Money, Money, Lots Of Money …

I’ve been thinking about collegiate athletics and the effect that college football has had on the overarching structure of collegiate athletics.  And I believe that what college football has caused to happen is not necessarily good for college sports.  I have no interest in posturing here about the wages of sin and how money is the root of all evils.  The folks who administer college football saw the opportunity to bring in millions and millions of dollars into their individual and collective organizations.  Naturally, they took that opportunity.

College football will have in 2024 nine conferences, one conference with only two members, and three “independent schools”.  What used to be the PAC-12 will now be more properly called the PAC-2 and the three independent schools are:

  1. Notre Dame – – just because they have always been an independent
  2. UConn – – who cares?
  3. UMass – – who else cares?

The addiction of American sports fans to American football provided the opportunity to make mega-dollars and with that incentive out there, the semi-logical geographically consistent football conferences began to expand and swallow up schools from other conferences creating geographically ridiculous conferences.

  • The Atlantic Coast Conference will include the California Golden Bears, the Southern Methodist Mustangs and the Stanford Cardinal.
  • The Big 10 will have 18 teams competing stretched from Rutgers and Maryland in the eastern US to USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington in the west.

The CFP will expand to 12 teams this year and surely beyond that number after 2026.  Football will bring in truckloads of cash and will cause problems elsewhere in college sports.  I am not going to wail about the loss of traditional rivalries as rival schools go to different conferences.  Frankly, if the rivalry is strong enough to be a “moneymaker”, that rivalry will survive.  Rather I want to take up the cause of the college athletes in a non-revenue sport such as baseball/softball, gymnastics, swimming, et. al.

Just look for a moment at the two conferences cited above.  These non-revenue athletes will have travel schedules imposed on them that make no sense outside the Venn diagram that is dominated by a circle labeled “Football Revenue”.  Your average college gymnast or swimmer is not looking for a great NIL deal or a ten-million-dollar pro career in his/her sport.  Most of those athletes are using their athletic abilities to get partial scholarships that ameliorate the costs of a college education.  And that travel scheduling cannot be of assistance there.

College football changed the landscape of college athletics in the past decade or so culminating in the structure we have starting in 2024.  Not all change is for the better…

And speaking obliquely about NIL, here is another fallout from that money-driven sector of college athletics.  For athletes who are going to school with “six-figure” NIL deals – – or more? – – what does the concept of “eligibility” mean?  When there was the grand delusion of the “student-athlete” there was a logic to something like “4 years of eligibility” since that was the expected duration of the “student” portion of “student-athlete”.  Now, in the revenue sports – and particularly in football – there are few if any pure “student-athletes” so:

  • Why can’t a player stay as a “college football participant” for as long as any team will have him if he can find NIL deals to support himself?
  • Why can’t a player enroll in a grad school and pursue a legitimate advanced degree – – and play football at the same time?
  • Why does the player need to be enrolled at a school at all?

Just wondering …

And just as the pursuit of money has created seismic changes in college sports, there seems to be a similar pursuit that is getting underway in MLB.  Stories are beginning surface about the owners pondering expansion by two teams.  Let us strip away any PR nonsense here about the fervent desire for baseball in certain expansion sites; that was the narrative here in DC to get the Expos here and the Nats’ fans – – the ones who were starved for baseball for lo those many years – – only draw well when the team is in contention.  Many is the season, the Nats do not sell out Opening Day.

MLB expansion is about money and nothing else.  The carrot in front of the owners is the hefty “admission fee” they will charge to 2 new ownership groups.  To keep this in round numbers, assume the entry fee is $2B for each new team – – just a tad more than the last franchise sold for.  If the MLB front office took $100M off the top for its expenses, that would leave the 30 current owners with $3.9B to split up.  Here’s the math:

  • $3.9B  ÷  30 owners  =  $130M apiece

Obviously, that is enticing.  At the same time, there might be other consequences that are not so appealing:

  • Three franchises were ‘on the market” in the past couple of years.  Two came off the market when they could not attract what the owner wanted for the team.  In the Nats’ case, that number was reported to be $2.4B.
  • The third franchise on the market was the Orioles and they just sold for $1.75B.

That tells me there was no clamor of bidders driving prices upward for three existing teams in the near past.  Expanding the leagues will take two of the possible purchasers for baseball teams out of the marketplace; they will have their expansion franchises and cannot own two teams at the same time.  So, is MLB expansion an unalloyed good thing?  I don’t think so.

And by the way, the current CBA between MLB and the MLBPA will need renegotiation soon; the agreement expires in December 2026.  So, ask yourself this:

  • If you had something like $2B lying around to invest in owning a baseball team, would you buy one before you knew the terms of the new CBA?
  • If you have $2B just lying around, you probably have a level of economic savvy that would tell you to “wait and see”.

Finally, today has been about money so let me close with these items related to money and other things in life:

“Always remember, money isn’t everything – but also remember to make a lot of it before talking such fool nonsense.”  Earl Wilson

And …

“I learned in school that money isn’t everything.  It’s happiness that counts.  So momma sent me to a different school.”  Zsa Zsa Gabor

And …

“Money isn’t everything but it sure keeps you in touch with your children.”  J. Paul Getty

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



The Clock Struck Twelve …

Recall about a month ago when Maidstone United – – in the lowest tier of English football – – upset Ipswich Town – – in the second tier of English football – – to reach the “Sweet 16” of the FA Cup tournament.  Well, that Cinderella story came to a grinding halt earlier this week.  Maidstone United had to win qualifying matches just to get into the tournament and then it won 4 games in FA Cup competition relying on its defense.  In the last of its qualifying games and then in the four wins in the FA Cup tournament itself, Maidstone United had allowed only two goals.

On Monday of this week, Maidstone United took on the team from Coventry – – another team in the second tier of English football.  The Maidstone United defense was not nearly as stingy as it had been in previous tournament games and Coventry prevailed easily by a score of 5 to nil.  The last time a team ranked as low as Maidstone United made it to the “Sweet 16” in an FA Cup tournament was in 1978; so, even in defeat, the “Stones” as they are known, can take pride in their achievement.

Switching gears …  I ran across a stat at over the weekend that surprised me.  They listed the teams in the NFL with the most regular season losses over the last 20 years.  The team with the second most losses surprised me; I would have guessed for quite a while before I got this.  I will post here four of the top five and then, later the “surprising-to-me team” that is second on the list:

  1. Browns:  Most losses with 221
  2. Mystery Team:  This squad has lost 215 games in 20 seasons.
  3. Jags:  209 losses
  4. Lions:  208 losses
  5. Commanders:  202 losses

Were I guessing the order, I would have had the Browns and Lions as #1 and #2 in no particular order.  The Jags would have been on the list somewhere and where are the Jets in the Top 5 listing?  [Aside:  The Jets are 6h on the list having lost 199 games in the last 20 seasons.]

In current NFL news …  Matt Araiza was known as “The Punt God” in college after he unanimously won the Ray Guy Award as the best punter in college football back in 2021.  The Bills drafted him in the sixth round, but he never suited up for the Bills because just before their first Exhibition Game in 2022, Ariaza was accused of being part of a gang rape on an underage girl.  The Bills certainly did not need that sort of negative energy around the club involving a punter and they released Ariaza almost immediately.

The authorities investigated the accusation here and determined that “the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges.”  Notwithstanding that finding by the District Attorney’s office, the alleged victim and Araiza each filed civil suits against each other.  Back in December 2023, those suits were both withdrawn; neither party admitted any wrongdoing and no money changed hands in either direction.  With that mess seemingly settled, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Araiza to a 1-year contract at minimum salary ($795K) last week.  I was surprised that the Chiefs made this move because the Chiefs’ punter, Tommy Townsend, was a first-team All-Pro as recently as 2022.  A little searching showed me why the Chiefs did this:

  • Townsend will be a free agent this year and counted almost $3M on the Chiefs’ cap last year meaning he would likely be even more “expensive” from 2024 onward.
  • Ariaza has a résumé suggesting he could be a low-cost replacement.
  • Ergo he is both an insurance policy against Townsend signing elsewhere and a leverage asset for the Chiefs in their negotiations with Townsend.

Back to the Mystery Team on the listing above.  The team that is second on that list is the Raiders.  I know the Raiders have had some “lean years” since they won the Super Bowl with Jon Gruden on the sidelines, but I would not have thought they averaged almost 11 losses per season since then.

Moving on …  Stop me if you have heard this before, but Ben Simmons is injured again.  Simmons hurt his leg over the weekend in a game against the T-Wolves.  The Brooklyn Nets announced that Simmons experienced soreness in his left leg and needed to get “imaging” to determine the nature and the extent of the injury.  Simmons has been with the Nets for 2 seasons – – from mid-2022 through mid-2024.  In that time, he has appeared in a total of 56 games.

Finally, since I began today with a report on the ending of a Cinderella story, let me close with this analysis of fairy tales by author Jennifer Donnelly:

“Fairy tales give it to us straight. They tell us something profound and essential – that the woods are real, and dark, and full of wolves. That we will, at times, find ourselves hopelessly lost in them. But these tales also tell us that we are all that we need, that we have all we need – guts, smarts, and maybe a pocketful of breadcrumbs – to find our way home.”

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



Peter King Is Retiring

The news from yesterday was that Peter King is retiring at age of 66 after writing a Monday column about “all-things NFL” for the last 27 years.  His column in Spots Illustrated was called “Monday Morning Quarterback”; when he left SI for NBC Sports, the only real change was in the title, “Football Morning in America”.  He wrote an excellent “sayonara column” yesterday that you can find hereIt is lengthy, but it is worth reading.

In that column, he writes about things he will miss from his 44 years as a sportswriter, and he writes about things he will not miss.  One of the things he will not miss is a pet peeve of mine and I will cite Peter King as an authority who agrees with my pet peeve:

“I think I won’t miss:

“a. Mock drafts. Busywork. Waste of time. Blight on the football planet. One mock draft, the week of the draft or close to it, after listening to sources and people you trust in the game—fine, and even good. Mock drafts in February – laughable; you don’t know anything. Mock drafts in October – worse, because you don’t have any idea who’s picking where. What a total waste of time.”

Bonne chance, Peter King in your retirement.  You have more than earned it.  Nevertheless, I will not be surprised to see you writing again without a regular beat or a recurring schedule and if that comes to pass, I will once again be one of your readers.

Sticking with NFL-related stuff for now, the Combine is underway in Indy.  The Combine is an “invitation only” event; this year, the NFL invited 321 prospects to the Combine; if the NFL Draft were constrained only to Combine participants, that would still leave more than a few prospects undrafted.  The early days of the Combine are devoted to what I call administrivia; prospects are measured, weighed and examined to record their exact physical dimensions which often differ significantly from the PR flack put out by their collegiate athletic departments.  When you hear some commentary on “hand size” for a QB, the data comes from these Combine measurement occurrences.

In addition to the on-field workouts and the athletic measurements such as vertical leap and number of reps in a 225 lb. bench press, teams can schedule and conduct up to 60 interviews of 15 minutes duration with any prospects in attendance.  This is the setting where prospects might take the Wonderlic Test or some variation on that and this is where coaches and coordinators quiz the prospect to find out if he is “dedicated to football”.  The Combine began yesterday and will disband on Monday March 4th.

One other tidbit of NFL-related news came out over the weekend when FOX Sports announced formally their #1 TV announcing team for the 2024 season.  To no surprise, that team will be Kevin Burkhardt and Tom Brady.  Rather than leave the question hanging as to the fate of Burkhardt’s partner from the last two years, Greg Olsen, FOX also said that their #2 TV announcing team would be Joe Davis and Greg Olsen.

I am not a “Tom Brady hater” by any definition.  However, I am on record as being skeptical about his announcing career coming close to resembling his playing career.  I do not want that to be the case; I do not know that will be the case; I just want to wait and see how he does in the booth.  Peter King thinks Brady will be great on TV as he said in his column yesterday:

“Tom Brady’s going to be very good in the Fox booth. Well, he should be for $37 million a year, or whatever it is. Quietly, Brady’s been working over the last five months, getting used to doing games in the booth, and learning from people he admires in TV. Remember one thing about Tom Brady: He was handed nothing in the NFL. Everything he got he earned. And he knew when he signed this ridiculous contract, he’d have every eye in football on him when the job began in September 2024. Do you think he hasn’t knocked himself out to be sure he knows the rhythm and the cadence and the information patterns of doing color? Now that doesn’t guarantee he’ll be good. I just think he’s smart, and he knows what it’ll take to be good, and when he has to call out a friend in the game, he’ll find a way to do it.”

Let me keep the focus of this rant on the NFL.  The league has embraced “emerging technology” in many areas, and it seems to have been a positive relationship.

  • Players can wear tech devices that monitor their health signs, sleep patterns and physical performance in the workout room providing data that can be used to tailor their diets and their schedules and their workout content.
  • Expanded use of “analytics” has altered somewhat the way the game is coached from a strategic and a tactical standpoint.
  • Skycams and field microphones have enhanced the visual production of the game for fans at home.

I will not be surprised to learn that a team or two has figured out how to use virtual reality as a part of their training and their game preparation in the near future.  And because of all that constructive relationship with “tech”, I am surprised that the league has not at least experimented with ways to determine where the ball should be placed other than an official running toward the tackle and planting his foot in the turf.  And don’t get me started on the “low tech” nature of measuring for a first down with a chain and a pair of sticks – – unless you also include surveyors gear to assure that the chain is extended exactly perpendicular to the yardlines.  Here is where I will cue up Ruby and the Romantics singing:

“Our day will come.

And we’ll have everything …”

Finally, I will close today with one more passage from Peter King’s column from yesterday:

 “… the innovative newness of TV products like Red Zone and the Manningcast make the game so much more interesting and informative. Scott Hanson’s a treasure. Peyton and Eli, same. They make football more fun. Rich Eisen suggested a Coachcast, with Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, somewhere in 2024. Agreed. How fun and informative could that be?”

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



The Backup QB Market …

Last week, a friend made a request for a rant.  He reminded me that I had previously said that NFL GMs needed to pay more than passing attention to the “backup QB position” when they did roster construction; my friend said he had been skeptical about the importance of my assertion until last season when “backup QBs” were making significant contributions to playoff teams.  So, his request was for me to present the free agents who might be available to GMs as they did their roster construction for 2024.

I said that I would try to fulfill the request but as soon as I started digging, I realized that there had to be constraints put on my search lest I not get it done before the season started in August.  Here is what I did NOT do:

  • I did not research the contract status for any QBs in the CFL or the UFL who might be considered for backup positions in the NFL this year.
  • I did not consider any QBs who have only played in college and may make their way to training camps this year as late round picks or undrafted free agents.
  • I did not consider free agent QBs who are seeking starting jobs in the NFL such as Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson et al.

Here is an alphabetical list of QBs who are in the job market.  I will have a short comment about some of them.  If you want a deeper dive into their qualifications let me recommend that you visit and enter the name of the player you are interested in.

Before I get to the listing, let me define the qualities of a backup QB in terms that no coach or GM would ever use in public.  A backup QB is an insurance policy; like an insurance policy, the preferred course of business is never having to use the QB or the insurance.  Backup QBs, therefore, need to be ”good locker room guys” who stay out of the “news/limelight” unless they need to be called upon in an emergency.  It is that last condition that keeps players such as Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton off my listing here.

  • Brandon Allen:  Five years in the NFL but did not appear in a game in 2023.
  • Kyle Allen:  Meh!
  • Matt Barkley:  In 10 seasons, he has appeared in 20 games and started 7 times.  He must be a great locker room guy …
  • Jacoby Brisset:  A proven backup QB on the field and supposedly in the locker room.
  • Sam Darnold:  Once a highly regarded QB prospect.
  • Josh Dobbs:  Been in the NFL 4 years and has been on 5 teams; clearly, he is a “quick study”.
  • Jeff Driskell:  Career backup.
  • Blaine Gabbert:  Twelve years in the NFL; appeared in 69 games; 51 TDs and 50 INTs.
  • Will Grier:  Started 2 games for the Panthers in 2019; 0 TDs and 4 INTs.  That is the extent of his NFL career so far.
  • Tyler Huntley:  His style of play makes him a perfect backup to Lamar Jackson.
  • Drew Lock:  A second round pick in 2019.
  • Joe Flacco:  Maybe too old for a team to sign as its starter, but his performance in 2023 says he can be a valuable backup.
  • Nick Foles:  Has not filed his “retirement papers” and is a former MVP of the Super Bowl.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo:  Rumors say he will be released by the Raiders.  He must serve a two-game suspension for PEDs.  Good enough for a backup role somewhere.
  • Marcus Mariota:  Good guy to fill in for a game or three if needed.
  • Gardner Minshew:  He might be hoping for a starting job, but I think he is a prime candidate for a backup position.
  • Nate Peterman:  Career stat here – – 4 TDs and 13 INTs …
  • Brett Rypien:  Meh!
  • Mason Rudolph:  He might compete for the starting job in several places, because he has shown well in the backup role.
  • Trevor Siemian:  Meh!
  • Easton Stick:  A late round pick in 2019; started 4 games in 2023 and the Chargers lost them all.
  • Nate Sudfeld:  Meh!
  • Ryan Tannehill:  Loads of NFL experience; could step in and start if needed.
  • Tyrod Taylor:  Not good enough to be a starter but has played well as a backup for 5 teams since 2011.
  • Mitchell Trubisky:  Once a highly regarded prospect.
  • PJ Walker:  Meh!
  • Carson Wentz:  Showed great promise early in his career.
  • Zach Wilson:  Rumors say he will be released by the Jets.  He was the #2 overall pick in 2021.
  • Jameis Winston:  He can throw a team out of a game and/or back into a game – – often in the same game.
  • John Wolford:  Three years in the NFL, he did not appear in any game in 2023.

There is a potential for at least one and possibly two QBs to be added to this list in the next month or so.  In 2023, the Falcons alternated starting QBs with Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder.  Frankly, neither is any great shakes as a starter and both can be perfectly useful as backups.  Rumors have it that the Falcons – – with a new head coach – – will be in the market for a starter; some rumors have them trading with the Bears for Justin Fields; other rumors have them trading up in the Draft for one of the prime QB candidates in this year’s Draft.  If the Falcons acquire a starter, one or both of Heinicke/Ridder could easily be inserted onto this listing.

The NFL free agency season begins – legally – on March 11th; nothing official can happen until then.  However, with the convocation of agents and scouts and coaches and GMs at the NFL Combine that begins today, there will be lots of sub rosa negotiating and posturing among the attendees.

So, if your favorite NFL team needs to dip into the backup QB market, I believe that this is the universe of candidates for your GM to consider signing – – with the caveats listed above.

Finally, I began above by drawing the analogy of an NFL backup QB to an insurance policy.  So let me close with these observations about insurance policies:

“Both terrorism and insurance sell fear – – and business is business.”  Liam McCurry

And …

“If you look at how the federal government spends our money, it’s an insurance conglomerate protected by a large standing army.”  Ezra Klein

And …

Fun is like life insurance; the older you get, the more it costs.”  Kin Hubbard

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



Habits And Changes

Some habits die hard.  One of my enduring habits is reading a hard copy newspaper in the morning.  I even have a coffee mug that says:

  • “I Love the Smell of Newsprint in the Morning”

A subroutine that derives from getting the paper in the morning goes back to the time when I worked Mondays through Fridays.  Every Friday morning, I would turn to the sports section because the Washington Post would always have a listing of all the sports telecasts and broadcasts for the upcoming weekend.  I still do that, and this morning’s listings reminded me of how over-exposed college basketball is on television.

  • Tomorrow in my local area, there will be 42 men’s college basketball games available for viewing plus 4 women’s college basketball games.
  • As if that were insufficient, on Sunday there will be another 14 men’s games along with 16 women’s games.

Nothing exceeds like excess …

Speaking of college basketball as one of the collegiate “revenue sports”, I have commented here in the past that the NIL revolution in college sports is right and proper at its core but is problematic in its implementation.  According to a report at, the University of Michigan has hired a person, Sean Magee, to fill a position there with the title “Senior Associate Athletic Director and General Manager for Football.”  The person plucked to take this job comes from the Chicago Bears where his title was “Chief of Staff”.  Here is how the Maize & Blue Review portrayed the new Michigan position:

“A college General Manager oversees all of the roster construction for a program. A decade ago, a program could work with a recruiting coordinator alone, but that is not the case anymore. Moore wants to increase the recruiting staff at Michigan, put more resources towards NIL, and still keep a focus on player retention and the transfer portal. As General Manager, Magee will oversee all of that.”

If that sounds to you as if the college football program at Michigan is morphing into a business entity that closely resembles the way NFL franchises are structured, I will violently agree.  And the evolution is not limited to football.

Villanova University has hired someone to do – essentially – the same job for the basketball program there.  Baker Dunleavy is the “General Manager of Villanova Basketball”.  Here is how the Villanova Athletic Director characterized this position at the time of Dunleavy’s hiring in 2023:

“The dramatic changes in college basketball over the past several years have brought new challenges and forced us to collectively think differently.  I believe the creation of the GM role, particularly with Baker at the helm, positions Villanova well competitively for the future. It will allow Villanova to be even more forward-thinking and bring an innovative and seasoned perspective to the ever-evolving college basketball landscape.”

Here is how the Villanova Staff Directory summarizes the responsibilities of this position:

“The General Manager supports William B. Finneran Endowed Men’s Head Coach Kyle Neptune and Women’s Head Coach Denise Dillon in managing a myriad of responsibilities that impact both programs, including opportunities and education around Name, Image and Likeness; the transfer portal; student-athlete brand-building and marketing; and advancing institutional fundraising in partnership with University Advancement. The General Manager reports directly to the … Director of Athletics.”

Cue Bob Dylan here … “For the times they are a- changin …”

I began this morning scanning the weekend sports on TV listings and I saw that the Sixers/Bucks game on Sunday will be telecast here.  I will tune in to that one for several reasons:

  • The two teams are separated in the standings by only 2.5 games.
  • The Sixers are “injury depleted” with Joel Embiid still on the mend.
  • The Bucks have not been playing well at all over the last month or so.

On January 23 – one month ago – the Milwaukee Bucks’ record was 30-13 (win percentage = .698) and they fired their head coach Adrian Griffin.  The Bucks had  added Damian Lillard to their roster this year and the expectations were NBA Finals at least.  But despite the gaudy record, the team’s lack of defense threatened those expectations.  Hence the firing of the coach and his replacement by Doc Rivers.  At first glance, that makes good sense.  Rivers has won an NBA championship in his coaching career, and he brought a 24-year coaching history with him to the job in Milwaukee.  In those 24 years as a head coach in the NBA, Rivers only had one full season where his record was below .500.

As of this morning, the Bucks’ record is 35-21 meaning that the team has gone 5-8 (win percentage = .385) since Rivers took over.  Yes, I know that is a very small sample but the difference in the two win percentages is stunning.  Should be a game worth checking out on Sunday afternoon…

Finally, I mentioned Bob Dylan’s famous song about changing times above; so, let me close with another famous quote about changing times from President John F. Kennedy:

“Change is the law of life.  And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

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



Just Stuff Today …

A visit from a friend and a reader yesterday yielded an amazing stat and a requested topic for a future rant.  The topic requires a bit of preparation; so, it will be forthcoming later on – – probably next week.  But here is the stat he provided:

  • Background:  Ichiro Suzuki was in MLB for 19 seasons; he played in 2,653 games and had 9,934 at bats.
  • The Amazing Stat:  Ichiro went 2 for 9 in his first nine at bats in MLB.  He singled in his tenth at bat thereby raising his “career batting average” to .300.  His career batting average NEVER dropped below .300 after hitting that single in his 10th career at bat.

No, I have not personally verified that statistical assertion; but it is not so outlandish that I have trouble believing it.

The Summer Olympic Games will take place in Paris starting on July 26th and running through August 11th.  Back in 2012 when the Olympics were in London, the Opening Ceremony featured “Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into the stadium in the company of James Bond”.  It was a clever and a culturally appropriate way for the Games to get started.  The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro had an Opening Ceremony featuring lots of colorful dancing.  The 2020 Olympics took place in Tokyo at the height of the COVID pandemic and those Opening Ceremonies focused on how the Games might get the world to move ahead and adjust to the pandemic’s existence.  I mention all this to show that the Opening Ceremonies have focused on a wide range of themes and expressions.

For 2024, the Opening Ceremony in Paris will take a note from John Cleese:

“And now for something completely different…”

To begin with, the Opening Ceremony will not be confined to a stadium venue.  The Opening Ceremony will take place along the Seine River.  If you have not been to Paris, the Seine traverses through the heart of the city and is an important part of city life there.  The parade of athletes will take place on the river with each delegation on a different vessel.  Instead of “taking a lap” around a stadium, the athletes will “take a cruise” for about 2 miles along the river winding up at the Place du Trocadéro across the Seine from the Eifel Tower.

In addition to some reserved seating along the river route, there will be the opportunity for large numbers of folks to “attend” the Opening Ceremony along the banks of the Seine.  The organizers are expecting more than 10,000 athletes from 206 countries to take part in the “river cruise” and “hundreds of thousands” of spectators for that portion of the Opening Ceremony.  [Aside:  There are more countries taking part in the Paris Olympics (206) than there are countries in the United Nations (193).]

There are still some tix available for the Opening Ceremony once the boat route has taken place.  As you might imagine, those tix are “pricey” even at the Official Ticketing Website for the Games.  You can go there and get yourself a seat for €2,700 (2,920 in US $).  I have not looked to see what the “secondary market price” might be for a seat at the Opening Ceremony.

Changing sports – – and continents – – there is news today from the world of college football.  The overseers for the CFP, known formally as the College Football Playoff Management Committee, are meeting.  That Committee consists of the Commissioners of all the Division 1-A football conferences plus the Notre Dame Athletic Director.  The Committee has already announced that it has adopted a “5+7 Model” for the 2024 and 2025 CFP Tournaments.  There will be five automatic bids and 7 at-large bids then.  The Committee has been charged to plot the future of the CFP beyond those two years and – – no surprise – – there is already talk of expanding the field to 14 teams in 2026.

Personally, I think 12 teams is too many teams; I am afraid that the first-round games – – and maybe some of the second-round games – – will be mismatches as was the Oregon/Liberty Fiesta Bowl game about 7 weeks ago.  [Aside:  Oregon 45 Liberty 6].  I also understand that more teams mean more games means more revenues to split up.  And because I understand that revenue is dominant here, let me offer this suggestion to the Committee:

  • Don’t stop at 14 teams.  The more natural number for a single elimination tournament format is 16 teams.  If you are going to dilute the product to get more revenue, just increase to 16 teams and be done with it.

Reports say that both the SEC and the Big-10 are expected to propose that those two conferences each get two automatic bids to the CFP as it expands to 14 or 16 teams down the road.  In most of the recent seasons, that guarantee would not have been necessary since there have always been at least two teams from those conferences ranked in the Top 14 or Top 16.  For example, in 2023:

  • The Big-10 had 3 teams in the Top 14 – – Michigan, Ohio St. and Penn St.
  • The SEC had 5 teams in the top 14 – – Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Ole Miss and LSU.

Finally, since much of today’s rant dealt with the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, France, let me close with this observation by the novelist Anatole France:

“The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever.”

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



The NBA Regular Season Resumes Tomorrow …

The NBA will resume its regular season tomorrow night after its pause to stage the All-Star Fiasco.  Teams have played about 55 games meaning there are a little more than 25 games left for each squad.  Adam Silver and the PR honks at NBA HQs will turn themselves inside out denying this, but from here on out, most of the teams and players will take the games a lot more seriously than they have since the season began last October.  So, I decided to look at the standings to see what’s what as of today and to think about outcomes down the road.

Let me start at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.  You can comfortably write off the Hornets, Wizards and Pistons.  As of this morning, the combined record for those three misery sites is 30-132 (win percentage = .185).  Five teams (Knicks, Sixers, Pacers, Heat and Magic) are bunched within three games of one another in the middle of the pack; they will be part of the playoff picture when the time arrives.

The only serious question related to the NBA Eastern Conference in my mind is this:

  • Is there a team that will present a serious challenge to the Celtics for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs?

As of this morning, the Celtics lead the Conference by 6 games over the Cavs and by 8.5 games over the Bucks.  The Celtics have 27 games left to play, so that lead is hardly insurmountable; but I have little to no faith in the Bucks and only a smidgen of faith in the Cavs.

Out west, it is a different story.  Indeed, there are three bottom feeders there as there are in the East; no one will blame you if you simply ignore the Spurs, Blazers and Grizzlies.  Their combined record is better than the combined record of the Eastern Dregs, but it is still an unimpressive 46-119 (win percentage = .279).

Unlike the Eastern Conference where there is a logjam in the middle of the standings, the Western Conference standings have the top ten teams separated by a total of 11 games.  The Top 4 teams (Timberwolves, Thunder, Clippers and Nuggets) are separated by only 3 games.  Here is my “Bottom Line” for the balance of the NBA regular season:

  • A random game involving two Western Conference teams is more likely to be an entertaining/intensely played game than a random game involving two Eastern Conference teams.

Switching gears …  I guess that there have always been doomsayers and conspiracy theorists in the world.  In the Bible, Job cried out:

“Therefore, I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

However, the Internet seems to have given folks of that bent a megaphone to spread their views far and wide.  [Aside:  It would be uncharitable for anyone here to point out that I am using the Internet as a megaphone to spread my views far and wide.]  And one of the “Conspiracies du jour” is that NFL games are rigged.  You need not have the Internet searching abilities of an AI algorithm to find “video evidence” of the referees – – as agents of whoever is masterminding the “Conspiracy du jour” – – having unambiguously blown a critical call that changed the course of game history.  I say “Feh!” to those assertions for two reasons.

First, the force that “polices” the natural order of the games is highly motivated to keep things on the up-and-up.  That police force is the sportsbook industry itself which makes billions of dollars annually and is not going to take kindly to anything that threatens to kill that golden goose.  Just looking at legal betting outlets in the US, the money bet on NFL games – – Exhibition Games through the Super Bowl Game – – is in the range of $50B.  The annual profit for the books is in the 7-8% range so the profit is about $3.75B.  To put that in perspective, the Baltimore Orioles franchise just sold for a valuation of $1.75B; the sportsbooks’ profits for one year could possibly buy two MLB franchises.

And the folks who run the sportsbooks are not going to lose out to “rigged games” at the betting window or to “rigged games” destroying the credibility that leads folks to make their wagers in the first place.  Those sportsbooks have “skin in the game”; I have a lot more confidence in their watchdog abilities than I do any local police force or even the FBI.  [And if anyone asks why I am so sure that it is not the FBI that is rigging the games, I will ask them – politely to be sure – to take their eyeballs elsewhere.]

The second reason I do not believe any of the “rigged games assertions” is captured in the adage known as Hanlon’s Razor:

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

I would replace the word “stupidity” there with “human error”.  Do NFL officials make erroneous calls?  Yes.  Do NFL officials miss penalties thereby allowing an advantage to the offending team on that play?  Yes.  Do they make those mistakes on purpose and/or because they have been “directed to do so”?  No.

I believe that those officials simply made mistakes and were not making or missing any calls with any sort of motivation behind those mistakes.  I have said here before that I spent a lot of spare time officiating basketball when I was younger.  There is an important adage that all officials have been told and all officials have come to accept:

  • There are two kinds of referees; those who have made mistakes and those who are just about to.

The Trilateral Commission have not joined forces with the Illuminati to rig NFL games.  I am sorry if the team you root for or bet on did not win or cover “on any given Sunday”, but that is not because the game was rigged; it was because your team lost/did not cover.

Finally, George Orwell once offered a parallel to Hanlon’s Razor (above) when writing an essay Confessions of a Book Reviewer:

“In much more than nine cases out of ten the only objectively truthful criticism would be ‘This book is worthless …’”

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



MLB And NFL Free Agency …

All the MLB teams have arrived at their Spring Training facilities and have begun workouts/warmups; the first Spring Training game will take place later this week between the Dodgers and the Padres in Arizona.  Those two teams will begin playing games early because they will open the MLB regular season early with a game in Seoul, Korea on March 20th – – eight days before the rest of the teams start the 2024 campaign.  As folks begin to assess how their favorite team might perform this year, they might want to focus on the quality free agents that are still unsigned even as team workouts have begun.

The annual “free agent frenzy” got off to a fast start this year with Shohei Ohtani’s megadeal, the Phillies’ resigning of Aaron Nola and the Dodgers’ acquisition of Yoshinobu Yamamoto.  After those events, things quieted down significantly to the point that when teams opened training camps, there were still several quality free agents with nowhere to report.

  1. Tim Anderson:  He had a bad year in 2023 (OPS = .582) but he is a two-time All-Star shortstop, and he is 30 years old.
  2. Cody Bellinger:  A former Rookie of the Year and a former MVP, he is only 28 years old and his OPS in 2023 was .881.
  3. Matt Chapman:  A four-time gold Glove winner as a third baseman, he is 30 years old.
  4. J.D. Martinez:  At 36 years old, his value is as a DH these days; in 2023 his OPS was .893 and he drove in 103 runs.
  5. Jordan Montgomery:  A left-handed starting pitcher whose ERA in 2023 was 3.40 over 188.2 innings, he is 31 years old.
  6. Blake Snell:  A left-handed starting pitcher who has won the Cy Young Award twice in his career and who had the lowest ERA of any starter in the NL last year, he is 31 years old.

I am sure there are other potentially valuable players looking for landing spots out there, but the half-dozen listed here would seem to be late in finding a home.

Moving on …  Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot last week:

Relentless: The NFL season never ends; it just switches gears. Next up are the mock drafts and the always-riveting discussions over quarterback hand sizes.”

Of course, his comment about QB hand sizes refers to the NFL Combine which begins next Monday and will run through March 4th.  However, he failed to refer to the improper – – yet ongoing – – negotiations between teams and agents for potential free agents who will formally achieve that status on March 11th.  There are a lot of quality NFL players whose contracts expired at the end of last season.  Let me list a half-dozen here that I think will help whatever team acquires their services:

  1. Josh Allen OLB:  Not to be confused with the QB of the same name, this OLB for the Jags plays the run and the pass very well.
  2. Kirk Cousins QB:  An intriguing possibility, he has been under-appreciated for most of his 12-year career … and … he will be 36 years old next year and he will be coming back from a torn Achilles tendon.
  3. Mike Evans WR:  He has been in the NFL for 10 years; he has had 1000 or more receiving yards in each of those 10 seasons; he will be 31 years old next year.
  4. Chris Jones DT:  A star addition for any of the 32 NFL teams.
  5. Justin Madubuike DT:  Maybe not quite as good as Chris Jones, but he is a stud on the DL.
  6. Josh Reynolds WR:  He averaged 15.6 yards per catch for the Lions in 2023.

If those names do not satisfy every craving, imagine the debates that fans might generate as they ponder the value of other selections.  For example, a team that needs a WR might choose between Tee Higgins, Calvin Ridley or Michael Thomas.  If your favorite team needs a running back, would you prefer Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs or DeAndre Swift?

Let all those debates and rumors begin …

Switching gears …  When the Niners/Chiefs Super Bowl Game went into OT, CBS had the opportunity to air ads that had been purchased on a contingency basis.  Those ad slots were ”premium slots” because their existence meant that the game in regular time was close/exciting and of course the overtime would be attractive to the audience.  Lots of folks were tuned in.

According to one of the business sites, CBS earned an “extra” $60M for the ads it aired because the game went to overtime.  I can only imagine the high fiving that occurred along CBS’ “Mahogany Row” as that $60M bonus went on the books.

Finally, here is a random comment by the financier, J. P. Morgan:

“I don’t know as I want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do.  I hire him to tell me how to do what I want to do.”

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



RIP Lefty Diresell

Lefty Driesell died over the weekend.  He coached Davidson, Georgia St., James Madison and Maryland men’s basketball teams to the NCAA Tournament and varying degrees of national prominence.  When taking the Maryland job in the early 1970s, he declared that he wanted to make Mayland “the UCLA of the East” thereby setting John Wooden’s UCLA teams as his teams’ objective.  He may not have reached those heights, but he changed Maryland from a whistle stop in college basketball into a competitive entrant in the powerful ACC.  He was a colorful character and a fine basketball coach.

Rest in peace, Lefty Driesell.

Let me stay with basketball coaches for a moment longer today.  When this year’s college basketball season began, there was anticipation – – both positive and negative – –  surrounding Michigan basketball.  The team was talented enough to provide optimism; coach Juwann Howard needed to recover from heart surgery to be able to coach the team and make something of that talent.  The bottom line as of this morning is that Michigan has a record of 8-17 and on some nights it does not look nearly that good.  Home losses to Long Beach St. and McNeese were particularly ugly.

During Howard’s days at Michigan as the coach, the team won a conference championship and has made the Sweet-16 twice and the Elite-8 once, but this team bears little resemblance to those previous squads.  Howard is under contract to return as the coach next year; there are five conference games left on the regular season schedule and the odds of a tournament slot are very long.  What’s next in Ann Arbor?

Another high-profile college coach made a career move last year.  Rick Pitino left Iona where his teams had made the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons to take over the good-but-not-great St. John’s program.  Pitino had been successful at every stop in his career save one stint with the Boston Celtics; his career included college, NBA and European teams; his life is not without scandal, but the man can coach basketball.

Naturally, coming to NYC to “elevate a program” there caused a media frenzy as Pitino hit the recruiting trail and the transfer portal.  With exactly no on-court evidence to substantiate the emotional projections, some folks began imagining St, John’s returning to the powerhouse days of the 1980s under Lou Carnesecca.

The season began well for the Johnnies; their record at one point was 12-4 and in December they lost by only 4 points to UConn – – currently ranked #1 in the nation.  But the team has floundered since mid-January, winning only 2 of its last 10 outings.  The overall record is 14-12 and the conference record is an unsightly 6-9.  After St. John’s most recent loss, Rick Pitino pretty much lost it in his post-game presser.  He has had moments like this in his past; this one was a doozy.

“Do we have sh*tty facilities?  Yes, we do.  Sh*tty facilities have nothing to do with not guarding.”

“We recruited the antithesis of the way I coach, with speed, quickness, fundamentals, strength and toughness, it’s a good group, they try hard, but they’re just not very tough.”  [Aside:  Who was the leader of the recruiting effort that made this recruiting mistake?]

“[This season] has been the most unenjoyable experience of my lifetime.”

Rick Pitino signed a 6-year contract with St. John’s last March reportedly worth $20M.  There is plenty of time left on that contract for him to have a “more enjoyable time” and to recruit in line with the way he coaches.  Stay tuned …

Leaving basketball coaches aside but staying with the game of basketball, the NBA All-Star Weekend happened.  Over the years, that weekend has featured three “events” that defined the celebratory nature of the weekend:

  1. The 3-point Shooting Contest
  2. The Dunk Contest
  3. The All-Star Game.

The 3-point shooting Contest can be interesting but not if there are too many participants.  The Dunk Contest and the All-Star Game itself are beyond repair.

The Dunk Contest has been done to death.  This year, the winner jumped over Shaquille O’Neal and dunked the basketball.  Previously, Blake Griffin dunked over a Kia automobile.  What’s next?  A dunker jumping over a dancing bear?

The All-Star Game is unwatchable because none of the players take it seriously enough to make it entertaining.  Consider these stats from last weekend:

  • East Team 211 vs. West Team 186.  That is 397 points in 48 minutes or 8.27 points per minute.
  • The teams combined to attempt 168 three-point shots.  That is one “downtown attempt” every 17 seconds.
  • To demonstrate the intensity level of the defense played in the game, the total number of personal fouls called was – – wait for it – – 3.

There is nothing new to be trotted out in the Dunk Contest and there is no “tweak” one can apply to a game where the participants do not take it seriously.  So, why not label the NBA All-Star break for what it is:

  • It is a mid-season vacation for the players in a regular season that is too long to begin with.

Finally, since much of today dealt with basketball coaches, let me close with this observation by Al McGuire:

“Winning is overemphasized. The only time it is really important is in surgery and war.”

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



NFL 2023 Predictions – – The Post-Mortem

Back in the 1960s – – soon after scientists had discovered dirt – – Sammy Davis Jr. posed this musical question:

“What kind of fool am I …?

His foolishness related to his never having fallen in love.  I have no such problem; I have been in love with my long-suffering wife for almost 60 years now.  My foolishness relates to my obsession with trying to predict the outcome of NFL regular seasons before the first kickoff in the first game on the schedule.  And then, I feel compelled to reveal to everyone after the season has unfolded that my “crystal ball” is about as illuminating as a bowling ball.

My predictions for the 2023 NFL season appeared on the website on September 5, 2023; if you want to see the original text, here is the link:

Now the task is to take those predictions and to “grade them” against what really happened between September 5, 2023, and the end of the NFL regular season on January 7, 2024.  I will grade my picks and then calculate my “Grade Point Average” over the totality of the picks to demonstrate if I was more akin to “Football Nostradamus” or “Football NostraDumbAss”.  You can make the call…

I began with 7 “Coaches on a Hot Seat” for 2023 back in September 2023:

  1. Dennis Allen:  His Saints improved to the point that they were viable division champion contenders through Week 18.  They didn’t make the playoffs, but Allen has survived as of this morning.
  2. Bill Belichick:  I said then that this was a “longshot”, but the Pats were uncompetitive too many times in 2023 and Bill Belichick – – as the second winningest head coach in NFL history – – is out of a job with the Pats.
  3. Mike McCarthy:  His Cowboys won the NFC East and then flamed-out in the first round of the playoffs.  I thought that missing the playoffs would cost him his job; he made the playoffs – – for a cameo appearance – – and that was evidently good enough to maintain his employment with the Cowboys.
  4. Ron Rivera:  His Commanders stunk out the joint in 2023 and the new ownership in Washington had to relieve him of this position and start afresh.  As of this morning. Ron Rivera will have to find a way to live on the approximately $7M that he will get from the Commanders in the 2024/2025 season simply to be unemployed in the NFL.  I wish I faced such a challenge …
  5. Robert Saleh:  I had him on my list only because he would be the scapegoat if the Jets’ season was a disaster.  It was indeed a disaster as compared to expectations, but that was because Aaron Rodgers lasted about a nanosecond as the team’s QB in 2023.  Naturally, Saleh got a pass on the Jets’ poor performance last year.
  6. Brandon Staley:  He did not make it to Thanksgiving as the coach of the Chargers…
  7. Kevin Stefanski:  I said in September that under his leadership the Browns had won 11 games and then 8 games and then 7 games in the regular season and that trend had to be reversed in 2023 for him to keep his job.  Well, his Browns did reverse that trend and made the playoffs despite having the equivalent of a “traveling road show” starting at QB during the season.

Three of my seven “Coaches on a Hot Seat” are gone and two outperformed what I said were minimum achievements for 2023 for them to keep their jobs.  Robert Saleh gets a pass here because at the time I wrote the predictions, Aaron Rodgers was upright and functional; Dennis Allen has gotten a pass so far – – but he is going to be “on the list” again next year…

Because I had Belichick, Rivera and Staley spot on back in September, I will give myself a B+ for these predictions.


Next, I tried to evaluate the possibility of teams that could go “worst to first” in their divisions in 2023.  Remember, Aaron Rodgers was totally healthy at that time.  My comment then was that the Jets stood a decent chance to make that leap and that an injury in Week 1 negated any chance of that happening.  I was way off base in saying that the Texans had no chance to leap from last to first; here is exactly what I said then:

Texans – AFC South:  The football gods would have to be on a rampage to make this happen …”

Well, the football gods – – along with CJ Stoud, Will Anderson and DeMeco Ryans – – were on a rampage and the Texans did indeed win the AFC South.  They were the only ones to do so.

I will give myself a C for these worst-to-first predictions.


After that, I looked at teams that might go “first-to worst” in their divisions.  None of them fell that far in 2023; my best guess was the Bucs who finished the 2023 season with a mediocre 9-8-0 record – – but it was good enough to finish first once again in the squishy-soft NFC South Division.

I will give myself a C for those first-to-worst predictions.


Before I get to grading my predictions division-by-division, I made some comments about the potential fortunes for 6 individual teams and about the importance of “young QBs” to their teams in 2023.  Rather than repeat those comments here, let me suggest that you go and read those comments in the original posting here.  In general, those comments were closer to “accurate” than they were to “off-base”.


So, how it is time to go to the meat of my preseason predictions and I started in the AFC West.  I thought the division record as a whole would be 36-32; in actuality, it was 32-36.

            I had the Chiefs winning the division – – which they did – – but I had the Chiefs’ record at 13-4.  The Chiefs finished at 11-6 and still won the division by 3 games.

I thought the Chargers would finish second in the division at 9-8.  That prediction had no relationship with reality; the Chargers finished last with a record of 5-12.  Their coach was fired in mid-season and the defense was a sieve.

I had the Broncos finishing third at 8-9 – – and that is exactly what happened.

I had the Raiders in last place in the division at 6-11.  Actually, the Raiders finished second (via tiebreakers) in the division with an 8-9 record and a new head coach.

I give myself a D for the predictions in the AFC West.


Then I moved on to the AFC South where I predicted the division’s combined record to be 26-42.  When the games had been played the division’s record was 34-34.  Clearly, the individual team predictions are going to stink here …

I thought the Jags would win the division comfortably at 11-6.  Had they achieved that record, they would have indeed won the division, but the Jags finished at 9-8 and in second place.

I had the Titans finishing second in the AFC South with a 6-11 record.  That is exactly the Titans’ record for 2023, but it had them in last place in the division not second place.

I said the Texans would finish third in the division with a record of 5-12.  What I said then was that I thought the Texans were improving year over year and the rest of the division was not.  I did not foresee in any way that the Texans would end the season at 10-7 and win the division outright and get to host a playoff game.

I put the Colts at the bottom of the division with a predicted record of 4-13.  In no way did I envision the Colts surviving the fact of a season-ending injury to Anthony Richardson and then the emergence of Gardner Minshew leading to a final Colts’ record of 9-8.

There is no sugar-coating applicable here; I give myself an F for the AFC South predictions.


Next, I tackled the AFC North and said that the combined record for the teams would be 42-26.  At season’s end, that combined record was 43-25.

I had the Bengals winning the division at 13-9; they finished at 9-8 in last place in the AFC North.  In this case, I do plead “extenuating circumstances”.  Joe Burrow only played in 10 games and played on a gimpy calf/leg in at least two of those games before suffering a season-ending injury.  The Bengals’ players and coaches deserve lots of credit for overcoming that loss and finishing the season with a winning record.

I had the Ravens in second place with a 12-5 record.  The Ravens won the division at 13-4.

I had the Steelers in third place finishing at 9-8 and making the playoffs.  The Steelers’ actual record was 10-7; they finished in third place in the division, and they were indeed a wildcard team in the AFC playoffs.

I thought the Browns would finish last at 7-10; the Browns finished second with an 11-6 record even though they started 5 different QBs in those 17 games.  That feat alone is praiseworthy.

Overall, I give myself a C for the AFC North predictions.


And then came the AFC East where I thought the combined division record would be 39-29.  No, the combined record was only 33-35.

I thought the Bills would win the division with a record of 12-5.  The Bills did indeed win the division but with a record of 11-6.  [Aside:  One might think that is a good omen foretelling the fate of the AFC East division.  Hang on tight…]

I had the Jets finishing second in the division at 10-7.  The Jets finished third at 7-10.  Once again, I plead “extenuating circumstances”.  My prediction was predicated on this statement:

“The Jets were not an easy out in 2022 despite their 7-10 record and to say they upgraded their QB position would be like saying that guy Pavarotti ‘could sing a little bit’”.

Aaron Rodgers played one offensive possession for the entirety of the 2023 season, so that “QB upgrade” never had a chance to show itself.

I had the Pats in third place at 8-9.  The Pats ended the season at 4-13 which was sufficiently miserable to get Bill Belichick fired soon after season end.

I had the Dolphins finishing last in the division with an 8-9 record.  Actually, the Dolphins finished second at 11-6.  I significantly underestimated the Dolphins’ scoring offense and significantly overestimated the strength of schedule the Dolphins faced.

The grade for the AFC East predictions is a D+.  The injury to Aaron Rodgers mitigates that erroneous prediction; nothing, however, mitigates the stinker of a prediction relative to the New England Patriots.


Crossing over into the NFC, I began with the NFC West.  I had the division with a cumulative record of 34-34.  When all the precincts had reported in, the cumulative division record was 35-33.

I said the Niners would win the division with a record of 13-4.  They won the division with a 12-5 record.

I had the Seahawks finishing second with a 9-8 record; the Seahawks were indeed 9-8 for the 2023 season but finished in third place.

I said the Rams would finish in third place also with a 9-8 record, but the Rams went 10-7 and finished second in the division.

I had the Cards in last place at 3-14.  The Cards finished last with a record of 4-13.

The grade for the NFC West is an A.  Now if you will allow me a moment contentment as I enjoy an island of correctness in what has been a sea of mediocre predictions so far…


Next, I went to the NFC South where I predicted an overall division record of 27-41.  When the dust settled on the 2023 season, the overall record for the NFC South was exactly 27-41.  There are lots of mathematical combinations that can provide that cumulative record; the combination I predicted – unfortunately for me – had no resemblance to reality.

I had the Panthers winning the division at 8-9.  The Panthers finished last at 2-15.  Talk about a swing and a miss …

I had the Saints in second place also at 8-9.  The Saints finished second at 9-8.  Not terribly off base …

I had the Falcons in third place at 6-11.  The Falcons finished third at 7-10.  Can’t complain about that prognostication …

I had the Bucs last in the division at 5-12.  The Bucs finished at 9-8 and won the division and hosted a playoff game that they won.  I based my prediction on the fact that Tom Brady had retired and that:

“Baker Mayfield and/or Kyle Trask will not replace Tom Brady comfortably.”

Baker Mayfield will never be favorably compared to Tom Brady, but he played QB for the Bucs this year at a high level and deserves nothing but accolades for his performance.

The grade for this division is not an easy decision.  The overall division record and the two predictions for the Saints and Falcons are very good.  The two predictions for the Panthers and the Bucs are brutally awful.  Overall, I will assign the NFC South predictions a grade of D.


The NFC North was next up, and I thought the division’s combined record would be 31-37.  The actual combined record was 35-33.

I said the Lions would win the division with a 10-7 record.  Indeed, the Lions won the division and posted a gaudy 12-5 record.

I had the Vikes in second place with a 9-8 record.  The Vikes finished in third place with a 7-10 record.  Once again, this “underperformance” may be attributed to a season ending injury to starting QB, Kirk Cousins who only appeared in 8 games in 2023.

I said the Bears would finish third at 7-10.  The Bears finished 4th – – deep into the tiebreakers with the Vikes – – with that same 7-10 record.

I thought the Packers would finish last in the division at 5-12.  The Packers finished second at 9-8 and made the playoffs as a wildcard team and won a playoff game.

The grade for the NFC North predictions is a C.


Last but not least, I tackled the NFC East and thought the cumulative record would be 38-30.  Looking at the final standings, the NFC East was only 33-35 overall.

I had the Eagles winning the division at 12-5; they finished second at 11-6.

I had the Cowboys finishing second at 11-6; they won the division at 12-5.  Not too bad so far …

I said the Commanders would finish third with a 9-8 record.  They finished fourth at 4-13.  Moreover, I said that a strength of the Commanders would be their defense which I said was a “Top-Ten, caliber unit in the entire league.”  That “Top Ten unit” allowed 518 points in 2023 (30.5 points per game); that was 63 more points allowed than the next worst scoring defense in 2023.

I said the Giants would finish last at 6-11.  The Giants finished exactly at 6-11 but the Commanders out-stunk the Giants and lifted the Giants to a third-place finish.

The grade for the NFC East predictions is a C+.


            So, the overall “Grade Point Average” here comes out to be 1.95.

At least it beats the GPA earned by John “Bluto” Blutarsky of “Zero-point-Zero”.

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