Friday, August 29, 2008

Fantasy Football Week: Challenge #3 – Keepers Keepers Keepers


Post III of III


Despite a somewhat flimsy premise, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the unofficial ‘Fantasy Football Week’ I sprung upon the readers of PHSports this past week.

First up was a comparison/contrast – sorta – of four drafted teams (my own, Armin’s Sum’s, and Pay’s) in a league (1 of 2) we participate in yearly.

Second was a look at the first round – all 12 picks – alongside a bit of analysis, review, and critique of decisions made. Just a bit.

The guys even sandwiched talk of a popular fantasy topic of the week: Rudi Johnson.

For my final post in this series, I bounced between targeting potential keepers that were kept from last year’s draft AND those who might be potential keepers for next year.

Fortunately, I live in the present and wanted to focus on the here and NOW!
Luck you…

As a refresher, here are the ‘keeper’ rules in our league.

Keeper Rules to KNOW and LOVE!!!

A) Each team has two keeper allocations; 1 for rounds 4-9 and 1 for rounds 10-16. Keeper allocations CAN be traded. They DO NOT carry over to next season.
B) If you drop a player during the season, you cannot keep him next year (unless due to season-ending injury or a QB-related forced drop.)


Some say I'm the harshest critic out there since this guy...

video


Here are ten names of ‘keepers’ I noticed in this year’s draft.

…remember that due to league rules, the 4th round is the first round a keeper can come into play for next year…

I’ll stick with 5 rounds to make it short and sweeeeet.

4th Round

Darkhorse: Darren McFadden

-Run DMC in part of an interesting platoon currently in Oakland, in the same backfield as a second-year QB (Russell), and as enigmatic an owner as you can imagine. Nevertheless, his talent makes you wonder if a late 1st-round spot isn’t completely out of the question once the ’09 fantasy draft emerges.

Longshot: Reggie Bush
-Of course, this one involves…ME! Bush had a funky second-year after a “quasi-breakout” rookie campaign. Hardly a #1 back (i.e. 25+ carries a week), Bush knows he doesn’t want to be labeled a BUST (standing right next to former USC teammate Matt Leinat) and has too much talent (or is just speed) to not be an impact playmaker week in and week out (I HOPE!!!).

Seriously Reggie, can we try and get that yards per carry average up a little? Reggie? Reggie?
Credit: Sportscrack


5th Round

Darkhorse: Calvin Johnson
-His physical attributes are astounding, Roy Williams was nearly dealt this offseason, and he might be ready to make that 3rd-year vault (even as a fantasy 2nd-rounder) next season.

Longshot: Jonathan Stewart
-Unless he sees a defense likened to the Skins recent pre-season effort most weeks, I really wonder that in a backfield with the still-youthful DeAngelo Williams if Stewart will make an impact this year or next…at least worthy of both selections.


7th Round

Darkhorse: Matt Ryan
-Starting QBs are a luxury – especially in a 2 QB league – and Ryan (despite his team) has a strong pedigree and will play a lot (I think) in ’08. Those are better than average odds considering Vince Young was kept for a 5th rounder this season.

Longshot: Felix Jones
-Julius Jones fans were more than frustrated at the Juice the past two seasons, and believe me it wasn’t due to a lack of touches. While Barber III is the class of the Cowboy backfield, could the rook be potentially an interesting 4th-rounder next year? Me certainly hopes so!


12th Round

Darkhorse: Brady Quinn

-Whether or not the Browns realize their potential, I’m still VERY skeptical about. Whether or not Derek Anderson is the future of this team is another GREAT question I can’t answer just yet. Either way, Quinn is a talented QB prospect and is pretty cheap (even if he doesn’t start a game), at least fantasy-wise, especially considering the keeper possibilities for the next 1-2 seasons.

I'm struggling not to label this guy a tool tool tool. Big time!
Credit: Johnston Photos


Longshot
: Chad Henne
-Could one Chad one day supplant another? Possibly. Nevertheless, depending on any Phins QB in any season these days isn’t the savviest of ideas.


16th Round

Darkhorse: Ladell Betts
-Whether or not he is a Skin at the end of this season is beyond me. Nevertheless, Portis isn’t impenetrable and Betts isn’t too far removed from a 1,000 yard campaign. He burned fantasy owners last season BIG TIME, but he’s much cheaper this time around too.

Longshot: Cadillac Williams
-Injuries have rocked his career. However, Pittman isn’t a factor anymore, Dunn is OLD, and Earnest Graham isn’t exactly a sure thing. He’ll likely get chances and chances and chances from Gruden (especially being a former top 5 pick). This could be a true diamond in the rough. In the end, what is lost with this type of last round selection?


I wonder who's driving this Cadillac?
Credit: Boatnerd


Whether or not any of these 10 players make a significant impact (positive or negative) this season might not tell their true story. In fact, it might be next season that their true analysis can be viewed in clearer sight.

Until next time…

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Discussion Topic: The Value of Rudi Johnson in Fantasy Football

Since its inception nearly two years ago, PHSports has been about improving upon past work. Often times, the contributors – Clement, Armin, Sum and myself – have had entertaining and well-informed discussions that have never reached the eyes of our readers. That sparked an idea. Every so often, we will post the discussions that we have to PHSports for our readers to enjoy, absorb and contribute to the marketplace of ideas.

That said, Sum recently had a draft in which he selected Rudi Johnson in the 9th round of a 12-team league. This led to an exchange of comments between Armin, Sum and me. Clement was too busy teaching the next batch of heathens scholars from Richmond, Virginia.

Armin: I really like the Rudi Johnson pick. Whether he gets traded or stays in Cincy (he’s staying in Cincy), he’s going to have a comeback year.

Pay: I don't know about Rudi. I don't think he'll ever be the 1400-yard back again. I liked him a lot out of Auburn, because he was underappreciated despite being a beast. Even in 2006 when he had 1309 yards and 12 TDs, he only averaged 3.8 ypc and 6 fumbles (only 2 lost). What kills me is that his longest run out of 341 tries was only 22 yards.

Armin: He was hurt all last year, and a power-back is going to be right there around 4ypc. LT spent 2 of his 1200-1300 yard seasons under the 4ypc mark...and I'll be damned if you ever made that statement about him.

Rudi: Fell from 1st-round to second half in fantasy drafts

Credit: Cincinnati.com

Pay: One of those was his rookie year. He had 59 and 53 catches in those seasons. He also had longs of 42 and 54, which comparatively are weak in comparison to his portfolio. I'm aware that Rudi was hurt. Before he started hurting, his stats started dipping. Mind you, these stats started dipping despite having a full complement of skill position players in an offense that commonly uses 3 and 4-WR sets. LT did not have such a luxury, though Gates was awesome in 2004.

Also, outside of fantasy, even when LT isn't running well, he's an excellent pass blocker. Rudi is not and often gets replaced on passing downs. Time to get out of preseason form with the weak comparison.

Armin: You're getting into semantics. It's all about the fantasy performance and the numbers you put up, right?

Sum: I got Rudi in round 9 ... for that slot, I think that's a great grab, even if he "only" gets 1200 on 3.8 ypc ... esp since ypc isn't a fantasy stat. Also, comparing Rudi to LT is like comparing Jeff Garcia to Tom Brady. One is a serviceable player who should do just fine as a bye-week filler, the other is a beast.

Pay: You would like to grab Rudi, wouldn't you?

Armin: I'm just saying it's not a weak argument. All I was trying to say was, 3.8 yards for a powerback isn't hateful if he's serving his purpose. Hell, in Clement's league 24 carries for 54 yards is worth more than 2 for 54 (not seeing the point on breaking long ones, especially when you are comparing them with a goal-line back who gets their TDs). And the BEAST, LT has averaged 3.9 yards in one of his "beast" years and he's not exactly a "power back" (though I know he can play that role when needed)...he's more of a middle ground back who does a little of everything and has the ability to break one.

Yes, LT gets his receiving points....but LT is also a top pick. It shouldn't take a genius to figure out those differences (or that I'm not stupid enough to put Rudi and LT on the same EXACT level).

Back to the original point: "I really like the Rudi Johnson pick." (copied from earlier). If Pay doesn't think that's a good 9th round pick...then that speaks volumes of his weak "preseason-ish" analysis.

Pay: It was a low-risk, high-reward pick. I'd have opted for Selvin Young at the RB position in that round. I'll refrain from pulling the childish "how have your fantasy teams done" card, but all four of us know that my preseason fantasy analysis has been rock solid for at least the last 3 years.

Armin: Pull the card. I won 2 and finished in the championship in 3 of the 4 leagues I was in last year. And then there was Maria's team that won her a championship too. I think that speaks volumes again.

POW!!!

Pay: 2 for 3 in playoff championships. Very strong. Why wasn't it 3 for 3? :)

Armin: Bastej [sic] ....my team didn't show up. But that wouldn't have mattered....I lost it by the first set of games because your team showed up.

Pay: Had your team showed up, it wouldn't have mattered. Dr. Acula was a wrecking crew in the playoffs.

Sum: [Selvin] Young was available, but given Shanahan's record, how long will Young actually play? Given my back and forth with Denver RBs the past season, I wasn't going to risk it.
And Pay, your preseason analysis has been rock solid. Just ask Tom Brady.

Armin: R U Serious?! Ok...agree with you (Pay) there. Would have taken Young over Johnson (which is why I asked if he was even there in the 9th). In fact...I took Young over Johnson in our draft (I think...unless Johnson went before him...but would have taken Young regardless just based on his potential in Denver...hell, any RB’s potential). But, anyway...if Johnson is healed....he's good for at least 1000 and ~10 (with a variance...or is it standard deviation....of 2).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fantasy Football Week: Challenge #2 – Which 1st rounders were ‘steals’ and which were debacles?

Post II of III

As I mentioned in my previous post (focusing on which of THESE four teams you wanted most), this past Saturday, Armin/Sum/Pay/myself (Clement) met up at the world’s greatest unofficial draft headquarters for our yearly fantasy football draft (#1 of 2 actually) for a league we playfully have been a part of named the ‘Frank Stallone League’.

For this II post of III (I dig roman numerals) I’m going to post the 12 first-round picks (in fairness, one was auto-drafted from Yahoo’s top 500 list…can YOU guess which one it was???) from our draft.

I’ll format the rest of this post by offering up one statement that is positive, one that is negative, and the owner-factor.

Don’t fret; you’ll understand it all very shortly.
I hope.

The basics were described in my last post; however, I want to add just a few ‘reminders’ for the lazier readers who either missed the last (brilliant) posting or have short-term memory issues.

A) 12-teams.
B) 16-round ladder draft.
C) Starters include 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, & 1 DEF. 6 reserve sports.

D) Each team has two keeper allocations; 1 for rounds 4-9 and 1 for rounds 10-16. Keeper allocations CAN be traded. They DO NOT carry over to next season.
E) If you drop a player during the season, you cannot keep him next year (unless due to season-ending injury or a QB-related forced drop.)

Enough of that…let’s roll!!!

Whoops, wrong 1st-round draft.
Credit: EMQB


1st Pick – LaDanian Tomlinson

Positive: LT is as safe a fantasy pick as there is out there. Not to mention he is resting all pre-season long and returning on a Super Bowl-contending team. He might even toss a TD or two this season for good measure.
Negative: He is closing in on 30, couldn’t play in an AFC Title game because of an injury, and doesn’t have Michael Turner behind him anymore.
Owner: Wisely, LT was the smart-money pick for this owner. Fortunately, it became easier when she realized A-Pete was already off the board (keeper allocation).


2nd Pick – Tom Brady

Positive: Touchdown Tom was the fantasy MVP last year and remains HIGHLY valuable in a 2-starting QB league. His receiving corps remains loaded (even sans Stallworth) and there’s zero reason to doubt the reigning NFL MVP fantasy-wise.
Negative: He may or may not have foot issues, Moss has been off in recent “odd” years, and it still might’ve been too early to dismiss Manning’s fantasy-dominance over him in any other year than last.
Owner: With Laurence Maroney already in tow (keeper) for a cheap 5th-rounder, the RB position could wait. Especially in a two-starting QB league in which owning one of the three dominant QBs is a luxury one can ill afford to pass up.


3rd Pick – Peyton Manning

Positive: He’s the fantasy QB god of the past 5+ seasons. In fact, he’s one of the few guys who it seems almost impossible to knock drafting in any spot…fantasy-wise at least.
Negative: Romo outdid him last year, Harrison’s injury status is TBD, Peyton’s own knee isn’t 100%, and he did have several 1-TD or less games last year.
Owner: Briefly flaunting the idea of taking Romo, we all knew Peyton was a synch for the third pick. He and Wayne are as dominant as Manning and Harrison once were. In the end, there’s hardly a safer pick than the NFL’s most savvy TV personality.

You can't have one with the other...
Credit: Hogwild


4th Pick – Tony Romo

Positive: It’s been said too many times already, but he OUTSCORED Peyton last season (I’ll say it again too!). Not to mention…he’s young, on an All-Star team, and has two targets (TO & Witten) other QBs would die for.
Negative: He’s still new at the 16-game thing, JESSICA SIMPSON, and his wideout (that’s my quarterback!) isn’t exactly the most dependable of primadonnas.
Owner: In what some claimed was a surprising move, it made complete sense given the importance of landing one of the 3 elite fantasy QBs of last year. Romo outscored Peyton last season (haha!) and has the highest of expectations in Big D to perform each and every week. Jessica Simpson is pretty hot too.


5th Pick – Stephen Jackson

Positive: New contracts sometimes put players at ease, right?
Negative: New contracts sometimes put players at too much ease, right?
Owner: Can’t say I wasn’t just a little surprised when a noted Iggles fan traded up for the pick (right in front of me!) and then took the former holdout (okay, I wanted Westbrook). Coming off of a highly disappointing ’07 campaign, Action Jackson’s got a fatter contract and an offense that’s only get older. Nevertheless, it might be insane value at #5.


6th Pick – Brian Westbrook

Positive: He finally became a double-digit TD guy, led the NFL in all-purpose yardage, and is the #1-weapon on an offense that can light it up (although not weekly).
Negative: His QB is never healthy, he’s a year older, he has a fatter contract too (see above), and this team needs to potentially save him for a playoff stretch drive.
Owner: It’s the consensus top-5 guy a lot of mags are calling an insane sleeper outside of the top 5 overall. In a 1-QB league (amateurs), he’s been a fixture at 2 and 3 on most boards and mocks. Given it’s pick 6, you gotta love a guy who essentially starts as an RB and WR most weeks on fantasy squads.

What I did on my summer vacation...by Marshawn Lynch.
Credit: Automobile Insurance 101


7th Pick – Marshawn Lynch

Positive: Second-year back who the team loves to love, especially in the redzone.
Negative: Off-season stuff should be fine, yet it isn’t enthralling to read about. Traveling to Toronto for home games just seems weird to me. Not to mention that perhaps the Jets acquiring Kris Jenkins means opposing RBs will be limited to 100+ yards and 1 TD instead of the typical 150+ and 2 TDs.
Owner: Selected right before a Bill fan could’ve taken him. I love it!


8th Pick – Frank Gore

Positive: In a word or two: Mike Martz.
Negative: In a word or two: Mike Martz.
Owner: I love the value; however, health and a certain aforementioned offensive coordinator give me the willies. Of course, the thought of a new Marshall Faulk does that too. Of course, JT O’Sullivan or Shaun Hill might have a lot to do with that (happening or not).


9th Pick – Larry Fitzgerald

Positive: Unlike Anquan, somebody has a fat contract!
Negative: Anquan’s ordeal could be bothersome. Not to mention, the QB position is unstable at best in ‘Zona (even with solid production from Warner/Fitz last season). Health isn’t flawless for Fitz either.
Owner: It might seem a headscratcher, but value at QB had dissipated with the Big 3 gone, he has Addai in tow for a measily 3rd rounder (keeper), and Dwayne Bowe is another insane keeper for a 10th rounder. Nevertheless, I kinda question Fitz going in the 1st round with guys like TO, Brees, Wayne, and even Andre Johnson around. Interesting indeed.


10th Pick – Larry Johnson

Positive: Two seasons ago he was the most used back in the NFL and a fantasy god. That does seem sooooo long ago though.
Negative: He burned me in a league last season, never seems to catch passes, and is on a terrible team. What can I go with 60 yards a game and no TDs most weeks? What have I done???
Owner: I have stopped researching and making any sense. I knew I wanted an RB over my next top-rated QB (Brees), I’d tab TO or Wayne next round (taking TO over Reggie), and I began to wonder if I could really take Clinton Portis at #10 overall. In the end, I saw some stacked teams (already) above me and went for the highest risk/reward possible. If only Gore had slipped...


Does A-Pete lose any value with potential injury issues with Bryant "Love Boat" McKinnie?
Credit: ABC


11th Pick – Adrian Peterson [keeper]

Positive: You could make a very sturdy argument for him being #1 overall. Slide him to #11 and you’re the happiest guy at the draft.
Negative: INJURY HISTORY. In fact, with his track record, it’d be a surprise if he played in 16 games (not counting the real playoffs, folks).
Owner: That’s why he was the ultimate 4th round steal last season and why he’ll likely be a major steal as the 11th overall pick this season. Damn.


12th Pick – Clinton Portis

Positive: New offense, carefree attitude, and enhanced performance last season.
Negative: Isn’t every year in DC (5 and counting now) supposed to the major breakout statistical season?
Owner: With the next pick up-coming, it’s strong value, especially when a guy named Brees is just sitting there waiting to be gobbled up, to take a talented RB in the latest of stages in round 1.

So which two names are missing???

While I think a few might stand out – especially in a 12-team league – it has to be noted that because of the aforementioned keeper allocation rules RANDY MOSS & JOSEPH ADDAI were taken in later rounds. Another interesting caveat to consider in such an amazingly competitive league.

I’ll see you sometime this weekend with part III, focusing mainly on keeper decisions made during the draft (whether the owners knew it or not!).

Until next post…

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fantasy Football Week: Challenge #1: Which team do you want?


Post I of III


This past Saturday, Armin/Sum/Pay/myself (Clement) met up at the world’s greatest unofficial draft headquarters for our yearly fantasy football draft (#1 of 2 actually) for a league we playfully have been a part of named the ‘Frank Stallone League’.

Let the hilarity ensue.

I will detail a few league rules in a few sentences; however, I’m going to first format the series of three posts you’ll see this week.


I'm sure A-Pete didn't go 11th overall in your draft, but due to keeper allocation rights...he did in ours!
Credit: Yahoo! Sports


Challenge #1: Which team do you want?
-I’ll post our collective rosters for our four squads. Simply put, which one do you want most? Why???

Challenge #2: Which 1st Rounders were steals and which were debacles?
-I’ll post our entire first round, 12 picks in all, and I promise…you won’t see it coming.

Challenge #3: Who would you have kept?
-Keeper leagues aren’t the norm; however, I want to challenge a few of our readers to see just who you would and would not have reached on when keeper allocations are potentially on the line?

Now here are some league rules. We have tried our best to make this the most challenging of fantasy leagues out there.

Basics
A) 12-teams.
B) 16-round ladder draft.
C) Starters include 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, & 1 DEF. 6 reserve sports.

Draft
D) Max of 2 min/pick for the first 6 rounds and Max of 1 min/pick for the last 10.

Free Agents/Waivers
E) Teams will be locked 5 minutes before kickoff of the first game until the kickoff of the Monday night game in terms of free agents. If the commish or a designate fails to lock the teams, the honor system is in effect.
F) Free agent draft: If you wish to pick up a player in the free agent draft, send me an e-mail indicating who you wish to add and drop in order of priority by 10am on Tuesday. Free agents will go to teams with the highest waiver priority (determined by worst record).

Keepers
G) Each team has two keeper allocations; 1 for rounds 4-9 and 1 for rounds 10-16. Keeper allocations CAN be traded. They DO NOT carry over to next season.
H) If you drop a player during the season, you cannot keep him next year (unless due to season-ending injury or a QB-related forced drop.)


2-Starting QB Rules

I) If a backup becomes a starter and you have 4 starting QBs, you must drop/trade one w/i 24 hours.
J) You will maintain keeper rights to the QB in the case of a forced drop.
K) If you have 3 starters on your roster, you may NOT pick up a 4th starter with the intention of working a trade. Picking up a starting QB when you already have 3 can only be done if you are dropping one of your 3 current starters.


Draft Lottery Bonuses

L) Each owner will predict the Conference Champions, Super Bowl Champions, League MVP and the tie-breaker. The winner will get an extra entry for the #1 pick overall.
M) The winner of the regular season championship will receive an extra entry for the #1 pick overall.

After viewing my draft, I think Wall-E might've been a savvier fantasy football GM.
Credit: Rotten Tomatoes


Note: If you see the word [keeper’ next to a player’s name, that particular draftee was automatically kept on their team by their owner (check above for rules for keepers) by using either their own keeper allocation or trading for someone else’s.

Without any further banter…let’s take a look at the teams.

Team #1: Armin [3rd pick overall]

Who else would you take if names like LT, AP, and Brady were off the board?
Credit: Seven Again

1- Peyton Manning
2- Marques Colston
3- Eli Manning
4- Steve Smith [Carolina]
5- Jonathan Stewart
6- Selvin Young
7- Trent Edwards
8- Patrick Crayton
9- Michael Turner [keeper]
10- Vernon Davis
11- Jerious Norwood
12- Anthony Gonzalez
13- Timothy Hightower
14- Seattle DEF
15- Josh Scobee
16- Laurent Robinson


Team #2: Sum [5th pick overall]

Can YOU name this 6'7 wideout rookie?
Credit: Eastwood Mailman


1- Clinton Portis (traded 5th pick to Pay in deal)
2- Drew Brees
3- TJ Houshmanzadeh
4- Darren McFadden
5- Anquan Boldin
6- Jason Campbell
7- Ronnie Brown
8- Donte Stallworth
9- Chicago DEF
10- Jay Cutler [keeper]
11- Vincent Jackson
12- Chad Henne
13- Tony Scheffler
14- James Hardy
15- Indianapolis DEF
16- Rob Bironas


Team #3: Clement [10th pick overall]

Anybody else peg him as a potential 3rd-rounder last month?
Credit: Yahoo! Sports


1- Larry Johnson
2- Terrell Owens
3- Brett Favre
4- Reggie Bush
5- Vince Young [keeper]
6- Kellen Winslow Jr. [keeper]
7- Felix Jones
8- Laveraneus Coles
9- Kevin Smith
10- Minnesota DEF
11- Joe Flacco
12- Ted Ginn, Jr.
13- Chris Brown
14- Jabbar Gaffney
15- Sage Rosenfels
16- Ladell Betts


Team #4: Paymon [12th pick overall]

How much would you risk for a guy who automatically misses 2 or 3 games?
Credit: Yahoo! Sports


1- Stephen Jackson (traded for #5 pick overall in a trade)
2- Carson Palmer
3- Torry Holt
4- Willis McGahee
5- Jason Witten [keeper]
6- Marvin Harrison
7- Chad Pennington
8- Brandon Marshall [keeper]
9- Kyle Orton
10- Ricky Williams
11- Pittsburgh DEF
12- Brady Quinn
13- Ray Rice
14- Kevin Walter
15- Drew Bennett
16- Josh Brown

A lot to take in? Imagine our trepidation…

ESPECIALLY MINE!?!?!

Until next challenge…

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Tuesday" FauxCast: Pre-Season Edition

Sitting at my day-job cubicle, I scroll through sports related sites fairly regularly (it helps get my mind off of the horrid stench emanated by the woman who sits to my right). Aside from the Olympics fiasco (I wonder if the judges were threatened with human rights abuses?), my focus has been primarily on the stories coming out of the NFL Pre-Season. Thus, I figured, why not get into pre-season form myself and bring back the FourCast a couple weeks early? (And since everyone is missing a step in the pre-season, I decided to be a day off). Let’s take a look at what’s been hitting the No Fun League over the past few days (and hopefully protect me from Stinky McGee for a few more minutes).


1. Tony Dungy changes his last name to “Belichick”

Okay, so he really didn’t change last names, but given the Belichick-esque routine with regard to Peyton Manning’s condition, he should get an award. So often Dungy gets praise from the “media” and fans for being a class act, while Belichick has his name dragged through the mud (even before spygate). Dungy himself has even seemingly accepted the pedestal on which he’s been placed, chastising the Pats Head Coach for his questionable methods. However, throughout last season, Dungy never once properly addressed the injury to Marvin Harrison, letting opposing teams (not to mention countless fantasy owners) prepare for no reason. Wait … doesn’t everyone (legitimately) give crap to Belichick for doing that with regard to Tom Brady’s “shoulder injury”?

This pre-season, Dungy seems to be acting coy with regard to Peyton’s knee and its, now missing, bursa sac. Could Peyton’s knee brace be this year’s version of Brady’s boot?


2. You’re doin a heckuva job there, Brownie

Ronnie Brown began the pre-season as the top running back for the Miami Dolphins. Sure, everyone assumed he’d be splitting the carries with Ricky Williams, but we also figured he’d get most of the touches. Now we know (thanks to the folks at ProFootballTalk.com) that Brown is listed as the #2 back on the ‘Fins depth chart. The #2 overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft came out of Auburn with lots of hype. Unfortunately, his injury plagued career has only seen him get 1,000 yards rushing once and has yet to see him play all 16 games. Maybe he just likes being #2?


3. Depth at Wide-Receiver is for pansies

While Peyton limps around (or “limps” around, we don’t know … friggin Dungy), the “other Manning” continues to show us that he really doesn’t need much in the way of teammates. A season after winning the Super Bowl without the help of the talented (but loud-mouthed) Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, Eli is showing us he really doesn’t need depth or talent at the wide-receiver position (Note: Somewhere Donovan McNabb is taking notes). On Monday night, Eli shredded the Browns secondary for 2 touchdowns to Domenick Hixon, in all completing 4 of 7 passes to only Hixon and Sinorice Moss. Those stats, of course, do not include a 53-yard pass interference gain on a pass to Moss that set up the first TD to Hixon.

All-in-all, the G-men only needed to complete passes to five different receivers, none of whom were named Plaxico, Amani, Mario or Steve Smith.


4. The Truth?!? Al Davis can’t handle the truth!

Al Davis has forever been the scorn of head coaches. He bring them in, has them do his bidding without complaint and then disposes of them. Kinda sounds like Dick Cheney and his hunting pals. Well, maybe the Vice-President should think twice before inviting Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin out to hunt geese. Kiffin, long rumored to be a lame-duck coach this year, has forgotten all about the “thou shalt not bemoan Al Davis” motto of the Oakland Raiders (yeah, the “Commitment to Excellence” line is just a farce). In comments to reporters earlier this week, good ole’ Lane whined about the lack of depth on his team and further bitched about the management’s lack of play in the waiver/free agent market this pre-season.

Is Kiffin just trying to pass the buck so as to not scare away potential future employers? Probably. But hey, I give the kid (yes, “kid”) credit for having the testicular fortitude to give the finger to Davis . If Brett does run for president, Kiffin can be his renegade/maverick veep choice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Dime a Dozen: Olympic Reactions [I of II]

I’ve decided to finally put down my XBOX360 controller (Madden 09 = sub par) and start transitioning back into “normal” mode (in case you didn’t know, I teach 8th grade social studies)…with a little help from the Summer Olympics: Beijing Edition.

Rather than just briefly highlight a few moments…

Wait, that sounds perfect! That is EXACTLY what I’m going to do.

Even worse, I’m gonna log it in for a week…journal style!!!
Seriously, I don’t watch Gossip Girl. I promise.

Here’s the first of a two-part series – stretched out over two weeks – of Olympic reactions.
One moment from each day. Just for you!
Pass it along!

Day One: Friday, August 8th
…Opening Ceremonies…

Now this is MY type of OC!
Credit: Wordpress


As majestic as anything I’ve ever seen on television. After the debacle with “executive producer” Spielberg stepping down (see: Darfur), China got the ceremonies right in every sense of the word. Perhaps my favorite part of any Olympics is the marching of the 200+ nations into the Olympic Stadium (for this year, the aptly titled ‘Bird’s Nest’). I still remember as a younger version of myself – aka adolescent – looking through the national geographic atlas with my grandfather and learning of countries like Eritrea, Maldives, Andorra, and Seychelles. Fantastic opening to what I predict to be a fantastic two-plus weeks.


Day Two: Saturday, August 9th

…Sans-Costas…

I didn’t mind the Costas/Lauer duo last night; however, I much prefer Jim Lampley in the midnight-desk (remember, China is 12 hours AHEAD of the US East Coast) to the Jordan-loving Costas who gets primetime (live) duty. As for today’s action, the US women’s basketball team is the safest lock in Bejing to capture gold. Even over Phelps medaling in half of his swims.


Day Three: Sunday, August 10th

…Bros over Hos…

So many choices today – especially between the Redeem Team, gymnastics kicking off, and a duo known as May/Walsh – on the boob tube. Sorry ladies, but the boobs are part of allure of Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh. Chauvinism aside, the two are really watched because they’re the best the world has to offer in its sport (one that’s quick and easy to watch and score yourself). Sign me up either way.


In a word...HOT!
Credit: USA Volleyball


Day Four: Monday, August 11
th

…EXHAUSTED…

Seriously, I’m exhausted after sneaking a peak – while dinning on all-you-can-eat crabs – at water polo (while on vacation in Virginia Beach). I’m going to go ahead and “amend” a quote from a favorite movie of mine (Dogma). Loki: “Mass genocide is the most exhausting activity one can engage in, outside of soccer.” After today’s viewing, water polo might get my vote over soccer as most exhausting endeavor EVER! Seriously.


Day Five: Tuesday, August 12
th

…Commentary…

Surprised I really haven’t reflected upon Phelps, the men’s 100 meter trio, or the Redeem Team? Get over it. Honestly, I don’t know what I enjoy more: the fantastic performances inside the pool or the commentary of Dan Hicks & Rowdy Gaines. They’re both seasoned in the sport and let me know EXACTLY what I need to about each race. Some “critics” have called them out for going overboard or showing favoritism. Shut up. Honestly, I can’t stand the commentary value in most American sports. (Last time I checked, NBC targeted a pro-US Olympic push too.) John Madden hasn’t been sane since Brett Favre came to Lambeau, Mark Jackson is putrid on ABC (Momma! I’m gonna dunk this one for you momma!), and Gus Johnson finds way too much excitement and intrigue in a grasshopper leaping over the sidewalk. Props to these two commentators for putting me in the moment time and time again and making me feel like I’m there (in the pool!).


Day Six: Wednesday, August 13th

…Cue the music…

In case you didn’t know, there are two types of gymnastics in the Olympics. One is extremely popular and has delivered three all-around golds in two Olympics for the US (Johnson, Petterson, and Hamm). The other is rhythmic gymnastics. Want to know what that is?

Take a look below and get ready to laugh!

video


Day Seven: Thursday, August 14
th

…See what happened was…

If nobody else is willing to do it, I’m going to go Dr. Cox and call Olympic boxing DEAD right here and right now. I’ll then put my hands over my head and wonder how it came to this. Now where is that Dr. Reid…


Day Eight: Friday, August 15
th

…CHEATERS…

I’ve stayed up a lot later than I expected in order to watch these Olympics (especially LIVE)…and it’s been highly worth it. Costas better apologize at some point for this! By the way, I can’t say enough how much I love Bella Karolyi and his instinct ability to say exactly what’s on his mind. Don’t let the NBC polo fool you, he loves America (remember him carrying around Kerri Strug in ’96?) and he and his wife (women’s coach) are going to fight every battle the “too-safe” media won’t touch. Mark it down: the Chinese will forfeit those team gold medals in the next dozen-or-so years because they have TWO, not one, girls under the age of 16. Am I bitter? Of course not. But I know an 8th grader when I see one. I teach the idiots.

If she's 16 or older...I'll eat my shoe!
Credit: Newsday


Day Nine: Saturday, August 16
th

...Redeem or Dream…

Wanna know a secret? The Redeem Team is L-O-A-D-E-D. Dismantling Spain should not be taken lightly as they’ll likely double-up Germany (Kaman has had zero impact besides trivial rebounds for them) and then face off with pesky Australia (I think) in 4+ days. While Kobe’s outside shot is flaky, terrible hand-checking inconsistency from the refs might plague might lead to a dozen or so extra foul calls, and Carmelo needs to lose 10 pounds PRONTO…this team is winning the gold. Every game by double digits too. Was that a fragment? Oh well. Honestly, the only thing I would change from this lineup is subbing out Boozer for a healthy Amare Stoudemire. Other than that, even I will prop up Coach K on fine work thus far.


Day Ten: Sunday, August 17th

...Kill Me NOW…

Olympic rowing is by far the most boring event in the Olympics. Oh wait, I just walked into some sort of indoor cycling on a track. With spaceage helmets, no less. Frankly they look WAY too much like the “skull” from the abomination that was the new Indiana Jones movie (ugh!). Nevermind, this is clearly the Olympics most boring sport.

In case you haven't seen it...their movie SUCKED.
Credit: Costumzee

Day Eleven: Monday, August 18th
…TIES SUCK…

Tape-delay RUINS everything; but I blame every major media outlet for never even considering labeling spoilers (shame!) rather than 12-hour delayed NBC. Tonight’s women’s uneven bars debacle doesn’t help my bitterness. Although my interest in the event only further proves real men dig women’s gymnastics. What I don’t dig is the tie-breaking system. Oh wait, you already knew that! In the end, nobody got “screwed” because the system is clear and the top performers each made mistakes. Of course, the Australian judge can suck it for whatever he was smoking before Liukin’s peformance. Nevertheless, the IOC needs to make one thing clear: allow ties or don’t allow ties. FOR ALL SPORTS. Simple. Don’t subjugate it by sport and don’t limit it to certain “circumstances”. Both of those girls, Liukin & He, deserved the gold (despite whatever the trivial scoring system says).

And why didn’t I mention Michael Phelps even once?
Because everyone else did! Duh.

And I’m not crying for anyone “overshadowed” by his dominance.
If they earned their medals, they can enjoy those FOREVER.
Unless Bjorn Borg is their accountant.

…Five More Quick Thoughts…

-Mr. Bolt: run out the last 20 meters and put up a 9.59 number. Then gloat. We want the lowest number possible. Why? Even that mark will be broken in four to five years.
-Angelo Taylor goes eight years between gold medals in the men’s 400 meter hurdle? I love it!
-Phelps goes 8 for 8. No surprise. One word. Superhuman.
-Liukin and Johnson go 1-2 in overall girl’s gymnastics? Boo ya China!
-James Blake. Great job calling out someone who cheated. We’ve all called a ball or two out that was clearly in; however, an Olympic medal was never on the line. You know if a tennis ball hit your racket. Don’t be that guy and spit in the face of a game’s tradition and legacy by claiming ignorance.

Any other pro-American sentiments left? Probably not.
Fear not fans...I’ll return next week (gulp) after I embark into a week of faculty meetings.
Wish me luck!

Until next time...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

PHSports College Football Top 10: Pre-Season Edition

Mid-way through last college football season, Pay was nice enough - or busy enough - to allow me to take over his top 10 college football weekly rankings.

I apologize sincerely for what followed...


The only idea (in HISTORY!) worse than me taking over these rankings...
Credit: Cinemotions

While I might’ve butchered them a bit too often…I’ll try my best to steer the ship a little straighter this season.

Sadly, the only thing more ridiculous than the media or coaches ranking the top teams in a pre-season poll...is me doing it. Fortunately that hasn’t stopped me before and it won’t now!

BEHOLD! My pre-season top 10!!!

Clement's back doing college football rankings? That's hot!

video


..starting at the bottom (or is it the top?)...

10. Clemson Tigers

-I’ll never believe in a Clemson collegiate team, particularly their football or basketball teams. Nevertheless, they're going to earn the last spot in my top 10. Why? Even though I have SERIOUS questions about the ACC – especially that team in Blacksburg – the Tigers do appear to be the cream of the ACC crop. Despite opening up with a tricky home game against Alabama, the Tigers are likely to storm through September and remain on this list for quite some time.

9. LSU Tigers

-I’m not sold that without Ryan Perilloux the Bayou Bengals will be any worse off than they are now. In fact - with complete confidence in Les Miles and their incredible depth on both sides of the ball - the defending BCS champs have to be considered prohibitive favorites out of a loaded SEC West.

8. Texas Tech Red Raiders

-Their schedule is underrated (trips to A&M, Kansas, and Oklahoma are nightmarish); however, Graham Harrell is a dynamic QB and Michael Crabtree is everything the pundits wished Calvin Johnson would be. Yeah, how’s that for a statement? The out-of-conference lineup is a absolute joke though.


I can't remember the last time I enjoyed WR-related hype like this before.
Oh yeah...
Credit: SI.com

7. Oklahoma Sooners

-Impact playmakers return all over the offense and defense. Meanwhile, we already know Bob Stoops is the best at winning Big XII championships. Problem is: they’ve stunk up the joint in recent bowl history and I might be willing to give a different Big XII team a slight nod over them this year (more below). Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Tech have officially caught up with the Sooners and Longhorns in the top tier of the Big XII.

6. Florida Gators

-Much like Hansbrough @ UNC, Tebow will try to repeat as the nation’s top trophy collector in his sport (sub Heisman for Wooden/Naismith) while attempting to prop his team on his shoulders squarely into the national title picture. While it won’t be easy in a ridiculously jam-packed SEC, Tebow is likely to tee off against Tennessee (is that rivalry completely faded yet?) and start a strong early-season campaign for another unfathomable 30/25 performance. Yes, Tebow went for 32 passing TDs and 25 rushing TDs last season. Man...

5. West Virginia Mountaineers

-Some places have been selling the Mountaineers short; however, realizing the downright awesome potential of HB Noel Devine (especially with Slaton gone) will be a lot of fun for fans in Morgantown. Head coach Bill Stewart clearly has this team behind him and REMEMBER that the Big East is still a BCS conference. While even one loss could derail any title hopes for WVU, why can’t this team steamroll through their conference and follow sensational senior-QB Pat White (who likely won’t see a snap at the position in the NFL) to BCS glory? I suppose an interesting October date hosting Auburn might answer that question earlier than expected.


If Pay gets Blake Griffin...I'm taking Devine!
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

-Does this mean I’m assuming they’ll lose in LA to USC? Yes, it does. However, I’m also assuming a likely 11-1 season for Jim Tressel's squad that should be more than enough to plant them directly in their third straight BCS title game. Don't forget that Chris "Beanie" Wells just might return the Heisman to the RB-position and the Buckeyes (hello Eddie George!). Meanwhile, Malcolm Jenkins (yes, Armin is right about this) has #1-overall pick talent (not just potential) in the 2009 NFL Draft talent (even at the corner position).

Can somebody get Brutus an HGH test?
Credit: MySpace

3. Missouri Tigers

-Chase Daniel is a bonafide winner and their playmakers are borderling sick-nasty. While there will be obstacles throughout their Big XII schedule, I am – for now – crowning the Tigers the paper Big XII champs. Look out for primetime fireworks against Juice Williams and the Illini in primetime at the end of August.

2. USC Trojans

-Their early-season showdown against Ohio State should be fantastic (hopefully Texas/OSU in ’05 worthy). While Mark Sanchez isn’t John David Booty (especially with a potentially serious injury), USC stockpiles talent on both sides of the ball worthy to the U's programs of Johnson and Davis. While I wont put them at #1, I will if they dismantle the Buckeyes (in the Rose Bowl...before the Rose Bowl).

1. Georgia Bulldogs

Yes, perhaps I’ve drank the Kool-Aid as well.
Here are a few points to my selection...

A) I don’t want to project my “pre-season top 10” with only Georgia being penalized for being in the SEC (East, no less).

B) Knowshon Moreno, in my humble opinion, is the most talented back in college football since a healthy Adrian Peterson (yes, even over Chris "Beanie" Wells).

C) Stafford will be a legit NFL quarterback. Mark it down.

D) Mark Richt is the perfect coach to lead this Georgia squad – even if they happen to suffer a loss or two (remember, LSU finished 11-2 as BCS champs) – to its first title in FOREVER.

E) I won’t penalize them for demolishing Hawaii in last year’s Sugar Bowl. Not a chance.

F) In the end, Georgia has a TON of talent, no fear of its SEC competition (easily the most TALENTED conference in the entire country), and tremendous talent on both interrior lines.

Enough said…for now.

Hope you enjoyed the first ride. The line for the next one might be a bit longer. SMILE!!!

No, he wasn't another Penn State player arrested.
This
is what mugshots were made for!!!
Credit: Smoking Gun


Until next time…

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2009 NFL Pre-Season Mock Draft

A mock draft so early? While I do look at this as a true attempt at a mock draft, it is also somewhat of a preview into some of the top players to watch in college this season. A few things needed to be taken into consideration when I did this mock. First, we don't know how the NFL season will pan out. Therefore, choosing a draft order was a bit of an adventure. First, I chose the handful of teams that I knew would finish at the bottom of the league. Then I picked my playoff teams. Everything else in the middle was a wild guess. Second, picking the playoff teams proved tricky, as I was tempted to pick similar teams to last year's playoffs. Instead, I decided to throw a few eyebrow-raisers for the sake of keeping it interesting. Note that while there are a couple of sophomores in this draft, they are redshirts and eligible for the 2009 draft. This in no way means that they will enter the draft. However, for the sake of keeping things interesting, I included them as well. Here's how it looks, and I'm looking forward to your comments.


Michael Crabtree (Photo Courtesy of DayLife)


1. Atlanta: Michael Crabtree, WR - Texas Tech
The Falcons need help in two places, WR & CB. The bigger need is at CB, and I don't see Jenkins going first. So the Falcons nab a redshirt sophomore who will prove that he's the real deal this season.


2. Miami: George Selvie, LB/DE - South Florida
The junior LB/DE reminds me somewhat of DeMarcus Ware, a former Parcells pick. He…oops…Ireland should have no problems making Selvie the pick. Selvie's 31.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks put him at the Derrick Thomas/Tedy Bruschi level in college.


3. Kansas City: Malcolm Jenkins, CB - Ohio State
Corners don't go #1, but Jenkins has that kind of talent. He should step in across Brandon Flowers during the KC youth movement. Arguably the best CB prospect coming out of college since Shawn Springs.


4. Oakland: Andre Smith, OT - Alabama
Smith is as athletic as they come at LT, and that seems to be popular in the draft these days. His arrival will move Kwame Harris back over to the RT position.


5. Baltimore: Tyson Jackson, DE - Louisiana State
He's a Trevor Pryce clone at DE in the 3-4. Jackson is versatile enough as a 3-4 end to get after the passer when called on.


6. St. Louis: Michael Oher, OT - Mississippi
This draft is top-heavy with offensive tackles, and teams are needy for them. Look for Oher to go to the Rams and make Orlando Pace expendable


7. Cincinnati: Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB - Ohio State
He goes about 230 and has no problem running up the middle. His speed is deceptive, until you see DBs attempting to chase him down the field. He also receives good grades on his field vision and his pass blocking. Don't be surprised if a RB-needy team trades up to the top 5 for him.


8. Green Bay: Vontae Davis, CB - Illinois
Green Bay could look to a DE that is rising up the charts, however they go for a CB. Davis is the 2009 version of Leodis McKelvin. He's a physical corner who fits the Green Bay defense.


9. Philadelphia (from Carolina): Brian Cushing, LB - Southern Cal
The Eagles are in desparate need of help at the OLB position. Cushing would be a mainstay on that defense. His length and athleticism are unmatched at the LB position in this draft.


10. Denver: Jim Laurinaitis, LB - Ohio State
The Broncos could look at a safety, but they can't pass on Laurinaitis if he's there. Laurinaitis could be the captain of that defense as a rookie.


11. Detroit: Greg Hardy, DE - Mississippi
The Lions are weakest at DE. If they don't address the situation in free agency, we could see a DE going at their pick.


12. Washington: Rey Maualuga, LB - Southern Cal
While London Fletcher-Baker is the heart of the Washington Defense, he's also going to be 34 on draft day in 2009. Maualuga brings the same heart to the game, and could learn a lot from Fletcher-Baker.


13. Tennessee: Percy Harvin, WR - Florida
The Titans should not settle for the WR corps they have, and should not pass up an opportunity like having Harvin fall into their laps. Harvin will force Tim Tebow to take 2nd billing on the Gators offense.


14. Houston: Knowshon Moreno, RB - Georgia
Moreno has the talent to end up in a neck-and-neck battle with Wells over who is the top back in the draft. Moreno has a lot more to prove however.


15. New York Jets: Matt Stafford, QB - Georgia
The strong-armed QB from the preseason favorite to win the National Championship is the first QB off the board. If Stafford displays better accuracy than last season, he could be looking at the top 5 picks in the draft. This pick is also based on the fact that the Jets seem to have lost faith in Clemens and Favre is only a band-aid for a year or two.


16. Seattle: Eugene Monroe, OT - Virginia
When did Virginia become a left tackle factory? Monroe could push Walter Jones out early. Monroe is a carbon copy of D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They play the same athletic style. He can cover a QB's blind side as well as anyone in this draft.


17. Tampa Bay: Ciron Black, OT - Louisiana State
The Bucs can't survive forever with Luke Petitgout at the left tackle spot. Black should come in and start on day one.


18. Arizona: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR - Maryland
Another freakishly athletic Maryland product (Shawne Merriman & Vernon Davis). It's very rare that a WR can be over 6 feet and weigh over 200 pounds, and have the ability to create space, all while possessing the type of speed that makes them a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it. The Fitz situation might make this pick a necessity.


19. Chicago: Taylor Mays, S - Southern Cal
Mike Brown has had too many major injuries and Daniael Manning hasn't quite turned into the player that the Bears wanted him to be. So they go after the top talent at safety in the draft. Mays is the closest thing to Sean Taylor that there is out there. He has size, speed and has no problem helping against the run. His coverage ability isn't as polished as Taylor's was coming out of Miami, but his potential should keep him high on most charts.


20. Pittsburgh: Victor "Macho" Harris, CB - Virginia Tech
"Macho" brings two important things to the table. He's a ball-hawking cornerback with a bit of an attitude (which you want in a corner), and he's an effective return man. Harris could live up to the expectations that Coulclough couldn't.


21. San Francisco: Michael Johnson, LB/DE - Georgia Tech
Johnson is the perfect fit as an outside backer in the 3-4 defense. He's a speed rusher who makes himself at home in opposing backfields. His pass rush skills are probably second only to Selvie in this draft. If he could add another 10-15 pounds while keeping his speed and agility intact, he would be a prototypical 3-4 OLB.


22. Minnesota: Alex Boone, OT - Ohio State
Bryant McKinnie has basically worn out his welcome, and the team needs to figure out a replacement. Boone is no consolation. As mentioned earlier, this draft is full of top prospects at the OT position. Boone has the size and strength to move the line, and the ability to keep bull rushers off his QB.


23. Cleveland: Mike Mickens, CB - Cincinnati
The Browns didn't play their cards well, and are going into the 2008 season with an extremely thin corps of CBs. They must address this position next offseason with at least a top flight free agent and a top draftee.


24. Philadelphia: Myron Rolle, S - Florida State
Dawkins is up there in years, and Quinton Mickell doesn't have much upside. Rolle has great pedigree and can fill in at either safety spot.


25. Buffalo: Brandon Pettigrew, TE - Oklahoma State
There is debate whether Pettigrew or Shawn Nelson is the top TE in this class. There are some scouts out there that think Pettigrew is another Jeremy Shockey.


26. Jacksonville: Fili Maola, DT - Southern Cal
Henderson and Meier will be in their 30s, and the team will need a DT to bring in as the 3rd man in the rotation to eventually groom as a starter. Maola is the top DT prospect on the board and would fit in nicely on the Jags


27. New Orleans: Duke Robinson, OG - Oklahoma
Robinson is a road grader who keeps defenders out of the backfield. He can probably even play some right tackle if needed. He could move right into Nesbit's left guard spot and spend a decade dominating there. Don't rule out a DT here.


28. Indianapolis: Sen'Derrick Marks, DT - Auburn
Marks fits the Colts defense like a glove. He's the size of a DT, but is really a tweener DT/DE. He can get after the QB by collapsing the pocket from the inside.


29. New York Giants: Brandon Spikes, LB - Florida
Spikes can play inside or outside in Spagnola's defense. This is a steal of a pick, however because of Laurinaitis, Maualuga and Cushing, Spikes will be available later than his true value.


30. San Diego: Phil Loadholt, OT - Oklahoma
Loadholt blocks out the sun, and is not shy about throwing his weight around. He will probably settle in at right tackle in San Diego where Olivea's drug addiction forced him out, and Clary isn't quite the answer.


31. New England: D.J. Moore, CB - Vanderbilt
Not only can he help out the Pats with depth at the CB position, he can also return kicks.


32. Dallas: Brandon Gibson, WR - Washington State
Gibson would make a good compliment to T.O., but the difference is he's an Academic All-American. On that merit alone, many can expect him to handle himself with much more self-respect on and off the field.