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Dungy: Peyton Manning’s Neck Injury Result of Illegal Hit by Phillip Daniels in 2006

Indianpolis Colts QB Peyton Manning recently underwent a cervical fusion

Indianpolis Colts QB Peyton Manning recently underwent a cervical fusion

Peyton Manning’s former Coach Tony Dungy provided a little background on what he thinks marked the beginning of Manning’s problems with his neck. According to Dungy, in a 2006 game against the Redskins Manning’s neck was twisted and his helmet pulled off by the Redskins Phillip Daniels during a high low hit by Daniels and Andre Carter. Manning finished the game that day with impressive numbers, but Dungy believes that it spelled the beginning of marked decline in the heralded quarterback.

“Then we sort of forgot about it at halftime, and Peyton seemed fine,” Dungy said. “He lit it up in the second half. He was on fire [throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns]. But that’s the year we started cutting back on his throws at practice. I’m not putting two plus two together. I just figure he’s getting older and he needs some time off, he’s made enough throws. But now, as I look back on it, there’s no doubt in my mind that this was the start of his neck problems.”

Manning’s 2nd neck surgery, a cervical fusion, took place last week. And I’m still confused as to why he hasn’t retired. I just don’t see any reason for his career to proceed at this point. The NFL contains about as much parity as you can ask for in a professional sport. I know it’s only week 1, but if the Colts are this bad without Manning, it’s not likely that they would be good enough to win a Super Bowl with Manning against the high level teams that are competing right now. At 36 and with a fragile neck, I see no reason for Manning to continue unless a Superbowl win was imminent. And honestly, taking off my “fan of the sport” fitted cap and putting on my “caring woman” sequined fedora, superbowl or not I wouldn’t want my loved one out there.

Manning should be looking forward to the Hall of Fame. Not dodging sacks from 6’4, 260lbs ++ Outside linebackers like Mario Williams and Brian Orakpo. Besides, it puts guys in a difficult situation. With an injury like Mannings, should he return, nobody wants to be the guy that paralyzes Manning for the rest of his life. Again, why haven’t we wrapped this retirement thing up?

Manning should hang up the cleats and crip walk…wait…riverdance (is that racist?) into the Hall of Fame as a healthy and happy husband and father of twins.  He’s collected his roster bonus of $3 million dollars already and the Colts have the option not to pick him up going forward. Why draw this out?

As far as the current Colts, I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see it for Kerry Collins. Not sure how many weeks he can make it without injury. At the very least the Colts could use a better backup, can we toss up some things and add recently-and-unceremoniously-fired former Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard to the equation? I will admit I have no idea what their current backup Curtis Painter is capable of, but the one bit of play action he saw that I witnessed wasn’t very good. Garrard can at least withstand some heat and is 6 years younger than Collins. And I doubt he would perform so well that it would put them out of contention for Andrew Luck…assuming the Colts are even thinking about that.








I’ve Had Enough of Andy Reid’s Eagles. Time to Say Goodbye to the Big Man.

I loved Randall Cunningham as a kid, and because of him I became an Eagles fan. Cunningham had a somewhat tumultuous time with the Eagles that ended with him retiring from football feeling unappreciated and, well, dumped upon.

Sound familiar?

That’s because Donovan McNabb left the Eagles feeling the same way. And if things continue as they are, Michael Vick will too.

The Eagles are stuck in an ugly rut. A rut of close but no cigar seasons. Of cobbled together pieces. Of dissed loyal players. Of putting number crunching over success. Of doing just enough to keep fans hanging on but never enough to take it all.

If you’re an Eagles fan-especially a die hard one-this year feels like every other year. Only, maybe, this year is the year everyone takes notice that something needs to change. My recommendation? Start with the Coach.

Since 1999 Reid has been at the helm of not only the coaching staff but he is the decider as it pertains to personnel. That means the lack of emphasis on pass protection falls on his shoulders. The fact that 2 or 3 awesome defensive players have always anchored the defense with the rest of the secondary being some no-name roster fillers is all his fault. Can you name one defensive player for the Eagles while McNabb was there that isn’t named Samuel, Vincent, or Douglas? Probably not.

As I like to say, the Eagles don’t have a depth chart-they have a substitution list.

McNabb may be worn, but he’s a guy that took the Eagles far without the kind of pieces other quarter backs of his caliber had access to. You know, like multiple reliable receivers. McNabb gives you division titles, you give him Freddie Mitchell. That’s not equal.

Equal?  You want to get paid equally to other players in your position? You think rushing for more than 600 yards every season for 6 years in a row or having back to back 1000 yards rushing is worth more than a pack of skittles and a mustard-cover pretzel? Okay fine Mr. Westbrook. Take your ass to San Francisco, you career is done anyway.

Only it isn’t. Yeah yeah injuries and concussions blah…Westbrook continues to play at a high level and the Eagles currently have no run game. But! We saved 7.5 million. THIS JUST IN: Washington Redskins Dan Snyder dropped 7.5 million on the floor at Ruth’s Chris and didn’t even bother to have one of his assistants pick it up.

If injury is the reason for Westbrook’s departure, why was Jeremiah Trotter’s let go the first time? Rumor has it Reid forced him out the door because he asked for two muffins instead of one as an incentive in his contract. But you didn’t hear that from me. I mean why would a linebacker expect 361 tackles, 9 sacks, 5 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 Pro Bowls in a span of four years to earn him a new contract?  Sidenote: Eagles later brought Trotter back for a successful 2nd and a pointless 3rd round.

Speaking of contracts, DeSean Jackson-the best wide receiver the Eagles have seen since Andy Reid has been coach (Please don’t speak to me about Terrell Owens. Don’t.ever.speak.of.him) is walking around expressing his confidence that he’ll be offered a new deal. It’s shameful that the Eagles have yet to publicly assure this dynamic player that they want him to return and they’re willing to pay for it.

Instead, they hide behind the potential lockout as a reason they won’t discuss it. This, as though an assurance has to be accompanied by concrete terms of a deal. The fact that Jackson survived the concussion that laid him out earlier in the season and came back to do this was enough to get a public vote of confidence.

But we don’t do that in Philly. We let players squirm until the clock runs out.

Clocks…clocks…Andy Reid doesn’t like clocks…or perhaps he doesn’t know what clocks do…or how much they mean during crucial moments of games. Like the time he essentially cost us the Super Bowl by mismanaging the clock, by my count, on three different occasions during the game.

All of this feels like a terrible terrible nightmare. Andy Reid has more job security than a tenured professor. He’s got me sitting in the back of the class silenced like I’m in timeout.

Timeouts…timeouts…we never have any timeouts left. WHY DON’T WE EVER HAVE ANY FUCKING TIMEOUTS LEFT?!?!?

Timeouts. Time up. The time has come for Andy Reid to go.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not the only problem. Eagles owner Joe Banner prides himself on being the best salary cap manager in the league read: the cheapest guy on the block. Well the cap is off on my patience and is currently covering my wallet. I’m not investing another dime in this team until Eagles leadership shows me they care about winning as much as the fans and players do.


Is History the Reason For the Love Dallas Coach Jason Garrett is Getting?

The Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants played a hell of a game yesterday. Only the numerous flags and challenges kept the game from being a complete shoot-out. Everyone was surprised by how cohesive both the Dallas offense and defense were (aside from a weird mini-alteracation between Sensabaugh and another defensive player whose jersey # I didn’t catch). The other surprise was how badly Eli Manning played. He threw repeat passes in to double coverage and just generally had trouble advancing the ball something that seems odd given the fact that they scored quite a bit. However, the Giants defense was the biggest letdown because Dallas scored freely for most of the first half.

After the game, the love thrust upon Jason Garrett, who moved up this week from offensive coordinator to interim head coach, was over the top. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw couldn’t gush enough. Even before the game, Jimmy Johnson clearly expressed his wishes that Garrett do well and made it very clear that when he left Dallas, he did so on his own terms.

Football is a sport that is all about connections. Sure it’d be nice to believe that Garrett is the recipient of random good will or, even better, that he deserves all this love, but I suspect that the fondness for Garrett has more to do with history than performance.

Garrett’s father, Jim, was also a football coach who recruited both his sons to play under him at Columbia (Jason and his brother returned to Princeton to graduate once their father left the coaching spot at Columbia). The older Garrett went on to become a scout for the Cowboys opening the door for the younger Garrett to take a position with the team so many years later. It should be noted that Garrett was hotly pursued for a head coaching position by the Ravens and turned it down to remain in Dallas as offensive coordinator.

When Garret turned down the Raven’s coaching job Cowboys blogs wrote:

Garrett has an attachment to the Cowboys organization dating back to his playing days, when he was Troy Aikman’s backup on two Super Bowl championship teams and served as the practice squad quarterback for a third. He wanted to return to Dallas last off-season even though he was still under contract as the Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach. His father, Jim Garrett, also had been a longtime scout for the Cowboys.

But Garrett also has family ties to the Ravens organization. His dad coached the Browns’ running backs when Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and vice president of football administration Pat Moriarity played for Cleveland. Owner Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore in 1996.

Ravens president Dick Cass and Garrett are fellow Princeton graduates, and Cass actually represented Jones in his acquisition of the Cowboys and Texas Stadium back in 1989. Garrett met with Cass, Newsome and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti during his visit.

Ahh good old history. So that takes care of the good will toward Garrett by Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, and Jerry Jones. But what about Joe Buck?

This one might be a stretch but connections don’t have to be strong to be impactful. Joe Buck’s father Jack was also a sports announcer back in the days when most announcers were assigned specific teams to cover rather than time slots as is more the practice today. For a while Jack Buck was assigned to cover Cowboys games, so that may explain some of it. However, due to the large amount of NFC games that seem to occur on Fox (not completely sure why) in 2007 alone Joe Buck and Troy Aikman called at least 7 Dallas games during the season making them pretty familiar with Dallas Cowboy talking points. Could those two things be totally coincidental? I suppose so.

As for Terry Bradshaw I’m chalking it up to him not taking his meds.

The final explanation could be that the Cowboys are America’s team, and we want America to win right?

Overall I just think it’s always interesting to think of all the ways history “may” impact the present. In sports fond memories of the past are never far from current consciousness.


Jon Gruden Is Not the Right Coach for Dallas

Jon Gruden is being touted as a top pick to be the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys. The chance to coach “America’s Team” *gag* and the lure of a big market and lots of attention might appeal to the ego of any coach and certainly one that likes the spotlight as much as Gruden. But this is one of those times when we need to be realistic. I’m a huge fan of Gruden, but he and Jerry Jones would be about as good a pair as Brad Childress and Zygi Wilf are right now.

Wilf, by the way, after being asked about one of the Vikings most recent incidents, said he had “nothing” to say.

I can easily imagine Jones having “nothing” to say about Gruden about a year and half into the job. Gruden has never been one to shy away from making controversial and independent decisions. Decisions that aren’t just unpopular with fans but also with sports media. In Dallas, the discussion around those decisions would be amplified.

I remember back in 2007 after the Bucs lost to the Panthers 31-23. Gruden was accused of lying down for the Panthers when he undertook a safe end of the season game plan which included “resting” starters. Gruden dismissed all the criticism and owned his decision with some pretty colorful commentary.  That’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t go over well with Dallas’ front office.

When it comes to play calling, Gruden would be a different coach from the recently-fired Wade Phillips, but whether it would be a change for the better depends on how you look at it. One of the main criticisms Phillips received was that his offense was “too predictable.” I think that’s fair; however, if players can’t execute the intricacies of what they’re given and that results in losses, the logical step is to scale things down and work from there.

What this comes down to is whether you believe Phillips and Garrett failed at teaching or whether the players have failed at learning. If it’s a learning issue, that makes someone with a record like Bill Cowher’s—who is presumed to be Dallas’ first choice— even more attractive as a pick over Gruden.



Week 8 Recap: Is Favre’s Play a Miracle? Is Shanahan mentally sound? Is Belichick in the Illumanati?

Back in Shakesperean times, women weren’t allowed to be in performances. Men played all the parts in the dramas. Today, we call that football. Football is an all male Young and The Restless with enough drama for everyone from the casual watcher to the maniacal fanatic.

Week 8 served up plenty to talk about, and it’s always interesting how story lines are covered by different news outlets.

To start, the Washington Post’s Redskins blog rounded up all the reactions from people around the league regarding Shanahan’s what-the-fuck decision to bench McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman with 2 minutes left on the game clock.

The reactions were mostly angry. Actually, I was surprised at how angry they were. The only  mild reaction was the best one in my opinion. Michael Irving said:

“It wasn’t just taking Donovan out. It was bringing Rex Grossman in. All of our eyes have seen enough of Rex Grossman.”


Michael Wilbon, Mike Ditka, Tony Kornheiser et al were more thorough in their statements, but Irvin’s sentiment was shared by all.

Unless you’ve been hiding inside Troy Polamalu’s luxurious locks the last 24 hours, you’ve probably heard that Randy Moss was unceremoniously waived by Vikings Coach Brad Childress. Not only was he waived, but he was the last to find out.

Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports didn’t like Childress’ decision one bit:

In announcing the team’s intentions to release Randy Moss(notes), Childress confirmed what many in the Vikings organization have believed about him for years: His management of people is questionable, his willingness to listen is nonexistent and his reaction to criticism is punitive.

This only confirms the growing tension that already existed in the Minnesota locker room before the season. Everyone in Minnesota knew back in training camp (and actually long before then), that Favre and Childress don’t get along. Favre doesn’t respect Childress, viewing him more as geeky impediment rather than a sophisticated football mind.

The difference with Favre is that Childress knows he needs Favre to have a real chance. Once Childress got Favre, there was no turning back. Make no mistake: Favre runs the show in that battle of alpha males.

When it came to Moss, Childress wasn’t going to let another player run roughshod over him. When Moss criticized the coaches Sunday after the loss to the Patriots, that was the tipping point.

I’m not fan of my-way-or-the-highway Coaches, I wrote about it when I gave my reaction to McNabb’s benching. So overall I don’t disagree with Cole. However, I don’t agree that “Childress knows he needs Favre to have a real chance.” I think it’s pretty clear the Vikings don’t have a chance with Favre. They’d probably be just as well to have Jackson QB with an experienced and prolific WR like Randy Moss to throw to.

I do agree that Favre is winning their battle, unfortunately there’s nothing to be won.

Who gets Moss? Guesses?

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter said various league sources indicated the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and the Bears could be possibly interested in making a claim for Moss.

The receiver will enter waiver process Tuesday, and there’s a good chance he could join a new team soon after he’s officially waived, considering his representatives — according to reports — have already been contacted by the Dolphins and Seahawks. The Buffalo Bills, by virtue of owning the worst record in the league, get first dibs on Moss, who will be awarded to the team with the worst record to put in a claim.

The fact that the Patriots are on that list just shows how odd the NFL can be sometimes. In terms of the list of interested teams, Moss might make a good choice for the Raiders and possibly the Seahawks, but Moss is gonna be a pain in the ass for any team that isn’t winning. Not sure how he’d be all that useful for the Dolphins. Unless he can gain 70 lbs in a week and get some blocking skills, the Skins should stay far away. And as far as I’m concerned the Jets need to work with what they’ve got.



Shanahan Benches McNabb and I Bash, Question, and Second Guess

Shanahan's Signature Look

If you missed the Redskins/Lions game yesterday than you know that ‘skins coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench McNabb in the last 2 minutes of the game in favor of starting former Chicago Bears QB Rex Grossman. Grossman has a speckled past to say the least, and even if you think he’s an awesome QB most of us wouldn’t consider him to be preferable to McNabb.

After the game, Shanahan stated that he felt that Grossman gave them “the best chance to win” due to his knowledge of the 2-minute offense. (It’s important to note that McNabb stated that he was very comfortable with the 2 minute offense) When asked about whether or not the Skins’ offensive line was lacking, McNabb said “I wouldn’t say the offensive line let me down.”

Even casual fans should be able to tell you that the Skins haven’t had a good offensive line in at least 6 years. And RB Clinton Portis’ workhorse nature was many times the only thing between former Redskin QB Jason Campbell and death.

But that’s McNabb…classy to the end. Mind you, Grossman got into the game and was on the field for all of about 8 seconds (I should replay it and count) before things went terribly awry.

Brian Mitchell said of Shanahan’s decision to bench McNabb:

“You basically made your quarterback look like a scapegoat. You made your quarterback look like he was the guy that caused all the problems today, and that is definitely a problem.”

Already this season, Shanahan has had a public falling out with the team’s new highly paid defensive tackle (Albert Haynesworth), unceremoniously cut a WR (Devin Thomas) and now has benched one of the most talented QB’s to play the game. What’s next? A slap fight with Dan Snyder?

When Coaches make rash moves like benching a starter, it messes with team morale especially when there’s no clear reason for doing so. It further encourages a feeling that nobody’s job is safe-not that jobs in the NFL are ever safe-but benching without apparent warrant makes guys nervous about their own value and rightfully so.

I think Shanahan could stand to learn a lesson from Giants Coach Tom Coughlin. He tried the my-way-or-the-highway reactionary approach a few years back. It didn’t work. He came back the next season with a new attitude and the Giants have been contenders ever since.

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