Posts Tagged ‘Sports Journey Radio’

Vick Shines in Eagles’ MNF Destruction of Redskins by Lloyd Vance

November 16, 2010 1 comment

Michael Vick, “You Were Ridiculous!” in the Eagles 59-28 Monday Night Football destruction of the Washington Redskins

With the signing of Donovan McNabb earlier in the day to a somewhat unexpected 5-year, $78 million contract extension with $40 million guaranteed that will more than likely allow the veteran quarterback to end his storied career in the Nation’s Capital, everything seemed in place for a shining moment on Monday Night Football. 

But…Hold-up wait a minute as the quarterback that set the NFL’s favorite weekly evening drama into orbit was none other than McNabb’s former understudy’s understudy, Michael Vick.  The mercurial quarterback, who many doubted ever could become a “complete” passer, opened several eyes as he had a magical night in the Philadelphia Eagles 59-28 demolition of the Washington Redskins (4-5) on MNF.

Vick was the catalyst as the Eagles (6-3) busted out to a 35-0 lead early in the second quarter.  In a night where McNabb – passing numbers 17 for 31 for 295 yards with 2 TDs and 3 INTs in the loss — could only applaud his former Syracuse recruit.  Vick gave Eagles’ Nation something to remember for a long time. 

The Birds set team records for total yards in a game (592), points in a half (45) and had the biggest lead after the first quarter for any NFL road team (28-0) since at least 1950.  “We got outcoached. We got outplayed. They did everything right,” Redskins disgruntled DL Albert Haynesworth said after the embarrassing loss.

At the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles first mini-camp after the draft, I noted to a fellow media member the Vick looked to be 100% back and then he impressed me more by sounding like a new mature humbled individual when I talked with him after practice.  I thought, “Wow”, this guy is going to be an asset helping out new starter as a veteran back-up and serving in the Wildcat.  But none of us had any idea that the NFL’s new quarterback guru, Andy Reid, had remolded the fallen star and created MV7 version 2010, a masterpiece.

Redemption road has been a long one for the former NFL superstar turned public enemy number one for his part in a notorious dogfighting situation that cost him over two years away from the game that he so dearly loves.  But this is not your standard, “Michael Vick is Back” story as there is no question regarding whether the former 3-time Pro Bowl player can redeem himself.

No, the real question is “How Can’t Michael Vick be considered the leading candidate for the 2010 NFL Most Valuable Player Award?”  Forget about McNabb and his extension – former Eagles franchise great already has his hands full enough with a Washington team that badly needs some offensive talent – plus former Reid “anointed” starter Kevin Kolb.

Vick is playing at a level that deserves to put him in any conversation with the Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees.  That’s right…I am doing the unthinkable in putting Vick in a quarterback class that some thought he could ever achieve.  Incredibly at age 30, the former Atlanta troubled prodigy has become the player everyone thought he could be when the Falcons made him the NFL’s first overall draft pick way back in 2001. 

His speed to the corner is at an elite running back’s  level, his arm is looking better than any quarterback in the league right now and under the guidance of Reid, Vick has the work ethic and pocket presence that has to be leaving everyone in the NFL scratching their heads… are you reading Greg Knapp.

On his magical night, Vick became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game. Ironically it was Vick’s magical legs — ran eight times for 80 yards and two scores plus moved past Steve Young and into second place in NFL history for yards rushing by a quarterback – that were an afterthought as his arm did all his talking.  The former Virginia Tech star threw an 88-yard laser touchdown pass to a streaking DeSean Jackson on his first play of the game and he never looked back in one of the greatest performances in Monday Night Football history. 

“I’ve had some great games in my day,” Vick said. “But I don’t think I’ve had one quite like this one.”  He accounted for 6 touchdowns while finishing with off the chart passing numbers finished 20 for 28 for 333 yards and four touchdowns – completed first 10 passes of the night.  But more impressive to me is the fact that Vick hasn’t thrown an interception or lost a fumble this season – sorry Brett Favre…you lead the league with 16 INTs. 

The Birds are 4-0 when Vick starts and finishes the game, which has made him an instant star in Philadelphia and galvanized a once fractured fanbase. We will see if the Vick Express can continue all the way through the playoffs, if he too can get a coveted extension, and continue playing at a level the NFL has not scene since Steve Young’s magical 1995 Super Bowl winning year for the Niners.

Eagles’ veteran receiver Jason Avant said of his quarterback’s phenomenal play, “The guy is unreal. How do you defend him when we have everything going? I have not seen anything like that. It was so much fun out there.”

But more importantly, the Eagles and Vick now have move into a NFC East first-place tie with the New York Giants (6-3) setting the stage for next week’s megawatt Sunday Night Football battle at the Linc.



Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


My View from the Washington Redskins Press Box by Lake Lewis

Optimism is all that any Washington Redskins’ fan can ever hope for after a horrid 2009 football campaign. Last season contained former Redskins head coach Jim Zorn — now Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach — routinely questioned by fans and the media for his coaching tactics.  Former starting quarterback Jason Campbell’s leadership was questioned and many debated if he even was a legitimate playoff caliber signal caller.  And lastly, the ‘Skins defense was often criticized for not playing in a free-flowing attacking style. 

Well, the 2010 season has brought eternal hope for all around our Nation’s Capital.  And if last night’s Redskins preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills was any indicator, then the new season should bring a sort of giddiness seldom bestowed on this franchise over the last decade. The Redskins came out and imposed their will on the Buffalo Bills in route to a 42-17 alley-slapping.

In the Redskins’ preseason opening win, the three most important off-season acquisitions, in my opinion, of Head Coach Mike Shanahan, Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Quarterback Donovan McNabb did not disappoint in their burgundy and gold debuts – BTW: I didn’t count General Manager Bruce Allen as he joined the team at the end of the 2009 season. 

After a shaky first series, the Redskins’ offense -– 2009 NFL rankings of 22nd in total offense and 26th in scoring — showed signs of life.  On their second possession, the new look offense led by McNabb orchestrated a twelve play, 70-yard, drive culminating with the former All-Pro passer connecting with first-year player Anthony Armstrong on a four-yard touchdown strike.  The touchdown pass showed that finally the Redskins seem to have the most important position on the field covered. 

McNabb’s improvisation skills were on full display on the touchdown play as he showed foot movement and presence in the pocket.  The former Philadelphia Eagles starter kept the play alive by moving around to find his receiver despite some pressure from the Bills.  Overall, McNabb who took the snap from center 17 times — was scheduled to take only 18 snaps actually — completed five of eight passes for 58 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. The former 6-time Pro Bowl player also turned in a more than respectable 124.0 quarterback rating for the game.

In his postgame presser, McNabb said that he felt good after having played his first game with the Redskins.  The new leader of Washington’s offense said, “It was an exciting time.  When you play your first game, obviously, with a new ball club it takes you back to the first game you played.”  The 12-year veteran added, “Your adrenaline is high and you have to settle down a little bit.  The second time we went out, after our first drive, it led us putting up some points.  Then good things happen.  There are a lot of things we have to work on but I thought offensively we were able to progress today.”

The strong performance of the Redskins did not stop at McNabb’s doorstep.  Back-up quarterback Rex Grossman, a former Super Bowl lead guy in Chicago, may have helped ease any discord about who will replace #5 should he have any kind of setback.  Grossman showed complete command of the Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which he was already familiar with from having been coached by the younger Shanahan last year with the Houston Texans.  For the game, Grossman played two quarters while completing eleven passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns. The former Florida Gators passer also finished with a great quarterback rating too (122.5).

One of the recipients of Grossman’s two touchdown passes was gifted receiver Devin Thomas.  The former Michigan State receiver had recently been under intense scrutiny for his participation in a music video with R&B star Fantasia.  But he rebounded to have a nice game as he pulled-in three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.  Some people, who I talked to during the game, thought that Thomas should be bypassing any outside distractions and just focusing on football. 

However Thomas showed why he was a top-rated receiver prospect on many boards back during the 2008 draft.  Yesterday’s game could be the confidence booster for Shanahan’s offense and the third-year pro that the Redskins have been looking for.  After briefly talking to Thomas after the game, I can safely say there is not a more engaging player who knows exactly what is expected of him in the locker room.  I truly expect a breakout year for the developing receiver and for Thomas to also be the starter opposite veteran Santana Moss come opening day.

On the defensive side of the ball, there were some things from the game that I believe need to be corrected including over-pursuit and poor tackling.  But for the most part, new defensive coordinator Jim Hasslet’s unit showed the attacking style that most Washington fans have longed for since the departure of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.  The other major off-season drama, the Albert Haynesworth situation, also definitely seems to have been put to bed.  The $100-million dollar man started his long climb back up the depth charts and ‘Skins Nation’s hearts by playing a solid game.  Haynesworth entered the game in the second quarter, with the second unit, and although he did not record a sack or a tackle, his presence helped several players.

Redskins Game Notes:

First-year players who made an impact on the game were:

— LB Perry Riley who played well and was credited with a tackle for a loss.

— WR Anthony Armstrong caught his and Donovan McNabb’s first touchdown as Redskins.

— RB Keiland Williams showed that he could possibly breakthrough an already crowded backfield to make the final roster.

— CB Ramzee Robinson made several special teams gems.  And as always this is what separates young players who make NFL rosters.

— WR Brandon Banks showed the 4.2 speed that has caught the eye of many around the NFL.  Banks did not waste any time as he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown.  His effort should help add greater debate about getting the young speedster more opportunities.

— RB Ryan Torain was impressive with 17 rushes for 62 yards.

— Former Pro Bowl TE Chris Cooley looked comfortable working with McNabb as he produced 3 catches for 33 yards.

— CB DeAngelo Hall had a nice interception, which he returned for 33 yards.


Lake Lewis is the head of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network and their daily drive-time radio host.  He also is a credentialed member of the media by the NBA, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens.

2010 NFL Season Key Dates by Lloyd Vance

Sports Journey’s 2010 NFL Season Key Dates, which you know are circled on many people’s football calendar (including Peter King)

Here is a list of key dates that I believe every football fan will need to know going into the 2010 NFL season.  I am sure every NFL talking head including Anthony Munoz, Peter King, Chris Berman, Fran Charles, Solomon Wilcots, and myself will have these dates circled on their calendars.


  • February 4 – The first opportunity for clubs to designate franchise and transition players.
  • February 25 — Deadline for clubs to designate franchise and transition players.
  • February 24 – March 2 — NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, Indiana – The NFL’s annual pro prospect poking and prodding event
  • March 4 – Deadline for submission of qualifying offers by clubs to their restricted free agents (fewer than 6 years of free agency credit) whose contracts have expired and to whom they desire to retain a right of first refusal/compensation
  • March 4 — Deadline for clubs to submit offer of minimum salary to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with fewer than three seasons of free agency credit whose contracts have expired.
  • March 4 – Expiration date of all player contracts due to expire in 2010
  • March 5 — Veteran free agency signing and trading periods begin
  • March 21-24 — NFL Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida
  • April 15 — Signing period ends for restricted free agents.  After this date, unsigned restricted free agents (i.e. Have not signed their “tender”) can only sign with their own team.  Usually this is the day that players sign their “tenders” to secure a good salary for the upcoming season or to work out an extension.
  • April 20 – 2010 NFL Schedule was released on this date (schedule maker Howard Katz)
  • April 21 — Deadline for old club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
  • April 22-24 — NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
  • April 30 – June 25 – Various Rookie Camps and OTAs (voluntary and mandatory) for all NFL teams
  • May 24-26 — NFL Spring Meeting, Dallas, Texas
  • June 1 — Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of season if player is not signed by another club by July 22.
  • June 1 – Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned restricted free agents or to extend qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.
  • June 1 — Usually a big “cut” day in the NFL.  But without a salary cap in 2011, unneeded veterans can be cut at any time this year without ramifications.  So this date doesn’t have the significance as in years past.
  • June 15 — Deadline for old clubs to withdraw original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting the tender with an offer of 110 percent of the unsigned player’s previous year’s salary.
  • June 27 – June 30 — NFL Rookie Symposium, Carlsbad, California. This is the yearly NFL freshman basic skills prep course
  • July 14 — NFL Supplemental Draft – The NFL’s “special” draft for players wishing to enter the NFL for a number of reasons (Academics, Family Obligations, etc) that missed the main NFL Draft in April.  If a team elects to use a supplemental draft pick on one of the eligible prospects, that team will give up its pick in the same round in next April’s draft (2011).
  • July 15 The last day for “Franchised” players to sign a long-term deal with their teams otherwise they will have to play under the terms of their 1-year franchised deals. 
  • July 22 — Signing period ends at 4:00 PM ET for unrestricted free agents who received a tender.  This means that a player unhappy with the contract tendered to him can either sign the deal or holdout. Once the deadline passes, franchise players can sign only one-year deals with their current teams.
  • July 25 — NFL Training Camps “officially” open with the Buffalo Bills reporting to St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY.  The last teams to report on August 3rd will be the Colts, Jaguars, Panthers, and Seahawks.
  • August 7 – Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Enshrinement Ceremonies.  The newest class of enshrinees (RB Emmitt Smith, OT Russ Grimm, WR Jerry Rice, OLB/DE Rickey Jackson, RB Floyd Little, CB Dick LeBeau, and DT John Randle) will be formally inducted into the PHOF in a ceremony held at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
  • August 8 – Pro Football Hall of Fame Game featuring the Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals – NBC, 8pm ET.  The NFL’s 2010 season kicks off with the preseason opener featuring at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
  • August 12-16 — First preseason weekend with featured match-ups: Thursday, August 12 – Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens – ESPN, 8pm ET; Monday, August 16 – New York Giants at New York Jets – ESPN, 8pm ET
  • August 19-23 – Second preseason weekend with featured match-ups: Thursday, August 19 – New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons – FOX, 8pm ET; Friday, August 20 – Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals – FOX, 8pm ET; Sunday, August 22 – Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers – NBC, 8pm ET; Monday, August 23 – Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans – ESPN, 8pm ET
  • Aug. 20-23 – After a 1-year hiatus the arena football league is back and the 2010 AFL season will culminate with the playing of the 2010 ArenaBowl Championship game (NFL Network) 
  •  August 26-30 – Third preseason weekend with featured match-ups: Thursday, August 26 – Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers – ESPN, 8pm ET; Friday, August 27 – San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints – CBS, 8pm ET; Saturday, August 28 – Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans – CBS, 8pm ET; Sunday, August 29 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos – FOX, 8pm ET
  • August 31 — Roster cutdown to maximum of 75 players. 
  • September 2 – The NFL preseason ends as every team playing their fourth preseason game on Thursday night with featured match-ups: NY Jets at Philadelphia Eagles – ETN, 7:30 PM ET; New England Patriots at NY Giants – 7 PM EST; and San Diego Chargers at SF 49ers – 10 PM EST
  • September 4 — Roster cutdown to maximum of 53 players.
  • September 6 — NFL teams can sign up to 8 players to their practice squad.
  • September 9-13 — 2010 Kickoff Weekend. For the seventh consecutive season the Super Bowl champion will open the slate with the champion New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 9 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.  The Sunday night (9/12) primetime game will feature a division match-up as the Dallas Cowboys host the Washington Redskins (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET). On Monday, Sept. 13, ESPN will host a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader with the first game being Baltimore Ravens at NY Jets (7:00 p.m. ET) and MNF nightcap San Diego Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs (10:15 p.m. ET)
  • September 19 – The Manning Bowl as Eli Manning leads the NY Giants into Lucas Oil Stadium for a showdown against his older brother Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts (8:30 PM ET on NBC)
  • October 3 – QB Donovan McNabb leads the Washington Redskins into Lincoln Financial Field  to take on his old team, the Philadelphia Eagles (4:15 pm. ET – FOX)
  • October 12-13 — NFL Fall Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • October 17 – A 2009 NFL Playoff revenge game as the Dallas Cowboys visit the Minnesota Vikings (4:15 PM ET on FOX)
  • October 20 — NFL Trade Deadline – This is the last chance for teams to grab players from other teams via a trade, but don’t hold your breath.
  • October 31 – Regular season NFL football returns to London, England for the 4th year in a row as the host the at Wembley Stadium in London as the San Francisco 49ers “host” the Denver Broncos at 1 PM EST (5:00 p.m. UK). The game will be broadcast on CBS in the United States and on Sky Sports and BBC in the United Kingdom
  • November 7 – The NFL returns to Toronto, Canada with the Buffalo Bills hosting the Chicago Bears at 1:00 PM on FOX
  • November 15 – Players on NFL teams’ Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list must be activated by Week 10.  If they are not moved off the list, they must be removed from the team’s active roster by being released or placed on injured reserve.
  • November 21 – The annual meeting between the NFL’s most decorated quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady) as the Indianapolis Colts visit the New England Patriots (4:15 PM EST – CBS)
  • November 25 – NFL Thanksgiving Day Games:  New England Patriots at the Detroit Lions (CBS, 12:30 p.m. ET), New Orleans Saints at the Dallas Cowboys (Fox, 4:15 PM ET); Cincinnati Bengals at the NY Jets (NFL Network, 8:20 p.m. ET)
  • November 26/27 – The second season of the United Football League (UFL) will conclude with the playing of the league’s championship game (Versus).  After the UFL’s champion is crowned, the league’s free agents are free to sign with NFL teams for their late season push.
  • November  28 — The Canadian Football League (CFL) season will commence with the playing of the 98th Grey Cup game in Commonwealth Stadium – Edmonton, Alberta (TSN)
  • December 9 – Big AFC South showdown on NFL Network Thursday Night Football as the Indianapolis Colts travel to Tennessee to face Vince Young and the Titans (NFL Network, 8:20 p.m. ET)
  • December 25 – A Christmas Day special game as the Dallas Cowboys travel to the desert to face the Arizona Cardinals (NFL Network, 7:20 p.m. ET)


  • January 2 – The 2010 NFL Regular Season ends with the league scheduling 16 divisional games (all on Sunday) in hopes that teams will shy away from “resting” players.  One of the bigger games should be ARI @ SF  Candlestick Park FOX, 4:15 PM
  • January 8-9 — Wild Card Weekend (NBC, CBS, and FOX)
  • January 15 -16 — Divisional Playoffs (CBS and FOX)
  • January 23 — AFC and NFC Championship Games (CBS and FOX)
  • January 29 – College Football’s Top Senior football players culminate a week of training by playing in the 2011 Senior Bowl at 3PM on NFL Network (Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL)
  • January 30  — NFL Pro Bowl with AFC All-Stars vs. NFC All-Stars in Honolulu, Hawaii (FOX)
  • February 6  — Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas  (FOX)


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

With the “Answer” there are more questions By Reggie Williams

March 10, 2010 3 comments

Published reports are circulating that Allen Iverson is suffering from an alcohol and gambling addiction. This disturbing information arrives on the heels of a report that Tawanna Iverson, Allen’s wife of 8 ½ years, filed for divorce citing the marriage was “irretrievably broken.” On the day that Mrs. Iverson decided to call it quits with her high school sweetheart, Mr. Iverson’s working relationship with the Philadelphia 76ers was terminated; that marriage may also be irretrievably broken.

With A.I., who has affectionately been known throughout his career as “The Answer,” there appears to be nothing but questions.

During this 2009 off-season the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up Shaquille O’Neal, the Los Angeles Lakers scooped up Ron Artest, the Boston Celtics grabbed Rasheed Wallace and the Orlando Magic snatched Vince Carter for a run at the 2010 NBA championship, but the only teams remotely interested in the talents of A.I. were the Memphis Grizzlies and that other Los Angeles team – the Clippers. The question that bears asking is: what was wrong with A.I. that teams, potentially one player away from competing for a championship, wouldn’t covet a sure 1st Ballot Hall of Famer with some game left in his tank?

The question that bears asking is: did Mrs. Iverson asked for a divorce because Mr. Iverson indeed is dependent on gambling and alcohol and the destructive behavior that accompanies such addictions has made their marriage “irretrievably broken?”

The question that bears asking is: why might A.I. have a drinking and gambling addiction; is it because his once brilliant career is heading south in a runaway Toyota Prius?

The question that bears asking is: has A.I. penchant to “keep it real,” – cornrows, tats and cronies who may have never understood that A.I. was a brand name with whose potential was limitless, really kept him in a dark place where now he seems to be stuck?

The question that bears asking is: those cronies that A.I. “kept it real” with, will they “keep it real” and support the dude who supported them or will A.I. become contagious to them like his hometown boy Michael Vick became infectious to his “keep it real” boys?

The question that bears asking is: can one of the hardest, toughest players – arguably the hardest and toughest player when you consider his stands just 6 feet and weighs a buck-sixty, end his career has a quitter. He quick on the Grizzlies after just 12 games; quick on the Detroit Pistons the year prior and while Messiah, his 4-year-old daughter, has been ill and I do believe family is far-far, way far more important than basketball – it’s fair to ask did he quick on the 76ers using his daughter’s illness for cover?

The question that bears asking is: what does the next chapter of the Iverson’s novel read when one considers that A.I. is on the verge of a divorce; his wife will probably seek a handsome alimony – does he have it? Will the next chapter reveal that he has failed to endow any assets into a subsequent career after pouring his heart and soul into a 13-year career? Will the next chapter become even more compelling when A.I. has to compete against a divorce and a declining career all while the troubled star allegedly battles the gripping addictions of gambling and alcohol.

The question bears asking: will A.I. fight the way he did when he would challenge a 7-footer in the paint, or will he become a fade away memory?

For 10 years (1996-2006) whenever Iverson stepped on the court he provided the answer. During the course of his first 10 seasons in Philly Iverson scored 28.9 ppg, dished out 5.5 assists and made victims of opponents with 2.3 steals per game. He led the League in scoring four times (one of only four players in League history to capture at least four scoring titles); named League’s MVP in 2000-01; a 10-time All-Star and two-time All-Star game MVP. Iverson was named to seven All-NBA Teams and if we “keep it real,” he’s public perception wasn’t as rebellious as the reputation that preceded it. Unfortunately now, there’s nothing but questions swirling around the Answer.

Reggie Williams, an award-winning editor and journalist, is reachable at

2010 NFL Draft order is set by Lloyd Vance

The draft order for the 2010 NFL Draft is all set and right now Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh seems the logical choice for the first overall pick

Today at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis all coin flips to break ties for draft position were completed.  So now the draft order for the 2010 NFL Draft is set….of course that is until all of the wheeling and dealing starts before April 22nd.

Currently the St. Louis Rams (1-15) own the first overall pick for the 2010 NFL Draft and I am fairly certain their prize will be dominating Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.  However as is the norm this time of year, there are many rumors circulating that the Rams could trade the first overall pick and move down in the draft to select a quarterback like Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford or Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen.  But if the Rams have done their homework, this one is a no-brainer.

Suh had one of the best years of any college defensive tackle in NCAA history as he produced 85 tackles, a NCAA leading 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. The decorated award-winner (Lombardi, Bednarik, Willis, and first team All American) also had 10 passes defensed, 28 QB hurries, 1 INT and three blocked kicks.  The cat-quick and strong defensive lineman possibly played his best game in Nebraska’s near upset of the Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, finishing with 4.5 sacks.

Other Top 10 prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft include: Tennessee safety Eric Berry, Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy, Florida CB Joe Haden, Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung, Bradford, and Clausen.

2010 NFL Draft Order as of February 26

1) St. Louis Rams (1-15)

2) Detroit Lions (2-14)

3) Tampa Bay Bucs (3-13)

4) Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

5) Washington Redskins (4-12)

6) Seattle Seahawks (5-11)

7)  Cleveland Browns (5-11)

8 ) Oakland Raiders (5-11)

9) Buffalo Bills (6-10)

10) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9)

11) Denver Broncos (from Chicago -their record was 7-9)

12) Miami Dolphins (7-9)

13) San Francisco 49ers (8-8)

14) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver – their record was 8-8)

15) New York Giants (8-8)

16) Tennessee Titans (8-8)

17) San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina – their record was 8-8)

18 ) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)

19) Atlanta Falcons (9-7)

20) Houston Texans (9-7)

21) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

22) New England Patriots (10-6)

23) Green Bay Packers (11-5)

24) Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

25) Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

26) Arizona Cardinals (10-6)

27) Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

28) San Diego Chargers (13-3)

29) New York Jets (9-7)

30) Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

31) Indianapolis Colts (14-2)

32) New Orleans Saints (13-3)

  • Teams currently without a first round selection:  Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears
  • Teams currently having two first round picks: Seattle Seahawks (6, 14) and San Francisco 49ers (13, 17)

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Everything you need to know for the 2010 NFL Combine by Lloyd Vance

Prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft will have to endure the NFL’s version of a job fair including interviews, drills, and other tests at this year’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis

The NFL’s biggest “workout session” called the NFL Combine takes center stage at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from Wednesday February 24th to Tuesday March 2nd as potential draftees dreams can be made in 4.29 seconds (a very good forty-time in case you didn’t know).  It is hard to believe that the zany idea of former Dallas Cowboys draft guru Gil Brandt from over 30 years ago to gather all of the draft’s prospects in one place so every team could get an “equal” look together has come so far that it is now a major part of the yearly sports calendar.

You can thank former University of Kansas option quarterback Nolan Cromwell for the madness as he was traveling from team to team in 1977 with the same information, giving the forward thinking Brandt the idea for the combine. How “huge” is this one-time anomaly event, well the NFL Network will broadcast over 26 live hours of coverage plus the NFL Combine even has its own website. There will also be a Super Bowl like “Radio Row” atmosphere at the Indianapolis Convention Center so media can provide fans with instant results.  No more “urban legend” results like Deion “Prime Time” Sanders running a “slow”, as he pontificated about it, 4.19 forty-yard dash in secrecy at the 1989 event.

The NFL Combine is part of the annual arduous four-month long “NFL job interview” process for college players to get to their dream destination of being drafted.  The job interview process has four distinctive parts – College Bowl Games, All-Star Games especially the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, and Pro Days (private workouts) — that are all extremely important for building a powerful resume for potential players and a successful draft board for NFL personnel departments.

The NFL Combine is such a big deal that approximately 600 NFL Draft evaluators including head coaches, general managers and scouts plus their “favorite” tag-a-longs, the media – almost 400 credentialed members of the media – will pack into the Lucas Oil Stadium to watch 327 college players do whatever is asked of them in shorts and tee shirts.   These poor kids will be stamped with their cattle number like “QB03″ and then they will be poked and prodded every which way to Sunday as they will be interviewed, examined, x-rayed, measured, run all over, made to jump, twisted, bent, interrogated on their past… you name it, all to enhance their spot in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft in April.

With this year’s success of rookie difference-makers like Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing, Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin, Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, Washington Redskins pass rusher Brian Orakpo and others, the importance of building a competitive team through the draft is ever present throughout the NFL. Teams now have very high expectations for players selected in the first two rounds of the draft and want to get earlier returns on their large investments (i.e. No more redshirting in the NFL).  However the hoopla over the NFL Combine to me is borderline insanity as most scouts I talk to put more credence in regular season game tape, All-Star game performances, talking with college staffs, bowl games, and almost anything else over seeing guys tested at the combine in t-shirts and shorts.

The biggest word of caution to fans and teams is to guard against the “love” factor at the NFL Combine as every year some team gets an “I gotta have him” attitude usually leading to draft day moves based solely on a player’s work at the NFL Combine (see Eagles 1995 first round draft pick and 7th overall pick DE Mike Mamula – moved up the board from a 2nd or 3rd round pick to a top ten pick mostly based on his high marks at the combine).    Agents representing these prized NFL recruits definitely know what is at stake at the NFL Combine as in recent years they are pulling their player clients off of college campuses to prep at pre-combine workout facilities.

The reason for the intense preparation for the NFL Combine is plain and simple…MONEY in the form of rookie contracts — 2009 NFL Draft first overall selection Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford signed a rookie contract with the terms 6-years, $72 million of which $41.7 million was guaranteed.  This is high stakes poker at its best, so at pre-combine training camps in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Southern California, players are learning everything from interviewing skills, how to take the Wonderlic Test, explosive running techniques and pumping iron.

All that being said, statistics do show players need to at least attend the NFL Combine, especially early entrants in the draft since they don’t have the advantage of going to College All-Star games — in the 2006 Draft of the 330 players invited to the NFL Combine, 222 were drafted.  The NFL Combine is also a setting where the entire NFL’s traveling show (Head Coaches, Scouts, GM’s, media, etc) comes together in Indy allowing for “shop talk”.  As the scene is a continuation of the NFL’s convention like atmosphere that was started at the Senior Bowl and Super Bowl.   In the stands  are sure to hear veteran NFL personnel evaluators, like Miami Dolphins football czar Bill Parcels, talking about the impending Free Agency period (March 5th), franchised players (deadline of February 28th), the soon to be expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement (March 2011), an uncapped year in 2010, possible trades of disgruntled players or draft picks, and much more.

The Players

There will be over 300 players throughout the four-day event with every position represented from Quarterback to Defensive End to Long Snapper.  Not all invitees will participate in all events and some may pick and choose or wait for their Pro Day to show their stuff — Thanks Agents!!  Unfortunately two of the bigger names in the 2010 NFL Draft, quarterbacks Tim Tebow (Florida) and Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) have chosen to only come to Indy to participate in interviews, the Wonderlic, and measurements, but not the on the field drills.

But some players who I will be interested in seeing their efforts are Central Michigan quarter back Dan LeFevour – QB11 (Needs to show better arm strength than at the Senior Bowl), USC RB Joe McKnight – RB18 (Will he workout, is he the top player in the 2010 running back class, and how is his character), Florida LB Brandon Spikes – LB30 (How is his character (off the field past), is he ready for the NFL) and Florida State safety Myron Rolle – DB42 (How much rust does the aspiring doctor have after being in Oxford, England for a year on a Rhodes Scholarship) . Also it will great to see who is faster in the forty Clemson RB CJ Spiller (RB24), LSU returnman Trindon Holliday (ST02), Clemson WR Jacoby Ford (WO10) or some other speedster.

Find the complete list of the players invited to the 2010 NFL Combine.

NFL Combine Events

On the Field Drills

“The Forty” – This is the glamour event of the combine, as guys want to show the world how fast they are.  The player starts from a three-point stance and runs 40 yards as fast as possible. The player is timed in 10, 20 and 40-yard increments, to gauge the player’s explosion and speed.  Now track speed is good, but “football speed” – ability to run fast while cutting or changing direction and catching the ball – is more important.  Too often guys go to speed camps and “manufacture speed” (see 2007 Draftee Washington State WR Jason Hill) causing scouts to take a harder look at their game film.

225-Pound Bench Press – This is the second most talked about event of the combine.  As everyone around Indy will be saying the same line as when I was in high school, “What can you bench??”  At the combine everyone except quarterbacks and wide receivers are required to show how many reps they can do at 225-pounds.  Of course this event is led by famous loud mouth Arizona Cardinals Strength and Conditioning Coach John Lott – “Come on Meat, HUP, HUP!!”  Remember that players with longer arms have a tougher time pumping out reps and shorter squat guys usually can do some damage in this event.  To show you the importance/non-importance of this event, the record holder former Ohio State DE/OLB Mike Kudla (45 reps in 2006) wasn’t even drafted.

Standing Vertical Jump – This event shows the explosiveness of players from a still position.  With the NFL passing game based a lot of times on jump balls, this event is of ought most importance to receivers and defensive backs.  From a flat-footed position the player jumps up and smacks at plastic flags on a pole.  When you watch this event think of explosive Niners’ Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, who had a position record of 42 inches at the 2006 combine.

Broad Jump – Another explosion drill.  From a standing position a player’s lower body strength is tested as they squat and jump forward as far as possible.  This event is usually led by the running backs and defensive backs. Jumps are measured from the starting point to the player’s back heel.

Three Cone Drill – This event is a test of a player’s speed, agility and cutting ability. Three cones are set up in an “L “shape (triangular format) with 5 yards between each of them. From a three-point stance at the first cone, on a coaches whistle the player has to sprint five yards ahead to the first cone then touch a white line – then sprint back to the starting cone touching a white line there – then running to the outside of the second cone – then cutting right to circle around the third cone – then finishing by running around the second cone and returning to the first cone.  This sounds exhausting just thinking about running this drill.

20-Yard Shuttle – This is an old fashioned test for most of us as you probably did this one in the Presidential Physical Fitness challenge…remember how much fun that was in fifth grade.  This drill tests speed, agility, and coordination. From a three point stance on a whistle a player runs 5 yards to one side touches the yard line – then runs ten yards in the other direction touches the line there and runs back to the original line.

60-Yard Shuttle – Same as the twenty-yard shuttle, but longer.   This time the player has to go 10 yards to a line then 5 yards back then 10 yards the other way then 20 yards back and finishes this time 10 yards to the starting point. This is an endurance monster, sorry Big Boys on the O-Line.

Position Drills – This is my favorite event at the combine, because NFL position coaches know what specific practice drills that the players that they coach will need to be good at, to succeed at the next level.  A couple position coaches from different NFL teams design ball motion drills usually around blocking dummies.  I love watching the D-Lineman practicing their rip moves and running full force at a blocking dummy.  Also watch for receivers running routes, quarterbacks being asked to throw the infamous out-pattern to the far sideline, and college defensive ends trying to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL trying to catch the ball – at the 2007 event a former NFL coach working for the NFL Network called several non-catchers “volleyball” players as passes bounced off their hands.

Off the Field Events

Measurements – Hey players do you want to feel like a piece of cattle.  As soon as players arrive in Indy they are given a cattle number (ex. QB03) and every player in attendance is measured head to foot with their height, weight, arm length, and hand size recorded.  And you thought that All-American offensive lineman was really 6′7 and 325 from his college game day program thought wrong, as he was only 6′4 ½ and weighed in at a sloppy 344.  Also the combine has a new piece of equip called the “Bod Pod” where players get in a space ship type machine and it measure s their body fat percentage.

NFL Team Interviews – Like any young person going from college to a job, players need to ace their interviews.  Teams know exactly what they want to ask when going after a player’s past in order to try and predict their future.  In the early years of the NFL Combine, the interview process used to be a mad scramble where teams would hoard players that they liked.  But now teams get about fifteen minutes to get to know a player with a limit of 60 players for each team. This usually occurs at the convention center or player hotel with every team looking to see what makes each player tick.  Remember “character” is the number one item on most teams list along with toughness, interests on and off the field, and intelligence (the Giants and Patriots are notorious for measuring a player’s understanding of the “game of football”).  At the 2009 NFL Combine, former Florida receiver Percy Harvin impressed the Minnesota Vikings by firmly answering some tough questions about his past.  The Vikings by doing their homework on Harvin at the Combine, went on to draft him with the 22nd pick of the first round and the former Gator went on to be named the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

NFLPA Meeting – This is a pre-cursor meeting to the NFL Rookie Symposium later in the summer.  The meeting serves as a welcome to the business of football for the crop of potential rookies and their agents.  The future of the NFL will learn all about their union including team reps, dues, health coverage, the collective bargaining agreement, and much more.  With potential labor strife hovering over the NFL in 2010, this year’s Combine invitees better be listening extra specially in these meetings.

The Wonderlic Test – The NFL is now calling this portion of the NFL Combine, psychological testing.  But I am not sure if there are any other brain tests other than the dreaded Wonderlic test.  The test is designed to measure a player’s I.Q. through a 50-question test administered in 23 minutes.  Most players are tired/uninterested when taking the test, which leads to a majority of guys not completing the test.  Some agents have started to have their clients cram for the test like the SAT coming out of high school, but at least you can take that test multiple times.  This is a one shot deal that many people put way too much emphasis on.  I can still hear all of the preposterous Vince Young test score reporting from 2006 — did you know that Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw both scored a 15 while forgettable former Rams quarterback Hugh Millen scored a 41.  Here is a sample question: “Paper clips sell for 23 cents per box. What will 4 boxes cost” — take all the time you need, because the only intelligence score that scouts should worried about is a player’s Football Intelligence (FBI).

Injury Evaluations – Every player at the NFL Combine has to walk around with their x-rays and injury history.  Teams and their doctors will poke and check any little thing that doesn’t sound or look right.  This part of the combine has to be difficult, because players may even be scrutinized about a small injury from high school.  Back at the 2007 NFL Combine, former Louisville and current Raiders running back Michael Bush – severely broken leg his Senior season — had to put on a happy face even though he was subjected to answering question after question about the condition of his surgically repaired leg.

The Cybex Machine Test – This machine will work the heck out of a player’s knee, as they are strapped to basically a spring-loaded madman creation. The Cybex machine tests a player’s knee movement and flexibility. While this test seems like any other medical test, it can be the difference in being a Day 1 or 2 pick.

Drug Test – Everybody wants to make sure players are clean coming into the NFL.  So like any other new job a drug test is administered looking for illegal drugs including marijuana (allegedly Warren Sapp tested positive for weed at the 1995 combine), cocaine, and performance-enhancing drugs (Luis Castillo of the Chargers test positive for ‘roids at the 2005 combine, but still went in the first round).

2010 NFL Combine Group Schedules

Wednesday February 24 to Saturday February 27

Group 1 (Kickers, Punters, Long Snappers and O-line), Group 2 (O-line), and Group 3 (Tight Ends)

  • Wednesday February 24, 2010 — Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
  • Thursday February 25, 2010 — Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Psychological Testing ~ Interviews
  • Friday February 26, 2010 — NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ *PK/ST Workout* ~ Interviews
  • Saturday February 27, 2010 — Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

Thursday Feb 25 to Sunday February 28

Group 4 (Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers), Group 5 (Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers), and Group 6 (Running Backs)

  • Thursday February 25, 2010 — Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
  • Friday February 26, 2010 — Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Psychological Testing ~ Interviews
  • Saturday February 27, 2010 — NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ Interviews
  • Sunday February 28, 2010 — Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

Friday February 26 to Monday March 1

Group 7 (Defensive Linemen), Group 8 (Defensive Linemen), and Group 9 (Linebackers)

  • Friday February 26, 2010 — Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
  • Saturday February 27, 2010 — Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Psychological Testing ~ Interviews
  • Sunday February 28, 2010 — NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ Interviews
  • Monday March 1, 2010 — Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

Saturday February 27 to Tuesday March 2

Group 10 and Group 11 (Defensive Backs)

  • Saturday February 27, 2010 — Travel to Indianapolis* ~ Registration ~ Hospital Pre-Exam & X-rays ~ Orientation ~ Interviews
  • Sunday February 28, 2010 — Measurements ~ Medical Examinations ~ Media ~ Psychological Testing ~ Interviews
  • Monday March 1, 2010 — NFLPA Meeting ~ Psychological Testing ~ Interviews
  • Tuesday March 2, 2010 — Workout (timing, stations, skill drills) ~ Departure from Indianapolis

Top NFL Combine Event Records

Fastest NFL Combine 40-Yard Times

4.19 – Deion Sanders (DB), Florida State – 1989 (Hand Timed)

4.24 – Chris Johnson (RB), East Carolina – 2008

4.24 – Rondel Melendez (WR), Eastern Kentucky – 1999

4.28 – Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton – 2005 (electronic)

4.29 – Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska – 2005

4.30 – Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State – 2005

4.30 – Yamon Figurs, (WR), Kansas State – 2007

4.30 – Darius Heyward-Bey (WR), Maryland – 2009

Most 225-Pound Bench Press Reps

45 – Leif Larsen, (DT), Texas-El Paso – 2000

45 – Mike Kudla, (DE), Ohio State – 2006

44 – Brodrick Bunkley, (DT), Florida State – 2006

43 – Scott Young, (OG), BYU – 2005

42 – Isaac Sopoaga, (DT), Hawaii – 2004

Best Vertical Jump

46 – Gerald Sensabaugh, (FS), North Carolina – 2005

45 1/2 – Derek Wake, (OLB), Penn State – 2005

45 – Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State – 2005

45 – Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin – 2001

43 1/2 – Dustin Fox, (FS), Ohio State – 2005

43 1/2 – Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa – 2001

Fastest 10-Yard Times

1.43 – Aundrae Allison, (WR), East Carolina – 2007

1.43 – Eric Weddle, (SS), Utah – 2007

1.43 – Marcus McCauley, (CB), Fresno State – 2007

1.45 – Leon Hall, (CB), Michigan – 2007

1.46 – Colin Branch, (FS), Stanford – 2003

Fastest 20-Yard Shuttle Times

3.73 – Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa – 2001

3.76 – Deion Branch, (WR), Louisville – 2002

3.78 – Dunta Robinson, (CB), South Carolina – 2004

3.82 – Dante’ Hall, (RB), Texas A&M – 2000

3.83 – Kevin Bentley, (OLB), Northwestern – 2002

Fastest Three Cone Drill Times

6.45 – Sedrick Curry, (CB), Texas A&M – 2000

6.48 – Rogers Beckett, (FS), Marshall – 2000

6.49 – Carlos Rogers, (CB), Auburn – 2005

6.50 – Leon Hall, (CB), Michigan – 2007

6.51 – Jon McGraw, (SS), Kansas State – 2002

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

King Kobe! by Lake Lewis

February 25, 2010 1 comment

Earlier in the year after watching Kobe Bryant drop 42 points on the Chicago Bulls in the “place that Mike built”, I could not help but think that he was a victim of the guy who won those 6 championships in Chi-Town.  Having watched his late game heroics against Memphis in his first game back after being out of action for a few weeks, Kobe Bryant in any era of basketball could be mentioned as perhaps the greatest of all time.  But we now must say “could have” and that’s because any player who plays after Michael Jordan will never get their just due.  Just like we date things in history from BC to AD, we now need to start looking at basketball history the same way.  There is the before Jordan era (BJ) and the after Jordan era (AJ).  Depending on when you played will determine how fans can place you historically.  I have said on numerous occasions as great a player Kobe Bryant is I can not put him in my top five as of yet.  When I actually said that on my radio show was during last years NBA Finals that Kobe and the Lakers won in convincing fashion over Orlando.  At the time I had Kobe ranked seven on my all time NBA player list.  That’s right I had him trailing Jordan, Magic, Bird, Chamberlain, Russell, and Kareem.  No one can argue that these guys at best can be mentioned with Kobe.

What keeps these players at the top of most NBA fan lists is that these guys played (BJ).  Kobe is the lone victim who is playing (AJ).  Sure LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony are great young players now, but they are not benefiting from playing in the Jordan era.  Kobe is the last link to this greatness.  He actually played against Jordan and had the torch passed to him directly.  This helps his cause along with his great game to be mentioned along side the greats.  All of the players that are on my list had one two special things in common.  Dominance on the floor, and championships.  At no time is Kobe the second best player on the floor.  Never!  He is at worst the second best player on a particular night if things are not going well.

Here lie the problems with me putting him ahead of these great players at this point in his career.

  1. He has benefited from a water downed league where he does not have a legitimate rival to his greatness.  Until James and Wade came along there was no other player who had the burden Kobe has to carry Jordan’s torch.  This may not seem fair to Kobe but that is the way it is.
  2. There has been only one “dynasty team” opposing Kobe’s Lakers during his entire career.  That team is the San Antonio Spurs.  All of the great players mentioned above had two and sometimes three “dynasty teams” that they had to conquer in order to win their championships.  Magic and Kareem’s Lakers teams had to go through Boston and Detroit.  Bird’s Celtics had to go through the Lakers, Detroit, and finally MJ’s Bulls.  Michael Jordan’s Bulls had to go through Boston, Detroit, L.A., and to a lesser extent Utah who had a great team.  Chamberlain and Russell had to go through each other and the Lakers when Wilt was playing in Philadelphia.
  3. Until last year when LeBron won the MVP there had not been a player or non-center to rival Kobe’s greatness.  Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal are the only players that could be mentioned with Kobe but the world would have liked a real rival from the non-center position.

Should Kobe win another championship which is highly probable I would have to put him in the top three trailing only Jordan and Russell?  His career averages of 25.2 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assist put him in this select category.  More importantly he will have 5 NBA Rings to back that.  That is where only the true greats can be mentioned because they dominated and won championships.   Take nothing away from Kobe because he did not choose which era he was going to play in.  He has been a true student of the game and has never shied away from greatness.  When he plays the best players in the game you can see him take it upon himself to show those players that he is the “man”.  This is what all of the games greats have done over time.  They would rise to the occasion to show that they could not be equaled.  At least in the (AJ) era Kobe is establishing the (KB) era.  That’s not such a bad deal is it?

Lake Lewis is the President and CEO of the Sports Journey Broadcast Network.  He was a host on ESPN Radio 1060 Orlando, ESPN Radio 1080 Melbourne and the Drive Time host ESPN Radio 1240 Maryland and WMET 1160 in Washington DC