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Archive for February 2010

For the first time since 1964, the USA women went without a medal in figure skating competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Tara Lipinski, Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen have been holding the American torch for the past three Olympics and we as Americans put all our hopes and dreams of the Olympics on their tiny shoulders. But, there was no American sweetheart at this year’s Olympics, but according to figure skating experts, this drought will not last long. Mirai Nagasu and Rachael Flatt are young and just a little inexperienced. At 16-years-old, Nagasu finished fourth and just out of metal contention which is pretty good given that the scoring system in figure skating has become a lot harsher and harder for the younger athletes to adjust too.

The future for the American figure skaters is bright. They are young and they have four years to make an impression on the world. I see gold in Russia for Nagasu or Flatt but there is also others that could come up from the ranks. What also hurt the skaters this year was the fact that the United States decided to send only two skaters instead of the standard three. This is very rare but after a poor performance at US Nationals, it is not surprising that the US Olympic committee decided not to embarrass themselves hugely on the National stage by sending someone who clearly would not be ready.

One thing that i was glad to see at this year’s Olympics is the fact that not all the focus was on one sport or one athlete. We all realize that the Winter Olympics are not popular so usually the media likes to focus on one thing going into the events which usually is figure skating. Figure skating is a beautiful sport, but I also find it extremely boring. I was happy to not be hearing about a tiny little petite girl for weeks on end before and after the Olympics. Canada was a great host country and I felt as though this was the first Olympics where there was no major drama. Yes, the Georgian luger died, but there were no drug busts and not that many sore loser athletes. I was happy to see a fun Olympics without a star and just full of fun.

American Evan Lysacek poses with his gold medal while silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko hangs his head in disappointment.

Russian Champion and silver medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Evgeni Plushenko created a controversy this past week when he made rude comments towards USA gold Medalist Evan Lysacek and recently claimed on his website that he won the platinum medal at the Vancouver games.

First and foremost, Plushenko could not keep his mouth shut Thursday night after losing to American Evan Lysacek. Plushenko was the only was to land a quad in competition while Lysacek did not even attempt one which means that Lysacek is the first gold medalist since 1988 to win without landing a quad. This did not sit well with the grumpy Russian. Plushenko said, “An Olympic champion who doesn’t know how to jump a quad, well I don’t know…. it’s not men’s figure skating. It’s dancing.” Well, in the words of Stephanie Tanner, “How Rude!” This type of behavior is completely out of line especially for a professional athlete. Plushenko was just rewarded with a silver medal and he already has a gold which most people in this world do not even get a chance to even try and achieve. He should have congratulated Lysacek and moved on. Lysacek took the high road and said he was disappointed hearing such comments from a role model but then congratulated Plushenko on winning his third Olympic medal. Thank you for being a gracious winner.

Plushenko was not the only one to chime in on his lack of winning the gold medal. Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin sent Plushenko a telegram saying that his silver was worth gold and he also said “You were able to overcome all the obstacles in your brave comeback and performed the most accomplished program on the Vancouver ice.” Good job Putin. Way to take a backwards stab at the Americans and the judging at the Olympics.

The front page of Evgeni Plushenko's website.

As you can clearly see, Plushenko shows a picture of all three medals he has won in the Olympics. He calls the first the Silver of Salt Lake, the second the Gold of Torino and the last the Platinum of Vancouver. Last time I checked, there is no platinum and you can’t change your medal or award yourself a new one. The Russian’s agent claimed that Plushenko had no idea about the mistake and that it was a “stupid thing.” If I was a fan of figure skating, I would say this is the last straw for Plushenko. The second he did not win gold, he has been bashing Lysacek nonstop and not letting him enjoy his moment of winning the gold. Plushenko needs to back off and move on. He has already claimed that he will come back in four years to try and win his gold back, so just do that. Shut up and get on with your life. The medals are never going to change so go back to Russia and practice some more.

In 1980, the U.S. Mens Hockey Team stunned the world and won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid, New York. The win has always been referred to the “Miracle on Ice” with numerous documentaries, books and even a movie starring Kurt Russel being made.

Ryan Miller

This year would mark the 30th anniversary of the triumph, it begs the question, could the miracle happen again? The U.S. has not won a medal since 2002 when they lost to Canada in the finals at Salt Lake and had a horrible showing in 2006 at Turin. Their strength this year though is their youth. They are young and they have a great goalie in Ryan Miller who if both of these aspects combine, they could be lethal to the powerhouses known as Canada and Russia. Here is a look at those powerhouses who in everyone’s minds, are the favorites to win.

Team Canada- The home country is one of the favorites to win this year’s gold medal with a mix of young players and veterans. The strong point of this year’s team is its goal tending and the addition of “The Kid” Sidney Crosby.

Sidney Crosby

The team boasts three of the best goalies in the NHL currently with Marc-Andre Fleury coming off one of his best postseasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins that ultimately led to a Stanley Cup victory. Fleury may be good, but he does not match up to Martin Brodeur who some consider one of the best goalies of all time. Brodeur has already seen the Olympic gold medal podium once before as he led Team Canada in 2002 but one difference this year will be if “The Kid” can step up. Crosby won the Stanley Cup last year with the Penguins and Canada is resting their hopes of a gold medal on his young shoulders. They have lots of strengths this year offensively and defensively but the key to winning the gold will be putting it all together and not letting the team of all-stars get too out of control.

Team Russia-After being shut out of medal contention in 2006, the former Soviet Union is coming back with a vengeance and his name is Alex Ovechkin.

Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin is the star of the NHL and is leading an all-star Russian roster that has so much talent, it is hard to tell if it will be possible for them to lose. The one disadvantage that I see the Russians having is trying to decide who will actually play more minutes. Every player on the Russian roster is one of the stars on their own respective NHL team so it might be hard for some players to put aside the fact that they could potentially not be playing as much as they normally do. With so much strength, it is hard imagining any team matching their power, but it could happen if this team of all-stars does not find any chemistry among themselves.

Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia practices at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

On opening day of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the world was shocked to learn of the death of one of the Lugers was from the country of Georgia. Nodar Kumaritashvili was a fresh faced 21-year-old competeing in his first Olympics who was doing trial runs on that fateful Friday morning when he lost control of his luge and flew off the track at almost 90 miles per hour and slammed into a steel rod. He was attended by paramedics within seconds and air lifted to a hospital, but the damage was too much and he died at the hospital. Although this has been a sad and tragic accident, the events that have followed have been shameful and almost disgusting.

After the accident, Olympic and Luge Federation officials decided to blame Nodar Kumaritashvili instead of the $100 million dollar track. Officials claimed that Nodar Kumaritashvili was late coming out of the next to last turn and did not compensate for it which led to the accident and ultimately his death. The track had been under speculation for the past couple of months because many claimed it was too “technically demanding” and that only the home team, Canada, would have enough practice and experience on it. To help prevent any further accidents and to reduce speed, officials decided to move the start to where the women start, adjust the ice level, put a wall by turn 16 where Kumaritashvili died and also put pads around all of the steel rods. With all of these adjustments, it is safe to say that this track was harmful to the athletes and Kumaritashvili’s death could have been avoided if all of these preventative measures had been put in place beforehand. I think that the officials are completely out of line to blame a young athlete and I am not the only person who thinks so.

Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of the Republic of Georgia, said  “Well, with all due respect … one thing I know for sure, that no sports mistake is supposed to lead to a death.” Saakashvili is completely right. There was no reason to blame Kumaritashvili especially because he is not even alive to defend himself. The young man had run the track almost 15 times before he died and he told his dad he felt very unsafe on the track but like any athlete, was intent on competeing. The protective barriers needed to be there before any athletes started to test on it or practice. The officials were just trying to cover their bases and make sure that other athletes were still going to compete on the track. It is obvious that they were afraid that if the track was blamed, there would be no luge events. Even if this was the case, you should still never try to put blame on an athlete when there should be protective measures in place to keep them safe.

The latest person to put his two cents in about the luger is none other than David Letterman. The late night funny man decided to take a serious turn in his monologue and comment on how the Olympic officials were hypocrites for blaming Kumaritashvili.

“A ‘mistake’? …I just wonder if it had anything to do with those exposed steel girders… Don’t blame the kid, for god’s sake. He had said to his dad. ‘I think something’s a little haywire here; I’m a little bit frightened about the track’…For them to say that he made a mistake, that just stinks … they then repaired the track and covered up the girders and started [the race] from the women’s starting point? … You know what it is? It’s hypocrisy, ladies and gentlemen.”

You let them have it Dave.

With April 22nd approaching fast, it is now time to start analyzing the quarterbacks. In past years, the quarterbacks have been the most watched in the draft but this year, the quarterbacks are the weaker part of the draft. The main prospects this year come from very strong programs, but the main concern about all of them is that they have little to no future of becoming a franchise quarterback. Here is a look at who I think has somewhat of a chance of making it and whose stock just keeps falling.

Sam Bradford was the star that was going to lead Oklahoma to a National Championships until a shoulder injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. He was projected to be the number one pick in the 2009 draft, but his want for a National Championship kept him in Oklahoma. After his season ended against Texas, Bradford underwent surgery is has been recovering and getting back into shape. He has the arm to make any NFL team happy, but can he make it in the NFL if he doesn’t have a strong offensive line? There is not much to say about Bradford yet. He is a strong contender but nothing can be said until we see how his shoulder has recovered.

Jimmy Clausen is the most unpredictable this year when it comes to quarterbacks in the draft. The junior from Notre Dame declared early after his coach, Charlie Weis, was fired. Clausen claimed that his main reason for attending Notre Dame was to learn from one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. Although his career has been very up and down from the start, he is the quarterback that most NFL teams are wanting. According to analysts, he is the quarterback most ready to lead a team and become the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and be that next franchise quarterback. They claim he doesn’t need a lot of work to make an impact instantly, but I personally think he will not make it. Clausen is very undersized and I don’t believe that he has what it takes to make it far in the NFL. He has cocky attitude, but he doesn’t have enough talent to make it very far.

The last quarterback that has made many analysts flip flop back and forth is Tim Tebow.  The senior from Florida has led his team to two National Championships and was the first player to win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. He has been leading a high profile program for the past four years, but most analysts are saying that he is not going to make it in the NFL. He has been a force in college football, but that is not enough for the NFL scouts. He ran a super slow offense at Florida and his skills are lack luster for the NFL scouts. He really does not have a place in the NFL because it is unlikely that he will make that big of an impact as a quarterback. What Tebow really needs to do is transition to tight end. He has the size and the speed to make a better impact as a tight end. Tebow will find more success and longevity in the NFL as a tight end, not a quarterback.

With the Super Bowl over and New Orleans rejoicing, it is now time to turn our focus to the future stars of the NFL and the 2010 NFL Draft. The top 10 has usually focused on the big offensive threats such as quarterbacks and running backs, but this year, all of the top picks will mainly be on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska

The top projected pick in this years draft looks to be defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska who will most likely end up at St. Louis. Although this is a smart pick defensively, it does not make the people of St. Louis very happy. The fans are not very happy that the team has focused on defense three of the past four years with thre results less than pleasing. One fan wrote into a St. Louis newspaper and made the comment that the Saints depended too much on Marc Bulger and passed on franchise quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez that could have been a big boost for the city and the team. All I have to say is that the Rams would be missing out on one of the best defensive tackles to come along in a long time by passing up on him in the draft. Ndamukong Suh has the potential to be explosive and consistent and a player that the Rams could make a franchise player and build a strong defense around. Suh may not be that one in a million quarterback the fans are looking for, but there are not many options for quarterbacks this year that can be the savior they are hoping for.

The Sooner's Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy

The second potential pick in the draft is Gerald McCoy. McCoy is another defensive tackle who is from Oklahoma. McCoy led the Sooners this year with six sacks and 32 total tackles. Oklahoma was to be a bright star in this years BCS race, but an injury to Sam Bradford early in the season put Oklahoma on many people’s back radars which in turn left many players struggling for NFL attention. This was not the case for McCoy who has excelled his past three years at Oklahoma and will be looking to make a strong start in the NFL. McCoy is thought to be undersized which can be an issue for most teams but what is a redeeming quality in him is his quickness. His main goal once he gets to the NFL should be to first put on more weight and to secondly maintain that quickness. Although the Detroit Lions have the second pick this year, McCoy might not be staying in the birthplace of Motown very long. His size is thought to be a strength of Tampa Bay who may trade some picks to acquire McCoy.

That is just a preview of what is to come with the 2010 NFL Draft. Look for more entries soon about why offense is not a key this year and why only one quarterback may be taken in the first round. What happened to Jimmy Clausen?

If any of you have recently heard, there could be a lockout by the NFL Players Association prior to the start of the 2011 NFL season. Personally, I think this would be an extreme travesty because football is huge part of my Sundays and what would Sundays be without some sitting around all day just enjoying some football while hanging out with family and friends.

NFL comissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith

The players association and the NFL owners are currently trying to settle a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that expires after the 2010 season. The NFLPA director, DeMaurice Smith, was asked on a scale of 1 to10 to rate the chance of the lockout happening and he said “14.” We are doomed. Goodell and the NFL are arguing that the league will not make money if it is shut down, but Smith and the association will be arguing that even though no games will be playing, the league will still be making $5 billion. No matter what the dilemma is, we as the fans have to start thinking of new pastimes that we can partake in or watch if this lockout does occur.

  • We can pool all of our money together and bring back the Arena Football League. Now, it is not true “American football,” but they will at least be using the good old pigskin for something. The field may be smaller, but the intensity is just as high as the NFL. Americans love violence and seeing big hits. AFL will do until we get bored from the extremely way too high scoring games
  • Its time for the United State Football League to make a come back. Lets all call up Donald Trump and convince him that yes, he was right, the NFL is a monopoly. We admit they would eventually have a downfall and we will welcome you back to recreate your precious USFL. I know he wants to not be remembered for some failures, so this is one he can redo. Just don’t try and convince anyone that this league could actually compete with the NFL.
  • Soccer. It’s an international hit. We all know David Beckham as Mr. Posh Spice, but did you know that he is actually a very talented footballer? This sport has not caught much attention because of major American sports like football, baseball and basketball but with one of the three out of the way, it makes the door wide open for the sport. We can start becoming like the rest of the world and know all of the players on Real Madrid and possibly, Americans could win the world cup? Not likely, but just a thought.
  • Disc Golf. It is the sport of the new millennium. We can use those old football stadiums as Disc Golf fields and create a new trend throughout the world. Maybe, we could even campaign it to become an Olympic sport. Not happening either.

Well, that are some pretty good ideas, but lets be honest, nothing can replace the NFL. We need it every Sunday, August through February, like clock work. Nothing makes our adrenaline rush faster then a tight game with a last second drive in the fourth quarter. What would Sports Center talk about on Mondays? What would we do without our Peyton Manning commercials? I don’t think we can fully be ourselves without our Sunday afternoon football.



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