The Lottery Ticket

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I hope Marcus Paschal, the football head coach at my alma mater of Largo High School in Largo, Florida, doesn’t mind me sharing this photo with you.

He is one of only three players from my school to play in the NFL on a full-time basis. (Leonard Johnson and Dexter McCluster being the other two.) The numbers are probably similar in other sports, whether they be baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, what have you.

Very few make it in the world of sports. As the photo illustrates, a million kids play high school ball across the country, but roughly 150 of those players will be around to see their 4th season in the NFL.

Just as you can’t plan on winning the lottery, athletes have to realize that as much as they dream of winning a Super Bowl, the odds are definitely not with them.

Football On The YouTube

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If you miss football “the way it used to be” on TV, you’re in luck.

The NFL channel on YouTube has been releasing full games every week as of late, as aired by the original broadcasters, with commercials taken out. Some of these games go back as early as Super Bowl VI, which took place in January of 1972 on the CBS network.

If you have the means to download YouTube material onto your hard drive (for example, the Video Download Helper that you can use with the Firefox browser), it’s a great way to build a library of classic NFL action.

Who knows if the NFL will ever be great again, to coin a phrase heard so often in 2016. But these games show the legendary players and teams at their best.

Blowout In The Desert

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The Bucs got whipped like a government mule (as opposed to a mule not employed by the government), losing to the Arizona Cardinals 40-7 yesterday.

It’s bad the Bucs got beat that soundly, but Arizona’s no slouch. They were a game away from the Super Bowl last year before the Carolina Panthers blew them out, much the way the Cards beat Tampa yesterday. I’d rather see the Bucs lose bad early and learn from their errors as opposed to winning a bunch of games and then losing bad.

Does that make any sense? I don’t suppose it does. I had the Bucs going about .500 this season, then perhaps becoming an elite NFL team next year. They’re not there yet, but these are the kind of games that you learn from, and those kind of games are important, too.

Death To The Color Rush!

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When the Rams (then from St. Louis) played the Bucs last December, they looked like condiment bottles playing football.

I can’t be the only fan on the planet that hates these “Color Rush” uniforms that the Thursday Night NFL games use, can I?

(For that matter, remember when the NFL games were either Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, and Monday night? When will we get an NFL game every day of the week? It can’t be too far behind now.)

When the Bills and Jets played each other last year, they looked like human-shaped Christmas ornaments on a football field. When the Bucs and the then St. Louis Rams played (as I mentioned in the caption), they looked like human condiment bottles of mustard (the Rams) and ketchup (the Bucs).

Needless to say, I hope this is a short lived fad, because to me, this looks like a freak show. Now, if they livened up the helmet designs a bit, that would be a nice touch. But that’s just me.

Concussion Protocol, Or A Lack Thereof

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I watched the first NFL game of the 2016-17 season the other night, with Denver beating Carolina 21-20. Both teams played well, and I’d be shocked if both of team aren’t in the 12-team playoff field come January.

The one thing I noticed in the second half is that Cam Newton, the star Carolina quarterback who led the Panthers to the Super Bowl last season, was looking more and more unlike himself as the game progressed. He got into a shoving match with a Denver player trying to pump the crowd up in the first half, and should have been penalized for it in my view.

He was getting hit in the helmet by Denver rushers leading with their helmets on at least four occasions. The helmet-to-helmet contact should have been penalties on the Denver defense, but several such incidents went uncalled. Newton was looked at for possible back and ankle injuries, but kept playing through the barrage of battering he was getting.

After the game, he couldn’t remember the final drive that resulted in a missed field goal that would have given Carolina the win. That reminded me of an HBO fight back in the 1980’s I watched when a boxer named Marlon Starling got knocked out on a punch that didn’t land until after the bell for the end of a round had sounded. He then couldn’t recall being knocked out when interviewed after the fight. (Initially, it was ruled Starling had lost the 1988 fight, though the decision later became a no-contest, a ruling rarely used in the sport when something takes place beyond the control of the fighters.)

The NFL has a “concussion protocol” system in place so that players under the suspicion of being concussed during a game can be looked at. It was revealed after the game that no one bothered to look at Cam. Why? Because he’s a star player? In that case, doesn’t the protocol hinder better players and help protect the weaker gladiators? (It was revealed later on Friday that to physicians at the game, Newton didn’t show any symptoms of a concussion.)

I get football is a physical game, and a violent one at that. But it’s clear to me that the current system is very flawed. Thursday night was quite an example of the loopholes in the present scheme of things. The last and only death on an NFL field was when Chuck Hughes of the Detroit Lions died on October 24, 1971 of a heart attack in the middle of a game. I was a little over a month and a half old when that happened. I truly hope it’s not about to happen again.

By Authority Of The NFL

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ESPN turned NBC sportscaster Mike Tirico…

I’ve never been a big fan of Mike Tirico’s work, but I have to admit that a recent decision by the NFL regarding who broadcasts their games gave the Syracuse grad a lot of garden hose up his keister, without benefit of lubricant.

CBS and NBC are splitting the series of Thursday night games this season and next. CBS will simulcast the first five games with the NFL Network, then do three games on NFLN. The second half of the games goes to NBC, three strictly on NFLN, then the remaining five simulcast on NBC. If your local team has a game on NFLN only, it will be simulcast on a local station in your market. Got all of that?

Four months ago, Tirico, who had called Monday night games for ESPN going back to when they received the package from ABC, was hired by the Peacock to spell Al Michaels for the Thursday night games they had the rights to. Al turns 72 in November, and is actually older now than when Howard Cosell was terminated for ABC in 1985 at the age of 67.

It would make sense to lighten Al’s workload right? But no! (The author says in a Cosell impersonation.)  The NFL reportedly vetoed Tirico doing the TNF games with Cris “Turkey Neck” Collinsworth (that’s my nickname for him anyways, been calling him that since he was a Florida Gator back in the early 1980’s), and thus wants Brother Al doing the whole kit and caboodle, citing that CBS uses their “A” team of Jim Nantz (57 years old) and Phil Simms for their package.

Just one of those “jerky” things the NFL does, I guess. No wonder why some fans think they’ve become the “evil empire” these days.

Pauly’s DFS Tips

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I’ve been on a hot streak as of late picking DFS baseball teams on DraftKings. Thought I’d share my strategies. Why? It’ll make me better in the long run finding new ways to beat the field.

I use Rotowire’s MLB Optimizer to find the best lineup, usually re-consulting it about an hour before the first games. I use these when I play 50/50 games, where half the field places and makes money and the other half does not. Actually, on DraftKings, if a game has 25 winners, they’ll let some odd number play in the game like 53. Don’t know why they do that, but they do.

If you play free-roll tournaments, or tournaments where there’s a high first place prize, your picks are going to have to be ones the rest of the field doesn’t pick. Plus, you have to hope these rare picks have outstanding games. I use a “Big Pitchers, Big Boppers” theory here, where I look for hot pitchers and two or three hot hitters. Then for the rest of the lineup, I pick the players with the best value, again according to Rotowire.

Remember, there’s a lot more variance in baseball, where a team plays a minimum of 163 games, than there is in a 16 game NFL season. Even the best baseball drafters are going to have bad days.

Hope this helps you out.