It’s Never Too Late ……………

It’s Never Too Late ……..

There’s been a lull on the sports horizon and very little of late that has been happening . It was however sad to hear and read about the death of Hall of Famer John Mackey . The 69 year old died in his sleep at an assisted living facility during which he suffered many ailments such as dementia , epileptic seizures and the early stages of Alzheimers but the troubling thing related to Mackey’s untimely demise is the mere fact that this former NFLPA President saw that the NFL has done little to assist former players with aid benefits . John Mackey a prodigious and productive player over the course of his career but the sadness in his passing should be something that the NFL can perhaps learn from.

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Slide show for your perusal .

And as saddening as it was to heat of John Mackey’s passing , consider this concerning what can be described as part of the former of NFL player’s last moments on the earth . He had to have constant around the clock assistance as he has lost many of motor neuron skills , a colostomy bag was part of the player’s regimen as he was unable use a restroom under his own volition . Unable to care for himself with a sense of dignity this was how this former NFL player spent his final days on this earth , not quite in a place of degradation but it was simply has to be humiliating to know that this simply is an untold story that seems to another episode that the NFL would rather not let the world actually have an eye on . The underbelly and the dark side of what happens to many of the players that sacrificed so much for their love of the game and with a view to finding success and fame. In retirement we are under the impression that many of the players from Mackey’s generation and prior have all the means where they will be able to take care of themselves with all of the amenities one would deem available to them . But that was certainly not the case and it would now appear for many of his contemporaries from the era he played in a similar position .

We are constantly bombarded with the message that the NFL cares about its own but in reality how true is that to begin with ? Far too many players are actually falling through the cracks when it comes to the so called care that’s said to be provided by the NFL and in particular by the players’ own union the NFLPA . And inasmuch as the alleged assistance that was being provided to the player at the time of his death in terms of benefits to assist him in his time of need , so much more could have been done to assist Mackey and many of his kind who are suffering

The sad part to this all is that while the NFL labor stoppage now in its 116th day very little has been mentioned as what the league’s intent will be with regard to retired veterans and how they will be assisted . More we have been led to believe as part of these labor negotiations has been to do with how the league heirarchy and the NFLPA will split their $9 billion revenue stream . DeMaurice Smith as Executive Director of the NFLPA much like his predecessor Gene Upshaw has said little about the issue of current veterans as to their benefits . And though Mackey died in an assisting living facility what might be even more surprising was the mere fact that the former NFL great’s benefits were actually cut to such an extent that it seems inconceivable that the league now feels that is doing more now than ever before in providing assistance for their former now retired members . If that is the case then perhaps they can somehow explain why it was that former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Webster and Dave Duerson died under such degrading circumstances ? This player part of the Steelers’ Iron Curtain and was a man of honor but his death was in such a stark contrast to what his career was said to be all about. We know that his story has been well chronicled , bouts of alcoholism , depression but again Smith suffered from chronic headaches all due to his career in the NFL .

Throughout the course of his career Mike Webster is said to have suffered as many as a dozen game concussions over the course of his career through much of which the medical observations and advice given to the player was extremely poor. And granted the NFL has progressed a great deal in the years since Webster retired from the game with regard to information and research that the medical establishment has provided from their research into the cause and effect of concussions and head traumas. It hasn’t been the NFL that has actually laid the groundwork in this research but academia and in particular such noted colleges of medicine such Boston University School of Medicine & Neuro Sciences , Harvard School of Medicine & Neurology , Stanford School of Medicine & Neurology as well as the AMA’s own conclusive and incisive research. That being said it has been the NFL’s reluctance even with their own medical counsel who have simply said to the contrary that there was no discerning cause and effect with regard head trauma , concussions and the debiliatating maladies suffered by the players in the aftermath of their retirement from the NFL . Dave Duerson suffered from extreme bouts of depression having suffered multiple concussions over the course of his career but the sadness under circumstances that led to the player taking his own life cannot simply be misplaced as another act of another suicide. There has to be a real reason behind these cases and much of that can be related to the mere fact that the NFL itself has not been there to meet the needs of the retired players.

As I alluded to earlier with Mike Webster’s death came as a shock to many but the conditions surrounding his death are so inconceivable and beyond belief. We know that the player had fallen on hard times that he sought help but little had been forthcoming from the NFLPA and was beyond comprehension to believe that here was a real giant of the game who at the time of his death lived in squalor , suffered with dementia , bouts of severe depression. But what could be even more troubling was the fact that Mike Webster with his medical issues died under such dire circumstances where at times he would defecate and urinate on himself while trying to hold a normal conversation with family members or friends.I am not so sure that in the midst of this all the NFL fully understands the serious ramifications from the course of action that it has failed to take over the years.

I find it rather ironic however that players such as NFLPA President Kevin Mawae and Drew Brees now suggest that this lockout has more to do with asssisting the retired and veteran players than it has to do with dealing with a mere labor issue. Perhaps I’m mistaken but this discussion rarely comes up over the course of their negotiations or the formal statements made to the print and television media . It could well now be that the NFLPA much like the league hierarchy are now seeking to curry favor by seeking the public’s sympathy in the ongoing charade. This has never been a labor dispute in the true sense of the word because it has been in fact merely been about money and how best each side can try to outdo each other while simply not losing face in the eyes of the onlooking public ! It may well be too little too late at the end of the day as it appears that now more than ever before so many former NFL players are living in suffering in such dire circumstances and many of whom may well die in such in such abject squalor or perhaps in other such conditions beyond their control .

In the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement from the Arizona Cardinals it was apparent that the organization would face an uphill battle trying to remain relevant within the league . And for head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his coaches this past season”> season was a trying time for the fans , the team and in particular the Bidwill family as owners of the team.

Given the fact that the team having drafted Matt Leinart his lack of candor and command in learning the nuances of being a quarterback in the NFL . It is extremely understandable to see the reason why this team has failed so miserably in the aftermath of Kurt Warner’s retirement . Leinart with having a heralded career with USC at the collegiate level he has completely failed to live up to the percieved hype that would suggest that he had the makings of a NFL caliber quarterback. His career in the NFL so far can be best described as mediocre for want of a better word !

Coming off a 5-11 season within the NFC West season where the team simply underperformed . Much of that came down to the fact that there simply wasn’t a quarterback on this roster that good enough to command with the respect of the team much less play with any degree of consistency. You cannot imply to me that the likes of Max Hall , Derek Anderson , John Skelton or Richard Bartel are what the coaches of this organization now have the belief in guiding them to the promise land less and a legitimate shot at the Superbowl ! There’s more chance to be had with Andre Bocelli spending a night of passionate unadulterated sex with several porn stars than the premise of seeing that trio of quarterbacks actually leading the Cardinals to a winning season much less raising the Lombardi Trophy in triumph !

From an offensive standpoint the Cardinals are quite an attractive team but without a signal caller of confidence and the ability to lead they will continue to come up short . It would be pretty safe to say that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the league and certainly noteworthy enough to be considered amongst the top five overall ! But the real problem has that has simply bedeviled this team over the past season has simply been not being able to close out games with authority when they have their opponents on the ropes . This above anything else has to have been truly worrisome for Ken Whisenhunt and his coaching staff .

This upcoming season it will be very interesting to see whether or not the Arizona Cardinals can acquit themselves with any real degree of authority and simply be considered contenders within the NFC West and the conference overall . They’ve shown signs defensively that they’ve made some progression but clearly there has to be a great deal more consistency on both sides of the ball from this team !

One of the most pressing issues for the Cardinals also will be to quell the rise in discontent with Larry Fitzgerald as the player is now said to be genuinely dissatisfied with the direction that the organization is said to be apparently going in. It is abundantly clear that this organization can ill afford to lose a player of Fitzgerald’s caliber and simply become an also ran amongst the ranks of the NFC . And that is something that clearly Rod Graves as the team’s general manager or members of the Bidwill family would like to see isa disgruntled star player looking for a trade . But let’s face facts here if this team can’t take care of business this season then in all certainty Fitzgerald will want out ………. no matter what !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it greatly appreciated !

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

Picture and slide show details below
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(1) John Mackey, left, and Ralph Wenzel were both on the San Diego Chargers in 1972, but have no memory of playing together. Courtesy of The New York Times /Brendan Smialowski ….

(2) John Mackey, left, seen here some five years prior to his death with his rings from Super Bowl V and the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and Ralph Wenzel at the Annapolitan Assisted Living Community in Annapolis Maryland. Mr. Mackey, 65, and Mr. Wenzel, 64, both have dementia. Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times ……..

(3) Dave Duerson (right) is seen here testifying before Congress in June of 2007 . In the background seated is former Dallas Cowboys’ player Darryl Johnston . Duerson’s testimony to Congress dealt with the issues of neurological disorders suffered by current and retired players . He was a staunch advocate also for the rights of players with regard their medical plight , denial of benefits and numerous other health related issues. He was only 50 years old at the time of his death. AP/ Malcolm Warren …………

(4) Webster and Bradsahaw seen here in Cantion , Ohio, home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame . AP Photo/archives …

(5) First round draft pick, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals speaks during a press conference at the team’s training center auditorium on April 29, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. Getty Images / Christian Petersen ……

(6) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) catches an 11-yard touchdown in front of San Francisco 49ers safety Reggie Smith (30) in the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The Cardinals would go on to lose the game 38-7 to the San Francisco 49ers . AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

(7) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Manny Lawson (99) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton in the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. San Francisco 49ers corner-back Shawntae Spencer was also credited on the sack. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(8) (L-R) Quarterbacks Matt Leinart (7) left and Kurt Warner (13) of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after winning the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 32-25 to advance to the Super Bowl. Getty Images North America /Jamie Squires ……
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NFL News

Arizona Cardinals news

Eric Mangini ……..You Are The Weakest Link ………

It wasn’t all that long ago that the tv quiz show ‘The Weakest Link’ was all the rage on television. The show itself was an import was an import of the popular game show from the United Kingdom. And the then host of the show in the UK , Anne Robinson was brought stateside to see if her usual sardonic and acerbic wit would translate and make for good television here in the United States.

A scene from the eponymous show ‘ The Weakes Link’ featuring the show’s host Anne Robinson.

Bengals'  wide  receiver  Chad Ochocinco (85) catches  a  5 yd  touchdown  reception  infront  of  Browns'   cornerback  Eric  Wright  .    The   Bengals   would   go  on  to   defeat  the  Browns   23-20   in  the  AFC North  divisional   matchup.       picture   appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/  Mark  Duncan  .......................
Bengals' wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (85) catches a 5 yd touchdown reception infront of Browns' cornerback Eric Wright . The Bengals would go on to defeat the Browns 23-20 in the AFC North divisional matchup. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Mark Duncan .......................

Well alas , despite the initial popularity of the show and the initial ratings’ bonanza that followed. The popularity of the show decidedly waned. As to where one might now find the show on the tv dial …..who really knows ? Using this as analogy , much the same can be said of the Cleveland Browns’ coach Eric Mangini and his foray into coaching within the NFL . There was a great deal of hoopla surrounding his introduction into the NFL. As he was viewed as some sort of ‘wunderkind’ – having being tutored under the auspices of New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick. Mangini was hired by the New York Jets and seemingly his task would be made somewhat easier it was believed by having that erstwhile veteran , Brett Favre within their domain.

Mangini’s three years with the New York Jets can be best described as an unmitigated disaster. The wunderkind proved to be nothing more than a coach who proved to be out of his depth , there in New York. And his record with the team with the team overall was (23-25 .479%) , with one playoff appearance over that period of time. Fired in 2008 and replaced by Rex Ryan. It can be said that the change in the tide of fortunes for the Jets took an upswing.

Browns'  coadh  Eric  Mangini  speaks  with  his   wide receiver Braylon  Edwards  on the  sidelines   during  their  game  against  the  Cincinnati  Bengals   this  past  Sunday.  The  game  was  played  at   Paul  Brown  Stadium  in  Cleveland  , Ohio.    The  AFC  North  divisional  matchup   between the  two  instate  rivals   ended  up with a  win  for  the  Bengals   23-20.    picture  appears  courtesy of  ap/photo/  Tony  Dejak  ........................
Browns' coadh Eric Mangini speaks with his wide receiver Braylon Edwards on the sidelines during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday. The game was played at Paul Brown Stadium in Cleveland , Ohio. The AFC North divisional matchup between the two instate rivals ended up with a win for the Bengals 23-20. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Tony Dejak ........................

For Mangini it can be said that the opposite of that can be true. As his fortunes have taken a turn for the worst . So too has the fortunes of the Cleveland Browns. But it’d be remiss to think that the blame for this all can be squarely laid on the shoulders of Mangini. As his predecessor Romeo Crennel and then team GM Phil Savage barely built the semblance of a team that it was thought that could compete and be competitive within the NFL. The franchise labored under Crennel and Savage . The two were duly fired by the ownership. In came Mangini and the thought process was that the young coach , given a second chance- he’d be able to turn things around. Well the Browns have been turning but not in the direction that they or their fans could’ve hoped for. In the highly competitive NFC North they now sit at the bottom of the division with an (0-4) record and seemingly nothing at all to play for at this juncture , other than that of their pride. And ahead of them in the divisional standings lies the Baltimore Ravens (3-1), the Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) and the reigning Superbowl champions in the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2).

Bengals'   kicker  Shayne  Graham (17)  kicks  the  winning  field   goal  in  overtime  that  enables  the  win  over  the  Cleveland Browns .      picture  appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/ The Repository,   Scott  Heckel   ..........................
Bengals' kicker Shayne Graham (17) kicks the winning field goal in overtime that enables the win over the Cleveland Browns . picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ The Repository, Scott Heckel ..........................

It has to be said that the travails as to what ails the Browns has also something to do with the regression of both quarterbacks on the team. In Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn the franchise may well have two of the worst quarterbacks in all of the NFL as a duo of starters. But then again, is it really too harsh a term to describe both of these players ? The ineptitude shown by both borders on being comedic and the defense hasn’t proven to be that much better ! But if you thought that both Anderson and Quinn as players are solely to blame. Then let’s add the team’s wide receiver Braylon Edwards into the mix. More like playing with the assistance of braille …….. would be a better word to describe his play at times. Seemingly he becomes short of sight when the ball is thrown his way , as he repeatedly tends to drop more passes than he catches. And when I last looked legally blind players weren’t playing within the NFL. So unless Edwards , himself has a legal disability then his play itself can be described as being mediocre !

Browns'  quarterback  Derek  Anderson  attempts  a  pass in  the  game  played  against  the  Cincinnati  Bengals.   Brown  and  his  teammate  Brady  Quinn  ,  his   backup   have  proven  to  be  a  great   disappointment   for  the  franchise   at  the   position.    Each   have   yet to show the  promise  that  each  was  thought to  have  in  terms  of  leaderpship   and   productivity .      picture  appears   courtesy  of   getty  images/  Jim  McIsaac  ................................
Browns' quarterback Derek Anderson attempts a pass in the game played against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown and his teammate Brady Quinn , his backup have proven to be a great disappointment for the franchise at the position. Each have yet to show the promise that each was thought to have in terms of leaderpship and productivity . picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Jim McIsaac ................................

So what now awaits this team as the season progresses ?

Courtesy of nfl.com

Browns trade Edwards to Jets for Stuckey, draft picks

NFL.com

The Cleveland Browns traded wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets early Wednesday morning for wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, third-year linebacker Jason Trusnik and two undisclosed draft picks.

In acquiring Edwards, a former first-round pick in 2005, the Jets receive a deep threat they had been lacking. Edwards will combine with Jerricho Cotchery to give rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez two proven playmakers as starting wide receivers.

Edwards had been rumored to be on the trading block since the draft in April. He’s off to a slow start in 2009 –- as are the rest of the 0-4 Browns — with 10 receptions for 139 yards and no touchdowns. Last Sunday, he went without a catch for the first time in his career in a 23-20 home loss to Cincinnati. His best season came in 2007, his third in the NFL, when he caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The trade comes a day after the NFL has opened an investigation of whether Edwards violated the league’s conduct policy following accusations he assaulted a man outside a nightclub in downtown Cleveland. Edwards allegedly punched promoter Edward Givens, a friend of NBA star LeBron James, early Monday morning following an argument.

Edwards has been involved in other off-field incidents. In March, he was partying with suspended Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth in Miami the night Stallworth later drove drunk and killed a pedestrian. Edwards was not with Stallworth at the time.

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Jerome  Harrison  (35)  of  the  Browns  is  tackled   by  the  Bengals'   Domata   Peko  (94)   during  the  game.    picture  appears  courtesy  of getty  images/  Jim  McIsaac  ........................
Jerome Harrison (35) of the Browns is tackled by the Bengals' Domata Peko (94) during the game. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Jim McIsaac ........................

NB : At the initial writing of this piece I was unaware of the trade that was going down between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns for wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Hence the reason , I’ve now seen it fit to include the NFL.com article within this piece.