Falcons Make Better Demonstration of Themselves

    ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons managed to overcome their doddering rollout into the 2018 season with a needed 31-24 defeat of NFC South rival Carolina Panthers. Throughout the preseason and Atlanta’s lackluster effort in week one contest against the world champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Birds’ offensive unit seemed more geriatric or effete than potent.

Both clubs initially attempted to probe each other with plays designed to see how stout the defenses would be. The Falcons’ Jekyll and Hyde nature began to subside after Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian elected to use the running game with halfbacks Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith to strike at the heart of Carolina’s vaunted defensive line through the A & B gaps and occasionally on the outside using variations of Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Sweep.

Oddly, the game appeared to have turned when Falcons safety Damontae Kazee, replacement of convalescing starter Keanu Neal, unfortunately, decided to go kamikaze on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton resulting in minor skirmishes and a disqualification in the second quarter. The donnybrook was the caffeinated beverage Atlanta needed that spawned an offensive onslaught that flummoxed Carolina well into the fourth quarter.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan delighted the home crowd at the Millennium Falcon (Mercedes-Benz Stadium) by throwing two touchdown passes and rushed for two also. Ryan connected with eight different receivers in a 23 completions out of 28 attempts for 272 yards effort.

    Nevertheless, the Carolina Panthers fought admirably back into the contest as Newton completed 32 passes out of 45 attempts for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Atlanta’s defensive unit became fatigued as Carolina made a gallant comeback by reducing what appeared to have been an inexpugnable deficit to within seven points. The Birds eased their fans fantods in the waning seconds for a victory that prevented overtime possibilities and a disastrous defeat.

At the end of the day, the Atlanta Falcons demonstrated some of the attributes ascribed to them as being one of a handful of teams who could survive the National Football Conference and gain ingress into Super Bowl LIII in their home stadium, which would be a welcomed surprise for Atlanta and an unprecedented accomplishment in National Football League history. The Falcons must find creative means to overcome injuries and conditioning challenges in order to be viewed as a serious contender.

In truthfulness, Atlanta is still viewed as essentially being an indoor (or dome) team that denotes weakness as the calendar transitions into a cooler climate for the playoff stretch when they travel to Green Bay and Carolina when Bûche de Noël is about to be consumed. The Falcons must convince themselves that they are a team to be reckoned with first before being overly concerned with earning plaudits from the general public.

Of course, instilling confidence in a club that had the Vince Lombardi Trophy ripped from their clutches a few seasons ago will take therapy and a higher level of determination in order to overcome the demons of disappointment and defeat. Head coach Dan Quinn must circumvent discontentment in favor of a mindset that can prove that a belief in brotherhood is more than mere hyperbole.

Urban Meyer Survives on a Technicality

   According to NBC Sports, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees decided to suspend head coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith without compensation for three games which will preclude them from direct participation when the Buckeyes face Oregon State, Rutgers, and Texas Christian University. Nevertheless, Meyer will be involved along the periphery of the team’s activities when OSU prepares for Rutgers and TCU.

Many college football observers believed that punitive measures taken against Meyer were a fait accompli since he was on required leave for weeks already. Although Meyer and Smith purportedly provided OSU’s governance some details of the alleged domestic violence situation involving former assistant coach Zach Smith once the Sisyphean effort to prevent the boulder from rolling downhill commenced, they were suspended because of attempting to handle covertly the Smith imbroglio in a clandestine manner internally.

The oftentimes peevish Meyer faced consternation from those viewing the press conference because his attempt to deliver a mea culpa publically appeared insipid by mentioning “Buckeye Nation” and oddly omitting the name of Courtney Smith in the speech altogether. As one commentator stated during a late-night radio broadcast that “Meyer resembled a petulant child being forced to apologize at the dais.”

Regardless, the entire affair has had a detrimental effect on the public image of Ohio State University being perceived by some for obliquity in exchange for national championship aspirations no matter the costs. This attitude was exacerbated a few weeks ago when demonstrators decided to gather for what was considered a support Urban Meyer rally. The gathering was preposterous and seemed tantamount to some of the worst stereotypes ascribed to Paul Finebaum’s radio broadcast audience in the Southeast.

At the conclusion of this investigation, transparency in relation to properly handling challenges like the abhorrence of domestic situations is paramount for instructing student-athletes and coach staffs as to what is proper in civilized society. Fielding Yost said, “Everyone of us here likes to think of men’s values coming from intercollegiate athletics and especially football. In my judgment, this prospect hinges entirely on whether or not we have real sportsmanship and ethical standards in our programs.”

Perhaps, former coach Fisher DeBerry provided the best insight on coaching and professional conduct. DeBerry said, “We are privileged to be able to work in the greatest and most important profession in the world. As coaches we have the responsibility to uphold the ethical standards of our game and the American Football Coaches Association. The title coach carries an awesome responsibility.”

Of course, Meyer has flaws and foibles just like everyone else, and few realistically expect him or any other coach and college administrator to be viewed in the same context as Mother Teresa. The reality for Meyer is that the pursuit of human decency is aligned with the mores of the current culture. Today, football coaches are held to a higher standard than what was depicted on the 1993 film The Program; we have progressed too far into the new millennium to accept qualities of a bygone era. Selah

Terrell Owens’ Argument Does Have Merit

     Today, the Enshrinement Ceremony for the Class of 2018 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be a conflation of revelry, retrospection, and a de facto revival (church service) for the guests of honor. This event will be a prodigious occasion for Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, and Brian Urlacher minus one purported notable exception: Terrell Owens.

When the initial grumblings were unearthed about the probability of Owens not being willing to participate in the capstone achievement of an athlete’s career, some observers believed that his decision to forego the event was an act of reprisal for not being inducted as first ballot hall of famer. Recently, Owens refuted that accusation by stating, in effect, that he has qualms against the process of how former players are nominated in the first place.

We may not have any means to validate his supposition, but one has to admit that his argument does have merit, especially in the effort of objectivity. For example, the mainstream media has been castigated for the appearance of generating campaigns against individuals who are not always cooperative with them.

Of course, it is conceivable that media professionals are at times placed in stressful circumstances due to tight deadlines and management yelling at them in close proximity resulting in spittle on a reporter’s face inquiring as to why they have not secured an interview with a prominent athlete yet. Moreover, media personnel placed under greater scrutiny when approaching individuals, like Owens, who believe most in the press have neither played in any organized sport nor possess the capability of being able to walk and chew bubblegum simultaneously.

Despite the perceived schism between athletes and the media over the years, writers who are given the solemn responsibility of voting for who is or is not going to gain ingress into Pro Football Hall of Fame in Judgment Day fashion must apply fairness to the best of their ability. Yes, one can become embittered when a professional athlete with a peculiar personality refuses to grant you an interview like their agents may have promised initially. Is it right to remove all impartiality during the nomination processes of athlete’s due meed in accolades because of vendettas?

Perhaps, the answer is to adopt a more balanced approach where athletes (past and present) and the press can become a part of the selection process suitable for candidates of potential induction. A remodeled system can help mitigate some type of retribution from individuals who do not always comply with requests for interviews and such.

Also, Owens should be considerate of the media by at least being willing to empathize with them observing the nature of their roles. Most reporters are not hyenas seeking to devour prey. They have jobs to perform just like he had requirements thrust upon him as a professional too.

It may be gratifying for Owens to exact revenge on the media, but it does come at a cost. This is not the time to be a solitudinarian when you are scheduled to receive honor. Owens should embrace the platform provided in order for him to set the record straight in the manner he deems necessary in front of a captive audience.

Is it Time for Kaepernick to Make a Return to the NFL?

  Recently, an adroit radio broadcaster updated a national audience of the whereabouts of Johnny Manziel with his latest escapades in the Canadian Football League. Manziel, a vagabond quarterback since his short stint in Cleveland, has generally been an afterthought in professional football until he was signed as a backup to the historic Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL this spring. After only a handful of games, Hamilton traded Manziel to the aerie for the lugubrious Montreal Alouettes in a packaged deal that could have included a bag of footballs.

The commentator mentioned that playing for the Alouettes could be used as a litmus test of sorts to determine whether Manziel could be a viable option for a National Football League franchise towards the end of its season. While there is little evidence to support the notion that Manziel will ever mature enough to be a successful signal caller before he has a need for either Nugenix or Alpha King, it is unfathomable that any NFL club would take a chance on a player that reminds many of the famed character in The Longest Yard.

Certainly, Colin Kaepernick has been in purgatory long enough to be granted another opportunity to see if he still possesses the physical attributes and mindset to be a quarterback again in the National Football League despite his controversial stance a few years ago. Cris Carter, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013, once explained to a television audience that the NFL had a tradition of ensuring that the best players available were granted roster spots for the betterment of a team. Thus, he surmised that the absence of Kaepernick does not support that premise.

Since the NFL’s governance is in the process of revising their plans for handling the national anthem situation before games in a manner that includes the NFL Players Association, maybe bringing Kaepernick back into the fore could serve as an olive branch to help remedy the situation. If so, where could he possibly play without setting off the Apocalypse?

           Perhaps, one destination could be the Atlanta Falcons who already signed Matt Ryan, the franchise’s best quarterback, to the highest contract awarded on record. The reason why the Falcons should consider Kaepernick is because Atlanta is a cosmopolitan city, and they just might need an insurance policy in case Ryan incurs an unfortunate injury on a team that still has Super Bowl aspirations.

Currently, the Falcons are planning on training camp commencing probably without wide receiver Julio Jones and with backup quarterbacks as follows: Matt Schaub (37-years-old), Garrett Grayson, and Kurt Benkert. If the offensive line makes one egregious error in pass protection, Atlanta could find itself in an imbroglio in 2018 that they cannot overcome.

Also, America loves a successful comeback story, especially anything that appears to have redemptive qualities. In this instance, opportunities for redemption could present both Kaepernick and the NFL a means to prove that both entities can create a meaningful dialog without demagoguery and collusion, which could heal this land to a lesser degree.