Is Baker Mayfield The Answer to the Cleveland Browns’ Question?

Baker Mayfield is the embodiment of faith and hope and love for the game that Cleveland Browns fans have everywhere. At least some think he is. He’s a risk and a gamble and a wild card and a wild one as the Browns are going out on a limb and betting the farm on a hothead who’s got a hot arm who hopefully can get on a hot streak. We’ll all have to just wait and see how it turns out because right now he’s just numbers on paper. Here’s what an ESPN staff writer had to say about Mayfield being the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft:

Pat McManamon

ESPN Staff Writer

 

“The Cleveland Browns surprised the NFL world by making quarterback Baker Mayfield the first overall pick in the draft Thursday night.

The Browns has been expected to take a quarterback and had insisted Mayfield was under consideration through the pre-draft process. Most speculation still centered on USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, but momentum started to build in the last few days that the Browns favored Mayfield.

Cleveland also had the fourth pick Thursday and used it to select Denzel Ward, a cornerback back from Ohio State.

Mayfield, who had a stellar college career at Oklahoma but also made headlines with his behavior on and off the field, will be tasked with turning around a Browns team that went 0-16 last season.

Mayfield joins a roster that has Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback and Drew Stanton as the backup. The Browns hope to play Taylor this season, allowing Mayfield time to learn and grow. Mayfield, though, said at the scouting combine he would never “settle” for a backup role.

The Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002, which is the longest active drought in the NFL. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have had 28 different starting quarterbacks — the most in the league during that span.

Baker Mayfield will be tasked with turning around a Browns franchise coming off an 0-16 season in 2017. Harry How/Getty Images

Mayfield led FBS with a 70.5 completion percentage in 2017, and he set a single-season record by averaging 11.5 yards per attempt. He threw for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

But Mayfield also garnered negative attention in recent years for his on-field antics, which included making an inappropriate gesture toward Kansas’ sideline and for planting Oklahoma’s flag on Ohio State’s logo at the 50-yard line after the Sooners’ victory over the Buckeyes. And if that wasn’t enough, on top of all that, Mayfield also was arrested last year in Arkansas on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. He reached a plea deal last June and paid fines for several of the charges.

Throughout the draft process, the Browns said they felt Mayfield had admitted to mistakes and they were behind him. Browns general manager John Dorsey even joked with Mayfield at the team’s combine interview, asking how he liked food trucks, a reference to the February 2017 arrest that took place near food trucks.

Mayfield, who is from Austin, Texas, transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma after his freshman season. During his college career, he threw for 14,607 yards and had 131 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions. He also rushed for 21 TDs and caught another during his college career.”

Why Dallas Dumped Dez

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You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why the Cowboys dumped their ALL TIME leading receiver, Dez Bryant. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. Since he came into the League and made a home in Dallas, Dez has been a brew of venomousness that is frighteningly viral. His actions, on and off of the field, have been radical (to say the least) and ultimately lethal to his team and fatal to his career.  In other words, Dez is a hot mess.

Dez may be talented, but he’s also toxic. What Dez did not realize is that no stand out statistics or ridiculous records can take the place of a player who is reliable and dependable and stalwart and not unpredictable. In other words, character still counts.

Bryant was the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2010. He amassed more than 1,000 yards receiving, with double-digit touchdowns, for three straight seasons from 2012 to 2014. He finishes his time with the Cowboys with a team-record 73 touchdown receptions to go with 531 catches for 7,459 yards in 113 games. And yet, the Cowboys were all too eager to say “Bye Felicia” to their golden boy of a receiver. In other words, see ya, don’t want ta’ be ya.

Dez is done in Dallas because he did not think he was a distraction to the team. It just goes to show; you can’t do what you want or say what you want and still get what you want. It just doesn’t work that way. Dues must be paid.  And in order to play in the NFL, or on any other reputable sports team, you need to do as mom taught us all, and that is to mind your manners. Here’s what the Dallas Cowboys had to say about cutting Dez:

“The other thing that we all see, and it is certainly visible to anyone who watches our games, watches our sideline, is Dez is certainly a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion both on and off the field,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on the team’s podcast. “Sometimes that can be a distraction. It can be a distraction for Dez, it can be a distraction for other teammates. And we just have to really get our hands around when you put all the full body of work together where that’s headed.” http://www.espn.com/blog/dallas-cowboys/post/_/id/4766019/cowboys-cut-dez-bryant-due-to-lack-of-production-attitude

Once again, the lesson is crystal clear; your central core is more important than all of your shiny outer trimmings combined.   People might say that they like the attitude and all of the antics, but at the end of the day, we want to cheer for someone we want our daughters to marry. And Dez just doesn’t deliver. He may be able to catch a football, but lately, he can’t catch a hint. Owners and managers and coaches are only willing to put up with so much. So let this be another lesson for every and all other “characters” out there. Character still counts.

You can’t have it both ways. At the end of the day, careless, callous and reckless, abandoned living gets you nowhere fast.  The end of the line for loud mouth, undisciplined, show-boat behemoth players (and people) who can think no farther than their last antic or antagonistic tweet is a life of regret.  The sad part of the story is that Dez will land with some team somewhere but will go no farther than he’s gone before, unless he decides to mend his ways. 

It was said that the only person that can stop Dez Bryant, is Dez Bryant.  Because people, like owners and coaches, are only willing to put up with so much.

UVA Coach Tony Bennet: “You Enjoy The Good Times, and You Got To Be Able To Take The Bad Times.”

Once again, sports personifies our favorite professor giving us a sound lecture on how to live life.

UVA Coach Tony Bennett was gracious in defeat. And in defeat he needed grace. Critics derided him for the loss, saying he didn’t do enough for his team or say enough to his team as they went down in defeat to a red hot UMBC team that could do no wrong.

For as humiliating as this must have been for Bennett, the coach handled himself with dignity in the moments after the loss.

The fact is that Bennett was right on the money on this point: “when you enjoy the good times you got to be able to take the bad times.” Amen brother. Here’s the rest of the Coach Bennett post debacle, I mean post game, interview:

“A week ago, we’re cutting down the nets and confetti is falling,” Bennett said. “And then we make history by being the first 1-seed to lose. I’m sure a lot of people will be happy about that, and it stings. But, trying to tell the guys in there, this is life. It can’t define you. You enjoy the good times, and you got to be able to take the bad times.”

And this wasn’t the first time Virginia struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.

“When you step into the arena and you’re in the arena, the consequences can be historic losses, tough losses, great wins, and you have to deal with that,” Bennett said in the interview with CBS. “That’s the job.”

And in another interview, Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse came to Bennett’s defense and balanced out the situation with these sage words:

“They pay this guy about $10 million, which they’re to renege on, which is great for a university to do, you have a signed contract with a guy and then say, well, he yelled at his players. That’s — 350 coaches are going to get fired tomorrow for that.

Come on, the tournament is — I’ve lost in this tournament, everybody has. I’ve looked at the list of bad losses, and I couldn’t believe we weren’t even on it. But Mike Krzyzewski has lost, I’ve lost, Roy Williams has lost, Bill Self has lost. Dean Smith lost. There’s nobody that hasn’t lost.

I think you could easily make the case that Tony Bennett’s way overachieved in the regular season and they played like they probably are in the tournament. You could possibly make that case. This year’s a little aberration, obviously. That was a bad — but the other losses, you know, it’s a tough tournament.

And really good coaches, good teams get beat. Tom Izzo is one of the best tournament coaches ever, and I sat there two years ago and watched Middle Tennessee beat them. They played a perfect game. We beat Middle Tennessee the next game by 30, by 30. It’s just basketball.

We lost to Vermont and the next day Tom Izzo, next game Tom Izzo beat Vermont by 20. It’s just the game. It’s a crazy game and the tournament’s a crazy thing. We all know that. We all say that, but then we don’t follow through on that.”

Well said, Coach. Well said.

New Year’s Resolutions (For Philly Fans)

NFL Playoffs

The beleaguered Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for the first time since 1999; good for them. The woeful Cleveland Browns went 0-16; no surprise there. The underachieving Falcons, who should have won the Super Bowl last year – but choked – just barely made it into the playoffs this year, with help from Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals.  Whoptedo. And the Pittsburg Steelers and the New England Patriots are poised to fight for the right to win the Super Bowl.

But the big story is coming out of Philly. The best team in football all season lost Carson Wentz, their Luke Skywalker of a quarterback in Week 14 against the Rams. Now the Eagles look lost without their last jedi.   And Nick Foles, unfortunately, is no Rey, an up and coming understudy who can take over for Luke with little to no training  (you have to be a fan of the Star Wars series).  Oh well.

So here’s why our resolution should be to hope for the best and plan for the worst.  There is reason for hope and to resolve and not to lose heart.  “The Eagles have been the best team all season. Their only losses entering Sunday (when they rested many starters in a home loss to Dallas) were road defeats in Kansas City and Seattle — hardly anything of which to be ashamed. Even at their worst, which they were against the Giants on defense in Week 15 and against the Raiders on offense in Week 16, they’ve managed to find ways to win. They are deep and talented on both sides of the ball and can play a variety of styles and still win”. http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21924480/2017-nfl-playoffs-preview-schedule-bracket-paths-super-bowl-lii-matchup-possibilities

On the other hand, one sports writer said this: “Eagles fans should be physically ill over Nick Foles. I was relentlessly heckled two weeks ago for pointing out Foles ran hot and cold against the Giants and was fine but not nearly as good as the box score suggested. After his last two performances, the Eagles are praying Foles can even approach ‘fine’ when the postseason begins. He was bad in the Christmas night win over Oakland. He was worse in a brief appearance against the Cowboys on Sunday, not only out-of-rhythm but seemingly overwhelmed. It would have been nice to see him stay out there and get some more reps, but this might have been a mercy benching. And it raises the question: ‘How will the NFC’s No. 1 seed be getting points in their first playoff game?’”

Points in a game are positive actions in life; you need as many as you can get. We can’t sit back and wait for good to come or for bad to stay away. We have to be proactive, pre-emptive and practical. Hope only works when we are willing to try, try, again.

We all should do the same in 2018. It’s the only way we, and the Eagles, will win.  So, Philly fans, here are the resolutions: let’s put in the work, let’s be both full of faith and realistic at the same time, and let’s be careful not to bite off more than we can chew.

Resolve to start all over again every day. Build on successes and bounce back from setbacks. Don’t wait until January 1, 2019, to hit the reset bottom, press pause, or simultaneously press Ctrl, Alt – Delete.

 

Happy New Year

“Survive the Ground”

Survive The Ground Rule

In this life, you have to survive the ground. In order to survive the ground, you first have to learn how to survive the ground. Learning isn’t always quick and easy or fun and pleasant. Learning comes with bumps and bruises and scratches and scrapes. Just ask the Pittsburg Steelers. And that’s why Jessie James, Ben Roethlisberger, and Coach Mike Tomlin, who looks just like Mike Epps, are licking their wounds and bidding their time until they meet the New England Patriots again, perhaps in the 2018 AFC Championship game?

In Sunday’s clash with the vaunted Patriots, Pittsburgh Steeler’s tight end Jesse James absolutely, positively seemed like he caught the ball seconds before the end of regulation at the goal line. In fact, Jesse James did not catch the game-winning touchdown against the New England Patriots. “The catch rule, as we all know and hate it, declares clearly that a player going to the ground while making a catch must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of going to the ground.

When you watch the play, you see James diving for the ball. As he lunged across the goal line, the ball fell to the ground. Before James could gain possession, Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon dove on his back to render him down and the play over.

Very clearly and simply, James did not maintain control of the ball throughout the process. In other words, the catch did not survive the ground. Here’s how it appears in the NFL rulebook:

“A player who goes to the ground in the process of attempting to secure possession of a loose ball (with or without contact by an opponent) must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, there is no possession.” http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/262186/the-nfl-catch-rule-has-issues-but-steelers-survive-the-ground-call-was-right

And that’s what we’ve all got to learn. We’ve got to learn how to survive the ground. Sometimes we get knocked down and pushed down and even thrown down, but we’ve got to survive the ground. We can’t let a fall or a push or a shove hamper our hopes or dislodge our dreams. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but we can’t let names or slurs or insults or false accusations hurt us to the point that we lose a firm hold on what Heaven has promised us. Maintain possession.  Lay hold to your hopes and don’t let go of your dreams.

So survive the ground. Get back up and get back going. Don’t let a little slip or a trifle trip endanger your destiny.

“Just Run As Hard As You Can . . .” NYC Marathon Champion Shalene Flanagan

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Shalane Flanagan has the recipe for winning and the remedy for losing and the prescription for victory for us all: “Just run as hard as you can, within control, to the finish, but save one more gear just in case someone is there.”

I love it.

“New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan hasn’t slept much since Sunday, when she became the first American woman to win the race in 40 years, but she’s still exhilarated. ‘I updated my Instagram profile and wrote ‘New York City Marathon champion.’ “

Here’s what the Marathon Champion said to ESPN:

“I said, ‘OK, I’m just gonna put my head down and work hard, and they may just fall in line behind me, but I feel like I can just push hard to the finish. Just imagine you’re back in Portland on your own training grounds, and visualize your support team.’ Before I knew it, I got a sense, a feeling that there was no one right behind me, but I never turned around, because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to make a turn. ‘Just run as hard as you can, within control, to the finish, but save one more gear just in case someone is there.’ I could tell there was no cheering for any other athlete. I kind of was like, ‘Pretend that they’re close,’ but I could sense there was a gap developing.

I just was so focused on myself and not letting the moment overwhelm me. When you realize you’re achieving something that you have thought of forever, you can get very emotional — imagine trying to cry and run at the same time, it’s really hard. I didn’t want to tense up, so I was just trying to stay super-focused on my form and being strong. Not until did I see the literal finish line tape did I allow myself to soak it up for the 20 seconds that I had. I didn’t want it to slip through my fingers, I didn’t want to be overly confident. I ran scared those last three miles.” http://www.espn.com/sports/endurance/story/_/id/21338985/not-crazy-thought-do-says-2017-nyc-marathon-champ-shalane-flanagan

Congratulations, Shalane.

Many times we turn from side to side, wondering whether we have competition or opposition. We spend time and effort turning to the left and to the right or turning around “to see who is there.” But again Shalane saves us. She said “I got a sense, a feeling that there was no one right behind me, but I never turned around, because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to make a turn.”  There it is. It’s not worth the effort to make a turn.

So stay focused, eyes fixed forward on the prize; because it’s not worth the effort to make a turn when the goal is ahead of you, not behind you.

A Good Kid Does A Bad Thing

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UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball comes from a high profile family. His father, Lonzo Ball, is frank and forthright, can be outspoken and has been underestimated; he may have a big mouth but he’s also got an oversized vision of his sons’ basketball future. And you can’t blame him for that.

But this is not about dear ole dad. This is about his middle son, who by all accounts is a good kid who did a bad thing. It’s upsetting and it’s disappointing.  But we’ve all done upsetting and disappointing things at one time or another. And most of us are thankful that our missteps and mistakes didn’t make front page news. The hope here is that LiAngelo can come back and turn this thing around for good.

Here’s the skinny on what happened to LiAngelo Ball and two of his teammates in China:

“UCLA faces the embarrassing prospect of opening its season without three freshman players who have been benched after being released on bail following an alleged shoplifting incident in China. LiAngelo Ball and his Bruins teammates are in Hangzhou, China to play Georgia Tech in the team’s season-opener this Friday–except Ball, along with fellow freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, will probably miss the game.

As time as gone by, it now appears that LiAngelo Ball and these two teammates will not play when the Bruins open the season against Georgia Tech at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time Friday in Shanghai, Coach Steve Alford announced Wednesday. ESPN, which will carry the game, first reported the news. In fact, they might miss other Bruins games (plural) when the team returns home to the States. And it won’t be because these players suffered injuries or illness. It will be because they are still in China–and possibly in a Chinese jail.

The three players were arrested on Tuesday for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store. The arrests, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, followed interviews by about 20 local police officers with UCLA players while the players stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou. The Louis Vuitton store is located next to the hotel and, particularly given the high value of much of the store’s inventory, most likely contains security cameras throughout and around the store.”

And the moral of the story is?  Good guys from good families who are good players can have a bad day and do a bad thing and end up in a bad way. It’s sad but true. The hope is that LiAngelo learns from this quickly and is allowed to return to the States and his team and chalk this up as an example of what not to do. It’s called a second chance. In biblical parlance it’s called redemption and restoration, something we all have needed and still need, every day.

So let’s hope for a positive outcome and not throw stones. It’s easy to judge and be a critic when things go south. But it’s better to withhold the verdict and delay sentencing because we all live in glass houses. Just think, what would have happened if you got the punishment you deserved when you got caught for that silly, stupid thing you did back when?