The Countdown to October 9th Starts Now

(Photo via designbyhumans.com)

In the shocker of the century, the all-mighty Lord Goodell wins and continues his reign of absolute power over the league. After appeals had revoked Goodell’s initial 4-game suspension handed to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady just over a year ago, the NFL’s appeal of the appeal has won. Tom Brady’s original 4-game suspension will be reinstated and effective starting in week 1 of the upcoming 2016 NFL season. It is a sad day for all of patriot nation…

After going to court last year and winning the appeal that vacated his 4-game suspension, it always worried me that Brady was never out of the troubles of Deflate Gate. Although Judge Richard Berman found that Goodell over-stepped his powers in giving Brady his suspension, today we witnessed the reinstatement of Brady’s 4-game suspension, despite the fact that nothing about the case has changed. If there was some sort of new evidence presented of this alleged occurrence or any proof that something actually happened, then fans would have no right to question this decision made by the court today. But regardless of this horrible mistake of a court ruling, as of today, we will have to see the Patriots play their first four games of the 2016-2017 season without their star quarterback and franchise leader, Tom Brady.

I have complete faith in the Patriots and likely starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. We will obviously not see the same offense in these first four games as we would with Brady under center, but I look for the Patriots defense to carry them through these first four games. A young defense that ranked 9th last year in overall defense and allowed only 19 points per game will be much improved this year after bringing in free agents Chris Long and Terrance Knighton, and having a healthy roster going into next season, specifically the linebackers who were heavily injured last season.

Along with this top 10 defense, the Patriots have brought in many veterans to strengthen the offense, like TE Martellus Bennett, RB Donald Brown and WR Chris Hogan. That, along with the already proven Patriots passing threats of Gronkowski, Edelman and Amendola, plus the return of both Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount to solidify the back field, has me feeling very confident in Jimmy Garoppolo in this four game stretch to start the season. The Patriots will open the season with a tough game in Arizona against the Cardinals, but after that, they have very winnable games against Miami, Houston and Buffalo. I believe if all things click early on with the offense, we could see the Pats sitting at 3-1 when Brady returns to unleash hell on the NFL. Worst case scenario, I see this team losing no more than two of these first four games.

Fast forward to week 5 of the 2016 NFL season: the return of the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, from a suspension given because of a scandal that was the biggest waste of time in sports history. A pointless investigation that turned into a web of lies from the NFL that is now regarded in the two words we all hate… Deflate Gate. We will see the revenge-filled quarterback come out of this suspension with more fire than ever, and more to prove than ever before. Brady is going to go on a rampage against any and all opponents he faces, and who better to start it than the Cleveland Browns. Mark your calendars folks. Sunday, October 9th at 1:00 pm, the revenge tour begins.

– J. Horrigan

 

NHL Hands out another 20­-game suspension

In early February, the NHL handed a 20-­game suspension to Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman for his blindside cross­check to linesman Don Henderson. His check occurred after a hard hit delivered by Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki, which leads some to believe that Wideman was impaired at the time of the incident. The league has protocol for concussions. The player is to be taken off the ice, taken to a “quiet room” and be evaluated by a qualified professional. There, the player is put through a series of quick tests that are enough to tell if a head injury has occurred. Wideman took it upon himself to say he was fine to play. That’s like asking a fat kid if he’s had enough chocolate cake.

We now move to March 9th, as Coyotes defenseman Jarred Tinordi has been suspended 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Program. The league announced Wednesday that Tinordi will miss the remainder of the season and his suspension will carry over to the 2016-­2017 season. As part of the John Scott trade 2 months prior, Tinordi has only played seven games with the Coyotes, and has played most of his career in the AHL. The 24 year old is the second NHL player to be suspended for taking a prohibited substance this season. On January 26, Shawn Horcoff of the Anaheim Ducks was banned 20 games for the same violation.

Forget about hockey for a minute and just think about sports in general. With a few exceptions, the league’s top stars are not going to be the ones seeking drug enhancements to gain an edge. The ones gaining an edge are the players bouncing around the majors and the minors; the ones struggling to keep their starting role on the team. It’s the former first rounders who cannot make the NHL team and cannot live up to their potential. It’s the Tinordi’s who fail drug tests.

This is 2016. This would’ve flown 20 years ago, but not now. We know the stat that says 1 in every 10 former football player used steroids. And who knows what that number is for recently retired baseball players. But the numbers for Hockey are lower not so much for the lack of use, but rather the low rate at which the NHL catches cheaters. In the past 10 years, only 4 players have been caught failing enhancement drug tests, compared to 52 by the MLB over the same amount of time. Comedian Daniel Tosh said a while back, “Don’t worry about your records either, for every superstar that has done steroids, a billion double-­A boys have juiced up”. Exaggerated, but not wrong at all.

Concussion Policies. Banned substance policies. NHL deserves some scrutiny on their policies and the legitimacy of enforcing them. With the World Cup of Hockey coming up in a few months, it is going to be interesting what steps, if any, the league takes.

– M. Fritz