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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Randall Cunningham loses his 2-year-old son in hot tub

Randall Cunningham
Former NFL Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Randall Cunningham reportedly lost his 2-year-old son in a hot tub accident.

According to the Associated Press, the Las Vegas, Clark County Coroner says that the cause of death of Christian Cunningham was pending investigation.

Christian Cunningham appeared to die from an accidental drowning, but that's not official. The youngest Cunningham was pronounced dead at St. Rose Dominican Hospital Siena campus in Henderson, Nevada.

At the time of the incident, Tuesday, Randall Cunningham was out of town. Christian Cunningham is the youngest of his four children.

Randall Cunningham is an ordained minister and pastor of a church in Las Vegas with his wife Felicity.

Cunningham was one of this spaces favorite quarterbacks, and in 1998 was one missed field goal kick from playing against John Elway and The Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Instead, the Vikings were upset in the 1988 NFC Championship by The Atlanta Falcons.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Albert Haynesworth is right to sit out; Ray Lewis is being a hypocrite

Albert in Wonderland 
Washington Redskins Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth has received a load of criticism for his actions in first asking to be traded, then taking the $22 million in contract money owed to him and failing to attend Redskins mandatory minicamps.

He's painted as one who doesn't love the game, as a quitter, and worse. Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan is slamming him as is the Legendary Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis, who, sadly, is being a hypocrite.

But the person who really deserves the criticism and heat, and isn't getting it at all, is Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan. Moreover, Albert Haynesworth is quite correct that playing in a 3-4 will reduce his ability to be effective; the same skill than landed him a $100 million contract to start with.

Mike Shanahan should know better

All of this controversy would not have started if Mike Shanahan, who I'm personally not sold on as the answer for the Washington Redskins coaching woes, had not insisted on slamming a 3-4 down Albert Haynesworth's mouth. The way Coach Shanahan thinks about the 3-4 is not comforting; the best answer that would meet Albert Haynesworth's concerns is to have both defensive ends over the offensive guards, or at least one engaging in some kind of double-teaming action with Albert. But I've seen no evidence of Shanahan employing such hybrid schemes in the past.

Albert Haynesworth is a 4-3 three-technique tackle. Asking Albert Haynesworth to play the 3-4 as a nose tackle is like asking The Pittsburgh Steeler's "Mean" Joe Greene to do the same for the Steel Curtain Defense of the 1970s. You can bet Greene would have the same reaction.

The 3-4 is harmful to defensive tackles

Simple logic has it that asking one person to rush the passer or defend the run against three people is harmful to that players football life. When the nosetackle isn't double teamed, he (or she in some cases) is tripple teamed, when slide blocking - where the guard "slides" off the nosetackle and blocks the inside linebacker - is used.

So on an off-tackle counter play, we have the guard on the side of the play double teaming with the center on the nose tackle (and the inside linebacker on that side is blocked by the fullback), while the off-playside guard slides off the same nosetackle and blocks the off-side inside linebacker who's movement is slowed by the counter fake from the halfback.

In a 4-3 defense such games are impossible to play. Both offensive guards have to deal with the defensive tackles and the center helps on a double team of the off-side defensive tackle. The resultant hole is one the middle linebacker can plug, take on the fullback, and with the onside defensive tackle stop the play.

Ray Lewis is being a hypocrite

Ray Lewis says he can play well in either a 3-4 or a 4-3, and takes time to slam Albert, according to The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg. Lewis said:

"The response is, whatever you want me to do coach, let's get it done. If you want to switch the defense because you think it'll work better in a 3-4 -- I played in a 4-3 my whole life, but we switched up to a 3-4. 'Ok, Ray, you're gonna have to take on more guards, you're gonna have to do this and that.' Ok, coach, I'll adjust. Do I like it? Hmm, nah. But I'll adjust, so let's do it, you know what I'm saying? And through that process, I won the defensive player of the year in the 4-3 in 2000, and in 2003 I came back and won the defensive player of the year in the 3-4. So it don't matter."

But here's where Ray's not saying what he really thinks. For that, we have to go back to 2005 and S.I.com, when Ray Lewis openly expressed joy over the news that he was going to be featured in then-Ravens Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan's 46 Defense, after playing in Mike Nolan's Ravens 3-4 Defense. In 2005, Lewis said:

"That's like telling your premier running back that you're going to make sure he's not going to be touched in a football game. To come into camp and have my defensive coordinator tell me I’m not going to be touched, I’m like a little kid all over again...It's tough, because you have to humble yourself and take coaching and do whatever they tell you to do," Lewis said. "Whether it takes away from your game or helps it, you just deal with it. That's what I did. It didn't alter how I prepared, it didn't alter my passion for the game. But at the same time, it alters how dominant I can be."

The scheme of defensive did matter to Ray Lewis, even though he says otherwise today. From another perspective, one that your more likely to get inside an African American family home (unless you live in Oakland, CA), Albert Haynesworth does not want to be treated like he's a modern day slave; black barber shop talk would place Ray Lewis in just such a category.

To be fair, Ray Lewis is a worker bee, but even he has to question a social system where the choice of football scheme is generally done without the consultation of the players that are to use it.

In an ideal world, Coach Mike Shanahan would have talked with Albert Haynesworth regarding the type of scheme he wants to play in and the two would have come to a meeting of the minds, but in the NFL, even in the 21st Century, there are coaches who can't resist the urges of their own irrational egos, even at the expense of intelligent thinking.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NCAA USC punishment calls Pete Carroll move to Seahawks to question

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, via a source to ESPN, is set to announce that it is going to strip the University of Southern California or "USC" of the ability to play in a bowl game for two years, a forfeiture of wins at least from the 2004 season and possibility the loss of the 2004 National Championship. All of this after an investigation of activities in football and basketball, and related to former students Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo, was completed.

The death blow to future USC success calls former USC Coach Pete Carroll's move to the NFL to coach the Seattle Seahawks into question, and casts a giant black cloud over all that Carroll did while he was at USC. At first, this blogger believed Carroll's departure was just because a 6 and 6 season and the criticism was too much to stomach...

But in light of the NCAA investigation and its decision to essentially destroy USC Football as we've known it, now it seems that Pete Carroll knew this was coming, even as he told Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show that he "would be surprised" if the NCAA took any action.

Well, Pete Carroll has to express surprise now, but really also has a lot of explaining to do. This level of punishment is too great for Pete Carroll to avoid. He should talk about it, and soon. Indeed, he will have to at some point.

Pete Carroll and Charlie Weis (ESPN)

And one has to wonder what former Notre Dame Head Coach Charlie Weis thinks of this news. Weis famously implied that Pete Carroll gets a pass from the media, and dropped an allegation about Pete Carroll that he later retracted. But it's clear Pete Carroll has not been one of Charlie Weis favorite people because he thinks Weis got special treatment from the media.

Also, how does the NCAA action impact the 2010 Pac-10 race, which was already wide open? Does Cal or Stanford have an open shot at the Pac-10 title? Will the Cal Stanford Big Game finally have real meaning for the first time in years?

Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, June 04, 2010

SF 49ers will remain in Bay Area - Jed York

Jed York
San Francisco 49ers Team President and Owner Jed York was reported as implying that the San Francisco 49ers NFL Football Organization would move to Los Angeles if they did not win approval to build a new stadium in Santa Clara, California this Tuesday, June 8th.

This blogger had the pleasure of meeting Jed York at Former San Francisco City Hall Staffer Hala Hijazi's June Professionals VIP event last night, Thursday, at The San Francisco City Club.

Late for the event, thus missing York's presentation, I made up for it by having an informal conversation with him afterward. It was a great moment, with other event goers who also hailed from York's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio coming up to express their warm wishes. But I had to ask him if he intended to move the San Francisco 49ers to Los Angeles.

"The San Francisco 49ers will remain in the Bay Area," York said. Moreover, York said it directly, clearly, and deliberately. York told me he's open to whatever stadium deal comes up, be it San Francisco, Santa Clara, or the Oakland Coliseum. York said the Raiders are still working on their stadium feasibility study, and he's interested in what that will reveal.

Personally, I like Jed York. In online accounts, York gets a bum-rap, take the comments in this BleacherReport blog post.

The legendary San Francisco Bay Area Columnist Lowell Cohn took to writing a hot column in the San Francisco Sentinel, that includes the term "whiner" in it. To this blogger, York's not at all whining, but perhaps that's because of the way we related to each other.

Because I've seen and been a part of the business side of the NFL, and still maintain a vast set of good relationships around the league, and have an expertise in making simulations of the business of sports organizations, I have a better appreciation for York's point of view. But details aside, York wants the 49ers to remain here.

While York came to Professionals VIP to talk about the Santa Clara Stadium vote on June 8th, the simple fact is he was in San Francisco and in a room full of some of San Francisco's heaviest political hitters; from observation, Jed York has great relationships with all of them.

Does that mean San Francisco still has a chance to salvage the stadium program should the Santa Clara vote go south on York?


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