Category: Sports Written by Zack Burgess
Some say America’s religion on Sunday is football. And that's probably never more true than on the Sunday known as Super Bowl Sunday. And this one should be even more compelling.
In case you haven’t heard: there are two brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh, who are the head coaches in this game; brothers who grew up right up the road in Ann Arbor and watched their father coach as an assistant at Michigan for the legendary Head Coach Bo Schembechler. It goes without saying, coaching is in their blood.
Now on to the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game, Ray Lewis, who after 17 years in the game, has been accused of using a banned substance *soemthing to do with deer antle spray. This is just ridiculous. Needless to say, this will be his last game … he’s retiring.
Now that we have that out the way, the San Francisco 49ers will meet the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Super Bowl 47, which should be a fascinating matchup on both sides of the ball. While we could talk about every player and matchup on the field in great detail, here are five of the matchups that are keys to the game.
Handle emotions – The final game of one of the NFL’s best linebackers of all time, a brother vs. brother matchup of head coaches, a quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, making just his 10th career start on the game’s biggest stage, and a quarterback, Joe Flacco, with a lot of doubters and who has a lot to prove.
Win at the line of scrimmage – Whoever controls the line of scrimmage usually wins the game. Throughout the playoffs both offensive lines have looked strong, so if either defensive line can find a way to be disruptive, it could be the deciding factor.
Reading the read-option – Despite Kaepernick's speed, the 49ers do not run many designed runs. They utilize a zone-read option, but the running back gets the ball more often than not. This could be a problem for Baltimore’s aging defense.
The kicking game – If the game is close…it will come down to this guy. Talk about pressure.
Halftime adjustments – This is key, because Super Bowl halftimes are generally longer than usual, so the team that takes the most advantage of it, will probably win this game, especially if it’s close at the half.
Anyway it goes…go get your popcorn, because this one should be fun. With that being said, sometimes destiny is just that, destiny. And Lewis has been good for the NFL, good for people and good for children, so I’m going to go with the old guy. The Baltimore Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers in a, 27-24, thriller. -zack burgess
Last Updated on Friday, 01 February 2013 12:33
Category: Sports Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
Tiger Woods Over the River and Into the Pines
Tiger Woods is finally out of the forest of that nearly all consuming sex scandal which overshadowed his masterful play and he is again on top, i.e., a winner.
Neither his faulty driver or the occasional raised brow could keep him from his destiny, and Woods again rose to the occasion by winning the Farmers Insurance Open for the seventh time.
The win is a great sign that Woods is on his way to returning to his former glory and his rightful place in PGA history.
"I'm excited about this year," said Woods, "I was excited about what I did last year, winning three times. And I felt really good about what we're working on. Does it feel good? Yes. Does it give me confidence? Absolutely. This was a nice way to start the year."
Woods' caddie, Joe LaCava, said he sees an improved version of his golfer this year, noting that the endless hours of working on his new swing and short game have paid off.
"I think what's great is I'm seeing him play more naturally and with more feel," LaCava said. "I know he has a lot of confidence. He is so confident that he can take the driver, when he really needs to, and aim it at trouble and cut it away from the trouble right into the center of the fairway.
"That's why I know he has it," beamed Lacava
Apparently Woods agrees with the veteran caddy, who was with him through every whole of the Arnold Palmer Open.
"I drove the ball beautifully all week. And my short game was back to where I know it can be," said Woods, who likely will next play in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in four weeks. "It was nice to be able to not hit so many golf balls and work on my short game. I think that's where you're seeing the rounds evolve. I'm saving a shot here, saving a shot there, and that's leading to a birdie here and a birdie there. Next thing you know, it's a three-, four-shot swing."
So when asked if he was back, Woods replied, "I never left."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 22:05
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
Hey, welcome to a new reality media world of Media Vampires vs. Cheaters. It is not the worst reality show yet conceived, but it is in the top tier.
In a much hyped and anticipated interview with legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong, he finally admitted to using banned drugs during his cycling career, and the media vampires readily seemed to revel in yet another’s missteps.
Newspapers had running blogs on Armstrong's revelations. Talk radio guzzled up the long-awaited revelation. Television sports and news shows devoted precious chunks of time to dissecting an interview that was still airing opposite their own programming.
To Oprah’s credit she had a lot riding on that interview: increased viewership for her OWN network increased advertising revenue for the network's shows, and perhaps the greatest public spotlight she has had since her talk show ended in 2011. OWN has been through many struggles since it launched, but Thursday's interview provided Oprah with a crucial chance for a wider audience to tune in.
Oprah using her Grandmotherly persuasion, and, her wily communications guile set the tone throughout not angrily or very heated, but she did manage to be gently prosecutorial overall.
"Oprah is doing a remarkable job," ESPN's Don Van Natta, Jr. wrote. "Simple, direct questions. She has done her homework. And she's getting out of the way."
There were exceptions to the praise. Newsday critic Verne Gay, for one, thought Oprah was not being nearly hard enough on Armstrong. The New York Times' Sarah Lyall also wrote halfway through the interview that "her questions have been less sharp than they might be."
I say what the heck is the big deal? I know there are many that will knock me down because of this, but the utopian attitude and expectation toward athletes is ridiculous. Movie and musicians that we all admire are the worst drug, marriage and insane behavior people of all times.
But no one is calling for them to never make a movie again or boycott their music or picture premiere.
To me all Armstrong did was peddle a bike – albeit very good. Still it is not the biggest achievement in world history. Now if he had invented a cure for cancer, invented toilet paper or built an inter-galactic spaceship, that would be impressive. But just ride a bike over some very tall mountains? Come on man!! I ride a bike, billions of people ride bikes. Big deal. It is just entertainment!!!!
Others are saying that “Armstrong is a total Disgrace. Just another cheat and a liar and he really should lose everything.” Some people are hoping hope he gets hit hard from all angles and loses everything.
I say there is not much we can "hold him accountable for." It's clear now that EVERYONE was doping. Anyone who won just about any race between the mid 90's until 2005 when Lance first retired was likely doping. The USADA has made the case that you can't have won a race during that period, or the Olympics unless you were doping. He can be held accountable for lying under oath which he seems to have admitted. He'll pay back a little money but I sure he will still be rich and he'll have still raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer patients and research!
Armstrong won the world famous Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005, but in 2012 he was disqualified from all his results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from professional cycling for life.
Armstrong did not appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He repeatedly denied doping, until he admitted in Oprah’s television interview.
In October 1996, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy. In February 1997, he was declared cancer-free and the same year he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer support. By January 1998, Armstrong had renewed serious cycling training, having signed a new racing contract with US Postal. He was a member of the US Postal/Discovery team between 1998 and 2005.
Armstrong has raised million for cancer research, but the vampire reality media digs the story too much to let real world things come into the focus.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 09:53
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
While the college basketball season is in full bloom and March Madness is on most minds, the University of Detroit Mercy is doing its part as it is firmly in the Horizon League title chase.
Led by the father and son team of Ray McCallum Sr. and Jr., the Titans of Detroit are keeping themselves in the college basketball conversation.
Clearly one of the better basketball stories in the country, McCallum Sr. and Jr. are keeping Detroit Mercy basketball a source of pride for the Motor City.
Ray Jr. decision to leave scholarship opportunities with a number of national college basketball powers to go to be a student/athlete for Dad, proves that blood is thicker that perceived national basketball power rankings and/or college pedigree.
UDM recently contested Valparaiso on ESPNU in a rematch of the 2012 Horizon League Championship. It lost a one point contest at home, but there is still reason to believe that the Titans are still in the game.
Led by Ray Jr. the Titans had produced a home winning streak of 17-straight games that Valparaiso broke. Ironically Detroit's last loss at home came on Jan. 6, 2012 against Valparaiso, 73-71. Still UDM had implemented a five game win streak and seemed to be jelling as a team.
Junior guard Ray Jr. has produced a stellar start to the 2012-13 season and as he goes so will the Titans.
Although UDM boasts one of the most balanced attacks in the nation with all five starters averaging double figures. But it is Ray Jr. who currently leads the Horizon League in two categories this season scoring (19.1 ppg) and steals (1.7 spg.) and is third in assists with 4.5 apg. He also ranks 29th in the nation in scoring.
For his efforts Ray Jr. has been named a finalist for the 2013 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. This marks the second straight year that McCallum has been named to the final 20 of the Bob Cousy Award.
He is also climbing up the UDM career record board. McCallum has 1,325 points (20th), 381 assist (9th) and 140 steals (10th) in his career. The last Titan to rank among the top-10 in all three of those categories was Rashad Phillips '01. Ray Jr. needs 277 points to reach that plateau.
With Ray Jr. leading the way, Detroit, had posted a 9-2 record over its last 11 games, before its loss to Valparaiso.
After Detroit finished its 2011-12 season at 22-14 all knew that Ray Jr. would be the key to everything this season, and, he has taken on that challenge.
Although UDM lost three key players, from last year’s team that won the Horizon League conference tournament title, and, with that title can an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament against No. 2 seed Kansas.. The Horizon League Tournament title was the first for the Detroit since 1999.
"This was big for us, you know, going through the season with all the things that we had to go through," Ray Sr. said about last year’s team. "We had to fight through adversity, guys getting hurt and then, you know, we figured out how to play together as a team.”
Said Ray Jr.: “After coming alive last season and winning the title, my decision to stay in Detroit and play for my Dad was what was right for me. It was a great feeling for both of us, and, we hope we can bring the fans another season like that.”
As for Ray Jr’s continued growth as a point guard, he noted that he is a student of the game.
After winning the 2012 Horizon League Tournament MVP, this past summer Ray Jr. attended Chris Paul's invite-only CP3 Elite Guard Camp in Paul's hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. It marked the second year in a row that he has been invited to a summer performance camp as he competed in the Deron Williams and LeBron James Skills Academy last year, parlaying the experiences into a spot on Team USA at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China.
“Playing for USA Basketball was a great experience,” Ray Jr. said. “Playing with some of the best coaches and players in the country surely helped me step my game up even further.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:07
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
(Photo credit: LOUIS DELMAS waves goodbye to fans and Lions 2012 season. – Andre Smith photo)
As the very interesting NFL Playoffs continue, the road to New Orleans will get clearer and clearer. As I watched city after city compete at the highest professional level, I could not help but reflect on the Detroit Lions
What was painfully clear in the 2012 campaign was the Lions produced an inadequate and poor effort, losing eighth straight games in the season ending, 26-24, loss to the Chicago Bears at Ford Field.
The Lions finished the season an inferior 4-12, tied for the worst record in the NFC and they didn’t even win an NFC North game and got outscored, 95-54, in their final three games.
After a much hyped offseason, which was fueled for the fans following a Lions playoff berth as a result of an impressive 10-6 record in the 2011 season, to come all the way down like the team has put a lot of question on the table.
One interrogative I get from friends and readers is should the Lions fire head Coach Jim Schwartz and/or general manager Martin Mayhew? Especially, in light of the surprising firing of coaches in all the Professional leagues, it is not a stretch when to suggest that Schwartz should be canned after this beyond disappointing season.
After the season closing loss to Chicago, Schwartz was drilled by the media asking him if he thought his job was in jeopardy, and, be simply told all it is a private conversation with the Ford family: however, he did say: “The thing I’m most concerned about is getting this team back to where we all want it to be. When the story of the season is written, it’s going to say 4-12 and nobody’s happy with that – players, coaches, front office, ownership, everybody. Everybody’s in the same boat with that. But we’re all focused on getting that right. There’s nobody happy with that. And whether you’re a player or you’re a coach in this league, it just comes with the territory, and particularly when you have a season like we did.
“I’ll say this, I’m not proud at all of our record; there’s things that we can do better. But I am proud of this team. I’m proud of the way that they’ve fought in this game, but I’m not proud of our record and we’re very determined to get it right.”
Since Schwartz and Mayhew have improved the Lions record for three consecutive years, this woeful season is no reason to fire them both. Sure I concur that 2013 should be a season on the edge, and, a much improve record will likely be mandatory.
Looking at the 2012 Lions, I saw a lot of close games, and, at least four of those should have been victories. Maybe another four were right on the edge.
Many believe the Lions are far away from being a winning team, but if a team goes 10-6, with many of the same players, maybe with better coaching, a few more breaks, and a few valued additions they surely could get the team back to its 2011 success.
This offseason will be very interesting as a noteworthy number of players have their contracts up.
Said Schwartz about his core players: “There are a lot of things that go into the NFL, job security goes in – that’s players, that’s coaches; everybody’s in that same boat. There also are the challenges of salary cap era and free agency and things like that. I think we have 18 guys whose contracts are up. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s no different than last year. Last year was a challenge also. We had to let a couple guys go. We weren’t able to get any free agents. We know what’s ahead of us. We know that we’re going to have to work very hard. We can do it.”
In the 2012 offseason Mayhew retained defense end Cliff Avril and linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and, drafted offensive tackle Riley Reiff. Not bad. I say. However, the 2013 offseason will be a do or die effort from the Lions hierarchy
Detroit started the season with dreams of competing for a Super Bowl, but injuries to the secondary, defensive line and receiver crops knocked the team off its base.
“Even with all the injuries, as unexpected as they may have been,” Schwartz said, “the coaching staff needed to do a better job adjusting. We didn't do a good enough job managing it. Injuries are just life in the NFL and you need to be able to adjust."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:57
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