Archive for March, 2012

The Art of the Con: Peyton Manning watch 2012

27 Mar

To witness the circus that circled around Peyton Manning this offseason, you would have thought that he was the only player in free-agency, not 36, not just jettisoned from the franchise he helped build and not coming of his third known neck-surgery. And as much as I loved the 24 hour media blitz focussed exclusively on Manning, all the shots of him getting in-and-out of cars and clips of planes flying away, I could not help but feel like I was getting played. Even if Peyton Manning was not washed up, he is only one player in a sea of player movement that transpired this offseason yet he was still getting all the coverage. For example, Tampa Bay made a huge splash in free agency by actually spending money and landing pro-bowler Vincent Jackson, Eric Wright and pro-bowler Carl Nicks to their squad but this news barely made a blip on the free-agency radar.  Call me crazy but I wanted to know what teams were acquiring which free-agents, how much they had left to spend, and what the impacts of these signings were, you know actual sports analysis, and so after a while a part of me definitely felt like there was some lazy sports journalism afoot.

However, when that grainy “secret” video of Peyton Manning was released of him throwing a football on a Duke practice field I began to sense that something more sinister was a foot. I mean what was the big deal, it was just a guy throwing a football down the field any number of retired NFL QBs could have done that, so why was it such a big deal when Peyton Manning did it? It was at that moment that I realized that either the media was being manipulated by perfectly timed infusions of Peyton Manning information or more egregious, they were working with Manning’s camp to ensure that he was covered insesintently.  And while I could not say for certain which of these scenarios actually transpired, at that moment I knew that someone was trying to play the public like a harp from hell.

What was the point and who would do such a thing? Well the point is the dollars plain and simple. When a guy like Manning becomes the biggest question mark in NFL history and is dumped by the franchise in a cost-cutting move to go with a guy who is yet to take a pass in the NFL, obviously his value has taken a bigger nose-dive then Adrian Brody’s career trajectory after winning that Oscar. Therefore in order to get any value out of a guy who has not been tested in over a year and with his age and medical history, you have to artificially create a buzz by getting people talking, having teary-eyed press conferences, releasing  grainy video, pitting teams against each other etc.  all for the purposes of artificially making your stock looking more attractive than it really is.

After appreciating the nature of the con, finding the who is not that hard and all you have to do is follow the money, the green bricked road if you will, which of course leads straight to Manning’s camp and the Wizard of Oz himself, Manning’s agent Tom Condon.  To Condon’s credit he did a masterful job of blinding most people to all the question marks and ensuring that he got top dollar and the situation of his choice for his client, I just wished he had not succeeded so effortless because his slimy behaviour (which even included stabbing another one of his clients, Alex Smith, in the back) will only serve as a blueprint on how to manipulate people in order to get things done.

At the end of the day Manning got his money and his preferred destination, and the Broncos got what they believe will be the difference maker in their quest for the Superbowl. But despite what Manning and Condon would have you believe, there are plenty of reasons to doubt the Broncos-Manning marriage. Even putting aside Manning’s baggage, being out of the game for year is a big enough caveat when thinking a player will ever get back to his former glory. Couple that with the fact that Manning is in a new system, playing outside in the cold (with an unforgiving altitude), with questionable receivers, and a defense that only played well in the last 10 years under Tim Tebow, and the situation becomes questionable at best.  But if you add in all the negatives specific to Manning (age, surgeries and still absent throwing strength), you realize that the Broncos may have taken too big a gamble on a guy due more to the Tom Condon smokescreen then a true appreciation of all the facts. For Manning’s sake and the sake of Broncos fans I hope I am wrong, but because of the all the risks I have a strong feeling that all those hands slapping John Elway’s back this offseason will be showing him the door come the next one.

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06 Mar

Another year another year wasted. If you are as fed up a Toronto Fan as me you wonder when the Raptors will finally start to make some changes. Here is a list of my top-5 ways to fix the Raps;

Keep Andrea

If you look at any contender in the league, you will notice a trend, that they have at least one franchise player. Fortunately, for the Raptors while they are far from being a contender they do have a star in Andrea Bargnani. As such the Raptors must do whatever they have to keep him in Toronto and keep him happy. And while they could have a sit down with him and ask him what he needs to be happy, the best course of action is to win and build a team around him (plus requesting input from star players often has disasterous results).

Get One Playmaker

Has any NBA enthusiast looked at Toronto’s roster in the last 5 years and even thought it was mediocre? Aside from Andrea, Toronto has one of the most underwhelming rosters in the league. The Raptors need desperately to add at least one other star (and preferably one with some defensive skills) if they ever hope to get out of the basement. And while it has been tough historically for Toronto to attract talent they need to either scour the league to see if they can get any disgruntled teams to unload a star (i.e. Rajon Rondo, Stephen Jackson etc.) or work the phones to woo some solid free agents this summer.


It is absolutely time for the Raptors to go after a proven coach. Enough with the untested assistants looking to use the Raptors to get their feet wet or former players looking to make their names off the court. I know it is tough to find good coaches, especially those with titles, but Larry Brown is out there and so are a lot of other ones who have at least made deep playoff-runs.

Accountable GM

Although Brian Colangelo’s tenure as GM has been brief, he has made some questionable moves over this span. However, none of these blunders was as terrible as letting Chris Bosh walk for nothing. The writing was on the wall for over a year and instead of doing what the whole basketball world knew needed to be done, he stood pat. Indefensible. He could have easily flipped Bosh to the Knicks for David Lee and a guard but he did not do that, or a million other possibilities. If you gamble and lose the way Colangelo did, you should prepare to be accountable for your actions.

Take a Calculated Risk

In contrast to Colangelo’s risk that placed the entire franchise in jeopardy when it failed, there are some low-risk high return scenarios currently available to the Raptors.  For example, Toronto could easily make a minimum offer to one of the high-priced players around the league who were “amnestied” by their teams this past year or players with big names looking to get back in the game (like Allen Iverson). For minimum money they could get rewarded by an explosion of talent if the player returns to form. And even if the move does not worked out at least you have got people talking and interested in the Raptors again and the buzz could help you land other deals by showing to the sports world that you are willing to make smart moves to improve your squad.

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