The Learning Curve ….

By Tophatal

There seems to be a disconnect in the world of sports at present with so many stories now ongoing. The NFL provided fans with its usual litany of events which have blotted the horizon. Off the field, the saga of Adrian Peterson has taken center-stage.The league hierarchy has seen fit to pursue the Minnesota Vikings’ running back and his refusal to meet with the league to discuss their ongoing issues as to what they believe fitting a punishment. Adrian Peterson plead his case within the legal system in the state of Texas, where Peterson and the District Attorney’s Office agreed to a plea deal. The running back has already sat out nine of the Vikings’ ten games this season , leading to their miserable standing within the NFC Northand conference.

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Coming off a road loss to the Chicago Bears,dropped the Minnesota Vikings to a 4-6 recordwithin their division, with little to suggest Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff have any idea how to take theteam out of their present rut. The league’s handling of the Peterson saga has left many wondering how Roger Goodell’s inconsistency in dealing with player misconduct can be so incomprehensible. This whole saga along with the Ray Rice episode casts a dark image over the NFL and the league’s continuous misguidance and the statements now coming from their head office. Rice is in the midst of an arbitration hearing where he seeks his reinstatement back into the league may well be the last straw for the commissioner, as he seeks to resurrect his own standing among the fans. Goodell is still backed by the team owners, but one more misstep by the commissioner could lead to calls for his ouster by at least one senior franchise owner , if they feel the NFL’s image has been dragged further into the dust.

The Vikings’ fate now lies in their own hands with their being no sign of an imminent return of their Pro Bowl running back , well at least not by week twelve of the NFL season. In their upcoming game the Minnesota Vikings will play host to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has been on a blistering pace this season as he and his teammates seek to sow up the NFC North with a number of the leading competitors suddenly falling by the wayside. Green Bay for its part , took care of the Philadelphia Eagles with a robust 53-20 victory , inflicting the Eagles with their biggest loss of the season. Somehow , I get the feeling Chip Kelly and his team have yet to learn the meaning of the word defense , let alone playing conservative football. The “gung-ho” attitude seems to be prevalent with the Eagles.

Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles will certainly get their chance to hop back into the saddle when they face a disappointing Tennessee Titans’ team in week twelve of a home game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 23rd November, 2014,. With Nick Foles currently sidelined due to injury Mark Sanchez will continue in the role as the team’s starting quarterback.

The Oakland Raiders’ (0-10) season continues to no avail with the team on a ten-game losing streak, showing no signs of life as the season has progressed. Raiders’ head coach Tony Sparano could very well in the throes of his last gasp of coaching the franchise, with team owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie likely to make the decision to fire their head coach at the end of the season. The futility shown by the team has been comparable to the Detroit Lions’ season of 2008 when during their sixteen-game schedule, the Lions failed to win a game.If there is fault to be apportioned , concerning the ineptitude of the Raiders , then it rests squarely on the shoulders of both Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis , as they have repeatedly squandered the opportunities offered to make this franchise competitive. It is hard to believe the last time the Oakland Raiders won a divisional title , the AFC West or made the postseason came in 2002, the year in which they also won the AFC championship , only to then lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superbowl. In the aftermath of the postseason appearance, things have steadily gone downhill for the franchise, with their fans simply reliving the past of a bygone era of the Raiders.

It is difficult to suggest there are any bright spots to be found on this current Raiders’ roster. Quarterback Derek Carr has struggled to maintain a presence for the team. Defensively , the Oakland Raiders find themselves in a familiar position and with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver struggling to get this secondary going it has become abundantly clear to understand the many reasons why the Raiders have been so inept, without also pointing an accusing finger at Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Greg Olson .

Darren McFadden , Maurice Jones-Drew, Andre Holmes , Denarius Moore , Sio Moore , Khalil Mack and the veteran Charles Woodson have floundered for the Raiders over the course of this season. When the Raiders play host to the Kansas City Chiefs at the O.Coliseum in a Thursday night game , there will be a great deal riding on the contest. Oakland will be seeking to gain their first win of the season, while Andy Reid and the Chiefs will be looking to get a leg up on the Denver Broncos , as these two teams fight it out for divisional supremacy within the AFC West. I would dare say, the San Diego Chargers (6-4) have no wish to be left out of the equation, as they remain a game behind both the Broncos and Chiefs for the divisional lead.

The Arizona Cardinals (9-1) keep on winning even with the sidelined Carson Palmer not being able to contribute a great deal to the team’s success this season. Head coach Bruce Arians, I believe is a justified front-runner to win the NFL Coach of the Year Award , but a great deal may well be predicated upon whether or not he can lead this team to their first divisional title(NFC West) since 2009 . You can either make the assumption the Cardinals are doing it all with “smoking mirrors” or state the San Francisco 49ers (6-4) and Seattle Seahawks(6-4) have been very inconsistent. The fact of the matter remains neither 49ers or the Seahawks have been able to match the consistency of the divisional rival , all season long.

Inasmuch, as the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks were dominant last season within the NFC West and the NFC as a whole, this season , both teams have played “second fiddle ” to the upstart Cardinals, who are a mere two gamesaway from clinching themselves a postseason berth within the conference. Peter Carroll and Jim Harbaugh can only hope Arizona slips up over the remainder of their schedule , allowing either of their teams an entrance into the postseason. Arizona will hope to inch closer to that goal when they play the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field on Sunday afternoon in one of the best games scheduled during week twelve of this season.

Nothing in life is ever deemed to be fair, unless you happen to be privileged, by way of social status and wealth. The same might be said of the NFL seedings as the postseason beckons. Unfortunately, the league hierarchy under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has never seen fit to revamp the system in order to allow teams with a better record than a divisional winner to be given a higher seeding. Looking at the prospect likely to unfold within the NFC South and we could very well see a team with a sub .500 record make their way into the postseason and at the same time deny another franchise a higher ranking (seeding) a berth. Granted, the wildcard entrants allows the the next four teams below the top two seeds within a conference , their chance of advancing further . I cannot help but wonder, how a number of these teams are likely to feel, should a 7-9 or 8-8 team from within the NFC South make it to the playoffs ! To say the the quality of football seen within the division where the Atlanta Falcons (4-6), Carolina Panthers (3-7), New Orleans Saints(4-6) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) reside gives credence to the fact the NFL is urgently in need of a dearth of talent as well as several really good head coaches would be an understatement. All four teams do not possess a winning record and for head coaches, Mike Smith , Ron Rivera , Sean Payton and Lovie Smith , this might be the worst season of their collective careers as a head coaches within the NFL .

The Buccaneers coming off their second win on the season , defeating the lowly Washington Redskins embodied the sheer ineptitude seen all season long within the NFC South. Perhaps, the lone bright spot on the Buccaneers’ season has been the play of their rookie wide receiverMike Evans who provided a scintillating display of speed and maturity beyond his years. How the Buccaneers go about resurrecting their season will be determined by the mindset instilled into the team by head coach Lovie Smith.

Smith will take the Buccaneers on the road to Soldier Field in Chicago , Illinois to face his former team the Chicago Bears whose season now seems to be spiraling out of control , with quarterback Jay Cutler being harangued from all quarters for his lack of leadership and dire performances this season. Marc Trestman might now be emerging as one of the leading candidates among the coaches whose heads are likely to be on the ” chopping block”. Trestman and GM Phil Emery could very well be on the outs once this season is over. Lovie Smith was fired in his last season with the Bears , having narrowly missed the postseason in 2012. A winning record (10-6) that year seemed to be lost on the Bears’ front office and the admirable effort made by Lovie Smith and his coaching staff that season. All signs now seem to be point to the fact the Chicago Bears may well seek to trade Jay Cutler rather than retain his services . His tenure with the Bears has seen more lows than highs and it must be said his contract with the team has not proven to be a prudent investment.

There is no denying Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Synder has continued swinging for the fences , making audacious moves either via free agency or through the NFL Draft. Having acquired both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins in the now heralded quarterback class of 2012. Things now seem to have taken a turn for the worst with neither Griffin or Cousins being able to perform adequately for the team this season. Injuries asides, with both quarterbacks having been sidelined at some point during their schedule. Jay Gruden’s faith in third string quarterback Colt McCoy was short-lived in spite of the player leading the Redskins to two of their three victories on the season. Neither side of the Washington Redskins’ offense seems to be clicking . On the wrong side of a lopsided defeat suffered at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has embodied the Redskins’ season and justifiably shows why they remain at the bottom of the NFC East.

Washington will head West to face the San Francisco 49ers and Colin Kaepernick, as the host team looks to keep abreast with the Seattle Seahaws while still trailing the Arizona Cardinals by three games within the NFC West. This particular division was orginally viewed as a two-horse race between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks but this season along come the Cardinals to upset the applecart and turn everyone’s world upside down . There is a reality beginning to set in, either the Seahawks or Forty Niners could quite possibly miss the postseason if things continue as they are. In a recent discussion with an acquaintance , he made the statement that he felt San Francisco were still capable of notching double-digit wins and still make the postseason . Given the inconsistency shown by the team , their possible failure in missing the NFL’s end of season showcase spectacle, could come back to to haunt Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seawhawks are the defending Superbowl champions and their quest to make a successful defense of their title doesn’t yet appear to be in jeopardy , but there has to be a cause for concern for a team which has been sporadic with their performances over the course of the season. Russell Wilson has continued with his progress and now seems to be on his way to joining the elite players at the position within the NFL . Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington will be the ” place to be” as the red hot ticket game of the day on Sunday when the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals and it will be interesting to see how opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Drew Stanton will fare in this highly anticipated contest with their being so much at stake for both teams.

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Picture gallery.

With the NFL season almost three-quarters of the way through its schedule, what do you feel has been the most disappointing event to have taken place during the year ? Also , which teams are likely to make a spirited push to gain a postseason berth as the schedule now becomes more suspenseful for the fans and the franchises with so much at stake ? It has been a learning experience not only for the rookie head coaches in the NFL this season but also for the rookies and sophomore players seeking to make their presence felt in the league. Simply chime in with your comments on this and anything else you believe relevant to this article and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it has always been appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.
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(1) Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson pictured here , has been reportedly suspended without pay for the rest of the season as the league hierarchy continues with their own investigation and possible further disciplinary action against the player for conduct detrimental to the league. Peterson reached a plea agreement with the State Attorney’s Office in Texas, after his being charged with child abuse . It was not the first time the player had been investigated for such an action. However, this latest incident was the first , in which law enforcement and Texas Dept of Child Welfare saw fit to file charges against Peterson . The league’s handling of this matter has come in for a great deal of criticism , with much of it being leveled at Commissioner Roger Goodell . Getty Images / Hugh Parker …

(2) Matt Forte (22) of the Chicago Bears runs past Sharrif Floyd (73) of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter on November 16, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Bears defeated the Minnesota Vikings 21-13. Getty Images/ David Banks …

(3) Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears tries to score on a run but is stopped by Xavier Rhodes (29) of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter on November 16, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Speculation has began mounting the Bears will seek to trade the quarterback after a troubled season with the franchise. GM Phil Emery has not issued a public statement on the matter but there appears to be mounting speculation a trade is likely . Cutler is still owed $16.5 million of his original $126.7 million deal signed in 2012 of which $54 million was guaranteed . Getty Images /David Banks …

(4) In the foreground Oakland Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano and the team’s GM Reggie McKenzie . The Raiders are off to a dismal start this season , having gone win-less and they are now 0-10 , still seeking their first victory of the season . McKenzie and team owner , Mark Davis recently traveled to San Antonio to visit with local politicians , with a view to gauging their interest in having the franchise relocate to the city . No details were imparted by the franchise and the NFL have not made their thoughts known on the issue , where league approval would be sought before such a move could take place. AP Photo/ Philip Davis …

(5) Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Drew Stanton (5) attempts a pass during a game against the St Louis Rams . With Carson Palmer still sidelined, Stanton has been inserted into the lineup stepping up from his backup role on the roster . The Cardinals have the best record (9-1) in the NFC and the league overall. Arizona seeks to upset the apple cart by dethroning the Seattle Seahawks the NFC West champions for this season . AP Photo / Matthew Osgood ….

(6) Washington Redskins’ quarterbacks Robert Griffin III(10) , Kirk Cousins (8) and Colt McCoy (16) . McCoy has accounted for two of the team’s three wins this season, but for some apparent reason Jay Gruden does not appear to have any implicit faith in the third-string quarterback . This off-season there is likely to be a major upheaval of the playing roster with a number of players being traded or simply waived . GM Bruce Allen and Gruden will be left to make the decisions but there is likely to be a great deal of input from team owner , Dan Snyder . Getty Images / Matthew Robbins .. .

(7) A.J. Green (18) of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass as Rafael Bush (25) of the New Orleans Saints defends during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cincinnati defeated the Saints 27-10 in the contest . Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …

(8) Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints calls an audible during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox

(9) Wide receiver Mike Evans (13) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by corner-back Bashaud Breeland (26) of the Washington Redskins late in the third quarter at FedExField on November 16, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. The Buccaneers beat the Redskins 27-7 in a lopsided game . Getty Images / Patrick McDermott ….

(10) Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers meets his opposite number Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks center-field after a game between the two teams. This season both the Forty-Niners and Seahawks are having to play catch-up to the Arizona Cardinals who lead the NFC West by a three-game margin heading into week twelve of the NFL season. AP Photo / Mark Harris

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tophatal … 11/17/2014

Tophatal’s Blog on Facebook.com

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Where’s the soap ?

The 0-10 Raiders have been the butt of so many jokes this season , but here’s a butt and two boobs , I for one am not laughing at ! Round and juicy , and pleasing to the eye.

I Got The Memo But I Think That There’s Been A Misprint !

I Got The Memo But I Think That There’s Been A Misprint !

Well week four is finally over and the NFL teams and their respective staffs have to deliberate which players will be cut in order for the rosters to have the league mandated 53 members per franchise. As this process takes place at the same time a number of players have been richly rewarded by their respective ball-clubs. Michael Vick has now become the latest member join the tier of those in the $100 million contract fraternity . Few players within the NFL are as athletic as the quarterback or as electrifying, and it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office feels justified in rewarding the player so handsomely , albeit that $40 million is said to be guaranteed money. That simply won’t matter because the residual effect will be for Vick and his agent to negotiate what’s hoped will be several multi-year multi million dollar endorsement contracts that will leave the Eagles’ player set for life .

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Slide show for your perusal .

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Perhaps I was simply mistaken but the team owners of the NFL simply pled poverty as to their financial plight during the alleged labor stoppage that lasted some 145 days . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , chief legal counsel Jeff Pash and the hierarchy’s chief labor negotiator Adolphus Birch all led the way in the league’s negotiations with the NFLPA and its executive committee . The union’s Executive Director DeMaurice Smith stood firm but only acquiesced after the league gave up several concessions but perhaps the one concession that the fans did not expect was the very fact that during the regular season the league will be allowed to test the players for HGH ( human growth horomone) during regular season . Invasion privacy or not , the union knew that it had to fall into line and not be seen as the sport where their muscle bound specimens might misjudged for all of the wrong reasons . Granted , Major League Baseball still seems to be in denial as it relates to this issue and the fact that the MLBPA (union) has the game’s hierarchy cowering in a corner like a cat with its tail on fire . But in reality the less said about this topic within the realms of the sport it’s simply better abruptly end discussing the matter as neither the league or its players would clearly want to broach this topic.

If there was one thing that was clear Michael Vick simply proved himself last season for the Eagles and the team was simply better for it during the regular season . Now even with the additions made to the roster by way of the draft and off-season moves the Philadelphia Eagles may well be seen as the presumptive favorites within the NFC to make it to the Superbowl . That may well change over the course of the season for Andy Reid and his coaching staff as the team will almost certainly go through its version of highs and lows .

The next quarterback presumed to be joining the ranks of the $100 million club could very well be the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees . No one can deny that Brees at his very best should not be mentioned in the same breath as Peyton Manning , Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers . All Superbowl winning quarterbacks , Superbowl MVP’s and at some after the end of their careers , all may well headed on their way to the Hall of Fame in Canton , Ohio. .

Brees and the Saints’ owner Tom Benson are fully aware as to what each party means to the other. The player is seen as the face of the franchise and the quarterback is beloved by the fans in the Crescent City and that feeling is reciprocated by the player. Sean Payton knows that this will be a testing schedule for his players and that if they are to prevail in what is clearly a very competitive NFC South division , we could very well be in for some very entertaining football from all of the residents there.

Calmer heads prevailed , as Tennessee Titans’ running back Chris Johnson got what he wanted , which was an extended contract . Either Bud Adams is that much of an idiot by initially insisting that the player would have to honor his existing contract or he was of the opinion that Johnson would not somehow not make idile of his threat to sit out the entire Titans’ regular season schedule . It is clear that this was the resolution that all parties had hoped for Chris Johnson being handsomely rewarded with a four year contract extenstion worth $53 million of which $30 million is guaranteed . The NFL players’ salaries become all the more baffling as the players and their agents simply are laughing all the way to the bank. I am not so at this juncture it’s still plausible for the team owners or general managers or for that matter Roger Goodell to continue with their original stance ! Nothing says ……… we’re so full of it than to continue to plead poverty while teams are said to be ignorant of that first relayed facade.

With Chris Johnson having received his contract extension now comes the thought that Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson will seek an increase in salary . And as productive as he has been over the past five seasons for the Vikings who can fault the player with whatever demands he may well seek . Certainly the Minnesota Vikings’ front office led by team owner Zygi Wilf may well feel that for all of the pandering and statements forthcoming from the league office , nothing at all has actually changed prior to NFL lockout . The negotiations that took place may well have led to a rookie salary cap and other concessions from both parties but when you get right down to it , we’re back to square one _____ the players chasing after the almighty buck with the league hierarchy still decrying their current fate and looking to apportion blame elsewhere.

With Donovan McNabb newly acquired by the Vikings along with their draft picks it remains to be seen how this team will fare over the course of the upcoming season . In the aftermath of the Brett Favre era with the organization it has to be said has to got to prove that they are capable of being thought of a legitimate contender within the NFC North and the conference as a whole . The preseason for the Vikings has not given us much to go on but it appears that McNabb seems to finding a rhythm with his offense .
Head coach Leslie Frazier and the coaching staff know that the expectations will continue to be high and this season no less will be seen as a determining factor as to how this team will fare .

So next season the Florida Marlins will move into their new ballpark in downtown Miami the site of the old Old Orange Bowl . The team seated at the bottom of the NL East are barely averaging 18,000 fans per home at Land Shark /Sun Life Stadium also home to the Miami Dolphins . Team owner Jeffrey Loria and the entire front office sold the city of Miami a can of goods in leading the city commission to believe that a new purpose venue , capacity of approximately 40,000 would be to the organization’s benefit. The only thing of benefit that is pertinent here is to know that Jeffrey Loria has not had to dip into his multi million dollar fortune in facilitating the building of this new stadium but you’d be hard pressed to believe that when you here the owner gushing about the stadium and what has been the very fact Loria has been less than truthful in his dealings with the city of Miami and other governmental agencies .

The cost of the facility is upwards of $450 million and much of that will be at the taxpayers’ expense though you’d be hard pressed to believe otherwise when the Loria , team President David Sansom and general manager Michael Hill are trying to convince the public otherwise. The team owner like many of his peers within the game seem to be of the opinion that the public’s coffers are there for their expense. And it certainly hasn’t helped that the MLB hierarchy has lobbyists working on their behalf not only at the state level but also at the federal level . This is one of the underbelly’s within the game that even Bud Selig would not care to discuss , along with the league’s stance on the financial solvency of its ball clubs .

While baseball is a multi billion dollar enterprise of which the teams at the top rungs of the financial ladder are immensely profitable , the minnows at the foot of that apparatus are barely able to get by. The Florida Marlins having pared down team salary but it has been Loria’s blatant use of the press to forge ahead with his belief the ball club needs a new stadium while the team owner seeks to benefit from the public’s largesse. Miami city mayor Tomas P. Regalado even with his demeanor and the love of the limelight has seen fit to praise the Marlins during the negotiating process in developing and building the of the new venue. If this franchise can barely fill their present facility, it stands to reason it will be the curiosity value that first brings the fans out but after a while that novelty will surely wear off ! A bad economic climate or not baseball within the state of Florida has always been a hard sell , especially given the attendance woes of the Tampa Bay Rays .

Tropicana Field home to the AL team has struggled even with the advent of the team’s success in recent years , albeit in the first decade years of their existence , this organization was one of abject futility . Team owner Stuart Sternberg along with his partners are vying for state and local governments’ attention in bringing about their own wish for an all purpose venue to be built in either Hillsborough or Pinellas County , in central Florida. And once again the burden in terms of the cost will be placed firmly on the shoulders of the public , the governmental agencies in question will in large part have to finance the building of that facility. Be it through a bond issue at some point there always tend to be , some indirect cost that is added to the public’s expense in terms of the services that they are asked to pay either for their municipal services or increased state services.

It would be remiss to suggest that baseball and football are the only major sports where the fans are asked to bear the burden of up-keeping a sport’s venue but would it be too much to ask if the franchise owners would for once step up to the plate say……” I’m here to do the right thing “ ? Somehow , I seriously doubt that is liable to happen as the franchise owners seeks to keep as much money in their pockets , rather than give the impression that they are able to for once able to fend for themselves without preying on the fans ! Is that too much to ask ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as to your opinion and anything else you believe to be pertinent as it relates to the subject matter .

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

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Picture and slide show details .

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(1) OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 28: Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the Oakland Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images …..

(2) Head coach of the New Orleans Saints Sean Payton (L) acknowledges the crowd as he and owner Tom Benson (R) wait for the beginning of a reception for the 2010 National Football League Super Bowl champions in the East Room of the White House August 9, 2010 in Washington, DC. The New Orleans Saints, lead by head coach Sean Payton, finished the 2009-2010 season with a winning record of 13-3 and defeated the Indianapolis Colts to take the championship . Getty Images/ Chris Rodgers ……

(3) FILE – In this file photo taken Sept. 20, 2009, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson runs for a 57-yard touchdown against the Houston Texans in an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn. Johnson, a three-time Pro Bowl running back, signed his four-year contract extension worth $53 million and the $30 million guaranteed he wanted, Friday, Sept. 2, 2011. He agreed to the deal Thursday and flew into Nashville from his Orlando, Fla., home Friday. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …. ……

(4) Owner Bud Adams (R) of the Tennessee Titans greets family members of quarterback Jake Locker (10) before a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings at LP Field on August 13, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. …….

(5) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 1: Head coach Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans and head coach Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings speak after the game on September 1, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Texans 28-0 . Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ….. …..

(6) Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings throws his hat to fans after the win against the Houston Texans on September 1, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Texans 28-0. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …..

(7) Jose Lopez (11) of the Florida Marlins is congratulated after hitting a solo home run by Emilio Bonifacio (1) during a game against the New York Mets at Sun Life Stadium on September 5, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Marlins would go on to defeat the Mets 9-3 . Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ……

(8) Emilio Bonifacio (1) of the Florida Marlins scores on a wild pitch avoiding Chris Capuano (38) and Josh Thole (30) of the New York Mets during a game at Sun Life Stadium on September 5, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …….

(9) Jack McKeon (25) of the Florida Marlins walks away from Fieldin Culbreth (25) , Crew Chief of the umpires, after losing an argument in the bottom of the third inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on August 29, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Getty Images /Chris Pasiateri ……

(10) Outfielder B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated by Ben Zobrist (18) after his home run against the Texas Rangers during the game at Tropicana Field on September 5, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays would defeat the Rangers 5-1 . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(11) Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields , center, reacts with teammates Sam Fuld , left, and David Price (14) after pitching a complete baseball game against the Texas Rangers Monday, Sept. 5, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. the Rays won the game 5-1. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …….

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