The Roger Goodell, Ray Rice & NFL Mess and How to Fix It:

Roger Goodell NFL Ray Rice

In the Mount Rushmore of evil sports entities, you will find 4 sports organizations; FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the college sports titan NCAA, and the NFL.

For years the NFL has enjoyed cult status, always overcoming controversy due to fans loyalty to the sport.  Apple had nothing on the NFL.  Let’s look at just the short term history of the NFL and why Roger Goodell and the NFL needs to be taken to task by sponsors and fans.

The NFL is a Non-Profit; no Taxes.

I listened to Ann Killion during an interview on the radio the other day.  Ann is a local sports writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  I like Ann a lot and I think she’s really good.  She said something though that bothered me.  She sheepishly said the NFL doesn’t pay taxes or they are exempt from it or something.  To this day it still blows me a away how many fans and sports writers still don’t know the status of the NFL.

Isn’t that important to know so you can understand some peoples outrage?  Yes, the NFL is a non-profit organization that is exempt from taxes.  On average they make 9-14 billion dollars a year.  They do not have to talk about their profits because they are not a public company and the only way most find out about their profits is that the Green Bay Packers are a public company.  People take the profits that are given to the Packers and times it by 32 to get the total.

The NFL ONLY reacts to Public Outcry & Loss of Corporate Sponsorship:

The NBA did the same thing with the Los Angeles Clippers ownership saga.  It didn’t matter that Donald Sterling had decades of racial remarks and slurs.  It didn’t matter that he was sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination and then had to pay the biggest housing discrimination fine in U.S. history.  What did him in?  It was a gold digging groupie who caught him on a cell phone during a jealous rant.

It would be funny to be honest if it wasn’t such a serious topic.  To watch the NFL now kissing the butt of the public as well as their sponsors makes a person laugh, or shake their head.  Now players that the NFL never dealt with like Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers (who severely beat his ex while putting a rifle to her head threatening to kill her) are now being suspended.

TMZ of all people made people realize that the NFL lied about not having the video and now Roger Goodell says they may have had it, but he didn’t see it.

That would be fine but people should also remember Roger Goodell’s words when he suspended Saints coach Sean Payton.  The Saints defense had put bounties out on opposing players.  Roger Goodell said that even though coach Payton didn’t know about the bounties, he was supposed to be in charge and should know everything that was going on in the organization.  He cited the year long suspension was a lack of organizational control.  It’s funny how Roger Goodell now wants a pass on his lack of control.  The Ray Rice case was the biggest story in the NFL in a long time so for him to say he did not see the video is shady at best.

The NFL’s treatment of Fan’s, Referee’s, Cheerleaders:

I always love to see the prices of the superbowl.  Parking this year was $150 per car!!!  Thanks NFL!!  That is comical.  What’s worse is that fans pay it just to be at the event.  If Roger Goodell told me that I was going to have to pay $150 to park, I’d slap him in the back of the head and say “hell to the no!”.  Many families have been out priced and can no longer afford to go to games.  It’s pure greed by the NFL.

Unfortunately though, some fan’s treatment of players, cheerleaders and referee’s mimic the NFL’s to be honest.  When a player is underpaid and wants to renegotiate a contract, fans lose their minds saying, “the player signed it so they need to honor it”.  Well that would be great, but 90% of contracts in the NFL are NOT honored by the owners or the teams!  When a player is cut or made to renegotiate their contracts or be let go, I’ve never once heard a fan say, “they signed the contract, and the owners now need to honor it!”.  Fans will turn on millionaires, but give passes to billionaires.

The NFL’s treatment of cheerleaders is ridiculous.  Teams make an average of 1 to 1.5 million a year off of the efforts of the cheerleaders.  Most NFL cheerleaders do not make minimum wage!  Many fans act like NFL cheerleaders are just airhead groupies but surprisingly many are much smarter than that.  Many are college students, looking for advanced degrees, and some are even mom’s!  Some are becoming doctors and one Eagles cheerleader is an office in the National Guard.  They are made to go to fundraisers and PR events for free, and some get paid only when the season ends.  Many say they love going to children’s hospitals and do outreaches but the lack of pay makes it difficult.  The courts agreed.  The Oakland Raiders cheerleaders just won a 1.5 million dollar lawsuit due to their lack of pay and poor treatment.

The NFL and the owners said during the last referee’s strike that they could not afford to pay the ref’s full time.  Many of the NFL ref’s have secondary jobs such as selling insurance.  You can’t afford to pay them a six figure salary and train them year round so that there won’t be so many bad calls every year?  Even when the game is hurt by not having full time ref’s, the integrity of the game takes a back seat to NFL profits.

How the NFL has Handled Their Past Controversies:

The NFL congressional hearings on the investigation of how the NFL handled concussions is what changed my mind about the NFL.  I actually watched them so during that time no, I wasn’t a fun date.

Study after study was brought to the NFL from highly respected researchers showing the damage that prolonged concussions can have on the brain.  All the NFL did was say, “we don’t agree with those findings”.  The NFL brought out their own findings and they were contradicting, incomplete, and puzzling at best.

The NFL was ready to leave the hearings but Representative Maxine Waters finally had enough of their arrogant display.  She stated that if the NFL didn’t choose to act, that maybe the Anti Trust status that protected them wasn’t warranted.  She also stated that the issue may need to be criminally investigated.  Just like now, Roger Goodell and the NFL turned into Eddie Haskell and “saw the light”.  The NFL then accepted the findings and the head physician for the NFL, Dr. Ira Casson was paid off and took the sword for the NFL and resigned.  The NFL put their palms on their heads and claimed of being naive and unknowing and promised to implement concussion controls.

All of this domestic violence should have been dealt with over 10 years ago.  They had a problem with domestic violence but the worst case of all happened in 1999.  Rae Caruth was a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers.  He was casually hooking up with different women but he ended up getting Cherica Adams pregnant.  He wanted her to abort the baby but she wouldn’t.  While 8 months pregnant, Caruth was driving in front of her.  He stopped his car and 2 people that he hired pulled up beside her and shot into the car several times.  Before she passed out she called 911 and told the operator what happened.  Adams died, but an emergency c-section saved the child.  Caruth was amazingly given bail and told if one of the people died, he’d have to turn himself in.  Of course he fled.  He was finally caught and has been in prison ever since.  He is getting out in 2018.

I remember specifically because ESPN covered it some but eventually it went away quick.  It was bad publicity and they wanted it to just go away.  The NFL rarely if ever talked about the case.  HBO Real Sports did a story on him.

Isn’t a hit on a woman enough to get some sort of a statement and/or guidelines in regards to violence to women?

Two years ago Kansas City Chiefs Javon Belcher, shot his 22 year old girlfriend 9 times at their house.  When Belcher’s mom ran into the room he kissed his girlfriend on the head and told his mom he was sorry.  He then went to the Chiefs facility and shot himself in the head in front of Chiefs officials.  Again, nothing was done by the NFL to address this problem.  The only thing to come out of it was the controversy of Bob Costas anti gun stance.

There have been countless arrests for assaults and instances of domestic violence in the NFL but the answers are always the same.  “Don’t look at the NFL; this is a societal problem.  Domestic violence happens everywhere but people just look at the NFL because it makes the press.  Mom, Billy did the same thing……”  Alright I added the last one, but do you see how stupid those arguments are?  Give the NFL a pass because it’s also seen in society or other people do worse things?  It’s unacceptable.

Why is the NFL getting away with it?:

First of all when a beer company like Budweiser is threatening to pull some sponsorship because you lack character and morals, then you know you have issues.  What has partially saved the NFL is the shallow nature of the social media society we live in.  Sometimes it’s hard to get people to read more than 3 lines in an email, so expecting people to do research or read articles is naive at best.  We live in a shallow society that we want our stories in 2-3 minute intervals, and we want it in high definition video.  People can do horrendous things but it seems that it doesn’t count unless it’s on Youtube.

Let’s also be real.  Morals and character in the U.S. are very lacking.  Statistics show 50% of married people are cheating on their spouses; white collar crime is almost a part of our U.S. business structure.  Americans also make excuses for the behavior of groups, products, celebrities and athletes that they like.  When Justin Beiber had photos of him in strip clubs, his fans said they were photoshopped because he was too good a person to do those things.  Cults are a weird thing and the NFL for some has cult status.

Another thing that has saved the NFL is society does NOT protect or respect women.  All over the world the atrocities women go through is criminal and tragic.  Rape in the U.S. has one of the lowest conviction rates of any felony.  Women are usually murdered by men they’ve had past or present relationships with.  When football players; especially college players; get arrested for rape or sexual crimes, the first thing fans do is say the woman is a slut and there isn’t enough evidence.  Why?; Because in a sick way they just care about their team and that they win, and they don’t care about right or wrong.  And even if the woman is a slut; you can’t rape them.

What Needs to Be Done:   

Roger Goodell needs to resign.  He has enough money to retire for 3 lifetimes.  Using his own words, “he lacked organizational control”.

Upon entering the NFL, there needs to be ongoing meetings by teams and the NFL about conduct and consequences.  I know they meet with them now but it’s not nearly enough and it isn’t working.  If someone is having issues in a relationship, they need to get into counseling.  Every team should have a counseling team and should be hooked up to 24 hour on call telephone support.  Some do this already, some don’t.

Former broke NFL players who have tons of kids with several women need to be paid to come and talk to the players.  They need to see what will happen if they act irresponsibly.  People forget these players are still very young and some aren’t very educated (thank you NCAA).  Some also haven’t had good parental guidance so I would also do sex education classes to teach them about STD’s, groupies, and being trapped by having kids.  What is being done now isn’t enough and every stone needs to be turned.  Education is key.

If a player is arrested for felony domestic violence, you are suspended WITH pay immediately until the facts come out.  You cannot participate with the team in any way and you cannot go to the media or social media and speak for the team.  If you are found guilty of a felony, you are out of the league for 2 years.  If it’s a misdemeanor you are out one year.  This can be tweaked in the future to be more severe but I think it’s a good start.

Many times the people that are abused are financially stuck in the relationship.  If the player is found guilty, the team and the NFL MUST pay $100k/year in damages for 4 years.  This will allow the abused to not have to stay in the relationship and to either get an education or further their education or to get a trade.

Some will disagree, but you are taking entities that make billions per year and they need to be made accountable.  The NFL likes to talk about “organizational control” well then be in control of your organization during good and bad times.  If employees do damage, companies have to pay for it.  The NFL should show just how serious their stance is on domestic violence by putting their money where their mouth is.  If money is at stake; even only $100k; greedy owners and the NFL will take notice.  It’s called accountability.

Personally I think the same punishment should be done for assaults but let’s take it a step at a time.  Obviously these things are not written in stone but I think this is a good foundation to work on.

What Does it All Mean?:

Fans and sponsors have power.  The NFL’s manic reaction to the negative publicity shows the good of social media.  If sponsors don’t react, then they need to be boycotted.  If you as a fan don’t want to root for certain teams or players because of their off the field actions, then make your voice be heard by not giving them your money.

I don’t watch the NFL with the passion that I used to.  I am still going to watch the NFL but as I have for years, I don’t look up to players or celebrities.  I love the game and I used to go to many games but now I rarely go.  I’m talking with my dollars.  I appreciate their talents on the field but many have skeletons in their closet that are pretty deep.

My hopes are that people continue to wake up to the NFL and Roger Goodell.  Their past is so dirty that it would make Ebenezer Scrooge and Monte Burns of the Simpsons cringe.  It’s unacceptable and the only way they will change is if they are made to.  For them, it’s still all about the Benjamin’s.

“Week 2 Preview: Houston Texans @ Oakland Raiders”

week 2 nfl texans at raiders

Week 2 Preview Houston Texans (1-0) @ Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Sunday, September 14, 1:25 PM on CBS; O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

(betting line as of now: Raiders +3)

My Raiders betting Record:  1-0 (Raiders +5 ½ last week)

Prediction: Raiders 20 Texans 17

Bet:  Raiders +3

Houston had a nice defensive effort against Washington last week and dominated them at home with a 17-6 win.  They did lose Jadeveon Clowney for up to 6 weeks with an injury.

The Raiders was dominated at times giving up over 200 yards rushing to the NY Jets.  They only had 84 yards of total offense going into the fourth quarter.  The Jets defensive scheme was to take away the run and they did that.  The Raiders did not open up their offense and it limited what they could do.

The Raiders will win if:

The Raiders have to open up their offense and throw downfield.  They also have to re-establish the tight end in their offense.  The Jets often had 7 to 8 people up front but the Raiders did not adjust.  If the Raiders can throw downfield, this will open up the line of scrimmage and allow them to run the ball, thus taking the pressure off of Derek Carr.

The Raiders linebacker position will be thin this weekend with various injuries.  Miles Burris played well and so did Sio Moore.

The key defensively will be if Oakland can control the line of scrimmage.  Giving up 200 yards on the ground to a Geno Smith lead offense isn’t exactly stellar defense.  Even with them playing so much, there is no excuse for that against New York.  If they can stop the run, journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will eventually make a mistake.

The Texans will win if:

The Texans will win if they can run the ball.  They can’t win games where Fitzpatrick is throwing 50 times.  They have to establish the running game and control the line of scrimmage.  This will take the pressure off of Ryan from having to make lots of big plays.

On defense they must do what the Jets did; dare the Raiders to throw deep and take away the run running game.  This will allow their DL to pin back their ears and rush Carr at will on passing downs.  If they make the Raiders offense predictable, this will be a long day in Oakland.

Conclusion:

This should be a close, low scoring game.  The Raiders are already in a must win situation.  They have the most difficult schedule in the NFL and this is about as easy as games get for them.  They have to open it up and win this game.  If they use the same game plan as last week, they will lose.

Look for Carr to hit some balls downfield early and for them to get the crowd going.  This game can go either way but I would be shocked if the Raiders don’t open it up.  The Raiders have to take what the defense gives them.

Final Score:  Raiders 20     Texans 17

“Easy & Fast Mexican Wedding Cakes with a Chocolate Kiss”

mexican wedding cakes

Julia Child would love this cookie.  These delicate shortbread-style cookies are made with chopped, roasted pecans or walnuts, rolled in powdered sugar and are an elegant addition to any fiesta or party. They are also known with names and variations such as Pecan Balls, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, Pecan Sandies, Swedish Tea Cakes.  This is my take on it.  The chocolate kiss brings it over the top. Add a cup of coffee on a cool crisp morning and it’s pick up!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped, roasted (see below) *I prefer walnuts
  • An additional 3/4 cup powdered sugar to roll cookies in
  • OPTIONAL: An additional 1/4 teaspoon kosher, rock or sea salt (or salt of your choice)
  • OPTIONAL: Package of your favorite Hershey chocolate kisses.

Preparation:

Add butter, powdered sugar and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Mix at medium-high speed until completely mixed (you can do it by hand though). In a seperate bowl, mix flour and salt. Mix the flour into the butter about 1/2 cup at a time until well incorporated. Carefully fold in the nuts.

Take a small amount of dough and roll it into a one inch ball. Continue and place the balls on a lightly greased cookie sheeet, about 2 inches apart.  If you are using chocolate kisses, take enough dough to completely cover the chocolate kiss.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Mix additional powdered sugar. Roll the warm cookies in the powdered sugar mixture.  Wait a big until cool, and enjoy!

To Roast Pecans or Walnuts-
Place pecans on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

Variations and Tips:

If you like a little salt and sweet taste, put a little sea, rock or kosher salt in the powdered sugar mixture that you put the warm cookies in after they bake.  The crystals will be too big to melt and you get a unique flavor.  Don’t overdo it.  A lot goes a long way.

Instead of Hershey’s kisses,  you can use dried fruit like cranberry’s, apricots, cherries, prunes, dates, or anything else you like.

For the decadent and over the top treat, use Ferrero Rocher chocolates instead of Hershey Kisses and cover them with the cookie dough before baking.  The cookies will be large and beyond decadent.  Use your imagination and have fun!  They won’t last!

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ NY Jets; Week 1: Sept. 7th, 2014

2013-raiders-jets-story

 

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ NY Jets; Week 1:

NY Jets  19 (1-0)

Oakland Raiders  14 (0-1)

 

Offense:

Rex Ryan did exactly what most teams did last year against the Raiders.  They put 7-8 men in the block, took away the run, and dared them to throw downfield.  The Raiders game plan was almost exactly what Rex Ryan would have wanted.

Derek Carr had a predictable first week.  He struggled against the rush and has a lot to learn but he kept his poise and made some nice throws.  Apologists will put all the blame on OC Greg Olsen; which some is warranted; but Carr is in a learning process and it will take time.

The Raiders game plan was awful though.  Bubble screens and quick flare passes are exactly what the Jets were hoping to see.  Many times in the first half, the Jets put a defensive back on the line and had 7-8 guys in the box.  With so many people near the line of scrimmage, there is no way that you can be expected to run so those saying the run game wasn’t there don’t get that it was taken away.

During a rare time when the Jets didn’t blitz, Carr hit WR James Jones on a great catch from 30 yards out.  The Raiders could have used a lot more of those downfield passes mixed with some slants and TE passes over the middle.  The running game had no chance against this defense but the lack of being able to pass did nothing to open things up.

 

GRADE:  D+

The Raiders had 84 total yards of offense going into the 4th quarter.  Against a Jets defense that might have near the least feared corners in the NFL, is just terrible.  The Raiders game plan was awful.  The Jets copied the same game plan that everyone else did last year; make the Raiders throw down field.  The Raiders have to open things up and use the tight end to keep the safeties and linebackers honest.

 

Defense: 

On the good side Sio Moore played a good game.  He was active and ended up with 13 tackles.  Another player who quietly did well too was another linebacker Miles Burris who added 13 of his own.  Khalil Mack still has a ways to go but he played fairly well.  He did get lost on a couple of runs and missed twice on Geno Smith runs.

The DB’s are going to struggle at times but they held their own against the pass today.  Geno Smith isn’t Johnny Unitas but it still was a nice effort. Timeless safety Charles Woodsen made a great interception early in the game.

The defensive line was awful at times.  Other than Justin Tuck, no one was consistent.  Lamarr Woodley and Pat Sims were invisible at times and Anthony Smith was up and down.  The Raiders had little to no pass rush unless they blitzed which was hard to watch.  The Jets don’t have a good offense so the Raiders need to play much better.

The Raiders run defense was absolutely awful.  They gave up 202 yards including a long 71 yard run to seal the win for the Jets.

The Raiders in the past could not rush the passer with only 4 rushing, and they could not stop the run.  So far it’s the same pattern as in the past and that leads to losses.

 

Grade C-

The Raiders were on the field for so long because of the anemic offense but you still don’t give up 200 yards against the run in the NFL.  The defensive line looked terrible at times.

 

Coaching: 

When you start a rookie quarterback you keep things vanilla; I get that; but you could not have called worse plays if Rex Ryan was calling them for the Raiders.

It was a terrible game plan against the Jets who took away the run having so many defenders at the line of scrimmage.  You have to adjust at half time and throw long on the outside or throw slants.  You can even try to get the tight end over the middle more.  You just don’t try to run and throw quick outs and bubble screens.

On defense the problems were more physical than mental.  The 4 man pass rush of the Raiders could not get to the quarterback or stop the run.

No one on the Jets is scary on offense and the Raiders didn’t do as well as they had hoped.  The DL and LB’s did not keep their lanes allowing Geno Smith to run more than they should including 2 long runs for first downs.

I wasn’t a Dennis Allen or Greg Olson fan last year and I feel the same way this year.

Grade D+

The penalties were limited so that was a positive but the game plans and the in game adjustments just aren’t there.

 

Special Teams: 

Sebastian Janikowski didn’t get a field goal attempt.  Marquette King had a good day punting including a 61 yarder and Latavius Murray did an adequate job returning kicks.  The Raiders coverage teams didn’t play overly well with Saalim Hakeem taking 2 kickoffs for 65 yards, and Jalen Saunders taking 2 punts for 15 yards.  Special teams didn’t have a huge role in this game.

 

GRADE:  C+

Nothing really epic to report here other than there were no attempts for Janikowski.

 

Overall:

The Raider fans had high hopes on opening day and this one hurt.  With all of the money spent on signings you’d thought the defense would play better.  The lack of a pass rush especially in the first half was glaring.  The defense was on the field a lot but there is still no excuse for giving up over 400 yards total offense and 202 yards on the ground to the NY Jets.  What will happen when the Raiders play a really good offense like Denver, San Diego, the 49ers or Seattle?

Derek Carr did as well as I thought he would do being a rookie quarterback.  I don’t know if starting a rookie QB against a Rex Ryan defense was overly wise, but Carr has the mentality and the talent to excel.  He had some good moments and some bad ones and you just have to be patient.  The Raiders have to throw deep & use slants and the tight end more to keep defenses honest.

Maybe I’m missing something but I was shocked at the poor offensive game plan and the lack of adjustments.  That’s not acceptable at the NFL level.  Teams now know if you fill the box with defenders and don’t allow the Raiders to run, they can’t and/or won’t throw downfield.  They have to open things up.

The Raiders played hard and they limited the penalties which is a good thing to see.  I like the Raiders linebackers a lot and I think they need to be a part of the pass rush more often.  Burris, Moore and Mack are doing well.

I predicted a 20-17 win by the Jets and they won 19-14.  The spread was 5 ½ when I saw it and like some on ESPN said, the odds makers loved the last touchdown by the Raiders.

 

Grade:  C-

     If this were the Broncos or Seattle it would be a better grade.  To give up 202 yards to the Jets on the ground and only have 84 total offensive yards to the Jets defense going into the 4th quarter is just not good.  The Raiders had some bright spots but these are the types of games that they have to win if they want to get to .500 again.  Right now their Linebackers and safeties have to carry their defense, and offensive coordinator Greg Olson has to open up the play book and throw downfield.  Their schedule is brutal so these winnable games are very important.

 

Next Opponent:  v.s. Houston Texans (1-0; last game, win @ home against the Washington Redskins 17-6)

 

Outlook:

Next weeks game with the Texans in Oakland is a flat out must win.  The Raiders are in the easy (if you can call it that) part of their schedule.   I think the Raiders have to go 4-3 in their first 7 games if they are going to get to .500.

In their last 9 they play at Seattle, San Francisco, Denver twice, and tough conference games with San Diego and Kansas City.  They also play at Cleveland in late October.  Every week is going to be a challenge and hopefully they will open things up next week.

Joan Rivers is Gone; Now Maybe Her and Johnny Carson Can Make Peace

joan rivers johnny carson

 

There is no in between when it comes to Joan Rivers; you either love her or you hate her.

I really don’t remember all that much about Joan Rivers career because I never really followed her.  I researched a lot about her and one thing for sure, she blazed trails.

She gave most of the credit for her beginning success to Johnny Carson.  In a touching appearance on the tonight show, Johnny read the dedications in her book.  Joan thanked her husband for making it possible and then she thanked Johnny Carson for making it ALL possible.  Carson’s support of her and many comics was unwavering.  The countless number of comics that he made were epic.  The only thing he demanded; and wow did he demand it; was loyalty and respect.

The falling out with Carson was hard on Joan Rivers.  She had an offer to do her own show on another network and realized that her days may be numbered when NBC only gave her a one year renewal contract.  She wanted the new show badly.

Many of Carson’s hosts had their opportunity for other shows, and all of them; out of respect; always got Johnny’s blessings before moving on.  Joan went about it another way.  She said nothing to Johnny and signed a contract.  Two days after signing, she heard that Carson was incensed that she would disrespect him.  For Johnny, it was the ultimate sign of disloyalty.  Rivers said that she called Johnny two days later and he said nothing and just hung up; they never spoke again.  Johnny Carson said that she never called him.

Her show was a disaster.  She tried to be something she thought the audience wanted and it backfired.  She wanted more control than what the network was willing to give so Arsenio Hall took her place. Shortly after the show was cancelled, her husband killed himself.

Another thing people say is that Johnny wasn’t exactly into that type of humor, and I think as Joan aged, she got nastier and it turned Johnny off even more.  There were stories that she would see him in a restaurant and he’d ignore her.  Johnny insisted that Joan never communicated with him so he just moved on.  Ah, Hollywood drama.

Joan was a rich man’s Kathy Griffin before Kathy Griffin.  There wasn’t anyone she wouldn’t rip on or make fun of, including herself.  She was the kind of comic that would say anything for attention and controversy.  The new generation likes that type of drama so she’s found a new audience.  She was one smart cookie.

Joan reinvented herself many times over.  She wrote books and then became a fashionista of sorts, making fun of celebrities and the crazy things some of them wore on shows like the Fashion Police.  Joan became popular with a new generation who are obsessed with sarcasm.  What they don’t get is that Joan was sarcasm before it was the cool and in thing to do.

Today sadly Joan Rivers is no more.  She lost her life after she stopped breathing during a minor surgical procedure.  Her daughter Melissa; who I think owes ANY and ALL fame and success to her mom; is her only child.  Melissa adored her mom and it’s a huge loss at any age.

I like watching old clips of Joan in the 70’s and 80’s.  She was a funny person and she shined on the tonight show.  She had charm and didn’t go out of her way to offend as she did later in life.  Some are not big fans of hers and there are many that down right don’t like her; but whatever you think about her; just like Phyllis Diller, she blazed a trail for female comics that should be respected.

Wherever they are, somehow you hope that her and Johnny can finally patch things up.  Grudges usually are really not worth it; especially eternal ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland Raiders Preview for 2014-15 NFL Season

BlackHoleFans

Oakland Raiders 2014-15 Season Preview

Last years prediction: 4-12

Last years record: 4-12

Overview:

Last year saw the last of the salary cap purging by GM Reggie McKenzie.  The mess that was created from years of overspending for average talent had ended.  What was left was a team with a lot of heart but little depth or talent.  Even playing the 3rd easiest schedule in the NFL, the Raiders could only get 4 wins.

There is hope in Oakland though with a solid draft.  Derek Carr has played well and shows a lot of potential and I love guard Gabe Jackson.  He will be a solid guard for years to come.  I was one of the very few that still isn’t sold on Khalil Mack.  So many predicting greatness for him never saw him play.  So far in pre season his reviews are mixed.  I’m hopeful that he evolves into the special player the Raiders need.

Unfortunately just like in the last 10 years, I’ve been pretty right on about the Raiders.  I’ve predicted their seasons within 1 game each year.  I’ve also been right on a lot about their draft picks including Jamarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and all of the fast DB’s that can’t guard anyone.  (DJ Hayden will soon add to that mix.)  I’m still in shock over not drafting Star Lotulelei. 

Quarterback

There are too few great QB’s anymore in the NFL.  Even with the ridiculous new rules the last 3 years that make breathing next to a WR a penalty, the quarterback play in the NFL is at times just bad.  I don’t blame Reggie McKenzie for the Flynn and Schaub experiments; he took chances and they just didn’t work out; but Matt Schaub in my mind isn’t a starter anymore.  He’s never had a great arm but he’s now lost arm strength.  Watching him throw an out pattern is as nerve wracking as parents watching their kid walk for the first time.

I like Derek Carr.  He’s got a good arm and is accurate on the run.  Like his brother David, he sometimes looks uncomfortable in the pocket and can lack accuracy from there at times.  He has to learn how to handle a rush better.  I think the Raiders made a solid pick.  Another coachable player with a good attitude.  Look for Carr to start very soon if not immediately.  Matt McGloin is a solid NFL backup with a lot of heart.

Grade:  C+ 

Carr will start sooner than later and with any rookie QB there will be growing pains.  He’ll look great at times and really bad at others.  The Raiders have a brutal schedule so look for the manic ups and downs on social media from Raider fans this year.

 

Running back

Maurice Jones-Drew was a great signing.  Many experts said he was done and he took it very personally.  He’s lost a lot of weight and is in the best shape of his life.  Look for a really good year from MJD.  Darren McFadden is a really good running back when healthy, and limiting his touches will help keep him healthy.

Last year the Raiders just couldn’t throw downfield and it hurt the running game.  Teams would almost dare the Raiders to pass and the running backs could find rushing yards hard to find.  Latavius Murray is finally healthy and is a solid backup that will have his moments.  Marcel Reese is only 28 and is a stud at full back and needs to be utilized more in the offense.

        Grade:  B+ 

Jones-Drew and McFadden are a solid 1-2 punch with Murray adding to the mix.  I still want to see more Marcel Reese.

 

Wide receiver

The Raiders have some nice WR this year, but the problem is they really don’t have a #1 WR.  If your QB is Tom Brady you can get away with that.  The Raiders don’t have Tom Brady.  James Jones was signed from Green Bay and he’s a solid player.  Rod Streater is a nice number 3 option but he still will drop an easy pass or two.  Denarius Moore is a good #3.  Look for Andre Holmes and Brice Butler to have their moments.  Greg Little is an enigma and looks like a rookie playing in a hall of fame WR body.  He may be the odd man out.

        Grade:  C +  

The Raiders just don’t have that #1 talent or big deep threat that they need.  Next year they have to get one.

 

Tight end

The Raiders need more production from their tight ends.  Mychal Rivera was a pleasant surprise but getting only 38 catches out of your best tight end isn’t enough.  David Ausberry will back him up.

          Grade:  C – 

Rivera would be a nice safety valve for when the Raiders QB needs a clutch catch.  Greg Olson needs to utilize the tight end more in his offense.

 

Offensive line

The offensive line just got better with the addition of rookie Gabe Jackson.  He’s as solid a player as you get and he should be a staple at Guard.  Menelik Watson has struggled at times and he will be a backup with Khalif Barnes taking over for him at tackle.  The Raiders seem to do well in the running game but they have a lot of problems protecting the quarterback.

        Grade:  C+

The Raiders offensive line has to step up if Carr is going to be effective.  I’m sure they will roll out Carr at times to protect him and give him time. 

 

Defensive line

The Raiders defensive line was abysmal at times last year.  Teams found out if you double team Lamarr Houston, the Raiders really didn’t have much after that.  To make problems worse, instead of drafting DT Star Lotulelei who fell into their lap, they draft DJ Hayden. Another DB with a great 40 time who played on a team in a bad conference with a bad defense that once gave up 70 points.  Star helped transform Carolina’s defense and they now are an elite defensive team. 

Justin Tuck looks to still have gas in the tank and I look for him to have a good year.  Lamarr Woodley comes from the Steelers and his best football may be behind him but the Raiders are hoping a change of scenery is what he needed.  Pat Sims and Antonio Smith have got to step up their games.  Khalil Mack will also play at end sometimes.

        Grade:  C+

I said it then, not drafting Lotulelei was a HUGE mistake.  With Tuck and Woodley, the hopes are that they will now have a consistent outside pass rush.

 

Linebacker

This group has to live up to their potential.  Sio Moore is starting to come into his own.  Nick Roach has had a horrible pre season; especially in the Green Bay game; so hopefully he’ll be back in form for the regular season.  Khalil Mack struggled mightily in his first two games but he had a nice game against Green Bay.  He still has more of a ways to go than the Raiders would like to admit.  I like the depth at LB as well.  Hopefully this will be a position of strength for the Raiders.

 

Grade:  B-

I really like the potential of this group but as the great Woody Hayes said, potential means you ain’t no damn good yet.  For now they are the strength of the defense but their time is now.  The defensive front 7 makes or breaks your defense.

 

Secondary

The secondary struggled last year and has really struggled in pre season.  For that matter the Raiders starting defense has really struggled.  Starting offenses have found the going good against the Raiders starters.  Charles Woodsen has come out a couple of times saying that they have to get better.  The Raiders could do worse than Woodsen and Tyvon Branch at safety but the cornerback position looks wide open.  DJ Hayden can’t stay healthy and even when he is he was burned a lot last year and looked overwhelmed.  He also was not very good against the run.  Carlos Rogers was let go by the 49ers who felt his best football was behind him.  The Raiders pass rush better be in great form this year.

 

        Grade:  C-

There are more questions than answers for the Raiders secondary.  This group needs a lot of work and there isn’t much depth as well.

 

Special teams:

Sebastian Janikowski will be solid at kicker, and Marquette King shined as a punter last year. The Return game will be upgraded with Denarius Moore or TJ Carrie looking to return punts, and Latavius Murray and Kory Sheets being looked at for kick returns.

        Grade:  B

The Raiders should have a solid group on special teams.

 

Coaching Staff:

Dennis Allen needs results now.  A lack of talent has hurt him but many of the Raiders issues that have plagued them have not changed.  What bothers me about Allen though is that EVERY time he’s asked a question his answer is,” I’m not worried”.  When a man says I’m not worried so many times, that means one thing; he’s worried!  I just don’t see how Allen is back next year.  The Raiders still have issues with dumb penalties as well.  He just doesn’t look like he is in control out there at times.  It remains to be seen if Greg Olson is the answer at OC but Jason Tarver at defensive coordinator seems to be on the right track.  The Raiders lack of talent showed up more as the season wore on though.  Bob Saunders did a good job with the LB’s as linebacker coach.

        Grade:  C

I’m not sold on Greg Olson or Dennis Allen and the more time goes by I just don’t think Dennis Allen is the answer.  Dreams sometimes do come true and if the 49ers don’t win the Superbowl and Jim Harbaugh moves on, he sure would look good in a silver and black shirt.

 

Prediction:

The Raiders are now 53-123 in their last 176 games.  That is the worst stretch of football in the history of the sport; and that includes the decades before the NFL.  Benjamin Harrison was president when pro football started so that’s a long time.  As one Raider fan said on a local sports talk show, the time for positive energy and rah rah’s are over.  It’s time to win on the field.

In reality though there are few fan bases in sports that are as much fun and who are as passionate as Raider fans.  There is definitely a split in the fan base though.  Old school fans remember a magical time when the Raiders were the most winning team in SPORTS; not just the NFL.  Their standards are high and their patience is thin. In a 4 year stretch during the glory days, the Raiders were 47-9! 

When a team loses for so long though, a losing atmosphere comes and people grasp for straws to see anything positive.  No one likes constant negativity but some only want to hear the positive and bristle at any negative talk thinking that they are a better fan than others for doing so.  It reminds me of people that are vegans constantly telling everyone they are vegan acting like they are better than other eaters.  The problem is that isn’t reality, and people like that magnify the negative they hear.

I can’t write as a fan; I write as a writer and I have to tell the truth, good or bad.  Jack Nicholson said in the movie a Few Good Men, “you cant handle the truth”.  Unfortunately some can’t.  Even with so much losing, the Raiders have made some good moves in the right direction though.  Life in the NFL isn’t all gumdrops and puppy dogs.  It’s about winning.

Reggie McKenzie had an impossible job, and I like what he’s done with it.  He’s made some mistakes along the way but he seems like a good fit.  McKenzie is trying to get the standards back to a high level and bring about responsibility to this losing franchise.  The salary cap killed the Raiders so there was much work to do and he got it done.  If the Raiders had last years schedule, I could see a .500 season.  Unfortunately they have the #3 hardest schedule and that is too much to overcome.

I see the Raiders winning 6-7 games this year.  I see Derek Carr being the starter and even through growing pains, he gives hope for the future of the Raiders.  I don’t see Dennis Allen back after this year but I’m hopeful that Reggie McKenzie lasts.  There will be some good days in Oakland this year.  The Raiders are a year away from realistically talking playoffs.  They still need a #1 WR and a nip and tuck here and there on defense and offense before they get to the next level.

 

Predicted Record:

Last years’ prediction 4-12; actual record 4-12

2013-14 prediction: 6-10

There will be better days ahead for the Raiders.  They still are looking for a stadium, and aren’t in a hurry to pay for it themselves, so that will continue to be a mess.  Hopefully by next year, on and off the field the Raiders will get stability and bring back a winner to the great fans of the Raiders.

 

 

 

Enough with losing Fantasy Football Guru’s! After 27 titles, the easy way to win at Fantasy Football

fantasy football draft

 

Curing cancer is hard; fantasy football isn’t.  Keep it simple. 

How to Actually Win at Fantasy Football:

     The winning formula for fantasy sports is pretty simple and easy but few really follow it totally.  I don’t claim to be a guru or an expert but I have won over 71 documented trophies (1st, 2nd, or 3rd place finishes) in basketball, football and baseball; including 27 first place trophies.  The following is the strategy that I hope will help players of all levels.

Get into a league that you feel comfortable with:

     It’s important to be in a league that you like.  Smack talk is fun and is part of fantasy sports but some go too far.  I don’t want any drama.  I’ve been in leagues with immature hot heads and it can ruin the experience.  If you find a good league with good people, then stay in it.  Think about being a commissioner of a league and keep the same league every year.  I’m in three leagues that have been around for 9, 10, and 15 years respectively. 

     I personally would not be in a league with more than 12 people.  For me, ten people is best.  I’ve realized over the years that the more teams that are in a league, the greater the chance that there will be flakes who stop playing due to more teams missing the playoffs.  I’d rather be in a league with 8-10 hard core players that never quit, than in a big league where half are quitting by mid season.  Again, everyone is different so you have to do what is best for you. 

     It’s also important to be in a league where you feel good about the scoring settings, and team format.  I like a more basic format but you will see some leagues with 2-3 quarterbacks, 2-3 tight ends, and many other interesting configurations in the daily line up.  I personally would never be in a league like this, but there isn’t a right or wrong format.  Find a format that meets your taste.

 Join a league where you can be there for the draft:

     I personally would never join a league without a live draft.  The draft is part of the skill of fantasy football and although it isn’t vital to have a great team, it is really important.  I’ve been playing fantasy sports since 2000 and only once did I win a league with a really bad draft.  I ended up with only 4 original players but due to good pickups, I won. 

     We personally have a “shut up” rule.  While the draft is going on, no one can talk about a player that hasn’t been drafted yet.  Nothing is more sophomoric than people chatting during the draft ripping or talking up another player that hasn’t been drafted yet.  It’s kind of ridiculous to give opponents that you are trying to beat information on players.

 How I view the draft:

     I don’t follow anyone’s rankings.  I’ve never seen a ranking system that I liked or agreed with.  The best thing to do before the draft is to look up the players and list them by fantasy points.  List all of the players and look at their total scoring points, and then list them by position.  Keep these boxes open during the draft.  Running backs are at a premium so they usually go first.  Obviously their situations may have changed so draft accordingly.

     Realize that the NFL has changed.  With the new rules greatly favoring passing offenses, seven of the top 10 passing seasons of all time have been seen in the last 3 years.  The NFL is going to continue to see passing records fall so quarterbacks and wide receivers have taken on an even bigger role in fantasy sports. 

     I’m a huge Tom Brady fantasy football fan and he’s won a lot of leagues for me so more than a few times I have chosen him as my first pick.  My first and third picks though are usually for a running back and for my second pick I choose a quarterback.  Most players draft that way.

     I then make a list of my top running backs.  I stay away from teams that have a backfield by committee scenario.  I’ll draft a less rated player who has less competition over a better player who has a really good backup that steals carries.   

     I hate when drafters are not prepared for their pick.  If you are taking 90 seconds on every pick then it doesn’t show that you are thinking, it shows that you aren’t very prepared.  When your pick is coming up, don’t have 1 player that you want to pick.  Instead, have 2-3 guys that you want to draft in the pre-draft box.  If someone picks the pick you want, you will have a back-up plan.  If you have just one guy ready for your next pick and he gets picked, now you are scrambling for 90 seconds to draft someone, and that pick usually isn’t that good.  You have more than enough time between picks to choose 2-3 players that you want’ to draft.    

     There are always players wanting to trade.  We laugh because most of the players looking to trade, often are the ones that end up not playing the entire season because their teams aren’t very good. 

     If there is a player that you really want, don’t lose your mind trying to get them.  Most trade offers are fairly ridiculous and most fantasy players over estimate the players they have.  I trade on occasion but it’s not a big part of my team.

     I personally feel byes are overrated.  I do not EVER draft for the byes.  I never draft two tight ends or two defenses.  I would rather draft a backup running back behind a star than to have a backup tight end that may just help me one week of the year.  I don’t even care if I have 4 or 5 players on the same team when I draft.  My goal is to get the best possible players during a draft and I will scramble to field a team during my bye week and hope for the best.  As long as I get into the playoffs, I feel good about it.  Many will disagree but I’m telling you how I do it and my record of winning is pretty good.  I’m not going to draft for one week of the year.

     I personally would NOT draft a player who is always hurt.  It’s my pet peeve.  Players like Hakeem Nicks and Darren McFadden would never be on my team.  I also obviously stay away from players on really bad teams. 

     The schedule counts too.  For example the Raiders have the hardest schedule in the NFL based on last year’s results.  I have NO confidence in Matt Shaub and with a running back by committee scenario I’m not thrilled with any of their offensive players.  Last year the Raiders had the second easiest schedule and they won 4 games. 

     Things like not drafting a kicker until the last pick, being wary of rookie wide receivers, and picking the backups behind your superstar running backs (called handcuffing) are basic knowledge but I’ll add this for players that are just starting. 

Strategy during the year:

     Realize that everyone will be scouring the free agent market for any injuries or hot pickups.  The time that I look at picking up players is game day.  While the games are going on, I pay attention to injuries or benching of players and will pick up a player accordingly.  When big injuries occur during a game, picking up their replacement can make or break your season.  Twitter especially is your friend. 

     Never bench a player because they are playing a hard opponent.  Always go with your stars.  If it’s a borderline player, then you may want to replace them but always play your stars.

     Look at the NFL weather forecasts during the winter; it takes 30 seconds.  Just type in the term NFL weather forecasts in any search engine and it will show you all the cities.  Snow storms, cold, or severe downpours can greatly change a game and it’s scoring.  Florida is usually good for a few terrible rain storms and cities east of the Mississippi have epic snow storms on game days.

      You always want to win every game but your realistic goal is to make the playoffs and win your league.  Never quit.  In my favorite year, I was 0-4 and in last place.  I then had 2 great pickups due to injury and barely made the playoffs.  I methodically won in the playoffs and became league champion and the after party was sweet after all the ribbing I took!

     It’s smart to be patient but don’t be stupid.  If you draft a big name player that was rated high and he’s played terribly, make sure you give them four to six games before you bench them.  I try to keep them on my roster though, but every year there are huge busts. 

Game Day:

     The fantasy football shows on the major sports networks are popular but some of the time they are beyond inaccurate.  I don’t know how many times their “insiders” say someone may or may not play, and that player does the opposite.  It’s frustrating how wrong they are sometimes so I don’t rely on them.  Their rankings are also kind of bizarre to me so I watch them occasionally but most of the time I take it with a grain of salt.  If you look at how many times some of these guys are right on their predictions and ratings, or how some rarely if ever win a league, then you’d understand my skepticism.

     If I’m wondering about one of my players I usually do a search on a search engine to see if someone will play or not.  The best and fastest outlets are local news services who follow their teams closely and it will show up in the search. 

     I always set my teams on Saturday just in case Saturday night ends up being filled with adult beverages or fun times, or if I have something going on Sunday morning. 

Post season:

     If you know you are going to be in the playoffs, start dropping the players that are not going to be a factor, and get players that may help you win.  For instance teams that are way ahead in the standings and have clinched home field advantage or a playoff spot will many times bench their stars.  The ultimate pick up was when then Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns against Detroit on the final game of the 2011-2012 season.  Aaron Rodgers was hurt at the time and Flynn’s game allowed him to sign a big contract with Seattle, and helped fantasy players who had picked him up. 

Have Fun:

     Some people that have been playing fantasy sports for a while sometimes think they are curing cancer and that they are experts, but don’t be intimidated.  I never listened to those people.  I listened to the people that won leagues and then made a system that I felt good about.  If you stop listening to all the “guru’s” and just do the basics, then you have a chance at winning.  Evaluating talent is important, and so is choosing players who are in the right situation to succeed and amass good stats.  Luck, injuries and other things play a role in fantasy football as well so don’t expect to win all the time.  Make a system that works for you.  I hope all have fun in the upcoming season, and may all your draft picks and pickups be golden.

 

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