More College Football Turmoil

Yesterday was about the potential for helter-skelter situations in college football as schools switch conferences and conferences keep expanding.  That is not the only nexus of chaos in college football; today I want to focus on two other ongoing issues.  The first issue involves NCAA athletes, the NCAA itself, the Congress of the United States and the fifty States that comprise the United States.  What could possibly go wrong?

The underlying “problem” that needs “resolution” here is how to regulate the ways and means by which college athletes can be compensated for the use of their name, image and/or likeness (NIL).  The current status is that various states have passed various pieces of legislation trying to regulate this mess; it should be no surprise to learn that all those varying State laws are not the same.  The NCAA as an institution has all but admitted publicly that this problem is way too complex for them to handle; and so, conference commissioners and coaches and even a couple of university presidents have said there needs to be Congressional action.

It seems like a week does not go by where some Congressthing and/or Senator introduces a bill that nominally has bipartisan support to clean up this situation.  Surprise once again; all those introduced bills are different one from another.  The most pragmatic noise I have heard regarding this situation came from Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) who said that there was no hope of any congressional legislative action unless and until the colleges themselves all get behind a single bill.  That sounds simple and obvious; that also sounds like something that will be a bone of contention among various school groups and something that could test the wisdom of Solomon.

I have no interest in the machinations and horse-trading that will have to happen to get schools on board behind a single set of objectives or that will have to happen to get legislation through the House and the Senate.  But I do have a couple of ideas for foundational pieces that being in any legislation of this kind, and I will offer them here at no cost to anyone:

  • Transparency: The NIL deals between an athlete and a “commercial partner” should be public record.  Athletes can be paid for being athletes at the collegiate level these days; there should be no under-the-table money.
  • Limitations: While I have no personal reason to want to limit the kinds of sponsorships athletes can accept, I recognize that there might be some linkages that need to be out of bounds.  Athletes should not be allowed to accept money from hate groups for example; athletes at church-related schools might have to accept that they cannot endorse pornographic websites.  This will be a thorny area, but I think it must be included.
  • School Funding: When NIL money flows to athletes via the school they are attending, the school must pay into a fund that will be used exclusively to pay for health insurance for the athletes for a period of time after the athlete uses up his/her eligibility.  Call this the Readjustment to Real Life Fund if you will. Schools derived benefit(s) from the athlete; this is a way for the school to ease the athlete into the real world.
  • Stability: NIL deals should be for more than one year in duration.  They need not be for four or five years, but they should be for more than one.  AND, if the athlete chooses to transfer prior to the end of an NIL contract, he/she owes a portion of the already collected funds back to the source of the funding.

The overarching danger I see here is that this sort of legislation will create some sort of US Government oversight entity and that entity will do what every regulatory/oversight entity does – – it will make rules and regulations.  The potential here is for this new entity to create a rule book that equals or exceeds the one the NCAA has had for years that runs to multiple hundreds of pages – – and it only deals with things like recruiting.

Be afraid; be very afraid …

The other college football issue for today demonstrates to me two things:

  1. Some college athletes are not that bright.
  2. Some college football players believe that “the rules” do not apply to them.

A bunch of athletes in Iowa – – at both Iowa and Iowa State – – have been suspended from their teams and face legal action for betting on college sports.  I have said here before that I think the NCAA’s rules on athletes gambling on sports are overly restrictive.  The NCAA makes it improper for a college football player to bet on the World Series because the NCAA also offers college baseball.  By extension, it would also be improper for a college baseball player to bet on the FIFA Women’s World Cup because the NCAA also oversees women’s soccer.  I think that is just plain stupid.

However, some of the suspended players in Iowa did not merely cross the line into Stupid Land, they went barreling into that territory with guns blazing.

  • Two players stand accused of betting on games in which they participated.  When I was a kid and I did something stupid – – at least twice a week – – my father would tell me, “You must be twins because no one person can be that dumb.” Well, I think that statement applies to any athlete who bets on a game they play in.
  • Another player demonstrated that he knew what he was doing was not the right thing because he is accused of using his mother’s name to conceal his identity as the one making the wager.
  • A former Iowa State defensive end, Enyi Uwazurike, is implicated in this matter from his time at Iowa State.  I guess he thought this sort of behavior was okey-dokey because he left Iowa State and was drafted by the Denver Broncos.  Yes, he has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for – – you guessed it – – violation the NFL gambling policy/rules.

The good news is that all this came to light and that there is no reason at the moment to conclude that any of the wagering activity threatened the integrity of any actual games.  Moreover, it is a good thing that this is being given media attention because that might be an object lesson to athletes at other schools regarding the impropriety of such behavior(s).  This good news can be minimized, however, if there are not severe punishments handed out here.  If the only punishment is to make these miscreants take some sort of personal ethics seminar that lasts 4 days, the message sent will devolve to:

  • “It’s the wrong thing to do, but it’s no big deal.”

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



College Conference Musical Chairs

I want to wade into “college football” today and some of this may spill over into tomorrow.  I have already commented on the move by Colorado from the PAC-12 to the Big-12 and speculated on the possibility that the Big-12 might want to poach the other three so-called “Four Corner schools”.  A headline yesterday at made me sit up and take notice; it said that the Big-10 might have its expansionary eye on:

  • Cal
  • Oregon
  • Stanford
  • Washington.

I can quickly understand why the Big-10would be interested in Cal, Stanford and Washington.  Those three schools are located in large TV markets and the big money in college football comes from TV revenues.  “More money” is a powerful motivator.  San Francisco is the 10th largest TV market in the US and Seattle is the 12th largest.  However, the inclusion of Oregon on this list is interesting.

Over the past 10-15 years, Oregon has been a solid football program.  Since the arrival of Chip Kelly in 2009, Oregon has been to the Rose Bowl 4 times and played in the National Championship Game in 2014.  But Eugene Oregon is a flyspeck of a TV market; it ranks 119th in the US, one spot ahead of Macon, GA and six spots below Fargo, ND.

Meanwhile, there is a current PAC-12 team in a very large TV market not on this speculative list.  That would be Arizona State sitting in the middle of the Phoenix, AZ TV market which is sandwiched right between San Francisco and Seattle.  So, let me assume that the headline and report from yesterday is correct; what might that mean in terms of the thought processes ongoing in Big-10 HQs:

  • The conference wants the better team/program (Oregon) because it feels it already has three large TV markets on the West Coast covered?
  • The Big-10 knows or thinks that the Big-12 has the origins of a deal in place already with Arizona State and does not want to get into a bidding war?
  • Arizona State does not want to go anywhere without Arizona and the Big-10 is not willing to take Arizona at the expense of Cal, Stanford and/or Washington?

Any or all those questions could be in play here; that would be grist for a discussion among people who cover college football closely – – not a faux debate among people who yell at one another on TV.  But no matter the consensus that might arise regarding the behind-the-scenes machinations here, one thing is clear to me:

  • The Pac-12 will cease to exist if Cal, Stanford, Washington and one other school go elsewhere.

I find it interesting that the PAC-12 used to be the “poacher” here and is now the “poachee”.  The Big-12 originated in the mid-1990s when what used to be the Big Eight absorbed 4 teams from the old Southwest Conference; Colorado was one of the founding members of the Big-12 in those days and in 2010, the PAC-12 lured the Buffaloes away from the Big-12.  At the time, there were rumors all over the place that Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would follow Colorado to a new conference home and that the PAC-12 or PAC-14 would be a dominant force in college football forever and a day.  In addition, that would have been the death knell for the Big-12 which also lost Texas A&M to the SEC and Nebraska to the Big-10.

Texas turned down the invitation by the PAC-12 because it has its own TV network – – Longhorn Network – – and the PAC-12 TV deal would have forced Texas to shut that down.  When Texas opted out, so did the two Oklahoma schools and the PAC-12 settled for Utah in addition to Colorado giving the conference an even number of teams.  No matter how you slice that cake, adding Utah when there was the potential to add Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is settling for crumbs; and it seems as if the PAC-12 never got past that gut-punch.

The other interesting about-face here is that the Big-12 survived a PAC-12 onslaught in 2010 and maintained itself as part of the so-called “Power-5” since then.  But once again, the Big-12 had to scramble because Texas and Oklahoma will be leaving to join the SEC in another year; those have been the flagship programs of the Big-12 and folks wondered if it could survive.  The conference has expanded itself; its additions have not been blueblood programs like Texas or Oklahoma, but they are widespread across the country from West Virginia to Colorado to Houston to Iowa State.  Can it survive in that condition?  Time will tell, but I like the Big-12’s chances for survival better than the PAC-12’s chances as of today.

So, four of the five so-called “Power 5” have been participants in the game of conference musical chairs recently:

  • The Big-10 added USC and UCLA
  • The SEC added Texas and Oklahoma
  • The Big-12 added schools from lower conferences and Colorado
  • The PAC-12 lost Colorado

And while all this was going on, the ACC stood pat – – which is interesting simply because everyone else is behaving differently.  The next big change in the revenue stream for college football is going to be the expansion of the College Football Playoffs from 4 teams to 12 teams.  I am not a TV marketing guy, but if March Madness brings $1B to the NCAA every year, I have to suspect that the TV rights for the 11 college football playoff games will bring half again as much or $1.5B  How that money will be shared among conferences is still TBD – – but it sure will be better to be perceived as a solid member of the football hierarchy than not.  You may not think it’s fair, but the SEC and the Big-10 are going to get more money from that deal than will the Sun Belt Conference; bet on it.

So, what is the ACC thinking here?

  • We can’t leapfrog either the Big-10 or the SEC in football relevance so let us just sit back and maintain ourselves as one of the “Power Players”?
  • Our ACC Network is not the biggest one in the country, but we are on the air in enough major markets to keep it and the conference afloat.  So, we need not dilute its viability by expanding to a far-flung outpost with no ACC ties or tradition?

Now, all of this gets tied up in the still-evolving nature of Name, Image and Likeness regulation which is a topic for tomorrow.  So, consider this topic  “To Be Continued”.

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



NFL Draft 2023 – – Pre-Draft Analysis

I am going to be out of the country without a computer when the NFL Draft happens this year, so I am doing my annual Pre-Draft compilation a bit earlier than usual. Let me do a reset for newcomers:

  • I watch a lot of college football on TV, and I keep a notepad beside me, and I make notes about players I see that I think can play at the NFL level.
  • Then, before the Draft, I gather up my notes and try to decipher my less-than-easily-legible handwriting.
  • I have no inside information here; these are just my opinions from games on TV.  So, I may have seen a team play but not have any notes about one of that team’s best players because I did not notice him.  Or maybe he missed the game due to injury.  The sampling of the universe of college football players is not exhaustive.

As I was collating my notes from last Fall, I notice that I was very restrictive in the games I watched; in previous years, my viewing preferences included all the Power 5 conferences and some weeknight peeks at the other conferences.  Last year, most of my viewing was SEC, Big 10 and ACC; I must be getting picky in my old age…

There is a lot of emphasis on QBs at or near the top of the Draft.  Fortunately for me, I actually saw most of the guys who are getting that sort of coverage; so, I’ll begin with the QBs:

  1. Stetson Bennett – Georgia: “Great college QB but I don’t think he can play in the NFL”.
  2. Malik Cunningham – Louisville: “Mobile” and “accurate thrower” but I think he is “too small” for the NFL.
  3. Max Duggan – TCU: “Big and strong” but “not accurate on deep throws”
  4. Will Levis – Kentucky:  He is “big and strong”, and he seems “like a fastball pitcher”.  He is “surprisingly quick” for such a big guy.
  5. Anthony Richardson – Florida:  He is “big and fast”.  Reminds me of Randall Cunningham including lack of accuracy on passes at the same young age.  Needs to learn to put some “touch” on short passes.  “May need a year or two as an understudy” but worth a high pick.
  6. CJ Stroud – Ohio St.:  He has a “quick release” and is “accurate on deep throws”.  He is a “first round pick for sure”.
  7. Bryce Young – Alabama:  He “reminds me of Jalen Hurts” from years ago before Hurts added lots of muscle.  “Very instinctive player”.

Let me turn to the RBs next:

  1. Israel Abanikanda – Pitt: “Very elusive” with “excellent acceleration” and “tough enough to run inside.”  [Aside: He broke a school record held by Tony Dorsett for most yards rushing in a game.]
  2. Devin Achane – Texas A&M:  He is not a “big back” but he “runs well on the outside.”  My notes say “Mid-round pick”.
  3. Tank Bigsby – Auburn: “Power runner” always “falls forward for the extra yard”.
  4. Zach Charbonnet – UCLA: “Runs well inside” and “fights for extra yards”.  He has “decent speed” and “blocks well”.  “Mid-round pick”
  5. Jahmyr Gibbs – Alabama: “Speed merchant”.  “Second round?”
  6. Bijan Robinson – Texas: “Very fast” and “big enough”.  His pass blocking is “adequate”, but he is a “good receiver”.  Not a lot of running backs go in the first round these days, but this guy might be an exception.

Next up, let me do the TEs – – which will be brief this year:

  1. Michael Mayer – Notre Dame: “Big and fast with soft hands”.  He “needs to work on his blocking”.  “Probably second round.”
  2. Brenton Strange – Penn St.: “Excellent blocker on running plays”.  “Not super-fast but catches well”.  He could be a “steal in later rounds.”

The best WR I saw in college last year – – Marvin Harrison Jr, – – is not eligible for the draft this year, but here are some WRs that caught my eye:

  1. Josh Downs – UNC: “Little guy” who “gets open most of the time”.  He “also returns punts”.  However, his blocking is “non-existent”.  Second round or maybe third?
  2. Bryce Ford-Wheaton – West Virginia:  This is a “BIG WR” who runs after the catch.  “Good blocker” and “good enough speed”. Third round?
  3. Malik Heath – Mississippi St: “Good hands” and “fast enough”.  “Gets very open on intermediate routes; is that due to Mike Leach’s offense?”  Worth a shot late in the draft.
  4. Jalin Hyatt – Tennessee: “Pure speed” with “good hands”.  He should go in the “first round.”
  5. Charlie Jones – Purdue: “Not real big and not real fast but fights for every inch on every play”
  6. Jonathan Mingo – Ole Miss: “Big and tough” he gets “plenty of yardage after the catch.”  Gone by the second round.
  7. Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio St.: “Good size” and “good speed” and “excellent hands” plus “good blocker” leads me to believe he will go in Round 1.
  8. Cedric Tillman – Tennessee: “Tall and strong”, he looks like a “possession receiver”.  “Better than average blocker”.  Third round pick.

Keith Jackson used to refer to offensive linemen as “The Big Uglies”; I have no interest in judging them with “beauty points”, but I will give you a heads up that some of these guys are VERY big men.  I tend to lump all the offensive linemen into a single category simply because NFL coaches move them around a lot; so here are my OL spottings from last year:

  1. Steve Avila – TCU: “Very big for a center” but he has “mobility and strength”.
  2. Jacob Gall – Baylor: “Good run blocker inside” but “looks slow to me”.  “Plays hard on every snap”.  “Practice squad pick?”
  3. Gabe Houy – Pitt: “Always downfield blocking on run plays” but “pass protection is just OK”.  This could be a late round pick for a practice squad.
  4. Paris Johnson – Ohio St.: “Big, strong and agile”.  I said, “first round pick” and “does everything very well”.
  5. Broderick Jones – Georgia:  He “totally dominated the Oregon DL” for the whole game because “no one ever got near Bennett”.  My note says he is “agile” even though he is 300+ pounds.
  6. Olusegun Oluwatimi – Michigan: “Very good run blocker inside and outside”.
  7. Cedrice Palliant – Marshall: “Strong as an ox” he “moves DL with arm strength”.  However, looks “really slow” so maybe a “late round pick as a development project?”
  8. Peter Skoronski – Northwestern:  Commentator in the Nebraska game opening weekend said Skoronski had only given up one sack in 12 games in 2021.  I kept an eye on him and he is a “really good pass blocker”.
  9. Sidy Sow – E. Michigan: “Big and very strong”.  “Uses quickness plus strength on run plays”.  Playing against “lesser competition” means he probably goes “late in the draft if at all.”
  10. O’Cyrus Torrence – Florida:  My note says “HUGE”.  Stats say he is 6’5” tall and weighs 335 lbs.  “Not a lot of speed” but a “powerful run blocker.”

Before turning to the defensive players, I made notes on last year, let me dispose of the punters and kickers because there are so few of them on my list.  There is only one punter in my notes this year:

  1. Bryce Barringer – Michigan State:  Punts are “long with lots of hang time”.  “Consistent” which is good because “he will be punting a lot the rest of this season”.  [Aside:  Punters rarely go in the first three or four rounds of the draft, but this guy might just be worth taking then.]

I have notes on two placekickers this year:

  1. Jack Podlesny – Georgia: “Down the middle on field goal tries” and “good depth on kickoffs”.
  2. Chad Ryland – Maryland: “Kickoffs are deep and high – not a lot of returns by opponents.”

Turning to the defense, let me begin with the big guys up front – – the DL:

  1. Will Anderson – Alabama: “Could be a DE or an OLB and would be great at both”.  Will go “Top 10”.
  2. Felix Anudike-Uzomah – K-State: “Tall, long arms and mobile”.  “May have to add weight in NFL”.  [Aside:  I also noted that a team might draft this guy if they hated their radio play-by-play announcer.]
  3. Karl Brooks – Bowling Green: “Pushed around lots of Marshall players” so “worth a pick late”.
  4. Jalen Carter – Georgia:  He is “quick and strong” and is “good against both the inside run and the outside run.”  “Best pass rush move is bull-rush.”  “Should go early.”
  5. Isaiah Foskey – Notre Dame: “Very disruptive against Clemson” and “good against run and pass”.  Second or third round?
  6. Siaki Ika – Baylor: “Huge man – graphic says 6’4” and 350 lbs.”.  “Run stopper but not a lot of interior pass rush”.
  7. Myles Murphy – Clemson: “Speed rusher and power rusher”.  “Second round?”
  8. Mazi Smith – Michigan: “Dominant inside run stopper”.  “Pass rush is OK.”  “Mid-round pick”.
  9. Byron Young – Tennessee: “Good quickness and speed” and “good tackler in the open field”.  “Definitely needs to add strength and weight”.  Late round pick.
  10. Cameron Young – Mississippi St.: “Tough against run but not much pass rush”.  “Late round?”

Moving along to linebackers:

  1. Jack Campbell – Iowa: “Always around the ball” and “good tackling technique”.  “Pass coverage is good”.  “Should go in round 2 or 3”.
  2. Shaka Hayward – Duke: “Good size and good sense of where the ball is going” but “not real fast”.  Late round pick or maybe an undrafted free agent?
  3. Dylan Horton – TCU: “Good tacker with good size and good speed”.  “Should be a mid-round pick”.
  4. Ventrell Miller – Florida: “Good tackler and hard hitter”.  “Awfully small for NFL standards”
  5. Demarviohn Overshown – Texas: “Seems to be around the ball on every play except downfield bombs”.  “Good tackler with excellent speed”.  “Second round”?
  6. Trenton Simpson – Clemson:  He is “a speed guy” who “might be too small?”
  7. Charlie Thomas – Georgia Tech: “A tackling machine – always around the ball” but “needs bulking up”.

Next up are the CBs:

  1. Julius Brents – K-State: “Big guy who covers well”.  “Impressive game against Oklahoma.”
  2. Clark Phillips – Utah: “Not very big but all over the field against USC”.
  3. Joey Porter, Jr. – Penn St.: “Good tight coverage” and a “good tackler”.  “Tall with long arms” he “should go early maybe even round 1”.
  4. Kelee Ringo – Georgia:  He is a “big CB with lots of speed”.  “Aggressive tackler”.
  5. Cam Smith – South Carolina: “Tight coverage without lots of help” but “boy, does he look skinny”.

Last but not least, here are my notes on safeties in the 2023 NFL Draft:

  1. Brian Branch – Alabama: “Wow, he’s everywhere on every play.”  “Has to be a first-round pick…”
  2. JiAyir Brown – Penn St.: “Hard hitter with good tackling fundamentals”.  “Pass coverage is solid.”  Maybe 2nd round?
  3. Chamarri Connor – VA Tech: “Hard hitting tackler on run plays” but “pass coverage is only adequate”.  Late round pick.
  4. Kaevon Merriweather – Iowa: “Good in pass coverage but not fast enough to play CB”.

Finally, the NFL Draft is an aspirational event for players and for teams; so much data has been collected, massaged and digested you would think it was a science.  So let me close with this from John Adams:

“Now to what higher object, to what greater character, can any mortal aspire than to be possessed of all this knowledge, well digested and ready at command, to assist the feeble and friendless, to discount the haughty and lawless, to procure redress of wrongs, the advancement of right, to assert and maintain liberty and virtue, to discourage and abolish tyranny and vice?”

President Adams would probably be sad to know that in 2023 finding a Hall of Fame player in the sixth round is probably an even higher aspiration for many NFL coaches, execs and fans.

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



Bad Ads 2022 …

Normally, I save this compilation until New Year’s Eve as the last rant of the year.  However, this year my long-suffering wife and I will be spending the time between Christmas and Twelfth Night in Ireland visiting our grandson – – and his parents too of course.  I will not be taking a computer with me and there is no way on the planet that I would try to compose something like this on a phone; ergo, it has been pushed forward a week on the calendar.

The basis for this annual happening is that the folks who pay for commercial time on TV are the ones who make it possible for me to see all the sporting events/programs that I enjoy throughout the year.  I certainly do appreciate sponsors making all that programing available but that does not mean that I must think that the ads they put in front of me are meaningful and/or effective.  In fact, lots of them are not very good and some are downright stupid.  So, this gives me a chance to point out the ones that are the worst of the lot.  It’s what curmudgeons do …

Let me begin with one ad that has been around for several years and is stupid on so many levels that I am shocked when they “bring it back”.  I’m sure you will recognize this one.

  • A young man and a young woman are out walking in the deep snow when the young man tells her that he has something for her; he whistles and a young puppy – looks like a Saint Bernard? – comes bounding through the snow from an unseen location to the young woman who picks up the puppy and hugs it.  She tells her soulmate that she has something for him; she also whistles, and a driverless GMC pickup truck comes driving up to them in the snow – – stopping short of running them over to be sure.  The young man ignores the attractive young woman and goes to hug the truck.

You know, it must be nice to live in an economic situation where one can buy a $60-70K present for one’s partner without him/her knowing the money was missing from the exchequer.  Moreover, if in real life the guy ran and hugged the truck and not the woman, that puppy would be replacing him in the bed, and he would be sleeping in the truck bed.  And they keep bringing that ad back year after year…

In the world of truly stupid ads, there is a new entry this year from a source of truly stupid ads in years past.  Liberty Mutual seems to be “moving on” from a tight focus on LIMU the Emu – – and Doug – – which is a good thing.  However, the company now has an ad showing “young people having a good time” at a pool party where they “have fun” looking at laptop computers and cell phones with the Liberty Mutual app on the screen.  They have those devices in and around the swimming pool.  Just what I need, an insurance company that thinks portable electronics and swimming pools go together.  The person who came up with that needs to be in the deep end of a swimming pool just as someone throws him/her a plugged-in toaster…

Occasionally, you see an ad on TV, and you wonder what thought process led to someone paying for the airtime to show that to me.  A prime example this year was GE Aerospace advertising on NFL games.  Why?  Can someone there possibly think that the next time I need a jet engine, I’ll remember this ad and go buy a GE Aerospace jet engine.  Which exec in GE approved that advertising expenditure?

Old Navy continued their tradition of ads around Holiday Season featuring ugly clothing and annoying characters.  This year it is a woman “playing the piano” and “singing” until she tries to feed a bunch of asparagus to a stuffed reindeer.  This obviously makes me ready to rush out to Old Navy.  How about you?

During March Madness in 2022, there were repeated live-reads by the play-by-play guys about Coca Cola where they urged you to “Debate the Goatness”.  Those intercessions hit an exacta one should never seek; they were annoying AND they were stupid.

But wait; there’s more…  The good folks at Coke also used ad time in March Madness to introduce me to a new product – – Coke with Coffee.  And wouldn’t you know it, they added vanilla to that concoction.  That gets a strict “I’ll pass” from me…

Also during March Madness, the folks at Dell chose to take some time to inform us of their product line.  To highlight the fact that Dell technology allows people to work from home or the office or just about anywhere, the ad shows hundreds of people in an “office setting” moving their desks out to the middle of the streets in an urban area.  That blocks traffic completely since the desks are proximal to one another.  So, the message here is that Dell technology creates the potential for urban gridlock and creates problems for anyone who might be trying to get somewhere for some reason.  Not a good message…

In the world of beer advertising, we can always count on these two competitors to come up with something dumb:

  • Miller Lite tells us that it has more taste and only one more calorie than Michelob Ultra.    The “calorie part” can be objectively measured; I assume it is true; and simultaneously, I know that one calorie is irrelevant.  Regarding Miller Lite, the “taste part” is like choosing if you would rather be hung or shot.
  • Bud Light has an ad with the music and song lyrics, “I believe in miracles, you sexy thing…”  Who greenlighted that juxtaposition?  A glass of Bud Light – – the visual in the ad – – is neither sexy nor miraculous.  It is merely swill…

In 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused food commodity prices to spike to the highest levels ever since global stats began to be kept.  The food price index jumped 10.6% year over year.  There was also a spike in the number of bad ads perpetrated on US TV watchers in 2022 by restaurants and other food purveyors.  Are those two things conjoined?  It doesn’t matter; here are some of the bad ads from that group.

  • Taco Bell ran a series of ads where two people are engaged in some sort of social interaction when a “gong” rings and one or both march off like zombies to a Taco Bell.  The screen graphic says, ”When you need a taco …”  And then the visual shows the yutzes proceeding to eat a burrito.
  • Sonic had a mind-bending ad saying that when something is half-price, it is twice as good.  Really?  Think back to the fourth grade when you were memorizing your “times tables”; now, remember from those days that twice times zero is still – – zero.  Want an example?  Would “half price” get you to try a burger adorned with mule snot?  Hey, it would be twice as good since it’s half price…
  • I’ll just throw this out there because I assume that you are – – as I am – – fed up to the earbrows with “The Antonellis” and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.  I hope they both eat so much cheese that they are not regular until next year on the 4th of July.

In this cursed food category, there are two sponsors that contributed two separate ad campaign entries that were bad/stupid in the year.  The deserve the scorn provided by a category of their own this year:

  • Chipotle advertised that its new chorizo was its “best ever” and that it is “plant-based”.  If you ever wondered how good Chipotle’s original chorizo was, you now know.
  • Later in the year, Chipotle also told us that “real food tastes better”.  OK, I agree that “real food” must taste better than “imaginary food”, but Chipotle are the same folks who just got through telling me that plant-based chorizo was the best chorizo they ever made.  Now hear this!  Plant-based chorizo is not real food!

And …

  • Applebee’s began the year with an ad featuring a guy in a restaurant setting saying that he had been making memories here since he was little.  He has been making memories at Applebee’s – – where the motto ought to be something like, where you go when you are too lazy to microwave your food at home.  My reaction was:  You poor thing.  I am so sorry!
  • Then, Applebee’s appropriated the theme song from the TV sitcom, Cheers, in an ad campaign.  Let me set the record straight here: Cheers was one of the best sitcoms in TV history; Applebee’s is an eatery that has never been one of the best of anything.  This appropriation of the theme song is an abomination in the sight of God.   [Luke 16:15]

So, there is my compilation of bad ads in the waning days of 2022.  You may wonder how I convince myself that I have sufficient insight and/or stature to label these ads as bad ones and that would be a fair question to ask.  Rather than pat myself on the back, let me close with this observation about advertising by David Ogilvy, known as the “Father of Advertising” and a founder of the giant international ad agency, Ogilvy and Mather:

“It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product.  Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.  I doubt that more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.”

Do you see any “big ideas” in the ads cited above?

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



Forcing Daniel Snyder To Sell The Commanders?

I read a report last week in USA Today that some of the NFL owners were beginning to “count the votes” in an attempt to force Danny Boy Snyder to sell the Washington Commanders.  Obviously, I have no insight into the veracity or the extent of any such activity.  However, I will say that there are hundreds if not thousands of Commanders’ fans here in the DC area that went to church over the weekend and lit prayer candles asking The Almighty to let those rumors come to fruition.  For anyone who does not live – or has not lived – in the greater DC area over the past 20 years or so, the one-and-only thing that Commanders’ fans hope for more than a new owner is a Super Bowl Championship.  Truth be told; I am not so sure that a small cadre of fans would rather see a new owner if given that choice.

Me?  I could not care less who owns the franchise.  But I suspect that reports about anything imminent happening on that front are either wishful thinking or trial balloons.  I know that the NFL Bylaws sets out what must happen to remove an owner or a team if they engage in something that is detrimental to the NFL or to professional football and I know that a vote of 24 or more votes by the 32 owners is what is needed to kick someone out of the club.  But I think things will have to get a lot worse before any action of that sort is taken – or even begun in earnest – by other owners or the Commish.

I believe that there have been 4 times when the league has “nudged” an owner to the side:

  1. The owner of the AFL’s NY Titans, Harry Wismer, was told to sell the team when it got to the point that his payroll checks were not cashable.  That would seem to be an airtight reason to get a new owner in place; the Commanders are nowhere near such a state.
  2. The owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Leonard Tose, was “convinced” to sell the team when his casino gambling losses got to the point where the team might have had to be mortgaged to pay off the debts.  [Aside:  Tose also had to liquidate his privately owned trucking company to square everything he owed.]  Again, the Commanders and Danny Boy Snyder are nowhere near that sort of financial precipice.  [Aside #2: At one point, Tose got a cash loan from another NFL owner, Hugh Culverhouse, and got that owner to guarantee a $3M loan to Tose.  Talk about bad optics…]
  3. The owner of the SF 49ers, Eddie DeBartolo, was suspended by the NFL for one year and he then quietly transferred team control to his sister who continues to own the team.  DeBartolo pleaded guilty to federal charges involving extortion by the then governor of Louisiana involving a gambling license on a riverboat there.  Danny Boy Snyder is not in any sort of parallel situation here.
  4. The owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson, agreed to sell the team after his being accused of sexually harassing employees.  His decision to sell the team obviated any sort of action by other owners but interestingly – to me – the league seemed only too happy to get a new owner there so that the “story would go away”.

It is Situation #4 above that may have a parallel in the case of the Commanders and Danny Boy Snyder.  There have been stories of a “toxic workplace” for women – especially team cheerleaders – under Snyder’s ownership and one woman alleges that Snyder inappropriately touched her.  There has been no action to adjudicate those charges and the NFL conveniently made sure there was no written report of the findings of the investigation that it conducted into the “toxic workplace” allegations.  As I said, there may be some parallel here, but it is not the most robust of comparisons.

Here is why I think things would have to get a lot worse before any sort of movement to kick Danny Boy Snyder out of the club can gain momentum.

  • I think that it is 100% certain that Daniel Snyder would sue the NFL and the other owners up and down the course of any such movement to oust him.  Remember, this is the man who sued his team’s season ticket holders in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse when some of them could not afford to maintain their payments on those tickets.  He is no stranger to lawsuits.
  • The danger for the NFL and owners in that situation is that court proceedings are far more open to public scrutiny than are the private dealings among the owners and/or the NFL’s closed arbitration sessions that are used to resolve disputes of all kinds.  In the situation where this gets down and dirty, this could turn into a matter where both sides choose to employ a scorched earth tactic against the opposition.  If you think the Huge Culverhouse loan to Leonard Tose mentioned above was a bad optic, think about what this could evolve into.

As I said above, I care about who owns the team about as much as I care about who the team’s long-snapper is; it just does not matter to me.  But I do think that it matters to Danny Boy Snyder a lot; not only is it an asset that continues to make him wealthier, owning an NFL team is something he does that others who may be far wealthier than he cannot do.  Some men look around to find a “trophy wife”; Danny Boy Snyder has a “trophy asset”.  And for that reason – in addition to the Commanders’ profitability – I think he is not going to sell the team voluntarily or without a fight.

He had to eat crow publicly when he had to rename the franchise after he said he would NEVER do that.  Somehow, he does not strike me as someone who enjoys eating crow – – and selling his team would be tantamount to eating crow again.

Finally, since most of today involved me presenting my opinion on a situation, let me close with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Opinionated:  Knowing absolutely nothing really loudly.”

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




2022 NFL Draft “Analysis”

Traditionally, I gather up notes that I took while watching college football games in the previous fall/winter and use them to make projections about the NFL Draft in the Spring.  Family, social and travel events this year made it impossible for me to get that done prior to the Draft, so I am going to do it differently this time around.  I will go through the draft as it actually happened and append any notes I have – – assuming I can decipher all of them.

Lest anyone is new to these sorts of things, let me lay out a bunch of disclaimers:

  • This is my perception based on watching games on TV.  I do not scout; I do not go to these games; I do not talk to coaches or players; I do not watch film 100 hours a week.
  • My viewing habits/preferences are skewed.  I watch a lot more games involving top teams from power conferences than I do involving lesser conferences and/or bad teams.  That is my choice because my viewing is done mainly for pleasure and not for scouting.
  • I live on the East Coast meaning I get to see eastern teams and midwestern teams a lot more conveniently than I do western teams.  So, it there is a fantastic prospect at a western school in a minor conference, the odds are I have never seen him play football and that is why I have nothing to say about him.
  • Because I know as I am looking at games on TV that I am not in any position to make broad comparisons among players around the country, my assessments of when and where players might be drafted will vary widely from reality.  There will be about 250 – 275 players taken in this Draft; I will have no notes on at least 200 of them – – but I will probably have a note or two on someone I liked who never got drafted at all.

With those ground rules stated, let me get to the meat for today…

Trayvon Walker DE Georgia – – Overall #1:  “Quick off the ball; lots of speed”.  “[Georgia’s] defense is stacked so probably drafted later than others.”

Aidan Hutchinson DE Michigan – – Overall #2:  “Good pass rusher and good run defender”.  “Should go first round”

Derek Stingley, Jr. CB LSU – – Overall #3: “Good man-to-man cover corner” “very quick to react to pass to his side” “sure tackler”.

Evan Neal OT Alabama – – Overall #7:  “Big man, strong man, quick on his feet”  “good pass protector”  “will go in first round”

Charles Cross OT Mississippi State – – Overall #9:  “Very good pass blocker but MSU does not run the ball enough to know if he can block on runs very well”

Garrett Wilson WR Ohio State – – Overall #10:  “Deep threat, good speed and hands”

Chris Olave WR Ohio State – – Overall #11:  Deep threat”  “think he is better than G. Wilson”.

  • [Aside:  Obviously, since the Jets took Wilson instead of Olave they disagree with my assessment.  C’est la vie…]  

Jameson Williams WR Alabama – – Overall #12:  “Seems as if he is always open over the middle”  “speed burner” “first round pick for sure”

Jordan Davis DT Georgia – – Overall #13:  “Huge hominid”  “run stopper” “screen graphic says 340 lbs.; must be before breakfast”.

Kyle Hamilton DB Notre Dame – – Overall #14:  “Big, fast, good cover and good tackler”  “top ten pick???”

Jahan Dotson WR Penn State – – Overall #16:  “ Plenty of speed and good hands”  “not very big so he might slip to mid-rounds”.

Kenny Pickett QB Pitt – – Overall #20:  “Supposed to be one of the top QBs in the country.  He’s good but no “wow factor” “maybe 2nd or 3rd round?”

  • [Aside:  Let the comparisons begin.  Dan Marino also went to Pitt and slipped to the 27th pick in the 1983 draft…  Welcome to the NFL, Kenny Pickett.]

 Quay Walker LB Georgia – – Overall #22:  “Does everything well – cover, rush passer, tackle” “good speed for his size” “should go early”

Devin Lloyd LB Utah – – Overall #27:  “Screen graphic said 235 lbs. and he is fast!”  “good in coverage too”  “mid-round pick”.

Devonte Wyatt DT Georgia – – Overall #28:  “Best player on best defense in the country”  “lots to choose from on Ga’s defense but he would be first for me”.

  • [Aside:  Of course, the Packers had to take him; they traded away their player named Devante (Adams), so they needed to replenish their supply of Devontes.]

Kenneth Walker III RB Michigan State – – Overall #41:  ‘Power runner with good speed” “fights for every yard” “mid-round pick?”

John Metchie WR Alabama – – Overall #44:  “Not as good as [Jameson] Williams but fast and sure-handed”  “mid-rounds”  ‘not very big but jumps well to get ball”.

David Ojabo LB Michigan – – Overall #45:  “Big and fast”  “Power pass rusher”  “hits hard”  “first round pick”

  • [Aside:  He tore his Achilles tendon at a workout in March and still went in the middle of the second round.]

Joshua Ezeudu OT UNC – – Overall #67:  “Big strong and good pass blocker”

Nakobe Dean LB Georgia – – Overall #83:  “Not real big but really fast” “sure tackler” “vintage sideline-to-sideline guy”

  • [Aside:  He was not the best player on the Georgia defense by any means, but how did he last this long in the Draft?]

DeMarvin Leal DT Texas A&M – – Overall #84:  “Small for a DT but plenty of speed and agility” “sure tackler”  “mid-round pick?”

Malik Willis QB Liberty – – Overall #86:  “Great running QB skills”  “pass accuracy is unimpressive but arm is strong”  “long-term project for the NFL”

  • [Aside:  These notes come from watching some of the Senior Bowl game.  I did not see Liberty play in the regular season]

Rachaad White RB Arizona State – – Overall #91:  “Really good in open field – makes guys miss”  “good in passing game”  “late round pick”

Matt Corral QB Ole Miss – – Overall #94:  “Aggressive runner – not a good QB style in the NFL” “not a big arm but accurate throws”  “needs development”

Logan Bruss OG Wisconsin – – Overall #104: “Good run blocking – – not as good pass blocking” “late round project”

Danniel Faalele OT Minnesota – – Overall #110:  “Huge guy; can’t miss him”  “screen graphic says 6’ 9” and 380 lbs.”  “believe it or not, he is faster than a fire hydrant”  “late round pick”

Isaiah Spiller RB Texas A&M – – Overall #123:  “Good size and agility”  “runs hard”  “late rounds”

Jordan Stout K Penn State – – Overall #130:  “Booming punts that are high and long”  “kickoffs reach end zone”  “kickers/punters go in the 6th or 7th round”

  • [Aside:  Jordan Stout went in the 4th round to the Ravens.]

Hassan Haskins RB Michigan – – Overall #131:  “Big tough bruising runner”  “very good pass blocker”  “good not great speed”

Zach Tom OT Wake Forest – – Overall #140:  “Big and quick”  “good pass blocker/ decent run blocker”  “late rounds”

Sam Howell QB UNC – – Overall # 144:  “Excellent runner in an RPO offense”  “not a big arm but good accuracy” “worth a pick mid-round”  “long slow pass release on deep throws”

Otito Ogbonnio DT UCLA – – Overall $160:  “Good size, good run defender, mediocre pass rush”  “late rounds”

Ko Kieft TE Minnesota – – Overall #218:  “Big man; not fast but good hands and can get yards after catch”  “lined up next to Faalele [see above] they block out the sun”

Tariq Castro-Fields CB Penn State – – Overall #221:  “Good speed; good cover guy”  “comes up to play the run well”  “not as tall as other DBs”  “2nd or 3rd round?”

Jesse Luketa LB Penn State – – Overall #256:  “Big and powerful; hard hitter”  “not super-fast but usually around the ball” “good pass rush from inside”  “3rd round”

Now for some notes on players who I thought could be drafted but who were not.  I will list these folks alphabetically lest anyone think I am prioritizing them:

Chase Allen TE Iowa State:  “Big target and good hands”  “not lots of speed”  decent blocker”  “take late rounds”

Bubba Bolden S Miami:  “Big hitter but not good tackler”  “late rounds”

Trevon Bradford WR Oregon State:  “Small and fast”  “good jump to get high passes” “cannot or will not block”

Ellis Brooks LB Penn State:  “Not very big but always around the ball”  “good tackler” “mid-rounds”

Malachi Carter WR Georgia Tech:  “Big, tall guy with good hands”  “not a lot of speed – possession receiver”

Cameron Dicker K Texas:  “Draft him so local writer can make reference to ‘Dicker the Kicker’”

Dontario Drummond WR Ole Miss:  “Big possession receiver”  Sure hands and gains yards after being hit”  “not big enough to be a tight end”

Jerrion Ealy RB Ole Miss:  “Little guy who is both quick and fast”  “good hands – third down back?”

Jeremiah Hall RB Oklahoma:  “Big power runner”  “good hands” “decent pass blocker”  “mid rounds”

Smoke Monday CB Auburn:  “Good size and strength”  excellent run defender/tackler” “got beat deep a couple times” “love the name”

CJ Morgan DB Mississippi State:  “Good size; sure tackler”  “fast enough to play safety”

Jayden Peevy DT Texas A&M:  “Good interior pass rush”  “strong against run”  “mid-rounds”

Mike Rose LB Iowa State:  “”Big and strong”  “good run defender”  “inside pass rush” “not real fast”

Carson Strong QB Nevada:  “Lots of hype on him being this year’s Josh Allen”  “big arm like Allen but not very accurate”  “big and strong but not quick or fast”  “mid-rounds maybe?”

  • [Aside: This is from watching the Senior Bowl game; I did not see Nevada play last year.]
  • [Another aside:  The Eagles signed Carson Strong to a free agent contract so Jalen Hurts gets to share the QB room with another guy named “Carson”…]

Finally, since this has been all about the players taken in this year’s NFL Draft, the most appropriate closing comment comes from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:

“If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had a sense of humor, he’d step up to the podium and declare: ‘With the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select … The Wrong Guy!’”

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



USA Swimming – – Transgender Policy

The football season is not quite over and today is a Friday.  However, I have known since September when football season began that this would be a week without a Football Friday simply because I refuse to consider the Pro Bowl with any greater seriousness than I do Exhibition Games.  I originally thought the way to avoid a Football Friday while keeping a focus on football for today would be to do my annual post-mortem on those NFL predictions I made 5 months ago.  But I changed my mind; I’ll do the post-mortem next week sometime.

There is an issue in other sports that I think deserves attention far more than my football prediction retrospective.  Earlier this week, USA Swimming – the regulatory and governing body for swimming here – issued a new policy to establish eligibility criteria for transgender athletes in “elite events”.  Clearly, this action springs from the controversy created by the transgender woman swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, Lia Thomas.  Here is my understanding as to how a transgender swimmer will need to be “certified” for elite competition in the future:

  • Three “independent medical experts” will decide if the athlete’s prior physical development as a male gives her a competitive advantage over cisgender women swimmers against whom the transgender swimmer will be competing.  Please do not ask me how those folks will make such a determination – – but somehow, they will do so.  The cynic in me thinks that the demand for Ouija Boards will skyrocket…
  • In addition, the athlete will have to demonstrate that the concentration of testosterone in her blood has been below a set limit (5 nanomoles per liter) continuously for 36 months prior to the time of “certification”.

These rules will only apply at “elite levels” and not at every age group and every level of competition.  Lia Thomas is competing at an “elite level” of women’s swimming; she underwent two years of testosterone reduction/hormone replacement therapy as was required by the NCAA; and to this point in the swimming season, she owns the fastest women’s time in several events.

Let me say something carefully here.  In 2022, it is extremely easy to be charged with “transphobia” if one says anything that might be even slightly critical of anyone in the transgender community.  Nevertheless, I have to proclaim my lack of medical credentials and my lack of sociology credentials while I similarly must assert what I have observed over the 78 years I have been on Planet Earth:

  • In athletic events where muscular strength and/or foot speed are critical elements, there is a significant advantage for males over females at the elite levels of the sport.
  • Olympic level male shot-putters can put the shot further than women at that level.
  • Olympic male sprinters can run a specified distance in less time than women at that level.
  • You can fill in at least another dozen or more events here where those observations are true to form in every circumstance…

The difficulty for women’s competitions arises from the disparity in performance from the best male performance to the best female performance.  That gap is large enough for the following situation to obtain:

  • The male record for the marathon stands today at 2 hours 1 minute 39 seconds.
  • The fastest female time recorded – it was in a mixed gender race, so it is not considered the women’s world record – is 2 hours 14 minutes 4 seconds.
  • The winning male time in that mixed gender race was 2 hours 5 minutes 45 seconds.
  • Ten male runners finished with faster times than did the winning female.
  • Now, suppose one or two of them decided to declare themselves as transgender females.  That marathon winner – and her world record – would be out the window.
  • By the way, this happens in other events besides the marathon…

My problem here is not with transgender athletes in either direction; my problem is that there is an inevitable advantage for a transgender female athlete over cisgender female athletes in specific sports.  And no amount of political correctness is going to change that.  I believe that women’s sports may be devalued – maybe even obliterated – if some of the sports do not simply declare that transgender vs. cisgender competition is fundamentally unfair to the cisgender athlete.

This is not a simple problem because I also happen to believe that every person of every gender and sexuality should have the opportunity to compete in any sport that is legal.  However, the unstated but underlying premise of any event that you can call a sport is the fact that the playing field is level.  And I believe that if a male at birth goes through puberty and develops his athletic skills and strengths post puberty, that athlete will make for unfair competition for cisgender females in certain sports.

I wish I knew how to square the circle here; I do not.  Maybe three years of testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles per liter is the answer – – but color me skeptical.  Maybe a three-person medical panel can unravel all of this – – color me a lot more skeptical.  I may not have the solution here, but I am confident that “advocates” for anything other than fair competition are not going to make the solution any the easier to find.

Finally, since this has all been about “man” and “woman” in the context of athletics, let me close with a view of man and a view of women:

“Man is a clever animal who behaves like an imbecile.”  [Albert Schweitzer]

And …

“Women should be obscene and not heard.”  [Groucho Marx]

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



Brian Flores Sues the NFL

Brian Flores has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the NFL and three specific teams in the NFL – – the Broncos, Giants and Dolphins.  The common thread that runs through the allegations in the suit is the existence of a hiring bias against minority head coaching applicants; but the allegations against the specific teams are more specific and in one case as serious as a heart attack.  I will try to open up the charges made here and offer commentary that comes from a position of legal ignorance but sociopolitical awareness.

The charge against the Broncos evidently involves an interview Flores had for the head coaching job there in 2019.  Flores claims it was not genuine and took place only so the Broncos could say that they had followed the letter of the “Rooney Rule”.  Flores says that John Elway – the Broncos’ GM at the time – arrived late to the meeting and was disheveled and gave the appearance that he had been “out the night before”.  Obviously, the Broncos and Elway see that event very differently.  Unless there is some other evidence to be evoked and/or testimony from others at the meeting to corroborate Flores’ allegation(s), this charge seems pretty thin to me.

The charge against the Giants is similar in the sense that Flores alleges that the Giants interviewed him only to comply with the “Rooney Rule” and that there was no intent on their part to hire him under any circumstances.  Earlier this week, I wrote that it was understandable to me that the Giants’ first-time GM would hire someone he knew well and had worked with.  I see that decision as the new GM establishing a comfort zone for himself and that should not be illegal.  However, the timing is important there.  If – as Flores alleges – he was interviewed AFTER the Giants’ new GM had made his decision and was negotiating a deal with another applicant, that puts this situation in a very different light.

The charge against the NFL is that the “Rooney Rule” is a complete sham, and that systemic racism exists in the processes by which head coaches – and to a slightly lesser extent offensive and defensive coordinators – get those jobs.  I absolutely agree that the “Rooney Rule” is a fig leaf for the NFL; it covers up – minimally – the existence of an old-boys-network that has branches incorporating owners, GMs and head coaches.  I also assert that the “Rooney Rule” is not codified anywhere in the law; so, I am not sure how or why that matter should come before a judge.

I have to pause here for a moment:

  • I am  not an attorney, but I understand that, in legal proceedings, precedent(s) are most important.
  • There is precedent on the books that the FBI and DoJ prosecutors found a legal theory that held up allowing them to use laws governing interstate wire fraud to try and convict folks who had violated NCAA basketball recruiting rules.
  • I see a definite parallel between the NCAA rules violations and the “Rooney Rule” circumvention – – so maybe this allegation against the NFL has legs?

The three charges outlined in brief above are not pretty; in fact, they would have to be cleaned up more than a bit to earn the label “smarmy”.  The charges against the Dolphins – and Dolphins’ owner, Stephen Ross specifically – get close to “existential threat territory”.

First, Flores alleges that Ross wanted him to violate the NFL’s tempering rules to “recruit a prominent quarterback”.  Flores refused and sometime later Ross invited Flores to join him on Ross’ yacht.  Meanwhile, the “prominent quarterback” would just happen to be visiting the marina where the yacht was docked so that Flores and the quarterback could have a perfectly acceptable “chance encounter”.  Once again, Flores refused to take part in this less than proper set-up.

That charge demands an NFL investigation – – one where there is a detailed report of the investigation and findings of the investigator that are shared with the public.  Remember it is the public that provides the basis for the $15B or so that the NFL takes in every year; they have some reason to claim that the owners are playing by the rules that govern competitiveness on the field.  Some fans may not care nearly as much about the issue(s) that drove passage of the “Rooney Rule”, but every NFL fan wants the game on the field to be on the up and up.

That last statement brings me to the second allegation in the suit against the Dolphins.  Brian Flores alleges that Stephen Ross offered him $100K per game that the Dolphins would lose last  year in order to enhance their draft position.  [Aside:  Hue Jackson has not said so directly but in Tweets he has strongly intimated that he too had a similar offer from the Browns’ ownership when he was the head coach in Cleveland.]  Let me say the following as clearly as I can:

  • IF THAT CHARGE TURNS OUT TO BE TRUE, the NFL must force a sale of the Miami Dolphins’ franchise immediately.

The NFL never wanted to admit that gambling on NFL games was a major factor in creating interest in the games and support for the teams – – until of course sports gambling became an industry in half the states and sportsbooks became a new revenue source for the league.  That “gambling factor” continues to exist and has been magnified in the past several  years.  The single best way for the NFL to destroy that foundation piece of its popularity is for the ”betting public” to begin to suspect that game outcomes are determined somewhere other than on the field.  That situation nudges up to “existential threat territory”.

There have been forced sales of franchises in US sports in the past.  Marge Schott and Donald Sterling were forced to sell their baseball and basketball teams respectively; Jerry Richardson may not have been forced to sell the Carolina Panthers as pointedly as Schott or Sterling, but it is fair to say that the league offered him encouragement to sell the team and made the process of the sale as streamlined as possible.  Given everything that those folks did to get on the wrong side of their leagues and their peers, none of that threatens the product that the league presents to the public as its raison d’etre.

The level to which these allegations can be shown to be true should have a significant effect on how Brian Flores “goes down in history”.  This is potentially a watershed moment for the NFL; this is lots worse than the “toxic work environment” that may have existed in the Front Office of the Washington Football Team; this is worse than “Deflategate” or “Bountygate”.  At the very least, Brian Flores must be seen as someone who was willing to damage – or even destroy – his own career as a football coach in the NFL to try to resolve a problem that he sees as very real and very wrong.

I have cited this before, but it bears repeating here.  A former colleague used to say:

  • Leadership is acting with integrity on that which you know to be true.

Using that yardstick, Brian Flores should be seen now and in the future as a leader.

Finally, let me close with a completely unrelated item that involves the NFL:

  • Yesterday, we saw the introduction of the Washington Commanders – the new name for the team formerly known as the Washington Football Team.
  • It was nice touch for the team to name itself after President Biden’s dog.

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



Bad Ads 2021

In the final days of the year, many folks take a moment to reflect on the events of the past year and consider changes in their lives to make next year better than the previous one.  Here in Curmudgeon Central, there is a variant on that sort of retrospection.

A lot of time here is spent watching sporting events on television; as a consequence of that behavior, lots of ads for various products and services are foisted upon my person.  A few are humorous/entertaining; many are tolerable; and some are downright BAD.  At the end of each year, I take time to look back on the really Bad Ads from last year and naively hope that next year’s crop of ads will not contain as many bad ones as the past year did.  But of course, that hope never materializes in the New Year…

To set the tone here, allow me to begin with an observation from George Orwell”

“Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”

Who am I to argue with George Orwell…?

If  you ever try to read the fine print contained in the latter parts of a TV ad or try to understand the sped-up speech at the conclusion of a radio ad, you may never have gotten through the process in real time.  Therefore, let me give you a generic summary of any and all of them that you can keep in mind the next time you see or hear this sort of thing:

  • “Whatever you just saw/heard about the product or service represented in this advertisement is not nearly as beneficial for you as the ad may have led you to believe the product or service is.  Since that is the case, these disclaimers are here for our protection lest you try to sue us for a jillion dollars at some point down the road.”

There are companies that run dumb ad campaigns, and you can count on them every year as much as you can count on death and/or taxes.  Old Navy will always produce an ad around Holiday Time showing people clumsily dancing around in clothing that no one should be seen wearing in public; they did it again this year.  Lexus will do an ad with their cars having a large red ribbon on the roof sitting in a driveway; they did it again this year.  Mercedes Benz will try to convince you that Santa uses their vehicles to deliver presents to kids; they did it again this year.  However, all the “Bad Ads” were not in the “old reliable category”; this year we had some new nonsense added to the soup.

Have you noticed that just about everything you might consume as a dietary supplement these days comes in the form of “gummies”?  A friend pointed it out and I started noticing that you can have a laxative gummy and hair/skin supplement gummies; and an ashwagandha gummy to relieve stress.  I asked my friend what ashwagandha is and his response was that he did not know but thought it might just mean that it tastes like ass.  Good enough for me…

Speaking of foul-tasting things, Power Ade started putting numbers on their bottles because they say, “There’s power in numbers.”  I would be more highly motivated to buy Power Ade if they made that swill taste better.  Hmmm…  Are they adding ashwagandha?

Mike’s Hard Lemonade announces on each can that it is “gluten free.”  If anyone who has an actual gluten allergy needs to be told that a liquid concoction containing seltzer water, lemonade and alcohol does not have gluten, then that moron is doomed to many bouts of digestive system distress.

A competitor in this product space had an equally stupid ad campaign.  Bud Light Seltzer figured out that the Bud Light logo/name made people think it was beer, so they hired Nick Mangold to “block it out”.  Two questions here:

  1. If you think it needs to be “blocked out” perhaps you should redesign and relabel the brand?
  2. Do you think the people who created this ad and the people who accepted it to market their product were blockheads?

In case you were wondering, the answer to both queries above is “YES!”

  • [Aside:  This is not exactly an ”ad” but I have a dictionary app on my phone and the app needs to be updated about twice a month.  Are there that many new words being added to the English language?]

There was an ad for Behr paint where the folks removed all the furniture from their house because it might detract from one’s view of the color of their paint job.  I have an important message here for the execs at Behr paint who green-lighted this ad:

  • The people in this ad are buttholes; if they are your spokesthings, I will definitely look elsewhere for my paint simply because I prefer not to become a butthole.

Mattress First tried to tell me that all my problems were due to “Junk Sleep”  Whatever that is supposedly explains why some doofus left his laptop on the bus – – actually on top of the bus as portrayed in the ad.  And that is supposed to convince me that folks who work for Mattress First will give me sound advice on which mattress to buy…  Seriously?

DirecTV Streaming has ads with Serena Williams wherein she morphs with movie characters to do nonsensical things like fight off malicious tennis ball shooting robots and or play tennis against 10 opponents in “The Matrix”.  How is that supposed to get me to want to subscribe; all I would want to do is watch Serena Williams play real tennis.

Subway has an ad where Tom Brady makes a cameo appearance.  Given all I have read about Brady’s fanatic focus on his diet and nutrition, I somehow doubt that I might spot him and/or Giselle in line waiting for a 12-inch tuna sub there.

There is an ad for Applebee’s encouraging folks to use this restaurant as a date-night destination. So, I must conclude that Applebee’s has identified a target audience comprised of  eleventh graders whose dates do not like pizza?

Chipotle informs me that they make “real food” using “real ingredients” in their “real kitchens”.  Actually, I would be more impressed if they managed to make tasty food that was good for you out of imaginary ingredients in kitchens that only exist in the seventh dimension.

I will just leave you with these words and you will know immediately which advertising ne’er-do-well I am referring to:

  • “We have the meats!”

Now just to be sure there is no misunderstanding, I do not care what the ad says, but there are thousands of people and places that “Out Pizza the Hut” on a daily basis.

If I counted correctly, there are 22 potential side effects to watch out for if you take the drug, Keytruda.  And after that litany, the screen says that these are not all the possible side effects.  That leaves me to imagine if it is possible that taking Keytruda might cause me to develop a second set of nostrils in the middle of my forehead…

To prove that I am not the only person who finds some ads so stupid that they need to be called out, here is a Tweet from humorist and social critic, Brad Dickson:

“It’s probably not PC to say but the commercial for the Hug Project where Cox mails you some kind of vest that you hug while Facetiming to simulate actual touch has to be the stupidest thing ever. It’s pet rock level dumb.”

Premium Plus adult diapers claim a nighttime advantage over other brands.  Premium Plus absorbs 6 cups of liquid as opposed to others that do not absorb 4 cups of liquid.  Excuse me, but if you are passing more than 4 cups of liquid at night – – 4 cups is often called a “quart” – – you may have a more serious medical condition than simply bed-wetting…

Coors Light declares itself as the official beer of no longer wearing a bra.  A woman takes a beer out of the fridge and then removes her bra without removing her top and tosses it aside.  Whatever…

Modelo tries to convince me that some guy had “fighting spirit” and that is what got him to achieve his status as a tattoo artist and graffiti creator.  I seek neither status, so I have no reason to want to try your beer that is somehow associated with that guy.

Subaru had a series of ads wherein dogs were “driving” Subaru vehicles around in various environments.  Those ads went far beyond the level of stupid/obtuse and approached the level of ludicrous/thick-headed…

The GMC Denali has a driver assisted mode that takes over driving the vehicle.  So, what does the ad for this feature show the driver and passengers doing with their now abundant “free time”?  They are rhythmically clapping to “We Will Rock You”.  At least the driver of the vehicle is not a dog…

Lincoln had an ad where a guy drives home and finds his property covered in snow from a snow-making machine on his roof.  He lives in a desert setting with palm trees.  So, the message I take away here is that if you buy a Lincoln Aviator – – which is a gas-guzzler – – it is expected that you will adopt those habits and perform environmental disasters in all walks of your life.  Sign me up…

Let me interrupt this litany to ask a simple question:

  • If Red Bull gives you wings, how come I never see anyone with wings flying around overhead?

Liberty Mutual has not completely weaned itself from Limu Emu and Doug; based on some of the new “characters” they have tried to introduce, maybe that is not all bad.  The dumbest one was the guy standing in front of the Statue of Liberty dressed up as a cell phone that is set to vibrate which makes him gyrate as if afflicted by St. Vitus Dance.  Only thing it made me wonder was if  he fell into the water behind him would the phone short out and electrocute him.  I was hoping…

Progressive insurance shows exactly no interest in moving on from Flo and her colleagues who have achieved stratospheric levels of annoyance.  I can say categorically to the folks at Progressive that if I never again hear or see anything about “Flotection” it will be three weeks too soon…

When something – anything – is advertised as “new and improved”, it can only mean that the product sold previously under that label was not good enough.  And then, you need to recall that the previous not-good-enough product was advertised as being something you did not want to live your life without.  So, now you are supposed to take seriously the ads for the new and improved product…

Experian’s “BOOOST” ad with some dude and his pet cow riding a roller coaster that gets stuck upside down is about as stupid as can be.

There is an ad for the laxative Colace that I just saw for the first time last week.  The ”slogan” at the end of the ad is, “#2 should be easy to do.”   Color me disgusted…  And if anyone even suggests putting this ad in juxtaposition with the Charmin Toilet Paper bears, they should be consigned to Dante’s Seventh Level of Hell.

It took Verizon about 15 years to come up with a recurring ad character more annoying than the “Can-You-Hear-Me-Now” Guy.  However, they achieved that feat this year with the new lady pitchperson who was all dressed in red for the Holiday ads.  The  poor woman must have some sort of physical deformity because she looks as if she has a baseball bat up her butt when she walks.

Not to be outdone, T-Mobile has introduced a cast of characters in their ads who exhibit enthusiastic idiocy – – as if that is some sort of ideal state of mind…

I saved for last some ads and comments on the ad campaign for USAA.  I am not a mind-reader, but some of the decisions made by various folks involved in this ad campaign make me wonder:

  • USAA is for the military community and their families.  I am not part of the “military community”, but I would certainly think that anyone who is in the service or who has been in the service knows of USAA’s existence; so, informing them of the existence of USAA as something for them seems pointless.  Moreover, telling me about USAA is equally pointless since I cannot join even if I wanted to.  So, why spend the money to produce and air those ads?
  • Rob Gronkowski appears in a couple of ads for USAA where he tries to “sign up” even though he is ineligible.  Were he to be successful in his endeavors – he is not – he would be in a position where he could be charged with fraudulently obtaining benefits from the government and that is a felony.  So, my question here is very simple.  Who convinced “Gronk” that this was a good way to “advance his brand”?
  • In one specific USAA ad, a member named “Martin” is happy to get rapid response and service from USAA after his home and his truck were damaged in a hailstorm.  That is a good message until you look at the scene portrayed in the ad and notice that the truck was damaged because it was parked outside the garage attached to “Martin’s” house.  Ergo, “Martin” is a moron for not putting his truck in the garage when a hailstorm was on its way…

All these horrid ads infested the airwaves this year leaving me to wonder why the Budweiser Clydesdales have been sent to Elba.  I guess those ads are considered too high class these days.  Sigh…

I began today with an observation about advertising by George Orwell.  Let me close with another observation, this time by author Stephen Leacock:

  • “Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.”

Happy New Year to all.  The past two years have been overly “eventful”; my wish for 2022 is for it to feature a modicum of “tranquility” with a side order of better advertising on my sporting events.

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



NFL Predictions Team By Team For 2021

Last week saw the start of the college football season; this week, the NFL makes its entry onto the US sporting scene.  As has been customary in these parts, I try to do a bunch of predictions before things get underway for real just to demonstrate the wisdom in the adage:

  • Prediction is very difficult – – particularly when it involves the future.

But I am not one who is ashamed of being wrong, so I shall continue to “give it a go” again in 2021.  In the process of forecasting the future, it is inevitable that I will be wrong about many team performances.  When I underestimate the success of a team, there are two things you must keep in mind:

  1. I do not hate that team, its coach, its fans and/or the city it represents.
  2. I do not owe that team, its coach, its fans and/or the city it represents an apology because all that took place is that I made an error which I will readily acknowledge after it happens.

I begin these predictive pieces with my list of eight NFL Coaches on a Hot Seat.  I do not expect all of them to be canned at the end of the year, but I do think all will come in for some pointed critiques along the way in 2021.   I will present them here in alphabetical order:

  1. David Cully (Texans):  Yes, I know this will be his first season in Houston and I also know that the Texans are going to be awful this year through no fault of Coach Cully.  Nevertheless, I doubt that he will be a fan favorite there and while he will likely survive into the 2022 season, his seat starts out warm and will only increase in temperature as the season progresses.
  2. Vic Fangio (Broncos):  The Broncos are 12-20 over the past two seasons with Fangio in charge.  I think a winning record and serious contention for a playoff spot – if not the playoffs themselves – will be necessary for him to be the coach in Denver in 2022.
  3. Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals):  The Cards are 13-18-1 over the past two seasons with Kingsbury in charge.  His offense led by Kyler Murray has been splashy and exciting – – at times.  However, overall success has not happened.  I think he will need a playoff appearance to survive into 2022.
  4. Matt LeFleur (Packers):  I put him here not because of his record in Green Bay; it is a good one.  His problem is Aaron Rodgers and Rodgers’ “happiness” with the team.  If that relationship becomes strained – or goes in the dumper entirely – LeFleur might find his job in jeopardy.
  5. Mike McCarthy (Cowboys):  The Cowboys were 6-10 last year – McCarthy’s first year in Dallas.  The team is highly regarded this year; they have plenty of offensive weapons – enough to win shoot-out games.  Can McCarthy and his staff piece together enough defense to be a playoff team?  I think that is what Jerry Jones expects…
  6. Matt Nagy (Bears):  In his first season in Chicago, he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and the NFC North title.  In the next two seasons, the Bears have been 8-8.  Nagy’s seat is not nearly as hot as some others on this list – – unless things come apart at the seams and the Bears finish at something like 6-11.
  7. Zac Taylor (Bengals):  I put him here even though I am confident he will be the coach in Cincy next  year.  The basis for his position here is that reports lead me to conclude that expectations for the Bengals are sky-high with the return of Joe Burrow and the maturing of the young roster – – notwithstanding a Bengals’ record of 6-25-1 over the past 2 seasons.  But the Bengals play in a very difficult division and are not going to meet sky-high expectations.  The reason Taylor will be back in Cincy in 2022 is that he has time and money left on his contract there and the Bengals notoriously do not like to pay coaches not to coach.
  8. Mike Zimmer (Vikings):  He has been the Vikes’ head coach for 7 seasons now; he has been in the playoffs 3 times; his coaching record in Minnesota is 64-47-1.  I put him here because there is no positive trend to his teams’ performances, and it may be that fans and ownership in Minnesota may want to “go in a different direction.

Before getting into specifics about the upcoming 2021 season, let me present an observation from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot from several months ago:

Looking back: The next NFL schedule won’t have more than three exhibition games per team. It’s incredible that before the league moved to 16 games in 1978, teams played six preseason dates. Six!”

Given the injury-phobia that is clearly exhibited by many teams/coaches around the league, try to imagine who would be on the field in six Exhibition Games in 2021.  But Molinaro is absolutely correct; there used to be 6 of those meaningless games prior to every season.  When – not if but when – the NFL and the NFLPA come to an agreement on how much more of a percentage of revenue needs to go to players to accept an 18th regular season game with 2 Bye Weeks in the regular season schedule for each team, I hope they cut the Exhibition Game schedule to one or two games at the most.

NFL players have an adage:

  • Father Time has never missed a tackle.

Before anyone leaps to inform me that Tom Brady is 44 years old and is still “going strong”, that adage is something fans and coaches need to keep in mind.   So, let me list here six players who just might feel Father Time’s presence as the season wears on.  Please note, all the players I have here are ones who have had laudatory careers; they are ones who I think might be coming close to entering the “next phase” of their lives:

  1. Calais Campbell: He is 35 years old and that is pushing it for a defensive lineman and pass rusher.
  2. Ezekiel Elliott:  He is not old – 26 years old to be specific.  However, he has had almost 1700 touches in his career to date; that is a lot of pounding on his body.
  3. Derrick Henry:  He is not old – 27 years old to be specific.  However, he has led the NFL in rushing attempts for each of the past two seasons carrying the ball a total of 681 times in those two seasons; that is a lot of pounding on his body too.
  4. AJ Green:  He is 33 years old and entering his 10th NFL season.  He may have lost a step because in 2020 he caught 47 passes for 523 yards in 16 games.  Just two seasons ago in 2019, he caught 46 passes for 694 yards in only 9 games.
  5. Ben Roethlisberger:  He is entering his 18th NFL season at age 39.  He appeared in 15 games last year, but his yards-per-completion  were the lowest of his career by a significant margin save for an injury season in 2019.
  6. Andrew Whitworth:  He will be 40 years old in early December when he and the Rams hope to be playing meaningful games.  Go to Google Images and check out a recent photo of Whitworth and you will understand why the term “gray-beard” is appropriate…

Before I leave the “Father Time” portion of this piece entirely, here is another item I found in a column by Bob Molinaro:

“Tidbit: Tom Brady is only the second quarterback to start an NFL conference championship game in three decades. The other: Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts.”

Now it is time for my predictions team-by-team in the 8 NFL Divisions.  I shall start in the AFC East:

  • Bills: I think they win this division handily with a 13-4 record.  As far as I can see, the only weakness I see is a mediocre running game.  Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs by themselves make for a potent pass offense; adding Emmanuel Sanders to the roster makes it even better.  The Bills’ defense played well in the final months of last season and should be strong again this year.  One cautionary note I would point out is that the Bills have an outspoken and hard-over contingent of ant-vax players.  Should that cause game difficulties, that problem might become a serious locker room issue.
  • Patriots:  I think the Pats finish second in this division at 10-7.  I am not ready to anoint Mac Jones as a star QB at the NFL level – and truth be told he does not have an outstanding set of pass-catchers with him – but I do believe that he can operate in the Josh McDaniel offensive milieu.
  • Dolphins:  I think the Fins come third here with a 9-8 record.  I know that others are much higher on the team than I am.  I worry about their QB situation.  The proclamation has been that Tua is their guy; then there have been persistent rumors that the team is talking with the Texans about trading for Deshaun Watson – should he ever be allowed on an NFL field again.  Those two things just do not go together, and I think the Dolphins will underperform the high expectations many folks have for this team in 2021.

[Aside:  Personally, I think Tua is not the answer at QB for an NFL team that aspires to serious playoff participation.  He just does not give me confidence when he drops back to pass.]

  • Jets:  I think the Jets will finish last in the division at 3-14.  The team has had a bunch of training camp injuries and the effect of those injuries on a thin roster to begin with will prevent the Jets from showing much improvement.  Zach Wilson shows a lot of promise, and many folks think he will be a star in the NFL for a decade or so.  Even if that is completely correct, it is not going to matter much in 2021; he will see lots of pressure behind an offensive line that was damaged by an injury to Mekhi Becton.

Moving on to the AFC North – this is going to be a very strong division in 2021 and the strength of the division opponents could make some of the strong teams appear to be less successful:

  • Ravens: I like the Ravens to win this division at 12-5.  The loss of RB, JK Dobbins for the season is a challenge for the Ravens’ offense, but I still think the rest of the roster is strong.  Lamar Jackson took a half-step back last year; I think he takes a full step ahead this year.  The Ravens are a balanced team being strong on offense, defense and special teams.
  • Browns:  I like the Browns to finish second in the division on a tiebreaker; the Browns will also go 12-5.  The schedule-maker has an interesting angle for the Browns and Ravens in late November and early December.  The Browns play at Baltimore, then get a BYE Week, then host Baltimore.  Over the same three weeks, the Ravens host the Browns, play at the Steelers and then at the Browns.  The Browns’ defense should be improved with the return of Greedy Williams to the defensive backfield.  The Browns also acquired Jadeveon Clowney; that may or may not be a blessing.  What the Browns need most is for that defensive unit to improve from last year; the offense was fine, but the defense was just okay.  The RB tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is as good as any in the league.
  • Steelers:  I think the Steelers go 9-8.  That prediction is based on the soundness of Ben Roethlisberger’s arm/elbow.  I said above that he may be on the precipice of his career but if his arm is healthy enough to make defenses worry about a pass more than 8 or 9 yards downfield, the Steelers can be a tough out because of the Steelers’ defense.  However, if Roethlisberger is ineffective or injured again and the Steelers have to turn to Mason Rudolph and/or Dwayne Haskins, my prediction of a 9-8 record should be wildly optimistic.  Remember, the Steelers started last year with an 11-0 record and finished at 12-4 when it became obvious in December that they could not stretch the field.  The Steelers running game should be better with the addition of first round pick, Najee Harris.
  • Bengals:  I think the Bengals finish at 5-12 which shows improvement but not excellence.  The schedule-maker was not kind to the Bengals back-loading the team schedule with a difficult final six weeks.  Over that stretch the Bengals host the Chargers, host the Niners, at the Broncos, host the Ravens, host the Chiefs, at the Browns.

Next up is the AFC South.  There are two good teams in this division and two pretty miserable teams too:

  • Titans:  I like the Titans to win the division at 11-6.  The Titans have a tough stretch on the schedule in October/November.  In that time, the Titans play home against the Bills, home against the Chiefs, at the Colts, at the Rams, home against the Saints.  Ryan Tannehill can now seek out Julio Jones AND AJ Brown on pass plays; presumably, that will offset the free-agency losses of Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis.  If the Titans improve their passing game, it will take some of the load – and the wear and tear – off Derrick Henry.
  • Colts:  I think the Colts finish second here at 9-8.  When the Colts acquired Carson Wentz to replace the retired Philip Rivers, I thought the Colts might take over this division but Wentz’ foot injury and his COVID quarantine make me wonder about his availability over a 17-game schedule.  The Colts’ defense is good; the team needs to be able to score points and to do that they need their QB to be ready and able.  The early part of the 2021 season could be “make or break” for the Colts.  Here are the first 5 weeks: host Seahawks, host Rams, at Titans, at Dolphins, at Ravens.  Ouch!
  • Jags:  I think the Jags finish third in the division at 3-14.  Don’t sneer, that is three times as many games as the Jags won in 2020.  I think Trevor Lawrence will play well – so long as he can stay uninjured behind a sub-standard offensive line; he may need to run for his life to stay healthy.  I do not expect miracles from Urban Meyer, but I also did not anticipate the screw-ups that have happened already under his regime – – the Tim Tebow distraction and the outrageous hiring of the strength coach just to name a couple.  The day after Christmas, NFL fans in NYC will get the scheduling equivalent of a lump of coal in their stockings.  On the 26th of December, the Jags travel to NYC to play the Jets.  At stake will likely be draft position for next April.
  • Texans:  I think the Texans will finish dead last in the division – and in the NFL – with a record of 2-15.  I think the Texans will split with the Jags in divisional games and will win a home game against the Jets in last November.  That prediction is based on my guess that Deshaun Watson never sees the field in 2021 as his criminal and civil actions related to sexual assault wend their way through the US legal system.  Without Watson, the Texans could challenge the Jags and/or Lions for the worst offense in the league.  The defensive unit is nothing to write home about either…

[Aside:  The legal issues surrounding Deshaun Watson are not of the Texans’ doing but the new regime there did not cover itself in glory during the offseason.  This is a team that needs to overcome the giving away of DeAndre Hopkins for a bag of donut holes and the defection of JJ Watt.  So, there is how the new guys approached their roster rebuild.  They traded to acquire Shaq Lawson from the Dolphins in exchange for linebacker Bernardrick McKinney.  They revamped Lawson’s contract converting salary to signing bonus to the tune of $7M.  That was in the Spring; in the past two weeks, they sent Lawson off to the Jets in exchange for a 6th round pick next year.  Is that how you rebuild a devastated roster?  The Texans’ Front Office reminds me of those glorious days when Danny Boy Snyder was a hands-on owner and he had Vinny Cerrato as his “consigliere”…]

Finally for the AFC, here is the AFC West:

  • Chiefs:  I think the Chiefs win this division comfortably at 14-3.  The schedule starts out rough for the Chiefs.  For the first 7 weeks they host the Browns, at the Ravens, host the Chargers, at the Eagles, host the Bills, at the Football Team, at the Titans.  I think the Chiefs will be 5-2 at that part of the season and then assert themselves in the mid-season and down the stretch.  The Chiefs are potent on offense because they are fast; they have a great QB and TE and they can run the football.  The offensive line is revamped with acquisitions via trade and free agency plus the return of a lineman who opted out of the 2020 season.
  • Chargers:  I think the Chargers will finish second here with a record of 10-7.  Justin Herbert is for real; it will be fun to see him go against Patrick Mahomes twice a year for the foreseeable future.  Free safety, Derwin James, was an All-Pro first team selection in his rookie year in 2018; he played 5 games in 2019 and missed all of the 2020 season.  If he is healthy, the Chargers’ defense just gets better.
  • Raiders:  I see the Raiders finishing in third place here with a 7-10 record.  There is just too much drama associated with this team and with the coach and with the GM and with the owner.  The final 7 games on their schedule are not easy.  They play at the Cowboys, host the Football Team, at the Chiefs, at the Browns, host the Broncos, at the Colts host the Chargers to end the season.
  • Broncos:  I think the Broncos finish last in the division with a 5-12 record.  That is going to get their coach fired.  In their continuing search for a quality starting QB – something they have been doing ever since Peyton Manning retired in 2015 – the Broncos acquired Teddy Bridgewater.  That is an improvement over the days when they were trotting folks like Paxton Lynch and/or Brock Osweiler out onto the field.  However, Teddy Bridgewater is not a franchise QB now or ever.

[Aside:  I ran across this stat somewhere but did not note where I got it.  According to whomever, the Broncos’ Teddy Bridgewater will be the 11th starting QB they have used since Manning’s retirement.  I think that is correctly referred to as a revolving door situation.]

So, here are the AFC playoff teams:

  • Chiefs – #1 seed, BYE week in the playoffs, home field in the playoffs
  • Bills – #2 seed
  • Ravens – #3 seed
  • Titans – #4 seed
  • Browns – first wildcard
  • Chargers – second wildcard
  • Patriots – final wildcard

            And now over the NFC, where I will begin in with the NFC West.  Top to bottom, this is the best division in the NFL; the team that finishes last here would likely win the NFC East.

  • Seahawks:  I think they will win the division with a 13-4 record.  The schedule-maker was kind to the Seahawks in December/January giving Seattle games against the Texans, Bears and Lions in the last five weeks.  There was far too much hyperbole and drama in the offseason abut Russell Wilson demanding to be traded.  That did not happen; I seriously doubt it was ever close to happening; he is back with the Seahawks and will lead them to the playoffs.
  • Niners:  I think they finish second in the division at 10-7.  They were injury-riddled in 2020 and the “return” of players like Nick Bosa and Dee Ford should improve the defense significantly.  Deebo Samuel only played 7 games for the Niners last year and his return will be a plus for the offense.  Jimmy Garoppolo and/or Trey Lance should be good enough to provide a winning season for the team.
  • Rams:  I think the Rams finish third in the division with a 10-7 record losing out on a tiebreaker to the Niners.  Matthew Stafford is a significant upgrade for the Rams at QB, but the team lost its defensive coordinator to a head coaching offer in the offseason.
  • Cardinals:  I think the Cardinals finish last in this division with a 9-8 record.  The Cardinals are a good team, but they are scheduled into the toughest division in the league.  As I mentioned above, I think this season will be one where people are looking for the Cards’ offense to take a big step forward with Kyler Murray at the controls.

Moving along to the NFC South:

  • Bucs:  I think the Bucs will win this division with a 14-3 record.  Somehow, the Bucs managed to win the Super Bowl last year and also to “keep the band together”. In fact, the Buds’ defense may be even better this year because they will get Vita Vey back from the injured list to play nose tackle.
  • Saints:  I think the Saints will take a stop back this year with the retirement of Drew Brees but there seems to be enough residual talent for the team to have a winning season at 10-7. Jameis Winston won the starting job in New Orleans; he has weapons around him, and he has Sean Payton as the offensive guru there.  This is a time for Winston to show that he can lead a team efficiently and minimize his abundant turnovers.
  • Panthers:  I see the Panthers climbing out of the division basement to finish third with a record of 6-11.  Matt Ruhle has had a couple of years to acquire “his guys” on the roster and I think that will start to pay off this year.  I am not nearly as sour on Sam Darnold as many other commentators seem to be; I think he was saddled with a mediocre roster and a goofy coaching staff in NYC.  The end of the schedule for the Panthers is not kind and gentle.  In their last 4 games they get a trip to play the Bills, home against the Bucs, away at the Saints and away at the Bucs.  Ouch!
  • Falcons:  I think the Falcons finish last here with a 5-12 record.  I know Julio Jones is “old” for a WR and that he had a burdensome contract but losing him from the offense will not help the Falcons’ cause at all.  I do have a cautionary sense here, however.  Last year, the Falcons were 4-12 but their point differential for the entire season was only minus-18 points.  There were 8-8 teams with comparable or worse point differentials.  If there is going to be a surprise team in the NFC, it just might be the Falcons.

Moving onto the NFC North:

  • Packers:  I like the Packers to win the division with a 13-4 record.  The Packers have won 13 games in each of the last two years; why not keep going on that sort of streak?  There was far too much offseason drama surrounding the team, its front office and Aaron Rodgers, but I think Rodgers can and will put that aside and lead the team to the division title.  An important game on the schedule is November 14 when the Seahawks come to Green Bay to play the Packers.  I think that game will have specific playoff tie-breaker significance.
  • Vikes:  I think the Vikes will finish a distant second in this division at 8-9.  From Halloween through the end of November, the Vikes’ schedule is difficult.  They are home against the Cowboys, at the Ravens, at the Chargers, home against the Packers and at the Niners.
  • Bears:  I think the Bears will finish third in the division at 6-11.  Then, the Bears will be looking for a new head coach in the offseason.  Maybe Justin Fields is their QB of the future, but Andy Dalton is their QB of the present and with what is around Dalton that is a ticket to mediocrity.
  • Lions:  I see the Lions trailing everyone in the division – – and in the NFC – – finishing with a 3-14 record.  When I look at the Lions’ roster, I find myself not looking for stars at various position; I am looking for people who I think are average players at their position.  Dan Campbell got a 6-year contract to sign on with the Lions; he may need that long – if he survives that long – to purge this roster and build a new one from scratch.

And the final division to consider is the NFC East.  I think there are some potentially good teams here, but none are outstanding.  All four teams have serious question marks going into the season; my selection as to the order of finish represents the teams with the fewest significant question marks attached to it.

  • Football Team:  I like the Football Team to win the division with a 10-7 record.  Ron Rivera has completely revamped the roster with young players who are fast and who seem to play intelligently.  That was never the case for this team more than 2 years ago.  The question mark here is the quarterback.  Is Ryan Fitzpatrick good enough at age 38 to play an entire season under center effectively?  He need not be a star; he needs only to be steady and effective.  I think he can get it done.  The Washington defense will keep them in almost any game; this is a defensive unit that could be one of the four or five best in the league this year.
  • Cowboys:  I think they finish second here with a 9-8 record.  There are 2 question marks attached to the Cowboys.  Is Dak Prescott ready to resume his level of competency after a major ankle injury last year and a mysterious sore shoulder that kept him out of all the Exhibition Games?  Is the Cowboys’ defense going to be able to keep opponents out of the end zone this year?  The team has a new defensive coordinator in Dan Quinn, and he has a good track record as a defensive coach…

[Aside:  I have NO inside information here, but I do have a hunch.  I think the Cowboys had a plan all along not to play Dak Prescott in any Exhibition Games and that Prescott went along with that plan.  Then, to keep reporters from harping on his “recovery status” they manufactured the “shoulder injury” as a distraction. I will be watching for his first 50-yard pass attempt to Cee Dee Lamb on Thursday night.   As I said, just a hunch…]

  • Giants:  I think the Giants finish third here with a 7-10 record.  The question marks surrounding this team involve the recovery status of Saquon Barkley, the effectiveness of the offensive line and whether Daniel Jones takes another positive step in terms of his development as a QB.  There were too many stories regarding fights among the Giants’ players at training camp.  This situation just could blow into smithereens.
  • Eagles:  I think the Eagles will trail the field here and finish at 5-12.  There are plenty of question marks here including who their QB is, the game management skills of their new head coach, the corps of wide receivers and the corps of linebackers.  I am not a “Jalen Hurts-hater”, but I am not sold on his ability to be a #1 QB in the NFL.  Joe Flacco’s days as the QB of a contending NFL team are in the past.  Gardner Minshew is Jalen Hurts with a better arm and worse legs.

So, here is my projected NFC playoff structure:

  • Bucs – #1 seed, BYE Week in the playoffs, home field in the playoffs
  • Seahawks/Packers – #2 seed, goes to the winner of the Nov 14 game
  • Seahawks/Packers – #3 seed, goes to the loser of the Nov 14 game
  • Football Team – #4 seed
  • Saints – first wildcard
  • Niners – second wildcard
  • Rams – final wildcard

            Finally, since I have foretold the outcome of the upcoming NFL season, I feel like refreshing myself with an adult beverage.  And that feeling leads me to close here with an observation by the legendary dipsomaniac, W. C. Fields:

“My illness is due to my doctor’s insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies.”

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