The official former President Of The United States of the Houston Texans: still balling.
To say that sports and patriotism in America have long been intertwined is a pretty unremarkable statement. Did you know they even have Stealth Bombers doing fly-by's at Indy Car races? Sequestration may soon be putting an end to that, but it won't touch awkward renditions of "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch, force the San Diego Padres to wear easily visible jerseys on Sundays, or convince Obama to pick some more underdogs in his annual bracket. Nor will it dissuade George W. Bush from getting in there at Rangers games.
George Bush Picking his Nose (via drtiririca)
And it certainly won't prevent his father, the official former POTUS, from running his old man game on the pretty young cheerleaders who grace the sidelines of Reliant.
As if being ambassador to China, head of the CIA, Vice President, President, and senior citizen skydiver didn't make George H.W. Bush "The Man" already, he is also a huge Texans fan and absolutely loves football, which allows him to keep active similar to the old days on the campaign trail against guys like Michael Dukakis. Okay, so maybe his hand does go a little low from time to time, but it's all good. My grandfather was the same in his old age. Totally harmless. You just let George know, and he'll bring it right back up. With the service he has rendered this nation, the guy has earned the right.
Around the NFL
Will the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints please clear this up?
Falling right in line with this discussion of patriotism and sports in America is the budding birther controversy surrounding Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, the defensive end out of BYU projected by many to go in the first round of next week's draft. "Birther" is not really the right term, because there is no argument about where--Ghana for the record--Ansah was born. They're just arguing about his age, which is going to have an impact on his draft stock.
According to ESPN, several NFL scouts have expressed concerns that the 6'5", 271-pounder appears older than he claims to be. While I don't know many people of that size who appear their age, the reservations were strong enough to induce a handful of NFL teams interested in selecting the West African Mormon - by my calculations the Jackie Robinson of West African Mormons in American pro sports - to request copies of his Ghanaian passport. They want to ensure that he was in fact born on May 29, 1989.
Yes, you did the math correctly. Teams want to make sure a potential first round pick will only be 24 years old come training camp. The anti-Amobi Okoye's alleged birthday is only two months after J.J. Watt's, to put this in perspective.
Lots of cheese being spread around in Green Bay
Clay Matthews locked up a long term deal with the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday. The team declined to release specific terms, but multiple sources are reporting that the five-year extension is worth $66 million. Matthews still has one year left on his previous contract, meaning the Packers now own his rights through the 2018 season, when he will be 31. Matthews is set to make more per year than any other linebacker in the NFL.
Clay Matthews' five-year extension, gets him just over $13 million per year in new $$, getting him just past DeMarcus Ware as top paid LB.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 17, 2013
Packers fans have a reason to rejoice over this news, and also have a reason to clench their sphincters, as they know what's coming down the pipe: extension talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It's hard to see him getting anything less than $25 million a year, meaning Green Bay is going to end up devoting about a quarter of its overall resources to locking up just two players alone.
That's a lot of cheese. Heads.
Tebow Time now involves Tai Chi
Tim Tebow's private quarterback coach Steve Clarkson sees the conspiracy. It's as clear to him as it is to Alex Jones who brought down the Twin Towers. We just can't see it. We refuse to see it. Jeff Garcia is clouding our judgment, and he probably wants to take our guns away, too.
Clarkson knows why Tebow was traded to the New York Jets instead of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a move designed by John Elway, Denver's executive vice president of football operations, to sabotage an entire franchise. In sending the third-year quarterback into a situation as unstable as the one in New York, to play for a coach who fantasizes about rubbing his wife's feet while she wears the jersey of the incumbent starter, Elway was sewing the fields of a young quarterback's confidence with salt. Never again would Tebow Time reemerge to threaten the validity of the decision to go with Peyton Manning, which at the time was actually quite a gamble.
Clarkson, a savvy self-promoter and self-proclaimed "Dreammaker" who counts Matt Leinart, Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman and my favorite, Jared Lorenzen, among his former students, spoke on a conference call Wednesday with absolute confidence:
"I think he was purposefully sent to New York. From the standpoint: you send him to a situation where you have instability with your coach - you don't know if he's coming or going. You have a fragile-minded Mark Sanchez at quarterback. You stick Tim Tebow in there and you kill two birds with one stone. So if you're Denver you've got to be thinking 'We send him to New York we basically kill an opponent and at the same time Tim Tebow doesn't come back to bite us in the proverbial butt, if you will, because he's not going to make it out of there.'
"You send him to Jacksonville, all of a sudden he's got that fanbase behind him and all of a sudden he's doing what he's done all his life, that's win games. That would put a lot of ill-will towards your organization. There is a lot of politics that go on with it. I think Timmy was just unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Clarkson spent three days training with Tebow in March, working to correct Tebow's "windmill throwing mechanics" and loose footwork. According to the quarterback coach, these two problems were interconnected. Also a problem was all that weight Tebow gained at the Jets' behest, 12 pounds of which are now gone.
It's all about the Tai Chi now, Clarkson claims:
"There was a lot of Tai Chi that we kind of put into his workouts where we really taught him to make his body work as one unit. Most people who watch him will say for the most part that he has his moments when he throws in rhythm, he throws quite well. It's when he had to reset himself, that's when he would tend to get off balance and the ball would come off in an unnatural manner."
That new Eagles coach totally puts the hip in "Chip"
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek paints a pretty positive picture of the new vibe around the team's practice facilities these days. A week after DeSean Jackson described the tempo at Eagles workouts as moving at "100 miles per hour," Celek predicted that Chip Kelly's methods were going to change the league. If Andy Reid was a Bellaire Broiler Burger, Kelly is one of those grass-fed, $11 organic ones on a ciabatta bun with avocado as an ingredient (Note: I love Bellaire Broiler Burger, and I also love these new age burgers. I don't want any overweight Joan Jett fanatics who read this blog to start throwing darts at a picture of my face). The pace of the practices under the former Oregon coach is fast, much faster than anything the Eagles experienced before. Defensive end Vinny Curry merely repeats the words "a lot of running" when asked to describe it. The entire Eagles experience is radically different. There's loud music during workouts, personalized protein shakes awaiting the players after practice, sleep monitors in bedrooms, those patented flashcards on the sidelines for calling in plays, and seemingly a whole new attitude permeating every aspect of the franchise.
Michael Vick has apparently bought into the system, too, though the quarterback who will be 33 come Week 1 doesn't really have much choice at this stage in his career. Vick told unofficial Eagles team reporter Sal Paolantonio Wednesday that he still felt it was his team. And in a statement only slightly less profound than the ubiquitous, "It is what it is," Vick added that he would feel this way "until I don't feel it."
Actually, maybe the Texans will not be facing James Harrison in the playoffs this season.
While talks with James Harrison/#Bengals have broken off, the team remains interested in Karlos Dansby. Nothing has ramped up yet tho— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 17, 2013
Fat Albert may be heading to Miami
After losing offensive tackle Jake Long in free agency, the Miami Dolphins are reportedly showing interest in trading for his replacement in the form of disgruntled Kansas City Chief Branden Albert. The Dolphins pick 12th this year, and won't be able to land either Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher to plug the hole left on the line. Oklahoma's Lane Johnson and Alabama's D.J. Fluker could also both be gone by that time. That's why the team is reportedly willing to send a second round pick to K.C. in exchange for Albert, and hopes to grab cornerback Dee Milliner with its first round pick as a replacement for departed cornerback Sean Smith.
Andrew Luck is so not as hip as Chip Kelly
Andrew Luck does not have Shazaam on his phone.
Bad news for the Texans
Blaine Gabbert's days as the starting quarterback in Jacksonville may be numbered, much to the chagrin of former Houston outside linebacker Connor Barwin and the Houston Texans' defense. Chad Henne apparently played well enough in his relief of the injured Gabbert last season to convince offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch of the need to let the two duke it out during offseason workouts. Fisch spoke to the Jaguars' version of Nick Scurfield on Wednesday of the open competition under center taking place in minicamp, saying that both Gabbert and Henne are rotating snaps with the first team.
Peyton sees what Brady has, and wants it
The Denver Broncos ran just over 68 plays per game last season, second only to New England, which ran around 75. Peyton Manning wants his team to pick up the pace in 2013. Adding Wes Welker to the attack will certainly not increase the difficulty of achieving this goal.
Welker's arrival may actually necessitate a faster style of play, if Manning wants to keep all three of his top receivers happy. Last season, Denver's top two receivers in total catches were Demaryius Thomas (94) and Eric Decker (85). Welker caught 118 passes in New England, six more than Andre Johnson logged in Houston when the next most common target was Owen Daniels, who had 62 catches. Kevin Walter battle-fought his way to 41 receptions. This is making me depressed.
The D.J. Hayden story
If you don't know the story of how former University of Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden almost died on the practice field last November, it's time you learn about it.
Andrea Kremer describes the "walking medical miracle" that is Hayden in this accompanying piece for NFL.com as well. A seemingly innocuous knee-to-chest collision during a routine pass play left the cornerback on the ground and unable to move, initially leading him to believe he'd gotten the wind knocked out of him, but he, and the UH trainer, quickly realized something was wrong. Once Hayden started to shiver and see stars in the training room, the trainer called an ambulance. This decision ended up saving Hayden's life.
Even upon arriving at the hospital, it wasn't clear how serious the injury was. They cut him open expecting a liver or a spleen injury; what they discovered was massive bleeding stemming from his heart. This was not an injury anyone in the room had ever seen from a football play. Car wrecks, I.E.D.s, maybe, but not football. Hayden's vena cava, the blood vessel responsible for bringing blood from the lower extremities back to the heart, was almost completely severed, and even with what was effectively open heart surgery his chances of survival were around five percent.
Hayden was discharged six days later, nearly five weeks ahead of the normal discharge date for people with an injury such as this. The ordeal cost him 25 pounds and the rest of his senior season. That is basically nothing considering the context. It may also cost him a spot in the first round, but he will still be drafted. Judging by the 4.3 40 he ran at the UH Pro Day just four months after leaving the hospital, he will probably still play in the NFL.
Watch the video, seriously.
While We're All Here
Jackie Robinson was a baller long before the Bush family became famous
This is a highlight reel from the 1939 USC-UCLA game, played before a sold out crowd of 103,000 people at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Both teams were undefeated entering the day, and a trip to the Rose Bowl was on the line. Robinson was a prized recruit for the Bruins that season, a two-way star that also played special teams, and he wore number 28.