Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NFL Power Rankings: Week 13


Popular Patriots and Withering Washington

1. New England Patriots - The Patriot's 7-game winning streak should speak for itself, but if it doesn't, their margin of victory (+140) in those 7 games sure does.

2. Green Bay Packers - The only player that might be hotter than Brady at this point is Aaron Rodgers. Their match-up this Sunday should be one for the ages.

3. Dallas Cowboys - As much as I despise the Cowboys, they deserve this spot more than any team below them. Dez Bryant and Demarco Murray have swiftly become the most prolific weapons in the NFC.

4. Denver Broncos - Peyton Manning is having another outstanding season, but the Broncos are in the midst of a bit of a slump as a team. Their defense is failing them on a more consistent basis, but look for an all out assault against the Chiefs on Prime Time.

5. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton look to be a QB-WR combination for years to come, especially with Hilton treating Luck passes as his own children.

6. Philadelphia Eagles - As much as I would love to drop any Butt Fumble-led team out of the top ten, Chip Kelly's offense put on a show this past week and earned their ranking.

7. Arizona Cardinals - This team is sliding and fast. Without Carson Palmer, I have a hard time believing they can still win this division. At least they still have the most gifted corner in the NFL, Patrick Peterson.

8. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers typically play well for 8 games, and terrible for 8 games. We're 10 games in and their 7-4, so they are due for a 9-7 stumble to the finish line.

9. San Francisco 49ers - Although the 49ers are having locker room issues and winning close games against bad teams, they are winning nonetheless, and the winner of this week's match-up will go to the playoffs.

10. Seattle Seahawks - Given the disarray following the trade of Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch's antics, the Seahawks are in good shape. This week will be huge in deciding their future.

11. Detroit Lions - Very surprised that Stafford's production has not took off since the return of Calvin Johnson, but look for their offense to return to form against the Bears this week.

12. Cleveland Browns - The return of Josh Gordon came at the right time for the Browns. The end of the season is near, and his production on the outside helps out everyone on offense. I see playoffs in their future.

13. Cincinnati Bengals - Tough schedule coming up for the Bengals, as each of their last 4 games are against teams above .500. The tie gives them a chance to sneak in at 9-6-1, but I wouldn't bet on it.

14. Baltimore Ravens - Steve Smith Sr. has lit a fire under this team with his spirit, and I expect it to carry them into the postseason.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - They were up and down before the bye week, and I expect more the same from this mediocre Steeler's squad.

16. Kansas City Chiefs - A loss to the 0-10 Oakland Raiders is disgraceful. Lucky to be this high.

17. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins put up their best effort against the Broncos, but allowing such a comeback is devastating to a team's momentum.

18. Buffalo Bills - The Bills are trending upward, and that 35 point win against the Jets shows their upside as an explosive team.

19. Atlanta Falcons - It is truly confounding that a team led by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White continues to struggle. This same offense dominated the league for Ryan's first 5 years in the league.

20. New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees leaves it all on the field, but this team does not have the weapons it had when it went to the Super Bowl a few years ago.

21. Chicago Bears - The defense is terrible, Cutler isn't much better, and they will be eliminated from the playoff picture after a loss at Ford Field on Thursday.

22. St. Louis Rams - Austin Davis has come back to Earth, but they continue to fight, to no avail.

23. Houston Texans - Ryan Mallett is out for the season after making only two starts. So much for that.

24. Carolina Panthers - As bad as the Panthers are, they are only a half game out of the division lead. Wow.

25. Minnesota Vikings - After hanging with the Packers this week, many Vikings fans are hoping to tank the rest of this season to bring in a top draft pick and a healthy Adrian Peterson in 2015.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Gerald McCoy, Lavonte Davis, and Mike Evans continue to excel, while the rest of the team fails miserably every single week.

27. New York Giants - Odell Beckham Jr. is a bright spot for the G-Men, and this outstanding catch is already being nominated for an ESPY Award by people on social media, as well as being memed by the internet comics of the world.

28. New York Jets - The only thing worse than a 35 point loss to the Bills on the road would be a 35 point loss to the Bills in a neutral site game. Wait...

29. Oakland Raiders - "Act like you've been there before." Unless you haven't. Congrats Oakland, and may the 1st overall draft pick be ever in your city.

30. Tennessee Titans - Zach Mettenberger is showing promise, but the team needs to get worse before it gets better.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars - The joke of the league all year, but they can only hope for a high draft pick and the return of Justin Blackmon next season.

32. Washington Redskins - RG III is a shell of his old self. Fans are clamoring for this guy to be the starter. The defense is an inconsistent mess. With that, the press conferences are the biggest debacles of all.

Lock of the Week

Denver Broncos (-2) at the Kansas City Chiefs  

With Denver coming off a comeback win over the Dolphins, expect their offense to continue the momentum they built in the second half and destroy the Chiefs. Kansas City just lost to the 0-10 Raiders, and they have to travel to Arizona next week. Look for the Chiefs to take this loss on the chin and dominate the Cardinals in Week 14.

Fantasy Plays of the Week

QB Matthew Stafford - The Chicago Bears have allowed 50+ points multiple times this season, and I expect for more of the same at Detroit on Thanksgiving.

RB CJ Anderson - Anderson has come on recently as a leader in the backfield for the Broncos.

RB Tre Mason - Mason is trending upward and is playing against a horrible rushing defense in the Raiders this week.

WR Martavis Bryant - In 5 games this season, Bryant has scored 6 touchdowns. Expect him to score again this week.

WR Mohamed Sanu - Sanu is the leading receiver for the Bengals this season, and will exploit the Buccaneers defense on Sunday.

TE Jason Witten - He has been quiet all season, but expect him to make some splash plays with a  Thanksgiving Day game against a division rival with a weak defense.

DEF Giants Defense - They are playing against the Jaguars. Nuff Said.

Monday, October 6, 2014

NFL Week 5: The WASPS Strike Back

Abdullah praying in the end zone in the Week 4 match-up vs. New England

Just when you thought that the NFL could not have any more issues, a referee penalized a player in the process of a harmless religious act.

Husain Abdullah was ostensibly penalized for practicing Sajdah, an Islamic prayer, on the football field last Monday. The NFL would like the general public to believe: 

         1. According to Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) of the NFL Rulebook, "Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground." 

         2. They penalized him not because he prayed, but because he did so while the ground. 

         3. They are justified in their decision, but wish to set a precedence in the future that there is an exception for religious praises.

To think that a league where minorities are a majority could be so lacking in cultural competency is mind-boggling. Chris Kluwe is sued the Vikings because he believes he was cut for his views on gay marriage, Michael Sam enters the league and other players began to verbally attack him because of his sexual orientation even before the NFL Draft, Ray Rice knocks out his wife and the league (allegedly) attempts to hide the details and give him a slap on the wrist, and now they have made waves again with this display of ignorance.

In this context, a WASP is a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or the defining characteristics of the American majority. The NFL is being run by a front office and a group of owners that for the most part fit into this category, and consequentially suffer from a lack of diverse opinions. Group Think. Nobody offers dissenting opinions, nobody deviates from the norm, nobody dares to disrupt the black and white box that they have stayed inside since the league was integrated. 

America is a melting pot of such a variety of cultures that it extends into all walks of life: including athletics. With such a minority presence in the league, this governing body is unrepresentative of its population, and unfit to lead such a league. Abdullah has been outspoken about his faith since entering the league in 2008, notably observing fasting during Ramadan although it occasionally falls during the NFL Season. In addition to that, him and his brother Hamza sat out the entire 2012-13 season and made their Hajj to Mecca, one of the Pillars of Islam. 

A popular comparison of the past week has been that of Tim Tebow, his devout Christianity, and the way he pushed his own faith unto the league. With his bible verse eye-paint (since outlawed by the NCAA) and constant references to his lord and saviour, his faith became the feel-good story of the NFL in 2011 as he miraculously won games with an unconventional throwing motion and utter lack of passing accuracy. 
Tim Tebow "Tebowing" on the sideline of a Broncos game in 2011

However, although Tebow (theoretically speaking) forced his religious views onto us, there are no incidents of Touchdown Celebrations in which the infamous "Tebowing" occurred. In all situations, such was done on the sidelines, or before and after games, at times or places where players are far less likely to be penalized. Additionally, as the NFL and Abdullah himself have stated, the new touchdown celebration rules prohibit sliding to the ground as a form of celebrating. In the words of Abdullah, "Stop before you drop."

In fact, the incident here is not a problem of outright prejudice at all, but one of ignorance. The NFL is ignorant to the major social justice issues that surround every decision they make, whether it is gay rights, domestic violence, or freedom of expression. Gone are the days where football is a world of its own. TV Contracts, Facebook, Twitter, and an ever growing fan-base have turned athletes into social media starlets. 

A 30 second interview with Richard Sherman last winter sparked a debate about the portrayal of African-Americans in the media that lasted weeks. Michael Sam agreed to do a documentary with the Oprah Winfrey Network before he even set foot in an NFL Locker Room. The scope of the NFL is limitless, and the league has to realize that they cannot continue to do things they way they have in the past.

Sidenote: NFL Power Rankings. We are a third of the way through the season and nobody is creating separation in the divisional races.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Derek Jeter: The Athlete, The Man, The Legend

My Fellow Americans, 

Derek Jeter's illustrious career as a New York Yankee is finally coming to an end.

22 years ago, he was an upstart high school graduate out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Now, he is the Captain. He is Mr. Clutch. He is the shining light of a generation marred by steroid abusers.

Last was the night: Jeter's last home game. Fans purchased tickets for the game at an average price of over $400. In true Jeter fashion, he made the game-winning hit with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th inning. Despite the celebration of his final year by JORDAN Brand, Gatorade, and Sports fans around the country, many experts are skeptic of his role as the pre-eminent baseball player of the past two decades.

Career Statistics

Derek Jeter's Rookie Baseball Card

Derek Jeter's statistics rival those of any player to ever set foot on the field. What he lacks in power numbers, he makes up for in batting average and field numbers. Over the course of his career, Jeter has hit .309 from behind the plate, with career highs of  .349 and .343 in 2000 and 2006, respectively. To put that in context, he is better than Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle in that category. His 3,463 career hits are good for 6th all-time in Major League Baseball, including a 5-hit masterpiece in 2011 that he concluded with spectacular home run for his 3,000th hit.

On the defensive side of the ball, he has been a masterful shortstop for each of his years in the Major Leagues, and is in the top 20 all-time for putouts and in-field assists at his position. His flawless mechanics and laser rocket arm helped him win 5 Golden Glove Awards as the best Shortstop in the American League.

Behind The Numbers

Being Derek Jeter means more than just being a baseball player, it means being an icon. In a league made up of predominately white and hispanic players, Jeter, a mulatto, has held the heart of the Big Apple for two decades. His "Turn 2" Foundation, a reference to a his inclination to record double plays, works to prevent alcohol and drug abuse by children and teenagers.

His off the field persona is most-widely known as that of a ladykiller, famously giving autographed "swag bags" to each of his partners. Despite having such a reputation, he is revered by men and women alike for his tremendous positive impact on the city of New York.

Mr. November

Before Jeter, there was Reggie Jackson. Jackson won 3 World Series' with the Oakland Athletics ('72-'74), 2 with the Yankees ('77,'78) and was rightfully nicknamed "Mr. October" for his accomplishments in the playoffs.

Jeter entered the fold in 1996 and won the Rookie of the Year Award as well as a World Series Title in his first full season in the majors. Now a 5-Time World Series Champion and World Series MVP, he was dubbed "Mr. November" as a (tip of the cap) to his outstanding play in the Fall Classic, including a MLB Record .351 career World Series batting average in 7 appearances. He is the longest tenured Captain for the New York Yankees, and he is widely considered one of the greatest leaders in all of sports.

"There may be people with more talent you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you - and I believe that." - Derek Jeter

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

No Pain, No Gain: The Myths of Fandom

Clint Malarchuk after having his throat sliced on ice.

On the heels of Brazilian Superstar Neymar's devastating back injury, I'd like us to take a look that the philosophy behind the idea that his absence from the world cup is more important than healing from a broken vertebrae.

Recently, there have been extreme efforts to improve the protection of professional sports players across the world. In football, we see more players than ever wearing preventative knee braces, as well as the league's strict enforcement of helmet to helmet contact rules. In baseball, there is cracking down on steroid abuse and a push to stop the use of chewing tobacco during games. In basketball, more flagrant fouls than ever are being awarded because of the new 'Flagrant 1' and 'Flagrant 2' rules.

Many Americans have sought to complain about the new ideologies taking over the sports world, citing the common notion that 'back in the day' was much better than the current day, because players today are not as physical as they were in previous decades. However, in order to do this, we must dissect the problem with the culture surrounding this idea: Players must put their bodies on the line for the sport they play, anything less is unacceptable, and grounds for replacement.

Myth #1: We are loyal to our players.


New Orleans Saints' fans wearing bags over their faces.

In large part, we treat our athletes as cogs in a system that must be immediately replaced when functionality decreases. Just as soon as there is a slight drop off in a player, we are willing to get rid of them, and yet, we expect them to be unequivocally loyal to our team. Exhibit A: Peyton Manning. From 1998-2010, Peyton Manning did not miss a game for the Indianapolis Colts. He started every game and built a reputation as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

A series of neck surgeries during the summer of 2011 derailed his chances of playing a 14th season with the Colts, the Colts had a horrible season, and proceeded to draft Manning's replacement in the NFL Draft following the season. The Colts released Manning, even though he led them to 7 consecutive 12 win seasons, 2 Super Bowl appearances, and a number of other great memories, including his unmatched ability to audible. Without any definite proof, the front office began to question his ability to recover and decided to move in a different direction, releasing the player that their dynasty was built around. How can we expect players to be loyal to our teams when our teams are not loyal to our players?

Myth #2: We want to protect our players from serious injury.


Jordan being held up by Scottie Pippen while sick during the NBA Finals.

For every great player in this day and age that sits out games because of injury, there is a player from 20-30 years ago that is cited for his toughness, and the fact that he or she played through serious injury. LeBron James has somewhat infamously experienced leg cramps during the NBA Finals on two separate occasions. The first worked out in his favor, as he returned to the game and helped engineer a victory. This year, however, he missed 7 of the last 8 minutes of a finals game that saw a 6 point lead turn into a 15 point deficit in the final quarter.

Overly critical fans compared it to Michael Jordan's "Flu Game", where Jordan scored 38 points despite suffering from an apparent stomach virus in the day leading up to Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. To expect someone with an identifiable physical ailment to prolong pain and risk further injury is absurd.

Myth #3: We care about the livelihoods of our Sports Heroes


Neymar after being injured this past weekend.

Neymar da Silva Santos JĂșnior, going simply by Neymar Jr,  is currently the most famous athlete in Brazil. On Saturday, he broke his lumbar vertebrae in a World Cup Quarterfinal match. The immediate reaction to his injury was appalling to say the least. Fans of other teams immediately disrespected the injury as a flop, and he was later ridiculed by rival fans taking the injury as a laughing matter.

Even many so called fans of the team worried more for Brazil's semifinal game than the health of the number one athlete in their country. Generally speaking, any back injury is a serious injury, and a broken vertebrae in extreme cases can cause paralysis. What is a soccer match to a country that wins cups on a regular basis if a 22 year old athlete must break his vertebrae in the process?

I challenge human philosophy to question what the sports pundits and former athletes tell you. Just because Bo Jackson 'popped his own hip into place' and Willis Reed played with a torn thigh muscle does not mean that players in this day and age should be criticized for exercising with caution, does not mean that we should exploit the hearts and minds of dedicated athletes, and does not give us the right to take advantage of their loyalty to their teams.

Monday, June 30, 2014

To Believe or Not to Believe?

Over the past few weeks, Americans have become enamored with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Unlike ever before, the USA has embraced our national team, setting records on ESPN and Univision in viewers for the USA vs Portugal match last week.

The growing popularity of the sport has led to predictions about its future in America, and whether it has the potential to become one of the top professional sports in America, along with Football, Baseball, and Basketball.

As of now, even the National Hockey League is much more closely followed than Major League Soccer and the European soccer leagues in American households. Some believe that there is a changing of the guard, but I tend to think differently on the matter.

1. The World Cup has grown in popularity because of social media attention.

We see it all the time: events that are popular on social media with hashtags and facebook statuses have more viewers, because it becomes a fad. When it is cool for people to be watching and talking about your sport, the sport will thrive. Right now, the cool thing to do is watch the World Cup and either:

       A. Cheer vehemently against the USA for a team of your choosing (Germany, Brazil, etc.)
       B. Cheer for the US with all your heart and personally attack all dissenters.

2. Olympic Sports are riveting, but I have never considered watching most of those sports otherwise.

The World Cup is the type of polarizing event that is a statistical anomaly. Because it brings the whole world onto one stage, it has the ability as a successful event to garner lots of attention. Once the World Cup ends, the MLS will still be a below average league, and the European leagues will still come on TV during Saturday Morning cartoons.

3. None of the top players are Americans.

At the end of the day, the vast majority of Americans only care about America. We have relative stars: Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, but those guys do not move the needle like the superstars of the game: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, and may other players that countries can stand behind and be proud of year in and year out.

Howard is a great goalkeeper, but keepers are not goal scorers, and that is what draws fan attention. Dempsey had a great run with Fulham in the Premier League, but never played for a top team in the league, and his past his prime as a soccer player. Altidore not only suffered an injury that has kept him out of nearly all of the World Cup, but scored only 1 goal in 30 appearances this past seasonas a striker for Sunderland in the Premier League.

4. We went through a similar situation with the women 15 years ago.

Many believe that Americans would get behind soccer if our team was successful and we had a top player, but even that did not make a difference for Mia Hamm and the 1999 World Cup Champion USWNT. They won in outstanding fashion on penalty kicks with Brandi Chastain ripping off her jersey and celebrating in the true spirit of patriotism. The idea that this would spur on an age of American dominance in soccer was wrong, and domestic interest in the sport has grown only marginally since then.

America will always have trouble bringing soccer into the forefront of American sports, if not for any other reason, because more than any other sport we play, it is not ours. We did not create it, we do not have the best league, we do not have the best players, and we do not have any real history or legacy within the sport to build upon. In fact, we have somewhat of a reputation as perennial losers, especially on the men's side.

Rest assured, we are still very alive in the World Cup, with a match-up against Belgium tomorrow in the round of 16. Additionally, there are young players on the horizon with the ability to change this stereotype, including current national team players like John Brooks, Deandre Yedlin, and Julian Green, as well as teen MLS sensation Diego Fagundez.

The fans are here. The potential is here. We believe that we will win. May the odds be ever in our favor.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

LeBron James is NO Michael Jordan

LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world. Be a witness to his greatness. He is the Chosen One. He is King James. However, he is not, and will never be, Michael Jordan.

LeBron James is a 6'8" 250 lb. power guard. He made his name as a High School phenom attempting to leave school after his junior year at the age of 17. He was the number one pick of the '03 NBA Draft, and an instant success in the NBA, using his size and athletic ability in a unique team-first philosophy not employed by many top players. LeBron was instantly able to make plays that no other player in the NBA could make. He dominates games by drawing attention to himself before dishing the ball off to teammates. His extraordinary efficiency is praised by many, but draws criticism when he fails to be selfish at the end of games. Many believe that this comes from his lack of 'killer instinct' that, at times, is needed to closeout games. 

 LeBron James and his host of awards: Symbolic of his pride in himself.

Mid-way through his career, he decided to "take his talents to South Beach." His move to Miami was opposed from the start, many because they believe he was not doing things 'the right way', others because of this infamous pep-rally. That he did, adding two more MVP awards, bringing his regular season total to 4 overall. Despite having a reputation as a player that does not play well in the post-season, James as fared tremendously well in the playoffs, leading his teams to 5 NBA Finals and winning 2, as well as 2 NBA Finals MVP awards.

Michael Jordan is a 6'6" 216 lb. shooting guard. A product of hard work. He is Air Jordan. His Airness. Many basketball players today strive to be 'Like Mike'. Jordan was cut from the Varsity Basketball team his freshman year of High School, and he will never let any of us forget it. Played up as an underdog, Jordan was coached by the great Dean Smith and hit the game-winning shot in his freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After winning the Naismith Award and playing three years of collegiate basketball, he made the jump to the NBA and was selected 3rd overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1984. While in the NBA, Jordan would battle all-time greats like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, an Isaiah Thomas before building a dynasty in Chicago. He built a reputation as a deadly scorer and a fierce competitor early in his career with epic playoff battles, including "The Shot" he made over Craig Ehlo in 1989.

 Michael Jordan and his first NBA Finals Trophy: Symbolic of his love of the game.

Over the next 10 years, Jordan went on to win three championships, three Finals MVPs, seven scoring titles, and four Most Valuable Player awards. After retiring for personal reasons to pursue a professional baseball career, he returned to the NBA in 1995 to win three more championships, three more finals MVPs, two more league MVPs, and three more scoring titles before again retiring in '98. During a brief management stint with the Washington Wizards, Jordan decided again to come out of retirement and played from '01 to '03 before retiring for good.

The resume's speak for themselves. LeBron James and Michael Jordan are both tremendous players, the best of their respective eras. However, the comparison stops there. LeBron is a straight out of high school player that has never had strong coaching and plays in an age of free agency, in an NBA that has less concentrated power, and has few teams with championship players. Michael, however, played under two of the greatest coaches of all time, battled against many other championship teams, and had an entirely different NBA experience.

LeBron James cannot be Michael Jordan. In fact, he cannot be any of the past great players that everyone wants him to be. Whether it is Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or, of course, MJ, they are all individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. It is natural for us to use past players as a point of reference, but the comparisons are not valid, because each athlete must be treated as an individual with his own physical and mental skill set. Let us allow LeBron to carve out his own legacy in basketball, be his own player, and compare him to the contemporaries that he competes against annually.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sports Dynasties: Dominance & Permanence

Red Auerbach, Celtics Coach & 9-time NBA Champion

As the Heat enter their 4th NBA Finals in as many years, we must first take a minute to bask in the ambiance, understand the greatness of what we are experiencing at the moment. The last team to reach the finals four consecutive years was the Boston Celtics (1984-'87). For a city that has never experienced such consistent success, it is hard for their constituents to comprehend the gravity of their team's accomplishments, and unfortunately situations like this still occur. This is a once (or twice) in a lifetime opportunity, just ask those old Chicago Bulls fans. Only 4 times in the history of the NBA has a team achieved this feat, and we should not expect it to happen again in this city anytime soon.

This Miami Heat are on the verge of transcending the teams of their era and challenging some of the best teams in history. Approaching what we like to call a dynasty. However, I believe we throw this word around too lightly, so I say: What is a dynasty, and are the Miami Heat worthy of such a title?


A sports dynasty, first and foremost, is a team that excels at all forms of the game, and dominates the competition. Moses Malone famously said, "Fo, fo, fo" when asked how his Philadelphia 76ers would fare in the 1983 NBA Playoffs. They went on to go fo, fi, fo and win the championship with a  12-1 playoff record. Dominance is just not just being better your opponents, but making them believe that there is nothing that they could do to defeat you. Demoralizing them. Creating a sense of helplessness. The '96 Chicago Bulls achieved a 72-10 record, one that stands today as the greatest regular season mark in NBA History. From '03-'04, Tom Brady's New England Patriots won 21 consecutive regular season and playoff games. Last year, the Miami Heat won 27 consecutive games, the 2nd longest streak in league history. In addition to the team's accolades, LeBron James himself has won 4 of the NBA's past 6 Most Valuable Player Awards, and a bit more obscure was his run of games shooting over 60 percent from the field while scoring 30+ points. Dominant: Check.


The second part of that statement, is that a dynasty must dominate their league for an extraordinary length of time, creating a feeling of permanence in the hearts of their opponents. Throughout the history of sports, there have been a number of famous dynasties: Joe DiMaggio's New York Yankees won 9 World Series Titles between 1936-'51, Bill Russell's Boston Celtics won 11 NBA Finals between 1957-'69, John Wooden's UCLA Bruins won 10 NCAA Tournament Championships between 1964-'75, and Joe Montana's San Francisco 49ers won 4 Super Bowls between 1981-'89 to name a few. The permanence those teams accrued over the course of their respective decades and the following years propelled them to a status far beyond that of the average champion: Legen -wait for it- dary. Legendary. The Miami Heat have had a good run so far, but 2 titles does not amount to anything out of the ordinary. They must continue to succeed at the same pace for the next 3-5 years in order to be considered a dynasty.


Although what the Miami Heat have done so far is impressive, we must realize that this is basketball, and they have not done anything that has not been done before in their sport, or frankly, anything that does not occur every 5-10 years. In order to be considered a dynasty, your product must be the stuff of legends, meaning your success must be extrapolated over long periods of time. First things first, the finals start this week and they will need to take care of business. However, when it is all said and done, it will be hard to consider the Heat a dynasty if their success does not stretch beyond the average 5 year run of success. Keep in mind, LeBron James came to the NBA straight out of high school, so even though he has been in the NBA for 11 years, he is still only 29 years of age. For a player with his size, skill, athleticism, and durability, there is no telling how many more years he can continue his producing at such a high level.


While reading this post, be sure to get mentally prepared for the 2014 NBA Finals, as it is sure to be epic. What better way to get ready for the first NBA finals rematch since '97-98 than to watch highlights from last season? Remember, the finals are unlike any other series: LeBron James is bound to lose his headband, Danny Green will be unconscious from behind the 3-point line, and at some point or another, you will surely ask yourself if Boris Diaw is the best player on the floor.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

American Sports: A Breeding Ground for Cultural Insensitivity


A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

          Donald Sterling, for all intents and purposes, is a racist. For whatever it is worth, that is something that we can all agree on. If you have not heard it yet, nearly 10 minutes from the hours of audio recorded by Sterling's girlfriend can be heard online at TMZ. The NBA has decided to ban Sterling for life, and is doing all they can to force him to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. Not much else can be done on that front, but that is not the real issue at hand. There is a problem with cultural competency in American Sports and this incident has done nothing but brought the issue into the light for the untrained eye.

Cultural Competency

The ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with persons from cultures and/or belief systems other than one’s own, based on various factors.

          For instance, Native Americans. Besides the fact that the "New World" is one that was stolen from the Native American people, many sports mascots have been named in the spirit of their culture, including names like "Black Hawks", "Chiefs", "Braves" and most notably, the Washington, D.C football franchise. For more than 80 years, the Washington Football team has used a Native American slur to denote their team name, and most recently triedto defy logic by suggesting that it is acceptable to call the football team by this name, although it is derogatory to refer to Native Americans by the same name.


An irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. 

          In an interview with Artie Lange, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver stated, "No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff." This sort of problematic statement is the exact reason that so many professional athletes are unable to feel comfortable in their own skin today. Trapped in the closet for their young adult lives, because people like Culliver say that gay players should, "Wait 10 years later or after that," to come forward with their sexual orientation.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, gender, or sexual orientation. 

          What we as a people fail to realize, is that we are all discriminated against some point in our lives. Some more than most, but everyone nevertheless. The problem with that is that although we experience this and hate it just as much as the next person, we perpetuate it by continuing a culture that supports such actions. There are outliers that see the need to apply the rules of social justice to other people than their own, but most of us fail to do so, and we see it in these examples. When it comes to Donald Sterling, all minorities unite in saying that they cannot support such a hateful person. However, when Daniel Snyder brings in "Chief Zee", an African-American man dressed up as a stereotypical Native American, to support his fight to maintain his team mascot, the only people offended are Native Americans.

The Solution

          The only way for America to go beyond the limitations of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia is for everyone to fight for the rights of all people. Not just on a national level, but as individuals. My family and I use a system of checks and balances, where if anyone of us uses a word that refers to another culture in a derogatory way, we call each other out on it. Its the little things that matter most, and those same things can have the greatest positive effect if we all follow through.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

NFL Season in Review

     This NFL Season has been one of record-breaking proportions, as Bronco's QB Peyton Manning threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, both NFL Records. Additionally, the Denver Broncos broke the record for most points scored in one season with 603 points, and their Kicker Matt Prater made a record-breaking 64 yard field goal earlier in the season. However, aside from Denver's multitude of records, we saw many other outstanding performances in games and over the course of the season. As the year comes to an end, I would first like to summarize my highlights of the regular season.

Tom Brady's Late Game Heroics

     5 times this year, Tom Brady led the Patriots back from a deficit in the 4th Quarter, including wins against the Bills, Texans, Browns, Saints, and last but not least, the Broncos. The most spectacular finish came against the New Orleans Saints, where Brady completed a pass in the back of the end zone between defenders with 5 seconds remaining on the clock, to end the Saints' win streak and undefeated season. Even so, the best part of it all was Scott Zolak's radio call on the last play. The best comeback of the season, and perhaps the best regular season comeback of his career, came against the Denver Broncos, where he led the Patriots back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to win in overtime, 34-31, by throwing for 344 Yards and 3 Touchdowns. His fiery personality and outstanding clutch performances helped the Patriots overcome Gronkowski's injury woes, Danny Amendola's concussion problems, and Aaron Hernandez' summer fiasco to earn a first round bye in the playoffs and finish the regular season with a 12-4 record.

Nick Foles' Unbelievable Improvement

     Some say it is pure luck, some say that it is all because of Eagles first year head coach Chip Kelly, but when its all said and done, all the numbers will be attributed to 2nd year QB Nick Foles. In 13 appearances (10 starts), Foles had a Passer Rating of 119.2 while throwing for 2,891 yards and 27 touchdowns with a only 2 interceptions. In comparison, Foles had a passer rating of 79.1 in his rookie season, and threw for 1,699 yards with 6 Touchdowns and 5 Interceptions in 7 appearances. To put things into perspective, Foles 13.5:1 Touchdown to Interception ratio is unrivaled by any other player in NFL History, with Tom Brady coming the closest at 9:1 in the 2010 season. In addition to that, his passer rating is behind only Aaron Rodgers (122.5) as the 2nd best in NFL history. He even tied the NFL record with 7 passing touchdowns in one game. If Foles continues to on his current trajectory, he could be the best quarterback in the NFL in no time.

Panther's Progress

    The Carolina Panthers showed great promise in the 2013 season, finishing with a record of 12-4, 5 more wins than their previous season. Strides made by a number of players on both ends of the field earned the team 5 Pro Bowlers, including Cam Newton and 2 year linebacker Luke Kuechly. If we are to believe that defense wins championships, then the Panthers are a prime candidate to win this year's Super Bowl, as they are ranked 2nd overall in points allowed, and 2nd overall in total yards allowed.

Horrible Head Coaches

     5 NFL Coaches were fired on "Black Monday" were fired immediately following the end of the regular season: Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland; Jim Schwartz, Detroit; Leslie Frazier, Minnesota; Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay; Mike Shanahan, Washington. Other than Chudzinski, each of these coaches were given legitimate opportunities to win this season, but none of them capitalized. Cleveland does not have a winning personality, Detroit is a non-opportunistic underachiever, Minnesota and Tampa were plagued by bad quarterback play, and Washington's season was ruined by injuries. There are 6 total Vacancies, as Gary Kubiak was fired before the season ended, and it will be very interesting to see how the coaching carousel plays out over the next month or two.

RG III & 13

     Robert Griffin III entered the 2012 season as the most hyped player in the NFL, and he did more than live up to the hype. However, a knee injury derailed his season and offseason, and that rehab was seemingly cut short by preparation for the 2013 season. As the season wore on, the Washington team got off to a 3-6 start, identical to the previous year's start before their 7 game winning streak to finish the season. This year, that was not the case, and as the team continued to lose, Griffin was mocked as RG III and however many losses they had at the time. Unfortunately, they continued to lose and finished the season 3-13, one of the biggest dissappointments of the season.

Now, we all know that the NFL season is indeed composed of three parts: Pre-Season, Regular Season, and Post Season. This post season is shaping up to be one of the finest in recent years, because there is great competition without any clear cut favorites. Each team has a weakness that could potentially be detrimental to their hopes of winning the Super Bowl.

Playoff Power Rankings

1. Broncos - Peyton Manning's playoff woes are undeniable, and his 9-11 playoff record is proof.
2. Patriots - Tom Brady has no pro bowl caliber weapons on offense, and that is a legitimate problem.
3. Seahawks - Percy Harvin may return next week, but without him team's can put 8 in the box to slow down Mr. Beast Mode himself.
4. Panthers - Their inexperience worries me, but there is no arguing that they are not ready for this stage.
5. Packers - The return of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb makes Green Bay a legitimate Super Bowl Contender. Beware of the underdog.
6. Bengals - The Bengals have been content with making the playoffs and losing as of late.
7. 49ers - Super Bowl Jinx does a number on most teams, so be cautious in picking the 49ers to advance.
8. Saints - No running game, but Drew Brees is due for another playoff run.
9. Colts - The injury to Reggie Wayne has left the Colts receiving core lost as of late.
10. Eagles - Foles is hot, but the Eagles have not had the best competition in the NFC East.
11. Chiefs - After losing 5 of their last 7 games, who knows which Kansas City team will show up this week.
12. Chargers - Inconsistency has plagued them not only this season, but since the beginning of the Phillip Rivers era.

Super Bowl Prediction

Before the season started, I picked the Colts to play the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. With the injuries to Percy Harvin and Reggie Wayne I would like to make a new pick, but that would go against all logic. It carries much more weight to choose a team from the start of the season (32 options), than the start of the playoffs (12 options). That being said, I am staying with the Indianapolis Colts as my pick to win Super Bowl XLVIII. This post season holds the opportunity to coronate an Heir to Brady and Manning, and Andrew Luck looks to make the most of it.

P.S. Happy New Year to all of my readers. To celebrate, here are my 13 Most Memorable Sports Moments of 2013:

1. Boston Marathon Bombing.

2. Auburn's 109 yard field goal return vs. Alabama. (Listen to the Radio Call)

3. The Lights go out at the Superdome.

4. With fans leaving the AAA, the Miami Heat score 5 points in 28 seconds and win in OT.

5. Chicago Blackhawks score 2 Goals in 17 seconds to win the Stanley Cup Finals.

6. Miami Heat 27 game win streak.

7. Puigmania takes over baseball; Historic month of June.

8. Biogenesis Scandal and A-Rod's 200+ game suspension.

9. Aaron Hernandez is charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd.

10. Manti Te'O's Girlfriend Hoax.

11. Kevin Ware's compound fracture that shocked the world and inspired a championship.

12. Tiger Woods takes a drop at the Masters; Golfer alerts PGA of broken rule.

13. Oscar Pistorious 'Blade Runner' is charged with the murder of his wife.