Mock Euro 2016 Draw

Euro 2016

Believe it or not, (just believe it because it’s true) Euro 2016 is a mere 6 months away. The 24 teams that are headed to France in June have been determined. All that remains is the draw which will happen on Saturday.  Continue reading

Posted in Soccer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Rules Part 9

New Rules Photo

As per usual in the sports world, there is upheaval, drama, shenanigans, tom-foolery and other assorted scandals that plague the games we watch. Yet we still love sports. That will never change. But some of the rules of sports can and should be changed. So once again, with props to Bill Maher, it is the return of NEW RULES!

New Rule:

Big Sean

I’ve mentioned this one before but it bears repeating. Stop with the halftime shows at football games. On Thanksgiving, (US Thanksgiving. I’m Canadian for all you foreign readers.) Big Sean performed at halftime of the Eagles/Lions game. (Give Big Sean credit. At least he showed up, unlike the Eagles.)

Later in Dallas, (excuse me Arlington) Blake Shelton did some twangy “music” numbers during halftime of the Panthers/Cowboys tilt.

At the Grey Cup on Sunday, organizers decided to bring out Fall Out Boy to perform before a shivering throng in Winnipeg, as they hoped to revitalize their “careers.”

The question is why? Why do we need musical numbers at sporting events? Does a football game breakout at the Grammys? (I’d actually watch the Grammys if that happened. Especially if Dr Dre delivered a head shot to Justin Bieber.) Just stop the madness and play the game.

New Rule:

Ed Hochuli

Either the NFL needs to make their rulebook easier to understand or admit their games are fixed. Does anyone know what constitutes as a catch anymore? Does anyone know what pass interference is? Or when a player is out-of-bounds? NFL officials don’t know most of the time and it isn’t their fault.

The NFL in its infinite wisdom has decided to make their rulebook more difficult to understand than Nietzsche’s theories on metaphysics. Remember, no sport sees more action on the betting line in Las Vegas than football. Plus the NFL is run by Roger Goodell and he’s shadier than Tony Soprano. You just got to wonder sometimes.

New Rule:

CFL Officials

The CFL has its own problems with officiating. Either they fix it or admit they’re minor league football. Have you tried watching a CFL game lately? It’s been excruciating. (The Eastern Final between Hamilton and Ottawa was an exception.)

Games have been filled with poor execution from the players and most glaringly, the officials. Whether it is calling penalties on almost every play to not knowing what can or cannot be challenged, the officials have made a major impact on the results of the game far too often.

Unlike the NFL, I don’t think CFL games are fixed largely due to the fact that Las Vegas doesn’t care about CFL games. This is a case of incompetence from the league office and the on-field officials. If the officiating doesn’t change, the league is putting its reputation at risk. That’s not a good thing.

New Rule:

Bigger Net

Can so-called hockey “traditionalists” please shut up? Why is it every time an idea to change the game for the better is met with derision and scorn from people who insist the old way is the better way?

This time, it is bigger nets in order to increase scoring. While there are legitimate arguments to be made against bigger nets, their needs to be discussions on how the NHL can increase goal-scoring, which means all arguments need to be heard. No idea should be dismissed.

Remember, these are the same stodgy fuddy-duddies that were against getting rid of the red line and probably want to bring back bench clearing brawls. (We’re looking at you, Ed Snider.) Get over yourselves. This isn’t 1945 anymore. Heck it is isn’t 1975 anymore. It even isn’t 1995 anymore. Get your bloated head out of the past and into the 21st century.

New Rule:

PJ Stock

Rogers Sportsnet desperately needs new hockey announcers. If you employ PJ Stock and Glen Healy as talking heads on your network, you don’t have hockey experts. You have clowns that are in need to get run over by a steamroller. The amount of tripe that is spewed by these two “rocket scientists” actually causes brain damage to intelligent viewers. Make them go away. For the sake of humanity.

New Rule:

Jamie Vardy

Can we please stop calling the English Premier League the best soccer league on the planet? Because it isn’t. Not that there isn’t quality in the EPL. Leicester City are an absolute joy to watch and Liverpool do have the hippest, coolest manager in the world. (Serious man crush on Jurgen Klopp here.)

But the Bundesliga and La Liga have moved ahead of the EPL in terms of overall quality. No English team is winning the Champions League this year. (Barcelona or Bayern Munich will.) In fact, the EPL may lose an automatic spot in next year’s Group Stage to Serie A. Heck, Newcastle United and Aston Villa are so bad, they couldn’t beat an MLS team at this rate. Yeesh!

New Rule:

Stephen Curry 2

The Golden State Warriors need to stay unbeaten for a long time. They are the most exciting team in sports right now and they play the game the right way. You don’t hear controversy or bad behaviour coming from this group. They’re a refreshing reminder of what sports should be about. There’s a lot of negativity in the sports world. The Warriors are a bright light. Let them shine for a long time.

And finally…

New Rule:

John Oliver for president of FIFA. The rant explains why.

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973

Posted in Sports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RIP Ken Stabler

I’m not so sure Ken Stabler would survive today’s NFL. Not because he wasn’t a good enough quarterback. It’s because today’s NFL doesn’t like individualists and free spirits than personified what Ken Stabler was. It is why I have so much respect for him and I was saddened to learn of his passing at the age of 69 due to colon cancer.

Stabler finger

Stabler did things his own way and didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought. He was outrageous, courageous and a swashbuckler. You want proof? Here’s a link to a story published by Deadspin about the time Stabler allegedly planted cocaine on the car of Sacramento Bee writer Bob Padecky. It was well documented the two of them didn’t get along very well but can you imagine this happening today? ESPN would have crucified Stabler with blowhards Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith begging the NFL to suspend Stabler for life. But in the 1970s? Meh.

Stabler was known to enjoy the company of the opposite sex. Legend has it that Suite 147 at the El Rancho Tropicana Hotel in Santa Rosa, California (near Oakland) is where Stabler took many of his conquests. All of them according to lore were more than willing. He didn’t ask them to wait on him hand over foot either. His classic quote on his ideal woman was, “As far as cooking goes, the only time I expect a seven-course dinner is when I hand a girl seven cans and an opener.”

Stabler lady friend

 

Stabler prepared for the next game a tad differently than say, Peyton Manning. While Manning studied film for hours on end at the team’s headquarters, Stabler would go to Gene Upshaw’s bar in Oakland and study the playbook by the jukebox light with a beer or three in hand. He would often show up on the day of the game completely hungover from the previous night’s festivities, but he played like hell on Sunday.

Yes, despite all of his extra-curricular activities that would have made Hugh Hefner proud, Stabler was an excellent quarterback for the Raiders. After a stellar college career at the University of Alabama, Stabler came to Oakland as the understudy to Daryle Lamonica. After three seasons of waiting, legendary Raider coach John Madden finally gave Stabler the keys to the offense.

All Stabler did was lead the NFL in pass completion percentage twice (1973, 1976), passing TDs twice (1974, 1976), game winning drives three times (1973, 1974, 1976), four pro bowls (1973, 1974, 1976, 1977), and was a first team All-Pro in 1974.

You want impact in big games? Stabler had that too. There was the infamous “Sea of Hands” game against Miami in 1974 in which he somehow found Clarence Davis in the end zone through a maze of Dolphin defenders as the Raiders ended Miami’s two-year reign as Super Bowl Champions.

There was the playoff game against New England in 1976 in which Stabler ran a bootleg into the end with mere seconds on the clock, giving the Raiders a 24-21 victory, avenging their only loss that season and propelling Oakland to their first Super Bowl title.

A year later, the Raiders and Baltimore Colts were engaged in a classic battle that required double overtime. It was Stabler who provided the decisive blow, finding tight end Dave Casper in the “Ghost to the Post” as the Raiders emerged victorious.

Stabler’s time in Oakland came to an end after the 1979 season, following a dispute with Raider owner Al Davis. Stabler was subsequently traded to the Houston Oilers where he was thought to be the final piece to their championship puzzle. Sadly for Stabler and the Oilers, things didn’t work out as planned. Despite having the powerful Earl Campbell at running back, the Oilers never made their Super Bowl dreams come true as the Raiders of all teams, knocked out Houston in the AFC Wildcard game.

Stabler walks off

 

Stabler played one more year in Houston before being shipped to New Orleans where he never found his game again. Stabler retired following the 1984 season.

Despite his lack of success in Houston and New Orleans, Stabler should be in the NFL Hall of Fame. He was an integral part of some outstanding Raider teams in the 1970s that terrified opponents. Heck, Stabler was perhaps the only quarterback that actually put some fear in the Pittsburgh Steelers legendary Steel Curtain defense.

Why isn’t he in Canton? Is it because the team surrounding him was very good (which they were) and that diminished his accomplishments? Is it because he played for the Raiders, the so-called villains of the NFL for their outlaw persona at the time? Is it because of his lifestyle that is somewhat frowned upon by the uppity types that decide who enters the Hall? Is it because his inglorious end in Houston and New Orleans looks bad in the voters eyes? Whatever the case may be, the voters should overlook the flaws and put Ken Stabler in the Hall of Fame.

Oh, and how can I forget? Pro wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts used The Snake moniker has an homage to Stabler who was also nicknamed The Snake by his teammates.

RIP Ken Stabler. A true character during a time characters weren’t frowned upon. The NFL could use some colourful personalities today. Stabler was more than that. He will be missed by his three daughters and a legion of fans who loved him.

You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973

Posted in Football | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment