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Just The Sports: 2006-10-29

Just The Sports

Friday, November 03, 2006

NFL Commish Hands Down Another Fine

Determined to leave an immediate mark upon the league by fining and suspending whomever he can, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell has struck again, this time fining New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress. The infraction of the league's conduct policy occurred after Burress caught a touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday when he was seen smiling in the end zone. According to the description accompanying the $7,500 fine, Burress was "enjoying himself a little too much on the field."

"I will not rest until I stamp out every bit of individuality the players in this league possess," Gooddell declared, banging his fists on the podium behind which he stood. "It has no place in life and it certainly has no place in the National Football League. Why certain players insist on putting their personalities on display is beyond me. Don't they know I will crush them and fine them until they are left with nothing in the bank? Fans of the NFL should rest assured that after I am done, the players' behavior will be acceptable to middle-aged white men everywhere in mainstream America.

"Truth be told," Gooddell continued, "I would prefer if we had actual robots who could go on the field and play football. Since sadly that technology is not yet available, we will make do with what we have now until it is."

However, even though Roger Gooddell thinks 90% of the players still need to be completely assimilated into the NFL culture by having their spirits completely broken, particularly the wide receivers, he did go out of his way to point out those players who do fit the mold he is trying to impose on everyone.

"Take a player like Marvin Harrison," he said, his eyes actually glazing over with tears as he spoke of the Colts receiver. "He never yells or displays any sort of personality on the field. He just goes about his business and never complains at all. And then there's that Asian or whatever he is, Troy Polamula, who outside of his long hair, which he will have to cut if he chooses to stay in this league, is another model minority. I mean, model player."

After speaking these words, Gooddell struck his chest with a closed fist and raised his right arm in the air, stiff with his fingers outstretched but still held tightly together, thereby signaling the end of his press conference and dismissing the reporters gathered.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Irvin Accuses Barker of Quitting

Upon hearing news that Bob Barker is retiring from television after 50 years, 35 of which he has spent hosting The Price Is Right, ESPN analyst Michael Irvin lashed out at the long-time television personality in a drug-fueled tirade. Irvin called Barker "selfish for quitting" and said that what Barker was doing was "tantamount to quitting on the show, implying that Barker should be ashamed for himself.

"He [Barker] can call it whatever he wants," Irvin said too loudly while sniffing repeatedly and wiping his nose every two to three seconds. "He and I both know what he's really doing. He's quitting on the show and he's quitting on all the people who are involved in the show. Right now, The Price is Right is in the top 5 for most-watched daytime television shows, but what happens when he leaves? It's like he doesn't even care about that."

After being told that Barker says he still considers himself as a father and sometimes lover to the Barker Beauties, Irvin found his second wind to further criticize the 82-year-old game show host. "Don't give me that father crap," Irvin stated. "Real fathers don't leave their children without warning. Oh, it won't affect the Beauties who have been there for a while, but what about the new ones? How can he give them advice anymore? He's just another guy on his way out to them."

The venom Irvin spat Barker's way is no doubt a reflection of the end of Irvin's end to his playing days, which was brought about as a result of an injury, and causes him to become indignant at the thought of anyone who gets to choose when to end his or her career.

Tom Jackson, because he is black like Irvin, had no choice to agree with Irvin and so he did saying that mistakes in the production of the game show were sure to occur as a result of this distraction.

Bob Barker released in a statement that he is looking forward to embarking on the next phase of his life, probably some sort of dying.


Comparing Troy Smith circa 2004-2006 to McNabb circa 1995-1998

I, like other sports followers in this country, am always comparing current college players to current professional players in an effort to gauge how the college players will do once they get to the professional level so when I was trying to figure out which NFL quarterback to compare Troy Smith to, the answer was obviously Donovan McNabb and not just because they have similar amounts of melanin in their skin. The two quarterbacks are not only of similar stature (McNabb is only an inch taller at 6'2 and weighs about 20 more pounds, but each is solidly built), but they are of a similar make-up (each can run effectively and will at times, but each has made up his mind to be a passing quarterback first and foremost). Since I can't exactly compare the two at the present moment, I decided to look at the two during their NCAA years. Smith's career is not yet over, but enough of it is completed to do what I wanted to do.

Not really having a clear recollection of McNabb in college, when I went back and compiled his passing stats from past box scores, I expected to be astonished at his exploits as a collegiate at Syracuse and immediately see what it was he did to warrant the Eagles taking him with the 2nd overall pick in the 1999 draft. In actuality, McNabb only had two good seasons, freshman (his best) and senior, with the middle two years being average. He finished his college career with a 57.2% completion percentage and 8.9 yards per pass attempt. That completion percentage is not too far away from his NFL career percentage of 58.4%. I was also surprised to see just how few pass attempts he had per game in his career (21.2) since that is a red flag I raised about Troy Smith.

With Troy Smith, for some reason I almost do not want to believe he is as good as he is on the field. When I am being completely honest with myself and not being biased, I will be the first to admit Troy Smith has turned himself into the best college player in the nation and has cobbled together an impressive college career. During his 26 games as an Ohio State quarterback, Smith has completed 63.4% of his passes with 8.9 yards per pass attempt.

Pitting Smith's NCAA career against McNabb's shows that the only significant difference between the two has been completion percentage with Smith having the advantage in this category. Everything else for them has been basically identical so there is no reason to think that Smith will not be every good an NFL starter as McNabb has been. If he is less than the second quarterback taken, something is wrong with NFL scouting departments.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My Officially Adopted NBA Team

With the NBA season quasi-beginning tonight and really beginning tomorrow, I think it is the time to officially adopt my NBA team for the year. My adoption of this team really does not mean anything particularly special. In fact, the adoption will not mean my life will change in any way so let's think of it as a ceremonial title that will allow me to, at the end of the season, point at something tangible and say that I predicted this team would give a good accounting of themselves for 82 games. Without further adieu, my officially adopted NBA team for the 2006-07 season is the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.

As with every basketball team, a good team needs a good point guard and in Chris Paul, the Hornets have one of the best. If not the best point guard in the NBA already, Paul will be within the next two seasons. His assist rate to turnover rate is out of this world (more than 3:1), he is a very efficient offensive player, and he also has a very good rebound rate for a point guard. Once his improves his outside shooting touch, there will be nothing that Chris Paul cannot do on the basketball court.

Moving on to shooting guard, the signing of Peja Stojakovic accomplishes two very important things. The first is it made Speedy Claxton expendable and in getting rid of Claxton, the Hornets rid themselves of a player who dominated the ball too much for his limited talent level. The second is it gave the Hornets another efficient backcourt player to play along with Paul and Stojakovic is a better defensive player than he is given credit for.

Playing Desmond Mason at small forward is the only position where the Hornets have a real weakness. Mason is a supremely athletic player with great measurables, but for his career, his physical attributes have not translated into good statistical output. I doubt he will have as poor a year as last year, but Mason will not be a star on this team. It's a good thing for everyone he's not being asked to be.

Power forward is yet another strength for the Hornets and they were right to lock up David West long time because he will be an NBA star for years to come and is the second-most important player on the Hornets behind Chris Paul. In his three seasons, West has a player win-loss percentage of .626 and it is only that low because he had a horrible sophomore season when he only played thirty games. Take that away and his player win-loss record is a sparkling 10.5-4.4.

Finally, allow me to rekindle my love affair with the NBA center named Tyson Chandler. The Bulls wrongly let him go in the prime of his career when he is only going to get better and I am sure will come to regret their decision after Ben Wallace begins the decline phase of his career. Even though I love Chandler, my love does not blind me to his faults. He turns the ball over too much and he will need to average 12 points per game to make my prediction of him becoming a force to be reckoned with to come true. I don't think he will let me down there.

As for the bench, the Hornets will have young players like Cedric Simmons and Hilton Armstrong to contribute. Most of what they will bring on the court will come in the way of defense and rebounding, but that will be enough for a team who will get premier scoring from at least three of their five positions. Bobby Jackson's presence on the bench excites me less so I will not waste words talking about him.

Despite being in the Southwest Division, the Hornets will win at least 50 games and go to the playoffs, making me feel like a stepfather who watches his stepchild succeed. He may not have created the child, but he realized the child's potential and is proud to have watched it blossom under his watch.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

College Football Notes

  • Once again, blog darling Javarris James led the University of Miami in rushing with 113 yards on 19 carries. Also, once again, James did most of his rushing damage by breaking off a couple of long runs, one of 49 yards and another of 20 yards. Right now, James is not the most consistent runner by far. He mixes decent runs with worthless ones, but give him enough carries and he will break at least one really long one during the game. The ability to do that is where his true worth lies.

  • Urban Meyer promised that he would use Tim Tebow more in the Georgia game than he did in Florida's loss to Auburn and true to his word, he gave Tebow twice as many touches against Georgia (6). Unfortunately, Tebow did not exactly reward Meyer's confidence in his ability since Tebow had his worth game as a collegiate player. He ran only two successful plays (20-yard run and 6-yard run both on first downs) compared to four unsuccessful plays, one of which culminated in a fumble that Georgia converted into a touchdown three plays later. This is the sort of game that shows that Tim Tebow is mortal after all.

  • Allow me to take this time to recognize Adarius Bowman, formerly a UNC Tarheel until he was forced out by John Bunting after being charged with marijuana possession and now a wide receiver for the Oklahoma State Sooners, who in his first year of eligibility after transferring, has only 36 receptions for 791 receptions and 9 touchdowns. If only UNC did not have to be so holier-than-thou, then Bowman would be putting up those numbers in a Carolina Blue uniform instead.