Monday, February 26, 2007

Thoughts on recent events

Corporate families...

Business owners like to talk about their businesses, their employees, as families. This is no different in professional sports where the last four months have been particularly rough for two franchises; The Denver Broncos and the Boston Celtics.

The Broncos, in the last 60 days, have lost two players (starting corner Darrent Williams, backup running back Damien Nash) under what can only be described as an unfortunate series of events and circumstances. Williams was shot in the neck as he left a New Year's party, while Nash collapsed after a charity basketball game late last week.

Neither player made it to the age of 25.

On the other end of the spectrum, almost four months ago the Celtics lost arguably the greatest coach of all-time and Hall-of-Famer when the 89-year old Red Auerbach died at the end of October. Then again this past weekend, former Celtic (and Sonic) great Dennis Johnson, one of the NBA's great all-time defenders, collapsed and died while coaching one of the NBA's developmental league teams. He was 52.

My condolences go out to both teams and the families of all.

Some thoughts as we move into free agency and past the combine...

Corey Dillon could retire or could seek a job with another team should the Patriots grant his request to be released. He has left both options open. Either way, I wish him well.

Troy Brown has been talking retirement, evidently, for a couple of months - and is still thinking it over. The general belief is that he will probably retire, but that the Patriots all-time leader in receptions is mulling coming back because the team didn't win it all this past season and that he had hoped to go out on a championship. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back next year, but would also not be surprised to hear that he had accepted a position with the Patriots somewhere in the front office.

I'd like to see tight-end Daniel Graham return to the Patriots (I think he's better and more consistent than Ben Watson), but unless a deal gets done before the free agency period beginning on March 2, I think Graham is likely to be in a Jets uniform next year.

I think Ravens Linebacker Adalius Thomas is the crown jewel of the free-agent market this year (and would have been even if Dwight Freeney and Lance Briggs don't get franchised), and the contract he gets is going to reflect that.

The NFL Network broadcast fair bits of the Combine this past weekend. Ultimately, the workouts at the combine are pointless. The usefulness of the Combine comes down to the following;

The ability for teams to meet with players and evaluate character and intelligence in so meeting.

The ability to have the player examined and to review medical histories.

The ability to meet a player in the off-season and see (via the physical) if the player has let himself go, or if he looks like he can go out and play now (gives a good idea about that off-season work ethic and drive to improve).

Useless? Getting times on the 40. Throwing drills. Bench press. Catching the football.

At least somewhat useful...maybe? Vertical leap. Route running...and that's about it.

The problem with the drills comes back to the lack of pads. None of this shit matters if the player can't do it with the armor on, and, quite frankly, if your scouts don't have the player on film doing these things, then it's useless evaluating them without the pads. The history of the draft is littered with workout warriors who helped their positioning with a good combine, but couldn't get the job done when the pads were put on.

Late last week at the combine, players from a number of teams got together for a meeting and proposed to union leader Gene Upshaw that the league adopt a "three strikes and you're out" rule as a solution to the "thug life" attitude that appears to be the hallmark of the NFL's more recent generation of players. Details are still sketchy, but the young players that are still skating through the NFL on their initial deals like the Bengals' Chris Henry, Odell Thurman, and Tennessee's Pacman Jones would likely be done with their NFL careers if this rule were already in place.

The thinking of the players is that they are sick of the masses getting lumped in with the Tank Johnsons, and Pacman Joneses who are repeat offenders, and they want to send a message to these people that playing in the NFL isn't their right - it's a privilege. This is exactly the reason that the NFL is rubber and the NBA is glue.

Rubbing the government the wrong way...

Barry is at it again. Barry Bonds is claiming he can't cooperate with MLB's steroid investigation due to his perjury case. According to the AP -

Barry Bonds and other players under suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs have been asked by Major League Baseball's lead steroids investigator to turn
over medical records and submit to interviews.
A letter urging the cooperation of Bonds and other players tied to the BALCO scandal was sent Feb. 1 by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who is leading baseball's steroids inquiry. The letter, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday on it Web site, was accompanied by medical waiver forms that, if signed, would allow
investigators to view Bonds' and other players medical records.Members of
Congress have told Mitchell they might intervene if baseball's own investigation
is hampered by lack of player cooperation.
Bonds' lawyer Michael Rains told the Chronicle that Bonds cannot cooperate as long as he remains the focus of a possible perjury indictment. Rains did not immediately return calls from the Associated Press on Sunday night.

For the entire story, click here.

Of course this begs the questions - If Bonds did not perjure himself, then why would turning over his medical records to MLB's investigation be a problem in the Grand Jury perjury case? If the medical records were something that would clear Bonds of the perjury charge, wouldn't it be in the best interest of Bonds and his attorney to turn those over as quickly as possible?

Bonds is in no way barred from turning over his medical records to Major League Baseball, but his lawyer is counting on the ignorance of the masses to believe that as long as the perjury case is going on, that Bonds is not in a position to cooperate with the steroids investigation. That is beyond the pale. Get ready for federal involvement in MLB and steroids, round two.

Manny Ramirez has shown up for Spring Training. Big Whoop-Tee-Fucking-Do.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like having ManRam's big production numbers in the middle of that line-up, I do. I'm just trying to figure out what's wrong with my Red Sox-rooting brethren.

Jim Rice, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski, all products of the Red Sox farm system, busted their asses in left field, and got booed...quite regularly by the Fenway Faithful. But Ramirez, who's head obviously pops out of the game from time to time, occasionally plays as if he were totally disinterested, and has repeatedly asked to get out of the Boston pressure-cooker, is roundly and regularly applauded and cheered by the Sox fandom.

That's just wrong. He needs to be held to a higher standard by the fandom, and boo-fucking-hoo if he doesn't like it.

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