Sunday, February 24, 2013

2012 College Football All-America with dreads

In the first of my two all-America teams, we'll look at who I ranked as the best players with dreads in Division 1 for the recently completed 2012 season. Of the 48 players who made the 2011 team, 17 are repeat selections on this year's squad, while 18 others were drafted by the NFL. I'm happy to announce that the team is expanding to 72 players this season as I will be doing a 3rd team for the first time. But even with the upgrade, some really good players didn't make the cut and will have to settle for honorable mention. By my unofficial count there are 152 players with dreads in D-1 who earned all-conference honors in 2012, and 20 of those were recognized as all-America by the Associated Press. The 152 was down slightly from last year's total of 159. I tried hard not to forget or miss anybody; but if I did, please let me know.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

NFL '12 Dread News - Week 22

So, where were you when the lights went out .... at the Superdome? Well, I know where the Baltimore Ravens were: 22 points ahead in the 3rd quarter and on their way to turning Super Bowl 47 into a blowout. But when played resumed following a 34-minute delay, their would-be romp over the San Francisco 49ers suddenly turned into a lot of hard work. The 28-6 lead vanished as the 49ers closed to within 31-29. But just as they did several times throughout the season, the Ravens found a way to win when they had no business winning, this time holding on for a 34-31 victory at New Orleans last Sunday night.

"It wasn't perfect. It wasn't pretty. But it was us," said Ravens Coach Harbaugh after the game. No doubt "it was us". Of the Ravens' 14 wins (including the playoffs) this was their 7th by a margin of 3 points or less. But hey, they only count W's and L's - not whether the W's and L's are pretty or not. It was the 49ers who dominated in total yards 468-367, gashing the Ravens' D for 7.8 yards per play. It was the 49ers who either scored or reached the red zone on their final 5 possessions of the game. But it was the Ravens who were celebrating when time expired, raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the 2nd time since the franchise began in 1996 and the first time since the 2000 season.
After practicing for two weeks, the 49ers came out and had an illegal formation penalty on their very first snap on offense. It doesn't get much worse than that. The penalty wiped out what would have been a 20-yard gain. Instead the 49ers went three-and-out on their first possession. Then the 49ers' defense took the field - and started no better than the offense.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Here's Hanley - Welcome Home!

We have just turned the page on the calendar to February, and that means the beginning of baseball's spring training is just around the corner. And I'm happy to report that we'll be welcoming a new member into the house for the 2013 season. Actually, it'll be more like welcoming home a long lost friend ....... I know I've mentioned this story a couple of times before in my MLB reports, but here it is one more time just to refresh your memory.

The last time we welcomed Hanley Ramirez into the house, he didn't stay for long. Not that he wanted to leave, instead it was his employers that made him leave. That was back in 2009, when Ramirez - the star SS for the Florida (now known as Miami) Marlins - and also outfielder Cameron Maybin showed up at spring training with their hair in beginner dreads (Ramirez left photo below, Maybin on right) . After saying nothing and doing nothing for most of the preseason, all of a sudden about a week before the regular season was to start, the team's ownership announced a new team policy: no dreads allowed - or any other kind of long hair for that matter - for anyone playing for the Marlins (rules like this can exist in MLB - but not in the NFL because the basic agreement between NFL owners and players allows players to do whatever they please with their hair). I don't know what reaction Maybin had, but Ramirez was incensed at the edict, to say the least.

At first Ramirez said he wanted to be traded but then changed his mind and took his anger out on the baseball instead, pounding it to the tune of a career high .342 batting average that season. But Hanley never lost his desire to have dreads.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

NFL '12 Dread News - Week 21

Commissioner Goodell, whose bright idea it was to schedule a Super Bowl to be played in an outdoor stadium in New York (so next year, after spending a thousand bucks for a ticket but then you can't make it to the game because NYC is in the middle of a paralyzing, 20-inch snowstorm, you'll know who to blame), also is determined to add another notable accomplishment to his resume: ridding the league of the Pro Bowl.

In one form or another the Pro Bowl - the NFL's postseason All-Star Game - had been played for 61 consecutive years prior to this season. But that streak nearly came to an end because Goodell was ready to pull the plug (and you can hardly blame him) after last year's game 'featured' a complete and blatant lack of effort and intensity by the players, especially those on defense. "Well, if you don't want to play hard, then let's not play at all," was the commissioner's thinking. But apparently, the players association was not on the same page as the commish. True, most of the players do not want to play hard. But they enjoy being recognized as the best players in the league; they enjoy the camaraderie with other players; and they enjoy the chance to escape winter and take the family out to Hawaii for a nice, weeklong vacation.

Goodell ended up granting the Pro Bowl a one year stay of execution but put it on double secret probation. So the goal for the players in this year's game was to make it look like they were playing hard - but not so hard that there would be a bunch of injuries. And the verdict? The effort level last Sunday was significantly higher than in last year's game. But was it sufficient to convince Goodell to take the Pro Bowl off of death row for good? Probably. Maybe. I hope so.
I was tuned to the game but wasn't paying much attention to it. There were 13 touchdowns scored in the NFC's 62-35 victory over the AFC; and 3 of them were by players with dreads. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (photo above) had his poorest stats this season since his rookie year in 2004 (mostly because his QBs were poor); but you can't have a Pro Bowl without him, so it was great to see him on the field.