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Ran-DUMB-Football-Thoughts (1-28-10)

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As the NFL’s season draws to a close there are a few things in the football world that I would love to touch on. So here are my “Ran-DUMB” football thoughts. 

NFL: 

When Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers brain trust decided to hand the team over to Aaron Rodgers, and eventually trade Brett Favre to the Jets, many Packers fans were worried. How could they turn the franchise over to an unproven player when the man who helped resurrect the franchise still wants to play? Will Rodgers be any good? Will he be able to play out of Brett Favre’s shadow? 

The answer is an unequivocal yes, and not only an unequivocal yes, but he may have exceeded all the expectations many Packers fans had for him. 

Rodgers became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in his first two seasons as a starting quarterback. He also has led an offense that had a 1,200 yard rusher (Ryan Grant) and two 1,000 yard receivers (Donald Driver and Greg Jennings) two straight years. Rodgers has shown the toughness and leadership needed to be a successful NFL signal caller. 

 

Rodgers has become the brightest star of the NFL’s young quarterbacks. He made the Pro Bowl in 2010 (and will start the game), but isn’t indicative to the type player he is destined to become. Rodgers is more Joe Montana then Brett Favre. He shows that “Joe Cool” attitude in time of duress.  Rodgers isn’t the risk taking, gun slinger Favre is,  he would rather use his “check downs” or throw the ball away then throw an interception.  

The NFL has their standard bearers as quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, with Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers right behind them. But Aaron Rodgers name will soon be mentioned with them, if it isn’t already. The Green Bay Packers hierarchy made the right decision in letting Favre go and making Rodgers the Packers starter.   

As a life long Packers fan I was upset Brett Favre went to the Vikings. To me that would be like Magic Johnson playing for the Celtics, Michael Jordan for the Pistons or Derek Jeter in a Red Sox uniform. But I didn’t wish him harm nor do I hold any ill will towards Favre because after all, he was a free agent and had the desire to play (still). 

I didn’t like (and still don’t like) the way he has handled his retirement(s), but who am I to judge? I think both the Packers and the Favre camp handled his exit from Green Bay equally wrong, but for both sides, it was time to move on (especially if he wanted to continue to play and the Packers wanted to have Rodgers as the starter).  

Did it hurt to see him in a Viking uniform? Yes. But I understood that in pro sports players are a business inside a business and they have to do what they feel is best for them in the short and long-term. In pro sports there is no loyalty by the owners to players and vice versa. The fans of those teams are the only one with loyalty and expect players and teams to show that same loyalty to each other, and that rarely happens. 

 

That being said, I will admit that I was glad to see Favre have a very good year and only wanted him to not play his best when he and the Vikings played against the Packers. Sorry,  I can’t forget 16 years of service to the team I am dedicated to, but I didn’t want to see the Vikings have the team success they had either (my disdain for the Vikings runs deep, no matter who is on the team). I root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. So when they lost in the NFC title game it was bittersweet for me. 

But it is that time of the year again, will he or won’t he. The “Favre Watch” is in full swing (again). 

I won’t act like I know something nobody else knows, so I won’t try to predict what Favre will do. But I do know for nearly 20 years of my life I have had the pleasure of watching one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. A player that has shown both physical and mental toughness never seen before by a pro athlete. 

If this was his last year, thanks Favre. Thanks for showing the fans one last time that the “good ole’ boy from Kiln” can still sling the pigskin. If it is not, then I wish you a healthy off-season and personal success in 2010 (except when you play the Packers). But either way it goes, please, for the sake of NFL fans everywhere, MAKE A DECISION AND STICK WITH IT NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT IT IS! 

I am torn on the NFL Pro Bowl situation. I would rather see it in Hawaii, like it has been since 1980. I am not sure about when to play the game. I know I dislike the game being played the week before the Super Bowl leaving some of the best players out of the game (if the are playing in the Super Bowl). But I also disliked the game the week after since it was nothing more than a All-Star pre season game. I think that the NFL should make the Pro Bowl happen during the Hall Of Fame weekend. This way the greatest of the great are able to watch the past seasons greats. 

The two best and most consistent teams in the NFC and AFC are in the Super Bowl. I have no issues with either of these teams playing for the Lombardi Trophy since they both had the best records in their respective conferences. I don’t have my prediction ready yet (that will be in next weeks Ran-DUMB-Football-Thoughts) but I will share this thought. I fully expect it to be one of the highest scoring Super Bowls in history.  

During the NFC title game, in the 4th quarter with well under a minute left an interesting thing happened, the Vikings called a timeout. When they came out to huddle they had 12 men in the huddle, Favre noticed it and tried to call another timeout (but NFL rules state teams can not do that) so they were penalized 5 yards and were out of Ryan Longwell’s field goal range. So, on third down and 15 the Vikings were forced to try and throw for the 5 yards and we all know how that ended up. 

 

While Favre threw the pick, and that was his fault, make no mistake about it, it was head coach Brad Childress fault the Vikings were even in that situation. As the head coach you are responsible for your personnel, and who goes where and when, and he failed at that during the Vikings biggest moment (arguably) in franchise history.   

Childress is a desperate coach (just look at how he handled the Favre situation from the beginning). He parlayed his teams (and Favre’s) success in the regular season into a contract extension. He has (in critical games) choked. If I was Ziggy Wilf, the Vikings owner, I would keep a close eye on “Chilly”. With names like Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher still unemployed ( both also have Super Bowl rings) and questions at the quarterback position, I would expect him to have somewhat of a hot seat if the Vikings take a step back in 2010. 

The Oakland Raiders are a proud franchise with a great tradition. Al Davis is a major reason the Raiders have had so much success. He was a revolutionary, visionary and a maverick all at the same time. He was a keen talent evaluator and a person that loved to go against the NFL grain (and Pete Rozell). 

But that was a long time ago. 

Today the Raiders are one of the laughing stocks of the NFL and have a team full of team cancers and over paid players. I was told that current and former players (like Derrick Burgess) got into some of the younger, more talented players heads and have had a negative impact on them. It is also known in NFL circles that most of the players are in Oakland just to collect a check (JaMarcus Russell) and are unwilling to put forth any effort to become a “professional”.  

 

The drafting is another issue. While Mr. Davis has an eye for talent, I am afraid to say that until he hires a person to run the player personnel department and allows him to run the draft, the Raiders will be in also ran in the NFL.  

I respect Al Davis and admire him for many reasons (football and non-football). I love his loyalty and commitment to excellence. He is not afraid to go against the grain to get what he wants, another Super Bowl championship. But until he gets rid of the “bad apples” and hires a capable person to run the player personnel department, I am afraid the Raiders fans are in for a long wait until their next Super Bowl win.  

The NFL has been the best pro sport when it comes to labor relations but hard times maybe looming for the NFL. The owners elected to opt-out of the CBA making the NFL fans very nervous. The NFLPA says they will not accept a salary-cap or a rookie pay scale, two things that the owners want. The salary-cap is what makes the NFL great because it allows every team the opportunity to play on an “even field”. The rookie pay scale would also be good because there is no way JaMarcus Russell should ever make more money than Tom Brady or Drew Brees before even playing an NFL game. 

I have heard various things when it comes to the CBA, but most reports have the two sides far apart. I may be in the minority, but I think both sides know how important labor peace is and will get a deal done in the 11th hour. 

The 2010 NFL Draft process is in full swing with the Shrine game and the Senior Bowl. NFL teams are looking for their next star and player that will hopefully lead them to a Super Bowl victory. So as one friend put it “the meat market is open for business”! 

In the next two and a half months we will hear draft experts talk about verts, red flags and of course the players 40 times. But the thing that gets over looked every year (by non-NFL G.M.’s) is what a player does on film. As a “draftnik” I have learned that the film doesn’t lie. What you see a player do on film is what they will most likely do while playing for your favorite team on Sundays (and Mondays).  

We will see a player rise up the draft boards of Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr, Mike Mayock and others based on what they do at the combine. Those workout warriors will be drafted why to high and be way over paid. I will continue to do my Packers and NFL mock drafts up until the eve of the draft. 

But the draft is a time for teams and their fans to have a new sense of hope. Teams that draft well are normally contending for a Super Bowl within a few years and the ones who don’t are set back a few years. The NFL has made a change to the draft by making it a four-day event. Round 1 will take place in prime time on Thursday, April 22nd, rounds two and three Friday the 23rd, followed by Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 24. 

NCAA Football: 

In a week many of the nation’s top high school football players will make their decision on where they will play football (and get their educations) for the next three or four years. Their choices will be televised on ESPN, ESPNU, ESPNews and FOXSports T.V. stations. We already have seen two high school all-star games where some of those top prospects made their decisions. Even though I watch them and follow them, it is a shame we (as sports fans) make these high school kids “stars” before they even play a down in college. 

I am just as guilty as many others when it comes to following these young men and where they are being recruited. But the difference between me know and me ten years ago is I don’t get mad when they don’t choose the school I want them to go to. Instead I remind myself that these are 17, 18 and 19-year-old kids trying to make sure they have a bright future after their football days are over. 

I also dislike that the NCAA makes these same kids honor their contracts, excuse me, letter of intent, when they don’t make the college head coaches honor their own contracts. These same coaches come into living rooms across the country and make promises to the kids and their parents and then up and leave 10 months later for another college job. If a kid commits and the coach leaves, those same kids should be able to leave as well. 

But this is the NCAA, the same people who make billions of dollars off the NCAA Mens Basketball tournament but feel a NCAA playoff wouldn’t work. This is the same NCAA which was once led by the President of Indiana University who hired a basketball coach who broke NCAA rules more than once and when he did it at Indiana, gave themselves a slap on the wrist. 

Much is being said about Tim Tebow’s commercial during the Super Bowl. As a person that felt Tebow was over hyped, I commend him. He is a man who knows who is and stands by his convictions. He is a man who is not ashamed to say he is a Christian and proclaim his love for Jesus Christ as his lord and savior. 

Tebow may or may not be a bust as a pro player but what he did in college football may have him go down as the greatest college football player ever. Not only is he the type of player coaches love to coach, but he is the type of person that the NCAA loved to have represent them. A fierce competitor on the field and now a fierce competitor for Christianity. Tim Tebow may or may not be a first round pick in the NFL, but he seems to be a first round pick in character and class. 

CBS has the right to run ANY AD that they want regardless of what N.O.W. or any other organization has to say about it. The organization that paid for the ad has the right to speak about what they want in the ad. If N.O.W. or any other organization doesn’t like it, buy an ad to counter it. CBS can not (and will not according to FCC law) decline to run their ad. 

I am taken back by the audacity and pompous attitudes of the organizations that oppose the ad. We have the right to listen to ANY THING we want to, including their views on abortion. How dare they DEMAND to CBS that they not run the ad? Are they the heads of CBS? Who are they to say what we the public has a right to hear or not hear? Last time I checked we were living in a society that has freedom of speech. 

We have T.V. stations that report news far to the left and far to the right. We have news reports that are more like a news companies editorials. They don’t report the news, they report their version of the news. I commend CBS for not pulling the Tebow’s ad. I think that message needs to be heard and it may effect a person or two in a way that may have them rethink their own situation. 

As a person that works in radio and understands how “political rates” work, I know for sure that CBS has given N.O.W. and every other opposing group the right to pay for their own ad, if not they would be in violation of the FCC and would face a hefty fine. It’s time for them (the opposing groups) to put up or shut up.  

To Tim Tebow and his mother, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and good luck in your crusade. 

Joe Arrigo 

joeslockerroom@yahoo.com

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Written by Joe Arrigo

January 27, 2010 at 23:53

Ran-DUMB Sports Thoughts (1-21-10)

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Good day to you on this rainy Southern California afternoon. I hope you are doing well and staying dry (for everyone in California). The sports world is still going full speed ahead and I have some ran-DUMB thoughts about it.

NFL Playoffs:

The “final four” are set. The Saints and Vikings will go at it to see who will represent the NFC, and they should. All year they have been the two best teams in the NFC and deserve to be there. Brett Favre has had a great year, and good for him. I did not like how he handled himself during his last days in green Bay (and I didn’t like how they treated him either), but it is nice to see him play at a high level at 40 years old.

Drew Brees is playing out of his mind. He has been for the last 4 years where he leads in all major quarterback categories (except TD’s where he is tied with Peyton Manning).  Is he a Hall of Famer? I think he has a better case then Kurt Warner, especially if the Saints win the Super Bowl.

I think the keys to the game will be Bernard Berrian for the Vikings and Pierre Thomas for the Saints. Both are players that get forgotten behind the “big names” like Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Marcus Colston. But have major roles in their teams offense. If Berrian can free up and get deep that will open the middle of the field for Harvin and if Thomas can run the ball effectively then that will Brees with their passing game.

My prediction is Saints will win in a shoot out. I think the Vikings secondary is not as good as the Saints receiver depth and passing attack. Favre will have a good game I suspect, but I also think this is the end of his career. I say 45-38 Saints.

In the AFC I caught hell for saying the Jets were going to be a 9 win team and battle for a playoff spot in my early predictions, but I was right on and they made it. Mark Sánchez (or the “Sanchize”) has done a very good job in the post season thus far, especially for a rookie. But the Jets will need Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene to have a big day and Braylon Edwards to not drops passes.

On the Colts side it all starts with Manning. If the Jets can’t get to him or knock him down, they will be in for a long day. But I think the Colts will have to be able to run the ball in order to make the Jets not “peel their ears back” and rush Manning. Darrelle Revis will be matched up on Reggie Wayne, and if he can take away one side of the field, Manning may have some trouble.

As far as the keys, I will go with the key match up. Revis vs Wayne.  Revis has played all world all year and if he can continue to have the success ha has had this post-season, then the Colts will be in trouble. On the other end, I think the it will be Sánchez vs the Colts pass rush. If they can force him into making some rookie decisions, which could be turnovers, then the Jets are in big trouble.

As much as I wasnt to pick the Jets, since they are the underdog and led by a USC guy, I can’t bet against Manning. I like the Colts in a close game, 27-24.

NFL:

Did anyone else notice that Aaron Rodgers may be the starter in the Pro Bowl? Favre normally doesn’t go and Brees may be in the Super Bowl leaving Rodgers to get the start!

Norv Turner did a great job with the Chargers this year, but I don’t think he is the guy to take them to a Super Bowl. He is “to nice” of a guy to enforce any rules. There is no way three players of the Packers, Patriots, Saints, Colts, Dolphins or Eagles would be out less than 48 hours before a playoff game, especially at a strip club. Those teams coaches would not tolerate it and those teams players know it. That is a sign of lack of respect by the Chargers players for the coach and more importantly the team. I know he just got a three-year extension, but if their isn’t a change in discipline by Turner, unless they win the Super Bowl, he would be out after the 2011 season.

The Chargers have some big questions to answer it comes to their own free agents. Darren Sproles, Vincent Jackson and Shawme Merriman are all free agents not to mention LaDainian Tomlison is due a roster bonus, but his play has not been up to par for the past three seasons, so he may have played his last game for the Chargers.

I may be in the minority here, but I think that a new CBA will be hashed out in the 11th hour by the NFL and NFLPA. Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith both know that a work stoppage would hurt the NFL in the short and long-term.

I like the staff Pete Carroll is putting together in Seattle. Pete has a direction he wants the Seahawks to go and he knows who he wants to be apart of making it happen. Besides bringing Jeremy Bates with him to Seattle from USC, the hiring of Alex Gibbs as offensive line coach was a huge hire for him. The Seahawks running game will be one of the best in 2010, watch.

NCAA Football:

I think USC has hired the right guy to replace Carroll in Lane Kiffin. He is brash, cocky and he brought a great staff with him, in particular Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin. “Coach O” brings that swagger and no-nonsense attitude to the Trojans and they need that. But more importantly they are great recruiters.

Ok, I get Tennessee being upset that Kiffin left after a year, but he was up front with the A.D. and said that USC would be the only place he would leave the Volunteers for. But to me, it shows they are upset they lost a guy who was doing a good job rebuilding their program and didn’t want him to leave. They do have a right to be upset, but I find it funny that all these things Kiffin did (like the car accident for example) are just now being brought to light. I say there is a lot of sour grapes on their end.

Brian Kelly is starting to recruit  University of Cincinnati recruits and there is no mention of it, but why are people upset that Kiffin and company are recruiting Tennessee recruits now that they are at USC? They want the best recruits wherever they are coaching, and that means the will be  recruiting the same players whether Kiffin was there or not. Recruits should choose a school for the school, not the coaches.

I will say this about the recruits that stuck with USC through the coaching change, they have character and did a great job of making sure that class stayed together. If that is the type of players that will be representing USC for the next 3 and 4 years, the Trojans will be in good shape.

I like what Jimbo Fisher is doing (as far as recruiting) down at Florida State. But as much a I like what he is doing, I will miss Bobby Bowden.

Let’s stay on Bowden for a second. I think the NCAA made a big time mistake by taking away those 14 wins. They should have let him keep them, in my opinion.

NBA:

The NBA has it all wrong if Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson make it to the All Star game, none the less get starting nods. McGrady and Iverson would be wrong for accepting the invites, knowing that they don’t deserve it.

What happened “King” James? I thought you were all in for the dunk contest? It is a shame that LeBron’s not because even though he wouldn’t have won it (in my opinion), he would have made it interesting.

Keep an eye on Shannon Brown and DeMarr DeRozen as the two players that should be in the finals of the dunk contest.

The East has 4 really good teams, and the rest of the conference is weak, really weak, while the West is loaded. If your not an Orlando, Boston, Cleveland or Atlanta fan, sorry, you’re a mediocre team in a weak conference and wouldn’t even make the playoffs in the West.

 If the Lakers trade Andrew Bynum for Chris Bosh, Mitch Kupchak losses major points. He pulled off a steal in both the Gasol and Brown/Morrison trades, he would be on the other end if this deal were to go through.

Why is Mike Dunlevey still the Clippers head coach and GM? He is horrible and they need to hire a guy that can get the most out of that talent, and there is some on that team. Maybe Byron Scott would be interested in coaching the team that drafted him?

MLB:

I say it again, if I were Bud Selig I would make the McCourts sell the Dodgers. They are handicapping them by their divorce and it is a shame. They have some of the best young talent in the majors and should be a team that can go out and add free agents if they choose, not if the payroll (or lack there of) dictates.

What happened to the Angels being aggressive in free agency? They lost Chone Figgens and John Lackey and added 2 players that have major injury concerns (Joel Pineiro and Hideki Matsui).

I like the signing of Aroldis Chapman by the Reds. If he can put it together (like I think he can) the Reds will have a great young 1-2-3 punch with Chapman, Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez. Just think if Homer Bailey can ever turn it around, the Reds will have a great young staff for a very long time.

Albert Pujols is everything that you would want your young kid to be on the field and off it. Pujols and Derek Jeter are the two classicist men in major league baseball.

NCAA Basketball:

Kentucky’s John Wall will be the number 1 pick in the NBA draft when he decides to come out (2010). He is lightning quick with great court vision, great leaping ability and he shows very good leadership. He is everything you would want in a point guard.

I like the way UNLV and Georgia Tech plays. But on the flip side I am disappointed in North Carolina so far.

What happened to UCLA? Time are tough all the way around over there. I am not a big UCLA fan, but I hate to see Coach Wooden’s school not playing the way UCLA is capable of playing.

Did anyone else hear about former Laker and current USC basketball commentator Michael Cooper say “F*** UCLA” during their live broadcast? The FCC will have a field day with that. Copper has since apologized and is looking to move past it.

Does anyone else miss Bobby Knight or am I alone on that one? I admire how he tells it like it is, and yes before anyone asks I would send my sons to play for him. He will teach them how to be a student athlete, but an athlete who is also a student.

Other Sports Thoughts:

Who care if Tiger Woods is in a sex rehab clinic? (Which happens to be down the road from Brett Favre’s house!!) Tiger feels he needs help and he is getting it, good for him. I think it is time for all the media to let him try to heal not only his life, but his marriage.

Glad to see that Brock Lesner is healthy again. I started to get into the UFC and MMA a few years ago thanks to a couple good friends and I have to admit, it is entertaining. Lesner is not the best in the business (Anderson “Spiderman” Silva is), but he maybe the most entertaining.

“Pretty Boy” Floyd Merryweather is not at fault for the cancellation of the “super bout” with Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, this time I have to blame Pacquiao. Wanting to have a “clean fight” is something we deserve, and hell for $35-$40 million, I get my butt beat Floyd…call me! But I do know one thing, all boxing fans deserved to see this fight and it is a shame it is not going to happen.

Entertainment:

I currently am working for a good friend of mine, an R&B artist by the name of TQ. His new album is dropping March 23rd entitled “Kind Of Blue”. Here is his first single off it called ELECTRONIC featuring Tha Vill:

If you are a consultant, P.D./A.P.D./M.D. or DJ and want to add it, just email me at j.arrigo.hubmusic@gmail.com

 Have a great day and thanks for the support.

Joe Arrigo

joeslockerroom@yahoo.com

Written by Joe Arrigo

January 21, 2010 at 19:13

The Friday Night Lights Are Back

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At high schools across the nation and thousands of  high school athletes will attempt to live out their dreams on the gridiron. High school football is back. It is one of the best part of the start of the new school year and in some towns, defines them and gives them a sense of pride. The kids that give up hours and hours of their summer for football camps, two a days and speed & agility camps see all their hard work pay off.

Out of those kids, a select few will have the opportunity to use their god given talents to play football and get a free education at an institution of higher learning. The recruiting of these athletes is intense and has become a high profile affair with various TV networks broadcasting the athletes decisions live. 

High school football is a staple of Friday nights in most towns. They all gather and watch their kids play their hearts out and try to make them proud. The coach will be second guessed as the game goes on. In some places, the guys get together at the local diner or barber shop and discuss the game and team, with the coach making an appearence.

The school gathers and watches their friends try to defend the schools honor against other schools in the  surounding areas. They sit in the cold stands, talking about who likes who, where they are going after the game and what happened at school that past week. But when their school has a season to remember traditions are born.

Like at Upland High School in Upland California. In the 1995-96 school year the “Scotts” (or Highlanders) were in their second season under Tim Salter. UHS was not a good football team before Salter, but that season Upland not only won the C.I.F. title, but also the “Dawg Pound” was born in the UHS stands.

Every school has a section where the students get rowdy where they get the parents and other students pumped up with their energy. It builds character and school spirit, much like the “Cameron Crazy’s” at Duke. But the team is always the focus of the parents and classmates.

With the recruiting trial always white hot you never know who will be in the stands, especially if your school is a powerhouse or has a five star player. I was at a local game this past week and seen a major Pac 10 head coach and 3 coordinators there scouting players. Websites such http://Rivals.com, http://Scout.com and  http://maxpreps.com all promote high school sports, list the top 100 athletes and the schools those athletes are considering.

High school football is as american as apple pie. Seeing the city come together as one to root for their local high school is refreshing. Watching future college and even NFL players play the game before it becomes a business (to them) is a joy. It is far from pure, but it is affordable for the family and a good way to get together with friends.

This will be the first in many blogs about high school football and I plan to cover a few games as well. Tonight, as I watched Oaks Christian High school (Ca) take on Skyline High school (Wa) on ESPNU and see the names Montana, Smith and Gretzky I can’t help but wonder how they must feel as parents? They have had all the accolades in their respective careers and now there sons are receiving them as well. It has to be a proud moment for them, like any other parent who see’s their kids play under the Friday night lights.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and remember, what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.

Joe Arrigo

 

E-mail Joe @ joeslockerroom@yahoo.com

Written by Joe Arrigo

September 18, 2009 at 22:26

Posted in H.S. Sports