All posts by Christopher Sutton

10 years ago, if you asked me who Peyton Manning was, I would have looked at you like you were from outer space. My passion for sports grew from my passion for video games and although I may not have been viewing sports for too long, I believe I have the knowledge and wisdom of a person who has been watching sports for 30 years. My focus will be on football (pro & college), basketball (pro), baseball (pro), boxing, and mixed martial arts (UFC). My motto for my writing style: “I give the takes that you may not want to hear but need to hear on sports topics.”

casutton2125@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter @casutton2125

The Broncos’ Defense Carries the Sheriff to Victory in Super Bowl 50!

PAYTON_CAMPhoto,”Peyton Manning” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Jeffrey Beall Cam Newton” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Mike Morbeck 


 

The underdog Denver Broncos, led by Von Miller and that hellacious pass rush carries Peyton Manning and the offense as they defeat MVP Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 24-10. To see how it all went down, check out the overview below:

1st quarter: Both teams come out conservatively on offense and aggressive on defense. The Broncos defense dominates much of the first quarter. After a questionable incomplete pass from Newton (call that stood after review), Newton is strip-sacked by LB Von Miller, which leads to a Broncos TD. The Panthers find themselves trailing for the first time in the playoffs 10-0.

2nd quarter: The Panthers’ offense finally comes to life. Newton mainly uses his legs to move the ball down the field. With the help of a personal foul penalty by CB Aqib Talib, the Panthers punch the ball into the endzone with a spectacular dive by RB Jonathan Stewart. After each team trades some more three and outs, Broncos WR Jordan Norwood returns a punt for 61 yards (the longest in Super Bowl history). However, even with good field position, the Broncos only come away with a field goal. A little later in the quarter, FB Mike Tolbert, who had recovered his own fumble in the first quarter, fumbles yet again and cannot recover the ball this time. Two plays later, RB C.J. Anderson breaks loose for a 34-yard run. The defense responded with a one-handed interception by DE Kony Ealy. Carolina’s slow final drive of the half ends with a Demarcus Ware sack. The Broncos lead 13-7.

 

3rd quarter: The Panthers strike right away with a 45-yard reception by WR Ted Ginn Jr. After another first-down pickup by Ginn Jr., the offense stalls and the Panthers have to settle for a field goal, which was no good as it hit the post. The Broncos seize their chance and get another three points on their next drive. Newton and company once again strike with a 42-yard pass to WR Philly Brown but once again, they turn the ball over when Newton overthrows a pass intended for Brown and was picked off by S T.J. Ward. The Broncos’ defense suffocates Newton and gets another sack. The Broncos lead 16-7.

4th quarter: The Broncos appear to be in cruise control until Manning is stripped and turns the ball over. The Panthers only manage to score a field goal off the turnover. After a quick three and out by the Broncos’ offense, the momentum seems to be going in the Panthers’ favor but Newton and the offense are stifled again. The Broncos’ plan is to just kill the clock, but there is still way too much time for the MVP to drive his team down the field. That isn’t a problem for the beast Von Miller as he creates another turnover. The Broncos were looking to kill some more clock, but star CB Josh Norman commits a crucial holding penalty. Anderson punches the ball into the endzone, which seals the victory for Manning and the Broncos.

Conclusion

The story of the entire game was missed opportunities for both teams, which kept the score from being higher than what it was. With just about the entire nation outside of Denver favoring the Panthers, The Broncos came out and played the game of their lives against the MVP and the 1# offense in the NFL. Similar to how Tom Brady was beaten up in the AFC Championship game, Cam Newton wasn’t dancing much as he probably wanted to as he was beaten up the same way – getting sacked seven times and hit many more times. While it was shocking to see the Panthers get shut down offensively, the Broncos have been doing this to just about everybody this season. This game was no exception as the formula remained the same: the defense will be the reason why the team wins, not the offense. Still, Manning deserves his credit. Just months ago, we (including me) thought that Manning played his last down in the game that he was benched. I’m glad to see him walk out on a high note (if he is going to retire). The game will remember him for his contributions and will remember this run for years to come.

 

 

AFC/NFC Championship Game Previews

AFC Championship Game Preview:

New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos

BroncosVSPATsccphoto by Keith Allison,   Jeffrey Beall respectively


The New England Patriots travel to Mile High city to take on the Denver Broncos. This will be the 17th matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (Brady leads the series 11-5) and the fifth time that the two quarterbacks have played each other for a trip to the Super Bowl. While Brady has dominated the matchups against Manning, Brady has struggled in his career playing against the Broncos in Denver. His record there is 2-6 all time. In fact, the Broncos are the only team with a winning record (7-6) against Brady all-time. Every other team Brady has faced, he either has a .500 or better winning percentage. Although both quarterbacks are similar in age, they have looked and played much differently this season.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC and the NFL for a very long time. This season was yet another example of that. The Patriots finished the season 12-4, dealing with a slew of injuries along the way to a variety of key positions including, RB, WR, and OL. Brady finished the season throwing for just under 5000 yards, 36 TDs, and only 7 INTs – numbers that would have guaranteed him his 3rd MVP award if not for those QBs in Carolina and Arizona. For Brady, this will be his 10th Conference Championship game appearance – an NFL record – with Belichick. If the Patriots go on to the Super Bowl, it would be Brady’s seventh Super Bowl appearance; the most by any quarterback ever. Also, if the Patriots manage to win the Super Bowl, it would give Brady five Super Bowl victories, which is also the most by any quarterback ever and would probably give him the nod as the greatest quarterback ever ahead of Joe Montana. Brady said he could see himself play in the NFL for another 10 years and at age 38; it is hard to question him considering his performance this season and his general style of play (short-passing, methodical). Brady looks 38 years young while his rival on the other side looks like a much older man at 39.

 Manning, widely regarded as the greatest regular season quarterback, finished the regular season throwing for less than 2500 yards, 9 TDs and 17 INTs, completing under 60% of his passes with a QBR of 45.0. In his final start of the regular season against the Kansas City Chiefs, Manning was benched after throwing 4 INTs. As of late, the Broncos have needed to rely on Manning again, bringing him off the bench in a 27-20 win against the San Diego Chargers to clinch the #1 seed in the AFC and starting him in the 23-16 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Round. In all likelihood, this playoff run will be Manning’s last. Capturing the Super Bowl this season would tie him with his brother Eli Manning for Super Bowl victories (2), would probably force the football world to view him as a postseason winner, and would finally let Manning ride off into the sunset.

Prediction: With Brady’s key targets (Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman) looking somewhat healthier now as opposed to the two teams’ first meeting this season, it is hard to go against the Patriots in this matchup. However, the Patriots have listed 21 players on the injury report including Gronk and Edelman. The Broncos only shot of defeating the Patriots is to get after Tom Brady, which has always been the blueprint for beating Brady and is something the Broncos accomplished in their last meeting by sacking Brady three times. They also need Manning to just show up like he did last week against the Steelers. There is no way that Manning outduels Brady, but if he can give his #1 defense some help by leading a few key TD-scoring drives, the Broncos can win in a low-scoring affair. I actually see Denver pulling off the upset somewhere along the lines of 23-20.

 

NFC Championship Game Preview:

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers

 CardinalsVSPanthersccphoto by Jeffrey Beall, Keith Allison respectively


The Arizona Cardinals travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. This will be the first time in NFL history that a championship game will feature two Heisman-winning QBs and the first time that Carson Palmer and Cam Newton have ever played in a championship game. The Panthers have had the Cardinals’ number as of late, winning three of their last five meetings including last year’s NFC Wild Card matchup 27-16, but the Panthers have never faced them with Carson Palmer starting at QB. The Cardinals finished the season with the #2 offense in the league (1 spot under the Panthers). Both teams are looking to advance to their 2nd Super Bowl appearance in their franchises history. Considering where both teams were last season, no one at the start of this season could have seen a matchup like this occurring. Palmer had recovered from and ACL injury, the best receiver on the team was an aging Larry Fitzgerald, and although Palmer gave the Cardinals a much better chance of winning than any other QB in franchise history since Kurt Warner, the Seattle Seahawks were still viewed as a top team in the NFL and were highly favored to win the Super Bowl this season. Last week, the Cardinals high-powered offense looked shaky in their win against the Green Bay Packers. Palmer had thrown multiple momentum-crushing interceptions in the endzone and the defense gave up a Hail Mary TD pass at the end of regulation, which forced the game into an overtime that the Packers had no business being in. Even so, the manner in which the Cardinals won that game has to give them motivation going into this championship game against the Panthers.

 

On the other side, the Carolina Panthers started their season with a bunch of question marks and not enough answers. Kelvin Benjamin, Newton’s #1 target, was gone for the year with an ACL injury, leaving veteran TE Greg Olsen as the best receiving option available on the team. The team was predicted to struggle this season but that just has not been the case. Even while winning 15 games in a row and capturing the #1 seed in the NFC, the Panthers were still predicted to fall to those very same Seahawks that stomped the Cardinals 36-6 in the final game of the regular season and beat Newton and the Panthers three times in a row. Proving the football world wrong once again, the Panthers put up 31 points in the first half and would hold off the Seahawks near second-half comeback winning the game 31-24. This win showed that the Panthers were for real and made them a favorite to get to the Super Bowl.

 

Prediction: In a matchup between the #1 and #2 offenses in the league, it is easy to expect this game to be high scoring. However, the weather has to be kept in mind as a winter storm has now gripped the east coast. While neither team is a stranger to cold weather, weather will always be a factor in any game and so I don’t personally see the game being too high scoring. While I do think the Cardinals are the better team and that they could beat the Panthers if they were the ones playing at home or at least on a neutral field, Carolina has been riding an emotional high all season long. I see Carolina playing very well at home where they have not lost even once this season. Unless Palmer has a tremendous game, I don’t see them overcoming the Panthers. Palmer cannot play shaky like he did against the Packers or it might be a long day for the Cardinals. I see the Panthers winning somewhere along the lines of 28-25.

Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict receives a 3-game Suspension

Bengals.png

ccphoto by Jeffrey_Beall


 

On Monday night, The NFL announced that Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict would be suspended for three games of the 2016 season for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules. Burfict will appeal the suspension.

The suspension comes as a result of his actions during Saturday’s AFC wild card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss, Burfict was flagged for hitting WR Antonio Brown, who failed to catch a pass from QB Ben Roethlisberger, in the head and appearing to knock him unconscious. Brown remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol. This flag combined with another personal-foul penalty from CB Adam “Pacman” Jones led to the Steelers’ game-winning field goal.

When the two teams met just weeks earlier, Burfict was fined for a hit towards Roethlisberger’s ankles. If the three-game suspension is upheld, Burfict will lose $502,941 of his base salary for the upcoming season and will have totaled $647,395 in fines since before the start of the 2014 season.

Did Marvin Lewis Deserve to Keep His Job?

Sometime after the game, the Bengals announced that they weren’t going to fire head coach Marvin Lewis essentially because they wanted to keep stability. Lewis, who holds the most wins in franchise history and is coming off of a franchise record-tying 12-4 record and yet another AFC North Division Championship, now holds a playoff record of 0-7 in 12 seasons. While Lewis is the probably the most accomplished coach in team history, did he deserve to keep his job? My answer: Yes.

While it is embarrassing that Lewis still doesn’t have even one postseason victory with all of the teams that he has had over the years, I feel it is unfair to use this game as an excuse to fire him. Lewis put his team in position to win as best he could, having to work with rookie backup quarterback AJ McCarron, who obviously had no playoff experience in the NFL. The Bengals overcame a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter and the game appeared to be over when Burfict intercepted a pass from QB Landry Jones. If Lewis had been fired after that game, it would not have been because of his coaching performance but for the actions of Burfict and Jones at the end of the game instead.

Yes, emotions were running high because it was the playoffs and these two teams have a lot of bad blood between them but when do we acknowledge that players need to be held to a very high standard? Burfict and Jones, two of the best players on the team, have to know to not let their emotions overtake them, especially at the end of a playoff game. Burfict had no business trying to punish Brown on that play. He could have just wrapped him up and forced Pittsburgh to actually beat them. And who told Pacman Jones that he had to be an enforcer when non-players (not including refs) entered the field? While these actions do point to a lack of discipline enabled by Lewis, how come no other player let his emotions get in the way of winning the game? I’m sure the other 50- something players on the roster were enraged by the hit on RB Giovani Bernard yet no one else felt the need to retaliate because of the stakes. Firing Lewis would’ve shown how unfair it is to be a coach in professional sports.

Being a head coach is a lot like being a parent, which is also a really difficult job. The only difference is that parenting doesn’t offer millions of dollars. Society dictates that a parent has to be held responsible for any number of children and the way they all turn out. Theoretically, I could have four children and raise three of them to be outstanding, productive members of society, but if the fourth turns out to be a bad apple, I would still be looked upon as a bad parent. Head coaches in the NFL have to account for a 53-man roster, a coaching staff, and their actual children if they have any. When two out of all of those people that Lewis has to account for act up, should he really be fired? While it seems that I am giving Lewis a pass for not winning yet another playoff game, I think this is a deserving pass considering the circumstances and considering how close the Bengals came to ending their playoff-win drought.

 

RGIII vs. Johnny Football: Coming for that No. 2 Spot

RGIII.Johhnny

cc photo by Keith_Allison / Erik Drost respectively


When the Dallas Cowboys aren’t making any headlines with their performance on the field, they somehow manage to always stay relevant simply because the owner, president, and general manager (and probably unofficial head coach) Jerry Jones loves to talk and be heard.

On Tuesday, Jones was asked if he would be willing to bring a young but risky quarterback into the franchise on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. His response essentially was: Yes, as long as he has great upside.

With the blunder of a QB carousel that the Cowboys went through after aging franchise QB Tony Romo went down not once but twice this season, Jones obviously wants to make sure he doesn’t have to witness another disaster like this ever again or at least not anytime soon. With that being said, popular names such as Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel have been thrown out as possible additions to the team.

RGIII and Manziel have both expressed interest in playing for the Cowboys and Jones has commented on many occasions that he is a fan of both players. Considering the idea that the Washington Redskins have clearly moved on from RGIII as Kirk “You Like That?!” Cousins has proven to be a better quarterback and the idea that the Cleveland Browns have just about reached their breaking point with Johnny Football after his latest ridiculous incident, Jones must either be feeling really giddy or nerve-wracked as he will likely have his pick of the popular litter. Since Romo is nearing the end of his career, whomever Jones picks may very well be the successor to Romo. I am here to break down the potential upsides and setbacks Jones and the Cowboys may have choosing either QB:

RGIII

 It seems like such a long time ago since RGIII, probably one of the most dangerous rookie QBs to ever play in the NFL, had taken the league by storm. Being a QB with track speed, he was a nightmare matchup for any team, especially since the read-option was still a fairly new concept to the NFL. Had he not suffered that knee injury against the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, he very well could have been a Super Bowl champion that year. Fast-forward to today, RGIII is now just Robert Griffin and is simply another guy playing quarterback in the game.

Upsides:

  • Character/Commitment: Compared to Manziel, Griffin is virtually a choirboy. Coming from a strong family background, he has never been known to be a troublemaker off the field. If Jones decided to bring Griffin in, he would not have to worry about him becoming a distraction.
  • Already Proven/Experience: Griffin has already proven to be a really good quarterback and at his best (at least from what we’ve seen), he is way better than Manziel. Being in the league for some time now, I wouldn’t doubt that he’s gotten the sense of what it takes to be great at this point in his career while Manziel is still trying to figure that out.

 

 Setbacks:

  • Confidence: Griffin hasn’t been the same since he tore his ACL in his rookie year. When he fooled the nation into believing that he would indeed be ready to play the following season, he got exposed as a terrible pocket passer. Everyone who defended him tried to use his health as an excuse, but eventually that excuse wore itself out. I saw games that Griffin played in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, and he looked healthy to me. Yes, he did not run with the same determination and recklessness that he once had but the bigger problem seemed to be that he looked like a deer in the headlights when he had to stand in the pocket and actually play like a quarterback. Personally, I think his confidence is still shaken since the injury. In the time he did play, Griffin looked timid to use his athleticism – the thing that made him so dangerous in his rookie year. As a result, he was forced to become one-dimensional and could not beat opponents that way. If Jones wants to get the most out of this addition, he will have to find a way to get Griffin’s mojo back.
  • Contract situation: Before this season started, Washington exercised Griffin’s fifth year option, which would give him a little over $16 million for the 2016-17 season. If Washington decided to cut him loose right now, they wouldn’t owe him a penny. For Jones, that is a lot of money to pay for a backup who may not even see the field next year. With salary caps being what they are, I’m not sure Jones would pick him up if he knew he could get another QB like Manziel for less than half of that price.

 Johnny Football

 There is no doubt that Jones was pleased with his team’s performance last season. Jones appeared to have proven once again that he knew more about football than everybody else with his drafting of G Zach Martin, who heavily contributed to Romo and RB DeMarco Murray having the best seasons of their careers. While Martin may have been the Cowboys’ top priority and has turned out to be one of the better guards in the game, further down that same draft board in that draft was Manziel. If Jones couldn’t get or didn’t want Martin, who’s to say that he wouldn’t have drafted Manziel? Now he has a chance to get Manziel without having to waste a draft pick on him. Together, they could finally “wreck the league” (a phrase that seems to have a double meaning at this point considering Manziel’s antics off the field), as Jones would have envisioned.

Upsides:

  • Flashes of greatness: While Manziel’s numbers won’t wow anyone, he has had moments throughout the season where he looked as if he could possibly become a star quarterback. Now Manziel still needs to play more for a better evaluation, but he clearly looked much better this season than he did last season even without having many weapons and the biggest weapon, WR Josh Gordon, being suspended for the season. Having still not played a full season as a starter and being benched every other week doesn’t help his chances of growing, but if Romo goes down with another injury early on next season, who knows what Johnny could do with better WRs and the highly proclaimed “best offensive line in football.”
  • Buzz/Jersey Sales: Even with all of the problems that may come with Manziel, no one can deny that he has certainly created a buzz in Cleveland of all places. Last time I checked, LeBron plays in that same city and even he doesn’t have people talking the way Manziel does (at least not anymore). Before Manziel arrived to the NFL, who cared about what was happening with the Cleveland Browns week after week other than Browns’ fans? Whether it is positive or negative attention, it is still attention that Manziel brings and Jones sure loves himself some attention. While there probably is a market for Griffin’s jersey sales, it would be even bigger if Manziel was signed, as he is the more popular player at the moment.

 

 Setback:

I’ve decided to name only one setback, but it’s probably the biggest one with Manziel.

  • Lack of commitment: From physically fending off obsessive fans to entering rehab to now sneaking into Sin City under the guise of Billy Football, Manziel has found just about every excuse one can find to discuss something other than football when it comes to him. Manziel is one of those players that think his career ended on draft day – as if the very next day he was going to go into the hall of fame. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the NFL is where the best of the best play. Everyone was the ‘big guy on campus’ (except for kickers because that never happens) on the high school level. Getting to the NFL level is not the end of the journey. Excuses that Manziel wasn’t getting enough starts and so he became disinterested and distracted with his celebrity status are not good enough. Now if the Cowboys get him, whose to say he won’t get distracted when he starts playing and living in Dallas? I’ve never been to Cleveland or Dallas, but from what I’ve heard, Cleveland is nowhere near as interesting as Dallas. Getting back to the point, when Manziel gets there, he is still going to be a backup and when the distractions are much closer to home, is anyone going to believe that he will be disciplined enough to refrain from becoming a distraction himself? Jones may love Johnny now – from a distance – but we will see how long that love lasts when he’s on his team and Jones has to defend him week after week for something other than football.

Conclusion

Overall, both QBs are big risks for Jones to take on. One is a big risk to put on the field while the other one is a risk off the field. If I were Jerry Jones, I think Robert Griffin III would be slightly less of a risk to take. At worst, Griffin would be riding the bench while collecting easy paychecks for only 1 year and then he could get rid of him. With Johnny however, he will be collecting paychecks while riding the bench and making the Cowboys relevant for the all the wrong reasons. Either way, Jones will get what he pays for. Theoretically, wouldn’t you rather pay for the damaged premium good (Griffin) instead of the damaged (and I’m not talking about physically) cheap good?

Another Icon Could Be Ruined by a Lie

 

A bigger bombshell could not have dropped on a nicer person. However, this star athlete seems to make more headlines while not playing. Peyton Manning, one of the biggest names and faces in football and sports, has been linked to an Al Jazeera report claiming that he and a number of high-profile athletes received performance-enhancing drugs.

In the report (a near hour-long documentary), Liam Collins, a British hurdler goes undercover to expose the secret world of doping in sports. He uses a cover story as an aging athlete looking for one final shot at glory at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to gain access to a number of black market dealers.

Further along in the report, Collins meets Charlie Sly, a pharmacist who previously worked at the Guyer Institute, an anti-aging clinic and the same institute where Manning received treatment after undergoing four neck surgeries in 2011. Sly tells Collins that he was a member of the medical team that helped rehabilitate Manning, claiming that the clinic mailed HGH and other banned drugs to Manning through his wife, Ashley, so that they would never be traced back to his name. Sly goes on to say that both would come to the clinic after regular operating hours so that Peyton could receive more treatments.

Manning has vehemently denied the report calling it “complete trash.” Sly, the pharmacist at the center of all this, has since recanted his statements claiming that everything he said in the secretly recorded conversations between he and Collins were “false.” Al Jazeera stands by their report.

Facts of the Story

Before I give my thoughts on this whole situation, here are the facts:

  • The drugs that were shown in the Al Jazeera documentary were indeed drugs.
  • Manning was not the only high-profile player to be named. Star athletes such as LB Clay Matthews, LB James Harrison, and 1B Ryan Howard were also named.
  • Manning did not deny that his wife received drugs, but that he actually took any of them. Manning’s agent stated “any medical treatment received by Ashley is a private matter of hers, her doctor, and her family.”
  • Manning hired Ari Fleischer, a former secretary to President George W. Bush during his time in office, to essentially perform damage control. He is the same man who claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction aimed at the U.S. (such a wise choice Peyton!)
  • Charlie Sly made a video recanting his statements in the video after the videos of him surfaced to the public.

Thoughts

 All of the information that I’ve read and heard was mind-blowing to me as well as it might be to you. Peyton Manning, a person who has long been known as someone of integrity and class, should be given the benefit of the doubt. However, there are too many details for this story to not have validity.

First, this investigation took months to complete. If Al Jazeera did make this story up, why would they spend so much time working on it? What would they have gained by fabricating this story? Also, we have to remember that Manning wasn’t the only name linked, but it was the biggest one. If you look at the full list of names, some of them seem pretty odd to throw out there. Not all of these stars are playing like stars right about now so I ask again: What benefit would be gained by outing them now?

Second, while “Charlie Sly” sounds like such a fake and pretentious name for a black market pharmacist, the statements he made in the video sounded real enough. He sounded as if he knew exactly what he was talking about and he probably did. How or why would he or anyone else fabricate these stories with such detail just to impress a client? Now I know people will say that he recanted his comments and said that everything he unknowingly admitted on video was false, but what was he supposed to say? Admitting that he likes to be a whistleblower on his own business from time to time would obviously be bad for his business. If you go back and look at the video of him recanting what he said, he badmouths Collins at one point claiming that he was a “fraudster.” While that certainly may be true since Collins was recently involved in a fraud scam, either Sly knew that going into business with Collins or he didn’t care.

Third, why didn’t Manning just deny that he or his wife ever received drugs? Why would Manning’s wife need those drugs if they really were for her? Last time I checked, her husband was stepping onto the football field week after week and sacrificing his body for a living. What medical condition could she possibly have had to need all those drugs when they could have helped Peyton while he was recovering from four neck surgeries at the time? Why would Peyton Manning even let her put all of those drugs in her body for no reason? The only logical conclusion would be that those drugs were actually for him.

Fourth, Manning didn’t do a very good job of defending himself. If he knew he was innocent, why hire anyone let alone Ari Fleischer to do PR damage control for him? It sounds as if he wanted advice on what to do now that stuff hit the fan. All he had to do was deny ever taking any PEDs or having anything to do with Sly and that would have been good enough.

Manning’s defense paired with Sly’s much-too-confident statements made in the video just make me skeptical. I’m not saying that I’m on either side but if I had to choose one, I’d go with the one that sounds more believable. Still, I kind of feel sorry for Manning as well as cheated by him if he did in fact take PEDs. I feel sorry because here is another iconic sports figure that could have everything he worked for ruined by a lie (even though it would be by his own doing). At the same time, I feel cheated because I gave tremendous praise to Manning when he went on that historic run and had his best season ever in 2013. Taking PEDs would explain why he was able to recover so quickly. The human body can only take so much punishment before it gives out. Coming back from four neck surgeries in such a short amount of time just seems too superhuman for anyone, athlete or not, especially at Manning’s age at the time. No one’s body just starts to recover quickly as he/she gets older. The exact opposite happens actually.

While someone of Manning’s reputation wouldn’t seem like the kind of person to cheat, that is precisely how he could get away with it if he did. I want to believe Manning, but the skeptic in me is not going to let me just blindly believe him without looking at the facts.

 

 

Ronda Rousey Gets Her Chance at Redemption, But Does She Deserve It?

ronda

Public Domain Work  photo by La Real noticia


Recently, UFC President Dana White announced a rematch between current UFC women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and previously undefeated megastar Ronda Rousey (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC). The fight is scheduled to take place at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas. The announcement comes weeks after Rousey’s devastating loss via KO to Holm. Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s manager, voiced his concerns about the announcement claiming that Holm wanted to get back in the cage as soon as February to defend her title against Miesha Tate and the July 9 date is too soon for Rousey. Rousey, who is still recovering from the fight, has expressed interest in the fight. While everyone including yours truly wants to see the rematch, one has to question whether or not Rousey even deserves a rematch. For me, that answer is a big, fat NO because it is unfair to all of the fighters involved. Let me explain:

 

Why it is Unfair to Ronda Rousey

 

You see that picture at the top of this post? It has been said “a picture is worth 1000 words,” and that picture probably tells twice as much at the very least. While it is an incredible shot to cap the match and event, the story that is being glossed over is the extent of Rousey’s injuries.

 

Rousey was hospitalized immediately after the fight. She ended up losing some teeth and had to have plastic surgery performed on her lip. Hmm, I wonder what caused that? She was suspended from doing any type of training for 45 days. Oh, and by the way, she can’t even eat an apple right now. While July 9 is a long way from now, a good chunk of that time will be spent in recovery for Rousey. Not to be funny, but seeing the way she lost, Rousey needs as much time as she can get to work on her striking game. Unless Holm completely forgets how to sprawl or Rousey starts getting really creative with her takedowns, this rematch will probably play out in a similar fashion to the first one. If Rousey doesn’t want to get embarrassed again, she will need her training. She isn’t going to roll out of bed one morning and figure out how to box with a former boxing champion. While she may have been knocking out her opponents as of late, we now know what happens when she has to go up against a world-class striker like Holm. You just know that somewhere out there, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is thinking to himself each night: “If Ronda looks like that against Holm, what does she think will happen if she steps in the ring with me?” Too bad Floyd hasn’t legitimately knocked someone out in nearly ten years (the Victor Ortiz KO doesn’t count Floyd).

 

I also think this fight is too soon because it is the very next fight for Rousey. Usually when fighters return from long layoffs (especially coming off of crushing losses), they take tune-up fights. It is common and probably necessary for great fighters to take tune-up fights because it gets those fighters back into the swing of things and gives them their confidence back. If Rousey fought anyone else and easily won, everyone including Rousey would have thought that she was back. How is a fighter supposed to have confidence going up against the same opponent that just put him/her in the hospital and shattered his/her confidence? No one knows what to expect from Rousey going into this fight, which would have been an advantage if Rousey were still an unknown, but she isn’t. We all know what her go-to strategy is and when that doesn’t work, what is she going to do? It’s like watching a movie on TV and expecting the network showing the movie to show a secret ending that wasn’t shown previously in the theaters or on DVD.

 

Why it is Unfair to Holly Holm

 

Although Holm was a decorated fighter (as a boxer) way before she got in the octagon to slay the giant Rousey, her KO win over Rousey marked her third fight ever in the UFC, meaning she is still a relatively inexperienced UFC fighter, let alone a UFC champion. For Holm, getting back into the octagon as soon as possible is the best thing she could do right now. The long layoff could make her rusty going into this fight. Considering Rousey’s injuries and Holm’s potential for rust, why wouldn’t Dana White want to schedule this fight when both fighters are at their best? Come July 9, that may not be the case for one of them if not the both of them.

 

Also, getting Holm back in the octagon way before July would have kept her fresh and got her in the mindset of preparing for what it takes to remain a champion. Any champion will tell you that winning a championship is only the start of the journey, but remaining on top is where the real journey takes place. By the time Holm fights Rousey, she might need to be reminded that she owns a UFC belt and would have to put it on the line. Holm shouldn’t have to wait on Rousey to get prepared to fight her again. Instead, it should be the other way around. If the fight were much closer and Holm had won by a split-decision, I could understand a rematch occurring as soon as possible, but not after a complete thrashing. Rousey should have to work like everyone else to get her chance at getting her belt back. Instead, she is undeservingly being handed one.

 

Why it is Unfair to Tate & Other Potential Challengers

 

As you are probably aware by now, Miesha Tate is indeed the third wheel in this situation when she shouldn’t be. Since her second loss to Rousey nearly two years ago, she has won four fights in a row, which is usually enough to get someone a title shot if he/she didn’t completely fall out of the rankings (which she didn’t). Now look at it this way: If Tate fights and loses to another challenger, will she be able to keep her ranking since Dana White snubbed her from a title shot? What about the fighter that beat her? What happens to that fighter’s chances for a title shot? By showing favoritism towards Rousey (and money), White is screwing up the women’s bantamweight division and it’s rankings.

 

Conclusion

 

It isn’t any secret that the UFC and Dana White are trying to squeeze every last dollar out of their cash cow Ronda Rousey. However, by rushing this fight to the public, White is costing himself and the UFC money. He is also probably cheating you the fans out of your money by having you believe that both fighters will be 100% healthy and non-rusty on July 9th. I respect Dana White for giving fans the fights they want to see most of the time, but sometimes it isn’t about who’s fighting so much as it is about when they fight. Would I pay to see Holm and Rousey fight again? Sure, but considering Holm’s/Rousey’s situations, a fight between them just isn’t the right time. Besides, by paying for this fight, I would be cheating myself out of a chance to see both fighters when they are at their best. I wouldn’t want to do that and neither should you.

Did SuperCam Just Steal MVP?


Cam_Newton_during_the_2011_NFL_season

  cc by Wikipedia


The greatest thing about the NFL is that at least one game each week will be a parody. The whole country likes to think it knows how games are going to turn out, but no one ever truly knows how a game is actually going to turn out and that is why teams play the games on Sunday. Last night, while Tom Brady (I say his name as opposed to the Patriots because he was the only one that came to play) fell to the seemingly hapless Eagles, Cam Newton threw five touchdowns and outdueled Drew Brees in the Superdome.

For the first time in 11 to 12 weeks, someone not named Tom Brady has to be taken into consideration for the trophy. Okay I lied: Cam Newton has also been considered a candidate throughout the season as well, but comparing their latest performances, Newton now has a legitimate shot to claim the trophy. Let’s see how these quarterbacks statistically stack up against one another:

Head to Head: Brady vs. Newton

Brady: 34 TDs (31 passing, 3 rushing), 3912 yards (3993 if you want to include his rushing/receiving stats but let’s be honest, Brady can’t run and he’s no receiver); he’s completing nearly 64% of his passes, has a 102.8 passer rating and a 64.5 QBR (if you really care for that sort of thing)

Newton: 32 TDs (25 passing, 7 rushing), 3273 yards (2797 passing and 476 rushing); he’s completing about 58% of his passes, has a passer rating of 93.2 and a QBR of 62.7 (again, if you care for that sort of thing)

Statistically speaking, Brady is clearly superior to Newton, but MVPs aren’t just won by the numbers. If that were the case, Adrian Peterson wouldn’t have beat out Peyton Manning in 2012 because Manning technically had better numbers, but how many RBs do you know routinely rush for 4000 yards, let alone 2000? …Crickets.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Player Use

Another thing that should be taken into account is how each quarterback is used for his team. Brady is strictly a passer and is obviously one of the best to ever do it. However, Newton has to (not wants to) take over running back duties from time to time in each game. While RB Jonathan Stewart is really good at what he does, it is Cam Newton who has tremendously helped the Panthers’ rushing game to be one of the top 3 rushing attacks in the NFL (#1 just weeks ago). Newton’s athleticism keeps defenders honest and without it, Stewart might have struggled being the lone feature back and the Panthers might not have remained undefeated, especially up to this point.

  • Weapons at each player’s disposal

If I told you that the Panthers would lose their number one target Kelvin Benjamin before the season, would you actually have expected Newton to perform well throwing the ball this season? The Panthers are getting the job done in the passing department with the best receiver on the team being a 30-year-old TE in Greg Olsen. Whenever a tight end is the best receiver on any team, one of two things can be implied: (1) The tight end is a great receiver (2) There is a lack of depth at the WR position. Olsen is a fine player, but he is not a matchup-nightmare like Rob Gronkowski, whom Brady has routinely thrown the ball to for much of the season. Also, Brady has had WR Julian Edelman, who was arguably a top-10 receiver this season before he got injured, and Darren Sproles clone Dion Lewis for much of the season as well before they got injured. Any team would take those three before butter-fingers Ted Ginn Jr., #3-option-at-best-on-any-other-team Jerricho Cotchery and a still developing Devin Funchess. It is literally Newton or bust for the Panthers each and every week. Teams know that, yet the Panthers are 12-0. Have I mentioned that the Panthers still haven’t lost a game? Now that the Patriots are losing games and key players, we’re finding out that Brady can look pretty average without some good receiver or tight end to throw to.

  • The meaning of MVP

In the NFL, while the best offensive player has a great chance to win the MVP each season, the MVP isn’t always the best offensive player. It is a common misunderstanding among players, fans, and the people who cast their vote for the MVP. I don’t understand why people can’t just accept certain players as offensive player of the year and not MVP. Being considered the best offensive player in a league full of great offensive players is an impressive feat and acknowledgement alone. That doesn’t mean that that player is MVP. For me, Brady will always be plagued by the 2008 season when Matt Cassel (of all people) led the Patriots to an 11-5 record after Brady got injured in the very first game of that season. That season proved that Belichick’s system could make any decent/good player look better than they actually are. We’ve seen evidence of this notion throughout the years.

  • Greatness Fatigue

No one can deny the greatness of Tom Brady, a 4-time Super Bowl champion, a perennial MVP candidate, and a future first-ballot hall of famer. However, sports fans from time to time start to depreciate the greatness they witness over the course of time when they are too exposed to it. Just look at Pats fans: their team loses two games in a row for the first time in years and although they should be somewhat concerned for their team, some of them are hitting the panic button right now on a 10-2 team that nearly overcame a 21-point deficit yesterday but I digress. If Brady does not win this season’s MVP, it will be for the same reason any other great player doesn’t win the MVP every year: We like to tell ourselves that it is because those players don’t always play great, but the truth is that people get tired of seeing greatness from the same player again and again. Statistically speaking, no one is better than Brady right now, but since Cam Newton has comparable numbers and has not previously looked like a top-5 quarterback (and also because his team is undefeated), he is more likely to get the nod for MVP.

Conclusion

If the Panthers remain undefeated, Newton is surely going to get the award. If the Panthers lose one or two more games, he still may get the nod. If Tom Brady plays out of his mind without his key weapons for the rest of the season and clearly (not slightly) outperforms Newton, he will get the MVP. That is the only way.

Lions Have Eagles for Thanksgiving: Is the Chip Kelly Experiment Over?

 

 

On Thanksgiving, with millions of people watching and enjoying their turkeys, the suddenly surprising Detroit Lions (4-7) embarrass the Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) 45-14. In just five days, the Eagles’ defense has allowed 90 points and nearly 1000 yards of offense to two sub .500 teams. The defense has also allowed five touchdown passes games with no interceptions to unlikely quarterbacks (the first time to rookie Jameis Winston and the second time now to the struggling Matthew Stafford). Heading into Foxborough next week against a team that clearly outmatches them on paper, the future is looking bleak for the Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly.

 The ‘System’ (or Ego) Over Talent

 Analysts always seem to look smart when they make a prediction in 20/20 hindsight but when just about everybody makes that same prediction and it comes true, the people who didn’t foresee that prediction coming true seem to look like idiots. To sum up what everyone thought about Chip Kelly making the decisions he made in this past offseason (basically getting rid of what made his team good): He is either going to look like a genius or an idiot by the end of the season. And what a surprise, he looks like the latter. The main reason being that Kelly chose his ‘system’ (ego) over talent.

This is the same Chip Kelly that never won a national championship with his ‘system’ on the college level and the same one that won ten games his first two seasons with the Eagles because he assumed control over Andy Reid’s players and not the ones he plugged in himself. I understand that every head coach dreams to operate like Bill Belichick, scouting out the players no one believes will succeed at the NFL level and proving everyone wrong, but not everyone can be him. Even so, it isn’t as if he picks up the players that clearly lack talent. Also, many of the players that succeed on his team were failures with other teams. Take RB Dion Lewis for example. He was a nobody on this very same Eagles team, but under Belichick, he looked like a primed Darren Sproles before he got injured. What that means is that Belichick knew how to utilize the talent that he had to get the best result. Still, the players had to have some talent to succeed in his system. Even with all of the ‘upgrades’ Chip Kelly made, he had to rely on an injury-prone and not so good quarterback in Sam Bradford to get the job done and sure enough, Bradford got injured and didn’t really look good when he did play. Now Kelly has to rely on Mark “butt-fumble” Sanchez to lead the team to the playoffs for the second straight season. Both points are telltale signs that he clearly doesn’t know what he is doing and he is the only one that doesn’t see it because of his belief in his system.

A Look Towards the Future

The biggest problem for the Eagles at this point is obviously Chip Kelly, the man at the helm. Firing him doesn’t magically bring back the players that were released. Although the team currently has a lot of talent at a lot of positions, collectively, the talent doesn’t fit together. Besides, what other head coach out there would want to work with the roster? The only reason the next potential head coach (someone who isn’t working for the franchise right now) comes along would be because of the appeal of running an NFL franchise or making millions of dollars.

At the same time, keeping Kelly means that the front office and owner Jeffrey Lurie are showing their desperation. Kelly is the only one who believes he can work with this roster and he is probably right. Also, he has been handed a lot of power to make a lot of very important decisions. Getting rid of Chip Kelly the coach means getting rid of Chip Kelly the GM. The next head coach and GM in all likelihood will scrap this team and start over.

Regardless of how the Eagles finish their season, Kelly can do no wrong. If the Eagles somehow win all their remaining games, Chip Kelly will look like a genius (somewhat) and he will have another year to show the league how delusional he is. If he is fired, every major college football program with a need for a head coach will look to have him at the helm. The worst part about firing Chip Kelly is that firing him gives him an easy way out of the mess that he has created. His hands will be washed clean of the Eagles franchise and he gets to move on as if nothing happened. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if franchises started adding in fix-my-team clauses (I just made that up) in a new head coach’s contract that states that any bonehead decisions that the head coach makes will be undone if the decisions made worsen the team. That way, everyone gets to rest easier at night knowing that the franchise-breaking decisions made by the few and the nightmares that follow are only temporary.

 

Peyton Manning Benched on His Own Day: Is Manning at the End of the Line Now?

 


The Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) humiliate the Denver Broncos (7-2) 29-13 in Denver. What makes matters worse is that according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, starting QB Peyton Manning, who finished the day going 5-20 for 35 yards and four interceptions before being replaced by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler in the 3rd quarter of Sunday’s game, has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot and has had trouble walking. Manning is believed to have suffered the injury against the Indianapolis Colts on November 8, meaning that Manning has had this injury for weeks. With the loss to the Chiefs, the Broncos’ 11-game home winning streak has been snapped and the team has lost back-to-back games for the first time since weeks 2 and 3 of the 2012-13 season.

Are We Seeing the End of Peyton?

Coming into this game, Manning needed just a measly 4-yard completion to RB Ronnie Hillman to break the all-time passing yards record set by Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre. Once he broke the record, he received a standing ovation along with nods from some of the Chiefs’ players. This all happened in the first quarter. By the third quarter, he was being booed off the field by the very same ‘fans’ and was even mocked by the Chiefs at one point when they had a defensive lineman line up to defend a receiver at one point. Once Osweiler came into the game, the crowd cheered as if a primed John Elway had stepped into the huddle.

Manning’s season thus far has been an utter disappointment and a far cry from the one we saw just two seasons ago. The once prolific passer now has 17 interceptions in just nine games. One would have thought that his brother Eli had stepped in to play for him. Ironically, that joke can’t be used because even Eli has looked 1000 times better than his brother this season. Even though injuries can slow any athlete down and are valid excuses for why Peyton has struggled for the last two seasons, he still has complete control over his decision-making. In the three games that Manning has actually looked decent (at least to me: Kansas City, Green Bay, Indianapolis), he still looked average overall if we’re measuring him by his standards. And by his standards, he has looked awful this season. Anyone else seems like a better option at QB at this point.

Broncos’ Playoff Chances at This Point

All isn’t loss for the Broncos however. Manning’s latest injury isn’t season ending; the team still has a top-ranked defense and is only 7-2. They still have a chance to make the playoffs by default considering the division they play in (AFC West not the NFC West). However, after seeing Manning’s worst performance ever, winning is going to be that much tougher. The defense will need to step up its play and the offense needs to develop a running game (in the worst way) to protect whomever will be the starting quarterback going forward. If I’m head coach Gary Kubiak, I’ve just about had enough of Manning until he proves to me that he is indeed healthy (and not just pretending to be) considering the fact that pretty much all season, the Broncos have been winning games in spite of Manning instead of because of him. He IS their weakest link. Seeing his teammates come to his defense week after week is to be expected, but we all know that behind closed doors, it is killing them inside. His teammates won’t say anything out loud but under their breaths, they’re wondering if Tim Tebow still wants to play.

Conclusion

In all seriousness, Peyton Manning is still a great quarterback and we may or may not be seeing the last of him. I cannot recall a greater athlete that has had a farther fall from grace in such a short amount of time (unless you want to add Ronda Rousey to the list). From the greatest statistical season ever to a downright horrible one, from a Super Bowl appearance to one on the bench, hell, from being recognized as one of the premier passers in the game to being that one guy that keeps doing the Papa Johns’ commercials, The Peyton Manning that we once knew is long gone. The Broncos’ next game is against the Chicago Bears led by former Broncos’ head coach and current Bears’ head coach John Fox. If Manning is starting, hopefully Fox shows some respect and doesn’t ask the secondary and the defensive linemen to switch places for the game.

 

SAD NEWS: Braves Lose One of Their Own

chris hanson

cc   by Keith_Allison


Former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson died Monday night at the age of 29. He was surrounded by former teammates at the time of his passing.

Hanson suffered “catastrophic organ failure”, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta, and had been hospitalized at Piedmont Hospital since early Sunday morning after claiming to have had breathing problems.

“We are incredibly saddened to learn of Tommy’s tragic passing,” said Braves president John Schuerholz in a statement released by the organization. “He was a favorite in the clubhouse and with our staff and he will truly be missed by everyone in Braves Country.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family, former teammates and friends.”

Hanson was a former 22 round pick by the Braves back in 2005. After going through the trials of the minor leagues for a few years, the 6’ 6, 220 pound right-handed Hanson was considered a top prospect for the club going into the 2009 season (his rookie year). That season, he finished the season 11-4 with an ERA of 2.89, 116 strikeouts, and finished third in voting for National League Rookie of the Year award behind J.A. Happ and Chris Coghlan.

Injuries and personal tragedy would eventually slow down Hanson, who made his last MLB appearance for the Los Angeles Angels in 2013. Afterwards, he bounced around the league signing contracts with teams such as the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and the San Francisco Giants, but never started another game.

Hanson’s career lasted for five seasons. Overall, he went 49-35 with a 3.80 ERA and 648 strikeouts.

The Atlanta Braves, the city of Atlanta, and the MLB will remember him for his contributions and his warm personality.