Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Time Wasters

Yes, I consider myself a football geek.  But I hate this time of year.

Two of the biggest wastes of time, effort and energy in the football world occur in February: Mock drafts and the NFL Combine.  It drives me to drink.

About ten years ago, I fell into the mock draft trap.  For whatever reason, I thought it was important that I could predict who the Falcons were going to take or who the Eagles were going to take, and I found myself spending embarrassing amounts of time trying to do so.  I would have my mock draft ready to go, then change my mind and do it all over again -- it was ridiculous.

They were, perhaps, the most meaningless hours I've ever spent doing anything.  

After a couple of years of this nonsense, I got wise to it.  I realized I could be doing something else with my time (like writing this very post, which many would argue is an equally monumental waste of time). 

But even for those who still dabble in mock drafts, for those who still feel they can predict the unpredictable, I don't understand why anyone would put in any amount of thought into the process at this point in the football year.  Simply put, there is no way of predicting what direction any given team will go in the draft until the first couple rounds of free agency have concluded in mid-March.   

Once teams have addressed their needs and after a handful of surprise free agents have been signed with new teams (and yes, there are surprises every year), then you can waste your time mocking it up.

And even then it's a wild guessing game at the very best.  I've never seen a mock draft with greater than 50% accuracy.  Yes, that includes Mel Kiper, Jr., and he does this sort of thing for a living (I've often called Kiper the weatherman of sports; he's always wrong, still keeps his job, and is somehow regarded as the "expert" in his field).

But even worse than mock drafts polluting the air is the stench of the NFL Combine.  I absolutely hate it.  

Why, you ask?

Because it's a doggone beauty pageant.  Period.

I've said this over and over again, but it bears repeating:  why is the Combine even necessary in today's modern age?  Because it receives big time sponsorship dollars from Under Armour?  
Under Armour: "The NFL Scouting Combine is necessary because we say it is."  
NFL teams have three or four seasons of game footage to analyze for every single player.  NFL teams have the right to work out individual players, to interview individual players.  They've got dozens upon dozens of college scouting reports.  

Why does the NFL need to have this big gathering of dudes with their shirts off, prancing about in their underwear, running around cones and bench pressing a bunch of reps?

Rarely does a beauty competition yield the next Einstein.  The NFL Combine is no exception.

Honestly, when I hear the words "NFL Combine," I think of three players:  Matt Jones, Troy Williamson and Vernon Gholston.  Why?  Because they won the damn swimsuit contest.

An NFL scouts' philosophy has always been thus:  If you can run really, really fast, then you MUST be able to play wide receiver, right?

If you recall, Matt Jones was a quarterback at Arkansas.  He was huge, at 6'6" and 242 pounds. Despite a decidedly underwhelming college career, he ran a 4.37 forty time at the 2005 Combine, which nobody had ever seen before in a player his size.  Scouts nicknamed him "the Freak" [how original].  He was drafted in the first round by Jacksonville as a wide receiver.  He turned out to be a complete bust.  Why?  Because he couldn't run routes and he couldn't catch the ball.

As a Vikings fan, Troy Williamson especially gets sand in my craw.  He was, arguably, the biggest bust in Vikings draft history, although the Dimitrius Underwood debacle gives him some rather stiff  competition.
Despite a combined 91 receptions in three seasons in college, Williamson ran a blinding 4.32 forty time at the 2005 Combine.  Obviously, he had to be a star receiver in the NFL.

Over his five year pro career, he had a combined total of 87 receptions for 1,131 yards and four touchdowns (or what Calvin Johnson would call an "off year").

Why did Williamson fail in the NFL?  Simple.  You can be Flash Gordon, but if you can't run routes and you've got hands of Teflon, speed doesn't matter.

(By the way, one of the fastest 40 times in that ill-fated 2005 Combine belonged to cornerback Fabian Washington, who recorded a ridiculous 4.29.  He was taken in the first round by the Raiders.  Too bad he couldn't cover receivers... but he was fast).

Defensive end Vernon Gholston was yet another over-hyped workout warrior who couldn't play with the big boys.  At the Combine in 2008, he tied the highest bench press score with 37 reps of 225 pounds.  Regarded as a "sack master" in college, he was highly regarded because he was one of two players to record a sack against All-American Jake Long.  

A sack.  Singular.

Gholston drew huge praise and scouts compared him to Kalimba Edwards.  


Gholston was taken sixth overall by the Jets and was finally released after three seasons.  Guess what?  He didn't record a single sack as a pro.  Not one.  

But he sure could bench press.

So the moral to the story is to work out like crazy after your college career is over.  Forget about fine tuning your football skills.  Hire a personal trainer.  Get ripped.  Show off your six pack abs and run really fast.  Maybe grow out your hair a little.  If you look like a duck and act like a duck, the scouts will think you're a duck.

It can make you millions.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Precious Has Arrived

All those hours of research, agonizing decisions, and the ups and downs of a fantasy football season are all worth it when you get this in the mail...

The Borderless Fantasy Football League's traveling league championship trophy is now in Viking Country!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Off Season? What Off Season?

No posts here for a few days.  Just trying to let it all sink in that I actually predicted the Super Bowl correctly; more specifically, I was dead-on accurate with my scientific research leading to my hauntingly precise Super Bowl prognostication.

In Review...
I had determined the Patriots would win because they wearing white jerseys.  Shazam!  The team wearing white jerseys have now won 10 of the last 11 Super Bowls.  Towards the end of the game, it was as if some force other than Tom Brady's magnetic winning smile was guiding the Patriots.  Surely, it was the Curse of the Colored Jersey to which the Seahawks had fallen victim.

I also predicted the football gods would forsake Russell Wilson because of his unsightly beard.  Shazam!  There can be no other explanation for throwing an interception on the one yard line with 20 seconds left in the game.  Prior to that errant throw, 109 passing attempts (league wide) were made this season at the one yard line and none had been picked off.

It was the beard.  

Oh, and it was a bad play call.  Let's not forget that little detail.  At the very least, Russell Wilson should have kept the ball on, as Emmitt Smith would say, a "buttleg."  

Ruddell Wilton on da buttleg right thur.  Ain't none body gon' git him.  Imma call da buttleg if I Dairy Bevold.  Lawd a-mercy!

My prognostication was Patriots 20, Seahawks 13.  The actual final score was Patriots 28, Seahawks 24.

Not too shabby.  I'm bragging because I've got a 95% failure rate when prognosticating games... well, maybe not quite 95%, but it's pretty bad.  So in rare circumstances when I get one right, I like to celebrate.

Meanwhile, I'm guessing hardcore Seattle Seahawks fans have all lost about 3.24 years off their lifespan over the past two weeks.  

First was the Miracle at CenturyLink.  The unbelievable comeback against the Packers in the game's final five minutes.

Fourteen days later, there was the ripping-the-still-beating-heart-out-of-the-chest interception in the Super Bowl with 20 seconds remaining, when it appeared the Seahawks were about to become back-to-back World Champions.  

This came just moments after Jermaine Kearse made what would have been the most talked about catch in Super Bowl history, had the Seahawks won.  

Instead, it was just a great catch and a mere stat.  Funny how that works.

Off Season
Now the off season begins.  There will be plenty to talk about; at the forefront of my particular interest will be the status of Adrian Peterson.  Will he remain with the Vikings or will the team trade him?  This will surely be among the bigger stories this spring.

But just like clockwork, as the season ends, the turd list begins as three NFL players were arrested on Tuesday.  

Packers DT Letroy Guion was arrested with 357 grams of marijuana, a 9 mm pistol and $190,000 in cash.  I'm sure his intentions were above reproach.

Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson was arrested for assault after punching a dude while arguing over a parking space.  

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle was arrested for marijuana possession after a domestic violence call to police.  This was his second arrest in four months.  Young Mr. Randle appears to not value his NFL career.  Domestic violence = indefinite suspension.  

Speaking of not valuing one's career, Josh Gordon is supposedly suspended without pay for a year, yet again.  If it wasn't for the league rewriting its own policy, this would be the second consecutive season Gordon faces a year-long suspension.  

But don't worry.  I'm guessing Gordon sues the league because he can't afford to feed his cousins (or something similar) and will reach an agreement for a reduced sentence.  It's a joke.  The only party benefiting from this knucklehead's moronic choices are his lawyers.  Just another entitled athlete who never truly faces any consequences to his actions.

Football Johnny Manziel has gone full rock star now, including a rehab stint.  After all, you're not a bona fide rock star until you've done some rehab.  Listen, if Johnny truly has a problem, I hope he's on the path to getting well.  But the cynic in me wonders if there are ulterior motives.  Eventually, the bag of excuses will run empty.  

Speaking of the crumbling Cleveland Browns, GM Ray Farmer faces suspension and fines after (allegedly) texting Browns coaches during games.  This is strictly prohibited by NFL rules (sort of like deflating balls, except it involves electronic devices and has nothing to do with atmospheric pressure, physics or footballs).  In fact, this texting "harassment" is supposedly one of the reasons offensive coordinator Kyle Shannon bailed on the Browns after just a single season.  That, and the fact that the Browns stink.

My question is why in the world would any coach be available to receive texts during a game?  Why would he have his phone with him while on the sideline?  Isn't he supposed to be concentrating on his job at that time?  Seriously, people.  Put your damn phones away!

This might be a blessing in disguise, however.  The Browns might lose draft pick over this charge, which would give them one less chance to fail.  Always look on the bright side, I say.

All this, and the off season isn't even a week old yet.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

You Can't Deny Science...

It's that unofficial national American holiday:  Super Bowl Sunday!  And I wouldn't be worth my salt as a self-proclaimed football junkie if I didn't post a little something today.

As it turns out, this is a very important post.

Earlier, I predicted that the New England Patriots would win tonight's game.  I did so "by guess and by gosh" as we say here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  

But today, I have new, stone-cold scientific research which supports my pervious prediction.  Logarithms, exponents and other really hard math was involved in this inquiry.  This is heady stuff.  I hope you can handle it.

Part I -- The White Jersey

Fact:  Over the last 10 Super Bowls, the team wearing the white jersey has been victorious nine times

Fact:  Historically, the team wearing the white jersey has a Super Bowl winning percentage of .625 (30 of 48). 

A bit of background here:  since 1979, the designated home team has been given the choice of wearing colored or white jerseys.  The NFC is the designated home team in odd-numbered Super Bowls, the AFC is the designated team in even-numbered Super Bowls.

Fact:  Last year, the AFC Champion Broncos chose to wear their colored orange jerseys.  The "visiting" Seahawks wore their white jerseys.  We all know the lop-sided outcome of that game.

Fact:  The Seahawks last Super Bowl appearance prior to last season was Super Bowl XL.  They wore their colored jerseys for that game and the Steelers (white jerseys!) won 21-10.

For some unfathomable reason, the Seahawks, today's designated home team, have chosen to wear their colored jerseys.  Which, of course, means the Patriots are wearing white.

That's the kiss of death for the Seahawks.  

But wait!  There's more!

Part II -- The Beard

Fact:  Last year, a clean-shaven, baby-faced Russell Wilson hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.  This year, Wilson is a bearded warrior.  That's a mistake.

Fact: The Super Bowl gods will not recognize Wilson as the defending champion quarterback.  He looks like a doggone lumberjack.  The gods will turn their backs on him.  He shall be forsaken.

Seriously, dude.  Shave!

I rest my case.  Patriots win.  Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday!

Yours truly at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in October 2013, next to the very same Lombardi Trophy which will be raised in victory this evening in Phoenix.  And no, I'm ABSOLUTELY NOT wearing a Packers t-shirt, thank you for asking.