It appears the honeymoon is over for Chan Gailey and the Buffalo Bills. Just days after Gailey’s hiring, players on the team are already tuning him out, with one veteran reporting that “he has totally lost the team.”
While ownership has yet to comment on the Gailey situation, it appears that his days as Buffalo Bills coach could be numbered.
“Chan has totally lost this team,” said one player, who asked not to be identified. “People just aren’t buying into anything he’s saying. Yes, he just started and he hasn’t really done any coaching and he hasn’t even met most of the players, but there’s a feeling among the team that his message is getting a little stale. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen it happen, except when Cam Cameron was tuned out by the Dolphins before he was even hired.”
One piece of evidence that the Bills have turned on Gailey is the fact that none of the team’s veterans have returned the new coach’s phone calls.
“He’s tried to reach out to some of the veteran guys who have been here a long time and he hasn’t had any luck,” the player said. “It’s not that they don’t respect him or anything. It’s just that they don’t really believe in what he’s trying to do. Or, in the case of Trent Edwards, they’ve never heard of him and thought he was a telemarketer.”
One player who would go on record was wide receiver Terrell Owens. Owens said he didn’t feel Gailey was able to relate to his players and criticized him for refusing to listen to his players’ input.
“Some guys just don't have the ability to communicate well with players and I think that’s what’s happening with Chan,” Owens said on the Dan Patrick radio show. “Plus, he won’t listen to any suggestions. I left him a voice mail saying ‘Get me the ball, motherfker!’ and he never even returned my call. It was Dick Jauron's number, but I assume he's living in the same place. So I’m tuning him out. Usually it’s the coach tuning me out, so I’m turning the tables here.”
New Bills GM Buddy Nix is standing by his head coach, insisting that it’s way too early to judge him on his job performance. He also doesn’t believe he’s losing his players.
“I think that’s bunk. I really do,” Nix said yesterday. “Chan has been our coach for three days and people are already saying he’s lost the team? He hasn’t even had a training camp yet. He’s still moving into his office. In my experience, it usually takes at least one season for a coach to truly lose his players, which would work out fine for us, because about the amount of time we need to convince Bill Cowher to come here.”
The blockbuster free agent summer of 2010 is almost upon us, and rumors are already flying about which NBA players are going where. The latest rumor that has fans buzzing has impending free agents Speedy Claxton and Steve Novak joining forces to play together in 2010.
The powerful pairing could shift the balance of power in the NBA.
“I’m not saying it’s a definite, but it’s something we’ve both talked about,” Claxton told reporters on Monday. “Just thinking about what me and Steve can accomplish together is pretty exciting. That being said, nobody knows what’s going to happen in the summer so it’s really pointless to speculate. Sorry to tease you like this, guys. I’m sure I just caused mass hysteria on the blogosphere.”
Claxton said he isn’t worried about how his legacy would be affected by having to share championships and accolades with another player.
“I don’t worry about those kinds of things,” he said. “I’m fine with sharing the glory with Steve. The only thing standing in the way of this whole thing is the front offices. It’s hard to believe any owner or GM would want to let me and Novie play on the same team together. There will probably be lots of collusion and stuff to prevent it, and who could blame them?”
Adding to the already frenzied Novak-Claxton speculation was Novak’s comment that he and Claxton had already privately committed to playing together in 2010.
“We’ve had conversations. We’ve made plans. I’d say it’s fairly obvious that both of us want to play together,” Novak said of the rumors. “The only thing I wonder: would the crushing media attention and non-stop hype be overwhelming? Probably. But you can’t run from that kind of thing. It’s part of what we do.”
A day later, Novak said he regretted making the comments and vowed not to talk about free agency again for the rest of the season.
“I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth and started all this speculation,” Novak said. “Right now my main focus is on this team and getting us to the playoffs. All this free agent stuff is starting to be a distraction, especially when I go to a place like New York and people are holding up signs and chanting my name. It’s embarrassing.”
The Cincinnati Bengals are hard at work preparing for their upcoming playoff game against the New York Jets but are having trouble finding someone shitty enough to play QB Mark Sanchez in practice, says Coach Marvin Lewis.
So far, the closest they’ve been able to come to mimicking Sanchez poor decision-making, terrible footwork and inaccurate passing has been offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski’s 13-year-old son.
“It’s been a challenge,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “Sanchez is a unique player and it’s very difficult to simulate his particular skill set. We tried using our backup quarterback, J.T. O’Sullivan, but even he possesses a rudimentary knowledge of coverage schemes and blitzes, so he wasn’t the right fit. Right now it’s up to Timmy Bratkowski, who has a fairly similar skill set, though he’s not as much of an airhead.”
Aside from O’Sullivan, the Bengals tried using receiver Chad Ochocinco, fullback Jeremi Johnson, and left tackle Andre Whitworth, but none could match the unique combination of confusion and clumsiness Sanchez has displayed during his rookie campaign.
“Chad was a bit too athletic and aware to play Mark,” said Lewis. “And Jeremi, our fullback, had too accurate an arm. Andre was the closest because he had terrible pocket presence and a frantic, confused demeanor, but he still wasn’t dumb enough to stare down every receiver he threw to. But we knew this was going to be challenging going into it. The one thing we have in our favor is that Mark throws about three passes a game.”
If all else fails, Lewis has suggested blindfolding O’Sullivan and binding his feet together.
“It’s something we’ve thought about,” he said. “But in the end, we’re probably just going to stick with Timmy and take our chances. Everybody basically knows how to defend Sanchez anyway. You load up against the run, take away the short pass, and leave Braylon Edwards wide open in the end zone, praying that he throws it to him.”
Some Bengals players have suggested a different way to simulate the Mark Sanchez experience at quarterback.
“Have somebody stand there and hand the ball off,” said Chad Ochocinco. “That’s all you have to do. We don’t really need to ‘prepare’ for their passing game because it’s basically non-existent. Which reminds me – our quarterback hasn’t been so hot this season either. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Jets were using Mark Sanchez to simulate Carson Palmer.”
In one of the most complex trades in MLB history, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been dealt to the Seattle Mariners for Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay and a collection of prospects. Amaro, who became Phillies GM in 2008, initiated the deal by sending Cliff Lee to the Mariners, but three days and six teams later, Amaro has found himself in Seattle.
“I…don’t know what happened,” Amaro said, calling from what presumes is now his house in the suburbs of Seattle. “I called the Mariners to offer them Cliff Lee for some prospects, which I planned to spin over to Toronto for Roy Halladay, then somehow the Angels got involved, then the Dodgers, then the Oakland A’s, and a few whirlwind days later…here I am. I guess I kind of traded myself to Seattle, if that’s possible. Or not. I really don’t know what the hell just happened. Can somebody please call Pat Gillick?”
According to FoxSports.com, the details of the trade are as follows: Cliff Lee to the Mariners for prospects Phillipe Aumont and Juan Ramirez; Phillies farmhands Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor and possibly J.A. Happ to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay and maybe some cash; Aumont and Ramirez to the Dodgers for outfielder Matt Kemp, who was then sent to Oakland for Brett Wallace, who was flipped back to the Phillies for Amaro.
“Somehow, in all the confusion, in all the phone calls between GMs and assistant GMs, my name ended up in the mix,” said Amaro. “It’s going to take a lot of untangling to figure out where this all went wrong. Hopefully we can reverse the deal and send me back where I belong, but that’s going to be difficult. One piece gets pulled out of this deal and the whole thing falls through. It’s possible that I may just have to stay in Seattle. It’s not bad, I guess. Puget Sound is pretty.”
When questioned, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said he had “no idea” how Amaro ended up on the team’s roster and, in fact, wasn’t sure exactly who the team had acquired in the bizarre, tangled transaction.
“I wish I had a good answer for you,” Zduriencik told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. “I don’t even really know who we got and who we got rid of in this thing yet, to tell you the truth. I was kind of hoping you would tell me. All I know is that we got Cliff Lee. Wait, we did, right? Because if we didn’t we might have to ship Ruben back to Philly to get him.”
The Commissioner’s office has yet to comment on the transaction, but rules state that a general manager cannot be part of such a transaction. However, Rosenthal reports that until the final details of the deal are fully understood, the league probably won’t get involved.
“It’s kind of hard for the league or the union to get involved here since the details of the trade are so hazy,” said Rosenthal. "I will say this: the Mariners got a heck of a personnel man in Ruben Amaro, Jr. He’s one of the sharpest young minds in the game. Also, just as an aside: I broke this story. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. I don’t know what the damn story is quite yet, but I broke it. Kiss my ass, Jon Heyman.”
The stage is set for the nation’s top-ranked teams to face-off in the BCS title game on January 7th. With a month of grueling practice, preparation, and media hype ahead of them, players from both the Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas Longhorns are concerned that the big game will interfere with their school work.
Some, like Alabama running back Mark Ingram, are even considering skipping the game in order to avoid any potential distractions.
“It’s crossed my mind,” said Ingram. “I mean it’s a last resort, but if I have to I will. I have final exams coming up soon. How the heck am I supposed to think about football with that hanging over my head? I am a student-athlete. Student is listed first for a reason.”
Ingram said he would try his hardest to balance both priorities but acknowledged he was “nervous”about finals.
“Professor Guerin’s Psych exam should be a real corker and my English Lit final is going to be even worse," said the Heisman candidate. "Meanwhile, I’ll be going over game plans, watching tape, doing TV interviews, and practicing. Ahh! Stress! I don’t know how other guys do it! I sure hope this football thing pans out for me. Otherwise all this effort will be for nothing.”
Texas players are experiencing similar anxiety as they wonder how they’re going to juggle academics and football. Coach Mack Brown has been attempting to assuage their fears, but it isn’t an easy task.
“These kids are really stressed right now,” Brown said. “They are wondering how in the hell they’re going to play in the biggest football game of their lives while at the same time dedicating the proper amount of time to their studies. I keep telling them that it’s doable. Look at Vince Young. He didn’t have these problems. Then again, he never went to class so he didn’t feel the need to insult the teacher by showing up to final exams.”
Brown said that he would give his players the appropriate amount of time off to prepare and take their exams.
“We’re going to work with the school to make sure these kids have the time they need,” said Brown. “We’re not going to really start practicing in earnest for a couple weeks anyway. Still, even when we’re not practicing, I’m sure they’ll have the game on their minds. My suggestion would be to pretend they’re not playing in a national title game and that they’re just regular loser nobodies like the rest of the student body.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban had a different suggestion for his players: abandon school work entirely.
“I told my kids to put academics on the back burner for now,” said Saban. “I mean, what would you rather do? Pass Professor Poindexter’s English Lit nerd-fest or win the national title? Exactly. And if you win the national title, you can have any job you want in the state of Alabama, regardless of your grades. That’s why Derrick Lassic is our state comptroller right now.”
His name is Rudy Rutgower. He is 18-years old, 5-feet tall and he has a dream: to play college football. While he knows he’s too small to be a starter, the scrappy, never-say-die Rutgower just wants to run on the field for one play. And though he was born and raised in Vandalia, Indiana, the diminutive youngster would prefer to do it at the University of Florida because they’re not as sucky as Notre Dame.
“That’s my dream,” said Rutgower, staring wistfully off into the distance. “I want to run onto the field at the Swamp, get in the huddle, sprint to the line of scrimmage and make a play. I want to feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I hear my name announced. I want to be part of a winning tradition, if only for a brief moment in time. Pride, integrity, victory, respect: that’s what Florida football symbolizes to me.”
Rudy knows he resembles another famous Rudy, the one that was the subject of the hugely popular movie celebrating the allure and mystique of Notre Dame football. Having hailed from a small, unincorporated town near South Bend, he has his share of memories surrounding the Fighting Irish. But, like most youngsters of today, he’d rather have his inspirational, once-in-a-lifetime moment on a team that’s won something since he's been alive.
“Everybody tells me I’m just like the kid from the movie,” said Rutgower. “But the big difference is I’m not a Notre Dame fan. I love the Florida Gators. That’s why I dream of someday taking the field oh, sorry, I should gaze wistfully at the sunset while I say this of someday taking the field with the Florida Gators and making a play while 90,000 fans do the Gator chomp.”
The first part of Rutgower’s dream has already been realized: in August, he was accepted to Florida and is now taking classes toward a degree in business. In his spare time, however, he is maintaining his laser-like focus on the goal of making the Gators practice squad.
“It’s a long shot, but I believe in myself,” said Rutgower. “And when you believe in yourself, you can accomplish all of your dreams. That’s what this great black janitor told me anyway when we were standing in the tunnel under the stadium smoking a fattie. I’ll never forget that. That was some great stuff.”
Rutgower’s story is starting to get national attention. He was mentioned onGood Morning America, as well as ESPN’sFirst Takeand has performed numerous radio interviews to talk about his inspirational quest. Rutgower says he hopes the attention will help him achieve his goal.
“Hopefully Coach Meyer and the powers-that-be here in Gainesville will notice me, notice how much I love the program, notice how small and earnest I am, and be moved to give me a shot,” Rutgower said. “That’s all I want: a shot. My daddy was a coal miner. My momma was a homemaker. I just wanna make them proud. I mean, my daddy was actually an orthodontist, but for the purposes of this story, and the ensuing movie, let’s say he was a coal miner.”
Meanwhile, one program has gotten wind of Rutgower’s story and are willing to give him a shot to make the team: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who will likely have an opening at starting quarterback next season. Rutgower, however, said he’s “not interested” in being the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish.
“Yeah, no thanks. I wouldn’t want that thankless job,” Rudy said. “Being part of this sinking ship, getting punched in public, and generally being the whipping boy for thousands of frustrated fans and boosters? No thanks. I’d much rather run on the field for one play at Florida then be the starting quarterback for Notre Dame.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will undergo tests this week to determine whether or not he should play this weekend after suffering a head injury in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs. While the team says his status is “still up in the air,” Pittsburgh-born neurologist and die-hard Steelers fan Dr. Elliot Beamon said Roethlisberger should “definitely” play.
“Oh yes, absolutely I think Ben should play,” Beamon said in an interview with FOX Sports radio. “I saw the injury and it didn’t look that bad. Just a little bonk on the head. Nothing to be alarmed about. Roll him out there and let the chips fall where they may. Believe me, if they lose to the Ravens, they’ll have a lot more to worry about than Ben’s long term mental health.”
Beamon cautioned against overreacting to head injuries, saying it should be up to the player to determine whether or not he can play.
“I appreciate the league’s new focus on head injuries, but let’s not overreact here,” Beamon said. “If we benched every player that got knocked in the head we wouldn’t even have games on Sunday. That’s why I think the player should be able to decide whether or not to play. Either that or the season-ticket holders. Then the doctors.”
The doctor dismissed claims that he is biased and insisted that his prognosis is rooted in decades of experience dealing with brain traumas.
“Biased? I take great exception to that,” Beamon said. “I took the Hippocratic Oath. I don’t mess around with people’s lives and health. I simply feel that Ben is healthy enough to play and should play. What’s that? No, I haven’t examined him myself. I just have a lot of experience with this kind of thing, and I’m telling you, put the bastard in there and have him drill a fastball right into Ray Lewis’ groin to show that jerk how we do it here in Pittsburgh. Then we'll see who's hurting.”
According to the team, there may be good news on the horizon for Dr. Beamon and his fellow season ticket holders: preliminary tests indicate Roethlisberger has no concussion symptoms and should be able to play on Sunday.
Said coach Mike Tomlin: “He looks good. He feels good. Right now we’re cautiously optimistic. We’re going to wait, though, just to make sure. No game is more important than a player’s brain, except for possibly the Super Bowl and/or conference championship game and/or a game like this one that could potentially lead to an opportunity to play for a conference championship or Super Bowl. After all, brains last 70 or 80 years, championships are forever.”
The Cavaliers entered this season on a mission to finish what they started in 2009. In their quest for a title, they have one crucial factor working in their favor: Lebron James is in a contract year, which should inspire him to really go out there and be productive.
“Lebron, the whole league is watching,” said guard Mo Williams. “If you impress people this year, you cash in next year. That’s what I’ve been telling him, and I think it’s getting through. He knows his future is at stake here. I think he’s gonna turn it up a notch.”
Williams said he remembers his own contract year, in which he put forth maximum effort in every game.
“It was all out, every game trying to prove I was worth bank,” said Williams. “You’ve got to crank it up to 11 for the contract year. That’s when you make your money. For Lebron, he just has to remember that teams are going to pay him based on what he does this year. So what better way to impress them than to win a title? After that, I don’t think anyone can pay him less than the max contract.”
The results are already showing up on the floor. According to teammates, Lebron has displayed a renewed sense of purpose and a laser-like focus this season. Even his coach, Mike Brown, has noticed a difference.
“You can always tell when a guy is in his contract year because he just has that extra burst of energy every night,” said Brown. “That’s great for everybody. It’s making the whole team better. That being said, Lebron will get a max contract next year even if he takes the entire season off to go train with the Taliban.”
For his part, James denies being motivated by anything other than his burning desire to win a championship.
“I’m not trying any harder because it’s my contract year,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. I’ve been trying hard since day one. But coach is right. No matter what I do, I’m getting a max contract anyway and probably a chunk of whichever team signs me. So I’m not trying hard because it’s a contract year. I’m trying hard because I’m a warrior, man and so I don’t reflect poorly on my corporate partners at Nike.”
The NBA announced today that Tuesday, December 21stwill be “Throwback Night” around the league. Fans will be treated to players in throwback uniforms, classic rock and disco blaring from P.A. systems, and broadcasters clad in humorous attire and period wigs.
The biggest change, however, will be evident on the players’arms, legs, and necks: in order to truly capture the vibe of 30 years ago, players will have their tattoos removed.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about for some time now,” said commissioner David Stern on the Dan Patrick Show. “We really wanted to take the ‘throwback night’ concept to some new places and truly be able to capture the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of old-time basketball. As an added bonus, we get to see our players, the guys who represent our league, as regular people instead of vaguely terrifying, inked-up freaks.”
Players will begin the process of having their tattoos removed a week before Throwback Night. Thanks to new technology, the removal should be quick and painless for most players.
“It’s pretty easy nowadays,” said Stern. “They just laser that stuff right off. Piece of cake. Some players, however, may have it harder than others. Take Carmelo Anthony, for instance. He has a lot of tattoos and no amount of modern technology is going to make it easy to get rid of them. It’s going to be a long, grueling day for him – which he’ll probably commemorate with a tattoo when it’s all over.”
Stern said he was “surprised”that the players union agreed to the tattoo-removal plan so quickly. But players say they’re willing to do anything for the league that has treated them so well.
"Hey, if the league wants us to help out with this, I’m cool with it,” said Nuggets guard J.R. Smith. “In fact, I might even leave my tattoos off. I’m getting kind of tired of them anyway. I really miss my arms. They used to be so pristine. Now they look like the side of an abandoned building in the Bronx.”
Indeed, several players have admitted that they will leave themselves tattoo-free even after Throwback Night, including noted tattoo-enthusiast and whack job Chris Anderson.
“This is a big opportunity for me to right some wrongs,” said Anderson. “When I got these tats I felt like I was going to love them forever. But to my utter shock and dismay, I grew older and wiser. Now I finally have an excuse to get rid of them. Sure, I won’t look as eccentric anymore, but at least I’ll still have the retarded hairdo.”
The New Orleans Saints won again on Monday night, running their record to a league-best 7-0 and giving them a commanding lead in the AFC South. Despite that, the team remains determined to stay humble, saying they have a lot of room for improvement and even referring to themselves as the “worst team ever.”
“7-0 doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the Super Bowl,” said quarterback Drew Brees after the game. “And we haven’t won the Super Bowl yet. We haven’t won anything yet. We barely even squeaked out this Monday night win against the Falcons. In fact, I will go so far as to say we are the worst team ever. If we win another game this season I will be shocked.”
Brees refused to acknowledge the stellar play of the offense, calling it “meaningless.”
“The offense? You want me to talk about the offense?” Brees asked one reporter. “Yea, we’ve scored a lot of points so far. Big deal. Defense wins championships. And when it comes to offense, the only number that matters is how many Super Bowl rings you have and right now that number is a big, fat zero. God, I’m so embarrassed. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.”
Coach Sean Payton acknowledges that 7-0 “is a pretty good place to be” but cautioned against overconfidence, saying that the Saints are just another deeply flawed team scratching and clawing for a playoff spot.
“7-0 is better than 0-7,” said Payton. “But this is a long season and you don’t win Super Bowls in November. You win them in February. Everything up until February is completely meaningless.”
Immediately following the victory over the Falcons, coach Payton told his team to enjoy the victory tonight, but be prepared for a hard week of practice and a tough opponent next Sunday in the Carolina Panthers.
“Pat yourselves on the back. You’re 7-0,” Payton said to a roomful of cheers. “But we haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t won a Super Bowl. We haven’t won the conference, division or wild card. We’re nothing. I spit on our accomplishments. See? I just spit all over this game ball, and you know who’s going to get it? Nobody, because you all suck. I’m going to give it to the retarded ball boy because he’s more worthy than you. And better at football, too.”
Payton then stormed out of the room, leaving his team in stunned silence.
“That was a bad one,” said receiver Devery Henderson. “Coach is really trying to keep us humble right now, trying to show us that we still have a lot of work to do. And of course he’s right. We still have a lot of work to do and – say it with me now – we haven’t accomplished anything yet. Yes, you’ve heard this one before, right? I don’t even know why you guys bother talking to all of us. You really just need to get one quote and then attribute it to everyone on the team.”