Posts Tagged ‘All’s Fair in Sports and War’

Quick Slants: 2017 Spring Football Schedule

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

2017 Spring Football Schedule

Friday, Apr. 7, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
FIU 7:00pm
Florida 7:30pm SECN
Rice 8:00pm

Saturday, Apr. 8, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Coastal Carolina 11:00am
Bowling Green 11:30am
Air Force Noon
Ole Miss Noon SECN
TCU Noon
Tulsa Noon
Louisiana Tech 1:00pm
Purdue 1:00pm BTN
South Alabama 1:00pm
UL Lafayette 1:00pm
Auburn 2:00pm SECN
Iowa State 2:00pm
Ohio (open practice) 2:00pm
Oklahoma 2:00pm FSSW / Stream
SMU 2:00pm
Texas A&M 2:00pm ESPNU
ULM 2:00pm
Clemson 2:30pm ACCNExtra
Eastern Michigan 3:00pm
Florida State 3:00pm ESPN
North Carolina 3:00pm ACCNExtra
North Texas 3:00pm CUSA.TV
Wake Forest 3:00pm
Mississippi State 4:00pm SECN
Utah State 4:00pm
Boise State 8:00pm

Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Indiana 7:00pm BTN2Go

Friday, Apr. 14, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Buffalo 7:00pm
Cincinnati 7:00pm
Kentucky 7:30pm SECN
UTEP 9:00pm
Memphis TBA

Saturday, Apr. 15, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Ball State Noon
Georgia State Noon
Texas State Noon
Western Michigan 11:00am
Ohio State 12:30pm BTN
Louisville 1:00pm
Michigan (practice) 1:00pm BTN2Go
Minnesota 1:00pm BTN2Go
Pittsburgh 1:00pm
Troy 1:00pm
Utah 1:00pm Pac-12N
West Virginia 1:00pm
Army 2:00pm
Kansas 2:00pm JTV/ESPN3
Middle Tennessee 2:00pm
Missouri 2:00pm SECN
Nebraska 2:00pm BTN2Go
Oklahoma State 2:00pm
Texas 2:00pm LHN
UTSA 2:00pm
Houston 3:00pm
Old Dominion 3:00pm
USC 3:00pm Pac-12N
San Jose State 3:30pm
Stanford 4:00pm Pac-12B
USF 4:00pm
Arizona State 5:00pm Pac-12N

Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
UMass 7:00pm

Friday, Apr. 21, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Arkansas State 7:00pm
Georgia Tech 7:00pm ACCNExtra
UConn 7:00pm
Wisconsin 7:30pm BTN
Iowa 8:00pm BTN2Go

Saturday, Apr. 22, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Syracuse 10:00am ACCNExtra
Tulane 11:00am
Akron Noon
Boston College Noon Stream
Temple Noon
Maryland 12:30pm BTN2Go
Notre Dame 12:30pm
Baylor 1:00pm
Miami (OH) 1:00pm
Southern Miss 1:00pm
California 2:00pm Pac-12B
East Carolina 2:00pm
Georgia 2:00pm SECN
Kansas State 2:00pm K-StateHD.TV
Virginia Tech 2:30pm
Alabama 3:00pm ESPN
Colorado State 3:00pm MWN
Marshall 3:00pm
NIU 3:00pm
Penn State 3:00pm BTN
Washington 3:00pm Pac-12N
Florida Atlantic 4:00pm
Tennessee 4:00pm SECN
Western Kentucky 4:00pm
Wyoming 4:00pm
Rutgers 5:00pm BTN
Washington State 5:00pm Pac-12N
Charlotte 6:00pm
UCF 6:30pm
LSU 8:00pm SECN
Central Michigan TBA
New Mexico TBA

Friday, Apr. 28, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Idaho 9:00pm

Saturday, Apr. 29, 2017

School Time (ET) TV / Online
Arkansas 1:00pm SECN
Fresno State 1:30pm
Oregon 2:00pm Pac-12N
Virginia 3:00pm
Nevada 4:00pm
UCLA 4:00pm Pac-12N

No Spring Game in 2017: Appalachian State, Miami (FL), Navy

Spring Game/Scrimmage completed: Arizona, BYU, Colorado, Duke, Georgia Southern, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan State, NC State, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Oregon State, San Diego State, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Toledo, UAB, UNLV, Vanderbilt

The Cavalier/LA Conspiracy

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

by Brandon McConnell

Brandon Mac Blog

 

 

 

 

 

DL

The NBA has always been full of conspiracies, for years.  Let us take a look back at some of them.  The Orlando Magic becomes a new franchise and just so happen to get the #1 pick, two years in a row.  The Cleveland Cavaliers happened to get the #1 pick the same year Akron’s own LeBron James is available.  Chicago Bulls just happen to get the #1 pick the year Chicago’s superstar Derrick Rose become eligible for the draft.  Lastly, the Cleveland Cavaliers get three #1 picks after LeBron James leaves to go back to Miami, making it very convenient for him to come back home to a championship contender.

Now for the latest conspiracy.  Lonzo Ball to the Los Angeles Lakers.  This year, the Los Angeles Lakers have the second worst record in the league.  Their pick is only protected if they get a top 3 selection, or the pick goes to the 76ers.  With that being said, the Lakers are obviously trying to lose games in order to be bad enough to get a top three pick.  They got rid of their top scorer, Lou Williams, to the Rockets and now are sitting several veterans in order to assure a bad enough record to align themselves to draft UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.

Nothing in the previous paragraph should be anything new to the average NBA fan.  Now I am going to enlighten you on a conspiracy that no one seems to be talking about.  Everyone has been conversing this week on why the Cavaliers sat their “Big 3” on Saturday night versus the Clippers, on a nationally televised game, but played everyone against the terrible Lakers on Sunday.  Their reason for sitting the “Big 3” was for rest due to back-to -back games, but they didn’t have a game on Friday.  Let me give you a little history about coach Tyronn Lue.  He just so happens to have 2 NBA championship rings as a player, 1 championship ring as an assistant coach, and 1 championship ring as a head coach.  Where did he win his player rings?  You got it, with Shaq and Kobe as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Remember the Iverson step over?  Yes, that was Tyronn Lue.  He won his first coaching ring as Doc Rivers’ assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.  Look at any film that year Boston won, that was Tyronn Lue behind Doc Rivers every game.  So, let us break it down.  The Clippers are currently in 5th place in the Western Conference, fighting for a first-round home court advantage, with several other teams to get the 4th spot.  Tyronn, being the nice guy he is, decided to help his mentor Doc Rivers gain a win to help position the Clippers to become a 4th seed while playing his starters and winning Sunday against the terrible Lakers, which helps put them in a better position to get a top 3 draft pick.  A top three pick would allow them to keep the pick and not give it to the 76ers.  If you look back at the previous paragraph, the NBA just so happens to do a good job with allowing the next coming superstar to join their hometown team.  Ask yourself, why don’t you ever see the lottery balls get selected?  So, expect the Lakers to get Lonzo Ball.  Tyronn Lue just happened to be a pawn in what I call “NBA CHESS”.

 

Brandon McConnell, for War Room Sports

3 all-time greats go down on the same day!

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

 

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

PKI

March Madness trivia question:

 

Have 3 coaches with more combined wins ever all lose on the same day in the NCAA tournament?

 

Mike Krzyzewski – 1071, Rick Pitino – 770, and Tom Izzo – 544,  for a total of 2385.

 

Throw in 8 national titles as well.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

DADDY BALL AND THE HYPE MACHINE OKIE DOKE

Friday, March 17th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

LB

For those of you so caught up and even “outraged” over LaVar Ball’s mouth, relax! You are missing a much larger business and commerce point which is the fact that the NCAA, shoe companies, and even coaches routinely do to its athletes, what we fear and complain he is doing to his son.  Which do you think has his best interest at heart?

The only thoughts that I will add center around Harold Miner, or better known at the time as “Baby Jordan”.

That’s right, there was once a player, also out of Southern California, he literally went to and played for USC, hyped to be the next Michael Jordan. With that hype was a shoe brand which both the maker and he profited off well. He did win 1 or 2 slam dunk contests, if that impresses you. Beyond that, he had an enduring 4-year NBA career, averaging 9 points a game. And in the end: who cares?

Here is what those annoyed by Daddy Ball don’t understand. When it comes to hype or promotion, it doesn’t matter if the words are true. It doesn’t matter if there is reason to project them to be true in the future. Hell it doesn’t even matter if either the father or son believe the hype themselves. All that matters is that we are talking about it, and by that measure, LaVar Ball is indeed crazy…crazy like a fox.

As for those who contend he is putting undue pressure on his son, it would seem to me that you would actually have to know his son personally to confirm that, and most of his father’s critics do not know the son. If on the court play is any indication of him feeling the pressure, my guess is that UCLA wants his father to talk even more. Last year they won 15 games. With Ball as the only major addition they have won 29 games thus far this year, including road wins over Kentucky and Arizona. He averages 14 points 6 assists, and nearly 8 boards a game. If you have actually watched him play, a more athletic version of Jason Kidd is a valid basketball-based comparison. Where is the evidence of his father’s mouth adversely affecting him?

In the end, my money is on LaVar Ball looking a lot more like Richard Williams than Marv Marinovich, and both he and his son(s) will take that to the bank. If more parents of phenom college athletes took his approach, maybe we could make more progress in breaking the NCAA’s monopoly on its endless supply of free labor.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

ARSENAL AND BARCELONA: SIMILAR STYLE OF PLAY, TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHIES

Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog

 

 

 

 

Arsenal-vs-Barcelona

During the first games of the Round of 16 Tournament of the UEFA Champions League, we saw two clubs; Arsenal and Barcelona (two clubs with a history of being purists when it comes to the execution of the Total Football strategy, otherwise known as “Jogo Bonito”- The Beautiful Game) getting completely hammered in the first legs of their games. Barcelona lost 4-0 to Paris St. German (PSG) and Arsenal lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich.

Now, both Bayern Munich and PSG are leaders in their respective leagues in Germany and France and their results from the first set of games not only proved how good they are but it also showed how impossible it would be for any team to recover from those first two heavy defeats to progress beyond this round, given the aggregate formula used in European Football.

So come games 2 and Mission Impossible. Sport writers and pundits had already written off Barca and PSG coming into these games with insurmountable odds. What happened next completely defines the philosophies of both clubs.

Arsenal Football Club located in London, England is one of the oldest clubs in England, having joined the English Football Association in 1893. Since 1996, Arsene Wenger has been managing the club and is responsible for bringing the Jogo Bonito Total Football style to Arsenal. Such style focuses on dominating possession during a football game, intricate passing in all directions, and capitalizing on the point of maximum opportunity to score goals. This style over the last 20 years has seen Arsenal rank among the most successful clubs in England and Europe.

Barcelona Football Club, located in the Catolonia region in Spain have been a global powerhouse in Sports for decades, but more so over the last 10-12 years when the initial foundation work of Legendary Coach John Cryuff grew exponentially under Frank Rijkaard and succeeding coaches. The Barcelona system has been so successful that not only because has it seen them dominate Spain and Europe, but it has also ensured that regardless of whoever is at the helm of affairs, the winning formula and mentality continues. Barcelona, very much like Arsenal, also rely heavily on dominating the possession game, intricate passing, and the capitalization of scoring when the opportunity is created, versus when the opportunity randomly presents itself.

So here you have two powerhouses of European football who mirror each other in terms of their style of play and how they are coached.  And here you have two powerhouses of European football going into their second games of the round of 16 after having suffered “insurmountable” losses in their first games. How both teams responded has completely redefined their genetic makeup.

Arsenal came into this game after having lost 3-1 to Liverpool FC only a few days prior. Spirits were low and the general attitude for Game 2 was just to make the score line respectable. Barcelona on the other hand, led by the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Iniesta, had a hint of belief over accomplishing mission impossible. Their two games leading up to the rematch with PSG saw them thrash Sporting Gijon 6-1 and Celta Vigo 5-1. This meant that they were going into their showdown with PSG having scored 11 goals over two matches. They needed a miraculous 5 unanswered to progress to the next round.

So come match day and the ensuing series of events, Arsenal travelled to Germany to take on Bayern Munich and Barcelona hosted PSG at home.

The Arsenal v Bayern Munich game saw a deflated and demoralized team who started well by scoring first, but then capitulated once The Bavarians equalized. Arsenal got absolutely thumped by the exact same score line to the first game, 5-1. After a while the players looked like all they wanted to do was go home.

However, the Barcelona v PSG game saw a Barcelona team come out from the very beginning looking to shoot their shot against all odds. They didn’t particularly play well and some players (including Messi) looked out of sorts. But the deep-seeded philosophy/belief was evident that night, especially in the opening minutes. Barcelona need to score 5 answered goals in order to progress to the next round.

The plan was in motion and Barcelona were getting closer and closer. They had scored 3 answered and were feeling the impossible was inevitable. It wasn’t until Edson Cavani scored a wonder goal for PSG that brought things back down to Earth. PSG felt that they were in the clear and it appeared to the Barca players that this mountain they needed to climb only got much higher. So at this point, Barca now needed 3 answered goals. 8 minutes were remaining and only divine intervention could get Barca through, and divine intervention manifested itself in the form of Neymar. First it was a free kick…GOAL. Then a penalty…GOAL. Then at the death of it all, a sublime pass again from Neymar to Sergio Roberto slides the ball into the net…GOAL.

The unimaginable had happened. Barcelona, through sheer grit and determination pulled off an impossible comeback.

What Barcelona did was solidify their philosophy as a team that will never give up, which is ironically the final ingredient that defines Jogo Bonito. An ingredient missing with Arsenal when it was required.

Two teams who share similar philosophies but two teams who will forever define greatness differently. We can blame the coach and the execution of the game strategy etc, but at the end of the day history always vindicates those that pursue greatness.

Well done to Barca….and on to the next one in this legendary story.

 

Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.

The Trouble with G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) Debates

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

Image via KnowYourMeme.com

About a week ago, BEFORE the outcome of the Super Bowl, I made the case against Tom Brady being the G.O.A.T. …or more specifically, against the overly simplistic criteria of Super Bowl rings so many use to come to such a conclusion. Since the Patriots’ improbable comeback, social media has been inundated with claims that it validated his G.O.A.T. status.

 

Even before last week’s win, Brady was well within the conversation…even if the conversation itself is inherently flawed and incomplete. Why? Consider Joe Montana’s response to the question about Tom Brady.

 

“I think that it’s really hard to put anyone in that bucket,” he said. “Even before he got five-you look back to some of the guys some people don’t even know, Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham, I can’t remember which one but one of them won like seven or nine championships and was so far ahead of their time. It’s so hard to compare guys from then to now, how they would compare here and how we would compare back then.”

 

Maybe this is merely one competitor’s refusal to surrender the mythical throne to another, but even if it is, can it be denied that he has a point?

 

Here is the trouble with G.O.A.T. debates: 1) they wreak with recency bias; 2) they lack consideration for era context; and 3) its participants have no way to factor in the eye test.

 

Why are they subject to recency bias? Because it is a natural tendency of human memory. That is precisely why those running for political office try to get the last positive idea about themselves and/or negative idea about their opponent out before the actual election. Whatever is most recent is often deemed “better” or at the very least, most reliable. This is compounded as time goes by. As hard as it might be to comprehend, in 30-40 years some very knowledgeable basketball fans will be having a G.O.A.T. debate and it will not be open and shut that such a title will go to Michael Jordan. In fact, some will not even give MJ proper consideration. As ridiculous as that sounds, trust me, it will happen.

 

Then there is the lack of consideration for the context of eras. Regardless of the sport, different rules and circumstances provide for different challenges. So essentially, the comparisons are next to never “apples to apples”. For example, for most of Mel Blount’s career as the best corner of the 1970s, he could literally maul receivers all over the field until 1978 when the “one chuck within 5 yards” rule was implemented. Add that to the fact that he didn’t have to cover long playing on the back end of the Steelers “Steal Curtain” defense and pass rush. So as great as he was, how does one compare him to Deion Sanders as a cover corner?

 

How does one compare Johnny Unitas to Tom Brady, who faced the same 11 guys on defenses that were far less sophisticated when compared to today’s defenses? But Unitas also had to use receivers that had a much more difficult time getting open then any that Brady has had. Finally, defenders could actually rough up Unitas without getting the flag that they would get today against Brady.

 

The differences cannot be limited to sports factors alone. Our food supplies are different, one could argue for both the better and worst of that supply, I contend has led to bigger and stronger athletes, if not necessarily better. Thus, the more recent era produced a 300+ pounder named Shaquille O’Neal. It’s often said he would have knocked Bill Russel into the second row. But would he have been 300 pounds had he come along during Russel’s era? Would Russel have been a mere 215 pounds had he come up during Shaq’s era? Unless an adjustment is made for both, it’s as a ridiculous comparison as it would be comparing the production of a secretary with a typewriter with one that has a computer. Or the closure rate of a homicide detective with DNA with one before DNA.

 

The last factor in the flawed GOAT debates is the lack of the eye test. This is what stat junkies fall for all the time. Statistics alone do not provide the nuance that only actually watching an athlete does. In other words, consider sports greatness the same as the Supreme Court considers pornography: you may not be able to define it, but you know it when you SEE it.

 

Statistically, some will make the case for Andy Petite being a viable Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) candidate over other lefthanders such as Mickey Lolich, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Vida Blue, or David Wells; none of whom are or ever will get into the HOF. I remember all five of them and trust me; Andy Petite, though a very good pitcher for many years, was not as good as any of them.

 

So how can we continue these flawed, but highly entertaining debates? One simple adjustment; instead of declaring who is the G.O.A.T., how about we simply limit it to the G.O.Y.T. or Greatest of Your Time? Under this banner, we are all qualified. Recency bias is not a factor, we can all speak to era context and we limit our assessment to those we have actually seen play.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

City of Atlanta Top 5 Sports Meltdowns

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Bosher #5 react after losing to the New England Patriots 34-28 during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Bosher #5 react after losing to the New England Patriots 34-28 during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Honorable mention: 1981 Falcons had a 2-touchdown, 4th quarter lead on the Cowboys at home in the NFC playoffs, only to give up 20 4th quarter points and lose 30-27.

 

Honorable mention: 2012 Falcons blow a 17-point lead at home in the NFC championship game, losing to the San Francisco 49ers

 

5) Twins outlast Braves in 7 games of the 1991 World Series on Jack Morris’ 10-inning, 1-0 shutout

ATL #5
4) 1996 Braves bring a 2-0 World Series lead over the “Stankees” back to Atlanta and proceed to lose 4 straight, as the defending champs

ATL #4

 

3) 1998 Falcons lose Super Bowl XXXIII to the Denver Broncos after their safety and NFL Man of the Year gets busted in a prostitution sting on South Beach in Miami, the night before the game

ATL #3

 

2) After winning game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semis in Boston, the 1988 Hawks bring a 3-2 lead back to Atlanta, only to lose in game 6 and then game 7 in Boston, overshadowing one of the greatest basketball duels ever, between Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird

ATL #2

 

 

And the top Atlanta Sports meltdown of all time is……you know. LOL

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Why Tom Brady is NOT the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

TB

Tom Brady is a beast: a straight up mercenary of NFL defenses.

 

Don’t give me all the Spygate, Deflategate, or any other gate asterisks. As much as I would like to cite these factors as the reason he has tormented my Steelers so much, it just does not stand up to scrutiny.

 

Before the spying was revealed in 2007, the Patriots were 4-1 with him under center, including two playoff wins in Pittsburgh, against my Steelers. His touchdown to interception ratio was 7:3 and his QB rating was 97.9. Pretty damn good, right?

 

Since the spying was revealed, the Patriots are 5-1 with Brady under center, including scoring 55 points against my team in 2013, most ever against a Pittsburgh team. His TD/Interception ratio is 19:0 and his QB rating is 127.3.

 

No typos there, folks.

 

If they were spying before, I wish they would go back to spying today.

 

He is indeed on my Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks.

The case here isn’t that he is not on the shortlist of greatest of all time. Only that he is not THE greatest of all time, and that isn’t as much due to him as it is us. The primary thing we use to put Brady over say Aaron Rogers is Super Bowl rings. Why is that flawed? Because the “how many rings you got?” is the most superficial and intellectually lazy argument in sports.

 

If it’s all about the rings, then Jim Plunkett and Doug Williams were both better than Dan Fouts, right? Mark Rypien and Trent Dilfer were better than Dan Marino, right? Of course not, GTFOHWTBS!!!!

 

Likewise, Tom Brady is not better than Aaron Rogers or Joe Montana, just as Bill Russell was not better than Wilt Chamberlain or Mickey Mantle was not better than Willie Mays.

 

Football is the ultimate team sport. So how silly is it that we assign credit for winning Super Bowls to one position in these debates? Brady has been instrumental in the Patriots great run. He has not won Super Bowls by himself.

 

And even if we were inclined to credit him based on individual performances, Brady has been a shadow of his regular season self in the Super Bowls. Consider them one by one: against the Rams he was still in the game manager mold. His MVP in that game was as much based on sports writers’ anti-kicker and defense bias as it was Brady’s performance. Everyone knows Vinatieri was as or more valuable in that game. Against the Panthers he threw 3 interceptions. In other words, he kept both teams in the game.

 

Against the Eagles, Deion Branch won MVP. Any time a receiver, not named Jerry Rice, wins Super Bowl MVP, it’s an indictment of the QB performance. And don’t let me start on who the real MVP was that game, playing on a barely-heeled broken leg. Hint: the writers are still dissing him in HOF voting and his initials are T.O.!

 

Granted he torched Seattle, arguably the best defense that he has faced in any Super Bowl. But we all know that but for the worst call in football history (not just NFL but AFL, USFL, College, and High School), the Patriots don’t beat Seattle and Brady would be a .500 QB in Super Bowls going into tonight’s game. As a matter of fact, both he and Belichick are a few plays here and there from being 0-6 in SB’s.

 

By contrast, Joe Montana’s TD/Interception ratio in 4 Super Bowls is 11:0! That too, is not a typo.

 

So win or lose tonight, Tom Brady is not the greatest QB of all time.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

MY ATLANTA FALCONS ARE GOING BACK TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog

 

 

 

 

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn gets the infamous Gatorade bath.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn gets the infamous Gatorade bath.

The date was January 17, 1999. I was in the West Towers Dormitory of Howard University. It was my sophomore year and The Atlanta Falcons had risen as the formidable force in the NFC. They had beaten the 49ers and were coming off a regular season 14-2 and were getting ready to go up against The No.1 seeded Vikings. The game went back and forth and The Vikings were keen on showing why they were pretty much unstoppable that season. When the game went into overtime, I felt as though this might be it. Two plays later and that man [Morten] Andersen kicked a FG that sent the Dirty Birds to the Super Bowl. “Elation” cannot explain the feeling I experienced until that elation quickly turned into despair only 2 weeks later, when the Falcons got a hiding at the hands of John Elway. Very painful…..let’s move on.

After that Super Bowl, the Dirty Birds became a regular NFL team that really didn’t accomplish much. We went from season to season just coasting along and remaining relevant in the NFL. It wasn’t until we drafted Michael Vick in 2001 that we began to see a resurgence of Atlanta magic at the Georgia Dome. Those years of having a deeply athletic elite QB made a big difference in some foundation work of where the Falcons would eventually end up. Then, the dog fight situation happened (grrrr), Vick gets suspended, and then we get a number 3 draft pick with Matt Ryan in 2008.

When Ryan joined the Falcons, I was optimistic given what he had done at Boston College. Since he joined, The Falcons have been to the playoffs 5 times where Matt was only able to record 1 win. Matt Ryan went from “Matty Ice” to “Matty can’t win in January”. 2012 was promising because we saw the Falcons go 13-3 in the regular season and then make it to the Conference Championship Game, only to be ousted by the San Francisco 49ers, even though the Falcons started off the game 17-0.

From that point up until now, we have barely broken .500 and not even gone to the playoffs. Last season, long time coach Mike Smith was replaced by Dan Quinn; a no nonsense thoroughbred Defensive coach that came up through the Seattle system. Immediately we saw a turnaround in the way the team played by starting out the 2015-2016 season 5-0, only to be hampered by injuries, bad situations on penalties costing us vital plays, and overall sloppiness. The season ended 8-8 and most fans were wondering what next and how do we build on these mistakes.

2016 started out promising.  Flashes of the previous season prevailed in certain games, but it wasn’t until the game against the Philadelphia Eagles in November that we began to see the Falcons firing on all cylinders, only losing one game from that point up until now, making it a 7-game winning streak going into the Super Bowl.

The last two games of the playoffs have been nothing short of a phenomenal display of the ability of this team. Beating teams with powerhouse quarterbacks such as [Russell] Wilson and [Aaron] Rogers shows just how far and how prepared this quad is. The offensive weaponry at the disposal of Matt Ryan justifies why he leads the league in touchdowns to several different receivers. Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu Jr are having epic seasons and the ground game controlled by [Tevin] Coleman and [Devonta] Freeman are just gems to watch. Then you have the mostly rookie defense who get stronger by the day.

All in all, it has been a fairytale story for the Falcons. From relative obscurity to playing in the Super Bowl for the second time in their history remains remarkable for fans like me that were introduced to this franchise via association, by living in the city.

Sunday, February 5th, the Dirty Birds will have the opportunity to take us back to the days of Jamal Anderson and the antics that defined the Dirty Bird, but this time flying away sky high in Texas.

 

Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.

Dear Steeler Nation Mike Tomlin Ingrates: Take a Seat and Shut the F#%& up!!!!

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

MT

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs are underway this weekend.  If your team is still alive with the hope of reaching and winning a super bowl, be grateful.

 

After all, you could be a Bills, Vikings, or Browns fan.

 

This brings me to the baffling criticism more than a few of my fellow members of Steeler Nation have for head coach Mike Tomlin. Yes, that Mike Tomlin.  The Super Bowl winning coach with a 64% lifetime winning percentage; the same one who has not had a losing season in his first ten.

 

A summary of the critique is that he was a token fast-track hire due to the Rooney Rule, which is the NFL rule that mandates a minority coach be interviewed for all head-coaching jobs; 2) he inherited a great team, and situation with an upper echelon QB in Ben Roethlisberger; and 3) that he has lost to a lot of bad teams.

 

Let’s address them all from the last forward:

 

Under Tomlin the Pittsburgh Steelers have absolutely loss to a lot of bad teams.  There is no way around this.  Even if we overlook losses in 2012 and 2013 when the team was only 8-8 itself, there is still more than enough of a sample of mind boggling losses to include 3 in 2009 as defending champs to the likes of a 4-12 Chiefs team, and 5-11 Raiders and Browns teams.  (The Raiders loss was especially appalling, given it was at home to a career backup journeyman QB.  Tomlin has gone 1-3 to very bad Raider teams).  In 2014 there was the home loss to the 2-14 Buccaneers and another loss to a 4-12 Jets team.  And who can forget the playoff loss to a Denver team in 2011 as defending AFC champs?   Yes, by definition that Denver team was not a bad team, by virtue of making it to the playoffs.  But you still can’t lose to a team led by Tim Tebow.

 

So that criticism is valid and is on Tomlin.

 

The other two are crap!

 

Was Tomlin handed a great situation, team, and upper echelon QB?  The answer to that is mixed:  yes, great situation for the stability the Steelers management provides but Ben was hardly an upper echelon QB at the time.  As matter of fact, he was coming off his worst year as a pro, throwing 23 picks in 2006.  Upon Tomlin’s arrival in 2007 he had one of his best two years of his career.  Has it ever occurred to any of Tomlin’s haters that just maybe he has had as much of a hand in Ben’s success as the other way around?

 

Sure, the team was a year removed from winning it all in 2005, but went 8-8 and missed the playoffs in Bill Cowher’s last year of 2006.  I would not call that great.

 

Has it occurred to you that Tomlin might know something about coaching, even without Ben?  After all, in the 17 games Ben did not start under Tomlin, the Steelers actually have a winning record (9-8), including a 3-1 start in 2010, when Ben was suspended.  When Bill Belichick started this year at 3-1 without Tom Brady, it was lauded as evidence of his coaching brilliance.  Why not the same for Tomlin?

 

I am not suggesting that he is as good a coach as Belichick.  He is not!  I only insist that our critiques have a semblance of consistency.  The fact is that over his career, Belichick is 50-53 in games not started by Tom Brady.  Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy is 3-5-1 when Aaron Rogers does not start. Sean Peyton is 0-2 without Drew Brees for the Saints.  Winning consistently with or without an upper echelon QB is nowhere near as easy as this faction of Steeler Nation would have you believe.

 

How have others done who have inherited even better situations?  Let’s look at when George Seifert took over the reins from Bill Walsh for the 49ers, and when Barry Switzer took over for Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys.  Both inherited SB champs and HOF QBs in Montana and Aikman, much further along in their development than was Ben when Tomlin took over the Steelers.  Seifert would repeat in ’89 and win yet again in ’94.  After 8 years, he won over 70% of his games.

 

A cautionary tale for Steeler nation is that it wasn’t enough for the 49er faithful and they ran him out of town.

 

They have not won a SB since.

 

Switzer won in his second year in 1995, then presided over the gradual decline of the Cowboys to become an afterthought by the late 1990s.  Only now are they beginning to emerge from the wilderness.

 

I ask you Steeler Nation: would you rather have had Barry Switzer?

 

Winning consistently in the NFL is never a sure thing.

 

Winning Super Bowls, even with a HOF caliber coach and QB is even less of a sure thing.

 

There have been a total of 5 such combinations over this era to include Shula/Unitas, Allen/Juergensen, Grant/Tarkenton, Shula/Marino and Levy/Kelly that NEVER won a Super Bowl.  This group of 5 has a cumulative record in the super bowl of 0-10!!!!!!

 

Sure, Shula won when paired with Griese, but the point remains that they don’t grow Super Bowl winning coaches on trees, nor are they bottled and sold.

 

The last suggestion (which is that Tomlin’s hire was tokenism) is as insulting to the Rooneys as it is to Tomlin.

 

If any organization in sports deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to which coach to hire, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers.  When they picked Tomlin to be their coach, they had only two for the better part of the previous 40 years.  Both won Super Bowls.  Tomlin has won a Super Bowl.  They got this!

 

If those of the football world were only as outraged by the reasons for the Rooney Rule as they are about the Rooney Rule, we may not need a Rooney Rule!

 

On an even larger level, the snipes at Tomlin reflect a larger, uglier American reality reaffirmed by the recent presidential election.  The simmering narrative that anyone Black who ascends to a position of prestige and or privilege did so without merit and at the expense of “hard-working Americans”, which is dog-whistle-code for “White folks.”

 

When Ronald Reagan employed his brand of the “Southern Strategy” to lure what would become known as “Reagan Democrats,” ground zero for this demographic was the greater Pittsburgh, PA region. As the steel mills of the area closed, Steeler fans spread all over the country, which is what in part makes up Steeler Nation today, but that mindset is as prevalent today as it was when Reagan won the White House in 1980.   Donald Trump used the same formula, only on steroids, to win the same office in November.

 

As for solutions, within football alone, there aren’t any.  If Tomlin continues to win, it’s what he is supposed to do with all that was “given” to him.  If he does not, it’s validation that he is not a good coach and should have never gotten the job.  He could walk on water and his critics will complain that his feet got wet.

 

This solution is above and beyond football and requires the critics to look at themselves in the mirror and reassess their expectations. This requires rational self-assessment…..a quality that fanatics (fans) have very little history of displaying.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports