I think there is an interesting situation developing regarding the NFL Coach of the Year. Romeo Crennel will get a lot of support even if the Browns don’t make the playoffs; that team exceeded expectations this year. The same can be said for Dick Jauron in Buffalo. Lots of folks will point to the great year for the Packers and suggest that Mike McCarthy is worthy of serious consideration for Coach of the Year and the Cowboys have done very well this year under new coach Wade Phillips. Many folks will make those kinds of cases but here is something that will probably get very little play:
If “Spygate” never happened, Bill Belichick would be the hands down/consensus choice for Coach of the Year.
If Belichick does not win Coach of the Year honors, you can chalk it up to that component of the selection process that is akin to a beauty contest. That subjective portion of the voting process wherein ballots are cast for coaches that are likeable, friendly, and inclusive will dominate the process if Belichick doesn’t win. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.
When Michael Vick received his prison sentence, it preceded a national TV appearance for the Falcons. Understandably, some of his teammates wanted to express their support for him as a person – and presumably not for what he did to get himself sent to jail – and so they set out on a course to show that support. In doing so, they violated the NFL’s “uniform rules”. On the few occasions when the team had any reason to celebrate and they were few indeed as the Falcons got shellacked on national TV, they flashed shirts worn under their uniforms saying things like “Free Mike Vick”.
The key point here is that these players knew in advance what they were doing was against the NFL’s rules/policies and that violations of said rules/policies brings a fine. Sure enough, the league imposed a fine. Now if the story ended there with the players forking over the $5K or $10K to pay the fine and telling everyone how it was worth it to show their support with their teammate who is now in a less than positive circumstance, there would be not much to say about it. But no. The players have filed a grievance hoping to get out of the fines.
If you want to know why the Falcons are losers, this incident gives you a glimpse into part of the core of their problems. Instead of taking a stand and manning up to accept the consequences of their actions, they are now whining about the fines. Frankly, I don’t care even a bit whether or not their fines are collected; but that kind of whining speaks volumes about why the Falcons have won as few games this year as they have.
There were four games on tap for the final weekend of the season that appeared to be games of keen interest viewed from the perspective of several weeks ago. There was a time when the Jax/Houston game might have been an important one because Jax may have needed the game to make the playoffs and Houston has always played Jax very well. Not a problem. Jax is the #1 wild card team in the AFC no matter what happens this weekend.
It also appeared as if the Cincy/Miami game might be a game of interest because Miami might have been headed for an 0-16 season. The Ravens saw to it that Miami could avoid that ignominy and rendered the game against the Bengals this weekend moot.
For a while, it looked as if the Pats/Giants game would be very interesting because the Pats could be going for 16-0 while the Giants looked as if they might need the game to make the playoffs. Yes, the Pats’ quest for perfection is still operative but the Giants are in the playoffs making the game this weekend only half-interesting.
A similar situation existed with the Redskins/Cowboys game this weekend. For a while, it looked as if the Cowboys would need to win to maintain home field advantage in the playoffs and it has long been the case that the Redskins had to win out the schedule to make the playoffs. Based on the Packers loss last weekend, the Cowboys are now the #1 seed in the NFC despite what happens this weekend. In addition, with Tony Romo and Terrell Owens injured, there isn’t much hope that the Cowboys will take the field with their full compliment of players on offense. True, the Redskins need to win to make the playoffs and this is indeed a rivalry game; but much of the luster came off this game last week.
The only reason to watch the Chargers/Raiders game this weekend would be if the league raised the stakes on the game. Oakland has been awful this year and they were pantsed by the Jags last weekend. The JaMarcus Russell sighting was ugly indeed. Completing 7 of 23 passes is bad; throwing 3 INTs into that mix makes it horrid. Here’s how the league could make the game interesting:
If the Raiders lose by more than 10 points, they will be forfeit their right to watch the NFL playoffs or Super Bowl on TV even in the comfort of their own homes.
Meaningless bowl games continue this week. The Texas Bowl pits Houston against TCU. Well… at least both teams are from Texas. However, there is no way that these are the two best teams in Texas. Oh, and it can’t be billed that the loser will be the worst team in the state because SMU and North Texas are still there…
Finally, some words of wisdom from P. J. O’Rourke:
“Golf combines two favorite American pastimes: taking long walks and hitting things with sticks.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…