The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

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Archive for the month “August, 2013”

The NFL Preseason: A Neccessary Evil

(Preseason logo via www.fangsbites.com)

(Preseason logo via http://www.fangsbites.com)

One of the most hated seasons is officially halfway over. No, I’m not talking about baseball season. I am talking about preseason football. It never fails that fans complain every year about the preseason and its length. Some want it to be shorter than what it is currently. And who can blame the fans there. But while there are some negatives that come with the preseason, there are also several positives.

 

 

The doom and gloom of the preseason has always been injuries. And this year, it seems like more players have suffered season-ending injuries at a higher rate. But unfortunately, injuries are a part of any sport. The latest season-ending injury happened to Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller this weekend:

The NFL and its teams have tried to limit these situations from happening by lessening the amount of time on the field and sitting out some players during preseason games, but injuries are not always unavoidable. Even if fans got what they wanted and we had less preseason games, injuries would still happen. There is no avoiding them.

 
Sloppy play is also a preseason staple. You tend to see more guys missing tackles, jumping offsides and holding in the preseason than in the regular season games, especially in the second half. This can become unwatchable at times and it can ruin the flow of the game. Unfortunately, this is another necessary evil of preseason football. Sometimes there are a ton of new players on the field trying to learn an offense and play at the same time. That, combined with the rust of veteran players on the field, can produce these eyesores. But the good thing is it does not last the whole preseason. The backups play less and less as the preseason goes forward.

 
Another negative of the preseason is fans have to pay full price for the games. Honestly, no one wants to pay the full price. None of the players you want to see will be playing the whole game, the intensity is down and the game is sloppy. But for season-ticket buyers, you have to purchase those tickets in order to get the whole season’s worth of games. If the NFL wanted to make fans feel better about these games, they would discount the ticket prices due to the circumstances the game is played under. But the NFL is a business and fans continue to sacrifice these games for the right to see all home games, so I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

 
But with the negatives, there are always some positives that come out of the preseason. With some of the starters sitting out of preseason games, it allows a team to get some players playing time that may not play if the starter was there. Teams that have championship aspirations always need depth just in case an injury is sustained. And with all the preseason games, an extended look at a guy that may not have otherwise been seen could be that missing piece the team needs to make that championship run. Preseason games also allow players to get in the rhythm of what the team wants them to do.

 

 

Another positive that can happen is competitions have time to play out. Last year, Russell Wilson was a third-round draft pick of the Seahawks that was expected to be the backup to newly acquired Matt Flynn. Russell had other ideas though. He prepared well in practices and took advantage of his opportunities when given by head coach Pete Carroll. And the Seahawks head coach had plenty of opportunities to put Wilson in situations to test him due to the amount of preseason games. Wilson eventually was named the starting quarterback in Seattle and helped lead them to the playoffs while he had an unexpectedly great rookie season. This may not have happened if the preseason was shortened and Seattle may have still had Matt Flynn instead of him being traded to Oakland this offseason.

 
Whether you hate it or love it, preseason is a necessary evil. There are the bad parts that include the play and the pay, but there are also parts of it that help build championship rosters. Like it or not, the preseason is something that football fans will have to continue to deal with. And honestly, it is best that it stays this way.

 
Follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

The Everyday Man’s Sports Blog Interview With Howie Schwab

Howie Schwab ESPN has long been the worldwide leader in sports. One guy that was behind that was Howie Schwab. Recently I was able to catch up with the sports information wizard formerly of ESPN and do an interview. Here’s what we talked about. Hope you enjoy!

Mike Patton: Everyone knows that you were big with the stats at your former employer (ESPN), so what got you into stats?

Howie Schwab: I always loved sports as a kid and I was lucky enough to work in that field for 26 years. I used to collect cards as a kid as well. I just loved it.

MP: I remember your show called Stump The Schwab. How was it to do that show?

HS: It was a ton of fun because of all the great people that were involved. And it was truly a game-changer in my career. I was 64-16 on the show and honestly I could have lost 10 more times when people had me on the ropes. Another thing that I liked about the show is it was really good for young people and it taught them some sports. I actually talked to some kids that did not know who Jackie Robinson and Knick great Dave DeBusschere were. And the show allowed them to learn a little more about sports history.

MP: What do you think has changed about sports from when you started to now?

HS: I think the internet and sports radio changed the sports world the most. The nature of sports and how they are talked about have changed because of both. I also think that DirectTV has changed some things because you can tune into games across the country live and not have to miss anything.

MP: Who were some of your favorites at ESPN?

HS: I got along great with everyone but favorites had to be Dick Vitale and Chris Berman. I worked very closely with Dick Vitale while at my former network and I also can remember the days I was in studio with Bob Ley during the beginning of the college basketball studio days. I was close to the late Beano Cook as well. Other people that come to mind are Linda Cohn and Tom Jackson.

MP: Who was someone that you looked up to growing up?

HS: Hank Aaron was someone that I looked up to. He did things the right way. I actually got to meet Hank at the Final Four last year. Me, Dick Vitale, Hank Aaron and Charles Barkley were all talking at the Conan O’Brien show while it was on location in Atlanta for the Final Four. Heard some great stories from Barkley and Aaron. Another person that comes to mind is John McEnroe. He was a competitor and he always played hard and fought for everything.

MP: You attended St. John’s University. Who was big at St. John’s while you were there?

HS: Chris Mullin was a freshman when I was a senior at St. John’s. His work ethic was unquestioned and he was a
great shooter. I actually got to go to the Final Four in 1985 when he was on the team. As far as St. John’s, that university helped me be who I am. That is why I wore the St. John’s jersey on TV.

MP: Family vs work. How did you balance that?

HS: Well, it’s a two-edged sword, but family came first. My wife suffered a stroke and she is the most important person in my life. One of the best things about not being at my former employer (ESPN) is I get to spend more time with my wife.

MP: How has life been after ESPN?

HS: I have my good days and bad days. Some days I second-guess some things. The last few months have been good and bad. I am sorry that I am not a part of the team, but guys get cut in football and sports and move on to play for other teams. And I have to move on as well.

MP: Do you have any advice for anyone trying to enter this business?

HS: Never give up on your dreams. Make sure to always show your passion for what you do. Also care for those that you work with. The more you are good to them, the more others will be good to you.

Many thanks to Howie for the doing this interview with me. Howie is definitely a class individual and I am sure we will hear more from him soon. He definitely will be missed at his former employer and I am sure they miss him as well.

Follow me @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

Sports Imitating Life

Torrey Smith emotional after playingSports are a major piece of the fabric of American culture. It is hard to come by anyone these days that doesn’t watch them or hasn’t played them at some point in their life. But sports are not just a part of our culture. In many ways it mimcs the way our world runs. When you look at sports, you are looking at a microcosm of America.

Roger Goodell and David Stern are two of the most hated commissioners in the sports world. But why is that? The biggest reason is because of the controversial decisions they make. Recently, Goodell made a change in the celebration rules. Many fans were not happy with him and voiced their opinions through social media forums. But even when he makes a good decision for the game, he still catches flack. The same can be said for NBA commissioner David Stern and some of the decisions that he has and has not made. And the same thing can be said of the President of the United States. No matter who is in office someone will always be dissatisfied with their decisions. Goodell and Stern are like the president in many ways. And the NFL and NBA is the country they are running. They are in positions of power and they have what most don’t have: ultimate control. And the feelings they invoke in some are good and to others they are repulsive.

If the commissioners are the president, then the players are the representation of the people. Even though they get multi-million dollar contracts all the time, they still are separated into classes. For example, in the NBA there are upper-echelon players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant that represent the upper class. Then there are second-tier stars that represent the middle class. And then there are the guys that are making the veteran minimum that represent the lower class of the league. The people that have the most money have the most power and influence. And in life, that parallel rings true. The people with the most money are running the country while the middle class (if that is even exists anymore) and the lower class are one step away from not making it.

And as far as the owners, they are the governors and councilmen. They give their wants and needs to the commissioner, but the boss ultimately runs the show. For the most part, the owners and the commissioner are on the same page. Both seems to be an extension of each other, with the commissioner having more power than the owners in the end. But the only difference between the owners and the commissioner is that the commissioner has to manage all teams while the owner has to manage only one franchise (or two if the owner has two teams in different sports). Collectively, both owners and commissioners tend to have deeper pockets than the players do, so that and their position puts them at the head of the wheel, while they control all that happens under their watch.

With all this, where does it leave the fans? Unfortunately, we do not have a prominent role in the sports world besides paying money to watch the players do their thing on the field. In a sense, we are helpless as to what the players and the owners do. If we are comparable to anything it would be animals. We are living, breathing and active in this world, but we do not have much control over the decisions. Simple and plain, we have no power and we have to deal with whatever decisions are made. No matter how much we complain and say we are done with the system, the fans will continue to support the game.

Sports in a sense, imitates life and vice versa. It is all in the perspective of how you see it.

Follow me on Twitter @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

The New NFL Celebration Penalties Are Good For The Game

JJ Watt saluting after a sack (picture via www.footballzebras.com)

JJ Watt saluting after a sack (picture via http://www.footballzebras.com)

The NFL preseason is underway and many teams have completed their first week of action. And as expected, there was a bunch of sloppy play. Plenty of players were jumping offsides, holding and committing all kinds of silly infractions. But the preseason play and sloppiness are not the main things that fans seem to be complaining about. During the offseason, the NFL added some changes to the rules. One big change involves the celebration of sacks and other big plays when directed toward the opponent. Taunting players is something that the NFL is trying to discourage, so when a player is deemed to be taunting an opponent through dancing, spinning or spiking the ball in front of another player, a flag will be thrown.  When this rule was first explained, most assumed it meant that all players would be flagged if they danced or celebrated a touchdown or big play, when that is not the case at all. Even with that, some feel the NFL is going overboard with their crackdown on things. But when you really look at it, the rule makes perfect sense.

More times than not, kids are taught to use good sportsmanship on the field. And when they are not following the rules, they get in trouble, penalized or get taken out of the game. Aspiring football players pay attention and listen to their coaches for the most part, but they also watch the league where they aspire to be: the NFL. Imagine a kid making a big play and jumping in another player’s face because he thinks that is the thing to do. He would surely get in trouble for doing something like this. But his reasoning may be that he saw it on the television and thought it was ok. Whether we like it or not, kids can idolize and mimic just about anything. So by penalizing the unsportsmanlike thing they may see, it will help them to understand that some things are unacceptable on the football field.

In many situations on the football field, people can get into heated arguments. Those heated arguments can go on for the entire game between players and even teams. And when big plays happen, someone could take it to the next level and taunt the other team or player. When that happens, you run the risk of some violence breaking out on the field and that would be a black eye for the league. Just one incident spiraling out of control could cost the NFL sponsorship money and that’s what they don’t want. Eliminating or discouraging taunting takes out that element of violence that could happen and it makes for a cleaner game.

Rules are rules. No matter how much folks complain about them, they are not going to change because the fans want them to. And quite honestly, once the rules are actually explained, they really are not that bad. The overreaction to them has been interesting to observe. Hopefully after everyone has calmed down, they will understand the rules and the extreme talks of not watching NFL football will go away.

Follow me on Twitter @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook at  Mike Patton-The General .

Remember When Vince Young, Matt Leinhart And Jay Cutler Were Thought To Take Over The NFL?

vince young  In the NFL draft of 2006, Vince Young and Matt Leinhart, along with Jay Cutler, were considered the new class to take over at quarterback. All brought something different to the table. Young was a freakish athlete that some felt could potentially change the way we look at the quarterback position. Leinhart was a precise passer and leader that led USC to prominence. And as for Cutler, he was considered the guy who had the best arm talent of any of them. All three were drafted within the first twelve picks. Vince went first to the Tennessee Titans at pick number three, followed by Leinhart to the Cardinals at number eleven and then Cutler to the Broncos at number twelve. All were expected to take over these franchises and propel them to the next level. But unfortunately, things did not work out as planned.

For Vince, it looked like a perfect situation that he fell into. The man he idolized, Steve McNair, was the quarterback of the team that selected him. It was only natural that McNair would tutor Young until he was ready. Well, things did not work out as folks thought it would. McNair was locked out of the facilities and later let go from the team. Not exactly how some thought his tenure with the Titans would end. McNair ended up signing with the Baltimore Ravens and Vince sat on the bench watching behind veteran Kerry Collins until the Titans finally inserted him in almost halfway through his rookie season. But when he went in, the team immediately responded and they ended up falling one win short of making an improbable run to the playoffs. The expectations upon him rose with each performance and many could not wait to see what happened moving forward. But unfortunately, Vince was uneven the rest of his time in Tennessee. He was a winning quarterback in his career with the Titans (30-17). But for all that he won, he still never developed as a quarterback in throwing the football. Combine that with the emotional outbursts and immature moments inside and outside the locker room and that helped bring his career to a screeching halt in Nashville.

Leinhart’s star was just as bright as Young’s heading into the NFL. Playing with stars such as running back Reggie Bush in college, some thought that he was going to be able to take Arizona to a new level. The team ended up making some great things happen, even going to the Super Bowl. But they did this behind the strength of veteran signal-caller Kurt Warner. Leinhart just seemed to never be able to get consistent playing time on the field his first two seasons due to season-ending injuries. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt finally gave him his chance to win the starting job in 2008, but due to bad preseason performances, Warner would again outdo him.  Leinhart would go on to be his backup until he retired in 2010. Some thought that it would again be Leinhart’s time. But he was again passed over for the starting quarterback position, this time by free-agent acquisition Derek Anderson. He was eventually released two days after the last preseason game. And there went his career in Arizona. Leinhart was never Ken Whisenhunt’s quarterback and he could never stay healthy nor perform when given the shot. As a result, the potential everyone saw was never realized as a member of the Cardinals.

Cutler was thought to be the best quarterback prospect to come to the Broncos organization since John Elway. He was a gunslinger, similar to the way Brett Farve played in his prime. But the only knock against him was could he pick and choose what keyholes to throw the ball through better. At the beginning of his career, he was the understudy to Jake Plummer until one day in November, then-coach Mike Shanahan decided it was time for Cutler to step in. Cutler started off his career as a starter with a bad streak. He threw an interception in eleven games straight. That came from his gunslinger mentality. But with that, Jay Cutler also had some very good moments. He was the first rookie to have at least two touchdown passes in his first four games. As time went on, some experts looked at Cutler to be the next great quarterback in the NFL. But the thing that plagued him was his lack of consistency. And eventually, the inconsistency he and the Broncos showed led to the firing of Shanahan and the insertion of new head coach Josh McDaniels. It was thought that Josh and Cutler would work well together because of the passing attack he created in New England as their offensive coordinator. But McDaniels, after trying to trade for then Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel, had ruffled the feathers of Cutler and he no longer wanted to be in Denver. Eventually McDaniels traded Cutler to the Chicago Bears. The Mile High enthusiasm was there for Jay, but the play was not always as high as the expectations for him.

All three of these guys were thought to be great for the quarterback position at one time, but all three did not come close to expectations. Vince Young went on to sign with the Eagles and Bills after the Titans, even getting cut by the Bills in the preseason. He just recently got another chance to compete for a job. He just signed a one-year deal to try to be the backup quarterback in Green Bay after a long layoff. Leinhart went on to play for the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders before landing in the free agent market this offseason.  And it does not look promising that Leinhart will be making an NFL roster anytime soon. As for Cutler, he is still struggling to find his way in Chicago. He is still as enigmatic as ever as a quarterback. And with the offensive lines he has been behind, I cannot fault Jay as much for how inconsistent he has been. The time is growing near for him to show his worth in Chicago and this will be a big year for him. All three were thought to be stars. But all three are still trying to prove who they are and what they stand for in the NFL. Seems like everything that glitters isn’t gold.  Be wary of the expectations heaped upon young players. They could be a good thing. But the expectations can also make a player crumble under the pressure.

Follow me on Twitter @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook Mike Patton-The General .

The “Walk On Water” Syndrome And Athletes Today

riley cooperterrence jonesThe summer has seemed like a destination for trouble for a lot of athletes. From a player getting arrested for harassing a homeless person to a player getting in hot water for yelling a racial slur at a security guard at a Kenny Chesney concert, it seems that some athletes have not done well with idle time. Many have tried to come up with explanations. Some athletes say they are bored when their selected sport is not in play, while some observers seem to go to the extreme and say that all athletes these days are thugs. I don’t agree with either extreme at all. Athletes might be bored and there can be some thugs in any sport, but both of these are not the prevailing reasons for all of this trouble. So, what has infected some athletes these days? It’s called the “walk on water” syndrome.

Many times athletes are put on a pedestal from a young age. Because of their supreme abilities, people can tend to look the other way when it comes to who a player is. As time goes on, those players who are given a pass begin to think that they can do no wrong. And when they do wrong, they believe that who they are can get them out of the trouble they are in. Unfortunately for some, they have to learn the hard way that they are not above reproach. Some end up losing their entire careers for the dumb decisions they make while others get lucky enough to get a second chance. Some would say that these athletes believe they are above the law. While I agree with that sentiment, I believe that some take it to another level. Some believe that they are gods.

At this point in time, not a lot of these so-called “gods” who believe they can walk on water will change unless something happens unfortunately. But for those that are coming up now, we have to put an end to this. The first step that needs to be made is with parents. It all starts at home. Too many times kids are brought up getting a pass on things. But if we teach them right from wrong and the consequences of bad decisions growing up, then maybe a fundamental change can be made in how kids react and do things. But not to be left out are the coaches that mentor these young men. Some coaches these days are trying to parlay these young men’s futures into positions of power or money for themselves. The thing they should be doing is getting kids prepared for life as well as helping them advance in the sports they choose to play. If every coach had that frame of mind, then eventually the “walk on water” mentality would start to evaporate.

Going forward, I want to challenge every coach, parent and mentor to be better than what they were before. Be as selfless as possible when it comes to these kids. Because as the kids are brought up is how they will more than likely be in life. If they are brought up thinking they can do whatever and get away with it, then we have done them a disservice. And we will continue to see the “walk on water” syndrome that has invaded America in sports.

Follow me on Twitter @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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