Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

In September, I went to Las Vegas with the intention of betting on the Green Bay Packers to win the #SuperBowl, but I was scared off by their week one blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Now, I’m sitting here with a marker worth $100 if Seattle wins the Super Bowl, and look who’s threatening to stop them. Damn.

At the half, it’s 16-0 Green Bay.

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Everyone who’s read this blog knows that I’m no friend of the media. I take them to task whenever they screw up (whether I write about it or not). As I pointed out when I decided to end my Stupid Predictions series, I had a better pick percentage than the alleged “professionals” in the MMA media. Apparently, the problem exists in the NFL as well. Granted, in this age of ridiculous parity, it’s tough to predict who’s going to win any given game, but no tougher than predicting the fight game, and I was able to do that about 64% of the time (about 10% better than the best of the “pros”). So, here are some highlights of what your experts predicted for the 2012 NFL season.

Bill Barnwell

The Steelers (8-8) and Chargers (7-9) would win their divisions, and the Bills (6-10), Eagles (4-12), Buccaneers (7-9), and Cowboys (8-8) would make the playoffs. This means that 50% of Barnwell’s picks were not just wrong, but horribly wrong (i.e., those picks didn’t even get to the playoffs).

Andrew Brandt

The Chargers (7-9) and Eagles (4-12) would win their divisions, and the Steelers (8-8), Bears (10-6), and Giants (9-7) would make the playoffs. Of the 12 playoff teams, Brandt got 7 (58%) right. With two of his divisional picks not even making the playoffs, should we consider the 58% only 48%? There’s got to be a reasonable algorithm for adjusting the percentages for dumb picks. Believe me: These aren’t the last dumb picks you’re going to see.

Jeffri Chadiha

Good news: Chadiha got all of the AFC divisional champs right! Bad news: He picked the Giants (9-7) to win their division, and the Bills (6-10), Steelers (8-8), Bears (10-6), and Lions (4-12) to make the playoffs. Chadiha got 7 of 12 picks right (58%), but picking the Lions to make the playoffs should mandate some form of public humiliation issued by a judge.

John Clayton

Here’s an expert known for his inside information. How’d he do? He picked the Steelers (8-8), Chargers (7-9), and Eagles (4-12) to win their divisions, and he also picked the Bills (6-10), Giants (9-7), and Bears (10-6) to make the playoffs. This represents a 50% pick percentage, with some picks being ridiculous. If that isn’t embarrassing enough, he picked now-unemployed Andy Reid to be coach of the year. It looks like the reason Clayton always breaks stories isn’t because he knows football, but because he has a business card that says ESPN, so people will talk to him on the reputation of his network alone. He obviously doesn’t understand football.

Ashley Fox

Again, we have someone who picked all of AFC divisional winners, but she also picked the Giants (9-7) to win the NFC East, and the Steelers (8-8), Chiefs (2-14), Eagles (4-12), and Bears (10-6) to make the playoffs. The Chiefs and the Eagles? I really need to come up with a reasonable algorithm to modify her pick percentage (58%) to account for truly reprehensible picks.

Dan Graziano

The Chiefs (2-14) will win the AFC West? Someone please arrest this man. Where are the cops when you need them? In addition, Graziano picked the Giants (9-7) to win the NFC East, and the Steelers (8-8), Bills (6-10), Eagles (4-12), and Bears (10-6) to make the playoffs, giving him the familiar 58% we’ve seen throughout this article. Graziano should also lose points for making now-unemployed Romeo Crennel his coach-of-the-year pick, and even more points for picking the Eagles considering he specifically covers the NFC East for ESPN.

Jamison Hensley

Nothing could be sweeter than pointing out the stupidity of picking the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. There was absolutely no justification for that pick. Hensley picked the Steelers (8-8), Cowboys (8-8), and Cardinals (5-11) – that’s right; I said Cardinals – to win their divisions, and the Titans (6-10), Bills (6-10), Eagles (4-12), and Lions (4-12) to make the playoffs. On average, the wild card picks have half the number of victories generally necessary to make the playoffs. This gives Hensley a 42% pick percentage, with the embarrassing Jason-Garrett-will-be-coach-of-the-year pick. Congratulations, Jamison; you’re in last place.

KC Joyner

This is getting tiring, but we’re at the last “expert” pick. Joyner had the Chargers (7-9) and Eagles (4-12) winning their divisions, and the Steelers (8-8), Raiders (4-12), Bears (10-6), and Giants (9-7) making the playoffs, bringing us another unimpressive 50% pick percentage.

Someone Should Hire Me

Professionals, indeed. In school, a 58% would be an F, and a 42% would be grounds for academic dismissal. Cheer up, though, ESPN. If you combine all of these picks, you have a decent number of good ones. Where do they find these people?

No so long ago, I went to Las Vegas and got a ticket picking the Carolina Panthers to beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl (I have witnesses). If John Fox (coach of the Panthers) didn’t go for two-point conversions twice, I would likely have won that bet (they lost by two points on a last-second field goal despite having all the momentum in that game). I didn’t publish my picks this year, so I can’t back up my claim I did better than this (I picked the Steelers over the Colts, and the Giants and Saints over the Seahawks and Vikings, giving me a 75%), but I’m willing to do so in the future. I’m going to watch as much preseason football as possible next year, then make my picks. We’ll see how I do.

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It’s all over the internet. Sports commentators are so happy to have some news of this magnitude. The Seahawks-Packers game was decided by a bad call. Okay, I get it . . . sort of. I don’t understand the focus on the catch itself. Was it a simultaneous catch? Was it stripped away at the end?  At least there’s an argument there for the Seahawks, however weak, and I could see the refs being out of position for that call, justifying (to some extent) the screw up.

The push off, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.

The talking heads are talking about the push off too, so I don’t need to explain it to you in great detail. In summary, there was unarguably offensive pass interference, visible from every angle,  which would have brought back the play and resulted in a 10-second run off by rule.  This means the game would have ended, with no second chance for the Seahawks.

There’s no excuse for missing it. A first-time ref with no prior experience at any level should have seen that. I could have made that call. You could have made that call. That should be the focus, because that’s the strongest argument to be made.

I Hate Drama

On another note, quit your bitching Packers fans (and all football fans). The replacement refs are making bad calls across the board. While complaining about the lower quality is reasonable, you’re overstating your arguments when you claim that a single call costs you the game, even a call like the one in question here. Without several prior bad calls in your team’s favor, your team would probably not be in a position to win the game on that play anyway. I’ve objectively watched this happen to my Redskins in both of their losses. Yes, they were robbed, but so were the Rams and Bengals. It seems to be balancing out. If your team lost, they lost, and next time they should try harder.

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And now, a stupid diversion.

I love football. It’s no MMA, but it’s pretty damn awesome. It’s the perfect sport for the American culture, which is why it’s surpassed baseball as America’s true pastime. I love watching preseason. The first quarter of the first couple of preseason games is always a great predictor of how well a team will do in the regular season. I also watch every regular season game I can, even if it has no direct impact on my Washington Redskins. (If you’re wondering why I call them, “my Washington Redskins,” it’s because the news media officially recognizes them as such.)

I’ve been in my fantasy football league, the DFFL, for 10 years or so. It’s a true keeper league. We draft players and sign them for up to 3 year contracts, securing them for the future. We get one franchise player per year, which allows us to keep that one player for up to 4 years before he goes back into the draft. I never have a Cowboy on my roster. NEVER! I’ve won the league a few times, and came in second a couple of others. I’m currently defending my #2 status in the league.

My team was originally named “Moesha’s Crew.” This was when Moesha, and Brandy Norwood for that matter, were still relevant. (If you don’t remember her, don’t worry about it.) Every year after the first couple, I’d create a press release to announce that my team had new ownership and was renamed accordingly. That process eventually evolved into the latest media disaster taking over the team by way of a drinking contest or other such event. The GM (me) would always express his frustration in the change of ownership.  Past owners have included Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, Snooki, Paris Hilton, and last year’s owners, the Kardashian sisters. This year, I used a Washington Post article and took a new slant on ownership, though depending on your political viewpoint, you might characterize the new owner as a “media disaster” as well. I’m not going to get into that. This is a sports blog.

by Fred Snerd, Washington Post

Manassas, Virginia – In a surprise move, Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate for President of the United States, has purchased the current #2 DFFL franchise from the Kardashian sisters. Asked to comment, the former governor of Massachusetts noted, “Hey, you might not have heard about this the first 1,000,000 times it was mentioned by me, but I have experience in sporting events. I saved the Olympics, and in turn, the United States of America. Taking over a football team makes perfect sense, especially considering its prior owners looted its assets, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy. I can work with this . . . or fold it. I don’t care. I need to have something to do, because after November, I’m going to be unemployed again.”

It’s been widely speculated that the Kardashians were shopping the team to potential buyers on account of the fact that they now prefer to sleep with professional basketball players rather than professional football players. One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, opined, “Look, there are far fewer members of a basketball team than a football team, so there’s more money to throw around on salaries In short, the basketball players make more, and that’s all those whores want . . . as if they don’t have enough money from their dead daddy already. I don’t know how I can keep running this team with annual changes in ownership, but I’m optimistic the new Republican ownership might be a better fit for me. Don’t print that last part. I want to remain anonymous.”

When asked to comment, GM Robert E. Bodine, Esq., attorney-at-law, Republican shill, and evil overlord of the DFFL’s biggest failure, said, “Don’t print that last part. I want to remain anonymous.”

Anonymous indeed.

I present to you the roster for Romney’s Roughhousers. I’ve changed the line up since taking this screenshot, so there’s no need to tell me I need to make changes.

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If you can't handle the truth, hide from it.

One of the most prestigious papers in the country, the Washington Post, published an op-ed piece by Fred Bowen entitled, “Ultimate fighting is too brutal to be considered a sport, even if it’s on TV.” Rather than place this long of a response in the comments, I simply pointed to this article. This is my response to Bowen’s disturbingly unprofessional commentary on what he calls, “ultimate fighting.”

———————–

Your article is confused and intentionally misleading, and you should be ashamed of your willingness to protest a subject about which you know so little. You take many factual missteps in you op-ed piece. For starters, the sport is called, “mixed martial arts” (“MMA”) “Ultimate fighting,” is a throw back to the early 90s when the only MMA promotion was the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”). Your ignorance isn’t limited to the sport you hate. Your claim that 15-round fights are the norm in boxing is also wrong. A simple internet search shows that the last 15-round boxing match in America (among the major organizations) was held in 1988. It’s these easily-verified factual discrepancies that cast doubt on your qualifications to address this topic; however, dismissing you outright would be lowering myself to your level and give you an “out.” Despite your apparent lack of concern for logic and factual evidence, let’s examine some of your more ridiculous claims.

Danger, Will Robinson!

To say that “almost anything goes” mischaracterizes the sport. Though you’ll likely deny it, you’re clearly trying to imply is that there are dangerous techniques (e.g., eye-gouging, fish-hooking, strikes to the spine) permitted in MMA, which is not true. The sport is a mix of many different martial arts, but everything that’s legal in the UFC (and some things that are not legal in the UFC) are legal in all of those other sports. That is, throws are legal in judo, punches are legal in boxing and kickboxing, kicks are permitted in kickboxing, and joint locks are legal in jiu-jitsu and judo. As a combination of multiple martial arts disciplines, all of these techniques are available in MMA. This means that there is a broader variety of techniques available to the fighters, but not that there are more dangerous techniques available. These are the same techniques to which you don’t seem to object in those other contexts. There’s simply no reason to jump to the conclusion that having all of these techniques available is somehow more dangerous.

In fact, there’s reason to assume the combination is less dangerous. The fact that some fighters choose to use grappling techniques to subdue an opponent rather than striking techniques to knock them unconscious would suggest, on average, a safer track record than a competition in which the only option available would be to use striking techniques to knock out your opponent. Is this true? Let’s go to the data.

LiveScience.com recaps new evidence showing that the most dangerous sport for high school and college females is cheerleading: Another study found that between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, with the vast majority (67) occurring in cheerleading.”

This one point addresses Dana White’s comments on cheerleading in particular, and it’s a bit more scientific than your “I’ve watched some ultimate fighting” argument. I also direct you to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, and in particular their Annual Report on catastrophic sport injury for 2010, which covers high school and collegiate athletics. Here are some highlights:

For the 28-year period 1982-1983 – 2009-2010, high school fall sports had 771 direct catastrophic injuries and 747, or 96.9%, were related to football participants.

 

For the 28 years, 1982-2009, there were a total of 163 college direct fall sport catastrophic injuries, and 156 were associated with football.

 

As shown in Table IX, high school winter sports were associated with four direct catastrophic injuries in 2009-2010. All four were associated with ice hockey – one death, two disability, and one recovery. High school winter sports were also associated with four indirect fatalities and three indirect injuries with recovery during the 2009-2010 school year (Table XI). Basketball was associated with all seven indirect injuries. All four of the fatalities were heart related.

So, as an example, the number of deaths nationwide in 2009 for high school hockey alone is twice as great as the number of deaths in American professional mixed martial arts in its entire 18 year history. (Neither of those deaths occurred in the UFC.) The same can be said for the non-contact sport of basketball! Do we dare add the data from professional sports? Should we pull equestrian sports into this equation? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to ban that brutally violent and dangerous sport. (Which, by the way, you shouldn’t. Though it’s been proven by many studies performed around the world to be the most dangerous spectator sport, it’s still much more safe than riding in a car.) Combat sports in general, and the UFC in particular, are far and away the safest spectator sports in the United States. The data backs up that claim, but again, I’m not sure your concern is with minor details such as “data” or “logic.” It seems your focus is on making sure no one’s feelings are hurt. (For those that do care about such minor details, I suggest the Journal of Combative Sports as a starting point. When you consider the number of deaths per 1,000,000 participants, combat sports compare quite favorably to other spectator sports.)

But They Look Like They’re Hurting Each Other’s Feelings!

Your concern of the glorification of violence suggests you’re not much of a sports fan, which is fascinating in light of your position with the Washington Post. What’s more violent than a strong hit against a defenseless receiver in a football game, a hard check in hockey, or a fatal car accident? The fact that some of these (not all, as you state) are “accidents” doesn’t change the fact that their heightened frequency makes them more dangerous. It also doesn’t change the fact that those sometimes-fatal events are what the fans are waiting to see. That, by definition, is the glorification of violence, and if it doesn’t invalidate football, hockey, or auto-racing as sports, it doesn’t invalidate MMA as a sport either. (Auto racing isn’t a sport for a different set of reasons.)

On top of all of this is an intangible that shouldn’t be ignored (though I admit it’s immeasurable). Some people are better able to handle pain and damage than others. While I’m certain you couldn’t handle competing in a real martial art (i.e., not a dime-store “black belt factory” you might attend in the suburbs), these guys can. In short, for them, “pain don’t hurt,” and their superior athleticism means it doesn’t easily cause them long-term damage either. They’re ready for this, even if you’re not.

On one point we can both agree: You need to change the channel. I’m not sure you can handle the real world. The Washington Post, on the other hand, should be ashamed of themselves for permitting you to write on this topic. There must be some other writers that oppose MMA but are capable of doing research and putting together a sound argument.

Make sure to listen to Fight Fans Radio Monday through Thursday at 3pm for MMA news and analysis. Also listen in on Saturdays at 3pm before fight cards for my live Stupid Predictions™ segment.

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Don’t follow Fred Bowen on Twitter even if you can find his Twitter handle (I couldn’t). He’s not worth reading.

I’ve talked a bit about the deterioration of our language, and why that matters, over on my other blog. I’ve also discussed ad nauseum how bad “journalists” covering mixed martial arts are, and why that matters. As you will see, this problem isn’t limited to MMAJ; other sports are suffering due to the Internet age. Not all of these problems are based in ignorance or stupidity, though. Often, writers are just trying to be overly-dramatic. Writers and entertainers like to use inflammatory language in order to place greater importance on their opinions. The overuse of “underrated” by sports writers is a great example of that, and here are the consequences.

Grant Paulsen, Washington Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 FM in DC, tweeted the following (with respect to the Redskins’ win over the St. Louis Rams):

Underrated performances: Jabar Gaffney 4 cat, 62yds (was key on a few 3rd down conversions), Ryan Kerrigan 6tckls & a sack (strong vs run).

As you will see, his point was that no one was discussing the performances of Gaffney and Kerrigan. Considering that everyone is expressly acknowledging their efforts makes the sentiment incorrect on its face, but that’s not my point. I responded:

Underrated!? Cite single person that said these guys didn’t contribute. Skins blog had them as candidates for player of game.

and then

It seems not a single sports writer knows what the word, “underrated,” means. It doesn’t mean “not discussed” or “2nd place.”

Grant responded:

Good think I’m not a writer then, huh? Gaffney and Kerrigan’s performances are getting lost behind Torain & Hightower is the point.

… and I ended the conversation by responding further:

Not by anyone I’ve seen comment on the game, which means my point stands: You also misuse “underrated.” #theatrics #drama

My point, which was clearly lost on Grant, is that even if people aren’t talking about about Kerrigan or Gaffney, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being underrated. “Underrate” means “underestimate the extent, value, or importance of (someone or something).” It doesn’t mean “not discussed” or “not as good.” It means that you aren’t giving the subject enough credit when you do discuss it. If no one is discussing the subject, which was precisely Grant’s assumption, then you have no basis for accusing them of undervaluing the subject.

As I mentioned earlier, Grant’s profile page lists him as:

Redskins Beat Reporter for 106.7 THE FAN in DC. Host baseball shows on MLB Network Radio. Attend GMU in Fairfax, Va.

Thus, his sarcastic comment, “Good think[sic] I’m not a writer, huh?” makes him look even more foolish. He’s smugly relying on his expertise without logical support, as if I’m supposed to assume he’s correct simply because he’s paid to write, and this demonstrates tremendous insecurity in the face of criticism. His explanation of how he defines “underrated” further shows that, while many others are just trying to be overly dramatic, Grant actually doesn’t understand and instead thinks he correctly used the word, “overrated.” That’s pretty bad considering he’s a professional user-of-words, and I spelled out the error for him.

There’s nothing wrong with simply saying, “My bad; I made a mistake” (though he apparently doesn’t understand that he did). There’s also nothing wrong with ignoring me. He should have, because in responding he demonstrated two things much worse than being overdramatic: He showed 1) that he really doesn’t know what the common word “underrated” means, indicating a 3-year-old’s reading comprehension, and 2) he’s either as insecure as a 3-year-old or an arrogant dope. In either case, his employers should have a talk with him.

More Generally

I can’t believe these guys have jobs. Is the applicant pool so thin that there isn’t anyone available with writing ability? Typos are one thing — you might find some in here — but a systematic misunderstanding of the English language is a real problem for someone employed to speak, read, or write in English. I could be disbarred or sued by my clients if I made these types of errors. Some of these journalists should at least be watched more carefully by their superiors. I’m not suggesting that employers clear every tweet that’s sent, but if you can’t trust your employees to make correct statements, either micromanage their tweets, forbid their tweets, or replace the employee. Unfortunately, his “About Me” page indicates he has his job because of his connections rather than on the merits of his work as an adult, so I won’t hold my breath.

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This was basically what Romo was wearing.

Last night, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys had another installment in their storied rivalry in which the remarkably talented Cowboys won without being able to score a touchdown. They won on the strength of a player that should be playing soccer, and for that the Cowboys should be proud. However, an interview before the game got me thinking more deeply about the rivalry. This rivalry has seen some brutal times. For example, Deion Sanders once played with turf toe. Last night was no exception.

Tony Romo had suffered a broken rib that punctured his lung in the San Francisco game the week before. Not wanting to disappoint his fans, he wore a bullet-proof vest during the game so he could play despite his injury. This was the greatest innovation I’ve seen in football since the last time a quarterback used a bullet-proof vest. Really, why should unfitness to play prevent a player from playing? That’s an absurd suggestion in total contrast to our enlightened sense of entitlement to whatever we want that makes this country great. Instead, when a player is unable to play, he should be given every bit of technology necessary to get him on the field. After all, he’s being paid a lot of money to be out there.

And don’t say that he already has enough equipment on! Even healthy players wear shoulder pads, groin cups, etc. The unfortunate injured souls need more help to even the playing field with the rotten players with the nerve to remain healthy.

So What Do We Do?

The NFL’s willingness to change the rules every single year suggests they’d be open to some good ideas. Here are a few.

Problem: A player tears his LCL, MCL, or ACL, or breaks his leg, leaving him unable to move under his own power.
Solution: Give him alternative power. The player should be permitted to play with a scooter of some sort, probably a moped to assure he can move quickly enough.

Problem: A player suffers a shoulder or arm injury rendering him unable to make tackles.
Solution: The player should be given some form of weaponry, preferable a firearm, so that he has an alternative means to take down his opponents. This might seem dangerous, but keep in mind many of the players will be wearing bullet-proof vests due to torso-based injuries. The chances of serious injury from being shot is well within the realm of what I’d consider acceptable risk. If you disagree, keep in mind that if the tackled player gets shot in the leg, he can have a moped, too. Problem solved. Everybody’s happy.

Problem: A player suffers a concussion.
Solution: Besides the obvious need to double the time on the play clock in order to give a suffering player the chance to fully know the play being called, the player should be given an on-field escort to make sure he doesn’t get too confused. The escort can also serve to inform opposing players whether or not it would be fair to interfere with the concussed player at any given point in time.

Problem: A player suffers from all of these injuries simultaneously.
Solution: The player should be permitted to play by driving a tank. His escort could be responsible for the tank’s cannon.

Problem: A player is not talented enough to play professional football.
Solution: The opposing team should be required by rule to forfeit.

But What About the Children?

There are always alternatives

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not irresponsible when it comes to firearms. I know that kids shouldn’t have them. So, for high school and Pop Warner games, this won’t work. We’ll need to have something else in place. For games played with players over the age of 17, however, we clearly need to make this change. Heavens forbid Tony Romo not be allowed to play simply because he’s unfit to do so without being given an advantage.

Conclusion

If you disagree with me, you’re stupid.

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