Sanity Injection

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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Winners and Losers

Posted by sanityinjection on September 17, 2009

I’m debuting a new feature here at Sanity Injection. Occasionally I get sort of a writer’s block because there are so many things I want to write about and never enough time. So today’s post is going to hit a number of different topics by running down my thoughts on who benefited most (winners) or who was hurt most (losers) by the news developments of the last several days. Let me know what you think; if this format proves to be popular I might make it a weekly feature.

Anyway here goes:

WINNERS:

Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad of Iran – Their crackdown against the election protesters seems to have succeeded for the time being. Meanwhile, Russia refuses to support additional sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program when even the French, who invented the art of sticking one’s head in the sand, are acknowledging that Iran is trying to build a bomb. 

Conservative activistsHundreds of thousands protest peacefully in Washington against the Obama Administration and manage to avoid embarrassing their cause while actually attracting some media attention. Simultaneously, two conservative activists manage to take down the fraud organization known as ACORN (see Losers, below.)

Sharron Thornton – A blinded Mississippi grandmother who has regained her sight after doctors implanted one of her own teeth inside her eye to hold an artificial lens in place. She will soon be able to look at the faces of her youngest grandchildren for the first time.

Hamas – Recent Western focus on the Palestinian civilian victims of the Israeli attack on Gaza ignores years of rocket attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians, while the terrorist group continues to gradually implement sharia laws making Gazans considerably less free under Hamas than they would be under Israeli control.

RussiaEverything seems to be going right for the Russian government. The media continues to buy into Medvedev and Putin’s good cop – bad cop act; relations with China are improving; no one is lifting a finger to stop the creeping annexation of the “liberated” Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; unrest in Chechnya and Ingushetia continues to provide a convenient excuse for authoritarianism; and US President Obama, far from holding Russia accountable for anything, has so far given Russia everything it wanted in arms control reductions including signing away the one thing Russia feared, a European missile defense system (see Losers, below.)

LOSERS:

Poland and the Czech Republic – Risked the wrath of their giant neighbor, Russia, by agreeing to host components of the Bush Administration’s missile defense system, only to be stabbed in the back by President Obama’s decision not to move forward with the program. Adding insult to injury, the decision was announced on the anniversary of the day Poland was invaded by Soviet Russia in 1939.

Congressman Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Serena Williams – Rude and offensive behavior apparently crosses all lines of gender, ethnicity, and politics. There is a time and place for expressing your opinions. Learning how and when to do that is part of what being an adult means. Guess these three need to repeat a few grades. Also, am I the only one who suspects that Serena Williams might be using steroids or some similar substance that might have fueled both her iron physique and her violent outburst?

Senator Max Baucus – The head of the group of Senators trying to craft a compromise health care bill ended up having to go it alone with a bill that nobody likes, not even his own Majority Leader.

ACORN – The controversial advocacy group (and favorite target of conservatives) has had all federal funding stripped from it in both House and Senate legislation after conservative activists videotaped its workers giving tax advice to a couple they thought were a pimp and a prostitute. They were also declared persona non grata by the Census Bureau as far as hiring census workers. I would argue the massive voter fraud perpetrated by the group in multiple states, for which they have been the target of prosecution by state authorities, should have warranted this step months ago, but in Washington I guess it takes a prostitution scandal to make you too hot to handle.

Everybody involved with the Hofstra gang rape case – now that the “victim” has recanted her accusations. I feel sorry for the falsely accused men, the unnecessarily frightened Hofstra students, the police whose time was wasted, the real rape victims everywhere who will have that much harder a struggle to be believed, and even the accuser herself, who must be a troubled individual to make up something like that.

Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Foreign Affairs, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

For God’s sake, Brett Favre, go away!

Posted by sanityinjection on August 18, 2009

There’s a song titled, “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?”  American football fans must be tempted to wonder if that song was written about legendary NFL quarterback, Brett Favre, who appears poised to unretire for the billionth time and play for the Minnesota Vikings.

Favre, the long-time successful and Super Bowl champion QB of the Green Bay Packers, first disgraced this blog over a year ago, when I called him a “football terrorist” for his terminal case of indecision as to whether he was going to retire. For those of you who prefer the short version of events, Favre jerked his team, the Packers, around, repeatedly changing his mind. After publicly retiring, he then asked to be released so he could play for another team – reputedly the Vikings. Rather than have to play against Favre twice a year, they suggested he return to Green Bay as the backup QB. Eventually the stalemate was resolved when Favre was traded to the New York Jets and was their starting QB last season.

After the trade, I wrote:

“Favre will make the Jets better this year – they might even make the playoffs – but he adds nothing in the long term. So again, the big winner here is the Green Bay Packers. Now they just have to hope that their young QB, Aaron Rodgers, performs well enough that the fans are not constantly second-guessing their decision.”

My comments proved to be prophetic. With Favre, the Jets improved from 4-12 to 9-7, but his play tailed off in the last half of the season as the physical stress took its toll on his aging body. The Jets did not make the playoffs. The Packers didn’t either, but Favre’s replacement, Aaron Rodgers, had a solid season. When it was over, it was clear even to Favre that he didn’t have enough left in the tank to be a starter anymore. So he retired again.

As the offseason moved on, though, Favre obtained his release from the Jets and the Minneosta Vikings tried hard to convince Favre to play for them. After putting them through the same ringer he did with Green Bay, Minnesota finally told him to fish or cut bait. He told them he was going to stay retired – and yet now various sources are reporting his signing with the Vikings is imminent. How lovely for the two quarterbacks actually in Vikings training camp working hard to earn the #1 spot. How lovely for Favre’s wife and children to never know from one minute to the next whether Daddy will be an absentee for four months again this year.

Ultimately, the words to describe Favre’s behavior are “childish” and “selfish”. Once beloved around the league, he has destroyed his legacy and made himself into a buffoon. It’s questionable whether he can last a full season with the Vikings. Favre genuinely loves to play football, but there comes a time when you have to assess yourself realistically and realize that you can’t play at that level anymore.  For Favre, that time has clearly passed.

Ironically, the best thing that could happen to Favre would be to fail the team physical and be spared what lies ahead of him – widespread antipathy and further obvious degradation of his football skills. In Green Bay, where mothers used to name their children after him, Favre will be deservedly booed when he shows up in a Vikings uniform. Much like those who will root against the Philadelphia Eagles for signing convicted animal torturer Michael Vick, millions of football fans will wish failure upon the Minnesota Vikings for aiding and abetting this man-child’s enormous ego. And I will be one of them.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Let’s tell the truth about “grunting” in women’s tennis

Posted by sanityinjection on July 8, 2009

Watching the finals of the Wimbledon tennis tournament this weekend, I was reminded of the continuing controversy over the loud “grunting” noises made by a number of women’s tennis players, including the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova. There has been much discussion of this practice, with many tennis figures weighing in to either attack or defend it.

It is generally agreed that Monica Seles was the first big-time women’s tennis player to engage in this practice, encouraged by some coaches as a way of reducing stress. Younger players saw Seles’ success and copied the noise along with other aspects of her game.

However, I have yet to hear anyone tell the truth about this so-called “grunting”. In fact, it’s not grunting at all. “Shrieking” would be more like it. A blind person could well be forgiven for thinking that the ladies in question were engaged in vigorous lovemaking or delivering babies based on the sounds they are making. And it’s not simply an issue of being ladylike. Even the men don’t make such noises. Roger Federer and Andy Roddick played a 4-hour final on Sunday and neither one felt the need to shriek at any time.

If this were simply a matter of a natural sound that was the by-product of physical exertion – a true “grunt” if you will – then I would agree that all this would be much ado about nothing. However, the truth is that what these women are doing is deliberately being as loud as they can in order to pump themselves up psychologically and distract and startle their opponents. After all, when was the last time you heard a baseball player screech when hitting the ball? Even boxers don’t emit such sounds when they beat each other to a pulp.

Tennis authorities have discussed implementing rules to sanction players who are too loud. I’m not sure how you enforce that – how do you decide what decibel level is OK? For some players, it has become so routine that they may not even realize that they are doing it. Rather, I think it should be the coaches who train tennis players from an early age who should put a stop to this practice. And the media should stop calling it “grunting”.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Myron Rolle: A parenting success story

Posted by sanityinjection on May 27, 2009

Unless you are an avid college football fan in general, or of Florida State in particular, you have probably never heard of Myron Rolle. I hadn’t, either. But Myron’s story is an instructive one in ways that having nothing to do with sports.

Myron was the starting safety for FSU for most of three years. Normally, such a player would be headed for the NFL. And indeed, Myron has a top-level athletic trainer to help him do just that.

But Myron is not your average football player. Many college football players struggle to graduate, or leave school to go pro without graduating. They often major in fields such as “excercise science” and avoid taking rigorous courses. Myron didn’t choose that path. His major was pre-med, and he not only graduated from FSU – he graduated with a full courseload in only 2 1/2 years. Now instead of heading for the NFL, he’s headed to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar to prepare for what he hopes will be a career as a neurosurgeon AND a pro football player. He intends to return after a year to play in the NFL. How’s that for ambitious?

Of course Myron is not the only college football player who is smart and has big dreams.  What seems to be unusual about Myron is his work ethic (in non-athletic as well as athletic pursuits) and his maturity level as far as planning for his future rather than simply living for the moment as many 22-year-olds would be. Myron’s hero isn’t a rapper, a football star like Terrell Owens or even someone like Barack Obama. He’s a gangly white dude named Bill Bradley, who successfully enjoyed a career as a nationally known pro athlete and a nationally known politician.

The question that arises after hearing Myron’s story is: Why is Myron poised for such maturity and success while so many athletes his age are getting in trouble with drugs and thugs and fathering children out of wedlock?

There are many answers, of course. Some of Myron’s fine qualities are probably inherited. The fact that he is an immigrant from a poorer country (the Bahamas) probably also serves to motivate him. But I would argue that the biggest factor in Myron’s success to date is probably his parents – Beverly and Whitney Rolle. Mr. and Mrs. Rolle instilled their children with values of respect and discipline, but also devoted themselves to nurturing their children’s minds as well as their bodies. And the proof is in the pudding, as Myron’s siblings are doing well in their own lives.

Myron Rolle is merely an extreme example of a pattern that emerges over and over again. When a child is raised by two parents who are both heavily involved in his or her life, who teach by setting a good example for their kids to follow,  who stress the importance of moral values and education – such a child is far more likely than not to achieve success in life. It doesn’t matter whether the family is rich or poor, black or white, religious or secular. It is past time for our society to acknowledge that this is by far the most successful model for child-rearing and hold it up as a desirable goal. Although there are heroic single parents – many who didn’t choose that status – who overcome many challenges and raise fine children, we have to stop pretending that single parenthood is an equally valid and desirable choice. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests otherwise.

We must also reject the even more disturbing trend in which parents expect schools to raise their children for them. Today’s schools have become day care facilities, doctor’s offices, therapists, police and everything else besides institutions of learning, because parents cannot (or too often will not) take responsibility for their children. If you think I am overstating the case, ask a teacher. They see it every day.

Wouldn’t it be great if, when we teach our kids about sex and pregnancy, we also teach them that being a parent is about more than popping out a kid, feeding and clothing them and hoping they turn out OK while going on with our lives just as we did before?

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Patriots did not get suckered in Cassel trade to Chiefs

Posted by sanityinjection on March 3, 2009

I can’t refrain from commenting on one of the biggest sports stories of the past weekend. In a major trade, the NFL’s New England Patriots sent quarterback Matt Cassel along with linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs, and received one high second round draft pick in return.

The trade is getting a lot of attention in the sports press for three reasons:

1) On its face, it seems like a terrible deal for the Patriots, who are not known for making terrible deals but rather the opposite. Cassel was the Patriots’ starting quarterback in 2008 after the early injury to megastar Tom Brady, and by most accounts performed well. Vrabel is a widely respected 12-year veteran and Pro Bowler who, although he is entering the downside of his career, still brings a lot to the table both on the field and as a leader in the locker room.

2) The Chiefs’ new general manager is Scott Pioli, former personnel head for the Patriots. There has been talk that Patriots coach Bill Belichick deliberately gave his friend and former colleague a sweet deal, although he’s not exactly known for doing such things.

3) Apparently, the deal happened after an earlier three-way trade with Denver and Tampa Bay collapsed which would have given the Patriots a first-round draft choice rather than a second-round pick.

Sportswriters are excitedly joining one of three camps – those who feel the Patriots got snookered, those who feel the Patriots gave the Chiefs a sweetheart deal, and those who feel that the Patriots are being underestimated and that the deal ultimately will not prove to be as lopsided as it looks.

I count myself firmly in the latter camp. The Patriots would have had to pay Cassel about $15 million in 2009 if they kept him. With Tom Brady expected to recover in time for the fall season, that is way too much to spend on a backup QB. Thus, the Patriots *had* to trade Cassel. Yet, the market wasn’t flooded with offers for him because of the high price tag, even from teams like Detroit and Minnesota that badly need QB help. The truth is that Cassel performed well in 2008 behind the Patriots’ offensive line, but one good year doesn’t tell us much about how Cassel will perform on a rebuilding team with a shaky offensive line. Pioli drafted Cassel so his interest is stronger than other GMs.

As for Vrabel, he’s a proven commodity, but his on-field performance last year for the Patriots declined noticeably. His value to a team like Kansas City will be higher as a veteran leader with Super Bowl experience.

With the money the Patriots save by trading Cassel, they can go after free agents who could help address weaknesses on the team, such as pass rusher Julius Peppers.

So I think that by this time next year, the trade will not seem as lopsided as it does now. The only part of the deal that might represent a little sentimentality is sending Vrabel to KC on his current contract rather than letting him become a free agent after his value has declined. That’s a fitting tribute to a player that was instrumental in New England’s Super Bowl victories.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Should Michael Vick be allowed to return to the NFL?

Posted by sanityinjection on February 19, 2009

Now that the NFL offseason has begun, speculation has commenced regarding the future of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick. Even those who are not avid football fans may recall Vick’s staggering fall from star quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons to incarceration at Leavenworth federal prison after conviction on felony dogfighting charges. Vick’s prison sentence will be ending this summer, raising the question of whether he could be reinstated after his release to play football in the 2009 season. Vick was suspended indefinitely without pay after pleading guilty to the charges. In order for him to return, the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell would have to lift that suspension, and then a team would have to acquire the rights to Vick through a trade with the Falcons, with whom he remains under contract, but who have clearly stated will not play him again.

I’ve seen a few columns on this question, of which this one is probably the most thorough. Essentially, there are three different factors to consider, which I would label as the football factor, the public relations/marketing factor, and the moral/ethical factor.

First, the football factor. Can Vick play well enough to be an asset to an NFL team? I think there is broad agreement that the answer to this question is yes. Before his abrupt departure from the sport, Vick was known as one of the finer pure athletes in the NFL. That athletic ability is unlikely to be too diminished once he is able to resume a proper training regimen. Vick’s quarterback skills have been questioned, but depending on his price Vick could make a scary backup for a number of teams even if no one wanted to give him a starting job. However, there is no lack of other quarterback prospects out there, with promising youths coming out of the college ranks on a regular basis. What is questionable is whether Vick’s football talents exceed the others by enough to outweigh the non-football factors that come with him.

Such as the public relations factor. Vick’s crime was one that is particularly repugnant to many. Animal welfare groups such as the Humane Society and PETA have suggested they might protest any team that signed Vick. And more mainstream folk might feel a reluctance to cheer for Vick or (just as importantly) buy Vick jerseys or shoes. With more NFL players getting arrested for various reasons, the league and its teams have an interest in presenting themselves as organizations which pride themselves on the character of their players, coaches, and staff. Vick would be an obvious embarrassment in that regard. However, there have been several players convicted of misdemeanors who returned to the NFL. Vick’s crime is also more complicated because it involved gambling on the dogfights, and the NFL has in the past taken a hard line against players found to have participated in illegal gambling.

Finally, there is the moral/ethical factor. Does Vick deserve a second chance? Some columnists have pointed out correctly that Vick will have served his sentence and paid for his crime. Why, they ask, should he be punished further by denying him the right to earn his living? After all, Vick left college before earning his degree; football has been his only career.

I would argue that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, and not a right. Even the lowest-paid NFL players make six-figure salaries, while many college players fail to make the cut and never receive the opportunities Vick has had. When a convicted felon is released from prison, he cannot necessarily expect to resume the career he had before his conviction, and may have to learn a new career. Vick should be no exception. If that means peddling cell phones at the mall, as a Denver running back did last year before being re-signed by his team, so be it.

If I were an NFL general manager, I think I would have a hard time justifying the decision to employ Michael Vick over another quarterback with no off-field issues. But the question remains whether commissioner Goodell should reinstate Vick and allow the teams to make that decision for themselves. With other players, Goodell has generally been willing to grant second chances provided the player is sincere about reforming himself, as I have no doubt Vick would be. But as a lawyer and someone deeply aware of the league’s financial and image concerns, Goodell may not be so inclined to be charitable. I think Goodell will probably agree to talk with Vick, but would be completely justified in refusing to reinstate him. Drawing that line could have a positive effect as a sharp warning to other players who have had run-ins with the law that they risk losing the opportunity of a lifetime if they keep it up.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »

Christians in action: An object lesson

Posted by sanityinjection on February 5, 2009

There is a significant segment of American society which views organized Christianity with fear, distrust, and downright hostility. Especially the variety that is commonly espoused in a conservative Southern state like Texas. To this segment of Americans, Christians are uptight, intolerant, and rigid people who want to take away the freedoms of others. While this view is admittedly not totally without foundation in the actions of some Christians today and in the past, it is largely inaccurate and unfair.

Of course, there are a lot of people who claim to be Christians but really don’t act like it, contributing to confusion. To help reduce that confusion, I offer the following highly unusual story of true Christians in action, which took place at a high school football game in Texas:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3789373

I must admit, as a non-Christian myself, my first reaction was one of incredulity. Weren’t these folks taking it a bit far? After all, the “athletes” of Gainesville State were not merely underprivileged youths, but “kids with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery”.  One Gainesville player named Gerald complains that people are frequently “lookin’ at us like we’re criminals.”  It might not be a bad idea for someone to remind Gerald that he and his teammates *are* criminals. Minimizing one’s criminal past is not generally considered to be a productive step in rehabilitation.

That, however, is not the responsibility of the folks at  Grapevine Faith. Rather, being a bunch of the aforementioned scurrilous Christians, they looked to their Bibles and saw that Jesus spent much of his time ministering to society’s outcasts, specifically including criminals. Their faith teaches that every human life has value, and at the behest of their football coach, decided to make a prominent demonstration of that belief.

The issue is not whether Grapevine’s actions will ultimately have any significant impact on the Gainesville kids’ lives. Rather, what’s important is what their behavior says about the Grapevine folks. They went way beyond any reasonable expectation of their normal duties as hosts, because they felt it was what their faith called upon them to do. At a time when many so-called Christians are accused of hypocrisy (and often with justification), these people proved themselves to be the opposite. Whether we believe, agree, or approve, or not, there is no question in my mind that the true spirit of Christianity flourished for one night in Texas in November of 2008.

So the next time you hear or read someone trashing Christianity and Christians, think about the Grapevine Faith folks and ask yourself if you would have done what they did.

Posted in Religion, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Iran punishes soccer players for playing soccer

Posted by sanityinjection on January 26, 2009

The new conventional wisdom here in our kinder, gentler, Obamiffier America is that if we just treat Iran like any other normal country, they’ll behave more like any other country.

With this in mind, consider the following. The managers and coaches of the men’s and women’s teams of a soccer club in Iran have been suspended and fined for the crime of allowing the men’s and women’s teams to – gasp! play a soccer match against each other!

This heinous and vile crime of course immediately led to a huge sex orgy between the players followed by the triumph of Satan on earth.

No, just kidding. The men’s team won 7-0.  No sex, kissing or batting of eyelashes was reported. It was, however, the first sporting event between men and women in Iran’s history.

In Iran, it is illegal for members of one gender to even watch the other gender playing soccer. This policy is so stupid and has so little to do with Islam or Iranian culture that even President Ahmadinejad, a hard-line conservative, recommended that it be changed.  Of course, it’s the guys in the turbans that really run Iran, so Ahmadinejad was ignored.

I recall playing soccer as a youth on mixed teams of girls and boys. I think the soccer field was probably the one place in my life where I spent the least time thinking about girls as amorous objects, because I was too busy viewing them as soccer players – sweating and often dirty ones at that.  At most, I might have noticed a cute ponytail here or there. Which wouldn’t be a problem in Iran because the female players keep their hair covered when they play, in keeping with the Islamic tradition of their country.

If the Iranian mullahs honestly think that men and women are going to be tempted to fornicate if you allow them to coexist – even as opponents – on a soccer field for a limited length of time, they really need to pull their collective thumbs out of their collective asses and try to rediscover how ordinary people behave. Maybe then they wouldn’t be so afraid of their own people.

But I’m sure if we just start being nice to them, they’ll turn into enlightened, peaceful neighbors and stop supporting Islamic terrorists. Right?

This is what we’re up against. You can’t reason with crazy.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Coach fired for winning??

Posted by sanityinjection on January 26, 2009

You must have heard about this one by now.  The girls’ basketball coach of a private Christian high school was fired after his team beat a rival school by the score of 100-0.

 More specifically, after school officials at Covenant School apologized for drubbing their helpless victims that badly, coach Micah Grimes was fired for publicly saying he didn’t think he or his team had done anything wrong.

Think about this for a second. Shouldn’t the coach of the *losing* team be the one getting sacked? I mean, if you score *zero* points in a basketball game, it’s not just because the other team is amazingly good. It’s because you suck. You could put me and my friends on the court against the Boston Celtics and I bet we’d manage to score at least one basket in the course of a full game.

Sure, there is an argument that once you are up by 50 points, you should try not to run up the score. I don’t know whether Grimes put his “scrubs” in at that point or not. But even if he didn’t, that’s hardly a firing offense.

You can also argue that Grimes was fired for insubordination – publicly contradicting his employers. But I would argue that Grimes was sticking up for his players. They should not be made to feel by their school authorities that they did something shameful in playing a good hard clean game of basketball. On the contrary, they probably did their opponents a favor by revealing the depths to which their basketball program has sunk. Maybe they can make changes now and become a better team, or move to a league where they can be more competitive.

Something tells me Micah Grimes is not going to be on the unemployment line for very long. People who do their jobs too well usually aren’t.

Posted in Current Events, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

NFL Coaches: Who should be fired, who should stay

Posted by sanityinjection on December 23, 2008

It’s been a while since my last sports post, so with the final week of the NFL regular season approaching, I will get an early jump on the postseason coaching carousel. Here are my thoughts regarding some of the coaches that will be on the hotseat – who should stay and who should go:

Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys: I have never been a fan of Phillips, but this is only his second season as head coach of the Cowboys. Last year he took them to the playoffs with a 13-3 record. This year, a playoff berth is still up in the air, but a winning season is guaranteed. There are a lot of questions about the Cowboys, but working with owner Jerry Jones is not easy, and Phillips’ decision to take over the play calling on defense has proven to be a good one. Phillips should be given the chance to show what he can do with a maturing Tony Romo if he can stay healthy next year.

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles: Let me put this as bluntly as possible: Andy Reid is not a good head coach. When you look at the talent that has come through Philadelphia over the past ten years, it’s hard to fathom how the Eagles have only been to one Super Bowl (and lost.) Unless of course, you observe Reid’s terrible game management, bizarre decision making, and inability to control volatile players like Terrell Owens. Since 2004, Reid has had only one winning season, and this year the Eagles will likely miss the playoffs. Past success can only count for so much: Reid has failed to improve his team even as the talent level has improved. It’s time for a change in Philadelphia.

Jim Zorn, Washington Redskins: The Redskins’ late season collapse seems worse because of their unexpectedly strong start under new head coach Jim Zorn. However, long time fans will recall that the Redskins never seem to be able to put together a full season under any coach in the last decade. The Redskins can still notch a winning season if they win this weekend, and that is as much as one should expect from a first-year coach. Zorn should stay.

Jim Haslett, St. Louis Rams: Haslett is in an unusual situation. He took over as coach during the 2008 season, but so early on that he has had plenty of time to put his stamp on the team. Unfortunately, the results have been disappointing. This team has been getting worse and worse over the last few years despite some key talents. I like Haslett, but I don’t think he is the right person to turn this team around. Expect a new face in 2009.

Mike Singletary, San Francisco 49ers: Singletary is the mirror image of Haslett. Since Singletary took over the 49ers, they have gone 4-4 after a 2-5 start under previous coach Mike Nolan. It’s obvious that the players respect Singletary where they did not respect Nolan. Singletary should retain the helm of this team and see what they can do in 2009.

Rod Marinelli, Detroit Lions: This is an easy one. Although departed GM Matt Millen bears the Lion’s share of the blame for the horrendousness of this franchise, 0-15 is still 0-15. Worst of all, the only person who doesn’t seem to see that Marinelli has failed is Marinelli. It will require a new coach, a new GM, and probably a federal bailout to turn this team around. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings: This is the one I struggle most with. On the plus side, the Vikings have improved each year under Childress and will make the playoffs if they win this weekend. On the minus side, Childress is a weak and indecisive coach who has presided over a talented but underachieving team. I do not have confidence in him, but I can’t in good conscience argue that he should be fired if the Vikings do make the playoffs. However, if they lose to the inconsistent Bears and miss the playoffs, then let someone else play with owner Zygi Wilf’s toys in 2009.

Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars: Considered one of the league’s better coaches, but Del Rio has presided over a collapse this season. It’s important to remember that every year Del Rio’s team has had to play in the same division as one of the conference’s two top teams (Indianapolis, and this year Tennessee.) This year’s Jaguars would probably be 8-8 if they played in the NFC West. Del Rio stays, but cannot afford a repeat performance next year.

Romeo Crennel, Cleveland Browns: This is hard for me because I like Crennel a lot and have little sympathy for the long-suffering but classless Cleveland fans. Last year it looked like things were turning around for Crennel and the Browns with their first winning season in, well, forever. But that raised expectations for this year, and Crennel’s team has failed to deliver, slumping back into the mediocrity Browns fans are used to. Crennel himself has acknowledged that injuries are not an excuse. Sadly, it seems 2007 was a fluke and not a sign of things to come. After four years, it’s time to say goodbye to Crennel and let someone else take over the young talent on this team.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals: Lewis was Cincinnati’s hero in 2005 when the Bengals won their first division title since the Sam Wyche/Boomer Esiason days. However, since then the team has done nothing but get worse each year. Ownership clearly deserves some of the blame, and injuries have been a factor. But there’s also been a moral vacuum in Cincinnati, with Lewis all too willing to put criminals and thugs such as Chris Henry on the field. That kind of thing kills your team from the inside. Even Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, once the voice of this team, now wants out. The Bengals need new leadership, though I suspect owner Mike Brown will fail to pull the trigger on Lewis because he is too cheap to pay more money for a new coach. And that right there tells you everything you need to know about the Bengals.

Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers: Though the Chargers can still make the playoffs with a win this week, they do so at 8-8, a far cry from the last four years of winning seasons. As almost any San Diego fan will tell you, the Chargers never should have hired Turner to replace Marty Schottenheimer. Turner is a good offensive coordinator and possibly the best of all time at developing young quarterbacks, but he is not and never has been a  good head coach. However, Chargers management has staked too much of their credibility on Turner to let him go now.  I expect he will stay, but it’s only delaying the inevitable. Turner has allowed the Chargers to go from being a team that other clubs feared to one that nobody fears. Better to cut the losses now and let the rebuilding begin, perhaps under defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs: This is an easy one. Each year under Edwards has been worse than the last. This is Edwards’ second stint as a head coach after abandoning the New York Jets. There shouldn’t be a third.

Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have been awful since Jon Gruden left, and they’re still awful. Owner Al Davis is a big part of that. Yet there are sparks of real talent in Oakland. Davis has never been one to retain interim coaches such as Cable, preferring to make a big noisy splash hiring. But Davis also has a hard time finding coaches who can work with him (hence the recently departed Lane Kiffin.) If his relationship with Cable is good, he should give him a chance. Take a look at the Raiders’ schedule this year, and you will wonder how any coach could have put together a winning record. At least Cable seems to be able to motivate his players. Besides, isn’t it good for the NFL to have a coach whose nickname is “The Cable Guy”? 🙂

Eric Mangini, New York Jets: The Jets can still make the playoffs, but in New York the calls for Mangini’s ouster have already begun. Consider this: The Jets under Mangini and previous coach Herm Edwards have finished as follows since 2004: 10-6, 4-12, 10-6, 4-12. Care to take a guess what their record will be with a win this weekend? Granted, the Jets were expected to do well this year with an influx of talent, but I think it would be premature to dismiss Mangini (though I am not a fan of his.) If the Jets regress again next year, then a change will be in order.

Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills: I didn’t believe in Jauron when he was with the Bears, and I don’t believe in him now that he’s with the Bills. Jauron is headed for his third straight 7-9 season, and that can’t be good enough for this once proud franchise. He has poisoned the Bills’ revival in its cradle, particularly with his ridiculous indecisiveness over the last two seasons at the QB position. Jauron should be given the boot 5 seconds after the season ends. I hear Bill Cowher is available.

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