Good afternoon everyone. Go ahead and fasten your seatbelts - I have no shortage of topics to cover here today (not having this entry ready for you this morning paid off this time as today has already been a big sports day)... I wanted to begin with some shoutouts. My friend --S out in Las Vegas (commenting on a post here) and my friend Randy here in San Marcos, America (commenting on a facebook post) both predicted that Peyton Manning would end up in Denver when I predicted that he would land in Arizona - well done gentlemen... I also wanted to give a shoutout to the 'Voice of San Marcos', who can play middle linebacker on my team anytime... If you're sensing a little bit of a football theme here, you're dead right. If it was up to me, the football season could start tomorrow (of course I feel like this every day during the offseason)... For those of you who are hoop junkies, I will give you my predictions (with scores) for the 'Sweet 16' matchups later in this post. For those of you who are baseball junkies, I will still be giving you my predictions of the records of all 30 Major League Baseball teams for the upcoming regular season on Friday. For those of you who want suggestions on how to prepare a gourmet meal, you're in the wrong place...
Sean Payton: Among the various punishments that the NFL gave the New Orleans Saints today for 'bounties' that were placed on opposing players, head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for one year without pay (starting April 1st). As far as making predictions goes, I am at a loss here, but this is going to be interesting. I guess that you promote someone from within the organization for one year with the understanding that Payton resumes his duties April 1, 2013??? This is a pretty shocking development considering that the prevailing wisdom was that he would receive a 4 to 6 game suspension.
John Elway: If you ask me, Elway has never liked having Tebow in Denver, he didn't like the organization 'having' to cave into fan pressure to play Tebow, and signing Peyton Manning was his way of sticking it to Tebow and the mile-high faithful. Don't get me wrong, Elway can do what he wants in his job, but if Manning isn't a HUGE success for the Broncos, I think that this move is going to end up blowing up in his face. My prediction is that this explosion is exactly what we are going to see. Tebow was EXTREMELY POPULAR in Denver, and no one knows what is going to happen when Manning takes the field again. Let me interject here that I have always been a Manning fan. He's a character guy and he's always produced. The pitfalls that I see here are that Manning is not young anymore, he will have a completely different group of coaches and teammates than he had in Indianapolis, he will be playing outdoors in inclement weather in many more games, the AFC West teams (Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders) have a pretty respectable group of defenses (he will be facing them 6 teams combined), and again, there are no guarantees as to how his neck is going to hold up when he is hit. Do you think that NFL officials are overzealous in protecting hits to the head on quarterbacks now? Just wait and see what happens when someone gets near Manning's lid... If Manning isn't able to hold up as Denver's signal caller, then what do the Broncos have? Shipping off a very popular young quarterback who took over the reins of a 1-4 team and led that team to a division title and a playoff victory is incredibly risky. AT BEST Manning has only a handful of good years left in him, and that is IF he can stay healthy... Stay tuned...
Peyton Manning: Again, Manning is a character guy and has had a Hall of Fame career in my book if he never takes the field again. Just look at how the Colts played last season without Manning and in the many seasons prior with him at the helm. Manning has known Elway for a long time and I am sure that played a huge part in his decision to sign with Denver, although I still don't think that the Broncos are the best fit for him (okay, that's the last time I'll say that for a while)... :) Manning is a smart, hard-working guy that doesn't strike me as someone who is afraid of a challenge, and I think that will suit him well in this situation, because getting the Broncos into the same stratosphere as the perennial elite teams in the AFC (Patriots, Ravens, Steelers) isn't going to be easy.
Tim Tebow: Tebow is now a member of the New York Jets. Just when you think that the Big Apple couldn't get any crazier... I am very curious as to how Tebow and Rex Ryan will co-exist, but there is one undeniable trait that they share - they are both EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE and seemingly have a HUNGER to succeed. Even as I type this, I would not be surprised if Tebow surpasses Sanchez as the Jets starter entering the season. Tebow is also like Ryan in that he is fiery and wears his emotions on his sleeve, and that's just not the type of guy that Mark Sanchez is. I am also completely under the impression that if Ryan didn't want Tebow to be a Jet, then Tebow wouldn't be in New York. Grab some popcorn folks...
Mark Sanchez: People that know me well know that I have never been big on Sanchez, but for someone who led their team to consecutive conference championship games (okay, 'led' may be an overstatement), having 'Tebowmania' come to New York cannot be a positive thing. It's hard to play well when you're constantly looking over your shoulder, but I don't know how else this can play out. How can you NOT be worried about performing poorly when a big part of your fan base will predictably be warming up their vocal chords to chant "WE WANT TEBOW!"??? I guess that's why these guys get paid the big money...
Some 'Sweet 16' predictions for you, without further commentary:
Syracuse 70 Wisconsin 65
Michigan State 73 Louisville 63
Ohio State 75 Cincinnati 64
Florida 68 Marquette 64
Baylor 80 Xavier 73
North Carolina 81 Ohio 68
Kentucky 83 Indiana 72
Kansas 66 N.C. State 59
I think that this sets the record for my longest blog entry ever, but since it looks like you readers are going to put 'Bikini Hill' over the 5,000 views mark by this weekend, I'm happy to do it... ;) If you're nice, I might do a special Saturday entry with my 'Elite 8' predictions... Have a great day everyone and I'll see you on Friday.