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BCS Champions! Disrespected Florida State Ends SEC Streak in Dramatic Fashion

In Sports on January 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Florida State BCS Champions

Is it possible to be a double-digit favorite in the BCS Championship Game and also be disrespected?  In the case of the Florida State Seminoles, the answer is a resounding YES!

The instant classic that took place in last night’s final BCS Championship Game will be remembered years from now for the 80-yard drive that Jameis Winston orchestrated with just over a minute left to play. Winston, the Hesiman Trophy quarterback, showed why he is considered the best player in college football.  However, his off-the-field issues nearly derailed the Seminoles’ championship run.  While Winston is clearly the MVP of the team, he is merely one of the reasons that Florida State earned their first national championship since 1999.  He couldn’t have done it without the two game-changing plays that took place on special teams, or the defense that stiffened in the second half after struggling early on, or his offensive teammates for that matter.

Florida State was, quite simply, the best team in college football this year.  With the exception of the game against Boston College and last night’s BCS Championship Game, they dominated every opponent.  They went on the road and crushed Clemson when both teams were undefeated; the same Clemson team that defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.  They destroyed Duke in the ACC Championship Game; the same Duke team that nearly defeated Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl.

Despite Florida State’s dominance throughout the year, there was talk of voters leapfrogging Ohio State over them into the BCS Championship Game if the Buckeyes won the Big Ten and Winston was unavailable to play.  As insulting as that would have been, it would have been worse if, Florida State,  an undefeated major conference team, was leapfrogged by a one-loss SEC team because of strength of schedule and the perception that all SEC teams are superior to the rest of the country.

Last night proved what a terrible injustice it would have been to the players who earned the right to play for a national championship.  Maybe Florida State wouldn’t have won without Winston, but the rest of the team deserved the chance to find out.

Winston stepped up and played his best when it mattered most, and as the quarterback and leader of the team, he will get the lion’s share of the credit.  However, without the contributions from special teams and defense, he never would have been in position to take his team down the field to win the game.

Football, at every level, is the ultimate team game.  Individual players can make a huge difference, but they cannot win by themselves.

The praise that Winston is getting for his performance is well-deserved.  To his credit, he always makes it a point to praise his teammates and coaches for their contributions.

Time has a way of glossing over the little things in life, especially when it comes to major sporting events.  Winston’s game-winning drive will always be remembered by the masses, but Florida State fans won’t soon forget Jimbo Fisher’s gutsy, fake punt that turned the tide in the game.  Nor will they forget Levonte Whitfield’s 100-yard kickoff return, P.J. Williams’ interception, the touchdown dive by Chad Abrams or the dramatic game-winning catch by Kelvin Benjamin.

Few among us will miss the BCS when college football finally starts its 4-team playoff next season.  Thankfully, the BCS got this one right, and it was rewarded with a game for the ages that delighted all of the college football fans who had grown weary of SEC dominance.  The SEC may have their streak of BCS Championships, but Florida State will be the last ones to ever hoist the crystal football.  A deserving champion if ever there was one!

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Finding Solace on the Diamond

In Family, Life, Life Lessons, Sports on October 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Z 1st HR

Some of my fondest childhood memories occurred between the chalk lines of the baseball diamond.  For many years I have shared these memories with my son.  Deep down, I always hoped that he would feel the same way about the game that defined my childhood.  To this day, no matter what the situation, I still seem to find solace on the diamond.

For the first time ever, my son played fall baseball this year.  It was the first football season that he has missed since he was five years old (see “Saying Goodbye to Pee Wee Football”).  The transition out of football had its challenging moments, but ultimately, he embraced the change and made the best of things.

The last game of his season was supposed to be played on the day that my mom passed away (see “Dear Mom…”).  Needless to say, my son never made it to the game as we spent that day shopping for clothes for my mom’s funeral.  It was a heartbreaking moment as we drove past the field on the way home from the mall, and we saw all of his teammates warming up for the game.  Thankfully, the league added another game as a bonus, so my son got one more chance to take the field on the day that he returned to school.

My expectations for the last game were virtually non-existent.  Under the circumstances, I just wanted him to get through the game the best that he could.  After sharing what my son had been through with the league director, he was slotted as the leadoff hitter for the home team.  He stepped up to the plate in the first inning with the baseball bat that my mom gave for his last birthday, wearing the batting helmet and batting gloves that were also part of the gift.  Always fearful of what could happen on the football field, my mom was overjoyed to buy him everything that he needed for baseball (her favorite sport).

He swung hard, but missed the first pitch.  The second pitch was a ball.  At that moment, I just hoped that he would be able to focus enough to put the ball into play.  The last thing that he needed in his fragile state of mind was a strikeout.  He drove the next pitch into the gap between the left and center fielders.  From the bleachers, I yelled to go for two.  When I saw how far out the ball was in the outfield, I yelled again for him to go all the way.  The look on his face as he touched home plate for his first homerun ever is something that I will never forget.  I ran to the dugout to give him a hug, congratulate him and tell him that he made Mimi very proud.  He followed up his homerun with two hard-hit singles, the best day of hitting that he has experienced thus far.

For those few hours, my mind was focused on how proud I was of my son, and it temporarily eased the pain and sense of loss that I was feeling about my mom.

Over the weekend, the two of us spent a few hours together on the baseball field.  He took his usual batting practice, and then pitched to me from behind a protective screen.  As much as he enjoyed hitting, he seemed to take more pleasure in watching me drive the ball deep into the outfield.  It was fun to relive my glory days, but more importantly, my son and I got a much needed respite from the overwhelming sadness that we’ve been feeling.

He has been trying to put on a brave face since my mom’s passing, but this morning, he finally confided in me that he was hurting badly.  He can’t understand why his life has changed so drastically in such a short amount of time, how we went from a planned birthday celebration for my mom to a funeral in a matter of days.  He so badly wants to tell Mimi about the homerun that he finally hit.  I do too.  We can only hope that she was watching with my dad.

The cold winter weather will arrive sooner than we would like, but until then, I plan on spending as much time as possible playing baseball with my son, and finding solace on the diamond.

 

 

 

Exit Sandman: A Bittersweet Bronx Goodbye for Mariano Rivera

In Sports on September 27, 2013 at 1:19 am

Mariano Rivera's Last Game at Yankee Stadium

The whirlwind farewell tour for Yankees’ closer, Mariano Rivera, certainly had to have its emotional moments, but nothing, including his retirement ceremony at Yankee Stadium, could have compared to his final moments in front of a near capacity crowd in the Bronx.  If this was Hollywood, Rivera would have entered game 7 of the World Series in the bottom of the 9th inning of a one-run game, retire the side, and the credits would roll over the still shot of Mo holding the championship trophy over his head.  However, no Hollywood ending could possibly measure up to the reality of the Bronx ending…raw, bittersweet and emotional. Not since Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech have so many tears flowed inside of a baseball stadium.

As Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blared through the crisp fall air of Yankee Stadium for Rivera’s final appearance as an active player, the legendary closer made his way to the mound as he has done so many times before.  Trailing 4-0 in the 8th inning of a relatively meaningless game, there was no pressure to perform, and no chance to earn one final save.  But it didn’t matter.  Mo’s last appearance will be remembered for many, many years to come by those who experienced it at the stadium or on TV.  As time passes, no one will remember that the Yankees lost to the division rival Tampa Bay Rays, although they may remember the tremendous class that the visiting team displayed, and the deference that they paid to one of the most transcendent players to ever play the game.

Rivera earned this night, not just because of his achievements, but also because of the way that he carried himself both on and off the field.  Mo arguably represents everything that is great about sports better than any other professional athlete in history.  However, no argument can be made about Rivera being the greatest closer in Major League Baseball history.  He is, quite simply, the best in the world at what he does, and his departure from the game will leave a void that extends way beyond the Yankees organization and their diehard fanbase.  The game of baseball will go on, as it always does, but it will never be the same without Rivera.

In his final game, Rivera faced four batters.  He didn’t blow his trademark cut fastball by any of the batters that he faced for a strikeout.  In fact, each batter made solid contact, but none reached base, largely due to Mo’s stellar fielding abilities, which haven’t diminished at all despite being the oldest player in the league.  Although he admittedly struggled to maintain his composure in the face of overwhelming emotions, Rivera retired each batter, just as he has done time and time again over the past two decades.

With two outs in the 9th inning, Joe Girardi got the approval to send Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter out to the mound to relieve their longtime teammate.  The three remaining members of the “Core Four” stood on the mound together for one last time in front of the home crowd.  Known for his unwavering composure, Rivera surprised himself as he broke down in the arms of Pettite when the reality of the moment set in.  After a long embrace, Jeter shared a similar moment with Rivera.  All the while, the members of the Rays all stood patiently outside of their dugout, and cheered along with the home crowd.  It didn’t matter that they were still fighting for their playoff lives.  This pivotal moment in baseball history was bigger than one game, regardless of its playoff implications.

While the game lacked suspense, Rivera’s unorthodox exit left everyone in the stands and the viewing audience wondering if he would return to the mound to face one last batter.  He wouldn’t, but it didn’t matter.  The last out of the inning was almost an afterthought, and Rivera had nothing left to prove.  A poetic ending to his illustrious career at Yankee Stadium was achieved as his performance inched him into first place as the pitcher with the lowest career ERA in Major League Baseball history.

Ideally, Rivera’s final innings would have occurred in the playoffs, but there is something to be said for having the last MLB player to ever don the number 42 end his career with 42 post season saves.

When it was all said and done, Rivera returned to the Yankee Stadium mound one last time after sitting alone in the dugout basking in the moment, perhaps purposely prolonging it so as to not have to say goodbye.  He dug his cleats in as if he was going to pitch, and then dropped to his knees as gathered a handful of loose dirt in his hands, taking a piece of the place that he has called home for nearly two decades.  It was a poignant moment that will always be remembered by those who watched it happen in real time, and for Rivera, it was undoubtedly a bittersweet Bronx goodbye.

 

 

A World Of Fantasy

In Family, Life, Sports on September 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

A World Of Fantasy

When Waldo’s Life launched on January 1, 2010, it was a simple, no-frills blog.  Through the years, it has evolved into much more than I ever anticipated.  Truth be told, I never expected anyone outside of my Facebook friends to read so much as one article back in 2010.  There has been an ebb and flow to Waldo’s Life – periods of constant updates, followed by long breaks for various reasons.  With no real goal in mind, other than to share my thoughts on various subjects (most notably my family life), it gives me great pleasure to announce that with this post, Waldo’s Life will break the 100,000 page view mark.  The title of the post – A World Of Fantasy – has nothing to do with reaching this milestone, however, it is a perfect representation of what this blog is about – Waldo’s Life.

For many years, I was the commissioner of a fantasy football league that I created.  Like millions of other people, fantasy football became something of an obsession, but that was before I had children.  Once my kids were born, it became unrealistic to glue myself to the television all day long on Sundays to see how my players were doing.  And since I took it very seriously, the only real alternative was to give it up entirely.  I missed it at first, but that feeling went away very quickly.

As my son’s interest in football grew, we decided to have our own weekly version of fantasy football, in addition to making weekly picks of the games.  It was a no-stress way of enjoying a hobby that I once loved.  Eventually, my wife and daughter wanted to get in on the action as well, so they made some picks midway through last season.

This year, we decided to create a 4-team, family league (Waldo Fantasy Football League).  Much to my surprise, I am the least competitive of the four of us.  My son takes great pride in having the highest scores (which happens often).  My wife does a celebratory dance when one of her players scores a touchdown, and my little one is so focused on the games that she didn’t even say hello to me this morning.  Her first words today…“Who won the Broncos game last night?”

When I decided to quit playing fantasy football, I did so with the intent of being there for my family on Sundays.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a scenario where family day and fantasy football would be one in the same.  My wife, who used to mock my obsession with fantasy football, now has trouble pulling herself away from the NFL RedZone channel, which shows the scoring plays for every game as they happen.

To paraphrase one of my favorite all-time bands (Triumph)…my family truly is lost in a world of fantasy, and life in the Waldo household has never been more entertaining.

A special thank you goes out to all of those who have been a part of the Waldo’s Life journey to 100,000 page views!

Saying Goodbye to Pee Wee Football

In Family, Life Lessons, Sports on September 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Pee Wee Football

Our son was only five years old when he strapped on a football helmet for the first time.  He was raised to love the game long before he ever stepped onto a football field.  The picture of him dressed as a football player for Halloween when he was two years old is one of the most memorable of the thousands that we have taken of him over the years.  He wasn’t gifted with the natural ability that some other kids had, but he practiced as hard as any kid that I’ve ever coached through the years.  As a result, he developed into a very good football player, a lunch pail kid with average size and speed, but more heart and determination than most.

He had his challenges through the years – most notably trying to live up to the impossible expectations that go hand-in-hand with being a coach’s son – but he never lost his passion for the game.  Pee wee football helped shape him into the kid that he is today, which is why it was incredibly difficult to take it away from him.

Kids stop playing pee wee football for various reasons.  Some don’t have what it takes to withstand the physicality of the game.  Others lack the mental discipline that it takes to function as a part of a team.  Politics surrounding parent-run pee wee football leagues has caused numerous kids to leave the game.  None of the aforementioned reasons caused us to make the decision to pull our son out of pee wee football.  Although we were exhausted by the politics, our decision was based strictly on protecting him from harm, now and in the future.

There is risk in everything that kids do, sports in particular, but the risk that football poses is unique, and one that we were no longer willing to take.  The fact of the matter is that we are armed with information in 2013 that simply wasn’t available in 2007 when our son started playing tackle football.  No longer is the term “getting your bell rung” an acceptable description of concussion symptoms caused by a blow to the head; at least it isn’t to those who have evolved and taken heed to the warnings about head injuries.

Armed with the knowledge of the potential lingering effects of repeated blows to the head, we chose not to allow our son to continue playing the sport that has meant so much to all of us.  Understandably, our son was not happy with our decision.  And though we have shared numerous stories with him about the potential long-term effects that playing football could have on the rest of his life, he would strap on the helmet today if we told him that we changed our minds about letting him play.

Our son is angry, frustrated and sad about not being able to play the game that he loves, and I don’t blame him.  I was only allowed to play one season of football in junior high school before my parents refused to sign the permission slip to let me play again.  I felt all of the emotions that our son is feeling, and I had only played football for one season.  He played eight seasons of football, so I can only imagine how much more intense his feelings are right now.

Pee wee football parents are incredibly passionate about the game.  Most who read this story will probably disagree with the decision that we’ve made.  Not too long ago, I would have disagreed as well.  However, parents who find themselves questioning whether or not they want to allow their sons to continue playing football out of concern for the potential lingering health effects down the road, may find solace in the fact that a football coach (who loves the game) chose to make the same difficult parenting decision.

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Los Angeles Dodgers – Yasiel Puig: The Spark That Lit The Fuse

In Sports on August 16, 2013 at 11:13 am

Yasiel Puig

The Los Angeles Dodgers, with their exorbitant, all-star filled payroll, were dead in the water.  Manager, Don Mattingly, was feeling the heat, and his job seemed to be in imminent danger as he guided the team with a $239 million payroll to an unimpressive 10-19 start.  Residing in the cellar of their division, the Dodgers were quickly becoming the most disappointing team of the year, until June 3rd.  Enter Yasiel Puig, the five-tool, Cuban sensation that quickly took the league by storm, and had many fighting over whether he deserved to be an all-star after a limited time in the big leagues.  Since his arrival, the Dodgers have become one of the best teams in baseball, posting a record of 60-31, while taking a commanding lead for the division title.

Puig’s arrival is clearly the spark that lit the fuse for the Dodgers.  It is not just his virtually unrivaled natural ability that makes Puig such a difference-maker.  It’s the way that he plays the game, with a reckless abandon that is usually reserved for hard-hitting safeties in the NFL, that makes him so special.  He brings an energy to the game that simply doesn’t exist in most cases.  And though the rest of Major League Baseball may envy the Dodgers, the fact of the matter is that he is great for a game that has a difficult time appealing to a generation that has grown up in an extremely short attention span world.

Baseball has been a game of nuance since the beginning of time.  Unfortunately, young sports fans favor action and ESPN highlight-reel plays over nuance.  They love the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, but pay little to no attention to the 3-point shooting contest that occurs during the same weekend.  They love to watch bone-crushing NFL hits and highlight-reel touchdown catches, but ignore the work that goes on in the trenches to make those plays possible.

Yasiel Puig has become Major League Baseball’s version of the slam dunk, the bone-crushing hit and the spectacular touchdown catch.  And though he makes some questionable rookie mistakes, it doesn’t matter because he is leaving it all on the field every play of every game.  He uses his speed on the base paths to force teams to make a perfect throw to get him out.  Ironically, it would take Puig’s cannon-like arm to stop him from routinely stretching plays like a man amongst boys.

His brashness may rub some Major Leaguers the wrong way, but Puig is unfazed by anything that comes his way, including a 92-mph fastball to the face that would have sidelined virtually anyone else.  Not only did Puig stay in the game, he was active in the bench-clearing brawl that ensued later on.

Puig made headlines recently for sliding into home plate after a walk-off, game-winning homerun.  Unconventional?  Absolutely!  Influential?  Without a doubt!  It didn’t take long for a 12-year old to imitate Puig in this year’s Little League World Series, sliding into home plate after his own exciting walk-off homerun.

The spark that lit the fuse is already having an impact that goes well beyond the Dodgers historic success since his arrival.  Puig is making baseball exciting for a new generation of fans, and for that, we should all be grateful!

Jason Collins: The First Openly Gay, Active Professional Athlete in Major Sports

In Life, Life Lessons, Sports on April 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Jason Collins - Sports Illustrated

The featured NBA story in the headlines this morning was about Dwight Howard being ejected from what may have been his last game in a Los Angeles Laker uniform.  The Lakers were dominated by the San Antonio Spurs and unceremoniously eliminated in a four-game sweep.  This morning, the conversation was all about Howard’s lack of leadership and where he will play next year.  This afternoon, no one was talking about Howard anymore because something of actual significance happened in the NBA.  Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay, active professional athlete in the major sports.

I wish that Collins’ revelation wasn’t a major story, but it is because he is the first active professional athlete to stop living a lie, something that should have happened a long time ago.

I hope that more professional athletes will come forward now that one of their peers has been the first one to jump into the frigid waters of the proverbial pool.  It’s 2013, and the time has come to let people be who they are regardless of their profession.

Although Collins readily admits that he wishes that someone else had already blazed this trail, the world of professional sports couldn’t have found a more eloquent spokesman to open the door for others.  Pulling snippets from the “coming out” article that he wrote for Sports Illustrated would not do Collins justice.  It should be read in its entirety to understand where he is coming from (click here for full article).

I wish that I wasn’t pleasantly surprised to see so many NBA stars coming out to show their support and admiration for Collins, but I am.  I guess seeing so much intolerance in the world has made me something of a cynic when it comes to people accepting others for who they are.

I wish that I was surprised to see a fellow professional athlete question the life that Collins lives, but unfortunately, I am not, given the anti-gay statements that some NFL players have made recently.

It is ignorant to think that being gay is a choice that Collins has made.  If it was a choice, then why would he spend his entire life trying to fool the world into thinking that he was straight, his twin brother in particular who has played with him all the way through college and into the NBA?

No amount of logical reasoning will persuade those who are steadfast in their anti-gay beliefs, and that is a shame.  And even if most teammates, players and fans accept gay professional athletes with open arms, the unaccepting ones will undoubtedly shout their point of view from the rooftops and perpetuate unnecessary controversy for the foreseeable future.

Like Jackie Robinson, Collins will likely deal with his fair share of intolerance going forward, assuming that he signs another NBA contract.  As a deep bench player who is a 34-year old free agent, his opportunities may be limited for legitimate basketball reasons.  Hopefully, at least one team will give Collins a chance to show the world that an openly gay athlete can thrive in professional sports.

There have been rumors recently that some high profile, gay NFL players will be coming out this season.  In various interviews on ESPN today, former Dallas Cowboy, Darren Woodson, has stated that he is absolutely certain that he played with gay players during the Cowboys dynasty days of the 90’s.  Woodson, like many other professional athletes, was solely focused on winning games and competing for championships.  The sexual preference of his teammates never entered his mind.  And while he admits that there will always be some intolerant “knuckleheads” in any given locker room, he believes that any player who is dedicated to doing what is necessary to help his team win, will ultimately be embraced by his teammates.

Until today, gay athletes in professional sports had remained closeted due to a fear of the unknown.  Thanks to Jason Collins’ courageous decision to be the first openly gay, active professional athlete, others will be able to stop living a lie.

Hopefully, one day in the not-too-distant future, the NBA will honor Collins in the same manner that Major League Baseball honors Robinson, and have all NBA players wear the number 98 for one game during the regular season.  It would be a fitting tribute to honor the man who broke down the barrier that has lasted for far too long in professional sports.

2013 NFL Draft: What Dallas Cowboys GM Jerry Jones and Weathermen Have in Common

In Sports on April 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Cowboys draft picks 2013

The 2013 NFL Draft is complete, and all of the priority rookie free agents have been signed.  Grades on the draft are pouring in from all over the country today.  While accurate grades on this year’s draft can’t truly be given for another three years (once these players have an NFL body of work to evaluate), the bottom line is that Dallas Cowboys GM, Jerry Jones, has once again left experts and fans scratching their heads for not addressing the most glaring needs on the team.  Fortunately for Jones, he has one of the two jobs in the world that has no penalty for constantly making mistakes.  The other being a weatherman.

Outside of the Cowboys organization, it is difficult to find people who thought that their first round trade (which dropped them down 13 picks), returned fair compensation.  But more importantly, it is impossible to find anyone who believes that Wisconsin Center, Travis Frederick, should have been chosen in the first round, including Fredrick himself, who expected to get picked no earlier than the second round.

Assuming that Frederick would have been available when the Cowboys picked in the second round (which is a very safe assumption), the trade should be evaluated over time by answering the following questions:

[1]     Is Gavin Escobar a productive NFL Tight End, and how does he compare to Tyler Eifert (the TE that the Cowboys could have drafted with the 18th pick in the first round)?

[2]     Is Terrence Williams a productive NFL Wide Receiver?

[3]     Is the combination of Escobar and Williams as good, or better than, Eifert or Shariff Floyd, the DT out of Florida that was considered by many to be a top five talent?

All first round picks will be under pressure to produce, but Frederick may have the most pressure on him because of his draft position, team needs and the fact that Jones did nothing to address the offensive line after the first round.

The offensive line was the biggest weakness of the Cowboys going into the draft, and yet only one pick was used to address the position.  To make matters worse, the Cowboys signed 15 rookie free agents after the draft, none of which are offensive lineman.  Even though undrafted linemen are unlikely to earn a starting role, their presence would at least push last year’s underachievers to play to their potential.

By all accounts, Frederick should provide an upgrade to the middle of the offensive line.  However, even if he is better than the Cowboys expected, and he justifies his draft position, what happens if he goes down with a season-ending injury?  Who is going to help protect the $100 million quarterback?  Escobar, the pass-catching TE with limited blocking skills?  Williams, the projected third WR?

In a featured article on DallasNews.com after the draft was completed, Cowboys Head Coach, Jason Garrett, stated “games are won up front on the offensive and defensive lines.”

The post-draft comments from many experts state that Garrett has now been given the tools to create a prolific offense, but based on his comments about the importance of offensive and defensive lines, it seems as though he has been set up to fail and lose his job after yet another disappointing season.

Many teams passed on Floyd (Florida DT), so the Cowboys can’t be totally faulted for doing so as well, but they can be heavily criticized for failing to draft a defensive lineman with any of their seven picks.  Adding insult to injury, none of their 15 rookie free agent signings were defensive lineman, despite the fact that it is an obvious area of need for the Cowboys.

However, according to Jones, defensive line is a position of strength for the Cowboys.  He better hope that aging DT’s Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher stay healthy and out of trouble if they plan on having a pass rush up the middle, a key component of Monte Kiffin’s “Tampa 2 Defense.”

Sadly, the most exciting Cowboys pick of this year’s draft was 5th round RB, Joseph Randle (Oklahoma State).  He is the one proven commodity that was looked at as a “value” pick while also filling a need.

The rest of the Cowboys draft consisted of players with tons of upside potential, which is great for teams with deep rosters like the San Franscisco Forty Niners and New England Patriots, but not for an underachieving team with salary cap issues and aging stars trying to make a run before their window of opportunity closes.  This strategy even makes sense for teams that have entered a period of rebuilding because they have time to see the potential realized.

Will J.J. Wilcox transition from a small school Safety with one year of experience into an NFL star?  Possibly, but the odds of him doing so this season are fairly remote.

Even if small school prospect, B.W. Webb, becomes the team’s 4th CB, the only way to justify picking him over a lineman is if he becomes a game-changer as a return man.

LB DeVonte Holloman fills a need, and has value in the 6th round, but you have to wonder what the thought process was in drafting someone who slid in the draft because of a DUI conviction, in light of what happened with Josh Brent, who will miss the entire 2013 season and may very well end up doing significant jail time for killing a fellow teammate while driving drunk.

Ever since Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys, Jones has been trying to prove that he is capable of orchestrating a Super Bowl victory on his own.  Based on this year’s draft picks and crop of rookie free agents, it doesn’t seem like the Cowboys are any closer to making the playoffs this year, much less a Super Bowl.

Luckily for Jones, even if the Cowboys deliver another 8-8 season, he is at no risk of losing his GM position.  After all, his boss has tolerated mediocrity for the past 17 years.   Like weathermen, Jones’ inability to forecast carries no consequence, so Cowboy fans can look forward to another pedestrian year of football in the coming season.

Jerry Jones: Dallas Cowboys GM Once Again Suckered Like a Bad Fantasy Football GM

In Sports on April 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm

jerry jones

The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft has left Dallas Cowboy fans shaking their heads in disbelief once again, courtesy of the only GM in the league that could survive a 17-year stretch with only one playoff victory.  After signing QB Tony Romo to an unbelievable contract extension this offseason, Jerry Jones knew that he needed to get some protection for his overpriced investment.

With two outstanding offensive guard prospects on the board, the Cowboys should have been in position to take one with the 18th pick, but the demand for offensive lineman and the lack of stars at the skill positions left them on the outside looking in.  One by one, the top offensive lineman came off the board, and a trade down looked like it might be the best option for the Cowboys until Florida DT Shariff Floyd inexplicably landed in their lap.  The dominant defensive lineman was projected by most experts as a top three pick, and with aging defensive tackles and a new defensive scheme, Floyd seemed like a no-brainer.

Cowboy fans were celebrating their unlikely good fortune when the announcement was made that the 18th pick had been traded to the San Francisco 49ers.  Dropping down 13 spots with a blue-chip player on the board surely meant that the Cowboys were offered a king’s ransom that was too good to pass up.  And given the fact that the reigning NFC Champion 49ers had more picks than they could even use (13), Cowboy fans anxiously waited to hear the details of the trade.

Jaws dropped across the country as the trade details revealed that the Cowboys dropped down 13 spots for a mere 3rd round pick, a rip-off by the point value charts that are used around the NFL.  Of course, according to the spin doctors in Dallas, their charts say that they got the best of the deal.  Truly absurd!  Even if the Cowboys had gotten fair value in the trade by everyone else’s standards, the fact remains that they still passed up on an impact player in a draft devoid of stars.

When the Cowboys finally made their pick, it was announced that had they selected Travis Frederick, a Center from Wisconsin who had one of the worst combine workouts in recent memory.  Considered the top player at his position, most teams and experts still had him ranked as no more than a third round prospect.  Even Frederick himself admitted that he was surprised to get the call in the first round.

In 1998, the Cowboys desperately needed a top WR, and the whole world expected them to take Randy Moss with the 8th pick in the draft.  They chose DE Greg Ellis instead, and Moss haunted the Cowboys for several years with the Minnesota Vikings.  It is quite possible that history is going to repeat itself for Cowboy fans.  After the Cowboys passed on Floyd, the Vikings snatched him up.

It won’t take long for the Cowboys to see if they made the right choice by trading down in the draft.  On November 3, 2013, Floyd and Frederick will line up head-to-head at Cowboys Stadium.

If Floyd ends up becoming a dominant player, Cowboy fans will be left once again to wonder what might have been if not for “Trader Jerry” desperately trying to prove that he can win a Super Bowl without Jimmy Johnson by making moves that most GMs would never consider.  Ironically, the one person who might think that Jones is doing a good job is former Vikings GM Mike Lynn, who essentially handed the Cowboys a championship roster by giving away the farm to acquire Herschel Walker in 1989.  Come to think of it, maybe Jones is just trying to repay the Vikings for their past generosity.

Boston Bruins Fans Deliver Greatest Rendition of National Anthem Ever

In Inspiration and Motivation, Life, Sports on April 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Boston Bruins Fans

The National Anthem is played before every professional sporting event and many amateur events as well.  For the most part, it is a largely ceremonial tradition that goes relatively unnoticed unless it is badly butchered by a celebrity or delivered in a memorable way at events like the Super Bowl, or Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock performance.  Before last night, no one would have ever imagined that the greatest rendition of the National Anthem would take place at a regular season NHL game.  Boston Bruin fans made sure that the first major sporting event following the terrorist attack on the city will be remembered for many years to come.

Boston is a city that is steeped in tradition, particularly when it comes to sports.  The tradition of having Rene Rancourt perform the National Anthem at Bruins home games dates back to 1976.  With 37 years of experience, you would think that Rancourt would be immune to nerves, but for the first time ever, the powerful opera singer was nervous.

Last night, more than any other performance in Rancourt’s career, the meaning behind the National Anthem was front and center.  Every time that he had practiced singing the National Anthem since the bombing of the Boston Marathon, he burst into tears.  He didn’t think that he could get through the performance without breaking down because his city had just suffered through a terrorist attack.

With tears glistening in his eyes, Rancourt took to the ice and began to sing the National Anthem as he has done so many times before.  “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so…” is as far as he got before 17,565 Bruins fans joined in and sang in unison “proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.”  The fans would flawlessly finish the entire National Anthem with Rancourt acting as a conductor, singing along for brief moments, but overpowered by Boston fans showing their resolve in the face of tragedy.

Years from now, no one will ever remember that the Bruins lost the game in a shootout to the Buffalo Sabres, but the world will never forget the greatest, most emotional rendition of the National Anthem ever…

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