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Marc 09-17-2003 03:57 PM

[Sports Central Newsletter] - #104 - Eating the Competition Alive...
 
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The Sports Central Newsletter
September 2003 - Issue #104
https://www.sports-central.org
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|-- WELCOME --|

We hope you enjoy this issue of our newsletter. This e-mail is never sent unsolicited. The Sports Central Newsletter is sent out on the first Sunday of every month. Subscribing and unsubscribing instructions are located at the end.

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https://www.sports-central.org/other/about.shtml

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "Sports Potpourri"
- What's New at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "The NFL is Eating the Competition Alive"

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|-- WORDS FROM THE EDITOR --|

Hello folks,

Happy football season to you! It seems around early September when football season finally rolls around, other sports automatically take a backseat in the minds of many fans. The National Football League is essentially eating the competition alive -- both figuratively and literally, as Mike Round explains in this month's Feature Article.

Also, from Lisa Guerrero to Isiah Thomas, Brad Oremland lets you know what's on his mind in a "Sports Potpourri" version of the O-Files.

Finally, we've done some reorganization with the columns on SC, resulting in a new football-theme column titled "Slant Pattern," (https://www.sports-central.org/columns/slant_pattern) brought to you every other Thursday by Kevin Beane. In its debut a week ago, Kevin brought you his top-25 and also takes a look back at the college football landscape while simultaneously looking ahead to the next week's biggest games. Look for a new edition of "Slant Pattern" this Thursday and throughout the season.

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]

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https://www.sports-central.org/features/sotw

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|-- THE O-FILES--|

"Sports Potpourri"
By Brad Oremland

Sports Potpourri is back, with thoughts on the NFL, U.S. Open, MLB, and more.

* The preseason is better than nothing, but there's no substitute for the beginning of the NFL regular season. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face Thursday night.

* The NL Central is up for grabs, and no one's biting. The Astros, Cubs, and Cards have all been playing about .500 ball for the last month. Someone must want to win the division. Step up.

* Last month, it was Kobe Bryant. Now it's Maurice Clarrett. Don't expect opinions from me, though. I'm strictly an on-the-field guy.

* O.J. Simpson was a great, great running back.

* Right now, we all know that Mike Maroth is a pretty decent pitcher. 20 years from now, people will treat him like a loser. Which, technically, he is, but you get the idea.

* Lisa Guerrero is not as pretty as Melissa Stark, and she's clearly not as smart, either. And if the networks are serious about getting women involved in the game, how about putting one in the broadcast booth? Ironically, that would just take too much balls.

* In the absence of a dominant player for a dominant team, Alex Rodriguez should get serious consideration for AL MVP this year. Otherwise, my vote goes to Manny. If the White Sox win the Central, Esteban Loaiza deserves a look, too.

* Cy Young: Barring something strange, Jason Schmidt is the obvious choice in the NL. In the AL, it should be a two-man race between Loaiza and Tim Hudson. And yes, Virginia, closers ARE overrated.

* It's popular this year to pick the Rams to return to the Super Bowl. You heard it here first: not gonna happen. The important players are too injury-prone, the defense is too sucky, and the head coach isn't good enough. The Rams used their luck up from 1999-2001. It's someone's else's turn. Bet on it.

* Yesterday, I played catch with a guy in the Hall of Fans. He's the first person in my adult life to stump me with NFL questions. That is a man I will be spending more time with.

* This June, Annika Sorenstam was a big deal in sports. Now, three months later, she still is, but no one's paying attention anymore. I know most people are only supposed to have 15 minutes of fame, but surely an exception can be made for the best woman golfer in the world.

* I'm getting really fed up with SI.com's sportswriters. I don't even look at John Donovan's articles any more, and every time I read Peter King's columns, I think less of him.

* Does anyone else feel guilty for not watching more tennis? I like watching tennis. I even play occasionally. I read about the game and I usually know what's going on. So why don't I watch?

* Remember when Lleyton Hewitt was the best player in the world? His short stay at the top -- the very top, anyway -- should remind us all how rare Pete Sampras was.

* Quick quiz: What does Britney Spears have to do with sports? And why has she been to more Super Bowls in the last four years than Mike Shanahan?

* Isiah Thomas was recently fired as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, which gives me an excuse to remark on his career as a player. Thomas is the most overrated player of my lifetime.

* Robert Parish and James Worthy were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend. Parish and Worthy were good players, but Hall of Fame? Basketball has some lax standards. Give me Cooperstown and Canton any day.

* Those terrible Coors Light "twins" commercials are back. Advertising executives, if you're reading this, I change the channel every time those come on. Stick to the "Wingman" ad.

* Not that I drink Coors anyway, but if I hate a commercial enough, I'll boycott the company. Does anyone else do that? Write to me (mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files) with your answers.

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Brad welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)

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|-- WHAT'S NEW AT SPORTS CENTRAL? --|

A look back at the new articles from the week of 09/01/03 - 09/07/03:

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COLUMN: Amico Report: Jazzy in Utah
By Sam Amico

Will the Utah Jazz even bother to field a team this year? No Karl Malone, no John Stockton ... All that's left is Matt Harpring, Andrei Kirilenko, and a bunch of guys you've never heard of. But what really gives hope is Jerry Sloan. More in the Amico Report

https://www.sports-central.org/columns/amico_report

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COLUMN: The Jester's Quart: Defending the gridiron
By Greg Wyshynski

SC's Greg Wyshynski defends the gridiron against a rabid baseball fan who claims his sport excites while football bores. Also, rants on the NFL's Kickoff 2003, the Jets, Rush Limbaugh on ESPN, Lisa Guerrero, Baylor, and what women's soccer players will be stripping off this season ... all in the latest Jester's Quart.

https://www.sports-central.org/columns/jester_quart

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TENNIS: The biggest show on earth
By Dr. Jay Bewley

When John McEnroe won his first U.S. Open, his prize money was $39,000. This pales in comparison with the check for $1,000,000 for this year's Open winner. The U.S. Open has become the biggest show on Earth and the numbers speak for themselves, says SC's Dr. Jay Bewley.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle194.shtml

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NBA: Expecting a change of Pace
By Jonathan Lowe

Isiah Thomas couldn't get the job done over the past three seasons with the Pacers. Now he's sitting off the sidelines alongside Rick Carlisle. However, that wait doesn't seem to be one they'll share much longer. Will Carlisle's hire be the right one in Indy?

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle194.shtml

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MLB: Sifting through the wildcards
By Doug Graham

Pop quiz: which quantity is greater, the number of classes Maurice Clarett attended in his freshman season at The Ohio State University or the number of teams still in the hunt for the National League wildcard? SC's Doug Graham reveals all.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...cle194_2.shtml

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MLB: Why Barry Bonds will never be the greatest of all-time
By Louis Llovio

There is no question, nor should it even be an argument, that Barry Bonds is the best baseball player anyone under 35 has ever seen. The argument can also be made, and it has been, that Bonds is the greatest of all-time. But he's not, nor will he ever be, says SC's Louis Llovio.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle194.shtml

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NFL: NFL preseason power rankings
By Brad Oremland

It's NFL season, and that means SC's Brad Oremland is back at it with his Preseason Power Rankings. This preview includes rankings, predictions, and analysis for all 32 teams. NFC West fans browse at their own risk.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle194.shtml

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Traveling team: Big 10 stadiums
By Sean McDonald

SC's Sean McDonald is sure you've read enough conference previews to begin to quote teams' strengths and weaknesses. But here is the one and only Big 10 preview you will ever need, a preview of what to expect from (almost) every Big 10 stadium.

https://www.sports-central.org/sport...ticle194.shtml

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|-- FEATURE ARTICLE --|

"The NFL is Eating the Competition Alive"
By Mike Round

You've sat through the remorseless commercials and endured the sheer boredom that is NFL preseason. You've stockpiled the Bud and potato chips. You've logged on to NFL.com and got your replica shirt and sideline cap. You asked the bank manager for a second mortgage so you can get DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket. Sunday's are no longer restricted to washing the SUV and a trip to Home Depot. The NFL is back. And it's bigger than ever.

It's been a fairly quiet offseason in the NFL. Barely a handful of players have been shot. A disturbing low number of players have attempted to, or hired, hitmen to murder their partners or children. The numbers of NFL stars busted at crack houses is at worryingly low level. There's a reason and it's not that today's NFL star has suddenly decided to go all John Boy Walton on us. The modern pro is just too busy -- too busy eating that is.

I read an interesting piece in Pro Football Weekly last month reporting that Seahawks DT Chad Eaton -- insert your own pun here -- had bulked up from his listed weight 2002 season weight of 306 lbs. to a hefty 325 lbs. Eaton, recovering from knee surgery, had done this under the guidance of Seahawks strength coach Bill Gillespie by using a diet that was "high-protein and heavy on the carbohydrates."

I'm not sure what to make of this "special" diet that is Atkins and anti-Atkins in the same breath. It's like saying it's a liquid diet yet heavy on solid food. I'm betting that Chad Eaton doesn't know what to make of Mr. Gillespie's diet, either, as he didn't make mini-camp and now requires surgery as his knee has blown-out again, sufficiently to threaten his career.

Chad Eaton simply wasn't big enough for the team brass at 305 lbs. to play tackle, so the Seahawks sent him a message. Get bigger or get a pink slip. Chad got bigger, or at least his upper body did. The trouble with knees is they don't get any bigger or stronger to cope with an extra 20 or 30 pounds. They just creak more until they give out.

Man is not made to be athletic at such an enormous size. At 300 lbs., he's an eating pork rinds and watching TV machine, honed to absolute perfection. But ask him to crouch in the set position and maneuver his bulk towards a fleet footed 200 lb. quarterback over 40 times in three hours and you're asking for trouble. Especially as there are a bunch of other 300 lb. guys in the way.

Back in 1991, the Buffalo Bills made Super Bowl XXV, only to be defeated 20-19 by the Giants. They played a 3-4 defensive alignment, which featured pass-rushing end Bruce Smith, Leon Seals opposite him and NT Jeff Wright, himself no slouch at pressurizing the QB. Smith weighed in at 280, Seals 267, and Wright 270.

Hardly anyone plays a base 3-4 defense in the modern NFL, but Bill Cowher, traditionalist that he is, refuses to give it up in Pittsburgh. He started last season with his depth-chart looking like this. LE Aaron Smith and RE Kimo von Oelhoffen both weighed in at an impressive 300 lbs. NT Casey Hampton out performed his teammates at KFC and took the plaudits at a Homer Simpson-esque 321 lbs. That's over 100 lb. extra on the front three than the '91 Bills.

Obviously, it's not just defensive linemen that are bigger. These guys are bigger because the coaches are answering size with size. The days of a 300 lb. lineman being commented upon by pundits are long gone.

Tony Mandarich came out of Michigan State in 1989 and was hailed as the future of offensive linemen at 6-5 and 305 lbs. Mandarich may have been a bust, but the prototype was set. Height and weight were more important than speed of foot- or blocking-technique. You can coach those attributes, but you can't coach size. The only position on the OL where it is now even remotely acceptable to weigh under 300 lbs. is center.

The season begins without high-profile stars Mike Vick and Chad Pennington, who both suffered injuries in pointless preseason games. Predictably, there have been calls for a reduction in the number of exhibition games, because that's what they are in reality, at the start of the season. But what's escaped the likes of SI's Peter King and the QB-obsessed media is the sheer number of linemen on IR already and we aren't even a week into the season.

If the NFL continues its growth spurt, careers are going to get shorter and injuries both more numerous and more serious. Guys like Gilbert Brown, roughly the size of Mount Rushmore, don't have to try to hurt a QB or offensive lineman when they belly flop on them. Their sheer bulk dictates it's dangerous. Supplements are more widely-available to the modern athlete, meaning they can grow quickly and pass doping controls.

Pressure on them is increasing from the coaching staff, as in Eaton's case. Plus, TV loves to emphasize the size of these beasts. When was the last time you heard Chris Berman eulogizing a lineman's blocking technique? You're more likely to get "6-6 and 350 lb. - it's a $20 cab ride around this guys butt." Jeff Wright, at barely 270, wouldn't have a NFL career today, let alone a few Super Bowl memories.

Seattle is looking to pay off Chad Eaton, who has started every game for the team in the past two seasons. "There are options we have at the club's disposal, if Chad's willing to do some things," said Coach Mike Holmgren (6-1, 395 lbs, worryingly-high cholesterol level). If Eaton makes it back from his second knee surgery, he could resign with the Seahawks even after taking the settlement.

There's no sentiment in pro football, however, and the team replaced Eaton with draft-day trade acquisition Norman Hand, the former Saint. Hand is conservatively listed at 330 lb. The strength of his knees is unknown.

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Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)

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