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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Week 15 NFL Observations (& Gripes)

Well I think I only made it to week 9, maybe 10 of my Sunday Steeler 6-pack this year.  I have tried this in some form or another since 2009 but to no avail.  Eventually it becomes like work so I give up.

As the years go by, the Steelers get older, can't compete solidly, and drift off into obscurity for the season.  What begins as a solid looking powerhouse of a team in pre-season, ends up being out worked, out played, and out shined (see Week 1 - Week 14) They are featured less and less on TV going forward too.  If the Bears and Colts are not playing, there might be a rare chance that CBS will carry the game as their National broadcast but that's it.  Sometimes they get a MNF, TNF, or SNF game but...they don't seem to perform in prime-time anymore and this Sunday's match-up against Cincinnati is fixin' to be a bloodbath.

So I instead resort to one of the greatest inventions in sports entertainment...The NFL Red Zone Channel.  This is the fourth year I have watched Red Zone and I love it even more now than the first day I turned it on. For those of you that don't have it or many not know what it is, let me quickly break it down.  It's every game from the time the ball crosses the offensive "red zone" until points are put on the board.  Not game action or mere seconds after.  Imagine if you had Sunday Ticket but didn't want to flip channels on your remote.  The channel flips for you.  As Scott Hanson announces each and every week as they go live, "It's Seven Hours Of Commercial Free Football".

Thursday night, Sunday night, and Monday night games in their entirety along with basically every other game on Sunday makes for a lot of football watching.  And this year especially, I have noticed many more things that have begun to annoy me to no end.

I present to you my basically the end of the 2013 NFL season GRIPE LIST.

1.  Up until last week (because of the weather), kick returns for touchdowns or what I like to call, The Most Electrifying, Death Defying, Game Changing Play In the Game, have virtually went away.  I am a defensive guy but for some reason, these plays get my heart racing.  While there are a few guys capable of taking the risk running the ball out of the back of the endzone, most players simply take their proverbial knee or simply let the ball go out the back of the endzone.  Please, NFL Rule Czars, I beg you.  Move the kickoffs back where they were.  I know you are trying to prevent injuries but come on!  You have single handedly rendered about 150 special teams guys around the NFL useless.  Congratulations.

2. I am sick and tired of player begging the referees for penalty flags.  SICK!!  I hate it.  As Ditka says, "Stop it!"  Just stop it.  Drew Brees!  You are going to get hit.  You are a quarterback.  It's not always roughing the passer.  And Wide Receivers!  Just because you drop a pass or it was thrown 30 feet over your head doesn't mean you were interfered with.  I think begging for flags should be FLAGGED!  It's unsportsmanlike conduct.

3.  Speaking of unsportsmanlike conduct, I'm all for being happy about a big play, a big sack at a crucial time, a fourth and goal-line stand, or a huge touchdown catch.  But celebrating a routine tackle?  It's first down and you dropped a running back after a four yard gain?  Great!  SO WHAT!  It's your job to make these tackles.  You get paid for it.  Stop pretending like you won the game.  Doubly for the four yard route runners that spin the ball on the ground after they just set up a fourth and three.  Triply for you too, guys that score touchdowns late in the game while still trailing by 20 points, slam dunking the goal post and doing the Harlem Shake in the end zone (people still do that, right?).  You are losing.  Act like it.

4.  Pass interference is not the same as incidental contact.  Pass Interference is not the same as bumping into a player running along the same trajectory as you are.  Pass Interference is not the same as a receiver quitting on a route because he is beat by a faster, more agile defensive player.  Pass interference is not running the wrong route on a pass play.  Pass Interference IS the most overly and incorrectly called penalty in the league and it needs to stop.  I get the grabbing and turning guys or not even trying for the ball thing.  But I have seen way too many ticky-tac calls this year and is just plain ridiculous.

5.  Jerry Jones.  Just...please go away.  Your team is failing because of one person and he doesn't play on the field.  You may have a god complex but even I am not stupid enough to think that one person can be owner, president, and GM and still be able to have a successful team.  I hate the Cowboys with a passion but even I am starting to feel sorry for them.

6.  RGIII is not a quarterback.  There.  I said it.

7.  Stop with the "feel good story of the year" before each and every game broadcast.  Save all that stuff for the weekly talking head shows and the sports reporter babble that goes on when normal people are at work.  If the goal is trying to get more female fans, I don't think it's working because even my football noob girlfriend (who still can't figure out the difference between offsides and encroachment...Shhhh!) thinks this stuff, while sometimes heart-warming and genuine, is a bunch of crappola designed to sucker people into watching boring games.  Touche.  But really, I know there are good guys like Russell Wilson who want to show off duct tape wallets made by sick kids, but there are also too many attention whores in the NFL too that get equal time devoted to their dumb asses.  Stick to talking about football and the game itself.  Leave the locker room hazing stories, the personal troubles with the law, the domestic disputes with wives, and the off-field antics out of the pre-game shows.  

8.  Just because you played the game of football doesn't make you an authority to speak on all aspects of the game.  You were a player and played a certain position for a reason.  If you are a defensive back, don't pretend to know what it's like as a quarterback.  If you were a quarterback, don't think for one minute that I believe you know how a tight end prepares for a game.

9.  To piggy-back on 8...just because you were a player, doesn't make you a good announcer, analyst, talking head, broadcaster, sports reporter, [insert job description here].  Honestly??  Most of you are pathetic and we only keep you around because you say dumb things that entertain me.

10.  I still hate Tom Brady.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Idea For A Hockey Set: Hockey Firsts?

Sometimes when I'm left to my own thoughts, it can be a scary thing.  I have little usable creative talent and even less computer graphic skills so I will concede this one to the likes of others out there that make custom card designs all the time.  Has there ever been a "retro-themed" set of Hockey Firsts?  I don't know of one, or a subset, or an insert set.

But if there has, someone tell me.

Here's the idea...

It's a 100-card set that features significant moments that occured in hockey that don't get recognized, or first feats.  Probably about 60-70 players and another 30-40 subset cards with either the same guys or different guys that fit the themes.

For example...

  • Everyone knows that the first goalie to wear a mask regularly was Jacques Plante.  Give him a card for being an innovator (or just plain scared). But the second guy...Jerry Toppazzini.  Give that guy a card in this set for being a lemming.
  • The first Soviet player allowed in the NHL was Victor Nechaev.  Give that guy a card for being a pioneer.
  • Sam Lopresti, then goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks, was the first goalie ever pulled for an extra attacker.  Give Sam a card (and get his dog one too).
  • The 1983 Islanders were the first team ever invited to the White House after winning the Stanley Cup.  Give them a team card with all their forced smiles, sucking up to President and Mrs. Reagan (if there is a picture of that somewhere).
  • The first guy to sign a contract, and actually collect on it [Derek Sanderson signed one but never collected it], worth $1 million in pro-hockey was Bobby Hull.  Give him a card for getting PAID! (I wonder what that would be worth in 1972 dollars today).
  • You could even do a whole host of cards of "ethnic" or "racial" the first black player - - Willie O'Ree; or the first black goalie - - Grant Fuhr; or first black head coach (and team captain) - - Dirk Graham; or the first Native American in the NHL (no it was Rene Boileau or Rainy Drinkwater as they called him) - - Fred Sasakamoose.
  • Here's an easy one.  The first 50-goal scorer - - Maurice Richard.  They name the stinkin' trophy after him now.  Give him a card.

These are just a few examples of cards that could be in there.  I have a ton of other player ideas also.  You could get some big name guys mixed with a bunch of lesser names, or players you wish had cards but never did.  There could be insert cards, autos, and whatever other pieces of whatever you wanted in them too.  But for now, I'm thinking just the base cards and maybe a subset or two.

Or maybe I'm just thinking out loud.

Either way, I think it's the start of a good idea.  Any takers?