Hail or Rail Scale VI: Jadeveon Clowney, Ray Lewis, the Florida Gators and who else but the Los Angeles Lakers

We haven’t had a good Hail or Rail Scale in a while so here goes nothing…

HAIL

1 point – College Football’s unpredictability

In the final moments of this year’s college football season, here’s some food for thought.  When was the last time we had an unranked team finish the regular season ranked number one, as well as the pre-season number one team ending up unranked?  I’m guessing never in the history of the sport.  I’ll let you decide what sort of mockery that makes out of pre-season college football pools.

Earlier this season, I asked you all to pick one team to win this year’s national championship.  Regardless of the shellacking Alabama laid on them Monday night, not a single person picked Notre Dame as a contender.  I guess not many Irish Catholics are reading the Chump.

Either way, what the Notre Dame program pulled off this year is the perfect example of why college football is still the best of all sports.  Not even the BCS can screw that up.  One loss and you’re done, the constant season-long, shuffling of teams atop the rankings with any hopes of a championship dashed with a single mistake.  What the masses are convinced is a foregone conclusion one weekend inevitably gets turned on its head for four glorious months, with nothing but emotional ups and downs through the entire ride, or tide in this year’s case.

Man, I can’t wait ‘til next August.

2 points – Jadeveon Clowney

Speaking of the glory that is college football, be honest, how many times did you see this Clowney hit because if you haven’t, here it comes again.

I must have watched post-game highlights of this tackle at least a hundred times and it STILL wasn’t enough.

Jadeveon Clowney is only a sophomore at the University of South Carolina but he is clearly a man among boys.  He’s slowly becoming a cult figure in Columbia.  In fact, I can’t recall a single hit prompting so many people to proclaim a player would be taken number one WHEN HE’S NOT EVEN ELIGIBLE FOR THE DRAFT FOR ANOTHER YEAR.

I’ve talked to several people who were at this game, since it was played in Tampa.  They told me the stadium erupted when Clowney deflated Vincent Smith.  One local radio announcer called it the hardest hit he had seen in his thirty plus years of watching football.  Some people were actually concerned Smith’s head had been detached from his body.

It’s okay.  Click on the video again.  I know you want to.

3 points – Ray Lewis

I’m not sure how many of you caught Ray Lewis’ last game in Baltimore on Sunday.  I’m guessing the lot of you did considering the NFL playoffs are among us.  Immediately prior to this post-season, the seventeen-year veteran told his teammates that he would be retiring at the end of the year, what he referred to as his “last ride.”  That afternoon, the Ravens showed up in full force to honor his legacy, besting the hot Indianapolis Colts 24-9. Not surprisingly, Lewis led the team with 13 tackles.

Shortly after the clock ticked to zero, an emotional Lewis was brought to tears.  Soon afterwards, he was congratulated by teammates, kissed his children on the sidelines then circled the field for a well-deserved victory lap in front of thousands of cheering fans, many of whom bore his jersey.

Lewis, the last remaining member of the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl in 2000, redefined the linebacker position.  He was as dominant on the field he was motivational off it.

He’s a 12-time pro bowler and sits comfortably in the discussion of the greatest defensive players ever.  If you didn’t get at least a little choked up watching him wave good-bye to the thousands of fans screaming his name, you’re simply not a fan of the sport and I suggest you take up crochet or something.

The game is better for Lewis having played it and his presence will be sorely missed.

We’ll see you in Canton in five, Ray.

RAIL

1 point – Los Angeles Lakers

I still haven’t grown tired of writing about how bad the Lakers are.  I feel like a full-bellied vulture picking at the road-side body of a decaying carcass with a blissful smile on my face.

As I mentioned last month, I’m generally not a hater but I am taking particular joy in watching this Lakers team implode.  It’s my right as a Magic fan to do so.

This Lakers team is so inexplicably bad (how bad are they?) that even the greatest player of the last decade has no answer for their woes.

Think about it.  This team has a combined 33 All-Star Game appearances in their starting lineup and they are 15-18.  That’s like the Beatles suddenly forgetting how to play their instruments.  By the way, 15-18 misses the playoffs if they were to begin today.

These Lakers are disturbingly bad.  Their badness defies logic.  They just lost at home to Denver and Philadelphia and with all due respect to those two teams, the Lakers have no business losing at home to either of them.

And now Dwight Howard, always one to open his mouth and say something inept, has told the media that this team doesn’t have to like each other to play well, they just have to go out and do it.  As much talent as is on that team, I’m beginning to think that’s no longer possible.  They’re like a time warp stuck in a vacuum of absolute defenselessness.  They are currently allowing 100.8 points per game which is 26th out of a 30-team league.

No Lakers fan has ever walked into the Staples Center with a paper bag over their head (insert Dyan Cannon joke here) but it’s something they might want to consider because this team is an absolute train wreck.

2 points – Blake Griffin’s jump shot

Okay, I know the Clippers just rattled off a seventeen-game winning streak, the most in franchise history.  I know they hold one of the best records in the NBA.  But I am definitely not ready to crown these guys.  Not even close.

Come the NBA playoffs, in a seven-game series, championship teams have to be able to score in the half-court set.  It’s one of the few constants in the sports universe.  Yes, Chris Paul is one of the best playmakers in the game but when he kicks the ball out after being triple-teamed to a wide open Blake Griffin who’s standing 15 feet from the basket, I need to know whether he can hit that jump shot consistently.  I take that back, I already know.  The guy can jump out of the gym.  He’s the game’s most dynamic dunker but I’m not convinced he can nail that shot with consistency.

Blake, it’s time to take a break from all those Kia, Subway and GameFly commercials and take about 500 daily jumpers from 13-17 feet.  Only then will your game become well-rounded and your chances of winning an NBA championship come closer to fruition.

3 points – The Florida Gators

I had a bad feeling about the Sugar Bowl this year.  Little did I know how bad it would be.

The third ranked Florida Gators went up against their former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and his 21st ranked Louisville Cardinals, a team that was chomping at the bit to prove their worth.  The only problem is the Gators forgot to show up.  Or at least Louisville made it look that way.

Strong’s far, more prepared Cardinals made a mockery out of the Gators in essentially every aspect of the game.  The 33-23 final score is no indication of how badly Florida was dominated.  The Gators, who at one point this season were poised to play for a national championship, seemed to be going through the motions that evening, while on the opposite sidelines, Strong had his boys ready to go.

Perhaps the Gators felt they were just better than Louisville, which they weren’t, at least on that night.  Perhaps they felt the game was beneath them, that they could just show up and be handed a victory.  Or maybe they had one too many hand grenades on Bourbon Street the night before.  Either way, Florida’s performance is something Will Muschamp needs to address this off-season, for what many thought might be the pre-season favorite to win next year’s national championship showed nothing to make anyone believe they’ll be anywhere close.

4 points -Robert Griffin’s knee

One of the most depressing things in sports comes when we don’t get to see how truly great a player can be when they fall to injury.  That’s what happened this Sunday.

The football gods gave us a gimpy Robert Griffin and it cost the Redskins the game, and their season.  That’s not to say the Seattle Seahawks wouldn’t have won the game with a healthy RGIII but it would have been much more highly contested in the end had he been 100%.

Why, oh why, did you not allow us to see Robert Griffin at full health in these playoffs?   By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Griffin could barely walk from a knee injury he had sustained a few weeks earlier and aggravated again that afternoon.  In the end Seattle’s defense was just too much and Griffin limped off the field defeated.  Another rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson advanced in his stead.

I guess we’ll have to wait until next season to watch RGIII again.  Hopefully he’ll return in full health and we have plenty more years to watch this guy play.  It’s just a shame we don’t get to see him any more this season.

Now let the questioning of whether he should have even played in that game commence.

40 thoughts on “Hail or Rail Scale VI: Jadeveon Clowney, Ray Lewis, the Florida Gators and who else but the Los Angeles Lakers

  1. Pingback: Hail or Rail Scale VI: Jadeveon Clowney, Ray Lewis, the Florida Gators and who else but the Los Angeles Lakers - BallHyped Blog Network, 2012 Sports Blogs of the Year | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. As a Michigan fan, the Clowney hit on Smith was not only the hardest hit I have ever seen, it was also a game changing play at a key moment in the game. Something tells me that will be the norm for Clowney at the next level.

  3. Tim…

    Clowney is listed at 6’6″, 250 pounds.

    It shows in that video when his teammates run up to him to celebrate that hit.

    They’re having to jump up just to slap him on the helmet.

  4. The hails… Calling the Outback Bowl for ESPN, Jon Gruden got so exhilarated by by Jadeveon Clowney’s hit he starting proclaiming the young defender a frontrunner for next season’s Heisman! Clowney will never win that award but it was a great hit and especially great given the circumstances as the play immediately preceding Clowney’s hit saw the Big East referees literally give poor Michigan a first down when they were obviously short… Clowney’s hit and resulting turnover was a pure and simple case of poetic justice!

    Notre Dame is but the latest in a long line of midwest universities who beg and crawl and steal and sell their souls in order to win the beauty contest that is the NCAA football poll system. Then they “earn” a chance to play for the “national title”. The bottom line? We all get to enjoy these tradition laden football programs as they get their posteriors handed to them by a truly superior opponent. The fat lady had already sung and left last night’s game midway through the 2nd quarter… Very entertaining… The BcS does it yet again and we have one more season before (I can hardly type) we get a 4 team playoff!!!!!!!! Wow! How they gonna divid that up? SEC gets 3 places at the table and who gets the other? The annual beauty contest winner?

    I agree Ray Lewis has been on one hell of a ride and yes, he’s one of the best to ever play the game. Now the only question is who will introduce him at Canton. Way to go Ray Ray!

    I believe, other than my thoughts concerning Ray Lewis, I’ve been railing on your hail side! LOL!

    Okay here’s a couple of rails…
    That “playing surface” at FedEx Field was in the poorest condition I’ve seen since the advent of astroturf. The NFL gives each team a lot of leeway concerning the play-ability of their home field. If that isn’t a maggot infested pile of dung! The condition of FedEx Field was purposefully allowed to go bad. Although the Redskins will never admit it, wouldn’t it be an outright shame if one of the most exciting players to ever come down the NFL’s pike had his career destroyed by the short-sighted people managing the very team he played for? It was obvious they had endeavored to give their team a “home field advantage”. Robert Griffin wasn’t hurt just once playing on that painted sand and he wasn’t the only player injured by that field in a game all the players hope and pray to play in. The Seahawk’s DE and sack leader Chris Clemons was lost for the rest of this season with torn knee ligaments because he had to wear extra long cleats for traction on that field. Check out what Chris’s agent is saying: http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/01/07/chris-clemons-agent-blames-crappy-field-for-injury/1813685/ … The Seahawks’ placekicker was also injured when his placement foot slipped during a kick making it darn near impossible for him to kick thereafter. There is no excuse for this and Dan Snyder and Mike Shanahan ought to be ashamed of themselves… I sincerely hope RG3 can return to full speed next year.

    Finally, I’ll leave you with a final rail… The University of Florida Gators were not that good this year. I’m surprised they polled so high after watching their up and down play during 2012. I attribute that kind of play to a team’s coaching. Is Will Muschamp out of his element? He’ll get another year to prove he’s “the man” at Florida but will there be one after that? I kind of doubt it…

    There ya go!

  5. Dwin…

    As bad of a man as Clowney is, let’s be honest. What is it that Jon Gruden DOESN’T get exhilarated over?

    Let’s not let Notre Dame’s meltdown, or beatdown last night, take away from the season they had. If they want to mix in a home and away with an SEC team, I’m sure there would be one out there that would listen. They just ran into a superior opponent on Monday. Oh, and that game was over in the first quarter, not the second.

    If the Redskins are convinced that RGIII is their quarterback of the future and at this point, it’s safe to say they think he is, then reconsidering what kind of surface they use is certainly an option. Can’t they re-sod the entire field to make it quicker and not run the risk of ruining their multi-million dollar investment… and their future?

    And I hate to agree with you on the Gators but you’re right. They fell victim to a favorable schedule. They did have a good gameplan for Texas A&M on the road and also handled Florida State pretty easily but as we saw in the Georgia game, they were just inconsistent. The talent was there but their heads weren’t. Here’s hoping another class of Muschamp’s kids will be able to put things together in 2013.

  6. What happened to the Gators in the Sugar Bowl reminds me of how Alabama got hammered by Utah a few years ago in their Sugar Bowl. Neither coaches had their teams ready to play for whatever reason and paid the price. On the brightside things worked out ok for the Tide and hopefully the Gators will learn from the experience.

  7. I just want to get a word in here about the KG/Melo flair up. Did KG got to far telling Melo that his wife tasted like Honey-Nut Cheerios? Hell no. Its big league sports. You can NEVER go too far when getting into the head of an opponent. Carmelo needs to mellow and just play the game. Apparently he never heard the old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” The fact that he let KG get to him tells me that Melo doesn’t know much about the history of the NBA. Even my long dead grandmother knows that this is what KG does best. Personally, I would take it as a compliment if some guy told me that my wife tasted sweet. Melo came off this deal looking like a douche bag. What no one is asking is, what did Melo say to KG to get that kind of response?

  8. The Lakers just signed Wilford Brimley? That’s great, because those long knee length shorts will hide his colostomy bag just like they hide Dwight Howard’s douche bag.

  9. Melo’s 1 game suspension cost him $236,714. No woman’s reputation is worth that much money.

  10. Al…

    Over on his website, Pest defended Blake’s jumper, saying it’s better than it’s ever been. That may be the case but I rebutted by asking whathet that’s a shot you want winning you a championship. I can’t argue with the Clippers’ record at this point. They’re winning ballgames. I’m still just not sure that team is poised to win a title.

    And dude, the Lakers are horrible. The Spurs turned the ball over several times down the stretch tonight and still eked out a victory. I know Gasol and Dwight are out but that team has no cohesiveness at all and don’t show signs of growing any soon?

    And I know I’m way behind on my reading. I’ll catch up soon.

  11. Aer…

    I have enough faith in Muschamp at this point to assume he’ll field a competitive team next season.

    And if not, I’m sure he’ll feel the uncomfortable heat from the Bull Gators.

  12. Dub…

    Not only that but they’re giving out free autographed versions of Cocoon with every ticket purchase.

    FYI, the Clippers are outdrawing the Lakers in home attendance figures at the Staples Center.

    Ouch!

  13. Al…

    Who is it that Pacquiao’s suing exactly?

    He’s got no defense, just as he had no defense for that right hook that knocked him on his ass last month.

  14. Snake…

    I don’t know what to make of that whole ‘Melo-KG thing. They were both jockeying for position during the game and things got a little heated.

    So what?

    You and I both know NBA fights don’t amount to much even if players do wait outside the locker room for one another.

  15. Clowney’s play was the highlight of the bowl season for me. Florida’s loss was the perfect example of why picking bowl games is so freakin’ hard. You don’t know who is going to show up wanting the W. You don’t know who the head coach or coordinators are going to be or if they are coordinated enough to maintain the regular season effort. Guys drop off the roster due to academics or mischief with too much time on their hands between games. RGIII didn’t look right from the minute he came back from the injury. You could see it in the Eagles game…well before Dallas…and certainly before the debacle vs. the Seahawks.

  16. Snake…

    And let’s just assume for one minute that KG did say something about Carmelo’s wife.

    So what?

    Isn’t it KG’s job to get under his opponent’s skin at just about any means necessary?

    Since when did talking about what a whore someone’s wife is off-limits on a basketball court?

    I mean, doesn’t she star on one of those Real Housewives reality shows?

    All I’m saying is if the shoe fits…

  17. SA…

    Whereas usually the Chump is pretty effective in picking bowl games, I took a bath this season.

    For example, the three games I felt most confident about were USC, LSU and Florida.

    As you might have guessed, I didn’t finish in the money.

  18. Al…

    If anything, we should be suing Pacquiao for that bad album he put out. Who does he think he is? William Shatner?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvQwXOCKNLY

    Lancey’s gonna admit he took steroids on Oprah? I may actually have to watch that. What day?

    And I think we’ve beaten this whole Hall of Fame argument to death, don’t you? It’s why I haven’t written anything about it.

  19. I have a long history of being critical of Mike Shanahan in DC and believe that he should have been fired long ago for mismanagement of the QB position. There was no reason for RGIII to remain in the game after that 3rd limp run to the far sidelines. I was in a bar in NOVA with Redskin fans who followed my lead by saying what the f*** is Shanahan keeping him in for. The guy could barely run. You can argue about playing to win the game or that RGIII may still have given the Skins the best chance to win, but you don’t risk the long term on the short term when you’ve mortgages the future. Was just another reminder that Shanahan is clueless when it comes to how desperate the fans of this city want a hero at quarterback.

  20. Jedly…

    This may be an entirely inaccurate comparison but bear with me on this one.

    Remember last year, when USC was making a run, people were raving about how great a coach Lane Kiffin was, as if they had forgotten anywhere he had ever coached before?

    This year, same thing with Shanahan. Yes, he got his two rings with Elway and no one can ever take that away from him but it wasn’t long ago that we were blasting him for sucking as a coach. Then what happens? This year, RGIII makes him look like a genius and we’re showering him with praise, until of course, RGIII goes down and Shanny’s a dumb bastard once again.

  21. I never even heard of La La before all this, but now that I’ve seen her, I have to ask the question, What did Melo do to kill that relationship? Any real guy with a hot wife would do anything to keep it real. As for tasting like Honey-Nut Cheerios, that’s a compliment. Now if I was Melo and KG said that my wife tasted like some nasty shredded wheat, then I would be pissed. That boy needs to grow up or maybe go play in Europe where he won’t understand when he’s being trash talked.

  22. Mel Brooks couldn’t have written it any funnier. KG is the best trash talker since Larry Bird.

  23. Snake…

    In preparing for tonight’s double-header, I tuned into Inside the NBA with Ernie, Kenny, Shaq and Chuck as part of my Thursday pre-game ritual.

    I wondered whether the details of the KG-’Melo confrontation would be discussed.

    Leave it to Chuck, who within a minute of the broadcast, brought up the comments.

    That’s why it’s the greatest show on television.

  24. I’ve got the 24th circled on my calender. I can’t wait for the Celtics-Knicks rematch.

  25. KG missed an important point. Honey Nut Cheerios sans milk will only dry out your mouth. She definately needs milk poured on her.
    Had RGIII taken himself out, detractors would have called him Cutler-esque. It was Shanahan’s call to make but it’s hard when your star says he’s ok and he’s earned the opportunity. Where was the medical staff?
    When Snyder bought the team he himself called the surface at, the then named, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, “crappy.” The field has always ranked toward the bottom of natural surfaces to play on. Maybe this will wake Snyder up.
    Ray Lewis is a beast. ‘Nuff said.

  26. Chris

    If there was any reason not to be worried concerning the reasons behind Seau’s death , here is a further tale why the NFL still hasn’t been doing enough with regard to blunt force trauma and the neurological disorders with the NFL players . Make of this what you must .

    Courtesy of USA Today …

    Seau brain disease sends alarms among players, critics

    Taking note of brain disease in the late Junior Seau, critics of football warn more to come

    When Junior Seau was hitting people for a living in the NFL, he wore No. 55 and weighed 250 pounds. At the National Institutes of Health, his case number was SS-3590 and his brain weighed 1,580 grams.

    Word came Thursday that Seau had a degenerative brain disease when he shot himself in the chest last May. Most shocking was that it was hardly a shock at all. His is merely the latest of dozens of cases of former pro football players who died with signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the third by suicide in recent times.

    MORE: Seau’s death serves as reality check

    But Seau, for 20 seasons one of the NFL’s most feared linebackers, is perhaps the most famous victim to date. His family donated his brain to NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke last June, about six weeks after a girlfriend found him dead in his home in Oceanside, Calif.

    A six-month study was completed a week before Christmas and released Thursday with his family’s blessing.

    “On initial examination the brain looked normal but under the microscope, with the use of special staining techniques, abnormalities were found that were consistent” with a form of CTE, NIH said in a statement. It added that a small region of Seau’s left frontal lobe showed scarring consistent with a small, old, traumatic brain injury.

    “In some ways, I’m relieved there’s this finding,” Mark Walczak told USA TODAY Sports. He is a former teammate and friend who spent time with Seau in the last week of his life.

    “I’m not surprised that Junior and others have this evidence of brain damage,” Walczak said. “He’s not the only one that has these types of issues. We’ve got guys who are retiring as we speak, like Ray Lewis, that we need to keep an eye on.”

    ===================================
    Click on link to read in full .
    ====================================

    In light of this tragedy the NFL still isn’t doing enough , even in light the league donating $5 million to Yale’s School of Neurological Medicine .

    We”ve yet to hear the last of this as the NFL and the union continues to bury their heads in the sand . The $1 billion (set aside to be used for retired veterans) that was set aside in the last round of deliberations , remains in an escrow account untouched .

    So I ask you what the fu#k is the NFL doing with regard to these NFL veterans ?

    Tophatal ……………….

  27. Losing streak now at 6 for the fLakeshow after tonights shellacking by OKC.

    Knowing your a victim of Shaq and Howard’s grassisgreeneritis there in the land of oranges and hurricanes, I suppose I can stomach your going Gangnam style on our not-yet-dead-but-festering purple and gold corpse.

    Glad someones enjoying it because it’s tearing me in half.

  28. Al…

    As you well know, Poppa Kiffin will go down as a defensive football mastermind. What Dallas will soon find out is whether he still is.

    Oh, and my thoughts on Lance’s Oprah interview will be up shortly.

  29. Ravenous…

    Not sure if you’re hip to Twitter but in response to the KG-Melo feud, a guy named Remsterdam Tweeted this…

    “Carmelo is lucky man to be eating Honey Nut Cheerios unlike Lamar Odom whose still stuck on soggy bowl of Frankenberry”

  30. Al…

    You gotta hand it to Sheryl though, man. At least she never aired her ex’s dirty laundry.

    I still don’t see why the Jags wouldn’t acquire Tim Tebow. They were 17th in the league in attendance and their record was piss-poor.

    If you can convince me that they plan on putting a winning product on the field, then I’ll buy not landing Tebow but I’m not sure that’s what they’re even close to doing. This team was 2-14 last year.

    And I don’t know what to tell you about Seau but any progress that the NFL makes in that field should be named after both him and Duerson.

  31. Antoni (no D for obvious reasons) was not my first or second choice. I thought Bickerstaff would have been fine if Phil decided to pass…but Phil got no such chance. Jim Buss has since said that Antoni was brought in mainly because of Nash. Bold move by management to pass on Phil, but is backfiring badly. Injuries are an obvious hindrance in Antonis results so far, but I remain somewhat upset that the Lakers took this route. When you have the greatest coach of all time showing interest, you don’t pull the rug out in favor of a ringless one whose system doesn’t match the personel on the roster. I’m not against the run and gun offense that the Pringles man prefers, but not with this squad. Had our health been better, it may be different right now but it’s just not. The clocks ticking. I haven’t given up all hope just yet but if we don’ t start clicking quick, Antoni will take the fall for this disaster of a season and I can’t say that a tear will be shed by me.

    I just hope Dwight doesn’t decide to follow suit and bolt.

  32. Bleed…

    I’m not sure why they would just listen to Nash and not anyone else when it came to his hiring.

    I’m with you on Bickerstaff. Guy knows his hoops and has coached nothing but bad teams his entire career, plus they probably would have paid him a shitload less than they’re paying D’Antoni. I guess they didn’t want to give him keys to the Ferrari, which turns out to be nothing more than an Edsel at this point.

    I’m still not ready to count this team out of the playoffs just yet but a more talented, together team should still be able to take them out in a seven-game series.

    You’re right. This team better find an identity… and quick.

  33. Pingback: Sports Chump » Field goals count for three points and other important lessons in football

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