Otto Graham, RIP

Nicknamed "Automatic Otto," Graham never missed a game as a pro while passing for 23,584 yards and 174 touchdowns. He finished his career with an astounding 105-17-4 regular-season record that included the four years he played in the old All-America Football Conference when he lost four games total.

He took coach Paul Brown's teams to the title game in each season from 1946-55.

"That's hard to beat," said Sammy Baugh, a contemporary of Graham's and also a Hall of Famer.

With Graham as their quarterback, the Browns won four championships in the AAFC and three NFL titles. He was MVP of the AAFC three times.

Otto Graham doesn't appear anywhere in the NFL recordbooks. the league didn't keep track of league leaders until 1960, after he retired. The game also changed so radically after he played that his passing records have long been surpassed. Besides, he only playerd five official NFL seasons, the rest of his career played in another league, the long since dead AAFC.

That's a shame, because Otto Graham wasn't just a good player, he was a great one. He's probably the greatest pre-Unitas quarterback in football history. The only real competition is Sammy Baugh. This isn't an honorarium for a pretty good player, this is one of the all-time greats. We should remember.

posted by Poseur 12/18/2003 09:36:00 AM

Sepp gets upset

Blatter's comments were the strongest to date by a FIFA chief.

"Europe's leading clubs conduct themselves increasingly as neocolonialists who don't give a damn about heritage and culture, but engage in social and economic rape by robbing the developing world of its best players," he said.

Blatter's comments reflect his long-standing frustration with Europe's richest clubs, particularly those in England that are stocked with foreign stars.

"Many clubs don't deserve to be regarded as English any more because they are dominated by foreign legionnaires," he said.

Top players in England earn about $85,000 a week. Nigerian star Nwankwo Kanu, who plays for Arsenal, earns a reported $42,500 weekly.

So, Blatter's solution to help African players is to force them to stay in their domestic leagues where they can't make nearly as much money as they could playing for the top European clubs? That's insane, and it punishes the very people Blatter wants to help.

FIFA does not exist to prop up each domestic league. I noted just a few days ago that Real Madrid has cornered the market on seemingly every European nation's best player. Something probably needs to be done about that, but actually prohibiting African and South American players the chance to score big bucks in Europe is not the solution. It's far worse than the disease.

Let's be honest, the US is closer to Nigeria than Spain in the world soccer hierarchy. Our very best players still take off for Europe because they can make a whole lot more money over there. For every Donovan or Beasley who decides to stay home, there is a Brad Friedl or Joe-Max Moore, who goes overseas. American soccer is better for it. Our very best players should go to Europe to hone their skills against the very best players in the world. But MLS allows the US to develop players at home, giving us a depth to our soccer program this nation has never had. Eventually, a player like Donovan should go to Europe to play against the best, but not yet. If a player is just going to rot on the bench in Europe, he's better off staying in his domestic league. FIFA needs to take a hard look at the American model for the have-not soccer nations. They could learn something about how to develop a healthy balance between exporting stars and keeping some home. Remember, Brazil ain't complaing their best players are in Europe so long as they keep winning World Cups.
posted by Poseur 12/18/2003 09:22:00 AM

Union will not allow A-Rod to renegotiate

Both teams expressed dismay with the union's decision, but an executive from one of the teams said the trade was still possible. ``I think there's too much wanting to get this done on both sides for it to die,'' he said.

Before the Red Sox or the Rangers do anything, they will probably wait to see what Selig does. An official from the commissioner's office described Selig as being incensed at the union and said he was investigating his legal options. If Selig approves the trade, the union will most likely file a grievance and the issue will be settled by an arbitrator.

A-Rod has said he will not go against his union, which is a pretty good idea. The reason the baseball union is by far the most powerful in pro sports is that even the big ticket stars toe the union line. If guys like A-Rod and Bonds ignored the union, it would weaken the position of the rank and file guys. So I'm not going to rip a guy who refuses to weaken his own union.

But I wil rip the union. I really like the MLBPA, it's been consistently shown to be correct in most of thelabor struggles in baseball's history. The reserve clause was restrictive, salaries were held artifically low, the owners did collude, and there is no link between salaries and ticket prices. Of course, this doesn't change the fact the union is about as popular as Bud Selig. Jesus, throw your detractors a bone. Do something just for the sake of the game. It's things like this, which are technically correct but bound to be unpopular, which makes the union so damn unlikable despite its good work and the fact the owners are even more unlikable.

Let A-Rod drop his no-trade clause if it'll make this deal go through. Everybody wins: the fans, the players, and the owners. Even the union.

posted by Poseur 12/18/2003 09:03:00 AM


King Kaufman makes a great point

I'm sick down to my last bone of public figures making racist, sexist and homophobic statements and then issuing these lame apologies, as Millen has done. I'm tired of hearing about how the offender has nothing but the greatest respect for gays or blacks or whoever it is he's offended by using the most vile insults available, and it's totally unlike him to use words like that, but it just slipped out in the heat of the moment.

Let's get this straight, shall we? Calling someone a homo and meaning it as an insult doesn't just slip out unless you mean it. It's not an excuse to say you were frustrated and disappointed. Frustration and disappointment don't lead a person to say things he doesn't mean, they just lead him to say things he hadn't meant to say out loud.

Millen's temper, boiling over at Morton's rude rebuke, didn't cause him to lash out in frustration and disappointment and call the receiver a Canadian or a bird-watcher or a Buddhist or an arachnophobe. Why not? Because none of those labels are insulting. None of those are words for things that Millen thinks it's wrong to be. Millen's brain went searching for a word that would fit the bill and it came up with "faggot." It doesn't come up with that word if he doesn't think of that as an appropriate insult. The fact that he remembers to censor himself most of the time doesn't give him a pass not to when he's angry.

I've got nothing to add except this: Millen runs a team and used a hurtful slur. Horn is an employee and made a very public joke. Which offense is worse? And who should know better? I wanted everyone to lighten up concerning Horn, and I don't back downfrom that, but Millen, an executive for cryin' out loud, shouldn't be calling people "faggots." In any context. He should be fined, and fined heavily.

posted by Poseur 12/17/2003 03:32:00 PM

Sheff is on board

"Thank George for getting Sheffield and Kevin Brown out of our league," McKeon cracked. "I think the Yankees made two outstanding additions."

These are managers who saw the damage inflicted by Sheffield and Brown last season with their own eyes. Yes, Steinbrenner has deserved to be ripped this off-season for his approach in the Andy Pettitte fiasco and other maneuvers, but baseball lifers know the Boss added two studs in Sheffield and Brown, even though both aging players have had controversy-filled careers.

Noted one American League executive, "I'm glad the Yankees have done all this. It's good for baseball. You have to have a team you can hate and now everyone hates the Yankees."

What's the point fo obscene wealth if you don't go out and buy things, right? Sheffield gives the Yankees an absolutely ridiculously talented hitter. Yes, Sheffield is a jackass, but he'a jackass who can hit, which makes him different than Paul O'Neill, who was just a jackass. So thisn't new territory for the Yanks. what I'm trying to figure out is what the hell the Braves are doing? I thought they had dismantled last year, but this offseason, they are lying in the prone position and just letting other teams come in take their lunch money. It's like they are sick of winning games.

The Yankees are addicted, but they are more and more resembling the 1980s Yankees, a wildly free-spending club without a plan that invariably won nothing because they thought simply by paying a player superstar prices, he became a superstar. It's not like the Yanks have lousy players. Sheffield and Giambi are awesome hitters. but there is no bullpen, and the pitching aon't gonna be hwat it was. Hell, the lineup still has an Aaron Boone sized hole. And have you checked out Jeter's numbers recently? Not inspiring stuff.

The Yankees are still the 800-pound gorilla of pro baseball, but nobody thinks they are invulnerable anymore.
posted by Poseur 12/17/2003 03:16:00 PM

Fassell fired, but not yet

Shocking absolutely no one except for some guy in Maine who is out fishing, Fassell got canned by the Giants. Of course, he'll coach out the season because the Giants want this season to go as poorly as possible. Fassell brought the Giants to the Super Bowl a few years ago, but the NFL is the ultimate in what have you done for me lately leagues, so Fassell will be collecting an unemployment check.

OK, he's completely lost the team, but outside of people total in thrall of the New York media, who though this was a really good team? We didn't. In an NFL preview riddled with errors, both of us pretty much said what we thought of the giants: they aren't a very good team. They should be better than 4-10, but part of the problem with New York teams is unrealistic expectations. Outside of Strahan, there isn't a real difference-maker on this team. Maybe they should fire the GM.

posted by Poseur 12/17/2003 02:58:00 PM

Heras leaves US Postal

Roberto Heras made waves in the cycling world by leaving USPS with one year remaining on his contract. Heras has signed to become the Tour leader with Liberty Seguros, a new Spanish team made from the old ONCE team.

Comments. It was bound to happen. As I’ve said before, there’s only one rider in the world with a better resume over the last 5 years than Roberto Heras, and that’s Lance Armstrong. Heras could be the team leader for just about any team in the world. And now Heras gets to be The Man on a team based in his home country. As for bolting with a year on his contract, well, USPS does get a transfer fee, and free agency in cycling is so fluid it makes NBA players seem like loyal franchise guys.

What does this do for Lance Armstrong, USPS, and the Tour de France? Well, Lance is losing his best climber–nobody sprints up a mountain quite like Heras. He’s broken dozens of men with his quick burst on the steep inclines. But Lance won his first two Tours without Heras, and in 2003, Heras was pretty much out of it with bronchitis. USPS still has a very deep team, good enough to win again. Plus, they signed Jose Asevedo, a proven climber and solid stage rider. He’s no Heras, but Asevedo + Rubiera + Beltran is the best corps of climbing domestiques in pro cycling. What USPS loses here is the big threat to win the Vuelta. Lance has no interest in it. Beltran or Asevedo are outside shot contenders for the Vuelta.

As for the Tour, we fans are the winners here. Heras plans to challenge Lance, which will be great to watch. This may actually help Armstrong. With Heras unleashed, he may blow the field away on the big climbs, only to find Armstrong to be the only man by his side. But Heras isn’t half the time trialist as Lance.

Heisman digest

By now you already know Jason White of Oklahoma won the Heisman. While I would not have picked White, I’m not appalled by this decision. White put up staggering numbers, but I think this is yet another case of laziness by the voters–just pick the QB from (arguably) the best team in the country. But ask yourself this Jason White even the best player on his own team? I don’t think so.

If not White, then who? Larry Fitzgerald was second in voting. I think it was right to invite him, but I think he was the least deserving of the finalists. Great receiver–yes. But this guy had fewer yards than did Josh Reed two years ago. Reed never got a vote for the Heisman, and hardly anyone remembers him.

I would have voted for Eli Manning. His numbers weren’t as amazing as White’s but let’s be honest–if you remove White from OU, they are still going to be a 12-1 team. Remove Manning from Ole Miss, and they’re 3-9, not 9-3. And I’d barely vote Manning ahead of Chris Perry, who did things a Heisman winner is supposed to do. He lead his team to the conference title; he had huge numbers all year long, and he was at his best in the biggest games. Perry was a huge threat both as a runner and a pass catcher. He was the engine of the Michigan offense.

Aside from these guys, I wonder why only 4 finalists were invited to New York. Usually it’s 5, so I’ve got to wonder why Darren Sproles or Matt Leinart didn’t get a token invite. I also have to wonder why Ben Roethlisberger didn’t get a vote.

Rejoice, the Savior has returned!

If you caught a glimpse of the Falcons-Panthers game a week ago, then you witnessed the media hype thrust upon Michael Vick once again. They obviously missed him during his injury, so the pent up excitement was too much to handle. The media love affair with Vick continues unabated once again. Being that I’m the charter member of the “Vick is overrated” bandwagon, I’d like to point out the following stat line. 6 of 19, 47 yards passing, 0 TD, 1 INT, 4 rushes for 30 yards, 1 fumble. That’s what Vick did last Sunday. That might be the worst game of his whole career. Now Vick is still going to be a great player, but let’s stop this charade of thinking he’s Jesus in cleats. The media can’t stop singing his praises when he does anything good, but they need to consider the bad with the good. Vick has great talent, but he’s got a long way to go before he’s half as good as people think he is.
posted by uberschuck 12/17/2003 12:31:00 AM


Henry finalist for FIFA player of the Year

Henry, however, insists he has no desire to leave Arsenal, whom he joined in 1999 after an unhappy spell at Juventus.

He said: 'As long as people are happy with me at Arsenal I want to stay there.

'Arsenal gave me a hand when I was down and if I am among the last three players alongside Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane for the FIFA World Football Player of the Year award, it is thanks to them.

'I want to feel priceless for them and them to be proud of me.'

Hey, at least the entire Real Madrid team wasn't named footballer of the year. If Real is so good, how did they manage to lose the 2003 Chamions League? Huh? Zindane and Ronaldo were finalist for the award, but this team also boasts Beckham, Raul, and Figo. If someone wanted to make a remake of Victory!, you would only need the roster of Real Madrid (well, and Oliver Kahn). People compalin about abseball being dominated by big markets, but what other sport has so many of the greatest players on one team?

Zindane is the best French player, Raul the best Spanish one, Figo is the best Portugese, and Ronaldo is the best Brazilian. Beckham is one of the top English players as well. It's just obscene. so good for Arsenal in hanging onto to Henry, and if they do decide to sell him: for the love of God, sell him to someone besides Real.

posted by Poseur 12/16/2003 11:55:00 AM

A little bit of explanation

OK, I've been pelted with a few emails on my extremely light coverage of the NBA and the NHL, and even college basketball (speaking of which, how bout that Gonzaga win over Mizzou? How great was that game?). i mean, how much coolege football can you guys take? Well, a lot.

But, here's the rub. The regular seasons just don't matter. you finish with a winning record in the NBA, NHL, or college basketball, you are going to the postseason (ok, above .500 in your conference). Even the NFL let's in 3/8ths of the league. So 9-7 will get you in about half of the time. I just can't stay interested in what are essentially meaningless games. Can you? Except for your own team, which you probably follow fanatically, it's tough to care about the week-in, week-out crap of the regular season of an entire league. So, expect NFL coverage to step up big time come playoffs. I've been watching, but I live in Maryland, so I'll be honest, I mainly watch the Ravens and then whoever is on my fanatsy team.

A quick fantasy note: no one cares about your team. Nobody. So don't strike out casual conversation with people about your playoff draw and how ticked you are about the perfromance of your opponent who has Trent Green. No one cares. Really. When we pretend to lsiten, we're just being nice.

posted by Poseur 12/16/2003 10:59:00 AM


Horn celebrates!

But with a performance that rivaled anything seen on Dance Fever or Soul Train, the Saints' master of end zone celebrations, Joe Horn, stole the show.

Horn, in anticipation of a special evening, planted a cell phone under the pad of the goal-post support in the south end zone during pregame warm-ups. If Horn scored, the sellout crowd at the Superdome and a national television audience would remember it.

Horn's creativity did not go to waste.

On the second of his club-record four touchdown catches, Horn dug out the phone and feigned a celebratory phone call while the incredulous crowd shook the rafters. Horn pretended to make a call to his mother and daughter, Jhia, and son, Joseph, to let them know the show was on.

Horn was flagged for 15 yards. He'll probably get fined today. To which i have to say, everybody needs to lighten up a bit. It was pretty darn funny.

posted by Poseur 12/15/2003 09:05:00 AM

O's get Tejada

The signing of Tejada, 27, bolstered the Orioles' moribund lineup, added another marquee shortstop to an American League East division already graced by Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra, and halted criticism of the Orioles' front-office tandem -- Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan -- as being too cautious in its pursuit of top talent since taking over 12 months ago.

Tejada, the 2002 American League most valuable player and a leader of the Oakland Athletics' run of four straight playoff appearances, "brings credibility to our club," said Manager Lee Mazzilli, who was hired last month.

"How many chances to you get to add an MVP caliber to your club?"

Not that often.

This is a huge move for the O's, but it's worthless if they can't follow up with some other moves. The gap is huge between the Orioles and the Sox and Yankees (and let's not forget the Blue Jays). Tejada alone won't do it. They need to resign Batista, and then attract Vladimir Guerrerro to Baltimore. Some pitchers wouldn't hurt, either. You don't solve ten years of mismanagement in one day.

posted by Poseur 12/15/2003 08:59:00 AM

Powered by Blogger