Week 3 Picks & General Sentiments Towards the No Fault League

Roger Goodell

MIAMI – FEBRUARY 02: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks with the media during a press conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center on February 2, 2007 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Roger Goodell

 

Jim Armstrong:

With each passing day I’m finding myself more and more disgusted with the National Football League. Rory Goulding was incredibly accurate and prescient in his assessment of Roger Goodell’s 8-year reign over the NFL in last week’s Thursday picks post: he’s been dreadful as the league’s commissioner.

Let’s rewind the clock nearly two years to December 2012. At this time Goodell appointed Paul Tagliabue, his former boss and commissioner of the NFL from 1989 – 2006, to oversee the Saints players’ appeals who had been implicated and subsequently suspended for their involvement in ‘Bounty Gate.’ Goodell tapped a man who at the time had been retired for 6+ years to clean up the mess that he had created with his swift and heavy-handed penalties to Saints players. To me this was a huge red flag that Goodell couldn’t handle the rigors of being commissioner of such a nuanced and complicated operation as the National Football League.

I was reminded of Roger Goodell’s utter ineptness and potentially ill-intentioned motives when I read deeper into the 2007 Spy Gate scandal. In the months and years leading up to 2007, the New England Patriots organization had engaged in illegal behavior that involved filming their opponents walk throughs and practices. The following passage from Jon Wertheim in Sports Illustrated provides an illuminating view into just how negligent Goodell was in meting out punishment in the Spy Gate scandal (sound familiar Saints fans?). Below is a passage from Wertheim’s article on SI.com (bolded area of text is edited).

The scandal broke Sept. 9, 2007 when Eric Mangini turned whistleblower during a regular-season home game against the Patriots. Mangini, the then-second-year coach of the New York Jets and a former New England assistant coach under Bill Belichick, notified the league about how the Patriots’ clandestine in-game videotaping violated Article IX, Section 9.1(c)(14) of the NFL constitution and bylaws.  League security officials swooped in to confiscate the camera and videotape of Matt Estrella.  Four days after Mangini’s revelations, Goodell meted out his punishment — a total of $750,000 in fines and the loss of at least one draft pick.  Goodell described the scandal as a “calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field.”  This was prior to NFL executives traveling to Boston on Sept. 17 to actually review the tapes and notes provided by the Patriots.

Wertheim concludes the post by asking the simple questions:

1) Does Goodell’s inability or unwillingness to obtain and secure evidence result from a deliberate attempt to maintain plausible deniability in connection with the scandals?

Or:

2) Does Goodell’s willful blindness result from a blend of incompetence and negligence?

Goodell embodies everything that is wrong with the NFL. The league has become too engrossed in its vice-like grip it has on a huge percentage of the US population. The power hungry czars that run the league office at times no longer have the best interests of the league in mind. Their core goal is to continue to generate more profits for the league’s cavernous coffers (does this sound familiar for anyone who has been following the very politicians that are supposed to support their people across the United States?).

The NFL players are not helping the league’s cause and certainly not generating more fan loyalty and passion for the players. As I wrote this column, I noticed on ESPN.com that Jonathan Dwyer has been arrested and subsequently de-activated from the Arizona Cardinals due to allegations of aggravated assault involving a 27-year old female and an 18-month year old child in July.

Frankly, Sports Illustrated anchor Maggie Gray’s 2-minute video questioning her career path during the last decade covering the NFL encapsulates precisely how I feel about the NFL at this moment in time.

Now onto my pick for tonight (this feels hollow and anticlimactic but we plan to make weekly picks, regardless of the state of the NFL). I’ll take Falcons at home, 31-17 over the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Falcons are coming off a tough loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and with a win the Falcons go up at least two games on the Saints, who are 0-2.

The Bucs look lost on offense and suffered a complete collapse last week versus the Saint Louis Rams, in which they lost on a last minute field goal. Doug Martin is listed as questionable and if he plays, he will be limited. Look to Bobby Rainey to get the bulk of the carries on the heels of his 144-yard rushing output last week. His effort won’t be enough to topple the Falcons, who seek to wrest control of this division in the season’s first month.

 

Rory Goulding:

It’s going to be pretty hard to follow that up, but I’ll certainly try.

Despite what I said last week about Goodell, he’s still the commissioner of my favorite league in all of sports, and as much as I hate to say this, it looks like he isn’t going anywhere soon.  I don’t want to keep piling on, because like you, all I’ve heard over the last few weeks is literally everyone climbing onto their soapbox to talk about the NFL.

Micheal SpurlockI just need to file one more complaint. Just one more and then I’m done, I promise. Due to a bizarre new rule implemented last season, the Buccaneers won’t be donning their amazing “creamsicle” uniforms (seen on the left) any time in the near future. That, my friends, is a complete travesty. Those uniforms are the BEST throwback uniforms, not just in the NFL, but in ALL OF SPORTS. Seriously, anytime your uniform is compared to a delicious summer treat, you win. There’s just no room for argument there, sir, it’s a fact.

Speaking of uniforms, whoever was the idiot person behind this year’s new Bucs jerseys must either be a secret spy for Vince McMahon and the WWE or just completely out of touch with the history of the XFL. If you’re too lazy to click that link, or you just don’t care, let me give you a quick synopsis of what the XFL is. Basically, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) president Vince McMahon formed his own football league and it only lasted one year, because, well, a wrestling company tried to create its own football league. You don’t really need another reason to know why it failed. Anyway, the new Bucs uniforms look surprisingly similar identical to those of the XFL’s San Francisco Demons. I’m pretty sure the conversation went something like this:

“So, guys, here are our new uniforms for this upcoming season.”
“Wow, those look eerily similar to ones used in the XFL.”
“Exactly the point.”
“That’s genius! And how about we sign Josh McCown for $10 million?”
“Definitely!”
“Okay, cool. Let’s go huff some more glue.”

Just to recap: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are no longer allowed to wear the greatest throwback uniforms of all time1, and instead they added a new jersey that’s almost indistinguishable from that of a football team created by a f$^%ing wrestling organization! If that’s not a bad sign for your season, I don’t know what is.

So why would anyone pick Tampa Bay tonight? Here’s one reason: Atlanta’s run defense. Last season, Bucs running back Bobby Rainey rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns in his only game against the Falcons, Matt Ryanscoring a third time on a pass from (then-starting quarterback) Mike Glennon.2 Things haven’t gotten much better for Atlanta, which ranked 31st in the NFL against the run last season, as they’ve given up an average of 154.5 rush yards per game through the first two weeks of this NFL season.

Still, in 49 regular season home games, Matt Ryan has only lost 12 times. And since 2008 (Ryan’s rookie season), the Bucs have come to Atlanta seven times, winning only once. Gerald McCoy, the Bucs All-Pro defensive tackle, is questionable for tonight’s game with a broken hand and Josh McCown is still their starting quarterback. That by itself is enough to sway me.

Atlanta Falcons 34, San Francisco Demons Tampa Bay Bucs 16.

 

 

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