Sports Outside the Beltway

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.


Ugly finish- Carolina beats New Orleans 23-10

The Saints go into the playoffs without any momentum. From AP-

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton decided the risk of injury outweighed heading into the playoffs on a positive note.Car-NOR

The backups responded with an ugly performance that sends the No. 1 seed in the NFC to the postseason on a three-game losing streak.

Jonathan Stewart rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown and the Carolina Panthers finished their disappointing season with a 23-10 win over the lifeless Saints on Sunday.

Drew Brees came out for the coin toss and never saw the field again, allowing him to break the NFL record for completion percentage in a season. Backup Mark Brunell had few options with many other starters resting, too, and New Orleans (13-3) looked nothing like the team that less than a month ago was flirting with a perfect season.

It allowed the Panthers (8-8) to finish on a three-game winning streak amid questions about the future of coach John Fox, defensive end Julius Peppers and quarterback Jake Delhomme.

By getting back to .500, I think the Panthers preserved Fox’s job.

As for the Saints, I never thought they were great team even when they reached 13-0. The basis for my opinion was mostly came from their early season encounter with the Miami Dolphins. Their defense looked suspect to me. I know Drew Brees didn’t play in today’s game, and other starters were rested. Still I can’t pick New Orleans to make it to the Super Bowl. Arizona I think is the one to beat.


New Orleans DE Bobby McCray arrested for DUI

A former 7th round pick out of Florida, McCray is currently in his second season playing for the Saints. From AP-

New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray was arrested early Tuesday and charged with driving while intoxicated and other counts, police said.

Police spokesman Gary Flot says McCray, 28, was stopped by an officer who saw him speeding about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. He was booked into Orleans Parish Prison on charges of driving while intoxicated, speeding, careless operation of a motor vehicle and not having his vehicle registration with him.

A jail spokesman said McCray was released on his own recognizance around 7 a.m.

McCray refused to take a Breathalyzer test, police spokesman Janssen Valencia said.

“You have the right to refuse the test, but it has consequences,” Valencia said. “Those include arrest and losing your license.”

I’ve never understood how a country that has a constitutional ammendment protecting those accused of a crime from incriminating themselves, then penalizes those who refuse to incriminate themselves. Which is what a person refusing a Breathalyzer test is doing. Does anyone else see the paradox?


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.


New Orleans Saints waive K John Carney

Is the 45-year-old’s NFL career at an end? From ESPN-

The New Orleans Saints apparently won’t carry two kickers into the playoffs, as they’ve done for much of this year. The team announced Tuesday afternoon it has cut veteran kicker John Carney.

That’s a sign they’re committed to sticking with Garrett Hartley, who reclaimed the kicking job for the 12th game of the season. Hartley had been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy by taking a stimulant that he said was to keep him awake during a long drive.

Carney, 45 and a 21-year NFL veteran, was signed by the Saints when they became aware of Hartley’s suspension. Carney handled kicking duties in the first 11 games. He made 13-of-17 field goals and 50-of-52 extra points. Carney also played with the Saints from 2001 through 2006 and is the second-leading scorer in franchise history with 750 points.

New Orleans isn’t the only team to change placekickers this week. The Dallas Cowboys cut Nick Folk yesterday.

IMHO Carney’s kicking was sub par this year.(76.5 success rate on Field Goals compared to a career average of 82.4) That and in the light of his age and nomadic last few years(4 teams in less than 3 years), I do think his career is indeed over. I also think he will elected to the NFL Hall of Fame sometime in the future. Carney was one of the NFL’s elite kickers for 20 years.


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.


The Saints keep marching in- New Orleans beats Carolina 30-20

The Saints go to 8-0. From AP-

The New Orleans Saints moved to 8-0 for the first time in club history Sunday when Drew Brees overcame two early turnovers to pass for 330 yards and a touchdown in a comeback 30-20 victory over Carolina 30-20.

While the Saints’ defense did not intercept a pass for the first time all season, the unit forced three turnovers on fumbles. The last produced New Orleans’ seventh defensive touchdown of the season on Anthony Hargrove’s strip, recovery and 1-yard return late in the fourth quarter.

DeAngelo Williams rushed for 149 yards and two TDs, and Carolina gained 182 on the ground. However, it was Williams’ fumble at his 1 with just more than 2 minutes left that led to New Orleans’ clinching TD.

I watched parts of this game plus the Saints wins against Miami and the New York Giants. Their offense looks almost unstoppable. Can they go 16-0?

The next two games for New Orleans are against St. Louis and Tampa Bay, two of the worst teams in the NFL. After that comes a game against New England. I think the well balanced Patriots will stop the Saints march to perfection.


Blown away by the Brees- New Orleans beats Miami 46-34

I have seldom watched a wilder football game in my life than the one played yesterday afternoon in South Florida. The outcome was depressing for Miami Dolphin fans. How could it be anything else? The team was up 24-3 but were outscored 44-10 over the last 30 minutes and five seconds of the game.Brees

A couple of comments on the game.

With five seconds left in the first half and the score 24-3, New Orleans was about two feet from the end zone. The Saints sent their kicking crew on the field. So what does Dolphin Coach Tony Sparano do?

He calls a time out! I always thought icing the kicking is a dumb strategy and this really backfired on Miami. Given time to re-consider what they wanted to do, New Orleans sent their offense back on the field. Drew Brees sneaked it into the end zone to make the game 24-10 instead of 24-6 at halftime.

Great move Coach Sparano. NOT! I blame Sparano for last night’s defeat. He overcoached at just the wrong moment. His excuse of “We wanted to be in the right personnel, and we called a timeout to bring in the right personnel” doesn’t work in my opinion. The referees had just taken a touchdown away from the Saints, the kicking crew was on the field. Don’t ever give a team a 2nd chance to score a touchdown should be drummed into Sparano’s head by Dolphin fans for the rest of 2009.

Another duh moment happened late in the game but this time it involved the officiating crew. Joey Porter got called for a personal foul after a short gain by New Orleans. Why the flag? He pushed off on a Saint player after the play ended. That’s a personal foul? Porter didn’t level the guy or throw a punch or anything. Besides the Saint player had first pushed off Porter. The NFL and its officiating crews seem hell bent to keep the game colorless(don’t celebrate a touchdown or turnover by spiking a football or we throw a flag! Then why didn’t the officials throw a flag on the Saints after a player heaved the ball in the stands after a touchdown? Isn’t that another form spiking?) and wuss like if players deviate in the slightest from the sanitary football you want played.

Additional bad news- Cornerback Will Allen suffered a knee injury last night and will miss the rest of 2009. The Dolphin pass defense which is poor already is about to get worse.

Last night’s game was so aggravating on many levels. Miami is 2-4 and has New England up next. This is no time to rest.


Very Bad- New Orleans Saints blow out Oakland Raiders 45-7

I can’t ever recall an exhibition game won by 38 points. From AP-

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense looked to be in midseason form. Unfortunately for the fans in Oakland, the Raiders appear to be as well.

Brees completed 14 of 17 passes for 179 yards and drove the Saints to touchdowns on all three drives he played, leading New Orleans to a 45-7 exhibition victory over the Raiders on Saturday.


Brees completed his first eight passes, as he had receivers open all over the field. The return of last year’s leading receiver, Lance Moore, from offseason shoulder surgery helped Brees’ cause. He had four catches for 29 yards, including a 5-yarder in the back of the end zone on Brees’ final pass.

That touchdown gave the Saints a 21-0 lead with 13:53 left in the half and brought an early end to Brees’ day and loud boos from a Raiders crowd that has seen plenty of bad football during a six-year stretch when Oakland has lost an NFL-worst 72 games.

The Saints were able to move the ball with ease even without top running backs Pierre Thomas (knee) and Reggie Bush (calf). Mike Bell started, but Lynell Hamilton got the bulk of the work with 16 carries for 95 yards. P.J. Hill added 89 yards and two touchdown runs.

Brees drove the Saints 80 yards on the opening drive, culminating in Heath Evans’ 4-yard run. Brees capped the next drive when he stepped up in the pocket and hit Devery Henderson on a 40-yard pass behind safety Hiram Eugene.

New Orleans added two more scores before halftime behind backup Mark Brunell, taking a 31-0 lead when Hill scored on a 1-yard run with 1:21 left in the half. That was set up by a 71-yard pass from Brunell to Robert Meacham.

The Saints outgained Oakland 344-60 in the first half, posting 19 first downs to three for the Raiders. New Orleans finished with 536 yards of total offense.

Oakland went 5-11 last year. From the looks of this game, the Raiders may need a great deal of luck to win more than two games in 2009.


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