Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
Wake up Detroit movers and shakers! This is a crucial time that calls for bold moves and long-term vision, not only for Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, but the entire state..
Now that the Ilitch organization has finally put it out on the table their vision for building a new entertainment district downtown anchored by a multipurpose arena that would be home to the Ilitch-owned Red Wings, and hopefully the Pistons, I say make it happen with the quickness.
As Detroit continues to dig itself out of the economic disaster of 2007 that sent the city, state, country and the auto industry on a precarious and uncertain future, this proposed venue would give the Motor City an enormous shot in the arm.
All of Detroit leaders need to look at transformation Indianapolis and San Antonio undergone. Two smaller cities that were both seeking to define themselves. Each city recognized and acknowledged the future and regenerated themselves as sports entertainment venues.
Indeed sports and walkable entertainment collectively is the new model to ensure a city’s rotation in hosting the mega-sporting events like the Final Four, Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Weekend and many other sports and entertainment events.
Sure there are those that will Detroit’s finances, the many vacant homes, and the continued Urban American homicides. Distracters will talk about the neighborhoods needing special attention and rightfully so. However, the dynamics of inner cities in America is a national problem of economics, employment, shifting population, and old infrastructure.
But one problem is no reason to hold up another potential uplift. If indeed the proposed multipurpose arena is commenced, it would not only host hockey and basketball, it would host a range of shows, concerts and other events, while the broader district would include residential housing, retail shopping, office space and more.
What more needs to be said? The City Council, Mayor’s Office, and state government needs to all get on board and help turn this vision into a reality.
I have been to both San Antonio and Indianapolis and seen how the new model of building all their sports venues in a walkable proximity. In conjunction with the arenas and stadiums hotels, eateries and housing have evolved.
Take the Los Angeles Staples Center for example. I was in LA when the developers started building the arena and many said who will perform there and that it was a waste of money and resources.
Well, the Lakers and Clippers and Kings after seeing the venue quickly abandon their arenas. The Staples Center has galvanized a three block district called LA Live that has clubs, restaurants, theaters and hotels.
The LA downtown area before the Staples Center and LA Live was built was a waste land of poverty.
A number of cities have shown us how a city came use the sports entertainment model to regalvanize a downtown and city.
An Ilitch family’s Olympia Development news release quoted George W. Jackson Jr., the city’s top development official and president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., as saying the plan “makes good” business sense.
“It’s not a plan for an isolated, single-use structure,” Jackson said in the statement. “Instead, it builds on the clear successes we’ve already had downtown integrating districts that feature entertainment, and support commercial, retail and residential development around them.”
The Ilitch organization pegged the probable price tag at $650 million. Legislation introduced in Lansing would create a new “catalyst development project” that could benefit from support from the Michigan Strategic Fund and also from the use of Downtown Development Authority tax revenues that support projects in the central business district.
“It’s always been my dream to once again see a vibrant downtown Detroit,” said Mike Ilitch, chairman of Ilitch Holdings, in the statement. “From the time we bought the Fox Theatre, I could envision a downtown where the streets were bustling and people were energized. It’s been a slow process at times, but we’re getting there now and a lot of great people are coming together to make it happen. It’s going to happen and I want to keep us moving toward that vision.”
It has been my vision, too!! So lets keep it moving.
Last Updated on Monday, 10 December 2012 11:09
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
(CALVIN JOHNSON is on a record breaking pace. – Lakeshia Harvey photo)
Yeah the Detroit Lions are not living up to the hopes and dream of its faithful during its 2012 campaign. With it playoff hopes dashed with last week’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, what is the team playing for?
Pride, respect and personal glory are all that is left for the Lions season.
One thing that bothered me about Detroit’s early season offense was that they got too cute. They used Johnson as a decoy. What I have seen in all my years covering the NFL was that teams like San Francisco, Minnesota and San Diego, just to name a few used their star receivers (Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Antonio Gates) no matter the team of defensive scheme.
It seems the Lions have finally said just give Johnson the darn ball, and, he has responded.
NFL receivers, along with Olympic 100-meter sprinters and international soccer stars, are the acknowledged divas of professional sports. Yeah, I can hear many saying what about baseball and basketball players? Well, in my humble opinion they are not even close.
Johnson is recognized but many as the best receiver in the NFL. Therefore, he has every right to join the NFL diva club of Max McGee (in Super Bowl I he violated Vince Lombardi’s curfew policy, but still caught two TD’s with a hangover), Terrell Owens (the reality show), Moss, Lance Alworth (simply the clothes), Michael Irvin, Chris Carter, Keyshawn Johnson, Fred Biletnikoff (the stickem is enough to get him on my list), Andre Rison, Chad Ochocinco (the name change), Sterling Sharpe, Don Maynard, and Rice, just to mention a few..
My list has nothing to do with who’s the greatest receiver, just their personal presentation and style on and off the field.
Johnson did not even give himself a name like many of the others. He simply got the moniker Megatron from his peers. Against the Colts Johnson showed a national television audience why he has earned that nickname and why Madden 2012 chose him to be its valued cover boy.
Against the Colts Johnson caught 13 passes for 171 yards and 1 touchdown. That gave him five-straight games with 125 or more receiving yards which tied an NFL record set by Lions WR Pat Studstill in 1966.
Also, Johnson’s current streak of four games with 140 or more yards tied the longest streak in NFL history by Lions Cloyce Box spanning the 1952-53 seasons. He is the only player with four-straight games with 140 or more yards in the same season.
“I’m feel better that I did earl in the season,” Johnson said, “and I seem to be getting more opportunities. That’s the main difference I see.”
Added Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford: “Johnson’s a heck of a player. Even when I missed him he still seems to be able to make a play on the ball. Yeah, he is the best receiver in the league.”
Johnson’s 13 catches against the Colts set a new career high and are the second-most receptions in a game in Lions history. He was one shy of the team record of 14 set by Herman Moore. His 171 receiving yards versus the Colts was his 29th career 100-yard receiving game: He is second only to Moore (34) for the most in team history.
With 1,428 yards in 12 games (119.0 avg), he now has the most yards through 12 games since Alworth has 1,428 in 1965. He is tied for the third-most receiving yards through 12 games in NFL history. While tied with Alworth, he is behind Charlie Hennigan with 1,541 in 1961 and Crazy Legs Hirsch with 1,495 in 1951 for the most receiving yards through 12 games.
Johnson’s 119.0 yards per game average through 12 games is on pace to break both the Lions all-time single season record for receiving yards (Moore, 1,686 in 1995) and the NFL record for receiving yards in a season (Rice, 1848 in 1995). At 119.0 yards per game, he would finish the season at 1,904 yards.
“I do not look at statistics,” Johnson said. “I just try to do whatever the team needs to win games. Nothing matters but this team being successful.”
Last Updated on Monday, 10 December 2012 11:12
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
(Photo Credit: Hector Camacho in Vegas before a title fight. – Jon Gaede photo)
In many cases tragedy seems to shadow the practitioners of the Sweet Science. It is my hypotheses most of those that engage in professional fisticuffs are on that stage to uplift their lives or families from an entrenched placement in the lower-socio economics of life.
Living and fighting to get out of the lower-socio economic conundrum of humanity, the escapees seem to find misfortune at some point - financially, domestically or professionally.
Unfortunately, the numbers of great boxers that have endured tragic endings are too many for me to recount. Vernon Forrest, Alexis Argüello, Arturo Gatti, Steve McCrory, Michael Dokes, and Joe Frazier just to name a few.
The latest of the Sweet Science champions to have the 10-count rung is Hector “Macho” Camacho. On November 20, 2012, Camacho was shot once in the jaw while in his hometown of Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Several news agencies reported that Camacho, 50, was seated in the passenger seat of a friend's Ford Mustang when he was shot by unknown individuals from a passing SUV.
The driver of the car, Adrian Mojica Moreno, a childhood friend of Camacho, was killed in the attack. Camacho was taken to San Pablo Hospital in Bayamón, where he was reported to be in critical condition.
The bullet pierced Camacho's left cheek, and fractured his fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae, lodging in his right shoulder, and causing a lesion to his carotid artery which restricted blood flow to his brain. At one point, doctors announced that Camacho was expected to survive but might be paralyzed; however, after he suffered a cardiac arrest during the night, the next morning doctors reported that Camacho was clinically brain dead. Dr. Ernesto Torres said in response to his family’s request, he was taken off life support and died shortly thereafter.
I wrote from three of Camacho’s title fights. The first was a loss to Julio César Chávez in 1991 at Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. Again I scribed in 1994 at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena, where Félix Trinidad gave him his third professional loss. And finally, in 1997 at the Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he beat legend Sugar Ray Leonard with a fifth round TKO.
Camacho also fought at the Detroit Joe Louis Arena, in 2000, where he earned a victory against Bobby Elkins.
My personal remembrance of Camacho was that he was a unique athlete. He learned from Muhammad Ali that one could milk the genre while adding, along with pure skill of being a combatant, the entertainment value of the sporting event.
I made sure I was at his big title fights, because he gave one a show. His in ring garb, his good looks, ring savvy, and his charisma were things that made him standout.
Before being taken to the United States, Camacho's body laid in state at the Puerto Rico Department of Sports and Recreation in Santurce. During the two days Camacho's body was on viewing, hundreds of people visited the facilities to pay tribute to the fighter.
Camacho was truly a Puerto Rican sports icon who many boxing journalist put in the conversation as one of the "Top 5 Puerto Rican boxers" of all time, along with Trinidad, Wilfredo Gómez, and Wilfredo Benitez..
The boxing historian, Mario Rivera Martinó, said Camacho, was a "complete fighter" in the Lightweight division.. World Boxing Council president José Sulaimán noted that Camacho "revolutionized boxing during his time."
Ed Brophy, director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, acknowledged Camacho's talents in attracting an audience. He said, "Camacho brought a lot of excitement to boxing. He was bright, colorful, and always gave something to talk about with his walks to the ring, with his unique style of entering, and the costumes he wore."
I will always remember Camacho's flamboyant approach to the ring, with his extravagant and exaggerated costumes, feather crests, bright clothes, and the loud rhythm of the Latin music he chose.
Hiram Martínez, senior editor of ESPN Deportes, said about Camacho's training: “He transforms himself into a hungry, focused, and dedicated boxer, that works hours and hours polishing his speed, his wit, and the style that turned him into one of the greats of all time. That's the only way you can explain why all those great hitters he faced during the best moments of his career never knocked him down."
Maybe Camacho was not the greatest fighter ever, but he uniquely combined a contagious charisma, impressive boxing skill, a child's soul, a salesman shrewdness, and a superlative confidence in himself . . . that created a bigger than life “Macho Time” persona.
Last Updated on Friday, 30 November 2012 11:49
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
(JIM SCHWARTZ is left pondering a season with no (Andrew) Luck. – Andre Smith photo)
Colts rookie quarterback manufacture last second win.
I’ve always said give me a mobile quarterback on any given Sunday. Yeah, one like our Matthew Stafford indeed has a good arm and is putting up noteworthy numbers; however, when a game gets close and a quarterback has that extra escape-ability it can change outcomes.
Stafford just does not have that extra escape-ability. He almost needs everything to be near perfect for him to get it done. When the Detroit Lions offensive line holds off an onrushing defensive thrust, he more times than not will deliver a serviceable pass.
At Ford Field the Lions defense put all kinds on heat on Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, but in the end it was his efficient use of his feet that kept plays alive. He avoided sacks and gave his receivers opportunities to stretch their routes.
Luck the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, is a Sanford graduate and is known for his smarts, but he showed all that it was his feet that gives him that something special. Against the Lions he needed his feet, smarts and arm to induce a 35-33 victory as time expired.
He advanced the Colts (8-4) 75 yards in 1:07 and tossed the winning touchdown pass to receiver Donnie Avery. What made the drive and final play surreal was how he managed to escape the heat the 4-8 Lions’ defense put on him.
After three straight incompletions, Luck faced 4th down with four seconds left, and the engaged Lions faithful was a buzz, but hold on wait a minute the Colts put some Luck into it, and, the rookie simply pulled the air out of Ford Field as all stood stunned at the heartbreaking outcome.
Using his feet Luck took the final snap, dropped back then stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush. As he surveyed the field Avery came open, and just like that his 14-yard touchdown pass with no time remaining put the final dagger in any playoff hopes the Lions harbored.
“Yeah, you know, we were sort of stalled it seemed at that 10 or whatever yard line area, the 14-yard line,” Luck said in the post game press conference. “It’s tough to just sit back there and try to throw it when they’re dropping in their zones and doing a good job. So, I figured, you know, buy a little time and run around a little, maybe it’ll open up a window.
“Looking downfield, I guess I took the calculated risk that Donnie (Avery) could get there and he did. I’m thankful because, you know, we played some bad ball. I played a lot of bad ball, but I’m thankful for a great defense keeping us in there and then I’m thankful to be on a team that just keeps playing.”
Lion’s defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said: “He's dangerous, he's big, he's physical. You could see he's strong and there were times we had opportunities to bring him down throughout the game and (didn't).”
Added Colts coach Bruce Arians: “We had basically spread everybody across the back of the end zone and ran Donnie (Avery) across the field as an outlet. I was hoping he’d catch it a little closer to the goal line.. But we knew they’d sink everybody back in. It was a great play by Andrew getting out of there, scanning the field. All the receivers were going left and Donnie was coming back right.”
But that is what happens when a quarterback has that extra escape-ability. It is what Joe Montana, Steve McNair, Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton, Bret Frave, Aaron Rodgers, Donovan McNabb, Doug Williams, Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman, just to recall a few.
Just like Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Robert Griffin, Cam Newton, and Rodgers, Luck fits nicely into the quarterback mold that can extend plays with his feet – a simply invaluable addendum that enhances an offense immeasurably.
Despite throwing three interceptions and not being in his best form passing wise, Luck used his feet to keep drive alive and but time for his receivers to come open.
Just ask the Lions defense!!!!
Last Updated on Monday, 03 December 2012 13:18
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
(Photo Credit: JOIQUE BELL from Wayne State. – Lakeshia Harvey photo)
ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions have surely fallen short of most expectations; however, as is the case in any professional sports endeavor there are those that are fighting to make a place for themselves in the mega-sports world of the NFL.
The Lions fans can speculate the reason their team have basically taken itself out of the 2012 NFL Playoff picture, is bad karma and a not ready for prime time roster.
Even in the midst of this disapproving season, there are always highlights and unexpected positives.
One unexpected positive has been the play of Detroit Wayne State University running back Joique Bell. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back is making his mark as the Lions' go-to guy late in games.
“Man I’m just trying to help this team win games,” Bell said. “When they call my number to respond I try to do just that. I always had confidence in myself as a running, but it mattered not if I was never given a chance to do what I do.
“So far the Lions have given me shot and I’m trying to make the best of it.”
After his record breaking senior year at Wayne State Bell was signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2010. In succession he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, and New Orleans Saints.
Getting kicked around is always a unique and uncertain burden for undrafted players in the NFL, or any sport.
However, as a senior at Wayne State, Bell won the Harlon Hill Trophy, awarded to the Division II player of the year, after he rushed for 2,084 yards and 29 touchdowns.
His first few NFL stops had him resigned as a practice squad player. Finally in December, 2011, Bell was signed by the Lions. All Lions fans wondered who was this running back with the big stats?
Since his opportunity the bruising Bell has averaged 5.2 yards a carry and 12 yards a reception in the second half as the Lions have used him to shred tired defenses. The move has paid off for all involved, and Bell, who had stints with four teams in two years before coming to the Lions, has carved himself quite a niche.
"When the coaches look at you and have faith in you, you have to realize, their decisions are being judged just as much as my play is being judged," Bell said. "So if I go out there and do a terrible job, their job is on the line. So for them to put that trust into me, it just gives me that much more confidence in my play.”
Bell left Wayne State, just down the road from Ford Field, as one of the best running backs in Division II history. He ripped defensive lines for 6,728 yards in his four seasons, including 88 touchdowns.
Bell is the first player from Wayne State to make the NFL since 1996. His college coach, Paul Winters, said Bell was easily the hardest-working and most talented player on the field.
"In college, he was a good-sized tailback for any level," Winters said. "He combined that with his speed and natural instincts. I think he has really great vision and great feet, and you combine that with his hard work and you have a great talent."
"I always dreamed of it, but you're just dreaming," Bell said of getting a chance. "You really don't know how it goes. You have to be prepared when opportunity presents itself and just attack it."
Opportunity and preparation is a powerful combination. With Jahvid Best (concussion) and Mikel Leshour fighting back from injuries, the opportunistic Bell slid into the opening and immediately started paying dividends.
"It feels good for a guy like Joique," Lions coach Jim Schwartz. "It's tough to be an NFL football player; it's tough to break a roster. We had him in the Senior Bowl a few years ago and he's made teams and been on practice squads and stuff like that, and it felt good to see him earn a roster spot with our team.”
Bell has a noteworthy 4.9 yard peer carry average and had scored three touchdowns. He is also fourth on the team in receptions.
Last Updated on Friday, 30 November 2012 11:39
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