Tag Archives: NFL

Photo courtesy of Michael Black/ Sports Illustrated

Opinion: Sherman speaks out

By Annie Moore

“I’m the greatest of all time!” Something we’ve heard more than a couple of times from more than a couple of athletes. So why all of the fuss about Richard Sherman?

 

For those of you who have been sleeping under a rock for the past few days and haven’t heard, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gave a very controversial postgame interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews after the Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game Sunday Night.

 

“I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that’s the results you’re going to get,” Sherman shouted “Don’t you ever talk about me! Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick.”

 

So what drove a man who just won a huge game to give such a hostile interview? A graduate of Stanford University with a degree in Communications presented himself so inarticulately and was an instant sensation. Whether people hated it, were amused by it, loved his bravado or deplored it, everyone had heard it and had something to say about it. But why?

 

Muhammad Ali proclaimed “I am the greatest” at the height of his boxing career and the response was nothing like this past Sunday Nights’. Why? I believe the answer is two-fold.

 

First off, Sherman attacked a fellow athlete, a professional, respected by many in the league. Yes, Sherman beat Crabtree on that particular play, but that does not entitle him to be berated by a colleague on national television. And he certainly didn’t need to be called mediocre, multiple times by Sherman even after his initial interview.

 

But the biggest reason I believe that Sherman’s comments prompted such an uproar, and Ali’s didn’t, is because boxing isn’t a team sport.

 

In what was a great team win for the Seattle Seahawks, Richard Sherman manages to make it all about himself. And that is what offended not only the fans, but surely his teammates.

 

No one cared when Ali alienated everyone else in the sport, because it was his and only his to defend. But when you play a game like football, where success is dependent on many men doing their jobs, to brag and credit yourself and your superiority as the key to the team’s success is not only short-sided, but it is selfish and alienates the rest of the team.

 

Sports fans and athletes alike, love the camaraderie of sport. The teamwork and cooperation used by the greatest teams is a large part of what attracts us to them, as much if not more than the talent and bravado of the athletes themselves. That’s why when Muhammad Ali steps out and says “I’m the greatest of all time” we eat it up. But when Richard Sherman says it, we lose our appetite.

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Super Bowl Column: 49ers have rich tradition of excellence

By Xavier Bleuel

The San Francisco 49ers came into Super Bowl 47 steeped in tradition. Only a few professional teams can match the overall success of the 49ers. The owner of five Vince Lombardi and six George Halas trophies, 49er fans expect greatness from their football team. They won four Super Bowl titles in the 1980s—the most dominant stretch one team has ever had in any decade in the Super Bowl era.

They are home to 12 Hall-of-Fame members. Just a few members of that list include the best quarterback of all time, Joe Montana, or Joe “Cool,” without a doubt the best wide receiver to ever lace up the cleats; Jerry Rice, the hardest hitting safety this game has ever seen; Ronnie Lott; and another top-five quarterback of all-time, Steve Young. The 49ers play in one of the most iconic venues in all of football: Candlestick Park, nestled on western shore of San Francisco Bay.

The 49ers as an organization itself holds a few Super Bowl records, and a plethora of players hold individual records in the big game. They are a perfect 5-0 in the big game. In Super Bowl XXIV, the 49ers broke two records: most points scored in a game and margin of victory in a 55-10 blowout of the John Elway led Denver Broncos. Under the biggest lights, the 49ers have shined.

However, before last season, the 49ers had missed the playoffs in nine consecutive seasons. They changed head coaches on four different occasions. This was not what the 49er faithful had been used to. Change needed to be made. They had drafted well; the 49ers were one of the more talented teams in the league. What was missing was leadership, a voice that men would follow to the end. That search ended when a former pro-bowl quarterback turned coach was hired on. From day one, Jim Harbaugh, former Indianapolis Colts star, instilled a level of commitment and excellence that has resulted in an NFC champion appearance and now a Super Bowl appearance.

This year’s team came into this season void of a Super Bowl appearance the year prior. In the 2011-12 NFC Championship game, two special teams’ fumbles in a game they dominated start to finish against the eventual champions, the New York Giants, cost them the opportunity to advance to the Super Bowl. That left a bitter taste in the mouth of a very young, physical, and talented team.

However, in this year’s pre-season, many experts pegged the 49ers as the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

The 49ers finished the regular season with an 11-4-1 record. Notable wins came against Green Bay, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, and New England. The team that seemed to have the 49ers’ number were the St. Louis Rams, tying in one game and losing the other.

The biggest news of the season came in week 10 when starter Alex Smith suffered a concussion. Thus, Harbaugh called upon unknown second year backup Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick was a raw talent if there ever was one. At 6’5” and 233 pounds, he had the size. Running a 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds, he had the speed. Add a laser rocket arm and he had all of the physical tools you need to play in the league. But could he combine deadly accuracy with the cannon of an arm? Coach Harbaugh believed he could. In his fist draft as an NFL coach as he traded up in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL draft to select the young man out of the University of Nevada.

In his first start against the Chicago Bears, not only did he answer those questions with a resounding yes, but also far exceeding any expectations with an outstanding performance throwing for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns against one of the league best defenses. The biggest surprise wasn’t what Kaepernick did; its what he didn’t do: turn the ball over against a defense that led the league in take-a-ways.

Kaepernick never lost the job after that performance. Coach Harbaugh caught fire from the media for not determining a permanent starter between Kaepernick and Smith. On one hand he had a quarterback in Alex Smith that had been through many ups-and-downs with the franchise and was working his way to become one of the better quarterbacks in the league; but her could also go with the most dynamic quarterback the league has seen since Michael Vick. Week 15 was when the decision was final and Kaepernick was the permanent starter. The reason why was the added dimensions that he adds with his legs as well as his arm.

The Super Bowl marked his 10th NFL start, which stands as the third fewest starts ever to make it to the big game.

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Super Bowl Column: Ray Lewis’ talent trumps personal issues

By Nick Zelano–

When it comes to the NFL playoffs and especially the Super Bowl, no stage is bigger in sports. When it comes to media day on Super Bowl week, there is literally nothing that compares across the board of the wide world of sports. Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens were all set to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Feb. 3rd at 6:30p.m. and arrived in New Orleans to begin practice last Sunday. This is as normal as can be when it comes to Super Bowl week, and teams were arriving with the one focus and the one task at hand — to win the championship and have their team go down in history as champs.

This week had a different feel to it, though. Along with all of the questions and talk about the Harbaugh brothers, Jim and John, facing each other in the biggest game in sports,  there’s also been talk about how a quarterback who has only started nine games for the 49ers has made it to the playoffs. In both cases, these storylines are valid and interesting. However, they are going up against one of the biggest stories of the entire year in all of sports, the retirement of Ravens future Hall-of-Fame linebacker, Ray Lewis.

Some fans may be tired of hearing about his retirement and his last game, but the reality of the situation is that it is a very big deal. Ray Lewis transformed the linebacker position into what it is today with his athletic build, preparation and skillful play. He is simply one of the greatest defensive players to ever play the game, and his retirement deserves to be celebrated because he was such a tremendous player to have watched throughout the last 17 seasons. At 37, and with repaired triceps from an injury that took place earlier in the season, he is still dominating the postseason with a team high of 44 tackles. With a shocking win in Denver during the Divisional Championship round of the playoffs, and then a dominating performance of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, Lewis has led the Baltimore Ravens team out of their shell and back into the light.

Of course with the popularity of the Super Bowl and the craziness of media day, it’s hard not to recall Ray Lewis’s past life troubles. He has been acquitted of murder and charged with obstruction of justice; he has had four wives and children spread amongst those wives. However, these personal struggles that Lewis has had to deal with over his life have made him the person he is today. He has learned from his mistakes and moved on using his family, religion and leadership qualities to be a great spokesman and ambassador for the NFL. On numerous occasions, Ray Lewis has reached out to help and guide troubled young football players towards a brighter future.

Whether or not audiences respect Ray Lewis as a person, it’s time to take a step back and realize just how significant it has been to watch Lewis play throughout the years, and for the last time on Super Bowl Sunday.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy of usatoday.com

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column: Former Louisville Cardinals football players impact the NFL after leaving the nest

By Hunter Saylor–

Football is a sacred sport in America. People love football because anyone can watch football and usually know what’s going on. Whether a fan of college football or the NFL, Americans are bonded together every weekend by the pigskin. The best part about this sport is the fact that some of our favorite college players go pro and we’re able to follow their pro careers, hoping for the best.

What’s so special about the University of Louisville is the rich football culture. There’s nothing like watching Teddy Bridgewater pick apart secondaries or seeing DeVante Parker scoring clutch touchdowns against Kentucky. On the other side of the ball, Dexter Heyman is one of the most exciting defensive players in the country. But what about past players? Elvis Dumervil, Michael Bush, Deion Branch, Brian Brohm and Harry Douglas, just to name a few, were some of the greatest players to ever walk onto the Cardinal field; apart from Johnny Unitas, of course. What happened to those players and how did their careers pan out?

Deion Branch was perhaps the greatest wide receiver to ever play at Louisville. He was prolific and exciting to watch. He was drafted in the sixth round by the New England Patriots and immediately became a valuable asset for Tom Brady. In 2005, he was the Super Bowl MVP. That’s right, the Super Bowl MVP. Kentucky has yet to produce one of those. He went on to play for the Seahawks before joining the Patriots again and enjoying a steady season. He was recently seen with Bill Belichick at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium when the Cardinals played against Rutgers.
Michael Bush was the best running back the University of Louisville has ever had. Had he not have broken his leg against UK and Kragthorpe been coaching, he would have undoubtedly led U of L to a national championship. The Oakland Raiders drafted him in the fourth round, but with his leg still hobbling him, he missed out on the whole 2007 season. He came back as a third string running back behind Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas. This season was a breakout season for Michael Bush. With McFadden out for a few weeks, Bush is showing flashes of the greatness he had at Louisville. He torched the Chargers for 157 yards and a touchdown on Nov. 10.

In college, Elvis Dumervil is probably more nationally known because Marcus Vick intentionally stomped on his calf during the Gator Bowl. To Louisville, he is known as a sack monster, recording a record six against, surprise, Kentucky. In the NFL he is a feared defensive end for the Denver Broncos. He earned the start this year and recorded three tackles and a sack against Kansas City on Nov. 13.

David Akers, place kicker for the San Fransisco 49ers, will go down in history as one of the greatest kickers in the history of the NFL. He is a five time Pro Bowler and set the record for the longest field goal ever made at Candlestick Park. While he originally went undrafted, Akers has become a success in the NFL, making the NFL 2000’s All-Decade team.

While these players have enjoyed success in the NFL, there have also been the ones who have yet to get a solid career going. Harry Douglas, who plays for the Atlanta Falcons, has been limited to a very small role position. Although he’s limited, he had 133 yards on eight catches and a touchdown in their most recent game against the Saints on Nov. 13. William Gay, a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, earned his first start against the Cincinnati Bengals and recorded an interception, three tackles and four deflected passes on Nov. 13.

Breno Giacomini, Amobi Okoye, Brandon Johnson, Johnny Patrick, Jason Spitz and Eric Wood are all underperforming in the NFL.

As for Brian Brohm, one of Louisville’s best quarterbacks of all-time, he is a backup quarterback for the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com