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Jim Harbaugh Says There’s No Hostility with Pete Carroll

When Jim Harbaugh accepted his position as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, one aspect of the news that had me most excited was the continuation of the Harbaugh-Pete Carroll rivalry that was established in the Pac-10. In Harbaugh’s four years at Stanford, he went 3-1 against USC, including a 2-1 head-to-head record against Carroll.

The 2007 win by Harbaugh’s Cardinal was shocking; Stanford was only a 4-8 team and USC was over a 40-point favorite, but the Cardinal nonetheless stunned the Trojans in the Coliseum winning 24-23. Carroll made up for the loss the next year with a 45-23 win at the Farm, but Harbaugh got revenge in 2009 — Carroll’s last season with USC. Stanford didn’t just win that game, they ran up the score to 55-21.

After Carroll got a taste of what he had been doing to the rest of the Pac-10 the previous five years, he infamously asked Harbaugh during their handshake “What’s your deal?” Harbaugh responded with “What’s your deal?” The result was one of the most humorous post-game exchanges between two coaches, and a brilliant ticket plan by Stanford.

Unfortunately, despite what you may be thinking, Harbaugh says there’s no beef with Carroll. According to The Seattle Times, when asked about Carroll, Harbaugh said “Professional. No hostility. Competitive when we coached against each other in college, and I anticipate it will be competitive as we go forward playing each other twice a year. But genuine respect for the job that he does.”

So what do you think? Is Harbaugh just playing nice, or do you think things are smoothed out? If I know Harbaugh at all, he’s dying to beat Carroll, and vice versa. He’s just being p.c., that’s my guess.

Sorry Cleveland Browns Apply Franchise Tag to Kicker Phil Dawson

Since returning to Cleveland in 1999 after a three-year absence, the Browns have only enjoyed two winning seasons. As if having two winning seasons and ten losing seasons in 12 years isn’t bad enough, nine of the 10 losing years were double-digit defeat seasons. Simply put, other than a miracle 10-6 year in 2007, the Browns have been pathetic.

Perhaps nothing indicates the hopelessness of the sad franchise than their front office move on Tuesday afternoon: the team announced it was applying its franchise tag to kicker Phil Dawson, as LBS contributor Aaron pointed out.

It’s not that paying a kicker decent money is a bad idea. It’s not that having a really good, consistent kicker is a bad thing either. It’s that using your franchise tag on a kicker means that you don’t have enough talent at the other more valuable positions to warrant protecting them from the free agent market. And that’s a problem.

This reminds me of a fantasy baseball team I took over several years ago. It was a keeper league and the team had just finished last, so there was very little to choose from. I ended up franchising K-Rod even if closers only account for one fantasy category just because the other choices were uninspiring. Having good closers help you win fantasy baseball, but if those are your only keeper options you know you’re in trouble.

Nothing could have the poor state of the Browns more than their decision Tuesday. Good luck Pat Shurmur, you sure have your work cut out for you.

Tim Tebow Focusing on Practicing, Not Commercials (but Book Promotion is OK)

Tim Tebow’s work ethic and practice habits are quite impressive. Watching his Year of the Quarterback documentary on ESPN, you could see how hard he works to improve his play. The former Heisman Trophy winner worked hard to prepare for the draft, and then he continued his strong practice efforts throughout his rookie season. He ended up starting the final three games for the Broncos, going 1-2.

The second-year quarterback will have a lot to prove next season because John Elway said three weeks ago the team currently would have Kyle Orton starting. Good thing for Tebow that he’s been focusing solely on football instead of lending his name to every product that comes along and becoming an endorsement whore, like Peyton Manning.

During an interview with The Florida Times-Union to promote his autobiography Through My Eyes (pre-order here) which is due out in May, Tebow explained why he doesn’t do too many commercials. “I have my priorities in a certain order,” he said. “I just don’t have the time right now to do a lot of commercials and ads.”

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LenDale White to Pete Carroll: F*** You

LenDale White is still pissed off at the world — especially you, Pete Carroll.  Remember when White unloaded on Carroll a few months ago after the Seahawks cut him?  It would seem he’s still mad about that and a lot of other things.  In fact, there aren’t very many people in the world LenDale likes at the moment.

TMZ caught up with the not-so-successful Broncos running back during All-Star Weekend and asked him about the new Concept 1 shoes that have been banned in the NBA because of what they are made with.  White did what any normal person would do and responded by giving the world a big “f*** you.”  You can check out the video here.  This is just a guess, but he seemed hammered to me.  Here’s what LenDale had to say about the sneakers:

If it ain’t Chauncey Billups or Kobe Bryant … f*ck ‘em. Or if it ain’t the Denver Broncos or Chris Johnson … f*ck ‘em. Or D-Byrd … or the Trojans … minus Pete Carroll — f*ck you.”

That’s exactly how I feel about the Concept 1 sneaker situation.  Screw Pete Carroll.

Mark Schlereth: Mike Shanahan Is a Control Freak

An NFL coach needs to be in control at all times, especially in this day and age. There are dozens of assistant coaches, offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, and positional specialists, but it’s always important to have someone sitting at the top of the food chain. But how much control is too much? According to Mark Schlereth, look no further than Mike Shanahan and you’ll find the answer.

Schlereth shared his thoughts about the coach he played six seasons and won two Super Bowls under on Mike and Mike in the Morning on Friday, via Pro Football Talk. “I would say the one criticism I have is a lot of times he’s such a control freak that he doesn’t allow his coaches to coach,” Schlereth said. “I think that’s an issue. You have to have a system of checks and balances where you can argue, you can fight and you can say, ‘We’re not going to do it that way.’ I don’t know that he still has that in the place that he is now, or at the end of his tenure in Denver.”

There is certainly evidence to support Schlereth’s claim.  We all know Albert Haynesworth is a piece of work, but Shanahan has done things like bench the defensive tackle for being a minute late to practice and give up on Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter of a close game — moves that probably haven’t helped improve team chemistry for the Redskins.  Changing quarterbacks in a close game can’t exactly make life easier on the offensive coordinator, but that’s okay because Washington’s OC is Shanahan’s son.

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Denver Broncos Fans Organize Champ Bailey Rally

Cornerback Champ Bailey just completed his 12th season in the NFL. He was drafted by the Redskins and got traded to Denver straight up for Clinton Portis, and he’s spent the past seven seasons with the Broncos. Bailey was named to the Pro Bowl every single year in the past decade except for the 2008 season when he got hurt, and he’s a three-time All-Pro. Now, the defensive back’s contract has expired making him a free agent.

Champ has already spoken in a subtle way, placing his Colorado home for sale. Perhaps Bailey’s action sparked movement within the Denver front office, because John Elway said Thursday the team was working on a new contract for Champ. Another group that wants its voice heard is the fans, and they’ve planned a rally for Sunday to show their support of Bailey.

Predominantly Orange brought the news of the fan rally to my attention, and it appears as if the movement was started on Facebook. On the group’s page, they say “If Champ or the Broncos have not come up with a deal by Sunday, lets get as many people as possible to rally on the south side of the stadium. … Come wearing your Broncos and Champ jerseys. Make some signs. We need to try and convince Champ to stay here.”

It’s a pretty noble cause by the fans, but I’m guessing it won’t affect Champ’s decision much. This is his last chance to sign a big contract and he knows it. If Denver doesn’t offer the kind of money he thinks he’s worth, it doesn’t matter how much love the fans show. Besides, the last time the fans put together a rally we all saw how it turned out.

NFL Lockout and NBA Lockout: Labor Pains

Lockout. It’s the “L” word everyone’s talking about. Nope, it has nothing to do with the show, although I tried watching it in hopes of getting some information on the situation and left oddly confused about where the players and owners stand. Next season for both football and basketball could be in jeopardy and, unfortunately, Alex Trebek is not presiding over the dispute. Distribution of wealth and the owners’ desire to implement an 18-game season threaten to disrupt the NFL season, which apparently runs from April to February (or if you are the producer of NFL Live, never ends). Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith in a steel-caged death match. It would probably sell. Throw in a Doritos commercial and enough money would be generated to finance Jerry Jones’ new belt buckle, another Al Davis lawsuit against someone, or one more overpaid underperforming free agent signing for Dan Snyder. The NBA is seeking to reduce player costs by about 700 to 800 million dollars (the amount paid to Raef Lafrentz and Jim McIlvaine once). Contraction has been discussed (talk about labor pains!), but what would the world do without the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Charlotte Bobcats, apparently extinct NBA species for the better part of a decade.

(Cue movie announcer guy) Impasse. Concessions. Decertification. Collective bargaining agreement. These images invoke the excitement of an AFL/CIO meeting. The league and players union meetings will feature just as many suits, but just a smidge more athletic talent. George Meany was never much of a jump shooter anyway. Player salaries have come a long way since helmet-less athletes threw around a watermelon-shaped football made of horsehide earning nothing more than, perhaps, their two front teeth. Long gone are the days when basketball players took turns shooting at a suspended peach basket, earning nothing more than Dr. Naismith’s praise. Baseball teams played for peanuts and Cracker Jack. Nowadays athletes earn so much they could probably buy off Mr. Planter and wear the top hat and monocle themselves. Cracker Jack may sponsor a stadium and makes millions in the process. Sports figures have trumped, well, Donald Trump.

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