Posts Tagged ‘Cam Newton’

Cam Newton has proven to be the Superman many thought he was – but his detractors are still looking for Kryptonite.

It’s been a while since the last time I’ve written an original post for the blog. If you’ve added this page on Facebook, then you know I tend to post articles and ask for feedback daily, so I am indeed active in terms of how I utilize Shoot, Pass, Quibble! However, there are SO MANY different sources of information and analysis on things in the world of sports, oft times when I come up with a concept for something I’d like to write – I find it’s already been done and approached from a variety of angles. And to be quite honest – I don’t want to feel like I’m parroting anyone, or even appear that way.

But as luck would have it, a friend on Facebook provided me with the perfect topic for this post. Since we went back and forth for the better part of 2 hours on Facebook over this subject, I realized – it’s one that hasn’t really been broken down the way I tried to break it down to my friend. Eureka – my next post.

Now, before I go forward, I want to say – this particular blog isn’t meant to dis my friend, nor is it to be taken as an excuse to take potshots at him in the least. However, I WILL refer to things from our online conversation, and to things I’ve heard and read in reference to the subject matter. Some perceptions out there need to be refuted and cleared up. So, to paraphrase the great poet Jay-Z: “Sorry (friend), I’m just trying to advance my quotes – I ain’t making you the butt of my jokes…”

Now, with all that said…Alex Smith is a b***h.

If you’ve watched Alex Smith’s NFL “career” – this picture is something you’re extremely accustomed to seeing.

I’m sure most, if not all of you, have by now heard San Francisco QB Alex Smith’s verbal shot at NFL Rookie Of The Year Cam Newton. When asked about his statistics from a season ago, Smith, a long-time NFL under-performer (he was the #1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft) who had his most successful NFL season just last year, unnecessarily threw Cam and the Carolina Panthers under the bus for pretty much no reason. In order to be perfectly clear and transparent, so no one accuses me of “ESPN-ing” this up (read: saying something as though it’s fact, without actual evidence to support it – knowing my audience will buy it due to my reputation) – check out the actual clip of Smith’s words (the quote that has generated the press comes about 4:46 in).

Now, when watching the entire interview, Smith doesn’t seem to be too much of a jerk, right? Seems like he’s just answering questions about his team and the upcoming season. But the media jumped on the Cam comments, and rightfully so – Newton and his team had nothing to do with that conversation. Smith could have easily made his point without naming Newton or any team at all; the question is – WHY did he do that? Why did he choose Cam Newton of all other QBs he could’ve named? What was the impetus?

I’ll get to that a little later.

For now, let’s deal with the fallout from that interview. Newton’s teammate, linebacker Jon Beason, fired back in support of his quarterback on Twitter: “Alex smith, don’t hate on Cam (because) your stats would’ve gotten u cut if Peyton decided to come 2 San Fran. Truth b told. That’s after a 13-3 yr.” Yikes.

Jon Beason stuck up for his teammate in a manner I can relate to – by simply telling the truth.

Talk about going for the jugular. Thing is – Beason is 100% right. The absolute truth of the matter, and absolute fact – Smith was a free agent this year. The 49ers put out a take it or leave it offer, and Smith, somehow feeling he was due more as the QB of a successful 13-3 team, balked. He felt undervalued, and went out to test the market. Only thing is – there was no market for Smith. He didn’t receive a single offer from any team in the entire league. In fairness, the 49ers offer was a very good one, and one I believe was beyond fair and generous for a QB of his level (and one that he eventually signed). But the fact that they didn’t franchise him, and fully allowed him to test the market speaks volumes. The Miami Dolphins, desperate for a QB, didn’t even offer him a contract (even though they met with him). Lest you forget, the Dolphins pretty much suck. I can’t even name you any other teams, because Miami was pretty much the only team that gave this guy a call. Now, by my count, there were about 10 teams (including San Francisco) that had needs at the starting QB position before both free agency and the draft.

Here are some more Smith facts – a year ago, the 49ers had so much faith in this guy, they drafted QB Colin Kaepernick in the 2nd round. Kaepernick wasn’t drafted as a “sit and wait” QB – he was expected to compete for and win the job. So what saved Smith’s bacon? The lockout. New coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t have the time to really work with the kid like he would’ve liked, so he went with the experienced guy on the roster. That’s it. Nothing more. When Smith performed decently during the season, the team felt a breath of relief. And lest one tries the argument of how it wouldn’t matter since it was a new coach – Harbaugh kept much of he 49ers’ system that was previously in place the year before since he didn’t have a full offseason to make major changes. Smith, of course, was familiar with that system.

What’s that? I’m missing something? Oh, believe me, I know. I know how San Francisco went balls to the wall to get Peyton Manning. I know full well the coach who rejuvenated Smith’s career and who supposedly had so much faith in his ability had no contact with him during this time period, and was the first person to go see Manning throw at Duke, secretly flying in under cover of night. I know that the 49ers put on the press harder than any other team until Manning told them he wasn’t interested. Big show of confidence, right?

But let’s get to the meat of the argument, and the perception that some people (my friend included) bought into – that Smith’s comments hold merit. Because, make no mistake about this in any capacity…THEY DON’T. See, outside of throwing a guy under the bus, Smith’s comments actually aren’t true in relation to Cam Newton. This line stands out in particular: “…if you’re losing games in the second half, guess what? You’re like the Carolina Panthers and you’re going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that’s great. You’re not winning, though.” The only part of that statement that’s true is Cam and the Panthers didn’t win. But the STRONG implication, the one that most people in the NFL (by their own words, not mine), the media and the public took to heart, was that Cam got his stats because his team was always losing, and thus, they were constantly trying to throw the ball to attempt to stay in games, padding Cam’s stats and making him look like a better QB than he actually was. There’s an implication that HIS (Cam’s) stats were overblown, and that he isn’t as good as advertised.

Rubbish.

Look up what Smith did in HIS rookie season. It WON’T be pretty.

What Smith says assumes (A) Newton was always putting up stats in garbage time and (B) it’s easy to get the stats Newton got. If it’s so easy, how come no other rookie ever did it? Stands to reason most rookie QBs are on teams that aren’t top-caliber (the first-year starters, at least). No, it’s dismissive of a record-breaking achievement. Drew Brees puts up gaudy numbers whether his teams are good or bad (feel free to check his career stats and the win-loss records of the teams he’s played on – whether the teams’ are good or not, he pretty much always gets his numbers). So one could dismiss his numbers if they chose to, but it would be foolish to. Smith’s first season as a starter wasn’t in the same galaxy as Newton’s, by the way. Hell, no one’s was – because Cam broke every major rookie QB record of note. Smith isn’t even in the top 20 of rookie seasons by a QB. Hell – not even top 50 (look it up). Remember – Smith was a #1 draft pick, just like Newton. Please don’t forget that.

Smith didn’t go 13-3 because he was so great – he wasn’t even a Pro Bowl selection. He went 13-3 because he had a top 5 defense and a fantastic running game. Teams didn’t game plan to shut him down AT ALL. People who just take stats without context might buy the crap he said. But he’s as responsible for his team’s gaudy record as Joe Flacco is. Meaning – they both rode great defenses and strong running games to success. The difference is – Flacco at least HAS been above-average his entire career. Smith has been sub-par until last year. And both QBs had somewhat similar seasons stat-wise last year, both of which were good seasons for both.

But make no mistake – Ray Rice, Frank Gore and their defenses were the main components of the Baltimore Ravens’ and 49ers’ success last season. Anyone arguing differently is a fool.

Now, here’s the point I made to my buddy on this – I WATCHED these games. While my friend appeared to have taken Smith’s words as valid, and simplified it down to the wins & losses argument – I knew that argument held no water because I actually saw the games. Hell, it’s essentially why I know so much about sports – I watch the actual games. In today’s society, we have so many people who form their opinions off of watching ESPN highlights and reading stories or listening to/watching talking heads segments…they try to form accurate opinions on things without actually having seen things for themselves. When I was growing up, I got popped if I joined an adult’s conversation without knowing what I was talking about. And I remember watching the adult men clowning any guy who spoke up who didn’t know what he was talking about. Now – it’s commonplace. Everyone has an opinion, but few can back it with substance.

I not only watched the games that came on Sundays and Mondays (including games seen on NFL League Pass and Canadian TV once in a while), I watched THE REPLAYS on NFL Network during the week. That’s right – even after seeing the highlights and knowing the results, I still watched replays of most of the games throughout the week if I was home. I don’t watch TV shows as much as others – I watch sports. And read. I have my shows, but I think there’s probably less than 10 TV shows I watch regularly in the course of a year. So I saw almost every Carolina game, and I saw most of the 49ers games as well.

Why did I bring this up? Because Cam’s numbers actually came over the course of entire games; he did not pad his stats in blow out losses as implied by Smith. All of the scrutiny by the entire sports media, yet no one has brought up this supposed reality until Smith? Bullcrap. I watched the games. I KNOW better. Stats without context make for people speaking without actual knowledge of the subject matter.

However – stats WITH context are used by knowledgeable folks all the time. After I made this point to my friend – about watching the games and seeing Cam do it throughout, not just at the end – I decided to look up what my own eyes saw. Bingo – the eyes don’t lie. This is what I found (again, anyone can feel free to look these things up and prove me wrong):

Out of ten losses, the Carolina Panthers were only blown out in 3. So, they were

Cam Newton sure looked good for a guy with supposedly padded his stats.

in the game in 7 out of 10 losses. Not exactly padding stats in the 2nd half. Overall for the year, the Panthers led in 14 of 16 games, including 10 in the fourth quarter, but of those 10 they won only six. Carolina finished 6-10 and behind Newton’s offensive production upped its scoring average from 12.2 points per game in 2010 to 25.4 points per game in 2011. Newton completed 60 percent of his passes for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns, with 17 interceptions, and he rushed 126 times for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns, the most for a quarterback in NFL history.

So, just look at that for a second. Soak those statistical facts, that I saw with my own eyes, in. And also realize – Newton is one of the rare QBs who had more TDs than interceptions in his rookie year, and of those interceptions, some of them were FORCED in an effort to win. One could argue had he had an even average NFL defense, you could lower the INTs by about 5-7 in number.

Do you now realize that Smith’s words and implications aren’t just off – they’re literally ABSURD?!? Like…literally. ABSURD. To quote Skip Bayless, Smith’s assertion is “asiNINE, asiTEN, asiELEVEN…”

From a man’s standpoint, what Smith did was what some of us call “b***ha$$ness”. This isn’t a case of a defensive player throwing a jab at a rival, like James Harrison saying something about Joe Flacco, or Ray Lewis talking about Eddie George. Rivals talk crap about each other, tweak each other, etc. – it’s par for the course. But one thing you don’t see – you don’t see QBs randomly throwing each other under the bus. Think about it – with Tebow-mania last year, how many active QBs did you hear say anything negative about him? For the 5 years Brett Favre fought LeBron James as the biggest attention-whore in all of sports, how many active QBs talked bad about him? Anyone ever hear a current QB chime in on Tony Romo when everyone else is grilling him?

No. Because you don’t do that. You’re all QBs – you understand. You know the deal. You’re part of the same fraternity. Leave that to the media, analysts, ex-players, etc. But QBs don’t trash other QBs. Even ESPN anchor Trey Wingo said in reference to this “Keep my name out your mouth” (editorializing what he thought Cam’s thoughts should be on this).

So yes – like I said above…Alex Smith is a b***h. The question I posed before – why did he do this? Well – I can’t prove this, and I may never be able to – but it’s what I think…

Because of good ol’ jealousy and bias.

Let me be clear so there’s no misunderstanding – I’m 100% saying Cam Newton’s race had to do with this. Absolutely. I can’t prove this, and I’m pretty positive if this was brought up in the larger media conversation, Smith would eventually deny it as completely untrue. We’d get the obligatory stories of how many Black teammates he’s had, the great relationships he’s had with Black players and people he knows, what he’s done in charity that involved Black folks…etc. You’d have Black teammates stepping up to speak up for the guy, no doubt. Just like if your co-worker said something negative about a Black employee that you suspected was rooted subconsciously (or consciously) in racial bias or prejudice, there are probably many who wouldn’t see it as that – and probably a small number who would.

But I simply don’t believe he would’ve mentioned Andy Dalton’s name if HE had the same season and stats as Cam. You know who ACTUALLY had the type of season Smith described? One with good stats that were padded late in games? Philip Rivers. Know how I know? I had him on a fantasy team. Every single week, I’d look at how he was performing during his games, pissed that it was the 3rd quarter and his stats were anemic. I tried to trade him all year – couldn’t get a good deal back. Everyone low-balled me. But you know what? Come the 4th quarter, Rivers’ stats would improve considerably. This didn’t occur in every game, but A LOT of them. By the end of the game, I had somehow squeezed out at least 250-300 yards and a couple of TDs out of a guy who went into the 3rd quarter barely over the century mark. Note – Rivers threw for over 4,000 last year as well; he actually had 4,624 to Cam’s 4,051.

Why didn’t Smith mention Rivers? Who is a veteran QB who was literally criticized for under-performing in the first half of most of his games during the course of the year NUMEROUS times?? Why didn’t he name Tony Romo – who had the same criticisms? Cam didn’t get that criticism all year, and his games and stats were broke down meticulously every week.

Competitive nature, you speculate? Hmm – Cam Newton has never played a single down against the 49ers. Not in last year’s preseason. Not in last year’s regular season. Nor are they scheduled to meet this season, either. It’s completely possible Smith has never even been within 25 miles of Newton. Ever.

They have never been in the same division. They’ve never had any historical rivalry. Smith’s college, Utah, has never had any beef with Newton’s schools (Florida and Auburn). This is like me talking about the director of marketing at my job – I’ve never met the guy (or woman).

Newton popped into a QB’s head who doesn’t have any relationship with due to the fact that he’s a Black QB who bucked what he was “supposed” to do (which was have a crappy season, NOT torch the league and it’s records). I don’t expect many to agree, because in my experience many people need blatantly racist or prejudiced words or actions to believe that as a possibility – but as someone who has watched this game my entire life and who is sensitive to these subtle digs at certain players – that’s what I see. In fact, in writing this article, I tried to think of the many players who have had racial digs or underlying slick comments directed at them…and it was easier for me to think of the Black pro QBs I can think of who I’ve never heard anything like that for. You know who they are?

Vince Evans (only when he played for the Raiders) and Charlie Batch. That’s it. Literally. And I’m not even saying it never happened with them – I just never heard or read it in regards to both.Those are the only 2 Black pro QBs out of 30+ years of watching football that I can think of like that.

Cam’s used to this crap by now. In fact, if I was him, I’d end each press conference by saying “Your daughters love me” – just to see how many people’s heads explode at the thought.

It’s completely speculative that Smith’s comments are born out of a bit of jealousy and racial animus, and unless he decides to become a much more vocal presence in media, we may never know either way. I just know the facts and circumstances I’ve laid out here. Newton, who by this point is beyond used to shade being thrown his way, I’m sure ain’t sweatin’ this much. But I felt like someone needed to actually refute the implications and insinuations put out by Smith (I’ve encountered no articles doing so to the degree I have), and to put some speculation as to why Smith would even purse his lips to say Cam’s name.

What Smith needs to do, really, is man up and SHUT THE F*** UP. Had he said the same about Philip Rivers, my opinion would be the same as far as him throwing another QB under the bus – you don’t do that. Accept that you’re being questioned about your statistics because you’ve been a mediocre QB almost your entire career, and you’re a #1 draft pick who has had the likes of Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey, Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill, J.T. O’Sullivan, Chris Weinke and Troy Smith start OVER you in your career thus far. A guy who was going to be CUT after the 2009 season until you agreed to re-structure your contract to remain on the team. A guy whose team has tried to bring a QB to replace you 2 years in a row. A guy who completed only 46% of your passes in the NFC Championship loss to the NY Giants.

A guy who will NEVER be as good of a QB as Cam Newton is already. Because if Newton had your team – they might have won the Super Bowl. And Newton wouldn’t have been classless enough to throw anyone under the bus when asked about improving his game – since he’s been asked about it already, and thus far, has simply said he’s working to get better.

Sad to say – but Alex Smith could learn a lot by watching a former rookie/2nd year player if he could get over himself. As it stands, he just added himself to the “athletes I don’t like” team. And even on that squad – he’s not good enough to be a starter. Something I’m sure he’s used to.

THIS is the Alex Smith I’ve known for the better part of 6 seasons.

Hello, everyone. Happy New Year to all who have read or kept up with Shoot, Pass, Quibble! since this blog’s inception. Admittedly, in the waning weeks and months of 2011, my writing trailed off due to becoming increasingly busy in life, and not really wanting to keep up with things as much as I’d like in terms of daily writing. However, if you were on Facebook and had added the SPQ page, you know that I often posted various sports articles, news bits, blogs and updates – and provided commentary and opinion on those things posted.

I thank you all for keeping up with SPQ, and hope to be able to offer articles and insight on a more regular basis in 2012. Having a blog is indeed like having a second job – but I do enjoy it.

I won’t rehash stories and subjects that have obviously been dealt with, written about, and talked about – but here are my thoughts on a few things:

  • It’s been so gratifying to see Cam Newton break all types of rookie records and be one of the biggest stars in the NFL this season. I LOVE that all these chumps had to shut their mouths since about week 5 about him when they had written the book about him. I also love the shine Tim Tebow got, although it’s very clear – he has a lot to learn at the QB position. Still, I love the kid’s moxie and leadership.
  • Good offensive coordinator. BAD coach.

    I find it inexplicable that I know a handful of people who actually think Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey is good at his job. Like…it’s not even close. And if you look back, I SAID what would hurt the Bills in the long run would be coaching. I don’t want to hear they had injuries – EVERY team had injuries. The NY Giants lost almost their entire starting defense, and lost their TE, starting RB, and both starting WRs at different points this season. They won the NFC East. No, Chan sucks. No qualifier.

    Any time you put together consecutive loss streaks of at least 7 games in back-to-back seasons? Only a delusional person can defend that, in my opinion.

  • Now that the NBA is back, don’t believe the hype that the older teams will all suck and the teams with younger players will dominate. It will be hard, but if they can avoid injuries – the veteran-heavy teams will be able to maintain.
  • You’re a complete fool if you’re one of the people who subscribes to the belief that Kobe Bryant has “lost it”. Not a single NBA coach or GM would agree with you.
  • I don’t care about the BCS title game. At all. That may sound crazy to some, but I truly have no desire to see a LSU-Alabama rematch. I stopped watching the first game at halftime.
  • Though some might call me biased because it’s my alma mater…if you haven’t had a chance to see #1 Syracuse play basketball, you need to. They are by far the best team in the country. This may be the best complete squad Jim Boeheim has ever had. And that says A LOT – because he’s had some killer squads.
  • Color me tickled that people argued with me that both Tiki Barber and Terrell Owens would be on NFL rosters this season – when I said before the season began there was no chance…
  • The Oakland Raiders collapse to give up the AFC West was truly horrible. I’m hoping coach Hue Jackson cleans house on defense, which was horrible all year long.
  • It’s not true sports, but rather “sports entertainment…but the few times The Rock has appeared in WWE in the past year HAS  to have been the most entertaining moments for the company in years. Dude is just fantastic in front of a camera…and his feud with wrestler John Cenahas provided some of the best comedy in years…
  • The Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant issue will pop up again at some point this season. Count on it. Westbrook just doesn’t get it.
  • I don’t know how Time Warner can possibly justify dropping MSG, when it plays Knicks, Rangers and Sabres games. People are NOT happy about that. Luckily, I have DirecTV – so I not only get MSG, I get multiple MSG channels. But that really stinks for fans of those teams if they have Time Warner.

Well, there you have it – first post of 2012. Like I said – I hope to post more regularly. It’s good to be back – I’m looking forward to the year. As always, feedback is welcome.

Until next time…Shoot, Pass, Quibble.

These were the seats I had for the Oakland Raiders-Buffalo Bills game on Sunday. Life is good.

What up, everyone. Took a few days to myself to handle some business, relax and catch a game. The game in question didn’t turn out the way I wanted – the Buffalo Bills beat my beloved Oakland Raiders 38-35 – but it wound up being honestly one of the greatest regular season pro football games I’ve ever seen. The atmosphere, along with the game, was unbelievable!

So much to discuss over the past few days – so let’s get to it…

  • What’s that, you say? Cam Newton passed for 400+ yards again?

    All Cam Newton has done is set NFL records and lead his team in rushing - as a rookie.

    Against the defending Super Bowl champions? Uh-huh – after my article last week, a few heads still wanted to debate with me about him, still listening to “the experts” in the media. Again – I’m the only expert you need to listen to. Because I have no agenda, and have no problem admitting I’m wrong.

People can say whatever they like – every time this kid goes out to play in the National Football League, he makes history – literally. He’s only the 7th player in NFL history to post back-to-back 400 yard games. Oh, the chumps experts want to point out he threw 3 INTs and the team didn’t win – and?? 2 of those INTs were by all-world corner Charles Woodson, who does that against anyone. And last I checked, Cam doesn’t play defense. His team was in a position to win, and that’s more than anyone expected. If a person can’t give it up to him at this point, when Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers was gushing about dude after the game – well, I already know what category to put you in.

  • The Buffalo Bills are for real. Oh, don’t get it twisted – I’m not putting them in Super Bowl contention yet. And this is Buffalo – they’re playing above their ability for what they have. But that’s the point – they’re playing above their ability. They’ve got heart, and 3 superb, underrated players at the skill positions – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson and WR Stevie Johnson. The defense is suspect, but if they get it together – watch out. This is unquestionably THE surprise team of the young NFL season. You’ve gotta give them props – Kansas City may be awful, but beating a high-octane Raiders team – and doing so by driving it down at the end to win on a 4th down play? Consider me very impressed.
  • Floyd Mayweather Part 1: This chump has been on the lips of everyone since the debacle Saturday night. Let me start with the fight – um, hello? You people are still paying for PPV boxing matches?? Tsk, tsk. Someone asked me did I want to chip in to “get the fight” and I laughed. Look – for you slower people out there – most major boxing matches on PPV will either (A) not live up to the pre-fight hype, (B) end in a debacle or fiasco (like this one), (C) make you realize that paying for it was a complete waste of money, or (D) prove all 3 things I listed correct at the same time. I, like many others, watched that joint for free.99 on the Internet – and to be honest, I wasn’t going to watch it. I only logged on because I needed something to watch before a new episode of “Bleach” came on Cartoon Network at midnight…

Floyd won - but he didn't win the way an all-time great would.

  • Floyd Mayweather Part 2: Floyd won like a sucka. For real. Oh, I’ve heard it all – Victor Ortiz was being dirty with the headbutts, so he had it coming (there’s no question he was dirty, that’s not my point). That’s what a lot of people are saying to try to justify Floyd’s sucker punches. But here’s the thing – Victor Ortiz isn’t remotely in Floyd’s class. I’d expect a hyped-up, over-matched bum like this guy to try something dirty once he started getting his arse kicked. Even so, he was caught, and a point was taken away. Floyd deliberately caught him as he was breaking embrace from an “apology hug”. Was it legal? Sure – ref had deducted the point, and had restarted the match. But the ref wasn’t even looking himself. Floyd engaged in giving the hug, then snuffed him. Meaning he knew what he wanted to do.

And my thing is this – regardless of the legality of the punches, I’ve watched

Does this look like the face of a guy distraught about losing? I'd smile too if I made millions and went home with her after the fight...

boxing my entire life. Watched footage of the greats, read up on it – the whole nine. I’ve never seen a great fighter have to do that to win. That was wack, especially seeing how easily he was winning the fight. And the only people I see defending it are Floyd fans. This is a big reason I have this blog – I’m honestly one of the few people I know who can talk about sports without any bias kicking in for teams or players I like.

To those who disagree, ask yourself this – if the situation was reversed, and Ortiz beat Floyd by quickly knocking him out after an embrace when he wasn’t ready to fight – would you honestly have the same opinion you do now in defending Floyd? Because, if you’re actually being honest with yourself – I’m betting 99% of those who disagree would be upset and calling Ortiz a cheap punk, even if Floyd had head-butted him first.

  • Floyd Mayweather, Part 3: I almost made this subject a separate blog by itself…but I’ll address it here. I was, and still am, completely mortifiedby the comments and reactions to Mayweather screaming in

    There is no excuse for Mayweather's disgusting display of disrespect and ignorance.

    an old man’s face (Larry Merchant) after the fight. The justification by the classless fans of Floyd is that Merchant often says critical things about Floyd. Um – so? And?? So let me get this straight – anyone paid to offer analysis and opinion about sports should be subject to intimidation, disrespect and cursing on live TV?? Larry Merchant is 80 years-old. I don’t know about the cretins who support and think this was funny, but I was raised to respect my elders. If Floyd has a problem with how Merchant talks about him (newsflash – most of the media talks negatively about Floyd), then he could’ve ended it when he said “Go talk to Victor”. That’s it – end the interview. That would have actually been more effective, because then Merchant would have to answer to his bosses as to why he couldn’t get an interview with the new champ after a fight – and those bosses would’ve more than likely either made Merchant ease up in the future, or not allowed him to do future interviews.

But screaming “You ain’t (spit)!!” in an old man’s face is the most classless, disgusting thing I’ve ever seen a boxer do in an interview. Hell, I can’t really think of any athlete doing that before. By comparison, I posted a blog applauding Chris Bosh, who faced incessant detractor Skip Bayless face-to-face. Bayless has said much more and way worse about Bosh – yet Bosh exhibited a calm demeanor and addressed him head-on. I gained a huge amount of respect for Bosh.

Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Bill Russell – hell, even Barry Bonds in recent history – have faced way worse scrutiny and had much worse said and written about them. The things they had to deal with were really disrespectful, not just negative critiques of their abilities within the sport. They had to deal with the worst things said and done to them and the people around them. Guess what? NONE OF THEM (or others) ever reacted this way. And they might’ve actually been justified in doing so; and I suppose many would understand. So the excuse that Merchant had that type of thing coming falls short to an intelligent writer with manners and decorum.

No – I’ll say it flat-out – Floyd’s actions were the actions of a PUNK, and were classless, disrespectful, and disgusting. And those who support and cheer such action – I think you’re classless, disrespectful, and disgusting. And I think you didn’t get proper home training.

We as a society have embraced ignorance so much, we can’t even recognize it when it manifests itself. Some of us actually applaud such garbage. And those that do – I find your mindsets to be sick. Nuff said.

  • The news that Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be joining the ACC obviously sent shockwaves through the college sports world. As a SU alum, it feels like a punch to the gut – I’ve been a Big East head my entire life. This doesn’t make much sense – the money each school will get will be a miniscule increase over what they both already get. While it obviously makes the ACC a beast in all sports, especially basketball and football, it actually hurts my alma mater – our football program is rebuilding. We’re not even one of the best teams in a weak Big East football conference – so now we’re going to the ACC, with Pitt, Miami, Maryland, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia AND Boston College?? We go from rebuilding to being a football doormat. That team that everyone circles on the schedule and goes “Well, that’s a definite win.” And I don’t want to BE that school.

SU basketball coach Jim Boeheim isn’t happy about it, either: “If conference commissioners were the founding fathers of this country, we would have Guatemala, Uruguay and Argentina in the United States. This audience knows why we are doing this. There’s two reasons: Money and football.” Yup, Jim. And for me, what hurts even more – my school and Pitt conspired to do this. The ACC approached both schools a year ago, and put this in motion back then. SU and Pitt, 2 crucial members of the Big East (SU helped found the conference, for heaven’s sake), worked with the ACC to keep it a secret and put the wheels in motion. Do you guys know how hard it is to keep something like this a secret for a year in the information age?? No one knew anything about this?? Unbelievable. And there’s rumors the ACC wants UConn and Texas next. Smh…

  • So word is Terrell Owens is in Korea right now looking for a stem cell treatment he couldn’t get here in the states. Let’s call this for what it is – the desperate actions of a desperate man. Owens is in major financial trouble according to reports, in part due to his multiple kids with multiple mothers, and his lack of desire to pay support for the children or to even have a relationship with them. I feel no sorrow for him, and hope he doesn’t ever get a shot in the NFL again. He’s a team-killer, and has caused problems to every team he’s been on (except Cincinnati last year). He and Tiki Barber are getting what they deserve, in my opinion.
  • The NBA players union and the NBA are scheduled to have some of their lower level reps meet this week to hammer out a deal. Expect nothing to happen of note.
  • Jamaal Charles, Nick Collison, Thomas Davis and Roscoe Parrish – come on down! You’re the next contestants on “Injuries Linked To The NFL Lockout!!”…
  • Anytime you enter the game to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" - you know you're pretty much THE MAN.

    Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer ever – officially. Rivera has 5 championships in 17 seasons with the Yankees, and his story is literally that of a legend. I truly think you could make a movie about this guy’s life, and it’d be a huge hit. I won’t detail everything – you can read his bio here – but I’ll just say as a fellow Panamanian, this man truly makes me proud – on and off the field.

  • Saturday night is UFC 135, headlined by the light heavyweight championship between champion Jon Jones and challenger Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Who you guys got in that match? I’m going with the champ, even though I love Jackson.
  • Congrats to the Phoenix Mercury for defeating the Seattle Storm to advance to the Western Conference Finals in the WNBA. I think Diana

    The Phoenix Mercury continued their post-season dominance in recent years.

    Taurasi is awesome, so good for her – but I’m mad I don’t get to see Seattle’s Sue Bird play any more. She’s one of my WNBA crushes (along with Swin Cash, Candace Parker and a few others). They’ll await the winner of tonight’s Game 3 between San Antonio and top-seeded Minnesota. In the East, the Indiana Fever will host the Atlanta Dream on Thursday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

That’s all for now. Love to read your reactions…your turn to chime in. Shoot, Pass – Quibble!

By now, everyone has seen the first week of NFL football, and had a chance to read all the headlines and see all the highlights. Most likely, if you’re a really big sports enthusiast like myself, you’ve seen the various shows that offer highlights, opinions and sports analysis. ESPN has a ton of them: “NFL Live”, “Mike & Mike In The Morning”, “Pardon The Interruption”, “ESPN’s First Take” – you name it, they’ve got it. The NFL Network only adds to the madness. And it makes for great entertainment week-to-week between game days.

But as entertaining as these shows and the people on them are, there’s actually a huge problem with this. See, the people on these shows are presented as “experts”, and often, the average fan will take what they say to be gospel – hook, line and sinker. Yes, that means most of you reading this. The absolute truth is – though most people like to think they’re independent thinkers, they really aren’t at all. Those who work in and/or around media know this – the public is easily swayed. A famous phrase in media circles for years: “The truth is what we tell them it is.”

Why does this matter? Because the people talking on these shows can create things that then somehow become reality just because they say it is. Case in point?

Cam Newton.

Ever since this kid came to national prominence, all I’ve heard from certain circles is what he couldn’t do, what he’s seemingly incapable of. Now, while I watch these shows and pick up insight on things at times, I am not like the average viewer. It’s a lot harder for these shows and the people on them to get me to take what they say as absolute truth if I don’t already see what they’re talking about. The most I’ll do is note what they said, and watch to see if their analysis holds merit. So hearing this garbage made little sense to me as I watched this kid stud it up all over the college football landscape last year. If he’s so bad, how come none of these top teams and coaches could stop him? How come he didn’t lose a game? What was up with that national championship, and all those awards – including the prestigious Heisman trophy??

In comparison, when Peyton Manning was in college tearing up the college landscape in similar fashion, he was universally loved and praised. Am I missing something here??

So yeah – I listened and read. All of it. And none of it made a lick of sense to me. All the questions on the best player in college, yet I listened to the same people praise such lesser guys as Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Andy Dalton. I watch tons of games – so I saw all of these guys play extensively. And I came away impressed by Cam way more than the others.

As for Cam’s alleged “character issues”?? Ryan Mallett had much more serious issues, including rage issues and alleged drug usage. But he got less scrutiny and criticism that I saw in media. Why is that??

For all that the "experts" had to say - all Cam Newton did was go out and and make history in his first start as an NFL quarterback.

Let’s be honest here. And I know there are those who don’t want me to point at that elephant in the room, but it’s hard for me to not notice there’s an elephant in the room – Cam is a young, Black superstar QB. And, as far as we’ve come in terms of Blacks playing the position and being accepted doing so, there is still a stigma that most people of color notice easily. The other QBs I named – none of them had their intelligence questioned, their ability to lead questioned, their character questioned and their ability to “adjust to the pros”. What are you saying – he can handle the simpler level of college, but not the harder responsibilities and challenges of the pros??

Do your history. All those questions have been asked of Blacks any time they’ve been rising in a profession or position held in high esteem and occupied by whites. It’s insulting for me to even hear these questions yearly with whatever top Black QB rises in college football.

So – we hear all this crap about why Cam won’t do well, why he’ll have a terrible year and it’ll take him years to get it, etc. And truth be told, all rookie QBs struggle, so it’s not hard to buy into this hype. So what does Cam do in his first NFL game, against a good NFL defense??

He promptly ties the NFL record for yards thrown in a game by a rookie – set by the great Peyton Manning. Not only that, he threw for 2 TDs and rushed for another. It actually was the most in an opening game for a QB ever.

What happened to Cam not being able to grasp a NFL game? Read defenses? Lead a team? Sure seemed like he did all of that fine.

Oh, the spin doctors – and the sheep who buy their spin – are already quick to say “it’s only one game”. Now use common sense for a second. Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tony Romo and Tom Brady all had great statistical games this week that were praised by these same gurus. Only Brady had a bigger and better performance than Cam. And to get his stats and do it efficiently against a good NFL defense isn’t remotely easy – feel free to look up rookie stats of QBs for the past 20 years NOT named Peyton Manning.

And if you try the argument that he’s a rookie, so he’s not comparable to the list I typed – feel free to listen very carefully to how these same people spoke of Andy Dalton’s first game for the Cincinnati Bengals. Because I did. On multiple shows, radio programs, and I read it on multiple sports sites.

This is a case of a sport myth gaining steam and becoming a reality – and most of you sipping the kool-aid. Those who know me know I’ve been saying for a full year that I don’t buy the Cam bashing, and can’t wait to see him show out to shut the naysayers up. But lest you think this is all about race or my pride as a Black man in defending another Black man…

Let’s look at the curious case of Tim Tebow.

See, I’m also on Team Tebow as well. Tebow’s issue isn’t race; Tebow has been targeted from the jump for being a vocal Christian. Which is funny, because so many people identify themselves as such, but somehow it’s a problem that he’s proud and vocal about it. And a lot of people have commented he’s too good to be true; that there HAS to be something wrong with him. We have a word for those people where I come from – we call them CRABS

In any event, Tebow gets the smear treatment too. And when he was benched this preseason, I heard every moron without a mind of his/her own regurgitating everything you hear the Tebow-detractors spewing. But you see, the Tebow thing is actually more nonsensical than the Cam Newton spin. At least Cam is a rookie; you can expect him to struggle as such. Tebow isn’t, and has played in the league. Somehow, those  games last year where he led the Broncos – and did so WELL – are easily forgotten. Oh, I don’t expect the average fan to remember. Neither do the talking heads on TV – in fact, they count on you not remembering that Tebow has a career QB rating of 82.1. Or that he threw for 654 and ran for 227 last year. Or that he was in ESPN’s “Top Ten Plays” almost every time he played.

Interestingly enough, in last night’s “Monday Night Football” opener, the Denver Broncos’ #1 QB Kyle Orton went out and stunk it up. His stats aren’t too bad in the end, but if you watched the game – he was pretty pathetic. Most of his stats were padded by the final Broncos drive that ended in a score, where he finished 7/11 and threw for a TD. But he was a completely marginal QB; so much so that the fans were calling for Tim Tebow midway through the 3rd quarter. In fact – one could argue the Broncos lost in large part due to the ineffectiveness of Orton. I watched the game and thought one thing:

“Tim Tebow can’t possibly be worse than what I’m seeing.”

No, the Tebow narrative has played out and people (outside of Denver) totally buy into that crap. It doesn’t help that the new coach is inexplicably jerking him around…the players preferred a veteran, so I understand why Orton is starting (the same Kyle Orton who played so shaky last night the crowd was screaming for Tebow halfway through the 3rd quarter of last night’s Denver-Oakland game). But putting him 3rd on the depth chart behind Brady Quinn?? Please. I don’t know what’s up in Denver, but the rumor is Elway is behind these shenanigans. Which is silly and petty to me.

Tim Tebow watched from the sidelines while Kyle Orton stunk it up for the Broncos Monday Night.

I go by what I see. I’ve seen Tebow play, and when he played in the NFL, against NFL teams and defenses, he looked pretty damned good to me. When Cam got his chance to play, he broke records and played better than all-pros did in the same weekend. But I’m supposed to buy the narrative created for each player? Neither one can play, regardless of definitive evidence??

Rubbish. Understand – we live in a time where the sports “experts” are all trying to make their mark by trying to outdo each other with their strong opinions and personalities. Merril Hoge’s tirades against Tebow got him national press and drew people to ESPN to see what he’d say next. Skip Bayless has made a career out of bashing Lebron James, and now is a professional sports rabble-rouser. Jim Rome gained national fame for deliberately aggravating Jim Everett, and getting beat up by Everett as a result live on TV.

Learn to cut through the hype, lies and myths. Until they go out and prove themselves to be good, bad, or ugly (Cam Newton, Jake Delhomme or Jimmy Clausen), stop allowing yourselves to be sucked into buying the myths shoveled out to the public that quickly become unproven realities.

Our first NFL Sunday is in the weekend, and it’s interesting to see the annual tradition of overreaction by the sports nation. Meaning – Bills fans think their team is a Super Bowl contender, Cowboys fans are ready to cut Tony Romo, and Colts fans – well, you guys should be ready to jump off a bridge (really – holy spit). I know few can or will listen, but it’s only one Sunday.

With that said, here’s what’s on my mind after watching the past few days of sports:

  • Major League Baseball gets the absolute FAIL OF THE YEAR for preventing the NY Mets from wearing First Responder hats and paraphernalia last night. On the anniversary of 9/11, with the entire country remembering and observing? Inexcusable. And their excuses were pathetic.  I wasn’t even that big on all the 9/11 televised hoopla, because I feel it was definitely exploited and commercialized by some – but not allowing players and staff to show their respect, IN the city of New York?? I literally want to watch baseball even less than I do now – and I don’t watch a lot as is…
  • I don’t know if the Buffalo Bills are that much better than we thought, or the Kansas City Chiefs or that much worse – but that game was the absolute most shocking game of the day Sunday…
  • I’ve been screaming this for months – but all the so-called experts who swore Cam Newton wasn’t ready to be a QB at the pro level? I’d like you to promptly EAT IT today. It’s not just that he had a good game – he had the greatest opening day by a rookie QB in NFL history. Like – you can’t even spin that into a negative no matter what you try – unless you’re a blithering idiot. Let players PLAY before you decided on who and what they are. The only “expert” you guys should be listening to is…me. Lolz!
  • Serena Williams lost yesterday in a shocking upset to Samantha Stosur in the U.S. Open yesterday. But what bothers me is her on-court tirade against line judge Eva Asderaki during her 2nd set. (S)he went off on the poor judge, verbally abusing her in front of the world. “Aren’t you the one who screwed me over last time?” Sir Rena asked, confusing her with a different judge in a past match. Williams was upset because the judge penalized her for yelling “C’MON!!” while play was still going on after she unleashed a forehand that Stosur was unable to reach. But the rules state the judge acted 100% correctly. Didn’t stop Sir Rena from calling the judge a “hater”, calling her “unattractive inside”, and offering a veiled threat of “you might want to walk the other way if you see me in the hallway”.  She ended her tirade with “Really – don’t even look at me.”

This isn’t the first time dude has gone off in matches, and as you can probably tell – I’m not a fan. At all. She’s now under investigation by U.S. Open tournament officials and was issued with a code violation for verbally abusing an official. Williams is currently under probation for her foul-mouthed tirade during her 2009 U.S. Open semi-final loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters. She was fined $82,500 and warned that the fine would be doubled and she could be suspended from other grand slams if she committed another “major offense” in the next two years. The probation was due to expire after the U.S. Open.

I for one hope she gets the suspension, but it’s unlikely. The Williams Sisters are major draws and moneymakers, and the officials sat impotently by as she did this at the time. They’ve already been berated by the men, and these officials are essentially weak. But as someone who actually watches women’s tennis, not just the ESPN highlights – curbing this brat is long overdue.

  • Sucks to be the St. Louis Rams – RB Steven Jackson, QB Sam Bradford, WR Danny Amendola and OT Jason Smith all left yesterday’s loss to Philly with injuries. Amendola may be gone or the season; the others – we’ll have to see the severity on the injuries. For a team with so much promise, losing your 4 best players at each position in the first game is heartbreaking…
  • No, really – did the Indianapolis Colts think signing fossilized Kerry Collins would be good? Indy runs the most complicated offense in the AFC, and possibly the league. They’d have been better off with Curtis Painter – at least he knows the system. And the players preferred him. Oh well – get used to seeing them losing. I feel no sorrow – the Indy owner was instrumental in the NFL lockout. The same lockout that prevented Peyton Manning from being treated by team medical staff, which would have had him recovered and ready to start the season.
  • The Michigan-Notre Dame game was the epitome of exciting football. Watching Michigan QB Denard Robinson go wild on the leprechauns and win it with just 8 seconds left (spectacular corner pass) was phenomenal.
  • Michigan wasn’t the only team to pull out a nail-biter in college football. The South Carolina-Georgia game, Ohio State-Toledo game and Iowa State-Iowa game were just 3 examples of a day full of close, exciting wins…
  • An excerpt from ex-Laker GM Jerry West’s upcoming book reveals that he and coach Phil Jackson had no relationship whatsoever in the only season they worked together for the Los Angeles Lakers. He contends Phil had no respect towards him. Interesting…
  • Speaking of the NBA, NBA lockout talks have picked up, and both sides have clammed up. There are reports that progress is being made, and that union president Derek Fisher has been texting players telling them to be in-shape and ready for a season. I’m on-record as saying I didn’t think there would be a NBA season. If the season were to start on-time – I think that would be the unlikely occurrence of the year in 2011…

I’m interested to hear all of your thoughts on the sports weekend. What stood out to you?? Make your voice heard – chime in!!!