Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reed Talks but Walks into Camp Saving Face for Himself, Ravens

Reed Talks but Walks into Camp Saving Face for Himself, Ravens

Baltimore July 31, 2012

As training camp began last week for the Baltimore Ravens there was no buzz about who decided not to show up. All were expected and all showed unlike many places; most notably Jacksonville where star running back Maurice Jones-Drew was a no show due to an ongoing contract dispute. 

Throughout this off season there was talk that Ravens Safety Ed Reed would not show up for training camp until he was able to renegotiate his contract. Seemingly not a week went by without some chatter or comment from Reed. In early July Reed tweeted, "Tell the Bosses I'm Comfortable" with a photo of his son's bike and his "yard" work in a apparent message to the Ravens front office that he is financially stable without playing this season. In May, Reed said that he wasn't sure if he would play this season.

Reed is sure to be a first ballot Hall of Famer once his career is over and you'd be hard pressed to find someone in Ravens Nation who doesn't think he is one of if not the greatest safety of all time. But does he deserve a new contract? 

Reed is 33 years old and has had several injuries in recent years but when healthy he's the league's biggest defensive game changer. But one must consider if the reward outweighs the risk enough for the Ravens to award him a new contract? 

As former Falcons Coach Jerry Glanville once said, "NFL stands for Not For Long". The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg is a ruthless cash cow where players are routinely tossed aside faster than their 40 yard dash time.  Reed is great but there is no doubt that Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens brass are thinking that his greatness is in a state of decline. 

Though he maybe looking for it, any deal that Reed gets will not be a big payday. If the Ravens decide to give Mr. 'Reeeeeed' as he's called in Baltimore a new contract, it will be more of a thank you for your service contract than a superstar's mega payday. If Reed planned to use skipping mini-camp, holding out through training camp or even retiring as a bargaining chip to negotiate a new contract he waited at least two seasons too late; if not more. With the injuries he's suffered in recent years to his neck and knee and him now being an elder statesman in the NFL, Reed has no shot at landing a big time deal. Simply put #20 is played a 2012 game of black jack with a 2008 hand. The House wins. 

Its an unfortunate truth but, its still the truth. Reed is the latest in a long history of NFL greats who missed out on their big payday. When it comes to the "business" that is the NFL sentimental ties and lifetime achievements don't have a seat at the barganing table. I'm sure that these things ran through Reed's mind as he made his decision to report to camp on time a decision that ultimately saves face for he and the Ravens.

If Reed had decided to carry out his threat and didn't show which seems to be a pretty uneventful training camp for the Ravens would have been a media spectacle. Many of the Purple and Black Faithful would have ridiculed the team for not "showing Reed the money"; while others would have berated Reed for being greedy and not fulfilling his contract. Both of these viewpoints would have been valid in their own right.

 Reed showing up prevents the Ravens from making a decision that could have mirrored the Jaguars putting their star player Jone-Drew on the injured did not report list causing the organization to deal with disgruntled players, fans and a public black eye. Moreover, it prevents Reed from becoming a greedy villain in the world of sports and allows him to remain beloved in the hearts of all in Ravens Nation and maybe his next bargaining chip. 

Everyone wins! For now! Reed gets another attempt to prove he is worth more than his current salary, the Ravens get to keep him on the cheap, the fans get to see there beloved safety and everyone saves face! But this story is far from over and will continue to evolve with this upcoming season. Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NCAA Gets an A- for Penn State Penalties

NCAA Gets an A- for Penn State Penalties
Baltimore July 24, 2012

The NCAA brought down its version of fire and brimstone on Monday morning as they placed an unprecedented penalties against Penn State for its role in the worst scandal college sports has ever known. News of the NCAA's actions dominated the news cycle and transcended the world of sports sparking debates across the country. Did the NCAA get it right? Did they go too far? Did they not go far enough?

For years the NCAA has squandered opportunities to take actions against institutions that punished those directly involved or who were indirectly liable due to negligence for scandals; as their actions overwhelmingly impacted student athletes who had nothing to do with the misconduct. The NCAA's prior failures include; UMASS and Memphis vacating wins and serving postseason suspensions while John Calipari moved on to coach another team. Recent memory would lead most sports fans to USC receiving sanctions, lost scholarships, vacated wins and a bowl ban as new coach Lane Kiffin was entering and former coach Pete Caroll moved into his new role as head coach for the Seattle Seahawks without penalty.

In issuing a $60 million sanction, a four year postseason ban, scholarship reductions and vacating all wins back to 1998; the NCAA almost perfectly responded to the worse scandal in the history of American Sports. Moreover, the NCAA is going out of its way to not punish the student athletes by allowing Penn State players to keep their scholarships even if they decline to play football and allowing them to transfer without having to sit out. All of this of course will never will erase the pain this despicable tragedy caused the young people and families impacted but action was necessary and the NCAA's response was firmly appropriate. Finally the NCAA got it right!!! Well, almost...

Penn State University, Joe Paterno and most importantly Jerry Sandusky all share the blame and shame of this horrific tragedy. Now thanks to the NCAA they share the penalties. However, the NCAA fell short of receiving a perfect grade of A for its actions instead receiving a A- as they fell short in two areas.

College football season is right around the corner with training camps set to open up over the next few weeks. Penn State players who are lucky enough to find a school to add them to their squad this year will not be able to receive a scholarship as schools have already allotted their awards for this season. In its ruling that allows them to transfer without sitting out; the NCAA should have allowed other schools to increase their scholarships for one season to "take in" Penn State athletes who deserve and in many cases need those scholarships in order to attend school. 

$60 million dollars is no small sum of money in any corner of the world and I applaud the NCAA for having the fortitude to boldly go where no one had gone before in going after these funds. However, I believe the NCAA could have sent a clearer stronger message by also going after the pensions of coaches and officials whom were connected to the school and football program during the years in question. This would indeed have been uncharted territory but, would have been the right thing to do in standing against the historic wrongdoing that occurred and was blindly ignored at Penn State. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Superman's Kryptonite is Making a Decision

Superman's Kryptonite is Making a Decision
Baltimore July 22, 2012

Dwight Howard seems destined to start the 2012-2013 NBA Season in Orlando, wearing the only jersey he's ever worn and that is no one's fault but his own. The man known as "Superman" much to the she-grin of Shaq the original NBA Superman, seems to have met his Kryptonite. No it's not his atrocious free throw shooting, his slow developing post game nor his inability to take the Magic past the Celtics styling defense or Miami's high powered offense. Howard's Achilles heal is simply a decision, rather his inability to make one. 

Howard has no one to blame for his being stuck in NBA trade rumor purgatory but himself. Howard created his real life version of the movie "Groundhog Day" himself. Throughout this almost two year process Superman has waffled more than all the Republican presidential candidates combined. It all started of course with his initial trade demand during the lockout lengthened off-season. The NBA's Clark Kent and the Magic seemed to had patched things over by the All Star Break when Howard decided to opt into the last year of his contract. 

In reality however, that was far from the truth. By mid April word had spread that Howard asked that the Magic fire head coach Stan Van Gundy or else. Howard was soon shutdown for the rest of the season due to back problems; the season ended and the Magic cleaned house by firing Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith. Howard then demanded again that he be traded confusing many in the world of sports to why he would opt in and then demand to be shipped out of Disneyland. 

As the off-season began it looked as if Howard's wish would be granted as it seemed that a three team trade sending Howard to the Brooklyn Nets was eminent. First the Bobcats were interested in being the third party, then the Cavs and finally the Rockets. Though the trigger was reported to have been close to being pulled several times, it wasn't.  Close, but no cigar for Howard.

The Lakers having just acquired Steve Nash swooped into the rumor brigade this week but met the same fate as the Nets; no trade. Some say the deals won't go through because Howard is reluctant to sign an extension anywhere but in Brooklyn. Others say the Magic are in no rush to trade Howard right away and are content to ride out the remainder of the off-season and maybe even the upcoming season. I for one, hope this is true and that the Magic are not bluffing about bringing him back to start the season.

Howard was once a beloved figure not only in Orlando but throughout the basketball world thrusting to super stardom as a result of his all star weekend performances. His seemingly childish behavior during this ordeal has surely changed that. If Howard returns in his normal #12 Magic jersey to start the season he will not be seen as Superman but Lex Luthor and rightfully so. 

Sports fans and followers across the world ridiculed and continue to ridicule LeBron James for "The Decision." Well, at least LeBron made a decision albeit in the most self centered and tasteless of ways. Howard's flip flopping and inability to make a decision reeks more of the 'all about me the superstar' mindset that "The Decision" brought up that is despised by golden era NBA fans.

No matter where he ultimately ends up Howard can forget about the days where he was the league's poster child gentle giant for the near future. The man known as D12 will be booed night in and night out throughout the country including his home arena if that happens to be Orlando. Sports journalist will criticize his every step. The superhero has indeed become the villain and his fall from grace is totally self imposed. The decision to demand a trade, retract that demand, opt into the final year of contract only to demand a trade again was Howard and Howard's alone. 

In time Howard can work his way back into the good graces of the NBA world much like LeBron James has after repenting for "The Decision." But for now, I suggest that he seeks advice from LBJ on rebuilding one's image starting with hiring his publicist. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The In Your Dreams Team vs The Dream Team

The In Your Dreams Team vs The Dream Team
Baltimore July 19, 2012

A lot has been said about Kobe Bryant’s comments that the 2012 Olympic Basketball team could defeat the 1992 squad known to all as The Dream Team recently. Kobe’s comments set the sports world ablaze with chatter about if there was any validity to his opinion. Please! The answer is NO! Never! No way! Only in the imagination of Kobe or on some video game would this year’s team even be in the same league as The Dream Team. Sir Charles Barkley was spot on when he said that only Kobe, Durant and LeBron James would even have a chance to make The Dream Team.

Let me be clear about one thing. The Dream Team isn’t just the greatest basketball team ever assembled it’s the greatest sports team in the history of the Milky Way. Comparing it to any team is a sign of the utmost disrespect and shows how quickly we forget true greatness in the 24/7 sports world we now live in but, for the sake of argument we’ll take a closer look at the potential “matchup” starting with comparing the starting lineups.
The Dream Team                                 2012 Olympic Team                         
PG. Magic Johnson                               PG. Chris Paul               
SG. Michael Jordan                               SG. Kobe Bryant
SF. Larry Bird                                       SF. LeBron James
PF. Karl Malone                                   PF. Carmelo Anthony
C. David Robinson                                C. Tyson Chandler

In my opinion (and the opinion of most basketball fans) it’s clear to most that The Dream Team has a clear advantage at every position besides Small Forward. LeBron is in the prime of his career and Larry Bird was surely just a shadow of his former self in 1992. That being said Bird’s leadership and toughness more than make up for losing his battle with Father Time. Outside of LeBron over Bird The Dream Team has the advantage at every position.

Many may wish to debate selecting Magic over Chris Paul but, to me there is no debate. Yes Magic was 32 years old, recently retired and recently HIV Positive. He also however, was in great shape and coming off a dazzling All Star MVP Performance. Chris “CP3” Paul is a great player in his own right and is arguably the best point guard in the game today. I love his game and the charity work he does off the court but, numbers never lie and size matters. Magic is 6’9 and Chris Paul is 6’0. In basketball terms Paul would be a “mouse” in Magic’s “house” and would look more like C3PO than CP3.

Shooting Guard will require the least amount of energy as there is no debate. Who would you rather have? Michael Jordan in the height of “his airness” or Kobe at 33? MJ enough said.

The thought of comparison between the Power Forwards and Centers of these two teams is laughable. Karl “The Mailman” Malone and David “The Admiral” Robinson or Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler the choice is yours. That’s an easy one right? Malone and Robinson would physically impose their will on Anthony and Chandler without much resistance.

That’s 4 positions to 1 in favor of The Dream Team. That should be enough to end any insane talk about the current team having a chance in hell of beating The Dream Team on their worst day. Nevertheless, A look at the respective reserves drives the point home even further and really makes this year’s team look like “The In Your Dreams Team” thanks to one Kobe Bean Bryant.

The Dream Team Reserves                      2012 Olympic Team Reserves
PG. John Stockton                                   PG. Deron Williams
SG. Clyde Drexler                                    PG. Russell Westbrook
SF. Scottie Pippen                                   SF. Kevin Durant
SF. Chris Mullin                                      SF. James Harden
PF. Charles Barkley                                 SF. Andre Iguodala
PF. Christian Laettner                              PF. Kevin Love
C. Patrick Ewing                                       C. Anthony Davis

Barkley or Love? Stockton or Williams? Yeah Pippen or Durant may be cause for some discussion but not much. Ewing or Davis? Please spare me and show some respect for the game of basketball!

This discussion is absurd, asinine, ridiculous and most importantly disrespectful! The 2012 version of USA Basketball does not have the size, leadership, experience nor skill (yes I said it) to compete with The Dream Team. Kobe Bryant is the ultimate competitor and believes any team he’s on has the chance to win night in and night out. That arrogant swagger is part of what makes him great but he should watch his tongue and mind his thoughts the next time he has a inkling to say this team could even compete with The Dream Team.

The 2012 Olympic team is a very talented team with young megastars in their own right but, pound for pound, bucket for bucket the invincible immortal greatness that was The Dream Team would be too much for them to handle. The ants would meet the business end of the sledge hammer. Final score Dream Team 120 The In Your Dreams Team 95.