Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Look of a Champion

I hate to break it to you, but the Denver Nuggets will not win the NBA championship this year.

Believe me, there is no one more excited about their chances in the NBA playoffs than I am right now, but it’s just not going to happen.

I know I’m new to the area, but part of the reason I moved to Denver was to have the chance to experience professional sports at its highest level and the Nuggets have been right there for most of this season.

Chauncey Billups has brought some much needed leadership, Carmelo Anthony has developed a deadly outside shot, J.R. Smith has been on fire as of late, Chris Andersen has been a pleasant surprise off of the bench, and the entire team has been playing solid, fundamental basketball on both ends of the court all year.

And while this has been one of the Nuggets’ best seasons in recent memory, I unfortunately have to be the bearer of bad news.

They’re not going to win the championship this year for one basic reason.

It’s the same reason why Cleveland lost to San Antonio in the 2007 finals. It’s the same reason why Utah lost back to back titles to Chicago in the late 1990’s (and not because of Michael Jordan). And it’s the same reason why Houston won two titles in the mid 90’s (again, not because of Michael Jordan’s absence) and haven’t sniffed the NBA finals since.

It even goes beyond basketball.

It’s the same reason why the New York Yankees have won 26 World Series championships and it’s the same reason why the Montreal Canadiens have sipped from Lord Stanley’s Cup 24 times.

In all of sports – and especially in the NBA – championship success comes down to the uniforms.

Think about it. The teams that traditionally win the NBA title year after year usually sport a classic looking uniform and the squads that have trendy or gaudy threads spend the summer trying to reload or rebuild in vain.

In pro basketball history, you can only find maybe two champions from the modern era that have won a title with non-classic unis: the 1978 Washington Bullets and the 1979 Seattle Supersonics (and neither team currently exists as it did back then).

Ever since, we’ve had a steady diet of Lakers-Bulls-Celtics-Spurs-Rockets-Pistons championship parades at the end of every of NBA season and the one common denominator between those franchises is that they all have a very classic uniform.

So what makes a uniform classic? In my mind, there are four simple characteristics:

(1.) How long has the team had the uni? Teams like the Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, and Blazers more than qualify for this category.

(2.) The uniform can only have two or three basic colors. When you think of the Bulls, you think of red and white. When you think of the Knicks, you think of blue and orange. When you think of the Sixers, you think of black, silver, gold, red, white, and blue.

The defense rests.

(3.) The lettering on the jersey has to be simple, yet iconic – so basically the complete opposite of the Wizards, Warriors, and T’Wolves.

(4.) And finally, will the team still have the same uniform that they have now in five to 10 years? You have to believe that a lot of teams that have a trendy look now (i.e. Hawks, Mavs, and Jazz to name a few) will be updating again in a couple of years. Conversely, even though franchises like the Magic, Raptors, and Pacers have just recently gone to new uniforms, they would all be crazy to switch again any time soon because they finally have what’s shaping up to be the required classic look.

To further prove my point, look what happened to the Pistons when they went away from their traditional unis in the mid 90’s and experimented with that awful teal and burgundy travesty. They finally realized their mistake and where ultimately rewarded with another title trophy in 2004 after returning to their original look. On the flip side, the Sixers won it all with a classic uniform in 1983 as did the Rockets when they went back to back in ’94 and ’95. Both traded in the secret to their success and both have toiled aimlessly ever since.

Scientifically, I know there is nothing strong enough to back all of this up, but you have to admit that while once might be a fluke and twice might constitute a trend, 29 times in a row starts cementing a hypothesis as fact.

Back to the Nuggets. Their current uniforms are definitely more traditional looking than they have been in the past and I’ve been on the fence about them for a while now. I was beginning to lean towards anointing them as “classic” until my FiancĂ© recently delivered the death nail on the argument.

“They’re so cute!” she exclaimed.

I will support the Nuggets for as long as they last in this year’s postseason, but I can promise you that no NBA franchise will ever cut down the nets in “cute” uniforms.

All signs are pointing towards a potentially epic series between Los Angeles and Cleveland and even though it would be sweet to see King James get his first ring, the smart money would be on Kobe and the Lakers – if only because of the uniforms alone.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Is a Man?

*I recently saw the following in the newest issue of Esquire magazine and decided to post some of it (it was really long). And not that you would ever live your life by what a magazine says, but I liked some of the basic concepts. Check it out for yourself - JM

A man carries cash.

A man looks out for those around him — woman, friend, stranger.

A man can cook eggs.

A man can always find something good to watch on television.

A man makes things — a rock wall, a table, the tuition money. Or he rebuilds — engines, watches, fortunes.

He passes along expertise, one man to the next. Know-how survives him. This is immortality.

A man can speak to dogs.

A man fantasizes that kung fu lives deep inside him somewhere.

A man is good at his job. Not his work, not his avocation, not his hobby. Not his career. His job. It doesn't matter what his job is, because if a man doesn't like his job, he gets a new one.

A man can look you up and down and figure some things out. Before you say a word, he makes you. From your suitcase, from your watch, from your posture. A man infers.

A man owns up. That's why Mark McGwire is not a man. A man grasps his mistakes. He lays claim to who he is, and what he was, whether he likes them or not.

Some mistakes, though, he lets pass if no one notices. Like dropping the steak in the dirt.

A man doesn't point out that he did the dishes.

A man looks out for children. Makes them stand behind him.

A man has had liquor enough in his life that he can order a drink without sounding breathless, clueless, or obtuse. When he doesn't want to think, he orders bourbon or something on tap.

Never the sauvignon blanc.

A man welcomes the coming of age. It frees him. It allows him to assume the upper hand and teaches him when to step aside.

Maybe he never has, and maybe he never will, but a man figures he can knock someone, somewhere, on his ass.

A man gets the door. Without thinking.

He stops traffic when he must.

A man resists formulations, questions belief, embraces ambiguity without making a fetish out of it.

A man revisits his beliefs. Continually.

A man knows his tools and how to use them — just the ones he needs. Knows which saw is for what, how to find the stud, when to use galvanized nails. A miter saw, incidentally, is the kind that sits on a table, has a circular blade, and is used for cutting at precise angles. Very satisfying saw.

A man knows how to lose an afternoon. Drinking, playing Grand Theft Auto, driving aimlessly, shooting pool.

He knows how to lose a month, also.

A man listens, and that's how he argues. He crafts opinions. He can pound the table, take the floor. It's not that he must. It's that he can.

A man is comfortable being alone. Loves being alone, actually. He sleeps.

Or he stands watch. He interrupts trouble. This is the state policeman. This is the poet. Men, both of them.

A man loves driving alone most of all.

Style — a man has that. No matter how eccentric that style is, it is uncontrived. It's a set of rules.

He understands the basic mechanics of the planet. Or he can close one eye, look up at the sun, and tell you what time of day it is. Or where north is.

He can tell you where you might find something to eat or where the fish run.

He understands electricity or the internal-combustion engine, the mechanics of flight or how to figure a pitcher's ERA.

A man does not know everything. He doesn't try. He likes what other men know.

A man can tell you he was wrong. That he did wrong. That he planned to. He can tell you when he is lost. He can apologize, even if sometimes it's just to put an end to the bickering.

A man does not wither at the thought of dancing. But it is generally to be avoided.

A man watches. Sometimes he goes and sits at an auction knowing he won't spend a dime, witnessing the temptation and the maneuvering of others. Sometimes he stands on the street corner watching stuff. This is not about quietude so much as collection. It is not about meditation so much as considering. A man refracts his vision and gains acuity. This serves him in every way. No one taught him this — to be quiet, to cipher, to watch.

In this way, in these moments, the man is like a zoo animal: both captive and free. You cannot take your eyes off a man when he is like that. You shouldn't.

The hell if you know what he is thinking, who he is, or what he will do next.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

NBA Playoff Picks

I realize that I am one of the 18 people left on the planet that still cares about professional basketball. And I get it that for most of the season, a lot of the players kinda coast until the playoffs and I will admit that from 1999 until about 2005 or so, the NBA was pretty weak.

But now I would argue that it was one of the best sports going and we have an excellent generation of superstars emerging right before us.

I will take pro playoff basketball over the NCAA tourney any day because (A) when the pro players actually care it is the most exciting brand of basketball around and (B) really, how great was the NCAA tourney this year? Thought so.

Give the best being the best any day of the week.

I'm loving being in a pro basketball town for the playoffs this year (bought my Nuggets-Hornets Game 1 tickets today!) and I think we could be headed towards one of the greatest Finals in recent memory.

Here are my humble picks:


#1 Cleveland over #8 Detroit in FIVE games - I will give the Pistons one home win in the series)

#2 Boston over #7 Chicago in FOUR games - I believe Boston will want to make a point that they can win without KG

#3 Orlando over #6 Philly in FIVE games - Just don't like my Sixers in this one. Hope I'm wrong.

#5 Miami over #4 Atlanta in SIX games - When in doubt, go with the best player on the court.


#1 Lakers over #8 Utah in FOUR games - This one could get ugly quick.

#2 Denver over #7 New Orleans in FIVE games - I know Denver has struggled getting out of the first round lately, but neither team is the same squad they were a year ago. Advantage: Nuggets.

#6 Dallas over #3 San Antonio in SEVEN games - This is my one big upset in the first round. I like the way the Mavs are playing right now and the Spurs are prone to struggle without Manu.

#4 Portland over #5 Houston in SIX games - Portland is too tough at home and I think they will steal one on the road


#1 Cleveland over #5 Miami in SEVEN games - This could be a 2nd round classic that could really take the Cavs to the limit but I think Wade's lack of support will catch up to him in the end.

#2 Boston over #3 Orlando in SIX games - Even without Garnett, Boston still feels better than the Magic to me.


#1 Lakers over #4 Portland in FIVE games - This is a young and talented Blazer team that will learn a lot from this playoff experience and will be that much more dangerous in the years to come.

#2 Denver over #6 Dallas in SIX games - The Nuggets swept the season series with the Mavs and just matchup well with them. Making it to the conference finals would be a huge success for a Denver team that has struggled in the postseason as of late.


#1 Cleveland over #2 Boston in SIX games - I don't think that the Cavs recent whooping of the Celtics was any fluke. Cleveland is the Beast of the East this year.


#1 Lakers over #2 Denver in SIX games - I saw this matchup at the Pepsi Center last month and the ONLY thing the Nuggets will have going for them is that they are more physical than Los Angeles but I just can't see Kobe letting the Lakers lose


#1 Lakers over #1 Cleveland in SEVEN games - It would be weird to see LeBron sitting at 0-2 in the Finals, but after last season I just can't see Kobe letting another one slip through his grasp - especially if LeBron is named league MVP. I will be rooting for the Cavs with my heart, but can't go against my head in this one.

What an epic matchup this could be.

You can have UNC and UConn and Michigan State and whatever college team you want. I will take the big boys, please.

The Best From the Booth

The news of Hall of Fame broadcaster John Madden's sudden retirement from NBC's Sunday Night Football put a cap on what has been a sad and somewhat reflective week in the world of sports broadcasting.

First Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas passes away on Monday and now this.

And now we are left to speculate with some necessary caution and skepticism as to what voices we will be left with.

As I stated in my post the other day about Kalas, I always get nervous when a great broadcaster passes away or retires because they usually get replaced with a crappy one. I have a very bad suspicion that Chris Collingsworth with get the nod at the Peacock to replace Madden and I can't imagine a worse fate for Sunday Night football.

To me, broadcasting is a lot like officiating. When it's bad you really notice it, when it's good you shouldn't notice it, and when it's great, it actually adds a depth and richness to the game that you're watching.

For me personally, I will actually turn down the volume during a Joe Buck-Troy Aikman game (and that only get's more difficult during the NFL playoffs when the big games - including the Super Bowl - are on FOX because those two are somehow the network's "A" team") but conversely, I will watch any random AFC game on CBS when Dick Enberg is behind the mic.

I used to love a Jim Nantz college basketball broadcast but he has slipped a little for me in the past few years as he tries too hard now to find a creative play on words at every turn (it all started in 2005 when a Sean May-led UNC team won the title and Nantz poetically quipped, "The Tarheels win a tournament that started in March, concluded in April, and ended in May". Ugh. I have yet to forgive him for that one).

And I can't figure out why CBS still holds Gus Johnson back in their college basketball coverage (and NFL coverage for that matter) because he makes EVERYTHING exponentially more exciting than it actually is but still gets regularly relegated to a Univ of Washington-Gonzaga game or a Texans-Chiefs contest (and I STILL want to watch because of him).

I sent out a mass text today just wondering who are some of our favorite current broadcasters and I pretty much got the responses I expected.

A lot of people mentioned Bob Costas (even though he only does the Olympics anymore - I would give anything for him to call just one more World Series or just one more NBA Finals game). There were a few mentions of Nantz (and I do love his work for The Masters), Al Michaels, Jon Miller, Brent Musberger, and Marv Albert.

But most of those guys are broadcasting vets.

I feel like we are entering the end of one era and I'm getting a little concerned about the beginning of the next.

Who are the next great sports broadcasters and does that concept even exist? It is an interesting topic only because - like I said - when we are left to the Bucks, and Aikmans, and Collingsworths of the world, the entertainment value of the games we love does suffer for the worst.

And that only makes you miss the best from the booth that much more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Breaking Down the 2009 NFL Schedule Release

Well, if it's April then we must be getting ready for another NFL season already. I like how the NFL opens the new season every year with the free agency period at the beginning of March, the NFL schedule release in the early weeks of April and then the Draft at the end of the month.

It's keeps you invested the whole year.

I actually just sat through ESPN's brutal hour long coverage of the 2009 schedule release and a few things jumped out to me.

(Click here for the entire 2009 schedule)

First of all, I'm not really impressed with the Monday Night slate of games this year. The past few years, we've begun to see a migration of the good primetime games going to Sunday Night on NBC (especially with the flex schedule at the end of the season) and the JV list of matchups playing out on Monday Night.

Here are some of the Monday Night noteables:

- Miami plays twice on Monday Night in first five weeks of the season (at home vs. Colts in Week 2 and at home vs. Jets in Week 5).

- Denver plays on MNF twice in second five weeks (at Chargers in Week 6 and vs. Steelers in Week 9). Based on their list of opponents, I'm seeing a tough year ahead for the Broncos; but they did draw the Bengals (away), Browns (home), and Raiders (away) in the first three weeks so if they could somehow build up some confidence, these primetime matchups could be interesting.

- My Eagles make their only MNF appearance Week 7 at Washington.

- The Week 12 showdown featuring that New England at New Orleans should be fun.

- Jay Cutler could be fighting Adrian Peterson for the Black and Blue Division crown in Week 16 as the Vikings visit the Bears.

- The Cowboys and Super Bowl champion Steelers only make one MNF appearance each this year (don't worry, both have multiple primetime games)

Elsewhere, there are some very intriguing Week 1 matchups:

- Titans at Steelers (Thursday Night). I like how the NFL has gone to giving the opener to the defending champ and unless the Titans were one year wonders, this should be a good one.

- Eagles at Panthers. Tough opener for two teams that both had their seasons ended by Arizona in the playoffs.

- Dolphins at Falcons. Interesting game between two surprise teams from last year.

- Jaguars at Colts. Indy has a new head coach and it's always tough to start the season with a division game.

- Redskins at Giants. Again, someone will be down in the division race right out of the gate.

- Bears at Packers (Sunday Night). Cutler makes his Chicago debut on the road in another compelling division game.

- Bills at Pats (Monday Night). Maybe the best one on the list - we get T.O.'s Buffalo debut, T.O. vs. Moss, AND the return of Tom Brady all in the same game?? Nice.

Other Noteable games throughout the season:

- Steelers at Bears (Week 2). Cutler and the Bears could be 0-2 after this one if they don't look out or they could really be making a statement that they got the better end of the trade with Denver.

- Giants at Cowboys (Week 2). Dallas opens their new stadium against a tough division foe.

- Patriots at Broncos (Week 5). Hoodie Sr. and Hoodie Jr. face off in the Mile High City.

- Patriots at Colts (Week 10). Pats travel to Indy for the third straight year, but the first during this era without Dungy on the sidelines.

- Another bad bunch of games on Thanksgiving this year. Green Bay at Detroit, Oakland at Dallas, and Giants at Broncos. That third one has a shot at being decent, but who is in charge of picking these games every year? Terrible.

- I like Week 15's pre-Sunday games with the Colts at Jags on Thursday night and the Cowboys at Saints on Saturday night.

- Broncos at Eagles (Week 16). We have to wait until the second to last week for Brian Dawkins' return home to Philly?

Looks like it's going to be another great year of football. Can't wait for the draft next weekend and can't wait to get this season underway!

The Voice of My Youth

After doing just one season of play-by-play announcing for high school football on the radio, I know how ridiculous it is to try and sound interesting or compelling or unique.

I was terrible most of time and I think I progressed somewhere near halfway decent by the end of the end of the season; but the biggest lesson I learned that season is that you shouldn't try to create a special moment, just let it come to you.

I remembered that after hearing a Harry Kalas broadcast of a late season Phillies game that year.

Kalas is the only voice of the Phillies that I've ever known. My earliest memory of the Phillies and baseball and broadcasting is Kalas punching every syllable in "Mich-ael-Jack-Schmidt" with his smoky treble.

He got the Philly fans. He knew we were insecure and neurotic but he never played into the angst while remaining constantly aware that it existed. He served as a source of comfort even while the Phillies always seemed to fall short and as a beacon of hope as they made their magical run last season.

It just makes that World Series win last year a little more special today, if that's even remotely possible (see the link to the great piece about Harry in the "Mahler's Must List" to the right).

I get nervous when a good announcer passes on because they always get replaced by a crappy one - or even worse, a generic one. I guess no one smokes any more or no one drinks hard liquor any more because there are fewer and fewer distinct voices these days.

Joe Buck puts to much of his own opinions into the game and even Al Michaels has been trying a little too hard lately to create magic moments (and dwell on them for the next half hour) but guys like Jack Buck and Harry Kalas just let the game come to them (I can only wish network execs liked Gus Johnson more. I would let him call EVERYTHING if I owned a sports channel).

Finally, I can't believe I was at the last game Harry Kalas ever called.

I almost didn't go.

It was raining (literally it was the only rain I've seen since moving to Denver), I had to leave work early, and I had just seen the Phillies win the night before and didn't want to leave my perfect record up to Chan Ho Park (more on that later).

But part of the reason I had moved to a big city was to watch big league sports and getting to see the Phillies right around the corner two to three times a year as opposed to driving five hours to see them once a year seemed like an even trade for my record.

I'm glad I did now because I was there for Harry Kalas' last "outta here" call courtesy of resident Philadelphia folk-lore legend Matt Stairs (watch the video below and YES it is depressing that one Harry's last statements on the air was in reference to "Two and a Half Men").

My record is still intact but Philadelphia sports - and the sports broadcasting universe itself - has lost its voice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My MLB (Alternative) Predictions

Ahhh... There's nothing like sitting around doing nothing while watching an afternoon baseball game on your day off.

Right now I'm watching the Rockies rockin' the Diamondbacks 6-1 in the 8th and I'm just now realizing how happy I am to have baseball back (Colorado can really hit the ball, by the way. If they can piece together any kind of a pitching staff, they could be a really dangerous team - but more on that in a minute).

Real quick before I get to my personal predictions for the season, I have reflect one more time on how amazing this past Monday was.

Not only did UNC win the NCAA National Championship on baseball's opening day but Junior Griffey homered in his first game back with the Mariners AND the Spurs put my least favorite human being on the planet, Manu Ginobili, down for the season (meaning my blood won't be boiling during the NBA playoffs as Manu flops around drawing cheap fouls).

Now THAT'S a good day.

Ok, on the predictions. I was watching ESPN's picks the other day and I guess they feel some obligation to major TV markets because they all picked some combination of the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Mets, Cubs, and Dodgers.

And yeah, those are all good teams and yeah, most (if not all) will be there at the end but I'm shaking it up and making some alternate predictions this spring and you won't see any of those teams in my picks (hey, I'll look like a genius if any of them make it!).

AL East - Tampa Bay
AL Central - Cleveland
AL West - Oakland
AL Wild Card - Kansas City

NL East - Florida
NL Central - Cincinnati
NL WEST - Colorado
NL Wild Card - Atlanta

ALCS - Kansas City over Cleveland
NLCS - Florida over Atlanta

World Series - I have the Marlins over the Royals in a World Series that would make MLB and FOX executives agree to a homicide-suicide pact.

Play ball!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Living the High Life

Ok, so in the last six months I've (in chronological order):

- Seen the Philadelphia Freaking Phillies win the World Series and bring home the first Philadelphia sports title that I've been old enough to enjoy in my life time.

- Moved to one of the coolest cities in the world and now get to see pro sports live whenever I want (I'm going to see the Nuggets play the Kevin Durants tomorrow night and I'm going to see the Rockies host the WORLD CHAMPION Phillies on Saturday - Greatest!).

- Convinced Brian Dawkins to move out here with me.

- Gotten the Girl of my dreams to renounce any shred of sanity by agreeing to marry me.

- Seen one of my favorite UNC teams of all time blow out Michigan State in the NCAA Championship game which ALSO won me the office pool.


You would think most people would be just sitting back and enjoying the ride but of course I'm neurotic enough to keep wondering (A) why is everything going so well for me right now and (B) when is the bottom going to drop out.

I am about an Eagles-Broncos Super Bowl away from having to just retire from life and move into a cave just so that I decrease the chances of getting hit by lightning or a plane or another planet.

Hmmm... I really should take this lucky streak to Vegas!

A Whole Lot of Shining Moments to Remember

I'm not going to pretend to be a "die hard" UNC basketball fan for one minute.

I didn't go to the school and I have never lived in the state.

They have been the college basketball I have followed the most over the past 15 years - I keep an eye on their recruiting classes, watch a bunch of their games during the season, usually wind up picking them to win the tourney when they have a decent team, and yes, I even have a "Carolina" t-shirt that I picked up when I went to a game a at Chapel Hill a couple years back.

But I can't say that I bleed Carolina Blue or that my life is any better when they win a game or any worse when they lose (I save that torture for the Philly teams), because let's face it: rooting for Carolina is like rooting for a top Fortune 500 company. At the end of the day they're still rich and don't really care how you feel about them.

With that said, I do have to admit that I found some sick satisfaction in last night's title game in which the Tar Heels took Michigan St. to the woodshed in route to their fifth national championship.

This game was the 23rd championship game that I actually remember sitting down to watch (the first was the 1987 classic between Indiana and Syracuse - I was seven years old at the time) and I probably won't remember this one as an all time great game, but I will remember it.

In sports, you always have those championship games that are a little boring and a little anti-climatic; but like my buddy Paul said, it's always better to have an elite, historic team win that year than a nobody. At least Carolina won the final game of a relatively lack-luster tournament. If it had been a Utah, or a Villanova, or a team like that then of course those fans would remember it forever, but it probably would eventually fade from the collective mainstream memory.

As the years go on, we won't remember this game as a classic but we will instead remember this season as the year that UNC tied Indiana with five school championships, we will remember this season as the year Tyler Hansbrough capped off a solid collegiate career by cutting down the nets, we will remember this season as the year coach Roy Williams went from a great coach with one title under his belt to a legendary coach with multiple titles and now has as many school championship wins at North Carolina as Dean Smith (How did he go from the guy that couldn't win the big one at Kansas to the guy who wins one all the time at UNC?).

Sometimes that just happens in sports

I don't necessarily remember a lot from the Colts-Bears somewhat sloppy Super Bowl from a couple years ago but I do know Peyton Manning has a ring and sometimes that's all you need to retain.

Finally, of all the Carolina teams I have "followed", this group was probably my favorite - mainly because I didn't have a favorite player on the squad. The Stackhouse-Wallace team got me into Carolina hoops, the Carter-Jamison team solidified my support, and I was happy for the school when they won the championship in 2005 but was not a big fan of a lot of those players (namely May and McCants). But this was Roy's team. He had recruited all of these players and to me, they exemplified what a complete college team should look like.

I've never hated a player more than I hated Danny Green during his freshmen season but I was actually relieved every time he checked into the game this year. Can't say that I've ever seen more individual growth by one player over a four year career. Deon Thompson seemed very awkward and clumsy to me his freshman year a season later but now he is a monster down low. I'm hoping Ed Davis didn't play too well during the tournament to get any ideas about going pro because he looks like he could be a special talent for at least one more season in the Carolina Blue. Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson came in with Brandan Wright as a highly touted class and yeah, Wright might have the money in Golden State but does anyone in America really know his name like they now know Ellington and Lawson?

And finally there is Hansbrough. The prototypical college basketball player. He will get drafted by a pro team and I really wouldn't be surprised to see him find his way into a rotation and serve as a spark off the bench but his days as a dominant basketball player are more than likely over. I think he knows that too. He announced he was coming back for his senior season with out any hesitation last spring and he knew he had one last shot at reaching the apex of his basketball career and last night he did it.

These players will now leave and a new crop of McDonald's All-Americans will take their spot and some time in the not too distant future we will probably be talking about Roy Williams' third NCAA title - because, after all, that's just what Carolina does - but even though it was a blow out, I won't forget this one any time soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cutler Traded to Chicago

This just in from The Denver Post:

"The Broncos have completed a trade sending quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears, the team announced today.

In return, the Broncos received Bears' quarterback Kyle Orton and their No. 1 pick in this year's draft, the No. 18 overall pick. In addition, the Broncos received the Bears' No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, as well as a third-round pick from Chicago in 2010.

The Broncos traded Cutler and their first fifth-round pick in this year's draft."

I like it for both teams.

The Bears have felt like they were a legit quarterback away for the past few seasons and the Broncos will bring in a boat load of young talent that will have some time to learn and grow during what looks to be a rough season (have you seen their list of opponents??).

When I did my team-by-team list yesterday of who might be interested in Cutler, this is what I said about Chicago in the TEAMS THAT WANT CUTLER BUT MIGHT NOT HAVE ENOUGH section:

"Tampa Bay and Chicago. Both are very similar to the Jets in that they have all been playing the quarterback carousel the past few seasons and the Jets and Buccaneers both have new coaches; but the Bears have the 18th pick (and have not been known to go after any big fish recently) and the Buccs are sitting at 19. Maaaaybe the Broncos can get these three teams to start a bidding war and one of them will lose their minds (Don't really see Chicago in that mix though)."

Well... what do I know?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where Will Cutler Land?

Man, I love having the day off!

It gives me plenty of time to pretend I'm a GM and think about where current Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler could wind up.

I've heard almost every team mentioned as a potential destination this morning so I decided to take excess to the extreme and list every NFL team and why they would or would not want Cutler and I've broken them down into categories based on what would be best for Denver in return.


Detroit. I know the Broncs would love to have that #1 pick and wouldn't it feel like we were living in a Madden game if a player actually got traded for the first overall pick? The Lions just need so much help though, I can't see them giving up what Denver would need to make the deal happen (especially if that included a first rounder for next year).

Cleveland. We know that new Browns head coach, Eric Mangini, is not sold on Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn. We also know that Cleveland has the #5 pick AND they have a DT in Shaun Rogers that the Broncos could be very interested in. There could definitely be some workable combination there and the Browns play IN DENVER this season. Oh, can someone please make this happen?!

San Francisco. The Broncos would get Cutler out of the AFC and they could pick up the Niners #10 overall pick (which they would probably prefer because it would be less expensive financially). San Fran made a run at Warner, so we know they are in the market for an experienced QB. I like this one a lot actually.

Jacksonville. Similar situation to the 49ers above and they currently hold the #8 pick, so Denver would love to pick up a guy like Sanchez there and still get some defensive help at the 12 spot. The only reason I have San Fran higher is because I'm sure Denver wants Cutler out of the conference so they only have to deal with him once every four years - or in the Super Bowl (how sweet would THAT be?!).

Washington. The Skins seem to be gaining steam as a potential suitor in the media and anything is possible with Daniel Snyder at the helm, but unless Washington can wow the Broncos, the 13th pick might not be enough (read: Jason Campbell and the 13th pick is no where near enough) which leads us into the next category...


Minnesota. I don't know if the Broncos care about sending Cutler to a better or worse situation or not but if they didn't care and Minnesota had a higher draft pick (currently have the 22nd pick), I believe this would be a done deal. I still think it could get done if the Vikings lose their minds and offer Denver a boat load - oh, wait, didn't they do that once before? Sorry Hershel Walker.

New York Jets. The Jets went after Favre last year, so we know that they are capable of pulling the trigger, but the question becomes do they want to again. This time they would obviously be getting a much younger QB in return but would could they give up along with the 17th pick that would get Denver interested?

Tampa Bay and Chicago. Both are very similar to the Jets in that they have all been playing the quarterback carousel the past few seasons and the Jets and Buccaneers both have new coaches; but the Bears have the 18th pick (and have not been known to go after any big fish recently) and the Buccs are sitting at 19. Maaaaybe the Broncos can get these three teams to start a bidding war and one of them will lose their minds (Don't really see Chicago in that mix though).


St. Louis and Seattle. I called up my buddy Paul (Rams fan) this morning and asked him if he was the St. Louis GM would he take Cutler for Bulger and the #2 overall pick and Paul responded "absolutely" without any hesitation. You gotta think the same thing could work in Seattle (Hasselbeck and the #4 pick) because both teams have new coaches both have some good pieces already in place. I'm keeping my eyes on these two because those are the type of veterans you gotta think Denver would love to get back while they groom somebody new (there really wouldn't be any pressure on the Broncos to take a QB this year if they didn't really want to, just use both first round picks on defense).

Philadelphia. Why does it sound too plausible for the Eagles to trade McNabb and both of their first round picks (21 and 28) to Denver for Cutler? So help me, I will stab myself in the eye if I see that scroll across the bottom of ESPN in the next few days. You know what, let's just not even think about it... Moving on!


Dallas. Tony Romo just hasn't been able to get it done, and just like Daniel Snyder, Jerry Jones loves to make a splash - especially with a new stadium opening up this year. They don't have a first round pick though (traded it to Detroit in the Roy Williams deal) so I'm not sure what else they could throw in beyond Romo to entice the Broncos.

Carolina. I keep hearing the Panthers pop up because they have a nice trading piece themselves in DE Julius Peppers and the Broncos need all the front seven help they can get on defense. He is getting a little older though and they don't have a first round pick either (traded it to Philly).


Buffalo. Man would I love to see Cutler and T.O. teamed up together. They would have to get some cameras out to Buffalo and turn it into a reality show. They could potentially be the first teammates to yell at each other DURING A PLAY. I can see it now: "Cutler drops back to pass, Owens is wide open but Cutler throws into triple coverage to Lee Evans and the pass is intercepted! Wait, instead of chasing the defender, Owens and Cutler are now screaming at each other ON THE FIELD and it's a Jets touchdown!!!"


Cincinnati. I love Carson Palmer and I think the Bengals do to but what if they moved him and the #6 pick? I could see Denver getting into that and Cutler and Ocho Cinco could almost be as much fun as Cutler and Owens. If Marvin Lewis wasn't there and they didn't need so much help in other areas, I would have the Bengals higher.

Houston. I haven't heard the Texans mentioned much yet but why not? They could be looking to upgrade from Schaub who can't stay consistently healthy and they do have the 15th pick. They did go through this once before when they got Schaub so who knows if they will want to do it again.

Miami. I know the Dolphins keep telling everyone that they are grooming Henne for the future but you're telling me they wouldn't jump at Cutler for Pennington and the 25th pick? Unfortunately, I think there will be better packages on the table for Denver, but if Miami could sweeten the deal somehow, maybe it happens.


Tennessee. I know the Vandy connections would make this a preferred destination for Cutler but the Titans are trying to sort out some QB drama of their own. Do you trade Collins for Cutler and then let Jay start with an unhappy Vince Young in the background or do you trade Young and then Cutler and Collins fight it out after Collins had a pretty solid season. And the Titans only have the 30th pick to offer.

Oakland. I think the Raiders would love to get into the fray on this one because JaMarcus Russell just hasn't worked out so far, they've got a new coach and a new system and they have the 7th pick in the draft. But I think Denver would make Cutler the mayor of Bronco Town before they traded him to a team in their division.

Arizona. If the Cards had known that Cutler would have been available, maybe they don't resign Warner and try to work out something with Leinart. As it stands now, I don't see how it could work.


New York Giants, Green Bay, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and San Diego. All of these teams have stable QB situations right now - Eli won a Supe for the Giants, the Pack pretty much have to ride Rodgers out for a while now after last year, Brees has been great for the Saints, Big Ben now has TWO rings for the Steelers and the Broncos would never trade Cutler to the Chargers even if they weren't happy with Rivers. I guess I just don't see why one of these teams would want to get involved.


Atlanta, Baltimore, Indianapolis, and New England. I honestly believe that Matt Ryan and Cutler will be fighting it out for the title of best QB in the game in the next few years and the Ravens have to be more than happy with how Flacco progressed over the course of his rookie season. I know Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are aging - and I know Brady was injured this season - but they are consummate pros and they're not going (or shouldn't be going) anywhere.


Kansas City. How amazing would that be? Cutler traded straight up for the guy who started this whole mess, Matt Cassel. OH WOW! Plus they would play each other twice every season so there would be regular tangible evidence of who got the better end of the deal.

I need a cigarette just thinking about this one.

So there you go, somewhere in there is Jay Cutler's new home. I actually kinda hope it drags on for a while (at least until the draft at the end of the month) and there is tons of drama and almost deals just to make it a little more exciting.

Here's hoping!

Welcome to April, boys and girls. The fun has begun.