In the other corner, you have Roger Goodell, who has decreed that Tweeting from games is an evil sin that may help gamblers, even though gambling on sports doesn’t exist nope no way never (even if he didn’t say that, that’s what it comes down to). Today, the battle of fun vs. authority begins. Who’s winning?
Football fans love the NFL Draft. Fans know it, the league knows it, ESPN knows it, and advertisers know it. What started as a way for ESPN to fill offseason airtime has turned into a major national sports event worthy of only the loudest and most opinionated hype - wait, that’s true of everything on ESPN. But still, it’s a fun way for fans to spend a weekend otherwise bereft of sports events (because who watches the NBA or NHL playoffs anyway, right?).
(The hilarious new primetime series, coming this fall!)
But like a five-egg omelet, 64-ounce Big Gulp, Hummer H2, or like any of the millions of other examples of American greed and avarice, the NFL has decided that two whole days of draft just isn’t enough for football fans. Starting in 2010, the first round is moving to Thursday. If NBC thought ratings for ‘Parks and Recreation’ were bad before, just wait until Amy Poehler and crew go head to head with Chris Berman and Roger Goodell. Let the ratings battle begin!
(Imagine being able to be magically whisked away…to Delaware.)
One answer that would not come to mind in a sane person is “sports and gaming mecca.” Despite the state’s best tourism efforts (their website rather gamely offers “everything from NCAA college football to minor league baseball“), Delaware has not been known as a sports fan’s paradise. That, however, may change if the state goes ahead with plans to allow single-game and parlay betting on NFL games. Delaware, here we come!
It is a strange but well-established fact that sports fans will collect just about any kind of memorabilia if they think it relates to a favorite team or player. When Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium was mothballed in 2004, over $700,000 worth of dirty, sticky stadium fixtures were snapped up by Phillies and Eagles fans, including such conversation pieces as urinals, sinks, and trash cans.
But what if you don’t want to wait 50 years for your team’s stadium to fall into disrepair and be replaced by a gleaming monument to consumerism and taxpayer fleecing? You could be satisfied with watching your team’s exploits on the field, you could collect memorabilia that is not an integral part of your team’s stadium, or you could do what at least 5 young enterprising Villanova University students did last night: attempt to break into Lincoln Financial Field and a steal a seat and a 5-foot metal sign.
Leave it to Mike Leach to burn any bridge he might have to a future NFL coaching gig with one loudmouth quote. According to this piece in the DALLAS MORNING NEWS (via our buddies over at WITH LEATHER), the self-styled offensive genius, pirate aficionado and dating Texas Tech coach, is accusing NFL coaches of being too dumb to coach basic football fundamentals like a three-step drop to a quarterback … and using that as a boilerplate excuse not to draft his latest superstar tutor, Graham Harrell.
(If you can make a pistol with your hand, Leach can teach you a three, five and seven-step drop. He guarantees it.)
In fact, Leach had even stronger words about an inability to coach up a young quarterback: “Any coach in the NFL who can’t do that ought to be fired!” Why don’t you tell us how you really feel, coach.
Like everywhere else, the NFL needs to find new revenue streams to ward off recession and accommodate new expenses for things like paying medical benefits for veterans. It’s hard to see how they’ll be able to do it given the current economic climate, unless you take a suggestion from a BLOOMBERG editorial written by Joe Saumarez-Smith into consideration. Saumarez-Smith claims that, by licensing betting on the league’s games, the NFL could easily net $1.5 billion per year … as a starting point.
Granted, Saumarez-Smith has his own interests in mind; he’s the CEO of Sports Gaming, a British management consulting firm to the gaming industry. But he does make a number of important points, not the least of which is pure logic: Why should the league allow bets to be made in Las Vegas but not everywhere? All it would take is licensing casinos in other states to allow betting on NFL games. It’s not a hard thing to do.
There’s no arguing that religion plays a significant role in the NFL. (Of course, some people might argue that the NFL is a religion itself, but that’s another topic.) Players hit their knees to pray whenever a serious injury occurs (like with Willis McGahee this past weekend), at the end of games, whenever they score a touchdown - heck, probably to celebrate successfully charging through the smoke-filled tunnel before the game.
Which has led the folks at the NY TIMES FREAKONOMICS BLOG to ask a question: shouldn’t the folks at the atheist American Humanist Association - who recently failed in their quest to have “So help me God” removed from the presidential oath of office - be focusing on the NFL instead? After all, their rules on touchdown celebrations seem to be a little biased. For proof, check out the video from soon-to-be-ex head of officiating Mike Pereira has to say on the subject:
Remember two weeks ago, when it took two extensions and a healthy dose of traveling Falcons fans to sell out University of Phoenix Stadium for the Cardinals’ first playoff home game since moving to Arizona? Well, if you thought that was a pretty sure sign that their fans aren’t worth plaudits, this will just make you crazy: Now, with the help of Eagles fans, they’ve already nearly sold out the NFC Championship Game.
(Don’t mind Duece Lutui, he’s a seat-filler when he’s not on the field.)
Of course, crazy Eagles fans could have something to do with that. After all, Philadelphia is notorious for “traveling well”. Still, within 20 minutes the game was all but sold out on TICKETMASTER, with only pricey singles left. As of this minute, the range in ticket prices on STUB HUB has a floor of $200 and reaches all the way to, unbelievably, $150,000. Yes, $150,000. What recession?
Give it up for our northern friends, the Calgary Stampeders, for capturing the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup with a 22-14 win over the Montreal Alouettes. The pride of Temple University, Henry Burris, was named the MVP by totaling over 400 yards from the QB position, while Sandro DeAngelis was named the top Canadian after kicking five field goals. Yes, Canadians get their own award, and yes, it’s probably also in French.
(A typical Calgarian)
So while the Canadian championship may be but a footnote in American sports blurbs, briefs, whirlwinds, and newspaper agate pages, the NFL teams could certainly learn from the Stamps to help further their franchises.
• Tennessee Titans — So you lost your first game? You got whacked by the New York Jets at home 34-13? No worries. The Stamps lost 37-16 at home to the Edmonton Eskimos back on September 1.
• Arizona Cardinals — Don’t worry about the loss to the 37-29 loss to the New York Giants. Like the Stampeders’ Burris, Kurt Warner also played in the NFL Europe for a year. And if that’s not enough solace, then I don’t know what to tell you.
• Bears, Broncos, Dolphins, Bills, Broncos, and whoever wins the Packers/Saints game tonight: You all have five losses. Aw, poor babies. Calgary’s regular season record? 13-5. (Oh, yeah, and the Giants lost six last year. But that doesn’t apply here.)
• Browns, Jaguars, Chargers, Eagles, and whoever loses the Packers/Saints game tonight — you all had high hopes this year, but it’s just not looking like it’ll happen this year. No sweat. Last year the Stampeders went 7-10-1.
• Detroit Lions — You guys, much like many of the players on the Stampeders, still have your health.
Know how your co-worker got an iPhone, so everyone else got one? In a trend of reverse cutting edge technology, college teams are now embracing old solutions to new problems having seen what’s going on in Penn State. Rather than get a trendy receivers coach to lead a big-time program, Kansas State will announce this morning that Bill Snyder, 69 years young, will return as the Wildcats’ head coach. Joe Paterno will now have someone to discuss what it was like to listen to Harry Truman’s speech.
Time once again for a lesson on non-tie NFL rules: A team is allowed to attempt a field goal without an oncoming rush if the team just made a fair catch off a punt. The Arizona Cardinals knew this, and with five ticks left in the first half of their game against the Giants in such a position, Neil Rackers attempted a 68-yard field goal, which would’ve been the longest kick in NFL history by five yards. Let’s take a look-see:
Yum. Can you fit in ten more Thanksgiving metaphors this week? How about links instead?
It’s another NFL Network Thanksgiving miracle, thanks to Sen. Arlen Specter, apparently chairman on the Subcommittee to Fix Sports Things. The Philadelphia Eagles-Arizona Cardinals game will be shown on local Pennsylvania TV stations, although perhaps after Sunday’s loss, this is more of a curse than a blessing.
Old hat: Japanese veteran baseball player. New fedora: Japanese phenom baseball player. Old hat again: the Red Sox sign him, NPB TRACKER reports (or translates SPONICHI ANNEX’s report, which is the same thing). Jinichi Tazawa will get $3 million over 3 years, but will have to develop his Japanese-taught mannerisms in an American-style pitching system. Baseball purists ought to keep an eye on this project.
More from the Fins/Pats game: Matt Light and Channing Crowder could be BFFs for the rest of us know, but at the worst possible time they got in kind of a fight. BALLHYPE has video proof.
Contrary to previous optimism in which the Detroit Lions could win a game this year: the DETROIT NEWS’ John Niyo is reporting the Detroit Lions probably won’t win a game this year.
Cliff Lee isn’t just the Cy Young winner, he also won “Cleveland’s Man Of The Year” as voted on by the local chapter of the BBWAA. Also some guy named Luis Isaac, who was with the Indians for over 40 years, won an award for getting fired and not being a bitch about it. The award, unfortunately, is not a new job.
The TORONTO STAR’s Rosie DiMannoisn’t at all fooled at the Maple Leafs honoring Wendel Clark in a ceremony last night, since the Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup in 41 years because Clark isn’t seven people.
And finally, it’s time for your Iranian sports news update. The Grizzlies’ Hamed Haddadi will be sent down to the Dakota Wizards of the NBA D-League. Hey, it beats getting flipped off by your GM. Almost.
(Note: I left Florida out because if Alabama stays undefeated, they will have to beat the Gators in the SEC Championship, putting them at two losses.)
After last year’s dreadful exhibition of football between the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants and the then-hapless Dolphins, London was understandably a bit underwhelmed at the idea of another NFL game coming to town this season.
But the Wembley crowd was treated to a thrilling game as the Saints beat the Chargers 37-32. It was almost as if the two teams were committed to putting on the best show they could, as the teams were hucking the ball downfield with reckless abandon all game. Phil Rivers threw for 341 yards, but an ill-advised throw into triple coverage with just over a minute left sealed the Chargers’ fate. The game also featured the huge dumbassery of Eric Weddle, who got an “excessive demonstration” penalty after intercepting Drew Brees in the fourth quarter, then had his pick overturned by replay (he didn’t have control of the ball when he landed). But the penalty, of course, still stood. Hope it was worth it, dude.
Miami 25, Buffalo 16. The Bills stumbled in Miami and now find themselves in a tie with the Patriots for first place in the AFC East. The Dolphins scored the last 18 points in the game after falling behind 16-7 in the third quarter. The Bills lost three fumbles in the fourth quarter, and another fumble by Trent Edwards was recovered by the Bills in the end zone for a safety.
Washington 25, Detroit 17. The dream of a winless season is still alive for the Lions. They actually had a 10-3 lead in this game and were right in it until Santana Moss returned a punt 80 yards in the fourth quarter to put the Redskins up 22-10. Jason Campbell was 23 of 28 for 328 yards for the ‘Skins.
New England 23, St. Louis 16. The Rams were driving late for a potential game-tying touchdown, but Deltha O’Neal intercepted Marc Bulger inside the Patriots’ 30 to preserv the win. How much did the Rams hate Scott Linehan? Ever since they dumped him, they’ve played pretty solid football, and perhaps a healthy Steven Jackson may have made the difference for them today.