DIssecting Johnny Football

Will Selva’s latest post about Hispanic Athletes.

Current analyst and former quarterback Ron Jaworski should be expecting a large satchel of thank you cards on his doorstep from several TV and radio producers any day now. Since expressing an unpopular belief that Johnny Manziel shouldn’t be drafted in the first three rounds of this upcoming draft, his comments are providing plenty of fresh fodder for debate shows and sports radio across the country.

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Johnny Manziel is known as Johnny Football.

By taking the contrarian stance, he opened himself up to being scrutinized, picked apart and second-guessed, much like Manziel himself. Jaworski is a self-proclaimed football junkie, pouring over hours and hours of tape, so there is some heft behind his credibility, although some would argue he lost some of it by saying Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Jaworski admits that he hasn’t seen a lot of Manziel, watching only five of his games at Texas A&M. At the moment, he’s the only analyst who’s taking the stance that Manziel is not a franchise quarterback. I still think Manziel is a transcendent talent that should be taken in the first round, but if I did have any doubts about Manziel, it would be over whether he can stay in the pocket, go through his progressions and complete a pass in the tightest of windows.

No matter if you’re Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson, you can’t rely on your legs forever. At some point, you have to stand tall and make the throws. The read-option wasn’t as successful this year as it was the previous seasons because defenses caught on to it. Manziel is a master at ad-libbing, but he’s open to getting crushed as we saw with RG3. He would need to bulk up more to absorb hits and perhaps more importantly, be smart. That last part is key because he was able to slither out of sticky situations, but that was in college. In the NFL, everybody is bigger, stronger and faster. At least, we have some time to dissect him. Thanks Jaws.

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Harbaugh Saga in S.F.

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

The unfolding Jim Harbaugh saga in San Francisco is a bizarre one considering its timing and its scope. First, let’s start with the timing of it. This story is nearly overshadowing the most captivating football theater at the present moment for those of us starved to satisfy our voracious pigskin appetites: The NFL Scouting Combine.

We’ve been treated to Jadeveon Clowney’s freakishness, Johnny Manziel’s scaled-back bravado, and Michael Sam’s inspiring self-awareness, but in between the 40 times and pressers, it’s been all Harbaugh, all the time. 49ers CEO Jed York denied the initial report over the weekend, then finally admitted to SI’s Peter King that the team had conversations involving Harbaugh with the Browns. When the Browns released the statement on the report, they didn’t exactly go out of their way to deny it. Owner Jimmy Haslam then confirmed it, all the while the thick tension between Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke only continues to germinate at 49ers headquarters.

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Jim Harbaugh is the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers.

Harbaugh wants a new contract and he wants it right now. This is just another power play in what could be a protracted tug-of-war over the head coach’s worth. Although Harbaugh wore down Stanford during his time there, he’s the one that made the Cardinal a power. Remember Stanford before he got there? Yeah, me neither. I do remember what it was like before the 49ers landed Harbaugh and it wasn’t pretty.

San Francisco was so far removed from the glory years and it’s model organization distinction. It resorted to hiring the likes of Mike Nolan, Dennis Erickson and Mike Singletary to restore the winning and, well, we all know how that went. The 49ers are getting spoiled with the recent winning under Harbaugh. While I don’t believe he’ll be there long-term given the tenor of the relationship between Harbaugh and Baalke, I do think the team risks alienating it’s best asset. They are moving into a shiny new stadium and having any uncertainty over the head coach’s status is the last PR landmine you want to deal with. Who’s got it better than the 49ers? Nooooobody.

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Rise of Bode Miller Again?

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

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Bode Miller is an olympic alpine skier.

The story of redemption is as old as sports itself. It’s always fascinating to see the enthralling rise, crushing fall, then the skyrocketing ascension of an athlete as they enter back into the other wordly status they once enjoyed. The one figure who may fit this description better than a spandex ski suit is none other than American Bode Miller, who’s considered a favorite.

It’s still way too early in the Sochi Olympics to predict how Miller’s long, winding journey will ultimately end considering he completely missed out on the men’s downhill to Austria’s Mattias Mayer. Given how well his practice runs went beforehand, it was actually a shock he didn’t win a medal in this event, but he still will compete in the super-G, slalom, giant slalom, and the super combined. You could say that Miller’s redemption actually came four years earlier in Vancouver, when he won three medals including a gold. At the time, he wasn’t that far removed from comments he made about skiing drunk and how too much emphasis was put on winning, but Miller knows that this is it for him. One final Olympics, then he’s done. It’s over.

At 36 years-old and coming off microfracture knee surgery that forced him to miss an entire season, Sochi presents an opportunity for Miller to round out his career and shape his legacy on the world’s grandest stage. He can do it by medaling in the remaining events, thus making the redemption whole and complete.

To learn more about the Olympic athletes and particularly the alpine ski team, check out the US ski team page. Here you can learn about the US ski team and its skiers like Bode Miller for instance. Recently married to Morgan Miller (a professional beach volleyball player), Bode lives in California with his family.

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Finally, Michael Sam

Will Selva’s latest post about Hispanic Athletes.

There will come a day when an athlete announcing he’s gay won’t make the needle on the wow-meter budge. Until that time arrives however, the news of Michael Sam coming out as gay to The New York Times is causing that very same needle to go bonkers.

His unprecedented, yet courageous step may result in him being the first active gay player in the NFL. What Sam did on Sunday night was not just open the door for other football players in his same position. He busted it wide open causing the hinges to come flying off. Turns out the secret he shared with the world wasn’t a secret at all at Missouri. It was well-known for quite some time, which speaks to an environment filled with humanity, sensitivity and understanding. His teammates clearly didn’t mind nor did they care, unless someone comes forward and says otherwise.

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Michael Sam recently speaks out about being homosexual.

Sam is a very good football player. So good, in fact, he was named the Defensive Player of the Year in arguably college football’s toughest conference, the SEC. Sam is projected to be a mid-round draft pick in April’s NFL draft. By making this announcement, Sam is sending a message of refreshing candor to talent evaluators and general managers around the league: This is who I am. I have nothing to hide.

Since absorbing the news, social media exploded with mostly encouraging words from other NFL players and fellow athletes. This is not to say that the journey will be easy for Michael Sam. No, not by a long shot. It will be a trek dotted by sign posts of intolerance in a testosterone driven environment. That’s the harsh reality. The feedback that Peter King of SI.com got from anonymous GMs serves as a reminder. Some supported Sam’s move, while others thought it would be too much of a distraction. Sam is not naive. He absolutely knows the implications that accompany his announcement. Sam will need to be drafted by a team appreciative of his talent, possessing strong, veteran leadership that won’t see this as a big deal. The day can’t come soon enough when this is nothing more than a footnote. An expected reality that is a total non-story.

(Youtube)

 

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Superbowl Halftime Show-Thoughts

Will Selva’s lastest blog post.

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Discussion of the Superbowl this year mainly surrounds the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performance.

Honestly, who wasn’t excited to tune into Superbowl XLVIII this year? Whether the commercials, halftime entertainment or the anticipation of Peyton Manning taking the field caused you to watch, more than 110 million viewers chose to watch the Seattle Seahawks defeat the Denver Broncos with a final score of 43-8. Families and friends gathered for parties and either carried on or created new Super Bowl traditions across the country. Without question, the Super Bowl this year was a television success. Television viewers were able to witness the largest victory in twenty-one years as the game set a new record for the most television program in U.S. History.

But what about that halftime performance? Every news source across the country is reporting on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ performance alongside Bruno Mars. According to a recent Times article, many are criticizing the fact that the band’s instruments were not even plugged in during the performance. The band’s bassist, Flea, admitted that he was more or less playing the air guitar. The semi-fake performance (the band’s vocals were live) has caused many to speculate on why the band would choose to perform to previously recorded music. Apparently, the NFL requested that the band didn’t perform live in case of audio issues. Of course, the backlash has since pushed the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the forefront of subsequent Super Bowl discussions.

A few, notable Super Bowl halftime shows from the past few decades include; Michael Jackson’s 1993 performance in which he lip-synched “Jam,” “Billie Jean” and “Black or White,” Paul McCartney’s 2005 performance in which he closed with “Hey Jude” and of course Beyonce’s epic 2013 performance.
As far as this year’s Super Bowl goes, the Los Angeles Times reported that Bruno Mars did a “stand-up job” and delivered an entertaining performance that most generations could enjoy watching. Overall, this year’s Super Bowl performance was a safe option compared to a few past performances. I would guess that the NFL won’t mind asking Bruno Mars back to the 50-yard line one day in the future.

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National Signing Day Thoughts

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

I always had a peripheral interest in National Signing Day, mainly because my alma mater, Arizona State, rarely had a recruiting cycle that was enough to heighten my curiosity. That changed over the last couple of years thanks to a much improved product on the field which generated 18 wins over the last two seasons. In the months leading up to this year’s National Signing Day, I found myself reading House of Sparky, ASUDevils.com and other websites to learn more about potential targets and their respective backgrounds.

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How will national signing day affect college Arizona State and other college teams?

It was like a day trader keeping track of stocks or witnessing a high-roller at a lively craps table in Las Vegas. You’re literally riding the highs and lows of the mere prospect that a 4-star athlete will land at your school, in this case Tempe, Arizona. I can only imagine what it’s like for passionate fans in other parts of the country, where every decision feels dire to the fortunes of their programs. Some would say certain adults take the exuberance too far when it is, after all, 17 and 18 year-olds that we’re talking about, right?

It’s OK for them to be excited and even act goofy. They’re kids, but for the grown ups, it can get borderline creepy. Once again, the SEC proved to be the conference many recruits gravitated to this year topped off, of course by Alabama. This maybe Nick Saban’s best class yet and that’s saying something considering how they finished the season. Tennessee did well for itself, building quite a collection of talent in Knoxville. Heck, Kentucky’s work in the state of Ohio paid off. LSU showed that it could close strong under Les Miles. Out West, Steve Sarkisian was able to snag three top-notch players. Given his time frame and the way he did it by having them turn away UCLA, USC fans must be ecstatic. Oregon’s class underwhelmed, while Stanford reloaded with another strong crop of 4-stars.

As for ASU, a top 20 finish is all you can ask for given it’s lack of consistency in recent years. Todd Graham clearly has people buying into his plan. He has to. In this day in age, it’s not enough to just be bowl-eligible. You have to strive for a conference and national championship. That’s what makes National Signing Day a true reality show that’s impossible to turn off.

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