A Blast From The Past..

I am going to do something today that I have never done before.  I am going to “reprint” – if you will – a rant from the past.  It is not that I am getting either lazy or nostalgic; I am in a short-term time crunch; that’s all.

With March Madness about to begin for real tomorrow, I thought I would bring back a rant that I posted on March 11, 2004.  The headline then was :

  • “Once In A Lifetime – – At Least”

Enjoy this “Blast From The Past” if you will…


This missive is intended for fans of NCAA basketball.  If you are a sports fan in general and kinda like college hoops, this is for you too.  If you just hate basketball because of the noise of squeaking shoes on hardwood courts, you can stop reading now because none of this will interest you – not even a little bit.

You’ve probably heard about people who make “life lists” comprised of things they want to be sure to do in their lifetime.  Often, these lists contain adventurous items such as “climb Mt. Everest” or “be the first paleontologist on Mars”.  [That second one actually was once a goal for  #1 son.]  Sometimes there are noble entries on a life list such as “curing hunger in the Third World”.  I’m sure that some of these life lists contain fantasy items such as “break Wilt Chamberlain’s putative record for sexual partners”.  I have one for all NCAA basketball fans to add to their “life lists” – if you don’t have such a life list at the moment, start one – that falls into the purely hedonistic realm:

  • Go to Las Vegas; park your carcass in one of the top tier sports books, and watch the first two rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  That’s a four-day commitment to enjoyment.

Trust me on this; if you love NCAA basketball, this is something you have to do at least once while you take up space on this planet.

Picture this.  You are in a room with enough big screen TVs to make you think you are in Best Buy.  There are at least several hundred people there with you.  Everyone there is a basketball fan and everyone there has not only a “fan interest” in the games but also a “financial interest” in some of the games.  Every game is telecast in its entirety.

On each of the first two days of the tournament, there are sixteen games you can watch in an environment where every action in a game draws a reaction in the room.  Several years ago, I had ceased to pay attention to one game because the outcome was no longer in doubt and I had no wager riding on the game.  I don’t even remember what game it was now.  All of a sudden, the noise level in the room went berserk; there were people cheering and people booing; there were cheers of joy and woe all at the same time.  It involved the game I had chosen to ignore.

What happened?  One team was leading by 12 with 4 seconds to play; the team that was behind substituted all of its players so that the bench scrubeenies could all say that they had played in an NCAA tournament game; the ball went inbounds and one of these scrubeenies launched a 30-foot shot that went swish; they lost the game by 9 points.  That was the loudest cheer of the day to that point because the betting line for the game was 9.5 points.  People who had the favorite just lost what looked to be a sure winner and people with the underdog just got the Las Vegas version of “found money”.  I had to ask someone what had happened and then watch the replay to get the flavor of what happened.  The atmosphere in the room is electric and you have to pay attention all the time.

The next two days will seem tame because there will only be 8 games per day.  After trying to track 16 games on Thursday and Friday, Saturday will seem like a walk in the park – – at first.  But I promise that the adrenaline will kick in on Saturday and Sunday as it did on the opening days.

There is also a lot of opportunity to make some easy money there.  No, beating the books is not easy on that weekend; they are in no danger of going bankrupt because of my profits.  The easy money comes from other visitors who come to Vegas to party and carouse and watch their favorite school in the tournament.  It is the basketball equivalent of a trip to a “bowl game”.  Lots of these folks are willing to make wagers with you on the side that are guided by their hearts and their glands and not their brains.  I was sitting near a guy from a school that was a 12-seed in the tournament and he was just positive they would clobber the 5-seed in the first round.  Vegas had it wrong; they were giving the 12-seed 8 points but Harry Huckleberry was convinced the 12-seed would win the game outright.  I asked him if he had played the money line on the game but he said there was no money line on that game but he would be willing to bet me $50 at even money that “12-seed Tech” would beat “5-seed A&M” straight up.  I really wished his name had been Paine Webber because I really wanted to say, “Thank you, Paine Webber,” when he made the bet and then paid up after his team lost by 15 points.

I will be venturing to Las Vegas next week – with the usual suspects of course – to check out the first four days of the tournament once again.  After forty-eight games in four days in that kind of environment, I will come home in a state of sensory overload.  [Did I mention that you can bet horse races at the same time and in the same venues?  And of course the NBA and NHL are still playing at that time of year too…]  If I did something like that once a month, I’d be carried out of there one of those days by the men with the canvass sports jackets.  You know the ones I mean.  They have really long sleeves and the sleeves tie in the back.

  • But everyone who is a basketball fan needs to do it once – and if you are really a junkie, you need to do it once in a while.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Well, That Didn’t Last Long…

Tom Brady’s retirement is over; he will be coming back to play NFL football again in 2022; the retirement lasted about six weeks.  I was trying to think of a sports event involving “life commitment” that lasted less than Brady’s retirement and the best I could come up with was the marriage of Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman which lasted – seemingly – about a day and a half.  A friend asked me how I thought Brady would do this year and my answer was simple:

  • If the Bucs put an offensive line in front of him that can protect him and generate a halfway decent running game, Brady will do just fine.  If not, he will not do well at all.

Please note that my response assumes that Brady will be a Buccaneer in 2022; given the current environment where players force trades, perhaps that will not be the case…

The Steelers have addressed their QB situation by signing Mitchell Trubisky to a 2-year deal.  They made that move after it was announced that Deshaun Watson would not face any criminal charges coming out of the sexual assault allegations against him; a grand jury in Texas chose not to indict Watson.  Even with that knowledge, the Steelers chose to go with Trubisky which tells me that the Steelers recognize there will be some “blowback” when Watson is cleared to play in the NFL and the Steelers did not want any part of it.

Naturally, Watson was happy with the grand jury decision and told the press soon after learning of that decision that the cloud hanging over his career was gone and that any team interested in his services should get in touch with the Texans and his agent.  I guess I would feel the same way were I in his position – – but not being there, his optimism seems a tad premature.  Almost two dozen massage therapists still have civil complaints against him, and Commissioner Goodell has yet to weigh in on any sort of suspension that might arise from a violation of the NFL’s “Personal Conduct Policy”.  I doubt that the Deshaun Watson situation is completely in the rear-view mirror…

  • [Aside:  Ben Roethlisberger got a 6-game suspension when a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her even though no charges were brought.  That precedent happened in 2010 predating events such as the #MeToo Movement.  Ezekiel Elliott also gat a 6-game suspension based on domestic violence allegations where no criminal charges were leveled.  There is precedent for NFL suspension absent the establishment of criminal guilt.]

It appears that the Washington Commanders and the Dallas Cowboys are on parallel tracks these days.  The Commanders had a scandal involving their cheerleaders causing a long-term exec in the Front Office to retire unexpectedly and then moved on to a situation where a woman claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the team owner.  In more recent times, it seems that the Cowboys have also had some “issues” with their cheerleaders involving the surprising retirement of a senior staff member.  And now, a woman claims that owner Jerry Jones is her biological father, and she is suing seeking to get that “fact” acknowledged.

The paternity aspect of that lawsuit is the sort of thing that Maury Povich handles on his TV show with a combination of objectivity, rapidity and even a soupçon of aplomb.  Somehow, I do not think any of those sorts of conditions will apply to this lawsuit.  In fact, I think the only interesting point about the lawsuit will be:

  • What are the measures – and how might they be applied – to get the plaintiff here to “STFU”?

The TV ratings for the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing were “disappointing” at best and probably closer to “miserable” on the ratings spectrum.  Some of the spin masters coming to NBC’s defense pinned that “disappointment” on the fact that live events were happening 10 or 12 time zones removed from American viewers.  That is undeniably correct – but it is also a distraction and not an explanation.  The reason I say that is that the 2018 Winter Olympic Games were held in PyeongChang, South Korea; those games “suffered” the same time-zone burden.  So, compare the “TV numbers” between the PyeongChang games and the Beijing games:

  • In 2018, an average of 19.8 million viewers per night tuned in to watch all or part of the televised events.
  • In 2022, an average of 11.4 million viewers per night tuned in to watch all or part of the televised events.
  • That is an audience reduction of just over 42% and the “time-zone burden” is virtually the same.

I will not pretend to have “the answer” to this significant reduction in viewing audience for the Winter Games.  I have seen others attribute it to the fact that the Summer Games had to be postponed from 2020 to 2021 creating what some have called “Olympic Fatigue”.  Personally, any “Olympic Fatigue” I may have suffered had nothing to do with the postponement of the Summer Games in Japan.  Other commentators point to “international tensions” as the cause of this audience decline. Once again, that may have affected the viewing choices of some folks, but it was absolutely not a consideration for me.

Someone at NBC needs to figure out the issues here because NBC is on the hook for about $8B to telecast the Olympics through 2032.  That is a lot of cheese to spend on a property where the audience trend is decidedly downward.

Let me put this in another perspective for you:

  • The 2022 Winter Games were shown in the US in prime time when TV audiences traditionally are larger.  They also reached potential viewers on a variety of channels and streaming services.  The potential for “big audiences” were all present for those Winter Games.  The audience averaged 11.4 million viewers.
  • The average NFL game is played on a Sunday afternoon not prime time.  The average NFL game includes all those clunker games – – such as Jags/Jets on the day after Christmas.  And with all that, the average NFL game draws an audience of 16 million viewers which is about 40% more eyeballs than watched the 2022 Winter Games.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment last weekend regarding another NFL quarterback and his offseason events:

“Packers QB Aaron Rodgers officiated at teammate David Bakhtiari’s wedding on March 5.

“No word on whether Bakhtiari got the Rodgers rate, but the QB did get the bridesmaids to jump offside with a hard count.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Fun With Names…

March 14th is always celebrated as “Pi Day”; this year it is also “National Napping Day” since it is the day after the clocks were advanced forward an hour to accommodate Daylight Saving Time.  For 2022, it is also the day after Selection Sunday for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; and, here in Curmudgeon Central, that means it is a special day.

In many parts of the sports world, today is spent identifying the teams that were “snubbed” by the Selection Committee and/or the ones who were seeded higher or lower than someone not on the Selectin Committee thinks is proper.  It is a day of lamentation and/or outrage when neither is really called for.  No one was “snubbed”; had any team “on the bubble” who failed to get the call won a game or two more than they did, they would be “on the inside”.  The Selection Committee are not the bad guys; the teams on the outside did it to themselves.

So, while others are caught up in either lamentation or outrage, I prefer to take this day to have some fun with the tournament brackets as they have been presented.  For example:

  • In one of the play-in games, the Wyoming Cowboys will take on Indiana.
  • In the East bracket, we might see the Baylor Bears taking on the UCLA Bruins in an ursine showdown.
  • If the UConn Huskies and the Vermont Catamounts both advance to the second round, it will be a showdown between cats and dogs.
  • Similarly, the first-round game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Georgia State Panthers is a feline/canine battle.
  • If the Texas Tech Red Raiders win their first-round game, they could meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in the next round – – or perhaps the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
  • If the St. Peter’s Peacocks meet the Creighton Blue Jays in the tournament Finals, it will be an all-avian showdown.  [Aside:  The same would be true if the Peacocks faced the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens.]
  • In the Midwest bracket, we might see the USC Trojans meeting the San Diego State Aztecs in a showdown of ancient civilizations.
  • In that same bracket, we might also see the Miami Hurricanes facing the Iowa State Cyclones in a battle of the natural disasters.
  • In the West bracket, the regional final could pair the Michigan State Spartans with the Georgia State Spartans.
  • Imagine a Final Game between the Colgate Red Raiders and the Texas Tech Red Raiders.  Surely, that would be a first…

I have fun with things like mascots and mascot pairings and players’ names that fall into patterns.  For example, consider the possibility that these players will go on in their lives and make a career that is indicated by the names they were given at birth.  People believe in astrology where the position of the stars at birth determines various aspects of one’s life; so, why not the name given at birth?  Consider:

  • Carter Ash – – Smoke jumper – – Montana State
  • Joey Baker – – No mystery here – – Duke
  • Darius Banks – – Financier – – Chattanooga
  • Brent Bland – – School cafeteria cook – – St. Peter’s
  • Lamont Butler – – Valet – – San Diego State
  • Andrew Carr – – Formula One racer – – Delaware
  • Maliq Carr – – Andrew’s pit crew boss – – Michigan State
  • Preston Cook – – Gordon Ramsey trainee – – Auburn
  • Xavier Cork – – Vintner – – TCU
  • Rashool Diggins – – Farmer – – UConn
  • Malcom Dread – – Apocalyptic novelist – – Richmond
  • Parker Edwards – – Park Service ranger – – LSU
  • Joe Few – – Minimalist philosopher – – Gonzaga
  • Jalen Finch – – Ornithologist – – Jax State
  • Luke Fonts – – Graphic designer – – Providence
  • Chris Ford – – NASCAR crew chief – – Norfolk State
  • Simeon Fryer – – KFC franchise owner – – Texas A&M CC
  • Alex Fudge – – Chocolatier – – LSU
  • Luke Goode – – Philanthropist – – Illinois
  • Will Graves – – Mortician – – Gonzaga
  • Justice Hill – – Criminologist – – Murray State
  • Eric Hunter, Jr. – – Survivalist – – Purdue
  • Aundre Hyatt – – Hotelier – – Rutgers
  • Jaden Ivey – – Landscape architect – – Purdue
  • Chris Knight – – Crusader – – Loyola-Chicago
  • Miller Kopp – – Detective – – Indiana
  • Broden Lien – – Mortgage broker – – South Dakota State
  • Chandler Leopard – – Safari Guide – – Auburn
  • Zach Light – – Dietician – – Colgate
  • Mitch Lightfoot – – Dance instructor – – Kansas
  • Julius Marble II – – Sculptor – – Michigan State
  • Charlie McCarthy – – Ventriloquist – – Kansas
  • David McCormack – – Spice merchant – – Kansas
  • Shereef Mitchell – – Law enforcement officer – – Creighton
  • Joe Moon IV – – Astronomer – – Bryant
  • Chance Moore – – Blackjack dealer – – Arkansas
  • Storm Murphy – – Meteorologist – – VA Tech
  • Justyn Mutts – – Dog breeder – – VA Tech
  • Brandon Noel – – Mall Santa Claus – – Wright State
  • Jeremy Roach – – Exterminator – – Duke
  • Dylan Painter – – Too easy – – Delaware
  • Oskar Palmquist – – Movie producer – – Rutgers
  • Bailey Patella – – Knee surgeon – – Vermont
  • Omar Payne – – Anesthesiologist – – Illinois
  • Cam Pope – – Evangelist – – Jax State
  • Charles Pride – – Lion Tamer – – Bryant
  • Austin Sacks – – NFL defensive end – – Baylor
  • Jabari Sawyer – – Carpenter – – St. Mary’s
  • Marcus Shaver, Jr. – – Barber – – Boise State
  • Michael Shipp – – Riverboat captain – – Indiana
  • Brandon Slater – – Roofer – – Villanova
  • Mouhamed Sow – – Farmer – – St. Peter’s
  • Justice Sueing – – Attorney at law – – Ohio State
  • Johnny Taylor, Jr.  – – Tailor to the stars – – Chattanooga
  • Jordan Turner – – Wheelwright – – Baylor
  • Kerwin Walton – – Retailer – – UNC
  • Blake Wesley – – Theologian – – Notre Dame
  • Sahvir Wheeler – – Interstate trucker – –  KY
  • Justice Williams – – Judge – – LSU

Other players have what I call “Mirror Image Names”; if you reverse the first name with the last name, you still have a name that could easily be a tournament player – – such as:

  • Galen Alexander – – Texas Southern
  • Corey Allen – – Georgia State
  • Dontaie Allen – – Kentucky
  • Teddy Allen – – New Mexico State
  • Raheem Anthony – – St. Mary’s
  • Bryan Antoine – – Villanova
  • Jules Bernard – – UCLA
  • Lawson Blake – – Arkansas
  • Trey Calvin – – Wright State
  • Jaylen Clark – – UCLA
  • Henry Clayton – – New Mexico State
  • Ben Craig – – Davidson
  • Robin Duncan – – Vermont
  • Ja’Vier Francis – – Houston
  • Juwan Gary – – Alabama
  • Kent Gilbert – – Tennessee
  • Ben Gregg – – Gonzaga
  • Blake Henry – – Colgate
  • Kayne Henry – – Jax State
  • Jace Howard – – Michigan
  • Graham Ike – – Wyoming
  • Bensley Joseph – – Miami
  • Theo John – – Duke
  • Bates Jones – – Duke
  • Vincent Lee – – Cal St. – Fullerton
  • Tramon Mark – – Houston
  • Cam Martin – – Kansas
  • Chase Martin – – Purdue
  • Mitchell Paul – – Baylor
  • Kayden Perry – – Gonzaga
  • Cedric Russell – – Ohio State
  • Daylen Terry – – Arizona
  • Dischon Thomas – – Colorado State
  • Jaylen Thomas – – Georgia State

Here are players whose names might show up on an Artist’s Palette:

  • Leaky Black – – UNC
  • Cahiem Brown – – Norfolk State
  • Gabe Brown – – Michigan State
  • Kendall Brown – – Baylor
  • Justin Brown – – UAB
  • Tevin Brown – – Murray State
  • Wendell Green, Jr. – – Auburn
  • Ethan White – – Texas A&M CC
  • Fabian White, Jr. – – Houston
  • Isaiah White – – USC
  • Joey White – – St. Mary’s

Some players have Geographical Names:

  • Jordan Bohannon – – Iowa
  • Dane Brazil – – St. Mary’s
  • Brennan Canada – – KY
  • Rafael Castro – – Providence
  • Jordan Gilliam – – Texas Southern
  • Jordan Hawkins – – UConn
  • Jordan Miller – – Miami
  • Reggie Parris – – USC
  • Jordan Rawls – – Georgia State
  • Jordan Roberts – – Texas A&M CC
  • Jordan Walker – – UAB

[Aside:  Jordan Geronimo can easily be on this list, but I find it doubly interesting that someone named “Geronimo” plays for Indiana – – so I give him special billing here.]

Copy editors at newspapers and websites everywhere will have nightmares with these players’ names:

  • Chibuzo Agbo – – Texas Tech
  • Babatunde Akingbola – – Auburn
  • Rati Andronikashvili – – Creighton
  • Aziz Bandaofo – – Akron
  • Emir Buyukhanli – – Yale
  • Tahirou Diabate – – San Diego State
  • Ibrahim Famouke Doumbia – – Cal St. Fullerton
  • Fousseyni Drame – – St. Peter’s
  • Filippos Gkogkos – – Miami
  • Oso Ighodaro – – Marquette
  • Souleymane Koureissi – – Richmond
  • Pavle Kuzmanovic – – Boise State
  • Ga’Khari Lacount – – Longwood
  • Volodymyr Markovetskyy – – Univ. of San Francisco
  • Bez Mbeng – – Yale
  • Michel Ndayishimiye – – Vermont
  • Jahcobi Neath – – Wisconsin
  • Amanze Ngumezi – – Jax State
  • Nnanna Njoku – – Villanova
  • Olivier Nkamhoua – – Tennessee
  • Leslie Nkereuwem – – Longwood
  • Eliel Nsoseme – – Georgia State
  • Shakiru Odunewu – – New Mexico State
  • Brandin Podziemski – – Illinois
  • Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua – – Baylor
  • Azoulas Tubelis – – Arizona
  • Tautvilas Tubelis – – Arizona

These players’ names recall historical US Presidents:

  • Grant Basile – – Wright State
  • Grayson Carter – – Texas Southern
  • Kennedy Chandler – – Tennessee
  • Carter Gilmore – – Wisconsin
  • Carter Higgenbottom – – Wisconsin
  • Harrison Hoofkin – – Ohio State
  • Andre Jackson – – UConn
  • Tray Jackson – – Seton Hall
  • Quan Jackson – – UAB
  • Zeb Jackson – – Michigan
  • Ty Johnson – – Loyola-Chicago
  • Marquise Kennedy – – Loyola-Chicago
  • Michael Kennedy – – Marquette
  • Carter Sobera – – Auburn
  • Elijah Taylor – – Notre Dame
  • Tyler Polley – – UConn
  • Douglas Wilson – – South Dakota State
  • Tyler Wahl – – Wisconsin
  • Ty Ty Washington Jr.  Kentucky

There are enough players whose names have Biblical ties that we can break them up into Old Testament and New Testament teams.  For the Old Testament:

  • Aaron Fiegen – – South Dakota State
  • Adam Cottrell – – Alabama
  • Noah Frechette – – St. Mary’s
  • Jacob Grandison – – Illinois
  • Noah Horchler – – Providence
  • Isaiah Kelly – – Yale
  • Samson Johnson – – UConn
  • Isaac Lindsey – – Wisconsin
  • Isaiah Mobley – – USC
  • Joshua Morgan – – USC
  • Elijah Morgan – – Notre Dame
  • Jeremiah Oden – – Wyoming
  • Micah Peavy – – TCU
  • Jacob Radaker – – Chattanooga
  • Noah Reynolds – – Wyoming
  • Jeremaine Samuels – – Villanova
  • Elijah Tate – – UAB
  • Adam Thistlewood – – Colorado State
  • Isaiah Thompson – – Purdue
  • Tadarius Jacobs – – Memphis

And here are the New Testament players…:

  • Luke Appel – – South Dakota State
  • Christian Bishop – – Texas
  • Xavier Bishop – – Montana State
  • San Antonio Brinson – – Texas A&M CC
  • Max Christie – – Michigan State
  • Michael Christmas – – Longwood
  • Rod Grace – – Richmond
  • Christian Ings – – Norfolk State
  • De’Lazerus Keys – – Texas A&M CC
  • Saint Thomas – – Loyola-Chicago

And of course, there are players whose names are Alliterative:

  • Amin Adamu – – Montana State
  • Alex Arians – – South Dakota State
  • Adonis Arms – – Texas Tech
  • Akok Akok – – UConn
  • Aguek Arop – – San Diego State
  • Austin Ash – – Iowa
  • Ben Bowen – – Wyoming
  • Connor Crabtree – – Richmond
  • Cameron Crawford – – Mew Mexico State
  • Davonte Davis – – Arkansas
  • Darius Days – – LSU
  • Devin Davis – – Creighton
  • Dylan Disu – – Texas
  • Duncan Demuth – – Vermont
  • D’Marco Dunn – – UNC
  • Deng Dut – – Wyoming
  • Emarion Ellis – – Marquette
  • Francisco Farabello – – TCU
  • Grant Golden – – Richmond
  • Jacob Jennissen – – Colorado State
  • Jamal Johnson – – UAB
  • Jaden Jones – – Rutgers
  • Joe Jones III – – Georgia State
  • John Jones – – Texas Southern
  • Johnny Juzang – – UCLA
  • Kur Kuath – – Marquette
  • Luke Laketa – – Iowa
  • Lado Laku – – Cal St. – Fullerton
  • Langston Love – – Baylor
  • Mawot Mag – – Rutgers
  • Mike Marshall, Jr. – – Bryant
  • Matthew Mayer – – Baylor
  • Mike Miles, Jr. – – TCU
  • Mason Miller – – Creighton
  • Matt Mims – – South Dakota State
  • Matthew Mors – – Wisconsin
  • Ndewedo Newbury – – Univ. of San Francisco
  • Pearson Parker – – Colgate
  • Shaedan Sharpe – – KY
  • Sasha Stefanovic – – Purdue
  • Trevian Tennyson – – Texas A&M CC
  • Tony Toney – – UAB
  • Zakai Ziegler – – Tennessee

This year, I found six players who hit the “Alliterative Trifecta”:

  1. Ali Ali – – Akron
  2. Addison Arnold – – Arizona
  3. Cameron Carter – – Cal St. Fullerton
  4. Drew Dibble – – Davidson
  5. Jaime Jaquez, Jr. – – UCLA
  6. Josiah Jordan-James – – Tennessee

I keep looking but have yet to find a player name – – with his school – – that completes an “Alliterative Superfecta”.  I keep looking for someone named Tommy Tunes from Texas Tech or Billy Bob Banks from Brown.  No luck yet…

I want to give special mention to six players in this year’s tournament because their names form a complete sentence:

  1. Nick Falls – – St Mary’s
  2. Erickson Bans – – Bryant
  3. Isaac Spears – – Montana State
  4. Delaney Heard – –  Alabama
  5. Race Thompson – – Indiana  (in the imperative mood no less)
  6. Ian Burns – – Michigan

I was hoping that DePaul would make the tournament because Courvoisier McCauley is on the DePaul team.  It would have been great to have him here today to present the possibility of a Cognac Showdown between McCauley and Remy Martin – – Kansas.  Unfortunately, DePaul posted a 15-16 record this year and did not make the tournament…

One final player name that needs mentioning:

  • Nickolas Louis-Jacques  (Colgate) leads the tournament in first names.

Enough frivolity for the day.  All the folks who are in high dudgeon today will shed those feelings overnight because tomorrow’s focus will be identifying potential “bracket busters” for this year.  Let the games begin…

Finally, I’ll close today with an observation by Bob Knight whose Indiana teams won this basketball tournament three times:

“The greatest motivator in the world is your ass on the bench. Ass meets bench, bench retains ass, ass transmits signals to the brain, brain transmits signals to the body, body gets ass off bench and plays better. It’s a hell of a sequence.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Major League Baseball Is Back

Almost 50 years ago when Gerald Ford was inaugurated as President of the United States after the resignation of President Nixon, he proclaimed:

“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”

With the announcement last night that the MLB owners and the MLB players had reached an agreement on a new 5-year CBA,  I think President Ford’s announcement applies today.  Barring something like World War III erupting out of the Ukraine and/or the emergence of the omega variant of COVID-19, we are going to have a “normal” baseball season in 2022.

My position all along has been that neither side in this dispute had any claim on even a single square inch of the “moral high ground”.  And while I am as happy as anyone to know that baseball will take place in 2022, I would like to throw just a bit of cold water on the celebratory mood that seems to have engulfed most of the baseball media.

First, there is nothing – – and I do mean NOTHING – – in this new framework for a CBA that was not available to the negotiators the day after the lockout was announced.  No new ground was broken; none of the alleged abominations perpetrated by the “other side” in this dispute were eradicated.  Everything here could have emerged in short order had the two sides – – BOTH – – sat down and negotiated from realistic positions.  It was never clear to me then and it is certainly not clear to me now why there was a lockout in the first place; certainly now, it is clear that the negotiations dragged on – – or never even began in earnest – – for the first ten weeks after the unnecessary lockout.

  • The owners were stupid and greedy in locking the players out.
  • The players were petulant and greedy not knocking on the door to seek entry immediately.

Second, when all the details of the new CBA are ironed out and massaged by the lawyers, please do not think that we will enter an era of labor peace and mutual bliss on the part of the two sides here.  As I said above, NOTHING new is in this CBA other than a few numbers getting changed.  If the last CBA was sufficiently awful from the point of view of either or both sides, why would this one be any different?

Third, most of the baseball media sided with the players in this kerfuffle; that is OK with me; everyone has an inalienable right to be wrong.  Here is a datum that might lead you to believe that the players were significantly involved in delaying the outcome here.  Consider:

  • Sitting in on negotiations for the players was the MLBPA Executive Subcommittee.  That body consists of 8 players elected by the rank and file.
  • Each member of the Executive Subcommittee gets a ratification vote, and each team then gets one ratification vote too.  Thus, there are 38 votes for or against ratification and a simple majority is needed to ratify.
  • In this case, all 8 members of the Executive Subcommittee voted NOT to ratify this proposed agreement, but the teams voted 24-6 in favor of ratification, so we got a deal.
  • Please note, every player at the table doing the negotiating wanted baseball to stay dark longer than this.  With that on the record, might it not be the case that the players were not exactly striving for resolution?

The MLB regular season will begin on April 7th; they will play 162 games and the players will get the full value of their contracts.  If there had been a representative of the fans at the bargaining table, maybe the following point would have been made:

  • We don’t want to hear about 7-inning doubleheaders ever again unless teams charge only 7/9-ths of the admission price to those games and players only get paid 7/9-ths of their po-rated salaries for those games.

That is the sort of “issue” that neither the owners nor the players ever want to confront.  They both think they have a God-given right to ignore the fans that pay the freight for all the issues they just spent 3 months haggling over.

None of the haggling over the past 2 or 3 months really affected minor league baseball for a simple yet profound reason.  The lockout was by major league team owners not minor league team owners and the players’ side of the deal involved the MLB Players Association and minor league players are not members of that union – – with one exception.  Minor league players who were on the 40-man roster of a major league club at the time of the lockout are members of the union and therefore they could not be part of minor league teams or even workouts had this contretemps gone on further.  Basically, minor league teams had a set schedule and have been adhering to it:

  • Triple A games will begin on April 5th – – two days before MLB games
  • Double A, High A and Low A games, will begin on April 8th.

Just in case you are interested, here are the 8 members of the MLBPA Executive Subcommittee who were at the negotiating table and who voted against this now ratified CBA:

  1. Zack Britton
  2. Jason Castro
  3. Gerritt Cole
  4. Francisco Lindor
  5. Andrew Miller
  6. James Paxton
  7. Max Scherzer
  8. Marcus Semien

Finally, the poet William Butler Yeats had this observation about an Irishman; if you substitute “baseball fans” for “Irish” it seems appropriate today:

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



More Quarterback Shuffling…

Over the past year or so, whenever the “NFL franchise that calls itself Washington” got into the headlines, the event was about as welcome as sour milk.

  • Allegations of “Peeping Toms” on undressed cheerleaders.
  • Partners in the ownership group suing one another.
  • Principal owner accused of sexual assault.
  • Franchise fumbles the ball on its re-naming initiative.
  • One of its roster players accused of vehicular homicide.

Yesterday, it was different; the Washington Commanders made news that was not sleazy, and it is unlikely to require a judge in a courtroom to render any decisions.

  • The Washington Commanders traded for a QB and got Carson Wentz from the Colts.

That represents an upgrade for the team at the QB position so fans can sing Hallelujah; however, it is a stretch to say that this trade has brought to Washington their franchise QB who is going to lead this team for the next 5 or 7  years.  If I were to tell you that the Commanders were deficient at QB last year, your response should be along the lines of, “So how is that different from the last 35 years?”  The last real franchise QB for the Washington franchise was Joe Theismann and he last saw the field in 1985.

The fact is that acquiring Carson Wentz provides as many questions as it does answers.  Let me try to go over some of those questions and answers:

  • Answer:  Wentz’s teams are 44-40-1 when he starts; he has thrown 140 TD passes compared to only 57 INTs; his career passing completion percentage is 62.6%.  He will be 30 years old in December, so he is not confronting the still undefeated Father Time.
  • Question:  So … why will the Commanders be his third team in three seasons?

Two years ago, the Eagles benched Wentz in favor of Jalen Hurts; according to reports, Wentz did not take that demotion well and his behavior(s) in relation to his coach then were well below positive.  That got his coach, Doug Pederson, fired and it got Wentz traded to the Colts.  Last year, the Colts had the NFL’s leading rusher in Jonathan Taylor (1,811 yards and 18 TDs) and they had a Top Ten defense in points allowed.  Nevertheless, the Colts missed the playoffs in the most embarrassing way I can recall.

  • In Week 18 playing against the 1-16 Jacksonville Jaguars in a win-and-you’re-in-game, the Colts lost; and Carson Wentz was awful in that game.

Here is the big question…  There are reports that unnamed players in both Philly and Indy were less than impressed with Wentz as a leader and/or as a positive element in the locker room and/or as “a guy”.  Most importantly, are those reports based in fact?  And if so, are there ways that the Commanders’ coaches can ameliorate those “problems” assuming they exist?

Carson Wentz has been a boom-or-bust sort of player for all of his career.  When he is “hot” he looks like Superman; when he is “off” he looks like Charlie Brown.  The Commanders are seeking stability at the QB position; stability and consistency go hand in hand; Wentz is hardly “consistent”.  Wentz is clearly a physical talent upgrade for the team, but questions remain…

Speaking of QB questions, let me turn now to two teams that need to decide about the QB position for next year.  Both the Colts and the Steelers have a good running back and a better than average defense; both teams have adequate if not great pass catchers; both teams lack a strong QB on their roster as of this morning.

  • Colts’ QBs:  Sam Ehlinger and James Morgan
  • Steelers’ QBs:  Joshua Dobbs, Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph

Both teams should have playoff aspirations for 2022 – – assuming they find themselves a competent and reliable QB.  Of the five guys named above, Mason Rudolph is probably the best of the lot and he yet to prove that he is anything more than a stop gap.  So, who is out there for either the Steelers or the Colts to acquire?

  • Teddy Bridgewater has stats similar to Carson Wentz but with a worse record of injuries.
  • Nick Foles has something no other available QB has – – a Super Bowl ring AND a Super Bowl MVP award…
  • Jimmy G is rumored to be on the trading block.  The Niners would probably like to recoup some of the draft capital they expended to move up and take Trey Lance in last year’s Draft.
  • Jordan Love would seem to be superfluous in Green Bay these days…
  • Gardner Minshew played well in place of Jalen Hurts in Philly when needed last year.  The Colts or the Steelers might have to bid against the Seahawks if the Eagles show interest in trading Minshew since he is a fan favorite in the Northwest having gone to Washington State.
  • Mitchell Trubisky is an unrestricted free agent.  He has not shown greatness in his career, but he has shown some promise.  Rumor says he will sign with the Giants and stay with Brian Daboll who was his OC in Buffalo last year.  We shall see…

Or maybe either or both Colts/Steelers see a prospect in the Draft they really, really like…

Oh, by the way, MLB just cancelled another week’s worth of April games.  Hi, Ho…

Finally, Dwight Perry reminds us to keep a good thought here:

“March 20 is the International Day of Happiness.

“At least we can hope the baseball negotiations are over by then.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Quarterbacks Dominate The News Today

Well, the “quarterback situation” in the NFL changed just a bit yesterday.  Aaron Rodgers decided to sign with the Packers for 4 years and a deal that could be worth as much as $200M.  I will explain later but here is The Bottom Line regarding that deal:

  • Barring catastrophic circumstances, the Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl contenders for the next four seasons.

As if that was not sufficiently impactful news relative to the “quarterback situation” yesterday, there was also a humongous trade.

  • Broncos:  Get Russell Wilson plus a fourth-round pick.
  • Seahawks:  Get Noah Fant (TE), Shelby Harris (DL), Drew Lock (QB), two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round pick.

The Broncos have been in a “quarterback wasteland” ever since they won the Super Bowl and Peyton Manning retired.  Here are the eleven players who have started at QB for the Broncos since the team last won the Lombardi Trophy:

  1. Trevor Siemian (24 starts)
  2. Drew Lock (21 starts)
  3. Case Keenum (16 starts)
  4. Teddy Bridgewater (14 starts)
  5. Joe Flacco (8 starts)
  6. Paxton Lynch (4 starts)
  7. Brock Osweiler (4 starts)
  8. Brandon Allen (3 starts)
  9. Jeff Driskel (1 start)
  10. Philip Lindsey (1 start)
  11. Brett Rypien (1 start)

The Broncos gave up a lot to get themselves stability at the quarterback position; that list should explain why they were so anxious for some stability.

I said I would explain why the Packers are now Super Bowl contenders for the next 4 seasons.  With Russell Wilson leaving the NFC in this trade, the imbalance in “star quarterbacks” between the NFC and the AFC has gotten even worse.  If I were to list the “Elite QBs” in the NFC this morning, Aaron Rodgers would go on the list, and no one would object.  After Rodgers, you might have to squint to add anyone to the list:

  • Matt Ryan – – maybe
  • Matthew Stafford – – maybe
  • Kyler Murray – – not yet
  • Dak Prescott – – maybe
  • You get the idea…

Now do the same sort of listing for “Elite QBs” for teams in the AFC:

  • Josh Allen – – sure
  • Joe Burrow – – highly probable
  • Derek Carr – – maybe
  • Justin Herbert – – sure
  • Lamar Jackson – – maybe
  • Trevor Lawrence – – ???
  • Patrick Mahomes – – sure
  • Russell Wilson – – sure

By the way, if Deshaun Watson ever suits up again with the Texans, you can add him to the of AFC Elite QBs too.  The path to the Super Bowl in the NFC looks to be a lot less cluttered than is the path in the AFC.

  • [Aside:  Thinking about quarterbacks brought this to mind.  Kenny Pickett (Pitt) is going to be drafted this year notwithstanding his small hands.  There have been lots of stories about him and every time I see his picture, he reminds me of “Bo Callahan” – the QB who everyone thought would be the first player taken in the movie, “Draft Day”.   Use Google images to see if you agree with me…]

The thread to the next topic is tenuous, but another “Broncos’ QB” has been in the news recently.  Brian Griese was originally drafted by the Broncos and played in the NFL for eleven seasons.  Since retiring in 2009, Griese has been in the broadcasting booth making it to the Monday Night Football announcing team on ESPN.  Griese has recently left ESPN to take a job with the Niners as their QB coach.

I think this is an excellent career move for Brian Griese.  I doubt that he had a lot of “growth potential” left in the broadcasting business; he had reached his level of competence.  But he is only 47 years old and that is not exactly “retirement age” for most folks.  So, this job offers him a challenge and an opportunity to become a “hot commodity” in the assistant coaching profession.  The Niners have a rookie they must like in Trey Lance; after all , the Niners traded up in the Draft to take him with the 3rd overall pick last year.  If Griese works with him and Lance emerges as a young star QB, Brian Griese – – rightly or wrongly – – will inherit the aura of a “Quarterback Whisperer”.  Those folks are almost as coveted as “Franchise QBs”…

Bonne chance Brian Griese…

Finally, #2 son sent me a note yesterday with a line from Saturday Night Live, Weekend Update that ties together current events and the sports world in a tidy package:

“Some people have been surprised that the Russians, despite superior firepower, have been slowed by aging equipment, poor motivation, and inept leadership.  So basically, they’re the Lakers.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Two Tarnished Images…

Today’s athletes seem to work awfully hard off the field polishing their image – or in the modern parlance “advancing their brand”.  I want to focus on two NFL players today whose image polishing has not been totally effective recently.  Let me start with Aaron Rodgers…

I have always liked watching Aaron Rodgers play football; even if you are a diehard Bears’ fan and hate the Packers’ as a team and an organization to its core, you have to appreciate that Rodgers is one of the best ever at his position.  Off the field, he seemed to be intelligent, understated, and insightful while carrying an aura of Snoopy’s alter ego, “Joe Cool”.  I do not watch Jeopardy; so, I cannot say if he would have been a good replacement host for the program.  His low-key presence would seem to have fit the role.

However, over the past year, Aaron Rodgers has come across to me with an added dimension to his image/brand – – and it is not flattering.  Last year, he engaged in a long-term feud with his team management leading to stories about how he would never play for the Packers again and how he wanted to be traded and – – you remember all that.  Then came the NFL regular season and Rodgers worked his magic on the field again until the Packers lost in the playoffs to the Niners on 22 January.  That was six-and-a-half weeks ago.  A day or so after the game, Rodgers said that he would make up his mind about what he wanted to do with the rest of his career quickly so that the Packers could get their ducks in line and go forward with plans for 2022.  So, what has happened in those six weeks or so?

  • We have had reports that Rodgers is going to retire.  If that were the case – and if he and Tom Brady actually “stay retired”, then Rodgers, Brady and Ben Roethlisberger can headline the Hall of Fame class 5 years from now.  [Aside:  I wonder if any of those three QBs would be happy “sharing that stage” with the other two inductees.  Just a thought…]
  • We have had reports that Rodgers and the Packers’ management have patched up their relationship leading to the team making him a “huge offer”.
  • We have had reports that he has made a list of teams where he would accept a trade – – and of course that led to speculation about what any potential trading partner might give to the Packers in exchange for Rodgers.

It has been six weeks, folks; no one forced Aaron Rodgers to say he would makeup his mind quickly; he did that all by his lonesome.  So, that leads me now to see him and his image as tending toward “attention whore territory” which is not even close to the image he has projected for the past decade.  Think about it; if he had been seen as an “attention whore” over the years, do you think he would have even gotten an audition for the Jeopardy host role?

The other player whose image/brand was blindsided and is taking on water would be Falcons’ WR, Calvin Ridley.  He has been suspended indefinitely – at a minimum for all of 2022 – for “violating the NFL policy on gambling”.  That is the sugar-coated version of the issue here; reports say that Ridley bet on NFL games last year including bets on the Falcons to win in parlay bets.  To be fair, he made those bets when he was inactive and not on the field; that is a small plus in this open ocean of stupidity.

Spare me the diatribe about the NFL’s hypocrisy for bellying up to the trough and taking millions of dollars from gambling institutions and websites.  There is a fundamental difference between the league allowing “strategic partnerships” with betting companies and the league allowing gambling ads on its programming on one hand and having an active player or coach or official betting on actual NFL games.  If anyone needs that distinction explained to them, I fear they will never understand it.

Ridley left the Falcons last year in October for “mental health reasons”.  That covers a broad landscape and I profess no expertise in the area.  However, according to reports sometime in November, he placed parlay bets on NFL games while he was away from the team.  Try as I might, I cannot cobble together a set of events whereby whatever healing processes/therapies/counselings he underwent for his mental health led him to think that betting on NFL games as a player in the NFL was OK.  Please do not try to convince me that it was a gambling addiction that was the mental health issue that caused him to leave the Falcons because if he had been betting on NFL games before that as an active player on the field, that makes it 100 times worse.

Ridley has subsequently Tweeted:

“I don’t have a gambling problem.”

Well, if that is unassailably true, then as far as I am concerned, he has an intellect problem.  The NFL has a history regarding players and gambling:

  • In the 1960s, Paul Hornung and Alex Karras (both players inducted into the Hall of Fame) were suspended for 1 year for betting on games.  [Aside:  Karras also was a part owner of a bar in Detroit that was allegedly associated with organized crime there.]
  • In the 1970s, the NFL “forced” Joe Namath (another Hall of Fame player) to sell a bar he opened in NYC because of “organized crime” association and possible illegal gambling activities.
  • In the 1980s, the NFL had to deal with Art Schlichter whose gambling activities and gambling problem were chronicled even during his college days at Ohio State.  Rather than trying to summarize the train-wreck that was Art Schlichter, let me point you to his Wikipedia entry.

Aaron Rodgers is coming across as “annoying”; Calvin Ridley is coming across as “dumber than a bag of hammers”.  Neither “brand” is being advanced…

Finally, since I mentioned Alex Karras above, let me close with an incident that happened after he had been reinstated by the NFL.  As a game captain, Karras was at the 50-yardline with the officials for the coin toss; the referee asked Karras to call heads or tails and Karras reportedly replied:

“I’m sorry, sir; I’m not permitted to gamble.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Success And Failure

This week, fans of college basketball will be focused on conference tournaments looking to see which teams will get automatic entry into the upcoming tournament.  Here in the DC area, one of the teams that will assuredly NOT be in the tournament is Georgetown; the Hoyas have been a disaster this year.  Consider:

  • Overall Record is 6-24
  • Big East Conference record is 0-19
  • Current losing streak is 20 games

Georgetown’s coach is Patrick Ewing; this is the end of his 5th year in that job and my first thought was to use Thomas Wolfe’s novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, as a metaphor for his situation.  Indeed, Ewing’s coaching record at Georgetown bears no resemblance to Ewing’s playing record at Georgetown back in the 1980s.  As a coach, his cumulative record over 5 seasons stands today at 68-83.  However, I think there might be a larger context in which to think about Ewing’s status.

  • NBA players do not necessarily become good college basketball coaches.

Yes, Bobby Hurley has been a success at Buffalo and at Arizona State compiling a 160-119 record and three NCAA Tournament appearances over 9 seasons.  And yes, Penny Hardaway has been 82-41 over for seasons at Memphis and his team won the NIT last year.  Another success story would be Johnny Dawkins who has been the head coach at Stanford (8 years) and UCF (6 years) amassing a record of 267-186 and winning the NIT two times.  Avery Johnson was a combined 75-62 at Alabama over 4 seasons.  It is too soon to tell, but I’ll put Hubert Davis in this category provisionally given his first UNC team has a 23-8 record as of this morning.

However, check out some of these other records for NBA players turned college head coaches; some of these are not pretty at all:

  • Danny Manning is 126-152 over 8.5 seasons.  (Took over mid-season this year)
  • Donyell Marshall is 40-104 over 5 seasons.
  • Aaron McKie is 36-39 over 3 seasons.  (He too is back at his alma mater.)
  • Chris Mullen was 59-73 over 4 seasons.  (He too went back to his alma mater.)
  • Terry Porter was 43-104 over 5 seasons.
  • Mark Price was 30-42 over 3 seasons.
  • Jerry Stackhouse is 35-52 over 3 seasons.
  • Reggie Theus is 103-149 over 7 seasons.

Let me interject a disclaimer here.  The “research” that went into compiling this data represents about an hour’s worth of work.  These are the former NBA players that came to mind as college coaches and truth be told, I was not sure where some of them had tried their hand at coaching college kids.  And I did not even try to go back to the early days of the NBA so that meant that I left Al McGuire off this list.  I accept without question that McGuire was a great college coach, but his NBA career on the floor was a bit less than some of the other coaches here.  In fact, as a player, he was not the best one in his immediate family; his brother Dick McGuire would carry that label.

So, maybe in this context, it is not all that surprising that Patrick Ewing is struggling on the bench at Georgetown.

Shifting gears…  Another top-shelf basketball player – – Brittney Griner – – finds herself in serious circumstances today.  Last month, she was arrested in Russia on charges that she was smuggling drugs into the country.  Griner plays for a women’s pro team in Russia and evidently a drug-sniffing dog alerted authorities to vape cartridges in her bag that supposedly contained “Hash Oil”.  Based on news reporting, “Hash Oil” is an illegal substance in Russia.

Let me just say that Russia and the United States do not see eye-to-eye on things these days.  Being arrested in Russia and being subject to their system of jurisprudence would be a bad thing under the best of circumstances; being in that status today cannot be anything close to calm and serene.

Moving on …  Several months ago, Robert Griffin III announced that he would be writing a “tell-all book” about his time with the Washington Commanders – – under one of their previous names.  He said his working title for the book that would indicate the content was Surviving Washington.  Given the various allegations and complaints made by women who worked for the team in the days when Griffin was with the team, one might concoct in one’s mind some sort of web of sordid tales.  Griffin alluded to issues of sexual harassment and “medical mismanagement” when he announced the upcoming book release.  Here is how Goodreads.com characterized the book prior to its publication:

“A one-of-a-kind, explosive tell-all from former franchise savior, Robert Griffin III, detailing the shocking mismanagement and toxic culture within the most dysfunctional professional football team in America.”

Late last week, however, RG3 announced that his book will not be released.  It is not clear why that decision was made but reports have it that Griffin’s co-author has “moved on to other projects”.  Here is what RG3 had to say about the situation, and it is anything but conclusive:

“Through the process of thinking about writing a book, I’ve learned that this an issue bigger than one person.  I want to give space to and elevate those who have already come forward, while encouraging those who have not yet to feel empowered to speak. This is a matter that very qualified people are continuing to manage with sensitivity and seriousness, and ultimately, I learned that this book was not the proper forum for this. In time and through a more meaningful method, I hope to address my first-hand experience.”

I have no idea what all that means; you are on your own to decipher that argle-bargle.

Finally, let me close today with an entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

James Joyce:  Famous Irishman who was noted for creating rambling stream-of-consciousness and often incomprehensible stories even without the aid of a pub.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



The NFL Draft – – A Cautionary Tale

I was scrolling through the sports channels yesterday looking to find the most interesting thing to watch when I happened across NFL Network and its coverage of the Combine.  A QB prospect from W. Kentucky named Bailey Zappe had just completed his 40-yard dash and the screen graphic said it was 4.88 and at that point I realized a couple of things:

  • I had never heard the name Bailey Zappe; so, I was surprised to learn that he was a Combine invitee.
  • I know that CBs and WRs normally record times for the 40-yard dash around 4.3 seconds, but I did not know what was a “normal time” for a QB off the top of my head.
  • The standard evaluation of this year’s QB crop is that it does not have a sure-fire star or two at the top of the class or even a lot of depth in the class.

That convinced me to go and find out what sort of impressions folks took away from the entirety of the workouts from yesterday’s Combine performances.  From the reporting, here is what I learned:

  • QBs had their hands measured and people surprised to see that one of the top prospects – – Kenny Pickett from Pitt – – has a “very small hand.”  His hand measures 8 ½ inches and only one other QB measured below 9 inches with one QB having a 10-inch hand.  [For the record, my hand measures at 9 ¼ inches to give you a “real world” perspective.]
  • The fastest 40-yard dash time for one of the QBs  yesterday was 4.52 seconds by Desmond Ridder from Cincy.  That is the same fastest 40-yard dash time recorded for all the tight end prospects this year recorded by Chigoziem Okonkwo from Maryland.
  • There are 15 QBs performing at the Combine this year.  A quick glance through my notes from watching college football games last year does not reveal a surfeit of praise for the folks on that list.

And that last item led me to start thinking this morning about lean years for teams that are looking to find a QB in the Draft.  [Aside:  In case you were wondering how and why I get mired in Google searches for sports stuff, this meander into NFL Draft history might provide an example.]  So, I started looking back at NFL Drafts to see when the last “lean year for QBs” occurred.

It took a while before I got back to the 2013 NFL Draft.  I wasn’t looking just for the presence of future Hall of Fame prospects in these drafts, I was looking to see if there were a handful of reliable starters in the batches.  Here is what I came up with for 2013:

  • Matt Barkley
  • Mike Glennon
  • Landry Jones
  • EJ Manuel
  • Geno Smith

EJ Manuel was the first QB taken in that Draft at pick #16 in the first round; he was the only QB taken in the first round that year.  Geno Smith was the next one off the board early in the second round; of all the QBs taken in 2013, Geno Smith is at the head of the class.  Meaning no disrespect to Geno Smith, that means the QB in that Draft who achieved the most in the NFL barely made it to the journeyman level.

But I did not stop there because there was a draft class that had the potential to be worse because I knew that the overall #1 pick in that draft was a QB and that he was a total bust.  I reasoned that unless there was a “Tom Brady Sleeper” in that draft, it could be even less impressive.  It took me another 20-30 minutes to get to the 2007 NFL Draft.  [Aside:  What I really needed was Mr. Peabody and his Wayback Machine…]

            Here are the QBs from the 2007 Draft who became starters in the NFL:

  • John Beck  (2nd round)
  • Trent Edwards  (3rd round)
  • Kevin Kolb (2nd round)
  • Brady Quinn (second QB taken in the draft with pick #22 in the 1st round)
  • JaMarcus Russell (taken first overall in the 2013 Draft)
  • Drew Stanton  (2nd round)
  • Tyler Thigpen  (7th round)

Here is the scary thing about those two lists.  Geno Smith is the best pro QB if you combine the two lists.  This could be a cautionary tale for NFL coaches and GMs looking for a QB in this year’s Draft.  Sure, it is possible to find a Tom Brady in the 6th round and it is possible to find a Russell Wilson in the 3rd round and/or a Dak Prescott in the 4th round, but it is also possible that there are no “top prospects” AND there are also no “hidden gems” in the QB pool.

Finally, for no good reason at all, let me close today with the definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Incoherent:  What you claim your girlfriend is being when you are not yet ready to admit she is right.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



Football HoF Trivia…

A former colleague sent me an email yesterday with a piece of trivia possibly portending frustration for Bengals’ QB, Joe Burrow; here is the tidbit:

“Did you know that the last 15 quarterbacks to lose their first Super Bowl appearance never made it back to another Super Bowl game?”

That is a stark circumstance, and it checks out; the last NFL quarterback to lose the first time he went to the Super Bowl was Jim Kelly with the Bills in 1990.  Kelly went back – – and lost – – three more times from 1991-1993.  Now in going to check out that assertion, something else about Super Bowl QBs struck me:

  • The QBs for winning Super Bowl teams are well represented in the Hall of Fame.

In fact, there are only 9 QBs whose teams won the Super Bowl who are not enshrined in Canton.  Here is that list chronologically:

  1. Jim Plunkett – – he won twice
  2. Joe Theismann
  3. Jim McMahon
  4. Phil Simms
  5. Doug Williams
  6. Jim Hostetler
  7. Mark Rypien
  8. Trent Dilfer
  9. Brad Johnson.

I suspect that no one on that list is ever going to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame but there are 10 other Super Bowl winning QBs who are not in the Hall of Fame simply because they are not yet eligible for consideration.  Here is that list with my guess as to their likelihood of entry:

  1. Tom Brady – – The only reason he might not get in would be if the entire Hall of Fame dropped into a giant sinkhole never to be seen again.
  2. Ben Roethlisberger – – He should be a first ballot entry.
  3. Eli Manning – – I know my opinion is not universally held, but I think Eli Manning belongs in the Hall of Fame.  His durability plus his two upset victories in the Super Bowl would get my vote – – if I had one.
  4. Drew Brees – – His passing statistics cannot be overlooked.
  5. Aaron Rodgers – – I realize that Aaron Rodgers is not a particularly likeable person, but he is a Hall of Fame QB.
  6. Joe Flacco – – I don’t think so…
  7. Russell Wilson – – Maybe so, but I would need to see more good seasons from him to get my vote – – if I had one.
  8. Nick Foles – – His TD in the Super Bowl on the “Philly Special” will be an NFL Films highlight for decades, but Nick Foles is not going to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
  9. Patrick Mahomes – – It is way too early to tell, but his career trajectory is on target.
  10. Matthew Stafford – – The decision here rests on a knife edge…

One person can look at Stafford’s win a month ago and say that he merely managed a game where other players carried the team to the win.  Another person can look at Stafford’s win a month ago and say that he showed what could have been for his career if only he had not been saddled with the rosters of the Detroit Lions for the first 12 years of his NFL career.  Po-Tay-Toe or Po-Tah-Toe?

Having opined about the future Hall of Fame worthiness of players above, let me say that I have no problem at all with the five players who will enter the Hall of Fame next summer.  I fact, I am glad to see that four of the five players are defenders and that the “offensive guy” is a lineman.  If you missed the announcement, here is the “Class of ‘22”:

  • Tony Boselli
  • LeRoy Butler
  • Sam Mills
  • Richard Seymour
  • Bryant Young

Having mentioned Patrick Mahomes above, there is a report on CBSSports.com today that the Washington Commanders have called all 31 of the other NFL teams to inquire about the potential availability of QBs on other rosters.  The Commanders clearly need an upgrade at that position, but I do wonder why they wasted the time and energy to call the Chiefs to find out what the asking price might be for Patrick Mahomes.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this note in his Sideline Chatter column last week in the Seattle Times:

“Mike Bianchi of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, defending the Dolphins against ex-coach Brian Flores’ allegations that race played a role in his firing: ‘He could be right, but I believe the Dolphins fired Flores because they are a bungling organization more than a bigoted one.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………