Friday, December 30, 2011


So the NFL tiebreakers are so complicated, that colleges should start
offering a course in NFL tiebreakers. Make it a graduate-level course.

Houston (10-5) 16
THE STATS: Indianapolis WR Reggie Wayne 8-106-1 TD.
THE STORY: Colts 2nd win in a row, Houston's 2 loss in a row. Good thing Houston had the division already won, because they are going in the wrong direction, just in time for the playoffs.

Cleveland (4-11) 14
BALTIMORE (11-4) 20
THE STATS: Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis team-leading 9 tackles for the 2nd week in a row.
THE STORY: Best AFC North division race in history is sullied only by not having Baltimore and Pittsburgh (both 11-4) match up in the season's final weekend.

Denver (8-7) 14
BUFFALO (6-9) 40
THE STATS: Denver QB Tim Tebow 4 interceptions.
THE STORY: This was Buffalo's 1st win since their 7 game losing streak started. Think about it. We've celebrated Christmas, Thanksgiving, AND Halloween since the Bills had last won a game.

Tampa Bay (4-11) 16
CAROLINA (6-9) 48
THE STATS: Carolina QB Cam Newton 12-17-171-0-3 TD, 142.4 rating; 6-65-1 TD rushing (10.8 average).
THE STORY: Strangest stat line comparison of the week: Cam Newton throws for 3 TDs, runs for 1 TD, while New England QB Tom Brady throws for just one TD, but runs for 2 TDs.

Arizona (7-8) 16
THE STATS: Cincinnati 165 yards rushing to just 136 passing.
THE STORY: The only 9-6 team and currently in the 2nd wild card spot for the AFC, but the Bengals still have some "clinches a playoff spot with...." work ahead of them.

OAKLAND (8-7) 16
Kansas City (6-9) 13
THE STATS: Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski 3 FGs, 1 XP, 10 points, including overtime 36-yard game winner.
THE STORY: Someone say it: "Future Hall of Famer Sebastian Janikowski".

Miami (5-10) 24
NEW ENGLAND (12-3) 27
THE STATS: New England 4 touchdowns rushing, just 1 TD receiving.
THE STORY: Patriots are the only team in the AFC who controls their own playoff destiny -- win and earn the home field advantage. No "Loss OR tie", no Loss by a team plus a loss by a team plus a loss by a team plus a loss OR tie". Just win.

NY GIANTS (8-7) 29
NY Jets (8-7) 14
THE STATS: Giants win with just 11 first downs, 9-27 passing, 23:54 of possession.
THE STORY: Funny road game at home for the Giants. At least one of the teams played like they were at home; it just wasn't the Jets.

St. Louis (2-13) 0
PITTSBURGH (11-4) 27
THE STATS: 2nd shutout of the season for Pittsburgh.
THE STORY: Great 3-way race between Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and New England, any of which could take home field advantage.

Jacksonville (4-11) 17
TENNESSEE (8-7) 23
THE STATS: Tennessee tight end Jared Cook 8-169-1 TD.
THE STORY: Perhaps the screwiest playoff tiebreaker ever has the Titans rooting for the Jets to win on Sunday, unless Oakland and Denver win, in which case the Titans want the Jets to lose; and they want Oakland to win, unless New York wins, in which case the Titans want Oakland to lose.

MINNESOTA (3-12) 33
Washington (5-10) 26
THE STATS: Minnesota linebacker E.J. Henderson 11 tackles.
THE STORY: One of only two meaningless games all weekend which did not feature a team playing for the playoffs or playoff seedings (Tampa Bay at Carolina).

San Diego (7-8) 10
DETROIT (10-5) 38
THE STATS: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford outplays San Diego QB Philip Rivers, 137.6 rating to 60.2.
THE STORY: Detroit has the advantage of playing Green Bay to end the season. Green Bay, by my calculation, is the only playoff or playoff-possible team which has nothing left for which to play.

Dallas (8-7) 7
THE STATS: Eagles outscore Dallas 54-14 in two games this season.
THE STORY: Philadelphia's so-called "Dream Team" falls short in the easiest division to win this season.

Seattle (7-8) 17
THE STATS: David Akers 4-5 FG, NFL record 42 field goals on the season.
THE STORY: San Francisco may have benefited from a weak NFC West (4-1 against the West with 1 game left), but they also defeated Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, NY Giants, Pittsburgh outside the division.

Chicago (7-8) 21
GREEN BAY (14-1) 35
THE STATS: Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers 21-29-283-0-5 TD, 142.7 rating.
THE STORY: Never mind the Packers; can I buy stock in Aaron Rodgers?

Atlanta (9-6) 16
NEW ORLEANS (12-3) 45
THE STATS: New Orleans WR Marques Colston 7-81-1 TD.
THE STORY: Who's peaking in December? New Orleans wins their 7th in a row.

- 30 -

Friday, December 23, 2011


So the Denver Broncos are the team everyone wants to watch. Well, in the 4th quarter, anyway.

Jacksonville (4-10) 14
ATLANTA (9-5) 41
THE STATS: Atlanta WR Roddy White 10-135-2 TD.
THE STORY: Sometimes, you're happy that you can't watch a game because it is carried on the premium channel NFL Network. This was one of those weeks.

DALLAS (8-6) 31
Tampa Bay (4-10) 15
THE STATS: Dallas 399 total yards to 190; 28 first downs to 7; time of possession 37:59 to 22:01.
THE STORY: Dallas' win puts them in position to clinch the division this weekend -- or sets them up for another epic choke.

St. Louis (2-12) 13
THE STATS: Cincinnati returner Brandon Tate 4-101 (25.3 avg) kick returns; 2-71 (35.5) punt returns.
THE STORY: St. Louis offense has scored just 14 TDs in 14 games.

MIAMI (5-9) 30
Buffalo (5-9) 23
THE STATS: Teams combined for 6 turnovers, 16 penalties, 14 punts.
THE STORY: Miami started the season 0-7; Buffalo has now lost 7 straight, including every game since the Miami streak ended. Gotta love the symmetry.

NY Giants (7-7) 10
THE STATS: Washington just 2 penalties (to 8 for Giants).
THE STORY: Giants now face a critical showdown this weekend, on the world's shortest road trip -- to their own stadium to play the Jets.

Tennessee (7-7) 13
THE STATS: Colts win with just 10 first downs, 3-12 on 3rd down conversions.
THE STORY: With their 1st win, Colts have not clinched, still have some work to do earn the 1st pick in the draft.

SEATTLE (7-7) 38
Chicago (7-7) 14
THE STATS: Seattle outscores Chicago 31-0 in the 2nd half.
THE STORY: Chicago's 4th loss in a row; they can't clinch next week, but they can be eliminated.

Green Bay (13-1) 14
KANSAS CITY (6-8) 19
THE STATS: Kansas City defense holds Aaron Rodgers to 48.6%, 5.5 yards per pass play, sacked 4 times.
THE STORY: Children in Nigeria now wearing green "19-0" shirts.

CAROLINA (5-9) 28
Houston (10-4) 13
THE STATS: Carolina punting: 5 punts-50.4 yard average to just 2-29.5 average for Houston (3 turnovers).
THE STORY: Nevermind the Green Bay loss and the Indianapolis win; this game might have been the biggest upset of the weekend.

NEW ORLEANS (11-3) 42
Minnesota (2-12) 20
THE STATS: New Orleans RB Darren Sproles 33 yards rushing, 79 yards receiving (TD), 75 yards kick returns, 45 yards punt returns.
THE STORY: Vikings want a new stadium, or they might move. Coincidentally, many of the fans now like the latter idea.

DETROIT (9-5) 28
Oakland (7-7) 27
THE STATS: Detroit WR Calvin Johnson 9-214-2 TD.
THE STORY: Let me see if I have this straight. Detroit clinches a wild card spot with a win or tie, OR a Chicago loss or tie and an Arizona loss or tie, and a Seattle loss or tie, and a Dallas loss or tie OR a Chicago loss or tie, and an Arizona loss or tie and a Seattle loss or tie and a New York loss or tie, OR a Chicago loss or tie and an Arizona loss or tie and a Seattle loss or tie and an Atlanta win or tie. Simple.

Cleveland (4-10) 17
ARIZONA (7-7) 20
THE STATS: Last 5 Cleveland possessions of the game: Punt, Fumble, Punt, Punt, Punt.
THE STORY: Overtime win by Arizona after starting the 4th quarter down by 10 points; may have been the best game of the week. Meaningless, but the best game.

NY Jets (8-6) 19
THE STATS: Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy, 18-102-3 TDs, team record 20 TDs on the season.
THE STORY: Eagles are still alive? Next you're going to tell me that the Colts won a game.

NEW ENGLAND (11-3) 41
Denver (8-6) 23
THE STATS: Tebow: 80.5 rating; Brady: 117.3 rating.
THE STORY: Tebow magic falls short to a superior team.

Baltimore (10-4) 14
SAN DIEGO (7-7) 34
THE STATS: Chargers 3rd win in a row.
THE STORY: The Chargers' usual late-season run came a little late this year. But too late too little?

Pittsburgh (10-4) 3
THE STATS: 2 power outages for 35 minutes.
THE STORY: Conspiracy theories abound about the lights going out in San Francisco, as a ploy to get a new stadium. Yeah, I'll believe that when an earthquake hits the Bay area during the World Series.

- 30 -

Friday, December 2, 2011


So Tim Tebow is running the ball and winning, but gets criticized. Why doesn't he get the same break that Michael Vick has gotten all these years for being the same type of quarterback?

GREEN BAY (11-0) 27
Detroit (7-4) 15
THE STATS: Detroit 11 penalties, -3 on turnovers.
THE STORY: Still undefeated Packers get Lions again for the final game of the season. The division race won't be at stake the next time, but history probably will be.

Miami (3-8) 19
DALLAS (7-4) 20
THE STATS: Dallas WR Laurent Robinson 7-79-2 TD.
THE STORY: Best game of the weekend. There were 6 lead changes in the game, along with a lot of cold turkeys and angry wives across America.

San Francisco(9-2) 6
BALTIMORE (8-3) 16
THE STATS: Baltimore defense: allows 170 total yards, just 96 yards passing.
THE STORY: The sparkling wine from the Napa Valley is on hold for another week in the San Francisco locker room.

ARIZONA (4-7) 23
St. Louis (2-9) 20
THE STATS: Arizona RB Beanie Wells 27-228-1 TD.
THE STORY: The winning quarterback, John Skelton, had no touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a passer rating of 30.0. Sounds like a Tim Tebow stat line.

Buffalo (5-6) 24
NY JETS (6-5) 28
THE STATS: NY Jets TE Dustin Keller 4-61-2 TD.
THE STORY: Bills have lost to the Jets twice during their current 4 game losing streak.

Cleveland (4-7) 20
THE STATS: Mike Nugent two 4th quarter FGs to tie and win (:38 remaining).
THE STORY: Early coach of the year candidate: Marvin Lewis. Last year: 4 wins. This year: 7 and counting and current playoff spot.

HOUSTON (8-3) 20
Jacksonville (3-8) 13
THE STATS: Houston defense: 7 sacks.
THE STORY: Impressive 5 game win streak for Houston, but only one against a team with a winning record (Tennessee).

CAROLINA (3-8) 27
Indianapolis (0-11) 19
THE STATS: Indianapolis 1-9 on 3rd down conversions.
THE STORY: It wasn't only that the Colts converted just one single 3rd down conversion; but they only had 9 such conversion attempts the entire game, on 11 possessions.

Tampa Bay (4-7) 17
TENNESSEE (6-5) 23
THE STATS: Tennessee RB Chris Johnson 23-190-0 TD.
THE STORY: Nice win to run Titans' record to 6-5, but still just good enough to stay in that "Also in contention" column.

Minnesota (2-9) 14
ATLANTA (7-4) 24
THE STATS: Atlanta QB Matt Ryan 27-34-262-0-3 TD, 128.2 rating.
THE STORY: Atlanta stays in the wild card and division race, setting up a great Monday Night Finale against New Orleans the night after Christmas.

Chicago (7-4) 20
OAKLAND (7-4) 25
THE STATS: Oakland K Sebastian Janikowski 1-1 XP, 6-6 FG, 19 points.
THE STORY: Janikowski had 229 yards in kicking field goals.

Seattle (4-7) 17
THE STATS: Washington RB Roy Helu 23-108-1 TD, 7-54 rushing.
THE STORY: Redskins interrupt their 6 game losing streak with a win.

NEW ENGLAND (8-3) 38
Philadelphia (4-7) 20
THE STATS: New England WR Wes Welker 8-115-2 TD.
THE STORY: Eagles, who set records for blowing 4th quarter leads this season, didn't wait so long against the Patriots. The Eagles' 10 point 1st quarter lead at 8:19 was gone just 1:48 into the 2nd quarter.

DENVER (6-5) 16
San Diego (4-7) 13
THE STATS: Denver QB Tim Tebow 9-18-143-0-1 TD, 95.4 rating, 22-67 yards rushing.
THE STORY: The great debate continues: are the Broncos winning because of Tim Tebow, or in spite of him?

Kansas City (4-7) 9
THE STATS: Pittsburgh defense gets 4 turnovers.
THE STORY: Steelers now 8-1 against teams not from Baltimore.

NY Giants (6-5) 24
NEW ORLEANS (8-3) 49
THE STATS: New Orleans QB Drew Brees 24-38-363-0-4 TD, 129.6 rating.
THE STORY: Good season the Saints are putting together, but they don't yet appear on the "Could clinch with..." list, so they still have work to do.

- 30 -

Friday, November 4, 2011


So the ESPN cameras caught Philip Rivers saying "This is the worst thing ever" after his fumble cost the Chargers a chance to win the Monday Night game. Worst thing ever? Has he seen the Dolphins play lately?

Indianapolis (0-8) 10
TENNESSEE (4-3) 27
THE STATS: Indianapolis outgains Tennessee 399-311, 22 first downs to 17, but -2 in turnovers, -7 in penalties.
THE STORY: NCAA rules notwithstanding, the Colts should find a way to invite Andrew Luck to watch practice. Ya know, just to get an early start on things.

Jacksonville (2-6) 14
HOUSTON (5-3) 24
THE STATS: Houston double the yardage, 358 to 174.
THE STORY: Houston now 3-0 in division, beating each division opponent in their first meeting.

MINNESOTA (2-6) 24
Carolina (2-6) 21
THE STATS: Minnesota QB Christian Ponder 18-28-236-102.7 rating.
THE STORY: I think I figured out how Minnesota can win. After blowing halftime leads in 4 times this season, they didn't blow one this time. It was tied 14-14 at the half. So the Vikes just need to stop leading at halftime and they can win.

New Orleans (5-3) 21
ST. LOUIS (1-6) 31
THE STATS: St. Louis RB Steven Jackson 25-15-2 TDs.
THE STORY: The shocker here isn't that a week after scoring 62 and giving up 7 against Indianapolis, that the Saints scored just 21 and gave up 31 against St. Louis. Rather, The Story is that a week after scoring 7 and giving up 34 at Dallas, that winless St. Louis could put up 31 and give up just 21 to New Orleans. There's something about a blind squirrel that you can insert here.

Arizona (1-6) 27
BALTIMORE (5-2) 30
THE STATS: Arizona up 24-6 at the half.
THE STORY: What's with all the blown leads in the NFL this season? Is Frank Reich running a school on how to overcome any deficit?

Miami (0-7) 17
NY GIANTS (5-2) 20
THE STATS: NY Giants QB Eli Manning 31-45-349-0-2 TDs, 106.6 rating.
THE STORY: Could Dolphins be the first franchise to win every game in a season, *and* lose every game in another?

Washington (3-4) 0
BUFFALO (5-2) 23
THE STATS: Washington 178 total yards, 2.2 yards per rush, 3.6 per pass play.
THE STORY: Redskins' 3 game losing streak is longest current losing streak in the NFL for teams not named Cardinals, Dolphins, or Colts.

DETROIT (6-2) 45
Denver (2-5) 10
THE STATS: Detroit defense: 7 sacks, 1 interception, 2 fumble recovery, 117 net yards passing.
THE STORY: Tebowing is: 1) The latest Internet craze 2) An expression of devotion and thanks to god 3) A beat down of the opposing team's quarterback.

New England (5-2) 17
THE STATS: New England: 43 yards rushing, 3.6 average per rush.
THE STORY: Quick question (no peeking until you've guessed): who's got the best record in the AFC right now?

Cleveland (3-4) 10
THE STATS: San Francisco RB Frank Gore 31-134-1 TD.
THE STORY: Besides Green Bay, I bet you can't name one team in the NFL with a better record than San Francisco. You can't, because there isn't.

Seattle (2-5) 12
THE STATS: Seattle outgains Cincinnati 411-252 in the loss.
THE STORY: Early Elias Sports Bureau Season-ending stat prediction alert: Seattle winds up with the worst 2nd place record of any NFL team, ever.

Dallas (2-5) 7
THE STATS: Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy 30-185-2 TDs.
THE STORY: Andy Reid now 13-0 after bye weeks; Eagles petitioning NFL to add 16 more bye weeks to the schedule.

San Diego (4-3) 20
KANSAS CITY (4-3) 23
THE STATS: San Diego QB Philip Rivers passing: 26-41-369-2-0 TD, 72.1 rating. San Diego QB Philip Rivers rushing: 3 carries, 1 yard, 1 fumble lost.
THE STORY: Philip Rivers did his best Romo in blowing a chance to win the game.

- 30 -

Friday, October 28, 2011


So Tebowing has replaced planking as the latest Internet

I think I've seen this praying position before, but I just can't put
my finger on it. Maybe I'll remember after I leave the Rodin museum.

CHICAGO (4-3) 24
Tampa Bay (4-3) 18
THE STATS: Chicago RB Matt Forte 25-145-1 TD.
THE STORY: Tampa Bay's schedule doesn't get any easier, with 3 straight division leaders ahead (New Orleans, Houston, Green Bay).

Washington (3-3) 20
CAROLINA (2-5) 33
THE STATS: Carolina QB Cam Newton: 18-23-256-0-1 TD passing, 127.5 rating; 10-59-1 TD rushing.
THE STORY: After starting the season 3-1, Redskins (3-3) now just a .500 team in a .500 division.

San Diego (4-2) 21
NY JETS (4-3) 27
THE STATS: Jets defense holds Philip Rivers to 50% passing, 179 yards, 51.4 rating.
THE STORY: Jets not accustomed to being in 3rd place in the AFC East; San Diego not accustomed to leading the AFC West in October.

Seattle (2-4) 3
THE STATS: Cleveland K Phil Dawson two 50+ yard field goals (52,53).
THE STORY: Let's be kind and just call this one "a defensive struggle".

HOUSTON (4-3) 41
Tennessee (3-3) 7
THE STATS: Houston RB Arian Foster 25-115-2 TD rushing; 5-119-1 TD receiving.
THE STORY: Texans laid down the most impressive combination of offensive (518 yards) and defensive (148 yards allowed) performances of the day -- until the Sunday Night game.

DENVER (2-4) 18
Miami (0-6) 15
THE STATS: Miami 15-0 lead with 7:34 to play.
THE STORY: Miami loses chance to win a game against the worst team it will face all year. The rest of Miami's schedule is entirely against teams with .500 or better records.

ATLANTA (4-3) 23
Detroit (5-2) 16
THE STATS: Detroit 1-12 3rd down conversions.
THE STORY: In spite of 2 straight losses, Detroit would make the playoffs, if the season ended today. Unfortunately for them, the season doesn't end today.

KANSAS CITY (3-3) 28
Oakland (4-3) 0
THE STATS: Oakland gets 322 yards, 18 1st downs, but 0 points thanks
to 6 turnovers.
THE STORY: New Raiders QB Carson Palmer went for 17.3. That's not completions or points. That was his QB rating after replacing starter Kyle Boller in the 2nd half. Palmer was 8-21-116-3-0 TD.

Arizona (1-5) 20
THE STATS: Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger 26-39-361-0-3-121.8 rating.
THE STORY: At least Arizona still has two more games against winless St. Louis to look forward to.

St. Louis (0-6) 7
DALLAS (3-3) 34
THE STATS: Dallas RB DeMarco Murray 25-253-1 TD.
THE STORY: Why was DeMarco Murray still available for pickup as a free agent in my fantasy league on Wednesday after he set a Dallas rushing record?

GREEN BAY (7-0) 33
Minnesota (1-6) 27
THE STATS: Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers 24-30-335-0-3 TD, 146.5 rating.
THE STORY: Yes, Minnesota blew another halftime lead (17-13).

Indianapolis (0-7) 7
NEW ORLEANS (5-2) 62
THE STATS: New Orleans: 36 1st downs, 557 yards, 38:19 possession.
THE STORY: NBC showed Peyton Manning on the sidelines so many times during the Sunday Night broadcast, I thought I was watching ESPN "This is SportsCenter" commercials.

Baltimore (4-2) 7
THE STATS: Jacksonville defense: allowed just 146 yards.
THE STORY: Baltimore saved their worst performance of the year for the national spotlight of Monday Night Football.

- 30 -

Friday, October 21, 2011

The NFL Story: Week #6

So Chicago is playing Tampa Bay in England this Sunday. Is the game on the Tampa Bay season ticket plan? And are the Buccaneers planning on running a bus to the game for the fans?

St. Louis (0-5) 3
GREEN BAY (6-0) 24
THE STATS: Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers 17-28-310-1-3-119.6 rating.
THE STORY: No Super Bowl hangover here.

Jacksonville (1-5) 13
THE STATS: Pittsburgh balanced attack 185 yards rushing, 185 yards passing.
THE STORY: Steelers are sandwiched in the middle of a division separated 1st place to last by just 2 games.

Washington (3-2) 13
THE STATS: Washington 1-10 on 3rd down conversions.
THE STORY: Occupy Philadelphia protesters go back to complaining about Wall Street instead of Andy Reid.

Detroit (4-2) 19
THE STATS: San Francisco: 203 yards rushing, 7.0 average. 111 yards passing, 3.3 yards per pass play.
THE STORY: Niners and Lions were each 6-10 last year; now both 5-1.

Carolina (1-5) 17
ATLANTA (3-3) 31
THE STATS: Atlanta RB Michael Turner 27-139-2 TD.
THE STORY: Atlanta: Best .500 team in the NFL.

Indianapolis (0-6) 17
THE STATS: Colts had just 2 penalties but 3 turnovers; Bengals 11 penalties but 0 turnovers.
THE STORY: Season not yet lost for Indy; they can match last year's record by running the table 10-0.

Buffalo (4-2) 24
NY GIANTS (4-2) 27
THE STATS: New York Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw 26-104-3 TDs.
THE STORY: Giants take 1-0 lead in the Battle For New York, this being a rare year when all 3 New York state teams play each other.

Houston (3-3) 14
BALTIMORE (4-1) 29
THE STATS: Baltimore K Billy Cundiff 2-2 XP, 5-5 FG (43, 48, 25, 33, 40), 17 points.
THE STORY: Houston completes the 0-3 weekend for the AFC South, which at 7-16 is the worst division in the NFL.

Cleveland (2-3) 17
OAKLAND (4-2) 24
THE STATS: Oakland defense allows just 3.9 yards per Cleveland play.
THE STORY: No letdown for Oakland after their emotional signature win of the season last week.

Dallas (2-3) 16
NEW ENGLAND (5-1) 20
THE STATS: Tom Brady 8-9-78 yards, TD passing, 2 yards rushing, on
last-minute drive.
THE STORY: Bill Belichick seemed happy about being back in first place in the AFC East; during his post game press lashing, he only snarled twice at the media, gave one word answers only 3 times, and even took off the hood.

New Orleans (4-2) 20
TAMPA BAY (4-2) 26
THE STATS: New Orleans +33 on total yards, but -4 on turnovers.
THE STORY: Huge tiebreaker loss for Saints as Tampa Bay ties for the division lead.

Minnesota (1-5) 10
CHICAGO (3-3) 39
THE STATS: Chicago QB Jay Cutler 21-31-267-0-2 TD, 115.9 rating.
THE STORY: Donovan McNabb had his best game of the season -- a 97.4 passer rating. And then got fired from his third 1st string QB job in three years. There's no stimulus plan in the world that can save McNabb's job.

Miami (0-5) 6
NY JETS (3-3) 24
THE STATS: Jets defense: 4 sacks, 1 fumble recovered, 2
interceptions, 1 pick six, 6 points allowed.
THE STORY: Jets coach Rex Ryan said that he would have two Super Bowl rings with San Diego if he'd had Norv Turner's personnel. Then he apologized. But what part of that was wrong?

- 30 -

Friday, October 14, 2011

The NFL Story: Week #5

So Hank Williams Jr's theme song is no longer on Monday Night
Football. If only we could also get rid of that awful Faith Hill song.

KANSAS CITY (2-3) 28
Indianapolis (0-5) 24
THE STATS: Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe 7-128-2 TD.
THE STORY: One day, Indianapolis will win a game. They just need to get Peyton Manning back. And Joseph Addai. And Marshall Faulk. And Marvin Harrison. And Edgerrin James. And Johnny Unitas. And Raymond Berry. And Lenny Moore. And Art Donovan.

Arizona (1-4) 10
MINNESOTA (1-4) 34
THE STATS: Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson 29-122-3 TD.
THE STORY: Even Minnesota couldn't blow a 28-3 halftime lead.

Philadelphia (1-4) 24
BUFFALO (4-1) 31
THE STATS: Buffalo LB Nick Barnett 2 Int, 1 TD return.
THE STORY: How bad is it for the Eagles? Well, you know that play at the end of the game, where the team that is leading with 1:30 left tries to draw the other team offsides by making like they are going to snap the ball on 4th down, but of course, everyone knows they are just trying to draw the defense offsides? It never works. Against the Eagles, it worked, as Juqua Parker jumped offsides, ruining a chance for the Eagles to score a late TD to tie.

OAKLAND (3-2) 25
Houston (3-2) 20
THE STATS: Oakland's Al Davis 1929-2011.
THE STORY: Just win, baby.

NEW ORLEANS (4-1) 30
Carolina (1-4) 27
THE STATS: New Orleans QB Drew Brees 32-45-359-1-2 TD, 100.1 rating.
THE STORY: Saints are the only team in the NFL to lose their first game and win every week since.

Jacksonville (1-4) 20
THE STATS: Cincinnati 2-3 on 4th down conversions.
THE STORY: With Jacksonville down by just 3 points, the official description of the final wild play for the Jags went like this: QB Blaine Gabbert passed to Mike Thomas to the right for 13 yard gain. Mike Thomas fumbled. Maurice Jones-Drew recovered fumble. Maurice Jones-Drew fumbled. Jarett Dillard recovered fumble. lateral to
Blaine Gabbert. Blaine Gabbert fumbled. Geno Atkins recovered fumble and returned for 10 yards (Mike Nugent made PAT).

Tennessee (3-2) 17
THE STATS: Pittsburgh offense: 26 first downs.
THE STORY: Titans' RB Chris Johnson still trying to be Chris Johnson (14-51-1 TD).

SEATTLE (2-3) 36
NY Giants (3-2) 25
THE STATS: Teams combined for 31 points on 6 scores in the 4th quarter.
THE STORY: Giants blow a shot at the NFC East lead against an NFC West team that was 0-3 outside its own division.

Tampa Bay (3-2) 3
THE STATS: San Francisco RB Frank Gore 20-121 TD.
THE STORY: San Francisco had more yards rushing (213) than passing (205). Didn't they pass a rule against such things in the NFL ?

NY Jets (2-3) 21
NEW ENGLAND (4-1) 30
THE STATS: New England RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 27-136-2 TD.
THE STORY: Jets have given up 30 points in each of the past three games, all losses. First two games, gave up 27 points combined, winning both.

SAN DIEGO (4-1) 29
Denver (1-4) 24
THE STATS: San Diego balanced offense 206 yards rushing, 212 passing.
THE STORY: San Diego, a notoriously slow starting team, is already 4-1. Denver is just notoriously bad.

GREEN BAY (5-0) 25
Atlanta (2-3) 14
THE STATS: Green Bay 25 straight points after spotting Atlanta a 14-0 lead.
THE STORY: Between now and Week #12 when 5-0 Packers finally play 5-0 Detroit, Green Bay's 5 opponents are 9-15 (.375).

Chicago (2-3) 13
DETROIT (4-1) 24
THE STATS: Teams combined for 26 penalties for 198 yards (Chicago: 14-104).
THE STORY: I don't know what was more bizarre -- seeing the Lions play on Monday Night Football, or not hearing Hank Williams, Jr. on Monday Night Football.

- 30 -

Friday, September 16, 2011

The NFL Story Week # 1

So the NFL put kick offs up at the 35-yard line. Some day, I will tell my son about the old days, when kicks were run back for touchdowns.

New Orleans (0-1) 34
GREEN BAY (1-0) 42
THE STATS: Each team scored at least one touchdown in every quarter.
THE STORY: What a great show the NFL put on for the opening game of the season. It was exciting, entertaining, and full of fireworks. And that was *before* the kickoff.

Pittsburgh (0-1) 7
BALTIMORE (1-0) 35
THE STATS: Pittsburgh: 7 turnovers
THE STORY: Steelers tumble in all of those NFL "Power Ranking" articles.

DETROIT (1-0) 27
Tampa Bay (0-1) 20
THE STATS: Detroit WR Calvin Johnson 6-88-2 TD.
THE STORY: Seems like the last time Detroit won an opener was the Johnson administration. That's Andrew Johnson.

Atlanta (0-1) 12
CHICAGO (1-0) 30
THE STATS: Chicago 9.0 yards per pass play.
THE STORY: Significant game, as this was the only game all weekend between two of last year's division winners.

BUFFALO (1-0) 41
Kansas City (0-1) 7
THE STATS: Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 17-25-208-0-4 TD, 133.0 rating.
THE STORY: C'mon, admit it, you're thinking it: Buffalo worst to first?

Indianapolis (0-1) 7
HOUSTON (1-0) 34
THE STATS: Indianapolis QB Kerry Collins 16-31-197-0-1 TD, 82.3 rating filling in for Peyton Manning.
THE STORY: A bit of advice for the Colts. It's all "succession planning". Try it at your quarterback position.

St. Louis (0-1) 13
THE STATS: Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy 15-122-1 TD.
THE STORY: There were 7 kickoff returns in this game, only 1 punt return. Who said the NFL was eliminating kick off returns?

Cleveland (0-1) 17
THE STATS: Cincinnati 2 TDs in final 5 minutes.
THE STORY: Smart scheduling decision to have Cincinnati and Cleveland play each other in the opening week. One of them gets to lead the division for exactly 7 days. Sell tickets while you can, boys.

Tennessee (0-1) 14
THE STATS: Jacksonville defense: allows just 13 first downs, only 1 by rushing.
THE STORY: How bad a day did Chris Johnson (9-24 yards) have? His fantasy owners wish they had selected Donovan McNabb instead.

NY Giants (0-1) 14
THE STATS: NY Giants: 1-11 on 3rd/4th down efficiency.
THE STORY: Losing a conference and division game not a good way to start the season. Giants haven't made the playoffs since their Super Bowl win. How long does a 2007 season Super Bowl victory let you hold your head coaching job, anyway?

Carolina (0-1) 21
ARIZONA (1-0) 28
THE STATS: Carolina QB Cam Newton 24-37-422-1-2 TD, 110.4 rating; 8-18-1 TD rushing in the loss.
THE STORY: Is the NFC South (0-4) the new NFC West?

Seattle (0-1) 17
THE STATS: San Francisco K David Akers 4-4 FG (27,25,31,18), 3-3 XP after being let go by Philadelphia.
THE STORY: No panic in Seattle, where a 7-8 record for the sest of the season will match last year's division-winning record.

Minnesota (0-1) 17
SAN DIEGO (1-0) 24
THE STATS: Minnesota QB Donovan McNabb 7-15-39-1-1 TD in Vikings debut.
THE STORY: Who are these coaches that keep trading for McNabb?

Dallas (0-1) 24
NY JETS (1-0) 27
THE STATS: Dallas was up 24-10 in the 4th quarter. Naturally, they lost.
THE STORY: Romo's interception with under a minute to go adds to his list of late-game chokes. Hey, holding a ball for a game-winning kick in a playoff game is difficult.

NEW ENGLAND (1-0) 38
Miami (0-1) 24
THE STATS: New England QB Tom Brady 32-48-517-1-4 TD, 121.6 rating.
THE STORY: Brady had the 5th most fantasy points -- I mean, passing yards -- of all time.

OAKLAND (1-0) 23
Denver (0-1) 20
THE STATS: Oakland K Sebastien Janikowski record-tying 63-yard FG (3-3 FGs) as time expires in the 1st half.
THE STORY: Great way to end a great weekend and evening of football. If you could stay up until 1:46am to watch it.

- 30 -

Friday, August 19, 2011


The biggest little scandal to hit college sports since the last scandal to hit college sports has been flying under the radar for awhile, but this one looks like it could be the grandaddy of all the college sports scandals.

I won't go into the long, lengthy, sordid details here. I could never summarize 6744 words in a 200-line newsletter. You can read the ground-breaking story on the controversy surrounding the University of Miami athletic program here:

Let's just set a little background before getting to a few observations and questions that are raised by it.

Nevin Shapiro made millions in a ponzi scheme, filtered substantial sums of money to top football and basketball athletes at the University of Miami, as well as the athletic program itself. He lavished cars, cash, parties, and prostitutes at the players, eventually investing in a sports player representation firm. Shapiro then sheparded to the firm athletes with whom he'd nurtured very close relationships. After going to jail in connection with the ponzi scheme in 2010, he felt abandoned and betrayed by the Miami athletic community, so he dropped the goods on The U.

And that brings us to The Sports Bar's questions surrounding this mess at one of the country's most successful athletic programs:

1. Why didn't these allegations come out earlier? Shapiro's connection to Miami started in 2002. There were neighbors who saw the players at the Booster's house. Employees on Shapiro's yacht interacted with the player. Bodyguards saw everything. Restaurant staff served them. Prostitutes performed favors. Why didn't they come forward earlier? Maybe they did, maybe their stories weren't believable. Is a felon like Shapiro the most reliable source around?

2. Does the story establish Yahoo Sports as a major sports investigative reporting outlet? Yahoo Sports spent 100 hours interviewing the central figure, Nevin Shapiro, alone. They then sought corroboration of everything about which they reported. Right now, ESPN's Outside The Lines has nothing on Yahoo Sports investigations.

3. What part of the allegations were illegal? I don't think the Yahoo Sports story even once mentioned how, if at all, the gifts and favors were illegal. The story did refer to some activities as being "permissable", but I believe that was in the context of NCAA regulations. Just about every breath that Shapiro took on campus -- or off -- led to obvious NCAA violations. But was there illegal bribery? Prostitution? Was the conduct of the player agency in violation of Florida state laws? What about the use of the illegally gotten ponzi money?

4. What is the most disturbing of the allegations? The cash to players? The sex-induced parties? The conflict of interest in sending players to Shapiro's own player agency? The way the University either looked the other way, or was so stupid as not to see what was happening right under their noses? To me, the worst thing Shapiro initiated may have been the cash bounty put on Florida State quarterback Chris Rix. Money was offered to Miami players who could hurt Rix in the Miami vs. Florida State game.

5. Let's see how many steps it takes for this scandal to reach a messy political connection: 1. Donna Shalala is and was the President of the University of Miami when Shapiro was engaging in this behavior, including handing a $ 50,000 check to Shalala at a basketball fund raiser. Shalala was previously the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the Clinton administration. There you go; just two degrees of separation.

6. That said, how long before someone tries to connect this to the White House (like I just did?). Will the Fair and Balanced network drum up an inference of impropriety on the part of a former democratic cabinet member? And will the Lean Forward network then blast the Fair and Balanced for trying to make the University of Miami story into a race issue, and blame the Tea Party?

7. The NCAA now says they have been investigating The U of Miami for 4 months now. Great! But why didn't they mention this before? I can understand confidentiality and "No Comment" on pending investigations, but why did they suddenly find it necessary to admit they were investigating? If their position before the Yahoo Sports story broke was not to reveal who they are investigating, why did they not stick to that policy?

8. If true, will the conduct by Shapiro and the athletic department be the Watergate of all college athletic violations? According to Yahoo Sports, several coaches knew what was going on. Will the NCAA invoke exceptions to their 4-year statute of limitations, or will The U get off easy because of the statute of limitations? And will this put a cloud over the entire athletic department at Miami, the entire Big East conference in which they play, or all of college sports?

You'll want to stay up on this, because it has all the makings of not just water cooler talk, but of being The Big One.

- 30 -

Monday, August 15, 2011


I usually don't have a problem with ESPN's Outside The Lines stories. How can you? The Sunday morning show is informative, hard-hitting, and, well, accurate.

Its the accurate part that I am now questioning.

On Sunday's OTL, ESPN continued following the story of The Ohio State football program. This is the program that is the current poster child for what is wrong with college football, recruiting, and corrupt coaches. Of course, the story recanted the issues with former star quarterback Terrell Pryor's receiving goods and services in exchange for his autographing memorabilia, and with former head coach Jim Tressel's lassiez-faire (to put it kindly) attitude towards reporting known NCAA violations.

What bugs me was a small, but sensationalized reference in the piece. If you hadn't been scrutinizing the story, it would have slipped right past you. It was almost a throwaway line -- except that it unfairly damned The Ohio State University athletic department.

The reference was made in conjunction with OTL's reporting on the money allegedly made by OSU boosters in the market for autographed memorabilia. That's money which, as the story goes, eventually made its way to players in the form of favors or cash.

What OTL said in the story was:

"Ohio State may have seeded the market for autographed merchandise."

That was a reference specifically aimed at a particular OSU-sponsored player autograph event.

What is bothersome is that the ESPN story would try to damn OSU for doing something innocuous, while making it sound like OSU's conduct was part of the overall bad conduct on the part of the University and its employees -- and by employees, we include coaches and players.

This is no excuse for The Ohio State, but plenty of schools conduct events like this one. So are all football programs "seeding the market" for player autographs because they choose to hold player meet and greets like the one depicted by ESPN?

It is hard to understand how an autograph session or sessions even manages to "seed the market" for memorabilia, anyway. The accusation against the players were that they specifically and privately signed stuff for boosters who returned favors -- like tatoos -- to the players. It is not alleged that signed merchandise was taken from those official OSU events and resold in a manner which violated NCAA rules.

And their is no allegation that the autograph signing event was a violation of NCAA rules. So why did ESPN go out of their way to mention the autograph event?

Indeed, if the official Buckeye athletic department signing events had any effect, it would have been to diminish and water down the memorabilia market, not to "seed" the market, as ESPN alleges. By making more autographed gear accessible, OSU would have discouraged other boosters from getting players to sign for them personally. The official OSU events would have made the privately-signed stuff less valuable in a watered-down market for memorabilia.

This mention of "seeding the market" by the ESPN story was just one part of a much larger, well-done piece. It is just hard to understand why the reference was used, except to make the story more sensational and damning of The Ohio State University.

ESPN's Outside The Lines is great TV for anyone interested in the other side of sports. But we can do without the editorializing.

- 30 -

Monday, August 8, 2011


I heard a funny guy on TV the other, which got me thinking a little
bit about the relationship between sports statistics and politics and

Hey, this is The Sports Bar Newsletter, where we can draw a
relationship between sports and ANYTHING.

The funny guy was uber-liberal commentator, columnist, and Nobel
Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman. You might recognize The Beard
from his Sunday morning newspaper columns and his appearances on
ABC's This Week show on Sunday mornings, which I still refer to
lovingly as "The Brinkley Show."

Krugman, if you've ever read or heard two words that he strung
together, is just about as liberal a guy as you can get. To him, FDR
was a conservative, and Barack Obama is a fascist.

I don't know if Krugman is a sports fan, ala his fellow Brinkley Show
round table panelist George Will. But I know that Krugman would make
a good sports fan.

On Sunday's This Week show, the panelists doing the round table
commentary with host Christiane Amanpour included Krugman, Will, and
conservative tax-hater Grover Norquist.

It was Norquist who made the "Better than" type of sports argument,
but in a political/economic context. He said that the economy was
better in states that had dealt with, and balanced, their
budgets. Places like New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida.

SIDEBAR: Coincidentally (???), all the governors in those states are

Well, Krugman could not let this conservative argument go
unchallenged, like a great baseball question of "A-Rod or Pujols?"

Alex Rodriguez per 162 games: .302 / 43 HR / 128 RBI
Albert Pujols per 162 games: .328 / 42 HR / 127 RBI

Krugman responded to Norquist by saying "We can get into statistics,
but it just isn't true".

Ah. Krugman, so smug with that Nobel Prize apparently stuck up his
butt, could only respond to Norquist with "It just isn't true?" And
his evidence is "We can get into statistics." ?

By saying "We can get into statistics," I think Krugman is conceding
the evidence in favor of Norquist. It is like saying "Sure, you have
the statistical evidence on your side, and we could argue this stat
or that stat all day. I mean, sure, if all you want to do is look at
statistics, then you're right."

"But it just isn't true."

If they were arguing about great baseball players, the two This Week
panelists might have shared a similar exchange:

Norquist: "Hank Aaron was better than Willie Mays. Aaron had more
career home runs, RBI's, better batting average, RBI's. Hank Aaron
was better than Willie Mays."

Krugman: "We can get into statistics, but it just isn't true".

Paul Krugman doesn't need the statistics to be on his side. He just
has to look at you and say you're wrong. And I guess that's good
enough for the media who continue to put him on the air and in print.

- 30 -

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Now that bad umpiring calls have stolen a win from the Pirates, in
addition to a perfect game by Armando Galarraga, and a World Series
from the St. Louis Cardinals, it is time once again for Baseball
Commissioner Bud Selig to reject instant replay for Baseball.

Selig, who has shown himself to be a baseball purist in few other
other aspects of the game, has repeatedly rejected the expanded use
of instant replay. In the wake of Wednesday night's 19-inning game
that was decided by one of the worst calls in baseball history,
someone on ESPN's The Sports Reporters or The Sports Bar Newsletter
will claim that now is the time to finally use replay to help the
umpires do a difficult job.

When Atlanta's Julio Lugo crossed the plate and was called safe by
umpire Jerry Meals in the 19th inning of Wednesday's game against
Pittsburgh, it showed how infallible are umpires, and how necessary
is instant replay.

MLB and umpire Meals later admitted the call was a mistake. But do
we need any more mea culpas from umpires, as was the case when Jim
Joyce made a bad call last year that cost Detroit pitcher Armando
Galarraga a perfect game? Or when Don Denkinger called Jorge Orta
safe in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series? That play
would have ended the Series in favor of St. Louis, but instead,
Kansas City went on to win the game and Game 7.

The technology for instant replay is not only available, but already
in place. MLB uses it for home runs. And every pitch of every game
is video recorded by MLB. The league doesn't even need to turn
everything into a reviewable moment. Strikes and balls should be
sacred, and not subject to replays. All close plays would not need
to be reviewable. Reviews could be limited to just scoring plays at
the plate. Or walk-off plays. Or just 9th-inning plays. The NFL
already changes the way replays are used late in the game, putting
reviews in the hands of booth officials in the final minutes of a game.

Would baseball games be longer with replay? Maybe not. If video
reviews were used, managers would argue less frequently. They would
not come trotting out of the dugout on every close play, because they
know that instant replay would solve the matter. And just like balls
and strikes cannot be argued, MLB could eliminate arguments for
reviewable plays, thus speeding up the games.

So there you have it, Bud. The ball is in your field.

- 30 -

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Irony

I found it interesting to see what was happening in labor law over the past winter and into the spring, from state capitals to sports CBA negotiating strategies.

We all saw the highly charged political environment in Wisconsin, where the governor and legislature have been attempting to reel in the costs of state government, even if that means doing so at the expense of lucrative labor union contracts. Lucrative for the unions, that is.

The volatile atmosphere revolved around what many in the labor community charged was an effort by the Wisconsin government to break unions. The result was an energized and even more resilient union base. It resulted in an environment where unions were trying to strengthen support for, and membership in, unions.

And then along come the NFL player's union to ruin all that.

Isn't it funny that in the middle of this charged pro-union atmosphere, that the NFL player's union, a member of the AFL-CIO, decided that being unionized was a bad thing? That the player's made a choice to de-certify and no longer be represented by a union? That they wholly rejected unionization as the best choice for their future?

That's what the players indicated in March, when they officially decertified during the current NFL lockout.

The answers, of course, are that the de-certification was, irony of ironies, the most collective thing the players could have done. By de-certifying, the players were not rejecting their union, but trying to gain leverage against the owners.

That's because, as non-union workers, the players had a right to sue the NFL owners for anti-trust violations. But as a collective unit, the players were unable to sue the owners.

And make no mistake, football -- and just about any sport -- are walking violations of antitrust law. The act of competitive entities (owners) collectively scheduling their product output (scheduling of games), of dividing up their raw materials (the draft), and other collective measures, are against antitrust law. Just about the only thing the owners have a right to do is combine their efforts to negotiate television contracts and broadcast games, a right they were
given under federal law, in exchange for agreeing not to broadcast NFL games against high school and college football. On the collective negotiation of television rights, the players could not
sue the owners.

So here are the players, having officially decertified, for the obvious purpose of gaining leverage against the owners. It was a smart, calculated move. Deciding that they (officially) no longer
wanted to collectively bargain was probably the most collective thing they could do. And make no mistake, this is just a ploy by the players. They will no doubt re-certify the first chance they
get. And this wouldn't be the first time the players played this de-cert, re-cert game. In 1987, the NFLPA decertified in order to pursue antitrust litigation to win free agency. They recertified in 1993.

Mark my words, the players will recertify again, even if it is just a formality. They'll become a union again, just in time to go march in support of unionized labor in Wisconsin. Yeah, that will be the day.

- 30 -

Monday, March 14, 2011

Changes to the NCAA Tournament


Let us break down some of the details about how the 2011 NCAA tournament is
changing compared to previous years.


The tournament broadcast environment is vastly different this
year. Now, every game will be broadcast -- in its entirety. No more
waiting for halftime cut-ins, or post-game "bonus coverage" to watch
portions of some games. It will take 4 networks to show all of these
games, with Turner's truTV, TBS, and TNT cable outlets joining CBS in
broadcasting the tournament.

So our first tip is to find out -- now -- where the 3 Turner channels
are on your cable or satellite lineup.


For the love of the tournament, check this link now and keep it handy
as a way to get a feel for the busy television schedule over the next
few weeks:'s-march-madness-tv-schedule

While games are listed only as "Game 1," "Game 2," and so on, we see
how truTV, TBS, and TNT are woven into the tournament broadcast
schedule. For example, truTV will broadcast all of the Tuesday and
Wednesday games from Dayton. The games will start at 6:30pm and
9:00pm on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

And here is the early afternoon schedule for the Thursday games that
starts the Round of 64:

12:00pm: Game #1 on CBS
12:30pm: Game #1 on truTV
1:30pm: Game #1 on TBS
2:00pm: Game #1 on TNT

Game #2, Game #3, etc., follow later in the day on each of the 4
televising networks.

The Friday games are on exactly the same schedule.

Good luck watching those overlapping games. Keep a fresh set of
batteries handy for your remote control.


The NCAA and their broadcast partners continue their amazing (read:
FREE) March Madness On Demand online streaming service. This allows
us to watch out-of-market games online. I am not certain, though,
why we need MMOD as much as in the past, since all games will be
broadcast by CBS or one of the Turner cable outlets. Certainly,
having a computer available as a second TV monitor adds a great deal
of convenience in watching the tournament.

MMOD is also expanded to allow streaming of games to the iPhone, iPod
Touch, and iPads.

Visit this link to sign up and get more info:

- 30 -