The Criminals in College Sports Debate Verdict

March 29, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

 

I must give my colleagues, Sports Geek and Loyal Homer, credit. After two years of working together, debating all the biggest issues in sports, they managed to bring out yet another first in TSD history!

For the first time ever, I actually disagree with BOTH arguments (well, at least partly).

The question was to debate whether or not coaches and universities should look into juvenile records before deciding which recruits to extend scholarship offers to. Both Sports Geek and Loyal Homer, although arguing for very different causes, essentially raised the same point – that character matters in sports.

According to Sports Geek, character matters in the sense that it helps people to gain experience. To Sports Geek, growth and second chances for everyone, not just athletes, to make us all better people. Past mistakes do not always serve as an indicator for future actions, though, and so Sports Geek feels that they should not be held against the children (that, after all, is what they are) who commit them.

On the other hand, Loyal Homer argues that character matters, which is precisely why college sports need to clean up their act. Too much is forgiven in sports, and it is tarnishing the reputation of what is supposed to be honest and fair play among student athletes. Instead, we hear more and more about Player ‘X’ from university ‘Y’ and their escapades that resulted in someone getting arrested, or worse, hurt.

But as I said, I disagree with both of them – Character does NOT matter in sports.

We like to SAY that character matters in sports, and realistically, it SHOULD matter in sports, but it is time for us all to stop perpetuating the lie.

We don’t care about character in our athletes at all. We want our athletes to win, and that’s it. We as a fan base may curse athletes who commit some act of moral or criminal wrongdoing. But then we conveniently turn that ire off when the player brings greater success to our team.

It is true that the Florida Gators had a plethora of criminal charges stocking their active roster for the past five football seasons. But they also have two National Championships during that stretch. What do you think Gator fans care about? Would any of them trade in even one of those two National Championships to clear the names of their beloved team’s roster? Hardly.

When Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes caught TD passes in the New York Jets playoff victory over the New England Patriots, were any of the Jets fans booing them?

How long did it take before Steelers fans welcomed Ben Roethlisberger back into the fold with open arms? My guess is about 20 minutes and 20 seconds into his first game back, when he completed a scoring pass to Mike Wallace.

It is time to stop pretending that we demand our athletes to live to a greater moral standard, because when push comes to shove we do not really care at all.

But now that it is time to step off of my soap box, I still need to crown a winner for this debate.

Just because I fundamentally disagree with the key message in both arguments, that does not mean I disagree with their entire arguments. And while I disagree with the principle of Sports Geek’s position, it is for that exact same reason that I am awarding him the verdict.

Because an athlete’s character does not REALLY matter to us in sports, past flaws should not be counted against recruits. As Sports Geek points out, kids make mistakes all the time. Some may be more serious than others, but that does not mean that they should be excluded from the opportunity to better themselves.

In fact, if we as fans REALLY want to see those games that we love cleaned up, then we absolutely MUST forgive the past transgressions of the kids that make childish mistakes. Those who are supposed to be “responsible” adults should assume that responsibility and actually COACH these kids. That’s right – It is the program administrators that must be held to the higher standard.

Coaches like Bruce Pearl, Jim Tressel, Lane Kiffin, and countless others are the ones setting the example for these kids that it is okay to bend and break the rules as long as you win games, and THAT is where accountability should be held.

In many cases, these coaches will have a greater impact on the lives of the student athletes than anyone else ever could. They need to act as mentors, role models, and leaders for the kids they are guiding. If they can live up to a higher standard, I can GUARANTEE you that the athletes will follow suit.

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The 2010 Most Overrated Team in the NFL Debate… Pride Goeth Before the Fall

August 27, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

I don’t think I have ever seen a team believe its own hype more than the New York Jets. It is one thing to walk into camp with Super Bowl aspirations, but the “J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS” are strutting around as if the Lombardi Trophy is already claimed.

Rex Ryan, LaDanian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, and many others, have already gone on record with declarations that they are a Super Bowl bound franchise. While I love the positivity, there is just one problem – it is only week three of the pre-season.

The Jets are walking around with just a little too much bravado, and although many media outlets are hopping on the New York bandwagon, I am going on record right now with my “I told you so” prediction for 2010 – Forget the Super Bowl, the Jets won’t make the playoffs!

Let’s flash back to Sunday, December 20th of 2009. The Jets were walking off of the field after a 10-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and NOBODY was talking Super Bowl at that time. Instead, folks were doubtful that the Jets would even reach the playoffs.

When you take an HONEST look at the Jets between then and now, what has changed? The short answer is “nothing good!”

Too Much Credit for Not Enough Substance

Sure, the Jets made the AFC championship game last season, but can we REALLY call the 2009 Jets a legitimate Super Bowl contender? I can’t!

The Jets eeked into the playoffs thanks to a schedule where the final two matchups pitted them against teams that already clinched post-season berths, and thus rested the stars. The Jets had the luck to draw a wild card matchup against a one-dimensional Cincinnati Bengals team that so heavily relied on the running game that the running back was simply EXHAUSTED when it came time for playoff football. And if not for some late mistakes by the San Diego Chargers, they would never have made it out of the divisional playoff round.

Now I know what you are thinking – the Jets STILL won their way into the AFC championship game, which is a fact that I cannot deny. I am just pointing out that they were the beneficiaries of very favorable conditions leading up to that AFC championship. As soon as the good luck ran out for New York, and they ran into a playoff seasoned Indianapolis Colts team, they were completely embarrassed in a 30-17 rout.

While the Jets enter the 2010 season after being just one game away from the Super Bowl last season, the result HARDLY matched the output.

Quarterback Concerns

Has Mark Sanchez done ANYTHING to convince anyone he can be a great quarterback in the NFL?

Not once last season did he pass for more than 300 yards in a single game. He DID have 14 games where he failed to eclipse the 200 yard mark, though. On the season, his 2,444 total yards ranked as the 23rd worst total in the league, and was almost DOUBLED by the NFL’s best, Matt Schaub.

In 18 games (including the playoffs), he had only one game of 20 completions or more, and his season total of only 196 completions placed him 25th in the league.

He threw for only 12 touchdowns last season (24th in the NFL), but had 20 interceptions (the second HIGHEST total, behind only Jay Cutler of the Bears).

I know that the Jets have brought in Santonio Holmes to give Sanchez another top-level target to throw the ball to, but (once more) has Mark Sanchez done ANYTHING to convince anyone he can be a great quarterback in the NFL?

In a word – NO!

Who Needs a QB Anyway?

So the Jets have a lousy quarterback. It didn’t seem to hurt at all last year, did it? Thomas Jones racked up more than 1,400 rushing yards, leading the Jets to the top rushing offense in the league last season.

That is a GREAT way to compensate for having a bum behind center. And the Jets plan to build off that tremendous rushing performance from last season, right?

WRONG!

In the organization’s infinite wisdom, Thomas Jones was released in favor of unproven Shonn Greene. Now I’m no football genius, but the adage “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” sure would seem to apply in this case.

Releasing Jones was the “head scratching” move of the off-season. The top rushing offense in the league (which arguably was the reason the team had marginal success during the regular season) actually parted ways WILLINGLY with the guy who made them so successful, all so they could rely on a kid with a whopping 108 TOTAL rushing attempts on his resume.

And alongside this unproven kid the organization brings in the soon-to-be washed up LaDanian Tomlinson, who hopes for one more shot at a winner before riding off into the Canton sunset.

What do you get when you mix a highly touted, yet unproven prospect with a once-great NFL record holder who thinks he still has a little gas left in the tank? You get a position battle!

That’s right, in a matter of months the Jets have fallen from having the league’s best rushing offense to not even knowing who the starter is (neither of whom have a PRAYER of producing the way that Thomas Jones did).

But Defense Wins Championships

The New York Jets had the top defense in the NFL in 2009. Led by All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets shut down opposing offenses, giving up only 252.3 yards and 14.8 points per game, no team was stingier when the offense was on the sidelines.

Here’s the problem, though. That superstar leader of the Jets defense, Darrelle Revis, has yet to show up for practice. Because he feels he is bigger than the team he plays for, Revis is foolishly demanding a new contract, and has held out from participating in team activities as his protest.

Without Revis, the Jets defense may not be hapless, but it is certainly not the loaded unit it was last season. And even if Revis and the Jets can come to some sort of an agreement (which today STILL seems unlikely), it is so far into the pre-season that his game-readiness is doubtful.

Wide Egos for Wide Receivers

I will grant only a couple sentences to the least valuable players on the entire Jets roster – Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes.

Holmes, who won’t even be on the field for the first four weeks of the season due to suspension, came to the Big Apple after being dealt away from the Pittsburgh Steelers because of yet another legal issue. It doesn’t at all matter what Holmes will do on the field, because he cannot seem to control his personal life.

As for his cross-field counterpart, the only thing that Braylon Edwards seems able to catch is bad press. He can run his mouth, but that pesky little thing called catching the ball seems to trip him up every time.

A Formula for Failure

Last season the Jets capitalized on the element of surprise and relied on a solid running game and a stingy defense to reach the AFC championship game.

Now the teams has drawn as much attention to itself as possible by painting a giant target on its back. The front office has weakened the running game, brought in unreliable receivers to support a quarterback whose performance would have gotten him fired on almost any other team in the league, and the top player is holding out for more money.

Are the Jets REALLY a playoff team?

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The 2005 NFL Draft Resign Debate – Atlanta’s Roddy “White” Knight

July 17, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that Aaron Rodgers is the best first round pick from the 2005 NFL Draft and Loyal Homer’s argument that is it DeMarcus Ware.

Do you remember the 2004 NFL Draft? I do…

To help refresh your memory, here are a couple names from that outstanding draft year:

  • Eli Manning (1)
  • Larry Fitzgerald (3)
  • Philip Rivers (4)
  • Sean Taylor (5)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (11)
  •  

This draft was SO loaded with talent that seven of the first ten picks have been named Pro Bowlers, with seven more coming in the remaining first round picks.

So, how is it that just ONE year later, we see one of the most lackluster first rounds in recent NFL draft memory?

In comparison to 2004, the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft has only produced seven total Pro Bowl players, and is highlighted by names like Alex Smith, Adam Jones, and who could forget Alex Barron?! Even the Pro Bowlers have been suspect, such as Braylon Edwards and Shawne Merriman.

But, that doesn’t mean that the first round of the draft was completely devoid of talent. There were still a few diamonds in the rough.

And while Sports Geek will argue for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Loyal Homer will argue for Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware, I look no further than Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White as THE diamond pick from 2005. At 6’0’’ the 27 year-old out of Alabama-Birmingham has emerged as one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the NFL.

Granted, his career got off to a slow start. In his first two seasons combined with the Atlanta Falcons White only grabbed 59 receptions for 952 yards and three touchdowns. Those are hardly stellar stats.

Itis important to keep something in mind, though, when you look at those numbers. White’s quarterback during those two seasons, one Mr. Ronald Mexico, was not known to be a “passing” quarterback. Instead, Michael Vick’s style was to be a rusher first and a passer second (in 2006, for example, Vick was a 1000 yard rusher, but threw the ball only 388 times). It should also be noted that Vick’s favorite target when he DID throw was his tight end, Alge Crumpler.

It wasn’t until Vick left the Falcons (whatever happened to him anyway?!) that White finally got his opportunity to showcase his tremendous talent.

To replace Vick, the Falcons brought in Joey Harrington at quarterback. Considering the upgrade in “passing” that Harrington brought to the Falcons, it was evident that the Falcon’s offensive game plan was going to be shifting – enter Roddy White.

In 2007, White turned in a season with totals that surpassed the combined results from his first two years with Vick. He caught 83 passes for 1202 yards and six touchdowns. His 1,202 yards was actually eighth in the NFL that season.

The 2008 season brought White a new head coach, Mike Smith, and a new quarterback, rookie sensation Matt Ryan out of Boston College. For White the 2008 NFL season was just another day at the office. Ryan and White were able to connect 88 different times for a total of 1,382 yards (the fourth highest total in the NFL) and seven touchdowns. White’s 2008 performance was so good that it even earned him a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl roster, and he helped the Falcons turn in an 11-5 record and a Wild Card berth in the NFC playoffs.

With a promising young quarterback in Matt Ryan and an explosive running game that features fellow 2008 Pro Bowler Michael Turner, it is very safe to assume that Roddy White’s performances are only going to get better.

If the Atlanta Falcons wish to continue their outstanding momentum which began in the 2008 season, they MUST consider Roddy White as an integral piece of their puzzle, and they MUST sign him to a new contract worthy of any other first round Pro Bowler in the NFL.

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