Archive for July, 2010

The T.O. Show – Live from Cincinnati

July 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 14: NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens arrives at the 2010 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images for ESPY)

So, it’s official. Terrell Owens is now a Bengal.

I’m excited. No, really.

OK.

Maybe I’m not.

I am, however, intrigued.

Can Owens, a guy that will be 37 years old by years’ end, bounce back from 2009 – his worst full season since his rookie year in 1996?

Can Carson Palmer keep him and Chad Ochocinco happy?

I’m guessing that it will all work out pretty well. Owens knows that this is likely his last shot. Wide outs don’t play past 36 as a general rule.

And Owens, Palmer and Ochocinco all want a ring – another powerful motivator for the 30-something pro athlete.

Put me down for somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 catches and six touchdowns, numbers that may not reach his previous high standards, but excellent ones for a No. 2 receiver.

One thing is for sure.

The touchdown celebrations in Cincy this year are going to be legendary…

Advertisements

Two trains, one track

July 22, 2010

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 20:  A detail of the NFL logo on painted on the sideline grass as the Cleveland Browns face the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 20, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Browns 27-6.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) 

I don’t like to be philosophical before lunch as a general rule, but today, I’ll make an exception.

I’m really going to miss the NFL in 2011.

As you may know, the owners opted out of the CBA at the end of last season, setting up this year as uncapped and putting the league and its players at the bargaining table in an effort to avoid some sort of work stoppage next spring.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players’ Association, chatted for a few minutes with ESPN Radio Wednesday morning, tossing out words like collusion and sounding very much like the aggressive and tough lawyer that he is.

NFL VP Jeff Pash, commissioner Roger Goodell’s right-hand man and point man for the league in the current collective bargaining agreement talks with the players’ union, had his turn at the podium this morning.

He sang a different tune, as you might imagine.

It’s a complex issue with a lot of different threads to be woven into a new CBA, but here are the basic sticking points.

Revenue sharing

The answer to every question in sports, and indeed life, is money. Currently, the league takes a billion dollars off the top of its revenues and splits the remainder (about $8 billion) with the players at a 60/40 clip, in favor of the union.

Owners want to keep more of that pile of money while players want a bigger slice of the pie.

This isn’t going to be easy, but at the end of the day, they’ll figure this out.

After all, the average fan won’t care about billionaires and millionaires arguing over huge sums of cash.

Drug testing

Pash was asked this morning if the union was against the league implementing a test for hGh, or human growth hormone, and was response was “absolutely.”

The latest test, approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency, requires the drawing of blood – a major sticking point for the average pro athlete.

The league wants the test. The union, citing privacy issues, does not.

It’s a major gap in positions.

Rookie wage scale

Everyone agrees that the average NFL first-rounder makes entirely too much money.

The league wants a rookie wage scale, similar to the one in place for the NBA, that slots players into contracts based on where they are selected.

The union seems to agree that some sort of system is needed, but they want to make sure that the owners don’t pocket that money currently going to rookies. Smith wants those funds diverted to NFL retirees and veteran players.

Ultimately, I think this will happen. It’s just a question of details.

The 18-game schedule

The league very much wants to scrap the last two preseason games – and really, would we miss them – and add two regular season games to the schedule.

Hooray longer fantasy football season!

The players say they’re concerned about injuries and watering down the product.

What they’re really worried about is getting more money for those two games.

Goodell and company want this badly, so they’ll give up some dough to get it done.

In the end, I may not be quite as doom and gloom as I made out in my opening.

But one thing is for sure: DeMarcus Smith is far less chummy with the league brass than his predecessor, Gene Upshaw, was.

A deal may happen.

But it isn’t going to be easy, and it’s not likely to be soon.

The once and future king?

July 19, 2010

July 09, 2010 - Miami, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02243320 LeBron James (R) joins with Miami Heat Dwayne Wade (C) and Chris Bosh (L) greet fans during NBA basketball team Miami Heat's 'HEAT Summer of 2010 Welcome Event' at the American Airlines arena in Miami, Florida, USA, 09 July 2010. The Miami Heat reached an agreement with LeBron James to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, and sign with the Miami Heat. 

I have never been a superstar athlete.

I have never been rich beyond my wildest dreams, surrounded by people who constantly proclaim my greatness and adored by the general public.

So I don’t have the first clue what it’s like to be LeBron James.

I do know that his recent free agency circus was just that, and the whole thing just comes across a little icky.

James was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, so I have to believe his decision to leave Cleveland for South Beach was a tad difficult.

He took less money to sign with the Heat, though the lack of a state income tax softens that blow considerably. And he’s giving up a bit of the spotlight to his new teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, in pursuit of a championship ring.

To paraphrase Crash Davis in “Bull Durham,” we’re dealing with a lot of stuff here.

So let’s go through it, piece by piece:

1. Dan Gilbert is a nut job, not a racist

His letter to Cleveland fans was impulsive and rash, and his boast that the Cavaliers will win a NBA title before Lebron was about as likely as me watching reality TV.

But Jesse Jackson’s latest attempt to grab headlines by injecting race where it doesn’t belong is transparent and absurd.

A slave master mentality? Come on, man.

I struggle to understand how Jackson remains relevant in today’s society. But that’s a debate for another day.

2. “The Decision” – Public relations fail

The hour long ESPN special devoted to James’ free agency destination was a disgrace to journalism. Yeah, he gave the proceeds to the Boys and Girls’ Club, but it was a sham of an event and everyone involved ought to be ashamed.

Instead of calling a press conference, announcing his intentions and taking some intelligent questions on the matter, James decided to become the star of a one-ring circus, field a few softballs from Jim Gray and alienate 95 percent of sports fans while thrilling the folks in South Florida.

Whose idea was this, anyway?

It drew quite a rating, which ESPN is quick to use as justification for further tarnishing its image as, you know, a work place for actual journalists – rather than fan boys, eye candy and former athletes.

I didn’t watch it. But I wonder if the folks that did came away feeling better about James, or worse?

3. Even if he wins, he loses

Despite Jesse Jackson’s opinion to the contrary, LeBron James is free to play wherever he chooses. I don’t begrudge him at all for wanting to play with his buddies in Miami.

If I had the chance to make similar money and work with some of my good friends in the business, it would be hard to turn down.

But I wonder how history will judge LeBron James?

If he never wins a title, which is a distinct possibility when you consider that the Heat will have trouble putting together a deep roster while up against the salary cap for the next five years or so, he’ll be the object of ridicule.

Can you imagine, the so-called greatest player of his generation failing to win even one title?

(I say so-called because of that Kobe guy out in L.A. who has more rings than a book shelf of Tolkien.)

Say he wins several of them. It’s possible that everything could turn up roses for the Heat. Wade and James find a way to share the ball in a manner that allows them both to shine, Bosh rebounds and draws a ton of fouls and Pat Riley finds a way to put enough pieces around them to get past deeper teams and claim a few titles.

Then, he’ll be the guy who couldn’t win one without Wade.

I don’t know if that’s fair, considering that every all-time great I can think of – Magic, Jordan, Bird, Russell, etc. – had other Hall of Famers on their title teams.

But some people will see it that way.

Me? I’m just curious to see how it all turns out.

And, when the NBA serves up the predictable Miami at L.A. Christmas Day game, I’ll be tuning in.

A promise…maybe

July 16, 2010

This blog has become very much like my tennis rackets.

Beloved, but not used nearly enough.

That changes Monday.

Seriously.

I promise.