Sports Outside the Beltway

San Diego Chargers release RB LaDainian Tomlinson

He was NFL MVP for 2006. From ESPN-

The San Diego Chargers released running back LaDainian Tomlinson Monday afternoon.

Tomlinson played nine seasons in San Diego, but at the age of 30 and with declining numbers, Tomlinson has been anticipating his release for the past month.

“It was a longtime coming, but I knew it was coming,” Tomlinson said, according to “Now that it’s official I can kind of look to the next step in my career and playing football for someone else.”

Tomlinson ranks eighth on the all-time rushing list with 12,490 yards. His 138 career rushing touchdowns rank second, and his 153 total touchdowns rank third.

He was the NFL’s MVP in 2006, when he set NFL single-season records with 31 touchdowns and 186 points. Tomlinson won the NFL’s rushing title in 2006 and ’07.

A former first-round pick, Tomlinson rushed for only 730 yards in 14 games last season and had a 3.3-yard rushing average. He struggled on first down during the Chargers playoff loss to the New York Jets.

Still, the Tomlinson years were some of the best in Chargers history. Tomlinson established himself as a star during a rookie season in 2001 when he rushed for 1,236 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.

Tomlinson has been in a steady decline since 2007. The NFL salary cap makes it about impossible for a team to keep an aging veteran these days. I for one prefer the old days where someone like a Walter Payton could play his entire career for one team.(The Chicago Bears)


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.


NFL Linebacker Junior Seau says he is retiring

This is his 4th retirement. From AP-

Junior Seau is retiring again.

The 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker, who returned to the New England Patriots this season, said in remarks to be broadcast on Showtime on Wednesday night that he has played his last game.

Seau first retired in August 2006 after 13 seasons with San Diego and three with Miami. But he signed with the Patriots four days later and played 27 games for them over two seasons. He retired again after the 2007 season, then came out of retirement for the final four games in 2008 before retiring after that season.

Seau played in 8 games for the Patriots this year, but all were in a backup capacity. When Seau hasn’t played in a game or worked out with a NFL for two years, then I’ll believe he is retired for real.


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.


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.


All Charged up- San Diego beats Tennessee 42-17

The AFC playoff picture is beginning to take shape as the league goes into its final two weekends of play. From AP-

The San Diego Chargers have their first-round bye, and Philip Rivers is still perfect in December.SD-Ten

Tennessee’s bid for NFL history? The Titans lost that right along with their postseason dream, looking like a throwback to the team that started the season 0-6.

Rivers threw two touchdowns passes, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for two scores and the Chargers beat the Titans 42-17 on Friday night to grab the AFC’s No. 2 seed and that first-round bye in the playoffs.


The AFC West champs streaked to their 10th straight win and tied the 1970-74 Miami Dolphins for most consecutive wins in a month with their 18th in December dating to 2006. The Dolphins won 18 in a row in November.

Darren Sproles caught a TD pass and ran for two more scores to help San Diego (12-3) squash the Titans’ dreams of becoming the NFL’s first team to start 0-6 and rebound to make the playoffs. Tennessee (7-8) had hoped to top what the 1994 Chargers did in reaching the postseason after an 0-4 start.

The Titans had an incredible turnaround this year. You have to give them credit for that, the team didn’t give up which could have been so easy to do.

Last night’s game didn’t clear up the AFC picture much. San Diego and Indianapolis are guaranteed byes and Tennessee is out of the picture. Things that did remain the same Cincinnati and New England can lock up division titles with just a win. Denver and Baltimore have the inside track for wild card spots. The New York Jets, Jacksonville, Miami, Pittsburgh and Houston all need help. I predict Denver and Baltimore will hold on to the spots they have now.


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.


San Diego Chargers release WR Chris Chambers

He has only nine receptions so far for the 2009 NFL season. From ESPN-

The San Diego Chargers have waived veteran wide receiver Chris Chambers.

Chambers must clear waivers in order to play for another team. Each team will have chance to claim him by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Chargers coach Norv Turner said the Chargers released Chambers because of the emergence of Malcom Floyd and the need to sign a linebacker because of an injury to Tim Dobbins on Sunday. If another team claims Chambers, the Chargers won’t have to pay the $2.25 million they owe him.

Chambers had one catch for 20 yards Sunday against Oakland. He has only nine catches for 122 yards and one touchdown this season.

The Chargers acquired Chambers from the Miami Dolphins in 2007. Would Miami be interested in Chambers services? The rumors have already begun. Miami has a young and inexperienced receiving corps. If I were Dolphins management, I’d sign Chambers.


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