Tuesday, August 23, 2011
American Football 2011-Ready to Go!
They are about ready to kick off the regular football season south of the border. That’s where they need four downs to move the yardsticks. As you have read here, for several weeks, we have been playing the Canadian game in the fine summer weather. The Canadian Football League teams will have played almost half a season before their American counterparts rumble onto the gridiron to do battle.
The season was in some jeopardy earlier this year. There was plenty of posturing on both sides, players and management, regarding the collective agreement. With several billion dollars at stake, cooler heads prevailed, and training camps opened several weeks ago.
Mind you, not everyone is entirely happy at this time. The Eagles’ Michael Vick, who had an outstanding season last year following a prison stint, is trying to extend his contract into the future. The terms have yet to be agreed upon, and the waters became clouded recently when Larry Fitzgerald agreed to play for $ 15 million a season. The Arizona Cardinals made him the highest paid receiver in the National Football League, trailing four quarterbacks in the salary category: Peyton Manning from the Colts, Tom Brady from the Patriots, Eli Manning from the Giants, and Phillip from the Chargers.
All eyes will be focused on Cam Newton, the rookie quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. Newton will start on Thursday night against the Bengals, and should get to handle the bulk of the snaps. He is the highly-touted rookie out of Auburn who may have picked up a bauble or two while finishing his college career in the States. College players must not receive any remuneration while toiling in the halls of education. That concept seems to have gone the way of the Dodo bird, as most pundits agree that the system has to change. Most colleges are flaunting the rule, and are constantly under investigation.
Closer to home, the Buffalo Bills will fight an uphill battle again this year. Last year, C. J. Spiller was expected to star as the Bills’ running back. Fred Jackson put together another fine season as the premier ball carrier for the Bills, rushing for 927 yards, and a decent 4.2 yards per carry average. He recorded five touchdowns, and caught 31 passes. He has been with the Bills since 2006, when he signed as an undrafted free agent. Spiller will get his chances, but may have to take a back seat to Jackson for another term.
Bills are expecting big things from Marcell Dareus, their first round draft pick from Alabama. At six feet three inches, and more than three hundred pounds, he is described on the back of his Topps Rookie Card as an “explosive lineman, often compared to Warren Sapp”, the perennial Pro Bowl lineman who played for Tampa Bay and Oakland. Dareus should make a difference in his first year in the league.
Another player garnering interest is Plaxico Burress. He has joined the New York Jets after missing a couple of seasons serving time in detention. In his last pre-season game, he indicated he has not lost too many steps. He is thrilled to be able to play. In an interview I picked up off the internet, he stated, “This is one of those days I have been dreaming of”, following his first game. He had three catches for 66 yards, and a major. He could be a key ingredient for the Jets title run this year.
Meanwhile, in the CFL, the Argos won last week to alleviate some of the pressure from a dismal season, thus far. They have a bit of a break at this time, and will need to put together several wins just to make the playoffs. Montreal and Calgary have emerged yet again as serious Grey Cup contenders. Als’ pivot Anthony Calvillo is in the process of surpassing all of the records established by Damon Allen. Simply the best.
Pass the nachos, please. It’s time for football.
August 23, 2011