The NFL preseason kicks off (for real) tonight! Am I the only one yelling? My bad. I understand that most people don’t love the NFL preseason the way I do. However, I think the games below include some matchups where there are either interesting position battles taking place, or an opportunity to get an extended look at some players who will be significant pieces for their team this year. If you are as desperate for professional football in the same way I am, you’ll take it in any form you can get it. Though this may be football in its raw, unrefined form, it’s football.
I picked six games for the purely superficial reason that touchdowns are six points, and it felt relevant. I hope you take the time to sit down and check out at least one of these games:
(Note: All regionally broadcast games will be re-played on NFL Network in the days following the game, and all games are listed in chronological order)
6: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, TONIGHT, 7:30 p.m. (Regional)
What to Watch For: The trenches. Most interesting are Pittsburgh’s two rookies starting on the offensive line tonight. David DeCastro, the rookie from Stanford will be starting at right guard, while Mike Adams starts at left tackle for the Steelers. As can be customary with rookies in these situations, they are more than likely going to see a greater chunk of the playing time than established starters typically would in the preseason. Lining up against Mike Adams will be Eagles’ 2010 first-rounder Brandon Graham, who has been much-maligned throughout his first two years in the league; he should receive an extended look tonight, as well. Finally, it will be interesting to see how Eagles’ starting left tackle Demetress Bell performs in lieu of all-pro Jason Peters, who has a ruptured Achilles. This is a good test for Bell, who will likely find himself in his fair share of blitz situations. If Mike Vick and Ben Roethlisberger are forced to scramble on numerous occasions tonight, these teams will both have critical problems to address with their offensive lines. Read more…
I know today is the MLB trade deadline, and that this is a delayed reaction. However, I’m a Phillies fan, and this isn’t exactly a happy day for me. So, I’m going to focus on hockey. I’ve been away for a little while, and in my time away, some big stuff has happened. Let’s recap:
Rangers Trade Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a First Round pick in 2013 to Blue Jackets for Rick Nash
For all the crap that got heaped on New York for the Knicks allowing Jeremy Lin to walk, the other team run by James Dolan, the Rangers, made what ended up being the best move of the off-season. After the Flyers submitted their offer sheet for Shea Weber, I said that Paul Holmgren had made himself the Michael Corleone of the NHL off-season. Well, against the odds, the Predators were able to match the offer sheet. Somehow, the Predators will be able to pay Shea Weber a sum that almost nobody thought they would be able. Good for Nashville, I’m all about loyalty. The Rangers ended up pulling the off-season equivalent of a pass intercepted in the defensive zone and taking it the distance for a goal, by pulling off a deal for Rick Nash, right as the Flyers missed out on Shea Weber. Though unrelated, the Flyers’ loss coincided with the Rangers’ gain, and it has cemented the Rangers, in my humble opinion, as the favorites in the Atlantic Division. As far as Columbus is concerned, I’m impressed that they were able to get this much for Nash. After publicly mishandling this situation since February, it’s somewhat hard to believe they were able to get anything for Nash.
Scott Howson played this as far from the vest as you possibly could, and he still was able to make a move. It could be a blind squirrel finding a nut, or maybe he tapped into some deeply hidden skill. We may never know. Read more…
Welcome back to the NHL Hot Stove! We’ve been apart too long. We’ll be discussing Paul Holmgren bossing up and Gary Bettman being a waste of cells. DISCLAIMER: I link to a lot of Darren Dreger tweets in this. Dude was scoopin’ everyone.
All things considered, this had been a pretty quiet off-season for the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s hard to say anything “noisy” when you stack it up against last season’s “Extreme Makeover: Locker Room Edition,” where they shipped Jeff Carter and Mike Richards out of town, giving the organization an instant facelift. Trading for Luke Schenn, signing guys like Ruslan Fedotenko and Bruno Gervais…it was all so…casual. Something felt off. This was so unlike Paul Holmgren.
Then, at around 1:00 a.m. today, the story started to circulate that the Flyers had signed Shea Weber to an offer sheet that will likely be the last deal of its kind before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement takes hold. 14 years, $110 million. In the first calendar year, it is reported that Shea Weber will be owed $27 million. As Nashville was tentative to give Weber anything more than $7 million/season when they negotiated last season, according to TSN”s Darren Dreger, one would think the back-to-back-to-back-to-back $14 million seasons won’t be matched by the Predators. If the Predators aren’t able, as everyone seems to suspect, this is right up there with the coup that Minnesota pulled on Independence Day, getting Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to sign with them. This brings me to my larger point: Paul Holmgren is the Godfather of the NHL Off-Season.
Right when all the hockey focus had shifted to the CBA talks (oh, keep reading, Gary,) Paul Holmgren decided to shift the spotlight, once again, by making a pretty heavy power move for Shea Weber. The Flyers had reportedly been asked for Sean Couturier, a Schenn, and another trade chip for Weber in their talks with Nashville. Evidently, Paul Holmgren decided he was less than pleased with this, and said “Screw it, they can have all of my first rounders over the next four years. We’re doing this my way.” Make no mistake, this was the baptism scene from Godfather I.
The Rangers, Sharks, Red Wings, and Flyers were all in talks with the Predators regarding the price tag that would come with a trade for the franchise blue-liner. Much like the short period of time after Vito Corleone called the meeting with the Five Families, there was a calm, and then everything blew up. The Flyers took the Corleone route, and decided to be the ones blowing it up. They waited until everything had calmed down, and then they assassinated the opposition, when nobody suspected such a sweeping attack. Cold-blooded. Executives from the Rangers, Sharks, and Red Wings were probably asleep, or going to sleep, thinking they had a shot at one of the best defensemen in the NHL, and woke up learning Paul Holmgren decided to pop caps and make this a two-team race. I hate to break it to you Nashville, but it looks like you’re going to be Mo Green in this one.
Even if Nashville finds a way to muster up the financial wherewithal to match the offer the Flyers made to Shea Weber, they’d be cutting off their entire face to spite their nose, essentially. They’d have to surround him with the Hanson Brothers, and probably the Ringling Brothers, too. The fact is, it just doesn’t seem like they’d be able to deal with the payments this deal would require, and they’re going to lose this battle. Forget the poison pill offer sheet the Houston Rockets signed Jeremy Lin to, at which the Knicks decided to turn up their noses. This wasn’t a poison pill. The Flyers poisoned Nashville’s entire water supply.
Provided this goes through, Paul Holmgren will have locked down the Flyers blue-line for years to come with Luke Schenn, 22, and Shea Weber, 26, as his anchors. If you told Flyers fans that they could do that for the price of $110 million, James van Riemsdyk, and four first round picks, most of them probably would have said yes. Rightly so. This off-season has shown off, once again, the exceptional negotiation prowess and asset management skills of Paul Holmgren and the Flyers’ front office. They bossed up so hard, that they got one Philadelphia blogger to start a Twitter hashtag dedicated to a certain part of Paul “Homer” Holmgren’s anatomy. If that doesn’t effectively show you what Paul Holmgren accomplished by making this deal, nothing will.
On the CBA
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, because it’s very early in the negotiating stages. However, I will take enough time to say this. Gary Bettman should get booed at the next 10 Stanley Cup presentations. End of story. Los Angeles takes it easy on him, and then the NHLPA gets the slap-in-the-face offer that the owners handed down last week. Obviously these two things aren’t actually related, but it’s pretty symbolic. He’s gotten booed at every Stanley Cup presentation since the lockout. The league is experiencing a great deal of momentum and any analysis of the trends on Twitter during NHL playoff games leads one to believe that the game had finally found its way back into the mainstream, however far on the periphery of the mainstream it might have been. The TV ratings were on the rise in the early rounds, and were strong before a lot of ratings-averse upsets. You’d think this momentum would inspire the owners to make a reasonable offer in the interest of preserving a good thing. Then again, the NBA was coming off a historic high before their work stoppage last summer. These are the people who control most of the money in the economy!
10 years in the NHL before unrestricted free agency? 5 year contract maximums? 11% rollback on player salaries? Stop it. It’s Gary Bettman’s job to represent the owners, and I understand that. However, there comes a time when you need to say “Hey, guys. We eventually have to ACTUALLY LOOK AT THESE PEOPLE AGAIN.” I understand “starting high” but the first CBA proposal in this negotiation suggested the owners actually were high when they made it. This better get straightened out soon. I don’t want to think about the alternative.
Stay tuned for more updates from the stove!
After actually reading the Freeh report, Steve decided to discuss his opinion on the reaction from the general public to the report.
Hey, you. Yeah, you–the one who keeps parroting the rhetoric that Penn State should get the death penalty, throwing around words like “cowards,” for the Penn State brass, and the ever-popular “abandoning the children” variants. You’re an intellectual infant. You might think I’m writing this to somehow defend the indefensible actions of the Penn State leadership, even after the release of what was discovered in the Freeh investigation. No. What Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Mike McQueary collectively did was patently wrong. I’m not about to defend that. But don’t tell me what you’d have done in their position, don’t tell me how they’re cowards, or whatever loaded words you choose to use to make you feel better about yourself.
People in power abuse it, because they think they deserve it. If you suggest that you would have made better decisions, I’m led to believe you think you deserve some modicum of power more so than the people who had it. You suggesting you deserve this power, or would know what to do with it, leads me to believe that you’d have done exactly the same thing they all did. You’d have covered your ass. You’d have turned the same blind eye. You would have abandoned the children too. You’re no better than any of the people implicated by the Freeh report, simply by suggesting you would be. Get over yourselves.
I hate to break it to you, but there’s a reason that people in power think they deserve it. People in power are generally ambitious, and rarely ever have significant positions of power thrust upon them. They seek them out. They’re actually willing to do “whatever it takes” to get the positions they desire. That’s what bothers me so much about people who “say” they’ll do whatever it takes to get somewhere in life. They mean it, up until they realize the full scope of what “whatever” really means. Positions of power will often require people to do things they aren’t proud of to preserve what they believe is “the greater good.”
You’re kidding yourself if you think the CEOs, athletic directors, university presidents, and politicians aren’t inherently self-interested. It’s just the way they’re wired. I’ve never heard of anybody who genuinely sought out a position of power because they wanted to spread their humility. Try me. Even Gandhi was primarily self-interested. Anybody who tries to get the world to live by a set of their ideals; an organization to operate by them, etc–is full of themselves, and I’m not suggesting that these are bad people. I am, however, saying they have their flaws. Just like you do, just like I do. If you tell me you think you’d have acted differently than these administrators, but also tell me you’d never be interested in holding their position–you’re an idiot. Read more…