Its 10 am
A beautiful day here in SE Michigan. The sun is out,robins are chirping,Derek is sleeping....
As some of you may know,I'm a big college football fan,especially of San Jose State. Been to many games and whenever they are on TV,I watch and support them. But with the recent upheaval of the 11 conferences,with teams coming,going (sometimes even before they even play a game!) and upgrading to Div. I status,the college landscape is changing very quickly. And when you play in a lower end conference like San Jose State does,you start getting a bit edgy when you start seeing the better teams from your conference jump ship only to be replaced by brand new to Div I schools. Then your league's commissioner leaves for the Sun Belt after so many years of fighting for the WAC (where SJSU plays).
Now you hear rumors that one of the teams who was going to help stabilize your league is leaving after just one year.....to play in the Sun Belt! Then it really hits the fan,so many other teams leave that you're now left with just 4 teams and people are questioning if your league can even survive.
But as luck would have it,despite having one of the worst records 2 years ago,San Jose State had a strong bounce back season last year going 5-7 and playing one of the best games on ESPN last year in beating Hawaii. Add in Utah State's resurgence as well (beating BYU,taking Auburn and Oklahoma to the wire,going to a bowl game) and the Mountain West conference,where most of SJSU's biggest rivals jumped ship to,decides to extend invites to both the Aggies and Spartans. Both schools accept,leaving New Mexico State and Idaho as the last two WAC teams standing. I don't know what will happen to those two programs,maybe going independent,dropping down a level,going somewhere else. All I know is San Jose State has a home....for now. And so happy they do...
I'm still waiting to learn who the hell Jim Rice is.
Its now a month into the baseball season....and the Yankees are a hot mess. 14-13 and in 4th place in the AL East. Am I shocked? Upset? Worried? No,not really...because I called for them to have to have fight to finish 3rd behind Tampa and Toronto. Simply said,this team is too old and to make it worse,Joe Giraldi has turned into Joe Torre in handing the pitching staff. Its a month and each game has about 5-6 pitching changes. The bullpen is getting destroyed and will be pretty used up by the All-Star break at the rate they are being used. Mix in the fact that Freddy Garcia failed in the 5th starter's spot plus no hitting other then from Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson and its a little bit of a miracle the Yanks are even 14-13. The injuries to Joba Chamberlin,Michael Pineda and now Mariano Rivera seems to perhap seal the Yankees's doom this season and will usher in a rebuilding era. The team needs some fresh blood mixed in while they still have some good veteran players to show them the ropes of playing on the biggest stage in pro baseball.
At the rate the team is going,3rd place looks pretty damn good!
The man above in the picture is Junior Seau,maybe one of the top 10 linebackers ever to play in the NFL. Junior was a All-Pro for many years while playing for the San Diego Chargers,he played hard every game,every series,every play. While I'm a Steelers fan,I still loved watching Junior Seau play,even if it meant he was knocking some Steeler running back or QB on their asses. He was that kind of a player.
So it deeply saddened me to learn that Junior took his own life...with a gun. Now this isn't going to be a rant on guns,thats beside the point,the point is this....what can be done to safeguard these players?
I was talking with my brother Phil this past weekend about this. So many former NFL players are so badly beat up and in such bad shape,they are starting to push professional wrestlers as far as killing themselves go,either by accident or in Junior's case,intentionally. Is it the perfect storm of too much hitting over the course of a career (high school,college,football camps,spring game,extended schedules) plus the size/speed increase plus the equipment not keeping up that is resulting these players flaming out?
It used to be pretty simple.
High school - a 10 game schedule plus maybe 3-4 playoff games. And a lot of games didn't require players to play the full 48 minutes. Now high school teams are criss-crossing the country playing top notch caliber teams and can play up to 15 games in a season! And remember,we're talking children here doing this,not grown men.
College games - used to be 11 games plus a bowl game played with a few weeks. The season ended on Jan 1st. Today they are playing 12,plus a conference championship game plus a bowl game that being pushed into the 2nd week of January but the practices continue. And the spring game,once never attended is now a event for ESPN and other college networks. This ramps up the pressure even more to produce. Some of the hitting I saw this year in spring ball rivaled the actual season.
The pro game used to be 14 games plus 4 exhibition games. Now its 16 with the owners wanting 18 games to push profits higher. Plus playoffs and the Super Bowl.
So think about it,an average 14 year old freshman.
4 x 10 regular season games plus 4 playoff games....thats maybe 16-18 weeks of legal practice for 4 years.
Plus football camps which I think a high school kid can attend up to 3 a year and most are a week in length.
College is another 14 games times 4 years with maybe 18-20 weeks of legal practice plus spring practice which is another 3 weeks of hitting. Kids are also much bigger and faster then high school.
Pro football....16 games,4 exhibition games,3-4 play-off games and all the practice time involved. And all the hitting,every day......it all adds up. The toll being paid by these guys is getting heavier every year.
Now as I stated above,I love college ball....I just want it safer,maybe LESS games and mandatory lighter practices. And the NFL needs to invest in research in better equipment or instead of simple fines or a 15 yard penalty for head to head contact,make it a automatic ejection and a 4 game suspension PLUS fines. I don't know about anyone else but I was always taught to tackle the body or legs....never had a coach tell me to tackle with me head or tackle another player's head. Just too dangerous.
And when you factor in all that stress of playing ball and another team is offering bounties to knock out other players like the Saints have shown to do,its just sickening. Not to be dramatic but Sean Payton and every player found to have been condoning this should have been banned for life. To intentionally go out of your way and try and take someone's career away from them PLUS potentially injure them for life is beyond disgusting.
Jonathan Vilma,the dirty player who has been suspended for a year by the NFL for his cheap shot antics,should take a few minutes to revisit what a dirty player's damage can cause. Take a look at Jack Tatum and his shot on Daryl Stingley which resulted in Stingley being paralyzed for life and leading to early death. Vilma would think that was worth 10,000 bucks? No,the NFL dropped the ball here....they should have banned them all. The players already have enough on their plates to have to worry if they are going to be a target from a fellow (union) brother on the other side of the field.
We don't need nor as fans should we accept such tactics. And if I'm a Saints player,I would be sure to watch my ass because every team might just want a little payback and over the long course of a season,there will be plenty of chances for that to happen.
Got the next subject for my "8 Questions with........" series and I will be working on that this week,so stay tuned for that. I'm actually pretty excited to be able to bring this one to you,my dear readers.
Alrighty then....I'll be back tomorrow after my visit to the dentist. Looking forward to that so very much...no,I really am. I have a great dentist and its always a treat to say "hello".
Lori just called me....she says there is a homeless girl sleeping in her car at her job's parking lot and wanted to know if she should call the cops. I suggested we leave her be,she probably parked there because of the relative safety of the site. I am just surprised we haven't seen more of this in light of the recession.
See you Monday.
Today is my late brother Peter's birthday. I think about you every day,Peter,every single day. I celebrate the man you were and mourn the man you would have become if you weren't taken from us so senselessly,needlessly. We,your family,miss and love you very much.