Similar to the invincibility of a dominant fantasy running back, the window of opportunity is short. What may have been a lock, a guarantee last year is no longer. Father time may get a slow start out of the gate, but he is always running downhill and hits full stride just as your breathing begins to labor. However, this should not cause despair, unless your ARE a fantasy running back, because yesteryear’s LaDainian Tomlinson is this year’s Chris Johnson.
Both sports and life are constantly evolving, bringing forth the amazing with a small side of unintended consequences. For example, the spread offense in football has injected high scoring, excitement and evened the playing field so that dominant size and strength have been neutralized by speed and quickness. Non BCS universities such as TCU and Boise State can now compete at the highest level with any team in the country, but this parity has made the fullback, the I-formation and straight ahead power running a distant memory in college football. Sometimes the change we see is not necessarily new, but more a refinement and reawakening to the yesteryear’s past. Take for instance the recent success of Georgia Tech and its Option lead offense. Just as equal a departure from a pro-style offense and polar opposite in most respects to the Spread.
The point – constants are just that, until they are not. Always keep your feet moving because that pulling tackle may now be a slot receiver coming at you from behind.
- BCS. You want amazing – the BCS still exists. Division I(FBS) college football is still absent a playoff system, but I am not as upset as I was the year prior. Arguably every team in a BCS Bowl game is deserving, however one could argue there are two competing championship games. The true National Championship game between Texas and Alabama and the Fiesta Bowl featuring TCU and Boise State. TCU, Texas and Alabama have dominating defenses, while Boise State’s offense is to be feared. One of the larger arguments against a playoff system is that the other bowl games would be devalued. I can state unequivocally that we are already there. I have mad passion for all that is football and yet zero interest in any game prior to Jan. 1. The orange blood that flows throughout my body for the Longhorns is uncompromised, but I question strongly whether the winner of the National Championship game is truly the best team in America without first facing the winner of the “other” championship game. What’s the point of the “other” game, since its a long-standing truism that second place is the first loser. Who really wants or cares to be ranked second in the country at the close of the season?
- Tiger Woods. He is winner of Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, the Associated Press Athlete of the Year and Best Male Athlete ESPY Award. Perhaps the most recognizable athlete or even individual in the world. Similar to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Michael Vick, Tiger proved that no one is untouchable and personal transgressions can bleed into and impact an individual’s ability to compete. The question remains – to be a star athlete must you also be a decent, respectable person? Should the personal lives of our athletes impact our view of them as athletes or their ability to perform?
- Heisman. Mark Ingram is a fantastic football player and clearly deserving of being nominated for the Heisman award. Being nominated for such awards as an underclassman is an award in itself, but historically the Heisman is an upperclassman award for the best player in the country. The 2009 Heisman was a travesty and disrespectful to college football fans. Senior Toby Gerhart was the best running back in the country and we may never see a more dominating lineman in the sport than Senior Ndamukong Suh. Gerhart was my favored choice, but I would have been equally happy with Suh winning the award. Suh did continue on and make history as the first defensive player to win the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year. It has now been three consecutive years that a sophomore has won the Heisman despite of deserving upperclassman. The Heisman is on a slippery slope to floundering in the same pool the BCS has found itself. Perhaps what once was has come full circle again, but with a small twist. The National Championship will be determined by the AP poll and so to the best player may also be determined by the AP as well. Would not that be intriguing if TCU or Boise State is ranked number 1 in the AP poll this year following the “Championship” game. I will say this for Ingram, I do not recall seeing a better, more compelling Heisman speech.
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Vince Lombardi once said, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” This begs the question, from a pure secular perspective, is there anything that is not possible? As Nike implies with the phrase, “Just do it.” It is not the question of whether it can be done, but instead whether you believe you can do it. As we labor through the last weekend of the year absent of football, I would like to examine some recent events in sports where the line of possible and impossible has blurred.
- Brett Favre. Last year we had Favre Gate, this year the football world waited on baited breath for whether he would take the helm guiding the Vikings, conveniently one of the Packers most hated rivals. Finally, we were informed by the first ballot Hall of Famer, “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I didn’t feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable.” Favre would never play in the NFL again. It was impossible. But then August 18 happened. The impossible was again possible as Favre decided that he was not quite finished with his personal play box otherwise referred to as the NFL. I really like Favre or perhaps it is more accurate to say I really like watching him play the game of football. The Vikings had no shot of winning the Super Bowl this year. Now arguably the best defense and most fearsome running game now has an adequate passing game to complement them with Favre paired with the constant deep threat receivers of Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice. The Super Bowl is now possible for Minnesota. Unfortunately, I think the incomparable Scoop Jackson identifies the mood of the football community with his article “What if Brett Favre were a woman?” I guess time will tell as to whether it worth dancing the dance with Mr. Favre.
- Tiger Woods. He is an amazing athlete and in the discussion as perhaps the greatest golfer of all time. He has been named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year a record-tying four times, and is the only person to be named Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year more than once. However, these facts have blinded the sports media during the past several years to pose the question at every PGA Major event: Tiger or the field. To be fair, his list of accomplishments at Majors are considerable. He is second all time in PGA Major victories, one of two players to win all four majors twice and the only player to have won multiple Majors in consecutive years. Starting from the first year Tiger won a Major in 1997, there have been 52 Majors. Tiger has won 14 or about 27 percent. This is a significant number, but during this time there were four entire years that he did not win a single Major: 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2009. The PGA Major tournaments consist of the top players in the world with varied and distinguished course terrains. It is irresponsible to suggest that one man should be considered the the front runner for every single tournament with no consideration to what players are playing the best golf at the time as well as those whose game is best suited for the current course in question. It is lazy journalism. Less than 30 percent odds is not something I wish to place my lot behind. Is it impossible that Woods could win every Major, no, but its highly improbable.
- The Diva Receiver. To make a list of the those that have fit this profile since the 80’s would quickly begin to look like the Bible’s Book of Numbers. Long. Recent events suggest that there is strong reason to believe that the final curtain is falling for the diva receiver in the NFL, though we still have the entertaining examples of Ochocinco and that of the embarrassing from Brandon Marshall. I believe the era will be capped by the imprisonment of Plaxico Burress. A remarkable interview by Jeremy Schaap with Burress on E:60 highlights that his current circumstances may not be those resulting from that of a Diva mentality, but instead that of the targeted athlete that was so well documented in the article in ESPN The Magazine titled Living Scared following the tragic death of Sean Taylor. So is the Diva wide receiver in the NFL on its way out? I have hope that it is possible.
- Eric Bruntlett. A post about the possible of impossible in sports would not be complete without paying tribute to Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play. It was only the second in major league history to end a game and the 15th overall. Sometimes overcoming the impossible involves just a bit of luck because as Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
Posted in sports
Tagged 19th Hole, Brandon Marshall, Brett Favre, E:60, Eric Bruntlett, ESPN, Nike, Ochocinco, Plaxico Burress, Tiger Woods, Vince Lombardi