Friday, May 1, 2015

Mayweather--Pacquiao Fight Fixed? You Bet It Is






Is the mega-million-dollar superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fixed? Damn right it is.

There have been rumblings for months, from deep in the bowels of the gambling-boxing-gangster underground, that things will go according to a script in this fight. Forget who's the better fighter. Forget who has the longest reach or superior footwork or the quickest, deadliest jab or who's more skilled at dodging jabs. None of that matters. It would matter if this was just fighter against fighter. But that's not what this match is all about. It's about money, about business..

What matters in this case is the business of boxing. What will happen in this fight is what's best for business, what will make the most money for those involved, what will make money for gamblers who know the script.

A Pacquiao victory makes sense, since it would set up a rematch, which would be the best thing for the sport.

There's another fortune to be made from a rematch. If good guy Pacquiao whips bad-boy Mayweather, that would set up a lucrative rematch. Mayweather would win that, setting up a third, best-two-out-of-three bout. Fans would be enthralled, the pay-per-view business would be booming and boxing would be, for the next year or two, a prominent sport.

But if Mayweather wins easily, boxing is dead. It's that simple.

Here's the problem. Boxing, a dominant American sport in the first half of the 1900s, is on its last legs in this country. Most of the American public doesn't give a damn about it. So, after this huge Mayweather-Pacquiao payday, boxing would be dealt a knockout blow if Mayweather pummels Pacquiao. These are the only fighters who matter on a national level. Pacquiao is the only fighter who has a chance against Mayweather, who has already announced he'll quit after one more fight, one that he'll certainly win since, after Pacquiao,  there's no real competition. That would mean no more big pay-per-view bouts. Mayweather could retire.undefeated, at 49-0. But his chances of making millions would also retire. Mayweather, who's made $420 million in his career, is a notorious spendthrift, like Mike Tyson was at his worst. Insiders insist that he's a candidate for bankruptcy. So money-hungry Mayweather surely doesn't want to derail the gravy-train.

Is fixing a fight possible? Of course. What nearly destroyed boxing in the last half century is flagrant corruption--bribing officials, boxers taking dives, etc. You think those shady elements have abandoned the sport? No way. People who know how to make a dive look good are still around. Fixing a fight is much easier than fixing a basketball or football game since there are fewer people involved.

By the way, if Mayweather wants to win this bout, he could do it. According to knowledgeable insiders, against a dedicated, focused Mayweather, Pacquiao wouldn't have a prayer.

A Mayweather win is a victory for honesty. But it's also a victory for stupidity since it would deal a death-blow to the sport and eliminate the possibility of a big-bucks rematch, taking money out of Mayweather's pocket. There's a crooked plan in place. Mayweather just has to follow the script.

Does honesty or corruption rule in this fight.? I'm betting on corruption.







Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Winston vs Mariota? Winston By a Mile







All this fuss about which Heisman Trophy QB should be No.1 in Thursday's draft, Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, is wasted energy. It's obvious. The Tampa Bay Bucs have the first pick and they should use it to draft Winston.

Why? Because he's more ready to be a pro QB than Mariota. He's a version of Andrew Luck when Luck was coming out of Stanford. He's linebacker-size, can make all the required throws and is fairly elusive for a big man. Ignore all the arguments that makes Mariota look equal to Winston. He's not. Mariota is a super scrambler and has terrific speed but those qualities don't make him equal to Winston. Mariota is not nearly as accomplished a passer. According to some expert observers in the NFL underground, Winston is already better than half the QBs in the league and he hasn't even been to a NFL camp. These observers see Mariota as a potentially decent QB after several rocky years in the league.

Being drafted by Tampa might be lucrative but it won't be any fun. This Tampa team is a mess. The QB picked by Tampa is stepping into a disaster area. Without question he'll get off to a slow start. They have a horrible offensive line and no first-rate power RB to take the pressure off the rookie QB, who is going to be battered unmercifully. Winston comes from a Seminole system that's closer to what's run in Tampa and other pro teams. He can adapt faster to the Tampa system than Mariota. In his first few years at Tampa, Winston would unquestionably be a more productive QB than Mariota.

Here's what's wrong with Mariota. Yes, he can make the throws used to measure a QB's arm strength and can make them accurately. Yes, he's a good citizen. But too many are blinded by his speed and athleticism. They think those special qualities make him a better prospect. But they are overlooking and woefully downplaying something crucial and obvious. He has to unlearn so much from all those years in Oregon's QB-friendly spread system. That's MAJOR. That system, which works well against less skilled college defensive players, is designed for easy reads by the QB and gets receivers open quickly. For a fast, speedy QB like Mariota, it's a dream situation. Arguably he's the best spread QB ever. Like any good college spread QB he piled up great numbers against modestly talented college players. But it's way different in the pros, without the comfort of that system, which allows the QB to start a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. In the NFL the receivers won't be as open and the reads will be a lot tougher. Another rap against Mariota is that, against the best college defenses, he made slower reads and, faced with a strong rush, abandoned the pocket way too soon. In the NFL such tendencies would sidetrack offensive threats.

Oregon is not a QB factory. That system masks all sorts of weaknesses that show up when Duck QBs transfer to the pros. Look for Mariota, like all spread QBs making the transition to the NFL, to struggle early on. If he starts out in Tampa, with those crappy offensive players, he will REALLY struggle. Wherever he goes, Mariota will stumble his first few years. He's also very likely to get injured. No way will he be a good pocket passer right away, so he'll rely more on running, which is more dangerous in the NFL because the defensive players are so much bigger, stronger and faster.

While he's a far better choice than Mariota for Tampa, Winston does have his flaws. For one thing, he threw 18 interceptions last season, which is a serious red flag. Also, he's very immature, with the mentality of a college frat boy. What you read in the media was the tip of the iceberg. A lot more problems were handled quietly, without media scrutiny. In some ways he's a more talented version of Johnny Manziel. That juvenile mind-set might have a lethal effect his work ethic, which could hurt his rookie season.

But if Winston, who's loaded with talent, approaches his job with some maturity and works reasonably hard, he'll have a decent season and be far more productive for the Bucs than Mariota would ever be.









Friday, April 10, 2015

How Boneheads Baalke and York Ruined the 49ers








To angry Niner fans, San Francisco 49ers' general manager Trent Baalke and owner Jed York are
irresponsible, short-sighted egomaniacs who put themselves before the team. Their colossal blunder has set the Niners back three-to-five years. It's becoming more and more clear that this is a broken team--and these are the jokers who broke it.

Their stupid move? Firing head coach Jim Harbaugh at the end of last season. It was completely unwarranted. Riddled with injuries and unsettled by the looming loss of their coach, the team stumbled to an 8-8 record and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in Harbaugh's four years as coach,  But his first three years were incredible. He's the first NFL coach ever to reach the conference championship game in his first three seasons on the job. That record alone should have bought him several more years as Niners' head coach.

But here's what got him fired. Baalke and York had been butting heads with him all last year. It was no secret that they hated each other. Harbaugh had little respect for either of them, considering them meddling clowns who were full of bad ideas and were constantly interfering with his efforts to do what he thought was best for team. Make no mistake, Harbaugh is surly, hard-headed and hard-boiled, with limited "people" skills. He's a rigid no-nonsense guy who doesn't massage egos or play office politics. But he's also a great coach.

Harbaugh considered Baalke and York clueless obstacles and treated them as such. They couldn't stand that. By last summer it was clear that Harbaugh was done as the Niner coach. Baalke and York weren't going to put up with a coach who disliked and disrespected them. No matter that Harbaugh was the team's best coach since the great Bill Walsh and one of the two or three best in the history of the franchise. No matter that, in just a few years, he had transformed the Niners from doormat to powerhouse by emphasizing rushing and killer defense. But even winning a Super Bowl couldn't have saved Harbaugh's job.

Harbaugh was a lame duck last season and the team knew it. Consequently, the locker room was a land mine of emotions. Players aren't going to perform well in an atmosphere riddled with uncertainty and toxicity. Key injuries, particularly to the line-backing corps--the heart of the defense--didn't help. Under those circumstances, coupled with a power surge by teams in their division, an 8-8 season was pretty good.

Bottom line--Baalke and York screwed up. They dumped an excellent coach because they couldn't get along with him. Harbaugh is like many great coaches--difficult to get along with and more than a little crazy. Vince Lombardi was a mean-tempered bully who was hated by everyone. Bill Belichick is an abusive ass who treats people like pawns. Bill Parcells was like that too. Tom Landry was arrogant and nasty. So is Nick Saban. But this is the cream of the coaching crop. They're hard to get along with but they win and win and win. Their bosses should just accept that they are miserable bastards, leave them alone and let them go about coaching. But Baalke and York couldn't do that.

Replacing Harbaugh with a first-rate coach would have been acceptable. But there was a problem. Top coaches weren't interested in the Niners. Word was out in coaching circles that working for Baalke and York is no picnic. Why would a first-rate coach, with other options, go to a place where a giant like Harbaugh got the boot for a stupid reason like a personality conflict with the bosses?

So what did Baalke and York do? They hired an underwhelming, inexperienced nobody, Niner defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. They replace greatness with an obscure position coach whose only head-coaching experience is leading the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe for ten games, winning six, in 2006. This guy isn't dynamic, has little credibility and doesn't command respect the way Harbaugh did. That superb coaching staff assembled by Harbaugh? Mostly gone. Tomsula has been hiring a new staff. So far, however, none of the new coaches has been that impressive.

Meanwhile there has been a blizzard of changes involving key players. Workhorse RB Frank Gore, the heart and soul of the team, signed with the Colts. Pro-Bowl offensive guard Mike Iupati jumped to division rival Arizona. Top-notch linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland have retired, while defensive end Justin Smith is considering it.. Defensive end Ray McDonald left to join the Bears. The status of  super LB NaVorro Bowman, who missed last season with severe injuries, is uncertain. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who has been shopping himself around the league, has one foot out the door. None of the recent Niner signees, like RB Reggie Bush and WR Torrey Smith, are game-changers. Meanwhile, in the midst of all these changes, struggling QB Colin Kaepernick, who will be operating behind a much weaker offensive line, has to reverse his drastic regression. Don't be surprised if he has another lousy year.

This is a team in turmoil. If Harbaugh was still in charge, he could, while fighting off Baalke and York, probably successfully navigate the Niners through these troubled waters. But can the new guy, Tomsula, do it while he's learning how to be a head coach and busy earning the trust of skeptical players? Wouldn't count on it.

What Niner fans can count on is a mediocre season. In fact, don't count on a good season for at least the next two or three years. The Niners will be in rebuilding mode. With boneheads at the helm, though, you can imagine how that's going to go.










Monday, March 23, 2015

UCLA Coach Steve Alford, Good or Lucky?








All UCLA fans aren't cheering about Steve Alford coaching the Bruins into the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row with a convincing 92-75 win over Alabama-Birmingham. The detractors are the legion of Alford haters. They're bitching and moaning because he now boasts two Sweet 16 appearances in two years at UCLA. Alford, whose job was in danger just weeks ago, now has two years of job security at least. That's the last thing Alford haters want to hear.

Until last week, this had been a horrible UCLA season, including a grim five-game losing streak, listless, undisciplined play by some of the starters, lazy second-half defense in way too many games and an embarrassing 7-point half against Kentucky on national TV. The general feeling was that the Bruins were a lousy team. There were rumors that some fat-cat boosters were pooling funds to pile up the $10 million needed to buy out Alford's contract.

Here's why the Alford haters, and there lots of them, hate him. They insist he's a crappy coach, that the Bruins are often out-coached and unprepared. They hate how he uses players, how he develops players--or doesn't develop players. They grouse about his misguided offensive sets and contend that he's a bad bench coach. They hate that he starts his son Bryce, barely average most of the season, at point guard. The haters weren't even impressed by the Bruins 28-9 record last season. Considering that great pool of talent, featuring a bunch of NBA draftees, that record, argue the haters, indicates gross underachieving.

When the Bruins were bounced out of the Pac12 tournament a few weeks ago, it seemed like their season was over since the experts didn't think they were good enough to make the NCAA tournament. The consensus was that Alford had better come up with at least a Sweet 16 team next season or he was through.

Alford haters were rejoicing. Then....

All of a sudden, against all odds, the Bruins get into the NCAA tournament--and as a surprisingly high No.11 seed at that. That was Break #1. Then they beat SMU via a controversial, rule-stretching basket-interference call on Bryce Alford's game-winning three-pointer. That was Break #2. So they advance instead of going home. Then there was Break #3. Their second-round opponent, 14th seeded Alabama-Birmingham, knocked off powerful Iowa State, which would have been a much tougher opponent for the Bruins. So all the Bruins had to do to make the Sweet 16 was beat UAB, a team they had easily whipped in preseason.

Presto, riding a string of breaks, the Bruins cruise into the Sweet 16. On the ropes just a few weeks ago, the same guy who was being called a bum and a loser, Alford is now being hailed as a great coach. Suddenly he's the next Wooden.

Alford haters are fuming about this turnaround, contending that Alford did no exceptional coaching these last two games, that the Bruins simply took advantage of a string of breaks and he was just along for the ride. The haters contend that, long term, the program still isn't in good hands, that Alford will continue with his subpar coaching and questionable decisions.

What would silence the haters and make them eat a heavy dose of crow? A win over Gonzaga, a team the Bruins lost to in preseason, that would elevate the Bruins to the Elite Eight. Beating a team with superior talent and exceptional coaching would show that Alford has something special.  

This Gonzaga game is the biggest of Alford's career. He needs a win or a very, very close loss. A Gonzaga rout would be fodder for the haters, who would go after him mercilessly, citing that berth in the Sweet 16 as a fluke. How will Alford respond? By this end of this game we'll have some idea what he's made of.







Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Denver's Dumb Decision To Keep Peyton Manning









Back in the 1800s, hard-boiled cynic P.T.Barnum, convinced that most people are gullible birdbrains, made his famous declaration, that a sucker is born every minute. Unfortunately for Denver Bronco fans, some of those suckers wound up running their team. The management was just suckered into signing QB Peyton Manning for another season.

Talk about your monumental blunders. Talk about guys wearing blinders. Talk about guys with their heads in the sand.

It was clear at the end of last season--that Manning is finished as a starting QB. He has a dead arm. He blamed his horrible second-half tailspin on a bum leg, but that was nonsense. He's now saying his injury has healed so he'll be the old Peyton again this season. Bull crap. He may have just passed his physical, but they're not going to measure his arm strength. After all those years of bullet passes, his arm has simply died.

He ended last season with a whimper, leading Denver to a playoff loss to the Colts, registering a mere 4.59 yards per catch in that game, one of the worst ypc tallies of his career. He was throwing more picks than TDs and couldn't throw with any accuracy beyond ten yards. His long passes had zero zip. What killed their offense is that linebackers and secondary players on opposition defenses were crowding around the line of scrimmage, playing medium and deep passes casually because they knew Manning was lofting easy-to-defend floaters in those areas. That crowd around the line of scrimmage also decreased the effectiveness of the excellent RB C.J. Anderson.

I'll say it again, like I did in a recent post. Manning's arm is dead. He'll be 39 later this month. Age is not only catching up with him, it's kicking his butt.

Manning took a pay cut, from $19 million to $15 million. That's supposed to be a bargain? Well, it's really robbery. He's worth maybe a third of that right now. At this point Manning is merely a decent back-up QB, nothing more.

The boneheads in the Broncos front office will learn the hard way. Here's how this drama will play out--guaranteed. Manning will look OK, with limited work and coddling, in the preseason and maybe in the first few games. Then that arm will flame out, just like it did last season, but only much sooner this time, since he's older and the arm is weaker. He'll start throwing picks and powder puff passes and the Broncos will start losing. Backup QB Brock Osweiler, who's underdeveloped because control-freak Manning was hogging all the playing time, is not ready to be a starting QB. The revamped offensive line will be a negative since it won't have had time to jell. The defense is very good but not good enough to carry a team with a wilting offense. That extra burden will break the defense.

New coach Gary Kubiak will wonder what the hell he got himself into. New Chicago Bears head coach John Fox, who coached Denver last season but was fired after the team tanked in the playoffs, will be snickering and relieved that he got out of that Bronco mess.

The front-office folks who signed Manning to another year will finally fess up and admit: "We got suckered."








Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kobe Bryant Is a Thief, Robbing The Lakers








LA Lakers' star Kobe Bryant is a thief.

He's not wearing a mask or carrying a gun or doing anything covert or sneaky but what he's doing is still plain old robbery. The Lakers are paying him a fortune--$23.5 million annually, the highest NBA salary--for what? What are they getting in return?. Next to nothing. He's so injury-riddled he played just 6 games last season and struggled through 35 this season before being forced, once again, to end it prematurely. At 36, his body is simply broken down. Each of the last few seasons different parts have failed--first an Achilles tendon, then a knee, then a shoulder. Next season, probably some different body part will flame out. He'll be a year older and even more vulnerable to breakage.

Yet, he did an interview on the NBA network recently announcing he's coming back next season, the final year of that insane two-year contract. He even confessed having doubts about what his body can endure now. And he's still going to show up to collect another $23.5 million?

What??!!! Is he kidding? Another year of this robbery?

Bryant is barely worth one quarter of that monumentally inflated salary. It'd be different if the Lakers were an excellent, well-stocked unit that didn't need that money to hire better players. But they're a rotten team, staffed with untalented nobodies. They desperately need Bryant's salary to rebuild.

It's the Steve Nash fiasco all over again. The Lakers stupidly paid Nash, who had one foot in the NBA grave, millions and millions, only to watch him play, not very well either, a handful of games. They're still suffering from that blunder. Clearly they didn't learn from it. They signed Bryant to a fat, equally dumb contract instead of offering him a much smaller amount, in keeping with his production. If he had refused that reduced-salary contract they should have showed him the door. The NBA is a business. There's no room for sentiment.

There's another reason Bryant is a liability. Because he has a reputation for being a selfish, difficult egomaniac, free agents have avoided this team like the plague. Do you think Kevin Love or Kevin Durant or any other big-time player wants to play for a Laker team anchored by an aging superstar with a diva-like mentality? The quicker Bryant is gone, the faster the team can start some serious rebuilding. They sure can't do it while he's still on the team.

The Buss family, which runs the Lakers, gave Bryant, despite his age and injuries, that huge two-year contract to repay him for what he's done for the team all these years. It was a nice gesture but, man, has it ever backfired. They figured he'd be healthy and at least be a box-office attraction. But it hasn't turned out that way. This is the reality. Bryant is playing--when he can play--like an old man, the team stinks and attendance is way down.

If Bryant really cared about the Lakers, who've been good to him, he'd walk off into the sunset, void the final year of that contract, save them a fortune and let the rebuilding get underway. But, unfortunately for the team, he's returning next year. Bookies are already taking bets on how long he'll last. The over-under is one month.

It's time for Bryant to go away. He doesn't need the Lakers' money. He's ridiculously rich, having enough money to live lavishly for several lifetimes.

The Lakers showed him love and respect by giving him that two-year contract, which has hurt the team..He could show them some love and respect by retiring--now.

I used to admire and respect Bryant, but not any more. I don't like thieves.








Monday, February 2, 2015

Seattle Coach Pete Carroll Is An Idiot






About two years ago I posted a story calling Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll an ass.
That charge now requires an amendment. Carroll is not only an ass but he is, without question, also an IDIOT.

What he did at the end of Sunday's Super Bowl is the definition of idiocy. It certainly cost his Seahawks the game. With about thirty seconds left, trailing by 28-24, and Seattle with a second down at the one yard line of the New England Patriots, Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson threw an interception to safety Malcolm Butler on a quick pass over the goal line. Wilson, of course, screwed up but he should never have been placed in that high risk situation, having to squeeze a pass over the middle in among several players..

But, first of all, what in the hell was he doing passing in that situation? Everybody in the stadium, including the Patriots defenders, thought he was going to hand off to RB Marshawn (Beast Mode) Lynch, who hits the line like a runaway tank. He had just battered the Pats for four yards and was salivating for another carry or two, to try to score the winning TD. So just give him the damn ball and let him do his thing.

But Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had other ideas. They decided to fool the Pats and throw a short pass instead of turning the ball over to Lynch, a play that's as close as possible to a sure thing.
Here's another reason not to call a pass in that situation. Let's say the pass had been successful and the Seahawks were ahead 31-28, there was enough time, about 20 seconds, for the Pats, whose offense was in high gear, to get the ball and move into position for a tying field goal.

Bevell may have called that boneheaded pass play but Carroll shoulders the blame because he obviously had been informed of the call and had the power to overrule it. That play had disaster written all over it. If they had to try a pass they could have at least tried one less dangerous, like a corner route or one deep in the end zone. But over the middle? That's like jumping into quicksand.

That idiotic play call will haunt Carroll for the rest of his days. Here's hoping he has many, many sleepless nights and, over and over, wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming the name of Patriots' safety Malcolm Butler. 








Wednesday, January 21, 2015

49ers Hiring Lane Kiffin As OC? Big Mistake







The 49ers have gone stark raving mad. They're making boneheaded move after boneheaded move.

First they fire one of the best coaches in the sport, Jim Harbaugh, not because he's lost his ability to coach but because of personality conflicts with the top brass--CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke  Then they replace him with an inexperienced nobody, their defensive line coach, Jim Tomsula. Not only does he have no significant head coaching experience, but he wasn't on any body's must-hire list. No other teams with coaching vacancies were interested. That's a monster red flag. Will he comfortably fill Harbaugh's shoes? No way. Not only is Harbaugh gone, but so is most of that great coaching staff. So Tomsula, while learning how to be a big-time head coach, has to recruit and break in a whole new staff--no easy task.

Which brings us to boneheaded move No.3.

Reportedly the Niners are considering replacing offensive coordinator Greg Roman, just hired by the Bills, with--and this is no joke--Lane Kiffin. There are so many reasons why this is a stupid move. First of all, if he's hired, he's not likely to stay very long. Inside the football world they've nicknamed him the jackrabbit, because he jumps from job to job. Kifffin is always looking for his next position. His current job, whatever it is, is just a stepping stone to the next one. He's had some great head coaching jobs--Oakland Raiders, Tennessee, USC--but left them all on bad terms. For a while, after he bailed out on the Volunteers, he was the most hated man in Tennessee.

Right now he's OC at Alabama. Head coach Nick Saban hired him last year to infuse some PAC 12 zip into Bama's stodgy offense, which he did. However, he and Saban were reportedly at odds because Saban felt Kiffin was mismanaging the running game. Bama, as usual, had a great season but you can't give Kiffin much credit for that. Any OC could have done that. Bama has a stable overflowing with some of the best players in college football. With all that talent, even an incompetent couldn't miss.

No question Kiffin is a whiz at game-planning and play calling. That's why he keeps getting jobs. But that's not all an OC does. He has to smoothly interact with players, coaches and fans, and Kiffin is notoriously awful at that.. He has limited people skills. Players and coaches tend not to like him because he's abrupt, self-absorbed, single-minded and a lousy listener. When he was at USC, one of his assistants punched him out at a bowl game. Wherever he is there's underlying animosity against him and behind-the-scenes melodrama. Yes he has high-level OC skills but they're far outweighed by all that baggage.

Is this the kind of guy--a known disruptive force--you want on a staff full of mostly new coaches guided by a novice leader, a situation that can easily plunge into chaos? Is this the kind of guy you want dealing with QB Colin Kaepernick, who's fragile after coming off a season in which he clearly regressed? Kaepernick needs a wise, stable OC to guide and retrain him. No way is that Kiffin.

Here's hoping the Niner brass wises up and doesn't make Boneheaded Move No.3.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     





Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Message to Peyton Manning: Please Retire!






Peyton Manning is like Willie Mays. That's not a good thing.

While watching the Broncos' QB stumble through Denver's 24-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, center fielder Mays, one of baseball's all-time greats, came to mind. In 1973, he was 42 years old, a member of the New York Mets, pathetically stumbling through his last season. I recall seeing him in a game in New York, playing center, fielding a single, with a slow runner on second. Mays botched the play, taking forever to pick up the ball, bobbling it, and finally throwing a wobbler over the catcher's head. The runner lumbered home safely. In his prime, Mays would have routinely swallowed up that grounder and gunned down that runner at third base. In 1973, many years past his prime, he shouldn't have been playing.

Manning, one of the all-time great QBs, is ancient, broken-down Mays all over again. He's as sad and as painful to watch as Mays was during that pitiful last year, when he hit .211 and had a fraction of his phenomenal skills. Nearing 39, Manning has lost it. He and Denver are feeding us some line about him struggling because he's suffering from a torn quad. Hah! That's pure bull.

Manning's problem is obvious. His arm is dead. It has been that way since late in the season. His passes, once laser-like, now flutter. He can't throw long or medium-length passes with zip or accuracy any more. After an OK start, he slowly tailed off. His aging arm couldn't stand the wear and tear of a long season.

Defenders figured him out. They were no longer afraid of being burned by his long or medium-range passes, so they just crowded around the line of scrimmage, waiting for those dinky little passes and screens, which didn't pick up much yardage. Denver was forced to rely more and more on its running game. However, as the season wore on, it was tougher for chief RB C.J. Anderson to gain yardage because defenses were expecting the run. Once its strength, Denver's offense became a liability. Once Denver's strength, Manning became a liability.

That loss to Indianapolis was a factor in head coach John Fox being canned not long after the game. The blame for that loss is largely on Manning, who played badly. Now he's about as effective as a so-so second-stringer. The old Manning would have pulverized the Colts, who aren't that good. With little help from the offense, Denver's much-improved defense had to shoulder the entire load in that crucial game, which it wasn't able to do successfully.

Here's a message to Manning:

Dump that phony torn-quad excuse and get real. You'll never approach your old form again. Don't drag your team down because your ego can't stand facing the hard, cold, ugly fact that your arm is dead. It's never coming back to life. Deal with it. Don't be selfish. Don't stain a great career with a sad, stumbling exit. It's time to retire. Find a comfy rocking chair and settle in it. Whatever you do, please don't wind up like Willie Mays.








Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gamblers Talk About Fixing the Lions Game.






Conspiracy theorists, you're barking up the wrong tree.
That ref's call in the Dallas 24-20 win Sunday was a travesty, but it wasn't part of a fix.

A controversy is still raging about a call on a third-down play in the fourth quarter that led to a Detroit defeat. With his team leading 20-17, Lions QB Matthew Stafford threw an incomplete pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who was mugged by Dallas' LB Anthony Hitchens, clear pass interference. An official walked off the penalty, which would have set up the Lions deep in Dallas territory. But, shockingly, ref Pete Morelli announced, with no explanation, that there was, after all, no penalty. It was a game-changer. Instead of  keeping the ball and increasing their lead, the Lions, after a horrible punt, surrendered the ball to the Cowboys, who scored the winning TD. Many Detroit fans screamed foul, contending the fix was in, that the TV network preferred that Dallas advance, because its huge fan base would mean higher ratings.

But.according to two sources, both veteran professional gamblers, who know something about fixing NFL games, there was no way that call was part of a fix. Said one source, who we'll call Rex: "When a ref is fixing a game, the number one thing he does not do is make it obvious. Fixing a game is subtle. The refs look for plays that could go either way in crucial situations and then rig a call. That pass interference against Dallas was flagrant. A fixer wouldn't go near that play. Reversing it was insane. Reversing it without an explanation was more insane. You might as well be screaming, 'Hey look at me, I'm fixing the game.' When a ref is fixing a call, if it's done right, you don't know it. Refs who fix games are also watching out for league investigators. They have to be subtle. Nothing about that call in the Dallas game was subtle. "

Added another source, who we'll call Joey A: "First of all, there were too many refs involved in that call. You don't fix a game by committee. When a game is rigged, there's one guy working alone, looking for small windows of opportunity throughout the game. There were a bunch of people involved in screwing up that call. That's not fixing. No way."

Explained Rex:  "Rigging for gamblers and rigging for networks are two different things. Refs working for gamblers are working against a point spread and usually work low-profile games. Rigging for networks is trickier and tougher because it's making one team win and it may be a high-profile game. When you're under a microscope in a high-profile game it's tougher to rig without tipping your hand."

Concluded Joey A: "The key to rigging is getting good refs in your pocket. Some refs are so good they can fix a game and you won't even have a hint of rigging. The refs in that Detroit game are clowns. They bungled that play. That was just rotten officiating, not rigging. People looking to rig games know which refs to trust. They would never hire those idiots. There's a list of bad refs. Some are downright incompetent and should be kicked out of the league. I haven't seen the list but I bet some of the crew that worked the Detroit game are on that list."