Aug 31, 2007

Southern Football

The way I feel right now is a direct result of numerous poor decisions made last night. Let's do it again. The link below lifted my spirits, and is carrying me through my day.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Aug 29, 2007

LeBron Rules

*I have been enthralled watching the USA Team dismantle all opposition in the Tournament of the Americas, and it made me think of what I had written during the Finals about the Boy King. Watching him play now, it looks like he listened*

The Finals are over. 11 times in NBA history, a team has gone up 3-0 in the NBA Finals, with 7 teams completing the sweep, 3 winning in five, and 1 team being taken to 6. No team down 0-3 has ever even seen Game 7 in the Finals, and in the history of the playoffs, no team has ever come back from such a deficit. That said, maybe these new rules could stop a sweep, or at least point Mr. James in the right direction in the future.

Thou shall get going early
We all celebrated his play in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, taking the team, and the city, on his back and carrying them to victory. Dropping 29 of the LeBrons’ final 30 points is amazing, to say the least, but there is a hidden lesson in these numbers. Scoring that many of any teams final points tells the careful observer that at some point in the fourth quarter, when said team had 79 points, James had only scored 19 of them. That’s less than a fourth. In a rubber-match game that would essentially decide who was going to the Finals. Unacceptable. As the Finals have undoubtedly shown us, it is never too early for LeBron to take over a game, there’s no need to wait. Though his clutch stats on are through the roof.

Thou shall enter the lane
Six feet, eight inches tall. 250 pounds. Bigger, faster, stronger than anyone who is going to try to stop him. What the hell is it with all the ill-advised 22 foot jumpers? He should be attacking the rim, over, and over again, forcing the other team to foul him, and send him to the charity stripe. I’ve never been physically ill watching a team that wasn’t directly tied to me until now. Based on his attributes alone, he should be filling the lane over and over and over again. Who’s really gonna stop him?

Thou shalt ignore the line beyond the lane
STOP. SHOOTING. THREE. POINTERS. An amazing stat from last night was that the Spurs and Cavs each shot 19 three pointers, and while the Cavs only buried 3, San Antonio knocked down 10. That’s a 21-point difference. I know, he’s more confident since his 48 point performance in Game 5 against Detroit, but that was a while ago. He’s a career 32% 3-point shooter, hitting only 15 % this series. Take a hint, LeBron. He was culpable, going 0-5 from 3-land, and honestly, he’s going to give me a heart attack.

Thou shalt not complain
You were fouled. During your three-point attempt to end Game 3, and try to force overtime, “Hollywood” Bruce Bowen fouled you intentionally. It should have been called a continuation foul, and you should have been awarded three free throws, and given that you were 6/7 so far through the night, you probably would have made them, and you should have had a shot against the Spurs in overtime. Happy? It was a bad call to end a very good game, but there was no reason to stay on the court and argue the matter. When you were fouled at the end of Game 2, you and the rest of the team held the company line of, “We’re a team that doesn’t make excuses.” That was awesome, speaking to his strength, and also that of the franchise. Where was that last night?

Thou aren’t a global icon…yet
Since the day he got into the Association, he has stated that he wanted to be more than just a basketball player, that he wanted to be a ‘global icon’. Not. Quite. Yet. To achieve that end, he will have to unseat the current basketball icon, Michael Jordan. In some aspects, he has a leg up on MJ; the Bulls only posted a .500 record in his fourth season, and reached the Conference Finals in his fifth. But maybe it is the quickness with which LBJ ascended that keeps him from threatening the throne. Maybe the time it took Jordan to grow is where he learned when to take a game into his hands, when to utilize his amazing athleticism in the lane, when to fully develop a mid-range and outside game, how to demand respect from officials. Maybe these lessons are what taught Jordan how to take over a game through sheer force of will, and allowed him to spearhead a dynasty that captured the imaginations of the world for 8 years. Can LeBron do that too? We’ll see.

Aug 22, 2007

Houston, We Have A Problem

* I wrote this before Donaghy pled guilty to all charges, the day after Stern's press conference. With this new knowledge, the fact that he has threatened my favorite league in the world is unforgivable. We award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. *

I’m a big advocate for due process, and it is important to remember that Tim Donaghy is innocent until proven guilty. But the major problem for the Association, the players, and the fans, is the nature of the allegations against him. We aren’t talking about a player being involved in a dog fighting ring, a player being arrested for owning or firing a gun, or even a player utilizing banned substances to better himself. This is the accusation that an official has abused his position to directly affect the outcome of NBA games for monetary gain. This is the same league that allowed a man in a flakjacket and thigh pads hurl himself into the lane night after night, getting suspect calls, and ending up with a championship ring and a Finals MVP. We’ve been joking for years about fixed games, but all of a sudden, Mark Cuban doesn’t look crazy. All of a sudden, you have to wonder about not only the 68 regular season games and 5 postseason games he presided over, you have to wonder about every game played this year, and any other year. Especially in basketball, in-game officials have ultimate control, maybe not of teams winning or losing, but of the overall points scored, sure. All a ref needs to do is call more fouls early in quarters, get both teams in the bonus, and viola, more foul shots! This could have happened once, never or often, but the point is, it looks like the ultimate trust the fan has in sport has been compromised.

Yesterday, El Capitan (Papa Stern) attempted to assuage the fears that I just raised, calling Donaghy essentially a lone gunman in this whole issue. A single man acting alone is a much easier pill to swallow than some mass conspiracy of manipulators. But is this ‘rouge’ ref really the pill we, the fans, should accept? Key words mentioned in the initial report, but avoided by Stern were any, even backhanded references, to the mob or the mafia. Maybe it was because of the sensitivity of the FBI investigation, or a lack of wanting to implicate Donaghy further than he already had without a fair trial (though Stern did an AMAZING job of hurling the man under the bus yesterday, just goes to show, threaten not the throne). But, the FBI have been allegedly investigating this man for over a year, and reports have stated that he has agreed to name certain ‘criminal’ actors who contributed to his compromising of the NBA. If it is only as far as the alleged mob ties that are named, fine. Putting a dent in organized crime shouldn’t affect us as sports fans, but what if the story played out where he wasn’t recruited by people he was in debt with, but instead by another official. What if there is a sub-culture among certain officials in the NBA dedicated to aiding gamblers betting the over/under on games? Is this likely? God, I hope not. This could be the latest in a string of helping people lose faith in the legitimacy of sport, but I think it is the biggest and can only hope that this acts as a wake up call for the NBA. Stern has handled drugs, fights, international expansion, Dennis Rodman…but this is truly his most trying moment, his darkest hour. And, whether they be fans or not, the world is watching. This is the time to bring back the casual fan to the NBA, this is the time to change playoff seating, to fix to the lottery. This is the moment the Association decides if it will sink or swim.

American sports fans hate to think that gambling can affect the outcomes of games. Halls of Fame throughout the land house drug addicts, racists, cheaters, and people who you would never want to meet in a dark ally. But, the 1919 White Sox are still the Chicago Black Sox, Shoeless Joe Jackson is better known as Say it Ain’t So Joe, and the only Hall of Fame that houses Pete Rose is the WWE (please don’t ask). I have to believe that this is the defining moment where the NBA reestablishes itself as a preeminent professional sporting league in the land. I have to believe that being tested in this fire will prove to strengthen my favorite league. I have to believe in this, because right now, I don’t know what to believe.

Aug 21, 2007

2007 NFL Preview

Sunday night, the New Jersey Football Giants and the Old Browns/New Ravens each lost a slew of players to injury, adding to the ever-growing list of pre-season casualties, leaving many of us wondering, what happens when a franchise player gets injured during these meaningless exhibitions. I’ll tell you what happens; the team is screwed. That said, barring any significant injury or new charges brought against a star player, here be official NFL predictions for the upcoming year.

1. Pats
2. Jets
3. Fins
4. Buffalo

If the Randy Moss trade happened in one of my Fantasy Leagues, there would have been a freaking riot. (Not so) quietly, the Pats have surrounded Brady with more quality receivers than at any other time in his career. My only question is if this officially acts as an apology from Robert Kraft for leaving him with Reche Caldwell and Troy Brown. Reluctantly, I put the Jets ahead of the Fins, only because I believe in Mangini a whole lot more than I believe in Cam Cameron. Even though I believe in Trent Green more than Pennington, neither team has a dominating running game to set them apart. All I know is Mangini led a very bad team to the playoffs last year, and Cam Cameron no longer has LDT to depend on.

The Bills have J.P. Losman playing quarterback.

1. Baltimore
2. Cincy/Pitt
3. Pitt/Cincy
4. “Browns”

I don’t care how anemic and old Baltimore looked in the playoffs against the Colts, that team can make any other look mortal (see Bears, Chicago). This was a 13 win team last year, and hopefully my grandma’s favorite player from Alcorn State still has some left in the tank. As we leave the University of Miami’s Mid-Atlantic alumni association, I find myself torn between two teams with reams of potential. The Cincin-Attica Bengals would be higher, and no where near a toss-up with Pitt, but I have to take into account all of the inevitable arrests. How has the commish not penalized the entire city of Cincy? Mike Tomlin’s team has some questions to answer, with the disgruntled nature of some players and the departure of Joey Porter, but I think they’ll manage. No one got hit by an old lady this off season, and Big Big looked pretty good throwing the pill in the preseason thus far. They should at least be battling for a playoff spot.

The “Browns” have Romeo Crennel coaching.

1. Indy
2. Oilers
3. J’Ville
4. Houston

Peyton Manning did it. He infiltrated our society with commercials and ads and exceptionally funny, self deprecating SNL moments. He tricked us all into liking him, something I was sure he could never do, and something I thought would forever haunt his statistically proficient career. Oh, and he won a Super Bowl too. Vince Young is one of the brightest young stars the NFL has seen in years, but I question the ability of the running game to compliment. Plus, when his arm falls off due to the Madden Cover Curse, I question Kerry Collins’ ability to take a hit in a beer helmet. Jacksonville shocked a lot of people last year, but I think the coaches messing with the QB situation have done way more harm than good to the team as a whole.

The Texans have made no upgrades on the offensive line.

1. San Diego
2. Denver
3. KC
4. Oakland

My LDT rant aside, I can’t deny the obvious talent the TCU alum is. Watching film from last year, coupled with his kickass new Nike commercial, I am completely in awe of the ability he displays on the field. He is one of the greatest to carry the ball in recent memory, maybe of all time. And he will be carrying my Fantasy Team to greatness. The Horses looked great, until all those injuries during that meaningless preseason game. Note to the AFC West: just don’t throw at Champ Bailey. Don’t do it. Its not worth it. Kansas City has two mediocre QBs, a weak, injury riddled receiving corps, a bad defense, and no running back. When Larry Johnson signs, and his knee promptly implodes, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

The Raiders have a teenager coaching.

1. Philly
2. Dallas
3. Giants
4. Wash

The Illadelph looks very good this year. While I’m not as sure as Donovan F. about the prowess of this years Eagles squad, I do know that I believe in Brian Westbrook, Reggie Brown and that DF McNabb was a fantasy gem until his injury a year ago. Since Dallas is insisting on starting Tony Romo, they default to second in the East. Until he proves he can catch field goal snaps, I cannot in good faith put him any higher. The New Jersey Giants are bad, really bad. They have Kerry Collins Jr. under center…and that is the nicest thing I can say about them. No wonder Strahan doesn’t want to come back, even if his wife took half.

The Redskins have a psychopath as an owner.

1. Chi-Town
2. Minnesota
3. GB
4. Det

Due to what can only be described as an instance of mass idiocy, Rex Grossman remains the starting quarterback for the returning NFC Champions. Cedric Benson will have to step his game up, as the running game is finally all his. Apparently, Devin Hester is going to be playing offense some too…he’s not even that good of a DB, why confuse him more. Minnesota had a great draft, made some key summer moves, yet will still be letting Jackson steer this Viking ship. Even two years later, boat humor still floats. Get it? Floats. Speaking of Bret Favre passes, I actually find myself rooting for him to overcome his old-man stubbornness, and to drag his team to the playoffs. It’s just been too long since an opposing team had to play in Lambeau in January.

The Lions have Matt Millen running things.

1. Nawlins
2. Tampa
3. Carolina
4. Birds

The team formally known as the Ain’ts looked great last year…until Reggie Bush tempted the football gods by teasing Brian Urlacher in the NFC Title game. Bad Reggie. That said, they actually look like a contender to repeat in the most competitive division in football. Between the continued heroics of Drew Brees and the two-headed monster backfield, they should hold up fine. I like Tampa because I like Jeff Garcia, and the way he carried a Philly team that could have imploded. Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks, he loves tough guys, and Jeff Garcia is a tough-guy QB. Carolina doesn’t look good. Not even a little bit. But, they still aren’t the dregs of this division.

The Falcons have Joey Harrington playing quarterback.

1. St. Louis
2. Zona
3. Seattle
4. San Fran

I hate the Rams. Hate ‘em. But, this off season, Bulger got paid, Stephen Jackson got better, and the receiving corps got younger. Ah, two outta three ain’t bad. A refocused offense, a retooled defense, and a weak West screams of opportunity for the Rams. And an ailing, aging Shaun Alexander screams problems for Seattle. Hassleback and his pass-catchers benefited immeasurably in the Super Bowl season from Mr. Alexander’s greatness, I just think he’s a little worn down from carrying a team with a bird mascot (see Anderson, Jamal). I think Arizona could leap ahead of them, if ‘ol 37 is indeed wearing down as it appears, since those receivers are a BEAST. Though Matt Lienart would have to get them the ball. But, Edge will be there to keep the pressure off of the noodle armed former Trojan. Hence them being 2nd.

The 49ers have an injured Frank Gore.


1. Pats
2. San Diego
3. Indy
4. Baltimore
5. Denver
6. Titans

Indy blows by Kerry Collins and his squad, while the Denver/Old Browns match-up is a lot more interesting. Two defensively minded teams who don’t meet in the regular season, I have to give the nod to the more (historically) dependable running game in Denver. Jay Cutler notwithstanding, I think Shanahan learned from last year, and is ready to take this team deep into the playoffs.

The second playoff weekend looks to be much more interesting, where the Pats welcome Denver to Razor Stadium. The Super Pats’ firepower might be too much for the powerful for even the dominant Denver defense, and I don’t think the Horses can keep pace with New England. Speaking of Horses not keeping pace, Indy has lost way too much on the defensive side of the ball to hope to contain the Super Chargers. Game over Peyton.

1. The N.O.
2. St. Louis
3. Philly
4. Chicago
5. Dallas
6. Vikes

Inter-divisional battles will define the first round of the playoffs, as the North and East see rematches. Obviously, I give the nod to whoever has the regular season edge, and as I would predict it, I see both higher seeds holding out against the Wild Card teams.

Round 2 sees a rematch of last years NFC title game, but things change this time: Rex Grossman serves to sink the ship that the defense has been carrying. If he’s under center, and the Bears make it this far, then the wheels get to come off a little earlier than last year. The other game sees the Eagles coming into the dome of the Rams, and leaving with a big, fat L. The history of Philly sports futility continues. This is a city that celebrated the Phillies losing the most games ever this season. And the story continues.

Super Bowl
New England Patriots over New Orleans Saints.

It hurts me to say it. Tom Brady gets another ring. Look at the roster, its almost not fair. These guys are like a Madden 08 team where the owner made a bunch of one-sided trades to build a super team. Except it’s a real team. Barring Laurence Maroney stabbing himself in his heart with that ridiculous Kool-Aid necklace, nothing can stop Robert Kraft from adding to his collection of Lombardi Trophies.

Aug 20, 2007

Truth or Dare

*This was written right after the Super Bowl, on February 7, 2007. I'm posting this not out of laziness, but because my official 2007 NFL preview is coming tomorrow. I wholeheartedly stand by everything I said. Unless I was wrong.*

With the Soul Bowl behind us, and the NBA not even at the All-Star break, this marks the beginning of Dark Period in sports. This mark times when sports are still present, just not as much fun or interesting as they’ve been recently. Look at your upcoming sports schedule after rivalry week, highlighted by Duke v. UNC. You can look forward to the Pro Bowl, where no one has cared since…well ever. You can look forward to All-Star weekend, where the dunk contest was won by a member of the lollipop guild, who was given over 20 attempts at the winning dunk. Meanwhile, my boy AI the 2nd nailed two dunks that had never been seen before ANYWHERE. I’m openly still bitter. Then, you get to watch elite teams coast the final 30 or so games, while a bunch of mediocre teams lobby for playoff position. But there’s always the NHL…just kidding.

Looking back at the Soul Bowl, I was wrong. I nailed the pick, I always do that, but I was wrong in thinking that Lovie Smith would stay with the girl who took him to the dance, the running game. But, as Grossman’s second interception floated to the ground like the first leaf off a tree in the fall, I realized who the MVP should be. Obviously, Peyton was going to win it, since we had all endured 2 weeks about how his family has never won anything, except for any drinking competition Cooper was entered in. But, based upon the effect that a player had on the game, the MVP should have gone to any one of these players: Joseph Addai/Dominck Rhodes, who played keep away with the football, running and catching effectively enough to keep moving the chains, Bob Sanders, whose very presence energized a defense with something to prove, or Rex Grossman, for a litany of reasons. The stat that mattered most in this game was the score, but the second most important stat was time of possession: IND: 38:04 CHI: Too little for their offense to make a difference. It felt like Indy stole Chicago’s game plan of keep the ball as long as possible, and it was the running backs and defense who did that. All Peyton really did was back away slowly from Addai’s fumble, too afraid to be hurt in the scrum.

Since the year’s biggest event is behind us, I’ve been hearing a lot of so-called truths about next year’s NFL. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to poke some holes in some of the more popular ones.

Oakland has a chance to be .500 next year
This is one that is just oh-so-sad. These poor fans get their hopes up every year, and every year they end up making claims like this. People who are fond of this love to claim they had the league’s best pass defense this past year. What they neglect to mention is that teams don’t usually pass when ahead. Which is where Oakland’s opponents generally were in every game last year. Plus, the ‘coach’ is approximately 14 years old, and will command no respect with a notoriously lawless franchise.

New Orleans will match this years success
Now, I am human, and I have a working, beating, heart, so of course I was touched by the story that was the Saints this year. But, I am also in possession of a working brain, and that brain tells me that the Saints play in the most competitive division in the NFL. Disagree? Since realignment, exactly one division has had each of its four teams reach a conference championship game. Any guesses on which one? Plus, you’ve got a hungry (healthy?) Panthers squad, a Buccaneers team which could reload that defense this draft, and a Falcons squad with Michael Vick close to the edge. He’s trying not to lose his head.

Rex Grossman will be the starting quarterback in Chicago next year
Hahahahahahaha, did you see the Super Bowl? Seriously, I don’t think Billy King or Isaiah Thomas is running the Bears yet, so he will be replaced. This claim must have come from a drunken Bears fan, which should be any Bears fan, as he has most certainly driven them to drink. More.

LaDainian Tomlinson should be called LT
There is one LT. He did blow before games, gave opposing players nightmares, and broke people’s legs. Does Mr. Tomlinson do any of these things? No? Then he’s LDT. End of story.

Kent Dorfman


This is where I have placed my flag on the interweb, where I'll share my opinion on, well stuff. Mostly sports related, but I'm sure I'll deviate greatly over time. Whenever I feel lazy, I'll post an old sports article, but only the entertaining ones.

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Gone Camping

For the first time in ten-odd years, my end of summer will not be punctuated by the coming of football training camp. For the first time, my August will not be defined by two-a-days, the odor of mildewed socks, and post-practice dips in the ice bath. For the first time, I won’t be surrounded by my friends, my teammates, my brothers, as we work towards the goals we set forth for ourselves.

On the one hand, I’m not under the punishing August sun, which beats down the same from New York City to College Station, Texas to Cocoa Beach, Florida. I’m not driving a sled across a field, or taking on rushing defensive tackles in one-on-one drills, or running sprints after practice. I’ll never ride a bus to Florida again, never spend all my time away from the field in a meeting room, or start fast and finish faster. I’ll never again wake up scared. On the one hand, I don’t have to do these things ever again.

On the other hand, I never get to.

We all miss playing (winning) games, clean out blocks, great throws and catches, amazing picks, and knock out hits. That’s universal; everyone mentions this stuff in what they miss from the game. But, I think it is more than just the good times former players miss. Gone is the grind of the weight room, the tedium of the meeting room, but a part of everyone who has ever put on pads, or laced up cleats, or picked up a ball misses the part of the game that goes unseen. In some sort of masochistic way, we all enjoyed the grind, the hardness, the sacrifice. It is one of those unique things in life that you detest as you are in the midst of it, but the second it’s gone, you feel like almost a part of yourself is missing. Today, I’ve traded my life as a student athlete for something else; something that, to be honest, doesn’t even feel like me. My cleats for dress shoes, my playbook for a laptop, I’m reminded of this shift every time I walk into my new apartment, as my helmet stares back at me. Some people call this growing up, entering the next phase of my life. I don’t yet know what to call it, all I have known is what came before. And I miss it.