Posted on: February 4, 2012 6:32 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 10:25 pm
I'm not going to be one of those whining, smirking people who complains about the Hall of Fame voting process. I know some of those men in the room. Many are skilled, brilliant and extremely smart about the game. A handful are arrogant jerks with hardcore agendas but the vast majority know what they are doing.
So I'm not going to complain as much as simply be stunned over the omission of Bill Parcells. I'm not a Parcells fan. He treated many people in my business terribly and wasn't exactly a great human being. But to me, in history, there are few better coaches.
The two greatest motivators in NFL history, the coaches who got players to do things and go places in their careers they thought they never could, were Don Shula and Parcells. The best pure motivators ever. Period. That is a coach's primary job. Nothing happens before that -- not the Xs and Os, nothing -- before getting a player mentally ready. Shula was the best at that (what he did in Miami with the then expansion Dolphins is borderline miraculous) and Parcells was second.
He turned around the Giants, the Patriots and Jets when those latter two organizations were absolutely awful.
My guess as to what hurt Parcells. First -- and no one will admit this but it's true -- the way he treated some writers played a factor. Writers have long memories and we can be just as petty anyone else. There likely were a few writers in the room who were either treated poorly by Parcells -- or know people who were -- and this was a form of payback.
I've also heard some writers over the years (including some in that room) say that Bill Belichick made Parcells and Parcells never made it back to a Super Bowl without Belichick.
But most importantly it is accurate that when Parcells left organizations he left them atomized. His departures were sometimes very ugly and it likely also did not help Parcells that he left the Dolphins in semi-ruins.
But overall his record -- he took the Giants, Jets, Patriots and Cowboys to the playoffs while winning two of three Super Bowl appearances -- was more than enough to overcome his faults.
No, not a complaint here. Just sort of stunned.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 8:11 am
Just this week former Chicago receiver Sam Hurd was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and one possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Not a good day for Hurd.
If you remember, Hurd was a one time winner of the Ed Block Courage award. The award is one of the more prestigous in sports. It's a great thing given to players for their charitable deeds. They are voted on by their teammates as role models for, as the award describes, their "inspiration, sportsmanship and courage." Hurd won the award when he was in Dallas.
Would the organization ever consider rescinding Hurd's award? I asked just that and was told by a spokesman the foundation would not take back Hurd's award. They've never done it before, the spokesman said, with other controversial winners and they're not going to start with Hurd.
This is an interesting decision. Does having a man who might be a big-time drug dealer as your award winner tarnish the award?
Probably not since the award stands for something so good and the vast majority of winners remain excellent standard bearers.
So Hurd won't lose the award.
And now he goes on to worry about more interesting things. Like staying out of prison.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 8:10 am
OPENING HIT: No way Terrell Owens will do it. No way in hell. No. Freaking. Way.
The ego of Owens won't allow it. I don't care how financially desperate he is. The ego of Owens will stop him from playing in the Indoor Football League because he'll see it as too far beneath him.
And it is. I'm no fan of Owens. I think he's a bit of an Uncle Tom who has thrown numerous players and organizations under good sized buses. I guarantee you there are people around the NFL who are laughing at the predicament of Owens and saying: karma is a bitch, eh Terrell?
But admitedly despite how Owens has treated so many people so poorly there remains an element of sadness about Owens even considering playing in some cheapened copy of football to make a buck. Owens was a great player. I mean, great Hall of Fame worthy player and here he is in serious talks with the IFL.
Yet again it won't happen. This is likely some sort of trial balloon by Owens to see the reaction and once he digests how most people are mocking this potential decision he'll back out. I could be wrong but Owens playing in the IFL just isn't Owens.
That ego won't allow it.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:47 am
OPENING HIT: I remember a Giants player, linebacker Michael Brooks, telling me that the night before the Giants played Dallas in the biggest game of the year -- it was 1994 -- how it was impossible to sleep leading up to the game. Another Giants linebacker, Corey Miller, said after the loss it felt like a piece of him died.
This was almost 20 years ago. The Giants-Cowboys battle was for the division crown just like this weekend's game will be. I was a Giants beat writer and that contest remains one of the best games I've ever covered. It was a game that put Emmitt Smith on a Hall of Fame glide path as he destroyed the Giants for 168 yards on 32 carries. He also caught 10 passes for 61 yards and played the second half and overtime with a mild separation of his right shoulder. That game allowed Smith to get his third straight rushing title, gaining 1,486 yards for the season, 57 more than the rookie Jerome Bettis of the Los Angeles Rams.
Giants players after that game told me privately that they felt Smith exaggerated his injury but it didn't look that way to me. It looked like he was seriously hurt.
What that game did, what it might do this time around as well, is either start a playoff run or end a coaching tenure. My belief has long been that game propelled the two franchises into different directions. It launched the Cowboys' second Super Bowl win and cemented their dynasty and it was also the beginning of the end for Dan Reeves.
This game just might do the same. If Tom Coughlin wins the Giants could again be one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs, Giant killers, just like when Coughlin won his first Super Bowl. And it might be the beginning of the end for the Dallas coach.
Conversely if Tony Romo, playing with an injured hand, can win, he can do a lot to build his image as a clutch quarterback.
It's rare to get a game like this at the end of the season and we actually have two of them: Denver facing Kansas City might even be a more dramatic contest.
But if this Cowboys-Giants game is anything like the one in 1994, well, this is going to be fun.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 8:52 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 10:18 am
OPENING HIT: Sam Hurd is accused of basically being a drug dealing overlord. The amounts of drugs he's accused of attempting to purchase are almost incomprehensible. Federal officials say those crimes extend to his tenure with two different NFL teams. So there's an obvious question.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 8:38 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 3:57 pm
OPENING HIT: It's funny how things work in today's media environment. One station in Chicago reports an alleged list kept by accused drug dealing kingpin Sam Hurd and within 24 hours panic sets in across the NFL.
No, that's not an exaggeration. There is absolute panic across the sport about the potential repercussions of such a list and, again, the list may not even exist. Just the idea of a list is causing people throughout the NFL -- from the league office to the union to players to coaches -- to pee their pants.
And, again, there may not even be a list.
I spoke to players via phone, text and Twitter DM; current players and former players and the resounding sentiment was: "Oh s---!"
I don't think there is a list. It's too convenient and sounds like something from a movie. But after numerous conversations with players last night they are convinced such a list exists.
It can't be overstated the damage such a list could do to the NFL. If it is 10 to 20 players that's not an insignificant amount. If it was later determined that players on that list never failed drug tests it would also put the league's drug testing program in question.
So, yes, such a list would be very, very bad.
No wonder so many in the league are panicking.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:32 am
OPENING HIT: This story brought back some memories. I remember when the NFC East scared opponents. The division stood for brutal, nasty football and few teams in the NFL could match its intensity. There were Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins and Bill Parcells' New York Giants. The Hogs, Lawrence Taylor, harshness, cold weather, dominance, numerous Super Bowls, Reggie White, Michael Irvin--it was glorious. If you grew up a fan of one of these teams you had bragging rights for years.
Now look at the division. As writer Mark Maske points out the 2007 Giants are the only NFC East team in the past 15 years to win a Super Bowl. That's pretty pathetic. How bad has the division become? The 5-8 Philadelphia Eagles could still win the division. That's just horrible.
Why has this happened? It's pretty simple: coaching turnover. The Cowboys and Redskins in particular have plowed through head coaches with only Andy Reid of the Eagles being one of the few stable coaching forces in the division. Many NFC East teams have also diverted from what they used to do best which is play strong defense.
The NFC East has gone from one of the elite to one of the worst.
And that makes me a little sad.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:10 am
OPENING HIT: Before Jason Garrett was named coach of the Cowboys several teams had taken a good hard look at hiring him. That's no secret. Some teams looking to fill vacancies were extremely high on him. They slobbered over his Princeton background and he was viewed as a next-gen type of coach. A younger guy who could be the next offensive genius.
But there was one concern among teams looking at Garrett as a possible head coach. The concern was Garrett might be too heady, almost too studious, heads in clouds type guy, and not be able to handle the daily, ugly pressure of practices and games. Head coaches have told me the hardest part of the job is managing a team full of egos. The second is managing a game. The latter was one of the biggest concerns about Garrett.
Garrett's complete, utter brain spasm at the end of the Arizona game was either an anomaly that may never happen again or an indicator the concern Garrett could freeze up during the volcanic activity that is game time was a fair one.
We won't know the answer and it may be unfair to even examine Garrett in this manner. Lots of coaches, great ones even, have screwed up clock management. But Garrett's flub was practically historic and if the Cowboys don't make the playoffs the cause will be traced back to that moment.
And the question will be asked -- fairly or unfairly -- was Garrett ready for this job?