Sunday, January 19, 2014

Broncos, Seahawks advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

The Seattle Seahawks forced three second half turnovers including an interception in the end zone with 22 seconds left to defeat San Francisco 23-17 to claim the NFC title. The NFC West Champions will be making only their second Super Bowl appearance in team history with their first coming in Super Bowl XL in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Seattle proved to be the better team in the second half as their top-ranked defense held the 49ers to only seven points and limited the running game. They also made key plays on both sides of the ball including a touchdown on 4th and 7 to take a 20-17 lead. Seattle will face the Denver Broncos who claimed the AFC crown with a 26-16 win over New England. Peyton Manning threw for over 400 yards and two touchdowns while the injury-plagued defense kept Tom Brady in check and shut down their running game. The Patriots have now lost their second straight AFC Championship game and are 8-8 in their last 16 playoff games.
It's only the fifth win by Manning in the storied rivalry with Brady and also improves his playoff record to 11-11. The AFC West Champions will be making its seventh appearance in the Super Bowl, the first since 1998 and Manning will be making his third appearance in the big game looking to capture a second championship. For the first time in a while the top-seeded teams from each conference will meet in New Jersey on Feb. 2 for the right to raise the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Off the Field Accountability is Lacking in Professional Sports

The trial involving former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent began this week in a Dallas, TX courtroom.  The 25-year-old is accused of intoxication manslaughter after leaving a Dallas-area nightclub Privae on Dec. 8, 2012 and crashing his vehicle, which resulted in the tragic death of teammate Jerry Brown, Jr.
According to USA Today, a toxicologist testified Wednesday that Brent had a blood alcohol level of .18, which is twice the legal limit of .08. Brent originally told police following the crash that he only consumed five alcoholic beverages prior to the fateful incident. As of today, testimonies are still being heard by the jury from waitstaff of the nightclub and former Cowboys teammates.
Furthermore, Brent was indicted for manslaughter in addition to the intoxication manslaughter charge. He can be convicted of the manslaughter charge if the jury finds he was not intoxicated and faces 20 years in prison but can also be sentenced to probation.
The ordeal with Brent is simply a chapter in the lengthy book of pro athletes not holding themselves accountable for their actions when they decide to have a night out on the town. They make way too much money in their respective sports to make poor decisions that can alter their own life and the lives of others as it is being displayed right now in a Dallas courtroom. There is no excuse why athletes who make upwards of $20 million a year are somehow too poor to rent a limousine or to have designated driver if they decide to get hammered in a bar. Athletes should be more aware of their actions because they are a direct representation of the teams that keeps them gainfully employed.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Charlie Strong in Uphill Battle at Texas

The University of Texas hired Louisville coach Charlie Strong on Jan. 5 to replace the outgoing Mack Brown. Strong was formally introduced as the 29th head coach at Texas the following day and is the first African-American coach in the program history. There is no doubt that Strong can lead the Longhorns back to national prominence and in line for another national championship. His 37-15 record in four seasons at Louisville including a victory in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl over Florida is more than enough proof that he is the man for the job.
The hiring of Strong by athletic director Steve Patterson has received mixed reactions among the Longhorn faithful. While some agree that Strong was a great hire to move the football program forward, others such as long-time booster Red McCombs say otherwise. The co-founder of Clear Channel Communications said in a radio interview Monday with 1250 ESPN in San Antonio that the hiring process was "a bit sideways" and the hiring of Strong by Texas was a "kick in the face." He later went on to say that Strong would make a great position coach, maybe even a coordinator. It is comments like these by McCombs and other boosters like him at Texas is the battle Charlie Strong will be up against as he takes over the football program. 
There will be immense pressure on him to win early and often to prove the naysayers wrong. Strong and his staff will have the daunting task of recruiting in a state that is brimming over the top with four and five star talent with other in-state schools like Baylor and Texas A&M and out of state schools such as Oklahoma State and Missouri. Moreover, Strong is the best coach by Patterson's standards to resurrect a football program that has fallen out of the national limelight since reaching the 2009 BCS National Championship Game vs Alabama. 
If Strong turned around a dormant and unknown football program in Louisville into 2013 Sugar Bowl Champs and a potential No. 1 pick in Teddy Bridgewater then he can do the same at Texas. McCombs and the other high-dollar boosters must give him a chance to succeed in Austin. However, let's hope that the marriage of Strong and the University of Texas doesn't end in the same manner as Mississippi State and Sylvester Croom.