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Well….so much for that

The Redskins got crushed last night, and Kirk Cousins was a big reason why.  After pulling things closer after an Alfred Morris TD run made it 24-14, Cousins completely went into the crapper.  Four interceptions and 21 New York points later, the score was a 45-14 blowout.  Cousins performance completely ruined every rationale of the people who believed that there was a quarterback controversy, and that Cousins was emerging as the one who would benefit from it by claiming the starting job from Robert Griffin III.  Many of these people would tell you that RGIII was finished, that his 2012 playoff season was a fluke achieved through a gimmick offense, and that Cousins was going to be great in time.  Any pointing out of Cousins apparent flaws was met with a firm dismissal based on one or two flimsy excuses.  Well after last night, those excuses went from flimsy to broken, as did the supposed advantages Kirk has over Robert.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Excuse 1: The team had already given up last year

This is what you would be told when you brought up that the Redskins went 0-3 in Kirk’s starts last season.  When Kirk was named the starter for the last three games, the Redskins were 3-10 and dead in the water.  So according to Cousins supporters, the rest of the team was already focused on going home to their families and wasn’t focused on trying to win.  Forget the fact that the first two were one point games, both in the fourth quarter and at the final buzzer.    The mailing in had begun so anything that happened in those games didn’t matter.  Well, last night’s thrashing took place in week 4, and the Redskins were 1-2 with a chance to even up their record both overall and in the division.  2-2 would put them back in hunt so there was plenty to play for here.  Nobody gave up on anything last night, they just got whooped.

Excuse 2: Inadequate Preparation/Teammates

Last year Kirk didn’t work with the first team offense until week 15, and that was after 14 games so everyone was already banged up.  Well, Kirk has gotten to work with the first unit in practice since the third game this season, when most everyone was healthy to start with.  Not to mention he has better personnel to work with than he did last season.  Desean Jackson and Andre Roberts are far superior to the running mates Pierre Garcon at wideout last year.  In the three games he played this season, Cousins has failed to get the ball to the main wideouts in two of them.  Last night Jackson had one catch, and in the Jacksonville game Garcon only had one.  This is exactly the thing that Robert was getting killed for so Kirk should, too.

Excuse 3: It’s not his fault

This is what you get when Kirk would throw an interception or incompletion.  The receiver ran the wrong way, or dropped the ball, or was being held.  Sunday when Kirk got picked off in the fourth quarter against the Eagles I went right to the Facebook group I’m in just too see what people had to say.  And to a man, the Cousins Crew blamed Niles Paul, the intended receiver for not running far enough.  Well, last night’s interceptions were an exercise in bad quarterbacking.  Each time he either made a bad throw against man coverage or failed to see the safety coming over the top.  Some of them looked like a punt to the defender and not a forward pass.  And last night the crew was pretty much silent.

Judging by what we saw last night and in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, Cousin looks like a backup.  He’s shown a pattern of late game slides after promising starts, and last night took it to a new level.  No matter what you think of RG3, If you think Cousins is the next Tom Brady go get your head examined.

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A bump in the road, or a danger sign?

Mark Cuban made a prediction earlier this year that the NFL may be flirting with oversaturation and could be ripe for a fall.  He quoted the famous line about feeding pigs and slaughtering hogs, and noted that in his eyes the NFL was starting to ‘get hoggy’.  He was largely dismissed, and his comment was treated as the wishful thinking from the owner of a team from a rival sports league.  But he may be on to something.  The Ray Rice fiasco, from the elevator beating of his then fiancee to absolutely callous way the league and especially commissioner Roger Goodell handled the discipline process to the rank dishonesty that Goodell has employed in describing to NFL’s handling of it the press , has put the league in a potentially precarious position.  No, it’s not in danger of folding or even having to scale back any time soon.  But if they don’t seal this thing back up they could face real scrutiny for the first time from its fans, and that could be trouble down the road.

The league’s rise to supreme ruler of all sports has always been based on the ability of its fans to ignore a bunch of things just below the surface that would be pretty damn disturbing to examine closer.  It has largely managed to fight off the concussion menace (from a PR standpoint, not a reality one) that had people up in arms last year.  But Rice’s case is slowly drawing attention to a few other players with charges pending or a case on appeal (Ray McDonald and Greg Hardy), and could result in a re-opening of prior incidents involving Jovan Belcher (murder of his girlfriend before committing suicide), Terrell Suggs (accusations that were made to go away after checks were written), and others.  And what would be found isn’t pretty.

It’s not just the incidents and the perpetrators involved, it’s the way the league went about sweeping these things under the rug aided and abetted by a largely complicit media that has been in bed with them for almost two decades.  Access and coverage privileges have been traded for willful blindness, and it took a rogue outlet in TMZ to expose the truth.  Having scored with their acquisition and release of the damning full video, TMZ will no doubt be in the hunt for more stories that can do damage to the once invulnerable leviathan.  Even friendly outlets like ESPN, forced to act in a way that would preserve their journalistic integrity, have taken the gloves off and blasted both the league and Goodell.  Openly shilling for the NFL is bad for your brand now if you’re a media outlet (unless you’re the NFL Network, of course); as of right now these networks ain’t loyal.

Whether it’s domestic violence, drug use, DUIs, PEDs, concussions, or ill health setting in at an early age for way too many guys, there are a plethora of things that could drive people away if they dug deep enough.  Parents who grew up watching but won’t let their kids play after they learned too much about concussions is a real thing even though we don’t yet know just how much that will really affect future participation.  Current fans finding out just how many of their favorite players have really disgusting criminal records is another shoe waiting to drop.  With a fanbase that is reportedly 40% female the discovery that over 50 players have recently been involved in domestic incidents, with only 13 serving any kind of suspension, could be a game changer.  That Goodell and co. were willing to play dumb to downplay an incident for Rice, who was no more than a local star for his team and coming off his worst season, makes one wonder what they would do for someone like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

But then again, this may all blow over.  After all we’re willing to ignore all kinds of things in the name of being entertained.  We watch movies and TV shows that employ actors and actresses doing all kinds of desperate things to get and stay attractive, from unhealthy diets to drug use to insane workout routines to risky surgeries.  We go to concerts given by recording artists taking all kinds of measures to stay up for 45 shows in 40 cities over 60 days.  So continuing to watch a sport that either employs people more prone to domestic violence or affects them in such a way that they become more prone to it is not out of the question.  But for the first time in a long time, the future of the NFL is not as set stone as it people thought.

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Janay Rice issues statement over Instagram

Janay Rice decided to release a statement over social media today regarding the incident with her husband, Ray Rice.

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend,” Janay Rice wrote. “But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.

“THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

It seems as if Janay is standing by her man. This situation is just a huge disaster and very unfortunate for the couple. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter about football, money, or fame. The only thing that should matter now is what should be done going forward. Hopefully Mrs. Rice will decide to leave the fame and fortune for her own safety and digninty.

 

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Ray Rice suspended indefintely, what does this mean for the NFL?

How much money does it take to hammer into a man’s head to not beat your girlfriend? Clearly not enough. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s 50 million dollar contract as been terminated and the NFL has increased Rice’s suspension from two games to indefinitely. This punishment came after the popular entertainment news insiders at TMZ leaked the video of Rice punching his then fiance and current wife, Janay Palm in an Atlantic City hotel.  News of this action was swift and heavy  as Baltimore is coming off its first loss this season to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The right thing was done today. The NFL has a bad reputation of arrests and off field issues. Since the Super Bowl, there have been 37 arrests in the NFL ranging from the indictment of Aaron Hernandez for murder to a DUI on Colts Owner Jim Irsay. The hammer was set down upon Ray Rice and rightfully so.

What we tend to forget as sports fans is that as much as we love these athletes, they’re not just athletes. These men and women who we spend our hard earned money on, whether it be for buying tickets to a game or a jersey to put on our backs, are public figures. Role Models. We look up to them. We admire them. But more importantly, our young look up to them and it’s cases like this that painfully remind us about the down side. This is precisely why I agree completely with this punishment.

Every year, we have to read headline after headline of another NFL player getting arrested, suspended, or in the rare case, dead, for off field issues. We’ve become almost desensitized to exactly how much this happens. In 2010, there were 507 arrests in the NFL. Often times these incidents result in a two to six game suspension with pay. Fact of the matter is, we don’t have to put up with it. Being a professional athlete is a privilege, not a right. So many of us out in the real world would give almost anything to do what these athletes get to do for a living. To live the lives that these men have. Yet, they go and commit these crimes and try and walk away like nothing happened.

Today, the NFL took a step in the right direction. They sent a message to the league that enough is enough. No one is bigger than the law or bigger than the league. Not a 3-time pro bowler like Rice or a 22 year old college student. Hopefully, Goodell puts those gardening gloves back on in the future and weed these problems out of the game we love.

 

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College Football Week 2/Quick Lookback at Week 1

For the die hard college football fans out there, week one absolutely delivered what we had been waiting for since the National Championship game.

It’s the dawn of a new era in college football. Well, the playoff era, that is.

Notre Dame kicked off their season with a 48-17 win over Rice. It was Everett Golson’s return to South Bend, and even though it was against a team that isn’t expected to finish highly ranked, he looked like he hadn’t skipped a beat. The running game of Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston, and Cam McDaniel looked unbelievable, and could be the force that carries the Irish offense this season.

Florida State barely hung on against Oklahoma State, only winning by 6 points. Penn State needed a last second field goal to beat UCF over in Ireland early Saturday morning.

Perhaps the best game of the week goes to the Wisconsin-LSU matchup. LSU was down for much of the game, but mounted a comeback late to pull off the victory.

Fans were pretty surprised that Georgia was able to do that big of a number on Clemson. Todd Gurley, the running back for the Dawgs, was literally unstoppable the entire game.

As far as this week goes, the Michigan at Notre Dame game is definitely one to watch tonight. It’s the first test for both teams, and t’s also the last scheduled matchup in the foreseeable future in this storied rivalry.  USC at Stanford is always a good matchup. How does a new look Trojan team fair against an experienced Stanford quarterback?

Keep an eye on the Virginia Tech at Ohio State game. Could be a big statement game for the Hokies against a freshmen quarterback at OSU.

This season figures to be extremely exciting, and it’s only week 2. Let the fun begin.

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2014 NFL Predicitions

Quick and fast, here they go:

NFC East – Eagles (winner), Cowboys, Redskins, Giants

This division is a bastion of mediocrity and has been filled with turnover.  The Eagles have been the most stable so I go with them to maintain.  The Cowboys defense will likely be awful like last year, but their offense will be good enough to win half their games.  The Redskins defense and special teams will be better than last year, and that should be enough to get them to 6 or 7 wins, but both units still won’t be good enough to get them further.  The offense is a wildcard; they won’t suck but they may underachieve as RG3 adjusts to a new system.  The Giants won’t capitalize on the Redskins being 3-13 bad for two cheap wins and will finish last.

NFC North – Packers (winner), Bears (wildcard), Lions, Vikings

Same as last year.  Assuming Rodgers stays healthy for 16 games, the Pack won’t blow winnable games to narrow their lead.  The Lions will win more, but Matthew Stafford’s mistakes will hold them back again.  The Bears will maintain what they did last year, and Minnesota is breaking in a new QB.

NFC South – Saints (winner), Falcons, Bucs, Panthers

The Saints have the best overall unit.  The Falcons will improve but not enough to win the division.  I’m not sold on the Bucs; better record than 2013 but not by much.  The Panthers lost a whole lot of talent and Cam Newton is already hurt.  I expect a huge dropoff there.

NFC West – Seahawks (winner), 49ers (wildcard), Cardinals, Rams

Other than Seattle, everyone’s got problems.  The Cardinals and Rams have injuries while the 49ers have injuries and suspensions to hold them back.  The overall talent level remains unchanged so it stays the same as 2013.

AFC East – Patriots (winner), Dolphins, Jets, Bills

Rinse and repeat from last year.  Same talent level, same coaches, same results

AFC North – Bengals (winner), Ravens, Steelers, Browns

Roster turmoil outside of Cincy equals another division title in CIncy.  The Ravens get better faster than the Steelers but they both float around .500.  The Browns are a dumpster fire.

AFC South – Colts (winner), Titans, Texans, Jaguars

The Colts win an otherwise lousy division.  The Texans have no QB, and the Jaguars might be playing a rookie one by midseason.  The Titans are mediocre but not as awful in any one place as the other two.

AFC West – Broncos (winner), Chiefs (wildcard), Chargers (wildcard), Raiders

Denver stays on top for another year, while the Chargers and Chiefs hang on to their spots from last year.  The Raiders are starting a rookie QB, again.

All in all, I’m predicting things to stay where they were from 2013.  We’ll see what happens.

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HWT-13 – Jerry Springer, CM Punk’s Wedding, Zack Ryder and HLW’s Dru Skillz

HWT is packed this week with news about Matt Hardy, CM Punk’s Wedding, Zack Ryder and even Jerry Springer. We also spend our special segment with the champ from Heroes and Legends, Dru Skillz, and talk about their upcoming event. Hear about this and more on this week’s episode.

Learn more about Harrell Wrestling Talk at these social medias:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Did Michael Sam get a fair deal?

OK, so Michael Sam did not make the Rams roster, and he did not get picked up by another team for either their active roster.  But he did get signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.  Opinions are all over the place as to whether or not Sam got a fair shot, both on draft day and this summer.  There’s been speculation that he fell to the seventh round because of his announcement prior to the Scouting Combine that was gay, and also a lot of reasons given why his drop was legit.  Was does the evidence say?

Sam was SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, a pretty high honor.  It’s also a usual predictor of an early selection on draft day.  Among previous SEC Defensive Players of the Year there were eight first round picks, one second rounder, and one fifth rounder.  Among the household names who’ve won the award are Patrick Willis, Eric Berry, and Patrick Peterson.  So Sam was in some pretty lofty company to start with.  So why did things go so differently for him?

SI.com ran a piece about him right after he came out, and discussed where he was projected to go beforehand,  and the opinions were all  between the third and seventh rounds.  Now that’s a pretty wide range, leaving  a lot of room for judgement from all the pre-draft activities like the scouting combine and his pro day.  Sam already had his size working against him (6-3, 255 is pretty small for an NFL defensive end), so if he was to have any chance of going at the high end of his projections he’d have to show some superior speed and athleticism.  When it came to that, he failed miserably.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.91 40 yard dash.  That’s the kind of time that big, slow offensive tackles are known to run.  4.91 for a pass rushing defensive end is pretty abysmal.  Later, on his pro day he ran a better time, 4.73; an improvement but still nothing to write home about.  The average time in 2013 for a defensive end was 4.77, and by contrast first overall pick and fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney ran a 4.47 and a 4.53.  So you had an undersized player with average speed at best, and that adds up to someone who gets picked later and not sooner.  But there were some anonymous quotes, and others fully attributed to Tony Dungy and some others, that suggested having Sam around would be too much of a distraction and that warranted not picking him at all.  So the idea that Sam may get jobbed on draft day by the Neanderthal instincts of NFL coaches and GMs became a real thing.

We have no idea what was said in the various War Rooms around the league; unless somebody leaks that a reporter one day it’s going to the grave with everyone involved.  It won’t be the first time a highly decorated player got drafted low; in the same draft the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year went undrafted and numerous Heisman trophy winners have fallen to the later rounds.  It’s also not uncommon for front offices to value the combine results over what a player did on the field.  It often backfires but it happens; if this is what happened with Sam on draft day then it’s no different than what happens with countless other players.  I believe that if it were Clowney making the same announcement he would have gotten picked right where he did.

Now what about preseason?  Yes, he played well in the preseason while playing with the second unit.  But that happens every year.  I can run off a list of names of preseason heroes for my Redskins who never made the active roster, and I bet you can do the same for yours.  If anything, Sam not making the roster despite his preseason performance should convince you once and for all just how worthless those games are.  We didn’t see the Rams practices, but the coaches who did apparently felt that he was not better than the nine lineman they ended up keeping.  Sam not playing special teams didn’t help his case either.  If you don’t start, don’t play in the regular rotation, and don’t play on special teams, there really isn’t much use for you on a 53 man roster.

Sam got a fair shake, as fair as everyone else who seeks employment in the league.  His career is not yet over; the practice squad thing in Dallas could very well be the springboard to greater things.  But put away the picket signs if you have them because they aren’t warranted here.

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Frank Caliendo’s hilarious John Madden, Morgan Freeman, Jon Gruden impression on ESPN

Frank Caliendo has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to impressions.

Caliendo appeared on Numbers Never Lie starring Michael Smith and Jemele Hill and performs a “Rapid Fire” of impressions of some of his best acts.

If you are a sports fan or not, you will enjoy this.

Frank Caliendo Rapid Fire Impressions (ESPN)

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Maryland WR Taivon Jacobs to miss remainder of season with knee injury

Late last week the Maryland Terps learned that they would be without junior wide receiver Levern Jacobs. A reliable weapon for the Terps, Jacobs was suspended indefinitely for violating the school’s student code of conduct.

Now the Terps will be without his little brother.

Freshman Taivon Jacobs, who was one of the players expected to help replace his brother at wide receiver, suffered a severe meniscus injury early in the first quarter Saturday against James Madison. Taivon, who underwent an MRI today, was scheduled to only miss up to four weeks of action. However, his injury will now sideline him for the rest of the 2014 season.

Luckily for the Terps, they have players who have demonstrated that they can step in and contribute at the wide receiver spot.

Jacobs probable replacement, Junior Marcus Leak, returns as a full-time starter from 2012. A North Carolina recruit, Leak showed much promise upon his arrival to College Park. However, he voluntarily left the program in 2013 to tend to family issues. Leak finished Saturdays home opener with two receptions totaling 17 yards.

Coach Randy Edsall and his staff will undoubtedly spend time this week adjusting the receiver depth chart. At its disposal Maryland has proven sophomore Amba Etta-Tawo, who finished the 2013 season with 31 catches for 500 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to Etta-Tawo, the Terps will look to sophomore Jacquille Veii, a converted running back, who has shown to be effective in his new role. Veii operates strictly in the slot, and will likely serve as the Terps’ fourth receiver.