Annual Kevin Kolb “Trade” Debate.

The Eagles are going to use the franchise tag on Michael Vick. It means Vick will earn about 20 million in 2011 assuming there is a season and assuming there is still a franchise tag in the collective bargaining agreement. This, aside being great news for Vick’s creditors, is no surprise. The price seems steep for one season, but it gives the Eagles another year to look at Vick without making the commitment of a long term deal and even bigger signing bonus. It’s the least possible commitment, should we coin the term, “LPC”? It rules football. What is the absolute minimum we can do for a player? If this was baseball, Vick would have his long term deal (possibly from the highest bidder). Hell, if it was hockey, he’d have some ridiculous 14 year contract, but in the NFL it’s all about that LPC.

And, that is the same reason the Kevin Kolb trade rumors leading up to the draft will likely be pointless. The bulk of the money in the Eagles’ half-hearted extension for Kolb was doled out last year. For 2011, Kolb would be a bargain for a decent kicker, for a QB…he’s an absolute steal. The Eagles are under no obligation to give him more money and they are under no obligation to move him to give him a chance to start. The only thing they will do is shop him.

But, what does that mean, really? What do the Eagles think Kolb is worth vs. what would another team be willing to give up? I hate to say it, but the best thing Kolb has going for him is his low salary figure. Last year there was some mystery around Kolb’s game, his ceiling was high according to some. The work he did on the field this year I can’t imagine helped his cause too much. Kolb looks to be settling into the serviceable category. You could do worse than Kolb, but it’s hard not to think that ultimately he will be a dead end. Even if he did work out, his salary would balloon starting in 2012.

The Eagles will be perfectly happy to keep Kolb. An inexpensive backup who they know well? It’s a great situation for a team to be in. Because of that, the Birds will likely set the price obscenely high for Kolb (like they did last year), and it could very well kill the market. There’s a big difference between someone being “available” and someone being likely to be moved. Kolb is available. If some team went brain dead and offered a package centering on a number one pick, the Eagles might listen,but don’t expect a Don McNabb deal to push K-squared out of town. If Ed Wade was an NFL GM, he’d probably ship 2 first rounders to Philly without blinking an eye, but I doubt the Eagles are going to get that lucky.

So, I’m sure trading Kevin Kolb is going to be one of the top off-season stories for the Eagles. There will be rumors, there will be theories and arguments, but the guy is more than likely going to stick around. In fact, the only way I see the Eagles making a move is if they really think Kolb doesn’t have it, or of they really think Vick can be durable year after year. Neither of those sound plausible. The way my predictions have been going around here lately, Kolb will probably be dealt tomorrow, but in the meantime I’d ignore all Kolb trade stories until the word “traded” actually appears in a headline.

The Last Football Monday Until…

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I am in denial. I know this is the last week of football this season, but what I don’t want to think about is the large Andy Reid in the room. The NFL labor issues could force the start of the 2011 season closer to 2012. Is that what that doomsday movie was about? That makes more sense than whatever Darren Daulton and company were talking about with the Mayan calendar.

You probably won’t hear too much about it this week. The NFL will want everything to be business as usual as we build up to the country’s biggest sporting event. Today we can rehash the awful Pro Bowl (nice job AFC quarterbacks), then we’ll have media day, we’ll get odd stories, if we’re lucky someone will miss curfew. After that we’ll be pounded with history for a couple days until it is finally time to see if the game and the Clydesdales can live up to expectations. There will be little talk of the lockout though, no reason to tarnish this prefab extravaganza.

And as a fan, I have to say that this is how I want it to be. I don’t want to know the gory details, just show me the product on the field. This is the time of the year that I am ready to let football go anyway. I can watch some hockey. I can shift from hot stove to Grapefruit League boxscores. I can forget about football until the draft, but will you be able to forget this year, or will you be wondering about a possible lockout?

I’m not sure where it comes from, but I just have this faith the deal will get done. Like I opened with, it could very well be denial. Maybe I think the NFL isn’t stupid enough to ruffle the feathers of their golden goose. Could the NFL survive a lockout? I’m sure they could, but it’s never a good business plan. We’ve gone a long time since a labor issue has disrupted an NFL season, and since then the league has only become more dominant on the sports landscape. Why risk that?

Maybe I think the players can’t afford to be locked out. The owners are coming from an uncommon position of power. You might be able to convince me that some NBA franchises are in financial trouble, but the NFL is a license to print money. The management side is so strong that the casual observer would find them unbreakable. The players will surely realize this and swallow whatever medicine they are given. 18 games? Yes, please.

Before this last season started the talk of a lockout was that it was inevitable. It was going to happen. Get ready for it. But, since then there has been some cautious optimism, and I have latched onto that. Maybe I would call it common sense more than anything else. No matter who has the upper hand the two sides need each other and they need to be playing games.

If it does come down to a lockout I know a couple things for certain. One, we’ll manage. It will be painful at times, but Sundays could end up being a lot more productive for some people. Some might have to latch onto a college team or take up adult league kickball, but we’ll find something to do. The other thing I can say for sure is that this time around I would have the players’ backs. I don’t want it to get to this point, but if it does, you have to side with guys who are already getting screwed, right? That’s my position anyway.

So, six days away from America’s biggest sporting spectacle, I’d encourage everyone to drink it in a little more this week. Savor every mind numbing story. Just in case…

Power Cords, Snow Surrender and the Lost Buffer Zone.

I guess I have to start with an apology. I’m sure most people weren’t expecting a pick or a lovely lady today, but I was going to throw one up anyway…maybe even pick the Pro Bowl. Surprise! But, the power cord for my computer is currently just outside Richmond. Virginia and I am not. So, all that valuable research I put into selecting the proper picture ends up being for naught. I also don’t even know the line for the Pro Bowl, so the whole segment is really trashed. I’m not sure why it is the case, but I am incapable of leaving my sister’s house without forgetting something. Pair of gloves, charger, the power cord. I could explain them all off as extraordinary events, but the real truth is I am probably just disorganized.

You win, snow. I wasn’t even around to have to dig out of this one, but the aftermath alone is enough to make me dream of warmer climates. Actually, the cold isn’t that big of a deal, but the unrelenting string of “snow events” has got to go. I think there has been snow on the ground since Christmas and after that foot and a half I’m sure we won’t see grass until March. I know this is commonplace in many areas and I’m really not concerned with other people’s snow stories or snow toughness. This one is all about me. I’m tired of the snow, I’m tired of the idiots saying, “so much for global warming.” It was only a few years back that we got about six inches all winter. Let’s go back to that.

Jeff Fisher got canned, which of course eliminates the guy Andy Reid could point at when people asked how he still had a job. Fisher’s tenure was even longer and less successful than Big Red’s, and I imagine being buried in Tennessee had a little to do with his longevity. Nice friendly market. Like Jerry Sloan in Utah. I think Andy is now the most senior head man, but he still doesn’t have a Super Bowl. I guess the only person left to point to now is Bill Cowher.

The power seems to be slipping from Andy fingers lately. I guess it could all be coincidental, but he doesn’t seem to have all the control anymore and his job looks like it could be on the line next year…something I never thought would happen. Immediately after Fisher was let go there was speculation he could end up here as the defensive coordinator. That’d be great for the team, but maybe bad news for Andy. Fisher is the kind of coordinator you hire to eventually take over as head coach. Looks like it was just another rumor, but with every passing week and month it looks like the protective shell around Andy Reid is getting chipped away. Incidentially, that protective shell, if you were wondering, is made out of candy.

In closing I’d like to extend a big middle finger to everyone who doesn’t clean the snow off the roof of their car. I hope you get buried under an avalanche of tickets. Just so you know, I don’t feel like engaging evasive radar while I am driving behind you. Get in touch with reality, or at the very least I hope you get stuck in a ditch.

All right everyone, taker easy, Go Tiger, go NFC, go Charlie Sheen, I’ll see everyone (probably still in text only form) on Monday.

Happy Pro Bowl Week.

The Whole Thing Just Screams Awkward, Doesn't It?

There’s no point in ripping the Pro Bowl. Everyone knows the game is a total joke. On the spectrum of All-Star games, where not a one carries weight, the NFL version is easily the most pointless. I think my least favorite part of the Pro Bowl is that it skews career stats. He made 6 Pro Bowls…ok, how many of those were as a 7th alternate? The one saving grace was that the game was held in Hawaii, but they even messed that up last year. Overall, it’s a terrible concept and a terrible game that has to hold everyone over until the Super Bowl. Only that…the Super Bowl doesn’t always give you much of a game either.

Many of the Super Bowls in my viewing lifetime have been miserable affairs. Blowout doesn’t even begin to describe some of the Buffalo and Denver debacles I witnessed in my Super Bowl formative years. There was actually a time when I thought the most exciting thing about Super Bowl Sunday was getting to drink as much soda as I wanted. It was either that or the Bud Bowl. I’m not sure. You wonder why the Super Bowl needs all those ridiculous props and square pools? It’s because the game can very often be terrible. That said, the game has taken some positive turns in recent years with some upsets and good finishes. Some of my Super Bowl highlights over the years…

1. Pats/Rams. The Rams were an old school NFC prohibitive favorite. I was still getting over Drew Bledsoe not playing. One of my favorite QBs of all-time had saved the AFC championship game, but the Pats stuck Brady back in there for the big one. The real memory of this game, though, is that I received multiple calls from JCK, who was in attendance. As the time ticked down, JCK said he was roaming the concourse, looking for someone still selling beer. Then he blurted out that the Pats were going to win. My response? Dude…go back to your seat and watch the damn ending.

2. Steelers/Cards. Obvious bonus points for watching it in Jamaica, but this game illustrates a classic Super Bowl point. You’ve got to pick a team. Usually, it’s the underdog. So there we were (JCK, BK and myself), rooting pretty hard for those Arizona Cardinals. There didn’t seem to be much hope for a game, but Warner and company showed. When Arizona scored what was almost the winning score…we exploded. Of course, then Pittsburgh scored, the Cards lost, and we were over it pretty quick. It was a good last hour, though.

3. Ravens/Giants. This game is memorable for me for a couple of reasons, but I mention it because it was my only Super Bowl pool win. We had a bunch of people over to our apartment and collected some cash for a pool that included guessing the MVP. I happened to hit it, but so did several others. I think I got my money back, which as I stated above is my best performance ever. Of course this won’t stop me from hitting a square pool this year, see if I can do any damage with my usual 2/6.

4. 49ers/Bengals. This was the first Super Bowl I remember watching that was a decent game. My first Super Bowl ever was Bears/Pats…mess. Others seemed to be a race to see how many points the Broncos could fall behind by at halftime. Bengals/Niners was a bit different. I’m talking about Niners/Bengals part two by the way. This wasn’t the best Niners team, but everyone assumed they’d win big thanks to Montana and NFC dominance. The Bengals gave them all they wanted until Montana hit Taylor on the final drive. It was a great game, and one that made me believe in great quarterbacks.

5. Colts/Saints. That ending. That Manning-Face. Poetic.

Others worth mentioning:

Eagles/Pats. Did Donovan puke? Hard to say. The pinnacle of Eagles clock management.

Niners/Chargers. For how bad the Chargers were. I mean, wow. You think of how good some recent Charger teams were and this is the one that made the Super Bowl.

Rams/Titans. Because some close games you still don’t care about. Ugh, awful.

What were your favorites?

Comeback Week.

 

No Nadal Slam.

 

Well as all my tennis people probably know, I’ve been Nadal-ed up for quite some time.  Whether I was actually rooting for Nadal, or simply against Federer is hard to say, but in very small tennis circles I called Nadal sweeping the final majors last year and was expecting a Nadal Slam this week in Australia.  For those of you that don’t know, the Australian Open (a big tennis tournament) is being played as we speak.  Or, maybe not, because it’s the middle of the night there, but the winners will be decided this weekend.  Nadal lost in the quarterfinals, ending his quest for 4 straight major wins, and now the door is open for Roger Federer to return to his winning ways.  If someone aside from these two wins tennis tournaments…I’m not aware of who they are.

This isn’t necessarily a tennis post, though.  I don’t want to make that kind of history.  It’s more of a general reflection. More than a year ago here I made a post comparing Roger Federer to Tiger Woods.  I was asking who was more dominant.  It is hard to compare across sports, but those two guys were the most reliable bets going.  Unquestioned number ones, perhaps each the best ever to play their sport.  Fast forward and both have been derailed to varying degrees for much different reasons.  We all know what happened to Tiger.  He hasn’t won in over a year.  Federer remains near the top of his game, he was just nudged slightly to the side by a streaking Rafa Nadal.  In terms of dominance, they’ve both lost quite a bit of footing.   This week, I am predicting it will partially come back.

The Federer prediction is not really going out on a limb.  He’s already in the semi-finals.  In fact, maybe the only reason I am mentioning it is so I can put a little jinx on him for tonight.  I’ve had a pretty powerful hex going lately (note Syracuse).  In actuality though, I expect him to win the remaining two matches and defend his Australian Open title. It’ll shift consciousness back to the Federer vs. Nadal in the present instead of wondering whether Nadal has a chance to outshine Roger in terms of overall legacy.  For Tiger, the prediction takes a little more heart.  Even when he was on top of the world he lost more than he won.  And now, he’s just another guy on tour (in some ways).

Tiger’s week started with a dose of reality.  Thanks to his unusually low finish on the money list, Tiger did not get his usual preferential tee-time in the Pro-Am.  Tiger has gotten the early time he liked so consistently that I wonder if he even knew how the slots were assigned.  He complained about his time.  He complained about playing the North Course instead of the South (he would get changed to the South).  If you are wondering why I am detailing Tiger acting like a spoiled brat, it’s because I guarantee you that Tiger feels disrespected.  And also, imagine the ego it must take to ask to switch your Pro-Am time and course?  For Tiger’s golf game, ego is a good thing.

Torrey Pines as I mentioned last week is Tiger’s personal playground.  He’s made a habit out of winning there.  It has become the traditional first stop of his year and he usually starts fast.  Some guys knock the rust off with the first few events, Tiger always came out of the gate expecting to win right away.  I think that is the mindset he’ll have this week.  A year removed from the controversy that softened his game, he should be entering this season as close to the Old Tiger, mentality wise, as anything we’ve seen since Fall of ’09.  Against a slightly less than world-class field, I’m flashing back to the old days and installing Tiger as the prohibitive favorite.

By the end of the weekend, I think we’ll be hearing about Tiger and Augusta, or Tiger how long it will take him to get back to #1.  What starts tomorrow with a tee time alongside Rocco Mediate and Anthony Kim I think will end on Sunday with Tiger raising the trophy.  Roger should have one too, and then the old friends can text each other, or film a new Gillette commercial.  It’ll be just like old times.

 

A Quick Anecdote

I’ve spent the last couple of days surrounded by members of an extended family I do not know that well. Unfortunately the event that brought us all together was my Grandfather’s funeral. My Grandfather lived 98 years, but even with that staggering total it was a little hard for me to believe he was no longer around. In the memories I forged as a young child, my Grandfather was a larger than life figure, nearly invincible. We would visit Pawleys Island, SC every summer and my Grandfather would be out patrolling the ocean with me, looking over the flailing 8 year old that still couldn’t swim. If he had told me then that he could walk straight across the ocean to Europe, I probably would have believed him. This was a man that often ate cake for breakfast with no consequence. It was very easy to buy into what he said.

As I got older, my trips to South Carolina became less frequent, and seeing as how there were members of my Grandfather’s family that I wouldn’t see when I was down there anyway, there was a definite level of unfamiliarity in the crowd despite us all being related in some way. When this happens you never really know what to expect. The small talk can veer off in any direction.

We were doing a lot of piggy back story telling. Someone would share a story, and then the next person would take a tiny piece of that story and then relate something of their own. By the end of that tale you might have forgotten why you were on that topic in the first place, but someone was always ready to step in with the next story to keep the conversation going.

You need people to share in this scenario, and while I think I spin a decent yarn, sharing is not really my forte. Luckily, plenty of other people had problem stepping up to the table. We had been talking about things military, and from there someone mentioned a base in Virginia where the Army trained most of its cooks. With those general topics in play, my colorful great uncle thought of a story he could tell. Allow me to relate it to you…

My great uncle had been in the Marine Corps. He said their meals were so regimented that they knew what they were getting for dinner based on the night of the week. On Sundays, they had bologna. While I took a moment to think about how awful a dinner bologna would make, my great uncle added:

“You know in the service the guys called bologna, horse c*ck.”

I suppose now would be the time to say we were in a mixed crowd. No children, but plenty of women present. My sister sat there, mouth slightly agape in amazement. I started laughing. Pretty hard. What else was there to do? My great uncle didn’t blink. Just forged ahead.

He told us all that on one Sunday night his base was visited by a group of commanding officers. A small number of people on the base got chosen to eat dinner with the VIPs. When they got to dinner they didn’t find the usual fare. Instead there was a nice steak dinner. Before everyone started eating, one of the officers announced that the whole base was enjoying that same dinner that night. The men cheered and then went about enjoying their steaks.

After dinner and back among the rest of the men, someone asked what the other Marines had for dinner that night. The answer,

“Horse c*ck. It’s Sunday. What else would we have had?”

You’ll notice that the above story can be told using the word bologna and the point still gets across. There was no particular need to add that detail, but given the chance to let everyone know what Marines in Korea called bologna…why not?

So, what’s the moral of this 2nd hand anecdote? Well, the beauty is in the details and sometimes a little appropriateness needs to be sacrificed for accuracy. It was a moral my Grandfather knew well.

The Public Team Super Bowl.

I am out of town for a couple of days and I didn’t get to watch the conference championship games like I normally would have. Of course I saw enough to know that my picks went 2-0, fending off a pair of backdoor cover attempts. Clinched a winning post-season, which after my regular season feels about as good as picking up a participation trophy. Anyway, some thoughts on the games, from what I saw, and if anyone out there wants to enlighten me, they can have at it.

This came up while getting occasional game updates in the car today…Todd Collins? How? Why? Obviously the Bears were in some trouble with or without Cutler, but I don’t understand Collins. They saw what he could do this season, and yet there he still is as the back-up. The best thing that can happen when Collins is on the field is he gets hurt. Anything else is costing you points or field position. I didn’t really see Caleb Haine, but at least a heartbeat out there? Probably doesn’t matter, but how do you hamstring yourself with Collins in the back-up role?

Did Rex Ryan take this loss worse than his players? I saw him after the game, and he looked crushed. Just devastated, thinking about tears. Ryan is a loudmouth, and maybe needs a tad of perspective, but he certainly cares. I think he likes coaching the Jets more than the players like playing for the team. What’s his value as a coach? It is hard to say definitively. I think he’s gotten about as much as you can out of the last two years…neither of those teams were good enough to win the Super Bowl.

Now that we have the game that I said I wanted out of this final four…are we really ready for it? These are two of the most successful franchises in the history of pro football. The Steelers have won 6 Super Bowls. Six Lombardi trophies. Note there is no Andy Reid trophy. Is everyone ok with this rich getting richer scenario? I guess I am, because it produces what should be a pretty good game and I still have something to complain about. Talk about the best of both worlds.

Quickly…

How much time is wasted in NFL games? If they snapped the ball before 2 on the play clock for the first 3.5 quarters maybe you’d get another possession or two and we wouldn’t have to see the uninspired hurry up with 5 minutes left.

Fourth and goal and LT up the gut? Really, NY?

I think Namath was probably rooting for the Steelers. If the Jets win another Super Bowl, everyone will realize Broadway Joe wasn’t that good.

I was going to give Dub some serious heat for his Bears nonsense, but I do have to admit he picked the Steelers/Packers at the beginning of the year. But, if there was an “Enough already with the Bears” awful pick of the week, he would have gotten it. Hopefully he can at least admit the Bears stink now and stop trying to bastardize my one good college football theory.

Syracuse is 0-2 since I pegged them as National Champs. You’re welcome. Nice game for ‘Nova.

The AL East is compiling a 2004 All-Star team. Great additions. Andruw Jones bet: average or homers plus 200. So if he hits 17 homers, will he hit .218 or better? Also love that Cashman came out and basically said, don’t blame me when Soriano sucks.

Ok, that’s it. Happy Monday everyone.