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Well, Mike Vick done messed up now. I mean, indictments are bad… lost shoe contract revenue is bad… becoming the public face of barbaric animal abuse is all kinds of bad.

However, the prospect of incarceration is nothing compared to what is coming. See, Mike probably wasn’t aware of this, but his Smithfield property is just a hop, skip, and a simper up the road from the national headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), located on the waterfront in Norfolk, VA.

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As Margaret Cho has said, “Do not fuck with vegans, because they will fuck you up. Because they’re HUNGRY!!!!”.

So if Mike decides to surreptitiously drop by the house to pick up his iPod or something, the press will be the least of his worries. An army of weedy bohos in hemp pants with pleather belts could beat him to death with a veritable rainbow of Crocs slip-ons.

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They may not be as fast as Dwight Freeney, but there’s more of ’em. Watch your back, man.

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OK, today’s post will be a bit shorter than yesterdays. I am a busy fella today. I am also at a loss for words because I am going to do the expected, even though I spent a great deal of time trying to talk myself out of it. I considered Drew Brees with the first pick in the second round of the Hazean mock draft, but just couldn’t convince myself that Marques Colston would be a hit as the #1 reciever – at least not enough of one to make Drew this high of a pick. I looked at younger RBs like Reggie Bush, Clinton Portis, and Willis McGahee, but felt they would probably struggle along with their teams. So I’m pulling the trigger – mark it down:

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I have a pretty firm “no RBs over 30” rule, but Shaun slips in under the wire at 29 (for one more month… I’m such a sucker). The fact that he already struggled with injury last year could be a bad sign, but nobody else (except possibly Portis) has the kind of potential to score in bunches that Alexander does. If I had to actually play a season with just these two guys, I would feel like I’d done my best. In fact, I kind of hope the Hazeans keep track of our stats just out of curiosity.

Thanks for the opportunity guys! See you around tha intarwebs!

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You may not be aware of the Hazean mock draft, but you are about to go to school. The Hazean blog here on WordPress has invited several of us NFL-obsessed sports bloggers to participate in an early, early mock draft just for fun. Starting around the beginning of the month, each blogger made a pick a day. Read the recap here.

We’re only doing two rounds, in the typical “snake” fashion. I got the spot that I love to hate – I am both the ass and the head of the snake, as I have the 12th pick at the end of the first round, and the 13th at the beginning of the second. In a live draft, this sucks, because you sit and wait in agony for a small eternity as others snatch everyone you had your eye on.  Between second and third round, you might as well go home and water the plants and walk the dog.

In this case, it’s not so bad. I’ll get to make my two picks this week and then sit back and watch my fellow bloggers finish out the draft. I know for a fact that I can have the top two guys left on my draft list.

So, on with the show. The two best QBs were taken already – Peyton Manning by Next Gen Pro Football at #7, and Carson Palmer by my erstwhile Channel 4 News Team compatriot Signal To Noise. Other than that, it’s been all running backs, all the time, which is good fantasy drafting. After the dominant backs are gone, you get into two-back system guys and unproven players who might lose their jobs in training camp. It’s best to get at least one beast right up front.

With that in mind, I’ll alleviate the suspense and just blurt out my pick: “Fast” Willie Parker.

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In general, I suspect my fellow GMs were not particularly sold on Willie’s size (5’10”, 209), but that’s the kind of thinking that left him as an undrafted free agent a couple of years ago. Willie’s carried the load since then, including the longest run in a Super Bowl ever.

If it’s the Steelers as a team that kept WP available for me, I can talk myself into that one, too. Roethlisberger might have had an off year last season, but he still has the tools to get it done. With Hines Ward and Heath Miller still taking heat off of the line of scrimmage, Willie should see some room to run. In my opinion, Najeh Davenport is insurance for the team, not real competition for Willie. If the Defense, led by the colorful Troy Polamalu, can keep games from getting out of hand, there should be plenty of opportunities for my guy to lug the ball late into the fourth quarter.

So that’s my guy. Entertain yourselves until tomorrow by wondering this: will Extra P. take another running back like Shaun Alexander to shore up the crucial position, or will he grab a QB?

Tune in tomorrow to find out.

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rugby_where_does_it_hurt.jpgI was going to look up some numbers and do some kind of comparison between rugby and football for today because I keep hearing this “pads are for pussies” nonsense coming from ruggers. My college roomate was a collegiate club rugby player, and if I had ever come home with my ears looking as vomitously grotesque as his did every week, I would have stowed my manly pride and used some goddamn common sense, but that’s just me.

But I realized that I am coming in with an inherent bias, having never played Rugby, and a certain NFL-fan-centric defensiveness that would come off as whiny. So I gradually became more interested in the differences in the two games, and the injuries that come from both.

I actually read a few academic studies of rugby injuries from such made-up countries as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, so I feel like I can reliably assist in reconstructive knee surgery if the opportunity ever presents itself. But, mostly, I just feel completely confirmed in my desire not to play rugby.

Here’s what I came up with (note – many readers have told me I have misunderstood the rules, and I don’t doubt that, so read this with a grain of salt):

  • Your knees are screwed in either sport. The whole planted, weight-bearing foot vs. impact phenomenon is the same in either form of tackling. That shit only bends one way naturally, and when it goes the other way, you’re going to be out of the running for a while.
  • In rugby, there are no substitutions for any reason other than injury, and an injured player cannot come back in to the game. This motivates both coaches and players to dowplay any injury less significant than partial amputation. Kind of brings a new meaning to “just rub some dirt on it and get back in there!”
  • Rugby tacklers don’t care if their target picks up a couple more yards metres after he is hit, so they are not nearly as intent in their desire to halt forward progress by any means necessary as a U.S. football player is. Once a ballcarrier is down in rugby, the ball is turned over, regardless of yardage gained.
  • Ruggers without the ball are positioning themselves to receive a toss, not to block for the runner, which is, in fact, illegal. In American football, every player experiences head-on, full-force contact on every play, unless he is a kicker or Barry Sanders.
  • scrum.jpgThe most dangerous injuries in rugby occur not in the tackling phase of the game, but in the scrum, when massive players lock arms and some try to kick or “hook” the ball to a fast teammate using only their legs. Flexion of the neck and other paralyzing incidents can happen just through the exertion, or at times when the scrum collapses on top of some poor soul.

The most compelling evidence for looking at these two sports as being similar but not the same came from this article, titled Pads and Helmets, in which two gents, one American, talk about the differences they experienced in playing both sports. The key phrase comes near the end of the first account, when a friend declares “Rugby is a contact sport. Gridiron is a collision sport” (per Loser With Socks, this is a paraphrase of a famous college football quote). The American recounts an attempt to tackle a charging opponent football style and the extreme injury he recieved as a result, seemingly indicating that while rugby hits are hard, they are patently different due to the nature of the game and the lack of padding.

footballinjury.jpgI found all of this interesting. While I understand the desire to project manliness (we still have NFLers resisting the Revolution helmet, even though it can reduce concussions and keep them from drooling in their beer by age 40), but at some point self-preservation has to take precendence. Some simple concessions to basic headgear are currently being made at the professional levels of rugby, where top talented players can cause more damage and have more to lose in terms of money and career.

I definitely achieved a better understanding of the appeal of rugby by researching it, and will probably pause when I pass by it on ESPN from time to time. But I will hereafter refuse to engage in this ridiculous debate about which sport is more manly. As the fellas at Kissing Suzy Kolber said, while taunting the English recently:

Whatever. I’m sure Ray Lewis wouldn’t last one second playing for Leicester. You keep on believing that.

I would 100% support the notion of letting Ray try out when he retires from the NFL. Even at 40, I think he could hang.

Other sources, in case you want to be an orthopedic surgeon’s mate, too:

Chiroweb This article does a good job of introducing the methodology of rugby as a precursor to describing the most common injuries suffered by players.

Sports Injury Bulletin

Medical Journal of Australia

British Columbia Injury Research

British Medical Journal

Science Daily

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wtamuleaf.jpgYou see how I did that? I resisted the urge. The urge to put the word coach in quotes or italics. The urge to follow it with exclamation points or question marks. And I’ll tell you why.

Because I think it’s cheap to do a hatchet job on Ryan Leaf.

Was he a jerk at Washington State, and a blowhard in the NFL? Yes. But that was a long time ago. He never shot up a strip club, raped anyone, or got arrested as far as I can remember. So his biggest crime was being immature, which quite a few of us can cop to being in our early 20’s, if we’re honest. And most of you grew out of it. The rest of us became bloggers.

So I was happy to read that Ryan Leaf has a job as a coach at West Texas A&M University. He is currently the Quarterbacks coach for the Division 2 Buffaloes, located in Canyon, TX, near Amarillo. He even runs his own passing camp. He took the job after returning to WSU and earning his degree in 2005. These are all good things, and speak well of the human capacity for redemption.

So I’m above making fun of Ryan Leaf. I really am. But I am not above having a little bit of fun with his school in the middle of nowhere (really, not all that different from Washington State in that regard), under the guise of a fascinating small-school profile.

Things you might not have known about West Texas A&M University:

  • The Buffs are ranked #19 in Lindy’s preseason rankings, below national powerhouses like Newberry, North Dakota, and Bemidji State.
  • WTAMU offers one doctoral program in…. wait for it…. Agriculture.
  • Leaf is also the head coach of the Golf team, where he may be grooming the next John Daly.
  • A family of four can go to a WT soccer game (men’s or women’s) for the family pass price of $40. Wait… they charge for Division II soccer?
  • wtamugasdisplay.jpgWTAMU hosts the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, where tourists can gaze upon interactive exhibits like the Shamrock Gas sign pictured at right.
  • The University is a part of the Texas A&M system, and yet at sporting events, students are encouraged to form a pair of “buffalo horns” by folding down their middle three fingers and extending the thumb and pinky. But isn’t that kind of like what they do at…. (gulp).
  • With a student body numbering over 7,000, the University is more than 50% of the population of Canyon, which is listed at roughly 13,000.

OK, enough hilarity. I am certainly in favor of higher education in all of its forms, and will be rooting hard for the Buffaloes if I ever think about them again in my lifetime.

Go, Buffs! Hook ’em! Yee-HAW!

If any WTAMU alumni are reading this and want to set me straight, please visit my college traditions website College Rule Notebook, and fill out a survey or write up a feature article about your school. I’ll be happy to eat my words.

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croyle.jpgIf you have read Peter King’s SI.com column ranking the NFL’s starting quarterbacks from 1-32, you know that it was bookended by former SEC lynchpins. At the top is the reigning Super Bowl champion and former Tennessee Volunteer Peyton Manning. At the bottom is projected Chiefs starter Brodie Croyle out of Alabama, who served as Kansas City’s #3 man behind Trent Green and Damon Huard last season.

We’ll hear a lot about why Croyle will fail with the Chiefs, so I’m going to take the homer’s stance and look at this cloud’s silver lining. My favorite all-time Chief was Derrick Thomas, who also came to KC from the Crimson Tide, so I’m pulling for Brodie to make a good go of it with the boys in red, too.

I asked a couple of friends to give me reasons, both historical and current, why Brodie Croyle can succeed with the Chiefs.

First, Alabama fan Newspaper Hack from Journalism is for Rock Stars had this to say about #12:

croylesack.jpgOh, man. How about his first start ever, an ass-kicking of later SEC West champs Arkansas in ’02 (Bama was banned because of probation)? Or how he spent all of ’03 with a separated shoulder? While he needed Prothro to make that catch in ’05 against Southern Miss and D.J. Hall to make a big catch the same year against Tennessee, you can’t discount how important those tosses were to keep Bama in the game. Plus, he took the team on his shoulders and helped mount the drive that put the Tide in field goal range to beat Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. All Brodie needs is good receivers, and he’ll be great. And he’s a dead-ringer for a young Joe Namath, down to the bad knees.

And, we can only assume, in his overwhelming desire to wear panty hose and Kiss Suzy Kolber.

Todd from Roll Bama Roll threw in these two suggestions from a piece on Arrowhead Pride, as well:

The o-line HAS to protect him. If he has time to set and make his reads, he’s a killer. The kid has all the talent in the world and an arm to back it up, but unfortunately for him (and us) he had to make a lot of passes on the run here because our o-line sucked big time.

lj.jpgA strong ground game. He was able to rely on the run a lot early on at Alabama and that gave him plenty of time to focus on the high percentage plays and get into the rhythm of game speed and to develop chemistry with his receivers without having to win the game all by himself. By the end of his career though, he was able to take the whole team on his shoulders and make plays on his own. If he can do the same in the pros, he’ll step up his game and develop nicely.

So I checked in with Arrowhead Pride‘s creator to see what the Chiefs are adding to the pot to support the new kid, and he gave me this:

Herm Edwards is behind him and is known to play young QBs (Pennington)
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Dwayne Bowe, while not a powerhouse just yet, will hopefully be able to be Croyle’s no. 1 guy. We haven’t had a reciever like Bowe in a long time.

As always, its nice to have Tony Gonzalez if you’re a QB.

One more player that will help: Larry Johnson.

Bottom line is that Croyle has the arm, has the smarts and will get the reps to succeed.

So let’s put that all together, and see where Brodie Croyle stands if he takes the field on opening day of 2007:

Toughness – His physical toughness was proven by his ability to play through injury in a power conference. His mental toughness was tested early when he played hard through coaching turmoil, probation, and a lack of quality offensive line play.

Coaching Support – Herm Edwards is putting his tacit support behind the young guy. Some might question this, as Huard had some success with the Chiefs’ offense after Green’s injury in ’06, but KC fans are hungry for the hope of something more than game management.

A Running Game – Nobody can argue that Larry Johnson is the perfect running back for a young QB. He will carry the rock effectively, and defenses will have to stack against him, giving Croyle some open targets. If he’s worked on his blitz pick-ups, he’ll be Croyle’s greatest asset.

gonzalez.jpgA Great Reciever – And I would lay this one on Tony Gonzalez still. Don’t let his up-and-down numbers fool you, Tony G. still has the skills. He has been called on to block more than he had to early in his career, but he’s still a threat in the open field, which Croyle should be able to exploit with the defense keying on Johnson. Add in big, fast first-round pick Dwayne Bowe out of LSU, and that means #12 has options.

Offensive Line – Here’s where it gets shaky. Turley, Bober, Weigmann, Waters, and left tackle Damion McIntosh are all that stand between Croyle and a severe weekly beatdown. Added to that, Kris Wilson is listed as lead fullback despite being drafted out of Pitt as a pass-catching tight end in 2004. If these guys can’t create holes for Larry Johnson to run through, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down on Brodie’s head.

Experience – Three completions for 23 yards in ’06. So, in essence, none. We can assume he’ll get a lot of reps in practice and in the preseason, but next season is obviously going to be a sore trial on the young QB’s aforementioned mental toughness. But if there’s one thing we know about the NFL, it’s that you can’t predict quarterback play. There are Ryan Leafs and Rick Mirers at the top of the draft, and there are Tom Bradys and Joe Montanas who slide until later.

One thing the kid does know gives me hope:

Get the ball to the guys that make the Pro Bowl every year. You’ve got the best tight end that has probably ever played. You’ve got one of the best running backs in the league and you’ve got a very good group of receivers. It’s just a matter of knowing where to go with the ball and what coverage and what holes to hit. If you do that than you’ll be successful.

So if old Herm can somehow put together a capable offensive line, and Croyle can exploit the space in defenses made to stop LJ, Kansas City just might not have the worst starting QB around. Most likely, the proof will be in the pudding two years down the road. For this year, let’s just buckle up and hold on tight, and cut the kid some slack, already.

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Since Roger Goodell and the NFL have a pretty good grip on the football talent in the U.S. (College, Arena League, NFL Europa) I have been wondering exactly where Mark Cuban expects to find players for his proposed competing league.

I think I’ve figured it out.

Contrarian football fans, I am proud to introduce the Turkish American Football League:

Look at those magnificent beasts! They’re fast, they’re hungry, and they’ll play for marshmallow peanuts. It’s a freaking goldmine of talent.  I think Cuban could probably purchase the Hacettepe Red Deers outright for the cost of a single evening’s bar tab.

Think about it, Mark.

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First off, big thanx to Extra-P for letting me put my virtual soapbox on someone else’s property for a change. I hope everyone enjoyed their Holiday Weekend as much as I did. A little Beerdie, a little food and alot of sports.

Did anyone else notice the eerie voice of Darth Vader on Outside the Lines all weekend snitchin’ on Michael Vick and his passion for dog-fighting? I felt like every-time I turned my head I heard “He’s one of the heavyweights.”

Well, all this got me thinking about voices in sports. Nice segue? OK, maybe not so much, but here we go. For my first ever post here on The Extrapolater I figured I’d take the best of both worlds from Awful Announcing & Pyle of List (two blogs which I’ve recently discovered and now read religiously) and create the top three sports broadcasters of my lifetime. Enjoy!

1. Vin Scully — To me personally, Vin Scully is the end all, be all of sports broadcasting. He is a legendary announcer known primarily as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scully has been a part of some of the most memorable plays and games in Major League Baseball history and his calls of the 1986 & 1988 World Series could have put him into the Hall of Fame by themselves. I think I would donate a testicle if it meant I could hear Vin Scully announce one more World Series instead of having to sit through Joe Buck’s stand-up comedy routine…

“Little roller up along first . . . behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”


“And look who’s coming up… you talk about a roll of the dice…this is it. High fly ball into right field, she i-i-i-is… gone!!!”

2. Al Michaels — The current voice of NBC’s Sunday Night Football is one of the best to ever grab a microphone. He is well respected and well versed in announcing major events in multiple sports including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and World Championship Boxing. Michaels is best known for his amazing call of the 1980 US Hockey team’s stunning upset over the Soviet Union in what is now simply referred to as the Miracle on Ice…


“Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

3. Bob CostasWhen I was a youngster, my dream was to become a sports announcer. The biggest reason for this was Bob Costas. His complete control of the english language has helped him establish a well deserved respect from viewers and his peers. His love & knowledge of baseball is so in depth that he has even been recommended as a possible future commissioner. In recent years Costas has done more studio work than anything else, specifically on NBC and on his own HBO series…

Mickey Mantle Eulogy

*Props also go out to Dick Enberg and Jim Nantz who would have finished fourth and fifth respectively had this list continued…



Shorty is creator and lead writer of Milk Was a Bad Choice

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This morning I dropped my son off at pre-school and he was doing his usual-pinballing around like a young, white Barry Sanders. At one point he ran at me for a goodbye hug and I did the fake juke and stiff-arm because I crave the acceptance that only laughter can bring, even if it’s from day-care lunch ladies.

But as I walked on from there to work, I realized that I really miss the stiff-arm. So many teams have gone to offenses that “get the running back in space”, we rarely see the power-back just drop somebody, which is, really, one of the best things in football. So here’s some video from the college ranks, just so we can remember what we’ll be missing for the next three months.

I guess it’s important to note that in this example, the running back was “in space”, and still used the stiff-arm, so perhaps it’s more a question of desire and ability than one of opportunity.

And then here’s one from the playground. It really reveals the stiff-arm for what it is – a blatant slap in the face of an overmatched opponent:

Man, I can’t wait for football season.

UPDATE: Reader Joe linked this outstanding SI photo of LaDanian Tomlinson administering a stiff-arm, so I’m going to share.  Thanks, Joe!

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All this talk about Christian Okoye has really made me miss the guy. I grew up in KC and was in High School/College when Christian was doing his thing. Of course, I can’t find any postable video of the Nigerian Nightmare in action, because the NFL is hoarding it for a very special NFL Network program to be named later.

And now Christian’s going to be a pirate. You know I’m watching this show.

However, someone posted a two-full-minute TD run by TECMO Okoye that is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. You can have your zig-zagging Bo Jax, I’ll take the human road grader:

The really odd thing about this video is the play-calling section.  It shows Barry Word as the primary back on a sweep play off right tackle.  In those days, KC was the epicenter of classic Martyball, with two huge backs over 200lbs.  They didn’t start running sweeps until they drafted Harvey Williams out of LSU in  ’91.  And look how that worked out.

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