Category Archives: Entertainment

SIX free winners for NFL Opening Day? You got it, pal!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I met one of the most talented, creative and humorous guys I had ever known. 22 years later he came to me and asked me if he could try out his hand in writing. I asked him what he knows best, and his response was winning people money. How can I turn that down?

So, Wayniac Nation, welcome if you would my long time friend Jared, the self proclaimed Sportsbook Jesus (I pronounce it Hey Zues because it is simply more fun). He brings you six free picks to try and get your NFL season started off on the right foot. Good luck and

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What is the Sportsbook Jesus feelin’ this week? Keep reading to find out!

A Trip Down Tobacco Road Without Dickie V.

Welcome back Dunton for his first work of 2015 (slacker). Today, as a longtime UNC fan, he looks into life moving forward without Duke enthusiast Dick Vitale behind the mike for the biggest rivalry in college basketball. It’s a new era in college hoops, and someone isn’t happy:

Dunton’s views on Dickie V ahead

The Fantasy Movie Football Team: QBs

Well, folks, Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone out and made some noise yet again in the world of football. Thats for another place and another time, however. We have more important things to discuss.

Last night, Michael Irvin and Cris Carter went round by round in picking their 2015 Fantasy Pro Bowl teams. It’s a great twist on a game that has been rather ho-hum for most of its existence. Maybe we can do the same.

If you have been following Wayniac Nation from day one, you know we like to have some fun. We don’t do things the run-of-the-mill way. Whether it be comparing every horse in the Belmont Stakes to a Batman movie or picking the THE ALL-TIME FICTIONAL HOOPIDITY DOOPITY ALLY OOPITY BASKETBALL MOVIE TEAM (it’s right HERE if you forgot it), we are always trying to have fun.

What we are going to start doing today is “drafting” the All Time Over Inflated Football Movie Roster. The rules will be the same as in the basketball and baseball (if you forgot the baseball team, it’s right HERE). The players have to be fictional. They can’t be actors playing real players in a bio pic, but it can be athletes playing a made up character. Likenesses of real players make the cut, so all of the players in The Replacements (which was loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike) are in play.

What we are going to do differently this time around is put each position to a vote. Normally I would break down each character and pick, but I think it’s time for Wayniac Nation to get involved. So clear your schedule and get your Netflix ready. Today, the Nation will name the greatest fictional Quarterback in movie history!

Onward to the Quarterbacks voting!!!

The WN Fantasy Football Report: Draft Day

This past Sunday, I had my first of three drafts. This one was for the Brookhaven Fantasy Football League (The BFFL) which is run by our own fantasy expert Nomi the Greek, and has all of the members of The Thread and even my fiancé as participants, even though Sperry is on his one year sabbatical. Being that this was the first draft that contained three of our own fantasy experts that brought you MVPs, busts, breakouts and rookies to keep an eye on, I thought I would recap my draft strategy and round by round performance to help guide you for your drafts.

I had the third pick in the draft. My whole goal was to put together a team that can compete for the title by going against the traditional way of thought that you need to grab one of the Big Three running backs with the first three picks.  I think that I did that, however, as anyone who has played fantasy for a long time will tell you, what looks good on paper usually changes about 45 seconds into that first magical Sunday. But that’s why we play, right? Well, that and an excuse to sit at a bar for eight hours every Sunday shoving wings and beer down our throats.

 

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Round One: The picks were, in order: Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoyCALVIN JOHNSON, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Jimmy Graham, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Eddie Lacy, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones and Aaron Rodgers.

I wasn’t surprised at all by who went in Round One, however, the order in which they went was a bit surprising. I thought Brandon Marshall would go in Round One before Julio Jones coming off his injury, but you need to remember, this draft is a bunch of Atlanta Falcons fans. I’m surprised Saucy T didn’t grab Matt Ryan on the comeback!

MY PICK (THIRD): Megatron. Leading up to the draft, I was rather ho hum, I will take whichever of the Big Three running backs landed on me. I was relieved that I didn’t need to make a pick. But then the morning of the draft I asked myself: Self? Do you want the third best running back, or do you want the best wide receiver in the universe? The answer became very clear. Take a look at Megatron’s three year average: 1712 yards, 11 touchdowns and 101 receptions. Not including any bonus systems for long touchdowns or 100 yard games, in a Point Per Reception scoring league, that means Calvin Johnson has averaged 338 points per season over the last three years. That’s ridiculous. I don’t care if they added Golden Tate, I don’t care if Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are receiving threats out of the backfield, and I could care less about the prospects of Eric Ebron stealing red zone targets. It goes Jerry Rice, then Calvin Johnson, end of conversation. If Megatron comes close to his 2012 season this year, we may see a wide receiver go number one sooner than any fantasy nerd imagined.

Round Two: Arian Foster, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, Jordy Nelson, DeMarco Murray, Drew Brees, Julius Thomas, Montee Ball, Antonio Brown and Gio Bernard.

I saw a few surprises in this round. I am a Texan fan through and through, but I think Foster and Andre may have gone a bit too high. I saw them more as a third or fourth round target. They are two aging, injury-riddled players. Then you throw on top of it that they are learning a new offensive system under a new quarterback and head coach, and it may take a few weeks for them to start putting up the points most are used to from them. Based on where Peyton Manning and Rodgers went, I think Drew Brees was a steal for John Smith. Has there been a more consistent QB in NFL history? There have been eight 5,000 yard passing performances in NFL history and four of them belong to Brees including the last three in a row.

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MY PICK (22nd): Montee Ball. This was my dream target and he somehow fell to me. I thought for sure Jon Blalock was going to grab him as a Denver Broncos fan, but he went with Manning’s favorite red zone target instead. Although Orange Julius may be a reach in round two, I get his thought process because he wouldn’t have been there much longer. And it gives me the running back I want. Manning does what he needs to do to get in the end zone, and if that means passing for 99 yards every drive to the one yard line and handing it off to his RB, he’ll do it. I think Ball is poised for a huge season.

Rounds three, four and five:

MY ROUND THREE PICK (27th): Matthew Stafford. I jumped maybe a round early on Stafford, but with the Big Three QBs off the board, I didn’t think he would have been around when I was up 18 picks later. And he wouldn’t have been, as Shane Goode, who grabbed Andrew Luck five picks later said he would have grabbed Stafford first. I have one of the best offensive monsters in football in Megatron and I wanted the hand that feeds him. In his three full seasons in the NFL, Stafford has never thrown for less than 4,500 yards and that is insane. Does his desire to win come into question? Maybe. Does his maturation, or lack thereof, worry some people? I could see that. But that’s for the Detroit Lions to worry about, I just need him to do what he has always done sine his days as a Georgia Bulldog and that’s sling the ball, preferably to Megatron.

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MY ROUND FOUR PICK (46th): Pierre Garcon. If you think having DeSean Jackson scares me about Garcon’s 2014 production, you’re nuts. The biggest concern with Garcon is himself. He was targeted an inconceivable 182 times last season and was only able to haul in 113 receptions and five touchdowns. But that was under the terrible Shanahan regime and an unhealthy Robert Griffin III. Garcon may not catch 113 balls again, but I can easily see a boost in his other numbers.

MY ROUND FIVE PICK (51st): Shane Vereen. Didn’t love this pick, but I wanted to lock up my second back with slim pickings left. I wanted nothing to do with Ray Rice after what he did to me last season and I felt it was too early to gamble on Bishop Sankey, who I like, but still has Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster to battle with for touches. Vereen is in a Belicheck backfield, which means you never know what can happen, but he has supreme receiving skills and has never played a full season. Maybe this is the year he puts it altogether. If not, I am in a bit of a pickle.

The Rest of the Draft:

I really liked snagging Kendall Wright in the sixth round. Sure, he is a number one receiver who only had two touchdowns, but he’s still a number one. Hopefully, this is the year Locker stays on the field and puts it together as he has looked sharp in the preseason. I did not like taking Frank Gore, but he has some value in the seventh round. The way I see it is that I get to start him week one against the Dallas Cowboys Swiss cheese defense and then he can ride the pine. At 31 and a long list of dinks and mileage, he may not make it past week two! I misplayed the tight end position. My goal was to snag Kyle Rudolph who I thought would slip to me in Round 10, but the reigning champ, The Englishman, snagged him up in round nine. Any tight end in a Norv Turner offense is a great pick. So I called an audible and gambled on Ladarius Green. He is a monster of a specimen, but does have to contend with Antonio Gates in front of him. I hope the aging TE great misses a few games or plays limited snaps to keep him fresh throughout the year. Riley Cooper was a steal in the eighth round as the Eagles offense is a nice blend of passing and rushing, and with the amount of plays they see, he is sure to be a solid bye week replacement. My wild cards are two rookie receivers with very questionable quarterback play. Mike Evans in Tampa with Josh McCown and Marqise Lee with Chad Henne in Jacksonville could be breakouts or busts. Obviously I am hoping for the breakout. Garrett Graham is a safe play at TE, and being the homer that I am, I need a Texan.

Matt Stafford, Kelly Hall

So my opening day line-up pans out like this:

QB: Stafford
RB1: Ball
RB2: Gore
WR1: Megatron
WR2: Garcon
Flex: Vereen
TE: Green
K: Sebastian Janikowski
Def: Arizona Cardinals

Did I succeed in building a playoff contender by passing on AP and Forte? I think I did. I have a few high risk, high reward guys, but overall, I drafted a team built on consistency. Most of my starters are of the what you see is what you get variety, and I like knowing that I have a team that can put up 100 points week in and week out. But, I will let you decide. Was my strategy right or wrong? Feel free to sound off below!

Well, with The Nitro League and Old School Football League drafts just a few short days away, be on the look out for 5 Bold Predictions for the 2014 Fantasy Football Season. Until then, happy drafting!

The WN Fantasy Football Report: 5 Burning Questions for 2014

It’s that time boys and girls. Fantasy Football drafts have started across the nation. So today marks the first of Wayniac Nation’s Fantasy Football Reports. Each week, we will bring you insights, good starts, better sits and a smorgasbord of information to help you look like a fantasy football genius.

I know what you’re asking yourself. There are millions of fantasy football resources out there, why listen to The Wayniac? It’s justified. What makes me any better than any other fantasy expert? Let’s take a look at the ol’ resume and perhaps I can convince you that out of all the fantasy geeks out there, I am one of the biggest.

I am entering the 17th year in my Nitro League. That’s right, folks, 17 years with essentially the same original owners in a 10-team league. This league is so old it started back when you had to tally scores by hand. We don’t really have bad teams as it is ultra-competitive and has always been more about the trophy and bragging rights than the money. I have been to the last two back-to-back championship games and if I didn’t run into Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and the Junior Mafia, I would have two wins in a row. I have been in my other league, The Old School Football League, for 10 years. It is a 12-team league that has had essentially the same owners for the bulk of its existence as well. Over the past three seasons, no team has more regular season wins or points than my Fightin’ Blue Hose. Unfortunately, although I have finished in the money all three of those years, I have no rings to show for it as a major injury has derailed me seemingly every Week 15 in the semi-finals. It is your typical scoring league and in the history of the league only four times has a team broken the 200 point barrier. Three of those times were the Fightin’ Blue Hose. Last year I joined a third league run by Nomi the Greek and has every member of The Thread in it. The Englishman is the reigning champ in his first year ever of fantasy football.

Last year's draft board from Nomi the Greek's Brookhaven League won by The Englishman
Last year’s draft board from Nomi the Greek’s Brookhaven League won by The Englishman

Am I bragging a little bit? Sure, but I also want you to know that I do have an idea about how this fantasy thing works. I also bring you insight to how to succeed in a 10-team league as well as a deeper 12-team league. My panel of Wayniac Nation Fantasy Experts that I have put together is an All Star selection of people who I have run in fantasy circles with for nearly the last two decades.

Later this week, we will bring you insight to key players and busts to look out for, but first let me take a selfie.

Did I do this selfie thing right?
Did I do this selfie thing right?

No, seriously, folks, before we get into player breakdowns, we need to first answer THE TOP FIVE BURNING QUESTIONS COMING INTO THE 2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON.

5. When will the first non-running back come off the board?

This is an entirely new fantasy football era and the conversion from running back heavy teams to dominating through the air is complete. That being said, AP, Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles will be the first four off the board (in no particular order). I personally don’t see a running back worth taking after the Big Four until the second round. Wide receivers, especially in PPR (point per reception for those not savvy) formats are way more valuable in the right system, and the way quarterbacks amass forty to fifty point Sundays makes a few first round worthy.

4. Can Peyton Manning come close to last year’s production?

Of course not. Peyton Manning set records last season and had the single greatest season for a quarterback in fantasy and NFL history. It’s a lot like watching Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. You knew no matter what, you were watching the best he had to offer and nothing would ever again match that. Now, I’m not suggesting Peyton Manning numbers are going to fall off the way Keanu Reeve’s acting abilities have (Johnny Mnemonic, anyone?), but you do have to tame your expectations. While the Broncos lost Eric Decker when he unforgivably signed his career away to the New York Haven’t Had a Legitimate QB in a Decade Jets, they brought in an even better Emmanuel Sanders so the offense won’t miss a beat. They did also bulk up their defense with big names like Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware. That means more ball control and less shootouts for Manning. While his numbers will be down to human level, he is still the best QB fantasy has to offer and may even be in consideration for the fifth overall pick. Plus, he’s already a better actor than Keanu Reeves.

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3. Who do you consider at running back once the big four are off the board? 

I have already said that after McCoy, Charles, Forte and All Day AP are gone, I really feel this is the season that running backs get put on the back burner. But if you insist on being a traditionalist (also known as The Guy Who Finishes Last) and feel you must pick an RB in the first round then there is only one choice. As much as I love Marshawn Lynch and his Beast Mode, I don’t feel he is first round worthy this year. That is based on his past. He held out a few days for a bigger contract and made it open that he considered retirement. When he wanted out of Buffalo, he played like he didn’t care, and with Seattle’s deep arsenal of RBs, we may easily see that down season from Lynch. So if you must take an RB, you go with Eddie Lacy. The guy is a total beast and will have a full season with Aaron Rodgers for the first time in his career. This is a kid with potential for a 2,000 total yard season in that offense, however, I don’t think that season is 2014.

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2. Where is the best place to look for top fantasy advice?

Wayniac Nation, of course. Seriously though, the simple answer is your notes. If you are reading this blog, you are most likely competitive enough that you are beyond the casual twenty dollar “for fun” fantasy league. If you aren’t already, you need to become your own fantasy expert. The best thing to do for starters is to grab a few friends and do some mock drafts on (I can’t believe I am saying anything positive about these shlubs) ESPN. Secondly, do some research on ADP (that’s the average draft pick of a specific player for you newbies). A lot of leagues will have a draft lottery weeks before the draft. Once you know your spot, you can begin researching what players are most commonly going in that location. You can also do your own mock drafts from that slot and practice, practice, practice until you have the team you want. Lastly, and this comes from my own old school mentality, take notes. Make a list of your Top 20 at each position and cross them off as you go. Colin Kaepernick is in everybody’s Top 5 quarterbacks, but this guy would never start on my team. So, my list is going to be very different from other “experts”. So should yours. Nothing sucks more than when you are unprepared and the guy right before you takes the player you had queued. If you are properly prepared with your own notes, you don’t need to spend your minute thirty googling “fantasy advice”!

1. Ok, so who is the first overall pick?

This is a tough question. My Hongbits team in The Nitro League has the first overall pick, so this is something I have been contemplating for some time. All of the big four (again: Charles, Forte, McCoy and AP) are complete studs, yet they all also come with injury risk. All four play for very questionable offenses. Charles’ Kansas City Chiefs are notorious for having a terrible season when following a strong one. While everyone sees Chicago as a legitimate contender this season with a high octane offense, one must remember that Jay Cutler is still at the helms. Was Chip Kelley’s offense for real or was it a flash in the pan like the Wildcat that defenses can now prepare for? And who the heck is going to be the quarterback in Minnesota, Matt Cassell?

That being said, I think there are two ways to go with this pick. If you want the home run hitter,  the guy that is capable of getting you 50 points in a game by himself, you go with Charles. He is lightening quick and is a lock for 50 receptions, but can be relied on for over 60 like last season. But if you want to play it safe, the answer is simple. No running back has been more consistent with less talent around him than All Day Adrian Peterson. His lowest touchdown total over the past five seasons is ELEVEN. Last year, despite missing two games and abysmal quarterback play, he still ran for over 1,200 yards. He is not your PPR dream back, but if Teddy Bridgewater takes over, you can be sure there will be a ton of dump offs and last year’s change of pace back, Toby Gerhart, is gone to Jacksonville.

So which direction will I go with my first round pick? I’ll let you stew over it, so be sure to check in weekly for up to date Fantasy Football advice this NFL season!

 

Dear Tom Watson, From Your Boy Tiger

Dear Tom,

Over the past few weeks there has been an elephant in the room over your three captains selections. My name has been tossed around like Tara Reid. Should you or should you not pick me for this year’s Ryder Cup team? Will my back hold up? Does my career record speak for itself? I have a simple answer to these questions: No. I will allow you a moment to soak in that answer, and then I will give you my reasons.

As much as I would be honored to represent the Ryder Cup for the seventh time in my career, I just don’t feel that my presence on this year’s squad will be what’s best for the good ol’ USA. I am beyond a distraction to the rest of the boys, let alone the European side. In the spirit of the competition, I need to be as far away from Scotland as possible. Maybe Lindsey and I will take a much needed vacation where she can rehab her knee in a bikini and I can rest the back while she is in a bikini. If I am on the squad, the entire week will be focused on me: my back, my game and my mental state.  We should be focusing on the competition and spirit of this bi-annual event. If I stay away, I will be but a blip on the radar compared to matchups, strategies and Ian Poulter’s hot putter.

You are well aware that the US hasn’t won in Europe since 1993. Have you watched my play the last few weeks? Instead of fist pumping after long distance putts, I’m back grabbing like a 75-year old grandma after dancing Gangnam Style! Tom, you know as well as anyone that I would love to help you shock the world, but now is not the time for me to do that. The doctors tell me that the surgery that repaired the pinched nerve seems to be fine. Apparently doctor’s have a different definition for fine than the rest of us who use Webster’s Dictionary.

Let’s face it. Right now the US has a strong team going into this Ryder Cup without me.  Rickie is playing out of his mind and his inevitable matchup with Rory on Sunday is something I will enjoy watching while I lay poolside getting a couples’ massage while Lindsey is in a bikini. You have your veteran leadership with Jim and Phil and strong team golf players in Matt, Zach and Bubba. And let’s not forget that all important, don’t care, youthful enthusiasm with Patrick, Jordan and Jimmy Walker. It’s Dy-no-miiiite! That is a strong nine that presents some interesting matchups and possible player combinations. Now I know what you are thinking.  Who are my three captains picks? Well thats why the PGA has placed it’s confidence in you and I support them. I would go with Ryan Moore, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson in those spots. All three of them offer value to this team and will be guys who will enjoy the moment and play up to the stage that is the Ryder Cup. If I learned one thing this past weekend it’s that I am not bigger than the game. Watching that back nine at the PGA Championship with the record viewership proved that to me. I wasn’t there and yet people still tuned in and were excited about the game. Maybe that’s my legacy, I opened the door for this next wave of young golfers.

I truly appreciate your loyalty over these past few months and especially today but I think it’s time I face reality. If I have any chance of winning one more major, let alone four, I need to fully recover, refocus and rethink my game.  I call it the 3 “Rs” and it’s my new buddhist philosophy. Lindsey calls it my new addiction, but I think she is happy I have not gone back to my old one.

Sincerely,

Tiger

(Be sure to follow Wayniac Nation’s golf expert Mike Dunton on Twitter! @dartbus1521)

 

 

I MET MARIO BALOTELLI!!!

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Well, folks, I have finally made the jump to a full fledged soccer fan. This past weekend, Nomi the Greek and I took a little road trip to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Guinness International Champions Cup. The match, which pitted AC Milan versus Liverpool, was a star studded bout that ended in a two to nil victory for the boys from England. I was extremely spoiled as I got to see not one, but two whole goals scored! Based on my past attempts in converting to a soccer fan, this seems like a rarity.

Our adventure goes back to the World Cup final. While enjoying the game at our World Cup headquarters, Old Blinde Dog in Atlanta, where friends of Wayniac Nation Nomi the Greek, Jaybird and Kid Robot bartend, my fiance won two tickets to the match. While my fiance, a former standout soccer player herself, enjoys the game very much, she knew Nomi the Greek is a huge Liverpool fan and insisted the two of us take the tickets. Did I pick a winner or what?

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We took the four hour drive from Atlanta to Charlotte and got to Bank of America Stadium right around game time. It was my first time visiting the Queen City as it’s affectionately called and it really had a fun looking downtown area. The town was overflowing with soccer fans. When it comes to soccer in America, I am still somewhat a cynic. No matter how grand the World Cup ratings were, that is a once-every-four-year phenomenon. To say I was very surprised by the amount of people flooding the streets in the Liverpool red and AC Milan red and black kit would be an understatement. Nomi the Greek who is a huge soccer fan concurred, which surprised me even more. I figured he would take the “See, dude, I told you soccer was for real,” approach, but he too was amazed by the outpouring of love for futbol.

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Our section on the ticket was 342. Based on endless trips to stadiums across the country, Nomi the Greek and I both thought we were in the upper level. As we ascended the ramp amongst the drunken soccer brood, we stopped in confusion when we approached the 300 level. The sign read Silver Club Level. There was no way we won free tickets to this game AND were going to get to sit in sick seats, was there?

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The view from our seats!

Why, yes, yes there was. We had a great view and after an endearing singing of You’ll Never Walk Alone (Liverpool’s theme song for those of you not in the know… how these buffoons chose a Gerry and the Pacemakers tune over a Beatles song is beyond me but that is their business) the ball was in play. Less than twenty minutes into play, Liverpool led a ferocious attack on AC Milan’s net, booting one off of the post and then one off the goalie before Joe Allen put the rebound in the net. The crowd went bananas, Liverpool had one of those group hugs that futbol clubs do after scoring and I was pumped. I was certain that I was in for a high scoring affair unlike any other. Alas, I would wait approximately 68 minutes for the next goal to occur.

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Is that why soccer finds itself such a hard time being accepted stateside? The tempo? It can’t be that because if you have ever been to a baseball game in Atlanta in mid-August when the temperatures are always hot and the Braves are always cold it feels like the game last for days. Is it the lack of finality? Of the Big Four American sports, hockey is the least favorite. Like soccer, it is the only sport that has a healthy amount of ties throughout the season. We like resolution. We want answers, we want to know who is the better team. Think about how angry you are when two NFL teams play to a tie. It’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen, right?

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Being at a soccer match is a world of difference. The fans are totally energized and it felt like ninety of the quickest minutes I have ever lived. I’ve often felt that when I am watching soccer matches on TV that it takes an eternity to get through, especially when I have no rooting interest in either team. But actually watching this match in person with two teams I had nothing invested in was a blast. I was actually yearning for another half of futbol, but Liverpool had to get down to Miami to get whooped by Manchester United in the Championship Match.

While driving back to Atlanta, Charlotte’s streets were a mob scene. Nomi the Greek was creeping along at maybe two miles per hour. We were sitting in the middle of some road, dead stopped in traffic when all of a sudden AC Milan’s coaching staff started getting off of the bus two cars in front of us. Tired of the jam, they started walking towards the Omni Hotel. Shortly after, the players started walking. “If Balotelli gets off that bus, you are getting out of this car and getting an autograph,” Nomi the Greek commanded. Sure enough, a few players later, there he was. I felt like I was looking at the Shaquille O’Neal of soccer. He was a huge hulking specimen with an electric blonde mohawk. The rap against Balotelli is that he is extremely over rated, which I can understand, but watching him play live and in person, I see it otherwise. Balotelli is about to turn 24 years old. He is a kid who is sought after by every significant futbol club in the world. Like many youngsters who had too much too soon, he seemed to get cocky. I can tell you straight up after watching him in Charlotte that this kid can do what ever he wants with a soccer ball. He can dribble in and out of defenders, send a perfectly placed pass anywhere he chooses and fire on goal seemingly at will. But the effort was clearly not there 100 percent of the time. He often looked bored on the field. Maybe he is one of those Carmelo Anthony-esque players who look like they are just cruising along because the game comes so easily to them, but I think he takes plays off. I can also tell you he is not the most personable of people, but hey, at least he signed an autograph for me!

Me and Super Mario
Me and Super Mario

Overall it was an amazing experience, especially for a sports blogger who has just recently began to explore the unchartered territory of soccer fandom. Perhaps I will finally take in that first WNBA game in hopes that the experience is the same, although I highly doubt that day will come. Thanks for a great evening Charlotte!

The Queen City at night.
The Queen City at night.

The WACKY WEEK IN SPORTS

It certainly was another wacky week in sports. Many faces changed places (hey, I’m a poet and didn’t even know it) as baseball’s Trade Deadline passed. Training camps continue to roll on in football while they enshrined some legends into Canton. The NHL actually surpassed the WNBA in their fan base this past week as well. Nah, I’m just kidding, folks, it wasn’t that wacky of a week!

Onward to the highlights of the week!!!

THE WACKY WEEK IN SPORTS: FOOTBAWWWWWWWL!!!

What a boring week in sports, folks. It seems that there are points of the year that sports news takes a lull. Take February after the Super Bowl for example. I mean sure, if you are one of the 16 Americans who tune in to the NHL, you’re having a blast, but for the rest of us, it’s excruciating. While this week crawled down the road like your boy who can’t handle his liquor, there was still some interesting tidbits that went down.
Onward to the wacky week that was!!!

The World Wide Leader in Shmutz

Where do I even start? There was a firestorm of controversy stemming from good ol’ Commissioner Goodell’s decision with Ray Rice and his disciplinary actions taken. That led to Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless going head to head over domestic violence on ESPN — the perfect forum to discuss social issues. Now, Smith’s days are seemingly numbered and my discontent with the Worldwide Leader in Sports continues to grow.

NFL: Annual Meetings

Roger Goodell has made a name for himself as the iron fisted commissioner who wanted to fix the NFL’s image by taking action against off field issues as well as on field matters. He worked on implementing very strict drug guidelines and corresponding suspensions for any violations. The grey area was in other off the field infractions, and this has led to years of inconsistency. People have already forgotten the back lash he took on the Big Ben Roethlisberger case a few years back. Was it long enough? Was it just enough considering the decision? The Ray Rice situation is quite the same and he completely missed the bus on this one. If you aren’t aware of what happened, you must not watch ESPN, and I applaud you for that. But I will give you a little recap.

2012 NFL Draft - First Round

Over the past few weeks, acclaimed NFL pot heads Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon have both been nabbed with marijuana possession yet again. The clock is seemingly always 4:20 for these two and on top of it, they always seem to be doing something stupid behind the wheel that gets them caught. Do they know you can get Funions delivered? Anyway, over that same period of time, Minnesota Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer was suspended three games for being a blatant homophobe. Then just a few days ago, in a swift and harsh punishment, Ray Rice was suspended for a whole two games for beating his then fiancé and now wife unconscious.

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All the talk has been how absurd it is that Gordon and Blackmon face indefinite suspensions of at least one season while Rice misses a mere two games. Gordon and Blackmon were doing something that so many Americans do that many states are making it legal now. Rice did something inexplicable, unacceptable and quite honestly, simply disgusting. Yet by Week Three, he will be suited up and ready to go. But I’m not hear to argue the morality of that. ESPN’s First Take did that. And Stephan A. Smith led the way,

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Stephen A. Smith proved everything wrong with the road ESPN has gone down with his diatribe against Ray Rice on First Take. ESPN is to sports what TMZ is to entertainment. It’s gossip. It is the World Wrestling Entertainment of sports coverage. Yet every morning, hundreds of thousands of people tune in to watch Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless state moronic opinions for some deplorable reason while I sit here trying to get a mere hundred people to read me per day!

No matter what his intensions were, no matter what he meant to say, Smith damned himself with one line that can be easily misinterpreted: “Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.” Yikes. Via Twitter, Smith attempted to apologize and explain his stance, but in reality it was too late. ESPN’s own Michelle Beadle  led the charge in her disgust and came under attack for being mean to Smith. What is wrong with this country?

Smith was really trying to say that it is never acceptable for a man to lay their hands on a woman under any circumstances. He mentioned that yes, when a woman gets beaten, the police arrive and justice is usually served, but it’s too late and the woman has been beaten. He was trying to convey the fact that even though Rice’s fiancé struck first, it is still inexcusable for Rice to retaliate with physical action. He was trying to send a warning to women against misogynist men, yet when he said the word “provoke” he BECAME the misogynist. This is because he was way out of his league.

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ESPN and it’s commentators, especially on the trash heap that First Take is, have no business delving into social matters. Talk sports fellas, that’s what you are there to do. It isn’t because their personalities shouldn’t be allowed to state their opinions, hell, I’m not even implying that they are idiots and don’t know what they are talking about, because that isn’t the case here either. The problem is that they aren’t versed in social commentary, they simply don’t know how deliver their moral message without sticking their proverbial foot in their mouths.

Take Smith’s actions for example. Let’s say he rips apart the NFL and Goodell for the way he levies fines and punishments and how he weighs certain criminal activity as more damning than others. Sure, he may piss some people off, he may not be held lightly among NFL higher ups, but he didn’t OFFEND anyone. There is a thin line between making someone angry and offending them and once you cross it, you are done. When you anger someone, they stew on it all day long, but eventually go to bed and wake up forgetting about it. But when you offend someone or an entire sex of people, as in Smith’s case, you wrote your death sentence.

ESPN is not the platform for discussing matters of this magnitude. Let’s not forget what ESPN stands for: Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Where does domestic violence fit into either of those topics? It is certainly not a sport and damn well not entertaining, so why the heck is it being brought up. It unfortunately doesn’t stop with domestic violence as there are a bevy of sports personalities who feel it is their responsibility to make everything an issue about race or sexual preference or personal lifestyle choices. Rex Ryan has a foot fetish. While that is wildly hilarious, it doesn’t change the fact that he is a defensive master mind and, as much as it pains me to say it, a pretty darn good head coach. But that’s where it should end for ESPN. Could you imagine if Meet the Press had a rundown on the night’s action across the MLB as a segment of their show? How about a meteorologist giving their take on the sexism behind naming storms? It sounds so ridiculous because those networks would never delve into something outside the realm of their knowledge. But sports personalities continue day in and day out to do so. It’s simple really. Tell me who won the Yankee game, tell me if Kershaw threw another shutout and move on.

While Stephen A. and Skip’s daily rants don’t particularly strike me as fun to watch, there is no doubt that a large portion of sports fans find their over the edge take on sports entertaining. Whether they are right or wrong, people tune in to watch their intensity, and watch them go head to head and prove each other a fool. This time they crossed into uncharted territory. I honestly don’t believe Smith is a bad guy, and I think beneath it all, he really was trying to convey a positive message against domestic violence. However, his inability to go about it correctly and speak with fire from the heart instead of a well thought out stance against violence may be his ultimate end. Then again, the ratings and attention his rant generated could have him promoted to his own hour slot. That’s the beauty of today’s social media America.