Archive for August, 2012


30 Aug

With the 2012 NFL season only a few days away, there are a ton of questions about the upcoming season about to be answered. Several prominent headlines have been dominating the NFL starved sports world since the Superbowl, and this piece looks at 5 of the biggest questions surrounding these hot topics.

Question 1: Will the Peyton Manning Experiment Succeed?

While he was known to throw caution to the wind on the Grid Iron, John Elway’s decisions this off-season as GM of the Broncos proves he is no different in his post-playing days. Not only did Elway jettison Denver American fan favorite Tim Tebow for pennies on the dollar, he did so in order to bring in the biggest question mark in the game right now, Peyton Manning. Given Tebow’s relegation to the quagmire that is the New York Jets and Peyton Manning’s proven reputation as being one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, the gamble could pay off. However, while most people (especially in the media) seem to love this move by Elway, I am not nearly as emphatic about it. If it turns out that the 36 year old Manning who just signed a five-year contract worth $96 million contract with the Broncos and who is a year removed from playing a single down in the NFL due to persistent neck problems has any sort of set-back, you can believe that all the people who were in favor of this high risk move will be singing quite a different tune come 2013.

Question 2: Who will have the better rookie campaign, Andrew Luck or Robert Griffen III?

Even if you know nothing about football, the fact that Andrew Luck was selected first overall naturally makes you think that Andrew Luck has the inside track in this two man race. However, once you look at the two of them, their skill set and their new environment, this two man race turns of Luck v. Griffen looks like Bolt v. Porky Pig. Of course we have all heard the hype about Andrew Luck, I have watched a few of his games and the man has that “it” factor you see in all the greats. For example, while its only the preseason, Luck has looked fantastic in terms of poise in the pocket, accuracy and decision making. And again, while anyone should be cautious when they are making reference to anything that happens in the preseason, if you watch Luck’s command of the game when he plays it leaves no doubt as to why Jim Isray did not hesitate to flush Peyton Manning down the toilet.

With regards to RG, while his skill set make him great on paper, not only he is in a terrible situation in Washington with a terrible owner and the erratic coaching of Mike Shannahan, but like many “mobile” quarterbacks before him, unless he stays in the pocket his athletic ability won’t be enough to avoid the big hits at the NFL level.  Even if Griffen beats the odds and has a great year, barring injury it should pale in comparison to Luck and Luck’s good fortune to play in a weak enough division where there is a very good chance he takes his team to the playoffs as a rookie.

Question 3: Will the Eagles finally live up to their roster?

After they drew comparisons to the Miami Heat for all of their high profile signings, the Eagles quickly found out that it probably  wasn’t the best compliment in 2011. This year however, the Miami Heat lived up to their hype and captured their title, will the Eagles be able to match this success now that they too have had a year to work out their kinks too? Without a doubt the Eagles on paper have the talent to compete at the highest level (especially if DeSean Jackson takes the pacifier out of his mouth and comes to playthis year), but can the Eagles, who have never won a title in the decade plus tenure of Andy Reid find a way to win on the field? It’s a tough question to answer definitively, but it seems that only Michael Vick’s ability to stay in games will determine this question in the affirmative.

However, should the Eagles not succeed again this year despite the talent on their roster, you can bet that any questions relating to Andy Reid’s future with the franchise will be a lot easier to answer.

Question 4: How long will it be before the Jets Self-Destruct?

This question of course is premised on the belief that the Jets have not self-destructed already. The agony of being a Jets fan  continues as the Rex Ryan led Jets went from being an underdog fan-favorite to a brassy all-hype squad in just a matter of a few years. Will this be the year the Jets get on track or will this mark the end of the line for Rex Ryan and/or Mike Tannebaum? In order to succeed the Jets will have to redevelop the run, step-up their once heralded defence, hope that one of the Wide Receivers they have left will step up, and most importantly, hope that the Mark Sanchez experiment works out. Of course for the latter to happen one must hope that the decision to bring in Tim Tebow, and the side-show that comes with it, will not be the definitive force that knocks this already constitutionally weak team off its rails for good.

After watching the Jets get progressively worse with stalled playoff appearances, a loud mouthed coach, a roster packed with headcases and a ton of empty promises, I would advise everyone who lives in the vicinity of East Rutherford, New Jersey to duck and cover around Week  8.

Question 5: Will this be the year Tony Romo is Finally able to shed his Loser Image?

When you think of Tony Romo, you think of a loser right? Given the way the mainstream media perpetually bashes this guy why would you think anything else?  However, if you actually watch the Dallas Cowboys and watch the man play, you would see that Tony Romo is actually a phenomenal quarterback, one who puts his team on his back and leaves it all on the field. His numbers support this as his lifetime QB rating of 96.9 is amongst the highest all-time, his lifetime TD-INT ratio is better than 2-1 and last year even while being lambasted by the media he put up over 4100 yards, 31 TDs (vs 10 INTs) and had a passer rating of 102.5 . So why all the hate for Romo? Well the answer seems to lie with the fact that as great as Romo is, things always seem to go great up until December, when the Romo-led Cowboys seem to collapse almost like clockwork . But again, if you actually watch Dallas play, you will notice that for every bonehead decision Romo makes, he usually puts up 20-25 good ones.  Not only that, but the Dallas defense has been absolutely brutal in big play situations for the last decade, especially in the secondary. As a Cowboys fan I have watched Terrance Newman and the rest of the paper mache defensive backs get burned badly on almost every make or break play for the last ten-years. Fortunately for the Cowboys and their fans, Newman is gone and some of the other fire-extinguisher ready DBs are also gone too, replaced by Brandon Carr and much heralded rookie Cornerback Morris Claiborne.

Only time will tell if Romo can ever get the monkey and the media off his back, but this season he has no more excuses. Dallas has a solid roster from top to bottom and Romo’s time is now. He’s got the numbers, so its on him to pick once and for all whether he wants to be remembered as the next Troy Aikman or stay the next Danny White.

Comments Off

Posted in Uncategorized



21 Aug

Every four years (2 if you count Winter) the Olympics roll around and everyone the World over is supposed to be impressed by athletes the World over coming to one place and competing for two weeks. For those two weeks, the global focus (or at least the majority of it) seems to be transfixed on the international spectacle that is the Olympics, and the myriad of events that it encompasses. However, if you aren’t totally suckered in by all the pageantry and hoopla that is the Olympics, allow yourself a few minutes of reflection you will come to the realization that the Olympics are nothing more than an elaborate, tilted and expensive waste of time.

At least that’s what I think. I have voiced my opinions to some of my closest friends, and most of them usually share the conditioned gut-checked response, “what are you talking about, the Olympics are awesome.” However, after I lay out a couple of my points most of them seem to come around, and get a sense of what the Olympics are really about and how  both phoney and wasteful the event as whole really is.

This piece examines some of the reasons why the Olympics should not merit the esteem it does. It is my hope that after reading this piece that more people will come to share this view and I think that anyone who isn’t a total fanatic about the Olympics or a member of the IOC will agree with the points I have laid out.

Without further delay here are the points (I hope to keep them as short as possible but you never know):

LOST TELEVISION PROGRAMING: Even if you like the Olympics, unless you bleed them, you must get annoyed by the havoc it causes to your regular programming schedule. For whatever reason, although NBC is supposed to have the exclusive rights to the Olympics, the games somehow take over your t.v.  as they seem to be on every channel and on all day every day. Maybe this is just a Canadian thing because Canadian channels often pull signal from the States, but as a Canadian this is annoying as hell. And I know it’s the summer months and there is usually nothing much on T.V. anyway, but after being force-fed the same programming for two weeks it comes to a point where you would rather watch the nothing else. *

*Special shout out to AMC for not only running ‘Mob Week’ when the Olympics was running at full-steam, but also for the brand new and fantastic season of ‘Breaking Bad’ that covered three Sundays during the span of the Games.

DRUG SCANDALS: If you think baseball had a problem with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), it is drop in the Ocean compared to the PED shinaniens that transpire with the Olympics. The Olympics have had problems with PEDs  for decades and nothing seems to change. In every Games we are forced to hear about this or that drug scandal with some whiny athlete either coping to cheating or pulling a Mark Landis, and emphatically denying it despite of course the real truth (seriously don’t pretend like you didn’t know what was going into your body and blame your trainer, the cold medicine or some brownies. Be a man and fess up). Not only does this annoy people during the Games, but it forces all of us to hear about the Olympics long after the 16 days they have been allotted ( you have two weeks of relevance every two years that’s it and even that is too much). Furthermore, perhaps the most atrocious aspect of cheating is that it robs the true clean athlete (if there even is one) their moment of glory on the World’s stage. That moment can never be recaptured, and the victim loses out on potentially several  lucrative endorsement deals and public attention while the fraud reaps the rewards until they are caught.

My solution, either you impose harsher drug test and harsher punishments (like life-time bans and fines to both athletes and countries), or you drop the flimsy prohibition on drugs that exists today and openly allow drugs at the Olympics. With all the openly super roided up athletes maybe then it would be something to see.

FAVOURS THE RICH: While it is not a surprise that countries who spend the most on facilities and on their athletes usually win the most medals, there is something nefarious about individuals from wealthy backgrounds being able to be in a much better position to both attend and win medals at the Olympics. While, I have come to expect the universal maxim that life favors the rich, it seems especially heinous at the Olympics. In the first place, because it appears that the majority of Olympic winners come from water sports, gynastistics and other sports that require incredible financing from a young age before an athlete is even ‘discovered’ (i.e. rich mommies and daddies), it seems that essence of the Olympics is tilted significantly towards the wealthy who have the time and money to give their kids the requisite lift needed for success.

TOO MANY BOGUS EVENTS: Even though no one will question the inclusion of basketball, boxing or track events like the 100m sprint, there currently exist many events at the Olympics which demand both suspicion and an explanation. From synchronized swimming, to BMX, to handball, to any of the horse events (dressage, eventing and jumping) the Olympics is covered wall-to-wall with suspect events that should not even be considered sports. Furthermore, equally appalling are the slight variations on an event which enable medals to be awarded for essentially the same activity (Hello Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz). Why there are so many dubious events is anyone’s guess, but to assume that their presence is meant to ensure that only the wealthy can partake in such time consuming and costly endeavours (the horse events for example), is by no means unreasonable.

MATCH FIXING: In addition to all the problems associated with PEDs, match-fixing is also rampant throughout the Olympics and has made the integrity of the games comical. Who can forget when Roy Jones Jr. absolutely destroyed his opponent Park SDi-Hun in his gold medal match in Seoul Korea? Even though his opponent (who since that Olympics went on to become a school teacher) the referee and everyone in the arena knew who won the match, the bogus result was allowed to stand. Not only that, but South Korea never known as a boxing power, had many other their boxers triumph and medal at the Olympics held in South Korea. Despite the obvious, protests by Jones and the American boxing team, and evidence pointing to corruption on the part of the boxing officials, the IOC kept the result intact.

The boxing at the South Korean Olympics might be the most famous example, but it is certainly not the only one, even in the sport of boxing (boxer Floyd Mayweather encountered a similar situation in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics). Almost every Olympics there is some kind of match fixing scandal wherein there is an accusation made (usually based on some evidence of bribery), an initial denial, a defense made by the IOC, an admission of guilt and the decision of the IOC, which often upholds the tainted result.  However, if the London Olympics and the atrocious behaviour of several of the badminton teams has proven anything it is that match-fixing need not be considered one-sided anymore, making the entire match-fixing situation that much more of a fiasco.

IS AN INCREDIBLE BURDEN ON LOCAL ECONOMIES: While the Olympics is rightly regarded as an incredible money-maker (especially for the IOC and media networks lucky enough to carry the Games), unfortunately it is not always so for the city or country hosting the games. For example, although there was much fanfare for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the games ended up causing a 1.5 billion dollar debt to the Province of Quebec, an amount which was not paid off until 2006.  And while some defend the costs associated with hosting the games given the potential boost to the economy that transpires during the Games, given the increasingly high price-tag associated with a 2 week event (London clocked in at 14.8 billion dollars), there will come a point where most rationale nations will question the financial sense even signing up to host such a financially risky endeavour.

BURDEN ON LOCALS: Not only is the Olympics an incredible strain on the economy of a host nation, it is also a tremendous burden on locals. Imagine you live in an already congested and expensive city like Beijing and London, how horrible must it be for that period during the Olympics when your travel time increases, the streets become even more packed and the cost of everything skyrockets. It should also be noted that there is a good chance that your burdens will not be limited to two weeks either. Not only will prices take a while to come back down, and order restored to your city’s infrastructure, but if the Olympics are a flop, which is likely again because of the ballooning price tag of hosting, you can bet that as a resident your taxes will be increased in order for your city/province/country being foolish enough to host.

FORCE-FEEDS US ‘STARS’: Here’s a quick question, do you know the names of Linford Christie, Kerri Strug, Mark Spitz (before Phelps started winning swimming medals), Edwin Moses or Matthew Biondi? Do not worry I had not either, but for a time these were some of the most famous athletes in the World. Unfortunately, for these guys the shelf-life for Olympic athletes is incredibly short, especially if you are not winning and once they are out-of-sight, they are usually out of mind. And while sports fans would love nothing more than to focus on one of the big four professional sports after the Olympics have (mercifully) ended, Olympic athletes and their hype machines (agents, managers, publicists etc.) have gone to incredible lengths to ensure that they remain as relevant as possible in order to maximize their revenue streams for as long as possible. Sadly, the result is that that the public is subjected to a non-stop barrage of Olympic athletes for periods of time much longer than ever before. While I do not know the exact day I will no longer be able to recall the names of Ryan Locthe, Gaby Douglas, Michael Phelps or Lolo Jones*, I truly cannot wait for the day.

I know the Olympics have just ended but if I have to endure one more contrived story, uncharismatic public appearance or dim-witted comment by another Olympic athlete I am going to scream.

*Please for God’s sake read Jere Longman’s excellent piece on the Lolo Jones hype machine Now if only someone would write one of these on Taylor Swift.

GLOBAL DISTRACTION: Although the actual Games themselves, the Olympics is seemingly never ending ordeal. As soon as one City holds its closing ceremony there goes the clock counting down to the next Games. And once the Summer and Winter Olympics were changed from the same year (resulting in a bonus Games for winter athletes to win medals in and a huge financial bonus for the IOC), it seems like the Olympics is always on the horizon, thus always drawing some kind of focus and attention.

Therefore, not only do countries have to spend millions of dollars on funding their athletes (and billions more if you are hosting the Games), but they are always forced to deviate their resources and attention from more pressing matters because the Olympics is always in play. Are you telling me countries like Greece and Spain could not use the extra attention and money it spends on the Games to fix their problems? And these are only First World nations, think about all the impoverished nations who could spend their resources addressing domestic problems instead of blowing it on the Olympics and then getting ripped off by the IMF when they need to borrow money (but that is another entry all together).

In sum, the Olympics are a global distraction of gargantuan proportions. If there were no problems in the World there would be no problem focusing time, money and energy on the Olympics. But in a World fraught with so many problems, especially now with economies crumbling left, right and center, maybe it is time to redirect our focus.

War, Poverty, Famine, Crumbling Economies, Natural Disasters, move over the Olympics are almost here!- Les Winnen, Chairman of the IOC

THE IOC A.K.A. THE GREAT EUROPEAN ARISTOCRACY:  The founder of the modern Olympic Games was a man by the name of Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin who founded the International Olympic Committee and came up with the idea for the Olympics in the late 1800s. Coubertin was nobleman born to a prominent aristocratic family and his idea was especially ingenious because it ensured him and a select group of people, a sort of millionaires boys’ club, the ability to rake in a ton of cash for themselves and make sure that the money only flowed to those they wanted to.

And what a gravy train it has been.

The IOC has been able to take in billions of dollars into its coffers over the years without any sort of legitimate accountability to anyone. And even with changing times and increased demand for equality the world over the IOC has been able to maintain its backwards and often racist traditions, while simultaneously making sure that that those in the inner circle get rich.

No matter the scale of the scandal, be it match-fixing or entire Olympic bid-rgging, the IOC makes its money. No matter the level of sexism, nepotism or racism (the South African experience was particularly appalling the IOC makes it money. No matter the financial burden on the host nation or the condition of the global economy, the IOC makes its money.

How does it do this? Well selection to the IOC is not made in an open and free process, candidates are preferentially selected from existing members. Furthermore, membership is essentially is for life meaning once you are in the millionaire’s billionaire’s club you are there for life (unless of course you are case out by superior members). In addition to closed selection, the IOC has also developed a full-proof way of making money, it shares no risk with host nations but takes a percentage of everything including the revenues which arise from selling preferential advertising sponsorships to companies and television rights. The IOC is therefore making money hand-over-fist and doing so in the most un-democratic and un-accountable way possible. It truly is the Global racket.

SUMMARY: I have provided you with ten reasons solid reasons why the Olympics is not only overhyped and annoying, but why its corrupt, financially destructive influence at present has no place in the World today. If the governments of every nation are striving for progressive change, accountability and the eradication of corruption, they need to turn their attention to the IOC and pressure them to enact substantial change in these same areas. Should they not be able to, well the Olympics has been boycotted before, and maybe one involving all the countries of the civilized World will get their attention.  It will serve them right, lord knows their global nuisance has demanded mine for far too long.

Comments Off

Posted in Uncategorized