Thursday, March 31, 2011

Behold, Kegasus!

Without question: Best... fucking... mascot... EVAH!!!!!

The mascot called "Kegasus" introduced Tuesday urges those coming to infield at Pimlico Race Course to be legendary, a reference to the infield's reputation for hard partying. The May 21st Preakness is the second leg of racing's Triple Crown that also includes the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. 
Maryland Delegate Pat McDonough says he is disgusted with the campaign. The lawmaker who represents Baltimore and Harford counties says Kegasus is infantile and creates a negative image.
Of course, you can complain all you want as a politician about something that doesn't portray the event in a "positive light" but come on, let's just go with the truth on this one. The Preakness is known for two things.

1. Running the Porta-Potties and risking severe brain damage by way of a full Bud Light can at 90 MPH.

"The Running Man" doesn't have shit on this real life suicide run!

2. Being so shitfaced, you decide to try to punch one of the horses as they come barrelling down the backstretch.

Swing... and a miss!

There, that's it, that's the list.

And now, we have "Kegasus" a mascot who is indeed, the perfect embodiment of all things rural Maryland, and drunken twenty-something idiocy.

Bravo, ad agency! Well played!

Well hung, shirtless, and with a mullet. What more could a gal from
Timonium want?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back To Finish The Job

The Butler Bulldogs of 2010, and 2011, are the greatest sports story since the Miracle on Ice.

If you want a team that embodies everything that is right in sports – especially when every day seems to deliver another eye rolling news story in the other direction – then this is it.

Butler isn’t just a feel good team, in a feel good tournament. It’s a palate cleanser for the cheating, stealing, and police blotter filling that occupies way too much of the modern sports page.

How does a 4,200 student school, knife fight its way through heavily armed toughs of “major” college basketball to make the Final Four?

Twice? The second time without their first – and likely only – NBA lottery pick?

You kidding me?

I’m not picking against Butler any more in this tournament. They’ve come back to finish the job. And I know destiny when it keeps punching me in the face.

I heard this a lot last year: “Man, did you see how close that final shot from Butler came to going in from half court? What a story that would have been!”

Yeah. Whatever. THIS story, is going to be even better.


The games this week were fantastic. In fact, so good, they almost looked scripted.

The one thing that kills me, though, is how poorly these tournament teams execute in the final 30 seconds or less.

The crowning blunder, was Leonard Hamilton going “Corporal Upham” at the end of regulation for Florida State against VCU. To have that much time, and to have TWO timeouts, and to just let his guys “figure it out” on the last play?

Good god, man. What do they PAY YOU for?

Chris Knoche, former D1 coach at American University and now color analyst for Maryland radio, likes to joke about how good Florida State looks sometimes, before adding “ but then luckily Leonard Hamilton stepped off the bus.”

I would usually chide him for that little rough elbow from one coach to another, but not anymore. Wow.

The other “play” that most teams seemed to run when they had the ball and needed a game winner, was the “I’ll pull up from 26 feet and jack it” play.

Which, as you know, is not a “play.”

Funny because, that shot during the normal run of the game, would get a player benched. “What the hell was that!?”

But to win the game, it somehow becomes their #1 option.


Duke’s evisceration at the hands of the Wildcats is more than just a loss. I think it’s a repudiation of the Duke style, a style that is going to be less and less effective at making a run at Final Fours in the coming years.

Basically, you can’t just have good guards, space, shoot threes and run.

Well, you can from November through February. And you’re going to win a ton of games.

But in the tournament, this style is an easy mark for another program with front court NBA talent. Like Arizona. It doesn’t matter how many Plumlees you bring to the party.

There is size, and then there is what I like to call “white size”, which is “not exactly.” Looks good in the airport, but you can’t count on a suburban 6-11 prep schooler to make big plays for you when it matters.

Duke has for years, had too much “white size” instead of NBA caliber bigs. Yes, I know that Boozer and Brand were lottery picks, but other than that….? Coach K needs to get back on that recruiting horse, and bring some home.


How did I do gambling in Vegas? Best trip ever.

Thursday night, had the following:
Big Play: $500 Butler – plus points over Wisconsin. Easy W!
Other Plays: $100 each on SDSU (L)/Over (W), UF (W)/Over (W), But/WI Over (L), AZ (W)/Under (L).

Friday night, had the following:
Big Play: $500 VCU – plus points over Florida State. Big win!
Other Plays: $100 each on UNC (W), OSU (L), Richmond (L).

Saturday had the following:
Butler: ML over Florida $50 (paid $90) and UConn -3 (L).

All in all, I’ve never had a trip where every “window session” so to speak, was a winner. Each time I went to the window with picks, I came back on the plus side. Nice.

And well, then, I seem to recall throwing away about $300 of those winnings at the Riviera blackjack pit, with two different teams of go-go dancers helping to distract me from playing my hand, not to mention some of the worst blackjack rules you’ve ever seen! Blackjack pays just 7-5 and you can’t take “even money” on your 21 before the dealer looks at the hole card. Also, can’t re-split cards, or double down on anything but 10 and 11.

Sheesh. Did we lose a war or something?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who's Crying Now?

Geez, as men, we sure do have a hard time with this whole "when is it okay to cry" thing.

First, it was Erik Spoelstra getting blasted by the media for "selling out" his professional NBA ballers by saying they were crying in the locker-room after a loss at the end of a particularly frustrating losing streak.

Then, you had Frank Martin of K-State, chiding a reporter for asking Jacob Pullen a "describe your emotions" question after the Wildcats heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin.

I don't get it.

Men cry. And it's okay. It's okay when it comes to sports. It's okay when a comrade dies on the battlefield. And it's okay when it involves any sensitive moment with your dad.

But, that's it.

So what' the big deal?

I love the NCAA tournament because of all the crying. Especially, when little kids cry in the arms of their parents. Like this sweet lil' Longhorn cowgirl.

Note: She has the fortitude to keep the "Hook 'Em Horns" sign aloft, even as her body shakes with grief over another Rick Barnes choke job, and a very, very VERY dubious 5-second call.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How To Win At Craps, Simplified...


I think you are heading to Vegas soon.  Allow me to share lessons from my glorious 10 year run at craps.  This is "Czaban eyes only" information---we can't risk it falling into the wrong hands:

1.  There is no such thing as a good strategy or bad strategy.  Like a
lottery ticket, a dumb bet is dumb until it hits...then it's smart.  Still, I prefer the pass line with max odds.  It's the lowest house edge you'll find in Vegas.  I'll also place the 6&8 if the table seems warm.  Also, for 5&9, I've had surprising good luck placing the number opposite the point (if point is 9, place 5 and vice versa).  I'll toss in a hard way for luck or entertainment, but I don't expect to win those.  One thing I would suggest is pick a strategy for a session (or weekend) and stick with it --- for example, you don't want to flip from the pass line to the don't pass, because you will almost certainly lose both ways and feel like the biggest loser in Vegas.

2.  Most important:  If possible, find that guy or girl.  They are rare and very difficult to locate, but some people are just plain lucky.  You will know them when you see them.  There is just something about how they act/talk/smile.  These people cannot lose.  I cross paths with one about every third trip.  The one lucky guy or girl will pay for all the other losers that week.  Keep your eye out for them.  It's the most important lesson here.  And, when they tell you how to bet, don't think, just do what they tell you.

3.  If you are fortunate enough to play along with them, when Lucky Guy or Lucky Girl leaves the table, walk away.  I have considered doing this every time, but have NEVER done it, and ALWAYS regretted it.  Luck follows these rare people, and so when they leave, your table will turn to ice. Guaranteed.  But, it's very hard to leave because it is so much fun winning money and laughing with Lucky Guy, you just don't want the fun to end.  You will tell yourself that maybe it was the table and not Lucky Guy --- but you'll be wrong.  You won't want to leave, but walk away.

4.  PBL (“Proper Beer Level”) is just as important in craps as it is in golf.  Everyone has their own level, but try to find yours and stick with it.

5.  Trying to use sheer will to turn a cold table warm does not work, except when it does.  I have had success by not giving up too soon, but it's hard to know when to give up on a bad table.  Oh, if you do walk away, keep walking.  Don't hover just to see how the table's 
bad luck and nothing good happens (if the table heats up you are pissed for leaving, and if the table remains cold you feel glad seeing other people lose...which is not what Vegas is about).

6.  The second hottest chick at the table will do better than the hottest chick.  Seen it a million times.  Everybody wants the 
hot chick to throw a hot roll and they load up, but she will go point seven.  The next chick, however, will quietly hit a few points and put some money in your pocket.

Good Luck and Godspeed
“Cowboy Mike”

And the March to Madness overall winner is....

Didn't win March to Madness? You have another chance at a Czabe autographed Beer Tube:  

A Beautiful Day To Die

Notre Dame University is the most despicable NCAA institution in the nation. Period.

Brian Kelly sends a kid to his DEATH, and all they do is cover their asses, and cover up the incident.

The coach declared in a written statement about the day in which a "severe wind advisory" was issued, and gusts topped a staggering 60 MPH: "It was a beautiful day."

The University when faced with an Indiana OSHA investigation, refuses to turn over tapes because :

The university allowed OSHA to view the team’s practice footage, but it did not turn over the tapes because Notre Dame lawyers said it contained “highly proprietary, trade secret information related to the business of college sports,” documents show.

Then, as if all of that wasn't enough, the tapes the University DID allow OSHA to view, were mysteriously "edited" to leave large gaps in the material.

Dave Bliss was drummed out of college coaching for far less. Yes, he too "covered up" a highly embarrassing death in the Baylor basketball program, but AT LEAST HE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH KILLING HIS PLAYER!

Kelly has blood not just on his hands, but how can this scumbag sleep at night?

What does it take to FIRE THIS ASSHOLE? This is the same University that proudly fired George O'Leary for a small resume glitch that was 20 years old. Right?

And the rest of the mainstream sports media has gone quietly along, happily ignoring this disgraceful episode, for reasons that just baffle me.

I guess I have two theories as to why this story doesn't have any "traction" with the usual media outlets.

1. It's Notre Dame. A combination of big money and religion, that keeps proper criticism in check to some degree.

2. It was "just" a student, not an athlete who died.

Something tells me, if Brian Kelly practiced a kid to death on a 100 degree day, he'd have been long gone. The "jock media" (i.e. ESPN) places a higher value on "athlete" lives, and doesn't really give two shits about "civilians."

Whatever the case, kudos to Sports By Brooks which has given this disgusting episode the proper scrutiny. I'm doing my part. But don't hold your breath waiting for SportsCenter to lead with this story anytime soon.

Better to focus your scorn on the Bruce Pearls and Jim Tressel's of the world, and let a guy who callously and recklessly allowed a kid to DIE on his watch, to skate.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pick the Final Four

College Basketball Hits the Sweet Spot

The tournament, has once again, been awesome.

The format is pretty much undefeated, since expanding in 1985.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, however. Think of it. With 32 games on Thursday and Friday, and another 16 before Monday comes, of course we’ll have more than just a handful of exciting games and moments to talk about when we return to the water cooler.

What are the chances, that out of 48 games, all of them would suck?


That said, there’s an even more simple explanation as to why the tournament tickles our sports fan sweet spot.

The players really care, and they play hard.

That’s all we ever ask as fans, really. Play hard. Give a crap.

The rest takes care of itself, no matter what the sport.

Once athletes get to the professional ranks, the “caring” and “playing hard” elements start to get worn down pretty quick. Part of it, is the millions which pour into bank accounts on a monthly  basis. The other big part is the interminable pro sports regular seasons which are needed to generate all that money for players and owners.

Play hard. Give a crap.

This is not to say that pro sports are without these two key elements. You just have to wait all year for them to arrive in some leagues. Or, you have to separate out guys who truly just love being rich playing a game, versus athletes who simply cannot stand to lose.

In this event, the tournament, players cry, coaches cry. Cheerleaders cry. Little kids in their daddy’s arms cry.
Coaches get mad at media people who “make” players cry with leading questions. (Memo to Frank Martin: I get it, you were protecting your player, but you essentially stole his moment. So what if he’s crying? Let him cry. Shut up. We think MORE of Jacob Pullen because of that response, not less.)

Everybody cares. A lot.

And while you are sometimes stunned at the momentary stupidity of some plays (see the final 2.2 seconds of Butler v. Pitt) you at least appreciate how hard teams claw and fight.

One last note about how enjoyable the NCAA game is to watch and absorb. It currently “scales” properly to the court dimensions and height of the rim.

This is not a knock at the NBA, per se, it’s just that the league has grown like an overfed goldfish left in a tank that is increasingly too small.

Think about it.

The NBA sized basketball court has remained stagnant for what, 50 plus years? More? The height of the rim has not been raised. The size of the goal has not been reduced to make it more challenging.

Yet if you were to line up the NBA’s players from 50 years ago and measure them against today’s players, I am 1000% certain you would find, among other pieces of evolutionary evidence…

-          Average height and weight has increased
-          Average vertical leap has increased
-          Average % of body fat has decreased
-          Average measurable strength has increased
-          There are more “moves” that didn’t exist 50 years ago.

In other words, NBA players are freaks. They are so big, so fast, so skilled, they have outgrown the logical dimensions of the game. The sport at the NBA level is impossible to officiate fairly, because it’s like judging a dance contest in an elevator.

The college game of today scales just right to the dimensions of the court. The games are very athletic, even with so-called “mid-major” teams in play. Even modest sized white kids in the 6-3 range can dribble drive dunk in traffic.

The college game has really hit the sweet spot, minus of course, the ever growing scourge of armfuls of mindless tattoos.

Should the NBA make the court bigger or the rim higher? I doubt it. Besides, like I said, there’s too many guys making $6 million a year on teams that are hopelessly awful to infuse the pros with college fever anytime before late May.

Let’s just enjoy this delicious treat, while it fresh and “in season.”

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cink Stink Leads to Tweet Retreat

File this one under... "told ya...."

Stewart Cink decided to get a little lubed up, and crack back on Bob Huggins and Tiger Woods, via his favorite social media tool, Twitter.

@stewartcink: UK took it to WVu today, huggy bear is a drunk!! You see elin’s mansion for 10 million? Wow, expensive tale tiger got!

Errr... wait. No he didn't mean to crack back on Huggy and Cheetah via Twitter.... he thought he was just TEXTING that blast to a friend!


Luckily for Cink, nobody really gives a shit about what that skillet-headed, slow-playing bore-fest thinks. And yeah, I know he's got 1.2 million followers, but really....

Of course, he quickly took the Tweet down (too late, chump, screengrab!) and then apologized - sort of. He didn't say he was sorry for the blast, just that it wasn't meant for the entire interwebs.

Good thing for Cink too, that he's an independent contractor, and can't get suspended by the Tour, not that this level of shank would merit such a thing.

But mark my words, the day is coming when something worse gets "texted to the entire internet" and that person doesn't get off so easy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

2,564 Frames Per Second - In 1080p!

Locked in a Vegas Hotel Room with a Phantom Flex from Tom Guilmette on Vimeo.

If you are a video nerd like me, check out this awesome super-super-duper-hi-speed video of a bunch of random things shot in a hotel room in Vegas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winner Winner, Sheen Dinner!

Here's your winning bracket kids! Just print it out, and turn it in!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Garbage In, Garbage Out

If the NCAA cares about having a credible "spokesman" to answer for the inevitable NCAA "snubs" on Selection Sunday, then I would say they need to seriously upgrade from Gene Smith's performance.

Not only did he specifically NOT answer any of the key questions, but he offered pure gibberish, sprinkled with things that were factually incorrect ("there were a lot of good teams this year" = wrong!).

Here's a transcript of Smith's sit down with ESPN's George Smith. I've helpfully boldfaced some of the more ridiculous things he said.

GEORGE SMITH: UAB and VCU. How did the committee make the case for those two teams?

GENE SMITH: Yeah, when you look at them, and again I know people are tired of hearing it, but we uh, always look at how ya did, and wheredya play, and those things. And when you pull up their resume, and you compare them against everyone else, and look at how well a job they did in the regular season. They deserved to be in.

And keep in mind, there’s 10 committee members, and we all have different criteria, you know there’s 15 quantifiable pieces of criteria that we look at. We get information from the regional coaches advisory committee, and, then we all watch teams throughout the year, and get feedback from that perspective.

So, when you compared them against everyone else across the country, we just felt they were, er, earned the right to be in the field.

GEORGE SMITH: Colorado is a team that is not in, 6 wins against top-50 teams, a big win against Texas, what more could Colorado have done?

GENE SMITH: Well, you know, they they had a great year. Obviously, they’re a good basketball team. You know, three great wins against Kansas State who are in the field and uh, but, when you look again, from the beginning of their schedule to the end, and look at their non-conference from the beginning, that included their conference schedule, and compare ‘em against everyone else, uh, they just didn’t get enough votes to get in.

And that’s the hard part, when you only have 37 at large slots that you control and most people think we have 68, but you only have 37 slots, and this year, there are a lot of good teams out there, moreso than previous years for me.

GEORGE SMITH: The field expanded to 68, and in theoretically, maybe, that was going to make things easier, but I heard you say earlier it made it harder. Why?

GENE SMITH: Yeah yeah, uh, we picked up three more at large teams, obviously, and I just think it’s this particular year. I think coaches across the country have done a great job. And and, then you have teams that are senior dominated, with a lot of role players that have developed over the years, and and they’re very good teams and so, we had a lot more teams – in my view – uh, that really had a decent case to be an at large team, and so, we just didn’t have enough slots.

Stand By Your Man

Jim Tressel made the right call.

No, I'm not crazy.

Mind you, Tressel is no saint. He's no role model for pure and un-fettered honesty. He's just a college football coach.

If you were fooled by the sweater vest, glasses, and nickname of "Senator" then shame on you.

The guy is paid to win college football games. To recruit, practice, and play as hard as possible, exactly 1 inch from the guardrail of NCAA rules.

Run enough laps at that speed, and eventually you're gonna wreck yourself.

It happens.

Go ahead, name for me the cleanest college football program that has won anything of note in the last 20 years? The clean and honest ones? They're losers.

The top programs in D-1 alternate between periods of "oops, you caught me" and varying levels of dominance. USC, Alabama, Michigan, Miami, Texas, Oklahoma. They all have the prison tats to prove it.

Now, Ohio State.

Geez people, stop hyperventilating on this one.

Tressel was in a tough spot. For starters, his primary responsibility is to his employer - The Ohio State University.

His employer, is standing by him, without blinking.

That fact alone, really ends the argument. He made the right call.

Oh sure, in the world of a sports columnist - like, say Christine Brennan - you can swaddle yourself in the absolutes of black and white, truth and lies, right and wrong.

You don't have to beat Michigan every year, and bring home a big fat BCS payday come New Year's. 

He does.

So here he was, made aware of some penny-ante violations by a few of his star players with a monster season on his racket. Given how capricious the NCAA's enforcement policies are, who knows how severe the penalties would be if you decided to go "Boy Scout" and tell the whole truth?

In some cases, the NCAA is as heartless as a librarian on late fees. In others, they are as lenient as a substitute teacher.

Dez Bryant just talks to Deion Sanders and they say coldly "your career is over". 

Then you have the Cam Newton saga from this fall. It was like the NCAA walked in on its daughter (Auburn) getting undressed and felt up in her room by a boyfriend they've never met.

Instead of throwing the boyfriend out of the house and calling the cops, they just said "oops, sorry" and sheepishly closed the door.

So if you're Tressel, this was a tough one.

It's not like you are actively cheating as a coach, or a program. Your kids are just being idiots. But at least they aren't holding people up at gunpoint, or sexually assaulting their girlfriends.

On the one hand, the rule is stupid, but it is a rule.

Then again, the violations may just end up sleeping with the fishes.

You have an employer, and they pay you handsomely for not just periodic success, but bankable success.

Plus, you have another 95 kids or so, who have done nothing wrong, and are expecting to enjoy a possible season of a lifetime.

And what, he should just run to the phone and call the NCAA on this?

Yeah, sure. So they can lick their finger, stick it up to the wind, and make some decision that makes no sense?

I wouldn't. Neither would Tressel, apparently.

Tough call. Right call.

So it didn't work out. The violations came to light. So what?

The kids will get suspended next year for five games. Tressel gets a minimum of two, maybe more, and takes a 6% pay cut for a single season. (Yep, that's $250,000 out of a $4 million salary)

Ohio State says they are still thrilled to have you as a coach.

2011 won't likely be a season for the Best Of Buckeye Football DVD.

And the big time business of Division I college football marches on.

Cluck away, all you righteous columnists. But this is how the game is played.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"It's The Michigan Man!"

Not sure what's better, Iron Mike confusing "Michelin Man" with "Michigan Man" or his declaration that there's "nothing worse than a fat coke head."


Ellen should win an Emmy for the line: "You don't have to tell me..."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh... my... god.....

Tiger Woods is lost. Hopelessly lost.

Just look at this picture, and think about it. Here's the world's greatest modern player (post Nicklaus) walking the fairways of a mostly wide open layout, spraying the ball like a 12 handicapper, looking at video of his swing with a somewhat eccentric, flavor-of-the-month Tour-guru instructor with about 3 notable players on his resume.


Here's the money quote from the full story by Jeff Ritter.

The two men marched the fairways at the Blue Monster in lockstep, chatting constantly during the nine-hole session. Foley frequently unsheathed a camera to film Woods's swings, many of which produced staggeringly wayward shots. If it's true that you practice how you play, then it appears unlikely Woods will end his winless drought this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

On the 18th, Tiger's final hole of the day, Woods yanked back-to-back tee shots into the lake — after the first he smiled, after the second he remained stone-faced — before pushing a third tee ball into the right rough. In a scene that played out numerous times throughout the morning, Foley then showed Woods some images from his camera, Tiger nodded several times, and the two men headed down the fairway together.

Honestly, I am just a few missed cuts away from actually feeling SORRY for the guy. And I never thought I would say that, about Eldrick the Unrepentant. 


"The Cindy Zone"

I'm going to keep banging you people to watch the Onion Sports Dome on Comedy Central, until it's the #1 show in America!

Here's a story that must have half of Bristol, CT either squirming uncomfortably, or laughing themselves wet in the pants.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Now, That's A F***ing TIGER!

My good buddy Andy Pollin just got back from his South Africa safari/junket, and he was telling me enthusiastically that he "saw two tigers!" He said they were no less than 15 feet from the side of their safari vehicle.

I said: "Whoa..whoawhoa. Tiger? TIGERS?"

I know Africa doesn't have Tigers. Andy, well, he hasn't seen as many nature shows as I do.

Lions, while relatively bad-ass, ain't no tigers. Tigers do shit like this. And in the wild, they are very sneaky, and will stalk and hunt prey for miles and days at a time.

"Ocean's 32"

The owners had a pretty good plan. Then David Doty happened.

Thank god for Judge David Doty.

NFL owners have been scheming and dreaming of this week for almost two full years now. And they are more fucked, than they themselves, even know.

Here's the NFL labor situation in a nutshell. David Doty won't LET the owners lock the players out at this point. Once this week of kabuki-style "negotiations" run their course, the players will likely decertify, the owners will lock out, and the players will be in Doty's courtroom on Monday.

Literally, Monday.

Doty blistered the owners in his recent decision. He called the the NFL's underhanded TV rights re-negotiations with the vaunted "lockout insurance" not just "bad faith" but actually said it was "unconscionable" in its unfairness, and hello, illegal.

He's not just going to deny the owners their $4 billion. He's going to award the players damages from it!

This is not a judge who will let a lockout stand. He'll almost certainly issue an injunction against the lockout, while the players' lawsuit proceeds. So in effect, Doty will force the owners to keep "marching on" with league business, while the players pursue a new way of doing business on their own - without a union.

So the NFL would then be forced to let teams start spending money on this year's free agents (Danny, get Redskins One gassed up and on the runway!) while simultaneously watching the players sue to overturn various critical parts of the league's infrastructure.

So, how's that simple plan working right now? You know: "Lockout. Collect TV money. Wait for players to cave."

The players don't really want to dismantle the Draft, tear down the salary cap, and negotiate contracts, pensions, and all of that one-by-one. But given the alternative, it's starting to look better all the time.

When the owners don't treat you with respect or seriousness, there is no sense reciprocating.

The biggest mistake DeMaurice Smith and the union made was being reasonable. "Hey, we're fine with the current system." That made it look like they had somehow robbed the owners' bank account the last time around.

Smith and the players should have said: "Look, we can continue as we are, but there are some things we really don't like. So if we tear up the agreement, we've got a new wish list."

That list should include eliminating the franchise tag.

Nothing screws good players, quite as bad as this. Michael Vick is a perfect example, even though he's a uniquely un-sympathetic figure.

Vick had played things straight up, to a point where he legitimately earned the right to have teams bid on him, for what would have certainly been a multi-year guaranteed deal for close to $60 million or more.

Instead, he got the one year handcuffs from the Eagles for $16 million.

And please don't trot out the "I'd love to make that in one year" argument. Everything has to be judged in context. Vick and others ARE the product, in a $9 billion industry.

There is no comparison to "Joe The Plumber."

Compared to other athletes, and other NFL players un-shackled by the "franchise tag" this should be unacceptable to the union.

But then again, they were being reasonable. This should teach them.

If I were the players, I would also seek to eliminate contract end-arounds like the one AJ Hawk agreed to with the Packers. Hawk was a good player that the Pack wanted to keep.

But his contractually agreed upon salary for next year, was too high.

So the team was able to rip that deal up, and sign him for less. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

When players get just a LITTLE bit too expensive teams can adjust immediately and often without consequence. Yet when Chris Johnson blows the lid of the NFL market for game changing running backs, he has to threaten holding out to get a new deal. It's not his fault that the NFL draft and it's geniuses missed on his impact abilities, and thus paid him a slotted salary that was well below market value.

I know, Johnson did get more money, but that's beside the point. Many players, do not. And it is the egregious one-sided-ness of these NFL contracts that should be brought more into equity.

A union-less NFL world would in many ways, be a bonanza for the players. And not just the stars. If you think mid-level players wouldn't get paid under a wide-open system, I give you Adam Archuleta and Brandon Lloyd as just two examples.

Owners like Snyder, vastly over-paid for these guys, and that was with a HARD SALARY CAP in place!

The money would find the players. 

And the stars? Oh boy, hold on to your hats.

What is Peyton Manning worth on the true, un-fettered, no-tag, free agent market?

Answer: a shitload more than whatever deal he ends up signing for under this system.

Manning may truly want to stay where he's had success and where the fans treat him like a God, but given a compelling PowerPoint presentation from a quality organization that really needs a "put us over the top" QB, I could easily see him breaking the bank.

Do the owners really want to give birth to the football equivalent of Scott Boras?

Nobody believes the owners aren't making a ton of money, year over year, not to mention the equity wealth they are building by owning their franchise. The fastest way to "prove" this would be to eliminate the cap, the tag, and the draft.

Which should make the owners pretty damn scared right now, because they have backed the players into a corner. Faced with a truly shitty offer that hasn't budged in two years, much less after 10 days of mediation, all kinds of once unthinkable options, suddenly get thought of in a much more positive light.

If the players were hell bent to decertify and launch the anti-trust "nuclear option", they would have a really good shot at winning on all fronts. But even if the players "only" were able to eliminate the cap and the tags, then suddenly Ralph Wilson's equity stake in his beloved Buffalo Bills would take a good 20% hit.

Bye-bye, $200 million!

Which brings me to the last point on the owners' collective stupidity.

Key to their "reasoning" is that they need more money to build more stadiums. Okay, let's take a look at that prospect.

How is a mini-JerryWorld going to help the Bills?

There just aren't the corporate dollars in Buffalo, NY to make building a luxury-suite palace a net money-winner. And if you want to squeeze more from regular fans by way of club seats, PSL's and the like, well good luck on that.

A new stadium hasn't done much to help mend the penny choking, small minded, "this is my dad's old hardware store" approach to running the Bengals, now has it? I'm not taking sides with Carson Palmer or the team, but how fucked up do you have to be as a football organization to have a former Pro Bowl QB ready to fucking QUIT the game instead of come back to play for you!?

If you want a bold prediction, here's one: watch how quickly JerryWorld turns into a bloated, money losing dinosaur of a stadium.

At some point, every football fan in the DFW metroplex will have come and seen the place. They will have marveled at the JerryTron. And if Jerry doesn't fuck it up too bad (odds: 50-50) the team will be worth watching in person in say 7 years.

But the need - no the FINANCIAL IMPERATIVE - for warm blooded humans with money in their pockets to keep buying tickets at sky high prices to sit 3 nautical miles above the field in an all-day Sunday consuming activity, will remain.

That stadium won't be paid off in seven years. But who says fans will still be coming?

I stopped by the Sony Style store in Tysons' Corner mall on Friday night. Luckily, I resisted the urge to buy anything. But I did gander at their 3D sets and a Blue-Ray in 3D.

It was pretty damn impressive.

As I sat there with these goofy glasses on my face, I got to thinking: what if you could have 3D wrap-around glasses that are wi-fi/4G/whatever enabled, upon which I can watch all of the games in the vaunted "Sunday Ticket" with everyone's favorite crack cocaine "The Red Zone."

Shit, I could watch Sunday ticket from the golf course. From my hammock. From a boring car ride to the in-laws. And the picture quality would melt my fucking face!

Well, you know what. That day isn't just a Buck Rodgers space fantasy. That's gonna happen. Period.

Let me repeat: that day is coming, like James Harrison after a defenseless receiver.

If we don't have that technology in 10 years, I'll give you every TV I own right now. (Current count: 9 screens, all HD capable). Hell, these will be obsolete by then anyway. Have 'em.

This is the world the NFL owners are blind to right now. They are blind to disruptive technologies that will destroy some of their existing revenue streams, like stadiums and luxury boxes.

Sure, it won't be equally damaging across the board. Some cities, like say Green Bay and Pittsburgh, have a communal joy and vibe associated with actually going to the game, tailgating, and sharing the game day experience.

But at least 1/3 of the league does not. Not even close.

Those franchises will be increasingly left behind, and need further help to compete if the NFL still wants to avoid becoming the English Premiere League or Major League Baseball.

And while the owners say: "aha, that's our point!" in regard to the current labor mess, in reality they are just trying to rob a 7-11 at gunpoint to keep their mortgage current for a few months.

Stealing 18% from players who are increasingly on their way to shortened life spans, and brain damaged retirements, is not just morally repulsive, it's hardly a viable business plan to keep the league balanced and competitive.

Better revenue sharing and some hard and honest discussions about market size and stadiums would be a good start.

But, hey, the owners aren't at that point right now. Not yet, at least. They've engineered what they thought was a brilliant, "Ocean's 32" style heist that was meticulously planned for almost two years.

Looks like they are going to see it through, for better or worse.

My parting plea to Smith and the Union: go ahead, make their day.