THE NFL TWEAKS SOME RULES FOR 2019

nfl 19The NFL had to do something.  In addition to the obviously needed rule change to allow video replay review on pass interference calls, such as the one that kept the New Orleans Saints out of the Super Bowl last year, there were a few other significant changes made in the NFL Rule Book for 2019.

‘Blindside Blocks’ have always been frowned upon. It’s a sneaky practice, hitting someone when they are not looking.  There is obviously no way to count the number of sports related injuries over the years that have occurred because of a blindside blocking.  The spine, the lower back and of course the head and neck area are all at considerable risk for the victim of a blindside block who has no chance to prepare his body for a pending collision.

So now the league is making another set of rules and penalties to try and bring blind side blocks to an end, or at least make them a rarity.   To that end the NFL has announced a 15 yard penalty for any player who “initiates a block in which he is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and makes forcible contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm or shoulder”.  If ever there was a rule that sounded as if it came out of a committee, this one qualifies.

Previously the NFL considered blindside blocks to be OK unless the head or neck area was contacted during the block.  It surely took them long enough to make this obvious change to the rulebook for the protection of the players.

Everybody likes kickoffs and punts.  Here is a chance for some fast paced exciting action after too many lack luster off tackle plays.  Long distances are covered and what was the defense suddenly becomes the offense taking their turn at moving the ball down the field quickly.

However, when statistics on in game injuries started to be recorded and studied, it was noticed that a rather alarming percentage of injuries during a game came during punt returns and kickoffs.  That same ‘sudden change’ that makes the game so exciting for the fans is was shown to be the major contributing cause of these injuries. In fact, about 10% of all injuries suffered during an NFL game occur during punts and kickoffs.

In 2018 the league installed rules eliminating the two-man wedge and putting restrictions on running starts for the coverage team, thus cutting down on some of the high speed collisions and resulting in some 38% reduction in concussions on kickoffs when compared to the last 3 seasons.  That’s a significant number of players’ heads not being violently, and repeatedly, contacted.

Last year the NFL expanded the powers of the officials overseeing the games to include the power to eject from the game any player who committed a ‘non-football aggressive act’ such as fighting, it only happened once last year, but the rule was in place.

This year Al Riveron, who is Senior Vice President of Officiating of the NFL, and his associates will also have the power to eject a player for football related offences as well, such as targeting, if they feel ejection is warranted.

A much need revision of the existing overtime rules was brought up and then tabled for further discussion at a later date.  Let’s hope they get this done before the next NFL season kicks off so that each team will get at least one possession of the ball during the overtime period.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

IT HAD TO HAPPEN

$NCAA$The big fat elephant in the room is finally becoming visible for everyone to see.  We’ve all known that the elephant was there, for all these years, but no one ever wanted to talk about it, until the FBI got involved.  Now the milk has been spilt and there is no putting it back in the bottle.

Few sports fans were surprised to hear about top college athletes being paid to attend a certain school.  Perhaps not directly in cash, maybe a mortgage got paid off. One day our star shows up in a new car.  It’s been going on since cars had crank up windows.

The whole thing started to come apart when the FBI mounted an investigation built around alleged fraud and bribery perpetrated by a couple of minor league backstage players looking for their piece of the pie and power.  The Feds used wire taps, and these guys used the phones, a lot.  From the evidence gathered from these wire taps, convictions were handed down against both Christian Dawkins and Merl Code back in October 2018.  There was no real defense.

Now these two wannabe middlemen are back in the spotlight. Along with another member of their nefarious fraternity named Marty Blazer, who apparently was some sort of successful financial advisor until he was busted by the Securities and Exchange Commission for misappropriation of funds belonging to various NFL players whose accounts he managed.  How’s that for credibility?

With the addition of Mr. Blazer the whole case is now spiraling out of control and threatening to do some real and lasting harm to some of the oldest and most legendary college programs in the country.  Blazer testified at the hearings that he had directed payments to various football players from big name campuses like Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and even Alabama.  “I paid them”, confessed Blazer.

It is obvious that we have come to a fork in the road concerning college athletics.  Mark Emmert’s leadership of the NCAA has proved to be nothing more effective than the ostrich burying its head in the sand when danger approaches. They know what’s going on, always have.  Now they will have to face the music and explain why nothing has been done up to this point.

Even the defending NCAA Football Championship program at Clemson has come under fire as an off shoot of these hearings.  They have an assistant basketball coach at Clemson named Steve Smith a couple of years ago talking on tape with the above mentioned Christian Dawkins, ostensibly about recruiting a basketball player, but, Smith let slip, “That’s why football is so successful, is if you do it and use resources at Clemson, like you can really keep everything tight”. 

It’s not ‘tight’ anymore coach.  In fact, the whole thing is blown to hell and back and we are going to be living with the repercussions for years to come.

PRO BASKETBALL HIGH JINKS MOVES TO ROUND TWO

nba playoffs 2

Now we are getting down to the real nitty-gritty part of the playoffs.  The first rounds went pretty much as expected as the match-ups were fairly one sided to begin with, not so for the second round. Now we get to the cream of the crop.  Now there are only 8 teams left in competition for the 2019 NBA Championship.

The Houston Rockets found that out right away as they were beaten on the road by the number one seeded Golden State Warriors, even though the Rockets outscored the Warriors by 3 points in the final period.  Both James Harden and Kevin Durant scored 35 points during the contest.

Golden State did have a bit of a rough go against Doc Rivers’ LA Clippers taking them all the way to game six before moving on after a see-saw series.  Finally it took Kevin Durant scoring 50 points to defeat the Clippers in the final game against the Warrior’s in-state rivals.

The Milwaukee Bucks whipped the Detroit Pistons handily in a four game sweep that left them among the top contenders after the first round.  They came into game one of the second round on their home court and full of confidence, only to be defeated by a determined Boston Celtics team which beat the favored Bucks by 22 points, 112 to 90.   The Celtics swept four straight from the Indiana Pacers to take round one.

The Toronto Raptors lost to the Orlando Magic at home for the opening game of the first round.  Then the Raptors turned it around and won the next four games straight to take round one and move on to meet Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers who, just like the Raptors, lost the first game of the first round series to the Brooklyn Nets, and then went on to win four games straight and move on into the second round.

The only series to go the full seven games in the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs was between the Denver Nuggets and Coach Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs, and it was a heavily contested series from the tipoff with the Nuggets finally grinding out a win in a low scoring 90-86 game seven.

The final round of eight is called the Conference Semifinals and will require another seven games for each series to determine which teams move on the Conference Finals, or the NBA’s Final Four.  The dates for the Championship rounds have not yet been determined but will take place in the first week of June with the NBA Draft beginning on June 20.

 

 

 

ROUND TWO OF THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

NHLLet’s face it.  Round one of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs didn’t go exactly as the ‘experts’ predicted.  Bettors who bet the dogs generally did well, especially those lucky few who bet the Columbus Blue Jackets to beat the league leading Tampa Bay Lightning. Even better if they picked Columbus to win in four.

So now the Blue Jackets will be in the playoffs for the very first time and face none other than the venerable Boston Bruins, who may be just a little tired after going the full seven games to finally defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5 to 1 and take the series.

The defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals also went the full seven games with the Carolina Hurricanes and then played out two overtime periods before the Hurricanes finally defeated the Capitals 4 to 3.  So, once again we have the upstart Carolina team going up against the legendary New York Islanders who just swept the Penguins of Pittsburgh in four straight matches.

Over in the Western Division the Nashville Predators fell to the Dallas Stars after game six went into overtime in which Dallas prevailed. So the number one seeded Predators are eliminated and the Stars will go on to meet the St. Louis Blues who also battled a full six games with the Winnipeg Jets.

The Colorado Avalanche just barley sneaked into the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year and drew the Western Conference leading Calgary Flames for the first round of play.  The Flames trounced Colorado in the first game 4 to 1, then however, the Avalanche won the next four games in a row to move on to round two.  Bettors who picked that one did quite well.

In an evenly matched series between two of the strongest teams in professional ice hockey, the Vegas Golden Knights took the San Jose Sharks to a full seven hard fought games, the final two going into overtime, before finally conceding victory to the Sharks who will move on to face the over achieving Colorado Avalanche in round two.

And what a great bunch of matchups we have going for the second round.  All are close with no runaway favorites showing. Good luck with this one!

The Blues of St. Louis are at -140 taking on the Dallas Stars. The Boston Bruins are at -135 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The New York Islanders are listed at only -140 against the first time Carolina Hurricanes and the San Jose Sharks are also listed at -140 taking on the Colorado Avalanche.

So we are off on another seven game series to determine which four teams will advance to round three where the going gets even faster and harder than is already is.  Gear Up & Enjoy!

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