Wishing, Wanting, and Hopefully Having

            With one of Indiana’s teams down 1-0 in a NBA playoff series, another team with its owner in rehab, and its own college failing to make any post-season run, there is a lot out there for sports fans to desire. Since this may be my last post in a while, I would like to share my thoughts on what would lead Indiana back to the top of sport prominence.

As many readers out there know, the Indiana Pacers, number one seed in the Eastern Conference, dropped their first playoff game to the eight seed Atlanta Hawks. Do not take this article as giving up on a team with talent from top to bottom, but there are problems that have to be addressed. Unless feelings between teammates are significantly changed, moves need to be made and new faces need to be brought in.

The move that needs to be made is allowing Evan Turner to make his way out and secure the future of Lance Stephenson. Despite the fact that Turner has had some worth playing big minutes in Indiana, the on-court chemistry between him and other bench-contributors has not been there; which I believe to be a large part of the team’s struggles. Lance-Stephenson-280x300

The same cannot be said for Stephenson who thrives with second-team players, and has his most value distributing and driving the ball against lesser opponents. However, due to his significant drop-off in production, I would like Lance to realize that Indiana is the place where he will win his championships and take less than a max contract (which will most likely be offered from another, worse franchise).

Since I have already voiced my thoughts about Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in a previous article, I think it would be better to leave it brief and only discuss players that step foot on the gridiron. The section of the team that I would like to analyze is not always viewed as the most important, but everyone knows that it can change the momentum of the game: Special Teams.

Proven by numerous speedsters- like DeSean Jackson or Devin Hester- successful punt and kick returning gives something for a team to rally around and triumph, and the Colts have lacked this kind of playmaker for as long as this writer has been watching. With free agency in the rearview mirror and most worthwhile players gone, finding a PR/KR specialist could be a steal, and that is exactly what Joshua Cribbs is.

Joshua Cribbs, Bryant McFaddenDespite his lack of production on offense, Cribbs has proven his worth on special teams over and over again. Cribbs has the lateral quickness to make tacklers miss and the speed to distance himself from the rest of his pursuers. Bolstering double-digit touchdowns on special teams, if Joshua Cribbs still has anything left in the tank and the smarts to keep his head down, he could make big contributions to a team that usually plays in the post-season.

The last team I want to talk about is the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, because I think that it is time for Tom Crean to make his exit from Bloomington. As a Hoosier fan, I respect Crean for bringing the team out of the depths that they found themselves in after the Kelvin Sampson scandal, but he has served his purpose to the university. With his best player, Noah Vonleh, entering the draft and a ton of others transferring to different universities, now is the time to open a new chapter at Indiana. This new chapter is named Mike Woodson.

Fresh from being a scapegoat with the New York Knicks, an Indiana alumnus is exactly what the team needs. Not only does Woodson have ties to IU and the know how to get his players to work hard- shown by the increased effectiveness of his former superstar Carmelo Anthony- but there is nothing more appealing to a high school recruit than NBA experience. Mike Woodson has shown that he can be successful on the professional level, so I am sure that he would thrive in Bloomington.

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Is Johnny Manziel a Smart Quarterback?

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Bowl-Duke vs Texas A&M

This past week all of the players heading to the NFL Draft were given the Wonderlic Test. For those of you out there that do not know what the Wonderic Test is, it is a popular group of intelligence test used to evaluate skill of potential personnel and even athletes for learning and problem-solving in a range of occupations.

The test consists of 50 multiple choice questions and has to be completed in 12 minutes. The average score is 20 and that indicates that you have average intelligence.

The one and only Johnny Manziel scored a 32 on his Wonderlic Test. This was very surprising for everyone, due to the fact that everyone thinks that he is a party animal and doesn’t go to class. Well Johnny fooled everyone by taking this test and scoring a 32.

But does this score prove that he can be a good NFL superstar? Probably not.

When these quarterbacks take this test, some of their score are looked at by the 26-27-60 rule to see how successful these quarterbacks will be in the NFL. This is for quarterbacks who score at least a 26 on the Wonderlic Test, start at least 27 games in college, and have at least a pass completion of at least 60 percent.

Scores from the past include: Eli Manning (39), Peyton Manning (28), Russell Wilson (24), Robert Griffin III (24), Aaron Rogers (35), Tom Brady (33), Tony Romo (37), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (48).

The average football player will usually score somewhere around a 20. The highest score has been a perfect score (50), which was done by Pat McInally, who was a punter and wide receiver who came from Harvard. The lowest score was by Morris Claiborne who received a 4 on the test and still became a first-round draft pick in 2012.

Just One Question Aldon: Why?

Source: USA Today

Source: USA Today

On Sunday, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and charged with false report of a bomb threat. Reports say that Smith was chosen at random for a secondary screening by a TSA agent, and it was then that Smith uttered the sentence that everyone knows is off limits at the airport.

After the TSA agent had finished the security screen, Smith had a back and forth that landed him in the hands of authorities. Smith inquired, “Are you going to search me further?” When the agent responded that it wasn’t needed, the athlete said “Why not? I have a bomb.” From there, Aldon Smith was booked for California Penal Code 148.1(a) – False report of a bomb threat- and had to pay $20,000 in bail money.

From the situation presented by authorities, it seems that Smith was doing nothing more than trying to make a very unfunny joke to someone who is not allowed to joke. However, do not think that I am supporting Smith and his idiotic actions. I think that this incident involved a rich athlete who thought that he was above the law. Like so many other athletes that have been in trouble, a combination of the fame and riches made Smith think that he gets to do whatever he wants.

To pile on, Aldon Smith was also arrested last September for suspicion of driving under the influence, proving that he has no intent to listen to the law. Like thousands of athletes before him, Smith thought that being admired as an athlete gave him a hall pass to do whatever he pleases.

However, it seems like people are getting tired of head cases in the NFL. Taking DeSean Jackson as example, the Philadelphia Eagles could not handle the baggage that came with their star wide receiver, so they had to let him go. The same type situation may happen to Aldon Smith- who is racking up his own baggage- and, in my opinion, just making himself look like an idiot.

But the fate of Aldon Smith will not be up to the 49ers organization, since the linebacker is facing up to a year in federal prison for his joke. If Smith does spend some time in jail, maybe that will ground him and result in a better man coming out; or he may use his immense riches to get himself out of trouble. Either way, I hope that Smith has learned his lesson about what is acceptable to say at airports (and if he didn’t here is a hint: don’t say “I have a bomb”).

Overall, I have one more question for Aldon Smith: Was it really worth it?

Jim Irsay: Owner, Billionaire, Addict

As a precursor to this article, I want to clarify that as with all writers/journalists/bloggers, I write through the lens of my own life. I am not-and never have been- addicted to prescription drugs, therefore I can only speculate how those individuals think and go about their lives. However, I am a supporter of the Indianapolis Colts, so I do have a perspective that is influenced by the organization, its personnel, and its owner.

Anyone who keeps up with the daily news or social media surely knows that on Sunday March 16th, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay was pulled over for driving under the influence. During the stop by Carmel police, Irsay failed several field sobriety tests and had Schedule IV perception drugs found in his vehicle. He was then arrested, taken to jail, and charged with four felony counts.

After the event took place, the sports world took notice with differing opinions on the subject. Some out there believe that Irsay should be treated lightly since he may not have had complete control of his actions, others believe that he was acting out of his own selfish interest and should have the book thrown at him. However, both sides have come to an agreement that they are not really surprised.

Irsay has spent a large part of his life fighting addiction, and most believe that this was not his first relapse since his sobriety started 15 years ago- as declared by the owner himself last October. If one takes a glance at Irsay’s twitter account, it is sprinkled with tweets that were most likely sent while intoxicated; and if he wasn’t drunk, then I am not sure what drunk tweeting looks like. For more factual proof, the Colts’ owner has lost 70 pounds in the last two years. Not many things besides disease or drug abuse could naturally explain this massive shift in weight.

Something that I did notice during this news storm was the amount of support that was given to the owner, support that has never really been given to the players in the same league. It seems to be a common occurrence in today’s world for professional athletes to be arrested for driving under the influence, and no one ever hesitates to pile on the criticism. The topic reached its peak in 2005 when Browns’ WR Donte Stallworth was arrested after killing a man while driving under the influence. Along with penalties from the state, Stallworth received a year ban from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Source: AP Photos

Source: AP Photos

However, after Jim Irsay’s incident, there were far less cries for punishment than the calls for support. Spanning from new columnists, to NFL coaches, to recovering addicts across the nation; it seems as though people have forgotten that Irsay was one pedestrian away from an incident just like Stallworth. I am just unsure why people were so easy to forgive Irsay, who has put himself into the same exact position as countless other athletes.

I believe that since Jim Irsay is a part of the NFL, just like any of its players, he needs to be punished like any other in the association. During his time as commissioner, Roger Goodell has been known to deal harshly with DUI issues, so he needs to set the precedent that he will follow the same punishment protocol from top to bottom. Irsay needs to be suspended from the team until he has finished his time in rehab, and randomly subjected to drug tests throughout the rest of his time as an NFL owner.

Since Jim Irsay has chosen to make himself the face of the Indianapolis Colts, he takes on the responsibilities that come with it. If he wants to be a huge voice on twitter, he needs to stop making the team look like it’s owned by a drunk. If this kind of behavior continues, the team will look less and less appealing to those players looking for a good environment to play at a high level. If Irsay continues down this path, the Colts will be just one more organization that perpetually struggles due to poor ownership.

William Clay Ford Sr. passes away at 88

images
The owner of the Detroit Lions, William Clay Ford Sr., has passed away at the age of 88.

On Sunday, Ford Motor Co. announced that Ford died of pneumonia at his home. Ford was the last surviving grandson of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor and has been an owner of the Lions since 1964.

In November of 1963, Ford originally paid $4.5 million for the Detroit Lions franchise. According to Forbes, the Lions are now valued at $900 million. He was publically expected ownership of the team in January of 1964.

The team has won one playoff game (in 1991) and has never been to a Super Bowl in Ford’s 50-year term as the Lions’ owner. Ford was one of the softer owners in the NFL, hardly ever talking to the media. Much of the public speaking about the team had been done by his son, William Clay Ford Jr., in recent years.

The Detroit Lions are one of the few NFL franchises that has made it to the Super Bowl. The Lions have had 14 winning seasons and 10 playoff appearances under Ford’s ownership.

Ford worked for the Ford Motor Co. for 57 years and was named chairman of the company from 1957 until 1989. He was very active in the design decisions of many of Ford Motor’s cars during that duration.

Ford was then named the chairman of the executive committee of Ford in 1978.

The Lion’s vice chairman, William Clay Ford Jr. is probably going to take over the title running of the team. The Lions didn’t want to name him as the owner right away because of how recently the death happened.

All Ford dealerships across the US are going to raise their Ford and American flags to half-staff for the next 30 days.

With this death happening in the Lions organization, this is going to be motivation for the Lions to win a Super Bowl next year.

Littering And…. Littering And…

Courtesy of Broken Lizard's Super Troopers

Courtesy of Broken Lizard’s Super Troopers

Littering and… Littering and… Smoking the reefer. A special shout-out to all of those out there who picked up on my Super Troopers reference, and for those who did not catch on, I am going to talk about professional athletes who smoke marijuana.Too many athletes in today’s world of sport deal with the police on a regular basis. Players in every region of sports have been involved with smoking pot- from Michael Phelps to Ricky Williams to Carmelo Anthony– failing drug tests and subsequently loosing millions of dollars from their contract and advertisement deals has been a part of sport since athletes began to be paid.

Recently, the NFL has been in the forefront of the marijuana news. Numerous athletes have spoken out against the league’s rules that prosecute players for testing positive for THC during their mandated drug tests. Most fans of the NFL would think that this is ridiculous; but in a time where Colorado and Washington have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, there may be situations where it would not be so crazy.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

One of those situations has materialized in the form of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner. Browner has been suspended indefinitely from playing in the NFL for failing three drug tests, but it’s a bit trickier than it seems. In 2005, Browner tested positive for marijuana for his first time, due to his suspension and a forearm injury, he hardly played a game in the NFL.

In 2006, Brandon Browner was cut from the Denver Broncos, and followed work to the Canadian Football League. After returning to the NFL to play for the Seahawks, Browner once again failed a drug test for marijuana. However, the league informed him that since he had missed a mandatory NFL drug test during in his time in Canada, this was not his second, but third, strike.

Currently, Brandon Browner is planning on filing a lawsuit against the NFL, hoping to dispute his indefinite suspension. Browner is claiming that the NFL never informed him of his need to take the test while not being employed by the league or being a part of the NFL Players Association.

Overall, this writer is tired of hearing about players wanting to smoke pot. Professional athletes get paid millions upon millions of dollars to play their sport, with these size paychecks, it makes sense that players need to abide by federal law. Marijuana- although legal in different forms in various states- is still illegal on the federal level, and if they want to smoke that badly then they need to find a profession that does not require a drug test; or they can just deal with it and enjoy their immense riches while sober.

Chemistry: The Glue that Holds it All Together

Dolphins

Anytime team dynamics get brought up to the media, the first word that comes to mind is “Chemistry”. When selecting which teams are going to have success, chemistry seems as important as the in-game strategy or the players that suit up. Dating back to classic sports movies like Hoosiers or Remember the Titans, no team can have success without creating a unified community.

However, many in the sports world must have slept through that day of class. Take the Miami Dolphins for example. One of the most recognizable sports franchises in the country, but they have been in hot water for just this issue. Charged by an independent NFL investigator with not fostering an acceptable work environment, offensive line coach Jim Turner and athletics trainer Kevin O’Neill have been fired while Coach Joe Philbin has effectively put himself in a win-or-fired situation.

The problem the Dolphins organization has is chemistry. Richie Incognito saw his place on the offensive line as the older brother who gave his siblings a hard time, while Jonathan Martin played no part in the family and saw himself as the harassed outsider. The line lacked chemistry, leading to problems on and off the field. These complications resulted in a media hail storm and sub-par performance from a group that is composed of mostly above average lineman.

Using the stellar model that the Dolphins set down, is chemistry more important than individual players’ talent? That is the question that commentators on the Indiana Pacers are asking. After trading long-time Pacer, Danny Granger, to the Philadelphia 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, some critiques are saying that the team has effectively given up their trip to the NBA finals.Granger

Media outlets say that Granger was a big part of the team chemistry, and without him, the entire flow of the game will be changed. But let us act as rational observers and look at a few of the facts. First, the Pacers cruised to the best record in the NBA without their backup small forward, showing that the team is capable of winning without him. Second, Turner and Allen bring young talent to the Pacer’s bench, bolstering the deepest, most skilled bench in the entire National Basketball League. Third, the amount of money saved on Granger’s contract will give the Pacers more cap room to sign blooming superstar, Lance Stephenson, who will need a huge pay day to keep his constant threat of a triple-double in Indiana.

Overall, yes chemistry is a vital component to winning on any level, but there is something to be said about team leadership manufacturing team chemistry on the fly. In the Dolphins’ case, team management was not strong enough to create healthy relationships between feuding players. However,
with the knowledge of Larry Bird and the on-court leadership of veteran players like David West, the Pacers may be able to overcome their chemistry problem and claim their first NBA title.

Richard Sherman – Turning Negatives into Positives

Richard ShermanAfter shouting aimlessly during an interview on national television, many sports fans throughout the nation started to categorize Richard Sherman as a “thug.” Graduating with a GPA of 4.5 from Standard University, is he really this out of control, ruckus creating “thug”?

Yeah, he’s created a lot of controversy immediately after winning the NFC championship game, as he aggressively yelled in his interview with Erin Andrews, to the moment he was talking smack about Peyton Manning “throwing ducks” days before the Super Bowl. But does that qualify him as a “thug?” Absolutely not. I get where the controversy comes from and the uproar by many fans, but all athletes get cocky and too into themselves these days.

Besides the negative publicity Sherman has received, there are some positives that we all can get out of this story. His acts demonstrate how a victim can fall so quickly to the stereotypes people make so easily these days, based on judging someone from the cover, or the outside.  He also exhibits what hard work can accomplish; he’s now part of a team that won their first Super Bowl in franchise history, can you say that?

We can all take something from Richard Sherman’s controversial acts these last few weeks. Yes, he got a little too into himself, but really his growing passion and dedication to what he loves has left him with the greatest accomplishment he will ever know. What have you done recently to display your burning passions, to stand up for your desires, all in which resulted with a personal accomplishment?

Walking Away with his Head Held High?

Source: AP

Source: AP

Since 2010, Peyton Manning has been in the NFL spotlight for more than just his astonishing statistics, he has been drilled with questions about the stability of his neck and his future as an NFL quarterback. Little known to most Manning fans, as a child, Peyton was diagnosed with potential problems with his neck curvature; however he was cleared by doctors to continue playing if new problems did not arise. As time went on and Peyton strung together 20 years without missing a game, his neck injury was in the rear view and he was flooring the gas to the first overall pick, multiple MVP awards, and a Superbowl victory.

However, Superman can’t forget kryptonite and Manning can’t forget his delicate neck. Manning was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in 2010 and a herniated disc in 2011, resulting in successive surgeries to fix the problem. The surgery required that the damaged disc from his spinal cord be removed, filled the space with a bone graft, and welded the vertebrae together with a plate and screws. This technique is known as lumbar fusion, and along with its success comes long-term side effects including a decreased range of motion and an increased risk of the degeneration in the levels above and below the fusion. These complications occur in times of increased physical labor and can result in further surgeries. But when does Peyton Manning have increased physical expenditure or for that matter have his whole body collide with a 300 pound lineman?

Fast forward time- past the NFL passing records, past the MVP, past the two playoff games- to Superbowl media day when Peyton Manning is asked the question that every great player is asked, is it time to win the Superbowl and ride off into the sunset? Although Peyton Manning is a man among boys, he still is a man none the less. As each day of practice ended, so did another day of Manning’s health and youth. In a study done reported by Steven Connor, science editor of Independent Magazine, revealed that as animals age, the gene Lin28a is slowly deactivated in the body. In testing done on laboratory mice, an increased production of the gene resulted in superior healing and tissue repair. In Manning’s case, he does not seem ready to leave the game. However, the decision doesn’t lie in his hands, rather his neck and its stability.

After Manning’s crushing defeat against the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XVIII, it does not seem likely that Peyton is ready to go silently; but his next season rests on a physical examination in March. According to his contract, Manning is required to pass a physical examination this offseason. If the examination reveals structural damage, he may be forced into early retirement.

As a fan of Peyton Manning and everything that he has done for the NFL and its fans, I hope that his retirement date stays securely in his hands. On the other hand, until that date in March, no one can be sure whether we will be seeing number 18 on the gridiron again.