Sunday, January 31, 2010

Herschel Walker kicks butt

One of the greatest athletes pro football has ever seen, shows he's still got it at 47.

Walker a winner in mixed martial arts debut
Walker’s endurance was sensational, but he looked stiff in his standup game and didn’t have a good concept of what he was doing on the ground. According to CompuStrike, Walker landed 77 of 106 strikes overall, an amazing 73 percent. He connected on 69 of 91 on the ground. Nagy landed just seven punches.
“This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Walker said.

Gregg Doyel points out that Walker's robotic victory over nobody won't make Walker somebody in MMA, but that sort of misses the point. Walker doesn't need a new professional career. Meeting a challenge is accomplishment enough.
Herschel says his MMA debut was a mixed bag
Walker was unclear on his future. It's unlikely that he'll take another fight. There really is no need to. Just like his football career and appearance in the Olympics, Walker proved his point. He's stil one of the world's great athletes even at 47.

Ageless Walker does sport, self proud
Walker’s conditioning was superb and he was barely breathing hard when he got off Nagy after referee Troy Waugh had seen enough and stopped the bout. Contrast that with the performance of about half the cast of Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” heavyweights who seemed to gas literally 30 or 45 seconds into the fight.
Walker has long been a martial artist – he has a sixth-degree black belt in taekwondo – and decided to try to fight in MMA as a way to challenge himself. He treated the sport, his opponent, the media and the fans with the utmost respect. He prepared at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., one of the elite camps in the country, and worked as hard or harder than any of the camp’s many MMA stars he worked alongside.
His trainer, Javier Mendez, was comparing Walker’s conditioning to the UFC’s Cain Velasquez, who might be the most well-conditioned big man in the sport. Velasquez could probably fight five 10-minute rounds if he needed to, and Mendez put Walker in the same league.
“He said, ‘This guy can go as much as Cain in the gym,’ ” Coker said. “He said, ‘His gas tank is as big as Cain’s.’ This was his journey to test himself and he did it.”
Walker picked apart his game, noting more of the mistakes he made than the good things he did. But he was clearly proud.
As NFL fans, we associate Walker with The Trade, and maybe not quite fulfilling the ridiculous expectations of him coming out of college -- he had a great career, yet perhaps still a disappointing one. But maybe we miss the forest of his talent for the trees of how he was used. 6th-degreee black belt in tae kwin do, nearly made the Olympic sprint relay team, '92 Olympic bobsled team. Now this.


Herschel Walker donates entire fight purse to Dallas charity


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

5 Year Record

It's that time of year again, the lull before the Super Bowl. A good time to take a look at who have been the very best teams in the sport over the recent past.

In the table below, ties are broken by postseason wins, where applicable, under the theory that one postseason win is worth more than one reg season win. It's a slightly greater accomplishment. Thus the Saints are ranked ahead of the Jaguars and the Packers ahead of the Titans. Ties remaining after that are broken by the most recent reg season record, under the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately theory. Thus the Vikings are ahead of the Broncos, the Brownies ahead of the Chiefs, and the Raiders ahead of the Rams. Ties remaining after that are ignored, because Excel will only sort on three categories at once; but I don't think there are any examples this year.

For comparison, last year's list is here.

TeamReg season
Post season
Grand Total
20052006200720082009 Sum
20052006200720082009 Sum
Indianapolis Colts141213121465


New England Patriots101216111059

San Diego Chargers9141181355

Pittsburgh Steelers1181012950

New York Giants1181012849


Dallas Cowboys991391151

Chicago Bears111379747


Carolina Panthers118712846

Philadelphia Eagles61089.51144.5

Baltimore Ravens613511944

Minnesota Vikings968101245

Denver Broncos13978845

Seattle Seahawks139104541

New Orleans Saints310781341


Jacksonville Jaguars128115743


Green Bay Packers481361142


Tennessee Titans481013843

Arizona Cardinals55891037

Cincinnati Bengals11874.51040.5

Atlanta Falcons87411939

New York Jets41049936

Washington Redskins10598436

Tampa Bay Buccnrs11499336

Miami Dolphins96111734

Houston Texans2688933

Buffalo Bills5777632

San Francisco 49ers4757831

Cleveland Browns64104529

Kansas City Chiefs10942429

Oakland Raiders4245520

St. Louis Rams6832120

Detroit Lions5370217


My rule of thumb is, any team with a grand total of 45 or over is doing something right. That's an average winning record, nine wins per year, in a league where winning at all (let alone winning consistently) is extremely difficult. These are the best organizations in the sport.

Note technically a total of 40.5 or better represents a “winning” record, barely. That would average out to 4 yrs of 8-8 and one year of 8-7-1. I personally think that is nothing to write home about: but the Bengals have a pretty crappy history, so the current regime's results are sort of spectacular. Anyway, it beats losing. These teams in the 40-44 win category are in a second tier.

Indy and New England have been on top of this list for a few years now. I guess that's what happens when you get the two best QBs in the game, along with decent to good defenses. Indy has been in 2nd place, though: last year they were 3 games back. This 7-game lead is rather stunning. You wouldn't think anyone could be 7 games better than New England over this period. The Imperfect Season is still very recent. It's worth noting that the Pats last Super Bowl just came off the books for this table: it was six seasons ago. The Steelers have won it twice since then, and Indy has a chance to make it two also.

The Chargers, Steelers & Giants round out the top 5, with Dallas just a game behind. This accords with our intution: those teams are good just about every year. Would you have picked the Bears and Panthers as the next most successful teams? Remember the Bears went to the Super Bowl after the 2006 season. The Panthers went just a couple years before, and John Fox's teams have consistently been dangerous. Our perception of him would be completely different if Carolina had been able to hold on in SB 38 (it was just a 3-pt game).

Looking at the other end of the list – how crushing is it to be a Lions fan? The Raiders and Rams have averaged 4 wins a season over the last 5 years, they've been just awful. (You have to love the Rams record in the last 3 successive seasons: 3,2,1. Blastoff!) And the Lions are 3 games worse. Here's a lesson in how horribly a zero brings own your average: the Lions could double their win total next year, to 4 games, and go down in total victories on this list, because their 5-win campaign in 2005 would come off the books.

I still think things are going to look up for those fans. I also think it will happen S-L-O-W-L-Y. Mayhew & co. seem to be the Tortoise rather than the Hare. But here's the thing – two things, actually. 1, Lions owner William Clay Ford is the one owner Most Likely To give an extended chance to his management team.
(Remember the days when Tom Landry posted 5 consecutive losing seasons to start his coaching career with the Cowboys? And in the 6th season the record was only .500? WCF is the one NFL owner you can picture being patient enough to let that play out, give his guys extra time to turn it around.)
2, football is one sport (baseball is another) where the slow methodical approach is the only one that must work. In the NBA, you cannot win unless you get lucky as a franchise; you need a star to fall into your lap (Larry Brown's Pistons excepted). But in football, the attrition is so terrible, that if you just add good players while letting your bad players fall away, you will inevitably become good after a few years. Slowly, but inevitably. Mind you, that's not the only way to get good. You can be Parcells or Marty, raze the existing roster and bring in a bunch of young guys who will run around and block and tackle and play their hearts out. Take all your roster hits in year 1. You can be Brad Childress or Sean Payton, and import half your team. Hope it all comes together. But each of those approaches can fail. The slow & methodical addition of talent, if done well, must work. You do have to stick with it, though.
(It also helps that the Lions seem to have identified their QB. Now they can acquire pieces who will actually help them in the near term, rather than in some remote future.)

Check out Houston's place on the list, 33 wins. That's solidly in loser territory. But! If next year they post another season like they did this year, then they will vault into the respectable middle. Their 2-win 2005 season would come off the books, and a decent season added in. (How much do you think the good people of Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee, the divisional opponents of Indianapolis, just cannot wait for Peyton Manning to friggin retire already!)

Who do you feel sorrier for? The Brownies, in a division with the Steelers (57), Ravens (47), and Bengals (40.5)? Or the Redskins, in a division with the Giants (53), Cowboys (52), and Eagles (44.5)?

It's a trick question, of course. You never ever feel sorry for Dan Snyder's sorry-ass team.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Patrick/Chris chat the Jets game

Patrick and I chatted through the Colts/Jets game. I stripped out the non-football stuff and left the rest. Tried to edit out any bad language but my apologies if I missed any.

Patrick D (3:13:05 PM): great pass by Sanchez
Chris B (3:13:34 PM): Yeah, awesome play not fumbling.
Patrick D (3:16:14 PM): when did Shone Green become a superstar?
Chris B (3:16:42 PM): About four weeks ago, I know.
Chris B (3:17:49 PM): He sorta came out of nowhere.

[Feeley blows his first field goal attempt]

Patrick D (3:18:10 PM): oh, what an eff-up
Chris B (3:18:12 PM): WTF was that hook?
Patrick D (3:18:18 PM): that was huge
Chris B (3:18:24 PM): It's like a giant fan just caught it.
Patrick D (3:18:36 PM): it's like Nate Kaeding was kicking it
Chris B (3:18:59 PM): Yeah

[Jets keep blowing up Manning]

Patrick D (3:20:58 PM): geezus. does Indy have an offensive line?
Chris B (3:21:37 PM): I don't understand how they get to him and no one else can.
Patrick D (3:37:30 PM): I don't get those deep handoffs that the Colts run. I know they are looking for the receivers to drive the dbs back but against a team that is as blitz-happy as the Jets that is just a bad formula

Chris B (3:43:21 PM): I'm not sure the Jets can score on this team.

[Edwards 80 yard touchdown on the next play]

Patrick D (3:44:55 PM): I am
Chris B (3:45:00 PM): Well, nevermind.
Chris B (3:45:24 PM): Soon as that ball was in the air I said to myself "Well, if he catches it it's 6, but that's a big 'if'."
Patrick D (3:45:52 PM): Guess having a quarterback that completely sucked was Edwards' entire problem the last couple of years. It isn't like Sanchez is really all that good yet and Edwards is a new man
Chris B (3:46:12 PM): I dunno. He still drops a lot of balls.

Patrick D (4:03:49 PM): at this point can we give the Jets an A+ for their draft?
Chris B (4:04:03 PM): Yeah I'd say so.

[Brad Smith option pass to Clowney]

Patrick D (4:06:56 PM): interesting. do you run a bad play all season long so that you can turn it into a trick play in the AFC championship? or do you take a play that you've kept trying to run one way (that's never worked) and give it a twist for the AFC championship?

[Sanchez runs around and then throws a floater out of bounds]

Patrick D (4:07:56 PM): how is that not grounding?
Chris B (4:08:10 PM): Out of pocket I think.
Patrick D (4:08:13 PM): guess he did get outside
Chris B (4:08:20 PM): I didn't think that was gonna make the sideline.
Chris B (4:08:27 PM): Thought INT
Patrick D (4:08:43 PM): my immediate recollection was that he had run straight backward
Chris B (4:09:14 PM): Trying to figure out why they're not even trying to run the ball.

[Sanchez throws TD while getting buried]

Chris B (4:11:15 PM): wow
Patrick D (4:11:16 PM): Sanchez
Chris B (4:11:36 PM): Sanchize
Chris B (4:11:37 PM): lol
Chris B (4:11:52 PM): How the eff is this team doing this???
Patrick D (4:12:08 PM): Sanchez
Patrick D (4:12:20 PM): he went from below average to great today
Chris B (4:12:45 PM): Yeah, and the D is holding in the red zone remarkably well.
Patrick D (4:13:03 PM): no one doubted they'd have a great defense
Chris B (4:13:16 PM): I still can't believe and think the NFC team would crush the Jets...either one.
Patrick D (4:13:59 PM): no. no way. I think both teams can handle them though. they are both built perfectly to beat them
Patrick D (4:14:33 PM): Saints have the great defensive backs and the offense. Minnesota the great run defense and pass rush/favre/running game
Patrick D (4:15:49 PM): I mis-read what you wrote. I agree that the NFC team should have a pretty big edge
Chris B (4:16:19 PM): Jesus... WTF is going on here? I mean, I love it, I want this, but I didn't expect it at all.
Chris B (4:16:36 PM): How the hell are they getting this much penetration?
Patrick D (4:16:56 PM): it's the deep delayed draw again. I do not understand that call against the Jets. It makes no sense.
Chris B (4:22:48 PM): Wonder if the Colts regret sitting their starters yet.

[Indianapolis turns up the pressure and scores a couple of times]

Patrick D (4:27:47 PM): knew this was going to happen
Chris B (4:27:54 PM): Boy, they made that look easy.
Patrick D (4:28:27 PM): two huge plays on offense by the Jets but they need to be able to grind it out or they won't be able to hold off Indianapolis
Chris B (4:28:51 PM): Yeah
Patrick D (4:53:04 PM): Kaeding disease
Chris B (4:53:09 PM): lol
Chris B (4:53:15 PM): Though at least Feely made one.

[Manning throws the ball at Collie's back]

Patrick D (4:57:48 PM): I love how those guys just turn and the ball is in their hands. how do you defend that?
Chris B (4:58:39 PM): Not possible. I really can't wait till Manning retires. It's almost unfair.
Chris B (4:58:57 PM): At least you can defend against Brady.
Patrick D (4:59:21 PM): and Flacco.
But not Clayton.
Chris B (4:59:46 PM): Clayton = 2nd greatest player of all time.
Chris B (4:59:54 PM): Behind only Gaither.
Patrick D (5:00:18 PM): I'm sad that we didn't get Boller to Clayton for 10 years.
At least Gaither is actually pretty good
Chris B (5:00:46 PM): Yeah, true. Hopefully they let Clayton walk after this season.
Patrick D (5:01:11 PM): You can make the argument for giving Gaither a big contract. You can make the argument that he has a chance to be one of the best.
You can do no such thing with Clayton.
... and yet ...
[Colts score, up 10]
Chris B (5:05:03 PM): Yeah, gross. Jets prolly won't catch up, esp with Greene on the side.
I doubt Gaither gets a big deal. Like, $10MM big, I mean. It's possible he winds up being really good, but there's so much risk that he never gets better. I think you can't pay a guy to be J Gross/J Peters unless he shows that's clearly who he's gonna be.
Patrick D (5:06:29 PM): oh I don't disagree with your argument. I'm just saying that in the world of overhyped fanbois tripe Gaither is something of a superstar because he actually has played well and actually does have some potential to improve
Chris B (5:07:10 PM): Yeah, I definitely agree with that.
Patrick D (5:07:58 PM): thing is, if I'm the Ravens and if this winter is uncapped then I go ahead an sign Gaither to a "franchise" deal and just shove most of the money into the first year
Chris B (5:08:53 PM): Yeah although they have rules for salary escalators. I wonder how a guy would respond to a $20MM first year salary and no bonus...
Patrick D (5:10:28 PM): I don't think that'[s a good idea but you can give him a deal that gives him what you think he's worth (to give him incentive) and then a first year roster bonus. say $6M/yr for 7 years and a $18M roster bonus. that is very affordable
Chris B (5:11:04 PM): Yeah but in theory if the cap comes back it'll still hit the cap in the later years, right?
Patrick D (5:11:11 PM): not roster bonuses
Chris B (5:11:36 PM): I thought they do too.
Patrick D (5:11:48 PM): only signing bonuses are prorated
Chris B (5:11:54 PM): Thought they're spread among the years.
Patrick D (5:14:19 PM): not as far as I can tell. Only signing bonuses are prorated.
here's one article:
Chris B (5:16:04 PM): Yeah I'm just seeing some similar things myself.
Chris B (5:16:24 PM): Interesting, I didn't know that. Yeah, if that's the case, then definitely roster not signing bonus.
Patrick D (5:18:14 PM): Reporting bonuses are treated as signing bonuses if the contract is signed after the start of training camp. Roster bonuses are also considered signing bonuses if the contract was signed after the last preseason game. Finally, individually negotiated relocation bonuses are treated as a signing bonus.
Chris B (5:18:29 PM): Yeah I just saw that one too.
Patrick D (5:18:43 PM): that's the smoking gun (assuming it's correct)
Chris B (5:19:02 PM): It's the internet so it has to be correct.
Patrick D (5:19:02 PM): could (should) see a lot of that this winter. in the best interests of both the teams and the players
Chris B (5:19:27 PM): Yeah, I bet some teams will be stupid and not do it, but many will.
Patrick D (5:19:50 PM): basically every team can clear all the proration off of their books this winter if they want
Chris B (5:20:01 PM): Yep, and they should.
Chris B (5:20:09 PM): Well, maybe not "should..."
Chris B (5:20:15 PM): There's real money considerations.
Patrick D (5:20:43 PM): for a few teams. Buffalo.
Patrick D (5:20:53 PM): Jacksonville

[Balls start bouncing off Colt receivers]

Chris B (5:31:54 PM): Two almost mistakes...gotta take those balls away to beat this team I think.

[Collie catches a ball at the marker and retreats]

Patrick D (5:32:25 PM): thought Collie gave up the first down there
Patrick D (5:32:58 PM): ran like 2 yards back toward the line of scrimmage turning around
Chris B (5:33:36 PM): Yeah, thought the same thing with the Jets db looking like he was right there to make the tackle.
Chris B (5:34:02 PM): Jets just aren't good enough to hang with this team long term.
Patrick D (5:34:19 PM): nope. and their bag of tricks is empty
Chris B (5:34:31 PM): Yep
Chris B (5:35:01 PM): The D is good, but not good enough to keep that O from scoring 20-30 points, and their O isn't good enough I think.
Chris B (5:35:42 PM): Gonna take a miracle drive from a rookie, and it's gonna have to be a game ender cause if you give Manning even 50 seconds to get in FG range it's over.

[Sanchez throws his first pick]

Chris B (5:35:48 PM): Or nm it's over now...
Patrick D (5:35:58 PM): What's Eli doing there? Isn't he playing later?
Chris B (5:36:05 PM): lol
Patrick D (5:36:24 PM): He looked kind of pissed off that Indy scored
Chris B (5:36:43 PM): Tired of big bro overshadowing him.
Chris B (5:37:19 PM): Three good games and a miracle catch will define Eli's career. I thought that $98MM contract or whatever was a big mistake at the time.
Patrick D (5:37:23 PM): Daaaaaaaad. Why do we always have to have our family reunions at the AFC Championship game?
Patrick D (5:37:31 PM): no joke
Chris B (5:38:07 PM): lol
Patrick D (5:38:26 PM): Wonder how Cooper feels?
Patrick D (5:38:50 PM): His no-talent entitled little brother got a $100M contract.
Chris B (5:38:54 PM): He has health issues so it's not his fault at least.
Chris B (5:39:41 PM): But yeah, that's gotta be pretty humbling.
"Well, I'm worth nine figures less than both my brothers. Awesome."
Patrick D (5:40:56 PM): That's actually a pretty funny idea.
Peyton: so where's the family reunion this year.
Archie: How about the AFC Championship, eh son? Eh? (nudges Peyton with his elbow)
Eli: Dad, how about we do it at the NFC Championship this year?
Archie: LOL!
Chris B (5:41:28 PM): HA!
Chris B (5:42:25 PM): Cooper: Guys, how 'bout we have it at my house?
Peyton/Archie/Eli: HAhahahahahahaha!
Peyton: Dude, our cars don't even fit in your driveway!
Patrick D (5:43:55 PM): or:
Cooper: How about at my house?
Archie: Who the hell are you? Get away from my two sons, creep!
Chris B (5:44:11 PM): heh
Chris B (5:44:40 PM): Jets are gonna blitz 8 every play.
Chris B (5:45:13 PM): There's only one Revis in that db-field. I think Manning will score again.
Chris B (5:45:35 PM): Unless his receivers drop all his passes.
Patrick D (5:47:19 PM): The Jets are three Revises short today.
Chris B (5:47:22 PM): I like his vampire teeth mouth-guard.
Chris B (5:48:11 PM): The Indianapolis Mannings win this game by 17 or more points.
Patrick D (5:48:26 PM): I'll take the under
Chris B (5:49:24 PM): Obviously, but just thinking they're getting into the end zone again.
Chris B (5:49:47 PM): Here comes the nickle db
Chris B (5:50:08 PM): God Garcon is ridiculous. Anthony Gonzwho?
Patrick D (5:51:04 PM): thing is, he's just the guy who's open today.
Chris B (5:52:08 PM): Yeah, though he's looked great all year. I really wonder what they're gonna do with Gonzo this off-season.
Patrick D (5:52:44 PM): Gonzalez still under contract, isn't he?
Chris B (5:52:55 PM): I think so, but he's prolly got some trade value.
Patrick D (5:53:24 PM): oh they won't trade him. When do the Colts ever make trades?
Chris B (5:53:41 PM): I dunno. I was wondering if they'd move him for a 2nd or 3rd rounder.

[Colts drive inside the 10]

Chris B (5:54:41 PM): Why not go for it here on 4th and 1?
Chris B (5:54:49 PM): 3 points is almost worthless, 7 ends it.
Patrick D (5:55:36 PM): plus the benefit of field position if they don't get it
Chris B (5:55:46 PM): Yeah
Chris B (5:55:56 PM): I don't agree with kicking. This makes no sense to me.
Chris B (5:56:16 PM): If it's at the 25 or 30 I could understand, but trapping them this deep if they miss? Not worth it.
Chris B (5:57:15 PM): Prolly doesn't matter. That was almost a 5 minute drive.

[Colts field goal, Stover kicks one of those three-foot high line drive kickoffs]

Patrick D (5:57:53 PM): I don't know why teams don't just kick off like that every time
Patrick D (5:58:21 PM): that low line drive three bounce to the endzone thing. it never gets returned past the 30
Chris B (5:58:46 PM): I guess cause you're conceding the 30 yard line, but if you have a K that can't get it 5 deep into the end zone every time then yeah, seems to make sense.
Chris B (5:59:11 PM): How many TOs do the Jets have?
Patrick D (5:59:39 PM): not enough

[Chris' timing remains impeccable. The Jets instantly turn the ball over]

Chris B (5:59:49 PM): Game set match
Chris B (6:00:48 PM): The only good thing about the Jets losing is not have to listen to Ravens fans whine about how Rex took Sanchez and the Jets farther than Harbs took Flacco and the Ravens his first season.
Patrick D (6:00:51 PM): I put $10,000,000 on the under, btw
Chris B (6:01:18 PM): Talk to Eli. He's got that kinda cash sitting in his couch and deserves it less than me.
Patrick D (6:02:44 PM): I hate those complaints. Who TF cares. Two different teams/situations/everything.
Chris B (6:03:44 PM): Yeah, agree. We're just hearing a lot of second-guessing from Ravens fans though. "Why didn't we hire Rex?" "Is Sanchez better than Flacco?" "We should start Troy Smith!"
Patrick D (6:05:04 PM): It's the same thing with all the Stafford-backers getting all defensive and feeling they have something to prove WRT Sanchez. They drag down Sanchez constantly as if that somehow proves something about the quality of Stafford. The cognitive dissonance is staggering.
Chris B (6:05:53 PM): Well Sanchez is playing in the Conf Championship game and Stafford only won two games, so obviously Sanchez is WAAAAAY better LDO!!!
Patrick D (6:07:09 PM): It isn't even that I disagree with the arguments, it's more that the reasons that they are important to these people baffle me. How Sanchez did this year has no bearing on Stafford. How Sanchez does in his career also has no bearing on Stafford.
Chris B (6:08:21 PM): Could depend on the argument... "Value for the money" sorta thing...
Patrick D (6:08:49 PM): Lions were going to pay #1 money no matter what


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Final Eight Free Agency

One of the most underreported stories heading int0 the NFL offseason this winter is the NFL plan for the final eight teams (all teams that played last weekend) and free agency heading into the uncapped year. I first heard about this last week and found it startling. Now that the NFL has released details I am even more startled. It imposes much more draconian limitations on those teams in the free agent market than I initially expected.

From the NFL release:
During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs. In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters. Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.
This is really limiting for those eight teams. Not only can they not sign free agents until they lose them, they also can't sign them for bigger contracts than those they lost. The teams that lost last weekend will be permitted a sign one UFA, if I am reading this correctly.

This also provides opportunities for rivals of those teams to depress the markets, or at least to delay them until free agents that they may be contending for have gone elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how this develops but I expect significant unintended consequences from this.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Real Sports on Concussions

FYI - HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumble is running I believe their full hour on our favorite topic, concussions, this week.


Scrape Scrape

Okay, someone is going to have to explain this to me.

Chan Gailey? Really?

I understand that Buffalo isn't exactly the sexiest landing spot for a potential head coach. It sits up there somewhere north of Canada and after all of its industry fled about 20 years ago its raison d'être is as a support system for honeymoon suites overlooking Niagara Falls.

But still. Chan Gailey?

The last we heard from Gailey he was busy getting fired by Todd Haley in preseason (or demoted or whatever). And even if that was a personality clash or something, it isn't like he had a sterling resume leading up to 2009. His career high point, I guess, was following Jimmy Johnson in Dallas with a couple of reasonable seasons as that team faded into obscurity. He coached Georgia Tech for a six year stretch in which the Jackets won exactly 7 games in five of them (they won nine in '06).

20 years ago he was a World League head coach.

But how ... How do you conduct a two month coaching search and then decide that Chan Gailey is the man for the job? I'm sure the Bills got turned down by guys like Cowher, and I'm sure that Buddy Nix simply determined a couple of others just wouldn't be good fits. Fine.

But Gailey? There are probably a dozen guys that could trip off of any of our tongues who would be better and who would probably jump at the spot. Mariucci, Billick ... how about Ted Nolan? Brian Schottenheimer? His Dad?

This is the worst retread coaching hire since ... well, probably since Dick Jauron.


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Pretenders Of '10

I just can't shake the conviction that the New York Jets really don't belong here. In the playoffs? Sure. Someone had to be the worst team in the playoffs but in the AFC Championship? No. No way.

But here they are, as much because of two awful games by their opponents as because of their own performance. Or was it?

One of the broadcasters* during the game said something to the effect of 'that's what the Jets do. They are patient and wait and wait and wait until eventually their opponents make a mistake'. I guess that is true to some extent.

This team is Ravens-lite. They are capable of grinding down inferior teams and capitalizing on mistakes. They imposed one of the more efficient beatdowns of an opponent last week against Cincinnati in a game that completely exposed the Bengals. Yesterday they appeared to get outplayed but when the dust settled .. they won.

Following the game Bart Scott said

"It was ugly, but that's how we play," Jets linebacker Bart Scott said of the aesthetic quality of the win that put New York in the AFC title game for the first time since the Bill Parcells era in 1999. "This isn't the Golden State Warriors (or) the Phoenix Suns. This is the old-school Pistons. It's going to be ugly. It's not entertaining. I know the league and a lot of guys would prefer to see [the Chargers] so they can build it up, but we got them old grimy Jets here, so tune in if you want to."

But still, it's hard to get excited about this team. Nate Kaeding missed three field goals, which is three more than he normally would. The passing attack was anemic and the running game was only productive through repetition, not efficiency. It is hard to imagine the Jets beating on Peyton Manning the way they did Rivers and that was really the key to the entire game. The Colts won't be able to run on New York but they probably don't even care. They couldn't run on the Ravens either. The Jets may have the defense to slow down the Colts. They have what the Ravens lack with a terrific secondary. But even so, it seems remote that Indianapolis will be forced into the types of errors that doomed San Diego.

*I can never keep those guys straight since Madden left. To me they are disembodied voices that pretty much repeat themselves throughout the year.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Playoff predictions - Divisional Weekend

Predictions for the divisional round.

Cardinals @ Saints
I'm pretty tired of all the ridiculous renaming of the city, like Drew Orleans. But there's good reason for it. This game will break several offensive records, but the most impressive of which will be that it will be the only game in NFL history with zero total rushing attempts. The Saints get the ball last and pull out a close 77-70 victory.

Ravens @ Colts
The Ravens execute their game-plan flawlessly. They take the opening kickoff at the 15. They then execute a 39 play, 28:56 minute, 85 yard touchdown scoring drive. Manning drives the Colts for a TD at the end of the half. Manning drives for another TD four minutes into the second half. The Ravens then execute a slightly less perfect 37 play, 24:21 minute, 82 yard TD scoring drive. Shocking everyone, they convert a two point attempt to take a 15-14 lead with less than a minute left. Manning drives the Colts to the 18 with four seconds left. Matt Stover trots onto the field for a chipper. Fortunately for the Ravens, I'm wearing my lucky Ravens under-roos that I've had for the last four years. The Ravens are 41-0-1* in that stretch. As such, Stover shanks it left, saving the Ravens from elimination, and the city of Baltimore from committing mass hari-kari.

Cowboys @ Vikings
Tony Romo, fresh off not dating anyone, is rested and relaxed for a playoff game against his idol when he was 12 years old, Brett Favre. Going into the half down 24-0 with two picks and 13 passing yards, Favre announces his retirement trotting off the field. Trotting back onto the field, he announces his unretirement, throws for 360 yards and 4 TDs and leads an amazing come-back to steal the game.

Jets @ Chargers
Phillip Rivers and Rex Ryan get into a smack-talking match that lasts the entire first half. Announcers question where Vince Jackson is, realizing Revis has magically sprinkled invisible powder on him to take him out of the game. Shonn Green looks great, but the game is swung on Sanchez throwing the ball to Braylon Edwards, where the ball bounces off his hands, into a Chargers DB's hands who returns it for a TD, sealing a 10 point win. Rex instantly warns the White House to prepare for his visit in 2011.

* The one tie may or may not encompass 28 losses in that stretch.


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Packer/Cardinal Bowl

Just how absurd was the 51-45 score that lit up the board in Arizona yesterday?

By now, you've surely heard that it set the all-time NFL record for most points in a playoff game.

However, it also outscored every Pro Bowl in history, except for the 2004 Pro Bowl.

Yes, the Pro Bowl. Noted for a total lack of defense and running up the score in order to attempt to get some fan interest in it, not even the majority of Pro Bowls could keep up with the highlights we saw in yesterday's closing game.


What Rooney Rule?

Which flaunting of the Rooney Rule is more egregious: the Redskins with Shanahan's hiring, or the Seahawks with Carroll's hiring?

Danny was more creative with Shanahan. He got his secondary coach Jerry Gray to tell the Fritz Pollard Alliance that he had interviewed for the job.

It's unclear whether Gray actually did interview. He denied to friends & colleagues that he interviewed; but he convinced the Alliance that he had. Why would he tell friends & colleagues that he hadn't interviewed, if he had? Well, if he interviewed, he interviewed at a time when his boss, head coach Jim Zorn, still was coaching the team and they still had games remaining on their schedule. That is, to put it mildly, bad form. Why would he tell the Alliance he had interviewed, if he hadn't? Well, the Fritz Pollard Alliance does not butter his bread. Dan Snyder does. This showcases Danny's magical ability to put people in really crappy positions. When Danny approached Gray and asked him either to interview, or pretend to interview, what was Gray supposed to do? Is Gray's loyalty to the head coach or to the logo, which is vested in the owner? In reality there should be no conflict between those two, but not in Danny World.

Why does this matter? Well, because Shanahan was always going to be Danny's hire. It's been Shanahan since mid-season; it was almost Shanahan last season. Shanahan was chosen; Danny only needed Gray to put a Rooney Rule gloss on the hiring. There was no chance Gray was ever going to get the job.

Supporting the notion that Gray took a bullet for Snyder, it looks like Gray is being rewarded. Shanahan seems to be retaining him. It's all very back room, which is just the way Danny likes it. Ick.

Danny showed tactical ingenuity, getting an asst coach to crony up for an interview: but the Seahawks were more adacious. They basically choose Pete Carroll, came to an agreement with him, and then asked Leslie Frazier to interview over the weekend so they could fulfill their Rooney Rule responsibilities. Breathtaking.

Frazier initially refused to interview, and power to him. But he evidently received some assurances from Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke, that the role Carroll was being considered for was just a coaching role, did not involve "full control", and proceeded to do the interview. It's fairly Byzantine - some details here:

These manipulations of the Rooney Rule are offensive, disgusting, possibly racist, and extremely discreditable to the organizations involved. Discreditable to the league as a whole too. Roger Goodell has come done on the wrong side of this, which is a problem. Tagliabue first gave the Rule some teeth by fining Matt Miller 200 grand over the Mariucci hiring. If Goodell is going to sit idly while teams run roughshod over it, then we could see some backsliding in this area. CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel legitimately asks, "Why bother with the Rooney Rule if this is how it works?"

However, after 9 years of the Rooney Rule we may have finally gotten to the point where these things might be self-correcting. It's similar to when sports leagues started admitting black players: the teams that were slow to use black players put themselves at a terrible competitive disadvantage. They were failing to avail themselves of a large pool of talent, that their opponents were using. Likewise, teams that pass over Leslie Frazier (John Harbaugh endorses Frazier) to hire Pete Carroll will eventually find themselves at a competitive disadvantage against teams that hire Frazier. (Buffalo seems about to hire him.)

  • Indianapolis hired Dungy, and got 5 division titles and a Super Bowl win out of it.
  • Pittsburgh hired Shaft, and have got two division titles and a Super Bowl win out of it so far.
  • Da Bears hired Lovie Smith, and got 2 division titles and a conference championship out of it.
  • Indy promoted Jim Caldwell, and already have a division title and #1 playoff seed to show for it.
  • The Bengals hired Coach Marvin, and got 2 division titles and an over .500 record out of it. The Bengals!
  • The 49ers hired Singletary and are over .500 with him as coach (barely, at 13-12).
Tampa's Raheem Morris will demonstrate over the next couple seasons that the under-prepared over-promoted black coach will not ultimately do much better than the under-prepared over-promoted white coach, aka "Jim Zorn". But that won't diminish the fact that black coaches have been pretty damn good.

The other factor is that we now have black general managers in the league. The bosses of head coaches. That wasn't true 10+ years ago. Ozzie Newsome, Jerry Reese, and Martin Mayhew are well regarded. Two of those guys have won Super Bowls for their team; the third will get a ticker tape parade if he can produce a winning record in the next 3-4 years. As it happens, all three of their teams have white head coaches, but that seems to be because he was the best guy available at the time (Reese inherited Coughlin), not due to any unconscious bias or lack of awareness of qualified black head coaching candidates. Can a black GM even have an unconscious bias or lack of awareness of qualified black head coaching candidates?

The pool of white coaches has been thoroughly picked over by teams over the decades. (Sort of like the Patriots staff & front office.) Those organizations that are smart enough to see the value of a Mike Tomlin or a Leslie Frazier, and snap him up, are going to do pretty well for themselves. Those that aren't will continue to ride the treadmill of recycled hacks and sub-.500 seasons.


Related reading:

Tackling Unconscious Bias In Hiring Practices: The Plight Of The Rooney Rule (PDF) by Brian W. Collins, NYU School of Law.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Return of the adequate offense

Back in August I predicted Joe Flacco would throw for 3200-3400 yards with 22-24 TDs and 13-14 INTs. That prediction looks pretty good when compared with Flacco's actual numbers. Unfortunately I made a bet with Chris, that Flacco would have 22 TD passes, so it's not quite good enough. You can imagine my gnashing of teeth as the Raiders tackled Leron McClain at the half-yard line last week; or the week before as Mason let that pass in the end zone bounce off his face mask (and then laughed about it on the sideline!).

In the body of that post I suggested that either my yards prediction was conservative or my TD prediction optimistic. So really my prediction was right on:


Also in that post I took a look at what it would take for the Ravens to have an offense produce at that level:

An Adequate Offense

I had a table with the statistical profile of the top 5 receivers in offenses over the last 10 years, where the QB threw for 3300-3600 yards, with 19-23 TDs. The purpose of the study was to figure out whether the Ravens had enough firepower, outside of Flacco, to have that kind of offense. This was in the context of an argument I was having with Chris on another site, where basically I was saying that yes, the Ravens had enough firepower to have that kind of a passing offense, and he was saying no, the Ravens have terrible receivers, there's no way their passing game could be that productive.

Here's that table again, now repopulated with the Ravens top 5 receivers of 2009:

study average2009 Ravens
#1TE459.63.1K Washgtn4312

You'll notice that in every row but the last one, the Ravens player has more yards than the study average. They had to move some roles around, but clearly the Ravens did have enough firepower to have a top 10 or 12 offense. It's actually kind of striking how close these overall numbers are. There are, as shown in the prior post, a lot of ways to skin the cat. Clayton did not produce as much as the typical "#2 WR" did on those other teams; but Rice and Heap made up for it.

The offense this reminds me of is the 2006 Chargers. The #2 and #3 WRs were very comparable in yardage between these teams. Mason was clearly better than Eric Parker was. Those Chargers got 1432 yards and 12 TDs in the passing game from Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson; Rice & Heap got most of that for these Ravens, with Mason making up the difference.

I should mention that even though I was right, I was actually wrong. I had no idea Ray Rice would be a 2,000-yd all-purpose back. I did think those numbers were going to come from somewhere; but I was thinking of Mark Clayton & Demetrius Williams. And I still owe Chris that 20 bucks.

The 2009 Ravens matched their franchise record for most points scored (391). They ranked 9th in the league in points. Only one other time since 1996 have they ranked that high; that was in 2003, when they had 34 TDs rushing/receiving and 7 returns TDs (3 by Ed Reed). That was also the year Jamal Lewis rushed for 2k. This year they had 43 rush/recv TDs + only 4 return TDs. So this year's Ravens offense was much better than 2003's; and that's the only year that was close, since Vinny threw for 4100 yds and 33 TDs in 1996.

The Ravens ranked 13th in the league in yardage offense (with 5619), their highest ranking since 1997 and only the 3rd time since then that they've been in the top half of the league. It's the Ravens 2nd-highest yardage season ever, behind Vinny's great year in '96: it's more than 400 yards better than their next-highest yardage season.

Flacco's 3600 yards passing is the Ravens 2nd-highest single-season total, behind Vinny's season. (Next come McNair '06 and GrBac '01.) He threw 21 TD passes. The Ravens have not had a QB throw 20 TD passes in a season since Vinny's Pro Bowl in '96. The last time they had a QB throw even 18 TD passes was Vinny in '97.
(The Ravens have had QBs split time and throw 20 TD passes between them: Banks/Dilfer in 2000, Blake/Redman in '02, and McNair/Boller in '06. Flacco's 2009 stats are better than any of those tandems, by a smidge over McNair/Boller.)

These Ravens also set a team record for rushing TDs with 22, tied for the league lead (with Miami, one ahead of the Jets and Saints). They were in the top 5 in rushing yards and yards per carry.

The Ravens finally put together a decent offense. (And I called it!)

We'll see what they manage to do against the Patriots...


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Playoff predictions - Wildcard Weekend

My predictions for how the playoffs will go this week.

Jets @ Bengals - Ochocinco held without a catch through first three quarters with Jets maintaining a 14 point lead. He goes into the stands, finds a cute woman, has sex with her, comes back to the field and catches 8 passes for 180 yards and 3 TDs to lead a fourth quarter comeback win.

Eagles @ Cowboys - McNabb leads the Eagles down the field in the final minute, down 4, pukes all over his shoes, throws a game winning TD pass to DeSean Jackson. Terrell Owens cries. Jerry Jones' head explodes, and his headless body manages to fire Wade Phillips prior to falling to the turf. Clean-up crews scraping brains off the HD monitor for weeks.

Ravens @ Patriots - Tight game with Ray Rice rushing for 150 yards and Randy Moss catching 15 passes. Up 2 points with two minutes left, Brady drops back to pass on 4th and 1, Ray Lewis breaks through the line, knifes him, takes the ball from his corpse and runs it in for the game winning TD. Ravens fans rejoice at the only penalty on the Ravens all season for which the refs swallow their whistles.

Packers @ Cardinals - Team A's uber-quarterback throws for 583 yards and 6 TDs. Team B's uber-quarterback suffers one of his rare melt-downs and throws for only 84 yards and 4 INTs. A's terrific pair of receivers have career days, B's look dejected after being held without a catch. A's defense is lauded as having a terrific game, stepping up to stop B's typically dominant offense, and is immediately deemed to be a huge playoff threat. Feel free to substitute either team in as A or B, as who knows which team will actually be this way.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Charlie Weis returns to the NFL

As OC of the Chiefs!

ESPN's story: Weis accepts job with Chiefs story: Chiefs and Weis are a good fit

I didn't realize he & Todd Haley had a relationship. I guess I might have subconsciously thought Weis would join the staff of his old QB coach McDaniels, in Denver. (Hah!)

Charlie Weis is a big fat blowhard as a head coach. But
as an NFL offensive coordinator, he was a wizard. Does this stabilize the Chiefs? Haley says he might not be done shaking up his staff. Romeo Crennell is out there.

Jason Whitlock wonders how well The Great Weis Hope and Hothead Haley can coexist in one offensive meeting room:

I just don’t see Haley and Weis as equally yoked. Weis is a self-made football coach. He coached high school football in the ’70s and early ’80s. He did four years at the University of South Carolina. While coaching a New Jersey high school team to the state championship, he moonlighted as an assistant in the Giants’ pro personnel department. He spent 15 years as an NFL assistant and won three Super Bowls before he landed the Notre Dame job.
After completing his college golf career, farting around and shadowing his dad, Haley became an NFL position coach for the Jets in 1999. He became a play-calling offensive coordinator late in the 2007 season at Arizona. And now he’s Charlie Weis’ boss. Wow!
Great column.

The KC situation has not added up for me in the past. I never put my finger on why I'm not a believer. I guess we'll see if Weis makes the difference.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The NFC I'd Like To See

It's not a prediction. It's not an analysis. It's simply a list of how I'd like to see the NFC playoffs pan out. Take a little bit of homerism, a little bit of drama queen, a dash of story line, and a bunch of unabashed opinionism, and you get the following playoff runs as your Must See NFC:

Wild Card Saturday features the Eagles returning to the scene of their latest debacle, Dallas. With a #2 seed on the line, the Iggs pissed down their leg to the tune of a 24-0 shutout and a #6 seed. Nice job, kids.

This is, by its own rights, a great game to have on the docket--the NFC East, above all others, specializes in grudge match divisional hatred. Mix that in with the fact that everyone in the US outside of Dallas hates Dallas and you've got a game to watch.

No team over the last decade exhibits the nature of Jekyll and Hyde as do the Eagles and their playoff runs. Capable of beating anyone on any given day, they can also lose to anyone when they feel like it. So, by that account, they should rebound nicely this week against the Cowboys, and the thought of seeing the image of Jerry Jones doing a slow burn on the 60 yard Jumbotron would be too precious for words.

But I told you, this isn't an analysis, and the best story lines down the road come from a Dallas win now, so I have to say, let the Cowboys win and let the Phans in Philly start their offseason whining a little early this year.

Wild Card Sunday features another do-over from last week, as the Packers whomped the Arizona Leinarts by a score of... I dunno, it was something like a billion vs. a late game pity TD. But no matter... Warner is back, and the real Cardinals show up this week.

It won't matter. The Packers have one goal in life right now, and the Cardinals are merely a speed bump along the road to Favregeddon. There will be about a mile and a half of passing yards in this game but the Packers move on to the next round.

The Divisonal Round would then send the Packers on the road to the Big Easy, where Darren Sharper will intercept 2 balls (returning 1 for a TD) against his old team, while also giving up 4 TD passes to the guy he's "covering." Never before has a 13-3 team looked like such a pack of trembling Pomeranians going into the playoffs, and of late, teams with byes haven't necessarily done too well in their first game back. The Packers send the Aints to an early golf date and an offseason of Who Dat anonymity.

This also means Dallas returns once again to the scene of one of the biggest crimes on NFL playoff history. Drew Pearson pushed off, we all know it, the Cowboys know it, the league knows it, the refs know it, Tom Landry's corpse knows it, Drew Pearson knows it, and even Drew Pearson's mom knows it. A thousand playoff deaths are not enough for the Cowboys, and who better than the Vikings to administer it to them? All that is right and holy triumphs against evil as the Cowboys to back to playing Madden 2010 on the big screen.

That brings us to the NFC Championship Game with the Minnesota Ex-Packers against the Green Bay Future Vikings. Favre has had the last laugh against the Pack twice this year, and the Packers were all but dead after the last one. But they've finished the second half of the season on a 7-1 run and they want to get to the Super Bowl less than they want to get even with their former hero.

Admit it. This is the game we all want to see. Not because of the Favre/Packer drama--well, a little bit, I guess--but because we're all looking forward to joining betting pools over which FOX broadcaster will have a stroke from overhyping the drama. We'll all play drinking games, taking a swig every time one of the crew says the word "Favre" and then have to finish the whole drink whenever one of them talks about how the only reason he came back was because of his love of the game. This will be so over the top with coverage, there will not only be coverage about how over the top the coverage is, but there will be coverage of the coverage about the coverage.

I've secretly harbored a dream that the Packers will go up early in this game, and then in the 3rd quarter, Favre the Ironman will leave with an injury. leaving the team to have to turn to emotionally abused scapegoat Tavaris Jackson to rally them in their crucial hour. And rally them he does, to a narrow lead. With minutes left and protecting that slim lead, Favre returns to the game by stealing Jackson's helmet, throws an interception, and the Packers drive down the field, only to come up short as time expires. The Vikings return to the Super Bowl after over 3 decades of absence.

OK, I'm a Viking homer. I admit it--I'd like to see them go to the Super Bowl. But there is also one more really good reason for everyone to want to see them there--chaos.

See, the NFL has a dandy plan this year to make you think that the Pro Bowl is actually relevant--they're holding it in the week between the conference title games and the Super Bowl. Apparently putting everyone to sleep in the middle of a two week hype fest is a new strategy.

This means the players in the Super Bowl will not actually be in the Pro Bowl, leaving them to find substitute players out of the pool of runners-up to the backups to the starters. The Vikings lead the way with a whopping 9 Pro Bowlers on the team, leaving the league to fill out a quarter of the roster after most guys have already gone to the Bahamas for some clubbing. This would be such a mockery of the new Pro Bowl plan that it would be a shame if it didn't happen.

There it is: High drama, fun matchups, a Viking Bowl appearance, and disruption of the Pro Bowl. What else better way for the NFC playoffs to unfold?


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday haiku

Black Monday passes
Only two coaches fired
Calm before the storm


Friday, January 1, 2010

Mike Leach: It's bad to be both wrong and dumb

After being fired for punishing Adam James for being unable to play without a concussion, Leach has granted an interview with ESPN, shown in its entirety here.

It's an interesting situation that warrants commentary from us given how actively we've discussed concussions here. This is an important topic that deserves the media attention that it's getting. But what I'm not certain of is how much people are truly focusing on the correct thing.

Leach is maintaining he's done nothing wrong in this situation. And this is becoming a he-said-she-said story about how big the shed was, whether there was an ice machine in the shed or not, and whether or not what he did was put the kid in danger. In the interview, Leach says:
"The most important line on this statement [by the dr that diagnosed James with the concussion] says 'According to the information given to me, no additional risks or harm were imposed on Adam by what he was asked to do.' Okay and I'm gonna read it again because I think that's the most important issue on this."

The problem is, that's not the most important issue here. Not even close. Which makes Leach both wrong and stupid.

No, the most important issue in this is that Mike Leach is being accused of punishing a player for having an injury. And it doesn't sound to me like he's denying any of it.

It's one thing if Leach was saying he didn't believe James had a concussion and was punishing him for being an idiot. I could accept a story like that. And I've waited to post something about this until I got to hear Leach's position on this issue. Now that I know his stance is that he's done nothing wrong because the kid wasn't put in any additional risk, I'm happy to talk about how impressed I am with the stance Texas Tech has taken, and hope it sends a strong message to coaches around the country.

This, pure and simple, is an issue of the message Mike Leach was sending to the rest of his team. The message that having a concussion - or other type of injury - is a stigma. It's an encouragement for his kids to keep quiet about the injury and play through it.

It's a terribly dangerous message for him to send. It's tough for me to see how he doesn't understand that, but then again, I don't get a lot of the machismo crap that seems to be ingrained in many of these athlete's heads. It's a mentality that needs to change, and hopefully the actions Texas Tech have taken will begin to institute some of that change.

As a father of two young girls, I try to put myself in Craig James' position, or the position of the parents of one of the other kids on that team. And all I can think is, if I heard my kid's coach punished someone for being injured, I would explode. My kid would be off the team the next day, and then I'd be giving the coach and the school's administration an earful, and potentially getting a lawsuit ready.

Kudos to Texas Tech for firing him. Leach's inability to admit he's done anything wrong says to me honestly that he shouldn't work again, even though I'm sure he will. If he were a coach of a team my kid was considering, my kid wouldn't be considering that school any longer.

But more than that, I hope this sends a powerful message to other coaches and schools that this sort of attitude is no longer acceptable. For the sake of the kids and their safety, it's an attitude that has to change.


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