Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just plain nuts!

Unless you live under a rock, today was one of the absolute nuttiest days in the world of sports in quite some time. As one situation unfolded, another popped up, each with profound impact on the national and Ohio sports scenes.

"Sources are indicating"...

Today we had yet another website come out with "sources" claiming top ten draft picks and/or their agents told them that they will not play in Cleveland should the Browns deem them worthy of the number four pick in April.

According to Matt Miller (who is a Senior NFL Draft Lead Writer at Bleacher Report and Founder of New Era Scouting... whatever THAT is supposed to mean I'm not sure, but it would be more impressive if it were for, say, the worldwide leader), agents for top draft picks have told him their clients do not want the Browns to draft them. Miller claims that "I have now heard from three agents, all with top ten picks, who don’t want to play for the Browns.”

Where do I begin... That an agent or a player, in this day and age, would say that is not shocking. It isn't an unbelievable statement or something he may have made up. I truly believe him. I'd bet three agents told him that and a there is a handful of others that are thinking it. After "The Decision" and seeing Eli Manning refuse to go to San Diego and countless other ridiculous "I'm taking my ball and going home" statements and actions from athletes, this doesn't surprise me at all.

It also doesn't surprise me that it is the Cleveland Browns these players/agents are wishing to be clear of. What, with their one playoff appearance, one ten win season, countless amounts of ruined or missed top five draft picks, coaching carousel, GM carousel, alleged "football czars" and a fanbase that will burn your house down if you aren't in the Pro Bowl yearly (and not just there or have backed your way in, you have to have dominated, we see through that crap) why wouldn't every draft prospect be clamoring for the Browns to select them as this years "chosen one"?

I don't doubt Miller's statement. While I do homer for my teams, I'm not blind. What is upsetting about Miller's comment's are twofold: That he won't name the players and by doing so it seems more like an attempt to rack up website hits.

I understand "sources". I understand that to be an insider, you can't give up your sources. That being said, there is a reason ESPN, Tony Grossi and whoever pays him now or any other major sports outlet, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer until late this afternoon when Terry Pluto briefly touched on the reasons a player would not want to be drafted or sign in Cleveland as a free agent may have, have thus far made no comment on and ignored this story. The reason is that until you name the players or agents, there is no story. All you have is a guy saying "I can't tell you who, but top players do not want to play in Cleveland... and I can't tell you who told me."

How can you name the players or agents and not "out" your sources? The way that I'm sure any of the big time insiders do, they let the agent decide. If the agent is the one saying it, the insider can tell the agent "I'll report the story, but I'm saying the players name, however I won't say you are the source" thereby putting it out that player X doesn't want Cleveland and the kid has no idea who told the reporter. Or, to the agent, "I'm reporting that one of your clients has said he doesn't want Cleveland, per your comments, and you can deal with the media blitz but keep the pressure off the kid." Either way works for me.

I don't think people like Miller realize how bad rumors like this can be for an organization trying to rebuild its integrity and product on the field. They're out interviewing players, watching workouts, studying film, trying to make the pick that will turnaround the fortunes of their franchise. Having a rumor such as this (and don't think it can't spread or get out of control, it was just last week that it was rumored only one player had said he didn't want to play in Cleveland, now it's three!)can sabotage that whole process. Serious questions arise: Who are we wasting our time scouting? If we ask this kid straight up, will he lie to us? Is this kid going to come around and warm up to this organization once he's here, or will he be a cancer in the locker room and destroy team chemistry?

Miller, how can you have an agent tell you something that damaging to the front office of an organization and sit on it or not name either of the principal parties names? And if the agent doesn't want to take the heat for the comment, then he shouldn't have said it in the first place or YOU shouldn't have reported it at all!

Maybe the problem is that your writing as a whole, well, just isn't very good. Maybe the problem is that you need garbage like this, otherwise maybe nobody would go to your website. And if you were a good writer, you wouldn't need TMZ stories with unnamed participants trying to drag an organization working its tail off to give its fans some wins, through the mud so you can accumulate website clicks. Instead, you'd write a blistering piece on the agent or the player, what's wrong in Cleveland, how this affects the draft, it goes on and on the possibilities of truly compelling stories that can come from information like this.

And that's how you could get ahead Mr. Miller. Report some real news, write it from the heart, and give an honest unbiased evaluation of the situation. But I have a feeling you're afraid to take that chance... probably because you don't write so well, afterall.


I won't spend a lot of time talking about Tim Tebow tonight, you've heard enough about him since he was a freshman at Florida and helped ruin a perfectly good championship season for our Buckeyes. I will say this: I like him.

My admiration has nothing to do with his work ethic. The drive and determination of this kid is like nobody we have ever seen. It has nothing to do with his always being team first, like the way he handled things in Denver when John Elway called and told him Peyton Manning was on his way. And more to the point of that phone call, the class the kid exudes. It has nothing to do with his religion, though I do admire his commitment to faith and not being afraid to put it on his sleeve for everyone to see.

No, I like/admire/root for Tim Tebow for one solo reason: I have never seen one player, in my lifetime, elicit the type of venomous hate from Steeler fans that is directed toward Tim Tebow. Ask a Steeler fan about Tebow and watch the instant borderline crazed insanity that comes over them! It is a thing of pure beauty rivaled only by the likes of Sophia Vergara or Kate Upton!

My question is, why? I understand he beat them in the playoffs. Don't most fans respect an opponent that beats them? It's not like Tebow was using smoke and mirrors that day. They found a weakness in Puke's secondary and exploited it. More than a weakness, it was an arrogance. And they got toasted in the process. Game over.

I just don't understand a fanbase that supposedly supports the blue collar hard workers becoming so enraged at the hardest worker of them all. Of course, and you know where this is going, these are the same people who give standing ovations to the guy who wears seven and isn't allowed within 100 miles of a Georgia restroom.

In all seriousness (auto-correct let 'seriousness' go, thought I'd get flagged on that one) I wish Tebow the best. I'd give the Browns fourth round pick for him for no other reason than his leadership and ability to get the team to focus and commit to the cause of winning. Besides, nobody wants drafted by the Browns, so that fourth rounder would be a waste anyway.

The Saints go marching out...

What more can be said about Sean Payton being suspending for a year and Greg Williams suspended indefinitely other than wow! To quote Cleveland's own Bone Thugs'n Harmony, Roger Goodell was "takin' no shorts and no losses" when he threw this punishment down this afternoon. This had to, absolutely had to, send shock-waves throughout front offices around the league.

If you're not familiar, in quick summation: at the conclusion of a three year investigation into the New Orleans Saints coaching staff, notably head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Greg Williams, for allegations that they were running a "bounty" program whereby players were financially rewarded for inflicting harm with illegal hits and taking opponents physically out of the game, were found to be guilty of the charges but also of lying to the commish Roger Goodell and attempting to cover it up. The organization was fined $500,000.00 and two second round draft choices, along with a few other coaches and executives being suspended.

I love rough football. I love the trench war, seeing guys get rocked and get back up to give out some of their own. There's something empowering about a running back plowing through defenders, dragging would-be tacklers. Nothing like guys getting shoulders crushed into their ribs and chest and violently driven to the ground. But you have to do it legally.

And not only does purposely attempting to take a player out of a game risk serious injury to said player, in my humble opinion it makes the "bounty hunter" look like a coward. I want to beat you on my own merit, with my own skill, with the gameplan of my coaches. And I want your absolute best. Like Goodell, no shorts and no losses, I want it all or I don't want it. I don't want an excuse when you're beat, other than for you to say you got beat. The Saints decided the integrity of the game wasn't important and decided to try and cheat. Turns out, they won a Super Bowl with the bounty ongoing. The punishment fits the crime.

Sweet 16 and Cinci-tucky

And if all THAT isn't enough, tomorrow Sully, Craft and the boys take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the NCAA Sweet 16. An ages old basketball rivalry is renewed on the biggest of stages. I have to admit, even with a 9:50 east coast start time, I'm fired up!

I don't want to sit here and break down matchups or give keys to victory, I'll leave that for the hoops experts, or at least the guys who know a little something about basketball x's and o's. All I'll say is enjoy it! Sit back, put on your colors, cheer like crazy. And if Will Buford starts getting hot, and Deshaun Thomas is already hot...

What else could there be?

Simple answer is not much. Tristan Thompson is looking like a future all-star. Kyrie Irving is a future all-star and maybe one day an MVP candidate. Chris Grant got a first rounder for Ramon Sessions. Yeah, I know there was more to the deal, so what?

On a personal note, Charlotte is a pretty great city. I live minutes from Uptown Charlotte, which is what we in Ohio would call "Downtown Charlotte". They don't call it downtown, and actually are quick to correct you if you make the mistake of calling uptown "downtown". I'm around ten minutes from Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers) and Time Warner Cable Arena (home of the dreadful Charlotte Bobcats). There is literally so much to do here it is going to take me years to figure it all out and make a dent in seeing it all. It's a busy city!

Until next time... Goodnight now!

Metallica track of the week
Damage Inc.

"We chew and spit you out. We laugh you scream and shout. All flee with fear you run. You'll know just where we come from. Damage Incorporated."

Seems fitting for Thursday night! And if this don't get the neck sore, you're a lost cause!

Here's a video of Damage Inc. live from Lisbon, Portugal in 2010. Copy and paste that beast!!!

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