ESPN – Blinded By The Light

ESPN

Why do we constantly talk about Tim Tebow?  Are LeBron James and Jay Cutler really such bad people?  Are the NFL personal foul calls that terrible?  These are just some of the questions that have been asked redundantly, skewed, or answered by ESPN and other sports networks in such a way that creates the image now perceived by the public.

The majority of the public does not recognize ESPN is owned by Disney, which is a business with the ultimate goal of making money. The purpose of this article is not to detract from ESPN’s success or prominence, but to enlighten viewers to their ulterior motives and recommend alternative outlets.

As most of us know, any television network’s success is driven by advertisements that are dependent on ratings.  ESPN is crafty in its way of creating ratings and the main technique it utilizes is creating controversy amongst all sports.  To enhance viewership, they present ruffles within the most highly watched sport at the most scrutinized position — the quarterback.  What other person to plug relentlessly than Tim Tebow?

Tim Tebow is a pop culture and  sports marketing god that carries a fan base similar to that of a boy band.  Try asking a diehard Backstreet Boys fan what they think of Nsync.  Tebow carries a following in person and on Twitter, similar to a cult. Daily, notorious ESPN troll Skip Bayless sets the controversial tone by shoving Tebow in your face, driving the pop culture icon to the front pages, causing unfair media questions and scrutiny upon his incumbent.  Theoretically, Tebow is Super Mario after eating the mushroom; however, those mushrooms are not permanent, and no one wants Tebow when his mushroom wears off.

Educated people within the NFL circle recognize the above, but still continue to publicly loathe the discussion.  How many times do you hear one of your friends say, “I can’t stand Skip Bayless!”?

Ever wonder why we think of LeBron and Jay Cutler the way we do?  Where is the origin of their disapproval?  First, LeBron held the most pompous press conference announcing his decision with one of the greatest lines in sports of the twenty-first century: “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”  The event and phrase itself deserved at least a few months of scrutiny.  On top of the initial pressure of being the most highly touted player coming into the league in history, LeBron held his press conference creating ESPN’s dream scenario (insert conspiracy theory here).  Not only did ESPN cover this buzz relentlessly, but upon the start of training camp they ran a completely separate website for the Miami Heat titled the “Heat Index”.  Let me repeat, ESPN who covers the entire sporting WORLD, issued a webpage covering a SINGLE team in the NBA (http://espn.go.com/nba/truehoop/miamiheat/).  People wanted their insight on any down moment for LeBron, and ESPN presented every flaw, while creating buzz around the entire country.

Next, Smokin’ Jay Cutler has been considered one of the most controversial QBs in the NFL, and honestly, this can probably be traced back to two legitimate reasons for his troubling reputation.  The first and biggest reason was his decision to sit out of 2011 NFC playoff game with a knee injury. Some athletes, including Cardinals DE Darnell Dockett and Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew, took to Twitter to announce their disapproval, stating that they’d play with the knee injury. The next issue was Culter’s cross-field rant with Phillip Rivers back in 2007. It could be interpreted that Cutler was being incredibly immature in this incident because Rivers’ Chargers were rolling.  Honestly, being an avid sports fan, there is absolutely nothing that Cutler has done to deserve such harsh media scrutiny outside of having a semi-accurate canon of an arm with a back pedal as a drop back.  Is his posture not that of a leader?  Please, and Belichick’s is?  He happens to grab water after a mistake and walks by his boss.  Please enlighten me of a single person that does not get frustrated in his or her working environment.  Does he look mad after getting sacked 7 times in a game?  I ask you to face Jared Allen with the Bears’ left tackle twice a year.  Furthermore, the chatter of him being a below-average quarterback can entirely be put to rest after a week and a half of Jason Campbell.  ESPN has taken his minor altercations and created controversy with a guy who, until this season, has had zero weapons at receiver and still has no offensive line.  Want a controversy?  See Tom Jackson convey his Denver Broncos grudge on national television here:

Each of these aforementioned athletes has done absolutely nothing off the playing surface to trigger the criticism they receive.  Each of these people has conducted themselves in a manner that represents their organization with class, even donating to charities.  Kobe and Big Ben are the star children again, but what about during their little frisky incidents?  It is particularly interesting that those incidents have not surfaced again because that would detract from game views or result in ticket losses. These athletes are unfairly judged in their workplace in order to drive ratings benefitting the business plan of ESPN.

Tonight on this SportsCenter’s made-up headline, “LeBron and Heat slumping, Cutler moping, and is Tebow the short-term answer for the Jets– right now!”  A completely false headline, but extremely believable.  You are now hooked and SportsCenter just opened.

Lastly, there has been a tremendous amount of conversation regarding the new NFL rule changes and the amount of “defenseless receiver” and “roughing the passer” calls that have recently been made.  Every day, ESPN, FOX, NBC, and CBS present this topic of whether this is impeding into the game play, and all the analysts that were former players uniformly agree that it does.  Analysts acknowledge the fact the league is looking out for players’ safety, but they all consistently leave out one critical point. The NFL is currently facing BILLIONS of dollars in concussion negligence lawsuits from a multitude of former players.  If they were to budge on any kind of stance regarding these issues, they would lose a tremendous amount of legal leverage which would be detrimental to the league and ultimately us, the fans.

Hypothetical situation: you are the owner of a small business that is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit. During that time, you determine it would be smart to reevaluate the procedures for your employees and enforce them more strictly.   Now, the judge can be more lenient and realize you are a competent owner.  Smart, right?  I know.

Has that picture ever been painted to the public regarding the new NFL safety rules?  No.  Why?  It would come close to burying the story leaving Skip Bayless and ESPN’s NFL Live with nothing to stir up on a Wednesday other than more Tebow and Cutler talk.

It should be noted that sports entertainment and talk radio thrive on controversy, rankings and conflict.  Any show on ESPN or NBC would not be in business without analyzing or creating some sort of controversy.  I, along with all of the sports community, will continue to watch our favorite shows that help formulate our own opinions on issues.  To resolve this issue, I suggest that you diversify your media outlets.

If you only watch Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, your views are obviously leaning in one direction.  If your only sporting intake is Skip Bayless and Steven A. Smith, then you have been exposed to a finite size of information.   To enhance this on the sporting side, much like in finance, diversify your portfolio of sports knowledge each morning by taking in a portion of Colin Cowherd’s show and Dan Patrick’s show.  If you are a West Coast late riser and indulge in some lunchtime viewing, you can flip between ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and CBS’ Jim Rome.  It can be quite enlightening to hear two completely different perspectives when one of those despises the “Mothership”.

We all remember the high school essays of compare and contrast, which forced us to comprehend all sides of an issue, but we tend to lose this perspective as we get older.  These foundational values of debating or becoming a knowledgeable person can be lost amid the opinions forced upon us, but there is always an alternative side to any story.  Although the most powerful outlet presents a certain perspective, it does not necessarily mean it should be your opinion, it is the correct opinion, or is the underlying issue of the topic (i.e. NFL concussions).

In short, I encourage all of you to continue to watch ESPN as much as I do, but please maintain perspective of the big picture while watching it.  If you get mad at Skip Bayless, take a breath, and realize that’s exactly what ESPN wants you to do, move on, and look for an alternative opinion.  If you do not like Jay Cutler, just gather yourself and recognize that your hatred is either driven by ESPN or merely a personal problem.  For future viewing, I recommend you to become more educated on the topic by opening yourself up to different sports information dispensaries rather than simply watching ESPN and immediately posting to Facebook or Twitter in outrage because you are only contributing to the irrational, uneducated audience in which ESPN is aiming.

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Long Island Sound
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Week 11 NFL Predictions!

Can Andrew Luck lead the Colts to an impressive road victory in New England?

A tie, really? Can you believe it? Mind the ghetto video I found on youtube but..

Well don’t think we saw that coming between the 49ers and Rams (any given Sunday at its finest). This week wasn’t great for some starting quarterbacks who left their games due to injuries; Jay Cutler, Ben Roesthlisberger, Alex Smith, & Michael Vick all left their respective games and did not return. Big Ben & Vick will be on the shelf this week so it is up to the backups to lead these two teams to victory.

What a call on Bengals/Giants! How many people read that and said “he is an idiot”. Yup, I’m talking about you and the rest of the 95% of people who thought I was crazy. The Bengals were poised to win that game and it showed. Now I am 2-0 versus the spread. Will this week be three in a row?

I’m very fortunate for how things have gone for The Cover 4 this season. Not only have winners been accurately predicted but the analysis, key players & fantasy studs have been on point. Turning non-believers into believers and consistent readers; I promise you this will continue!

Another theme of last week is how I can’t accurately predict the Dolphins & Titans; I just can’t get it with these two teams. The presences of Locker and the re-emergence of Chris Johnson helps solidify this Titan squad. If only they figured out how to get Kenny Britt and Jared Cook involved more.

Results speak for themselves: 11-2-1 last week.

I’m expecting a wild week as some dogs are looking good (especially versus the spread). Let’s look at this weeks matchups.

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Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Two of my favorite teams right now (insert sarcastic emoji here :p.. Haha). I’m gonna say it again, I like Tannehill’s potential but I think he belongs on the bench this year. The guy can make all the big throws in the NFL but I’m more on the Moore bandwagon (like that?). The Dolphins were eaten up by the Titans last week while the Bills kept it close with the Patriots. I expect the Bills to take advantage of the Dolphins coming off a bad loss on a short week.

Key Players: Reggie Bush & Ryan Tannehill. Bush needs to find his game after being benched last week. As for Tannehill, he needs to limit his turnovers to keep the Dolphins offense on the field.

Fantasy Stud: Bills Wr Stevie Johnson. Expect the burner to be open all day.

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Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons

Analysis: The nonsense of the Falcons going undefeated is now out of the way with last weeks loss to the Saints (you liked that score prediction though right?- right score, wrong teams). The Falcons defense will be the key for the rest of the season as this unit has been overachieving. I believe this defensive unit should be able to get things together this week versus Arizona. As for the Cardinals, who are coming off a much needed bye (as every struggling team is), they must establish some sort of a running game. This team ranks dead last in rushing and has been very one-dimensional.

Key Players: John Skelton. The quarterback must keep this offense moving and convert on third down for the Cardinals to hang with the powerful Atlanta offense.

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Cleveland Browns @ Dallas Cowboys

Analysis: The Cowboys are heavy favorite in this matchup after a solid game against Philadelphia last week. The Browns used the bye week to recover from their heart breaking loss to Baltimore two weeks ago. Quarterback Brandon Weeden must limit his turnovers after throwing 2 ints two weeks ago. Look for Trent Richardson to have another solid game in this one.

Fantasy Stud: Jason Witten. I think Witten has another solid game as Romo is looking Wittens way more after his 18 catch effort a few weeks ago. The Browns are allowing tight ends to have average days but they haven’t faced a tight end of Wittens caliber.

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Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

Analysis: The Packers are winners of four straight and things are slowly coming together for this team. The Lions are the number one passing offense in the league and should continue to throw the ball around in this one. The absences of Clay Matthews & Charles Woodsen is big for this Packers defense. I expect a high scoring game with the Packers taking this one.

Players to Watch: Matthew Stafford & Calvin Johnson. After a slow start, the dynamic duo is starting to click again (forget the Madden curse). Megatron is putting up mega numbers and propelling one of my fantasy teams into the playoffs.

Score Prediction: Packers 31 – Lions 27

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Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: The Bengals are coming off an impressive (cough called that cough cough) win against the Giants. Dalton looks terrific passing the ball as his offensive line is giving him ample time to sling the rock; it also helps that his weapons are making plays. Kansas City is coming off a devastating overtime loss to the Steelers. I think this game will be close but the Bengals pull it out.

Key Players: Matt Cassel. I don’t know how to put it any other way except that this team only goes as far as Cassel can take them. His career (including college) has been an up and down roller coaster but something needs to give.

Player to Watch: Vontaze Burfict. The undrafted linebacker is thriving in Cincinnati. Character issues were a concern but a player of his caliber is too hard to pass up. Burfict is second on the team in tackles and watch him have another nice game this weekend.

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New York Jets @ St. Louis Rams

Analysis: It’s funny because I had a dream I was talking with Rex Ryan over some beers about how he is losing control of the team. It dawned on me that if he keeps riding Sanchez and the team keeps underperforming, he is going to go down with the ship. It may not be this year but Ryan could be on the hot seat (I think GM Mike Tannebaum is the first one to go). The Jets are just in a free fall mode right now as Sanchez and the rest of the offense continue to fail the team. Rex Ryan has his hands full with defending this team against the media. On another note, the Rams are coming off an impressive tie against a tough 49er squad. I expect the Rams to take full advantage of a defeated Jets squad.

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Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins

Analysis: The Redskins are coming off a bye as the team started hot and is cooling off a bit. RGIII has been named a team captain and they say he’s “hungrier than ever”. The Eagles will rely on rookie Nick Foles to lead them into Washington for a much needed victory. Andy Reid is going to need to rely on his running game to take the pressure off his rookie QB.

Key Matchup: Eagle Wr Desean Jackson versus Redskins Cb DeAngelo Hall. Both tiny speedsters are known for being feisty players on the field, especially after the whistle. I expect these two to be battling all day. This will be an exciting matchup to watch!

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

Analysis: This is a good ole’ fashion division rivalry game right here. These two teams will be in a seesaw battle as both teams will get things going on offense; Newton vs Freeman is going to bee fun to watch. In the end, I like my boy Josh Freeman (and all of his offensive weapons) to lead the Buccs to a victory.

Fantasy Dud: All Carolina Panther running backs. Just avoid them!

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Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

Analysis: This one could get ugly between the battle of 8s (1-8 v 8-1). You have to feel bad for the Jaguar team as they just can’t put it together. Hopefully the long week (and much needed rest) gives them ample time to pregame for the red-hot Texans, who just came away victors in a defensive battle against the Bears.

Fantasy Stud: Arian Foster. Expect a monster day on the ground and in the air from the league’s top running back.

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New Orleans Saints @ Oakland Raiders

Analysis: Someone call the Sheriff because we have a shoot out brewing!! Oh I think this is going to be a game right here. The Saints are starting to gain some steam but so are the Raiders (at least on offense). Expect a very high scoring game with long touchdown after long touchdown. I wouldn’t doubt if this game torches the over (54.5) and heads into the 60s.

Fantasy Studs: Every quarterback and receiver on both teams! Both secondaries are weak and being exploited by passing offenses. Look at what Baltimore did to the Raiders last week.

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Pick Center of the Week: San Diego Chargers + 8 @ Denver Broncos

Analysis: There are a number of games I want to use as pick center this week but I believe this to be the strongest one. The Chargers, well, are the typical Chargers (very inconsistent) thus you never know which team is coming to play. These two teams were in a dogfight earlier in the season with a Rivers meltdown that led to the Bronco victory. I can’t see this division matchup being a two score game. Expect a tight game in this one with the Chargers definitely covering 8 points.

Fantasy Stud: Danario Alexander. Who you ask? The Charger wide receiver is getting a few more looks his way with Malcom Floyd playing well this season. Expect close to 80 yards and a touchdown.

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Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

Analysis: This game will be a nice matchup of quarterbacks showing off their finest skill sets. Brady has more weapons than the US Military while Luck is playing with subpar talent (besides Reggie Wayne of course). The Patriot offense will be too much for Indy to handle in this one. Expect some points on the board when this game is said and done.

Key Player: Andrew Luck. Luck has the potential to put up some monster numbers in this game and lead his 6-3 Colts to an impressive road victory. We all know he doesn’t have much talent around him but he will have to make play after play or this is gonna be real ugly.

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Game of the Week: Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Analysis: There is nothing like a division rivalry game between the Ravens and Steelers as both teams despise each other. Unfortunately the Steelers won’t have Big Ben due to multiple injuries. Bryon Leftwich is a solid backup but I don’t think this matchup really works to his favor. The Steelers will be getting the ground game going early and often in this one. I hate to say it but I do believe the Ravens will squeak this one out.

Key Players: Rashard Mendenhall, Issac Redman & Jonathan Dwyer. Whoever is in the game at running back for the Steelers must get things going against a depleted Ravens defense. If the run game isn’t established, it will be a long day for this Steelers offense.

Score Predictor: Ravens 24 – Steelers 20

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Chicago Bears @ San Francisco 49ers

Analysis: As of now, Jay Cutler is yet to be cleared to practice while Alex Smith participated in non-contact drills Wednesday. This defensive battle (every week is a defensive battle against the Bears) will be interesting if both starting quarterbacks are held out of the game. I am going to predict this matchup as if both quarterbacks are healthy and starting. If so, I expect the 49ers to take care of business against the Bears (Sorry Bears fans- I know, I know). Jay Cutler relies heavily on the passing game, which plays into the 49ers defense strategy.

Key Players: Matt Forte & Frank Gore. These two running backs are going to have a tough time getting things going against stellar defenses. Whichever running back has a better game will result in his team getting the W.

If the status of one of these quarterbacks change, expect a nice large REVISED by the title.

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Finally, video of the week. I know some of you out there are struggling in your fantasy leagues. We understand your pain….so does this guy!

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