Bush at an emergency operations center in New Orleans , Louisiana , during the state and FEMA’s relief efforts. Critics raised questions as to Blanco’s and the state’s handling of the relief efforts , and the overall incompetence shown by the federal government , whose ongoing work continues almost eight years after the natural disaster in August 2005 . AP Photo/ Mitchell Hamilton …

(5) FILE – JANUARY 18: According to reports, former mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, has been charged with 21 corruption charges. WASHINGTON – SEPTEMBER 23: New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin testifies on Capitol Hill on September 23, 2008 in Washington, DC. Mayor Nagin spoke about his city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina as well as its recent experience with hurricanes Gustav and Ike . Officials from the Gulf area were on Capitol Hill requesting lawmakers for federal funding to aid in recovery efforts for over $14 billion worth of damage after the two recent hurricanes devastated the region. Nagin has plead not guilty on all counts , and having been arraigned , and indicted , he now awaits trial in US Federal Court in New Orleans , Louisiana . Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images ….

(6) A Lower Ninth Ward resident inspects a telephone pole that was toppled onto her home by Hurricane Isaac on August 29, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The large Level 1 hurricane slowly moved across southeast Louisiana, dumping huge amounts of rain and knocking out power to Louisianans in scattered parts of the state. Getty Images North America / Mario Tama ……

(7) A tree blown over from Hurricane Isaac lies atop a cemetery tomb on August 29, 2012 in Oakville, in Plaquemines Parish , Louisiana. The parish, south of New Orleans, was the most heavily damaged by the hurricane. The system, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Weather Service, moved slowly across the state, dumping large amounts of rain and knocking out power to half a million Louisianans. Getty Images / John Moore ….

(8) The Superdome is pictured Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in New Orleans. The city will host the Super Bowl XLVII football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers Sunday. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …

(9) Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, parents of Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, kiss during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, for NFL football’s Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Their sons will be coaching against each other in the Super Bowl on Sunday. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …..

(10) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis speaks at an NFL Super Bowl XLVII news conference on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Feb. 3. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(11) Joe Flacco , left , and Colin Kaepernick , the two opposing quarterbacks who will face off against each other , this upcoming Sunday in Superbowl 47 . AP Photo / Martin Brown ….

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NFL news & news from around the league

Superbowl SB47 (SBXLVII)

Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers , game to be played on the 3rd February, 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana ,.

Baltimore Ravens’ team profile &

Baltimore Ravens’ front office

Baltimore Ravens depth chart (roster)

Baltimore Ravens’ 2012 regular season schedule & ….. AFC North standings

Baltimore Ravens postseason stats

Baltimore Ravens’ payroll

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San Francisco 49ers’ team profile

San Francisco 49ers’ front office

San Francisco 49ers depth chart (roster)

San Francisco 49ers’ 2012 regular season schedule & …… NFC West standings

San Francisco 49ers postseason stats

San Francisco 49ers’ payroll

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All-time head-to-head meetings between the Ravens and Forty Niners

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NFL player stats postseason

NFL team stats postseason

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Christina Aguilera

Singer Christina Aguilera .

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

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

By Tophatal ….. 01/08/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wale & … Gucci Mane “Pretty Girls”

Too early to crown their ass ? Yes , because , they suck !

Too early to crown their ass ? Yes , because , they suck !

By Tophatal

Week eleven has closed its books , and lo and behold , the NFL is what we believed it to be , a watered down product , with one or two good teams, a number of marginal aspirants and several teams that have simply stunk up the joint , so far in the NFL schedule . And last night was further evidence of that as the often lofted expectations of the Chicago Bears , were one again brought back down to earth . I have often maintained, that Jay Cutler is simply not an elite quarterback , great arm , but his football IQ , might just be on par with that of Paris Hilton’s overall intelligence quotient . And please don’t try to suggest that Bears’ issues this season . has more to do with injuries , rather than their play on the field.

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Having acquired former Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver , Brandon Marshall to add potency to the Bears’ offense , but it would appear that the team’s opponents this season have caught on to what actually makes Jay Cutler and this team , tick offensively.

Monday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers was simply an unattractive affair , as only one team came to play . Suffice to say , that team certainly was not the Bears ! If anything , Lovie Smith , his coaching staff and the Chicago Bears should be hanging their heads in shame , after such an embarrassing display . As to their much vaunted defense, well it was nowhere to be seen . Granted , Cutler , was not on the field of play , as backup , Jason Campbell , was asked to assume the reins , for the absent Jay Cutler, who remained sidelined by an injury. But the night belonged to the Niners’ Colin Kapernick , as he led the team with his arms and his legs . Note to the Jets’ coaching staff , if you want to know how best to utilize the “ so-called “ best attributes of Tim Tebow , then please seek the advice of Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff, you bunch of dumb morons ! Kapernick, was called in for the late scratch of starting quarterback , Alex Smith , who was still overcoming the effects of concussion suffered in week ten . The Niners’ 32-7 defeat of the Chicago Bears , gives Harbaugh’s team enough of a cushion within the labored NFC West, a division that simply can be so monstrously mediocre , even at the best of times. Week twelve , and the Forty Niners will be the guests of the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, in New Orleans , Louisiana , this upcoming Sunday. 25th October ,2012.

The Chicago Bears (7-3), are tied for first place in the NFC North , alongside the Green Bay Packers (7-3) , but the Packers , with a better divisional and conference record are as such viewed as the leaders of the division from a statistical standpoint. Lovie Smith and the Chicago Bears will entertain the Minnesota Vikings (6-4) , in a pivotal divisional game when the two teams meet. A loss for the Bears , would certainly put a dent in their divisional and postseason aspirations , but with the stakes being so high , an all-out win is the desired result, for this very inconsistent team.

Is it still OK , to harangue and lambast the Philadelphia Eagles for having such a horrendous season , when their head coach , Andy Reid, and quarterback , Michael Vick , are at the lowest points of their respective NFL careers ? Vick is having an indifferent season , and is now sidelined with a concussion . The team itself has lost focus , and their seems to be no vocal leadership coming forth from any member of this roster . Reid , head steadfastly stood by , in support of veteran quarterback , and with each passing moment , the calls for the coach’s dismissal , is getting louder and louder.

It certainly would be a magnanimous gesture , were Andy Reid to step down , rather than the head coach , being forced out , and dismissed , under the orders of team owner, Jeff Lurie and the executives of the Eagles’ front office . Coming off , another catastrophic loss , the Philadelphia Eagles’ season , seems to be going up in flames, while several players on the roster are giving a less, than adequate effort , in trying to reverse their misfortune. While, I do not believe that either the head coach or player would be sidelined , then to be dismissed at this point of the season , it is my belief , that one if not both will no longer be with the franchise at the beginning of the preseason in 2013. If Lurie and team President , Dan Smolenski and GM Howie Roseman , do make that switch, with a view to the hiring of a new head coach and quite seeking out a top-flight free agent quarterback , as well as obtaining a quarterback from the 2013 NFL Draft , then now might be the time to set the ball in motion, with regard to planning ahead. There are a number assistant head coaches in the NFL that might meet the requirements of the Eagles , yet in terms of a skilled enough player to assume the role of a starter , that may well prove to be more difficult of the two tasks , in question.

Call me naïve , but for the life of me , when I look at how far the Buffalo Bills have fallen from the years when they made four successive Superbowls in the nineties , which they each , lost , to my mind is simply astounding and staggering ! This is an organization where if a black cat were to walk across the path of one of their players , the next day , you might read about that very same player being placed on the injured-reserve list for the franchise . This team , has been snake bit , kicked in the head , and repeatedly punched in the mouth, as if they were participants in a street fight . I am not about to suggest that they are about to be “counted out” , but if there were a boxing referee in close proximity , he would be questioning the participant, as to whether or not , they could still carry on , while being able to protect themselves adequately. This season the Bills have not been able to protect anything , as their record (4-6) now seems to bear this out .

Head coach , Chan Gailey and his beleaguered coaching staff , now seem to be out of their depth , and it is my firm belief , that he will be one of several head coaching casualties that will be dismissed at the end of this season ! An indifferent start in 2012 has simply permeated through what we all witnessed in 2011 , with the team , and how they fell apart at the end of the season .

The front office of the Buffalo Bills , led by renowned general manager , Buddy Nix , has pretty much stated that the franchise will seek to draft a quarterback in the upcoming Draft , but therein lies the dilemma , because Nix. threw his support behind incumbent starter , Ryan Fitzpatrick , only for the player to have performed erratically over the course this season , with only fleeting moments where they player actually showed some signs progress and promise . his situation , has been further compounded by Fitzpatrick not being able to stay healthy , but at the same time , the team’s offensive line , has given the quarterback , very little protection , if any , that would assist him, in being effective in the efficiency of the offense . When Fitzpatrick was not available , it has been Tavaris Jackson , and Tyler Thigpen who have been entrusted, and asked, to step up to the plate , while offering meager returns, in such an instance. The picture simply does not get any clearer , when you view the options , beyond Fitzpatrick and Jackson as alternatives , at the position . Bleak , might be the appropriate ” word “ to be used !

Nix and Gailey sought to draft prudently in 2012 , to meet the team’s needs both on defense and offense , but the players taken , have yet to make their mark , either in the preseason or the regular season , for that matter. If the Bills are to fare any better over the remaining six games on their schedule , then it will be incumbent upon , Stephen Gilmore , Cordy Glenn, T J Graham, Nigel Badham , Ron Brooks , Zebrie Sanders , and Tank Carder , will have to show their zeal for the game , as the rookies on the roster. If there’s said to a bright spot on this Bills’ team , then the play of C J Spiller , Fred Jackson and Steve Johnson and Scott Chandler , Nick Barnett, and Donald Jones , might be the only high points that have been provided , from an otherwise disappointing season for the franchise .

Chan Gailey and his players will have to be wary, when they face the Indianapolis Colts , when the two teams meet at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indianapolis , Indiana , in a week twelve showdown . The Colts are still “ smarting” from a tough lesson learned at the hands of the New England Patriots , who simply steamrolled over a young and resurgent Colts’ team , on their way to a 59-24 victory over Chuck Pagano’s players. . I am pretty sure that the bitter taste of defeat will have got Andrew Luck riled up enough to the point , where , he will want to redeem himself and get the team back to winning ways . This could be game to savor , if both teams are ready to play . but I somehow get the feeling that the Bills , will once again raise the “ white flag of surrender” , while taking on another defeat in the loss column! .

So the “prodigal son” has returned , as the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed Plaxico Burress , a Superbowl winner with the franchise . The wide receiver was acquired , because of a depleted receiving corps, due to injuries of players at the position , and never-mind the fact that , Ben Roethlisberger just isn’t able to find a receiver capable of holding onto the ball this= season, with any regularity . Burress , brings with him , an ability to make something out of nothing , and has always been a “ deep ball” threat , though that was never really on show , while he was with the New York Jets , for a mere season . Risks , versus reward ? Well , if it means that Mike Tomlin can get this team into the playoffs , after an indifferent season, then you simply know that once the postseason begins, this will be a roster playing with a purpose . . If there is one thing that is clear from this move , it is that Burress will relish the chance to reestablish himself as a one of best wide receivers in the NFL , but more to show his appreciation to the Steelers and their fans , and the place where he first made his name as a professional .

The Steelers are coming off a disappointing 13-10 loss to divisional rivals , the Baltimore Ravens , in a game , that if anything , meant a great deal more than the coaching staff would have you believe. Mental errors and an error prone Byron Leftwich , who substituted for an injured Ben Roethlisberger , essentially played its part , in the loss for the Steelers at Heinz Field , in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania . Baltimore simply took advantage of the Steelers with a mix of a strong running game but above all , and their renowned defense , with Ed Reed leading by example , as his teammates followed his lead. Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh , essentially summed it all up , in his postgame interview , when he stated , “ team effort” , “team defense and team offense, leads to wins” . And having opened up a two-game lead within the AFC North , at 8-2 , things right about now , are simply looking a great deal rosier for the Baltimore Ravens.

Both the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers face not particular stern tests , in their next scheduled games , of which both are AFC match-ups . Mike Tomlin, will lead his Steelers into Paul Brown Stadium in Cleveland , Ohio, to face off against the Cleveland Browns , in a highly anticipated match-up of divisional rivals .

Baltimore, for their part will travel cross-country to face the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium , in San Diego , California . And how many times have you heard this before ? This might be the game that Norv Turner will either be made to sink or swim as the head coach of the Chargers . Let’s put it this way, Turner has simply used up all of the goodwill he could have mustered , because in recent years , but more notably so , this season , the performances of this team have been exceptionally mediocre ! A great deal of the responsibility for the current mess rests squarely on the shoulders of Turner , his coaching staff , general manager A J Smith , and the players, themselves .The mere fact that Smith and Chargers’ COO & Chairman , Dean Spanos , and his family, as owners of the franchise , countenanced the retention Norv Turner , after last season’s abysmal failure , clearly indicates to me that their happens to be , a complete lack of intelligence within the organization ! I firmly believe that Turner will be one of perhaps four or five head coaches , who quite possibly , will be shown the door at the end of this season !

Care to offer up an opinion or thought on the points raised within this ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support , as it is greatly appreciated !

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Slideshow details below .

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(1) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) talks with head coach Jim Harbaugh during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. The 49ers would go on to defeat the Bears in a lopsided 32-7 victory AP Photo/Tony Avelar …

(2) Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell (2) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith (94) and linebacker Aldon Smith , not pictured, during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. The 49ers won 32-7 . AP Photo/Tony Avelar ….

(3) San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) leaps past Chicago Bears strong safety Major Wright (21) during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. AP Photo/Tony Avelar …

(4) Washington Redskins wide receiver Aldrick Robinson (11) celebrates his touchdown with defensive end Chris Baker (92) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. AP Photo/Nick Wass

(5) Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid speaks during a news conference at the team’s NFL football practice complex, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, in Philadelphia. The Eagles are 3-7 and have lost six straight, accelerating the countdown toward the possible end of Andy Reid’s 14-year tenure as coach. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ..

(6) Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller (28) goes against Miami Dolphins’ Karlos Dansby (58) during the first half of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP Photo/Gary Wiepert ..

(7) Head coach Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns shakes hands with head coach Chan Gailey of the Buffalo Bills after the Bills defeated the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bills defeated the Browns 24-14 . Getty Images North America / Jason Miller …

(8) FILE – In this Dec. 18, 2011, file photo, New York Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress (17) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Philadelphia Eagles corner-back Nnamdi Asomugha (24) during the second half of an NFL football game in Philadelphia. The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Burress on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, to provide depth at a position decimated by injuries . AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(9) Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich (4) walks off the field after a 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …

(10) Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers works the sidelines during a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 4, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. …

(11) San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) ….

(12) Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) is greeted by San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner at the end of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Denver. The Broncos won 30-23. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey …..

(13) San Diego Chargers’ first-round draft pick Larry English , second from right, holds up his new jersey as, from left to right, general manager A.J. Smith, team President & CEO Dean Spanos and head coach Norv Turner look on during a news conference Sunday, April 26, 2009, in San Diego. English, a linebacker, is from Northern Illinois. AP Photo/Jack Smith ……….

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D`Angelo …… “Cruisin’ ”

Talk is cheap, put up or shut up

Talk is cheap, put up or shut up

By Tophatal

There are certainties in life that we know that it is our duty to uphold , love of one’s family , country and a belief system, that acts as a moral beacon in our lives. In the world of sports and specifically the NFL , then that might have to be Tom Brady is guaranteed to give the New England Patriots at a minimum , a ten win season and that Jay Cutler for all of the praised heaped upon him by none other than ESPN’s own Ron Jaworski , he still remains something of an anathema as a quarterback . The fact of the matter is, the player keeps on coming up short in the games that matters the most . I have had one patron try to suggest to me that Cutler’s performance in the NFC Championship game for the 2010-11 post season would be something of the past .Well lo and behold the stage was set for Cutler and the Chicago Bears to prove me wrong in a game that represents the longest running series and rivalry in the NFL , which are the games between the Bears and their conference and divisional rivals the Green Bay Packers (1-1) . This was meant to be a test of two versatile quarterbacks on the opposing teams. On the one you had Cutler, who with his teammates sought to increase their lead within the NFC North but alas, as the events unfolded at Lambeau Field , in Wisconsin, this game would not be one , where the Chicago Bears would hold true to form. Instead , missed assignments , the ill-effectiveness of the Bears’ offensive line and erratic Cutler performance doomed the away team , as the Packers ran away with the game , distancing themselves from an inept Chicago Bears’ team.

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In the aftermath of this 23-10 victory for the Green Bay Packers , this win gives Aaron Rodgers , Mike McCarthy and the Packers’ team something of a respite after their week one loss to the San Francisco 49ers in somewhat of a thrilling 30-22 defeat. The Niners’ defense simply stymied the Packers’ much vaunted offense , leading many to believe that the rookies drafted by Green Bay to bolster the defense would remain a work in progress as their season would unfold. Lessons learned in that loss were quickly absorbed and put to the test against the Bears.

For the rather infantile and immature Jay Cutler , what this simply signifies to me , is that as talented as he is , his mindset becomes one , where , when adversity stares him in the face , in no way is he up to the task! Cutler has yet to win a meaningful game over the course of his career , and as I have repeatedly said , he abandoned his teammates in their hour of need in that rather telling NFC championship game which resulted in 24-14 loss to the eventual Superbowl champions of that 2010 season , the Green Bay Packers. Prior to the game Cutler and his teammates belittled their opponents by suggesting that the Packers and their defense would not be able to deal with the Bears’ offense. If only the Bears’ quarterback knew what Clay Matthews and the rest of the Packers had in store for him , I seriously doubt that the quarterback would have been so bold in his comments . Sacked seven times during the game , harried , harassed and in throw in several forced fumbles , and it one might suggest that Cutler’s day at the office , would be one that he would rather forget. Talk, is cheap, you either up or shut up! Cutler cannot do both and that has now become a bona-fide fact.

Well the New England Patriot started off their 2012 schedule with a rather lopsided 34-12 victory over the Tennessee Titans , a team now finding its footing under second-year coach , Mike Munchak . With the victory comes the expectation that Bill Belichick now has the prerequisite pieces in place to make another deep run into the postseason. After last season’s epic and seismic loss to the New York Giants for the second time in five years the NFL postseason finale , of the Superbowl . You simply get the feeling that a hex has been placed on the franchise and the very fact that they cannot overcome their latest nemesis. I am not usually one to concern myself with superstitions of black cats , a rabbit’s foot , or even a lucky coin for that matter. In games of chance , and sporting events , you either make your own luck by playing to your potential , or failure comes about ,merely from the fact that you did not put in the effort and preparedness to be ready on the day. With both losses to the Giants , each time , complacency set with a team that had victory within their grasp.

The off-season in many ways was beneficial for coach Belichick and his coaching staff as they set about revamping the roster through the NFL Draft and free agency acquisitions . GM Nick Caserio, in consultation with Bill Belichick has seen fit to be judicious with the choices made, as Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Tavon Wilson, Jake Bequette, Nate Ebner, Dennard Alfonzo, and Jeremy Ebert. These players have made contributions in the preseason but their baptism of fire came in the first regular season game of the Patriots’ schedule . The 34-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans , as decisive as it might have appeared , in no way should anyone read in to the result , that all of the issues that befell the New England Patriots in 2011 have been addressed in this one game.

New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady a league and Superbowl MVP , has created a legacy that has seen him rewrite the history books while looking to cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats to have played the quarterback position. He now has running game that is supplemented by the play of Stevan Ridley and arsenal of receivers led by Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Julian Edelman, Wes Welker , Brandon Lloyd and Brandon Bolden .

Week two, will see the New England Patriots host the Arizona Cardinals (1-0) in a game that pits two unbeaten teams looking to secure an extended lead of their respective divisions . And for head coach, Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals, the decision which awaits him , the choice between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton , as to which these two inconsistent quarterbacks will be Sunday’s starter for the team.

Clearly for the Cardinals, they would have preferred going into the season with some semblance of consistency being shown by their pair of quarterbacks but that has not been the case . Kolb ,signed to a lucrative deal by the front office , has as barely lived up to the expectations in meeting that contract , and the starting position was granted to John Skelton on merit , as deemed by the head coach. In the team’s opening season game —- against the Seattle Seahawks , Skelton performed admirably before suffering an injury , that would see Kolb replacing the incumbent to end the game , which resulted in a narrow 20-16 victory for the Cardinals over their NFC West divisional rivals. This upcoming game against the Patriots should prove to be interesting , as the Cardinals’ defense now get the chance to gauge themselves against one of the league’s more hyped offenses. It will become a test of wills when the two teams meet at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Massachusetts , this Sunday.

Now in light of the league hierarchy (NFL) , yet to resolve the situation between NFL and the NFLRA (referees’ union) , with the replacement officials still adjudicating the regular season games thus far. It must be said there have been far too many inconsistent calls by the replacement referees , who normally adjudicate the games at the D2 and D3 levels of Collegiate Football. It is my firm belief that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has erred in his judgment , in thinking that the union would be ready to resolve their issues amicably , when it has been the league who has been completely intransigent ! It was this sort of behavior by the commissioner that led to a protracted lockout of the players (NFLPA [union]) . That subsequent agreement as we now see leaves a great deal to be desired which has led to even greater distrust between the league and the union. In light of it all , we are now at week two of a sixteen game regular season schedule which is arduous and testing. These replacement referees have tested the will of the fans and the media at large. Roger Goodell for his part, has been graceful in describing the officials’ performances as being great but I would suggest that the replacement officials have been average at best, if not barely competent ! Your thoughts on that premise ?

Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times in conjunction with the Associated Press

NFL has temporary five-week schedule for replacement officials

A person familiar with the schedule says the league has it set up to use replacement officials through at least Week 5. The regular officials have been locked out since early June in a labor dispute.

Associated Press

September 11, 2012

The NFL has devised a temporary five-week schedule for using replacement officials.

A person familiar with the schedule told the Associated Press on Monday that the setup is done through Week 5 of the regular season. The regular officials are locked out and replacements worked the preseason and the first week of the regular season.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not made public officiating schedules.

In early June, the league locked out the officials, who are part-time NFL employees, after their collective bargaining agreement expired. The NFL Referees Assn. and the league met for three days at the beginning of September before talks collapsed.

The NFL and the union, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.

Replacements were used in 2001 , but only for one week of the regular season before a deal was reached. This year’s replacements have had some errors, particularly late in Arizona’s 20-16 victory over Seattle when the Seahawks were awarded an extra timeout . The officiating crew admitted its mistake after the game.

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I certainly do not believe the NFL, under Roger Goodell’s guidance has been working steadfastly enough to resolve the issue , and their impasse with the union. None of the statements that can be directly attributed to him would suggest otherwise, as he seeks to paint the NFLRA as “the villains” of the piece. The league enforced lockout was initiated by Goodell , and as initially inferred by the commissioner that this was brought about by Mark Baltz and his members .The commissioner countenances the use of the replacement officials and believes that they continue to do an excellent job , even under the current conditions . As the season progresses and naturally mistakes made by the referees are highlighted , it will become clear to the fans that the league is at risk of being further ridiculed , if it is not already being ridiculed by the fans and media alike. In stating that by week 5 he envisages some form of an agreement , clearly indicates that it was Goodell’s intent for a protracted dispute with the officials, and as what this might suggest by the commissioner and the hierarchy . Well, that would have to be open to a great deal conjecture and speculation.

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What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the points raised in this article ? And do you believe the NFL can perform competently with the replacement officials continuing to adjudicate the regular season games and quite possibly the postseason based on the evidence shown ?By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell whose latest faux-pas has been to initiate an enforced lockout of the NFL referees , while replacing those official with referees from the collegiate system from within the D2 and D3 levels of FBS (Football Subdivision) . At best their performances can described in the pre and regular season as average to moderate . One would question however , how they might be viewed in the postseason when a great deal more is said to ” be on the line “ for the teams in question. AP Photo/ Mark Thompson …

(2) Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews (52) sacks Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler (6) during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. AP Photo/Mike Roemer …..

(3) Green Bay Packers’ Donald Driver catches a touchdown pass in front of Chicago Bears’ Chris Conte (47) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers would go on to defeat the Bears 23-10 given their divisional record at 1-1 within the NFC North . AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps ……

(4) Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler walks off the field after being sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 23-10 . AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps …..

(5) Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears tries to escape Mike Daniels (76) of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 13, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 23-10. Getty Images North America /Johnathan Daniels …

(6) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady watches from the sideline in the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Brady threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots won 34-13 . AP Photo/Wade Payne ….

(7) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) scrambles away from Tennessee Titans’ Mike Martin (93) and Karl Klug (97) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. The Patriots won 34-13. AP Photo/Joe Howell ….

(8) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) celebrates his touchdown pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. Kolb replaced John Skelton, who was injured and left the game. AP Photo/Paul Connors …

(9) Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton (19) is sacked for a six-yard loss by Tennessee Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley (95) in the second quarter of an NFL football preseason game on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. AP Photo/Joe Howell ….

(10) Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, right, pauses as he puts a hand on injured quarterback John Skelton, on ground, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 20-16 . Skelton was carted off the field and replaced by Kevin Kolb. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin ……

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Revenge Is A Meal Best Served Cold… But Let’s Face It …. This Might Not Be The Meal We Expect It To Be …..

Revenge Is A Meal Best Served Cold… But Let’s Face It …. This Might Not Be The Meal We Expect It To Be …..

By tophatal …….

Well now that we know the NFL’s claimants for the two conference berths for the upcoming Superbowl [SB46] —- (SBXLVI) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis , Indiana ,. The New York Giants in their thrilling over-time victory over the San Francisco 49ers sets up a meeting against the New England Patriots which promises to be reprise of the 2007 Superbowl which gave us perhaps one the most memorable endings to a postseason game in recent memory.

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The New England Patriots’ unbeaten season of 2007 gave way to a postseason that simply defied . David Tyree’s memorable catch and everything that millions witnessed in that game simply left the nation in disbelief that the heavily favored Patriots were hoisted upon on their own petard by Tom Coughlin’s team on the day. That stunning 17-14 victory sealed the New England Patriots’ fate for that 2007 season and their legacy in NFL history .

Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eli Manning have each had their fair share of postseason heroics and it will be upon both of their shoulders that their respective franchises’ hopes will be pinned . Now, much has been of the stellar displays given this season by each of these Superbowl MVP winning quarterbacks . Both Brady and Manning are now considered amongst the elite players at the position within the NFL but I for one still have my doubts about Eli Manning given the inconsistencies to his game that we have seen repeatedly over the course of his career . His AFC counterpart Tom Brady as we all know is the face of the Patriots’ franchise , with a glamorous catwalk model , in, Giselle Bundchen , as his wife .

Beyond that however, Brady might just be the most consummate professional playing the quarterback position today , constantly looking to improve upon his craft . Slowly but surely , as he looks to join such storied NFL luminaries who have made their names in the postseason . The likes of Joe Montana , John Elway , Terry Bradshaw , Steve Young and Troy Aikman have essentially cemented their legacies with their postseason heroics and the fact that each has been enshrined in the Hall of Fame should let you know that these players are not averse to showing their determination . Tom Brady is Canton bound that’s for sure , and Eli Manning is looking to add to the credentials that would certainly make him a future inductee .

In a game that’s sure to fascinate as well become a bone of contention for the fans of the AFC and NFC and all that it will entail , this could very well pit two esteemed coaches once again playing a game of cat and mouse . Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are each Superbowl winning coaches , and will be looking to add to their legacies . Belichick is a three-time winning victor , who will be looking to join Chuck Noll as the only four time winning coach of the Lombardi Trophy . Coughlin after his victory in 2008 will look to join Bill Parcells , himself a two-time winner of the Superbowl as a coach of the New York Giants . With so much at stake for each coach , it is easy to comprehend that the amount of pressure that this duo now face. Over the ensuing two weeks leading up to the big game itself there will be that constant barrage of interview requests seeking each coach’s insight as to what they hope to envisage from the upcoming Superbowl match-up.

After-all , an audience that is expected to be upwards of 150 million viewers nationally , and a global audience in excess of 1 billion , it is easy to understand why this sole event is the most watched sporting spectacle extravaganza in the nation. And for NBC Sports this will be the gargantuan financial behemoth in terms of the revenues that the network will reap. Thirty second ads will set most advertisers back a cool $3 million at least , with major corporate sponsors looking to showcase many of their finest products during the televised events . Major film studios , Twentieth Century Fox , Warner Bros , Sony Pictures , The Weinstein Company , Universal Pictures and major Fortune 500 companies such as Coca Cola , Pepsi-Co , Budweiser (Anheuser Busch) , Sony , GM , Ford , Chrysler and IBM …. ____ each will be looking to amplify their presence in the market place even further in what is sure to be some very entertaining ads.

Both teams in this NFL extravaganza have their play makers , with the Giants , their go to guy this season just happens to be Victor Cruz but that would be doing a major disservice to wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham who certainly have some of the most productive wide-outs in the NFC this season . But if the Giants’ offense is said to be worthy of a mention then the team’s defense has to be the fulcrum that has held this team together through their highs and lows this season .

The Giants’ secondary of Jason Pierre Paul , Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck will be there to “bring the pain “ and a great deal more , of which Tom Coughlin knows that his defense will be there shore up the offense should things start to take a turn for the worse.

Tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski had a productive season for the New England Patriots and the duo were amongst the most productive players at the position within the NFL during the 2011 regular season . But the team’s offense will have to be very diverse in terms of its strategy and this is certainly where Josh McDaniels will once again have to prove his worth as the team’s new offensive coordinator. The former Denver Broncos’ manager is back again within the New England Patriots’ fold serving under his mentor Bill Belichick . McDaniels was the primary guiding influence that saw Brady’s statistics reach stratospheric heights in 2007 when he and Randy Moss set the single season records for passing and receiving touchdowns .

As prolific as the Patriots’ offense is said to be it has been the team defense that gives Bill Belichik the greatest cause for concern . Remarkably inconsistent throughout much of the regular season the defense ranked amongst the lowest of the teams within the NFL and conference . And though the head coach is said to be the defensive coordinator for the unit , it is troubling see that this secondary continues to have so much trouble but yet during the postseason they managed to actually managed in part to negate the prowess of the Baltimore Ravens’ offense during the AFC championship game .

The hyperbole has began , and it’s not liable to stop anytime soon , as the build-up gets into full swing with the print and television media devoting hours of air-time in the coming weeks leading up to the game itself. For team owners Robert Kraft ,of the Patriots , the Mara family and Steve Tisch of the Giants , they will have a great deal look forward to , as their respective franchises come under a great deal of public adoration and scrutiny . Each organization has a legacy of success and victory will add to the luster already attained by each .

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What if anything are you most looking forward to with regard to the Superbowl , and which team do you believe this time comes into this match-up with an added advantage ? Simply leave a comment concerning this and anything else you believe to be of relevance to the subject matter . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck speaks to the media during an NFL football news conference, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …..

(2) New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning speaks to the media during an NFL football news conference, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(3) New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft speaks during a news conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, the day after the Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens to win NFL football’s AFC championship. The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants, the team that ruined their perfect season four years ago. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(4) FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 22: Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots dives into the end zone to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens during their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Elsa Amendola/Getty Images ….

(5) …… A reprise ? Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants congratulates head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots after their game on December 29, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Getty Images /Chris McGrath …..

(6) MetLife president and CEO Steven A. Kandarian , seated, holds a signed agreement to name the venue, MetLife Stadium, with New York Jets owner Woody Johnson , left, and New York Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch , right, at a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 in East Rutherford, N.J. The stadium, formerly New Meadowlands Stadium, is home to the Giants and the Jets. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ….

(7) David Tyree of the New York Giants the unbelievable catch seen around the globe that was in essence the game changing event during the game from Superbowl 42 played at the University of Phoenix Stadium , Glendale , Arizona , on the 3rd February , 2008. . The Giants would go on to defeat the Patriots 17-14 on their way to a hard-fought and well deserved victory . AFP/Photo / Paul Marhall ………..
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Superbowl 46 (SBXLVI) ….. New York Giants vs New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium , Indiana, Indianapolis . Game to be being televised by NBC
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Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

Week 3 of the NFL preseason and one doubts that there’s anymore that can be learned from the teams within the league . Certainly from a statistical standpoint as impressive as some teams appear to be there’s a great deal to be said for the fact that your starters will get their accustomed workouts but it will be the rookies who will look to acclimatize themselves with the rigors of the NFL.

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And perhaps nowhere will the spotlight be than upon more , than , the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton as he looks justify the faith shown in him by the Panthers’ front office , and the team’s coaching staff led by Ron Rivera . And though Newton has showed his guile and athleticism there has been nothing yet to suggest that he may well be the answer to the team’s needs at the position . The player and his presumed backup Jimmy Claussen now have one more game to prove to the fans and staff in particular that they are ready to embark upon the regular season in with the right frame of mind and the ability sought , in order for the Carolina Panthers to be successful.

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CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Cam Newton (1) and Jordan Gross (69) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Newton’s 16-yard touchdown run during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images …….

After a rather lackluster and disappointing 2010 season where the Carolina Panthers finished with a 2-14 record much to the disdain of their fans , it was felt the organization would embark upon a major personnel upheaval on both front within the playing and coaching staff. Jon Fox was seemingly allowed to depart along with several members of the coaching staff and this offseason the purge began amongst the playing personnel along with the players acquired through the NFL Draft .

As with any number one player taken in the draft a great deal is placed upon the shoulders of that athlete . They’re often seen as the presumed savior and future face of a franchise and for Cam Newton it will undoubtedly be no different. If the player can have half the success during his final year at Auburn then one could deem it a success for Cam Newton and his new teammates . Now it would be true to surmise that for any rookie quarterback starting in the NFL success isn’t expected to immediate but for the Panthers who have so much riding on the player , that anything short of an 8 win season would as such be deemed a failure for the organization . Granted , as with any team said to be going through this type of transition there will always be growing pains and a great deal of uncertainty not only about the team as a whole but also upon the expectations of the coaching staff , as well. Ron Rivera , it has to be said a rookie coach in the NFL will have his work cut out for him but with his credentials and insight into the game , one would expect the coach to fare well this upcoming season.

Unfortunately , for the Carolina Panthers they find themselves in a tough NFC South division where three of last year’s most promising teams within the conference reside . The Atlanta Falcons , New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot be overlooked as teams that are not capable of holding their own and being competitive in what can be best described as one of the better divisions within the NFL.

It might be at this juncture however that one now begins to question whether or not this team might be capable of usurping the dominance of their neighbors within the NFC South. I do believe that with that even with the changes on the roster , the team will be in for an arduous season ! The six games played within the division will be tough enough without considering the typical conference schedule overall for the Carolina Panthers. And ccertainly the team’s celebrated wide receiver Steve Smith will be looking to regain the form that made one of the more prolific players at the position .

It would be remiss to think that an offense led by Newton and Smith alone will be enough or for the Carolina Panthers to garner any semblance of success if this team is to show any semblance of progress beyond the mediocrity shown last season , then the team will have put forth a collective effort that is of their very best . There’s no denying that last season injuries had beset the 2010 team and as with any organization the coaching staff underestimated those losses to the roster as a whole . And it’s clear as a result of that the franchise ation believes it best to have players complemental and befitting a team that seeks the game’s ultimate prize _______ the Superbowl .

Noted veterans on this Carolina Panthers’ roster such as Steve Smith , Jeremy Shockey , Chris Gamble , DeAngelo Williams , Jordan Gross , Chris Massey and Jason Baker will have to step up if this team is to have any semblance of success over the course of this season.

By way of production shown in the preseason by the team’s young rookies the fans can expect something of note . Cam Newton , much like the players drafted alongside him by the Carolina Panthers have something to prove Albeit , that the quarterback’s own baptism of fire has been somewhat unspectacular . His rookie classmates Terrell McClain , Sione Fua , Brandon Hogan , Kealoha Pilares , Lawrence Wilson , Zachary Williams and Lee Ziemba are hoping that they too can offer something to this beleaguered franchise. If nothing else , it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires for this team as to their overall play.

For this season’s rookies in their first within the NFL this could very well prove to be an interesting year. Undoubtedly, even for the the players taken in the supplemental draft they too have something to prove . Terrelle Pryor in spite of his off field problems will have to justify the faith shown in him by the Oakland Raiders’ front office . I’d dare say that this is one gamble Al Davis might truly believe in, given his past forays with regard to over-hyped talent that simply didn’t measure up to much . With Pryor at this juncture who knows what he may well be able to offer the team ? Their travails of last season were well documented.

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Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, left, listens to instruction from head coach Hue Jackson, right, during their NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg …..

Certainly with the moves made by the organization and through the draft it has to be said the Oakland Raiders are positioning themselves to have a successful run within the AFC West and conference as a whole this season . The team certainly has the offensive capabilities to be amongst the best within the NFL and certainly within the AFC . If the team is able to reproduce that sort of form over the course the season then the Raiders’ fans could very well be for not only a wild ride but perhaps a shot of making the postseason .

Hue Jackson and his coaching staff must be hoping to get the very best out of this team . There’s enough veteran experience on the roster to suggest that Jason Campbell and his contemporaries are capable of providing enough leadership for the rookies on this team . But if there’s said to be a problem for the Raiders it has the consistent lapses by the defense in particular that of the pass defense that has let them down repeatedly over the course of last season . These are the things that John Marshall as the defensive coordinator will be lookin g to tweak over the preseason while Al Saunders will be looking to fine tune the skill-set of the team’s quarterbacks and that of the offense .

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What traits do you believe Cam Newton has that may well convince you that he is capable of being a success in the NFL ? Or do you believe that he will essentially be a work in progress over the next couple of years ? And are you of the opinion that the Oakland Raiders can be a legitimate contender within the AFC West and conference this upcoming season ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised within this piece and as usual thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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(1) New York Jets’ David Harris intercepts a pass by New York Giants’ Eli Manning during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 17-3 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …..

(2) Brandon Jacobs (27) of the New York Giants greets Plaxico Burress (17) of the New York Jets after their pre season game on August 29, 2011 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ……..

(3) CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Gibril Wilson (27) of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a tackle against DeAngelo Williams (34) of the Carolina Panthers during an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13 . Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……

(4) Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera looks on during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ………

(5) Jimmy Clausen (2) of the Carolina Panthers runs away from pressure while trying to pass during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13 . Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……

(6) CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Cam Newton (1) and Jordan Gross (69) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Newton’s 16-yard touchdown run during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images …….

(7) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) meet after the Bengals defeated the Panthers 24-13 in an NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Tony Tribble ……

(8) Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson walks off the field after the Raiders lost to the New Orleans Saints 40-20 in a preseason NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ) …….

(9) OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 28: Taiwan Jones (36) of the Oakland Raiders runs twenty two yards for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the third quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the O.co Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(10) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6) warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(11) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, left, listens to instruction from head coach Hue Jackson, right, during their NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. AP Photo/Eric Risberg …..

(12) Jason Campbell (8) of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the O.co Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ………
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Calmer Heads Ought To Prevail ……..But We’re Talking About The NFL and The NFLPA (Players’ Union) Here …….. So What Gives ?

Calmer Heads Ought To Prevail ……..But We’re Talking About The NFL and The NFLPA (Players’ Union) Here …….. So What Gives ?

OK, so this is the showcase weekend for the NFL, as its piece-de-resistance’ , showcase event , as in the Superbowl takes place in the ‘cosmopolitan’ city of Miami ? . Having lived just north of the municipality, I wouldn’t exactly call Miami cosmopolitan ,in the true sense of the word. The city and the large proportion of its residents believe themselves to be entitled and better off than many of their other residents. But that’s a story for another day.

MIiami  Grounds crews prepare the field for the Super Bowl at Sun Life Stadium February 6, 2010 in Miami, Florida. <strong>Super Bowl XLIV (SB XLIV) </strong> between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints will be held tomorrow, Sunday February 7, 2010.  photo appears  courtesy  of  Getty Images/ Win McNamee  .......
MIiami Grounds crews prepare the field for the Super Bowl at Sun Life Stadium February 6, 2010 in Miami, Florida. Super Bowl XLIV (SB XLIV) between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints will be held tomorrow, Sunday February 7, 2010. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Win McNamee .......

With countless millions watching nationally and tens of millions worldwide , this is the most watched sporting event in North America. In effect it becomes a proxy ‘national holiday’ for many. And the two participants , the respective representatives of the AFC and NFC will throw down the gauntlet on Sunday evening, as they seek to achieve supremacy and be anointed ‘Superbowl’ champions. The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are more than deserving of their place in the championship game. And for God’s sake can the ‘Brett Favre apologists either stop whining or simply jump of the damn cliff and follow the other lemmings that might’ve done so already !

A group of New Orleans Saints players pose on the Super Bowl logo at the 50-yard line for a souvenir photograph during football practice at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 in Miami. The Saints play the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL football Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. photo  appears  courtesy of Associated Press /  Mark  Humphrey  ......
A group of New Orleans Saints players pose on the Super Bowl logo at the 50-yard line for a souvenir photograph during football practice at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 in Miami. The Saints play the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL football Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Mark Humphrey ......

For both coaches and their entire staffs this will be something to savor , whether or not it’s their first time or a repeat , as in the case of the Colts . For first year coach Jim Caldwell of the Colts, he seeks to do what only a few men have done in the NFL in their first year as a coach and that’s to raise the Lombardi Trophy to signify that they have won the Superbowl. Caldwell’s counterpart, Sean Payton seeks to achieve his own place in history and at the same time give the residents of the city of New Orleans something to be proud of. This may well be the redemption also that Saints’ owner, Tom Benson seeks. As he’d often been thought of as something of a pariah within the city and its surrounding parishes. That may well have now changed but prior to the Hurricane Katrina disaster , let’s just say the sight of Benson within the city and its surrounding area was about as welcoming as a dose of the bubonic plague. Much of that changed once the city underwent the disaster as the nation and the inhabitants rallied around to help rebuild and resurrect the city and residents. Though a lot has been done there is still a great deal more to do.

As to the game itself , I’m not about to prognosticate and make a bold prediction. I’ll leave that to the likes of the ‘guys’ in Vegas and the analysts on tv. Suffice to say, all I’m wishing for is that this will be a highly competitive contest ! And on the day the better team will prevail. Sentiments being what they are, would suggest that some will rally around the Saints and cheer them on to victory. While others will no doubt want to see the Peyton Manning led Colts win their second Supebowl in four years. Manning having won his fourth league MVP award , now looks to cement his legacy and add to the annals of NFL history. Whether or not he’ll achieve that goal, we will know by late Sunday evening . But you can bet that he and his teammates will be looking to make it a certainty. Hoping to make sure that doesn’t happen will be Saints quarterback, Drew Brees , his high powered offense and the veteran presence of Darren Sharper .

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton leads football practice at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 in Miami. The Saints play the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL football Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. photo  appears  courtesy of  Associated  Press/ Mark  Humphery  .....
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton leads football practice at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 in Miami. The Saints play the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL football Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press/ Mark Humphery .....

Now once the game is over and all of the celebrations are to be had. We head into the off-season and all of the uncertainty that’s surrounds it. The ongoing slugfest between the two prinicipla rivals , as in the NFL and the NFLPA (Players’ Union), has left a decidedly and uniquely nasty taste and stench within our midst. One the one hand you have the players wanting, it would seem an even larger slice of an ever diminishing piece of pie. Whereon the other hand you now have the owners and the NFL pleading poverty and the fact that they’re not making as much money as they use to. Pardon me for saying this but when the fu_k have you ever heard of a ‘poverty stricken NFL owner’ ? Well other than that of the ‘Glazer family’ and their less than candor shown, as to their ongoing financial predicament with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United .

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer

‘We want an agreement,’ Goodell says

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – DeMaurice Smith slammed a 200-m.p.h. serve into NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s end of the court Thursday afternoon when the executive director of the players’ union strongly suggested that the owners would force a work stoppage with a lockout in 2011.

Goodell was far less aggressive with his return in yesterday’s state-of-the-league address at the Broward County Convention Center.

“We want an agreement,” Goodell said. “I think every owner will say the same thing. We want an agreement that is fair to the game, to the players, and will allow us to continue to invest in the game.

“The idea that ownership would be anxious for a work stoppage is absolutely false. You don’t make money by shutting down your business.”

That was much more diplomatic than the message sent by Smith when he met with reporters in the same building less than 24 hours earlier, but Goodell didn’t offer any substantial reasons for optimism on labor negotiations that apparently will lead to a season without a salary cap in 2010.

Smith and the Tennessee Titans’ Kevin Mawae, president of the union, the National Football League Players Association, said the owners had asked the players to take an 18 percent cut in the revenue sharing between the sides.

That contention was among 10 labor questions asked of the commissioner, who had to know the subject would dominate his news conference.

“I will tell you that what we’ve asked for very clearly” is “that when investments are made to grow the game and generate new revenue, they’re given recognition,” Goodell said. “And that will encourage further investment that will hopefully grow [the] pie.”

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NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith and Union President, Kevin Mawae , have pretty much made it clear that if it’s a fight that the NFL wants. Then they’re pretty much prepared to give it to them. As to what form that might take , no one is sure and nor do they welcome it. But it’s pretty much safe to say that the union is prepared for a stoppage and the possibility of a lockout. The last time that happened the NFL was shut down for a few months in 1987. To think that would happen again would send a seismic shockwave across the sporting landscape. And the financial loss to all involved would cost tens of millions of dollars. Never mind that the fans would no doubt feel alienated and betrayed both parties. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , appears to be saying all of the right things but his actions and that of the owners would suggest otherwise. The owners aren’t prepared to acquiesce and give any ground to the union and the same can be said of the union and their view of the situation . For the time being it appears to be a stalemate but somehow , I for one feel that things could get a whole lot nastier before they even give the appearance of getting better. Time is essentially running out for both sides as the deadline set for both sides to reach an agreement is the 5th March. That may well seem a long way off but when measured by the lack of progress that’s been made between both sides. It feels like an eternity or as wide as the Grand Canyon, if you want a meaningful contrast and visual portrayal ?

NFLPA President Kevin Mawae seen here discussing the NFLPA’s involvement with regard to their philanthropic assistance to the strife torn country.

Courtesy of USA Today

NFLPA president Kevin Mawae: ‘What you see this Sunday may not be here in 2011’

FORT LAUDERDALE — No sooner had NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah said during a state of the union Thursday news conference that total league revenue rose to $7.6 billion this past year, than labor strife rhetoric ramped up.

There was NFLPA president Kevin Mawae saying inside meeting room 315 at the Super Bowl media center inside the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center that owners are asking players to take an 18% pay cut and the players’ motto is, “Once uncapped, we’ll never go back.”

The league is less than one month from entering an uncapped 2010 season. If an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by the end of the 2010 league year in early March, NFL executive director DeMaurice Smith said on a scale of 1-10 that a lockout by owners is a “14.” And once the owners remove the salary cap for this season with restrictions in place, players won’t want to return to a salary-cap mechanism.

“It will be a very difficult task to go back to a capped season,” the veteran Tennessee Titans center said. “I can’t see going back to it. If players can make more than what they can make now in the future, than why would we go back to it?”

It is one of the key questions amid owners demanding the players’ side accept an 18% paycut.

“It’s absolutely that they’ve asked for 18%,” Mawae said. “(New York Giants co-owner) John Mara came out in a meeting last time that they proposed 20% and they won’t budge.

“It’s football. This is the greatest week in the NFL every year. It so happens to be a year when there could be possible labor unrest.

“You don’t want it to overshadow the game. But it’s obviously a part of what’s going to happen in this game. What you see this coming Sunday may not be here in 2011.”

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Tampa Bay Bucaneers former President Gay Culverhouse (R) testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about football brain injuries along with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith (C) on Captiol Hill October 28, 2009 in Washington, DC. A recent NFL study of retired players suggested that N.F.L. retirees ages 60 to 89 are experiencing moderate to severe dementia at several times the national rate. Suffering from cancer and with six months to live, Culverhouse is an advocate for players with brain injuries and testified about her 20 years experience in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Bucaneers former President Gay Culverhouse (R) testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about football brain injuries along with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith (C) on Captiol Hill October 28, 2009 in Washington, DC. A recent NFL study of retired players suggested that N.F.L. retirees ages 60 to 89 are experiencing moderate to severe dementia at several times the national rate. Suffering from cancer and with six months to live, Culverhouse is an advocate for players with brain injuries and testified about her 20 years experience in the NFL. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images North America / Chip Somodevilla ................

Needless to say the fans will start to get pissed , having seen the posturing of both sides and with very little having been accomplished. Kindergarten children have been known to show more resolve than what we’re now witnessing from both sides. Suffice to say, the bickering is ongoing and the only thing we’ve yet to see from either side is the name calling. When asked as to how close they were in reaching an amicable agreement upon a new collective bargaining agreement – Kevin Mawae was heard to say …..’what you see here on Sunday …may not be here in 2011′. With that one statement it’s pretty safe to say that averting a lockout, will not be happening. If an agreement can’t be reached in principal and they somehow do seek to play this upcoming season. Then it will be done without the NFL mandated salary cap. Without one in place then it petty much gives the wealthier teams around the NFL ‘carte-blanche’ to go after whomever they want and pay a player whatever they may well seek in terms of a salary. Financial constraints simply goes out the window and the mayhem ensue thereafter. If it’s one thing that we learned when the salary cap first came into being within the NFL. It was that it leveled the playing field and it made the teams and their general managers fiscally responsible. A return to the days of old and the chaos and mayhem that comes with it all , will no doubt add to the complexity of an already exacerbated situation.

If there’s one thing that we know about both the NFL and the NFLPA , it’s that they can both be inconsistently consistent as to a stance taken and then seemingly in the next breath do an about face and act as if the first stance taken by them never happened to begin with. And we’re now seeing it happen as each side is trying to portray themselves as a victim. Whilst I’m watching this unfold it has somewhat given me something of a new found respective for Bud Selig , the MLB hierarchy and that of their own MLBPA (Players Union). At least with each of the parties there , I could tell that they were blowing smoke up my ass , even if it wasn’t being done intentionally ! With the case of both the NFL and NFLPA , they would have you believe that they are sincere in trying to resolve their situation amicably and at the same time stay in the good graces of their patrons, the fans. Truth be known ? Neither party gives ‘a flying fu_k’ what the fans think to begin with because in their eyes it’s about what ‘they want’ , ‘their needs’ and how best it gets achieved !

While we’d all like to see an agreement reached that’s equitable for all of the parties concerned. It’s becoming abundantly clear that there could very well be labor unrest this off-season within the NFL. And if that does happen and there’s a lockout and stoppage. Then for all sense and purpose the NFL and its players can in effect say goodbye to the last piece of goodwill that it had amongst the fans.

Far be it for me to suggest that both the NFL and NFLPA should resort to the ‘ Chicago Way’. But it seemed to have worked for Eliot Ness and his Untouchables.

tophatal

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The  <strong>  always sensuous  <em> ravishing , captivating </em> and  sexually  alluring Italian  actress    Monica  Bellucci </strong>  .   There aren't   too  many  actresses  around  with  her   sort  of   <strong> sex  appeal </strong>   by  far  !
The always sensuous ravishing , captivating and sexually alluring Italian actress Monica Bellucci . There aren't too many actresses around with her sort of sex appeal by far !