Sports Outside the Beltway

Dallas Cowboys 2009 Undrafed Free Agents

The Dallas Cowboys signed eight undrafted players Monday: Travis Bright,  G,   Brigham Young; Rudy Carpenter, QB, Arizona State; Julian Hawkins, WR, Boise State; Jamar Hun, FB, UTEP; Greg Isdaner, G, West Virginia; Kevin Ogletree, WR,  Virginia; Asaph Schwapp, FB, Notre Dame; and Michael Turkovich, G, Notre Dame.

This team is talented and just drafted an even dozen players.  It’s doubtful, then, that any of the players above will make the active roster, let alone land starting jobs this year.  Mostly, they’re being added to the roster as practice fodder; that’s especially true at QB, where you only have three guys otherwise.

I don’t know any of these guys or their talent levels, aside from the fact that 200-odd players were thought worthy of drafting and none of these were.  If I had to take a guess, I’d say one of the fullbacks has the best shot at making the roster just because the Cowboys only have one on the roster.


Detroit Lions release QB Drew Henson

It’s a tough time of the year for third string quarterbacks in the NFL. From ESPN-

Drew Henson was released Monday, two days after the Detroit Lions selected quarterback Matthew Stafford as the first overall pick in the NFL draft.

Henson and Drew Stanton were competing against Daunte Culpepper for the Lions quarterback job, but Henson and Stanton both struggled at the team’s pre-draft minicamp.

Henson, 29, may be running out of chances in his football career. The former Michigan quarterback opted to play baseball in 1998 and signed with the New York Yankees. He played eight games in the majors — three in 2002 and five in 2003 — and had one hit in 11 at-bats. He retired from baseball in 2003.

The Cowboys traded for his rights in 2004. Henson had only one start in seven games for the Cowboys.

He signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2006, and joined the Lions in 2008. Henson threw two passes for the Lions last year, completing one, and had two fumbles.

That’s not the kind of stats you want when trying to stay employed in the NFL.

All snark aside, Henson looks to be out of chances in the NFL. The Lions were the worst team in the league and he couldn’t hold onto the clipboard job there. I will be surprised if he makes the in-season roster of another NFL team.


Washington Capitals Donald Brashear suspended for six games

This for his hit on New York Ranger Blair Betts on Sunday. From AP-

Capitals forward Donald Brashear was suspended Monday by the NHL for a total of six games — five for what the league called a “blind-side hit” on Rangers center Blair Betts — and will miss Game 7 of the teams’ first-round playoff series.

In addition to leveling Betts midway through the first period of Washington’s 5-3 victory at New York in Game 6 on Sunday, Brashear made contact with Colton Orr in pregame warmups and was barred from one game for that.

“Brashear delivered a shoulder hit to an unsuspecting player,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive VP of hockey operations. “It is also my opinion that the hit was delivered late and targeted the head of his opponent, causing significant injury.”

Betts has a broken bone in his eye socket and was ruled out of Tuesday night’s series-deciding game in Washington. He is New York’s top penalty-killing forward.

Here’s the video

Brashear deserves every game he is suspended and more. The trouble is, Betts inability to play is liable to have a detrimental effect on the Rangers’ playoff chances. He is the team’s best penalty killer. However the way Goalie Simeon Varlamov has been playing makes it seem unlikely the Rangers can pull the upset.


HSBC Champions in China elevated to World Golf Championship event

That means both the PGA and LPGA Tour have tour stops in China now. From AP-

The HSBC Champions in China has been elevated to a World Golf Championship this year with a new qualifying criteria and a $7 million purse, the highest ever for a golf tournament in Asia.

Tiger Woods already has said he will play, along with defending champion Sergio Garcia.

The HSBC Champions began in 2005 and had been sanctioned by every major golf tour except the PGA Tour. That changes with its designation as the fourth World Golf Championship, and the only one not staged in the United States.

Woods was runner-up his first two times playing the HSBC Champions, and will return for the Nov. 5-8 event.

The continuing globalization of professional golf tours. I don’t see the PGA becoming as world-wide as the LPGA Tour has become.

Update- Steve Elling has more about the HSBC status on the PGA Tour-

Because of concerns that the cash-heavy, limited-field event would badly skew the PGA Tour money list with only one week remaining in the season, the HSBC victory and any tournament earnings will be considered unofficial in the U.S. Moreover, the winner won’t get the customary two-year PGA Tour exemption, either, or a berth in the Masters.

The tournament is at the very end of the PGA schedule, and has a limited field. It would only skew money for people who won lots to start with. Elling goes on to say it could have a lower player bump someone from the top 30. I think its just dumb not to count it. Either HSBC is a PGA Tournament or isn’t.


Former Kansas City Head coach Frank Gansz dead at 70

He had a long career as a college and pro football assistant coach in addition to the two years he spent running the Chiefs. Gansz started coaching at Air Force in the 60′s, did a stint with his alma mater Navy for four years, and worked for six college teams in all before making his way to the NFL. In addition to his stint in Kansas City, Gansz was on the staff of the St. Louis Rams the year they won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Gansz retired from coaching in 2001 but in 2008 June Jones persuaded him to return as an assistant coach at SMU. Some people called Gansz the best Special Teams coach in the NFL. RIP.

Former Kansas City Chiefs coach Frank Gansz has died in a Dallas hospital.

SMU spokesman Brad Sutton said Gansz, who was special teams coach for the Mustangs last year, developed complications after undergoing knee replacement surgery last week. He said Gansz died Monday afternoon.

Gansz, who was 70, coached for 38 years, 24 in the NFL. He was head coach of the Chiefs from 1987-88. Other stops included special teams coordinator for Jacksonville, Atlanta, St. Louis and Detroit, and well as stints at Philadelphia, Cincinnati and San Francisco. He was on the Rams’ staff for their 2000 Super Bowl win.


The Mighty Ducks- Anaheim beats San Jose 4-1, take series

The team with the best record in the 2008-09 NHL regular season has been eliminated from the playoffs. From AP-

Right when the opening puck dropped, Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton dropped gloves. The star centers’ simmering dislike erupted into a brawl dominated by Thornton, who pummeled Getzlaf with at least two flush blows to the face.

Getzlaf took it and smiled, knowing he still could win the only important fight.

And that’s exactly what happened in the waning minutes of Game 6. Getzlaf scored the knockout goal as the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks ousted the not-so-mighty San Jose Sharks from the postseason with a 4-1 victory Monday night.

Top To Bottom

With a 3-1 loss to Anaheim, the San Jose Sharks became the fourth team to go from winning the Presidents’ Trophy to first-round elimination in the NHL playoffs.
Season Winner Points Result
2008-09 Sharks 117 lost to Ducks
2005-06 Red Wings 124 lost to Oilers
1999-00 Blues 114 lost to Sharks
1990-91 Hawks 106 lost to North Stars

Teemu Selanne and Francois Beauchemin put Anaheim ahead with their first playoff goals on fortunate deflections 43 seconds apart in the second period, and the Ducks coolly finished off the Presidents’ Trophy winners in an upset that could resonate for years in this juicy in-state rivalry.


Jonas Hiller made 36 saves to finish his phenomenal playoff series debut for the Ducks, who won a fight-filled clincher to complete a remarkable playoff upset two years after winning the franchise’s only Stanley Cup.

The clubs’ final meeting was a slugfest with 60 total penalty minutes and a long series of brawls between Anaheim’s goals and Hiller’s saves. It all started with the stunning fight between Getzlaf and Thornton, who traded shoves and harsh words two days earlier in San Jose.

San Jose was showing its frustration out of being beaten by their in state rival. Personally I thought Anaheim was capable of winning this series, and thought this was the series most likely to see an upset(After the Rangers-Capitals).

Hiller was brilliant in goal and should get most of the credit for Anaheim’s advancement to the next round. San Jose out shot the Ducks in each of the six games of their series.

The Western conference semi-finals are set now, as the other remaining series ended last night also.

Chicago downed injury-riddled Calgary 4-1 in Monday’s Game 6 to take the series 4-2. The Blackhawks’ previous playoff series win was a four-game sweep of Calgary back in 1996.

The Blackhawks were simply relieved after Monday’s game to have earned their first road win in the series and get a breather before facing the well-rested Vancouver Canucks in the next round.

I thought Chicago would win this series, which they did. Now here are my semi-final round predictions-

Detroit beats Anaheim 4-0. The Ducks magic runs out.
Chicago beats Vancouver 4-3. The superior scoring ability of the Blackhawks trumps Roberto Luongo in goal for the Canucks.


Denver Nuggets match most lopsided win in NBA playoff history

It is a game like this that makes you question if there are too many teams invited to the postseason.

Carmelo Anthony scored all of his 26 points in the first three quarters, and Denver thoroughly dismantled New Orleans 121-63 on Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.


The New Orleans Arena was mostly empty by the end of the third quarter, when Denver led 89-50 on its way to matching the most lopsided victory in NBA playoff history. The Minneapolis Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks 133-75 in 1956.

Looking twice as quick as New Orleans on both ends of the court, the Nuggets stifled Hornets All-Star Chris Paul, whose four points and six assists amounted to one of the worst games of his career.

I’m surprised New Orleans managed to win one game in this series. Denver could make it to the Championship finals.


Miami Dolphins release QB John Beck

Just on draft day I wondered what his future was in Miami. From the Palm Beach Post-

Quarterback John Beck’s unsuccessful career with the Dolphins is over. Miami released him Monday, two years after he was the No. 40 pick in the NFL Draft.

Beck, who didn’t get into a game last season as the third quarterback behind Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, became expendable when the Dolphins used the No. 44 choice Saturday to draft West Virginia quarterback Pat White.

General Manager Jeff Ireland insists Miami drafted White for the Quarterback position or for use with the Wildcat formation, not wide receiver. Most NFL scouts didn’t grade the player out of West Virginia very highly at QB.

The final blow to Beck’s chances to remain a Dolphin came Monday. An NFL source said the team plans to give University of California quarterback Nate Longshore a tryout when the three-day rookie mini-camp begins Friday.


Beck, who will be 28 on Aug. 21, was drafted by then-General Manager Randy Mueller in 2007.

Beck got his first start after Miami fell to 0-9 under coach Cam Cameron.

Beck started four games but failed to lead a scoring drive before he was benched. He had one touchdown pass, three interceptions and four fumbles.

In all fairness, one of those games was played in a constant rain where the final result was Pittsburgh winning 3-0. On the other hand Beck looked scared and overwhelmed in a game against Buffalo and was quickly benched for Cleo Lemon.

Beck came to the NFL at age 26 due to his being Mormon and doing a mission for two years. He played college football at Brigham Young.

The Dolphins had been shopping Beck for some time, hoping to obtain a late-round pick.

The decision to bring in Longshore would have given the team five quarterbacks with Beck.

Longshore, who had 51 TD passes and 31 interceptions in four seasons at Cal, will be one of many free agents expected in camp Friday.

I don’t expect Longshore to make the roster. With Henne, Chad Pennington, and White, Miami has three quarterbacks but who knows with this team. The Dolphins 2009 NFL Draft saw them make more than a few more bizarre or head shaking selections.

As for Beck, he may land with another NFL team though I’ll be surprised if he does anything more than backup duties. The 2nd round pick Miami used to draft him in 2007, must go down as another bust or squandered pick. Miami had tons of them between 1995 and 2007.


Niklas Backstrom, Steve Mason, and Tim Thomas named Viezina Finalists

That’s the trophy given to the best goalie in hockey for an individual season. From AP-

Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild, Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender.

The league announced the finalists Monday. The winner, voted by general managers around the league, will be revealed June 18 at the NHL awards show in Las Vegas.

Mason, a rookie, posted a franchise-record three straight shutouts in December and helped the Blue Jackets reach the playoffs for the first time. Thomas led the NHL with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage for the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.

Backstrom appeared in 71 games for Minnesota and ranked among the top five goaltenders in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts. His 37 wins were a franchise record, and after playing in his first All-Star game he received a four-year, $24 million contract extension that will begin next season.

Here are the regular season stat lines for each goalie. Note only Thomas is still playing in the ongoing NHL playoffs for 2008-09.

Thomas- Games Played 54 Wins 36 Losses 11 Overtime Loses 7 Goals allowed 114
Shutouts 5 Goals against average 2.10 Save Pct .933

Backstrom- 71 37 24 8 159 8 2.33 .923
Mason- 61 33 20 7 140 10 2.29 .916

Sentimentally I’d vote for the rookie Mason, but Thomas clearly has the best stats of the three nominees.


Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Greg Page dead at age 50

He won the title from Gerrie Coetzee in 1984 but lost it five months later to Tony Tubbs. Before that he lost a title bout to Tim Witherspoon. I remember all these fighters but Page. Those were the days when heavyweight boxing matches were on network television, sometimes in prime-time. RIP.

Greg Page, a former heavyweight boxing champion who suffered a severe brain injury in a 2001 fight, has died at his Louisville home. He was 50.

His wife, Patricia Page, said she found the one-time World Boxing Association champion in his bed Monday morning. Patricia Page said he died of complications related to injuries he suffered in the fight.

Page told The Associated Press her husband “is in a better place now.”

The March 9, 2001, fight left Page in a coma for nearly a week. He then had a stroke during post-fight surgery. He was paralyzed on his left side and received intensive physical therapy.


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