Category Archives: Sports

A backdoor victory

Brazil Soccer WCup US GermanySo for those of you keeping track at home, the United States Men’s National Team competing in the FIFA World Cup this year, lost their match against Germany, but somehow the team still advances to the next round.

That may sound confusing to some sports fans, how a team competing in a competition could lose and still advance to the next round, but it all makes sense to those who follow. Not to be more confusing though, their last game against Portugal ended up in a 2-2 draw, had fans deflated as any other loss would have done, but following this actual loss against the Germans found fans as pleased as any other victory. Again, somehow it all makes sense.

In their group, the U.S. went up against Portugal last Sunday with a chance to advance regardless the outcome of any further games. After being down by an early goal from the Portuguese, the American team battled back to a 2-1 lead which they carried late until virtually the last seconds of the game. Whether they got lazy, overconfident or perhaps just dumb luck from their opponents, Portugal tied the game just before the final whistle and the game ended in a tie.

So close, but now they’d have to win their next game to make it to the next round, right? Not exactly.

Each team had different scenarios in order for them to go on. A win for the U.S. would have assured them a way in, but another tie with Germany would have work for both teams to make it to the round of 16. A loss though, would have placed their fate in the hands of a whole other game between Ghana and their previous opponent Portugal.

Ghana posed a threat to the U.S. in that scenario, as they too had a chance to advance if they won. Even though the U.S. beat Ghana in the onset of the tournament, a win by them would have given them the second tiebreaker. Alas, one of the world’s best players (who just happens to play for Portugal by the way) did the Americans a favor and scored a goal over Ghana and sent the Americans a “win”.

That’s good news for our country who up until now has had on average a mild interest in the sport. Its no secret that soccer, or Association Football, is the world’s most premiere sport, but it hasn’t garnered as much attention here in the States. But whether its a sense of nationalism or interest in global competition in sports, its starting to get a foothold.

The USMNT’s last game against Portugal was a perfect storm for ratings. A win and they’re automatically in, it was on a Sunday, late afternoon/early evening start time, going against one of the best players in the world. At 24.7 million viewers, more people watched that game than those who watched the BCS National Champtionship game, any NCAA Final Four game, Game 5 of the NBA Finals, any of the Stanley Cup Finals and any World Series game last year. In fact, over the past year, anything other than the NFL and the Olympics were not as watched as the  game between the United States and Portugal.

US mens soccerIt’s too early to tell how well-viewed the game between the U.S. and Germany was to the American public, but it would likely be on the same level as the previous match. Now that the Americans have survived the “Group of Death” a victory in the next round over Belgium would send ratings and this country to a level where we’ve only seen the team make it to twice in history.

And to those unfamiliar, don’t worry, it gets less confusing from here. This upcoming game in the “Knockout Round” is a win-or-go home type territory that we’re all familiar with in our sports spectating. So you can no longer use the, “oh they loss but they still go to the next round???” as a further excuse not to watch.

Not for nothin, but shouldn’t thousands of NFC East fans should be used to the whole idea of losing, but still making it to the playoffs. Works the same way.

Not to be out-done by Kevin Costner

Manziel“With the 22nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M University.”

With that line, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell capped off an adventurous night for the Cleveland Browns. A night that included multiple draft pick trades and multiple draft pick selections for the Browns just in the first round alone.

That’s a feat we’ve seen in NFL drafts before, but it was much more recently highlighted in a Hollywood feature film, Draft Day, where Kevin Costner portrayed a fictional General Manager for the same Cleveland Browns team who, after going back and forth, also received multiple draft pick trades and draft pick selections in the first round.

In both the real-life and fictional Draft Days you could make your head spin trying to figure out how many picks were traded where, when and how far up and down. Lets just say both Cleveland Browns made huge splashes.

First year GM Ray Farmer initially had a fourth pick and his choice of several impressive players, but to the awe of many that pick was dished away to Buffalo for their number nine pick (and two next year). Farmer couldn’t stop there, and with a further first impression, he decided to move back up one spot and make their first pick giving Minnesota a later pick. But it was the Browns third move of the draft, and second pick, that sent a shockwave across the league. After having a second pick at 26 from an in-season trade of Runningback Trent Richardson, Browns moved up from there and selected Johnny Manziel.

Their first pick Cornerback Justin Gilbert didn’t provide the sizzle that fans wanted, but Manziel was easily the most talked about Quarterback in this year’s draft, probably the most talked about player altogether. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of the Heisman Trophy winner, particularly after he went undrafted throughout most of the first round. In the winter there was talk of a number one selection, but it cooled down to where many thought he’d be taken in the early teens at the latest. With the third pick, the Jaguars chose another quarterback. And to the dismay of some, and the shock of many, Manziel was passed on by close to 20 other teams, including the Browns.

Manziel polarized many analyst and fans for the past couple years. An obvious talent and playmaker, he was peppered with off the field incidents from fights, law enforcement infractions and a NCAA investigation which saw him suspended for several games. Nonetheless no other player made an on-field impact like Manziel this year, and obviously not last year considering his Heisman victory. And now a (dare I say) Tebow-esque fascination will ride it out all the way to Cleveland.

Not for nothin’ but the movie Draft Day had Brownies all over beaming in the spotlight, but this 2014 NFL Draft day actually puts them in a spotlight. Many are saying Cleveland had the best first round. Others are keenly watching if Johnny Manziel will live up to making every team who passed him up regret it. Lets hope draft day dramatics lead to on the field success.

In Draft Day, Kevin Costner’s character was told by his owner to “make a splash”, all the while trying to get the players he and his coach wanted. That movie had a happy ending. Cleveland Browns real GM Ray Farmer, made a splash and made him and his coach happy with his first round selections. Perhaps they’ll have a happy ending too.

America’s newest supervillain?

sterlingIs Donald Sterling America’s newest super-villain? Well he’s at least the newest face of racism in America. The National Basketball’s Association commissioner Adam Silver handed down the punishment to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in the wake of publicized comments he made in regards to African-Americans.

In addition to a lifetime ban from the NBA, Sterling is also being fined $2.5 million and possibly forced to sell the franchise.

Quite a steep penalty to pay, but according to, not only public outcry, but also to the delight of several vocal NBA players, this maximum punishment handed down is just about right. And unfortunately, even though it seems harsh, this super-villain, like all the others, may just have the last laugh.

The tape that was released just a couple of days ago, had Sterling verbally upset over his girlfriend associating with African-Americans. Sterling’s girlfriend, who herself is half-black, took a picture and posted it on Instagram of herself and NBA legend Magic Johnson.

Sterling was heard on the tape saying, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling continued, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask is you is not to promote it on that…and not to bring them to my games.”

The tape also goes into Sterling’s feelings on NBA owners, his feelings on holocaust and other disparaging remarks on various other athlete’s and friends of his girlfriend, who appeared on her Instagram account.

Whatever kind of convoluted relationship Sterling had with his girlfriend, Commissioner Adam Silver made sure that he, nor anyone else involved with the NBA, doesn’t have the same. Sterling is immediately barred from attending any NBA practices or games, including the Clippers playoff run this year. He is also not welcome in any Clippers office or facility, team meeting, business or player personnel decision. Sterling is not allowed in any league business at all.

But the rain on Sterling’s parade pretty much ends there. And the fact is, that’s probably just a little drizzle to him.

The lifetime ban and the $2.5 million fine, while probably warranted, is probably just a show. This is America and you have the right to say whatever you want, but as long as it’s not illegal to be a racist, no one can do anything about it but disagree with you and distance themselves, which is essentially what the NBA is doing. It’s their league, they can ban him and fine him whatever they want. But does that really matter to an old multi-millionaire who’s probably not gonna change and attend many basketball games any more anyway? And Not for nothin’ but Sterling will still come out on top after he’s forced to sale the team, netting him half a billion dollars in the process. That’s not losing.

Tebow-mania, Round 3

ap942013453720-1-It’s official. Tim Tebow is back in the NFL, set to play football nonetheless. The New England Patriots announced Tuesday they signed the former Heisman Trophy winner for the upcoming season. This will be the quarterback’s third team in his brief NFL career.

Virtually all of America, whether a football fan or not, has followed the story of Tim Tebow from college through this point in the pros. For those who don’t follow the sport, understanding “Tebow-mania” could be difficult. For others who do know football, know every reason why Tim Tebow should or should not be playing American football. But we can all agree, it’s the one football story that keeps on giving.

So with the new team does that mean a new beginning with Tebow, or does it mean the beginning of the end for “Tebow-mania”?

Details of the contract are not immediately clear, but ESPN is reporting it’s a two-year agreement with no guaranteed money. They are also expecting that Tebow will be a quarterback on the team’s roster assuming he makes the team.

One thing we can say for sure though, he definitely will not be starting at quarterback. Tom Brady already has that covered for the team. But Patriots Assistant Coach Josh McDaniels, who drafted Tebow out of college and onto the Broncos is back with New England, and could have very likely had a hand in making this move. McDaniels gave Tebow his first professional quarterbacking stint, and he will be working with him again in the position.

But much of the talk around the skill-set of Tebow rest at his inability to play the quarterback position. And just as the talk of Tebow bounced back, also did talk of him in a new position. But whatever talk that would come from the Patriots camp will likely be limited due to Head Coach Bill Belichick, who is known for releasing limited information from his team.

Many words can describe Belichick, gruff or void of personality, but he leaves much for media to guess at what is going on with his team. In speaking on Tebow on Tuesday, Belichick commented, “Tim is a talented player, is smart and works hard. We’ll see how it goes.”

It’ll be a surprise if we get much more than that out of Belichick on Tebow for the rest of the season.

But Tim Tebow himself adds a bit to the allure of “Tebow-mania”. Every time Tebow talks, plays or even moves, it’s closely monitored by many. His first years with the Broncos, his struggles and accomplishments, were well documented. Then came the move on to the New York Jets. If the Jets planned an effective way to handle “Tebow-mania” it wasn’t shown. In fact after only a year and very little playing time, Tebow was shown the door.

Well the past has shown us that coach Belichick is well equipped to handle pretty much anything the media can throw at him any way he wants. And putting a damper on “Tebow-mania” could likely be one of them.

Not for nothin’ but it’s not hard to figure out that Tebow is “Tebow-mania”. He doesn’t have to talk or play for him to be talked about. The fact that he is there (as in anywhere) is enough to garner material to talk about. It wasn’t nothing the Broncos did, it wasn’t nothing the Jets did, it wasn’t nothing Tim Tebow did and it wasn’t nothing the media did. In a weird way its none of those, but all of those pieced together.

Its going to be a wait-and-see type of event to find out how the Patriots will use Tebow. But regardless on if Belichick lets him play, or even lets him speak to media, we all will still have plenty to talk about.

New team, same jokes

Manti Te'o cartoonMedia from San Diego did not waste anytime in welcoming one of their newest players to their professional football team. Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o was drafted in last weekend’s NFL draft to the San Diego Chargers. The controversy surrounding the player has been well played up over the past few months where it was uncovered that he deceived the public to believe that he lost his girlfriend to cancer only to find out that he himself was being deceived the whole time.

When the hoax was made public a couple months ago, people had their fun and fill of imaginary girlfriend jokes and naive college boy pokes. Unfortunately for Manti Te’o, a new team and new career could mean new jokes, or a rehash of the old ones all over again.

On Tuesday, the San Diego Union-Tribute laid out the welcome wagon for Manti Te’o with a cartoon picture depicting the matter of his fake companion in an unfavorable light. The cartoon shows the football player walking alone on the beach with his arm slung out in the air, seemingly around an invisible girlfriend where he utters, “Honey, I think we’re going to love living in San Diego…” This, the latest of many attacks of isolation in regard’s to Te’o.

In January 2013, a sports blog Deadspin posted an article claiming that Te’o’s girlfriend, that died a day after his grandmother, did not exist. Te’o has since admitted that two months after the alleged death, the conspirator admitted to him that he had made the story and the girl up. He, nor the University of Notre Dame knew how to handle it until it all came to light from the Deadspin article.

Since then, Te’o has received an onslaught of criticism, and some support here and there. But there was no lack of social media meme’s that made its way around the internet. There were questions about his social skills, how it would affect his playing career and even questions about his sexuality. This, and poor performances in both, the National Championship game and the NFL Combine, caused his stock to drop in the draft. The Chargers general manager is obviously hoping that his worth on the field will transcend his personal life criticism.

Not for nothin’ but if the jokes are starting already from his own team, what is he going to expect from other teams and fans alike? Not only that, what should we expect when the season starts and he actually starts playing. He’s definitely not going to get a warm welcome from an opposing team. The hoax first reared after the final game of his college career. There was nothing else to talk about when came to Manti Te’o. It’s often said that winning cures all, but if Te’o excels on the will we see the end of these jokes?