Monday, December 31, 2012

America's Team: 2012 Season Review

This is the third and final installment of America's Team this year. (2012 Season Preview, 2012 Midseason Report)

For Dallas Cowboys fans, the 2012 NFL season was another roller coaster year that featured plenty of ups and downs. But at the end of the day, it was simply one of sheer disappointment. Finishing with a record of 8-8, America's Team is truly the epitome of mediocrity.


The Cowboys finished with the same record in 2011.


According to


1. The quality or state of being mediocre.
2. A person of mediocre ability.


Of only moderate quality; not very good: "a mediocre actor".

middling - moderate - indifferent - ordinary - mean


With the fickle nature of fandom or fanship, there will undeniably be countless subjective analytical statistics and arguments in regards to the shortcomings in coaching, the defense, and mostly of Tony Romo.

Romo is the quarterback of the team -- and the cliche about being the quarterback is that he will receive too much praise when the team wins and too much criticism when the team loses. I want to make things clear. I do not hate or even dislike Tony Romo. He is the quarterback of the football team I cheer for, so I will always support him strictly because of the star on his helmet. However, facts are facts.

Tony Romo is 1-6 in win-or-go home games in Week 17 or the postseason.

If you look at the story of Tony Romo, he has beaten the odds time and time again. He was a great athlete in high school, but still didn't earn a spot on a division I football team in college. He broke all the records at Eastern Illinois University and had his jersey retired, but still went undrafted in 2003. He was signed as a free agent and sat on the bench for 4 years before checking into a game against the New York Giants in 2006. An unbelievable journey. Anyone who discounts what Romo has accomplished is just being disrespectful. Fast forward to today, and he is one of the most marketable and highest paid players in all of sports.

Being the NFL superstar that Romo is, there is arguably nobody else in the league that is nitpicked under the microscope as much as he is. It comes with the territory. When you play for the same team and the same position as Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman -- both football legends -- you will be measured not by regular season wins or passing yards or quarterback rating or even playoff appearances. For Cowboys fans, you will solely be judged (and justifiably so) by how many championship parades you bring to the city of Dallas.

For all of his well documented late season struggles, Romo was unquestionably having the best December of his career. He was giving all his naysayers the subliminal middle finger as the team traveled to Washington for their deciding game. Before throwing three devastating interceptions against their most hated rival, Romo had thrown for 10 touchdowns and only 1 pick in the month of December. He put the team on his back and got them into a position to win the NFC East division. A remarkable feat considering the team was 3-5 midway through the 2012 campaign.

The first interception was vintage Romo. He was backpedaling, didn't get his feet set, and floated a ball over the receiver. I can live with that. It was early in the game and it was just a poorly thrown ball. It was more of a physical mistake rather than a mental one.

The second one was a clear display of Romo's lack of arm strength, severely under throwing the ball right into the hands of the defender. This one made me cringe a little bit. I understand his thought process. It was one on one coverage on the outside so he wanted to give his receiver a chance. But in that situation, you must throw it to the sidelines and not to the middle of the field. Mental mistake.

The third one basically sums up Romo's career after he burst onto the scene in 2006. He had just thrown a beautiful back shoulder pass for a touchdown, the defense got a critical stop, and everything was shaping up for a storybook ending. Momentum was clearly shifting towards Dallas's favor. Then Romo happened. Instead of throwing the football away to live and play another down, he decided to lob it to the left flat without taking notice of the defender that was dropping back into coverage. Mental mistake.

The game was basically over at that point. 

Passionate supporters of Romo may scream offensive line! Or all of the wide receivers were hurt! Or Coach Jason Garrett can't manage a game! Or the defense was completely depleted! Or RGIII is too good! 

Three interceptions is three interceptions.

1-6 in deciding games is 1-6.

8-8 for the year is 8-8.

I realize that Alfred Morris is the first running back to rush for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Cowboys in history. I realize that Dallas is 2-11 in Week 17 since 2000, the worst in the NFL. I realize that Dez Bryant and Miles Austin were out of the game. I realize that half the defense was made up of guys who were literally in the streets a few weeks ago. I realize that our offensive line is horrible. I realize that Washington's execution with the read-option is unguardable. I realize that Jason Garrett makes no in-game adjustments. I realize that Jerry Jones is senile.

I realize all these things, but it doesn't change anything. It's still another year that was lost for Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. For those who don't know, Romo will be 33 years old and entering the last year of his 2007 contract extension when they kick it off again next season. If the front office has any foresight at all, they would be wise to look at a couple quarterbacks during the upcoming draft and off-season. It only takes one play to usher in the Anthony Wright, Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Ryan Leaf, Clint Stoerner, and Drew Henson era. Trust me.

Scary thought: Robert Griffin III is 22 years old and Alfred Morris is 24 years old.

2012 was a fun ride, but the injuries were just too much to overcome. The loss of Sean Lee was huge -- it took away the defensive play making ability that the team needed to overcome their deficiencies and mistakes. Unfortunately, Dallas is stuck in the worst position it can be in. Not bad enough to garner a high draft pick. Not good enough to make the playoffs.

The Cowboys will have the 18th pick in the 2013 draft. A talented, young player on either the offensive line or defensive line seems like the smart choice. 

It's clear that Rob Ryan has to go, the offensive line needs a major overhaul, and the team needs a completely different personality in general. It will be interesting to see what Owner and GM, Jerry Jones, has in store over the long summer. I for one truly believe America's Team will be back one day. I just hope it will be sooner, rather then later.

Photo and video content courtesy of,,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Party Foul: Boxing - Manny Pacquiao v. Juan Manuel Marquez

Back in June, when Manny lost to Timothy Bradley in a controversial decision by the judges, everyone was mad at the sport of boxing. Talks of fixing fights and corruption became rampant and the sport was taking a huge hit. Tonight on the other hand, when Manny lost to Juan Manuel Marquez in a shocking knock out, there is no one to blame other than Manny Pacquiao himself. There was no need to go to the judges for this one.

At his core, Marquez is a counter puncher -- with that being said, JMM caught Manny with absolutely the perfect shot. Manny moved in right as Marquez was cocking his right hand. The vicious blow not only stunned the crowd, but it literally put Pacquiao to sleep for a good minute where he was laying face down on the canvas. Not only did Marquez get the revenge he sought after due to what happened to him during their previous three bouts, but tonight may have punctuated the end of both of their careers.

In a fight where Manny was actually winning, he simply got caught with the picture perfect counter punch. That happens in fighting. The three judges all had Manny leading the fight 47-46 as the 6th round was concluding.

I am still in shock as I type this up. Wow.

There was only 2 seconds left in the round.

Manny has never been knocked out like that. Ever.

----> Check out this great GIF of the knock out: Down. Goes. Manny.

Total Punches Landed
Pacquiao - 94
Marquez - 52

Power Punches Landed
Pacquiao - 68
Marquez - 41

Juan Manuel Marquez landed only 21% of the punches he threw during the 6-round fight.

Manny Pacquiao falls to 54-5-2, losing consecutive fights for the first time in his career.

Pacman is done.

Mayweather v. Pacquiao is done.

Boxing is done.

Photo and video content courtesy of

Friday, November 30, 2012

Beware the WildKaep

The WildKaep will prowl the Edward Jones Dome as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback this Sunday.

Kaepernick, the current toast of the town and the ONLY reason why you hear about the 49ers on ESPN, will be given another shot to prove to everyone he has the coveted "hot hand."

It’s obvious that Harbaugh was tippy-toeing the Alex Smith vs. Colin Kaepernick high-wire act and attempting to quash any talk of a quarterback controversy.  (Interestingly enough, Steve Young replaced Joe Montana 25 years ago against the Bears.)  Though Smith would have dealt with the media in his nonchalant, ‘team first’ attitude, Coach Harbaugh would not bring shame upon his pal (and one-time caddy) like that.

To the blind eye, it seems like the 49ers coach is taking it on a week-to-week basis, giving each of his signal callers a fair shot.  For all intents and purposes, though, Harbaugh’s emptying out the backfield.

We all know the story: Kaepernick tames the Bears with Alex in concussion limbo, then beats a Saints defense that averaged 27.3 points allowed per game with a healthy Smith on the sidelines.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Jim Harbaugh’s skills as a tactician go well beyond the chalked sidelines.  He knows what he’s doing, despite fumbling language at press conferences and providing embarrassing fodder such as “Gobble Gobble Turkey from Jive Turkeys.”  Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this seems like an all-too-perfect swing for a young kid that the coach moved up for to draft in 2011.  He’s no fool.

Smith's emotionless role model
Despite all the media gushing over him, did anyone else notice that he was the first guy to get fired up about Ahmad Brooks’ pick six?  Yeah, you saw what I saw:  the interception return was the white-out over Kaepernick’s errant pass thrown to that same vaunted Saints defense.  While there’s nothing wrong with congratulating a teammate, Brooks’ pick six absolved the quarterback’s mistake.  He was noticeably dejected after the play and needs to channel his inner Smith, who shows all the emotion of an android when given face time, if he's going to make it as a starting quarterback.

Like any QB miscues, they can be easily swept under the rug of a vaunted defense.  (See: his predecessor, one Alex Smith and 49er great Trent Dilfer).  And that’s why I’m not as quick to anoint him.  I’ll be the first to admit that his stuff is electric and exciting.  No question about that.  It's something fans haven't seen for the better part of a decade and a half. To that point, I have to ask: How many young signal callers have ended up in the refuse bin after being elevated to a similar “game-changing” status after two starts?  I’ll wait…

Just two games removed from an 18 of 19 performance against another highly respected defense in the Arizona Cardinals, Smith has questionably been placed neatly in Kaepernick’s shadow.  Lest we forget he’s a man that endured the likes of Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, dropping into deep valleys (abysses may be more pertinent), only to emerge victorious over the same Saints Kaepernick just dusted.  And, oh yeah, he was the man who almost led the team to a Super Bowl birth (I’ll just leave the heartbreak at that.  The wounds are still fresh in the casual 49ers fan’s mind.).

Holding all things constant, I would say that we have one good game and a relief appearance that ended in a tie to judge the young buck.  That isn't exactly the proving ground I picture when ushering in a new quarterback era.

Whatever the case may be, Harbaugh may have picked his horse (without picking him), and he'll have to live with it.

The turkeys are quiet, holding their collective breaths while they mull around the circus.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Standing Ovation: Guan Tianlang

When I was in 8th grade, I was busy worrying about my image and trying to fit in with the popular kids. Guan Tianlang, on the other hand, is currently preparing to compete in the 2013 Masters. At 14 years old, Tianlang will become the youngest player ever to participate in the game's greatest championship at Augusta National next April.

When I first heard of this unbelievable feat, the first thing that popped into my head was that he's just probably a physical freak. Someone like Michelle Wie who was over 6 foot tall when she was just a teenager, giving her the length to compete with men twice her age.


Guan Tianlang weighs a measly 125 pounds -- but the kid still has the ability to not only hang with the big boys, but beat them as well. Simply put, he is an exquisite striker of the golf ball, who started playing the game of golf at the tender age of 4. In addition, he may be making the belly putter "cool" for the next generation of players. He recently converted to the belly putter (even though he doesn't have a belly) and subsequently won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to earn a spot in the Masters.

With most kids his age, Tiger Woods is his favorite player. He's had the opportunity to meet Tiger a couple times and plans on playing a practice round with the game's biggest star to prepare for the major tournament.

Good work, kid. Keep it up.

Photo and video content courtesy of,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lindecision Watch: First Impressions

Last season here on Gym Class All Stars we shared our thoughts on Jeremy Lin's surprising success in the NBA and his impact on race and stereotypes in our nation. I even started a column about the New York Knicks and deemed them Asian America's team. Much has changed since the end of the season, including Jeremy Lin leaving for a lucrative contract in Houston.  The Knicks replaced him with three new point guards, with two of them in the tail ends of their basketball careers. Yet some things still remained the same: the Rockets still got the better of the Knicks again, the Knicks' success still lies on the shoulders of Carmelo Anthony, and James Dolan is still the worst owner in all of professional sports.

I personally was frustrated and bitter over the departure of Jeremy Lin from my beloved Knicks. What didn't make it any better was that it was the Rockets who used the poison pill strategy to pry him away, which led me to write a post about my dislike for the Houston Rockets. In the "Lindecision Watch," I will be following both Jeremy Lin's progress in Houston as well as the Knicks ability to succeed without him.

As the first week of the NBA season comes to an end, it is clear that both Houston and New York are off to a fast start.

Harden's arrival has already had a huge impact. After the huge trade for James Harden shocked the NBA world, Harden was given an $80 million contract. I am not going to talk about if I think the Rockets got the better end of the trade or if I think Harden is worth the 80 million -- I will let the Rocket fans interject on that topic -- instead I will say that this trade was maybe the second-best thing to happen so far in Jeremy Lin's young NBA career, second only to getting playing time in Mike D'Antoni's offensive system. Harden has taken on a lot of the burden that fell on Jeremy Lin.  James is now the star player, and Jeremy is more than capable of supporting him. Also the "713" connection as they are calling it in Houston has been clicking so far.  All I have to say is I didn't realize that the Thunder traded Michael Jordan to Houston, because James Harden has been ridiculous so far.

New York point guards have proven more than capable. New York now has three new players running the point: Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, and Pablo Prigioni. Kidd is no stranger to NBA success, yet many people felt that his production would fall off this year due to Father Time. Kidd is the most important addition to the Knicks roster. Some may disagree, but everywhere Kidd goes, that team gets better. There is no doubt in my mind that Kidd will continue to adapt to any role he is in; Raymond has already come out to say how much Kidd's mentoring has helped his development this year. Felton might still look short and round, but one thing that's different from last year is that Felton is in shape. Raymond clearly took it personally when everyone in the media criticized his ability to play basketball and is currently putting up 13.7 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1.67 steals a game in only 28 minutes of playing time. These numbers are quite comparable to Jeremy Lin with about 9 minutes less in playing time. Felton played great for the Knicks before he was included in the Carmelo trade two years ago. He plays better in New York City because he enjoys playing here, and he's the main reason letting Jeremy Lin walk last summer wasn't as big of a blow as most people thought it would be. Lastly we have Pablo Prigioni, the 35-year-old rookie from Argentina. Pablo might be the oldest rookie in over 40 years, but this guy is as crafty as any veteran in the league. Pablo was the starting point guard that won the gold during the 2004 Olympics and has achieved every award in the Euro league. At times it does seem like Prigioni is allergic to shooting, but his ability to set up his teammates is supreme. While only averaging 4.3 points in 19 minutes, what is impressive is that he averages the same 4.3 in assists per game. Pablo helps Kidd stay fresh and gives Woodson the flexibility to play Kidd at shooting guard.

Improvement in the Knicks defense after a full training camp with Mike Woodson. The number one priority for the Knicks this year is defense. The team is aggressive and swarming all over the court. As a life-time Knicks fan, it is a pleasure to finally see defense again in MSG. I always felt that the biggest weakness of having Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony, and Amar'e Stoudemire on the court together was how defensively inept they were. Now the current Knicks unit only has a few guys who lack on the defensive side of the ball; in that category I would include only Amar'e and Novak, as even Melo has figured it out after playing with team USA this summer. Carmelo has come back slimmer, stronger, and quicker. The best part of that is he is using these improvements on the defensive end and is setting a great example for guys like J.R. Smith and Felton. I hope this doesn't change with the return of Amar'e, but I will address that later on in this article. In their first game against Miami, the Knicks forced 21 turnovers.  In their second game against the 76ers, they forced another 18 turnovers. In their third game also against the 76ers, Philly only shot 33% from the field.

Jeremy Lin's consistent output has been positive for the Rockets. So far so good, as Lin seems to be earning his worth after receiving a contract close to $25 million over three years. Lin has been overshadowed by James Harden's brilliance, but his numbers have been solid. Lin's stat line reads 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. Also so far he only is committing 3.3 turnovers a game. Of course the season is still very young, but this is a promising sign and shows that Jeremy can contribute to this team in many different ways. I believe his steals and rebounds will dip, but I wouldn't be surprised to if points and assists see a small lift moving forward. I hope that Jeremy Lin will still find way to make a cultural impact like he did last year, but I still think that will be harder to do in Houston as opposed to New York City.

Omer Asik is the wild card for Houston's ability to compete. Harden and Lin will obviously be the main reasons why the Rockets have success this year and in years to come, but Omer Asik is critical in providing things for this team that Harden and Lin can not. Omer gets rebounds and plays solid interior defense, and his ability to do both of these things will give Harden and Lin the chance to take this team to the next level. It will be interesting to see if he can develop a low post offensive game which would open up things for the rest of the team as well, or run the pick and roll effectively with either Lin or Harden. If Asik can do these things, I believe Lin will benefit the most and will enjoy a successful career in Houston. Currently Omer is only averaging 5.3 points a game, but his 14.3 rebounds per game speaks volumes for how important he is to this team.

Stat's return is still the biggest question mark for the New York Knicks. Amar'e Stoudemire's absence in the Knicks lineup is easily forgotten; nevertheless Stat will be back before you know it, and the Knicks will need to figure out how he can fit into what they are doing. I want to believe that Carmelo and Stoudemire will be able to play together, but so far the numbers don't lie. The Knicks are a better team when only one of the two Knicks stars is on the floor. With Stat playing the four, Melo will be moved to the three, and either Brewer or Kidd will not be in the starting unit. This will drop their ability to defend and create mismatches on the offensive end. Woodson needs to find a way to make this work, unless by some miracle the Knicks could trade the untradable in Amar'e Stoudemire.

Overall, both Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks are doing just fine without one another. You could make an argument that the Knicks look better than ever while Jeremy Lin is just holding steady to his production last year. Or one could say that Jeremy Lin has not reached the same highs he had last year where for a 7-game stretch he was the focal point in New York City.  The verdict is still out, but so far it seems like everyone came out a winner after the summer of 2012. The Knicks, Jeremy Lin, Carmelo, Morey, and even James Dolan.

Photos courtesy of, Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE,  Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE, and Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images 

Monday, November 5, 2012

America's Team: 2012 Midseason Report

Heading into the season (Dallas Cowboys 2012 Season Preview), I was admittedly pretty optimistic with the direction of the franchise and the strides the team appeared to be taking. My prediction of 9-7 is not a particularly great record, but I understood it was ultimately another transition year for the team. With that being said, I believed that the Cowboys were going to be smarter, tougher, and more disciplined under the leadership of both Jason Garrett and Tony Romo in 2012.

I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

After eight games, Dallas is nothing more than a mediocre ball club that has actually taken steps backwards in some areas. Sitting at 3-5, the season may arguably already be lost -- and in the best interest of the team and its fans, I believe it should continue to lose. I was extremely upset and disappointed in 2010 when the team went 1-7 in their first 8 games (mainly because of Romo's injury) but proceeded to "finish the season strong" and lose out on drafting Patrick Peterson -- a dynamic, game-changing playmaker at the cornerback position.

Fast forward to today and this is the current state of the Dallas Cowboys:

Tony Romo has 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Coach Garrett's inexperience and poor time management has repeatedly cost the team. Dez Bryant suddenly has alligator arms and is dropping balls. The expensively revamped secondary can't produce any takeaways. There are still way too many pre-snap penalties. The rushing attack has been nonexistent (sans the Baltimore game). There is nothing special about the return game (when was the last time the ST scored a touchdown anyway?).

I could go on and on, but I'm trying to not get too negative.

With early injuries to Jason Witten (Romo's favorite target), Jay Ratliff (the team's best interior defensive lineman), Barry Church (starting safety), Demarco Murray (starting running back), and Sean Lee (one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL), it has simply been too much for the team to overcome.

But at the end of the day, making excuses is a loser-ish way of thinking. You either perform or you don't, and unfortunately there are too many disappointments in every facet of the team -- management and coaching staff included.

Cowboys fans, it's been 17 years since our last championship. We may still be America's Team in title, but the current generation of kids who are growing up and watching football today honestly has no idea of those dominant Cowboy teams of the mid 90s. We competed in four Super Bowls in the 70s, and that's why we became the face of the league. Then another three in the aforementioned 1990s, which ended up being timed perfectly for the proceeding generation of NFL fans. Thus, the momentum just continued to build and build from there. This is the reason the franchise became the most popular team in the league (and currently the 4th most valuable sports franchise in the world). Unfortunately, if the Cowboys don't win soon, the brand will eventually lose its luster.

I could have named many more than three busts, but I don't want to get too depressed.

Top 3 Performers:

1. N/A

Nobody is worthy of this spot. Sean Lee was definitely on his way to becoming the defensive leader and playmaker the team sorely needs, but his season-ending injury in week 6 took him out of the running. To me, he was the one guy the Cowboys couldn't afford to lose on the defensive side of the ball.

2. DeMarcus Ware

DeMarcus constantly sees double teams week in and week out (because of the Rob Ryan-led defense's ineptitude in producing quarterback pressure), but he is still on pace for 15+ sacks. You can basically pencil him in for a sack every game. That is consistency.

3. Jason Witten

Witten had a miserable start to the season partly because of his spleen injury, confidence issues, and forgetting how to block his man without having to hold. But, he quickly turned it around and has broken the team's all-time receptions record in the process. Congratulations.

Top 3 Busts:

1. Tony Romo

A. You can't have more interceptions than touchdowns. You just can't. Especially since you're in your 8th season as a full-time starter. Romo is not that young guy with a ton of potential anymore... he's 32 years old and has already peaked.
B. But when you do throw an interception, they can't be pick 6's. At least give your defense a f-ing chance.

2. Doug Free

After getting PAID in the offseason, he has proceeded to thank the organization by committing as many false starts and holding penalties as he can. No doubt, Doug Free has been the biggest disappointment on both the offensive and defensive lines.

3. Dez Bryant

I would like to start by saying that I am a huge Dez fan. I think he is one of the most talented players in the league. But his inability to focus throughout the entire game and his recent drops problem has really hurt his confidence. Basically, he has lost the swagger that makes him a special player. I just don't see the guy that fights for balls or makes people miss anymore. I used to blame his lack of production on coaching, play calling, and Romo, but maybe he just doesn't get it. Maybe he doesn't get how good he can be, and most importantly, he doesn't understand how hard you have to work to get there.

Looking to the second half of the year, it doesn't get any easier. Dallas still has two games against Vick and the Eagles (who are also underperforming), two games against the explosive RGIII and the Redskins, a tough game on the road in Cincinnati, and home games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans. I wouldn't be surprised if there are more Steelers and Saints fans in Cowboys stadium during those two games.

With that schedule, a 4-4 finish would be considered a successful 2nd half to the year. But like I mentioned earlier, I would rather go 0-8.

I am definitely feeling those Cowboys blues.

Photo and video content courtesy of,

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eddy Curry: The Return

It has been 3 years since Eddy Curry played more than 10 minutes in a meaningful game. The previous time was Miami Heat's season finale which had no impact on playoff seeding and ended up in a 34-point loss. The stage was finally set for Curry to get playing time against one of the top front lines in the league, and he played 17 meaningful minutes in an opening day victory against the highly-hyped, new-look Lakers. He looked energized, and for the first time in years, he was enjoying playing basketball in the NBA again.

Dallas Mavericks are clearly in a time of transition with 9 new players to their roster. With injuries to Dirk Nowitzki and veteran center Chris Kaman, Dallas was forced to bring in more front court depth. Who knew Mark Cuban would take a chance on Eddy Curry, who was just released by the San Antonio Spurs. Last night Eddy Curry showed up and reminded the national audience of a time when he was the 4th pick in the 2001 draft full of promise and potential. 7 points and 4 rebounds in 17 minutes might not seem like much, but Curry was one of the most physical players on the court while going against Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

A year and a half ago I wrote a story about the fall of Eddy Curry. I was hopeful that one day he would finally get his life together and find success. Curry has taken the first step, and although Dallas Mavericks could release him shortly after Kaman and Nowitzki return, I think it’s safe to say that everyone watching last night’s game took notice. It’s been 11 years since Eddy Curry was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, but sometimes we forget that Curry is still only 29 with very little mileage on that oversized body.

Look how far he's come.
In the end, Eddy Curry passed the eye test -- he looked strong and agile for the first time in 5 years. Of course I am the first to admit that Eddy has a long way to go, but I will end with the words of Mark Cuban, "The Curri-nator!" Maybe, just maybe, the Curri-nator is finally back.

Photos courtesy of AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, and Noah Graham/Getty Images

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ball So Harden University

I loved James Harden in college.  Even while donning that tacky maroon and gold Arizona State uniform, he played with the smoothness and savvy of a 10-year veteran instead of just an underaged sophomore.  Though his Sun Devils team exceeded expectations, they never made any serious noise in the madness that is March, but I had a sneaking suspicion that his game would translate perfectly into the NBA.

I hated James Harden last year.  The Miami Heat are my most hated team in all of sports, and I spent the first week of the 2012 playoffs crunching numbers trying to figure out which Western Conference team had the best shot at making sure LeBron James stayed crownless.  The Mavericks and the Jazz weren’t making it out of the first round.  The Nuggets were coached by George Karl.  The Clippers had no post presence and were coached by Vinny Del Negro.  The Lakers had no offensive identity, and the Thunder had zero offensive-minded bigs to attack Miami’s greatest weakness (and not to mention that OKC also had Russell Westbrook as a key decision-maker).  So all my hopes and dreams in the 2012 NBA season rested on the shoulders of the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies.  The Spurs had the best coach in the league in Gregg Popovich, a young, lengthy defender in Kawhi Leonard, shooters at every position, and the often-overlooked Tim Duncan down low.  The Grizzlies had a pair of big men that would’ve thrown Chris Bosh around like a velociraptor chew toy.  Long story short, the Grizzlies lost a nail-biting series to the Clippers, and James Harden hit the biggest shot in the WC Finals against the Spurs with a cold-blooded three-pointer in the waning moments of game 5.

Of course, Harden went on to struggle mightily in the NBA Finals, but the defeat wasn’t his fault -- it was inevitable.   It definitely wasn’t his fault that he was often given the defensive assignment of LeBron.  For as much as I hate flopping, I can’t even blame Harden for trying, as it was truly his only option guarding the monster MVP in the post.  The Thunder had zero chance of beating the Heat; it was just a matter of how many games it would take before they folded.

But the writing was already on the wall, championship or not.  The timer was ticking down.  The Thunder had invested heavily in Westbrook and Durant, and you didn’t need a mathematician to tell you that GM Sam Presti would have to choose between James Harden or Serge Ibaka.  I started asking anyone who would respond for their thoughts on the matter.  If you were Presti and could only pay one, who would it be?

I said Serge Ibaka.  In a world where quality big men are so far and few between, I-blocka is only 23 and still raw.  The man only started playing basketball a few years ago.  Read that sentence again.  Most importantly, Serge fulfills a role on the Thunder that is harder to replace.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not taking anything away from James Harden as he was the best playmaker on the team, but it’s no secret that his playing style did not fit perfectly with OKC’s other two stars.  Harden excelled coming off the bench because he could run the show, and the bottom line for the Thunder was that it would be much more difficult to replicate everything that Serge brings to the table.  (Note: not a blanket statement for every team, just specifically the Thunder.)

Naturally, the Oklahoma City would have loved to keep both players, but where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, and the team showed its true colors by giving Serge Ibaka a 4-year, $48 million extension.

This is the part of the story where people chime in and blame James Harden for his selfish lack of loyalty to the team that drafted him.  Westbrook, Harden, and Durant were the most tight-knit trio of teammates in the NBA, so he should have sacrificed for the team, right?

Don’t make James Harden out to be the bad guy.  This is the abbreviated sequence of events:
1. The Thunder made it rain for everybody else on the team first, including the aforementioned deal for Ibaka and a 5-year, $79 million deal for Westbrook.  
2.  The Thunder approached Harden with a 4-year extension in the $54 million vicinity, knowing full well that he would get a max offer worth over $20 million more from multiple teams if he were to get traded or hit the open market.  
3.  Harden turned down the offer because it was less than his market value.  
4.  The Thunder traded Harden to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and picks.

It’s important to note that we’re not just talking about a discount of a couple million dollars here.  We’re talking over $20 million.  And I hate to be repetitive, but that OKC team did not have a shred of a hope to ever beat the Heat, assuming they even made it back to the Finals again.

My thoughts on the trade?  Well, I’m a numbers guy, so let me try to explain it the way I see it.  Looking ahead to the 2013 summer free agent market, I am convinced that Daryl Morey and the Rockets would have offered James Harden a max deal regardless.  On the court, he should be a great fit with Jeremy Lin, as the two of them are two of the best pick-and-roll players in the game.  In addition to his offensive prowess is his defensive talent -- the Rockets were prepared to begin the season with a Lin/Martin backcourt; think about how every other team must have been salivating at that matchup.  Harden is not big enough to guard LeBron (who is?), but he holds his own against other wing players his size.

So let’s pretend it’s next summer, and the Rockets offer James Harden a max deal.  What are the odds he actually chooses Houston over the other suitors, notably the Phoenix Suns or the Dallas Mavericks?  Given our recent track record, I would say I’m being generous with a 30% probability, with a 50% chance of him landing in Dallas.

And now let’s rewind to the present day.  Morey has until the Wednesday deadline to sign Harden to a contract extension, which hopefully is in the 95% probability range.

The million dollar question: Is that extra 65% likelihood of James Harden being a long-term Houston Rocket worth losing Jeremy Lamb, a Toronto lottery pick, and a Dallas first round pick?  My mind wants to say yes, but my heart still longs for some Lamb.  The cynical side of me is thinking that the Thunder had all the leverage here.  They could have easily tried to make another deep playoff run this season with Harden and still had the same opportunities to sign-and-trade him next year, so the fact that Presti pulled the trigger on this deal days before the start of the regular season must mean that it was, in fact, a hell of a deal that the Thunder couldn’t pass up.

But then I remember my mantra when it comes to all things Houston Rockets: IN MOREY I TRUST.  Acquiring James Harden now should lock him up for years to come, and if all goes as planned, next summer Houston will still have enough money left over for a big splash in free agency.  It stings losing Jeremy Lamb, but like my elementary school PE teacher used to always say during a game of “around the world” on the blacktop: no guts, no glory.

Daryl Morey obviously has the guts.  Let’s hope that the glory will follow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Standing Ovation: Tracy McGrady

I would like to give a standing ovation to Tracy McGrady as he leaves for China. T-Mac is one of my favorite players of all-time. Even as a diehard Mavericks fan, I have no problem admitting that.

I've always admired his physical gifts and talents on the basketball court. McGrady, in his prime, was a 6' 8" forward with the court vision of a top point guard and the finishing ability of a dominant big man. I've always felt that his biggest attribute was his extremely high basketball IQ -- respectable basketball minds such as Jeff Van Gundy even alluded to the fact that it may have been too high for his own good and was ultimately, a detriment to his success.

To this day, I still firmly believe that his versatility is unmatched. He could either face you up out in the perimeter, where he had the ability to rise up and shoot over you, or back you down in the post, using his supreme footwork and knowledge of angles. He was unstoppable in the pick and roll game and his length allowed him to be an above average defender (when he wanted to be) and rebounder.

At the peak of his powers, you couldn't guard him with single coverage nor could you guard him by sending a double team because he would pick you apart with his anticipation and passing ability. Schematically on defense, he left coaches in a bind. Plus, his jab step power dribble to a reverse pivot to a spinning fadeaway jumper from 20 feet is still one of the most physically ridiculous go-to moves ever.

Undoubtedly, injuries robbed him from having one of the best careers in league history, but I don't want him to be remembered for "what could have been." I want people to focus on his off the court accomplishments as well as what he's meant for the game of basketball.

I leave you with his own words from his blog:

Goodbye NBA, Hello China

There are times in life that a new road presents itself and it appears this time has come for me now. I am so proud of what I have accomplished these past 15 years playing in the NBA. It was a dream entering the league as I just turned 18 years old. I worked hard and poured my heart and soul into this game. I consider myself a student of the game as I have watched, studied and played with and against the best players in the world. The NBA was my University and I learned so much. The gratitude I feel is really immeasurable. I have experienced the best moments a player can experience and have had some dark ones too. Both equally important in helping shape me into the man I am today.

As I leave the league for now, there have been so many profound people who inspired me along my way. I have to say thank you for guiding me and having an enormous influence on the way I played basketball. Isaiah Thomas, Rich Devos, Leslie Alexander and John Gabriel, you believed in me and I thank you. Jeff Van Gundy, you exemplified the brilliance of what a great coach is. Steven A. Smith, you gave us players a voice and for that I thank you. Doug Christy, Charles Oakley, Dee Brown, Mugsy Bogues, Antonio Davis, Dell Curry, Kevin Willis, you all showed a young kid from Auburndale Florida how to be a better player. Kobe, you made me work harder and it was an honor to play against you. And Yao, we shared an experience together that will always be with me, thank you. Sonny & Pam Vaccarro showed me how there is loyalty and genuine friendship in this business. Arn Tellem and Tim Hoy, 15 years and you are still my agents. Thank you for guiding me throughout my career. When all is said and done, there is so many that made an impact on my life. I am one blessed man to have the love and never ending support of my wife CleRenda and the best 4 kids a man can ask for. But most important, I give glory and thanks to God. It is thru Him that I have been so blessed and I am forever thankful.

As I enter this next chapter, I am excited to play for Qingdao Eagles in China. I have been to China several times in the last few years and I love the people and the country. It will be an honor to play for them. Thank you to every fan that has followed me and believed in me. Injuries and all, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am proud of the mark I left on this game and am grateful to have been a part this league. It was a dream to play in front of all of you, each night, in every stadium. Thank you.


Photo and video content courtesy of:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jersey Shore: Cabs Are Here!

After watching a couple of the trailers for the final season of the Jersey Shore with Boyz II Men playing in the background, it really hit me that this was the final time we would see the gang.

While I know the show is not Emmy Awards material or even remotely close to anything similar, this show brought on a ton of laughs and a ton of shame.  Take 7-8 ordinary Italian-Americans (yes I know Snooki is actually Chilean, but whatever), throw them into a house and make them work with each other -- you are bound for a series of laughs.  Guidos/Guidettes, whatever you want to call them, make for hilariously stupid television.

Mike the Situation brought nothing but "what the hell" moments and thoughts of how is one person so vain?  The lovable Pauly D, who managed to spin off into his own show, inspired us all with his calls for T-Shirt time and Cabs are HERE!  And you can't leave out asinine moments of glory with Snooki.  You had to wonder, was she really this stupid?

All and all, I'm sad to see this show go.  It had a great run while it lasted.  Now it has spawned new shows across the world, from England with Geordie Shore to Spain with Gandia Shore.  An endless supply of debauchery and shame is at our finger tips.  Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Brighton Beach (New York's Coney Island) and Wicked Summer (Boston) if they make it to MTV.  Isn't this what we all need more of?  Loud-mouthed New Yorkers spewing their pride and Bostonians with wicked accents telling us how to "pahk a cah in Hahvahd Yahd"?  Here's a link for a casting call and what Wicked Summer is gonna be all about.

Last call, everyone.  The cabs are here to take us to the end.  No more GTL.  No more smushing in the smush room.  Thanks Jersey for everything.

photos courtesy of,,,

Friday, September 28, 2012

NFL Quarterbacks: BANG! Characters

After seeing this meme, a thought popped into my mind: "If Brett Favre was a character in Bang!, he would be Calamity Janet."

Calamity Janet is a character in the popular card game, Bang!, who can use "Bang!" cards as "Missed!" cards and vice versa. She is still subject to "Bang!" limitations: If she plays a Missed! card as a "Bang!", she cannot play another "Bang!" card that turn (unless she has a Volcanic in play). (4 life points)

Why would I say this? Well in Brett Favre's mind, TD's and Interceptions are interchangeable, and that is why he leads the NFL in both categories. In the same way, Calamity Janet can interchange the use of her bang and miss cards.

This got me thinking about all the current 32 quarterbacks in the league and who they would be if there were characters from the card game Bang!.

Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb (Vulture Sam) whenever a character is eliminated from the game, Sam takes all the cards that player had in his hand and in play, and adds them to his hand. (4 life points)

Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and John Skelton were all starting quarterbacks that had to get hurt in order for Kevin Kolb to start. This make him the classic Vulture Sam. When the QB goes down, Kolb puts down the clipboard and finds his helmet.

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan (Jose Delgado) Twice in his turn, he may discard a blue card from the hand to draw 2 cards. In the first edition of the expansion, he could use his ability as long as he had blue cards in hand. (4 life points)

Arriving in Atlanta with little talent around him, Matt Ryan has seen steady weapon upgrades until the Falcons ran out of draft picks to trade. Management has done well trading in their blue cards for key pieces like Michael Turner and Julio Jones. Now with nothing left to trade, can Matt Ryan take his team further into the playoffs?  

Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco (Molly Stark) Each time she uses a card from her hand out of turn, she draws a card. (4 life points)

Nothing is more annoying that someone drawing out of turn, and that's exactly what Molly Stark's power entails. In the same way, Joe Flacco has been running his mouth out of turn. Seriously, best quarterback in the league?! I would say top 15 if he's lucky. Even Eli just put himself in the top 5, and that was well after he had won his first ring and took home a second ring to boot.  

Buffalo Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Pedro Ramirez) During phase 1 of his turn, he may choose to draw the first card from the top of the discard pile or from the deck. Then he draws the second card from the deck. (4 life points)

Getting to pick from the discard pile might be seem like an advantage at first, kind of like going to Harvard and having the whole league underestimate you. But soon the rest of the league figures you out and the only advantage you are getting is drawing from the junk heap.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton (Slab the Killer) Players trying to cancel his BANG! cards need to play 2 Missed!. The Barrel effect, if successfully used, only counts as one Missed! (4 life points)

Cam can hurt you in on the ground and through the airs, and defenses better be ready to stop both. Just like Slab the Killer, opponents better have two misses in their hand if they want to survive his attack. When you choose Slab, you get a huge target on your back and Cam has the same target.

Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler (Black Jack) During phase 1 of his turn, he must show the second card he draws: if it's a Heart or Diamond, he draws one additional card that turn (without revealing it). (4 life points)

Jay Cutler loves to gamble and sometimes that means coming up empty. Black Jack hits 50% of the time, and it is safe to say that's about the same success rate as Jay Cutler. There are days he wins big and there are days you wish he never came to work.

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton (Madam Yto) Each time a BEER card is played, she immediately draws a card. (4 life points)

Andy Dalton has been flying under the radar his entire career, starting with dominating college football for a non-BCS school and never getting the credit he deserved. Now in the NFL it's no different. While people focus on big names like RG3, Andrew Luck, and Cam Newton, Andy keeps improving and getting back his life points under the radar.

Cleveland Browns:  Brandon Weeden (Jesse Jones) During phase 1 of his turn, he may choose to draw the first card from the deck, or randomly from the hand of any other player. Then he draws the second card from the deck. (4 life points)

Getting labeled as a man with potential at 28 is like stealing youth, in the same way Jesse Jones has the ability to steal a card from another player every turn. Brandon Weeden also had the worse first start in NFL history, yet there is little to no chatter about giving Colt McCoy another chance (who, by the way, is two years younger). If this isn't straight up robbery, I don't know what is.

Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo (Rose Doolan) She is considered to have an Scope in play at all times; she sees the other players at a distance decreased by 1. If she has another real Scope in play, she can count both of them, reducing her distance to all other players by a total of 2. (4 life points)

Tony Romo has great accuracy and stats to die for, and clearly plays extremely hard in the first few months of the seasons, just like Rose Doolan has a great advantage early in the game. But as the game progresses, Rose's advantage seems to become less of a factor. In the same way, Romo has struggled in December and has had very little playoff success. He might have the ability and the stats, but will need to prove late season success before he can shake off the Rose Doolan connection.

Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning (Kit Carlson) During the phase 1 of his turn, he looks at the top three cards of the deck: he chooses 2 to draw, and puts the other one back on the top of the deck, face down.( 4 life points)

King of the audible, Peyton is always one step ahead of the defense. Kit Carlson's ability gives him the edge on getting better cards, and also setting up the next player in line. Peyton might have missed a season, but its only a matter of time before he starts reading the defenses and calling the right plays.

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford (Pixie Pete) He draws 3 cards instead of 2. In the first edition of the expansion, Pixie Pete draws 4 cards. (3 life points)

Getting an additional draw card might be the biggest advantage in the game, and Matthew Stafford might have the most talented supporting cast and has the best WR in the game in Calvin Johnson. Like Pixie Pete, Matthew has one huge drawback and that is the amount of injuries he has experience, or in Pete's case, the lack of life points. The enemy knows that and will exploit that to their best ability.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers (Bart Cassidy) Each time he loses a life point, he immediately draws a card from the deck. (4 life points)

Rodgers thrives on 3rd down conversions, in the same way Bart gets additional ammunition when you take away his life points. Of course, it's never a good idea to wait till 3rd down to try to get that 1st down, but it's good to know that Aaron Rodgers has proven himself time and time again.  

Houston Texans: Matt Schaub (Pat Brennan) Instead of drawing normally, he may draw only one card in play in front of any one player. (4 life points)

Matt's career has been up and down, and has really be dependent of those around him. Now that he finally has the weapons around him, like Pat Brennan, he is going to take full advantage of that. With Foster and Johnson to support Schaub, the rest of the league better take notice because the Texans are ready to play.

Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck (Paul Regret) He is considered to have a Mustang in play at all times; all other players must add 1 to the distance to him. If he has another real Mustang in play, he can count both of them, increasing all distance to him by a total of 2. (3 life points)

Growing up as the son of an NFL quarterback, Andrew Luck has had all the advantages. Some might say he had a leg up, or in Paul Regret's case a Mustang. Although only at the start of his career, Luck will have every edge of being the top pick of the draft, but eventually he will have to earn everything himself. That Mustang won't have much relevance once the big guns come out. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert (Jourdonnais) He is considered to have Barrel in play at all times; he can"draw!" when he is the target of a BANG!, and on a Heart he is missed. If he has another real Barrel card in play he can count both of them, giving him two chances to cancel the BANG! before playing a Missed! (4 life points)

Blaine Gabbert clearly has a guardian angel by his side. Or maybe he's just Jourdonnais with his human barrel drawing heart after heart. Blaine was statistically the worse quarterback of all time last year, yet he still has avoided being benched and seems to have the full trust of a bad organization. Lucky for him, MJD made it back for game one of this season.

Kansas City Chiefs:  Matt Cassel (Tequila Joe) Each time he plays a Beer, he regains 2 life points instead of 1 (4 life points).

Matt Cassel has been on life support and lucky for him he is Tequila Joe. Getting chance after chance and even a huge pay day after subbing in for Tom Brady for a year. Matt Cassel has got twice the amount of chances other quarterbacks have been getting of late, or maybe he's just lucky no one in Kansas City can throw the ball.

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill (Lucky Duke) Each time he is required to "draw!", he flips the top two cards from the deck, and chooses the result he prefers. Discard both cards afterward. (4 life points)

Ryan Tannehill seems to always know what's coming. Not only was he well overrated in the draft after a poor season at Texas A&M. His old coach was fired and only to find a job as the offensive coordinator of a team that has questions at quarterback. That's like getting to flip two cards over to find a heart card to get out of jail. Ryan's luck just keeps coming, but eventually it will run out, or will it? 

Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder (Herb Hunter) Each time another player is eliminated, he draws 2 extra cards. (4 life points)

Christian Ponder is another quarterback that took advantage of the fate of others. After the Brett Favre experiment blew up in the Vikings face and McNabb turned out to be totally washed up. In stepped rookie Christian Ponder!

New England Patriots: Tom Brady (Belle Star) During her turn, cards in play in front of other players have no effect. (4 life points)

Tom Brady has been playing the same way for over a decade now, and during that time none of his teammates have really stuck around. Every few years he has a new wide receiver and another set of running backs. It doesn't really matter what you put in front of him, his results remain solid and his team just keeps on winning.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees (Willy the Kid) He can play any number of "Bang!" cards. (4 life points)

Drew Brees is always ready to pull the trigger again. It takes many complete passes to break the season record for passing yards. If you give Drew the opportunity he will go out and unload on your defense, in the same way Willy the Kid could end your turn on his first turn.

New York Giants: Eli Manning (Vera Custer) For a whole round, she gains the same ability of another character in play of her choice. (3 life points)

There is no quarterback that plays up or plays down to the competition more than Eli Manning. In the same way Vera Custer is only going to be as good as the other players in the game. Eli Manning will always make things interesting, from throwing 25 interceptions to winning 2 Superbowls. In the end picking Vera Custer is never a boring round of BANG!

New York Jets: Mark Sanchez (Suzy Lafayette) = As soon as she has no cards in her hand, she draws a card from the draw pile. (4 life points)

Mark Sanchez seems to be out of luck in the city that has no patience, yet he just keeps getting second chances. You would think Tebow and a few weak starts would lead to a benching, but Sanchez still has the backing of his coach and team. No cards left? no problem...

Oakland Raiders: Carson Palmer (Elena Fuente) She may use any card as Missed!. (3 life points)

Carson Palmer has proven to have longevity in this league, what he has failed to do is win any meaningful games. Sometimes its just not good enough to stay alive in this league, eventually you will have to go on attack and always using cards as misses won't cut it.

Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Vick (Chuck Wengam) During his turn, he may choose to lose 1 life point to draw 2 cards. (4 life points)

High risk, high reward, that is how I would describe both Michael Vick and Chuck Wengam. Sometimes it means getting that much needed card or touchdown, or you might just end up with nothing good and bad fumble. The same people taking Vick in fantasy are the same one's willing to sacrifice a life point for two more cards.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger (Bill Noface) He draws 1 card, plus 1 card for each wound he has. (4 life points)

For some quarterbacks seem to wilt under the physical toll of a long game, Big Ben seems to only get stronger where other players wear out. Bill Noface's ability to draw an extra card for every missing life point is exactly how defenses must feel when they have their arms draped over Roethlisberger in the forth quarter to only see him complete a big pass.

San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers (Doc Holyday) Once during his turn, he may discard 2 cards from the hand to shoot a Bang!. (4 life points)

Always has the ability to shoot an opponent, but as the game goes on the cost of a desperate BANG! might just be too high, especially if your short on cards. Rivers has always proven to be a successful regular season player, but when things get tight in the post season, he usually come up empty.

San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith (El Gringo) Each time he loses a life point due to a card played by another player, he draws a random card from the hands of that player (one card for each life). If the player has no more cards, he does not draw. (3 life points)

As an opponent, there is nothing more annoying to see a sub par quarterback continue to find success in this league. Alex is a game manager, nothing more, but he doesn't put his team in a bad position and before you know it, you are losing in the 4th quarter and can't score on the Niners' defense. Don't sleep on Alex though, with his new coach he seems to be connecting with Vernon Davis for touchdowns every week.

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson (Sid Ketchum) At any time, he may discard 2 cards from his hand to regain one life point. If he is willing and able, he can use this ability more than once at a time. (4 life points)

Russell has given up one big advantage in life, and that is his height. In the same way Sid Ketchum can give up cards to gain back life points. Although Russell should have been passed up on, he just keeps coming back and proving us wrong. 

St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford (Apache Kid) Cards of Diamond played by other players do not affect him. (3 life points)

Alright, I admit it, I am clearly racist on this one. But to be fair this was way too easy of a pick, with Sam being part Native American and from Oklahoma too, he is obviously Apache Kid. Also with the way his career is going, it is clear Bradford is only good 1/4 of the time, just like Apache Kid's ability. Let's just hope next year the defenses is playing a diamond card.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman (Sean Mallory) He may hold in his hand up to 10 cards. In the first edition of the expansion, he had no limit at all to the cards in his hand. (3 life points)

The possibilities are endless when there isn't a limit to the amount of cards you can have. In the same way, that is like Josh Freeman's potential. Yet potential doesn't always lead to results, and we have seen Josh succeed and fail in his short career. In the same way, playing as Sean Mallory could being a huge advantage, or no advantage at all.

Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker (Greg Digger) Each time another player is eliminated, he regains 2 life points. (4 life points)

Jake Locker is an opportunist, just like Greg Digger. It took the mismanagement of Vince Young and the injury of Matt Hasselback for Jake to get the start. Jake Locker thrives in the chaos of failure, I guess that explains how he survived playing for the University of Washington for 4 years.

Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III (Big Spencer) He starts with 5 cards. He cannot play Missed! cards. (9 life points)

New character from one of the more recent expansions brings whole new dynamic to the game. In the same way RG3 is doing exactly that to the NFL. With a fast start and advantages like accuracy with mobility is just like starting a game with 5 cards and 9 life points. The question is, how long can RG3 continue to take the hits he took in week 3 before he regrets having no misses.

Let me know what you think and if other characters are better fits for any of the starting QBs in the league!

Photos courtesy of Getty images, Bang!, and