Rings Don’t Mean a Thing

What if Ben Roethlisberger had done that again this year?

2 rings. Coulda been 3 Big Ben.

1 touchdown away from Super Bowl immortality. A perfect execution of the 2 minute drill the only obstacle in his way. Alas, it was not meant to be.

As good a quarterback as Ben Roethlisberger is, his performance in the Super Bowl showed us why we shouldn’t base so much of a player’s value on championship victories.

Prior to the Super Bowl, there was a lot talk of whether or not Ben Roethlisberger is deserving of a Hall of Fame spot. Tough question considering the man is only 28 years old and at this point there is probably not too much point in dissecting this issue.

Ben Roethlisberger’s overall numbers are not Hall of Fame worthy by any means. However, the fact that he has 2 championship rings and was very close to 3 puts him into that discussion. A couple bounces here and there for the Steelers and the difference in our view of Ben Roethlisberger is vastly changed.

The issue at hand here though are the championships that allow Ben Roethlisberger to be considered in Hall of Fame discussion so early in his career and the lack of championships that see us questioning the greatness of athletes such as Dan Marino.

Clutch play under the most pressure packed situations is part of what defines great players. It should go without saying that part of winning championships is the ability to overcome the difficult conditions.

With that being said, it’s hard to understand why the brilliance of an individual player is centered so much around championships in such team oriented sports.

It is only on rare occasions where you will see me defending Lebron James but the fact that he still hasn’t won a championship at this point in his career should not diminish his greatness in any sense. Don’t get me wrong, I was as happy as anyone to see Lebron quit, yes quit, on his Cavaliers against the Boston Celtics. Nevertheless, now that we have been able to see what the Chosen One’s supporting cast is really like it is astounding that he ever got as close as he did to winning the NBA finals.

Imagine if Lebron had decided to stay in Cleveland and continually was surrounded by a sorry excuse for championship contending cast. If those were the circumstances, maybe in 10 years we would be talking about how Lebron just can’t win the big game and all the reasons why he is no Michael Jordan. True, Lebron James is no Michael Jordan, but the importance of championships is constantly overshadowing his undeniable dominance.

If he doesn’t win a championship with his Miami Heat, well that’s a story for another day.

Ben Roethlisberger has played on some outstanding teams and, especially in his first Super Bowl, played more of a game manger’s role. Is there any way in which the Steelers’ could have won if Roethlisberger had to carry an increased load on offence? Probably not. It isn’t mentioned enough either that the Steelers won Roethlisberger’s first Super Bowl largely because of a couple of blown calls that still give official Bill Leavy nightmares

1 ring and the Hall of Fame talk disappears. 3 rings, suddenly Roethlisberger is thrust alongside the Troy Aikman’s and Terry Bradshaw’s.

I may be too young to break down the intricacies of Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphin teams. However, it is well-known that he wasn’t surrounded by talent that for the most part was championship worthy. You can’t blame Dan Marino for being unable to bear the burden of less than adequate teams.

It’s this same injustice that results in more worthy players being left off all-star team’s because their general manager has yet to surround them with talent worthy enough of competing with the best in the game. *Cough* Kevin Love *Cough*

Sure, some of the failure to win comes from the individual player himself, but in team sports like basketball, football and hockey, you can hardly put the sole cause of that inability to win on the most prominent player like many people do.

Peyton Manning has proven to us throughout his career that he often doesn’t have the capability to duplicate his regular season type of performances in the playoffs. Even in his lone Super Bowl victory his stats were less than impressive. Then again, what if Peyton Manning had an offensive line similar to the one Tom Brady has been blessed with throughout his career.

Again, a completely different story to tell your grandchildren.

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. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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What’s the Deal with Reputation?

Troy Polamalu has increased his popularity through his Head and Shoulders commercials

Sometimes a reputation can mean everything in life. It can determine how much you like a person before you meet them. It can be the difference in getting a job between you and that other guy. Oh yeah, reputation can also be the deciding factor in receiving an award.

Not to take anything away from the great Troy Polamalu, but yesterday he undeservingly won the defensive player of the year award. He edged out Clay Matthews, who was thought to be the consensus top defensive player this year, and was even mentioned in MVP talks. Guess not.

It’s obvious, Troy Polamalu won on reputation.

There is no doubt that Polamalu is an outstanding player, possibly the best defensive player in the NFL. Troy Polamalu epitomizes what a game changer should be while his 63 total tackles and 7 interceptions prove that. However, the fact of the matter is that this award is given out based on a single season of play, not on career achievements.

Clay Matthews had a better season hands down. Matthews had 14 sacks, 60 tackles, an interception and gave offensive coordinators fits each and every week with his relentless pressure. Furthermore, Polamalu missed two games during the season, in which his team went 1-1, whereas Matthews missed none. It isn’t Polamalu’s fault that he missed 2 games because of injury. Nevertheless, it does diminish the impact of his season and should have impacted his standing in the race for this award.

The problem is that this isn’t the first time that a player has won based on reputation. This is an occurrence that happens all too often in professional sports. The players who have not “paid their dues” are discounted by voters who favour the sexier, more well-known choice.

Each year, Derek Jeter is given the gold glove despite his declining defensive play, mainly his range or lack thereof. Jeter is often voted by players as the most overrated player in baseball, yet award voters continue to favour him.

Derek Jeter has won the gold glove award on 5 separate occasions

Why? Jeter is the poster boy for not only the New York Yankees but also Major League Baseball. There isn’t a guy with a more stand up reputation than Derek Jeter as he is one of the most renowned sports figures in North America.

Moreover, it is apparent that many voters simply fail to open their eyes to what is going on around them. There are at least 30 teams in 4 major North American sports and deserving players for these lesser, yet still important, awards are overlooked because of ignorance. It is difficult to keep an eye to what is going on around the league, but it by no means is impossible.

It isn’t nearly as common to see more clear-cut awards, such as MVP, go completely in the wrong direction because generally the players in the running for those awards either have already built up a reputation as a great player, which is why they are up for the award, or the player has received so much national exposure because of the fact that he is in the running for the award.

Troy Polamalu may be a great player, but his national coverage as a result of his Head and Shoulders commercials sure hasn’t hurt his reputation and has caused him to be an even greater sensation in the NFL. For your consideration, Troy Polamalu’s jersey is the #1 selling jersey in the NFL.

Former CFLer and current Miami Dolphin Cameron Wake did not even receive a single vote with regards to the defensive player of the year award. However, he was named to Peter King’s all-pro team, finished the season with 14 sacks, the second most tackles for loss, and drew the most holding calls of any player in the league. It’s a shame that he is a virtual unknown around the league compared to guys like Ed Reed, James Harrison, Julius Peppers and of course Troy Polamalu.

It’s much more straightforward for voters to go with the players who have garnered a premiere status in their respective league. Not nearly as much controversy is likely to come about when you go with a guy who is highly respected around the league.

Pavel Datsyuk won his 3rd consecutive Frank J. Selke award last season as the NHL’s best defensive (two-way) forward. He edged out Vancouver Canuck forward Ryan Kesler by 33 total points and 1 first place vote. I may be biased here, as I am a Vancouver fan and am privileged to watch Kesler on a night-to-night basis, but it seems to me that if it was Kesler with the 2 prior Selke trophies he would have taken the award home last year.

This effect of reputation is just another one of those sad facts of life. Has a teacher ever gotten mad at you for talking in class even though it was someone else?

To a smaller extent, even something as simple as all-star games exhibit this fact. Fans vote in their favourites and their choice is largely based on popularity, the cousin of reputation. In recent years, a situations like Allen Iverson, in which he was voted as an Eastern Conference starter last season, takes away a spot from an actual deserving all-star.

It flat out isn’t fair that players are repeatedly rewarded based on things that they have accomplished in the past. It isn’t fair to the fans but most importantly it isn’t fair to the athletes that work their ass off their entire life only to be snubbed (not to say that the recipient of the award hasn’t worked hard either). A player who hasn’t built up that reputation may only have the one season of greatness, but it may not be recognized by the voters whose narrow-minds keep them from acknowledging the truly deserving athletes.

Figure it out.

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. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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Get Rid of ‘Em

Twin brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks were split up for the first time in their lives via the NHL All-Star fantasy draft

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that they have got to scrap the all-star games. No applause necessary for the originality.

On what may possibly be the worst weekend this year in sports, we saw two brutal all-star games in which even the highlights were almost unbearable. I think it would have been more fun playing scrabble on family game night. Seriously, I like scrabble.

The Pro-Bowl is as big a joke as Jose Canseco’s boxing career was. There is no reason for the NFL to play this game. Football is a game that is built off of pure intensity and violence, yet in an all-star game there is no way that guys can play with anywhere near the same passion that they do during the season. No one wants to get hurt in an all-star game and nobody wants to hurt a fellow player in something that is essentially meaningless

Might as well make it a flag football Pro-Bowl if you’re going to keep it around because what is put on display each year sure isn’t NFL level football. I mean, at one point it was 42-0 and the first half wasn’t over.

They should stop torturing the players and the fans that waste their time to watch this spectacle. At least they put the game back in Hawaii this year.

The NHL at least tried to do something this year to spice up their all-star game even if it only ever had the potential increase the hype prior to the game. You don’t see hockey as the lead story too often on major American sports sites as it was on Friday evening.

However, as much hype as the fantasy draft caused, it in no way led to the player’s to work harder during the game. If they could find some way in the NHL, as well as the NBA, to force the player’s to play some defence then maybe these games could actually hold some viewers. Alas, there probably is no realistic method for these leagues’s to follow in order to make these multi-millionaires show some effort for one extra game.

The combined goal total of 21 in the NHL all-star game exceeded the Vegas over/under set at 16.5.

Major League Baseball’s all-star game is not enjoyable because it actually means something in terms of World Series home field advantage. In fact, I think it’s stupid to decide something like that in an all-star game. It may create a little extra buzz each and every year, but in baseball there is never a reason not to try. Its baseball, how can you not put in a full effort?

The 3 other major North American sports don’t have that luxury. Moreover, with all the complaining that surrounds each respective all-star game from fans and analysts alike, it would make more sense to just abandon the game’s altogether.

The most intriguing feature of the NBA and NHL all-star games, which in my humble opinion are the skills competitions, have even lost their allure.

Keep the breaks, keep the status, but lose the game.

Maybe they should just make everyone play baseball for the all-star game.

Also, check out The Everyday Man’s Sports blog for his take on this issue http://theeverydaymanssportsblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/the-comedy-all-stars/

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. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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Emotional Disconnect

Dear Jay,

It’s not your fault.

Chris Ross

Leave it Jay Cutler to pull off the inexcusable, unimaginable, inconceivable blunder to start a new decade of NFL playoff football.

“As a guy how had 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game!” That tweet came from current ESPN analyst and former NFLer Mark Schlereth. Even though the grammar may be a bit off, the sentiment expressed in the tweet is one that represents the feeling of the majority of football fans towards Jay Cutler’s…situation.

People are questioning Jay Cutler’s toughness and rightfully so. I mean, how is it possible for an NFL quarterback to keep himself out of the NFC Championship game? He’s got to be pretty much dying, doesn’t he?

Jay Cutler was walking around without much of a noticeable limp during and after the game, as well as not looking too troubled by the disconcerting situation that his team was in on Sunday. Down 14 points with the 3rd stringer in and he is just going to sit there and watch uncaringly.

Just recently, I wrote a post all about the mistake the Denver Broncos made in trading away Jay Cutler. I feel a bit foolish for saying what I said in hindsight because, among a number of other things, I referred to Cutler as an emerging leader, which he obviously is not. However, I still stand by the general idea of the post because the thought of giving away a franchise quarterback is wrong.

Anyways, I’m not here to question his physical toughness despite the validity of the question because I don’t think there is enough evidence to support it. Cutler, faced a season with a brutal offensive line during the season and was under constant pressure and harassment from opposing defences. However, we did not hear too much as a peep coming from his mouth. He continued to persevere through the issues, the bruising, and the battering. He brought his team to the NFC Championship game for goodness sakes!

Jay Cutler did not stay on the bench against Green Bay because he was afraid of getting hurt or that he couldn’t handle the pain in his knee. He just flat out didn’t want to play.

Once more, I am not questioning his physical toughness, what I am questioning is his mental toughness.

Jay Cutler had an awful half. 6-14, 80 yards passing and 1 interception. With the season on the line and his team’s chances riding on his right arm, Jay Cutler was content to stay on the bench because he didn’t want the burden that the John Elway’s and Michael Jordan’s of the world thrive on. He had an excuse and he was perfectly fine with standing by it because he simply is not comfortable with everyone depending on him.

The worst part about it is Jay Cutler can’t do a damned thing about it.

The great quarterback is the olden day General. He wants to go to battle with his troops and without a second thought would sacrifice himself for the well-being of his men. The mindset that these generals have is something that you can’t acquire, you’re born with it.

Jay Cutler was not born with it. Cutler was born with a skill set that scouts drool over, but not the intangibles that the ordinary Joe Schmuck can relate to. He is not a person that is well liked by his peers as evidenced by the barrage of tweets from Colleagues around the league telling him simply to suck it up.

Brett Favre played on a broken ankle for heaven’s sakes.

He can’t fully comprehend the nature of the position and the responsibilities that come along with it. He doesn’t have the mentality that he can’t let his teammates down because he doesn’t understand how much he actually is letting down not only his teammates but the legion of Chicago Bear fans.

On an emotional level, Cutler doesn’t connect with people, which is why fans and players have not taken to him. He is often dispassionate and often seems to be detached from real human feeling. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but the fact of the matter is that this emotional disconnect is what prevented him from coming back into the game on Sunday.

Once Jay Cutler had found a reason to escape the nightmare of his poor play, he did not feel the obligation that most guys would have felt in the same situation. He just wanted to get outta there and then it was somebody else’s problem.

This was a chance for Jay Cutler to cement himself a legacy that would last for generations. An opportunity of a lifetime that kids dream about. Leading your team to the super bowl on a bum knee is the embodiment of football hero. Nah, Jay Cutler isn’t worried about leaving a legacy, being considered an all-time great or letting down his team. Something is missing between the ears that separates him from the heart of the champions.

Jay Cutler can’t help it. You can ridicule him all you want for his decision to stay on the bench when his team needed him most but it’s useless. You think you don’t understand how Jay Cutler could do what he did? Well, neither does Jay Cutler.

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. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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One Bronco’s Garbage is Another Bear’s Treasure

Jay Cutler has helped make the Chicago Bears relevant again

The Josh McDaniels era may be over but the Jay Cutler one is just beginning.

If there is one move that Josh McDaniels could take back it would probably his decision not to work his problems out with Jay Cutler and ship him out of Denver as fast as possible.

The contrast in situation and the public perception of the pair has shifted dramatically in the last 2 years. Josh McDaniels is now sitting on his couch at home as the immature baby while Jay Cutler is an emerging leader on his way to the NFC Championship game.

Jay Cutler and his undeniable god given abilities has not made the mark on the NFL that many thought he could since he became the starter for the Denver Broncos in 2007. He is known around the NFL as much for his curt, pouty and childish attitude than for anything he has down on the football field.

Just ask Josh McDaniels, who was unconvinced of Cutler’s ability to lead a team. Big mistake.

His brash, my way or the highway approach led to not only the departure of a star quarterback but also his personal demise.

In a way it’s hard to disagree. Honestly, when I see Cutler with his helmet off I can’t help but think of a little kid who is moping because he doesn’t want to eat his vegetables.

However, on Sunday Jay Cutler was saying to us all that hey, I can be big game too. Even if it was against the Seattle Seahawks, the stakes were high and Cutler did not fold under the pressure of the first playoff appearance of his life.

As much as Jay Cutler has struggled in his time with both Denver and Chicago, it looks like he has turned a corner. Mike Martz has helped him find a comfort level that wasn’t apparent at the start of the season. He has dealt with the growing pains of a young offensive line and not coincidentally, now that the O-Line has started to come into its own, so has Cutler.

Josh McDaniels committed what should be considered the cardinal sin when it comes to building an NFL franchise. Getting rid of a potential franchise quarterback.

Mike Singletary was unable to make San Francisco a winner behind Alex Smith

Mike Singletary and Tom Cable have also felt the pain of trying to create a winning environment around a group of less than adequate quarterbacks and have suffered because of it. Obviously, Lovie Smith is reaping in the benefits of having that oh so coveted franchise type quarterback.

Don’t cry all Kyle Orton on me now because I understand that he had a very solid 2010, but the fact of the matter is that he does not hold the potential to reach the level that a guy like, well, Jay Cutler can reach. Tim Tebow, that’s a story for another day.

Cutler may not exhibit those outright personality/leadership qualities that are seemingly a pre-requisite to being a bonafide franchise quarterback. Statements such as telling the media that you have a stronger arm than Bronco legend John Elway is not the best way to win the respect of fans and teammates in Denver.

Nevertheless, those physical gifts that no one can take away from Cutler make him such a prized possession. It’s why the Bears were willing to give up so much to get the guy. For goodness sakes, he throws off his back foot harder than a lot quarterbacks do when their feet are set.

Talents parallel to Jay Cutler’s do not come around every day.

Watching the manner in which Cutler is conducting himself these days and the high level that he is playing at must have the Broncos organization seething.

They made a major gaffe in not trying to work things out with Cutler from the get go and who knows where McDaniels, Cutler, the Broncos and Bears would be at this point in time if the two sides had just given it a shot.

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. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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