Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL may change overtime rules for playoffs

No sudden death for sudden death? From AP-

An NFL spokesman said Saturday the league could change its overtime format for playoff games at a meeting next month.

Under the new format, both teams would get the ball at least once unless the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, Greg Aiello said. If the first team to get the ball makes a field goal and the other team ties the game, action would continue until a team scores again.

Under the current rules, the first team to score wins.

“There have been various concepts that have been discussed in recent years, but this one has never been proposed,” Aiello said.

The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted.

It is my prediction that the NFL does make some kind of change. Personally, I’m ambivalent on the issue. I believe the statistics show that the teams who lose the toss win slightly more often in regular season games. What the playoff record, I don’t know. Honestly, who says life or sports has to be fair?


QB Kurt Warner announces his retirement

I hope he doesn’t do a Bret Farve. From ESPN-

Kurt Warner has called an end to one of the great storybook careers in NFL history.

The 38-year-old quarterback announced his retirement from the game on Friday after a dozen years in a league that at first rejected him, then revered him as he came from nowhere to lead the lowly St. Louis Rams to two Super Bowls, winning the first of them.


In 124 regular-season games, Warner completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 32,344 yards and 208 touchdowns. He and Fran Tarkenton are the only NFL quarterbacks to throw for 100 touchdowns and 14,000 yards for two teams.

Warner, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and played collegiately at Northern Iowa, ranks among the career leaders in a variety of passing statistics.

He was also the fastest player in NFL history to 10,000 yards passing and tied Marino as fastest to reach 30,000.

As it stands, I think Warner stands a good chance of being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I wish him an enjoyable retirement, he’ll be missed.


NFL considering mandatory echocardiograms

The NBA has required this test for its players since 2006. From ESPN-

Between the time of Bears defensive end Gaines Adams’ death last Sunday to his funeral Friday, the NFL’s Cardiovascular Committee began discussing the possibility of subjecting all players to a heart scan called an echocardiogram, starting with potential draft picks invited to the NFL scouting combine next month.

NFLPA medical director Thomas Mayer told ESPN that the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Adams stated the enlarged heart that led to his death could have been detected by an echocardiogram.

But, as Mayer pointed out, the process is complicated.

Is the fear of legal liability going to influence a doctor? Are cardiologists going to agree on whether a player has an enlarged heart or an athlete’s heart? Does that mean he’s systematically finished as a football player?

More likely, a questionable echocardiogram could lead to more sensitive tests, such as a cardio catheter procedure.

As a person who had major cardiac surgery less than 18 months ago, I see mandatory electrocardiograms as a good idea. Putting the policy into place will be complicated, but it shouldn’t be used as a reason not to do this. My heart condition, a bicuspid heart valve and ascending aortic aneurysm was very serious, and till as little as two weeks prior to my operation, nobody knew I had those conditions. Some heart problems in addition to a enlarged hearts, show few or little warning signs.

I would also add that a large amount if not majority of NFL players, are grossly overweight. Heart testing is for their own good.


NFL Divisional playoff predictions

I was 1-3 last weekend. Maybe I should invest in a new crystal ball.

Arizona at New Orleans- A 3-game losing streak to close the season makes the Saints look vulnerable. I got to go with the team I chose to go to the Super Bowl. Arizona 41, New Orleans 35

New York Jets at San Diego- The Jets with their rookie Quarterback play their second playoff game with him under center. The Jets have only been to one Super Bowl, number three where led by Joe Namath they upset the Baltimore Colts. No upset will happen this year. San Diego 28, Jets 17.

Baltimore at Indianapolis- Baltimore has a good defense but Peyton Manning will prove too much for it. Indianapolis 27, Baltimore 17.

Dallas at Minnesota- Wade Phillips finally notched a playoff victory last weekend. The Cowboys got their first post season victory in 14 years. The Vikings are trying to ride 40-year-old Bret Favre’s back to the Super Bowl. Father time will lose tomorrow. Dallas 24, Minnesota 20.


Long-time NFL Coach Joe Bugel announces his retirement

While he spent most of his time as an assistant, he was head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals(1990-1993) and the Oakland Raiders(1997) with a accumulated record of 24-56. Good luck in retirement coach.

Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel stepped down Wednesday after more than three decades in the NFL.

Bugel says it’s “tough to walk away,” but he’s about to turn 70 and wants to spend time with his family.

New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan says he tried to talk Bugel into staying.

Bugel coached the dominant Redskins offensive line that became known as the “Hogs” in the 1980s, during Joe Gibbs’ first stint as head coach. It was the first offensive line to receive such national prominence, and Washington won two Super Bowls while Bugel was with the team.

Bugel later became a head coach with the Cardinals and Raiders.


January 10th NFL Wildcard playoff game predictions

My predictions were way off yesterday. So I have re-calibrated my crystal ball and are ready to do some football prognosticating again.

Baltimore at New England- Yet again another regular season rematch. The Patriots beat the Ravens on week four, 27-21.

The big news in the buildup to this game, was the year ending knee injury Wes Welker suffered during last Sunday’s season finale. The loss of the Conference’s most prolific wide receiver is certainly a blow to New England.

But it’s one I think they will overcome. Baltimore will double cover Patriots WR Randy Moss but Tom Brady will use his other targets to move the football down the field. My prediction- New England wins 27-17.

Green Bay at Arizona- These two teams met one week ago, with the Packers winning 41-16 in Arizona.

The Packers have also won 6 of the last 7 times these teams have met. This is essentially a show of two high performing quarterbacks, Green Bay’s Andre Rodgers(4,434 yards and 103.2 passing rating) versus Arizona QB Kurt Warner who has a lifetime 98.99 post season passing rating.

The basis for why I pick Arizona to win 38-34

1 Green Bay isn’t at home where they almost always have the advantage at playoff time
2 Arizona hasn’t lost two games in a row all
3 I chose Arizona to make it to the Super Bowl.

Let’s see if I get at least one prediction right this weekend.


Arizona releases K Mike Nugent

The return of Neil Rackers made Nugent expendable. From AP-

The Arizona Cardinals have released kicker Mike Nugent and added defensive end Jason Banks to the active roster.


Nugent was signed because Neil Rackers has been bothered by a groin injury. He was released by Tampa Bay on Oct. 5 after he missed two field goals in a 16-13 loss to Washington.

I think it is safe to call Nugent a draft bust. Few kickers get that label, then very few are selected in the 2nd round of the NFL draft(#47 selection 2005 draft by the NY Jets) and go through 3 teams in less than 5 seasons of pro football.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


AFC and NFC playoff picture rundown

Someone got their abacos out and did all the playoff calculations. Here they are-

Baltimore, the Jets, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston can also make the playoffs if they tie this week with various other things happening. Jacksonville and Miami cannot make the playoffs with a tie.


Baltimore clinches a playoff spot:
1) BAL win

NY Jets clinch a playoff spot:
1) NYJ win

Denver clinches a playoff spot:
1) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
3) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + HOU win
4) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
5) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + HOU win
6) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss
7) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
8.) PIT loss + BAL loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
9) PIT loss + HOU loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
10) MIA loss or tie + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie


Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot:
1) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie
2) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
3) PIT win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Houston clinches a playoff spot:
1) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + DEN loss or tie
3) HOU win + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Jacksonville clinches a playoff spot:
1) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss
2) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + NYJ loss
3) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
4) JAC win + PIT loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
5) JAC win + NYJ loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + BAL loss

Miami clinches a playoff spot:
1) MIA win + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

Unlike the AFC, the NFC playoff picture is pretty clear. All that needs to be determined is seeding and who will win the Eastern Division.


New Orleans — South division and a first-round bye.
Minnesota — North division.
Arizona — West division.
Philadelphia — playoff spot.
Green Bay — playoff spot.
Dallas — playoff spot.

Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Carolina, Atlanta, San Francisco, NY Giants.

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage:
1) NO win or tie
2) MIN loss or tie

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage.

Minnesota clinches home-field advantage:

1) MIN win + NO loss

Minnesota clinches a first-round bye:
1) MIN win or tie
2) PHI loss or tie

1) MIN win + PHI loss or tie
2) MIN tie + PHI loss


Arizona clinches a first-round bye:
1) ARI win + MIN loss + PHI loss

Philadelphia clinches East division:
1) PHI win or tie

Philadelphia clinches a first-round bye:
1) PHI win + MIN loss

1) PHI win
2) PHI tie + MIN loss or tie

Dallas clinches East division:
1) DAL win

Dallas clinches a first-round bye:
1) DAL win + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie

In the AFC I predict the Ravens and Broncos to make it.


NFL changes return to play concussion rules

Nearly 1/5th of NFL players surveyed said they hidden or downplayed the effects of a concussion. From AP-

NFL teams now have new, stricter instructions for when players should be allowed to return to games or practices after head injuries, guidelines that go into effect this week.

In the latest step by the league to address a hot-button issue, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the 32 clubs Wednesday saying a player who gets a concussion should not return to action on the same day if he shows certain signs or symptoms.

Those include an inability to remember assignments or plays, a gap in memory, persistent dizziness and persistent headaches.

The old standard, established in 2007, said a player should not be allowed to return to the same game if he lost consciousness.

Wednesday’s memo also says players “are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.”

The new guidelines sound good in practice(I think they were overdue. A player not able to think clearly has no business being on a football field.) but I doubt they will be adhered to. Coaches are under pressure to win and most NFL players aren’t inclined to challenge these people who have authority over them. A person is also more likely to press on and shrug off any ill feelings they have. I know I have for maladies large and small, including a slight concussion I suffered six years ago after an auto accident.


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