Bucco Brady

In the midst of all of the terrible news out there with the virus comes perhaps one of the biggest sports stories in local history. Tom Brady, one of the all-time great NFL stars, is about to become a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

Many of you no doubt wonder how I feel about this – and I’m kind of in the “meh” category about it. It might give Tampa Bay a shot at the playoffs this year – the year that Tampa will host Super Bowl LV – but we’re assuming a lot of things.

The biggest problem: will there be a 2020-2021 NFL season? Everyone is going on the assumption that life returns to normal in a few months. In that time, how many NFL players wind up getting the virus – even if they take the best of precautions? How bad will the economy be once it passes?

Secondly, Brady has never been a mobile quarterback – so unless the Bucs upgrade their offensive line, that’s a huge problem. Aging quarterbacks changing teams in the twilight of their careers rarely works out. It did for a few years when Joe Montana went to Kansas City – but not for Johnny Unitas when he played in San Diego, or when Joe Namath played with the Rams.

The Bucs are making the gamble because it will give the beleaguered franchize a buzz, but it should be noted that there is very little upside to this big move in the long term. Tom Brady might wind up being Tampa Bay’s trojan horse.

Reimagining The Draft

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today is the biggest off-season day in North American sports – the day that the NFL Draft commences. It’s a day where each franchise gets to wax philosophic and has enthusiasm for its future, because no matter who it is you pick – you can’t lose a game until September.

Crazy idea – and I have a few that careen in my brain from time to time. Wouldn’t drafts in the major pro sports be quicker if the draft-eligible players were randomly divided and awarded to teams, regardless of who the best player was perceived to be?

For example, say that there were 329 players who declared themselves eligible for the NFL Draft in a given year. Instead of each team having seven (or so) picks at finding their next superstar – what if the players who were draft-eligible were randomly and equally divided? For the purposes of this example, we have 329 players and 32 teams – so each team would get at least 10 players at random. Also for the purposes of this example, I would suggest that the remainder of nine players would go to the nine teams with the worst records, giving them an 11th pick.

To me, the draft is such a random thing anyways – because the 32 NFL teams don’t know what they get when they get it. Tom Brady was hidden deep in the 2000 NFL Draft – but a Ryan Leaf was one of the first picks and wound up being a total bust. It would seem to be a total time saver to do the allotment by a computer drawing, or by picking ping pong balls or something like that, and get everybody back to baseball, or the NBA or NHL playoff games.

Just my two cents.

Super After Thoughts

Well, another Super Bowl game is in the can – and it was another unique albeit not all that artistic of an affair. The Patriots defeated the Rams 13-3 to claim a sixth NFL championship for Tom Brady to close out the 2010’s decade of Super Bowls.

It’s a shame that a lot of fans don’t appreciate Brady for what he’s done – and I wonder if there will ever be a quarterback who plays in the NFL to do what he has. I get why people hate him, for sure – but I was telling friends when the game ended that I thought the Patriots and what they’ve done the past two decades stands alone as one of the great achievements in American sports.

The Yankees won five straight titles from 1949 to 1953 – but back in a time before MLB had a draft that could equally distribute prospects out to every team, which they didn’t have until 1965. The Celtics won a string of NBA championships in the 1960’s – but there were only a few NBA teams most of that time. UCLA won the men’s college basketball title for a slew of years, back when only conference champions played in the NCAA tournament most of that stretch. Put any of those teams in the social media era of today, and yeah – I could get why they would hate on them.

Tom Brady deserves his due, and no matter what he does the rest of the way in his career, he’s the most renowned championship winning QB of all time. Maybe there’s someone out there right now who can win seven Super Bowls in the future, and maybe there isn’t. Until then, Brady deserves the mantle.

Mr. Brady Goes On Vacation (Maybe)

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The whole circus that has become the Deflategate scandal took a step closer to conclusion yesterday when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court denied to hear Tom Brady’s appeal. Unless Brady and his legal team take the matter to the Supreme Court, he will serve his four game suspension during the first four New England Patriots games of the 2016 regular season.

It was one of the stories where no one, not Roger Goodell, Tom Brady, or the NFL itself, came away looking good from it. I’m just glad it’s over with, or at least almost over with. The reputations of Goodell and Brady took the most critical hits, in my opinion, even with “justice being served” if you believe the NFL propaganda here.

Funny how the league turned a blind eye when bounties existed in the NFL prior to the New Orleans Saints scandal, and turned a blind eye to football deflating when other QB’s other than Mr. Brady were doing such things. It seems that the higher the profile a team or player has, the higher the standard they are judged by.

It shouldn’t be that way. If you break the rules, you pay the price, no matter who you are.

 

2016 Predictions!

baby-new-year-2016

For those of you that have started following this blog in 2015 (and thank you so much for doing so), I have this thing I do every year, either on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day where I give predictions for the year ahead. Right now, I’m on a bit of a hot streak, having nailed at least one prediction in 2014 (Seattle over Denver in the Super Bowl that year), and again in 2015 (Mayweather over Pacquiao in the big prizefight of the year).

So here we go with predictions in 10 “areas” for the coming year.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Some of you are not going to like this first one, but not even his crazy commentary at times will be able to stop Donald Trump’s ascent to the President, as he easily beats a politically weakened Hillary Clinton in the fall and becomes the 45th US President. A weaker economy and ongoing terrorist acts pave the way for the Donald on his march to DC.

ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN: Much as was the case in 2008, there will be a brief but deep panic over the US economy that plays a big role into the coming elections. Stock markets will tumble a bit, unemployment figures will sharply rise by year’s end with a lot of people worried about what a Trump presidency will mean to them.

CUBS WIN IT ALL: The biggest sports story of the year is that the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Yankees in five games, spawning off massive celebrations at Wrigley Field. It’ll be their first World title since 1908, with Joe Maddon a unanimous choice for Manager of the Year honors.

SUDDEN DEATH AT THE SUPER BOWL: The New England Patriots shock the world by upsetting the heavily favored Arizona Cardinals (who themselves upset Carolina in Charlotte for the NFC title two weeks prior) 41-38 in overtime to win Super Bowl 50. The Patriots trailed the Cardinals 38-17 in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady leads the great comeback in what will be regarded as the greatest Super Bowl of all time.

BRADY RETIRES, (SO DOES GOODELL), AND BECOMES A BROADCASTER: A few weeks after the game, Tom Brady decides to retire on top, becoming an analyst for ESPN on Monday Night Football with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden.

At the NFL Draft, cameras catch Roger Goodell and a woman (who’s later revealed to be the widow of a former NFL player) in a spirited exchange over the ongoing concussions issue, with Goodell being dismissive of the issue not knowing cameras were running.

A noted second-tier broadcaster of NFL games retires, much like Howard Cosell stopped doing boxing in 1982, citing concerns for the well being of NFL athletes and that the league isn’t doing enough to protect players regarding concussions.

REALITY FADING: With American Idol leaving the air this year, two CBS staples, Survivor and Big Brother, also announce that their series will be ending by the end 2020, with BB making plans for their 20th season in 2018 to be their farewell.

THE NEXT BIG THING: Melissa McCarthy of Mike And Molly fame becomes a rapidly rising media mogul, launching a daily hour long talk show that becomes an instant hit while also drawing continued criticism of “selling out” the overweight community which proves to be a bit more hype than real.

WILD, WACKY WEATHER: The unusual weather pattern of 2015/16 continues, with areas of Texas through the Carolinas getting more snow than what the Midwest normally gets. Hurricane season will be another yawner, as 2015 was.

OTHER SPORTS PREDICTIONS: Alabama beats Oklahoma to win the national championship, while the Warriors beat Cleveland in four straight to repeat as NBA champs. Chicago again reigns on the ice, beating the Florida Panthers to win the Stanley Cup. Ronda Rousey easily beats Holly Holm in their much anticipated UFC rematch by submission in less than 90 seconds. The US dominates the 2016 Olympics in Rio, with Brazil finishing third in medals behind Russia for their best Olympic Games ever. In soccer, England wins the 2016 European championships by stunning heavily favored Spain.

JUST ONE MORE THING: A woman wins the 2016 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in November.

Happy New Year!

Grid Musings

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A lot of football on my mind today…

The Bucs were beaten by New Orleans yesterday, 24-17. While the Tampa Bay franchise has rebounded nicely, winning more this season then they did in 2013 and 2014 combined, they are not a playoff team yet. While they still have a mathematical chance, I think the fans who got all excited that they’ve improved so rapidly need perspective. I have no doubt they will get there now, they just need a skill player or two to complement Jameis Winston.

Leonard Johnson, the ex-Buc from my alma mater of Largo High School, fared well in his New England Patriot debut as they bested Houston’s Texans 27-6. Johnson could be a part of NFL history if the Patriots win it all this year, as no coach or quarterback has ever won five Super Bowls. That’s something Bill Belichick and Tom Brady might be able to pull off come playoff time. If they beat a undefeated Carolina team to do it, that would make the feat that much more impressive, cheating allegations be damned.

Glad to see Derrick Henry of the University of Alabama take the Heisman Trophy this season with great games to cap the season against Auburn and Florida. (No, I didn’t watch the ESPN show. A waste of time to watch a 90 minute show for a 10 second announcement.)

It’s not uncommon to see Henry carry the ball 40 times in a single game, something rare in this day and age where coaches try to get the ball to as many as possible. Like the great running backs at the pro and college levels, the more you give Derrick the ball, the more likely he’ll bust that big play for the Crimson Tide.

This reminds me of sportswriters who frequently asked USC and later Bucs coach John McKay about why he gave the ball to his great halfbacks so often. McKay quipped back that the ball wasn’t very heavy, and the running backs (at least back then anyway) didn’t belong to a union. Hah!

Football Is The New Boxing

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

In many ways, it was not a good series of days for the NFL this Thanksgiving weekend past. The games played on the 12th week of play were for the most part entertaining, but it’s getting clearer that the league has serious issues.

First, the concussion issue is a continued pain in their side, and it should be. Findings were released the day before Thanksgiving that NFL legend Frank Gifford suffered from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) that’s being found in more recently retired players. Gifford was famously the target of Chuck Bednarik in a 1960 NFL game where a vicious tackle by the Philadelphia Eagle injured Gifford, who didn’t resume playing for the Giants until 1962.

While the NFL is constantly improving what they call its “concussion protocol,” it’s clear from the retired players currently suffering that the league could have done more earlier. The question is: is it doing enough to protect players now?

There’s another issue the NFL has that is starting to remind me of professional prizefighting: the officiating, and how it seems to have gotten worse in recent years.

Namely, I speak of the recent Denver Broncos 30-24 win in overtime against New England’s Patriots, though there were other games were the crews look like they ate too much weekend turkey. Watching the game on NBC, it seemed like there was something Al Michaels or Cris Collinsworth wanted to say, but didn’t have the gumption to say.

It seemed to me that the calls against New England were way out of proportion to the calls against Denver, and that the Broncos always seemed to get close calls in their favor while Patriot players had to have been murdered to get a Broncos penalty.

Even the usually calm Tom Brady (who I called in a tweet Johnathan E. from the 1975 version of Rollerball) was seen a few times jawing with the officiating crew, pleading for better results a few times. Revenge for the whole Deflategate fiasco, I wondered, as Skip Bayless did on ESPN this morning?

I’ve been watching NFL games and seeking a better understanding of them since I was seven years old in 1978. (Other kids were reading nursery rhymes, I was reading the NFL Record and Fact Book.) When you have broadcasters like Jim Nantz saying on the air (as he did yesterday) that there’s an ambiguity about what a legal NFL catch is, and what a catch is not, there are issues.

The question is, will the league do anything about all of this, or will it continue to bury its head in the sand, saying this is all just muse for our entertainment?

Everybody Loses

The verdict came down for Tom Brady today: a four game suspension commencing with the start of the 2015 season.  The New England Patriots were fined $1,000,000 and will forfeit two draft picks in the next two NFL drafts.

It left me furious and conflicted, for reasons I laid out last week, and it left me with the impression that no one will come out looking great after all of this.  Not Tom Brady, not Roger Goodell, not the NFL, not sports in general.

Mr. Brady’s legacy was secure before he got caught in this scheme to deflate footballs, which he wasn’t alone in the history of the NFL in ever doing.  But because he refused to answer questions, or to cooperate in an investigation into his actions that OTHERS have also done, he got punished, much like Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints did a few years back.

I’m not saying Tom Brady is innocent in this, far from it.  Like I said last week, the NFL, instead of looking at the core issues of why teams put bounties out to injure players (to win games, duh!) or deflate footballs insure that these villains have one face.

Roger Goodell, after all, has a tidiness urge.

Number 12 of the New England Patriots gave up his integrity and possibly a road paved in gold to Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame to get an unneeded edge in an effort to get into his sixth Super Bowl.  That’s tragic and laughable at the same time.  He has stained his game, just like the juiced up home run hitting baseball players did the past two decades.

Pete Rose was a pariah to baseball for over a quarter century because he bet on his baseball team and used his knowledge of the game to make bets, a “crime” for which he’s finally getting back on his feet for, landing a FOX analyst gig.  Tom Brady gets four games for deflating a football.  He should have gotten more games, and he should have been suspended for the Super Bowl which he wound up winning in a fluke of a finish.

Sometimes (and only sometimes) there is no justice in the world, and as long as Roger Goodell is the NFL commissioner, those injustices will outweigh the justice.

Big Game 49

I hear they're playing some football game tonight..
I hear they’re playing some football game tonight..

A few hours from when I type this, the 49th Super Bowl will be played in the Phoenix area between New England’s Patriots and Seattle’s Seahawks.

I like the Patriots to win the game 29-20, and I think Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has a big day against the much heralded Seattle defense.

I also think Bill Belichick might retire in the off-season, maybe Tom Brady as well. Heck, John Elway retired at 38, so why not Brady a year earlier, going out on top?

Funny how we’ve never had a Super Bowl go to overtime as of this one. Wanna be around to catch the first one to go extra. THAT would be neat.