Ok, so I know this was a couple of days ago, but I really need to go back and touch on the debacle that was the Toledo @ Syracuse game from Saturday. This post probably has to do more with me getting it off my chest than anything else, so bear with me. Toledo comes into 'Cuse and are in a dogfight, clinging to a 27-23 lead with less than 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Syracuse comes down and quarterback Ryan Nassib hits his receiver in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to take a 29-27 lead. Here's where things get weird. Orange kicker Ross Krautman goes to kick the extra point to make it a 3-point game with 2 minutes left, and misses. This leaves Toledo with a chance to drive the field and kick a field goal for the win, right? Wrong. The official on the side of the upright where the ball was hooked was either lazy or had money on the game because he barely glances up at the ball to see where it actually goes! But that's why we have replay, to avoid obvious human errors. So the officiating crew does their due diligence and takes a second, third, and fourth look at it so they get it right and escape embarrassment. But to the surprise of all things logical, the officials determine that the ball DID go through the uprights! For the life of me I can't understand this. Why on earth would you go to the replay if you're not willing to change to call on the field?!? Hey, if you're not going to change a blatant missed call, they just continue the game and screw the replay! Above all else, don't stand there and watch the same replay as all the viewers and come back out 'sticking to your guns' when everyone else's eyes is telling them something completely different. Why does this matter you may ask? (Here's the root of my problem..) Vegas put the line for this game at Toledo getting 2 points! Toledo answered back after the officials ruled the score 30-27 and ended up trying the game at 30-30 on the last play in regulation, when in reality the score should have been 30-29, Toledo wins, and the Toledo bet hits!!! Instead, Toledo doesn't win, but loses in overtime on a field goal 33-30, and the Toledo spread of receiving 2 points loses by 1!! Now, a pretty good Toledo teams slips to 1-3 as oppose to 2-2, and the folks who bet Toledo (Ahh Hum, cough cough) get jerked. What's worse is the Big East came out and admitted their officiating crew was working for Buffalo Wild Wings and wanted to extend the game into overtime like those commercials (I read between the lines). "...we have concluded that the ruling on the field that the kick passed between the uprights was incorrect, and that the replay official made an error in failing to reverse that ruling. In reviewing the video, we have determined that the angle from behind the kicking team shows conclusively that the ball passes outside the right upright." You think? What other angle were those zebras looking at? Grrrr...this means there's only one thing left to do...hammer the Toledo @ Temple line :) Good Day.
The Buffalo Bills have gone from 'VOID' to unavoidable. I've already excepted before I even begin that trying to explain to you what it was like sitting in the second row in Buffalo on Sunday as the Bills upset the New England Patriots is an impossible task. The most creative or descriptive words could never come close to giving that atmosphere the justice it deserves as the Bills came back from a 21-0 deficit against a Patriots squad that has beaten Buffalo twice a year, every year since 2004. After the week 1 thrashing of Kansas City, I came on this blog to praise my lovable losing Bills for giving us an early season bright spot because I really wasn't sure if there would be many more like it, and how as a Bills fan we must enjoy those smaller scale doses of success to keep us going. 2 weeks later the Bills are one of the only teams in the NFL with a 3-0 record, and that single serving dose of success has gone from a tablespoon (Chiefs) to chugging from the bottle (Pats). Finally, its Buffalo staging late game heroics instead of late game collapses. I need to splash cold water on my face to remind myself that football games in October will matter as oppose to the riveting future draft pick conversations that traditionally take place around Halloween between Bills fans. Instead, we can talk about how our quarterback who was a 7th round draft pick from 2005 ranks in the top 10 among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating and touchdowns. Or we can talk about how our Running Back Fred Jackson who wasn't perceived as worthy enough to be one of the 200 plus draft picks coming out of college now ranks in the top 5 among NFL running backs in yards and touchdowns. You know that stud receiver Stevie Johnson? Yeah, we fished that dude out of the 7th round as well with the orphan-like 224th pick. You can now find him ranked in the top 10 among NFL receivers in receptions and touchdowns after 3 weeks of football. Buffalo hasn't had three offensive threats at the QB, wide receiver and running back positions since Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed. Now, this new breed of Bills is galaxies away from the level of success those golden-era Bills teams achieved, but the fact that we have some sort of blocks to build with is exciting for Buffalo fans. It's very early in the year and I'm not naïve enough to think that Buffalo is on the verge of going '72 Dolphins on anyone, after all, I was here in 2008 when Buffalo started 4-0 and proceeded to lose 9 of the next 12. The difference between the two teams is that this one has guts. On Sunday against the Patriots the Bills had less passing yards, less rushing yards, more penalties, a worse 3rd down conversion rate, and were down by more points than they averaged in 2010....AND WON! That's guts. And I can't contain my excitement in saying that I was there. The last time the Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots, George W. Bush was still in office...in his first term! I was in high school, and the Bills finished 6-10. Today is a new day. Soon as the game was over the grounds crew members came right on the field and lowered the goal post in fear that rabid Buffalo fans would storm the field and 'wobble-wobble-shake-it-shake-it' down. They know their audience. Bills cornerback Drayton Florence, whose pick-6 off Brady broke a 4th quarter tie, ran up to one of those spirit fingers guys after the game and took his gigantic Bills flag and sprinted with it across the field with great pride as if it were it was his own family crest...for Buffalo Bills fans, that's partly true. The remaining 14 weeks are uncertain, but the last 3 weeks are. 3-0.
This is a classic photo snapped by a friend who saw us on the tube. That's me all the way to the right rocking the Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas jersey (#34), my brother to my right (happy Bday), and my other buddy rocking mutton chops whose actually a Giants fan but doing a really good job bringing the noise and adapting to this home crowd enviornment.
The NBA has officially cancelled its 43 preseason games, along with indefinitely postponing team training camps. Damn. It's really happening. Without a doubt I knew it was coming, but to actually have to rip up my New York Knicks/Boston Celtics preseason ticket that I had anticipated is just a shame. Right now we have the NFL, college football, and the baseball season winding down to half distract us from this mess, but a time will come when (if they don't fix this) we will all be very frustrated with The Association. I'm very aware of the pressing issues such as how to divide the league revenue, salary cap structure, and the length of guaranteed contracts, so it's not like they're beefing over what uniforms to wear, but at the same time all the parties involved need to understand that if this lockouts does in fact cut deep into the season like it did in 1998/99, you're giving back a huge percentage of ground the league worked so hard to make up this past decade. The NBA was as hot as it's ever been. Yes, as hot as the Celtics/Lakers days, and as hot as Jordan's 1990's. The young rising stars that have risen to the elite level such as LeBron, Dwight, DRose, CP3, Melo, Duranchula, Amare, and Blake Griffin had the NBA as the main ingredient for sports talk fodder last winter. The lockout's ingredient is just water that can only damper the fire that was burning hot. Surely Jordan's retirement had something to do with it, but after the league came back after missing 50 games the last time 'round, the NBA had already lost so much momentum in the hearts and minds of its fans. Attendance dropped continuously the following 3 seasons after the lockout, along with season tickets and television ratings. It took the Shaq/Kobe 3-peat and the emergence of LeBron James to really get the league back on the track where it was before the league locked out for 204 days. I believe there's enough star power in the league at this point whereas a lockout on the shorter scale won't hurt the NBA too much, but they higher ups need to take notes from the NFL and make for damn sure they don't miss any 'real' games. You start missing those regular season games and you'll begin hearing the screeching frustration from casual fans, morph into a numb annoyance bordering on detachment. For the love of the game, please figure this thing out before November 1st so we're not picking up the pieces instead of riding a wave.
Michael Jordan self-promotion update: It hasn't even been a week and a half since the last time I poked fun at MJ for being MJ, but as long as he keeps feeding me, I'll keep eating it up like hungry-hungry-hippo's. I feel like I need to preface this one more time because it seems like every time I say something in jest about Mike I'll inevitably receive an email saying "how could you..." If you love basketball, you love Mike. Plain and simple. I just find it funny that Mike feels the need to remind us of his greatness when we'll do it freely for him. But Jordan can do whatever he wants etc etc...Ok, now that that's said, MJ's new golf bag may be the best 'Mike being Mike' moment since he told his kids in front of a few thousand people that he feels bad for them for having such a tough act to follow. The golf bag, as you can clearly see, has 6 gigantic championship rings to represent his real-life 6 gigantic championship rings. The mere size and 3-demensions of the stitching has subtle written all over it, right? And don't let the rings make you overlook that solo Jordan sneaker just chilling at the base of the bag. It look so lonely down there. Where did all its friends go? I ask that because once upon a time Jordan actually used a golf bag that had every pair of Jordan shoes stitched into his bag with an oversized patented Jordan 'jump-man' symbol directly in the center. Good God (or as Jordan would call it, Good Mike). I may go back on what I said a few sentences ago that Jordan is reminding us of how great he is...he may be reminding himself just the same. Either way, yet again, thanks for the reminder.
I know I just wrote something about the Floyd Mayweather Jr./Victor Ortiz fight on Saturday night, but I absolutely had to post this still shot of Larry Merchant's face during his post-fight interview with Pretty Boy Floyd. This split second flash was taken when Mayweather accused Merchant of never giving him a "fair shake". Now I have no idea of the past history between the two, but I think these bug-eyes manage to say it all.
Money Mayweather is still the champ, and I'm still confused. The conclusion of Saturday night's prize fight had to be the strangest thing to happen in a boxing ring since Mike Tyson succeeded at gnawing off the ear of Evander Holyfield as if he was a member of the Donner party (google it). For those who didn't see the 4th and final round of the Floyd Mayweather/Victor Ortiz fight, don't bother trying to listen to a verbal explanation from a third party. It was truly a must 'see it to believe it' moment. There Victor Ortiz was in the middle of the ring apologizing to Mayweather for throwing a head-butt moments earlier, the ref is distracted (yes, the ref wasn't looking because he was still occupied with making sure the judges docked Ortiz on their scorecards), and Mayweather was the only one remembering he's wearing boxing gloves and is supposed to be punching the other guy in his face. And that's what he did. After watching it a dozen times I have to admit it was a bit bush league, but at the end of the day he didn't break one rule. And I'll take that stance a bit further and put 99% of blame on Ortiz because he had already apologized to Mayweather literally 30 seconds before. So he's trying to over apologize, for what? Dude you're not trying to win this guy over, you're trying to get over by winning! Ortiz actually leaned in and gave Mayweather a kiss the first time he apologized! Was he just happy to be rubbing shoulders with Mayweather? (And by rubbing shoulders I mean getting his brain shook together like a can of soda you plant for an un-suspecting opener). The whole thing just left a weird taste in my mouth. Things got even weirder after the knockout when during the post-fight interview Mayweather's patience ran out on 80-year old Larry Merchant who, between us, was struggling to get words out and seemed more confused than 80-year old people normally do. To make a long story short, Mayweather's final comments went something to the tune of: "HBO needs to fire you, you don't know sh*t about boxing, you aint sh*t." Again, don't know if we've seen a more classic boxing quote since Tyson. If Pacquiao isn't next, Mayweather and Ortiz owe us a rematch on the house.
The Chicago Bears are lucky that their prized middle linebacker, Brian Urlacher, has the kind of resolve that only the best professionals in the world have, and that's being able to play under incredible emotional distress. I personally can't envision having to bury my mother one day and then turn around only to play a football game with the kind of emotion and intensity that's not only expected but required. We've seen the greatest athletes compartmentalize personal matters and thrive in competition such as Bret Favre going bonkers against Oakland in 2003 the day after putting his father to rest, or Kobe Bryant flying from a courthouse in Colorado on rape charges only to put 40 points on triple team defenses. Yes, the Bears would have lost their emotional leader and backbone of a Chicago defense who seems like he's been rocking that 'C' on his helmet forever, but emotion and vocal leader aside, this dude flat out gets it done between the white lines. Just how much does he bring to the table? Try a team leading 125 tackles last season. To put it in perspective, the next highest tackle count in Chicago was Lance Briggs with 89. Urlacher is a roaming lightning rod who lead his team in fumble recoveries last season, and this past Sunday picked up right where he left off. Not only did he scoop the pill and take it to the house for a touchdown in the 30-12 route of Atlanta, but he balanced the books by snatching an interception too. Since 2008 the Bears are under .500 when #54 isn't in the lineup, compared to the .620 winning percentage when he suits up...still don't know if it will be enough to contain a Saints offense in New Orleans with 0-2 staring them in the face though, but much respect to Brian Urlacher regardless.
Here are 5 picks I'm feeling this weekend, no promises. San Diego @ New England: OVER 53.5 Green Bay @ Carolina: Packers giving 10. Seattle @ Pittsburgh: Steelers giving 14. Baltimore @ Tennessee: Ravens giving 6. Dallas @ San Francisco: Dallas giving 3.
I was sent this video by one of my former college teammates who slapped it on my Facebook wall this past week, thought I'd share it with you. The video is a promotion for the new NBA2K video game with the premise being 'Who is the greatest team of all time?' My buddy's purpose of sending me the video wasn't to check out the game (I'm not much of a gamer) but rather to continue our on-running jokes poking fun at Michael Jordan and how over the top he always is when talking about Michael Jordan. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know I always find it funny and sometimes painful how he'll publically refer to himself and his Bulls. Now I'm no fool, its MJ, he's earned the right to say whatever he pleases, but the kicker is that we'll say it for him if he doesn't say it himself first. So to construct a commercial staring MJ about who's the best NBA team ever...It's almost as if Mike wrote, directed, and produced it himself (not sure he'd agree to do it if it was any other way).
P.S. Oh yea, right in the begining when MJ says its a "dumb question" to ask who's the greatest player of all time...It's because he knows, that we know, it's you know who.
(The following may or may not be biased...) Who could have guessed that after 28 teams in the NFL had played their season openers on Sunday, the most lopsided victory would go to the 4-point underdog Buffalo Bills as they dismantled the Kansas City Chiefs in front of 75 thousand Chief fans at Arrowhead Stadium, 41-7. Don't act like you saw that blitzkrieg coming. I bet Buffalo to win and I didn't expect half of that lashing. And how could you? The Bills have lost 7 of their last 10 season openers, started last season 0-8, and have the longest playoff drought in the NFL (1999). Meanwhile, Kansas City was the NFL's breakout team in 2010 winning 10 games and taking the AFC West crown. But Sunday, the 2010 season seemed galaxies away. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick showed exactly why the Bills brass passed on Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder this past spring in the NFL draft. The Irishman from Harvard threw for over 200 yards, a league-high 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and an NFL leading quarterback rating of 133.0. Right from the coin toss Fitzpatrick looked like he belonged out there. In the pocket he looked loose and confident tossing 2 first quarter touchdowns. This may seem relatively normal to other teams that have sustained success at the QB position, but for a Buffalo team that in all of the first quarters combined last season scored only 40 points, this is very special. I know, I know it's only 1 game. Believe me, I know. As a Bills fan I've been let down time and time again that I've trained myself to enjoy small moments instead of worrying about the big picture such as a Super Bowl run. Green Bay's week 1 win doesn't taste as good as it does to the folks in Western New York on Monday, and that's a fact. When you've been wandering in the proverbial playoff desert for the past 11 years, then you'll understand how good that hope and optimism taste on your dry pallet. And until the Bills are mathematically eliminated from the 2011 playoff picture I'll continue to bill-ieve in Fitzpatrick, the beefed up D-line, Fred Jackson and the running game, our young receiving core, and the new/old uniforms that make me want to flex. Go Bills.
My patience for Plaxico Burress is now completely gone. I was hoping after he was released from prison, he'd have a new 'Vick-like' sense of awareness or maturity, but after reading his quotes that have been released from his latest interview with Mens Journal, it's obvious to me that Plax just doesn't get it. Let's go through one of many idiotic quotes that were reported by ESPN on Friday, and I'll try to remain under control. The following is a classic quote from Plax directed at Giants coach Tom Coughlin: "After my situation happened, I turned on the TV, and the first words out his mouth was 'sad and disappointing', I'm like, forget support -- how about some concern? I did just have a bullet in my leg. And then I sat in his office, and he pushed back his chair and goes, 'I'm glad you didn't kill anybody!' Man, we're paid too much to be treated like kids. He doesn't realize that we're grown men and actually have kids of our own." OK, where do I even begin...First of all, Coughlin only said your situation was 'sad and disappointing' because you were a multi-million dollar athlete that was spoiled rotten rich while you pretended to act like your back was against the wall and actually needed to carry a LOADED GUN WITH THE SAFETY OFF in public. And Plax has the nerve to get frustrated with Coughlin for saying "I'm glad you didn't kill anybody." Did Plaxico think that statement didn't have validity? Dude, you're rolling around drinking alcohol with a LOADED GUN WITH THE SAFETY OFF, you had accidently put a cap in your own damn self, and you don't think it's feasible that you could have accidently done the same thing to someone else?!?!? What Plax then follows that sentence up with is great: "Man, we're paid too much to be treated like kids. He doesn't realize that we're grown men and actually have kids of our own." At this point in the quote I fully understood what kind of mental midget we're dealing with. You don't want to be treated like a kid? Then please do us a favor and act like a man!! A coach once told me everyone doesn't deserve to be treated the same, you earn how you're treated. Don't like how Coughlin treated you? You've earned it! You want Coughlin to treat you like you have kids of your own? THEN ACT LIKE YOU HAVE KIDS OF YOUR OWN!!! Don't know too many respectable parents who go to the club with a LOADED GUN WITH THE SAFETY OFF! (No, I won't stop driving that point in all caps). Plaxico can say he's changed, he can speak to the rookies about being more grounded, and he can hug his family 'high and tight' every day for the rest of time. I'm not sold. The dude is still deflecting blame to Tom Coughlin for not being more concerned or supportive. He's still coming at Eli Manning sideways for not writing him letters or coming to visit him in prison. He's still mad at Mayor Bloomberg for 'stacking charges' against him and getting a harsh sentence (As if because he was a famous athlete, rich, and a role model to kids everywhere that he would get a lighter sentence...it's Bloomberg's fault, right). And he's still trying to put fans in their place who 'hated' on him and his situation. Even though he's saying some of the cookie-cutter things to get back in the public's good graces, I still smell that stench of arrogance mixed with ignorance coming off the page of Plaxico's quotes. I doubt that being back in the spotlight with a new multimillion dollar contract will help Plaxico's perspective much, so I'm just throwing up my hands and accepting that this guy doesn't get it and never will.
It's finally been made official, Peyton Manning and his healing neck have been ruled a no-go this Sunday when the Colts play the Texans in Houston. To say that this is bad news for Indianapolis is like saying an asteroid was bad news for the dinosaurs. It's nearly as obvious, but the Colts may stand even less of a chance. Yes, the Colts are losing the orchestrator of an offense that ranked number 1 in the NFL in passing yards last season, but I think that only explains half of Indy's problems come Sunday. If you ask me, Manning is as good as the rest of the Colts are bad. You saw how Vegas moved that line slowly but surely this past week, right? The line started at -2 with the Colts being the obvious underdog on the road in Houston, and has now moved to -9 since Manning was ruled out. While this is a direct credit to just how valuable Manning is to Indianapolis, it's also a testament to his lackluster supporting cast. In reality, Peyton Manning throwing the ball to his receivers is about the only thing the Colts do well. Defensively in 2010, they were 13th in the NFL at defending the pass. Not an elite ranking, but not terrible either. But when it came to stopping the run, they were 25th in the league giving up nearly 130 yards on the ground every single Sunday. What's even more discouraging for Jim Caldwell and his boys is that when it came to rushing the ball themselves, there were only three teams in the NFL that were worse off (Indy ranked 29th). So let's quickly recap the Indianapolis Colts: The offensive passing game is without its only quarterback, the running game barely exists, they can't stop the run on the other side of the ball, and they have an average pass defense that will try and smolder Matt Schaub's air assault that ranked 4th in the NFL in 2010. I don't think we need more analyzing to understand why Vegas has the Colts as a 9 point underdog for the first time since 2002. I think the wise guys know that the 4-time MVP wasn't the captain of some Armada poised to take over the AFC South, but instead the only life vest keeping a below average Colts team above water.
One of the raw forms of physical competition is finally flowing through our veins again in the form of college football. Although it's not the NFL (nothing is), I was finally able to again bask in the gridiron's glory. This season has been one unlike any other for me as I have just recently got my first 'real' job in the broadcasting field doing color commentary for the University of Albany's football program this fall, and basketball program this winter (pending me getting fired first). I've been extremely excited and keeping it to myself until I was finally able to get in the booth to officially claim it. Both programs have had tremendous success in their respective sports in recent years, so it's a privilege to be on board. Having never really followed the football team before, I've had to immerse myself in their season in order to be in a comfortable position of calling games on local radio and television. To say I've been impressed with the players and coaching staff would be an understatement. After seeing how the Great Danes practice and play, it's easy to understand how they've achieved a school record 5th consecutive winning season. Coach Bob Ford, who's been at the UAlbany helm for all 39 years of varsity football, has developed the program into a model of consistency. I'm still trying to figure out how I could live in the Capital Region and not be aware of Coach Ford's 247 career wins. Shame on me. Although UA lost its season opener to a powerful Colgate team on Saturday night (Colgate has a consensus 1st team All-American running back, while the team was picked 2nd in the Patriot league preseason rankings and also received votes in the FCS national coaches poll) in overtime 37-34, I saw so many positives for Albany moving forward. All 11 defensive starters are either Juniors or Seniors for the Great Danes, while an offense returns all of its top performers from 2010 and has the explosive capability to put up 28 points in a quarter like it did Saturday night. Since I'll be following the team closely, look for me to chime in from time to time and give you an update of the 2011 season! Go Danes.
I know Bill Belichick is often given credit for being a genius football coach, but his most recent idea may be his best yet. In an interview on Boston's sports radio station WEEI, Belichick suggested that the extra point after touchdowns should be done away with due to how easy it is for kickers, and how uninteresting it is compared to the rest of the football: "I don't think it is good for the game. Extra points, when you're up to the 99 percent range in extra points it's not a play. Let's move the ball back to the 15-20 yard line and not make it a tap in. Make them kick it. Same thing with the kickoff return, if you're just going to put the ball on the 20, put the ball on the 20." What an exciting and insightful idea coming from the guy who seems like the blandest thing since the extra point!! Now I don't necessarily agree with just placing the ball on the 20 yard line to start every drive, but adjusting the extra point idea hit me right over the head. Why not?! Extra points are so automatic that we basically use that time to run to the fridge and the bathroom anyway, right? Even if an extra point is missed I feel it somehow makes the score jaded because it's not a true representative of all the other things that happened on the field to get to that 'point'. It seems to me that the extra point has just kind of always been here, and we never question it because...it's always been here. That's no reason to keep it in the game. I mean for Gods sake, when were sending out Ochocinco and Doug Flutie to kick the extra point, we need to draw the line. I hate/love to squeeze in a Vince McMahon reference here, but removing the extra point may be the one thing the XFL did have right a few years back (Along with HeHateMe). Moving the ball back to the 15 or 20 yard line as Belichick suggested would probably be the best way to go about the change. By lowering the probability for an automatic point, you'll keep that part of the game interesting, matching the rest of football. I also think the more challenging kick will insight a slight increase in teams going for 2-point conversions too, which I have zero problem with. I'm sure there will be those traditionalists who will demand keeping the 7-yard extra point that I could kick myself, but I feel the larger population will agree with Bill Belichick that changing the rule makes an already great game even better.
Zach graduated from St Rose in 2010 with a degree in
communications. After graduating he covered the same program in which
he played, the st rose mens basketball team for one season before
being hired as an analyst for UAlbany's division 1 football and