Last summer, we almost found out what football would be without players.
In the first three weeks of this season, we are seeing in New Orleans what football is like without a coach.
And this weekend, we are increasingly finding out what football is like without referees.
Remember the Sunday night game? Belichick runs on the field after what may or may not have been a game winning field goal and grabs the referee in frustration. They don’t make the right calls, and when pressured to review, they run away. They don’t listen.
Bill would’ve been partially vindicated last night. Crazy play, two different calls on the field (right next to each other, morons). Let us go to the videotape. It shows that 1) Golden Tate commits blatent pass interference and shoves Sam Shields to the ground, 2) Jennings for GB gets BOTH hands on the ball and pins it to his chest immediately, and 3) At one point during the fracas, Tate’s hand is loose! It doesn’t seem like the tape shows it, the tape doesn’t “appear to show” as ESPN has been saying all morning. It shows that. Possession for GB.
The NFL’s lack of concern in this matter is as egregious as the errors the referees have made this weekend. Sometimes on sports broadcasts, the announcers try to use evasive language to stay somewhat partial on the matter of questionable calls. But in the league’s top two highest rated marquee games this weekend, the referees hijacked two of the powerhouse NFL teams, and everyone saw it. Collinsworth, Michaels, Tirico, and (especially) Gruden really let it fly during their broadcasts…Gruden went so far as to say it made him sick…”I don’t feel good about this.” For once, ESPN’s hilariously overanalytical somber tone had an appropriate event to display itself.
While most former players don’t make great analysts, the ones that do theoretically know how the game should be played, and the frustration of the aforementioned announcers, the venom from Dilfer and Young afterwards, and the constant coverage on Sportscenter this morning is a product of that knowledge. These guys are also agents of their networks: if the guys considered to be the experts on this game that a network pays millions of dollars to broadcast determine that this game isn’t of the highest quality, why should they announce it? More importantly, why should networks who want to carry high quality programming carry this inferior product?
Obviously, no one is going to drop the NFL from their programming (even if ratings decrease, contracts are signed), and clearly there is no provision in broadcast contracts that prevent broadcasters from trashing the product their network has paid to put on its air; but you have to imagine the embarrassment. ESPN has approximately 293 programs dedicated solely to the NFL (NFL Matchup, NFL32, Audibles, NFL Live, et. al) which for three weeks have been dominated by replacement ref gaffes. You know one of the game’s premiere cornerbacks isn’t going to play football for the rest of the year, and one of the premiere QB’s got Holyfielded on Sunday, but on Sportscenter this morning they each recieved about 25 seconds of coverage. Sportscenter was already pretty much the same on every replay of itself, and recently its been even more finite: “We have a guy on the phone who once watched a Pop Warner game, and sir, did the two extra challenges Jim Harbaugh was gifted make you as sick as the twelve extra yards the Titans recieved made our own Herm Edwards? Good, because he is gonna scream about it now.”
That’s just a league and broadcaster perspective. What about the fan perception? Wanna go to a game this Sunday with the backup zebras? Wanna pay good money to see your team’s play possibly undermined by a high school ref? Wanna see the Packers try to answer their screw job this coming weekend against the Saints? The cheapest stubhub.com ticket is $143.00. To see two teams with one win combined through Week 3. And now that last night happened, you can definitely not say it won’t happen again. So why should you or I pay for it?
What if you are Seattle? Here is what you learned last night: Your football team is full of liars and Golden Tate is the king of them. Their attitude takes away from a united front the players need to have to create further push to get these refs out. “The refs suck, unless its in our favor” is not gonna get it done. It sucks to have to go out there in front of the press and save face, but blatently lying is another story. The replays are clear. Also, Golden Tate is a jackass. Watch the replay, Terrible First Name. Then maybe you can tell Lisa Salters “Oh! Okay, now I knowhatchootalkinbout.”
Maybe now that the Inaccurate Reception (can’t take credit for that) has occurred, the fans might begin to look for alternate programming, right? One, no way, because its still football at the highest level, athough the level is dipping. But secondly, there is still a reason to watch on Sundays. Its the ultimate reality TV: People dealing with extroadinary circumstances in their everyday routines. Let’s see how poorly they can botch a call against my rival team. What’s the over/under on guys slipping on a referee’s hat for the rest of the season? Its like a car wreck…you have to keep watching. So welcome to the new National Football League: now, more like reality television. So bad, its good.
Not organized, but here it is. The 2012 NFL Preview here at sportsrelatedtoday.com. I gotta tell you, when I finished this column, I could not believe I was picking who I was picking and against whom. You can ruin the surprise and skip the article if you want, all the way down to the end and check it out now. Up to you, son. I’ll give you one hint: It’s not the Eagles.
Keep calm and read on.
Replacement refs will cost someone a game that will make them miss the playoffs. You know that these guys are going to be pivotal in more than one week of games, ESPECIALLY because of the tenor of negotiations thus far that sound remarkably like the NFL/NBA labor disputes of last year. But what the hell are the NFL people watching? There have been ABSURD misjudgements (not a word) among the replacement officials in preseason, the worst being a ball being called a touchback in a Buffalo game, despite the ball being downed on the 4 yard line. That’s a blatent no-brainer, right? Nope. Chan Gailey had to waste a challenge flag to overturn the call. If its preseason for players, its preseason for referees too, I suppose. But can you say this scenario is far-fetched? A team (Cleveland, let’s be serious) finishes 9-7 (not serious anymore), and one more win would have gotten them the division and a playoff berth, but in Week One, they have used all their challenge flags, can’t challenge the ball spot on a crucial 4th down end zone leap, and its called a turnover on downs, despite television replays clearly showing the ball crossed the plane. Oh, and it’s inside two minutes in the 4th quarter. You can insert any team in there (like one with a quarterback who could actually perform a two minute drill, PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS, WEEDEN!) and its totally realistic. It’s GOING TO HAPPEN. Prepare for it.
None of the rookie quarterbacks will make the playoffs. I’m legitimately intrigued by the rookie QB class this year, especially wondering about Russell Wilson. There are those media cats that would get you to believe that TWO of these guys (Luck, Griffin) will make the playoffs, but let’s be serious about all of them.
Wilson – Niners win that division, and there are definitely too many teams better that eliminate Seattle from the Wild Card.
Griffin – NFC East, three teams WAY better than the Redskins, all with VETERAN QUARTERBACKS.
Weeden – Is, unfortunately, a Cleveland Brown. Same problem as RGIII, also. He’s also sharing the offense with another rookie in Trent Richardson.
Tannehill – See Weeden.
Luck – Probably the best chance, but in the same division as Houston.
Everybody – Good teams aren’t throwing rookies at quarterback barring injury. Not only that, what were the other key offseason moves for these teams? Seahawks sign Braylon Edwards? Super! Redskins release Chris Cooley? None of these teams got any decent complimentary pieces anywhere but in the draft. That does not a good rookie year make.
This will be Andy Reid’s last year as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. HE HASN’T DONE ANYTHING!!! Something always happens with this god damn team. I’m a die-hard fan, admittedly. But every year, its Andy Reid telling us that something needs to change, that Donovan McNabb was past his prime, that we needed to improve our defense…every year, something else. Not only that, he’s also executive VP of football operations (read: GM) so he’s responsible for stuff like trading our first round pick within the division for Kevin Kolb (could’ve gotten a Pro Bowl tackle like Joe Staley to protect McNabb and eventually Vick). Luckily, Arizona greatly overvalued Kolb and we were compensated. But the only thing that has stayed consistent in that time is Fat Andy. He’s basically a lock to make the playoffs, but consistently mismanages time and play calls to lose playoff games (including the only Super Bowl he’s reached). It’s time for a change at the top in Philly. Cowher? Dungy? Gruden? CALL THESE MOFOS.
(Addendum: I wrote the previous part on Thursday. On Friday, this happened...http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8320620/philadelphia-eagles-owner-re-evaluate-coach-andy-reid-season. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. “Paper doesn’t get you that far if you don’t maximize it.” Oh…truer words, my friends. Truer words.)
Something about Peyton Manning. Man, I just don’t know what to think about Denver. If they were .500 with Tebow taking most of the snaps, stands to reason that Peyton would upgrade them, right? Also, that division is kinda weak, although the Chiefs are on the up-and-up with their injuries clearing up (Eric Berry). I just cannot, though, get behind an offense with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker starting at WR. I’m sure Peyton can make all the throws with his surgically repaired neck, but I’m not convinced Thomas and Decker can make all the catches. Their defense is only okay. They also have tough sledding before their week 6 bye: Pittsburgh, AT Atlanta (almost certainly a loss) Houston, Oakland (basically a bye week), then at New England (loss) and at San Diego. They lose at least three of those games, right? It gets easier after their bye, but if they make the playoffs, they aren’t just playing the so-so Chiefs and the terrible Raiders week in and week out. I gotta say…i’m just not sold on them. They will probably stay home for the playoffs.
There’s a lot of really awful teams out there…right? Not really. There’s only EIGHT teams I could say that I would be absolutely shocked if they made the playoffs (Rams, Vikings, Redskins, Raiders, Jags, Colts, Browns, Dolphins) which should make for a pretty decent year of football over all. Any of the teams from the NFC South could make the playoffs and I wouldn’t be shocked, but I would be surprised if any of them did anything once they got there.
Who dat say dey gon’ beat dem Saints? Probably the most intriguing team out there before the season starts. What can you expect from them? Their defense is very suspect without a certain leader, and their offensive line coach is the head coach until the backup head coach gets back from a suspension to take over for the actual head coach…who is suspended. Their offense is still deep and filled with heavy hitters, but their schedule has some serious offenses as well (Atlanta twice, Philadelphia, Dallas, Carolina) so as long as those teams can put up similar numbers, New Orleans might be in trouble in the long run.
Man, the Jets are just…terrible. I thought about putting them on my absolutely awful list from two items ago, but that Tebow magic is preventing me from doing so. Don’t misread that: I absolutely hate Tim Tebow, think he’s a no-talent vagina sandwich that couldn’t throw a football straight if his pastor’s life depended on it. But they didn’t trade for him to have him sit on the bench, right? So WHEN (not if, when) he gets the keys to the offense, it might look terrible at first, but he wins games. That doesn’t make the Jets a good football team. Their schedule is a mine field (division games, except Miami, are a problem for them, they also get Houston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco), and they are starting a rookie at wideout because their corps is just awful, save Santonio Holmes. Chillin in the basement this year, boys. This is another team that could probably use a change at head coach. It doesn’t count that he just got smaller.
AND HOW DO YOU ONLY SCORE ONE TOUCHDOWN IN PRESEASON?!?!?! ITS FUCKING PRESEASON!!! Only your THIRD STRING GUY could get you a touchdown??? Damn. This. Team. Is. Fucking. Screwed.
I’m going to win a fantasy football league this year. Not that you care, I’m just sick of losing fantasy leagues! I haven’t won one of any consequence in some time, leading me to fake retire from fantasy football before filing my un-retirement paper work a few days ago. I did, however, quit my money league for a smaller money league…which I’m totally going to win. Suck on that, friends and co-workers.
These are your AFC playoff teams. Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Chiefs, Bills. Looks pretty easy for the Patriots here. The AFC is pretty cut and dry this year…I’m only unsure about the Broncos and Steelers. That’s gonna be a tight division. The Bills are intruiguing…improved on D, another year on for the offense. I think they get in but there’s no way they win a game.
These are your NFC playoff teams. Eagles, Giants, 49ers, Bears, Packers, Falcons. NFC is better this year. Only 2 of my shock-playoff teams are in the NFC, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if most teams made the playoffs, only 6 will. That means making some tough decisions, particularly about the Saints and Cowboys. Slightly unrelated: I want the Panthers to be better, I really do, because of my budding man-crush on Cam Newton. But they aren’t…certainly aren’t in the best 6 teams in the conference. They only have 5 games on their schedule that they should absolutely win (2 vs. Bucs, Seattle at home, Oakland at home, and at Washington). Besides that, more than a few upsets would be needed (Falcons and Saints twice of course, at Chicago, at Philly for a Monday night game). Anyway, I don’t like the Cowboys because they are the NFC version of the Jets…a pretender at QB, off-field drama, and a huge windbag in charge. Sadly, Tony Romo is a good regular season quarterback, but disappears when it matters. That will continue to be the downfall of the Cowboys. He’s a small-time and only third best in HIS DIVISION. YES, VICK IS A BETTER QB. I hate to say it but, so is Eli. This will keep Dallas out of the playoffs this year. The Saints, well…we covered that.
This is your Super Bowl. San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots. The Niners have by far the best defense in football, their offense is just good enough. The Patriots are obviously crazy on offense, Gronkowski is ridiculous, Welker and Brady with something to prove, Patriots well-balanced. I just cannot see a team in the AFC in this game other than New England (except maybe Baltimore). The NFC, as we covered above, is slightly more complex. Any of the 6 teams I named could make it to the Super Bowl (though I would rank their chances from best to worst in this order: Niners, Packers, Bears, Giants, Eagles, Falcons). Let’s say that the Cowboys or Saints did manage to sneak in to this group (likely in place of the Falcons and Bears). If that was the case, the Cowboys would certainly be on the bottom and the Saints MAYBE 3rd or 4th. It’s a car wreck at the top of the NFC, and the Niners are going to walk away unharmed.
This is your Super Bowl Champion. The Patriots are good. They are one of the best teams in recent history…but at some point you have to start getting realistic. There has to be a reason of some kind as to why they haven’t been able to break through and win a Super Bowl despite being so good for so long. Sounds like one of the teams I mentioned earlier…a figure overlording the team that has possibly become bigger than the team itself. Belichick is kinda ridiculous. We call him quiet, but I’m starting to feel like he doesn’t talk in press conferences because he’s arrogant. We’ve only ever seen him show emotion after winning the Super Bowls, but I like my coach to be a little more emotive, shows the fans the coach cares about the on-field product. Andy doesn’t seem like he cares much either. You can also say that reason is Spygate, but only haters say that shit. Spygate doesn’t make Tom Brady the best quarterback in the league…unfortunately, recently, he doesn’t make the Patriots win Super Bowls…he does everything he can but never takes the game over. Brutal, I know…but this SF defense is stout, and while everyone is usually scared of Baltimore, this defense is better than even them. Yikes. Unfortunately, the Pats defense is still…meh. And the deep threat of Randy Moss (if the rumors are true) makes them Niners serious. Deal with it, kids.
San Francisco 27, New England 21.
To celebrate the fourth birthday of sportsrelated (aka olympickamil aka celtics related aka sportsrelatedtoday), the same 24-hour Olympic Marathon will take place, along with full and thorough coverage of the 2012 London Olympics. Here’s why it will be better this time.
1. I won’t be nearly as drunk as I was the first time.
2. See 1.
I’m currently scouting the Olympic schedule to find the best period during which I will set the blogosphere ablaze with my dazzling wit, updates on small countries’ pitiful attempts to win medals, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and…handball. Oh lord, the handball. I can’t believe that’s a sport.
And yeah, we’re gonna have to sit through a lot of garbage, just like every Olympics (I’m looking at you, synchronized swimming), but all the other stuff is gonna be…tolerable-ish. Here’s a few things to look forward to/questions I have.
1. Phelps – Did you know he was such a prick? He seems like such a fun-loving goofball, but Ronda Rousey wants to kill him. I guess it makes sense, he’s the most important American Olympic athlete in the past two games. But don’t get ahead of yourself, homie. You only matter every four years. NBA guys play every year. Even gymnastics is on TV once or twice a year. There’s not swimming on TV unless it’s Olympic time, and that’s kinda gonna always be the case. You get two Olympics in the pool if you’re good, three if you’re lucky, four if you’re REALLY lucky, and six if you’re Dara Torres. So we really only care about you for like 3 weeks every four years. Stop being an unlikeable douche and maybe we’ll like you otherwise. Jagoff.
I bet Ronda could take his skinny ass.
2. Trampoline – Come on, just plain fun. Flipping around on a god damn trampoline. How do you train for trampoline? By having a trampoline? Shouldn’t everyone under one million pounds be a contender in trampoline? Also, this “sport” has got to be not just the flipping, but the height. I propose an integration with the X-Games: Trampoline Big Air. Open roof stadium, big ass trampoline, whoever gets their head out of the roof wins.
3. Men’s soccer – Totally forgot the the USA won’t even be competing in soccer this year, leaving the ladies to hold the mantle for America’s most keep-it-under-the-rug sport. Not like it matters, though, since Spain is probably going to continue its footy dominance. Interestingly, though, they haven’t played in the Olympics since 2000…but still, the World Cup and Euro Cup are likely more important than an Olympic medal, so they’ll be playing with no pressure. Gold there is pretty much sewn up.
MORE TO COME!
Unfortunately, I am the only contributor to this publication from top to bottom (and my boss is a dick). It has become clear to me that to keep the blog fresh and updated more frequently, I’m going to need contributors. So, polish up a writing sample and email it to me at email@example.com. Put “Contributor sample” in the subject line, and your name somewhere I can read it.
I’m not looking to hold anyone to any deadlines or make you have a minimum of words or anything like that; rather, I am just trying to set up a network of people who A) like sports/pop culture, B) Can write intelligently/humorously about anything regarding those umbrella topics, and C) can do so on a semi-regular basis, i.e. once or twice a month. You don’t have to be a sports genius (i’m clearly not). You do have to be entertaining, relevant, and CORRECT about any facts you may mention. Also, spelling shit correctly is important.
Now while I don’t want people to have to write stuff every single day, I would not mind handing the blog over to anyone who would want to make a daily contribution in the form of quick hit sport stories or pop culture gripes. However, keep in mind that I will still hold editorial control and final cut, and I will probably use it judiciously and as I see fit. With all that said, I look forward to the possible entries. THERE IS NO LIMIT to how many people I will theoretically employ, so don’t be worried about missing out on a spot or anything like that. Amount of content is most important. Look forward to hearing from any and all who are interested.
A couple of ladies came to my bar when the NBA Playoffs started a few weeks back and requested to watch the Sixers vs. Bulls, game 1.
Sure, I said…I’ll get that right on for you.
One of them noticed the Phillies armband I always wear behind the bar and said something along the lines of, “Sorry your team is about to get rolled by my Bulls.”
I responded, “No, my team is about to beast the Hawks.”
She looked confused. “Aren’t you from Philly?”
“So why don’t you root for the Sixers???”
I thought for a second, and said “The nineties.”
I reached the 1990′s at the age of nine, and three years later, I was devastated by the Toronto Blue Jays’ walk-off World Series win over my childhood hero Phillies. Having played baseball when I was little, I loved the Phillies the most of all the pro Philadelphia teams, even though they were pretty foul after their previous World Series appearance in 1983 (7 of their next 9 seasons under .500).
But I did watch the Sixers a little, if only because Philadelphia still loved them by the time we get to 1993, although they were about to begin their swoon…however, they had made the playoffs every year since 1975-76 (except 87-88) until 91-92. The Eagles were up and down, the Flyers were just like they are now (playoffs a bunch, nothing to show for it). Sixers were really the only game in town if you wanted sustained success from your rooting interest.
In Charles Barkley’s last season with the team (91-92), the Sixers would finish 35-47, their first losing season that would begin a streak of seven. Barkley demanded a trade, and the rest is history. But its history the Sixers, seemingly, keep repeating, despite success now. Barkley demanded a trade because his workload was too heavy. Example? In the three years the Sixers made the playoffs before that 91-92 losing effort, Barkley scored 21.8 percent of the Sixers total points, and missed only 21 games. In 88-89, he grabbed 29 percent of the team’s total rebounds. In 90-91, a season in which he only started 67 games, he was second on the team (among starters) in THREE POINT PERCENTAGE. Yes. Charles Barkley. Hit nearly a third of his threes.
Chuck was overworked. Just get the man some help, right?
Nah, let’s not. Let’s trade him. And they did. So long, Round Mound. So long, basketball in Philadelphia.
And here’s the meat of the argument. Sixers basketball was nothing short of pathetic in the years to come, and they started that patheticness IMMEDIATELY, in 92-93. Here’s some examples.
92-93: Manute Bol starts 23 games. Two coaches, neither over .500. Their best player is Hersey Hawkins, and along with Jeff Hornacek (from the Barkley trade), they are a solid offensive team, but god awful on D. Hawkins, though, is pretty good, averaging 20 points a game and hitting nearly 40% of his threes, so after the season is over, they trade him to Charlotte for Dana Barros and Sidney Green. You’ve heard of Sidney Green, right? Yeah, me neither. They also signed a 38-year old Moses Malone, who contributed profusely with 5.3 points a game. They would also draft Shawn Bradley with the 2nd pick in the 1993 NBA Draft (Chris Webber went first), missing out on six other 10,000+ point scorers.
93-94: Finish 25-57. Shawn Bradley is the highest paid player on the team, despite playing only 49 games, being the 6th highest scorer on the team, and being the third WORST free throw shooter. Only one player (Clarence Weatherspoon, WHO??!?!?) starts all 82 games. Need some help again! Let’s go to the draft, where we have TWO first round picks! Gimme Sharone Wright (#6) and BJ Tyler (#20)! To be fair, this isn’t a phenomenal draft, but Jalen Rose was available where Wright was, and BJ Tyler was taken ahead of, hell…Wesley Person? That may not sound like that much of an upgrade, until I tell you that Tyler would only play 55 NBA games, only starting in 8.
94-95: Still pretty terrible. Hornacek is gone (3rd leading scorer on the team last season), but he’s 30, and getting old, and who needs him to facilitate this offense (or what’s left of it…they would finish the year 25th out of 27 offenses), right? Let’s trade him, and bring in Jeff Malone (who? Actually a decent scorer). Good move though, as he only had 4 more productive seasons. That’s all, just four. Aaaaaaand its draft time, also. This is where Philly finally makes a sensible decision and snags Jerry Stackhouse. Of course, they coulda had Kevin Garnett or Micheal Finley.
95-96: The worst season EVER. 18-64. 24 men played for the Sixers during this season. Just god awful. But its okay, help is on the way, right? Right?!?!?
(to be continued…)
I had faith in you, Bama. At least out of the first round. God damnit. Today is not going well.
God damnit, missed San Diego State. You rat fuckers. PLAY SOME BASKETBALL. By the way, I’m SERIOUSLY missing Gus Johnson. He is the shit. What the fuck.
Texas couldn’t complete their comeback, tough play down the stretch but couldn’t close it down the stretch and they will lose, meaning I also lost my first game of the day. 14 correct yesterday! That’s really good! I don’t want to start off today with a loss. It’s all downhill from here.