Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jeff Ireland asks Dez Bryant what??

Let me ask you a question: if you went to a job interview and they asked you a question about your mother’s job history, wouldn’t you wonder what the relevance is? Now another question: if at a job interview you were asked if your mother use to be a prostitute, wouldn’t you be angry?

Well that is what happened to former Oklahoma State Wide Receiver Dez Bryant in a pre-NFL Draft interview. Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland has apologized to Bryant (now that the story has become public) for asking him before last week’s NFL Draft if his mother was a prostitute. Ireland said to the media that “My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I'm considering drafting. Sometimes that leads to asking in-depth questions.” So, since it is public knowledge that Bryant’s mother was arrested years ago for drug distribution, in Ireland’s mind this was a valid question to find out about Dez Bryant’s character.

This is disgraceful for any potential employer to ask someone such a question with no formal information that would make it relevant. In a recent interview Dez Bryant called Jeff Ireland an “A-list A-hole” for asking such a question. While some may say him saying that about Ireland was unnecessary you need to put yourself in his position for a moment. Bryant is a guy who has had people question his character and work ethic almost totally based on the fact that he was suspended by the NCAA because he had a get together with Deion Sanders to talk about Bryant’s potential in the NFL. The NCAA claimed Bryant did not fully disclose the details of his meeting with Sanders and cited a NCAA bylaw (which most college sports experts say was loosely interpreted).

Since this suspension Bryant has been overly scrutinized and this story coming to light is an example of how low some people in the NFL will go to pick apart potential employees. Whether its Tim Tebow or Dez Bryant, people who work for NFL Franchises seem to want to find things wrong with potential players then just see these athletes for what they are, positives AND negatives. It should be pointed out that this isn’t a recent issue with NFL executives. NFL Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Jack Lambert, Warren Moon, Deacon Jones, Johnny Unitas, and John Randle were all picked apart by the “geniuses” in the NFL.

But what Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland asked Bryant was more than just picking at him. To ask a man if his mother is a prostitute is unprofessional, disgraceful and disgusting. Just because someone has a parent with a history of bad behavior does not mean that reflects onto the child’s ability to do a job. I do not blame Dez Bryant for calling Ireland an “A-List A-hole”. In fact I have a new level of respect for Bryant because he sat there and said no instead of lashing out at Ireland. The fact he stayed under control during the interview shows me he is more professional and controlled then the man interviewing him, Jeff Ireland.

If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cares about the conduct of those in the professional league he oversees he needs to discipline Ireland for his crass behavior toward a young man in his early 20’s. Goodell suspended Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 6 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy for bad judgment and a history of making bad decisions off the field. Shouldn’t Goodell use the same standards in dealing with NFL team executives he uses with the players in the NFL? Ireland’s unprofessionalism is what has been revealed in the media happens behind closed doors in the NFL. It is slowly coming out about what else gets asked and said to potential NFL players in these interviews. This has gone beyond finding out about someone’s character, this is disgraceful. When former Stanford Running Back Toby Gerhardt is asked by an NFL executive if he feels “entitled to play” in the NFL because he is white then it’s safe to say that the people who really need to be scrutinized may not be the athletes as much as the executives in the suits.

Needless to say, Dez Bryant must be very happy he was not drafted by the Miami Dolphins. I certainly wouldn’t want to work for a company where one of my bosses asked me if my mom was a prostitute.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ryan Howard: the 2nd highest paid player in baseball?

Today the Philadelphia Phillies signed their All-Star first baseman Ryan Howard to a five year, 125 million dollar contract extension that makes him the second highest player in baseball. This move keeps Howard in a Phillies uniform through at least 2016 while allowing the Phillies the financial flexibility to sign their other key players to keep their best players.

This contract has me scratching my head because it seems like the Phillies overpaid to keep Ryan Howard in Philadelphia. First I view Howard as the second best player on the Phillies. Chase Utley is right now the best overall player on the roster and Jayson Werth is a very close third behind Howard. Howard has not made it clear that he really should be the second highest salary in baseball, especially when he isn’t that much better overall then Utley or Werth. Utley is a better overall hitter and Werth is a better all around player then Howard. So then when it comes time to re-sign Jayson Werth at the end of this season and Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (a top 5 talent at his position) at the end of next season, how much do you have to pay them to keep them in Philly? Will they be willing to take a “hometown discount” or will they during contract negotiations point to what Howard is making and say “Why cant I make close to what he is getting?” It’s a dicey situation the Phillies have put themselves in.

Secondly it should be considered the fact that Ryan Howard is considered by the so-called experts to be the fourth best 1st baseman in Major League Baseball (MLB). The top player at the 1st base position is Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals hands down; Pujols is the best overall hitter in baseball and is a very good fielder too. Pujols could end his career as one of the top three players in baseball history. So why is Howard being paid right now 6 million more dollars then Pujols? I wonder what the Phillies logic is paying him this much money.

As for the other players who are labeled as better then Howard is more so debatable. “Experts” claim that Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees and Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres are better overall 1st basemen then Ryan Howard. Well let’s look at the numbers because they don’t have any bias. Look at the averages for Howard, Teixeira, and Gonzalez over the last three seasons:

*Ryan Howard – HR: 46, RBI: 141, Batting average: .266, fielding percentage: .989
*Mark Teixeira – HR: 34, RBI: 117, Batting average: .302, fielding percentage: .996
*Adrian Gonzalez – HR: 35, RBI: 106, Batting average: .282, fielding percentage: .995

In the home runs and runs batted in categories Howard dominates the other two players. But the other two players are much better then Ryan Howard in batting average and fielding. But this discussion is suppose to be about the best overall player. Yes Howard strikes out much more than most players of his skill level, his production is top notch. Also most of his fielding errors are on throws while he does a great job receiving the ball at 1st base so having his fielding percentage is a bit relative. Yet Teixeira is making now 2 million dollars less then Howard.

But the player who I think might be better than Ryan Howard but doesn’t get much recognition is Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers. Just take a look at the three year average of the same statistics:

*Prince Fielder – HR: 43, RBI: 120, Batting average: .287, fielding percentage: .990

As you can see Fielder’s home run numbers are closer to Howard while his batting average and fielding percentage statistics are better. Also Fielder has better RBI and batting average numbers then Adrian Gonzalez. But Fielder is making only 2 million dollars more than Gonzalez while making 15 million dollars less then Howard.

So while Howard is one of the best power hitters and a top 5 1st baseman in MLB one should question if he really worth 25 million dollars when better overall 1st basemen like Pujols and Fielder are making much less money than him. I think the Phillies hit the panic button and overpaid to keep Howard happy. A Phillies fan has to be concerned if the team will cry “poor” when going to re-sign their other great players like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth. The Phillies said they couldn’t afford to resign Pitcher Cliff Lee then acquired Pitcher Roy Halladay and signed him to a 3 year, 60 million dollar contract extension. It seems like to me the Phillies are not being smart with their money. They can’t afford to be the New York Yankees, especially when they showed in last year’s World Series they don’t play better then them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NFL Draft Round 1: Analysis

The first round of the NFL Draft last night was certainly interesting; it left some people excited, some indifferent and others angry, depending on what team you cheer for. I ‘m not going to be excessive and breakdown EVERY pick of the 1st round, instead I will go over the winners, head-scratching moves, and picks I refer to as “the jury is still out” from last night.


-Detroit Lions: After years of NFL mediocrity and being the laughing stock of most drafts, the Lions under new Coaching and Management have now had two straight years of solid picks. With the 2nd overall pick the Lions drafted University of Nebraska Defensive Tackle (DT) Ndamakong Suh, the man who I consider the top player in the draft. He can have an immediate impact on defense for this team and will be a force to be reckoned with. Then the Lions traded up for the 30th overall pick and took University of California Running Back (RB) Jahvid Best. Best is a dynamic player who has the potential to be a superstar and can fill a major need for Detroit on offense. The Lions need a RB who can carry and catch the ball, relieving pressure off of QB Matthew Stafford.

-Seattle Seahawks: New Head Coach Pete Carroll got lucky (for lack of a better term) when Oklahoma State University Offensive Tackle (OT) Russell Okung was still available. Many experts consider Okung the best offensive lineman in the draft. Okung has all the tools necessary to be a solid NFL caliber OT. Then the Seahawks got another fortunate break when the Philadelphia Eagles left University of Texas Safety Earl Thomas available for Seattle to draft at the 14th overall pick. Thomas is the best pass defense Safety in the draft and has great instincts. Seattle has everything going their way so far in this year’s draft.

-Arizona Cardinals: For whatever reason team after team let talented DT Dan Williams from the University of Tennessee stay available. When the 26th pick came around, the Cardinals had to be surprised one of the best defensive players in this year’s draft was still out there to be picked. The Cardinals get a solid all-around player who can make an immediate positive impact for them on defense. Williams is everything talent-wise a team could want in a Defensive Tackle.

-Dallas Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones still regrets he did not draft future Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Randy Moss in the 1998 NFL Draft because of off the field issues. So when the Cowboys saw that Oklahoma State Wide Receiver (WR) Dez Bryant was passed over by four teams that need a WR for the same reason the Cowboys passed over Moss in 1998, they had to go get him. Dallas made a trade with the New England Patriots to get the 24th overall pick and grabbed Bryant. Dez Bryant’s off the field issues are subjective in nature and his abilities as a football player make him a steal for the Cowboys. As I explained to someone today: “Dez Bryant has Randy Moss’ leaping ability, Larry Fitzgerald’s hands, and Miles Austin’s agility”.


-Jacksonville Jaguars: Defensive Tackle Tyson Aluala from the University of California was a good college player. But is he really worthy of being drafted 10th overall? I’m not the only person who doesn’t think so. When you take a player most people don’t even know, you are doing your franchise and fans a real disservice. The Jaguars are a team that has had trouble with attendance in recent years and taking with your top pick a guy who may not make a real impact on your team this coming season really makes me wonder what they are thinking down in Jacksonville. Let’s also consider the fact that the Jaguars last several 1st round picks have not worked out: Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, and Derrick Harvey to name a few.

-Philadelphia Eagles: So the Eagles traded up to make a top talent pick to help their defense. They need a Safety with the ability to start now and also a lot of upside. So what do they do? They draft a player who played Linebacker in college to play Defensive End for them. Right, that makes so much sense (sarcasm). Brandon Graham played outside linebacker at the University of Michigan and was their best defensive player last season. But when one of the top defensive players in the draft is available (Safety Earl Thomas) and you pass on him for a player you could have waited a few more picks to try and grab is a questionable move. Now I think Brandon Graham can be a solid NFL player and is a hard worker who can make a good impact for the Eagles, but the Eagles seem to always pass on the players who are almost guaranteed to be successful in the NFL for guys who have raw talent and need a bit of development.

-New Orleans Saints: The reigning Super Bowl champions picked a player who plays a position they are very deep at right now. The Saints drafted Florida State Cornerback (CB) Patrick Robinson with the 32nd overall pick. The Saints already have four cornerbacks who could start on many NFL teams, so why draft Robinson? Robinson is a good CB but isn’t great at anything. Maybe this was just a safe pick for the Saints. They could have drafted a linebacker who could help them this year instead of a guy who will probably be buried on special teams for a few years.


-Buffalo Bills: This is a team that has a plethora of needs at positions such as Quarterback, Offensive lineman, Tight End, and Safety. So the Bills decide to draft at the 9th overall pick a player who they thought was the “Best overall player available”: Clemson University RB C.J. Spiller. Even though this team already has two RB’s on their roster who are talented enough to start, the Bills picked Spillers because of his great overall skills as a RB in comparison to the Running Backs the Bills currently have. Also, the Bills may have made this pick so they can trade RB Marshawn Lynch, who has had legal issues outside of football.

-San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers drafted two players last night that have good upside. Rutgers Offensive Tackle Anthony Davis and University of Idaho Offensive Guard Mike Iupati are good, safe picks for the 49ers. But it is surprising that a team whose Head Coach is Mike Singletary would not draft one of the many talented Linebackers, Cornerbacks or Defensive lineman that were still available at the 11th and 17th overall picks. Singletary is a defense-minded guy because of his background as the leader of the great Chicago Bear defenses of the 1980’s. But the 49ers choose instead two big, strong offensive linemen. Davis of Rutgers has had some question his character because he was suspended in college and others question his work ethic because he twice showed up to August Rutgers’ training camps overweight. On the other hand Iupati of Idaho is the best overall Offensive Guard in the draft and could start this coming season for San Francisco.

-Denver Broncos: Head Coach Josh McDaniels has become a polarizing force among Broncos fans. He traded away Pro Bowlers Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. He says he wants dedicated, character type players on his team. So the Broncos drafted Georgia Tech Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas and University of Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow. These picks seem to be McDaniels way of saying he has a plan for the future of the Broncos, but will he be around to see the fruits of his master plan? No matter what your opinion is of Tim Tebow the reality is that he is a hard worker with many physical skills. Even if he doesn’t become an NFL star at QB he could become a solid contributor on offense whether as a QB or the man who runs the “Wildcat Offense” in Denver. Thomas is a guy who was never able to show all his abilities at Georgia Tech but he has all the skills needed to be a good NFL starting Wide Receiver. He has good hands, can block, and has great speed and agility. Only time will tell if Broncos fans and ownership will be patient enough with McDaniels through the growing pains of rebuilding this team into what he wants it to be.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Roethlisberger suspended: Analysis and what's next

The news was finally released today: the National Football League (NFL) will suspend Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback (QB) Ben Roethlisberger four to six games for “violating the NFL's personal conduct policy”. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a public letter to Roethlisberger, “In your six years in the NFL, you have first thrilled and now disappointed a great many people. I urge you to take full advantage of this opportunity to get your life and career back on track.” According to the released NFL report, Roethlisberger has to go through behavior evaluation and counseling before being allowed back to play or practice.

This was a good move by the NFL. Roethlisberger has been accused by 3 different women of sexual assault, he got into a motorcycle crash four years (when it’s in his contract he isn’t allowed to ride a motorcycle!), and he had couple incidents in college that some people say that his university have tried to keep it quiet. He may be a nice guy and he has won 2 Super Bowls with the Steelers. But Commissioner Gödel has shown that no one is beyond reproach in the NFL. Roethlisberger has continuously put himself in bad situation. Even if he is innocent of all accusations, the fact that he has such an immense lack of judgment and puts himself into situations where he could be accused of any wrong doing shows he has issues that need to be dealt with.

So now as a result of Roethlisberger’s suspension, the Steelers are looking to trade him and they should. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the most respected organizations in NFL history. They have been disgraced off the field by Roethlisberger and former Wide Receiver (WR) Santonio Homes’ behavior. The fans and the organization of the Steelers have stood behind these two for long enough. Roethlisberger is suppose to be the face of the Steelers franchise and is one of the most well known players in the NFL. He is supposed to carry himself with more character and professionalism then he has.

Holmes was traded to the Jets for a 5th round draft pick. Now the Steelers are looking to trade Roethlisberger for a 1st round draft pick in this Thursday’s NFL Draft. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Steelers have contacted St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers about trading Roethlisberger for their 1st round pick.

According to reports the Rams and Bills have already said “no” to trading for Roethlisberger. Here’s a breakdown of those teams that are being offered Roethlisberger:

- The Rams, who own the top pick in the draft, are more likely to accept a trade to move down a few picks and draft another QB in the draft instead of taking on Roethlisberger and his baggage. The Rams have invested a lot of time scouting, working out, and interviewing QB prospects like Sam Bradford, Jimmy Claussen, and Colt McCoy. The Rams are considering a trade with the Browns to give them the 1st overall for the Browns pick at 7th overall and a couple of their other draft picks. The idea behind this trade is to allow the Browns to pick Sam Bradford with the top pick and the Rams can draft Jimmy Claussen with the 7th overall pick.

-The Browns General Manager Mike Holmgren likes Quarterbacks who can handle complex offenses like Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Jon Kitna, and Matt Hasselbeck. Roethlisberger is a good QB but has never played in a West Coast type offense before so he is unproven in that type of system. Also Holmgren and Head Coach Eric Mangini have a great deal of interest in Sam Bradford and would like to find a way to draft him; the afore mentioned trade with the Rams is still “on the table”.

-The Bills would not be too interested in Roethlisberger because their new Head Coach Chan Gailey wants to run an offense in Buffalo that Roethlisberger wouldn’t fit well. Gailey wants to run a spread offense that requires a mobile QB who can read coverages quickly and has good accuracy. Roethlisberger doesn’t fit Gailey’s criteria. Gailey would like to draft a QB like Colt McCoy, Tony Pike or Zak Robinson who is mobile athlete, an accurate passer and has experience in the spread offense.

-The Raiders wanted to acquire Donovan McNabb but the Philadelphia Eagles traded him to the Washington Redskins. The Raiders desperately need a good starting QB. They haven’t had a Pro Bowl caliber starting QB since Rich Gannon was the starting QB seven years ago. Roethlisberger would be perfect for a franchise that has a high level of tolerance for their players off the field activities. Oakland has become the home for teams to dump off their unwanted players at. Also, Oakland wouldn’t mind taking on Roethlisberger’s contract.

-The Jaguars don’t need a Public Relations mess that Roethlisberger would be for them in a city where they already have trouble selling tickets and convincing people to come out to games. They want to draft a player who is well known in Florida to sell tickets, like University of Florida hero Tim Tebow.
-The 49ers are a good QB away from winning the NFC West division this year. They had interest in McNabb but were unsure if they could resign McNabb. Roethlisberger signed an eight year contract in 2008 so the 49ers would not have to worry about resigning him. Also they have two 1st round picks in this year’s draft so if they traded one of those picks to the Steelers they would still be able to draft one of the players they really want. It would be a win-win for the 49ers to get a proven QB and still get to draft in the 1st round.

-The Seahawks’ QB situation is already in flux and to add Roethlisberger would cause serious confusion. Seattle already has a veteran QB in Matt Hasselbeck and a young QB in Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst was brought in by the Seahawks to be their future QB. Seattle also has two first round picks but there is a lot of expectation that new Head Coach Pete Carroll wants to rebuild this team through the draft. I would expect the Seahawks to keep both picks and draft (if available) Tennessee Safety Eric Berry at the 6th overall pick and Clemson Running Back C.J. Spillers at the 14th overall pick.

SIDE NOTE: If the Steelers follow through with trading Roethlisberger they are fine at the QB position. They right now have three other Quarterbacks on the roster who have played in Pittsburgh’s offense. Byron Leftwitch will probably be the starting QB since he played well in a few games when Roethlisberger was injured. Along with Leftwitch the Steelers have a young QB Dennis Dixon who the Steelers coaching staff wants to see if he can develop into a good NFL caliber QB. The Steelers have gotten by without Roethlisberger in the past and they can again without him.