Monday, August 29, 2011

$100 Million Man

After a Pro Bowl season in 2010,
the Philadelphia Eagles signed
starting QB Michael Vick to a
six-year, $100 million contact.
Michael Vick just became one of the NFL's richest men. 
Earlier today the Philadelphia Eagles signed the 31-year-old to a six-year, $100 million contract, according to ESPN. That's quite the turnaround from the 18 months he spent in federal prison, tacked on to the fact that at one point last season he was reduced to the third-string QB for the Eagles. Thanks to an injury to now-Arizona Cardinal Kevin Kolb, Vick eventually worked his way into the starting rotation and helped lead Philly to the NFC Championship game.
Apparently Vick's 8-3 record as the starter and his play down the stretch convinced the Eagles front office to extend his contract and reward him with $16.6 million per year, but does it really make sense?
The former Atlanta Falcon compiled career-highs with 3,018 yards passing, 21 touchdown throws, nine rushing scores, a 62.6 completion percentage and a 100.2 passer rating. That being said, he played like one of the top signal-callers in the league and now he's getting paid like one.
Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning will make a league-high $23 million next season, while New England's Tom Brady and the Rams' Sam Bradford will make $18 million and $18.4 million, respectively. Manning and Brady have established themselves as two of the best quarterbacks in the league, and Bradford is still just 23 years old and well on his way. 
But the most important thing that separates Vick from Manning and Brady is a SuperBowl ring. Vick has never shown the ability to lead a team from start to finish, so investing the next six years in this guy is puzzling. Who knows though, Vick proved some of his doubters wrong with his exceptional play last season.
But everyone knows, no matter how improved his passing may have been last year, Vick is known for the plays he can make with his quick feet. He's not getting any younger - or faster - and is no stranger to injuries. All it takes is one step in the wrong direction and bam, Vick could be out for weeks or even miss the entire season. The Eagles also didn't protect their passer very well, which led to 34 sacks on Vick last year.
Personally, I believe he has only two or three years of great play left in the tank before he starts to break down. Eagles coach Andy Reid should also receive a lot of the credit for putting Vick in the right situations to succeed, but how long until teams start learning how to play defense against Philadelphia? 
Then again, Vick was great for the Eagles last season, and there's no arguing that. Time will tell whether this was a good move on the Eagles' part, but for the next six years, Vick has a home in Philadelphia. And with $100 million coming to his bank account, he'll probably have more than one.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Year of the Lockout

The NBA is just another professional
sports league suffering the woes
of a lockout in 2011.
Lockouts and player strikes. That's the theme for 2011.
Here we are, eight months into the year, and already there have been numerous roadblocks in the way of starting some of the world's top sports on time.
From the ever-publicized NFL lockout, which was put to an end with an agreement between players and owners before any games were missed, to the looming NBA lockout, which may not turn out so fortunate for everyone involved. Add to that soccer player strikes in both Spain and Italy, and suddenly it seems like nobody is playing professional sports anymore.
Of course, all of these problems will be resolved eventually - there's simply too much money at stake. Spain's La Liga postponed its opening games for a week after players refused to take the field over unpaid wage disputes, but now their season is underway. In Italy, Serie A players have said they won't play until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached - which probably won't happen in the immediate future - but shouldn't jeopardize the season as a whole.
But there's a side in these negotiations that goes unseen.
While some players have chosen to play for different leagues or adopted other means to stay in shape, and the majority of owners are okay financially, there's not much that sports writers - already in a declining market - can do. Sure, covering the negotiations is important, but how many different articles can you write about two sides not agreeing on anything?
For 135 days, NFL owners locked out their players. During a time when most football reporters should have been covering off-season trades, free agency acquisitions and the start of training camps, they couldn't.
It doesn't sound like a huge deal when discussing the millions or billions that the owners and players are fighting over, but if it had continued and games were missed, where would that leave the already-struggling sports writers? Not everyone can work for a stable company like ESPN or Sports Illustrated, and some are hanging on to their jobs by a string. It would be the same if suddenly the local government shut down or nobody committed a crime for weeks - those beat reporters would be in trouble.
Hopefully these issues get resolved quickly, because it would be a shame for someone to lose their job over a group of millionaires fighting about money.



Friday, August 26, 2011

The Tebow Fever


While he was at Florida, Tim Tebow gained the
nation's attention not just by how he performed
on the field, but his pride in religion as well.
I've never been a big fan of Tim Tebow.
While he was in college, it seemed as if the entire sports world revolved around him. Heisman winner, national champion, Sports Illustrated coverboy - he was everywhere, and everyone had the Tebow Fever. I'm usually not a big fan of overblown favorites (see: New England Patriots, post-2002) and this guy from Florida was no exception. But that was coming from my personal side. From my journalism side, this kid was a gold mine. 
He was homeschooled. He was religious. He did missionary work in the Philippines during the off-season. Anyone in their right mind covering sports would know just how many newspapers and magazines this guy could help them sell. So they went ahead and blew him out of proportion. 
That's not to say he wasn't a great college athlete - with 9,286 passing yards, 2,947 rushing yards and 145 total touchdowns in four seasons, the numbers speak for themselves. He also won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and finished as second runner-up the following season, in addition to a career 176.0 passer rating.
But Tebow isn't as well-known for the stats he put up in college, the awards he collected or the amount of wins he had by the end of it all. In fact, during the course of his college career, Tim "The Saint" Tebow is how most fans view him, especially because that's the image sports media wanted to portray. He wrote Bible verses on the eye black he used to wear under his helmet and in a 2009 interview, maintained that he was still a virgin due to his religious beliefs. 
But now that he's in the NFL, all of that has changed.
In college, he made it look easy breaking Southeastern Conference and University of Florida records. In the NFL, there's a much more level playing ground. Tebow can't dominate competition anymore. In fact, he's currently listed as the third-string quarterback for the Denver Broncos. There's nothing wrong with that though - he's still young, learning the game and trying to adapt. But instead, the media has gone from almost annointing Tim Tebow as the next savior to heaping masses of garbage on him by the truckload. 
Experts and analysts say Tebow can't play and that he never will - that he "doesn't have the intangibles to play quarterback" - and that may all very well be true. But that's not why he's receiving such harsh criticism. 
Tebow let down the media. Not by his own faults or accord, but because sports writers and those in the industry put this kid up on such a high pedestal, that they feel betrayed because he hasn't panned out immediately. Tim Tebow is arguably one of the best college quarterbacks of all-time, but right now he probably wouldn't crack a top-500 list of current players in the NFL. So just as praising Tebow while he was at Florida was the trendy thing back then, experts and writers have given up on him and now bashing him seems to be the cool thing to do. 
It's amazing to see how, in just a few years, someone can go from such high esteem to such low regard. So Tim Tebow is no longer an overblown favorite. He's simply an underdog now, trying to prove his doubters wrong. It's a cliche angle, but I can't help but root for an underdog. The NFL season starts in two weeks, and then we'll see what happens.
I've never been a big fan of Tim Tebow. That is, until now.

In his rookie season for the Denver Broncos last year, Tim Tebow played in nine games,
three of which he started. He completed 41-of-82 passes for 654 yards and five touchdowns
with three interceptions. He also ran for 227 yards and five TDs.


The First Post

After months of sending out resumes, calling up local newspapers for freelancing gigs and basically scouring the web for anything that will allow me to continue writing after college, I've decided to go ahead and do it myself. Armed with a recently-purchased laptop and a some free time on my hands, blogging seems like the next logical step. Although this blog's title implies that this is just another random attempt of one of the internet's millions of users trying to write about sports, I plan to make it more than that. After spending three years working for my college's  daily newspaper, which includes more than seven semesters as the sports editor, I feel I can offer a "behind-the-scenes" glimpse of sports coverage that you otherwise wouldn't see.  For example, ESPN.com may run a 4-part series on a small-town baseball team from Texas, but why? There's got to be a reasoning behind it. Sports coverage isn't simply sports coverage anymore. Also, one of the highlights of not having an employer is that I can write anything I want about anything I want. As a journalist, you're taught from the very beginning that the reader doesn't want your opinion - just facts. Well, I have an opinion, so I plan on letting it be heard. And you, as the reader, have the right to comment, agree, argue, dispute or otherwise ridicule whatever opinions I may have, so feel free. Regardless, I appreciate you taking the time to check out some of my posts. There will surely be more coming in the near future.