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Sports Whimper In the New Year

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Things this weekend was just downright ugly. With NFL teams playing half-assed, USC’s self-flagellation and Pau Gasol going down with another hamstring injury for the Lakers, this weekend was just one long comedown from the high of the New Year.

Those NFL games were perhaps the most unwatchable exhibitions seen in a long time. While some teams simply rested their starters after the first quarter, other teams fearing fan and media backlash experienced by the Colts last week left their starters in but used the most vanilla plays in their playbooks. Look at these scores:

  • Bills defeat Colts 30-7
  • Vikings defeat Giants 44-7
  • Cowboys defeat Eagles 24-0
  • Chiefs defeat Broncos 44-24
  • Packers defeat Cardinals 33-7
  • Jets defeat Bengals 37-0

With the exception of the Colts-Bills game these games had playoff implications whether it be seeding or actual entry into the postseason. And this is what we are treated to?
To make matters worse, three of these games will be played all over again this weekend: Cowboys will host the Eagles again; Cardinals will host the Packers again; Bengals will play the Jets again except this time they will host the game.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is not happy about his unwatchable product either. He’s pondering bribing teams with draft picks to give them incentive to play their starters.

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While the sentiment is all right, it’s not going to work. If Peyton Manning goes down, will a first round draft pick compensate for that? You’ve got to punch the team in the balls.

Instead of bribing teams, you penalize them a seed for each time they rest starters prematurely. If this were in place, the Colts would be the third seed and forced to play this weekend. This way we can hopefully watch some good football after Christmas.

Regardless, Goodell is going to take this issue to the competition committee during the offseason to have them do something about it.

USC Sanctions

While the NFL morning games were going on, USC issued the press release announcing their self-flagellation of their men’s basketball team in hopes to receive mercy from the NCAA. Nowhere in the release nor the video of Mike Garrett that accompanied it did they announce exactly what they found.

All that can be assumed from this is that OJ Mayo did receive benefits from Rodney Guillory while playing for USC during the 2007-2008 season. However the more serious charge of then-head coach Tim Floyd handing Guillory a paper bag containing $1,000 in Beverly Hills was not mentioned.

USC should be applauded for doling out their own punishment, but it does not erase the sins that occurred during Garrett’s watch. Like I wrote yesterday, the fact that the Reggie Bush investigation is ongoing and the Joe McKnight SUV impropriety has arisen in the last several weeks it could lead to the road of lack of institutional control. The Alabama football team faced probation in the mid-90s and from 2002-2006 while being banned from bowl games in 1995, 2002 and 2003.

While yesterday’s press release is the first time Garrett has addressed any of these allegations publicly, it’s not good enough. There has been no accountability from the athletics department to date. While their admitting culpability in the OJ Mayo case should in no way implicate them in the Reggie Bush or Joe McKnight case, there are still questions that remain unanswered.

Lakers and Pau’s Hammies

After a string of rather uninspired play, the Lakers showed up at Staples Center last night against the second place team in the Western Conference Dallas Mavericks blowing them out to the Fabulous Forum 131-96. Leading by as much as 42 points, shooting a season best 63% from the field and the free tacos were somewhat overridden by Pau Gasol leaving the game halfway in the first quarter with a strained left hamstring.

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So here we go again with Gasol’s hammies. Gasol missed the first 11 games of the season with a strained right hamstring. Thanks to his offseason work with the Spanish national team, Gasol really hasn’t taken a lot of time off to rest his legs. And we all know how crucial the wheels are to big men. While Gasol shouldn’t miss too many games, no one thought he would miss as many games as he did in the beginning of the season.

However the up side to this is to get Andrew Bynum going again. Since Gasol came back, Bynum has become a shrinking violet seemingly regressing in his maturation as an NBA player. Hopefully being the go-to guy in the low post, Bynum will get his mojo back and work on coexisting with Gasol.

Having said that, let me throw something out there. Is it a little unnerving seeing all these injuries pile up?