The Return of the NFL Refs: How a win for the referees = a win for the NFL’s $25 Billion Dollar Empire

After the Hail Mary debacle on Monday Night between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers the five month stalemate between the NFL and Referee’s Association was resolved in time for the Thursday Night game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, who had lost nine straight to the opposition.

The NFL referees returned to a standing ovation from NFL fans and hugs and slaps on the back from the Baltimore Raven and Cleveland Brown players. Many will believe that NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell conceded due to player safety, threats of boycotts by players, pressure from picketing fans or the urging of our Commander-in-Chief,President Barack Obama.

This could not be further from the truth, the real reason the commissioner and his billionaire pals decided to finally give in was because it was a great business decision. Lets first be clear that with either referee officiating the games that the NFL was never at a threat of losing a cent of the $25 Billion Dollars that it collects annually. As with any top Fortune 500 company how one is viewed matters very little especially since companies such as the NFL are only fueled and driven by opportunities to increase capital gain.

The miscues from the Monday Night Football game sparked a media storm that the NFL only received on Super Bowl Sundays.  Everyone from the avid fan to my nine-year old niece who does not even know what a touchdown is had an opinion regarding the referee’s blown call in Seattle. Every local new network around the country spewed their discontent with the replacement referees from Al Roker, the weather man on NBC’s Today Show to Bill O’Reilly on Fox New’s No Spin Zone. Others may mistakenly view such attention negatively but the NFL seized on this opportunity of being in the headlines and saw it as an opportunity to increase viewership and ultimately regain the $30 million dollars that they had agreed to in their negotiation with the NFL Referee’s Association.

In business one never passes on an opportunity to increase profits and the NFL is no different. Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young did not need his law degree from BYU to see that everything comes secondary to the opportunity to make few more million here or there. The game on Thursday Night posted record numbers nearly doubling what was initially projected with a total of 8 million viewers.

Tomorrow after you loosen your tie, take off your suit jacket or exchange your church blouse for a jersey consider how many more people will be tuning into the game, not out of interest but merely curiosity to see the return of the NFL referees. These new viewers are the true reason the NFL finally conceded.  More viewers means new fans which of course causes higher ratings that ultimately results in more money.

While most who watch do so for the joy and love of the game NFL owner watch it for different reasons but since it takes $107 million to run a NFL franchise each year can you really blame them? As you waive your terrible towels or put on your favorite NFL team jerseys stay tuned to the madness that is the NFL…I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)



Assessing the NBA Landscape: Title Contenders Prepare to Dethrone the Heat #nbaseason2013

It feels like only yesterday that the Miami Heat were crowned NBA Champions but the 2012-13 season is now on the horizon. This off-season many teams made costly make-overs in an effort to improve their chances of dethroning the World Champion Miami Heat.

After a dismal postseason performance the Los Angeles Lakers entered into the off-season with a lot of questions. The Lakers front office swore up and down that they were going to stand pat and would not make any major off-season moves. The Lakers clearly had other plans and made waves when they signed two-time League MVP Steve Nash and also solved their concern at center by trading for three-time defensive MVP Dwight Howard.

These two off-season moves have brought excitement back to Laker-nation with many envisioning another NBA Championship banner being hoisted in the rafters at season’s end. However, the fate of the Los Angeles Lakers will largely be determined by the knees of Kobe Bryant and how quickly his new running mates assimilate into the Laker way. Obtaining Dwight Howard and Steve Nash were costly acquisitions that will place the Lakers well above the salary cap which result in huge penalties that will only be softened by a NBA Championship.

The Oklahoma City Thunder stayed pat with the hope that their core of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Serge Ibaka would improve with another off-season of experience. Each of their star players gained invaluable experience playing in this summer’s Olympics in London. The Thunder will also welcome back PG Eric Maynor who will provide an additional spark of the bench and also give Russell Westbrook a much-needed breather in the second half. The chemistry of the Thunder is unquestioned but may be threatened as long as the future of reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden remains uncertain. After making it to the NBA Finals last year the Thunder appear poised to take the next step and challenge the Miami Heat for the NBA Title.

In the Eastern Conference the Boston Celtics made so much-needed additions by acquiring Jason Terry and resigning Jeff Green which they hope will soften the blow of losing Ray Allen to their rival the Miami Heat. The Celtics also added length and depth to their front court in the NBA Draft in center Fab Melo and power forward Jared Sullinger who fell in the draft due to health concerns. Kevin Garnett’s move to center has brought a spring to his step and hopes to the fans in Boston that there is hope for one last championship run before retirement.

Not to be outdone the Miami Heat improve their chances of repeating as NBA Champions by adding shooting guard Ray Allen and his former teammate small forward Rashard Lewis. The Heat front office were able to add each of these pieces at a bargain price that did not put them over the salary cap. Although the Heat will remain considerably thin in the front-line the versatility of reigning MVP Lebron James and recently turned center Chris Bosh will continue to be a match up nightmare for the opposing teams.

When training camp opens on Oct 6th the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference and the Los  Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder will start the season as favorites to win the title. Several other teams made moves to enter the conversation such as the Brooklyn Nets who resigned Deron Williams, extended center Brook Lopez and traded for a talented scored in former Atlanta Hawk, shooting guard Joe Johnson.

Although last season was cut short due to the NBA lockout, next season promises to be one filled with excitement and uncertainty. Do the Heat repeat? Do the Thunder resign or trade James Harden? Will the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics and their aging stars have one last run in them as they edge closer to retirement. After 82 games we will have an idea. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

NFL Week 3 Observations: Return of Dominant Defenses and the Demise of the Elite Quarterbacks

At the beginning of the season teams like the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers graced the covers of endless magazines and were considered shoe-ins to play for the Lombardi Trophy. Fans in New Orleans believed that making Drew Brees the highest paid player in the NFL would ensure that the Saints would operate without a hitch and contend for another Super Bowl.

However in only a short time the NFL has dealt its fans one harsh reality, that an unpredictable season awaits and the popular picks to win it all may struggle to even make playoffs. Last season was truly an exceptional one but the record-breaking offensive outputs are unlikely to be repeated EVER again. After being victimized by these potent offenses defensive coordinators around the league have had an entire off-season to prepare for the rigors of a long NFL season.

So far this season the NFL’s so-called elite quarterbacks (Brees, Manning, Brady, and Rodgers) have all struggled to adapt to the new wrinkles defenses have installed to beat them. The New Orleans Saints sit at 0-3 and so far this season Drew Brees has made a number of game changing decisions like the safety or the costly interception which cost the Saints the game against perennial doormat the Kansas City Chiefs.

Not to be out done, the two other 19 million dollar men Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have become shadows of themselves, their play on the gridiron is not matching the names on the back of their jerseys. For the first time in his thirteen year career Peyton Manning admitted being lost and confused when he attempted to explain his three interceptions to a stunned media room. Tom Brady was also at a loss for words when asked to explain the plight of the New England Patriots who with a loss next week may fall below .500 for the first time in nearly seven years.

Last night there were many times when NFL MVP Aaron Rodger also looked lost against the Seattle Seahawks, failing to read defenses quickly enough resulting in a NFL record 8 sacks in the first half. After nearly five years of offensive dominance by these elite quarterbacks it appears a new generation of defensive masterminds have arisen and made these future Hall of Famers finally look human.

Although there are still many more games left to play the revival of elite defenses is no mirage and the chess match which will occur throughout the season will truly be one to marvel at. A $19 million dollar quarterback used to guarantee you of a playoff run, we shall see if these old guys will have any new tricks. Are we witnessing a new era or the careers of these elite quarterbacks in decline, in 17 weeks we will know for sure. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Road2BCS: Week 4 Reality Check – The Three Favorites and then everybody else #cfb

At the beginning of the season there were 120 undefeated teams who dreamed of playing the role of spoiler and taking down the mighty Goliath’s of college football. Several promising underclassmen turned down millions of dollars in the NFL choosing instead to play another year to improve their draft stock, contend for a BCS title and earn the diploma that they promised their friends and loved ones that they would get.

Although the season is far from over in only a short time several teams have been given a harsh reality check  that a National Championship will not be in their future and many talented underclassmen who passed on the NFL Draft last year  may certainly be regretting their decision at this time.

In week four of the college football season we were treated to a number of surprises that will certainly make for a compelling 2012-13 season. The race for the National Title is completely wide open with Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State looking like prohibitive favorites. In addition to adding a win to the win column these teams also avoided the injury bug that has already compromised the chances of other title contenders. The Road to the BCS title is a marathon not a sprint and how these three teams perform will shape the National title picture.

The Alabama Crimson Tide appear to have the toughest road ahead with tough games remaining against the defensively stout LSU Tigers, pass happy Tennessee Volunteers, and hated in-state rival the Auburn Tigers. Led by the arm of AJ Mccarrons and an ever improving defense each week the Tide will be expected to win, even on November 3rd against LSU.

Although the SEC is praised as the deepest conference, this year that title may belong to the Pac 12. Outside of Colorado who upset Washington State, the conference is riddled with land mines that can destroy the Oregon Ducks title chances. The Ducks have seven games left on their schedule and 6 of those seven will be ranked in the top 25 by season’s end. Outside of their obvious match-up against USC on November 3rd there will be many in conference foes who will have the offensive firepower to score and the ability to confuse their first year starting quarterback.

Many will foolishly assume that the Seminoles have the easiest route to the BCS title game but in reality there road may actually be the toughest because they will be expected to win every game. The Seminoles will not face another ranked in conference opponent for the rest of the season besides Virginia Tech. Coach Fisher must get his team to not overlook any opponent and follow the process as his mentor Coach Saban taught him. When the Seminoles play against their instate rival the Florida Gators more than state pride will be on the line.

How each of these teams respond to heightened expectation will say a lot about the talent and leadership on their teams, and the quality of coaching on the sidelines and in the sky box. Will they stay strong or will one of these teams falter? Who will outwit and outlast the other? College football fans it appears that another exciting season awaits us. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

The Bob Stoops Dilemma: A Victim of his own Success – Why Winning is no longer enough? #boomersooner

Thirteen years ago the Oklahoma Sooners welcomed Bob Stoops with open arms to Norman with high hopes of restoring glory to a once proud program.His hiring yielded immediate results with Coach Bob ‘Big Game’ Stoops bringing a National Championship back to Norman in only his second year on the job. During his thirteen years in Norman he has won seven Big XII Championship and accumulated an impressive 77-3 home record.

Despite his success it appears that Soonernation and Bob Stoops have come to a crossroad. Although Coach Stoops is nearly a lock  for nine wins every year and favorite to win a Big XII Championship every year so much more is expected. There was time when winning was enough but in Norman another nine win season and another Big XII Championship is expected and is considered by Soonernation to be underachieving.

Stoops has raised the bar so high in Norman that his own success has become his downfall. Although he has collected his fair share of awards and trophies besides their dominance in the Red River Rivalry the Sooners have failed to win when it truly counts: 1-3 in Title Games (55-19 to USC; 24-14 to UF;  21-14 LSU) 2-5 BCS Games; 7-6 Bowl Record.

When the Sooners leave the comfort of the Big XII and face non-conference foes with equal talent Bob Stoops fails miserably making several pundits question why are we paying $4 million dollars to a coach who chokes when it TRULY counts.

His struggles have put the Athletic Director, Joe Castigilone who hired him into a conundrum. Although you may be unhappy with his performance how do you fire a coach whose won 7 Big XII Championships? And if you fire him who do you get to replace him? There is no easy answer to either of these questions, there only hope is that Stoops leaves to take another coaching somewhere else.

However, the secret is out and although several prominent programs were looking for head coaches to fill their vacancies traditional powerhouse like his hometown Ohio State Buckeyes or former employer the Florida Gators did not even give Bob Stoops any consideration choosing instead to hire an unproven defensive coordinator in Will Muschamp and his Youngstown Ohio native Urban Meyer who had retired the year before due to health complications.

It appears that the Sooners and Bob ‘USED TO BE BIG GAME’ Stoops are stuck together and although they will have the talent to contend for the National Championship, Soonernation may have to continue to settle for another Big XII Championship, unacceptable losses (Texas Tech, BYU, and Baylor) and a poor showing in a BCS Bowl Game. 

On Saturday the Sooners were out-toughed and out-executed by Optimus Klein and the undermanned  Kansas State Wildcats. It looks like another disappointing and underachieving Sooner team. Will Coach Stoops and the Sooners ever be able todo what is unexpected and fulfill their promise of bringing the National Championship back to Norman? With Texas Tech next Saturday we shall see how Landry Jones and the Sooners respond. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Road to the BCS Title: There can only be 1! Teams may appear better than they seem #bcstitle

We are only going into the fourth week of the season and several  sports pundits have prematurely deemed several traditional powers to be back among the nation’s elite after witnessing them demolish FCS pansies and outclassing undermanned programs. In the words of the Lee Corso from College Gameday I must say “not so fast!”

A few weeks ago Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban went on a tirade lecturing the national media on prematurely ordaining his team as a shoe-in to contend for the national title. Although his delivery rubbed many media member the wrong way his message was SEARS CRYSTAL TROPHY CLEAR, its far to early in a long 15 week season to foolishly overlook opponents and make grand predictions because in college football any team on any day can lose.

The road to a BCS Championship is long and arduous and despite many teams possessing the talent only two teams out of a field of 120 will get the opportunity to play for the crown of being the nation’s best. So far this season we have bared witness to dominant performances by Alabama and LSU but several other teams in the top 15 raise more questions than answers regarding their true legitimacy as contenders for the national title.

Future Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Parcells once famously said “YOU ARE WHAT YOUR RECORD SAYS YOU ARE” but despite several teams being 3-0 we still have no clue who they are:

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) — Two very impressive wins over teams ranked in the top 10. The O-line gave up 6 sacks to WKU and suffered a costly injury when RB Fowler who was lost for the season. O-line issues must be addressed before their match-up with LSU Nov. 3rd
  2. LSU Tigers (3-0) — LSU regular season record remains unblemished with dominating performances over powerhouses Idaho, North Texas, and Washington. These wins have come at a huge cost losing 6 players due to academics and 3 to injuries including starting LT Faulk,  LB Tahj Jones, and RB Alfred Blue. The depth of the Tigers will be tested, the talent is there will inexperience be too costly
  3. Oregon Ducks (3-0) — like the Tigers the Oregon Ducks have survived a “tough” gauntlet of unranked opponents in TN Tech, Ark State, and Fresno State and have looked impressive in their wins over these ‘tough’ foes. The Ducks have barely broke a sweat in their wins but suffered two huge losses in G Carson York and All-American safety John Boyett. With a tough conference schedule awaiting the decision making of QB Mariota and a inexperienced O-line and secondary will be tested.
  4. Florida State Seminoles (3-0) — not one to avoid tough opponents the Seminoles paid Murray State and Savannah State for wins and put a shellacking on perennial powerhouse Wake Forest. These wins were costly losing All-Americans DE Jenkins to injury and Greg Reid to suspension.
  5. Georgia Bulldogs (3-0) — the Bull Dogs survived a scare from the Missouri Tigers despite 6 players being lost due to suspension. Will the Dogs be able to just say NO TO DRUGS??
  6. Oklahoma Sooners (2-0) — So you get nearly outclassed by UTEP and still find yourself in the top 10. Coach Stoops did not get the Nickname “Big Game Bob” for nothing…
  7. South Carolina Gamecocks (3-0) — A pass interference no call from Vandy warrants being ranked in top ten
  8. West Virginia Mountaineers (2-0) — James Madison + Marshall = Heisman Frontrunner?
  9. Stanford Cardinals (3-0) — yes they beat SC but nearly loss to San Jose State only winning by 3
  10. Clemson Tigers (3-0) – 26-19 to Auburn who almost lost to Louisiana Monroe, enough said

As the quest for the Sears National Championship Trophy continues as the season progresses the rankings will certainly change and I am more than certain that a few of these teams currently ranked in the top 10 may not even finish the season in the top 25. Who will be those teams? Who will hoist the trophy at season’s end. Stay tuned… I know i will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)


USC Falls: A True Hollywood Story, but how will it end #fighton #usctrojans

At the beginning of the college football season fans were bombarded by the media with the hype of USC returning to glory led by their latest Golden Boy Matt Barkley and his two premiere thoroughbred wide receivers Marquise Lee and Robert Woods. However, on Saturday night the Trojans were dealt a huge blow to their championship hopes when they lost to the bruising Stanford Cardinals for the fourth consecutive year.

Although it may appear that all hope is lost, in reality there is still a lot of college football left to play and although their chances to hoist the BCS Championship appears slim there is still hope.  Since 2007 6 teams with one loss have played for a BCS National Championship and 4 those teams went on to be crowned as National Champions (LSU, Florida {twice}, Alabama). The reason these fortunate four found themselves contending for the Sears Trophy was due to the strength of their conference schedule and although the Southeastern Conference has touted itself as the toughest conference in the land, this year the depth of the Pac 12 has already began to flex its muscle.

In order for the Trojans to rise back up the rankings they must root for their bitter  Pac 12 rivals to continue to win, the conference currently has 4 teams ranked in the top 25 (UCLA, USC, Oregon, Stanford) and 3 other teams (Oregon State, Arizona, and Arizona State) who have collected non-conference wins over perennial powerhouses Wisconsin and Oklahoma State. If there was any year that a one-loss team from the Pac 12 can contend for the National Championship this is the year.

If you look at the Trojans schedule you will find that they play five teams who will be ranked in the top 25 (ASU, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Pac 12 title). Three of these games will be headliners and if they are able to survive this gauntlet unscathed and injury free they WILL be playing in the National Championship probably against an SEC foe.

The loss to Stanford brought a lot of glaring weaknesses to the light: poor quarterback play, poor conditioning, injuries, and a lack of depth along the offensive and defensive line. How Lane Kiffin and his staff address these gaping will determine the fate of the Trojans. The talent is there, but what good is talent if you fail to develop it.

Despite their five-star talent on defense it appears that Monte Kiffin’s defense is only scary in reputation alone, so far his success on the NFL level has failed translate to the college level. Last week USC surrendered 455 yards to Syracuse, a team that only won 1 Big East Conference game last year.  And this past Saturday the Cardinal offensive line literally took the Trojans behind the woodshed and beat them like Ingrid beat Tiger Woods with a 9-iron.

Outside of Colorado every other team on their schedule has the talent to follow the same blueprint the Stanford Cardinals used to win. How the Trojans respond during this time adversity will impact both the race for the Heisman Trophy and the National Championship landscape. There is still time for the USC TROJANS to contend for a title, will they fight on or chose to wither in defeat? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)