by Tom Weppel
Random thoughts from a cluttered mind…
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Starting with this weekend, there are only three weeks left in the NFL regular season. We can see that there are a couple of teams that have clinched playoff spots (Colts, Saints, Vikes), a number of teams that are simply toast (Browns, Lions, Rams, Bucs), and a number of teams that are fighting and hoping they can snag one of the remaining slots available for postseason play.
For the ‘losers’, there is simply nothing to play for. Coaches and players will never tell you that, of course. Their job is to win, flat out, no matter the circumstances.
But for all intents, the reason they are where they are is because their teams suck! So, for this weekend, I would say the Seahawks should have no problem hosting the Bucs, the Cardinals should roll over the Lions in Detroit, and the Texans can get back to .500 with a win at St. Louis against the Rams.
For the undefeated teams…the Colts and Saints…let me just say that, in my opinion, it doesn’t make a difference if these teams finish 16-0 or 15-1 or even 14-2, as long as they get to the Super Bowl! That has to be a slight thought, at the very least, for players and coaches of both franchises.
So, if either team slips up and incurs a loss in these next three weeks, I don’t think they will feel too bad, since both are going to the playoffs and playing good ball in the postseason. That being said, look for both teams to rest players who are banged up, simply to make sure they are healthy and ready to go for the playoffs…
This weekend we will start to see the onslaught of Bowl games being played, and my only question is…are there too many of them?
Of course, I am a total proponent of a playoff system, but we all know that isn’t gonna happen in the near future! That leaves Bowl execs scrambling to find 68 teams to fill slots for 34 Bowl games. In fact, the NCAA desperately keeps their fingers crossed that enough teams finish their seasons at .500 or better, simply to become Bowl-eligible!
Not only is that an extreme task, but I can virtually guarantee you most of us don’t: a) know the names of the Bowls, b) don’t know who is playing who in what games, and c) will be watching games that will have stands not even CLOSE to being filled with fans! It makes the whole set up a complete joke, for all intents! My guess is sooner or later things will get bad financially, as they are with so many other industries around the U.S., and some Bowls will end up having to fold or shut down, or sponsors will have to give up their title slots. In a way, I actually hope that happens!
Anyway, these games will start on Saturday, and it won’t stop until the BCS ‘Championship’ game on January the 7th. By next Wednesday, none of us will have remembered who played in the first game on Saturday, or who won. And the concept that was so reverential almost two decades ago, where the games played on New Years Day were the culmination of a great season, are now nothing more than leftovers from a holiday meal eaten by your relatives.
If you’re a college football fan, maybe you will take exception to my thoughts. I’m not afraid to say there are a couple of intriguing match ups. Its more a matter of how many of us really care.
CONCUSSIONS! WHAT’S THE DEAL?
You would think athletes had never had their head rattled before, up until the last year or so! All of the sudden, it seems every sport and/or League has taken a more cognizant stance when it comes to jarring hits of the cranium.
It started with the NFL, with players now being held out for a number of weeks, even though it seems they could’ve played the week after they had a hit to the head, like they have had in the past. In past seasons, players might have had a hit to the head, either by their own doing, or from a hit from an opponent, but shook it off, took some aspirin, and got themselves up and ready to go for the next game.
Now the NCAA and even the U.S. Congress is taking a stance on trying to prevent or take care of concussive hits, mainly in football, but obviously in all sports, depending on the scenario.
Something is going on here, I believe, that the general public is not totally aware of. Maybe there’s a fear of potential legal problems down the road, in the form of former players suing Leagues for permanent damages. Its always possible some medical doctors and/or specialists have done ‘studies’ recently, concluding that a rattling of the brain is NOT a good thing! (As if that was no big deal before!) Otherwise, coaches would simply ask a player or athlete if they are okay to get back on the field. The player would give the coach a ‘thumbs up’, and back out they went, with no more questions asked. But it seems that isn’t going to be the case anymore, especially in the near future. From now on, anytime a player even has a slight rattling of the ole’ noggin’, they can plan on being out for at least a week, if not longer, all in the form of increased precaution of permanent neurological damage.
I guess my only question now is, why wasn’t this done a long, long time ago?