SPORTS

NFL Preseason-The Buzziest Talking Points

7/30/2006

The NFL preseason gets set to kick off in few weeks. Here are some of the Buzziest talking points.



The NFL preseason gets set to kick off in few weeks. Here are some of the Buzziest talking points.



1) Sunday Night Lights
Garfield has another reason to hate Mondays. After a 36-year run on ABC, the NFL’s marquee show has been sacked. While ESPN will take over the Monday night telecast, NBC’s new Sunday Night show should prove the bigger draw. The peacock network has plucked acclaimed commentators Al Michaels and John Madden from their old posts to provide color and play-by-play. And to ensure that Sunday Nights will sizzle the NFL will be utilizing a flexible scheduling system. For the final seven weeks of the season the NFL will have the ability to upgrade previously scheduled afternoon games into prime time to guarantee the optimum Sunday Night match-up. Only Sunday afternoon games will be eligible for the prime time boost and the NFL will only give 12-days notice so Bell T.V. will list the teams playing in these games as TBD (to be decided) during flex weeks.

2) T.O. Joins America’s Team
Terrell Owens was suspended and subsequently deactivated midway through last year’s season after publicly raging against his team, the Philadelphia Eagles (“classless”), his coach (“shut-up”), and his quarterback (“hypocrite”). The five-time pro-bowler then signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys in March. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones took a big gamble signing such a volatile high maintenance player but his gambit could pay off in a Super Bowl victory if the team can keep the wide receiver happy. Terrell does have a tendency of playing nice in the first year of his contract and so far he and coach Bill Parcells, a renowned disciplinarian, are getting along swimmingly.

3) Raising Arizona
The Cardinals last made the playoffs in 1998 but things look to be turning around for this long-suffering franchise. Thanks largely to the offseason signing of two-time league leading rusher Edgerrin James, the Cards are set to soar. Last year the Cardinals led the NFL in passing yardage but were constantly stymied in the red zone (the twenty yard area before the defense’s goal line), converting only 28.3% of these golden opportunities into touchdowns making the Cardinals the second most inefficient team in touchdown alley. James changes the team’s offensive dynamic providing a reliable ground option to supplement QB Kurt Warner’s aerial assaults. And if Warner struggles or goes down midseason, they’ve got Heisman Trophy winning draft pick Matt Leinart ready to step in.

4) Touchdown Sobriety
The NFL is laying down the law on post TD tomfoolery. Stricter penalties aim to curtail the antics of showboaters like Chad Johnson (Cincinnati Bengals) who has done everything to celebrate a TD from putting the football with an end-zone pylon and then pumping his fist in a tribute to Tiger Woods to going down on one knee and proposing to a cheerleader. League owners voted 29-3 this March to prevent players end zone hi-jinks from getting out of hand and crossing into taunting territory. Violators will be slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Referees will ultimately play judge on a case-by-case basis but the guidelines do specify that while dancing and spiking the ball are ok, using props is a major no, no.

5) Rookie Coaches
Ten teams get a new headset-barker, seven of whom will be making their NFL head coaching debut. Here are three to watch out for and by strange coincidence they all happen to be 42-years-old.

Sean Payton (New Orleans) – In his last post the Saints new sultan spent two years plotting the offense for Dallas and learning from one of the best in Bill Parcells.
Fun Factoid: In 1987, the Arena Football League’s first year, Payton played quarterback for the Chicago Bruisers.

Mike McCarthy (Green Bay)- The former Packers QB coach returns to Green Bay after six years of seasoning with the Saints and the 49ers where he served as offensive coordinator.
Fun Factoid: Aside from Brett Favre, McCarthy has also worked with several other top quarterbacks including Jake Delhomme, Marc Bulger and Matt Hasselbeck.

Scott Linehan (St. Louis)- Last season serving as Miami’s offensive mastermind, Linehan turbocharged a listless Dophins attack improving the 29th ranked offense to 14th in the NFL.
Fun Factoid: His brother-in-law is actor Jim Caviezel and his newly signed running back John David Washington is Denzel Washington’s son. Is it only coincidence that Caviezel and Denzel star together in sci-fi thriller Déjà vudue in theatres this November?

This article first ran in the August issue of Belltv Magazine

Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2006

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