Friday, November 22, 2013

Post NFL Weeks 9-10-11 Predictions

Predictions based on the results of Weeks 9-10-11

Just a few predictions from the last month or so, with no apparent rhyme or reason (or so I would have you believe [there’s no rhyme or reason])

Pearl Jam will go with a new advertising strategy during the World Series, paying FOX to go to commercial break with PJ songs. Joe Buck will attempt to show the kids how hip he is to the music of today by talking about a new song by the band that actually came out 20 years ago. Some might argue that Buck was merely straddling the space-time continuum, but I think it’s more that he just has no idea who or what a Pearl Jam is.

Quick thought: FOX obviously new it was going to be using a plethora of Pearl Jam songs during the World Series. I would assume Buck new as well, since he was part of the promotion. So wouldn’t Buck, or one of the producers, make sure he knew which songs were from the new album and which were from back in the day? Especially since it is quite apparent that Buck is not a Pearl Jam fan. Nothing wrong with that, to each his or her own, but if you’re not a fan of a band and that band’s songs are going to be used during your broadcast as part of a promotion wouldn’t you do the necessary research to make sure you had all the important information?

One week later, Troy Aikman will prove how he has football on the brain, when he will say, “to use a baseball term, it was a three and out.” Guy literally can’t get football out of his head. Maybe that’s a side effect of concussions. NFL should really look into this.

Why do I bring both of these stories up? Because Buck and Aikman will be the announcers during Super Bowl XLVIII (this year’s game). Might be a good time to try the SAP button on your remote.

After week 11, the NFC East will be the NFC at-least-three-teams-are-in-contention-for-the-division-title-making-this-race-more-interesting-than-you-would-think-because-of-the-teams’-records.

Even Washington, 3-7 and in last place, will be only 2.5 games behind the division leader after week 11.

Tampa Bay, which started 0-8, will be 2-8 after beating the Falcons in week 11. Atlanta, which last year went to the NFC Championship, will also be 2-8 after week 11. Perennial Super Bowl darkhorse favorite Houston will also be 2-8 after week 11.

Let that sit with you for just a second. Atlanta and Houston will be just one game ahead of Jacksonville after week 11.

The Jaguars and Bucs will pick up their first wins of the season on the same week. The next week, Jacksonville will come to its senses and get back to losing, while Tampa Bay will win yet again.

So to recap, the Jaguars are still the frontrunners for downey for Clowney, but they have some competition. Who will screw up and win games down the stretch? Stay tuned!

Denver will put to rest all that talk about it being a wild card with an emphatic win over Kansas City. The 1972 Dolphins will be able to party like it’s, well, 1972. The 2013 Dolphins will not be able to party because they are grounded.

Richie Incognito, not content with merely bullying Jonathan Martin, will file a grievance against the Dolphins, which could be construed as an attempt to bully THE ENTIRE TEAM.

The Bull is strong in this one.

Carolina will be on a six-game winning streak after week 11, with victories over the Niners and the Patriots.

Carolina-New England will end when officials pick up a flag that would have given the Patriots first and goal at the one-yard line with one play to win or lose the game. The world will all agree it was a terrible no-call. Well, the TUCK YOU, Patriots.”

MOMENT THAT GRINDED MY GEARS ENOUGH TO WRITE ABOUT IT (in letter form)

Dear Sports Announcers,

This may seem like I’m picking on Kirk Herbstreit, but I’m not. I think Herbstreit is great - one of the best analysts maybe ever. He knows the game, he's not condescending, he sounds like he's having fun doing the broadcasts...it makes me feel like you could be having a beer with him while watching the game and it would be exactly how it sounds on TV. So this is not an anti-Herbstreit thing. This is actually a message to all play-by-play and color analysts. Yes, it was Herbstreit who prompted this letter, but this is not about him. It’s about all of you. And a word you all tend to toss around.

“Courage.”

Towards the end of USC’s upset win over Stanford, Herbstreit said that the Trojans had shown a “lot of courage” in beating the Cardinal. That stuck with me. Was it really courage they showed? These are football players, playing a football game, against a conference opponent that they play every year. It’s not like Stanford was this big bad bully that USC stood up to when it didn't have to. Heck, talent-wise, both teams were probably fairly similar. But to go in and upset a top-ranked team when you are not ranked…is that courage?

I say it’s not. I say analysts should no longer be allowed to use the word courage when discussing how a team played. That, to me, is not courage. You could say they showed confidence, or moxie, or onions if you’re Bill Raftery. Those all would be applicable. But courage, to me, should be reserved for life or death situations. For situations where one makes a conscious decision to do something regardless of the consequences to one's well being. To be military, law enforcement, firefighters, first responders and the like, THAT takes real courage – to go into a battle, to fight crime, to run into a burning building, to run into a disaster to help the wounded…all of these are conscious decisions that are made to risk one's life to help others.

Some might make the argument that football is a violent sport and that these players are risking their lives when they step out on the field. To a point, I would agree with that. I think a receiver who goes over the middle and makes a catch even when he knows he’s about to be clobbered by a charging safety shows courage. I think a quarterback who ignores the defensive end flying at him to complete a pass before getting pancaked to the ground shows courage. I think a running back who takes on basically the entire defensive front seven to try and get one yard shows courage. But those are on specific plays, from specific players, in specific moments. And even those situations don’t have the same ring as “fire fighter runs into burning building” or “cop chases down armed suspect.”

I guess what I feel is that the word “courage” is being taken for granted. Did Stanford not show courage because it lost to USC? Both teams played just as hard, but USC just finished with more points. Heck, for my money, military spouses show more courage every day than a football team does on game day – what they deal with and worry about on a day-to-day basis while still functioning…it’s amazing. 

So announcers, let’s put the kibosh on using “courage” for any sort of sports situation. It insults those people who show true courage. Like bloggers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bully For Them

We take a break from our regularly scheduled predictions to bring you a very important message:

Bullying sucks. Bullies suck. People who let Bullies Bully are cowards.

With that in mind, I give you the 2013 Miami Dolphins!!


When word came out that the Miami Dolphins’ young offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, had left the team because he was being harassed and bullied by fellow lineman Richie Incognito, the responses were predictable. The few who thought it was ridiculous that a grown man was bullying another grown man were drowned out by the majority who felt that Incognito was trying to make a man out of Martin and only real men play football and therefore Martin must not have been a real man and he needed to be toughened up. Apparently, you toughen people up by calling them names and telling them you’re going to kill them.

The Dolphins immediately suspended Incognito indefinitely and put on the reserve/non-football injury list. Neither will play again for Miami this season.

The Dolphins coaching staff/front office claimed they had no idea this was going on, but there are also reports that they told Incognito to toughen Martin up. There are also reports that Martin went to GM Jeff Ireland, who allegedly told Martin he needed to punch Incognito.

Dolphin teammates rushed to the defense of…Incognito, saying they had no problem with him (a white guy) calling Martin (a black guy), the N-word, before falling into the “we’re just concentrating on football” line of defense.

Former teammates rushed to the defense of…Martin, saying that a) the Dolphins absolutely knew what was going on and 2) Incognito is a jackass.

Analysts used Martin’s Stanford education and Harvard-educated parents as reasons why he doesn’t fit into an NFL locker room. I can’t decide if that’s more insulting to Martin or the other guys in the locker room. Also, I have no idea how that leads to Martin getting bullied.

There are so many things that bother me about this story, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with this idea that in order to “toughen someone up,” you need to harass and bully them. Say what? Didn’t that idea die out in the 50s and 60s? By the way, both decades called: they want the way they raised their sons back. Where else in today’s world does anyone think this is a good strategy?

Why did anyone think that Martin needed to be tougher? He started for four years at Stanford, a team that year in and year out played “smash-mouth football.” Two of those years he played under head coach Jim Harbaugh, who seems pretty tough. He even yells at little kids! I don’t know about you, but I’m confident in saying Harbaugh wouldn’t accept anything but toughness from his players.

What kind of sick mind thinks it’s ok to treat someone the way Incognito was treating Martin? Please note: the sick mind is not only that of Incognito’s but also anyone on the Dolphins who felt that his actions were necessary and/or beneficial to Martin. All of these “big, strong, tough” men didn’t have the balls to say to Incognito, “hey leave that guy alone.”

And kudos to the absolute moron who decided that Incognito, a guy who has had numerous off field issues, who is currently with his third team in eight years, would be good to have on the Dolphins’ player leadership council. At that point, you’re just asking for trouble, which you received, so job well done.

This might sound simple but apparently it’s way too complex for the Dolphins: we’re all different. Different people respond to different things in different ways. Perhaps some players like getting yelled at, maybe that’s what works for them to get fired up on the football field. Other players just like quiet solitude, alone with their thoughts, getting their minds on the task at hand.

I’ve never met Jonathan Martin, but the people on TV tell me he’s quiet. I guess that was one of the factors that led to him being bullied. I get the sense that he didn’t feel he needed to be pushed and bullied around to become “tough.” He was tough already, but because he didn’t fit in with what the Dolphins perceived “tough” looks like, he needed to be toughened up. For the Dolphins, making their players tougher is a “one size fits all” method, which as we all know is how the real world operates. Everyone gets motivated the same way, right? No? Oh.

Look, I know it’s hard to stop someone from bullying others. We tend to let bullies get away with bullying because we don’t want them to turn their attentions on us. Much easier to let them pick on somebody else. I have been bullied, and I have bullied. And even if I wasn’t the one actively bullying, I didn’t stop those who were bullying, and that makes me a bully by association. I don’t really think about the times when I was bullied. I do, however, think about the times where I was the bully, either actively or passively. To this day, it bothers me that I wasn’t strong enough to stop people from bullying others.

I might not have been strong enough to stand up to bullies, but Jonathan Martin was. After being harassed and threatened and pushed around, he had enough. He was man enough to do something about it. That’s why, for my money, the toughest player on that Miami Dolphins team is currently on the reserved/non-football injury list.

NOTE: The best article written on this situation was by Brian Phillips for Grantland. Read it. After you read mine, of course.