In one of New York’s five boroughs, a brand new basketball coach coaching in a brand new basketball arena tries something never before seen on the sidelines, a trick straight out of a Bad News Bears movie, just to see if it would work. In Pittsburgh, a head football coach takes a page out of the Woody Hayes playbook by narrowly tight-roping the sidelines in an effort to tackle an opposing player his own players can’t seem to. And back in the good old Northeast, we hear repeated rumblings of a team illegally spying on its opponents.
If it’s one thing we can’t stand in sports, it’s cheating. We watch sports because we consider them to be the last bastion of something we can believe in. We expect our players and the teams we root for to give it their all without breaking the rules. We denigrate players for the rest of their careers when they use performance enhancing drugs to get an edge. It ruins the game, we cry. Even the mere hint of someone gambling on the sport they’re involved in is enough to warrant a life time ban. These are crimes we can’t forgive but when it comes to other forms of cheating, where do we draw the line?
On Wednesday, November 27th, Jason Kidd’s Brooklyn Nets were playing, and losing to, the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re losing is not a shock considering, at 5-12, the high-priced, underachieving Nets are one of the worst, and certainly most dysfunctional, teams in the league.
With seconds left in the game and out of time outs, Coach Kidd did two things I’ve never seen an NBA coach do on the sidelines: 1) with a full drink in his hand, he walked up to his players as they were walking off the floor and 2) “intentionally” had one his players run into him, spilling said fountain drink, so that the referees would have to call a time out to clean up the spill.
Kidd has since vehemently denied that he spilled the drink on purpose. No matter. The league fined him $50,000 for the incident. Someone should have told the rookie head coach the NBA is not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe.
I’d like to call Kidd’s antics industrious but more than anything they demonstrate how unprepared he is to coach in this league.
Mike Tomlin has already won a Super Bowl. For a brief minute he had us all asking who Bill Cowher was. That was in 2009. In 2010, the Steelers won another AFC North division title and made it all the way back to the Super Bowl, losing to Green Bay. Since then, they’ve made it back to the playoffs only once, losing to a miraculous, last second Tim Tebow completion to Demaryius Thomas. The Steelers finished 8-8 the following year and this year, at 5-7, they’re essentially out of the playoffs once again, a far cry from Steeler standards.
Frustrations in the Steel City are mounting. That became obvious on Thanksgiving Day when Coach Tomlin tee-tottered the sidelines and allegedly interfered with Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones. The Steelers lost that game 22-20. Tomlin has since defended himself saying he was looking at the Jumbotron which gave him a better view of the runback, as if the sidelines aren’t already the best seats in the house.
The league has yet to fine Tomlin and the Steelers but reports are that the penalty may be in the six figure range.
In 2007, the New England Patriots were found guilty of videotaping opposing coaches’ signals to get a leg up on their competition. What ultimately became known as SpyGate cost them dearly. Head coach Bill Belichick was fined a half a million dollars. The team was fined another $250,000 and they were docked a first round draft pick.
Now there are rumblings that the Patriots may be up to their same old tricks, pulling out the video camera for old time sakes.
All three of these incidents show just how far coaches and teams will go to assure victory. The days of drawing up X’s and O’s on the chalkboard are over; the days of resorting to antics like these have just begun. Fortunately, their respective leagues aren’t having it, doling out fines that would put a healthy dent into any Christmas shopping spree. But is that enough to stop coaches from doing things like this in the future?
I get it. Coaching at the highest ranks of any sport is a pressure cooker. You’re constantly looking over your shoulder, doing whatever it takes within reason, to ensure yours is not the next coaching vacancy. Just ask Will Muschamp.
But aren’t coaches still supposed to lead by example? While winning at any cost might assure one keeps their job, it still doesn’t make one a winner. In fact, it does exactly the opposite.
“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Read the rest of this entry »
“Now if there’s a smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public” Read the rest of this entry »
How many out there can name the backup quarterback for all 32 NFL teams without consulting ESPN or another internet outlet? If you can, you’re a more observant fan than most. It’s understandable that few will get many answers correct. For many teams, the backup quarterback garners little attention, because he’s likely to see only a handful of meaningful snaps, if that, during the season.
But while being the backup comes with the likelihood of little actual on-field pressure, the role arguably comes with as much pressure as it does for a starting quarterback, because there’s always the threat that you could be thrust into a key situation at any moment if the starter goes down, and even your best could not be enough to avoid criticism if you’ve stepped in for a beloved starter like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or in Green Bay’s unfortunate case, Aaron Rodgers.
Heading into Week 9 showdown with Chicago, Rodgers was in the midst of putting together yet another fine season, and the Packers had won four straight and were looking like they could very well be a part of the live 2014 Super Bowl betting options come February. But in the first half against the Bears, Rodgers went down with a shoulder injury. The Packers went on to lose at home to their fierce rivals and, thanks in part to their offense being decidedly less prolific than it is with Rodgers at the helm, have lost the next two since, falling from first in the NFC North to third and putting their postseason hopes in a precarious position. And with Rodgers out for at least another game and emergency starter Seneca Wallace going down with a groin injury against the Eagles in Week 10, the Packers have had to turn to former backup Matt Flynn to backup Scott Tolzien, who was on the practice squad before Rodgers went down. Talk about raining when it pours.
Sure, the backup is the backup for a reason, and there’s almost certainly going to be some drop in the level of play and production if the backup steps in. And sure, no one wants to make a habit of doling out big bucks to a backup or use too many high draft choices on players that might not be around for too long. But investing in a quarterback who will, at the very least, likely not suffer out in the spotlight, and then somehow convincing said backup that it’s worth his while to stick around, could certainly come in handy if disaster ever strikes and the star QB goes down for a game, a month, a season. Just ask Mike McCarthy and the Packers, who no doubt are wishing their injury report–and the NFL standings–looked a lot different right about now.
Remember the old joke about the guy who walks into the doctor’s office and says “Hey, Doc. It hurts when I do this,” only to have the doctor advise him to simply stop doing it? Apparently, Darrelle Revis isn’t familiar with that one. Read the rest of this entry »
The final month of college football’s regular season is often filled with twists, turns, and controversy, with little decided in the hunt for conference and national honors until the end and contenders exiting, entering, and perhaps even re-entering the picture even when hope seems to have been dashed. So, for Oregon fans, all hope isn’t lost, even after Thursday night’s loss at Stanford.
The move to a playoff system starting next season may help to eliminate some of the controversy and disappointment that’s far too often occurred in the BCS era, but anyone who thinks that the late-season chaos we know and love will disappear need not fret. As for the last season of the BCS era, college football betting odds have Alabama penciled in as a favorite to claim an astonishing third straight national championship and fourth in five seasons, but if they weren’t immune to the November upset bug last season, they might not be this season either. The defending champs have a few potentially tricky games down the stretch, and so do the other contenders. Here’s a look at a handful of the biggest of the bunch.
Nov. 23: Baylor at Oklahoma State
It’s going to take a lot for Baylor to be a serious player in the national title race, but it would certainly be intriguing to see their prolific offense–talk about an understatement–take on Alabama or Florida State’s athletic defenses. But to this point, they’ve won the games on their schedule, and continuing to do so, especially in a convincing manner, will keep them hanging around, ready to pounce if the dominoes fall everywhere. Arguably the toughest remaining game on their slate is their road tilt with the Cowboys, who look to be kicking it into high gear at just the right time and control their conference title destiny with games remaining against conference co-leaders Baylor and Texas. If the over/under for that showdown isn’t at least 90, it’ll be a surprise.
Nov. 30: Alabama at Auburn
The Iron Bowl is always one of the most highly-anticipated matchups on the college football schedule, but it’s all the more exciting when more than just bragging rights are at stake, as will be the case this season. If Auburn, a surprising 8-1 in their first year under Gus Malzahn, beat both Tennessee and Georgia in their next two games, they’ll host their archrivals with a chance to not only snatch the SEC West title but also catapult themselves into the thick of the national title picture.
Nov. 30: Florida State at Florida
With how Jameis Winston and the Seminoles stomped top-10 ACC rivals Clemson and Miami, many might expect the same to occur when they visit the Swamp. However, nothing can be taken for granted when these fierce rivals meet, and the Gators, who looked like a contender themselves before being wrecked by key injuries, would love nothing more than to spoil FSU’s national title hopes.
Nov. 30: Ohio State at Michigan
Oregon’s loss has put the Buckeyes in position to potentially capitalize if Alabama and Florida State stumble, but with the present gap between themselves and the top three and Stanford’s ever-improving resume, Urban Meyer might need help from his former employers and more to be able to book a berth in the title bout. As such, their margin for error is nil, and defeat at Michigan would be a crusher. Devin Gardner and the Wolverines have been wildly inconsistent this season, but this could be the occasion where they decided to put together the four quarters they’re certainly capable of, especially on offense.
NFL athlete hazes/drops N-Bomb on voice mail, goes incognito. In other shocking news, racism and a misunderstanding of our differences still exists in AmericaNovember 7th, 2013 by Chris Humpherys
I’m getting ϋber-tired of all this Richie Incognito talk. Can we please just give it a rest… right after I’m done with my rant, of course? Read the rest of this entry »
A storm’s a-brewin’: Why two major college football programs might be the first to usher the BCS into oblivionNovember 4th, 2013 by Chris Humpherys
Welcome to the unofficial, one millionth rant about the Bowl Champion Series. Read the rest of this entry »
The Super Bowl has become an event like no other in American society. While most sports attract casual fans once in a generation (thanks to icons like Michael Jordan in basketball or Tiger Woods in golf), professional football draws millions of viewers every winter for the NFL’s championship game. Whether you have a real interest or not — and maybe you only care about the commercials — most Americans have watched at least one Super Bowl in their lifetime, and many of us have done so while attending a Super Bowl party.
The difference between a dull Super Bowl party, and one that guests will never forget, is the detail to which the hosts pay attention and the lengths reached to throw a classic and “super” party.
To create a fantastic football festivity for family and friends, put away the chips and dip, and go for your own touchdown with these following helpful hints.
Invite the Right Guests
Planning who to invite to your Super Bowl party is not an easy task. The key to any successful party is how well the attendees can get along with each other. You know that friend from work who takes sports way too seriously? The one who sees it as a personal attack whenever his favorite team’s honor is in any way besmirched? Yeah … it’s probably not a good idea to invite him to your party. Sure, you want people who are passionate about the game but you don’t want anyone so over the top they’ll take the fun out of it for the rest of the group.
If you have in mind a guest list that will probably get a bit lively — especially after a few (dozen) spirits, it may not be the best to invite your 80-year-old grandmother. She’d be uncomfortable and your guests might be too, and that won’t be a good time for anyone.
Try to keep your guest list to a happy medium. People around the same age (give or take a few years) will be your best bet to ensure a vibe everyone can enjoy.
The difference between a dull Super Bowl party, and one that guests will never forget, is the detail to which the hosts pay attention and the lengths reached to throw a classic and “super” party. Having a cheeky flutter with the bwin odds can also spice up the occasion.
Nothing gets people in the right milieu better than crafty decorations. Think about it; our mood is affected by our atmospheres, including the look, sound and feel of the venue — and the company we keep. Once you’ve invited the right people to your “super shindig,” it’s time to dress the place up with decorations that don’t have to cost you a quarterback’s salary.
Try unconventional decorations, like soft sports beanies bearing the names and logos of the teams playing. Have fun with the hats by buying enough for each guest to don during the game to show their allegiance.
Another creative way to spruce up the joint is to choose a theme or motif and decorate accordingly. For example, suppose you chose a Southwestern theme. Decorations could include cardboard cacti, paper tumbleweed and maybe even lassos. Whether your party is in Green Bay, Wis. or Greenville, N.C., you can set the mood for your personal Super Bowl crowd and forget whatever weather is happening outside your door.
Snacks are where you should spend most of your planning efforts. Your goal is to come up with an assortment of vittles that can accommodate a variety of taste buds and diet choices. You know your guests well, so use your best judgment as to which dishes make the cut and which will ride the bench. A few rules to live by:
• Make sure the food matches the beverages you’ll have on hand. When in doubt: Beer and a variety of soda plays well with others.
• Choose items that can be enjoyed warm or cool, not hot or cold. You won’t likely have the time to keep everything at its optimal temperature.
• Some like meat, others don’t. Your menu should be considerate of vegetarians and carnivores alike. Also, when possible, try a turkey substitute for a lower-calorie option for those trying to stay in playing shape.
Ben Franklin once said, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” He wasn’t talking about Super Bowl parties, but he may as well have been. To throw the kind of party that will leave your guests raving for year, you need to plan ahead, get creative with your choices and pull it all off while still enjoying the game (or commercials). Use this guide, and here’s to a successful season and an epic Super Bowl party!
About the Author: Zach Harper is a dedicated sports blogger who throws a Super Bowl bash every year.