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Friday, January 21, 2021

drafting
There’s certainly some inverse energy in the champion of ESPN.com’s nationwide fantasy football competition being homeless:

Obviously, Nathan Harrington, 33, of Salem, Mass., knows something I don’t. Harrington ended up homeless after needing back surgery, going on medical leave from his job, and being forced to leave his home because it was condemned.

And still, he was better than over 3 million people at fantasy football.

He used computers at his father’s nursing home, his mother’s house, and the library. He knocked on neighbors’ doors and asked if he could use their computers.

When real life is falling apart, you might as well focus on Sunday’s stats.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/21/2011 08:00am
Category: Football, Internet
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Monday, January 03, 2021

look out below
I’ve had a day to digest the absurdity of the Seattle Seahawks winning the NFC West with a 7-9 record, the first sub-.500 division champion in NFL history.

And all I can come up with is this: That the National Football League has, improbably, stumbled across its own franchise-level version of the Mendoza Line. The Seahawks’ 2010 winning percentage of .438 might seem gaudy next to the Mendoza threshold of .200, but when we’re talking about football standings, it’s equivalent.

To an extent, the losing record is merely symbolic. Would Seattle truly be any better of a team if it had squeezed out one more win, to finish a comparably respectable 8-8? No. It’s still a rotten team, that just happened to be grouped with three other rotten teams, and somebody had to wind up on top.

It sucks for the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Bucs, the other NFC teams that finished up 10-6 yet were shut out of postseason action. The league can look at revising the playoff qualification rules for the future. But if nothing else, they should really revisit the onetime proposal to strip division winners of homefield advantage if their records aren’t better than those of their wild-card opponents. It’s bad enough that Seattle gets into the playoffs, but to have it host a playoff game is doubly ridiculous.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/03/2021 11:28pm
Category: Baseball, Football
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Saturday, December 11, 2021

buyboughtboughtnaught
This week’s purchase of the New Orleans Hornets by the National Basketball Association is the third such franchise-buyback in recent memory:

- The Phoenix Coyotes were bought out of bankruptcy by the National Hockey League last year; they’re still owned by the league, although a sale to Matthew Hulsizer seems imminent.

- Back in 2002, Major League Baseball bought the Montreal Expos, a prelude to eventually selling the team to investors who re-launched the franchise as the Washington Nationals.

Are we seeing a trend? Each of these buybacks were defensive, last-resort moves. Contraction was mentioned in each instance, and is being bandied about by the NBA even now (although more as sabre-rattling versus its upcoming collective bargaining fight with its players union). While brand value and product integrity are important enough for the NHL, NBA, and MLB to persuade member owners to contribute money to pool together such troubled-team buybacks, you have to wonder when owners will get tired of footing such bills.

Oh, and the missing major-pro league here? The National Football League, of course. The NFL has yet to experience a situation where a franchise couldn’t attract eager buyers. That doesn’t translate into stability — teams have switched cities a lot, the Los Angeles vacancy is an ongoing issue, and the looming player lockout could dent a few franchises. But to this point, it’s telling that the NFL hasn’t had to engage in such bailouts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/11/2021 05:45pm
Category: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, SportsBiz
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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

hit onehit two
I’m not one to defend fighting in the National Hockey League, or at any level of hockey for that matter. That said, I take umbrage with this flippant assessment of the sport’s culture of fisticuffs:

“He got my helmet off and I got his. To me, that is the end of the play,” [Tennessee Titans CB Cortland] Finnegan told 104.5-FM in Nashville on Monday. “This is the NFL, not the NHL, and it is a higher standard. That’s the NHL, they fight and they get penalties for that. In the NFL that is unheard of. You do that and you are suspended, hands down.

Finnegan is referring to this week’s unusual on-field punching match between him and Houston Texan WR Andre Johnson. Neither player wound up getting suspended, although the National Football League took a chunk of their paychecks in fines. (I’m guessing the presence of the Predators in Nashville is the main reason why the comparison with the NHL even came up.)

“Higher standard”, of course, is a veiled insult. The implication is that the NHL operates under lower standards than the NFL, by virtue of the integration of fighting within gameplay rules. Nonsense, of course. None of the professional sports leagues can claim to occupy a superior moral ground in this sense, and especially not the oft-capricious NFL. That neither Finnegan nor Johnson were suspended, as is standard practice in these cases, points to that; obviously both teams’ activist owners interceded to prevent that punishment.

Not that it’s anything new to dog on hockey for its peculiar institution. Like I said, I’m not the biggest fan of five-for-fighting, and it wouldn’t upset me if they banned on-ice pugilism tomorrow. But there’s no merit in criticizing the league over a misperception that it operates with any less integrity than any other sport.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/30/2010 11:52pm
Category: Football, Hockey
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Friday, November 19, 2021

I’ve been known to quote from Peter Gent’s “North Dallas Forty” on this blog. So here’s another snippet I’m posting — a succinct meditation on getting uncontrollably older, with the attendant psychological shifts:

I am a man who has learned that survival is the reason of life and that fear and hatred are the emotions. What you cannot overcome by hatred you must fear. And every day it is getting harder to hate and easier to fear.

It takes a lot of energy to hate, and eventually you run out of the mental fuel — from redundancy, if nothing else. The resultant vacuum is filled by lower-impact fear.

Amazing how much I can pick out of this novel, even after reading it for the dozenth-plus time. I guess that’s the treasure-hunting point of re-reading any book periodically.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/19/2010 12:12pm
Category: Football, Publishing
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Saturday, November 13, 2021

super stadia shuffle
It’s nothing new for the National Football League to shake down a city for stadium construction in exchange for hosting a Super Bowl (or, alternately, to get or retain a team). But the latest application of this technique, on behalf of the Atlanta Falcons and owner Arthur Blank, has an especially mercenary feel to it:

While in Atlanta, [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell made clear the connection between Atlanta hosting a third Super Bowl and Atlanta getting a new stadium.

The NFL has staged Super Bowl XXVIII and XXXIV at the Georgia Dome, which was opened in 1992.

“I think this is a great community,” Goodell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But as I mentioned to the people earlier today, the competition for the Super Bowl is really at an all-time high, in a large part because of the new stadiums. The provisions that they have for a new stadium in this great community, I think that’s a pretty powerful force. We have a history of going back to communities when they have those new stadiums.”

Lemme get this straight — the Georgia Dome, at just under two decades old, is now considered antiquated? This isn’t a facility that was built without the modern-day amenities for a big-league box — it’s got skyboxes out the yin-yang, along with plenty of retail space, advertising signage, etc. It was constructed at the start of the revenue-maximizing era for sports arenas, and not an awful lot has changed since the ’90s in those economic terms.

It’s fairly idiotic to think that a world-class venue like the Georgia Dome has a shelf life of only twenty years. This is a pure greed move by the NFL. Having already extracted new stadiums from most franchise cities, the league is now trying to re-start the process by prematurely declaring barely-used buildings as outmoded. Essentially, they’re trying to make supposedly long-term landmarks into disposable commodities, to be recycled every few years for a cash infusion to team and league.

Obviously, it’s a questionable tactic, given the economic climate. Not to mention that newer facilities like the Georgia Dome were paid for in large part with public funds, and continue to be paid off by local/state governments even after being replaced. The NFL’s past success keyed this stadium game for years, but I can’t see how it’ll work now, especially at this artificially-accelerated pace.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/13/2010 05:56pm
Category: Business, Football
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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

oakie dokie
Somehow, the Oakland Raiders have won a couple of games in a row. That success is being ascribed to a certain silver-and-black slogan — and it ain’t “just win, baby”:

The four-word phrase began when head coach Tom Cable saw his team worrying too much about mistakes. Quarterback Jason Campbell, in particular, wouldn’t let interceptions or sacks or poor throws go by without overanalyzing them. So Cable told him to “just cut it loose”.

He told the New York Times that the phrase works for the whole team.

The irony being that, in ditching owner Al Davis’ famed catchphrase, the team actually is winning. What’s next, the Black Hole getting whitewashed?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/10/2021 11:47pm
Category: Football, Wordsmithing
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Tuesday, November 09, 2021

northerly
Both William Faulkner (allegedly) and my old creative writing professor (even more allegedly) made it a point to re-read “Madame Bovary” every year.

Me? I’ve made it a point to re-read Peter Gent’s “North Dallas Forty” annually.

Which is what I’m doing right now, about a chapter-and-a-half in. I’m actually late, because in previous years, the start of the National Football League season served as my cue to crack open the book. I guess the histrionics of this 2010 NFL season distracted me from my reading ritual. That, and life in general…

Anyway. I’ve remedied this lapse by picking up my worn copy today, and diving into it once again. Good thing, too, because “North Dallas” is essential reading for getting into a proper gridiron state of mind. At least I think so; no question that I hold an obscurely minority opinion there. Sure, it’s repetitive and outdated to revisit the excesses of a (mostly) fictitious 1970s NFL squad… But then again, the game seems to be acquiring an unbearable sameness as the years pile up, too. Why not reinforce the sense of sporting ennui?

And to draw on a quote from the book (actually, the movie, but let’s not split hairs): Ultimately, we’re all just whores anyway; might as well be the best. Cheerful thought to carry us through to Super Bowl season. And, perhaps, enough to mollify the aforementioned literary figures at the top of this post — at least, Faulkner…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/09/2021 11:24pm
Category: Football, Publishing
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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

going longer
It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that National Football League coaches are routinely pressured to burn timeouts late in games, just so more TV commercials can be squeezed in:

“At the two-minute warning in every game in the fourth quarter, there are conversations that go by. There’s conversations that take place at the two-minute warning before the first half. But there’s conversations that take place, and it’s the official’s responsibility to give the head coach a status of commercials and TV timeouts,” [Tennessee Titan head coach Jeff] Fisher said. “Yesterday, I was told that they were two short. And they looked at me and smiled, and I said, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you.’ [Referee] Mike Carey came across and said, ‘Here’s the deal. We’re two short.’ And I said, ‘Mike, I can’t help you. I’m trying to get a first down and I’m gonna kneel on it.’”

It’s clearly obtrusive, and it makes for an unsettling in-game situation:

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about this story — the part that made it so hard to believe at first — is the idea of a television network, and the need for ad revenue, deciding the pace of a game (no matter how awful it may be). That Carey would break away from his responsibility as a supposedly objective arbiter of the on-field action to try and wrangle timeouts from coaches in the name of commercial breaks — well, this is where we truly have gone down the rabbit hole. And judging from Fisher’s comments, this happens all the time.

It’s always pointed out how well-suited football, particularly NFL football, is to television. Clearly-delineated windows of action provide an ideal vehicle for injecting commercial breaks. So it’s disheartening to think that, even with this perfect set-up, the league and its partners (in this case, ESPN) feel the need to tamper with gameplay integrity to jam in even more advertising.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/19/2010 11:21pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Football, TV
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Monday, September 06, 2021

labor daze
In observance of Labor Day today, I figured I’d take a brief look at a couple of notable developments during this National Hockey League offseason, as they relate to the free-agent market:

- Most immediately, the Ilya Kovalchuk contract controversy, which precipitated the addition of a major amendment in the collective bargaining to address similar long-term pacts in the future:

First: For long-term contracts extending beyond the age of 40, the contract’s average annual value for the years up to and including 40, are calculated by dividing total value in those years by the number of years up to and including 40. Then for the years covering ages 41 and beyond, the cap charge in each year is equal to the value of the contract in that year…

Secondly, for long-term contracts that include years in which the player is 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40; the amount used for purposes of calculating his average annual value is a minimum of $1 million in each of those years (even if his actual compensation is less during those seasons).

Somewhat convoluted, but essentially, the league is aiming to discourage using the downside of a player’s career as “voidable years” in a front-loaded contract. The presumption has been that, after the player has gotten the bulk of his money in the first few years, he’ll be more inclined to retire or consent to a buyout when the latter portion of the deal kicks in. That would work out for the team as well, as it can work with a lower averaged-out cap number during that player’s most productive seasons, and save a little money further down the line (while not worrying about the future accelerated salary cap hit if the contract is eventually terminated). But now, these new age-specific rules prevent too much stretching-out of the total compensation — basically, contract length can’t really be used as a bidding tactic anymore.

So, barring the discovery of a new loophole, this will mean shorter-length contracts in general in the NHL, for the remainder of this CBA. Annual salaries/cap hits may not correspondingly decrease, although with the smaller window of averaged-out seasons in play, teams will have less room to bid against each other for sought-after players.

The advent of these super-sized contracts was an interesting response to the unique constraints imposed by the NHL’s CBA: A hard salary cap combined with guaranteed contracts. Using contract length as an outlet to level out the per-season cap hit has been used in the NFL since the inauguration of true free agency in that league. The key there, though, was that those player contracts are not guaranteed. Football teams have operated freely by luring prized free agents with long-term big-money deals that easily fit under the NFL hard cap, because the long-term impact could be instantly negated by cutting the player after one or two seasons (again, ignoring the acceleration penalties, which are mostly manageable). In turn, football players learned to negotiate massively front-loaded deals, usually with half or more of the total contract value payable upon signing and/or in the first season; the rest of the contract years are presumed to be optional.

That’s just what the NHL’s “voidable years” emulated. Realistically, you know that most players hit their downside by their mid-30s, so extending a contract into those iffy years was a low-risk proposition. It was obviously cap-circumventing too, so it’s not surprising that the league finally eliminated it (or, at least, made it less workable).

- From Kovalchuk’s 15-year deal, we go to the other end of the spectrum: An apparent increased frequency in extremely short-term deals. A rundown of CapGeek’s free-agent tracker reveals a total of 385 players signing one- or two-year contracts for the coming 2010-11 NHL season (as of this writing). With only 420 players having agreed to free-agent or contract-extension deals this offseason, this points to an extremely soft free-agent market.

But why? Granted, in any given year, there are only a handful of major in-demand free agents to be had, and they generally get scooped up early with big paydays. After that, second-tier players take what’s left, competing for a limited number of roster holes.

Still, I can’t remember the last time so many proven NHL players had to settle for so little. The preponderance of one-year contracts, in particular, brings to my mind the grand strategy of Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley, at the dawn of Major League Baseball free agency:

Said Finley: “Let Them All Become Free Agents.” What Finley proposed was that after each season every player would become a free agent, free to sign with whatever team wanted his services.

The idea was that, with such a huge pool of talent available each offseason, teams would have far more options, thus driving down the value for each individual player — and this would be the case every year. Certainly, specific needs would lead to some bidding wars: If Team A and Team B really needed a good shortstop, they’d probably target the same couple of players and drive up the signing price. But with no contracts lasting longer than a season, the damage would be short-lived.

In effect, that seems to be what’s being set up for next offseason in the NHL, with most of those players coming loose again (except for a handful that might earn contract extensions). Any time such a large-scale work-status shift materializes in major-pro sports, whispers of collusion surface. They haven’t this time — yet. I’m not sure the owners are conspiring in this case. But it definitely is curious that a flood of the same players will be on the market in 2011, guaranteeing that they won’t be able to command better money/terms than they had last time around.

Overall, it’s been an interesting round of labor pains for the NHL this summer. We’ll see how all this manifests itself when the regular season starts in a month.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/06/2021 11:00pm
Category: Baseball, Football, History, Hockey, SportsBiz
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Saturday, July 31, 2021

de-camping
Player cut-downs are a common part of National Football League training camps. Now, thanks to looming logistics after the current collective bargaining agreement expires, training camps themselves probably will get cut down:

If the proposal to essentially turn the last two preseason games into regular-season contests becomes reality, teams could just start practicing two weeks earlier, right? Well, maybe not. Players worry a longer regular season would increase injuries, and NFL leaders have suggested they might cut back on training camp as a concession.

Note that the money-making possibilities are driving this move — not player safety concerns, or even the decades-outmoded notion that extended camps are needed for players to get into shape. But regardless of why, it’s a welcomed move. Especially since, in my opinion, training camps aren’t particularly effective anyway:

Brett Favre’s late August [2009] signing with the Vikings, and instant installment as their starting QB, invalidates the fundamental purpose of preseason. Team cohesiveness and playbook preparation are supposed to be paramount goals before the regular season commences. How true is that when a team’s most pivotal position is reshuffled barely a week before games start to count? Even accounting for Favre’s experience and unique star power, Minnesota basically threw out their entire gameplan when they brought him in, demonstrating how disposable those weeks of preparation are.

On top of that example, the first two weeks of NFL action produced tons of penalties by both winning and losing teams. That’s a yearly occurrence, and it’s driven me crazy for as long as I can remember. You’d think players would be particularly sharp coming right out of preseason, especially after having survived roster cut-downs and everything else. And yet, in Week 1, you see enough offsides and other boneheaded fouls to make you wonder just how much intensity teams generate in August.

Tightening up the preparation period will only help — players will be more focused, and fans won’t have to wait forever for kickoffs that count. An all-around win.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/31/2010 12:39pm
Category: Football
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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

ben don't break
In the wake of a repeat criminal offense that suggests future repeating, the Pittsburgh Steelers apparently have taken a “fool me once, fool me twice” attitude toward franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger, to the point where they’re actively looking to trade him for a top-10 pick in this week’s NFL Draft.

And guess which perennially-notorious team is perched at the No. 8 slot, seemingly waiting to make this deal happen?

One team fits all scenarios perfectly, and that is, of course, the Oakland Raiders. Historically, they’ve had no fear of taking on players with checkered pasts, and they definitely need a quarterback. Al Davis loves headlines, he loves quarterbacks with big arms, and he’d love to make the Raiders relevant again. A trade for Ben Roethlisberger gets him all three, immediately.

Big Ben in silver and black? It’s suddenly looking a lot more likely. Of all the head-spinning player movement during this uncapped offseason, this one would be the wildest one yet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/21/2010 10:58pm
Category: Football, True Crime
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Thursday, April 01, 2021

no concrete evidence
Arguably the biggest single loss to come from the imminent demolition of Giants Stadium is the demise of the Jimmy Hoffa concrete-burial claim.

And for such a fervid urban myth, it’s going to have an uneventful demise:

Giants Stadium is being demolished this spring as the Giants and Jets move into a new stadium next door. Vincent Parziale, whose company, Gramercy, is performing the demolition, said no one has contacted him about digging up the concourse under Section 107.

A spokesman for the FBI’s Newark office said the bureau has no plans to oversee the demolition of Section 107.

Once the demolition is completed, the 13-foot bowl in the ground where the field now sits will be filled in with concrete and asphalt and turned into a parking lot - perhaps finally burying one part of the Hoffa mystery, says Gramercy Vice President Frank Gramicizia.

“If he’s down there, he’s going to be down there deeper,” Gramicizia said.

I’m surprised the mob, which unavoidable would have provided the cement mixers for this replacement stadium, didn’t find a substitute corpse for the new west endzone. I guess they haven’t knocked off anyone lately with as much name recognition as Hoffa.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/01/2021 11:36am
Category: Football, New Yorkin', True Crime
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Sunday, February 07, 2021

In a fairly staid commercial lineup for Super Bowl XLIV, the clear winner for me was this utterly improbable pairing of David Letterman and Jay Leno (with Oprah in the moderating middle):

Maybe even funnier than the ad itself is the lengths taken to keep its inception secret:

The spot was shot last Tuesday afternoon, under the strictest of secrecy which involved both Mr. Leno and Ms. Winfrey flying in surreptitiously to New York, and arriving incognito at the [Ed Sullivan Theater], while Mr. Letterman was in the midst of taping his show for that night. It also involved Jay wearing a disguise: hooded sweatshirt, glasses and faux mustache. If you happened to be on Broadway between 53rd and 54th street last Tuesday about 4:15, you might have seen a man fitting that description slip into the theater by a small entrance under the marquee.

All that for a “Late Show with David Letterman” promo. And it basically topped every other $3-million, 30-second spot of the night. Dave might have been complaining about his “worst Super Bowl party ever”, but it produced the best commercial break during the whole game.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/07/2021 11:45pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Celebrity, Football, New Yorkin', TV
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double-four
Of all the days out of the year for my cousin from Greece to visit her cousins in New York, why did it have to be Super Bowl Sunday?

Such is the lot I’ve drawn today. I really don’t feel like leaving the house; even if it weren’t for the big game, it’s bitterly cold outside. And besides, there’s a peach of an NHL game between the Penguins and Capitals this afternoon to serve as sports-Sunday preliminary. All this is, of course, lost on my relatives, who aren’t aware of the secular-holiday nature of the day.

So, off I go in a little bit. I’m hoping to be back by the evening so that I can catch the bulk of the Saints and Colts. Not that I’m severely fired up for Super Bowl Ex-Ell-Eye-Vee (aka No. 44) — I don’t care much about either team, and indications are it’ll be the type of high-scoring shootout that I generally don’t care for in NFL contests. And screw the ads, frankly. But an event is an event, and I’ll be damned if I miss out on it completely.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/07/2021 11:48am
Category: Football
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Sunday, January 17, 2021

jetting
I’m not saying I’m psychic, but:

Take the Jets’ upset 17-14 win at San Diego today, and add the Colts’ easy-breezy 20-3 victory over Baltimore, and you’ve got the karmically-engineered rematch I predicted:

All I know is that the ultimate boomerang effect looms: A possible postseason rematch with the Jets — who wouldn’t have even gotten to the playoffs if not for Indy’s virtual forfeit — and an upset win by New York. That’ll teach future juggernauts to bypass a perfect season on the way to a Super Bowl shot.

And here it is. Had the Colts not let New York wriggle out of a sure loss back on December 27th, the Jets wouldn’t even be going to Indy next Sunday for a chance to beat their indirect playoff benefactors fair and square. There’s no reason to think another upset is in the works; but then, there’s no reason to think that this improbable scenario would even have occurred.

Extrapolating even further: If the Jets do win, and Minnesota wins the NFC title game over New Orleans (which I think they will), Gang Green will be positioned to take revenge on Brett Favre, who took them for a rather pointless ride last season at quarterback. In other words, the Colts allowed the Jets into the postseason in order to ruin everyone’s aspirations this year.

Really incredible. It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if the entire National Football League isn’t a scripted effort…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/17/2010 10:56pm
Category: Football
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not loose
If it seemed like this past National Football League season featured a lot of highlight-reel catches by tight ends, it’s because there were a lot:

The Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Witten caught more passes than any of his teammates, with 94. The Minnesota Vikings’ Visanthe Shiancoe caught 56 passes, 11 for touchdowns. The Baltimore Ravens’ Todd Heap had 53 receptions, 10 for 20 yards or more. Even Dustin Keller, the Jets’ usually anonymous tight end, broke out last weekend in the wild-card victory over the Cincinnati Bengals with three receptions, two for more than 40 yards.

All this is because the position has evolved significantly over the past couple of decades:

“They are power forwards, guys that are 6-5 and 250 pounds and can run,” [Hall of Fame tight end Mike] Ditka said. “Our linemen were 6-4 and 245 pounds. The game has changed. Any coach that doesn’t take advantage of his tight end is leaving a major part of his offense on the field.”…

[T]he new-wave tight ends are so multidimensional that no matchup is a perfect fit… In the past, the tight end was meant as a safe outlet for a short dump pass from the quarterback or perhaps as a change-of-gear option on early downs. In 1995, the Cowboys’ Jay Novacek caught 62 passes for 705 yards, but just 5 passes for 20 or more yards. The former San Francisco quarterback Steve Young, now an ESPN analyst, cited Shannon Sharpe as the bridge to the current tight end prototype. In 1996, Sharpe caught 80 passes for 1,062 yards, 16 of them for at least 20 yards.

Actually, I would pick Eric Green as the true forerunner to the modern-day all-purpose tight end. Green was a sensation in the early ’90s as an unexpected offensive threat for the Steelers, and made a huge splash as one of the first true free-agent signings in the NFL when he jumped to the Dolphins in 1995. He was also an accomplished run-blocker, owing to the traditional demands of the TE.

The hybrid nature of the position is what makes it an effective x-factor. NFL defensive schemes will eventually adapt, probably with more two-linebacker sets that dedicate one man to tight end/slot receiver coverage. Until that’s cooked up, the former safety-valve catcher will continue to rack up the receiving yards.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/17/2010 01:42pm
Category: Football
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Monday, December 28, 2020

pop the cork
The debate rages over Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell’s decision to basically tank the game yesterday and lose to the Jets 29-15, thus forgoing the Colts’ chance to go 16-0 this season. Ascribe the reason to rest Indy’s starters in the third quarter to anything from over-cautiousness to arrogance, from the elimination of a mostly-symbolic distraction to the naivete of a rookie head coach on how rare such an undefeated run in the NFL is.

All I know is that the ultimate boomerang effect looms: A possible postseason rematch with the Jets — who wouldn’t have even gotten to the playoffs if not for Indy’s virtual forfeit — and an upset win by New York. That’ll teach future juggernauts to bypass a perfect season on the way to a Super Bowl shot.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/28/2009 10:24pm
Category: Football
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Monday, December 07, 2021

From the looks of the previews, “Men of a Certain Age” is a television series demographically-tuned to appeal the 40-to-55-year-old male crowd.

It’s curious, then, to see that TNT is debuting the show tonight at 10 pm — right in the middle of Monday Night Football on ESPN. That’s opposite National Football League action, which is just about the only TV programming that the sitcom’s intended audience is devoted to.

Is TNT intentionally setting up “Men” to fail? Or is it somehow counting on football viewers to stray away from the Ravens-Packers game, reasoning that middle-aged male eyeballs that are already glued to the screen will stumble upon the new show? Have the cable networks abandoned marketing efforts to get people to set “appointment watching” dates with their TV sets, and instead are just banking on those who already happen to be watching (albeit on a different channel)?

I just can’t think of any other reasons for this attempt at counter-programming versus football. If it’s a new strategy for launching targeted programming, I wouldn’t bet on it working. Not even if the MNF game is an early blowout.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/07/2021 09:09am
Category: Football, Society, TV
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Thursday, November 19, 2021

bowled over
To the extent that the National Football League is an economic barometer, the early land-grab on Super Bowl XLIV adspace suggests a recovery is well-underway:

Months away from the biggest football game of the year, CBS is already nearing a 90% sellout for advertising spots during the game. The network expects to close enough deals to hit that mark before Thanksgiving, said John Bogusz, CBS’s vice president of sports sales and marketing…

For last season’s big match, NBC didn’t reach the 90% benchmark for sales until January, just a month ahead of the telecast.

The pricetag for a 30-second spot hasn’t hit the previous high of $3-million yet, so maybe the relative bargain is prompting the big buy-in. Also, all those consumer-goods producers doubtless have loads of inventory to move, after the Great Recession chilled most folks’ discretionary spending. The confluence makes for a desperate situation, which I’m sure the NFL is glad to remedy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/19/2009 11:57pm
Category: Football, SportsBiz, TV
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Sunday, November 08, 2021

pig l'orange
With today’s Green Bay at Tampa Bay game featuring the Bucs in their orange creamsicle throwback uniforms, there’s no way I wouldn’t throw up a post with the above Vinny Testaverde photo in it. Bucco Bruce lives again!

Actually, what pushed me over the edge was the game unexpectedly being broadcast here. That was an audible — the scheduled Arizona at Chicago game turned into a lopsided affair by halftime, so FOX decided to switch over to Buccaneer Ball. Thankfully so, as far as I’m concerned. Not least because it further extends the odd frequency of Bucs games on New York television this NFL season.

This game is an especially nostalgic mind-blower. The Bucs really went all-out with the throwback imagery: Not only the all-orange for the jerseys and coaches’ polo shirts, but even Raymond James Stadium is decked out with the franchise’s original colors, right down to the giant white Bucco Bruce helmet painting at mid-field, with no sign of the current pewter-and-red color scheme. I guess every NFL team goes to these lengths when they do a throwback game, but it seems even more complete in Tampa, probably because I was living there when those colors were current.

And of course, the sad-sack Yuckaneers are reborn on the field, with the 2009 team coming into this game winless, and looking deservedly so through three quarters of play this afternoon. Only appropriate that the opponent be Green Bay, in a revival of the “Bay of Pigs” matchups from decades past.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/08/2021 04:07pm
Category: Florida Livin', Football, History
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