NetWorks Two-Minute Drill: Week of March 19-25, 2012

THE NETWORKS SPORTS TWO-MINUTE DRILL

Log on to the NetWorks Sports blog every Sunday as we succinctly recap our Top 5 list of events that caught our eye during the week in sports in The NetWorks Sports Two-Minute Drill.  Take two minutes out of your day to get our view on what’s going on both on the field (or court) and in the front-offices!

Top 5 Topics from the Week of March 19-25, 2012

This was a statement week in sports.  Typically when March rolls around, we are focused on  our tournament brackets & mesmerized by some cinderella (see VCU & Butler in 2011) making a run through the Big Dance.  As March Madness rolls along this week & after Peyton Manning finally found a landing place, little did we know that the week of March 19-25 would be would of the most interesting “off-court/off-field” weeks in a long time. Here are the 5 topics in sports that topped our list this week:

5. RGIII & Andrew Luck Thrilled and Impressed Scouts in Pro Days: As we’ve witnessed since the end of the college football season last November/December, many sportswriters and NFL experts have spent the last several months critiquing RGIII & Andrew Luck.  Who is or will be the better quarterback prospect?  Is Luck nothing but Hype?  Is RGIII more than an athletic quarterback?  Is Luck more of an athlete than we think?  While both players did nothing to hurt their status as two very talented quarterbacks, it has seemed like that if you like one of them, you can’t like the other.  After both went through their on-campus Pro Days this week (RGIII on Wednesday and Luck following on Thursday), folks finally have come to the conclusion that they are BOTH extremely talented (and athletic) quarterbacks who (in the right situations) will have very long and successful careers in the NFL.  Both dazzled in their Pro Days as they displayed their arm strength, accuracy, and mobility.  Both showed their very different personalities.  And both showed that there is no reason for us not to believe that they are very deserving to be the #1 and #2 picks in the upcoming April NFL Draft.

4. Roger Goodell & the NFL Impose a Harsh Penalty on the New Orleans Saints: Earlier this month when we heard about a 50,000 page report dealing with BountyGate, it was evident that Roger Goodell and his staff were taking this scandal very seriously.  A statement was going to be sent to owners, executives, and players that things of this nature are simply unacceptable.  While many speculated about the potential penalties, citing the Patriots punishment for illegally taping opponents play calls as a point of reference, most had no idea that the eventual penalties would be so severe.  When the verdict came down on Wednesday afternoon, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Goodell intended to put an end to this practice & send a strong message to anyone who thought otherwise.  The long-term impact is yet to be seen, but there is no doubt that the New Orleans Saints organization will feel the impact of these penalties immediately and potentially for years to come.

3. Tim Tebow Take His Talents to New York: Most will admit that after Peyton Manning decided to take his talents to Big Sky Country and John Elway decided to make Tim Tebow available for a trade, there was little (if any) thought that Tebow would end up in New York.  A realistic landing spot would have been Tampa or his hometown Jaguars.  Maybe even a back-up role under the tutelage of MVP quarterbacks in either New England or Green Bay.  But the New York Jets?  The same New York Jets team that just signed fragile starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to a new deal?  In a surprise move that met some resistance from several Jets players (many of whom refused to go on record but were quoted as being against this move), Coach Ryan seems to have found his back-up QB.  More importantly, Tebow has found the biggest media market in the country to use as a platform for his social initiatives.  One minute the deal was done, the next minute the deal was being held up, but in the end…Tebow is with the J-E-T-S , Jets, Jets, Jets!  Monday’s press conference announcing the team’s new “back-up QB” should be very interesting.

2. Tiger Woods WINS!: It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the red Nike polo shirt walking to the 18th hole with the crowd standing & cheering on a PGA Tour victory.  After over 900 days, Tiger Woods smiled from ear to ear as the drought was ended.  In what has become one of his favorite tournaments, Woods finally brought home the victory after his life and career took a turn for the worse on that early November morning a few years ago.  With a few weeks until the top golfers reconvene at Augusta National, Woods was able to find the greens and find his putting stroke that have failed him miserably up until recently.  He put it all together and held it together to stave off all of the challengers on this weekend as he looks ahead to regain his legendary form.  On a day when four teams were competing for a chance to head to the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans, there was strong evidence that many television sets were tuned into Tiger’s quest for another championship.  Further proof that Tiger winning is still a driving force in the interest in golf.

1.  The Miami Heat Make their Strongest Statement OFF the Court: Heading into this past week, most basketball aficionados would have expected the Miami Heat (and the Big 3) to make their strongest statement this on-court as they headed to Oklahoma City for their first match-up of the season against the Western Conference leading OKC Thunder.  After the Heat suffered an embarrassing 16-point thrashing at the hands of Kevin Durant & his comrades, one would agree that the strongest statement the Heat made this week was the team photo taken in a Detroit hotel on Thursday night.  The photo of 13 of their 15 players donning the “hoodie” on their NBA-issued Miami Heat sweats in support of Trayvon Martin (a teenager killed in what seems to be a senseless crime), was a powerful image that may just have been the strongest message they have sent since coming together during the summer of 2010.  In a volatile week of sports-related news, this easily is the story that will be etched in our memories for months to come.  In fact, Angela has written a blog about how proud she was in this display of social leadership.  Read the blog “When A Miami Heat Photo is Worth (More Than) 1,000 Words” and share your thoughts!

For a “New View from the Sidelines”, tune in to Game Changers Live Wednesday’s at 1:00pm ET/10:00am PT on BlogTalk Radio as the co-hosts cover important topics in the sports world.

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NetWorks Sports Two-Mintue Drill: Week of January 1, 2012

THE NETWORKS SPORTS TWO-MINUTE DRILL

Log on to the NetWorks Sports blog every Sunday as we succinctly recap our Top 5 list of events that caught our eye during the week in sports in The NetWorks Sports Two-Minute Drill.  Take two minutes out of your day to get our view on what’s going on both on the field (or court) and in the front-offices!

Top 5 Topics from the Week of January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!  As 2012 officially rolled in last Sunday, the world of sports remained the focus of many of our attention.  As I rang the new year in down in Scottsdale for the Fiesta Bowl, it was evident that 2012 would start off where 2011 left off…with several intriguing sports stories that promise to make this leap year another phenomenal year comprised of 366 magical days of sports.  Football fans were able to finally enjoy some competitive BCS Bowl games, the NFL playoff picture came into focus, and after a week of lockout affected NBA hoops, fans were enjoying (thanks to a free preview of NBA League Pass) the return of the best basketball players in the world to packed arenas around the country (except in a few markets, those poorly managed markets we speak of often). Here are the 5 topics in sports that topped our list this week:

5. Mike Tomlin proves that winning isn’t everything: While this is tough for Steelers fans to digest hours after a tough playoff loss to a lower-seeded Broncos team, in a culture & era where “winning is everything”, Coach Mike Tomlin continues to impress with his compassion for his players and view of the big picture. Defensive Back Ryan Clark, who has Sickle Cell trait, could have put his life in jeopardy if he opted to play in the high elevation of Denver.  In fact, unknowingly, doing so caused tremendous health issues for Clark a few years ago (in 2007), so Tomlin & the Steelers brass made the decision that Clark would have to sit this game out this week, despite it being a huge playoff battle on the road.  Clark stated this week that he wanted to play in such a huge game, but understands AND appreciates Coach Tomlin making his health a priority.  As witnessed late Sunday evening, Clark’s absence from the Steelers’ defensive backfield (along with solid play by Denver’s offensive and defensive units…and yes, 361 passing yards by Tim Tebow) may have cost the team dearly as his replacement struggled to make critical plays down the stretch.  There’s no doubt that Clark would have loved to have been on the field to impact the outcome of a huge playoff game, but in an age where many subscribe to the win at all costs method, it is refreshing to see why the Steelers organization and its leaders, such as Tomlin, are so well-respected across the sports industry.

4. Clippers continue to fight unwanted perceptions: This week, Blake Griffin (who actually coined the term Lob City when he initially heard about CP3 trade to Clippers being official) and Chris Paul attempted to distance themselves from the term by strongly stating that they are much more than just a team centered on lobs and dunks in transition.  Fearing that Lob City will imply that there is more style than substance (which arguably is a characteristic found in many Los Angeles based situations), the pair have taken to the media to further define what this new Clippers team is about…winning games & competing for Championships.  Seems like there is an identity crisis for LA’s newly appointed trendy team.  Based on the not-so-flattering nicknames fans of NBA hoops have used on the Clippers in the past, you’d think that they actually would be ok with embracing the fact that the Lob City moniker caught on so quickly and is a first step to changing the perception of a downtrodden franchise that had been the laughingstock of the league for years.  Personally, many fans find themselves tuning in to Clippers games because their Lob City exploits and charismatic players are exciting to watch.  More exciting than many of us can even remember!

3. A sports discussion falls back on a debate about race: Terrell Suggs (Ball So Hard University grad) vs. Skip Bayless on ESPN First Take this week!  Ding, Ding, Ding.  In what has previously been a rather mellow back and forth banter during Suggs’ occasional appearances on ESPN’s First Take, this week’s interviews took on an entirely new dynamic when Suggs brought up religious agendas involved in the current obsession with Tim Tebow when they debated Joe Flacco vs. Tim Tebow.  This debate, one of many, furthers the divide many feel in this complicated conversation based on the presence of a religious undertone.  Unfortunately, on the heels of this heated discussion, others began to allude to racial biases involved in the love/hate relationship many have with Tim Tebow.  We discussed it on a recent Game Changers Live radio show and undoubtedly will continue to discuss this very difficult topic.  Ultimately, at least we are having a dialogue about two very sensitive issues: race & religion.

2. She doesn’t “Love this Game”: Serena Williams divulged that she doesn’t love tennis or working out.  ”It’s not that I’ve fallen out of love; I’ve actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete,” she said, according to the website. “I don’t like working out; I don’t like anything that has to do with working physically.”  We won’t see an NBA-like commercial where Serena says “I Love this Game!”, but don’t let this statement diminish her will & desire to be great and/or to win majors.  A lot has happened in Serena’s life, from the death of her sister to serious injuries, but through it all, when the lights & cameras of a major tennis tournament are on…she tends to bring out her passion for winning better than most.  Her display of honesty and candor should not have any impact on what we have come to expect when she laces up her Nike’s, puts on an outfit that will be critiqued, and stares across the net at her opponent.  If that ankle she injured last week heals properly, we should all tune in to the Australian Open to witness her greatness.

1.  “We Are Penn State” and we want to be heard: Amid the ongoing debate surrounding the Penn State scandal, proud alum of the PSU Football program took to the airwaves to air the utter frustration with the “new” direction the administration is taking.  LaVar Arrington, who has a unique platform to air his disdain on a DC-based radio show, was the loudest of many alum voicing their opinions on the hire.  At a time when every move made by the Penn State brains trust will be scrutinized, it was especially alarming when the pride and unity that this university has displayed for decades began to crumble over yet another decision that was perceived as disloyal.  Administration should certainly have appeased powerful alums by at least involving a committee of former players in the interview process (just based on the situation). Dallas Cowboys linebacker and Penn State alum, Sean Lee (a soft spoken leader), put out a statement on Sunday acknowledging that he (along with the others) had hoped for a member of the PSU family to have the opportunity to follow in Paterno’s footsteps, but ultimately encouraging his fellow alums to support the new regime.  That along with Bill O’Brien’s letter to the alum should help to calm down the madness and allow those who care the most about this program to start moving forward during a difficult time.

For a “New View from the Sidelines”, tune in to Game Changers Live Wednesday’s at 1:00pm ET/10:00am PT on BlogTalk Radio as the co-hosts cover important topics in the sports world.

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The NetWorks Sports Two-Minute Drill: Top 5 Moments This Week in Sports (12/11/11)

THE NETWORKS SPORTS TWO-MINUTE DRILL

Log on to the NetWorks Sports blog every Sunday as we succinctly recap our Top 5 list of events that occurred during the week in sports in The NetWorks Sports Two-Minute Drill.  Take two minutes out of your day to get our view on what’s going on both on the field (or court) and in the front-offices!

Top 5 Moments from the Week of December 5, 2011

With NBA executives rushing to get ready for training camps, Baylor winning its first Heisman Trophy, and the BCS Championship game set, this week was a fairly active one across the sports world.  But at the end of the day, the week will forever be remembered for another act of God from David Stern and a brawl that filled Twitter timelines.  Here are the 5 moments that topped our list this week:

5.  While there could be an argument for Novak Djokovic being the Sportsperson of the Year, Sports Illustrated certainly selected two very deserving individuals for the honor when they named Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.  Two of the winningest basketball coaches in NCAA Division I history and two of the classiest individuals in the industry. The respect that they have from their current & former players is a strong indication of why they deserve the honor.

4.  In a weekend with a heavy focus on hoops, Indiana Men’s Basketball (under the leadership) of Coach Tom Crean) has restored balance to MBB.  Since Bob Knight’s departure, there hasn’t been this much excitement about the program in Bloomington and after the amazing buzzer-beater on Saturday evening, basketball purists around the country couldn’t be happier to see this program back in the national spotlight.  What a scene it was at Assembly Hall as students, alumni, and fans stormed the floor to celebrate an improbable victory.  In all honesty, something just wasn’t right about not having the Hoosiers competing for an NCAA title, and while this may not be THE year for this team to return to the Final Four…a return to the Championship conversation is surely imminent!

3.  The unfortunate events of the crosstown rivalry between Xavier and Cincinnati will certainly be one of the events that will be remembered this week.  One of the best things about college athletics (or athletics in general) is the great rivalries that have been created over the years and this hoops match-up is certainly one of the best rivalries around.  Unfortunately, over the years it seems as if the rivalry has extended beyond the court and outside of the 48 minutes of quality basketball that fans have come to enjoy.  Early this week on Twitter (yes, social media plays a bit part in this) apparently some UC players made comments that incited the Xavier players, so before the jump ball, tensions were high.  In what ended up to be a less than competitive game on the court escalated into a brawl that is an embarrassment to all involved in sports.  In the end, the two coaches seemed to handle it very well in their press conferences.  Both letting out their raw emotions and feelings of disappointment in the behavior of their players.  Mick Cronin was lauded for his strong words in fact.  Unfortunately, as of Sunday afternoon, the discipline that had been determined was less than many thought it would be with some players receiving 6 game suspensions (which would allow them to play the majority of the conference season). We’re still not sure of what the conferences and/or NCAA will do, but something has to be done as college athletics seems to be getting out of control.

2.  After months of hype and hoopla surrounding Andrew Luck (everyone’s frontrunner for the 2011 Heisman Trophy), Baylor’s Robert Griffin III proved that it does pay dividends to play on the final Saturday of the regular season in college football.  There were at least 7 or 8 legitimate candidates for the Heisman this year including Boise State’s Kellen Moore, USC’s Matt Barkley, and Houston’s Case Keenum, but in the end RGIII’s incredible statistical display, capped off by a win over the rival Texas Longhorns was too much for heavy favorites Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck to overcome as they and their teams were left to watch the SEC & Pac-12 Championship games on television on the final weekend.  Luck had an incredible career as he led the resurgence of a Stanford program that few believed would ever be in the national championship conversation and would certainly have been the perfect individual to represent the proud Heisman Trust.  As would Richardson who help to lead his Alabama team back to the BCS Championship Game.  Instead, Griffin took his Superman socks and the entire Baylor Nation to Broadway & stole the show with a very touching speech…”…an unbelievable believable moment!”

1.  David Stern set off a domino effect that could alter the course of the upcoming NBA season when he (“independently” and without influence from owners around the league) decided to nix a 3-team trade (between New Orleans, Houston, and the Lakers) that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.  That singular move not only handcuffed the Hornets brass & General Manager Dell Demps, but it also put several other significant trades and free-agent moves on hold (most likely eventually canceling the moves).  As a result, all heck has broken loose.  Players like Deron Williams and Danny Granger have denounced Stern for being a bully, a revised trade between the Lakers & Hornets feel apart late Saturday night, and several NBA rosters are still in flux with only two-weeks to go before the lockout shortened season starts on Christmas Day.

For a “New View from the Sidelines”, tune in to Game Changers Live Wednesday’s at 1:00pm ET/10:00am PT on BlogTalk Radio as the co-hosts cover important topics in the sports world.

Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter!