The Post Up
Defense still key in the NFL

This was supposed to be the year that defied all years in the past. The year of the Quarterback, where 10 quarterbacks had 4000 yard passing. Doesn’t hurt when the NFL handicaps the defense from hard hits, along with the fact its harder to jam receivers/tight ends; pretty much play any form of defense. Anyways ESPN and all fans, like myself, just thought it was a foregone conclusion for the year if you have an elite quarterback you were probably going to the Superbowl. Defenses just couldn’t stop Green Bay, New England, or New Orleans Saints; they had too many offense weapons and could score at will.  The offenses were so good they were overcoming the terrible deficiencies of their defenses, oddly enough all three were in the bottom 5 of defenses. How was one supposed to stop Drew Brees, the man who broke Marino’s record, when he had Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, and what seemed like an army of interchangeable receivers.

Unfortunately for the NFL the playoffs have not exactly played out like the regular season. The old addage defense wins championship still remains true even in a year of such offensive explosion. Three of the four teams left are known for their defense; Giant’s defensive line, Raven’s D, and San Fran’s D. The lone exception is the Patriots who are one of the worst defense in the NFL, but with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick they amazingly are the favorites to win it all by Vegas standards. The point is defense wins consistently in pressure situations. Offense is all about timing and coordination, which can be thrown out the window with the simplest play, but for the most part defense is a consistent. It has shown in the playoffs thus far. Drew Brees had three turnovers in the first half of the 49er game which doomed them. The Packers had three fumbles and a fumble that should of been against the Giants; along with many missed catches. Point is playoff football will always rely on some form of defense and the team that can play better defense will more likely than not come out on top; no matter how hard the NFL tries to tinker the rules for more offensive output. Having an explosive offense is great, but there generally is a point in the season they sputter and it seems like many times it happens when its most crucial aka playoff time. Based on NFL history I expect the Patriots to lose somewhere along the road, just wait and see.

Why America Can’t Embrace Tebow

It’s amazing how polarizing Tim Tebow can be. In theory his story should make him the lovable protagonist in a movie that the audience adores. He fits the story line Americans love to here; the hardworking guy who is told he will never will achieve his dream, but with hard work, determination, and faith he has proven them wrong thus far with a 4-1 record.  In a time where good characters are few and far to find and bad news bears out in the open(see Penn State, Syracuse, Vick, and Big Ben) it seems like this is the guy we as sports fans and Americans should be behind. The problem it’s as though the opposite has happened, many of us root for this guy to lose even though he is the cleanest athlete you will find in today’s sports world. So why can Americans not get behind him.

Faith

The first problem is his religious views. I am not saying they are wrong or inappropriate, but whether its an interview, post-game, or even a cutesy anti-abortion commercial with his mom it feels as though its crammed down our throats. To many he represents some mythical aura produced by the Extreme Right Wing Catholic Church that we cringe to talk/listen to. They will tell you that he can do no wrong, as though God himself/herself has guided him to victories at UF and now with the Broncos. Hell Tebow will tell you that himself. The problem is the extreme view of this right wing religious group rubs many Americans the wrong way. As though Tebow is proof that they are right in their beliefs; They are not its just football, but that’s the impression I get when I watch him.  In a society where the stress of desegregating is important the right wing religious seems to do the opposite. It becomes see Tebow the amazing he is wholesome and christian, if you accept Christ as your savor amazing things can happen to you too.  I don’t think Tebow is actively trying to recruit people to Christianity, but its just seems like many of his supporters believe the prior statement.

Urban Meyer Effect  

Lets just be honest Urban Meyer is an arrogant jerk who clearly is full of himself. His stench is all over Tebow even though Tebow exudes none of these qualities. It’s hard to get over those Florida teams leave a bad taste in your mouth; especially for me in 2006^1.  Anyways the smugness of Urban has rubbed off and tainted Tebow at least to us Non-SEC fans^2. Its hard to root for a consistent winner when he doesn’t play for your franchise. Hence why its easy to hate on the Lakers, Yankees, and Patriots. Let’s be honest Tebow had turned Florida into a powerhouse like the above mentioned.

Unconventional

He threatens to make a radical change to the game of football. Many old schoolers on ESPN have been throwing around non-sustainable, but if thats the case shouldn’t defensive coordinators have been able to stop this offense after the 5th game. When your QB only completes one pass in a half, or 2 an entire game its concerning it threatens the frequency of pass plays. I love when my qb runs, hell I cheer for Denard Robinson, but I like to think I am paying to see the ball going through the air too.  People want to see the Tom Brady’s, Peyton Manning’s, and Aaron Rodger’s of the NFL with deep passes to talented receivers. Tim Tebow threatens the logic of old School NFL; you know the one where QBs stay in the pocket and full or halfbacks run the ball. It’s a scary thought, who wants to watch a game with a total of 9 passes, not me that’s for sure. The problem is there are more Tim Tebows in the college pipeline, although they are more proficient passers. The QBs in college are becoming more dual threats who instead of reading the defense would rather tuck the ball and run. Is Tim Tebow the sign of the future for the NFL, if so thats scary for football because no one wants to watch a game with 50 runs and 10 pass plays. That my friends isn’t the football fans really want to pay to see.

Conclusion

In all honesty I want to cheer for Tebow. He is a genuine guy who works hard and proves the doubters wrong. But due to his religious views, his winning past, and unconventional ways of winning it rubs the public the wrong way.  It has nothing to do with Tebow its what he represents and what he threatens in the public eye. Tim you’re a great guy I wish I could root for you, but sometimes it is just more fun to drink the hater-aide.

Footnotes

1. My Wolverines deserved that rematch against OSU yet Gary Danielson and CBS stated wholeheartedly that once a team is beaten they shouldn’t get a rematch and that an SEC team deserved the honor. Funny how that works when we come to a Alabama LSU rematch for the national championship and Gary Danielson and CBS are stating the exact opposite arguments they had in 2006, well I guess you can’t bite the hand that feeds you right?

2. Hey Urban just stop the charade you left Florida because you knew it was a rebuilding effort again with stiff competition in the SEC.  You used your health as an excuse to leave and wait out another good job, enter OSU. Now all of sudden you can coach again can anyone smell the BS people. Why is this guy getting off easy. Can’t wait to for us to wipe the smirk off your face, you sleaze ball. Hope the rest of your career plays out like a certain OSU coach named John Cooper.

Detroit Lions: Buyer Beware

As a life long Lions fan it seems like clockwork every year. The Lions dominate the preseason and the fans around the area get excited. The sayings like “this is finally the year we turn it around” or “the roar is restored” are echoed all through southeastern Michigan.  If there is one thing I have learned as a Lions fan it’s never to buy into the hype until the season starts.  Otherwise you are 16 weeks in wondering why the hell you cheered for an 0-16 team. It was the mantra of the Matt Millen era, every year it was a different excuse be it an offensive coordinator change, numerous head coaches with different philosophies or just believing a new wide receiver was the solution to all our problems; or at least that’s what Matt Millen wanted the public to think. So pardon me if I don’t jump in on the hype of Super Bowl possibilities by Peter King or the fact that Robert Kraft anointed football was back in Detroit^1.  While I will agree the Lions have made great progress from the Matt Millen era, they seem to be headed in the right direction under Jim Schwartz’s guidance.  Don’t expect this team to be anything greater than a .500 team this year. My False Start colleague, Ryan Berlin, will argue that the Lions are a 10+ win team. I will be ecstatic if that happens, but at the same time I need to see it first hand after 16 weeks of play to really believe it. There are too many holes the Lions have yet to address on this team to think they are anything but a .500 team. 

Reason 1: The Running Game 

MF: Last year many people were shocked the Lions jumped back into the first round to grab Jahvid Best.  Schwartz made a joke about how he went home at night and watched Jahvid Best clips on Youtube as though it was pornography. Best is part of the new breed of running backs, like Chris Johnson, that have the speed and elusiveness that cause fans to drop their jaws in awe.  The knock on Best in college was his previous injury history.  It was after week two that most Detroiters couldn’t stop talking about him after he dropped 78 yards rushing and 154 yards receiving against Philly. But his health history eventually plagued him as a Lion, after the first couple of weeks he had turf toe that lingered the rest of the season robbing him of his explosiveness.  Like last year, the Lions have no suitable backup. Mikel Leshoure, the 2nd round draft pick from Illinois, was supposed to be the brute force that would finally help out the running game, but as with all Lions luck he tore his ACL within the first week of training camp. Behind Best there are a plethora of waiver wire and free agency pickups, most notably is Jerome Harrison. I don’t expect Best to last an entire season due to his previous injury history.  He already had a concussion in pre-season. So what we are relying on is serviceable free agents and waiver wire backs to fill in a non-existent run game that was one of the league’s worst last year. Does this sound like a championship caliber squad to you?

RB: Yes the loss of Mikel Leshoure will hurt and the o-line has some holes.  However, with a year under his belt and finally being healthy, minus the concussion, Jahvid Best is going have a great year.  We saw flashes of the brilliance he can bring to this team last year.  Like Feldman said a healthy Best can drop three tds with 78 yards rushing and 154 yards receiving anytime.  I believe there are three keys to Best having a great year.  First and foremost is his health.  Obviously if he can stay healthy and play in all 16 games he will do well.  The second key for a Best to have a successful year is Matt Stafford.  If Stafford is around and plays this will open things up for Best.  Stafford is capable of being an elite QB.  He can open things up downfield with Calvin and Burleson, hit Pettigrew on an out route and then of course hit Best in the backfield with the screen pass. The screen pass can be the Lions best friend.  With Jahvid’s speed and elusiveness he can get away from almost any defender    ^2.  The third and final key to having a successful Jahvid Best is Jerome Harrison’s presence in short yardage and goal line situations.  With a big physical back like Harrison who can take the pounding inside, it will give Best a chance to sit out some plays and not allow his body to take the beating, thus allowing Best to stay healthy. 

REASON 2: Lions Secondary 

MF: The Lions did a nice job filling the holes they had at linebacker with Steven Tulloch and Justin Durant. The issue last year, and still this year, is the cornerback position. Eric Wright is OK, but expect big play receivers to burn this secondary.  Unfortunately the Lions schedule has plenty of big time QB-Receiver combos this season. Aaron Rodgers-Greg Jennings X 2, Matt Ryan-Roddy White, Brees-Colston, Romo-Austin Miles/Dez Bryant, Rivers-Jackson, and to a lesser degree McNabb-Harvin X 2. Right there I named over half the schedule that can and probably will probably will burn our secondary, if Silver Crush doesn’t disrupt the QB timing.  Compound this with reason one and it’s easy to see why this team is going to have a tough time being an above .500 team.

RB: Detroit has arguably the best front seven in the NFL.  Yes the secondary is a little weak but if the front seven penetrates like they should and don’t give the QBs time to make their reads, the DBs will make plays.  Everything starts up front.  Third year DB Alphonso Smith is the perfect example of how a strong front seven can benefit the secondary.  In just 12 games last year Smith had five picks.  Smith’s interceptions came off of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Sam Bradford, Donovan McNabb and Mark Sanchez.  It doesn’t matter who the QB is, if the d-line and linebackers get through like they’re suppose to then the secondary will make plays.  As long as the Lions have the biggest, strongest and meanest defensive lineman in the league, the secondary will be in good shape.

REASON 3: Health 

MF: Health could be the biggest reason the 2011 Detroit Lions may not be anything more than a 6-10 or 8-8 team.  Remember it was May when Zach Follett called Matt Stafford a “China Doll”.  We have seen two straight seasons where Stafford has dislocated his shoulder.  Over his two year career he has been sitting on the pine more than he has been on the field.  Although Shaun Hill and Drew Staton put up valiant efforts when they were in the game; it doesn’t take even the most astute observers to see the tremendous down grade the offense becomes when Stafford is not playing. If you had to bet your life on the Lions being better than a .500 team would you trust that dislocated shoulder? Mind you he is the same division where he sees Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Jared Allen twice a season. Once a shoulder is dislocated it has an easier chance of popping back out.  Let’s just say I will be cringing every time I see Stafford take a shot. This along with the fact that Best, our best running back, has a bad health track record too.

RB:  When speaking about health and the Detroit Lions three names come to mind, Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus and Stephen Peterman.  Backus was responsible for injuring two quarterback.  He was unable to keep Stafford and Hill healthy.  I know you are going to say that Backus had a great year and he only gave up a few sacks.  This is true but it was two of those sacks that took out Stafford and Hill.  This is going to have to be a big year for Gosder.  In order for the Lions to Succeed he really needs to step his game up.  It’s his job to open holes for Best and keep Stafford on his feet. So far in his four tear career he has not quite been able to put it all together.  If this is the year Gosder finally gets it then watch out because at ‘6”7 325 he is the quintessential right tackle.  Finally, Stephen Peterman, what can I say about Peterman other than this guy sucks.  He is really a horrible offensive lineman.  What Schwartz should do in order to help keep his team healthy is move Big Jason Fox inside to right guard.  I believe that this is the best way for the Lions to remain healthy.  Having an o-line with Backus, Sims, Raiola, Fox and Gosder gives the team the best option to win.

Schedule:

 

Tampa Bay

MF: L-Close game but I’ll give edge to the Bucs.

RB: W-Suh will not allow LaGarett Blount to run anywhere and with an aging Ronde Barber and really no other great defenders I give the edge to the Lions 

Kansas City

MF: W-Matt Cassell head gets torn off by Suh. Come on he has to entertain the home fans somehow right? After the total domination from a home game.

RB: W-With all the hype surrounding the Lions this year Ford Field is going to be rocking and the Lions will not lose their home opener

Minnesota-

MF: L-Just something about being in the Metrodome and that creepy Viking mascot. Jared Allen and the defensive line of Minnesota give Stafford a hard time.

RB: W-This will be a lose one but if the Lions are healthy the Vikings won’t be able to keep up with the Lions Screen pass.  Stafford and Best could be like McNabb and Westbrook in their primes.

Chicago-

MF: W-Its Monday night football in the D. All Calvin Johnson catches in the end zone will be ruled TD’s by the ref as to make up for robbing last year’s game. 

RB: W-This is where the Lions show they are for real.  Put it on the front page, back page or middle page, it doesn’t matter.  The Lions will not lose on Monday Night.  I repeat: the Lions will not lose on Monday Night.

Dallas-

MF: W-Let’s just say Matthew Stafford burns his home town team a new one at the greatest stadium on earth.

RB: L-After a short week the lack of rest catches up with the Lions and they finally lose one.

San Francisco-

MF: W-Jim Harbaugh tells the press after the game. “Seriously guys we signed Alex Smith for one reason. To help us get Andrew Luck,”

RB: W-The Niners are improving but they aren’t there yet.  Another win for the Lions.

Atlanta-

MF:L-Who said nerdy white guys can’t ball? Doesn’t hurt to have dominant receivers in Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez. 

RB: L- Matty Ice, Michael Turner and Roddy White prove to be too much for the Lions.

Denver- 

MF: W-The Broncos have a new QB controversy when John Elway decides to suit up after the crap he sees behind the O-Line

RB: W- The Broncos have no true identity and no big play guys.

Chicago-

MF: L-Jay Cutler finally gives a damn for something outside his own selfish needs.

RB: L- The Bears will steal one at home.

Carolina-

MF: W-When your newly drafted QB has a problem reciting a play for Jon Gruden it’s a red flag. Steve Smith tells Cam after the game “I like you, but god damn you are stupid.”

RB: W- Easy win for the good guys.

Green Bay Turkey Day-

MF: L-They don’t call them the Champs for nothing. Rodgers gets rid of the ball quick enough that he won’t have to worry about being sacked by Suh and the rest of Silver Crush. Although that doesn’t mean Suh won’t take a shot anyways, he doesn’t mind 20k fines folks. 

RB: W-In both meetings last season the Lions gave the Packers a run for its money.  Another national game will give the Lions a chance to prove they are for real.

New Orleans

MF:L-Who Dat makes the Lions into Who Dem?

RB: L-The Lions are for real but they aren’t ready to take that elite step.

Minnesota-

MF: W-Donovan’s age finally shows up in this one.

RB: W-If all is right in the world the Lions will remain healthy and dismantle the Vikings again this season.

Oakland-

MF: W-Al Davis’s track stars realize there is more to the game then just running up and down a field. Can’t wait for the next top 40 time to be drafted by Al.

RB: W-The RRRRaidas are nowhere near the Lions level.

San Diego-

MF: L-A Norv Turner team during the back end of the schedule are generally impossible to beat, well until playoff time then they fold over themselves.

RB: L-Antonio Gates proves to be the X-factor.  The Detroit Native will have a ridiculous game and just beat up on the Lions.

Green Bay

MF: L-Did you know it was in 1991 the last time the Lions won at Lambeau. Let’s just say Lions continue this wretched streak of awfulness.

 RB: L-I agree with Feldman.  However it will be close.  The NFL didn’t schedule this game in the last week of the season for no reason.

OVERALL Record MF-8-8 RB-10-6

Conclusion:

This is an 8-8, Berlin believes 10-6, team this year and in the retched NFC that is possibly good enough to back into a wildcard spot. No one should be disappointed with the 8-8, or 10-6, record as it will be the the Lions first time being .500, or above .500, in almost 11 or 12 years. To come back from such a retched era as the Millen Era in only three years is an impressive feat. All credit should be given to Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz.  As I looked at the schedule I felt the Lions have a legitimate shot at beating all the teams on their schedule on any given day, but being a Lions fan and for reasons stated above I am not going to jump the gun on them^3.  They are building a nice core and adding slowly and patiently, like all great teams do. Lions’ fans will have nothing to be ashamed about this season, since this team will play with passion and hard work. They are turning the corner, but it’s too early to say this team has arrived yet. The future is bright for the Lions, but they still have a ways to go to become the team we always dreamed about.

 FOOTNOTES

1.    Since when does Robert Kraft’s opinion on football matter. Yes he owns one of the greatest franchises in the NFL over the past decade, but outside of that decade the Patriots never won a championship.  Mr. Kraft’s opinion is valuable on the amount of cheese I want on my macaroni noodles, but outside of that meaningless.

2.     I just got a boner.

3.    Ryan ate the cornbread and drank the kool-aid.  He believes and bleeds Honolulu Blue.

NBA v. NFL

In past couple of months both the NBA and NFL have dominated headlines. Both had lockouts this summer, although the NBA is still on-going and may be at risk for losing part of a season a la 1999 or the entire thing like the NHL in 2004. Both came off fantastic seasons with Dallas beating the Heatles, and Green Bay winning the Lombardi Trophy. To most Americans when asked which league is better, I would bet money a majority would say the NFL without  much thought.  Such a question posed to me isn’t so easily answered. These are my favorite leagues(not including college) to watch; which will be apparent by the numerous amount of blogs I write on them. To me there is nothing better than watching prime time Thursday TNT basketball or Sunday football. I decided to break down each aspect and truly get to the bottom of which league, IN MY OPINION, is the better one.

Battle of the Commisioners

David Stern took over the NBA in the late 70s-early 80s right in time for Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to fall in his lap. The league under Larry O’Brien was struggling financially.  Viewers were tired of diva players with coke problems that were running rampantly throughout the league.  Fans could not relate to the NBA’s players or even its superstar player, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, as he usually wanted nothing to do with the public or the media.  David took what was a struggling league and turned it into what eventually became a global icon.  Was he lucky that Magic, Larry, and Michael fell into his lap (of course!), but nobody had the insight to market their players like Stern did. No one at that time or currently knew how to maximize the marketing potential of their stars better than David Stern. Look at how Michael Jordan is still one of the most recognizable and still most popular athletes of all time.  When issues arised Stern was proactive. Take for instance, Houston in ‘83 and ‘84 tanking two years in a row to get Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. Stern came up with the weighted lottery system for the top three picks where the worst team had the best odds at 25 percent ^1.  He seems to be one of the few that has made his game extremely popular throughout the world and into the gold mine we call China, a marketer’s wet dream. Although NBA enthusiasts might call this a mistake since they ruin the All-Star ballot^2. Meanwhile Roger Goodell has taken over for Paul Tagliabue, who made the NFL into the real American pastime of the new decade. In Goodell’s couple years as commish he has taken over issues such as player safety by penalizing players for unnecessary illegal hits in order to protect QB, RB, and WRs; you know the people fans pay money to come see. He has also increased the punishment for players with off the field issues, due to the dozens of off field incidents that occured when he first took over.  Many players have recently voiced their opinions on ESPN stating they did not like him^3. Anyway Rodger Goodell avoided missing any real football games this off season by reaching a compromise of how to split the $9 billion surplus, let me repeat that. The $9 billion revenue of your money, which you received no discount on anything for enduring such lawyer buffoonery this summer.

Edge NBA(+1 point)

Clash of the Owners

 Sorry Michael Jordan, but the key to a successful franchise is to always start with stable ownership. The franchises that win and win on a consistent basis have an owner that knows how to build the type of team he envisions.  This owner holds his employees accountable for making such visions come true. For the sake of the blog, though we are talking about entertaining me, there isn’t a kookier bunch of owners than the ones in the NBA.  Mark Cuban is the ideal owner, he is someone who wants to be part of the game and leave an imprint. You can tell he sees the NBA in the prism of a fan, I mean what other owner consistently sits court side and runs up to refs to complain about a petty call; all sports fans wish they could do that without being escorted from the building. What other owner has been able to be part of an awesome reality show in Shark Tank, danced with the stars, and a regular in the past two seasons of Entourage. There is none. For entertainment and winning purposes, Mark Cuban is the ideal owner. He is spawning a new breed of owners in the NBA, I mean look no further than Dan Gilbert who is so passionate about his franchise he wrote a pretty hateful email when Lebron James walked out on Cleveland.  Could you see any of the NFL owners doing that? Hell even the new Pistons owner Tom Gores had a little too much to drink at a Pistons game.  Jerry Buss gave Magic Johnson a 25 year 25 million dollar contract, partly because he just loved to party with Magic so much; and probably because showing his connection to Magic got him laid even more. The NFL has Jerry Jones one of the top executives who actually knows what he is doing on the field. When Jerry is not happy heads role, and he isn’t afraid to let the media know he is dissatisfied. Not only that, but he has built the greatest stadium in all of sports; $1billion, that is more dough than some nations can even accumulate.  Jerry can show his lighter side too of course, kind of… Closest thing we have to a crazy moment from NFL owners was Titans owner Bud Adams flipping the bird. Jim Irsay has recently gone on a tweeting spree; someone please take away his twitter capabilities I can not stand the thought of a 60-year-old man sounding like a 10 year old girl, check out his twitter page if you don’t believe me. I can name almost every NBA owner because, they in one way or another seem to have a quirky personality. I can’t name more than a handful of NFL owners.

Edge: NBA(+1 point)

Confrontation of Coaches

It’s always been known the coaches are leaders of the team. Their team should embody the values and principles that he instills. A great coach should make be able to maximize his talent and make the collective sum better than the individual parts. The only problem is in the NBA this has no bearing whatsoever. In fact coaches are a dime a dozen^4.  The problem in the NBA is only a handful of coaches truly matter and it isn’t because of their X’s and O’s knowledge, instead it was the fact they mastered the art of balancing egos.  Only Phil Jackson^5, Pat Riley, Chuck Daily, Greg Poppovich, Red Auerbach^6, and Larry Brown actually made their teams better by being on the bench. On the other hand, the NFL has built numerous dynasties around coaches. The coach and the system he made are integral to success. When a part broke down it could be substituted by another and still function relatively well, which is crucial in football due to the numerous injuries. Coaches mattered look at the names Gibbs, Walsh, The Big Tuna, Belchick, Lombardi, Noll, and Ditka. Hell Walsh had two QB dynasties under Montana and Young, which proves in football its the system not just the talent that wins and wins consistently. Plus who doesn’t love laughing at Rex Ryan run his mouth nowadays…

Edge NFL(+1 point)

Rivalries

Sports need a major rivalry without it there is no marquee game to draw you in. The NBA at its zenith had numerous rivalries where teams hated each other. The best was of course Lakers vs. Celtics, which had developed back in the day of Jerry West and Bill Russell. It only intensified after a great NCAA tourney finals between Magic and Bird; two rivals who measure their greatness against one another. Magic and Bird met three times in the finals. Along with those in the 80’s 90s the East was stacked with numerous great rivalries between Celtics-Pistons, Pistons-Bulls, Bulls-Knicks, Pacers-Knicks, Kings-Lakers, Bulls-Heat and Spreewell-Carlisimo. In recent years we have had Shaq v. Kobe every Christmas and what appears to be the development of a Mavs vs. Heat rivalry. The greatest rivalry in the NFL is claimed to be Bears v. Packers. To be honest when they come on tv it doesn’t register any different from any other divisional rivalry in the NFL. The only real rivalry in recent memory has been Peyton v. Brady. To be honest Brady has owned Peyton in playoff victories against each other and in total championships. At the end of the day Peyton can have all those records because they are meaningless in the debate of greatness when you can’t compete in total ring count. But you also have to account all the current rivalries in the NFC East. Cowboys fans hate the Eagles, Redskins, and Giants fan. Hell remember the Snickers commercials. “Hey Strahan how bout dem Cowboys!” Then Strahan tackles the fan. Strahan exemplifies the hate between everyone in the division.  We don’t even have to mention how Rex Ryan is renewing the rivalries between Jets/Giants/Pats.

Edge NFL(+2 point)

Playoffs!? Playoffs!? We’re talking about Playoffs!?

The reason the regular season is played. We are comparing best of seven series over two to three months in the NBA to one and done in the NFL, in about a month. The playoffs in general are to crown the best team, but when you play one and dones it allows for wild cards to make runs(Champions 2010-11 Packers, 07-08 Giants and four other teams). Meanwhile in the NBA the format generally follows a predictable playoffs until the Conference Finals, due to the underdog team having to win four games; exception ‘86 Rockets, ‘99 Knicks, ‘94 nuggets, ‘07 Warriors, ‘11 Grizzlies. Of those teams only the Knicks and Rockets went farther than one round, case in point upsets are rare in the NBA and Cinderellas going to the finals are nearly impossible the way the format is set up. What makes sports fun is seeing the unfathomable, we want to see the ‘08 Giants hand the 18-0 Patriots a loss on the biggest stage. By far one of the best Super Bowls ever, even though all the excitement was in the 4th quarter. On top of that the Superbowl is a worldwide spectacle; corporations save up money to advertise. Other networks plan major events during half time to steal some viewers for a brief period before the game starts again. An NBA game seven in the finals could never come close to that. Give me the one and done.

Edge NFL(+2 points)

Pregame Shows

I am going to make this one simple any time you have Charles Barkley on your show like TNT does the hilarity just doesn’t stop. E.J., Kenny and C-Webb intermingle well and keep it informative and hilarious all at the same time. NFL pre game shows have become a celebrity spectacle of how many famous ex-NFL players/coaches can we cram into at the table until Bill Cowher’s chin pokes one of their eyes out. For every great analyst like Steve Young you have one knuckle head in Emmitt Smith or a Shannon Sharpe who looks and talks like a horse.

Edge NBA(.5 pts)

Cheerleader Combat

Such a hard category, I keep looking at more and more pictures from both sides and keep going back and forth. The thing is NFL cheerleaders have always existed and been a part of the game for God knows how long; hell they made a porno about a girl who will do anything to become a Cowboy Cheerleader. In the NBA it is a recent phenomena that started somewhere in the 80s with the Laker Girls.  Along with the fact there is more downtime in football to observe the cheerleaders.

Edge NFL(.5 pts)

Refs

The NFL refs seem to do an extremely good job compared to the NBA refs in getting the calls right. Whether its the fact they only have to pay attention for 10 seconds of actual play with 20 seconds of nothing between plays may help.  The difficulty in reffing NBA games is there is constant fast paced motion with only 3 refs to monitor 10 guys. Oh yea there was also a guy named Tim Donaghy.  Not to mention the extreme favoritism shown to the superstars.

Edge NFL(.5)

All Star Game

Seeing as most NFLers don’t even want to participate in the game, shows its meaningless in performance, but prestigious in honor. It’s hard not to blame them since football, no matter in what type of game can lead to injury, which could affect future earnings. Meanwhile the NBA turns it into a spectacle. You have the Slam Dunk Contest which recently has become more of an acting spectacle than you know, an actual dunk contest, thanks Dwight Howard. Other events like the player skills challenge, and the 3pt contest. Even though the game has no meaning come 4th quarter the player egos won’t let them lose.  All in, the NBA makes the best watchable All-Star weekend.

Edge NBA(+.5 points)

Play on Players

The main attraction, why the fans hand over the money to millionaire owners. What I love about the NBA is that you feel a connection with the players. You can tell when they are mad, ecstatic or pissed-off at the refs. It’s all out in the open.  They let their emotions out with facial expression and body language. The NBA offers the most recognizable athletes in U.S. sports due to the fact they are great marketing tools. Everything is transparent and visible to the fan’s eye rather than behind helmets and padding.  Basketball I say is like human poetry when played properly there is an innate flow, rhythm and beauty. It’s continuous perpetual motion that allows for non-stop action and constant scoring.  I don’t even have to mention the jaw dropping dunks and alley-oops these guys do.  Plus the players know how to work the room whether it’s on or off the court.  Who could resist Magic’s charm, the competitiveness of Jordan, the playfulness of Nash, the intensity of Garnett, the humor of Shaq or Charles or the wisdom of Russell. Lebron James made millions when people all over the world tuned in to watch “the Decision.” No NFL player could have such pull. Ron Artest caused a melee, admitted to doing drugs during his early career years and is in the process of changing his name to Metta World Peace.  I haven’t even mentioned Dennis Rodman or Charles Barkley. How many little kids in the 90s loved Space Jam with Jordan. The players just posssess personalities that draw you in. 

Meanwhile, the NFL is a man’s league. Who doesn’t love hits so hard it knocks the other player out; hits that make you curl up in a ball even though it wasn’t you taking the shot. The game planning of intricate defenses and offenses that few laymen can truly have a full grasp on.  The punishment these guys must go through in order to score.  A sport where it truly is a team dependent, rather than individual.  If one link fails the entire chain is ruined. The NFL makes you channel your inner warrior. Who doesn’t love creative TD celebrations like the numerous Ocho Cinco has done in his years at Cinnci or Steve Smith in Carolina. The problem is the NFL cracks down on such moments making it more difficult for real player-fan connections. Although wide receivers can be divas, they also provide excitement to the game on and off the field. Although talking about T.O. over the years did get pretty annoying. The problem is that most NFL players are too straight laced and professional; not saying I have a real problem with this, but where is the entertainment in that. I don’t want to hear Brady compliment Manning.  I want him to say something like “Of course I am the better QB I have three rings to his one. Look at my playoff records. Why is this even a debate!?” It’ll never happen. Like Bill Plaschke of the LA Times once said the “NFL” stands for the No Fun League. The NFL limits the kind of playful interactions they have on the field with fans as well as off, he explained.  Outside of T.O. and Ocho Cinco the league really doesn’t have too many oddball characters. The beauty of the league is it doesn’t truly need it to be successful.

Edge NBA(+2 points)

NFL 6 - NBA 5

So there you have it, I confirmed the American public’s perception of the two sports. The NFL eeked out a 50 yard field goal to win the battle. Although I love the NBA, in recent years it has been lacking the intense rivalries and do or die playoff excitement that the NFL has.  The NBA brings a kooky cast of characters that I love, but it needs some reworking. It needs to prevent player collaborations so that the small market teams like Cleveland, Sacramento, Indiana, Milwaukee, and Charlotte. These also need to be more efficient in the contracts doled out to players;shorter term and wiser spending. Along with incentives to stay with the team that drafted them. A problem the NFL never will encounter since even the small market teams are prosperous. All in all I still think the NBA is a great product as you can see above, but there is no denying the NFL its right as King of Sports^7

FOOTNOTES

1. The worst team since 1985 has won the rights to the number one pick 5 times; this does not include Cleveland this year since it was actually the Clippers pick, acquired by trading Mo Williams for Baron Davis and 10 buckets of KFC, which he ate on the plane ride over before the physical.

2. In fact if the NBA did not take Jianlian Yi (last seasons stats 5.6 pts and 3.4 boards, scream all star to you?) name off the ballot he would probably have been an NBA all star every year since entering the league.

3. Well unfortunately for you Ray Edwards and James Harrison, he is not paid to be your friend, but rather to be your boss. Plus when did it start becoming a big deal that a commissioner was not liked by his players. Most Americans hate their boss isn’t that just the American way.  

4. Every year at least five to seven teams fire their coach like clockwork. Ask Joe Dumars he is on his fifth coach in eight years. They use this as a way to get the fan interest back by blaming the previous coach.

5. People will say Phil was lucky to inherit Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but ask Doug Collins and Rudy Tomjanivich just because you have superstars doesn’t mean you can guarantee rings. Michael Jordan had trouble trusting teammates and Kobe Bryant needed to satisfy an desire to be the next Michael Jordan, only Phil knew how to reach both.  

6. No one was better at lighting up a stoogie and walking up and down the sidelines yelling at his players like Red. I think he only had 4 official plays he actually designed and let Cousy and Russell take care of the rest.

7. Until the rednecks take over and make NASCAR the King of Sports, god just shoot me now if that is the case…

Terrelle Pryor: The Wolverine Perspective