Hall of Fame or Nah?

In recent years I’ve done a few posts that would celebrate the return of football. It won’t be happening this time around. I’m sure I’ll be watching when everything starts but my enthusiasm for the sport has waned a bit. One day I’ll go into further details about that but for now I’ll get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Class of 2017 was inducted the first weekend of this month. As usual there were questions of “How did he get in?” and many statements of “If _____ is in then ____ should be in.” There is no set criteria for players to make the various sports Hall of Fames. The Basketball Hall of Fame is the easiest of the three major American sports. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a lot tougher. Not only does the player’s stats and accolades come into play but apparently his interactions with the media can cause hiccups. The toughest of all is the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are too many variables that get in the way when discussing who gets in and who doesn’t get in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The most ridiculous of them all is the “hard nose” approach that some baseball writers choose to take when selecting the honorees.

As I mentioned above the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrined some new guys. For another year, they left out former All-Pro Wide Receiver Terrell Owens. Every statistical category related to wide receivers will tell you that T.O. is worthy of the Hall of Fame. For example Owens is currently 5th in total touchdowns scored (156) and 3rd in receiving touchdowns (153). There are a slew of numbers I could continue to list to show why he should be in but that’s pointless. T.O. isn’t in because the voters – mostly NFL media – see him as a jerk. The Committee to select each Hall of Fame class consists of 48 members. Of those 48, it’s possible that only TWO may not be a member of the media. Owens was definitely a character during his time in the league but he backed it up with his play and was a true competitor.

Terrell Owens is just one of the many former NFL players on the outside looing in. The future selections for the Pro Football Hall of Fame won’t get any easier. At one point most discussions for players looking to enter the Hall of Fame centered around career longevity, career numbers, team success, impact on the game and things of that nature. Through the advancement of technology and demands from fans we now have more access to players. We’ve gone from seeing them behind the scenes in the locker room to following them 24/7. A player’s behavior should be taken into consideration when selecting Hall of Famers and in a similar tone the Committee’s behavior should be considered when they continue to hold grudges. I guess as fans all can do is continue to argue if Owens is “Hall of Fame or nah?”

 

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Hall of Fame or Nah?

Super Week is Here

“Super Week” has arrived and man does it promise to be exciting for me. Not only do I get to enjoy the game on Sunday but my daughter will be turning one on Friday! Seems like the time flew by. There’ll be a party on Saturday. I can’t wait for the day when these two forces collide and we have a Super Sunday. Anyways we have the two teams in that game – Atlanta Falcons & New England Patriots – but there’s a bigger match to me taking place on Saturday in London between Chelsea & Arsenal. I care a LOT MORE about that one than the Super Bowl but I’ll touch on both along with some NBA.

The Super Bowl could be a shootout or it could be a blowout. Vegas had New England as a 3 point favorite after both teams won their respective Conference Championship. Matt Ryan has already received the MVP nod from a couple of publications. Matty Ice has been on a tear thanks to his slew of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. One of them – Julio Jones – needs no introduction if you follow the game. Atlanta’s young defense has stepped up and shown that they’re coming to bring some pain, just ask Mr. Discount Double Check.

On the other side, we have the boring and methodical cheat- my bad Patriots. Belichick and Brady have been here before (this will be their 7th Super Bowl together) and they’re looking to bring back their 5th ring. Brady’s Bunch is mostly a gang of no names with the exception of LeGarrete Blount and Martellus Bennett. Both of them are talented and have shown that they can produce on the field but both are guys that I enjoy for other reasons. Look for New England’s defense to grab, hold, chuck, and whatever else they can get away with. Malcolm Butler said he “dreamt of covering Julio Jones” though he never stated whether that was a sweet dream or nightmare. Guess we’ll find out on Sunday. If you’re a Patriots fan then look away because I’ve been known to jinx a team or two and it could be your team’s turn. Brady brings back ring number 5 as the New England defense and run game on offense slows the high powered Falcons. Score: New England 28-17

Saturday morning at 6:30 before I get to running around doing party stuff I’ll be up ready to watch Chelsea and Arsenal duel. This time last year Arsenal was in a similar spot. They had an early February match against Leicester City. On that day, Arsenal won on a last minute goal and closed the gap between 1st and 2nd. Unfortunately Arsenal collapsed afterwards and watched as Leicester claimed the League title. This time around Chelsea sits in first place with an 8 point cushion. Both teams have a match midweek with Chelsea going away to Liverpool and Arsenal hosting Watford. If the Gunners are to have any hopes of catching Chelsea then they’ll need to start by winning these next two matches. Some help from Liverpool would be nice too but their form leaves a lot to be desired. Chelsea has been the cream of the crop in the Premier League since getting thumped 3-0 at Arsenal in September. The Gunners have been knocked down since then but are trying to regain traction in what could be a heated title race. The same question still remains for Arsenal – Do they have the mentality to win the title? – as they head into this big match. I jumped the gun last year after they beat Leicester but it won’t happen again this season. Even with the best case scenario of Chelsea losing twice and Arsenal winning twice there’ll still be a long ways to go before the title is settled.

You know the NBA is heating up because arguments of various types have started. We’ve seen quarrels amongst teammates. We’ve had the annual who should/shouldn’t be voting for All-Star Starters debate along with who should/shouldn’t be on the team/starting. We know one thing is clear; Golden State is the hands down favorite to win the title. The Warriors have the best record, best offense, best defense, 4 All-Stars (2 of them starting), 2 MVP candidates, best crowd, a new arena in the works…need I continue? The ONLY thing that can stop Golden State from hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy will be themselves. Many games have to be played but the Warriors are buzzing and it could get ugly as they continue to fine tune things for the Playoffs.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of the league will sit quietly and let GSW have their way. Russell Westbrook and James Harden continue to put on a show for their teams. Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers is running away with the Rookie of the Year. Will Carmelo be traded? The rumors continue to swirl but nothing solid has come up. Melo could swing things for a potential Playoff team. I saw John Wall live and in-person for the 2nd time this season. He’s very good and so are the Washington Wizards. Scott Brooks has done an excellent job with that team.

Dion “Waiters County” is heating up in Miami as they continue to win games for some strange reason. The Heat are on an 8-game winning streak and inch further away from a top draft pick. We’ll see how long this string of winning continues.

It’s an exciting week ahead to say the least. My weekend will be filled with two of my joys, family and sports. I look forward to both as the kids will be all over the place and I’ll be busy helping out. Also I’m sure the Falcons fans that know me will be happy because I didn’t pick them. It’s Super Week folks…enjoy!

Super Week is Here

Dumb Football Picks 2016

Football season is here and my wife can’t stand it! I admit I loathe the sport at times myself but like a fool I run back to it every late August/early September (I have no clue how some of you sit through preseason NFL games). With the seasons (NFL and NCAA) starting that means “picks” have to be made. Only thing I feel comfortable about in the NCAA is Christian McCaffrey  as the clear favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. After that just enjoy the chaos.

In the NFL, it’s a little easier to make blind picks for Division winners. I feel so gracious that I’ll also throw in a Super Bowl winner. So with no further ado:

AFC EAST – Miami Dolphins
AFC NORTH – Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC SOUTH – Indianapolis Colts
AFC WEST – Kansas City Chiefs
NFC EAST – Dallas Cowboys (In Dak We Trust)
NFC NORTH – Green Bay Packers
NFC SOUTH – Atlanta Falcons
NFC WEST – Arizona Cardinals
SUPER BOWL – Pittsburgh Steelers will beat the Green Bay Packers
My choice for AFC EAST was the most jaw dropping of all the Divisions. The Oakland Raiders have been discussed a lot in the AFC WEST but I’m not ready to “crown them” yet (RIP Dennis Green). In Dak We Trust is all I have to say about the Dallas Cowboys. My Super Bowl picks depend on both teams having better secondary play this season. We all know what both teams can do offensively when healthy. If I picked your team don’t get mad when it all goes downhill. Enjoy the football people…It’s Byke!
Dumb Football Picks 2016

Interview with Aaron Lockett

As the new football season approaches I decided to come with some new interviews.  This time around I’m interviewing guys that played football.  My first interview was with former Kansas State All-American Punt Returner/Wide Receiver Aaron Lockett.  Lockett was a standout athlete – in track, football, and basketball – at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  From there he showcased his talents at Kansas State where he was a member of the football and track teams.  Lockett set many records during his time at K-State and in the 2000 Big 12 Championship Game he had the first return TD in the game’s history.  Aaron played five years professionally in the NFL and Canadian Football League. His brother Kevin was also a standout player at Kansas State and played in the NFL. Lockett’s nephew Tyler Lockett continued the family’s tradition of great Wide Receiver/Returner play while at Kansas State.  Lockett is currently a blossoming talent – First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl as a rookie – in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. Check out the audio interview and a few of Aaron’s highlights from his time at Kansas State.

 

Interview with Aaron Lockett

2016…Be Great…Be Positive

We’re at day 7 of 2016 and things are “looking how they looking” as my wife would say.  We have the Presidential race to look forward to this year as well as the Summer Olympics in Brazil.  This happens to be a leap year so that means Wale will get to work an extra day this year.  I don’t know about y’all but I love off days.  Shout out to Wale tho.  All of that is fine and dandy but most importantly I’ll be celebrating something a lot more important within a few weeks.  I’ll blog about it when it happens.

Ok now on to a few sports thoughts…shout out to Ken Griffey Jr. for being 99.3% great.  He’s beloved by many that watched the game of baseball in the 90s.  “The Kid” best known for his sweet swing, home run saving catches, and wearing his hat backwards.  Thanks for the memories.  Congrats to Mike Piazza too.

In the NBA my Pelicans are still trash.  As of today they’re sitting next to last in the Western Conference at 11-23 but are only FOUR games away from the 8th seed.  This has caused a lot of confusion for fans as to whether the team should fight for that playoff spot or blow it up and acquire some assets.  I’m sure we’ll know by the end of this month.  Over in California, the Golden State Warriors (33-2) are still in striking distance of the best overall record for the regular season in NBA history.  Draymond Green has been a monster for GSW, he leads the NBA so far in triple-doubles with 7.  The 2 losses for the Warriors have been on the road and in both games the team was missing key players. With all of that GSW only has a 3 game lead on the San Antonio Spurs.  There’s space between San Antonio and Oklahoma City but the Thunder is picking up momentum and is looking solid.

In the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers are still at the top.  Kyrie Irving returned from injury in December and he hasn’t disappointed as he gets in game shape.  Right on their heels are Da Bulls.  Chicago has had a few lumps this season but look to be getting things together.  Thanks in-large to the play of Jimmy Gets Buckets.  After a few ugly losses and some comments about head coach Fred Hoiberg, Butler has upped his game.  He and Paul George went at it on New Year’s Eve in an excellent game.  Butler ended that OT thriller with the game-winning points and a blocked shot/contest against Paul George.  After that the Bulls bounced the Knicks easily by 27.  Then on Sunday night Mr. Butler went for 42 against Toronto.  After a slow first half – with only 2 points – Jimmy dropped 40 points on 14-19 shooting to help his team pull off a close victory.  The 40 points in one half broke Michael Jordan’s old Chicago Bulls record.  The Eastern Conference race promises to be exciting as only 6 games separate the top 8 teams and only 6 games separate teams 8 thru 13.

In football news, we’re at the best time of the year.  The NFL Playoffs start on Saturday and in college football we get the National Championship game on Monday night.  I don’t like making picks but I’ll do so.

NFL Picks:

Kansas City over Houston

Cincinnati over Pittsburgh

Seattle over Minnesota

Washington over Green Bay

FBS Championship:

Alabama over Clemson

If any of the teams teams I chose to win are dear to your heart then be very afraid.

I posted the words “Be Great…Be Positive” in the title of this blog for a reason.  2015 while it had its ups also had a bunch of downs.  I don’t recall a year where I saw so many people so set on being divided and tearing others down.  I can point out a lot of examples of negativity but instead I’m challenging everyone that reads this blog to not only heed my words but to also encourage others to “Be Great and Be Positive.”

2016…Be Great…Be Positive

OBJ

“OBJ” are the initials that some fans use for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. There are many things that jump out at many NFL fans when it comes to Odell. You have his play on the field, which has gained him many accolades and arguments as the best WR in the league.   His play last season – in his rookie year – landed him on the cover of EA Sports Madden 2016. His hairstyle and looks garnered a lot of attention. But there’s also something else that caught the attention of many fans. OBJ has an affinity for dancing in way that has caused a lot of interesting dialogue on social media sites. All of these things could be getting ready to send us to a place in pro sports that we haven’t been.

Let’s start on the field of play. In 26 career starts Beckham Jr. already has 182 receptions, 2,701 yards, and 25 TDs. The New York Giants still have 2 games left in the 2015 regular season but OBJ will have to sit out the next one. I’ll touch on the reason for the suspension later. In his rookie season, Odell only played in 12 games due to a hamstring injury but he was still able to rack up unworldly numbers in route to winning the 2014 Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year. Along the way Beckham Jr. made some catches that left many of us speechless. There was one thing that stuck out to me during the 2014 season and ironically it finally exploded this time of the year versus the St. Louis Rams. A mini scrum broke out near the Giants sideline after a tough play occurred between Beckham Jr. and a Rams defender. I was a bit surprised that it took that late in the season for it to happen again. Beckham’s fast rise as a rookie wide out along with his tough play and end zone celebrations didn’t sit well with opposing players. The mini scrum was swept under the rug and was basically seen as a non-factor due to OBJ’s youth. But it did plant a seed for opposing players going into the 2015 season.

After the season was over, OBJ’s star grew even more. Shampoo commercials, shoe deals, video game covers and all the attention that comes with it. Odell also became more noticeable after some dance videos were posted on YouTube and other social media sites. The videos caused an immediate storm due to the fact that Beckham Jr. was “dancing” with another male in one of the videos. This of course led to the talk of OBJ being gay and all other kinds of foolishness that I find sad. All of the assumptions being made were based on the dance videos that had been posted. Well not only dance videos because some folks took it upon themselves to create video snippets and memes that caught OBJ in precarious positions. I found it both strange and interesting that supposedly straight men were so intrigued and caught up in trying to “out” Odell. Another interesting factor is that a lot of the things being said for jokes have been laced with homophobia and distasteful language. I’ve seen him (Beckham Jr.) referred to as “her”, “girl”, “Odella”, “faggot” and a bunch of other things that make me wonder, “where we are as a society?”

Now I’m back to what led to Odell Beckham Jr being suspended for one game. It was mainly the fiery attitude that the star receiver plays with that led to the trouble. The Giants took on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. New York entered the game hoping to end the Panthers’ perfect season and OBJ hoped to have a stellar day against Josh Norman in the process. The game was very exciting and fans were treated to some great action. Unfortunately fans also got to see Odell at his worse. He dropped a surefire TD early in the game after toasting Josh Norman. Norman and Panthers’ defense used that play – and some alleged pregame shenanigans – as a way to get under the WR’s skin and it worked. Beckham would go on to cheap shot Norman and spend a lot of time rattled and not focused on the game. Lucky to still be on the field; OBJ was able to get a bit of revenge in the 4th quarter by catching a TD over Norman to tie the game at 35.   It was short-lived as MVP hopeful Cam Newton led the Panthers on a drive to setup a game winning field goal by Graham Gano.

So where does all of this leave us? We won’t be watching Odell Beckham Jr on Sunday in a game with Playoff implications. His Giants teammates will be playing against the Minnesota Vikings and hoping to keep their slim chances of winning the NFC East alive. More importantly I hope Beckham Jr pays attention to the fact that he needs to keep his emotions in check while on the field. Odell is a talented and valuable player but he’s doing himself a disservice if he can’t bottle that emotion properly and use it within the rules of the game. Finally I ask, “are we ready for an openly gay “star” athlete?” We’ve had athletes and a few referees announce that they are gay but none of them fit in the category of a “star” based on the 3 major professional sports (NFL, MLB, NBA) in America. And at the current moment the biggest sports league in America is the NFL. I often see fans ask “why is it important that an athlete announce his/her sexual orientation?”  Until the attitudes of fans and players change then it’s easy to see why the decision to announce is important.

OBJ

NFL Preview Green Bay Packers VS Denver Broncos

In the first NFL preview I was way off. The Falcons demolished the Texans 48-21. This time I hope to do a lot better. I will once again team up with MooreSportsHead to cover the game between the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos. Both teams enter the game 6-0 and 1st in their respective divisions. I’ll be giving the preview from Denver’s side and you can check out the coverage of Green Bay here.

Denver is undefeated but their route – they only have one victory by more than 7 points – hasn’t been pretty.  To say they’ve struggled on offense is an understatement. In the season opener versus the Baltimore Ravens, Denver’s offense only managed 219 total yards in the 19-13 win. Peyton Manning was nothing like himself while passing for only 175 yards and being sacked 4 times. The run game was nonexistent and everybody on the offensive side looked rusty in new head coach Gary Kubiak’s system. Luckily for the Broncos, the Ravens weren’t much better. They were held to 173 total yards and only converted 2 third down opportunities. Denver’s only touchdown was scored via an Aqib Talib pick 6. The other 13 points were courtesy of kicker Brandon McManus.

In game 2, Denver traveled to Kansas City to play the Chiefs. They fell behind early after a Jamaal Charles TD and pick 6 by Marcus Peters. Denver’s defense was able to find their footing and started causing problems for KC’s offense. They were able to force 5 turnovers, get 5 sacks, 8 QB hits, and scored the most important TD of the night. Peyton Manning didn’t have a great night completion wise but he was able to connect when needed. Manning threw 3 TDs – 2 of them to Emmanuel Sanders – after the early pick 6. Late in the 4th quarter Manning was able to connect with Demaryius Thomas on crucial pass plays to set up a game tying TD to Sanders. Both WRs finished with 8 catches (Thomas with 116 yards and Sanders with 87 yards). Bradley Roby scored the game winning TD on the following possession. Roby scooped up a Jamaal Charles fumble and returned it 21 yards for the 31-24 win.

Next the Broncos traveled to Detroit to play the Lions. Manning had his best passing game of the early season. He went 31/42 for 324 yards and 2 TDs. He was only sacked once and threw 1 interception. The run game was a none factor once again. Denver entered the 4th quarter only up 14-12. Thanks to a field goal by McManus and a Manning TD pass to Owen Daniels they were able to pull away for a 24-12 victory. Demaryius Thomas had another solid game with 9 catches, 92 yards and 1 TD. The defense forced 3 more turnovers and sacked Matt Stafford 4 times.

In Game 4 the Vikings visited Denver and put up a good challenge. In the end, Denver was able to win thanks to a 39-yard FG by McManus. Peyton had a bad day; he threw 1 TD and 2 interceptions for only 213 yards. Denver’s defense was able to save the day racking up 7 sacks and 1 turnover. The run game finally got on track with Ronnie Hillman gaining 103 yards and 1 TD. Neither team was efficient on 3rd downs with Minnesota going 6-16 and Denver going 2-9. Despite a 48-yard TD, the Broncos were able to hold Adrian Peterson to 81 yards on 16 carries.

Up next for the Broncos was a trip to Oakland. And once again the offense missed the plane. Really both offenses had a subpar afternoon. Neither team cracked 300 total yards of offense and both had multiple turnovers (2 for Denver, 3 for Oakland). Denver’s lone TD was via a 74-yard pick 6 by Chris Harris Jr. This gave Denver a 16-7 lead in the 4th quarter. Sebastian Janikowski was able to make it 16-10 with 50 -yard field goal but the Raiders failed to recover the onside kick that followed. McManus accounted for Denver’s offensive points due to the offense having a 2-13 day on 3rd downs. They were only able to gain 45 yards on the ground. Meanwhile the defense racked up another 4 QB sacks, the TD and turnovers mentioned earlier while holding the Raiders to 65 rushing yards.

Denver’s game to reach 6-0 followed the same script as the 5 before it. TD by the defense, yep. Field goals by McManus (game winner in OT), yep. Turnovers by Peyton Manning (3 to be exact), yep. This game was strange because Denver was able to move the ball to the tune of 442 total yards of offense. The problem was failure to have success on 3rd downs, the 3 INTs – one was returned for a TD – and the inability to score in the Red Zone (0-3). Manning did respond after the pick by Cleveland with a 75-yard TD strike to Emmanuel Sanders. The game could’ve ended in regulation but one of the strangest plays ever happened. Josh McCown had the Browns in Denver’s territory but threw an INT trying to get the ball somewhere. Denver’s defense had 4 sacks once again and held Cleveland to only 298 total yards of offense. McManus missed his first field goal of the season but made up for it by hitting the winner in overtime. A few positives for Denver’s offense were Hillman’s ability to gain 111 yards, no sacks allowed, and the performance from WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.

Denver has had a lot of luck but they’ve also been great on defense. They currently lead the NFL the in total defense and are giving up only 17 pts/game. The defense has scored 4 TDs off 17 turnovers while also racking up 26 sacks and 2 blocked kicks. Through 6 games, opposing offenses have on converted 31.6% on 3rd downs. A crucial stat to remember on Sunday night is that Green Bay and Denver are tied in the giveaway/takeaway category with +6. Denver has 7 more takeaways but the Packers have 7 less giveaways. All-Pro cornerback Aqib Talib has 3 INT (2 TD) & block kick.  DeMarcus Ware’s 4.5 sacks lead the team and 2nd year man Shaquil Barrett has been a pleasant surprise for the team with 3.5 sacks. Malik Jackson also has 3.5 sacks and “the sack master” Von Miller has 3 sacks.

On offense, Peyton leads the way but his numbers aren’t too uplifting. Manning has a 61.6% completion percentage with 1,524 yards, and 7 TDs. He also has 10 INTs and has been sacked 12 times. Offensive line problems and Kubiak’s new offense is a culprit for some of the problems. Better blocking has helped some issues in run the game. Hillman leads the team with 323 yards but the Broncos haven’t gotten much out of CJ Anderson. Former Wisconsin standout Montee Ball was cut after the preseason. Demaryius Thomas leads the team in receiving with 48/527/1 TD but Emmanuel Sanders isn’t far behind with 38/527/3 TD. A serious case can be made that Brandon McManus is the offensive MVP so far. He leads the team in scoring which isn’t unusual but his numbers are off the charts – 16-17 FG (4-5 from 50+) 13-13 on XPs – in a season where kickers are having all types of problems. As a team, Denver is 30th total offense and only avg 23.2 pts/game. They only have 110 first downs only St. Louis has fewer at 88. They’ve committed 47 penalties and their lack of efficiency on 3rd down at 30.2% hasn’t helped at all.

The game on Sunday will be a case of “something must give”. Green Bay’s offense features Aaron Rodgers who has been his usual self for the most part. The Packers offense is top 5 in points/game (averaging 27.2) and right outside the top 10 in yards/game (364.2). Defensively GB is no slouch as they currently sit in the #1 spot ahead of Denver for points allowed (16.8 pts/game). They also rank in the top 15 for yards/game. If Denver wants to win on Sunday and remain undefeated, they will have to get pressure on Rodgers and contain the GB running backs. The Pack is averaging 127.3 rush yards/game and that’s with Eddie Lacy still trying to find his way. The Broncos must protect the ball on offense and establish the run game. The less time they give Green Bay’s offense the better.  Denver’s defense has been steady this season but I think this is the night that the offense gets going. I have the Broncos winning this one 28-21.

Stats courtesy of:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/_/name/den/denver-broncos

http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics

NFL Preview Green Bay Packers VS Denver Broncos