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#pounditFriday, October 7, 2022

Stories by Derrick Holdridge:

Ed Reed Returns to Ravens After Visiting Family, Search Called Off for Brother

Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed returned to the Ravens’ practice facility after spending some time back home in Louisiana visiting with his family, which is dealing with the disappearance of Reed’s brother Brian. Brian Reed went missing on January 7th when he reportedly jumped into the Mississippi River while fleeing police. Investigators founds Brian Reed’s shoes and jacket, but have called off the search for Reed himself.

Ed Reed stayed with his team and played in the Ravens’ 30-7 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s Wild Card game. Reed had a solid, if not spectacular game, recording four tackles including a devastating hit on Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster. After the game, the Ravens presented Reed with a game ball for him and his family. An emotional Reed accepted the ball saying, “I know my brother, he loved football, but he wanted to beat Pittsburgh and now I want a Bowl.”

Reed is an unbelievable talent, leading the NFL with eight interceptions during the regular season, despite missing the first sex games of the year. He returned to the team after just one day home with his family, indicating he’s a teammate any player would love to have. He’s obviously committed to his teammates and the Ravens organization and wants to play well and win for his missing brother, but I don’t think anyone would have held it against him if he spent a little more time with his grieving family.

Everyone handles grief differently. Many people look for things to distract them, and preparing for a playoff game against a bitter division rival would definitely fit that bill. I’m sure Reed’s family was very supportive of his decision to return to Baltimore. I just hope Reed’s preparation for a football game doesn’t come at the expense of his family.

Derrick Rose Should Be in the Dunk Contest, Not Brandon Jennings

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is listed at 6-foot-3 — not exactly short, but below average by NBA standards. What he lacks in height he more than makes up for with his vertical leap, which is reportedly in the neighborhood of 40 inches. On Monday night against the Pistons, Rose once again showed us why he should be in the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest:

I’m assuming the reason Rose has not participated in a dunk contest has more to do with his not wanting to, rather than someone not asking him. Brandon Jennings is participating and he’s really shown nothing that would indicate he has any business being there. Rose on the other hand, has used plays like this, this, and this to prove that he can wow an audience by attacking the rim throughout his NBA career.  Thanks to Flockaball for the video

Only Guarantee Between Auburn-Oregon Is Lots of Points in Championship Game

Tonight’s BCS National Championship Game between the Auburn Tigers and the Oregon Ducks is sure to deliver a ton of scoring, specifically touchdowns. For those of you who like to watch lock-down defense, maybe you should focus on the Celtics-Rockets game. Both Auburn and Oregon allow an average of more than 20 points per game — not terrible by any means, but neither team has faced an offense like the one they’ll face tonight.

The Ducks led the nation in points per game with 49.1, putting them about a touchdown ahead of the Tigers’ fourth ranked 42.7. Oregon and Auburn rank first and seventh respectively in yards per game with 537.5 and 497.7. Both starting quarterbacks, Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Oregon’s Darron Thomas, average right around 200 yards passing per game — the difference being Newton averages 108.3 rushing yards per game as well. Both have thrown 28 touchdowns this season, but Newton also rushed for 20 and caught one.

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Reggie Wayne Frustrated About Lack of Looks from Peyton Manning in Colts Loss

Five-time Pro Bowl receiver, including this season, Reggie Wayne caught just one pass for one yard in the Colts’ 17-16 Wild Card loss to the Jets on Saturday, and he’s not happy about it. The worst part is that he caught every ball thrown his way. That’s right, Wayne — who was second in the NFL this season with 111 receptions and third in receiving yards with 1355 — was targeted just one time.

“I shouldn’t have even suited up,” Wayne told The Indianapolis Star. “I should have watched the game like everybody else. I was irrelevant.” The fact that Wayne even said anything speaks to the magnitude of the issue. It’s out of character for him — or anyone else on that team, to vent any frustration publicly — especially when it could be perceived as being aimed at quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning’s performance has been questioned this season, but not from inside the organization.

An obvious reason why Wayne saw only one ball is because he was being covered by fellow-Pro Bowler, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, but that’s a ridiculous excuse. Wayne is too good and the game was too big for him to be targeted once. In contrast, Blair White and Jacob Tamme had eight catches each. I get the idea that Revis’ focus on Wayne opened up the field for those two, along with Pierre Garcon, but again, that’s an excuse.

When you’ve got a weapon like Wayne, you have to find a way to get him the ball. You move him around, run screens, whatever it takes.  He’s going to get open. Instead, Manning essentially ignored one of the game’s premier receivers and the Colts’ season ended as a result. Wayne has every right to be frustrated and I bet Manning looks his way a little more next time. At least he should.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Carmelo Anthony at the Center of 17-Player Trade Talks, Nets Going All in

The New Jersey Nets’ interest in working out a deal with the Denver Nuggets for superstar forward Carmelo Anthony is old news, but The New York Post is now reporting that the deal could include up to 17 players plus an undisclosed quantity of draft picks. The deal would also include the Detroit Pistons and would involve the largest number of players in any deal in NBA history.

The previous record was 13, but that trade involved five teams — the Heat, Grizzlies, Hornets, Celtics and Jazz — in 2005. The centerpiece of that deal was Antoine Walker, who went from Boston to Miami. Walker played only three more seasons in the NBA, averaging 9.5 points per game over that span. He’s currently in the NBA’s D-League and doesn’t seem to be having an easy go at it.

The question that remains unanswered is why is any team other than the Knicks willing to give up young talent and future draft picks for Anthony when it’s well-documented that he wants to play in New York? Carmelo has a three-year $65 million offer on the table from the Nuggets, but refuses to sign it. The Nets are reportedly willing to give up Devin Harris and Derrick Favors — two young and extremely talented players.

New Jersey isn’t going to compete for anything this year even with Anthony, and if he leaves after this season they would be left with basically nothing. The Nets are reportedly trying to prevent the Knicks from getting Anthony, though I’m not sure why. This isn’t a Red Sox-Yankees or Celtics-Lakers type rivalry. It’s not a rivalry at all. The Nets are horrible and the Knicks are middle-of-the-pack in the East. The trade doesn’t make any sense for New Jersey.  They should keep their players and draft picks and prepare for the long-term, because it’s doubful Carmelo Anthony will be a part of it regardless.

Congratulatory TCU Billboards Pop Up in Ohio State Territory

An unidentified person or group of people has paid for 20 billboards in the Columbus area — surrounding Ohio State — touting TCU’s victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The billboards are an obvious jab at Ohio State’s president E. Gordon Gee, who stated a few months back that schools like TCU and Boise State don’t deserve a shot at a national championship because they don’t play enough quality opponents during the regular season.

Gee, the former president of Vanderbilt, claimed that those schools don’t have to go through gauntlets like the SEC and Big Ten. That’s true, but the Horned Frogs’ victory over the Badgers proved that schools from non-major conferences can compete against the “big boys,” despite soft conference schedules. Toss in the fact that Ohio State should have lost to Arkansas — granted they are an SEC school — in the Sugar Bowl, and Gee can officially insert his foot into his mouth. The billboards are “signed” by the “little sisters of the poor,” a reference to Gee’s estimation of TCU’s and Boise State’s conference competition.

The oddest aspect of this story is that someone in Columbus allowed it to happen. This is just an assumption, but wouldn’t the companies in charge of the billboards be able to block something like this from hitting the streets? Then again, money talks. In any event, Ohio State fans aren’t as rabid as I thought. Maybe the maze and blue faithful should look into spicing up the rivalry a bit with a billboard of their own.

Photo Credit: The Matador Sports

Bears, Lovie Smith Expect to Face Saints in Divisional Round

Although they have the luxury of playing in front of their home crowd, the Seahawks are going to be extremely outmatched when they take on the Saints this Saturday.  Like almost everyone else, the Bears expect the Saints to advance beyond the first round with relative ease. According to ESPNChicago.com, Chicago head coach Lovie Smith said this week that the Bears are preparing to face the Saints.

Smith claims they’re scouting the Saints because they haven’t played them yet (whereas they’ve played Seattle and Philadelphia), but in reality he’s assuming the Saints are going to win.  The Seahawks shouldn’t even be playing right now and you’d be hard pressed to find a team hotter than the Packers, but the fact that Smith was so open about it is a bit surprising. Coaches who aren’t named Rex Ryan usually refrain from saying anything that’s not a tired cliche, such as “we’re not worried about who we’re going to be playing” or “we’re focused on our own team.”

In reality, Smith and his squad would probably love nothing more than to face Seattle after their first-round bye. However, he’s taking the angle of being realistic and honest without coming off as arrogant, giving a little more than guys like former Browns head coach Eric Mangini without joining the likes of Ryan — something rarely seen in professional sports.  Needless to say, it would shock the football world if the Bears have to face the 7-9 Seahawks in the Divisional Round.

Ohio State Wins Sugar Bowl on the Strength of Soon-to-Be Suspended Players

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 2011 Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, thanks in large part to the performances of players who never should have been on the field. By now you know that the Buckeyes have had five players suspended — all juniors — for the first 5 games of next season by the NCAA as a result of violations involving improper benefits.  However, the players were inexplicably allowed to participate in the team’s BCS bowl game.

As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, the soon-to-be suspended players had a huge impact in the Buckeye’s bowl victory. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, with seventy of the yards and one score going to receiver DeVier Posey. Pryor also rushed for 115 yards.  Running back Dan Herron rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown while offensive lineman Mike Adams was the only player without a measurable impact.

The fifth player, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, made the play of the game after a blocked Ohio State punt gave the Razorbacks the ball on the Buckeyes’ 18-yard line with just over a minute left. On the second play of the series, Thomas dropped into coverage and intercepted Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett’s pass, falling to the ground with 58 seconds left to preserve the five-point victory.

After the game, much of the talk from Ohio State players and coaches emphasized the notion that the suspended players “stepped-up” in this game. Despite the adversity they were facing, they were able to buckle down and help the team succeed. The only problem is they never should have been on the field. The fact that they played well only underscores the fact that the NCAA gave them preferential treatment. Don’t be surprised if Cam Newton plays lights out in the National Championship game, too. What brave, brave student athletes.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Darko Milicic Will Never Be an All-Star, Sorry David Kahn

Minnesota Timberwolves center Darko Milicic was infamously picked second overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, ahead of superstars like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Detroit GM Joe Dumars pulled the trigger on Darko ahead of even Chris Kaman, David West and Mo Williams — all solid contributors who have made All-Star teams. Milicic has career averages of 5.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, or the elusive career triple-single. During Monday’s Timberwolves-Celtics game, Minnesota President of Basketball Operations David Kahn had this to say about Milicic’s future:

There’s no way. While Milicic is having a “career” year, that’s not saying a lot. This season he’s averaging career highs in points, blocks and assists per game with 9.3, 2.3 and 1.9 respectively. He’s only 25, but in his eighth year in the league it seems like he is what he is — a bust. He’s not the first high draft pick not to pan-out and won’t be the last, but he’s never shown anything to the contrary.

This also isn’t the first time Kahn has made ridiculous statements about Milicic. Kahn and former NBA superstar Chris Webber had an interesting conversation about Milicic last summer, and Kahn was not very happy about it.

Thanks to YouTube user blazersedgeben for the video.

Eric Mangini Out in Cleveland, Browns’ Problems Extend Beyond Head Coach

The Cleveland Browns have fired head coach Eric Mangini after two-straight 5-11 seasons. Mangini was hired by the Browns in 2009 after being fired by the New York Jets. Mangini was 23-25 during his time in New York. He may not be a great coach, but when are the people in Cleveland going to realize there might be a bigger problem than the coach. Mangini has had his issues in Cleveland and certainly was not the most likelable guy, but he’s not the first coach to struggle there.

Since they were re-established in Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have had five coaches, including interim coaches. They’ve had more than four times as many seasons of at least 10 losses (9) than they have had winning seasons (2). In that time they’ve made the playoffs once. In that same span, only seven teams have employed more coaches than the Browns; the Falcons (6), Bills (6), Lions (7), Dolphins (6), Raiders (6), Rams (6) and Redskins (7). Every team on that list, aside from maybe the Falcons, has been generally horrible since ’99.

Those two winning seasons ties the Browns with the Cardinals, Bills and Bengals, and puts them just ahead of the Lions (1). That one playoff appearance ties them with the Bills and Lions for the least in that span. Are you noticing the common names on these lists? He’s another one. Cleveland’s nine seasons with at least 10 losses is matched only by the Lions.

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