Archive for August, 2011

This is an interesting story, my most loyal comment droppin reader Mike Crack, texted me a couple of weeks ago about this story and this story got a ton of play, but apparently Michael Vick told GQ Magazine, for the upcoming September issue that he wanted to play for the Bengals and Bills and that he felt they were better options. But Vick met with Roger Goodell, the commissioner, and other NFL officials and they all felt that the Eagles were the best choice. Michael Vick says “and I commended and thanked them because they put me in the right situation” He went on to tell GQ that he was always confident in his athletic ability to play QB, but it was in Philadelphia where he became a better football player.

Now if you’re a Buffalo Bill fan (sorry Mike) or a Cincinnati Bengal fan, you’re going to be outraged by that. “How can the commissioner steer Michael Vick to Philadelphia?” But you have to remember, the NFL was thinking of it as a rehab decision, not a talent decision. They had a former borderline league MVP guy, who had just been in the can and who was trying to rebuild his image. So the NFL officials felt like “well, Philadelphia is a solid organization, top to bottom, it’s not Mickey Mouse, and they have a history of excellence and if we’re talking about rehab and not talent – we’d rather you go to Philadelphia.” Now everybody is going to be outraged in Buffalo, but in the NFL’s eyes, it wasn’t a talent issue, it was a rehab situation. Remember, they didn’t have to let Michael Vick in! There is no by-law that says “you go to prison, I’ve got to let you back in” The NFL allowed Michael Vick – not a right, but a privilege back into the league.

If the NFL feels like this is a situation that could affect the brand of the NFL and our imaging, if we have a say, we are going to recommend a more stable organization…I don’t have a problem with that! I know it seems like a talent issue, but to the NFL it was a rehab issue. He was basically a kid that could have gone anywhere and they said “we’re going to send you, compassionately, to the place where you will fit better” But you might say “well that’s not fair for a commissioner to do!” I’ve got news for you; commissioners in all leagues make decisions all the time that favor regions.

I mean, right now Bud Selig is favoring the Northeast by not instituting a salary cap in baseball – that’s a huge disadvantage for Tampa and Toronto, that’s a huge advantage for Philadelphia, Boston and New York. If you look around sports, commissioners, league officials all the time put athletes in better situations. I mean, if you look at the way sports are built, worst team gets the first draft pick “that’s unfair that Lebron goes to Cleveland!” I mean, you don’t have to do worst team gets the first pick because you’re in danger than of teams bailing in the last games of the year to get the first pick, there is always that danger.

But leagues are set up inherently to benefit parity, create some evenness – and in this case, Michael Vick was a felon. The league was not only concerned about their brand – I mean listen, if I’m going to let a felon into the league, at a high profile position, I am not going to put him in a position to fail. I run the league, I am going to put him in a rehab situation where I think he would be a better fit – nobody could’ve guessed that Vick would go to the Eagles and be an MVP candidate. I mean, most people realistically didn’t think that.

But I’ve got news for you –in Cincinnati and Buffalo they don’t want to hear this, but again it goes back to life…you reap what you sow! If you’re the Cincinnati Bengals, you’ve sorta been Clown College of the NFL; you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt from the league. If you’re the LA Clippers, you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt from the league…you’re just not! From advertisers or the commissioner, but you say “Well, commissioners should be above board” really? Don’t commissioners often have to make decisions on expansion? I mean, when you make a decision on expansion and 7 cities bid for an NFL franchise and the commissioner selects 1, is that being totally subjective? Los Angeles is going to get an NFL franchise, is that subjective? No, they’re big and rich! That’s why they’re getting it.

So this idea, this Valhalla, this belief that there is some sort of perfect world where nobody favours anybody is ridiculous to me. Michael Vick spent years in Atlanta doing it his way…it didn’t work! Sending Vick to the Eagles was the NFL’s way…it’s working! Eli Manning didn’t think the Chargers were the right situation for him. He went to New York City and won a Superbowl, the NFL allowed that! All I’m saying is, Cincinnati and Buffalo are going to be outraged by this, but I think the NFL looked at it as a rehab situation, not a talent situation.


So I was thinking about this, this morning. Good companies have backup plans, most companies I’ve had the oppourtunity to do an internship with, have backup plans. The Indianapolis Colts have not taken the backup situation very seriously for 10 years. New England with Brady, even with Brady, has always taken it seriously. Matt Cassel was eventually traded for a second round pick – classic Belicheck, getting value for a backup quarterback. They have a kid now, Brian Hoyer, he and their other backup quarterback will be traded for draft picks soon. But, even with Brady, they’ve always had a plan.

The Colts have a guy to quarterback in Manning, who’s now had neck surgery…and they didn’t have a backup plan. There were 7 quarterbacks in this past draft, Bill Polian, vice chairman of the Colts said before the draft “quarterback is becoming a concern” when speaking about the backup plan in Indy. They didn’t draft a quarterback, they didn’t take it seriously. I’m sorry, but that shaggy guy from Purdue is not a reasonable backup plan. Has 28 throws, 8 completions in his entire NFL history, that’s not a legitimate backup in the AFC. Heck, that’s not even a legitimate backup in the CFL much less the ACC and I’ll give you an example.

So the Jets go out and get Greg McElroy – which is a brilliant draft, 7th rounder, pay him nothing, Alabama quarterback. Two years in the best conference in college football where he had 37 TD’s and 9 picks – the kid doesn’t make mistakes. Now add to it that there were no OTA’s and no camp, they [Jets] had to find somebody who could pick up the plan quickly, so that if Sanchez in Week 11 gets hurt, somebody can come in and beat the Bills. Greg McElroy is the highest rated quarterback so far in the pre-season; he’s an Ivy League intelligent kid. So it was a really smart move by the Jets, knowing that there are no camps and no OTA’s, they need a high IQ backup quarterback who can come in and just win a game for them or if they play two, go .500. Lose to Miami, beat the Bills…okay, Sanchez is back. It’s actually a really smart move, but the Colts haven’t done that in 10 years.

So I got to thinking about this, this morning. What the Colts have done, Cleveland did with Lebron – they let them own the franchise. I mean Lebron literally was making personnel moves. Peyton Manning, they don’t even call the plays but give him ideas and suggestions, he runs the entire offense. The Lakers have never done that with Kobe. Like do you know how Kobe found out who was the next Laker coach? He watched ESPN; they didn’t give him a heads up. The Yankees don’t do that, when they brought A-Rod over, they said to him “hey, here’s your money…go move to 3rd base” Chicago didn’t do it with MJ. The entire time he was in Chicago, Jerry Krause and Michael Jordan had issues, often. But sometimes in these Indianapolis’s and Cleveland’s – not sexy free agent markets, they seem so behold on the athletes, like there’s a low self-esteem thing like “we’ll never get anything else like this, so we’re just going to hand you the franchise” you can’t do that!

 I mean, as great as Peyton Manning is, New England doesn’t hand the franchise to Brady and they’re always drafting backup quarterbacks. I mean, they got mad at Brady and made it public when he trained in California last year, they didn’t suck up to him , they weren’t beholding to him, Belicheck wasn’t happy with him. So it’s funny cause you have to wonder if the socio-economic conditions in these Cleveland’s, Indianapolis’s – and to their credit, Indy isn’t a Cleveland or Detroit socio-economically speaking, it’s plateau, it was a growing city that sort of plateau, but is there this sense in these cities – like coastal cities don’t’ let the athlete run the franchise. The Laker’s would be like “Listen Kobe, go! We’ll just get another superstar here. We’ll go get another superstar” The Yankees are like “Sorry, we’ll go get somebody else” and they’ve had no backup plan. Brian Billick was on ESPN radio on the Scott Van Pelt Show some time ago and talked about this saying “I think it’s a traumatic step for Indianapolis, they have been a team that traditionally has said look we realize that Peyton Manning is so great, so unique, why spend any money at all on the backup because if Peyton goes down we’re dead, what are we going to do? Lose another game? Who cares! We’re dead if Peyton goes down, so why put the money there?”

So I’m just getting all worked up about this 26-27-60 rule. I don’t know exactly when I became a number stats dork – perhaps when I first learned about sabermetrics years ago, but I’m totally into it and I’m going to give Sports Illustrated some credit here. Its the26-27-60 rule for quarterbacks and it just works! So if you have a 26 on your Wonderlic – that’s a test that all NFL players take to show their academic level and can they quickly make decisions – let’s be honest, quarterback is a quick decision position. If you’ve got 27 starts in college and if you completed 60% of your throws in college, it pretty much predicts that you’re going to succeed in the NFL.

Now, there are guys who have succeed with 2 of the 3 and that are borderline on the 3rd…those guys have shown to succeed as well, Big Ben and Jay Cutler are 2 of those guys. What’s interesting is – one of the young quarterbacks, who is blowing up right now and people have a lot of love for is Colt McCoy. The thing about McCoy, and it’s something that nobody has ever talked about – McCoy started 53 games in college, conversely Cam Newton only 14 and Mark Sanchez 16. Now, Sanchez is a great athlete, he was the #1 high school athlete in California…no one doubts that. Mark started half the games you should be starting in college before making the step to the NFL. He had a good Wonderlic, he completed a good number of his throws, so on 2 of the 3, Mark does it though he does have a great coach, the Jets are a good team, so Mark will succeed and I’d say he’s already succeed to a certain degree.

With Cam Newton it’s very interesting, he fails on the Wonderlic and he fails on the starts – he’s only half way there on the starts, so he fails 2 of the 3 indicators. So that’s for real concern with Cam Newton, in my opinion. He’s 1 of 13 so far in the pre-season when throwing to receivers, he hasn’t converted a 3rd down…not one and he’s completing only 45% of his throws. He fails on the Wonderlic, he fails on the college starts…it’s a big concern. Now, he is so brilliant athletically, many believe that he’ll overcome that, but I don’t know. Here’s what’s interesting on this 26-27-60 rule.

Since 1998, here are some of the NFL quarterbacks who aced all 3 – Wonderlic, college starts and percentage passes in college, here are the guys who aced all 3: Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Breese, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Kyle Orton, Matt Ryan and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now Fitzpatrick is not obviously a star, but Buffalo has got no talent (sorry Mike). They’ve got like 1 elite player on the roster, so in reality he is elevating, otherwise, a cruddy bunch of teammates. Here are the guys – highly touted prospects, who failed at least one part of the formula: Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Dante Culpepper, David Carr, Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell. Also in that list is Michael Vick, but Sports Illustrated says “he’s so spectacularly athletic, he almost plays the position differently than everybody else plays the position, he’s the exception”

Here’s a couple of guys who succeed on  2 of the 3, but on the 3rd of the 26-27-60, miss by an inch: Jay Cutler and Big Ben,  whose largely had the Steelers’ first few years of his career, has had to carry them but since then, has become a good quarterback, but here’s what’s really really interesting to me. Of the 4 guys last year who were drafted – Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen, who is the only one to ace all 3 of the 26-27-60 rule? Sam Bradford…easily the best out of four quarterbacks. Who has looked second best? Colt McCoy…easily the 2nd best of the bunch, he’s 2 of 3 on the rule and is right on the Wonderlic score.

Now, here’s what’s frightening – if you look at the guys drafted this year, the scary one is Jake Locker – he failed the Wonderlic by a large margin and was way below the completion percentage in college. So only the indicator of college starts was Locker even passing. So he, like Cam Newton, fails on 2 of the 3 but who did pass all 3? The backup for my Jets, Greg McElroy…he passed with flying colours. So the backup for the Jets has a better shot at succeeding in this league than big money guy Jake Locker…how about that! Use that for insight for your fantasy info as you wish…keep your eye on him. I buy into it, I think this stuff matters. I think what’s happened in sports is that the stats are being evolved by smart people, fans are getting smarter, it’s got more people talking about sports, sports is bigger now in the country and if you start digging deep…watch Greg McElroy, backup for the Jets, have a better career than Jake Locker. It doesn’t make any sense right? “Oh come on Andrew…” hey, these numbers don’t lie; Sports Illustrated did the work last year.

So lets talk about Yankee’s pitcher AJ Burnett on his recent feud with Yankee’s manager Joe Girardi…was he giving Girardi the finger or not. So I was sitting there Wednesday morning – and this is a theory of mine, I’m not sure it’s true, but I’m just going to tell you that it’s a theory. It’s no question; AJ Burnett is a train wreck. He’s from rural Arkansas, he’s just not big enough for the room, he’s a “don’t get it” guy, he’s covered in tattoos , came to the ballpark last year with a big shiner, dye’s his hair, he’s got that Starbucks baristas thing with the two black earrings – the low self esteem earrings thing…he’s a mess!

So I said to myself “let’s go look at Yankee players, specifically pitchers, who have just not been big enough for the room in New York” Look at this list of the players and pitchers: Kevin Brown bombed during his time there and he’s from rural Georgia. AJ Burnett is from rural Arkansas; Kyle Farnsworth is from rural Kansas, Ed Whitson from rural Tennessee, Joba Chamberlain from rural Nebraska. So do the Yankees consider the bigness on covering the Yankees? Over the last 15 years, they’ve had different avenues for publicity like the YES Network, ESPN and the media. Go to a Yankee game and there is like 35 reporters around the batting cage during practice.

It wasn’t like that during Mattingly’s days, it wasn’t like that during Ron Guidry’s day – the Yankees now have their own network for pre-game’s! They have a pre-game show every night – an hour of batting practice…it’s a batting practice show!! They don’t get that in Kansas City…and it gets ratings. So my point is that if you look at Burnett – he’s a rural kid, get’s to New York…he’s a child! He can’t do it. Conversely, let’s look at the Yankees who’ve worn the pinstripes and succeed: Mike Mussina is Stanford educated, A-Rod is from Miami, Andy Pettite is from a city 15mins outside of Houston, David Cone is from Kansas City. So these guys who grow up in cities that are a little bigger, that aren’t intimidated by the press, they grow up watching big city local news, they’ve dealt with big city people coming and covering them.

You can make an argument – now, I’m sure there are exceptions, but with AJ Burnett and Yankees GM Brian Cashman defends him until the end…but that’s because he’s suppose to do that. But with AJ Burnett my thing is that are the Yankees the only team in baseball that has to consider “where are you from? “ and if they are going to bring them in – and you didn’t go through their minor league system, so you don’t understand the bigness of the Yankees and the press coverage. If they are going to bring you in, from outside of their organization, where did you grow up? If you grew up in the sticks, you’re going to be completely overwhelmed by New York City…I think it’s a very realistic theory.

So two weekends ago there was like a mad dash when the Texas A&M potentially moving to the SEC story broke out. Basically what happened is that there was this rumour out there – and I still think it will come to fruition, that Texas A&M of the Big 12 was going to move to the SEC. I don’t think it’s good for Texas A&M, I think it’s ego, I think the Texas Longhorn Network along with ESPN ticked them off and they have a right to be ticked, I myself am not in love with the Longhorn Network, I think it brings up some questions ethically, it’s kind of a precarious situation, I’ll be honest and say I don’t know enough about it to have strong comments on it. But I totally get an Oklahoma or an Oklahoma State or Texas A&M being bothered by the Texas Longhorns Network.

Now for ESPN its good business – I completely get it. If I’d grown up out west and say there was a USC Network owned by ESPN, I can tell you that Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Cal and Stanford would certainly not be pleased. But here is the thing; ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb reported that 4 other teams could go to the SEC – including Missouri, Florida State and Clemson. My gut feeling is that the SEC – which is already great, would love to have like a Florida State and a Virginia Tech and a Texas A&M.

To me, we’re getting to a point where I think we’re going to have these 4 major conferences. One out West, one in the Mid-West, one in the South and then one in the North East, I wonder if we’re getting to a point if you’re just not going to combine the Big East and the ACC because if Virginia Tech and a Florida State and Clemson left the ACC for football, it is a dreadful conference and its going to become the Big East…a laughing stock. But if you combine the Big East and you have your Louisville, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and then you combine them with the others, I think you get a better conference.

Now, it’s not a great conference, but I just look at college football and I’m not sure if it’s good for it or not. But are you going to end up with a PAC-16, a Big 16 an SEC of 16 and an ACC/Big East of 12 to 16. That’s what it kinda looks like, to me anyways. I don’t blame Texas – and this is all started by Texas signing with ESPNU, I don’t blame Texas. Texas looks at Notre Dame and says “we recruit better athletes; we are the new Notre Dame!” You know, in the 70’s and 80’s Notre Dame was the Big Independent yet nowadays Texas gets bigger ratings than Notre Dame. Young kids relate to Texas more than Notre Dame and then Texas says “we gotta bigger state, we’ve got greater revenues, we have a nicer town, and we can attract elite players. If Notre Dame is independent for football, why can’t we? Why do we have to share our revenue with Texas A&M and Baylor”

Then BYU goes independent, and you know Texas says “well, again you’ve got BYU and Notre Dame…we’ve got better players than those guys combined! Why can’t we go independent?” So I don’t blame Texas at all for signing on for a network and I don’t blame ESPN for doing it either, but that’s what started all of it. Like I’m a diehard college football fan, and I don’t know what to make of any of it. It changes, it’s incredibly fluid, it changes every day but I know this – is that as the SEC grows increasingly stronger, and they’re not taking dogs, if they’re taking anybody, they’re taking on athletic departments that make money. They’re taking on an A&M and are going to take on a Florida State or a Virginia Tech – which seems to make a lot of sense. It is really gonna weaken the Big East and the ACC in football.

You can say what you want about tobacco road and basketball – the money in college sports is in football. Even at Duke, Duke lost money in basketball last year. You think Texas ever loses money with football? There is absolutely no money in college basketball, well there’s really no big money in college basketball. Maybe outside of a Kentucky or a Kansas – but what has Kansas profited every year in basketball? Like $10 million? That’s like 2 home games for Ohio State. That’s not to say you don’t want your basketball program to be bleeding, but like think about this, think about how much bigger college football is than college basketball.

What are the top 5 college basketball programs in the U.S? UConn, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and like North Carolina – I mean like look at those! Those athletic departments aren’t even in the top 50 in terms of profit. Now look who’s great in college football, but sucks in college basketball: Penn State, Georgia, USC…they’re all top 50. Like you can be terrible in college basketball, you can be Penn State or Georgia and make a killing as an athletic department. If you don’t make money in football…you don’t make money! Like Kansas’ athletic department doesn’t make money yet their basketball is awesome and their football is pedestrian. Duke athletics doesn’t make any money yet has great basketball, UConn as well has a great basketball program yet that athletic department doesn’t make any money. Penn State Georgia and USC are irrelevant in basketball yet they make a fortune from college football!

So let’s talk about the fascinating Keegan Bradley (sarcasm intended) Listen people, we’ve had 13 different winners in the last 13 majors and a lot of you were saying to me “Andrew, why can’t you just enjoy it!” People, don’t get me wrong…it’s fine, but he’s the 108th ranked golfer in the world and you know what it tells me when the 108th ranked golfer in the world wins a major? And it’s the second time in a row the winner of a major ranked outside of the top 100…it tells you where golf is without Tiger…soft! Anybody can win cause nobody has the “it” factor to crush the field. It’s a bunch of soft country club kids taking turns on dads convertible.  It out there for anybody to seize, including the legendary Rory McIlroy lol and none of them are seizing it.

It’s nothing against Keegan Bradley, but let me ask you this, if the 108th best college basketball team ends up making it to the NCAA final 4, do you know the back story? Are you involved emotionally? No!!! if the 108th best college football team ends up in the Rose Bowl, are you going to watch it? No!!! So you can’t expect casual fans, people with a life – and I’m not talking to golf purist, that guy…networks already own that guy, they are not worried about him at all. They are worried about guys like me, who are casual golf fans, who come in for great stories. But when you give me the 108th golfer…I mean, did you see the leader board on the last day? It looked like a bad law firm…you’ve gotta give me somebody I’ve heard of. “well you’re a sports junkie…” I’m a human being man! If I’ve got no emotional connection to a kid from Vermont I’ll never see again, I’m not as emotionally involved.

Even when Mike Tyson was 9 years past his prime, he’d go on pay-per-view or when Oscar De La Hoya was past his prime, he’d also go on pay-per-view and get a huge number. People are busy, they have lives, they certainly don’t go on the internet all day looking up golfers from Vermont. So you can’t expect the masses, the majority of people, to have some emotional connection with a golfer that 15 days ago you’d never heard of. Keegan Bradley, by the way, he acknowledged that he hopes he’s not a one-hit wonder “ I don’t want to be one of the guys that kind of disappears, I’d love to be up in a category with, you know, the best players  and be next to Phil Mickelson, whose one of my idols. I hope I don’t disappear and I don’t plan to and I think I can hang out…I honestly think I can.”

Well let’s root for the kid, he seems like a nice kid but, like one of the guys looked like an overweight of Rory McIlroy and you’d never heard of that kid from Vermont – and by the way, it’s the longest streak a first time major winners in modern major championship history…13 different winners in 13 different majors. You can’t expect the average person reading my blog who is busy as hell, has 2 kids and they’re playing soccer, has a wife/husband…you can’t expect them to emotionally sit in a couch and just suddenly know a kid from Vermont, they’ve never heard of…that’s all it is, that’s all I’m saying.

Like in can be fun in the moment, but you know…sports is just about emotional connections. Why are you a Giants fan? Cause your dad was a Giants fan and your dad’s dad was a Giants fan and you’ve been watching the Giants for 28 years – that’s why you’re a Giants fan. If you wake up in the Bronx tomorrow, why aren’t you a Cleveland Brown’s fan? You have no emotional connection!! So that’s all sports is. I mean, some people were upset that UConn – the 9th best team in the Big East, won the NCAA tournament, but I’m suppose to say that the 108th ranked golfer is great?? Heck, at least I’ve heard of UConn.

So I was looking at NFL schedules this weekend – actually I was looking at both NFL and college football schedules, and what happens a lot of the times is that you get fooled – you think your team, like in college it happens all the time. You think your team is a lot better than they are, like in the Big 10. You think your team is really good because they beat Youngstown State and then they hammer through an incredibly pedestrian Big 10 team and your 9-1, but you’d probably be 5-4 in the SEC or 6-3 in the Big 12, you can be fooled very easily in college football believing your team is great because you play lousy teams.

Now in the NFL, the difference is that the gap between the good and the bad is much tinier than in college football, so it’s harder to get fooled. But there are a couple of teams in the NFL this year, where their fan bases are going to go nuts. Let me give you my 4 teams that are fool’s gold – now I’m not saying these teams don’t end up being okay. But by the beginning of November, all these teams are going to be getting great press, people are going to be saying “ they’re unbelievable” and all I’m saying is “there’s going to be some fool’s gold”

The Denver Broncos are a great example of this. They start out with Oakland, Cincinnati @ home and Tennessee on the road. Denver – with Kyle Orten or with Tim Tebow could very easily go 3-0 and finish the year 4-12 or 5-11. Denver Broncos’ schedule tells you “good start…bad team” Another team is the Kansas City Chiefs, start off with Buffalo @ home, Detroit, Minnesota, Oakland in the first month and a half, everybody in Kansas City is gonna say “You’re on Andrew, Matt Cassel is great! This franchise has turned it around” then from November 21st to mid December: @ New England, Steelers, @ Bears, @ Jets and finally Packers. Kansas City is going to fool a lot of people until late November.

Keep your eye on the New York Giants; their schedule at the end of the year is brutal! Starting November 6th: @ the Patriots, fly cross country to San Fran, Eagles, @ Saints, Packers, @ Cowboys, @ Jets and end off at Cowboys. But before that, from September 11th until October 30th they are going to fool a lot of people: Redskins, Rams, Cardinals, Seahawks, Bills and Dolphins. Kansas City, Denver Broncos and the Giants are going to fool a lot of people early. The one college team to keep your eye on – they’ll probably start the season 7-0 and will have a chance to lose 4 of their last 5 is the University of Stanford. They get a bunch of dogs early: Duke, Colorado, San Jose State and Washington State yet their last 5 games are: @ USC, @ Oregon State, Oregon, Cali and Notre Dame. They could lose 4 or all 5 of those games, so keep your eyes on these teams that will get a lot of hype early, but as I always say…schedule’s matter a ton.