There’s an App for that: Drew Brees, Steve Gleason and technology

via Yahoo! Sports

Oh…my…lord.  Peyton and Eli Manning go “Lonely Island Boys” on us and take to the streets of New Orleans in this EPIC music video.   

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Dear Chris,

Hey man, how’s it going? I would like to sugar coat the meaty contents of this letter by first saying congratulations on making it to the Super Bowl, as you and your 49ers teammates have made the city of San Francisco beam with football pride for the first time in many years.  That is wonderful.

More importantly, I have a personal favor I’d like to ask of you.  Please don’t apologize for your homophobic comments, attempt to rephrase or claim your words were taken out of context. 

I’m not sure even the best and brightest of the PR world could find a way to spin this (courtesy of the Mercury News):

“I don’t do the gay guys man,” Culliver said. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.

“Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah … can’t be … in the locker room man. Nah.”

Culliver suggested that homosexual athletes keep their sexuality private until 10 years after they retire.

Oy Vey. 

Apparently, Artie Lange is the new Oprah, getting guys like you to open up about such controversial subjects.  Impressive!

Here’s the thing Chris.  Personally, I respect your right to freely discuss your opinions, any time, any place. I’m sure the majority of San Franciscans agree, given the Bay Area’s storied history of the peace movement, freedom of speech and gay rights activism. 

This is why I implore you not to attempt to color these comments as something other than what they are; the dark truth that homophobia and strong anti-gay views remain deeply rooted in the world of professional sports.

Sure, there are other guys sprinkled throughout pro sports, for instance, your fellow NFL pals Brendon Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe and Scott Fujita, who are openly supportive of civil rights in this country, including LGBT rights.  But clearly the movement is not yet powerful enough to have impacted you, despite your own team’s efforts to join the cause

While it was a poor business move to publicly reveal your feelings about gays as a member of a San Francisco-based organization, there is no going back so you may as well resign to moving forward.

Should you apologize for hurting people’s feelings or offending them?  That seems fair.  You can stick by something you say while feeling bad that others are hurt by it.  In a weird and twisted way, I actually respect Lance Armstrong for a non-apology he gave Oprah in their sit-down interview.

Instead of taking the apology bait when Oprah asked him if he felt remorse, Armstrong’s response was, “everybody that gets caught is bummed out they got caught.” Finally, he was honest about something.

Chris, you are strong enough to take the Lance route on this one. 
Don’t be like your Super Bowl opponent Terrell Suggs who, after verbally decimating the "arrogant prick" Patriots, received a talking-to from teammate Ray Lewis, and consequently changed his tune to, “people don’t like them because they win,” in hopes of avoiding backlash.  That’s weak sauce.  Super weak. 

Stick to your beliefs.  Only if you mean it, say you’re sorry for offending anyone and then keep your mouth shut regarding this issue for the rest of the week.

And don’t worry about being excluded or treated as a leper back home in San Francisco after the Super Bowl.  Most of the folks in the Bay are much more accepting than you, so you need not worry.  It’s all good.  In fact, I bet you’ll be even more popular upon your return, as the locals will surely stop you on the street for a quick chat from time to time, in hopes that maybe, just maybe their open-mindedness might rub off on you. 

Sincerely,
Jackie

UPDATE:  Well, looks like Chris didn’t read my letter.  Bummer.

49ers statement, on behalf of Chris Culliver:

"The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”

LSU’s Claiborne Gets The Call Of A Lifetime

This is why we love sports.

Not only was the American football-loving public shocked when the Dallas Cowboys catapulted themselves eight spots up in the NFL draft (via trade), but the young man whom team owner Jerry Jones selected with the No. 6 overall pick was taken by surprise to the point of near-silence.

Morris Claiborne, the nation’s top-ranked cornerback out of LSU never even thought about the possibility of playing for the Cowboys, his family’s favorite team.  Why would he, as Claiborne expected to be drafted early in the first round while Dallas was nearly halfway down in the draft order with the  No. 14 pick overall. 

So when Claiborne answered his phone and realized Jerry Jones was unexpectedly on the line, (click on the video above to hear their conversation),  the 22-year-old Louisiana native was absolutely stunned. 

"I looked back at my family, and they were like, ‘Who is it?’ " Claiborne told the press at Radio City Music Hall. "And I was like, ‘The Cowboys.’ Just to see the look on their face, it’s just melted me."

The voice of his new bosses melted Claiborne too, as you can hear the Jim Thorpe Award winner break down in tears while trying to digest the moment he had likely dreamed about since childhood. 

Between twitter and the media leaking information about picks before they happen, this is quite a remarkable conversation as we rarely get to see true, raw emotion at the draft these days.  Congrats to Mr. Claiborne and to the Cowboys as well, who seem to have gambled on one grateful and hard-working young man. 

                   

If there was ever a time to defend Jeremy Shockey, it’s right now.   Any media member siding with the brute tight end was a seemingly unfathomable anomaly until a single tweet turned the tides 24 hours ago. 

Former NFL defensive tackle and current television football analyst Warren Sapp used Twitter to reveal the alleged source behind the “bounty-gate” scandal which rocked the New Orleans Saints after the league heavily penalized the organization on Wednesday.

Here is a screen grab of the Twitter exchange between Sapp and Shockey, the former Saints player cited by Sapp as the whistleblower:

 

Sapp later appeared on television to support his claim: 

"I was sitting in the production meeting getting ready for the day and my source that was close to the situation informed me that Jeremy Shockey was the snitch initially. So I went with that. I trust my source unequivocally because he is right on top of the situation. I understand what this is. Shockey comes out and says that he’s not.  We just found out who ‘Deep Throat’ was and he almost died. I understand. Whenever you inform something of this caliber, your identity should be protected, but I was given that information and I went with it by a reliable source that I know."

The issue is no longer whether or not Shockey slipped the Saints’ secrets to somebody at the league office.   Instead, the focus has shifted to the way in which Sapp, now a member of the national media, handled the alleged information. 

First, the relationship between a journalist and a source is so scared that the United States government has laws protecting it.  Reporters have served jail time rather than reveal their sources whom they vowed to protect at all costs. 

A different kind of source can often be found in police stations, office buildings and even inside private homes.  Countless cases of criminal activity, abuse, workplace corruption and various injustices have been stopped by people brave enough to speak up under the cloak of anonymity. 

One could argue that it is a journalist’s job to find the “source” who reported the Saints’ offenses to the league, resulting in one of the most extensive and harsh punishments in NFL history.  While it would serve virtually no purpose at this point, sure, revealing that person’s identity would be newsworthy.  On the other hand, as any journalist who claims to be more than just a TV talking head, who, dare I say studied the profession in college should know, sources and their information are to be used with great caution.  Aside from treading lighting to protect the source, a journalist must protect him or herself as well because anonymous sources are often wrong and unreliable. 

Journalists typically use the term “whistleblower,”  as the word implies dignity in telling a very hard truth in order to stop wrongdoing.  While perhaps shunned by peers, a whistleblower  is well-respected by others who understand the guts it takes to stand up and do what is right.

On the streets, in tougher neighborhoods than 280 Park Avenue, “snitch” is used to perpetuate negativity and shame, often preventing brave folks with morals from taking that final, frightening step necessary to stop criminal behavior. 

The league office is not an NYPD precinct.  A professional football field is not the corner store where s%$& goes down.  Using the term “snitch” in reference to a sports scandal is absolutely reckless. 

Outing a source is a delicate action that should be reserved for someone with foresight, hesitation and critical thinking that goes beyond dropping an info-bomb on your Twitter timeline.  

Shockey has tried just about everything to rid himself of the “snitch” stigma, including offering to participate in a polygraph test on live television and publishing a text message conversation with Sean Payton in which the suspended Saints head coach appears to absolve Shockey of any bounty-gate related sins.

But none of that matters because the damage has been done.  Shockey, a 10-year veteran already known for being outspoken (a euphemism in his case), will have a tough time getting picked up by another organization (he is a free agent) as players will fear that their secrets are no longer safe in the locker room, training room and other closed-door areas of team facilities. 

More importantly, outing the alleged source will prevent other players from coming forward and reporting infractions for fear of damage not only to their reputation but also to relationships with teammates and coaches.  Then there’s always retaliation and plenty of other unpleasantries associated with being a “snitch.”  p

It will be very interesting to watch how the fallout plays out in the court of public opinion, inside the league office, and out on the football field in the years to come. 

                       

The Goodell Hammer came down hard on the New Orleans Saints and head coach Sean Payton Wednesday in the wake of a bounty scandal causing a major commotion in the NFL. 

In punishing the coach-sponsored program in which Saints defensive players were paid varying cash rewards for injuring opposing players during games, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinforced his reputation as a stern disciplinarian who isn’t afraid to make an example of his subjects. 

Payton received a wealth of Goodell’s wrath, incurring a year-long suspension, making him the first head coach in NFL history to ever be suspended.  Former Saints and current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, Saints GM Mickey Loomis will be suspended for the first eight regular-season games without pay, Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt will sit out the first six games of the regular season and the team itself will be fined $500,000 along with forfeiting second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013. 

While the punishment is indeed historic given its severity, I actually think it could have been significantly worse for the Saints.  Given Goodell’s track record of harshly disciplining players who make mistakes off the field (see: Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Michael Vick, etc.), I expected the commissioner to perhaps do the unthinkable in attempts to quash an illegal practice that is, unfortunately, not unique to the Saints. 

I feared Goodell would vacate the team’s wins from 2009-2011, which would include the Saints incredible Super Bowl run.  Sure, “vacating wins” and taking something out of the record books doesn’t erase it from our memories, but the stench of corruption and shame alone is enough to want to forget something that once evoked such sweetness and pleasure. 

Sadly, a bounty program such as this is nothing new in the world of sports, but two things set the Saints apart from others who have engaged in such behavior: 

1)  The details of their pay-for-performance system were made painfully public
2)  They got caught during a transition period for the league in terms of heightened awareness of the medical dangers of football and the attempt at increasing safety measures in games.

Does the following sound conducive to making the game safer and trying to win lawsuits against former players suing the league?

"The NFL said the scheme involved 22 to 27 defensive players; targeted opponents included quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner," according to an ESPN.com article. " ‘Knockouts’ were worth $1,500 and ‘cart-offs’ $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.  According to the league, Saints defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any player who knocked then-Vikings QB Favre out of the 2010 NFC championship game."

Yikes.

Football is a violent sport and players are trained from an early age to embrace the brutality of the game, but with what we now know about the dangers of concussions, including the newly-discovered link between head trauma and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), somebody needs to step in and save these guys from themselves.

I appreciate the fact that Roger Goodell has the stones to do what’s best for the future of these young men, regardless of what the players, coaches, owners or fans think.  The league isn’t perfect, and yes, there are other ways in which ownership hurts players but at least this is a step in the right direction in one area of the game.  For that, I say ‘good job’ Goodell. 


Are the Saints serious? Slapping the franchise tag on Drew Brees is more of a slap in the face than if they were to just cut him loose and let him make the big bucks elsewhere. 

Despite my displeasure with New Orleans franchising Brees, the quarterback who led the franchise to its first ever Super Bowl victory, I see what drove them to do it as both sides put each other in this situation. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Brees is asking for a contract that pays him an average of $23 million per year while the Saints aren’t willing to top the $18 million per year mark.  Colts QB Peyton Manning is averaging $23 million per year over the first three years of his new contract (I know, let’s not even go there with P.Manning) while Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback is earning about $18 million annually over the lifetime of his contract, should he fulfill it, as is. 

On one hand, $23 million is a LOT of money.  It’s not like Brees can’t get by on $18 million per year.  But if we look beyond what seems like common sense to us average-earning Joes, it makes sense that Brees should earn a paycheck equivalent to that of Peyton Manning, a fellow top-tier quarterback (again, we will ignore Peyton’s neck issues for the purposes of this blog, and my sanity).  Heck, Brees beat Manning en route to Super Bowl 44 proving just how special of a quarterback he is.  Plus, it’s not like the Saints can’t afford to pay Brees that kind of money.  They can. 

I understand that because the two sides could not come to an agreement, the Saints feel it necessary to franchise Brees so he can’t go elsewhere which buys them not only Brees’ services for around $16 million (which will cost the Saints $14.4 million against the salary cap ), but gives them another year to try to get a deal done. 

Best case scenario for Brees is that this is a purely strategic move by the Saints and both sides can see it as a means to a happy end.  The franchise tag keeps him tethered to New Orleans during the off-season, thus buying time for Brees and Saints management to come to a long-term agreement before July 16.  At that point, franchised players can only sign 1-year contracts.

The worst case scenario paints an ugly picture of Saints management.  Putting Brees - a future Hall of Fame player who restored glory and respect to your franchise even before winning the Super Bowl - in a position to potentially suffer a career-ending injury with zero financial stability is shameful.  It’s an irresponsible decision that lacks even a hint of loyalty or morality. 

If the Saints somehow think that the last six seasons of success have been a fluke, or that the 33-year-old is on the decline (despite throwing 46 touchdown passes and a record-breaking 5476 yards passing in this last season), then they need to do some serious soul searching, quit any substances they may be abusing, and get a reality check.

I can appreciate the hesitation in doling out a multi-year deal worth this kind of money for ANYBODY.  I get it.  So if that is the issue, why not sign Brees to a two-year deal (with a third-year option) worth somewhere between $21-$23 million a year?  I would think both sides would agree to that.  In fact, it’s still a much better deal for the Saints than for Brees, but perhaps, with his sense of loyalty and love for that community, he might just take it?

Maybe not.  Either way, I feel like this has to be the worst possible outcome for Brees.  Sure, it’s great for the Saints but I’m shocked that they would pull this with a man that has truly meant so much to the city and its people. 

After turning down the Chargers’ contract offer heading into the 2006 season,  Brees only drew interest from a few teams on the open market as he was coming off of a gruesome shoulder injury that required surgery.  Brees went with the Saints and grateful for the opportunity, he took control of the team and the city the moment he set foot in the Big Easy, bringing happiness and spirit back to the region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.  Brees and his teammates never looked back, chugging away until they won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. 

Brees was a fixture of the players union during the lockout and it’s ironic that he could very well get screwed by this policy. 

You’d better believe we’re going to see a chippier Drew Brees in 2012.  I would play angry if my team did me like that, and while Brees certainly has nothing to prove, he does have millions of potential dollars on the line.

   

I know, Mardi Gras is a special celebration that transforms the city of New Orleans, its residents and thousands of tourists during the annual Carnival, but did it need to go this far?

Fat Tuesday turned butt ugly real fast as the Hornets donned the uniforms pictured above during their road game against the Indiana Pacers.  While purple, gold and green seem to blend well when strung together in a beaded necklace hanging around the neck of an intoxicated young lady on Bourbon Street, the same cannot be said for these wack-a-doodle NBA jerseys.  It’s hard to tell in the photos, but there is an intricate pattern printed in the yellow side panel of the jersey. 

The getup kind of reminded me of these guys:

 

I fully admire the Hornets for staying true to the traditions of their home town, but this tri-tone jersey is a fashion fail.  In the spirit of Mardi Gras, you get an “A” for effort NOLA, in terms of the attempt at being fashionably festive and nearly knocking off the Pacers in Indy.  The Hornets fell just short as the Pacers notched the 117-108 win in overtime. 

This game has all kinds of possibilities, so here’s my take on the Saints at 49ers game, posted on smacchat.com.  Click the heading above to read the article.

Mad Tiger Mom: Football Recruit Gets Punked By Mother On National TV For Committing To Alabama Instead Of LSU

The claws came out at the Under Armour High School Football All-America game, airing live on ESPN Thursday night as one young man learned a hard lesson about parents in front of the entire nation.

Landon Collins, a safety from Dutchtown High School in Geismar, LA  is ranked the No. 15 overall recruit in the country by Rivals.com, leaving him his choice of top schools.  For Collins, it came down to Alabama and LSU (of course) as the Louisiana-native, surrounded by his family, decided to verbally commit to Alabama on live television. 

Unfortunately for Collins, his mother was not happy about her son joining the Crimson Tide, and she sure wasn’t afraid to show it!  If you haven’t done so already, watch the video posted above…

How funny was that!?!? I’m assuming Collins and his mother had discussed his decision before that moment on live TV (at least I would hope so), thus he already knew she wasn’t exactly supportive of his choice. 

Going against a parent’s wishes, especially when it comes to a life-changing choice, can get pretty ugly, as Collins found out Thursday evening.  Mama Collins was so mad that she couldn’t even hide her disappointment and put on a united family front for the cameras, instead, throwing her son right under the bus! 

All of this begs the question, why did a kid from the state of Louisiana decide to leave home and a wildly successful program for the hated, out-of-state rival?

After watching that video, maybe Collins wants to get away from his mother for a while.  Plus, Baton Rouge is only 25 miles from Collins’ home town, and for many kids, college might be the only opportunity they have to leave home and go out on their own. 

My other guess, which is probably more realistic, is that Collins had more fun on his recruiting trip to Alabama.  Think about this logically:

Where would you rather live, Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge?  Who would you rather deal with every day for the next four years, Nick Saban or Les Miles?  What would you rather be, the Crimson Tide (whatever that means) or a Tiger? 

LSU seems like a no-brainer here, so surely, the fine folks at Alabama found a way to leave a lasting impression on Collins.

When I was a sophomore at the University of Arizona, my friends and I attended a house party one Friday evening where one of my friends proceeded to drink a little too much.  She ended up making out with a high school senior who was in town for his official recruiting visit, in front of about 100 party guests.  If that wasn’t bad enough, under the influence of alcohol, the two ended up stumbling during the make out session and falling to the ground, which was absolutely hysterical.  Thankfully, nobody was injured.  This was a classic moment that we still talk about, and that young recruit committed to Arizona because he made out with a college girl on his trip!  I kid you not. 

Common sense would say that more important factors should dictate where you choose to spend your college/athletic career, but if you think back to when you were an 18-year-old, girls and partying were probably near the top of your list of priorities. 

What force is strong enough to convince a teenager to leave the New Orleans area and willingly endure the wrath of his mother, all in one fell swoop?  My gut tells me the tide was awfully strong in Tuscaloosa the weekend Landon Collins came to town.  Sorry Mom!

           

Not only will he not play against No. 13 Michigan in Tuesday’s BCS Sugar Bowl, but Virginia Tech spared little expense when sending its senior kicker Tyler Weiss home to Roanoke on a bus.  Yes, 833 miles on a bus.  OUCH.

What did the young fellow do to deserve a one-way ticket out of Crescent City? He was nowhere to be found when a coach came to his hotel room for 1:00 a.m. bed check Thursday morning. 

What exactly was Weiss doing in lieu of being tucked in on time?  We don’t know, but whatever it was clearly didn’t qualify as appropriate, otherwise I’m sure the coaches would’ve cut him some slack had he a legitimate excuse for missing curfew. 

Perhaps he wasn’t living it up on Bourbon Street, but I kind of hope he was, because whatever he was doing better have been worth missing the final game of his collegiate career.

As for the Hokies kicking game, this Weiss kid was the backup until being promoted last week when Cody Journell, the starting kicker was suspended following an arrest.  Why was Journell arrested you ask?  Only for a felony stemming from an alleged home invasion of a Hokie basketball player!

From roanoke.com, Journell and two others are, “accused of entering the house of Dorenzo Hudson and Sean Allen with a weapon [gun], with the intent to commit larceny, assault and battery, or another felony, according to warrants… the three showed up at Hudson and Allen’s residence last night because they said Allen [the resident] stole marijuana from Dunton [one of the three suspects],” according to the website’s reporting based on court testimony.

Clearly, the backup kicker Weiss, who missed the only field goal he attempted this season (a 29-yarder)  has nothing on Journell, either on the field or on a rap sheet.

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer told the Associated Press, “My kickers are not bad guys. They just made bad decisions. And young people do that.”

Not sure if you qualify as a good guy after attempting an armed robbery inside someone’s home over drugs, but perhaps I’m just being judgmental. 

Anyway, the 11th-ranked (BCS) Hokies are now left with kickoff specialist Justin Myer to be responsible for putting points on the board.  Myer missed his only two attempts of the season, but they weren’t gimmes at 57 and 53 yards.  Coach Beamer told the AP that his punter Michael Branthover and a redshirt freshman Conor Goulding could earn a shot at the kicking gig during practices leading up to the big game.