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February 2012 Archive


Mike Mayock makes note of what I call “racially affected” coverage of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III

Is it safe to say that Mike Mayock runs football yet?

This might be news to Cam Newton, but scouts and scouting reports are still largely trite with stereotypes. Mike Mayock, America’s new favorite analyst (no, seriously, I think he runs football now-and he looks damn good doing it!) finds the comfortable narratives about Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III to be an “interesting juxtaposition.” (But where Mayock uses the word interesting I use “racially affected.”)

I think Andrew Luck is more athletic than people will ever give him credit for. When you compare his numbers this year to Cam Newton’s numbers last year, they’re almost identical. We all gushed about the athlete Cam was, but we don’t with Luck, whose athleticism is underrated. Whereas Robert Griffin’s pocket awareness is underrated also. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between those two guys. We kind of want to push them into categories we’re comfortable with, but they’re both better than we think across the board.

I appreciate what Mayock says here and he doesn’t have to get all Jesse Jackson with it to make the point. Whether you consider this kind of “assessing down convenient lines” a racist (or, more gently, “racial”) act or simply inadequate or flawed analysis the fact is it needs to stop. Analysts of all kinds need to make a greater effort to accurately describe the guys they’re covering.

I’ve also never really understood the discomfort folks have with the athletic ability of white men. I thought athletes were, by default, athletic which is the main thing that makes them, in effect, athletes. If a white player isn’t quite so acrobatic or physically flamboyant are they lacking athleticism or simply subscribing to a different style of play?  Or, are certain types of white players more palatable for those who do the choosing-especially early on? For the record,  I never found John Stockton, Steve Nash or even Euro Tony Kukoc to be lacking athleticism but apparently that’s what I’m supposed to think or at least be impressed with the athleticism they’ve shown.

I’m ready for a new conversation to emerge that has more to do with the style of play that blacks and whites are coached into and whether or not there truly is something inherent that limits guys in different ways based on race. Because right now the waters are very muddy and it makes it way too easy to pigeon-hole everyone so that they fit neatly into pre-created boxes.


How the NFL manages to stay on your mind all year long

The NFL season is over and now you can focus on whatever other sport you love. Hell, you might even actually spend some time with your family. Or so you thought…

Over the past 5 or 6 years the concept of an NFL off season has largely become a myth. Yes there is a part of the year where there are no meaning NFL games but that doesn’t mean that the NFL has lost our complete interest. In fact, they’ve structured the “off season” so that you never really can forget about the grandest game in the land.

Right after Super Bowl, which this year was Feb 5th, we have about two weeks of de-briefing. Guys who recently became stars (see: Giants Victor Cruz) are still in the news. In Cruz’s case, he was invited to present at the Grammys and even signed a book deal. Those like Tom Brady remain in the national consciousness as we wonder if they absorb their losses by dancing Rob Gronkowski style into the night or if they sit in their house much like Lee Evans sat on a bench staring into space after Sterling Moore swiped the ball out of his hand sending Baltimore back to Baltimore.

Around that same time there are lots of hirings as coaching changes made around Black Monday (after the last regular season game)  start to take shape. Soon Franchise Tags can be used. This year that began Feb 20th. And even though we know teams won’t even bother with them until the deadline (this year it’s March 5th)  that won’t stop Eagles fans from worrying about Desean Jackson’s fate or Houston fans from wondering if Mario Williams will be unaffordable.

Before the franchise tag deadline comes we get combine-which started Feb 22nd and is still going on until tomorrow. With combine you get live coverage of some of the best athletes in the world and more updates than you would ever need via and NFL Network. Thus begins the speculation of whether combine speed and performance in drills will change the expected draft order. This ramps up speculation for both the free agency period and the draft.

This is also the time where fans get so draft-obsessed they forget that some needs on some teams are better filled by veterans. And this is the type of conversation that will continue on until after draft is done and veterans and undrafted guys are still finding spots well into training camp.

This year free agency starts on March 13 and there should be a flurry of activity. It won’t match last year’s lockout frenzy but there lots of awesome free agents out there (especially at the Wide Receiver position) so there’s a chance we could see a lot of movement early.

After that from March 25-28 there will be NFL owners meetings. Owners meetings are important because each year owners get together and vote on rules and talk about the status of the NFL. With all of these high profile lawsuits going on, in particular one by Tony Dorsett and another filed by the Duerson family, the owners have lots to talk about. And we will some confirmation (and plenty of speculation) on what changes will made for the coming season  -last year the doozy was probably movement of the kickoff line -which will give us fans lots to talk about as well.

Once April hits you might as well say the NFL is right back at it. Teams will start having organized team activities and other meetings. The draft starts on the 26th and runs through the 28th. So then you get coverage of who was drafted but also lots of stories on how the deals work out though less controversy this year now that we’re into the 2nd year of the glorious rookie wage scale.

The trick for fans will be getting through the last couple weeks of May…the most boring month of NFL “off season.”  Then July and August will bring you tales from training camp. Next thing you know we will all be complaining about pre-season and ready for the September 6 season opener which will make the pain of offseason a mere memory once again.


Why I hate plaits but still hope Robert Griffin III keeps long hair

The part of me that cares about fashion wants Robert Griffin III's plaits to disappear, the part that craves a case study wants him to keep his hair long.

As a serious football blogger (hahahah), I should be writing about how the speed Griffin displayed over the weekend at combine is pretty much unheard of for a quarterback. I should be talking about whether or not the Redskins are really going to try to move hell and Browns to get to the Griffin. I should even be talking about whether the Rams would be or should be remotely interested. And maybe I will…later. But right now I want to focus on those flowing locs sprouting from Griff’s head.

I have always hated plaits which are basically individualized “loose” braids rather than tightly woven corn rows that were trendy in the early 2000s a la former Philadelphia 76er Allen Iverson. Plaits have always made me think West coast, Snoop Dogg-meets-4-year-old girl. And I dislike them on little girls so it’s only natural that I dislike them on grown men who clock in at 6’3 and run unofficial 4.38 40s. When it comes to long hair (on black men) I like dreadlocks and some afros. But plaits will never make it in my book.

Still, I hope Griffin keeps his long hair even if I have to suffer through looking at plaits-hey, that’s what bobby pins are for right? Even wild rapper Waka Flocka stops shaking his dreads sometimes and french braids them or pins them back for a cleaner look.

It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t black what a huge deal hair is in the black community. Whether you are a woman who has been told your natural hair is unprofessional or felt pressure to relax it with chemicals or whether you’re a man who is perceived as “threatening” when you diverge from anything other than a low cut caesar or something playful like a mohawk that tells people you’re not serious about anything much less hurting them.

In a league where it’s still a big deal for a QB to be black (maybe not to YOU, but to many of us, including me) if Griffin’s braids can be accepted without a hitch I think it says something about progress. I don’t want Griffin to keep long hair to prove a point or to be defiant. And if he doesn’t keep his braids it doesn’t mean he’s conforming. I don’t want or need Griffin to make any personal statements about blackness with his hair.

But if he keeps the long hair it will give me a chance to see what the reactions are. Will they (mainstream press, advertisers etc) see Griffin’s hair as “other” or will they see it like Tom Brady’s long hair (which I also hate)- as a personal style choice that isn’t particularly attractive but works cause he likes it. When Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, told Cam Newton not to get any tattoos he really meant don’t do anything that’s not mainstream and that includes afros (as McNabb once rocked even though I couldn’t tell what was going on there), dreadlocks or Griffinesque plaits. And Newton has made it clear he doesn’t intend to let anything stand in the way of becoming a golden boy so while some balked at Richardson’s request in reality he was preaching to the choir.

I do remember when athletes having locks was a big deal, now it seems like every NFL team has at least 2 or 3 guys with beautiful strands peeking out under their helmets. Same thing with Iverson’s braids…nowadays corn rows only raise eyebrows cause they’re out of style. Even the poster boy for grand gestures of defiance Randy Moss says he won’t wear them anymore.




Athletes love personality glasses - a mini-look book

This post is pointless besides the fact that I think the trend toward “personality” glasses on athletes is really cute.  I’m just positing a few of my favorites. If there are other good ones let me know!


Philadelphia Eagles Desean Jackson

Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard


Philadelphia Eagles Nnamdi Asomugha

[To view more photos of athletes in personality glasses click on the “Read More” tab below.



Falcons Matt Ryan says he’s “excited” about working in Koetter’s system

Matt Ryan sat down with the Atlanta Falcons for a short Q&A. One of the questions was about the addition of Dirk Koetter from the Jags and his vertical passing system.

JA: Speaking of Koetter, he’s a coach with a history of relying on vertical passing, and he says he’s big on the screen game. What do you think of what you’ve heard of his system so far?

MR: I’m excited about it. I think you always learn different things from different coaches and I think all great competitors are always eager to learn more. I view it as that opportunity to learn more and try and add to my knowledge about the game and, ultimately, my productivity when I get on the field. I think he’s got some really good ideas and understands the personnel we have here, and certainly after free agency and the Draft, we’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to look like next year, but I’m excited about it. You mentioned the screen game and the vertical passing stuff, I think there’s some things we’ve done well in that category, but certainly those are two areas I think we can be better and his expertise in that area I think will help.

I fretted over the Koetter hiring here. But I’m staying positive that my Birds will get it right. Since then, they’ve hired Mike Nolan as Defensive Coordinator and that decision made me happy.

If nothing else, my coaches are a darned good looking group! That’s gotta count for…something.



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