Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Axis Powers

  The Final Four is set, and this year Cinderella did not make it past the Sweet 16. No more Butler Bulldogs, they were unworthy of an invite to the dance. No more Shaka Smart or VCU, Indiana put a stop to them early in the tournament. Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, and Kansas are the main attractions this year, and they have all won the NCAA tournament before. The question is: Who Will Win? Anybody can win, it's March Madness Baby.

Big Blue vs Big Red
     Kentucky vs Louisville is a match-up between intrastate rivals. In recent years the rivalry has reached a new level, because Rick Pitino, formerly of Kentucky, is now the head coach of the Cardinals. This week, however, UK coach John Calipari had this to say about the rivalry, "Kentucky is the only real team in the Bluegrass State." Even the fans are getting involved, as a couple of dialysis patients went to blows following a heated argument about the upcoming game. The on-court battle today pits two teams with opposing styles: flashy, offensive Kentucky vs discipline, defensive Louisville. The cliche' says that "Defense wins championships," but in this case, I will go with my gut. Kentucky gets the win, 80-67.

Rock Chalk vs Buckeyes
     In the second match-up of the day, the Kansas Jayhawks will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Jayhawks, led by Thomas Robinson, and Tyshawn Taylor, come into this game hoping to ride their two-headed monster to another victory. The Buckeyes are led by Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Craft and projected top 5 selection in the NBA Draft Jared Sullinger. These two teams are pretty evenly matched, but I give Ohio State the edge, because of their smothering defense. Buckeyes for the win, 65-60.

Food for thought
When you're watching Kentucky, remember that despite his uni-brow, Anthony Davis can do this

P.S If you are wondering why your team is not in the final four, watch, and remember that there is only one avenue to success, dedication. So instead of asking why not them, ask how bad they really want it

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Madness

March Madness is finally here, and I've got all the winners.
Elite Eight: Kentucky, Baylor, Louisville, Florida, Syracuse, Ohio State, North Carolina, Kansas
Final Four: Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, North Carolina
National Championship: Kentucky vs Syracuse
NCAA Champion: Kentucky Wildcats

Friday, March 9, 2012

Where will Peyton Manning End Up?

   Peyton "The Free Agent"

     The time has finally come. The first and only 4-time NFL MVP is now an unrestricted free agent. No more questions about Andrew luck, the number one overall pick, or the Indianapolis Colts. The question now: Where will "The Sheriff" end up?

     Right now, it could be any of a wide range of teams. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, there were at least a dozen teams that contacted Manning's agent on the day of his release. In my opinion, there are three teams that have an edge over the others: The New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins, and the Washington Redskins.

     The team Peyton Manning ends up with will really say a lot about him as a man, because each of these teams offers a specific set of advantages that the others do not have. The New York Jets offer the opportunity to share a city with his brother, and the ultimate stage for a guy that wants attention. Personally, I do not see Peyton as an attention seeker, so I think that he will choose to take his talents elsewhere.

Peyton "The Sheriff"

    The Miami Dolphins give Peyton the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, a great place for a guy that likes to take the day off every once in awhile to relax or go out and party. Sounds like a good idea to most, but again, this does not fit the desires of Peyton, as he is a hardworking family man with a wife and a set of twins.

     The Washington Redskins give Peyton the opportunity to play against his brother twice a year. This sounds more like a job made for the Harbaugh brothers, but Peyton might like the idea as well, because he has been a fierce competitor all throughout his 14 year career.

Peyton "The Redskin"
     After it is all said and done, I believe Peyton Manning will end up playing for the Washington Redskins. Three major factors make it clear: The Redskins strong need at the quarterback position, their tendency to go after every big name free agent, and the opportunity for the Manning brothers to suit up against each other two times every year.

     Although other options would provide a better shot at the Super Bowl, I see Peyton Manning as a man who likes to take on challenges. Overcome four neck surgeries in 2 years to lead the Redskins through the Eli-dominated NFC East? Challenge Accepted.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bounty Gate: Effectively Injuring Integrity

   Ray Lewis tackling a 49er 

     Football is a contact sport. The main goal for a defender is to tackle the ball carrier. From youth leagues to the NFL, players are taught to put fear into the hearts of their opponents by hitting them with extreme force. However, this idea is taken too far at times, usually when people like James Harrison and Ndamukong Suh are on the field. Recently, a bigger controversy has been discovered. Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, formerly of the Saints and Redskins, has been accused of awarding money to players for 'taking out' other players.

Terrelle Pryor's helmet while at Ohio State

     When I first heard of these allegations, I figured there were two different ways Williams could have went about putting out these 'bounties'. The first, paying out money for big, legal hits. Rewarding players for playing by the rules is something that is done at all levels of the game. While playing youth football, I once won tickets to a Washington Redskins game for being the hardest hitting player in practice over the course of a week. In college football, Ohio State University is known for putting lots of stars on the helmets of their top players. In the NFL, ESPN segments such as 'Jacked Up' have been used to highlight the hardest hits of the week. As long as Gregg Williams has not told his players to go against the rules of the game, I don't see anything wrong with what he has been promoting.

Bronco's player being taken off field on stretcher

     On the other hand, this 'bounty program' could have been providing money for purposefully injuring other players. Football, while it is a game of violence, is also a game of integrity. Unnecessary head hunting or attacking knees goes against the unwritten rules of the game. Smaller guys go low because they are at a disadvantage. Offensive players that lower their heads are destined for helmet to helmet contact. Other than those specific cases, it is generally seen as a cheap shot to go for knees and helmets. Guys like Rodney Harrison are voted league's dirtiest player for their violent hitting styles. There is no room in the NFL for intentional breaking of rules, and if that is what Williams is promoting, he should be out of the league forever.

     Recently, the world has began a new safety initiative. From high school to the pros, concussion awareness signs are being posted. There is medical proof that head injuries lead to concussion syndromes and Lou Gehrig's Disease. Austin Collie suffered 3 concussions in 9 games in 2010-11, Johnny Knox broke his back trying to pick up a fumble this past season, and this is Gregg Williams' idea on an incentive program? Rodger Goodell needs to come down hard on the entire Saints Organization, look into Williams' years with the Redskins, and suspend him from the league indefinitely.