Michael asks a great question. When I start looking at teams to come up with the list, I eliminated teams like the Browns and 49ers right away because their season is done before anyone gets injured.
So here are the top 10 that I could come up with. There are a few that you could flip flop spots, but I think the list looks pretty good.
10. Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots
Rob Gronkowski is as good of a football player that we have in the league. Brady does not have an effective receiving core or dependable running game. Having Gronk on the field makes more space to operate for the rest of the offense and he converts third downs at an alarming rate. Sure Brady is great and could keep any game interesting without Gronk, but it is significantly more difficult without him.
9. Julio Jones and the Falcons
Julio Jones is a freak athlete. There is not another decent option at receiver or tight end to stretch the field for the Falcons. The running game is not bad, but it is not great either. Devonte Freeman can end up being a piece that can help win games, but without Julio the falcons would most likely finish last in their division.
8. Odell Beckham and the Giants
As OBJ goes, so goes the Giants. He is the offense and it needs him to take all of the attention off the defense to get anything going to the rest of the threats on offense. Could there be a shot that the Giants make the playoffs without OBJ? Sure. But the division is so bad that even if they did squeak in, it would be because the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins all imploded.
7. Khalil Mack and the Raiders
The first defensive player on the list. Mack had a career year last year and is part of a very improved defense and team for that matter. Without the pass rush that Mack provides, the rest of the team will suffer and the sleeper pick by most experts won’t make the turn and end up in the playoffs.
6. Fletcher Cox and the Eagles
Sticking with defense, Fletcher Cox is a terror on the interior of the line. He can single-handedly keep the Eagles in games. As I mentioned earlier about the NFC East, it is so bad that Cox will have a shot at the playoffs where anything can happen. Without Chip Kelley putting the defense on the field for more times than any other team in the league, Cox will be able to apply pressure at an even higher level.
5. Andrew Whitworth and the Bengals
Andrew Whitworth has been quietly one of the best tackles in football for a few years. Protecting the “Red Rocket” is critical for this team and it would be impossible to replace Whitworth. I know this is kind of cheating, because it is still about the QB, but without Whitworth this team will not make the playoffs.
4. Anthony Castonzo and the Colts
For the same reason as Whitworth above, but the Colts need a healthy protected QB more than the Bengals do. The Colts defense is suspect and there are not any great targets that the team would miss too significantly if they had to go without. We are expecting a bounce back performance from Luck this year and Castonzo is a big piece of that.
3. Michael Bennett and Seahawks
I know that Seattle is deep and most think they would be fine without any single piece, but Bennett is the exception. He is the reason that opposing teams can’t simply pick on the side opposite of Sherman all game. The cover three they play is susceptible to the 6-8 yard passes (i.e. Patriots in the Superbowl), but only if you can get Earl Thomas and Kam Chancelor spread out. That can’t happen if the QB does not have time. With Bennett on the field, QBs do not have time.
2. J.J. Watt and the Texans
The Texans might be a team that are out of the playoffs with or without Watt, but he is the best player in football right now. He is the engine to that whole team and without him they could finish in the bottom three or four in the league.
1. Adrian Peterson and the Vikings
The Vikings were a field goal away from beating Seattle in the playoffs. This team is built around AP and for good reason. He is the hardest player to tackle in the league and makes defenses pay for trying to stop him. They’re another Cinderella pick going into this year, but that can only happen with a healthy Peterson.
Honorable Mentions: Luke Kueckly, Von Miller, and Travis Kelce
Havasupai is one of the most beautiful places on earth and making the journey is really one of the most inspiring accomplishments a person a make.
So here is the story of the time my wife, her cousin, her cousin’s husband and I made the trip.
We were hanging out at a family party and my wife’s cousin, we will call her E, mentioned that she booked reservations to make the trip for husband’s birthday. She booked it for four people and they were going to go with her brother and her dad.
I had seen pictures and always wanted to make the call for reservations, but never took that step. As soon as I heard E had made the call I instantly was jealous and asked if My wife and I could join in.
It took a few weeks and few texts to remind E to ask, but we were in. S, my wife, and I were super excited and also a little scared. We are in decent shape and both pretty athletic, but the last time I had hiked any distance was 10 plus years ago.
So the preparation began. S and I got the list of things to take and looked into using mules to hike our stuff in and out of the canyon. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow some stuff like the lightweight tent and a one backpack for S, but we needed to get some sleeping bags and dehydrated food.
A few trips to Big 5 sports and REI and we were loaded up on some socks and hiking clothes to make sure we were comfy. We bought S new boots, but I made the mistake of using some old combat boots I had from the Air Force. We got new camel packs and a portable stove and we were set.
We planned lots of times to go hike and spend time getting used to climbing and walking around on uneven ground, but we ended up hiking only one time to prepare. We went 2.5 miles south of our house towards the mountains and turned around and came home. Five miles total should be good prep to go 22 miles in two days right?
I had a small blister, but I didn’t think that my boots were an issue and I thought they actually held up pretty well on the short jaunt we took. S and I both were able to carry our packs that distance and felt good with our endurance. We were psyched and ready to go.
So, as I mentioned before we were looking to have our bags carried in, or out, or both. But E’s brother was set on making the trip an accomplishment by carrying our own bags in and out.
The night before the trip we find out that E’s brother was not going to make the trip. We already knew that her dad was not going to make it. So it was the four of us; E and her husband C, S and I.
We met at their house after work on a Thursday and made the drive to small town about an hour away from the trail head. We booked a hotel room and made it there about 11 pm Thursday night. As we pull in, it does not look like the safest motel I have ever been to and there is a Grim reaper mannequin inside the dark window that we had to buzz to get an attendant. The girls were terrified and wanted to stay somewhere else, but we were tired and needed sleep to be ready in the morning. So C and I were able to calm them down, we stayed and I passed out.
We woke up early the next morning and had the continental breakfast. We got to meet the manager that runs the place and she was one of the nicest ladies and very hospitable. Even when she caught us taking a stack of plastic forks to eat our dehydrated meals with she was very gracious.
After were had our fill, we were off to the trail head. We loaded up our packs and topped off our water, hit the bathroom, took some selfies, and started down the trail.
This hike is unique in the fact that you start at the top and drop about a 1000 feet in altitude In the first mile. Then drop another 1000 feet over the next 10 miles. As we made our way down the steepest part of the hike we were feeling great.
We walked with a young Asian kid that had some professional photography equipment and was wearing flip flops. At this point we were feeling a little over prepared.
As you make the journey you see the locals on horseback leading the mules that would have been carrying our bags for a small fee, but instead there we were moving to the side of the path every 20-30 minutes as another group of them passed us while we carried our 60 lb packs.
We were making good time even though we’re stopping to take pictures along the way. The canyon was beautiful and the trail was nice and easy, heading slowly downhill.
The trail is not marked well and I think we thought we were close about 15 different times. Finally we did see a sign that said “You’re almost there,” but even that was about five miles from the village.
The village was a very interesting place. There were some sick horses that looked like they had made the trip up and down the canyon a few too many times. I don’t want to make it sound worse than it was, but it was definitely something that got all of our attention.
There was a small school with a basketball court and most kids were wearing basketball shorts and some outdated Nike’s. You can tell that the hundreds of travelers a day were a necessary inconvenience.
S and E were very excited to make it to the village because it was rumored that there was beer for sale and after hiking 11 miles it would have been well deserved. So after we checked into with the office to get our tent tags, C and I went find a restrooms and the girls went looking for alcohol.
When we found them, they did not find beer, but were being swarmed by bees. They were not aggressive, but they were everywhere. We grabbed our packs quickly and headed to the falls. The first set of falls were only a few hundred yards out of the village. It was an amazing site. They were as powerful as they were beautiful.
It was almost a half mile further to make it to the waterfall that you see in all the pictures. You can hear it as you approach, but can’t see anything until you head down the steep hill past the cliff. But once you see it, it is breath taking. It is the real life version of the picture you looked at a hundred times and with your own eyes it is almost magical. For just a moment the 11 mile hike seems like a distant memory.
We walked past the falls to the landing and started our search for the perfect spot to spend the night. We debated over a spot that was very private and secluded, or an open area with lots of space near the stream. We chose the stream.
This seemed like a great choice until we got visitors. A guided tour group made camp right next to us. About 12 people and 6 tents with basically a full kitchen and all the noise that it brought with them. It did lead to one of the most hilarious moments of the trip. More on this later.
We took some time to locate the water spout that was a fresh naturally running water source for all of the campers. It was very good and we did not need to treat the water at all. We then hiked down to the lower falls which were also amazing, C and S were not feeling very confident about hiking to the bottom of these falls.
The climb did include a kind of sketchy chain handrail and ladder to get down. E and I pushed our significant other’s patience and continued to climb down to get a mid fall view and it was spectacular. This did however lead to the first argument of the trip and C ended up throwing the world’s best natural walking stick into the bushes and we never recovered it. I also did not help them keep a promise to a neighbor friend of theirs that asked them to video tape their first fight of the trip.
We finally made it back to camp, filled up some water and started cooking our dinner. The just add water dehydrated meals were not that bad and actually filled us up. It was at the same time that the large guided tour group was setting up their camp. You could tell there was some awkward sexual tension going on between some of the campers and there was a wide range of skillfulness around a camp site that we were observing. This is where one of the funniest moments of my life happened.
There are no words to describe it. You just have to see for yourself.
We played some card games and had some wine that we carried in a water bladder down. We went to bed early knowing that we had a long hike out of the canyon the next day. Oh did I not mention that. We only stayed one night and had to hike in and out on consecutive days after not hiking for years.
As we got ready for bed the sore muscles and now large blister really started to hurt. It was not a great night of sleep on the hard ground and thin sleeping pad we brought. It seemed like it took forever to get to sleep.
In the middle of the night I did have to use the bathroom, so S and I went together. The bathroom is one of the nicest I have ever seen in a camp site. It was a compost system that you added scoops of wood shaving to your business and it neutralized any of the gross stuff that you anticipate in these types of bathrooms.
The morning was beautiful and the weather was perfect. The birds were chirping and we started making breakfast right away. Dehydrated breakfast is not as good as the lunches or dinners. Runny eggs are not what you need to get your day started. But we still had a ton of Cliff Bars and beef jerky for the trip up the hill.
We packed up with little to no issue and as we were leaving camp our neighbors started cooking real eggs, sausage and hash browns for breakfast. I was more than a little jealous as we went on our way.
As we got to the first falls just outside of the village the girls wanted to get some pictures at the base so we took some time to climb down and get our last pictures of the falls.
These falls are really cool and I wish that we would have spent some time here the day before. But after about 20 minutes we were back on the trail and headed into the village.
S and E stopped at the post office to send a postcard that gets a unique stamp since it is still carried by mule out of the village. Pretty cool souvenir to send home and to friends. While we were in town we had some serious considerations to hiring the mules to carry our stuff out. But, we stayed with the plan and carried our stuff out of town and onto the trail.
By the time we reached the “you’re almost there” sign, the mole skin I put around my blisters stopped working. It was uncomfortable to walk and I didn’t notice that I started changing my stride to compensate.
We took many more stops and water breaks than we did on the way in and took our time making it out. Slow and steady was working as we made it up the 10 miles to the base of the final climb. We were beat up and sore, but the end was so close. We sat down at some man made rock benches and looked up at the trail ahead. This was the moment that we realized that we were out of water. It was devastating. Looking back and the fact that we made it out, we obviously could physically do it, but the mental block of making the climb without water was almost paralyzing.
But we started up the switchbacks. About a 1/4 of the way up another couple with no bags passed us, my wife asked for spare water and they were kind enough to give us a flavored water bottle. We all shared but between the four of us it was not much. We kept going. We had made it up a few more switch backs and there was Gatorade bottle on the ground with a sip of blue deliciousness left. I drank it and my wife looked at me in disgust and asked if I just drank from the bottle on the ground. I screamed back you’re not as thirsty as I am! Her faced changed from disgusted to understanding and turned and started walking.
This is where it got a little scary. C is tough guy from Jersey and is in good shape. But he also has had a couple knee surgerys and the dehydration was not helping. We were taking breaks after every set of switchbacks and it was taking forever to finish this mile. I decided that I just needed to buckle down and go get some water we had in the car and bring it back. I went and I made it. I turned back around to let them know water was coming and to my surprise they were only one switchback behind me and going to make it before I could even make it to the car. So I waited and we celebrated.
E was right. Carrying our bags in and out of the canyon was a great accomplishment. But now that I have earned that merit badge, the next time I go, I am paying for the mules.
With all that said. I hope that if you are reading this it is because you have this adventure of a lifetime already planned. If you don’t, get out a pen, write it down the word Havasupai and add it to your bucket list. It’s worth it.
Editors Note: I didn’t write this as a how to guide, but feel free to Email Questions@1ongball.com if you have questions about things you need to know about the trip.
There are a lot of people that would say nothing. The NBA still has some die hard fans that live and die with with games that happen what seems like almost nightly for months during the regular season. The NBA is exciting and full of masterful athleticism that is beautiful to watch when it is played at it’s highest level.
But there are some real issues when you look at the league and how it is managed right now. Referees have become as big a part of the game as some coaches or broadcasters. Every time I see a referee jump and skip down the court when making a call, I think of some WWE ref and their D level acting. The block charge call has only been outdone, as the most ridiculously missed and scrutinized call in sports, by the NFL’s catch rule.
And then there is the player that jumps in the air to block a shot and how he must navigate not getting a shoulder or elbow into their mid section, to avoid being called for a foul is almost laughable to watch in real time.
Then there is the parity in the league. JJ Reddick just recently tweeted rebutting the super team concept and pointed out that since Lebron went to Miami that 6 different teams have won the chip. While this does address the parity of “super” teams, it does not deal with the overall league parity. The Sixers have been so bad for so long and even the “stacked” western conference only shuffles a few teams around when they send their top eight to the playoffs.
We can cut the lack of parity up so many ways. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan both exited the league this year and in the 19 seasons that Tim Duncan played he or Kobe won 10 championships. That is better than half of the time that two teams from one conference won it all.
Let’s go back even further. Since the first NBA finals that I was alive for in 1984, 10 teams have won a championship. Cleveland, Golden Sate, and Dallas in that time frame are the only teams to only win one championship. The other 7 teams Share the remaining 29 championships together.
Then add in the finals losers. In 32 years, you can add 10 teams to the list that have at least been to a championship. Of those Phoenix, Indiana and Philadelphia are the only one time losers. That leaves 20 teams with fans that are 30 years our younger that have never seen their team win a chip and 10 teams with fans that age that have never even seen there team in a finals game.
Now contrast that with the NFL. The sports powerhouse in the US.
The NFL has 13 teams that have never won a Super Bowl and only 6 teams that never been to the big game. What makes that an even more significant difference is that the NFL has two more teams than the NBA.
Lastly, is the product itself. Now hear me out on this one. I love the athleticism and artistry that happens at the pro level. The problem is that Basketball games are played with half of the intensity during the first three and a half quarters and ratchets up in the last six minutes.
This is what makes the playoffs so much fun is that every possession is played at crunch time level. I get that it would be impossible for these guys to play at that level for 82 games a year, but it does dilute the product.
I can watch an entire game and get all the important highlights from a 30 second Instagram video, or in some cases a six second vine. Somehow the game needs to be more important every time the world’s best walk on the court.
Now I don’t like to only point out problems without offering solutions. I think the NBA should change the playoff system. The better team always wins and that can get boring. From the Harris poll above, college basketball is the least popular sport in the U.S., but when March Madness rolls around people go crazy. The win or go home mentality and Cinderella story are fascinating and the NBA could use some of that drama.
Also let’s bring back the value of the big man. I would love to see the NFL adopt the international goal-tending rules. I would love to see Dwight Howard be able to swat away a game winning shot as it bounces around the rim.
I think that the league should also go back to 28 teams. There are easily 24 players that we could remove from the league without the general fan noticing. It is difficult to think of what two franchises would go away, but it would increase the competitiveness.
I still have love for basketball and the NBA is a part of that, but it can be better.
No Surprise here and Barkley beats out undrafted rookie Jake Coker.
David Johnson, Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, and Stepfan Taylor
Again no surprise at the top 3, but great special teams play and trust in pass blocking situations keeps Stepfan on the team. Probably won’t be able to keep Kerwynn on the practice squad after his last two years. I would not be surprised if Ellington is not on the trade block right now. He has not been available for most of his time with the Cardinals and could return good value. If Keim does not like the trade market for him, we will be happy to keep him as a third option as an explosive dual threat.
Larry Fitz, Michael Floyd, John Brown, JJ Nelson, Jaron Brown, and Brittan Golden
The first four guys are locked in. Jaron and Brittan having been here for so long and have a huge advantage to make the roster, especially when you consider they’re big time contributors to special teams. Golden has versatility to play some corner in an emergency which is something Keim and BA love. This may keep one of our late round DBs from the 53 man roster.
Jermain Gresham, Darren Fells, Troy Niklas, and Ifeanyi Momah
Jermain Gresham turned down a much larger contract to stay here in AZ and anchor this group. Troy and Ifeanyi need to stay on the field to round out this position group throughout the season. This group is excellent in run blocking and can create some mismatches down the field. We saw some great production from Fells at times this year too.
Jared Veldheer, DJ Humphries, Mike Iupati, Evan Mathis, AQ Shipley, Evan Boehm, and Earl Watford
The center position is causing some drama this year. Can a rookie take the starting role away from Shipley who was brought into start, but ended up sitting behind Sendline last year after the team resigned him late in camp? Watford can now play four positions on the line with the only exception being left tackle. Meaning that if something were to happen to Veldheer, Humphries would most likely slide over to left and Watford take his spot at right tackle. I think that Rob Crisp has a shot to land on the practice squad again.
Ok, I am now done with the offense and I am looking at the Cardinals’ defense. It is for real. They have guys that are either contributors or are high upside guys that will not make this football team. Unfortunately there are not a ton of names that will draw a ton of trade consideration, but there are guys that will most likely end up on someone’s roster.
Calais Campbell, Rodney Gunter, Robert Nkemdiche, Corey Peters, Frostee Rucker, Red Bryant, and Ed Stinson
This is the deepest group on the team. I have left off the list Josh Mauro and Xavier Williams, both of who the team likes. Xavier is listed as a NT and the lack of versatility could cost him a roster spot this year. Writing out these names makes me very excited. Frostee is another name that could be on the trading block. Again if the value is not there we will be happy to keep his leadership in our locker room even if Peters (returning from Injury) and Nkemdiche (rookie) cut into his playing time.
Chandler Jones, Marcus Golden, Kareem Martin, Alex Okafor, are locked in. Tristan Okapalogu, Shaq Riddick and Zach Waggenman will battle for the last two spots. I think that Waggenman will end up on the practice squad this year, but he did have quite the buzz before getting hurt last year. Okafor could be on the trade block, but I doubt he is not on the roster come game one.
Kevin Minter, Gabe Martin, Alani Fua, Deone Buchanan. Yeah, I am calling Buck an ILB, but this is where he will spend his time until the Cards find a Daryl Washington replacement. Alani Fua is a guy that can also stand up and play some OLB so that helps him make this team.
Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel, Brandon Williams, Cariel Brooks, and the newly signed Mike Jenkins. If the Cards do end up signing Chris Culliver it could be hard for Brooks to make the roster, but he will be a practice squad target again this year. Harlan Miller has an outside shot at beating Brooks, but should also be a practice squad guy.
Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Tyvon Branch, DJ Swearinger, and Marqu Christian will get a spot as a rookie with his versatility to play some slot corner in addition to safety. Chris Clemons would have made this list, but after his Scottsdale bar incident he may be on the outside looking in.
Can we just have Mike Leach back? But this guy is 6’4″ 240 though.
I am not a fan of the way that Rodger Goodell and the NFL has handled Deflate Gate. To me it shows the ineptitude that happens at the NFL offices with almost anything that Goodell touches.
Let’s be clear. Rodger Goodell is not fighting this into the 2016 season to smear Brady and the Patriots at this point. At this point it is 100% for power. The power to be judge, jury and executioner to the league and it’s unionized players. He is using the collective bargaining agreement against the NFLPA in spite of Collective bargaining being the single most powerful tool the union has to make sure there is a balance of power.
Goodell asked the appeals court to overturn the ruling of Richard Burman due to the fact that the bargaining agreement allows him to set punishment, investigate incidents and rule on appeals of his own judgments.
Goodell is trying to use the broadest term of “conduct detrimental” policy to apply his ruling to Brady. To make the case that he can create a rule out of thin air if the player violated the conduct policy.
The appeals court agreed with Goodell that under the collective bargaining agreement he was within his right to impose such a penalty. Here is what they said:
The Commissioner was authorized to impose discipline for, among other things, “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence, in the game of professional football.” In their collective bargaining agreement, the players and the League mutually decided many years ago that the Commissioner should investigate possible rule violations, should impose appropriate sanctions, and may preside at arbitration’s challenging his discipline. Although this tripartite regime may appear somewhat unorthodox, it is the regime bargained for and agreed upon by the parties, which we can only presume they determined was mutually satisfactory.
So, they admit the amount of power that Goodell has is “unorthodox,” but agreed upon.
To be fair, I think that the ruling on its own is the correct ruling, but they are leaving out a very critical piece of the puzzle. The conduct which was most detrimental to the league was the leaking of the information about the investigation on the night of the game.
The decline in “the integrity of, or public confidence, in the game of professional football” was due to the media and public being lead to believe that 11 of the 12 footballs from one team were deflated and that none of the the other teams were deflated at all.
As soon as I hear that, I think, what is the advantage of throwing a deflated football? (I still don’t know if that is an advantage). But, he must have really deflated those footballs if 11 out of 12 footballs were below the limit allowed.
We were lead to think that for weeks. It was not until the Wells report was released, media circus commenced and the public opinion of the situation was made, that we find out what we originally heard was garbage.
The Colts balls all started at 13 psi and the Patriots started at 12.5 psi. Every single one of the balls measured lost air pressure during the first half for both teams. The Patriots started the game at the minimum psi allowed and after being used in cold weather lost air. Of course they are going to be below the allowed amount if they started at the absolute bottom of the range. The Colts started with all of their balls at 13 psi and all of them came back in at 12.15 to 12.95 depending on what gauge you look at from the report. Again with consideration for which gauge you look at, three of the four balls tested were below the 12.5 psi allowed for the Colts. This would have been good info to give to the public as roughly 44 states, not in the far northeastern tip of our country, flipped the heck out.
The fact that this was a scandal at all is 100% on the league. The investigation should have never been leaked. It should have not been reported the way that it was, but when the information is coming directly from the league sources, you can’t blame guys like Bob Kravitz and Peter King. These are trusted sources with info from the horse’s mouth.
Now we sit and wait to see if the supreme court of the United States is going to hear this case before we know the final fate of this case. I don’t care about Tom Brady and deflated footballs, but I think that this is a case of commissioner blowing it and needing to save power for the league office to keep the control they so desperately think they need.
If you think I am biased, I would love to see Jimmy instead of Tommy week one.
Sports are incredible. They can leave you with once in a lifetime memories, good and bad. They elicit some of the best of humanity and some of the worst. Love of teams and characters from all over the world can spark riots and parades.
When a sports legend retires and leaves the game, something similar happens. How you feel about that person changes, for better or worse. Everything they ever did good is exaggerated and bad is forgotten, or in some rare occasions the reverse happens.
I try to remember people and players as they were.
Today Tim Duncan announced his retirement from basketball. 19 years with one team is incredible. It is also in the same year that Kobe retired. Tim’s was much quieter compared to Kobe’s season long farewell tour and final game circus. That is how Tim played too, never overstated, but always impactful.
The league will not be the same.
When I look back at Duncan’s career all I can think of are the once in a lifetime memories that I mentioned earlier. But in Tim’s case, they are almost all bad memories.
With my love hate relationship with the Suns, Duncan has been more than a spoiler. His Spurs team has single-handedly destroyed multiple season of championship hopes in Phoenix.
As an individual player I will remember him more for his disgusted look on his face every single time a foul was called on him. His eyes would literally look like they were ready to pop out of his head, palms upturned asking, “what did I do?”
You hacked the crap out of Steve Nash Tim, that is what you did.
Or the circle arm sweep move he would do with the ball, where his only intention was to draw a foul on the defender.
Or the time he jumped off the bench during an altercation and it was ignored. I will start crying if I talk about that game too much so I will leave it at that.
Let’s be honest though. These are really just bad excuses from a fan of a team that Tim abused. It was probably his 20 points and 10 rebounds a game that had something to with beating my Suns every year.
His perfect chemistry with Coach Popavich and his two other co-stars. I won’t say their names, since they are still in the league and I don’t have to say nice things about them yet.
So while I will remember him as cry baby Duncan, he will go down as a top 5 or 6 player of all time. I am glad I lived in an era that saw both Kobe and Duncan at their best.
I just wish it didn’t have to happen at the same time as the greatest Suns teams to ever play together.
In what was billed as the biggest event in UFC history, there was a lot that happened. I was able to start watching the evening with TJ Dillashaw getting a win after his tough loss to Dominick Cruz. It was a great performance with TJ looking great and proving that he is still in the mix for a title shot soon. TJ was probably the least questioned of any of the fighters on this card coming off of a loss, but still had something to prove.
Kevin Gastelum and Johny Hendricks put on a heck of a show. Johny landed the only take down in the fight in the second round, which is probably the one round that he won on a single judge card. One judge scored it 29-28 in favor of Gastelum and the other two judges had it 30-27 for KG. Kevin was able to put together the best striking performance of his career. Some real fireworks started in the last 30 seconds of the fight as both fighters traded in a heated exchange that was intense to watch knowing Johny’s power, but KG hung in the pocket and looked to come out with the cleaner shots.
The next fight was a good scrap with Cat Zigano and Julianna Pena. The fight started with Cat being able to control the fight on the ground and Pena only able to muster a reversal and 3 significant strikes in the round. But the fight turned and Pena was the one in control for the rest of the fight, out striking Cat 129 to 23. All three Judges scored it 29-28 for Pena.
Cain and Rhonda Rousey’s boyfriend was the first fight of the main card. Cain Velasquez was coming off of a very big loss to Fabrcio Werdum were he was picked apart on his feet. Werdum is considered one of the best jiu jitsu for MMA fighters in the world, it was expected the Cain would would have the advantage standing. When he didn’t we all wondered if he was as good as we all thought. Cain then promptly reminded us all how good he is and scary he can be on any given night. He showed us a new technique that he had not previously shown us from him in the octagon and spinning heel kick. It was the beginning of the end for Travis Browne after that.
Didn't see a spin kick from Cain coming. Neither did Travis Browne. #UFC200
Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar went the distance. Jose Aldo was masterful in this fight. He looked like the best Aldo that I have seen in the octagon and he is ready for the rematch with Conor if it comes. I am glad that he had the chance to erase the last image that we had of him over extending, getting caught and hitting the canvas. Interestingly, Jose only threw two leg kicks in the fight and both seemed to be very effective. If someone would have told me that he won 48-47 on one card and 49-46 on the other two and only threw two leg kicks, I would have called them crazy. But it happened. It was closer than the 49-46 appeared as Aldo was able to steal rounds that were dead even with effective flurries at the end of a couple rounds. I picked Frankie for this fight, but before the fight I tweeted this.
While I am sticking with my pick of Frankie, it would be great to see Aldo get in Connors face after the win. #UFC200
This will be a great rematch, I just hope it happens soon while Jose is locked in and ready to go.
At this point in the night it feels like fights have been going on forever and the main event was coming up. And if not for the fact that it was a 3 round fight, it felt that big. Anderson Silva making it to this fight on two days notice is worthy of some massive respect. I won’t take credit for predicting how this fight would go, because any even casual fan could see this one coming. What I didn’t expect is how fired up this crowed would be to see Silva do well. Every time the fight was standing, there was electricity in the air. When Daniel Cormier was doing what we all knew he would do and laying on top of Silva trying to ground and pound him the crowed was incensed.
Cowboy Cerrone is leading a "Stand! Them! Up!" chant, waving on the crowd.
This was my favorite tweet of the night. Cerrone is one of my favorite fighters and I am so happy that he was his normal self being a fan of fighting and leading the chant. With 35 seconds to go in the fight Silva was standing and threw a liver kick that hurt Cormier and instantly grabbed Silva and pinned him to the cage. For a moment there was a flash of excitement in what was otherwise a one sided fight. I wrote about this still being good for Silva in my post yesterday and it was. He walked out of the cage, on two days notice and lasted 15 mins with the light heavyweight champ of the world. He then had some interesting things to say after the fight that I will cover in my next piece.
Really though. That was not the main event. We still have two more fights to cover.
Brock Lesnar is back. What does that mean, we have no idea. He is going to take it one day at a time is what he said to Rogan after his 29-27 unanimous win over Mark Hunt. He looked like he was in over his head in the second round, but after he secured a take-down in the third, he was dominate. He earned a 10-8 round from all three judges and was back with a victory after four and half years off.
Finally the final fight of the night.
Miesha Tate vs Amanda Nunes was a great fight and a terrific performance by Nunes. She is historically a fast starter that fades at the end of fights, while Miesha starts slow and picks up steam as she goes. I predicted that Tate would be able to withstand the quick start and defend her belt, but Nunes was too much. In what looked like an illegal knee that started the final exchange after replay, it missed. The shots she landed were all legal and very effective. Ending with Miesha giving up her back and getting choked out.
Bigger than the fight in my opinion was the fact that a women’s fight was the main event of the biggest UFC fight ever. At UFC 100 seven years ago, there were not even ladies in the UFC.
@UFC has come a long way. Ladies headline their biggest event ever. Subtle advance for #Equality. #UFC200
Here we are July 9th. The day fight fans have been waiting for. UFC 200 is tonight and the fight pass fights are going on as I type.
One of the most overstocked cards in the history of MMA that has done a good job of selling itself. Until a couple days ago anyways. Jon Jones was caught doping in June and confirmed with a positive B sample test result yesterday. We all wondered who would save the day as it was clear Daniel Cromier was going to fight and get paid.
A friend of mine and I scrolled through lists of 205’ers and even 185’ers that could come up a class. We looked at fighters on the under card that were already in shape and fighters from UFC 201 and 202 trying to predict the future. The future was not obvious to us, or me anyway. A fighter that was recently caught doping himself and only a few months after gallbladder surgery. He has not won a fight since 2012, but being considered one of the best of all time comes with some benefits.
I still consider getting in the ring with DC on one and a half days notice a benefit to Anderson Silva, even though the fight probably will not go in his favor. He remains relevant, the loss is excused on short notice, he saves a card (kinda), and he will get paid. I sound critical of the decision probably because I am a Silva fan and I don’t want to see him get wrecked. But who else would have been ready?
Ryan Bader confirmed on his Twitter account that he would not have been able to make weight and that would not have allowed it to be a title fight. Dana White told the media he would not even ask the current 185 champ Bisbing. Citing “benders” that the Count goes on after fights. Beyond those two, I am not confident in anyone making weight on less than 2 days notice.
This three round fight has the potential to be exciting if Andy can bring back some of his old swag and keep it interesting. But I don’t predict that. I see DC grounding him out in the late first or second round.
I am still looking forward to the rest of the card.
Travis Browne and Cain should be a solid heavyweight match up, that will test Cain’s ability to stand and fight a guy with great take-down defense, or prove how great a wrestler he really is by actually getting this fight to the ground.
Frankie and Jose is the perfect situation for Frankie “the Answer” Edgar. One of Aldo’s greatest strengths is his confidence, that had to have been impacted after his stunning knockout loss to McGregor. Either of these gentlemen in a match-up with Conor is intriguing to me. Although a Aldo win and then immediate challenge to McGregor will make for great entertainment.
A serious don’t blink fight. Brock can take you down and go hulk smash on your face as fast as Mark Hunt can swing that counter right and put you to sleep. I hope the later happens because a ground fight that doesn’t end fast can get really boring with those two guys laying on each other for 3 rounds. I don’t foresee any slick ground transitions or submission attempts out of either fighter on the mat.
Then there is the main event. Nunes and Tate has the makings of an instant classic, with Tate having a solid chance to defend her belt and solidify herself a rematch with her arch nemesis. Tate is a historically slow started and Nunes is quick out of the gate. Let’s see if Nunes will get it done early or if as I predict that Tate will be able to outlast Nunes’ gas tank and survive.
Overall a good night of fights ahead and I look forward to the aftermath and how we sort out the landscape after a few of these title fights and top contenders bouts.
PS how is TJ Dillashaw on the prelim card? He is one of the most dynamic fighters in the world. I need to get to a bar to watch that scrap live for sure.
Who am I and what the hell are you reading? I onlyknow the answer to one of those questions right now, so I will start there.
I am 32. I am a husband of 12 years, father of two, 11 year old daughter and 5 year old son.
I never finished college, but I am employed in middle management at a big brokerage firm.
I work out at a fancy high end gym, but I am still a little over weight. I play in a 30 and over basketball league and my team sucks.
I coached some Basketball when I was younger with a little success and served in the Air Force for 4 years. I joined the military to travel the world and they sent me 300 miles up the road (Phoenix to Vegas).
In high school, I was a letterman in football, basketball and tennis. I received a golden music letter for my four years in choir and I was in the chorus in a couple musicals. I know, I was all over the place. I also met my wife in high school, you can say it, awwhh high school sweethearts.
I failed sophomore English, but I think I am better at writing than math or science.
Remember back at the beginning when I said I was 32. I know that you didn’t think it then, but you will at some point, so I might as well get it out of the way. I am technically a Millennial. Although, I would argue that I am some sort of Oregon Trail playing, Napster using, AIM communicating, Live Journal updating sub generation. I say that because as a millennial, I obviously don’t like labels.
What does all that add up to? I am not sure, maybe I don’t really know how to define myself. So when I said I knew one of the questions at the beginning, maybe I don’t know either.
So let’s tackle the other one. What am I going to write about? I like doing research. I like asking tough questions, but I like to provide solutions to problems too. I am a realist that loves a good conspiracy.
I am an independent that leans left (I probably stand to the left, but again I don’t like labels). So I will probably cover some political topics. (I must really not want people to read this or like me).
I love the Arizona Cardinals and have a love hate relationship with the Phoenix Suns. I will be bias when I write about football, but it’s fair since I told you upfront right?
I love MMA, probably not as much as I did a year or two ago, but I am still dialed in on most goings on. Boxing is ok, but needs to learn to put a card together, not just a headline fight.
Not a huge fan of baseball or hockey, but I know enough to be dangerous with an opinion.
I watch a lot of TV. Too much maybe. But I am sure I will find time to write between seasons of GOT and Daredevil.
I love to travel. I don’t take my kids traveling as much as I would like to, so I won’t be able to give great family guidance. But for the loving couple, I have opinions and stories to tell about our time around North America.
I eat out a lot. If I told you how much money my family spends at restaurants you wouldn’t believe me. So I am sure a handful of critiques will be written.
So what am I going to write about? A little bit of everything. I hope you will come along for the ride, as I tell stories about my life, share opinions about the world, and try to predict the sports future.