The NFL playoffs began this past weekend and let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the most exciting weekend of football. The Wild Card round features the “second tier” of playoff teams so the best of the best are not being showcased, but it was a painfully predictable two days. It began Saturday afternoon with what was probably the game of the weekend (not saying much) between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals. The Texans beat the Bengals 19-13 as QB Andy Dalton played horrendously for Cincy. The game didn’t have a single passing touchdown. Saturday night featured the game that I was most hyped for between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Minnesota’s starting QB Christian Ponder ended up missing the game due to a triceps injury. Joe Webb took the helm at QB for the Vikings and had a game that Andy Dalton would have found embarrassing. Without being overly harsh on a guy who didn’t throw a single regular season pass, it was easy to see Webb was not ready for this game. Webb's inability to throw the football (he was only 11/30 through the air with a garbage time TD) put far too much pressure on the seemingly inhuman Adrian Peterson. The Packers ended up winning 24-10 as the Vikings lone TD came very late in the 4th quarter when the game was already out of reach.
Sunday wasn’t that much better when the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis easily defeated the Indianapolis Colts 24-9. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to see Ray Lewis get introduced in front of his Baltimore fans one last time, but the luster of it all quickly dissipated when it became clear that the Ravens’ defense would bend but not break against the Colts. Andrew Luck had a very impressive rookie year and will only get better – hopefully in his next playoff game he’ll be able to throw his first playoff TD. The final game of Wild Card weekend was the one I was very excited to see with Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks facing off against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. Washington jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and FedEx Field was going nuts. Then, something happened. RGIII has been playing hurt for a few months now and seemingly broke down on primetime in front of the entire NFL world. A few questionably late hits from the physical Seattle defense and a bad snap led to one of the gutsiest players in the NFL having to leave the game. RGIII gave everything he had this season and I commend him immensely for it. Seattle ultimately came back with 24 unanswered points and won 24-14. It was painful to watch RGIII hobble around the field last night and even though I love watching him play, I’m relieved he now has the offseason to recover and not do any further damage. That being said, how many of us had Russell Wilson as the rookie QB out of this class to make it deepest in the playoffs? Here’s hoping next week’s games are a bit more exciting. I’m a selfish NFL fan, I want a little drama.
• The NHL lockout is over! Shockingly, the NHLPA and owners managed to come to an agreement to end the madness as hockey fans everywhere rejoiced. I knew if I wrote enough disparaging articles about this league then they would get their act together. The agreement is good for the next decade, so pencil in 2023 for the next major work stoppage to bring the NHL to a screeching halt. I like to rip on the league because they bring it on themselves – the NHL as a business is a joke – but the product on the ice is beautiful. I’m thrilled to have it back and fans will not be deprived of the beauty that is the NHL playoffs.
• Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel reminded everyone why he is considered the best collegiate football player in the country. The freshman led Texas A&M to a dominating 41-13 win over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl on Friday. Johnny Football had 516 total yards on the night with 287 throwing and 229 rushing with four touchdowns. What more is left to say about this 20-year-old superstar? The SEC is officially on notice for next year as Manziel will return for his sophomore year. I’m not a big NCAA fan, by any means, I much prefer professional sports but Manziel has enough star power and awe-inspiring talent to make me take notice. I have never been this impressed by one individual ever when it comes to sports – professional or collegiate. It’s astonishing what he does on the field and he’s only going to get better.
• In a very surprising move, Oregon coach Chip Kelly will not be jumping to the NFL. It was an accepted foregone conclusion that Kelly would bolt after his Ducks defeated Kansas State 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl Thursday night. Oregon is 46-7 in their last four years and have made four consecutive BCS bowl games. Kelly has orchestrated one of the most prolific offenses in the NCAA and many assumed he would be the next head coach of either the Cleveland Browns or Philadelphia Eagles. No one knows how Kelly would have done in the NFL – many collegiate coaches struggle in the NFL – but now we may never know. It seemed like the perfect time for Kelly to make the move so I'd say it's safe to assume he's in it for the long haul with Oregon.
• The Los Angeles Lakers lost again, but that’s hardly news anymore for the 11th seed in the West. I’ll take this time to instead talk about another disappointment in the NBA, a guy I predicted to compete for a spot on the NBA All-Rookie team. Royce White of the Houston Rockets has been suspended by his team for what the Rockets are calling a breach of contract. White has had a much publicized feud with the Rockets organization this season as his anxiety disorder and mental health have stopped his NBA career before it could even begin. He has spent much of the season on the inactive list and last week refused an assignment to the D-League. White, who will not be paid during his suspension, has taken to Twitter multiple times this season to voice his displeasure with life in the NBA and has threatened to retire if things don’t change. The Rockets say they’re determined to fix the issues with their 16th overall pick but if the guy doesn’t want to change, I’m not sure there’s much the team can do.
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