Here are the completely random sports-related thoughts from a passionate fan who has been bottling up his sporting thoughts, emotions, and feelings for a long time. Before making you read the entire 65,000 words on this post, here are the topics I would like you to comment on. (Come on, men, this one's for you. I have a lot of female readers, but this post definitely skews male).
1. Why it's so great to be a BYU fan right now.
2. Your Monday-morning quarterbacking of the Panthers or your favorite NFL team.
3. Who killed or saved your fantasy football season?
4. Why do BYU & U. of U. football stars hardly ever become good pros?
5. Quick - name a white CB in the NFL.
6. Wallowing in Wally and steroids in MLB.
*It's a great time to be a BYU fan. The football team has gone undefeated in the MWC for the second straight year and completely owns the conference. They also managed to rip the hearts out of Utah fans who had to watch the game slip out of their hands in the last minute for the second straight year. They are 10-2 and ranked #17 in the BCS and will destroy UCLA in their bowl game.
*BYU's basketball team is 8-2, just cracked the top-25, and owns the nations longest home winning streak at 36 in a row. I bet the atmosphere in Provo is a little peppier than the 1996-1997 season I had to endure as a student when they went 1-25.
*I absolutely love the NFL and have become a loyal Carolina Panthers fan since moving to NC in 2003. This year, however, the team is driving me completely insane. I have officially renamed the team the Carolina "Three and Outs". About 9 out of 10 drives go as follows: 1st down - Hand off to DeShawn Foster off tackle for a 2 yard gain. 2nd down - From the shotgun formation, hand off to DeAngelo Williams on a slow developing draw play for a 2 yard loss. 3rd and 11 - Whoever is starting in the Vinnie Testaverde/David Carr/Matt Moore brotherhood of stinkiness drops back to pass, scrambles out of a collapsing pocket, and throws the ball out of bounds to prevent a sack. That happens 9 out of every 10 series. The other 1 in 10 series they manage to fumble or throw an interception on second down. I really had high hopes for the Panthers this year but it is almost unbearably frustrating to watch them anymore. I was getting tired of Jake Delhomme's repeated drive killing interceptions in critical moments of the game last year, but I now have a whole new appreciation for Jake after watching this completely inept offense flounder without him. I'll give head coach John Fox a pass this year because he got the team to the Super Bowl a few years back and lost his QB, but the predictable, conservative playcalling and stupid defensive penalties will cost him his job if they don't make the playoffs next year.
*I get giddy for fantasy football every week. I'm playing with some co-workers and extended friends for the third straight year. My team this year has driven me insane, but I managed to sneak into the playoffs as the #8 (and final) seed in a 12-team league. I have been absolutely let down by my highest draft picks. Frank Gore was my first rounder, and he was utterly useless for the first twelve weeks of the season. I picked up Maurice Jones-Drew in the second round but Jack Del Rio refuses to give him more than 10 touches per game.
My QB is Donovan McNabb who has been as stable as Brittney Spears. McNabb has been so inconsistent that I have been starting David Garrard/Matt Shaub over him since week 8. I drafted Thomas Jones of the Jets early assuming he would be the feature back on a team on the rise that went to the playoffs the year before. It took Mr. Jones over 270 touches before his first touchdown. Ugh! My first receiver drafted was the Cowboy's Terry Glenn, who would have had a 1,000+ yard season with Tony Romo on fire this year, but Glenn has missed the entire season due to injury. My starting TE was Todd Heap, who is normally good for 75 catches, 800 yards, and 7 TD's, which is great for a TE. This year he went for 23-239-1 in six games before shutting it down for the season.
The only reason that my team nearly pulled a .500 record is because I worked the Free Agent and Waiver Wire better this year than I ever have before. I managed to steal Brandon Jacobs from FA early in the season after he returned from injury. I pulled the Packers Ryan Grant from FA in week 6 and have ridden that pony for huge points ever since. I snagged Seattle's Bobby Engram as a WR when Deion Branch went down and he has been a consistent 7 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown most weeks. I also got Roddy White from FA late in the season before his 14 catch breakout game. Our playoffs started tonight with the Broncos-Texans game. I'm going up against the 12-1 first place team in my league and it will be a shocker if I even come close to him. He had Brandon Marshall who went for 11-107 tonight, so I'm starting off in the hole already. I managed to play in the Super Bowl of my league last year and really hope I can pull the upset and advance for a few more weeks before having to endure another six months without fantasy football.
*Why do BYU and U. of U. football stars turn out to be such lousy to decent but rarely stellar pros? Alex Smith, the former U. of U. QB and #1 overall draft pick in 2005, has a career 63 passer rating, and only 19 TD's versus 31 interceptions in 30 career starts. BYU's Luke Staley won the 2001 Doak Walker award which goes to the best RB in the NCAA. The 2000 winner was LaDanian Tomlinson, the 2002 winner was Larry Johnson. While they are two of the top backs in the NFL, Luke was a 7th round pick and never played a down in the NFL, though much of that was due to injury. BYU's John Beck has looked terrible for the Dolphins in his rookie season, but in all fairness to John, even Tom Brady would have a hard time putting up decent stats for a cruddy team with absolutely no O-line, running game, or decent receivers. The jury is still out on Beck. Let's just hope he doesn't turn out to be a Loser ("....soy un perdedor, I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me? Gettin' crazy with the cheese whiz...."). Sorry for the lame Beck pun, but somebody had to do it.
There have been a lot of solid but few dominant players. BYU's Rob Morris had a couple of 100+ tackle seasons as a starter for the Colts before becoming a role player. Brett Keisel (DE-Steelers) and Brady Poppinga (LB-Packers) are both having solid seasons as well. John Tait has been a serviceable, though not spectacular, offensive lineman throughout his career after being a 1st round pick.
The U. of U. alum have also had some marginal success. There are three Utes playing for my beloved Panthers. Steve Smith is hands-down the best U. of U. or BYU pro since Steve Young, but his talent has gone completely to waste this year with the horrible QB situation. Carolina has reverted to direct snapping it to Smith a couple of times a game just to get him involved in the offense. The Panthers OT Jordan Gross is similar to John Tait - a decent player but not living up to a first round pick. Carolina also has DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who is good but far from an impact player. Eric Weddle, the Chargers rookie DB from Utah, has had a good season and I think he could be headed for the Pro Bowl down the road. RB Mike Anderson had a great rookie season in Denver, but has been relegated to role player ever since.
*Here's an NFL Jeopardy question for you - name the best white Corner Back in the NFL. No, seriously, just give me one name because I honestly can't think of a single white CB in the league. Whoever can research this and give me a name will be the winner of this week's post. You know how there has been a lot of criticism given to some of the major college football programs that recently hired white coaches without interviewing any minority candidates? I think there should be similar outrage for the lack of opportunity given to Caucasian players who aspire to play a skill position. Before signing any CB's, RB's, or WR's, teams have to at least put a white dude through a combine workout. What says "skill position" like a 4.65 forty?
*The Mitchell report just came out and I feel dirty for having rooted for Mark McGwire and for cheering Matt Williams when he helped lead my Diamondbacks to the World Series. The one name on the list that really disappointed me was BYU's Wally Joyner. I read in ESPN the Mag about a year ago that he tried one illegal/banned substance on one occasion, and then flushed the rest of the vial down the toilet and he has felt guilty ever since. The Mitchell report said his use was, "very minimal" and when you look at his physique you would not lump him in with the Bonds/McGwire/Sosa/Giambi ilk. But knowing that even upstanding LDS athletes succumbed to the pressure to take steroids in order to prolong their careers really shows how difficult it must be to stay clean and be successful in the MLB.
Okay, I have gotten everything sports-related off of my chest and I suddenly feel much lighter, less burdened. I'll have to do this again sometime, maybe after the Lakers trade for Jason Kidd and make a run to the Finals.......