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The Cardinals and NFL Parity are Alive and Well

With Arizona’s big win over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night, one thing was clear as day to me.  Parity is alive and well in the NFL–and that’s both a good and bad thing.

Cardinals Equal NFL Parity

Cardinals Equal NFL Parity

First, let’s start with the good.  The Cardinals are a team that hadn’t hosted a home playoff game since, quite literally, Harry Truman was President–in 1947.  Arizona was mired in the muck of a suffocating losing culture.  The Cards–who were everyone’s “surprise/breakout team” for the past five years–continously found ways to disappoint and live far below expectations.

The idea that the Cardinals can turn that negativity into inspiration and take the entire league by storm is an immense accomplishment.  When the Cardinals didn’t take Terrell Suggs, people laughed.  When Matt Leinart seemingly struggled in Arizona, people moaned.  And when Edgerrin James appeared to be starting his retirement early, fans were filled with apathy.  But now, the Cardinals–who have never sniffed a Superbowl title–are now just one game away from playing in one.  That is the power of the NFL, and that’s why we love this game.  An underdog can become top dog with hard work and preparation.

But there’s a downside.  A big one.  While it’s great to see a team like Arizona go from rags to riches–what does that say about the rest of the league?  Afterall, the Cardinals only won nine games this season.  Contrast that to the Titans–who won thirteen–and were bounced out of the playoffs after just one game.

Let’s also not forget how the Cardinals finished the year.  They lost four of their last six games–their two wins coming against the Rams and the Seahawks; their losses all coming against playoff teams (except the Patriots, who should’ve went to the playoffs with an 11-5 record).

So how does a nine win team go into Carolina–a team that was undefeated at home–and make the Panthers look like an expansion team?  Well, certainly film study helped a lot.  It was clear that the defensive backs of Arizona were reading Jake Delhomme and properly jumping the routes of the receivers.  Arizona, over the past few games, has also developed a running attack which has served them well in the absence of Anquan Boldin.

And while the famous words of “any given Sunday” are always relevant–this wasn’t supposed to happen.  While no team “deserves” anything, based upon the way the Cardinals played in the regular season, do they “deserve” to be in the NFC Championship game?  This is the same team that benefited tremendously from a weak NFC West division.

Unlike the 2001 New England Patriots who were a genuine Cinderella story–starting quarterback Drew Bledose goes down, Tom Brady steps in, and the team doesn’t miss a beat–the Cardinals weren’t a strong team throughout the season.  In 2001, the New England Patriots took a team with zero star quality and simply out played and outcoached their competition each week.  And while they were disrespected every week and never given a chance all the way to the Superbowl, you never got the sense that the Patriots didn’t earn their right to be there.  One has to wonder this with the Cardinals.  Aside from two wonderful playoff games, have they earned their way into the NFC Championship game?

And therein lies the issue with parity.  It’s wonderful because it allows competition in every division and at every position.  It’s not so wonderful, though, because the difference between the great teams and the okay teams is quite negligible, and, unlike in decades past, a team of perrenial losers can beat a team destined for the Superbowl.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips to get Your Girl to Watch Sports in 2009

As the year ends, sports viewership continues to rise. With classic moments such as:

-Basketball Rivals Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers Go Head-to-Head
-New York Giants Stomp Unbeaten New England Patriots in the Superbowl
-Nadal Defeats Federer in Five Sets
-Michael Phelps Drowns Swimmers with 8 Medals

Green Bay Packers Sports Fan

Green Bay Packers Sports Fan

Who wouldn’t have wanted to watch male-testosterone, competition based events with sweat, anger and adrenaline? Your significant other you say…? Well, if you missed out on 2008’s greatest moments, you may want to make sure the love of your life is ready for 2009. You sacrificed enough if you missed ANY of the above mentions. Do not let yourself get trapped into the ballet, babysitting or watching chick flicks like Mean Girls.

Follow the steps below and you just might catch some action on the tube…Or live if you’re lucky. Hell, you may even get to go to a Superbowl party early next year if you take this matter seriously.

Barter with Her:
You’re always forced into doing things with her, why can’t she reciprocate? Tighten your belt and voice your thoughts. Spend an evening with her going shopping so she can spend a day with you watching a game. If that doesn’t work, beg to do housework.

Keep Her Comfortable:
If bartering was tough, chances are she’s going to need a lot of time to warm up to the concept of competition. This isn’t drama to see which girl can outdo the other in b*tch@$ness, this is the result of gladiators hard at work. For her first few viewings, make sure you’re in a quiet setting so her ears aren’t pounding from raging drunken men at bars. Allow her to chill and learn the game – Yes, this means you have to explain it to her. Not ideal, but at least she’s open to it now.

Remind Her It’s Quality Time:
Whether you’re watching the game or getting pedicures, in the end it’s quality time that matters. Assure her that you’re not just into the game (even if you are) and that you would like the best of both worlds…As would she.

Watch Eye Candy Sports:
Let’s face it, women love fantasizing about men just as much as we love wet dreams of XXX models – The only difference is their fantasies are more likely to happen. Ask your significant other who she’s fond of and watch that athlete’s games. David Beckham? Tom Brady? Kobe Bryant? Let her watch him as you watch the rest of them. She may be watching for a completely different reason, but hey, at least she’s shut up and allowing you to do your thing.

Develop Emotional Ties:
Did she go to a college with a good athletics program? Is she passionate about her hometown or residential city? Let her get attached to the teams so she wants to watch them play.

Play with Her:
Toss the ball around and teach her the skills needed to play the game. She just may understand what its all about and join in the fun. She might even become your cheerleader for when you play pick up games.

Buy Her Gear:
Be sure to buy her team attire. It’s a whole different ball game for a fan when they’re representing a team. Buy her a cute jersey, sweatshirt or better yet a thong with her favorite team’s logo. Who knows what the excitement could lead to…

Good luck and Happy New Year in advance!


Skrybe – Keep it Fly

December 30, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, College Football, Features & Opinions, General, NBA, NFL, Olympic Sports, Soccer | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That’s the Way they Became the Brady Bunch

It’s over – For those of you who thought Tom and Gisele would eventually part ways, it’s not going to happen.  According to several reports and TMZ, Patriots QB Tom Brady proposed to supermodel Gisele Bundchen while flying a private jet on Christmas Eve. 

They were headed from New Jersey to Massachusetts with four dozen white roses, champagne and two Brazilian parents on board.  Tom asked if she would join the Brady Bunch (not in those exact words)…And well…The rest is a common man’s nightmare.  Not that any of us would stand a chance, but the mere hope of seeing her on the market has now vanished.  Dreams have been tainted.  Fantasies have been exploited. 

Usually we don’t see athletes seriously settling down, but this was a good look for Brady.  The woman happens to be a tall, Victoria Secret supermodel with the ability to rake in $30-some million annually.  Compare that to Brady’s $18 million, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide b*tch.  One that wears the pants and is quoted as being the world’s richest supermodel.   

Power couples usually don’t last (i.e. Madonna/Guy Ritchie) but I’m giving this one a lifetime.  Brady doesn’t seem like your typical athlete sprung off women and Gisele’s got that Brazilian culture on lock.  But since many of you will be reading this and saying “what the f*ck is wrong with you?” and “Explain her sense of culture when it came to posing half nude”, I’d like to know how long you think it’ll be before sh*t hits the fan.

Skrybe – Keep it Fly

I assumed youd rather look at Gisele than Both Gisele and Tom or just Tom.

I assumed you'd rather look at Gisele than Both Gisele and Tom or just Tom.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Athletes of the Decade – 2000’s

The holidays are upon us, and with this comes the impending doom of lengthy credit card statements, bone chilling winters, and the inevitable dinner table family debacles.  My younger years were spent watching my father and grandfather quarrel about political issues, whereas nowadays, with no political depth,  I spend those dinners disputing the athletic prowess of my generation’s players versus those of yesteryear with the Ol’ Man.  For every Lebron, I hear the Big-O.  For Peyton Manning…Johnny U.  Say Albert Pujols, Mickey Mantle, and so on.

With this insistence on us needing to rank our athletes of today within a historical reference, these “Top 10” lists have become second nature to us.  I can remember 1999 bombarding us with enough Top 10 lists to spin my head around 3 times and soon after view everything in Top 10’s, Shawn Kemp’s Top 10 illegitimate kids, Oprah’s Top 10 weight classes, Tyra Banks’ Top 10 profound statements…you get the picture. 

So, with the first decade of the 2000’s coming to an end, lets get a jump on the matter and preview the Top 10 Athletes, across the board, of the 2000’s.

10. Ichiro – Come on…remember how he burst onto the scene in 2001 throwing Terrence Long out as he attempted to advance to 3rd, therefore causing every MLB player to think twice from there on.  In 8 seasons, he has 1805 base hits, never less than 200 and a career batting average of .331.  Oh yeah, in those 8 years, 8 All-Star appearances, and 8 Gold Gloves.  I repeat…come on!

9. Ladanian Tomlinson – Outside of Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders, has to be the best of all-time at his trade.  If there is a TD record out there LT either holds it or will.  Fastest to 100 TD’s all-time, 31 TD’s in one year and more than 15,000 yards from scrimmage in 8 seasons..clearly he belongs on this list.

8. Peyton Manning – With the decade not even over, Manning has thrown for 37,295 yards, 277 TD’s to 123 INT’s, and has led his team to a 100-43 record.  Manning is immersed in day-to-day disputes over not only being the best QB of this generation, but gets his share of votes for being the best of all time.

7. Zinedine Zidane – Sure, we could argue Ronaldhino, Luis Figo, Ronaldo and so on, but Zidane has been the most consistent and dominating player in the world this decade.  Zidane led France to victory in the Euro 2000, was dominant for Real Madrid from ’01-’06, retired, came out of retirement to lead France in the 2006 World Cup, and is the only man I have ever seen knock someone to the ground by head butting him…in the chest!

6. Lance Armstrong – Clearly the most dominating athlete in the history of cycling, Armstrong came into the decade with a Tour de France victory in 1999, then won his 2nd in 2000, and 2001, and 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005..yes, that is 7 and 7 straight!  Oh yeah, he did all of this after beating cancer!

5. Michael Schumacher – In a similar fashion to Mr. Armstrong, Michael Schumacher came into 2000 and started it off right, with a Formula One World Championship, his first with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. He followed this up in 2001 with another championship, then 2002, then 2003, and yes, 2004.  Dominant!  In 2005 and 2006, he didn’t win, but he finished 3rd and 2nd overall respectively.

4. Kobe Bryant – Let me remind you that this list is the Top 10 Athletes not Top 10 Classiest, Chivalrous, Team-Oriented, contributors to a better society.  With that said, in the decade of the 2000’s Kobe has 3 NBA championships, 6 NBA 1st Teams, 6 NBA Defensive Teams, 2 Scoring Titles and 1 MVP.  He is a highlight reel on any given night and is the only player I have ever heard to be argued against Michael Jordan as the NBA’s greatest of all-time.

3. Tom Brady – The decade started off by being drafted in the 6th Round only to hold a clip board and rank fourth on a depth chart behind Pro-Bowler Drew Bledsoe as well as Michael Bishop and John Friesz.  Then came September 23, 2001, soon to be a recognized Holiday in the New England region.  Brady took over and led his team to the first of 3 Super Bowls.  In 2007 he threw for 50 TD’s and finished with a QB rating of 117.2 Rating, while ALMOST leading his team to a perfect 19-0 season.

2. Michael Phelps – I can tell you that Phelps has won 14 Gold Medals over the past 2 Olympics and we could leave it that.  But, that might lead one to think that is all he has done, so in fairness lets add 7 American Swimmer of the Year Awards, 5 World Swimmer of the Year Awards, 40 overall Gold Medals, including the Pan Pacific and World Championships, and 1 2008 Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” award.

1. Tiger Woods – We can spin this list to be Athlete of the decade, the last 15 years, last 20 years, or maybe even of all-time, and your going to get a strong case for Tiger Woods.  Let me say this, I LOVE Jack Nicklaus…but Come ON!  It cant even be a debate anymore.  Tiger has been the PGA Player of the Year 9 times, and he is only 32 Years old…Nicklaus won it 5 over his career.  Tiger has won 14 Major Championships, 12 of them coming during this decade.  Quite simply, Tiger is the best athlete of this generation…sorry MJ.

Honorable Mention: Ronaldo, Annika Sorenstam, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Ronaldhino, Sidney Crosby, Lebron James, Albert Pujols , Brett Favre, Shaquille O’Neal, Barry Bonds, Jimmie Johnson, and Roger Federer.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Le’Ron McClain wins one for Le’Ron McClain

Way to win your fantasy league... with yourself, LeRon.As an avid fantasy football player, I have often found myself baffled on Sundays. It seems that no matter HOW much time and effort I put into studying and crafting my team, eventually dumb-luck will come to bite me in the a$$. How in the world have I lost certain weekly match-ups by the faltering of stars like LT, Tony Gonzalez and Brandon Marshall? How is it possible that random ‘Joe Shmoes’ such as Steve Breaston and Mewelde Moore have been my Achilles Heal?

Then it hit me.  It was so obvious. My fantasy heartbreaks this season haven’t been a result of “dumb-luck” but , rather, to something I can’t control. NFL players and coaches play fantasy football, and inevitably they are able to manufacture their own “fantasy wins” thru minor manipulations in “real games”

My theory was proven Saturday nightduring the Baltimore v. Dallas game.  All that the Ravens needed to do to secure a victory with 1:33 left in the 4th quarter and a 26-24 lead was get a first down, keep the ball in-bounds and run the clock out. From their own 18 yard line, Le’Ron McClain took the ball up the middle, unscathed, and ran 82 yards for a touchdown. Although this put the Ravens up 9 points, getting into the endzone actually GAVE the Cowboys a chance to win by allowing them to get the ball back . Most coaches will tell their players in a situation like this to take a knee once they have a first down. Watching the replay, you can even see McClain’s teammate Mark Clayton pointing to the ground, telling him not to score. So why did Le’Ron McClain selfishly punch it in for 6 instead of playing it safe? Easy. Le’Ron McClain was starting Le’Ron McClain on his fantasy team and he needed extra points.

This triggered the immediate research for all the other instances this year where the performance of a player or outcome of a real game was the result of someones desire to win in fantasy football.

* When Peyton Manning put up a meager 125 yards and 2 INTs in week 13, he was obviously “throwing” the game because he was playing somebody that had HIM in fantasy.

* When the impotent Patriots third string running back, Lamont Jordan had 2 TD’s and 78 yards this week, it was transparent that Coach Bellicheck was playing God in his own fantasy league.

* Coach Marvin Lewis (Bengals) bolstered this argument by allowing (scrub) Cedric Benson carry the ball 38 times in week 16 (7 carries below all time record). Think Lewis was starting Benson in fantasy? I do!

* Why do you think Tony Romo has recently started neglecting his star receiver T.O. (the topic of much controversy in Dallas)? Isn’t it obvious that Romo traded away Owens in his high-stakes fantasy league?

And the biggest kicker…

* Tom Brady undeniably wanted to vacation with Gisele Bundchen all season instead of playing ball. Thus, Brady drafted Matt Cassel in his fantasy league and faked a season ending ACL/MCL injury. He is now in first place in fantasy football, beating the guy who drafted…Tom Brady.

Think I am crazy and this is a completely discredited theory??  Click here to watch the Washington Redskins host a fantasy football draft.

 And that’s what STATDRAGON is breathing fire about…

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Fantasy Football, NFL, Stupid Athletes, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment