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NFL17 Pre-Play: Nobody Bullied the Beav and No One Needles the NFL, Kaep Krew

9 Aug

If you’re an NFL fan or root for Colin Kaepernick, not always mutually exclusive mental states, and feed those foibles by perusing online sport sites, you’ll know it has become common in recent years for certain players to have developed a cult-like following amongst the media, junior scribes, in particular. Individually, five names have received more press than probably every player combined, excepting Broadway Joe, of course, since the National went on-wire in 1920:

1) Johnny Manziel
2) Tim Tebow
3) Michael Sam
4) Colin Kaepernick
5) Richard Sherman

At this posting only one of the five, Sherman, has a job with our nation’s new national pastime (When a home run derby is your showcase event of the season, there’s big trouble) and soon to become international funfest (See; London).

Of the other four, it’s possible Manziel and Kaepernick could get a call for a 2017 quarterback tryout as injuries begin to mount in the League on commencement of training camps and contact. But that’s becoming more doubtful as the recent rapid-signing in Miami of free-agent QB Jay Cutler and longer-than-expected list of somewhat suspect number (#) ones (Kessler (CLE), McCown (NYJ), Hoyer (SF), Taylor (BUF), Glennon (CHI), Siemian (DEN), Savage (HOU)) penciled-in for 2017 strongly suggests about both their desirability.

For Tebow, who last played with the Jets in 2012, the chance of an NFL return is nearly nil. Tim’s rather particular (prideful), shunning CFL and tight-end talk, a spot for which he was tailor-made. Same holds true for Sam (nil) who never made a roster after being drafted late in 2014 (7 / 249), having two tryouts (STL / DAL), an invite to a combine and a brief suit-up with Montreal (CFL). Mike does, for some reason, have his own page at PFR.com, sans the Alouettes.

None of those deactivated states has stopped certain media from alternatively appeasing (groupies) or depressing (fans of sport) readers with a steady stream of stories seemingly designed to persuade, cajole or bully the League, its owners and neutral fans into giving three of the four another shot at the big time.

But “Eddie Haskell” couldn’t bully “Beaver Cleaver,” Reid & Pelosi couldn’t bully Dan Snyder, his Washington Redskins and the American Indian rank & file (See; WP “9 of 10” poll (2016)) and nobody bullies the NFL to decide who it hires and who it doesn’t. An exception: Ray Rice and women’s advocacy. The ex-Raven’s rehab appears real but his stigma sticks: Video is video, thanks to TMZ (ugh).

If you think that’s a poor analogy, then you never knew Leave It to Beaver (1957-63). It’s impact on Americana made Vince Lombardi’s power sweep look almost happenstance. And if you don’t know the sweep (Kramer – Gregg) you’d best bone up. Start in State of Ohio, then find George Halas (IL) and go from there.

Michael Sam

When Sam told the nation of his homosexual orientation just prior to the 2014 NFL draft, likely hoping to forestall his stock drop to a level so low he feared being undrafted entirely, his act was lauded by captured media as socially significant. It might have been more accurately called a self-serving act of leverage. A League that would appear unwelcoming to the first openly gay pro football player, college skill-set aside, might suffer a consumer backlash, so the Suits & Skirts may’ve thunk. Sam gets the call late from a Rams club seeking a re-location vote, then a tryout from affable Jerry Jones who is always looking for new renters (AT&T). The NFL looked open-minded, Sam got his cup o’ Gatorade® and everybody felt a little cheated.

Colin Kaepernick

Sherman recently claimed Kaepernick is being blackballed on his race. But that won’t fly. The NFL’s composition is overwhelmingly African-American. Others claim jingoism is motivating CK’s critics, arising from what appeared an anthem protest on police brutality, suspiciously timed as the former 49er’s starter-string in San Francisco looked to’ve run out. But America was born on protest (Stamp Act 1765). Refusing to stand at attention for the flag ceremony is disfavored but not necessarily offensive to most citizens of these United States. What owners may’ve found abhorrent (Tuesday nite ESPN reports Giants’ owner John Mara likes the Milwaukee-native to suit-up somewhere in the NFL for 2017) were Colin’s racist white pig socks. It doesn’t have to be a forgiveable act but until Kaepernick takes responsibility, even a re-signing won’t make him legitimate.

What if nobody comes calling from the NFL, where does Colin go from there? Oprah? That’d be nice, for him, when he and his co-author get a book done (I don’t know Dick’s writing skills but he does like a by-line (See; SI.com)). And believing in something (faith) is not enough. Wisdom, and no small amount of courage, do both matter. Protest can be passionate, or it can be theater if it lacks heart & soul (truth). And he can forget about autograph shows, they’re pro-diversity and patriotic, but the NBA célébrité will always be welcoming.

John Manziel

Johnny Football: He never did earn that moniker. Jon thought talent was the trick. So did Todd Marinovich, “Robo-QB.” He could matriculate in a typhoon but made drugs his love. Manziel could’ve been the greatest college quarterback in history but made booze his squeeze. We don’t really know anything’s changed at this posting. For a run-QB who never learned to take hits in the pocket, THE pro skill, Johnny Skittles can’t afford to have fun being stupid any longer. Like Colin, Jon never respected the game, or the business. That won’t be tolerated, not by owners, players, coaches, real fans or the almighty Sponsors.

Tim Tebow

It’s curious, Tim may be the only NFL signal-caller to have, in his one near-full campaign under center (2014 Denver), compiled a better than .500 record (7-4), led the most captivating team win-streak in recent memory (6-0), won a road playoff game (@ Pittsburgh) on a GWD touchdown strike, yet, the next season, be ungraciously traded away (Jets) where, for one season, he finished his brief career in a non-QB job as a decoy flanker-back (?). Curious, indeed.

Tebow’s fandom is still vast, kept current with his baseball venture in the Mets minors, one most likely to end in the same fashion to that of his pro football career when (if) on promotion he meets that “wicked” major league curveball, known to derail & dash many a career (See; Bull Durham (88)).

Most scribes never did subscribe to the Book of Timbo, hence, never did promote his cause for return. Bart Simpson just won’t rock to Christian hip-hop. Like all run-QBs, Tim’s skill-set proved limited (47.9 C%). But other wily field generals have too relied heavily on stoking emotional fires to wins & careers, Billy Kilmer comes to mind (1967: 10g, 47.5%, 0-4, 6t-11i (16y)), and Tim, had he been NFL retained, would’ve most likely seen his skill-set progress at least in the manner of fellow flashman CK: Never top tier (Brady / Moon) but a sufficiency to roster. And then nobody put fans in the seats, stadium and home, like Tebow did. The reality for the NFL is that flash-QB, with all his shortcomings (rabbit, RIF-fail), is here to stay, given his popularity in college by great success (titles / Heismans) and facilitator of coach-lite: Just give the Kid the ball and count the wins.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: NFL-wikiproject, Ixnay-Beao; C.Kaepernick, wc.cca, 10.27.13, D.Hartwig; M.Sam, wc, ED.Drost, 8.23.14; Starlito-T.Tebow-L.Garrett, wc, 11.1.12; J.Manziel, Kyle-Field, wc, shutterbug459, 10.20.12; J.Marshall, Topps, 1970.
Posted: 8.9.17 @ 12:39a EST, edit 8.10; Copyright © 2017

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NCAAF.16: It’s Saban, Meyer,…then Everyone Else in FBS-D1

2 Sep

..........Saban.wc.8.18.9.2.47m.RammaJammaYellaI’m not one to watch CNBC and the like. That goes for most TV today. Can’t stand the ADD-delivery, the lies (faux-reality), the dumb-down (The Simpsons) and the double-dipping (commercials and monthly bill).

But I love sport, even as I’m portfolio poor.

At times, wish I had just that sort of insatiable appetite for all things money that some others possess and profit by, but I find learning of its accumulation to be about as interesting as lawncare or home repair. That wasn‘t always the case.

As a young lad I was possessed of a junior but fairly savvy business bent.

Example: When beer can collecting was the craze (70s) I sold my stock before market went belly-up. Unfortunately, soon after, I’d discover…correction, was taught, how to empty those cans with gusto (Burp!). Regardless, I always did find Louis Rukeyser’s motif (♫) and monologue (Wall Street Week) to be quite intoxicating, even if a bit esoteric towards the Cufflink crowd.

.........beer.cans.Visitor7.2012.wc.1.8kBut one need not be money-minded to know corporations like Apple and CVS Health are corporate heavies who set the bar in their respective fields of techno-gadgetry and healthcare sales. They’re in a league of their own, able to brush off periodic DTs in QEs to remain ahead of the curve, not by following trends but often by setting them, remaining innovative, recruiting the top prospects and of course gobbling the competition, the last, by courtesy of Commerce, Justice Departments and federal bench. Oy vey.

AOTC in sales is sweet, but if they and their peers could only heed the pit calls for costumer service and quality control. Trailing oil but bad.

That aside, when the new fiscal season kicks-off, all eyes lock on the leaders.

And it’s no different in college ball.

Saturday will see most institutions of higher learning begin their football seasons and take those first steps in that long, arduous trek towards what they hope is a berth in a title tussle or at least a bowl invite.

.........Meyer.11.30.13.A.Glanzman.289k.wcAnd when that pigskin takes to flight and the smack-of-pads fill the crisping air, there are two titan-esque tacticians who strode the FBS-D1 sideline and, more than any Heisman-hyped player, excepting the rare Manziel, Tebow or Herschel Walker who steal the show, will pull the gaze of fans and set the standard that all emulate.

The Giants: Nick Saban (The University of Alabama) and Urban Meyer (The Ohio State University).

Between ‘em both they claim eight (8) national championships: Saban (Fairmont, WV (‘51)) won one at Louisiana State (‘03 (3)) and has four in Tuscaloosa (‘09, 11, 12, ‘15 (16)), while Meyer took two as a Gator guru (‘06, 08 (3)) and one in his native Ohio (Toledo (‘64)) in Buckeyes’ land in 2014 (8).

It’s Saban, Meyer and then everybody else who seems to follow and hope when it comes to coach competition on the big school gridiron.

Is that good or bad? That all depends on your perspective.

Glass half-empty view says, Saban and Meyer, while not technically a monopoly on titles and recruitment, are a cartel of two.

It’s like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo versus Dr Pepper Snapple (Brian Kelly (ND)) and Faygo (Jim Harbaugh), up n’ comer in the beverage biz and headquartered in Detroit (rappers seem to love it (See; Wikipedia), for whatever reason).

........Coke.car.wc.Curitiba.PR.568k.Morio.3.18.6These two title-hogs are quelling the competition in college football’s upper echelon, only in that rare case where a golden nugget should appear in the pan as in Heisman winning, Seminole national champion and soda taste-tester (Burger King (‘13)) Jameis Winston, who will come along to break-up the monotony.

Even when the State of Florida was dominating Division-1 play, beginning in the early 1980s and running into the 2000s, with the likes of Miami (Schnellenberger / Johnson / Erickson), Florida State (Bowden) and Florida (Spurrier / Meyer), there were still plenty of top programs around the nation to add variety with Holtz at Notre Dame, McCarthy at Colorado, Osborne at Nebraska, Switzer at Oklahoma, James at Washington, Carr at Michigan and then Tressel (TOSU) and Carroll (USC) at close of the Sunshine reign.

All meaning, college football’s half-empty glass could use a re-fill of diversity, maybe with a twist or two and a “straw” to stir it up. If only “Johnny Trouble” had had the brains to stay in school (TA&M). The chicken n’ egg thing.

The glass half-full take: There is a special kind of consistency of quality that comes with winners like Meyer & Saban, in league with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky’s John Calipari in men’s college b-ball. They all run tight ships and come into port with tremendous booty.

........Krzyzewski.wc.1.12.12.DMCullen.DoD.4mNick and Urban appear polar opposites. Saban with a bit of his father’s flair while Urban is all business. In truth, they’re probably more alike than different. Titlists still put their pants on one leg at a time.

Saban the Younger responding to a press query last week about fights in practice:

“Alright, so, to me there’s never a time for guys to lose their cool. I think those are selfish decisions (If he loses it), that are emotional decisions that don‘t really help your team (AL.com, 8.26.16).” And Saban said the key word: “Team.”

Not the same verve & vigor of Dad, Lou Saban (d.2009), who is an NFL Films legend in class with Chiefs’ Hank Stram (d.2005) (Saban in 60s Buffalo: “They’re killin’ me, Whitey, they’re killin’ me!!,” and 1974: “If we die, we die together…you can get it done, what’s more…you GOTTA’ get it done!”). But like Urban, Nick’s very perceptive, decisive and can sometimes sport that easy smile reflecting his familial love for the game and the life.

For those half-empty tumbler types, there is hope in busting up the Saban – Meyer continuum of championships.

.......Harbaugh.12.30.14.wc.E.Upchurch.216kWolverines‘ trustees have paid ‘Hurry-Up’ Harbaugh a king’s ransom in nearly every form of legal tender imaginable (salary, loans, etc.) and wouldn’t surprise if they’d had Michigan Stadium (“Big House”) re-named in his honor if it expedites matters;

Jimbo Fisher has his guys well positioned (#2) but needs to prove there’s life at FSU after Jameis Winston (See; Chizik (AU));

Brian Kelly looks to be on cusp (again) of finally getting his chomping-at-the-bit golden-domer alumni that long awaited return to prominence (‘88);

Charlie Strong (UT) and Kev Sumlin (A&M) are getting national championship money ($5M) but have their programs headed in the wrong way;

Bob Stoops (OU) is a winner (‘00) but testing the patience of Normanites;

Les Miles (early Google gets Les Miserables (Hugo)) (LSU) is a winner too (‘07) but agreeing to Lambeau locale, even versus #25 Badgers, has this writer miffed;

Best coach in Texas, Gary Patterson has been TCU’ing for most this century (143-47 (9-5)) and like Dabo in SC is looking for that break-through moment.

........Swinney.10.31.15.wc.LambeauLeap80.94kClemson’s Dabo Swinney may have nation’s best progression (75-27) since taking reins (08) and top candidate to topple cartel. Explains the raise ($5M).

Mark Dantonio (MSU) is a serious man and getting serious coin but in serious need of a CFP spot;

Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) is showing steady progression not unlike Vince Lombardi in those early Green Bay days (7-5, 8-4, etc.) but faces top Seminoles (#2) in opener, ♫ (over) in F..L..A ♫;

Jim Mora (UCLA) slipped in 2015 (8-5) but has the slate to soar in 2016; and

If Bob Petrino can keep it clean, find a class and get in position, watch out!

Even if another coach can work his men to win in Tampa next January, it’ll take a program awakening of Renaissance proportion to break up the titles tandem crafted by masters Saban and Meyer. A Michelangelo, da Vinci, El Greco, van Eyck, Botticelli, Titian, Cellini, a Raphael of football means, any style will do, but the gridiron artisan in head-set better know his medium and keep those titles coming if he’s to be remembered with the greats.

....brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.thm(WP.SB.USA14)Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credit: N.Saban, wc.cca, 8.18.9, RammaJammaYella; beer.cans, 2012, Visitor7, wc; U.Meyer, wc, 11.30.13, A.Glanzman; Coke.car, wc, Curitiba-PR, Morio; M.Krzyzewski, wc, 1.12.12, DM.Cullen, DoD; J.Harbaugh, wc, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; D.Swinney, wc, LambeauLeap80, 10.31.15; brass-tack, J.Dalton, wc
Posted: 9.2.16 @ 5:10pm, edit @ 9:35 EST; Copyright © 2016

NBA.F16: Awesome v. Epic As Cavs & Wars’ Worlds Collide

1 Jun

Mind v. Matter

Dandy dust-ups from the past century:

Ford v. Chevy: In a car culture these titans owned the road

Hamburger v. hot dog: Battle over barbecue taste buds never ends

Edison (DC) v. Tesla (AC): Geniuses wrestle for the right to light.

Crawford v. Davis: Golden age film greats fight for fans hearts & minds

Lakers v. Celtics: Early, often and coast-to-coast, their war made the NBA

Mantle v. Mays: In the hero-era, their images held sway over card collectors

The Beatles v. Elvis: British invaders, the mop-top lads moved Mr. Swivel out

Pepsi-Cola v. Coca Cola: Begins brand loyalty but this one can get out of hand;

Catsup v. ketchup: Speech style stirred debate until Hunts® bailed on the Cat.

Tastes great! v. Less filing!: Same vats (Miller) but campaign kept its head.

The Simpsons v. Family Guy: “Brian” alone makes this cartoon call easy as pie.

NBA.F16 features a collision in basketball styles and celebrity cults that is sure to rank among the best in entertainment annals.

........James.K.Allison.wc.thm.11.21.14With tip-off set for 9pm Thursday nite (6.2) at Oracle in Oakland, defending champ Golden State Warriors takes on a familiar foe from 2015 Finale, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as Warriors seek a cherry-on-top for a record 73 win season while the Cavaliers try again to deliver a first Larry O‘Brien title trophy to the Forest City.

Two faces decorate the marquee for this dollar donnybrook: Reigning MVP (2) Steve Curry v. 4-time winner LeBron James, both smooth customers and maybe the two hottest commercial commodities across these Consumer States of America (CSA).

Curry, coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors are darlings of the young set, their older siblings in journalism, Disney (ESPN) and not a small number of the ladies who may happen to drop in. Kerr’s Krew rely heavily upon the 3-pt shot, a tack heretofore unseen on Assc’n stage. When they’re turning the tres they set records and wow the crowd, but when they lay bricks the scaffolding can all come down.

Warriors best defense? The mind-game. Not the cruel kind, but in by-product.

It’s just one way in which 3-pt’er (’79) has gradually altered the game of b-ball: Inside action shifts to the high-post, less physicality even for mountain-sized men, 90s trend down in defense continues as tres-defenders opt-out in the risk-benefit balance and swings in momentum that can be seismic (GSW @ OKC G6).

To the last change, it’s not just an extra point the tres tacks on, it’s the psychological impact on the opposition that can demoralize and alter game plan. That’s not necessarily based on rational thought of the opposition but then in a sport where emotions run the gamut, who’s always rational? Coaches, captains try to fend off the heebie-jeebies but the current design of game can make it difficult, especially in final few.

.......Curry.3.2.11.wc.K.Allison.thmbCurry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Kerr and the rest of GSW must be commended for exploiting a shot that when made in bushels has, with a Freudian-like finesse, worked inside the heads of opponents. It can emotionally stifle a foes’ momentum, drain confidence while enunciating their own speech-in-swishery (Klay’s 3-pt mark), often running up the bill late in the session: Mind over matter.

In the other corner, the Cavs are, of course, led by Lego® LeBron, a team he, with owner Gilbert, built to their specs, though, 5th-year-point-guard-who-plays-like-shooting-guard Kyrie Irving does his best to pile points and tug the spotlight.

Earlier greats like Mikan, Russell, Cousy & Havlicek, Chamberlain & West, Big-O & Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan & Pippen, Shag, Kobe and Duncan, all sold the NBA product with lots o’ wins and titles galore, but no player has so completely embraced, mastered the role of corporate player as has Mr. James.

Still the favorite of most fans, young & old alike, LeBron guided his teams to enough Finals (6) and hoisted sufficient O’Briens (2) to legitimize his pitch to the public but carries himself with a dignity wrapped in a calm – cool -collected demeanor that should make him the envy of every marketing Cufflink in the land.

The crystal-ball reads pretty clear on this series.

Both squads are near full strength for this rematch of 2015 Final, Cleveland this time having services of their high paid, multi-skilled big-man-with-the-soft-shooting-touch in Love who exited early in 2015 playoffs. He, like his counterpart in Curry are both managing recent injuries that, if inflamed, could alter plans.

.......James.Love.Irving.wc.E.Drost.thm.10.1.14How to fend off the injury bug? Player regimen in nutrient supplementation at this point in the journey, including the Bs, ashwagandha, alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10, D3 and magnesium, all help with the blues, bruises, bones and boost. Then there are offerings to the Sporting Gods. Herbs & beer are tradition. Can’t be too careful.

On defense, you don’t get this far without knowing its value and how to employ it, at least most of the time, anyway, and then both benches are well stocked with capable talent but won’t make the starters too nervy.

Cleveland balances better on scoring, hold an edge on the boards and while Warriors are fleeter-of-feet they don’t utilize it to full advantage, often pulling up on the perimeter to launch the T-bombs (3-pt). Wars are slightly more proficient at the charity-stripe (.764 (.748)) and than can play big in close contests.

Warriors Keys

Prolific shooters in Curry & Thompson keep firing away, working through slumps that may befall. And having a back-up plan at the ready when the 3s start rattling the rim and ♫ clang clang clang ♫ like a San Fran trolley would be wise. Didn’t see one in the WC. Easier said than done but necessity’s the father of invention.

Cavaliers Keys

Avoid vesting heavily in 3-pt’er even as they’ve a panache (“25”), not let Golden showers of 3s (bad for sure but you gotta’ laugh) set their minds to worry, give ’em the Freudian slip, so to speak, utilize Kevin to his full potential (sure) to consistently impose their real strength: Power, in drive and rebound: Matter-a-fact-in-your-face, so to speak.

.......James.wc.4.27.8.K.Allison.thmThat’s where James mellow-mode, a corporate winner and fine with lesser foes, must give way to a controlled aggression in the Finals to put fear into hearts of men, not just those in blue & yellow but co-workers who need their minds set right too. Leadership, they call it.

Big shots (The Beatles) can afford big risks (♫ Getting Better ♫), Mr. James. Think of it in these terms, LeBron, “the (risk) you take is equal to the (market impact) you make.” Cha-ching!

Many in sportology will vacillate by keying on different players to rise to the occasion as the series evolves, hoping the roll comes up 7-11. I don’t play that game. The stars will perform and the support staff with shine depending on the circumstance (foes), their mood and level of moxie. That’s sport.

Who wins this NBA16 championship bout? Cavaliers most likely.

The interlude Cleveland’s enjoyed after dispatching Toronto with relative ease (4-2) can work a determent in dulling an edge, throwing a rhythm. That’s how it plays in football and rounders not infrequently. But in a sport like b-ball where the pace is grueling (soccer) and the post-season gauntlet runs long (NHL), more time off before a title round can heal wounds and re-charge draining batteries.

Rest gives an edge to the Forest City folk over a weary Warriors bunch who compiled 73 RS wins only to be pushed to 7G by a determined OKC bunch and escape by the “hair on their chinny chin chin(s).” Plus, the Ohioans should weather better those sure-to-come 3-point barrages than did the Thunder, possessing the men & methods to counter-punch on that point. At least that’s the arsenal it appears Cavs’ head coach Tyronn Lue n’ staff have at the ready.

.....straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight-Shooter
Photo credits: S.Curry, wc.cca, 4.6.14, N.Salzman; L.James, wc, K.Allison, 11.21.14; Curry, wc, K.Allison, 3.2.11; Love-Irving-James, wc, 10.1.14, E.Drost; James, wc, 4.27.8, K.Allison; Straight-Shooter, produce-label.
Posted: 6.1.16 @ 11:56am; Copyright © 2016