Hernandez’s Suicide, ESPN’s Bloodbath and the NFL’s Race Issue

20170426_232137Not Sorry for Your Loss (Not Happy Either)

Aaron Hernandez’s suicide was shocking and I found a lot of people’s reactions disturbing.

First, why did some people feel sorry for this guy?  Sure he had his demons, but he was given so many great opportunities because of football and what did he do?  He murdered another human being.  Had it been an addiction to drugs I could understand people being empathetic.  You know who I feel empathy for?  The slain Odin Lloyd’s family.  Hernandez’s loved ones who are forever affected by his actions.  If someone knew Hernandez personally I might give them a pass on feeling sorrow for the passing of a person they once had a positive relationship with.

Second, why are people thrilled about his death?  This isn’t like when Osama Bin Laden was killed and people were happy that they finally had closure when it came to September 11th.  Because Hernandez killed himself Lloyd’s family might never get true justice.  Are you happy now?

Bristol Massacre

ESPN just gutted a big fraction of on-air and writing talent.  Big names like Ed Werder, Jay Crawford, Jason Stark and Danny Kanell among others.

There are a lot of people that are taking pleasure in ESPN’s demise.   This includes former employees, people who work for competitors and fans that feel alienated by the network’s political views.  I will admit I have my criticisms of ESPN, but why root for their failure?  Why not instead wish for a better ESPN?  You know like the one you loved back in the day.  Despite its flaws the network still has value.  The 30 for 30 documentaries are something no other rival network is able to duplicate.  And speaking of rival networks what is wrong with competition?  The WWE was a lot better when they had WCW to battle ratings with.  Without the “Mothership”, as Dan Patrick calls it, who will be the new punching bag?  Deadspin?  Please.

ESPN opened so many new doors for sports media and they took the way we view athletics to new heights.  As more people decide to cut the cable chord, other sports networks will start to feels some of the pain that they are experiencing in Bristol.

Rough Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft hasn’t even started, but it is already making headlines and not for good reasons.  Two of the top prospects eligible to be selected have had some pretty big red flags pop up at the most inopportune time.

Jabrill Peppers of Michigan “failed” a drug test because his urine sample was diluted from drinking too much water.  I guess the only reason for him to hydrate himself like that would be to pass a drug test?  Why else would an athlete of Peppers’ caliber take in that many fluids?  Goodell logic at its finest.

Peppers isn’t the only one who may have his draft status altered due to a non-football issue.  Ohio State’s Gareon Conley faces much steeper allegations after being accused of rape from an alleged incident that took place in a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.  Conley has decided to change his original plans of attending the draft and it is even being predicted that he might not only miss out on being a first-round pick, but could end up not even being drafted at all.

If Conley is guilty shame on him and he doesn’t deserve a chance to play in the NFL, but for a moment and the sake of argument let’s try that old thing we used to believe in, you know innocent until proven guilty.  The NFL has a big problem.  They always assume the worst when it comes to young black men.  They know they have this problem.  It’s why Goodell went so hard after Tom Brady for something so petty as the PSI of a football.  But the league just can’t get out of their own way.  They totally mishandled Josh Brown’s domestic violence case and yet they left Ezekiel Elliot’s open so long it was like they were almost hoping they would find something.  And going back to the draft remember in 2015 when La’el Collins was being questioned by police for the murder of his ex-girlfriend even though he wasn’t a suspect?  That cost him a chance at being a first-round pick and he did nothing to warrant that.

I believe that if Colin Kaepernick isn’t picked up a week following the draft there will be a scenario where the league gets involved.  No matter how unpopular his protests were the last thing NFL needs is an unemployed black QB, who is easily better than all of the backups in this league (and a few starters), that never broke any rules on or off the field.

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Brady, Shady and a Big Bargin in Big D

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Inflated Chances

Deflate Gate is alive and well.  The release of the Wells Report has revived this thought to have been dead story claiming Tom Brady likely had prior knowledge about the under-inflated footballs used in last year’s AFC title game.  There is now even talk of Brady being suspended.  If that were the case it could have a positive impact on NFC East teams pending the length of the suspension.

Personally I’m tired of the outcry on this issue.  Brady may or may not have known about the air pressure in some footballs, yet people are acting like the man set an orphanage on fire.  It’s ridiculous!  That being said this could potentially be big for Dallas if it is a four game suspension as they wouldn’t have to face Brady for their October match-up with the Patriots.  If it’s an eight game suspension Washington would avoid facing No. 12 as well.  As for the Giants and Eagles?  They need to hope for a Sean Payton type suspension.  They have the Pats Week 10 and Week 13 respectively.

Reduced Rookies

Last week the Cowboys made headlines by drafting talented, but troubled defensive end Randy Gregory.  They landed him at pick No. 60 which many experts dubbed easily the “biggest steal of the draft”.  Less than a week later Dallas may have made an even bigger one.

La’El Collins, arguably the best offensive lineman entering the draft, had to leave Chicago prior to the event due to the murder of his ex-girlfriend.  Collins was never believed to be a suspect, however given what transpired with Aaron Hernandez no team wanted to touch him and he went undrafted.

He was questioned by authorities and once it became clear Collins had nothing to do with the tragic incident he instantly became the most coveted rookie free agent.  His decision to take Jerry Jones’ offer means that the Cowboys basically got three first-rounders and out of the three the two most talented ones came at a huge discount.

A Chip on his Shoulder

LeSean “Shady” McCoy was the face of the franchise for the Philadelphia Eagles so it came as a shock to many when he was traded to Buffalo in March.  It’s no secret that there is no love loss between McCoy and Chip Kelly, however the comments made recently by McCoy regarding his former head coach raises a new issue.

McCoy claimed that Kelly wants “full control” which is no secret, but he also emphasized that Kelly got rid of “all the good black players”.  So does the man they call Shady have a legit argument or is it just a case of him having bitter ax to grind?

Yes Kelly did sign and draft other black players, but he also gave an extension to mediocre receiver Riley Cooper last season who a year earlier was recorded dropping an N-bomb.  Philly’s best receiver DeSean Jackson was let go the same off-season that Cooper signed his deal.

Kelly has yet to address McCoy’s comments.  Are they worth acknowledging?  Stay tuned as I’ll have more to say when it comes to Shady’s feelings towards Kelly.  Circle your calendars for December 13th when the Eagles host the Bills.

Expectations Entering Tonight’s First Round

NFL-Draft-logo-gold-03-22-15The 2015 NFL Draft kicks off in the great city of Chicago this evening.  As awesome of a venue as Radio City is in NYC, I think a lot of people are welcoming the change of scenery.

There is no mystery as to what will take place with the No. 1 overall pick when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston.  After that who knows what will transpire?  This draft isn’t exactly full of star power which isn’t always a bad thing because it usually means you can anticipate more spontaneity creating a lot of excitement.

Here are some thoughts on each team heading into the first round on what should be a memorable night in the Windy City.

Dallas Puts Peterson Trade Talk out to Pasture Opting for Younger Backs

Dallas is doing the right thing by not going after Adrian Peterson.  Unless Minnesota lowers their asking price and Peterson is willing to take a significant pay cut there is no need to pursue a 30 year-old running back when there is loads of talented backs in this draft.

Todd Gurley should be off the board by the time the Cowboys pick.  They might have a shot at Melvin Gordon, but don’t be shocked if they pass him up for Tevin Coleman who might be the most complete running back in this draft.  He’ll likely fall behind Gurley and Gordon which may give Dallas an option to address defense with their first pick.  Also don’t be surprised if the Cowboys have selected more than one running back when the draft concludes especially if they have found one that can also contribute on special teams.  If that is the case Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams, Lance Dunbar, and Darren McFadden will be put on notice.

Draft is Critical for Giants 2015 Success, Must Address O-Line

Did the New York Giants really get better in free agency?  It is questionable why they overpaid guys like Dwayne Harris and JT Thomas.  The signing of Shane Vereen should complement Rashad Jennings nicely, however outside of Danny Woodhead running backs that leave New England don’t have a good track record in their new landing spot.  The G-Men also brought back a lot of their own players and with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul no one from that group is making anybody tremble.

The Giants have the skill positions to get back in the playoffs, but they need better blocking to compete as a top-tier offense.  New York has to find a blue chip offensive lineman and a couple of guys that can at least contribute (don’t have to be great, but can play a role or fill a void) on defense.  Brandon Scherff out of Iowa would make a ton of sense and from where the G-Men pick in the first round there is a good chance he’ll be wearing Big Blue.

Don’t Rule out Marcus Mariota in Philly

The Eagles are not out of the Mariota sweepstakes just yet.  While they probably won’t try to make a deal with Tennessee to move up to No. 2 there is the chance that if Mariota falls past No. 5 then the New York Jets with the No. 6 pick could be that trading partner the Eagles are looking for to land the former Oregon Duck.

It looks like the Titans are not in love with the idea of drafting Mariota.  The team that is a real threat to Philly in terms of acquiring the young signal caller is Cleveland.  Apparently the Browns are offering their two first round picks to the Titans for their No. 2 spot.  Word has it that the Browns might start drafting a quarterback every year until they get it right.  That sorry strategy is no surprise from an organization that repeatedly shoots themselves in the foot as if it were a bodily function.  It is no guarantee Tennessee will take Cleveland’s deal especially if they have their heart set one of the top pass rushers or receivers in the draft.  The Eagles don’t have the leverage to trade up that the Browns do, but don’t sell Chip Kelly short. Should the Titans reject Cleveland’s offer and Mariota drops, Kelly does have some young talented players he could package with draft picks to trade if he is so infatuated with the kid he once recruited.  Either way we’ll find out by Thursday night’s end if Sam Bradford is here to stay in the City of Brotherly Love or if he was merely brought in as a bargaining chip.

Skins Sitting Pretty at No. 5

The Washington Redskins have to be really excited about this draft.  Why not?  They actually have a first round pick this year!

The Skins are in a good spot at with the No. 5 pick.  While new GM Scot McCloughan has made some light smoke screens as to the possibilities of the team taking Marcus Mariota I wouldn’t buy it.  McCloughan is looking for his next Russell Wilson, but he knows he doesn’t have to take him at this spot.  Heck he might not even be in this draft!

If Amari Cooper is still there at No. 5 I don’t see Washington passing him up, although if they have Kevin White or DeVante Parker ranked higher on their draft board they could go with one of those guys as well.  It looks like Washington plans to retain a 3-4 flex defense for the coming years which might have them interested in Dante Fowler creating a bookend sack tandem with Ryan Kerrigan.

These all seem like good options, but if I had to bet I believe McCloughan is going to trade this pick to accumulate more draft selections and honestly that is the best move.  The Skins have a lot of needs and if they somehow become involved with a team that wants to trade up for Marcus Mariota this could pay big dividends for them.