Sight & Sound

WATCH: League of Denial: The NFL Concussion Crisis trailer

With news that the NFL has reached a reported $756 million settlement in the long running brain-injury saga, the trailer for the Frontline documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, about the subject, has made it way online.

The settlement is between the NFL and 18,000 retired players, “agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research”, as per ESPN sources. The brain injury saga has come into full examination in recent years with the high profile deaths of some of the league’s noted players; including former San Diego Charger/New England Patriot Junior Seau (who committed suicide in May of 2012), and 2-time  Super Bowl champion Dave Duerson (who committed suicide in 2011).

PBS’ Frontline has been investigating the concussion-crisis and will air a special 2-hour documentary about the investigation on October 8th. Insight on the recent settlement from the Frontline perspective can be read here while information and background about the documentary can be found here.

Check out the trailer below. The 2013-2014 NFL season kicks off this coming weekend.

American Football, Sports

One Last Ride: Super Bowl XLVII Picks

Spare a thought for Alex Smith, whose last game for his team will be greatly overshadowed by the other guy’s last game for his team. The ‘other guy’ is of course, Ray Lewis, who will cap off his stellar 16-year career with his second trip to the Super Bowl. We’re all partial to fairy tales, and while Lewis is no stranger to controversy, it will in sporting terms, be a fairy tale if he does wrap things up with another ring.

So he preens, prances, dances, preaches, cries and genuinely thinks God is a Ravens fan, but his ability and dominance over his near two-decade career is undeniable. If he wins, sure, his post-game interview will be insufferable, but the winning sentiment will be real.

For Smith however, it all ends the same way it began for his 49er career; disappointingly. The former 1st pick in the draft had seemingly put things together under Coach Jim Haurbaugh last year only to have the rug pulled under him a few months ago. Not for playing poorly, but for having Colin Kaepernick as his back up. The rest is all bicep-kissing, tattoo-havin’, touchdown throwin’ bad luck (for Smith) that Kaepernick is actually that good.

So while Ray Lewis will ride off into the sunset with either a second ring (or near storybook ending), Smith will spend the off season convincing potential suitors that his last good game for the 49ers (his 18-19, 232 yards, 3 touchdown performance against the Cardinals) will happen more often that his other games. And let’s face it, in the NFL, when you can show flashes of brilliance, there’s always a team willing to give you (another) shot. Smith will probably cash in a nice free agent pay and end up leading the Cardinals/Bills/Chiefs to an 8-8 record.

(To my beloved Eagles: Please don’t give him a shot)

The Betting Line

This Super Bowl has plenty of interweaving story lines both big a small- Lewis, the Harbowl, Kaepernick’s rise, Smith’s fall- but for the game itself, it is the most dynamic game that features two uniquely dynamic teams both high flying on offense and hard hitting on defense. Unless these two teams play each other.  The last game between them, on Thanksgiving Day in 2011, ended with a Ravens’ 16-6 win; buoyed by a bunch of field goals and little else.

What’s the safe bet here? Well, the over/under for the game currently sits at 47.5, and so if you’d like to cash in on a more than likely, bet the UNDER on this line and you should be fine.

However, if you’re like me and want to go on a gut feeling instead of sporting and statistical intelligence, you’ll take the Ravens on a straight up win (or both). They are currently +3.5 underdogs and it feels like there may just be that one final hurrah for not only Lewis, but the rest of the Ravens old guard like Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs.

The 49ers time will come; it’s just not going to be this year.

Prediction: Ravens 21, 49ers 17.


Moments and Tradition

When I saw the clip of Penn State cornerback Adam Taliaferro leading his team out onto the field just 11 months after a paralyzing injury – it almost brought a tear to my eye. His story is one of miraculous triumph and perseverance that will undoubtedly remain not only in his heart and all the viewers who saw it, but also to the thousands upon thousands who filled Beaver Stadium. It was that sea of Nittany Lion blue that got to me most – just the sound of all those voices sent chills throughout my body … and that was at home, in front of the television.

Just imagine the sound in unison of thousands of screaming fans that in spirit share the same feelings with you, even just for a few hours. Exceptional moments often shared by those who call colleges of great sporting tradition their temporary abode – the North Carolinas, the Dukes, the Penn States and the Notre Dames. It’s in their brochures, their alumni, their student body … it’s in their name. It’s a spirit and tradition unmatched by professional leagues – the notion of pure camaraderie and brotherhood, often untouched by the poisons of megabucks and MTV cribs.

For those who enjoy sports, there is nothing more exhilarating than being in the cheering masses as your school’s warriors head into battle with their fiercest rivals (unless of course, you are one who dons your school’s uniforms). To be there as the ‘6th man’, the extra weapon in your team’s arsenal who provide a certain intangible quality known as ‘home court advantage’. A quality tested best when highlighted by the intense rivalries akin to the Florida vs. Florida States, the North Carolina vs. Dukes, and the UCLA vs. USCs.

So why did I end up going to Pacific?

The reasons at the time seemed justified – it was a relatively small school, the female to male ratio was about 60/40 and my choice of major was covered.

This was of course until I settled in and realize that school spirit was dead, the football program was canceled a few years ago and our once magnificent stadium was rented out to high schools and marching bands. What did they expect us to do? Watch the girls’ volleyball team? (Although they were ranked consistently in the nation’s top 5 it was still girls volleyball – sometimes aesthetically pleasing, but as fun as watching a Kevin Costner movie on a Saturday night) So the Pacific faithful struggled with a hapless basketball team and the notion that the football team that was once ranked #1 in the country (sometime in the 50’s) while sporting a Heisman candidate had gotten so bad they had to cancel the program.

School sports were phased out of my Pacific mentality – instead I listened to a teacher from Michigan revel as his Spartans took home championship glory in basketball (circa 1999-2000) and I listened to stories of campus wide parties that spilled across the town. Something I knew, I would not be taking part in while at Pacific.

So for those of you college bound sports enthusiasts, my recommendation is to consider those big named schools with great sporting traditions. It’s something I missed out on for now, but who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to revel in the glory of true school spirit. To someday pull down goalposts, tailgate with the best of them and maybe even upturn cars in after game partying/rioting.