Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rethinking personal fouls

Since forever, a personal foul in college or professional football will cost a team 15 yards. Sometimes. It all depends where they are on the field. Between the 30 yard lines, the 15 yard penalty is in play for both the offense and defensive teams.

But consider what happens when an offense gets past an opponent's 30 yard line. If the offense commit a foul -- they're still penalized the entire 15 yards. Yet if a defender is the culprit, it's only half the distance to the goal line.

Just a couple days ago, yours truly saw an NFL defender commit a personal foul when the opposing offense was on his 1 yard line. The penalty? A half a yard. Had the defense committed another on the ensuing play the penalty would have been a quarter of a yard. Another would be an eighth. Then a sixteenth. Theoretically, this could go on forever and, while the offensive team is carting off their injured players, they still wouldn't have scored a touchdown. Further, if the offense retaliates even once, they'll find themselves back at the 16 yard line. This has always been grossly unfair. There's a better way.

When the teams are between the 30 yard lines, as mentioned above, leave the rules as they are. A foul on either team will still result in an immediate 15 yard penalty.

But when an offensive player is fouled between the 30 and 15 1/2 yard lines of the defense, march off the whole penalty. Not half way to the goal. The whole 15.

Here's an outside the box idea. Once inside an opponent's 15 yard line, if the defense commits a personal foul on the offense -- give the offense the option of "banking" the penalty or taking it first and goal at the 1 yard line. This would be especially relevant down close to the goal line, as also mentioned above. After all, offensively speaking, what's the difference between running a play from the half yard line or quarter yard line? And had the offense scored on the play in question, assessing a 15 yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff hardly qualifies as punishment for the receiving team that committed the foul. Most NFL kickers can already boom kickoffs out of the end zone while kicking from the 35 yard line. Moving it up 15 yards to the 50, merely means they can likely kick it into Row 8 or so of the end zone fans. The current system hardly serves as a deterrent to defenders taking "cheap shots" in the shadow of their own goal line.

So why not let the team that was fouled bank the 15 yard penalty, and cash it in any time they wished for the remainder of the game -- while either on offense or defense? Though delayed, justice would have finally been served, and how interesting might game strategies become? Fans in the stadiums or watching on TV would be absolutely riveted wondering when their team was either going to pull out it's bonus card, or get banged, depending on whether they were the offenders or the offendees earlier in the game.

NFL head coaches currently have a red challenge flag they can throw after any particular play to have it reviewed. So why not give them a different colored flag -- pink, an exquisite chartreuse, or even polka dots would do -- to signify they intend to "bank" the penalty and have it enforced at a later time of their choosing?

Imagine. A particularly egregious team had racked up, say, 3 personal fouls, but the other team had banked them. If towards the end of the game the original offenders were driving for the winning score and inside their opponents' 5 yard line, the other coach could throw his flag and back them up 15, 30, or even 45 yards, depending on how much of his cache he wished to cash.

It would drive the screaming announcers, analysts and talking heads absolutely bonkers trying to predict the possibilities and/or figure it out.

And how can that be a bad thing? They already drive the average fans crazy.....

Justice indeed.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Detroit Lions. What's the deal?

The hype has certainly been there. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for over 5000 yards in a season and is in his sixth year. The prime of his career.

Calvin "Megatron" Johnson has been touted as being the best wide receiver since Jerry Rice. He's fast, he's tall, he's physical, and he makes seemingly impossible catches.

The Lions added former Super Bowl champ and free agent Golden Tate to their receiver corps.

Reggie Bush was supposed to be a dynamic runner and a threat out of the backfield to catch passes as well.

The Lions had two pretty good tight ends and spent their first round draft choice last year on another one.

After some uncertainty, their offensive line has finally jelled.

So just one question.....

With all this firepower on offense, how is it they can't seem to score a single touchdown lately?

A closer look. Consider the tight ends. Veteran Brendon Pettigrew was probably a big fan of former boxer Roberto Duran. How else to explain his hands of stone? There's a reason, actually 224 of them, why all 32 NFL teams passed on Joe Fauria during the seven round draft in 2013. But the Lions signed him. Last year's first round pick, Eric Ephron, can't seem to catch and whiffs on blocks. Can you spell B-U-S-T? And that's when any of them can even stay healthy -- which isn't very often.

Like any other team, the Lions' wide receivers likely catch over 100 balls a day in practice. NFL receivers are supposed to be the best in the world at catching a football. But what good are they if they choke up and drop passes on game day? To his credit, on many occasions QB Matthew Stafford has hit them right in the hands or between the numbers with passes -- only to see the ball fall to the ground. This would not be tolerated by elite teams. If a receiver can't catch a well-thrown ball in a clutch situation, chances are good he'll be looking for a new job pretty quick, because he will have been cut. If the ball is catchable -- catch it. Isn't that the prime directive for receivers?

Yet Stafford himself pulled a big-time bonehead against the Patriots. While his team was trailing, in desperation Stafford scrambled on a fourth down. It appeared he had it easily. The first down marker was directly in front of him as he approached the sideline. All he had to do was finish the play and perhaps take a hit while going out of bounds. But the Georgia Peach went into a slide -- a yard short of the first down. Oops. The Lions turn the ball over on downs. While watching the replay on the Jumbotron, the Patriots likely chuckled. Even though they knew they were a vastly superior team, how could an opposing QB be so oblivious of the situation to pull such a brain-lock stunt? For his foible, Matthew Stafford was high on the panel's ridicule list of the weekly "C'mon man" segment. All he had to do was take one more step for a first down, with the bright red sideline marker staring him in the face, but he slid a yard shy? C'mon man indeed.

The Lions supposedly have the best defensive front in the league. A regular gang of brutes. But they never came close to sacking Tom Brady for the entire game. This, even though the Patriots had recently reconfigured their offensive line. Brady would go 38 for 53 and 349 yards. Those are impresive stats by any measure.

Lions's fans can lament the injury factor -- on both sides of the ball. But that doesn't hold water. It's now Week 11 in the NFL, and every team is banged up in one way or another. Some have even lost their starting quarterbacks for the year. The week before, the Lions lost at Arizona and the Cards were forced to start former Lion Drew Stanton in place of injured Carson Palmer. Stanton hadn't started a game in over a year. But Arizona still won handily. Good teams find a way. The next guy steps up and does the job.

Question: Where would the Lions be if Stafford went down for the rest of the year?
Answer: In big trouble.

The Lions have got fat so far this year for two reasons. First, they had a relatively easy schedule which is typical for a losing team the year before. Second, they made three improbable late fourth quarter comebacks in a row to win games they likely should have lost.

Interesting stat: In their last 5 games, including the 3 comeback wins against New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami -- and also the last two losses to Arizona and New England (they can't all be easy), the Lions have had the lead in those games for about 46 minutes, and trailed by about 210 minutes. Yet they went 3-2 over that span. Make of that what you will, but it sounds a lot more like they've been eating their Lucky Charms than being dominant to yours truly.

Of their last five games, the Lions play four of them against sub .500 competition, including the next three at home. Even with their age-old and ongoing penchant for fumbles, foibles and brain farts, it's almost like the Lions would have to totally collapse NOT to make the playoffs.

But remember the four words that have come to aptly describe this team over the decades, despite how promising they may appear at any given time. They've certainly earned it.

It's still the Lions.

If there's a way to screw it up......  

And even if they make it to the playoffs, do even the hardest core Honolulu blue and silver koolaiders REALLY think they have the remotest chance of advancing far, let alone going back to Arizona for the Super Bowl? Whatever happened to Mr. T and his "I pity the fool"?

They've been lucky to beat mediocre teams, and were totally exposed by the Patriots. It wasn't so much men against boys as smart against dumb. The Lions like to fly around and hope for the best. The Pats are much more into precision. Big difference, as the eventual 34-9 score showed.

But never fear, despite the blowout at the hands of the Patriots, there are those in the Detroit media that continue to put a positive spin on all things Lions. After giving up 24 points in the first half, their mighty defense stiffened up in the second half -- they said. Truth is, the Pats would score 10 more points in the second half, while the Lions could only muster a single field goal. Besides, when leading 24-6 at halftime, the Pats knew it was pretty much a done deal. They dialed it back in the second half to cruise to an easy win. Had Brady/Belichick REALLY wanted to, they likely could have put 2-3 more touchdowns on the board. The Lions were helpless to stop them. It was the NFL tacit equivolent of the "mercy" rule in other sports.

Bottom line? The local Pollyannas aside, the 2014 version of the Lions are a slightly better than average team. Better than some, but nowhere near elite status.

And all the Koolaid in the world isn't going to change that.

Detroit Lions and deja vu. Again.

Wow. It's not even Thanksgiving yet and already Santa Claus is hawking Mercedes on TV. Maybe that finally answers the age-old question of where he gets all the money required for him and his elves to make and deliver a bazillion toys every year. And who knew he had a warehouse chock full of classic red cars in mint condition?

Regarding the Detroit Lions -- they seem to find themselves in much the same position they were last year. After starting out 6-3 in 2013, the usual gang of Honolulu blue and silver sappies were chugging their Koolaid like a Hummer does gas in 4-wheel drive. Playoffs, here we come, maybe even -- gasp -- the Super Bowl.

They had three "winnable" home games remaining, and even surprisingly blistered the Packers 40-10 on Thanksgiving. Alas, they would go on to lose to Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and the NY Giants at home, plus drop the finale at Minnesota to finish 7-9. Put another way, they self-destructed to lose 6 of their last 7 games to Hindenberg yet another season. The ever-present Koolaid had -- SURPRISE -- quickly turned rancid. Again.

And now another word from our sponsors. OK, the Mony Mony ad featuring another imported car was really catchy once, twice, maybe even 5 times. But after seeing it for at least the thousandth time -- this is getting really old, not to mention irritating. C'mon guys. Can't you come up with something new, or do you think Americans are just -- that -- stupid?

So now the Lions find themselves with another so-called "easy" stretch. The play Da Bears on Thanksgiving, followed by dates with the Buccaneers and Vikings -- all at home. Currently at 7-4, and after two predictable losses at Arizona and New England, the Lions should be able to cruise to 10-4. After that is a game at Chicago. Also winnable. Maybe even 11-4 going into the regular season finale at Green Bay. They can likely forget about winning that one. The Packers have been pumping it up as a team even more than Aaron Rodgers has in his own stupid commericials with Hans and Franz.

But an 11-5 record would surely get the Lions into the playoffs -- right? Maybe even a home game or -- holy Bobby Layne -- two. So quoth the Koolaiders. Again.

Yet why does that nagging Murphy's Law feeling persist when it comes to this team going down the stretch this year? Though solidly behind them (chug chug), it's almost like the Lions' faithful sense their team will unravel faster than Bill Cosby's reputation. Again.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. First up, Da Bears on Thanksgiving. If the Lions win that one to go 8-4, with a long week to prepare for Tampa Bay, the Koolaid will be flying off the shelves.

But..... if they get beat to become 7-5 (entirely possible -- they're 2-11 on Turkey day home games since 2001), the lug nuts just might get a little loose. Last year it got worse and the wheels wound up falling off entirely.

Forget the Koolaid. For the long-suffering fans, that was likely replaced with 80-100 proof stuff to ease their pain. Again. If you're going to root for the Lions, it's not a bad idea to have some serious booze around -- just in case the usual happens. Getting hammered might not be the best plan in the world, but at least it enables one to forget about their team getting hammered, again, if only for a short while. And suffering through over 50 years of futility is just about enough to drive anybody to drink.

And the Lions continue to take full advantage of it. Did you know they charge more per fluid ounce of beer than any other team in the NFL? Their cheapest option is a 16 ounce draft beer which costs $8.50. That's a mark-up of roughly 765% over a typical grocery store price. And that's for KEG beer, as opposed to stores selling the civilized real stuff in cans or bottles. Doing the price/fluid ounce math, a half barrel of beer at Ford Field retails for over a THOUSAND DOLLARS. How incredibly price-gouging is THAT? The second highest mark-up in the league is in Seattle. But they're Super Bowl champions, while the Lions haven't won anything since long before Super Bowls even began, way back in the Eisenhower administration, fittingly enough just about the time the Edsel made it's ill-fated debut. Something is very wrong with this picture.

But one never knows. The Lions could run the table in the regular season to finish 12-4, bash their way through the playoffs, and wind up in Arizona, playing in the Super Bowl in February against whoever comes out of the AFC. It's possible.

So is yours truly coughing up a grand apiece for kegs of beer the next time I throw a yard party.

But let's just say the odds are slim of either happening and leave it at that.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Michigan football and Yogi Berra

If it wasn't already obvious, Michigan's football program is now officially in the dumpster. They just got beat at home -- on senior night -- by Maryland. MARYLAND!  In the Big House! As the all-wise Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra once profoundly stated -- it's over. At least for head coach Brady Hoke.

How and why Hoke came to be the head coach of such a storied football program is truly baffling in itself. Consider his resume at the time:

In six years (2003-08) of coaching at Ball State -- he posted a 34-38 record.
Off to the west coast for two years (2009-10) at San Diego State. A 13-12 mark.
So while doing his "apprenticeship" and perhaps being groomed for the Michigan job, he had an eight year mark of 47-50. What kind of nitwit major university would hire a new head coach for big bucks with a sub .500 track record at lower levels?

But let's back up a few years. Though largely successful as a head coach over the course of 13 years (never a losing season, a bowl game every year, and one co-national championship) Lloyd Carr was deemed too "old-school" after the 2007 season. Out he went. Michigan wanted a "nu-skool" head coach that would bring it's program up to par with the speedy guys out west, and the emerging rise of the brutes in the southeast. Plus beat Notre Dame, Michigan State, and those pesky Buckeyes along the way. A very tall order.

Enter one Rich Rodriguez. To be fair, RichRod was stuck with players Carr had recruited while trying to teach them to play an entirely different brand of football. The results weren't pretty.
2008. A 3-9 record and obviously no bowl game.
2009. 5-7. No bowling for dollars again.
2010. 7-6, which got an invite to the second tier Gator Bowl. UM got walloped 52-14 by then semi-unknown Mississippi St.
RichRod's three year record at UM? 15-22. Though his record was actually improving every year as his own recruited players were phased in, it wasn't good enough and fast enough for the Maize and Blue faithful. So he had to go.

Enter Brady Hoke. Along the same line, Hoke inherited RichRod's players while bringing in a new system of his own. A temporary fall-off in "production" would have been quite understandable. Instead, the opposite happened.

In his first year (2011) at the helm, Hoke's Wolverines compiled an 11-2 season record and went on to win the Sugar Bowl. Order and pride (never forget pride at Michigan) were restored. The Big House was happy. Surely another shot at a national championship was on the way.

They couldn't have been more wrong.

In 2012, Michigan would slip to 8-5, and lose the second tier Outback Bowl.
In 2013, they got worse at 7-6, only to lose the 3rd/4th tier Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
This year, they don't even appear to be competitive, at least against good teams. After losing to Maryland, the Wolverines find themselves 5-6, with the remaining game being in Columbus next Saturday against Ohio State. It takes 6 wins to become eligible for even the lowliest of bowls, and UM's chances of defeating Ohio State in their "horseshoe" this year might be akin to the odds of Obama and Boehner hand in hand jointly announcing the secret bromance they have shared for the last few years. It's possible -- but I wouldn't count on it. Michigan will likely get whipped like Petersen's boy at the hands of the Buckeyes.

After all, look at Michigan's football record this year. Sure, they had their way with the likes of Appalachian St., Miami of Ohio, and even perennial Big 10 weak sister Indiana. They also barely squeaked out wins against Northwestern and Penn State, neither of which can be found in the top 50.

But look what happened when they faced decent competition.
Notre Dame 31. Michigan 0.
Utah 26, Michigan 10.
Michigan State 35. Michigan 11.
Minnesota 30. Michigan 14.
Even Rutgers -- RUTGERS! -- beat them 26-24.
And now they've gone down to Maryland 23-16.

Add it all up and what do you have? Michigan's been outscored by a whopping 171-75 collective margin when they've played anybody tougher than the dreaded thin mint and peanut butter teams that ring our doorbells to sell cookies every year. Then again, like UM football fans, yours truly remains a sucker for a cute sales pitch. The girls next door hit me up. The girls in the lobby of the grocery store hit me up. And when the doorbell rings during cookie season, I'm reaching for another Jackson before I even get to the door. Damn adorable kids. Don't they make any ugly ones any more that would make it easier to say no? Sorry, got carried away there for a sec. Ahem. Back to Brady Hoke.

As noted above, his most successful year at Michigan was his first -- with RichRod's players. As he phased his own recruits in over the ensuing three years  -- the team continues to get worse. The record speaks for itself.

So yeah, given the expected blow out at Ohio State, no bowl game, and the total disarray of the program -- Hoke is likely gone after this season. No self-respecting university would keep a guy like this on given the death spiral he's led their football program into. Then again, any major university with an ounce of brains never would have hired him in the first place -- given his previous track record. Besides being a proven loser, Hoke's the only head coach in all of college football that doesn't wear a headset so he can be in constant communication with his coordinators and other coaches -- some of which are sitting high above in booths looking down and calling the plays. In other words, Hoke doesn't have a clue what plays his own underlings are calling. This, despite it being specified in his latest contract that he WOULD wear a headset. Evidently, Hoke's idea of being a head coach consists of patting players on their butts and yelling "good job" when they come off the field after a rare success, or blank stares when things don't go so well.

Speaking of his latest contract, then Athletic Director David Brandon gave Hoke a 7 year extension right after the Wolverines had been taken to the woodshed by Utah. At the time, Brandon said he was proud of how Hoke's team had fared against the Utes, and coaches like Brady don't come along just every day. He had that last part exactly right. Of course, in the meantime, Brandon has rightfully been run out of town. Brandon was even more clueless than Hoke. This is what you get when you pluck a CEO from a failing pizza franchise and put him in charge of an athletic department at a big time university. If he couldn't make pepperoni, cheese and breadsticks successful, then who in their right minds would hire him to oversee 31 different sports teams? Hello?

Nevertheless, courtesy of Brandon's infinite wisdom, Hoke has a contract that runs through 2021. Whether all those millions is guaranteed or not is unknown, but here's hoping they at least had the common sense to include some sort of buy-out clause. Would you rather pay a guy that no longer works for you $35-40 million for the next seven years, or give him $4-5 million just to go away?

Because Brady is definitely going away. Misguided arrogance, pride, and all -- even Michigan isn't dumb enough to keep him on as head football coach. I think.

What would be the worst thing that could happen? Michigan pulls a monumental upset at Ohio State, and qualifies for a toilet bowl somewhere. There would be those that say Brady deserves at least one more year. Puh-leeze.

Much better if the Buckeyes rout them by 4 or 5 touchdowns to put an exclamation point on Hoke's sorry tenure as the head football coach.

And if that happens, Yogi can make it official.

It is indeed over.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Seattle Seahawks. Do or die time

Though it's been done several times by various teams since Vince Lombardi's Packers won the first two, repeating as a Super Bowl champion has become increasingly difficult. It hasn't happened for ten years, since the New England Patriots last pulled it off in 2004-2005. Whether it's a letdown, complacency, losing free agents, the tougher schedule that will follow, other teams getting better and staying hungry, or a combination of all the above is a good question.

For the most part, parity in the NFL is alive and well. Over the years teams go up, and teams go down. Last year, few would question the Seattle Seahawks were the dominant team. They rolled through the regular season with a 13-3 record, and wound up blistering Peyton Manning and the Broncos 43-8 in the Super Bowl. Very impressive indeed.

But that was last year. "Last years" in sports are like celebrity marriages. Nobody gives a rat's behind about exes, they're only interested in what's happening NOW.

And now the Seattle Seahawks are facing the proverbial (excuse the tired cliche) do or die game. The Arizona Cardinals come-a-calling this Sunday in Seattle. Though they lost starting QB Carson Palmer for the season due to a knee injury, the Redbirds sport a league-wide best record of 9-1. Meanwhile, the reigning champs have struggled to a 6-4 mark. In other words, going in, Arizona has a 3 game lead on Seattle. If the home teams goes down this Sunday, that lead becomes 4 games with only 5 to play. Pete Carroll and Co. could pretty well kiss the division title good-bye.

Worse, they'd be in definite danger of missing the playoffs altogether. It's not unprecedented. Several Super Bowl winning teams have failed to make the playoffs the following year for various reasons. But who would have thought it possible with the Seahawks and their Legion of Boom, not to mention the most raucous home crowd in the entire NFL? After all, they're still pretty much the same core team. Yes, they lost Golden Tate to the Detroit Lions via free agency. But Tate is only a good, not great, receiver. Given the state of both teams, it seems logical the Lions benefited far more by acquiring him than the Seahawks suffered from his loss.

As NFL fans know, each Conference consists of four divisions. The winners of those divisions, plus two wild-card teams go on to the playoffs where anything can happen, and sometimes does.

Yet look around at the rest of the NFC. In the East, Philly and Dallas both have 7-3 records and are slugging it out for the division crown. Same with Green Bay and Detroit in the North. In the South, co-leaders Atlanta and New Orleans both only have 4-6 records, but SOMEBODY has to win that division and will qualify for the playoffs. Not counting the high-flying Cards, in Seattle's own West division, they find themselves currently tied with San Fran at 6-4.

Put another way, between Philly/Dal, GB/Det, and San Fran, the Seahawks likely find themselves in a four-way fight for a playoff wild card position with only two spots available.

If they win against the Cards (Seattle's a 6 1/2 point favorite) to go 7-4, they keep their hopes alive.
But if they lose to become 6-5, the fat ladies at Starbucks and Microsoft headquarters might just start warming up to belt out a swan song for yet another team to join the year-after Super Bowl championship scrapheap.

On with the game. Should be interesting. No pressure.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shovelling off to Buffalo

Last year the Detroit area experienced a record snowfall, approximately 96 inches over the entire winter. Residents found it difficult to cope.

Now imagine that same amount of snow -- 8 feet -- were to fall in the course of four or five days. Everything would stop. Consider some ramifications:

Forget businesses, any unfortunate soul that experienced an in-home medical emergency (heart attack, stroke, etc.) would be in even direr straits. Ambulances and EMS personnel wouldn't be able to get there to assist them.

Pregnant women going into labor would have their babies the old-fashioned way, at home. All the pre-natal planning in the world would go out the window if driving to the hospital becomes impossible.

Woe be it to one if they were to lose power and not have a back-up generator, much less food in the house.The utility repair crews would be paralyzed as well. Eight feet of snow would rise above first floor windows blocking out daylight. It would be like living in an igloo with the entrance snowed in. Maybe okay for eskimos, but not recommended for city folks. Cars and small trucks outside would be completely submerged in the white stuff. Disappeared.

But this is basically what has happened to parts of Buffalo over the last couple days. And two or three MORE feet of snow is supposed to be on the way.

And on the sports front, the Buffalo Bills are scheduled to host the New York Jets this Sunday. Though they may be terrific football players, unless they can sprout wings and/or have a Star Trek transporter at their disposal, many Bills' players are snowed in just like the other residents. They can't get to the stadium. More on that to follow.

Stadium authorities have offered 10 bucks an hour plus free game tickets to anybody that wants to show up and help shovel out the open-air Ralph Wilson facility itself. Hundreds of thousands of tons of snow have to be removed. Good luck with that. First, the only way to get there is by snowmobile. Are we to believe football fans are crazy enough to bungee shovels to their Arctic Cats and Skiddoos, just so they can do such back-breaking work for a measly Hamilton per hour? Hmmm. Of course they will. Something about those free tickets. They'll come in droves. I can almost smell the two cycle exhaust fumes from the far side of Lake Erie.

Yet with the city still pretty much buried, and even more bad news on the way, it remains doubtful whether even the stadium itself can be made fit to play. And not counting those lunatic snowmobilers with their free tickets, how many people would show up?

Even if the teams themselves can somehow find their way to the stadium, this game should not be played. Why? Because it would give one team a huge advantage over the other.

While Buffalo has been under siege from the blizzard, the NY Jets have gone through just another week of usual NFL practice at home in Jersey. If the Bills' players can't get out of their own homes, obviously they haven't been able to practice this week. Yes, while reports have it the Bills' coaching staff has sent various plays and strategies to their players via Ipads, that hardly takes the place of real practice in preparing for an opponent.

In the event the game in Buffalo on Sunday is deemed unfeasible, alternate venues have been suggested. Perhaps Detroit, Pittsburgh, or DC, all teams that will be on the road this Sunday, so their stadiums are "available". It's not without precedent. Years ago, when snow collapsed the roof on the Vikings' stadium in Minnesota, the upcoming game was moved to Detroit -- and it worked out -- sort of. That's assuming Vikings' season ticket holders and others that had paid big bucks to see the game within a 20-30 minute drive of their homes didn't mind travelling about 700 miles by car, gas, motels, and all, for the same privilege.

It would be much the same for Buffalo fans were the game to be moved to any of the above mentioned alternate venues. We've all seen those pesky "hidden costs", like various surcharges and fees on bills, but this is getting ridiculous. Imagine having to drive 12 hours both ways to pay your electric bill, because it was the only place available to keep the lights on. I dare say most folks would not be happy with that scenario. But NFL football fans aren't most folks. They'll even travel overseas, at the cost of thousands of dollars, to see their bottom feeding team play another school of carp.

The talking heads keep ranting on whether or not Buffalo and their stadium will be fit to accommodate the game this Sunday. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't, but they miss a far more important point. This decision has to be made quite soon. Typically, for a Sunday game, the road team (Jets) travels on Friday. Once aboard an airliner at 35,000 feet, it's normally a really good idea for the pilots to know what their destination is. Those holding patterns have their limits. Something about a finite amount of jet fuel, and avoiding a possible mutiny. Besides, the travelling secretary of the team is usually much better off if he knows what town to arrange bus pick-ups in and make hotel reservations for the players, coaches, trainers, waterboys, etc., before they actually touch down.

Once on the tarmac, calling an entire fleet of cabs, even if the drivers speak English and have bathed recently, to take them all to a giant Motel 6 is not exactly the optimum scenario for a plane load of millionaires and their minions. Even if the proprietors of such an establishment left the light on for them, it's likely a fair statement to say the team esprit de corps would take a serious hit under such circumstances.

No matter what, whether the game can be played in Buffalo or elsewhere, it would be grossly unfair to the Bills. They haven't been able to practice all week while the Jets have. The only fair thing to do is cancel it. But how to make it up at a future date?

Simple. Don't. Give them both a tie on their records, a refund to those that had purchased or shovelled their way to tickets -- and tell them all to be happy.

It's the Bills and the Jets who, BTW, happen to play in the same division as the New England Patriots. Guess who the division champ is going to be? Who cares who would have won or lost such a game? Does any person this side of the afore-mentioned snowmobile lunatics seriously believe either has the remotest shot at making the playoffs? Not a chance.

It doesn't matter. Let it snow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Adrian Petersen. Wait a second....

The star Minnesota Viking running back is back in the news. We've all heard of how he "switched" his kid a few months back. NFL Commish Roger Goodell has suspended Petersen without pay for the remainder of this season, not to be considered for reinstatement until at least April of next year. The Union is crying foul. Let's look a little closer.

In his statement, Goodell cited a few reasons for handing down this punishment. These included the fact the kid was only 4, and duh, daddy was a lot stronger, and also because Petersen hasn't shown "remorse". But wait a second....

Yours truly can't remember anything that happened when I was 4, but hasn't forgotten the belt that would flog my backside (both mom and dad) when I got out of line early on in grade school. It only took a few of those to realize there were some definite no-nos. Right or wrong, running afoul of parental law could get painful. Having seen the photos, this is not to say Petersen didn't go a bit over the top with his switch -- I believe he did -- but who am I to judge how a parent in a different part of the country disciplines their child? One thing I do know is the lessons of that belt stuck have stuck with me to this day. Even though I could now get away with some things -- I still don't do them -- because I know they're wrong. Though I didn't like it much at the time, I thank my parents for instilling those values in me.

And this whole remorse thing has gotten way out of control. As the man once said, if you do the crime, you do the time -- and then it's supposed to be over. As a child, such things as disrepecting an adult or getting caught stealing anything -- even a candy bar from the local store -- guaranteed a date with the belt. I still say please and thank you to this day, to people and even children I don't know, and wouldn't dream of stealing anything, nor will I tolerate a person in my life who I know does steal. When I got caught as a kid, I paid the price -- but then it was over. I knew mom and dad still loved me, but there was no need to drag it on. The message was clear and understood. There are lines not to be crossed.

Not any more. These days it's not enough to just do the time for a "crime". The jurisprudence system has gone all in on "remorse". They expect any defendant to grovel, admit they're a terrible human being, go to counselling, etc., etc. And when it comes to high profile cases -- re-enter the likes of Adrian Petersen.

The media wants him to grovel. His employer, the NFL, wants him to grovel, and no doubt millions of ordinary people who have been brain-washed expect him to grovel. But wait a second....

Why should Petersen grovel? He had his day in court, pled guilty to a misdemeanor, and was sentenced accordingly. It's supposed to be over. However, the NFL has this pesky (very grey area) clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which states the league can impose further punishment over and above the court system for behavior deemed to run afoul of their own standards.

Perhaps that's fair enough -- to a point. Once Petersen was implicated in the "switching", he was placed on a mysterious thing called the Commissioner's Exempt List. Basically, he couldn't play for the Vikings, but would continue to receive his salary, pending the outcome of his case.

As mentioned above, this has been resolved in court. Remember, Petersen was convicted of only a misdemeanor, not a felony. At that, the "plea bargain" made sense for both sides. While the media coverage and graphic photos of "junior's" behind fanned the flames, one must also remember this happened in Texas. The prosecutor likely didn't relish the idea of going for the kill by presenting such a case to a jury of Petersen's peers. Many folks in the Lone Star State don't much cotton to the government telling them how they can and cannot discipline their kids. That would have been a roll of the dice indeed -- by both sides. It would have depended on the 12 folks sitting in the jury box.

To date in 2014, Adrian Petersen has only played one game for the Vikings before he was shelved. But wait a second....

He's been paid his full salary for the next 9 games. Former player and current talking head Jerome Bettis said nothing is more important to a player than actually playing. Even the money. Though perhaps well-intentioned, methinks the good Mr. Bettis knows better than that in his heart. If that were the case, everybody would play for free -- just for the honor of being in the NFL. Please, Jerome. Fans can be dumb, but not THAT dumb.

Petersen's salary is roughly $14,400,000 this year. Let's round it up a tad and say he stood to make a million bucks a game. He's collected 10 game checks, but only played in one, while perfectly healthy. Most people in the real world would be thrilled to collect their full salary for a couple months while not having to go to work.

But pending an appeal, and good luck with that, Roger Goodell has cut off Petersen's million dollar a week free-ride gravy train. Yo Adrian is not happy. The Union is not happy. And I'd wager Mrs. Petersen is definitely not happy. The NFL's view is that Petersen hasn't been punished at all so far. He's collected almost 9 million bucks for doing nothing. A valid point.

Most NFL analysts, experts, talking heads (you know -- the geniuses) have suggested that Petersen running afoul of the NFL's "personal conduct" code would normally result in a six game suspension -- without pay. They've also suggested, and likely rightfully, that the league is hammering Petersen as a make-up public relations call on how bad they botched the Ray Rice incident. But wait a second. What if....

Petersen were to come out and say tomorrow that he'd give back 6 game checks to the NFL, or the charity of their choice, but wanted immediate reinstatement? He's clear in the courts. It would have cost him roughly a whopping 6 million dollar fine and, even by Jerome Bettis's standards, the agony of sitting out three more games. Or maybe even give all 9 back, with the stipulation he doesn't have to go see a bunch of NFL mandated shrinks, much less grovel with pseudo remorse. He did the crime, he did the time, he paid the fine, and it's over. Let's rock and roll.

And wouldn't that be interesting?