Archive for January, 2010

Thoughts on Tiger Woods

January 12, 2010

As a preface to what I’m about to write, I want to just say that I have had tremendous respect for Tiger Woods and his golfing talents over the years. I consider him the best golfer in history by a comfortable margin. And despite not liking his personality a whole lot over time, I began to warm to him over the last few years mostly because I grew to appreciate more and more just how uniquely talented he is.

CBSSPORTS.com’s Steve Elling has a good article on how this whole story is a duping of epic proportion. Many, many, many fans, AND ESPECIALLY THE MEDIA, drank the Tiger Woods Kool-Aid for years. Many marveled at his uncanny tranquility in the face of massive pressure, his ability to craft fantastic shots few others could imagine let alone execute and his ultra-cool-got-absolutely-everything-going-for-me persona. He is one of very few athletes recognized in every corner of the world and he’s achieved this level of fame both from great branding of his image and his other-worldly golf talents. It is positively staggering that he’s fallen from the lofty status he’s enjoyed to the point where people are wondering if he can now handle this public and private humiliation.

For years now golf broadcasts have devoted 70-80% of their on-air coverage time to either live action of Tiger, replays of Tiger or other information on Tiger. Look, I understand the argument “but the market demands showing Tiger a lot – it’s good for ratings”. My counterargument is simple – fine, but what if he gets hurt (like last year – ratings plummeted) or what if he does something crazy like massively cheat on his totally hot wife?

Starting from the beginning (which by the way, was 1996, in Milwaukee), the PGA Tour and network broadcast teams should have had a more sensible long-term business plan that would have carefully kept its focus on a larger core of elite players and up and comers – never giving into the temptation to just go all-out-Tiger. It should have done a much better job of helping us get to know the competition, because if nothing else this would have helped demonstrate even more profoundly, just how good Tiger is. It should have better distributed its overall focus to the game, the courses, the history of tournaments and the unique international nature of the game. Sure, they have touched on all of these things, but the all-out-Tiger temptation turned out to be too much. One example that burns in my memory happened this past year. Madison, WI’s own Steve Stricker had an eagle putt to tie the lead in a big tournament not long ago and instead of showing this critical putt, the broadcast showed Tiger Woods warming up on the practice tee for about 4-5 minutes – never showing Stricker’s monster eagle putt. That to me was a classic example of putting an individual player over the game itself.

In a way, the Tiger Woods’ led evolution of golf has been similar to the evolution (devolution?) of the NBA – over-marketing of the star players leading to a diminished level of respect for the other players and the game. The difference here is that the PGA Tour has had such a singular focus on one player – putting nearly of all its eggs in one basket. The NFL brushes with this sometimes too with superstar marketing, but fortunately, so many players and coaches contribute to a given victory that most fans won’t totally buy into TOO much single-player hype (which partly explains the backlash against the telecasts that become shameless lovefests of one player…like Favre.) Anyway, the PGA Tour decided to heavily invest in the Tiger Woods brand and I’m afraid they are going to pay now.

While I must admit I was somewhat surprised to learn about Tiger’s “transgressions” as most were, I wasn’t totally shocked and here’s why. Lots of folks consider Woods a confident and gifted person who enjoyed a strange level of privacy for someone of his profile. While I also see him that way to some extent, I don’t think “confident” is the right word to describe him. Over the years, judging from the hundreds of interviews I’ve watched and the thousands of golf articles I’ve read, Tiger Woods has shown himself to be, in my opinion, not just confident, but suffocatingly arrogant. This arrogance is part of what makes him so dominant. I chose the expression “suffocatingly arrogant” because what Tiger does to opponents is suffocate them with his massive golf confidence until they…choke. It’s happened time and time again – until, ironically, this year at the PGA Championship against YE Yang who just plain beat Tiger on the pressure-packed final hole.

But I would submit that his suffocating arrogance is what brought him to this point in his life. I understand everyone makes mistakes and that due mostly to the media, high profile types face lives of much greater scrutiny. But for Tiger Woods to think he could pull off these affairs smacks of a borderline delusional kind of arrogance. So again, while I’m surprised he wasn’t more careful because he strikes me as having a similar personality to his father – super-controlling of all situations – it’s not totally shocking that he would think he’s untouchable.

How embarrassing for Tiger and how sad for golf. I will not stop admiring Tiger Woods for his insane golf talent, but my admiration for him as a person has experienced significant bruising.

UPDATE: I didn’t realize I had posted this until I came in this morning and read Schaefer’s comment! I had been working on it, but thought I hit “save draft” instead of “publish”. I was going to post this as the golf season warmed up. Oh well, despite the odd timing of it, here it is.

Rex Ryan – classless jerk

January 12, 2010

Rex Ryan is an assclown. The following comments are from Ryan who was pissed Darrelle Revis didn’t win the Defensive Player of the Year award. Jerk.:

“A number that I think is interesting is eight.  No, that’s not the amount of touchdown passes Green Bay gave up against Arizona.  That’s the amount of touchdown passes we gave up all season.  The biggest reason for that is Darrelle Revis.”

And then this:

“I wasn’t going to comment on it,” said Ryan. “You know what I would like? I would like to congratulate the people who voted for Darrelle Revis, those guys obviously really know the game.”

As I’ve said before, in a gracious, classy way – Revis had an incredible season and deserved to be a part of this discussion. No question. But no single defensive player changed games this year more than Charles Woodson. He was the best defensive player in the NFL and deserves this award. Meanwhile, Rex Ryan deserves to lose by 30 this weekend.

Woodson Defensive Player of the Year

January 12, 2010

Read here. Charles Woodson deserves this award. I also think Darrelle Revis definitely deserved to be in the conversation considering the long list of top flight WRs he absolutely shut down this year. The difference between Revis and Woodson though, as we’ve pointed out before, is that Woodson is simply a more complete player. I would not reject arguments that Revis may in fact be as good as Woodson, and that he may in fact be somewhat limited by the defensive scheme in which he plays (limiting him to strict coverage of #1 WRs). But the fact is, Woodson dominated his opponents by making both traditional cornerback plays (league-leading 9 picks and 3 returns for TDs, tons of solid tackles), and non traditional cornerback plays (matching up with TEs, forcing fumbles, making game-changing goal-line tackles on RBs, pressuring the QB, etc). Charles Woodson was so involved in so many huge plays this year that without him, the Pack might very well have lost several more games than they did.

Aaron Rodgers, not one to overstate things, put it best a few weeks ago when he said he’s never seen anyone play football in person as well as Charles Woodson. Ever.

On the Facemask and Aaron Rodgers

January 12, 2010

A terrific piece by Jason Wilde, now with ESPN Milwaukee, on the game yesterday and the missed facemask call at the end. As Wilde notes, the non-call has been the subject of a rather intense national debate — from posts at PFT to discussions on several ESPN shows and talk radio.

It is certainly the case that the Packers did a lot to lose. And I’m certainly sympathetic to the argument that it doesn’t do much good to dwell on blown calls. But it’s also indisputable that several questionable calls affected the outcome of the game — two potential offensive pass interference calls on Larry Fitzgerald on plays that resulted in touchdowns, a horrendous roughing the passer called on Cullen Jenkins and, on the last drive, the missed helmet-to-helmet hit by Bertrand Berry and the facemask on Michael Adams. And it’s worth spending a moment on the last one.

Wilde quotes former NFL referee Bill Carollo, who now heads officiating for the Big Ten — a job that requires him to review and evaluate refs for a living. Carollo was interviewed by Steve The Homer True.

“Certainly (Adams) made contact, dislodged the ball, and continued and hit the quarterback. He did get him in the facemask; you can’t hit him above the shoulders with anything,” said Carollo, who watched the game on television. “In this case, probably a personal foul could’ve been called on that play. (Green) didn’t necessarily rule that it was a pass, so it couldn’t be roughing the passer, but he could have an unnecessary roughness on that play for grabbing the facemask…

“If a penalty was called on that play, you’d have to throw the flag, and then determined, when did the foul occur? That makes a big difference in this case because it’s really close,” Carollo explained. “In this case, though, when the facemask was grabbed, the ball was still loose, which means it was still in the Packers’ possession. So they have not lost possession. The foul happened before the ball was recovered in the air. If the foul happened after the fact, and the Arizona player had the ball, then Arizona would keep the ball with the penalty assessed from that spot.

“In this case, I believe the penalty occurred before Arizona recovered the ball in the air, so it would be a previous-spot foul: 15 yards from the previous spot.”

That means the Packers would have had the ball first-and-10 at their own 39-yard line.

Most interesting, though, were the comments that Aaron Rodgers made.  He told reporters that he didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the non-call on the last play.

I get paid to play. There’s always going to be one or two plays in the game where you wonder if there should have been a call or should not have been a call, but those are out of my control. The things I worry about are things I can control. I made some mistakes in the game, those are the ones I’m thinking about, not a potential facemask.

The one play I was thinking about laying in bed last night was the first play of overtime. Unfortunately, (I) just missed Greg on that one. That could have ended the game, potentially.

I’m glad he thought about that one and didn’t go whining publicly about the blown call.  But I hope he forgets it quickly, too.

Game Thoughts

January 10, 2010
  • Usually I wait a day to write my game thoughts, but they’re fresh and I feel like I need to get them out right now.
  • I’m profoundly sad. We played hard and the offense was phenomenal bringing the team back from the dead.
  • The defense was terrible. We got absolutely used by Kurt Warner and the AZ offense. Used. It was embarrassing. We didn’t adjust at all during the game and we just got used. I think this game exposed Capers and the fact that we may have been the #2 defense because we played against terrible opposing offenses this year.
  • Hate to be like this – but AZ was given at least 8 points by the officials (both of Fitzgerald’s TDs should have been negated by offensive pass interference calls  – but they probably would have gotten at least FGs, so 8 points). This is no small thing. All year, I have been ticked at officials changing the course of games and they changed this game. Sure we should have adapted anyway, but if your job is to make calls, you CANNOT miss these incredibly blatant offensive interference. That’s their only responsibility – to make calls. I am aboslutely positive that if this same game had been played in GB, Fitzgerald would not have gotten away with throwing Woodson to the ground. (The second one was particularly egregious as Fitzgerald changed the path of his route to knock Woodson down – it was so obvious I feel like puking as I write about it.)
  • I love that Mike McCarthy made in-game adjustments offensively at least. I like that he decided on the onside kick and went for it on that critical 4th down in there. He showed guts today. If we hadn’t been playing from behind for so much of the time, I would fault McCarthy for not running more to keep AZ’s offense off the field (Grant averaged 6 yards a carry).  But we were behind and the fact was simple: AZ couldn’t stop our passing game at all (ironically until the final play). Overall, I’d have to say I’m pleased with how McCarthy ran the offense that put up 45 points.
  • One thing I do wonder about though is at what point McCarthy should have shut Dom Capers down and simply taken over the defense. McCarthy is the head coach and it was clear to everyone watching that his D coordinator couldn’t handle his duties today. Whenever you give up 45 points to an opposing offense, your D coordinator might as well be crapping on the toilet the whole time – Capers was useless today. But again, at what point would it have been appropriate for McCarthy to just take over?
  • AJ Hawk, Barnett and even Chillar were exposed today. Our corners were too. But the middle of the field as reader Schaef (and Whisenhunt at halftime) pointed out, was wide open. Multiple WRs and TEs had some big catches over the middle for AZ today when they needed yards.
  • Bigby’s injury hurt us today. Yes, he was bad today and our D was bad with him in there. But he was out for the final critical part of the game. I still think acquiring the phenomenal Jim Leonhard in the 2009 offseason would have been smart. (Was Derrick Martin’s absence felt today – I believe Matt Giordano was the #3 safety option and he had to go in when Bigby went down.)
  • Kurt Warner played one of the greatest playoff games by a QB in NFL history. 29/33 for 379 yards and 5 TDs. Like him or now, his performance was absolutely unbelievable and after time to digest what’s happened – I think this game will be remembered by his undeniably good performance. As a spectator, I have to say, Kurt Warner can be, at times, the best QB ever when he wants to be. He had a pass tonight to Breaston over Tramon along the sidelines on that last drive that was an absolutely perfectly thrown ball. An inch in any direction and it’s a drop or a broken-up pass. But he put it just where he needed to. I hate praising the other team ever, but Kurt Warner was absolutely incredible today.
  • Jermichael Finley is the best TE in the NFL. I honestly think there is no question about this.
  • Rodgers was great today – that last play was unfortunate.
  • In the end, and I hate saying this, the Pack was particularly unlucky today.
  • I am NEVER happy with a loss. And I am seething right now that we lost to a team I am convinced we are superior to. However, I am proud of our guys for making it to the wildcard round and proud of our guys for coming back from a 14 point deficit early on.
  • The score of the AZ/NO game might be 64-58 (New Orleans).

Hardest part…

January 10, 2010

Was that if Rodgers makes a good pass on that first pass to Jennings, we win the game.

Damnit, this one hurts.

Hate to be sour-grapes like, but that Rodgers was hit in the face there

January 10, 2010

That was a facemask or illegal hands to the face. The ball came out right around that time, but at the least, that was a facemask on the return for a TD then.

Woodson even good at calling coin flips

January 10, 2010

May be most important coin flip in my life

January 10, 2010

That was dumb by AZ

January 10, 2010

I don’t get that call. Man, was that a bad kick. Let’s go OT baby!


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