Friday, January 31, 2014

Top 10 Super Bowl Games of All Time

Looks like the weather is going to hold up on Sunday, when the Broncos and Seahawks take the field, with reported temperatures climbing over 45 degrees. That is perfect weather for this time of the year, especially in New Jersey. So with the weather becoming less and less of a factor, the attention goes right back to the game itself. But before we preview Super Bowl XLVIII, let's take a trip down memory lane. With Super Bowl XLVIII just days away it is time to take a look back at Super Bowl's past and reflect on some of the greatest games in the history of this championship game.

1) Super Bowl XLII: GIANTS 17, PATRIOTS 14
No Super Bowl has ever had as much on the line and contained as much drama as Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots came into the game undefeated (18-0), and with a win in the Super Bowl, they would have punched their ticket to immortality. As for the Giants, nobody expected them to be there. A team, that earlier in the year was playing for their coach's job, turned it on big time in January. They beat the Bucs, Cowboys and Packers all on the road before heading to Arizona for the Super Bowl.

The game of course was a classic. After the Giants took a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter, the Patriots responded with a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Randy Moss. With time running out on the Giants, Eli Manning heaved the Hail Mary of all Hail Mary's to David Tyree, who trapped the ball with his hand and helmet. The "Helmet Catch" led to the game winning touchdown to Plaxico Burress with :35 to go.

2) Super Bowl XXXII: BRONCOS 31, PACKERS 24
A match-up of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, John Elway vs. Brett Favre. At the time, Favre and the Packers were defending Super Bowl champions, while Denver was still looking for its first ever world championship. At 37, and still gunning for a ring, Elway and Broncos had an incredible evening. Helped out of course by MVP Terrell Davis, the Broncos kept pace with Green Bay in a back and forth affair. Denver finally took the lead when Davis scored a late touchdown, that Green Bay allowed intentionally. With one last gasp Favre drove the Packers to mid field before the drive stalled on fourth down. Elway and Broncos finally had their Super Bowl triumph.


3) Super Bowl XXV: GIANTS 20, BILLS 19 
The Giants were heavy underdogs to the Buffalo Bills, who featured the number 1 offense in football. Yet, Big Blue was able to stymie the Buffalo attack. Still it wasn't easy, the Giants trailed by a score of 12-3 midway through the second quarter. The Giants closed the gap when Jeff Hostetler hit Stephen Baker for a touchdown to make it 12-10. Big Blue eventually took the lead on a Otis Anderson touchdown run.

However, Buffalo came back to take a slim 2-point lead, setting up a dramatic finish. The Giants ate 7:32 off the clock in a 14 play 74 yard drive that culminated in a field goal to make it 20-19. With 2:32 to go the Bills would have one last shot at winning the Super Bowl. They got close, moving the ball all the way to the Giants 29-yard line. With time running out, Buffalo had to kick and put the game in the hands of Scott Norwood. We all know what happened next. Norwood missed. Giants won.

4) Super Bowl XXIII: 49ERS 20, BENGALS 16
In the 1980's and 1990's there weren't too many Super Bowl games that were competitive. Super Bowl XXIII was the exception to the rule. This was the second time the 49ers and Bengals met up in the Big Game, and this one was certainly the better of the two. The Bengals had leads of 13-6 and 16-13, only to watch San Fran come back twice on them. First Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice for a touchdown that tied the game at 13.

After Cincinnati regained the lead 16-13, the 49ers finished the Super Bowl off with an incredible 92-yard scoring drive, culminating in Montana's 10-yard touchdown to John Taylor with seconds remaining in the contest.

5) Super Bowl XIII: STEELERS 35, COWBOYS 31
The first ever rematch in Super Bowl history, and a game that cemented the great championship rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. One team became known as the team of the 70's after this game, the other was better known as America's Team; a franchise with great success under Tom Landry with a pair Super Bowl titles of their own.

This was also the first high scoring Super Bowl of its time, a game that would become a bench mark and preview of what the NFL would become years later. Case in point, this game featured seven touchdown passes, four by Terry Bradshaw, and three by Roger Staubach.

However, this game is probably best remembered for the touchdown catch that wasn't. With Dallas trailing 21-14 in the third quarter, Staubach had Jackie Smith open in the end zone, but the tight end dropped what would have been a touchdown. The Cowboys were forced to settle for a field goal to make it 21-17. Dallas trailed by as much as 35-17, before storming back with two fourth quarter touchdowns to make it 35-31, but that was a close as they would come. What if Smith caught that touchdown?

6) Super Bowl XXXIV: RAMS 23, TITANS 16
A game that started off as a dud, had one hell of a fourth quarter that will forever put it as one of the best Super Bowl's played. The Rams were supposed to be the highest scoring team in the NFL that year, but held a slim 9-0 lead at the half. St. Louis built their lead to 16-0 when Kurt Warner hit Tory Holt for a touchdown.

Then the Titans came to life. Three heroic drives would follow in the second half, led by quarterback Steve McNair and running back eddie George. The Titans tied the Super Bowl at 16 with 2:12 to go. The Rams needed a big play out of their big play offense to avoid overtime, and they got it, when Warner hit Isaac Bruce down the sideline for a 38-yard touchdown to take a 23-16 lead.

However with 1:48 to go, it was enough time for McNair to stage one last rally. He pushed the Titans all the way to the Rams 10 yard line. With six seconds to go, NcNair hit Kevin Dyson at the five, but the receiver was  pulled down short of the end zone by a yard, ending the game, and giving the Rams their first Super Bowl title.

7) Super Bowl XLIII: STEELERS 27, CARDINALS 23
For the third time in his career Kurt Warner was going to the Super Bowl, and for the second time he took a once down-trodden franchise to the big game. The Cardinals never knew what a Super Bowl was like until this day, and thanks to a monster touchdown pass and catch between Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, they were minutes away from winning it all.

That was until the Steelers had something to say. Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 78 yards in 8 plays with 2:02 for the winning score. The game winner was a thriller, as Santonio Holmes (yes, Jets fans Santonio Holmes) made an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone for the winning score, handing the Steelers their sixth title, and sending Arizona home empty.

8) Super Bowl X: STEELERS 21, COWBOYS 17 
The original match-up of the Steelers and Cowboys. At its time, was considered the most exciting Super Bowl of the first 10 Championship Games played. While the final score would be laughed at by today's standards -- remember it was 1976. The game was a back and forth tilt that was favoring Dallas, who held a 10-7 lead through three quarters. Pittsburgh would rally with a safety and two field goals to take a 15-10 lead. The Steelers then put the nail in the coffin on a 64-yard touchdown catch by Lynn Swann to the put the game out of reach.

9) Super Bowl XXXVI: PATRIOTS 20, RAMS 17
This was supposed to be the coronation of the St. Louis Rams as the team of the new decade. Instead it was the beginning of another dynasty: the Patriots. While this game is probably best known for spy-gate, as the Rams have claimed over the years that the Patriots were stealing their signals, you can't take away the fact that this game was thriller.

The Patriots were 18-point underdogs, (yes, Tom Brady was an 18-point underdog back in the day), and were expected to roll over for the Rams. It didn't happen. The Patriots held a 17-10 lead, before the Rams tied it late in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady then etched his name into the history books, engineering a final minute drive to set up Adam Vinateiri with a game winning field goal with :04 to go. The Patriots defeated the Rams, and a new era was born in the NFL.

10) Super Bowl III: JETS 16, COLTS 7
Call this a cop out if you will. The game was never close. The Jets dominated this football game for their first and only Super Bowl title. Yet this contest will be remembered for two things. 1) Joe Namath guaranteed New York would win the Super Bowl -- something unheard of at the time, and he delivered, winning game MVP. 2) The Jets victory was a huge lift for the dying AFL. Remember this game was played at a time where the NFL and AFL were two separate leagues. The game issued the merger and the current format of AFC vs. NFC that we have today.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eli Manning & Giants Involved in Lawsuit over Memorabilia

Ever since he came to the Giants, Eli Manning has had a very squeaky-clean image.

A do-gooder, who was both humble and a two-time Super Bowl champion is now involved in a hairy memorabilia lawsuit, that claims Manning was "in on" a scam to sell fake game-worn memorabilia. 

According to a report by the New York Post, a lawsuit was field by Eric Inselberg, who is claiming that the Giants locker room manager, Ed Wagner Jr. and equipment managers Joe and Ed Skiba were informed by team officials to lie about the memorabilia being real. 

While the story is still kind of sketchy, Manning's apparent involvement dates back to 2005, when he 
"instructed" Skiba to hand him a football helmet, which he signed and claimed was used during his rookie year. The suit then alleges that Skiba took a unused helmet, doctored it as if it were worn by Manning during Super Bowl XLII and sold it initially to Inselberg. 


"Two bogus helmets that Manning claimed to have worn in the 2012 Super Bowl, as well as jerseys and helmets from 2008, were also ordered to be doctored and then sold, according to the suit.  Included in the lawsuit is a 2008 e-mail exchange between Inselberg and Joe Skiba, in which Skiba appears to acknowledge he created fake game-worn gear at Manning’s request.

Some of Manning’s alleged fakes were sold through famed memorabilia house Steiner Sports, with whom he had an exclusive deal.
Steiner, believing its items to be authentic, sold them “to unwitting customers and sent them via the mail,” the suit says.
Angry buyers started to complain after noticing that markings on their items didn’t match those that appeared in pictures of Manning’s game-day duds.
But Manning told Steiner they were legit, and Steiner resold returned helmets to other buyers, the suit claims." (New York Post)

It is not clear whether Manning was a willing party in this mess, or whether he knew that the items were indeed fake. It is also not clear if Manning or the Giants franchise made money off of the fake items that were sold. Inselberg is no saint. He was indicted on memorabilia fraud back in 2011, before the charges were dropped in 2013. So this is his way of enacting revenge. 

Based on the story, it seems the real culprits are the equipment managers, and locker room manger. They took the initiative to doctor items as if they were real and sell them. If Manning was in the know on this matter, than he is going to be in big legal trouble -- and his reputation is going to take an even bigger hit. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snow Becoming A Real Threat to Super Bowl XLVIII

About a month ago a report came out that the NFL was thinking about a contingency plan for the Super Bowl, if the game were snowed out. Now stories are starting to circulate that a storm could hit Super Sunday, which would send the entire event spiraling toward meltdown.

According to the Star Ledger, there is a weather pattern that is starting to develop for next weekend here in New Jersey. Temperatures in Jersey have been Artctic-like for the last week, and those frigid temps are expected to continue throughout next week.

If it does snow on Super Sunday, it could affect when the game is played.

NFL officials have said they need 48 hours to move the entire package: events, shows, pre-game festivities, halftime, and the game to another day if Sunday gets clocked with a snow storm.

That means the Super Bowl could be played between Friday, January 31 and Monday, February 3.

The reason for such concern stems from a storm that hit this area on Tuesday, dumping 13 inches of snow that the Meadowlands crew had to clean up this week.

The NFL could survive if a storm hits on Friday or Saturday, but a major storm on the day of the game would be catestrophic. Why? Because Super Bowl Sunday is an all day event. It starts with pre game shows, broadcasts, fan events, and concerts. And this is all hours before kickoff. If a storm hits on Sunday, these events would have to be either moved or canceled.

The NFL isn't using the IZod Center; Xanadu still has yet to even open its doors. The Prudential Center in Newark, at least 7 miles away from the Meadowlands -- and that is not counting traffic on Route 21 and 3 -- is available for Media Day, and moving the media and concerts there could be cumbersome.

As for the game, people arrive for the Super Bowl extra early, and will want to sit in their seats hours before the game starts. The people who attend Super Bowls are not exactly die-hard football fans who don't care about weather. A real cold snap with snow will drive people away -- even for a Super Bowl.

So moving the game to either Saturday night or Monday night become a possibility. Yet, even that could be a disaster. Super Bowl Sunday is a television ratings magnetic. The entire sports world doesn't even play the Sunday of the Super Bowl.

If the game were moved to Saturday night, it would have no choice but to compete with the NBA, NHL, and college basketball. People who have tickets to those events, are not going to give up their tickets for a chance to sit on the coach to watch the Big Game a day early.

A Super Bowl move to Saturday will create a dip in its ratings, and possibly a loss in advertising revenue.

Right now, there is a 30% chance of snow for Sunday, so the likelihood that the game gets snowed out is still very remote. But just the thought of the game moving to another day would be a total failure for the NFL, New York and New Jersey. The prospects of other cold weather cities getting a Super Bowl would automatically go down the drain.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yankees Win Tanaka Sweepstakes

So much for that $189 million threshold.

The Yankees who have been unapologetic about spending big money this off-season have once again come out winners of the off-season, this time coming to terms with Japanese flame-thrower Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees agreed to pay Tanaka $155 million over seven years, with an opt-out clause after four seasons. The Yankees will also pay Tanaka's former team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, $20 million just for the right to talk to him.

What began as an off-season where the Yankees were planning to pinch pennies in order to stay below $189 million in the salary cap has instead seen the Yankees do what they do best: spend. The Yankees have spend $491 million in contracts this winter. Not including in all of this is the $25 million New York saves after Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the season by Major League Baseball.

The Yankees felt the need to acquire Tanaka because the club's rotation has been thin at best. Outside of CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees have nothing but question marks regarding the likes of Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and David Phelps.

New York could have gone a cheaper rout and taped someone like a Bronson Arroyo, who would have been a solid number three starter for a couple of years. Instead, the Yankees went all in on a guy who has never pitched in the Major Leagues.

This is not to say Tanaka doesn't come with a pedegree. He went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan last year. But the way the game is played, is a tad different in the Land of the Rising Sun than it is in the United States.

The Yankees have gone all out for Japanese pitchers before. They spent big money for guys like Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa and came up snake eyes each time. Kuroda, was a free agent, who had already spent a number of years pitching in the Majors before he joined the Yankees three years ago.

The one advantage that Tanaka has that Igawa and Irabu didn't have when they came to New York is the fact the Yankees have a couple Japanese players already on the team. Kuroda and aging All Star Ichiro Suzuki are on this 2014 Yankees squad. They will take Tanaka under their wing and groom him for the transition to the Majors and the USA.

Having a Japanese veteran presence was something Irabu and Igawa did not have when they arrived in New York.

Anyone expecting Tanaka to put up big numbers this year better take it easy. It's a big transition that Japanese pitchers make when they come to America. Even Kuroda had a really rough transition when he signed with the Dodgers in 2008. He didn't put it together until he came to New York in 2012.

While the Yankees look like early winners here, let's see if Tanaka is the real deal before we crown this move.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Seahawks Win the Most Bizarre NFC Championship Game in Years

SEAHAWKS 23 - 49ERS 17 

The events that took place in the fourth quarter of Sunday's NFC title game will be one that will go down as some of the most bizarre moments in NFL history. Not only did the Seahawks complete an improbable comeback to win the game, but the moments that led up to the Seattle victory, and the moments that came shortly thereafter will be talked about for days, weeks, and months to come.

The craziness started as soon as the fourth quarter began with San Francisco holding onto a 17-13 lead. After dominating the first half, there was a sense through the third that it could slip away from San Francisco at any given moment.

The 49ers appeared to have the Seahawks right where they wanted them. Russell Wilson was called for another intentional grounding penalty that cost the Seahawks 16 yards, pushing them back to a third and 22 at midfield.

Wilson was not great. He was erratic with his throws for much of the day, overthrowing receivers, and when he scrambled around in the pocket, there were times he lost so much yardage that it was hard for him to make it up. Not to mention he was stripped of the football the first play of the game that resulted in a Niners field goal that made it 3-0. He even fumbled a couple more times as well, but was bailed out by recoveries.

Wilson has received a lot of undeserved praise since coming into the league, and Sunday was another day that will not quiet down his growing number of critics who see him as an average quarterback.

Yet it was on a desperation fourth and seven that Wilson shut up his critics, albeit briefly. The Seahawks initially planned to kick a field goal to cut the Niners lead to 17-16, but after a timeout by Pete Carroll, reconsidered and went for it on fourth down. The 49ers were totally disorganized defensively on this play and Wilson took advantage, dropping a 35 yard pass into the hands of Jermaine Kearse to give Seattle a stunning 20-17 lead.

Then the game took even more bizarre twists and turns. On San Francisco's ensuing possession, Colin Kapernick was strip-sacked on third and six giving Seattle the football at the niners six yard line. However, the Seahawks couldn't do anything with it.

Kearse fumbled the football while he was going down at the 1 yard line, and Navaro Bowman recovered the fumble for San Francisco. However, the officials didn't see it, and awarded the Seahawks with the football. On that play, Bowman suffered a severe knee injury and had to leave the game. The classless Seahawks fans tossed popcorn at him as he left the field.

On the next play, justice was served as the usually reliable Marshawn Lynch fumbled the football on fourth and one. The niners had life down three points.

But, once again Kapernick killed his team when they needed him to be the guy they have seen bring them back so many times before. He tried to muscle a throw to Anquan Boldin down the sideline, but it was intercepted by Kam Chancellor. Another killer mistake by Kapernick with his team still in the ball game.

The Niners got one last shot, down six points to try to win the game with a touchdown, and it looked like they were well on their way. Kapernick's 16-yard pass to Michael Crabtree, and his 11-yarder to Vernon Davis moved San Francisco inside the Seattle 20 yard line.

However, poor clock management helped doom San Francisco. The 49ers had three timeouts in their pockets, and only used one with :55 to go. They should have called time out after the Davis catch, which would have saved a lot of time. Instead they hurried in a play and Kapernick hurried a throw to the back of the end zone and Crabtree. Richard Sherman made the play on the football knocking it away and into the hands of a Seattle defender for the pick to send Seattle to the Super Bowl.

The entire fourth quarter was a quandary of bad play calling and even worse execution on the part of the 49ers and Seahawks. Kapernick who was so incredible in the first half of the game, couldn't figure things out in the second half. The Seahawks managed to keep him in the pocket, and the young quarterback put together his best Brett Favre impression in crunch time.

As for Seattle, they asked Wilson to do too much in the first half, and he couldn't deliever. Once the Seahawks went back to Lynch at the start of the third quarter, only then were they able to stabilize the game and the take the football out of Wilson's hands.

And last, but not least, let's talk about class!

Richard Sherman, who certainly has the gift of gab for his brash style of trash talking made social media history with his outlandish and tasteless post game comments. Fox Sports' Erin Andrews, probably in a rush to get someone on camera, tried to interview Sherman after the game, and the corner did nothing but spew pure hatred for the 49ers and Michael Crabtree. It was tasteless and gutless and made the Seahawks look like a band of thugs instead of professional football players.

In addition, Sherman made a chocking sign toward Kapernick after deflecting the final pass of the day, and received a 15-yard penalty for it. A fine should be coming soon.

The response to Sherman's actions have exploded all over Twitter with people admonishing him for poor sportsmanship, and even throwing racial slurs his way. The racial slurs are totally out of bounds, but this is the firestorm that Sherman created for himself. He should give a big apology to Andrews for the way he handled himself -- he's a smart guy, a Stanford grad. He's better than that.

The Seahawks may have won the NFC title, but now they come into this Super Bowl as the villain. A label that they may not like, but they earned it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Manning Guides Broncos Past Patriots to Super Bowl XLVIII

BRONCOS 26 - PATRIOTS 16

There will be a Manning at MetLife Stadium in two weeks, and his name is not Eli.

Peyton Manning is the name, and Peyton earned his third trip to the Super Bowl leading the Broncos to a dominating 26-16 victory over his arch rival Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. For Denver, it is their first trip to the big game since the 1998-99 season, when they won Super Bowl XXXIII.

While New England may have closed the game to respectable ten points by the end of the fourth quarter, this game was never really close.

The Broncos dominated every facet of the ball game, particularly on the offensive end, where Manning tore up a battered Patriots secondary. Perhaps helped out by the fact that the Patriots didn't have Aquib Talib for most of the ball game, it didn't seem to matter what the Patriots threw at Manning, he was not going to be denied.

He completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns. He zipped the ball to open receivers when he had them, and even the weakest of thrown balls found their way into the hands of Manning's wide outs. Manning was accurate, and determined. After having to hear all week that he can't beat Brady in the playoffs, and having heard for years that he is not a big game quarterback, Manning's effort stood out from the rest.

With the game scoreless, Manning showed the world how much this game and this moment meant to him. He connected with Demarious Thomas in single coverage on a bomb of a pass down the middle of the field to the Patriots 29. Then he zipped a 19-yard slant with all of his might to Eric Decker to the Patriots 10 for a first and goal. Sure Denver settled for a field goal, but the trend had been set.

The Broncos would score on six consecutive possessions from the first quarter on through the fourth. Denver amassed 507 yards of offense, Sunday, with 27 first downs and a time of possession of nearly 36 minutes. It was a total team effort.

One can make the case that this receiving corps is the best Manning had to work with in his career, and this is guy who used to throw to Hall of Famers like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, while in Indianapolis.

If Demarious Thomas was open in the middle, Manning found him. If Eric Decker or Wes Welker were even slightly open down the sidelines, Manning found them. If Julius Thomas was paired with a linebacker, Manning put the ball over the top and hit his man.

That was the kind of game Manning and the Broncos had on Sunday.

Before Brady and the Patriots knew it they were down 20-3, after Manning orchestrated an game killing 7:08, 90-yard drive to open the second half. Manning was six of seven on the drive, with assists by Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball who gained a combined 26-yards on the drive to help move the chains.

After Ball gutted out a third and three conversion for a first down and goal, Manning found Demarious Thomas in the end zone for the touchdown to make it 20-3. The game was now heading toward a route, and anyone watching this game knew it.

The panic was obvious on the face of Brady, who just couldn't get on the same page with his wide receivers. The clock was ticking and there was nothing he could do about it.

It was going to be tough sledding for Brady to do anything with a receiving corps of Julian Edleman, and Danny Amendola -- guys who don't exactly remind anyone of Randy Moss and Welker. Not to mention Brady badly missed Rob Gronkowski on this day. The lack of depth at wide receiver was apparent all afternoon.

Somehow Brady was able to guide the Patriots to the Broncos 29-yard line, but he couldn't finish it off. On third and three, Brady couldn't complete a pass to full back Shane Vereen, setting up a desperation fourth and three. The Patriots had no choice but to go for it, and the Broncos were ready. Denver switched into a nickel defense, and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton shot the gap and sacked Brady for a 10-yard loss.

The AFC Championship Game for all intents and purposes was over.

Manning completed passes of 14-yards to Julius Thomas and 30-yards to Demarious Thomas to set up another Matt Prater field goal to make it 23-3.

Give credit where it is due. The Broncos earned this trip to Super Bowl XLVIII, and with Manning now set to cement his legacy as one of the greatest ever - it sets up a compelling storyline for the New York stage. Welcome to New Jersey, Peyton!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rex Ryan signs contract extension, but he needs to win or else

We all knew that Rex Ryan was coming back to the Jets when Woody Johnson and John Idzik gushed over an 8-8 finish as if the franchise had won the Super Bowl a few weeks ago.

Now Ryan has put his signature on a new contract that will keep him a Jet through 2016. However, Ryan should not get too comfortable.

The contract is heavily incentive laden demanding that Ryan produce more than just mediocre results. He has to win playoff games, or else he could be fired without the franchise eating too much money. While technically Ryan isn't on the hot seat in 2014, because he has a new contract; he is on the hot seat in 2014 if the team fails to make the playoffs.

To this day I still don't know why the Jets decided to keep Ryan. The clearly do not trust him, why else would they make the contract extension incentive laden so they could fire him at the drop of a hat. If the Jets front office was so dubious about Ryan's future, then why not fire him after the 2013 season.

Considering Ryan's history with the Jets, nobody would have blamed them if they made the move. Now the franchise has just denied the inevitable. Unless the Jets can make the playoffs next season, it could be the last time we see Rex on the sideline for Gang Green.

Giants Tap Former Packer QB Coach McAdoo as O.C.

In the words of Giants owner and CEO John Mara the Giants offense was "broken" in 2013. The blame for New York's sputtering offense fell at the feet of Kevin Gillbride who was forced to retire at the end of the season, sending the Giants into a search for a more competent offensive coordinator. 

They may have found one in former Packers quarterback coach Ben McAdoo. 

McAdoo, a virtual unknown until he interviewed for the head coaching job for the Cleveland Browns a couple weeks back, is both youthful and a new voice for a unit that badly needs a new voice. At 36, he has already spent the past eight years in the Packers organization, six of those years as a tight end coach, and two as quarterback coach. 

While offensive coordinators and quarterback's coaches get too much of the blame when things go wrong, and too much of the credit when things go right, many credit McAdoo with doing a suburb job of juggling different three quarterbacks while Aaron Rodgers was out with a collar bone injury. 

“(McAdoo) is a detailed, very, very meticulous coach who has been greatly influenced by Mike McCarthy. He has a great relationship with him. The thing I was impressed by is, he’s been in San Francisco, he’s been in Green Bay, now he has an opportunity to come to the New York Giants. He thinks these clubs represent the NFL. He feels privileged to be here. He’s looking forward in a very humble way to becoming a New York Giant," said Tom Coughlin (Giants.com). 

The move also means that the Giants will not hire Mike Sullivan, who many thought was the favorite to get the job. However, Sullivan was a Gillbride desciple, having served as the Giants quarterback coach for a number of years before bolting for Tampa Bay two years ago. Deciding not to hire Sullivan might be a good thing. 

Keep in mind that McAdoo signed only a two year contract. Interesting, considering that Tom Coughlin only has a year left on his deal. Perhaps the entire coaching staff is on notice to get the job done in 2014 or else. 

Or, if McAdoo can reinvigorate Eli Manning and this offense, maybe he will be a candidate to succeed Coughlin when he does step aside. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Yankees Can Keep A-Rod from Spring Complex

Alex Rodriguez wants to come to Yankees Spring Training.

The question is will the Yankees let him?

According to the suspension levied by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, Rodriguez could attend Spring Training, even though he is to be suspended for the entire 2014 season.

Now the Yankees have to act.

They could relegate him to the club's minor league facility, and, according to a report on ESPN, the Yankees could instruct their coaches to "ignore him" while he is "training" in the Yankees minor league complex. The Yankees would in essence be telling Rodriguez that they are not interested in him anymore.

The Yankees could also cut Rodriguez and end this circus entirely, even though they will have to pay Rodriguez $61 million just to go away.

For the interest of the ball club, the best decision for the Yankees is to find a way to prevent Rodriguez from coming to camp all together. Even if he is in the minor league facility, he is still present at camp, and the media circus will come with him. This will undoubtably create a negative and distracting atmosphere in camp something the players will not enjoy.

Rodriguez is typically selfish. He wants to come to camp just to prove a point that he is "innocent," when we all know just the opposite.

The Yankees could have their players talk Rodriguez out of coming to Spring Training, but that is just delaying the inevitable.

Maybe it is just time for the Yankees to cut ties. With the amount of money this team spends on free agents, $61 million to buy out Rodriguez is drop in the bucket for the Steinbrenner's. While, the Yankees are free to do their due diligence, cutting Rodriguez is the best solution to ALL of their problems.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Alex Rodriguez Suspended for 162 games and Playoffs

Today should not be a day that lives in infamy in the world of the New York Yankees. Instead, today should be a day that is celebrated among not only Yankees fans, but baseball fans in general.

Alex Rodriguez, one of the game's biggest stars and even bigger liars had the hammer drop on him, his ego, and his case that MLB is trying to sabotage his career, when arbitrator Fredrick Horowitz suspended A-Rod for the entire 2014 season.

Rodriguez cannot appear for Spring Training, unless he gets an invite from the Yankees (which is not likely now), and will have no part in any postseason activities for the Yankees.

The only thing Rodriguez can do is send this case to federal court with the hope he can receive an injunction so he can attend Spring Training and play baseball this year. The chances of that happening are extremely thin. Rodriguez may have played his last game in pinstripes.

Initially a 211 game ban, Rodriguez's pending suspension became a front page drama for months after the third baseman decided to appeal the ban levied by Major League Baseball. MLB did its homework. They investigated carefully into the story that broke last winter about the Biogenesis lab that not only supplied Rodriguez, but countless other baseball stars.

Once Anthony Bosch, the man behind the lab provided MLB documentation that Rodriguez was indeed a huge client of his, it was over for A-Rod.

Rodriguez tried to make the case that MLB set him up, claiming that the $125,000 baseball paid Bosch to give them documentation was personal witch-hunt by Bud Selieg. Rodriguez continued to pronounce his innocence to the point he walked out of his own hearing because Selieg was not present. Fact is, Selieg didn't have to be there. Rodriguez didn't have to be there either.

A-Rod then made a mad dash to Mike Francesa to plead his innocence in an attempt to paint himself as a victim. While Rodriguez won Francesa's support, he didn't win anyone else's.

Rodriguez is a liar and a cheat. He deserves to be suspended for the entire 2014 season. He cheated the game through much of his career, in addition to becoming a major headache for the Yankees since the day he arrived in pinstripes.

During a Yankees press conference in 2009, A-Rod admitted that he took steroids with the Rangers in 2003, but had been clean ever since. Of course those claims were proven to be false with the biogenesis breakthrough. The only thing Rodriguez has accomplished in his career other than coming up small in the postseason, and other than flirting with countless women in the Yankee Stadium stands, is lying.

His time with the Yankees is likely over. New York is off the hook for the $25 million they owe him in 2014. However, they still owe him $61 million in the final three years of the deal from 2015-17.

With Rodriguez off the books for this year, the Yankees will still have to pay a small luxury tax penalty for A-Rod, but now they can go back and think about adding more pieces to the 2014 roster, most notably Japanese pitcher Mashairo Tanaka.

Alex Rodriguez found a believer in Mike Francesa.
Tanaka went 24-0 in Japan last year, and is only 25-years-old. However, he is commanding a contract in the neighborhood of $100 million or more, so adding him would really put the Yankees on the brink of their prized $189 million threshold. If A-Rod were still around, the Yankees would have no shot at Tanaka. Now they have a still slim but better chance.

As for third base, expect the Yankees to explore signing a free agent like Stephen Drew or even Mark Reynolds to play the position. They already have Kelly Johnson aboard, who would be the starting third baseman if the Yankees played today.

While losing Rodriguez means the Yankees lose a big name in the middle of their order, it is now an opportunity for someone else to step up and make an impact. Who is to say this can't be fun for the Yankees? The Yankees have done well in the past without a superstar third baseman. They succeeded quite well with the likes of Scott Brosius and Aaron Boone before Rodriguez ever came to town. It can happen again.

Finally, if A-Rod thinks he has a future beyond 2014, he can forget it. Nobody in their right mind will want a 40-year-old hack, who is a cheat, loser and whiner. The Yankees can cut ties with him in 2015, but they will have to eat the rest of his contract to do so. I'm sure Brian Cashman, Randy Levine and company won't mind if it means getting rid of A-Rod forever.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine Make HOF; Mike Piazza Does Not

Perhaps if Mike Piazza wants to make it to the Hall of Fame, he has to pull a page out of Frank Thomas' playbook to get in.

As has been the case, and will be the case for years to come, the issue regarding steroids in baseball will come to forefront for every Hall of Fame election. The players who dominated baseball primarily in the 1990s are all retired, and are all up for consideration into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Yet thanks to the likes of Bonds, Sosa, McGuire, Clemens, and Palmiero -- any and all players from this era are subject to witch hunts, speculation and questions about whether they too took steroids. It seems that the court of public opinion has ruled these men guilty without any proof.

So how is that Frank Thomas, a former designated hitter with the Chicago White Sox, who hit .301 in his career with 521 home runs and 1704 RBI gets into the Hall, while Piazza, who owns a lifetime .308 average, 427 homers and 1335 RBI does not get in?

Both of them played in the same era. Both of them have never tested positively for steroids.

Yet, Thomas is presumed innocent by the baseball writers. Piazza? Guilty as sin.

Why?

Because Thomas played nice with the media and Major League Baseball. He condemned steroids before anyone else did. Dating back as far as 1995, Thomas was outspoken against steroids. In 2002 he was even quoted in a Sports Illustrated story as saying that there should be stronger testing for drugs in baseball.

  • "I think they should test everybody, and that would be it. Draw the blood. I hate this because I know what it takes to get to this level, all the hard work.''
  • "When I played football in college (Auburn), a lot of guys were using them. I saw what they did. They change your whole personality, they make you an animal.'' (SouthsideSox)
In 2005, Thomas willingly testified in front of congress denouncing steroids, and stating that he never took them. He had his supportors who used the fact that Thomas was always a big guy and didn't need drugs to enhance his performance. So By playing nice with the feds and the media, and never testing positive, he is innocent.

Thomas continued his hard stance on roids after accepting invitation into Cooperstown, stating that anyone who used PEDs should "never" be allowed into the Hall of Fame.

Piazza on the other hand? No chance. Remember that Piazza has never tested positive for steroids either, but since he was silent on the issue for much of his career, and whenever pressed about the subject, he quickly denied using it has created suspicion.

Rightly or wrongly, Piazza is not getting into Cooperstown because the writers feel that there is something that he and others like Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are hiding.

Here is the problem for the baseball writers: eventually all of them, even the guys we know did steroids are going to get in.

Clemens and Bonds were great players before they ever dipped into steroids.

Bagwell and Biggio were two dominant forces on the Astros teams in the late 90s and early 00s.

Piazza was easily the best hitting catcher in history. He was known for epic moments, and clutch hits throughout his career, especially with the Dodgers and Mets. He deserves to get in, inspite of the suspicion.

The bias by the writers is about as shady as the users themselves. It makes the baseball hall of fame look more like a popularity contest than an actual shrine to best to ever play the game. Piazza deserves to get in, hopefully wiser heads will prevail in 2015.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Kevin Gilbride Retires as Giants OC

Instead of getting fired by the Giants, Kevin Gilbride decided to retire.

The news comes off the heals of owner John Mara saying that the offense was broken, and demanded changes to the unit, specifically with offensive coordinator.

"Kevin Gibride is an excellent football coach and communicator, head coach Tom Coughlin said on WFAN on Friday, who reiterated that Gibride was not forced out. "He's a much better coach in terms of preparing his pass protection unit than people give him credit. He has made his mark on this organization. Kevin talked about this a bit in the past. He and his wife have a place up in Rhode Island. He made the decision to have this as his last year."

Whatever the real reason behind this move, the Giants offense was putrid this year. They were 28th in total offense, and Eli Manning had arguably the worst year of his career, leading the league in interceptions with 27.

While Gilbride can't throw the passes, and can't them either, someone had to take the blame for this units downfall.

Rumors are the Giants will pursue former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator, Mike Sullivan, once a Giants assistant in his own right, as the new offensive coordinator. He is expected to interview soon.