The football season is officially over, the economy is in the toilet and the groundhog has seen his shadow. Yikes. February blows. Well, at least I have a good cup of coffee to keep me going.
mmmmm...a great way to start your day!
I come into the office early; some would consider it to be stupidly early, but I’m usually the one to make the coffee. This morning, I was met with a science experiment gone horribly wrong. I’m not sure if I was witness to the birth of a new life form or an alternative source of fuel, but it had to go. I need coffee. Coffee is the sustainer of life in these trying times. Coffee gets us going. Coffee makes us smile. Coffee helps us write sentences longer than four words. Must have coffee.
Oh well, I suppose I shouldn’t be too depressed. After all, it’s only 6 more months until the start of the NFL preseason…
The New York Giants fined and suspended Plaxico Burress on Tuesday for four games — the rest of the regular season — after he accidentally shot himself in the right thigh over the weekend at a Manhattan nightclub. The team also placed him on the reserve non-football injury list, which means the wide receiver couldn’t come back for the playoffs.
So Burress is finished with the Giants this year, but that may only be the beginning of his problems. In 2006, New York passed anti-gun legislation with mandatory minimums and Burress could be looking at some real jail time:
[The anti-gun law] eliminated a provision that gave judges the option of not imposing jail time on people found guilty of illegally possessing a loaded firearm.
Instead, the three-and-a-half year minimum sentence was established. As a result, legal experts said Tuesday, Burress may have little wiggle room as he tries to avoid prison time.
“Even if he pleads down, he can only plead down one count and he would still face a minimum of two years in prison,” said Robert C. Gottlieb, a New York-based criminal defense lawyer and a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
“The other wiggle room is that he could try and prevent the district attorney’s office from charging him with this crime and charge him with a lesser crime.”
Charging Burress with a lesser crime would like spark a wave of criticism in New York and around the country. Considering we just elected a president who is pro gun control, this may not be the best time for a more “relaxed” charge. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg appears to be in no mood for a lesser sentence:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who Monday stressed in no uncertain times that Burress made a “a sham, a mockery” of the law and that he should be fully prosecuted, was less vociferous yesterday.
What a mess. All from an athlete believing that the rules did not apply to him and who didn’t take the time to learn about the proper way to handle a handgun.
In today’s dose of What’s Wrong with the NFL, the headlines read “Plexico Burress Surrenders to Police.” Why would the NY Giants star wide receiver and hero of Superbowl XLII be surrendering to police?
Nearly three days after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress turned himself in at a New York City police precinct in midtown Manhattan on Monday morning to face charges of criminal possession of a handgun.
At 8 a.m., Burress, escorted by his lawyer, stepped out of a black Cadillac Escalade and walked calmly into the 17th Precinct station house at East 51st Street and Lexington Avenue — three blocks north of the night club where the incident took place — as throngs of onlookers, some of them heckling, and reporters stood behind metal barricades. Dressed in jeans and a white shirt with a collar, Burress did not appear to be limping, and said nothing as he entered the precinct.
Yes, he shot himself in the leg. I’ve heard the saying I shot myself in the foot, but that was in reference to getting out of something bad and making a mistake. Why would Burress want to jeopardize his pro career and millions of dollars? What are his options?
Burress plans to plead not guilty to a weapon possession charge during a Monday afternoon court appearance, his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said outside the police station. Conviction on the charge could result in at least 3 1/2 years in prison.
“He is standing tall. He is a mature adult,” said Brafman. “I think any professional athlete in this situation would be concerned.”
And there is the problem. “I think any professional athlete in this situation would be concerned.” Why do professional athletes get into these situations? Why do the insist on hanging-out with the “wrong” crowd and decide to arm themselves? In the case of Burress, he was obviously in greater danger from himself than from others. Why do these stories keep coming?
I’m sure more will come out of this, but it is just another example of why I need to explain bizarre behavior to my kids and remind them that professional athletes are NOT role models…again.
In an attempt to return to the NFL as soon as possible, Michael Vick appeared in court yesterday to face the music:
Michael Vick pleaded guilty yesterday to a state dogfighting charge in Sussex, Va., and was sentenced to a suspended jail term.
The resolution of the state charges against Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who is serving a 23-month federal prison sentence and is on indefinite suspension by the NFL, could hasten his prospective return to football. With no further charges pending against him, Vick becomes eligible to serve the final portion of his federal prison sentence in a halfway house.
“I want to apologize to the court, my family and to all the kids who looked up to me as a role model,” Vick told the judge during yesterday’s hearing, according to the Associated Press.
But there’s no guarantee when or if he’ll get into a halfway house, and a messy bankruptcy case is just beginning to make its way through the court.
Once the NFL’s highest-paid player, the 28-year-old Vick has lost nearly all the record-breaking $130 million from a 10-year deal he signed with Atlanta in December 2004.
Although NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t ruled out reinstating Vick, he hasn’t said he will.
“Mike takes full responsibility for his actions and is ready to move forward and will let his actions speak for him,” Vick’s agent Joel Segal said outside the courtroom. He wouldn’t talk specifically about Vick’s NFL future.
$130 million lost, ouch. I wonder if he is eligible for a government bailout…
Upon release from prison, Vick plans to apply for re-instatement to the NFL. The NFL would not comment on Tuesday’s proceedings, according to spokesman Greg Aiello. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is on record as saying Vick won’t play for the team again.
The Falcons will have the option of releasing him and taking a major salary-cap hit. They also could attempt to trade Vick, like Dallas did with embattled Tennessee cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones last season.
“Mike is working out and staying in great shape,” said Joel Segal, Vick’s agent. “We talked yesterday, and he told me he was about 208 [pounds] and he looked great.”
There will be controversy surrounding any team that acquires Vick.
“I hope they’re prepared to face the dog lovers of America,” Kansas City president and general manager Carl Peterson said. “There are going to be a lot of problems. People love their pets, and particularly dogs. There will be protests, people expressing their thoughts — even though he’s served his time.”
You can bet there will be controversy. He will have been away from the game for 2-3 years and be trying to play the toughest position in football. I’m sure he has done a good job “staying in shape,” but prison shape and NFL game shape are two very different things. Add to that the stigma of having a quarterback who admitted to throwing family pets into the ring with vicious attack dogs to watch them get mauled and you will have a tough sell to the fans.
In the end, I’m sure some team will take a flier on Vick because of the potential up-side he has. Personally, I don’t think you are given that many chances for greatness in your lifetime and I’m not sure Vick deserves to take a spot that may prevent another more deserving individual from fulfilling their dream.
Disturbing news out of Houston today regarding Packers Wide Receiver Donald Driver’s dad, Marvin Driver:
The father of a noted NFL player was in critical condition Wednesday, two days after an incident in which his family says Houston police officers beat the man while arresting him on outstanding traffic warrants.
Police said Marvin Driver, the father of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, was taken into custody about 1:30 a.m. on Monday. He was unresponsive when he arrived at the Southeast Jail on Mykawa, police said.
Family members say 56-year-old Marvin Driver was beaten by officers after being arrested at his mother’s house in southeast Houston.
Late Wednesday, Houston police spokesman Victor Senties declined to address specific questions regarding the allegations. But in a statement, HPD noted that the internal affairs division is investigating claims “that injuries he sustained following his arrest were the result of an assault on Mr. Driver by two HPD officers.”
Wait, he was arrested and left the house in good shape and arrived at the jail having been beaten? How did this all start?
The incident began late Sunday when Driver was dropping his brother, Winston Driver, off after the two had moved furniture, family members said.
Officers stopped Marvin Driver Jr. in front of his mother’s home, relatives said. An argument took place between police and Driver’s family, as well as between Driver and officers over the language police were using, according to the written statement issued by family members.
Police told relatives Driver was being taken to jail for the outstanding warrants, relatives said. “Later, the family found out he never made it to the jail,” the statement said.
Something is missing here. I’d like to believe that HPD officers are not roaming gangs of thugs that randomly beat individuals for no reason, there has to be more to this story. Quanell X has appeared on the scene to help the Driver family and had this to say:
Houston Activist Quanell X says Marvin Driver was taken behind a local gas station by police officers, kicked and beaten. Quanell X also said officers allegedly forced Marvin Driver to swallow something and allegedly taunted him by saying, “This is going to take you to Jesus.”
What? “Take you to Jesus?” Really, that’s what they said? Isn’t there video of the event from the police car? HPD does not comment on cases like this, but I’m very interested in their side of the story. From the sports perspective, the Packers are giving all the time and support Driver needs to be there with his father.
The Packers previously had planned to give Driver, their 10th-year veteran receiver, time off from practice on Wednesday and Thursday because the 33-year old has been dealing with several nagging injuries, but coach Mike McCarthy said Driver has “had a personal situation that has come up, and he’s dealing with that right now.”
McCarthy declined further comment but said he believed Driver would be back with the team in time for Monday’s game at New Orleans.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he has not spoken with Driver but was aware of the situation.
“This is a family in here, and we support each other,” Rodgers said. “It’s a difficult situation, and we’re just going to come behind him and pray for him and be there for him when he returns.”
All I can say is, my thoughts are with the Driver family and I hope for the speedy recover of Mr. Driver. I also hope for a quick resolution of the events of this case and the guilty be punished with the same level of intensity used in the beating of Mr. Driver. If this case is found to be an act of brutality, HPD will have a lot of explaining to do.
In yesterday’s game between Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers, the NFL referees made a call that had a big impact on Las Vegas. Referees make calls all the time that have an impact on Vegas, but this one was different. To understand, start by watching the video of the play:
I saw this live. The Chargers were desperate for a last-second score to try and win the game so they pitched the ball around trying to find an open player. The Steelers Troy Polamalu snared one of those throws and ran it back for a touchdown. The clock showed all zeros and the game appeared to be over. Next thing you know, the referees were on the field reviewing the play and, as the video shows, they took the touchdown away. Here is the story from the Chicago Tribune:
On first-and-10 from San Diego’s 21 with 5 seconds remaining, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw a short pass to LaDainian Tomlinson over the middle for 3 yards. Tomlinson turned and made a handoff-type lateral to wide receiver Chris Chambers, who attempted to pitch the ball to a teammate only to have safety Troy Polamalu scoop it up and score from the 12.
Both teams left the field on what looked to be a game-ending play, but were called back by the officials for the extra-point attempt. At that point, the replay official called for a review.
After watching the play, [Referee Scott] Green initially announced the ruling on the field was upheld and the touchdown counted. But the officiating crew huddled again before the extra-point attempt and changed the call, deciding that an illegal forward pass should have ended the play.
Green, in a postgame interview with a pool reporter, said that call was errant.
“We should have let the play go through in the end, yes,” Green said.
Oops. Frankly, I was shocked to see that the would even review a play like this. The game was over and the call on the field was a touchdown. Why would you need to review this play? In the end, it didn’t have any impact on the results of the game. Oh wait, there were millions of dollars at stake in Vegas:
The call didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it has received attention in part because it kept the Steelers from covering the five-point spread on the game. According to one online estimate, by RJ Bell of Pregame.com, approximately $66 million had been wagered worldwide on the Steelers, compared to about $34 million on the Chargers.
That extra Steelers touchdown would have cost Vegas $32 million more had it counted. Steeler fans gamblers across the country are no doubt screaming in rage this morning. One blown call that had no impact on the outcome of the game and still cost millions of dollars. Why would this call be reversed.
Makes you wonder about the purity of sport when you look at the bottom line on this one.
Yesterday, Sage Rosenfels completed his campaign for team MVP; unfortunately, he was campaigning for the wrong team. So, I give to you the Most Valuable Player for the 2008 Indianapolis Colts: Sage Rosenfels.
You may ask, how can a guy who is not “officially” on the Colts roster earn such high praise? Let me present the evidence.
Exhibit A: October 5, 2008 – The Rosencopter
The Colts were facing a disastrous 1-3 start to their season and were 3 minutes and 50 seconds away from a sound beating at the hands of the Houston Texans. Just when Indianapolis fans were ready throw in the towel, on came Sage:
That’s right, Sage single-handedly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and rescued the Colts season. With reckless abandon, his love for the Colts shown threw as he spun high in the air; dropping the ball into the loving arms of Gary Brackett who scored a touchdown. But wait, that was not enough, Sage had do to more for his beloved Colts.
Sage bravely stepped to the line and rolled again to his left while extending the ball for anyone to grab. While it looked like he was trying to pass, we were not fooled. He bravely fumbled the ball and allowed the Colts to grab the lead from the Texans a few plays later.
But wait; there was still a chance for a come-back by Houston. That’s when Sage completed his masterpiece. He targeted Melvin Bullitt and threw the gameending interception to ensure the victory for his beloved Colts.
I know what you are saying, “Is that really enough for the MVP award?” With a loss, the Colts would have been 1-3 and living in the cellar of the AFC South, but is that really enough to pass the other 18 for MVP? Sage needed more.
Exhibit B: November 16, 2008 – 4th Quarter Glory
It was a hard-fought game and Sage had hidden his Colts love well. The battle continued back and forth for most of the game with the Colts finally taking the lead late in the 4th Quarter. That’s when Sage could no longer contain his love. With the Texans poised for a 4th quarter comeback, Sage spotted his favorite Colt receiver, Melvin Bullitt and drilled him with a perfect strike. Once again, Sage sealed victory for the Colts and propelled them toward the playoffs.
Bravo Sage, you are clearly the most valuable Colt.
PS. Perhaps you should move to Indianapolis today. Don’t wait, go now.
Raiders cornerback DeAngelo Hall was the first player released by team owner Al Davis on Wednesday, a move expected to trigger a major shakeup of Oakland’s roster.
Angered by the Raiders’ 2-6 start, Davis asked his front-office staff to explore the possibility of releasing several players. By releasing Hall, who was acquired from Atlanta before this season, the Raiders are washing their hands of a seven-year, $72 million contract after only eight games.
“I’ve never been in a situation where you cut one of the best players,” said safety Gibril Wilson, another of the team’s offseason acquisitions. “That’s strange to me. It’s almost like we’re throwing in the towel.”
Throwing in the towel? Yes, that is exactly what this sounds like. I can almost hear Al Davis saying, “We are not a good franchise, and we are losing money. Let’s cut salary as quickly as possible”.
The Raiders are a franchise with rabid fans and a storied past: they deserve better.
In his eight games in Oakland, Hall was beaten 40 times for 552 yards on 66 passes thrown his way, according to data compiled by STATS LLC. He gave up more yards than any defender this season and was tied for third worst in catches allowed.
Hall said earlier this season it took him time to get used to Oakland’s man-to-man style of defense after being able to freelance frequently while playing zone with the Falcons. He had 17 interceptions in his four seasons in Atlanta, making the Pro Bowl in 2005 and ’06. He had three interceptions this year, but frequently got beaten on big plays.
Hall got about $8 million of his contract for playing in eight games. But by releasing him now, the Raiders can use some of the money they planned to give Hall to try to keep Asomugha.
$8 million for 8 games; that’s good work if you can find it. I suspect this is just the beginning of the Al Davis yard sale. Perhaps other teams can take advantage of a guy who clearly passed his prime over a decade ago. Good luck Raider fans.
Mike Singletary’s motivational message to the 49ers on Sunday in his inaugural game as head coach also included a visual aid.
When his team hit the Candlestick Park locker room at halftime trailing the Seahawks 20-3, Singletary called everyone to attention, dropped his pants and pointed to his rear end, to fully illustrate what the coach thought of his players’ performance.
According to a report that first aired on Phoenix-area radio XTRA-910, Singletary then berated the team for three to four minutes with his pants around his ankles.
Dropped his pants as a motivational ploy! In his first game as head coach! What was he trying to say, “If you don’t want to see this again, start playing better?” How about, “This too can happen to you if you don’t start playing better?” Or, “Do you think I could join Michael Jordan in a Haynes ad?” Seriously!?!? What makes a man decide to drop his pants in front of 53 football players as he is yelling at them?
According to Salkin, Singletary told the team at halftime: “We’re getting our tails whipped out there, now let’s get back out there.”
Singletary, whose team has a bye week, issued a statement: “I used my pants to illustrate that we were getting our tails whipped on Sunday and how humiliating that should feel for all of us. I needed to do something to dramatize my point; there were other ways I could have done it but I think this got the message across. I am excited about having the team back at practice on Monday so we can get back to work.”
Sorry, I have to borrow a message from the kids here…OMG! He used his pants to illustrate humiliation. This is a guy who used to be one of the most feared players in the league. As a middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears in the 80s, he was regarded as the best there was; he would hit you and you would feel it for weeks to come. His intensity and tenacity were the stuff of legends. What does it say when a guy like that drops his pants in front of a team he is supposed to be leading?
Humiliating is a good word for the once-proud 49ers franchise and how their fans must now feel.
A group of 13 U.S. senators wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the league to make the games televised on the league-owned NFL Network more widely available.
Among those signing the letter, dated Tuesday, were Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the committee’s ranking Republican who was highly critical of the NFL and Goodell earlier this year for the league’s handling of the videotaping scandal involving the New England Patriots.
The NFL said that it was following a TV policy that it has had for the two decades games have been in primetime on ESPN, first on Sundays and now on Mondays.
“That same television policy makes the NFL the only league that has all of its regular season and playoff games on free TV, including our limited number of cable games that are also televised on free TV in participating markets,” the NFL said Tuesday.
At issue, the major cable companies are not happy with the fees being charged to carry the NFL Network and they want to pass the fees on to their subscribers by making the NFL Network available as a package upgrade. In Houston, with Comcast Cable, you have to order their Sports Entertainment Package and pay an additional $7.95 per month to access the NFL Network. The Senators want NFL Network to be part of “basic cable” and not an additional package. The real problems begin next week when the NFL Network starts carrying regular-season NFL games on Thursday nights and millions of Americans will not have access to those games.
The senators want quick action so fans in every market receive free TV access to games played by their closest team or the team it has been historically aligned to. Eight games will air this season on the NFL Network, which is available in less than 40 percent of households. The league is in a dispute with major cable companies over whether they should carry the channel as part of a basic package.
In a statement, the NFL said the goal is to provide the NFL Network to a national audience, but the “goal has been undercut by several of the largest cable operators.”
You bet they want quick action. After all, there are only a couple of days left until the election.
Last year, I stood on principle and refused to pay extra for the NFL Network. I believed, and still do, that I spend too much money on NFL tickets, jerseys, memorabilia, hats, jackets, decorations, etc. and paying $5 for Cokes in the stadiums on game day. The NFL seems to be the modern-day version of Count Dracula; sucking all the cash they can out of fans until they are dead or become one of them. At some point, with a worsening economy, they will go too far and realize they are breaking the backs of those who support the league the most. The problem is, I’m addicted to football.
This year, I caved and paid the fees. My boys discovered the NFL Network over the summer at their grandparent’s house (they have satellite and the NFL Network is part of the basic package) and they became hooked. The NFL Network does a great job of coverage and they also have condensed games on Tuesdays that are very cool. The boys liked it so much they agreed to pay the extra monthly fee to get the NFL Network in our house. How could you say no to that?
Hence the problem; we want the NFL Network, but we don’t want to pay for it. All I can say is, “Go Senators!”