Thoughts regarding sports and mentoring.
Caution: Severe Tennessee Titan, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Cubs, and Scott Stallings bias.

Weekly Block – Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

June 29th, 2011 | 2 comments

Each Wednesday, the Weekly Block will cover everything that matters in the world of sports.  To me.

1. Scott Stallings (81st on the PGA Tour money list)

If you have not heard about this rising star, it is probably because PGA tournament coverage is in serious need of an overhaul.  With Tiger Woods in the clubhouse, the Tour has never been more in need of a fresh spark to maintain their high viewer ratings. Solution?  Take the cameras off those pricey towers and put more cameras in groups. Check Scott out on Bnet.com or follow him on twitter @stallingsgolf.

2. Chicago Cubs (32-47)(4th NL Central)

Yes, I am one of the tortured fans of everyone’s lovable losers.  Although the future looks bright with rumors of the Cubs bringing big-time slugger Albert Pujols to the Windy City, losing 2 out of 3 to the Kansas City Royals is unbearable.  Face it Wrigley faithful, the 2011 season is over.  Starting pitching is abysmal (average ERA above 4.00) and the Cubs are on pace for 100 losses.  (Sigh).

3. Memphis Grizzlies (Draft Josh Selby 49th overall in NBA Draft)

The good news is Selby was once considered a top overall recruit.  The bad news is that Selby was once considered a top overall recruit.  The NCAA suspension is not necessarily a bad omen, especially considering Memphis’ most recent turnaround success story, Zach Randolph.  But, the hasty departure from Kansas and troubling statistics from his lone season mean his work will be cut out for him to stay.

4. Tennessee Titans (Troubled Titans)

In news of the bizarre, Titans receiver Damian Williams successfully assisted police catch his alleged assault victim in an attempt to extort money from him.  Williams assault charge has been dropped and the woman extorting him has been charged.  In the public eye, professional athletes are often times guilty until proven innocent.  Which is exactly why they should always exhibit excessive caution.

5. Final Block (Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems)

The world of business and sports are in the midst of the biggest crisis in my lifetime.  Between the NFL labor dispute, a looming NBA lockout, the complete financial collapse of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and rampant money scandals rewriting sports history books, I have had enough.

Despite a floundering economy, the American sports industry generally (MLS and WNBA, aside) continues to explode with profit and interest.  So here is a quick message to all those involved in ridiculous and litigious lunacy.

To Owners / School Administrators: You are not the only ones who assume risk in this business.  Pay the players (yes, college players, too).  When they are happy and performing, you get richer and win trophies.  It is just good business.

To Players: Spend (and save) your money wisely and discreetly.  And do not be afraid to call out peers that do not!  Most of you work too hard to let this foolish few spoil a good thing.  Show owners and fans you respect their support.

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Becoming a Lead Blocker

June 27th, 2011 | 1 comment

Few football fans will ever forget these names.

Emmitt Smith.
LaDanian Tomlinson.
Walter Payton.
Barry Sanders.

Sadly, fewer will remember these names.

Daryl Johnston.
Lorenzo Neal.
Roland Harper.
Tommy Vardell.

Before Smith could rush for the most yards ever, Tomlinson could rush for the most TDs in a season, Payton could dazzle in the open field, or Sanders could receive the accolades of a back that made plays “all by himself,” were these anonymous professionals paving the way.

With the NFL shifting away from utilizing fullbacks as a lead blockers, it should come as no surprise that the era of the featured back (runningback that rushes the majority of the time for their team) is coming to a close.  Without these critical backfield blockers, backs like Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson are forced to rely on their own physical abilities (neither of which are in short supply).

Now the burden of lead blocking falls to men off the field.  Coaches, coordinators, and scouts create plays that deceive the defense, capitalize on weaknesses, and reveal tendencies of individual opponents.  This strategic game of chess can sometimes be the difference between a 2-yard and an 82-yard touchdown run.

Preparing for the transition from high school to adulthood is often more complicated and competitive than the average NFL defense, especially for young athletes expected to navigate complex commitments and avoid negative influences lined up to devour them.

Personal mentoring like lead blocking, can pave the way for these young men and women to succeed both on and off the field.  Next month, I will launch a non-profit mentoring initiative called The Lead Block – a movement that leads the way for young athletes to score their destiny, regardless of where that path may lead.

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