Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. It is difficult to believe that we are immersed in Super Bowl week. Football season draws to a close with the big game and soon we will begin to think about spring training. But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. There was a football game last weekend…the Pro Bowl. Now, before you start laughing that I used the word game instead of exhibition or even joke. What usually happens in Hawaii did not. I am not sure if it was because the teams were chosen differently or what, but whatever the reason…it worked. Derrick Johnson set the tone early by absolutely de-cleating his teammate Jamaal Charles. There were linemen blocking instead of leaning on defenders. There were QB’s being sacked with regularity. To be honest, I don’t remember watching a Pro Bowl game that was this competitive. Jerry Rice’s team won on a late TD and a successful two point conversion. The final score was 22 to 21. I really had no rooting interest, but it was good to see Deion Sanders lose. It was also fun to watch a game…
Check out this video...pads were popping.
I have been very straightforward in what I thought of the post game rant by Richard Sherman. After reading thoughts by Richard Sherman and reading about the hour long press conference on Tuesday, I must acknowledge that I have changed my perception of Mr. Sherman. Although I still think that what he said was wrong, I now think that he does as well. Here are a few points made by Sherman:
No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is. That’s not mine. It belongs to Irvin Himmel. Somebody tweeted it at me after the NFC Championship Game. If I could pass a lesson on to the kids it would be this: Don’t attack anybody. I shouldn’t have attacked Michael Crabtree the way I did. You don’t have to put anybody else down to make yourself bigger.
This stage is bigger than I thought it was. How much does America love football? My one little rant made it onto CNBC and CNN. I heard my name on The View. I got tweets in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Czech and Arabic. People identify with the struggle and the battle of a football game.
When to look away. I have always had a good sense of this, but there came a point in the aftermath of the NFC Championship game when I had to cut off the attention. The incident was so polarizing that you had to pick a side. You either hated it or you loved it. I looked at Twitter and I saw two guys having a conversation about me in Spanish; I was going to Google translate it, but I just decided to let it go.
I’m lucky to have detractors. You have to take a step back and understand that you’re playing a game and the people who say disparaging things online and on television are trying to take you off that game. I’ve had my fair share of controversial moments and backlash and critics, and I’ve learned not to take it personally. That’s the only way you can look at it. You have to accept it and not have a negative attitude. I appreciate them because they’re so passionate as fans.
There is more, but this was enough for me to know who Richard Sherman really is. If you would like to read the entire article it is a very good read:
What initially bothered me about the rant was the fact that I knew that Richard Sherman was better than that. There was no reason to attack Michael Crabtree to show that he is the best cornerback in the NFL today. I know how difficult it is to get into Stanford and knew that Sherman was better than what we saw. There is still something that I have a difficult time accepting.
Anonymity isn’t for me. Last season I went to the Super Bowl in New Orleans by myself, took a video crew to Bourbon Street and asked fans who they thought was the best lockdown corner in the game: Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis. Most of these football fans, who were dedicated enough to go to the Super Bowl, didn’t even know who I was. That’s unique to our sport—the helmets shield our identities. Look at Antrel Rolle, who had one of the best seasons in the NFL for a safety, and he didn’t even make the Pro Bowl until he became an alternate. There’s Alterraun Verner and Aqib Talib, who could really make a case to be first team All-Pro, but weren’t considered because they’re not the loudest players. You’re anonymous until you put yourself out there or show up in a big game. I did both.
Are these words right? Do fans overlook performance and only see the players that toot their own horn? If this is what Sherman and other players think, it is no wonder that Deion Sanders, TO and others have behaved as they did. I simply do not believe this to be true. I think of Ronnie Lott, Howie Long, Derrick Brooks, Dick Butkus and Joe Greene. Great players can be great and still play within the team concept. Has the game changed that much? For the maturity that Richard Sherman has shown this week, I don’t think he gets the part about beating your chest instead the chest of your teammates. I know that eventually players understand that the best part of playing is sharing the game with teammates. I hear former players say that what they miss most about playing is the locker-room and the camaraderie of their teammates. It is sad that this is only realized after they quit playing.
Richard Sherman had one more comment that I agree with. “The Super Bowl should showcase the best of the NFL, but that cannot happen in a blizzard. Who wants to watch QB’s fumble snaps and receivers slip and slide all over the place?” Of course, he does say that since this favors his team…to let it snow. Honestly, I have been back and forth on playing football in the weather. I must admit that it is brings back memories of old time football. You have to be tough to play in the harsh element of winter. But who am I kidding? If you play in the NFL, you are inherently tough. What I have sort of come to terms with is that teams that win and get home field advantage deserve to bring the game to their house. If that house happens to be cold and snow…so be it. The Super Bowl is something more. It is the celebration of a season. There is should be no home field advantage. The last game to determine the best team should be played on a neutral, field in good weather. Those are my thoughts…just curious what others think. The players that I have heard asked this question invariably say the game should be held inside or at least in good weather. I just listened to Randall Cobb say that he does not like cold weather….go figure.
BOB wrote a terrific blog on Tuesday about the NBA. In his blog he referenced a recent Harris poll ranking the various sports in the US sports. The NBA has fallen to a ranking of 6% while college basketball is down to 3%. I found it rather funny that the game that so many like to say is too slow (MLB) is sitting behind only the NFL. Granted…the NFL is 35% compared to 14% for professional baseball. But, baseball is still 2nd. Anyway, I digress…it seems to me that there is larger problem for basketball than what the NBA has become. For me, the one year rule for NCAA players is not working. Players head to the NBA before they are ready. Defense? Fundamentals? How do you get better in one year? I have watched one player come through Texas that was ready to leave after one year…Kevin Durant. Of course, how often does a KD come along? Two years at the college level seems to make much more sense to me. There are great teachers at the college level that can actually make a player better with another year. It is easier to teach a college player than a guy making a million bucks per. This would obviously improve the college game and might just bring a few eyes back to the sport. Hey, I know that there are serious problems with the NBA, but allowing college players a year to mature might at least be a start.
Do you remember Brian Stow? I am sure that most recognize this name as the Giant fan that was brutally beaten outside Dodger stadium a few years back. I read something very cool this week. The Giants 3rd base coach Tim Flannery presented a check for $96,000 to the Stow family. Apparently Flannery stays in touch with the Stow family and been playing gigs with his band (The Lunatic Fringe) to raise this money. Giant pitcher Jeremy Afeldt and former Will Clark helped the cause with amounts of $25,000 and $10,000 respectively. Flannery has also pledged that whatever money his bands recent album makes will go toward the family. Some people send their best wishes and others do something. This is a terrific example of folks taking care of their own. Very cool job…Mr.Flannery, Afeldt and Clark…well done!
I read something on Tuesday that I had to share. A North Carolina man (Eric Ferguson) was treated for a snake bite and was stunned when presented with a bill for $89,227. The guy was in the hospital for 18 hours and received four vial of snake venom ($81,000). A quick search on the internet located the anti-venom at a cost of $750 per vial. Because Mr. Ferguson had insurance, the bill was reduced to $20,227. The hospital (Lake Norman Regional Center) defended its prices, saying it has to charge prices higher than retail because of the various discounts it is required to give insurers. It sort of reminds me of the business raising prices in advance of a big sale. There is a huge problem in our country with medical costs. The problem is where to start? I can’t decide if it is the insurance companies or the medical industry that is more to blame. The problem is that both sides want to make their money and we are left to paying the bill. And they say the mortgage industry was messed up…
If you have a few minutes...check out the comments. There is story after story regarding billing at hospitals that is astounding:
Maybe we need to keep some of the anti venom on hand...
Here are a few other odds and ends that I found interesting…
Is Nolan Ryan headed to Houston? It appears that something is cooking with the Astros as Ryan was in town to discuss a possible job with the Astros. Hey…I am not so sure that he might not be able to still pitch. As an Astros fan, I am all for bringing Nolan on board!
Northwestern University football players want to start a union...hmmm. Of course they want money, right? Nope, they want their scholarships guaranteed. NU officials are not happy. To paraphrase, college football is about education. A union would suggest professionalism. You can fill in the punch line...
Her you are riding your motorcycle to work and BAM! Wow, does that suck.
Tom Curran said this week that the Patriots tried to sign Larry Fitzgerald before the beginning of this year. If they had succeeded, they might be playing instead of Denver. I am not sure that this makes Pats fans feel any better.
MLB has new hats for pitchers. The new hat is supposed to protect pitchers up to 90 MPH. The idea is great, but apparently the hat is not popular with pitchers. It is said that the hat is bulky and heavier than the regular hats worn by players. Would you wear this hat if you were a MLB pitcher? Brandon McCarthy has said he will not wear it.
Hockey goalies used to dislike the masks as too bulky as well. Maybe it will grown on them...
Inside the lid...
What’s your best photo bomb? I bet it can’t beat this one…
Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservation center in Wedza, Zimbabwe.
That’s all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
I remember how my Great Uncle Jerry would sit on the porch and whittle all day long. Once he whittled me a toy boat out of a larger toy boat I had. It was almost as good as the first one, except now it had bumpy whittle marks all over it. And no paint, because he had whittled off the paint.
"If you're a cowboy and you're dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine."
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…
Happy Saturday, All. In what I think will become a semi-regular part of the Sun Tzu Saturday Extravaganza, I am pleased to present the first edition of the Saturday Morning Face-Off. To start things off, I am taking a look at winter sports, both real and imagined. I look forward to the debate.
NHL versus NBA
For me, this is a no-brainer – I’ll take a hockey game any time over a basketball game, and to take that one step further, I will take the over the NBA. Consider that 9 teams have won all the NBA championships over the last 40 years. That is a staggering statistic. The average years between titles for teams not named the Lakers or Celtics is over 30! Half of the league has never even been in an NBA Final! As a fan, how do you continue to support a product when you have almost no chance of rooting for a championship season? Other things I don’t like about the NBA include…traveling & palming – not called. It takes 30 minutes to play the final 2 minutes of game clock. Officiating and officiating crews biases have a huge impact on outcome. Individual players are more important than team play.
So the NHL is a faster game with more continuous action, the refs, while imperfect, are tolerable and usually equally bad for both teams, stars are important but team play decides champions, teams can emerge each season and challenge for a title. (In the NBA, you can name the pool of potential champions of about 4 teams with great reliability). Aside from their absurd labor issues, the NHL is a better game.
Pro Bowl versus NBA All-Star Game
Which All-Star game is the worst? A touch football game or a playground basketball game where defense is outlawed? The Pro Bowl was bad and the NBA game is this weekend. I think the NBA game is slightly better because we can all enjoy a beautiful passing sequence and the skill that is on display. The NFL guys just want to be in Hawaii and cash their bonus checks.
Banana Joe versus Any Other Breed of Dog
The Westminster Dog Show picked an obscure breed of dog - an affenpinscher - to win this year’s best in show. I think this dog might be better off in some of the ugly dog show. I would prefer a more distinguished breed like that of my dog, a Cavalier King Charles or my previous breed a Keeshond. How about the ol’ reliable German Shepard? What’s your breed of choice? And while on the subject, there is only ONE movie of merit on the topic…”Best in Show.” If you haven’t seen it, now is the time.
SI Swimsuit Issue Vs. ESPN Body Issue
The 2013 SI Swimsuit Issue hit the stands this week with a whole new level of titillation on display. The question is that is the ESPN Body Issue a better sports “body” magazine than SI’s Swimsuit? The Body Issue does not pretend to be something other than the celebration of the Body Athletic. It also balances out the male form with the female athlete. From a purely sports prospective, I think I appreciate ESPN’s The Magazine Body Issue over the SI Swimsuit Issue…although it is hard to argue with Kate Upton.
Argo versus Lincoln
The Academy Awards are just a couple of weeks away and I thought we should take a quick look at the top picks for movie of the year – Argo and Lincoln. I have seen all of the top candidates for MOY and I think the Academy has their hands full with this year’s crop of movies. I loved Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln – you really felt like you were in his presence. On the other hand, Argo was a compelling story that strikes a cord very much like Zero Dark Thirty but does it with a little more style. Both movies were brilliant but I think I have to pick Argo as my favorite for MOY.
When the Los Angeles Rams took a flier on wide receiver Drew Hill in the 12th round of the 1979 draft, they knew they were getting a 5'9" player with excellent speed.
It was also a long shot that he'd make the team, having spent much of his time at Georgia Tech University blocking for running back Eddie Lee Ivory.
Ivory was the Green Bay Packers first-round draft pick that year. Offensive linemen Kent Hill and Roy Simmons were the only other Tech offensive players drafted that year.
Kent Hill happened to be the Rams first-round selection and would be Drew Hill's teammate his entire career except for the 1985 season.
Hill made the team as a kick returner. He took a return 98 yards for a score in his second season and led the league in returns in his third. He was rarely used as a receiver in his first three years, as the Rams leaned on veterans like Ron Jessie, Preston Dennard, and Bill Waddy.
Yet he did help the Rams reach their first ever Super Bowl as a rookie. After missing the entire 1983 year because of injury, Hill returned with luster.
Los Angeles finally used him more on offense, where he teamed with Pro Bowler Henry Ellard and Olympic sprint Gold Medalist Ron Brown to comprise of a very exciting receiving trio.
Though the Rams leaned on Hall of Fame halfback Eric Dickerson and his then-record 2,105 yards off a whopping 379 carries, Hill averaged an amazing 27.9 yards on 14 receptions. Brown averaged over 20 yards and Ellard averaged over 18 yards per catch as well that season.
Despite just 60 receptions in five years, Houston traded two draft picks to acquire Hill to help out Warren Moon, who was signed in 1984. Moon, a future Hall of Fame quarterback, came to the Oilers with new head coach Hugh Campbell and quickly bonded with Hill.
Moon and Campbell won five Grey Cups together with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Campbell won nine CFL titles total with the Eskimos.
Campbell was focused on stocking the defense in the draft. He drafted two players, Steve Tasker and Mike Golic, who went on to help other teams.
Hill caught 64 balls his first year as an Oiler, while gaining a career best 1,169 yards. The nine touchdown catches he had had year would be the second best total of his career. Campbell was fired before the season ended, replaced by Jerry Glanville.
Glanville began getting Moon and Hill players on offense by drafting wide receivers Haywood Jeffries, Ernest Givens and Curtis Duncan in the 1987 draft.
Kent Hill had come over from the Rams in 1986 to help Mike Munchak, Bruce Matthews, and Dean Steinkuhler form an excellent offensive line. Munchak and Matthews would later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Oilers reached the playoffs in 1987 for the first time since 1980. They would go to the playoffs every year until 1993. Though they lost in the first round for times and reached the second round just thrice, their "Run and Shoot" offense was prolific.
Though Hill weighed 170, he was the inside receiver for Houston. While he often would stretch the seam of defenses, he was tough enough to go over the middle and was a good blocker. He soon became the guy Moon could rely on most.
“Drew was a great receiver, one who knew the offense and was always in the right spot,” Moon said. “I always knew exactly where Drew would be. He had a low-key demeanor. He didn’t get upset. He was always cool under pressure.”
While the 1987 season is most noted for losing four games because of a players strike, Hill was still able to pile up 989 yards on 49 receptions. He then followed that up the next year with perhaps the finest season of his career.
While obtaining his first Pro Bowl nod, Hill set a career high mark of 10 touchdown catches while grabbing 72 passes for 1,141 yards. He got dinged up with injuries the next year, missing four starts, but still was able to gain 938 yards on 66 receptions and eight scores.
The 1990 season was his last Pro Bowl year after Hill caught 74 passes. He followed that up with a career best 90 receptions the next season despite being 35-years old. Hill also has a knack of making his fellow wide receivers better too.
His leadership and influence helped Jeffries, Givens, and Duncan all become Pro Bowl players as well. The quartet caught 315 passes as a group in the 1991 season. Hill and Jeffries had 190 by themselves. He left the Oilers after that year to back to his home state and join the Atlanta Falcons.
He was the Oilers leader in career receptions and receiving yards when he left. He still ranks fourth in receptions and second in receiving yards and touchdowns. Hill caught 94 balls in two tears with the Falcons before retiring after the 1993 season.
Though he was a humble man who shunned the spotlight, Hill had over 1,000 yards receiving in five of his seven years with Houston. His 15.6 yards per catch average shows his ability to get deep into a defense despite working through the heart of the defense most of the time.
While he was old school, just doing his job in a steady fashion that was as reliable as the sun rising and setting, Hill never made waves or wanted superfluous attention. Yet his 634 career receptions for 9,831 yards and 61 touchdowns show he was beyond spectacular.
Former teammates said he lived his last years an avid golfer who ran a business in the Atlanta area. Alonzo Highsmith saw Hill in December, saying Hill told him he was doing well. Yet he had two massive strokes Friday and passed away. News of his passing has slowly been trickling out at a low-key pace since.
Even in passing, Hill has found a way to temporarily avoid the spotlight. Yet now is the time for any fan anywhere, especially those blessed enough to actually get to watch him play, to take a moment of silence and appreciate the gridiron exploits of Drew Hill.
I'm coming to the slow realization that everyone is right about January being terrible. It seems that all I really want to do this month is sleep. I think bears have it right with the hibernation idea; or maybe I need to tweak my C-Pap.
What do you think shock-rocker and recent Rock Hall inductee Alice Cooper?
Speaking of Michigan, things seem to be getting sweeter for them. They got a new coach, Brady Hoke, even though the fans still seem really down about not getting Harbaugh for some reason. If you land a guy like Hoke who has turned around programs like Ball State and San Diego State, I figure you should be happy. If not I figure I know a few people who want him back.
Michigan was also able to lure away the Baltimore Raven's defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Mattison has been with Michigan before, most notbale during the 1996 season. He's got his work cut out for him to improve their defense. More impressive is that he'd be willing to leave the NFL for a down program in UofM. Maybe it's another sign that next season may be off in the NFL?
Speaking of which, I am coming off another .500 week of picking. I'm about as good as the Lions here. I am really hoping that the Steelers can beat the Jets and make the voices stop. In the words of my inner Wes Welker: I am hoping that Ben Roethlisberger can take advantage of a Jets team that may still be drunk with joy after beating the Pats. Now both defenses are good (happy Bart Scott?0, but I think i give the Steelers the been there before edge. Not only that, I know they'll act like it.
On the other side of the league, looks like another grudge match in the Bears-Pack series. I am hoping for a blizzard at Soldier Filed as that would just be classic. As of right now, the weatherman is calling for 20's with a chance of snow. Either way, I think the Packers offense beats out the Bears offense. Aaron Rodgers has too many weapons and someone got Jones catching the ball.
I'm jumping on the Steeler's-Packers super bowl train. This is a great match-up. Both teams have a great defense and great histories. I am going to call for a Packers win.
Well, the NHL picked it's captains for it's all star game and gave Nikolas Lidstrom and Eric Staal. The starters are still the guys voted in by fans, so that means we'll probably see Crosby...
But, I have to say the new system impresses me and I'll be tuning in to see how it goes. The captain system could be an interesting way to shake up all star games. I'd like to see the NBA try it and even baseball if they can get off the This one counts crap.
Which brings me to my next point: why do we still have an NFL pro bowl? Honestly, have any of you ever watched it? I used to watch the NFL QB Club Challenges when I was little, but I don't remember ever watching the game. It's just highly watered down football. It seems pointless to even invite a defense. Also, moving it to before the Super Bwol doesn't help. If anything, it means the few people that watch will be missing good players from two teams. I think the NFl should scrap it and just go with an all NFL first and second team.
Finally, Fan brought up a great point about Blake Griffin being a player that could bring some of the disillusioned back to the NBA fold. He's exciting and dunks, but he's also a bad ass. The only problem...
This guy gets it.
ESPN has fallen in love with Blake Griffin. They keep trying to compare him to Shawn Kemp and yelling about how he can dunk. Yeah. I know. But, he's also probably one of the most marketable players out there aside from Durant. Please go back to Bron and Kobe and leave Blake alone.
Which brings us to our word of the week: ESPN.
Adj. Something which is incredibly overplayed and overdramatized.
Up next on ESPN, completely unfounded speculation regarding the motives of Brett Favre returning to the NFL, followed by a six hour discussion comparing Favre with current Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Then we'll take you live to Brett Favre's home where we will watch him eat cheetos while watching television.
That's it for this week. I'm gonna try to get some sleep. Thanks as always for the read and any comments you leave along the way.