Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Hasn’t Johnny Manziel been Suspended by Roger Goodell and the NFL?

UPDATE: Johnny Manziel is now under investigation for an alleged domestic assault of his ex-girlfriend.

In the past couple of years we saw a number of NFL stars being suspended for an entire season. Ray Rice was the first player suspended for an entire season in 2014 and he hasn’t been able to latch on to an NFL team. Adrian Peterson was also suspended for a year due to beating his son.

Sure the NFL and Roger Goodell reacted harshly to these individuals due to a public outcry after a video surfaced of Ray Rice knocking out his then girlfriend. The NFL’s initial mishandling of the incident also resulted in an angry public reaction. Ray Rice initially received what amounted to a slap on the wrist. The NFL later changed that suspension to a year ban.

The Rice and Peterson bans were eventually overruled by Federal  Courts  but the players did sit for an entire NFL season.

If the NFL is trying to be consistent in handing out suspensions and penalties, they are doing a terrible job. Like the reception, no reception rule or rules that no one understands, players don’t really know what punishment they will receive for a myriad of infractions. The NFL seems to make things up as they go along.

Recently we’ve heard about Johnny Manziel and his alleged assaults on his ex-girlfriend. She claims he recently struck her and threatened to kill both of them. What has the NFL’s response been? Nada. Zero. Bubkis. Zilch.

For a league that orchestrated a witch hunt against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for the so called and immaterial Deflategate, the NFL has done nothing to Johnny Manziel.

Is the NFL’s Reaction/Inaction Due to a Race issue?

On the surface it might look like the NFL’s reaction and inaction are motivated by race. I’m sure there are many people that are upset that Ray Rice who by all accounts has turned his life around and learned from his transgressions can’t find a job and Manziel has had no penalty levied against him. They might think that they race has played a part in NFL not taking action against Johnny Manziel.

I think the NFL will have a tough time convincing people that race has no part in their decisions to punish players. The NFL reacted very harshly against Peterson and Rice and in my opinion that reaction was warranted on moral grounds.

The problem for me is that the NFL had to be forced into taking a tough stand against domestic and child abuse, so the NFL has anything but a moral compass. I’m not sure if there is a moral bone in the NFL’s body, so handing out a punishment on moral grounds seems futile.

That’s exactly what two different federal courts thought as well.

NFL’s Inaction Regarding Johnny Manziel is Based on Legal Grounds

I think that the NFL is taking it’s time and being extremely careful in handing out any punishment to Manziel because they have been embarrassed before by losing in Federal Court. Both the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson bans were ruled to go against NFL policy. The courts ruled that the NFL was basically making things up as they went along and weren’t following their own protocols.

The last thing that the NFL needs now is another case where a degenerate player wins in the court of law. I believe that the NFL does need to be careful but they’ve had enough time to establish a process of dealing with players that are behaving poorly and in some cases might be breaking the law.

I believe that the NFL needs to issue a statement regarding Manziel and they need to suspend the guy. It might end up being a moot point because there is a chance that Manziel never plays in the NFL again. But they still have to punish him. This is the NFL and there are teams like the Dallas Cowboys who will hire Manziel and won’t care what Manziel has done in his private life.

I personally don’t believe that Manziel is capable of being productive right now due to the state that he’s in but I’m sure that there’s a team out there that believes that they can change Johnny. The only one that can change Johnny is Johnny. The best thing for him right now is to be in rehab.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Minnesota Wild are Now Consistent - Consistently Atrocious that is

The Minnesota Wild continues to find unique ways to lose games and tonight's game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden left this Wild fan scratching his head. I'm beyond getting mad and angry. I'm disgusted.

The Minnesota Wild have become consistent at something but that something is losing. They have become consistently atrocious. There aren't enough words for me to describe how I feel about this team right now but it's safe to say that I want to SCREAMMMMMMMMMMMM!

Minnesota Wild Start Hot Then Fizzle into Oblivion

The Wild surprised me in the first period. They had two goals on six shots and looked like they had found their mojo. The Wild would end up with only 18 shots and more importantly they would give up the next four goals (one was an empty net goal).

In my last Minnesota Wild article I mentioned that I would rather the Wild get fewer shots and more goals than the opposite. Tonight it looked like that was going to happen. Then in a matter of moments the Wild gave this game away.

The second and third periods were a joke. The same thing occurred two nights ago when the Wild played the New York Islanders. They had a strong first period and then laid an egg in the final two periods.

The Wild are definitely lacking something. What that something is, I have no idea but losing the way the team is losing right now is terrible and disheartening. The team seems to lack the drive necessary to make the type of push that they've made the last two seasons.

Something has to change and it has to change now. Actually things had to change yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.

So what do I and other Wild fans think needs to change?

Time for Mike Yeo to Go

My Twitter friend @kpaananen40 (also known as vikings4life) has called for Mike Yeo to be fired for a number of weeks now. He is a guy that I regularly tweet with during Wild games and he usually pushes me to see another side of things.

We don't always agree but we respect each other and have a fun time (well not always fun) talking about our favorite NHL team.

I've continuously defended Yeo and placed the blame on the players and their inability to score goals but after this New York trip, I think that Yeo has lost his team and a change is necessary.

It does pain me to say that it's time for Yeo to be fired. Every year Mike Yeo seems to be on thin ice and somehow he survives but his time has run out. The way the Wild keep losing is unacceptable and while it's easy to blame the players, at some point the finger has to be pointed at the head coach.

The Wild just can't have these huge swings season after season. The team needs to play consistently well and not consistently poorly. If Wild management and ownership really feel that they have the talent necessary to make the playoffs and go far in the playoffs, then they need to seriously consider a change in the head coaching position.

Firing Yeo this far into the season is a tough thing to do and it might not solve the immediate problems that the team faces. But in the long-term it might be what is needed. The players have to realize that their actions and horrendous play can and will get their coach fired.

Other Changes Necessary as Well

If the Wild are serious about winning they need to send the message that losing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. They need to shake things up before the NHL trade deadline that is on February 29th.

The Wild should consider trading some big names in order to get big names who could potentially provide much needed scoring. It might be tough to give up a potential future superstar but the team needs to improve this club and improve it now.

I don't have the magic answer about who should be traded and what that trade should look like. I do know that the Minnesota Wild are spiraling out of control and something needs to be done to stop the losing. This team's chances of making the playoffs continue to dwindle away. Waiting for the next loss and the one after that and the one after that to make changes will have a negative impact on the club.

Let's hope that Wild management start making changes now!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Minnesota Wild Look Worse after the All Star Break

When the Minnesota Wild entered the All Star break last week, the break couldn’t have come too soon. The team was spiraling out of control and were in search of a victory. No matter what they did they couldn’t score a goal. It didn’t matter how many shots and good scoring chances the team had, they couldn’t score.

For fans who think that the lack of scoring is an anomaly, you can go back a few years and see that the Wild seem to have long streaks of being unable to score. In those scoring droughts, the Wild have had many games where they’ve outplayed their opponents, outshot their opponents and out chanced their opponents, only to come away with a big fat L in the loss column.

The team’s inability to score has been well documented as of late this season and in previous years. The Wild have made opposing goalies look like Vezina Trophy candidates. Instead of ripping into players in previous years, the media has heralded the great goaltending of opposing goalies.

Now It’s time to rip the team’s players. I will say what I’ve said in the past. Who cares about how many shots on goal you have? Score a darn goal and I will be happy. I’d rather the Wild have 5 shots on net, score three goals and win a game than have them outshoot their opponents 40-18 and lose the game 3-1.

More of the Same

Wild fans were eager to see what version of the Minnesota Wild would take the ice last night against the New York Islanders. In the first period, it was more of the same, except the Wild managed a goal out of twenty shots. They seemed in control but still showed the inability to score goals.

With the way the team is playing right now, one goal on twenty shots is not going to cut it. They can’t win games that way. Recent history has shown the Wild that their opponents will score more than just a goal or two and even when the Wild give up only two goals, they can’t score more than a goal. So they will and still lose.

I was really worried that the Wild were in for another rude awakening. I was afraid that they allowed a team to remain nonexistent through a period but due to not being able to take control of the game (via the scoreboard) that the Islanders would take advantage of that and decide to be more competitive in the following two periods.

That’s exactly what happened and that has been the blueprint for Wild opponents in the past month. New York came on strong in the second period and limited the Wild to less than ten shots. They scored two goals before the Wild would score an equalizer with under two minutes to play in the second period.

I was worried that the Wild would fail to take advantage of the momentum that a late goal gives most hockey teams. Less than a minute later, the Wild gave up the Islanders’ third goal of the game  and it seemed as if the Wild were a balloon that had been popped.

I didn’t have much confidence that the Wild would play a good third period. The team had just fallen apart and the Islanders have had some decent third periods this season.

Disaster Continues for the Minnesota Wild

The Islanders did what good teams do. They came out strong to start the third period. The New York Islanders scored two goals in less than five minutes into the third period and with that the Wild were done. The chances of the Wild scoring three goals in 15 minutes when they couldn’t score more than two goals in forty minutes were slim to none.

The Wild did manage a goal to make the score look respectable and to provide some false hope for Wild fans who might think that the Wild scoring machine was back in action. Note to fans: The Wild will have difficulty scoring three goals consistently and the only hope that they have is if Devan Dubnyk has shutout after shutout after shutout, so the team can win games 1-0 or 2-1.

Don’t Count on another Wild Finish to the Season for Minnesota

Minnesota Wild fans are counting or praying for another strong and improbable finish to the season for the Wild. They seem to expect that the Wild will be in the playoffs come April. While the Wild have pulled a rabbit out of the figurative NHL hat the previous two seasons, I don’t think that it will happen this year.

Good teams are consistent. Sure they have minor slumps here and there but they don’t have the crazy swings that the Wild have. It takes a lot out of a team to be able to put together a full two months of having to win almost every game and if they miraculously do that again this year, they will have almost nothing left in their tank.

The Wild entered the season with high hopes and expectations. They had a good first half of the season, their best start to a season. The Wild lulled us all into a false sense of security and led us to believe that something was different this season.

Then like a lightning bolt that struck the team’s fans, the Wild went into a terrible slump and haven’t recovered. They are likely to be a mediocre team at best for the remainder of the season.

As a Wild fan, this is the worst possible situation. This is a team that had a lot of promise. They seemed to have turned the corner and were scoring goals and winning games. Now this? I seriously feel like I’ve wasted a number of evenings/nights watching this team. My time, like anyone else’s is precious to me. Some of the games that Wild fans have had to endure is not only pathetic it’s almost unforgivable.

Maybe the Wild will surprise me once again find a way to make the playoffs and then go on a magical run but I’m not going to hold my breath. I don’t have much hope that this team will turn things around, even if the team is banking on the fact that since they’ve done it before, they will do it again.

Sports from the Past - New England Defeats St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI

Growing up, I hated the New England Patriots. I loved the Dolphins and they are in the same division, the AFC East. Hating the Patriots came with the territory. Things started to change for me around 2005. I had started to slowly change to the dark side a couple of years earlier.

I started to become a fan due to the excellence that the team fielded each season. Bill Belichick is a genius when it comes to coaching and Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

As I witnessed greatness in action, I also heard of the many detractors that the team had. I think when it comes to the Patriots, people are just jealous of greatness and a winner.

February 3rd 2002 - New England Patriots Defeat St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI

This was the beginning of an era, the Patriots era and the start of football greatness in the 2000's for the Patriots. Almost a decade and a half later the Patriots are still relevant and each year they continue to be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

It seems as if the Patriots are in the AFC Championship game every year. In fact the, the Patriots have been to nine AFC Championship games in the past sixteen seasons (beginning in 2001). That's nine out of the past sixteen seasons. They've won six of them and won the Super Bowl four times.

Back in 2001, few people gave them a chance to defeat the mighty St. Louis Rams who had arguably the best offense the game had seen until that time. The Rams were the clear favorite but the Patriots found a way to win by a field goal.

Greatness had begun and from my perspective it was hard not to be in awe of the Patriots and to fall in love with the Patriots. As mentioned above, it would be a few short years before I would be a fan of this great organization. Another reason for becoming a fan of New England was due to the team being in the AFC. I'm an AFC fan and the Patriots have been one of those teams in the past sixteen seasons that have given the AFC a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl.

Some people might think that the mighty Patriots are on the decline but Tom Brady still has a few seasons left in him and he has a nucleus of good players. Look for the Patriots to compete for Lombardy for at least the next three season!

***Sports from the Past is a This Day in Sports feature. Only one story is featured daily***

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sports from the Past – Highest Single Season Contract in MLB History is Signed

I remember when sports writers were commenting about how million and multi-million dollar per year contracts would become the norm. It was in the late 80’s and when they talked multi-million they meant 1+ to 2 million dollars. I couldn’t imagine a player making more than that. It wasn’t the norm.

Then on February 1st, 1992 the unthinkable occurred and the landscape of super rich contracts emerged. To think that the contract signed on that day would pale in comparison to today’s contracts was also unthinkable.

February 1st 1992 – Barry Bonds Sings Highest Single Season Contract for $4.7 Million

As mentioned above, I couldn’t even imagine that a player would make almost five million dollars per season. Looking back, it seems funny. A five million per season contract for a MLB superstar today would be considered a slap in the face and wouldn’t be acceptable.

Those were the times I grew up in and the players of the 80’s were considered greatly richer than what professional athletes received in prior eras. The athlete in the late 80’s and 90’s were considered to be entitled and greedy. I guess things are relative but it was just the beginning of what was to come. We are still talking about the entitled and greedy athlete (even if that's unfair) but today's MLB players make so much more than the so called greedy athletes of the 80's and 90's.

Today, we are thinking about when the first billion dollar contract will be signed and how many years that will cover. We’ve seen multi-year contracts exceed $250 million, so a billion dollar contract is sure to be around the corner.

The reason that these contracts occur today is due to sponsorship deals that MLB and other professional sports leagues have with the major networks who are willing to pay billions of dollars to receive television rights.

With amount of money that networks are willing to pay increasing, comes the fact that fewer and fewer people are able to afford watching their favorite professional sports teams in person.

There is a benefit to having the major networks pay a king’s ransom for the right to televise games. In today’s sports world fans have many options to watch their favorite teams. We also have many games to choose from.

For me, I don’t miss not attending more games in person. Well that’s not totally correct. I sure wish I could attend more MLB and NHL games in person. I love the atmosphere of watching Wild and Twins games live. Even though I wish I can watch more games in person, the availability of live sports events and the fact that technology has greatly enhanced the viewing of these games, I don’t feel as if I’m missing out that much on getting my sports fix.

I’m not sure what’s in store for sports fans in the next decade. Will the average fan be able to even afford to watch the games on their televisions, laptops and smartphones? Will every sports event go to the pay per view model? Who knows but I think it would be a mistake to not make it affordable for the average fan to watch their games.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

John Scott and the NHL All-Star Game were a Success

All-Star games, Pro Bowls, etc, are usually boring affairs. Last year's NHL All-Star game was a failure and there were questions about how this year's game would turn out. I didn't know what to expect this year. To my surprise this year's game was a major success.

Nashville put on a great event and the games themselves were fun to watch. They were exciting and meaningful. Nashville should be proud of the event(s) that they put on.

There were a number of reasons why this year's event was a success and it starts with the change in format for this year's All-Star game.

Great Format

I never thought that I would say that an All-Star game format would excite me and would be a success. The three on three bracket style ornament was exciting. The Western Division was broken down into a game between the Pacific Vs. Central divisions. The winner faced the winner of the Eastern Conference champion which was between the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions.

The Pacific Division obliterated the Central Division in a stunner and faced off against the Atlantic Division. The Pacific Division defeated the Atlantic 1-0. Who would have thought that a 1-0 game would be exciting or even occur at an All-Star game?

I sure hope that the NHL keeps this format. I'm sure the NHL will wait for the results of the game to see if the fans liked this new format. I would be surprised if the game was anything but a major success.

Players Gave Full Effort

I think that the 1-0 game was exciting because the players were putting forth a great effort. You could see that the players wanted to win. They weren't just going through the motions.

The players had a lot on the line. The players of the winning team, the Pacific Division shared a one million dollar prize. Players back checked, checked and played some defense.
There players showed tons of emotion and effort for an All-Star game. It was surprising to see.

Then there were the goaltenders. They put on a great show. The final between the Pacific Division Vs. the Atlantic division ended at 1-0. That's amazing. In previous years the score would have been 150-149. OK, that's an exaggeration but it has been evident that in past years' there was no intensity or emotion in the game.

Let's hope that future games are as successful as this one. The game had an unlikely hero this weekend. The city of Nashville, NHL fans and the players all showed their support for this player and it ended up that this player became the focus of the event. This player didn't disappoint.

So who is this player?

John Scott

John Scott was voted in to the All-Star game and was supposed to captain the Pacific Division when he was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadians. Scott was sent down to the AHL and is currently playing for the St. John's IceCaps.

There was a question if the NHL would allow Scott to play in the game and captain the Pacific Division. The NHL and Gary Bettman made the right decision to go along with the fans decision to vote in (By write in ballot) John Scott.

John Scott was the hero and focal point of the event. John Scott became a legend and his stock has grown by leaps and bounds. Every time Scott took the ice or his name was mentioned, the fans roared their approval. I haven't seen anything like that before. It was amazing to see.

Scott didn't disappoint his fans. Scott scored two goals in the first game and the fans went crazy. Scott was voted in as the game's MVP by the fans. The legend of Scott was born and he owes that to the fans who embraced him.

Scott isn't known as a goal scorer. He's an enforcer but he did show that he has some skill. One thing is certain, John Scott added to the game's excitement.

This hockey fan who was eager to see how this new format would work thinks that this was one of the best NHL games in the history of the league.

I guess the NHL can do something right.

In a Word– A Break in the Action - NFL Action that is

Welcome to the in a Word recap for the week of 01/25/2016. In a word is a weekly recap of the weekly sports news and headlines (Each major story in one word).

UPDATE: Calvin Johnson has told the Detroit Lions that he is retiring. Although I'm not a Lions fan (Vikings are my team), I loved watching Johnson play. He truly was a great player and had he played with another team he might have won a Super Bowl. He will be missed!

A shout out has to go to Novak Djokovic who dominated the Australian Open and capped off the tournament with a convincing victory over Andy Murray in Sunday’s final. Novak was unbeatable in the tournament and showed tennis fans why he’s the best player in the world and a force to be reckoned with.

This past week was a test run for NFL fans how a week without NFL football will feel like. Sure we have to go through this after every season but it seems like I’m never ready for the NFL season to end. This year will be especially difficult. This year’s playoff season has been the most exciting one that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in my football watching life.

I hope that Super Bowl 50 will live up to its billing. NFL fans are fortunate to be watching the top teams in their conferences play in the Super Bowl. NFL fans are also watching a young dynamic quarterback (Cam Newton) who has matured into a great quarterback (QB) take on a legend (Peyton Manning) who is at the end of his career.

Will youth, physical ability and pure talent overshadow a veteran QB whose physical ability has diminished? Will Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl experience be enough for his Broncos to stand at the top of the Super Bowl mountain?

The answer to the questions above will be answered next Sunday. Then we’ll have to wait until September to watch NFL football again.

I don’t want to give the impression that nothing else is happening in sports. There obviously was or there wouldn’t be a in a Word recap this week. I still have the NHL to watch, which is also a favorite of mine and yes, there are other sports that I watch. So there will be enough to recap week after week.

It’s just that the there’s nothing like the NFL. Every week is critical. Each team only has 16 games to play with, so a loss in any week has a great impact. That leads to the weekly excitement of an NFL regular season.

Unlike the NHL and NBA where over half the teams make the playoffs, in the NFL only 6 teams per conference make the postseason. That means that only 12 out of 32 teams make the playoffs. That leads to the drama of an NFL campaign.

Before I start sounding like a poster boy for the NFL, let’s get to the recap.

(NHL) Minnesota WildChChChChances

(NBA) StephCurry – Fantastic

(NBA) Blake Griffin – Thug

(NFL) Vince Young – Drunk

(NBA) Kevin Durant – Amazing

(NHL) Semyon Varlamov – Degenerate

(NFL) Peyton Manning – Investigation

(NHL) Dennis Wideman – Suspended

(NCAAF) Maty Mauk – Banned

(NFL) San Diego Chargers – Wait

(NFL) Oakland Raiders – Where?

(NFL) Keyshawn Johnson – Out

(NFL) Johnny Manziel – Again?

(WTA) Serena Williams – Austed

(ATP) Novak Djokovic – Impressive

(NFL) Mike Martz - Livid

(NFL) Calvin Johnson - Retiring

(BPL) - John Terry - MLS?

(NHL) - All-Star Game - Success

Vist us next week for another In a Word Recap.