Friday, July 27, 2007

Kudos to Costas

From Ronald Blum at theAssociated Press:
"A day after Barry Bonds called him a "little midget man who knows (nothing) about baseball," broadcaster Bob Costas said he wasn't upset with the San Francisco Giants slugger and responded with a jab of his own.

"As anyone can plainly see, I'm 5-6 1/2 and a strapping 150, and unlike some people, I came by all of it naturally," Costas said Thursday in a telephone interview.

You gotta love Costas, don't you?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vick and the Jock Culture

From Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports:
"Until Monday, when [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell ordered [Falsons quarterback Mike] Vick to stay away from the team's training camp while the league reviews the federal dogfighting charges against him, at least one person close to Vick felt he didn't fully grasp the ramifications of his circumstances.

"I wouldn't say he's delusional about the problem, but I don't think he sees it as being as big a deal as everybody else," the associate said. "He thinks it's going to blow over eventually … He doesn't know how deep this goes."

Mike Vick...just...doesn't...get it.

Vick doesn't think think the allegations are a big deal. By extension, is it safe to assume he doesn't think dog fighting is a big deal? If he doesn't think being accused of fighting dogs is important, then how far of a stretch is it to believe he would actually do it?

While this may not be damning evidence, it certainly lends credence to the charges. But there is another side to Vick's state of mind: the jock culture.

We all have seen how jocks rarely have to face consequences for their off-the-field activities. We have all seen the DUI's, and speeding charges, and wife/girlfriend beatings, but how many times do jocks ACTUALLY get caught? I suspect it is a lot more times than we have been led to believe, but we will never know for certain if the police won't hold these kids accountable.

And childhood is where it starts. A kid is good at a specific sport in high school. But kids being kids, he does something wrong at school. The principal finds out, and covers it up, because the school's team is winning, thanks to this kid.

Maybe the kid is failing a class, so the principal puts a little pressure on the teacher to give the kid a passing grade.

By the time the kid is out of high school, he has only learned one thing: Do well at sports, and all other things will be forgiven.

In college, this lesson is only reinforced. Money, dinners, and gifts from alumni boosters only serve to ingrain the lesson. Of course, the campus police are always there to escort a star player back to his dorm room after he gets drunk and rapes some poor girl at a frat party.

On top of all this, the jocks all look after each other. That is part of the team mentality. Unfortunately, the jock culture almost elevates it to mafia-like similarities.

Consider all the current and former players who have come out in defense of Mike Vick:
Clinton Portis (RB, Redskins): "It’s his property, it’s his dog. People should mind their business."

Joe Horn (WR, Falcons, from an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution): "What upsets me is if you don't know Michael Vick or haven't talked to him about how he feels, you shouldn't talk about the man until he's proven guilty or exonerated. Let the system take care of itself and take its course...

I've spoken to him several times. Mike is saddened about the tension this is going to cause the team. I assured him I support him, the rest of the guys support him and the team supports him. Whether he's guilty or innocent or whether you believe he is, time will tell...

I think he should be around. The more he's around his family, his football family, his teammates playing football; it's what might help Michael Vick. I respect our commissioner but I don't think suspending him is going to help him. Michael wants to play football. He told me that over and over again. "I know what's going on but I need to be there playing and going through training camp to try and get through this." I told him over and over that good times will come again. Right now you're going through something and it's something you're going to have to go through.

Deion Sanders (former NFL cornerback, in an editorial on "What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I. Hold on, don’t start shaking your head just yet. Listen to me.

Some people kiss their dogs on the mouth. Some people let their dogs eat from their plate. Some people dress their dogs in suits more expensive than mine, if you can believe that.

And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You’re probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest. Maybe, he identified with them in some way.

You can still choose to condemn him, but I’m trying to take you inside his mind so you can understand where he might be coming from.

Emmitt Smith (former NFL running back): "He's the biggest fish in the whole doggone pond so they're putting the squeeze on him to get to everyone else...Now, granted he might have been to a dogfight a time or two . . . but he's not the one you're after, he's just the one whose going to take the fall -- publicly."

Does anyone wonder where the phrase "dumb jock" comes from? Logic goes out the window when they have to defend one of their kind. Portis was downright defensive, Horn completely ignored the PR ramifications because he wants his teammate on the field, Sanders sounds like Oprah, and Smith is paranoid.

But why would great players like these reduce themselves to stupidity in order to defend the indefensible? Just as Vick doesn't see his own problems, neither do other players.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

D.C. residents need not apply

Jay Tea over at Wizbang has come across an interesting coincidence regarding years of federal political experience and who we elect for president:
"I haven't fully worked out how far back the trend goes, but it seems that when it comes to electing presidents, we tend to choose the candidate with the least Washington experience.

2004: Bush had four years, Kerry decades.

2000: Bush zero, Gore decades.

1996: Clinton four, Dole decades.

1992: Clinton zero, Bush over a decade.

1988 was an aberration, but come on -- it was MIKE DUKAKIS. I recall one political commentator (I think it was Dave Barry) announced that "the union of crazed loners announce they are sitting out this election. They urge anyone who feels enough passion to kill either candidate should seek professional help."

1984: Reagan with four years, Mondale with -- again -- over a decade.

1980: Reagan zero, Carter 4.

1976: Carter zero, Ford decades.

Is this a statistical aberration, or a sign that Americans tend to prefer outsiders and reject career Washington politicians? I'm not sure, but it definitely bodes ill for candidates like Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton (her term as First Lady will count, I think), Christopher Dodd, and John McCain, while encouraging to the likes of Mitt Romney, Rudy Guiliani, and Mike Huckabee.

Add this to the other traditional tendencies, such as no sitting senator has won the presidency since JFK, no Democrat from outside the South since JFK, and no Republican has won since Eisenhower who wasn't from California or Texas.

Friday, July 20, 2007

NFC Preview

Time for the NFC Preview. (AFC Preview here)

Estimated wins this year are in parentheses:

EAGLES (9 wins): The Eagles are the mark of consistency in this division. They haven't really improved any this year, but they aren't much worse either. Andy Reid has this team running like a well-oiled machine, as we saw last year when Donovan McNabb got hurt and Jeff Garcia stepped in easily. The Eagles are the team to beat in the East.
REDSKINS (9 wins): This team will live or die by QB Jason Campbell. If he improves significantly this year, they could easily win more than 9 games and blowout this division. However, I think he could be a solid quarterback who can put this team in playoff contention, possibly Super Bowl contention.
GIANTS (7 wins): Bye bye Tiki Barber. Bye bye Tom Coughlin. Hello Bill Belichick.
COWBOYS (6 wins): I feel it is safe to say Wade Phillips is a HUGE step down from Bill Parcells. The Cowboys highlight film this year should be titled "Ray Handley Does Dallas".

BEARS (10 wins): Exactly WHICH team in this division will challenge the Bears? Even losing Thomas Jones and (possibly) Lance Briggs will still leave the Bears strong enough to beat this division's sorry bunch of losers.
LIONS (7 wins): I will give GM Matt Millen credit: He got the best player in last April's draft. WR Calvin Johnson will be a legitimate superstar in the NFL. But even that won't be enough to save this sorry team.
VIKINGS (6 wins): Just four words: starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Somewhere, Daunte Culpepper is laughing his butt off.
PACKERS (5 wins): Bret Favre getting another year older cannot be good for this team, even though he did play alright last year. Still, if I was playing for this team, I wouldn't feel like I was playing for a Super Bowl. I would feel like I was playing to get some old quarterback into the record books.

SAINTS (12 wins): Actually, 12 wins might be a conservative guess. This team looks ready. Other than injuries, there is no reason this team can't win 14-15 games.
PANTHERS (8 wins): The Panthers are a good team, but not great. After a few mid to late season losses, expect the "Bill Cowher is going to the Panthers" rumors to start flying, and the Panthers will mail in the rest of the season.
BUCCANEERS (7 wins): If you look at all the quarterbacks on the Bucs preseason roster, there is one decent one: Jeff Garcia. The last time he started 16 games was 2002. He is 37 years old. Expect the Bucs to start strong with Garcia before he gets hurt.
FALCONS (5 wins): The Falcons will be a real "dog" this year. Seriously though, they have a new coach installing a new system and a quarterback with legal problems. The backup quarterback (Joey Harrington) is mediocre on his best days.

49ERS (10 wins): This team will surprise a lot of people this year. Alex Smith is starting to become a good quarterback. Frank Gore may be the next Marshall Faulk. They picked up solid receivers in Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie, to go along with Arnaz Battle. TE Vernon Davis can only get better in his second season. The defense started to look better last year. This team will make the playoffs AND will contend for the Super Bowl.
RAMS (8 wins): The Rams will live or die by Steven Jackson. That said, I still see too many questions with their defense.
SEAHAWKS (7 wins): Mike Holmgren is looking like a strong candidate for the hot seat. This team won a weak division last year, and the main players aren't getting any younger.
CARDINALS (6 wins): The Cards got the right head coach. Now they just need an offensive line and a defense. If the Cards get any more than 6 wins, then you can call Ken Whisenhunt a genius.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dog's in the Kennel

With the news of Mike Vick's indictment for dog fighting, it seemed appropriate to take this moment for a musical review of the situation:

(Thanks to for the YouTube link)

Friday, July 13, 2007

AFC Preview

It is that time of year again. With NFL training camps just a few weeks away, it is time to take a preliminary guess at how this coming season will unfold. I am just a bit anxious for the season to begin, can't you tell?

I'll start with the AFC this week. My projections for wins this season are in parentheses:

PATRIOTS (11 wins): While the Pats have improved their most glaring weakness from last year, their wide receivers, I would not expect that to improve their overall wins by much because the rest of this division has also improved. However, they should still win this division.
JETS (9 wins): I will give Coach Mangini credit. He learned how to win games from Bill Belichick using smoke and mirrors. This is still not a great team, but I wouldn't underestimate their coaching.
BILLS (8 wins): The addition of RB Marshawn Lynch will make this team better, but this is offset by the loss of CB Nate Clements. I am still not sold that J.P. Losman can be the quarterback they need.
DOLPHINS (7 wins): New coach (Cam Cameron). New quarterback (Trent Green). Even with the growing pains, I expect the Dolphins will be better.

BENGALS (10 wins): The team to beat in the North. We all know how depleted their roster has become due to local law enforcement, but this team still has a solid base to build on, and Marvin Lewis can do it.
RAVENS (10 wins): It is hard to call the Ravens a much worse team than last year. While the addition of RB Willis McGahee improves them, this team was already old last year. If QB Steve McNair still has enough gas left in the tank, this team could easily be a Super Bowl team. But that's a BIG "if".
STEELERS (7 wins): This is a good news/bad news deal for the Steelers. With Mike Tomlin installing a new offense, expect the Steelers to take a while to come around offensively (assuming the new offense works at all). I am giving the Steelers the benefit of the doubt here by saying 7 wins. Expect the Steelers to start slow and MAYBE come on at the end of the season.
BROWNS (4 wins): This team is STILL rebuilding? By the way, anyone execting Brady Quinn to be an improvement over Charlie Frye will be sorely disappointed. Quinn might be a LITTLE better next year.

TITANS (9 wins): While the Colts may be the "class" of this division, the Titans will be hungrier. Vince Young is the real deal, and he'll take the Titans past the Colts to win this division. The only question in my mind is whether the Titans win the division by a tie-breaker or by overall wins.
COLTS (9 wins): With the Super Bowl victory hanging around their necks like an albatross, expect the Colts to drop more games than last year. Regardless, they are still a tough team to beat.
TEXANS (7 wins): Will their offensive line play any better than last year? Will Matt Schaub play any better than David Carr? And their best running back is Ahman Green? With all those questions, there is a bright side. I think their defense will be a little better with DT Amobi Okoye.
JAGUARS (6 wins): The Jags still have not solved their quarterback problems. Without a lot of improvement elsewhere, this team is dropping.

BRONCOS (10 wins): Jay Cutler looks like the best quarterback the Broncos have had since Elway. Another year under Cutler's belt can only mean good things for this team.
CHARGERS (9 wins): How can an overwhelmingly talented team like the Chargers go from 14 wins to 9 wins? Two words: Norv Turner, who has consistently shown over the years he can take a great team and make them mediocre.
RAIDERS (7 wins): Expect the first year under Lane Kiffin to be a significant improvement over last year's catastrophe. All the news out of Oakland seems to show the Raiders embracing the new coach's philosophy.
CHIEFS (7 wins): Nothing like another year under Herm Edwards to make a playoff team worse. When you consider that RB Larry Johnson might hold out or be traded, the Chiefs might even be a 2 win team.