Category Archives: Football

No More NCAA Football for EA Sports! Here’s What It Means For You

It looks like Ed O’Bannon gets to chalk up a victory for him and his class action lawsuit against EA Sports and the NCAA. According to ESPN and Gamespot, the NCAA has decided not to renew their contract to produce video games using the NCAA name and likenesses. It means that NCAA Football 14, the most recent edition released this month, will be the last of the series for the time being. It turns out that the potential lawsuit started by O’Bannon has presented itself as an obstacle to continuing the relationship between the video game maker and collegiate body without incurring more wrath financially and legally from others.

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For those that don’t remember, Ed O’Bannon was a former college basketball player that was frustrated with seeing his likeness in video games and other licensed products from the NCAA and was not getting paid for it. So, like any American would, he sued both EA and NCAA for lost royalties and licensing profits. Other former student athletes followed suit and the grand total they believe stands at billions of dollars that need to be paid out to them. The video game part of it plays a major part in it as we gamers know that the names are NEVER used in the game but the numbers, height, weight, speed, strength, and how they play are put exactly in the game even as they lack an identifying marker. Some people even go as far as just renaming the players to the original name just to have the full experience. Obviously, this is a hotly debated part playing out in the legal system as we speak.

What does this mean for us gamers? Well, that copy of NCAA Football 14 with Denard Robinson on the cover? That’s the last game you’ll see with any NCAA likeness and names in a game from EA. Now, there’s still going to be a college football game for next year from EA Sports, most likely to be called College Football 15. They still are able to partner with the Collegiate Licensing Co. in order to include teams and leagues so we won’t see the game completely using NAIA teams or community colleges not affiliated with the NCAA. They just have to negotiate with each team and league individually in order to get them included in the game. There have been talks to have one featured team such as an Alabama or Ohio State to represent the game as powerhouses to help overcome the loss of the big license but that remains to be seen.

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What we can probably see from here on in is even more generic football players that won’t look like the players or resemble them by number or likeness, so as to not throw gas on the fire. The NCAA is obviously spooked by this lawsuit and wants to get away from EA Sports, who continue to put players in the game that resemble the underclassmen. They don’t want to get into deeper hot water so they’ve decided to cut their losses and move on and see how this legal dilemma plays out. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this will affect games. While not as big as Madden, the NCAA games still represents a good portion of the EA Sports cash cow and if there’s a lot of changes coming to the games, it just might be time for them to cut their losses too.

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Thoughts on ‘The Paterno Report’

We are all familiar with the pedophile’s playground that was Penn State. We gazed on in horror and disgust at the structural and institutional abuse that was allowed to go on. We downloaded the Freeh Report, an independent review that looked into the abuse of Jerry Sandusky, and read in shock as the details unfolded on how this was permitted to continue for so long. The report was the basis and rationale for the NCAA dropping an incredibly harsh penalty that was designed to severely punish the football program for creating a culture that, at a bare minimum, allowed this to occur and not be reported.

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In the roughly seven months since the release of the Freeh report, Penn State and the rest of us have been able to succeed on closing this chapter and begin healing some of the wounds. I will not speak to the damage done to the victims, because that is their own and no one can begin to understand what this all means to them. The Nittany Lions had a great football season (by B1G standards anyway) and the university took some steps to move forward.

Today the scab over that wound was picked off by the Paterno family (I bet they ate it) with the release of their privately commissioned report, “A Rush to Injustice”. While I understand the desire to protect the image of the disgraced and deceased football coach, there really is no good that can come of it. It comes off like a child trying to rationalize their bad behavior.

leave joepa aloneThe main claims of the Paterno Family report is that the investigation was done inappropriately and that JoePa never attempted to hide any information or hamper any investigation. First, the Freeh Report was by no means perfect, but attacking it for any deficiencies is like the pot calling the kettle black; the Paterno Report suffers from the same short comings such as lack of subpoena power and access to information. Secondly, nobody gives two craps that Joe did not hide information; it is that he did not scream it out while leading the charge to serve Sandusky up to the authorities.

Finally, saying he did not hamper any investigation is like claiming he did not pet any unicorns or that he did not visit Camelot. Those things do not exist and neither did any meaningful investigation.

The self-serving report does nothing to help or heal. It is stupid and simply serves to flame the fires that had died down. What the Paterno family should have spent their time, fame and fortune on was helping victims of abuse. They should have acknowledged the mistakes and flaws of JoePa, and then taken every penny they had and supported one of the national charities that helps victims of child abuse. That is the way they could have begun the process of rebuilding the Paterno name, not this attempt at blame shifting.

It’s NFL Black Monday 2012 – Is Your Coach Having a Bad Day?

The 2012 NFL regular season has come to an end. For those that advance to the playoffs, congratulations, you get to continue on your march towards the grand prize: The Lombardi Trophy and the legendary status of being a Super Bowl winner. However, for the others, some of you get to pack your bags because the NFL sometimes stands for Not For Long.

Today is Black Monday, the first Monday after the end of the regular season and the day where the pink slips are handed out to coaches and general managers for failing to achieve the only goal in the NFL and of Charlie Sheen: Winning. Today was especially bloody as we saw long-term coaches get canned, as well as some of the newer ones that probably did not get the chance they deserved to see the improvement through.

Regardless, let’s recap to who is looking for new jobs this winter.

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Andy Reid is probably the biggest, and yet least surprising name on the list. The Philadelphia Eagles dismissed the 14-year head coach today after a massively disappointing 4-12 season. Despite six division titles, five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance, the record that stands out is his last two years where he was 8-8 in 2011 after collecting superstars such as Jason Babin, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Dominque Rodgers- Cromartie. The defense was horrid and took even more of a hit after changing coordinators mid-season this year. He also was 1-4 in NFC Championship games and the Philly faithful won’t forget that. He knew this was coming and I’m sure he will welcome the change. It has been a rough few years as he had a myriad of family issues in Philadelphia that came to a head when his son was found dead at the Eagles training camp. He already is trying to inquire about coaching openings and building a staff so he should get right on his feet. I do think Philadelphia will miss him because his teams always makes runs at the division or the playoffs but after the last two years, it was time to move on.

black monday 2On the somewhat surprising front, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears was also let go just as his team was eliminated after the Minnesota Vikings victory over the Green Bay Packers Sunday night. After nine years with the Bears, he made the Super Bowl once in 2006 losing to Peyton Manning’s Colts. Again, a solid coach with a good record (81-63 with the Bears) but the collapses of recent years and the offensive struggles did him in. Last year, the Bears started out 7-3 before going 1-5 the rest of the way and this year started 7-1 before going 3-5 the down the stretch and missing the playoffs again. The end of the year consistency has not been there and despite having Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte the offense has ranked 2nd to last in yards per game since being hired as head coach. Something had to change, especially with the NFC North offenses being powered by Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Adrian Peterson. They needed people to keep up with the vaunted defenses he fielded during his tenure. Again, he’ll definitely find work again, if anything as a D-Coordinator because he always employs great defenses dating back to his times with Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

Cleveland Browns new head coach Romeo Crennel answers questions at a news-conference, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005, in Berea, Ohio. Fresh from winning a third Super Bowl title as New England's defensive coordinator, Crennel was introduced Tuesday as coach of the  Browns.  (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)In Kansas City, after locking up the 1st pick yesterday after getting thrashed by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Romeo Crennel was let go by the Chiefs. Again, no shock, but surprisingly GM Scott Pioli remains employed and most definitely, it’s the personnel that did in the Chiefs, not just the coaching. The reverse actually happened in New York when the Jets let go of GM Mike Tannenbaum and kept coach Rex Ryan. Again, personnel depth and the Tim Tebow trade probably destroyed Tannenbaum’s chances to redeem himself for 2013.

In San Diego, Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith finally got canned after constant disappointment in their organization. Watching Philip Rivers regress and the drafting of LT replacements go south made the decision easy for the Chargers brass. I still think A.J. Smith should’ve been fired years ago after the way he handled LaDainian Tomlinson’s exit from the Chargers, and getting rid of Drew Brees. Plus getting rid of Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season was pretty stupid, especially since the reason was because they had a ‘dysfunctional relationship’.

In other news, the Cleveland Browns got rid of coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert. New ownership took over so they just wanted their own people to take over and start fresh considering the ridicule the franchise gets nowadays. Shurmur has a great offensive mind so it will interesting where he ends up because of the job he did to help Sam Bradford (before he regressed). The Buffalo Bills also got rid of Chan Gailey after three losing seasons so that comes as no shock. With the Bills not making the playoffs since 1999, they carry the longest playoff drought in the league. The $100 million dollar signing of Mario Williams signing didn’t help the expectations as well so he had to go.

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For now, the Arizona Cardinals end the red slip list with the firing of their coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves. Despite making the Super Bowl in 2009, the team could not recover from the Kurt Warner retirement and have been languishing in the bottom ever since despite having Larry Fitzgerald. The GM Graves didn’t help things by trading to get Kevin Kolb and handing him a $63 million dollar contract. Also getting destroyed 58-0 by the division rival Seattle Seahawks didn’t help keep the spotlight off their ineptitude.

So that’s the list so far, I guess we’ll see if we add more names to the list. Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers are probably on the clock as we speak…

Superbowl Sunday: The Preview

Giants (12-7) versus Patriots (15-3) 6:20 ET on NBC (if we’re lucky kickoff will be before 7)

If you have been paying any attention at all to this weeks upcoming Superbowl game between the Giants and the Patriots there are two things you are probably sick and tired of hearing about. The health of Rob Gronkowski and the sequence of events that led up to David Tyree’s amazing catch in Superbowl XLII.

Unfortunately for you, dear reader these are unavoidable topics when it come to analyzing this impending match up.

Revenge. There has been a lot of people predicting that the Patriots have the revenge factor going for them in this game because of the way the Giants ruined their perfect season. While I’m sure there is some serious residual sting from that loss for the Patriots players, it’s a losers lament and something that affects the fan base more than the players. Bill Belichick is not the kind of coach that is going to allow his players to blame anyone other than themselves for getting unexpectedly punched in the mouth by the Giants. The greater motivating factor for this years Patriots team is that the Giants were the last team to beat them this year. The teams are on a combined 15-0 run but as I chronicled before the Pats haven’t played a lot of talented teams and just barely got out of the Baltimore game alive whereas the Giants are gaining momentum at just the right time and have been beating the cream of the NFC.

Rob Gronkowski on the other foot is the other major story of the week. I have no doubt in my mind that the Gronk is going to play in the Superbowl. Whether they numb him up, he just plain guts it out, or he goes out of his mind on cocaine like L.T. used to do in the 80’s, he is going to be on the field this Sunday.The big debate is as to how effective he will be. If the Patriots can drive the field and get into the red zone I feel that Gronkowski with his freakish size will still be an effective end zone threat, a place that he has thrived all season. The Giants should be able to limit his impact on the rest of the field however by jamming him at the line and taking advantage of the fact that his speed should be hobbled.

Vegas has the Patriots listed as favorites giving three points to the Giants however I feel like this is the Gee Men’s game to lose. The Giants are better than the Patriots in every category except Quarterback. The trio of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham is deadly and doesn’t allow defenses to key on any one guy. Big Blue’s running game has been much maligned all season and just hasn’t been the game-changing strength that it has been in previous years but I’m still taking Bradshaw and Jacobs (Thunder and Lightning) over Green-Ellis and Woodhead (The Law Firm and Mighty Mouse) especially the way the Offensive Line has been coming together for the Giants. Both the Patriots and Giants secondary has been questionable all season but now that the Giants are healthy they have this category in the win column and have the extra edge of being able to use more defenders on the strength of what could possibly be the best front four in the NFL.

That leaves us with the last X-factor of the game being Brady versus Manning. When you think of Brady v. Manning the first image that comes to your head is the Elder Manning, but this year he will again be watching from the luxury boxes as Eli battles on the field. In years past this would be a match up that you didn’t even have to really think about. Brady was the better and more consistent Quarterback with all the experience and  swagger to go with it and Eli was the on-again off-again sufferer of the “Manning Face” who could either throw for 350 yards or throw for three picks.

This year we have seen a different Eli. The Manning Face still creeps up from time to time but I have been really impressed with the consistency of Eli’s game this year and last week against the Niners he showed some serious toughness as he shrugged off sack after sack without letting it affect his pocket presence. Tom Brady on the other hand is starting to show a few chinks in the armor and had a self-admittedly horrible game against the Ravens  and there is a reason it’s not the same old Brady versus Manning this year. These guys are getting older and with all the hits and injuries you have to endure it’s hard to have a long career in the NFL. That being said Brady doesn’t have bad games two weeks in a row, he has the backing of one of the greatest game planners in the game with Bill Belichick  and the Patriots won’t make the mistake they made in 2008 of underestimating the Giants.

So who takes home all the enchiladas on Sunday? Homerism aside, sort of,  I am staying with the New York Football Giants. All of the factors seem to be in there favor. The only category the Patriots dominate the Giants in is at TE and their most important TE is hobbled. You can argue successfully that the Pats have the edge at Head Coach and Quarterback but the margin is not that wide. The Gee Men have a great Defense right now and unlike teams who have been carried to Superbowl victories on defense alone, see 2000 Ravens, the Giants also have a great offense. Defense wins Championships but it doesn’t hurt to be able to sling some arrows too. The greatest factor the Giants have going for them is that they are peaking at the right time and that has been the blueprint for winning Superbowls for years now. The Giants rode a similar kind of wave in 2007, the Saints and the Packers did the same thing the last couple years and look for the Boys in Blue to do it again this year. One more thing Patriots fans. Try winning a Superbowl without Adam Vinatieri! The Patriots three Superbowl victories were each decided by three point and two of those were game winners by Vinatieri who has also since won another Superbowl with the Colts.

Final Score: Giants 27, Patriots 20

NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championships

Ravens (13-4) at Patriots (14-3): 3:00 ET on CBS

The last time these two teams met in the playoffs (2009-10) the Patriots lost the game before it really even started. The Ravens came out hungry and utterly dominated the Pats in the first quarter scoring on their first play from scrimmage a 83-yard touchdown from Ray Rice. It was an absurdly lopsided game in which Joe Flacco threw only 10 passes and the Ravens rushed 42 times for 221 yards. Bill Belichick and the Patriots that remain from that season assuredly have that game burned into their memory and likely have seen all too much of that game tape in the study rooms this week. The keys to success for both teams are still very relevant from then to now.

The Ravens need to start strong and use their defense to throw Tom Brady and the Patriots off their game hopefully creating turnovers. They will also need to establish a strong running game in order to bring more balance to their pass attack. Joe Flacco has a much improved receiving core between Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and speedster Torrey Smith. Conversely the Patriots need to control the Ravens run game, limit their turnovers and make Joe Flacco and his mustache beat them.

The Patriots are really a puzzling team. They finally got the playoff monkey off their back by dominating the Broncos for their first playoff win since losing Superbowl XLII. Let’s be honest though, the Broncos are not a good team and if you look at the Patriots schedule it’s been a long time since they played any really good teams.Since their bye week they lost to the Steelers and Giants (2 good teams) and then beat the Jets, Chiefs, Vickless Eagles, Colts, Skins, Bronocs, Dolphins and Bills. Not a lot of good competition in there.

Continue reading NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championships

NFL Playoff Preview: Sunday

Houston Texans (11-6) at Baltimore (12-4): 1:00 ET on CBS

If this game had a soundtrack it would definitely be supplied by Rush because we will be seeing a heavy dose of the ground game from both teams this weekend.

It’s not that Houston and Baltimore are lacking in talented wideouts it’s just that Ray Rice and Arian Foster are that good and Joe Flacco and T.J. Yates are that “just ok”. Rice ran for a leagues second best 1364 yards during the regular season and Foster finished with 1224 yards despite starting the season injured and 153 yards in his first playoff game.

These two teams are actually very similar to each other. They run the ball well, have good defenses, they both have “game manager” quarterbacks who aren’t going to steal the game but also aren’t generally going to kill you either. Houston finished the season in an unimpressive fashion losing to Carolina, Indianapolis and Tennessee respectively but looked much better against Cincinnati in the Wild Card Playoff game. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels have had health issues all season long and their performance will be key in this weeks game in order to balance the Texans running game. Overall Houston seems to be more banged up on both sides of the ball which may wind up being the deciding factor in Sundays big game.

The Ravens have put together another impressive regular season with the only head-scratching loss being to Jacksonville in week 7. The Ravens and Texans met once in the regular season this year, a battle that Baltimore won after 3 close quarters of competition.

The Ravens are no longer the Defensive beast they once were as many of their key defensive players have packed on the years but they were still top four in rush defense, pass defense, yards against and points against so they are certainly still formidable. The greatest difference probably comes in their turnover ratio (+2) which has sunk to its lowest point in Joe Flacco’s career with the team. If the Ravens can limit the Texans running game this team should be good enough to carry them on to a probable Conference Championship versus the Patriots.

Prediction: Baltimore 27, Houston 17

Continue reading NFL Playoff Preview: Sunday

NFL Playoff Preview: Saturday

New Orleans (14-3) at San Francisco (13-3): 4:30 ET on Fox

These are two teams that match up against each other very well and should provide for a pretty entertaining start to the NFL Playoff weekend. The golden rule of NFL playoffs has been that Defense wins championships, and this match up should put a good test to that theory. The Saints have the number one rated pass attack in a season where they averaged 334.2 passing yards per game and Drew Brees shattered Dan Marino’s long-standing passing yard record. The Saints rushing game was solid as well averaging 132.9 yards per game, good enough to be sixth in the league.

The 49ers finished 13-3 with Alex Smith as their Quarterback, throwing for an average of only 183.1 (29th) yards per game. That and the fact that they held opponents to the league’s stinginess 77.2 rushing yards per game tells you enough about the Niners. They are about defense, running the ball and making the most of turnovers. The 49ers defense led the league with a +28 turnover ratio forcing 23 interceptions and 15 fumbles versus 5 of each from their side. Compare that with New Orleans -3 ratio and you can see what one of the major keys of the game is for San Francisco.

At face value and admittedly not having watched the majority of either the Saints or 49ers games I was pretty ready to make the bold prediction that the Niners would shut down the high-flying Saints and win a “we dominated more than the final score illustrates” kind of game. Looking at the regular season games however I may have to give the Saints more credit than I initially thought they deserved.

Continue reading NFL Playoff Preview: Saturday