Football from a Football Fan

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Future of Sports Journalism

Sports journalism is in it’s golden age and showing no signs of slowing down. As the age of smart phones application moves in, the age of the newspaper will pass by. Newspapers are on their way out, the average age of newspaper readers goes up every year, no matter how hard they fight, newspapers will eventually be nonexistent. In an age where instant statistics and information is expected, the internet has become the premier media outlet for distributing sporting news. While ESPN and specialized sports channels seem to ensure that television will have a much longer lifespan than newspapers, the internet appears to have the most longevity of all outlets.

As technology advances, the internet has become more and more accessible. The introduction of the smart phone has made following sports on the go simple. In fact it is projected that by the end of 2011 smart phones will be more prevalent than regular cell phones. With smart phones come mobile application. Nearly every major media outlet from ESPN to Sports Illustrated to FOX Sports News has one or more smart phone applications, not to mention the dozens of individual applications. As the majority shifts towards smart phones, society will become more obsessed with instant information and accessibility. Mobile sporting applications have ensured that, for a price, a person can do anything from monitor stats, to watch live games all on a mobile phone.

The internet and mobile applications have allowed fans to pick and choose what kind of sports media they receive. If someone only wants football news, they can get only football news, if they only want news on a particular team, they can get it. Twitter started a new phenomenon, the ability to follow an individual athlete or sporting personality on a 24-hour cycle. Mobile apps took this one step further and gave individual athletes full apps completely dedicated to themselves. App developer Rocksoftware has made apps for Chad Ochocinco, Jared Allen, and Terrell Owens, with plans for dozens more in the near future. Sports Media has reached the point in its evolution where fans can have their sporting news completely catered to them.


Staying Professional

When the story broken in early September that TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz had been harassed by the team my initial thought was somewhat conflicted. Professional football is just that, professional and players, coaches, reporters and anyone else involved in an organization should handle themselves as a professional. Players however seem to forget that they are being paid to play the sport and should abide by the league’s rules and regulations. On the other hand I was surprised that this was the first big story like this to emerge from the league. The NFL consists of nearly 1,700 male players with above average testosterone levels. When I sat back and thought about it, I was amazed that more female reporters were not sexually harassed.

After the news broke of the harassment, Redskins running back, Clinton Portis made his weekly appearance on a local radio show. Portis came out saying, “I think you put women reporters in the locker room in position to see guys walking around naked, and you sit in the locker room with 53 guys, and all of the sudden you see a nice woman in the locker room, I think men are going to tend to turn and look and want to say something to that woman.” Portis continues to share his opinions on what Sainz may have been thinking when entering the locker room when he said, “You put a woman and you give her a choice of 53 athletes, somebody got to be appealing to her,” Portis said. “You know, somebody got to spark her interest, or she’s going to want somebody. I don’t know what kind of woman won’t, if you get to go and look at 53 men’s (bodies). … I know you’re doing a job, but at the same time, the same way I’m going to cut my eye if I see somebody worth talking to, I’m sure they do the same thing.” Needless to say, the NFL cracked down on Portis immediately and he issued a carbon copy apology for the things he said. The Jets and Portis’ behavior caused the NFL leaped into action, immediately investigating the treatment of Sainz within the locker room. As a result, the NFL chose to implement a mandatory training program for all 32 teams on proper conduct in the workplace.

While there is no doubt that player are responsible for conducting themselves in a professional manner, the same must also be expected of reporters. Sainz is clearly an attractive woman, one can understand that she would receive attention from NFL players. Sainz needs to take some accountability for herself and dress more appropriately when on NFL sidelines and in locker rooms. Sainz wears skin-tight clothes that clearly show off her body, whether she does this knowing she will garner more attention from players or not, it should not be acceptable. Complaining about being sexually harassed in an NFL locker room dress like this is like getting in a shark tank and complaining when you get eaten. The incident was no one persons fault, it was the culmination of multiple professionals conducting themselves in an inappropriate manner.


Diamond in the Rough

The NFL is a league were those who produce win. When players consistently have great statistical season, their teams often win. Steven Jackson however is the exception to the rule. The St. Louis Rams running back has been one of the most consistent players at his position in the last 5 years. After an average rookie season, Jackson has posted 5 consecutive 1,000 yard rushing season and is on pace to do so again this year. Since his breakout year in 2006 where he rushed for 1,528 yards 13 touchdowns and added 806 receiving yards with 3 touchdowns, he has been an NFL superstar.

Despite Jackson’s success, the Rams have not produced, failing to achieve a winning record since Jackson joined the team in 2004. The 6’2″ 236 pound running back has outperformed nearly every other player on his team on his way to 2 pro bowl selections.

When one stops to consider Jackson’s abysmal team, his record of 5 consecutive 1,000+ yards rushing yard seasons is even more impressive. The Rams have had anything but consistent play at the Quarterback position during Jackson’s tenure. Mark Bulger, Jackson’s quarterback up until this year has been below average since 2004. Since then Bulger has only passed for over 3,000 yards and more than 20 touchdowns twice. Bulger’s lack of consistency coupled with the fact that St. Louis has not had a star receiver in some time, made the Rams very one-dimensional.

Steven Jackson more often than not the teams entire offense. Every defensive coordinator who faced the Rams knew that Jackson was the offenses main threat and threw 8 and 9 men in the box to try and stop him. And what happened? Jackson produced anyway. Oftentimes stats can be deceiving as elite running backs often face stout defensive fronts intent on stopping the run. This fact makes Jackson’s stats all the more impressive. In his 7th year in the league, Jackson has averages over 80 yards per game and amassed 7,518 yards on the ground and another 2,530 yards in the air. He is also well-known for his ball security as he has only 16 fumbles since his career, that to go along with the 51 touchdowns he has scored and it is clear that Jackson is an elite player on a struggling team.

The addition of rookie quarterback Sam Bradford has finally given the Rams a legitimate passing threat. With the attention drawn away from Jackson, his is on pace to rush for over 1,200 yards for the 3rd time in his career. Despite numerous injuries including a notorious back surgery, Jackson has produced and produced and produced showing no signs of slowing down.


The Worldwide Leader in Accessibility

The self proclaimed worldwide leader in sports, ESPN has indeed become a worldwide brand. Despite having no idea what ESPN stands for, millions of people throughout the world frequently visit the sports media behemoth daily. ESPN’s M.O. is accessibility is any and every major sport in the world. While there are many news and media outlets that provide more in-depth analysis and news on one particular sport, none have come close to replicating what ESPN has.

ESPN.com is the only place where one can watch highlights of every sport from the MLB to Canadian Football, to cricket. By being, the “Worldwide” leader in sports, ESPN ensures that in order to gain any access to international sports, Americans have to go through them. The media giant has also cornered the market on large scale sporting events both domestic and internationally. ESPN is the exclusive carrier of Monday Night Football, the most watched game any given week in the NFL. Every four years, ESPN hosts the most watched sporting tournament in the world as they provide constant coverage of the World Cup. Again following their mantra of accessibility, ESPN also features a unique site, ESPN3.com. The allows the visitor to watch nearly every major college sporting event for a given week, all for free. Boise State is one of my favorite teams to watch both for their unique high scoring offense and the fact that a god friend of mine plays nicklebacker for them. Sadly, given their weak schedule of relatively no name opponents and the fact that most of their games are decided by the first quarter, Boise State games are rarely televised. However ESPN3.com allows me to watch Boise week in and week out.

Not only does ESPN offer the most coverage on the most sports of any news media outlet, but they also provide fans with the most ways of accessing that coverage. ESPN has two channel on most basic cable packages, and 4 or 5 for those willing to upgrade. The channel’s main show, Sportcenter has won multiple Emmys and provides news coverage on a daily basis. In addition to channels, ESPN features it’s websites, ESPN.com and ESPN3.com as well as multiple smartphone apps. In a world where the smartphone is taking over as the on the go media and news device, ESPN has more than catered to the demands of users. News in the 21st century, especially sporting news is all about speed and accessibility, probably because ESPN has spoon fed sport fans with constant coverage, setting the bar for other media outlets.


Tabloid Athletes

One could easily make the argument that the evolution of sports media in the last 20 years has affected players much more than fans. Athletes in the national spotlight are no longer simply athletes, they are celebrities. Just ask Jerry Rice, Emmit Smith, Warren Sapp, Jason Taylor, or any of the multiple football players to appear on “Dancing with the Stars.”

While names like Brett Favre and Chad Ochocinco dominate sporting tabloids, they are frankly too easy to go after. Instead, take someone like Tony Romo, the quarterback of “America’s Team” always seems to find his way into the media during the offseason. Fans are constantly being updated on Romo’s love life. His relationship with Jessica Simpson was even brought up as a reason for his poor on the field performance. Even after the relationship ended the media bombards us with stories of Romo’s golfing ability and rumors that he is giving up football for golf. Take then someone like Peyton Manning who is in the national spotlight just as much, if not more than Romo. Manning is arguably more of a household name than Romo but his media attention comes from his brilliant on the field performance as well as his multiple product endorsements for Gatorade, Sony and many other high profile companies. Manning is a class act that has a positive reputation on and off the field, it is no wonder that he has more endorsements than any other player in the NFL.

When looking at players who are at their best on and off the field one need not look further than Raider Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The All-Pro corner is widely regarded as the best (and highest paid) player on his team. Yet instead of letting the success and money go to his head, Asomugha has been humble, even winning the Jefferson Award. Despite all of this, Asomugha is far from a household name. On the other side of the ball is Terrell Owens who without a doubt will go down in history as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. Yet his success off the field is marred by his actions off of it (and during celebrations). Since his days in Philadelphia, Owens has been viewed as a team cancer, a reputation that most likely led to his extended free agency this year. What is perhaps worse about Owens is that as he begins to lose a step or two it seems as if his mouth begins to pick up the slack. His recent pairing with Chad Ochocinco has caused the receiver to become more vocal than ever before, taking his personality to national television with multiple TV shows. So while Asomugha and Owens are often considered the best players on their respective teams, Owens choses to let the entire world know, while Asomugha is content just doing his job on the field and improving the lives of others off of it.


Sports News

Three years ago was around the time I became a huge sports fan. I was always considered myself a player more than a fan. I would watch games with friends on occasions, but it was only about three years ago that professional sports, especially football, became an obsession. Before this obsession I rarely watched Sportscenter and never checked ESPN.com or NFL.com. I had barely even heard of twitter and as far as I was concerned my phone was just a way to call and text friends.

While I don’t remember when the obsession hit exactly, I remember that it hit and hit hard. It was almost as if overnight I became an avid sports fan. ESPN and NFL have been bookmarks on my web browser ever since, and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t check them at least once a day. Before coming to Tufts, (which refuses to offer ESPN) my mornings always started with Sportscenter, my day could not start without my precious Top 10 Plays. Like most football fans, Sunday is my holy day. At 1pm I lock myself in my room update fantasy line-ups, monitor stats, and watch at least one game at a time. My face is glued to either my laptop or TV only turning away from a game to check on another or to check how my fantasy players are performing.

While I have an iPhone, it has never been more than a last resort to check sporting news. If I am stuck somewhere without my laptop I closely monitor games on my phone, but for news, I always wait to read the story on my laptop or hear about it on TV. It seems like the majority of my generation, or at least the people of my generation that I know don’t use twitter. To me there is just something extremely unappealing about the website and I always thought of someone my age having a twitter as hubris, after all who cares what a 19-year-old thinks?


Should Broncos Compete for BCS Title?

After a Fiesta Bowl win over TCU last year, the Boise State Broncos entered into the current NCAA football season as the number 4 ranked team in the country. It seemed as if this was finally the year that Boise would earn enough respect to make a legitimate case for the National Championship. With convincing wins over then ranked opponents Virginia Tech and Oregon State and the recent losses of Alabama and Ohio State the Broncos have moved up into the AP #2 spot in the country behind #1 Oregon. While things certainly look to be going in favor of the Broncos, there is an ever lingering question in the minds of all the BCS teams, does Boise deserve to play in a National Championship?

Since their miraculous 2006 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, Boise state has gained national recognition. They have continued to dominate the WAC since and have always performed well against ranked opponents during the regular season and bowl games. The ever-present criticism of Boise has been their lack of a consistently strong schedule. Being in the WAC, Boise must play several sub-par teams during the season. However, when given the chance to face a ranked opponent or ranked team Chris Peterson’s Broncos have always delivered a win, often in exciting fashion. Over the last few year Boise has proven themselves time and time again against ranked team, so why don’t they deserve a chance to compete against the best in the nation?

While they have been dominated in recent years many BCS skeptics wonder if they are on the same level as the BCS powerhouses that play stiff competition every week. Boise has beaten ranked teams, no one can argue that, but those games are few and far between. Put Boise in the nation’s toughest conference, the SEC, and force them to compete week in and week out against some of the best teams in the country and I wonder if they could continue their national record of 20 consecutive wins. Playing tough teams every week takes a lot out of a team so when Boise plays in their BCS Bowl game against an Oklahoma who has faces tough competition all year, Boise goes into the game without the wear and tear of a tough schedule.

There is no doubt Boise has proven themselves time and time again, and they can only play the teams that are on their schedule and so far they seem to be in the running for a national title. Although one wonders as the target on the backs of the Broncos continues to grow and they move into the more competitive Mountain West Conference next year will they be able to stay unbeaten?


Battle of the Bay: Follow-Up

A few days ago I wrote a preview of Sunday’s Raider 49er game. Both teams had struggled quite a bit coming into the game and needed a win. While I did not predict a winner for the game, I predicted the manner in which a team would win such a game. Both teams were at the point in their season where they needed to learn how to win. The Raiders clearly have not learned.

The beginning of the game looked promising for the Raiders. Jason Campbell marched them down the field on a 12 play 80+ yard drive that consumed the majority of the first quarter. The result? A field goal. Ok thats fine Raiders just get a stop on defense, which they did in fact do. Again Campbell takes the Raiders on a 14 play 70+ yard drive down the field and yet again Oakland’s redzone play calling and execution forced them to settle for a field goal. While disappointing, those drives would be the pinnacle or Oakland’s offense that day as the next next drive resulted in an interception and the next 3 drives ended in punts. Oakland’s offense was so bad in fact that quarterback Jason Campbell went 8/21 for 83 yards, 2 INT and a fumble. All of Campbell’s 83 yards came in the first and fourth quarters. That is right, Campbell had 0 yards passing in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. And people say Alex Smith is a bad quarterback. The Raiders need to execute once they enter the redzone, settling for field goals is not how a team wins games, touchdowns are how a team wins games. I would love to post some links showing you some Raider highlights, but there are none.

As bad as the Oakland offense was they still had the lead midway through the 3rd quarter, which is truly a testament to how bad the 49er offense was up to that point. As bad as Alex Smith has been this season, he has shown moments of brilliance in the latter half of games this year. While the majority of the time it was too late to mount a comeback, the Raiders’ inability to get in the endzone gave Smith a fighting chance. With 8:11 left in the 3rd quarter Alex Smith hit WR Michael Crabtree on a 32-yard touchdown pass to take the lead for the first time in the game. The Niners then looked like a team that knew how to play with a lead. After a Raider 3 and out, Niner RB Frank Gore broke off a 64-yard run to set up a Vernon Davis touchdown to take a 17-9 lead. The Raiders had one last chance to drive down the field and tie the game until 49er linebacker Takeo Spikes intercepted Jason Campbell to seal the game for the Niners.

The 49ers came out in the second half and looked like a new team. They did not commit a single turnover the entire game and fought back to take and preserve their lead. Like so many of the elite teams in the NFL the 49ers knew how to play with a lead. The Raiders had a 3-point lead and looked satisfied with it, the Niners took the lead and insisted on keeping it with production on offense and an opportunistic defense. Whether the Niners have finally cracked the winning code or the Raiders are just that bad, one thing is clear, Bruce Gradkowski and Darren Mcfadden need to get healthy fast.


Battle of the Bay

Once every four years the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers play each other in the regular season. While neither team has posted a winning record since 2002 when both teams made the playoffs. The Niners finished last year with an 8-8 record and began the year as NFC West favorites. The Raiders on the other hand finished the year 5-11 making it the 7th consecutive year that they have posted double-digit losses. Pre-season rankings and evaluations are gone, it is time to start judging teams based on what they show on the field, not their potential.

San Francisco is 0-5 no if, ands, or buts about it. While they lost close games to the Saints, Falcons, and Eagles, they were blown out by the Chiefs and Seahawks. While much of the blame rests on QB Alex Smith’s shoulders, he is not getting much help from his defense. The highly touted San Francisco defense led by middle linebacker Patrick Willis is currently only 17th in total defense, giving up 339 yards per game. While neither side of the ball has done much to help the other San Francisco’s biggest problem has been shooting themselves in the foot. As Head Coach Mike Singletary said, “The toughest opponent we have played is the San Francisco 49ers.” The Niners are ranked last (by far) in the league in turnover differential at -10. When a team goes out of its way to hurt itself that badly its no wonder why they are 0-5. Yet despite all the turnovers and questionable play at quarterback San Francisco has had close games against good teams. 3 of San Francisco’s 5 losses were by a combined total of 8 points, the bigger worry is the other two losses, one by 25 points and another by 21.

Oakland is 2-3 and currently second in the wide open AFC West. Much like the Niners, the Raiders have had some heart-breaking losses, most notably in week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals when Sebastian Janaikowski missed a 36 yard field goal (the man can make one from 61 but not 36 apparently) with 4 seconds on the clock that would have won the game for the Raiders. The following week despite giving up over 200 yards on the ground were in position to move down the field for the tying score when they turned the ball over on downs. That being said Oakland has done what San Francisco hasn’t and thats win games. Week 2 Bruce Gradkowski relieved Jason Campbell and led Oakland to a win over the Rams and last week the exact opposite happened and Gradkowski was sidelined with a shoulder injury and Campbell stepped up and delivered the win against the divisional rival Chargers.

While many could argue that both teams are just a few plays away from being 3-2 one thing is clear, both teams need to learn how to win. Oakland showed it knew how to win last week against the Chargers but needs to show it consistently. Knowing how to win means that a team is able to put a game away when it matter. This usually requires someone (like Tyvon Branch) stepping up and making a play when the game is on the line. In the 49ers case that person needs to be Alex Smith. After going up 14-0 on the Falcons the offense was stifled and did not see the endzone again. The Raiders gave up a 12-0 lead on the Chargers last week only to rebound and secure the win. The NFL is a competitive league, especially this year, knowing how to win is what separates the playoff teams from the rest. This game will come down to the 4th quarter and whoever wins the 4th quarter will win the game.


Why do we Fantasize?

Like it or not fantasy football is here to stay and everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. From Yahoo to ESPN to CBS, everyone has their own fantasy football game that promises to deliver an experience unlike all the rest. And to be honest why shouldn’t they? Fantasy football has become a monster, the big outlets like NFL, ESPN, and Rotowire have entire staffs devoted to researching the best fantasy players from week to week. Just look at NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano whose sole purpose is to tell fans which player to target on the waiver wire and who to start every week. The man is literally making a living telling people how to play and imaginary game. Fantasy football has even reached mainstream audiences in the form of FX’s TV show, “The League.” With literally thousands and thousands of leagues taking place across the county one (particularly my girlfriend) might ask what’s the big deal? Why is fantasy football so popular?

No matter how hard it try when Sunday comes and my lineups are set and I sit in front of the TV trying to decide which early game to watch I always decide on the game that has more of my fantasy players in it. Regardless of the quality of the game, it could watching the 49ers get blown out by the Chiefs but if I have Frank Gore or Vernon Davis on my team then I need to watch them. Fantasy football ensures that there will always be a game on that I have a personal and emotion investment in. It is this excitement that created in even the most mundane games that add to the appeal of fantasy.

I originally got into it when some friends of mine needed a 10th to complete their league and after week 1 of the regular season I was hooked. Perhaps it allowed me to role play just as a Dungeons and Dragons player acts as a wizard or knight while playing I was able to act as a general manager. Or maybe it made the games on Sunday more exciting. It could just be feeding my competitive fire with the sport I love the most. Or possibly it was simply giving me someone besides my home team to root for (and trust me when you’re a Raider fan you need to be able to root for someone who doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot). All of these reasons and more are why I became hooked and fantasy draft day is marked on my calendar months in advance.


Fan Blog

http://www.fanhouse.com/

I chose fanhouse because it does not look or feel like the average fan sports blog yet you get the writing and opinions of amateurs. The site has a very ESPN-like feel to it. They cover nearly every American professional sport while providing live box scores.


In Good Company

What do Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Day O’Connor and Nnamdi Asomugha have in common? They are all recipients of the Jefferson Award. The Jefferson Award is essentially the Nobel Prize of public service. Asomugha created the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars program (ACTS) where each year Nnamdi selects various inner city high school kids from the Bay Area and takes them on college tours across the country while providing them with the means to get to these colleges. Now these are not your run of the mill college tours, after all being a millionaire All-Pro cornerback has it’s advantages. When Nnamdi takes his students to tour college in Washington D.C. they meet Bill Clinton, go bowling at the White House, and meet Alicia Keys backstage at a concert. Nnamdi hopes that with the creation of ACTS he can give back to his community and help students that have similar backgrounds.

Being an Oakland Raider fan automatically makes Nnamdi Asomugha my favorite player. Aside from our punter Shane Lechler (and who in there right mind likes the punter) Asomugha is our only Pro Bowler and All-Pro. He is generally regarded as one of if on they top cornerback in the NFL. In fact Nnamdi commands so much respect from opposing quarterbacks that last he was thrown at only 28 times all season. For those of you that don’t understand how incredible that it, it means that on average he has to defend less than 2 passes a game, he is that feared. Asomugha’s talent essentially shut down an entire side of the field.

Yet being a die-hard Raider fan and being and admittedly obsessed football fan I did not hear a single Sportscenter or NFL Network story on the philanthropic activities my favorite player was performing. Instead of hearing news on a professional football player winning the Nobel Prize in public service, my summer consisted of stories about Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Young, Michael Vick and other players violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and behaving irresponsibly off the field. Nnamdi is notorious for being overly humble and when it comes to his public service but if the Jefferson Awards Committee knows about his program shouldn’t his fans know as well? It is rare if not almost unheard of to hear a story about an athlete off the field that is not negative. As a sporting community why are we obsessed with pointing out the flaws and deviant exploits of athletes while only commending them for their work on the field? Nnamdi gets his recognition on the field, but his responsibility and public service off the field go almost unnoticed. We are quick to blame athletes for their mistakes, yet we seem unwilling to commend them for their acts of charity. Nnamdi is the perfect example of a role model, a player that is one of the best on the field as well as off.


His Whole Life Was a Lie

Rewind the clocks to 2006, Michael Vick was a three time Pro Bowler and one of the most entertaining and loved football players the NFL had ever seen. Despite his raw talent and his ability to win games the thing that made Vick a household name was his behavior off the field. In August 2007 Vick plead guilty to federal dog fighting charges and was sentenced to 2 years in Leavenworth Penitentiary. Overnight Vick had become one of the most hated men in The United States.

Fast-forward to week 1 of the 2010 NFL Season and Michael Vick was called upon to step in after a Kevin Kolb injury and lead his team to victory. While Vick was unable to salvage the game, he played as Head Coach Andy Reid said, “out of his mind.” Vick’s play won him the starting job and in week 3 essentially secured him the title of NFL Comeback Player of the Year. While his on the field play has started to win back the admiration of the football community, many still wonder if Vick’s off the field demeanor has truly changed. The answer: Yes, Yes he has.

In a recent interview with his former head coach Jim Mora Michael Vick discusses everything from his introduction to dog fight to his eventual rise as the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback. This is an interview that no one but Vick’s former coach could have done and the result is one of the most honest and true interviews you’ll ever see from an athlete. Vick holds nothing back as he tells Mora how his “whole life was a lie.” He tells Mora that he continuously lied to him while playing for him. He consistently let Mora down by being dishonest and failing to live up to his potential as a player and as a leader. Many blame Vick for Mora losing his job as the Falcons Head Coach and after witnessing the betrayal Vick openly admits it’s hard to argue. Vick is looking the man that he essentially screwed in the eyes and telling him straight up that I lied to you and I lied about a lot of stuff.

Vick was immature in Atlanta, he did not take his role as a leader seriously and even apart from the dog fight did not behave responsibly off the field. He admits this and confesses that he is now a family man. Instead of going home every night to a house full of former friends, Vick returns every night to see his fiance and children. Vick has gotten rid of the bad influences in his life and given the circumstances did so rather easily.

One of the most subtle yet telling aspects of the interview is when Vick tells Mora that he now watches film at home every night. Mora’s response? “Did you ever watch those DVDs in Atlanta?” And Vick without a moment of hesitation plainly says “Them DVDs just piled up in my car Jim.” Vick is telling Mora to his face that film was a waste of time in Atlanta, but not anymore. It is by no means an easy thing to look someone in the eye and tell them you’ve been lying to them for 5 years. Call it honesty, call it frankness, call it stupidity, but whatever you call it it is clear the Vick is done lying and he is done deceiving.

Despite being a 1st round pick, going to 3 Pro Bowls and an NFC Championship the best thing that ever happened to Vick was going to prison. Vick openly admits it, “other than [prison] I wasn’t gonna change… I wasn’t gonna stop fighting dogs… There was nothing nobody coulda done.” Vick claims that it was divine intervention that changed him. According to Vick it was the Man upstairs who took him away from everything he had in this world and forced him to get his priorities in order. And if Vick’s word isn’t enough redeem him just look at his play on the field. In two and a half weeks Vick has shown that he is not only the best athlete on the field but can also stand tall in the pocket and deliver a bomb downfield. He is reading coverages and defensive schemes better than he ever did with Atlanta. Bottom line, Vick has changed and is a better player because of it so watch out opposing defenses because Vick is not just raw talent now, he is a humble student of the game. Once he gets healthy he will be a force to be reckoned with.


Always a Fan Never a Player – Danny Solow

“Hey son can I help you?”

The coach looked at me as if I was lost. It was my first day at the Football Junior Player Development Camp.

“I’m here for the camp.” I told him

The coach tried to hide his immediate look of surprise after examining my 120 pound frame. He tried to mask his surprise with a sense of caring as he led me to pickup my equipment. It was my first experience on a football field. I was a die-hard Ravens fan and after watch Jamal Lewis rush for over 2,000 yards and become the NFL offensive MVP I had what one might call delusions of grandeur. I figured that as I was about to enter high school I should try to make Lewis proud and attempt to play running back.

On the first day of camp we were divided by position. I ran over to join the running backs and was greeted with puzzled looks as if they thought I had thought I was a kicker that wandered over by accident. We split up into 2 groups and practiced angle tackling. I was paired up with the largest kid in the group. He easily out-weighed me by 50 pounds. I will never forget what he said to me as he leaned in before the drill and muttered, “I’m gonna kill you.” The image is seared in my mind and haunts me to the day. Needless to say he hit me harder than I had ever been hit before. It was then that I began to question my destiny as a running back, but I was still determined to be like Jamal Lewis.

The following day we ran through dozens of drills, everything from pass blocking to ball security. I found that because of my lesser size and strength I was forced to play in a manner that was not received well by the other player. When working on pass protection I chopped blocked, when attempting to secure the ball I simple ran away from defenders. If this wasn’t enough of a sign that I wasn’t meant to play football my reaction was. As one would expect players did not appreciate being chopped blocked or refusing to run through the line of potential ball strippers. Instead of holding my ground, I found myself constantly apologizing for my inability to properly do the drills. I became known at the kid who would apologize for everything. This was simply not a mentality that suited football. That coupled with my small stature finally showed me that football was not now nor would ever be my sport. I would be a student of the sport, I would envy the players, I would love it, but I would never play it.


Marcus Allen

The autobiography as a whole was exactly what I had expected. This does not mean it was poorly written it simply lacked a certain sense of surprise that many other autobiographies include. Many chapters read a lot like stat sheets depicting Allen’s statistical success, which when one considers Allen’s humbleness is surprising. Allen says that the thing he is most proud of in his college career was not being the first running back to rush for over 2,000 yards or winning the Heisman trophy. Allen’s proudest moment at USC was playing fullback his sophomore year and leading the way for Charles White to win the Heisman trophy.

The book begins with an excerpt from the autobiography. Marcus Allen was sitting in his locker room devastated over a loss he blamed himself for after fumbling in a crucial moment of the game. His fellow teammate reassured him that the loss was everyone’s fault that everyone was to blame. At that moment he looked up to see Al Davis standing over him bright red and furious. Davis opened his mouth and said “I shoulda traded ya.” before he turned around and never again said a kind word to the man that led the Raiders franchise to prominence.

One thing the autobiography did very well was conveying Allen’s voice and motivation to be as good as he was. When he was finally let go by the Raiders after being declared past his prime and picked up by the Chiefs was one of the defining moments in his already impressive career. Allen comments on those days saying that being called washed up was one of the most motivating experiences in his life. As a fan, and an Al Davis hater there was something immensely satisfying reading Allen’s description of his first game against his former team. For the first time in a long time Allen was out to prove something on the football field and as a reader his description of the game built up a sense of anxiety unlike anything I’ve read in an autobiography.


Sports Journalism that Moves Me

When I first discovered that NFL Films had an exclusive interview with Brian Dawkins I was immediately excited. Dawkins has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the last decade and brings a feeling of enthusiasm to the game that few other player do. I have always been a Brian Dawkins fan, regardless of my feeling for the Eagles or Broncos I alway find myself rooting for Dawkins, watching his games to see when he’ll deliver his next game changing hit.

I first saw this interview in my senior year in high school. As my football team’s defensive captain I drew inspiration from star defensive players from the NFL. I took it upon myself to raise the morale of the defense by delivering that pre-game pump-up speech or game changing hit to change the momentum of a game. Dawkins was my biggest influence. His on the field alter-ego “The Wolverine” is infamous in the NFL. Brian Dawkins helped to define what an impact player on defense really was. An impact player was not only someone who would score a touchdown or intercept the ball, Dawkins showed that a big hit in a critical moment in the game can send a powerful message to both sides of the ball.

Most fans who know who Brian Dawkins is know these things about him. The interesting part of the interview to me was the ability to describe Dawkins off the field. This is a side of him that most have never seen before. It is something that only a NFL Films interview can reveal. He is able to be one of the most mild-mannered religious men off the field throughout the week and then come game time he has the ability to turn it on and unleash “The Wolverine.” Of all the lessons I tried to learn from Dawkins this was perhaps the most important. The story is able to illustrate that from Monday to Saturday one can be the most mild-mannered man in the world but come game day when you buckle that chin strap you have the ability to change into a different person.

The interview could have left it at that, Dawkins is a nice guy on the field and a monster off of it, but they go a step further to show that while on the field he retains his composure and morals. The clips of Dawkins on the field performing his pre-game ritual was especially interesting. I found it almost strange that as a religious man he chose to speak in tongues before a game. Even more enlightening is the chance to see someone like Dawkins, a man that fan and players look up to get injured while his has a microphone on. As fans most of us are used to seeing players get injured and have to leave games, but rarely to we get to hear how the player reacts the the injury (this is probably due to the the fact that most players swear when injured another aspect that makes Dawkins unique). Seeing Dawkins go down while hearing him wincing and crying is one of the most emotional clips I have ever seen in an athlete expose. The interviewer is able to depict a man who flirts with the boundary of star athlete and superhero and bring him to a very human level that is extremely vulnerable. The piece moves me not only because of Dawkins, but the ability to make him very relatable to his fans as well as fans of the game.


What Makes for Good Sports Journalism

1. Writing – If an article is poorly written it makes it very difficult to not only get through it but to extract the information you want out of it. Journalism is about writing that needs to be the first and foremost important aspect in any for of journalism.

2. A big event – Journalism needs big events. The morning after a Super Bowl championship, a record setting home run, or game 7 of the NBA finals is a fans favorite day to read everything from ESPN to the cover of every major newspaper in the country. Big events are what is so appealing to sports fans and they are essential to journalism.

3. An interesting story – If an article is well-written and engaging, it is engaging for a reason. The writer is able to illustrate an interesting story no matter who or what is the subject matter.

4. Good quotes/interviews – Most people don’t read sport journalism for the opinions of the writers. (some obviously do) The reason sports reporters are legitimized is that they have access to the players and coaches are are able to get exclusive quotes and interviews from them.

5. A recognizable/high-profile character – While I admit this is still an integral aspect of sports journalism, to me its the least important out of these 5. While simply the name Lebron James in an articles title is sure to draw thousands of views, it doesn’t make the journalism any better in my opinion. While most people care more about high profile characters I do not believe it adds anything to the quality of the piece.


Bennett Gets the Win Against Trojans

Spartans center fielder Chris Johnson homered off Torrez in the first inning with no one on and no outs. The lone run would be all that was needed to seal the game as the Spartans went on to beat the Trojans 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Spartans Chris Johnson (2), Jose Hernandez (1), Mike Davis(1), Kevin Hoch(1), Jim Trotto(1), and Yordany Latty(3) all recorded hits on the night. Trojans Mel Williams(1), Paul Perez(1), and Steve Clardie (2) also got hits but could do no more to keep the Spartans from winning.

After giving up 3 runs on 6 hits in his 6 innings pitched Torrez was followed by Chad Fisher and closer Yao Li. The 3 combined to give up 9 hits, 6 walks, and 7 strikeouts on the night.

The Spartan pitching fared much better as Bennett (7 IP), George (.1IP), Evans(.2IP), and Simms(1IP) combined for 4 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts to solidify the win for the Spartans.

With 30 at bats the Trojans had trouble getting any sort of offense going as 12 men were left on base. After right fielder Yordany Latty brought 2 runs in the 3rd the Spartans essentially put the game away and out of reach for the struggling Trojans.

Closer Dave Simms was able to put the game away in the 9th and record the save giving up only 1 hit to the Trojans.