Plenty of football this time of the year, so enjoy three scorching football takes.
Happy Wednesday. For most of you reading this, it’s your first full week back in the office of 2017. The back-to-back 4-day weeks have come and gone, and it’s back to five days of the same old shit. Luckily, I’m still slaving away over a hot laptop pumping out the same shenanigans with a different spin every week. I’m dedicated to the craft, what can I say.
I’m tackling – no pun intended, three football takes this week, along with some basketball and hockey. Give last week’s column a gander, and let’s dive headfirst into this edition.
1. The sea-wary New York Giants have some ‘splaining to do
I know this one will get a 500-word response from Brendan, so that’s why I’m leading off my column with this take. Now before you bite my head off, let me explain what I mean by saying this. Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz et. al. going on the boat had no physical impact on their performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Wildcard round.
BUT, it did affect their preparation, mindset, and overall attitude when it came to their one-and-done performance in the playoffs.
A flight from New York to Miami is about three hours. On an off day, NFL players are welcome to do what they want. Some golf, some hit the weight room, others study film and even others party. That’s on them, that’s their call and prerogative.
But the irresponsibility of the boat gang to choose the week of their first playoff game in five years to go for a booze cruise with Justin Bieber tells me that their minds weren’t in the right place. The wide receivers – who had a pretty putrid performance, led by the ringleader Beckham – liked the idea of some partying in warmer weather. What should they have been doing? How about catching some extra balls, or going over some film?
You would hope that a franchise that’s constantly forced down your throat as one of the “model organizations” of the league would have players dedicated and focused on their craft after a half-decade postseason absence. Instead, you have photos and audio circulating of some of the team’s biggest stars living it up before the real season begins.
That sends a shitty message to your teammates, coaches and fans that you’re more concerned about that. And while sure, golly-gee Eli Manning can make his Dad-jokes that we love, but he should be furious at that group. They put their desire to live it up for a night over the common goal.
Hopefully, those players can enjoy their offseason full of partying. That is if they don’t find any holes in their plans.
Editor’s note: *Sighs deeply*
2. There’s no more dysfunctional team in sports than the New York Knicks
I had a discussion with Brendan the other day about the Derrick Rose disappearance, and we came to a pretty concrete conclusion. Rose going missing unannounced before the Knicks contest against the Pelicans on Monday night was only the tip of the iceberg on a strange night for the New York basketball franchise. Noted team player Carmelo Anthony got tossed, and the Knicks fell to a New Orleans team that suck outside of Anthony Davis.
In the words of Vince Lombardi: “What the hell is going on out here?” Holy shit does this team smell. Your big-name acquisition is literally missing and noncommunicable about it, you’re in trouble. When your best player is getting tossed for two technical fouls, you’re screwed. And when you’re run by Phil Jackson without any real power because of a terrible owner, you’re in full-blown panic mode.
The Knicks are a bad reality television series with some basketball thrown in. You’re one of the most recognizable franchises on the planet, and you’re wasting away into obscurity on the court while your off-court news is dominating the headlines. Like seriously, how does this happen?
Things aren’t getting better for that franchise anytime soon either. Kristaps Porzingis is a star, but with nobody around him, that team, for a better word, is fucked. Good luck playing at the mecca of basketball when the team blows year after year. What a trainwreck the New York Knicks have become. And yet, I can’t seem to look away.
Editor’s note: Outside of losing a significant player to injury/free agency or the club folding/moving, has a team ever had a worse night than the Knicks did on Monday? Their star PG was MIA, and not just like sick or dealing with a family situation no one would comment on. Coach Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t even comment on whether or not he knew Rose was safe. And the stress showed on the court, as the team’s second-best player, Carmelo Anthony (that’s a hot-take for a different time), got kicked out, as did Colin O’Quinn. They also lost that contest to the Pelicans despite Anthony Davis leaving the game in the third quarter to injury. When Rose was found safe, the rumor mill started that his absence was due to a personal problem—a personal problem with someone on the coaching staffs. The strangest/worst day for an organization in recent memory, and it just feels like another day in Knicks-land. What’s that Run The Jewels line, “Death by electrocution is like life in New York, isn’t it?” Sounds about right.
3. There was absolutely no flow to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game
It’s really hard not to sound like Grandpa Simpson yelling at the cloud on this one, but I think this is a pretty reasonable take. Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game (hereby shortened to CFP NCG) between Alabama and Clemson, although an outstanding football game, took way too fucking long. The game kicked off around 8:15 PM EST. The final play didn’t come until after 12:20 EST. Four quarters of football, without overtime, filled up over four hours of airtime. That is inexcusable.
The broadcast by ESPN is a whole other discussion, but the lack of flow in that game was mind-numbing. Seemingly whenever either team, but especially Clemson, got a big play, the game was brought to a screeching half by a booth-ordered replay. I commend Kirk Herbstreit for not hiding his frustration on the matter, as he vocalized multiple times how the Tigers wanted to play with pace but were forced to wait for a replay.
Yes, getting the calls right is important. But, we don’t need a replay every handful of plays to determine if a player kept the tip of the football off the turf on a 12-yard reception. Or if a quarterback was pushed out at the 1 or 1/2 yard line. There’s a human element to every sport, and that’s how it should be. To watch that game drag on for hours took away from the fact that it was a hell of a football battle.
I thought it was rather fitting that what appeared to be the final play of the game and ultimately the college football season needed a three-minute review. The average viewer could tell that the Clemson kicker clearly recovered the football past the required 10-yard distance and that there was one second remaining on the clock. Watching the swarms of people get pushed off the field for a final play after the review put a bow on the clusterfuck of a game that took place.
Editor’s note: It was the best game that two-thirds of the Eastern Seaboard ever saw the highlights of. And that’s college football’s problem, at least with so many people in the part of the country Tim and I call home. Devoid of any powerhouse teams within a five-hour drive, Northeastern football fans are almost always on the outside looking in during College Football season. With the country’s premier teams (including one on the East coast) facing off in a rematch for the ages, the game went on through the night. As much as I hate to agree with Tim, surely there’s a way to avoid this.
4. It’s good to see concussion spotters are doing a fine job in college football
It was pretty damn evident early on that Clemson and Alabama were going to be playing a physical contest in the CFP NCG. Deshaun Watson got unloaded on with a clear hit with the crown of a helmet on the first drive of the game. Shortly thereafter, teammate Mike Williams was railroaded with a hit to the head that took him out of the game.
I’m no medical professional, but both players saw Tweety birds around their head after mammoth hits. And, if science taught me anything, the hitter in those instances, who is using the helmet as a weapon and a clear example of targeting, should probably be feeling some headaches during that game. I can’t even count how many players were dazed and confused in that game.
Football is a violent sport, but holy shit was that game above and beyond. I want big hits in football, but I also want these independent observers and team doctors recognizing that their players are in no way healthy enough to be put back into the game that quickly. It was concerning to see Watson stay in the game the entire time, and Williams come back immediately after multiple massive hits.
I’m not a fan of either team, but that was a bad look for college football as a whole to miss several, blatant targeting penalties and players with clear head issues.
Editor’s note: I think at the end of the day, football leagues, amateur and professional, need to get spotters off a team’s sideline. Even if they aren’t officially employed by the team, being surrounded by 150 people, many of whom are rather intimidating figures, is not exactly conducive to making an informed and independent decision. Put them in the Press Box or some other location away from anyone with a vested interest in the game, with a good view and a television so they can see a replay. Then, remove the player from the sidelines the very first time he’s evaluated, so the doctors can do their jobs in a controlled environment. The longer we keep up with this concussion checking charade on the sidelines, the longer we’ll see things like this keep happening.
5. The NHL All-Star teams don’t embrace the new powers in the league
Similar to my take about outdoor hockey, we saw the same thing occur with the selection of the NHL All-Star teams this week, and there are plenty of familiar faces on the teams. To no surprise, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are representing the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Metropolitan Division. That’s rightfully so.
My main complaint is with, you guessed it, the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago has two legitimate All Stars in Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Both those guys are studs and have been forever. But Jonathan Toews, with seven goals and 13 assists, has no business being an All-Star this year. He’s a face of the league, but he’s not deserving of the honor. And then you have Corey Crawford, again, getting chosen. Four guys from the same team for a format that chooses 11 players per division. Come on now.
If you needed another Blackhawk, pick Artemi Panarin. But how about someone else from the Central Division? Try growing the game in new markets and not force-feeding Chicago down our throats.
And how about the fucking the Columbus Blue Jackets received? The best team in the NHL, who just reeled off 16-straight wins, only have one All-Star? How the hell does that happen? Columbus and Minnesota are two of the best stories of the NHL season, and they have a combined three representatives headed to Los Angeles later this month.
The league can still push the start power of Crosby, Kane, Ovechkin and the like, but let’s honor those that deserve it and reward the teams having stellar seasons and send multiple players from those cities to be rightfully showcased.
Editor’s note: *Sees Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo on the All-Star roster, sighs deeply*
6. Camel of the Week: Odell Beckham
This one hurts, so we’re going to make it quick. No, Odell Beckham et. al’s partying on the boat did not affect their performance on the field—the game took place almost a week after they did whatever they did. No, there was nothing wrong with parading around Lambeau Field shirtless to pump the receiving corp up before a big game. You do you, guys, by all means.
And there’s also nothing wrong with Odell proclaiming he wants to be considered among the best of all time. A little ambition never hurt anyone, and probably helped a whole lot of people. So by all means, Odell, become the greatest, especially while wearing the NY on the helmet.
But before you do, make sure you realize how it looks. Is it fair if Beckham and his buds have to deal with ridiculous questions at press conferences or soliloquies from sports radio heads about where their priorities are? Of course not.
But what is fair is to expect him to realize he is living a public life, and to be aware that his actions as part of that public life are going to affect how he’s perceived on the field. Beckham knows he has a public life, and by all signs, wants one (you don’t do Pepsi and Head and Shoulders commercials if you want to live a quiet life with yourself). That’s all well and good, but if that’s the life he chooses, then he has to deal know that this is the result.
He could have gone to Miami and not documented it—but he wanted to live a public life. That’s his choice to make, and more power to him for having the talent and work ethic to be able to make that choice. But deciding on a life lived in the public eye means dealing with embracing the criticism that comes with it too, not just the glory.
That’ll do it for me. I may not be the resident stathead or much of a numbers guy, but I do want to say I’m the only Chin Music contributor who went 4-0 on Wild Card weekend. I’ll be back next week with some more hot takes for your Wednesday reading enjoyment. Follow Tim on Twitter@culvey13 and Brendan @murraysporttalk for more.