The Life You Lead and the Road Less Traveled

The Life You Lead and The Road Less Traveled ….

With the NFL Postseason having come to an and with it being a glorious celebration with the Kansas City Chiefs wining Superbowl LIV . Patrick Mahomes joined a select group of players to have won the Superbowl MVP and League MVP , though not in the same season within a three-year span of having entered the league. Mahomes excelled during the regular season with his play and he truly stepped up to the plate during the postseason .

Patrick Mahomes and his teammates were truly invigorating in their defeat of the San Francisco 49ers . For Chiefs’ Head Coach Andy Reid , this was a tremendous achievement , after his years of trying to reach the pinnacle of the NFL. Reid has now taken two teams to the Superbowl , won two conference titles and multiple division titles with both the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. From my own perspective , Reid can now take this Chiefs’ franchise to even greater heights than any of his predecessors including the venerable Hank Stram .

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During this off-season , it will be interesting to see how the Kansas City Chiefs’ front office will deal with the free agents on the roster as well as positioning themselves with regard to the upcoming NFL Draft as well as their positioning with the salary cap . Leigh Steinberg , agent for Patrick Mahomes knows that he can negotiate a revamped deal for his budding NFL superstar , with the chance that Mahomes could very well become among
the highest paid players in the league.

There were several teams who failed miserably over the course of the NFL season , with perhaps none more so than the Cincinnati Bengals . Though some might say the Cleveland Browns were equally abysmal with Baker Mayfield proving how over-hyped the quarterback has been , albeit that he could share the same ignominy of Jamies Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with his erratic play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . One thing that is clear , several franchises will be in need of a quarterback for the upcoming season and the likelihood with several veteran free agents on the market , notably Tom Brady , Drew Brees and Philip Rivers , there could be some major changes on the way. Joe Burrow appears to be overall consensus number one overall pick in this upcoming Draft and I seriously doubt that the Bengals’ front office will pass on a player of his caliber , given his play on the national championship winning team of LSU (Tigers) .

In the aftermath of the fallout from the Houston Astros and their spectacular fall from grace , it has to be said that the MLB hierarchy’s handling of the situation was swift and exact . Furthermore , team owner Jim Crane immediately fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow . Crane has moved ahead with the hiring of Dusty Baker to succeed Hinch and the hire of James Click , a former front office executive with the Tampa Bay Rays to succeed Jeff Luhnow . It would appear that the Astros are now in a position to embark on a new chapter within the franchise’s history .

The world of baseball is still in shock , with some of the game’s most prominent players not said to be completely satisfied with the punishment meted out to the Houston Astros’ organization. From my own perspective , I feel that the steps taken by MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred , were more than justified and it sets an example for the rest of the teams within the league as to the dangers of cheating .

If you’ve provided a great deal of success for a team that you have played for ever since your very first game for the franchise , then you would expect to be compensated accordingly. That doesn’t appear to be the case for Mookie Betts , an All Star player for the Boston Red Sox and the ball-club’s most recent recipient of an ALMVP Award . Betts and the Red Sox front office seem to be miles apart in the renegotiation his existing contract which has a year to run and with the player due $27 million for the upcoming 2020 MLB season .

There are said to be at least two interested parties wishing to acquire Mookie Betts , with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres said to be those two leading ball-clubs vying for his services. The Dodgers for their part can offer up several players, while committing themselves to adding Betts’ final year to their already burgeoning payroll and likelihood of committing themselves of being penalized by way of the luxury tax threshold of $200 million if necessary. . It will be interested to see what the Dodgers can achieve with Mookie Betts and David Price , with the news now emanating that the Red Sox have relented and sent these two players westwards to Los Angeles . The Dodgers with these two acquisitions would have to be considered for the NLCS in 2020. with the depth of their roster overall .

With the Opening Day for the MLB season beginning on 26th March , 2020 and it will be interesting to see how the teams will fare through the first month of the season . The Los Angeles Dodgers’ regular season opener will see the team face the San Francisco Giants , their NL West divisional rivals .

It will be hard to suggest which team in the AL can be seen as a viable favorite for the ALCS in 2020. The New York Yankees , Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins were the only three teams to have notched over 100 wins this past season . All three were divisional champions and it will be interesting to see if either can repeat that feat , given the changes made to the respective rosters and payrolls . For the Yankees , their continued to pursuit of a twenty-eighth World Series’ title remains ever present in the minds of their fans as well as the Steinbrenner family as the owners of baseball’s most revered franchise . New York’s last victory in the World Series came by way of the managerial talents of Joe Girardi , as he led them to victory over the Philadelphia Phillies . New York’s manager Aaron Boone and this largely talented team will be looking to guide the franchise to another postseason berth with another title in mind. Their season will begin with a game the Baltimore Orioles , in a contest being played on the road against their AL East divisional rivals.

Aaron Boone will undoubtedly be tested over the course of the season , with the continued impatience among the fans of the New York Yankees. With the team having several All Stars on the roster , these players will have to play to the best of their abilities over the course of this season . The likes of Giancarlo Stanton , among the highest paid player on the team alongside Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge will be looking to have a great season in 2020. Gerrit Cole , the starting pitcher acquired during this off-season will debut for the Yankees , likely leading their starting roster of pitchers. . If Cole is the Opening Day Starter against the Orioles , it will be interesting to see how the player fares against Baltimore .

Is there any chance that Derek Jeter as the newest New York Yankees ‘ Hall of Fame inductee will be able to see the Miami Marlins actually compete this season within the NL East ? It has been several years since the ball-club last played in the postseason and several years since the finished either as a runner-up or division winner within the division.

The Miami Marlins have gone from being franchise with a great farm system to an after-thought and laughing stock around the game of baseball. Not even under the managerial acumen of Don Mattingly and his staff , has the ball-club to achieve anything of note. Suffice to say another sub-par year now awaits the Marlins after their 57-105 record of last season . . This season if nothing else , Jeter and team managing partner , Bruce Sherman will be expecting a great deal out of this team heading into the season. . On assessing the team’s roster and the fact the payroll is among the lowest in the league , something of a trait the ball-club has followed for a number of years . This continues to be the mantra that they’ve followed for several years heading into 2020 . The Marlins’ regular season opener will see the team face the Philadelphia Phillies at home .

We’re heading into the NBA All Star Game which takes place this upcoming week and with the teams having not fared too well at this juncture in the lead-up to this big mid-season event. The Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the league , and the team is the only franchise to have hit the forty victory mark . Current League MVP and captain of the World Stars , when they face the domestic NBA Stars of the league as Giannis Antetokoumnpou will lead that roster of World Stars . Antetokounmpou once again leads the Brewers in offense and has been the focal point of a franchise once again looking to meet expectations . Milwaukee has a mere handful games before the All Star Break , with their next game being against the Philadelphia 76ers , a team which is clearly over-matched in this contest to my mind with their players being nowhere as talented as the Bucks.

With the aftermath and the death of Kobe Bryant , there has been a giant shadow cast over the NBA and specifically the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise , with the organization as well as the fans players alike in a complete state of shock. For Lakers’ premiere players LeBron James and Anthony Davis , it has been a devastating for both All Stars. While I believe that the franchise can overcome this tragedy , it remains to be seen how the players will acquit themselves in the coming months . They are clearly the best team within the Western Conference by a wide margin , but the regular season being what it is . It’s a playoff run which really determines great champions and the players themselves . LeBron James knows this to be true given his playoff record in the NBA. Over their next ten games , it will be interesting to see how the Lakers will fare in those upcoming contests . Their upcoming game against the Golden State Warriors on the 8th February .

If the Los Angeles Lakers are said to be having problems, then one equate the continued problems of the New York Knicks as one of their very own making over the past ten years at least. . The fact that the franchise’s last appearance in the NBA Playoffs took place during the 2012-13 season should tell you all you need to know about the Knicks and their continued dire straits . The team’s roster as it now stands isn’t overly impressive and when compared to the other franchises in the conference and league overall , there’s the feeling that the front office under GM Scott Perry , team owner James L Dolan and the coaching staff of Mike Miller have completely lost their way . Up next for the New York Knicks will be a game against the Detroit Pistons on the road against an Eastern Conference rival . The New York Knicks remains the most valuable franchise in the NBA and among its most profitable , purely based from the fact they’re in the nation’s largest ad-market . Beyond that, there’s nothing remotely significant about the organization and its current destination at this juncture.

What if anything, would you like to see happen in the coming weeks within the world of sports and which recent stories have held your attention the most ?

Tophatal 02/07/2020………….

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What now brown cow or you piece of turd ?

What now brown cow or you piece of turd ?

I have repeatedly been told that Roger Goodell is a smart individual , but in all honesty , his tenure within the NFL since succeeding Paul Tagliabue as the NFL Commissioner has been a complete embarrassment. The Ted Wells’ Report encompassing the Deflate-Gate Affair was filled with potholes and it didn’t take a legal scholar to prove that Wells and the league were simply in the midst of a witch-hunt , with the absurdity of the claims without actually have in substantive evidence beyond the allegations and claims.

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Ted Wells for his part, must be embarrassed with the fact his investigation was looked upon with little credibility by US Federal District Court Judge Richard Berman . The judge for his part was disdainful with the lack of cooperation from both parties as Tom Brady sought to have his suspension overturned in US Federal District Court within the Southern District of New York State. With the news emanating that the league’s action was overturned within the legal system , it now leaves Brady to pursue his career as well as the New England Patriots having their starting quarterback ready as they kick off their regular season schedule with their week one game against AFC rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brady and the Patriots will be looking to get off to a winning start to the season as they seek to make a successful defense of their AFC East divisional title. From my own perspective, while New England will remain under the microscope for the entire season, the league itself will and specifically Roger Goodell will continue to be questioned as to his leadership and the direction the NFL is said to be heading in. Goodell, has repeatedly failed with his leadership, lack of communicative skills and the very fact the fans have lost faith in his ability to lead. The team owners will continue to support the beleaguered executive , but I do believe it is now time to jettison the league’s highest ranking executive and for the hierarchy to seek out a successor with the ability to lead while having the best interests of the game at heart. Roger Goodell remains a paradigm and his relationship with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith continues to be an adversarial one on so many levels.

As if the preseason for the Washington Redskins hasn’t been a controversial one with their now being doubts about the future of the team’s 2012 first round draft pick , quarterback Robert Griffin III. Now comes the news that Jessica McCloughan , wife of the Redskins’ general manager Scott McCloughan has suggested that an ESPN reporter Dianna Russini offered sexual favors in order to get a news’ scoop on a story featuring the beleaguered quarterback and his fall from grace within the organization. The general manager’s wife has since apologized for her statement and the fact it went viral through social media (Twitter) , then to be picked up by various news’ organizations around the country. This all suggests for the Redskins this season, will be equally as controversial off the field as it has been on the field with Jay Gruden and his coaching staff yet to find any semblance of consistency much less any real effort from the players to succeed.

The preseason for Robert Griffin III has been one of missed opportunities for the player and injuries once again look as if they are likely to plague his season. Griffin has been less than confident during the preseason and it should come as no surprise Jay Gruden has gone with the decision to make Kirk Cousins his starting quarterback for the Redskins’ regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins at Fedex Field in Landover , Maryland on 13th September , 2015. The Washington Redskins will need to get out to a fast start to their season , because I believe there will be a great deal to fight for within an NFC East division which I believe to be the most puerile in the entire NFL based on last season’s performances from the teams within the division. Aberration or not , the Dallas Cowboys’ overall record was buoyed by the fact its divisional and conference rivals were just mediocre in 2014.

Jay Gruden out of deference to Cousins will hope the player can prove to be far more of a success than his draft class counterpart of 2012 , with both players having some semblance of success for the franchise since being drafted three years ago. Offense will be one of the issues plaguing the Redskins but I also believe their defense will have a role to play if this team is to have any type of real success this upcoming season. Final rosters are not yet set for teams as they enter the regular season, so with their being jobs on the line and roster spots due to be finalized to fifty-three players . It will be interesting to see what steps are likely to be taken by the coaching staff and front office of the Washington Redskins concerning the final list of players likely to make the team.

Gruden will get the opportunity to assess his roster as the Redskins join the league’s thirty-one other teams to close out the preseason with game four of the exhibition schedule of 2015. That contest will be against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Field on Thursday , 3rd September. The proposed starters will likely play several series in this game with those said to be on the cusp of making the final cut being given a final chance to prove their worth. For Robert Griffin, this will likely be the last chance for the player to resurrect his career with the franchise , as I believe he could very well be jettisoned by the franchise , in their last ditch attempt to save face.

Billionaire businessman Terry Pegula having purchased the Buffalo Bills will be seeking to bring back the former glory of this once proud franchise. Granted, the heyday of the Bills were long ago under the guise Marv Levy, with both Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas reigning supreme for the AFC based Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately , the lean years for the franchise have been unending and now with Rex Ryan taking over the reins as head coach along with a revamped coaching and playing staff , leads me to believe to Bills are likely to be in for another bumpy year and ride . Ryan’s last two seasons with the New York Jets were simply awful and there is nothing to suggest, his taking over the Bills will lead to a quick turnaround for the AFC East based franchise.

Listing the issues Rex Ryan had with the Jets during 2013 and 2014 , are easy enough to sum up , his coaching abilities were simply nowhere to be seen and quarterback Geno Smith was simply an eyesore in terms of his of ability and continued ineptitude. A case could be made , the Bills’ head coach will face the same issues he left with the Jets , having now taken over the reins from his predecessor Doug Marrone.

Though I don’t place a great deal of emphasis on what the NFL preseason has to offer . As I believe it simply a way of the league hierarchy and the owners wanting to have their way with the fans, by having them pay for an inferior on-field product during the exhibition season ! Not that the regular season tends to be any better by any stretch of the imagination, but the league and some fans in general as well as the NFL analysts believe it something we ought to salivate over.

Three weeks into the preseason and the Buffalo Bills have posted a 2-1 record , a mark they share jointly with the New England Patriots and New York Jets , as the three teams share the AFC East divisional lead during the preseason. Rex Ryan will take Buffalo Bills on the road to face the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan to close out their preseason schedule. It affords Rex Ryan the opportunity and final chance to assess his roster , as he seeks to cut the figure down to his final spot of fifty-three players for the regular season.

Week one of the regular season will pit the Buffalo Bills against the against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis , Indiana in a game which will likely give us some indication about how the Bills seek to gauge their season against one of the AFC’s best teams over the last three seasons and in particular since Andrew Luck entered the league in 2012. For Rex Ryan the preseason has provided the problematical issue of having to sort through a group of quarterbacks not really deemed to be among the best in the league let alone being average. Having to choose from among E J Manuel and Matt Simms is not something one believe to be envious for an NFL head coach would accede to. Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel are two of the four quarterbacks that Rex Ryan will have to make his ultimate choice from, as to who his starter will be for the regular season. As a passing offense the Bills have been one of the poorest teams in the NFL over the past three seasons and I seriously doubt that scenario is likely to change over the course of this season.

Odell Beckham in his rookie season with the New York Giants may well have had a breakout year, but when it was all said and done , neither he or the Giants can conclude 2014 was a tremendous season for the team. They failed to make the postseason and Eli Manning simply did not live to much less meet perceived expectations sought by fans and the front office . In spite of the idiocy one particular patron and something of an infrequent visitor to this site with his idiotic claims Eli Manning now has the best receiving corps in the NFL . I would like to know where and what this idiot might actually be thinking.

For Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning this might be the last season the two in tandem will be given the chance prove their self-worth. Manning will be hoping to have a successful year in order to fortify himself with a highly lucrative contract . If the rumors are believed to be true , Eli Manning will be seeking to become one the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL by way of annual salary as well as by his presumed contract , likely to be a six-figure , five or six-year deal . Eli Manning is now thirty-four years old and a twelve-year veteran of the NFL and I am not so sure he has it within him to guide Giants to a third Superbowl title during his tenure with the franchise.

Far too many people still remain in awe of the Eli’s two singular moments with the Giants’ triumph over the New England Patriots in Superbowl’s XLVI and XLII , but they tend to overlook his failures of late during the regular season. More so, they have overlooked his lack of leadership ability and willingness to admit to those failures. Signs to my mind, indicating conceit and a willingness to apportion blame elsewhere ! . Something often associated with players who are narcissists . A trait I believe Eli Manning also shares with fellow NFC quarterback Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys in several instances.

With no real challengers to his position as the Giants’ quarterback heading into the regular season , it is clear that Tom Coughlin will have to ride with Eli Manning until he sinks or swims . Many believe it will likely be the latter , but there remains this prevailing belief Peyton Manning’s younger brother is now in the waning years of a very good career , viewed in many areas of his being possibly a borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,. With the Giants closing out their preseason with a contest against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough . Massachusetts,. The team’s regular season opener will certainly provide the fans with something to look forward to and likewise for their opponents the Dallas Cowboys who they will face at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas in week one of the 2015 regular season schedule .

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In light of Judge Richard Berman’s findings, favoring Tom Brady in the US District Court, do you believe an appeal in US Federal Appeals’ Court will overturn the decision or should the NFL simply accept their failure , having not prepared their case with any real veracity and the very fact Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash as the NFL’s Chief Legal Counsel were simply negligent in their zeal to win ? Finally, with the preseason having come to an end , did you find any of the contests to be meaningful on any level ?

Tophatal ………..

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A fool by any other name, is still a fool

A fool by any other name, is still a fool

It seems strange that barely six months ago the nation enjoyed the spectacle of the Superbowl . witnessing history being made as the New England Patriots triumphed in a thrilling game defeating the Seattle Seahawks , with the franchise winning their fourth Superbowl title. Superbowl MVP and quarterback Tom Brady added to his already growing legacy, but it has since been tarnished with the revelations that the player was embroiled in the Deflate-Gate scandal. As to what this now means for Brady, can be best judged by what his detractors and supporters have continue to say concerning the player’s actions. Further exacerbating the matter is the very fact, Roger Goodell believes he can be the sole arbiter in deciding the fate of Tom Brady. The player will likely challenge any punishment meted out by a hearing, by quite possibly seeking a challenge within the Judicial System , though as of now it would appear, that until a hearing date has been set by the league, this whole chapter will become one of sheer conjecture and speculation.

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For the New England Patriots, this NFL franchise might now be the most despised in the NFL if not in the entire world of professional sports , perhaps even more hated than either baseball’s New York Yankees and dare I say it , even the Dallas Cowboys, whose owner Jerry Jones might still be the most disliked owner in all of professional sports ?

During the off-season, Bill Belichick and Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft have not seen fit to make too many public statements concerning the allegations made against the franchise’s most popular player in its history.

Tom Brady’s resume’ speaks for itself , but history is now likely to judge him , not just barely on his Superbowl exploits, but also the allegations now encapsulating this latest chapter in New England Patriots’ history. With two such staggering chapters now on appearance viewed as sordid , I can’t help but wonder why the NFL itself continues to act as if the actions of the Patriots have only ever been committed by one franchise in the league’s history .

Sean Payton and Micky Loomis of the New Orleans Saints were in some respects the architects of Bounty-Gate , another sordid chapter of NFL history where Roger Goodell once again continued to show his incompetency. Another of the accomplices in the scandal Greg Williams now an assistant coach with the St Louis Rams , might well have been made a scapegoat in the whole sordid affair, but in reality , the league itself has continued to act as if it is without reproach and still has a great deal of integrity. The players continue to lack any type of character , much less their willingness to adhere to the league’s own rules concerning its drug or conduct policy.

Having won their fourth Superbowl title in the past fifteen years to go along with seven appearances in the NFL’s showcase event. Four victories and now the infamy of having the Patriots’ name now tarnished. Robert Kraft has continued to try and deflect attention away from the franchise but his greatest problem and advantage might well be Roger Goodell. Kraft was implemental in Goodell succeeding Paul Tagliabue as the current NFL Commissioner. For anyone, who believes the commissioner can be impartial in any type arbitrary procedure involving the NFL has to be viewed as a farce.

Tom Brady for his part, during this whole process will likely spend a great deal of his off-time getting in sync, albeit , we are not yet aware as to form of punishment is likely to be meted out against the player by the league. All signs seem to be pointing to the fact Brady will likely face a suspension of no more than four games , as there seems to be no precedent , where the hierarchy can actually suspend the Patriots’ quarterback for anything more than four games , comparative in nature for a first time offender for transgressing the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Should that be the case, I believe Brady will seek the turnover of the ruling either in Federal District Court or by way of a tribunal overseen by the league, with Brady likely to be represented by a high-profiled lawyer as part of his due process and representation.

New England will be looking to make a successful defense of not only their Superbowl title but also the AFC East division, which they won with a great deal of ease last season. Considered to be their biggest rival this season will be the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills , but there is the belief the New York Jets might be able to mount a serious challenge if Geno Smith can find some semblance of consistency to his all-round game. From my own standpoint, I believe Smith to be the worst quarterbacks drafted in the NFL over the past six years with the exception of Tim Tebow , Johnny Manziel and Brandon Weeden ! So make of it what you will at this juncture.

The personification of what has made the Patriots a constant success over the past twelve years has been franchise’s drafting of players , who over time have proven to be productive as well as perennial Pro Bowl mainstays. Granted, the organization has also profited from the acquisition of established players who have fit the mold of an amenable addition to the franchise. The likes of Wes Welker , Randy Moss and Corey Dillon immediately comes to mind and their success with the Patriots has been well-chronicled over the course of New England’s history in the NFL .

As they say , all good things must come to an end and inquiring minds have to be wondering , how long before Tom Brady decides to hang up his cleats ? Granted, there have been several players down the years on the Patriots’ roster who had the chance to supplant the incumbent quarterback in the starting role and Jimmy Garopolo would appear to be no different. He had his baptism of fire in the league with some mop up duty and during the preseason of the year he was drafted by the Patriots. This is unlikely to be the year where his role will be increased or his becoming the full-time starting quarterback for the team. Yet there is now the growing belief he is the heir-apparent to his mentor , Tom Brady. Quarterbacks’ coach and the team’s offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels certainly believes that to be the case and I believe during the preseason Garopolo will certainly see some playing time.

If Brady’s suspension comes into play at the beginning of the regular season with the appeal’s process not yet underway, then there is every reason to believe Jimmy Garopolo could very well start his first regular season game in the presumed role of an NFL starting quarterback.

Time waits for no man and in the NFL once it is believed you are no longer of use to a team, you’re normally sent packing . So it was for several members of the Patriots’ roster from last season with the departure of long-time defensive stalwart Vince Wilfork . The eleven-year veteran signed a two-year deal with the Houston Texans during the off-season and will likely bring some leadership to roster sorely lacking leadership , even with the presence of JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney , said to be lynch pins on an underachieving secondary. It will be very interesting to see what role Wilfork will play on this Texans’ team and how they will fare over the course of the season.

In week fifteen Vince Wilfork will be provided with the opportunity to reacquaint himself with his former teammates when the Texans play host to the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium , in Houston, Texas. For Bill O’Brien it will also be a re-acquaintance of sorts as he was also once a member of the Patriots’ coaching staff under Bill Belichick .

While I believe the New England Patriots are capable of winning the AFC East with ease. A successful defense of the Lombardi Trophy will prove to be difficult and the chances of winning back-to-back Superbowls is extremely tough , with it having been achieved, becoming something of a rarity . Granted , the last such franchise to do so, were the Patriots, but the feat was accomplished over a decade ago. No one has come close to doing so , until the squandered chances of the Seattle Seahawks were seen last season, along with the heroics of Patriots’ defensive player Malcolm Butler , whose timely interception in the waning moments of the game sealed the Seahawks’ fate and led many of us to ask, what the hell was Pete Carroll thinking ?

I believe this upcoming season, the toughest challenges to be faced by the New England Patriots will not come from either of their schedules , but, it will be predicated upon the amount of complacency shown. Too much , with the disdain for an opponent, can and will lead to their demise. One expects there to be a little arrogance and swagger to be involved , after-all, they are the reigning Superbowl champions and with it comes detail of their being viewed as the target with a very large bulls’ eye on their back . with everyone seeing to take aim and hit the target dead center. How the Patriots intend to deal with it all , could mean the difference between success and failure.

Last season for the New England Patriots, I believe the six best players on the roster in no discerning order were , LeGarrett Blount, Julian Edelman , Rob Gronkowski , Devin McCourty, Chandler Jones and Tom Brady. And granted , it was a collective effort during the regular and postseason that ultimately led to their success along Bill Belichick’s coaching acumen. Yet there can be no denying , whatever the thoughts might be how the franchise achieved its place in history , the roller coaster ride the fans were led on was simply amazing.

One might continue with the allegations of “ cheating “ , but the Patriots are not the only team in the NFL willing to bend the rules for their own means. It is not as if the NFL itself has been built on a solid foundation of honesty and integrity to begin with. One simply has to look at the repeated examples of cheating . dishonesty and utter disdain shown for the fans , not just by the league hierarchy , but also by the owners and the NFLPA (union). So for all of the whining and moronic idiots who take issue with the New England Patriots , have the balls also to point an accusing finger at the entire NFL also , rather than showing yourself to be a complete as#hole time and time again .

Tom Brady still has his legion of fans, but in light of this latest scandal , there has been a groundswell of criticism for the former League MVP and Superbowl winner . His once pristine image is not necessary in tatters , but the chinks in his armor have seen large dents and rust begin to show. Helped on by his innocuous and orchestrated interview with Jim Gray, the player failed to answer any of the allegations against him , simply showing his arrogance and deflecting the whole subject matter of the AFC championship game and the events surrounding it as a non-issue. Is anyone really surprised by that at all ?

Among today’s active quarterbacks Tom Brady’s record is one of the best , regular season and postseason wins, percentage wise in both categories. He may no longer be held with the same esteem as his greatest adversary Peyton Manning , but there the comparisons must now end. Manning still has a glowing reputation , pristine image , loved by fans, consumers and major corporate sponsors alike. Both players have held sway in the NFL for over ten years apiece , each having won the highest awards the game has to offer. Now comes the question , how will history seek to treat the legacies of both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning ? I will leave it for you all to now decide , with the caveat being , controversy and there being a villain to hate , makes for a far more interesting drama and that is what the NFL has now actually become . Less about the competitive spectacle on the field of play , but now more to do with the players’ and hierarchy’s antics off it.


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What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this article ?

🙂

Tophatal …..

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It could well be a contest for the ages , if everything goes to plan

It could well be a contest for the ages , if everything goes to plan

The sporting weekend within the NFL brought us the divisional games within both conferences with the prize at stake being the four berths available in the AFC and NFC championship contests that will take place on Sunday the 19th January , 2014. For quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning their meeting in the AFC contest will be the fifteenth meeting regular season or otherwise , between these two highly regarded and future Hall of Fame players . On each occasion, where the two have met on the field of play, the margin of victory has been fewer than seven points. Which sets up this contest as being one of the more intriguing, with now a Superbowl berth . being at stake?

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Manning will be seeking to his third Superbowl appearance, whereas his opposing number , Tom Brady will be seeking to make his sixth appearance , in the hope of winning a fourth Superbowl victory and ring. Other than Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw , as quarterbacks , have been the only two players to have led the same franchise to respective titles in the Superbowl era.

Throughout much of the 2013 regular season , both the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have proven by far that they were the two best teams within the AFC . Granted, the Kansas City Chiefs could have laid claim to that very fact , had the latter part of their season not span out of control and then to fall by the wayside in their wildcard round loss to the Indianapolis Colts , whom the New England Patriots handily disposed of in their divisional round contest this past Sunday. . If there was said to be a hero in that game between Indianapolis and New England, then by rights, the Patriots’ running back LeGarrette Blount would have to be regarded in that light. A cast off, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , Blount was acquired , primarily as a backup to Stevan Ridley and for short yardage use as and when determined by head coach Bill Belichick . However, in 2013, Blount has proven himself to be not only to be productive and worthy backup for Ridley. Yet, it has now created something of a dilemma for the Patriots’ head coach , as to whether not the running back should now supplant Ridley as the featured back on the team for the postseason . Personally, I believe that things should be left just as they are , with both players being utilized to their best of their abilities as the coach sees fit .

As an avid New England Patriots’ fan, my singular issue all season long has been the inconsistency of the team’s defense and the very fact that Bill Belichick and the coaching staff, have never truly felt comfortable with the makeup of the secondary as a whole . The postseason has done little to dissuade of me of that , even in spite of the ease of the victory over the Indianapolis Colts , as I know that team will be in for a much sterner test when they face the Denver Broncos led by Peyton Manning and that high-octane offense .

While, the most recent meeting between the two teams was an instantaneous classic , with Tom Brady and the Patriots getting the better (34-31) of Manning and his teammates . You somehow, get the feeling that this contest is unlikely to be like their previous meetings , especially with so much now being at stake with regard to this particular game. It would be fair to surmise, that both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have been by far the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL since 1998 , the year Manning was drafted , then to be followed by Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft as a sixth round pick by the New England Patriots . In terms of their longevity and the unprecedented success achieved by both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning , wherein , both are now viewed as the positive and preeminent faces of the NFL .

The NFC championship contest , between the San Francisco 49ers as the guests of the Seattle Seahawks at Q West Field in Seattle, Washington on Sunday afternoon, in what is likely to be a highly competitive game. For the respective teams’ young quarterbacks , Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson , this will be a chance to renew not just a divisional rivalry , but something of budding competition between of the league’s up and coming players in the league at the quarterback position, who entered the NFL less than a year apart .

Seattle’s head coach Pete Carroll and his opposite number Jim Harbaugh this opportunity affords both head coaches the change to gauge the progress of their respective teams over the past three seasons , since each assumed control in their positions. Harbaugh will seek to reverse this season’s regular season away loss to the Seattle Seahawks. . The two teams have evened their divisional meetings in 2013, with both sides coming away with rather convincing victories. .Both the Forty Niners and Seahawks are viewed as well-balanced teams, capable of play making on both sides of the ball . Opposing running backs Frank Gore of San Francisco and Marshawn Lynch of Seattle, are seasoned and wily veterans, who still remain productive at this stage of their respective careers. For Colin Kapernick and Russell Wilson , it will be interesting to see how both of these young quarterbacks acquit themselves in what is likely to be the most important game that either has played at this stage of their young careers. . This contest between these two divisional rivals, could prove to be something big, or simply a one-off , by way of the lack of a truly dominant team within the NFC over the past two seasons. I believe we shall see, as this encounter unfolds on Sunday afternoon whether or not my assumptions come to fruition !

Away from the postseason schedule , fans might not have been completely taken aback by the coaching dismissals that took place within the NFL . Greg Schiano’s firing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with GM Mark Dominik’s contract not being renewed was not that much of a surprise . Schiano, brought absolutely no discipline whatsoever to a team , that was lacking creativity and guile , in spite of idiotic analysis and claims being made by observers . A three-game win streak , was the best, that the Buccaneers achieved all season long . The team’s defense , was an abject failure and a sign what not to strive to achieve, if you happen to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL .

The Buccaneers have yet to find a successor, albeit, that the organization is rumored to be showing an interest in getting re-acquainted with former GM Rich McKay , who now happens to be the team President of the Atlanta Falcons and oversaw the successful attempt by that particular franchise in their obtaining the financing and soon to be finished billion dollar edifice that will house the NFC South based franchise. It may well take a great deal more than reminiscing about old times to lure McKay back to Tampa , after the way he was treated by the Glazer family during the Jon Gruden tenure , in which the former head coach and his sidekick Bruce Allen won a Superbowl , only to then hamstring the Buccaneers financially for the next several years, during which the team’s fortunes, fell with alarming speed . Yet, the moronic fans and the idiot on air personalities, simply lacking the intelligence to realize what the hell was going on or the very fact that during Gruden’s tenure, few players were developed that have become mainstays with the franchise. Idiocy begets idiocy and nowhere, is this more prevalent than with the fans within Central Florida and as it relates to all things concerning the Buccaneers , Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning .

Former Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith has been brought in to resurrect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fortunes and make this franchise competitive enough within the NFC South , where the two dominant teams at present would appear to be the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers , who are likely to become considerably better next season , with the not so stunning maturation process shown by Cam Newton this past season , and where Ron Rivera has brought about a resilience to the franchise not seen in several years. I believe that Smith can be a success, but that will be predicated upon the latitude provided him by what remains a clueless ownership group . Anyone who believes that Joel and Avram Glazer have any idea how to run a professional sports’ franchise, need only to look at their handling of the family’s other sporting interest , the now declining …. fortunes of Manchester United and the fact that the board of directors and that team’s manager David Moyes are besieged by the fans and press alike for the club’s rapidly falling fortunes and the absolute inept hire of Moyes to succeed Alex Ferguson , soccer’s most successful club coach.

The NFL Draft is a little more than two months away and a number of decisions are likely to be made by Lovie Smith and the coaching staff that he will have assembled, as they seek to gauge makeup of the current roster and then judge which players they believe superfluous to the franchise.

For a team coming off a 4-12 season , there was little that anyone could feel pleased about concerning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and yes , that includes the play of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon . Granted, he has to be considered a major upgrade over a failing Josh Freeman , a player with issues both on and off the field , and whose complete lack of maturity was continually on display along with the asinine behavior of his agent Erik Burkhardt , whose claims about his client’s medical condition were leaked to the press in order that the Buccaneers could jettison the player. Burkhardt has been known to make outlandish statements, simply to garner the press’ attention , but when finally pressed to answer who else had information concerning Freeman’s mental health issues , the agent could not give a succinct answer. Begs the question , was Erik Burkhardt seeking sympathy for a player who over the past three seasons has failed to live up to the hype . Freeman was not that great a player at the collegiate level and he certainly showed no real signs of progress once he made it into the NFL .

The future of the Buccaneers may well seem to be bright with Lovie Smith at the helm, as the franchise’s head coach , but as I alluded to earlier , unless the ownership group takes more of an interest in the franchise , and has an experienced front office executive working in conjunction with the head coach. Then, we are likely to see a repeat of the same missteps being made, as witnessed with Bruce Allen and Mark Dominik.

Mike Munchak’s dismissal as head coach of the Tennessee Titans was more out of a rush to judgment by a franchise, that has completely lost its way. The late CEO & owner , Bud Adams remained clueless, and he much like fellow NFL franchise owners , Jerry Jones , Dan Snyder , Mark Davis , Woody Johnson and Steven Ross are individuals who treat those franchise as mere baubles while wanting also display their ostentatious-ness and considerable wealth . I have become sick and tired of hearing idiots such as Chris Mortensen , Adam Schefter , Tm Hasselbeck , Stephen A Smith , Skip Bayless and John Clayton describe these owners as highly intelligent individuals , simply because they made their fortunes elsewhere, outside the realms of the NFL . With as great a business acumen as the individuals mentioned are said to possess , consider the fact that the Titans , Dallas Cowboys , Washington Redskins , Oakland Raiders , New York Jets and Miami Dolphins as franchises, have only three playoff appearances between them over the past six years . A meager return, when one considers the esteem in which a number of those franchises are said to be held.

Munchak’s firing , simply came by way of the lack of success of the team during this past season . Moreover, the loss of quarterback, Jake Locker to an injury , early into the Titans’ season after the player’s great start , simply sent the franchise spiraling downwards , unable to regain that early momentum. With that decline, came the mounting losses , the questionable decision-making during games and the lack of a real competitive fight from the Titans’ players. Yet, the responsibility for the franchise’s woes should not be placed solely on the shoulders of the dismissed head coach, because he was never given any real help by way of a general manager Ruston Webster , whose experience in the position since 2012 , was something of a clear indicator, as to what the fans and franchise should have expected. Fractured decision-making, by way of assessing and the drafting of personnel , never-mind some rather off-kilter acquisitions , simply summed up the franchise. Bud Adams’ relinquishing of his role as the Chief Executive, with his children, Suzie Adams Smith , Amy Adams Hunt and son-in-law Thomas Smith now assuming control , taking the franchise in a new direction. As to the course, now being traveled , that destination has yet to be determined

Ruston Webster hired former Arizona Cardinal’s head coach, Ken Whisenhunt to succeed Mike Munchak. It will be very interesting to see how the new coach proceeds, as he seeks some semblance of success with a team that lacks veteran presence and a real vocal leader on the field of play.

What happens in Vegas they say , usually “stays in Vegas “ . In terms of the Minnesota Vikings’ season. Well, , that is something, that reads like a badly written comedic piece. Suffice to say, with all of the assembled talent , in terms of the roster. The coaching mindset of Leslie Frazier was simply nowhere to be seen, along with this long considered belief that either Christian Ponder or Josh Freeman would be placed to lead this franchise to a divisional title , much less a postseason berth . To top it all, Zygi Wilf, the team’s owner, during the season was found guilty , in a civil suit of defrauding several former business partners of monies due from a commercial real estate deal. Somehow, these problems, are overlooked by the league hierarchy and in particular by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , whose continued idiocy , simply knows no boundaries . Adding insult to injury , was the fact that the commissioner thought nothing of the actions of Cleveland Browns’ owner , Jimmy Haslam in seeking to settle out of court in a monetary payout of several millions, sought to avoid federal prosecution for grand larceny , fraud and theft , all resulting from his company , Pilot J Flying Inc’s business practices, in defrauding clients of monies rightfully due them. Ah , the joy of being a team owner in the NFL , where there is no damn leadership and where Roger Goodell, is more concerned with player misconduct , their sullying of the league’s image , rather than his being worried by the illegal and reckless activities of a number of team owners. Could I have put it any more succinctly than that?

Frazier was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings , having posted a record of 21-32 (.396) in four seasons with the franchise. The vacancy remains unfilled , with GM Rick Spielman , now seeking a suitable replacement for the deposed former head coach. From my own perspective, a team that has the league’s best running back , but fails to utilize him properly , has to pay the price for that type of stupidity . One which, we have seen repeatedly, with this Vikings’ franchise over the past three seasons, and are likely to see in the future, with their atypical approach and lack of what is needed in terms of success within the NFL. Adrian Peterson, may well be racking up the yards , on his way to a Hall of Fame career, but at the end of the day , his enshrinement may well mean a great deal to the player in terms of his accomplishments. In essence , the fans tend to only remember the players who have won a Superbowl , because it is the ultimate sign of team success , rather than just looking at the player’s singular achievements , as a way of assessing their greatness.

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This off-season, will see a great many changes not just amongst the Minnesota Vikings and its staff, but there is likely to be a preponderance of changes around the entire NFL , as the coaching merry-go-round begins , as teams seek fill the voids within their coaching and playing staffs. What thoughts, if any, do you have with regard to this NFL postseason? Also, which of the four remaining participants, do you believe to be the favorite and victorious during this playoff season?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Tom Brady (left) and Peyton Manning (18), seen here , after the duo’s most recent meeting , during which the Patriots’ quarterback prevailed in the encounter , the pair’s fifteenth overall over the course of their respective careers. Manning entered the NFL in 1998 as the number one overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts , with Brady taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft . Tom Brady and Peyton Manning lead the NFL in certain offensive passing categories amongst active quarterbacks now playing in in the NFL . Getty Images North America / Philip Miller ….

(2) 18 Apr 1998: Quarterback Peyton Manning displays an Indianapolis Colts jersey during the 1998 NFL Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. Alongside Manning is NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue . Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport ….

(3) Tom Brady(12) and England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick are seen here on the sidelines during a game. The combination of head coach and player are amongst the most successful in NFL history . Belichick and Brady have combined for five Superbowl appearances and six AFC championship games during their thirteen years together. Brady, this postseason hopes to join a select number of quarterbacks with at least five six Superbowl appearances, while seeking to win his fourth Superbowl ring. Already a two-time Superbowl MVP and NFL MVP . All that now awaits the Patriots’ quarterback upon his retirement, will be the call formally announcing his induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,. AP Photo / Chris Woodson ….

(4) NFC quarterbacks , Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers is seen here with Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks . The two players will meet on Sunday afternoon in the NFC championship game when the Seahawks play host to the 49ers at Q West Field in Seattle , Washington . The winner of the contest will be the NFC representative in the Superbowl , where they will face the winner of the AFC game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots . Getty Images / Mark Fisher ….

(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Chairman Joel Glazer is seen here speaking to Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano . After a 4-12 season the franchise and coach parted ways . Also leaving the Buccaneers, GM Mark Dominik whose contract was not renewed after 5 years as the franchise’s front office executive in charge of player personnel decisions. The team has yet to hire a successor to Dominik , but the hiring of Lovie Smith is seen as a positive step in the right direction. All rights reserved copyrighted material @ Tampa Bay Tribune ….

(6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith is seen here with members of the Glazer family , owners of the NFL franchise. Seen here from left to right are Ed Glazer, Bryan Glazer, Smith and Joel Glazer . Will Vragovic / The Tampa Bay Times ….

(7) Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman is seen here addressing the convened press at Vikings’ headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The franchise fired head coach Leslie Frazier , but have yet to hire a successor to the departed Frazier. There now seems to be a great deal of speculation concerning Spielman’s own future with the team , with several of the partners with the Vikings questioning the general manager’s handling of the franchise this past season and many of the personnel decisions made . AP Photo / Hunter Matthews …..

(8) Cleveland Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam , whose tenure as the team’s Chief Executive has come under a great deal of criticism after it was revealed that Haslam’s company Pilot J Flying Inc and the executive himself , faced charges of grand larceny , theft and fraud . The NFL franchise owner and the Justice Department reached an out of court arrangement but with a fine having been paid by the company . However. several other clients of Pilot J have lodged a civil suit in US Federal Court seeking unspecified damages against the company and its executives . Further embarrassing the NFL as this episode unfurled , were the claims that the monies used in Haslam’s purchase of the Browns were derived from the fraud perpetrated. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s failure , in having the league’s investigators carry out what was said to be an in-depth investigation of Jimmy Haslam’s finances , would have uncovered the ongoing action of the Justice Department at the time the sale of the franchise, actually took place. UPI/ REUTERS/ Keith Thompson …..

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tophatal ………………. 01/14/2014

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

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

By Tophatal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donte` Stallworth, New England Patriots to reunite

By Gregg Rosenthal , NFL.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lauryn Hill ……. “ Lost Ones “

It’s Football The Gift That Keeps On Giving …. Dependent Upon What You Like ……………..

It’s Football The Gift That Keeps On Giving …. Dependent Upon What You Like ……………..

Week three of the NFL season and suffice to say the league is up and running with a number of teams all vying supremacy within their divisions and respective conferences . Already injuries seemed to played a dubious part to the start of the season for a a number of franchises and nowhere has this been more felt than with the Indianapolis Colts and St Louis Rams . The Colts have lost their quarterback Peyton Manning quite possibly for team’s entire season . In the case of the St Louis Rams it has been their losses though less acute but never the less with a team aspiring to take the next step up the ladder to be viewed as a legitimate Superbowl contender .

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The coaching staff and Colts’ front office are no doubt hoping that Manning can make a return at some point in the season but it would appear that the likelihood of that happening won’t happen until perhaps week 12 or 15 at the earliest . And that would be under the premise that the team is in with the chance of making the postseason . Manning’s replacement Kerry Collins having been signed by the organization has struggled to make his presence felt and that of this team playing with its usual aplomb. Having started the season at 0-2 within the AFC South the Colts find themselves rooted at the bottom of the division with the Houston Texans seeking to take advantage of the situation . As to whether or not Gary Kubiak’s team can prove themselves worthy of the gift placed within their midst remains to be seen at this juncture .

As an avid New England Patriots’ fan the team’s match-up against divisional rivals the Buffalo Bills promises to be one of the more riveting game within the NFL . And bear in mind this is a game between two unbeaten teams , one of this franchises will endure their first loss of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has proven to be the leader many felt that he might could not be but herein lies the caveat the Bills seem to be proving that last season was something of an aberation . The Bills’ quarterback and this team has proven to be one of the more pleasant surprises of the schedule so far with their aggressive play.

Chan Gailey may have done enough to secure his job for the present because as we all know the NFL season is a long an arduous one filled with highs and a great many lows . I am sure that the Bills’ coach , his staff and team will witness that as their season begins to unfold .

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are no doubt looking carry on where they left off after the team’s stellar display in their defeat of the Miami Dolphins . The Patriots will be without their one of their more potent offensive weapons with Aaron Hernandez having sustained an injury that will keep him out of this weekend’s game. The tight end just happens to be one of Brady’s favorite weapons in his arsenal of productive artillery and Hernandez has proven to be one of the most productive players at the position within the NFL at present .

It would be remiss to think that the New England Patriots have been solely about offense but the team has come flying out of the gates laying waste to their opponents . And as I alluded to earlier the season is a long one filled with potholes that can simply become an even bigger obstacles for the team who simply are not prepared for the long haul.

With the college football season having kicked off with its auspicious start week four promises the fans something special . For the UCLA Bruins under Rick Neuheisel this happens to be a season where everything might just be on the line for the coach . Certainly if he cannot make this team competitive over the course of their schedule and be viewed as a legitimate contender for the PAC 12 title then we may well see the beleaguered coach given his marching orders. Granted , the boasting and bragging by Neuheisel that there is just more than one collegiate team within the city of Los Angeles means nothing when you can’t dethrone that rival when called upon to do so. And that has clearly been the case for Rick Neuheisel’s team over the last few years . The playing field may well now have been leveled with the sanctions levied against the USC Trojans . But you may well be hard pressed to think that will be enough to derail Lane Kiffin’s team as they seek to show the world that in spite of the NCAA probation and punishment meted out this is a program the coach , his coaching staff and AD Pat Haden would like to see continue in a similar vein on the field of play.

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UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, right, talks into his headset during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Texas won 49-20. (AP Photo/Bret Hartman)

Neuheisel’s career has been well chronicled and it goes without saying that controversy has followed the coach much of it of his own making . And when that comes into being then so does that coach’s integrity. Let us just say that Rick Neuheisel has been such a man albeit that he has tried to shed that persona in order to prove he is still a capable coach . I have never followed Bruins’ football with any great interest as it has been the mens’ basketball program that has brought about the success of this establishment under the achievements of John Wooden . His feats and that of the players under his tutelage are part of collegiate basketball folklore with multiple national championships and that now heralded consecutive win streak now surpassed by Geno Auriemma’s Lady U Conn Huskies .

UCLA for their part at 1-2 are not looking to good in being thought of as a contender within the PAC 12 and this weekend presents a tough task as they face Oregon State in Corvallis , Oregon in what’s surely to be viewed as a “must win” game for the Bruins . Rick Neuheisel and his coaching assistants know that they must have this team well prepared if they are to have any hope of winning . Oregon State are unlikely to treat this game lightly, as they have something to prove ins showing that they are worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as their instate rivals Oregon ( Ducks) . Whether or not the Beavers can be viewed as worthy challengers to the Ducks remains to be seen . Mike Riley is sure the have his team ready to face the challenge of whatever is thrown their way courtesy of the UCLA Bruins .

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Joseph Fauria (8) of the UCLA Bruins fumbles the ball as he is hit by Adrian Phillips (17) and Jordan Hicks (3) of the Texas Longhorns during the fourth quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….

In suffering a humiliating 49-20 loss to the Texas Longhorns in Pasadena , California you could clearly see the many flaws on this Bruins’ team. It will be incumbent upon players such as Richard Brehaut , Johnathan Franklin , Derrick Coleman , Joseph Fauria , Sheldon Price , Tony Dye and the rest of this roster to prove their mettle against Oregon State in Corvallis this Saturday. As these players are looked upon as the likely leaders on this Bruins’ team. If they can acquit themselves by showing the leadership skills and maturity sought then this game is likely to be a close one , however , if that’s not the case then look for Oregon State to steamroll their way to a decisive victory .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

At this point of both seasons within College Football and the NFL the teams have their aspirations as to how they would like to see their year culminate . For the fans it is no different , as they throw their support behind the respective programs at the D1 Level and that of the franchises within the professional ranks . As an avowed fan of both disciplines I am merely hoping that the entertainment proffered up is exhilarating to say the very least . Anything beyond that would be viewed as an added bonus but who can say how things are likely to turn out ? Within the FBS and NFL , what if anything are you most looking forward to in terms of the match ups on offer ? Simply leave a comment on your thoughts on the salients points of this article and anything else you feel is of relevance . Thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

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

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Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) This Sept. 18, 2011 file photo shows Indianapolis Colts quarterback Kerry Collins making a call over center Jeff Saturday in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, in Indianapolis. Without Peyton Manning spending 30 seconds pointing and shouting at the line of scrimmage before each play, the Steelers say they should have plenty of time on their hands. AP Photo/Michael Conroy …..

(2) INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 18: Kerry Collins (5) of the Indianapolis Colts is sacked by Ahtyba Rubin (71) of the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images ………

(3) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots looks for an open man against the San Diego Chargers in the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……..

(4) FOXBORO, MA – SEPTEMBER 18: Julian Edelman (11) of the New England Patriots gains yardage during a game with the San Diego Chargers at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(5) Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) of the Buffalo Bills throws a pass to Scott Chandler (84) against the Oakland Raiders at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 38-35 . Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images …….

(6) D.J. Grant (18) of the Texas Longhorns makes a catch and run in front of Tony Dye (6) and Sean Westgate ( 11) of the UCLA Bruins during the second quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….

(7) Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho (18) attempts to block a pass by UCLA quarterback Richard Brehaut (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Texas won 49-20 . AP Photo/Bret Hartman …….

(8) UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, right, talks into his headset during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Texas won 49-20. AP Photo/Bret Hartman …..

(9) Derrick Coleman (33) of the UCLA Bruins scores a touchdwon to trail 35-20 to the Texas Longhorns during the third quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Texas won 49-20. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images ……

(10) Joseph Fauria (8) of the UCLA Bruins fumbles the ball as he is hit by Adrian Phillips (17) and Jordan Hicks (3) of the Texas Longhorns during the fourth quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …….
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The Silly Season Has Begun ………. What Else Is There Left To Say ?

The Silly Season Has Begun ………. What Else Is There Left To Say ?

Well with the NFL lockout having ended all that was now left is to witness the mayhem as teams summarily jettisoned players superfluous to their needs. One has to wonder whether or not this was the madness envisaged by the fans , team owners , league hierarchy and the general managers ? The $120 million salary cap has somehow got teams envisioning themselves as Imelda Marcos on a shopping spree looking to fill their shoe closet . How much does a pair of Bruno Magli cost nowadays ? And if so did OJ Simpson auction off his infamous pair on E-bay ?

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Slide show for your perusal .

Somehow with all of these cuts made and then with players being acquired by new teams there had to be one or two surprises that would leave the fans in shock . As a New England Patriots’ fan I was completely taken aback with the moves made by Bill Belichick and the front office staff in acquiring both Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco . I can only surmise that Robert Kraft , GM Nick Caserio and senior consultant Floyd Reese had to have given this all their blessing ! Unless hell had frozen over in the forty eight hours since the lockout ended this to me was something that not even I had seen coming . Anyone who has witnessed the play of Haynesworth during his tenure with the Washington Redskins will know that like a clock that has stopped chiming he will only be right twice during the day . That has essentially summed up the player’s ability and commitment to being a team player . As for Ochocinco, he like Haynesworth must be viewed as another reclamation project by the coach and his assistants .

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FOXBOROUGH, MA – JULY 29: Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots chats with teammate Aaron Hernandez (85), who wears the number that new teammate Chad Ochocinco wore as a Cincinnati Bengal, during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …

For the life of me I’m beginning to wonder whether or not Bill Belichick really believes that he can turn around the career of any player who just happens to be considered on the downside of their career . First came Randy Moss who would then chose to basically talk his way off the roster in midseason like any other self serving individual . And if that wasn’t enough we then had Adalius Thomas thinking that he could simply act the fool by simply not being part of a team . If there’s one thing that’s made clear when it comes to the Patriots , the egos are simply left at the door as it’s business as usual with a view to acting like a professional. Granted , Bill Belichick belies that at times with something of a rather conceited attitude but with him , it is what it is !

Last season was something of a tremendous disappointment from my own standpoint seeing this team fall flat on its face when it mattered most during the postseason in their loss to the New York Jets . It is at times like this when I wonder whether or not if this team has become completely complacent or is it more down to the lackadaisical approach of Bill Belichick and his coaching staff ? This season however with the acquisitions made and that of the draft picks added to bolster the existing roster has me now believing that the New England Patriots’ window of opportunity is slowly closing but now more than ever before they will have to acquit themselves rather than thinking that they can merely stroll their way into the postseason.

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Tom Brady (12) and Chad Ochocinco of the New England Patriots chat during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

If the Patriots are to be successful this upcoming season and make inroads not just within the AFC East but across the league as a whole , then the likes of Wes Welker , Deion Branch , Aaron Hernandez , ;Danny Woodhead , Rob Gronkowski , Devin McCourty , and others will have to step up to the plate and be held accountable . The signing of both Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco would suggest that Bill Belichick believes that the duo are indeed the pieces needed to make this team much more formidable but from my own standpoint this is such a gamble that if things don’t work out , then given the mindset of Haynesworth and Ochocinico , that when things simply are not going their way they are both inclined to be truculent and to act infantile . But this all can be allayed if Tom Brady and the senior members of the Patriots make it clear that nothing short of their best efforts on the field will be accepted . If that situation can be broached then there’s no reason to believe why they can’t be successful . But as of now that has to be viewed as a big “if “ given the egos of the two players in question !

Consistency has never been the real issue with the New England Patriots , if anything it has been those momentary lapses at the most inopportune of times that has ultimately led to their demise . Repeatedly we have seen this happen when the team has a game within its grasp only to see them let it slip away. Now comes the hard part for the organization and that’s to prove that as perennial contenders they are justified as being viewed __ as just that !

The AFC is as strong as ever with the teams we have come to expect who will be vying for dominance within the conference. With franchises such as the Baltimore Ravens , Indianapolis Colts , New York Jets and San Diego Chargers looking to vie for the honor of being the AFC’s representative for the Superbowl it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires as the season unfolds.

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Nate Solder the Patriots’ number one overall pick seen here during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indianapolis Colts’ facility in Indianapolis , Indiana . AP Photo/ Ryan Walters ……..

This season is now fraught with danger in so many ways as I do believe that a number of teams could very well stumble out of the gate . Much has been made of the fact that during the offseason the players were unable to practice at their training facilities under the auspices of their respective coaches . And I am sure that with newly installed members Pat Shurmur , John Fox , Jim Harbaugh and Ron Rivera all looking to acquit themselves well with their respective new teams as this season has the makings of one being literally full of surprises in more ways than one !

Curiously enough given the fact the New England Patriots seem to be prudent in their draft assessment and the choices they make . I for one will be looking forward to see what possible contributions can be made by the rookies on the team . Ryan Mallett is no doubt being groomed as the possible successor to Tom Brady down the line and the team’s number one overall pick (17th in the first round). Defensive lineman Nate Solder along with DB Ras I Dowling have to be viewed as the players who are likely to make an immediate impact should they be given the chance to perform. But it’s still early days yet and one simply cannot take it as written in stone that these players will matriculate into something special . We have seen along the way that with highly prized college talent many of them simply have fallen by the wayside failing to fulfill the expectations first thought . Simply look no further than the likes of Vince Young and Matt Leinart for the answer as to the high praise heaped upon two players that failed to live up to the perceived hype !

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Picture gallery for your perusal . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size.

In this off-season what moves as such have simply comes as either a momentous shock or surprise to you ? And how if anything do you feel that the players in question will fare this upcoming season ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support .

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

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick smiles at a news conference during NFL football training camp in Foxborough , Mass., Friday, July 29, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(2) FOXBOROUGH, MA – JULY 29: Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots chats with teammate Aaron Hernandez (85), who wears the number that new teammate Chad Ochocinco wore as a Cincinnati Bengal, during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images …

(3) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots participates in training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(4) Tom Brady (12) and Chad Ochocinco of the New England Patriots chat during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(5) Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (92 ) of the Washington Redskins stands on the sidelines during preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 2, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 20-10 . The player was obtained in a trade by the New England Patriots this offseason after the NFL lockout had ended . Getty Images / Christian Petersen ……

(6) FOXBOROUGH, MA – JULY 29: Quarterbacks Jonathan Crompton (7) and Ryan Mallett (15) of the New England Patriots participate in training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ……

(7) Nate Solder the Patriots’ number one overall pick seen here during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indianapolis Colts’ facility in Indianapolis , Indiana . AP Photo/ Ryan Walters ……..

(8) San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh shakes hands with a well-wisher during an NFL football press conference in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, July 25, 2011. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez ….

(9) Cleveland Browns’ President & Head of Football Operations Mike Holmgren is seen here as the formal introductions are made of Pat Shurmur as the new head coach of the team . AP Photo/ Matthew Jennings …..
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