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

Best Red – Bess Friends

September 30th, 2011 | Comments Off on Best Red – Bess Friends

Every Friday, Best Red will list the best sports articles (or videos) of the week.

1. Facebook ‘Em, Dano
Courtesy of Cameron Smith, Rivals.com, and Brad Ervin

It is difficult to pinpoint what is the saddest part of this news story. The forfeited games, the parent condoned deception, or the way in which it was all discovered.

2. Bitter Sweetness
Courtesy of Chris Chase and Yahoo! Sports

Sometimes we forget that athletes are human beings. A new biography of Walter Payton will share some of the darker stories and themes in the life an NFL legend.

3. Bess Friends
Courtesy of Jason Cole and Yahoo! Sports

If you are not fan of Davone Bess (@davonebess), you should be NFL fan. Check out his story and give his website a visit to learn more about the Bess Route Foundation.

 

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Titan Thursday – Week 4 Predictions

September 29th, 2011 | 1 comment

Every week, Titan Thursday will share predictions of each week’s NFL match-ups.


Overall Record: 29-19

Week 3 (Record: 11-5)

Shame of the Week: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick is right to cry out for relief. Because Andy Reid nor his offensive line seem interested in answering that call. And calm down Giant fans, for every one of these games from Eli in September there is the opposite lurking for December.

Pick ‘Em Again: Patriots over Bills
If the NFL played these games again this weekend, under the same conditions, I would pick the exact same way.  And I genuinely believe I would be right this time.

Shoulda’ Known Better: Buccaneers over Falcons
On any given Sunday… ah, this is the only way these games could ever end.


Week 4

Tennessee Titans over the Cleveland Browns
Okay, so the Titans have not dazzled in their two wins, Chris Johnson is depressingly bottled up, and Kenny Britt is lost for the season. But, Matt Hasselbeck and the stingiest defense in the NFL will maintain their winning ways for another week.

Detroit Lions over the Dallas Cowboys
I hate to pick against Tony Romo after he just willed his team to another tough win. But, expect this Cowboys secondary to struggle against a good quarterback (Matt Stafford). Something they have yet to see (i.e. Sanchez, Smith, and Grossman).

 

Steelers over Texans
Steelers are sloppy, but win this one close. The Texans just look like a .500 team.

Bears over Panthers
Cam Newton came back to earth last week. And the 1-2 Bears are no 1-2 Jaguars.

Vikings over Chiefs
It is sad to see recent division winners struggle so badly. The Vikes can’t lose this.

Bills over Bengals
Although I am impressed with the Bills, I feel a letdown coming on. Just not yet.

Rams over Redskins
Both looked bad in defeat last week, but the Rams have played better teams so far.

Eagles over 49ers
Vick’s overblown injury should go away quietly, just like the 49ers will in the 4th.

Saints over Jaguars
Not even a monsoon could help the Jags win this game. Drew Brees is too much.

Falcons over Seahawks
The Falcons are struggling, but it is nothing a visit to the Seahawks cannot fix.

Giants over Cardinals
An easy match-up for the Giants sure smells like a trap game. Cards can steal it.

Patriots over Raiders
There is no way Bill Belichick and Tom Brady lose back-to-back games. Is there?

Packers over Broncos
Attention Fantasy Owners, insert all Packer offensive players… put the D in, too!

Chargers over Dolphins
What if the Chargers and Dolphins actually played up to their potential? Hmm…

Ravens over Jets
Rex Ryan should really consider Joe Namath as an option against his old team.

Buccaneers over Colts
Being wrong about these two teams has cost me 4 games. Will they make it 5?

 

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Weekly Block – Limping Along

September 28th, 2011 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – Limping Along

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

1. Scott Stallings (2011 Earnings: $1,927,865) (Cuts made: 12)

Want to train like a PGA pro with Scott Stallings? Then check out a D1 Experience hosted at the D1 Knoxville location on Friday, October 7th at 4pm or 6pm.

2. Chicago Cubs (70-90)(5th in NL Central)

Last night, one of the darkest moments in Chicago Cubs history got a full-length documentary courtesy of ESPN. “Catching Hell” tells the story of Steve Bartman.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (Big Move by Big-Z)

Grizzlies star forward Zach Randolph is standing alongside the NBA player’s union, despite having 5 million reasons to give in to the NBA. Classy move, Big-Z.

4. Tennessee Titans (The Replacements)

The search for Kenny Britt’s replacement is underway in Nashville. Top candidates include: David Clowney, Donnie Avery, Mardy Gilyard, and Johnnie Lee Higgins.

5. Final Block (Limping Along)

Justin Hunter.

Kenny Britt.

And now, Smokey.

This weekend was brutal for the ligaments of people and animals alike in Tennessee. Now, a question that lingers like an absence that can never be filled on the depth chart.

How do you respond to an unexpected loss?

The Indianapolis Colts seemingly allowed the loss of Peyton Manning to be an excuse to coast through 2 of their 3 games. When his absence should not affect a defense that revealed their true potential Sunday night against a tough Steelers’ squad.

However, the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl last season despite losing Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target, JerMichael Finley, early in the season. Desmond Bishop, James Starks, and Sam Shields elevated their play and became impact players.

 Unexpected loss is actually just an unexpected opportunity.

Bishop, Shields, Starks, and the Packers understood this and excelled.  The Colts organization as a whole (until recently) have not.

So, the question for the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Titans is simple.

Will the loss of Hunter and Britt be a loss, or an opportunity?

Their response starts this weekend. And everyone is watching.

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Best Red – Higher Calling

September 23rd, 2011 | Comments Off on Best Red – Higher Calling

Every Friday, Best Red will list the best sports articles (or videos) of the week.

1. VY Impersonator
Courtesy of Doug Farrar

Even Vince Young’s identity is easily intercepted. Someone in the D.C. area is taking advantage of unsuspecting VY fans. Come on, haven’t  those fans suffered enough.

2. Most Overpaid NFL Players
Courtesy of Tom Van Riper and Forbes.com

Leave it to Forbes magazine to state an undeniable fact that some NFL experts are unable or unwilling to admit: “Mark Sanchez is overrated in every way measurable.

3. Higher Calling
Courtesy of Sean Jensen

Jason Wright is turning down a multi-million dollar NFL contract to pursue a higher calling in his life. This may not be a top headline in the NFL. But it should be.

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Titan Thursday – Week 3 Predictions

September 22nd, 2011 | 1 comment

Every week, Titan Thursday will share predictions of each week’s NFL match-ups.

Overall Record: 18-14

Week 2 (Record: 12-4)

Shame of the Week: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
I knew it!
This Titan team has the makings of the 2008 squad led by a younger and more effective Kerry Collins. The offense is dynamic and the defense is good enough to hold onto a lead. Still, this just makes last week’s loss to Jacksonville sting more.

Pick ‘Em Again: Vikings over Bucs
If the NFL played these games again this weekend, under the same conditions, I would pick the exact same way.  And I genuinely believe I would be right this time.

Shoulda’ Known Better: Browns over Colts, Giants over Rams
On any given Sunday… ah, this is the only way these games could ever end.


Week 3

Tennessee Titans over the Denver Broncos
Kyle Orton torched the Titans’ secondary to the tune of 341 yards and 2 touchdowns last season. But, I expect the explosive Titan offense to strike early and often in this rematch, forcing Orton to throw from behind for meaningless yards. CJ will return.

New Orleans Saints over the Houston Texans
These are the games the Texans never seem to win. So if Houston wants to be taken seriously as an NFL power this season, beating Drew Brees in the Super Dome is the ticket. But, they have to force FGs on defense and score TDs on offense.

Patriots over Bills
Ryan Fitzpatrick is good and will play well at home, but Tom Brady is just too good.

49ers over Bengals
I guess someone has to win this game. And the 49ers have looked better… at times.

Lions over Vikings
Williams is back and the Vikes are dangerous. But, I like Detroit in their first real test.

Eagles over Giants
If Vick can stay healthy, this is a lock. Giants’ interns should be safe for the weekend.

Panthers over Jaguars
This is hardly jumping on the Cam Newton bandwagon. That starts next week…

Browns over Dolphins
Chad Henne leaves a lot to be desired and I like what Colt McCoy has going.

Jets over Raiders
If Fitzpatrick and the Bills can pick apart this defense, Sanchez and the Jets can too.

Ravens over Rams
The Ravens will bounce back, but the Rams at home can steal this one if they want it.

Chargers over Chiefs
Expect Antonio Gates and a winning Chargers team to reappear after a week off.

Packers over Bears
The Pack defense is a real concern, but I will take Aaron Rodgers over Jay Cutler.

Cardinals over Seahawks
The Cardinals have no defense. Which is okay, because Seattle has no offense.

Falcons over Buccaneers
Can Josh Freeman make me pay 2 weeks in a row? Not against Matt Ryan, he can’t.

Steelers over Colts
Fine. The Colts are bad. Honestly, even with Peyton Manning this Colts team is bad.

Cowboys over Redskins
I am riding with Romo this week. Especially in an early NFC East division showdown.

 

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Weekly Block – Winning Isn’t Everything

September 21st, 2011 | 1 comment

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

1. Scott Stallings (57th in FedEx Cup Points)(38th on the Money List)

Although, the BMW Championship was a disappointing tournament, Stallings is looking on closing out an extremely successful rookie season. Well done, Scott!

2. Chicago Cubs (68-86)(5th in NL Central)

Good news: The Cubs can pass a Pirates squad that led the NL Central early this year. Bad news: Cubs closer, Kerry Wood, might be done for good. Again.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (Rudy, Rudy, Rudy)

Finally, Rudy Gay is healthy and ready to get back on the court for the Memphis Grizzlies as they prepa… what’s that?  Oh, yea.  The NBA season is not going to happen.

4. Tennessee Titans (Calm Down)

First, Titan fans need to realize that single coverage (a.k.a. most of Kenny Britt’s receptions) and Chris Johnson’s carries are related. Secondly, it was the Ravens.

5. Final Block (Winning Isn’t Everything)

I admit it.

I did not expect Cam Newton to enjoy much early success (or any success, for that matter) in his rookie NFL season.  Especially as the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback.

But, with two of the best rookie performances ever under his belt in as many attempts, it is hard to refute what Newton has demonstrated on the field.

So, let’s compare Newton to quarterbacks around the NFL that are having similar starts to see if those quarterbacks are receiving a similar response.

                              QB Rating   Yards   TDs    INTs   Record
Rex Grossman            90.6         596      4         2        2-0
Cam Newton               89.1         854      3         4        0-2
Mark Sanchez             87.7         517      4         3        2-0

It is fascinating that Sanchez and Grossman are the passers that statistically most resemble Newton. Of the 3 passers, all have enormous potential and all have consistency issues, from quarter-to-quarter. And sometimes from throw-to-throw.

More interesting, are the expectations of NFL analysts and fans of the New York Jets and Washington Redskins. Grossman is currently highly received, as is Sanchez.  But, would the same be true if the Redskins and Jets were 0-2?

Probably not.

Neither are rookies and expectations elevate, especially in the ruthlessly competitive NFL market. So, is there a correlation between support and belief a player receives, and their development as a player (in this case as a young NFL quarterback)?

Expectations should elevate.

Competition and achievement are incredible motivators.

But, maybe growth is best nurtured in an atmosphere with lower expectations.

Peyton Manning still holds the record for most interceptions thrown in a rookie season (29). However, I doubt Manning nor the Indianapolis Colts (who finished 3-13) will ever regret that season of growth.

So, maybe winning isn’t everything. But rather, a reward worth growing into.

What if Panther fans found strange satisfaction in Newton’s growing interceptions, knowing each was teaching him something new. What if Charlotte celebrated a 3-13 record, content that this season was the payment for many great years to come…

 

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Class Act

September 19th, 2011 | Comments Off on Class Act

Personal fouls in the NFL can sometimes lead to injuries or outbursts. Then again…

stories circulated in Nashville of the bad blood and rivalry between two AFC teams that once played in the same division (AFC Central).  And recently the Ravens have “poached” several players from the Titan roster including:
Steve McNair,
Derrick Mason,
and current Ravens Chris Carr and Cary Williams.

Rivalries are great for sports, especially if they inspire increased respect for an opponent or invoke a higher level of competitive play.  Sometimes, however, rivalries can lead to ugly and embarrassing displays.  Even in the professional ranks.

Back to Sunday…

Early in the Tennessee Titans’ home opener versus the Ravens, Kenny Britt and Ed Reed collided in a tackle, that when combined with their teams’ rivalry and the flagrance of a personal foul, could have led to an explosive situation.

Instead, a brief gesture of humility and respect was exchanged.

It is important to note…

Ed Reed is a 7-time Pro Bowler, an elite ball-hawking safety, and a centerpiece in a Baltimore Raven defense with a ruthless reputation.

Kenny Britt is an up-and-coming elite wide receiver for the Titans, with several standout performances in his young career already.

Each of these players have earned the support of their teammates, fan bases, and coaching staffs.  And either player could have justified making this play a big deal.

Instead, Reed apologized. Britt accepted.  They embraced and got back to it.

Yes, the Titans defense shutdown Joe Flacco and the Ravens.
Yes, the Titans upset a heavily-favored Ravens team.
And yes, Kenny Britt delivered another huge performance.

But, this moment was more meaningful than stats and early season implications.

Britt said this after the game…

“He actually apologized,” Britt said. “I knew he wasn’t going for the facemask. Once he popped up, he apologized. I didn’t think that was going to happen. I thought we were going to get in each other’s face. But he’s a nice guy, actually.”

Class act, fellas. By the way, thanks for the great game!

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Best Red – Living on Purpose

September 16th, 2011 | Comments Off on Best Red – Living on Purpose

Every Friday, Best Red will list the best sports articles (or videos) of the week.

1. Best Fans
Courtesy of Doug Farrar

The Charger faithful at Qualcomm demonstrated their humanity and class returning some lost money, after a server accidentally made it rain on two different sections.

2. Worst Picks
Courtesy of Drew Wells

Join me in a public experiment of humility, as I share my weekly predictions for NFL winners. After a rough start, I have plenty of work to get back to a respectabl record.

3. Living on Purpose
Courtesy of Matthew J. Darnell

Sadly, Chris McAlister is just another athlete unprepared to live a life after his sports career ended. Athletes do not need your sympathy. They need to discover a purpose.

 

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Titan Thursday – Week 2 Predictions

September 15th, 2011 | 2 comments

Every week, Titan Thursday will share predictions of each week’s NFL match-ups.

 

Week 1 (Record: 6-10)

Shame of the Week: Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
Tony Romo may be a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez, but unlike Rex Ryan and the Jets, Jason Garrett and the Cowboys have not idiot-proofed the Cowboy offense.

Yet.

Pick ‘Em Again: Falcons over Bears, Titans over Jags
If the NFL played these games again this weekend, under the same conditions, I would pick the exact same way.  And I genuinely believe I would be right this time.

Shoulda’ Known Better: Texans over Colts, 49ers over Seahawks
On any given Sunday… ah, this is the only way these games could ever end.


Week 2

Baltimore Ravens over the Tennessee Titans
The Titans defense tightened the screws late in last week’s game, but the problem will be beating a resurrected Ravens defense. Last week, this unit terrorized Ben Roethlisberger, causing 7 turnovers. Expect another close loss for the Titans.

New England Patriots over the San Diego Chargers
If there is an offense in the AFC capable of keeping pace with the Pats, it is Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Honestly, this game could easily go either way. But, I give the edge to the Pats (who always start fast) over the Bolts (who always start slow).

Bills over Raiders
Fitzpatrick should shred the Raiders as easily as he did the Chiefs. Maybe easier.

Saints over Bears
Are the Bears for real? I think not, look for the Saints to get on track and after Cutler.

Lions over Chiefs
The Chiefs are not THAT bad. But, apparently neither are the Lions anymore.

Colts over Browns
The Browns are more disappointing than the Colts. At least Indy has an excuse.

Vikings over Bucs
Picking against the Bucs again, because I trust in AP more than Josh Freeman.

Packers over Panthers
Cam Newton will see his first NFL defense his week… yes, the Cards are that bad.

Redskins over Cardinals
(See above) But, which Rex Grossman will show up to play this Sunday?

Steelers over Seahawks
Poor Seahawks.  I actually feel pity for what is going to happen to them this week.

Cowboys over 49ers
Tony Romo is a better quarterback than Alex Smith… (sigh) … I think.

Jets over Jaguars
The Jags offense is a one trick pony about to be saddled by Rex Ryan’s… defense.

Broncos over Bengals
Orton’s tenure depends on a win here. Otherwise, Tebow chants will only get louder.

Texans over Dolphins
Henne looked good, but Wade Phillip has given the Texans defense quite a bite.

Falcons over Eagles
Look for the Falcons to recover and take advantage of a weak Eagle offensive line.

Rams over Giants
Sam Bradford and the Rams have my attention. This game will decide if they keep it.

 

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Weekly Block – Pursuit of Perfection

September 14th, 2011 | Comments Off on Weekly Block – Pursuit of Perfection

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

1. Scott Stallings (46th in FedEx Cup Points)(34th on the Money List)

The BMW Championship is up next. Best of luck, Mr. Stallings.  Also, if you are in the Knoxville area on October 7th, get a free lesson from Scott at D1-Knoxville.

2. Chicago Cubs (65-83)(5th in NL Central)

Starlin Castro is far from perfect, but this year makes it clear he is the future of the Cubs organization. In sad personal news, this year’s trip to Wrigley is cancelled.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (Taking a Charge)

Shane Battier, the master of taking charges, shares who is the best at avoiding him.  But, it may surprise you who he avoids taking a charge from the most in the NBA.

4. Tennessee Titans (New Team, Same Story)

Without previous punching bags Jeff Fisher and Vince Young for fans to bemoan, Matt Hasselbeck jumped out to early lead as the Titan’s Sunday scapegoat.

5. Final Block (Pursuit of Perfection)

Is it just me, or is Tom Brady getting better every season?

He started his NFL career with 3 Super Bowl championships in 4 seasons.

A couple of years ago, I was sure he was a better quarterback than Peyton Manning (the only other active NFL quarterback that belongs in a conversation with Brady).  Then, Manning won a Super Bowl of his own AND rolled over Brady’s Patriots to do it.

I admit, I reconsidered the Brady vs. Manning debate after that game.

Then, Brady threw more touchdowns (50) than any quarterback in a season. Ever.
Simultaneously, he led the Pats to the first undefeated regular season in 30+ years.
Last year, he threw 36 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions. Are you kidding me?!

Now this.

In the last 10 seasons, the Pats only missed the playoffs twice (one of which, Brady was injured), while posting an astounding regular season record in games Brady started.

Tom Brady: 126-29 (.812)
Peyton Manning: 125-45 (.735)

Ben Roethlisberger: 70-30 (.700)
Aaron Rodgers: 21-11 (.656)
Drew Brees: 80-44 (.645)

Peyton Manning may be the most valuable player to his team.
Aaron Rodgers may be the current defending champ.
Ben Roethlisberger may have 2 Super Bowl rings.
Drew Brees and Philip Rivers may be amazing.

But, Tom Brady stands alone among active passers in the NFL.

Previous coaches rave about him, almost as much as splashy new players.

Most importantly, the ball is not the only thing Brady spreads around the field. Do not take for granted Tom Terrific’s humility and willingness to share the credit. Winners face temptations as frequently as losers.

Tom Brady is not perfect. But, maybe his pursuit of perfection is the next best thing.

 

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