Saturday, April 27, 2019

Thoughts on the NFL Draft, Elmimian released. (NFL/CFL)

         Suffice to say, I watched the entire first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and I noticed a few interesting points that came about in the process. I'm not going to go into detail about Kyler Murray going first overall to the Cardinals, because that was no surprise (probably the worst kept secret, ever) whatsoever to anyone.

         San Francisco. The 49ers (YAY!) took Nick Bosa second overall, and with that, got the best player by far in the draft. I count myself as one of those sports writers that considers Bosa to be one of the most complete players (as so far as his college career) that was available in the draft. He is definitely going to be a major building block for the Niners, who are putting together quite the team as of late. There is no doubt in my mind that the Niners will make the playoffs in the upcoming season.
         Yesterday's news. From the first moment of the draft, there was a lot of talk about the Cardinals trading Josh Rosen to make way for Kyler Murray, with said Cardinals feverishly trying to get rid of the young QB (their first overall pick last year!) before the night's end. When all was said and done, Josh Rosen was traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a couple of picks. What I don't understand is why they would go out and get a franchise quarterback, only to replace him with another franchise quarterback a year later. It's no wonder the Cardinals keep finishing last.

         Land of the Giants. In a very surprise move, the New York Giants drafted Duke QB Daniel Jones sixth overall as heir apparent to incumbent Eli Manning, even though everyone out there (including myself!) was sure they'd draft Dwayne Haskins as their next QB. Jones has the pedigree, and might just be the next star QB, but literally no one saw this coming. Whether or not he starts in the new season won't be known, as it's more likely he'll serve as second or third string behind Manning for a whole year first and foremost.

        Bye bye Elmimian. The BC Lions released their star linebacker (and former MOP) Soloman Elmimian, choosing to part ways with their long-time defensive back, even though he had taken a pay cut to stay in BC for the rest of his career. This is a little surprising, as it's a well known fact he didn't really want to play elsewhere. That being said, he probably won't retire either. We'll just have to wait and see where he turns up, providing the CFLPA doesn't strike anytime soon.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

NFL Draft 2019 - First round results. (NFL)

          This is the rundown of the first round of the 2019 National Football League Draft, from Nashville, Tennessee.

         1) Arizona Cardinals select QB Kyler Murray - Oklahoma

         2) San Francisco 49ers select DE Nick Bosa - Ohio State

         3) New York Jets select DT Quinnen Williams - Alabama

         4) Oakland Raiders select DE Clelin Ferrell - Clemson

         5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers select LB Devin White - LSU

         6) New York Giants select QB Daniel Jones - Duke

         7) Jacksonville Jaguars select DE Josh Allen - Kentucky

         8) Detroit Lions select TE T.J. Hockenson - Iowa

         9) Buffalo Bills select DT Ed Oliver - Houston

         10) Pittsburgh Steelers acquire pick from the Denver Broncos and select LB Devin Bush
               - Michigan

         11) Cincinnati Bengals select T Jonah Williams - Alabama

         12) Green Bay Packers select DE Rashan Gary - Michigan

         13) Miami Dolphins select DT Christian Wilkins - Clemson

         14) Atlanta Falcons select G Chris Lindstrom - Boston College

         15) Washington Redskins select QB Dwayne Haskins - Ohio State

         16) Carolina Panthers select DE Brian Burns - FSU

         17) New York Giants select DT Dexter Lawrence - Clemson

         18) Minnesota Vikings select C Garrett Bradbury - NC State

         19) Tennessee Titans select DT Jeffery Simmons - Mississippi St.

         20) Denver Broncos select TE Noah Fant - Iowa

         21) Green Bay Packers acquire pick from the Seattle Seahawks and select S Darnell Savage
               - Maryland

         22) Philadelphia Eagles acquire pick from the Baltimore Ravens and select T Andre Dillard
               - Washington St.

         23) Houston Texans select T Titus Howard - Alabama St.

         24) Oakland Raiders select RB Josh Jacobs - Alabama

         25) Baltimore Ravens select WR Marquise Brown - Oklahoma

         26) Washington Redskins acquire pick from the Indianapolis Colts and select LB Montez
                Sweat - Mississippi St.

         27) Oakland Raiders select S Johnathan Abram - Mississippi St.

         28) Los Angeles Chargers select DT Jerry Tillery - Notre Dame

         29) Seattle Seahawks select DE L.J. Collier - TCU

         30) New York Giants acquire pick from the Seattle Seahawks and select CB Deandre Baker
               - Georgia

         31) Atlanta Falcons acquire pick from the Los Angeles Rams and select T Kaleb McGary
               - Washington

         32) New England Patriots select WR N'Keal Harry - Arizona State

               First round complete. Stay tuned for analysis and comments!

Cornish inducted, CFLPA stays away. (CFL)

          Jon Cornish was announced as one of the inductees to the Canadian Football Hall Of Fame, in the 2019 class. Cornish played his entire CFL career (nine seasons) with the Calgary Stampeders, winning two Grey Cup championships (2008, 2014) and winning the Most Outstanding Player award in his 2013 season. Cornish racked up 6,844 yards rushing with 44 touchdowns, as well as 1,666 yards receiving with 9 touchdowns.
          Other 2019 inductees are as follows: Terry Greer (player), 'Swervin' Mervyn Fernandez (player), Ernie Pitts (player), David Williams (player), Jim Hopson (builder), and Frank Smith (builder). All in all, a pretty decent class to be inducted.

          Players don't report. More and more CFL players are staying away from training camp, with many becoming outspoken about the circumstances as well. Lions' QB Mike Reilly is one of the latest star players to publicly announce his withdrawal from any and all training camps, as well as calling for CFL players everywhere to stay away.
          While I empathize with the players to a certain extent (everyone needs a little more money these days), I can't really take their side, as the CFL doesn't pull in anywhere near the revenue that the NFL south of the border does, and there is only so much money to go around. I'm not exactly taking the league's side either, as I firmly believe that Ambrosie and the CFL brain trust deserve much of the blame for the league's current situation with the players.
          As an avid fan, I just want this whole thing to be resolved soon so that we can all just watch CFL football again, as the new season is on the horizon. The CFL can ill afford to have a work stoppage of any kind, as it would do irreparable damage to the league, it's players, and most importantly, the fans that pay their hard-earned money to participate. The onus is now on both sides to behave like adults and get a deal done, and soon.

          TTS also sends a shout out to the BC Lions, and offer condolences for the loss of equipment manager Ken 'Kato' Katsuya. The CFL has always been big on personalities, and it lost one yesterday. Rest in peace, Mr. Katsuya.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The calm before the Draft. (NFL)

          With just over two days left until the 2019 National Football League Draft, the talk is heating up, as are the projections for the draft order. More and more scenarios are starting to pop up, with a lot of NFL analysts painting very different pictures. The following points listed below are the top things to watch at this year's draft, and how they could potentially affect the draft order itself, as well as the strategies of all the 32 teams.

          Will the 49ers trade, again? As a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, this was something that made we very angry at last year's draft. Once again, they have the second overall pick, but really need to use it wisely. Last year's deal with the Bears negated an early QB pick (because no one expected the signing of Garoppolo, including myself), and sent all of us 49ers fans into a frenzy. Hopefully, they'll use said pick on a  much needed player this time around.

          Kyler Murray. Every major sports analyst has weighed in on this, having Murray go as high as the number one pick, and as low as the number seventeen pick. The Cardinals apparently want Murray, but suddenly have said they'll pass on him. It's hard to know who to believe in this saga, and I firmly think that if Arizona doesn't take him with the number one pick, he'll get picked up at number five by the Buccaneers, or number six by the Giants.

          What are the Raiders up to? With the fourth pick in the draft, and a hell of a lot of questions, the Raiders have been all over the place as of late, with Jon Gruden spewing tons of misinformation about what his team is actually up to. They could use a quarterback, with Derek Carr not really the answer they had expected, and could definitely use upgrades on the O-line as well. The Raiders seem to be a bigger mess than the Jags for once, so I honestly don't know which direction they are going. We'll all have to wait and see on this one.

          The Giants' heir apparent. It's no secret that Eli Manning's best days are now behind him, with the New York Giants looking for a successor at this year's draft. Kyler Murray could be an option (providing the Cardinals don't yank him first overall), but they could also draft Dwayne Haskins to fill the role they need as well. They could even take Duke's Daniel Jones as well, depending on how the first five picks go down. With OBJ now gone from New York, the Giants will also need to acquire some weapons for their new quarterback in order to compete quickly.

          Boo birds. Last but not least, expect league commissioner to get loudly booed every time he steps up to the podium during the draft. No one can really stand the guy, especially after the debacle at the NFC Championship game back in January. He's probably going to get booed louder than he ever has been, and that is music to the ears of regular football fans everywhere. You reap what you sow, right?

          Enjoy the draft! TTS will have the picks here on draft night!

Friday, April 19, 2019

CFLPA plays hardball, and Paopao returns. (CFL)

          It seems the ongoing labour dispute between the CFL and the CFLPA is getting nastier, with the player's association telling it's members not to report to training camps whatsoever. All reports point to the two entities drifting further apart, putting the upcoming season in great jeopardy. To add even more of a story to this, there has been no comment whatsoever from CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie. This is a commissioner that has not been anywhere near transparent since day one, and who I believe is partly responsible for the situation with the players.

         Paopao is back. Joe Paopao, formerly the only head coach of the now-defunct Ottawa Renegades, and also a former coordinator with other CFL teams, has returned to the league. He join the Ottawa RedBlacks as their running backs coach, after having spent the past several years as the Simon Fraser offensive coordinator.
         Some may remember that before joining the Renegades, Paopao was head coach of the B.C. Lions (when they were really terrible for a time) for one season, before being let go (wasn't his fault). He has been a coordinator with five other CFL teams in the past, and knows his way around the league quite well. I believe his knowledge can be an asset for the RedBlacks as a whole.

         Hawkshaw goes bye-bye. Veteran CFL referee Dave Hawkshaw has left the CFL after fifteen seasons as an official, getting a spot south of the border with the NFL. He had reffed almost 200 games up here in Canada, inclusing three Grey Cups as the head official. The CFL and NFL formed a partnership of officiating back in 2016, and it looks as if it's one of the few things at the moment that is running smoothly for the CFL.
         The only question I have is this: Will Hawkshaw instinctively throw a flag for 'No Yards' in his NFL debut just for the hell of it? One can dream!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Wilson stays in Seattle, Eskimos research name. (CFL/NFL)

          All signs in the NFL world pointed to quarterback Russell Wilson heading to New York to play for the Giants, apparently having had enough of Seattle. This turned out not to be the case, as yesterday Wilson signed an extension with the Seahawks for $140-million over the next four years, paying him $2-million more a year than Aaron Rodgers is getting from the Green Bay Packers.
          In all seriousness, Russell Wilson is in no way worth that kind of money. Yes, he won a single Super Bowl with Seattle some time ago now, but his play has been erratic since then, at times being painful to watch on a weekly basis. Inconsistent is a understatement, with Wilson piling up the interceptions and sacks as of late. Then again, it's Seattle. Instead of trading him and getting something for him, and going younger (or upgrading), they stick with the status quo, and over pay for it in the process. Look for Seattle to finish out of the playoffs for some time, all while Wilson laughs his head off on his way to the bank.

         Eskimos? In the latest episode from the world of political correctness, the Edmonton Eskimos football team is running a research project to see if their team name is 'acceptable' and 'doesn't offend the Inuit'. I am by no means an Eskimo fan (although Warren Moon was always a top player for me), yet I find this whole thing slightly offensive. The Eskimos have been around since 1949 (that's 70 years for anyone that hasn't done the math yet), and this has never been a problem until now.
         People don't seem to realize that a team name is just that - a team name. They are not meant to offend, but rather honour. It's a way of keeping important pieces of history alive through sport, and remind us all to also not take things so damn seriously. Sport is a way for us to split from the seriousness of the world, and let go. Why people are only now getting offended for something so trivial is beyond me.
         Everyone needs to grow up, and enjoy sport, and stop complaining about every little nuance that makes sports fun for all. Here at TTS, we hope the Eskimos stay the Eskimos.

         Oh.....and Randy Ambrosie: KEEP OUT OF IT.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Argos news, Wilson wants New York. (CFL/NFL)

           There are a couple interesting news points to come out of Toronto in the last day or so pertaining to the Argonauts, and I will touch on both of them to start.
           It had been confirmed a little while ago that the Toronto Argonauts will play their first preseason game at Varsity Stadium on the University of Toronto campus. As someone who has watched a football game at said stadium, I think this is a great idea. The former Varsity Field has been an institution for football since it came into being, and holding a preseason CFL game there is really a no-brainer when you think about it.
           So many Grey Cup games have been played on the site, and it's only logical to have it host a professional game once again. I am of the opinion that this should be an annual occurrence, playing to the history of the game itself. The only thing I would change would be the match-up. I'd rather see the Argonauts face off at Varsity with either the Tiger-Cats, or the Blue Bombers. Now THAT would complete the awesome.
           Rowboat football logo making a return? It has been suggested that the Argonauts are also looking to bring back their iconic rowing football boat logo, last used in the 1970's. I'm not sure where I stand on this one, as the A-logo on the shield has looked pretty good for the last while. If they tweaked the uniforms to reflect the logo change on the helmets, then it might just make sense. The only issue would be doing all this, but fielding an non-competitive team at the same time. That being said, only time will tell on both fronts.

           New York, New York? Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson apparently wants to leave Seattle and go to New York, with the Giants as his probable destination. Everyone knows as of late that Wilson has become unhappy in Seattle, and has said publicly he wants out, but it wasn't known until now where it is he wants to go.
           The confusing part about this whole situation, is why it's even a situation. I still maintain that Wilson is a one-and-done, winning his lone Super Bowl largely because of the defence his Seahawks team had that year, as well as the supporting cast he had on offence. Yes, Wilson is a scrambler, and sometimes a play-maker, but he is predictable and can be contained. He also is famous for interceptions at crucial moments (HINT, HINT!), and makes poor decisions in the pocket more often than not, which can really cause issues on an important drive.
           And that's a fact.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

CFL changes some rules, and delays negotiations. (CFL)

        The CFL's board of governors have allowed a slew of rule changes in time for the upcoming (hopefully!) season. The following are some of the more interesting changes:

- Command centre can now assist with called and non-called pass interference
- Command centre now has the ability to upgrade a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer to 25 yards if there is contact to the passer's head or neck (not happy with this one!)
- Forcible hits to the long-snapper are now illegal (don't understand this one at all....)
- Any player that 'dives' or intentionally falls down to draw a penalty will be assessed a 10 yard objectionable conduct penalty
- Any ball that hits or deflects off the upright will now be a live ball instead of a dead ball (I'm not sure what the thinking is behind this. There was nothing wrong with this rule beforehand.)

       For a full list of all the new rule changes, visit CFL.CA

       Lock out looming? The Canadian Football League Player's Association says that the CFL is purposely delaying negotiations on the new CBA, and this is potentially pushing both sides towards a lock out. Players on the CFLPA's board are starting to feel as if the CFL wants to keep it's status quo, and aren't very happy about it.
       Soloman Elmimian was quoted as saying the CFL is giving them the "same status quo - 'Shut up and do your job' or 'shut up and play football' - well, we're not having it anymore."
       The consensus amongst the CFLPA is that the deal needs to get done for all the players that are still to come, not for the current lot. They are looking to the future and trying to make the league a better place for the next crop of football players. One of the key issues is the lack of bonuses being paid until a new deal is complete. Many players, including Elmimian and Duron Carter, have taken exception to this, and being very outspoken as well.
       As more and more players line up against the CFL, and with Randy Ambrosie keeping relatively silent on the whole matter, it seems we are likely headed towards a lock out, and one that could get very messy, very fast, where no one will win. In fact, the league as a whole could suffer tremendously if this all gets mishandled. Not a good situation whatsoever.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Rodgers get 'smeared', Eagles sign a QB. (NFL)

          It seems that the Aaron Rodgers/Mike McCarthy saga is still very far from being over., as Rodgers himself has now gone on record refuting claims from former teammates about what has been going on in the Packers organization in the last several years. Rodgers labelled this recent controversy as a "smear attack by a writer looking to advance his career by talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda."
          Rodgers has been called a 'prima donna' as of late, as stories of his preferential treatment by former head coach Mike McCarthy and upper management have been made public. Even though Rodgers has pretty much branded all of this talk as garbage, I firmly believe there is a lot more substance to this than meets the eye. Too many former players have been relating the same experiences, and it can't easily be ignored. With new information being presented that paints McCarthy in a more negative light, and you have the basis for something more than just a couple of disgruntled teammates with an axe to grind.
          This story has also been given some serious time on top-rate sports shows, and the reactions on Twitter and other social media platforms has been tremendous as of late. We probably still won't get the full picture, and Rodgers is not going to spill the beans so as to not damage his own image any more than it already is. 

          Perez to the Eagles. The Philadelphia Eagles have been the latest NFL team to sign a higher-profile ex-AAF player, bringing quarterback Luis Perez into the fold. Perez played in the AAF's truncated season with the Birmingham Iron, throwing for 1.395 yards over seven games, with 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He finished the season with a low 67.9 passer rating.
          I personally managed to watch a few of the Iron's games where Perez started. His first couple of starts were horrendous, throwing most of his interceptions in those games, and looking more like a fish out of water. He did improve over the next few games, throwing better, and engineering some excellent drives to help his team. That being said, his decision-making process isn't a very good one, and he lacks the downfield vision that other quarterbacks seem to have. I have no doubt that he will third on the Eagles' depth chart, behind Carson Wentz and whoever else will be backing him up. 
          Then again, Perez could be cut in training camp or preseason. No one knows for sure. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

McCarthy cheesed off, AAF is 'sorry'. (NFL/AAF)

         There has been a lot of interesting news coming out of Green Bay in the past few days, and I'd like to touch on that first. It's no secret that ever since the Packers won their last Super Bowl title in 2010, there has been a steady decline in the team. Long-time head coach Mike McCarthy was fired midway through the 2018 campaign, with more and more details coming out just now.
        At first it seemed that McCarthy was quickly scapegoated due to the teams struggles last year (even though he was long gone when they missed the playoffs), but then word came out that it wasn't just the team's performance that led to his downfall, but the attitude of quarterback Aaron Rodgers as well. I would have never thought of Aaron Rodgers as a prima donna, due to his strong on-field play, and 'never give up' persona. A lot of now ex-Packers have given some insight to this situation, and it paints a very bad picture of how messed up Green Bay really is.
       Add to the fact that more details have come out about dissention amongst players and coaches, mostly due to Aaron Rodgers and his perception towards team rules, and you have a lot of dysfunction. In my humble opinion, Rodgers, who is now getting up there in age, should be released or traded, and the quarterback of the future brought in to move the Packers forward. Rodgers has reached his best-before date long ahead of when Brett Favre reached his.

       The AAF doesn't pay. It has been revealed that since the AAF (Alliance of American Football) folded a few days ago, that they haven't fully paid players owed salary, as well as fees for venues and other things. Some players have complained of having to pay hotel costs on their own, as well as medical costs incurred from injuries due to playing the game.
       Tim Dundon, who owned the AAF, has very deep pockets (himself bankrolling the AAF to the tune of 250 million dollars), and really needs to get this sorted out ASAP. The players are in no way responsible for the collapse of the league, and should get what is owed to them, and quickly. I honestly don't understand why Dundon and what's left of the upper management continue to do nothing. No positives can come out of this if players remain unpaid. The AAF as a league was branded as an organization where the players (and their health) are first and foremost. At the moment, this doesn't appear to the be the case, and that's sad.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The AAF is no more. (AAF)

Announced late yesterday, the AAF (Alliance of American Football) has suspended all operations, as per the orders of the chairman, Tom Dundon. While initial rumblings from Dundon a couple of weeks ago were labelled as 'unsubstantiated' and 'not true', it seems they were after all. Dundon had said a little while back that he was pondering shutting down the league due to the NFL 'not giving the AAF young players off their rosters', as the AAF is a 'developmental league'.

Now we find out that the AAF has been shut down due to a severe cash flow issue, with many players not having been paid their full salaries, as well as team personnel throughout the league. It was said from the very beginning of season that because of low player salaries and a central league ownership, that money wouldn't become as issue whatsoever. That being said, with the key people the AAF has in upper management, you just know that their salaries wouldn't be average, either.

Key people like Bill Polian, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Mike Pereira, Dean Blandino, Jared Allen, and others are rumoured to make salaries somewhere in the millions. Head coaches in the AAF are paid $500,000, coordinators $200,000, and around $100,000 (give or take a few thousand) for position coaches. Each teams coaching staff sits at around $2-million dollars, and when you add in all the players on the roaster, you get a team payroll of around $6,100,000. Add in all the support staff and such, and we can see where this is going.

It is conceivable that  Tom Dundon and his inner circle underestimated costs, or overestimated the demand for football. I've watched a lot of the games on TV, and I can see for myself that most stadiums are lacking spectators in the stands. Camera angles are used (and the SkyCam too) to show the field and players predominantly, while hiding the fans (or lack thereof) in the stands. With some teams charging as much as $185 for a single ticket, it's no wonder.

The quality of the football played in the AAF is excellent, but most of the players are not stars. To overcharge for this experience is to insult and anger the fanbase that are trying to attach themselves to the game and enjoy something they might not otherwise be able to afford. The AAF is a great idea, and is fun to watch, but I don't think the people in charge put enough thought into the whole process. Hopefully, it comes back for a second season.....