Archive for December, 2010

I got an email Monday morning and it made me laugh and I completely agree with my friend who said this. He writes “every week, I read on your blog about all these elite quarterbacks: Brady, Manning, Rivers. Big Ben…why is he never mentioned in any rants Andrew? Broken foot, broken nose, a broken offensive line. Once again, the Ravens have the best D in the league – just like they have for several years. Big Ben is now 6-0 against them, 10 TD’s, 3 picks, with a 93 QB rating. Joe Flacco is 0-5 against Big Ben. P.S. If Tom Brady played behind the Steelers offensive line Andrew, he would only be married to a JC Penny catalogue model, not a supermodel.” I totally agree with this.

Maybe it’s because the Steelers win ugly like this. But to add to Big Ben’s credit, he’s doing it with one legitimate down field option. Tight ends are both hurt, Heinze Ward is shot, it’s a shaky offensive line and you can look at the numbers in total net yards this year, they’ve got a thousand less yards than the top teams like Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Diego. They run the football for about 110-120 yards a game and that tells you….that’s not Big Ben; he doesn’t have a great offensively line.

Sunday night, he breaks his nose, he has a semi broken foot, and he is just absolutely great. There is a quote in here from Isaac Reidman, who made a catch late – a back up, that Big Ben is playing with…a back up. He said “when you’re playing with a guy like this, you see him bleeding, he’s got a broken foot, he’s the kind of guy you want on your sideline and everybody rally’s around this guy”

After the game by the way, he was asked about the broken foot, he was asked about the Ravens and all the injuries. “Once the adrenaline starts going, I think that helps with a lot of things. So you know when you get out there, there should be no excuses; you just have to play the game. You’ve gotta give Baltimore a lot of credit, they are a hard fighting team and this rivalry is always a good one.”

Big Ben has played in 8 games since he’s come back, 6-2, 13 TD’s, 2000 yards, 95 QB rating, with one legitimate down field option. In 4 of the 8 games, the QB rating has been 97 or more. In 8 of the games, he’s only got 5 picks…again, with below average offensive support.

Look at Peyton Manning this year, where he’s had injuries, he has completely imploded! Peyton Manning has completely imploded this year especially over the last month with injuries. Well, who does Big Ben have? A 78 year old Heinze Ward, a blocker receiver, who now can’t separate? Beat up tight ends? Shaky offensive line? By the way, Mike Wallace isn’t a great receiver, he’s one of the league’s fastest receivers, but he’s not as good as Santonio Holmes. If Holmes had not been traded away, I’d take the Steelers to win the Superbowl.

It’s interesting because 99% of the time, what you love…I love as well. What you love, I love as well. Now, I don’t like these TCU’s and Boise State’s…but the truth is, you don’t either because the TV ratings show it. You don’t like watching them either. You say you like them because you’ve been manipulated by the media, you watch too many movies…so you say you like the underdog, but when they’re on you’ll never watch them. So the truth is, you really like watching the big boys too. You want to see Auburn/Oregon, not TCU vs. Boise State and you know it!

But the truth is, I agree with you (the fan base) on almost everything. The one thing I don’t is…I think Big Ben is going to go down – if he literally retired after this season, you can make an argument that he’s a hall of famer! Everything time he wins it’s the “well they got a great defense” argument. Well everyone has got something; Flacco has got a great defense. When Aaron Rogers’s defense is healthy…they are good. Brady has had great defenses…you’ve got get over this “Well he’s got a great defense” Listen, he can’t throw to his defense, his defense doesn’t block for him.

One of the things I really like about Big Ben – and Baltimore and Pittsburgh make each other look bad. I watched NFC football on Sunday, then I watched Baltimore/Pittsburgh Sunday night, those are very good teams that make themselves look bad because they are so physical and so intimidating. What Big Ben does – and I don’t think a QB in the history of the league has done this.

There was a moment, did you see at the end of the game, when Joe Flacco kinda flustered where he had to make a pass out onto the left flat, across his body and he skipped it? Earlier in the game – and he only went for about a yard. Big Ben made a play – which I don’t think anybody else in the league can make. He’s so big and so strong…he takes the ball (as a right handed QB you have to take a step back, turn to the right, cop throw, boom!) Big Ben just side arms it, 24 yards out to the right for about a yard and a half gain. I don’t think fans understand how big and how physical his instincts, his talent, throwing on the run, they just don’t show up on stats!

You can’t measure a lot of Big Bens’ stuff…that’s why it’s really unfair to Big Ben on these “elite QB” talks. With Tom Brady, you can measure everything he does well, because he doesn’t run out of the pocket, that’s not his thing. Big Ben does 4 or 5 things that he gets no credit for and unless you’ve played the game or you’re absolutely objective or with a former QB, they are all in awe of him.

Big Ben is the only guy I’ve ever seen who pump fakes with one hand. Eric Allen, the former Pro Bowler, was on the Colin Cowherd show once and he said “ In the history of the league, no QB has done a full pump fake with one arm, that’s why everyone buys into his pump fakes” Big Ben is really a unique athlete. He just never gets the credit for his stuff, because a lot of what he does, fantasy football fans don’t get points for.

Now, let’s not go crazy on Peyton Manning yet, he is the robot and does it at a different level intellectually than anybody else in the league. Big Ben as an athlete is remarkable! He’s the size of a defensive end, he is absolutely remarkable!


So I turned on the game last night, at about 7:45pm Eastern – and I gotta tell you something, I couldn’t turn it off! The Heat were up by 30 points and I was riveted! I couldn’t turn it off! The game and the commentary… for the record, Reggie Miller is so anti-Lebron, it’s comical! Dude, he’s not going to apologize. He did what he did, he gave a $ 5 million dollar cheque to kids, and he’s not apologizing to you Reggie. A buddy was texting me on my way to work this morning and was telling me how excited he was for last night’s game. He was so excited, that he turned on TNT – the network the game was on last night – an hour early and watched an hour episode of Bones, haha

I seriously haven’t rooted like that for a player since I was 8 years old. Angry, bitter, rust belt, and never evolved guy served a facial on whole grain bread, by Lebron James. The loud mouth guy at the bar got knocked out with one punch! It was just fantastic. For the record, here is what it sounded like when Lebron was introduced, this is a classic

Well, here’s my basic thought. When Lebron left, it was called “The Decision”; last night was the “Validation” Lebron James showed all of us, me included, why he left. He spent 7 years around those guys…they are quitters! Did you notice that? You kept chanting  that “Lebron quits” no, the “Cav’s quit” a quarter and a half into that basketball game. That’s all the fight they had in them.

How poorly did Cleveland come to the table – and I always say this, you can tell effort by defense. Cleveland allowed Miami to shoot + 50%, Lebron was around those guys for 7 years, he knew their character, he knew their flaws and weaknesses and last night, for the first time, he put them on display for the rest of us.

The Cav’s don’t lack talent, oh they do, but they really lack heart. I bet 90% of you were thinking the same thing I was, how in the world did Lebron James win 60 games with this team? 7 years in Cleveland…and that’s what they surrounded him with?  That’s it! Best player in the world, he goes to Miami, in 15minutes he’s got Bosh, Wade, Haslim and Miller, all taking pay cuts. 7 years in Cleveland, and that’s what they got him!

It felt like, to me, like a springboard for Miami, as in like they found themselves. You ever put a puzzle together? It’s Christmas, the holidays and you’ve got that puzzle on the coffee table. After an hour, you look at it and nothing comes to mind. Then you add like a piece or two and you go “oh there is the tree, oh there is the elf,oh I see what it is!”

Last night, “ohhh I see how good Miami can be” more than anything to me though, it was the validation “ohh, that’s why Lebron left” 7 years and those are the pieces Dan Gilbert, worth $400 million dollars, bought for him. By the way, Lebron after the game was asked if it was as emotionally draining as he thought it would be “I’m tired right now, I’m very very exhausted, I didn’t get much sleep last night and didn’t get much sleep today either, like how I usually do in my usual routine. But I’m glad that we played well as a team. We all showed up and to have two guys like this, out on the court also, make it a lot easier for myself to just go out there and play basketball and not worry about anything else.”

I thought it was great! Lebron smiled, it probably drove Cav fans crazy, the Cav players were joking and laughing with him, but Lebron James said – he says it right here, he talks about smiling through it and having fun and just being Lebron “…you know, I just tried to keep a clear head about it, it’s nothing personal for myself to these fans, it won’t be…ever. Like I said, 7 great years, I’ve got a lot of great memories from here, have the utmost respect for the fans here, because they came out every night I was here and they supported us and all we try to do as players is to try and give them back that same energy that they gave to us. So I understand the frustration, I understand that things could’ve been a little bit different this summer for both sides. But you know, I’m moving on, and I’m happy in the position that I am”

Good for you! No reason to apologize, you gave a $5 million dollar cheque, the single biggest individual donations in America this year to the Boys and Girls Club. No reason to apologize, nobody is perfect, you made a decision and last night the decision became the validation, dude you were right!!!

I got an email this morning – and this made me laugh “Andrew, before Lebron arrives, the Cav’s were awful and I was watching them. From his first game until his last one, every game became an event. I so happen to have a ticket for tonight’s game, when the Miami Heat & Lebron return to Cleveland. Not surprisingly, it’s my first and probably only game I’ll be attending this season. I plan to stand and to cheer Lebron, thanking him for 7 great seasons. I just hope I’m not the only one” Dude, do you wanna live to see tomorrow? Seriously? Because that won’t be the case, if you rep your Cav’s Lebron James jersey. You’ll for sure be the only one!

For small and unsuccessful people that don’t win anything big or never do anything big in their life – which basically sums up Cleveland sports, this is their season! This is Cleveland’s year. Cleveland is not a city that has had really big success. In turn, this is an absolute nightmare game for Miami. I don’t bet NBA games, but I get the Cavs at +6 1/2, it’s probably the NBA bet of the year.

It’s funny – I was listening to Lebron James – I thought this was a moment of real candor. Lebron James on returning to Cleveland, there is a key byte in what he said that athlete’s, psychologically don’t even like to say this word, but he said it and he acknowledged it, check out the quote and see if you can decipher what the word is “…it’s going to be very emotionally draining, I can tell already. It’s going to be fun but it will also be very emotionally draining just for myself to go back, it’s going to be difficult I think.”

Draining? Pro athletes don’t like to use that word. “I’m already getting drained on this game?” Listen, if you were going to go and perform – I don’t care if you’re a concert pianist or a standup comedian – and you know that you’re going to go a place where everybody hates you, I got news for you, they don’t hate the Heat…they hate Lebron!

You don’t hate Kobe; you hate the Lakers and that’s fine! Kobe knows that when he goes on the road, people hate the Lakers…but it’s not all about Kobe. They don’t like Artest either, this isn’t about Miami, this is totally about Lebron. I don’t care if you’re a standup comedian or a rockstar, it is draining emotionally before the event even starts… nobody wants to be hated in life.

Now the Lebron’s and Simon Cowell’s and Bill O’Reilly’s of this world love to play the villain and they play it very well. But that doesn’t mean that the moment you go into a snake pit, it’s not emotionally difficult to deal with. I mean, Chris Bosh, 2 days before tonight’s game, check out what Chris Bosh says. “I don’t think we know what to expect, but I’m sure it’s going to be something like we’ve never seen before. I’m sure a lot of people are going to come out and show their support for the Cav’s in their own kinda way” We don’t even know what to expect? This is 2 days before the game!

So, I mean, Cleveland’s whole season comes down to this and you know, just like your less successful brother-in-law, when you come into town for the holidays and he beats you at Golf and goes and tells all his friends, it’s a big deal. For you it’s like “well it’s a game of Golf” But for your brother-in-law, it’s a really big deal because he’s always played second fiddle to you.

This is Cleveland’s Superbowl, this is the Cavs’ season! They weren’t even paying attention Tuesday night when they got beat by Boston by 20. So you’ve got Miami, on back to back games, they get into Cleveland at like 3am. Every Cavalier player is totally vested in this game, while on the Miami squad, only one guy is, Lebron.

My prediction is that it’s going to be a wild event. My prediction is: Miami will never match Cleveland’s intensity and the Cavs – it will be there big W of the season. The franchise lost a star…they will crush Miami. In fact, I couldn’t believe this morning, I get 6 ½ points against the Heat and I don’t even bet on the NBA. But you get a Miami team that is beat up; get’s into town at 3am, with chemistry issues, players admitting that it’s draining.

We know the officials in basketball – and the stats show us for both NBA and college, that basketball is the one sport where there is absolutely no question – that the officials, they are human beings, and the crowd is right on top of the officials, So in big games, go look at the Lakers/Celtics Game 7, home teams get the edge and get the calls, they just do!

Duke basketball won the national championship last year, never lost on a neutral floor, never lost at home. Get them on the road…suddenly same players are struggling. Officials are going to lean towards Cleveland.

I’ll tell you something, it’s very easy to say – and a lot of people will say this “oh Andrew, if you watch tonight’s game; Lebron will rise to the occasion.” That’s never really been Lebron’s thing; to be honest with you, Lebron is a great talent but Kobe is a rise to the moment guy. Kobe hits the game winning shot. That’s not really Lebron’s thing, Lebron is just a transcendent talent.

I saw a column this morning, Jason Whitlock who I think is very interesting but I totally disagree with him here, he goes “I give up; this was going to be a column to plea for Lebron to apologize to Cleveland fans an apology in the hours before the game, but I give up. Lebron feels looks and sounds like a lost cause today. A millionaire celebrity incapable of reaching rock bottom in self reflection and in utter ounces of remorse, talent is the kind of abundance James is blessed with and it is now a curse. It seduces the owner into believing that his flaws are his strengths”

I completely disagree with him on that statement! I think Lebron is going to be fine. But I’ll tell you this, I was on MSN messenger last night – haven’t done that in the longest time – and these NBA die hard friends I have, were arguing with me because I am of the belief that Cleveland is going to absolutely run over the Heat. I think tonight is going to be as ugly as it gets. Cleveland on Tuesday night against the Celtics weren’t even paying attention.

The Miami players acknowledged “oh boy, this is going to be draining” I absolutely cannot wait for this game tonight! It really had this Vegas fight night feel to it, it absolutely does!

A hardy congratulation goes out to Joey Votto, on winning the NL MVP, by the way Derek Jeter’s 2010 salary was $22.6 million and Joey’s was $550,000. Think about this, Derek Jeter by the end of Spring Training made more money than Joey Votto did last season and Jeter is complaining along with his agents about the 3 year, $45 million dollar offer…. think about that, Jeter and his agent are complaining about that.

Joey Votto – think about this, Skate borders make more money than Joey Votto, Wedding Planners, in big cities like New York, Chicago, LA or Dallas make more than Joey Votto. Lawyers, a good sales guy, Bronson Arroyo makes 22x what Joey Votto did, his team mate Aaron Harrang makes 24x, Mike Lincoln makes 5x what Joey Votto did.

Derek Jeter makes like 46x what Joey Votto did, Votto is going to do very well in salary arbitration and it’s great! I mean, he deserves it. I’m looking at – and it is funny when you’re looking at Joey Votto’s salary and find out that he’s the 13th highest paid Cincinnati Red’s player.

It’s just incredible. Now they have guys like Scott Rolen, who is a veteran guy and Scott’s gonna make money because he’s been around for so long, but it’s just mind boggling that Joey is one of the lowest paid guys. He’s making Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey money. Good for Joey Votto, though he said he “cried” when he won, you honestly have to root for this guy.

I seriously had not even heard of Joey Votto halfway through this year. When a guy cares as much as Joey Votto did because he cried, you gotta like a guy like that. It was funny because I saw the interview on ESPN.

Earlier this season, I had some Cincinnati fans all worked up because I was like “Joey Votto? who is Joey Votto?” Well listen, I’m not paid to do these rants or to keep up with Cincinnati Reds baseball because they’ve virtually been irrelevant in the sport for like 20 years. Then you start watching Votto, and he hits as well at home as he did on the road – though Cincinnati is a hitter’s park

But when guys go out and say “I cried when I won the award” that is honestly unbelievable! You just don’t get that in sports anymore. So, good for Joey Votto, totally deserves it. He massively deserves a pay increase and for Derek Jeter – and I gotta tell you something.

It is unbelievable, listening and reading New York media – they have turned on Jeter! They have turned on Jeter. And, though I haven’t turned on him yet, I only suggested like 2 months ago that its absurd, in this economy, in a sport that is losing in attendance, losing in ratings, for a guy that is not flashy, doesn’t sell a ton of tickets outside of New York…they are offering him a lot.

Now, Baltimore could offer him big dough, but let’s face it, he’s not going there and they are irrelevant. Jeter would love for a big time team to go after him so he can meet the Yankee’s in the playoffs. But he’s going to sign with the Yankee’s; it’s going to get done.

But think about it, Jeter makes more money by the end of Spring Training than Joey Votto does in an entire season, as the MVP of the National League! Jeter never won an MVP. He won an All-Star game MVP; he won a World Series MVP, has never won an MVP during the regular season. I mean, All-Star MVP is basically just one at-bat and you win it. You hit a double with the bases loaded, you win it!

Let me start off by making a prediction. Leslie Frazier took over for Brad Childress a couple of Mondays ago; I’ll tell you this…Leslie Frazier is going to get that job permanently! He stood at the podium and owned the room, kinda looked and sounded like the part and is a very well respected individual. Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys…he’s going to get that job as well. Now both are respected, competent and very smart. Leslie Frazier, smart guy, well respected and Jason Garrett went to Princeton and is respected.

You know in life, sometimes good is bad and bad is good. The bad news for the Vikings and Cowboys is that they’re going to be good for the rest of the year because they have the coaches who are going to be their head coaches for the foreseeable future. Remember, with a collective bargaining agreement coming up, Zygi Wilf (who owns the Vikings) and Jerry Jones (who owns the Cowboys), they’re not going out and spending a fortune on a coach, we might not even have football next year! That’s why nobody is going to get a contract extension next year.

The bottom line is that they’d rather pay half to Leslie Frazer and Jason Garrett then what they would pay for Gruden or Cowher. So, I can tell you right now, Leslie Frazier is going to be the head coach of the Vikings, you can stop looking….he’s the guy.

In a league, looking for more African American candidates, he is overly qualified, extremely respected and on Mon, Nov 22, 2010, he owned the room. Leslie Frazier – your watching him and you’re like “oh yeah, that guy is gonna be a good head coach, he owned the room” and that’s the coach, now that’s the good news. Minnesota, you’ve got a coach, he’s good and he’s respected.

Here is the bad news; you’re going to win games this year…same for you Cowboy fans. Why is that bad news you ask? Because both the Vikings and Cowboys have found their coaches and they’re going to play inspired football and players are going to be playing for contracts and jobs. Here’s why it’s bad news…because generally speaking, nobody wants the #1 draft pick in the NFL anymore…EXCEPT THIS YEAR!

Andrew Luck, Stanford QB, is the first player since John Elway, where everybody in the league acknowledges “yeah, he’s gonna be super good in the NFL” Not an “Alex Smith gonna be super good in the NFL” type, but one who really has the praise of scouts from all 32 teams. He’s got a super high IQ, great work ethic, gigantic arm, extremely mobile, he is Elway from 25 years ago. By the way, they both are products of Stanford. Dad is in the NFL, has a great head coach in Jim Harbaugh. So the bad news for the Vikings and the Cowboys is – and the Vikings could desperately use a QB, you’re not getting that #1 pick and Andrew Luck is a home run, and I’m extremely fascinated by this story.

So I start looking at all the bad teams in the NFL – Dallas 3-8, Carolina 1-10, Buffalo 2-9, Cinncy 2-9, Detroit 2-9. Let’s eliminate Detroit, they’ve got their QB Matt Stafford, he may be hurt, but they’ve already spent a fortune on him, they’re not picking a QB. They’ve got too many other needs, so they’re not getting a QB.

Folks, you know who is going to get Andrew Luck? It’s going to come down to Carolina, Buffalo and Cincinnati. But remember, Buffalo is competent at QB, Buffalo is still playing hard and Buffalo has got winnable games. @ Miami, home to Cleveland and Buffalo plays my Jets in the last week and the Jets may rest starters, because they’re in the playoffs. Buffalo has got winnable games, they’re playing their butt off, they’re getting solid QB play and the Jets could rest starters.

Cincinnati’s schedule is brutal! New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, San Diego, Baltimore…but, they’ve already got one more win then Carolina and they’re at least competent at QB. Not so for Carolina! 1-10, dreadful at QB, injury plagued, lame duck coach and a brutal remaining schedule: @ Atlanta, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, cross country to Seattle, Arizona at home.

So it’s very interesting to me because when you look – this is the one year, everybody wants the 1st pick. Cincinnati, Carolina, Buffalo are playing for Andrew Luck and what’s very interesting here is that Eli, dad was an NFL QB, told San Diego “No thank you, I won’t play there” John Elway, from a strong coaching family told Baltimore “No thanks!” Andrew Luck…would he go to Cincinnati? Ownership issues, laughably cheap, not a great history. My gut feeling here is that Harbaugh and Andrew Luck are going to go to Carolina…that’s just my gut feeling! I gotta tell you something, I’m fascinated by this story

Now, you’ll say to yourself “Well they drafted Jimmy Clausen” Am I the only person that thinks this….have you watched Jimmie Clausen? Is it me or does he look tiny? Is it me or does he not look like the part? Just my opinion

NFL owners are not going to spend $7 million dollars on a head coach, not when you’re going into a potential lockout. You’re not going to see contract extensions and there is no way in Minnesota, you are going to pass up on Leslie Frazier, who is over qualified, owned the room during his press conference, is really liked by players and has some nice talent assembled…he’s going to win some games here at the end of the year. With just getting Childress out of that locker room, you’re going to win some games.

Similarly with Jason Garrett, an offensive guy, Cowboys have been a different offense since he arrived. You’re going to win some games and you’ve got some really winnable games.