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.


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.


Mike Shanahan to be next Washington Redskins coach

He will replace the recently fired Jim Zorn. From ESPN-

After an afternoon of negotiations produced an agreement, Mike Shanahan signed a five-year contract to become head coach and executive vice president of football operations for the Washington Redskins.

Under the terms of the new deal, Shanahan will team with Redskins executive vice president and general manager Bruce Allen, but Shanahan will have the ultimate authority on football decisions. Shanahan will be introduced as the Redskins head coach at a 2 p.m. ET news conference Wednesday.

As the contract was being signed at the Redskins’ training complex, Shanahan and owner Dan Snyder posed together for a picture. Then, with the deal signed, Shanahan, his agent Sandy Montag, Allen and Snyder headed out for a celebration dinner in Washington, D.C.

The contract is worth approximately $7 million a year, the Denver Post reported on its Web site. Now that Shanahan has been hired elsewhere, the Denver Broncos, who fired Shanahan one year ago, will recoup $7 million in offset money over the next two seasons under the terms of the agreement they had with the coach.

Shanahan has 14 years head coaching experience in the NFL and his teams made the playoffs in half of those years. Can he turn around Washington? Yes. Will he? I predict Shanahan’s tenure in DC will be less than 5 years, and no the Redskins will not be much improved at the time of Shanahan’s departure. The team needs a new owner and an overhaul on the field.


Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn

This news is no surprise in light of the team’s 4-12 record for 2009.

The Washington Redskins say they’ve fired coach Jim Zorn.Redskins Chargers Football

General manager Bruce Allen says Zorn was informed of the decision shortly after the team returned to Redskins Park early Monday, following a season-ending 23-20 loss to San Diego.

Allen said in a statement released by the team that “the status quo is not acceptable.”

Allen, who has been the GM for three weeks, said he “felt it was necessary to not waste a moment of time building this team into a winner.”

Zorn was 12-20 over two seasons as coach. The Redskins finished 4-12 this season.

So who will the moronic team owner hire next? The Zorn selection came out of the blue, and before that the retired Joe Gibbs and Florida Gator Coach Steve Spurrier were deemed odd selections for an NFL team in the 00′s. If there is a NFL owner crazier and more unpredictable than Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders, it is Washington’s Daniel Snyder.

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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.


Former Pitt Panther Head Coach Foge Fazio dead at 71

He was also a long-time NFL assistant with five different teams. Most recently he was a Pitt radio analyst. RIP.

Foge Fazio, who succeeded Jackie Sherrill as the football coach at alma mater Pittsburgh and later was a defensive coordinator for the NFL’s Vikings and Browns, died Wednesday night following a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 71.

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson confirmed Fazio’s death while attending the Pitt-Duquesne basketball game on Wednesday night.

Fazio, who grew up in Coraopolis, Pa., in suburban Pittsburgh, was a former Pitt linebacker and center and was chosen as the team MVP in 1959. He was drafted by the AFL’s Boston Patriots in 1960 but soon after moved into coaching. He spent nine seasons as a Pitt assistant, the final three as defensive coordinator, before being promoted to head coach in 1982, following three successive 11-1 seasons under Sherrill.

Fazio’s first Pitt team, quarterbacked by Dan Marino, began the season ranked No. 1 and started 7-0, but lost three of its final five as the Panthers’ offense struggled. His 1983 team went 8-3-1, but he was fired with two years left on his contract following a 31-0 loss to Penn State in 1985.

Fazio was 25-18-3 at Pitt, including a 3-7-1 record in 1984.

“I don’t know that anyone embodied the Pitt spirit better than Foge Fazio,” Pederson said. “It was obvious from the first time that I met him how passionate he was about this university and its football program. Foge had the unique ability to make everyone he came in contact with feel special. In so many ways he represented all the great things associated with the University of Pittsburgh.”

After leaving Pitt, Fazio was hired as coach Lou Holtz’s defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. He also was an assistant coach with the Falcons, Jets and Redskins and was the defensive coordinator of the Vikings (1996-98) and Browns (2001-02). He retired with Cleveland in 2003 but returned two years later as a Vikings defensive consultant under coach Mike Tice.

Fazio spent the last two seasons as a radio analyst on Pitt football broadcasts, but hadn’t worked this season since the South Florida game on Oct. 24. He recently told broadcast partner Bill Hillgrove he hoped to return for the No. 14 Panthers game Saturday against No. 5 Cincinnati.

“Foge was a true ‘Pitt Man,’ ” Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. “He loved this university and everyone at Pitt loved Foge.


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.


Washington Head Coach Jim Zorn stripped of play-calling responsibilities

The Redskin offense was listless at best in a defeat to previously winless Chiefs today. From ESPN-

Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn lost more than a game on Sunday.

Zorn was told after a 14-6 setback to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs that he will not call offensive plays anymore.

Executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato met with Zorn and told him that he has too many responsibilitiesChiefs Redskins Football right now, Redskins’ director of communications Zack Bolno told’s Matt Mosley. The team did not reveal who would call plays, but an announcement is expected on Monday.

Zorn began his postgame news conference with a loud, lengthy sigh into the microphone. And the coach kept on sighing as he discussed a loss which dropped the Redskins to 2-4 this season and 4-10 over their past 14 games.

“I’ve got to be better. And it really irritates me. Truly irritates me,” Zorn said. “And I’m just not going to rest until I get that taken care of.”

The heat on Zorn is sure to increase leading up to Washington’s next outing: a high-profile Monday night game Oct. 26 against the Philadelphia Eagles, which is followed by the Redskins’ bye week.

The owner of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder, has never been a particularly patient owner or a competent one. His hiring of Jim Zorn less than two years ago left many football experts puzzled by the decision. Zorn won’t be the Redskins head coach in 2010. If the team loses their next game, I am expecting him to be fired and a interim coach before the next game is played.


It’s over- Detroit beats Washington 19-14

The Lions hadn’t won a regular season game since December 2007. From AP-

The Detroit Lions ended their 19-game losing streak by holding off the Washington Redskins 19-14 Sunday.

Matthew Stafford threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson in the first quarter and the two connected to draw a key penalty to set up a TD in the fourth quarter.

The Lions (1-2) had not won since Dec. 23, 2007 and their skid matched the second longest in NFL history.

Washington (1-2) pulled within five points on Jason Campbell’s second touchdown pass with 2:36 left in the game, but couldn’t prevent the Lions from picking up a first down that ran time off the clock and cost it three timeouts.

These are two of the worst teams in the whole NFL. If they win 10 games between the two of them this year, I’d be greatly surprised.


Veteran NFL Quarterback Trent Green announces his retirement

He played in the NFL for 15 seasons with four different teams. From AP-

Veteran quarterback Trent Green says he has decided to retire, Fox Sports reported.

Green, whose career was hampered by injuries, played for five teams over 15 seasons and spent last season with the St. Louis Rams as Marc Bulger’s backup. The Rams released him earlier this year.

He was the Kansas City Chiefs’ starter between 2001 and 2005, passing for more than 3,600 yards in each season. But concussions — most notably, a frightening hit in the 2006 season opener — slowed his latter career.

In 120 career games, Green completed 2,266 of 3,740 passes for 28,475 yards, with 162 touchdowns, 114 interceptions and a passer rating of 86.0. He threw for at least 24 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons (2002-04 ) for the Chiefs and led the team to a pair of playoff appearances, in 2003 and 2006, losing to the Indianapolis Colts both times.

One of Green’s injuries helped shape the fortunes of another NFL quarterback.

Green was slated to be the Rams’ starting quarterback in 1999 when he was hurt during a preseason game. Kurt Warner took over and took the Rams to a pair of Super Bowls, winning it all in the 2000 game against the Tennessee Titans.

Green also played for the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins.

Green was a good player and a smart person till 2006 when everything began to get scrambled after he suffered a concussion. The Miami Dolphins traded for Green before the 2007 only to see him go down again with yet another concussion. Afterwards Green went doctor shopping as he tried clinging to an NFL job.

After the Dolphins disasterous 07 season, Green was released but the St. Louis Rams picked him up and even installed him as the team’s starting quarterback for a while but his play was less than impressive. Now that he has given up playing, Green might have a future as a quarterback coach. I wish him well wherever life may take him.


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