Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kentucky Basketball: Fried Chickens Are Gone, Wildcats Elite Once Again

Well, that confirms it. There’s much we know about Kentucky in a season when elite toughness has returned, banishing all the burdens.

Before John Calipari made his presence felt in Lexington, the Wildcats were burning in a hot bucket, battered in the fried grease. They were a Kentucky Fried Calamity, but with all the drastic transitions following the woeful era of Billy Gillespie, the Bluegrass State wasn't denigrated. Despite years of stains to a premier program, a tattered Kentucky wasn’t even discussed.

But the arrogance of one demanding program posed turbulence for the Wildcats. That, indeed, was an unfamiliar scene for a school known for reaching and finishing atop the polls and contending for the Final Four.

The Wildcats rarely take an early exit amid a tourney, where Cinderella’s are born and fools dominate, busting brackets and upsetting gamblers. Suddenly, the top-ranked team in the nation doesn’t have to worry about severely disappointing a state which truly admires college hoops.

Quite fittingly, the Wildcats are the best team in the nation—the most dangerous. It’s easy to sit back and embrace the high intensity and action of Kentucky, grasping our consciousness. With all the star power and a well-respected coach, the Wildcats aren’t a program to laugh at anymore.

But this comes as no surprise, at least it shouldn’t.

If you glance at Calipari’s striking resume, you’ll notice he has a history of revitalizing programs.

He cultivated three programs despite the problematic sandals that may have bruised credibility. He has helped mold former superstars into not only NBA attractions, but matured men.

His philosophy is manipulating Kentucky’s flourishing stars, such as the freshman sensation John Wall, a lighting fast point guard.

He’s truly a special talent, blessed to be coached by Calipari. Look at how much of an impact Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans are having on the NBA level, renovating impoverished franchises with their dynamic contributions.

But there isn’t a point guard more impressive than Wall. Shining more quickly than the typical freshman, it seems as if he has been dazzling on the collegiate level for a long time. He’s NBA-ready and could translate his dominance on the next level. There’s no point guard as fast in the transition game or directly to the bucket.

There’s no player as streaky of a shooter as Wall. Although he settled for 13 points on 4 for 12 shooting and nine assist in a late Saturday afternoon game against Vanderbilt, he’ll be the No. 1 pick in the next NBA draft.

It’s hard to argue that.

What we are seeing is Calipari utilize a youthful team as he did well at UMass and Memphis, where he auspiciously led the Tigers to prestigious heights in the NCAA tourney.

He has brought a similar method to Kentucky, a well-balanced team that doesn’t need to rely strictly on spectacular performances from Wall. It’s not a one-man show. The Wildcats are seeing the high-minded freshman DeMarcus Cousins mature and accelerate efficiently, becoming the team’s second option.

They are starting to find their form, strengthening to remain No. 1 in the nation.

The Wildcats are winning most of their games and entered today’s contest with a mentality that capturing a win was top priority. Sure enough, they did.

They recovered from an upset loss to South Carolina, where hearts were shattered late in the week as a magical winning streak was snapped. But there are no worries, after bouncing back with an 85-72 win over Vanderbilt. In front of an engaged Kentucky crowd, a blissful fan base saw the same Wildcats they had grown accustomed to in prior weeks.

More than anything, they saw a much-improved Cousins bully the Commodores in the interior. He ruled the boards and posted his 12th double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds during a physical outing.

Whistles were blown often in a game that featured 58 fouls, acknowledging the physical contact. The aggressive play is how the Wildcats have been able to pummel opponents all season.

There’s also no place like home and they are unbeaten on their own hardwood. Kentucky is 13-0 at home, responding to Calipari’s coaching demands.

Knowing Calipari, the loss suffered on Tuesday was considered a reality check. If so, it worked in their favor, able to bounce back with a crucial win against Vanderbilt.

Some teams live and die by the three pointers. One of those teams happen to be Kentucky, who made 12 of 23 three-pointers and held a 19-point lead early.

The Commodores were outrebounded 41-22 and took advantage on second-chance points by scoring 20.

Wall gave rise to concern about his ball-handling when he posted seven turnovers.

Another problem is the Wildcats have a tendency of building double-digit leads, but losing a majority of them because of complacency. Calipari is always insisting that his team play consistent throughout the entire game, a weakness Kentucky must improve upon if expecting to drive full force to the Final Four.

Given Calipari’s history, the Wildcats are Final Four destined.

They are a balanced team. Patrick Patterson, who had four rebounds and 12 points, is a factor. Eventually, Eric Bledsoe may be a key piece to their chase of the national championship as he was on Saturday, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Though they are the holders of the most wins in the history men’s basketball and the most likable program, the Wildcats haven’t won a national title since 1998, under coach Tubby Smith.

Meanwhile, Calipari has never won a national title.

But in a season where he sparked their rebirth, he may lead them back to the top. It’s still a bit early to call him the next Adolph Rupp, but it isn’t early to make it known that he’s the best head coach since Smith departed accepting the Minnesota job—he was tired of all the shabby seasons.

Late into the season, the least concern is a letdown. This is believed to be a year Kentucky athletics come back to life, absorbing our attention in April.

Unless a strange drought strangleholds a reproductive program, Kentucky isn’t going anywhere. If Calipari is around, life is fine. If he’s around, winning a national title could be impending.

Friday, January 29, 2010

No Better Way To Put It: Kurt Warner Forges Beautiful Legacy

He was an ordinary kid stacking cans on the shelves at a Hy-Vee supermarket, and settled for minimum wages to make ends meet for his family. Kurt Warner’s life wasn’t always smooth, having to experience hardships amid tough times when he was seeking to establish an identity. It was difficult for a kid as scouts ignored, failing to grant Warner a chance of showing the world that he was eligible to be named a Hall of Famer in the near future.

From stacking cans to hurling passes, he’ll be known as a kid coming from the middle of nowhere to build a wealthy foundation in the NFL, a dream children are aiming for each day. From shelf-stacker to Super Bowl champion, Warner is the epitome of attempting to follow a goal until the life-long wish is reached. Through a rigid endeavor, there were traces of missing elation, but Warner refused to quit giving chase for a potential shot in the NFL, a worthy shot that will earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame. From earning $5.50 an hour to earning millions in tossing exceptional throws, Warner has accomplished unimaginable records beyond the average quarterback.

What he exposed during an astounding 12-year career is rarely seen among any quarterback. But he was a gifted superstar, earning breathtaking marks like no other. He was a unique breed in which the NFL admired and appreciated, viewing a humble and shrewd individual who treasured the goodness of life. From working night shifts to working Sundays on the turf, Warner finally advanced to a livelihood he desired. Courtesy of the Arena Football League, he fostered when gifted footwork and arm-strength affirmed his potential and ascended his capabilities. In 1999, he took on a greater experience and dream job in the NFL, where Warner was successful by becoming the starter for the St. Louis Rams and engineered the franchise to a Super Bowl win.

It was quite a decade, but a decade later he led the Arizona Cardinals, a helpless team that was never imagined to reach the unthinkable, until advancing to the Super Bowl a year ago before suffering the heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It appears all the extraordinary achievements provide details of a Hall of Fame status. There’s no need to ponder, or take a moment grasping a sense on whether Warner is a Hall of Famer or not.

Common sense tells us he’s a Hall of Famer, a rare quarterback whose presence was valued. Let’s applaud him, embrace him for all he has done in the league, creating a contiguous legacy that lives within the hearts of fellow teammates and retired legends. Let’s understand he quarterbacked two franchises, forging a memorable symbol. All the memories are unbreakable and indescribable, enough to make us say, WOW!

But in the last two postseasons, Warner’s ability of tossing passes with his state of mind and awesome accuracy was unbelievable. On what probably was the biggest emotional afternoon of his life, he announced that all the fascinating seasons had come to an end. He announced retirement on Friday at his news conference in which his family members stepped to the podium and shared the moment. There comes a point in life when athletes must call it quits.

And Warner, 38, constantly worried about jeopardizing his health and faith, ready to share the rest of his healthy life with his seven children and wife, Brenda, who has been very supportive of him during a brilliant career. Still, he had plenty left in the tank, coming off of two seasons when he completed 29 of 33 passes for 379 yards and five touchdowns, possessing more scoring passes and leading the Cardinals to a 51-45 overtime victory over Green Bay.

Oh, there’s more.

In 13 postseason games, Warner has numbers worthy of the Hall. Whenever a quarterback throws for 31 touchdowns and averages 304 passing yards, it’s worthy of the greatest award in sports. Wait, that’s not all. His postseason passer rating of 102.8 is off the chart, the second-best of all-time. He managed to win nine games, with a passer rating beyond triple figures. It’s obvious he has never been huge on finances. If so, he wouldn’t opt to leave behind $11.5 million in what would have been his final year under contract with the Cardinals.

The Iowa native is ready to give up tossing the football, well, maybe not in his backyard, but on the field each Sunday. Ever since Trent Green injured his knee, Warner became famous and a true hero. While producing most of his splendid results as a Ram, he threw for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns. Unlike many, Warner was fortunate having solid pieces, and heaved passes to Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Az-Zahir Hakim.

Credit Warner for the resurgence of two franchises. Both teams were en route of deteriorating, but he came to the rescue, confirming his legitimacy among NFL teams in need of restoration. He really fitted in, when most doubted that he’d be an elite superstar. Oh, he fooled them. He had an opportunity to shine in which he impressed the world, and stockpiled two MVP awards, five Pro Bowl berths, 32,344 passing yards, 208 touchdowns and a 93.7 career passer rating.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” Warner said during the press conference. “I don’t think I could have dreamt it would have played out like it has, but I’ve been humbled every day that I woke up the last 12 years and amazed that God would choose to use me to do what he’s given me the opportunity to do.”

For sure, he’s a man of faith and carries a Bible to each conference, humbled and grateful of the improbable runs he conducted. Blessed with the knack to toss passes, he leaves the game with a commendable legacy. For sure, he will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, just as he’ll go down as the humblest.

It’s good to know he made up his mind and realize health is important. But more than anything, he’s grateful of his accomplishments.

From Hy-Vee to NFL; what a gigantic step for an individual we’ve praised.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brett Favre: Enough With All the Weary Pondering, Just Come Back

Whether it has any relation to being described as an egomaniac or someone unwilling to yield the game in which wealth and fame enhanced a legacy, he doesn’t have to take us on another un-retiring/retiring saga. You’ve seen it before, his annoying pleads to return amid an offseason when Green Bay was settled and had promised the starting job to his successor, Aaron Rodgers.

You’ve seen this, perhaps, on a regular when he cries and gripes to ease his way back into the NFL. You’ve seen him change his mind, having a weary itch that grew obsolete as the days progressed.

He is, Brett Lorenzo Favre, an egomaniacal quarterback whose annoyance encouraged us to tell him how much he needed to stay away from the sport he absolutely relishes. Beyond all, he has never been a money freak, but allowed a selfish psyche to frustrate us all.

He has never been thrilled to wave goodbye, but elated to return and dominate as if he’s in his prime or a superstar quarterback producing raw talent.

But in Favre’s case, it’s needless to ponder a long-term or short-term future. Even we shouldn’t have to debate Favre’s next step, coming off of a miraculous season, a challenge veteran quarterbacks rarely muster in the late stages of an unforgettable career.

Because of a grand career in the NFL, it’s common speculating there’s nothing else Favre needs to accomplish. The average quarterback isn’t capable of nearly stockpiling the kind of passing records as Favre has done during a memorable pursuit.

He’s not done. For once, we could have a unanimous interest of welcoming Favre back. The football fanatics and regulars obsess with a sport that has evolved into a popular sport in America, aren’t done endorsing or applauding NFL’s top magnet.

But this time, Favre may actually be ready to call it quits after committing much of his life to a game where it takes complete devotion in a physical and mental state of mind to meet team standards.

At 40, the wear and tear on an aging body hasn’t been much of a problem, but spending less time with his wife, Deanna, and family has been irksome. So immediately following Sunday night’s dishearten loss, a contest in which Favre was battered and harassed by the Saints, he said it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll return for a 20th season.

If he opts to leave, he’s not relinquishing the game or quitting on his teammates. But if he decides to depart on good terms, he might strongly ponder if it’s the final time instead of announcing months later of a potential return.

Enough of the weariness begging to return before training game resumes. His customary intentions of imploring to un-retire, held the Packers hostage and resulted in a trade to the New York Jets a few seasons ago, a franchise he never desired playing for.

The narrow-minded front office made it clear that they were prepared to move forward, obligated to the ambitious Rodgers. There are speculations Favre came back, seeking vengeance against Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson after assuming he was shut out the door, unwelcomed for a changeable and selfish ethics, the kind of attitude that didn’t settle well in Green Bay.

To this day, disgruntled Packers’ fans describe Favre as a traitor, even though the organization rebuffed interest. Just to refresh memories, when he returned to a hostile environment he called home for 16 seasons, the unfriendly place chanted boos after he emerged strangely from the visitor’s tunnel at Lambeau Field.

Meanwhile he had the last word, and guided the Minnesota Vikings to a 2-0 regular season sweep over his former team to increase the bitterness.

At one point, he annoyed us crying to make a return. He desperately wanted his way or no way, expecting the NFL to express sympathy. Described as a diva, Favre proved to the world he’s still an expert of submitting all the elements it takes to benefit as a premier quarterback. Reaching milestones, breaking passing records, mastering brilliant arm-strength, you name it, Favre has it.

The average fan is long past the everlasting sagas, when he was featured on ESPN and Sportscenter as the most famous diva in sports and became the Worldwide Leader in Nuisance.

And suddenly, Sportscenter was renamed Favrecenter. Now days, we are generous to accept Favre back, excited for the action-packed fun he brings to the game. Without him, football is average. Without him, football isn’t football.

It shouldn’t take much discussing Favre’s status, coming off a season on a high note. Depending on how someone views it, there’s unfinished business and with enough in the tank Favre is a franchise quarterback.

In one season, the Vikings have benefited greatly, based on his experience and inspiration, but unfortunately fell short in the NFC Championship Game against New Orleans. Unsure of his status, Favre doesn’t have a timetable on a possible return.

However, the Vikings and coach Brad Childress might be curious to learn Favre’s decision in the next few weeks to avoid being victimized of the wishy-washiness that has created national disturbance.

If not, it won’t take long before a ruckus begets. If not, it won’t take long before weariness explodes and makes us tired of the unnecessary soap opera. If not, it won’t take long before he’s labeled as the egocentric coaches' pet by skipping out on training camp and mini-camp, preparations his teammates had to endure a year ago while he flew in on a private jet from the rural area of Mississippi and joined the team without undergoing the laborious task.

Favre doesn’t owe anything to fans or teammates. But it wouldn’t hurt to return, giving it another shot at leaving the game on top with a Super Bowl win. The Vikings are Super Bowl bound if he decides to play next season.

Whether he was desperate in finding a sound quarterback or eager to allow a good friend to teach the principles to a young and deep core, Favre was giving a chance to fulfill his urge to hurl passes on Sundays and produce sensational plays. He called him to reject the tracker lifestyle and persist in the football lifestyle.

It paid off in an unexpected season where he threw for 38 touchdowns and was amazingly picked off nine times. He also had sizable weapons, benefiting from the deepest wide receiving core, not to mention the solid running game that started off blazing.

But flaws are deadly, whenever talented All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson has ball security blunders. Otherwise, the Vikings are profound at receiver, an advantage for the gunslinger who found Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, or a versatile Percy Harvin often.

Having plenty of weapons should be enough to inspire Favre to remain in the league. And considering the unwise throw in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, by passing in the ball across the field to Saints’ safety Tracy Porter, he has unfinished business.

There’s a mission to be completed, but he must be willing to return. Why not? Favre still has a shrewd mind, a strong heart, and powerful accuracy, all the intangibles to win a Super Bowl.

I myself urge him to come back.

He must remember that he’s playing for a loyal owner. Zigy Wilf is expected to offer Favre a financial increase, greater than $13 million owed to him for the 2010 season. For the average Minnesotan, they’ll love to see him return, and hopefully next time they could reach the climax nearly accomplished this year.

Is there enough in Favre’s tank? Yes, indeed, he could dominate next season, too.

But he has to be willing to accept the challenge.

I’m hopeful for a return.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baseball on Brink of Self-Destruction? Be Responsible, Selig

As curiosity strikes baseball faster than CC Sabathia’s fastball or even Cliff Lee’s curveball, you must come to realize baseball is a sport caught in hazed, gloomy clouds. The game is the root of all evil, casting hideous and despicable conceptions on what was America’s Pastime, but now America’s Disgrace.

In a way, the game seems like it’s on the brink of self-destruction when all you hear about are syringes and pills, rather than purity and artistic features.

The beauty of the game capitulated and crippled, allowing uncertainty to implode all the positive hallmarks. To be honest, this is a sad moment, a rampant stage when the game is eclipsed of all the outrageous scandals. Just so there’s no one befuddled, the Steroid Era continues.

Either a player tells on himself, or the mysterious list of 104 players keeps giving away stunning results and overwhelms us all. Why every time a name is linked our jaws drop and eyes shut in disbelief?

Come on, we’re living in the Steroid Era. But worst is, we’re living in a generation when an apathetic commissioner ignored the emergence of steroid buzzes. Right in front of Bud Selig’s eyes, there were signs of performance-enhancing drugs, literally equipped to contaminate the competitive nature in the mid-1990s. But his mindless persona, gave players the authority to juice the game.

In other words, he allowed and urged players to deceit and ruin integrity. Trust me, Mr. Bud is a rogue. He refused to institute a steroid bust, raiding criminals of the game on a regular.

Trust me, Mr. Bud is an idiot. He has done little to mend sorrow. For instance, you’d think he’ll have firmness to address the issues and crack down on insidious sluggers, maybe by enforcing harsh sanctions.

But the first idea that comes to mind, he’s ashamed of all the steroid revelations, a list of shameful announcements and all the scandals to shame the majors. In what was viewed as purity and cleanness, now is gazed as a toxic waste and practice for the one’s admired to strengthen their performance and master an advantage in the hitting department.

What! That’s so terrible. And they should be proud of themselves? Not a chance. It’s a disgrace whenever anyone hoax the game, and being proud of yourself for such ignominy is a sickness, insecurity or even low self-esteem.

If Bud had used his useless noggin before a hellish age ravaged the majors, baseball wouldn’t have egregious steroid crisis. Fine, establishing a policy to avoid performance-enhancing drugs is condoned, but all players won’t be encouraged to give up their fraudulent habits.

If Bud initiated a plan to resolve drugs before turning chaotic, he wouldn’t have to stress over integration or a shameful regime corrupting. He’s an absent-minded baseball commissioner who needs to be responsible, not an irresponsible goon. But, unfortunately, he’s a goon.

Everyone is laughing at Bud, the big clown of the majors and refuses to perform his biggest act. That’s taking accountability for cleaning up a contaminated sport, even though the game is suffering of mortals.

The longer Selig sits and waits, the longer the game is irreparable, which means it's hard to recover from an era of sleazes and when drug emporiums are inside clubhouses. If he’s not aware, the use of banned substances merely forges worst scenarios and stains the aspects of baseball. Until he takes action, we not even remotely close of pasting the steroid stages.

Meanwhile, Selig is inane and even in denial for believing the game is past the Steroid Era. He is, again, not utilizing his brain properly if he thinks the average player is clean and hasn’t committed hideous crimes. Anyone with a functional brain understands clearly that there are plenty of baseball stars who haven’t been caught. Ah, yeah!

By using common sense, many of them were smart and cleaned out their systems in time of random testing. By using common sense, baseball isn’t clean. And by assuming his sport is clean, Selig is characterized as goof in denial of what has happened to the game.

Until baseball has an accurate test for HGH and steroids, Selig could repossess credibility, but until then, his credibility is diminished. Behind the scenes there are players right now tricking Selig by using HGH and maybe even steroids.

And who exactly knows if the embarrassed man ever gets it. But, apparently, he doesn’t get it. It’s unfair delivering favoritism towards Mark McGwire, when there were those who came clean on national television or were linked to using substances.

For instance, Alex Rodriguez confessed to the world of his PED use, but wasn’t credited for revealing the truth. Instead he was belittled and blasted by Selig, who didn’t have any compassionate reactions when he stared at cameras and into the television releasing a sincere admission and apology to betrayed teammates and fans.

That’s a whole different story for McGwire, the cheater who has been described as paragon, even though his flimsy excuses are mind-boggling and inadvisable. So the explanation and apology is good enough for McGwire, in which he’s awarded and endorsed for poor judgment. It doesn’t make sense, when he used steroids during his playing career and wondrous milestone.

Although it's seen as an asterisk, a tainted McGwire was responsible for saving the game of baseball and broke the home run record in a single season. But now, a remarkable record is tainted and meaningless as Selig is dumb for the self-defense of McGwire. If Selig deeply cared about integrity, he would punish those who violated the rules and treat all players fair whether right or wrong.

If so, Pete Rose would have been reinstated. For six years, he has been ignored and signaled out. He has nicely begged Selig to reinstate him, but the commish quickly responded and shock his head no. Rose apologized for gambling on the game, constantly, when McGwire apologized one time.

There’s something wrong with the picture here.

Baseball is a messy sport. And as long as Bud oversees the league, the majors are faced with doom and malevolent scandals. I’m not allowing impunity to the fraudulent slugger Manny Ramirez, who resides in a neighborhood called Mannywood, but he was suspended 50 games last season for using a female fertility drug.

I’ve watched the league frail before my very eyes, and have never felt so betrayed, hoodwinked or cheated in my life. David Ortiz was a big name, the big slugger who arising when he suddenly was noticed as a big-name star in Boston. But no wonder why he crushed long-balls over the Green Monster.

Yes, indeed, his name unveiled from the list. Trust me he was never a Big Papi. Sammy Sosa’s name revealed deceitfulness, too. A-Rod is forgotten as the next home run king, after his name surfaced from the list.

Oh no, Selig! You have a serious crisis on your hands. What will you do to resolve it? I know nothing. If Bud hasn’t taken any action during a horrendous regime, why would he take action now? His successor, Fay Vincent, would’ve taken an important stance on the steroid issue. I know that for a fact.

There is someone in this country attacking Bud Selig verbally. He is, Jose Canseco, and still is gushing over alleged users. If you need information or details on the Steroid Era, find the man with the most credibility, the man with the most specifics and truth.

Each time he singles out a name formerly it usually are signs of the truth. There’s no one time that Canseco has been deceitful or spoke spiteful of players. Hell, I’ll believe him, before I believe Selig. That’s the truth.

Bud should be ashamed of himself for advocating juicing. If he’s not willing to address issues and punish players of iniquities, they'll continue to get away with juicing and damaging integrity. If so, doesn’t that make Bud a dope?


Monday, January 25, 2010

New Orleans Saints' Historic Quest: The Sweetest Win on Bourbon Street

What we’ve seen is real, even though it feels like an illusion, given the long-suffering. The New Orleans Saints weren’t always referred to as the Saints, but instead a disgrace in a community where the sport wasn’t the finest attraction.

Doomed with bad karma, Mardi Gras was more exciting than the Saints marching into the Superdome, more convivial than ridiculing the goofy fans for wearing paper bags over their heads to badly humiliate the home team.

The latest carnival is prepared to kickoff tonight and last until the wee hours or mid-morning in a town, where a massive parade is only one win away.

Until then, the biggest win in franchise history is the prelude of a triumphant quest, not only for a starved franchise, but a convinced town that believed and found sanity by applauding the Saints. It has been a season of triumph, finally mitigating doleful images of misfortune.

From the Ain'ts to Saints, a town is thrilled of the black and gold team. The population had clearly waited for New Orleans to bring joy and absolve tragic memories of Hurricane Katarina, a disaster that deprived and battered humanity.

In a town, where delighted fans are attached to the Saints, can fest on gumbo, dance all night in Bourbon Street and brace the Saints. You’ve seen a loud, committed crowd sell out the Superdome and scream. Like hearing an entertaining rock band perform in front of thousands, the mood inside the craziest venue isn’t only insanity, but the guts of genuine fans worshiping the Saints.

The 16-game regular-season meant a season of worthiness, when New Orleans were on the verge of presumably finishing the year unbeaten before suffering a three-game losing streak late in the season. But there’s nothing like finishing off the postseason on a strong note.

It’s well established the Saints removed the ignominious nametag to rename themselves to their original name. The Saints ain’t labeled as the Aints, particularly if you confute of all the poor literature brainwashing our society for all the innovated technology.

But once it all ended on Sunday in the NFC Championship game, the Saints celebrated after clinching its first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. It’s the sweetest win ever, a redemptive victory to break away from all the negativity and doubts.

This is the greatest accomplishment ever, to silence all cynical fans that never believed the Saints would avoid further headaches and painful failures, in which they weren’t seen in the playoff picture.

Besides a hurricane ravaging a community, the Saints brings elation to a despairing town, gracious of an astonishing postseason in the Big Easy. In a spectacular finish, New Orleans revealed its scoring offense ranks No. 1 in the league, including the No. 1 seed in the postseason. And to make a strong statement, the Saints controlled its own fate in overtime to climb over a challenging contest and critical test in the biggest game.

I’ll like to send my best wishes to New Orleans. Why not? It’s their first time appearing on the finest stage, a position every team wishes to be in, a dream every player desires. For a long time, they’ve waited anxiously and witnessed it finally. Nothing this thrilling was imagined in the aftermath of the calamity that, sadly, happened.

But in reality, the Saints punched a ticket to Miami and will travel to the dream vacation spot for a date with the AFC champs Indianapolis Colts on February 7, where The Who will perform at halftime, and where Peyton Manning meets Drew Brees.

“This is for everybody in this city,” Sean Payton said to the crowd. “This stadium used to have holes in it and used to be wet. It’s not wet anymore. This is for the city of New Orleans.”

There’s no point of even dwelling on the miserable losing streak that lasted since 1967. The Saints won 31-28 in the overtime thriller, and suddenly a tense night turned into a party on Bourbon Street. Confetti covered the aisles at the Superdome. Fans screamed to where your eardrums could’ve blown out.

Given the awful history, a rebirth was badly needed to reduce all the nagging bleakness. Late as time dwindled in regulation, it wasn’t easy to watch and nerve-racking Saints fans stared timorous realizing the Minnesota Vikings seemed convincing enough to advance.

If you’ve started taken it for granted, you didn’t understand this was a competitive championship showdown, a game that featured the 40-year old veteran Brett Favre, who hurls passes as if he’s a raw 20-year-old or a player barely entering his prime.

He’s the most prolific passer in NFL postseason history, exploiting the similarities of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, whose record he broke during the game. But individual awards aren’t enough to satisfy Favre. He was craving a title, despite surpassing Montana in the record books.

That isn’t all so enticing to Brett, a future Hall of Famer who strictly came back to prove to Green Bay he wasn’t washed up and win a Super Bowl ring. That was before he tossed a costly interception to Saints defensive back Tracy Porter at the 22. Did Favre throw away the game and ruined his legacy?

No, he played against prolific defense that didn’t relinquish the pass-rush, which remained adequate throughout the game. Favre was harassed, and knocked to the turf. He limped off the field, he grimaced in pain, and was constantly forced out the pocket in which the relentless Saints may have sent Favre into retirement. As times became dramatic and jovial, Favre watched New Orleans implemented a game-winning drive.

“Who Dat”?

It’s the Saints marching into field goal territory. They were brilliant to conserve clock, to save plenty of seconds and rely on special teams to salvage the biggest game in the biggest moment. Sure enough, it went in the favor, when unheard-of kicker Garrett Hartley declared fame for booting a 41-year game-winning field goal.

In the 42-year of existence, it took resiliency and fortitude to overcome adversity and reach a goal, in which the Saints prepared for all season. One win away from a historic accomplishment, and the Saints are celebrating before the important game.

It’s sensible predicting that the Saints will win. If their prolific defense outshined Favre’s Vikings, it’s rational to believe they could do the same to Colts. By putting pressure on Manning, the Saints harassment may frustrate Indianapolis high-powered passing game. Forgetting Brees is like neglecting a vicious predator with large fangs. He beamed and passed for 197 yards with three touchdowns. All the weapons are used to his advantages.

It’s a blessing any time you have a versatile running back in Reggie Bush, who is remarkable and explosive on special teams. It is also a pleasure to play on the same team with receiver Marques Colston. Next there’s Pierre Thomas, a running back with enough stamina and agility to be the next big thing in New Orleans. He found the end zone once, and returned the kickoff to the Saints 40 and had 61 yards on 14 carries.

Even more important, he secured the ball efficiently unlike Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. There’s no doubt he has the speed, but he fumbled twice in a crucial contest. Percy Harvin flew with the Vikings to New Orleans, but was questionable on whether he would start or not. Of course, it didn’t matter.

Sad thing is, this could have been Favre’s final game. If so, he completed 28 of 46 passes with 310 yards and a touchdown. Sure you’ll remember the postseason passing record, but at the same time you’ll remember the interception late in the game.

The relentless Saints ended a surreal run for a battered Favre.

Believe it, the Saints are marching to Super Bowl 44.

The city is shedding tears of joy.

This is the sweetest story written in New Orleans.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

NASCAR Joins Domino's Pizza: Admits to Offering a Poor Past Product

When I heard about all the changes NASCAR was making to better the sport for its fans and drivers, all I could think about was how this giant in the business world must have hit rock bottom, or at least the depths it, such that NASCAR has never seen.

The announcements made by the NASCAR suits in Charlotte this past week were highlighted by NASCAR saying they would be “more relaxed” and encourage drivers to show more emotion.

They also said changes would be made to increase the hole in the restrictor plates and go back to the spoiler instead of the rear wing.

Many companies in the current economic climate have had to regroup, change strategies, and come up with new game plans to be able to forecast growth realistically, but seldom do they admit their faults to the public or financial analysts.

NASCAR’s new plan is to basically go back to the old plan, which is admitting their faults in past changes. It is commendable that they can admit their past failures in decision making, but it would have appeared more earnest if not so desperate.

The NASCAR State of the Union address had me thinking of another company who recently rolled out with an ad campaign that basically admitted their past product was garbage.

Domino’s Pizza, once a thriving up-and-coming company, built a huge following becoming a mega-giant in the pizza delivery business with little national competition.

Once some of the others came along with advertising campaigns just as big, like Papa John’s, and revenues were way down—making their year-over-year charts look like the “diver down” flag, they shared all their recipe changes in a last-ditch effort to get their slice of the business pie.

In doing so, they shared comments from customers about how bad the pizza used to be, “It tasted like cardboard” and “the sauce is like ketchup.”

So now this big business pizza joint, who I thought was just fine but still never ordered much from, is admitting to me how bad the pizza used to be.

They’re taking a 50-50 shot that they’ll maybe get some old clientele back, but they’re also alienating those who liked the old stuff. It’s business suicide, but it was a measure they were willing to take before the nose dive went off the charts.

In NASCAR’s case, we don’t have a Papa John’s circuit to run to for alternative stock car racing.

It’s the only game in town, but why couldn’t they have come clean with their faults, which everyone had cried aloud about, when everything was rolling well with NASCAR’s bank account and future?

Last season saw television ratings increase slightly in only seven of the 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup events compared to 2008.

The economy was bad, but most folks had TV sets before things went sour. The writing was on the wall, and they needed some momentum for the next big TV contract in 2014, plain and simple.

The double-file restarts format (in the middle of the down 2009 season) was a sign that NASCAR would be willing to do just about anything to garner more recognition and impress the sponsors and networks.

So NASCAR announces it has a rodeo again, but the best broncos have already been broken. Is it possible to think you can break a wild horse and then tell it to buck again like it used to?

How do you tell the likes of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to go ahead and be that colorful personality with a style that the fans love and hate equally, when it was NASCAR who made them stay after school writing, “I will not misbehave again or else,” a thousand times on the chalkboard?

In a way, it’s refreshing to see a sport react so swiftly and make the subtle changes. On the other hand, NASCAR is also showing that its business is being run like a Korean liquor store where the prices fluctuate on a daily basis with never an ounce of consistency.

Could you imagine Major League Baseball, the NFL, or NBA drastically changing its rules year after year, or—even worse—in the middle of a season? No, because part of what makes those sports so good is that the core rules basically stay the same.

It’s not hard to follow for someone who took a few years off, whether in jail, in a cave, or even worse, got married.

Can you picture the NASCAR fan who took a 10-year hiatus from the sport and he’s being told about all the “new” things going on in stock car racing? The first response might be, “why the hell did they make a change to a rule that was already there?”

And I don’t even want to attempt explaining all the add-on changes throughout the Chase for the Championship format, along with why Labor Day weekend doesn‘t have a race at Darlington anymore.

In the long run, the changes will be good for NASCAR, and I’m looking forward to this season more than ever.

But I have to believe that some of things that have gone on with this family-operated business over the last decade could have been handled much better by real business minds who think things out with long term effect rather than knee-jerk reaction.

Again, it’s the only game in town.

Friday, January 22, 2010

LeBron Sends a Statement To Kobe, Lakers: Cleveland Cavaliers is Team To Beat

For all the puppet hype, a marketing crusade Nike has advertised of NBA marquee superstars, Kobe against LeBron publicity turned into an epic theater and millions are witnesses.

It might have been the biggest, uttermost entertaining game of the year, coming in January when it felt like a postseason atmosphere in front of an electric Cleveland crowd.

At Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, a clamorous crowd rocks whenever LeBron James and Kobe Bryant deliver a shooting spectacle, enough to awe the spectators in for a treat. Take it from Drew Carry, Cleveland ROCKS!

On a bone-chilling night outside the arena, fans cramped inside to be witnesses of LeBron’s dramatic matchup between Kobe, a duel advertised as a potential bout in June. We’ve long-awaited the dream NBA Finals, a best-of-seven series when LeBron meets Kobe. For several reasons, a series that contains two of the top-of-the-line-players and two well-known marketers, will force NBA Commissioner David Stern to smile.

The resurgence of a league may suddenly develop for the engaging influence Kobe and LeBron have on the game, both nationwide and globally. Each are global icons, standing as a valuable attribute for the charitable work, marketing promotions and stellar performances, better than most have seen on a regular at other NBA arenas.

Of course, on this night LeBron outrivaled a friendly rival, a marketing partner and a good friend. He outplayed Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers inside their domain. He secured a 93-87 win to beat the defending champs. So, how significant was the win? I’ll admit it was significant after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the regular-season series 2-0. That sends a decisive statement to the Lakers, who have played lackadaisical at times, particularly in the last meeting on Christmas Day when they were humiliated at home to frustrate die-hard Lakers’ fans witnessing a surprising relapse.

At the Staples Center, matters turned ugly as fans initiated a minor disturbance by tossing foam fingers onto the court, angry over the poor officiating. Well, it was the total opposite on the King’s Court. The appeased fans willing to watch LeBron on a regular awarded him with “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chants. He seems to attract more witnesses than anyone else as of now.

He seems to be a bigger magnet than Kobe as of now. He seems to be hotter than Kobe as of now, even though his latest shoe is blazing hot. None of it matters after LeBron scored 12 straight points and settled for a 37-point showpiece to clobber the Black Mamba. None of it matters after Kobe failed to avenge a horrendous rout on Christmas Day.

Never mind what goes on at the Staples Center in the season, while on the east coast, LeBron continues to dazzle and titillate us all with the high-flying dunks, three-point ability and even the routine baby powder toss to intensify the wildest crowd. Never mind what happens in Los Angeles, while in Cleveland, LeBron is constantly putting on a star-studded showcase for amazed fans to occupy two hours of their time.

It’s hard to argue that LeBron is favored to win the MVP for the second straight season. It’s not hard to argue or pontificate he’s the better player currently. Before each game LeBron is greatly greeted by the fans and his grand entrance always attracts a loud standing ovation, towel swinging insanity. Following last night’s vintage showdown, LeBron revealed to the world that he’s as valuable as Kobe.

Once the night came to an end, he divulged that he’s a popular superstar whose legacy is elevating. With a win over the Lakers, he uncovered that beating the Lakers for the grandest prize is possible. Similar to Kobe’s clutch performances late in the fourth quarter, LeBron stood out as the perennial superstar and the untouchable superhero. His shots scorched. His shot-selections were brilliant. His ability to take over was staggering. With the exception of four jumpshots in three-minutes, one three-pointer, James possessed the last word of the night.

Owning the best record in the NBA, the Lakers don’t convince us that they’re the team to beat. The Cavs dismantled Los Angeles twice, played with more energy and poise, bearing a positive and presumptuous standpoint that they could very well inhibit the Lakers from repeating brilliance. By glancing at Phil Jackson, he wasn’t too thrilled with the late droughts and lethargic play. From the looks of his body language, he sat on the bench bitter of the uninspired effort.

With a little under six minutes remaining, LeBron dazzled and tormented the Lakers on both ends of the floor, due to the athleticism and stamina in the middle. He scored five points late, but the Los Angeles was able to survive until Pau Gasol missed a pair of free throws. Of course, Kobe tried keeping hopes alive after burying a pivotal jumpshot to revive his team of premature mortals.

As a result, it forced an 87-87 tie. But James answered as he responded whenever the Lakers tried to expand the lead. Only 49 seconds remained on the clock, and LeBron collected the rebound, raced down the floor and wasn’t intimidated by the lanky Gasol. He still drove through a clobbered line and made a layup.

These days, people are still curious to know where LeBron may end up when he becomes a free-agent in 2010, but in Cleveland they couldn’t care less. After all, the King is an Ohio native, and the population have greatly pampered and anointed James. Minus Mo Williams, who’s ineffective and sidelined for at least six weeks, wasn’t missed much. If the Cavs continue to put on a dominant show, Williams likely won’t be a factor.

Because he has been unsuccessful in winning a NBA championship, James doesn’t draw the same type of credit as Kobe. But this could be the year he wins a title and maybe multiple if he manages to stay healthy. It might seem difficult without Williams, whose three-point shooting could come in handy. Either way, LeBron is expected to bring life to a lifeless sports town, still longing to overcome sporting indignities.

If there’s one team in town, it’s the Cavs. If you wish to put the ball in someone’s hands, give it to LeBron, the ravishing athlete. No one has envy feelings at all, just belief that he’s the town's savior. In a competitive market, Bryant and James have dominated in shoe sales and jersey sales, both topping at either No. 1 or No. 2 in each category. It goes to show how valuable each player is to their team and the league in general, an association that needed a rebirth since Michael Jordan retired.

In June, we’ll see which has the better team. For now, Kobe is surrounded with a powerful supporting cast, while LeBron needs to take more shot attempts, even though he’s fortunate to have Shaquille O’Neal, the seven-foot giant whose freestyle rap took shots at Kobe a few summers ago.

I’m sure many of you can’t wait until June. This may have been a sneak preview of what’s to come in June, the NBA Finals matchup every one dreams for.

LeBron against Kobe!

When, the best superstar is decided.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NBA Cares

It's been a week since one of the most catastrophic disasters had happened to our world. We all know what happened: The 6.0 earthquake in the country of Haiti. A boy, five years of age, was recently rescued after being trapped by rubble...for eight days. They also then found a 70-year-old woman. The NBA, heck, every sports league were devastated by this.

Players like Samuel Dalembert and Pierre Garcon were surprised, also because of family and friends living there as well. Rapper Wyclef Jean was distressed about the accident when he appeared on Oprah. He knew some of his friends died, but he knows he just can't do anything about it. It's unfortunate for our world, but the United States; along with leagues, people, and companies affiliated; are making a difference to help this country.

It's lugubrious, indeed. A bunch of children are now orphans. But the NBA cares. Sameul Dalembert made most of the difference, and arrived just in time for the Sixers game against the Timberwolves. Though they lost, Dalembert had heart. But although he is back in the US, he's still not done with the problems surrounding the country.

"I'm doing my best," he says. "I'll take another trip with UNICEF. So we can try to get all those children out there ... you know, we have parents who have been trying to adopt for two or three years."

Tears came.

"You know and ... that's frustrating me ... you're asking people to help. And kids have parents over there who want to adopt them. I've got a hundred parents, and you have a bunch of guys sitting down with the freaking papers. All it takes is one hour to go over everything, you know what I'm saying?

"I saw somebody's leg amputated in front of me. Surgeries performed on a kitchen table ... I'm talking about a folding kitchen table ... I have some disturbing pictures. And it hurts. ... There was no surgery room ... You heard him screaming. ... Not enough alcohol. Things we take for granted, you know. They try to make one bottle of alcohol last.

"Problems just keep occurring. There's no machinery to move things around. It's taking a long time to locate the people. I know everybody is doing their best. ... It's crazy over there.

"One thing really touched my heart the most is all the children. A lot of homeless children."

Other NBA players are also making differences of what is going on. Recently, Dwayne Wade and Alonzo Mourning both raised $800K for Haiti. Along with that, Cavaliers' Shaquille O'Neal suggested that the NBA should have the All-Star game, dunk contest, etc. in Haiti actually.

"As his manager, I will only allow 'Bron to do the dunk contest if Vince Carter comes back out," O'Neal said. "If Kobe comes back out and if another big name comes back out. If we could get a big prize and have half of the money go to the people of Haiti and the other half to the winner.

"The guys that are in it, no disrespect to them, but there won't really be any competition for LeBron. I want to see Kobe. I want to see Vince and I will allow my client to enter."

But these players aren't the only ones trying to make a difference for the country. There are a bunch of NBA players listed as donors for the population of Haiti. Take a look at these players involved, via Associated Press:
Al Horford, Anthony Parker, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Ben Gordon, Mike Dunleavy, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Quentin Richardson, Devin Harris, Michael Finley, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Caron Butler and the suspended Gilbert Arenas.
It's actually very surprising to see that many, but it's great.

A lot of people are making a difference and are doing everything they can to help Haiti. I just donated $10 for the country. If all of you guys are, you are truly making difference. Like Donte Stallworth said, "Follow & let's help the people of Haiti together today!"

North Carolina No Longer Loom a Threat in College Hoops

If there are outrageous vibes wondering inside the minds of committed basketball lords on Tobacco Road and near Chapel Hill, it’s for all the unforeseen transitions ensuing among an elite program.

The North Carolina Tar Heels reached a point of frailty, in what has finally turned into reality, any time a talented class with competitive depth and zest departs to the NBA.

During a year of plights, what we’re watching is an underachieving program, but looking on the bright side a program with potential. In the meantime, North Carolina isn’t excelling as a team of defending champs, suffering rare defeats and being humiliated on their home floor in front of a zealous crowd.

These days, supportive residence and students are curious, even worried about the sudden relapses and flaws that don’t epitomize the history of Tar Heels basketball.

It’s a majestic program that has produced NBA stars, cultivated high school prospects, won five national titles, preserved 18 Final Four appearances, and amassed 43 ACC Championships.

But this is no longer the invincible or elite academic and athletic college we once knew, lacking much growth and experience to be equivalent to the powerhouse class of college hoops a year ago.

As the Tar Heels are facing a bizarre and abnormal stage, it’s good realizing no program is ensured of persistent legitimacy, though nostalgia marks solidity and grandeur forever. Because of blemishes and the derailing of a famous school that qualifies and dances in March Madness, gathering a clear perception that the (12-7, 1-3) Tar Heels are no longer villains or looms as a threat amid the NCAA tourney is thinking logical.

It’s a rarity when Carolina misses out on the Madness, and instead qualifies for the NIT—the National Inferior Tournament, I might add. That’s a path the Tar Heels are on, if they continue to shoot the ball poorly, miss ill-advised three-pointers and fail to protect the perimeter. As a result, Carolina has lost miserably in four of their last five games and plunged to No. 24, the lowest ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 since 2006.

Not much has changed on the coaching roster, the folksy head coach Roy Williams is there, and still coaches by his standard. His customary standards are, thoroughly, teaching the rhythmic of the game.

But of late he hasn’t been the popular coach in college hoops, as most of the attention has turned to schools like Clemson or Kentucky, programs that have climbed to the top of the basketball polls. Before we had tremendous respect for Carolina, a team that never backed down, a team opponents were afraid of because of their dominance.

But now no team is intimidated of overpowering a young and inexperienced program, of course guided by Williams, whose resume consists of a 2003 national title loss at Kansas. Not long following his departure, he was scolded for wearing a Jayhawks button after they had smothered the Tar Heels.

In 2009, his national title win defied excellence among one of the greatest classes in Carolina history. Minus the savvy ingredients, the Tar Heels are depleted and futile.

The loss of Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green is unfortunate and omitted the brand name as vulnerability has enlarged unbelievably.

It’s portrayed as a helpless school and hopes to rise back to the top, even though Ellington was a jump shooting machine and Lawson was a floor general and directed traffic with his incredible play-making and smarts to maneuver an up-tempo style as his speed created advantages.

But more intimidating was the interior game of Hansbrough, whose upper body strength couldn’t be stopped. So for a program that relied much on his inside presence, Hansbrough is missed greatly for the post presence, ability to rebound and startle all opponents in the middle.

Most were unsuccessful defending the dominant force inside, leading all of college basketball a year ago, which makes lots of sense on why he was given the name Psycho-T. If generous enough to acknowledge his achievements, he broke the all-time ACC scoring record. And his ability to produce points was an integral feature.

Nonetheless, every team must experience up and down transitions to rebuild into the legitimate contender. That’s exactly what the Tar Heels are dealing with.

And wouldn’t it happen to be the longest losing streak since dropping five straight under Matt Doherty in 2002-03. The latest loss came against Wake Forest at home, where the Tar Heels were embarrassed but braced by the crowd, dressed in Carolina Blue.

Many still believe, but time is running short. Time is continuously ticking, as the madness looms ever so closer. If there is hope left, they have to move forward and forget about a demoralizing 82-69 loss to the Demon Deacons on Wednesday night, a pounding that will either make or break down the Tar Heels.

In retrospect, Carolina is sluggish at the guard position and struggles greatly, ever since Lawson and Ellington left early for an upstart.

During their regimen, no weaknesses were signs of innovations, but seeing all the flaws at a significance position is a problem in their back court and needs to be upgraded. Will Graves is flexible and finesse, but not quick enough. Larry Drew is good, but not great. Tyler Zeller is banged up. And, well, Ed Davis isn’t at full strength.

This season the Tar Heels are being outraced, a weakness Wake Forest exploited constantly and outplayed them in the transition game. Each moment reveals a scare in a program that has suddenly dwindled.

And with the exception of arising ACC schools, Carolina isn’t even a favorite to clinch the ACC title. Not when there’s Clemson and Georgia Tech, two power conference teams that have already caused trouble for a languishing program we once knew as defending champs.

Nobody fears the title of defending champs. Nobody sees the Tar Heels as a threat.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cowboys Fiascoes Vanish? Jettison Phillips, Jones

Why is the richest franchise in the NFL so mindless, if the intent is to win a Super Bowl in the near future? Logic is, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is too loyal when he needs to renovate a motionless coaching staff. Yet, I’ve tried to figure out the egomaniacal weasel for the last few years.

I’ve tried to guess the initiative plans of a classy owner who is more focused on ego and prima donnas rather than bringing in a charismatic coach to brighten the moods of players and a team missing felicity or direction. Ever since building the world’s largest venue, a creation that cost $1.3 billion and consists of a high-def screen low enough to interfere with punts, Jones has aimed the attention to selling out a capacity crowd and producing profit from a fan base.

But the world’s greatest creation is irrelevant, with the Cowboys' failures. And still, the most scrutinized organization is advertised as America’s team, even though its last Super Bowl victory was 14 years ago. Much of the proclivity is awful for an enigmatic businessman, willing to follow the similar routine by holding on to a low-key, soft coach.

It spells trouble and could backfire on Jones, who elaborated he was hungry to win a title. But if he retained a dull Wade Phillips, clearly the last thing on Jones mind is a Super Bowl championship, otherwise he wouldn’t be drifting backwards. Keeping the weak-minded coach is like keeping a gallon of old milk in the refrigerator, but in this example, keeping Phillips is like keeping a lousy record-player. So when the owner/general manager determined his fate, Jones made the worst mistake and will regret issuing paychecks to a numskulled coach.

Reports confirmed that he’ll bring back Phillips as coach for the 2010 season. What in the hell is he thinking? Doesn’t he understand the no-good wannabe doesn’t have the personality to discipline or enlighten a winning franchise? He isn’t an ideal suit for propelling the world’s greatest franchise, the world’s famous franchise and the world’s admirable franchise. The former boss gained popularity and built a dynamic team, assembling useful ingredients worthy of making a strong case for the Super Bowl.

He was fortune to possess an architect and Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, but fled and had problems working for an egomaniac and scrutinized market. Or else the old boss wouldn’t have a coaching dilemma, the Cowboys may have even advanced and a quantity of issues would’ve been addressed. It’s utterly amazing and ridiculous Jones is sticking with a mediocre coach whom he can control.

That’s a problem any time an owner is comfortable maintaining the leverage. And if he was to hire an intellectual coach with experienced, like a Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan or a Jim Fassel, he’d have to give up personnel decisions and allow the results to come from the sidelines. He’ll have to allow someone with experience to bring in a satisfying staff, and maybe even a sterling quarterback they could cultivate.

These days, Phillips is frustrated and unsatisfied with all the failures in the postseason. Good thing is, the Cowboys recovered and managed to avoid December doom. Bad thing is, they collapsed when it counted. If you think Phillips is satisfied with the postseason relapses, think again.

“Our goal was to win it all, and if not, then that’s not a success,” he said softly. “It’s like the elevator is falling from the top. It’s tough when it’s over. If you don’t win it all, you have not reached your goal."

I hope Jones heard Phillips speak. If so, the goal is to win a Super Bowl, which means he needs to make a coaching change. If planning to avoid all the miserable collapses, Jones may want to call Cowher or Fassel. It’s too bad he missed out on a pair of top-of-the-line names. After all, he was better off landing Shanahan, who signed with the lousy Washington Redskins, which could be hurtful being arch-rivals. Jones has insisted that he has had too many coaches, since Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith impacted a high-powered offense dating back to the mid/late ‘90’s.

If he was to find a new coach, it would make sense to believe Jason Garrett wouldn’t return as offensive coordinator who has been criticized for his absurd play-calling. He doesn’t have a genuine notion on how his organization deteriorated, simply for the faulty managing. During a dismantling period, the Cowboys need tweaks in the coaching staff, a weakness that has delayed the rebirth of a venerable era. The Cowboys aren’t a team of amateurs, and there’s no question the talent exists. Let’s realize all the attributes are insubstantial, unless Jones starts phoning the next coach to mend unattractive postseason misadventures.

In the meantime, Wade Phillips continues to embarrass himself. Unlike his father, Bum, he’s not NFL coaching material. Go check out the track record, where you’ll notice a 1-2 record in the playoffs. Backtrack to the days he was the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator. He failed to win, and finally, owner Ralph Wilson and general manager Russ Brandon said good-riddance.

But where there’s a loyal owner with ego, he keeps Phillips.

Why, Jones?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Zero Love

As horrible as it is, the NBA's most beloved player who always has a elephantine grin on his face, like a chessy cat would obtain, now has plummeted. Gilbert Arenas, or appreciated as "Agent Zero," did one of the most half-witted things to be versed towards mankind. I strongly disagree of Arenas' choice.

Those of you who have not been examining the news lately, it seems that Gilbert Arenas was in a so-called "altercation" with teammate Javaris Crittenton. It seems they were somewhat in the likes of gambling and Crittenton yearned for money from Gil.And then Crittenton said he was going to shoot him. Arenas then packed three guns in his bags and told Javaris to "pick one." And now, Arenas was in court lately and is expected to be in court again in March.

He may be expected to head to jail. Arenas is charged with a felony of possessing a gun without a license. It was not an intelligent move. But if he does go to jail, or not, he is getting some interest from a few teams around the league. One that pops to our mind are the Orlando Magic. Orlando might trade a player like Jameer Nelson or so for Agent Zero. But because of what he has done, he may be a bargain.

Arenas has not had an All-Star like season since the 2006-07 season where notched over two-thousand points. He is only about 200 points away from hitting the 1,000-point mark for this season. But there may be a chance he might not reach that feat, maybe not for the rest of his career.

As one of the most admired players in the game, always having that pleased expression on his face, Agent Zero has fallen. He's not Agent Zero anymore because of his number now. He has zero love, zero effective, and zero supporters.

It's all zero in the negative way. The way nobody expected Gilbert Arenas would land at. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dallas Cowboys Collapses Are Bigger Than Tony Romo

Eight days ago, the Dallas Cowboys felt like the unbeaten, invincible team of the NFL. It's obvious that anyone affiliated with the organization believed booking a trip to the Super Bowl was possible following a 34-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles to clinch the team's first playoff berth since 1996. Except on different turf, in a louder environment, in front of a blistering Minnesota Vikings' defense that couldn’t be denied on nearly each possession, Dallas collapsed.

The scoreboard rendered ugly results, and players' body languages evinced fatigue. Bruised and exhausted bodies sat on the sideline, literally ready to burst into tears. None of this was even imagined for the tough-minded, driven Cowboys. Not because they're recognized as America's team or as one of the wealthiest franchises in pro sports, but because of their high confidence level and unstoppable swagger that presented problems for the shaky Vikings.

In all fairness, a winning streak meant nothing and was unable to terrify Minnesota's defensive package. The four-game winning streak was a positive notion based on awful collapses, allowing frailty to dictate a wasteful season. But notice that Dallas was successful in passing their biggest test this season by avoiding December doom, a predicament that routinely dismantled the taste of Super Bowl triumph.

Although genuine vibes were felt, a three-hour contest turned into a three-hour horror fest and the Cowboys took gigantic steps backwards instead of advancing further. It would have been enough to banish the unpleasant anguish, which has delayed prosperity to an eternity in a town where football is a priority on any given Sunday.

No one had an ugly collapse in mind, anxiously awaiting the Cowboys to jump onto the saddle and gallop closer to the Super Bowl, a national holiday and prime-time fame that owner Jerry Jones has waited for patiently. From the long-awaited droughts and late season failures, Jones is distraught of all the downfalls tantalizing a franchise he truly invests millions in.

For all the haters and critical media outlets all have reason to criticize the Cowboys. But there is one positive thing to say about this Dallas team. After proving he's among the elite, you can’t blame Tony Romo or his latest performance on turf. Why even label Romo as a celebrity bust when he quarterbacked the Cowboys past the first round? Critics may want to stay silent.

He’s not a celebrity bust, and he proved it as he realized starlet and ex-girlfriend Jessica Simpson was a distraction and dumped her.

Romo also had to fend off all the paparazzi and was drained of the beleaguering photo shots. When alienated receiver Terrell Owens' temperamental traits started to drag down morale, the T.O. drama was dismissed, and it bolstered Romo's capacity.

So Romo is not the one to blame. It isn’t his fault that the Cowboys teetered and deflated. It isn't Wade Phillips' fault, either.

The last few years, Jones, the wealthiest owner in the league, shifted directions in the way he runs an unorganized business. So much has been said regarding the Cowboys' talent and its fragile seasons. It’s time to face the truth and understand that Mr. Jones is an egomaniac, a weasel concerned with divas and dramatic, action-packed football rather than addressing the missing pieces to help form an elite franchise.

Sunday afternoon, the signs were there. The Cowboys suffered a 34-3 loss to the Vikings, just short of reaching the NFC Championship game for a rematch against the New Orleans Saints. As the brink of elimination quickly approached, Romo sat frustrated on the bench and reflected back on what had became a miraculous season. He was furious after he was sacked six times and fumbled twice.

You can grasp a sense of what happened. The poor guy was severely abused by a vehement and uncontrolled Vikings defense. In previous weeks, Romo's superb footwork was an instrumental piece to damaging a defense on the ground. But this time he was smothered and harassed on nearly every possession by an energetic Ray Edwards, who wouldn't stop aggravating Romo.

It's too bad that Romo is to blame for the team's poor ability to orchestrate critical plays. I almost feel sorry for him, especially when he tried to direct this team to the grandest stage before the Super Bowl. But the deficient offensive line bailed out, absent in the biggest game of Romo's playing career as he watched his first playoff victory fundamentally break down.

On this day, he finished 22-35 with 198 yards and never lacked poise as he tried everything in his own power to keep the 'Boys in the game. They entered the game hoping to celebrate and win a playoff matchup on the road for the first time since the NFC Championship game in '92.

Glorious years could return with offseason turning points. Considering their inability to find a sturdy place kicker, the Cowboys need to find a reliable kicker, someone who could boot a long shot in critical moments. On a 4th-and-1 at the 30, embattled coach Wade Phillips summoned Shaun Suisham for a 49-yard attempt, but he hooked the kick wide left.

Often, Phillips has been on the coaching hot seat. I believe he's not the right coach for the Cowboys. His low-key, soft demeanor doesn't provide inspiration, but I guess they could leave the role of inspiration to a charismatic Keith Brooking, a veteran linebacker who has inspired teammates with his sideline speeches.

For now, the afternoon win is a nice one for Brett Favre. Though it may seem that he returned to the game seeking vengeance against Ted Thompson and Green Bay, he returned to win, and today he outplayed Romo by feeding off the turns.

At 40, Favre completed 15-24 passes for 234 yards thanks in large part to the emergence of wideout Sidney Rice, who played like Jerry Rice. He caught three touchdown passes, forcing us to forget Dallas' talented core of receivers like Austin Miles, Patrick Crayton, and Jason Witten.

If only Jones would realize the talent he has, he could start building around it and return Dallas to the title of America's franchise. Keep in mind that this is Jones' problem. Maybe he saw what we all did: a weak offensive line, a paltry kicker, and a soft coach. Maybe he realized this only after his 'Boys were so close.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So What if He Arrives Late, Reggie Bush Emerges on Time for Saints

Like the loudest musical performance appearing in New Orleans, the place was clamorous as the Saints inched closer to a trip to Miami. There’s no venue crazier or wilder than the Superdome, mainly because there’s no team in the league as exciting or electrifying as the Saints.

It’s a franchise, greatly, cherished for charming performances and amplifies mystique with the ability to put fear on teams still alive. Fear their ability to execute on all levels, a dimensional franchise that brought hope to a despairing town after a calamity struck New Orleans.

Sadly, Hurricane Katarina pierced the hearts of a helpless community and much was deprived, until the Saints marched in and lifted sanity. But there’s more to a feel-good story, and not only have a tenacious team cured souls. Realizing nothing the Saints have done is a fluke, the nagging fortitude and energy are elements to fear.

So each moment in the Superdome feels invincible, like the home team cannot lose. Respectively, a loyal crowd is attached to football embracing the franchise with craziness and intense screams, hungrier than the players themselves.

The emotions of euphoria carried the Saints to a level of belief, purging all debates and pontification of immortalities. In case you’re wondering, Mardi Gras has initiated prematurely on Bourbon Street, where a huge block party anticipates sparking a rejoicing celebrations. The fervid crowd will pour onto the streets, soaking in the greatest victory and memorable moment.

In the regular season, timeless flaws evoked dubious notions that the Saints weren’t the boundless contenders individuals had in mind. Late in the season, each moment revealed scary rationalization of New Orleans as a one-and-done team, based on a three-game losing skid to topple regard. During a sudden collapse, the Saints clumsily averaged 14.7 points when it was known for compiling the scoreboards. Every team has strengths and weaknesses.

The spectators entertained at the Superdome, a popular place to witness the aerial extravaganza, saw an efficacious Drew Brees hurl incredible passes to a bottomless receiver core. He exploited plays, designed to torment defenses. He executed plays opponents were unsuccessful stifling. Nothing in the Big Breezy stopped the creativity of jaw-dropping drives, which usually resulted in touchdowns.

Once again, the Saints had the swagger, finding its high-powered offense in time for the NFC Divisional round to literally manhandled the Arizona Cardinals, who again was noticed as the team from the desert with the word miracle written all over. Last year, we were caught by surprise when the Cardinals stunned the world and advanced to the Super Bowl, thanks to veteran quarterback Kurt Warner and wideout Larry Fitzgerald.

Your final score: 45-14

That decisive win punched a ticket to the NFC Championship game. The Saints await the winner of Minnesota and Dallas. But until then, an entire community relishes a moment of greatness. For some time, everyone waited for this moment, a time to erupt with the heroes of the town. The Saints are saviors, popular after alleviating the disastrous perceptions of reality. This is their city, this is their team, and this is their antidote to erase memories of a terrible tragedy.

As of now, New Orleans are marching, not to the nearest restaurant for gumbo, not to the local convenient store, not even to Bourbon Street to hear the soothing sounds of jazz, but marching with the Saints. With the exception of Brees, Reggie Bush, Devery Henderson, Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey, the boys of New Orleans reached the point where fans are convinced this is the year to shine.

If they win the championship rounds, the Saints won’t have to worry about hearing the discouraging word. Remember, it was a franchise belittled and referred as to the Aint’s. Those were the days, when the organization had suffocated dearly and fans protested and wore paper bags over their heads, deeply ashamed of the failures. But these days, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Instead they’re worshiping the Saints, proud of how far the team has come.

This wasn’t envisioned until he proved to us that he still has the swagger, finally translating to the pros. Reggie Bush was the hero. He was the player of the game. He earned the chants, “Reggie”, “Reggie”, Reggie!” Those choruses echoed inside the Superdome, where he played like he was at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. The former mighty Trojan dusted Arizona’s porous defense, bringing back memories of his prevailing era at USC.

This may have been the greatest sprint he advertised of his flowering NFL career, with a 46-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to set the tone and increase momentum. For those unfamiliar with Bush’s incomparable style, he was supposed to make an impact when he earned spotlight in his rookie season. He was supposed to be the best running back, to awe pro football devotees.

So what if he’s late, but what matters he’s succeeding expectations suddenly, meeting the tangibles of a stud running back. All of us waited for this moment, the emergence of Bush. And it happened in no better place than New Orleans, where the people live and die to witness triumphant junctures. The ability to break tackles, outrun defenders, and sprint in open field is a special knack.

That has given a better description of Bush in recent memory. I’m going to admit this was a breakout game, amassing 70 yards on four carries midway in the second quarter. I’ll be generous to confide, this was the greatest game of his career, which happened to come in the postseason when winning is critical.

His two touchdowns, 84 yards performance was a beautiful display, snapping the Saints out of a funk and back into offensive overdrive against the Cardinals, who yielded 90 points in the postseason, the most ever surrendered in two straight postseason games in a single season.

“We had a plan the whole time”, said Brees, who had a flawless game and passed for 247 yards. “It was hard for anybody to understand that plan if you’re not a member of my team, but we trusted in that plan, that process. We executed throughout the week and it showed in the game.”

Indeed, it did.

The Saints mastermind offensively is coach Sean Payton. Ever since he was brought in to solidify an offensive powerhouse, he has designed an effective rush attack. Turns out, he’s responsible for the emergence of Bush.

So what if Bush is late, he arrived on time. He came to the Saints aid.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Unflappable Flacco is a Throwback to 70's Quarterbacking

When talking about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, everyone is pretty much in agreement that he’s beyond his years in age just by being able to control a football game by not making the big mistake that costs his team the game.

The second year quarterback from Delaware does what it takes to win. He allows the Ravens to play to their strengths, running the ball and playing solid defense, while unselfishly taking a back seat himself.

He’s no statistical monger in this age of west coast and stretch offenses where it seems everyone has great passing stats. The only stat Flacco seems to care about is wins, and he does it well.

There is no better example of his unselfishness than last weeks AFC Wild Card game at New England where Flacco only made 10 passing attempts the entire game while easily winning the game 33-14. The win was fueled by their great running attack and defense that got them off to a 24-0 start in the first quarter.

"I don't care. If we win, we win," Flacco said. "Quarterbacks like to throw the ball and do it that way, but it doesn't matter. … C'mon, we were up 24 points after the first quarter.”

“You really think we're going to throw the ball 30 times? I don't think so."

That style of win makes him a throwback type of quarterback, not from this era. His season stat lines look similar to those greats of the 70’s with Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Stuabach, and Ken Stabler rather than his counterparts in current times.

Just like all of the greats from the 70’s, those teams were built on running the ball and playing great defense. The quarterback got to go along for the ride as long as he didn’t turn the ball over and as long he won games, especially playoff games.

As a rookie last season, Flacco did the amazing. He led his team to the AFC Championship game by beating two good opponents, including the No. 1 seeded Tennessee Titans. Winning a playoff game as a rookie is almost unheard of, but winning as a rookie on the road, and winning two playoff games in NFL History.

His career tally in post season play -- where most of the greats are measured -- reads three wins and one loss, that loss being to the eventually Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

The three playoff wins puts him in some pretty good company that include Dan Fouts, Phillip Rivers, Bernie Kosar, and Warren Moon. The wins also elevate him past Hall of Famer Joe Namath who surprisingly only had two playoff wins and the popularly publicized hype machine of Tony Romo who just got his first win last week in three tries.

To be fair to the older players, there are many more playoff games today than in the past, but it still takes a certain type of player to get his team to the next week when it’s do or die time.

Joe Flacco visits Indianapolis Saturday for the Divisional Playoffs, a place where he made one of his biggest mistakes of the season late in the week 11 game. With less than three minutes to go, trailing 17-15 on the Colts 14-yard line facing a third and 7 situation, Flacco threw a short pass that was intercepted -- his only pick of the game.

The Colts were able to run the clock out and remain unbeaten, but Flacco kept them in the game. Things may be different this time around. The Colts had a bye week after throwing away the last two regular season games.

It’s hard to say just how fluid the Colts offense will be, but do know the Ravens are in full playoff mode right now, just as they were last season when they beat the No. 1 seed. We also know Flacco will be as unflappable as ever for this contest just like the greats from the 70’s were in big games.

Saturday also happens to be Flacco's birthday. He'll be 25.

"I don't celebrate my birthday. Are you kidding me?" he said. "That will be after the season's all over. … I'm going to ignore it and hopefully celebrate it with a win."

There's No Place Like Home: Colts Are the Best Thing for Indianapolis

They deprived a town filled with anger. It was nearly 23 years ago when the franchise packed up and left a town in the wee hours to shock bitter fans. Once resentful citizens awakened and heard the sadden news, the Baltimore Colts relocated and renamed themselves the Indianapolis Colts. Ever since, owner Jim Irsay hasn’t shaking off the grim memories of abandoning and deceiving a sporting community.

He’s probably the most loyal owner in football, even though his father, Robert, transformed the landscape of the NFL. Fans were stunned to wake up March 30, 1984, with no pro franchise to root for, no players to admire, and no team to go watch at the local venue. In the aftermath of the Colts’ sudden departure, the bitter aftertaste lasts. But it isn’t fair to point the finger at Jim, when his father was foolhardy to evade town in moving vans, like a scoundrel initiating a charitable foundation as a way of scamming citizens.

If there’s someone holding grudges ever since the Colts traveled to a community that has truly worshiped the football culture, it’s for the idea of feeling betrayed. But, either way, there’s no franchise in the league nearly as singular as the Colts, a NFL brand name the people of Indianapolis embraces and aroused by its polish depth.

You’ve seen and heard about it all season: the Colts chase to perfection. Well, almost, the most entertaining franchise accomplished the unprecedented and the miraculous plateau other teams haven’t had much credit for simply because of midseason collapses or losing streaks late in the season.

At first, it seemed the attempt was to finish a perfection 19-0. But there’s more to sustain in a 16-game season, other than historic records or perfection. It wasn’t realized until rookie head coach Jim Caldwell no longer cared and based a season on capturing plateaus and history. Instead, he was smart and decided to bench the NFL Most Valuable Player, Peyton Manning, who's arguably the league’s greatest quarterback. What we know for sure he’s greatly valuable in the smallish town, where he has been the centerpiece.

In previous years, Manning has been more valuable than an outdated trading card and conducted the Colts to a number of playoff victories, including a lone Super Bowl title while at Indianapolis. Rarely does an icon receives 37 ½ of a possible 50 votes, but the incredible style answered all questions to why he achieved the unforeseen, breaking the all-time record for the most MVP wins ever. He had the Colts en route of becoming the first 19-0 team in history to complete such an astounding goal.

By prioritizing, president Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell were reluctant to endanger a prosperous adventure, which seemed too extraordinary to waste because of nagging injuries. In specifics, no team wishes to see their unhealthy stars nursing bruises and fractures when a postseason game is pivotal and immortalities are poor indications of faltering a dream season.

The average football lord is curious to know if the Colts has what it takes to reach a pinnacle, even though the average lord has predicted they’ll travel to Miami. And, indeed, Indianapolis is craving another Vince Lombardi Trophy, an award every athlete dreams and plays for. So now, it makes sense on why the organization decided resting Manning and key starters was a brilliant idea.


Against the ferocious Ravens, a dangerous team that doesn’t quit, the Colts have to click on all cylinders. We can only hope, the Ravens-Colts contest emerges a bloody massacre on turf, a fascinating matchup and presents marquee superstars. As barbaric Baltimore defense is, Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs aren’t committed to playing backyard, two-handed touch. Instead a fierce defensive front is physically and mentally planning to blitz and harass a vintage Manning on nearly every possession to disrupt rhythm and timing coordination.

For all the emphasis and hype pointed in the direction of Manning, the Ravens know he has a strong impact on the NFL, indeed, they know he has excellence accuracy and hand-eye coordination, and they know he has massive strength in connecting with primary target Reggie Wayne, who’s explosive running routes.

Or even second-year receiver Pierre Carcon, who’ll play with a heavy heart and deeply concerned of his relatives’ status recovering from the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. That would be a mistake, discounting the rapid defensive ends of the Colts. How can you ignore the powerful tandem that makes them ten times superior defensive wise? It doesn’t take long to notice the toughness and agility of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

But the Colts have a rigid test to vanquish, if expecting to put away the city they abandoned. With 23-years of cheers, belief and devotion to football, the Colts are the greatest franchise to appear in a moving van. The marquee players are lovable, the new stadium creations of Lucas Oil Stadium are enjoyable and Manning is the town MVP.

Just because Indianapolis didn’t break the hearts of Miami, or popped the corks in celebration of a 19-0 record, doesn’t mean they won’t arrive to Mercury Morris’ block February 7th .