Friday, March 25, 2005

The time honored sports riot

The time honored tradition of the sports riot is still alive & well in America.

After West Virginia’s victory last night over Texas Tech in the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen, students in Morgantown set over 50 fires in celebration of the Mountaineers’ success. Firemen extinguished all the fires yet were obstructed from their duties on several occasions. The Morgantown fire department issued several citations and one fire fighter was hit in the head by a full beer can. Morgantown has a day to brace for what could be another night of revelry if W. Virginia advances to the Final Four.

Ah the annual rights of winter, spring, summer, and fall. Ever since the late 80’s riots in locales where the favorite sports team wins anything have been common place. The fad started when the Detroit Pistons won their first NBA title back in ’89 and the city was kept nice and toasty by multiple fires and riotous behavior eerily reminiscent of the race riots of the 60’s.

Here in Colorado the were small scale riots in Denver after the Broncos’ Super Bowl wins and after the Avalanche won both of their Stanley Cups. I was personally tear gassed back in 2001 when the Denver cops, dressed in full riot gear, started lobbing canisters at any group of people larger than five in number. In Boulder riots sprung up after the Buffs won the college football co-National Championship in ’91 and after their back-to-back Big 12 titles a couple years ago. The Boulder city council responded by outlawing yet another tradition, the ratted out couch on the front porch. Seems many couches were used as kindling on more than one occasion.

No one does the sports riot in America like Chicago. In 1992, after the Bulls won their first NBA title, zealous fans caused $10 million in property damage in tribute to Michael Jordan and his winning ways. To date this little impromptu victory celebration is the most expensive in U.S. sports history.

But the real crown goes to the Europeans. In 1985, 39 fans were crushed to death in the infamous Heysel Stadium disaster. As a result English teams were banned from European competition for six years. On November, 17, 2004, fans of the Spanish national team hurled racist insults at two of the English side’s black players and even taunted them with monkey calls. In 1980 at Wembley Stadium thousands of Alan Minter supporters rioted after their beloved boxer was destroyed by Marvin Hagler. In 1990, soccer fans in Zagreb forced the cancellation of a match between hometown Dynamo Zagreb and the visiting Red Star Belgrade. The match was brought to a halt after ten minutes and the stadium was eventually set on fire.

Even those passive Canadians have dabbled in the riotous arts. Back in 1955 the Richard Riot gave a black eye to Montreal. On March 13 of that year Hall-of-Famer Maurice Richard was given a match penalty for deliberately injuring Hal Laycoe. Richard was suspended for the remainder of the season even as his Canadiens were battling for first place. Then NHL President Clarence Campbell refused to budge on Richard’s punishment. Canadiens’ fans were whipped into frenzy on March 17 when Campbell attended a Canadiens-Red Wings game at the Montreal Forum. Throughout the game the home-town faithful pelted Campbell with eggs, vegetables, and a host of other objects. The game was called off, forfeiting the win to Detroit, and the fans turned violent. The resulting fray resulted in $500,000 damage to the Forum and parts of the legendary arena were destroyed. As recently as 1994 Vancouver Canucks fans rioted after their team lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the New York Rangers.

The sports riot even dates back to hallowed antiquity. In 532 A.D. the Roman and Byzantine empires had established chariot races. Justinian I, then Emperor of Rome, supported a certain faction of charioteers and their fans. His allegiance to the so-called Blues was widely viewed as the reason why he commuted the death sentences of several accused murderers, who, incidentally, were also Blues supporters. Fans and members of the Blues and Greens, another chariot racing fan sect, demanded that the accused be set free. They broke into the prison and set fire to parts of Constantinople. Members of the Roman Senate saw this as an opportunity to remove Justinian from power. The Senate gained control over the rioters, stoked the fires of rebellion, and named Hypatius as the new Emperor. Justinian eventually put down the rebellion and trapped the rioters in the Hippodrome. An estimated 30,000 rioters were killed, including Hypatius.

As you can see the sports riot has a glorious history.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bye bye Barry

Watching Barry Bonds’ impromptu interview on ESPN yesterday was like scraping your forehead with broken glass. Here sits perhaps the greatest baseball player of all time telling an ESPN reporter how his alleged persecution has finally gotten the best of him.

“I'm tired of my kids crying. You wanted me to jump off a bridge, I finally did. You finally brought me and my family down. ... So now go pick a different person”

Bonds continued to rant like a down trodden and spoiled child who had been denied the ’67 Mustang he’d wanted for his birthday. He continually railed against the media for their dogged pursuit over the last couple years.

This latest spiel is just another in a long line of bitterness from one of the most enigmatic sports figures in history. Only Bobby Knight can equal Bonds’ petulance displayed towards the media and fans.

Not since the days of Ty Cobb have we seen an athlete who so brazenly thumbs his nose at the very people responsible for his fame, notoriety, and money. In an infamous episode Cobb went into the stands and pummeled a boisterous and admittedly critical fan. Thing is, this fan had one arm and Cobb gleefully beat the tar out of him. Now Bonds has never physically assaulted any body but he’s time and again turned his back on his fans.

To say that his relationship with the media has been contentious would be putting it mildly. The only reason Bonds tolerates the media is because it’s a necessary evil of his job. Not that the media is virtuous or even kind and fact is they can be a den of vipers but if you foster at least an amicable relationship with them your job as a public figure is made infinitely easier.

Yes Bonds has been the most scrutinized athlete over the last three years but the bed he now lies in was made of his own doing. It’s a shame such a gifted athlete has to act like such a surly pain in the ass. His physical talents are unquestionable and had he acted like a decent human being he might possibly have gone down as the most revered athlete this side of Michael Jordan and Muhamid Ali.

If Bonds goes down for steroid use he deserves his fate. If the fire that Bonds burned across the sky in his 19 years in baseball is suddenly extinguished then, once again, he deserves his fate. If Bonds has indeed played his final game I, for one, shall not shed a single tear.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The case for judicial review

Conservative pundit Benjamin Shapiro has this to say about the doctrine of judicial review:

Perhaps judicial review wasn't such a great idea after all. In Marbury v. Madison (1803), Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall assumed the power of judicial review over acts of the legislature. According to Marshall, the Constitution vested in the Supreme Court the ability to overturn legitimately enacted laws if those laws conflicted with the Constitution itself.

It is anything but clear that the Constitution meant to create the power of judicial review. Marshall's opinion is full of holes, both textual and logical…

Still, judicial review works well in theory. The basic principle is this: Legislative acts of the people may not trump fundamental, universal values as expressed in the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton phrased it this way in Federalist No. 78: "Where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in
opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws rather than by those which are not fundamental."

But Hamilton admitted that if the judges were disposed to
substitute their will for the will of the people, if "they should be disposed to exercise will instead of judgment … [that] would prove that there ought to be no judges distinct from that [legislative] body." In other words, if the judges were to become merely a political branch, where a majority of five could trump a majority of the people while falsely claiming allegiance to the Constitution, then that would be an argument for dissolution of the judiciary as a distinct branch of government. Life tenure was supposed to guard against the politicization of the judicial branch.

The Supreme Court has consistently, for the past 50-odd years at the very least, substituted its judgment for the judgment of the people, without regard to the Constitution…

The time has come to do away with judicial review as a whole. The judicial branch has been politicized to such an extent that judges who fulfill Hamilton's qualifications – judges who compare legislation to the actual Constitution – are dubbed
conservative extremists, while judges who legislate from the bench are termed moderates. The system has become so thoroughly corrupt that the only choice left to us is a constitutional amendment ending judicial review of legislative acts.

Shapiro’s argument falls short on several levels. First, it supposes that there is no power vested in the people to remove officers of the judiciary. Second, the implication of Shapiro’s contention assumes that the courts have only recently been transformed into a political vassal. Third, Shapiro’s theory is that democratically enacted laws are somehow sacrosanct and are thus unassailable by the judiciary.

According to Article 2, Section 5 of the Constitution “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Through this provision and Article 1 of the Constitution officers of the judiciary are directly accountable to Congress for abuse of authority and contravening Constitutional protections. The House of Representatives is responsible for the act of impeachment and can do so by a simple majority. The Senate tries the case and can convict by a two-thirds vote. The fact that justices are accountable to Congress and said representatives and senators are directly accountable to the people dictates that through a chain of procedure judicial officers are ultimately accountable to the people. And that chain is impeachment. Admittedly, the impeachment process is cumbersome and time consuming but it is a process nonetheless.

Shapiro’s second failure is that he hypothesizes that the judiciary has only been a political instrument for the last 50 years. This is patently false and the politicization of the courts was the very genesis of Marbury v Madison. In 1800 then President John Adams attempted to pack the judiciary with federalist judges in a preemptive strike against the incoming Thomas Jefferson and his so-called Jeffersonian Republicans. The Jeffersonians threatened the Supreme Court with impeachment if the Court overturned the repeal of the Judicial Act of 1800. A last minute appointee, William Marbury, sued the new Secretary of State, James Madison, for the refusal to recognize the delivery of the commission that would have made Marbury’s appointment official. This opening salvo is illustrative of the fact hat the courts have been a political tool since the infancy of this country. From the abolition of slavery and the women’s suffrage movement to the civil rights struggle of the ‘50’s & ‘60’s, the continuing war over abortion, and the debate over gay rights, the judiciary is and always has been a political tool. To claim otherwise is disingenuous and na├»ve.

The third major flaw in Shapiro’s argument is the supposition that democratically enacted laws are and should be held next to holy. Should the U.S. Congress legitimately enact a law with the full support of the people that made it legal to impale a dog on a pike and line Pennsylvania Avenue with dogs on spikes would Shapiro hold such a law to be sacred. I think not. If duly enacted laws fly in the face of the Constitution then said laws should be struck from the books. If Congress enacted legislation guaranteeing unfettered access to abortions Shapiro and those of his ilk would be up in arms. This is where checks and balances come into place. Congress can limit the courts’ appellate jurisdiction as the courts can smack down laws deemed to be unconstitutional. Ergo the two branches are accountable to each other.

Judicial review is and always has been a valuable, and admittedly, oft abused cannon of the legal process. Even though the courts can, and do, overstep their bounds, it would be folly to in effect throw the baby out with the bath water. A check must be placed on Congress’ power as well as the power of the judiciary.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Best linebackers and defensive backs ever

Today we’ll wrap up the best ever discussion by profiling the best ever linebackers and defensive backs.

LB-There are two backers who stand head and shoulders above the rest and are undoubtedly two of the best players in NFL history.

Dick Butkus played middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears from ’65-’73 when his brilliant career was cut short by knee injuries. For the eight years he played Butkus was the most feared and dominant defensive player in the game. His ferocious, take no prisoners style was reflective of the fact Butkus admittedly played every game as if it were his last. He was named to eight straight Pro Bowls and was an All Pro six times. Enshrined in Canton in ’79 Butkus was also named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team in ’94. The former two-time All American from Illinois has been generally regarded as the best middle linebacker in NFL history for the last thirty years.

Lawrence Taylor terrorized the NFL for thirteen seasons. His vicious no-holds-barred style revolutionized the way the position was played. In his career Taylor amassed 1,088 tackles, 132.5 quarterback sacks (and 9.5 unofficially in ’81), and 33 forced fumbles. He made 10 Pro Bowls, was All Pro in each of his first nine seasons, and was named part of the 75th Anniversary Team. Taylor also won Defensive Player of the Year honors three times and won two Super Bowls. This maniacal defender cut a path of destruction through the NFL and his intensity was undeniable. Joe Montana, one of the best QB’s ever, once admitted Taylor was the only player he genuinely feared. Every quarterback who ever played against him can attest to Taylor’s ferocious nature. Just ask Joe Thiesman.

Honorable mention-Mike Singletary, Jack Hamm, Jack Lambert, Ray Nitzke, Willie Lanier, Ray Lewis, Derrick Thomas.

CB-there are several worthy candidates for the best corner back ever.

As an undrafted free agent Willie Brown’s career was nearly over before it even got started when he was cut by the Houston Oilers in ’63. Fortunately, the Denver Broncos gave him a shot and he didn’t disappoint. Blessed with size, 6’1” and 195 pounds, Brown was a fast, tough, smart, and savvy defender. He was named either All-AFL or All-NFL seven times, played in nine AFL and AFC title games and two Super Bowls, and scored on a 75 interception return in SB XI. Brown also had 54 career interceptions and was one of the most aggressive and intense CB’s in league history. Bronco fans cringe at the thought that the team traded away its best player to the hated Oakland Raiders in ’67 where he became a super star.

Deion Sanders is and has always been “Prime Time”. One of the most flamboyant and quotable players ever Deion was constant fodder for the highlight reel. His kick and punt return ability is the stuff of legend as is his cover ability. Sanders has been continually labeled as a soft player but opposing quarterbacks rarely, if ever, threw in his direction. So far in his career Deion has 51 interceptions and 19 combined kick/punt/int/fumble return touchdowns, an NFL record. The seven time Pro Bowl player was part of two Super Bowl champions, the 49ers in (4 and the Cowboys in ’95. Sanders is perhaps the greatest “shut down” corner back in league history.

At 5’9” and only 184 pounds soaking wet many league observers felt Darrell Green was too small to play in the NFL. Not only did he make it he played for the Washington Redskins for 20 years. Green made seven Pro Bowls, was the NFL’s fastest man four times, and has two Super Bowl wins under his belt. He had 54 career interceptions and 129 pass deflections. One memorable moment came on a Monday night when Green caught Eric Dickerson, one of the best and fastest running backs ever, from behind. Green, who is truly one of the classiest players ever, continues to shine off the field as well as he heads several charitable organizations and he was recently selected to serve as Chair of President Bush’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

The verdict-Because football is a physical game and tackling is part of being a great defensive player Willie Brown is the best CB ever. Now I would never deny Deion’s cover skills but Brown was the more complete player.

S-there really is only one player who’s worthy in this category…Ronnie Lott. The only defensive back to earn All Pro honors at three different positions Lott was a tenacious defender who instilled dread in opposing receivers. The eight time All Pro also played in ten Pro Bowls. Lott grabbed 63 career interceptions and had over 1,000 career tackles. Lott was named to the 75th Anniversary Team and played on four Super Bowl Champs. The most defining moment in Lott’s career came when he injured his pinky and was forced to choose between season-ending surgery and having the tip of his finger cut off. Lott chose the latter.

Honorable mention CB & S-Rod Woodson, Steve Atwater, Mel Blount, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Mike Haynes, Ken Houston.

Ten minutes=PTSD

Just when I thought I had heard of every ill-conceived and frivolous type of litigation my sensibilities were rocked yet again by one of the most ridiculous and untenable lawsuits ever brought.

Now gather round while I break it down…

As reported on KUSA on March 15, 2005, Donna and Nicholas Johnson have filed suit in Denver District Court against North Suburban Medical Center for medical negligence, loss of consortium, and loss of earnings.

Seems a nurse handed Donna the wrong baby…for TEN MINUTES. Yup, you read correctly, ten minutes. Donna Johnson gave birth to a little girl on October 19, 2004. The following day Johnson tried to breast feed what she believed to be her daughter but lo and behold she had the wrong child. After ten minutes of attempted suckling Johnson became aware that she indeed had the wrong infant. The nurse responsible brought Johnson the right baby and subsequent DNA testing has determined that she now is in possession of her biological daughter.

As a result of this fiasco Johnson’s lawsuit claims that she has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and is unable to return to work because of a constant obsession about losing her baby. Additionally, the suit claims that husband Nic has been denied marital intimacy with his wife because of the psychological trauma brought on by the incident.

Now, as a member of the legal community I’m appalled at the tenuous ground that this case is based on. A ten minute mistake has supposedly caused the same type of psychological trauma normally seen in combat veterans and those that have borne witness to or been the victims of extreme violence and others forms of severe stress. Originally PTSD was called “Soldiers Heart” following the American Civil War and evolved into “Shell Shock” that was further hypothesized and diagnosed during and immediately following WWI.

So now a ten minute colossal mistake has caused debilitating psychological trauma? This is ri-god-damn-diculous. Personally, I’d like to take the attorney who filed this steaming pile o’ feces out to the parking lot and pimp slap him around for about, oh, let’s say, ten minutes, and see if he gets PTSD.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Best defensive linemen ever

My little impromptu survey of the best ever continues with the best defensive linemen of all time. This is a hard task so I’ll split it up to DE and DT and name the best at each spot.

DE-Since sacks weren’t kept as an official statistic until ’82 it’s hard to say who was the best pass rusher ever but a compelling argument can be made for…

Reggie White was elected to a record 13 straight Pro Bowls, was Defensive Player of the Year twice, and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. His 198 sacks are second all time and his ferocious play on the field belie a gentle and dignified off-the-field demeanor. This deeply religious man was even better off the field as he was a mentor to inner-city youth and an ordained preacher at Inner City Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. White played in two Super Bowls and set a record with three sacks in SB XXXI when the Packers crushed the Patriots. ESPN’s Tom Jackson called White the greatest defender he’s ever seen. White died January 2, 2005 at the age of 43. The “Minister of Defense” will be sorely missed.

At 6’2” and 272 pounds Deacon Jones was the most feared and dominant defensive player of his time. The term and statistic “sack” was literally invented by Jones. Though unofficial, it’s been estimated that Deacon had 174 sacks during his fourteen year career. That equates to nearly one sack per game. Jones was an eight time Pro Bowl participant, including seven straight starts. He was all NFL six straight times and was Defensive Player of the Year twice. Jones teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen to form one of the most devastating D-line combos ever seen. Jones & Olsen were half of the legendary “Fearsome Foursome” that was arguably the best defensive line unit in league history. Not bad for a 13th round draft pick who barely made the Rams roster as a rookie.

Bruce Smith owns the career sack record and was the first overall pick by Buffalo in the ’85 draft. He’s the only player in NFL history with more than 200 sacks. Smith has 575 career tackles and 45 forced fumbles. Smith played in four Super Bowls and 11 straight Pro Bowls. He also sacked 75 different quarterbacks throughout his career and owns the records for most seasons with double-digit sacks and playoff sacks.

The verdict-Because of his career sack total and status as perhaps the best defensive player ever Reggie White is the best DE ever. Though I like Deacon Jones better as a player I can’t ignore the fact that many former NFL players and coaches regard White with such high esteem. Deacon was great but Reggie was just a skosh better.

DT-This one’s even tougher to call.

The 6’4” 275 pound “Mean” Joe Greene possessed uncanny quickness for his size. The number one overall pick in 1969 by Pittsburg anchored what many feel was the best defense ever. Greene played in ten Pro Bowls and was all NFL five times. He also owns four Super Bowl rings and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice.

Alan Page played in 236 straight games and was part of the infamous “Purple People Eaters” defensive line of the Minnesota Vikings that played in four Super Bowls. Page was NFL MVP in ’71, was Defensive POY three times, and was named to ten straight Pro Bowls. He blocked 28 kicks, recovered 23 fumbles, and unofficially recorded 173 sacks. Page was All NFL nine times, six first team and three second team, and was appointed to the Minnesota State Supreme Court.

Randy White had over 1,100 career tackles and an unofficial 111 sacks. White missed one game in 14 seasons and was named All Pro and to the Pro Bowl nine straight times. As a member of the Dallas Cowboys White played in three Super Bowls and was the game’s co-MVP in SB XII when they beat the Broncos 27-10.

The verdict-the name says it all, “Mean” Joe.

Honorable mention for DE and DT-Leroy Selmon, Merlin Olsen, Howie Long, Carl Eller, Bob Lilly.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Say it ain't so!

The March wrestling match between Tonya Harding and gender bender Daisy D has been called off. Yes, you heard it correctly. Harding was slated to duke it out with a Florida area transvestite. The flamboyant Daisy D weighed in at 135 as did Harding.

I think Eddie Izzard put it perfectly, "Oh for f**k sake!"

Somewhere a trailor park mourns.

No soup for you!

This from The Rocky Mountain News, March 14, 2004...

A majority of CU regents said Sunday they oppose any financial settlement with
Ward Churchill, aborting an attempted buyout of the controversial professor's

"I'm almost certain there's not going to be a settlement,"
said Steve Bosley, one of five on the nine-member board who has decided to
oppose a deal.

At last the CU Board of Regents has grown a spine. Now if they'll only fire this dumbass and stop the bleeding. I think plagarism, fraud, and contract violations are enough ammo. I hope that's Ward's head I see on the chopping block. Zzzzzzzzzzzzip, thuuunk goes the guillotine.

Best ever WR, TE, OL

As I bide my time until the draft I'll definitively, or not, end all discussion of who are the greatest football players of all time. Today we finish up the offensive side of the ball.

WR-Only one player in NFL history has 22,000 yards receiving, 23,000 yards from scrimmage, 1,500 receptions, 200+ touchdowns, 280 consecutive games with a reception, 1,800+ receiving yards in a season, and 22 TD catches in a season...Jerry Rice. To put his numbers into perspective Rice's 22,000 yards receiving are 8,000 more than second place Tim Brown. His 200+ touchdowns are 60 more than Emmitt Smith's who sits at number two and Rice's 197 TD receptions gives him a 67 TD gap between him and Chris Carter who's second all-time. The consecutive game streak with at least one reception is 100 more than Art Monk's 183 game mark. Not to mention the three Super Bowl rings, the MVP in '87, 11 Pro Bowls, Rookie of the Year in '85, and ten All Pro selections. Rice's legacy as maybe the best to ever strap on shoulder pads is safe and his selection to the Hall of Fame may be the biggest slam dunk in NFL history. Rice put up ungodly numbers that may never be touched and is the gold standard by which all other receivers will from here after be compared.

Honorable mention-none, there is no one even close.

TE-This is at first glance a close race. But as you look at the numbers the best tight end picture comes more clearly into focus. First we'll examine the principles then give the verdict.

Kellen Winslow was the best tight end of his era. Winslow finished up a Hall of Fame career with 541 catches, 6,741 yards receiving, and 45 TD's. Winslow was named to the Pro Bowl five times and was a three time All Pro. Knee injuries cut his career short but not before Winslow turned in one of the gutsiest performances in NFL history. In 1981 the Chargers and Dolphins pushed there playoff game to overtime after Winslow blocked a last second field goal that would have won the game for Miami. Winslow finished the game with 13 catches for 166 yards. At the end of the game the severely dehydrated tight end had to be helped off the field in what is still one of the most stirring images in NFL history.

Ozzie Newsome was a two-time All Pro and three-time Pro Bowl participant. His 662 career reception, 7,980 yards, and 47 TD's are second all-time amongst tight ends. Newsome had a catch in 150 straight games and was the unquestioned leader of a Cleveland Browns team that played in three AFC Championship games.

Shannon Sharpe came out of Savannah State as a special teams wide receiver and wasn't a full time starter at tight end until '92. His 815 catches, 10,060 yards, and 62 touchdowns are by far the best ever from the position. Sharpe won three Super Bowls and was the crutch John Elway leaned on throughout much of his career. Sharpe is generally regarded as the greatest pass catching TE ever and was a surprisingly effective blocker despite only weighing 230 pounds. Sharpe's stellar play was out done only by his mouth. A memorable Monday not game saw Sharpe taunt Derrick Thomas mercilessly to the point of ejection. Another infamous moment came during a game in Foxboro where the Broncos were trouncing the home-town Patriots. Sharpe mocked a hostile crowd and feigned a call to the National Guard because the Broncos were "killing the Patriots". No one could talk like Sharpe.

Verdict-Sharpe's numbers say it all. He played with maybe the best quarterback ever and was the man's security blanket. Sharpe is the most prolific pass catching tight end ever by far and backed up his trash talking with spectacular reliability. Sharpe should be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer and is the best tight end ever.

Honorable mention-Tony Gonzalez, Mike Ditka, Dave Casper.

OL-All you need to know is that Anthony Munoz broke the weight machine at his rookie combine. The third pick overall in 1980 Munoz erased any and all reservations about his alleged brittle and injury proned college career. He was an All Pro and Pro Bowl selection eleven straight years. Munoz was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary team and won Offensive Lineman of the Year honors three times. As a sophomore in college Munoz pitched for Southern Cal's national title winning baseball squad. Few players ever dominated their positions like Munoz did and that's why he's the best O-lineman ever.

Honorable mention-Gary Zimmerman, Orlando Pace, Eric Williams, Larry Allen, John Hannah, Dwight Stevenson, Mike Webster.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The best ever

As I deal with the debilitating symptoms of football withdraw I thought I could get my fix and have some fun listing the greatest players in NFL history. So here’s a lament’s view on the best players of all time position by position. Over the next week I’ll argue the merits of football’s all-time greats. We’ll start with the two most glamorous positions in the sport.

QB-This debate begins and ends with three names; Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and John Elway. A compelling argument could be made for all three. Unitas had an air about him where you just knew he was going to win. Montana was the smartest and most accurate passer ever and his four Super Bowl rings don’t hurt. Elway is probably the most physically gifted quarterback to ever play. He could run, throw, throw on the run, run on the throw, you name it he could do it.

When you put this debate into context the picture still remains fuzzy.

Unitas had Hell-of-Famer Raymond Berry to throw to and was the first QB to throw for over 40,000 yards. Unitas owns what may be the most unbreakable record in football and maybe all of sports (DiMaggio’s 56 game consecutive hit streak and Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points in a game rank up there); 47 straight games in which he threw a touchdown pass. Only Brett Favre at 36 and Dan Marino at 30 have even come close. Unitas led the Colts to a pair of NFL Championships in ’58 & ’59 and was easily the best quarterback ever until…

Montana won four Super Bowls playing for one of the best coaches ever. Bill Walsh put Montana into a perfect system for his talents. Montana never made bad decisions, was arguably the most accurate passer ever, and ran a difficult offense like Beethoven on a piano. He also had the best receiver ever to throw at and had a vastly underrated Roger Craig as a running back. Montana threw for 40,000 yards and led his team to the playoffs eleven times. Montana was an eight time Pro Bowler and three time MVP. His toss to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship game known simply as “The Catch” may be the most famous play in NFL history.

Elway is one of only two QB’s to ever throw for 50,000+ yards and is only the third ever to toss 300 TD passes. He remains the only quarterback to start five Super Bowls winning two. Elway has the most fourth quarter game-winning or game-tying drives of any QB ever (47), a stat that was literally inspired by his mythical comebacks. Elway’s 334 career TD’s (300 throwing, 33 rushing, 1 receiving) accounted for 82.2% of the broncos’ scoring during his sixteen year tenure. Elway accomplished all this despite not having a single Pro Bowl receiver prior to ’95. In fact, Ed McCaffrey is only the second Pro Bowl receiver Elway ever had. However, Elway did have maybe the best TE ever in Shannon Sharpe and never came close to winning the Super Bowl prior to the arrival of Terrell Davis.

The verdict-because of the numbers he put up, the two Championship rings, and the fact that he won 148 games in his career, another record, John Elway, in my estimation and with as much impartiality as I can muster, is the best QB ever. If this were just a statistical competition Dan Marino would be the best ever and Warren Moon would be in the top five. But you have to take championships into account. Admittedly, if Elway had never won a Super Bowl his name would never enter this discussion but neither would Montana nor Unitas.

Honorable mention: Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Steve Young, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath, Roger Staubach, and Dan Fouts.

RB-There are literally half a dozen different guys you could make a legit case for. Emmitt Smith has the career yards and rushing TD’s records in his pocket. Walter Payton broke the career rushing yards record and held it until Smith broke it several years ago and is still number two all time. Gale Sayers was the most electrifying and explosive runner perhaps the game has ever seen. Eric Dickerson hit the hole harder and faster than anyone I’ve ever seen and his stride looked like a gazelle’s. The list could go on…but for the sake of argument and so that I don’t have to profile umpteen different backs this debate boils down to two; Barry Sanders and Jim Brown.

Barry Sanders redefined the term play maker. He made cuts that would have resulted in compound fractures of the leg for mere mortals. His career per carry average is second all-time and Sanders is one of only two backs with more than 750 carries to average 5+ yards per touch. His retirement in 2000 derailed what should have been an all-out assault on the record books. In ten years he rushed for over 15,000 yards and had 99 touchdowns. Had he played four or five more years he could have put the career rushing mark over 20,000. His 1,500 yard per season average is the best in NFL history and he was never held below 1,000 yards in his entire career. Only Emmitt Smith and Curtis Martin have as many consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. All this on top of the fact he may be the classiest player ever to set foot in a stadium and Sanders’ legacy is complete.

Jim Brown owned nearly every rushing record in the book for over twenty years. Brown has been retired for forty years but is still the only back in history to average over one hundred yards per game and his 5.2 yard per carry career average is still the best ever. Brown rushed for 106 touchdowns in 118 games. He is still number eight on the all-time list despite having over 500 FEWER career carries than anyone else in the top ten. Brown led the league in rushing eight times (the next best is four seasons held by five different backs), including five straight years, both are still records. He led the league in rushing TD’s five times, yet another record. Brown is also generally regarded as the best lacrosse player Syracuse ever had and maybe the best in the history of the NCAA. At 6’2” and 232 pounds Brown had blinding speed and a ferocious running style. He ran over, around, past, and through defenders and even by today’s standards would be considered a big back.

The verdict-Both are worthy of the title best ever and both retired in their primes and far too soon. If you project out there numbers another four or five years and give Brown sixteen game seasons throughout his career both would have put up mind boggling numbers. Had both played for fifteen seasons with an equal number of games Sanders could have rushed for 21,600 yards and Brown for 22,500. No one could have touched those marks. When you consider that Sanders NEVER had a good offensive line or a run oriented offense the numbers he put up are doubly amazing. But Brown is still the only back to average 100+ yards a game and 5.2 yards per carry. For his first four years the NFL had a twelve game season and a fourteen game slate for Brown’s final five. Brown owns records that have been on the books for forty years and may never be touched. Both left the game far too early and both were as good as they get but the ever-so-slight nod goes to Jim Brown.

Monday, March 07, 2005

See ya

Elizabeth Hoffman has now resigned as president of the University of Colorado. Now if we could only work on the inept CU Board of Regents. It is to hope.

A trend?

My most recent posts seem to revolve around all that is stinky. Boy, I gotta get out more.

The stink police

This from Associated Press…

“SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- A new county law aims to keep readers from reeking. Libraries in San Luis Obispo County have had their own rules banning offensive body odor since 1994, but the policy became law after the Board of Supervisors last month adopted an ordinance that lets authorities kick out malodorous guests.

Visitors to 14 libraries and a bookmobile also could be asked to leave for fighting, eating, drinking, sleeping, playing games, and printing or viewing illegal materials on library computers.

"The point is to make the library a comfortable, safe place for everyone to use," said Moe McGee, assistant director of the San Luis Obispo City-County Library.

A strict code of conduct, officials argue, is needed to ensure one patron's right to use a public library doesn't infringe on the rights of another.

Yet the law can raise tough questions for librarians, said Irene Macias, Santa Barbara's library services manager. "What is bad odor?" Macias asked. "A woman who wears a strong perfume? A person who had a garlicky meal?"”

So now the powers that be are legislating odor.

If so, one of my best friends, T-Diddy, is in big trouble. You see, T has a rather notorious lactose intolerance problem. One day T and I were at the Colorado State campus in Ft. Collins after chowing down a heaping helping of your basic New York style greasy pizza. On the drive from the mall to CSU, which took all of ten minutes, I could literally hear the pizza racing its way through T’s digestive tract. We parked and he made a mad dash to the restroom wherein T-Diddy proceeded to drop a bomb that could have stripped the chrome off a bumper. The stench wafted down the hall and the poor, unsuspecting custodian got physically ill.

If odiferous emanations were truly illegal T-Diddy would be Ted Bundy.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

CU or PeeYeeww?

That stench you smell is emanating from the University of Colorado. CU has been under siege throughout the last year due to two very public and infamous incidents; the Gary Barnet recruiting fiasco and the Ward Churchill episode. And at the root of it all may be the CU Board of Regents and University President Betsy Hoffman.

A brief rundown of the sordid state of affairs at Colorado’s largest university system:

Ward Churchill--

The now infamous “When Chickens Come Home to Roost” essay in which Churchill compared 9-11 victims in the World Trade Center towers to Adolph Eichman started the ball rolling.

Now the Cherokee nation says they have no record of Churchill’s registration for Native American status and dispute his claims of being part Indian. His status as part of the Keetoowah Band was strictly honorary and required no proof of Native American heritage.

Churchill allegedly lied to CU about his Indian heritage in order to procure his job in the ethnic studies department.

Allegedly copied several paintings and passed them off as his work and sold hundreds of copies of the works, an offense that would amount to copyright violation.

Two different departments at CU refused to give Churchill tenure before the communications department reluctantly acquiesced. Seems the university was fearful of losing the now embattled professor.

Gary Barnett & the CU football program--

Accusations of rampant recruiting violations which include solicitation of sex, providing minors with alcohol, and sex parties for recruits.

Several players and coaches have been accused of sexual misconduct ranging from sex with female trainers, sexual assault and harassment, and allegations of at least half a dozen rapes involving players and coaches. Katie Hnida publicly alleged being sexually assaulted by a team mate.

A civil suit filed in Federal District court alleging sexual assault on the part of an assistant coach goes to trial later in March.

Recruiting assistant Nathan Maxcey has been indicted for soliciting prostitutes allegedly in connection with several rendezvous set up for recruits at local hotels.

And now the grand jury investigation regarding CU has been leaked. It contains some fairly disturbing accusations (the following is from The Rockey Mountain News, March 1, 2005, by Todd Hartman & Kevin Vaughan and from 9News)

Three of twelve players interviewed admitted sex was used as a recruiting tool.
An accusation that CU displayed "misfeasance" in regard to how Barnett's football camps dealt with money and bookkeeping issues, asserting that camp monies amounted to "slush funds."
An accusation that the CU Foundation, the university's $700 million fund-raising arm, failed to turn over certain documents.
The conclusion that Barnett and director of football operations David Hansburg gave conflicting testimony on how money from the football camps was handled.
A statement that $2,500 could be missing from the accounts of Barnett's football camps at any given time but that the money wouldn't be missed.
A criticism of Barnett for the way he handled a meeting with "Jane Doe," a woman who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a football player.

That’s quite a laundry list of accusation leveled at one of the largest and most visible university systems in the country. Therein lies the rub…the Board of Regents and Betsy Hoffman have apparently been asleep at the wheel for years.

Not only did they fail to take notice of Churchill’s essay in 2002 when he wrote & published the damn thing but they didn’t even review or investigate Churchill’s Native American status. Apparently Churchill is guilty of defrauding the university and plagiarism but Hoffman et al are seemingly frightened of the prospect of removing a tenured professor. Churchill continues to rattle his saber in public defiance of his impending doom.

As far as Barnett is concerned the university has repeatedly claimed that in order to rid themselves of their football coach it would cost $5 million to buy him out of his contract and untold legal fees should Barnett file wrongful termination charges. I flat out don’t buy it. This university has the CU Foundation which has raised over $700 million in donations. They can’t drum up $5 million? Puh-leez. They could have canned Barnett for lack of institutional control, violations of his morals clause, and multiple recruiting violations. Larry Eustachy, Mike Price, and Rick Neuheisel were all recently fired for conduct unbecoming that didn’t amount to squadoosh compared to Barnett’s shenanigans. Yet college football’s Teflon Don sits high atop Mt. Folsom because, once again, the powers that be at CU have not a spine to speak of.

Betsy Hoffman and the Board of Regents are too chickens**t to affect meaningful change at CU. They’re mired in investigation as the institution they owe a fiduciary duty to sinks from ‘neath their feet. As the powers that be at CU flail around like drowning dogs the university is taking a beating in the court of public opinion. Out of state applications are down by 25%, fund raising supposedly is lagging, and the football program has run amuck. Hoffman & Co. need to stop rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and do their jobs.


Thought for the day…

If I ever meet the person who invented pop-up windows I’m going to bludgeon them to death with a frozen turnip while they sleep.