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Ndamukong Suh Plays Hard, Not Dirty

One of the lamest questions the sports talk shows Barbaro’d this week was whether Ndamukong Suh is a dirty player. The “dirty” accusations stemmed from Suh wrestling Andy Dalton to the ground during a preseason game last week (video here). It wasn’t the first time Suh ripped the head off a quarterback (remember this video?), but it’s hard for me to view the Dalton play as evidence supporting the claim that Suh is dirty. As far as I can see it, that play happened legally within the flow of the game.

In order to determine whether Suh is a dirty player, you must first define “dirty.” When I think of a dirty player, I think of someone who delivers late hits. I think of someone who constantly hits people in the knees, head, or nuts. I think of someone who jumps into a pile late. That’s what being a dirty player means to me. A player who hits hard and relentlessly pursues quarterbacks is not dirty.

One of the biggest issues I’ve had with the NFL enforcing penalties and fines against defensive players is that they don’t take into consideration the context of a play. They don’t realize that players are going full speed and that many hard hits happen by accident. Defensive players have one mindset: kill the quarterback. If they pause to think about late hits, they won’t get the sack. I’m not saying a blatantly late hit is acceptable, but I am saying if a player has wrapped up the quarterback, I expect him to finish the tackle.

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham made the same argument in support of his star player.

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Giants GM Jerry Reese Backtracks on Playoff Guarantee

On paper the New York Giants have had a horrendous offseason.  They have a disgruntled Osi Umenyiora who wanted to be traded returning to the team.  They let arguably their best receiver,Steve Smith, walk in free agency and join a division rival.  In a competitive division like the NFC East, if you aren’t getting better you’re getting worse.

Still, Giants GM Jerry Reese remained confident.  In fact he took the Rex Ryan approach last week and basically guaranteed his team will make the playoffs.  Reese knows what he has in New York and he likes what he sees. Or does he?  Reese did some serious backtracking during an ESPN Radio appearance on Tuesday.

“First of all, I never said ‘guarantee’ and I never said ‘promise,’” Reese told The Michael Kay Show. “That’s the way they spin it in this neighborhood. I was giving our team a vote of confidence that I have in them. I said, ‘Last year if we had made some plays down the stretch here and there we would have been in the playoffs and this time we’ll make the plays. We will get in the playoffs. We’ll make a run.’”

Confidence, guarantee — what’s the difference?  There’s nothing wrong with backing your team, but someone has to be wrong this season in the NFC East after all the public gloating.  The Cowboys are going to “beat the ass” of the hyped up Eagles and the Redskins are going to win the division, while in the meantime the Giants get into the playoffs and make a run.  Someone’s going to be wrong, so why not just shut up and let the play do the talking?

Cardinals’ Dan Williams: I Did Not Work Out Hard During the Lockout

If you believe that there is something to be said for honesty, you’ll love Dan Williams.  Williams, who was a first-round pick for the Cardinals back in 2010, showed up to camp out of shape and overweight following the lockout.  The coaching staff was obviously not pleased with the 334-pounder’s condition, but what can you say to a guy who fully admits he should have worked harder during the offseason?

While Drew Brees was taking matters into his own hands with the Saints, Williams was just coasting along.  Bart Scott is worried about the league going soft without two-a-day practices, and he may have a point if guys like Williams can’t motivate themselves without the help of a team strength and conditioning coach.

“I’ll be the first one to say, I didn’t work out like a (strength coach) John Lott workout,” Williams admitted to the Arizona Republic. “I should have done more. Next year I’ll know the proper steps and I’ll put this behind me … I messed up and it won’t happen again.”

The defensive tackle added that he is not in football shape and playing at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level doesn’t help.  Again, there isn’t really much the Cardinals can do.  Obviously Williams knows he screwed up and should have worked harder, but the fact that he has acknowledged that likely means he’s willing to put in the work to get to where he needs to be.  Some guys worked hard during the lockout and others had to pick up watering jobs. That’s the nature of the beast during a work stoppage.

Roger Goodell, NFL Reportedly Convinced Michael Vick to Join Philadelphia Eagles

If you’re wondering why Michael Vick chose to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles out of prison instead of a team where he would have had a chance to start, it’s because the NFL reportedly influenced his decision. In an interview conducted for GQ, Vick tells Will Leitch that he didn’t want to sign with the Eagles as a third-string quarterback.

“I think I can say this now, because it’s not going to hurt anybody’s feelings, and it’s the truth… I didn’t want to come to Philadelphia. Being the third-team quarterback is nothing to smile about. Cincinnati and Buffalo were better options.”

Those two teams wanted him and would’ve allowed him to start, but after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell and other reps from the NFL, Vick was convinced—and granted league approval—to sign with Philly. “And I commend and thank them, because they put me in the right situation.”

With those comments, Vick will have ticked off at least two fan bases, and his words should incense the fans, 31 other owners, and the NFLPA. FOXSports.com reported the Bengals offered Vick a two-year contract after he was released from prison. Buffalo had just brought in Terrell Owens and wanted Vick too. Clearly Goodell did not want him starting immediately after prison and directed him to the Eagles which is nothing short of fixing the league.

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Eli Manning Puts Himself in Elite Quarterback Class along with Tom Brady

Feel free to keep laughing. We’ll be here when you’re done rolling on the floor.

Ready? Okay.

Asked point blank by The Michael Kay Show Tuesday if he’s an elite quarterback, Eli Manning said yes. He also was asked if he’s in the Tom Brady class of quarterback, but he hesitated before answering.

“Yeah, I consider myself in that class, and Tom Brady is a great quarterback. He’s a great player and what you’ve seen with him is he’s gotten better every year. He started off winning championships and I think he’s a better quarterback now than he was when he was winning those championships,” Manning said Tuesday.

Eli also gave himself room to grow the way Brady has. “I think [Brady's] grown up and gotten better every year and that’s what I’m trying to do. I kind of hope these next seven years of my quarterback days are my best.”

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David Akers Reportedly Lost $3.7 Million in Ponzi Scheme

Ponzi schemes seem to be much more common than most people ever realized and have had a widespread effect on the sports world. First, we had Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion scheme that resulted in a partial sale of the New York Mets. Then, we learned about a contributor to a Dodgers charity who ran a Ponzi scheme. Recently, former Georgia football coach Jim Donnan has been accused of running a scheme that involved several other coaches. Now, the latest allegations have come to light in a federal trial this week.

San Francisco 49ers kicker and longtime Eagle David Akers testified in a federal trial Monday that he lost $3.7 million by investing with Triton Financial in Austin. According to The Austin American-Statesman, prosecutors claim that Triton CEO Kurt Barton continuously lied to investors about where their money would go, how it would be used and about how he had a large amount of personal wealth to back the investments in building a $50 million Ponzi scheme. Burton’s lawyers say he wasn’t running a scheme but rather he made a series of poor business decisions.

“I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights,” said Akers. “As I said, this is my family’s future. I said that to Kurt a lot of times. I said, ‘Man I’m trusting in you.’”

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Bill Belichick: The NFL Wants to Eliminate Kickoffs Altogether

After only one week of preseason games, a ton is already being made about the new NFL kickoff rule.  It is no secret that the rule change was put into effect to protect players and increase the amount of touchbacks.  An increased number of touchbacks means a decrease in high speed collisions.  There is one way the NFL could eliminate kick returns altogether, and that would be to eliminate kickoffs.  According to Bill Belichick, that is the direction the league hopes to head in.

According to Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com, Belichick hinted on Monday that the NFL intends to eliminate kickoffs altogether.  When pressed further, the Patriots coach basically said it was a fact and not his opinion.

“That’s what they told us,” he said hastily. “I’m not speaking for anyone else. That’s what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play.”

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