Thursday, March 26, 2009

To Protect and Serve? Or to Get on my Nerves?

Law enforcement in this country get a bad rap. Everybody knows it. Now do they always deserve it? Definitely not, but with the culture in current times, the police just seem to be the cool ones to go after. I've never been arrested or anything like that so I don't have the biggest issue with the police. My view on the issue to a sharp detour when I looked on the news and saw Houston Texans' running back Ryan Moats was pulled over for running a red light and was not allowed to see his mother-in-law as she died.

I'm not saying that the police officer should not do his job. What I am saying is he should have showed some compassion in dealing with the issue. Moats is not a superstar, but he is still an NFL player on an NFL salary. I'm sure a $200 ticket would not have shaken his wallet like it would a normal person's wallet. The officer was intentionally making things difficult for Moats and pulled out a gun on him and his wife. His wife still ran into the hospital so she could see her mom. That is bold because she could have gotten shot.

Athletes catch a bad rap because there are so many that think they are above the law because they play professional sports and make more money than some people think they should and way more than the average person. This police officer seems to have a history with controversy, having arrested the wife of former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas and put her in jail. Now that this most recent event has come to light, and it was caught on police dashboard videotape, his credibility is all but gone.

Like I said, I believe the police officer was right to pull Moats over. In this case, and I'm sure there are others like this, he did not have to apply the letter of the law so strictly given the outside circumstances. Not all athletes are rebels, and not all police officers are out to get those athletes. Looking at this story wouldn't give that impression though would it?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If I Ran My Favorite NFL Team

Of course I'm talking about the Miami Dolphins. Yes, those same Miami Dolphins who went from 1-15 two years ago to 11-5 and a 2008 AFC East championship. So how could they be even better this year? This is an important question to me, especially because everywhere you look in the AFC East there seems to be solid improvement.

The Buffalo Bills have made good moves, but essentially got the best wide receiver on the free agent market and probably one of the overall best in the NFL when they signed Terrell Owens. He certainly is a circus and will be taking that show to upstate New York, but he is an instant upgrade and makes the Bills' offense that much more dangerous.

The New York Jets (oh how I love them... not) have also improved immensely on the defensive side of the ball. With new Head Coach Rex Ryan, that shouldn't be any big surprise. Among the big offseason moves for the Jets include signing linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard away from the Baltimore Ravens and, trading for cornerback Lito Sheppard. Now, with the prospect of them trading for Jay Cutler in the air, that could instantly make them a playoff contender for next season.

The New England Patriots aren't known for making huge moves in the offseason, but they somehow always remain in contention for a playoff birth every season. After the trade of quarterback Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs for a draft pick, all eyes will be on Tom Brady to show that he is ready for the start of next season. Look for the Patriots to eye a quarterback sometime in the draft.

Now, for the good stuff. What do I think the Dolphins can do to become even better? They obviously have pressing needs in a few different areas, including the offensive line, linebacker, defensive back and wide receiver. What to do?

I personally believe they should address the need of a playmaker in the first round. (This is all speaking as though they will not trade their 25th pick in the first round to get more draft picks, which is very possible) Due to the Dolphins picking so low in the first round, a dream receiver like Missouri's Jeremy Maclin probably won't be available. Receivers that are likely to be avalaible include Percy Harvin of Florida and Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland. Both are blazers who have been clocked at 4.3 at some point in college (Heyward-Bey ran a 4.30 at the NFL Combine).

I personally like Harvin for this draft pick because of the way he was utilized at UF. He was in the slot and on the outside, and I believe Miami Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning would be able to use him the exact same way in the NFL. Imagine the "Wildcat" Formation with Percy Harvin coming in motion, Ronnie Brown taking the snap and Ted Ginn Jr. on the other side. Some people think the "Wildcat" is a fad, but those same critics said it would be stopped eventually during the season. Only one team last season can truly say they stopped it, and the Ravens have lost a few of the weapons that made their defense so dangerous. I can't forget to talk about Heyward-Bey because although he's not as versatile as Harvin in terms of being used in the slot, if you put him opposite Ginn you will have one of the fastest duos of wide receivers in the NFL.

After I take Harvin, I would look at a few different positions in the second round. My darkhorse for this draft would be seeing Miami take West Virginia quarterback/wide receiver Pat White if he is available when their pick comes around in the second round. He, along with Harvin or Heyward-Bey would make this offense one of the best in the AFC in my opinion. There would be so many weapons on one side of the ball that the "Wildcat" would be taken to another level.

In the third round, I believe the Dolphins should address their need at cornerback, and this year there is no shortage of talent. Asher Allen of Georgia, Mike Mickens of Cincinnati, Captain Munnerlyn of South Carolina and Keenan Lewis of Oregon State are good prospects that should be available when Miami is up to pick in the third round. While each have something to work on, they would all be a solid pick and would contribute this season.

This is not just a fantasy that can't happen, I believe this can happen and would my favorite team much better because of it. Will Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and Tony Sparano follow my plan? Who knows, but this is just something to think about. But I have a question for all of you "General Managers" to be:

What would you do to improve your favorite NFL team?

Monday, March 23, 2009

UF Students vs. Florida Gator Fans

Something I've thought about for a long time has been this: what is it about Florida Gator fans? I mean, truthfully speaking, I can't STAND them!!!! But the more I think about it, it's not the actual people that I hate. Follow me as I elaborate.

Students at the University of Florida and some alumni are nice folks when I've talked to them. After going to the NeYo/Musiq concert in February, I realized that there are more than a few pretty ladies in Gainesville. The people there are generally nice. Then you get to that one subject that makes me despise them: sports.

I can't lie, the football and basketball teams at UF have had a hot streak in the past few years with two national championships each in football and basketball. Truthfully and objectively speaking, that is a great athletic program. My problem is everybody who is a Gator fan is not afraid to tell you so.

It's funny because I remember a few years back when my favorite FBS team (the Miami Hurricanes) were dominating college football. I still never remember 'Canes fans being that annoying about winning though! And this included a few nice wins over the Gator Nation if I do say so myself. But now that they are winning, and beat UM 23-9, everybody has to know how great the Florida Tebows are (sorry, you know I meant Gators)

I can't imagine living in Gainesville as a non-Gator fan, it's bad enough living in Jacksonville (aka "Northeast Gainesville"). I have to say it truly hurt to watch them win the national championship earlier this year. I would have rather had any, and I stress ANY, other team win it. Just having to hear it all from the "Blue and white faithful" for another is enough to make me cringe.

It didn't help that they beat JU in the first round of the NIT last week. Of course fans on the road are never supposed to be pleasant. Maybe it's just the fact that they were Gator fans, but they seemed to irritate me more than usual.

Like I said earlier, I think UF students are cool. I have my frat brothers and sorors down there and a bunch of friends down there. One of my friends let me stay there after I covered the NIT game. And you can't forget the best weekend in Gainesville every year, Blue & White Weekend!

To sum it up: UF students=great people, Florida Gator fans=ughhhhhhhh

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Did Brown do for Me?

As an avid follower of Miami Hurricanes, I have obviously been in the loop on the whole Bryce Brown saga. My personal thoughts about it? Good luck, good bye, and good riddance! You can't miss what you never fully had. Although he committed almost immediately after signing day last year, anybody who follows recruiting should know never to trust "verbals" until they are signing on the line and faxing it to their respective schools.

I personally think that Brown is putting undue pressure on himself to become a SEC Freshman of the Year and freshman All-American. Anything less would and should be a disappointment. It's already hard enough to come into college as a freshman and adjust to life on your own as a college student. You're dealing with the girls and classes and parties. For Brown, it will also be the boosters and 100,000k+ fans that will fill Neyland Stadium for home games. Simply put, he can't just be decent or good next season. He has to be great.

Truthfully, Brown looks like he will be a special talent for the Vols, but here is where I have to show some bias: he is not the kind of player that UM needs. The "U" that I remember wouldn't need a five-star recruit from out of state to get the job done. I believe that Lamar Miller and Mike James will come in and represent the Hurricanes well because they want to be there. These young backs coming in remind me of Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis. Not necessarily physically, but one if from Miami and the other is coming from upstate in Florida.

There are certainly other precedents for high-profile recruits not panning out at UM. Kyle Wright and Tyrone Moss are two that stick out in my mind. I'm not saying Brown won't work out for Tennessee and new Head Coach Lane Kiffin, but he's better off there than here.

Besides, who knows what Kiffin did to get him there?