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?


Buffalo Bill OT Brad Butler announces his retirement

He is just 26-years-old. From AP-

Buffalo Bills starting right tackle Brad Butler announced his retirement on Thursday.

The news comes as a surprise to the Bills after the 26-year-old Butler completed his fourth NFL season.

Butler majored in government studies at Virginia, and spent the 2008 offseason interning at Kemp Partners in Washington DC with former and late Bills quarterback and congressman Jack Kemp.

“My passion for education, country and community is something that I am ready to devote my full attention to,” he said in a statement released by the team. “I believe the best way to pursue these spheres of interest is to step away from the game of football at this point in my life.”

Butler was probably more interested in non-football matters. He spent most of the 2009 season injured. I make a bet that influenced his career decision.


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.


Buffalo Bills hire Chan Gailey as head coach

He becomes the third man to lead the team since last September. From ESPN-

The Buffalo Bills have hired former Dallas Cowboys and Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey as their new coach.

The team announced the hiring at a news conference at its facility in Orchard Park, N.Y., Tuesday afternoon.

The Bills were said to be impressed with how Gailey has brought teams to the playoffs with quarterbacks such as Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart and Jay Fiedler. In fact, Bill Cowher — whom the Bills had been courting to replace the fired Dick Jauron — highly recommended Gailey to the Bills.

Cowher planned to make Gailey his assistant head coach/offensive coordinator if he came back. Gailey has coached in four Super Bowls and has had his teams go to the playoffs in 11 of his 15 NFL seasons.

The 58-year-old Gailey fits the profile set by newly hired general manager Buddy Nix, who preferred hiring someone with head-coaching experience. Gailey has run college and pro teams, including a two-year stint as coach of the World League of American Football Birmingham Fire in 1991-92. He also coached Troy State (1983-84) and Samford (1993).

Gailey was coach of the Cowboys in 1998-99, following Barry Switzer, reaching the playoffs in both seasons but failing to win a playoff game. He was dismissed after the 1999 season, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has acknowledged his mistake in firing Gailey.

He went 44-33 at Georgia Tech from 2002 through 2007 and led the Yellow Jackets to a bowl game in all six seasons at the helm. But he went 0-6 against rival Georgia and he was fired after finishing 7-5 in his final season.

Gailey has extensive pro and college head coaching experience, and was offensive coordinator of both Kansas City and Miami in the NFL during the last ten years. Will he be successful in Buffalo? I won’t hazard a guess, but just say that the Bills are in need of a great deal of rebuilding.


Get out your slide rules- AFC Wild Card picture time

Yesterday I expressed disbelief that some how the Miami Dolphins could some how still be in the playoff picture after their loss to Houston made them 7-8. Before I write anything more, I’ll break down how the AFC stands at this moment.sliderule

Division Champions that receive first round byes- Indianapolis 14-1, San Diego 12-3
Division Champions- New England 10-5, Cincinnati 10-5. As of this moment the Patriots are the #3 seed.
Out of the playoff picture entirely- Kansas City, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo, Tennessee

While those five teams can not make the post season, more than one of them can play the part of spoiler this weekend.

Wild card contenders- Denver, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers all at 8-7. Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at 7-8.

Next week’s games involving wild card contenders

Bengals at Jets
Chiefs at Broncos
Ravens at Raiders
Texans at Patriots
Steelers at Dolphins
Jaguars at Browns

Remarkably not one AFC playoff contender is playing an out of conference team to finish the 2009 schedule. San Diego who has clinched a playoff spot and Tennessee who is out of the picture are both playing NFC teams next weekend.

Last night before going to bed I scoured ESPN and South Florida media websites looking for an article with an AFC playoff picture explanation. None were available.

This morning the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, and ESPN all had articles up on the playoff picute. Not surprisingly the Post and Herald focused on Miami. ESPN just summarized how the standings are at this moment and projected the first round of the playoffs as if play ended today.(The Jets and Broncos would qualify) What a lot of good that is.Cray X1E

Maybe ESPN didn’t have enough bandwith free to post all the possible playoff scenarios. Perhaps they needed a Cray super computer to do the calculations, or even if they had one available the power drain of using it threatened to blackout the entire Northeast.(ESPN is based out of Conecticut.)

Bottom line so far as I am concerned The Miami Dolphins are alive but their chances are slim and the New York Jets are in control of their own destiny.

For Miami to make the post season all of the following needs to take place-

Bengals beat the Jets
Raiders beat Ravens
Patriots beat Texans
Browns beat Jaguars
Dolphins beat Steelers

Neither the Herald or Post made mention of Denver. Therefore I assume whether Denver wins or loses next Sunday, it has no impact on Miami’s playoff chances.

All of which could plausibly happen. The Raiders or Browns winning would be considered upsets. Right now I have as much confidence in those teams winning as I do in Miami beating Pittsburgh.

Like ESPN, I won’t list all the playoff scenarios. I don’t think OTB’s owner James Joyner would appreciate me crashing his website and I’ve been kicked off one blog already this year.


Terrell Owens records his 1,000th career reception

He was two catches away from the milestone entering today’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons. From AP-

Terrell Owens is the sixth player in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes.

Owens reached the milestone with an 8-yard catch for Buffalo in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. He had a 10-yard catch from Brian Brohm, making his first start, earlier in the drive.

Owens entered the game needing two catches to reach 1,000 for his career, which began in 1996. He reached the milestone in 203 games. Only Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice reached 1,000 career receptions in fewer games.

As of the time I wrote this blog post, Falcon TE Tony Gonzalez has 996 career receptions.

I remember when the NFL career reception record was a little over 600. That is the basis for the following trivia question. Who is the NFL player who has the highest yards per catch for a receiver with over 600 career receptions? The answer is below the fold.


Not pretty at all- NY Jets beat Buffalo 19-13

The battle for AFC New York bragging rights took place in Toronto. From AP-

Looks like quarterback Mark Sanchez needs to take some more sliding lessons. At least the New York Jets’ bid to make a late-season playoff push is back on better footing.

Sanchez threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards before hurting his right knee, and the Jets’ stingy defense finished the job in a 19-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.

The Jets (6-6) won their second straight game and moved within a victory of AFC East-leading New England (7-4), which plays at Miami on Sunday.

Sanchez was seen wearing a knee brace late in the game. Jets Coach described the knee injury as a mild sprain.

Anyone who talks about the Jets, or matter of fact the Miami Dolphins, as legitimate playoff teams are deluding themselves. Both teams have problems, a sputtering offense led by a apprentice defense in New York and a porous defense in Miami, that have made both teams play .500 so far this year. It just isn’t realistic to talk about either team turning it up and making a playoff run. New England will win the AFC East, the Jets and Dolphins are not going to make the playoffs.


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.


Former NFL Defensive Back Tom Janik dead at 69

He was twice an AFL All-Star. RIP.

Tom Janik, a former AFL-NFL player who in 1968 intercepted a pass by Joe Namath and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown, has died. He was 69.

Vinyard Funeral Homes says Janik died Saturday in Poth, about 35 miles from San Antonio.

Janik, a defensive back and punter, made 25 interceptions in eight AFL seasons with Denver, Buffalo and Boston. The touchdown return against Namath and the New York Jets was one of six in Janik’s career.

Janik played one year with the New England Patriots after the AFL-NFL merger.


Buffalo Bills fire coach Dick Jauron

He was 24-23 since being hired in 2006. From ESPN-

The Buffalo Bills have fired head coach Dick Jauron after a 3-6 start in which the offense has been one of the worst in the NFL.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will likely take over as interim head coach, reported.

“I am announcing today that I am relieving Dick Jauron from his duties as our head coach, effective immediately,” Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. said in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for Dick and thank him for all of his efforts during these past four years. While this was a very difficult decision, I felt that it is one that needed to be made at this time for the best interest of our team. We will now focus on moving forward and preparing for our game this week in Jacksonville.”

Jauron was 24-33 since being hired by former general manager Marv Levy in 2006 to be head coach.

Actually I think Cleveland is worse offensively than Buffalo. I’m not surprised by Jauron’s firing, but don’t think it will have any effect on this year’s team.


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