Squawkers and gawkers …..

Squawkers and gawkers

Just when we all thought to be a great sports’ weekend, across the panacea of that landscape , one or two oddities , idiocies and great moments are witnessed. In the NFL , week twelve provided us with some scintillating play from the players and one or two moments of dubious firsts . Chris Long and his brother Kyle Long appear to get into what was said to be a shoving match on-field , in a game played between the Chicago Bears and St Louis Rams . Brotherly love in the NFL, may well have a new face to it, beyond the typical loves-fest between perhaps the league’s two most active and famous siblings , Peyton Manning and Eli Manning . That asides , Peyton and the Denver Broncos may well have provided us with the best game played on Sunday afternoon , as the team surrendered a twenty point lead to the New England Patriots , as Tom Brady led the Patriots in a rousing come from behind win in overtime .

A minor incident this past weekend in the NFL between Chris and Kyle Long , that in some cases set the NFL world abuzz .

With losses now suffered by the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs , the AFC has now become a wide open race with four games left to the regular season and the top two berths in the conference still up for grabs . It certainly sets the stage, for an interesting race to finish line over the four remaining games of the regular season schedule.

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Somehow, both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are now having something of an astonishing turnaround to their respective seasons. Both teams have now sauntered to a one and three-win streak respectively, suddenly lifting themselves both, out of a position of mediocrity within their respective divisions . As to what this might suggest about the quality of the opponents faced on Sunday has to be also tempered by the quality of lack thereof now being witnessed in the NFL . No amount of enthusiasm a by a group of former NFL players , now on air analysts , singing the praises of the league’s teams , can now excuse the fact that the league has now become a rather bland product !

The Buccaneers’ 24-21 victory over a very overrated Detroit Lions’ team, says as much about the two combatants and the very fact that this Greg Schiano coached team along with their three-game win streak have now become the focus of attention , with their being a great deal of speculation as to whether or not the beleaguered head coach would in fact survive the season . As Matt Stafford continues to put up impressive annual stats , one has to now question the fact, that Jim Schwartz seems to have forgotten that defense is also very much a prerequisite in today’s NFL game.

Speaking of teams, who appear to show no desire to actually play with a model of consistency , beyond now losing with alarming regularity . Are there any remaining fantasy geeks out there, still willing to put their trust in Matt Ryan , much less the Atlanta Falcons as a team? The Falcons in their divisional contest with the New Orleans Saints , sank to a new level of mediocrity , with their fifth successive loss of the season , dropping the team to league low 2-9 record and at the bottom of the NFC South and the NFC , respectively . Who would have thought that at the beginning of the season for a team coming off a league-high 13-3 record in 2012 , along with a divisional title and having made it into the postseason ? Injuries asides , beyond the loss of Julio Jones , the Falcons are now indicating why this suggestion of their being ” parity in the NFL ” is simply nothing more than an urban legend . It comes down to coaching , but above all , talent on the field of play . Yet the hyperbole created and the notion of parity , it begs the question is this merely a matter of creating a ” water cooler topic ” to discuss all season long ? I will leave you, to be the judge of all that !

Last season’s NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers , are proving to be human after-all. Colin Kaepernick in particular , no longer impervious, has shown himself susceptible to being inconsistent in terms of his play , and what was said to be one of the league’s most stymieing secondary’s are also proving hype doesn’t necessarily allude to greatness .

. A two-game losing streak has placed the Niners in somewhat of a precarious position as the league enters the final quarter of the regular season schedule . Tonight’s , Monday night contest at Fedex Field against the Washington Redskins could to prove to be a very interesting game between these NFC rivals . A victory, is a necessity, for both teams, as each seeks to add their legitimacy as a playoff contender . To think that the Redskins, with their record of 4-7 , are not completely out of their divisional race , does seem to be mind-boggling . Yet consider the fact, that NFC East joint divisional leaders the Dallas Cowboys (6-5) and Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) are barely above.500 adds even more credibility behind the rationale , that not only has the play this season been abysmal , but the quartet of teams within this particular division are just not that good .

The return of Derrick Rose , this season to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls , was seen as a tremendous positive not only for the franchise , but also for the league itself. Barely a month , into the NBA season and the fans have witnessed the loss of the point guard to what first appeared to have been an innocuous injury. News’ updates, have suggested that Rose has a torn the meniscus cruciate ligament (MCL) in his right knee and is now likely out, for the remainder of the season. Having not appeared at all, in any games during the 2012 season , Derrick Rose , now being sidelined , is as big a blow to the Chicago Bulls as it will be for the rest of the NBA , without fans being able to witness one of the best point guards in the game , as well as one of the best players overall in the entire league. The team’s chances of making the postseason, will have diminished, but not to the extent where they are likely to be written off as a non-contender as an Eastern Conference titlist .

Rose’s loss for the season , came in the team’s lopsided defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers . While fans and analysts alike, continue to gauge that loss , it is the points guard’s injury and the possible long-term effect on his blossoming career that now comes into question . The Bulls as an organization has a large monetary investment in the player and how they now deal with that issue will be now be predicated upon the decisions that are likely to be made jointly by Tom Thibodeau , owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Gar Forman . The team will now have to refocus their efforts and rally behind the play of Luol Deng , Carlos Boozer , Kirk Hinrich , Jimmy Butler , Gibson and Joakim Noah . If the players can exhibit the type of effort and resilience shown during the 2011 postseason , then any doubts that some observers are likely to have , could be overlooked .

Chicago will get their first opportunity to perform without their All Star point guard , when they face the Utah Jazz , as these two teams meet on Monday night in an infra-conference match-up. How the Bulls perform in that contest might not be enough of a guide to indicate how they are likely to fare over the remainder of their season , but might clue us in, as to the temperament of the team as a whole , as they seek to go on without Derrick Rose .

The Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban , self-styled narcissist and publicity seeking hound , the majority of the time, can also be a pompous ass ! Granted , with the Mavericks having won their lone NBA title in 2011 , he may well feel that gives him the luxury of pointing out the woes of NBA Commissioner David Stern as well as criticizing that executive , as to what he still believes to be wrong with the game . Certainly , I cannot question Cuban’s wealth , but the so-called business acumen that many seem to be under the impression that he currently possesses , should be tempered by the fact he recently ran afoul of the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) and US Justice Department for ‘ insider trading’. Cuban’s premise, that he was a victim of a political witch-hunt , was about as asinine as his latest comments , attributed to the Mavericks’ owner ” that performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) should now be allowed in the NBA” , with its use being strictly monitored by the league hierarchy . Educated or not , Mark Cuban’s continued stupidity and outlandish persona, is simply another reason why a great deal of the time why he has never been taken seriously by a number of his peers in and outside of the game. As to this latest statement by Cuban , it begs the question, since when was it appropriate to counteract and violate league rules in order to make a diluted product , even less attractive than it already happens to be ? Cuban may well have been acquitted of the charges , and once again , the incompetency of the prosecution (US Attorney’s Office) in the presentation of the government’s case allowed the defendant to walk .

Mark Cuban’s belief that by using performance enhancing drugs to strictly aid with a player’s recovery from an injury , would be of benefit to the league . Perhaps, the Mavericks’ owner has yet to view the pandemic created by the misuse of PED’S in baseball, and the very fact that the MLBPA (union) , much like the NBPA (Players’ Union) , have both been completely disingenuous in dealing with the issue. Cuban’s concerns, if anything, should be about the long-term future of the Dallas Mavericks and where they are likely to be, upon the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki , the franchise’s leading scorer in their history . It is not as if this team , is now likely to get any better , as Nowiztki’s career has now plateaued , and where he is no longer a force to be reckoned with, as he was during his prime.

Currently at 9-5 , fourteen games into the season the Dallas Mavericks sit in second place behind instate rivals the San Antonio Spurs (12-1) within the Southwest Division of the Western Conference . That mark is good enough for fifth place within the conference overall and sixth place within for the NBA as a whole . The Mavericks led by aging veterans , Nowitzki and Shawn Marion , could very well struggle during the latter part of their season , when health and attrition will play a great deal in what this team is likely to achieve . Coming off a two-point loss to the Denver Nuggets , the two teams will meet again on Monday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver , Colorado.

Now losers of five straight and eight of their last ten games , it is becoming extremely difficult to justify the hire of Jason Kidd , to coach the Brooklyn Nets . Furthermore, Kidd now at his worst by way of his coaching record, appears to be is no better than when Avery Johnson coached this franchise, but was summarily dismissed because of a player revolt. Nets’ GM Billy King and team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov , I believe will soon see the error of their ways , with this asinine and ridiculous hire. Take into account the team’s payroll and the rather asinine belief by anal retentive fans, that the Nets can spend their way out of trouble will actually make them a credible force within the NBA, this season . The Nets as a team, have no defensive presence and the contributory efforts of Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry , has bordered on being anemic to say he very least.

As if to further emphasize how bad the Brooklyn Nets just happens to be , only the lamentable Milwaukee Bucks (2-10) have a worst record in the entire Eastern Conference . Sunday’s twelve point home loss by Brooklyn to the Detroit Pistons , should be seen as a reverberating wake-up call for entire Nets’ front office , but with the recent announcement that both Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov will continue to back their embattled head coach to the hilt . I guess, it will be only a matter of time , before we will either see Kidd fall on his sword and summarily re-sign or at the behest of the fans, King makes the decision to relieve the coach of his duties . No use , dressing up a pig and trying to suggest that it is a sow , because that in essence , is what the fans were asked to believe when Jason Kidd was hired to coach this team . His playing credentials were never in question , but his lack of coaching acumen has been on full show , a lack of discipline , and his not being able to communicate with his players, effectively shows this to have been an extremely poor hiring choice to begin with .

This baseball off- season, has been, one of a great deal of speculation and some rather surprising moves. The ongoing “dramedy ” of the Alex Rodriguez hearings , have taken on a life of their own and as a fan of the game , I do believe that this whole process, will not change a damn thing , as it pertains to the landscape within baseball ! The league hierarchy remains incompetent , the union simply overpowering , the owners greedy , and the vast majority of the players are simply disingenuous and under the impression that they still uphold a wonderful tradition , and nothing could be further from the truth .

In one of the more surprising moves , the Detroit Tigers sent Prince Fielder and the remainder of his gargantuan contract off to the Texas Rangers , in exchange for Ian Kinsler . Two under-achieving AL teams simply swapping juju beans, while Jack is still climbing to the top of the Beanstalk. From my own perspective, the Tigers have now reached their zenith, and their recent postseason forays under former manager Jim Leyland , suggests that this team, has nothing left to offer beyond, being very good during the regular season. While this move can be simply seen, as GM Dave Dombrowski seeking to get Fielder’s contract off the books , in order for the team’s pursuance of pitcher Max Scherzer and a contract extension , now seems one that might not be that costly , but it is still likely to leave Detroit with one of the highest team payrolls in all of baseball .

With no one being able to explain the financial mindset within the game of baseball, I believe that during this off-season , we are likely to see the game’s first $300 million player by way of long-term contract ! Some might deem this to be ludicrous, but consider the following, Alex Rodriguez is still on track to have career earnings from the game of $ 500 million , having signed two contracts exceeding $250 million apiece . No one has yet faulted the rationale behind any of the deals in question , but now with Robinson Cano and Clayton Kershaw being the two off-season marquee free agents , although the pitcher’s situation comes by way of his arbitration status . It would appear, that the Los Angeles Dodgers are eager to res-sign the pitcher and have all but promised to make him the highest paid pitcher in the game.

For Robinson Cano and his ubiquitous agent, Jay-z , it is his desire to be seen, as a legitimate conduit, able to “seal a deal” for his client. The New York Yankees can ill-afford to lose a player of Cano’s caliber, but at the same time with Hal Steinbrenner seeking to reduce the team’s payroll below his desired $200 million threshold , it will be a daunting task for GM Brian Cashman to re-sign the slugger and not actually “ break the bank “ .

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Picture gallery.

From the outside looking in , this past sporting weekend has been an interesting but strange paradigm as a number of events have played themselves out on a very public scale for the sports’ fans in general . I cannot help but wonder, what now waits at the very next turn! What observations have you witnessed or would hope to see in the coming weeks within the world of sports ?

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Quarterback Tom Brady (12) hands off to running back Stevan Ridley (22) of the New England Patriots against the Denver Broncos during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Brady would engineer a fourth quarter comeback for the Patriots , with the team defeating the Broncos 34-31 to win the game in overtime . Getty Images North America / Jared Wickerham ….

(2) Running back Montee Ball (28) of the Denver Broncos fumbles the ball in the third quarter against the New England Patriots during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jared Wickerham …..

(3) Quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints is pressured by outside linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) of the Atlanta Falcons during a game at the Georgia Dome on November 21, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox ….

(4) Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose , who for the second time in three years has seen his NBA career curtailed by an injury . The player will be lost to the team for the entire season having torn an MCL in his right knee . The diagnosis , as we now know it to be , will be his having to receive arthroscopic surgery and then a long recuperation and rehabilitation process of possibly between twelve to fourteen months . AP Photo / Kerry Anderson ….

(5) Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban seen here on the set of the ABC reality show ” Shark Tank” . Cuban in a recent statement believes that the NBA should allow the use of performance enhancing drugs within the game, to aid a player in the recuperative process after having suffered an injury . Failing to acknowledge the ongoing issues now facing baseball (MLB) , the gregarious owner still stands by his statement. courtesy of ABC/Disney Television …..

(6) Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw seen here in the team’s dugout from a game earlier this season will be seeking a healthy pay increase . All signs are pointing to the fact that the player who is in an arbitration year will see his salary increase considerably , with the front office also offering the player a long-term deal , likely to make him the highest paid player on the team’s roster . AP Photo / Mark Todd …………

(7) Brooklyn Nets’ GM Billy King (left) is seen here alongside the team’s head coach Jason Kidd. With the team off to a horrendous start to the season , the front office has issued a public statement backing the beleaguered rookie head coach. NY Daily News / AP Photo/ Jose Figueroa ……
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If you can’t stand the heat, then stay the hell out of the kitchen .

If you can’t stand the heat, then stay the hell out of the kitchen .

As the NBA season still is still til in its infancy , we are already seeing the struggles of several notable teams thought to be legitimate contenders for the NBA title . Last season, we saw both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks make somewhat spirited forays as part of the NBA Playoffs , only to subsequently fall in the first round and the conference semi-finals within the Eastern Conference. From my own standpoint , although their efforts were admirable , in no way could either team be seen as a real threat to derail the eventual champions , the Miami Heat , simply based on the performances of the Heat during the entire playoffs ! Unfortunately, for fans of the New York Knicks, as always, has been their want, theirs is a world built around their belief that sports’ world is encapsulated around everything that exists within the organization , the players , management and the coaching staff .

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Coming into this season, a great deal was expected of the New York Knicks and specifically , this team , led by Carmelo Anthony , Tyson Chandler , J R Smith , Metta World Peace , Amare` Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert . Head coach Mike Woodson , long seen as a very good coach of young players, has sought instill discipline into a roster that was simply lacking that trait in 2012 , and it would appear that the trait still remains , as the Knicks are off to an understated start , having posted a 3-7 record through their first ten games of the season . Good enough, to have them at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and amongst the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference .

Now losers of three straight , one could attest to the fact that the Knicks are still seeking a footing in terms of consistency , but the evidence would suggest otherwise , with erratic play both defensively and on offense . On Wednesday night , the team will play host to the Indiana Pacers (9-1) , the current pace setters within the Central Division , as well as the conference , in a game that will be played at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York , home to the New York Knicks. While I believe the Knicks to be merely a competent team , I simply do not believe that they have the depth or the mindset to be considered good enough to dethrone the Miami Heat in a seven-game playoff series . Granted , Knicks’ fans will always point to their defeat of the Heat during the regular season, but in essence that imply counts for nothing, when there is not a great deal at stake. It has always been the postseason , where legacies are made, and at this juncture, the New York fans have simply forgotten that very fact.

How the Knicks acquit themselves against the Pacers, could tell us a great deal about the team as they move forward. A loss , not while catastrophic, could start to raise questions about the makeup of this roster and whether not a number of roster moves might well need to be made at some point during the season . GM Steve Mills , might well need to take a look at his options, should he seek to improve the roster in order to strengthen the team’s chances of making the postseason

With the baseball season now over and a World Series’ champion having been crowned , with the Boston Red Sox claiming their title in the last ten years. One of the more unsavory aspects of this past season has now raised its ugly head, with the ongoing procedural hearing concerning Alex Rodriguez’s attempts to have his suspension overturned during arbitration , with special arbitrator Frederic Horowitz presiding over the entire appeal’s process. Ten days into this proceeding , the defendant , Rodriguez , has decided to show his disgust with this all, by leaving the MLB headquarters , showing his utter disdain for Horowitz, after the arbitrator made the decision not have MLB Commissioner Bud Selig take the stand to stand to fully explain the reasons for the league’s stance in taking their current action to have the New York Yankees’ third baseman for a record two-hundred and fourteen-game suspension.

The league’s position, has been that Rodriguez has been less than truthful in the testimony provided to the league’s investigators, as well as the evidence now in their possession , in some cases paid for , as part of their evidence gathering from the now defunct South Florida based supplements’ company Biogenesis . Company founder, Anthony “Tony” Bosch , now under federal indictment for a number of federal charges , concerning drug trafficking and the selling and distribution of prescription drugs , has agreed to testify on behalf of Major League Baseball. As to what bearing, this will have not only on this hearing, but also Bosch’s own liberty , as he awaits his federal trial , will most likely be dependent upon how damaging his testimony is likely to be against Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and his high-priced legal team , headed by criminal attorneys David Cornwell and Joe Tacopina will have now have a hard time trying to disprove the case against their client , after his actions , and the alleged use of “foul language” by Alex Rodriguez , in describing the whole procedure as a ‘ ###king farce’ , as well as directing a great of his venom at the commissioner and the arbitrator. Were this a criminal case, I seriously doubt that the player’s actions would be so direct , and filled with such anger towards the aforementioned parties !

While I do believe in due process , it is very hard for me to now see how Rodriguez can see his action as being a positive ! His credibility has already come into question , with his repeated non refusal to address earlier claims that he had used performance enhancing drugs , prior to this latest allegation of ties to Biogenesis and the evidence of his having purchased a cache of different substances for his personal use , all in violation of the league’s policy. Bear in mind also , the player is also seeking legal recourse, with his own action against MLB as well as the lead medical physician of the New York Yankees , and what he feels has been a collusive act to have him driven out of baseball . As to why a team doctor would seek to work in conjunction with the league hierarchy to have a player thrown out of the game , simply defies logic , based on Rodriguez’s premise and that of the lawyers’ case in the civil suit filed in US District Court in Manhattan . Seeking punitive damages , emotional distress, loss of income, defamation and damage to his reputation ? Is Alex Rodriguez actually serious, with those claims ?

Rodriguez’s attempts to cast the league’s case as a witch-hunt I believe has more to do with the fact that he may well have felt that any suspension rendered against might well have been in line those meted out to the other twelve players named in the league’s investigative findings and then suspended . A maximum penalty of sixty-five games was handed down to the Brewers’ Ryan Braun , who has subsequently apologized for his actions , in lying not only to the fans the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization ,. but also to the league hierarchy for his misdeeds. A far cry, from his original denial in 2011, the year he won the NL MVP Award , while offering up a web of deceit and lies .

In March of 2010, Alex Rodriguez, himself, would apologize publicly for his steroid use, with the New York Yankees’ organization orchestrating much of the actual premise behind the player’s act of contrition. Yet less than eighteen months later , Rodriguez’s name would come up in association with that of Orlando medical professional , Dr Anthony Galea , who was said to be running a “pill mill” out of his offices in the Central Florida haven . Galea , now serving his time in a federal facility after a plea agreement with the U S Justice Department , was never questioned by the MLB’s investigators concerning links to Rodriguez and the player, himself when broached on the subject, simply deflected those questions with the usual baseball banter of wanting to see the team do well , and that he was not involved or did not know Galea , nor did he have any idea, how his name came to be associated with the now convicted felon. Come full circle, and it now appears, that Alex Rodriguez will seek to muddy with the waters, , with the actions taken , while also seeking to show that baseball’s hierarchy is in fact incompetent , disingenuous and cannot be trusted. The player may well be right , but at this juncture, who are you likely to give the benefit of the doubt to ? The player, or the MLB hierarchy in terms of their respective actions ?

The MLB hierarchy , as led by Bud Selig , along with the team owners and union, bear the brunt of the responsibility for this continued farce , even with Alex Rodriguez trying to dramatically play the victim , when his portrayal , if anything , has more to do with that of a villain with an amoral attitude. As to the player’s claim, that he has a deep respect for the game , his actions have shown that to be a falsehood in the past and now in the present after his less than civil behavior during an arbitration proceeding .

As the NFL enters the final five weeks of the regular season ,with the week twelve schedule giving us a taste of another Thursday night contest between NFC divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints (8-2) . I simply cannot help but wonder, how many of us would have thought that the Falcons’ season would have become so miserable and with their now being calls for the head of Mike Smith as well GM Thomas Dimitroff and a number of players on this roster ! There now seems to be nothing to play for, concerning the Falcons, other than pride and self-respect. Even that might not be enough to abate the wrath of their fans , who expected so much more out of the team this season , along with that of their Pro Bowl . quarterback Matt Ryan .

In a division where the Atlanta Falcons were expected to be challenging for divisional dominance over the New Orleans and a now resurgent ,a href=http://nfl.com/teams/profile?team=car> Carolina Panthers (7-3) . This Falcons’ team now finds itself firmly rooted at the bottom of the NFC South with a 2-8 record , which they jointly share with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) , a team that also this season , has been a major disappointment to their fans . There is a common belief that at the end of this season , both Mike Smith and his Buccaneers’ counterpart Greg Schiano are likely to get a reprieve from their respective front offices and are likely to retain their positions. Though, it would not surprise me, were either Thomas Dimitroff or Mark Dominik decided to ” pull the trigger” and simply fire both head coaches ! When all else fails and the players are not being held accountable, then the coach has to be fired. I mean, it’s the nature of the beast , kill or be killed.

Playing for pride and self-respect now appears to be the only thing left for the franchise, beyond their impending draft status. The Falcons’ draft classes in recent years , overall, have been unspectacular, with their being a lack of leadership coming from the “face of the franchise ” , in Matt Ryan. He may well be a very good player , but I have yet to hear anyone describe the player as someone with great leadership qualities . Instead, Ryan is a great regular season quarterback, but the doubts have begun to set in concerning his most recent postseason performances and the lack of recent postseason success by the franchise. . Going forward , it is unlikely that the front office is likely to do anything drastic concerning the quarterback, but there are likely to be several moves structured to improve the roster , in order to make it all the more competitive .

Matt Ryan, has the weight of a burdensome contract that he appears not to be able live up to. Unlike many of his peers at the top NFL “ quarterback food chain” , with the exception of , Sam Bradford , Philip Rivers and Tony Romo , all of the others have won a Superbowl . That if anything, has to be truly indicative of the pressure place upon a player who was drafted to replace the once beloved former Falcons’ icon Michael Vick , whose fall from grace while with the Atlanta Falcons has been well chronicled . As to what, now awaits the Atlanta Falcons over the remainder of their schedule will be predicated upon the effort given by a team , that this season , has been one of the major disappointments of this NFL calendar year. Matt Ryan has a great deal to prove, not only to himself, but also to the Falcons’ fans , as well as the NFL, in terms of his playing ability , and being able to lead the franchise to a Superbowl victory.

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Picture gallery .

In light of the issues raised within this piece , what thoughts if any do you have concerning this article and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the topic ? Simply leave a comment on this and by all means, if you have any suggestions as to future content you would like to see within the site , your thoughts are more than welcomed !

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Carmelo Anthony goes up for the dunk during a game played between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Wednesday night , 20th November , 2013 . Indiana would go on to defeat the Knicks in overtime 103-96 , with Paul George of the Pacers leading all scorers with 35 points during the game. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(2) Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers attempts a shot over the outstretched arms of the New York Knicks’ Beno Udrih (18) . The Pacers with the victory pushed their record to 10-1 , which is the best in the Eastern Conference and the top mark in the NBA alongside the San Antonio Spurs (10-1) . AP Photo / Kathy Willens ….

(3) Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees is seen here leaving his limousine alongside his attorney Joseph ‘Joe’ Tacopina , as the two arrive at the MLB headquarters in New York City , where the player listened to the arbitration proceedings presided over by the league and union sanctioned arbitrator Frederic Horowitz . On the tenth day of the hearings, the player abruptly left the hearing in anger , slighting both the arbitrator and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for what he believes to be an unjust and flawed hearing . As to how Rodriguez’s action will impact any verdict rendered remains to be seen . For the moment, the player’s defense , in seeking the rescinding of his suspension will be plead by his two lead attorney Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell . Rodriguez also has a civil suit awaiting a trial date to be set in US Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan , New York . AP Photo / James Todd ……

(4) Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons attempts a pass during a game played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional contest at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida , this past Sunday . The Buccaneers would go on to defeat Atlanta 41-28 in what turned to be one the Falcons’ worst performances of the season . On Thursday night they will face another divisional foe , the New Orleans Saints , when the two teams meet at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Georgia ,. The Falcons’ quarterback has performed somewhat erratically through his team’s first ten games of the season , in leading them to a 2-8 record within the NFC South and NFC as a whole . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay ….

(5) Gerald McCoy (93) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sacks Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan during the this past Sunday played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida . Tampa would go on to defeat Atlanta 41-28 in a lopsided victory for the home team . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay …..

(6) Buccaneers’ running back Bobby Rainey (43) scampers into the end-zone , after a forty-three yard touchdown run , that highlighted the team’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons 41-28, this past Sunday . AP Photo / Rheinold Matay ……….

(6) From left to right , Atlanta Falcons’ team owner , Arthur Blank , GM Thomas Dimitroff , head coach Mike Smith and the team’s quarterback , Matt Ryan . The quarterback who recently signed a six-year $113.75 million contract in 2013 , of which $42 million is in guaranteed money , will now have to live up the deal . The expectations are high not only for the player and his long-term future but also for that of the Falcons’ franchise who are seeking to move into a new venue , to be built at an estimated cost of $1.205 billion , during which the Atlanta Falcons are hoping to be ready for the 2014-15 season. A great deal of controversy has surrounded the proposed venue with the Falcons said to only putting up $200 million towards the $1.2 billion cost of the proposed structure, with the rest coming from public funding . AP Photo / Garrett Lang ……

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It’s always good to hydrate .

“Alles , was du willst ” ? (See anything you like ? [German])

We tend to see what we want to see , and not what has actually taken place ….

We tend to see what we want to see , and not what has actually taken place

In light of the recent events taking place in the NFL and this constant insinuation that everyone is entitled to their right say whatever they want as a way of expressing themselves . At no time in any of the recent debates on the incident , have I read or actually heard the words , “ decency “ , “ common courtesy “ much less “ respect “ . And all of this built upon this still rather asinine premise, that this country being greatest on the planet , built upon Christian and moral values, can and should be seen as a beacon of light for the rest of the world .

I find it now hard to believe that anyone who has seen in print, the words of Richie Incognito directed towards his teammate Jonathan Martin and at his mother , can now view this as a place where everyone can see seen or treated as equals . If racism was meant to be tolerated in the workplace, then why not have it as a statute ? Clearly, not the case, of the charade that has been created in the NFL as a fraternity of brothers . Never mind the asinine idiocy of on air analysts, opining that this matter should have been dealt with as an internal issue or where a player walking out on his teammates after a racial epithet has been directed at him , cannot be trusted once he has opened up to press and public on the matter . Yet , this is now the idiocy that we are now seeing as the league hierarchy and NFLPA (union) begin to “circle the wagons” in seeking to defer and deflect the now mounting criticism directed at the NFL and its lack of oversight and its initial handling of this incident .

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Miami Dolphins’ GM Jeff Ireland did the right thing in suspending Richie Incognito without pay , and in ordering an immediate in-house inquiry , rather than having left it to the team’s now beleaguered head coach Joe Philbin to deal with the matter and whose job is likely to be on the line given the poor performances of the team this season and his own handling of the incident in question, and those initial public statements, claiming that this was nothing more than an isolated incident , when it now seems , it was quite the opposite , with their being what appears to be a mounting feud between the two linemen on the team .

If it was known amongst many of the players on the roster , that there was some type of feud going on between the two players and with it escalating to the point of a physical altercation and now , an uncalled for rationale in Incognito’s behavior , then what should that now indicate to us about the NFL as a league where the players simply are allowed to run wild, have no respect for the law and who then often hide behind their wall of high-priced attorneys to fend of charges of a criminal act or intent . Yet excuses are now being made for this type of behavior, without a thought, about how this is all viewed by outside world . Especially one , where the league tries to sell its brand to the consumer and seeks out corporate partners willing to part ways with countless millions on an annual basis to increase this already $7 billion a year corporate entity with ever increasing revenues , which keeps the team owners , players and league hierarchy salivating at the prospect of ever increasing profits .

If you thought that this has been the only incident that placed Richie Incognito under the microscope in recent weeks , then you would be sadly mistaken . In an incident that is alleged to have taken place at a charity golf tournament , the player is said to have sexually harassed a female patron at a public in view of several members who then took it upon themselves to call in local law enforcement . Yet, here we have another incident of a player on the Dolphins’ roster having ran amok, albeit action was said to have been taken , there seems to be no record of a monetary fine or disciplinary action having been taken against the player subsequent to that particular incident . Now what has anyone got to say about the issue, other than to continue with their usual apathy disinterest ?

For the Miami Dolphins and their own impoverished t season , one where the team is in a circling motion as it awaits the call to land . It does seem, as if this conflict or saga is more likely to pull the organization apart , rather than hold it together. There is not one player amongst this lineup , who one can look to and call that individual the team’s vocal leader and with the constant struggles of quarterback Ryan Tannehill on display each week during this season . Is anyone actually surprised that at this juncture, the talk is not about what the Dolphins have failed to achieve in 2013, but the fact the team now has a possible racist within their mix, with no apparent formal apology yet to have been offered by Richie Incognito for his behavior ? Obviously a microcosm of society , where some have no wish to be held accountable for their actions, but who then would choose to play the “victim” instead , as has been the case in the first public interview granted by the player. Meanwhile, Jonathan Martin has hired himself high-powered criminal attorney David Cornwell , in what is likely to be a situation where some type of civil suit is likely to be brought against either the Miami Dolphins, or Richie Incognito , himself . And clearly, this has been the reason why NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has summoned both players to the union’s headquarters to seek a resolution in this matter, before it becomes a rather unsavory legal issue . Bear in mind also , that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has also hired an outside investigator head up the league’s own investigation as to what took place between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin . Corporate litigator, Ted Wells , has been the individual hired by the league to head up the investigation in this matter .

With all eyes now on the Miami Dolphins , for the team, their urgency will actually evolve around how they acquit themselves on Monday night , when they meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8) , as the two teams get underway in a contest at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa Florida . While the Dolphins have their own off the field issues , for the Buccaneers their problems this season , have been longstanding as the team has struggled throughout the entire year , with nothing of note coming by way of head coach Greg Schiano or his coaching staff . The game itself, is likely to be one of the less intriguing contests taking place during week ten of the NFL schedule. So make of it what you will and enjoy whatever you believe to be some of the more intriguing contests on the NFL menu for the weekend

There is no denying that a team’s season can be made or broken in one moment of what appears to have been a rather innocuous incident in terms of an injury . In the case of the Green Bay Packers , the loss of quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone , could very well bring their season crashing down around their ears . The alternatives for Mike McCarthy in terms of a substitute for Rodgers can best be described as having a Ferrari in your driveway and then in comes in a 84 Dodge Pinto alongside a ’91 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme . Far be it for me to make this suggestion , but Packers GM Ted Thompson must now have realized that his office made a monumental mistake in the waiving of Vince Young at the end of the preseason , after the player showed a great deal of promise during the team’s exhibition games . Which is a great deal more than can be said of Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien combined , who are in fact the number two and the three players behind Rodgers on the team’s depth chart at the quarterback position

When Green Bay play host to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field , in Green Bay , Wisconsin , Seneca Wallace will be making his first start in an NFL game since playing for the Cleveland Browns in contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 NFL season . That asides, a great deal is being asked of player, whose NFL career can best be described as spotty in part or moderately average . A win is certainly needed by the Packers if they are to maintain their slender but slight lead over the Detroit Lions (5-3) and Chicago Bears (5-3) within the NFC North . In what is now turning out to be a tightly contested division , the three aforementioned teams will be fighting out until the end of the season with their divisional games likely to be the “make or break” that could prove to be the real pivotal factor decider within the division

In what is now turning out to be a disastrous season for the Atlanta Falcons , it is becoming increasing difficult each week to explain how a team that was originally seen as a favorite alongside the New Orleans Saints (6-2) as the duo thought to be fighting it out for divisional supremacy within the NFC South . Instead, but for the win-less Buccaneers, Mike Smith’s Falcons would now be finding themselves at the bottom of the division with their mediocre record of 2-6 , a mark that would also place them in the bottom half of the conference (NFC) . As of now , it looks as if the Falcons are not only playing for pride and self-respect, but also to determine perhaps their draft position for the 2014 NFL Draft . The real issue Atlanta this season, has been the inconsistency of their defense alongside under-achieving players on both sides of the ball . As to their being leadership on a team that has several seasoned veterans and perhaps one the league’s more consistent passers in Matt Ryan . An explanation has to be sought, as to why the Falcons have been a miserable failure . Mike Smith serves up very little, beyond the usual diatribe of platitudes and a great deal of rhetoric . GM Thomas Dimitroff , is now viewed with a great deal of contempt by the fans , as he is viewed as the architect of the roster over the past two years , with an abundance of draft picks and a number of questionable off-season acquisitions .

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As Atlanta prepares for the visit of the Seattle Seahawks (8-1) to the Georgia Dome in a conference match-up this Sunday, it would be safe to say, a defeat here and there may well be questions raised as to whether or not Mike Smith has taken this franchise as far as he can , in spite of the recent postseason appearances , where once again his teams have failed abysmally , along with Matt Ryan, and his multi-year , mult-million dollar contract . I have no doubt that the quarterback will remain the centerpiece of this team , but there are several players on this roster , who are now past their “sell by date” in terms of their dwindling productivity . We will either find out a great deal about the temperament of the Falcons this Sunday or we are likely to witness a team who has lost the appetite to win.

The façade long-held up that the NFL cares , and specifically about the health of their retired veterans continues to take repeated hits . In recent breaking news , Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett was recently diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) , along with the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. Repeatedly, I have heard and read comments by fans and analysts alike stating that these players know the risk of participating in a physically demanding and full contact sport. Yet what seems to be missing in this ongoing debate , has been the years of research that was in the NFL’s possession on the studies conducted by a well-qualified medical team conducting studies in blunt force head trauma and other neurological disorders associated in playing professional football. A great deal of the of findings when published was never entered into the public domain , with that evidence remaining in the NFL’s possession . with both Roger Goodell and his predecessor Paul Tagliabue refusing to acknowledge the “cause and effect ” of CTE and blunt head force trauma. Excuses from all around, came from veterans , current players, coaches and fans alike . But it was not until the recent deaths of Junior Seau , and previously that of Dave Duerson , both from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, recorded officially, as a homicide, that the fans and public alike started to take note . Congressional Committees were convened, all to no avail , with the usual perfunctory answers being proffered up by Roger Goodell, and DeMaurice Smith .

Courtesy of USA Today

Dorsett among former players showing signs of CTE
Dorsett admits suicidal thoughts

By Maggie Hendricks

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is as familiar to football fans as a torn ACL or ruptured Achilles. It’s the degenerative brain disease that has been blamed for the suicide and untimely deaths of players including Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Chris Henry. Some researchers have linked CTE to football head trauma and cited long-term effects such as depression and dementia. The unfortunate truth of the disease was it could not be diagnosed until after death.

However, UCLA researchers have preliminary results on a test to diagnose signs of CTE in living former players. Among those diagnosed in the initial sample group is Tony Dorsett, the Hall-of-Famer who is now 59 and struggling with depression, emotional outbursts and memory loss.

He spoke to ESPN’s Outside the Lines about how it’s affecting his life.

“It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me. I’ve thought about crazy stuff, sort of like, ‘Why do I need to continue going through this?’” he said. “I’m too smart of a person, I like to think, to take my life, but it’s crossed my mind.”

The report said researchers notified Dorsett Monday. In an appearance Wednesday on ESPN, Dorsett acknowledged he had been tested at UCLA and received results.

“I’m trying to be proactive rather than reactive,” he said.

Joe DeLamiellure and Leonard Marshall are going through similar problems, and were also diagnosed with signs of CTE. The NFL recently settled a lawsuit with former players over ongoing health issues from concussions (including a Dorsett), so these men are likely not alone.

While it’s heartbreaking that these men are dealing with this diseased at such a young age, it’s also good news that researchers are getting closer to diagnosing, and possibly treating, CTE in the living.

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A recent civil suit settled in the US Federal Court has not really done anything to actually absolve NFL of their responsibilities , as they simply patted themselves on the back along with fellow defendants the NFLPA, in avoiding having to make a multi-billion dollar payout, as the plaintiffs (4,300 retired NFL veterans) in the case settled for a $1 billion settlement , that will be used for further medical research , as well assisting players such as Dorsett and many of his peers, who now find themselves in a similar position from a medical standpoint. That settlement figure will hardly make a dent in the NFL’s annual $ 7.4 billion in revenues , especially when one considers that the payout will not be a lump sum. . The fact of the matter is, the more it is alleged that the NFL cares, there is very little evidence to actually substantiate the actual claims being made . In truth, the NFL hierarchy has hidden behind a great deal of deceit and along the way, sought to throw out many of the original legal suits filed against them in the various courts around the country at the varying levels within the legal system. Now with the various medical articles published from accredited medical institutions within the field neuroscience and gerontology , it begs the question, why is it , that at every turn , the NFL so willing to discredit the findings of these esteemed practitioners in the field , when their own research and findings bore out and came to the very same conclusions from academic establishments such as Johns Hopkins , Stanford University School of Neuroscience , Harvard School of Medicine & Neuroscience , UCLA Dept of Neurology , Sloane Kettering and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) ? It seems incredulous that many are now trying to acknowledge that the NFL has become proactive , after so many years of denial on their part. The only reason that Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy chose to do an about-face on the issue , was clearly , because of the adverse and negative publicity towards the NFL and the public relations’ hit that the league itself continued to take , because of their poor handling of the issue

Tony Dorsett has joined a growing list of players recently retired as well as many of his peers who now face a very uncertain future in terms of their well-being. Advances made in the field of neurology have been considerable , but there are no cutting edge breakthroughs that have come to the fore. Unfortunately, for the likes of Bernie Kosar , Jim McMahon , Dorsey Levens and the aforementioned Dorsett , their years will be ones where memory loss chronic headaches and numerous other medical ailments associated with Alzheimer’s and CTE will play an even greater part in their daily lives , more than they would each care to acknowledge. In the midst of this all, Roger Goodell’s only public statement on this issue has been that the league set aside $1 billion as a settlement , yet what he also failed to state , that to date less than $50 million has been used to assist the numerous plaintiffs who sought the league’s help. Somehow the alleged caring we are so often told about as it relates to the NFL , has simply been for show and not much else. Good deeds within a community is one thing , but the greater disservice by the NFL has been their continued deceit and the mistreatment of retired seasoned veterans . .

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Picture gallery.

Your thoughts if any on the points raised in this article and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter at hand . Simply leave a comment as you see fit, and thanks as always for the continued support !

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Beleaguered Miami Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin who has come in for a considerable amount of criticism of the Richie Incognito scandal that has cast a giant shadow over
the organization . Unsubstantiated sources, now state that Philbin was not made aware of the alleged abuse or any physical altercation that was alleged to have taken place at the team’s training facility in Davie , Florida or in the team’s locker room at Dolphins’ Stadium , in Miami , Florida between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Either the head coach, simply does not keep himself abreast of problems amongst his players or he simply chooses to ignore them until something rather drastic has happened . Miami faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Monday night game at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida, on the 11th November , 2013. With a great deal on the line for both teams , a victory is of the utmost priority for each franchise. AP Photo / Mark Carter …..

(2) In a yet to seen interview that will be shown on the Fox Sports Channel (Fox Sports 1) and various affiliates Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins will sit down with Fox’s Jay Glazer to discuss his side of what has now become a very unsavory story. Incognito states that he feels betrayed by teammate Jonathan Martin , in his going public much of what has gone concerning an apparent altercation and Incognito’s racially insensitive tweet , which speaks of the player and his mother in racially derogatory terms , Perhaps someone should remind a buffoon such as Richie Incognito (right) that once you use a social media platform such as ‘ Twitter ‘ , it is extremely difficult to disprove the fact that you did not make those statements , if it is your own personal account used and then you have made a number of your own teammates aware of your actions . @ copyrighted photograph all rights reserved .

(3) Miami Dolphins’ defensive linemen Richie Incognito (68) and teammate Jonathan Martin (71) are seen here on the sidelines for the team during a game earlier this season. In what is said to have been an incident that allegedly took place within the team’s locker room , Martin was said to have left the Dolphins’ headquarters to make his way back to California to be alongside his family. For Incognito , he now has to explain to the world why he used racially derogatory terms aimed at Martin as well his teammate’s mother. Richie Incognito’s intelligence does not appear to be that high, along with the Miami Dolphins’ own intellect on the field of play this season . Getty Images / Gabe Potter …

(4) Seneca Wallace of the Green Bay Packers will replace the injured Aaron Rodgers when he starts for the Green Bay Packers in their Sunday afternoon game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field in Green Bay , Wisconsin ,. This will be the backup’s first game as a starter since a 2011 regular season contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers when playing for the Cleveland Browns . With the Packers at 5-3 jointly sitting atop of the NFC North alongside the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions , a win for the will be of their utmost priority on Sunday . Getty Images / Ryan Hart ……

(5) Atlanta Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith is seen here on the sidelines talking to team quarterback Matt Ryan (2). A disastrous season in terms of the team’s season has left them clinging for dear life with a 2-6 record lying in third place within the NFC South and likely to miss the playoffs . GM Thomas Dimitroff during this upcoming off-season will have to make several tough decisions concerning the team’s roster and its makeup as a precursor to next season . AP Photo / John Raoux ……

(6) Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett recently diagnosed with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) , a neurological degenerative disorder brought on by repeated hits and a bye product of concussions after repeated hits to the head, causing the brain to become swollen and bruised . A further bye-product of this also, can be long and short-term memory loss and the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Dorsett whose playing career was highlighted by his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys , was one of the NFL’s greatest rushers in the league’s history . Getty Images North America / Helen Richardson …..

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tophatal ………………. 2013/10/2013

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Wet cleavage , never a bad thing !

A picture can paint a thousand words . So what does this suggest to you ? Pictured is none other than Wendy Fiore .

What Is In An Arm ?

What Is In An Arm ?

By tophatal ……..

I have been reading with a great deal of interest as to who has been the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL over the past four seasons . In reeling off my own list of names , it was reasonable to assume that Drew Brees , Tom Brady , Peyton Manning , Eli Manning , Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo would be amongst that list . In addition, yes they were , but the real criteria set , were in terms of regular season wins by a quarterback . A great statistic no doubt alongside that of comebacks and game winning drives , that would be a great way to judge a quarterback’s abilities . Far too much is placed upon the quarterback ratings’ system and pass completion percentages but it appears these are the statistics that said to work best for the analysts and NFL coaches and their respective staffs . .
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The one name that I overlooked was that of Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan . A tremendously gifted player , the “ knock” against Ryan is that he has never been able to lead the Falcons deep into the playoffs . Ryan has amassed a 43-19 record in regular season games since 2008, which amongst the tops of starting quarterbacks over the past four seasons . For his part though , Ryan has to contend and play in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL where the Falcons resides , that has four equally compelling teams that will be looking to play themselves into contention this upcoming season . The NFC South is home to the Falcons as well as the Carolina Panthers , Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the much maligned New Orleans Saints . Moreover, the quarterbacks to be found within the division are not too shabby when playing at their very best .

Drew Brees along with Matt Ryan , Cam Newton and Josh Freeman have their own strengths and weaknesses as players . It bodes well this season for Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith , as the team has to be viewed as the prohibitive favorites within the NFC South for the upcoming season . Smith , team owner Arthur Blank , GM Thomas Dimitroff and President /CEO Rich McKay have been prudent and fortuitous in their personnel decisions in the aftermath of the Michael Vick “ scandal “ , which essentially saw the franchise’s fall from grace and the less than honorable departure of Bobby Petrino in the wake of the scandal . Matt Ryan , who was a first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft was taken third overall by organization . The player became a starter that season for the team , with the franchise going 11-5 within the NFL (8-4 /CONF & 3-1 non-conference). The young quarterback in his rookie season was steady but not spectacular. By comparison to his peers that season , one could attest to the fact that Mike Smith was happy with he witnessed from the young player in his first year within the NFL .

The 2012 NFL Draft for the Atlanta Falcons was built around the prerequisite needs of the team , namely a guard , tackle and nose tackle and running back . Moreover, this was borne out in the choices made by Mike Smith and the coaching staff in conjunction with Thomas Dimitroff. Peter Konz , Lamar Holmes , Bradie Ewing and Johnathan Massaquoi were the first four players taken by team in rounds , two through five . If the Falcons can improve upon last season by way of their overall statistics then it , and where they ranked defensively and on offense would be a boost for the coaching and the young players hoping to make a solid contribution for the franchise this season .

Am I convinced that Matt Ryan can join the elite quarterbacks within the NFL ? Well that would be dependent as what one constitutes as being amongst the “elite” ? The Falcons’ quarterback has proven that he is capable of leading a team but it is being able to get over that final obstacle of getting a franchise deep into the playoffs is how now adjudge the greatness of a player and that intent is to win the game’s biggest prize the ……………. Superbowl .

The Michael Vick years as we know , showed him to be a phenomenal athlete who was able to light up a game with some “ exhilarating plays “ . Vick’s on the field performances notwithstanding , it was the player’s off field issues that gained some unwarranted attention and notoriety. His lying to federal investigators and to the ownership of the Atlanta Falcons showed that the naiveté of Michael Vick as well as his lack of maturity . Vick a great deal of wealth and notoriety at a young age, and not being able to handle the public attention , as well as the praise tends to be one of the many reasons that an athlete feels that they are above the law , while feeling that they will have the backing of their entourage or the press in some instances plays into an athlete’s mindset . We have seen these scenarios played out far too often within the public arena , with many of the fans either siding with the athlete or decrying their actions , no matter how heinous their actions are said to be.

The seasoned veteran is now with the Philadelphia Eagles , where their 2011 schedule simply imploded due to their lack of real commitment and the apparent lack of ingenuity coming from head coach Andy Reid and his coaching staff . An 8-8 season led to the Eagles missing the postseason . Moreover , questions were asked as to why this team failed so miserably , in spite of the apparent talent at Reid’s disposal. The Eagles’ front office led by team owner Jeffrey Lurie , GM Howie Roseman and senior consultant Joe Banner had eschewed the idea of firing the head coach after last season’s malaise . Reid’s tenure has been filled with highs and lows , and in recent years, one could attest to the fact that it was more of the latter .

In 2012 if the Philadelphia Eagles are unable to have a successful sojourn through their schedule , then we may well see the head coach being shown the door . I am not about to suggest that the Vick “experiment” in Philadelphia has been a distinct failure but the rhetorical excuses being served up by the player and the coaching staff might just be the most asinine of the premises that best describes why this organization can be considered a joke ! That notwithstanding , the supercilious attempts by the NFL analysts to consider both the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys as being repeatedly favorites within the NFC , has to be looked upon as being rather redundant. The fact that both teams reside within the NFC East indicates how mundane that the division a has become with the ascendancy of the New York Giants in recent years and their playoff history . Do you get the feeling that the Cowboys and Eagles are envious of the Giants and their success ?

Whatever the season now holds for the Atlanta Falcons and the aforementioned teams as they embark on their respective schedules . We can only speculate on what is likely or not likely to happen concerning those franchises . As the defending Superbowl champions , the New York Giants will be the team with a bulls’ eye on their backs . Everyone will be out to take the Giants down , and I am sure that Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning will be out to prove their detractors wrong .

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Picture gallery .

The NFL preseason should prove to be interesting as we get the first glimpse of the rookies taken in the Draft and see what their aspirations may well be . If at all interested in the subject matter simply leave a comment as you see fit .

Picture and slide show details .

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(1) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan takes part in football mini camp Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Flowery Branch, Ga. AP Photo/David Goldman …

(2) Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham takes part in NFL football practice, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Flowery Branch, Ga. For much of the free agency period , it appeared likely the Falcons would lose Abraham, the team’s top pass rusher. Instead Abraham has returned to find his new defensive coordinator is Mike Nolan , who was the Jets’ defensive coordinator for his 2000 rookie season. Abraham says it’s a perfect fit. AP Photo/David Goldman ..

(3) Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith conducts NFL football mini-camp, Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Flowery Branch, Ga. AP Photo/David Goldman ….

(4) Tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) of the Atlanta Falcons breaks a tackle during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America …..

(5) Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons heads off the field after the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Scott Cunningham / Getty Images North America …

(6) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with head coach Andy Reid before the start of the Eagles game against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. …………

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Where’s The Beef ………. ?

Where’s The Beef ….. ?

By tophatal

Well it seems crazy that the self absorbed NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus seeks a home for perhaps his most high profiled client in Terrelle Owens while the accomplishments of one of the league’s most accomplished players seems to go unnoticed and un-praised . Atlanta Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzalez joined a select band of players when he caught his 1,104th career reception. Only six other players in NFL history have caught in excess of 1,000 passes and all have had illustrious careers within the league. Jerry Rice the alltime career receptions and touchdowns leader has astonishing 1,549 receptions and 207 touchdowns and if that were not enough the Superbowl MVP , three time Superbowl winner is enshrined in the Hall of Fame , in Canton , Ohio. From that esteemed septuplet to have reached that millennium mark also are Cris Carter , Tim Brown , Isaac Bruce , Terrelle Owens and Marvin Harrison . Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Hines Ward at some point this season should become the eighth player to have reached that impressive mark of 1,000 career receptions in the NFL . Ward , currently has an impressive and gaudy 980 catches to go alongside 86 career touchdowns .

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I sometimes wonder many of these analysts and alleged journalists who cover the NFL how it is that they believe that they are representative of their craft when all the time all they are ever in search for is something controversial , rather than informative and insightful with their craft. Never mind the ass kissing that seems to be part and parcel within the broadcast outlets such as Fox , CBS , ABC/ESPN and NBC . Is there a chance that these pompous assholes can ever take their jobs seriously , rather than acting like prepubescent school boys who’ve seen their first nude photograph ? But that would be too a high a praise to heap upon these buffoons as they are probably flaccid and suffering from some sort of erectile dysfunction. There you go Mark Schlereth , Chris Mortensen , Merrill Hoge , Jon Gruden , Jason Whitlock and Skip Bayless !

Tony Gonzalez a first round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1997 the player has established himself as one of the premier players at the tight end position in the NFL. And most certainly one of the alltime greats who I would genuinely place along such luminaries as Shannon Sharpe , Kellen WinslowSr,. and Ozzie Newsome who have perhaps made that position their very own. In today’s league alongside the renowned tight end making a name for themselves we have Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers , Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots , his teammate Rob Gronkowski , Jason Witten , Jimmy Graham and seasoned veteran Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers .

You can’t but admire Tony Gonzalez’s career from afar and the player has been the epitome of class even when it seemed that the Kansas City Chiefs ebbed and flowed under the coaching of Dick Vermeil . The former Chiefs’ coach as we now went on to considerable success with the St Louis Rams guiding them to their lone Superbowl win over that establishment’s history. And though Gonzalez’s career flourished and floundered with the franchise his amassing the greater part of his statistics with the team . He now now seems to be rejuvenated under Mike Smith , his coaching staff and a quarterback in Matt Ryan who’s yearning to win . When the player was acquired by the Falcons in 2009 I felt it would certainly make the Atlanta Falcons a legitimate contender for the Superbowl within the NFC . However, it has been Ryan’s inconsistency in the playoffs that has plagued the team since his arrival in the NFL . Now with the plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal it is hoped that he and the team can make a creditable push for postseason honors .

If Matt Ryan cannot succeed with players such as Roddy White , Michael Turner and Gonzalez , himself , then questions will have to asked of the young quarterback. There’s no denying that the player is capable of leading this team but whether or not he is the signal caller many believe him to be . Well it would appear that the jurors are still out on that subject before they render a decision .

The NFC South where the Atlanta Falcons reside alongside Carolina Panthers , New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers . That division is a highly competitive one and could surmise that they can lay the claim that they currently have the best quartet of teams in all eight divisions of the NFL .

It should come as no surprise that the high flying New Orleans Saints at 5-2 followed jointly by Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each at 4-3 with the lowly Carolina Panthers 2-5 bringing up the rear . Now while Cam Newton has been setting the league alight with his exhilarating displays this Panthers’ team under coach Ron Rivera has struggled in terms of overall consistency . For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and coach Raheem Morris the issues facing his team is actually having enough active starters who are not injured . With the loss of LeGarrette Blount and Earnest Graham from an offensive standpoint this hampers the Buccaneers and their running attack and the opportunities for quarterback Josh Freeman .

The NFC South has now become a division , that each given week with the teams in play just about anything is liable to happen . And no doubt when each of the residents within meet up for that combustible divisional match up the fans are usually given a thrilling display. And for the Atlanta Falcons they know that their schedule proves to be no different especially in light of their divisional foes . Week 8 gives the team a bye before they then embark upon the rest of that daunting 2011 calendar schedule. However, in week 10 they face off against the New Orleans Saints , week 14 sees them taking on the Carolina Panthers , week 16 they are the guests of the Saints and the New Orleans Superdome , New Orleans , Louisiana , before ending their season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 17 at the Georgia Dome , in Atlanta , Georgia ,.

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Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) pulls in a reception during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski ….

One could surmise that given the play of Drew Brees and his Saints’ teammates the race for the division is already over , albeit that we’re only seven weeks into the NFL season. Were it not for the injuries sustained by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers I would say that we would witnessing a three horse race within the division ! The New Orleans Saints on paper would appear to be the class of the NFC South , and you could give credence to that premise . But between now and until the end of the season just about anything could very well happen. A miscue consequential losses and things suddenly get turned upside down and on its ear . Thankfully , I can look at the NFC South and simply state that it has a great deal more going for it than the allegedly esteemed NFC East ! One simply has to look at the poor play and the inconsistency of the teams there to realize that , although the New York Giants seem to be playing with the resolve not seen from the team in quite a while . That if anything has more to do with the defensive presence of the team’s secondary and in particular the play of Osi Umenyiora . Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell should be the individual on the coaching staff upon which the praise ought to heaped upon alongside Tom Coughlin .

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Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) runs off the field after their 23-16 win over the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …

The NFL much like its NBA counterpart has become driven by the characters rather than the teams themselves. But while the football’s season is one of a mere 16 game schedule and a postseason that in its immediacy ends with a one and done concept . That clearly is not the case with NBA . Furthermore , the players in the NBA can simply play with a lax attitude knowing full well the penchant of the NBA hierarchy and team owners have a tendency to shoot themselves in the as the power they ( union/players) have over that body is powerful enough to dictate policy . One could hardly say that would be the case within the NFL , not in light of the recent events that have taken place concerning their labor issues. A compromise had to be reach rather than the league hierarchy and NFLPA (union) sinking the league into a morass that they might never have successfully recovered from .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have as to the points raised within this piece and in particular with regard to the career of Tony Gonzalez ? And how do you view things panning out for the teams within the NFC South ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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Picture and slide show details .
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(1) DETROIT – OCTOBER 23: Roddy White (84) of the Atlanta Falcons catches an 18 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Ryan (2) in the second quarter of the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Falcons would go on to defeat the Lions 23-16 Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(2) Michael Turner (33) of the Atlanta Falcons looks to get around the tackle of Amari Spievey (42) of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Atlanta won the game 23-16. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images …

(3) Quarterbacks Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons and Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions shake hands after the game at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Falcons defeated the Lions 23-16. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(4) Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) is stopped by Detroit Lions outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter , rear, during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …..

(5) Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) pulls in a reception during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski …..

(6) Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) runs off the field after their 23-16 win over the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio ….

(7) Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith celebrates a 23-16 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

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NFL news

NFL tight ends and their stats this season

Atlanta Falcons news

Atlanta Falcons 2011 regular season schedule

Head Coach Mike Smith

Falcons’ assistant coaching staff

Atlanta Falcons team roster

Atlanta Falcons depth chart

Falcons’ teams statistics 2011

Atlanta Falcons’ draft 2011

Atlanta Falcons draft history

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Tony Gonalez’s career stats

Tony Gonzalez’s bio

Players taken alongside Tony Gonzalez ( 13th overall pick in the 1st round) in the 1997 NFL Draft include Orlando Pace , Bryant Westbrook , Walter Jones , James Farrior , Jake Plummer , Marcellus Wiley , Corey Dillon and Sam Madison to name but a few .

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NFL all-time reception leaders

NFL all-time career touchdown leaders

NFL all time career receiving yards

What To Make of It All …………………

What To Make of It All …

Well the berths have been set for the 2011 World Series with the St Louis Cardinals representing the National League and last season’s AL pennant winners the Texas Rangers making their second consecutive appearance in MLB’s showcase event. From my own perspective this may well be the best possible scenario with which to end the postseason with the two best teams in the league playing in this series. It should come as no surprise to see that the Ron Washington’s team in the World Series as their play over the course of the season was of a consistently high level amongst their peers within the AL and most certainly in the league as a whole .

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The Texas Rangers made light work of defeating the Detroit Tigers 15-5 to win the ALCS outright 4-2 . For team president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels their faith has been more than justified in keeping together a team that was bitterly disappointed after last season’s crushing defeat at the hands of the San Francisco Giants in 2010 . And the asinine belief that Michael Young should have been jettisoned by the organization showed clearly that the fans who claim that the maneuever should have been made had no damn idea what the hell they were talking . Ron Washington and his coaching staff knew that the player alongside Josh Hamilton , Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz are the “heart and soul” of the team . It’s simply asinine to be making these type of statements without having anything to back it all up .

For Tony La Russa and this Cardinals’ team with their achievements from the regular season , it should have come as no surprise what they were able to achieve during with the postseason with their defeat of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS . You simply knew that during the NLDS between the Milwaukee Brewers and St Louis Cardinals once Ron Roenicke’s team failed to take advantage of the opportunities that came their way during the series there wasn’t much doubt that Albert Pujols and his teammates would find a way to make the Brewers pay for those mistakes.

Having won their most recent World Series in 2006 defeating the Detroit Tigers decisively 4-1 in that lopsided series . The St Louis Cardinals face perhaps an even more daunting task this time around when they open this year’s series at Busch Stadium , St Louis , Missouri on Wednesday in what is sure to be a raucous and staunch Cardinals’ following . On the mound for La Russa’s team will be their starting ace Chris Carpenter . A decision has yet to be made by Ron Washington and his coaching staff as to who the Texas Rangers’ starter is likely to be .

Say what you will the expectations may well be high for this series given what is at stake for both teams. The St Louis Cardinals will be seeking eleventh World Series title , while the Texas Rangers will be seeking their very first . The month of October during the postseason is littered with great feats of absolute amazement that make the game what it is and one of the major reasons why baseball still resonates with the fans . Unfortunately , however , the postseason television viewership for the series isn’t what it once was . And this year will certainly be no different in spite of the fact of the legacies of the two teams competing .

As the rapper Lupe Fiasco says in his hit song ” Words I Never Said “ would suggest Glen Beck is a ‘racist’ and Rush Limbaugh is a racist “. Well who am I to disagree ? But I never thought I would to live to see the day where I am now in almost complete agreement with the Conservative right winger Limbaugh as to the merits of Donovan McNabb as a player in the NFL ! McNabb’s struggles over the past two seasons have been well chronicled most notably with the Washington Redskins and this season with the Minnesota Vikings .

The Vikings this season are a team adrift in the midst of despair and without direction or leadership from anyone on this roster . And that is with due respect to Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson because neither at this point has shown that they possess any of the qualities mentioned . And it is now becoming abundantly clear that head coach Leslie Frazier , his coaching staff and the front office led by GM Rick Spielman made a monumental mistake in acquiring the veteran quarterback . His productivity this season ranks amongst the worst in the league at the position and especially with regard to the team’s offense in the red zone and on “third downs “.

Sunday’s game between two divisional (NFC North) foes in the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings , bore out everythin one has come to expect of a Vikings’ team completely lacking confidence and amongst the very worst within the NFC in total defense . The Vikings’ offensive line is abysmal and an aging McNabb is simply doing himself no favors by rushing around like a headless chicken unable to find anyone amongst his arsenal of offensive weapons . The only praise that can be placed upon this team is that Percy Harvin when given the chance can be electrifying to watch . Beyond that, there certainly isn’t enough lavish praise that can be heaped upon this team . Well not from my perspective I believe !

If Sunday’s game is indicative of anything then it was these two teams are heading in opposite directions. The Chicago Bears for the present seem to have righted their ship under coach Lovie Smith . Whereas the Minnesota Vikings and coach Leslie Frazier and his coaching staff have more questions that need to be answered , far more than he could possibly have dreamed of prior to the start of this season . The resulting 39-10 loss by the Vikings to the Bears drops the team to 1-5 within the NFC North and roots them only above the Carolina Panthers (1-5) and the win-less St Louis Rams (0-5) within the NFC . As to what the rest of the regular season holds now for the Minnesota Vikings I am not so sure that their long suffering fans are quite prepared to endure the maelstrom of uncertainty and continued ineptitude in terms of the team’s performances !

If Sunday’s game is indicative of anything then it was these two teams are heading in opposite directions. The Chicago Bears for the present seem to have righted their ship under coach Lovie Smith . Whereas the Minnesota Vikings and coach Leslie Frazier and his coaching staff have more questions that need to be answered , far more than he could possibly have dreamed of prior to the start of this season . The resulting 39-10 loss by the Vikings to the Bears drops the team to 1-5 within the NFC North and roots them only above the Carolina Panthers (1-5) and the win-less St Louis Rams (0-5) within the NFC .

Well one wheel has now dropped off the wagon that carried the hopes of the Detroit Lions this season . In what was an exciting game between the Jim Schwartz’s —- team and a surprisingly effective San Francisco 49ers led by a rejuvenated Alex Smith . Playing with a great deal of aplomb Jim Harbaugh’s players may well be the surprise of the NFC and no doubt the league this season .

In what was a highly entertaining game between the then unbeaten Detroit Lions would see the team suffer their first loss ( 25-19) of the season at Ford Field , in Detroit , Michigan , to the 49ers as Smith would rally his team and lead them back to what many may well have viewed as an improbable win . But the game would be remembered for its postgame antics with the apparent now unusual melee between the two opposing head coaches. I say let the two coaches decide their issues in the gladiator’s arena rather than Schwartz talking about a lack of class shown by Jim Harbaugh ! And at present if there’s a more under-rated running back in the league than Frank Gore , then can someone let me know who that might be ? With the ball in his hand and on the move , Gore is a devastating weapon to have on your team . .

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(What could Schwartz be saying to Harbaugh at that moment in time ?) Jim Harbaugh head coach of the San Francisco 49ers argues with Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions during the NFL game at Ford Field on October 16, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The 49ers defeated the Lions 25-19 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

It has long been the contention that the NFC East should be viewed as the glamor division of the league . I now feel that the notion can no longer be justified in spite of the apparent legacies of such teams as the Dallas Cowboys , New York Giants , Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins . If anything the division that could well lay those claims to rest is that of the NFC South and the teams who reside there . Can there now be any doubt that the Atlanta Falcons , Carolina Panthers New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are far more competitive than their rivals within the other divisions of the NFL ? Not only that but bear this in mind Matt Ryan , Cam Newton , Drew Brees and Josh Freeman are four of the most competitive and gifted quarterbacks within the NFC and league as a whole .

Granted , at 1-5 the Carolina Panthers are a work in progress under Ron Rivera and his coaching staff . But the competitive nature and athleticism brought by Cam Newton cannot be denied , albeit that they have lost some very close games this season . As this team gradually improves and their confidence grows there is no reason not to believe why they cannot be competitive not just merely within their own division but within the NFL as a whole . I am not so sure that beyond what we have witnessed from the team thus far we will see a team ready to compete for the upper echelons within the NFL.

OK, so we know what the New Orleans Saints are capable from an offensive standpoint and the prolific career of the team’s quarterback Drew Brees. But if there’s a knock against Sean Payton’s players it is the very the fact that on defense they become incredibly complacent and lackadaisical .

This past Sunday the New Orleans Saints were the guests of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium , in Tampa , Florida . The game itself was one that pitted two aforementioned quarterbacks in Josh Freeman and Drew Brees . Freeman in his young career within the NFL is proving to be a very efficient quarterback in his own right , with many of his heroics coming late in the games . Josh Freeman has already amassed 8 come from behind wins for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he looks to lead Raheem Morris’ young team on their way to further glory .

This was a game of oddities where the Buccaneers’ much vaulted defense had to stand firm against Saints’ prolific offense . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would systematically deal with the New Orleans Saints in a game littered with multiple mistakes made by Sean Payton’s players . The resultant 26-20 win by the Buccaneers places them atop of the NFC South sharing the divisional lead with this past Sunday’s opponents.

As I alluded to earlier , the NFC South is a highly competitive division and with two teams placed firmly atop of the standings , each with a 4-2 record . Care to guess which team is liable to come out ahead within this division with the exception of the lowly Carolina Panthers ?

Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons has been able to work wonders since he assumed the role of head coach from then disgraced Bobby Petrino , who departed from the franchise like a thief in the night . Arthur Blank , the team’s owner had seen the club sink to an all-time low with the subsequent derailing of Michael Vick’s career due to his own criminal misdeeds . Those lean years left the franchise without any direction and signs of any real leadership from within the organization or on the playing field ! With Matt Ryan’s drafting by the team in 2008 , the organization’s route seem to be directly on the path of gradual progression as some semblance of success was on its way. And in the subsequent years since, the coaching staff of the Atlanta Falcons under Smith’s guidance and that of general manager Rich McKay have assembled a roster that now seems intent on winning a Superbowl .

For three quarters on Sunday the Carolina Panthers held their own against the Atlanta Falcons . But as the game progressed it was clear that Cam Newton and his teammates had no answer for what the Saints were able to throw at Ron Rivera’s team . The Falcons at 3-3 face an arduous task over the remainder of their season if they seek to contend with their fellow cohabitants within the NFC South. The Falcons came away with a 31-17 victory over their beleaguered divisional rivals .

It should be interesting to see what transpires within the division (NFC South) over the course of this season and how each team will presumably fare .

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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 .)

Over the course this past weekend and the NFL schedule what thoughts if any do you have on the events that took place ? Do you also view the NFC South as perhaps the most competitive division at present within the NFL ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the points raised within this piece and any other salient points you believe to be pertinent on the subject matter .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) A smiling Adrian Beltre walks out of the batting cage as the Texas Rangers practice on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals are scheduled to play the opening game of baseball’s World Series on Wednesday in St. Louis. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(2) Texas Rangers’ Elvis Andrus , left, and Michael Young, right, laugh as the joke with teammates during practice Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers will play the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series that begins Wednesday in St. Louis. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …..

(3) Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington responds to a question during a news conference Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers are scheduled to play the St. Louis Cardinals in baseball’s World Series starting Wednesday in St. Louis. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez ……

(4) The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after Game 6 of baseball’s National League championship series against the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Milwaukee. The Cardinals won 12-6 to win the series and advance to the World Series. AP Photo/David J. Phillip ….

(5) Manager Tony LaRussa of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after they won 12-6 against the Milwaukee Brewers during Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 16, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …..

(6) David Freese (23) of the St. Louis Cardinals scores against Jonathan Lucroy (20) #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers on a sacrifice fly hit by Adron Chambers (56) in the top of the fifth inning during Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 16, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) …..

(7) Quarterback Donovan McNabb (5) of the Minnesota Vikings is sacked by Amobi Okoye (91) of the Chicago Bears during the game on October 16, 2011 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images …..

(8) Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb watches from the sidelines the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Chicago. The Bears won 39-10 . McNabb threw for 177 yards, completing 19 of 24 passes. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …..

(9) San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh speaks to reporters at a news conference at the NFL football team’s facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu ….

(10) Jim Harbaugh head coach of the San Francisco 49ers argues with Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions during the NFL game at Ford Field on October 16, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The 49ers defeated the Lions 25-19. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) …..

(11) San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, right, shout at each other after an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. The 49ers won 25-19. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski ….

(12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tanard Jackson (36) runs with an interception by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Brian Blanco …..

(13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) fires a pass as New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) pressures him during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers won 26-20. Freeman threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns. AP Photo/Brian Blanco …..

(14) Quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints directs play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers October 16, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ……

(15) Quarterback Josh Freeman(5) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just gets this pass off against the New Orleans Saints during the game at Raymond James Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …….

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MLB news

MLB scoreboard

MLB World Series schedule begins 19th October 2011

Texas Rangers @ —- St Louis Cardinals , Busch Stadium , St Louis , Missouri

NFL News

NFL week 6 results

NFL players stats thru’ week 6

NFL team stats thru’ week 6

NFL Standings by division

NFL week 7 schedule

Atlanta Falcons news

Carolina Panthers news

New Orleans Saints news

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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J Cole …….. ” Can’t Enough ”

They Say You Can’t Take It With You Or Ever Return Home …………

They Say You Can’t Take It With You Or Ever Return Home …………

Week two of the NFL season is now upon us and there are one or two intriguing match-ups . That being said perhaps the game that may draw the greatest attention could very well be Michael Vicks’ return to Atlanta where his high flying Philadelphia Eagles’ team are the guests of the Atlanta Falcons , his former team.

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For Vick this will be his first game against against the Falcons who got off to an inasupicious start with an overwhelming 30-12 loss to the Chicago Bears in their season opener . We all have read of Vick’s problems off the field and the fact that he was incarcerated for his crimes , served his sentence and now seems to have accepted back into the NFL with open arms by his peers and the league hierarchy alike . The player himself has gone out of his way in atoning for his misdeeds by working in conjunction with PETA in a number of PSA’s with regard to animal cruelty .

For the Falcons’ fans who may still feel aggrieved at the player’s actions and the very fact that he had if anything lied to them and the organization as to his misdeeds may still not sit well with many of them. But at the end of the day with the player no longer being a part of their staff they have moved and seemed to have found a successor to Michael Vick in Matt Ryan . If nothing else the quarterback knows that he will have to perform at his very best if he is to outduel his predecessor . And given his somewhat error filled and average performance against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field you have to know that he and his teammates will have take their game up a notch or two at least against a hungry Philadelphia Eagles’ team .

Eagles’ coach Andy Reid and his coaching staff they have to be pleased with what they have seen from this team this early in their season . And the coach obviously has to be pleased with his quarterback’s performance , maturity but no doubt his growing leadership skills as well . With the Philadelphia Eagles being viewed as the presumptive favorites not merely for the NFC East but also the conference and Superbowl the bullseye has firmly been placed on their backs as a target . Whether or not this is justified remains to be seen .

Michael Vick seems to have acclimatized himself well with his teammates and there is growing mutual respect between the player , the veterans and even the new draftees on the roster . The player’s breakout return last season may well have provided the Eagles’ fans with a sign of things to come not merely for this season but quite possibly for the future . Clearly the organization’s sights are set on the Superbowl (SBXLVII) and raising the Lombardi Trophy in February 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis , Indiana .

With a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal Michael Vick will be given every chance to show his prowess and further enhance his reputation as being perhaps the best quarterback playing in the league today. Certainly no expense has been spared with regard to Andy Reid setting about acquiring players for this team as they seek to improve and justify their new found position atop of the NFL. That being said the defending Superbowl champions the Green Bay Packers are not about to give up their crown without a fight. And an anticipated match-up in the postseason should there be one would be seen as one of the highlights of the NFL calendar .

While Vick seems to be excelling this season with the Philadelphia Eagles his two former teammates Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb seem to be having their own struggles as they seek to acclimatize themselves with their respective teams. To say that McNabb underachieved with the Minnesota Vikings in their season opener would be to suggest that Van Gogh could paint a masterpiece with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back . Suffice to say that the Vikings front office , coaching staff and their fans cannot be entirely happy with what they witnessed from the veteran so far . Is there room for improvement you may ask ? The jury is still out on that I guess ! Kevin Kolb for his part the newly acquired starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals not only has to prove himself worthy of the faith shown in him by Ken Whisenhunt , the front office but also in the fact he’s signed a lucrative multi year contract with the team . His play this season may well prove to us whether or not this was a prudent decision made by GM Rod Graves .

It is clear that the Philadelphia Eagles will want to send a clear and resounding message to the NFC as well to the rest of the NFL that they ready to take on all comers . And the best way to do that would be to defeat the Atlanta Falcons decisively on their home turf at Fulton County Stadium / Georgia Dome in , Atlanta , Georgia . I expect this game to be a highly competitive one with both defenses being tested . But it may well come down to the offensive prowess shown by the Eagles that could be the determining factor in this match-up in what is sure to be an emotionally charged game.

If you are a Boston Red Sox fan you cannot be entirely happy with what you’re now seeing from this team . Losers in eight of their last ten games the Red Sox’s season appears to be spiraling out of control and with the Tampa Bay Rays now bearing down on them in their rear view mirror there now has to be cause for concern. If last night’s game [9-2] ( loss to the Rays) at Fenway Park against their divisional foes was anything to go by then the Boston Red Sox had better get this show back on the road , rather than now being subjected to a great deal of ridicule . These two teams are now battling it out for the wildcard berth within the AL and it has to be said that at this stage of the season this might just the most suspenseful event happening in baseball at present .

For Carl Crawford the former Rays’ player this has to be one of those situations as to what might have been . But circumstances being what they are the player signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent when it became apparent that his former team could simply not afford him. He was signed to a lucrative 7 year $154 million deal that placed him alongside stars such as David Ortiz , Josh Beckett , Dustin Pedroia , Jon Lester and all of the other highly paid players on the Red Sox roster .

For Terry Francona and his coaching staff it cannot be pleasing to the eye to witness his team fail so miserably through the month of September , thus far. And I am sure under the watchful eye of GM Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office questions are now raised as to why this roster is now wilting under pressure . Suffice to say that when the pressure is brought to bear there are some who can and withstand it and there are others who cannot . At this moment in time deliberations are now taking place as to what guise this takes in the case of the Boston Red Sox. And for Carl Crawford this has been a season where he simply hasn’t delivered the goods as expected when adjudged by that of his teammates from an offensive standpoint .

To simply apportion blame solely one player would be remiss , as it has been a collective effort this has placed the Boston Red Sox in the predicament that they now find themselves in. The team has simply struggled and been errant through their last six or seven series that in that time they have seen their lead amongst the wildcard aspirants simply being whittled down by the Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays.

Now while everyone watches this race between these two teams unfold there’s a lot to be said for who could now be viewed as a favorite and who ought to be deemed the underdog. From my own standpoint I am in apoplexy merely watching the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays play. One minute we are seeming one team find a semblance of consistency only for the next to completely succumb and do the inexplicable . Granted , one could say that this simply mirrors the form of the Red Sox as of late but given the importance of the next three games to be played in their current series now unfolding at Fenway Park , who’s to say what the likely outcome will be in the end ? I am sure that Carl Crawford would not be able to answer such a question succinctly and neither would anyone else from the opposition for that fact .

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With regards to the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and anything else you feel to be pertinent to the subject matter in question . Thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

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

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Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick throws a pass during practice at their NFL football training facility, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Alex Brandon ..

(2) Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid speaks during a media availability at their NFL football training facility Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ……

(3) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles prays with teammates and St. Louis Rams players after a game at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15 . Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……

(4) Michael Vick (7) of the Philadelphia Eagles scrambles as Chris Long (91) of the St. Louis Rams dives for him at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15. Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images ……..

(5) Mike Aviles (3) of the Boston Red Sox kicks the dirt in the ninth inning during a game with Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park September 15, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox lost 9-2. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) …..

(6) Evan Longoria (3) of the Tampa Bay Rays and B.J. Upton (2) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate a 9-2 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park September 15, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images ….

(7) As rain falls, Boston Red Sox’s Carl Crawford heads back to the dugout after popping out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Krupa ……

(8) Carl Crawford (13) of the Boston Red Sox fouls off a pitch in the second inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on September 14, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images …..

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Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(12) Jason Campbell (8) of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the O.co Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ………
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Let The Fun And Games Begin ……….. When You’re Ready Please NFL ?

Let The Fun And Games Begin ……….. When You’re Ready Please NFL ?

It’s been pretty much an offseason of discontent within the NFL with the owners , players and league hierarchy suddenly realizing that the start of the season is merely around the corner . Never mind the fact that teams haven’t really been able to conduct their OTA’s at their respective training facilities . In that respect the whole preseason and initial start of the regular season due to begin on the 8thd September could very well offer the fans a product that could be so bland and meaningless that it might have us wondering whether or not it wasn’t worth completely abandoning the season altogether . No one wants to see an on field product that by three or four three that could be so out of sync and mediocre that given the fact that the fans will be asked to pay a sizable sum to witness this all . And if as is being proposed we could very well see a preseason that will have to forgo two of the four scheduled games then any sort semblance of cohesiveness could very well be something that the fans are not liable to see at all .

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With that in mind of all the teams that I witnessed over the course of last season none more so than the Atlanta Falcons had me wondering how good could this team really be . Granted , their postseason foray ended somewhat abruptly but I put that down to more inexperience more than anything else . The team’s coach Mike Smith and his coaching staff seem to have found that semblance of cohesion and consistency that many teams yearn for in the league but so few are able to find it . Having won the NFC South rather comfortably, posting a 13-3 record within the league . Many felt that the team led my their Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan could very well have pulled off a major surprise during the postseason. This season if anything a great deal is expected from this team and in particular by their erstwhile fans . The era of Michael Vick is long gone and but a distant and quickly fading memory . Team owner Arthur Blank and the front office headed by GM Rich McKay know that they were fortuitous not only in the hiring of Mike Smith as the team coach but also in their drafting of Matt Ryan .

I’ve no doubt that this season could very well see this team prove to be dominant but that being said I also believe that the NFC South could very well be a highly competitive division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers , alongside the New Orleans Saints should prove to be formidable and with the Carolina Panthers no doubt looking to their overall number one pick from this year’s draft Cam Newton to simply show the Panthers’ fans what he’s made of . Who knows where the season could very well take us ?

Rich McKay and the scouting department made some prudent choices in the NFL Draft that will prove to be productive for the Falcons’ organization as a whole . And with those selections being strategically rendered with there being an assortment of offense and defense to bolster the needs of the team . The prize pick was wide receiver Julio Jones who will no doubt compliment what is already a formidable offensive presence alongside Michael Turner , Roddy White , Tony Gonzalez and Brian Finneran . And from a defensive standpoint this team can only get better as they being to gel more as a cohesive unit . But in retrospect it does all come down to have a balance on both sides of the ball and here too the Falcons aren’t necessarily lacking as the offense when having found its rhythm can be as good as any within the league .

Now would it be remiss to suggest that the Atlanta Falcons are not good enough to be considered amongst the NFC favorites for the Superbowl ? I think that perhaps not given that no one could really have foreseen the Green Bay Packers coming out of the NFC as conference champions much less wining the title itself . If anything all eyes were perhaps on the New Orleans Saint or Chicago Bears from last year as it related to the postseason. I read with interest where a fellow blogger within this medium suggested that the next young quarterback within the league who is on the cusp of leading a team and actually winning the Superbowl will be the Bears’ Jay Cutler . Yes the that Jay Cutler who essentially baulked and walked away from his team when they needed him most . For all of Brian Urlacher’s traits , facing reality doesn’t seem to be one of those , especially in light of the player coming to his quarterback’s defense by saying that ‘…..Cutler was a warrior and one of the hardest working players in the league as well as one of the best players at the position in the entire NFL’ . Obviously Urlacher hadn’t been taking much note of what happened in the Bears’ meltdown and their subsequent 21-14 loss to the Packers much of which could be squarely placed on Jay Culter’s shoulders for the team’s demise in the NFC title game .

As to the ongoing impasse between the league and NLFPA I would certainly like to be optimistic with regard to what I have been hearing via the various news sources . But given the fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has handled this situation with about as much precision as a one armed individual being asked to juggle an explosive device . I think that it’s pretty safe to say that this episode is far from over as it relates to the present work stoppage . For all of the pontificating , finger pointing and in the end so called accord that we are now seeing from all sides with Goodell and his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA issuing a joint statement focusing on the two sides close to reaching an accord , I for one won’t believe it until I hear that an agreement has been reached , a binding contract signed and we are told the league will indeed begin its regular season schedule on time . Anything short of that I will still deem to be a complete failure !

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Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts raised within this piece and thanks as always for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated .

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

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(1) FILE – This May 24, 2011, file photo shows Atlanta Falcons rookie receiver Julio Jones, left, greeting quarterback Matt Ryan before an informal football workout, in Buford, Ga. Ryan and Jones haven’t let the NFL lockout stop them from beginning a new friendship. AP Photo/David Goldman …..

(2) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Julio Jones, #6 overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons, holds up a jersey on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ………

(3) Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, rear, looks on as teammate Steve Smith, center, calls a play at his youth football camp in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, June 17, 2011. It was another bonding experience for what will be one of the most scrutinized quarterback-receiver combinations in the NFL _ if Smith stays in Carolina. AP Photo/Chuck Burton ……

(4) Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, right, talks with Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, as they arrive for meetings in Rosemont, Ill., Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Owners gathered to discuss the status of negotiations with the players for a new collective bargaining agreement. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(5) Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy shows off his Super Bowl ring Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis., after the NFL football team’s ring ceremony at Lambeau Field. AP Photo/Mike Roemer …..

(6) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with team owners and legal counsel for the league . Getty Images/ Hannah Foslien ……

(7) Sam Shields (37_ of the Green Bay Packers intercepts the game’s final pass and runs for 32-yards to seal the 21-14 victory for the Packers against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America ….

(8) Quarterback Jay Cutler (6 ) of the Chicago Bears celebrates his six-yard touchdown run with Devin Hester (23) against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter of the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Johnathan Daniel / Getty Images …….

(9) After a failed coaching experiment four years ago, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, left, is thrilled with the job Mike Smith, right, has done with the team. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …..

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Who’s Going To Protect The Players If The NFL Itself Can’t Do Its Best To Protect Them ?

Who’s Going To Protect The Players If The NFL Itself Can’t Do Its Best To Protect Them ?

It’s becoming extremely difficult to find some reason to give credence to the events that took place on the sidelines of the game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets . The actions of Jets’ strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi and that of a number of players who are on the teams’s injured reserved list . As the Dolphins’ Nolan Carroll raced down the sidelines Alosi made sure that his leg was there to impede Carroll causing him to fall to the ground. Now while an apology has been forthcoming from Alosi , one could clearly see that the move was intentional and not an accident as he was trying to suggest at the time. What might be even more unconscionable is the mere fact that Mike Westhoff the assistant coach to Rex Ryan is now coming to the defense of the beleaguered Alosi and suggesting that the incident was unfortunate mistake by his associate. The question I’d ask of Westhoff would he be of the same opinion were that a Jets’ player and the player in question were Mark Sanchez ? I guess we’ll never know but somehow I do believe that Westhoff and the Jets’ organization would be asking for their pound of flesh with the offender’s head being served up and placed on a silver platter !

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Alosi has since been suspended by the Jets’ organization indefinitely and the NFL is now conducting its own investigation into the incident. Roger Goodell and his office have to do more to stop this sort of irresponsible behavior and furthermore for the players who were on the sidelines at the time of the incident and stated this is done by them all the time, it begs the question why didn’t they speak out at the time of Alosi’s stupidity ? Two of the players who were on the sidelines at the time of the incident have stated that Sal Alosi asked them to be on the sidelines during regular game-time play and to be there as a way of depriving the opposing player room while in motion. Now what I’d like to know is what would have been done had Nolan Carroll been seriously injured during his fall after Alosi’s idiocy ? It’s bad enough that with the repeated injuries such concussions being suffered by a number of players after rather dubious plays in some instances we now have the NFL coming and imposing fines upon the players who are actually enacting these hits. To date the Pittsburgh Steelers’ ____ James Harrison has been penalized to the tune of $125,000 and it’d be fair to say that before season’s end that sum could rise exponentially.

Those of us who may well have seen the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles will have witnessed the mind numbingly physicality of the game between the two teams and there were several hits aimed at Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick . The player who has been having a tremendous season to the extent that he’s now the top vote getter in the NFL for the Pro Bowl . That asides those hits and the fact that they were not called leads me to believe that Vick was fair game for the Cowboys’ defensive players . Were that say, Tom Brady , Peyton Manning , Philip Rivers or Drew Brees I do believe that the referees officiating the game would have called the penalties …….. roughing the passer ! But invariably the calls were not made even in light of the fact that many of the hits were most definitely after the play. It’s now being left to the league and certain officials after a game to determine what’s fair concerning a hit by a player on another player on the opposing team . If there’s no consistency by the officials officiating during a game then how can anyone believe that a decision made after the result has been determined makes things right ? If anything by perception alone this smacks of incompetency and sheer stupidity on the part of the NFL . But as Goodell’s office now determines what they deem to be appropriate then I guess that the focus and mindset within the game somehow changes in terms of the competitiveness of players and how to some extent a game will be determined.

We all know that the NFL is a ‘star driven league’ that’s essentially about the pre-eminent faces there and in this case those stars are inevitably the highly prized and well known quarterbacks around the game . As I alluded to earlier, the likes of Brady , Manning , Rivers and Brees are well protected by the officials and I’ve no doubt that this is being done at the behest of the commissioner’s office. The Green Bay Packers’ ___ Aaron Rodgers has now suffered his second concussion in as many months this season and is probable for the team’s —— game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts . That being said without Rogers at the helm the Packers’ season could very well go up in smoke as they’re fighting for not only a playoff berth but also with the possibility of winning the NFC North . Things are tightening up within the NFC and it could very well be that the Green Bay Packers who were heavily favored as a playoff contender will now be on the outside looking in.

Speaking of quarterbacks isn’t it now time for Brett Favre to put an end to this farce and the possibility of him now returning to play the final three games of the Minnesota Vikings’ season ? As bad as things have been for the Vikings this season much of it has come about as Favre has seemingly fallen apart not only professionally but also privately , as there’s still an open ongoing investigation into the allegations that the player had sent sexually explicit pictures to Jenn Sterger a former New York Jets’ employee. If that wasn’t enough Favre has admitted to sending explicit messages to Sterger but states that pictures allegedly of him are in fact of someone else. Commissioner Goodell has stated that he’s close to making a decision concerning the player’s actions and that it will be in line with the league’s personal conduct policy. At best Favre would be looking at a suspension and perhaps some form of rehab which to my mind is all too little, too late considering the nature of the player’s actions and the fact that he’s married man, a father and grandfather. The league is all about its image but the fact of the matter is when it comes to doing what’s appropriate they continue to come up short repeatedly. It’s as if at times the league condones misogyny and acts such as this which are so egregious and unlawful. It now begs the question also why weren’t law enforcement officials brought in to investigate this matter when it first came to the fore ? This has been one story that Favre and the NFL wishes would go away.

The season itself now has come down to a number of teams looking to remain consistent and those looking for a backdoor into the playoffs. I’d recently suggested to a patron of my site that I felt it was ludicrous that we could very well see a team from either of the AFC West or NFC West win their division with a sub .500 record . And far be it for me to suggest but when that happens and a team with a much better record within the conference is denied a place merely because of a divisional winner’s record that to my mind smacks of stupidity ! And inasmuch as the league deems it a fair system there is nothing at all on appearance that is really fair. It’s all a matter of perception and what the league itself wishes as a proponent of the present format.

Rich McKay who’s the President of the Atlanta Falcons has proposed that the league re-seeds the teams once the regular season is over and wherein teams with a better record than those of a divisional winner within their respective conferences are given a higher seeding and home field advantage. This isn’t as complex as it might first sound but there are a number of detractors of McKay’s proposal and the fact that those teams who’d be affected aren’t entirely with these changes. But to my mind these changes would be far more beneficial to the league and for the fans but as we know the league has an aversion to change in a number of ways. Change is normally seen as being good but somehow I feel that at this moment in time the NFL would rather be at a standstill as it deals with a number of other obligations. Case in point they are no further along in their negotiations with the NFLPA and DeMaurice Smith the Executive Director of the union. And one would have thought that speeding up the labor negotiations and coming to an amicable agreement would be a great deal easier given the things at stake and possible loss of goodwill amongst the fans. In many ways I view the NFL hierarchy , owners and players as top heavy bureaucracy that’s laden with a group of idiots at all levels from the top on down.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the NFL , the season and how the direction that things seem to be going for a number of teams around the league ? Chime in with a comment on your thoughts and views .

😛

Alan aka tophatal …………………… 🙂

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Sasha-XXL

Eye candy ………… Sasha . The month of June’s eye candy from XXL Magazine.
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Kimbella

The delectable Kimbella !. Is there anymore that needs to be said about her at this juncture ?

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It Was One Hell of A Coming Home Party But He’ll Take The Win Anyway …………..

The once much despised, Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles came to town to face off against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, in Atlanta, in a pivotal NFC match-up. Week 13 in the NFL brought about several story lines that might have been well worth paying attention to. But nonetheless, for the fans of Michael Vick and to a lesser extent the fans of the Atlanta Falcons, this was a chance to see their former idol return to the city and organization that he once lauded over but then brought so much shame and disgust to.

Atlanta, Ga,. December 6th 2009. Michael Vick (#7) of the Philadelphia Eagles passes for a completion against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 6, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  picture appears  courtesy of Getty Images/ Kevin C. Cox .....
Atlanta, Ga,. December 6th 2009. Michael Vick (#7) of the Philadelphia Eagles passes for a completion against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 6, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. picture appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Kevin C. Cox .....

And for Falcons’ owner, Arthur Blank, this must’ve been a return as such that he’d rather have not be a part of. He’d vested a great deal of time, money and effort in the player , he once believed in and trusted greatly to steer his franchise to success and prosperity. Instead , Vick , seemingly treated Blank and the entire Falcons’ organization with so much disdain with his dishonesty and irrational behavior. That one feels hard pressed to see how he can be forgiven for those misdeeds.

The game itself was fraught with danger, as neither side could really afford to lose. In doing so, it’d make the likelihood of either gaining a playoff berth that more difficult. The Eagles at (8-4) were looking to stay in close proximity of the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) atop of the NFC East. While the Atlanta Falcons (6-6) just didn’t want to lose ground in the NFC South and the wildcard berth proceedings . Either way the game had to played and someone had to turn out to be a winner and no doubt there had to be a loser. The script for this particular wouldn’t be cliche ridden with angst or anything else besides. It was meant to be just your typical ‘run of the mill display’ by two teams with playoff ambitions.

Quintin Mikell (#27) of the Philadelphia Eagles tackles Roddy White (#84)) of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 6, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  picture appears courtesy of  Getty Images/ Kevin C. Cox .......
Quintin Mikell (#27) of the Philadelphia Eagles tackles Roddy White (#84)) of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 6, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. picture appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Kevin C. Cox .......

What the game between the Eagles and Falcons ended up being however , was a chance for Vick to showcase his skills and remind the Falcons and their fans what they were missing. Never mind the fact, that the Falcons now had their own hero , in sophomore quarterback,Matt Ryan, who unfortunately wasn’t suited up for the team on the day. Ryan was unable to play for the team, due to an injury. In his place was backup quarterback , Chris Redman. An able understudy but he’s no Matt Ryan , by any stretch of the imagination.

The game itself was won decisively by the Eagles , with a rather lopsided resulting victory 34-7. Now the Eagles essentially hold their destiny in their own hands. Whereas, for the Atlanta Falcons theirs is a situation that now becomes even more increasingly difficult for the likelihood of them making the playoffs altogether. For Michael Vick on the other hand, the homecoming while celebratory in nature. I’d dare say he’d take the victory and quickly depart out of town !

So are there still many people riding on the coattails of the Brett Favre bandwagon at this present moment in time ? I know that ESPN’s , Mark Schlereth tends to prematurely ejaculate the moment Brett Favre’s name is mentioned, no matter in what context. So much so, that it’s probably a running joke between he and his fellow ESPN colleague,Chris Mortensen.

Glendale , Az,. December 6th 2009. Head coach Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings reacts as he walks the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 30-17. picture appears courtesy  of  Getty Images/ Christian  Petersen .....
Glendale , Az,. December 6th 2009. Head coach Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings reacts as he walks the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 30-17. picture appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Christian Petersen .....

For coach, Brad Childressand the Minnesota Vikings, there’s a great deal riding on this season. Albeit , that Favre was signed by the organization to a two year, $25 million contract. To say that anything short of winning the Superbowl this would be a great understatement for the team and its most devoted fans. This is the year that they believe that the stars are aligned for them to win it all. And if they should fail to do so, then all fingers will be pointed directly towards Childress and indirectly at Favre, as well.

 Quarterback Brett Favre (#4) of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after a first quarter touchdown during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 30-17.  picture appears courtesy of  Getty Images/ Christian  Petersen ............
Quarterback Brett Favre (#4) of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after a first quarter touchdown during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 30-17. picture appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Christian Petersen ............

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

Warner, Cardinals dominate Favre, Vikings 30-17

By Bob Baum , AP Sports Writer

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—That “kid” Kurt Warner got the best of old-timer Brett Favre on Sunday night.

Warner, a mere 38 to Favre’s 40, threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns and the Arizona Cardinals’ defense stifled Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in a stunningly one-sided 30-17 victory.

“They played like they were in the Super Bowl last year,” Favre said, “and we obviously have to play better if we want to be the team that’s in the Super Bowl this year.”

Favre set an NFL record for consecutive appearances, but game No. 283 in a row was no night to remember for him or the rest of the Vikings (10-2). Favre, with just three interceptions in the first 11 games, was picked off twice and sacked three times.

“I made some decisions that I haven’t made up to this point,” he said, “and I’m disappointed about it.”

Even more startling, Arizona (8-4) held Adrian Peterson to a season-low 19 yards in 13 carries and outrushed Minnesota 113-62.

“It was just physical up front and making the tackle,” Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett(notes) said. “It was great team tackling.”

The victory, coupled with San Francisco’s loss at Seattle, gives Arizona a three-game lead in the NFC West. The Cardinals can clinch the division title with a victory at San Francisco a week from Monday night.

Favre had two touchdown passes, but the second, a 31-yarder to Percy Harvin(notes), came with 1:20 to go and the game out of reach. Favre was 30 of 45 for 275 yards.

“I’m pretty sure everybody is going to talk about what Brett Favre did wrong,” Dockett said, “how Brett did this wrong and that wrong, but not talk about how our defense stood up today. We’re going to stay humble, though, because we are going to play that team again.”

Things got worse for the Vikings when linebacker E.J. Henderson(notes) broke his leg late in the game. Coach Brad Childress said the injury would require surgery.

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Brad Childress and his coaching staff felt that Brett Favre was the missing piece to the puzzle that would enable the team to get over that proverbial hump and contend with ‘the elite’, within the NFL. And though there were considered ‘the class’ of the NFC and world beaters. Having started off fast out of the gate ripping of ten straight wins. The Vikings of late have been looking anything but the world beaters that the pundits and their fans believe them to be. And for the likes of Schlereth , Mortensen and it appears ESPN’s reigning ‘buffoon in waiting’, Jon Gruden. The continued ‘lovefest’ for Favre, goes unabated. Even with Gruden , himself, using the adjectives that the the Vikings are ‘the best and most balanced team in the NFL’. Anything that Gruden gives credence to , ought to be tempered by his so called success with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A lone Superbowl win and thereafter , abject failure and draft picks for the Buccaneers’ organization that are as worthless as the share price of Citigroup. (At close of business Friday, their share price $4-01 per share)

Well, on Sunday, we got to see how Favre and the Vikings would do against Ken Whisenhunt‘s Arizona Cardinals. Last year’s NFC representative in the Superbowl , has once again got the NFC West, all to themselves. The division has a moribund group of teams, with the Cardinals appearing to be the lone exception to the rule. And this is a team that is deep in talent and when on top of their game , there as good as anyone offensively and that’s with due credit to the New New Orleans Saints.

While the raves by Messr’s Gruden , Mortensen and Schlereth as to how good this Vikings’ team is and how versatile and well balanced they are. Sunday’s evidence did nothing to support that at all. One wonders if Gruden and his colleagues are looking at the Vikings through rose colored glasses or quite possibly the love-fest for Favre border on homo-erotic tendencies ? Because I’ve yet to hear them post one critical comment concerning this team even when they’ve played poorly. It’s as if it were all an aberration as far as they’re concerned. Now I understand why it is that the outlet is hard pressed to find decent on air talent. They tend to value style and gimmicks over actual substance !

Sunday night the Vikings were found wanting and were exposed a flawed team on both sides of the ball. Instead of them being able to ride rough-shod over the Arizona Cardinals. Instead it was the other way around. And with seemingly another ageless wonder in Cardinals’ quarterback,Kurt Warner, proving to be more than Brett Favre’s equal. As a matter of fact, he made Favre look ever so pedantic and way beyond his forty years of age ! And the Vikings as a whole were completely out of touch as they were man-handled by the Arizona Cardinals.

Kurt Warner (#13)) of the Arizona Cardinals prepares to snap the ball during the NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 30-17. picture appears courtesy of  Getty Images/ Christian Petersen ....
Kurt Warner (#13)) of the Arizona Cardinals prepares to snap the ball during the NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 30-17. picture appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Christian Petersen ....

The resultant 30-17 shellacking that the Viking suffered in defeat, at the hands of the Cardinals. Well, it may well have some wondering if at all it was worth the ordeal of bring in Favre ,should they fail to make it to the Superbowl. One thing for sure, if they Minnesota Vikings fails to do so . Then there’s no telling what Favre’s demeanor will be at the end of the day.Him ,then contemplating retirement once again would be about as welcoming to the Vikings’ organization as Paris Hilton entering medical school to study to become a cardio-thoracic surgeon. Stranger things have been known to have happened. And given Favre’s track record over the last few years. I wouldn’t for one minute doubt that he’d contemplate retirement once again. Especially in light of blame that’d be apportioned his way, with the impending failure of the Minnesota Vikings.

Say what you want about Brett Favre but no one, absolutely no one panders to the cameras and seeks the public’s empathy the way that he does ! He craves it more than life itself !