Thursday, January 25, 2007

And another Bengals update...

Troubled Bengals receiver Chris Henry is trading in his tiger stripes for prison stripes for two days. According to an AP report the receiver "was sent to jail for two days on Thursday after pleading guilty to allowing minors to drink alcohol in his hotel room last spring."
Henry appears to be the Bengals' teflon player, having avoided significant jail time while pleading guilty in three previous criminal cases.
In the lastest case, according to the report, "Henry originally was charged in Covington with three counts of unlawful transaction with a minor. Police said he brought alcohol for three females -- ages 18, 16 and 15 -- in a Covington motel room April 29. One of the three, Monica Beamon, 18, was charged with murder in Cincinnati last September."
Lovely company he keeps.
Henry was sentenced in this case to 90 days, but the judge suspended all but two. For his repeated transgressions on this as well as drug and weapons charges combined he has been sentenced to a total of 120 days, only two of which he is spending in a jail, two years probation, and 100 hrs of community service, the equivalent of 12.5 business days working a standard eight hour shift.
Meanwhile a 20 year old man is serving ten years (see last post) in a Georgia prison for having consensual sex when he was a minor with another minor. Something isn't right here

I'm not normally political here, but for this I'll make an exception...

In decision after decision the Supreme Court of the United States has held that the implication of the statement, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," from the Declaration of Independence applies to all United States citizens regardless of race or gender. It has, in the past, been used as reason to grant asylum to those seeking refuge from religious and political persecution in their own country in the name of Justice.
It's a shame we can't get it right in our own country.
Let me start by saying, free Genarlow Wilson NOW.
Wilson a former star high school football player and honor student in Georgia is now two years into a mandatory ten year prison sentence with no chance of parole for child molestation for receiving oral sex from a 15 year-old girl when he was 17. The girl, in every account, including the account given by the girl's mother to the court in Wilson's case, was the one who initiated the action. Film even exists of the act.
Read the article on Wilson - it details some serious inequities that have been perpertrated by the state of Georgia, including the following; "The position of Barker and the district attorney, McDade, who refused to comment, is that Wilson is guilty under the law and there is no room for mercy, though the facts seem to say they simply chose not to give it to Wilson. At the same time this trial was under way, a local high school teacher, a white female, was found guilty of having a sexual relationship with a student -- a true case of child molestation. The teacher received 90 days. Wilson received 3,650 days."
Somehow I have a hard time believing that this is fair and equal treatment under the law. The Georgia Supreme Court called him, "a promising young man," and left him languishing in jail. I have a hard time reconciling their statement with their action.
The prosecutor in the case would be willing to let Wilson walk if he pleads guilty, thus relegating Wilson to a brand and national database that are a disservice and an inaccurate classification of the young man. The database is meant as a resource to inform parent of a menace to their children. That is not Wilson.
While I commend ESPN for writing this article, with the resources that the company has at hand I would like to think that the world wide leader in sports coverage is going to give this story more than ink. I think this story demands air time.
If ESPN could give a self-serving reality show to bore such as Barry Bonds, isn't then the socially and journalistically responsible thing to do to give Wilson some of that same self-serving air-time. After all they are a member of the Fourth Estate - the unofficial branch of the government that is supposed to be the watchdog that keeps things like this from happening.

On a somewhat related note, I would hope that if Wilson's lawyer, BJ Bernstein, can get him off, that the colleges that were once recruiting him will keep their offers open.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

T.O. - A Blogger's Best friend and other thoughts on the week

Ah, the idiot club-house cancer speaks again.

According to MSNBC Owens made the following comment to the Fort Worth newspaper, “I am just hoping his retirement brings promise to what the team has to offer,” Owens said. “This past year was a big letdown. On paper we were as good as anybody we played against every week. The end result didn’t show that. Our play was not indicative of what we could have done. What we should have done. Hopefully, the owner will hire a coach to take the team to the next level.”

Nice to see that the receiver that was thrown to as much as if not more than any in the league, and led the league in dropped passes has accepted culpability in his part in guaranteeing that the Cowboys had to be on the road for the playoffs. For the dim and the slow, yes, that was sarcasm.

While I often have blogged here about Parcells record without Belichick - which is about .500, I have to put this question out there - How many rings do you have T.O., because the last time I checked, Parcells has two?

I've said it before and I will say it again - Owens will never win a ring, he causes too many problems in the locker room and believes he answers to no one.

Here is a list of the Coaches and teams who have given up on him -

George Seifert/Steve Mariucci - 49ers
Andy Reid - Eagles
Bill Parcells - Cowboys (and if you don't believe that Owens factored into the decision to retire, then listen to the recent ESPN radio interview with Parcells's buddy Bobby Knight).
The Ravens (see Owens escape from San Fran)
The Patriots (more trouble than that team would put up with)
The Jets (putting together a team in the manner of the Patriots, Mangini will not deal with the distractions)

Those are just the ones that have made preferences known. I wouldn't be surprised if that number were much higher - and that also doesn't include teams like Arizona that wouldn't pony up the kind of money that Owens believes he deserves.

On to other tidbits -

Here is an article on Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl showing up at a Lady Vols game with some of his players in a show of support for coach Pat Summit in a game against the top ranked Duke team. On Pardon the Interuption Wilbon and Kornheiser debated the concept of whether or not it was appropriate for the Volunteers Men's Coach to be shirtless with a giant V painted on his chest so that he and his players could spell out "Vols."
The debate is ridiculous. Not only was it appropriate, but its the show of support and solidarity that more coaches should show their colleagues on the collegiate level, particularly in regards to women's sports that are often treated as the bastard step child by athletic directors.
I, for one, commend Pearl for such an unabashed and enthusiastic show of support for the Lady Vols.
Keep it up Pearl, women's athletics could use more fans like you.

Well Mike was a blast;

Best Stories in the NFL this season? For my money, and in no particular order...

The Saints run into the post-season giving the Gulf Coast something to root for.

Detroit receiver and former arena league and Rams defensive back Mike Furrey's success in his first full year as a receiver - 98 receptions, 1086 yards. Not bad for a guy playing on one of the worst teams in the league.

The returns from what could have been career ending injuries for Drew Brees (shoulder), Chad Pennington (shoulders), and Rodney Harrison (knee).

The season of rookie sixth round pick Marques Colston out of Hofstra. The youngster played like a veteran catching 70 balls for 1038 yards - and for my money, Rookie of the Year.

In spite of wearing my Patriot blue on my sleeve, Tony Dungy getting over the hump and into the big game. I find it hard to feel the same for Manning, just because the ad campaigns, while intended to paint him as "just one of the guys," come off as obnoxious - I'm sorry, but the only thing missing in the Sprint ad where he has 70's porn-mustache is the bad funk music while Peyton "The Hedgehog" Manning is talking. But I digress...

Mangini's miracle turnaround of a Jets team that many people thought would be the worst in the AFC East.

Jeff Garcia's run of success with the Eagles, showing that in the right system, he can still get it done.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A final word about the Saints

Before I start on the Saints - this morning's weigh-in - 182.5, down 10.5 pounds from the beginning of the contest. Aiming for 180 by next Tuesday...we'll see what happens there.

The title of this post links to an excellent article about the Saints and the post-Katrina impact on New Orleans. It covers this weekend' post-game reaction more eloquently than I ever could without being there. I still would like to make a comment.

Often times the press and Hollywood portrays sports as something bigger than it is.
Who can forget James Earl Jones as writer Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams and his speech that ends with this statement; "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."
As reporters we once wrote about how Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa helped bring the fans back to baseball, making too much out of a homerun race. If it wasn't them, something else would have brought the fans back, it just would have taken longer.
Games are typically just games, and the fans moods often affected by the results of the games - but often its temporary.
As a Sox fan I was often disappointed in the early to mid 1990's when I lived in the shadow of Fenway Park, because, let's face it, the Sox weren't a good team then. But the well-being of the region didn't suffer for the suffering of the fans.
This year's Saints team was different.
The team has been a visible metaphor for the region. Last year homeless and helpless, relying on another region to house them, the league to support them. And watching them, you could see they were having trouble getting their legs under them.
This year they started new; new coach, new quarterback, new receivers in a renewed dome.
The new stars, Drew Brees and Reggie Bush, adopted their new company's home as their own, and have done what they could to aid in the rebuilding efforts.
Like the team's season, the rebuilding of the Crescent City is incomplete. The Saints marched as far as they could, and a journey that began in the swamp and flood of post-Katrina New Orleans, now two seasons ago, ended in the mud of a snowy field in Chicago.
The team, metaphor to the outsiders, was something much more to the people of the region. They were more than just one of the best stories in the NFL this year. They did something that every NFL team does for their fans at the beginning of every season, but they did it on an entirely new level; they offered hope.
This was more than hope for a championship.
This was about the renewal of a region. With a team so perennially bad as the Saints have been ( so bad that sports reporters called them the 'Ain'ts, me included, and fans once wore brown bags over their heads so they can't be identified) can get this close to the Super Bowl, closer than the team has ever come, then maybe the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the city isn't as impossible as it seems.
To get a real sense of the team's importance to the region, click on the link above and read the ESPN article. If you're not touched by it, you're not human.
And a final note to Saints owner Tom Benson. Benson, as most avid sports fans know, has talked about moving the Saints for a number of years to locations where he believes the team will be more profitable. Built in the 1970's, the Superdome lacks some of the ammenities of newer stadiums that drive revenues higher such as the luxury suites and seat licenses. Because of this, Benson has flirted with Los Angeles and San Antonio as destinations for his franchise.
However, Benson is not hurting, as there is no NFL franchise right now that's losing money. For him to move the franchise from that region now would be unforgivable.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Arrested Development

Marvin Lewis has gotta hate his job right about now.

During Lewis's tenure as head coach of the Queen City's football franchise approximately 20 percent of his players have displayed a preference for prison stripes to those of the majestic Tiger for which the team is named. I only bring this up because it has been reported that cornerback and first round draft pick from last year Jonathan Joseph has been arrested on drug charges, adding him to eight others that have been arrested in the last twelve months, and at least the tenth in the last two and a half years.
According to the AP report, Coach Lewis stated "We've tried to allow guys to both mature as men and mature as players. But the thing we continue to find is they've got to be constantly coached, policed and corrected so that at times of adversity, we can do the right things."
Considering that most of these guys had well documented problems in college that made it to the local press, there really is no excuse for Lewis to be easy on these guys (another statement he made to the press). Can he be watching over them 24/7? No. But he certainly doesn't have to be playing them, and it is within the team's purview the fine the buggers for this sort of behavior.
In the regular season the roster has 53 players, 47 of whom are active on Sunday. Ten arrested is then over 21 percent of the active roster.

I would call the following a roll call, but rap sheet seems more appropriate (keeping in mind, I am only listing arrests, not convictions);

Justin Smith, DE, 1st Round - DUI 10/2004
*Odell Thurman, LB, 2nd Round - DUI 9/2006
Erich Steinbach, G, 2nd Round - Boating under the influence 8/2006
Matthias Askew, DT, 4th Round - Resisting arrest 8/2006 - release did nothing to send a message to other Bengals trouble children.
Deltha O'Neal, CB, DUI 12/2006
AJ Nicholson, LB, 5th Round - Burgalury, grand theft 6/2006
Frostee Rucker, DE, 3rd Round - Spousal Battery, vandalism 6/2006
*Reggie McNeal, WR, 6th Round - Resisting Arrest, drug charges 12/2006

The last is a one man rap sheet...the following is just a sample as Henry has been arrested four times since the end of/late in 2005...
*Chis Henry, WR, 3rd Round -
12/2005 - pulled over in Northern Kentucky for speeding and marijuana was found in his shoes. He was also driving without a valid driver's license, and without auto insurance.
1/2006, he was arrested in Orlando for multiple gun charges including concealment and aggravated assault with a firearm. He was reported to have been wearing his Number 15 Bengals jersey at the time of his arrest. Henry pleaded guilty to in both cases and avoided jail time in both cases.
Cincinnati media reported in 5/2006, that Henry is being investigated by Covington police in connection with a sex crime, which allegedly occurred in a hotel room in Covington, Kentucky early on April 30, 2006. No charges have yet been filed, and on May 24, 2006, Covington police reported that there is no proof anything happened and that the alleged victim might now face charges for filing a false police report.

* It's just interesting to note that when Thurman was nailed for his DUI, he was serving a 4-game substance abuse suspension and in the vehicle with him were McNeal and Henry.

One Helluva Football Weekend...

The clock struck midnight yesterday on the Cinderella Saints as Chicago overcame a rough start by Grossman to lay down a serious spanking on New Orleans. While it ends possibly the most compelling story in the NFL this year. It opens up a different, yet compelling storyline which I will touch on momentarily.
First - the marquee match up of the weekend; Colts-Pats.
I heard a lot of people last week questioning how the Pats were going to keep pace with the Colts in the Dome, but I kept saying that this was going to come down to the last possession, and it did.
Brady made an uncharacteristic mistake in the last minute of a game, and the colts DB, unlike the Chargers DB did the smart thing after intercepting Brady. He sat down, eliminating any possibility of a game-changing turnover that would give the Patriots another chance.
Yesterday we watched two AFC teams play in a hard fought game that was really a tale of two halves.
The Patriots dominated the first thirty minutes and the Colts the second. Unfortunately, from my standpoint, the Colts made one more play than the Patriots did when it counted.
I commend the Colts for making the necessary adjustments to get the job done.
However, I do have to say, I have heard a lot of talk about how with a win in this round Manning gets the monkey off his back. I disagree with that. The knock was that Manning couldn't win the big one...he still hasn't. That happens in two weeks. A lot of pundits sound like they're ready coronate the Colts as the winners of the Super Bowl, and while I think that's likely, I also know that in 2001 everyone was ready to coronate what appeared to be a more talented Rams team as the Super Bowl winner. I'm not quite ready to discount Chicago.

The new compelling, yet-not-quite-as-compelling storyline in the NFL. Only because Chicago played earlier in the day yesterday, Lovie Smith became the first black head coach to reach the Super Bowl. With the Colts victory, Dungy became the second black coach to make the big game - one that will be played during the first weekend of February - Black History Month. Somehow appropriate, I think. I will address more on this later, including some important points about professional sports and its roll in the Civil Rights Movement.
A brief note on my conscious choice to not call Dungy and Smith African-American. It is a silly PC term for the overtly sensitive, and not terribly accurate. I had a professor in college, Jenny Shute, who was born and raised in Africa, yet was paler than Bill Belichick. She was arrested and exiled from her home in South Africa for fighting to end apartheid.
While I claim Irish and Italian heritage, in the end I am American. Not European-American, not really Irish-, or Italian-American either (though I do prescribe to those terms for simplicity's sake). But the fact is neither of my parents were born or raised anywhere other than in the United States, and technically, that makes me nothing other than American. We have a need to classify ourselves and to belong to groups, but, unless somebody is trying to offend (and I could get into some very Klan oriented language here to make my point, but won't) being offended about being called black as opposed to African-American is just silly.

Parcells has resigned - with Terrell Owens coming back, is that really a surprise.

JD Drew clarification - I think what you're likely to hear, probably this week, is that Drew was signed for the previously agreed on $70 million. However, what will be downplayed is the medical language/clause that will allow the Sox to get off the hook for a significant portion of that money should Drew's health become an issue.

Happy trails Christopher Trotman Nixon and good luck in Cleveland. Right field won't be quite the same without you...and don't take this the wrong way, I enjoyed watching you play, but realistically, right field hasn't been the same since Dwight Evans headed for Baltimore.

Two weeks from today we enter what I call The Black Time. It is the time between football and baseball when all there is left is basketball and hockey. I don't think basketball has been all that entertaining since about 1994 (however, I did enjoy the finals three years ago between Detroit and Los Angeles) when the game became less about team than it did about finding a star with just a bunch of guys. Hockey...well I never thought much of hockey from a broadcast perspective in spite of playing street hockey for eight seasons growing up. During The Black Time, I will be looking at some of the sports that I believe deserve more attention than they're getting, and speculate on some of the reasons that these sports are struggling.