Archive for October, 2010

Falling Star…Is the Season Over for the Dallas Cowboys?

Last Sunday, NY Giants linebacker Michael Boley sacked Dallas Cowboy QB Tony Romo early in the second quarter, driving his left shoulder into the ground.  Romo suffered a broken left clavicle and it appears he will be out for at least 8 weeks, if not the entire season.  For a team that was 1-4 before last week’s game, the injury to Romo is devastating and will make it nearly impossible for the Cowboys to salvage this season.

So what happened to America’s Team?  The Cowboys entered this season as a Super Bowl favorite.  Most sports analysts affirm that the Cowboys have the most talented roster in the NFL, yet their performance has been abysmal. 

The Cowboys have played sloppy, undisciplined football these past few weeks.  Penalties, mistakes and an apparent lack of enthusiasm seem to characterize this team.  Why does a team that has appeared in 8 Super Bowls, more than any other team in the NFL, seem to be so unmotivated? 

Perhaps the problem lies at the top.  Team owner Jerry Jones perceives himself as a football expert and his enormous ego leaves no room for a coach who can outshine him.  Jones is a “hands on” owner and Head Coach Wade Phillips is just the kind of weak pawn Jones can use in his life size game of chess.    

A headstrong, opinionated coach takes the spotlight and control away from Jerry Jones and, in the end, it really does seem to be all about him.  In the 1990s, Jimmy Johnson coached the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories and was responsible for some of the best draft picks and trades in NFL history.  Johnson left the Cowboys after he and Jones simply could not work together, due in large part to Jones’ insistence on so much control in the day to day coaching aspects of the organization.

One thing is for certain, the Cowboys are now facing a much more difficult challenge since Romo’s injury.  With the trade deadline passed, Dallas must rely on backup QB Jon Kitna to lead the offense.  Is it just me, or is it absolutely shocking that the 38 year old Kitna is the backup QB on a team as prestigious as the Cowboys?! 

Kitna came into the Giants game last Sunday and seemed totally unprepared and overwhelmed.  Isn’t it his JOB to be ready to go into the game at a moment’s notice? A quality, heads-up coach would not have a QB the caliber of Kitna as their backup.  Sorry, but there is simply no excuse for it!

Today the Cowboys face the 3-4 Jacksonville Jaguars at home.  The Jaguars defense has been struggling, especially against the rush.  But the Cowboys haven’t had an effective rushing game this season, so in all likelihood, the Jags will be able to control this part of the game.  This means Kitna will be forced to throw the ball to his very capable receivers.  The problem is Kitna’s tendency to drop back deep to pass.  Expect the Jaguars to aggressively pass rush and hit Kitna hard and often to rattle the backup and give the Jags a victory.

It seems unlikely that the 1-5 Cowboys can make the playoffs.  So at this point, they need to look to next season and the future of the organization.  Will Jerry Jones be able to put his ego aside and hire a new coach capable of instilling discipline and motivation to this very talented roster?  Or will his thirst for fame make it impossible for him to give up control of the team to someone who is more knowledgeable about the game? 

This year’s Super Bowl will be held at Jones’ new, beloved Cowboys Stadium.  Jerry Jones will be relegated to spectator, rather than participant, despite all the predictions his team would be playing for the championship.  This humiliation alone may be enough to force Jones to hire a more capable coach who can do the things necessary to start winning. 

The injury to Romo cannot be used as an excuse the rest of this season for poor performance by the Cowboys.  That was happening long before the loss of Romo.  Instead, the Cowboys need to use the injury as a wakeup call and make the organizational changes that will allow this gifted roster to continue the winning tradition.  It is time for Jones to bring the Cowboys back to their “America’s Team” status.

Advertisements

Costumes Are Not Just For Halloween…

Halloween falls on Sunday this year, which means a whole weekend of Halloween festivities!  At a party last night, I saw some imaginative and original costumes, as well as the same tried and true get ups that never seem to lose popularity.  There were countless Jersey Shore characters, Lady Gagas, and other pop icons, including some Chilean miners who were oh-so-happy to be above ground!

As I sit here watching college football today, I am reminded that avid football fans don’t need Halloween as an excuse to get creative with their appearance!  Each week, fans paint their faces, wear brightly colored wigs and dress in all kinds of crazy garb!  In honor of Halloween, we decided to highlight three of our favorites!

Penn State is notorious for its loyal fans.  Beaver Stadium consistently hosts over 110,000 screaming Nittany Lions and annually holds the “White Out” where fans are encouraged to show their team pride by dressing in white.  The aerial shots are a sight to behold as the ENTIRE stadium is blanketed in all white, except for the senior student section, which forms a giant blue letter S! 

This group of dedicated fans appears at every game and is one of our very favorite examples of passionate Penn Staters!

                                                                      

Another favorite of ours is New York Jets devotee, Fireman Ed.  Since 1986 this REAL NYC FIREFIGHTER has been leading the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets chant.  His “costume” is not outrageous or crazy, but we do admire his fanaticism for Gang Green!

The Hogettes, a group of 12 men who wear ladies dresses, hats and wigs are some of the most famous fans in football today!  The Hogettes wear pig snouts in honor of the nickname, “The Hogs” given to Washington Redskins offensive line players.  What is most impressive about this group of fans is their work outside of the game.  The Hogettes have raised over 100 million dollars for charities like the Children’s Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House and more!  Fans like the Hogettes are a great example of the good that can come about through sports and we applaud their incredible selflessness and generosity.

As a football fanatic, you don’t have to wait until Halloween to wear a costume.  Strap on a silly wig, dip yourself in body paint and head to the game!

Mischief Night at the Coliseum

Tomorrow night, on the eve of Halloween, the USC Trojans host the number one ranked (AP poll), undefeated Oregon Ducks. On an evening known for Halloween mischief, can the Trojans pull off a trick and regain some of their lost stature and respect? 

We think this will be a close game, but Oregon’s offense, ranked number one nationally, gives the Ducks the advantage.  Oregon QB Darron Thomas has over 1500 yards passing and 17 touchdowns this season. USC’s defense ranks 112th nationally against the pass and could have a very long night with Thomas’ ability to score quickly.  Oregon has 14 TD drives lasting less than one minute so far this season!  Now that’s FAST scoring! 

The Duck’s greatest offensive weapon may be Heisman hopeful LaMichael James.  As college football’s leading rusher, he is averaging 161 yards a game.  At only 5’ 9 “and 185 pounds, his size is deceiving.  He is shifty, elusive and fast, but also drives through defenders with his shoulder down as if he’s Brandon Jacobs.  The Trojan defense has been plagued with injuries and the secondary is a young, inexperienced group.  So expect James to produce big numbers against the Trojans and be a key factor in their win.

USC is 5-2 this season, with its 2 losses coming on last second field goals.  The Trojans are not used to being the underdog and will not go down without a tough fight.  With a home crowd, the presence of ESPN GameDay and a chip on their shoulder from having to endure recruiting scandals and a two-year bowl ban, an upset is not out of the question.

Besides trying to slow down Oregon’s fast spread-option offense, what can USC do to create some mischief and hand the Ducks a trick, rather than a treat?  The Trojan offense needs to score! USC QB Matt Barkley is playing at a high level right now and has eliminated the interceptions he threw early in the season.  Since Oregon’s offense scores so quickly, their defense is vulnerable to getting tired. If USC can control the pace of the game on the offensive side, it may be able to keep up with the high scoring ability of the Ducks.

On the night before Halloween, we expect a whole sack of treats from these two talented Pac-10 rivals. Game time is 8 PM EST at the Los Angeles Coliseum and will be broadcast nationwide on ABC.  Will this prove to be “fright night” for the Ducks? We don’t think so.  We expect a high scoring game, with Oregon clinching the conference title and heading to a BCS title game in January.  If you are an Oregon fan, that is indeed a very sweet treat!

Gridiron on the Go? APPS – olutely!

Football fanatics can satisfy their desire for the latest NCAA or NFL scores, news, fantasy team info and more with the many popular mobile apps that are available today.  Some are specific to your mobile service provider, so we have chosen 3 providers and reviewed some of our favorites.

Verizon Wireless:

NFL Mobile – Verizon is the NFL’s exclusive mobile media and wireless provider. The NFL Mobile app offers the latest news, scores and stats.  You can customize the app to follow your favorite teams and on Sunday and Thursday nights, you can watch NFL games live!  There are live audio broadcasts for all the regular season NFL games.   There’s also an optional premium video subscription for live coverage from the NFL Network and NFL RedZone, as well as video on demand.

AT&T:

NCAA Football Fan Zone – AT&T’s iPhone offers this free app that offers live NCAA football scores and the latest news.  One unique facet of this app is the social interaction it permits.  Users can join discussion groups and even upload photos to share with others.  Perhaps the coolest feature of this mobile app is that AT&T joins the discussion groups together for Division I games.  So, if you are in a Penn State group and they are playing Ohio State that weekend, all postings in both discussion groups would be visible to the opposing group, creating some lively interaction among fans!

 

Sprint:

Sprint Football Live – When the NFL made their exclusive wireless deal with Verizon, Sprint announced their own mobile version.  Unfortunately, there are no live NFL games, but the app does offer scoring updates and breaking news.  If you are a Fighting Irish fan, then this app is for you!  All Notre Dame home games are available live.  Other college games are available from ESPN Mobile TV.    There are team pages and a twitter feature to help you keep up with your favorite player’s latest tweets!  This app is free with a data plan on most Sprint phones.

These are just a few of the many great apps available that allow the “girl on the go” to keep up with all the latest happenings on the gridiron!  Who says you have to be a couch potato to enjoy a good football game?  With these great apps, you can take the game with you wherever you are!

Is the NFL the No Fun League?

I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I love football is because of the excitement and intensity.  I love the hard hits from the aggressive, “will not be denied” linebacker…the unyielding running back dragging along a pile of defenders as he struggles for a few more yards…the beautiful finesse a wide receiver demonstrates as he leaps to make a catch, yet manages to keep his feet just inside the sideline.  Another thing I love about football?  The celebrations players make when they score or make an amazing play.

The NFL has apparently forgotten that football is a GAME.  It is entertainment.  Guidelines and rules are necessary in any sport, but penalties for excessive celebration? Obviously actions deemed vulgar should be penalized, but celebrations?  What is next, banning cheerleaders from being too spirited?  Or maybe the next step will involve a bill before Congress that bans tailgating?

Last December, NFL owners voted 29-3 to penalize teams 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff for excessive celebrations.  What constitutes excessive is not clearly defined and seems to be at the discretion of the referees. 

One particular act, “celebrating while on the ground” is clearly addressed.  Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) of the NFL Rule Book states that “players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground.   Demonstrations of this kind by any player will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (loss of 15 yards) and are subject to potential fines”.  Is it me, or is that just plain silly?

 The most recent example of the absurdity of this penalty occurred October 10th in a Dallas versus Titans game.  Dallas TE Jason Witten scored a fourth quarter touchdown, resulting in a 27-27 tie.  Witten handed the ball to Offensive Lineman, Marc Columbo, who spiked the ball as he had a number of times before.  Curiously, acts like spiking the ball, spinning, dancing and other “simple celebrations” are permitted by the NFL.  Columbo and Witten then performed a chest bump (also permitted), but the 300 pound Columbo lost his balance and fell backwards on to the ground.  The referee threw the penalty flag for excessive celebration simply because he made contact with the ground!

The 15 yard penalty was assessed on the ensuing kickoff and the Cowboys had to kick from their own 15 yard line.  Titans rookie Marc Mariani returned the kickoff 73 yards to set up the touchdown that would give the Titans the win.  When a penalty like this changes the outcome of the game, it is time to reevaluate the rule.  I highly doubt the NFL feels the same way.  If anything, they appear to be trying to make the rules more stringent and restrict celebrations even more.

The days of T.O. and his harmless (and very funny!) celebratory antics are long gone.  Will we ever see a player pull out a cell phone from the goal posts after a TD again?  It is unlikely.  Love them or hate them, it is hard to argue that flamboyant players like T.O. or Ochocinco help entertain us.  Isn’t that the point?

For years, Vikings All-Pro Defensive End Jared Allen has performed a “calf roping” act after sacking an opponent.  He gets down on one knee, pretends to rope a calf and then throws his arms in the air.   Recently the NFL informed Allen that the team will be penalized and he may face a fine if he performs his “calf roping” again.  Why the change now?  Apparently the NFL is enforcing their rule against celebrating “while on the ground” and Allen’s knee is indeed on the ground!

Look at the sports headlines and you can see there are SERIOUS issues among players, like off the field illegal behavior, for example.   Is it really necessary to sterilize the game by enforcing such a petty rule about celebrations?!  At a time when unemployment numbers are dismal and the future seems a bit uncertain, fans look to sports for an escape from everyday life.  The NFL needs to remember their role is to entertain.  They need to permit players to show a bit of harmless personality and emotion.  Unless the NFL wants to be thought of as the “No Fun League”, it‘s time for them to relax some of their silly restrictions and let the on field celebrations, excessive or otherwise, begin!

BELIEVE!

On October 16, Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand suffered a spinal cord injury as he made a tackle on the kickoff return.   LeGrand, a junior and New Jersey native, is currently at Hackensack University Medical Center.  He suffered a C3-C4 level injury during the game vs. Army.  The latest medical update is that Eric remains in intensive care and has no movement below the neck.

There has been an enormous outpouring of support from the Rutgers community and far beyond.  A local sports store, Scarlet Fever, has designed 2 t-shirts in honor of Le Grand with all proceeds going to his family.  Rutgers University has been overwhelmed with requests from individuals and groups throughout the country to offer assistance in any way they can.

Yesterday, the NJ Nets announced a $75,000 donation to the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund”, established by Rutgers to help raise money for Eric and his family.  The $75,000 donation was raised through point guard Devin Harris’ 34 Ways to Assist Foundation, as well as contributions from Nets players, coaches and other staff.

Rutgers players are honoring Eric by wearing “BELIEVE” decals on the front of their helmets for the remainder of the season.  High school players throughout New Jersey are donning “No. 52” helmet stickers, Eric’s Rutgers number.  The sports company, Riddell, is donating approximately 16,000 of the decals for every single high school player in the state.

 A prayer healing service will be held tomorrow night at 7:30 pm at St. Andrew’s Church, 244 Avenel Street in Woodbridge, NJ, near the family’s home.  This service, along with numerous other services and vigils, will hopefully bring support and love to Eric and his family during this very difficult time.  Like the Rutgers football family, let us all keep Eric in our thoughts and BELIEVE in his recovery from this tragic injury.

Donations to the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund can be made by sending a check payable to the:

Eric LeGrand Believe Fund
PNC Wealth Management
Att: Kimberly G. Kingsland, Senior Trust Advisor
One Palmer Square Suite 201
Princeton, NJ 08542

Donations are only accepted by check at this time, but in the future an online payment option may be set up.  Gridironglamourgirl will post the link when it is available.

Has Playing Fantasy Football Turned Me Into a Traitor?

Today I went outlet shopping and picked up some great deals at the Michael Kors store.  My most prized purchases, though, were discovered at the Reebok outlet.  They had an amazing sale on NFL Jerseys and other apparel.  I snagged a DeSean Jackson jersey, an Ahmad Bradshaw jersey and a Michael Vick t-shirt.

The cashier, a young guy donning an Ochocinco jersey, asked if I wanted gift receipts.  I smiled back and explained that, in fact, they were all for me!  With a puzzled look, he asked how I could be a fan of two teams like the Giants AND the Eagles, given they are such huge rivals.  Fantasy football – was my two word response. He nodded, mumbled something about how fantasy games are destroying team loyalty, and bagged my jerseys.

As I left the store, I thought about the cashier, whom I presume has never even tried out a fantasy league!  Fantasy football definitely changed my way of watching games, but did it turn me into a disloyal traitor?  Before joining a fantasy league, I was basically a Giants fan who was mildly interested in one or two other teams.  But once I assembled my fantasy team, The Blonde Side, I started following the players on my roster and even those of my opponents.  Instead of focusing solely on the Giants, fantasy opened up much more of the NFL to me.

Now I watch loads of football games each weekend and Monday night.  If the games are not on TV, I simply keep my fantasy league page open on my laptop and receive live, automatic scoring updates.  If you haven’t experienced this before, watch out!  It is addictive and consuming. 

There are many games where players from my fantasy roster are playing against each other.  Like a yo-yo, I vacillate between cheering on one team and then the other. If there was a hidden camera in my living room, I truly believe the authorities would come and take me away in a straitjacket. 

So what has this done to my loyalty towards the Giants?  I am still a fiercely devoted fan and would never root against them because of my fantasy players.  If being disloyal, however, means acquiring non-Giants on my roster to help me win, then I guess I am guilty.  Being successful in fantasy play requires drafting players based on stats, predictions and talent, NOT making picks based on emotion or loyalty.  In fantasy, strategy and cold-heartedness are the keys to victory!

Driving home from shopping, I wished I had answered the cashier’s grumblings.  But, as always, my come back came much too late!  Maybe I will return to the store and explain that playing fantasy football has actually ENHANCED my loyalty to football overall.  I never had an interest in so many different teams and players before now.  Isn’t that a GOOD thing for the sport?

Tonight’s Monday Night Football game is the Giants versus the Cowboys.  Sure, I may act slightly schizophrenic as I watch my fantasy RB Felix Jones run against the Giant defense, but in the end, I still desire a Giant’s victory.  My passion for the Giants far outweighs my desire for Felix Jones to get me a lot of points tonight. So for the sports store cashiers and other naysayers who believe fantasy football is destroying team loyalty, I say they are just plain WRONG!  

%d bloggers like this: