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Thought of the Week – Michael Sam

A lot of controversy has risen over the past week with Michael Sam coming out as an openly Gay athlete.

I usually do not try to get into politics, but I will shed some light on the story with my opinion.

It is the 21st century and times are changing. Whether you like it or not, our society is consistently going in a liberal direction. Homosexuals have existed throughout the history of people, and are showing their colors more in recent times.

So why such a big deal?

American culture has driven people to abide by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mentality. This mind set is becoming an outdated one. Gay people have been in sports for as long as sports have been around. They just have not been open about it. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate may have been fine for those straight people who are uncomfortable with the thought of gay actions, but what about for the Gay Athletes? You have to think that inside these people, they are torn up. They are battling with this reality that they are a homosexual athlete and they cannot tell the world who they really are due to fear of being judged.

Our society dictates this fear of being judged.

When it really comes down to it, if the guy can play, does it matter if he likes women or men? If he is a team player who can contribute to a win, does it matter what his sexual orientation is? So why is this such a big deal, why are people getting so worked up?

Let’s think about this for a second. The only reason this would be an issue in a locker room is because another player feels uncomfortable being around a gay player. Taking it even deeper, why would this player feel uncomfortable? Not that I have ever been in a Pro-Locker room, but from what I have heard athletes shower together and walk around the locker room naked on a consistent basis. So is that what the homophobic athletes are worried about? They do not want a gay guy to look at their goods?

Stop being so high on yourself, bro.

You think you are such a hot stud, that this gay guy is going to see your junk and immediately try to bend you over and rape you in the shower.

Seriously, though. When it comes down to it, that is the only reason someone could be uncomfortable about having a gay player in the locker room. Players need to be more comfortable with their sexuality and get passed the fact that their is a homosexual athlete among them. And the reality is, there have been plenty of gay athletes in locker rooms throughout time and nothing like this has ever taken place. The fact that another athlete would think anything like this would happen in a locker room is just plain stupid. Additionally, couldn’t you say the fact that you walk around naked around other guys makes you gay? Obviously it does not, when you know yourself that you are straight. It is all about adjusting your mentality to a modern, 21st century approach.

The truth though is that this will bring attention to whatever locker room Michael Sam enters in the 2014 season. The media will surround the team and it may be a distraction. In that regard, I understand why you may not want an openly Gay Athlete on your team. But every player fits every team differently. Some teams like controversial players, and other teams like players with no baggage. Look at San Diego Chargers and them drafting Manti T’eo. A handful of team passed on the outstanding college player because of his fake-girlfriend controversy. T’eo had a tremendous amount of media attention throughout the draft and entering the 2013 season. The Chargers handled the situation excellent by keeping T’eo away from reporters and protecting him to enable his growth as a pro player.

Now let’s look at this specific case, in Michael Sam. The guy is a great player. I hear NFL scouts on TV saying this guy is nothing more than a middle round pick. I have seen other mock drafts where he is projected to be drafted in the 2nd round. Michael Sam was a unanimous 1st Team All American and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Some scouts say “I do not pay any attention to Conference Player of the Year Awards.” This may have some validity in weaker conferences, but the SEC is known as the best Conference in College Football. Furthermore, the SEC is widely regarded as the best defensive conference in the nation. SEC has historically produced plenty of defensive pro’s.

Lets look at the last 7 SEC Defensive Player of the Years:

2012 – Jarvis Jones

2011 – Morris Claiborne

2010 – Patrick Peterson

2009 – Rolando McClain

2008 – Eric Berry

2007 – Glen Dorsey

2006 – Patrick Willis…

***EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE PLAYERS WAS DRAFTED IN THE 1ST ROUND; None of these players were drafted past the 11th pick***

The bottom line is, Michael Sam is a good player who has proven himself in the College Rankings. With the combine and pro days coming up, his draft stock may rise or fall. With that said, he is still talented enough, and should be drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The thing Americans and sports fans have to realize is that this whole situation is inevitable. There are gay athletes everywhere, and eventually someone was going to come out. This is the first of many. There will be a growing period and players will have to get used to this new dynamic.

The key will be is how this effects the locker room, how this effects team collaboration and bonding. The truth is, it will only go as far as the straight athletes allow it to. It is solely on the straight athletes to take this gay player under their wing and treat him like they would any other teammate. They need to band together as brothers and fight in the trenches. They will need to joke around and make fun of each other just like guys do. Michael Sam will need to be open to joking about his sexual orientation. Often times, good friends tease each other about anything just to make it into a bonding experiment. Sam should embrace this in order to make the uncomfortable straight players feel a little more at ease as these actions promote a friendly atmosphere. Example: Michael Sam gets a clutch sack in an NFL game and his teammate says “I love you, you big gay mother fucker!!” and Sam says back: “I love you to, you dumb piece of shit!” It will take both sides to help make this situation fizzle away into the normality of our society.

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Super Bowl XLVIII Analysis and Synopsis – Who Has the Edge?

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This Super Bowl may be one of the most evenly matched, and highly anticipated in the past couple of years.

It will truly be the best offense in the NFL (perhaps ever) in the Denver Broncos going on to face the best defense in the NFL in the Seattle Seahawks. There has not been a Super Bowl in quite a while where I could not firmly pick a team or even sway to their side. These teams are both definitely the best two teams in the NFL, and I do not think I could have said that for a long time in a Super Bowl Matchup.

Super Bowl XLVIII is actually the first time the #1 Scoring Offense will face the #1 Scoring Defense.

Here is my breakdown in which I will give the edge to either team based off of different aspects of the game.

Quarterback:

Statistically, Peyton Manning has had the best season for any NFL Quarterback. Some of these stats could be attributed to the fact that the NFL is getting much ‘softer’ and Quarterbacks get away with a lot more as far as protection and penalties.

Still, Manning is a legend. Whether the Broncos win or lose this game, everyone still knows how great Manning is as a quarterback and it is hard to go against him.

Russell Wilson is a great young Quarterback as well. It is very impressive to remember that Wilson is only in his 2nd year in the NFL. In Russell’s first season, he led the Seattle Seahawks to an 11-5 regular season record and went 1-1 for the playoffs. This season the Russell has led the Seahawks to a 13-3 record and are currently 2-0 in the playoffs. His total record in his first 2 years of his career, including playoffs, is 27-9. This record is second best to only Ben Roethlisberger and will be tied if the Seahawks go on to win the Super Bowl.

Like Big Ben, Russell Wilson is in a Super Bowl in only his sophomore season. Also like Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson has an outstanding team around him. Furthermore, both of these teams (2005 Steelers, 2013 Seahawks) had top-5 Defenses.

Update:  Just to extend on this Steelers 2005 Defense comparison. I am not comparing the two defenses in anyway saying one is better than the other. Actually, The 2013 is definitely better than the 2005 Steelers defense. The point I am trying to make is that the success of Ben Roethlisberger in 2005 was aided primarily to his stellar defense. The Steelers had the #4 defense in the league in 2005, and a lot of those players were in their prime. Ben Roethlisberger is a great QB, don’t get me wrong, but it is hard to believe he would be a 2005 Super Bowl winner if it was not for the defense he had. Just like Russell Wilson this year. He is a great QB and has a very bright future ahead of him, but the Seattle Seahawks would not be in the Super Bowl without their stellar defense. The point of this article is to give an edge to one team, and this is my argument for why I give the Broncos the edge. In short, the Seahawks would not be in the Super Bowl (most likely) if it was not for their Defense, whereas the Broncos for sure would not be in the Super Bowl if it was not for Peyton Manning (therefore, I give the edge to the Broncos).

I still feel Russell Wilson is growing into himself. He really does not have all the playmakers around him on offense for his production to be over the top and Peyton is having a phenomenal season.

EDGE: Broncos

Running Backs:

Knowshon Moreno has had a pretty good season, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. He is a solid running back, but not a feature back. Moreno really only gets his chunks of yards and touchdowns based on the game plan the Broncos have. He also shares time with Monte Ball.

Marshawn Lynch,  a.k.a. “Beast Mode,” is an elite runner in NFL. His aggressive play is admired and appreciated by team mates. He is a top 5 rusher in the league and also managed double digit touchdowns for the third straight year. Although he dealt with injuries early in his career, he has finally reached his potential with the Seahawks. Lynch will be play a huge factor in Super Bowl XLVIII.

EDGE: Seattle

Wide Receiver:

The Broncos feature some of the best Wide Receivers in the entire National Football League. All three of their starting receivers have double digit TDs in Decker, Welker, and Demaryius Thomas.

We all know about Welker. He is arguably the best possession receiver in the entire league. He is unstoppable at times and is a nightmare matchup problem out of the slot. Welker is a guy that is going to get a lot of receptions, a lot of first down looks, and a lot of easy touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas is a prototypical #1 wide receiver. He is a massive guy who plays extremely physical. He put up over 1,400 yards this season and scored 14 TDs. Eric Decker is a guy that just seems to always get open, especially with the holes in coverage left by Demaryius, Julius, and Welker. Denver also has speedy receiver Andre Caldwell who has made some plays down the stretch of the season.

The Seahawks have a handful of play makers at the Wide Receiver position, but really just do not have a premiere guy. Golden Tate has proven himself as reliable, but is really nothing more than a 2 receiver. Doug Baldwin has taken over the slot role, with Percy Harvin out a majority of the year, and has been impressive. His regular season stat line is 50 receptions for 778 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is a big play guy, but still is not going to produce game in and game out. Looking at his game log from 2013, there are plenty of games where he went quiet. He had SEVEN games where he had 2 or less receptions (5 games with only 1 reception, 1 game with 0, and 1 game with 2).  Baldwin also never, not one time, had a 100-yard receiving game. I can see him making plays in this Super Bowl, just because he has seemed to be clutch at times, but still he is not a receiver who will take over a game.

After speaking with many Seahawks fans, I must add Jermaine Kearse here. He seems to have made some clutch plays throughout the season but still only finished the year with 22 receptions for 346 yards and 4 TDs. I might add that he never had more than 3 receptions in any game this season and had 8 games where he had 1 or 0 receptions. His season high in yards was only 75.

Sidney Rice is an outstanding receiver but has been injured the majority of the season and was placed on IR earlier this season. The X-factor here in the receiver position is Percy Harvin. He is an outstanding receiver coming out of the slot and can stretch the field. He makes the yards after catch plays and is truly a dynamic receiver. Again though, he is not really a true #1 guy. Furthermore, he may not even be entire healthy.

Obviously, a lot of this receiver productivity is built into an offensive philosophy. The Seahawks are a run-heavy offense, whereas the Broncos are a pass-heavy offense. Still, you cannot deny the numbers and the production that the Broncos receiving corp have put up in 2013.

EDGE: Broncos

Tightends:

This one is easy for me. The Seahawks have a solid Tight End in Zach Miller, but definitely not a dynamic one. He has put up decent numbers over his career with one Pro-Bowl season (2010 Antonio Gates did not go because of injury). He is reliable at times, but really only good for a couple plays a game in this offense.

The Broncos on the other hand have Pro-Bowler Julius Thomas who is outstanding. He had 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He has more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than the Seahawks two TE’s combined.

*Quick San Diego Perspective: Gates had 77 receptions for 872 yards this season, both better than Julius Thomas. Sure he only had 4 touchdowns compared to Thomas’ 12, but Gates is getting double teamed all game long all year long, especially in the redzone. It’s kind of pathetic to think people say Gates ‘slowed down’ this year and is getting no respect.

Anyways, Julius Thomas is by far a stud.

Edge: Broncos

Defense:

Last year the Broncos seemed to be much more balanced. Their defense was ranked #2 in the league, as they dominated. This year they really have not played close to the level they did in 2012. With the loss of some players, and injuries of others, it has really hurt the    Denver’s Defense in 2013. It seemed as if they were playing catchup all season in terms of a unit and getting back to 2012 form. The Von Miller injury will be another setback for a defense that has made strides in the end of the year. The Broncos also have a much weaker secondary than the Seattle Seahawks, who arguably have the best defensive backfield in the entire NFL.

The Seahawks are stout on defense all around. Their Secondary is scary. Cliff Avril is having a great season and Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennet have been helpful off the edge. They play team defense and work off one another. No player ever seems to be lost.

Seattle also has a tremendous shut down secondary. They can play off press, man, zone, can blitz, and are stout tacklers. They have a lot of guys in that front seven who are versatile in pass and rush coverage. They are virtually good all around the defense and have solid glue guys and depth.

Edge: Seahawks

Matchup to Watch: Denver Broncos entire Receiving Corp vs. Seattle Seahawks Defensive Backs. 

This is going to be a fun matchup to watch. The “Legion of Boom” is by far the best group of Defensive Backs in the entire league. Richards Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor are having outstanding seasons. It is crazy to think they lost a few other DB’s from suspensions. They have also received positive contributions from nickelback Jeremy Lane.

As we talked about before, the Broncos receiving corp is phenomenal. Demaryius Thomas is an absolute beast. Wes Welker is near unstoppable in the short passing game and redzone. Eric Decker is an underrated receiver himself. He puts up big numbers and has had back-to-back double digit touchdown seasons. If we throw in Julius Thomas, its crazy to think about.

Still, Seattle has lock down cornerbacks. Earl Thomas will take Julius Thomas out of the game. From their it is going to be how Richard Sherman plays Demaryius Thomas. The Seattle defense will have to scheme appropriately to double team either DT or Wes Welker. I would assume they will double cover Wes Welker with a guy underneath and either a safety or nickel back. If they can lock down Welker easier than expected, than they can give Sherman some help over the top with Demaryius Thomas.

Either way this is going to be an extremely exciting matchup to watch. Honestly, this is one of the first Super Bowls I have been excited about in a while.

EDGE: Seahawks – slight edge, this group of Defensive Backs may be the best ever.

Final Prediction:

This is extremely hard for me to pick. According to http://www.bovada.lv, an online betting site, the Broncos are currently favored by 3.

The spread is somewhat easy to believe. Broncos have an elite, outstanding offense, with an above-average (at times leaky) defense  that has the potential to be a top 5 defense.

The Seahawks have an elite, outstanding defense, with an above average (at times leaky) offense. Do not buy the Seahawks being a top 5 offense, however. They have a great running game in Marshawn Lynch, who may very well be the x-factor. Lynch is their only true consistent playmaker. We saw a few weeks back when San Diego ran the ball down the throats of the Broncos and beat them on TNF. If the Seahawks can continue to run the ball effectively and keep Manning off the field, that will be the best chance for them to win.

It is really interesting to see how John Fox and the Denver Broncos’ game plan will play out. Maybe they will try to run the ball and come back in the passing game when Manning sees suit.

I am also really interested to see what kind of impact Percy Harvin has on this game. The Seahawks like getting big chunk plays and Russell Wilson seems to come in clutch for scores.

On paper it looks like the Broncos have the better team. But then again, the Seahawks have a pretty darn good team too. A few years/decades back people used to say Defense wins championships. It might not be like that anymore with Peyton Manning and his phenomenal season.

As a Chargers fan, my heart wants me to pick against the Broncos. That may be just too hard to do. I give the Broncos the edge but it will be a lower scoring game than usual for the Manning led offense.

Broncos 24 Seahawks 20

Thought of the Week – Richard Sherman

This is the late edition of Thought of the Week. We will have another on Tuesday.

There has been much talk on the airwaves amongst the media regarding Richard Sherman’s post game interview with Erin Andrews. Some have lashed out at Sherman’s attitude, while others have appreciated his passion for the game. This whole incident has even gone on to get racial attention as people have reportedly labeled Sherman as a “thug.”

Sherman himself said in a news conference he felt “thug” has become an extension of the n-word. 

My opinion is, why does it even have to get to that point. The best way to change everyone’s opinion about Richard Sherman’s attitude is to understand his mind state. Now, I have never played organized football, but am pretty dang competitive and have a passion to win. I can only imagine what Richard Sherman was feeling while playing in the NFC Championship game to go to the Superbowl.

On the field Richard Sherman talks. He talks a lot. It is a way to get him rev’d up to play the game. There is a mental approach that every player has, and this is the route Sherman takes. When Sherman made the play in the end zone his adrenaline must have been through the roof. Biggest play of the entire game to seal the victory and Superbowl berth. His blood was flowing so quickly and he was so hyped up after making the play.

From the time the game was over until Erin Andrews interviewed Richard Sherman only a couple minutes had gone by. Sherman was still in an in-game mode. It was almost as if we were on the field with him and he was talking trash straight to Michael Crabtree.

This does not necessarily excuse his actions. This is still the workplace and everyone is going to judge you whether you are a famous athlete or a fast food worker. You cannot blow up in the workplace. It is apart growing up and maturing. Think about yourself in the work place. How many times have you wanted to blow up because of how angry you were. But you didn’t. You held back because you knew it was the responsible thing to do. And some of you may know how it feels to follow through and blow up in someones face in the workplace. Probably didn’t work out so well.

With the ‘thug’ thing, I think it is warranted. Some people are embracing the labeling of Sherman as a thug. The fact is he was talking trash on national television with fighting words attacking a player. Showing no class and no respect. In my opinion, that can be labelled as ‘thug’ actions. Do I think Richard Sherman is a thug? No. I think he is a very passionate professional football player who is still young and maturing as an athlete, worker, and man.

Thought of the Week – Chargers

Tom Telesco did an excellent job in the 2013 draft.

Many analyst were saying immediately after the draft that, in their opinion, the San Diego Chargers had the best draft. Many people would probably still agree. DJ Fluker had an excellent season winning All-Rookie honors playing better than every OT that was selected before him. We all know how good of a season Keenan Allen had, so far already winning PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Manti T’eo was injured early on in the season, but got a lot of playing time throughout the year. He consistently got better and seems as if his ceiling is still pretty high.

Let’s think about Manti T’eo. He is a solid young player and there is a lot to like about him moving forward. We drafted him in the 2nd round. Seemed like a steal at the time. Even though he has grown, he has also got pushed around consistently and still does not demonstrate being NFL-ready.

Back in April, Tom Telesco had the 45th pick in the draft, the 13th of the second round. Telesco made a trade with the Cardinals to trade up to the 38th pick, which was the 6th of the second round. San Diego gave up a 4th round pick, which could have been used for any such depth on defense or offense.

Kiko Alonso was named the PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year this week. He was third in the entire NFL in tackles with 159. That is tremendous production for a rookie linebacker. Kiko Alonso plays the same position Manti T’eo does.

When was Kiko Alonso drafted? 46th, 1 pick after the Chargers initial pick of 45th overall.

It is always easier to look in the past and say what you would have done. Manti T’eo really did get pushed around by Alabama in that National Championship game, similar to the way he gets pushed around by Guards in the NFL. Kiko Alonso was dominates at the same position. T’eo was out for an injury most of the preseason and the first quarter of the season which had to have halted his progress.

One can only imagine if the Chargers weren’t so high on the Manti T’eo “hype”, and waited for Kiko Alonso. Would have been acceptable to take Alonso at the 38 spot they traded up to. General Managers are always going to make mistakes at times, and one can easily argue this was a mistake by Tom Telesco. Kiko Alonso is a top franchise defender you can build a defense around.

Tom Telesco had a great draft overall and there is a great deal to look forward to in the Chargers world. Manti T’eo has a lot of promise and should only get better with experience. Hopefully he can duplicate and continue his drafting success in 2014.

Keenan Allen Wins PFWA Offensive Rookie of the Year

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Keenan Allen was officially named the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Allen emerged throughout the year in a Philip Rivers led San Diego offense. He had a tremendous season, and could have easily been considered the overall Rookie of the Year, who went to Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy. Kiko Alonso won the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Alonso was third in the entire league in tackles (159) and was also able to haul in 4 interceptions as an Inside Linebacker. That is pretty incredible considering he is a rookie.

Eddie Lacy played well in 15 games rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns which led all rookies. He also added 35 receptions for 257 yards. Lacy was plugged in as the go-to guy midway through the season after Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury. The Packers leaned heavily on the rushing game during the 7 game stretch. 

Keenan Allen had a fantastic season as well. He led all rookies in receptions (71), receiving yards (1046), and receiving touchdowns (8). He also had five 100-yard games. After the Chargers lost their 1 and 2 Wide Receivers in Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd, it created an opening for Allen. He really did not get going until Week 5 in Oakland. From there on out he was pretty consistent.

The Charger Opinion:

Generally, it is harder for a receiver to put up as many yards and touchdowns as a running back. Many teams have one go-to running back who accumulates all the yards, while receivers are one among many. Over half of Lacy’s touchdowns were from 5 yards out or less, with more than a few 1-yd TD runs. 

It took about 5 weeks, but Keenan Allen connected with Philip Rivers and became his go-to guy. He was able to consistently get open on crossing routes and corners. Allen was getting matched up against the opponent’s best CB at times, and even getting double teamed. San Diego has a Top-5 Offense with a lot of playmakers. Quarterbacks have to throw it around to more than just one guy. They hand it off to just one. That is the argument.

 

Frank Reich Promoted to Chargers Offensive Coordinator

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WIthin 48 hours after the San Diego Chargers season ended, the front office is already making moves.

WIth Ken Whisenhunt signing on with the Tennessee Titans to be their next head coach, the Chargers had an open vacancy at Offensive Coordinator.

Frank Reich has done an excellent job in his first year here in San Diego. He came over from Arizona with Ken Whisenhunt where he was the Wide Receivers coach. Frank played a big role this season in resurrecting Philip Rivers’ career back to elite status. As the Quarterback’s Coach, some may argue that Frank actually had more to do with Rivers’ excellent season than Ken Whisenhunt.

The only concern about Reich is that he has never actually been an Offensive Coordinator. Even though he played in the league for 14 years, and has been an Assistant Coach and a position coach, he never made it to a Coordinator position.

The only minor concern that may arrive is that Frank Reich has never called plays as an Offensive Coordinator.

Mike McCoy can take this team whatever direction he wants. He may have Frank Reich put together the offensive game plans but not actually call the plays. In this scenario, it would mean that Mike McCoy would go back to calling plays like he did as a Coordinator.

Chargers fans saw with Norv Turner how ‘having too much on one plate can spoil dinner,’ so to speak. Norv Turner called the plays while in San Diego as the Head Coach. The problem was he made a handful of mental and boneheaded mistakes a Head Coach should never make (i.e. clock management, etc). It may be better if Mike McCoy works with Frank all offseason and gets him up to par on calling plays so it is one less burden McCoy has to worry about.

Chargers fans should be excited about Reich’s promotion. His promotion means consistency for Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense. The Chargers had a great year offensively in 2013 and they can only build off of that. San Diego may look to go back to a deep passing game with Reich as coordinator. Philip Rivers should get at least one of his deep threat WRs back this year in Malcom Floyd or Danario Alexander. After a year of learning to be responsible with the ball and not throw as many interceptions or fumble nearly as often, Rivers may be primed to let it all loose in 2014.

John Pagano to Resign With Bolts

Even though the San Diego Chargers did not have particularly a good season on defense, John Pagano has done an excellent job. The San Diego defense is primarily young players. This defense in places is not so talent either.

Pagano has done a great job late in the season changing schemes and disguising blitzes. With a little more personnel that will fit his 3-4 scheme, this defense can be good in years to come.

According to ESPNs Adam Schefter, had drawn attraction from the Tennessee Titans where Ken Whisenhunt had just departed too. John Pagano’s contract was over this year and he proved enough to Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco that he deserved an extension. Terms not yet known.