Monday, January 11, 2016

Football this 'n' that

As I write, there are still a couple of hours before Alabama & Clemson will take the field to decide college football's national championship. Three days ago, a guest editorial in the Washington Post suggested that players from both teams should boycott the game because, as student-athletes, they're not getting paid, while the universities, network partners, et al, are getting rich. The suits are mostly white. The players are mostly African-American.

The editorial was written by lawyer and sports agent Don (We Don't Want to Know) Yee, better known as Tom Brady's mouthpiece. While an attempt at unionization by players at Northwestern University fell in defeat last school year, there was unrest at the University of Missouri, which led to the school's president being dismissed, also last year.

While I get the gist of what Yee is trying to convey, his timing is way wrong and way off. Yee would've been better served writing his treatise before the season started in September. Some will see his name in the by-line and think that he may be just fishing for new clients come draft time this spring. The NCAA isn't going to change the way it does business, not unless a consortium of like-minded individuals, and this group would include Yee and perhaps, by extension, Brady, a Michigan alumnus, if he were to be interested, joined forces to force change.

They say that if it isn't broken, you don't fix it. The suits in charge of the NCAA don't see anything wrong with an ages-old system of doing business. In the 21st century, though, a change will do them some good.
Let's break down the Wild Card games from the last two days.

Kansas City, to borrow a line from the Blues Brothers, is on a mission from God. The Chiefs ran their winning streak to 11 after dismissing AFC South champ Houston, 30-0, and now get to play the defending Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots, at Foxborough, on Saturday night. It's a revenge game for the Pats, after getting humiliated by nearly 30 points in their last meeting. However, with Brady nursing a sore ankle, you don't know for sure if wide receivers Julian Edelman and/or Danny Amendola will be 100% ready. The champs are vulnerable. Be very afraid.

The Cincinnati Bengals have only themselves to blame for blowing a golden opportunity to end their playoff futility under Marvin Lewis, who is now 0-7 in the post-season. Blame it mostly on Vontaze (Less than) Burfict, who went from hero to zero in less time than it takes to write this article. After a 4th quarter interception by Burfict seemingly put the game away for Cincinnati, Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball back to Pittsburgh just 2 plays later. Ben Roethlisberger, who'd been KO'd from the game, reinjuring his right (throwing) shoulder after being sacked by Burfict earlier, returned to direct the game winning drive with the Steelers down by a point. Burfict practically mugged Antonio Brown, which cost the Bengals 15 yards. But before another snap could be taken, Adam "Pacman" Jones was called for a personal foul while ex-Steeler Joey Porter, now an assistant, attended to Brown. Chris Boswell, who'd kicked three field goals earlier, nailed the game winner, sending Pittsburgh on to Denver for the divisional round.

As with the Pats, Denver is looking to collect a receipt after getting blown away at home last month. So the Steelers return to the scene of the crime, if ya will, on Sunday. Meanwhile, there is still some bad blood between the AFC North rivals that could spill over to next season.

On the other hand, the Bengals would be better served cutting bait and dismissing Jones, Burfict, and, unfortunately, Lewis as well, since he, like Tom Coughlin three weeks earlier, didn't rein in his volatile linebacker. It was so bad, ex-Bengal Boomer Esiason, now a radio talk show host and CBS analyst, ripped his former team to shreds. They're better off, you see, not trying to be Raiders East, but trying to be a new class of Bengals.

Oh, yeah. Burfict is this week's Dunce Cap winner.

Seattle's quest for three straight Super Bowl appearances goes on for at least one more week, but they have Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh to thank for his Shankopotamus impersonation in the 4th quarter, as his attempt at a game winning field goal went wide left. It was, dear hearts, the mother of all shanked kicks.

While Bob Raissman, writing in today's New York Daily News, gave Bob Costas props for his comedy stylings, suggesting that the temperature could reach freezing (32 degrees) by spring, he ignored Al Michaels' opening remarks, as he welcomed viewers to "Ice Station Zebra", referencing an old Lee Marvin movie from the 60's. At least they got viewers in a good mood.....!

Even though he didn't play, Washington's 1st round exit at the hands of Green Bay should signal the end of Robert Griffin III's run with the Congressionals. He didn't play a down this season, spending the entire season in Jay Gruden's doghouse, and even though owner Daniel Snyder decided to pick up the team option on Griffin for next season, odds are Griffin will be dealt or released. We'll be watching the waiver wires between now and the draft.

Try this scenario. Let's say Philadelphia does hire Coughlin, who resigned from the Giants last week after 12 seasons. I'd say he would suggest making a play for Griffin, swapping out either Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez to get RG3. The Bradford for Nick Foles deal, a flop for both the Eagles and St. Louis, may have been the beginning of the end for "Tortilla" Chip Kelly. However, given the revolving door of QB's in Houston, it's more likely Griffin, a Texas native, could head there instead, likely for draft picks.
I'll save my picks until the end of the week. All I can say for now is, there ain't going to be a repeat in the Super Bowl.

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