29 February 2008

Who is he?

Newly signed Minnesota Vikings fullback Thomas Tapeh, if we are to judge strictly by Matt Mosley's ESPN.com blog, has multiple personalities: "Tapeh, who will replace veteran Tony Richardson, apparently made a strong showing. He and Tapeh were on the same flight earlier this week, but tempers never flared."

Here's a tip, Matt: next time you're thinking of using a pronoun in a sentence with any kind of complexity, don't. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble. Screenshot here.

Not Much of a Tradition

Glenn Dorsey is the latest LSU defensive lineman to carry on what may or may not be a proud tradition.

According to Dorsey's NFL.com profile, "Dorsey continued a recent tradition of Tigers defensive linemen earning first-team All-American honors, as at least one LSU player has received that honor since the 2000 season."

Don't you usually need more than one player to do something before it can be considered a tradition? Don't you need at least two points before you can define a line?

The profile, of course, was meant to say something along the lines of "Dorsey continued a recent tradition which has seen at least one LSU defensive lineman earn first-team All-American honors in every season since 2000." But the profile didn't say that, now did it?

Screenshot here.

28 February 2008

NFL Draft Sleepers

Less than two months remains until the NFL Draft! Let the frenzy begin!

Here are a couple of guys that casual fans probably won't be familiar with, but who should be drafted somewhat high in the first round. This is a rewrite of a post that Blogger swallowed a few minutes ago, so pardon my lack of rhetorical flourishes.

Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
While most fans are familiar with Kansas' Aqib Talib and USF's Mike Jenkins, McKelvin could very well be drafted before either one of them, especially now that he's solidified his status with a 4.38 second 40-yard dash at the combine. Some pundits have McKelvin going at #8 overall to Baltimore; while that's a bit early to me, I'd be shocked if he fell beyond Arizona's pick, the 16th of the 1st round.

Ryan Clady, OT, Boise St.
Behind The Infallible Jake Long dwell a cluster of other offensive tackles vying to be the second player selected at their position. Clady, a 6'6", 317 lb. giant, separates himself from the others with superior quickness; if he can refine his technique, it's possible that in the long term he could actually become a better professional than Long. I've seen Clady projected to be drafted as high as the Chiefs' pick at #5. If he lasts past Carolina at #13, it'll be a surprise to me.

25 February 2008

What's luck got to do with it? redux

I've gotten a few emails in response to my last post. One that really made me stop and think came from Charlie in Boston, who asked, basically, what the point of being a fan is if everything was controlled by luck rather than skill.

Well, Charlie, that's a really good question.

In my zeal to make my point, I perhaps overexaggerated a little bit; I'm sure that there's some element of skill involved in the process. However, even if there were no skill involved whatsoever, if everything were totally random, I think that it would still be good to be a fan. Why?

I view cheering for a team as a moral choice that is not contingent on facts. Case in point: I've cheered for the Tampa Bay Rays since their creation, despite abundant evidence that their management not only wasn't interested in putting a winning team on the field, but was actively hostile towards the team's fans.

Devotees of the Chicago Cubs, the Arizona Cardinals, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders can all vouch for the loyalty they feel, regardless of results. If you cheer for a team, you do it regardless of how good, or bad, or mediocre that team or that team's administration is.

I hope this answers your question, Charlie.

21 February 2008

What's luck got to do with it?

Reading Don Banks' article on the Giants' 2007 draft, I came (once again) to a conclusion: when an NFL team does well, that team's management are immediately and unjustly anointed as geniuses.

When the Patriots went 16-0 during the regular season, Bill Belichick was the greatest coach in the history of the NFL because of his ability to evaluate talent and acquire key players through the draft (never mind that he's not the GM). When the Colts won the super bowl, Tony Dungy and Bill Polian were the leading minds in the league. When the Saints came from nowhere to make it to the NFC championship game, it was obviously because Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis were acquiring terrific players that everyone else missed.

But... every general manager in the NFL is a smart guy. There are teams of smart guys (and women) working for every NFL team. In my eyes, the deciding factor between the very good and very bad teams can largely be described as simple luck.

It's bad luck when a player - a player who any NFL team would have drafted in the top 10 - doesn't pan out. Oakland Raiders? Any team would have drafted Robert Gallery. You just had the bad luck to draft, and pay millions of dollars to, a guy who turned out to be, at best, a marginal player. San Diego Chargers? Any team would have drafted Ryan Leaf. You just had the bad luck to draft, and pay millions of dollars to, a guy who turned out to be, at best, a head case.

It's good luck when a player - a player that every NFL team passed on multiple times - comes out of nowhere to play an integral part in a team's success. New York Giants? You passed on Ahmad Bradshaw eight times before you chose him.

I'm not saying that ability plays no role. But luck must be considered to play a big, big part.

18 February 2008

Absolutely Devastating

According to NFL.com: "Despite a devestating loss in Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady and the Patriots remain contenders."

That's just straight-up devestatingly bad spelling.

Screenshot here.

15 February 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

On NFL.com's Draft Rankings, as compiled by Mike Mayock, Rashard Mendenhall is the number one ranked running back. Above Darren McFadden. Sedrick Ellis is the number one ranked DT. Above Glenn Dorsey. Chad Henne is the number two ranked quarterback. Above Brian Brohm. Above Andre Woodson.

This is craziness. Rashard Mendenhall above Darren McFadden? Mendenhall is talented, sure - but he's had one productive year; McFadden is a two-time Heisman runner-up who's been compared favorably to Adrian Peterson.

Many times, I feel that so-called "pundits" (and, yes, C.E., I used the quotation marks intentionally, so don't freak out) rank players in order to create controversy rather than according to any sort of rationale. If I'm not mistaken, that's what Mayock has done here.

13 February 2008

The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul

Woe is us.

The NFL season is over.

The NCAAF season is over.

What shall we do?

Oh, that's right - we live in a 24/7/365 sports universe. Is there even such a thing as an offseason anymore? ESPN right now is talking about potential NCAA rule changes for next year; SportsIllustrated.com is running the next in a seemingly endless series of stories about the Patriots' taping scandal.

It's a beautiful world.

11 February 2008

97% of Sherpas Can't Find America on a Map

Today's error comes from SportsIllustrated.com hockey writer Michael Farber, who calls NBC "the network that carries the NHL in the United States that you don't need a Sherpa to find".

So... apparently, you do need a Sherpa to find the United States that don't show hockey on NBC. Nice work, dude.

09 February 2008

Yup... I'm a Joe.

I'm watching SPIKE TV right now. They're showing "Pros vs. Joes", a program in which former professional athletes compete against amateurs. Watching the program, I've come to a couple of realizations.

First: these guys are good. I'm a relatively athletic guy - 6'4", about 185 lb (that's 211 cm and 84 kg, for all my European readers), and reasonably strong, muscular, whatever. But watching Arturo Gatti absolutely toy with two guys who probably outweigh him by 40 or 50 lb apiece? Watching Ricky Williams lower his shoulder and give a guy whiplash? These Pros - guys who aren't good enough anymore to compete in their sports - are amazing.

Second: Ricky Williams is really, really drugged out. He's gone from being a stud RB to being a sort of sad caricature of a stoner. And he's still a better athlete than 99.9% of the world. Wow.

08 February 2008

Classic Pro Bowl Typo

Today... Page 2 celebrates "Classic Pro Bowl Moments" - because they "only let the NFL season elapse only while kicking and screaming. Screenshot. Nice.

06 February 2008

A dose of perspective

Don't get me wrong - I love sports. I enjoy reading about, writing about, playing sports. But sometimes things happen that make me take a step back and realize how little sports matter in the big picture.

Right now, I'm sitting in my room with the door locked. The entire campus is locked down. Somewhere on campus, a suicidal student, possibly with a gun, is wandering around while the police look for him or her.

This is the second time this semester that the campus has been on lockdown; the previous time, a student actually killed himself. The police tried to search him, and he shot himself in the head.

Sorry for the slightly scrambled post - I'm having a bit of trouble organizing my thoughts at the moment. I hope that this situation turns out differently than the previous one. I hope no one - whether the student or anyone else - gets hurt. I hope that this doesn't happen again.

The student is on her way to the hospital (I don't have any more information) and the lockdown has been lifted. I and my residents are okay.

02 February 2008

Ridiculously Specific Super Bowl Preview

The NFL's biggest game kicks off Sunday evening at 6:17 PM. The Giants and the Patriots each have talented players, and each has a decent chance to win the game. The Patriots, however, will come away with the victory. Here's how it will play out.

New York will be able to move the ball well against the occasionally slow Patriots defense. In the first half, Eli Manning (22-31, 217 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) will make smart, short completions to keep the chains moving while Brandon Jacobs (14 carries, 34 yards) pounds away to little apparent effect; in the second, Ahmad Bradshaw (11 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD) will break a couple of long runs.

Eli's main target will be Plaxico Burress (7 catches, 85 yards), but his touchdowns will come, respectively, on a six-yard out to Kevin Boss (4 catches, 23 yards, 1 TD) and a 9-yard curl to Amani Toomer (5 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD).

The Patriots will get out of the gate quickly; the Giants secondary, especially SS James Butler, will struggle in the first half. Tom Brady (25-33, 311 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) will connect on two deep passes to Randy Moss (4 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD) in the first quarter, both on plays in which Butler is drawn out of position by play-action fakes.

In the second half, the New York defense will adjust to the Patriots attack, causing New England to shift their tactics. Laurence Maroney (13 carries, 44 yards) will get the ball more after only having 3 carries in the first half, and Wes Welker (8 catches, 101 yards) will become Brady's favorite target.

The Patriots will be ahead at halftime, but it won't be a blowout - just a reasonably close 13-7 margin. With their first possession of the third quarter, New England will march methodically down the field, and Brady will connect with Ben Watson (5 catches, 48 yards, 1 TD) for a touchdown that will put the Pats up 20-7.

The Giants will try to come back throughout the second half, and will close the margin to 23-17 when Eli connects with Toomer with six minutes left in the game.

But when the Patriots get the ball back, they'll score one more time, as Kevin Faulk (6 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD) will catch a screen pass when the Giants blitz six on third-and-five and take it twenty-nine yards for the clinching touchdown.

Eli, under pressure from Junior Seau, will throw an interception to Richard Seymour (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) with under a minute left, and Brady will kneel twice to run out the clock.

Final score: Patriots 30, Giants 17. MVP: Tom Brady.