Archive for August, 2010

WATERCOOLER CHAT: POLAMALU’S HAIR WORTH 1 MILLION, USA TOUGH MATCH AGST BRAZIL, BOB BRADLEY DRAMA

FOOTBALL

In some funny news out of the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers superstar safety Troy Polamalu had his hair insured for, yep, $1 Million Dollars.  Polamalu is that guy you see in various commercials with a very long flowing mane of hair.  Fittingly, he is the spokesman for the shampoo brand Head & Shoulders, and they want to make sure that nothing bad happens to that hair.  It is insured by Lloyd’s of London, and they wouldn’t release what would constitute having to pay that fee.  Would someone have to shave his head in a prank?  That sounds like a bad move anyway.  Probably shouldn’t mess with the hair of one of the fiercest defensive players in the league.

BASKETBALL

The USA had a very tough match-up against, of all teams, Brazil.  Brazil has put together a nice international team over the past few years.  Their center, Tiago Splitter, will actually play for the San Antonio Spurs this year.  They’ve left him in Brazil, but he’s really come along, and is expected to be pretty good in the NBA.  Team USA struggled in the first half, and Brazil even had a 3-point lead heading into the half.  The game stayed close all the way to the very end where Brazil had a chance to tie with just 10 seconds left.  But, they simply couldn’t get a shot to fall and the US held on for the win.  Kevin Durant led all scorers with 27 points.  USA 70, Brazil 68.

SOCCER

Finally, in the soccer world, there was a lot of drama circling Team USA head coach Bob Bradley after the World Cup.  He started off hot, but, in the end, the US didn’t exactly play so well when it counted against Ghana.  Plus, US has ambitions to get to the next level in world soccer competition.  They want to be a top team.  So many were curious if US Soccer was going to commit to Bob Bradley going forward.  There was a rumor that the US was going to bring in a top foreign coach to really whip them into amazing shape, but in the end, Team US decided to renew Bob Bradley for four more years. Hopefully, he’s able to get Team USA to the next stratosphere.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL VETERANS LOSE JOBS

It was a slow weekend in the sports world — and a few long-time NFL veterans lost their job.

FOOTBALL

First, in Cincinnati, the Bengals decided to release wide-receiver Antonio Bryant.  Bryant was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during this off-season, and was expected to become their #2 receiver after Chad Ochocinco.  After all, Bryant played very well in the past few seasons in Tampa Bay.  At one point, he was a fantasy football hero.  But, things weren’t working out, and Bryant put up a very poor performance for the Bengals.  Remember that certain players don’t fit in certain systems, and clearly Bryant wasn’t functioning properly in the Bengals offense.  Now, he’s without a gig.  You have to imagine that some team will have a need for him.

And, over in New York, the Jets have decided to part ways with their long-time receiver Laveranues Coles.  At one point, Coles was the poster boy for the future of the Jets offense.  He briefly left for Washington, but things didn’t work out there, so he went back to play for the Jets.  Well, the Jets had a decision.  They could keep him, and have to pay the full base salary of $855,000, OR release him and keep him on board for a game-to-game basis.  This would pay him nearly $50,000 a week, but it looks like Coles isn’t interested in that and is leaning toward retirement.  Coles said he doesn’t want to become an NFL journeyman.  He doesn’t need the money, and he wants to go out on a high-note.  Congratulations to Coles on a great career.

BASEBALL

Finally, in baseball, it looks like Manny Ramirez’ stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers is over.  Manny still has a few strong years left, especially as a DH (meaning he doesn’t have to play in the field), and now teams are trying to capitalize on that power.  The winner:  The Chicago White Sox.  The White Sox are still in the playoff hunt and are hoping that adding Ramirez will give them that extra push they need to nab that 4th playoff spot.  As we’ve seen in years past, you can definitely make it all the way to the World Series if you can just get in the playoffs.  For the Dodgers, this officially marks the beginning of a new era — the post Ramirez era.  Given their up-and-coming roster, this could be a very good thing.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL PRE-SEASON ACTION

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it may be the pre-season, but fans are CRAVING their football.  Baseball is becoming more and more lackluster, and people want their football action.  That’s why an exhibition game between the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers was filled to the brim.  Full crowd on hands, and they would get to see a match-up of two fantastic quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.  Well, even though it was pre-season, Manning and Rodgers put on a show.  Rodgers tossed three touchdowns during his time on the field, one of which to potential new superstar tight-end Jermichael Finley.  On the other side, Manning threw two touchdowns of his own.  This match-up is one of the popular early season Super Bowl picks.   Green Bay 59, Indianapolis 24.

Elsewhere in pre-season action, it was the New England Patriots vs. the St. Louis Rams.  The Patriots are hoping that Tom Brady can return to old form this season, and get the Pats back to the front of the pack.  Well, he wasn’t too shabby last night, throwing for 273 yards and three touchdowns.  On the other side of the field, the Rams were hoping that they would see the quality of the #1 overall pick of the draft:  Sam Bradford from Oklahoma.  And they weren’t disappointed either.  Bradford threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns and NO INTERCEPTIONS.  Bradford is a very smart quarterback, the only fear with him is injuries, as he got banged up a lot in college.  Can Bradford get the Rams back into the playoff hunt?  St. Louis 36, New England 35.

Finally, in some more NFL news, the Arizona Cardinals may be heading downhill after two fantastic seasons in a row.  Kurt Warner created an explosive offense in ‘Zona, but with his retirement came the ascension of Matt Leinart.  Leinart was the golden boy at USC, and many thought he would be a #1 overall pick.  However, Leinart fell to the 11th pick, and nobody could understand why.  Well, after just two pre-season games, Matt Leinart has been benched in favor of back-up QB Derek Anderson (who comes from the Cleveland Browns).  Leinart is looking more and more like a bust.  People thought he was great by winning a Heisman at USC, but his offensive line at USC was a essentially a pro juggernaut.  Defenses couldn’t touch him, and he had all the time in the world to throw the ball.  In the NFL, it’s different.  Defenses will get you and make you look bad if you don’t have what it takes.  So the Cards might be heading downhill this season.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NFL CHANGES, REVIS HOLDOUT, DURANT IS TEAM USA LEADER,

FOOTBALL

The NFL is probably the most evolving league out of the major sports.  Baseball almost never changes the rules, basketball makes tweaks, but the NFL is always trying to perfect the game… and their business.  Now they’re at it again.  The NFL wants to extend the season from 16 games to 18 games.  The change would eliminate two of the pre-season games and tack them on to the end of the season. Now, this is quite controversial because the NFL has become quite a violent sport in the past decade.  There are more concussions now than ever.  Adding two more weeks only puts players in more danger.  So with this type of change, they would most likely also increase roster sizes.  But, the bottom line is, football is the most popular sport in the country, and the fans simply want more of it.

In an update on the Darrelle Revis holdout from the New York Jets, it appears that Revis is holding his ground.  Revis was amazing last season, and if the Jets want to have a chance at making it to the Super Bowl, they will need Revis in the green uniform come opening day.  This gives Revis all the bargaining leverage in the world.  He wants a lot of money, and they need him — a position almost every employee in the world wishes they were in — the idea of being irreplaceable.  And on top of all of this, the FANS want Revis badly — he’s their meal ticket, a major reason why they come to games and buy merchandise.  Expect Revis to get a big pay day in the next two weeks.

BASKETBALL

In basketball, Team USA looked pretty sharp in their final exhibition game against Greece.  The very clear leader on this team is Kevin Durant.  In the NBA, many consider him to be the fourth best player behind Kobe, LeBron, and Wade.  However, many expect him to win the MVP trophy this season.  Either way, he’s definitely playing great for the country.  Durant had 15 points and 7 rebounds against Greece, along with some incredible dunks and alley-oops.  Ben Gordon led all USA scorers with 18 points in the victory.  Now it’s off to Turkey to try to take home another championship for the United States.  First real competitor:  Croatia.  USA 87, Greece 59.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: DAMON TO RED SOX, BRADY & THE JETS, WOODS DIVORCE FINAL

BASEBALL

It looks like an old friend is headed back to his old team.  That’s right, after a stint with several teams, including the hated rival New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox has claimed Johnny Damon off of waivers.  Damon went to Detroit this season after leaving the Yankees (where he won his second World Series), but things weren’t working out too well in Detroit and now Boston wants him back.  After all, he is a fan favorite.  Then again, it’s not official yet, and Damon could shrug off the offer in the next 48 hours.  The Red Sox are in 3rd place right now, but they believe getting Damon back would be a strong move for a late playoff push.

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, a brewing feud between Tom Brady and the New York Jets.  The NY Jets have been featured on this season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”.  Apparently, people are really enjoying it — especially because of the arrogance of head coach Rex Ryan.  Well, when asked on a radio talk show what he thought of the HBO series, Tom Brady said, Honestly, I haven’t turned it on.  I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show. I’m sure it’s great TV. I’m glad people are liking it. But that’s just something that I have no interest in watching. I’d love to say a lot of mean things, but I’d rather not do that, either”.  Clearly, there is some serious bad blood between Brady and the Jets, and it looks as if Jets head coach Rex Ryan LOVES it.  He welcomes the hatred, and is using it to fuel his team.  Plus, the Jets think they have a serious shot of winning the AFC East this year, and finally dethroning the Patriots (the champ almost every year over the past decade).  We’ll see how this pans out in the regular season.

GOLF

Finally, in the end of a big chapter in the sports world, Tiger Woods… is divorced.  Yesterday, Woods and Elin Nordegren made their divorce public.  Now it’s all about Tiger Woods brand.  Having a public divorce doesn’t exactly fit in with the squeaky clean image that brands want.  However, many think that Tiger’s endorsement deals are squarely based on winning major tournaments.   You simply can’t refute his talent and dominance and that has huge value to many brands (ie. Tiger is the Best, and so is BRAND X for being associated with Tiger).  With that said, Woods has been heavily slumping lately, and if there is any good to come from an on-camera divorce finalization, it’s that Woods can now completely focus on his golf game.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: TEAM USA, BRETT FAVRE BACK, DC DRAMA

BASKETBALL

In basketball, Team USA was in exhibition action for the World Championships.  Yesterday’s competitor:  None other than Spain, USA’s international rival and close to the same team that gave Team USA headaches in the Olympics.  Spain is of course home to Ricky Rubio, the #5 pick in the 2009 draft to Minnesota.  Rubio is still playing in Spain, and it’s always cool when we get to take a look at him.  Well, Spain looked fantastic, giving our all-star team a handful.  But, thanks to Kevin Durant’s double-double, Team USA was able to hold on for the big win.  Here’s hoping they will be at least a little better when its time for the World Championships in Turkey.  Team USA 86, Spain 85.

FOOTBALL

Elsewhere, in the NFL, Brett Favre was back in action.  But before the game, Favre addressed his entire team telling them that he is FULLY committed to the Minnesota Vikings this year, even though he missed training camp.  As many know, players are always skeptical of the guy who doesn’t want to run laps.  But Favre has stressed his commitment and enthusiasm to his 20th NFL season.  In his first game back, however, Favre was immediately sacked and his Vikings had a poor showing against the 49ers.  Will Minnesota have another fantastic season?  We’ll see.  They might be on the decline.  San Francisco 15, Minnesota 10.

Finally, in the NFL, more drama out of Washington D.C.  And that drama concerns none other than Albert Haynesworth.  Haynesworth has been Public Enemy #1 in DC since Redskins owner Daniel Snyder signed him for $100 Million in 2009.  Once you give someone that kind of money, you would think you would get maximum effort from them.  And the Redskins have received the polar oppositte.  During this year’s training camp, Haynesworth has been out with “injuries”.  Many players and coaches think he just doesn’t want to report to camp, but Haynesworth says he’s injured.  Well, new Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan took a shot at Haynesworth yesterday saying, “One thing for sure that is clear to me is that Albert has gotten away in the past with playing without practicing.  That will not happen under this regime. If he’s going to play, he’s going to practice, and that is the same with every player here. The days of him playing without practicing are over. And that, to me, says it all.”  Clearly, Shanahan means business in Washington.  Can he get his star defensive player to come around?

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: PERFORMANCE DRUGS IN THE NEWS, WALKER AND BRADY BACK IN FORM

Performance-enhancing drugs were all the rage yesterday.

FOOTBALL

First off, in the NFL, Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is currently under suspension for taking performance enhancing drugs.  It’s a four game penalty, and this could be detrimental to the Texans season, as Cushing is practically the heart of their defense (in addition to Mario Williams).  Well, yesterday, his case went under review, but unfortunately for Texans fans, Cushing’s four game suspension was upheld.  He won’t be able to play until October.  Houston is hoping to make its first ever playoff appearance this season, and losing Cushing for four games could get them off to a very bad start.

BASEBALL

In baseball, former superstar and future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens could be in some serious trouble.  In 2008, Roger Clemens testified before Congress that he had never taken a performance-enhancing drug (i.e. steroids, HGH). However, with recent allegations that Clemens did, um, just that, he could be facing not a suspension from baseball, but jail time.  That’s right, you’re not supposed to lie under oath — namely to Congress.  Congress is claiming that Clemens made 15 statements in front of them that were false.  This puts yet another chapter in the steroid era of baseball.  And to think, once upon a time, people thought Clemens would become the best pitcher of all-time.

FOOTBALL

Finally, in the NFL, it looks like Tom Brady and the New England Patriots might be back in top form.  In a pre-season game against Atlanta yesterday, they had their X Factor back — none other than Wes Welker.  Welker went down with a major injury prior to the playoffs last season, and it was uncertain whether he would resume to his lightning speed status.  Well, he looked terrific out there.  Sure, he only caught two passes, but you could tell that he and Brady have their same chemistry again.  The Pats are definitely poised for a bounce-back season, and having Welker charging on all cylinders will be a clutch component.  New England 28, Atlanta 10.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: BYU WANTS INDEPENDENCE, TEBOW HURT, PISTONS SIGN MCGRADY

FOOTBALL

In college football, it’s growing ever more certain that BYU will become an independent. For those that don’t know what that means, an independent is ‘independent’ of any conference.  The idea is so they’re not restricted to playing certain teams and risk the possibility of not making a BCS appearance because of a weak schedule.  Currently, there are 3 independents:  Notre Dame, Army, and Navy.  If BYU stays in the Mountain West conference, they might get their own TV network:  BYUTV, which would cater to the large Mormon population living outside of Utah (and there are 4 million of them).  But since Utah left for the Pac-10, and the Big 12 didn’t offer BYU an invitation to replace Colorado (Pac-10) or Nebraska (Big 10), it appears that BYU thinks they won’t have a shot at a National Championship by remaining in a now VERY weak Mountain West Conference.  We’ll see how this develops.

In the NFL, it looks like Tim Tebow is starting to see what being an NFL quarterback is all-about.  Tebow rushed for a 7-yard touchdown in his pre-season debut against Cincinnati, but appears to have suffered a rib injury.  Tebow’s injury only adds to all the Broncos training camp woes.  They are losing people left and right and it doesn’t look to be getting any better.  Getting through training camp is extremely difficult for these players.  It’s grueling, you don’t get much sleep, and you have to learn plays on top of everything else.  Don’t expect to see Tebow in the starting role come opening day.  It will most likely be Kyle Orton, and potentially Brady Quinn.

BASKETBALL

Finally, in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons decided to take a gamble and sign former superstar Tracy McGrady to a 1-year contract.  The Pistons aren’t exactly in a playoff position and adding McGrady is a questionable call.  Most people thought McGrady could be a good bench guy on a major contender.  Maybe Boston or Miami, but Detroit?  He’s not exactly a “veteran leader” character that will help young guys play better and his own play has dramatically deteriorated over the years.  Most likely, McGrady gets injured in the first 15 games and is out for the year.  Potentially a very bad call here.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: COMPETITIVE BALANCE OF NBA, FAVRE IS BACK

BASKETBALL

In the NBA, there has been a lot of controversy over Carmelo Anthony’s recent remarks that he may not re-sign with the Nuggets and head to New York.  If he leaves, it would solidify the idea that there is a trend brewing in the NBA where the top players want to play in only the big cities.  The NBA has about 6 major markets (LA, Chicago, New York, Miami, Boston, Dallas).  If all the best players decide to go there, it would really mess up the competitive balance of the NBA.  Small market teams wouldn’t be able to either keep or attract talent, and it could make for a very boring regular season if over 15 teams are easy teams.  There are musings of a few small market teams merging to make them more competitive, because if they don’t, teams like Indiana, Charlotte, New Orleans, Toronto, and Minnesota are going to go bankrupt.  They simply can’t field strong attendance numbers without a good product for the fans.

FOOTBALL

And in the NFL, guess what?  Yep, you’re not going to believe this, but Brett Favre… is back… AGAIN!  Maybe we should repeat that.  He’s back… AGAIN!  For three straight seasons, Brett Favre has said he’s done, retired, then come back just a few days later.  Apparently, Favre is reporting to Vikings camp, and will announce this in a press conference today.  This has gotten to the point of absurdity.  Why is it so difficult to make a decision?  Either way, with Favre back, the Vikings will feel like they could win a Super Bowl again.  However, we must keep in mind that Favre is over 40 years old.  There’s only so many glory seasons you can have at that age.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: WESTBROOK TO 49ERS, CARMELO ANTHONY WANTS OUT

FOOTBALL

In the NFL, it looks like one of the best running backs of this decade has a found a new home.  Brian Westbrook, former Philadelphia Eagele stand out running-back and all-purpose offensive player, has signed with the San Francisco 49ers.  Westbrook is definitely at the tail end of his career, with probably one decent year left in the tank.  He said he wanted to play for a winning team this year, and that that was more important than money.  The Rams, Cowboys, and Redskins all showed interest in Westbrook, but in the end the Niners wanted him and the Niners got him.  San Francisco is an enigma this year — nobody knows if they will be horrible or a formidable playoff team.  Either way, adding an experienced veteran in Westbrook can’t hurt.  He was fantastic for the Eagles.

Elsewhere in the NFL, it was a showdown of the two Big Apple Teams — The New York Giants vs. The New York Jets in their brand new stadium — a 1.7 Billion dollar complex.  Fans showed up in droves to show their loyalty.  Giants fan got the win and bragging rights, but unfortunately Eli Manning was drilled hard and needed stitches.  Manning’s injury calls attention to the negatives of the pre-season, as vital players can get injured and be out for an entire season.  NY Giants 31, NY Jets 16.

BASKETBALL

And in the NBA, it looks like Carmelo Anthony’s time in Denver may be coming to an end.  Anthony was expected to be a major piece of the free agent market in next year’s off season, but apparently, Carmelo wants out now.  He doesn’t want to sign a 3-year extension and many signs indicate he is leaning toward playing for the New York Knicks.  After all — ‘Melo is a New Yorker.  If he did go to the Knicks, that would give them two marquee players in Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo, and there are many rumors floating around that Chris Paul may join them to form ANOTHER Big 3 team.  Plus, this would stack the Eastern Conference even more.  Just a few seasons ago, everybody felt the West was loaded and the East was terrible.  This is quickly shifting.

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