[Editor's Note: This is the first of a new weekly series by Big MB called I'll Tell You This. MB loves to tell people things, and especially loves using that phrase when doing so, so this is a match made in sports blogging heaven. Have at it MB.]
We are just over one week away from NFL kickoff 2009, less that a week from College Football, and coming down the stretch in Major League Baseball. Here are my top five stories for this week.
1 – LA Dodgers Make Deals to Solidify Playoff Roster
As the waiver deadline approaches the most active team seems to be the L.A. Dodgers, picking up White Sox slugger Jim Thome and Diamondbacks’ hurler Jon Garland. As of today the Dodgers hold a 5.5 game lead on Colorado, who also made a move trading for White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras.
I’ll tell you this: the Dodgers are putting together a team that will compete with the Yankees in the World Series. There is no doubt in my mind that the Dodgers are the team to beat in the National League, save for maybe (and this is painful for a Cub’s fan to admit) the Cardinals.
2 – A Tale of Two Cities: Minnesota and Philadelphia
Brett Favre and Michael Vick have made their comebacks and the inevitable debates have followed.
In Minnesota, talk of team mutiny was rumored, some sources saying that the locker room was split. These rumors were put to bed quickly, but Viking Nation may see it differently. One Vikings fan was found to have a live goat in her trunk painted purple and gold.
Vick has also been met with equivalent praise and disapproval, with Donovan McNabb going on record saying that Vick’s presence and the style of play-calling involving Vick was “a gimmick” and a distraction from their game plan.
I’ll tell you this: Like it or not, the Vikings became a contender when they signed Favre. However, Vick brings quite the distraction both on and off of the field. It will be interesting to see, but if McNabb is already skeptical about Vick’s role, then that can’t be a good sign for the Eagles.
3 – Trouble in Ann Arbor
In what has been a tumultuous summer of violations in College Football, one last situation has raised its ugly head right before the season’s start.
This week some former and current players accused Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff of exceeding the NCAA’s practice guidelines and complained that the staff was over-working student athletes beyond the maximum weekly and daily hours limitations. Rodriguez responded with an emotional press conference, completely denying the allegations by saying that they were “miscommunications” and “just not true.”
I’ll Tell You This: The Wolverines went 3-9 last year in Rodriguez’s first year at the helm. While it would not surprise me that these players were over-worked, I think the bigger issue is that, to save his job, Rodriguez has to find a way to bring Michigan back to being one of the premier teams in the NCAA.
4 – Injuries in the NFL Preseason
With the NFL preseason coming to an end, injuries have already begun to raise their ugly heads at big-time positions for teams.
Patriots QB Tom Brady injured his shoulder when Redskins $100 million man Albert Haynesworth crushed him in the second quarter of their game last week. The master of masking issues, Bill Belichick, down-played the injury saying that Brady would be ready for the regular season.
Brett Favre has said that he has a cracked rib, but played in the Vikings’ preseason game against Houston without any protection. Could it be that Favre is preparing an excuse for what might become a disappointing season?
Finally, all of Kansas City stopped breathing for about 24 hours when offseason acquisition QB Matt Cassel went down hard with a knee injury. At first the prognosis was four to six weeks, seemingly a finishing blow to KC before the season even started; however, now reports are saying that the MCL strain that Cassel suffered was minor and he would return to the lineup possibly sooner rather that later, maybe even for the season opener.
I’ll Tell You This: Nothing can kill a team’s season faster than an unexpected and unnecessary preseason injury. Hopefully all of the above stay healthy so we can watch as many teams battle it out for the playoffs at full strength as possible. A healthy NFL is a more fan-friendly NFL.
5 – The Return of Pacman
Adam “Pacman” Jones has returned to football. But this time it’s not in the NFL. It’s not even with the upstart AFL, which launches next month.
No, Pacman Jones is headed to the Canadian Football League. He has signed “in principal” a one year deal with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
I’ll tell you this: Who cares?
Apparently no-one in the NFL is ok with giving Jones yet another chance to prove that he can’t control his personal life, and honestly, I can’t blame them. Jones is just one of those players with all the talent in the world but no self-control.
And playing professional sports is a luxury. He can’t control his life, he is a thug, and he is not a role model like we want our athletes of today to be.
Good riddance Pacman. Canada, you can have him.
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* – Jose Contreras and Jim Thome photo credit: by Charles Rex Arbogast – AP via South Side Sox