Category Archives: Articles

Why Do We Vilify Certain Athletes?

Let me say right off the bat that this blog is not necessarily about Colin Kaepernick.  But the situation did remind me of this topic, which I’ve been meaning to discuss for awhile.  I wasn’t necessarily surprised by the coverage Kaepernick got (late summer is a slow period for sports), but more so by the public backlash.  Perhaps patriotism isn’t as dead as I thought.  But, it’s very interesting how media and society pick and choose the athletes that they scrutinize.  There are athletes who do something wrong, yet the punishment in the court of public opinion doesn’t fit the crime.  They are destroyed for acts that, in the grand scheme of things, are not that big of a deal.  Then there are athletes that can do no wrong, where their popularity and charisma trumps all.

 

A-Rod vs. Big Papi

 

Alex Rodriguez

For much of his career, Rodriguez was the most hated man in baseball.  He was booed out of every stadium, at times even his home stadium.  A-Rod took steroids and damaged the integrity of the game.  He fought the system hard knowing very well he was guilty.  However, whether you cite the Mitchell Report or the Biogenesis scandal it’s clear that hundreds of players used performance enhancing drugs.  But Rodriguez, perhaps unfairly, became the poster boy for PEDs.  A-Rod supporters called it a witch hunt.  Rodriguez mentored young players like Robinson Cano and Aaron Judge.  He had an intense passion for the game and was known to stay up after games watching MLB teams on the west coast play. But tabloids like the one shown below would never mention that.

arod

 

David Ortiz

Ortiz’s name was also linked to steroid use .  For whatever reason it is overlooked by most fans.  Big Papi is retiring at the end of the season and in the meantime is enjoying a farewell tour when visiting opposing ballparks.  This particular steroid user is being showered with gifts as he bids adieu to the game of baseball.  Ortiz is a beloved baseball personality and appears in numerous commercials.  But in the end, is he any less guilty than A-Rod?

 

 

Lebron vs. Kobe

 

LeBron James

LeBron will never live down The Decision.  The Decision was a special ESPN broadcast in which LeBron would decide where he would ‘take his talents.’  After carrying the likes of Larry Hughes, Mo Williams, and Daniel Gibson deep into the playoffs, he announced that he would now play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  For this he was considered a traitor to his hometown of Cleveland and arrogant for making his choice on live TV.  This led to infamous jersey burnings and backlash among many fans, not just those in Cleveland.

When you step back and analyze the situation, the hate for Lebron is outrageous.  The talent around James in Cleveland was absolutely horrendous, so he decided to play with his All-Star buddies in Miami.  By the way, The Decision TV broadcast raised $2.5 million for charity, but that’s not an interesting headline or news story.  Lebron married his high school sweetheart and has three kids.  You never hear about adulterous behavior or quite frankly any bad behavior with Lebron.  He is one of the most charitable and philanthropic athletes in the league.

 

Kobe Bryant

The Kobe Bryant sexual assault case and the Kobe-Shaq feud each have their own Wikipedia page.  But again, it’s another example of athlete scandals that are forgotten.  He wasn’t always considered the best teammate, perhaps a victim of his own work-ethic and competitiveness.  But that’s not what we remember.  We remember 81 points against Toronto, 60 points in his final game, five NBA titles, 18 All-Star appearances, and a slam dunk title.  It’s clear that Kobe’s transgressions greatly outweigh Lebron’s, but wouldn’t you agree that Kobe is by far the more popular athlete?

 

 

 

T.O. vs. Marvin Harrison

 

Terrell Owens

T.O. was loud, obnoxious, polarizing, and a bad teammate.  Say what you want about Owens, but he never got in trouble off the field (sans for child support payments, apparently the dude is broke).  No DUIs, no domestic violence, no drugs, always showed up in shape and ready to perform.  Football players like Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger are often praised for their toughness, but what is often forgotten is that Owens caught nine passes in the Super Bowl just weeks after breaking his leg.  He was killed by fans for his tendency to drop passes, choosing to ignore the fact that he often played games with broken fingers.

 

Marvin Harrison

I originally had Ray Lewis as the opposition for Owens, but I’m going to do you one better.  The Ray Lewis murder story is well-documented, but not everyone knows about Marvin Harrison’s troubles.  Marvin Harrison has been linked to the murder of Dwight Dixon, which was chronicled in this ESPN E:60 piece.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Znv-Pm5bRuA

Harrison and Owens are linked because both are elite wide receivers that were eligible for the hall of fame this past year.  Harrison was elected despite being widely considered the inferior player.  Owens has more receiving yards and touchdowns than Harrison, and played with lesser Quarterback talent.  Numbers aside, the ‘eye test’ would show that Owens was a more dominant and game changing player than Harrison.

 

 

 

DC vs. Bones Jones

 

Daniel Cormier – Criticized for a boring style of fighting.  Respected by his peers, talented analyst for Fox Sports, but guaranteed to be booed if his face is shown during an event perhaps due to his rivalry with the next man on this list.

 

Jon Jones – Hit a pregnant woman’s car and fled the scene.  Failed drug tests for cocaine and PEDS.  Refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice which led to the cancellation of UFC 151, the first event to ever be cancelled.  Yet still one of the most popular fighters in the sport.

 

 

 

Tebow vs. Manning 

 

Tim Tebow – One of the most polarizing figures in sports due to his faith and unusual style of play.  Someone unfamiliar with Tebow may assume that he is polarizing because he pushes his Christian beliefs to the public, but he really doesn’t do that.  He is the MVP of intangibles; great person, teammate, charitable, hard worker, and leader.  Let’s be honest, Tebow probably should be on an NFL roster.  The read-option formation is still heavily used, and despite not having the greatest mechanics Tebow is still a threat to both run and pass.  However, the media coverage that comes with Tebow scares most teams away (aside from perhaps the Atlanta Braves).

 

Peyton Manning – Everyone loves Peyton Manning.  He’s one of the best Quarterbacks ever.  He’s funny, charming, and in every TV commercial known to man.  When he was accused of having HGH sent to his house under his wife’s name, it got ZERO attention.  Whether it’s true or not is almost irrelevant, but this is a perfect example of how the media controls what we deem as important.  If HGH was sent to Tom Brady, do you think it would be ignored?

5 Things We Can Learn From Tim Duncan

He tallied 19 and 5, shook hands with the opponent, and walked off.  Is there not a more appropriate way for Tim Duncan to end his career?  There was no Kobe/Jeter farewell tour for ‘The Big Fundamental’, nor did he want one.  The best power forward of all time knew he was just that, and knew he didn’t have to gloat about it.  Let’s take time to reflect on a great career, especially considering he’s the type of guy to fade into the sunset and never hear from again (although I think he may coach one day).

 

 

1. Loyalty Still Pays Off

How ironic that a guy who played his entire 19 year career with one team retires just days after Kevin Durant signs with the Warriors.  This isn’t a shot at Durant (okay yes it is), but the free agency era in sports has all but killed loyalty.  The Reggie Millers, Dirk Nowitzkis, and John Stocktons of the world are rare.  Duncan not only spent his entire career in San Antonio, but took a pay cut on numerous occasions so the team would be competitive.  Safe to say that it worked out, as the Spurs never experienced a losing season and won five championships during the Duncan era.

 

 

2. Bet On Your Strengths

Low post skills, passing, defense, bank shots.  Duncan played in a unique era.  That skill set was vital for a big man in the 90’s, but is almost nonexistent in today’s game.  Yet he never changed.  Maybe he started shooting a few more mid range jumpers but all-in-all, his game stayed the same.  I’d say it worked out, 15 All-Star appearances doesn’t lie.

 

 

3. The Game is Mental

Duncan has a degree in Psychology and believed that emotion was a sign of weakness on the basketball court.  He was notorious for complaining about foul calls, but aside from that you’d be hard pressed to get anything more than a fist pump out of him.  This doesn’t mean he wasn’t a master of psychological warfare.  Check out the look on his face when Dwight Howard gets ejected, after Duncan had dominated him for an entire playoff series.

duncanlaugh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Good Guys Still Win

Tell me one time Tim Duncan has been arrested, fought with a teammate, got a coach fired, showed up to camp out of shape, or had a bad contract negotiation.  In a world where many athletes are exposed as douchebags, Duncan is truly a classy person.  Ask his teammates.  More importantly, ask his opponents.

 

 

5.  Be True To Yourself

Ever see a fighter try to hype up a fight, but it comes off as robotic and awkward?  It’s just not them.  Duncan is one of the top ten players of all time.  Yeah he had some endorsements, but this guy could have made ridiculous money in sponsorships.  He chose not to because it’s not what he is about.  He’s not on social media.  He wears plain clothing.  He plays Dungeons and Dragons (that’s not a joke).

 

 

Kudos on a great career Tim, despite beating my Knicks in 5 in the 1999 finals.  To conclude, I leave you all with this video.

 

15 Athletes Who Showed That Perseverance Pays Off

Hard work still counts for something.  It may be cliche to say things like ‘this is what makes sports great’ when stories like these are told, but it does humanize the athletes we look up to.  Perseverance matters when the talent levels are so close.  This list is in no particular order and focuses on the current era of sports.

 

1. Michael Bisping (UFC Fighter) – Considered a gatekeeper for most of his career; a talented top ten fighter who was never good enough to contend for a title.  Unfortunately for Bisping, many of his losses were against fighters who later popped for performance enhancing drugs.  If that’s not enough, he competes with a detached retina that severely compromises his vision.  Recently, he stepped in for Chris Weidman and defeated Luke Rockhold for the UFC Middleweight title despite being a 5-1 underdog.

 

2. James Harrison (Steelers LB) – Cut three times by the Pittsburgh Steelers and once by the Baltimore Ravens before finally making the team.  Went on to win Defensive Player of the Year and become a 4 time All-Pro.  By the way, he was a walk-on in college as well.

 

3.  Tyrann Mathieu (Cardinals S) – Kicked off LSU team and undoubtedly would have been a top ten draft pick.  Cardinals took a chance and selected him in the third round.  Named first team All Pro in 2015 despite having torn his ACL twice in his career.

 

4. Dominick Cruz (UFC Fighter) – Considered the best bantamweight mixed martial arts fighter in the world for much of his career.  Vacated title after three ACL tears and one groin tear.  Came back and recently defeated T.J. Dillashaw to reclaim his championship.

 

5. Kyle Busch (Nascar Driver) – Broke his leg in an accident before the 2015 season and missed the first 11 races.  Somehow manages to qualify for the ‘chase’, Nascar’s version of their playoffs, despite all the missed time.  Ends up going on a tear and wins the championship.

 

6. Stephon Marbury (Basketball) – Enjoyed individual success as an NBA player.  Never considered a winner and was known to feud with coaches.  The New York Daily News called him the most reviled athlete ever in New York.  Plays professional basketball in China and becomes a three time champion.  I get it, big deal it’s China.  It’s an inferior product.  But Marbury is basically a Chinese folk hero.  There is a museum and statue in his honor.  Recently he received a Chinese Green Card, which is extremely rare for a foreigner.

 

7. Eric Berry (Chiefs S) – Diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma after complaining of chest pain.  Beats the disease and comes back to become a 1st team All-Pro.

 

8. Jeremy Lin (Nets PG) – No scholarship offers coming out of high school and went undrafted coming out of college.  Waived by Golden State and Houston before signing with the Knicks.  Epitomized the notion of ‘first man in, last man out’ at practices and meetings.  Inserted into a game against Boston out of sheer desperation and Linsanity was born.

 

9. Willis McGahee (NFL RB) – Suffered one of the most notoriously gruesome injuries in football history at Miami University.  Went on to a successful NFL career, making the Pro Bowl twice.

 

10. Artie Burns (Steelers CB) – Father is in jail and mother died.  Legally adopted his two younger brothers and was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.

 

11. Kurt Warner (NFL QB) – Warner’s story is well-documented.  Undrafted and cut by the Packers in training camp.  Stocked grocery store shelves and played arena football.  Signed with the Rams as a backup.  Trent Green gets injured early in the preseason 1999, Warner takes over, wins both league MVP and the Super Bowl.

 

12. Lance Armstrong (Cyclist) – Performance enhancing stuff aside, Armstrong beat cancer after only being given a 20% chance to live and ended up winning 7 Tour de France titles.

 

13. Carson Palmer (Cardinals QB) – Led Bengals to first winning season in 15 years, but tears multiple ligaments in his knee in the playoffs.  The injury was thought to be career threatening.  Has a career resurgence in Arizona years later, but tears his ACL again.  The next season ends up being his best ever, throwing 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

 

14. Rod Woodson (Hall of Fame CB/S) – Tore his ACL week one in 1995.  Proclaims he would return months later despite the recovery time averaging one year.  Bill Cowher keeps a roster spot open for him just in case he is true to his word.  Returns for Super Bowl 30 when the Steelers faced the Cowboys.  He is the first player to ever return from an ACL tear in the same season.

 

15. Adrian Peterson (Vikings RB) – Tore ACL, came back the next year to win MVP and missed beating the rushing record by nine yards.

 

The Value of Being Overlooked

Marques Colston was a seventh round pick from the now defunct Hofstra University football team.
Marques Colston was a seventh round pick from the now defunct Hofstra University football team.

It’s the sixth round and you’re on the clock.  You need a wide receiver and your draft board has dwindled down to two players.  One guy is from a college football powerhouse, like an SEC or Big Ten school.  He’s played against elite talent his entire career.  He was a 5 star recruit coming out of high school and had offers from some of the top colleges in the nation.  Every week he played on a major TV network viewed by millions.  Even some casual college football fans recognize the name because they’ve seen him on ESPN or ABC dozens of times.

The other guy, not so much.  He’s certainly talented, that’s why he’s on your draft board in the first place.  Maybe he played in a league like Conference USA or the MAC.  Decent teams, but not going up against the Ohio States and Alabamas of the college football world.  He might have played for an FCS school, which is an even lower level of competition.  Can he handle going up against NFL caliber talent?

Here’s why I take the second guy every time: there’s something to be said about a person who’s been overlooked.  You can’t quantify the importance of having a chip on your shoulder.  The SEC star has had scouts watching him since he was a high school freshman.  He’s played, practiced, and worked out in world class facilities.  The FCS player is doing anything to get noticed, hell he might have even been a walk-on in the first place.  There’s an anger and frustration within him.  He’s dying to prove everyone wrong.

In an effort to prove my theory that sometimes small > big, I was hoping to find a few examples from previous NFL drafts.  It didn’t take much searching.  I was overwhelmed with how often the guy from a lower level school outperformed his counterpart from a powerhouse college.

The criteria:

  • 2 athletes that play the same position.  1 from a small school, 1 from a well-known college football school
  • Taken in later rounds
  • The picks are very close to each other.  I want to truly simulate a scenario where it’s down to Player A or Player B.  If I compare a round 4 pick to a round 7 pick that’s not proving the point.
  • The smaller school player greatly outperforms the larger school player in his NFL career

2003 Draft

Pick #131 – Jamaal Green – Miami U. – 1 career NFL sack

Pick #138 – Robert Mathis – Alabama A&M – 118 career NFL sacks

Note:  Keep in mind this was during the early 2000’s when Miami was dominating college football.

 

2006 Draft

Pick #249 – Ben Obomanu – Auburn – 88 career rec. and 7 TDs

Pick #252 – Marques Colston – Hofstra – 711 career rec. and 72 TDs

Note:  Obomanu actually had a nice career for a 7th rounder.  But Colston’s production throughout his career was ridiculous.  He was Drew Brees’ go-to-guy for many years.  To give you an idea of how insignificant Hofstra’s football team is, the program was completely terminated in 2009.

 

2007 Draft

Pick #246 – Kenneth Darby – Alabama – 2 career TDs

Pick #250 – Ahmad Bradshaw – Marshall – 48 career TDs and 2 Super Bowl Rings

 

2008 Draft

Pick #191 – Paul Hubbard – Wisconsin – 1 career NFL catch

Pick #205 – Pierre Garcon – Mount Union – 485 career NFL catches

If I gave you ten guesses, you couldn’t tell me what state Mount Union college is in.  Don’t worry, I couldn’t either.

 

2009 Draft

Pick #229 – Manuel Johnson – Oklahoma – 1 career NFL catch

Pick #232 – Julian Edelman – Kent State – 327 career NFL catches

Note: Edelman was not even invited to the NFL combine.

 

2012 Draft

Pick #124 – Ron Brooks – LSU – 0 career INTs

Pick #143 – Josh Norman – Coastal Carolina – 7 career INTs, 1st Team All-Pro, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL at the moment

 

This blog is not about guys like Tom Brady.  Yes he was overlooked by NFL scouts, was a sixth round pick, and went on the become one of the best Quarterbacks ever.  But Brady went to Michigan, a legendary college football school.  That means he was heavily scouted throughout high school.  This also isn’t negating the idea that players from schools like Texas or USC have great careers.  Of course they do.  They have insane talent and desire.  This blog is about the guys who had to scratch and claw their way to get noticed by any scout.  The guys who have SOME talent, but truly had to develop skills to be great.  There is something special about the mentality of a guy who doesn’t get the respect he deserves.

Next time your team is on the clock in the later rounds and they take the dude from Abilene Christian that you’ve never heard of, reserve your judgment until you see realize he’s truly made of.

How Shane McMahon and The Undertaker Illustrated that Mindfulness is Dead

shanemindful

In the above photo, Shane McMahon performs an elbow drop off the top of the hell in a cell structure as The Undertaker moves away at the last moment.  It was probably the most memorable moment of this year’s Wrestlemania.  As you can see, the cell is quite high and jumping off is both a daring and legitimately death-defying stunt.  But the purpose of this blog is to draw your attention to the crowd.  What do you see?  Thousands of phones trying to capture this moment.  Capturing the moment is not living the moment.  In fact, it’s the opposite.

The purpose of photographing or filming an event is to relive it at a later moment.  But how can you relive something that you never experienced in the first place?  At the time, you never truly absorbed Shane jumping off that cell.  You were looking through a lens and focused on steadying your phone.  We’ve lost our ability to enjoy the present moment.

Basketball is also a great representation of this because the fans are so close to the court.  The next time a game comes down to the final possession take a look at the crowd.  How many are filming?  How many are truly watching?  It’s pretty sad when you think about it.  Spending thousands of dollars on a courtside seat and not enjoying the best moment.  Filming a buzzer beater is the equivalent of watching it on the concession stand TV while waiting for your dippin dots.

Next time you’re at an event and have a feeling that something big is about to happen, just watch and enjoy it.  Focus your attention on that moment; live it and let your body feel it.  Accept the fact that it will happen once and once only.  The feeling of that moment outweighs a snapchat every time.