Rice Wins Appeal; Could Be Bad News for Goodell

Ray Rice can play football again but we know it won't be with the Ravens. Will it be anyone for that matter?

In a relatively unsurprising decision, Ray Rice has been reinstated and can be signed by any team. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones heard the appeal and released the decision yesterday. The following are excepts from her statement:

“In this arbitration, the NFL argues that Commissioner Goodell was misled when he disciplined Rice the first time. Because, after careful consideration of all of the evidence, I am not persuaded that Rice lied to, or misled, the NFL at his June interview, I find that the indefinite suspension was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated,” Jones’ decision stated.

“I find that the NFLPA carried its burden of showing that Rice did not mislead the Commissioner at the June 16th meeting, and therefore, that the imposition of a second suspension based on the same incident and the same known facts about the incident, was arbitrary,” Jones also wrote.

“The Commissioner needed to be fair and consistent in his imposition of discipline.”

Jones went on to essentially say that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell abused power and was reckless in his laying of it. This is exactly what the NFLPA has been arguing all along not just in this case but in several other disciplinary situations.

Perhaps the take-down by US District Judge Barbara S. Jones will finally force Goodell to give up some power.

Goodell was brought in as commissioner with great fanfare because he was going to be the guy to “clean up the league.” We can point to some areas where he has but largely we can point to case upon case where his subjective and biased rule has been the norm.

The decision by Jones to reinstate Rice is the correct one. The league office has already accepted it; knowing that it’s binding there isn’t much area for recourse. This won’t end with Jones’ decision however.

What Jones implies in her findings is that someone isn’t telling the truth and that “someone” has to be Goodell and the NFL. Rice and his now-wife Janay have stuck to their story since the beginning and, according to Jones, it has been the NFL, Goodell and potentially the Ravens who have been talking from both sides of their mouths.

For her part, Janay Rice spoke with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and these were her first actual comments to the press. I find Hill getting the story to be odd since she has had a subjective look on athletes and their off-field problems since day one but that’s for another article.

What I took from this interview was that I don’t believe we are getting the truth and that’s fine as long as nothing ever happens again. Mrs. Rice explained what happened in the elevator and the comment about “as soon as Ray looked at his phone he spit at me and slapped me” speaks volumes to me. She claims she doesn’t know what they had been bickering about but remembers the phone coming out.

Nothing makes a woman more upset then when a man starts looking at his phone during an argument.

The other thing she says that concerns me is that “this was the only time he’s ever done this.” I call BS on that and if I’m wrong I’ll gladly eat crow but you just don’t defend someone so quickly who knocks you cold without something similar having happened previously. This is just my opinion but I’ve been on the planet long enough to see how these things work.

My gut feeling is that Rice will not get picked up this season simply because of the sideshow that will follow. I do think he’ll get a shot at training camps next summer but whether he joins a team or not I don’t know. What I do know is that Roger Goodell isn’t out of the woods just yet on this matter.

Your Early NFL Lines Which Are Always Subject to Change

Andy Reid has the Chiefs rolling in the AFC West and now they head to Oakland for a Thursday night game.

Kansas City (-7) at Oakland – The Chiefs find themselves tied with Denver atop the AFC West at 7-3 although a home loss to the Broncos in week two gives Denver the edge. The Raiders are… The Raiders who haven’t won now in a calendar year.

Cleveland (+3) at Atlanta – The Browns laid a serious egg at home in losing to Houston Sunday while the Falcons have suddenly won two-straight and sit atop the NFC South at 4-6. If Brian Hoyer struggles to put points on the board in the first half, sound the Johnny Football alarm.

Tennessee (+10.5) at Philadelphia – This line could move substantially depending upon how the Titans did last night. Mark Sanchez came crashing back to Earth while getting buried in Green Bay Sunday. Look for the Eagles to get back to some normalcy at home.

I'm sure you all saw the performance of Jonas Gray coming didn't you?

Detroit (+5.5) at New England – The Lions put up a valiant effort in losing to the Cardinals in the desert and now face falling behind a hot Packers’ team in the NFC North. What more can be said for the Patriots who are getting it done in numerous ways?

Green Bay (-9.5) at Minnesota – Aaron Rodgers and the Packers take their high-scoring machine on the road to Minnesota where the Vikings are still struggling to find their way. What we have to be careful with here is the potential for a letdown.

Jacksonville (+14) at Indianapolis – I honestly don’t know what’s in the water in Jacksonville but it seems any QB that comes there just gets worse. The Colts will be ready for rookie Blake Bortles and they’ll be fired up after getting pounded by the Patriots.

Cincinnati (+2.5) at Houston – The Bengals may have saved their season with a big win at New Orleans and now face a Texans’ team that is suddenly just a game behind the Colts. Rookie Alfred Blue filled in for Arian Foster with a big day on the ground which helped Ryan Mallett in his debut.

NY Jets (+4.5) at Buffalo – The Jets ended their eight-game losing streak by beating the Steelers and now head to Buffalo where the Bills are clinging to life in the AFC at 5-5. A loss ends any chance of the Bills making the postseason while a win keeps them alive.

Tampa Bay (+6) at Chicago – Jay Cutler finally used the weapons around him to his advantage in beating Minnesota. Meanwhile the Bucs seem to be playing better and better and are getting good performances from young guys.

Arizona (+6.5) at Seattle – Let’s put it this way; the Seahawks cannot afford to lose. They are 6-4 while the Cardinals are 9-1. Not only would a loss end any reasonable chance at a division title but probably a playoff spot as well. Don’t forget, the Cards won in Seattle last year.

St. Louis (+5.5) at San Diego – At 4-6, you’d think the Rams would already be out of contention for the playoffs. Don’t tell them that though as they have played teams very tough in recent weeks and knocked off Denver this past Sunday. For the Chargers, they survived the Raiders but they’re looking up at both Kansas City and Denver in the AFC West.

Miami (+7) at Denver – The Broncos are dealing with injuries to both Emmauel Sanders and Julius Thomas and Miami is playing well. Can Ryan Tannehill survive the pass rush?

Washington (+7.5) at San Francisco – The Redskins seem near an implosion right now and a west coast road trip won’t help any.

Dallas (-3) at NY Giants – At 3-7, the Giants will be left to pay spoiler in the NFC East. Dallas is coming off a bye which had to be good news for Tony Romo.

Baltimore (+4) at New Orleans – Both teams will be looking for wins to stay alive in their respective divisions and the Saints are no longer infallible at home.

Two Great Rivalries are the Focus of Today’s NFL Late Games

Manning Brady
Manning Brady
The two long-time rivals meet for the 16th time in Foxboro today.

St. Louis (+10) at San Francisco (O/U 44) – The Rams head west giving up 30 points per game and now have to play the Niners who are scoring only 22 points per game. Obviously something will give here.

I have no doubt that San Francisco Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has paid close attention to the surging Cardinals and somewhat dysfunctional Seahawks in his own division. Dropping a game here could be a death blow if Arizona continues playing well.

Trends: St. Louis is 8-14-1 against the spread in their last 23 games against San Francisco… The total has gone UNDER in in five of the 49ers last seven games at home… The Rams are 0-4-1 straight up in their last five games at San Francisco… The 49ers are 5-1 SU in their last six games at home.

The Pick: Look for a lot of Frank Gore early and Colin Kaepernick off of him. Take the Niners to cover and the OVER.

Denver (-3.5) at New England (O/U 54) – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning hook up for the 16th time in their careers and this time around Manning’s Broncos are favorites on the road in a place where Brady doesn’t lose very often.

The biggest injury concern I have in this game is that New England will be without defensive end Chandler Jones who is out with a hip injury. His ability to get to Manning and create problematic throwing lanes will be sorely missed.

My gut feeling tells me the Bill Belichick and the Pats will establish the run early to keep Manning and his receiving weapons on the sidelines.

Trends: Denver is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against New England… The Patriots are 8-17 straight up in their last 25 games against the Broncos… The total has gone OVER in four of Denver’s last five games against New England… The total as gone OVER in eight of the Patriots’ last nine games at home.

The Pick: Take the home underdog Pats and the OVER too.

Expect to see early doses of Marshawn Lynch in today's game against the Radiers.

Oakland (+14.5) at Seattle (O/U 43) – Heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch plus the play-action ability of Russell Wilson equals too much for the Raiders. Oh and need I mention the struggling Raiders’ offense against a defense searching for its’ groove?

Trends: Oakland is 1-5 straight up in their last six games on the road against the Seahawks… Seattle is 19-2 SU in their last 21 games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of the Raiders last eight games when playing on the road in Seattle… The Seahawks are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games.

The Pick: Seattle will pull away late so take them to cover and take the OVER.

Baltimore (-1) at Pittsburgh (O/U 47.5) – The best rivalry in pro football goes primetime again as the Ravens invade Heinz Field. Both teams stand at 5-3 but the game is arguably ore important to the Steelers because they stand 1-2 in the division with two games remaining and both are with Cincinnati.

The Ravens are 2-2 in the division with tonight’s game and then a date with Cleveland remaining so it’s vital for the Steelers to get the win and even the season series with Baltimore at a game apiece.

The Steelers come off an offensive explosion in the win over Indy last week while the Ravens dropped a tough game in Cincinnati to the Bengals who own two victories over the Ravens this season.Look for Baltimore to take shots early against an average Steelers’ secondary while Pittsburgh will look to Le’Veon Bell to carry the load

Trends: Baltimore is 2-3-2 against the spread in their last seven games on the road in Pittsburgh… Pittsburgh is 11-4 straight up in their last 15 games against the Ravens in Pittsburgh… The total has gone OVER in four of the Ravens’ last six games… The total has gone OVER in nine of Pittsburgh’s last 13 games.

The Pick: The Ravens have the Steelers number of late. Take them to cover and the OVER.

Here is Your Brief Glimpse at All of the NFL Lines for Week Seven

Tony Romo and the Cowboys are red-hot and now host a depleted Giants' team this week.

As is the usual case, I’m taking a look at the early lines for this week’s National Football League schedule. These are, and will change in almost all cases so stay tuned but here are my thoughts on each game as they exist today.

NY Jets (+10) at New England (O/U 46.5) – Double-digit spreads in the NFL are always tough to swallow and this rivalry game in the AFC East will be no different. Right now I like the Pats to cover simply because I have zero faith in the Jets’ offense to score more than 14 points.

Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis (O/U 49) – This line will move solely on the availability of A.J. Green. Doctors are recommending rest and no surgery but that rest means he is likely out another week or two. The Colts offense will be licking its’ chops after the Bengals surrendered 37 to Carolina this past Sunday.

Tennessee (+4) at Washington (O/U 46) – Here is you ugly game of the week… The Titans seem to play everyone tough and they were fortunate to get a few win over Jacksonville. The Redskins need to get the running game going because while Kirk Cousins can put up impressive numbers he also makes mistakes. Right now I like the Titans and the points.

Ryan Tannehill and Joe Philbin need to get their act together as they head into Chicago.

Miami (+3) at Chicago (O/U 49) – It’s going to be a long week in Miami where head coach Joe Philbin didn’t do his team any favors in their last second loss to the Packers. In Chicago, the Bears righted the ship with a solid win over Atlanta that featured Jay Cutler playing much better than he had lately. Take the Bears in this one.

Cleveland (-4) at Jacksonville (O/U 45) – The Jags remained winless last week while the Browns knocked off long-time nemesis Pittsburgh in a big way. The schedule sets up nicely for the Browns who have Tampa Bay and Oakland in the next two weeks. The loss of Alex Mack will hurt but I still like Cleveland to cover.

Seattle (-6) at St. Louis (O/U 43.5) – Seattle is 3-2 and already has a loss at home. In their two losses, both San Diego and Dallas did two things; converted on third down and kept the Seahawks’ offense off the field. Still like them to cover.

Carolina (+7) at Green Bay (O/U 48.5) – Great performance by Carolina last week in a tie. Better performance by Aaron Rodgers in a Packers’ last-second win. Take the Panthers and the points.

Atlanta (+6.5) at Baltimore (O/U 49.5) – Atlanta? Outdoors? Forget it. Take the streaking Ravens to cover.

Minnesota (+4) at Buffalo (O/U 43) – Minnesota was stifled at home by a decent Detroit defense. Look for the Bills to cover here.

New Orleans (+2.5) at Detroit (O/U 50.5) – The Saints understand this game could be their season. Another loss and making the playoffs becomes most difficult. If Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham are both out, expect scoring to be down. Take the Lions to cover.

Kansas City (+5) at San Diego (O/U 44.5) – This could be the game of the week. The Chargers are playing as well as anyone and the Chiefs seem to be in every game they play. I like the Chiefs and the points.

NY Giants (+5) at Dallas (O/U48.5) – Victor Cruz is gone for the season. Dallas is on fire and at home. Take the ‘boys to cover.

Arizona (-3.5) at Oakland (O/U 43.5) – I said last week that Tony Sparano would have his Raiders ready and they were despite losing. The Cards are too good on both sides though. Take them to cover.

San Francisco (+6.5) at Denver (O/U 47) – The 49ers seem to have bounced back a bit and are playing better on defense. No matter, the Broncos offense is too good at home. Take them to cover.

Houston (+3.5) at Pittsburgh (O/U 44.5) – The Texans are a bit of a mess at quarterback while the Steelers are a mess period. Take the Texans and the points.

It’s a Good Time to Talk About a Little of Everything in Sports

Quit messing around MLB'ers! The game can speed up simply because of you.

If it sin’t already obvious to you I enjoy discussing football, both college and pro, more than any other sport. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the other sports because I do. Its just that I’ve always had a special place in my heart for football. Today I’ll certainly touch on that but I also have some thoughts on baseball and that’s where I’m going to start.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced yesterday that he will be forming a committee that will have the sole purpose of finding ways to speed up the game. I find this development very interesting because I’m pretty sure THERE ARE ALREADY THINGS IN PLACE TO SPEED UP THE GAME BUT THEY ARE NOT ENFORCED.

Sorry for the ‘all caps’ there but this is like having water to put out a fire yet you don’t use it for stupid reason. If you want to see games move along then let’s get pitchers back on the hill after talking to the sky for thirty seconds. Let’s get hitters back into the batter’s box rather than adjust their cups and re-velcro their batting gloves for a minute and a half between every pitch.

How about we stop specializing the game so darn much? Why do managers feel it necessary to make pitching changes based on so many factors that a nuclear physicist would get dizzy?

The fixes are already there for baseball but Selig, in one of his last parting moves of idiocy, wants a committee to investigate it. Sheesh.

Steve Bisciotti laid out his case yesterday but according to ESPN, it has holes.

Late yesterday, Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti spoke to the media in regards to the handling of the Ray Rice situation and the recent ESPN Outside the Lines report. Bisciotti claims that Ray Rice’s camp manufactured the story that OTL reported. Bisciotti hadn’t even finished speaking and already ESPN reporters were standing by their story.

At it’s core, this is still about a man knocking a woman out cold. The waves that came from that punch are still rippling throughout the league and society in general. What is obvious is that the Ravens did two things; they clearly lobbied Goodell for a lighter suspension for Rice and they had access to the video a lot sooner than they originally claimed. If it can further be proven that the NFL conspired to keep this incident and video in particular under wraps than this is very far from over.

Michigan Head Football Coach Brady Hoke made it clear in his press conference on Monday that he believes this team still has much to play for and that includes a Big Ten title. I certainly don’t fault Hoke for being positive because that’s what coaches have to be when the chips are down. The numbers unfortunately say something much different however.

Hoke’s Wolverines are as bad offensively as it can get. They’ve scored just one offensive touchdown against a power five conference school in their last three games and that was a late TD against Kansas State in their bowl game. Devin Gardner has actually gotten worse in recent games dating back to last year. His decision-making is poor at best and he struggles mightily any time Devon Funchess isn’t available.

Michigan still has trips to East Lansing and Columbus this season among other Big Ten games and I honestly don’t see this offense getting any better anytime soon.

A Fierce NFL Rivalry and a Battle of Cougars in the College Ranks

Troy Polamalu leads the Steelers into Baltimore for a big game against the rival Ravens.

All eyes have been on Baltimore, Maryland in recent days and the attention has nothing to do with the game. As you know, Ray Rice is no longer a Raven but I think we’ve heard enough about that so let’s get to the games.

Pittsburgh (+3) at Baltimore (O/U 44.5) – Both teams opened at home last week where the Steelers hung on to beat Cleveland while the Ravens lost at home to Cincinnati. Rice wasn’t scheduled to play in this game regardless of the latest revelations because this would have been the second of his two game suspension. There’s no question that Baltimore had to have paid close attention to what Cleveland did to the Steelers’ defense in the second half of their game.

The Browns went exclusively to the hurry-up offense and Pittsburgh had no answer for it giving up 24 second half points. Now whether the Ravens choose to go that route is unknown but I do expect to see lots of misdirection and cutbacks which drove the Steelers crazy on Sunday. If Baltimore can find early success running the ball then the play-action that offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak loves will be available.

John Harbaugh need a bounce-back win against the rival Steelers.

Offensively for Pittsburgh, Todd Haley will no doubt do everything he can to get the ball to Le’Veon Bell who nearly had 200 yards of offense on Sunday. The question for the Steelers is how much no-huddle offense will they deploy? I thought they went away from it too soon on Sunday and it nearly cost them. QB Ben Roethlisberger is a better signal-caller when he commands the offense in the no-huddle so it should be a staple.

The Ravens will obviously have to account for Bell but they can’t exactly abandon Antonio Brown either. The Pro Bowler caught five balls for over 100 and a TD on Sunday.

If you’re expecting a tight game then that means kickers will come into play. Shaun Suisham has been very reliable for the Steelers but Justin Tucker of Baltimore has a much bigger leg. He can easily make a 50+ yarder if necessary to win the game.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in five of Pittsburgh’s last six games… Baltimore is 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games… The Steelers are 3-8 straight up in their last 11 games in Baltimore… The total has gone OVER in four of Baltimore’s last five games at home when playing the Steelers.

The Pick: These are not the same teams they were three or four years ago and both rely on offense. That’s why the OVER is a great play. I also like the Steelers getting the points in another close one between the two rivals.


Houston (+18.5) at BYU (O/U 57) – Last year, these two groups of Cougars hooked up in an epic 47-46 win for BYU in Houston. I don’t expect that close of a game this time around as BYU welcomes Houston to Provo. Houston dropped a very surprising opener to UT-San Antonio and then bounced back to defeat Grambling 47-0.

This will be the home opener for BYU as they’ve reached 2-0 by winning at UConn and at Texas where they dismantled the Longhorns 41-7 in front of the home crowd.

Trends: Houston is 3-6 straight up in their last nine games on the road… BYU is 17-3 straight up in their last 20 home games… Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last five games… BYU is 2-4-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.

The Pick: BYU is riding high after two big wins on the road. I like the OVER and I’m going to take BYU to cover.


Odds to Win the AFC North for 2014

Andy Dalton has a lot to prove in 2014 following his new contract extension.

With the AFC East behind us, we’re heading North. Let’s go!

Cincinnati +200 – For a team that won the division and hosted a playoff game last year, there is a lot of doubt around these Bengals and much of that is about QB Andy Dalton. Fresh from signing a new contract, Dalton’s 0-3 record in the playoffs is a glaring stat. Enter new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson who I believe will make Dalton better.

The defense is good as Geno Atkins returns from his ACL tear, but they aren’t ‘great.’ Rookie DB Darqueze Dennard will help in coverage but the Bengals must adjust to a new defensive coordinator as Mike Zimmer now runs things in Minnesota. The schedule starts out well for the most part but Cincy plays five of their eight games on the road and that includes a three-game stretch on the road to end November.

Season Projection: 10-6

Rookie Ryan Shazier has a lot of expectations upon him to help the defense in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh +200 – The Steelers enter 2014 off of back-to-back 8-8 seasons. The youth movement is clearly on in the Steel City as the receiving corps is younger than ever as is the defense in quite some time. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the key to this team’s chances. If he repeats the 16 games he played in last season then the Steelers have a great shot at the division.

Defensively, the Steelers are far from being the Steel Curtain of yore. So far through the preseason, they’ve given up more rushing yards than anyone. Rookies Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt will help but they also have to get pressure as well as the secondary is average at best. The Steelers’ schedule features four road games in five weeks between September 11th and October 12th. They finish the season with the final two at home though.

Season Projection: 9-7

Baltimore +275 – The Ravens didn’t make the playoffs following their Super Bowl victory the year before and in comes Gary Kubiak to run the offense. He will look to establish the run in order to create play-action opportunities for Joe Flacco. Ray Rice had a very down year last season and needs to rebound in order to help the offense.

Defensively, the Ravens are far from what they were several years ago and they have aged especially with Terrel Suggs and Haloti Ngata. There has been an infusion of youth in some spots but will that youth perform? Baltimore opens with two home games against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. A few weeks later, they start a stretch of four road games in five weeks and in that run are return trips to both Cincy and Pittsburgh.

Season Projection: 9-7

Cleveland +500 – Cleveland has settled on a quarterback and it isn’t Johnny Football. Head Coach Mike Pettine has decided to go with Brian Hoyer to start the season and it’s probably the safest way to go. The Browns play Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Baltimore in the first three weeks and then have a bye. If the Browns are 2-1 or 3-0 then I believe Hoyer keeps the job. 1-2 or 0-3 could usher in the Manziel era.

The defense is solid and probably underrated because of all the attention paid to the offense but they’re pretty good. They’ll be charged with keeping games close in order to help the offense and they’ll do that by creating pressure. I mentioned the opening three games but the end of the schedule isn’t great either with Indianapolis and Cincinnati at home and then finish with Carolina and Baltimore on the road.

Season Projection: 6-10

Overall: I can see scenarios where Cincy, Pittsburgh and Baltimore can all win the division but I think the Bengals are the surest bet.

Goodell Finally Speaks; Says Nothing to Make Us Think He Has a Clue

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defends the two-game punishment for Ray Rice on Friday.

A week or so ago, National Football League Commissioner sent out one of his hired henchmen to defend the league’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens’ running back just two games. NFL V.P. Adolpho Birch appeared on ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike’ and proceeded to make the entire situation even worse as he stumbled over answers and twisted himself into knots defending the the league’s decision.

What we all wanted was not to hear from the minions, but to hear from Goodell himself and we finally got our chance when he spoke on the Rice suspension on Friday. We should not have been surprised by his words which did nothing but tow the company line and give the same lip service Birch had given.

Goodell’s words in italics…

“We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL, and there are consequences for that,” the commissioner said. “Obviously, when we are going through the process of evaluating an issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that are available to us.” 

“We have to remain consistent,” he said. “We can’t just make up the discipline. It has to be consistent with other cases, and it was in this matter.”

I found two things disturbing with the above comments. First, he claims the NFL can’t just make up the discipline. That is 100% wrong because there is nothing in the collective bargaining agreement that covers knocking your significant other out cold in an elevator. Things that are collectively bargained are agreed upon by the league and the players. Therefore, Goodell and the NFL would have had cart blanche to suspend Rice with a much more harsh punishment.

Rice deserved a punishment similar to Roethlisberger but Goodell will hear nothing of it.

Secondly, Goodell was asked to compare this suspension to that of Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and as expected Goodell said there had been a prior incident in his past which warranted the long suspension. Let’s keep in mind that Roethlisberger was never videotaped, never arrested, never charged, never made to agree to a plea deal and so on.

If you want to say Roethlisberger was guilty of poor judgment then I can certainly understand that especially in the Georgia alleged incident. The first one that Goodell always cites was a money grab of the highest order and NFL security knows it just as they know it was the case in Georgia as well. Before you get pissed off, I suggest you read through the two incident reports and articles to educate yourself.

As for Rice, I thought he was very honest and contrite when he spoke to the media. I really do believe this has affected him greatly as it should have. I seriously hope that Rice can move forward and that he never again touches his wife or any other woman. My anger towards him is obvious but not nearly as much as it is towards Goodell.

I truly believe it is time for the Commissioner to completely remove himself from disciplinary decisions. He is losing terribly in the court of public opinion and looks even worse after the swift action of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who hasn’t even been on his detail a year yet.

We all know that Goodell’s main mission is to make money for the owners. He is excelling at doing that but also has a myriad of other issues on his plate as well. Playoff expansion, London, concussions, and a growing list of felons are all weighing him down.

He can avoid a lot of headaches this way too.


Can Ibaka Play?… And Roger Goodell Faces Serious Decisions With Discipline

Serge Ibaka wants to play, but what affect can he have if still less than 100%?

San Antonio Spurs’ Head Coach Gregg Popovich has been pretty insistent about his thinking regarding Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka. Popovich has said all along that he thinks the Thunder’ big man will return before the end of this series. It now looks like Popovich has been right all along.

Although Ibaka has yet to be cleared by team doctors, he said as of last evening that he’d be willing to play through the pain. As courageous as this sounds, Ibaka has not even run on his strained calf since injuring it in game six against the Los Angeles Clippers. To say that Ibaka would be less than 100% would be an understatement and one has to wonder just how effective he can even be.

The irony of the situation is that Oklahoma City desperately needs him to be in the game. The Spurs have dominated the Thunder in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals and in large part due to the absence of Ibaka in the paint. Regardless of Ibaka’s presence I think this series belongs to the Spurs.

Jim Irsay's punishment will be a major issue for Roger Goodell.Ravens, Roger Goodell and What to do with Jim Irsay

Ever since the time that the Baltimore Ravens made Ozzie Newsome their general manager, they have done about as many things right as any team in the National Football League. On Friday, those good choices and decisions were tarnished by seven minute press conference.

Ravens’ star running back Ray Rice addressed the media for the first time since he was arrested for knocking out his then-fiance in the elevator of a casino. Rice was accompanied by his now-wife and their infant child. Rice gave his apology for his actions and said that he was working towards being a better a person, husband and father.

Part of the problem for the Ravens was the cliche-filled comments by Rice but also the lack of questions allowed by the media. With the incident having happened in February, the media deserved to ask questions but they were not. Also scarring the image of the Ravens was the person in charge of the organization’s Twitter account.

For who knows why, the Ravens decided that ‘live-tweeting’ the Rice press conference would be a good idea. All they did was set domestic violence awareness back about 25 years with a series of bizarre and poorly worded tweets. The early speculation on Rice’s punishment is that the league and Roger Goodell will come down with a suspension that starts at a minimum of three games.

Since Goodell became Commissioner his main focus has been “protecting the shield” and limiting ‘conduct detrimental to the League.’ Goodell has painted himself in a corner in this regard because five years ago he suspended Ben Roethlisberger despite never being arrested and never being charged. Goodell claimed his behavior was ‘conduct detrimental to the League.’

Goodell’s problems don’t end there though because now he has to punish one of the very men who helps pay his salary. Although Jim Irsay’s crimes were reduced last week, Goodell still has to take action. Irsay was arrested for numerous offenses including having prescription drugs that weren’t his and we all know if this were a player, the penalty would be harsh.

If Roger Goodell is going to suspend a player (Josh Gordon) for a year due to marijuana use, then how does he not come down equally as hard on a player like Rice who has struck a woman. Furthermore, what will Goodell do with Jim Irsay? Fining him really doesn’t do much considering his wealth and suspending him probably doesn’t do much either.

My suggestion? Hit him where it really hurts; take away draft choices.

Long Shots That Could Win Super Bowl XLIX

I beileve Bruce Arians' Cardinals are a great threat to the rest of the NFC in 2014.

On Tuesday I looked at the top five favorites to win Super Bowl XLIX which will be played in Arizona. Today I shift to some teams that aren’t favorited quite as high yet still have a chance to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2015.

Picking long-shots is never easy especially coming off a year in the National Football League where two of the three prohibitive favorites both made the Super Bowl. While the odds are heavy in favor of Seattle repeating, that doesn’t mean there aren’t teams out there that can’t take them out.

Here are the teams I think could accomplish just that.

Arizona Cardinals 33/1 – The Cardinals finished 10-6 last season and those wins included a huge victory over the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 16. That win will give this team the motivation and confidence they need moving forward in 2014. The biggest issue is at quarterback where Carson Palmer showed flashes of his former greatness and also some real mediocrity. Can he elevate his game enough with great players around him to get this team to a Super Bowl?

The Cards get playoff teams Philly, San Diego and Kansas City at home and must travel to Dallas, New Orleans and Denver.

I expect a much better Eli Manning in 2014.

New York Giants 33/1 – I must be nuts right? Not if you follow the history of Giants’ Head Coach Tom Coughlin who almost always follows up bad seasons with very good ones. Obviously, Eli Manning has to play better and he needs help around him on a more consistent basis than he saw in 2013. The potential for a running game is there and the defense still has guys who can play but they will need to add some talent and depth through free agency and the draft.

The G-Men get Arizona, San Francisco and Indianapolis at home and have key road games at Seattle and Detroit.

Houston Texans 33/1 – Hard to believe considering this team was 2-14 but there is tons of talent on this roster and I believe Bill O’Brien will get the most out of it. The elephant in the Texans’ locker room is obviously the absence of a quarterback. Speculation right now is that with the first overall pick the Texans will select a potential franchise QB but don’t be so sure either. Houston will need to revamp the running attack as well if Arian Foster can’t stay healthy.

Houston hosts Baltimore, Philadelphia and Cincinnati while they have big road games at Pittsburgh, Dallas and the New York Giants.

Baltimore Ravens 40/1 – The Ravens will look to get back to the playoffs in 2014 and must get more production out of Ray Rice and fewer mistakes from Joe Flacco in order to do that. The defense was actually better than many thought it would be in 2013 but it can still improve and needs to add depth at several key positions. I have to believe the Ravens will be better than last year simply because John Harbaugh doesn’t have back-to-back bad years.

Baltimore’s key home games include San Diego and Carolina while severe road tests include Indianapolis, New Orleans and Miami.

Minnesota Vikings 75/1 – My first thought here is that Mike Zimmer will change the culture immediately in Minneapolis and will look for veterans to lead the team. There is some very good talent on the roster which of course begins with Adrian Peterson. Like other teams, the Vikings need to decide on a quarterback. Added weapons on offense will help any QB but so will just taking care of the ball. If they get consistent QB play I see good things for the Vikes.

They will host key home opponents like Carolina and New England and must travel to New Orleans and Miami.