Saturday, December 22, 2007

Unchain My Heart: Sean Taylor, Barry Bonds, and the NBA

To: Reader of this Blog Note
Address: Random College or University in the United States of America
1234 Zoinks Blvd. Washicagofornia, USA.
Attn: College Student, (that means you)

There used to be a time when Thanksgiving meant celebrating another Detroit Lions loss and Cowboys’ victory with friends, enjoying a slice of your grandma’s sweet pecan pie after supper, tying your Adidas Superstar II’s in preparation for the exciting terror of Black Friday, and using your dad’s ballpoint pen to check off every annoying December date until THAT DAY…when you’ll find yourself on the living room rug grinning as you unwrap that new Matchbox racetrack/Beanie Baby/Game Boy Color (with Pokemon Yellow) that your parents bought after they suffered through that outrageously long line at (insert Random Toy Store here). Well, watching you giggle hysterically in disbelief while rolling around on the kitchen linoleum made it totally worth it.

Don’t worry…I’ll wait for you to wipe that nostalgic twinkle out of your eye.
(If you weren’t thinking about the awesomeness of some past Christmas while reading the previous paragraph, well…I just feel bad for you. Next time we cross paths remind me to give you a bear hug and buy you a creamsicle, okay?)

On Friday, as I watched a huge group of kids play touch football in 35 degree weather without hats, gloves, or even bothering to zip up their coats, I realized that the magic of the holidays has started to fade as I’ve gotten older. Since I’ve arrived at college, my only concern during Thanksgiving has been to get a ton of sleep, hustle and get some work done, and give the patented college answer to every aunt/uncle/cousin that bothers to ask about life at school.

Aunt: “Hi, Throwback Kid, how’s life at Howard University in…where is it again?”
Me: “Washington, DC. It’s good. Two down, two to go.”
Uncle: (chuckles) “Yeah, that’s right. You ARE a Junior now, that’s right! You must be the big man on campus now, eh?”
Me: “Na, just trying to get through this semester, ya know.”
Cousin: “Any po-TEN-tial cuties down there, TTK?”
(Mistake #1…failure to suppress microscopic grin in corner of mouth)
Cousin: “I see you man. I SEE YOU! I remember when I was in college…”
Me (wincing and looking at watch): “Can you pass the pot roast?”

Even though my motto of “getting out of the month of October unscathed” has governed my actions over the past month, I have noticed that a lot of folks are starting to slip into full fledged panic mode over the last two weeks. During Junior year, everyone gradually comes to the stark realization that college is no cake walk. Personally, I despise the fact that I actually micromanaged my Thanksgiving break this year. I despise the fact that I left no room for pure fun and unadulterated holiday joy on my schedule, instead focusing on idiotic group projects and frustrating essay assignments. I despise the fact that I missed playing NBA ’08 with my kid brother over the holiday because the frustrations of school have served as the millstone tied to my waist, the purple elephant in the room that I wish I could ignore…but can’t. Honestly, the last two weeks BEFORE finals week are without a doubt the most brutal weeks for any college student to handle. If you didn’t get a lot of rest over Thanksgiving break, make sure to get a good night’s sleep at some point over this weekend. Pray. Eat a well-balanced meal. Laugh a little. But then again, because of the time you’re taking to read this blog note, you’ve already come to that conclusion on your own.

That’s part of the reason I love this blog space. I love hearing feedback from my readers. I love arguing the validity of Tony Romo as the next golden QB of the NFL. I love defending the Yankees, Jets…and Knicks. I love believing that Charnele Brown (Kim Reese) could have been a great black female actor if she wasn’t overshadowed by Jasmine Guy (Whitley) on THE show. I love turning up 97.1 (in DC) to listen to that Christmas music, staring into the blank space of a Microsoft Word Document…and getting down to business.

As I write this note, my biggest hope is that these words, phrases, quips, and jokes are always an encouragement to my readers. Before I hit “Publish” on my blog notes, I make sure that there is at least one heartening comment embedded in the text. As my friend Anand echoed last Tuesday, the drama, stress, and tension immediately enter my world “as soon as I step out of the door of my room in the morning.” For some folks, it’s even sooner than that. That’s why when I winced when my buddy Jayy said that I should write more serious blog notes. I’m not afraid to mention my disdain for ESPN’s lack of coverage on the Sean Taylor incident, choosing instead to show highlights of a 3-0 game in Pittsburgh – a game covered extensively by their family of networks – over a major news story featuring a high profile athlete clinging to life. I’m not afraid to yell “wild goose chase” after the feds indict Barry Bonds with their only proof hinged to the story of two San Francisco Chronicle journalists. I live in a city that sees 700+ Sean Taylor’s fall by the wayside each year due to reckless crime, and watch as thousands of my brethren fill up county and state prisons in record numbers. However, because these next two weeks of finals, projects, and exams has every college student in a vice grip…I think I’ll leave the commentaries to Jason Whitlock, and David Aldridge for now.

Since I’ve wasted too much time over the last month, I’ll rap up my NBA Season Previews. I mean, we’re almost a quarter of the way through the season and I STILL haven’t talked about all the teams in the NBA yet. Since there are a lot of sitcoms still left on the table, I donate my next blog note entirely to a show – this time, of your choice!
Here are the options for next week:
1. The Jamie Foxx Show
2. Family Matters
3. The Wonder Years

Let me know (either in the comments or in a message) which of the three shows I should analyze next week. Also, if you have any other show suggestions, you can add them in also after you let me know your choice from these three options above. (For the record…NBC’s sitcom Scrubs will happen, so don’t worry…I’ve got it covered.)

Now, play your Charlie Brown Christmas CD , snuggle into your favorite college sweatshirt, turn your TV’s up stop studying for the next 10 minutes, and get ready for my West Coast Breakdown!(I would have thrown Wild’n Out on the Pick List...but I did that already last year. And, yeah...I can put shameless plugs into my Facebook “notes.” Go Knicks!)

Southwest Division
1. San Antonio Spurs:
Greg Popovich is hands-down, the smartest coach/GM in the NBA today. With one of the league’s smallest markets, Popovich has correctly used a top-10 player throughout his prime (Tim Duncan) and surrounded him with interchangeable talent to continue to win in the playoffs. Big men win and point. MJ’s Bulls were the last team to win a championship without a solid big 1998.

2. Dallas Mavericks: After last year’s meltdown, Avery Johnson finally learned that every single game in the regular season isn’t important. The way Avery ran the team last year is equivalent to your friend keeping his/her foot on the throttle of your Honda Accord throughout an entire cross country trip. At some point, don’t you advise them to put the car on cruise control? Unfortunately, Cuban was too busy dancing with the stars to notice. Enter Golden State.

3. Houston Rockets : I’ve always liked Jeff Van Gundy. He’s one of the better color commentators covering the league right now (after Reggie Miller), and he brings enthusiasm to an otherwise dry (yeah, I’m talking to you Mike Tirico) broadcast booth. It’s a wonder how one smart move by GM Daryl Morey has transformed this Rockets team. Van Gundy is a chip off of the Pat Riley block, a theory that states “play defense and throw the ball to your big man at all costs.” During his tenure, Jeff never realized two important things – the league has become scoring guard heavy, and Yao is better when he’s facing the basket. With all that said, Houston’s only one T-Mac injury away from another disappointing season. (Note to Gilbert Arenas...get healthy.)

4. New Orleans Hornets: This is definitely my sleeper team out West. Chris Paul + Guys who can catch alley-oops (Chandler) and shoot (Peterson, Peja) equals...Buckets all day. Too bad their city hates basketball. Some analysts even aruge that if Hurricane Katrina never happens, they’d be making plans for Oklahoma City right now. Intriguing.(By the way, John Paxson must be kicking himself right now. The Bulls are stuck with an older, less effective version of Tyson Chandler at thrice the cost (Ben Wallace). Enjoy the bayou, Tyson.)

5. Memphis Grizzlies: With a new “no-name” coach (Marc Iavaroni), young players (Gay, Lowry, Conley), and older stiffs (Brian Cardinal) surrounding their “superstar” (Pau Gasol) this looks like a rebuilding year in Graceland.

Northwest Division
1. Denver Nuggets:
This team is going to light it up this season. Iverson’s still a legitimate force, Carmelo is coming into his own (definitely a more polished scorer than Lebron), and Camby’s still guarding the paint to prevent the Nuggets from turning into another non-defensive team (see: Suns, Knicks). After they run away with the division, I think the K-Mart issue and the downgrade at PG over the summer (Blake > Atkins) is going to kill them come playoff time.

2. Utah Jazz: The Williams/Boozer connection is eerily similar to another super tandem that we’ve seen before (Stockton/Malone). Jerry Sloan is the best coach in the NBA without a Coach of the Year trophy in his office. Last year, the NBA rewarded a coach (Sam Mitchell) that watched a group of young, athletic guys (Bosh, Ford, Graham, Bargnani) dissect an extremely pathetic Atlantic Division. Once again, Sloan’s going to prove why the Jazz have been competitive since the early 90s. (Also, I love how the talks surrounding Kirilenko completely died off. Did the Mormons tempt him with their debauchery, polygamy and liquor?)

3. Portland Trailblazers: Did you know that this team is built around two players with knee surgeries? (Roy and Oden) Yikes.

4. Seattle Sonics: P.J. Carlesimo is the Norv Turner of the NBA. No wonder Latrell pulled a Wayne Brady and choked this guy.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: No Big dice. Wolves’ fans better enjoy watching Antoine Walker do the shimmy. He reminds me a little of that fat kid from

Pacific Division
1. Phoenix Suns:
Though Steve and Co. can’t play a lick of D, they score enough buckets to make their usual stroll through the regular season. I pray that Amare learned how to guard a big man on the block over the summer...or we’ll see another Spurs/Mavs West final.

2. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Jackson is one of the best all-around players in the NBA. Since his return, the Warriors have gone 6-2. Since the league is extremely scoring guard heavy, every team needs a guy who will mix it up with the Lebrons and Wades of the league. The rest of the team will just play Nellieball and hope to play Dallas again in the postseason.

3. Los Angeles Lakers: Funny how a winning streak can cool off the trade demands of a superstar. Bynum, Farmar, and the rest of the rookies are playing great basketball, Phil Jackson just signed on for another handful of years, and Kobe’s Hollywood dream is finally starting to come true. Maybe if they can trade Odom for Jermaine O’Neal...

4. Sacramento Kings: While lounging around the Towers three months ago, I was watching Reggie Theus pretend to care about his daughter’s basketball career on an episode of Baldwin Hills. Reggie Theus is the West Coast version of Isiah Thomas. He should have stayed at New Mexico State…because once Bibby gets traded (hopefully to the Cavs for the league’s sake), he’ll be left with Brad Miller’s cornrows, and the craziest man in the NBA…Ron Artest…just looming, waiting to unleash his fury on the next drunk fan.

5. Los Angeles Clippers: My friend Mike James told me that he’d like to see Kobe in a Clippers uniform. Even though Molo and Marley are probably now slapping five, do you really think that Kobe enjoy a team with the cheapest owner in the NBA? Donald Sterling is the anti-Dolan (Knicks owner). He refused to sign Odom and traded him for 40 cents on the dollar, believed that his GM (Elgin Baylor) knew what he was doing with the franchise’s #1 pick (Michael Olowokandi?), let Brian Simmons stroll to the Bucks, and is ready to let Corey Maggette go after he’s proven to be the only consistent scorer for their club over the past five years. This team’s future is tied to an aging vet (Sam Cassell), a mediocre SG (Mobley), and two guys coming off of season-ending injuries (Livingston, Brand). If this doesn’t spell disaster, I don’t know what does.

Anyway, let me know which show to psychoanalyze next week, and enjoy finals week!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why Black Guys (and David Lee) Need to Be In Sports: Family Feud (#4)

Really, kudos to Ufford at With Leather for digging up this clip with these NBA players on the feud. Two interesting things I picked up from the clip:
1. Richard Jefferson's mom's name is Meekness. Wow.
2. David Lee is the man...wait, I already knew that.
3. Grant Hill's mom is white. (Sound of Suns fans rushing to buy reams of #33 jerseys...)


Friday, November 23, 2007

Why Black Guys Need to Be in Sports: Reason #3

Hakeem Olajuwon's famous move in which he proved that he was the superior big man to David Robinson. Basically, DR just got got.

I Love This Game!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

While You Got Distracted by Belichick's "Jedi Mind Tricks"...Vick Reminds You That He Still Holds Weight


Mike Vick definitely just turned himself in and will start serving his jail time.

"The order added that Vick was taken into custody "based solely on his desire to begin his period of incarceration prior to his sentencing hearing and not because of violation of any condition of his bond."
Wow. Looking at Bonds, Vick, Pacman, and Gary Sheffield this has been a terrible year to be a black athlete in America. Not that I condone the stranglation, castration, and electrocution of dogs, by the way.

In other news, let the Ookie jokes commence.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In West Philadelphia, Born and Raised...

After I dissected the hit black college show, “A Different World” in my last blog entry, many people took umbrage with my rating of the show’s primary theme song with Aretha Franklin. (D+)

Before you throw a fish net of disdain and anger on my soggy response, allow me to build a “bridge over troubled water” so that we can connect on this issue. Aretha Franklin is probably, hands down, one of the greatest singers, soul or otherwise, of the past 50 years. She personally owned the Grammy awards for a 10 year run, winning awards from “Best Female R&B Performance” to “Best Soul Gospel Performance.” Aretha cemented her status as a superstar with the “Living Legend” award and probably the greatest of them all, the “Lifetime Achievement Award.” Please believe…Aretha Franklin deserves all of the “respect” in the world.

However…her soulful voice, while crossing through generations and connecting with the young and old was ideal for American society as a whole, it put a wet blanket on the exuberance and enthusiasm that a college show brings to the table. While Aretha’s voice proved to be the motherly influence for the show, warning the characters (and the audience) that college “is a different world” from the neighborhoods back home that we come from, her voice saps the show of the youthful energy that accompanies the college experience. When I left to come to Howard, my mother’s words echoed Aretha’s soulful tune. But once I stepped onto campus and saw the Greek trees on the yard, the plethora of fine honeys frolicking about, and the opportunities that were ahead for the next four years of my life, my world moved out of the slow high school nostalgia to a quick paced sprint to understand more about this thing called “college.”

To me, Boys II Men’s rendition of the Dawnn Lewis’ penned song is exactly how my college experience as a junior is at this moment. I barely have time to conjure up great phrases and jokes for these Facebook “notes” because I’m writing papers, studying for tests, tutoring kids at the elementary school across the street, and staying alive in the tumultuous sea of college life. (Did I mention writing papers?) Plus, Boys II Men’s version, is well, just catchier. There just “ain’t nothing like the real thing”, baby.

So there’s my explanation for the low-grade of the show’s theme song from Seasons 2-5. It definitely was an upgrade from the Season 1 disaster (explained). So you can choose to agree with my decision to rank Boys II Men over Aretha in the theme song department…or not.

I’m just a “young, black, and gifted” writer, trying to make my stamp on this American world through my canvas on this Facebook world. (I promise I’ll stop with the Aretha Franklin song references…only obeying contract orders)

Let’s all pile into my Toyota Corolla, throw some D’s on it, pull into a McDonald’s drive thru, rap our entire order, turn up the throttle, and drive up to West Philly to check out The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!

(By the way, big ups to my friend, Daniel Gilmer, for finding out a cool way to trick Facebook so that I can tag all of you guys into my notes. Facebook while allowing someone to invite a bagillion people to a party, event, or group only allows myself to tag 30 people at a time to a “note”. However, this is how we were able to beat the man at his own game:

Step 1: Tag the maximum amount of people.
Step 2: These people find out that they’ve been tagged via “notifications.”
Step 3: Untag the original 30 people tagged.
Step 4: Re-tag a brand spanking new 30 people!
Step 5: Rinse, repeat till done…or fingers fall off from carpel tunnel.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: September 10, 1990- May 20, 1996 (6 Seasons)

My Introduction: A show that I once wanted to write a thesis about (not going to happen) succeeded in saving Will Smith’s career, ending DJ Jazzy Jeff’s, introducing catch phrases and dance moves to white society, allowing them to abuse them in daily speech (Word, Yo, etc.), and giving us a different look at family. “The Fresh Prince” was a more “realistic” version of the Cosby family, using the same template (problem child, college educated parents) but tackling a more expansive amount of issues that plagued the changing black society of the 90s. By the end of this show’s run, Will Smith was catapulted to Top 5 Black Male Actor status, every kid had a copy of Big Willie Style atop their boombox, and Alfonso Ribeiro became a mortal lock to appear on a Trivial Pursuit card or a Celebrity Reality TV Show next to Dustin Diamond.

The Main Characters that Held the Show Together and Gave Andy Borowitz and Werner Walian Jobs: Will Smith. Will Smith. Will Smith. What else do you want me to say? I mean…if he doesn’t prove that he can act better than he can rap, I’m not even declaring this show to be on the short list for Greatest Sitcom of All Time. I think that this show could have run forever with Vivian #1 (Janet Hubert-Witten) over Vivian #2 (Daphne Maxwell Reid). Viv #1 added a great dimension to the show which helped give Will an awesome supporting cast for him to grow into his role as an actor, while the additions of Vivian #2 and Nicky only put more pressure on Will to carry the load as the go-to-guy.

Rising Stars: B+ Since I’ve already talked about Will Smith turning the show into a huge movie career (Independence Day, Bad Boys, Men in Black, etc.), I’ll focus on the other guys. Karen Parsons (Hilary) had a role opposite Damon Wayans in (Major Payne) , Tatiana Ali was the girlfriend in the basketball version of Remember the Titans (Glory Road), James Avery became the voice of Shredder, one of the greatest cartoon villains ever in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, plus a guaranteed role as a guest star on any black sitcom.

(Joseph Marcell’s also staying busy. If you’ve got a penchant for theater and $22.95 to spare, you can see him perform in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” down at the Folger Shakespeare Theater. Yea, he’s not dead yet. Just don’t chuckle as loud as I did once I saw him in the Playbill. First, it’s a dead giveaway to the fact that you know nada about the actors of the play or decorum of theater life, plus it’s the equivalent of kicking a man while he’s down…except directly in the crotchal region.)

Moment that Show "Jumped the Shark":
After watching many mediocre black films starring Nia Long (The Best Man, Big Momma’s House, Are We There Yet?), I’ve realized that giving Nia Long a primary role on any principal cast for any movie/play/sitcom is the sports equivalent of allowing Norv Turner to call the shots as the head coach for any NFL football team. Honestly, Nia Long is a great role player alongside a loaded cast that owns most of the spotlight (Soul Food) and deflects attention away from her character flaws. I have no idea why Borowitz and Co. decided to allow Nia Long to play as Will’s girlfriend for the entire fifth season of the show. Why mess with a good thing, Hollywood? Once Will and Lisa ended up breaking up after Season 5, it marked the end of an era. Will was ready to star in motion pictures, and the show breathed its last.

Eye Candy (A+...but C+ in Season 5): From Seasons 1-4, the producers did a great job of creating a foolproof way to siphon in new “talent.” Freshman year, while we were playing hours of Madden ’06 and Nintendo’s Tecmo Bowl in the room, we always kicked random ideas (like this column) around. During this time, my friend J created the “Will Smith Mononucleosis Corollary” for the show. (Hey, it WAS freshman year)

Basically, it stated two ideas:
1. Because the show lived on the gimmick that Will was a stone-cold fox, destined to woo any girl that crossed his path in the hallway of Bel-Air Prep, we saw a huge influx of female black acting talent (Jasmine Guy, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Lark Voorhies from “Saved By the Bell”, Kim Fields from “Living Single”, Tisha Campbell, Leia Rochon, Garcelle Beauvais from “Jamie Foxx”, Vivica Fox, Victoria Rowell, plus all the random girls that didn’t even make the cut…)
2. These black actors wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to be featured on an episode of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” because it was pulling down a serious share of the Nielsen ratings, which made it an easy way of showcasing one’s talent for talent agencies across America. Will gets to lock lips with almost every significant female actor of the 1990’s era…and in return, they get a great shot at a bigger deal later on in the future.

Because of these two factors, it was a mortal lock for Will Smith, a hormonal 18 year old teen at the show’s start, to make out with an extreme amount of women over a three-year span. To this day, you’d be hardpressed to find a guy that wouldn’t trade places with Will for a year during this huge run. (I’m surprised Will Smith didn’t record a case on mononucleosis during his run on the Fresh Prince.) However, once Nia Long stepped in as Will’s main squeeze, it put a cap on the theory, and effectively ended one of the Top 5 reasons that a guy, white or black, watched the show. (And you wonder why I hate watching Season 5…)

Theme Song (A+) Since most of you started humming the theme song once you saw the title of my Facebook “note”, I think that this rating speaks for itself. If you wanted more than that for an explanation, just listen to this Fresh Prince hit to tide you over. (By the way, what the heck are Will and Jazz riding on top of in this video? A flat-bed truck? Music videos have come a long way since 1991…)

Best Season: Season 3: By Season 3, Will had been weaned off of his rap lingo by Uncle Phil and Co. (during Season 1, he constantly used words like “Bust a Groove”), and started to respect Carlton, cutting back on the “short” jokes that started to get annoying. Will also became a better actor, separating himself from the pack of actors on the show, but didn’t fall prey (yet) to his rising celebrity. Carlton cut back on the nerdom (please, watch Season 1 for effect) and Hilary received a less pronounced role. Plus, the house was finished with its makeover process.

Worst Season: Season 6: There was no explanation for Nicky becoming five years older from Seasons 5-6, or Vivian #2. The producers also failed to realize that a guy that tries to talk to girls in high school (Will) is laughed off as a goofy heartthrob and a lovable character. No one likes that same guy once he’s 23 and lacks career goals. The producers clearly lost a grip on the show once the Will/Lisa saga ended.

Overall Rating: (A+) Honestly, I never get tired of this show. When you get to the point where you can guess the episode from the beginning two lines…you’re definitely a die-hard fan. Here’s my Top 5 Episodes from the show:

5. Did the Earth Move For You?: (Season 2) During an earthquake Will finds out more about his new found love then he ever wanted to. Kathleen (Tisha Campbell) begins to reveal her true self when she and Will are trapped in the basement during the quake. We’re talking fake hair, fake nails, fake…everything.
4. You’ve Got to Be A Football Hero: (Season 4) Will uses booze to prove his manliness while competing with a hulking football hero who wants to score points with Jackie, and his fraternity brothers leave drunken Will in a cemetery, where he is haunted.
3. Just Say Yo!: (Season 3) As the big dance approaches, Carlton breaks out with a huge zit on his forehead. In a frenzied state, Carlton pops a huge dose of amphetamine pills from Will’s locker, mistaking them for Vitamin E tablets. Will learns a valuable lesson about drug use.
2. That’s No Lady, That’s My Cousin!: (Season 3) When Ashley enrolls at the newly created co-ed Bel-Air prep, she vies for the attention of guys by dressing like the girls that Will falls for at the school. Will also wins the heart of Veronica (Garcelle Beauvais) by acting more like a gentleman and not like a slobbering jet setter.

Show's Golden Quote:
Carlton: "Will, check out the talent! She's cool, she's hot-"
Will: "She's your sister man!"
Carlton: "AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!"
1. The Butler Did It: (Season 2) When Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv go out of town for a quick getaway, Carlton wants to make some quick loot and decides to rent out the house for a popular R&B group, Bel Biv Devoe, for their music video. When the furniture gets ruined once the set’s cleared out, hijinks ensue as the Banks kids race to fix the house back to normal before Uncle Phil gets back.

Now, Here’s Your NBA Season Preview of the Atlantic Division:
(this, time…it’s in haiku)

1. Boston Celtics:
Kevin, Ray, and Paul.
These guys will be unselfish.
Boston wins the East.

2. New Jersey Nets:
Jay Kidd is very old.
Vince needs to drive to the hole.
Rich has much to show.

3. New York Knicks:
Eddy loves to EAT.
Jamal makes it rain from three.
Steph, please…play some D.

4. Toronto Raptors:
Don’t trade big for small. (T.J. Ford for Charlie Villanueva)
Chris Bosh suffers season slump.
Why is Sam still employed? (How was Sam Mitchell Coach of the Year in ’07?)

5. Philadelphia 76ers:
Worst team in the league.
AI laughs at your GM.
See you guys in ’08.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

N.J. Begins Testing High School Athletes for Steroids - Sports

Here's one of my articles from "The Hilltop", published last December.

N.J. Begins Testing High School Athletes for Steroids - Sports

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Ginormous Plan to Get Past the Dregs of October

During my years as a college student, I’ve always lived by this mantra to squeeze by the horrible Fall Semester.
“If you can get by unscathed during the month of October, you can handle the rest of Fall Semester.”- TTK

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly the inspirational quote that you were expecting. However, with Election Day (for the High Schoolers, yeah I’m still bitter about the Facebook high school thing. It SHOULD be a right of passage), Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving we’ve only got two full weeks of school in the month of November. Once Thanksgiving break is over, most schools only have one week of school before finals, and then Christmas Break starts up!

October has got to be the worst month of the school year. Here at the Real HU, almost every instructor gives their 1st class exams during the first week of the month. Everyone suddenly gets locked in after summer break (finally), and professors start separating the phonies from the realistic. Most clubs, organizations, and other campus groups jampack events into this month before and after Homecoming week, an idea that would be perfect…if all of the professors didn’t decide to save their 2nd exams for the week AFTER homecoming for fear that their students won’t study.

Also, after experiencing three Homecomings at Howard, I have only one word to describe the hype = overrated. My reasons behind this judgment are threefold:

1. Once you’ve participated in all of the events one time around (Freshman Year), nothing really changes. It’s like watching a rerun of a game when you already know who’s going to get the W.

2. I don’t know, but it’s hard to get excited about second-tier performers and the idea that supermanning a hoe is actually a good thing. As fellow blogger MJD said, “Once white people realize the meaning behind the song, they are not going to be happy. How do people have the time to come up with these things?”

3. The geniuses that run Howard University always find innovative ways to ruin an completely carefree week. Remember earlier when I said that most cool teachers hold off on exam until the week after Homecoming? Well, now that the brainiacs that run our school decided to place our midterms during the same exact week as Homecoming, and the jerks teachers that still give tests during that week, I have to sidestep drunk college students, blast Kenny G in my room to outblast the douchebags who plays Rich Boy’s Throw Some D’s on repeat, and give directions to folks that are coming to have the good time at Howard that I won’t.

I’m also emotionally tapped out, especially after Darius’ death and the subsequent funeral and thoughts I’ve had since that day. (I’m thinking about writing a story about the entire experience) Greyhound even jaded me this weekend, failing to have enough buses on schedule to support its’ travelers, leaving me – and another 40+ folks – sleeping on the floor of a New York terminal until 6:30am the next morning. It’s been a terrible October.

That’s why I’ve always looked forward to November. It signifies thanks, the beginning of good tidings, a time where everyone is warm and people are generally more appreciative of each other. I’ve had a LOT to be thankful to God for this year.

But more importantly…it’s the start of the NBA season!!!!

I had a ginormous plan to give you Facebookers and readers of my blog to do an awesome preview of each NBA Team before the start of the ’07 Season. Unfortunately I left out one tiny detail...I’d have to write it in October.

So I’m going to give a quick breakdown of the finishes of each division. However, since I love old TV and Cartoon shows, I’m also gonna write a quick synopsis of each of my favorite throwbacks. Since I’ve already been talking about Homecoming at my black colleges and life at the Real HU, let’s just drive further down I-95 and check out Bill Cosby’s Debbie Allen’s hit TV spinoff – “A Different World!”

“A Different World”: September 23, 1987 – July 9, 1993 (6 Seasons)

My Introduction: The family comedy that combined the talents of an annoying, rich light-skinned Cinderella (Whitley Gilbert), an “older” college student (Jalessa Vincent), the overconfident fratboy from School Daze (Ron Johnson), a spunky rebel turned law student (Freddie Brooks), and a confident, young engineer with the “flip-up” shades from Brooklyn who definitely “was somebody” according to the poster on his wall (Dwayne Wayne). By the end of this show’s end, Kadeem Hardison – as well the cast of this hip show – were definitely somebodies in the hearts of black students and America.

The Main Characters Who Held The Show Together and Gave Debbie Allen a Job: (A-) Sorry Lisa Bonet, but your pregnancy from Lenny Kravitz paved the way for Debbie Allen to work her magic on this show. Relative unknowns like Hardison and Jasmine Guy evolved as the anchors of this show, while supporting cast talent like Darryl Bell (Ron), Dawnn Lewis (Jalessa), and Cree Summer (Freddie) rounded out the show. While this show couldn’t have lasted without Dwayne or Whitney, the producers did a good job of making sure that no cast member completely dominated the show, allowing the principle cast to hang around for 4 straight seasons.

Rising Stars: (C+) Unfortunately due to the Cosby curse, none of the characters from “A Different World” went on to have spectacular careers. Jada Pinkett dominated Season 6 but was seen as a person that was using the show completely as a warm-up round before her stint in the limelight. Cree Summer has become one of the greatest voice talents of the “great cartoon era” lending her voice to project such as Tiny Toon Adventures (Elmira), Rugrats (Susie), Code Name: Kids Next Door (Number 5), Danny Phantom (Valerie), that random black girl from As Told By Ginger, Drawn Together (Foxxy Love), etc, etc, etc. Yeah, her voice is pretty famous.

Moment that Show “Jumped the Shark”: I think that Debbie Allen saw the writing on the wall when the screenwriters had the perfect marriage in place between Dwayne and Whitley at the end of Season 4. Marrying these two would’ve left too many potential episodes ideas on the table, as well as instantly promote these two characters to “alpha dog” status on the show. Hardison and Guy would have actively pursued pay raises and superiority on the set, and Ron, Jalessa, and Freddie would’ve been left out in the cold. When the producers finally relent to their wacky marriage at the end of Season 5…it marked the end of an era. Jalessa saw the writing on the wall and left the show, hurting its plotline (her marriage to Col. Taylor) and the youth movement that ensued crippled the ratings.

Eye Candy: (A-) Yeah, because this show was in a college atmosphere, the episodes were loaded with babes. From the removal of Denise (Lisa Bonet) for Jasmine Guy in Season 2, the revamped Freddie in Season 6, Jada Pinkett being…well…Jada Pinkett, the severely underrated Kim Reese, and the youth movement that destroyed the show, added great “talent” to the viewing public. Hey, even Millie and Maggie from Season 1 weren’t half-bad. Plus with nerds like Dwayne and Ron dominating the show gave normal guys hope that they had a fighting chance, which in reality is totally unrealistic…unless you’ve got bank.

Theme Song: (D+…until Season 6: A-) Even though Dawnn Lewis is a talented actor on the show, there is no way a show created for the young, college-age audience should have had a song with such a slow tempo. I love Phoebe Show and Aretha Franklin…but once Boys II Men sang the theme in Season 6, it took the show to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. I’m even humming the tune as I write this sentence. (Unfortunately, even these Grammy winners couldn’t save this show from gagging during this season…nice song though.)

Best Season: Season 4. Sinbad and Mr. Gaines come into their own as role players, Dwayne and Whitney become synonymous with college love, Ron/Kim/Freddie begin their love triangle, Matthew was the “token” but hilarious white guy that dated Kim (never would’ve happen in real life with Kim’s personality), Dwayne turns down the Kinishiwa job in Tokyo to teach at Hillman, and Jalessa and Col. Taylor start their trip down an interesting (and totally revolting) relationship culminating in marriage. (Plus there were no annoying RA’s like Stevie or Lettie from the earlier seasons to ruin the fun…)

Worst Season: Season 1. I’m so glad that Cosby and Allen understood that Denise had NO chance of carrying the show on her back, given her limited acting experience. The producers realized that the trio of true stars (Dwayne/Whitley/Ron) were getting outshined by the melodrama that ensued with Denise. (Definitely proven true by the amount of “guest” appearances made by the Cosby Show’s characters over the course of Season 1) I loved Maggie, but since she depended heavily on Denise she too had to go. This was an extremely gutsy move by Allen because it completely severed the ties from the Cosby Show, making “A Different World” an entirely separate undertaking.

Overall Rating: (A) Because of its’ rewatchability and the comparisons that can be made to my life at this point, I’d give it the A. (Nick at Nite and Oxygen are slacking on the reruns right now) We’ll see where I stand in 5-10 years.

Now, here’s your NBA Season Preview of the Southeast Division:
(from best to worst)

1. Miami Heat: Even though D-Wade’s down for the first month, I don’t think any team in this division’s got the cojones to grab the reins from the 2006 World Champs yet. Yes, I’m saying this even though Shaq’s going to use the entire regular season to get in shape for the playoffs.

2. Orlando Magic: People are already criticizing the Magic brass for signing All-Star Rashard Lewis to a mega-deal. However, by going with Stan Van Gundy over the fan favorite Billy Dee (who left anyway to go coach Florida again); Orlando’s going to make huge strides this season. I’ve already predicted Dwight Howard to be the MVP this season and if they can add a solid two-guard to replace J.J. Redick the Magic will be a force in the East.

3. Atlanta Hawks: As my boy Obi said to me a week ago, “All those years of drafting forwards is finally going to pay off. Playoffs, Playoffs, PLAYOFFS!!!” Well, maybe they won’t make the postseason, but with Acie Law and Al Horford joining a more mature Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Co. in the A, they’ll get close.

4. Washington Wizards: I can’t believe a team that made the playoffs allowed 104.9 PPG (28th in the league)! I don’t care if Gilbert puts up career numbers in his contract year, or that Caron was injured for the last month of the year, a team with a coach more interested in his acting career (okay, I’ve abused that joke) than his squad leaves the 2007-08 Wiz as my disappointment franchise of the year.

5. Charlotte Bobcats: They’re here only because I can’t bring myself to pull the Wizards as the last team in this conference when they had the BEST record in the East at the All-Star break last year. However, don’t be fooled…these guys are good. If only Jordan wasn’t such an atrocious GM.

Thanks for reading this long post everybody, and I’ll see you later with my next division (and show) breakdown!


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Why Black Guys Need to Be in Sports: Reason #2

I was just goofing off on YouTube and stumbled across this Tecmo Bowl masterpiece. "The Nigerian Nightmare" must be the greatest nickname ever created for a running back. Christian Okoye, I salute you!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

"Blessed Are They That Mourn..."

Sorry for slacking off on the posts...

On Monday morning, I found out that one of my good friends from NY, Darius Jenkins, was shot and killed in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY. This is a very sad time for the Bethel Gospel Tabernacle church family, as all of our young people are very close. Darius and I worked together as sound technicians at BGT, and was a diligent, consistent, dependable guy, always serving to the glory of God. I was the key guy training him to take over due to my departure for Howard University for education.

(Here's a clip of the article, found in the New York Times)

Because of this tragedy, I will be traveling all day back to New York for his wake, funeral, and burial in order to support his family, friends, and loved ones. The funeral will be on Friday, November 2, 2007. I had been previously planned on starting my series on the NBA season today, complete with analysis, projections, and predictions, but I will hold off on the project until later.

However, to avoid the ensuing controversy due to the fact that I will be able to learn more about the teams over the next couple of days that may skew my predictions, here's a brief breakdown on my expectations for this NBA season.

Eastern Conference Playoffs
1. Chicago Bulls (w/ or w/o Kobe)
2. Boston Celtics
3. Detroit Pistons
4. Orlando Magic
5. Miami Heat
6. Washington Wizards
7. Toronto Raptors
8. New York Knicks

Barely Missing Out: Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavs, New Jersey Nets

Western Conference Playoffs
1. Phoenix Suns
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Denver Nuggets
4. Dallas Mavericks
5. Houston Rockets
6. Utah Jazz
7. Memphis Grizzlies
8a. Los Angeles Lakers (w/ Kobe)
8b. Portland Trailblazers (w/o Kobe in LA)

Barely Missing Out: Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Hornets

MVP: Dwight Howard (KG, runner up)
Coach of the Year: Stan Van Gundy, Rick Adelman
NBA Finals: San Antonio over Chicago (4-2)

Keep Darius' family, friends, and loved ones in your prayers, and me as I travel back to New York.


Friday, October 19, 2007

What You Know 'Bout Dat: HU Homecoming

This weekend's gonna be crazy. You see, I am a college student. A college student that goes to "The Mecca," "The Capstone," "The Hilltop."

I am a black guy that goes to Howard University. Stereotypical, isn't it?

Our school's "Homecoming" for 2007 happens to be this weekend. If you don't know anything about black college homecomings, gather up some dinero, put it in a plastic bag, and make it rain with me after the jump:

Here's the skinny on the Howard University Homecoming:
1. Lots of food, games, and free stuff.
2. Scantily-clad women frolicking about.
3. New artists (attempt to) gain fans and prove their worth by performing at Yardfest.
4. Random sightings of stunt-doubles, 2nd tier actors (think: Morris Chestnut), Lil' Bow Wow, washed-up NFL players, Antoine Bethea, Tyson Beckford (who?), and other assorted thespians who's careers are gasping for air.

Basically, Homecoming is a mega-palooza that swallows up all of D.C. in its wake. This includes all artists, writers, columnists, perverts, frat boys, students, Congressmen (probably coming for the scantily-clad women)...and bloggers. If I get a post in at any time this weekend, feel free to pat me on the back.

Next Week: My formal introduction to the blogosphere and an ode to Joe Torre's career.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why Black Guys Need to Be in Sports: Reason #1

Kenny Lofton is officially= "The Man."

As Eric B. and Rakim once said, "Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em."

And for the record:
In Dancing= Black/Hispanic Guys > White Guys.


Tim McCarver Might As Well Start Pronouncing "Jhonny Peralta" Correctly...

Red Sox fans have just gotta love Manny Ramirez. He takes a routine run to the little boy's room during the middle of covering left field during games at Fenway, he derisively mocks all that baseball represents (and Bud Selig wants), and doesn't think his team still has a shot at winning the pennant even though the season isn't over....what, wha??
"Why should we panic?" he said Wednesday in a rare clubhouse interview. "We've got a great team." And then, this: "It doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like it's the end of the world."

The whole article is chocked full of rich, Manny being Manny goodness. Normally, Red Sox fans would be throwing tea off the edge of the harbor and demanding a trade by now. Looks like the '04 Championship chilling in the trophy case has cooled their jets a bit.

Also, Manny's got to be the only athlete that can say some totally outlandish crap and just get it written off as "Manny being Manny" in his city. Eh, so goes the Manny Ramirez saga in Beantown.

Bill Simmons must be banging his head against a desk right about now.

The Sports Truth: "In Boston, Manny Ramirez Era Like None Other"
ESPN: "Ramirez: Elimination from ALCS not 'end of the world' for Boston"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Looking Ahead to Next Season...

There's been one question that has overshadowed the entire baseball playoffs. No, not if God will keep the Colorado Rockies loss-free this postseason, or C.C. Sabathia finally pitching a big game for the Tribe, or even if Coco Crisp, Dustin Pedroia, or Julio Lugo will even attempt to get on base for the Red Sox during this series.

Here's the whopper that has effectively glossed over the entire MLB postseason:

Will Joe Torre get his job back in the Bronx?

George Steinbrenner, a guy who at this point might be completely comatose and frozen over like Walt Disney, might be using the Joe Saga to draw attention to the Yankees in anticipation for the 2008 season. Seeing how he's worked over the past 20 years (my lifetime), there's no way I can put it past him. Unfortunately for baseball fans, the 2007 Season hasn't ended yet. After many years and events, I have finally come to understand why fans around the world love to hate the Yankees.

Just look at the city of Cleveland. Cleveland has a baseball team, a squad that hasn't even tasted a complete season of victory since 1948, in the process of shellacking an overrated Yankee team...and your town's biggest sports hero, Lebron James, shows up IN A YANKEES FITTED CAP!

Granted, we know that the Yankees have dominated paraphernalia sales over the last decade (thanks, Jay-Z!) and are clearly America's team in the sport. But, do you really, REALLY want your legend-in-the-making to rock a cap in support of the visiting team?

Right now, the Indians are in the process of dismantling a sturdy Red Sox powerhouse, but the newspapers, journals, and the WWL are talking about Joe Torre, Mo Rivera, A-Rod offseason plans, and even Derek Jeter's trysts in his hotel room.

Like any other Yankee fan, I'm worried about our offseason acquisitions, but let's stick initally to the playoff picture, overanxious copy editors...


Saturday, October 13, 2007

"They Are Who We Thought They Were!" - Part Deux

Before I break down the rankings of these top NFL teams in what I have now dubbed “CoorsSpeak”, I have to let everyone know why my heart has been so downtrodden over the past two weeks. As a fan or enthusiast of every team associated with New York City (and if you want to count the Buffalo Bills, NY State), it has been a tumultuous, heart-wrenching, disastrous run since the advent of October. Let’s look at this trail of tears:

September 29- The Mir’land Terps merck the nationally-ranked Rutgers squad on their home turf in Jersey by running buckwild over Greg Schiano’s coaching aspirations in the second-half, ending any possible attempt for Rutgers to compete as a national title contender.

September 30: 1pm- The New York Mets complete the most historic collapse in sports history, coughing up a 7 game lead in the NL East with two weeks left in the season. The Mets are officially the biggest choke artists in the Big Apple since Charles Smith in the ‘93 Eastern Conference finals.

September 30: 4pm- Chad Pennington confirms the arguments of every sound critic, print journalist, and Deion Sanders-esque talking head around the NFL by throwing an floating gumdrop to Bills CB Terrence McGee, ending the Jets’ chances in Buffalo. In other news, Curtis Martin tears another ACL in his sleep.

October 2- GM, Head Coach (and potential brother on the DL) Isiah Thomas is found guilty for sexual harassment. The Knicks are officially the laughingstock of the NBA.

October 3- The NHL returns. Enough said.

October 4- The Yankees get burned at the Jake , (instead of the stake...get it?) 12-3.

October 5: Joba Chamberlain delivers a passed-ball in the bottom of the 8th, wasting Andy Pettite’s spectacular performance and allowing the Indians to go up 2-0 in the series.

October 6: Kevin Garnett proves that he actually WANTS to make the playoffs this season, putting up a 19-17-5 steal night as Boston demolishes the Atlantic Division champion Raptors.

October 7: The Jets get shellacked at the Meadowlands by the G-Men (our hated rivals), 35-24, topped off by Plexi-Plax Burress stiff-arming CB Andre Dyson to put the Giants ahead for good.

October 8: Joe Torre receives death threat ultimatum from the ageless George Steinbrenner, causing the Yankees to start a weakened, terrible Chien-Ming Wang on three days rest...basically, he stunk up the joint. Yankees lose...and the whole world mourns.

October 9: Mike Benjamin repeatedly bangs his head on desk...over...and over....

However, after this terrible string of failure, the Knicks decide to bring a little hope to the abused New York sports fan. Allan Houston, after a year struggling to make sense of the monstrocity that is ESPN’s NBA Fastbreak, has rubbed Ben-Gay on his surgically repaired knees and has elected to return to the Garden as a member of the New York Knickerbockers. I was....speechless.

Even though I received a deluge of hate mail from every Knick hater and realist in America, I have to believe that this Houston signing is the one option that can only benefit this team. If you think about it logically, he is a low-risk, high-reward type of gamble that the Knicks can afford to pull. I don’t doubt that the move a ploy to take the heat off of Isiah after the trial. I don’t doubt that it puts more fans in an arena that already sells out almost every game of the NBA season. (At the very least, we know Allan Houston's gonna lead the half court prayer after the game. With crazies like Marbury, Curry, and Z-Bo on our team, that's a positive start out of the Eastern Conference cellar...)

Anyway, let’s get back to the Power Poll:

Dennis Green- “That’s bulls***. Bull-S***!!!”

12. Baltimore Ravens (3-2):
As many of you pointed out over the last week, I failed in my placement of the resurging Cleveland Browns. The Browns kept pace with a red-hot Patriots team for an entire half, won a shootout with the Bengals, and demasculated these Ravens at the Dog Pound. Truth be told, I believed that this Raven team would be ready to compete with the best of the AFC going into 2007. The Ravens went out and grabbed a top running back (Willis McGahee) to replace the artifact that cost them the game against the Colts last January (Jamal Lewis). Brian Billick’s young weapons showed promise as dangerous threats (Demetrius Williams, Mark Clayton) for Air McNair, and the aging receivers still had serviceable years left on the tank (Derrick Mason). The Ravens also had an top-5 TE (Todd Heap), and a strong offensive line led by perennial Pro-Bowler Jon Ogden. However, the Ravens’ victories haven’t been reassuring (Niners, Jets, Arizona...Kurt Warner only played the 2nd half) and they’re only one McNair groin injury away from another Kyle Boller year.

Dick Vermeil- "You have to learn to handle it, okay? You have to learn to handle your own intensity."

11. Houston Texans (3-2):
Now’s not the time for Texans fans to get overzealous. Houston has played well above anyone’s expectations, and has hopes to challenge for a wild-card spot in the confusing AFC picture. No matter how well Matt Schaub has been playing without Andre Johnson, he’s gonna need his top gun back in the saddle for the Texans to have a ghost’s chance at beating the powers atop the AFC.

10. Tampa Bay Bucs (3-2): Picture this. You’re Jeff Garcia. You are the leader of a team that can outright win their division because the Saints (terrible), Panthers (Vinny Testaverde as QB), and Atlanta (no offensive line) are all starting to cough up blood. The team that you get canned from is struggling to find their groove, your coach (Gruden) has anointed you the Savior of the franchise (as well as his fading head coaching career). Plus, everybody now thinks the guy that intimated your gayness on national TV (T.O.) is mentally unstable in his own right, and voila!’ve got a revised public appearance. If the Bucs continue to rack up W’s, I’d expect to see Jeff Garcia sipping a martini on the rocks with David Letterman in a few weeks.

Dennis Green- “The rules are fair. The regulations are fair. The competitive balance is fair.”

9. Tennessee Titans (3-1):
Vince Young is one of the most erratic QB’s in the NFL right now. Vince can either destroy your fantasy team or hand you this trophy. Jeff Fisher made a smart move by signing a hired gun (Eric Moulds), a guy who knows all about working with erratic signal-callers. I really don’t understand why the Titans have proven to be one of the stronger teams in the NFL this year. I’ll just deride them by pointing at their two weak victories (New Orleans, Atlanta) and ride into the sunset, waiting until they eventually level off.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1): Existing as the super-sleeper in the NFL right now, the Jags have beaten teams with ball control and few mistakes. Switching to the more mobile, accurate QB (David Garrard) has brought a proven winner to the forefront. Also, the evolution of Dennis Northcutt as a pass-receiving wideout has helped the Jags ease pressure on their running attack while improving their success rate on 3rd downs. If Jack Del Rio continues to work on his team’s progress rather than making routine trips to Men’s Warehouse, we might see Jacksonville make the playoffs.

7. Seattle Seahawks (3-2): The Seahawks, a team that once made America giddy with their snazzy four WR sets, their Pro-Bowl RB, and their strong, power OL (Hutchinson and Walter Jones), now reeks with the smell of normalcy. I finally understood this fact once I looked at my FoxSports fantasy roster (Hasselbeck, Alexander, Branch, Seattle DEF) and asked myself this question:
“Why do I consider these three guys untradeable?”

Only a few years ago, Deion Branch was an elite receiver (Tom Brady effect), Shaun Alexander was atop the league in rushing (#2 RB taken in Fantasy), and Hasselback was the undisputed best QB in the NFC. Now? I think Mike Holmgren’s best years are behind him.

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-2): Yes, those Arizona Cardinals get the favorable spot here at #8 for a myriad of reasons. First, they beat the Seahawks in Week 1. Secondly, the QB controversy is finally over thanks to Will Witherspoon’s snapping of Matt Leinart’s collarbone. Since Warner took over for Leinart in the Baltimore game, the defense has been lights out, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald woke up from their slumbers, and Edge James...well, maybe EVERYTHING’s not glee-filled in Cardinal land. (Kurt Warner must have Kurt Franklin’s “Jesus Is The Reason for the Season” playing in his SUV...)

5. Washington Redskins (3-1): The Skins have one of the best defenses, top to bottom, in the NFL. They demolished a highly touted Lions team at FedEx Field, and Jason Campbell looked like a superstar, sharing the wealth with Randle El, Cooley, Portis, and Betts. Even Mike “The Weapon” Sellers got into the action. Once Washington takes care of business up at Lambeau this Sunday, folks will start to take this team long last. (When you have ½ of the Jets’ roster in your locker room, of course your team will be dominating!)

Mike Ditka- “I have the drive...believe me...and the enthusiasm is growing in me as I talk to you people.”

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1):
After an 8-8 season and a year where they lost a legendary coach to retirement, many reporters and NFL fans had written off the Steelers in 2007, especially because Pittsburgh was in a solid AFC North division with improving teams. (Plus, no one believed that Mike Tomlin was the real deal) However, the Steelers have prospered. Though Hines Ward has been shelved with another leg injury, guys continue to step up as targets for Big Ben to find in the offense. Though the Steelers have decided to create the most blatantly gay mascot for their proud city, the well as this team...have responded.

3. Dallas Cowboys (5-0): When a legend like Bill Parcells gets canned for a guy that was on the wrong side of the Music City Miracle, it just doesn’t look promising for America’s team. Jason Garrett, the Dallas offensive coordinator was found guilty of using performance enhancement drugs during his playing days, and was punished by the NFL. While T.O. led the league with TD catches, he also dropped the most catchable passes, some that could have been potential game-changers. Also, would Tony Romo recover from the fumbled snap in Seattle? Though many question marks were looming over the ‘Boys at the start of their 2007 campaign, their intensity has placed them atop the league, seen by many as the team to beat in the NFC. On Monday night, Dallas proved that they could win an intense game, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. We’ll see if this trend continues when they take on the Pats…perhaps the most touted matchup of the NFL season.

2. Indianapolis Colts (5-0): A lot of folks choose not to respect the Colts. Here are the common complaints from the peanut gallery:
“Sure, Peyton Manning puts up gaudy numbers, but their defense has no superstars.”
“Of course Reggie Wayne is atop the league leaders in TDs…he’s got Marvin Harrison drawing double coverages on the other side of the field.”
“Any quarterback with a cohesive offensive line would be successful in that offensive system.”

These are the defending World Champs! These guys tore through a Rex-led Bear team to win the championship. (Wait…gotta retract that argument…) The Colts are built with a bend, but don’t break attitude, a philosophy that usually decays most teams. But…they just know how to win games. And now that Peyton Manning doesn’t have to worry about being compared to Marino…watch out.

1. New England Patriots (5-0): After the incident with the Jets victory, dubbed many different names (CameraGate, BeliGate), a finding that destroyed a lot of Bill Belichick’s credibility as coach. Most people would have been emotionally shaken, and floundered under the unimaginable pressures that faced them as head coach of a football dynasty. Not Chairman Bill. The Patriots have beaten every team they’ve played this year by 20+ points, and will surely roll through Dallas at the Star this Sunday. I picked New England to be waiting at the Super Bowl this year, and I know we’ll see the deluge of Brady-talk and Belichick….and some Moss…in February ’08. The only thing these guys can’t win? A high performance helicopter.

Peace! I’ll leave you with one more clip. Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Great One Returns!

I am elated. Just speechless. Now, maybe Modells' can finally get those old jerseys off the shelves. Trust me, the ESPN gig just wasn't for you.

Ladies and gentleman...the king has returned!

Allan Houston, welcome back to the Garden, baby!!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"They Are Who We Thought They Were!" - Part 1

(Editor's Note: This blog was first published at, where the author had previously been posting his blog notes and such.)

Yes, I know already. I've been slacking on my Facebook "note" game.

Maybe it's because Facebook doesn't let me tag all of my friends and classmates to these creations even though someone can make an "event" or "group" and tag everyone. Maybe because I'm busy trying to holla at girls having a really, REALLY tiring junior year.

Or maybe it's because I'm just a lazy schnuck.

Whatever the case, a ton of people have been on my case to write-up a new Facebook note for their enjoyment. I've even got people scrounging my Profile page for quotes and ancedotes, as evidenced by one O. Chris, a big-time Falcons fan and overall enthusiast of my notes:
"Let me just first say that in reference to your Quotes, Michael Vick is/was a good QB. But, now for the real reason that I came here: I feel compelled to share this with someone and you seem the most appropriate. This is probably going to change, but as of now (Week 5), I think my picks for the last two weeks of the NFL season are as follows..."

After I finished reading O.Chris' lengthy wall post that was capped off by his prediction of a Packers/Patriots Super Bowl (a rematch of the 1995 season that had Bledsoe and Parcells pitted against Favre and the incomparable Reggie White in their primes), I realized that I've never made any predictions for this NFL season. Why not break out the Power Rankings capped off by my Super Bowl prediction in this Facebook "note" as a little warm-up for my school year of blog writing?

(Note: I really should take the time to expound on the MLB Playoffs and lament about the eventual end to the Yankees dynasty and Joe Torre's career. However, I realize that no one (except the Red Sox fans that will gloat at our expense) would care. Howard University is such a football-heavy school (even though our games stay empty), which makes it tough to embrace other sports on this campus. Plus, it looks like the Red Sox are about to take another I'll pass on the hyperbole. If you wanna hear more about baseball and the playoffs in general, listen to the guys at this radio station.

The categories are in honor of the innovative Coors' Light commercials and their coaches; Dennis Green, Jim Mora, Mike Ditka, Dick Vermeil, Bill Parcells. No matter how many times NBC, FO
X, and CBS shove these commercials down our throats, I will always enjoy a hearty LOL at your expense. Just keep pumping out the stupid quotes fellas.

Jim Mora- "I just hope we can win a game!"

32. Buffalo Bills (1-3):
Looking at this Bills team this season, you had to believe that this was a team that from the outset of this season was destined for fa
ilure. Their superstar running back (McGahee) abandoned them for better pasture (Ravens), their quarterback controversy involved a washed-up QB and a unproven rookie (Losman/Edwards), and their only deep threat (Lee Evans) now draws double teams every game, making his fantasy value plummet faster than George Bush's approval ratings. Plus, their coach is Dick Jauron...the same guy who though Jim Miller would be the answer at QB for the Bears a few seasons back. (Guess that didn't work out too well...)

31. New York Jets (1-4): I'll be the first Jet fan to admit that we got fortunate with some W's last season. Two years ago, the Jets had the 4th worst record in football, and was rewarded with a last place schedule las year (playing the Raiders in Week 17). Plus, our rookie OL's (D'Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold) played lights out, allowing Chad to sit back and dump off passes untouched, and made guys like Leon Washington and Kevan Barlow look like stars. There HAD to be a dropoff, and without a vertical passing game, our goose is as good as cooked.

30. New Orleans Saints (0-4): As America watched the U.S. Saints march on after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and sprint behind the wheels of Reginald Bush to the NFC Championship, I wondered aloudl while sipping on a great Checkers milkshake: "Can this team do it again next year?" How can I, a guy that witnessed a resurgence of Drew Brees, as a Pro-Bowl QB leading a dynamite offense (on turf no less)? I was concerned because I didn’t know the name of ANYONE on the Saints defense. The Saints front seven is filled with unknowns that were swept down the Mississippi to revive their careers in the bayou, and Sean Payton has the audacity to continue starting Jason David at cornerback after the whipping Reggie Wayne gave him on national TV in the Week 1 rout. It’s going to be a long season for the Cajuns down under.

29. Miami Dolphins (0-5): Aging, Mediocre QB + an Aging, Overrated D= 4-12 season. They just let Kris Brown beat them with a 52-yarder at the buzzer and Daunte Culpepper get his roll on with 5 TD the week before. Let the John Beck era begin!
(Since I’ve already mentioned the other 3 teams in the AFC East…I believe we can go ahead and hand the Pats the division again this year…)

28. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3): I know there are some teams that have worse records that these guys, but let’s step back a
nd put this squad under the electron microscope for a sec. Brodie Croyle is their guy under center…who was trash in Alabama at QB. Larry Johnson continues to receive death threats from a ton of fantasy owners for his 20 yard performances. Dwayne Bowe returned to obscurity after his breakout game against Norv! and the Chargers. Herm Edwards is still the worst coach when it comes to winning the big games because he can’t manage the clock. (Thanks for the 4th round draft pick Chiefs.) This team just finished being murdered by Jacksonville (a sleeper team at 3-1) at Arrowhead, and need to dig into Lamar Hunt’s grave for a new fighting spirit…or some great draft picks in 2008.

Jim Mora "Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs! Playoffs?"

27. St. Louis Rams (0-5):
It’s a shame that we have to watch yet another wide receiver (Issac Bruce) slowly erode his legacy as one of the leaders of the “Greatest Show on Turf” by playing down-after-down in this mistake of a franchise. I placed the Rams in th
is bracket instead of squeezing them in with the five teams that preceded it because I really felt that the Rams would have a serious shot at competing for a playoff spot in their division. The NFC West has no true team that will flat out dominate that division. However, the key to the Rams’ demise lieth in the presence of two elements: The double-white guy system at QB & RB. No offense…but once I saw Brian Leonard lace up his Reebok cleats on the sidelines to replace Steve Jackson, I knew that the fat lady had just sang her last note.

Oakland Raiders (2-2)
Once again, Lane Kiffin tries to be the answer in Oakland as the youngest coach to ever lead an NFL team. In a division where taking a bye week makes a team look great by comparison, it’s hard for me to find a spot for this team. I’ll once again roll back to the QB issues (Cade McNown, Culpepper). Even though Daunte scored 5TD’s against the Dolphins two weeks ago, he only put up 100 yards passing. Either of these guys just spells failure in my book.

24a. Minnesota Vikings
24b. San Francisco 49ers

Face it, you’re looking at two teams that are spitting images of one another. Here’s the checklist:
Above-Average Defenses? [CHECK]
Potentially Devastating Running Attack? [CHECK}
Young Receivers That Need Time to Develop? [CHECK]

Coach that Wears Pen in Ear at all Times While on Sideline? [CHECK]
Terrible, Terrible QB’s destined to kill this team down the stretch in every big
game? [CHECK]

If they didn’t have such terrible offenses that will allow teams to stack the line on every single down, I would pick these guys in a heartbeat to be in the hunt. However, I have no faith in Tavaris Jackson, Trent Dilfer, Alex Smith, or Brooks Bollinger.

23. Atlanta Falcons (1-4): I really
thought the Falcons had a chance to shake up the division this year. Even’s Bill Simmons picked these guys to be the next recipients of his Ewing Theory …whatever that means. Bobby Petrino got a huge break, avoiding having to create an entirely new offensive system for Michael Vick and getting the luxury of having a built-in guy ready to take the blame for his mistakes (Joey Harrington). The defense, while losing top DE Patrick Kerney to the Seahawks, still isn’t terrible and I felt that the ground attack of Dunn/Norwood would carry these guys to at least a respectable 8-8 season. Things went according to plan - Joey came alive in Petrino’s new system and Roddy White learned how to catch passes in the offseason. Unfortunately after the meltdown of meathead DeAngelo Hall in the Carolina game and Petrino’s quick trigger with Joey in Tennessee yesterday, going instead with the inept Leftwich to try and tie the game up in Music City…I started hearing the sounds of an eventual implosion. Why pull Joey after he’s proven to be a solid QB so far this season? (A first for Mr. Harrington) Why bring in the slowest black QB ever, a guy with a completion percentage lower than the freezing point in Fahrenheit?
(Out goes confidence at the QB spot…now enters controversy and team suicide…)

Cleveland Browns (2-3): Simply put, if this team was in the NFC, they would be looking at a serious chance at the postseason. Romeo Crennel has finally gotten to a point where the Browns will beat the teams they should beat, and get emasculated by the teams they are supposed to lose to. Since the AFC is just way too stacked with great talent, I figure we’ll see this Mike Martz-led team make waves next season.

Bill Walsh- "I don’t believe I can segregate the two."

20a. Denver Broncos (2-3)
20b. San Diego Chargers (2-3)

Just as Bill Walsh couldn’t separate Coors Light from the definition of cold refreshment, I have also failed in separating this Denver Broncos squad from the sputtering Super Chargers, especially after their collapse at Mile High yesterday afternoon. Denver’s clearly got the better leader (Shanahan), but has failed to stop teams from running the ball up and
down the field. San Diego’s defensive front seven is one of the better units in football, the offense holds League MVP Ladainian Tomlinson (LT) in the backfield, but this team lacks a solid leader, a face that the players can rely upon for stability and growth. Norv Turner is a great offensive coordinator but terrible as a head coach (Dallas, Miami, Oakland, San Diego). This lack of efficiency on both teams leaves the AFC West wide open for the taking, with any team in the division able to grab the reins.

Dennis Green- "…and we let ‘em off the hook!”

19. Cincinnati Bengals (1-4):
The Bengals remind me of the Colts’ during the Jim Mora era. Peyton Manning and the crew would throw up an insane amount of offense, but their defense was so ridiculously terrible that they would end up having a lot of 9-7, 10-6, and 8-8 finishes. It’s funny that the Bengals team is crafted this way because the front office hire
d Marvin Lewis FIVE YEARS AGO to fix the problem on that side of the ball. We all know the weapons that the Bengals have in their storehouse (T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Carson Palmer, Ocho Cinco) on the offense side. I believe that this Bengal O is good enough to carry this team to a respectable season. However, I don’t think that Marvin Lewis will be around long enough to see his long term plan grow to fruition. Bill Cowher’s going to have a lot of coaching options once he makes the decision to come back next season.

Denny Green- "Everybody has a chance to get their bite of the apple."

16a. Detroit Lions (3-2)
16b. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)
16c. Carolina Panthers (3-2)

Looking at the NFC landscape at this point, we have only one solid contender (Dallas), leaving the rest of the conference entirely up for grabs. Setting aside the two shaky division leaders (Tampa Bay and Seattle) and one division that’s totally up for grabs (NFC North), we’ve got an insane amount of teams that can slide into the two wild card spots. Carolina, Philly, and Detroit have a great chance at squeezing underneath the playoff door because they:
a. Have weak schedules because of last year’s fallacies.

b. Have strong, game-changers at the speciality positions. (QB, RB, WR)
c. Are all in the NFC. (Obviously…)

Mike Ditka: "I don’t believe in living in the past. The past is for cowards."

15. New York Giants (3-2):
Eli Manning is playing football like a new boy man. He’s leading this Giants team past the short-sighted expectations of newspapers, magazines, and the talking heads on NFL Network. However, the resurgence of this Giant team isn’t to be credited primarily to Eli’s growth as a competent quarterback in the Big Apple. From Osi Umeyniora’s six sack performance on Sunday Night Football against Philly to Aaron Ross’ second-half spectacular in the Meadowlands, we have seen an energized take the cake.

14a. Green Bay Packers (4-1)
14b. Chicago Bears (2-3):
Sunday Night was a great matchup between the two top teams of the last 5-10 years in the NFC North. While Brett Favre continues to dispel the myths of his inevitable retirement by looking like a Tony Romo clone with Green Bay’s short passing game (a change in gameplay that even I doubted ), the Bears – with a decisive win at Lambeau – have still shown why they remain the class of the division. (Also, the interception that Favre forced across the field late in the 3rd Quarter might be a taste of what’s to come up in the chesse state.)

(Check out the rest of the Power Poll in Part 2!!!)