Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Professional Basketball - The NBA All-Cancer Team

Hello Sports Fans!

Before I begin receiving hate mail, let me go ahead and clarify the subject of this blog post. No, I am not advocating for the wide spread death of professional basketball players. I'm not wishing for them to have cancer, I'm not talking about players who might have cancer, I'm not even looking at the patient charts of family members who may have previously had cancer indicating a higher risk in athletes due to genetics and the proximity to sweaty towels. This post has absolutely nothing to do with real-life serious illness.

So then, what in the world AM I talking about? Well, for those of you not aware, an athlete who's referred to as a cancer is simply a player who destroys the organization for which he/she is working. Like actual cancer, this player infiltrates a previously healthy "body," spreads negativity like wild fire, has no true cure, and eventually causes the team to shut down into complete sucktitude (credit: Edge and Christian for their masterful use of the English language).

In order to identify players that classify as cancers, I've decided to break down the athletes into three specific groups:

First Team All-Cancer: These players are individuals who are currently active in the NBA, have played for a minimum of two teams in their career, and have never won an NBA Championship. They are also generally classified as "Superstars" for their sometimes gaudy statistics, ridiculous salaries, and that one time you saw them in a shoe, car, or soup commercial.

Second Team All-Cancer: This group consists of active players who may not meet all (or any) of the previously mentioned criteria for First Team status.

Third Team All-Cancer: Third Team has no rules! This is pretty much any person who may or may not have ever played basketball but it certainly NOT an active player in the Association.

In order to seem like an actual All-Whatever Team, I will select 5 individuals to complete the "lineup" in each category. While the positions of the players don't matter for Second or Third Team, I'll go ahead and put together a realistic starting lineup representing all five positions for the First Team. Shall we begin?

First Team All-Cancer

Center - Dwight Howard: If there was an MVP award for the All-Cancer Team, Dwight Howard would be a co-winner. Early in his career, Dwight seemed like a budding superstar with unlimited potential. He started off with the Orlando Magic and almost immediately elevated that squad to championship-contenders. After quite a few good years in Orlando, Howard became unusually ornery and was not-so-secretive about his desire to leave the city. The fan base that previously adored him were quickly soured and Superman (as he calls himself) was finally moved to the LA Lakers. Do you remember when Howard played for the Lakers? No? That's because the filmmakers of Men in Black from Hollywood hit you with that little flashy thingy and removed it from your mind. Unfortunately they never flashed me and I was stuck watching #12 destroy the Lakers from the inside, including completely refusing to co-exist with Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players and winners of all time. Dwight is now in Houston playing for the Rockets where ... he is doing the exact same thing. Again. Different city, same jerk. Now, apparently, he is interested in moving back to Orlando!? He's going to be the first person in history that Disney refuses to take money from just so that nobody accidentally riots against him in line for Space Mountain. Bad PR.

Power Forward - Amar'e Stoudemire: First of all, who the heck puts an apostrophe there, seriously?! But I digress. Remember like 25 years ago when Amar'e was one of the most dominant big men in the NBA and if you used him in video games he could dunk on King Kong? When he first started with the Suns (Phoenix people, Phoenix) this man-beast was a stud. He was a leader on the court, contributed great things towards team success, and appeared to be the face of the organization. I don't really remember where it all went wrong, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with an injury, starting to wear glasses while he played, and sand in his, umm, lady parts. Long story short, the Suns started playing like crap, Amar'e moved to New York where he was paid way too much by a dumb office staff, and he's been little more than a bench player since. "When the moon meets your eye like a big pizza pie, that's Amar'e!"

Small Forward - Carmelo Anthony: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your team captain and co-winner of the MVP award. There's a rumor that Grey's Anatomy will be placing a picture of Carmelo Anthony in it's fairly large volume on cancer information. That's how bad this individual is for your team. If it wasn't for the fact that he won a National Championship in college (I'll admit, star players can do such things on that level), Carmelo would probably go down as the biggest sports cancer of all time, in any game! Yes, even more than that guy that once played for that team in that city that you're thinking of when he did that thing that will never be forgotten by that commentator who brings it up everytime that show is on. As an NBA player, Anthony has always been one of the faces of the league and a guy who is viewed as a figurehead of the sport. However, on the court, he's a lazy ball hog that rarely plays defense and shoots more than the Confederate Army in the Civil War. Each year he seems to have a nice stat-line because he takes so many stinking shots. As a result, not one but two franchises have failed to meet their perceived potential with him as the leader and he's never been anywhere close to an NBA Championship. They won't even let him take a picture with the one in the Hall of Fame. It's pretty sad that he's not even the best Melo playing basketball! That honor goes to the guy at the University of Maryland who was supposed to compete for national player of the year but instead led his team to an early tournament exit because he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn since December.

Shooting Guard - James Harden: For those of you who are hardcore into sports, you know James Harden as the guy who plays crazy-hard on offense, has a great but inconsistent jump shot, and takes a nap for 24 seconds anytime his group is on the defensive end of the floor. For those of you not into sports as much, you know James Harden as the dude with the beard that keeps showing up for no reason in all of those commercials that have absolutely nothing to do with sports. Harden has now played with two teams, and while he doesn't completely sink the ship like some of the other guys on this team, he is hardly a winner. He has no rings to his credit and doesn't seem to be closing in on one anytime soon. The best teams he was a part of were consistently the annual Thunder squads and he wasn't even good enough to be a starter. Then he moved to Houston, became the star of the franchise (which really pisses Dwight Howard off) and they've never gone to the NBA Finals under his leadership. Now listen, I get the superstition that athletes have where they don't shave when their team is playing well. I'll even admit that I'm doing the same thing as long as my Tar Heels are still in the NCAA Tournament. But what's Harden's excuse, his team sucks?!? Maybe he just needs a new razor ...

Point Guard - Chris Paul: I really can't believe I'm even going here. This one even surprises me and I'm the guy who is making all of the decisions! Ever since CP3 started at Wake Forest, he seemed to be one of the good guys in the sport. He plays smart, he works hard, and he has excellent performance to show for it. Year in and year out, Paul is selected as an NBA All Star and his skill on the court just can't be denied. The only problem is, he doesn't win. I mean, yeah, his teams are usually pretty good and he's the guy who makes them pretty good. But he's also had the opportunity to play with other stars on both the Hornets and Clippers without it making a difference. For a guy who has been making a boat load of money for over 10 years now in the NBA, he really should have a championship to show for it. But he doesn't. And that's why he's on this list. I don't have a whole lot bad to say about Paul and honestly he's the only guy on this list that has any chance of being a future champion. He's going to turn 31 this year and his professional clock is ticking, so we'll have to see what happens to him the remainder of this decade. PS - For those of you who don't know who Chris Paul is, yes you do. He's the dude with the twin brother who sells insurance on the TV commercials. Or is it real estate? I don't really know, I just remember seeing him dressed up like a preppy with glasses and quietly laugh to myself.

Second Team All-Cancer

Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook: So, I'm going to cheat a little bit here and count two people as one player on the All-Cancer Team. Why am I doing this you ask? Well, at this point, I'm convinced that at least one of these two guys is a cancer on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The only problem is, I don't know which one it is or if it's actually both of them. Without a doubt both players are incredibly talented and can be the star of the game on any given night. They're All-Stars, league MVP contenders, and their team is always one of the better ones in the Western Conference. Better, but not best. They have never won a league championship and quite frankly I don't see it happening as long as they're together. Both individuals have shown flashes of arrogance, have been not-so-great to the media, and don't seem to elevate the performance of others around them. Multiple rumors have been swirling about Durant leaving OKC for another team and then we may finally find out who the bad egg is in this duo. My guess ... both.

Derrick Rose: If it wasn't for the fact that he's spent his entire career on the same team, Rose would be a First Teamer without any question. Here's a guy that came out of college with all of the talent (and expectations) in the world. Physically gifted, hard-working, high basketball IQ ... but no ability to be a team player and winner. Derrick is always going to be one of two things in Chicago: the star player who shines brightly without actually winning anything or the second fiddle who's almost invisible on the court and does more damage than good. Over the last few years Rose has suffered repetitive serious injuries yet continues to demand max contracts and star treatment. Even though he's done nothing to help his club the last couple of years, a few months ago he was threatening to leave Chicago for more money because he needs to take care of his family. Really? Can't do that on $20,000,000 a year? Must be rough.

John Wall: I debated for a bit whether Wall deserved to be on this list but then committed to it when I heard last night that this is his sixth season in the league. Holy crap time flies when you're having fun. It wasn't that long ago that Wall was a star player at Kentucky going number 1 in the draft with expectations of being the next great point guard. And, while he's done fairly well in terms of individual performance, there is no indication that he is ever going to be a consistent winner in the game. A point guard's primary purpose is to make the people around him better and I really can't see where he's doing that. I couldn't name another player on his team right now (the Washington Bullets ... err ... the Washington Wizards) and that just tells me that he's not sharing the ball the way he's supposed to be. He's kinda like the food at your favorite Mexican restaurant ... sounds great on paper, looks pretty decent when it's in front of you, but you don't want to see what happens after the initial deliciousness!

Anthony Davis: OK, I admit, maybe I'm being a little harsh on this one because the dude has only been in the league for three years. For that reason, you can consider this a projection more than a statement on current and past performance. Davis is a young stud (again, another Kentucky guy) who appears to have an incredibly high ceiling. In college all he could really do was block shots and dunk the ball but since getting drafted (again, first overall) he has really improved his ball handling and outside shooting. He's a much more well rounded player than a couple of years ago and before this season started the NBA owners voted that he would be league MVP this year. Guess what, they were wrong. Despite all of the praise being thrown his way and the anticipation that the Pelicans would compete for the Eastern Conference this year, Davis ended up calling it quits on the season early due to injuries and his team is a whopping 27-46 this year. Not only will they miss the playoffs, but who the hell names a professional sports team the Pelicans??? Of all the things New Orleans is known for, this was the best they could come up with? How about the New Orleans Voodoo? The New Orleans Beignets? The New Orleans Our Houses Are Under Water (too soon?)?

M. Plumlee: Every ... damn ... one ... of ... them. No explanation required.

Sixth Man - Anderson Varejao: I'm not going to put Varejao on the starting lineup because for the last month or two he's been on the Warriors team that is looking to break every record in NBA history. But still, he deserves at least an honorable mention. For a guy who's 7 feet tall and looks to be athletic, he's got to be the biggest [nickname for a cat] that I've ever seen in pro sports. He also needs to clean the sand out of his [squint at the name of the state located just above North Carolina] because he complains so much on the court. He's lucky to be surrounded by amazing talent now because his negative attitude might be the biggest reason Lebron has yet to win a ring in Cleveland.

Third Team All-Cancer

Shaq: Yeah, I said it, and I'm not taking it back. I honestly don't care how many rings he has, I don't care that he's going to be in the Hall of Fame, and I don't care that he shattered a backboard at LSU. Shaq was a product of great players around him and would not have won a single championship if it wasn't for Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade. Picture this if you will ... instead of a basketball court looking the way it does right now, let me propose an alternate layout. While looking at the court from above, find the point in which the baskets are directly above the hardwood. Now, draw a circle with a radius of 5 feet around that center point on both ends of the court. Following me? I know it's been awhile since some of you took high school geometry. Anyway, go ahead and completely cut out those circles and replace the spots where the wood used to be with holes 25 feet deep. I don't want anyone to die, so you can put a mattress at the bottom of the holes with a ladder to climb out. If this is what the NBA court looked like, here would be Shaq's career numbers: 0.0 Points Per Game, 0.0 Rebounds Per Game, 1.2 Assists Per Game (he was a decent-ish passer), and 0.1 Blocks Per Game. My point? The guy had success because he was enormous and forced his body on smaller men. He had zero actual skill. That's why he never won a title in Orlando, never won in Phoenix, couldn't get it done in Cleveland. No Kobe and Dwayne, no rings.

Allen Iverson: Without question, Iverson is one of the most skilled players the game of basketball has ever seen. He revolutionized the crossover, left his guts on the court every night, and proved that a small guy could be successful in a tall person's league. However, you likely noticed he never won a championship. The reason for that was his attitude. Yes, I'm talking about practice. Practice. I'm talking about practice. That press conference alone demonstrates why Iverson was a team cancer. The focus was always on him and it was about him being a star, not acting like a great teammate. He clearly didn't care about what happened before or after games and he was just as well known for his poor demeanor as he was for his outstanding ball skills. Go ahead and name a single player that Iverson was ever teammates with. You can't do it, can you? That's because it was always "The Answer" all the time. Practice.

Buddy Hield: I'm giving Buddy Hield the nod as my official futures-prediction for All-Cancer status. As many of you know, particularly right now, Buddy has evolved into one of the most dominant players in college basketball this season. His effort is tremendous, his shooting is exceptional, and he might very well win a National Championship in less than a week (though I'm clearly hoping my Heels take that honor). The problem is, he likes to showboat and be the center of attention and I don't really see his success translating to the next level. Hield will likely be named the Wooden Award Winner this year as College Basketball's MVP. While that says a lot about his skills at Oklahoma, it doesn't necessarily translate into success in the NBA. The last Wooden winner to go on to be a star for an NBA Championship winning team was Tim Duncan who won the award in 1997. A couple of guys like Andrew Bogut have won championships, but they did so as role players and not franchise centerpieces. Buddy plays like Steph Curry and acts like Carmelo Anthony. I don't see great things ahead for him.

Reggie Miller: This one is actually a little tough for me. I know I'm biased because I grew up a Knicks fan and Reggie was one of our most hated rivals. I recognize that he was one of the great shooters of all time and probably the only reason his Pacers teams were ever any good. But then I think deeper about his attitude, on and off the court antics, and the general celebrity he became while playing the game. When you think of Reggie's career (aside from shooting threes), the first accomplishments that come to mind were feuding with Spike Lee, fighting with John Starks, and attempting to climb out of his sister's shadow. With all of these considerations in mind, perhaps Reggie was actually his own worst enemy. There is no doubt that each of these things was a distraction for his club and provided ammunition for his opponents to want to grind his smug little face into the floor. He didn't really grow up until late in his career and by that time he was no longer athletic enough to carry the team on his back without help. At the end of the day, Reggie may very well be the cancer that prevented the Pacers from winning a title. Kind of ironic considering he's also the greatest player in franchise history. Maybe they should have drafted what's his name from Indiana after all (go watch the 30 For 30 ESPN produced about Reggie, you'll see what I'm talking about).

Lane Kiffin: Yes, I'm aware that Lane Kiffin is not a basketball player. But, if you recall the rules of the Third Team, there are no rules! I'm going to ignore the fact that Kiffin was the Offensive Coordinator for this year's national champions because he was operating under Nick Saban who I'm sure kept him in check. What I'm focusing on is how he single handedly destroyed the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers, and USC Trojans. I can't remember ever seeing a coach before who continued to receive great opportunity after great opportunity without having any success in their career. No really, he had zero! Sure, I'll give him some credit for being a decent assistant coach early in his career at USC. But once he received his first head coaching job in Oakland, he did absolutely nothing. He was a front office nightmare, a loose cannon in his decision making, and pretty much lost anywhere he went. It would be like the CEO of Ruth's Chris calling up the guy who one time put the right amount of salt on the fries at McDonalds and said "Hey there, how would you like to be the executive chef at one of our most prestigious locations in the middle of Manhattan?" Then, after he got fired because he thought filet mignon was ten Jewish guys sitting around eating flounder, he receives a call from the CEO of the Ritz Carlton asking him to be the new Catering Director in Hollywood. It just makes absolutely no sense.

Sixth Man - M. Plumlee: Every ... damn ... one ... of ... them.

So there you have it, my First, Second and Third Team All-Cancer squad! If you don't agree with any of my choices, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead and email me at YourOpinionDoesn'

Thanks for reading!

- Fishy

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Professional Football - An Open Letter to the NFL

Dear NFL Teams,

Congratulations, we are only two weeks away from completing yet another successful regular season of professional football! Well, I suppose successful is a relative term ... It is true that we have made it through the fall with some exciting games, intriguing storylines, and a fairly open look at who might be the eventual winner of the big game on the first Sunday in February. Then again, it feels like half the NFL roster has been hurt at one point or another, concussions are more controversial than ever, and Tom Brady's balls are not lacking for air (or playing time). Whichever side of the coin you're on, one thing has remained true ... we both love your game and hate your game all at the same time (curse you fantasy football!).

Since this is the holiday season and a time to once again reflect on the months that have passed us by, I have decided to give you all a very special gift this year. For your Christmas treat, I am writing this open letter to give each and every one of you a piece of my mind! Some of you will receives presents of praise and others will receive condescension of coal. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a little truth-telling as we discuss my feelings on each and every one of the 32 franchises comprising our beloved fraternity ...

Arizona Cardinals - Oh how I wish I had written this letter just one week ago. Had I done so, I would have told you how impressed I was by the season you were having, how you've avoided the injury bug plaguing the NFL, and how you had a first class ticket to this year's Super Bowl. But then, Sunday happened. Specifically, "beware of the Honeybadger" turned into "the tear of the Honeybadger." While I still believe you have enough weapons to make it all the way to the top, the road just got a lot more treacherous. Hopefully you have a secret replacement just waiting in the wings who can pick up where #32 left off ...

Atlanta Falcons - What the hell?! No really ... I have no clue what the hell is going on here. A couple of weeks ago I was in the car with my brother listening to Dan Lebatard on ESPN Radio. During the broadcast, the ever sarcastic one offered up this piece of brilliance: "I have a question for our audience that is going to blow your mind. I want you to really think about this for a minute. Are you sure ... Matt Ryan is ACTUALLY good?" I might have slightly paraphrased that a bit, but you get the idea. Ever since he came out of Boston College, I've believed that Matty Ice is one of the elite QB's in the league. But now, I'm not so sure. You have Julio Jones (one of the best receivers in football), Devonta Freeman (one of the best young running backs in football), and a new head coach who used to run the tenacious defense in Seattle. I hate to say it, but all signs of this year's lackluster play point to one guy, and I'm not really sure if he's good or not!

Baltimore Ravens - I think I just broke a finger typing this introduction. Can you refer me to a good surgeon? Oh, you can?! Well that's probably because 2/3 of your roster are in the doctor's office right now for evaluation and treatment! Here's my Christmas tip for you ... invest in a better strength and conditioning coach! You've lost every significant player on your team this year to a major injury. If you can't find a way to stay healthy in 2016 perhaps I can enroll you in an outstanding insurance plan ...

Buffalo Bills - Hey, remember back when people thought you were good?! No really, those were the days. I remember it like it was just September ... Week 1 of the NFL season. After a training camp where nobody knew who would be starting under center for your franchise, you all came out and whipped the Indianapolis Colts on national television and made Tyrod Taylor look like Joe Montana. Heck, I even put you in the playoffs in my one-week-too-late season predictions! Oops. I guess it was fun while it lasted. Maybe next year, right Rex?

Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton, I'm looking at you. I DON'T LIKE YOU. And I don't mean in the same way I hate the Patriots because they're stupid good looking and stupid successful and stupid winners and stupid stupid stupid. No, I don't like you because I think you're a fraud. Ever since you're little "Suggestion Box" press conference a couple of years ago I've thought you were an immature *insert adult word here* who was lucky as heck to be athletically gifted. Now I see all the charitable work they talk about you doing on TV and I don't buy a second of it because of your unnecessary celebrations everytime you get a first down. A FIRST DOWN!!! Yeah, I'm glad you give a football to a little kid each time your team reaches the endzone, real sweet. However, it doesn't make up for your smug smile, egotistical celebrations, and early 4th quarter team photographs when you're beating up a crappy Falcons team. I hate to tell you this Cam, but your Panthers are just not that good. I'll give you props for winning your first 14 games because that's just plain difficult. But really, let's take a deeper look at those games ...

Teams You Beat With a Winning Record: Seattle, Green Bay

Teams You Beat With a Tied or Losing Record: Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Washington, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, NY Giants

Congratulations, you've beat a whopping two teams with a winning record! And by the way, both of those two wins came while your opponent was in the midst of their longest losing streaks of the season! Way to catch them while they're down. Why am I pointing this out? Because I'm sick and tired of hearing everyone praise how great your team is. 14-0 is an accomplishment that nobody can take away from you and there's even an outside chance you survive your last two games and make it a perfect regular season. Luckily for you though Cam, 9 of your teammates can be shoulders to cry on when you're all hanging out in the Pro Bowl on January 31st wondering what went wrong and why you won't be playing in Levi's Stadium the following Sunday. Enjoy your trip to Hawaii and don't forget to dust off the big screen TV at home for your Super Bowl party. You won't be there in person.

Chicago Bears - Sorry Mr. Cutler, my hands are tired after my Cam Newton rant. You get off lucky this year. Don't worry, you'll disappoint us just as much next season too.

Cincinnati Bengals - If the NFL was a Hollywood movie, the Cincinnati Bengals would be the "To Be Continued" at the end of the heart-racing action sequence. As good as this team was to begin the season, this was finally the year where we as fans were going to find out if Andy Dalton could win the big one. Everything was setup perfectly ... the team was rolling through their competition, the squad was healthy, and Cincinnati was even going to host a game or two in the post-season! And then ... Andy Dalton breaks his hand making a tackle. Seriously?!?! Steven Spielberg couldn't have done it better himself! If somehow Dalton recovers in time to make a "miraculous" comeback and lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl, he's the hero everyone was hoping for. If he can't come back or he attempts to and just plain sucks ... aww, it's his poor hand and he'll show everyone next year that he can do it. In other words, To Be Continued.

Cleveland Browns - Hahahahahaha. Oh wait, that's mean. Especially because I'm not laughing with you, I'm laughing at you. Can we all please agree that even though Johnny Football puts tails in seats he also puts himself in slammers? I usually don't like characters like this but I really wanted to see him success. At this point though, it doesn't matter what he does on the field because he's a ticking time bomb off it. Enjoy another first or second pick in next year's NFL Draft.

Dallas Cowboys - Part of me really wants to feel bad for you this season. No truly, my Giants-loving heart for once has a tiny bit of sympathy for you. Your star quarterback goes down not once but twice with serious shoulder injuries. Your star receiver misses a big chunk of games due to a flukey Week 1 injury. Your potential breakout running back turns out to be a dud before getting himself in trouble off the field. It kinda stinks what happened to you. But then I look at Greg Hardy. And suddenly, you deserve it. Jerry Jones, let me give you some free advice for the future. You want to win the Super Bowl again? Fire yourself.

Denver Broncos - Wow. I shouldn't really be saying wow because it's unrealistic to have expected Peyton to continue playing at the level he was while also staying healthy, but still. Coming in to this season I expected a small drop off in quarterback performance en route to a solid record and decent showing in the playoffs. Instead what I got was an offense that looked like a bunch of chickens with their head cut off, the Peyton of old quickly transforming into an old Peyton, and a defense that started the year unstoppable and finished unstable. If there's any positive that came out of this campaign it's that Brock Osweiler proved he could potentially be the QB of the future in Denver. Unfortunately, John Elway may have screwed this up because Brock is an unrestricted free agent in a few weeks and will definitely be drawing interest from teams around the country. While the Broncos are technically still in Super Bowl contention, I'll be stunned if they put together a run to San Francisco. Mathematically, there's actually a chance they miss the playoffs completely. Someone give Peyton a hug please ... just not too hard.

Detroit Lions - And the award for "Disappointment of the Year" goes to ... drum roll please ... the Lions! Again! For the 10th time in 7 years! Seriously guys, what the heck happened to you this season? If you'll recall, not only did I pick you to win the division but I had you as my 1 seed in the NFC Playoffs! Boy was I wrong. Somehow one of the most talented rosters in the NFL found ways to squander games and look totally incompetent in epic proportions. You're finally starting to put the pieces together but now it's too little, too late. Do yourselves a favor and get some rest this off-season, maybe bang your head against a car frame to forget 2015 ever happened, and prepare to be the force you can be in 2016. The talent is there, now you just have to want it.

Green Bay Packers - Who would have thought your team would fall apart just from losing a white guy? Ok, that's not fair, the team didn't really fall apart as many franchises would love to be in your position. As it turns out you have a pretty decent record and could make some noise in the playoffs. But still, doesn't it just feel like one big letdown ever since Jordy Nelson got hurt? Over the last few seasons Aaron Rodgers has looked like Superman but there's a much more human element to his play this season. Maybe it's the lack of snow in Green Bay? Yeah, let's blame it on global warming. I will say this though ("ok say") ... watch out for the Packers in the playoffs. Nobody is really considering them a contender and #12 has a tendency to play really well with a chip on his shoulder. I won't be surprised if the Packers make it to the Super Bowl after all.

Houston Texans - I'd like to start off here by telling you how much I love your team. For a guy that has no particular reason to like or dislike your franchise, I really enjoy the Texans. I'm pretty sure it's the logo and uniforms. That and the fact that you realize how good TJ Yates can be, even as a backup. Unfortunately, the Hard Knocks curse has followed you a bit this season and once again Arian Foster couldn't stay healthy. Fortunately for you, you're in the worst division in football right now and that could mean a surprising home playoff game for a team that doesn't really deserve one. Good for you for playing hard and never giving up. Like John Cena.

Indianapolis Colts - If there's one thing you needed more of this season, it was Luck. In every sense of the word. When the star quarterback went down early in the year though and never completed recovered, you were forced to turn to the Shady Pines retirement home to fill out your roster. I mean seriously, you were relying on Matt Hasselback, Andre Johnson, and Frank Gore to bring you to the promised land this season. I'm pretty sure their average age is roughly George Clooney. There's only so much you can do with over-the-hill talent and a weak defense. Yet somehow you could sneak into the playoffs if the Texans fold the last two weeks of the season. Either way, your whole squad could use a nice big ice bath about now followed by a comfy bathrobe and slippers.

Jacksonville Jaguars - You are by far the most impressive crappy team in the league this season. Looking at your record (5-9) you'd think this was just another typical Jacksonville team. But for those of us who watched your games, you can start to see something special happening in northern Florida. You're the highest scoring offense in the division and the combination of Blake Bortles plus the Allen brothers could be really good for a long time. You have a very young team and I will not be at all surprised if in the next few years you grow into an AFC powerhouse. Draft some talented defensive players to take the pressure off the offense and there may be something good brewing here. Yeah, that's right, my review of the Jaguars is actually positive!

Kansas City Chiefs - Funny thing about this team ... they have very quietly become one of only 11 squads in the NFL this season with a winning record. Not too shabby for a team that started off the year 1-5 while losing its best player to a season-ending injury. If you had told me in Week 6 that the Chiefs were going to cruise into the playoffs I would have laughed at you. But that appears to be what's going to happen provided they avoid an epic collapse. Points to Andy Reid for keeping this team on track and making Alex Smith realize that Jeremy Maclin is one of the best receivers in football. It's still weird to me that they do the tomahawk chop though.

Miami Dolphins - Lamar Miller. Lamar Miller. Lamar Miller. Has it sunk in yet? Your best player and one of the most dynamic young players in the league should be getting the ball WAY more than he already does. And he's told you that but nobody's listening. The 'Phins already lost their head coach to the pink slip earlier this season (about time) and I don't see the interim guy working out very well either. The Dolphins need to hire Pat Riley to come into the front office and make some moves to put this club back on the map. They're in one of the most popular cities in the country, you never have to worry about snow during a game, and The Rock has a hit show on HBO focused on South Florida football. I mean seriously, what else do you need to recruit talent to this club? You have a few building blocks already on the roster, now just keep them happy (aka give Miller like 50 carries a game the next two weeks so he doesn't go into free agency) and start creating a winner.

Minnesota Vikings - Ever since he was at Louisville, I've been saying Teddy Bridgewater is not a winner. He may have decent athletic ability, but his size is a detriment to the team and I don't see the football IQ of Russell Wilson to help make up for it. Adrian Peterson came back this year after a year in the doghouse and immediately looked like himself as he's at the top of the league in rush yards and has stayed relatively healthy all season (until last week when he tweaked his ankle). The problem is, AP can't do it all and Bridgewater isn't good enough to pick up the slack. Stefon Diggs is showing flashes of being a brilliant young receiver but I don't see anyone on the roster who's going to show him the ropes right now and bring him to the next level. That includes Mike Wallace. Get some talent around Peterson before he's forced to retire without a Super Bowl ring. Or make Teddy play in high heels so he can see over the offensive line.

New England Patriots - For the last ten years, I have absolutely detested this franchise and the quarterback who leads them. Coming in to this season, deflategate gave me every reason to hate them even more than before as their antics showed the cheating cowards they actually are. Yet, somehow, for some reason, I find myself respecting this team and Tom Brady more than I ever have before. Let's face it, given the injuries this team has suffered over the year they had every reason to crumble and die. Heck, at one point they only had 6 offensive linemen dressing for the game because all of the others were on the shelf. Yet, somehow the duo of Brady and Belichek has found a way to persevere yet again while leading the team to a 12-2 start. I mean seriously, they're 12-2?! You can say all you want about team sports and how one person doesn't make up a whole team, but I think this year the Patriots have proven that theory wrong. I still don't like them, and I still want to watch little Tom crying on the sidelines like a baby who just dropped its lollipop, but for the first time ever they have my respect. No matter how big their balls are.

New Orleans Saints - Who dat? EVERYBODY! That's right, every single person in the NFL thinks they can beat them Saints in 2015. I'm pretty sure I even threw for 12 touchdowns against them this season and I've never played organized football in my life! The Saints defense has given up a staggering 432 points through the first 14 games of their season ... that's over 30 points everytime they touch the field! I don't care how solid they play on the opposite side of the ball, it's just not fair to expect that kind of production out of Drew Brees week in and week out. But it's ok, I have a solution that is sure to help the Saints. In order to motivate your players on defense to really amp up their enthusiasm, why don't you put together a payment plan to offer them a little something extra on the side for big hits ...

NY Giants - FIRE TOM COUGHLIN. The end. Ok, not really the end because this is my team and I feel it's only right to say something else. But for dramatic effect, pretend "The end" was actually the end to show how much I want Tom Coughlin fired. Once again, the Giants have done exactly what I expected of them and led me to another disappointing campaign. It's the same thing every season ... win a few games, convince people that we might actually be good, go on a long losing streak, find ways to choke that were previously never thought possible, and win just enough to get a crappy draft pick who won't do anything to elevate the level of the franchise. It's remarkable how similar every single season has been since Coughlin took over as head coach. Sure, some of the parts have been interchanged, but at the end of the day we're going to be right on the fringe of making the playoffs and more often than not will fall just short of doing so. The sad part is, if the Giants sneak in to the post-season I fully expect that they'll win the Super Bowl! So, for yet another year, the Giants come into Week 16 still mathematically in contention and will find a way to blow it in the most heart-breaking way possible. I can't wait to see how they pull it off this year! FIRE TOM COUGHLIN. The end.

NY Jets - Aww, look at the Jets. Aren't they cute with their little uniforms, and their little helmets, and their little green logo? I just want to pinch their cheeks and tell them how adorable they are. They even went out and won a few games this season! Who's a big boy huh, who's a big boy? That's right, you are, you're a big boy!

Oakland Raiders - If the Detroit Lions and the Jacksonville Jaguars had a baby, and then they painted that baby silver and black and handed it to a bunch or motorcycle gangs to care for, you'd have the Oakland Raiders. Like the Jaguars, this team has been quietly stockpiling talent for the last couple of years and I really thought they were poised to strike from out of nowhere this season. However, similar to the Lions, they failed to live up to the expectations I had set in my mind. Maybe I'm still a year or two too early for this franchise, but the Raiders are not to be handled lightly in the near future. Derek Carr has shown he knows how to lead an offense and Amari Cooper is poised to be the next Jerry Rice if put in a position to succeed. This team is like a nice piece of meat ... let them marinate for a little while to get the juices flowing in harmony and get ready to be hit by a wave of excitement when it's time to cook.

Philadelphia Eagles - Where do I even start? What should have been a relaxing ride along the Jungle Cruise has somehow turned into the turbulent roller coaster that is Space Mountain. Several months before the season began, Chip Kelly got rid of every good player on the roster and I thought he was crazy. Then he somehow brings in both Sam Bradford and Demarco Murray so I think the guy is unquestionably brilliant. The Eagles proceed to lose 3 of their first 4 games and Chip Kelly looks crazy again. Then they win 3 of the next 4 and he's brilliant. Three straight losses and he's crazy. Wins two of the last three and he's brilliant. When will the madness stop?!?!?! I don't know what to even think anymore but somehow my man-crush on Chip Kelly has withstood the test of time and he's one big win this weekend against Washington away from putting himself in playoff contention. He's so crazy ... he just might be brilliant ...

Pittsburgh Steelers - For the love of all things holy, find a way to keep Big Ben healthy! I'm going to keep this very short and simple for you ... if the team stays healthy for the next month and a half, you'll be raising the Lombardi Trophy on February 7th. You're the best team in the NFL this season when you have your players on the field. Now you just need to keep them there.

San Diego Chargers - Remember when you used to play in San Diego? Yeah, that was fun. For the sake of your city and your fans, I hope the franchise finds a way to avoid moving to LA so that you can continue footballing it up in one of the most beautiful cities in the country. I know this was a crappy season, but unfortunately injuries took their toll and the running game never got started with Melvin Gordon like you hope it would. There's a lot of uncertainty in your future but I genuinely wish you the best of luck. But of course, I am biased because your alternate uniforms are Carolina Blue.

San Francisco 49ers - I hate to say it, but this team was doomed before the first game even kicked off this year. When the Niners lost half of their award-winning defense during the pre-season, the rest of the roster didn't really have much of a chance in succeeding. Oh yeah, you lost your head coach too who ran off to the Big House in Michigan to coach his alma mater. What that left you with was an athletic quarterback without confidence, and old receiving corps without consistency, an inexperienced backfield without a line to block for it, and a bunch of guys on defense without names that anyone could recognize. I'm surprised they even managed to win 4 games this season and I'll be even more surprised if they are good anytime in the near future.

Seattle Seahawks - For years now I've had all the respect in the world for Russell Wilson but still couldn't stand this team. I didn't complete understand why until this season ... Marshawn Lynch! This team is SO much more likeable without Beast Mode on the field. He's one of the few players where I really don't care about their talent because the attitude they have is so unbelievably poor. That was never more evident than earlier this year when his Mommy went on a social media rant because baby boy wasn't getting the ball enough. At least now we know where he gets it. Since Lynch got hurt, Wilson has looked like the league MVP and has set a record for the most touchdown passes over a 4 game span without an interception. Even though the season looked lost after the dysfunction in the first couple of weeks, Pete Carroll has quickly corrected the direction of this ship and Seattle will be going into the post-season as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for them, the Cardinals have had such a stellar season that the Seahawks will have to prove they can win on the road if they want a shot at another NFL Championship. Sorry guys, I don't think you have quite the defense this year to make it happen, but for the first time in years I won't mind watching you try. That is of course, until Lynch returns to the field.

St. Louis Rams - Is it baseball season yet? St. Louis is one of the greatest baseball towns in the country and I hope that gives them the love they'll need in their heart when they lose the Rams. It's a shame too, because they've had a great time watching Todd Gurley quickly become one of the best running backs in the NFL. I hope they enjoyed the short time they had together because it will take more than a Christmas miracle to keep this franchise where they are. But hey, how 'bout them Cardinals?! No, not the ones who actually made the playoffs from the NFC West, I'm talking about the ones who begin spring training in just a couple short months. On the bright side, losing the Rams automatically brings up the winning percentage of the city's professional sports teams, so that's something.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Tampa Bay ranks up there with one of the most confusing franchises I've seen in the NFL this season. There were games when the team looked absolutely brilliant and Famous Jameis earned the number one pick that he was in last year's NFL draft. Then, there were weeks where the Bucs looked like they had never played football before and could barely score on the Saints (yep, THOSE Saints). I'm not really sure what to make of this team because I think the likelihood of them being a playoff contender next year is about the same as them having another 5 win season. One thing's for sure ... I don't plan on putting money on them anytime soon!

Tennessee Titans - Oh yeah, you're still in the league too! I almost forgot about you considering how irrelevant you seem to have been this season. Which is a shame too considering you went out and drafted one of the most prolific winners in the history of college football. Marcus Mariota does no good for you though when he's injured on the sidelines and your terrible offensive line made that happen multiple times this season. It also doesn't help that I'm a daily fantasy player (yay Draft Kings) yet I still struggle to name even a single running back or wide receiver on your entire roster. Do yourselves a favor ... tank the last two games of the season, secure the number one overall pick in next year's draft, and find a couple of players that can help Marcus look like the stud that he is.

Washington Redskins - Excuse my language, but how the hell is this team leading the NFC East? I mean seriously, come on! The Deadskins were the joke of the NFL before the season began with all of the RG3 shenanigans and questions about who would be playing quarterback. Yet somehow Washington has clawed its way to a 7-7 record which is good enough for the division lead and in the driver's seat to represent the division in the post-season. When you watch these guys play, you almost want to poke your eyes out because it's just such an ugly brand of football. They make mistakes, they can't decided on a running back to save their lives, and let's not even get into how hideous their uniforms are. I don't care if I'm a Giants fan or not, but I'm hoping the Eagles destroy the Skins this weekend to keep this team out of the playoffs. Then again, as a Giants fan, that would be great for us because we'd have a chance to sneak in! Go Eagles! Continue the epic collapse that will be the Giants' season as they once again dangle the carrot of hope in front of my eyes just so they can snatch it away at the last possible second ... For goodness sakes FIRE TOM COUGHLIN!!!!!!!

Well NFL, there you have it. It took me over two hours to let you know how I feel so I hope you take my thoughts into consideration as we move into the final two weeks of our regular season. I'm sure you'll find another 125 ways to turn everything I thought about the league upside down, but for now, can we at least agree to laugh our butts off when the Carolina Panthers' season implodes into a glorious pile of inexplicable waste? Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a goodnight.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Pro Wrestling - Designing the Crystal Ball

Dear Loyal Follower(s) ...

Indulge me if you will (and you will) for I have seen the future! OK, not really, but I have imagined it! Well kinda ... you see, I have been inspired by one of my favorite YouTube channels to think about the wonderful world of professional wrestling and how things would work if I ran the joint. Yes, I know, this blog is supposed to be all about sports and my opinions on things in the competitive world. However, I thought it would be relatively harmless if just for today I meandered back into the arena of sports entertainment. Because, even though it's outcomes are predetermined, the athleticism and competitive nature of the WWE is not that far off from any of my other favorite sports leagues. Plus, wrestling has pyro! In order to explain where I'm going with this, you may want to take a quick glance at the YouTube channel mentioned above (or not, completely up to you): WhatCulture WWE

For those of you who were too lazy to click the link, here's the summary of what you missed: This dude Adam runs a YouTube channel all about WWE and has an ongoing series of shows of how he would go back in time and re-write major wrestling storylines as he feels they would have been better told. Given the benefit of reflecting on the past, he takes "angles" (wrastlin term for stories) that were only so-so and tells a brand new story with the same characters in that same time period. Basically, every new history he writes is better than the original because you're able to erase the mistakes and pieces that the fans didn't like. But, that got me thinking, what if you couldn't erase the mistakes? And by that I mean, what if instead of fixing the past he tells a golden story of the future? Well, he has hinted that he might do that one day but it hasn't happened yet. So, I get to do it first. And thus, my vision for the future begins! (Ok, technically Adam started doing this over the weekend but since I haven't watched the videos yet it doesn't count)

So, before the future starts, I should probably mention that I'm making a couple of broad assumptions that will greatly impact my story. These assumptions are big enough that any one of them being false could (and would) completely change what happens in the future. However, they are also based on enough credible information that though they aren't guaranteed, they could very well all come true. With that said, here are the "truths" that I am assuming in putting together my ideal future storylines (in no particular order):

1. The Rock is indeed in talks with WWE about a potential return to the company and that will happen at some point.
2. Daniel Bryan will not be cleared by the WWE medical staff and thus his in-ring career is over.
3. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin has no desire to return to action and will not be strapping on the boots again at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas.
4. Like it or not, Roman Reigns is walking out of WrestleMania next April as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. (Note: I toss this in because it seems to be an inevitable truth right now. Rather than ignoring what will come, I'll write a story that makes it more palatable.)

One more thing ... I'm putting together this view of the future based on how I would "book" (another wrastlin term for story) things, not based on what I think will happen. Naturally, I anticipate the actual WWE version will end up being quite different (and probably not nearly as awesome) than my version of things. Now that we've got THAT out of the way ...

Main Event Picture

For anyone that watched the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) last night, you already know that Seth Rollins won the match and retained his WWE World Heavyweight Championship (to make this easier moving forward, we're just calling it the Championship). This was not a surprise finish and the way he thoroughly thumped Kane it makes it clear that a new challenger is waiting in the wings. Now, WWE has strongly hinted that the new challenger for the belt will be Roman Reigns. However, since this is my story and not Vince's, I'm changing this up. Right now ratings for Monday Night Raw are at an all time low and the company is struggling to maintain viewership against Monday Night Football. Unless of course you're like me and you have two TV's going at a time in your living room. But I digress. Since ratings are down and Roman Reigns is not the most "over" (wrastlin term for popular) character right now, I think WWE needs someone to quickly grab viewers. Enter the most electrifying man in all of entertainment ... The Rock. That's right, if up to me, the Rock would return tonight and immediately challenge Seth Rollins for the Championship. Not only would it be a huge ratings boost for the upcoming few weeks, but the next PPV is Survivor Series which is one of the biggest events the company hosts each year. The Rock is a big event draw and putting Rollins versus The Rock on the marquee would certainly draw attention and probably sell more subscriptions to the WWE Network. Plus, the event is in Atlanta and I really want to see the Great One in person.

Over the next few weeks, use TV time to really build this match. The story would basically take the angle that The Rock is sick of watching this brash young hotshot running his mouth and telling everyone how he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. In turn, Seth will go running to the Authority (Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) claiming how outrageous this challenge is and complaining that he shouldn't have to face The Rock. Triple H, being the big softy that he is, will acknowledge that this could potentially be trouble for Rollins but it's also best for business. He will make the Championship Match for Survivor Series but in order to be fair to Rollins, he will insert himself as the special guest referee for the match. This is key. WWE has already hinted at a Rock/Triple H fight building and Rollins will love the position he's been put in. However, WWE has already hinted at some tension between Triple H and Rollins which naturally Seth will completely forget about. Triple H will promise to call the match down the middle but Rollins knows where his allegiance really lies, wink.

Survivor Series - Besides the fact that this story would be great, there's no doubt that Rollins could carry the aging Rock to a tremendous match. It would likely be an instant-classic between Seth's athleticism and The Rock's charisma and fans would probably be going crazy. Throughout the contest, there would be building tension among all three men in the ring because the biggest title in the company will be on the line. Towards the end of the match we will reach a point where Rollins puts a strong move on The Rock, goes for the pin, and The Rock kicks out at two. Infuriated that Triple H wasn't counting faster, Rollins will attack the referee who will respond by hitting the Pedigree on Rollins. Now out cold, Rollins just lays there ready to be pinned. The Rock revives himself, sees Rollins in the middle of the ring, and confronts Triple H for not letting the match play out fairly (after all, The Rock is a face, aka good guy). Triple H will take exception to this and deliver his finisher again, the time to the Brahma Bull. Yeah, I get it, Dwayne has a lot of nicknames. Now that both guys are out thanks to Triple H, he stands back and waits for the two competitors to finally return to their feet. The match continues and eventually The Rock wins cleanly following a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. The Rock is your new champ and he is immediately attacked by Triple H after being declared the winner.

At this point, Seth Rollins "disappears" from TV (enjoy your vacation) and we'll get back to him later. The match at Survivor Series clearly sets the stage for a showdown between Triple H and The Rock. Keep in mind that the tension in this feud has been building for close to two years now. Since The Rock likely won't compete in whatever crappy PPV the WWE puts together in December (it's not a major enough one) this gives them two months to build the excitement for a title match at Royal Rumble. Not only will this be anticipated around the world, but the Rumble is being held in Orlando next January which also happens to be the home location of NXT. Who is the man running NXT in the real world? Oh yeah, Triple H, happy coincidence. Now, I don't believe NXT will have anything to do with the main event on the "card" (wrastlin term for match lineup) that night, but there should be a stronger crowd reaction due to The Game's involvement in that area of the country. Ultimately the bad blood should result in this being some type of a gimmicky match, but even now these two guys could pull off a really strong straight forward contest.

Royal Rumble - Very important ... the Championship Match needs to be on the card before the actual Royal Rumble match. For this story to work, the title needs to be on the line first. Sometimes WWE does this, sometimes they have the title match at the end of the card. Why is this important you ask? Well ... as predicted Triple H and The Rock go head to head for the Championship in an epic battle. All of the key spots are hit during the match and it's looking like anyone could win. And, for the heck of it, let's throw in a good knocked out referee for fun. Just as it appears Triple H is going to finish off The Rock with a Pedigree ... here comes Seth Rollins! Rollins charges down to ringside, hops on the ring apron, and distracts Triple H long enough to get his attention and prevent the finisher. Triple H confronts Rollins who immediately threatens to get physical with both the challenger and the champion. Just as chaos begins ... here comes Roman Reigns! Reigns, the real-life cousin of The Rock, jumps into the ring and immediate goes after Rollins to prevent any further interference in the match. While they fight on the outside, The Rock refocuses and hits Triple H with the Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. Reigns wakes the referee, throws him in the ring, and The Rock gets the 3 count and retains the title. Reigns comes back into the ring, big hug for his cousin, raises The Rock's hand, and back-stab! From out of nowhere Roman attacks Dwayne and absolutely beats him to a bloody pulp. He leaves the ring smirking as the crowd is livid and shouting all sorts of mean things towards Reigns. "You big poopie head!" "I don't like your hair cut!" "You're hot, can I get your phone number?!" Later in the night Reigns goes on to absolutely destroy the competition in the actual Royal Rumble match. He will break his own record for the number of eliminations in a single contest, he will eliminate John Cena from the match (welcome back from your long vacation sir) when they are the last two men and fans will be hating it the entire way knowing for the second year in a row Reigns was going to win and there's nothing they can do about it. The "heat" (wrastlin term for hatred) on Reigns will be greater than ever and Roman will move forward as a full blown "heel" (wrastlin term for bad guy).

That, of course, brings us to WrestleMania 32 in Dallas ... Jerry's House. You have one of the biggest stars in company history defending the title against the most hated man in the company, and his own cousin, Roman Reigns. As you already know from my assumptions above, Reigns will go on to defeat The Rock and take over the Championship. Since at this point he will be detested by fans, he'll probably find a way to cheat during the match so the win over The Rock will be slightly tainted (a very heel thing to do). Instead of giving The Rock a hug after the match in the typical display of appreciation, he will instead slap his cousin in the face and walk up the entrance ramp leaving a defeated Dwayne in the ring to close out the show. Queue the fireworks.

Why does this script make sense? Well, there's several reasons:

1. Right now, nobody wants Roman Reigns to win the Championship. Wrestling fans feel like this future has been forced upon them for the last year and a half so you may as well make the guy a heel since the fans are going to boo him anyway.
2. Beating The Rock at WrestleMania adds legitimacy to his resume. He needs a big win, and beating the Great One at WrestleMania is as big as it gets.
3. This allows The Rock to help his cousin out in real life. Reigns his struggling for fan approval right now and The Rock can use his celebratory and status to put over family. Hatred sells in wrestling.

What About Everything Else?

So, there you have your Championship picture. But, there's still quite a few pieces of the story to be told. I'm not going to go into nearly as much detail as I did above, but ...

- Remember how Rollins interfered in the Royal Rumble Championship Match above? Well, that's exactly what WWE needed to setup the anticipated Triple H versus Seth Rollins match for WrestleMania. You're welcome.

- The next big thing in WWE is Bray Wyatt. So, it would only be fitting for the former "Next Big Thing" to be the one to put him over and build a strong case for Wyatt to be champion. I would expect that during the actual Royal Rumble match, a sneak attack by Wyatt and his family ruins the hopes of Brock Lesnar to win the coveted main event spot at WrestleMania. The Wyatt family would illegally enter the Rumble, gang attack Lesnar, and throw him over the top rope. That would setup a match at WrestleMania featuring Lesnar and Wyatt where Wyatt would come out the victor. Lesnar is inching closer to retirement (based on comments he made on the recent Stone Cold podcast) and this would give him a chance to allow a budding superstar to leap off his massive reputation.

- Undertaker versus Sting at WrestleMania. If you follow wrestling, you know what I'm talking about.

- The return of Alberto Del Rio last night was a huge wrinkle in the story that I did not see coming. He is a big name that has been gone for over a year and his defeat of John Cena to win the US Title will play a huge part of the company's booking moving forward. Between now and the end of the Royal Rumble, Del Rio needs to feud with Dean Ambrose without ever dropping the belt (I'd love to say Cesaro but WWE clearly has him on an inexplicable collision course with Stardust). Del Rio should drop the title back to Cena in the WrestleMania return match and THEN allow Cena to drop the belt to Dean Ambrose in the coming months. Big moment for Cena at WrestleMania, then let him put over Ambrose to build more credibility.

- I love Kevin Owens as the Intercontinental Champion. I think he's just a stronger character with a belt on his shoulder than he is without one. However, eventually he's going to lose the title and I think it should happen before WrestleMania so that someone can retain a belt at that event. The guy that I would have beat him? Samoa Joe.

- At some point Sheamus needs to cash in his Money in the Bank Contract on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Pick one of the smaller PPV's in between Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and WrestleMania. Whenever you book it, have him lose to The Rock. There's no need for Sheamus around here.

- Speaking of Money in the Bank, the Money in the Bank PPV next year needs to feature TWO of these specialty matches. The first match will be filled with a bunch of active superstars and should ultimately be won by Seth Rollins. He's just too good not to have him in the title picture. The next match will be contested by only NXT roster members who are being given the chance of a lifetime to prove themselves. This will be the chance that Finn Balor needs to make a name for himself on the main roster. Having two MITB holders will create a very cool dynamic as well as you can have Rollins and Balor creating all sorts of havoc when tripping over each other to cash in on Roman Reigns at the opportune time. It will be the foundation for an incredible rivalry moving forward, one that the company can rally around for years to come.

- In the Divas division ... for goodness sake get the title to Sasha Banks! I think there needs to be a dramatic build to this happening though as the fans desperately want Sasha to be the focus of the women. I'd have her lose in controversial fashion once or twice as they build to a WrestleMania Championship Match featuring the horsewomen in a Fatal Four Way. This match would have so much hype that they could open the show with it (first time ever for the Divas) and give them a nice long time slot to work with. Sasha would walk away with the belt just like she did when these ladies met in a similar match down in NXT.

So there you have it, the wrestling world according to me! Of course, I mentioned that my assumptions could be wrong ...

1. If The Rock doesn't return right away, the chances of him facing Reigns for the title at WrestleMania are virtually non-existent. Much more likely that he would face Triple H at WrestleMania.
2. If Daniel Bryan is able to make a return, he figures to be a prominent addition to the US Title picture in the short term before making his return to the main event scene in about a year.
3. If Stone Cold agrees to wrestle in Dallas next April, it's going to be against Brock Lesnar, no questions asked.
4. Who are we kidding, there's no way that Reigns doesn't win the main event in Jerry's World unless he's injured and unable to compete. Even if I don't like the guy, I would never wish that upon him.

Now that the fantasy has been written, let's see how the reality plays out ...

- Fishy

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pro Football - 1 Week Too Late Season Preview

Goooooooooood Afternoon Sports Fans,

I would like to begin this post with an apology. I am one week too late putting together my official season preview and therefore have 16 games under my belt to complete additional analysis and predictions. I would like to continue by retracting my apology because I'm currently in the process of healing from multiple concussions and have been instructed to minimize my time in front of a computer screen. With that said, the world is clearly thirsty for my insight and I'm like a tall glass of Coke to quench your desires. Not the crappy Coke that they released in the 80's though, I'm the real deal Coca-Cola.

Before continuing, I'd also like to mention that due to my concussion recovery I will likely look at the keyboard while typing instead of the monitor (or keep my eyes closed) so I apologize for any typos, grammatical errors, or references to the over-sexualization of Miley Cyrus. Why? Because thinking about Miley makes my head hurt.

OK, now let's get down to business. In order to be fair about my predictions, I'm going to give you my original forecasts for the season along with a few revisions that I've made now that Week 1 is in my back pocket. To be fair, my brother and I had a thorough discussion on the phone about a week and a half ago to discussion the [then] upcoming season so he can verify these were my actual thoughts. Don't believe me? You can call him to verify: 1-800-NAKED-MILEY. If he's not home, please leave a voicemail after the twerk.

Per usual, we're going to break this down by division and then get to my Super Bowl Fifty prediction (I typed out 50 because using one Roman numeral is weird and some may get confused by Super Bowl L).

AFC North

Original Prediction - 4 Team Coin Flip (If forced to pick, I'd take Pittsburgh)
Revised Prediction - 3 Team Coin Flip (If forced to pick, I'd take Cincinnati)

For my money, the AFC North is once again the most competitive division in the NFL. When the season started, I could make an argument for any of the 4 teams to ultimately win the division with either a 9 or 10 win record. Each team has strengths (Baltimore and Cleveland have outstanding defenses, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati potent offenses) and each team has weaknesses (Baltimore has no wide receivers, Johnny Football spends too much time partying with Miley, half the Pittsburgh defense left town, and Andy Dalton can't decide if he's good or not). It really was a toss up for me and I expected that the second place team in the division would be neck and neck with the third place team from the AFC West for the last Wild Card spot (more on that later). After watching Week 1, I'm going to go ahead and say that the Browns suck more than Miley in a ... err ... I don't think the Browns can score enough points to win games. Still a toss up among the other three, but the Bengals looked really solid against a weak Raiders team in Oakland.

AFC East

Original Prediction - New England Patriots
Revised Prediction - New England Patriots

Even though the Patriots' balls are more deflated than Miley's ex-boyfriend's, somehow Tom got out of jail free and was able to make the Week 1 roster. And that, by itself, was enough to give the Patriots the division. Even though my brother disagrees, I think the off season issues of Brady and crew will help motivate the team rather than distract them. Anyone else remember the 2007 campaign after Spygate? The Patriots scored more during those 17 weeks than Miley did in 17 months. At this point, I can't expect the Patriots to have a bad season unless #12's leg breaks again and that's just not the type of thing you can predict. The Belichek/Brady combination is just too potent to stop during the regular season and I see another 12-4 regular season in their future. On top of that, I still think the AFC Least is the worst division in football because at least 2 teams are incredibly underwhelming. After watching Week 1, I'm not ready to jump on the Buffalo bandwagon quite yet. Even if the Bills can pull off the win against the Pats this weekend, I'm just not sure that a team used to losing can sustain dominance for an entire season. BUT, it might be enough to get them into the Wild Card ...

AFC South

Original Prediction - Indianapolis Colts
Revised Prediction - Indianapolis Colts

First, let me start off by saying I love Marcus Mariota. And no, I'm not one of the millions of people in America who are just figuring out who this kid is after a ridiculous first half performance against the Bucs in Week 1. Go ahead and read my College Football posts from last year ... I've been loving on Mariota the same way that Miley loves on ... well, everything. I am incredibly excited by the performance I saw last week (Marcus, not Miley) and am hopeful that he continues to grow into the future Hall of Famer I believe he can be. With that said, I just don't think the Titans have nearly enough talent around him to keep the blowouts coming. This division belongs to the Colts and their superstar offense. Provided the team can stay relatively healthy, I don't see anyone else in the division even having a chance. And yes, I still believe that after the Colts lost an ugly game in Buffalo last week. I'll take the Colts, a 13-3 record, and wishes for Hannah Montana to return from the depths of Miley's trashy heart.

AFC West

Original Prediction - Denver Broncos
Revised Prediction - Kansas City Chiefs

For my money, top to bottom the AFC West is the best division in the AFC (if not all of football). Even though the Raiders are cute in their little silver and black costumes (no wait, that was Miley), the other three teams in the division are among the best in the NFL. Last year the Chiefs came out of nowhere to show that they are a serious franchise again and they have only added to their depth by signing Jeremy Maclin and addressing the one glaring weakness they had in 2014. The Chargers have been one of the NFL's most consistent teams over the last 10 years and you just know that Phillip Rivers is going to have them on the cusp of the playoffs once again this season. The only problem their is they can't seem to get over the hump (not a problem Miley has) to become a serious championship contender year in and year out. And then you have the Broncos led by ole faithful, Peyton Manning. I'm not going to lie, Week 1 concerned me a little as ole Peyton was looking a little too much like an old Peyton. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt for now and credit the poor offensive performance to a new Coordinator, but I think a couple of early season losses from "working out the kinks" will ultimately cost the Broncos the division come December.

AFC Playoffs

Seed - Original Prediction - Revised Prediction

1 Seed - Indianapolis Colts - Indianapolis Colts
2 Seed - New England Patriots - New England Patriots
3 Seed - Denver Broncos - Kansas City Chiefs
4 Seed - Pittsburgh Steelers - Cincinnati Bengals
5 Seed - Kansas City Chiefs - Denver Broncos
6 Seed - San Diego Chargers - Buffalo Bills

Yep, that's right, I'm going to buy in enough to Buffalo to allow them to sneak into the playoffs with a 6 seed. I'm still a little worried about Tyrod Taylor at QB because he wasn't a dominant winner in college (like the similarly sized Russell Wilson) but if he can just game-manage I think Buffalo's defense can lead them to a pretty solid record. Looking at the 6 teams above, I don't think Buffalo will have enough juice to win on the road in Kansas City during the Wild Card round of the playoffs and similarly I think the experience of Peyton Manning can get him past the Bengals where Cincinnati always tends to flop in the playoffs. That would leave Peyton and company heading to Indy for a very intriguing match up with Manning's former employer. Could it be that Peyton's last game as a pro is in Indy after all? If he retires after this year I think this statement will be true because I see the Colts winning the battle of the Ponies while the Patriots handle their business in BBQ country. That should setup a rematch of last year's AFC Championship game and this time the Luck will be on the other horse shoe (see what I did there?). Colts go Super Bowling this coming February.

*Editor's Note - Insert Miley Comment Here*

NFC North

Original Prediction - Detroit Lions
Revised Prediction - Detroit Lions

There must be something about cold weather that makes a division competitive, because I think the NFC North is just as tight as Miley's the AFC North. In all seriousness, I do believe the chilly conditions up North make a difference because anything can happen on a given day. The variances in field conditions and expected precipitation can really swing the strategy a coach will use and give a definitive advantage to the team that can best adapt. We've seen a couple of occasions in just the last 10 years where the Packers lost at home to the Giants in freezing temperatures because the Giants adjusted to the conditions better. With that said, there's enough talent in this division to go around and I could sensibly make an argument for any of the 4 teams in this group. Ultimately, I ruled out the Vikings because I just don't think Teddy Bridgewater can cut it in the NFL (Week 1 helps to support this theory), the Packers lost their top receiving threat which will have more impact on Aaron Rodgers' productivity than most realize, and Jay Cutler is, well, let's just say if he had Miley's passion things could be a little different. The Lions are a complete team, and oh by the way, they play inside. Take out the unpredictability of the winter and they have a significant advantage over their division rivals.

NFC East

Original Prediction - 2 Team Coin Flip (If forced to pick, I'd take Dallas)
Revised Prediction - 2 Team Coin Flip (If forced to pick, I'd take Philly)

I'm a Giants fan. There, I said it. I'm not proud, I'm not happy, I'm not excited, and my Fantasy Football team name for the last three years has been "Fire Tom Coughlin." If you watched the Week 1 game against Dallas on Sunday night, you should fully understand how I'm feeling. The Giants truly grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory and choked worse than Miley on her first date with her new girlfriend. However, it did reaffirm my belief that the Giants are going to have another sub-par, 7 win, just barely miss the playoffs but not so bad that Tom Coughlin gets canned, crappy draft pick both in pick number and talent, season. And if you didn't know it already, the Deadskins don't really even deserve a spot in the NFL and might want to consider moving the franchise to Canada where they might stand a chance against the Toronto Argonauts. Now even though the bottom half of the NFC East is pathetic, the top half is stacked with talent and the greatest coach since sliced bread (Chip Kelly). Both the Cowboys and Eagles could prove to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders this season and the only reason I flipped by pick is because of the injury to Dez Bryant last week. I think the Cowboys will still win 10 games but not having Dez could cost them somewhere during the season.

NFC South

Original Prediction - New Orleans Saints
Revised Prediction - Atlanta Falcons

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Yip yip yip yip. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

NFC West

Original Prediction - Arizona Cardinals
Revised Prediction - Arizona Cardinals

Some might call me crazier than Miley on this one, but I think the Seahawks' years of dominance and Super Bowl runs are over. And yes, I PROMISE that I made this prediction before their sloppy loss against the Rams this past Sunday. Unfortunately for the birds, they are starting to experience some dysfunction in their organization and history has shown that the Super Bowl loser tends to struggle the following year. Between the botched call to end last year's big game, the hold out of Kam Chancellor, and the strengthening of both the Rams and Cardinals, I just don't see Seattle making it into the post-season. And how bout them Rams? I'll admit, I have my questions about Nick Foles and how successful he can be outside of Chip Kelly. However, once Todd Gurley gets healthy they have enough speed on offense to keep up with their very under-rated defense and make some noise in the league. I think it's enough to cause trouble out West but not quite enough to get the 9 or 10 wins they'll need to make the playoffs. Unfortunately the 49ers were decimated on defense this off-season and the addition of Torrey Smith isn't enough to fix a really struggling passing game. With Carson Palmer returning to health and the Cardinals bringing one of the best receiving corps and defenses into the season, I expect them to be legitimate contenders in the NFL this season.

NFC Playoffs

Seed - Original Prediction - Revised Prediction

1 Seed - Detroit Lions - Detroit Lions
2 Seed - Dallas Cowboys - Arizona Cardinals
3 Seed - Arizona Cardinals - Philadelphia Eagles
4 Seed - New Orleans Saints - Atlanta Falcons
5 Seed - Green Bay Packers - Dallas Cowboys
6 Seed - Philadelphia Eagles - Green Bay Packers

Doesn't the Eagles vs. the Packers in Philly just sound like a playoff match made in heaven? I don't know why, but when you close your eyes and picture what post-season football is all about, this game just feels right. And I think it could be an instant classic if it actually happens the way I predict it will. This game is in Philly though and the Philly fans have been craving a dominant team for quite some time. Watch for the Cheesesteaks to pull out a win in the Wild Card round along with the Cowboys who will dismantle an over-matched Falcons team. In the divisional round, the Cowboys will travel to Detroit for another potential showdown of high powered offenses. This time I think Tony Romo finally shakes off the post-season blues and advances to the NFC Championship game where the Eagles will be waiting for him after taking down the Cardinals in the Big Toaster. I love the Cardinals, but I wouldn't bet against Chip Kelly here. That gives us an all-NFC East conference title game and I'm taking the home team on the second biggest Sunday of the season ... and that's the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are either going to be dynamite this season or fall unbelievably flat on their faces, and I think their performance in Atlanta last week could be the only signs of mediocrity we see from this team all year. If Sam Bradford stays healthy, this team is going to take the NFC by storm.

Super Bowl 50

Original Prediction - Indianapolis Colts over the Philadelphia Eagles
Revised Prediction - Indianapolis Colts over the Philadelphia Eagles

I say it every year ... once you get to the Super Bowl talent will win out over coaching. I don't expect this year to be any different in my philosophy and I believe that the Colts are top to bottom the most talented team in the NFL. Even though I love me some Chip Kelly, the Eagles are going to win this year on scheme more than raw talent and I just think it's time for Andrew Luck to take over as the face of the National Football League. This game shouldn't be lopsided by any means but I would give Indy the edge in what would be a very fast paced, high scoring game. Wouldn't it be fitting if Miley was the performer of the halftime show? I agree ... nope.

So, there you have it! Another season (minus one week) of football to be played and countless fantasy football points to be won. We'll see how everything plays out but I know that I'm excited to see what happens! In the NFL, not with Miley ...

- Fishy

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

College Football - 2015 Season Preview

Good Afternoon Sports Fans!

Can you feel it? Well, can you? We are LESS THAN 24 HOURS AWAY from the start of the 2015 College Football season! Tomorrow night the first two teams will lace up their cleats, strap on their helmets, and take the field to show that they are the most dominant squad in all of the NCAA. And this year, it just so happens that my North Carolina Tar Heels are one of those two teams leading the country into our favorite 4 months of the year.

Still not excited?! Here, try this:

No really, watch that video. Stop reading, click the link above, and GET HYPE!

Ok, you good now? The blood is flowing? The juice is running through your veins? No, not in the Alex Rodriguez juice kinda way, in the "Heck yeah, 24 hours until kickoff" kinda way!

Alright, now that we're all pumped up, let's get in to this season. Usually I would sit down and spend two hours telling you what you need to know about every major conference, big time program, and who is going to make the College Football Playoffs. Unfortunately, I can't do that this year. And there's two main reasons for it:

1. Somehow, I feel like I don't really know that much about any given team going into the 2015 season. Perhaps I've been spending too much time focusing on my 4 NFL fantasy football drafts or maybe there's just not been a lot of talk on ESPN speculating who will be the best team in the country.

2. I do know enough to know that there is a LOT of balance in College Football last year. When we started last season there were a number of big name players in big name programs expected to have big time season. We don't have that this year ... in fact I would be hard pressed to name 10 total football players in the entire country outside of UNC.

What does this all mean? It means that this year could prove to be one of the most exciting in the history of college football. There is one clear favorite to win it all (we'll talk about that in a moment) but outside of that anything can happen. There are no locks for the playoffs, there are no clear conference winners that are just better than everyone else they're playing, and sadly there's no indication that Tim Tebow is returning to the Florida Gators for his fifth season. So, instead of the usual speculation on what will happen in each conference, I'm just going to hit some high points on what to look out for this season. And maybe at the end of this post, if you ask nicely, I'll toss out a prediction and see if I get lucky. Oh, who are we kidding, it's been a very long time since I got lucky ... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway ...

- This year, Urban Meyer is going to REALLY earn his paycheck. The Ohio State Buckeyes are the first ever undisputed pre-season #1 in the AP poll and the clear front runners to win it all and repeat as National Champions. In fact, most analysts believe the Buckeyes only have 2 games on their entire regular season schedule that could even possibly be a challenge. So, why would I say Urban Meyer is going to earn his paycheck? You'd think that any slick-haired coach off the street could win the title with this team. Here's the issue ... there IS such a problem as having too much of a good thing. And Ohio State's good thing comes at the most critical position in the game, Quarterback. Usually a team would love to have just one solid QB they can rely on, but OSU has 3 ... count them THREE ... of them. Last year the Bucks started the season with Braxton Miller under center and many predicted he would be the Heisman Trophy winner. However, an unfortunate early season injury knocked Miller out for the year and this season he decided to come back as a back/receiver. That's right, a Heisman Trophy favorite quarterback is now moving to a new position because there's so much talent on the team. So, after Miller gets knocked out, JT Barrett takes over the team. All he does is lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship Game while also becoming a Heisman favorite and almost winning the trophy. BUT, then he gets hurt right before the Big 10 title clash and they go to third stringer Cardale Jones. How did Jones do? He won them the National Championship and projected as a first round draft pick if he left school! All in 3 games! So now, you have three big time QB's returning to Columbus and all of them want to be future NFL stars. So, Urban Meyer, how do you keep everyone happy? THIS is his conundrum. Nobody will doubt that OSU is more talented than almost any team they'll play this season, but can they keep the peace in the locker room and stay focused on the prize? If OSU can repeat this season as Champs, I will consider this to be Urban Meyer's greatest coaching achievement and put him in the discussion for greatest college coach of all time. But, will they even pass Week 1 ...

- Take a look at the Week 1 lineup. Usually the first couple of games during the season are "garbage" games where big programs play cupcakes (slang for easy teams to beat, not a delicious icing-covered dessert) just to get in the groove of things. But, with the playoffs here and the BCS finally good and dead, all of a sudden the quality of non-conference opponent actually matters for something. And I think this weekend it could count for a whole heck of a lot. I'm looking at the top 15 teams in the pre-season rankings and I think there are 5 very intriguing games to watch this Labor Day Weekend ...

Louisville @ #6 Auburn

#15 Arizona State @ Texas A&M (led by Kyle Allen, product of Scottsdale, AZ high school, and my alma mater, Desert Mountain ... Go Wolves!)

Texas @ #11 Notre Dame

#20 Wisconsin @ #3 Alabama (Played in Jerry's House ... Arlington, TX)

#1 Ohio State @ Virginia Tech

Keep an eye on these ball games. My prediction is that AT LEAST 2 of these top 15 teams are going down this weekend before the season even really gets rolling. And, if I'm a betting man, I like Texas A&M, Texas, and Wisconsin to all win. Suck on that Bama. Don't forget, Virginia Tech beat Ohio State early last year and Ohio State has four Wide Receivers out this week with injuries or suspension, not to mention their top defensive player who might be the eventual #1 pick in the NFL Draft ...

- I am predicting that for the first time in forever, a non-major school will contend for the National Championship. And by that I mean either a non-power conference school or TCU will make the 4 team playoff at the end of the year. Technically TCU is now part of the Big 12 and considered a power conference school, but for my money they are still lil ole Texas Christian whom nobody respects. Maybe the chip on their shoulder from getting left out of the playoffs last year will finally work in their favor. But watch out for another team off the radar right now ... I have no clue which one but watch out anyway! Last year all 4 playoff teams started the season in the Top 5 of the pre-season AP poll. This year I think the trend changes. I'm banking on at least 2 teams coming from OUTSIDE of the current AP Top 10. Suck on that Bama.

- My Tar Heels will keep the bell in Chapel Hill where it belongs when we beat Dook later this season. No further explanation needed. Suck on that Bama. Yeah, just because.

- Call me biased ("Hey Fishy, you're biased) but I think this year could mark the return to the national scene for the Miami Hurricanes. Miami has not truly been in the championship hunt since they were screwed over ... err, lost ... the 2002 title game to Ohio State, but I think Al Golden may finally be figuring this team out. He has an excellent young QB in Brad Kaaya and seems to be doing a much better job of recruiting top talent away from the Gators and Noles in recent years. Miami may not be ranked right now, but don't be surprised if they finish the year somewhere between 10 and 15 in the AP poll including a trip to the "Big 6 Bowl Games" as the ACC Champions.

- If Steve Sarkisian can stay sober and keep his football team focused, USC is back. Watch out.

Alright, so those are my big picture thoughts on what to expect for this upcoming college football season. Obviously, a lot can and will happen between now and the second week of January. I'm guessing we're going to see a ton of upsets this year, some remarkable stories we wouldn't have expected, and another season full of memories, moments, and highlights. To conclude, I might as well make a guess at who our playoff teams and National Champion will be. I'm not confident in this at all, but here goes nothing:


#1 Ohio State Buckeyes (yes, I believe in Urban Meyer) vs. #4 Boise State Broncos (because, why not?)

#2 USC Trojans vs. #3 Oklahoma Sooners (I pick them every year, why stop now?)

National Championship

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #2 USC Trojans

Winner: USC Trojans

There's only one thing I know for sure ... football season starts tomorrow and I can't wait. Let the games begin!!!

- Fishy

Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 ESPY Awards - Arthur Ashe's Memory Deserves Better

Good Afternoon Loyal Follower! (Yes, I intentionally made that singular)

Before beginning my post, I feel as though this is only appropriate:

DISCLAIMER - The below post might be offensive if:

1. Pieces are taken out of context.
2. Not read in it's entirety.
3. Is misunderstood or the intention questioned.
4. You don't like pizza.

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, the intent behind it was to provide myself a forum to discuss my thoughts on anything sports related, and possibly engage some conversation along the way. Through my blogging journey, I have learned to take a bit of a humorous/satirical approach to my writing because it's a lot of fun and my brother seems to enjoy it. However, what I have to say below is going to lean a bit more to the original intent of my blog. I'm going to minimize the jokes (though I might toss one or two in) and really focus on how I'm feeling about the topic. As I emphasized above, if you're going to read this post, please read it to the very end so you have a full understanding of where I'm coming from.

Without further delay ...

Last night was the 2015 ESPY Awards ... the night where ESPN holds an awards show to recognize everything sports related from the last year. Think Oscars but fewer performances and more buff people who can run really fast. Unfortunately I was not home to watch it live, so I've been watching my DVR recording this afternoon to see what I missed. I'm only about two hours into the show and already I've spent at least 45 minutes with tears in my eyes. No, that's not a joke, it's legit. For those who have never seen the show, the human interest stories about athletes and their lives are as much the focus as accomplishments on the field of play. And that's what I'm here today to discuss ... the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Each year for the last 22 years, ESPN has selected one individual who has somehow demonstrated unbelievable courage in their lives with some type of tie-in to sports. Past winners have included active athletes (last year Michael Sam won the award for his bravery in coming out as gay while actively competing for an NFL roster sport), sports personalities (in 2013, sports reporter Robin Roberts received the award for her very public battle with cancer), and public figures (in 2009 the award went to Nelson Mandela who used soccer as a way to bring peace and understanding to his home country of South Africa). The award has been given to some of the most notable and inspiring faces of the sports world over the last 22 years including Pat Summit, Billie Jean King, Dean Smith, Jim Valvano, and Muhammed Ali. Last night the annual award was presented to Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner. And I, for one, couldn't have been more disappointed in this choice of recipient. That's why I'm writing this post.

Let me be very clear in my stance here ... I don't trust Caitlyn Jenner. My disapproval in who won this award has nothing to do with my feelings about the transgender community, the meaning behind why this award was given to Caitlyn, or my hopes for tolerance and understanding in the Unites State and greater community. My feelings are based on the premise that Bruce/Caitlyn is an attention whore (please excuse my language) who puts his/her own stardom before anything else.

Back in the 70's, Bruce Jenner became a sporting icon in the Unites States when he won Olympic gold in the decathlon in Montreal. As the winner of this event, he became the official Greatest Athlete in the World and a face for the American people. He was known around the country as a hero and a representative of our athletic achievements in the world of sports. And then, he disappeared from the world of sports. That's not to say that he wasn't present in media, but truthfully it had very little to do with noble causes or athletic achievements. Jenner may have competed before I was born, but then again so did Ali, Mays, and Jabbar. The difference is those three individuals stayed close to their sport AND found ways to make the world a better place. I never even heard of Bruce Jenner until much later in life. That's my first reason for believing Caitlyn did not deserve this award ... she has had nothing to do with sports in the last 40 years and her contributions to the sporting community have been negligible.

My second, and more pressing reason, for being against this honor comes down to 5 words ... Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Over the last 10 years, Bruce Jenner has been a part of (and in many ways encouraged) the upbringing of one of the most dangerous families in American culture. This show, and the success that the daughters have had from it, highlight some of the most disturbing issues that we're experiencing in our society. In a time where women are doing AMAZING things across the globe (heck, we're a year away from potentially electing our first female President) the Kardashian sisters have become famous for nothing more than their appearances, clothes, and outlandish lifestyle. They have placed vanity above character and Bruce helped to support the mockery that these ladies have become. Ladies who are "role models" for millions of young girls around the country. And that's where the problem comes from ... all of a sudden, Bruce is no longer the most famous person in his family. His slut-tastic daughters have become media icons and the former Olympic champion was just becoming a footnote. So what did he do? He brought the spotlight back to himself. Over the last six months, she has once again become the shining star of the family, shining brighter than her ridiculous children. It's all about Caitlyn.

Please understand, I'm not going to sit here and claim that Bruce didn't believe he was a woman all along and only changed genders to be famous. While I am skeptical of Jenner's intentions, I will not deny that this could very well have been a lifelong battle that finally culminated in her becoming herself. However, don't you find the timing of all this a bit ... curious? Why did Bruce wait until his late 60's, when his family was incredibly famous beyond his wildest imagination, before making this decision or telling ANYONE how he felt? Why couldn't this have been done in his 30's? 40's? 50's? According to the story told during the ESPY's telecast, Caitlyn didn't want to bring any pain to her family and thus decided to wait before changing her life. She isolated herself over the last couple of years while transforming into the person we see today. I'm sorry Bruce, I'm sorry Caitlyn, I'm sorry Jenner ... I just don't buy it. Your entire life has been about fame and fortune, and I don't trust you. From the bottom of my heart, I hope I'm wrong. But since I feel the way I do, I truly wish this award had been given to someone that epitomizes courage in every facet of their life. I can think of several individuals that were recognized in just the first 2 hours of the show who would have been more deserving of this most prestigious honor: Lauren Hill, Stuart Scott, or even the person who presented the award, Abby Wambach.

Here is why it's important that you read this entire post ... it is very important that you know that I am completely in support of any individual who identifies with a gender different than what they were born with. I believe each person is born as a special and unique human being and we are not always dealt the hand we believe we deserve. If you feel you were meant to be someone different than who you are, then by all means, explore that side of you and live life as who you want to be. It doesn't matter to me if you are white, black, straight, gay, male, female, or transgender. What counts to me is who you are as a person, what you bring to the world and those around you, and how you treat other people. You be you and I'll be me.

If there is anything positive that comes out of Caitlyn Jenner receiving this award, it's the hope that there are individuals out there who will truly benefit from the spirit of the message behind the award. Abuse and mistreatment of the transgender community is a legitimate issue and if even one teenager keeps the will to live because they are inspired by Caitlyn, it will have been worth it. While I may question the individual and the motives behind the recipient, there is potentially something much bigger happening here, and that is a beautiful thing. For that reason, and that reason alone, I applaud the choice of Caitlyn Jenner as the Arthur Ashe award winner. I hope she fully understands the responsibility that has been placed on her shoulders with this honor and will use the power to make a positive change in this world, not just another reality show. Now's your chance Caitlyn ... prove me wrong.

- Fishy