So you think you know sports ?

So you think you know sports ?

 

Well, with the Superbowl slowly approaching and the two participants from the AFC and NFC now in preparation for the NFL’s showcase event. Away from these preparations , we have a litany of news surfacing concerning a number of the league’s franchises. Outside , what appears to be an idiotic remark by Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton interjecting the issue race into the mix, with his stating being a ‘ black quarterback’ in the NFL makes him a target for criticism. I beg to differ Cam, what will make you a target for criticism for the NFL and analysts in general , would be the issue of the Panthers performing poorly and the team not winning. The fact of the matter has been , the Carolina Panthers reeled off fourteen consecutive wins during the regular season , with the team’s only loss coming at the hands of their divisional rivals the Atlanta Falcons.

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Cam Newton for his part through much of the season played at a consistently high level and had several career firsts during the season as well as career records . Head coach Ron Rivera has to be entirely happy with what he saw from his team as they ended the regular season posting a 15-1 record, best in the NFL. Carolina’s opponent for the Superbowl game on the 7th February will be the Denver Broncos , who will be led by their veteran quarterback Peyton Manning. For those questioning Manning’s ability this season , they should consider the fact for much of the year the player was playing injured , something his critics obviously overlooked with their rather asinine prognostication and claiming Manning player was past his prime and his playing days were in fact over. Peyton Manning simply does what he does best and that is to answer those critics by leading the team into the postseason and unto another Superbowl appearance, the third of his career and the second for the Broncos in the last five seasons .

This game is the match-up the fans and analysts undoubtedly wanted to see, with the two best teams in the league vying for the Lombardi Trophy. Carolina are likely to be viewed as slight favorites in the game by the odds-makers in Las Vegas. Gambling on the’ big game’ should run into several hundred million dollars , if not at least one billion or more.

The fiftieth edition of the Superbowl and this is the game the NFL wants to be seen as the event which takes them into the latter half of the decade , with the fans expecting a great deal more. The league and its’ major corporate sponsors will be looking to this game to be a tremendous success competitively and from a commercial standpoint.

The NFL hierarchy has granted permission to the St Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers to relocate to the greater Los Angeles area. Rams’ owner , billionaire real estate and sports’ mogul Stanley Kroenke having bought a vast track of real estate in the town of Industry , California , will now be looking to both municipalities , Industry and the city of Los Angeles to finance a stadium, which will house a proposed new venue for the NFL franchise . While fans of the Rams rejoice about the return of the NFL to the city of Los Angeles , I seriously doubt they are intelligent enough to realize that ramifications involved , both cities proposing the use of taxpayers’ funds for the building of a new stadium for a billionaire who is among the four hundred richest people in America as well as being among the list of billionaires with a net worth exceeding $5 billion . The cities of Industry and Los Angeles still have their fiscal budgetary woes and the league hierarchy likely pressing both cities to facilitate their financing of a new stadium for the St Louis Rams. Stanley Kroenke has not been totally upfront on his proposals , other than to state stadium and the surrounding area will see an aesthetic use of the land with a mixture of commercial and residential use surrounding the $1 billion stadium.

The Spanos family, owners of the San Diego Chargers have not stated categorically, they will relocate the Chargers’ franchise, but all signs seems to be the pointing to the fact , with their negotiations with the city of San Diego at an impasse , their only alternative would be the move to Los Angeles.

The Oakland Raiders after another unfulfilling season in the league , have now sought to make themselves part of the NFL news’ cycle , with front office having met with officials from the city of Las Vegas to discuss their moving the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas. Over the past two-and-a-half decades the Raiders have long felt the city of Los Angeles has been theirs by territorial right, albeit the franchise has remained noncompetitive since 2004 and have not made a postseason appearance since their loss in the Superbowl to the Tamp Bay Buccaneers . In the ensuing years the Raiders have been a joke and through a string of head coaches since Bill Callahan took the team to their last Superbowl appearance.

Mark Davis as the owner of the Oakland Raiders has remained impervious to the criticism leveled at him by the fans and analysts alike and with each passing season of abject failure , there appears to be no real signs of improvement from any member of the team. Derek Carr was seen as something of a savior for the franchise , but in reality , he cannot do it all by himself and as a quarterback , as he has yet to attain the leadership skills sought to lead the Raiders where they need to be. Carr and the Oakland Raiders were not competitive enough to be viewed as a significant contender within the AFC West or AFC throughout much of this past season. Davis’ reasons for wanting to relocate the Raiders stems from greed and the fact the league hierarchy under Roger Goodell , have never looked favorably on his wish to have the sole territorial rights for the greater Los Angeles area , going unchallenged as the sole NFL franchise within Los Angeles. The NFL would have to grant their blessing for a proposed move by the Oakland Raiders and that is unlikely to happen in time for the upcoming 2016-17 season and so in all likelihood, such a move might not take place for at least another two years .

As baseball enters its silly off-season of movers and shakers among the executives , owners and agents negotiating contracts for free agents and players in arbitration , an interesting morsel of baseball historical news was revealed . Trades and free agent acquisitions have taken place at a fairly rapid pace , with several players signing lucrative deals during this off-season. Yet I believe the biggest news to hit the cycle to hit the world of baseball was the announcement that Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Piazza were to be the two players inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame for the class of 2016. Both players I believe were thoroughly deserving of this illustrious privilege , the highest honor possible for a player outside their winning a World Series’ ring. Future Hall of Fame eligible players for 2017 and 2018 are those who have met the eligibility requirements or those from the past, who will be appearing on ballot as a repeat eligible player .

With each passing year baseball seems to find itself dealing with some form of controversy or this never-ending idiocy of either the MLB hierarchy dumb-founded fans talking about Major League Baseball expansion. Were it not for the fact the hierarchy continues to be so damn clueless , along with the vast majority of the game’s fans and their not realizing the vast majority of the teams are barely financially viable , but yet the talk of expansion continues to raise its ugly head. For the Tampa Bay Rays having seen their hopes dashed repeatedly for a chance to build a new stadium within the city of St Petersburg or the greater Tampa area , as the franchise now appears to be on the verge of leaving the state altogether. Clearly the powers that be , among the civic dignitaries for cities of St Petersburg and Tampa cannot justify or explain to their residents, a thoroughly good reason why public funding should be used to build a stadium for a franchise whose attendance levels have continued to sit among the bottom half of baseball’s thirty teams.

At no time during the Rays’ two decade plus existence has the franchise ever seen those figures be ranked among the top-ten clubs within baseball’s attendance levels . The game is barely viable as a sport during the regular season for the two professional teams within the state of Florida , with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins struggling to remain competitive as well as seeing an upswing in attendance. The game of baseball is barely viable as a sport during the regular season for the two professional teams within the state of Florida , with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins struggling to remain competitive as well as seeing an upswing in attendance.

Baseball only remains relevant within the state of Florida during the Spring Training schedule , because of the abundance of teams who make use of the state for their Spring Training habitat and schedule.

So as the NBA season meanders along we are beginning to see the continued mediocrity of the teams , who are simply fighting to play themselves into contention for a Draft Lottery pick. The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers continue to vie for the worst record in the entire league and with good reason, given the mediocrity seen with their continued play. The Eastern Conference remains abundant with its ineptitude and far be it for me to suggest , but anyone who still believe the Cleveland Cavaliers are even remotely capable beating the top five teams in the West Conference over a seven-game series , then those fans of the Cavaliers had better think long and hard as to how good they believe Cleveland to be.

LeBron James might not have played a part in David Blatt’s firing, but after it was revealed his relationship with Blatt’s successor Tyronn Lue went beyond a head coach , player relationship , one has to wonder what were the behind the scene maneuvers which led to David Blatt’s downfall and his firing by GM David Griffin . The Cleveland Cavaliers will be back on court when they take on the Detroit Pistons on Friday evening , 29th January , 2016.

I have never been convinced the NBA has ever sought to be truly tough on their players, when it comes to reprehensible behavior ! Granted, David Stern might well point to the fact , Latrell Sprewell was fined and suspended for his now well chronicled altercation with P J Carlessimo and then we have the idiocy of Gilbert Arenas and his former teammate Javaris Crittenton trying to prove their manhood , by drawing their guns in the locker rooms of the Washington Wizards as a way of resolving an argument over a gambling debt. Suffice to say beyond that idiocy , we also have to deal with the widespread homophobia and misogyny constantly at play within the NBA . Need we forget also, the league hierarchy’s poor response to Donald Sterling’s ignorant racial rants which took time for the league to deal with in a timely manner. What else would you expect of a hierarchy ran by a group of predominantly aging Caucasian males who preside over the upper echelons of the NBA ?

There are teams we know in the NBA who are seen as perennial contenders within this league and among them one might consider the Los Angeles Clippers to be among the elite teams . However, in light of the news Blake Griffin will be missing from the team’s lineup for the next five weeks , one has to wonder what the player was thinking when he got into an altercation with Mathias Testa , an equipment manager with the Clippers’ organization. Griffin has since issued an apology on Twitter apologizing to his fans and the Los Angeles Clippers for his conduct. This is not the first time Griffin’s temper has gotten the better of him and the player’s lack of maturity must now come into question and what his loss may well mean to the team in the coming weeks.

Doc Rivers , as the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers appears to be more concerned with the loss of the player . rather than Griffin’s conduct and the fact neither he, the Clippers or the league have seen fit to take action against the player. What this suggests about the NBA and perhaps the Clippers to lesser extent , is the feeling unless a player has committed and charged with a a felony , then he should be treated with ‘kid gloves’ and the presumption of innocence. However, when one takes into account a repeat offender as is the case with Blake Griffin, then you have consider the hypocrisy of the league and the Los Angeles Clippers at this juncture.

With the All Star Game a little over two weeks away it will be interesting to see how the teams position themselves for the second half of the season and their continued ambitions over the remainder of the schedule.

With the first Grand Slam Tournament of ATP Tour and WTA entering its final phase it has been interesting to note the speed with which the ATP hierarchy has shrugged off the claims of their being widespread gambling within the world of Men’s Tennis and that certain players had been paid to “ throw matches” . In a report actually commissioned by Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) which governs the men’s sport , they went on to state that the evidence was inconclusive but they would take it under advisement pending a meeting of their Executive Committee before issuing a formal statement. The fact that sixteen of the world’s top fifty players were named in this report, should be a cause for concern, not only among the fans of the game but also for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) but also the IOC (International Olympic Committee) .

Novak Djokovic the world number one among the Men’s Rankings has seen his name associated with this report and the player has acknowledged the fact that early in his career he had been approached to throw a game , which in the end he refused to do.

The Australian Open has always been the first official Grand Slam Tournament on the tennis schedule for the game’s calendar year. Many of the world’s top-ranked men and women will be competing at the event in Melbourne , Australia , with the Men’s Finals taking place on Sunday and the Women’s Finals on Saturday afternoon. This two-week event takes its toll on the players both mentally and physically because of the humidity and heat which remains constant throughout the tournament . Serena Williams will be looking to make a successful start to the season as she once again looks to possibly rewrite tennis history.

Serbian. Novak Djokovic a five-time champion at the Australian Open will simply be looking to solidify his position atop of the Men’s Rankings and win his sixth title at this particular event. The story itself concerning gambling within the sport of tennis is nothing new , but what might be considered unnerving has been the fact the ATP hierarchy has not taken the claims of the investigation seriously, albeit , in the past , at least three players within the rankings have either been fined or suspended after allegations were proven that they had thrown matches for financial gain , to the benefit of the illegal bookmakers bribing the players in the match fixing.

Tennis alongside , professional soccer on the continent of Europe, has long been a target of not only organized crime and their involvement with gambling on sports , but there are claims now being made , many of these criminal enterprises and syndicates would like to ultimately make their way across the Atlantic, get a firm foothold in North America and a piece of the multi-billion dollar gambling industry which takes place here, covering the entire gamut of sports at the collegiate and professional level. We know from years past, illegal wagering and the shaving of points , have taken place within the world of College Basketball . Within College Football and the NFL , one could make allegations , there too , such activity might well have been widespread , but as we know , it is not something the NCAA or the NFL would like to discuss openly in public.

From my own perspective with their being so much money awash within the world collegiate sports and at the professional level , claims of match fixing . corruption and bribery will always be common place and no matter how much oversight is said to be taking place , somewhere and somehow those involved will always be able to find a way to elude the very people said to be overseeing the sport. Does anyone truly believe the sport of boxing remains clean and is still above reproach given the lack of oversight by the numerous international governing bodies now presiding over the sport ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit on the points raised within this article.

Tophatal ….. 01/29/2016

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Pick your poison …..

Pick your poison …

The NFL season has proven to be a great deal more than many would be willing to admit and now the consensus and debate is whether or not Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton is a deserving winner of this year’s NFL League MVP. From my standpoint , with Newton having led the Panthers to an unbeaten 14-0 season , with two games left to be played . It would take an idiot to bet against the player and his possibly leading them as only the second franchise in NFL history to go unbeaten during the NFL’s sixteen-game regular season schedule. There might well be a sense of foreboding , with the fact the last team do so, the New England , having gone 16-0 , would then fall to the New York Giants in the Superbowl .

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Ron Rivera and his coaching staff have the team playing some explosive football, with Carolina being impressive all season-long with their statistics bearing this out. Yet, this has all been a collective effort from just about every player on the roster. From the rookies to the seasoned veterans , everyone has somehow played a part in what has become a historic run for the Panthers. With two games left to the regular season schedule, it will be very interesting to see how Carolina continues to navigate their season. Singular glory asides, I believe Cam Newton would rather lead the Panthers to their first appearance and victory in the Superbowl ! Newton has performed admirably throughout the season , having set career-bests and now placing himself as a dual-threat and not what one would deem to be the NFL prototypical quarterback .

Passing league or not , the NFL is in need of a player to assume the mantel soon to be relinquished by the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees . Granted , Aaron Rodgers to my mind , has been the best quarterback in the league over the past six seasons has proven himself to be among the elite players at the position and is slowly carving out a career which will likely see him inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio upon his being eligible.

Having gotten the better of the New York Giants in their most recent game , the Panthers defeated the Giants in a close and highly contested contest . The two NFC stalwarts gladiatorial in the contest with it being highly physical. Though Carolina Panthers were victorious , the game will certainly be remembered for the thug-like antics of Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr , whose infantile behavior and lack of maturity , is showing him in a negative light. Throughout much of the game , Beckham was constantly under pressure from Panther’s defensive player Josh Norman and with the receiver having dropped a number of passes thrown his way by teammate Eli Manning, it was easy to understand Beckham’s frustration. However, what was totally abhorrent, was Odell Beckham’s attempt in trying to decapitate the Panther’s defensive back during the game.

While we all know taunting is prevalent during games between opposing players during NFL games , what is now becoming a regular occurrence. is the continued taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct. Beckham was given one-game suspension for his conduct , while Norman went unpunished for his conduct. If the league hierarchy cannot deal with such issues aggressively and adequately, then the type of behavior shown will continue to be a pattern within the game.

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will seek to keep their fourteen-game winning streak intact when they face the Atlanta Falcons in a divisional road game on Sunday evening . This is a game, which I believe will a lopsided contest favoring the road team , one which could end up rather embarrassingly for the Falcons. Though the Atlanta Falcons leads the series 27-14 with the two teams having met forty-one times over the two decades during which the contests have taken place. In their most recent meetings , it was Carolina winning both games in 2014, with Cam Newton prevailing over his divisional rival.

Matt Ryan , the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback will be expected to lead his team with authority. Something, I now believe he is incapable of doing with any degree of certainty , given Atlanta’s rapid decline this season. Thomas Dimitroff’s position as the general manager is certainly being scrutinized by team owner Arthur Blank and I also believe Ryan’s own long-term future with the franchise is in jeopardy. Granted , the Falcons have a considerable sum invested in their quarterback, who has failed to deliver when it has mattered the most and his dismal season , has only further emphasized the issues which continue to dog Matt Ryan as a player.

If there is a “ call to arms “ , which players are most likely to meet the call and lead by example ? It’s said to be the quarterbacks’ duty to lead and his teammates will likely to follow. Of late , I have a great deal of idiocy surrounding, how Brock Osweiler was meant to be the face and future of the Denver Broncos , much of this having been based one game , where Osweiler led the Broncos to a victory over a disheveled New England Patriots’ team. In the past two weeks Peyton Manning’s understudy has shown the NFL he is not yet ready to actually take over the reins from the future Hall of Fame bound player. Denver for its part , has been struggling in recent games , though their postseason aspirations are not necessarily in jeopardy. One has to wonder , if Brock Osweiler has the temperament to lead the Denver Broncos on a deep playoff run, much less Gary Kubiak being able to show real signs of coaching acumen. Kubiak’s postseason record can be best described as mediocre .

This weekend with the teams lining up for their penultimate game of the regular season schedule , it will be interesting to see the end results will be . The San Diego Chargers will kick off this part of the schedule with a divisional game against the Oakland Raiders , in a contest during which both teams will be looking for some form of salvation. Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos will have a tough game on their and quite possibly be in for a rude awakening, when they meet the Cincinnati Bengals a formidable conference foe . Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be the guests of the New York Jets in what is likely to be seen as a “ must-win game” for the Jets. There is a very meaningful game taking place on Sunday afternoon, when the Washington Redskins take on the Philadelphia Eagles , with the victor likely in the driver’s seat concerning the destination of the NFC East divisional title. All that you might well need to concerning the division, is that it remains one of the worst in the entire NFL.

Chip Kelly as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach has presided over the steady decline of the franchise since his being introduced as its head coach . A lone postseason appearance coming in 2013, saw the Eagles fall in the wildcard round of the NFL postseason in a game against the New Orleans Saints led by their quarterback Drew Brees.

A Philadelphia Eagles’ loss and we might as well begin to ask how long before team owner Jeff Lurie makes the decision to fire both Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman ? Clearly, the two inspire about as much confidence as a blind man playing hopscotch in the middle of a mine-field. We know stuff gets blown up , but Roseman has countenanced every dumb move made by Kelly , allowing the head coach unparalleled latitude with his decision-making concerning the team’s roster . Chip Kelly on his best day couldn’t spot NFL talent , much less coach it , if he were given the proper tools to do so. Kelly’s teams in the NFL have lacked finesse and they certainly have no propensity to play defense , but yet there are moronic fools repeatedly jumping to defense, believing him to be a very good NFL head coach. That is about as inspiring as suggesting Roger Goodell has been a great asset to the NFL as its top executive. Goodell has presided over a popular league , but he remains weak and indifferent when dealing with a litany of issues facing the NFL.

Among the top contenders of candidates for this season’s NFL Rookie of The Year , the consensus appears to be Todd Gurley , Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are the best of a really bad bunch of NFL rookies in 2015. All three have had their moments this season in the NFL, but the trio also play on very bad teams who are not even in contention for even their divisional titles much less a postseason berth . I would also throw in Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders , but again as before, he is playing on an exceptionally bad team. While I get the fact the award to reward a player for their season-long contributions achievements within the league during their rookie season. I can’t help but feel, rewarding so-called excellence when your team just happens to be bad , is nothing more than giving a child a lollipop after they have finished in the bottom-half of a Spelling Bee Competition !

Would you also like to have some cheese with your wine and continued whining ? There has to be something said when three NFL quarterbacks, having signed multi-million dollar deals have put together a string of performances this season that have you feeling depressed and the thought beyond their being overpaid, you could actually do better. Joe Flacco , Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler are three such quarterbacks, where the blame can be in part be laid for the abysmal seasons of the Baltimore Ravens , San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears . Obviously , all three teams will be in action during week sixteen with the Ravens taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers , the Forty Niners facing the Detroit Lions and the Bears taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of these games given their status, should prove to be eventful and at the samepoint last season teams were in the waning moments of their respective schedules.

Head coaches in some cases are coaching with job-survival being on the line and there is no doubt in my mind , we are likely to see several coaching turnovers during the off-season. Jim Caldwell is likely on the “outs “ with the Detroit Lions and similar fates could also await Mike Pettine, Bill O’Brien , Chip Kelly , Jim Tomsula and Sean Payton . It remains to be seen whether or not , Jerry Jones will finally admit the Jason Garrett era must finally come to an abrupt end after another disastrous season by the Dallas Cowboys .

Jason Garrett will prepare the team for their road game against the Buffalo Bills , where Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan is facing an internal mutiny among his players after their lackluster season and not understanding Ryan’s often blurred coaching strategies. It seems almost nonsensical to suggest the number of stories written concerning the calls for Jason Garrett’s dismissal or calls simply for Jerry Jones to relinquish his position as the Cowboys’ general manager. The loss of Tony Romo due to injury , simply added to the Dallas’ woes for the season and essentially place the team on their current path to one of their worst finishes in franchise history in recent seasons. . Jerry Jones is unlikely to be forced to heed the calls for Garrett’s firing , as it would simply prove his mistake in hiring the incumbent head coach as the successor to Bill Parcells .

For Sean Payton and the complacency shown by the New Orleans Saints, is slowly emphasizing what we already knew , having won a Superbowl and the aftermath of ‘ Bounty-gate Scandal’ , there was nothing left in the tank and Payton’s coaching acumen was indeed slipping. Take into account the departure of several key players over the last three seasons and you now have to wonder where the Saints can now go from here . The New Orleans Saints are no longer a match for the Carolina Panthers’ and Cam Newton has to be considered the best quarterback in the NFC South , not just based on this season , but also over the past three years. His ascent while Drew Brees’ steady decline seems to be providing us with a stark reality of what is now happening within the division. Sorry Matt Ryan , but you were never going to be part of this equation as you are soft , softer than a baby’s ass a matter of fact ! Brees and the Saints will seek to redeem themselves when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend, as the two teams meet at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in New Orleans , Louisiana , on Sunday afternoon.

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As the regular season comes to a close, which teams do you feel have been a failure and which teams do you believe will be in the hunt for the Superbowl ?

Tophatal …………

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When Push Comes To Shove …… Let ’em Eat Cake ………. !

When Push Comes To Shove …… Let ’em Eat Cake …… !

So the fallout has began in the aftermath of the Boston Red Sox’ s abrupt ending to their season . With that now has come the animus , finger pointing of course the blame game . From the front office on down there is plenty of blame to go around from the executives through to the coaching staff and the gluttony of high priced players on this roster .

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Team President Larry Lucchino and the now departed general manager Theo Epstein had tried to apportion blame solely on former manager Terry Francona rather than the under achieving players such as Josh Beckett , John Lackey , Johnathan Papelbon and David Ortiz . Hints that Francona was going through marital problems , that he’d lost control of the team and the thought that Epstein and Lucchino had to sink to such levels merely to deflect the obvious that plainly put this whole mess was simply caused by their ostentatious spending in acquiring players who simply failed to deliver .

Principal partner John Henry , Tom Werner and their partners now have to deal with general manager search for a successor to Theo Epstein who accepted the offer fill the position vacated by former Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Henry after he was fired team owner Tom Ricketts . The beleaguered organization having not won a World Series since 1908 and they haven’t won an NL pennant since 1945. That sort of ineptitude and lack of success has sorely embittered the long suffering Chicago Cubs’ fans .

This season was once again one filled with sheer ineptitude on the part of the team and Mike Quade and his coaching staff offered very little by way of their managerial acumen in stemming the tide of mediocrity shown on the field of play. Players such as Alfonso Soriano , Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez simply showed that they had nothing to offer the team . Therein lies the actual absurdity of the organization during Hendry’s tenure as they simply overpaid for the acquired talent .

If Theo Epstein is to prove to be the wunderkind that Tom Ricketts believes him to be then the organization can look forward to some semblance of success though not immediate by any stretch of the imagination . This is a roster that needs to be assessed by the general manager and I would dare say that the coaching staff will be summarily judged by him also ! I certainly don’t believe that Mike Quade has the wherewithal to make this team a serious and perennial contender for an NL pennant or for that matter the World Series ! The team’s prospects and farm system has what we are told is an abundance of talent but in debating as to whether or not patience amongst the fans will be further endured as Theo Epstein seeks to turn things around .

Wrigley Field may well be buzzing with excitement during the offseason as the fans , beat writers and local sports analysts debate and prognosticate what they expect to see in the future from the Chicago Cubs. From my own perspective I say let them do whatever it takes for them to feel at ease , after-all what’s another half a decade of ineptitude worth to this organization to begin with ? I mean it’s not as anyone truly believes that this time next season the Cubs could be part of baseball’s postseason showcase to begin with !

So after what we are now being told the NCAA and their exhaustive investigation of Auburn and their football program have found nothing untoward concerning the school’s recruitment of their Heisman Trophy award winning player Cam Newton . Auburn coach Gene Chizik no doubt relieved by those findings and the fact this season the coach and his staff will be looking to get this team up and going as they embark upon their schedule within the SEC .

I am not about to suggest that the NCAA simply whitewashed this investigation but clearly there seems to be something awry with this all . There’s a saying ………” where there’s smoke there is fire ” . And in the case of the Auburn Tigers as it relates to Cam Newton and the continued allegations as to how the player was seemingly recruited by the school has brought into question how a number of programs go about recruiting student athletes. Allegations being what they are when it has been widely reported that Newton’s father Cecil Newton sought to sell ….. his son’s talents to the highest bidder . The elder Newton , pastor of a church , was reticent in explaining the allegations when first raised, as to his actions concerning Cam Newton being shopped around like an illicit weapon on the “black market”.

Auburn’s AD Jay Jacobs after the NCAA’s findings states that he’s completely happy with there were no major transgressions by the program. As crazy as this may seem , if the athletics director believes that minor transgressions are good for the school then what should that indicate about Auburn as a place of academic and sporting excellence ?

If the school moves on from this episode then what I would like to know is how the NCAA handles the next such incident concerning the recruitment of a visibly high profiled athlete. Mark Emmert as the NCAA president has repeatedly seen the body he presided over severely criticized for their lack of authority , real transparency and even the credence to actually be impartial . I will continue to maintain the the institution is archaic , bureaucratically top heavy and seemingly at time out of touch with reality . If the Infractions Committee of the NCAA a de-facto agency of the institution can come up with this finding given the supposed facts and their own apparent in depth investigation I would like to know how it is this very same unit can be so out of touch with the events that are taking place across the entire collegiate athletics landscape . At some point in the future I am wondering what their findings will be concerning the University of Miami and the school’s football program . University president Donna Shalala and school AD Shawn Eichorst have continued to deflect their actions and association with now incarcerated felon Nev Shapiro and the very that the former Canes’ booster had simply flouted his association with the players and paying them surreptitiously . At this juncture should we now expect anything else from the NCAA concerning another charade about to be perpetrated by them ?

Image is everything and then it can mean absolutely but that clearly now seems to be the case for NBA Commissioner David Stern . The league hierarchy is now locked into a really contentious battle of wills with the NBPA (Players’ Association [union]). Stern and his union counterpart Billy Hunter the executive director of the union are at logger-heads in trying to reach an accord that would be beneficial to both parties .

Derek Fisher the union’s president and vice president Roger Mason Jr have been adamant that their union is not about to acquiesce to any of the demands from the league hierarchy and team owners for an equitable share in the league’s revenues . If neither party can come to a compromise then in all probability both sides will have to present their case to federal mediator . If that is to be the case and a court appointed mediator presides over a hearing , which now seems to be a certainty , then any sort of binding agreement could very well be to the detriment of both sides .

If NBA and NBPA seek jointly to present their case to the the FMCS (Federal Mediation & Conciliation Services ) before a mediator where the judgment would doesn’t necessarily have to be arbitrarily binding rather than going through litigation within the US Federal Courts then things could very well be to both parties’ liking . I am not so sure that anything at this juncture by way of any compromise will be truly vested in by either side. David Stern’s intransigence and the very fact that a number of franchise owners have not been entirely happy with his handling of these deliberations gives further credence that it may well be time for him to step down . With almost two decades plus as the league’s commissioner he seen the NBA’s revenues grow exponentially from being a minor blip on the sport’s landscape to where it now ranks second in revenues ($4.5 billion annually) attained of the four major professional sports.

The NBA would like to see an equitable share in revenues rather than the existing ratio of 53/47 in favor of the union . From the outset a case could be made that the owners wanted this all to be dealt with expeditiously but with the teams now said to be on course to lose approximately $ 30 million a month for each month that the league is inactive. Dan Gilbert , Rich DeVos , . Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Gavin_Maloof , Peter Holt , Mickey Arison and James Dolan over the course of time may well feel that the current situation as it now stands cannot go on in its present format . Clearly not when the very viability of the league and a number of franchises are clearly at risk . Some semblance of common sense and sanity now has to come into play at some point during this whole facade if there is to be a regular to season within the NBA .

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Of the points raised within this topic which do you believe to be the most pertinent ? And what thoughts if any do you feel about the NCAA’s findings concerning Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ………

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(1) Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona pauses as he speaks to the media during a press conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, in Boston. The Red Sox announced they will not pick up the option on Francona’s contract in the wake of the team’s September collapse. AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye ….

(2) General manager Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox sits in the dugout before game two of the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays during the at Tropicana Field on October 10, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Florida. According to reports October 12, 2011, Epstein, who has one-year left on his contract with the Red Sox, has agreed with the Chicago Cubs to a five-year $15 million contract to join their front office, but compensation for the deal has not been reached between the two teams. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images …..

(3) Theo Epstein is seen here alongside Terry Francona at Fenway Park , Boston , Massachusetts , home to the fabled ballclub . Getty Images / Matthew Sharpe …..

(4) Red Sox owners Tom Werner (left) and John Henry held up the 2007 World Series trophy for the fans who lined up outside Fenway Park . Boston Globe /Matthew J Lee ……

(5) Carlos Marmol (49) of the Chicago Cubs, right, is congratulated by Koyie Hill (55) after getting the final out during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on September 27, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Cubs won 6-2 . Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images ……

(6) First baseman Carlos Pena (22) of the Chicago Cubs catches the ball as Jeremy Hermida (47) of the San Diego Padres dives back to the base during the game against at Petco Park on September 26, 2011 in San Diego, California. Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images …..

(7) Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry (left) is seen here with the team’s manager Mike Quade (center) and club owner Tom Ricketts. Hendry was relieved of his position as general manager by Ricketts in what as seen as an upheaval within team’s front office . Chicago Tribune/ Mark Salter ….

(8) Auburn coach Gene Chizik walks the sidelines during the first half of the NCAA college football game with Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. Auburn would go on to lose the game to the Razorbacks 38-14 . AP Photo/Danny Johnston ……

(9) CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson (R) and head coach Gene Chizik look on as quarterback Cam Newton (2) of the Auburn Tigers accepts the MVP trophy after their 56-17 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 SEC Championship at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images /Kevin C . Cox ……

(10) Auburn head coach Gene Chizik is seen here the school’s athletics director Jay Jacobs at Chizik’s formal introduction as the new head coach of the football team. An outspoken opponent of Gene Chizik’s hiring at the time was none other than Auburn alum Charles Barkley . AP Photo / Jamie Martin …….

(11) Derek Fisher , president of the NBA players union, talks with reporters, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, in New York. NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the basketball season after players and owners were unable to reach a new labor deal to end the lockout. AP Photo/David Karp …….

(12) NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, and his Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver leave an NBA labor talk meeting, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, in New York. Stern canceled the first two weeks of the basketball season after players and owners were unable to reach a new labor deal to end the lockout. Opening night was scheduled for Nov. 1. AP Photo/David Karp ……

(13) Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players union, arrives for labor talks, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, in New York. Facing a Monday deadline to reach a deal or have regular-season games canceled, NBA owners and players have resumed talks toward ending the lockout. AP Photo/Louis Lanzano ……

(14) San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt arrives for labor talks, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, in New York. Facing a Monday deadline to reach a deal or have regular-season games canceled, NBA owners and players have resumed talks toward ending the lockout. AP Photo/Louis Lanzano …….

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Game 5 ALCS

Texas Rangers Tigers —- @ —- Detroit Tigers

Starting pitchers —- C J Wilson — & — Justin Verlander

Game 4 NLCS

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Starting pitchers Randy Wolf — & — Kyle Lohse

Scheduled game 14th October 2011

Milwaukee Brewers —- @ —- St Louis Cardinals

Schedule starters

Zach Greinke —– & —– Jaime Garcia

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I Don’t Drink The Kool Aid Simply Because I Don’t Like It !

I Don’t Drink The Kool Aid Simply Because I Don’t Like It !

I’ve never been one for hyperbole myself but it appears that the analysts of ESPN would rather come out with some of the most asinine statements imaginable simply to create that furor media frenzy needlessly . The Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton is off to a tremendous start as a rookie for the team throwing for over 850 yards in his first two games as a professional . Granted, the number one pick overall in this past NFL Draft has been lauded as the best player available of the talent to be had . Opinions being what they are , there is no denying the player is something special but it’s one thing to show that prowess in the college game , within the NFL it becomes a whole new ball-game altogether .

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Now as much as I respect the analysis provided by these individuals simply brought in to host these shows on ESPN but there comes a time when Chris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson make the statement that Newton should be seen as the “Chosen One “ amongst the players that were recently taken in this past draft . As talented as many believe Cam Newton to be , there is a growing belief that until he becomes more attuned to the NFL and his teammates then there’s no way in hell the Carolina Panthers will be viewed as a success in the NFL . Coach Ron Rivera and his coaching staff are in for an arduous season and though playing as well as can be expected the team has yet to register its first win in the NFL . At 0-2 there is a belief that once having notched that first victory the Carolina Panthers might just be able of acquitting themselves well in enough within their division (NFC South) and the league as a whole .

There’s no doubt that expectations were high for Cam Newton coming out of college given the success attained by the player while attending at Auburn . And now that player has to take his talents to the NFL he’s now being viewed as “The Messiah” and ” Prodigal Son” all rolled into one as the Carolina Panthers seek to become relevant in the NFL once again. Rivera and his staff sought to obtain the best possible talent available in the draft to complement an already experienced roster which has a mix of youth and seasoned veterans .

The Carolina Panthers will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in week three that is bound to be of real interest to the Panthers’ fans. Jacksonville at 1-1 look to be a staunch test with coach Jack Del Rio and his team facing the challenge of taking advantage of the problems that have beset the Indianapolis Colts and make an outright challenge to the now presumed favorites within the division to win the AFC South the Houston Texans (2-0). As to whether or not those teams within the division can actually take advantage of the woes of the Colts remains to be seen .

From my own perspective , I do believe that Cam Newton can be a success within this league but he’s still a work in progress , as too is his Tim Tebow whose current status with the Denver Broncos seems to come into question with each passing week in the league. It simply has become idiotic to witness the sheer ineptitude shown by the front office of the organization led by EVP John Elway . Team owner Pat Bowlem and newly installed coach John Fox have certainly got to address this issue before it gets completely out of hand and sinks this organization to even lower depths than could be imagined . It is bad enough that the team’s incumbent starting quarterback Kyle Orton has performed miserably for the Broncos during the first two games of their season schedule .

Certainly for Tim Tebow , he has done himself no favors with his alleged poor performances during team practices but it seems somewhat hard to be believed . Either that’s simply due to poor coaching by John Fox’s coaching staff and in particular from quarterback’s coach Adam Gase or quite possibly due to the fact Tebow was simply coddled as a player by his former college coach Urban Meyer while the player attended Florida . Now while the fans’ calls seem to be for Tebow to be on the field , one simply cannot be sure that the player is a sure fire guarantee to be the presumed savior of this organization . Draft choices asides and the organization’s history in that field , it has been troubling to see the Denver Broncos struggle to make their presence felt within the NFL .

The Denver Broncos for their part have had something of an inauspicious start to the season with a 1-1 record within the AFC West where they sit jointly atop of the division alongside the Oakland Raiders , San Diego Chargers with the winless Kansas City Chiefs seated as the cellar dweller in a hapless division. Kyle Orton and the Broncos next play a conference game against the Tennessee Titans in a match-up that should tell us a great deal about the temperament of this Broncos’ team under the leadership of John Fox and his coaching staff.

Perhaps it’s me but with the NCAA —- football season now up and running is now filled with more scandal than collegiate athletics would willingly care to admit . With Butch Davis having been fired the school ( UNC[ Tar Heels]) is now having to endure multiple sanctions for violating NCAA rules with regard to recruitment violations and several other transgressions that the school’s now former AD Dick Baddour has seen fit to address before stepping down in his role . I am not about to suggest that this will be the last time that we will hear or bear witness to such indiscretions across the collegiate sports landscape . Suffice to say …… where there’s smoke there is fire and there are several schools at present in college sports either fanning the flames or simply looking to put out those flames because of their incendiary nature . Think Ohio State , Miami Hurricanes , Oregon and Boise State and USC (Trojans) ? Let’s just say that until the landscape is cleaned up with any sense of urgency we will continue to see such malfeasance on the part of these schools . Never mind that we have the idiocy of college football conferences simply looking to become bigger by luring teams from one conference to another , simply through sheer financial greed . It has absolutely nothing to do with bringing about a competitive balance because as we all know the system is skewered to favor the teams within the major BCS conferences in terms of college football . Anyone who believes otherwise obviously is living in complete denial !

Now while the various polls are now out there ranking the teams within D1 football , I am of the opinion that until we are at the midpoint of the season we will not truly get a true glimpse of how things are about to pan out over the course of the year ! Certainly the rankings seem to bear out what we have longed felt about a number of teams . Oklahoma ( Sooners) , LSU , Alabama , Boise State and Stanford seem to be the standouts this early in the season . And that is with good reason as each of the teams remain unbeaten but as they get into the meat of their schedule I would preface this by saying that one or two of those very same programs are likely to slip up . Whether it this upcoming week or down the line it remains to be seen .

For myself the college football season only becomes really interesting down the stretch of the schedule when everyone seems to be aggrieved once the BCS rankings simply skewers what many of feel to be to be a brokens system and what is wrong with college football to begin with . We know that the minnows of the game will never truly be given the chance to go up against the big boys within college football . Oh , once in a while when the beat writers and fans alike show their resentment , we may well see the subterfuge take place with a proposed match-up of one of those teams on the outside looking in , as they’re given the privilege of playing in one of the lesser tiered Bowl games or BCS games . But God forbid ….. we will ever see the day of seeing the likes of Boise State perhaps taking on Auburn or perhaps Florida for the BCS national championship . What do you think would happen then amongst the likes of conference commissioners or even an idiot such as Ohio State universtity President Dr E Gordon Gee who still believes that a program outside any of the major bowl conferences is not entitled to play for the national title ? I feel that Gee should simply stick to cleaning up what we now know to be an utterly corrupt athletics program , with both he and AD Gene Smith then stepping down in shame ! I mean only these two assholes could still maintain that they were completely unaware as to the deceit , lies and subterfuge that was taking place that was being orchestrated by the program’s former football coach Jim Tressel ! Imagine that ….. ?

Amongst the presumed Heisman Trophy candidates this season the names of Andrew Luck , Landry Jones , Marcus Lattimore , Kellen Moore , Robert Griffin , Trent Richardson and Chris Rainey are being bandied about . And though there may well be justification for those names to be mentioned let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet . It’s still too early in the season to be making these type of prognostications , so give it a while and let things simply play themselves out as the season progresses .

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I know that Kool Aid can be viewed as a great elixir but in reality it’s all down to one’s preference . Do you like it sweet and mixed in with something else or do you simply drink it , as is ? It’s the same with the opinions that tend to be proffered up by the analysts on tv , so simply make of it what you will ? For myself , I tend to like my drinks shaken (preferably with alcohol) and not stirred much as in the same way as that fictional character James Bond does ! Which are you in that context ? Chime in with a comment as you deem fit with regard to the subject matter and anything else you deem to be pertinent .

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

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(1) Seen here from left to right are ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman joined by analysts Mike Ditka , Keyshawn Johnson , Cris Carter and Tom Jackson . courtesy of ESPN …..

(2) CHARLOTTE, NC – SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers takes the field for play against the Green Bay Packers September 18, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Packers would go on to defeat Carolina 30-23 . Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ….

(3) Quarterback Cam Newton (1) of the Carolina Panthers runs for a gain against the Green Bay Packers September 18, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images …..

(4) Fans wear jerseys in support of Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos as the Broncos face the Cincinnati Bengals at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22 . Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images ……

(5) Fans dispaly a sign in support of quarterback Kyle Orton (8) of the Denver Broncos as the Broncos defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 24-22 at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images ……..

(6) Something of an ambiguous sign by fans in support of Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos as the Broncos face the Cincinnati Bengals at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images ……

(7) DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach John Fox of the Denver Broncos watches a video replay during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images ……

(8) Quarterback Kyle Orton (8) of the Denver Broncos fumbles the ball and as he is sacked by Michael Johnson (93) of the Cincinnati Bengals in the third quarter at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The fumble was recovered by Domata Peko (94) of the Cincinnati Bengals as the Broncos defeated the Bengals 24-22. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images …….

(9) Wide receiver Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos tries to avoid cornerback Leon Hall (29) of the Cincinnati Bengals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images ……

(10) Quarterback Andrew Luck (12) of the Stanford Cardinal scrambles to pass during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Wildcats 37-10 . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images ………

(11) Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones (12) fires a first quarter pass during an NCAA college football game against the Florida State Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Tallahassee, Fla. Oklahoma would go on to defeat FSU Seminoles 23-13 Getty Images / Ahmad Kilyan ……

(12) Running back Trent Richardson (3) of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks away from defensive back Ryan Downing (22) of the North Texas Mean Green and defensive back Royce Hill (21) of the North Texas Mean Green for a 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter on September 17, 2011 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Alabama would defeat North Texas 41-0 . Photo by Butch Dill/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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Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

So just when you thought that all that would appear just when we had seen it all concerning the rabid stupidity that exists within collegiate athletics. It would appear that Auburn Tigers’ football coach Gene Chizik is extremely unhappy that the NCAA is still continuing its investigation of the school. Chizik had an impromptu conversation with the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement Judie Loah Roach during which the officer informed the coach that the school and its recruitment of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was still under investigation. As we all know there said to be a number of improprieties concerning the player’s recruitment . The player’s father Cecil Newton is said to still be a person of interest in this ongoing investigation . It’s plain to see that there is a great deal at stake should the school be found to be in violation of any type of NCCA rules . The jury is out and the blow-back from this all could very well be another nail in the coffin of another very prestigious collegiate athletics’ program.

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So the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive player James Harrison is simply proving once again why players from the NFL are better to be seen on the field of play rather than being heard . The player fresh off last season’s numerous fines has become a bona-fide asshole of the highest order ! . In criticizing the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling him “a crook” , “a devil “ , “a tyrant” and an ” autocratic despot “ whose power simply knows no bounds . At the same time the player was also critical of his teammate Ben Roethlisberger and the very fact that the player at times was simply not playing to the best of his abilities and was being reliant on the defense to bail out the team far too often over the course of last season . Pardon me for saying this , but shouldn’t Harrison be the one to voice these opinions behind closed doors amongst his teammates and the coaching staff as it relates to the team’s play ? As to his criticism of the commissioner , once it’s out there it becomes too late to take it all back . And that is now what the player now seems to be doing by stating that his statements were completely taken out of context. I certainly believe that when it’s all said and done if it is not Mike Tomlin who ends up speaking to James Harrison about his comments then quite possibly look a senior official from the front office to hold a private conversation with the player .

The Pittsburgh Steelers has always been an organization that chooses to conduct their problems behind closed doors and to try and make sure that the players as such are of the highest order in terms of their character. It is easy to undersstand why the are considered one of the most respected teams within the NFL and the success achieved in large part has come down to the fact here has been very little volatility within the organization and turnover in terms of the coaching staff. Unfortunately , with the antics of Santonio Holmes , Plaxico Burress and in particular Roethlisberger , his infantile and rather asinine antics over the last few years has led the Rooney family to once again scrutinize the players on the roster. Recently we had the team’s veteran wide receiver Hines Ward busted for DUI and with the player initially stating that wasn’t intoxicated, only for the police to later inform us that Ward was indeed driving over the legal limit . He would later offer an apology to his teammates and the organization for his behavior .

Shit we know rolls downhill but boy , oh boy the NBA and in particular the league hierarchy now looks as if they will try and do anything to shovel it uphill. The hierarchy feels aggrieved that the NBPA (union ) will be allowed to retain the larger part of $160 million from an escrow account that they funded based on the terms that should their cumulative salary exceed 57% of the basketball related income . Now with the teams owners and hierarchy now under siege with their position now looking all the more perilous David Stern seeks into increase their profile and take the upper hand in the ongoing lockout . It would appear that management would seek to impune the integrity of the union. The league feels that the funds in question should be placed back into a general fund rather than be at the players’ disposal . Somehow you simply knew that the league could not be trusted to show any type of integrity at all.

The NBA is still at odds with the players and the fact that they are still asserting that they are losing money. But many of the league’s problems can be traced back to the fact that Stern allowed the teams and in particular the general managers run amok with in terms of the team salaries as they seek success with apparent abandonment . David Stern has long maintained that the teams are on track to lose hundreds of millions of dollars for the fiscal year. Last season’s losses were in excess $300 million and this year it is projected to be considerably higher . It seems rather ridiculous to think that the league having set a soft salary cap in place would then seek to allow those very same teams to far exceed the figure of $57 million and then expect there not to be any serious ramifications for the league’s excessive spending .

It seems rather strange that many of the league’s high profiled owners such as Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Michael Jordan , James Dolan , Peter Holt and Michael Heisley have all remained steadfast behind the commissioner . However , the longer this situation goes on there is the likelihood that we may well begin to see some dissent amongst the owners who may challenge the stance the league hierarchy is taking . From my own perspective , the lockout has become simply an issue of egos and which party feels that their stance appears to be the best option available. At some point this impasse has to be resolved because before we actually know it the preseason training schedule will be upon us. It’s pretty much safe to say that neither side wants to be in this for the long haul and now with a number of players envisioning that this dispute may well be for a prolonged period we are seeing a number of them considering the lucrative option of playing abroad. It certainly will be advantageous for New Jersey Nets’ point guard Deron Williams who has signed a one year $ 5 million contract with the Turkish side Beseitkas.

Unless I missed something which I am glad that I did but the MLB All Star Game had to be one of the most boring in recent memory. Never mind the 5-1 lopsided result and win for the National League but the game had one of the lowest ratings in almost a decade and this can’t have been what Fox actually wanted from the game’s midseason show case event. At the same time the question now being asked is how best the whole format of the All Star Game can be changed where it is more of an exhilarating event not only for the participants but also for the fans in attendance and those watching the broadcast. Given the actual idiocy of the whole damn format with the fans picking the actual players they want to see on the respective rosters makes this whole event all the more asinine to begin with.

Baseball is a sport that in large part looks to its past in terms of its legitimacy and legacy as the nation’s pass-time . But once Bud Selig assumed control as commissioner of the league his reign and the fact that the league hierarchy has essentially become clueless as the most acute needs of the game , it should not have surprised anyone at all as to the outcome of the spectacle. One listless team simply didn’t turn up at all but somehow they were assured of their respective team incentives. The NL simply dished out an ass whupping of the highest order leaving the AL with their tails hanging between their legs . At this point will there anyone at all interested in the fact that next season’s game will be held at the home of the Kansas City Royals ? Well , I guess not ! The league hierarchy much like the team owners have become totally bereft any ideas and creativity when it now comes to the marketing of the game , its brand in general and likewise as it relates to the All Star Game . Tuesday night was very much a clear indication of that and it was there for all to bear witness to !

Well at last someone had the foresight to hire Brian Shaw with the former Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach being overlooked for several of the offseason vacancies that came about . Indiana Pacers’ general manager Larry Bird having interviewed Shaw , hired the former player to be the assistant to Frank Vogel and his staff. Bird has made it clear the new assistant’s role will to teach the players on the Pacers’ roster how best to improve their all-round game . I’ve no doubt that Shaw will prove to be a valuable asset to the team and with being able to provide to a great deal of insight as to what it takes to be successful from a player’s standpoint . If anything this steadies a listless ship and all but assures the team of retaining their best player Danny Granger who could opt to become free agent after the upcoming season.

The Pacers’ organization is flushed with youthful talent but Vogel’s biggest problem has been to harness it all into one cohesive and effective unit. With the addition of Brian Shaw and the existing members of coaching staff we could very well see something of a resurgence from this team. Not since the days of Reggie Miller and Rik Smits have the Pacers been deemed worthy to be considered a legitimate force within the NBA . And granted over the years the organization has had its problems stemming from neglect and the fact that the team was seen as one of the back-water stop offs in players’ career when they’re said to be on the decline. If things are to change with the thought of a turnaround in mind then perhaps with Brian Shaw and Frank Vogel working in tandem there could very well be something beginning to foment within the organization.

On the outside looking in I am not so sure to make of the situation now encapsulating the furor of the US women’s soccer team having made it to the finals of the World Cup . As great an accomplishment as this has been and the fact that the country will be chasing its first Cup win since 1999 the game barely registers a blip on the consciousness of the masses domestically here at home . Granted , all of the patriotism comes to the foreground in the times of triumph but what one sees as a triumph then is simply eroded when you considers that attendances for games at the club level within the WPSL ( Womens Premier Soccer League) averages no more than 2,500 per game . Salaries for players at the club level where the median is approximately $25,000 per year offers the players little by way of comfort with many of them choosing to hold down a civilian position beyond playing or for many of the top stars , some choose to split their time playing overseas.

The 2011 World Cup has to be considered a success for FIFA and in particular for the entrants to this year’s competition. Some of the matches have been competitive while others have been what one might consider to be extremely boring. But the back-drop to this all has been the very fact that the US team has sought redemption and they now have a chance at that by defeating their upcoming opponent Japan in the final game of the tournament .

Both sides have reached this stage of the competition having defeated two teams in semi-finals thought to be their equal at the international level. Japan defeated Sweden in a thoroughly convincing fashion 3-1 and the US had their problems with Brazil having to overcome a deficit before defeating the team in a penalty shootout (5-3) after a 2-2 tie in regulation .

In the final itself , we should expect a highly competitive game between two evenly matched teams . Team USA brings along the experience and a more physical style of play but Japan has speed , exuberance and a technical aspect that one would not normally associate with a team from the Far East. But much of that may well come down to the fact that there are a number high quality European coaches at the club level within the country where fan support for the game reaches rabid proportions. Obviously something that the WPSL yearns for here in the US but it still lacks support of the fans in general and the willingness of the networks to give the game much or airtime than it is now obtaining . Coverage of the game has been primarily with ESPN where basically much of women’s sports now finds its support from a viewing standpoint not only at the professional level but also at the collegiate level. Somehow one can only imagine that Title IX (Title IX) was meant to create something of a level playing field but in reality the success attained by the enactment by this legislation has not really done enough to put women’s sport on the map in the true sense of the word.

Should the USA win Sunday’s final match then we may well see something of an advancement in the game here domestically but considering the missteps along the way previously in trying to create a professional league at the club level , I firmly believe that soccer at the women’s level here much like their male counterpart still has a long way to go before it gets any real level of respect that they feel they rightly deserve . The nation has yet to take the game into its heart , feel as if it is something it can truly appreciate and that is in spite of the fact that now the game is now being played by more children at the middle , high school level and by collegiate players than baseball and basketball combined . Something to think about don’t you think ? And while the game of soccer resonate around the globe with its throng of fans it remains a bewildering back-drop for most here simply because the NBA , NFL , MLB , NASCAR and NHL rule the roost when it comes fans wanting to see something a great deal more exhilarating than 22 players chasing a round ball up down a field .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Do leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support !

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

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Auburn coach Gene Chizik watches the first day of spring football practice for the national champion Auburn Tigers in Auburn, Ala., Wednesday, March 23, 2011. AP Photo / Garry Finkel …..

(2) FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2010 file photo, Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton (2) dunks coach Gene Chizik following a 49-31 win over Georgia in an NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. Chizik wants Auburn fans to remember Newton “as a great individual,” not just a Heisman Trophy-winning player. The Tigers coach defends the No. 1 NFL draft pick in the upcoming book “All In” but says it is “really a story about football, family and faith.” Chizik discussed the book Wednesday, June 29, 2011, ahead of its July 5 release that will have him hit the road for a promotional tour with nine stops in four states. AP Photo/Dave Martin ….

(3) FILE – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listens to questions during a news conference at the NFL football owners meetings in Rosemont, Ill., in this June 21, 2011 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(4) FILE – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Pittsburgh, in this Dec. 23, 2010 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ……

(5) NBA union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after a meeting with the NBA, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. The NBA is headed to deadline day, with perhaps one last chance to avoid a lockout. Negotiators for owners and players will meet Thursday, about 12 hours before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and seemingly nowhere close to a deal. That meeting however would lead to the league mandated shutdown of the NBA . AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ……

(6) National League All-Star Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers and his sons Jaden (R) and Haven pose with the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award after the National League defeated the American League 5-1 in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Jeff Gross ……

(7) National League All-Star Lance Berkman (12) of the St. Louis Cardinals is tagged out at second base by American League All-Star Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees in the bottom of the second inning of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix,Az . Getty Images North America/ Jeff Gross ….

(8) Indiana Pacers new assistant head coach Brian Shaw responds to a question during a news conference in Indianapolis, .Wednesday, July 13, 2011. AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(9) Pia Sundhage (2nd L) coach of the U.S. laughs as she listens to striker Abby Wambach (2ndR) during a practice session for the upcoming final of the women’s soccer World Cup in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. The U.S. will play Japan in the World Cup final on Sunday in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach ….

(10) USA’s goalkeeper Hope Solo is stretched during a training session on July 15, 2011 in Frankfurt/Main, two days before the final football match of the FIFA women’s football World Cup Japan vs USA at the FIFA Frauen-WM-Stadion in Frankfurt/Main, central Germany, on July 17, 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE …..

(11) Members of Japan’s women’s soccer team pose with placards from Japanese children from Frankfurt’s International School prior to a practice session in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. Japan will play the U.S. in the World Cup final on Sunday, July 17, in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach …….

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College Football news

ESPN news

FIFA Women’s World Cup

MLB News

NBA News

NFL News

Pittsburgh Steelers news

Now What ?

Now What ?

Well the NFL Draft began and over the course of three days Radio City Music Hall , New York City well become the epicenter of the NFL world . Never mind the fact that although Judge Susan Richard Nelson has sided with the players over their challenge of the league’s mandated lockout the nation’s top collegiate players will be front and center as the teams and their front office executives and coaches will assuage and assess their merits .

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Slide show for your perusal .

No real surprise as Cam Newton was taken number one overall by the Carolina Panthers having been the league’s worse team record wise last season. The draft itself as it continues and until its culmination on Saturday will provide the fans with a great many surprises and no doubt a great deal of disappointment as to the choices that’ll no doubt be made by the various teams. As a discerning fan I for one am not overly interested in the process , as from my own perspective until that first snap and first down is made on an NFL field during a regular season game we’re totally unsure what to expect from the rookies stepping up to the professional ranks . Suffice to say , that the likes of Newton , Von Miller , Marcell Dareus , A J Green , Patrick Peterson and Julio Jones are now set for life financially having been taken as the first six players in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.

That being said I expect a number trades to take place too as some teams may well look to off-load a prospective free agent in order to move up in the draft order in order to obtain a player that meets their needs. Given the still unclear picture of the league landscape and the very fact that though a 2011 schedule has been made public the fans are still unclear as to what awaits them in terms of there actually be a regular NFL season. The owners have still vowed to fight on in spite of Nelson’s verdict and her denying them a right of appeal at the Appellate Division . So the only recourse for the league and owners would be to challenge that decision in the Supreme Court , with that challenge being heard by the Justices there . And the likelihood that Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues supersede or overturn that decision seems highly unlikely , unless the the league as the plaintiffs, can provide a clear and substantive proof that Nelson erred in rendering her original decision .

For now in terms of anything tangible all the NFL fan simply has at this moment in time is that draft and the parade of the players as chattel bound for a new owner. For the analysts and draft geeks I’m of no doubt that they’re well on their way to making prognostications as to who has done well in the first two rounds and who may well have made a profound miscalculation with their picks . Be that as it may , no one really knows for sure what is liable to happen with these players until that first whistle is blown and the season should there be one , gets underway. Then and only then , will we be able to gauge these players and how they’re likely to do.

I’m sorry, but now is not the time for excuses ,…………. especially when your team gets handed its own ass on the proverbial silver platter for all to see . Having watched in large part several of the games in the NBA playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic , I have come to the conclusion that the Magic have and become the softest team in the Eastern Conference merely not only from a mental standpoint but also from a physical one as well ! At no time throughout this series has the Orlando Magic actually played well much less with any degree of consistency . If anything their play has been erratic and if anything the hype over these players and in particular the aspirations of Dwight Howard being a viable league MVP candidate was simply hyperbole and not much else . Big players step up and lead , here’s been a clear cut case wherein Howard has simply bitched and complained as things haven’t gone his way and where the team’s animated coach Stan Van Gundy has simply proven that when it really matters most , in the face of real adversity he simply cannot instill anything into this team. I’ve heard it said that a league MVP simply means being the best player on the team , I think it goes way beyond that , as it means also showing leadership qualities and actually getting those around you to raise the level of their play. If anyone can point to the fact where Howard has shown any semblance of the latter during this series where a teammate has stepped up and followed his lead then someone please intervene and show me such an instance ?

This series essentially was over once the Hawks took to taking the Magic and exposing all of their flaws bare for all to see . A one dimensional team that lacked creativity and imagination. The likes of Gilbert Arenas , Jason Richardson and Quentin Richardson have literally been stealing money from the Orlando Magic and undeniably it has been Van Gundy , the front office executives and GM Otis Smith who have been culpable in creating this unmitigated mess with the Orlando Magic in its present guise . There has been no cohesion on this roster as it has simply been assembled as a group of mismatched pieces . The trades that took place that gave berth to the roster must’ve been thought up as a quip at first because in terms of offensive presence what had been hoped simply didn’t materialize and in terms of defensive voracity it wasn’t on display by the Magic as Jamal Crawford , Josh Smith , Al Horford and the sighting of Joe Johnson made the Magic seem all the more irrelevant during the series . Hard to believe that Magic were actually the number four seeds in the Eastern Conference but that’s what one tends to get suckered into if you simply take a record at face value rather than looking over the entire body of work and what’s brought to the table in terms of anything tangible .

Game six and that result (84-81) was an emphatic statement as to which team was simply deserving of this series . Having lost the series (4-2) the Magic , the coaching staff and team will have to reassess where , why and how things all went so badly wrong . This much is certain the Orlando Magic in its present guise I firmly believe will be completely new entity for the start of the 2011-12 season . I certainly don’t believe that Smith , Van Gundy and in particular team owner Rich DeVos , President & CEO Bob Vander Weide and the other senior executives of the Magic can be entirely happy with the outcome of this seris from a competitive or financial standpoint. Especially in light of franchise’s ongoing difficulties , albeit, that they’re now esconced in their new facility the Amway Center in downtown Orlando . The NBA and in particular in order to remain viable not just from a competitive standpoint also have to remain a viable one from a financial standpoint also . And that if anything has cast a shadow over the organization over the past several years . With NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league hierarchy projecting a fiscal loss of anywhere between $400 to $500 million you can well understand why it was imperative for the team to have had some semblance this postseason . Instead they’re now back to the drawing board looking to start over again with a plan in face hopefully with something that will lead to that ultimate goal of securing the club its first NBA title .

Given that in 2009 , the Orlando Magic were one of 18 teams around the NBA who were in receipt of a $175 million bailout courtesy of the league hierarchy by way of several financial institutions which the league itself has guaranteed . In 2010 the same exercise was again the norm with a further $300 million and it begs the question what’s going on with the NBA and in particular with its own financial template ? Anyone care to take a guess ?

I don’t know about you but as more information is divulged about Jim Tressel’s actions and the fact that he knew full well of several players’ improprieties , in their actions of selling memorabilia for financial gain. The more I ask myself , how is it that he still has a job at Ohio State ? Pardon me for saying this but how the fuck can the university condone these actions with a mere slap on the wrist by simply doing nothing more than asking Tressel to make a public apology and handing down a rather menial suspension ? The players involved in this subterfuge as such still have their athletic careers in tact but this simply gives further credence as to how corrupt collegiate athletics has become and the mere fact that the universities and the NCAA are powerless to stop any form of malfeasance that takes place . If Tressel can be allowed to remain on campus without there being real consequence for his actions , lying to senior faculty members and the press alike then it simply tells about this coach’s complete lack of integrity and character. And to think there are idiots about who still think of him as some type of role model ? Only a friggin’ idiot would be of that mindset I believe !

Dr E Gordon Gee the university’s president and Athletic Director Gene Smith have stated that they hope that episode can be put behind them and the school can proceed forward with its integrity still in tact . Well my answer to both Gee and Smith ….. ” had you had the balls to do what is morally right then perhaps your statements could be treated with a degree of realism “ . But given the fact that both have shown that they’d rather keep Tressel within their midst and with a tainted reputation simply emphasizes that within collegiate athletics ….. money simply trumps everything . There’s no denying that the football program brings in countless millions for the school but what that says about the school’s own image and the mere fact that they’d believe that Tressel’s less contrite apology makes up for his misdeeds shows and indicate how naive they actually are .

NCAA President Mark Emmert has stated that he’d like see a situation where student athletes would be able to receive some form of stipend while their collegiate athletic career is ongoing . But that’s something that I for one believe that the purists and many of the various athletic conferences might not be willing to part-take in . Not if it’s going to diminish what they’re receiving in terms of filling their monetary coffers . Imagine you have SEC Commissioner Mike Slive who’s now more concerned whether not the actions of Mark Shurtleff as Attorney General of Utah is stepping outside of his legal parameters ? Merely because Shurtleff wants to challenge the BCS’s antitrust exemption status and where he also feels that the BCS is an illegal monopoly in terms of its existence and how it conducts itself as a business entity. One could well understand Slive’s concerns , as he simply doesn’t want to see that gravy train dry up in any way .whatsoever . Not with there being countless millions at stake and pouring into coming into the major BCS conference coffers each year through various sports and business formats .

At some point there has to be some semblance brought into the midst as to how the NCAA deals with the misdeeds of not only the student athletes but also of the coaches who have been allowed in large have gone untouched for their actions . Simply look at what has taken place with Jim Calhoun , Bruce Pearl and Lane Kiffin recently and you can understand how pointless it as times to expect any sense of integrity coming from within collegiate athletics ! Integrity and greed simply doesn’t mix , much like oil and water is said not to . And that’s why nothing will ever change within the collegiate athletics landscape because in retrospect no one there actually wants it to change , the status quo has to remain the same . Integrity and honor be damned because that’s the least of the concerns of the schools , much less the NCAA itself .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the topics raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit .

Alan aka tophatal …………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1)Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Cam Newton answers a question after being introduced during an NFL football news conference at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Bob Leverone ………….

(2) Washington Redskins first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan addresses the media during an NFL football news conference at Redskins Park, Friday, April 29, 2011, in Ashburn, Va. AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez ……

(3) Cam Newton receives a hug from his mother Jackie on stage after he was selected #1 overall by the Carolina Panthers during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Mark Ingram, #28 overall pick by the New Orleans Saints, 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 ………

(5) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic reacts after a missed basket during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin Cox / Getty Images …..

(6) Dwight Howard(12) of the Orlando Magic reacts after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin Cox / Getty Images …….

(7) A fan hold up a neon green sign with the word “Kryptonite” written on it during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox ……….

(8) Gilbert Arenas (1) of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket against Josh Smith (5) and Al Horford (15) of the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox ………

(9) NBA commissioner David Stern, left, chats with Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos during the first half of Game 1 in a second-round of the NBA basketball playoff series between the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Stern announced earlier Tuesday that the 2012 All-Star Game will be held in Orlando. Courtesy of Forbes Magazine & AP Photo /John Raoux ……

(10) E. Gordon Gee, left, Ohio State University president; football coach Jim Tressel, center; and athletic director Gene Smith take questions during a news conference Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State suspendedTressel for two games and fined him $250,000 for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the school about information he received involving two players and questionable activities involving Buckeye memorabilia. Tressel also will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology. AP Photo/Terry Gilliam ………..

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NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Games schedule

Friday 29th April 2011

Conference Semi Finals match-ups

Eastern Conference

Home team designated on the left

Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks

Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics

Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs/ Memphis Grizzlies vs Oklahoma City Thunder TBA

The series between the Spurs has yet to be decided with game six to be played tonight at the Fedex Forum in Memphis , Tennessee . . The Grizzlies at present have 3-2 lead in the best of seven game series .

NFL News

2011 NFL Draft

Draft by rounds : Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Round 6


Round 7

NFL Draft 2010

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Wyclef Jean …….. feat’g ….. Mary J Blige ……………. “911”

What In The Wide Wild Of Sports Is Going On Here ?

What In The Wide Wild Of Sports Is Going On Here ?

Well a week from this Saturday the NFL Draft will take center stage and the talent of FBS D1 college football will take center stage. To my mind given the fact that the NFL still finds itself in the midst of mediation being president over by Federal Court Judge Susan Nelson only adds to the stupidity and the naivete of not only the league but also the NFL owners in thinking it’s business as usual . And I know that even with players still making their rounds visiting the teams I can only surmise that the league believes that there’s a remote chance there’s about to the resurrection of an off season with OTA’s , strength and conditioning as well as the current players being able to visit their respective team facilities in order to rehabilitate season injuries . That being one of the situations that has arisen with the fact that the league instigated this lockout.

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Slide show for your perusal .

The dispute has taken on a life of its own with the fans now feeling disenfranchised and aggrieved and angry with both parties. I hasten to add that at this juncture both Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith might now be two of the most despised invididuals in all of professional sports . If you though that former big league slugger Barry Bonds was disliked then how unpopular do you feel Goodell and Smith are at this juncture ? And with Bonds now having been found guilty on one of the six charges he faced in his trial all that we now await is the sentencing recommendation of the judge in that case , Judge Susan Ilston . All signs point to the fact that the recommendation won’t be the maximum penalty of ten years but something of a narrower sentence that could be nothing more than 18 months or two years at best with the player quite possibly serving the sentence under house arrest with him electronically monitored under surveillance by the Justice Department courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons . From once being one of the most beloved players in the sport to a now a guilty major felon. Could things have got much worse for Bonds over the latter stage of his now infamous career ?

My own thoughts w ith regards to the case of Barry Bonds and the very fact that the Justice Department has spent in excess of $15 million over the course of their investigation and trial all at the taxpayers’ expense leads to me to believe that the subordinates of Attorney General Eric Holder had nothing better to do with their time ! Consider this fact the government saw fit to bail out major US financial institutions and insurance companies to the tune of US$ 1.35 trillion ( US$ 1,350,000,000,000) after their malfeasance in the almost near destruction of the economy from which we’ve yet to still recover . And with there being a projected 2 million home foreclosures due to take place in 2011 alone , do you get the simple feeling that there’s still a long way to go before we see any real signs a real recovery in the economy ? In the midst of this idiocy we now have rumblings as to the fact that US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may well have done the rounds in speaking with various states’ Attorneys Generals asking them not to prosecute any of the major banks and their executives , in light that , those actions could destabilize the economy . Excuse me ? But since when was defrauding the US taxpayer not a major felony , wherein it doesn’t warrant the arrests , indictment , trials of the perpetrators involved in the crimes in question ? And I do mean that a litany of crimes were committed here by not only these executives, in hiding the facts as to what their banks were doing but also falsifying records and misapropriating funds in the committing of those said crimes. I’ve now got to ask the question at what point is it that the electorate now feels that they can no longer trust this administration its President or the members of both legislative chambers of the US Congress , or more appropriately the House of Representatives and Senate ?. God knows if these assholes can’t even act to do what’s legally right , how the hell can we even trust them act with any sense of being morally right , more to the point have the nation’s best interests at heart ?

As to the NFL Draft itself I’ve about as much interest in this event as I’d have in a lion devouring its prey and deciding how that incident will actually end . Clearly about the only people interested in the event will be the various NFL sports agents out there who’ll be looking to represent their clients . Players such as Cam Newton projected to be taken number one overall in this draft. Whether or not the Carolina Panthers in spite of their numerous problems over the course of last season , it remains to be seen whether or not they will cast their lot with the Heisman Trophy winner and make him their franchise player of the future. I’m not about to suggest that Cam Newton can’t make it in the NFL but given what I’ve seen of former first round draft picks such as JaMarcus Russell whose ascent and fall from grace within the NFL was pretty like a meteorite falling from the sky . Could I have put it anymore succinctly than that ? I think not !

OK so we all know the NBA playoffs are about to start this weekend with the 16 teams now taking part in the postseason. And already there are rumblings as to a number of coaches being relieved of their positions . I’m not about to say I’m not surprised but given what I’ve seen of teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons the likelihood that Kurt Rambis and Jon Kuester will remain coaches in the NBA would come as a total shock should there be a vote of confidence to retain both. GM’s Dave Kahn and Joe Dumars have got to be disappointed with the seasons that their respective teams had but I think it even more of the general managers themselves under achieved with their performances in terms their roster decisions. You simply look at the Pistons and Timberwolves and wonder how bad they’ve performed over the course of the season .

Discontent amongst those within the locker room of the Pistons and you simply got the impression that from last season to this season the Detroit Pistions have experienced two years that they’d simply rather forget. As to the Timberwolves at what point did many of us feel that apart from watching Kevin Love’s performances over the course of the season and record setting season of double doubles . Please don’t tell me that fans were interested with anything beyond those feats of Love and the fact he was an NBA All Star this past season ? Suffice to say the Timberwolves can only hope that they’re in with a clear shot of acquiring the Huskies’ Kember Walker in the upcoming NBA Draft and perhaps their future hopes will be raised somewhat ?
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And here we are and it should it really surprise anyone that the Philadelphia Phillies are 9-3 within the NL East with Cliff Lee recently having posted 12K’s and the twenty first shutout of his career in the team’s 4-0 win over the Washington Nationals ? I’m not about to suggest that the World Series is the Phillies to lose but with the expectations being so high for the team this season if they fail to make it to the NLCS game at least their year will be viewed as a profound failure , damning indictment of the big market teams and their ostentatious spending on marquee talent .

While I know that the baseball team owners and the league hierarchy have no intentions of imposing a hard salary cap . But sooner or later the MLBPA and its Executive Director Michael Weiner will come realize that the game cannot continue down this road without there being several teams being brought to the brink of financial bankruptcy. It’s already beginning to dawn upon owners such as Stuart Sternberg , Bob Nutting and Frank McCourt whose Los Angeles Dodgers have amassed a cumulative $1.2 billion debt and have their creditors now banging at their doors looking for the Dodgers to keep up the installment payments on that debt . Is it any wonder that Dodgers’ fans are baying for the blood of Frank McCourt and the team’s front office executives ?

McCourt’s belief that the team is to do with as he pleases is more akin to a drug pusher user being allowed to sell his product to school children on school property without there being any conceivable repercussions. You simply know that sooner or later the fans will have had enough of Frank McCourt and his antics . And with the very fact that in a recent incident that led to the assault of a San Francisco Giants’ fan at Chavez Revine leads me to believe that the fans will become mutinous . The very fact that the Dodgers have issued something of a less than contrite apology for this incident and that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig or anyone from within his office has issued any form of a public statement on this incident other than to say that complete and thorough investigation will be conducted. Well if that investigation is conducted anywhere with the ineptitude shown with regard to the Mitchell Report then I conclude that the league and its hierarchy will have learned nothing from this incident ! Given the whitewash of that report without there being any blame being apportioned only on the players themselves shows me the naivete’ of Bud Selig , his subordinates , that of the players themselves and these asinine team owners !

The rest of this MLB season ought to be really interesting as it unfolds and from my perspective having not yet found a team that I’ve yet an affinity for . I’ll do my utmost to follow teams around the league with a great deal of interest .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the topics raised within this piece ? And if anything what has your blood boling either in the world of sports or on the domestic scene at present ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slideshow details below

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(1) Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds (4th R) arrives at federal court on April 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The jury is deliberating for the fourth day in the Barry Bonds perjury trial, where the former baseball player is accused of lying to a grand jury about the use of performance enhancing drugs. The player has since been found guilty on one charge of obstruction of justice that could carry a sentence of up to 10 years as a maximum under the Federal statutes. Getty Images North America / Justin Sullivan ………..

(2) Obama Delivers State Of The Union Address To Joint Session Of Congress Members of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Cabinet (L-R), Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attend the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill January 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. During his speech Obama was expected to focus on the U.S. economy and increasing education and infrastructure funding while proposing a three-year partial freeze of domestic programs and $78 billion in military spending cuts. Pool Images/ Getty Images North America ……..

(3) Cam Newton (right) is seen here with his father (Pastor) Cecil Newton . The elder Newton was caught up in much of the furor concerning whether or not his son was involved in a pay to play scheme instigated by himself with an intermediary and a number of schools within the SEC . AP Photo / Maurice Clarke ……………

(4) Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen (2) looks for a receiver in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The Panthers would go on to lose 31-10 in the game . AP Photo/John Bazemore ………..

(5) AUBURN HILLS, MI – APRIL 11: Detroit Pistons head coach John Kuester draws up a play during a timeout against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 11, 2011 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NBAE /Getty Images/ John Dennis ….

(6) A fan wears a paper bag on his head during the second half of the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets Wednesday, April 13, 2011, in Minneapolis where the Timberwolves ended the season with the worst record in the NBA as they were defeated by the Rockets won 121-102 . AP Photo/Jim Mone ……..

(7) Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Kurt Rambis directs his team during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, April 13, 2011, in Minneapolis. The Rockets won 121-102 and the Timberwolves ended their season with the worst record in the NBA 17-65 . AP Photo/Jim Mone ………… …

(8) Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee, throws a pitch during a baseball game at Nationals Park with the Washington Nationals on Thursday, April 14, 2011 in Washington. The Phillies won 4-0, with Lee allowing three hits. AP Photo/Alex Brandon ………..

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(9) Catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) of the Philadelphia Phillies holds the ball after Rick Ankiel(43) of the Washington Nationals strikes out during the seventh inning at Nationals Park on April 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ………….

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MLB News

MLB Results from 16th April 2011

Scheduled games for Sunday 17th April

NBA News

NBA results from Saturday

NBA Scheduled games Sunday 17th April 2011

NFL News

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Trick Daddy ……………… ” In Da Wind ”
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What’s A Sure Fire Thing In The NFL Nowadays …….. ?

What’s A Sure Fire Thing In The NFL Nowadays …….. ?

Well the finale to the NFL postseason is almost upon us with the staging of Superbowl 45 (SB XLV) when the Pittsburgh Steelers hosts the Green Bay Packers in the Superbowl at Cowboys Stadium , Arlington , Texas.

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Slide show for your perusal.

The postseason was an eventful one with a numbers of players stepping to the fore and doing what was asked of them by their various coaches and coaching staff . If nothing else it has been the talent that has dictated the ongoing heroics that we’ve seen throughout much of the postseason. Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger have simply been proof of that as they’ve led their teams through to their respective paths to the game’s showcase event.

I’ve already read a number of patrons’ site wheres they’re now trying to assess the talent that will be available in the upcoming NFL Draft that will take place this April . Now don’t get me wrong but there’s a premium on the talent that actually comes to the fore. And for the likes of ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay they’re there state their opinions as to who they think will be a worthwhile option for a number of teams . Valid or not I’ve never been totally enamored by the neatly coiffured rug of Kiper or his assessment of college talent on their way to the NFL. It galls me even more when it became known that he’s consulted with the agents of a number of college bound players and after having spoken with them he’s now stating a case can be made that the players in question are NFL ready. How’s that showing his knowledge much less impartiality ? Kiper is a joke and so has been numerous of his assessments over the years ! His assessment of the Carolina Panthers —– Jimmy Claussen had me wondering what the hell he’d been watching in college when it came to the player ? I’m still waiting for Kiper to acknowledge that Akili Smith , Ryan Leaf , Chris Weinke and Eric Crouch failed to live to his own lofty expectations ! But that’s Mel Kiper , ESPN’s answer to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck all rolled into one !

Now this upcoming NFL Draft I’ve no doubt that there’ll be a number of players who’ll stake a claim that they’re amongst the best that the collegiate level has to offer the NFL. Well with Andrew Luck the presumed number one draft pick now having chosen to remain in college for his senior year at Stanford the talent level may well have dropped off somewhat. Now there were those felt that Luck should’ve forgone his senior year in college and go after the big bucks but consider this for those who’d taken the time to do some research Luck comes from an extremely wealthy family and his father Norm is a self made multi millionaire. So why in hell’s name at this juncture would he want to make that jump to the NFL especially when if after the snap of a ball his NFL career could end in one fail swoop , signing bonus guarantee or not ?

With the mess that is now the NFL and the impasse between the league hierarchy and the NFLPA has become a complete joke ! There are many bones of contention to which the league and players are contesting , namely a ceiling on the rookies’ salaries . Who in this day and age is willing to pay an unproven athlete at times in excess of $40 million in guaranteed money based solely on potential alone ? That’s the idiocy that has now become the NFL and one of the main reasons why the league now finds itself in the mess that it is now in ! I thought the mess of MLB and the idiocy shown by Commissioner Bud Selig , baseball’s owners and their financial template was bad enough !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

There’s no denying that over the years there have been some boons and busts coming out of the NFL . This past two seasons alone for all sense and purpose we’ve seen prodigious college talents such as Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell all but play themselves out of the NFL . Collectively the two have received in excess of $ 65 million alone in guaranteed money from their former employers . And in return they’d contributed not a damn thing to the teams that they played for. A patron of mine once made the comment that he’d rather have Young play for him at the quarterback position rather than having an aging and experienced quarterback. Vince Young systematically drove himself out of a career in Tennessee with the Tennessee Titans . And it certainly didn’t help that Titans’ owner Bud Adams whose own recent behavior bordered on being repugnant and repulsive ! But what should we have come to expect from an owner whose about as cognizant of what’s happening around him as Charlie Sheen would be on a drunken binge ?

Sam Bradford of the St Louis Rams in his first season in the NFL almost led the team to the NFC West divisional title and on the cusp of the playoffs. Were it not for the team falling apart in the latter part of the season they may well have made to the playoffs instead of the Seattle Seahawks . Bradford proved himself to be the real deal and perhaps justify the faith shown in him by coach Steve Spagnuolo , his coaching staff and Bill Devaney the team’s general manager.

Over the years the NFL Draft has been kind and also elusive to a number of teams who’ve chosen to gamble by taking a prime pick in the first round of the draft . And while that may sometimes to be fortuitous for a team that has the number one overall pick that’s not necessarily always the case. The right player in the right environment can be prove to be a success when the choice has been a prudent one and where the assessment made by the scouts , coaching staff and general manager are all in unison. Then and only then even with the player’s alleged talent can one truly be able to assess how good they may or may not be.

For the Detroit Lions their season fell apart with the loss of their franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and as now of the player having repeatedly shown that he hasn’t the physical attributes to withstand a long and arduous 16 game season , nevermind the fact that the league under Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to now lengthen the season to an eighteen game schedule. Given Stafford’s frailties and the fact that he seemingly can’t withstand a full season in the NFL I for one seriously doubt that he could lead Jim Schwartz’s —- team through an eighteen game schedule ! That $72 million contract signed by Stafford doesn’t seem to have been worth it now does it ? But then again is the jury still out at Ford Field on the quarterback ?

Ndamokung Suh whose impact as a defensive tackle for the Lions showed why he was the envy of a number of teams around the league upon declaring for the draft. He was viewed as an elite player at the position and he’s proven to be that and a great deal more. Now if only the rest of the team had been able to manifest themselves in the way that Suh has been able to do so over the past season .

This upcoming NFL Draft to my mind will have a good pedigree of players but I wouldn’t say that it’ll be one of the best in recent years . Cam Newton , Andy Dalton , Jake Locker , Nick Fairley and with a slew of prospects to be assessed . Talent rarely takes off in the way that some feel that it can wherein a player in their rookie year at the professional level simply blows everyone away. It’s my own belief that if a player by their mid-second to third year hasn’t learned the nuances of the game then they’ll not about to make it in the NFL and contribute greatly to their respective teams. Hence the reason why I believe that the rookie salary contract as an inducement is simply and always will be a bad investment for a team . One only needs to look at the careers of Leaf, Smith , Russell and dare one say the Niners’ Alex Smith to prove what overpaying for average talent can do ?

What thoughts if any do you have on the upcoming NFL Draft and do you feel that the agents while inducing the general managers are actually more inclined to take hype up their clients far more than is needed ? Chime in with your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support !

Picture and slide show details .

(1) Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews, left, and Aaron Rodgers joke around during practice, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 in Dallas. Green Bay will face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL football Super Bowl XLV Sunday. AP Photo/Eric Gay ………

(2) Fort Worth Tx,. February 2nd 2011 Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks with the media on February 2, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images ………

(3) Jeff Pash , NFL Executive Vice-President and General Counsel, discusses the collective bargaining agreement negotiations with members of the press at the Super Bowl XLV media center on February 2, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. The Green Bay Packers will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ……

(4) ESPN College Football analysts Mel Kiper, left and Todd McShay. They continue to agree to disagree . Could there at all be a “Brokeback Mountain” kind of relationship between the two ? AP Photo ………….

(5) Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions sits on the sideline during the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on December 5, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Bears defeated the Lions 24-20 . Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..

(6) Quarterback Sam Bradford (8) of the St. Louis Rams signals to his teammates during their game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images …..

(7) In this photo taken, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011, South squad quarterback Andy Dalton of TCU is pictured during Senior Bowl NCAA college football practice in Mobile, Ala. AP Photo/Dave Martin ………..

(8)This Nov. 7, 2010, file photo shows Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh rushing the line during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, at Ford Field. Suh was the only rookie named to the AP All-Pro Team. AP Photo/ Carlos Osorio File ………

Continue reading “What’s A Sure Fire Thing In The NFL Nowadays …….. ?”

News With A Twist ……………….. And The Ridiculous

News With A Twist ……………….. And The Ridiculous

It may not help but it’d now appear that with the plea agreement accepted the world for former NFL great Lawrence Taylor has come full circle. His lust for still wanting to be part of of the spotlight having retired from football has now landed right back in front of the camera for all of the wrong reasons. In order to avoid jail time the player accepted a plea deal wherein he admits to adding to the delinquency of a minor and sexual solicitation for pecuniary gain and needs. Taylor will now become a registered sex offender and be subjected six years probation. And while the prosecutors are entirely happy with this verdict it doesn’t say enough about what took place behind the scenes concerning this case. As we now find out the player also assisted Federal authorities (FBI & Justice Dept ) in the tracking down and subsequent arrest of several felons who’d been involved in the trafficking of young females across state lines for the procurement of sex . This is now a growing epidemic that has swept across the nation and has led in many cases to the sexual assault and death of several underage teens. What might be even more striking is the fact that this type of crime doesn’t only involve young girls but now young boys as well.

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Slide show for your perusal .

Now it goes without saying that Taylor’s life and troubles inside and outside of football have been well chronicled . From cocaine and drug abuse to allegations domestic violence Lawrence Taylor’s life has been one big maelstrom and hooplah of ups and downs. A Hall of Famer and two time winning Superbowl player to a now convicted felon and sex offender . How the mighty have fallen and with all this come the embarrassment to his wife and children. This simply goes to show fame and fortune has its peaks and troughs but in the case of former Giants’ great his head never left the trough .

Not wanting to make a complete ass of himself as if the “The Decision Interview” co-opted with Jim Gray wasn’t enough Miami Heat player LeBron James tried to explain to the fans and public that a < 'tweet' sent from his ‘Twitter’ account and directed at Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert in which stated ………………”Karma is a bitch” ! Well those very words now seem to have come back to have bitten James and his teammates in the ass. Having lost a recent game to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center . The team , albeit without James were routed by the Denver Nuggets in their subsequent game at the Pepsi Center —— 130-101 .

Now one might ask if after all of this James with his rather immature behavior will now finally get it into his head that for all of the empathy he seeks he will not be forgiven by the fans there in Cleveland because of his betrayal. It’s agreed that both James and Gilbert could’ve handled the situation better with regard to his departure without a doubt. But now it appears that this pristine image that the player tries to purvey has become burdensome for him and he’s now beginning to like a complete ass some of us took him to be after that ludicrous self aggrandizing interview conducted by Jim Gray coming courtesy of ESPN . If anything it shows how far both sides in this case , the network hand player have gone to overhype a non-event for what they believed it to be worth at the time.

James if anything having taken the night off due what we’re told is an ankle sprain had better get back on court because it looks as if teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are mere microcosms of themselves when he’s not on the court with them. I’ve always maintained that Bosh was along for the ride on this roller coaster while James and Wade would simply supply with all of the highlight reels and entertainment the fans sought. Now this team along with the coaching staff led by coach Erik Spoelstra will have to put things right back on track .

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So the New York Jets’ Antonio Cromartie believes Tom Brady to be a spoilt unsportsmanlike individual after his gametime demeanor during the Jets’ 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots earlier in the season . Brady’s antics it’s believe infuriated Cromartie and his teammates after he gesticulated and pointed towards the New York Jets’ fans in attendance after the Patriots had scored a touchdown , one of many I might on their way to that now infamous rout.

If Cromartie wants to be seen as a professional shouldn’t the question that he ought to be asking himself is why he and the team played so badly and were unable to defeat the Patriots on the day ? Instead in his recent interview concerning this weekend’s divisional matchup between the two teams he went into an expletive driven tirade against the Pats’ quarterback which has since been defended to an extent by Jets’ coach Rex Ryan who states that this is merely two teams showing their dislike for each other . I hope he’s of the same opinion should his team be on the losing end of this game ! Cromartie on the other hand should count himself lucky that he’s still able grace the NFL stage given his off the field issues , his 9 children with eight different women including his wife are as such in dire need of financial support but yet here sits a player who’s only means of attention is denigrate one of his peers because his team was simply made to look bad while all Brady was simply doing was celebrating a touchdown during a game. What’s wrong with this picture ?

Well Cam Newton has declared for the NFL Draft ? Who didn’t see that coming down the pike ? I guess all that’s left now is for his father Cecil to now represent his son at the professional level as an agent because in essence that was what he has been essentially doing at the collegiate level. With that being said it should come as no surprise that NCAA President Mark Emmert now wants to tighten if not close the loopholes which have allowed Newton , Terrelle Pryor and several of his Buckeye teammates to basically flout NCAA rules without so much as a mere hint of punishment being levied upon the players for their transgressions. This coming from what I believe to the most corrupt organization in the country besides that of Mafia and US Congress and Senate . The NCAA has and always will be considered a joke never mind the ‘ idiots’ who oversee the BCS ! Trying to figure out what it is these bodies have to offer the public at large much less the sport’s fan in general is like trying to count the grains of sand on the beach while the tide comes in and there being a gust of wind blowing !
Is there a real reason behind their existence other than to look completely stupid and bereft of any intelligence whatsoever ?

What thoughts if any do you have on the topics raised within this piece ? Simply chime on with a comment as to your thoughts and as alwauys thanks for the continued support !

NB: Picture and slide show gallery details .

(1) This May 6, 2010 file photo shows Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor leaving the Ramapo Police Department in Suffern, N.Y. Taylor pleaded guilty Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute, misdemeanor charges that carry no jail time but require him to register as a sex offender. AP/ Kathy Willens ……….

(2) Former NFL Players Dieon Sanders and Lawrence Taylor talk on stage during the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2009 in New York City. Getty Images/ Jeff Zelevansky ……

(3) Taylor (left) is seen here with his defense attorney Arthur Aidala at his arraignment hearing in May of 2010 to hear the charges he faced on statutory rape the solicitation of a prostitute and adding to the delinquency of a minor. The hearing took place in New City , New York. AP/ Rod Carpenter ……

(4) Taylor is seen here with his lawyer Arthur Aidala at his trial and hearing as to sentencing at Federal court in New City, New York . AP Photo/ Mark Walls ………….

(5) New York Jets coach Rex Ryan , center, reacts near the end of the Jets’ 28-21 win over the New England Patriots in NFL divisional playoff football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. AP Photo/Winslow Townson ….

(6) New England Patriots tight end Alge Crumpler (82) delivers a stiff-arm to New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia ……

(7) Los Angeles , Ca,. January 12 th 2011 . LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat warms up before taking on the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on January 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Players are wearing special warmups recognizing the one year anniversary of ongoing efforts of recovery from the earthquake in Haiti on January 12-13 2010. Copyright 2011 NBAE Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images …..

[8] LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat is fouled by Blake Griffin (32) of the Los Angeles Clippers during a 111-105 Clipper win at the Staples Center on January 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images ….

(9) Chris Bosh (1) of the Miami Heat grabs a rebound away from Al Harrington (7) of the Denver Nuggets as Mike Miller (13) of the Heat watche the action at the Pepsi Center on January 13, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Heat 130-102 . Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images ….

(10) In this Dec. 11, 2010, file photo, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton holds the trophy during a news conference after winning the Heisman award, in New York. Newton will forgo his senior season and make himself eligible for the 2011 National Football League Draft. AP Photo/Craig Ruttle …..

Alan aka tophatal ……………………….

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It’s your duty to want to tap this booty.

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The BCS Stands For What ……….. ? ? ?

The BCS Stands For What ………… ? ? ?

It’s here, it’s now for all the marbles and I though I must say it I’ve not been overly enamored with what I’ve seen throughout the Bowl Series within collegiate football. Perhaps from a standpoint that I’m amongst a growing group I believe who would desire to see a playoff system within college football. Having the coaches , the press and a back room filled with computer geeks summarily in part make the decision as to who may end up playing in the national championship game does smack of idiocy to begin with. Never mind that the lesser games with their rather superfluous names make about as much sense as having the choice being made by a group of blind people simply using a pin and having the teams’ names being listed on a piece of paper. The whole BCS Championship series is simply nothing more than a money making exercise and that’s simply it. The six major conferences ( ACC , Big 10 , Big 12 , Big East , Pac 10 and SEC) that in essence oversees this rather corrupt system if anything ought to be thankful that they’re allowed to keep up this charade.

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Slide show .

While there’s been repeated criticism by members of Congress as to the way that teams are determined and the template put in motion is something of a joke. Any member of Congress wishing to address this situation given the fact that the BCS system has its supporters and detractors within that body smacks of idiocy to begin . Were you aware that the BCS Championship series has its own body of lobbyists up on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in order to safeguard its very existence ? The tax advantages to be attained by the NCAA as well as the BCS as a body and one can see why there’s billions of dollars to be made by both of these bodies who as such state that the interests of the student athletes at heart. Yeah I’ve heard it said also that’s the same belief held by the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia as they simply flood this country with their drugs. So what’s the difference between the BCS , NCAA and the drug cartels of Colombia ? Oh so it’s illegal to smuggle narcotics into this country for ill gotten gains while supplying that ever increasing band of drug users dependent on these narcotics. It’s not exactly stopped the big pharmaceutical companies in acting the way that they’ve been allowed even with the FDA as a conduit . Merely look at the billions made by these companies and the financial windfall it creates for the federal government by way of the taxes ? That’s simply the only difference between the two entities in question and the way that the government views their activities by way of its legality.

The championship game sponsored by Tostitos and to be played between the SEC’s —– Auburn (Tigers) led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and coached by Gene Chizik hope to convey why it is that they’re favored to win this matchup against the Oregon (Ducks). Both teams will have their slew of vociferous supporters up and down the country. And I’ve no doubt that there’ll be a certain East Coast – West Coast bias to this matchup and the feelings to be had between the fans and perhaps the nation at large. If anything these matchups are essentially driven by the appeal of the what the nation’s programmers’ wish to see , in order that they can attain the best returns possible by way of a televised audience.

Oregon for its part coached by Chip Kelly and led by Darron Thomas at quarterback with running back LaMichael James are sure to make this game a competitive one. We may well have been spoiled in recent years by the exploits of the Florida Gators , Texas Longhorns and that of USC but this game could very well match that classic of between the Trojans and Longhorns when they were led by Matt Leinart and Vince Young respectively . Both players in question were able to parlay those feats into careers within the NFL . Young for his part may not be long with the Tennessee Titans where his career has plummeted as fast as a meteorite falling from the sky. Leinart has yet to show his true guile for the NFL and if anything his being coddled while at USC may well have something to do with the fact that he’s yet to meet the expectations that many felt he was capable of.

This game will come down to one of two things how capable both defenses are at stopping the potent offensive threats that either side can display in terms of their respective pass and running attacks. If neither can actually stymie the other in that respect then we could end up with a high scoring game and one wherein yardage could be off the charts. Will it be what the fans want to see at the end of the day ………..who can say ? The national championship games haven’t always been entertaining but they seem to fill that void in airtime that the programmer has no other product at their disposal to display , so make of it what you will.

The Tigers’ Cam Newton despite his off the field issues will be looking to put an emphatic stamp on this season having led his team to the SEC championship game (56-17) and winning the Heisman Trophy with ease. It’d be indicative of the player at this juncture of the season to simply stamp his authority on it by showing why he’s the best college player in the game. Given the recent exploits of Stanford’s Andrew Luck there may well be a great deal more on the line with the perception that Newton could enter the NFL Draft for the untold riches that can be garnered there. Whether or Newton can and will be allowed exploit the weaknesses of the Oregon Ducks will be largely dependent upon the skill-set of that Ducks’ defense.

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

Oregon I’ve no doubt will come into this game being viewed as the underdogs by the press , public and no doubt the oddsmakers in Vegas. But I’d dare say that they’re keen to pull off the upset and show the nation what they’re truly capable of. Throughout much of the season Oregon has systematically played uptempo and they’ve literally destroyed some of their opponents almost at will. When tested at times they’ve risen to the occasion in more ways than one, showing their deftness in all phases of the game. This game will be a battle of wills and the coaching staff of both teams had better have their battle plans drawn and ready . If not, then one of these teams will find itself in the midst of an incessant onslaught and the ensuing battle could very well be viewed as being one sided and something of bore for the fans watching.

With the $17,500,000 at stake for the winner apart from the privilege of raising the the crystal trophy to signify that they’ve been crowned national champions. Along with it all comes the bragging rights and a great deal of prestige for the winning team and its program. Recruits will no doubt be watching with a great deal of interest and given the exposure that such a game brings they can’t help but feel that’s where they’re going to want to be ……….. on collegiate football’s grandest stage playing for a national title. The end goal being to showcase their talents for the watchful eyes for the NFL general managers and scouts also who are watching. It’s every young kids’ dream as well as that of the players who will be on display this upcoming Monday were the game is scheduled to be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium , Glendale , Arizona ,.

How have you viewed the games that have taken place during this Bowl season and what if anything to your mind has been the bright spot so far ? And are you as such entirely interested in the outcome of the national championship game ? Furthermore , what are your feelings on how the BCS system works and why they’re unwilling to adopt a playoff system ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .

NB: Auburn Tigers’ roster

Head coach Gene Chizik

Tigers’ coaching staff

Oregon Ducks’ roster

Head coach Chip Kelly

Oregon Ducks’ coaching staff

BCS National rankings as of 12/05/10

Click here to get the latest college football news.

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………………

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Leonie Nicole

Eye candy for you all . Leoni Nicole and a small montage of this beauty.

Hello and good morning ! It’s a hell of a day don’t you think ?

Leonie Nicole 2

Naughty but simply nice !

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John Legend feat’g Common & The Roots ……..”Wake Up Everybody”

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