Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

As bad as the on-going “bounty-gate” scandal has become, especially now with the release of the damning audio from the Saints locker room, I’m just not willing to act like it’s the worst thing that has ever happened in sports. I’m growing weary of the hypocrisy that “bounty-gate” has inspired.

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Peyton Manning is a Bronco. Bounty hunting is severely punished. And Tim Tebow takes Tebow-mania to the Big Apple. Just like that, in the span of only a few days, the very predictable NFL world has been turned inside-out.

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This has easily been the biggest sports decision ever made in Indiana’s capital city. But deciding to release Manning, who has had at least four “procedures” or surgeries on his neck in two years, has ramifications that loom far beyond the stately, retractable roof, downtown football stadium that Manning’s greatness helped build.

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While the nature of the game dictates that injuries will always happen, it is clearly out of bounds to deliberately do harm to another player with a so-called bounty payment as incentive.

That said bounties have a long, if undocumented, history in the NFL. But bounties have been implicitly tolerated for years because no one talked publicly about them. Bounties were always whispered, and speculated about, which meant the league and the commissioner never had to take action. In other words – boys have at it, but please don’t embarrass the game.

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This also isn’t about the money. Not really. Yes, there are 28 million reasons why the Indianapolis Colts need to think long and hard about whether to pay Manning the bonus he is due the first week of March. The clock is ticking on that. This is really more about honor and doing the right thing.
This is why in the end, it should come down to Peyton Manning truly understanding what the right thing to do is.

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I thought hard about one of sports most meaningful quotes as I watched the Indianapolis Colts improbable last second victory Thursday night over the Houston Texans. Stuck in my head was former New York Jets coach Herman Edwards’ unforgettable mantra: “you play to win the game.” Playing to win is the very essence of sports.

Two years ago, the Colts were on the verge of an undefeated regular season. But coaches and management opted to rest certain players so they would be healthy for the playoff run. As a result the Colts lost the last two games to finish the regular season 14 – 2. Indianapolis fans have never forgiven Colts’ management for not trying to win every game in 2009.

The Colts did win two playoff games and went to the Super Bowl, but they would lose a close hard fought game to the New Orleans Saints.

Many have come to believe that the Colts are still suffering from the karmic consequences of a season spoiling decision.

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I find myself torn by what’s become of Donovan McNabb, whose enigmatic career now appears to be on its last legs after being placed on waivers Thursday by the Minnesota Vikings. This is the third time in two years that a team has given up on him. It is not the way a former star quarterback wants to be remembered.

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With Sunday’s overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers, the Denver Broncos are now 5 – 1 this season with Tim Tebow leading the way and are now legitimately in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Perhaps victories will begin to quiet the skeptical team president who continues to have doubts about his quarterback.

Still, I hope John Elway will finally acknowledge what is becoming apparent – that something special is happening to the Denver Broncos now that Tim Tebow has taken the reigns.

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Football can be a brutal game. We expect the violence, and most of the time we even appreciate it. But even with football there is a line that should never be crossed.

The Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh, a player whose viciousness I’ve enjoyed from time to time, clearly crossed that line on Thanksgiving.

Ndomukong Suh, while getting up from a tackle, needlessly shoved the head of Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith into the turf, and then for good measure kick-stomped his arm. Watching the various replays, suggests that Suh did the deed on purpose hoping no one would see.

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It has been a charmed decade for the Indianapolis Colts, the NFL’s winningest team during that streatch, but fortunes can change in an instant. This is one of those times. The team that just a few short years ago won a Super Bowl and narrowly missed winning another, is now the worst team in the league. These days the Colts appear inept and literally defenseless.

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Anyone who believes the Super Bowl was a success in Big D, other than the newly crowned world champion Green Bay Packers, needs to think again and get a reality check. The big “show” that Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones hoped to stage could not have been more of a mess.

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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has a problem, a big one. What happened on the sideline last Sunday in the freezing cold of Chicago, as his Bears teammates struggled on the field, may forever taint Cutler’s career. I don’t think in all the years I have watched football that I have witnessed a player whose actions or better yet, inactions, were so grossly misunderstood.

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Coach worship is a virtual religion in this country. It’s a key pillar in our understanding and enjoyment of sports. The best example of coach worship might be the reverence we hold for the Green Bay Packer’s legendary head coach Vince Lombardi, who is perhaps football’s greatest coaching icon, and deservedly so. The Super Bowl trophy is named for Lombardi.

But rarely if ever do I read, watch or hear about real coaching excellence or genius when it comes to the assessment of minority coaches.

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If Roethlisberger makes it to the Super Bowl again, that will mean his playoff record balloons to a remarkable 10 – 2, one of the all-time best playoff records for a quarterback in NFL history. By comparison, Peyton Manning has a playoff record of 9 – 10 and only one Super Bowl victory.

If Pittsburgh wins the next two games, Roethlisberger will then match Tom Brady for Super Bowl wins with three. Big Ben will only be 29 years old this March, leaving lots of years left to win more Super Bowls and perhaps surpass Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. What will we think if Roethlisberger wins five or six Super Bowls by the time he retires? Where will he rank then in the hierarchy of great quarterbacks?

I think it means that this hulk of a passer, with a face that perhaps only his mother can love, will have to be considered one of the greatest “winners” to ever play the game, whether any of us likes it or not.

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Conventional wisdom mandated that New England’s heralded Tom Brady would easily outplay the Jets’ second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez. Conventional wisdom also had it that Bill Belichick could not possibly be out-coached by a guy who is now America’s most famous admirer of feet.

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