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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Until we meet again...

To my From The Fan readers:

It has become quite obvious to me (and most likely to you) that I am not able to post on this blog on a regular basis. Work, family, and yes, football has began to dominate my time. Unfortunately, I must take a hiatus from blogging until my schedule allows for more posting time. However, I will drop in from time to time with my two cents when the opportunity presents itself. When I am able to do so, I hope you'll be interested in reading more from me. Thanks for all of your support and comments over the past few months and keep watching every down of football that you can!

Until we meet again,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Season Opener

The 2009 NFL Season kicked off with a defensive thriller at Heinz field between the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennesse Titans. The Titans had the best regular season record of last year at 13-3. The game aired nationwide on NBC and drew in the best ratings in 7 years for a season opener.

If you were tuning in to the game hoping for an offensive shootout, you were sorely disappointed. The game went scoreless until near the end of the 2nd quarter when Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a 34 yard touchdown. The Titans answered right back with 14 yard pass to wideout Gage to tie the game.

Field goals made the difference in this game. Tennessee Titans kicker Rob Bironas rarely misses a kick, but he only managed to nail 1 out of 3 field goal attempts in this game. One kick sailed wide, while the other was blocked. On that play, Steeler strong safety Troy Polamalu suffered a sprained knee that sent him to the locker room for the evening. It was a severe blow to the Steeler defense since Polamalu was playing like a man possessed and had already intercepted Titans quarterback Kerry Collins once in the game. Polamalu will be out of play for 3-6 weeks.

At the end of regulation, the Steelers had a viable drive for a game winning field goal. However, wide receiver Hines Ward fumbled the ball at the Titans 4 yard line to put the game into overtime. In the extra period, Roethlisberger drove the Steelers downfield to put them right back into field goal range by hitting his receivers (Ward, included) down field. Steeler kicker Jeff Reed hit the 33 yard field goal to put the Steelers 1-0 for the season. The Titans start off the year 0-1.

photo credit: (AP/Photo Keith Srakocic)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'Twas the night before the start of the season

Never fear From the fan readers, I am still here. Life gets busy at times, but make no mistake... NFL football is still in the forefront of my mind. I have my fantasy teams ready to go, I have beer in the fridge, and I am giddy like a 5 year-old on Christmas Eve. In the spirit of that giddiness, I have prepared a Season Eve poem for all of you NFL fans out there. If anyone can appreciate this, you can.

'Twas the night before the start of the season

'Twas the night before the start of the season, and all through the league
the players were fighting off training camp fatigue.
The socks were all hung in the lockers with care
in hopes that tough actin' Tinactin soon would be there.

The cheerleaders went home to practice their moves,
and the rookies all knew they had something to prove
The Manning boys in their commercials and I in my chair
had just settled in for a long season's air.

Soon out on that lawn will arise such a hit
that the fans and players will yell out "oh s**t!"
away to the television fans fly like a flash
to see if Vick is back or will he fade away like Slash

Favre is back as a Viking and Cutler a Bear
Madden is gone and Michael Crabtree is where?
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But Chad Ochocinco scoring TDs up in here!

Fantasy running backs abound, so lively and quick
and breaking down games on the Network is coach Billick.
Not just Ravens, but Eagles and Cardinals games
and coach Mariucci is doing the same.

Now Dawkins, now Willis, now Ray Lew, and Dixon
will bring on the pain when they all come a blitzin'
to the QB one! to the ground he must fall!
Now sack away! Sack away! Sack away all!

And then, in a twinkling I heard to a beat
the running and rushing of each little cleat
the cheering and roaring of each home crowd
as we sit back, grab a beer, and turn it up loud!

We're all dressed in our gear and we've painted our faces
We've put on our jerseys and tied up our laces.
A ticket, a package, some witness to bear
that T.O. is a Bengal and he's willing to share!

My eyes how they'll twinkle when it is time for the game
The Saints are lookin' for more of the same
Drew Brees and his team look to win one at home
on their journey to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

Then on Sunday, they will all play. Some go 0-1,
some go 1-0 and play one-on-one
or play man-to-man or drop back in zone
But no one, I promise you, will play the game alone

Not Boldin, nor Marshall, Revis, or Moss
can solely accomplish a win or a loss
Well actually, maybe Tom Brady can
after all, he is the Stetson man.

The season is finally here, we've waited so long
but it's always too short, it soon will be gone
But tonight is before the very beginning
and I for one can't seem to stop grinning.

It's the eve of the season, NFL football is here!
It's the time Baseball sponsors have all come to fear.
From The Fan wishes you all a season of great fun!
Happy Season to all! And to all a great run!

photo credit: (AP/Photo Sean Gardner)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Burress pleads guilty, will serve prison time

Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty to attempted criminal weapons charges on Thursday. He agreed to a plea deal that carries a sentence of two years in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Last November, Burress and former teammate Antonio Pierce were in a crowded night club when a gun slipped from Burress' waistband and fired a shot into his right thigh. No one else was injured in the incident.

Burress was not licensed to carry a firearm in the state of New York or in New Jersey, where he resides. He did have a license to carry a gun in the state of Florida, but that permit expired in May of 2008. Burress' official plea was made in the Manhattan State Supreme court to a charge of one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He was indicted earlier this month by a Grand Jury on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment. Those charges carried a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years.

The 31 year-old wide receiver was released in April by the New York Giants. It has been quite a turn of events for Burress who caught the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII. That touchdown catch gave the Giants one of the biggest upsets in sports history as they beat the New England Patriots who were the first team to win every game in a 16 game regular season.

With time off for good behavior, Burress could be released after serving 20 months. His sentencing date is set for September 22.

photo credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favre returns... again

Reporting on Brett Favre's retirement from football has become a bit frustrating. One minute I'm certain he's coming back to play for the Minnesota Vikings and serve cold revenge to the Packers. The next minute, I'm certain he is retired and just 5 short years away from Hall of Famer status with a bust in Canton. Even though I predicted his return in my June 23rd post "Top 10 Bold Predictions for the 2009 Season", I must say it caught me off guard to hear of Favre's decision to return to football. Nevertheless, Brett Favre was officially introduced as the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings last night and Packers fans everywhere must have shed a collective tear.

Football fans, players, and analysts will have their opinions of Favre's decision. Packers fans will either loathe him (if he is successful with the Vikings) or mock him (if he fails). Many will be skeptical of his body and his heart; particularly with him constantly changing his mind about his retirement. What does Favre think of the criticism? "Don't watch, you know?" stated Favre in his introduction press conference, "My legacy, it's mine. It's what I think of it".

It can't be lost on Favre, the agony and betrayal Packers fans will feel with his return to football. This isn't like last season when he played for the Jets. The Jets were out of conference and never faced the Packers. Green Bay fans also had satisfaction in the fact that Favre and his team missed the playoffs last season and Favre himself appeared to lose steam as the season wore on. I'm sure those fans hoped the Jets stint would be the end to Favre's football career. But this move by Favre will directly effect the Packers and their fans. He will play them twice a year; wearing the #4 jersey in purple. The Vikings are the Packers biggest rivalry in the NFC North division and this move by Favre must feel like a knife in the heart of the Cheeseheads.

Make no mistake, this will make for excellent football. Watching Favre hold up that Vikings jersey in the press conference last night gave me chills. I knew that the Packers fans and players had to be watching as well. I knew it had to hurt them to see this dramatic turn of events. But, I also knew that I will be watching Favre this season intently; especially when he plays Green Bay. There are still many questions to be answered. Will his recent surgically repaired shoulder hold up for the soon-to-be 40 year old? Just how bad will the boos be when he walks onto Lambeau Field in that purple jersey? Can he really win another Super Bowl?

Let's just say the 2009 NFL season just became a lot more interesting. Ratings and water cooler talk will hit an all time high when Favre plays his old team. Fans will not have to wait long. He will face the Packers on October 5th and again on November 1st; that's twice before Minnesota's bye week. To even have a chance at a Super Bowl, Favre will have to beat the Packers. The divisional winner automatically makes the playoffs, regardless of their win/loss record. A divisional rivalry just became a high noon showdown, and you had better believe both teams will come out with guns blazing.

photo credit: AP photo/Star Tribune, Jerry Holt

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vick signs with the Eagles

The answer to whether Michael Vick would play in the NFL this season has been answered, along with the question of which team would take a chance on signing him. Vick signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday making him a professional football player once again. The one year contract worth a reported $1.6 million dollars comes with a one year team option worth over $5 million. Michael Vick will be introduced at an Eagles press conference scheduled for today at 11 a.m. EST.

Vick was convicted in 2007 for conspiracy and bankrolling a dog fighting operation. The conviction and details involving the brutal killings of innocent dogs left the public disgusted and mortified. The animal rights group PETA protested against Vick's actions in 2007 and continue to protest today. They wasted no time reminding the public of Vick's actions and their disappointment in the Eagles for signing him.

The NFL players seem to have a different take on Michael Vick and his conviction. Many players feel that Vick has served his prison sentence and should be given a second chance. One of those players is Eagles starting quarterback and the face of the franchise, Donovan McNabb. "I pretty much lobbied to get him here," McNabb stated. "I believe in second chances and what better place to get a second chance than here with this group of guys...".

The signing comes just days before the show "60 Minutes" airs Vick's first interview since serving out his prison term. In the interview, Vick expresses remorse and shame for his actions. CBS Sports' James Brown conducts the interview that will air Sunday night. Although Vick can immediately participate in team practices, meetings, and preseason games, he won't be eligible for game play until week 6. The Eagles face Vick's former team, the Atlanta Falcons, on December 6th.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Steve Helber, File

Monday, August 10, 2009

League Lowdown

Well, the 2009 season is officially underway and the first preseason game aired last night on NBC. I have to admit, I felt giddy watching live football for the first time since the Super Bowl. Since my top 10 Tuesdays ended with the start of preseason, I can now focus on blogging about things that are currently happening in the NFL. I definitely have opinions about last night's game, training camp holdouts, fantasy drafting, and all things football. I don't know about you, but I am thrilled to have NFL football back in the conversation.

Preseason Week 1

The NFL preseason began with the Tennessee Titans vs. the Buffalo Bills in prime time. T.O. definitely left a lasting impression in the one series he participated in for the Bills. He had two catches for 27 yards; 16 yards on the second play from scrimmage. However, Buffalo as a whole looked sluggish and out of sync. The team ran a no-huddle offense that didn't look particularly comfortable. Quarterback Trent Edwards threw a bad pick in the red zone to end the first drive.

As for Tennessee, quarterback Kerry Collins looked as good as he did last season. He had 7 completions out of 10 throws for 82 yards. Backup quarterback Vince Young got in the mix completing 5 passes out of 10 throws and a touchdown. The Titans won the game 21-18.

One disturbing note: Did anyone else catch the orange striped shirts worn by the refs in last night's game. What on earth? I'm all for bringing the game into the 21st century and all, but somethings you just don't mess with. The black and white vertical stripes are synonymous with the role of referee. The orange stripes looked like bad Halloween costumes and they became quite distracting. Here's a time to apply the whole "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule.

Crabby's Crap:

Here's my take on the whole Michael Crabtree holdout from the 49er's training camp. First of all, the guy couldn't perform at the combine or hold a pro day workout for NFL scouts. Nursing a broken foot which required surgery, Crabtree entered the draft with buzz largely created by his college play and reputation for scoring in big games. 9 teams passed on Crabtree, who was widely considered the best wideout in the draft. The 49ers drafted him with the 10th pick and that is what he is worth.

To then demand money worthy of a top 5 pick, is rather ridiculous. But what is even more crazy is Crabtree's cousin (yes, his cousin) stating that the receiver is willing to holdout for the entire season. That move only hurts Crabtree. The 9ers will retain the rights to him up until one week prior to the draft. This will again keep Crabtree from working out for scouts. His diva-like attitude, his inability to control his own P.R., his foot, and a year out of football will definitely drop his value and he'll be lucky to be drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 draft. By the way, the 2010 Draft looks to be rich with wide receivers.

The 49ers hold all the cards here. But, the front office is excited about this receiver. They want to sign him, but at fair market value. The players couldn't care less about Crabtree and his holdout and the 49er fans have already had enough of his drama. Simply put, the man needs to get his butt into camp with the quickness.

No Favre, No Vick:

Well, training camp has started and preseason games are underway. Yet the drama of the "will he play?" in reference to quarterbacks Brett Favre and Michael Vick has seemingly died down. Favre appears to be content in retirement. Not even the thought of coming back and competing against the team who released him after 16 seasons was enough to light a fire under Favre, who is pushing 40 years of age.

Vick was reinstated by the NFL this summer after serving his prison term for crimes relating to dog fighting. The reinstatement comes with at most a 6 game suspension, which the commissioner has the right to waive. So far, no teams have signed Vick. However, according to former head coach Tony Dungy, Vick may sign with a team very soon. Dungy has acted as somewhat of a mentor to the troubled quarterback and it is clear that Vick needs Dungy's support for public backlash to be kept at a minimum. If he is signed soon, Vick could make his return to the NFL in one or both of the last two preseason games.

My Fantasy Draft Results:

This past week I participated in live drafting in fantasy football courtesy of I think it went well and I'm both confident and excited about my two fantasy teams. I was able to snag a few sleepers that were previously mentioned in last week's post. Tight-end Brent Celek, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, and wide receiver Nate Washington all made the cut.

I also grabbed 49er running back Frank Gore for both fantasy teams. You may think that decision was biased because of my love for the 49ers. However, Gore is touted by most analyst as a great pick up for the fantasy owners this season and the news on him out of camp has been stellar. I somehow drafted LaDainian Tomlinson as Gore's backup (what?!) which simply put.... rocks! Tom Brady and Matt Ryan will act as starting QB's on each of my teams. Both solid guys, but I'm hoping Brady returns to his 50 touchdown season form of 2007.

photo credit: AP Photo/David Richard