Friday, December 30, 2011

NHL Winter Classic. The King of scams?

In the world of sports, there's times for praise. There's other times to poke fun and/or lampoon, both at myself and others. There's still other times to question. And there are also times for criticism, constructive or otherwise.

Yet, every once in a while something so outrageous, at least on the surface, happens, which calls for a full-scale, all-out rant, collateral damage be damned.  This would be one of those times. Forget throwing the baby out with the bath water. I'm fixing to tear out the whole tub, chuck it to the curb and set the house on fire. So don't say I didn't warn you if you read on.

I'm talking about the NHL Winter Classic, the annual game that's played outdoors with rotating teams and rotating venues. This year, it will be played on Jan 2, 2012, inside Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. There are SO many things wrong with this.

First, how much did it cost to build that rink? A couple million? 3, 4, 5? For one measly NHL game?
Knowledgeable hockey fans might say, "Wait a minute, Leach. There's more to it than that. There's going to be an 'old-timers' game, a couple college games, a minor league hockey game, a high school game, and even little kids will have their chance to skate on that ice".

That's all true, but I would counter with -- given a choice, I'm thinking "old-timers" would rather skate inside any day. The college games? Penn State plays Neumann. The only thing I know about Neumann is Alfred E appears on the cover of Mad magazine every issue. Villanova plays Drexel? Can't quite place Drexel. I think I might have had a prescription for that once, but I don't remember what my ailment was. Or maybe it was from the vet when one of my dogs got sick. Beats me. The minor league game? The Adirondack Phantoms versus the Hershey Bears. Phantoms is a good name for such a team, because other than some mountains that were there long before Pennsylvania was, and making little-league baseball bats, they go totally unseen. Hershey? Stick to what you do best. Chocolate. They've yet to name the high school teams, and that might be because they're having a hard time finding a couple. All the preps are still down south or out west on winter break. Ah, but it would priceless for the little children to have the honor of skating on such hallowed ice, right? Not exactly. Try $60 bucks an hour. Each. Bundle them up, watch the little darlings skate around all afternoon, and welcome to the world of ramen noodles. Hell, for a few hours of that, you could buy them a genuine replica knock-off jersey with their favorite player's name on the back. The rink will be gone in a few days, but the jersey will last a while. I recommend two things regarding that. Buy it a size too large, because it will last longer. And get rid of that Made in China tag. They may be little, but they're smarter than you think -- and when they notice, you don't want to have to answer that question.

A ticket to the game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers? You can have one at the bargain-basement price of $5000. Act now. Operators are standing by. What kind of moron would shell out five grand to go watch a regular season NHL game, in the elements, which might include rain, sleet, snow, or frigid temperatures? At that, they have to bring binoculars to even watch the game, because the closest seats will be -- well -- think of being on "the hill" at Pine Knob.

For five grand, you can get a Super Bowl ticket, no problem. Maybe even a pair of them. Or a trip to the Final Four. Throw in some extra change and you might get a Kardashian to sit on your lap for a second. Make sure you're seated in a sturdy chair and brace yourself accordingly. That would be some serious stuff coming at you -- in more ways than one. But I digress.

Now, I must admit I don't know a whole lot about what's going on in Philly these days, but if people will stand in line to pay 5K for just one "run of the mill" regular season hockey game, then evidently that city is doing a whole lot better than we are around here. Not sure, but 5K just might get one a season ticket at Joe Louis Arena for the Red Wings. 40 games. Inside. I know which deal sounds better to me.

This Winter Classic in a hot ticket. I could understand it when it took place in Buffalo, and the game quickly sold out. They don't have major league baseball, nor pro basketball, and the Bills haven't been any good since Jim Kelly was the QB. Throw in getting bombarded with snow every winter and yeah, I get that. But Philly?  They've got stuff going on.

This game is in Citizens Bank Park. Who do they think they're kidding? Citizens don't run that bank. Corporate people in 3-piece suits and power dresses or pantsuits do. It's like the People's Republic of China. The people have no say-so through elected representatives, so it's not a republic either. It's propaganda. As far as our own banks go -- ask yourself a couple questions. Do you even know who the executives are that play with your money? You certainly didn't get to vote on them. And do you really believe you have any say-so in what they do with it? The answer is no to both.
And somebody please tell me why it is that so many banks and credit card companies will fork out millions of dollars every year to have their names on stadiums and arenas, countless millions more to advertise on TV, but one never seems to have any money to pay interest on the funds we entrust them with, and the other seems to have some sort of roulette wheel from hell when it comes to interest rates.

Let the chumps in Philly with too many dollars and not enough sense go to some meaningless hockey game.

There will be some very good football bowl games to watch on Jan 2. I can stay warm, buy a couple pizzas and a few "rounds" if I wish, watch them all on a big screen, no binoculars required, not have to fight traffic, and have about $4800 dollars more in my pocket at the end of the day.

Liked the first Rambo movie. Even the first 3 Rocky flicks until it got ridiculous with the sequels. Still like a Philly steak sub once in a while too. But sometimes enough is too much. Sylvester Stallone made a fortune off that town and they even built a statue of him. C'mon Philly. He's from Hell's Kitchen, in Manhattan, and proud of it. You didn't know that? For that matter, Bernie Madoff came from Queens, and played some fairly serious games with a few high rollers in your city himself. Is a statue of him next?

Enjoy your hockey game, but yours truly thinks the only thing more cracked than that Liberty Bell you're so proud of is your logic.

And as long as I'm ranting, who in the hell are Katy Brand and Russell Perry anyway -- or maybe it's the other way around -- who cares --and why would I give a rat's ass if they're getting divorced? It happens. Been there. Done that. Deal with it. In the end, nobody else cares anyway.

OK. End of rant. I feel better now. But I still think that hockey game is for suckers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Braylon Edwards. Let him eat cake.

Back in the day, yours truly watched Braylon Edwards in action several times while sitting in the cramped, not so comfortable seating accommodations at the "Big House" in Ann Arbor. And I never did get it.

Why was this guy so highly touted as a wide receiver? Other guys seemed faster, ran crisper routes, and blocked better for their fellow players to help them out, but it was always about Braylon. Yes, occasionally he would make a spectacular catch. Evidently, one great catch cancelled out a lot of dropped balls, and even more lack of hustle. The University of Michigan hype machine was in overdrive promoting him, and obviously it worked, because he was not only named the top college receiver in the nation, amongst other awards, but was taken as the third overall draft pick in 2005 by the Cleveland Browns. Call it a silver spoon, a sense of entitlement, or whatever you want, but it was like this guy was anointed to be the next "great one". The boy that would be king. And I still didn't get it.

A couple years later, he even made the Pro Bowl, which amazes me to this day. Then again, SOMEBODY from Cleveland had to go.

He wasn't satisfied there -- after all, Cleveland is no place for royalty, much less publicity. Too big a fish in too small a pond, but I was still thinking carp -- Edwards went to the Big Apple to play for the New York Jets. It took him all of two years to wear out his welcome there, and those pesky scrapes with the law along the way probably didn't help out his cause either.

Off to San Francisco, where Edwards somehow got a $3.5 million one year deal from the 49ers. Since shortly after the start of the season, Edwards blamed his lack of production on nagging injuries. New head coach Jim Harbaugh attributed it to not only his performance in games, but how he practiced. Believe who you will.

The 49ers receiving corps has been decimated. One guy's nursing a bum ankle, another has an unknown head injury, one recently had his jaw broken, and still another had surgery on a broken leg suffered in October, that put him out for the year. It appears they're desperate for receivers. ANY receivers. Maybe undrafted free agents. Maybe guys off the street. SOMEBODY.

But evidently not desperate enough to keep Braylon Edwards around. Harbaugh, a former Michigan Wolverine himself, of all things, unceremoniously dumped him.

That should tell you something.

I dunno. Maybe I'm reading this all wrong. Then again, maybe I had it right in the first place, all those years ago in Ann Arbor.

On a related note -- you've heard about how they keep increasing seating capacity at Michigan Stadium to maintain their status as being able to accommodate the most fans? I don't believe that either. My theory is they repainted the same metal pews, and merely moved the seat numbers closer together. Presto, larger capacity. If you don't believe that -- go there, and good luck if you have a large person on both sides of you. Though you will be counted as being in attendance, poof, your seat just disappeared. Using a laptop can be a good thing. BEING a laptop isn't so much fun.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Drew Brees. The man

Congratulations to Drew Brees for just setting the all-time NFL record for passing yardage in a single season. The former record, held by Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins, had stood for 27 years.

It couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving guy.

Sure, in today's, let alone tomorrow's, mostly pass-happy NFL, along with recent rule changes heavily weighted in favor of the offense, particularly the QB position, his record may very well be eclipsed someday as well, whatever it turns out to be. He's still got one game left, at home again, no less, against the not-so-good Carolina Panthers, to possibly tack on a few hundred more yards. Cam Newton, QB of the Panthers, a phenomenal talent, might be deserving of Rookie of the Year honors, but I suspect even Newton would admit he has miles to go before he reaches the level of play Brees has shown for the last several years.

Brees surpassed Marino's mark against the Atlanta Falcons, a very good team, and playoff-bound themselves. Some might think it was "piling on", because the Saints were leading by 18 points in the 4th quarter, the final outcome of the game was hardly in doubt, and the Saints needed basically only to "kill the clock". Game over.

I would disagree, and further suspect even the Falcons and head coach Mike Smith understood the situation. At the time, Brees was about 30 yards away from breaking the record. He was playing at home, and certainly not only the players on both teams, but everyone in the stadium was well aware of what was happening. On top of that, it was being nationally televised on the last go-round of Monday Night Football this season. Many millions of NFL fans at home were watching. What better time and place to go "over the top"?  Conversely, can you imagine how the fans in attendance would have reacted if Brees never threw another pass, instead just handing the ball off to running backs, much less if head coach Sean Payton had removed him from the game at that time?  All the cheering would have changed to boos, and the media would have eaten them alive for days. That was not an option.

No doubt, Brees is amongst the best QBs to ever play the game, and a lock for the Hall of Fame somewhere down the road, but there's something about him that stands out even more.

Yeah, he's won the Super Bowl, been the MVP, and might win another one, or two, or three. Who knows? Now he's in the process of setting an all-time passing record. Nobody knows what that number will be until after the Saints play their last regular season game next weekend.

Let's not forget he was voted Man of the Year not long ago. That's not so much about being a prolific passing QB in the NFL. It's more about what the man accomplished away from football. In the aftermath of the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area a few years back, Brees could have walked away and ignored it. After all, he was making millions of dollars and no doubt could have went and done pretty much whatever he wanted to.

But he stayed in THAT game too. New Orleans had adopted him as their favorite son, and he adopted them right back in their time of need. I have no idea how much money and how many charitable hours he donated to that cause, but I'm quite sure it was a whole lot of both. Much of New Orleans was in ruins. Various governmental bodies gave it a lot of lip service, while promising this and that, but didn't seem to accomplish much.

Brees couldn't have even begun to provide food, shelter, and the basic necessities for that entire area to restore it to it's original condition, but he could give them something else. Hope. A cause to rally around. And that he did, eventually culminating in a Super Bowl victory.

Again, I suspect if Brees was asked which was more important to him -- being the MVP of the Super Bowl, or named Man of the Year -- he might smile and say something like, "I think you know", and leave it at that.

Contrary to what the late Leo Durocher once said, sometimes nice guys finish first.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

R.I.P. Kim Jong-il. A sports hero? Depends..

While reading the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, I came across an article that seemed to mock some of the sports feats the former North Korean leader had supposedly accomplished during his lifetime.

Given North Korea is a very secretive country, I dare say most outsiders have little to no idea what really goes on inside those borders. They might very well do things a whole lot differently over there than what some of us have come to regard as the norm. This might also include the world of sports.

According to their Ministry of Information, which I think in this country is called CNN, or maybe ESPNews, Kim shot 38 under par, including 11 holes in one, the first time he played a round of golf. That had to be outrageous propaganda that only a fool would believe, you say? Not so fast.

We think of a a round of golf being 18 holes, with such holes ranging from 100+ to 500+ yards. There's par 3s, par 4s, and par 5s. Maybe in North Korea, a round of golf consists of 36 holes, on a putt-putt course, with tee to hole distances ranging from 1 to 3 feet. And they're ALL par 5s. So it could have happened.

The first time he went bowling yielded a 300 game? Don't laugh. It's possible. Depends how they play the game. It was never claimed he actually used a bowling ball. Think of a set of barbells, with the weights the same distance apart as the gutters on a bowling alley. Give the bar a good kick to get it rolling, and presto, all the pins will fall down -- every time. For the life of me, I can't imagine what their equivalent of a "ball return" would look like, though. That would be quite a piece of machinery. Then again, maybe they had a general in charge of just simply rolling it back to the foul line.

Kim talked on an invisible cell phone, that he himself had invented? Only thing I can figure is he must have been the same guy that invented my remote control, because that sucker has a way of disappearing once in a while too, for no apparent reason. Abracadabra -- now you see it -- and now you don't. It's magic -- or something.

Maybe SI didn't look deep enough into what may have actually happened. Besides, who are we to poke fun at such a guy?

Some of us still believe Mickey Mantle once hit a baseball 585 feet. Modern day players are stronger, have custom-made bats, and the balls themselves are allegedly "juiced". Yet even muscle bound guys like Bonds, McGwire, and Canseco, juiced or not, ever hit one anywhere NEAR that far. 450 is considered a "monster shot", and that's a long ways from 585.

Remember the late Wilt Chamberlain's claim of "having his way" with over 20,000 women? Many people bought into that. Assuming he was "hard at it" from being a teenager until the day he died -- do the math. Yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, whatever, and you might find something very difficult to believe about that.

Throw in Al Gore inventing the Internet, the late Michael Jackson's miraculous mid-life physical transformation being an act of God, and some of the Detroit Lions' faithful already booking air fare and motels for the next Super Bowl in Indianapolis, fully expecting their team to be participating -- and it seems some people will believe just about anything.

Me? I'm sticking with sure things. Kim Jong-il is dead. A guy named Paul Kampe (the on-line coordinator for this newspaper) will groan when he reads this. We'll be seeing reruns of Tiger Woods highlights whether or not he actually plays in the next televised golf tournament. Jerry Sandusky has an image problem. Copying Charles Barkley's golf swing will never be recommended by a club pro giving lessons. Lebron and Kobe will get more media coverage than the entire NHL combined. Soccer will not displace the NFL as the predominant professional sport in America next year. New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will still be fat tomorrow. Someone named Kardashian will be in the news again soon. The next caveman commercial is in the works. (Whatever happened to that duck anyway? Was that his dinner a while back?)

After consulting with experts, there can be only one logical course of action. I'm cashing in all my assets to invest in a can't miss venture. Thousands of copies of Regis and Joy's Greatest Hits CD. Surely, they will be worth a fortune someday. The only thing better than that would have been if Shaq was singing back-up vocals. Had THAT happened, that recording might well have gone quadruple platinum virtually overnight. They wouldn't be able to make them fast enough to keep up with demand.

Yes, but Kim was a sawed-off little runt with goofy looking hair that absolutely dominated his country's airwaves for what seemed like forever, you say?  Before you laugh too hard -- reread the paragraph above. It can not only HAPPEN  in America -- it DID.

And here we thought the North Koreans were silly. Turns out -- it just might be us. Or at least me.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Panic strikes again

When I first saw it, I thought it might be another terrorist attack. Possibly some nut case inside shooting up the place with bodies everywhere. If not that, then perhaps the interior of the building was being consumed by some raging inferno.

How else to explain the thousands of wild-eyed, panic-stricken people, bursting through all those doors in an apparent attempt to get away from whatever terrible thing was happening inside? They ran aimlessly about, while stampeding each other with no regard for anybody else but themselves. Forget about friends and loved ones, this was human nature reduced to it's most primal form. Survival.

Turns out -- they weren't trying to get OUT, they were trying to get IN. How can this be?

It seems several stores were finally opening their doors to the public, where they had a limited supply of the latest and greatest version of "Air Jordans" in stock. First come, first serve. Every man, woman, and child for themselves. They'll worry about mopping up the blood later.

Silly me. I thought we were in a recession where a lot of people were worried about having a place to live -- along with heat, lights, and something to eat. If those same people will risk life and limb to put out a couple C-notes for a pair of fancy tennis shoes -- then obviously I was wrong.

And somewhere in China, the workers at a shoe factory will smile when they see the same video.

Yeah, the pay over there might not be so hot -- but at least they HAVE jobs.

Don't get me wrong. I like Mike, too. But.....C'MON MAN.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Justin Verlander vs Aaron Rodgers

I didn't even know there WAS such a thing as a "male athlete of the year" award, but I guess it should come as no surprise. After all, you name the vocation --  from custodians, to your local pharmacy or grocery store clerks, teachers, firefighters, cops, a bazillion different varieties of TV stuff, movie stuff, singers, plays, literature, on and on and on, ad nauseum, and even the media themselves that covers all of it -- and there's more hardware being passed out these days than Lowe's and Home Depot combined could move with a 99% off sale. Then again, I never heard of a lawyer or politician of the week/month/year award either. Huh. Go figure. And I surely hope morticians don't give out trophies. That would be cold.

But if somehow these two guys were the finalists for that particular award, then there should have been no doubt whatsoever over the outcome. It's a no-brainer, slam dunk, yours truly playing Lebron head-up in a game of first to 21, getting in the ring with Manny Pacquiao, ever thinking I'll get more respect than Rodney Dangerfield on a bad day -- like that.

Given that both make millions every year, actually play roughly once a week, and likely have the best arms on their team, let's consider some differences.

Aaron Rodgers has to read defenses at the line of scrimmage, and sometimes call audibles changing the entire play. All 10 of his teammates on the field have to adjust. Justin Verlander shakes off a sign from his catcher. It makes little difference to the other 7 fielders.

By necessity, Rodgers has to throw the football all over the field to be successful. Verlander has the same "strike zone" every time.

For that matter -- receivers are moving targets. Home plate is stationary.

Verlander has a variety of different pitches? That's true, but so does Rodgers. He can "drill" it, feather it, lob it, put "air" underneath it, etc.

Verlander always faces a guy standing in the batter's box. He has no obstructions. Most times Rodgers has to find a throwing lane over or around the outstretched arms of rushing defenders. And, by the way, which do you think is easier to throw, much less control? A baseball or a football?

If a play goes wrong for Verlander, he might have to back up the catcher when a throw comes in. If a plays goes wrong for Rodgers, he might be running for his life. Speaking of running.... has anybody ever seen Verlander actually, you know, run?

When Verlander's having a bad day, he'll get sacked by manager Jim Leyland and take a leisurely stroll to the dugout. Sometimes he'll doff his cap. When Rodgers is having a bad day, he'll also get sacked, but have to get back up after rearranging his helmet so he's no longer looking through an earhole. Just a slight difference.

Rodgers gets plays through his earphones, likely from the offensive coordinator. Verlander gets pitches signalled in from the bench to his catcher. Both have the option of changing them. Let's call that a draw, except for how it affects his teammates, which I mentioned above.

During the course of a game, one of them will absorb a lot of contact from behemoths that seek to do him bodily harm before, during, or sometimes after he has thrown the ball. Pads or not, that has to hurt. He will grimace and try to get up. The other's greatest fear would seem to be a batter hitting the ball into the bleachers for a home run. He will scowl and reach for the resin bag, while the only thing that gets hurt is his feelings, or maybe a slight blip on his ERA.

Verlander can throw at an opposing player to try to intimidate them. Sometimes that can be a useful ploy. If Rodgers tries the same tactic, it's called an interception. That's never a good idea.

On that note, despite how formidable the batter may be, Verlander only has to face them one at a time. On an extremely rare occasion, a riled up hitter may charge the mound he stands on.  Both benches will clear and usually no harm results. Verlander would likely be giving interviews about such an incident for several weeks. Rodgers never knows for sure what is coming from the defense until the ball is snapped. It can be anywhere from 3 to 9 guys charging the "pocket" he sits in, and they've all been riled up since before the game even started. This is business as usual for both benches. Rodgers will shrug it off in a post-game interview as another play on another day in the NFL. No big deal.

Verlander garnered a heap of awards this last year, including the American League Cy Young and MVP. Betcha he'd trade all that in in a heartbeat for a "ring" as a world champ. Rodgers? Been there done that -- last year -- also the MVP of the Super Bowl, and favored to win it yet again.

Yet in my humble opinion, these two guys should take silver and bronze at best.

Standing on the podium receiving the gold medal as the The Male Athlete of the Year should be....

Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis player. He blew away top-notch world-wide competition all year long, even to the point where the former #1 ranked player, Rafael Nadal, conceded his greatness.

But alas, he's only a tennis player, and not an American at that, so he probably got little, if any, consideration for such an award.

And that's just wrong.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An apology

As Al, and many others, have since pointed out to me, the whole premise of my last blog post was wrong. While I normally do what I consider to be sufficient research before writing something, that time I missed the obvious.

I suppose I could have deleted the last post and pretended it never happened, but that wouldn't be right, nor could I live with it.  I made a huge mistake and I'll own it. After the last rant about how nobody would be able to drink while the Lions/Chargers game was happening on Christmas day, and the consequences thereof -- it was all wrong, because the game will actually be played on Christmas eve, when no such alcohol rules will apply.

For that -- I offer no excuses, but merely humbly apologize. I messed up. Period.

If that makes me an idiot in some people's eyes -- so be it. It certainly won't be the first time, and likely not the last.

Or, on a positive note, for those that remember, perhaps you can call me Maxwell (not so) Smart.

After all, it was just one day off.

As Agent 86 would have said -- Only missed it by THAT much.

Thanks for holding my feet to the fire, Al and all, when I make such a bone-headed blunder. Believe it or not, I really do appreciate it.

The flip side of the Detroit/San Diego game

It was just announced that game has been sold out. I would certainly hope so. If the Lions couldn't sell out a game that would likely clinch a playoff spot for them, for the first time since the days we were debating a certain stain on a certain blue dress, that involved a certain President -- then they might as well pack that franchise up and move it somewhere else. That also means the game will be on local TV. That's a good thing for many people, but disappointing to others. Why? Bear with me here.

Some have suggested that will be the loudest crowd in the history of Ford Field. Yours truly doesn't think so. Why?

Because it's on Christmas day. Unless the Lions and the NFL get some sort of waiver from Michigan law, that means no beer, no mixed drinks, no alcohol at all will be available in the stadium -- period. If that be the case, whatever the tail-gaters may have chugged in the parking lots before the game will quickly wear off. Sure, there will be the initial adrenaline surge when the contest begins, and it will start out loud, but as the game wears on, those that are used to restoking their own fires at 8 or 10 bucks a pop won't be able to reload. Throw in TV time-outs, team time-outs, coaches' challenges with official reviews, the break between the 1st and 2nd quarters, 20 minutes for halftime, and by the 3rd quarter, playoff berth at stake or not, it might just be interesting to see just how loud, or subdued, that crowd actually becomes.

Let's not forget the vast majority of Lions' fans that won't be in the stadium. They won't have the option of going to their favorite sports bars to hang out with their friends and watch the game on big screens. All those places will be closed. They will get no such waiver. Guaranteed. Hence the disappointment of not only the potential patrons, but all the bar owners, bartenders, waitresses, etc. They would have made big bucks during this game. It appears Santa will be bringing them a lump of coal instead.

Who wins? The party stores on Saturday. People will be loading up to watch the game on the tube the following day. Perhaps, in a small way, the Ford family too, along with their various stadium sponsors.

Considering all the toilets and urinals that may not get flushed this Sunday, their water bill might be considerably lower on Christmas day. HO HO HO.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pandemonium in San Francisco

The terror was evident in the way their eyes flitted back and forth, and their voices quavered while describing the scene. Did the city and people of San Francisco suffer yet another devastating catastrophe? Not exactly. I'm talking about the announcers on Monday Night Football, which featured the Pittsburgh Steelers going up against the home-town 49ers. They sounded scared -- very scared.

It seems the power to the stadium went out about 20 minutes before kickoff, and the talking heads just couldn't wait to sensationalize it.  Here's a few of their comments with a few of my own thrown in......

Well, it IS San Francisco. Maybe it's an earthquake. Could be, but the producers are telling me in my ear that the guys in the press box haven't experienced any serious vibrations.

(Heaven forbid the scribes in the press box might spill some Red Bull or 5-hour energy drink on their laptops. This could be interpreted as a hostile act. Since the wars in the Middle East are dying down, those fun-loving people in the Pentagon are probably itching to bomb somebody somewhere. But who could we blame this on? The closest one would be.... Yeah. Shock and awe Vancouver. That would teach those pesky Canadians a thing or two)

I'm hearing a transformer exploded that was the only source of power to the stadium. We have aerial video of it.

(Yep, there was a major electrical flash, no doubt. But the sole source of power? Such a transformer wouldn't exactly be like the 4 foot tall cannisters we see on utility poles in our neighborhoods. One with the capacity to power an entire stadium would be enormous, and weigh several tons. It wouldn't have mattered if every lineman in the Bay area was within a block of it -- it's not getting changed in 20 minutes, which was how long the power was initially out.)

This is one of the oldest stadiums, which probably makes it more susceptible to the forces of nature.

(Um... guys. Those tectonic plates underneath you right now have been there for thousands of years, and I'm pretty sure if they decide to move in a violent fashion, they won't care if the stadium was built yesterday)

The only lights I see are flashes from cell phones and cigarette lighters.

(Look closer, fellas. You missed two things. First, the advertising signs ringing the stadium at club level never even blinked. Obviously, they have some sort of back-up power supply. If you consider the guys in the press box non-expendable -- those signs are sacred. It's the money thing -- ya know? Second, look even closer. See those tiny little orange flares, right next to the cigarette lighters that seem to be going on and off? Well gee. It's an open-air stadium, everybody's partying, the lights just went off, and it's San Francisco. I wonder what that phenomenon could possibly be? If the pilots of the blimp or helicopter had their windows open, I'd bet they could tell you)

Power was quickly restored and the game began. Then, barely into the 2nd quarter, power went out again. Jon Gruden, one of the announcers, and a former NFL head coach himself, was asked what he would do if he were one of the head coaches on the field. Gruden replied that he would take his team into the locker room, pretend it was halftime, make adjustments, and, above all,  TRY NOT TO PANIC.

(Thank you Jon. That was very helpful. We can always count on you to be the soothing voice of reason)

The power was restored again within a few minutes. During the short outage, the teams and coaching staffs nonchalantly milled about on the field, chatting here and there. Unlike the talking heads, the fans had remained calm throughout both outages, but mysteriously, when the lights came back up, and the network cameras could "see" again, those little orange flares disappeared. Go figure.

I sure am glad all the initial hype turned out to be false. San Francisco's a really cool town, and I highly recommend it to visit. (Sign up early for the Alcatraz tour, and spend the extra few bucks for the headphones -- it's a memorable experience). But there's a couple other things of even more importance.

Vancouver was spared.

(It's OK Jon. You can come out of the locker room now)

And the most obvious thing all the 4-letter network talking heads missed while the lights were going on and off in that stadium?

Maybe it's called Candlestick Park for a reason. Doh.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Detroit Lions and the Wizard of Oz

Remember Margaret Hamilton? I'll get back to that.

It's another crazy week in the NFL. The undefeated Packers -- lost -- to Kansas City, of all things. The surviving members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team can breath another sign of relief. Their record is safe for at least one more year. The winless Colts -- won.

Meanwhile, the Lions seem be strolling happily down the yellow brick road, oblivious to the carnage all around them. Let's call them Dorothy.

In the NFC, where the Lions reside, it's all but a given that the Packers will be division champions in the North, the 49ers in the West, and the Saints in the South. The only question seems to lie in the NFC East. Somebody has to win it, but who?

The Atlanta Falcons look to have one wild card spot, but not so fast there either. They have to go to New Orleans next week, where Drew Brees is quickly closing in on Dan Marino's single-season, all-time passing yards mark. Not exactly an easy place to play. And consider Detroit's competition for the other. Tom Coughlin and the NY Giants losing to the Redskins could be likened to the Scarecrow playing with fire one too many times.

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys? Week to week -- who knows what team will show up? After handling the absolutely terrible Tampa Bay Bucs on the road, they host the Philadelphia Eagles, never a pushover despite their record, then have to go to NY against the Giants the following week, and the Giants recently beat them in their own backyard. Hard to say what will happen with such intense division rivalry games. When the smoke clears, if they finish with the same record as the Lions, the Lions hold the tie-breaker, having defeated the Cowboys head-to-head. For no other reason than Jerry Jones yapping all the time, let's call them Toto.

The Chicago Bears are the Tin Man. Without Jay Cutler, out with a broken thumb, and Matt Forte, sidelined with a leg injury, they don't seem to have a heart. Lions' fans might say, "Wait a minute, Leach, our running backs have been decimated with injuries". That's true, but none amongst them was anywhere near the dominant force Forte was. On top of that, Da Bears were primarily a rushing team, while the Lions are pass-happy. Try deleting Calvin Johnson from the equation, where opposing defenders can focus more evenly on their other mediocre receivers, and things might look a lot different these days. In a way, it's ironic that QB Matthew Stafford of the Lions, who seemed to be quite fragile, has stayed relatively healthy this year, while Cutler absorbed beating after beating, and always getting up, wound up side-lined with a freak injury to his throwing hand.

The Cowardly Lion? Well, there WAS that stomping incident, amongst other bits of mayhem that the guy still doesn't want to own up to. Even at that, his 2 game suspension couldn't have come at a better time for the Lions. Chances are, they weren't going to beat New Orleans on the road, with or without him. Conversely, the Lions were heavy favorites to dispatch the woeful Minnesota Vikings, at home, again, with or without him. Perhaps Roger Goodell got it wrong with the suspension anyway. A better punishment would have mandated he play those 2 games -- but in sparkling red slippers, and every time he didn't click his heels together 3 times before a play -- fine him 10 grand. Now THAT would have got his attention, not to mention ours.

Then the Lions had to go to Oakland, to face the Raiders, historically considered The Wicked Witch of the West. That role was played by Margaret Hamilton in the original movie, by the way. And what happened? Trailing late in the game, with no time-outs, and needing a touchdown to win, Stafford threw up another prayer to the aforementioned Calvin Johnson, and it was answered -- again. Throw in a pass interference call on an ensuing play, and this was no "drive", ala John Elway -- it was dumb luck -- perhaps bordering on Divine Intervention.  Does the name Tebow come to mind?  He gets mentioned later in this column. Game over? Not quite. In the remaining seconds, the Raiders had a chance to kick a field goal to win it. Granted, it would have been 65 yards, a new NFL record, but their kicker Sebastian Janikowski, co-owner of the existing record of 63 yards, is generally regarded as long having had one of the strongest legs the league has even seen. He could get it there. We'll never know if the kick would have been successful because, alas, it was barely tipped by the "thumb" of -- none other than the Cowardly Lion. Hmmm. These recurring subplots are getting confusing. At any rate, ding-dong, the Wicked Witch is dead, and Dorothy merrily skips down the yellow brick road for a few more miles.

San Diego comes to Detroit next week. Like the Cowboys, they're another team that probably gets the odds-makers in Vegas running for their Xanax. Some weeks they're super-charged, as evidenced by quothing the Baltimore Ravens "nevermore" in a beatdown today, one of the best games they've played in many years. Other weeks, they look more like AAA battery chargers. Not much juice. Prediction? After a high like that, they're due for a letdown when they hit Detroit.

After that, the Lions will finally reach the end of the regular-season road, and, considering the team color there, arrive in Emerald City, Green Bay. Yet, they caught still another break. The Packers welcome the Bears next week, where they'll likely take out their frustrations over this week's loss, thereby sewing up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. When Dorothy arrives the following week, the Packers won't have much to play for. A few reps for the starters to stay sharp, while minimizing the chances of any significant injury, would seem to be a probable scenario. Though the Lions haven't won there in a very long time, what better chance than when they're playing against the other team's "subs"?

It's like the Lions have a guardian angel looking over them this year. An anti-Murphy's Law aura, if you please. Everything that can go right -- WILL go right. If anybody should be giving prayers of thanks, recently labelled "Tebowing", it's the Lions. (On that subject, there was no 4th quarter magic in Denver this week. Not sure, but it might have had something to do with Tom Brady and Co. being in town, and we all know what heathens Bill Bellichick and those dastardly Patriots are -- the Wicked Witches of the East).

So yes, like the 1939 classic, Dorothy will finally get to meet the Wizard, AKA the playoffs. Nobody seems to have considered what comes next. Let's remember, the Wizard's powers were not what Dorothy thought them to be. After making them all collectively feel good about themselves -- what did the Wizard ultimately do?

Quickly sent them home to Auntie Em, currently known as Martin Mayhew. Throw in Mariucci, Mike Marotz, Matt Millen, Marty Mornhinweg, etc., and it doesn't get anymore "emmish" than that. That's ancient history, you say, because everything's changed? Perhaps, but consider some other comparisons to the movie. Like the Lions, the film is shown on TV every year too. The Lions haven't won a championship in over 50 years. In fact, during all that time, they've never even played in a game to GET to the Super Bowl, much less win it. Over 70 years later, The Wizard of Oz still never won the Oscar for best picture, but at least it was runner-up, and no matter how many times you watch it and hope it ends differently --  well --  there's a word for people like that.

The movie that won the Oscar that year was Gone With the Wind, which yours truly thinks is going to be exactly what happens to the Lions when they get to the playoffs. Many will disagree with that assessment, but like Rhett Butler said -- frankly, I don't give a damn.

It's always been one of my favorite songs, but the bluebirds from Detroit aren't quite capable of flying somewhere over the rainbow just yet.

Sorry about the bump on your head that's coming, but you're not in Kansas City anymore, Dorothy.

These guys are good. Wait a minute. That was Michael Jordan. How did HE get into this?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Barry Bonds revisited

After all of that, 8 years worth of federal prosecutors spending untold millions of tax-payer dollars trying to nail a guy for something that wasn't even illegal in the first place, at the time of the alleged offenses, the best they could do was come away with some minor obstruction of justice conviction. Did they succeed in ruining his reputation in the court of public opinion? Absolutely, but they don't care. And let's not forget, Bonds may never make it into the Hall of Fame because of the steroids allegations, but the jury, after supposedly hearing all the evidence, concluded he didn't do it.

For those that may think yours truly is sticking up for Bonds -- I'm not. Other than appreciating him as a tremendous baseball talent for many years (and even the most skeptical amongst you would have to admit that before steroids even came on the scene, Bonds was a phenomenal player), he was just another guy making millions of dollars for playing baseball very well -- especially hitting one.

And in the end, what did all this hoopla amount to? A sentence of 30 days of house arrest and about a week of community service. Probation? That's been a joke for people with means for a long time.

At that, consider even the 30 days of house arrest. Bonds reportedly lives in a 15,000 square foot home. Do you have any idea how big that is? Think Jed Clampett's place in Beverly Hills, cee-ment pond and all -- then add a couple additions onto the house, and you're getting warmer. Staying cooped up in there for a month is punishment?  Where do I sign up?

But it gets even better -- or worse -- depending on how one looks at it. Bonds and his attorneys are appealing even THAT sentence. Legal experts predict it will take approximately a year and a half for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, to rule on the matter. In the meanwhile, everything is on hold, except more taxpayer dollars, while the feds scramble around trying to salvage a little face trying to uphold a cup of water victory in a tsunami to begin with.

It only seems logical to me that, despite one's tenacity and will to win, if they've taken a beating every time they've faced a certain opponent, for 8 years and counting -- they might just want to think about putting somebody else on their schedule. It's not like these were mandatory games to be played, such as certain rivalries in sports.

Like the man said -- There's a time to hold-em and a time to fold-em. Thing is, when one's playing with other peoples' money, with an unlimited budget, and never having to worry about being held responsible for poor play, one could conceivably sit at the table for a very long time, while losing a fortune in the process.

On the same note, there comes a time to walk away when the game is done.

It's over. Like it or not, it's Barry Bonds 1. Feds 0. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether the latter is stubborn enough to waste a few more million taxpayer dollars over the next year and a half to accomplish exactly --  what? Making a guy stay in a mansion for a month? If they wanted to be totally barbaric about the whole matter, maybe they could even ask the appellate court to ban pizza deliveries. Of course, such an action might be tantamount to a violation of Bonds' 8th Amendment rights, involving cruel and unusual punishment. That would likely be appealed yet again to a higher court. Perhaps the prosecutors would plea bargain it down to pepperoni only, no double cheese, and claim another victory. Too bad for the taxpayers, cha-ching, but a win is a win. This is getting ridiculous.

They'll get around to Roger Clemens eventually. Hang on to your wallets and purses.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sam Hurd, and a lot of dope

Recently, Sam Hurd, a former wide-receiver for the Chicago Bears (he was cut following the allegations) was alleged to have been trying to procure a large amount of illegal substances. Namely, several kilos of cocaine and 1000 pounds of marijuana, PER WEEK. By no means discounting the cocaine facet of this, if true, let's just consider the marijuana implications.

Yours truly doesn't even partake of marijuana, nor any other drugs, let alone profess to be any sort of expert on the subject, but a couple things would seem to be matters of common sense, while others make no sense at all.

First, marijuana, like alcohol, comes in a lot of different varieties. What kind of seed was planted in the first place, soil conditions, heat, moisture, and how it's harvested likely make a big difference in the potency of the final product. It might be likened to the "proof" on a bottle of gin or vodka. As a clear liquid, it all looks the same, but some have more "kick" than others. This is reflected in the price. If you want the "good stuff", it will cost you more. From this, one could infer that anybody interested in 1000 pounds of cannabis per week probably wouldn't want the "cheap stuff". In other words, again like alcohol, the commodity in question would likely be of the variety that produced the "desired result", with smaller consumption by the end-user, as in -- a couple shots of 150 proof liquor will get one to the same place as 4 or 5 shots of the cheap stuff will. Translation? 1000 pounds of high-quality marijuana equals untold legions of people getting high, even repeatedly.

Similarly, even assuming one had the connections and financial wherewithal to make such an initial purchase, both of which would be considerable, what does one do with 1000 lbs. of marijuana a week? Regardless of the size of the "joints" -- that's a whole lot of weed.

If Hurd did this, who did he plan on selling it to? His former NFL brethren? Highly unlikely. They get tested for such things. Needless to say, there's a guy named Roger Goodell that sits in a NY office who would frown on postive tests results coming back -- to say the least. Even if they didn't, they couldn't possibly smoke THAT much dope, so that can't be it.

1000 pounds a week? That's probably enough to keep the whole city of Chicago perpetually stoned, even assuming the entire population all smoked the stuff, which I highly doubt.

So how can this be? Hurd was a player for the Chicago Bears. Even if he aspired to be some sort of one man drug cartel, did he really think he could move that amount of drugs on a regular basis without the authorities picking up the scent, no pun intended?

This whole mess has a very bad odor to it. Worse than week-old fish, or even a den of skunks coming under attack.

I smell a fall guy.....

Either that, or the biggest dope of all is him.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The most interesting man in the world? Me

How do I know this? Because while watching the 4-letter network, it seems they've brought back the old commercials about who's supposed to be the most interesting man in the world. No, not Barry Melrose, the hockey guy. They tried that, but it didn't work. No matter how much he huffs and puffs to the contrary, the NHL isn't blowing anybody's house down until the playoffs start. Besides, for pure entertainment value, who would you rather see? Him or Don Cherry? Case closed.

You know who I'm talking about. That guy with the slobbery lips advertising a brand of beer. I've got it all over him.

He got pushed out of an airplane in a kayak into a frozen river far below? Big deal. I once won the Iditerod in Alaska, pulling the sled by myself, while the dogs sat in the sleigh.

He bowls overhand? Excuse me for not being impressed. When he can win the Indy 500, like I did, while driving the entire race blindfolded, maybe I'll let him buy me dinner.

His words carry weight? So what. A lot of things carry weight. Like semis, fork lift trucks, or pregnant women. Besides, I once gave Shaq a piggy-back ride from NY to LA, just to save him plane fare. Talk about a load.

He has some sort of bobcat in his kitchen that actually obeys his commands? Sorry, that doesn't get it. I used to have a ferocious feline running around here, that occasionally passed through the kitchen, but it didn't obey ANYTHING. I believe the proper term is "ex". And claw for claw, I'd match her against that 4-legged critter any time.

In the end, how do I know I'm way ahead of this guy when it comes to being the most interesting man in the world?

Simple. Like the man says, I don't always drink beer either, but when I do, it won't be with flat-chested women sporting moronic smiles.

All of that junk is a bunch of phony-baloney hype. You'll get nothing but the truth here.

Well, most of the time.

Stay reading, my friends.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mikhail Prokhorov and.....Ernest Borgnine?

For Americans that don't recognize that name, Prokhorow is a 46 year old Russian citizen, born in Moscow, and an entrepreneur that made his fortune is the precious metals sector. Starting with nickel, and moving on to gold, he amassed an incredible amount of money through shrewd business decisions. Forbes magazine has him as the 32nd richest person in the world, worth an estimated $18 billion dollars.

He also just happened to buy the New Jersey Nets of the NBA a while back. Yours truly has no idea why he'd want to do that, but considering the man stands 6 foot 8, if he wanted to become involved with American sports, what would you expect him to invest in -- little league?  Midget wrestling?

So now we delve into the world of sports and politics. Don't tell me they don't mix, because if you do, I'll remind you of something called the Sherman Anti-Trust Act that some American professional sports leagues are granted an exemption to, otherwise they would cease to exist, or at the very least look vastly different than they do now. And let's not forget about all those Congressional hearings when high ranking politicians hauled pro athletes to Washington DC, to testify about the steroids snafu.

Recently, Prokhorov declared his intent to seek the Presidency of Russia in their elections coming up next year. Very few in America batted an eye. Yet, can you imagine the political fall-out if wannabes such as Newt, Mitt, Michelle, Ron, or Rick, decided to buy a sports team in Russia? As is their way, the collective media would go berserk, the talking heads into hyper-drive, and it might well result in the largest headlines from the newspapers since John F. Kennedy got assassinated in Dallas. Certainly the tea-partiers would spontaneously combust.

My guess is, the good people of Russia would frown on it as well. And, of course, the TV show 60 Minutes would do an in-depth piece on somebody. If it got to the point where it had world-wide ramifications, then the heavyweights would have to step in. Like Larry King or Wolf Blitzer. Perhaps the only bigger news splash than that would be if the Nets actually won the championship. That might call for Barbara Walters, or at least Bob Costas.

Thing is, Prokhorov has little chance of becoming President. Why? Because he has to collect a few million signatures to even qualify to be on the ballot. And guess who's in charge of the people that oversee the validity of those signatures? Yep, Vladimir Putin. The ex-KGB guy that is also running -- again. Good luck with that, Mr. Prokhorov.

There's some not so strange parallels to be drawn here. Putin originally came to power on the mantra of saying super-rich people shouldn't be in charge. But consider: Money in and of itself is worthless. It's what it can buy that matters. Beyond lavish lifestyles it can turn into power. Yet, if one already has enough power to get whatever they want with the snap of a finger or the bark or an order -- then money becomes irrelevant, especially when the costs of doing business are already being taken from the commoners. I'm sure glad the concept of the rich controlling everything, while the middle-class is systematically eradicated and the poor get even poorer could never happen in this country. Right.

Sound familiar?

Did you know Moscow is the home of more billionaires than any other city on the planet? Forbes says Prokhorov checks in at #3 for the richest guy in town. That puts him right up there with people named Donald and Oprah.

There can be no doubt that Mikhail Prokhorov is an extremely intelligent man, but it leaves one to wonder.....

Why the New Jersey Nets? Why not the Yankees? I dare say America's had it's fill of the Steinbrenners. How about the Dallas Cowboys? Prokhorov could probably buy and sell Jerry Jones any time he got ready. The LA Lakers? Not so sure. Depends on how Jerry Buss has been doing in his high-stakes poker games. The Boston Celtics? Even blue-bloods have their price. It would appear with that sort of fortune he could have bought just about any team he wanted to. Except one.

While Mr. Prokhorov may be used to the climate, it wouldn't matter HOW much money he had. It would be wise of him to stay far away from Green Bay, and their beloved Packers. Some things just aren't for sale.

Maybe there's a bright side to this. As we all know, owners of professional sports franchises in America have been known to relocate their teams to another city over the years, for one reason or another. The list is long.

Perhaps Mr. Prokhorov might consider moving the Nets to Siberia. People from New York, the largest sports market in the world, would love it. Also, most Americans wouldn't even notice -- or care. It would definitely have the advantage of exposing the other teams to a different culture when they travelled there on road trips -- always a good thing.

Question. I know they wear mitts there, but are there any newts in Siberia?

But there's another issue that may have escaped the attention of many. If somehow Prokhorov pulls an "upset" and wins the Presidency of Russia, he would be commander-in-chief of their military. That means he would oversee Russia's vast array of sea forces. So correct me if I'm wrong, but would they then be referred to as, yikes, Mikhail's Navy?

This just keeps getting better.........

Sidney Crosby

NHL fans know that Sid the Kid is a superstar and captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Some may disagree, but it could be argued Crosby has Gretzky-ish abilities on the ice. Like Gretzky, it's seemingly magical what he can do with the puck at times. Now you see it, now you don't, and the next thing -- it's in the net.

Also like Gretzky, Crosby's doesn't possess an imposing physical presence, being merely of average height and actually somewhat slim of build. Some NHL players make their livings crashing into the boards with opposing players, others standing in front of the net attempting to create a blind spot for the goalie, and hoping to get a deflection of a shot. Sadly, still others get paid very well to be "enforcers".

Even though he's 24 now, Crosby was identified many years ago by scouts as one of those "freaks" that only come along every few decades. His skill level was off the charts. Yes, he's made a lot of money and even hoisted the Stanley Cup, but there's something much more important. Head injuries.

Crosby's suffered a couple of severe concussions, the last one putting him out of action for 10 months. Remember, as a professional player, particularly of his stature, Crosby undoubtedly was subjected to untold batteries of the highest technological diagnostic procedures and best doctors in the world, to monitor his condition. First he was medically cleared to skate, then limited no-contact practice, then full-contact practice -- amongst his own teammates --  then the real deal going back up against other NHL teams. Everyone seems to forget -- 10 months is a very long time when it comes to getting over a "concussion". Something never seemed right about this....

Recently, Crosby had what looked to be an innocent body-to-body collision, with one of his own teammates, of all things, and now he's back out again, with some recurring "post-concussion" symptoms. This is a very scary thing.

Sid's playing it down, saying he knows where he was before, and it's "not like that", but it's hard to believe. If it was simply something minor, like a headache, he wouldn't take himself out of action. Further, how much could he even know about what happened before? He was knocked into never-never land on the ice. When he eventually came to his senses and thinking rationally is anybody's guess. Even the doctors don't profess to know that. Despite which team you may root for, compassion dictates that we all hope Crosby fully recovers from what currently ails him, and goes on to a long and spectacular career in the NHL.

One more comparison to Gretzky. For whatever reason, Wayne never seemed to absorb the "monster hit", especially to the head. Was he craftier? Better anticipation or peripheral vision? Knew when to hold em, knew when to fold em, and knew when to skate away? I don't know, but all sports fans should sit up and pay attention to what's happening with Sid the Kid these days -- for a lot of different reasons. Some biased hockey team reporters might note how Crosby's absence gives their home team an advantage over an upcoming contest with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they're missing the bigger picture. It's supposed to be about playing against the other team's best.

The hockey purists will say -- stuff happens during the course of a game. It's just the way it goes. Whatever it takes to win. I used to believe that, but times have changed, and so has my opinion.

Get in great shape. Do your homework. Practice hard and play harder. Strive to be the best you can be.

But dammit, there's more important things in life than winning a game, a trophy, a ring, and being in a parade, no matter what it takes.

Ask Sidney. Even at the tender age of 24, I suspect he's starting to comprehend that.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tim Tebow

Tebow may or may not be a lot of things, but it's surely safe to say he's captured national attention. This guy's getting more ink and sound bytes than President Obama and all his potential Republican challengers combined. Yet, much like politicians, nobody seems to be able to quite put their finger on exactly just what it is they're seeing with Tebow.

Obviously, he was a tremendously successful QB at the Univ of Florida, not only winning the Heisman trophy, but leading them to 2 national titles in his tenure there. Some said the NFL gurus would not be interested in him as a QB, because he didn't "fit the mold", whatever that is. It appears they were mistaken.

Consider the Denver Broncos -- Tebow's team. They swapped Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton of the Chicago Bears a while back. That turned out to be a pretty bad trade for football in Denver, except for Tebow. Unfortunately, Cutler suffered a broken thumb a couple weeks ago, but he'd turned into quite the leader for the Bears. Orton eventually fell off the radar. Enter Tebow.

Sure, the Detroit Lions came to town and spanked the Broncos, but Tebow was brand new as a starting QB. Since then he has 10 passing TDs, 2 interceptions, and a couple rushing touchdowns. He's not putting up gawdy numbers ala Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers, but other than Rodgers and the Packers -- guess what -- nobody has a better winning percentage over that time. In the NFL, isn't that what counts?

Still, people doubt him. He's winning ugly, they say. Maybe so. Bobby Layne won ugly. Fran Tarkenton and Joe Capp won ugly. Ken Stabler and Trent Dilfer won ugly. And there's a lot of QBs that just flat-out WERE ugly.

Tebow seems to experience some sort of epiphany during the course of his games. During the first 3 quarters, he's usually terrible. Then somehow, miraculously, he becomes unstoppable when the 4th quarter starts. Surely this has a lot to do with the Broncos' defense keeping the game within reach for the first 3 periods, but still, there's something very magical about it. Divine providence? Beats me, but it seems to work.

Still, the nay-sayers persist. Some have even questioned the validity of his religious beliefs. Did you know he was born in the Phillipines, where his parents were serving as missionaries?

Recently, someone pointed out that Tebow doesn't even go to church during the season. That's asinine. First, considering the NFL plays on the Sabbath, what's the guy supposed to do? Second, why is a church necessary? If one has "faith", and I do, believe it or not, one should be able to sit home and read scripture, pray directly to the Almighty, and attempt to live one's life accordingly, to the best of their ability. Who needs a middle-man with the inevitable "offering plate"? And, by the way, who preaches to the preachers? You won't see them going to other houses of worship and donating money. They all seem to think they have a hot-line to God. Yet, somehow, Tebow is criticized for this.

In the end, I have no idea how Tebow's NFL career will pan out, but I certainly wish him Godspeed in his endeavors, wherever they make take him.

Even if fate strikes a cruel blow and he suffers a career-ending injury in his very next game, he'll be just fine.

Because he's the real deal. He gets it. Just a humble man trying to make the best of the abilities he was blessed with.

Now, if only some others could start seeing that.....

A Lions update -- and downgrade

Nobody knows what's going to happen on any given Sunday in the NFL. Sure, the very knowledgeable Vegas wise-guys can set their point spreads, but I doubt any of them predicted after the first 5 weeks of the season both the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills would be undefeated. And honestly, who would have ever thought, Peyton or no Peyton, that the Indy Colts would be 0-13? Since then, the Bills have taken a hard left into Lake Erie, and the Lions, while barely hanging on to a playoff possibility, have gone from being a national Cinderella team, to being despised by all but their hard-core local fans, and under a microscope, all through their own antics. Their motto seems to be -- the bigger the stage -- the more we goon it up. While that may be a recipe for success in the various venues of mixed-martial arts and caged octagons, it does not bode well in the NFL, let alone the court of public opinion.

At that, look at what the Lions have become. On their own home field against the Minnesota Vikings, a team that was 2-10 coming in, down to 2nd and 3rd string quarterbacks, and without their star running back, Adrian Petersen, they almost lost the game at the end. If the refs had seen the obvious face mask penalty against the Minnesota QB on the final play of the game -- front and center on internet pix right about now -- they might very well have lost it. Gunther Cunningham, the Lions' defensive coordinator, a few weeks ago hailed as some sort of genius, was reduced to muttering and mumbling throughout most of the second half. He didn't seem to have a clue. Maybe Lions fans have forgotten there's a reason this guy has been bounced around the league for decades, never having achieved much success. It's the good ole boys network. Once you're in, you STAY in. How else to explain some of the colossal failures that have been fired by one team only to go elsewhere for another high paying gig?

Thing is, the Oakland Raiders, still very much in the playoff hunt themselves, just got a severe beatdown on national TV by the Packers at Lambeau Field. Yours truly thinks there's a pretty good chance that embarrassment will very shortly turn into being pissed. Next Sunday, they play at home in front of their beloved "Raider Nation", all the black and silver maniacs, likely with their playoff lives on the line. And guess who's coming to town?  Matthew, Calvin, and a boy named Suh, fresh off his suspension.

If the Lions want to goon it up in Oakland -- well -- good luck with that.

I think they're going down. Maybe they beat the Chargers at home the following week. Maybe. Depends if Philip Rivers is having a good day or not.

The last week at Lambeau?

If Lions' fans are counting on that one, they should ditch the Kool-Aid and start pounding down shots of tequila. It won't change the outcome of the game, but at least they won't care.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Signs of the Apocalypse

Everything's gone crazy.

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, the freshly crowned MVP of the National League, appears to have tested positive for some sort of performance enhancing drugs, before that trophy even had enough time to gather a little dust. He might be facing a mandatory 50 game suspension. But wait, it seems this test result was known to be positive about a month before the regular season ended -- as in maybe September. So somebody tell me why he was allowed to participate in the playoffs, get voted the MVP, do the talk show circuit, and he hailed as an all-around hero, if they knew this 3 months ago?

The people we once trusted the most with our children, such as certain priests, teachers, and athletic coaches, collectively seem to have a few amongst them that have allegedly turned into child-molesting monsters. What's next? Day care? The babysitter? Grandma? Brrr.

Think Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions or James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a thug? Maybe you missed the basketball game between Cincinnati and Xavier. Towards the end of that game, it wasn't two NCAA Division 1 teams with a neighborhood rivalry, ala North Carolina and Duke, it was more like the Cripps and the Bloods in a meth lab. The Xavier team is called the Musketeers. Would it be a stretch to say that name originated from the original Three Musketeers? The candy bar is pretty tasty, but that literary trio of yore were known for their motto:  "all for one, and one for all." I don't seem to remember Athos, Porthos, and Aramis leading a jail break, gone horribly wrong. If you find something tasty about that, may I suggest you stop reading Dumas and instead sink your teeth into Anne Rice or Bram Stoker?

Normally, after such an incident, post-game press conferences are a forum where the players that were involved can be contrite, and at least reflect on possible wrong-doing. Not a certain player from Xavier. He wanted to talk about being dissed before the game, how his team consisted of a bunch of "gangstas", and even how their objective was to come out and "zip-up" the opposing team -- evidently a reference to a body bag. Jerry Springer, that loveable trailer trash rabble rouser, baggage and all, hails from Cincinnati. If you thought Pete Rose betting on baseball was bad -- well -- this is getting ridiculous. What IS it with that city anyway?

The presidents of those universities should haul their respective head coaches into their offices, complete with film of the incident, review it, and ask both coaches why they shouldn't be fired on the spot.

Talk about "lack of institutional control". Some of those players looked like they BELONGED in an institution.

Break down the film, and the main culprits have to go. No, not be suspended. Scholarships revoked and booted out of the universities. Bye. See ya. Go back to the 'hood because we don't want you here no mo.

But how do I really know everything's gone crazy?

If you believe the NFL Sunday-night game commercials, Santa Claus has ditched his sleigh and is now driving a Mercedes-Benz. Should we leave a Deutschmark in our Christmas stockings?

Better yet, Hyundai, a South Korean car company, is advertising Feliz Navidad. I'm not sure what they want us to buy. A Kia or a kilo.

Friday, December 9, 2011

David Stern needs to go. NOW

This guy's turned into a joke with a bad punch line.

At the risk of incurring the self-righteous wrath of those that object to such words as "bald", "fat", and perhaps "flat" --  known in their world as follicly, nutritionally, or mammarily challenged, I'm saying Stern is short. I won't refer to him as being a midget, dwarf, pee-wee, or sawed-off little runt, because I might get in trouble for that. But you'd think the NBA, a league whose players average somewhere around 6' 6" could have found a guy just a tad taller to be the boss -- ya know? Some people say Stern's 6'1", but only looks small compared to the players when he's standing next to them. I could buy that if those players were somewhere between 8 and 9 feet tall. They're not, and when Stern barely stands above their waist.....  well, do the math.

So OK, I was politically incorrect in mentioning physical attributes, or lack thereof. Feel free to tear me up with comments or email my boss, the sports editor, about what an insensitive jerk I am. Maybe, like Ndahmukong Suh, he'll give me a 2 week suspension for foul play. Works for me. I could use a break.

Anyway, back to Stern. Isn't this the same guy that, if his and the NBA owners' "final offer" wasn't accepted by the NBA players' union, stated a "nuclear winter" would surely come upon us?

Living in Michigan, I always thought, hell, this is old news. It's already happened.


People have fled the state in droves for a better climate, business or otherwise. The Big 3 automakers, what's left of them, and once the driving force of Michigan, have slashed their hourly wages in half. Unemployment remains at near record highs. If one's lucky enough to get a job, ANY job, chances are one's eyes and ears will resemble those of Helen Keller, and one's teeth those of the mountain men in the movie Deliverance, while praying some sort of medical coverage may eventually come their way. Crime's running rampant, people are having to choose between needed medicine and food, and our legislators and governor (ever hear of a poor politician? -- not me) have decided, in their infinite wisdom, to tax the elderly people on fixed incomes, rather than themselves.

So bring on the nuclear winter, Mr. Stern. Some of us in Michigan will take our chances. At least radiation brings a little heat. Maybe it will cut down on our gas and electric bills that are skyrocketing when common folks can least afford it.

We don't have much to lose any more.

And if you get a chance, throw a few gamma rays the Pistons' way.

Couldn't hurt.

Oh yeah. One more thing. The NBA assumed ownership of the New Orleans Hornets a while back. Maybe that had to do with the former owner(s) making bad business decisions, or not being able to find a buyer in the end. I don't know. Presumably, NBA ownership consists of all the other owners in a joint venture, along with the league office.

So, when the Hornets put together a trade involving All-Star guard Chris Paul, one would logically assume the powers that be in the NBA offered this up in the first place. Then somehow those same powers vetoed their own trade. How could that be?

I smell David Stern again. He wants to cancel everything except his own salary.

For the good of the game, for the good of the owners, for the good of the players, for the good of the fans, and even for the good of common sense -- he needs to go. NOW


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ndahmukong Suh. A conspiracy theory

Why not? If some people can still talk about the last time they spotted Elvis on a tropical island, their latest contact with extra-terrestrials, who was really on the "grassy knoll" in Dallas on 11/22/63, and whether Dolly Parton's breasts were the original inspiration for modern-day satellite TV dishes, then I can talk about a car accident Ndahumong Suh had last Saturday.

According to news reports, it happened in Portland, Or. After being suspended for 2 weeks by the NFL for his head-grinding, arm-stomping hoedown on Thanksgiving day against the Green Bay Packers, Suh isn't allowed anywhere near the Lions facilities. So what's a guy to do with a couple weeks off?

Well, this is America, and he's not in prison or on parole. Probation maybe. Nevertheless, he can go wherever he wants to. Turns out, before he made his claim to fame at the University of Nebraska, he had roots in Portland, family and all, even graduating from high school there. In times of duress, a lot of people go back "home", hoping to find comfort, peace of mind, and perhaps protection from those they perceive are causing them to be under duress in the first place -- just to get away from things. That makes sense.

What doesn't make sense is the car accident -- hence the conspiracy theory.

Though the story keeps changing, let's see what we think we know. For some reason, Suh lost control of his vehicle, jumped a curb, hit some sort of water fountain, a light pole, and finally a tree. Now, I don't know how the cops operate in Portland, but if any of us did that in Michigan, let alone Oakland County, yours truly says to the same probability that it's going to get dark tomorrow night, we'd be getting a ticket for something. Suh was not cited. For anything.

Add up and digest the following:

Initial reports suggested--

Suh was alone in vehicle. Turns out he was not. There were 2 ladies as passengers, who fled the scene before the cops arrived. Is it a crime for passengers to flee the scene of an accident -- in Portland? I don't know. And, by the way, why would they run?

Once the threesome was established, perhaps by Suh himself, upon being questioned by authorities, further reports said there were no injuries. That turned out to be false, because a couple days later those same ladies showed back up complaining of various ailments caused by the accident.

Alcohol was deemed not to be a factor. The possibility of Suh just falling asleep at the wheel has never been suggested. It seems safe to assume a serious medical "incident", such as a heart attack, stroke, or any other immediately disabling condition caused what happened, because if it did, Suh would have been immediately transported to a hospital, and that news would have gone viral within minutes. So that didn't happen.

Was Suh under the influence of drugs? Highly unlikely. He's already under a microscope for some of his previous actions on the field. Even if the Portland people didn't test, to get caught doing that, at this time, might well spell the end of his career. Can you imagine what Roger Goodell would have to say about that?

So what do we have here? Suh was most likely clean and sober, in his home town, with a couple ladies in the vehicle, that took off when the accident happened, but returned later claiming injuries. I doubt anyone would argue those ladies didn't know who he was, including not only that he's a multi-millionaire, but given his current tenuous career situation, certainly wouldn't want some sensational scandal to be splashed all over the media. And remember, the ladies didn't get tested either, for who knows what? They had a couple days to mull this over.

What could possibly cause a testosterone-loaded, young, virile alpha-male to completely lose control of his vehicle under such apparently benign circumstances?

It might have had something to do with a service one, or both, of those ladies was providing to Suh going down the road. That would explain a lot of things. A different interpretation of the word "hoedown"?

Use your imagination.

Or just chalk it up to another conspiracy theory.

Revisiting the Walled Lake Western affair

The following is based on a recent news report, and expresses some observations based on that report, and others which preceded it. Indeed, as the situation appears to be fluent, these observations may or may not turn out to have any basis in fact. Like everything else that ever has, or ever will appear in this blog, it is merely an opinion and should be regarded as such -- and no more.

To anybody that cares to do so, you can read what yours truly initially wrote, way back on Oct. 26, a few days after the alleged hazing occurred. Go to the right side of the screen, scroll down, and click on October posts.

Back to the present. I don't know whether to feel sadness or outrage, but something is REALLY REALLY wrong here. Let's take a hard look at a few things -- then -- and now.

Then, we were led to believe some outrageous act had occurred. An unfortunate boy had been tied to a pole, mouth taped shut, and was beaten with pillows and sticks, against his will. Now, it comes out that the "victim" himself has said all along it was just "fooling around" -- no problem. This, from the Chief Assistant Prosecutor (CAP), one Paul Walton himself.  On top of that, it turns out it wasn't sticks -- it was pool noodles, those hollow foam rubber things toddlers use to stay afloat while they're trying to learn how to swim.

Then, it was insinuated the victim had been beaten around the face. Visions of contusions, black eyes, split lips, and perhaps worse, were conjured up. Now, it appears none of that happened.

Then, it was widely reported, a week later, the victim went to the hospital with possible post-concussion syndrome, which seems to be a hot topic in the sports world these days. Now, the CAP reveals that the kid was very clear in an interview at that time when he said he'd had headaches all his life.

Then, the Wixom Police Dept. "formed the opinion very early on that they didn't feel there was sufficient evidence to support criminal charges"..... and "we agreed" said the CAP. Now, it leaves one to wonder -- why wasn't the media informed of this, so they could call off the hounds?

Then, a couple assistant coaches were suspended, evidently for being negligent in their duties. One of those coaches, Bill Brennan, who had been a pillar of the community for his many years of service to student athletes, had hosted the party at his own home where this "atrocity" supposedly took place. The media smelled blood. Now, it turns out "Brenner responded appropriately. He heard a noise... and immediately went to check on them. The kid said 'We're just fooling around; No problem here'.... It was a well-supervised party. There was no indication that this was anything more than it was purported to be". Guess who said that? Yep. The CAP.

Really???? Then why did this drag out for almost 2 months before the public was finally enlightened with the truth, which, apparently, they knew early on?

To recap -- it seems the kid didn't really get beat up. His face wasn't a mess, nor was a concussion involved. By his own admission, he had no problem with whatever happened. It might have even been voluntary on his part. Who knows? Near as I can tell, he never went crying to the cops, nor did his parents. Attorneys? They always sniff for money. It's in their DNA. That task might be difficult, seeing as how the prosecutor has admitted there's no criminal case, and civilly, the "victim" appears to just want it to go away.

Then, it was a sensational story. On October 26, yours truly said, hang on a sec, this ain't over yet. Now, as The Bard once wrote -- it appears to have been Much Ado About Nothing. I won't name names here, but some people should be ashamed of themselves -- and they know who they are.

Of course that brings Jerry Sandusky of Penn State and Bernie Fine of Syracuse to mind. Those were in my November blog posts. Yeah, I know. Shameless self-promotion, but what the hell, it's not like I'm getting rich writing this stuff, ya know?

Seriously, how about, just for ONCE, unlike the Walled Lake debacle, we wait until all the evidence has been gathered and, if it even COMES to a trial, the jury has been chosen and seated, the prosecution and defense have presented their opening statements, witnesses have been examined and cross-examined, all the testimony has been heard, closing statements delivered, and the jury has properly deliberated and returned it's verdict before we rush to judgment regarding matters we really don't know anything about except what the media wants to sensationalize? Is that asking too much?

Typically, it appears many have already decided Sandusky and Fine are guilty. I hope they're wrong. No, not because if they actually committed the crimes would I want them to get away with them. Far from it. If that be the case, bring the hammer down. Hard.

In my own way, I want them to be found innocent --  because that would mean those things never happened to those kids. Kids lie all the time. Sometimes parents even "coach" them when they smell money.

Let's just see how it plays out, OK?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

LSU vs Alabama? Cancel it

Crazy idea, you say? Maybe, but there's so many reasons this game is not only unnecessary, but could even prove problematic.

Let's start with the city. New Orleans. The land that hurricane Katrina devastated a few years back. They don't need the money. If you can believe no less an authority than an ex-President, some guy named Brownie already did a heck of a job down there. Besides, they'll have Michigan and Virginia Tech showing up the week before the so-called championship game anyway to play in the Sugar Bowl. Motels, hotels, cabbies, rent-a-car businesses, bars, restaurants, you name it, will likely at least double or triple their prices because, no pun intended, they'll be the only game in town. They'll have more money than Katrina had water from all the out-of-town fans. At that, they'll have to work round-the-clock cleaning up that mess because two more thundering herds with different colors are heading their way. Same beds (change the sheets please), same cars, same cajun-style chicken wings, etc. One game's enough.

More importantly, the game itself. A rematch between LSU and Alabama. From the start of the season, didn't it always seem like this was inevitable, as in preordained? The press said so. The talking heads said so. Everybody knows the SEC has the best teams, right? Yours truly isn't so sure about that, because how do we know, unless we see them matched up against other quality teams, from other conferences, at neutral sites, when both sides have a month to study the other one? We don't, and won't, at least this year.

There's a better way. Cancel the championship game and declare LSU the champions. After all, they're the only major college team to be undefeated. Every computer and every poll has them unanimously ranked #1. Too boot, they've already beaten #2 Alabama, AT Alabama. What else is there for them to prove?

To be sure, the game will happen, but that get could problematic, as well. There's a few different ways that could play out. Given those two teams, I seriously doubt anyone thinks a blowout, either way, is going to happen. If LSU wins, they're STILL #1. Yet if Alabama pulls a minor upset, they'll be crowned champs, but -- will they be deserving? They got beat by the same team in their own back yard the first time around. One might liken it to the classic Ali-Frazier fights. Frazier wins the first one. Ali wins the rematch. Only one way to decide who's the superior fighter. They had a third one to settle it.

Problem is, if Alabama wins a close game, there will be no "rubber match", or Thrilla in Manila, to really decide it.

Nick Saban will make speeches. Tuscaloosa will have a parade. Columnists, analysts, and talking heads will go berserk dissecting every game both teams played throughout the season.

And we still won't know which team is the best.

For that reason only, I hope LSU wins this thing. Simpler that way.

Simpler yet if it wasn't played at all.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Lions. From Dudley Doright to Snidely Whiplash

Remember when the Lions started off 5-0, were media darlings, and had the whole country's attention in a good way? It seemed everybody was rooting for them to finally, after decades of being a laughingstock, including countless jokes from late-night talk show hosts, jump back into the realm of at least respectability in the NFL, and perhaps even become a, gasp, contender. Poof. All gone.

Yours truly thinks it started when head coach Jim Schwartz, after suffering his first defeat -- at home, no less -- went after San Francisco 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh, to the point where he was chasing him around the field and security personnel had to restrain him from whatever mayhem he may have had on his mind. Never mind that head-to-head, Harbaugh would KO Schwartz in a matter of seconds, this was conduct unbecoming of a professional coach. Evidently Schwartz thought Harbaugh was somewhat over exuberant with his post-game handshake and maybe even clapped him on the back a little too hard before trying to exit the field.

Earth to Schwartz. It's the NFL. Guys are out there wreaking great bodily harm on each other. Broken bones, torn tendons and ligaments, and concussions happen all the time. Every play might be a player's last one. For that game, for the season, and sometimes forever. It's the nature of the game. And you want to chase the opposing coach around the field because of a handshake or a back pat you didn't like?

Thing is, he's the head coach, supposedly leading by example, and the players pick up on that sort of thing. There's little doubt the Lions players saw the same replays we did, over and over. And I think a very bad seed started to germinate.

The Atlanta Falcons came to town and beat them again. The seed starts to sprout. Since then, the Lions, and sadly, even some of the local media, somehow thought it was humorous to mock an opposing player (Tim Tebow) because of his deeply held religious beliefs. I can understand players trying to get into opponents' heads with trash-talking, but the media bringing up religion as some sort of joke? Not only was that unprofessional on their part, but downright low-class. Further, it watered the above seed.

Win some, lose more, and then the Thanksgiving day game against the Packers with the Ndahmukong Suh debacle. The seed has not only grown roots, the plant is shooting up quickly, and even beginning to flower.

A few weeks back, when the NFL, ever conscious of TV ratings, decided to move the Lions-Saints game to prime time instead of their usual afternoon time slot, they likely had no idea what the Lions would become in the meantime. Again on national TV, the gates finally gave way and the jail break was on. Personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties abounded. Showing a total lack of discipline, much less professionalism, the Lions not only embarrassed themselves again but, in the process, have dragged that Detroit franchise, and even the city itself, right back into the sewer of punch lines that they had such a golden opportunity to finally climb out of.

The talking-heads on TV are ripping them something awful for what they have become. Even ex-coach Mike Ditka, normally a "stay the course" kind of guy, has expressed his disapproval. The Lions are getting lit-up on the Internet, and who knows what the hundreds and thousands of printed publications yours truly never sees are saying about them? Though I have no knowledge of same, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if a Sports Illustrated writer has been quietly lurking about taking notice, and a feature article pops out in that mag next week.

Yet it's almost like the football gods want them to succeed. Obviously, Green Bay has won the division championship, but all the Lions' contenders for a wild-card berth keep losing as well. Technically, they're still in the hunt. Can they win the Super Bowl? Of course not. They're nowhere near that caliber just yet, but they've shown themselves on occasion to be a pretty good football team, potential-wise. Good things could happen in the future.

But first they need to get a handle on the discipline -- act like professionals -- thing. From the head coach on down. Right now they don't have it. Schwartz needs to do a reality check with himself, before he can get that message across to the players.

You thought Matt Millen being in charge was bad? Maybe he was, but at least we didn't expect much out of them. Martin Mayhew, his successor, is one "w" being changed to an "m" away from describing the current state of affairs.

At least under Millen, the Lions were laughed about for good-natured reasons. Nobody's laughing now. They've gone from loveable losers to being a national disgrace. Many people, with no former allegiance to the Lions, jumped on their bandwagon, when they started out hot this year. Maybe it was novelty, sympathy, or perhaps just rooting for perennial underdogs.

Not any more. Those same people want to see the Lions take a beating. The NFL honchos went out of their way to give the Lions national exposure they normally never would have received. Now those same honchos have the Honolulu blue and silver under a microscope.

And the Lions have no one but themselves to blame for this.

Schwartz should have left Harbaugh alone. Sometimes just one snowflake can trigger an avalanche.

Or in this case, when an original seed germinates, takes roots, and shoots up out of the ground at an amazing rate, even perhaps bearing flowers -- one should beware. That's not a plant. It's a weed. Left alone it will spread quickly, sap the nutrients from the real plants one is attempting to grow, and no matter how long one waits, it will never bear fruit.

Jim Schwartz is quickly approaching weed status. If he can't get a handle on his team, perhaps he needs to be yanked out.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Detroit Lions. Tweet

Just what are the Lions these days anyway? A professional football team or a reform school with a headmaster that appears quite willing to let the incorrigible kids run the joint? Let's take an objective look...

It's no secret (and even some of the players have publicly admitted) that a good deal of their roster consists of "cast-offs" from other teams. In other words, they weren't wanted elsewhere for one reason or another.

The guys that were high draft picks? Calvin Johnson is the best thing that happened to them in a very long time.

Matthew Stafford? At least he's stayed healthy this year. That's a start. Regarding potential -- it's just that. Potential. Contrary to what many Lions' fans (and local scribes) want so desperately to believe -- he's not quite Elway, Favre, Brees, Brady, Montana, Young, or pick a Manning, just yet. Sometimes Stafford shows flashes of brilliance. Other times, he has this bad habit of completing a lot of passes to the guys in the wrong colored uniforms. Time will tell how all this works out.

Nick Fairley? He can't stay healthy either. Louis Delmas is hurt, and only people in the Detroit area think this guy is some sort of fantastic safety. There's a lot of teams he couldn't start for, and probably a few others where he might not even MAKE the team.

An interesting stat.... Jeff Backus, the starting left offensive tackle for Detroit, is in the record books. Of all the players in the entire history of the NFL that have played at least 150 games, Backus has the distinction of owning the lowest winning percentage of ALL TIME. It's even below Brandon Inge's batting average after a "bad" year. That's low. Didn't look it up, but Dominic Raiola can't be far behind in the chase for ultimate futility.

Back to the reform school angle. Even without Ndamukong Suh, currently regarded as the dirtiest player in the NFL by a wide margin (a recent players' poll had him winning by a 4 to 1 margin over his nearest runner-up thug -- a landslide), the Lions showed their true colors once again in New Orleans against the Saints. Remember, that game had been switched from it's original afternoon slot to be the Sunday night showcase game of the NFL. That meant hundreds of millions of people were tuned in.

And what did the Lions do? What they're becoming notorious for. A total lack of discipline, much less professionalism. The incorrigible kids took over again.


Nate Burleson, a wide receiver cast-off from another team, pushed off against a defender to make a catch. Sorry. Tweet. That's offensive interference. 10 yard penalty. OK, it happens. A while later he does the exact same thing. Tweet. Another 10 yard penalty. You'd think he'd learn, or at least a coach would take him aside and tell him this isn't working. Oh no. Fast forward. He does it a third time. Tweet. Another 10.

Not so special teams player Stefan Logan, who stands all of 5 foot 6, and weighs in at 180, got frustrated. Did he act like a professional? No. After all his much larger teammates are gathered around him, he flipped the ball into the face of a defender. Sorry. Tweet. That's unsportsmanlike conduct. 15 yard penalty.

Titus Young, a back-up receiver, punched a guy in the face. Tweet. Unsportsmanlike again. Another 15. Young's a rookie. Normally rookies keep a low profile while learning from their coaches and the veteran players. Is this what they've taught him? If so, this guy's in need of a serious attitude adjustment. This is the NFL, not South Central LA.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew seems to be a mystery. Once in a while, he'll make a brilliant catch. Then there's other times when his Hands of Stone would have made Roberto Duran envious. And what did he do after a call he didn't like? The ultimate no-no in sports. Push an official. Tweet. Unsportsmanlike conduct again. Another 15 yards, and he likely should have been immediately ejected from the game. When the NFL bosses in New York review that, it's also likely that Pettigrew's next game check will have a major deduction included.

Who's in charge of this whole menagerie? Head coach Jim Schwartz, of course. As warden, he doesn't seem to care what his inmates do. In fact, by not being proactive and instilling some discipline, it could be argued he actually encourages such behavior.

Schwartz may indeed possess a brilliant football mind, but let's look at facts. This is his first head coaching job and his record currently stands at 15-29 -- a .340 percentage. For a major league hitter, that would be outstanding. The same power-play goal percentage in the NHL would probably set a record. That number shooting 3s on a basketball court wouldn't be too shabby either.

But a .340 winning percentage as an NFL head coach, while overseeing a team that appears to resort to being back in the 'hood when things don't go well? And collectively, they're swaggering?

Sorry. Tweet. That's conduct unbecoming of professionals.

No such rule, you say?

Well, there oughta be.