Many of us were inspired by the success of Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West at the 2014 Little League World Series. Unfortunately, our inspiration turned to disappointment upon hearing that the team cheated. I had originally written and posted this article back in 2015, but pulled it down upon hearing that Stephen A. Smith had been sued for speaking on the topic. Now that ESPN’s most loquacious blowhard has been dropped from the case, I’ll take advantage of the same Constitutional protection to free speech. America, what a country!
Given their propensity to trade future draft picks in the early 1990s, the Dallas Cowboys developed a quantitative tool to help them make better decisions. Commonly referred to as Jimmy Johnson’s Trade Value Chart, the methodology actually came into existence because of team executive Mike McCoy. Specifically, McCoy developed a numerical value for each draft position such that proposed trades could be evaluated quickly and objectively. Still in use today, that chart reflects how teams seemingly value future draft picks. Similarly, I created the T10B Football Index (TFI) as a mechanism to value future picks based on expected production. McCoy showed what teams are willing to do. In comparison, I’m trying to show what teams should do.
In my lifetime, the most revered athlete to experience a fall from grace may be either Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods. After seeing the downfall of the greatest cyclist and golfer of this generation (and perhaps ever), I wondered if any sports hero could survive heightened public scrutiny. Of note, I thought Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning might be the only superstars beyond reproach. Jeter rode off into the sunset with his reputation intact. On the other hand, Manning may not be as fortunate. In particular, the five-time NFL MVP allegedly used HGH when recovering from neck surgery several years ago. At the same time, we can’t overlook the “mooning” incident. Whether true or not, these accusations may lead to his removal from the already-small list of “squeaky-clean” superstar athletes.
Last month, attorney Ted Wells issued a 243-page investigative report (a.k.a. “The Wells Report”) regarding Deflategate. After three months and millions of dollars, he concluded, “It is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of [Locker Room Attendant Jim] McNally and [Assistant Equipment Manager John] Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Depending on your feelings towards the Patriots, you will interpret that sentence either as an indictment of Brady’s involvement or as insufficient evidence for a guilty verdict. Regardless, the NFL suspended Brady for four games based on the report’s conclusion and a lack of cooperation in the investigation. Furthermore, the league confiscated two draft picks and fined the team $1 million based on a lack of cooperation and a history of cheating (i.e. Spygate). Lest you believe the punished would accept the verdict without question, the Patriots have created a website to refute the report while Brady has filed an appeal of his suspension through the NFL Players Association. By the time the scandal is resolved, we’ll all be wishing we were talking about Favre’s re-retirements instead.
Somehow, 11 out of 12 footballs used by the New England Patriots in the 1st half of the 2015 AFC Championship Game became “significantly” deflated. At the time of this post, we’ve heard from Bill Belichick twice and Tom Brady once. Initially, they both embraced the strategy of deny, deny, deny. Now, Belichick is trying to play scientist and make excuses. Do I think either one did anything to alter the football directly? No. Do I think at least Brady knows who did? Yes. This post will expose the inconsistencies in their stories to the point of busting Tom Brady’s Golden Boy image. Whether this scandal (to be forever known as Deflategate) will tarnish his legacy, only time will tell.
If given the option, who would you chose between Jerry Rice and Randy Moss? Arguably the two greatest receivers in NFL history, one proved to be the epitome of excellence while the other had a flair for the spectacular. While Moss had impressive career totals of 156 TDs and over 15,000 yards, he fell far short of Rice’s career totals of 197 TDs and almost 23,000 yards. Still, I’d like to ask Tom Brady which receiver he’d prefer to have in his huddle. For that matter, I’d like to ask Joe Montana or Steve Young the same question. I imagine the former 49ers would stick together. However, I’m sure both QBs would have relished throwing to Moss as well.
Going into the 2003 NFL Draft, most experts ranked Georgia DT Johnathan Sullivan as the 3rd or 4th best defensive lineman. Based on the importance of the position, they still considered him a mid-1st round pick. Regardless, the New Orleans Saints packaged TWO mid-1st round picks (#17 and #18) in order to move up and take him 6th overall. During his three-year career, Sullivan recorded 56 tackles and 1.5 sacks. With those numbers, he certainly qualifies as a bust. However, I couldn’t include him as a Top 10 Bust because he lacked the pedigree typical of such a high pick. As discussed in a previous post, I established the Troy Williamson Exemption for this exact reason. Then again, it’s hard to overlook Sullivan’s horrendous NFL production so I granted him an Honorable Mention.