Monday’s 7 Casual Contemplations

Steve nash

It’s Monday and the past weekend has filled me with some contemplations of a casual nature. I know it’s been a while but I want to start your work week off right. Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s 7 somewhat thought out points from the week that was.

Hangover Cure anyone?

For those of you who don’t believe in the Super Bowl hangover, you might want to rethink that. The New York Giants are a prime example of a team that is clearly hung over. When it comes to the Giants, it is pretty much expected that when their backs are up against the wall, the switch will suddenly turn on. They have done it so much that we assumed another typical clutch performance would come from the Giants against the reeling Ravens yesterday.

The Giants decided not to follow the script.

Instead, they gave a hapless performance and the New York Giants looked like dwarves against a Baltimore Ravens team that has been brutal on both sides of the ball in recent weeks. For a game that they almost had to have, the lack of motivation and intensity shouldn’t be all that surprising. That’s what a hangover will do to a team.

New York is still not out of the playoffs but they might as well be because this hangover thing isn’t going away anytime soon. A big performance in week 17 can’t change that.

No Doubt

The Seattle Seahawks sent a message that was louder than the fans at Century Link Field on Sunday. They are for real and are not going anywhere. Crushing Arizona and Buffalo was one thing but smoking a San Francisco team fresh off its very own statement win against New England is quite another. Along with Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano, Pete Carroll is squashing the notion that college coaches can’t make the transition to the NFL.

This obviously isn’t news to anyone that the Seahawks are a real threat out of the NFC. Nevertheless, the evolution of their team throughout the season has been incredibly impressive. Marshawn Lynch no longer has to carry this football team as Russell Wilson has gone from game manager to game changer in the span of less than a season. The Seahawks may lack the game breaker on the outside but that defence combined with an ever maturing offence is scary for anyone that may have to face the Seahawks in January.

If Qwest Field was still the name of the Seahawks home field, I would probably have made some lame pun about them being on a quest for a Super Bowl…but I won’t do that.

Quarterback Controversy?

Speaking of game changers, Colin Kaepernick hasn’t lost that part of his game. It is an aspect that Alex Smith will never add to his repertoire. Smith was ever so close to leading the 49ers to a the championship game last year but it’s still game changers that win Super Bowls.

Just don’t tell Trent Dilfer.

Jim Harbaugh is going with Colin Kaepernick and rightly so. The 49ers had already reached the point of no return before this week’s debacle in Seattle. Kaepernick is the starter for the foreseeable future and his performance in Seattle sure as hell didn’t change that. There is no quarterback controversy no matter what the media says, so don’t go on increasing ESPN’s page views to express your opinion on the issue. It’s a non-issue, deal with it.

Kid Canada

Following Steve Nash’s heroic return to the lineup on Saturday, the Knicks-Lakers game on the 25th is now as marquee as a matchup gets. However, the result on Christmas day still won’t be a true indicator of how realistic the Lakers championship aspirations are.

As bad as the Lakers have been, it doesn’t mean a thing without Steve Nash in the lineup and now they’re going to need a lot more time to figure it out with Nash. Their defence is still going to be a big problem as we saw in their comeback win against the Warriors but offensively the Lakers will resemble something much closer to a well-oiled machine with Nash back running the point.

Their showdown with the Knicks tomorrow is no doubt intriguing but another destruction at the hands of New York’s superior team should not be too concerning for Los Angeles.

M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!

Turn out the lights because the party is over.

Peyton Manning is the National Football League’s most valuable player and comeback player of the year. While Manning shredded the Cleveland Browns, Adrian Peterson was busy mustering out 86 very hard fought yards against the Houston Texans and Tom Brady was struggling his way through the Jaguars vaunted defense.

Peyton Manning was already the odds on favourite heading into week 16 and his performance sealed the deal.

It should be noted that as amazing as all-day Adrian Peterson has been this year, he was not the reason the Minnesota Vikings got off to their hot start in September. Remember when we thought Christian Ponder might actually be good?

The MVP has to go to Peyton Manning and Week 17 won’t change anything.

Shame Bowl

Jacksonville will be fighting the Kansas City Chiefs for the coveted 1st overall pick in April’s draft in week 17. While both teams could use a franchise quarterback, this year’s class might not be as enticing as the 2012 class that included Andrew Luck and RGIII.

Matt Barkley’s stock has fallen substantially and Geno Smith would be a stretch to take at number 1. Unfortunately for these two teams, RGIII’s and Andrew Luck’s aren’t a part of every single draft class and they’re just going to have to make do with the less than stellar quarterback class of 2013.

All hail Brady Quinn…I guess.

5 Consecutive Baby!

Canada’s team, the Toronto Raptors, are heading into the Christmas Break with a 5 game winning streak after starting the season 5-19.

I smell a championship. Book it.

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It’s Peyton’s Choice

Peyton Manning is a man. He can make his own decisions and no one else should be telling him otherwise. As much everyone thinks they know what is best for Peyton Manning, they don’t.

Manning is coming off reportedly 4 separate neck surgeries in the past 2 years according to Don Banks of SI.com. According to his birth certificate, Peyton will be 36 by the time the 2012 NFL season rolls around. He has played 13 seasons in the NFL according to his stats page on NFL.com.

A lot of people talk about legacy. Brett Favre apparently had his tarnished.

Apparently, Peyton Manning could end up doing the same thing.

Nonsense.

Peyton Manning can do what he wants.

The tarnishing of the infamous legacy is one of the most absurd concepts in professional sports. People illogically believe that it is in duty to protect an athlete’s so-called legacy. There is this idea that one should stop playing before the inevitable decline of father time or injuries take their toll on that person, making them unable to perform close to the level that fans are used to. Rumour has it that continuing to play past this point of substantial decline or even just the possibility of playing past that point is grounds for tarnishing of the legacy.

For some reason, it is engrained in sports culture that what you do late in your career can take away from the things that happened in the prime of your career. The thing is, this George Costanza idea of going out on a high note really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Last time I checked, you can’t erase what’s written in the history books. That stuff is down in permanent marker, you know, the TO kind of sharpie. But more importantly, the decision of whether or not to keep playing really shouldn’t come down to legacy at all.

Brett Favre still wanted to play. Peyton Manning wants to as well.

Who are we to try and tell these guys what to do? This isn’t our life. We aren’t their mothers.

They should be able to play as long as they want. If there is someone out there that is willing to pay them money to play the game that they love, then by all means they can choose to carry on with their careers. If playing is what the heart desires, the barrier stopping that from happening should be a Donovan McNabb situation. McNabb isn’t close to the level of Manning or Favre, but there came a time this past year when no was willing to pay McNabb to play football. Hey buddy, now it’s time to retire.

As weird as it was for fans to see Johnny Unitas in a Chargers uniform or Warren Moon in a Chiefs uniform, the far from fairy-tale endings to their careers have done next to nothing to skew the way they have been remembered.

Of course, not that it matters anyways.

Michael Jordan said that he wanted to go out on his own terms. He did that when he tried his hand at professional baseball. He did that when he played 2 seasons for the Washington Wizards. Michael Jordan did what he wanted to and has probably left the game happier because of it.

Regret is one of the worst feelings in life. I’m young. At 20 years old, I almost certainly don’t understand what real regret is. Nevertheless, it can’t be easy for a professional athlete to live the next 50 years of his life and know that he had more to give to the game. To walk away from the only identity and livelihood you have ever known is undoubtedly a scary thing. It’s scarier to think about when you know that there’s more left in the tank.

Brett Favre became one of the most repulsive athletes for his multiple pseudo-retirements. However, when you reflect back to his magical season at the age of 40 in Minnesota, you can’t help but think it was all worth it. Again, what I think doesn’t really matter. It’s what Brett thinks. I bet he would be the first to tell you that having one of the most improbable, unpredictable and captivating seasons in sports history made it all worth it.

If he had listened to what everyone was saying, we would never have seen what Brett Favre had in store for us that season.

Peyton Manning is barely a year removed from being on top of the NFL mountain. If he wishes to return to the NFL, most likely not in a Colts uniform, then he should do so. If not, he can walk away from the game as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

He has to do it on his terms though.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Don’t Suck For Me…Or Else

Andrew Luck is worried.

Well, at least he should be.

“Suck for Luck” is sweeping the nation. According to Luck, this doesn’t concern him too much. He is just going to go out each week, play his game and continue striving for a national championship.

In theory, the Heisman candidate shouldn’t be wasting his time and energy on which city could be his new zip code for the next 15 years. In theory, he is going to be drafted onto an awful team. Too bad for Andrew Luck the Indianapolis Colts are screwing with the nature of the NFL draft.

Luck is saying all the right things but we know all too well that the Colts would be a devastating landing spot for the Stanford product. To Luck, going to Indianapolis would make him feel like he was kicked in the groin by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robinson. He can ask T.J. Lang how that feels.

With 6 teams – the Dolphins, Jaguars, Vikings, Rams, Cardinals and Colts – still firmly entrenched in the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes, you would have to put Colts as one of the frontrunners after 7 weeks.

The Dolphins and Colts are the two favourite heavyweights in the ‘suckiest be luckiest’ division. But after the thorough beat down the Colts took at the hand of the New Orleans Saints, 62-7 on Sunday night, the Colts might have Vegas giving them the best imaginary odds to take it all.

I don’t think I can remember an instance in my lifetime where Peyton Manning and quarterback controversy was used in the same sentence.

Andrew Luck got into Stanford. He’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t want to be part of one of those. He can ask Aaron Rodgers how that feels.

However, it would be ironic if the first player touted a once-in-a-decade talent since Peyton Manning ended up fighting it out with him for the starting job.

Nevertheless, an ironic situation isn’t topping Andrew Luck’s NFL aspirations bucket list. For his own sake, Luck must make sure he doesn’t ever have to face that ironic situation. He has the power to prevent it but his personality might stop him from doing so.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, there is no doubt that Andrew Luck will be ready to start week 1 of the 2012 season. Heck, he would have been ready to start week 1 of the 2011 season. I still believe he should have come out last year. Maybe he didn’t want to go to Carolina but it has got to hurt a little bit to see Cam Newton have such a successful first half of the season.

The thing is, Cam Newton is exactly the reason that Andrew Luck can’t let himself end up in Indianapolis. Consider this, 4 quarterbacks drafted in 2011 and 8 quarterbacks drafted since 2010 are currently starting in the NFL. It would be crazy if Luck wasn’t starting week 1 of 2012.

No one knows how many years Peyton Manning has left, especially following 3 neck surgeries. Although, if we have learned anything about Peyton we know that he wants Brett Favre longevity, which doesn’t bode well for Andrew Luck.

Luck foolishly proved that he is a selfless individual by returning to Stanford for another unnecessary year. He doesn’t need to prove it again.

Related: Make the Right Decision Andrew Luck

At some point, but not yet, he is going to have to speak up and tell the world that he will not sign with the Indianapolis Colts if Peyton Manning is there. A selfish ultimatum from a selfless individual. Yeah, he might be criticized by some for a move like that but it would be worth it in the long run.

The other Manning wouldn’t sign with the Chargers. His reputation wasn’t tarnished by his refusal to sign. He won a Super Bowl.

Even if the Colts ended up taking Luck, fully intending to trade him, is there really a guarantee that some team is willing to pay the inevitably mammoth price to get him? The 2012 draft is projected to be one saturated with quarterback talent. Well known prospects Matt Barkley out of USC and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones round out the top 3 quarterbacks.

Is the price for Luck really worth it when other potential stars are available in Jones and Barkley?

What about the possibility of stepping into Peyton Manning’s shoes following a trade of the Colts legend?

If Peyton Manning were traded to allow Andrew Luck to start in his rookie year, the expectations and animosity surrounding Luck among Colts fans would be tremendous. While I’m sure Luck would be able to handle the increased stress, the conditions are certainly not ideal for a quarterback with so much already on his shoulders.

Playing in a Miami or Jacksonville type city would allow for a certain degree of patience that wouldn’t be accepted in Indianapolis.

It could be argued that learning behind one of the great minds in NFL history would be beneficial to Andrew Luck. Much like playing behind Brett Favre seems to have been most helpful to Aaron Rodgers.

Despite the possible advantage sitting out 2-4 years could have for Andrew Luck, his situation is far from similar to Rodgers. People tend to forget that Aaron Rodgers slipped all the way down to 24th overall in the year he was drafted. For some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, I don’t see Luck slipping to 24th overall. Rodgers was not touted as a once-in-a-generation talent, he didn’t have the power to demand better circumstances and are we seriously supposed to believe Rodgers wouldn’t be the quarterback he is today if not for those years riding the pine.

If Luck is as great as they say he is, he can, should and will be able to learn on the job.

Andrew Luck doesn’t have to cost himself precious years of a football career that could potentially be one of the best in history.

All he has to do is speak up.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Larry Fitzgerald is Only a Wide Receiver

Chris Johnson is probably still a little jealous right about now. While he sits at home, Larry Fitzgerald is enjoying his first day with a brand spanking new 8 year, $120 million contract. With this new deal, the Arizona Cardinals have told Larry Fitzgerald that he is not only one of the best receivers in football but one of the very best that the game has to offer.

This is stupid.

It’s not stupid to say that Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in football nor is it stupid to say that he is one of the very best that the game has to offer.

However, it is stupid to give a receiver (a rumoured) $50 million in guaranteed money. It looks like Homer Simpson is back to controlling professional sports franchises again. At least, I would hope so.

The Arizona Cardinals ownership seems determined to relive the winning magic that they experienced not too long ago. Maybe some Cardinals fans can take comfort in the fact that ownership was willing to overpay for the two cornerstone pieces of the franchises in Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald.

Not me. Luckily, I’m not a Cardinals fan.

It’s going to take a lot to justify giving a wide receiver, of all positions, $50 million in guaranteed money. To the best of my knowledge, this isn’t Madden football and the Cardinals do not possess the power to simply turn the salary cap mode off. This isn’t Major League Baseball. In a desperate attempt to prove that they care, the Bidwell family is potentially hampering their organization for years to come.

$120 million for a player who touches the ball 10 times on a good day is a troublesome thought. The Cardinals already overpaid when they addressed the most important position in football. For the most part, I’m fine with that. In all likelihood, John Skelton isn’t your guy.

A wide receiver can only do so much though. Yes, a great receiver can be a game-breaker but in no way will he ever be a $120 million game-breaker.

An inability to manoeuvre with any sort of flexibility under the cap is always an issue with these contracts but with a franchise quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning that kind of money is certainly justifiable.

Even Peyton Manning and Tom Brady took pay cuts to ensure that they gave their team some financial flexibility.

Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t willing to take a pay cut and his team is going to suffer for it. He may not act like a diva but his ego is obviously similar to a diva. Personally, I think it’s selfish to sign a contract of that magnitude but that’s a story for another day.

Related: Who is Peyton Manning?

No one forced the Arizona Cardinals to pay Fitzgerald that much. Either way, they should have backed out instead. His contract could have been someone else’s problem next year. That money should have been spent better.

A great receiver can push a good team over the edge. A great receiver cannot make a bad team a good team. What do we think of Steve Smith’s $10.9 million per year contract with the Carolina Panthers?

Heck, that’s nothing.

Sure, Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise but that shouldn’t get in the way of running a business. Not to this degree. The last thing any organization needs is tying up a ridiculous amount of money in a person that doesn’t take every snap.

Alone, Larry Fitzgerald cannot turn his Arizona Cardinals into a winner. I mean, he is only a wide receiver.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Who is Peyton Manning?

Showing us exactly what he is made of has always been a problem for Peyton Manning. He has danced around the thin line between choker and winner throughout his career. Unlike Joe Namath, John Elway and Joe Montana, we haven’t figured out what type of man Peyton Manning is.

Maybe this time, he can help us out a little.

In the coming days, the man who some have already dubbed the greatest quarterback of all-time could be made the highest paid quarterback of all-time. Only one problem, the salary cap. To take a contract upwards of $25 million would no doubt be a hindrance to his team. He would be a dictator squandering unnecessary money all while the masses suffer.

Without a great leader a country nor a team cannot become great. Without a sufficient group of followers a country nor a team cannot become great.

If Peyton Manning decides to become the highest paid player in the National Football League he will do so out of needless selfishness. Under the new $120 million cap, a team can’t allocate 1/6th of their budget to a single player and still expect to win.

Football is a team game and without adequate depth it won’t matter who you have under center.

Right now, Peyton Manning has the opportunity to be the embodiment of a team player. He can take a bullet to the leg. Really, it’s just a slap in the face.

Owner Jim Irsay probably regrets saying that he would make Peyton Manning the highest paid player in the NFL during the uncapped year of 2010. To his credit, he hasn’t backed off. Irsay stated “He is going to be the highest paid player and he is going to make more than Brady.”

Nevertheless, Peyton Manning doesn’t have to give into the sweet sirens song. The glory of being the highest paid player shouldn’t be more important than the glory of being a Super Bowl champion again.

$5 million to guys like Peyton Manning is chump change. It goes without saying that he doesn’t need the money but I’ll say it anyways. Combining endorsements and salary, Manning made a total $38,700,000 million last year alone making him the fourth highest earning American athlete of 2011.

Jim Irsay has also said recently that “To me, this isn’t about how much money I have to spend, because the money is going to be spent.”

To me, this money doesn’t have to be spent. Peyton Manning can put a stop to it. Receiving a bigger signing bonus will give more cap room for the Colts to work but imagine the flexibility a smaller contract would allow.

Telling management that he is willing to sign a contract more in line with Brady’s 4 year $72 million extension would be virtually a no-lose situation for Peyton. His reputation as a person would sky-rocket, his team would be better off and it would put himself in a better position to cement his legacy as one of the true greats.

It’s times like these where we see who a person is deep down. Albert Pujols has portrayed himself in the media as the perfect athlete who does more than his part for not only his team but his community as well. I find that hard to believe when $250 million isn’t quite good enough.

A great leader is supposed to put his people in front of himself. However, here we are discussing the heroics of slashing a few million bucks a year off of what could potentially be a contract worth $100 million. Hardly a sacrifice if you ask me.

Peyton Manning doesn’t even have to be thinking about the others. His motivations could be completely selfish and he can still come out smelling like roses. Selfishly, he could choose to put legacy over money. Selfishly, he can decide if he wants to be considered one of the best or THE best.

What kind of selfish does Peyton want to be?

This time around, it isn’t what Peyton Manning is doing on the field that will determine how the world sees him. This could be a career defining moment for him. One decision will show us what we need to know.

What kind of man is Peyton Manning?

Money lasts a lifetime. A legacy is forever.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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