With the 2009 regular season looming among us, the blogosphere is inundated with countless power rankings, predictions, and preseason analysis articles. I, for one, plan to take a slightly different route.
First things first: Do not judge preseason results. Does anybody not remember that the Lions went 4-0 in the preseason last year? Yet the last time they were in the win column of the Monday morning paper was Dec. 24, 2007.
The four teams that reached the league championships last season went a combined 8-8 in the preseason, only at .500 because the Steelers were 3-1. Again, it's meaningless.
Secondly, while predictions are fun to do and are a great topic for argument, there are so many so called "writers" out there who simply do not know enough about the game to give real predictions. I know, I know—everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
But come on people, if I read one more time about how the Eagles and Bills are going to be Super Bowl contenders because of Michael Vick and Terrell Owens, respectively, I'm going to throw my computer out my window.
So, now to the actual article. Though I will admit I have not scoured the Internet for articles dating too far back this summer, I was still able to find a couple recent quotes that really caught my attention. One of them is actually as recent as today.
For each article, I will rate it as either "big ups" or "shut up," depending on whether or not I think the quoted person(s) deserves credit or a punch in the face.
Hang Low in Dallas
The new mammoth stadium gracing the cover of sports magazines nationwide is estimated to have cost around $1.15 billion. Who paid for most of it? None other than the boss-hog himself, Jerry Jones.
However, during a preseason matchup last week between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills, punters A.J. Trapasso and Craig Hentrich presented the Cowboys' owner with a potential problem—punts were ricocheting off the world's largest high-definition video screen.
This story hit the headlines because many people around sports nation thought Jones would have to order the video screen to be moved as soon as possible to avoid any further incidents. Jones, however, replied:
"That's not the point. How high is high if somebody just wants to sit there and kick straight up? If you look at how you punt the football, unless you're trying to hit the scoreboard, you punt the ball to get down field. You certainly want to get some hangtime, but you punt the ball to get down field, and you sure don't punt the ball down the middle. You punt it off to the side.
"You don't need to move it. You gotta be trying to do it. The rule is very clear. You just kick it over."
Amen, Jerry. Look, I understand that punters have a legitimate gripe about this screen hanging so low, but let's be honest: how many punts go right down the center of the field these days? And how many punts kicked between the 30-yard lines are punted straight up?
That's basically what you'd have to do in order to hit the darn thing. Jones is right; almost all punts these days are angled, both height-wise and toward the sidelines, thanks to the likes of Dante Hall and Devin Hester.
Seriously, what's the difference between a kicker having to adjust his kicks because of wind currents (due to variations in stadium construction, as well), and a punter having to change the trajectory of his punts because of a video screen? If you ask me, there isn't much of a difference.
Besides, the screen is still five feet above the league's required equipment height. If you want to be mad at somebody, be mad at the league. No, better yet, be mad at the punters for not adjusting their game.
Ruling: big ups (no pun intended).
Another Rookie Holdout
Yes, that's right, another rookie decided to hold out of camp this season due to a monetary indifference with the organization they were just selected by. Although this really isn't anything new, it drives me absolutely nuts to hear about this sort of thing all the time. What could possibly drive me even more nuts? Reading about it from a lineman.
With the sixth overall selection in this summer's NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected offensive lineman Andre Smith from Alabama. I don't know if Nick Saban got into his head a bit early, but this kid's ego is already bigger than his gut.
Smith did not sign with the Bengals until this afternoon, citing contract issues with the club because he wanted more money than the guy picked after him, Darrius Heyward-Bey. There's just one problem with that, Andre: he's a wide receiver and you're an offensive lineman.
Cry about equal rights and all of that other crap if you want, but the reality is the money goes to skill-position players. I mean, you don't see many uber-rich second basemen or catchers in the MLB, especially not any rookies. What makes you so special?
Okay, all ranting aside, here's what made me crack up (yes, I'm having to try so hard to keep this clean). In an interview after his first practice today, Smith said:
"It was difficult just sitting there waiting. I'm eager to get back to football," Smith said after practice. "I don't feel like I'm that far behind."
That's cute. Did your agent tell you to smile at the camera while reading those note cards he prepared for you? Be real, Andre. If you wanted to get on the field so bad, you wouldn't have acted like such a jackass in the first place.
There aren't too many things that make me more angry than when I hear an athlete talk about how much they love the game after or in the midst of a holdout because they want more money.
Sometimes holdouts are acceptable, but never in the case of a rookie who has proved nothing yet. Yes, that means you too, Michael Crabtree.
Ruling: Shut up.
It's quite simple, actually: Stop whining about the Cowboys' video board because you're jealous and stop acting like you've earned something when you haven't even played a single down in the NFL. What would your 10 year-old self think of you? Better yet, what would your momma say if she heard you whining like that at such a young age?
You guys are role models for these young kids, and believe it or not, stupid things like this rub off on them. Act your age and set a better example, fellas.