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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How do we punish Penn State?

Everyone is talking about the child abuse scandal rocking State College. Everyone has opinions on how the people involved should be punished. And these are very different opinions. I'm personally glad to see that Sandusky will be facing 40 criminal charges and, if found guilty, should do some serious and hard jail time. I'm glad that Curley and Schultz are facing criminal charges and may very well learn about life in jail as well. Rumors today indicate that Spanier and Paterno are losing their jobs and I'm good with that also. Smarter people than I will make these final decisions, but as a fan of the game of football, what concerns me now is this: How do we punish Penn State?

We, as a nation, have created a monster and it's called College Football. NCAA rules have been violated at more schools than I can recount here and they have faced punishment. But up until now, these rules violations directly affected the football teams and players at these schools. The situation at Penn State should never have been about football. It should have been about a football coach who found out that someone witnessed a former employee of the school abusing a child. And it should have been reported to the police. It was not and the only reason I can see for this is the fear that it would tarnish the football program. People in authority positions put the welfare of children behind the money that is generated by their football program.

People are throwing around punishment options like cancelling the rest of Penn State's football season, de-certifying them from the Big Ten Conference, and even giving the program the Death Penalty. I don't like any of those options. It punishes players who had no idea what was going on, who were not part of the cover-up, who are not guilty of anything. My punishment is one meant to send a message to the NCAA and also allow the NCAA to send a message of it's own; take away the money.

The NCAA needs to announce that all money made this year, including pay-outs for teams playing in bowl games, will be donated to charities that assist victims of child abuse. They can find charities located near member schools and divide up the millions that they bring in and make a difference for these kids. And send a message that they really aren't about money, that kids matter.

And yes, I mean every single school in the NCAA. This is not a Penn State issue. This is not a Big Ten issue. This is an NCAA issue. This is a wake-up call for college football and it's fans. It's time to put the student back in "student-athlete" and stop the gravy train. The power, prestige, and MONEY involved in NCAA football created the environment where incredibly bad decisions (even criminal decisions) were made. And children have been irrevocably harmed as a result.

We are no longer talking about players getting free rounds of golf or tattoos. We are talking about the abuse of children. If this isn't enough to make the NCAA take strong action, cut back on the money it's making and spending, scale down to be what it was intended to be all along, then what will it take?

Respectfully Submitted,


Sunday, November 6, 2011

College Football: We've created a monster

We've created a monster in this country, and it's called "College Football." As fans of the sport, we've spent obscene amounts of money supporting our favorite teams by purchasing tickets and jerseys. Alumni (and people just wanted to be close to the programs) have donated millions of dollars to these schools to in the name of charitable support but in reality it was to give themselves personal access to the coaches and players.

The price we've paid for being entertained on Saturdays between August and January is the loss of our moral compass, the inability to distinguish between right and wrong. We now make excuses for breaking the rules because we want our team to play in Bowl Games and we want our favorite players - the really good ones - to be on the field. We've allowed our desire for this game to send the message to our children that the rules don't matter. And neither do they.

There have been many "Football Scandals" over the years. Most involve recruiting violations, giving gifts to young men to influence them to play for a specific school, and players receiving "improper benefits" while already in a program. We justify breaking NCAA rules by crying about how much money the NCAA makes and how broke these poor college kids are. We set the example to our children that if you don't like a rule, just break it. Why try to change it?

This week, allegations of child abuse have hit one storied program and should bring home to each and every one of us exactly how far up on a pedestal we have put College Football in this country and exactly how much damage this has done. At first, I tried to understand why it was being labeled as a "College Football Scandal" instead of just a "College Scandal." Yes, it involves a former coach, but he was not working for the school when the abuse was discovered and it didn't involved any team players. Now, I realize that his behavior was allowed to continue in an effort by the university to AVOID scandal hitting the football program. And that is truly disturbing.

One thing that each and every one of us can agree on: child abuse (in any form) is the single most despicable, terrible, horrendous thing that an adult can do. Children rely on adults to care for them, nurture them, act in their best interests. There is a sacred trust placed on every adult on this planet that children are to be cared for and, in my book, the abuser is just as guilty as someone who knows of the abuse and says nothing. You simply cannot allow anyone to hurt children. Period.

The allegations at Penn State University, from articles that I've read over the past few days, are this (based on grand jury findings):

1999 Jerry Sandusky retires as defensive coordinator to work full time at "Second Mile," a group home for boys

2002 Grad student witnesses Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy around 10 years old in the locker room at Lasch Stadium. He tells Coach Joe Paterno what he saw. Coach Paterno reports his story to AD Curley. University VP Schulz and AD Curley interview the grad student and then inform Sandusky that he is banned from bringing children onto campus. University President Spanier was informed of the ban and approved it.

Done. That's it. No further action was taken. No effort was made to find the child involved and see to his care. No report was filed with the police so that they could investigate the allegations. And as a result, Sandusky was free to continue to "help" boys for 9 more years. Who knows how many other boys have been assaulted in this time? Who knows how many young lives have been forever tainted. Who knows how much money the families of these boys will get in their lawsuits?

I am shocked that the investigation has taken three years to finally end up with grand jury charges, but I guess I've been spoiled by "Law & Order SVU" where we wrap everything up neatly in 60 minutes. And as I said, I considered this to be a failure of the University to report the alleged abuse to the police and not necessarily a football scandal until I saw this: Pennsylvania’s attorney general cited incidents involving Sandusky that ran from 1994 until 2009, including the above act.

The appalling fact that the allegations go back to 1994 tells me that rather than being concerned about the welfare of children, Curley and Schultz were worried about the football program, worried that Sandusky had taken advantage of his coaching position WHILE HE WORKED THERE to have access to children and that further acts of abuse would come out that would cover the Football Program. They were worried about losing all of the money that the football program brings in, not to mention their own jobs and the perks that go along with their positions.

In other words, they sacrificed a few children to keep their ivory tower supplied with riches. I'm deeply troubled by this. Sickened. And I feel partly responsible. I have contributed to this situation, I helped build this monster, we all have.

Perhaps this is finally the wake up call we all need to put College Football back where it belongs.... these should be student-athletes playing a sport as a way to get a college degree. Or officially just separate the team from the school and form a Minor League Football program for the NFL.

But something must change. It is not enough that a few men will lose their jobs or do time in prison. Punishment of the offenders is necessary but it does nothing to get to the root of the problem. It's time that we all faced the fact that we have created a monster.

If the abuse of children isn't a good enough reason to prioritize the importance of College Football in this country, then I don't know what it will take to wake us up and make us face the monster.

Respectfully Submitted,


Edited November 7, 2011

I didn't think it was possible, but I am even more outraged today as new information comes to light. This morning, I was thrilled to hear that Curley and Schultz have left their positions at Penn State, one to a "leave of absence" and one to "retirement." I figured it was just a matter of time before President Spanier also resigned.

Then I read an article on Yahoo! Sports by Dan Wetzel that says numerous people have come forward to say that Sandusky was on campus last week watching a practice and working out in the weight room.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? How do you testify before the grand jury and then let this monster on campus? I was willing to let Head Coach Joe Paterno off the hook. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he, in good faith, thought that the administration had reported the allegations and agreed to the ban placed on Sandusky to keep him off campus in 2002.

But to hear that he was on campus last week? That apparently the ban was simply against him bringing his victims to campus? That he was still allowed to associate with the program? ENOUGH.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Open Letter to the NBA...

Yesterday, David Stern announced that the talks between the NBA Team Owners and the NBA Players Association had stopped, that they had not made any progress, and that, as a result, he was "sorry to report" that the first two weeks of the NBA season had been cancelled. This is an open letter to all involved, BOTH the owners and the players. GET OVER YOUR EGOS AND GET THIS DEAL DONE!

I must start by saying I'm not a huge NBA fan. Yes, I like basketball but find the college game more to my liking. I'm a football girl and I spent my summer waiting and hoping and praying that the NFL lockout would end so that I could have my season. I can empathize with the die-hard fans that are going to miss at least two weeks of their season. And there is not much hope that it will be limited to two weeks.

I can understand the players point of view - they signed an agreement six years ago and now the owners want to change it. However, this isn't any different to me than a player asking to renegotiate his contract and holding out at the beginning of a season until the team agrees. Players have been using extortion to get the money they want for years - why shouldn't the owners be given the same option?

I can understand where the owners are coming from - a team that you bought for $300 million is having cash flow problems in this tough economy and cut backs must be made. The owners answer to this is to ask the players for concessions. It's no different than any employer being forced to lay off employees when profits are down. But before you spend $300 million dollars on a basketball team, don't you consider how the economy is? Don't you consider that there might be good times and bad times? It's it YOUR risk as an owner to look at all of the contracts and agreements surrounding a business before you buy?

Both sides made mistakes in the contract that was signed six years ago. And both sides should have to live with those mistakes. The simple fact is that if the economy doesn't pick up, seats will remain empty and dollar dog night won't be enough to get people to buy tickets. People will not spend $125 on a jersey, no matter how much they love their favorite player. The BRI value itself will go down because people can't afford the product that the NBA is offering.

And the real people being hurt in all this are the ones making minimum wage to clean the arenas, park your cars, sell those dollar hot dogs. And what about business owners in the NBA cities? Who's going out for beers at a pub on Tuesday night if they are not going to a basketball game afterwards? How many people will struggle even more in the current economic conditions when you take one of their busiest seasons away from them?

So stop telling us that you are "sorry to report" that you are cancelling games. Stop tweeting about free agency signing deadlines in the NFL. Stop whining that you will have to get a job at Home Depot or mowing lawns in your neighborhoods. Those are honorable jobs and people who try to make ends meet every day work in those places. Perhaps instead of talking about your humble beginnings and about how you made something out of your life you should try to answer these questions: What if it was YOUR mother who was laid off as a ticket-taker at the Q because of the shortened season? What if it was your father who lost his job because the restaurant he worked and couldn't pay the electric bill in December?

REAL people are being hurt by your inability to reach an agreement. It's time to think of the people who MADE you stars for a change and stop thinking about only yourselves. These people are the real losers in all of this.

Respectfully Submitted,


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Peyton Hillis Situation

This past weekend was not a good one for Cleveland Browns fans. Or Ohio State Buckeye fans. There is nothing worse for a fan than watching your favorite team play badly when you know they are capable of more. If they play their best, leave it all on the field, and still lose? Well, I can tip my hat to the opponent, say congrats, and go on with my day. But when they are not putting in the effort, when the coaches aren't setting them up to succeed with the right play calling, when stupid mental errors cost them, it's hard to remain positive as a fan.

I could spend time breaking down the good and bad I saw this weekend but, really, is they why you read my blog? Smarter folks than I can do a much better job. And real sports fans already know what went wrong. You come here to read my thoughts on "off the field" situations and antics because I usually have something to say about them. And you would be correct again today.

Peyton Hillis. #40. Madden Cover Boy. The White Buffalo. The Wampus Cat. He has many names but we know that he has become the heart and soul of the fan base, beloved by all of Cleveland, the cornerstone of our offense. Or is he? Much talk is going on regarding his contract situation and his battle with the streptococcus bacteria last week. And I'm here to say that talk better all be wrong.

We'll start with the contract. As fans, we'd love to have Peyton locked in to a three or four year deal. To secure what we feel is the basis for our running game, something this team desperately needs to have. To compete in the AFC North, you need a running game. You need a tough defense, and a running game. Am I repeating myself? Yep. You need someone who can run the ball in snow in December. And for the first time in years, Browns fans think Peyton is that guy.

The question is: does Mike Holmgren think he is that guy? If he does, then they are working on a contract. I don't like contract deals in the middle of a season, but no one asked me for my opinion on THAT before doing all of these other extensions. If they don't want to keep him, then he should be working on game film so that he can get an offer from another team (or a good trade offer) at the end of the year. Either way, I don't understand keeping him off the field. If you can figure out why he's not playing, please let me know.

I do think that the deals already announced are the Browns' way of showing both fans and players where their priorities are. Quick deals with the low money guys. Big deals for the O-line and Defensive guys that this team will be built on as they move into the future. I'm good with all that. The "sexy" players come last. But as a professional, don't you dare let those contract talks get in the way of the game on Sunday.

Next on my mind is the strep, Peyton being send home, and the rumors today that players think he was sandbagging and should have played I say: Shenanigans. SHENANIGANS! To even for a second consider that Peyton would sit himself down because of the contract, blame it on illness, and leave his teammates out there alone is ridiculous. That would be a total punk move and I don't for one second believe that. Speaking from experience, strep is one of those bugs that knocks you out physically and it can linger for a long time. I know I'm not a professional athlete, but I've been fighting a cold for six days and I'm still not back to 100%. You don't risk him infecting teammates and you don't risk him being injured because he's weakened by the illness. Anyone who thinks he was playing some kind of contract game can come to my house right now, say it to my face, and get a smack upside the head.

Whew. I feel much better now. Here's the bottom line, people. If this contract is turning into a distraction on this team, it needs to get done now. NOW. We have a multitude of issues to deal with so that this team can get back to making progress towards the future. We have players to evaluate and everyone needs to be at their best. We still have games to win because there are 12 more games this year. 2-2 is a start I can live with, no matter what road we traveled to get there. But there needs to be nothing but the game plan in these guys heads right now so this needs to be settled.

I think the Browns agree with me on that one. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't announce at some point during this time off for the Bye Week that a deal has been done. Personally, I've revised my opinion on how much money it should be. (Again, no one has asked me but this is my blog so I get to say whatever I want). I'm good with 6 million per year over 4 years. That's 24 million. Three years guaranteed with the fourth year being a renegotiation opportunity based on performance. Done. It's just that easy. Now, if I only ran the world....

Respectfully Submitted,


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bathroom Remodel - almost done!

So after MONTHS of work (well maybe "month" of work and a break that started back at Easter and finally ended Labor Day Weekend) my bathroom is close enough to finished to make me happy. Just needs a little paint on the window frames and some kind of curtains and we are DONE!

Before: stark white bathroom with peach counter tops. Yeah, I said peach. Sigh. It's a really great master bathroom with double sink, whirlpool tub, separate room with commode and shower, and a walk-in closet. Needed updating plus the shower just had a rod/curtain which is a pain to keep clean.

Here are some pics of the process. This is Joe putting tile on the wall above the shower, and the new shower door. No more mildewy curtains! Yeah! Oh, and there's a toilet now where that roll of paper towels is on the floor. LOL

Bathtub: Kept the tub, put new tile around walls and tub, created new front panel to hide motor for jets, added heater so the water stays at 104 degrees. Because having a 65 gallon tub and a 40 gallon hot water tank just wasn't working for me!

And here is my beautiful double sink. I truly believe that the "Double Sink" was invented by a married guy who got tired of moving all of his wife's crap out of his way so he could brush his teeth and shave! And the counter tile comes in sheets of 16x16 glass tiles. I did not make Joe lay out hundreds of little one inch tiles.

Hockey? Yeah, I love it...

The Olympic Games use to be a very big deal in this country, especially the Winter Olympics. Growing up in Ohio where there is a lot of snow from November until March, we were always looking for excuses to stay in the house. Mom was a firm believer in fresh air - and I suspect getting us out of the house on snow days - so we were bundled up and sent out whenever possible. Except during the Winter Olympics. Mom would make hot chocolate and my brother, sister, and I would sit with her during the day and watch whatever events were on TV.

We loved Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. I wanted to be Dorothy Hamil. The skiing was amazing and the jumps - Whoa! They still take my breath away. We laughed about forming our own family curling team, and I even took curling as a phys ed elective in college. And we watched hockey.

Like many people, I first fell in love with hockey in 1980 during the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, NY. Growing up during the "Cold War" is hard to explain to kids now. We had nuclear bomb drills at school where we were told that we would be safe under our desks. We watched movies like "War Games" and "Red Dawn" and even "Rocky IV" where we were told over and over about the evil Soviet Union. And we were afraid. But when the US Men's hockey team defeated the team from the USSR we shed some of that fear. We revelled in our victory as a nation. And hockey fans all over the USA were born.

When it came time for me to pick a college in 1984, I chose Bowling Green State University. Not because they had a great academic program for my chosen major or because they were close to home. I chose them simply because the BGSU Falcons won the NCAA Hockey Championship that year. Cleveland did not have a hockey team between 1978 and 1992 and I wanted to see hockey. I also wanted to see a winning program. Plus, their colors were brown and orange just like my Cleveland Browns.

One of the girls that lived across the hall from me in my freshman dorm was from Buffalo, NY, and was a Sabres fan. So, I became a Sabres fan. My favorite player was their goalie, Tom Barrasso. Coincidentally, when I got married in 1987, my husband was going to grad school at SUNY Buffalo so we lived in Cheektowaga, NY, for 3 years. I got to see actual Sabre games, and also Buffalo Bill football games in Orchard Park. I was still a Cleveland Browns fan, but during those years, I could root for the "home" team and enjoy Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith.

After moving back to Ohio, we started having kids so it was much harder to keep up with hockey news, especially because we didn't have any hockey teams in NE Ohio. I'm not sure why Cleveland has never been a big hockey town. It seems like the perfect place to me, but then again, being a Browns fan takes a lot of strength and heart and hope so maybe there's just not much left for anything else.

So all of this leads me to the fact that we do have hockey in Cleveland: The Lake Erie Monsters. They are the AHL affiliate of the NHL Colorado Avalanche. The AHL is the primary developmental league for the NHL. It has four divisions and we are in the North, along with Grand Rapids Griffins, Hamilton Bulldogs, Rochester Americans, and Toronto Marlies. The Monsters finished 2nd in the division last year with a record of 44-28 and went to the playoffs. They lost a tough seven game series to Manitoba 3-4 but at least they made the playoffs!

I think this years team has a shot at winning the North and I'm hopeful for a great hockey season this year. Opening game is October 7th at Quicken Loans Arena. I'll be writing more about them as the season gets underway so I hope you are ready for hockey news. I know we are a town full of football fans, but seriously, hockey is awesome plus they play on all different days of the week and I know that waiting on next Sunday to get here when it's only Tuesday can be pretty boring. Hockey can help spice things up a bit! Trust me.

Respectfully Submitted,


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lingerie Football League. Really?

I had the pleasure of going to the Cleveland Indians game on Friday night for the "Jim Thome-coming" celebration with my husband and some friends. I had a great time at the game, ate TOO many hot dogs (7.5 to be exact) and watched a 16 year-old girl enjoy her first ever major sporting event. Overall it was a wonderful evening that will give me more Indians Memories to add to my list. And then I started looking at Twitter and seeing tweets about the Cleveland Crush.

I'm quite addicted to Twitter. I love to send out random tweets during the day when I should be hard at work. I love tweeting during sporting events and chatting with other fans - whether we agree or not - about the Indians and Browns. I'm looking forward to hockey season this year because I've found some tweeps who like hockey as much as I do. Should be a fun season. But at the Indians game Friday, amongst all of the tweets about the Tribe game, I started seeing tweets about the Lingerie Football League and their game that night at the Q. Oy.

The Cleveland Crush is the Lingerie Football League team in Cleveland. Yes, you read that right. Ladies that play full contact football wearing uniform-like bras and panties. And that is my problem. There were tweets all night from the guys that were going to the game talking about how hot the girls were. I saw a few actually related to how they were playing but even after searching high and low through my time line the next morning, I never did see a final score or if the Crush won or lost. That tells me the people tweeting weren't there for a sporting event. They were there to check out the girls.

I'm all in favor of equal opportunities for women. I'm a big fan of Title 9 and making sure girls have access to sports and scholarships in high school and college. But when you take a sport and turn it into a spectator event, you cheapen the sport and the people playing. I've seen some stories on the ladies playing for the Crush and they are very talented. They work hard and are very good at the game of football. I could never take a hit like they do or catch a pass thrown hard right at me. But I wouldn't even try if I was required to do it in my underwear.

Women's rights have taken quite a few steps back in recent years. As a woman, I still think that a gentleman should open the door for me. That is just polite. That has nothing to do with equal rights. And I think that there is definitely a place for a woman's professional football league. I just truly believe that making the women wear skimpy outfits demeans all women and makes it harder for men to take us seriously in other areas beyond the arena.

Don't try to tell me that I'm overreacting. I asked six different women that I am friends with and that are big sports fans if they knew the name of the Cleveland Lingerie Football League Team and they didn't even know what I was talking about. I asked six men and they all knew, smiled and said they couldn't wait to watch it on TV. To call this a sport, when it is only marketed to horny guys and is shown on MTV2 is a joke, and it saddens me that any women at all were willing to participate.

Now, you can call me jealous or say that if I was a "hot young thing" I'd have a different opinion, but I will tell you that you are very, very wrong. I am a fan of both women AND the game of football. To cheapen either with this kind of "entertainment" is wrong. And sad - very, very sad. No, there aren't any pictures in this blog. If you want to see pictures of the ladies playing in their "uniforms" then you are exactly the audience the league is looking for and you should just go spend your time and money at Christie's or the Diamond Men's Club. At least those kinds of places are honest about what they are doing and don't try to pass themselves off as anything else.

Respectfully Submitted,


Saturday, September 17, 2011

CFB Picks - By Mascot - Week 3

EDITOR'S NOTE: Final record 3-3. I guess the Mascot Theory doesn't work. Perhaps next week I'll do it by uniform color..... :)

As we get close to kick off for the Week 3 NCAA College Football games, I was scanning my twitter timeline and saw a tweet that actually made me spit coffee on my screen...

Don't know anything about Michigan St.

their mascot wears a skirt

Yep, "Sparty" wears a skirt. Does that fact alone doom Michigan State to lose to Notre Dame? The ND mascot, after all, is a drunken leprechaun.... Which gave me the idea to pick six games this week based solely on mascot. I'm just trying to have a bit of fun so just sit back, enjoy, and don't get offended.

1. Michigan State (15) vs Notre Dame: Guy in a skirt vs leprechaun. I think Mich loses their first game of the year today so yeah, I'm taking ND.

2. West Virginia (18) vs Maryland: Mountaineers literally eat turtles for lunch. Turtle soup. I've had some, it ain't bad. Gotta take WV on this one.

3. Eastern Michigan vs Michigan: Eagles and Wolverines. Aside from being my favorite X-men character, Wolverines are nasty little buggers. Gotta take UM. Sigh.

4. Pittsburgh vs Iowa: Panthers and Hawkeyes, hmmmm.... If it was the whole hawk I'd be like sure they'll win, but just the eyes? Ew. Or is it like "Hawkeye" Pierce from M*A*S*H? Great doc but had a bit of a drinking problem. Either way does not bode well for Iowa. Taking Pittsburgh on this one.

5. Oklahoma (1) vs Florida State (5): Sooners taking on Seminoles. Wow - this is straight out of American History Books. Rugged old west families trying to make a new life by crushing the spirit of a proud Native American race? I think it's payback time for the tribe. I'm taking the Seminoles.

6. OSU Buckeyes (17) vs University of Miami Hurricanes: Yes, hurricanes are mighty meteorological events, but Buckeye trees thrive because they bend and don't break. Taking the Buckeyes in this one. (Big shocker, I know)

And that's it for me. Good Luck Notre Dame, Florida State, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Michigan and THE Ohio State University. If you lose today, at least you can console yourselves with the fact that your mascots are bad-ass. HA.

Hope you enjoy the games, regardless of who wins!

Respectfully Submitted,


Friday, September 16, 2011

OY! OchoCinco!

We are all familiar with social media like Twitter. One of the things that I like about it is the interaction with professional athletes. For example, I follow Chris Perez and Scott Fujita. There are a ton of players on twitter but these are just two guys that are active – they tweet every day, they answer fans tweets, they bring us – the fan – into their world a little bit.

They also open themselves up to criticism. Fans that are angry about a certain play or game feel like they can criticize the players on twitter – like it’s ok to say mean and nasty things to someone who missed a tackle or blew a save. Well;, I say its not ok. As fans, we have to remember that athletes are people as well as pros’ and we need to behave a little better.

But the athletes are finding a new down side to twitter coming from their peers – everything they say is getting reviewed by other athletes, commentators, sports professionals. An example of this happened to OchoCinco. Now, we all know that Ocho is quite a character. Along with being one of the best WR of the past few years, and perhaps the best to ever wear a Bengals uniform, he is also an outspoken personality who uses the media to enhance his public persona. Well, you gotta take the good with the bad when you do that.

Ocho tweeted last week about how amazed he was to watch Tom Brady in action as he threw for over 500 yards against the Miami Dolphins. And Teddy Bruschi came down hard on him – just ripping him all over ESPN for “sitting back and watching instead of being part of the team.”

I don’t understand where Bruschi was coming from. It entirely possible there are other issues at play here and not just that tweet. Kind of like when I yell at my husband about dirty socks on the floor when I’m really mad that he forgot our anniversary. If Bruschi is upset about some other issue with Ocho or the Patriots, that's fine. But he needs to own up to them and tell us what is really bothering him. Hiding behind a tweet is ridiculous, especially when so many other things that Ocho has said and done over the years were far more worthy of his disdain.

But as a Browns fan and someone who’s watched a lot of AFC North football, I can see how watching Brady was very different for Ochocinco than watching Carson Palmer. Don’t get me wrong, Palmer is a very good quarterback, but he’s no Tom Brady. While Ocho and Tom may have had their differences when they were on opposite sides of the field, I'm fairly certain they will find a way to "click" now that they are on the same team.

Lighten up on the Ocho a bit, Bruschi. I think it's was great that an NFL player can still enjoy the beauty of football and be amazed at what someone like Tom Brady could do. I know it amazes me every Sunday.

Respectfully Submitted,


Monday, September 12, 2011

This week is why I need Fantasy Football

Week 1 of the NFL is almost in the books. Just two games left and then it's on to start planning your party and tailgating activities for Week 2. Unless you are a fan of teams like the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, or Kansas City Chiefs. YOU are left today with a bad taste in your mouth, a sense of foreboding that a really bad season looms ahead of you. A depression from a poorly played game that will linger all week. Unless you play fantasy football.

One thing I like about baseball is there are games nearly every day of the week. Days off are rare, so when you suffer a humiliating - or just ugly - loss, you don't have time to dwell on it. There's another game tomorrow. But the NFL is a different animal. There are only 16 games and they are (usually) a week apart. That is seven days for you to over analyze and agonize over each and every mistake your team made. Seven days for you to swear you knew they couldn't win and brag about how you tweeted that they were going to lose. And then Saturday arrives and you start talking smack again with this week's opponent. You wash your game-day jersey and pack the cooler to head down to the stadium on Sunday. And it starts all over again.

I use to spend Sunday night and all day Monday in a "Football Hangover." I'd get so frustrated during games that my family makes me watch them in a separate room. I scream and yell at the TV, I pace, I throw things, I have a referee voodoo doll that I rip to pieces. And when they win I celebrate in the front yard doing my happy dance wrapped in my Brownie the Elf flag. But if they lose, my family is ordering pizza for dinner, tip-toeing around the house, and avoiding me until Tuesday.

This year, Opening Day was especially difficult. I am a world renowned "Kool-aid" drinker. I bought into everything. I tried to keep some objectivity and realize that there would be problems, but oh lord, not like that. To make matters worse, we lost power just as the 3rd quarter of the Browns - Bengals game was starting so I didn't even get to SEE anything for the rest of the game. Listening on the radio isn't helpful to me. I actually like to watch the linemen, the secondary, check out how the routes are being run, etc. I try to see the good things so that if the game ends badly I have some positives to build off of for next week. Not so much today.

But wait. What is that? What is calling my name out of the depths of my depression and telling me that I have to go on, I have to live, I have a purpose? Fantasy Football! I am in six leagues this year. This is the most I have tried to do in my seven years of playing Fantasy Football. Perhaps it was a psychic voice in the back of my head warning me that I would need the distraction during (yet another) rebuilding year. I don't know.

What I do know is that instead of scarring my grandson for life by having him witness me having a complete conniption fit followed by a nervous breakdown yesterday, I was able to look forward to the Cowboys - Jets game. I was able to celebrate each yard gained by Dez Bryant as it took two (yes, TWO) of my FFL teams closer to victory. I was able to live again. I was able to find joy in football games that did not include the Browns.

So, when you are gathered around the water cooler today talking smack and boasting about the great moves you made in benching Jermichael Finley and starting Ben Watson (yeah, that's me), and someone walks by and says "I just don't understand your fixation with Fantasy Football" never fear. I understand. When you love a professional team that always seems to find ways to let you down, it's the Fantasy world you can turn to for happiness.

However, if your Fantasy Football team sucks just as bad as the pro team you love, remember one thing: Dr Kate is in the house and is here to help you. Just tweet me @ClvlndK8 anytime and I will help you work through your depression as well as the tough lineup decisions. We are in this together!

Respectfully Submitted,


Monday, September 5, 2011

Why can't Cleveland get behind the Tribe?

With the most important series of the season starting today at home against the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Indians face an off-the-field dilemma: where are out fans? Why isn't Progressive Field sold out? Why is this pennant race being ignored by so many people? Why can't Cleveland get behind the Tribe? To answer this, I have to go back a bit in time. And share a bit of my personal history with you so you understand where my opinion comes from.

As a woman who likes sports, nothing makes me madder than when my opinion is discounted because of my gender. I know more about sports than most of the guys I come into contact with on a daily basis, and I have no problem sharing my thoughts and opinions with them. I laugh when the "new guy" at work looks at me strangely when I say something about sports and the other guys are all like "dude, she knows what she's saying. Don't roll your eyes." Which is why I am deeply ashamed of the way I treated my mother.

We moved from California to Ohio right before my 9th birthday in 1975. My parents are both from Pittsburgh, so it made sense that dad would be a Steelers fan. Mom liked them too, but she also like the Miami Dolphins since her cousin Doug Crusan played for them at the time. I, naturally, loved the Browns. Sure, part of it was rebellion against dad, but the other part was that Browns information was the vast majority of what I could find. This was the 1970's people. If you wanted sports information, you got about 8 minutes on the evening news or else you had to read a newspaper. And almost all of the information was about local teams.

I would read the paper on Monday to see how the Browns had done then dad and I would talk about it, argue about it, share it, while mom looked on. We never included her in those conversations. Dad wasn't much into any other sports so it was all about football. As I grew older, I learned baseball and basketball, but I did that on my own. After my mom died of cancer in 2007, I was helping dad go through some boxes in the basement and I came across a box full of baseball memorabilia. Apparently, mom loved baseball. Who knew? When I asked dad about this he said "oh, yeah, she and her sister use to go to games in Pittsburgh all the time back in the 40's and 50's." She had old baseball cards and newspaper clippings with box scores circled or simply cut out and clipped together highlighting her favorite players.

So now I am ashamed and saddened that I never talked with mom about sports. I can't be sure about why she never brought up the subject with me, but as a mom of four daughters I can guess the reason. When my girls find something to talk about with their dad, to connect with him, I try to stay out of it and let them have their time together. Maybe mom figured that sports was something for me and dad to connect with but I really wish she had told me about baseball. I'm sure she had some great stories and I missed out on that.

Which brings us back to today and the Cleveland Indians. As I said, dad wasn't into baseball so we didn't go to games. But I remember my friends going to games, taking their gloves in case of a foul ball no matter where there seats were, buying pennants to hang up in their rooms. There were baseball fields (sandlots) all over and kids would gather after school or on Saturday's and play. Most of us who are 40 or over share these memories. But that has changed for the next generation.

My kids were not raised on baseball because we were a "Football Family." They didn't play with friends in the neighborhood or go to Jacob's field to watch the Tribe. I was a stay-home mom but most other kids were at a babysitters or in day care. There were no other kids in the neighborhood anymore. On Saturday, the baseball fields were being used by organized leagues so if you weren't "organized" you couldn't play. And Jacob's Field never felt to me like a classic baseball field.

From 1995-1999 we had no football so I gave baseball a chance. I went to quite a few games at Jacob's Field and took my daughters. Frankly, it didn't feel the way I thought baseball would feel. It wasn't like the movies. It was corporate guys in pink polo shirts eating sushi and talking on their cell phones. It wasn't dads & kids with gloves and beers watching the action on the field. It just felt wrong. So I watch at home or listen to the radio. And I guess my "lack of attendance" is being interpreted as "not being behind the Tribe."

I think that plays into what the Cleveland Indians are seeing now. A generation of people who were raised on a different kind of baseball and who are not comfortable at Jacob's Field/Progressive Field. Football came back, the Indians record got worse, and people stopped going to the games. It's easy to say this is just a football town, or that after everything that Cleveland sports fans have been through we are afraid to "Hope" again.

But I think it goes back to the atmosphere at the ballpark and how our kids were raised. Baseball is a "slow" game. It isn't action packed like football or basketball. It isn't like a video game where you have something to watch every second. It's poetic and paced and relaxing. Kids today can't handle that. They can't appreciate the beauty of the game. They weren't raised on it like our parents were. So they don't want to go to the ballpark. They think watching baseball is boring.

I don't know how other ballparks are doing with regards to attendance. I don't know if this is a national issue or a Cleveland one. But I don't think it's fair to say we are not "behind the Tribe" because we are not going to games. There have to be other ways to measure fan appreciation for a team and the Indians need to find those ways. I may not be going to games, but I am watching. I am looking for score updates on the other teams in our division. I am blogging and tweeting about the Tribe. Many of us are. And Tribe Fans find it insulting when our dedication is questioned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Buckeye Nation: My "State of the OSU" Address

College Football Fans:

ATTENTION College Football Fans: Whether you are part of THE Ohio State University family or not, the things that have happened to the Buckeyes in the past year are a concern to you. At least they should. Even if you are a Michigan fan, while you are celebrating the downfall of Coach Tressell, you should also be concerned for the state of College Football and what these "happenings" may mean to your program. You should be concerned about what the NCAA might do next.
I know that I am.

I should start by saying that I am a Buckeye's fan. My family are Buckeye fans. The picture you see here is of my husband and I and two of our daughters forming O-H-I-O on the Great Wall of China in 2009. I love this picture. Not just because it is of my family, all decked out in scarlet and grey, doing something together, but also because of the memory of all the people BEHIND the person taking our picture. They were also taking our picture. As the only non-asian people on the wall that day, we drew quite a few stares. I'm not quite sure what they thought we were doing, but one thing I am sure of: we were the topic of conversation at many Chinese dinner tables that night!

With that being said, I think I can still objectively look at the current situation of the football program at OSU. The announcement of three suspensions this week for the University of Akron (Fear the ROO) game blindsided many of us. It stems from three players that attended a charity event in which all attendees were given gift bags. The exact worth of the bag is not known, but only reported to be "under $300." This is because the NCAA classifies improper benefits in categories based on dollar value in order to assign penalties. It doesn't mean the bag was worth $299.99. The timing of the announcement seems suspicious to many but I'm guessing it was decided a while ago and only announced this week as part of the line-up listing for the game.

I've said publicly that my biggest concern with these new suspensions is that the school, via Gordon Gee & Gene Smith, STILL doesn't know how to share information with the public in a way that gives them the complete story and cuts back on the speculation and innuendo that can do more damage to a program than the truth. Perhaps they need to hire a "Spin Doctor" to teach them how to do a proper press release. The one that OSU sent out was one that just begged more questions, and those questions have been all over the radio, internet, and social media like Twitter. People are slamming these three young men for not knowing better, for not caring about the school, for being stupid. My biggest question about everything remains unanswered: When was the charity event?

If the event was in July, I'd like to take these three players and the compliance officers at OSU out to my back yard and tell them to select a switch, as my dad used to do with us as kids. It is unacceptable to think that with everything else that has gone on in the past year, the sensitivity meter isn't cranked up to FULL. These guys shouldn't even be buying a box of cereal at the grocery store on the off change that the secret toy surprise could be considered improper.

If the event was back in late spring, April or May is the latest rumor, then I'm much more inclined to be lenient. It was a gift bag that all attendees got so I could see how the players might think it was ok.

The other thing I am hearing is that part of the problem is that they players did not clear their appearance at this charity with the school. Again, the lack of information from OSU is just fueling this fire. Were they just attending in support of a charity? Were they advertised as special guest to sell tickets to the event? Did they sit at a table together in the back or were they set up in the front signing autographs? All of these question matter and the fact that we have to ask them, and will get no answers, makes the school look bad and does it a disservice.

The University is failing these young men in leaving them out there for people to criticize. It should come as NO surprise to anyone that in this day and age of social media the players are being painted as villains, being called out by anyone with a Twitter account, being asked to turn in their uniforms. I, for one, will not be that harsh against these young men until more facts are on the table. Unfortunately, OSU has a habit of keeping their cards close to the vest (no pun intended) and will most likely never tell us the whole story.

Today the Buckeyes took on the Akron Zips. Two of my daughters, and most of my money, go to Akron. Fear the ROO! I support Akron sports and go to as many games as I can. My niece is a senior on their Lady Zip Volleyball team. We go to those matches. It is a good school with a great group of kids involved in these sports and I feel that being OSU's first game after everything that has gone on is so unfair to them. They were put under a microscope that they never asked to be under and from what I am hearing, the staff and players have all handled themselves very well. Kudos to a great program. I truly wish them luck, but with all that said, my personal loyalty starts with Ohio State so I'm happy we won.

Once today is over, some of the attention that OSU has been getting will go away. Some outlets will move on to other stories. And some will just sit back and wait for another opportunity to scream from the rooftops that OSU has done something wrong and that more sanctions are on the way. I understand all of that - any person, team, business, etc. that has success paints a target on it's own back for these kinds of things. That's just the way it is.

From a coaching perspective, talk has been going on all summer (and I heard some again today) about who the the Head Coach should be. Um, hello? Luke
Fickell? Remember him? Can we please let him coach ONE GAME before we decide he's not "the guy?" I absolutely understand that coaching a program like the OSU Buckeyes is not just about wins and losses. It's also about public image. It's about representing one of the most respected programs in the country. It's about living a high profile life and handling it with class. And it's about credibility. All of these things play into the recruiting aspect of college football.

The two big jobs for a CFB Head Coach are 1) winning football games and 2) recruiting for the future. In the NFL, players are chosen by the front office so the coach just has to deal with what he gets. In CFB the head coach is the key. He visits players, he talks to families, he builds his team himself. Yeah he has a staff of guys to help, but you know what I'm saying. High School players don't just choose a university based on the school itself. They also choose based on the head coach.

It is far too soon to be talking about how Ohio State needs Urban Meyer or Jon Grudin. Yes, they are quality coaches that any program would love to have. I would die if either of them walked into my living room and asked if my grandson would please come and play football for them. (I have four daughters so it's up to my grandson to give me a football player in the family)

Who were they when they first started? Someone gave them their first job. Someone let them walk into a living room so they could sign their very first recruit. Why are we so quick to assume that Luke can't be "that guy?" I am willing to give him some time this year and see how the team looks on the field. I truly believe that the OSU name is enough to get Luke into some living rooms and proving he knows how to win will be the ink in the pen for recruits to sign with him.

Where does this all leave us, the college football fan? Well, that's up to the NCAA. Which school is next to be on their radar? When will the NCAA move on to the "U" of Miami situation? When will those facts all be dealt with, meetings held, sanctions offered? How about the Oregon Ducks? There are cancelled checks for gosh sakes to a guy in Texas that claimed to be a scout but was actually steering kids to the Oregon program? The Ducks are one of the teams I root for - when they are not playing the Buckeyes - and yet I want them to be dealt with for their problems. It's only fair.

At some point the NCAA will have to move on from OSU and tackle these other issues. At some point the NCAA will have to take a good long look at itself and fix the problems. I am NOT in favor of paying players. I don't want to change the rules. I read an article in Sports Illustrated back on August 18 that was simple and brilliant in offering a solution to this mess. Josh Luchs suggested that the school compliance people NOT be employees of the school, but be employed by the NCAA itself. Brilliant. Read the article yourself and you'll see why I love it. No further comment needed by me since he puts it out there so well.

College Football is back today and I can't wait for the kickoff. Whatever happens in the coming weeks/months will have to wait until after the end of the 4th quarter. THE Ohio State University will rebound from this and be better than ever. The Buckeye Family will have it no other way. That's how things are in a family - no matter how badly they screw up, we love them anyway and we are going to be there for them. We are going to support them while they fix the issues. Because we know they will fix them, we know they are better than this.

O - H ....

Respectfully Submitted,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dear Peyton Hillis, Can I trust you?

Dear Peyton,

I read today that you would like to sign a long term contract with the Browns. That you really love being in Cleveland. That you said this team, this city, represents who you are. My question is simple: Can I trust you?

You've been here long enough to know about the trials and tribulations that we, Cleveland Sports Fans, have been through over the years. We've had people tell us they loved us, wanted to be here forever, wanted to "win us a ring." And then they left. And a little piece of my heart died each time.

I try not to be bitter. I still love my teams and try to maintain a hopeful attitude as each season begins. Sometimes I vent my frustrations with the players that have betrayed us, but always there is love for the team behind it.

I still buy game tickets and t-shirts repping the Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers. I bought "Madden 12" for my husband (Shh - don't tell him. It's a surprise). I still believe. But I only own two players jerseys. I have #32 BROWN jersey for the great Jim Brown; a legend in this town no matter what has gone on in recent years. And I have the #17 VAREJAO that my daughters had made for me three years ago for Mother's Day. They had to have it custom-made because he wasn't popular enough at that time to warrant his own spot in the nba.com store inventory. My daughters totally get me.

I've tried to live the cliche: "Root for the team on the front of the shirt, not the name on the back." But you tempt me. Oh, you tempt me to run out and buy #40 jerseys for my whole family. You tempt me to believe that this one time, a player really does love us and wants to be here and a part of us for his whole career. That we matter to someone. But I don't think I could survive the pain if you left, like so many before you.

It doesn't matter if you are chasing a ring or cashing in for big money, rejection is still rejection. And, right or wrong, we take that personally. That is just part and parcel with this town. We can't understand things like "It's just business" because this is personal for us.

So I'm asking you: Can I trust you? Will you stay as long as the Browns Front Office wants you? Will you be a part of this town, this team? Will you proudly wear the brown & orange?

Will your break my heart?

Respectfully Submitted,

K8 - Cleveland sports fan

Friday, August 26, 2011

The "Reid" Rule or "How Throwing a Red Flag Cost Me 15 Yards"

Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Defense. 15 yard penalty.

What? What did I miss? (rewinding DVR) I'm watching the TD play. I don't see any defenders making contact afterwards. I don't see any defenders acting a fool on the field. Wait - what did the announcer just say? The penalty is on Head Coach Andy Reid? Well heck, what did he do, punch an offensive player? No? He threw the Red Challenge Flag? I'm so confused.

TE Alex Smith made a great catch on a pass from Seneca Wallace that was batted around a bit. He caught, tucked, and rolled with the ball and the refs signaled touchdown. The TV camera angle showed him from behind so I was not at all surprised to see the Red Challenge Flag come flying from the Eagles sidelines. Even though it's preseason, the review crew needs practice too.
But apparently, that was the wrong call.

On his attempt to have a Cleveland touchdown reception reviewed which led to a 15-yard penalty and the play not being reviewed:

"I blew that one. The tough thing is that the referee has a little buzzer on him. The kicker is getting ready to kick the (extra point) and you're hoping that the referee knows the rule (that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed). I shouldn't have thrown (the challenge flag), but when you see someone step out of bounds, you expect the review to happen right now. You're sitting there waiting, and waiting. It's a new rule, and we're learning with it, so I should have just held onto the flag."

Along with the stupid new kickoff rule (don't even get me started on the emasculation of the national football league), there is a rule in place starting this year that ALL scoring plays are now Booth Review Only. Great. Awesome. Love it. But god forbid that after 19 years of coaching in the NFL you forget for just a moment and grab your Red Flag and whip it out there.... or you'll get a 15 yard penalty! Oy. How about a warning for the first offense? 15 yards is WAY harsh - even for the Browns opponent - on something that had nothing to do with the actual game. Again I'll say it. Oy.

I love the Booth Review for all Scores rule. Too many times the Red Flags have made a difference in the game. Instant Replay is important because we all want the same thing: to get it right. Whether the call goes for or against your favorite team, we all really just want it to be the RIGHT call. So as a coach, it must be hard to decide the throw the flag, knowing that you only get a limited number of challenges. Knowing that a bad challenge now could mean giving up a bad TD later that you CAN'T challenge. You have to weigh the risk/reward of every Challenge when you really just want the calls to be right. So I love the new rule. All scores will be reviewed by the booth. Yeah, most won't need review. But at least in the 4th quarter with the game on the line, I won't be crying in my beer because Mangini wasted a call on some stupid incomplete pass that wouldn't have given us the first down anyway (sorry, still have a bit of PTSD from last year).

So at the end of the day, it's obvious that the preseason isn't just for players to get back into the groove of playing the game. It's also for the officials to practice blowing calls and for the coaching staff to get smacked on the hand for not remembering the brand new rules. Yes, it's their job to know the rules. I totally get that. All I'm saying is that when you change something that had previously been such an ingrained habit - question the call, throw the flag - that you need to give people a bit of a break. A warning during the preseason would have been nice.

But then again, Football is not Nice. And I'm willing to bet that this is one of those calls that only gets made once. Meaning - Andy Reid learned a powerful lesson last night - one that ALL Head Coaches in the NFL will be talking about today. And I don't think we will see it called again for the rest of the season. Sometimes the harsh lessons are the ones that people all learn from.

Respectfully Submitted,


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Making Sense of the Pryor situation

Today, the NFL announced that Terrelle Pryor will be eligible for the 2011 Supplemental Draft, but that his NCAA imposed five game suspension will be carried over into the NFL season. If he is taken, he can practice until week 1 and then cannot play or practice until after week 5. And people are losing their minds. Since I can't get all of my thoughts into 140 characters or less, I'll do it here.

The Supplemental Draft was set up for two main reasons: to help players who missed the filing deadline for the regular draft or because issues developed which affected their eligibility to play college football. And that second reason is what we have here. The NCAA suspended Pryor for the first five games of the 2011 season due to tattoo-gate last year. Now here is where it gets sticky. For all intents and purposes, Pryor intended to return to OSU and sit out that suspension. I can deduce this by the fact that he did not declare for the regular draft.

So why the supplemental draft? What changed? Reports are out that the NCAA was still digging into Pryor's activities at OSU. Players are required to submit bank records to the NCAA if asked. According to reports, Pryor was asked and submitted those records and then promptly began talking about the supplemental draft. Hmmm. This makes me think he was concerned about further sanctions. Either way, the NCAA hasn't actually charged him with anything or given him any sanctions. This means his playing situation and eligibility have not changed. This means he is not eligible for the supplemental draft. Period.

And yet Pryor petitioned the NFL for entry and the NFL postponed the supplemental draft to review his case and meet with him. And today we have the decision: Pryor will be allowed to enter the supplemental draft but he will have to serve his 5 game NCAA imposed suspension. Either Roger Goodell has taken the "God" in his name to heart or the NFL is taking the recent NCAA scandals into account and are laying the groundwork for a future partnership with the NCAA. Maybe I'm giving the NFL too much credit, but I think that is where they are heading.

We can all agree that the NCAA is a big moneymaker. Most of us would also agree that there is something unbalanced in the NCAA making all this money while the players are living under strict financial rules. This is not the time and place for my opinions on paying players or the NCAA rules, but it is the situation the NCAA is living in. The NFL admittedly uses the NCAA as a minor league system; letting players grow and learn while scouts use their games to create lists of potential NFL stars. At some point, it is only natural for them to form some kind of partnership, even if only in spirit.

When a player is found guilty of committing NCAA violations, he and the university are punished. However, if the player is good enough, he can escape this punishment by declaring for the NFL draft. No harm no foul to him. But the university still faces the loss of scholarships or bowl games. Wait - what? Reggie Busch is a good example of a player who was already out of school and playing in the NFL when penalties were assessed. USC is still paying the price for Busch's activities and he is living the big life. Yes, USC shares the blame for what went on, for not monitoring or reporting, but should their penalties outlast those of the players? Maybe. As an institution they should have the higher responsibility. But where is the deterrent for players to follow the rules?

For those concerned about "setting precedents" and "slippery slopes" keep this in mind: negotiated entry into the supplemental draft as a new rule ONLY affects a future players eligibility to enter the supplemental draft. Goodell didn't grab a current player and punish him for past sins. He didn't grab a player getting ready for the regular draft and tell him HE would have to suffer any NCAA sanctions that had already been imposed on him. Simple answer: to avoid NFL game suspension, file for the draft before the deadline. Yeah, it's just that easy.

Perhaps if the threat of NCAA sanctions following a player into the NFL becomes a reality, they will start turning down yacht rides and hookers, stop trading memorabilia for tattoos, stop taking free cars... (it could happen)

Perhaps the NFL wants to help keep the NCAA clean of the influence of unscrupulous characters who will lure unsuspecting players into the sordid life of girls, gambling, and ponzi schemes.... (not bloody likely)

Or, Perhaps the NFL sees the hypocrisy of the NCAA rules and by taking this action, will get the NFLPA into the fight to help force the NCAA to take another look at the system and come up with something that makes the college football business more balanced for both sides.... (I kinda like the conspiracy-theory in this one)

At the end of the day, Pryor really is not eligible for the supplemental draft. No amount of whining by him or his attorney can change that. Roger Goodell's offer to let him in but keep his 5 game suspension is a compromise Pryor must have agreed to or else the NFL statement would have simply said he remains ineligible. Maybe Pryor fans, instead of complaining, should be grateful that they only have to wait until week 6 for the chance to see him play again instead of an entire year.

Then again, what do I know. I could just be a biased Buckeye Honk. (and proud of it)

Respectfully Submitted,


Friday, August 12, 2011

Fantasy Football is no place for "Homers!"

It’s that time of year – yep, Fantasy Football Draft parties are starting next week. And frenzied managers are looking all over the internet for tips and tricks to get the best players in their league.

Well, I would just like to remind everyone that: Fantasy Football is no place for “Homers!”

I’m a “Homer.” I love the Cleveland Browns and think that they can win every week. I cheer for them and talk trash with my friends that are fans of other teams. And believe me, there’s lots of trash-talk - especially during Browns-Steelers week. That is my Holy Week… a week of name calling and bad jokes and crazy bets.

I’m much more practical when it comes to Fantasy Football. I’d love to have a few Browns players on my roster so that when they win on Sunday I also score a ton of points in my league. And I don’t want any Steeler or Ravens on my team because I just can’t root for them to do well. It’s a dilemma. But lucky for me, there’s plenty of talent in the NFL so I can field a pretty good team without any Steelers or Ravens.

If I put my “homer” status aside, are there any Browns that are truly worth picking up in Fantasy Football? And what about actually starting? I’m here to tell you there are 3 that should be starting in every Fantasy Football league, and a few more guys that could turn out to be starters by the end of the season, or at least good bye-week replacements.

The Obvious first choice is Peyton Hillis. Cleveland’s own Madden cover-boy is ranked 4th best RB overall in most of the online stat comparison’s I’ve seen from last year. With Hardesty still recovering from the knee injury, Hillis will be sharing carries with Brandon Jackson.
While Jackson looks to be a good 3rd down back, Hillis should still be getting the majority of the carries as well as the goal line shots so his fantasy numbers will remain strong this year.

Next, and this one may surprise you, is Phil Dawson. This is a team with a new Head Coach learning a new offensive scheme in a shortened practice season. I anticipate it will take them a while to get everything clicking so in the meantime; Dawson’s field goal kicking will be a big part of the offense.

Finally, at tight end we have Ben Watson and Evan Moore. While Ben did well with the fantasy points last year, Moore has been burning up training camp. He’s clicking with Colt McCoy and is showing that he wants to be the man this year. The Browns also have some questionable talent in the wide receiving group, so while they are sorting that out, the tight ends will be the “go to” guys for Colt on his progressions. Watson is the smart choice for a fantasy starter but Moore is a great pick up if you want to hedge your bets for later in the season.

As a “homer” I hope and pray that Colt McCoy becomes fantasy gold. But this year if you want to take a chance, pick him up in later rounds. This offense could start clicking mid-season and you might find you’ve got a good bye-week or injury replacement. Also, if he does prove to be the QB of the future, he would make a good Keeper for next year. As for Josh Cribbs, it’s hard to know exactly how he will be used this year. As a kick returner? With the new NFL rules on kicks I don’t see many opportunities for the big run-back for a TD so that hurts Cribb’s value. As a WR? Too risky for me. But again, he is a guy you could grab in round 14 and hold on to “just in case.”

So to all you wannabe NFL Managers out there… don’t overlook the Browns.
Don’t assume that because they’ve been knocked down to the 28th position in the NFL power rankings that they don’t have a few stud players. Because they do. And that should give all “Homers” like me the hope that the Browns have some great pieces to build around and that the future is nothing but bright for the team and all of my fellow “Homers.”

Respectfully Submitted,


Monday, August 8, 2011

Really, how important IS the QB in the NFL?

Colt McCoy. #12. Camp Colt. Rookie. Longhorn. Future. Or should that one be Future "?". This year will decide Colt's fate as a starter in the NFL and as the future of the Cleveland Browns. Head Coach Pat Shurmer has named Colt the starting QB. This has fans debating the need for a veteran WR to be picked up in free agency. They are also saying that we'd have a better chance to win with Seneca Wallace taking snaps. I take more of a long-term view of this season, and a more realistic one.

Let's first face the reality that this team, no matter how much we love them, is not going to the Super Bowl this year. There, I said it. Not gonna happen. And that's ok. No, it's not ok that the Browns can't dominate the AFC but it is ok that I can see this team for who they are, that I can see the direction Holmgren and Heckert are moving in, that I can "drink the koolaid" and see a future where the Browns are a team that makes me proud.

As long as they are making progress, I'm willing to give them a little more time for this rebuilding process. I understand the frustration with the word "rebuilding." Heck, we've been doing it since 1999! That is unacceptable, and yet I feel that we are finally getting the right people in the right places at the top to create our dynasty. One of the keys to doing that is selecting the right QB, or at least that's what everyone tells me.

Having Seneca Wallace or Jarrett Brown start doesn't make sense. I've heard the argument that "Seneca gives us the best chance to win now." Fine, so we win 8 games, finish 8-8 and in third place in our division and... what? Season over. But what did we learn? What do we know about the team for next year, or about Colt McCoy? How do we enter next year's draft without knowing if we have our QB of the future? We don't. Colt has to play this year to we can figure out exactly what we have. And we have to give them time to learn the West Coast Offense to see if that is the right scheme for this group of players. And if we are lucky, Holmgren-Heckert-Shurmur have come up with the right formula of players and game plans and we are going to see some great things going forward.

Picking up an veteran WR in free agency sounds great. Give Colt a set of sure hands to catch his passes and evaluate his skills. And give us fans some wins. But at what cost? How much are we willing to pay for a rent-a-receiver for the year? A WR isn't the final piece we need to get to the playoffs... it'd be very nice, but it's really not necessary. Sorry, but that's the reality of this team. I once argued for getting a WR - Derrick Mason in particular. However, you can still evaluate Colt's skills without great WR's. You can still judge his accuracy, his arm strength, his leadership while guys are dropping balls. And you can judge the guys currently on the roster. This receiving core needs to be evaluated as well. As a fan I think it is going to make for some bad games. But it's still the truth. We are rebuilding and this is part of the process.

I decided to do a little research and looked at the past five seasons in the NFL, 2006-2010. I looked at wins, loses, playoffs, and the number of QB's to start each game. STARTING QB. Not everyone who took a snap. Just Starters. Well surprise surprise - we are not the worst team in the NFL! Oh, it's close, but still.... three teams in worse shape than us!

Detroit Lions 23% wins, 6 QB's, 0 super bowls
St Louis Rams 26% wins, 7 QB's, 0 super bowls
Oakland Raiders 30% wins, 8 QB's, 0 super bowls
Cleveland Browns 35% wins, 8 QB's, 0 super bowls

Seeing a pattern here? Let's look at the top four teams:

Pittsburgh Steelers 64% wins, 3 QB's (because of Ben's injury), 2 super bowls
San Diego Chargers 69% wins, 1 QB, 0 super bowls
Indianapolis Colts 76% wins, 1 QB, 2 super bowls
New England Patriots 79% wins, 2 QB's (injury to Brady), 1 super bowl

Wow - Only team to have more starting QB's over the past five season is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 9 but they've had a ton of injuries and STILL managed to land a 44% winning stat.

What have we learned here, people? Well, I've learned that if you don't have that top Go-To Guy, the "Ace" QB, the Leader in the Huddle, statistics show that your team is going to suck. Harsh reality, but there it is. So, if H.H.S. needs some time to evaluate Colt and decide if he's our guy, I'm willing to let them have this year to do that. Because that is the single biggest question facing the Browns right now. I know that we are ALL tired of rebuilding but won't it be nice to at least have the QB piece of our puzzle nailed down? Then fans can feel good about buying their ticket to ride the Colt Bandwagon. I know I will.

Respectfully Submitted,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Up close and TOO personal? Fans vs Athletes

Back in the good old days - and I mean the 1980's - if you wanted to send a message to your favorite pro athlete, it took some time. You had to write a letter, put a stamp on it, mail it, and about five days later it would arrive at the offices of the team he played for. Then maybe, just maybe, within another week or two it would actually get to the player. And usually, between the time that you were motivated to fire off a letter and your actually getting it ready to mail, you were no longer really upset by whatever motivated you to write in the first place. You had some cool-down time. And you just tore up the letter and went on with your day.

Typically, it was kids who actually mailed fan letters to their sports heroes. If they were very lucky, they would check the mailbox everyday for a month or two and one happy day, find either a form letter or a picture with a machine printed signature on it. And danced all the way into the house to show dad what they got.

In the '90's, we all got computers and the Internet. We could look up players on websites and get their email addresses. We could fire off nasty emails when they made us made, either by bad game play or by something that they reportedly said. Either way, our actions were immediate - we angrily banged the keys on the computer and fired off a wickedly rude email. And then we were done. On the other end, who knew if the player ever even read the emails. My guess was that they had assistants who would "filter" the emails and shield them from the rough stuff sent by crazy fanatics.

Then we come to today. We have FaceBook and Twitter. We have the Blogosphere. We have fans expressing opinions on talk radio. Whoever you are, if you have an opinion on a team or an athlete, there are MANY venues for you to use to get your message out. And there are no filters. And once you say something, it's out there for anyone to see. And you can't take it back.

To make matters worse, our favorite athletes are also out there, trying to be more accessible than ever. They are FaceBook-ing and Tweeting every day, and responding to fans like never before. Fans are now able to get up close and personnal with athletes, and, in my opinion, TOO personnal. No one on either side of the fence THINKS before the TWEET. They just fire off the first thing that pops into their heads. That is both the "Beauty" and the "Beast" of social media like FaceBook and Twitter.

Sports is a Passion for fans but has become a Business for the athletes. As fans, we often forget this fact. We expect them to have the same love and devotion for our team and our city that we do and that is just not the case. We lash out without thinking because we FEEL so much for out team. We don't take the time to consider that the person on the receiving end of our sharp tongue/key strokes is, indeed, a PERSON. We would never say these things to one of our friends or family members, yet while we feel that we "own" our team's athletes, we don't treat them very well.

Now, I am not advocating censorship or even filtering. I'm just asking people to think a bit about what they are putting out there. A simple "lol" at the end of a comment let's everyone know that you are being sarcastic or kidding or not intending to hurt someone's feelings. And if you really are angry, and if you really would say the same things to a person who was standing in front of you, then please don't be surprised when athletes react. They are people too and have the same feelings that you do. And are equally guilty of lashing out when they feel attacked. It's all part of the new world we live in.

So the next time you want to criticize an athlete, by all means, go ahead. But don't expect them just to take it. And don't be surprised if they strike back. I understand that they make obscene amounts of money to play a game and be in the public eye. For that compensation, they lose their privacy and there are expectations placed on them by the "people paying their salaries." A thick-skin is required as part of the deal when they sign on the dotted line. I get all of that.

But I am also incredibly thankful that every mistake I make isn't viewed by millions of people. And that those people don't have permission to rip me to shreads for it wherever the can. #JustSayin

Respectfully Submitted,


Monday, August 1, 2011

Class of 2011 NFL Hall Of Fame

Getting lost in all the hype over the end of the NFL lockout and the rapid-fire trading going on is the fact that this weekend is the Enshrinement Ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2011. Shannon Sharpe, Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Richard Dent, Ed Sabol, Chris Hanburger, and Les Richter are this year's inductees. I think each of these gentlemen has left his mark on football - and in the records books.

Shannon Sharpe - wasn't always a commentator for CBS Sports. He was also one of the best Tight Ends to ever play football. With 815 catches and over 10,000 yards, Shannon sets the mark for other TE's. Except for two years spent in Baltimore working under the watchful eye of one of his heroes, Ozzie Newsome, he spent his career as a Denver Bronco. He won two Super Bowls as a Bronco and one as a Raven. Since I hate both of those teams, that is all I have to say about that. Oh, except that his brother, Sterling, a former NFL player himself, will introduce him at the ceremony.

Deion Sanders - Prime Time - may truly be the most feared pass defender to ever play the game. Ranked as the 4th fastest football player in NFL history, Sanders is one of the best athletes of all time. He started his career as a baseball player before moving to football. He remains the only player in history to hit a home run and score a touch down in the same week. He is also the only player to be in the World Series AND the Super Bowl. Finally, is only the second player to score a TD in the NFL six different ways: punt return, kickoff return, receiving, rushing, fumble recovery, and interception return. Damn!

Marshall Faulk - 1999 NFL Offensive player of the year and Pro Bowl starter, Faulk is known best for his rushing, but it was his receiving abilities that made him truly dangerous. The Tennessee Titans found this out first hand in Super Bowl XXXIV where Jeff Fischer was able to scheme his defense so that Faulk was held to just 17 yards rushing. However, the 90 yards he got through the air was enough to win the St Louis Rams the Lombardi Trophy. He retired due to knee problems in 2006 with 12,279 rushing yards and 6,875 passing yards. That's nearly 20,000 yards in 13 seasons people! Do the math!

Richard Dent - Da Bears. That's what I know about him. I remember the SNL skits withe Da Bears fans and the refrigerator Perry and Jim McMahon wearing his Rozelle sweat band. And through all that,
Dent just kept kicking butt and taking names on the defensive side of the ball and earned himself the MVP of Super Bowl XX trophy. He also was on the Super Bowl XXIX San Fran 49ers team even though he was injured most of the season. Now, in my opinion, the best film to watch of Dent involves YouTube and search term "Super Bowl Shuffle." But that just might be me.

Ed Sabol - was the president and one of the founding members of NFL Films. He is partly responsible for "Hard Knocks." Enough said.

Chris Hanburger - "The Hangman" - a linebacker who played his entire career with the Washington Redskins, 1965-1978. Like many players of his generation, he went into the Army before going to college at UNC. After playing both sides of the ball as a Tarheel, Center and Linebacker, he was drafted by the Redskins. The nine-time Pro Bowler and 1972 NFL Defensive Player of the Year still couldn't get past the Miami Dolphins during their perfect season. While the Redskins only allowed 14 points to the Dolphins in Super Bowl VII, it was all Miami needed. On a side note, my mom's cousin Doug Crusan #77 was a member of that Dolphin team, so it's all good.

Les Richter - Drafted in 1952 by the Dallas Texans, he was then traded in one of the most lop-sided eleven-player trades in NFL history and ended up a Los Angeles Ram. (For the record, the largest player trade remains at 15 between Cleveland and Baltimre back in '53. Don't get me started on THAT! Who trades away Don Shula!) As a Linebacker & Guard, his stats include 16 interceptions. His stats also include 106 extra points and 29 field goals. Yep that's right - he was also the team's kicker! I could not even imagine the whining and crying that would go on now if a player was asked to play both sides of the ball on every down or play linebacker and THEN kick the ball. Unfortunately, the NFL waited too long to give the HOF to Richter as he has passed away. I'm sure it will be an emotional day for his son who will be at the enshrinement on his behalf.

So there you have it - the Class of 2011. I'll be at the enshrinement ceremonies so that I can see these seven pieces of NFL history be given their accolades. And I'll be clapping and celebrating for all of them. Without these guys, and especially Hanburger and Richter, we wouldn't have the NFL that we all know and love today. Thanks guys!

Respectfully Submitted,