Monday, February 28, 2011

Yankees Face Potential Doom as Usual

There is something arrogant about the New York Yankees. The Boss, for those of us annoyed by his inhumane behavior or his loudmouthed ways to censure his players, ones he lavishes with outrageous salaries, is much too talkative to refrain from acting like a blowhard.

Sadly enough, Hank Steinbrenner is the most bombastic idiot the game of baseball has ever seen, unwisely taking after his late father, George Steinbrenner. As the most scorned businessman in the majors, running ultimately a ballclub filled with arrogance, wrapped with mystique and ruled by the pretentious Steinbrenners, he is traditionally the brand name in baseball.

Because it's entirely a prestigious family in power of the richest franchise in baseball, Steinbrenner can blabber about Derek Jeter's mansion, he can fuss about revenue sharing and he can notoriously belittle the players in command of lifting the Yankees to prominence again. So now, we are mandated to ridicule evidently the storied franchise in baseball, and almost feel sorry for the colossal palace that the Steinbrenners invested billions in creations.

This time, every season, the Yankees are caught in a storm, clouded in disarray for Steinbrenner's loudmouth as the circus arrives to Tampa, Florida every spring, whether it pertains to Alex Rodriguez's steroid bust or Hank's big-mouth, a tongue bigger than his head to some degree. Little does he know, he sounds kind of like Charlie Sheen and has devoted effort to his crazy rants more than retooling the Yankees, once an eminent franchise acknowledged for its traditional pinstripes and championship triumph.

The face of the Yankees is hostility, not a sense of humanity for a franchise hated simply because of its arrogance, riches, bigotry and elitism. The point is, there are multiple reasons to hate the Yankees, a club people hate or love, one or the other, a club people adore because of its history or a club people despise because of its cockiness. The indigenous trends, with the imagery of Yankee Stadium and financial stability after it seemed like the Yankees were almost hit with a financial collapse despite having the largest payroll in baseball, is noticed easily in the Bronx and the Yankees escalate tension that creates usual chaos to begin the season yearly.

It doesn't take a genius, especially when a pompous nature stains the image of a franchise with phenomenal success at one point, to assume that the Yankees are the most hated club in baseball, but in the meantime, Yankee Stadium is the realm of baseball history. To the Yankees chagrin, luckless circumstances always backfire in their faces, normally each season when it looks as if New York is on a path for a potential revival. It's never good for a fool to blabber, let alone Mr. Steinbrenner, considered a manchild in New York while the state of the Yankees remain in limbo.

In his zeal, he is passionate with the Yankees and accepted the duties from his late father a long time ago, but has failed miserably, unable to run a rigid business like his father. Steinbrenner will eventually self-destruct, of course, and probably would have by now if it wasn't for his brother, Hal, who calls for the personnel decisions and tries immensely to keep the Yankees on the correct path, keen to save the franchise from reentering another decade of droughts and early postseason exits. What the folks care about in New York are championships, if nothing else, but they should care about the shaky status of a chattering front office, inherited by an erratic and zany businessman.

Yes, I'm speaking in terms of Hank Steinbrenner. There's never been a time when the Yankees, in the midst of a doomed season that they can miss the playoffs or lose and take an early exit in the postseason, weren't the nexus of the baseball world. His rants, however the funniest drama to each year alarm everybody that baseball is back in full swing by listening to Hank's remarks, aren't precisely original and happens annually for which the critics verbally attacks Steinbrenner.

The nonsense swirls within the Yankees to begin another spring in uproars in the Bronx, flirting with the idea of tribulations instead of proverbial greatness, one reason the Yankees are giving adulation and earning more praise than another clubs well-deserving of glee. When news comes out of the Yankees, Hank blames it on the media, unwilling to take the blame himself if the national attention is shined directly on his pestering Yankees, as if they are the most spotless franchise in baseball. Not true whatsoever.

The $210-million Yankees have squandered massive profit on players and stadium creations, selfishly during a hopeless recession and never took into consideration that the majority of fans were unemployed and had been struggling to find jobs as a way for paying their mortgages and monthly bills. Given all the mysteries, failures and poor spending, as of recently, the Yankees accounted for one World Series in 10 years. This could be the season when the Yankees are on the verge of destruction, quickly nearing the demise like no other, one that can annihilate New York for many, many years to come.

Even if Jeter devoted too much time building a large multimillion-dollar home in Tampa last year when New York lost to Texas in the AL Championship series, he knows that the man is entitled to spend his money on whatever the hell he wishes to spend a bulk of his dollars on. It has suddenly turned into a reality show at Yankees spring training, as the man who paid Jeter millions called him out for working on his mansion project in Tampa. Now, as it stands, it's idiotic to blast a player that has brought incremental prestige to the Yankees, after winning multiple titles wearing pinstripes.

Someday eventually, when Steinbrenner finally sells the team or quits running his mouth like a broken tape recorder, we can only hope the Yankees aren't in bad condition. And to think it was supposed to be the year the Yankees win it all, a chance for Hank and his brother Hal to prove they can win a title without their father sitting upstairs in the suite, it's unlikely that this is the year to hoist the pennant. For now, at least, he continues to act simple-minded and carries himself like a buffoon, even more so after he was handed the task and inherited ownership of a traditional franchise.

He tries to act as if he's the Boss when he's just a drama queen of America's nosiest soap opera, grabbing attention for talking down on his players or the media. As if the calamity in New York isn't dreadful enough, he is the co-chairman and has trouble with handling money, relieved of the duties by his brother Hal. As expected, he devise the plans with team president Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman, while Hank talks way too much and complains about the revenue sharing. Already, the commissioner's office called the Yankees to silence Hank, whose outcries are old and childish in many ways.

While he tries to take back his words and said he wasn't ripping Jeter when he commented about mansions, livid by his underperformance a year ago in the postseason, it's fair to pick on Alex Rodriguez for constant partying and even worse dating damn near a new starlet each year. That issue is acute because a couple of years ago, he was busted for steroids and had been renamed A-Fraud, when Jeter's name has never been leaked for the use of any performance-enhancers.

So much for the Yankees winning another title. When you are considered the team to win it all, based on mystique and prior success, the expectations are always immense, perhaps the most precious thing about the Yankees. So what? Much appreciation is nothing, unless the Yankees prevail. Otherwise, the Yanks are faced with much derision for a hapless loss in a postseason series after wasting too much profit on underachievers.

As all eyes turns directly to New York, as always, although the immediate future doesn't seem too bright, they are battered by the ghastly, horrid disturbance because of Hank's loudmouth. The Yankees, alas, the much-scrutinized ballclub in the majors, are devoid of supposedly another championship unless Hank becomes a modest co-chairman and stay out of the local tabloids, more recognized as a clown in baseball. It's almost possible to feel sorry for the Yankees, on the brink of misfortune in a competitive AL East division, one of the best divisions if not the best in the game.

It shouldn't come as no surprise that the Yankees are finally set to encounter its challenge against the revitalized Red Sox and Orioles, a pair of teams that have dismissed the Yankees from postseason conversations. Now, somewhat, they are still contenders to win the American League Pennant, even if the competition is fierce and well-balanced. When it comes to baseball in the urban community on the East Coast, a state in love with its pinstripes and prestigious palace, the spoiled, rich and whiny children in traditional pinstripes, for once, can stumble early in the postseason. If so, maybe this will silence Hank.

It's amazing that the Yankees used to be one of the most arrogant sports franchises with a cathedral ballpark, but now they are easily mocked and belittled, accomplishing its fair share of championships and significances.

With him at the throne, he only tarnishes the pinstripes.

It is certainly an absolute disgrace, anytime the Yanks falter in October.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NFL Clouded in Hysteria, Insanity by Virtue of Dollars

Let's all hold hands and pray together on the discussion of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) and hope for the very best, a positive outcome. The NFL and its league is one of the richest enterprises in the expensive sports industry, a profitable profession in which team and players prosper by getting richer annually as owners attempt to lock out these great athletes.

All of this makes the average fan cringe, worried about the unknown status of football in the NFL, curious to know if the sport can be saved in time for the start of the regular-season. The corruption looms ever so quickly, if ever, the worst plight to create dreaded tumultuous, a modern era battered in poor economic times, a scary recession that bruise America's identity, tortures the everyday workers as unemployment rates continue to rise to an all-time high.

So here are labor negotiators in the middle of a tussle over money, the least expected worry for a professional athlete of the NFL or their owners pocketing huge bucks, when other parts of the world are fighting for their lives or the next meal. The first thing we need to know, as America citizens worshipping the lovable sport of football, one that our citizens adore each season for the fun it exposes, is that we'll have a lockout by next season all because of stupidity and greediness.

That alone, takes away from the emotions of football, but even more importantly, it slaughters the integrity with its rampant contract disputes whenever someone is disgruntled in a fuss immensely over money. It sounds like two women fighting over the same man in a jilted relationship, infatuated over the dude to a point where it provokes ugliest, a similar dilemma in the NFL today, easily ridiculed for the inability of two parties to negotiate.

Has it ever dawn upon NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, an intolerant and enforcer when he acted like the NFL Sheriff, that the richest league is now smeared in shambles, no longer a business with much regard or credibility? As of recently, the federal mediator overseeing the NFL's labor talks acknowledged Thursday that "some progress" has been made in the negotiations between the league and player's union.

Ready, for the bad news?

For the parties on both sides "very strong differences remain," which tell us the NFL and union are nowhere near a unanimous agreement, let alone successful deals for the future to protect not only the image, but also the health of players and satisfy the superstars with riches, apparently a bad concept to sadly harm its reputation. The pernicious altercation has abruptly gone viral, although many negotiators are in denial and seriously has the assumption that the two parties can strike a deal, maybe not before the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in three weeks, but maybe by September.

It could be argued, wrangling through the medium of troubles for which both sides have expressed urgency and the realm of responsibility to resolve a matter having much of an influence on the moribund federation, that the NFL can confront a work stoppage until next season arrives. If so, in terms of an imbroglio, there won't be a 16-game season, particularly when the NFL is fully in a flux each week for the complexity to shamefully pollute a league that gained monopoly among other sporting associations.

With awful priorities of this situation, including the unsympathetic creed of a player's health status or even reducing the risk of concussions, the NFL can't afford a lockout. A blind person or even a fool realizes that the state of the league is thrust in the worst circumstances, demolished by the lamest difficulty, probably worse than the 1987 stoppage. The distress of this ordeal is real simple, and as long as we could conceive that it's all about profit while the NFL couldn't care less about its fans, the better off we'll be as human beings putting our heart and souls on football, a remedy for dismissing the scary thoughts of reality sometimes.

Turns out, there are plenty of fools, idiots and morons in command within the player's union and the NFL, inclined to cost themselves huge profit and doubtlessly lose out on entire season, a yearly routine that hypnotized football addicts. The folks didn't mind spending largely on tickets or purchasing the NFL Sunday Ticket premium package on DirecTV, dropping unbelievable bucks to witness and follow their favorite teams. Which brings me to the question, will they care now?

Good question.

If you believe it, after all, a short lockout most likely will not hurt the NFL, simply because it's the most popular professional sport league in the nation. As it stands, it won't draw confrontation and will mercifully protect its reputation by the viewers and the advantages it collects in revenue.

Trust me, I know what the hell I'm talking about. My point is that the NFL should survive, no matter of the aftereffect in the upcoming weeks, no matter if the league endures a painful stoppage, particularly if it only proceeds into the early weeks of the regular-season.

The issue in football is that markets and sponsorships are endangered, jobs are at high risk of being lost, and least importantly, fans are out of luck, destitute of taking in an emotional high or cheering for the adorable team under this tough economy.

Imagine if there's no season, no playoffs, no Super Bowl? If this does happen, the sports world in my eyes and the eyes of professional football is dull, pretty much dead until the return of NFL is competent to reclaim attention. All the revenue flows perfectly in the NFL, but topples in nearly every other professional sport, evidence that we live in an unbalanced world.

When it comes to the unfolding fuss between two parties, as the union anticipates a lockout and remains un-confident with the CBA deal expiring after March 3, the nightmare is complex and mind-boggling. Mostly, from what it seems amazingly, the NFL and player's union is wasting energy and generating tension that happens to be very intense over innocuous affairs, like the argument pertaining to "total revenue." If the people in charge were smart, they'd try to fix the problem before it nauseates the most enthusiastic fans, upsets the fans and lower the chance of viewers, not by a large percentage but somewhat.

When the deal expires, which is only six weeks away, the owners are destined to chafe players during a hideous, revolting lockout, one that can last forever if no one talks this problematic issue over release the destruction it has caused. Meanwhile, this entire scenario, tearing down the omen and the fans faith of the NFL, is a sign of what to expect during the summer. There'll be no free agency, no minicamps and, probably, no football on Sundays, after players have dealt with a decade of ill-treatment from league and union, without any love in return.

What upsets me, and what should upset you as well, is that this disagreement is because of money. It comes as no surprise, not in the age of hard times, not in the age of wealthy owners, not in the age of greed and survival, and the players earn mega dollars.

Goodell said in an open letter addressing the fans earlier this month."Yes, NFL players deserve to be paid well. "Unfortunately, economic realities are forcing everyone to make tough choices, and the NFL is no different."

In this age, winning doesn't matter, not even getting to the playoffs instead the money is worth speaking about. The players, many of whom are wealthy enough to support their families and fortune to stand out as a top-notch star in the league, aren't exposing otherworldly talent like before but are desperately trying to demand more cash from a profitable league. This has pissed off owners greatly, and clearly, the bosses believe roughly 60 percent of revenue the players earn is undeserving, noting greater cost and economic downturns, nonetheless the owners offered it and paid the players from their own wallets.

If you believe every headline, such as the exaggerated fairy tales that sometimes produces a buzz, the league has attempted to adjust the profit paid out in salaries by 9-18 percent. In a sense, the union isn't buying into the financial troubles, requesting for the league to prove its financial obstacles.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones invested $1.1 billion in stadium creation and built Cowboys Stadium, but he's one of the advocates in which stadium expenses will be constituted into the next collective bargaining agreement. Not great for the NFL, as of which none of this is pretty.

While the league is fighting to avoid a potential stoppage, as the mania stem from the unhappy fans malcontent about the proposed 18-game season and claims the league is reluctant to compensate players for playing tow extra games, it's assured that the NFL is on the way to a lockout.

That's not soothing. That's terrifying. That's not pretty. That's ugly, very ugly. That's not glee. That's terror. They aren't lying to you, when they say money is the root of all evil.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Even If Knicks Gave Away Promising Talent, Carmelo Anthony Installs Prominence

For now, anyway, it's about survival for the New York Knicks, an urban community that can finally sigh relief with the Carmelo Anthony acquisition to significantly cease the perpetual drama in the Big Apple, to diminish the mystery of uncertainty amidst the melodrama and even to abate prolonged and strange rumors which had been fueled by the over-hyped business issues.

This isn't the same team that we saw at the beginning of the season, not after the Knicks wisely chose to upgrade its roster, not after the Knickerbockers pulled off a massive deal, probably one of the most blockbuster deals in franchise history, for an opportunity, a chance to contend in the Eastern Conference.

All of a sudden, as the NBA advances near the midway point, the Knicks resurrected, and for once, aren't a mortal franchise deprived of talent or a shot to rise to preeminence or even into top-notch contention, maybe not this season, but a couple of seasons from now, if the Knicks manufacture talented role players to supplement in the company of a legit superstar tandem.

It's as if a party visited Broadway for a celebration to welcome the Knicks newest addition, and as it all ended so sweetly for New York; owner James Dolan finally relaxed after he won the Anthony sweepstakes over the Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and his cryptic Nets. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers poured onto the streets, perhaps to crowd the busiest location in the urban town, thrilled over the business deal that sent Anthony to the Knicks, tempted to dispatch a horrid era of woes and heartaches when traditionally the franchise was once well-known in the NBA.

It was all done by Dolan, one of the richest owners in the league, when he moved late Monday night to put a halt to the drama that lingered forever it seemed. That's how the Knicks were brilliant buyers and also granted Anthony his wish to play in New York, a place that will uplift his professional status. It's the opposite of Denver, a place he called home, but he truly had the enthusiasm to join the Knicks and had regularly begged to migrate to the East Coast.

Thing is, if he had never pulled the trigger and traded for 'Melo, Dolan would have clearly been lambasted for turning down a proposed deal from the Denver Nuggets in hopes to obtain Anthony. Point is, if he had never aggressively invited in offers for the availability of the targeted star on the market, Dolan would have obviously been labeled a moron for not constructing a deal to lure Anthony to Broadway, where he'll be a primary asset for a revitalized basketball team that obliges fans.

There's no doubt that the Knicks needed Anthony, just as much as he really wanted to wear a Knicks uniform, that fans implored for him and he wanted to form a sturdy nucleus with Stoudemire. All along, the Knicks were one player away from climbing into contention, and with Anthony, a clutch superstar and one of the centerpieces to the recreation of a championship-caliber team, New York has reclaimed relevancy and ended abysmal disasters.

The reality is that the mediocrity has faded away, as the Knicks are at long last, relevant by the creation of strong talent to frighten its opponents if they dominate at will. What could be a way to bolster the likelihood of a championship, is clearly the main attraction on Broadway, particularly if he delivers the prize to New York. The fear of gambling a promising lineup wasn't a problem for Dolan, a brave chairman who decided to trade his stars in the future in exchange for Anthony, the Brooklyn-born All-Star forward and former Syracuse star.

When he chose to send his promising stars elsewhere, mostly anxious to win a title sooner than later, the Knicks theoretically vaulted to the top of a premier franchise. For months, as we know already, Anthony had aimed to be a resident of the Knicks, and indeed, his dream came true after all. Growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, he was optimistic that he'd suddenly land with the Knicks as they plan to retool in what has been a rebuilding mode.

It's apparent that the Knicks ambitious plan to likely bring in either Chris Paul or Deron Williams next season is the next priority, when Dolan was dauntless to do away with point guard Raymond Felton, 26, although he averaged 17 points and 9.0 assists. That is, of course, only a bit of the nucleus lost. The price for Anthony was steep, but the Knicks are winners after all and benefited in the end.

This forced Dolan to make drastic maneuvers in which he traded his two talented forwards. He shipped off Danilo Gallinari, a sharpshooter who had posted nearly 16 points a game, and he sent away Wilson Chandler in that deal also, a shooter who was having a breakthrough season. Throw in his rookie center Timofey Mozgov, who was sent to the Nuggets.

So mostly, the Knicks mortgaged the team's future to take a gamble on 'Melo, daring enough to threw in his club's 2014 first-round pick, two second-round picks it possessed next year and in 2013 from the Warriors, $3 million in cash. Alas, he could have sadly ruined his relationship with veteran general manager Donnie Walsh, a mastermind who may opt to leave after he had disapproved of selling much of its current roster.

Was Dolan listening to Isiah Thomas, the juvenile manipulator and instigator? Maybe he took advice from a former NBA personality with no coaching personality whatsoever. Maybe he's close to rehiring Thomas, coach of Florida International University, a mediocre basketball program with no driven mindset or spirit.

If he does rehire Thomas, we can imagine the dispirited souls of basketball fans in Time Square and the local tabloids ridiculing the outrageous decisions. Meanwhile, the Knicks received Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter. In a three-way deal, obviously, the Knicks traded Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to the Minnesota T-Wolves and will reportedly send Corey Brewer in return.

The awful thought of it is the Knicks gave up all of this for Anthony, and in all honesty, the Nuggets amazingly earned more in return, although the Knicks win the 'Melo sweepstakes. So this deal won't be a waste by the offseason, Anthony is expected to be given a three-year, $65 million extension. The addition of Billups is useful for the fact that he provides veteran leadership, but at the age 34, he is well past his prime.

The folks on Seventh Avenue will still celebrate for, surprisingly, the stud Landry Fields, an impressive rookie, who wasn't part of such a colossal package. Although he's the star player everybody in New York longed for, Walsh had not expressed interest in Anthony and didn't envision him in the future plans.

Whatever anybody believes, the Knicks improves greatly, without question.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Your Top Prospect Is Cam Newton, Despite Cynical Beliefs

The entire world by now knows exactly of Cam Newton, which can happen to be helpful towards his draft status two months from now. The first thing that comes to mind, as the nation suddenly confides in the gifted prospect of the 2011 NFL Draft ready to ascend to new heights on the pro level, is that scouts and executives are judgmental of a player's ills and poor choices in the past.

After all the corruption, all the fears, all the secrets and all the utter troubles that almost truly smeared the Auburn Tigers marvelous season with his illicit issues and hypocrisy to epitomize how badly the NCAA system is tarnished, he wasn't expected to be a common name mentioned to be selected in the first round.

He's now a humble-minded draftee and, as a result, is equipped to play and blend in well at the quarterback position by next fall, even more so prepared to contribute with a franchise in serious need. This would be considered an opportunity, a fortunate chance, a lustrous chance for Newton to soar in the NFL as an extolled superstar.

There he is, as expected, absorbing the attention longer than usual, almost coincidentally so, with the annual scouting combine beginning next week, the laborious preparations that challenges the odds of logic and physically, a typical theme to bring out the durability and audacity in the top prospects.

Inclined to make the transition from college to the pros, thirsting to excel at greater stakes for lots of fame and profit in playing the game they deeply relish, Newton declared for the 2011 NFL Draft.

As if this was a way to escape the inescapable of accusations of an alleged scandal that his father, Cecil, auctioned his son when he played for Auburn, Newton is a surefire first-rounder and rated as the highest of any other quarterback in the draft.

Whatever team selects Newton in the first-round, most definitely, he's anticipated by many that he is NFL-ready and can carry a substandard team to the next level, knowingly with the versatility, speed and awareness he implements in the game. Back on campus at Auburn, where he was relentless and turned around the program's psyche because of his leadership, he was a mellowed leader and handled the adversity calmly.

Had he chosen to stay in school, it would have been a great lost for the limited quarterback class when Andrew Luck opted to return to Stanford for his senior season after turning down millions. He took much abuse at Auburn, during a remarkable season that was absolutely the moment when he boosted his draft stock, for his father's poor judgment but wasn't held accountable or inflicted with a punishment.

As in any scandal, the NCAA probed the incident and easily ruled Newton eligible for the BCS National Championship Game, an awesome night for which he improved his status and became newsworthy for the NFL, only if the league doesn't encounter a repulsive lockout as the two parties would have to reach an unanimous deal on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement by early March.

At first glance, Newton is one quarterback with many weapons capable of rising and then impressing people as a rookie, a probable rarity like no other after drawing attention from delirious fans in the deep South. Because it's Newton, a competitor in college football last season who earned his notability by awful publicity, he is very well favored to be a rookie standout, raw and crafty to solidify whatever franchise picks him for their quarterback.

Whether he's proven or unproven down the road, more experienced and skilled to perform on the same turf with professionals and longtime veterans, he'll still be strongly projected to be a top-tier star in the league. But for now, in particular, if he desires to go off the boards high, he'll dictate when he lands by how brilliantly and effectively he competes in work outs and interviews for teams next week before the day he is drafted, even after he's still hunted by the stupidity and deceptiveness that happened involving his father when he ostensibly had no idea of his father's sins as a way to fool the unsound system.

By all accounts, plenty of players before his arrival to college were accused of infractions in regards to the disingenuousness and hysteria in college sports, from the sordid agents to improper benefits to overly workouts. So now, in clarity, he faces a slew of insignificant questions come next week, attempting to address painful subjects, which could disrupt his ability to perform in front of thousands of scouts or even focus for the tricky and rather difficult Wonderlic exam.

To think we debate, with clarity, on whether or not Newton will find success in the NFL, on whether or not he'll shift the dynamics, and on whether or not he can have an immediate impact in his first season, we can only find out when the combine ends, an event he plans to fully partake in. He said he wants "to be transparent" during the entire draft process. As of now, he is no longer an Auburn product, but the smoke from his father's pay-for-play scheme still follows him into the NFL, adding to the fire and could also lower his stock, even when he has an advantage simply for being one of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft, if not the best.

He won the Heisman award and fled Auburn when he declared for the draft, using his noggin to no longer face the scrutiny and trauma from the universities, he rewarded himself freedom and peace, glad to feel a sense of humanity, proud to reach a climax by turning pro and wishes to release the agony after revelations came forth that Newton clearly tried to receive $180,000 he solicited from Mississippi State.

What matters the most now, if he blows away scouts on the money-making days, if he does well in the drills and workouts to prove worthy of a first-round selection, is that he climbs beyond his potential and earns a righteous starting job in the NFL, regardless of his father's dreadful incident. This could be entirely a new turning point for Newton, though his crooked father almost ruined his son's chances to go off the boards in the first round.

That's appealing, particularly when executives and scouts from the NFL won't glance at Newton until late in the NFL Combine at Indianapolis, only because he's a junior. Meanwhile, he is incredibly quick and has stamina to stay balanced, blessed with the capacity and knack to last in the league for a very long time and has played brilliantly to deliver downfield passes or even race to the end zone.

He was, of course, the face of Auburn after leading the Tigers to the national scene, in which they prevailed to win the national title. Surely, he is a considerable size for a number of teams that have shown interest in Newton, knowingly realizing he achieved an education, eager to venture off towards the highest level in the game he truly cherish.

He is a talented prospect, no matter what the critics think of his father's scam or no matter if he vastly violated the rules for the accusations, with beautiful footwork and a rifle-armed as one of the greatest pocket passers discovered this era, the art of craftiness and natural abilities. Rest assured, he's not a resemblance of JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf, which tells us he's not the next bust and we shouldn't believe so, not really when he rallies his team in huddles and always battle with toughness, urgency and energy, all the components of a team leader.

The next time he plays, in September as usual, he won't have to hear the criticism when the accusations won't matter to the pros, starting off with a spotless imagine and his father won't have to plot a foolish deal in order to qualify for a paycheck that remains prohibited in NCAA rules. But nobody had ever grasped the assumption that he only attended college for one reason, and one reason only. He attended school to turn pro someday and, in truth, it has suddenly happened after all the dismay at the end of his college career.

There is an NCAA investigation still pending, while teams have second thoughts scared to take a gamble on such a fabulous player, uneasy about investing millions with the possible ramifications in the making if awful evidence leak out from the investigation.

Remember, he was accused of stealing a laptop when he went to the University of Florida. And remember, he had an incident when he allegedly turned in a paper with another student's name on it. But in the end, we all make stupid mistakes, a boneheaded decision that we absolutely regret later in the years. As a kid, we all screwed up. So did Newton.

The honest truth is that the general public believes in Cam, which leads me to believe. "YES WE CAM!!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Carmelo Anthony Rumors Spoils NBA All-Star Party

LOS ANGELES—Not often that a party for the NBA shines in downtown Los Angeles for an entire weekend, unless of course the Lakers are celebrate a championship with another glorified victory parade. Other than that, there's rarely a moment when the devoted big city host a party so exciting like this one.

Los Angeles is at a cultural standpoint for embracing the sport if nothing else; Staples Center has been the origin to host the NBA All-Star festivities in a city of mural arts in which many tourists flock to visit famous landmarks in Hollywood.

The NBA All-Star game has stolen the landscape this weekend, well to some extent, but nonetheless not as much as anticipated. If no one realizes what has been taken place of late, weary of hearing the insanity with the Carmelo Anthony rumors swirling around the league faster than a buzzer-beater dropping through the net, the buzz has reached a point of silliness as the NBA season has advanced near the midway point and it seems the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets are undecided to exercise in proposed deals.

It's a no-brainer to grasp that such a glamorous event, almost coincidentally, is veiling amidst the facades of the melodrama and endless rumors of the Melo trade talks. Even more so, it's also a notion that the Knicks are leaning towards the realm of his availability, earnest to acquire Anthony and truly are ready to break away from the mediocrity and revamp the promising franchise around Amar'e Stoudemire.

So now, waiting calmly to see where he lands before the trade deadline comes to a close, we are brainwashed by the chatter. It's said that he'll join the Knicks, once a mortal franchise, by the end of this weekend. With any luck on a new team, it would be no surprise to see Anthony in a Knicks uniform, affiliated with a wealthy organization surrounded by gifted stars. It's obvious, for sure, now justified as prime contenders in the league, that the Knicks are aiming for Anthony to form a fearsome tandem, one of the best in the Eastern Conference.

When it comes to drama of potential transitions in the NBA, it features Anthony and the Nets, even if the Knicks always have been a perfect suitor for the coveted forward. The fuss has drawn much controversy lately, and now, he is clearly the one player discussed in the news. All along, he has desired to play for the Knicks, but from the scheme of things, it seems as if he's on his way to the New Jersey Nets when the Denver Nuggets reached a tentative agreement on Friday to send Anthony to the Nets.

Evidently, as he has the leverage in this delirium, he'd be pressured to agree to sign a $65 million contract extension with the Nets. Over the weekend, hopefully a sense of relief to tone down the volume a bit, he is expected to meet with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov here in Los Angeles during the All-Star weekend. Keep in mind, there's another team anxious to bring aboard Carmelo. And once before, if you can recall, he has shown much passion in joining the Knicks, no longer a receded franchise owned by the billionaire Dolan, optimistic he could rejuvenate life inside the Madison Square Garden.

The most respected venue in the world craves for thrills and infinite zeal from potentially the Knicks talented stars, but much of the talent must be dealt in exchange for the top superstar on the market possibly. The fact of the matter is that, particularly at the point when the Knicks have excelled with the likes of Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and even Landry Fields, the team fears losing out on tremendous star power for one player and has been unsuccessful in constructing a deal.

With such magical endowment, the Knicks aren't sabotaged finally and their personality illustrates they are in contention in which a well-known celebrity by the name of Spike Lee owns courtside seats, elated for the resurrection of his favorite ball team in the NBA. Besides a trade in the next 24 hours, if it ever does happen, it's hard to believe anything. Rumor has it, this is nothing but a draining rumor, exhaustion that has lasted eternally to peeve our minds, having us wonder what team he'll eventually call home for the rest of the season.

This is a topic that everyone has blabbered about, guessing repeatedly on where he'll wind up, again if he is ever placed on the market. The Nets are clearly in the Melo sweepstakes and appear to be the frontrunners, desperately wanted in New Jersey, not only to transform the identity but to improve the Nets and inflate ticket sells with the attraction of a superstar capable of epically putting on a display. The behind-the-scene business is hazy for this All-Star weekend, and all of us are sick and tired of hearing the rumors, the nonsense and the absurdity.

As a writer, it's difficult for any reporter to turn down useful specifics, but believing all things has caused a national disturbance in the NBA, and Anthony owns the limelight this weekend. Pretty soon, if the Knicks or Nets are quick in putting together a reasonable deal for Anthony, the obnoxious storyline will fade out of the equation by Feb. 24. The theory is, every team interested is unsure about the potential acquisition, but the Knicks essentially begs for Anthony in the middle of negotiations allegedly.

This is a city still mourning the sadness of losing on LeBron James last summer when he became a free agent and bailed on Cleveland to take his talents to South Beach. This is a city that has witnessed a gloomy era, worthless of woeful troubles and had been painfully disrespected for years, but so were the Nets after returning from a disillusioned season a year ago, suddenly rebuilt with a phenomenal nucleus. It's even better that he can play with Brook Lopez, the seven-footer on the Nets roster and work as a cohesive group under first-year head coach Avery Johnson.

The framework of a blockbuster package for Anthony is close to getting done, a deal that sends him, Chauncey Billups, Melvin Ely, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams to the Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh and four first-round draft picks, according to sources. For whatever reason, the Eastern Conference GM believes honestly the Nuggets might as well hold on to Anthony instead of accepting a below-value offer.

"I don't understand why Denver would take any offer from Knicks relative to just keeping him," the GM said. "The Nets deal at least gives them something. I think it's the Nets deal, or Denver keeps him."

What he'll bring to either team, quite simply, is symbolic goodness in a league that prefers a competitive nature of the sphere of pro basketball. Whether he was vilified after he had been too wishy-washy on his trade status, but now willing to leave the Nuggets. Whether it was his constant suggestions on where he'll like to finish out his career or play in the near future, he'll be welcomed immediately and be an asset of the inner city.

There is a certain belief, on the verge of another flashy generation for a league built on star power and the imagery of superstars, that Knicks president Donnie Walsh badly would like to trade for Anthony. That's how much experience he has in the league, rightfully so, in which he could coax Anthony to join the next generation in New York. Better yet, which perhaps has defined his legacy as a team executive, for years of course, he's been creative in pulling the trigger and owns a gratifying resume of maintenance and conservation, but deprived of an NBA championship. Maybe, probably, Carmelo is his guy.

Please let him be someone's guy.

Just so we can move on, trade for him already.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Frank McCourt Must Save Dodgers From Itself By Selling Franchise

The great concern this season, beyond a possible collapse or financial crisis threatening the welfare of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is whether or not Don Mattingly, the legendary first baseman for the New York Yankees years ago, can save the flawed ballclub from itself.

At the moment, the state of the Dodgers, is mired in disarray and muddled by the McCourt battle, wretched divorce proceedings which have spelled trouble for the team financially and spiritually. Before he earns his respectful status to be a Major League manager for one of the most prominent franchises in baseball, owner Frank McCourt should deliberate and sell the franchise.

Until he does, he should do the hapless fans a favor and unselfishly sell the franchise to avoid the grief and public embarrassment, so that the Dodgers will be in a better state of mind. Otherwise, he will cripple the franchise by retaining ownership while battling with his ex-wife Jamie McCourt in court, which would only haze Mattingly's first season at the managerial position.

This would be perfect timing for McCourt to place his team on the market and relinquish the heavy burdens that the Dodgers sadly endured, toppling over a personal issue between Frank and his better half.

It's bad enough that the Dodgers are in this murky situation, as a slew of catastrophic fluctuations seem to suggest the club is bearing the scariest predicament. It's hard to envision a nightmare turning worse, though it remains unknown if he has the money to run the first-class organization, and unclear if he has a bulky savage in his piggy bank these days after he paid out millions for a divorce.

And as his personal life publicly crumbles, Mattingly face his toughest challenge in his first job as manager. It wasn't long ago when Dodger Stadium amassed a sellout crowd, not only for the Dodger Dogs, beer or the all-you-can-eat pavilion, but to see the rapid emergence of a young club. It wasn't long ago when people walked the streets and noticed billboards that advertised the Dodgers, a promotion in an ideal location surrounded by the entertainment lifestyle. But then the personal issues involving the ownership suffocated the growth of a team with awesome promise.

When a nasty divorce reduces the possibility of upgrading talent to clinch a berth for the World Series in the fall, the odds that a ballclub falters and struggles is likely. In Chavez Ravine, on a hill overlooking the beautiful landscape of downtown Los Angeles, Mattingly steps into a difficult assignment.

There's no telling what this season bears, as the dismal fortune could lead to another paltry season if McCourt's payroll shrinks mightily. The only cure to end the laughable drama is if McCourt sells the franchise. However, it seems he's unwilling to compromise and relieve himself of his overwhelmed duties.

"I'm very, very confident, at the end of the process, I'm going to own the baseball team and someday my four kids are," Frank McCourt told reporters, according to

We'll see!

The real problem here is that the state of the Dodgers is obscure, as troubles fluctuate their identity at spring training. By the way, just so we are aware of the turmoil, McCourt has confronted distraction and criticism recently by dissapating a fortune of his profit and slashing the club's payroll. It's not clear if the Dodgers could relapse this season with all the hysteria, and it's still uncertain if Mattingly's inexperience will tear down Los Angeles.

"The fans care about one thing, and that is the team winning," McCourt said. "That's really what they want to talk about. They want to talk about the players—our pitching, who's going to bat cleanup, and so on and so forth. That's really what they care about—the team, and winning a championship."

True, but nobody can win a championship with financial troubles. Nobody.

The reaction of Mattingly, even after he hit .307 lifetime with 222 home runs, earned six All-Star appearances, won nine Gold Gloves, won a batting title in 1984, and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award, is that the average person in the Los Angeles basin is skeptical of the longtime Yankees great. The Dodgers' well-known broadcaster, Vin Scully, may speak nicely of Mattingly, but as a player, he behaved privately and distanced himself from teammates, all because of his upbringing and competitive nature.

He has zest for the game, and during his brief stint, developed ties with the Dodgers, blending in beautifully and likely to excel in the managerial department. But managing a disordered club at a hellish moment of abhorrence, he seems hardly ready for the hardest challenge of his baseball career: directing a clubhouse with overexposed dismay.

However, it's inevitable to considerably dodge the craziness while in the desert for spring training.

Who knows what the Dodgers are in for this season??

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cardinals Would Be Fools to Allow Albert Pujols To Test the Market

The time is ultimately dwindling for the St. Louis Cardinals, a ball club overwhelmed by a ruckus as the calendar almost approaches spring, battered by contract negotiations with the most dangerous slugger in baseball.

This would clearly be a devastating and crestfallen loss, the worst faux pas in franchise history if the Cardinals fail to eventually finalize a deal with Albert Pujols, arguably the cleanest hitter in baseball if not the best hitter in baseball. Never to this day has he tested positive for the usage of banned substances, never to this day has he disappointed a cult of Redbird fans that deems that he's the main attraction for baseball.

For all we know, he could be the valuable star in St. Louis, a city where the Gateway Arch overlooks the community and Busch Stadium, where the Mississippi River flows through and where Prince Albert has defined a storied career. Even if he holds the leverage with his swings at nearly every at-bat this season, the Cardinals could be smart and liberal to negotiate a contract extension with Pujols.

If the Cardinals are interested in retaining their slugger, it's momentous that the ball club satisfies and offers Pujols a contract extension, one of the richest deals in baseball. It does, in retrospect, seem preposterous to hear one player request for $300 million—an unprecedented attribute in baseball and it has become, for what it seems at least, a player's birthright to seek an outrageous price.

This, however, doesn't illuminate that he's a mercenary, but a useful fixture if he opts to test the market next winter and be the next biggest free agent after this season. No matter how much money he desires as one of the elite hitters in baseball, a potential Triple Crown winner in the future, his employers willingly acknowledge that Pujols is the best player in the game. It's utterly fascinating that the Cardinals somehow aren't financially stabled to pay him, an excuse the organization adopts, ashamed to admit how cheap they are in paying a franchise player.

During his tenure, he has served the Cardinals well, stood as an idol in postseason conquests and has promoted the sport, given his presence to captivate fans with his unbelievable swings at the bat. Even when the Cardinals refuse to reach a mutual agreement with Pujols, he is expected to arrive at St. Louis' spring headquarters in Jupiter, Florida on Wednesday. With an unusual event for the Cardinals, now on the possible brink of a drastic implosion, it has increasingly built a disturbance and has presented very little details.

The story here is very vague, a chaotic rhetoric that taunts the Cardinals in spring training, and sadly blinds the more important news. Much of St Louis' vernacular focuses on, not the Cards progress en route to a 162-game regular season, not their odds in winning a divisional title, but turns its attention towards Pujols. The latest offer he turned down paints a hapless picture for the Cardinals—really after reports surfaced that he'll not entertain another contract offer before his self-imposed deadline, which means St. Louis won't retain Pujols unless they are aggressive and proactive to settle a palatable deal.

A tale that begins with a debate when Pujols is seeking a 10-year deal, it's very absurd for a middle-aged slugger close to the after years of his remarkable career to be granted a promising wish. While he asks for a berserk contract when he is almost passed his prime and closer to his exit, the Cardinals aren't fools after all, unwilling to desperately hold on to Pujols.

Why?? What is there to lose?

No player at the age of 31 in baseball has attained as much as Pujols. So clearly, he's already received accolades from his worshippers, treasured for crushing homers into the stands, a cure for a sport in tatters by the heinous Steroid Era that has fizzled out slowly, partly with his ability to look at every fastball and belt a home run naturally. In reality, he deserves all the credit in the world as the epicenter to rid the drug crisis.

Generally speaking, for all we know, he's probably one of the purest sluggers in baseball with the art of naturally hitting the ball the distance, gifted by natural powers. It's always nice, although we'll never know if he used any banned substances to help his performance level, when supporters can embrace Pujols and wish for a positive outcome in his successful career, a superlative decade spent with the Cardinals.

I like to believe that he's clean. I like to believe that he's never injected or swallowed any performance enhancers. I like to believe he's a spotless luminary with exceptional kindness, principles and grace. In fairness of his phenomenal achievements, by the time this is over, Pujols may demand $30 million or more a year, a longer term, an opt-out clause in his final season and, above all, plenty of cash to definitely shrink half of the Cardinals payroll.

For now, however, the devoted fans cannot breathe, fearful and uneasy because he might leave if the Cardinals refuse to pledge in providing so much money to Pujols. Because he's approaching the final point of his career and some day will reminisce about the era he once ruled in baseball when he won three Most Valuable Player and two Gold Glove awards, all in one decade with one team, the Cardinals fear to appease Pujols worried about future plans.

Beneath the madness, the Cardinals aren't stupid enough to allow the slugger to test the market, right? Most of all, hopefully, the Cardinals aren't so indifferent or oblivious, right? We'll like to think so, at least I would like to think otherwise of an organization that has depended on Pujols' power bat. His swings alone have bailed out St. Louis in previous seasons, whenever the lineup slumped to produce RBI or score a number of runs for a commanding lead.

So the Cardinals must be willing to salvage the first baseman and cannot allow him to take off for another franchise that offers him the riches he is seeking of late, a wealthy contract that will automatically make him the richest player in the game today. If he does test the market next winter, given that both sides in the Pujols negotiations have chosen to react foolishly and persist in the public drama, you can only imagine the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs or even the Mets bidding in the Pujols sweepstakes, meeting with him at the negotiation table to convince him of building a foundation elsewhere.

The clock is ticking and still no deal has been finalized. Meanwhile, with only a day left before he reports to spring training, the uncertainty is so horrifying that he'll likely be thrust on the open market, available to solidify someone's lineup in the majors. If there's one person tired of hearing about Pujols and the contract dispute, it's Cardinals manager Tony La Russa irritated with the anonymity of the contract insanity.

As of Sunday, he admitted that the situation possibly is a "spectacular distraction." But only a fool loses Pujols, a powerful slugger in this generation—an age when many players have disappointed and betrayed us. If the Cardinals handle it poorly, they can wave goodbye to Pujols. This is outlandish in many ways and unfair since the club pampered one of his teammates.

It was only two years ago when the Cardinals gave Matt Holliday $120 million for seven years, or even a year ago when they allowed Mark McGwire to return as the club's hitting coach after his staggering confession and admission for using steroids. In one twisted incident, La Russa was arrested near the Cardinals' spring facility in Florida in 2007 and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, but after all, his job was salvaged by the front office.

And now, the Cards refuse to give Pujols what he wants. A long time ago, owner Bill DeWitt Jr. lost me when he couldn't find a solution to donate more than $200 million of his payroll to Pujols. If he leaves, the Cardinals may drop drastically and become below average.

That would be unbelievably agonizing for the fans, the community and the organization, operated by general manager John Mozeliak. The maddening tumult must come to an end, but the only way it will cease is when Mozeliak overcomes his weariness and proactively settles a deal.

The Cardinals lost me.

Give him what he wants. It's time this deal gets done as the clock ticks hastily.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lakers Still Govern the Throne With Decisive Victory Over Celtics

If you thought they weren't too villainous for the average franchise in the NBA, an unmatched team denied of defending their pride and reign and basically vulnerable to their imminent demise, well, the Lakers awakened to withdraw from the fiascoes.

The timeless calamity almost terrified the faithful in Hollywood, many of whom were scared for the Lakers, an elusive franchise in the NBA with a lackadaisical and inert mentality that has terrified a diverse community, in a territory where basketball is lauded and a large part of conventional aspects. And so after a lengthy week that contained rumors of trade talks, endless fuss heard all week, the Lakers sent a statement at perfect timing and affirmed to be championship-caliber.

It's fairly clear the Lakers still dominate the throne, shortly after rallying past their archenemies in a hostile territory, salvaging a substantial victory over one of the finest opponents in the league and lastly climbing over the Celtics ideal-like with a 92-86 win in a rematch Thursday night. Only the Lakers can endure plenty of scrutiny, engulfed in a midseason crisis that remains a mystery until the trade deadline comes to an end.

After all, with all the drama that has created a ruckus nowadays, it was inevitable to avoid the ongoing criticism with the Lakers. Before we ridicule the professional team in Los Angeles, which is pampered for stockpiling championship banners over the years with incredible history to polish in the league, the Lakers finally validated a title drive and rectified the struggles to some degree. The debate boils in regards of potential trades for Andrew Bynum in exchange for Carmelo Anthony, a boneheaded deal that would mean suicide for the Lakers and could even add to the hysteria, shakiness and disaster, even if the pursuit seems like a brilliant idea for a three-peat.

There were the Lakers, who arrived in town to rejuvenate a rivalry among two of the most hated franchises in professional basketball. There were the Celtics, who were at home, ready to encounter a dynamic event and anxiously tried to sweep the Lakers this time at home. There weren't any skirmishes or verbal confrontations, or even any in-your-face trash talk or uncontrollable brawls, but only friendliness in what has been defined as one of the most loathed rivalries.

It was no Hollywood drama with the way the night turned out, with probably a victory that resolved tension, healed painful lapses in recent weeks and soothed the souls and minds of thousands. Finally, in the sweetest date against their archrival to reduce nightmares from clouding an entire season, the Lakers capitalized, played with fortitude, determination and alertness. Relatively speaking, the Lakers are fueled, mentally and physically prepared to rise to the occasion in a remarkable attempt that allows Los Angeles to hoist another shiny prize.

It was, no doubt, one of the most respectable finishes to uplift the team's psyche and taper grisly situations that almost doomed the Lakers this season, almost ruined a promising title pursuit and almost destroyed self-assurance. There are, after all, a majority who believe the Lakers are vulnerable and not intimidating. For much of the season, though, the Lakers have played soft and uninspiring, and couldn't care less about the magnitude of a possible three-peat to add to a large collection of titles in franchise history.

Truth is, if the Lakers can bully the Celtics, similar to a hefty high school senior teasing a freshman and outweigh the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs then they'll probably qualify for another NBA Finals appearance and earn their third championship in three years.

"We executed our game plan, we definitely did," Shannon Brown said. "You couldn't ask for more. We definitely played like a team. We played together and that's the only way we're going to win. Playing together as a team, offense and on defense, moving the ball, being collective on defense, being one, that's the way we're going to get it done."

This game, however, requires a total team effort. And it seems on this particular night, the Lakers had unity, cohesiveness and unselfishness. Then, of course, they had excellent ball movement to spread the floor and create opportunities for each other. All of a sudden, the Lakers were playing efficiently with the assistance of a unified defense.

For once, at last, it was a different team that had revived from the madness and lack of success of late. It wasn't long ago, just as the frustration and humiliation increasingly outraged the ownership, players and coaches that darkened the spirit of the defending champs, when Magic Johnson publicly lobbied for the Lakers to make a culture transition to improve the team by bringing aboard younger talent.

"It's a good game," Johnson tweeted in the second half, "but if the @Lakers are going to win Kobe has to take over."

Really? The Black Mamba has to take over? Are you sure?

This all makes perfect sense, perhaps rightfully so, given that Kobe Bryant is the fiercest shooter on earth, an unstoppable assassin on the count with all types of strategies when he has possession of the ball. His talent is unprecedented, but he does play in games where he's quiet and doesn't pose a threat. Then again, if he really desires to take over in critical moments, already verified as the greatest finisher, he can easily bury an array of shots. But apart from the popular show in Hollywood, which would be the Kobe Show, airing on the day of a Lakers event, he wasn't much of a factor in the first half. By halftime, he merely had three points on 1-of-3 shooting and the Lakers, of course, trailed by eight.

"[In the first half] they surrounded me, so I hit the open man," Bryant said. "I wanted to be more aggressive in the first half, but I didn't want to force it too much. I wanted to keep my guys in their game a little bit. Start of the second half I just forced it. The game wasn't coming to me so I took it."

Incredibly, in the first quarter, thousands of Celtics faithful at the TD Garden were fueled and madly erupted when Celtics guard Ray Allen shattered Reggie Miller's all-time three-point record with his 2,561st three. The story here, in the meantime, is that Bryant attempted only three shots in the first half, clearly to minimize the criticism and be an unselfish hero. The glaring notion of his approach is to be a facilitator and ensure that his teammates are involved, unselfishly creating easy shots for his teammates and being a floor general, not a shooter regularly.

This was a signature win the Lakers truly needed, to erase the horrid letdowns this season. Before this game, in the five previous games, the Lakers were 0-5 and had been badly outscored by an average of 11 points against the league's top four teams. By his body language and facial expressions, Bryant is aging in the late point of his prime, becoming exhausted faster as his body is unable to handle the energy or endure the stress, but he has still survived.

When it ended so nicely, Bryant scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and shot an effective 9-of-17 for the game. In fairness, he was reinforced by the seven-footers early on, with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol scoring a dozen of points combined. He's not Paula Gasoft, but he's Pau Gasol again, finally. The wildest takeover in basketball happens on one team and naturally, and eventually it came to life on Thursday when Bryant granted Johnson his wish.

He calmly sat on the bench for the first seven minutes of the fourth, he watched the second unit build a nine-point lead, then he later walked to the score table to return with 5:04 left. It looks like he's not so old after all, slaughtering Boston with a 6-0 run in less than two minutes remaining that added to the finishing touches. To this day, he's basketball's best shooter, clearly. He's a wild animal when it comes to shooting and had the same type of intensity late in the fourth, nailing his turnaround jumper and driving to the rim on his spectacular layup.

Here were the Lakers making another statement. This reminded us that the Lakers are still elite, with a reputation for winning games but also fooling us like a perplexing riddle.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Aaron Rodgers Writes New Chapter In Packers History

For a moment there, it felt as if the Pittsburgh Steelers were in position to manufacture another breathtaking comeback for the ages on one of the most momentous national holidays in sports, a moment we crave the sentimental portraits, the wildest finishes and clutch moments.

In the sense that America evidently worships football more than any other professional sport, when the Super Bowl every year normally accumulates enormous television ratings as families and friends gather collectively to watch the Super Bowl and gorge on chips and dip, the Green Bay Packers can rightfully so be called America's Team.

This national perception now is that we are supposed to put forth our praise for traditionally a franchise known for triumphant victories in the past.

That's because the Packers were incredibly the most disciplined, famous and admirable franchise coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, back in the age when Green Bay was the symbol of professional football, particularly with a win in the first ever Super Bowl.

Rather amazingly, it wasn't the greatest of performances when Christina Aguilera blundered a line as she shouted out the national anthem at the beginning in front of a sellout crowd at Cowboys Stadium or when the Black Eyed Peas hijacked the night during halftime for a 12-minute music spectacle that sounded awful.

This certainly wasn't the case for the Packers, far more superior against the Steelers on a night with implications, during an event that Green Bay had national spotlight for the first time in 14 seasons. The confetti poured onto the field, the homogenous scoreboard inside above the world's largest palace indicated that the Packers were the champs and won their first title in 14 years in the aftermath of a 31-25 win over the Steelers in a dramatic fashion in Super Bowl XLV.

By then, when the Packers celebrated and danced after accomplishing the improbable, veteran wide receiver Donald Driver broke down into tears, helpless with an injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the game.

By then, the adversity was erased from their minds and happiness was installed for the Packers -- doubted for much of the season, including the postseason.

By then, cornerback Charles Woodson, unable to move his collarbone, was teary eyed over on the sideline and watched his teammates come together as a cohesive squad to astonishingly beat the experienced Steelers.

Then, unexpectedly, it happened where Green Bay proved to be the elites in the league this season with unforeseen star power and clearly a bevy of talent.

It was, however, customary that the Packers fought off adversity and endured the complications of injuries in some way throughout the regular season, handling the obstacles with unflappability and poise, while feeding from the non-believers' negativity to surprise the entire world by hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

The hardware, so beautifully, for a fervent, zealous football town crazily wearing cheesehead hats and rooting on the Packers during tailgate parties or even while relaxing around others, is returning to Titletown and sharing a place in Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood.

So, was this one of the greatest Super Bowls in Packers history?

Yes. Indeed it was.

"It's a great day for the Green Bay Packers," coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. "The Lombardi Trophy is finally going back home."

On the finest night, the team from the smallest market in the league, known as the Packers, prevailed on the national stage and clinched their fourth Super Bowl title. For one, it was the nicest contest for Aaron Rodgers, once disregarded by many as a fitted successor to Brett Favre -- he's now relatively the hallowed figure and has emerged into a legend before our very eyes.

With the win, a 304-yard, three-touchdown performance, Rodgers was flawless and created his legacy.

In nearly every game this season, he cemented a shred of his legacy and rapidly developed into an iconic figure in a town that believes in him, even though he was considered a polarizing player at one point. Regardless of how poorly the Steelers played in a familiar setting, after Rodgers was hearing the comparisons and doubts about reaching a climax as superb as Favre's, he is no more the subject of the Favre comparisons.

"I've never felt like there's been a monkey on my back. The [Green Bay Packers] organization stood behind me. Believed in me...I told [Packers executive] Ted [Thompson] back in 2005, he wouldn't be sorry with this pick. I told him in 2008 that I was going to repay their trust and get us this opportunity."

If anything, he's a likable legend in the future and probably will raise to new heights and beyond the bygone diva. He's a crafty, savvy and proficient quarterback with accuracy, mobility and excellent throwing motion, the wonderful attributes of being an elite passer. When it ended Sunday night with the Packers saying cheese, he achieved his new agenda, very easily, by grabbing a spot in the company of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, the level of majesty even if he only has one Super Bowl ring.

The resiliency was the total difference for the renovation of clearly the top franchise, adjusting to tough situations without the contributions of primary stars hampered by injuries.

"This is just like our season—a lot of adversity," said Rodgers. "A lot of high-character guys stepped up and played huge roles."

Afterwards, inside the loser's locker room, Ben Roethlisberger sat somberly, wearing a despairing expression. In there, he reflected back on his lousy performance, and blamed himself for the blemishes.

In this specific one, he was respectively a mere 25-of-40 for 263 yards with two touchdowns, but threw two interceptions to destroy the Steelers drive and momentum. It stifled the Steelers from capturing triumph this time, but worked in the favor of the Packers.

So, with deeper talent and better preparations, the Packers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and took advantage of Roethlisberger's miscues. Clearly, one of his passes were intended to wide receiver Mike Wallace that bounced to Packers safety Nick Collins, after Roethlisberger was struck hard by Packers nose tackle Howard Green.

The unprepared and costly mistakes by the Steelers allowed Collins to return the ball 36 yards for a touchdown, opening a Packers 14-0 lead no time after scoring their first touchdown.

Known for his heroics and clutch finishes, Roethlisberger couldn't conduct an 87-yard drive for a game-winning touchdown to complete another mind-blowing, epic finish in a classic Super Bowl.

In the greatest event, on the brightest stage, he struggled unlike ever before and made foolish decisions with the ball.

Late in the final minutes, the Steelers managed to reach only their 33-yard line before they were forced into a fourth-down situation. That's when Roethlisberger threw an incomplete pass to end Pittsburgh's remarkable pursuit for a third Super Bowl win in six seasons.

This time, instead, Rodgers celebrated with bliss. He seized the moment and raised his arms skyward. That alone removes the immeasurable drama of playing in the shadows of the legendary Favre. Just like that, he's not in the shadows, he's not under additional pressure to perform sharply and not expected to replicate Favre's style.

Of course, as we all know, if we follow history, Bart Starr came before Favre.

And with that, Rodgers came after Favre. What happened was real, glancing at a star quarterback elevating his legacy to new heights, voted the game's Most Valuable Player. Finally, he was well deserving of some praise and spotlight by the end of the night, for which he completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It's always nice to have Jordy Nelson, the latest Super Bowl stud, and he was very impressive that he could have split the MVP honors with Rodgers.

In the most important game ever for Nelson, he accounted for nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown, but dropped five passes. It doesn't matter, if you're the winners.

And from an obvious standpoint, the Packers are winners.

A few years from now, Rodgers will be threatening to overshadow Favre's legacy, particularly if he surpasses his unparalleled record book and shatters the results, and at this rate, it's possible, very possible.

If there were any player sensational this postseason, it clearly was Rodgers, the hottest commodity among quarterbacks this season. By the way, he finished the playoffs with 1,094 passing yards and nine touchdown passes, joining Kurt Warner in such an honorable category as the only quarterbacks with 1,000-plus yards passing and nine touchdown passes.

Even now, in many ways, he's better than what Favre was in his young career, already the all-time leader in passer rating in the postseason with a 112.6 rating to surpass Starr. With a lone Super Bowl under his belt, along with a belt celebration like no other, he just has to win another title to rise above Favre.

Of course, with all of this happening instantly, nobody in Green Bay misses Favre and have happily fell in love with Rodgers, calling most of the town Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood. And for such a creative name, it doesn't take long to understand that the Lombardi Trophy will land in his neighborhood.

Titletown U.S.A. still exist.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Aaron Rodgers' Legacy Blooms Before Our Very Eyes, Makes Us Forget Favre

For Aaron Rodgers, the 27-year-old blistering-hot quarterback who has reached a crescendo and now in his first ever Super Bowl appearance, this would be the recent installment to possibly the finest renovation in history for the Green Bay Packers. So candidly, for the first time, Rodgers has elevated his legacy on the national stage and shares the national spotlight with Pittsburgh Steeler's quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

If he's nervous, for the most alarming game of his lifetime, it is very understandable, particularly when he's playing in the shadows of the incomparable legend Brett Favre. So, with motivation, emotions and a strong heart to handle the pressure, he's now described as one of the elite stars in the NFL, equipped to quickly flourish as a legend. The smartest player on the Packers' roster is Rodgers, an iconic figure playing in the most decisive role, with the intangibles to extend his own agenda by his maturity and influential leadership.

The ripple effect, very truthfully, is his quick release, accuracy, footwork and beautiful throwing motions, all proper ingredients to put together an assertive strategy for a proficient scheme. Rodgers, genuinely, is pursuing to sharpen his personality and distinction in the wake of the post-Favre era, a grisly time period when Favre held Green Bay hostage nearly every summer. Though the memories of 16 seasons traditionally lives on, considering that he was labeled a traitor for his surreal transition once he signed with the archrival Minnesota Vikings, his legacy is remembered eternally.

It's almost unforeseen ever since he abruptly departed the Packers, to create a drama within a heartbroken relationship, an outlandish marriage that had unraveled because he selfishly initiated national disturbance with his peeving sagas over his retiring status. Faster than ever, this forced Packers GM Ted Thompson to trade Favre to the New York Jets, for which the starting job was promised to Rodgers. The Packers, favored to win Super Bowl XLV by many, weren't emotionally saddened or regretful after jettisoning Favre three summers ago.

This is where the Packers were suddenly the smarter franchise and took the business approach, considered now one of the elite franchises in professional football ever since Favre's departure. A change of scenery was necessary in the essence that Favre was on the decline and frequently had been waffling his availability, so it empowered Thompson to listen to trade offers, wisely choosing Rodgers over the baffled Favre during one of the craziest controversies in professional football history.

Either way, it clearly was the messy divorces, a horrendous dispute to steam a minor altercation between Thompson and Favre, two men of whom couldn't figure out their differences. There were plenty of lows, plenty of doubts and the relationship had been irreparable a long time ago. Which is why Thompson trusted in the first-round quarterback Rodgers, promised the starting job to him and fell in love with him. Doing so, he made a smart decision that benefited the Packers' future.

At first, patience was virtue for a man who masterfully revamped the framework of a dignified franchise when he used every flirtation and coaxed free-agents to join, and suddenly brought aboard gifted talent that blended in nicely. When he sent away Favre and mishandled the situation, few in Green Bay, furious because he rejected the all-time NFL leader in passing yards, criticized and derided Thompson for deciding to take another direction. He must have felt good vibes to name Rodgers the quarterback, worthy of surpassing Favre for glamorous plateaus in a few decades and shine historically with his accomplished feats.

From what it seems, he is comfortable at the helm satisfied in the sense that he's traditionally obligated to perform at his all-time high, given the immense expectations and strict demands. The storyline here, in retrospect, is how brilliantly Thompson handled the predicament, not hesitant or fearful in dealing Favre and replaces the diva with a young, humbled quarterback.

It was certainly nothing personal to Favre, but in the meantime, it was a brilliant upgrade to improve the future in the aftermath of the endless drama, including all the rumors and distractions that engendered preposterous hype. Thompson, perhaps more than anybody as far as within the Packers organization, felt he had reached a point of frailty in the late stages of his masterful, superlative career. And from then on, the Packers and Favre had broken bonds, but not broken memories, and if anything, the memories were indelible and incredible, after he amassed unique milestones.

It's a rarity, nowadays, for someone to match Favre's historic records and engrave a chapter in the history books. What's of great value is that he was simply the greatest star quarterback to ever play the game. It's not really worth the debate when the mind-blowing numbers are unbelievable and implausible in some ways, but in reality, he accomplished all-time NFL career numbers, such as a 71,838 in passing yards, 508 touchdowns and he even surmounted by Dan Marino in two categories.

But sadly, nobody misses Favre. Nobody misses the veteran, ever since the Packers cut ties with the waffling legend.

There's much too love about Rodgers, perhaps the fact that he blossomed this season on path to surpass the man he replaced with unforeseen milestones, particularly if he persists on being a lethal pocket-passer. At his rate, he could easily excel in the league as the best passer in the game. If he plays long enough in his remarkable career early on, he can easily star in more games than Favre, he can easily break his record of games played.

After 20 seasons, Favre started 298 games, an amazing achievement that seems like a rarity for someone to shatter. But already, in his young career, Rodgers started 47 games in three seasons, showing off his belt celebration whenever he makes a spectacular play or pushes into the end zone himself for a touchdown. Blinded by the Favre's legacy, many have ignored the immediate impact of a first-rounder nobody believed in mainly because he was unproven and a raw rookie from out of college.

But amazingly, he fooled us and survived a difficult task because of chemistry, mentoring from veterans, faith and humbleness. When he came from college, he was the most-derided rookie basically for not knowing the playbook and waiting in the wings. This time, he's the popular star and has surprisingly thrown for 2,000 more yards, 16 more touchdowns and 20 fewer interceptions than Favre in the early stage of his career.

If he can stay healthy and withstand longevity, he can shatter Favre's passer ratings and total in touchdowns. For the next few years, at least, he can rely on a compelling receiver core with the aid of Greg Jennings and veteran wideout Donald Driver. If so, it's easy to assume that he's on pace to accomplish sheer greatness, lead the Packers to postseason wins, Super Bowl trips and lastly be voted to multiple Pro Bowls.

Maybe years from now, we'll find out.

The lost of a veteran star, no doubt, changed the Packers culture but also expunged the wishy-washy Favre.

Not such a bad mistake, after all!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

From Head To Shoulders, Troy Polamalu Outweighs Clay Matthews

It's too bad only one player can win the AP Defensive Player of the Year award, especially when the two star players pose as the most handsome, gorgeous and stylish figures in the history of professional football. It's not too bad the Super Bowl is being played in Northern Texas at one of the nicest and most spacious venues in football, a modern-age stadium built as if it's the world's colossal palace.

But it's too bad no one has parodied the latest faddish in the NFL this week, a trendy hairdo featured by two stylish celebrities, two of the toughest, hard-driven defenders. In perspective, with a precious hairstyle, nobody has made this the funniest tease in sports, but either way, Troy Polamalu can easily be mistaken for a rock star from the '80s by his long, twirling and curly hair.

There might be a clearer understanding for why his hair is long, from his personal background—Polamalu is of Samoan descent. The cultural principles from the Samoan customs develop an identity and their own agendas, as long hair signifies "strong warrior," a common trait in such an ideal heritage. So does this mean he's a strong warrior, probably considered the mightiest, fastest safety in Steelers history, since he dominates as a defensive force and has the warrior-type mentality?

When he emerges onto the field by game time, Polamalu is the most noticeable player with his ponytail, a trademark that characterizes the long-haired veteran. Polamalu, having endured lots of Super Bowl triumph in his accomplished career, is already loved heavily in Pittsburgh and constantly boosts jersey sales—a perceptible signal that he's one of the premiere stars. With all the fans sending their tributes, he is a stalwart strong safety and captivates the spectators by his toughness and explosiveness.

Other than his hair, a simple description to remember Polamalu in the event a person forgets: he is equipped with natural powers on the turf and has the finesse to close out games defensively. Without him, the Steelers aren't the same, but are still alarming to watch to some degree. They aren't bullies, either, but are a bit harmless in his absence. They aren't scary, but are still dangerous.

The all-around defensive back is always a factor in the secondary and transforms the dynamic of games, not because of his hair but his relentless and wildest routes on the field to discombobulate a solid offense.

By logic, he is one of the most basic defensive playmakers in the league, a five-time Pro Bowler and an extremely versatile player to blend in perfectly with a defensive-oriented team. It satisfies Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, privileged to coach a priceless superstar as almighty as Polamalu. Not too many defenders in the league travel across the football field with incredible, out-of-this-world speed that rattles and defers opponents of making plays.

All you need to know is that he's quicker than a jack rabbit or cheetah, and it wouldn't be surprising if he could match the speed of Usain Bolt. Not one bit. The fame was earned, sooner rather than later, when he allowed his hair to grow and became the first Samoan to seize attention in the national spotlight, not only a stylist but an aggressor.

Likewise Clay Matthews, his antagonist for Super Bowl XLV, is similar in many ways.

When it comes to hair, he knows it better than women, it seems; certainly by the way he lets it down on the field. The hefty linebacker from a family that culturally has football in its genes. When he was drafted by the Packers in 2009, the critics made the situation worse and doubted Matthews' performance level, his NFL potential and his pedigree.

And now, he definitely won't forget what could have been an insult to Matthews, after he was two votes shy of taking home the AP Defensive Player of the Year award, motivated and ready to take out his frustration on the field. But he's classy and now carries a lifelong tradition into the modern generation, rising in the national scene with the Green Bay Packers. His father, Clay Jr., played 19 seasons in the NFL, and spent three seasons with Cleveland. His uncle, Bruce, a Hall of Famer, played 19 seasons in the league, too.

This football trait runs in the family and persists, given the Matthews family genre. Even his grandfather, Clay, who played four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, in this generation, Matthews is a factor for the Packers in the Super Bowl come Sunday, only in his second season and already he's a perennial attacker. A few months from now, his younger brother, Casey, a linebacker at Oregon, will be selected in the 2011 NFL draft.

The legacy continues, and better yet, Matthews is probably the best one in the family as long as he continues to hit and pounce on opponents wildly to make an unbelievable play. As for the hair comparisons, the former Californians from USC, where they both earned their rightful names in football, Troy beats Clay remotely.

While Tom Brady tries to cover his bald spots, Polamalu and Matthews' hair keeps growing and growing, sort of how the Energizer Bunny keeps going and going, right? On media day, he was imitated when his teammate Ryan Clark put on a Polamalu wig and smiled for the cameras, having too much fun.

That's why I use Head & Shoulders for Men to shampoo my hair regularly. That's why I like to use it constantly.

Thanks to Polamalu, my hygiene is better than ever before!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ben Roethlisberger Joshing at Media Day Illustrate Different Man

ARLINGTON, Texas--As he rested calmly at a table inside Cowboys Stadium surrounded by cameras and swarms of reporters intrigued to talk with the media, Ben Roethlisberger viewed the scene with a relaxed stare, and noticed he had directly borrowed all attention on Media Day for Super Bowl XLV—the wildest circus where reporters are allowed to ask players most bizarre or convenient things.

It didn't come as a surprise when Roethlisberger was named the featured athlete—one of professional sports' most headstrong daredevils. He just might be one of the most reckless, daring quarterbacks any one could ever imagine. Regularly comfortable with risking his body, he almost jeopardized his career when his head was slammed to the turf as he got sandwiched between a pair of defenders a few seasons ago. Big Ben seems like a superhuman or a robot, capable of enduring any daunting task—mechanically-built to defy the laws of fortitude and firmness.

We can only consider that a proud, character-oriented, hard-driven franchise like the Pittsburgh Steelers are very content with his drastic turnaround and recent displays of maturity and humbleness. He is, without question, a changed man—ready to pursue and capture his third Super Bowl title with the Steelers, a brand-name franchise that has allowed Roethlisberger ample opportunities to behave like a decent human being; not a hideous criminal with the potential to sabotage the class of a franchise symbolized to articulate dignity and civility.

The Super Bowl is approaching rapidly, and for a moment we glance at the Steelers, who will become America's Team if Pittsburgh takes home another Lombardi Trophy. For a change, Roethlisberger tried not to reflect on the heinous past, but was humorous and playful, joshing with the media. He even seemed to take pleasure in his hour of interrogation. At the end of the session, he smiled widely, counted down the last seven seconds of media availability and walked off the stage.

Being in front of thousands of reporters and media outlets, he handled the scrutiny, publicity and anxiety with maturity and class. Soon enough, he'll be forgiven of his wrongdoings, earning his shot of redemption on the national stage. It won't take long—not if he's staying out of trouble and avoiding college campuses and college girls—for Roethlisberger to wholeheartedly become a different man, unlike when he was a careless and adolescent fool.

Over the last two days, he dealt with the adversity and criticism. Today, he was talkative with the media, joking, laughing and smiling. You could tell he was at ease, as Roethlisberger shot video with his cellphone as he arrived to the podium, while being bombarded with questions from the media.

"I'm very close with a lot of the guys," said Roethlisberger. "One of my best friends is sitting over there next to me. I knew that I always had—there was a big group of guys I always had their support. There were just a couple that I wasn't as close to as I wanted to be and needed to be and I have really worked hard to be closer with and be a better teammate with."

He needed to mature and repair an image, blemished since now being twice-accused of sexual assault. In doing so, he will clear his name of guilt and stupidity for slip-ups, which almost destroyed his great reputation—clearly the savior for the Steelers in a pair of championships.

With a win, given the multiple titles he won in his incredible career, he will earn his rightful place in the company of NFL history's great Quarterbacks with the likes of Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman. He is on the verge of leading the Steelers franchise to an unprecedented accomplishment—wining their seventh championship. The tenacious Steelers, decorated with six Super Bowl titles, are on the verge of an impressive three championships in the past six seasons.

"I'm not pretty when I play the game," said Roethlisberger. I'll be the first to admit it, but I don't try to be. When I say these things, I'm not trying to knock on any of those guys. I've said they're the best. I just play the game to win it. Like I said, I'll probably never ever win a passing title. I'll probably never win MVP of the NFL and I'm okay with that. Really, I am. People may think I'm crazy, but to me at the end of the day it's about wins and losses and championships."

For the first time all season, it seemed Roethlisberger was capable to handle any predicament. With a win, maybe he could earn back his endorsement deal with a Pittsburgh company that markets food products after it had dropped because of his unlawful accusations of sexual assault, although he was never charged in either case.

If he leads the Steelers to glory again, in a couple of months, you could see his face on beef jerky bags in Giant Eagle supermarkets. The point is, no matter what the nay-sayers think of Roethlisberger's legal troubles and allegations in the past, he's a beloved superstar in an enthusiastic football region that culturally worships the sport each week.

In recent years, the Terrible Towels exist by virtue of the fraternity of delirious supporters in a town where Big Ben has repossessed his respective nickname. He has sincerely made an effort to use great judgment and has regained the respect of the Steelers ownership, teammates and fans.

He has finally stopped partying, drinking too much and manipulating women.

That's what we want to believe with Roethlisberger. That is what he wants us to believe, and we should take his word for it. He is easily either the most despised athlete or the most admired, given that not all have forgiven him for his poor judgment.

The moment now is for America to become a country of forgiveness. No, we don't have to forget about the gruesome allegations, but the bitter folks can lose the animosity and forget about the past. To his credit, he's an iconic hero, despite his off-the-field misconduct.

The most troubling incident happened last April, when a 21-year old college student filed a sexual assault complaint, but the prosecutor couldn't garner enough evidence to prove that Roethlisberger was guilty of trapping a woman in the bathroom in the small town of Milledgeville, Ga. No matter how he is described among those who dislike him, this turns out to be a redemptive tale in which he enriches his likability as an individual and player.

The star of Super Bowl Media Day wasn't Aaron Rodgers or Troy Polamalu.

When Roethlisberger arrived so calmly, everybody crowded around, and treated him as if he was the superhero in sports. It really would be something beautiful if Roethlisberger could orchestrate another compelling drive as the final minutes trickle down in the Super Bowl and deliver a game-winning pass to one of his prolific receivers. This wouldn't just refresh the memory of the breathtaking finish two years ago, but add to the incredible history of indelible Super Bowl moments.

The storyline is that Big Ben has redeemed himself, and once again, is every bit as popular as London's historic clock. He is considered an elite quarterback in the NFL, filled with much promise in the near future as long as he stays out of trouble. Without a doubt, come Sunday, it won't be a surprise to hear him cheered by thousands, and see thousands more donning his No. 7 jersey.

Never mind that he served a four-game suspension to begin the season, because the gritty Steelers are contrived to survive off their defensive principles. Never mind that he was a distraction, instead it just brought the Steelers closer and made his teammates stronger—instilling the importance of unity and spirit.

With that, the Steelers bonded together and compiled victories to qualify for the postseason, and dominated in the playoffs with urgency, mental toughness and a boisterous defense led by legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

And so after all the adversity and tribulations—disturbing episodes that almost ruined not only his profession as an NFL quarterback but his life in general, Roethlisberger has recovered from his downfall. Finally, there is much kindness within Roethlisberger, living his life differently and rightfully—realizing how close he came to blowing his eight-year, $102 million contract.

"It's such a blessing, that's where the inner peace starts is with your faith, with my faith—like I said, by counting my blessings, because every day is a blessing to be alive and a blessing to do this," said Roethlisberger. "To have forgiveness, the ultimate forgiveness, to pray—that was my main thing, talking to God, reading the before I came up here."

From here, we can infer that Roethlisberger very much appreciates and admires the game. I guess it's a blessing. God bless Big Ben.