Archive for February, 2009

Hmm so this is how Dan gets his money back !!!!!

Hmm so this is how Dan gets his money back !!!!!

That’s the Queen that sits on the throne at Buckingham Palace and not the deceased rock star who continues to rock NFL stadiums during time outs.

Well the answer is ………both have two birthdays.

Every year it seems Mr Snyder manages to have his own little private party with NFL studs when the free agency period commences. 

 2009 has been no exception, as the Washington Redskins signed THE best FA available in the form of Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth, and in the same day re-signed Cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Within about 24 hours the Redskins have sent an email to all their fans to pre-order Haynesworth shirts (see above).

To recoup the $100 million that it has cost to get Haynesworth from Tennessee thats gonna mean the sale of a military aircraft hanger full of shirts.

The Redskins needed to upgrade their defensive line, and Haynesworth is a stunning way to start. Now they need some defensive ends to go with Big Al. Washington’s pass rush has not dominated since Charles Mann and Dexter Manley were together almost 20 years ago.

Judging from Al’s opening Redskins press conference he was very impressed by the Redskins history, and he felt very happy with the three Vince Lombard trophies standing in front of him as he spoke to reporters.

Lets just remember one thing – the Redskins have not been to a Superbowl for a long time. Can Big Al make the difference? Not by himself, but he will certainly give a big boost to the team both via ticket sales and by locker room leadership.

NFL FAN IN ENGLAND FREE AGENCY RATING (A to E)

Player – Albert Haynesworth

Position – Defensive Tackle

How badly will his old team miss him – A – He was the biggest name on the team

How influential will he be with his new team – B – He will start but he will not repeat his 2008 form

Will he get a Pro Bowl berth in 2009 – No – He now has the cash and will be gameplanned around but he will make the Redskins D line stronger and if he can get 5 sacks it will make a huge difference.

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Parity – the utopia of NFL executives, where every team in the NFL finishes 8-8 and the entire playoff structure is decided by a series of nail biting coin tosses (no doubt by someone from the US military).

8-8 in 2008 meant something for the San Diego Chargers, as they managed to bob above the old parts and one eyed monsters that were the waterlogged trash compacter of the playoffs.

8-8 on the other hand meant another year of futility, frustration and forgettable football for the Washington Redskins, who decided to exemplify parity, and become the sheriff of a town called Average.

Nobody wants their team to finish 8-8 – its like getting to second base only to find the woman, who’s top you are fumbling under, is simultaneously yawning and texting for a taxi home.

It was a journey, you had hope at the outset, you felt the buzz of potentially seeing young parts you had not seen before (in this instance rookies Devin Thomas WR, Malcolm Kelly WR and Fred Davis TE), you felt the skills you already had would be silky smooth (Clinton Portis and Santana Moss), and you looked forward to making a real impact (London Fletcher, Jason Taylor, LaRon Landry).

To end with an average outcome is to own the proverbial glass of milk – is it half filling the receptacle or is it half empty – the cow may be producing the tasty calcium drink, but will his body make that juicy angus steak that you crave?

So what are the needs of the Washington Redskins in the offseason?

More to follow………

This is how I want to remember Favre, not being lifted of the Meadowlands surface on a stretcher with team mates praying around him

This is how I want to remember Favre, not being lifted of the Meadowlands surface on a stretcher with team mates praying around him

I cannot be alone in standing up and giving a big round of applause to Brett Favre for completing one of (if not the) most legendary feats of modern professional sports – 271 consecutive starts as an NFL quarterback.

Records are there to be broken, but almost 17 consecutive seasons of sun, wind, hail, snow, away fan abuse, and defenders trying to put him on his back puts Brett Favre on a stage that I very much doubt anyone will be able to share.

I do hope and pray that Brett’s retirement announcement is official – for two reasons – one selfish and one admirable.

The selfish reason is obvious, I don’t think I could cope with ANOTHER off-season filled with ‘will he or won’t he retire’ gossip from the smug ‘I deserve a big slap in the face’ Adam Schefter or the likes of PTIs Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser to the varied sports writers that guest on Around the Horn (gotta love Woody Page !!!).

The admirable reason is Favre compiled some statistics that make your eyes bleed, from the 17 consecutive seasons with 3,000 plus passing yards to the mind blowing 65,127 total passing yards, to the insane 464 passing touchdowns.  Those statistics are to be poured over in 2012 or 2013 (I can’t work it out) when people make their pilgrimage to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Finishing aged 39 with 16 starts in his final 16 games is the perfect way to bow out, and although he threw an equal amount of touchdowns and interceptions in 2008 (22 a piece) he kept up his 17 year streak of over 3,000 yards a season and 18 or more touchdowns.

Any longer and Favre risked not only a serious injury but he risked damaging his legacy as the toughest SOB that ever put on an NFL uniform.

One Super Bowl win (and two Super Bowl appearances) may seem a little low for a guy who was a prime performer for 17 full NFL seasons, but we have to remember he did not always have a world beating support cast, nor did he have the best head coaches (Ray Rhodes, Mike Sherman).

Just for fun and just for the record for you trivia nuts here is Brett’s stats from his first NFL start and his (hopefully) last one.

First – September 27, 1992 – 17-3 home win Packers v Steelers – 14 of 19 210 yards 2 td 0 int – Brett Favre’s First NFL touchdown 76 yards to WR Sterling Sharpe

***269 consecutive regular season games inbetween***

Last – December 28, 2008 – 17-24 home loss Jets v Dolphins – 20 of 40 233 yards 1 td 0 int – Brett Favre’s Last NFL touchdown 13 yards to WR Laverneus Coles

There will never be another Brett Favre, he is a one off, a grizzled block of granite that is tougher than King Kong after Godzilla has just abducted Fay Wray.

I want to thank you Brett for the memories and I wish you a happy, peaceful and content retirement, safe in the knowledge that you left every single ounce of pride, guts, determination, charisma and class on the turf or grass of every NFL Stadium.

Brett Favre I salute you………..as long as you stay retired.

Not a high profile NFL star but one of my heroes growing up - rest in peace Mel Kaufman

Not a high profile NFL star but one of my heroes growing up - rest in peace Mel Kaufman

I was stunned to read on NFL.com that former Washington Redskins linebacker Mel Kaufman has passed away. It may be true that not every NFL fan in England may be aware of Mel, but for me he was an 80s Redskins icon.

As a 12 year old in 1986 I would buy a magazine in this country called Quarterback, a weekly American Football newspaper. Each week there would be an A2 size poster in the middle page, featuring an NFL superstar.

One of the first superstars that ever went onto my wall was none other than #55 Redskins linebacker Mel Kaufman.

Looking menacing Kaufman was there to look after me when I was doing my homework, in a cold bedroom that had no central heating. He went through two different colours of blue tack (blue and then green) to keep him up on my wall, but for at least 4 years he was a daily presence in my life, looking after me when times were tough.

To read that Kaufman died aged 50 made me take a deep breath and again count my blessings. My thoughts are with his family and friends who will be needing support at this sad time.

Kaufman won two Super Bowls as a player (XVII v Dolphins and XXII v Broncos) and lost one (XVIII v Raiders) and won a third as a scout (Superbowl XXVI). He also had some respectable statistics. He also was on the 1980 Division II championship team as a Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo LB.

As a Redskins captain  for 8 years (1981-1988) Kaufman let his leadership qualities speak for  themselves. I understand he devoted a lot of his time to charity work, and made a positive difference in people’s lives. He recently came back to his college and was the linebackers coach.

It must be very hard for all those who played with Mel at Cal Poly and those linebackers who he was coaching this season at Cal Polyas well as other graduates of the college which include living NFL legend John Madden, cage fighter Chuck Liddell and MLB Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

His cause of death is as yet unknown.

Rest in peace Mel Kaufman – my boyhood poster hero.

Half a yard from a big payday - and I'n not talking a King Size peanut based snack bar
Half a yard from a big payday – and I’m not talking a King Size peanut based snack bar

I’m over it now, but it took me almost 48 hours to calm my hulk like rage following the Ben Roethlisberger touchdown that never was in Sunday’s Superbowl.

I had £8 on Big Ben to score the first touchdown of the game on a run, and when he took off scrambling I saw the £’s flashing in front of my eyes as I got 33-1 odds on that event occurring.
I didn’t quite celebrate as I knew it was a close call, but the commentators in the London Sky Sports studio, which included former Cardinals QB Jay Schroeder, all agreed that Roethlisberger had crossed the line. See here for the play so you can make your own mind up.
Once I saw the red flag on the Raymond James Stadium field I had a bad feeling – but I also knew I could be time to celebrate.
When the ref reversed the call on the field I was gutted to say the least and I let out a few choice words in my living room.
On cold reflection two days later  his knee was down and it was a helluva tackle by Darnell Dockett, who could have been in the running for MVP had the Cardinals held on.
It was a superb game (aside from that play!) and I absolutely loved the momentum shifts, the Cardinals fightback and the way Santonio Holmes stepped up and said ‘I will take responsibility for us moving downfield’ (probably a bit more dramatically broadcast in the huddle).
Dominique Rogers-Cromartie had a fantastic rookie season, but he was picked on at the Superbowl, as was Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco. The Cardinals showed the world that they deserved to be in the big game, but the Steelers showed why the won their sixth title, by finding the very small flaws in the Cardinals defense.
This was a game for the ages, and in the end the better team just about won. Congratulations to the Steelers for title six, and a big round of applause to the Cardinals for making this game one that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Big Ben I forgive you for falling short on that td run, but next time you take off in the first quarter of a Superbowl (and yes I do think he will be back again before his career is over) give it that extra little bit of effort please. For the sake of my wife’s sensitive ears. 
Anyone else lose money on the Super Bowl? Let the world know
I think Boldin will be the MVP

I think Boldin will be the MVP

It’s my favourite day of the year today. Better than my birthday, better than Christmas, even better than that feeling when you know you have just done your last shift at work before a two week break. It’s Superbowl Sunday.

It’s a day that is unlike any other as evey play on Superbowl Sunday becomes part of NFL folklore, every catch, every tackle, every kick, every block, all immortalised by the incredible people at NFL Films.

Over the past week here in England those who have a subscription to the Sky Sports satellite channels have had the privilege of watching every episode of  ‘America’s Game’.

Seeing the rags to riches tale of Kurt Warner in 1999, the dominating defenses of the ’85 Bears, the ’00 Ravens and the ’02 Buccaneers, along with the  legendary Dolphins, Steelers, Redskins, and Raiders teams (to name a few) of the past 40 years it makes you realise that this Sunday is more than just a game, it is a notch in the giant oak tree of history. A notch that is permanent, a notch that is there forever for all to see.

This game between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers sees one team that is historically a by-word for ineptitude, for losing and for afterthought against a team that boasts five Superbowl wins and five Superbowl trophies in their creaking trophy cabinet.

I think (as a neutral) I will have the same pre-game feelings as many of you out there. I want the Cardinals to win (I have even bet £10.00 on them to win by 7 to 12 points at 8-1) but I cannot look beyond the Steelers defense. The cliche is true ‘offense wins games – defense wins championships’. It’s true, and watching America’s Game just makes that statement bigger and bolder than ever.

I saw John Madden interviewed this week and he was asked for a prediction – he said no one predicts, we all just guess. I agree, and so for the record and so you can poke fun at me on Monday here are my guesses regarding Superbowl XLIII………..

Final Score – Cardinals 28-21 Steelers – I reckon Warner tosses three touchdowns (two to Boldin one to Edgarrin James) and Tim Hightower gets the Cardinals 4th. Ill go with a Roethlisberger run, a Hines Ward catch and a Heath Miller catch for the three Steelers touchdowns.

Game MVP – Anquan Boldin – Arizona Cardinals WR – (9 catches 111 yards 2 touchdowns)  My thought process behind Boldin is based on the fact that Fitzgerald will be the man who will have his #11 jersey followed around the Tampa Bay field like a sniper on a target. Boldin has had bad press for calling out his offensive coordinator, but we all know he has incredible hands and some pretty good speed. Boldin can get the MVP if the gameplan is aimed at getting him the ball, just like Deion Branch for the Patriots in Superbowl XXXIX (2005).

 Now lets see who you think will be MVP and why…………..