Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Touch 'em all

Sorry, baseball fans, but "touch 'em all," is referring to me hitting a variety of topics. Here we go.
I can't wait to see what the NFL does to the New Orleans Saints, based on the investigation that turned up a "bounty" system for the defense. Nuts and bolts of it: if a Saints defender caused an injury to an opposing player, the Saints player collected cash, depending on the severity of the hit and injury.
Despicable? Yes. Are the Saints the only ones? I highly doubt it. The Saints just got caught. The bigger problem is that this type of thing goes on at all. The NFL has bent over backwards in order to try and make the game safer for its players. Introduction of new rules, fines for dangerous plays, you name it, the NFL has tried to implement it. Some of their measures go too far, in my opinion. Grazing a quarterback's head should not be a roughing the passer penalty, but I suppose there has to be a line somewhere. Still, the league has tried to make things better for the players, and then we hear that the self-appointed new version of America's Team is engaging in tese typoes of behaviors?
Head Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis apologized for having this going on "under their watch." While I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, I just can't. loomis, maybe, but not Payton. How does a Head Coach not know these things are happening? Based on what I know about the Carolina Panthers team schedules (and no, Carolina is not involved in a "bounty" system, at last that I know of), it nwould be IMPOSSIBLE for a defensive coordinator to not mention something like that to the Head Coach. They meet far too often. They watch films and evaluate game video. I don't buy for a second that this went on without Payton's knowledge. The fact that they have apologized for it changes nothing. The NFL will (and should) hand down some enormous penalties to the Saints, Payton, and any player they confirm took part in it the scheme. Football is a dangerous enough game without adding the "intent to injure" element.
The Indianapolis Colts are parting ways with Peyton Manning, and while it is the unpopular thing to do, it is the right thing to do. There are too many questions surrounding Manning and his health (a neck injury forced him to miss the entire 2011 season), and the price of keeping him is way too high with so much uncertainty. Manning is due to collect a $28 million dollar roster bonus by the end of the week, should he remain with the team. Too pricey for a player that, while he has proven to be among the best in the game, has too many unknowns about him playing this season, or even again for that matter.
Me? I think Manning will play somewhere in 2012. If he is physically cleared, he'll be on an NFL roster. NO, CAROLINA, IT WON'T BE AS CAM NEWTON'S BACKUP. If he isn't cleared and has to retire, then football fans should be glad they got to see one of the game's greats work his magic for so long.
NASCAR rolls the dice in Las Vegas this weekend, and with two races in the books, it's hard to figure anything out just yet. The one thing I have noticed is that Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) is causing teams a little trouble. I won't even being to try and say I understand it all, but I do know this: introducing EFI to the teams this season created a whole new world of problems for crew chiefs and drivers in NASCAR's series. Maybe problems is too extreme. How about a whole new world of unknowns. Tony Stewart had trouble with fuel pick-up in Phoenix, and finished 22nd. Teams will figure it out, but until they do, I would guess that there will be plenty of reason to keep an eye on who wins each week. Teams that find victory lane on a consistent basis may have the EFI figured out, along with the other normal race day issues that can pop up.
Finally, the ACC Tournament tips of in Atlanta on Thursday. I know I am going out on a limb here, but it would be hard for me to pick anyone to win it other than UNC. Carolina got such a confidence jolt by running Duke out of Cameron Indoor last Saturday, that they look to be a steamroller now. Duke will likely face UNC in the title game on Sunday, and stopping UNC won't be easy with Ryan Kelly out for the event due to a sprained right foot. Kelly suffered the injury in practice on Tuesday. Don't get me wrong, Duke is a solid club, but UNC just appears to be more talented at every position than everyone else in the league.
We'll get into NCAA Tournament talk next week!
Mike Solarte

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