Every professional athlete wants to leave the game on their own terms, but reality is no one ever gets to do that! Most athletes retire because their body gives out due injury, or diminished skills. Even Hall of Famers get traded, or pushed out the door at the end of their careers. Try to name a player who retired wasn't old and lost a step, could no longer play every night, or had a dispute with management. Either way, those are not your terms.
People do not see the work athletes go through to get back. But most importantly, they don't understand the mental and emotional struggle athletes go through when the lights are being turned out on your career. There are not enough accolades, records, or recognition that can soften the pain of the loss of your love.
Steve Nash knows the window is closing on his Hall of Fame career. If you want a little insight into what is really going on watch Episode 1 of 'The Finish Line'. Nash documents the struggle to get back on the court and see his career finish the way he wants it to.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
While the USC faithful have been celebrating the firing of Lane Kiffin, few realize how many people are affected when the head ball coach gets his walking papers.
In my FIRST position meeting in Jacksonville, my tight end coach Alfredo Roberts introduced me to the NFL. He said, "When teams don't win in sports, two things happen, coaches get fired or players get fired. The coaches just got fired, so guess who is next if we don't play well.". In the world of college and professional sports everything boils down to two things, winning/losing and money. Good players are released or traded because they make too much. The NCAA continues to find additional revenue streams to make money from athlete's likeness. Coaches aren't fired because they have too many years and too much money left on their contract.
Ever wonder why coaches win and continue to ask for additional years to their contract? Head coaches typically have a guaranteed contracts, unless they get fired for "cause". FYI, losing is not "cause". You have to pull a Bobby Petrino (Arkansas) or Mike Rice (Rutgers) to get fired without pay. The head coach gets all the praise with wins, and all the blame when you lose. But, it is nice to be the head man because when you get fired with years left on your contract, you have a golden parachute. If I were a head coach, sign me through the 2025-26 season.
When coaches like Lane Kiffin, Norv Turner, Rick Neuheisel, or Lovie Smith don't live up toexpectations and are fired, they leave with some financial security. They often have assistant coaches who are doing a great job, but they typically get thrown out with the head coach. You could be the best tight end coach in the world, but when the head man goes, so do you.
Assistant coaches and their families are affected the most. Most assistants make peanuts compared to the head coaches salary. Even when the head coach doesn't get fired, they often change assistants through the years (for various reasons). There is NO job security. Assistant coaches are typically journeyman until they get the job security of being the head coach. Most never achieve their dream, and are tied to finding job with the guys they have worked with in the past who get jobs. Their families are drug across country searching for stability and their dreams to come true. As much as assistant coaches love the game, they are no different than any other husband/father. They are using their particular set of skills to provide a comfortable, and stable life for their families. Since 1999, when I graduated high school, Alfredo has had a job every year because he is a GREAT tight end coach, but has made stops at Florida Atlantic, Jaguars, Browns, Buccaneers, and is currently at the Colts. He has a wife and kids, but the only roots he can put down are the roots on his coaching tree. Imagine every year, win or lose, not knowing if you will have a job. Imagine the stress it puts on your wife, children, friendships, and families to move from place to place for years, just hoping for the day you land the big job.
According to USA today, "The average major-college football assistant coach now earns roughly $200,000, a USA TODAY Sports analysis finds". The list of the top 124 college coaches 2012 salaries and their assistants totals is very interesting.
Next time you wonder why there is very little loyalty in sports, know why. If you were a coach would you be loyal to a program or team that will throw you out without notice? Or would you continue to look for the best available opportunities until you optimize your personal goals, and maximize your family's happiness?
A pro coach's dream career should look like this: Get a position as a quality control coach for an NFL team, do well and a position coaches job opens up on that staff, someone recognizes you as a young talent and you land a coordinator job, your offense/defense is tops in the league for 2 years, an owner takes a huge leap of faith and hires you NFL coaching job with not head coaching experience, win a bunch of games, win a Super Bowl, get a long term contract, get fired with 3 years left on your deal, ride off into the sunset and have fun being a grandpa, and hold seminars and mentor new young coaches.
A college coach's dream: Get a position coach job in college, someone recognizes you as a young talent and takes a huge risk on you as a coordinator, you have great success and land a head coaching job at a mid level division 1, beat some big teams and go to bowl games, get a job a big school who has been struggling, build the school into a powerhouse, get a NFL coaching job, win a Super Bowl, get a long term contract, get fired with 3 years left on your deal, ride off into the sunset and have fun being a grandpa, and hold seminars and mentor new young coaches.
Coaches have to look out for themselves and do what is best for their families. That type of system trickles down to the players. So when your favorite player changes team, just realize it is part of the cycle. Loyalty is sports is bought, and it usually only lasts until someone else has a bigger, better deal for you. Is your loyalty for sale?
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
This morning it was announced and confirmed the Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly would be the new Philadelphia Eagles head coach. The news was very surprising being that he announced he was staying with the Ducks less than two weeks ago. Kelly is leaving Eugene, Oregon after piling up a very impressive 46-7 record in his 4 seasons as Oregon's head coach. He also led the Ducks to a record tying 4 consecutive BCS appearances. Kelly now inherits an Eagles team that is low on confidence and hope, but has an abundance of weapons. The Eagles team quit on their 2012 season. Philadelphia fans should be happy with the effort and execution they get from their team in the 2013 season. Expect a new high powered offense and a shift in power in the NFC East. Now to the important part. The biggest winners and losers of the Chip Kelly hire:
Nick Foles: Loser with Winning Potential
This is the obvious choice, but don't count Foles out just yet. With Vick out this season, Foles proved he can be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. Chip Kelly is big on competition and playing the best player. So there could be an open quarterback competition, even with Vick's $15.5 million 2013 salary. If Foles ends up behind center except a Kelly to run a system very similar to that of Bill Belichick in New England. Before you say, "Yea, but Nick Foles is no Tom Brady", remember nobody could have imagined Brady would be good before Bledsoe got hurt.
Eagles offensive line: Loser... No place to go but up though
This much maligned group was mediocre at best this season. Michael Vick took the lions share of the blame for the Eagles terrible season. But when Foles got in and was running for his life just the same, it was evident the Eagles had a much bigger problem of their hands. Chip Kelly likes to his lineman to do more moving than usual so he needs lineman who are athletic and can run. So guys like King Dunlap, and Dennis Kelly could end up back on the bench or out the door.
Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants: Losers
This season the Giants and Cowboys did not have an answer for RGIII. With the success of the fast break offense in the NFL, it is safe to assume the innovator of the fast break offense will also be successful. Last offseason Bill Belichick spent time learning from Chip Kelly. Now we see a significant difference in the Patriots. When you add Kelly to the Eagles weapons, you end up with a problem for the NFC East. The Giants vaunted pass rush was pedestrian this season, and Eli was back to his mortal self. With the Redskins and Eagles poised to be much better, the immediate future is bleak. "America's Team" instantly fell to the fighting with the Giants for the 3rd spot in the NFC East. Expect some sort of reaction in free agency by Jerry Jones. Sorry Cowboys fans, but you will not make the playoffs or the Super Bowl next sea on either.
Jeremy Maclin/DeSean Jackson: Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
This could be the fastest wide receiver duo in the NFL. In 2010, you saw the Eagles wideouts as the most dynamic and duo in the NFL. The last 2 season these two guys have been like Ferrari's driving in New York rush hour traffic in winter time, worthless. Expect a resurgence of the big play in Philadelphia in 2013. No team in college football scored more points in less time than Chip Kelly's Ducks. The majority of the success was due to the ability to run the football. As soon as the Eagles can run the ball effectively again with McCoy, you will see the DeSean Jackson backpedaling into the end zone again.
Michael Vick: Winner... Maybe a loser though
Just when it looked like the Eagles would be giving Michael Vick his walking papers, Chip Kelly walks in the door. The Michael Vick era has been nothing short of a catastrophic disappointment since the ink dried on his $100 million deal. Based on the offense Chip Kelly ran at Oregon it would be very hard to imagine Vick not being an Eagle next season. Kelly's offense has featured a quarterback who can run the football. Barring a change in philosophy, who would be a better fit for his system than Vick? The biggest question is: Will Kelly be able to turn Vick into the player we expected to see after the 2010 season?
LeSean McCoy: Big Winner
McCoy is a scat back that catches well, but also run between the tackles. He followed up his All-Pro 1,300 yard, 17TD season with an 800 yard, 2TD campaign. Chip Kelly's running backs at Oregon have averaged over 1,600 yards per season. How big do you think the smile is on McCoy's face is right now? Expect McCoy to put up some Marshall Faulk like numbers over the next few season.
Oregon Ducks Moral: Loser... Temporarily
The Oregon Ducks Football program should remain intact as a national championship contender every year. However, nobody like uncertainty. Questions are arising amongst the Oregon faithful. Who will be the next head coach? Will the assistant coaches leave? Will our recruits decommit? Will we have a shot at the National Championship in 2013?
Although there is a lot of uncertainty around the Oregon program expect order to be restored pretty quickly. Many people were uncertain about Chip Kelly taking over for a very successful Mike Bellotti, but that worked out very well. The program has enjoyed a continued assent over the last 18 years, there is no reason to think things will change under the new head coach. The new head coach is expected to be offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, so there won't be a change in style of play.
Eagles Fans: Biggest Winner
After 2 years of disappointment, Philadelphia fans have hope. The team that was coined the "Dream Team" ended up more like the "Scream Team". Congratulations Eagles fans. You have a winner and an offensive juggernaut.
Friday, January 11, 2013
All "Greatest of All-Time" lists are constantly a work in progress. There are players currently playing that might knock one of the great players off the list. These are the Top 10 Wide Receivers of all-time as of January 2013. The rankings are based on stats, clutch play, playoff performance, yards per catch, and era played. Leave a comment and tell me what you think.
Next Up: Calvin "Megatron" Johnson- In 6 seasons Megatron has piled up 488 catches for 7836 yards with 54 TDs, and is clearly on pace to make it on this list. He is a one man wrecking crew that demands double and sometimes triple, yes Triple teams. This year, his 122 catch, 1964 yard effort broke Jerry Rice's single season yardage record. We are watching greatness unfold right before our eyes. I hope you appreciate it. You never know when it ends. i.e. Bo Jackson
10 Issac Bruce- Bruce was one of the key members of "The Greatest Show on Turf. He had 8 consecutive 1000yd seasons. Some might argue Tory Holt should be here instead of Bruce but with career numbers of 1024 catches, 15,208 yards, and 91 TDs its hard to leave him off. Bruce was a champion in 1999, and has put together clutch great playoff performances.
9 Michael Irvin- The push off master, also known as "The Playmaker". He had 11 100yd recieving games in the 1995 season. If he had 38 more yds in '96 he would have had 8 consecutive seasons over 1000 yds. With only 750 catches and just under 12,000 yards with 65 TDs he looks like he could be excluded, but his career was cut short. Irvin also has multiple championships and was instrumental in all of them.
8 Terrell Owens- He had 20 catches one game! He has career total of 1078 catches, 15,934 yards, has the 3rd most receiving TDs in NFL history with 153. He changed the body type owners, GMs, and coaches look for in wide receivers. He was a rare receiver who was physical enough to go over the middle, but fast enough to make big plays over the top. The door to Owens playing career has probably come to a close, but not because he is no longer physically able to play. Even at 39 years old he is faster, stronger, and in better condition than most of the WRs on current NFL rosters. Unfortunately, physically ability is not the only thing you get when T.O. is on your team.
7 Cris Carter- "All he does is catch touchdowns" He made tremendous changes in his off field life to become one of the Greats! 1101 catches, 13899 yards, 130 TDs. His yards per catch are not great but what he lacks in YPC he made up for in TDs and big catches. How this man is not in the Hall of Fame is a sin and a shame. Throwing "CC" the ball was the definition of "money in the bank". A coach was asked how good Carter's hands were, he relied, "He can catch a beebee in a sand storm".
6 James Lofton- Lofton was part of one of the greatest offenses of all-time, the "K Gun" (Jim Kelly). You rarely find a receiver with over 500 catches and yards per catch north of 15.5. Not only is Lofton above that, he has a staggering 18.3 YPC to go along with 764 catches, 14004 yards, and 75TDs. If you are looking for a big play receiver, you don't have to look much further.
5 Marvin Harrison - In 2002 he caught an NFL record 143 catches in 1 season. No one has gotten any closer than 20 catches to his mark. Marvin amassed 1102 career catches, 14,580 yds, 128 TDs and combined with Peyton Manning to become one of the most deadly QB/WR combos ever. I had the unfortunate privilege of playing in the AFC South while this man was in his prime. I cannot count the precision routes, and spectacular efforts of getting two feet in bounds for catches I have seen up close and personal. I simply call him, "The Route Whisperer" because of his quiet, low key persona.
4 Lance Alworth- In his first full 6 years (78 games, there were shorter seasons in 60s-70s) he had 384 catches, 7,747 yards and 70 TDs so his avg 16 game season would be 79 catches 1589 yards 14.4 TDs with 20YPC. I have seen many highlights and some game film on Alworth, he was a matchup nightmare.
3 Steve Largent- In 14 seasons Largent had 819 catches, 13,089 yards, 100 TDs without an elite QB. He was definitely not your physically prototypical WR but you could not stop him from getting open and making catches. Largent was the original Wes Welker. The differences between the two are that Largent scored a LOT of TDs and didn't have an elite quarterback. These are the reasons he is so high on the list.
2. Randy Moss- "The Freak", he is too fast, too tall, and his ball skills are too good. He came in the league like a seasoned veteran catching an NFL rookie record 17 TDs in his innagural season. 982 catches 15,292 yards, 156 TDs. The scary part is these numbers are going to grow since he came out of retirement. In 2007 he caught an NFL record 23 TDs in 1 season. In his prime he could not be covered by one person. Whether it was Culpepper or Brady, 1 on 1 coverage meant throw it deep to Randy. Moss was so dominant that a new term for a jump ball that is caught was coined, "Getting Moss'd".
1. Jerry Rice- G.O.A.T. Mr NFL record. He once had 13 consecutive games with a TD. He had 274 consecutive games with a catch. In 1995, he caught for 1848 yards. He finished his illustrious 20 year NFL career with 1,549 career receptions, 22,895 career yards, 197 TDs. Rice was the pillar of consistency with 17 seasons with 50 or more receptions. Not only is Jerry Rice the greatest wide receiver ever, he could be the Greatest player of all-time regardless of position.
This list has been carefully considered and strategically put together. Whether you agree or disagree, let me know what you think.
This list has been carefully considered and strategically put together. Whether you agree or disagree, let me know what you think.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
But you want to get rid of the coach because he doesn't want to play golf with you or pretend to be your friend? Get over yourself. Chip Kelly is 45-7. That's over 85%. Find a coach with a better record than that. While you're at it, find another coach who is revolutionizing the way college football is played. I'll wait... You can't!!! I do understand that Chip can be short and keep things very close to the vest. That can be very frustrating at times but what do you want more? A football coach building a powerhouse... or a politician? You are the people that cause empires to fall and potential greatness to be ruined. There will be a day Chip leaves and we will use our "next man up" attitude but what sense does it make to try and push him out the door now? This is absolutely absurd.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Top 10 Quarterbacks list took a lot of time, hard work, dedication, and study. If you do not agree with the list you are wrong. There are a couple players who are playing their way on this list right now (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees). I'll start with the honorable mentions and work my way to number one.
Dan Fouts- Hall of Famer and an Oregon Duck. He was the first quarterback to pass for over 4,000 yards three consecutive seasons, was selected two times All-Pro, and two times 2nd team All-Pro. He passed for over 40,000 yards and also won NFL offensive player of the year.
Fran Tarkenton- The proof is in the pudding. Tarkenton passed for 47,003 yards and 342 TDs. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls, was league MVP in 1975, and was All-Pro two times. Only one problem, no championships.
Doug Williams- First Black QB to win Super Bowl MVP. The QB was looked at as a white man's position and for a long time and he helped change that. Doug gets on the list simply because he changed the game by breaking ground and paving the way for a new era of players.
10. Warren Moon- He amassed over 49,000 passing yards and 291 touchdowns in the NFL alone. When you add his CFL and NFL career together, you see how truly great he was. He amassed over 70,000 yards 400 touchdowns. Moon was clearly an NFL quarterback, but was forced to the CFL because black quarterbacks were not given the same opportunity to lead NFL franchises as they are today. He was selected to 9 Pro Bowls, and was NFL league MVP in 1990. Moon, along with Doug Williams and James"Shack" Harris proved that great quarterbacks have no color.
8. Dan Marino- Marino piled up a ton of stats but couldn't stack them on top of a championship. People will argue that his unbelievable numbers make him the best of all time, but they don't. Kareem Abul-Jabbar has easily scored the most points in NBA history and 3rd all-time in rebounds but we don't call him the greatest of all-time. I cannot put him in the Top 5 because he has no championships. The reason he has no championships is because he never had a running game. His philosophy was why run the football when he could throw it further than they could run each play.
7. Kurt Warner- This Arena League QB who went undrafted out of college has turned into one of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen. He bagged groceries for $5.50 per hour to earn money for his family and lived with his in-laws to keep his NFL dream alive. Now, Warner is a future Hall of Famer and owns the three highest single game passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history. He also earned the NFL league MVP twice and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV. Warner has cemented his place in NFL history; all you have to do is check the record books.
6. John Elway- California boy from Granada Hills HS (which is minutes from my house, FYI). When you hear "The Drive" you already know what game they are referring to (Jan. 11 1987 Denver Broncos vs Cleveland Browns in the AFC Championship game). He has championships, wins, played in five Super Bowls, and basically invented the 4th quarter comeback stat! Not only was he selected to nine Pro Bowls, he is also a two-time Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, and 1987 league MVP.
3. Tom Brady-This man has three championships. Brady, aka the "Check Down King" is calm, cool, and collected. In big game situations ice water runs through his veins. All he does is, "win, win, win, no matter what". When I first made the Top 5 list last year I had him as an honorable mention. He has since assaulted the record books and won another league MVP. Brady has 3 championships and 2 Super Bowl MVPs. That said he is still clearly one of the best QBs of all-time. Some might even argue that he should be above Manning, but I give his team and head coach Bill Belichick higher marks than Manning's supporting cast. Brady missed a season and his team still won 10 games. Manning missed a season and the Colts were the worst team in the league.
2. Peyton Manning- We are watching him rewrite history. He is the fastest QB in history to reach 4,000 completions and 50,000 passing yards. Manning is an 11 time pro bowl selection, and has been voted all-pro 8 times. There isn't a throw he can't make or a receiver he doesn't hit in stride. Peyton is the consummate perfectionist, but you could never tell by his pre-play antics. At first glance he looks like a mad man in disarray, but after the whistle blows and the clock has all zeros you know Peyton is the Chess Master. Defenses try to throw everything at him: blitzes, zone dogs, and every other scheme, to no avail. He will be #1 on this list while he is still in uniform with one more championship. Do I really need to list ALL his stats to qualify this? Peyton has missed all of the 2011 season, and the Colts were 2-14. He proved he was the most important player to his team in the league, and one of the greatest to ever wear cleats. Now a member of the Denver Broncos, and three neck surgeries later, Manning is having another MVP caliber season.
1. Joe Montana- The best QB of all-time. Four time Super Bowl champion. Three time Super Bowl MVP. Two-time league MVP. He holds postseason records for most career passing TDs (45), games with over 100.0 passer rating (12), and games with 300 passing yards (6, recently broken by Manning). The most important stat of them all, 0, that's the number of interceptions he threw in four Super Bowls! What more can you say? He is the very definition of what a coach, owner, or teammate could ever ask for in a QB!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
When I woke up this morning I saw the news that former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu intended to declare for the NFL draft in April. I was saddened because although I do not know him personally, his story hits close to home. Mathieu garnered national attention after being a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and earning the nickname "honey badger". He showed an affinity for causing turnovers at LSU. Now, he has made his biggest turnover of all. Declaring for the draft is another bad decision in a long line of bad decisions. His football seemed bright until LSU announced he had been dismissed from the team in early August for violations of team rules. At this point in time, Mathieu had many options and plenty of time to rehab himself and his image before taking his talents to the NFL. He could have transferred to another D-1 school and sat out a season or transferred to a lower division and played this season. He chose door number 3, which was for Mathieu to check himself into a substance abuse rehab center. This was a good move for him personally, and for his image. It is not clear how long he was in the program, but he did re-enroll at LSU to start classes for this 2012 school year. Mathieu appeared to be picking up the pieces and he might possibly make a return to LSU next season. Then in October he was arrested on marijuana charges along with former teammate Jordan Jefferson. I am not an expert in drug rehab, but I have seen a few close friends/family members "fall off the wagon". From my experience I knew him returning to Baton Rouge for school was a bad idea. He needed to stay in rehab longer and to leave LSU and get in a new environment to start over.
Now, Tyrann Mathieu has announced he will be foregoing his remaining college eligibility and entering the NFL Draft. This may prove to be his worst decision of all. He most likely will not be drafted by an NFL team unless it is a very late pick and the team won't be on the hook for a lot of money. Mathieu was already an undersized corner with average speed and cover abilities. Then you add that he was kicked off the LSU football team for drugs violations in August, and subsequently arrested on drug charges in October. If you were a general manager for a team would you take a chance on him. Not likely. The NFL offers more free time and access to all your vices, and the money to afford them. Every year we hear stories of professional athletes without a documented history of substance abuse struggle with addiction. Josh Hamilton, Stanley Wilson, Barret Robbins Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and the list goes on and on. Declaring for the draft appears to be a way for Mathieu to escape the problems plaguing him in college, but in all likelihood things will get worse before they get better. How will he deal with the disappointment of going undrafted of being drafted late? How will he deal with injury or being cut? Now, how is a kid who obviously cannot handle staying sober in college supposed to make it in the NFL?
In no way am I saying Mathieu is not worthy of a second chance and should never be picked by an NFL team. I am saying he needs to go back to rehab and get his life together, then go play football in college for season (not near LSU), then declare for the draft. He would give himself the best chance to succeed personally and professionally. I have seen teammates and friends struggle with the disease of addiction and the toll it takes on them physically, emotionally, and financially. If you are not mentally ready to handle the life associated with professional sports, you are a tragedy waiting to happen. The toughest things for professional athletes to do is admit they have a problem. They are strong, and can do things physically that men only dream about. The thought of not being able to control a problem alone is unfathomable. Mathieu must admit to himself he has a problem and that wholesale changes must be made for him to be successful. Everybody loves a comeback story, and a story of personal triumph so I wish Mathieu well. But, as it stands right now, after a year out of football coupled with his issues, Mathieu would be fighting for a spot on a NFL roster. I hope I am wrong, but the most likely ending for the Tyrann Mathieu story will be something like Onterrio Smith. A young man with an abundance of talent that loses his way and his dream of football glory.
Do you see any way Tyrann Mathieu can be successful in the NFL right now?