Wide reciever Donte’ Stallworth recieved the Ed Block Courage Award for the Baltimore Ravens this year. The award has been given to one player from each NFL team every year dating back to 1984. According to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, it goes to “players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.” The players vote on which of their teammates they feel most meets the criteria.
I don’t get it. On March 14, 2009, Stallworth was driving drunk when he struck and killed a pedestrian — 59-year-old Mario Reyes. Reyes was said to be crossing the road illegally, but that does not change the fact that Stallworth was under the influence behind the wheel. Who’s to say that he couldn’t have reacted quickly enough to prevent the accident had he been sober? Stallworth reportedly reached a financial settlement with the Reyes’ family for an undisclosed sum and served 24 days of a 30 day prison sentence. He was also suspended for one season by the NFL before being signed by the Ravens at the beginning of the season
Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football Talk informed us that Stallworth had won the award, saying “Stallworth made a huge mistake in life and paid a steep price for it.” A steep price? He killed a man and he was out of jail in less than a month and back in the NFL a year later. Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg and can’t get approved for a work release. Burress got two years because he could have hurt or killed someone and was carrying an unregistered gun. Stallworth actually kill someone and got less than a month. Then his teammates give him an award for his “courage”?
Only eight players in NBA history have averaged at least 20 points and 15 rebounds per game in a season and all of them are in the Hall of Fame: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Bob Pettit (8), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4), Elgin Baylor (4), Walt Bellamy (4), Elvin Hayes (4), Moses Malone (2) and Bob McAdoo (1). If he can keep up his current pace, Kevin Love will be next on that list. Love is currently averaging 20.8 points per game and 15.5 rebounds per game — the highest average since Dennis Rodman’s 16.05 per game in 1996-97.
Love was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008, but was immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for fellow 2008 draft pick O.J. Mayo. The Timberwolves definitely got the better end of this deal; Mayo’s first three years have produced a healthy 17.2 points per game, but that’s really it. He’s probably never going to be as famous for his play as he is for his one-year stint at USC.
Love, on the other hand, has seen his production rise incrementally each season — from 11 points and nine rebounds to 14 points and 11 rebounds to the historic pace he’s on this year. He’s got as many single-digit rebound games this season (5) as he does games with at least 20 boards. In what was probably his best game this season, on Nov. 12 against the Knicks, Love put up 31 points and brought down 31 rebounds — talk about glass cleaning.
By now all of you know that the Royals tradedZack Greinke to the Brewers in exchange for much of their top talent. The deal sent Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt — basically an incidental piece — and cash to Milwaukee for two Major League ready players in shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain. The Royal also received two right-handed pitching prospects — Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odirizzi — the latter widely regarded as the Brewers’ top pitching prospect.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Brewers sent their top prospect, second baseman Brett Lawrie, to the Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum — a move thought to pave the way for Greinke’s trade to Toronto. In a two-week span, the Brewers have simultaneously strenghtend their team considerably for next season and seemingly bankrupted their farm system — not to mention the two players who had already reached the majors.
As recently as last season, Escobar was considered a top prospect — though last year, in his first full season in the majors, he hit only .235 with a .288 on-base percentage. At 24, Escobar still has plenty of room for growth. Betancourt, who will be 29 when the season starts, is hitting .272 for his career and has an on-base percentage of just .292. It appears that he has hit his ceiling, and it’s not very high. Betancourt does however offer slight upgrades defensively and in terms of power.
With a 40-14 victory over the Vikings on Monday night, the Chicago Bears clinched the NFC North title for the first time since 2006. At 10-4, the Bears can earn a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs if they win their remaining two games.
The Eagles — leaders of the NFC East — have the same record, but lost to Chicago in Week 12. In a less-likely scenario, the Giants (9-5) could win the NFC East with the same record as the Bears, but the Giants hold the tie-breaker with a head-to-head victory in Week 4.
In our preseason predictions, we didn’t have the Bears finishing any higher than third in the division, but we certainly weren’t the only ones not high on the them. It appears there aren’t many people, including myself, who believe in them now — even after they’ve clinched the division. Jay Cutler’s penchant for throwing interceptions has been well documented, though to this point he has half as many (13) as he finished with last year. His decision making is still suspect, and we know he’s capable of imploding on any given day.
In any event, the Bears control their own destiny. A first-round bye and a home game would be huge, especially if they are matched up against an indoor powerhouse like the Saints in round two. Having played outdoors and in the cold, Chicago would have en enormous advantage in January against a dome or west coast team, so that has to be the goal. If they beat the struggling Jets and injury-plagued Packers, they’ll accomplish their mission.
Once again, Blake Griffin shows why he was the No. 1 pick a year ago and the front-runner for the NBA Rookie of the Year. In last night’s Clippers victory over the Timberwolves, Griffin scored 22 points — none more impressive than these two:
Griffin added 10 rebounds to record his sixth-straight double-double. This dunk was one of three high-flying slams on the night by Griffin — bringing his season total to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 highlight reel plays. A guy Griffin’s size — 6 feet 10 inches, 250 pounds — shouldn’t be able to do what he’s able to do, but he does it. Let’s keep our finger crossed in hopes that he does in fact participate in the dunk contest.
The Indianapolis Colts have missed the playoffs just twice with Peyton Manning as their quarterback — in his rookie season of 1998 and in 2001. They are currently riding a streak of eight straight playoff appearances, but that streak is in serious jeopardy today as they face the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts lost a heartbreaker to the Jags in Week 4 on a Josh Scobee field goal as time expired.
Sundays game is a must-win for the Colts. If they lose, their playoff hopes will be shot, and contract negotiations with Manning may have to start a little sooner. If they beat the Jags, the two teams will have identical overall winning percentages and divisional winning percentages — the first two NFL playoff tie-breakers. The third tie-breaker — winning percentage in common games — would give the edge to the Colts. Each team has one game remaining against an opponent the other has already beaten, so as long as the Colts win out the Jags can’t catch them. After today’s game, neither team has a game remaining against a playoff contender.
The Colts have already seen their streak of seven consecutive 12-win seasons snapped, and surely don’t want to lose this one too. They may not win out, but I can’t imagine they will lose today — at home, with their playoff lives on the line — though Manning has been less-than-spectacular in playoff games. That’s what this game today is for the Colts. Win and your still alive. Lose and we’ll see you next year.
You may have already seen this video but if not, you have to. Much of the focus to this point has been on the second runner from the left. I have to admit, it was the first thing I noticed too. I mean the guy just quits after the first two hurdles and barrels head-on through the rest — the fifth one had to hurt the most. He ends up in the next lane over, in front of another competitor — if we can call any of them competitors — before tripping over his own feet as he walks off the track. There’s a lot to be said for perseverance and finishing the race, but this guy took it to another level:
It appears that only one guy made it through cleanly, but of course that made him one of the last to cross the finish line. Nate Robinson could learn a few things about timing a jump from that guy. I was waiting for the moment, on the last couple of hurdles, when he went horizontal as if he thought this was the high jump. I don’t know if any of these guys had done the hurdles before, but I hope all of them do it again — and that someone has a camera.
In a move that has become sadly familiar to football fans, Randy Moss has mailed it in on another season because he’s unhappy. We’ve seen this act before, but I don’t think we’re going to see it again. That would require Moss playing at a high level for a portion of next season before having a game with one or no catches and giving up. I’m not convinced Moss will even be given an opportunity to do that.
Moss has been held without a catch seven times in his 13-year career. All but one of those games have come in his either his final game or final season with a team. He had two zero catch games in 2004 during his final season with the Vikings. In his seven previous seasons with Minnesota, he had never gone a game without a catch and had only caught one ball on four separate occasions. Moss also sat out three games that season with a hamstring injury. Before that, he had never missed a game since his career began in 1998.