Sunday, February 28, 2010

Terrell Owens a Detroit Lion?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I never thought I would even say this but to see controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens in a Detroit Lions uniform would make a lot of sense!

For a team that's won only two games in the past couple of seasons, he would be a great draw at the ticket offices and put bodies in the stands at Ford Field. Detroit is too good of a sports town to experience blackouts at a stadium which is 15,000 smaller than the 80,000 seat Pontiac Silverdome.

Critics will tell you that Owens is a quarterback killer and his track record with Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo certainly documents that.

However, when Detroiter & Buffalo Bills Owner Ralph Wilson Jr. signed Owens to a one-year contract worth $6.5 million on March 8, 2009, to give Trent Edwards another weapon, he knew the goods he was buying.

But to Owens credit, he stayed low-keyed all season and managed to catch 55 passes for 829 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown.

In Buffalo, Owens had the opportunity to play near a border Canadian town with Niagara Falls and Toronto nearby.

In Detroit, Owens can hang out in Windsor if he desires where there is plenty of nightlife at Caesars Casino. If he doesn't want to cross the border, there are three casinos he can patronage if he gets bored in Detroit. Maybe he can become friends with new Tiger Johnny Damon.

But Owens is a guy that is third on the NFL career list with 14,951 yards.

Do you think that opposing defenders would pay attention to Owens with Calvin Johnson as Matthew Stafford's primary target? There are enough passes to go around for both receivers.
I'm sure that Owens will remember where his milestone 15,000 yard will come from with a future star signal caller in Stafford who is destined for great things as long as he stays healthy.

Since wide receiver is a position the Lions need to upgrade, we all know about Detroit's recent history of bad draft choices at that position. Just look at the media guide where you'll see Charles Rogers (Michigan State), Mike Williams (USC) and Roy Williams (Texas). Although as it turned out, trading away Williams to the Dallas Cowboys did produce tight-end Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State) along with other draft choices.

Nevertheless, Owens, who played his college ball down I-75 at Tennessee-Chattanooga, is 36-years-old and could come reasonable. Here is a guy who is trying to salvage his career and bolster which should be a Hall of Fame resume.

I think he'd be grateful for this opportunity and from what I've been told about Lions Coach Jim Schwartz, he seems like a genuine guy that has a strong admiration for the man upstairs who does a lot of praying. To take on the challenge of inheriting an 0-16 team, that speaks volumes in itself.

With Schwartz being the former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator, now there is a Volunteer State connection.

Nobody should forget that Owens bounced back from a serious injury to play for the Philadelphia Eagles in their 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 39 in Jacksonville. Since Detroit is a blue collar town, Owner William Clay Ford Sr. would appreciate a guy that works hard to get healthy much faster.

Ironically, Owens shares the same birthday as my mother Shila Morganroth. But it's no ordinary birthday since it's December 7. Owens was born in 1973 while my mother was born on Pearl Harbor Day in 1941.

My mother and Owens are nice but strong and passionate personalities. Perhaps there is an attitude about entering the world on such a historic day that it brings out that extra internal fire that everybody notices and affects those around them.

But if the Lions are indeed committed to getting better, to be able to get a year or two out of Owens since he is a free agent, Bob Barker would tell you that "The Price is Right" for a guy that has caught over 1,000 passes in his career and is a six-time Pro Bowl receiver.

If the Lions are going to lose, then do it by being more competitive and entertaining. Perhaps this years Thanksgiving Game would be more competitive with Owens being part of the story-line as Johnson and Stafford get better. With the NFL Draft just weeks away, the second overall pick, barring a trade, should make the Lions better.

Since Thanksgiving is the only time the Lions ever get a national television broadcast, the focus would be better served at a good game instead of talking about a poor team where everyone is anxious to take the holiday tradition away from them.

Although the Lions and Owens would be classified as the "Odd Couple" that hit series television show had a great run when it aired back in the good old days long before cable television.

Now the Lions version could be a scaled down short term version which leads to NFL relevance as to this date, they are now one of four teams to have never reached a Super Bowl.

Scott Morganroth can be reached as scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be read at www.scottsports33.com.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Great Memories With FIU's Isiah Thomas

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Whenever FAU and FIU meet in any sport, this is a nice intense rivalry between these two schools separated by an hour drive off the Florida Turnpike.

The Shula Bowl adds a nice ending to the football season while in baseball both universities have produced a lot of professional baseball prospects.

During the past two weeks, the basketball programs met and even though FAU defeated FIU both times, this series figures to get interesting in years to come.

On January 30, 2010, in Boca Raton, FIU Golden Panthers Coach Isiah Thomas made his first appearance in Palm Beach County.

For myself, it was an opportunity to be reunited with a guy that I worked with when I covered the Detroit Pistons for the Detroit Monitor during their Bad Boys era in the late 1980's and 1990's which won two NBA Championships.

Before the game, Thomas and I spent time talking about the good old days of how his team's defensive physical style of basketball changed how the game is being played today. We also talked about personalities like Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman and the battles Detroit faced at the famed Boston Garden.

It was a great reunion for us and the crowds were much bigger than they were on this night. At the Palace of Auburn Hills, 21,454 fans jammed the building and the electricity was tremendous.

The FAU Arena was buzzing as well but the crowd was considerably smaller. FAU sold the game out as 2,916 turned out, in addition to filling the suites, media requests which increased the total to nearly 5,000.

Before the game, Thomas and I talked about the difference in the two arenas and we both agreed that basketball is basketball regardless of how big the building is.

On this night, FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos was gleaming because he knows that there aren't many occasions that an opposing coach will sign autograph posters to frame and exhibit in his athletic department.

Naturally, he was pleased with the attendance to watch an opposing coach who also won an NCAA National Championship at Indiana in 1981 for the legendary Bobby Knight.

As for the game, FAU won round one 106-88 and judging by the way the Golden Panthers were playing, I got the feeling that Thomas, the Hall of Fame point guard, was going to go to the FIU locker room and put on his No. 11 jersey to show his team how things needed to be done.

Oh well, it was nice to dream!

But it was evident that Thomas was out coached by FAU's high profile coach Mike Jarvis. Last year, Jarvis had to experience a difficult first season as the Owls finished the campaign 6-26.

While FAU has turned things around this season with a 14-13, 10-6 record and is 2-0 against Thomas, with the most recent win occurring in Miami on February 18, 77-74, despite Isiah's 7-22, 4-12 record, this rivalry figures to get better as both teams recruit better players.

Meanwhile, Thomas and Jarvis have found fresh starts in South Florida after their departures from New York.

Jarvis was fired by St. Johns University on December 19, 2003 due in part to a series of off-court incidents.

Thomas had an unsuccessful tenure with the New York Knicks from 2003-2009 as an executive and head coach.

Both have traded the limelight & subways for the sunshine to begin their challenges of turning mid major schools into regular NCAA Tournament participants. They've earned all of their millions and are now in the "Been There And Done That Club."


Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be read at www.scottsports33.com.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Great American Disgrace

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

As I walked to the Media Shuttle after the Pro Bowl Game on February 1, 2010, I asked NFL Senior Vice President of Public Relations Greg Aiello why a sport would hold its Super Bowl at the beginning of the season as NASCAR does.

Aiello couldn't give me an answer but his facial expressions and body language indicated that he's pleased with the fact that his sport doesn't have to deal with that question.

There are two major things in the Sports World that boggle my mind.

First, unless Congress backs the NCAA into a corner, I doubt we'll ever see a legitimate playoff system in NCAA Division I College Football where the underdog has a chance to win the championship on the field as we do with March Madness.

Second, I don't have a problem with NASCAR holding an opening race at it's headquarters in Daytona Beach, FL, but not it's premier event. The opening race should be the Pepsi 400.

There are many reasons why I feel this way.

In February, the Sports Fan is hungover from football season with the climactic conclusion of the Super Bowl.

There are plenty of College Basketball games to choose from leading to March Madness. For Hockey fans, there is the NHL Game of the Week and around this time they have their All-Star Game with the exception of Olympic years. This year a crowd that exceeded 108,000 watched the NBA All-Star Game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the same day as this year's Daytona 500.

Football fans still have the NFL Scouting Combine leading up to the NFL Draft. Furthermore, while the transition from the Super Bowl to March Madness takes place, Spring Training is right around the corner.

No matter how many Auto Racing fans there are, it's hard to compete for viewership with everything that's going on.

The Indy Car Open Wheel Circuit doesn't do much right, but I do give them credit for showcasing their big race over Memorial Day Weekend.

If NASCAR was smart, the Daytona 500 "The Great American Race" should be held on July 4. What better way to celebrate our country's birthday than this way.

By setting up a scenario where you have the "Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing" at the beginning of the month, and the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis at the end of July, that's a great bookend of "Pressure Packed Racing."

How neat would it be for a driver to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 within four weeks? There have been 16 Brickyard 400's and the winner of this race has won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship eight times.

If the 51-year old Daytona 500 were held during the summer, it would allow families to take their youngsters on a trip to see the "Great American Race" and even slip in a trip to nearby Walt Disney World in Orlando. I'm sure the folks at Disney would be thrilled that with Daytona International Speedway's 167,785 capacity, and Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc. would love to show their hospitality.

More importantly, a summer Daytona 500 would have the Television Stage all to itself with less competition. While the Daytona 500 is always exciting, by mid-summer, we'll know which drivers are going to be in contention in the championship chase.

Even though what I'm saying here will never happen, I still believe it's worth mentioning.

But as I think about things, I've been told to never say never.

So I'll say that I never thought I'd see the day when Major League Baseball would ever have inter-league play when it began in 1997. But in an effort to renew the public's interest in MLB following the 1994 player's strike, Commissioner Bud Selig had to do something to increase attendance and raise television ratings thus this was the obvious thing to do.

Baseball didn't want to mess with tradition and take away from the significance of the World Series. But MLB was smart enough that during its long season that by using the third week in May and all of June, this would keep fans attention by creating inter-city/regional rivalries, past World Series match-ups and getting a preview of what fans could see the following October.

Normally, I do watch the Daytona 500 but this year, I had no desire to watch two Super Bowls, albeit in two different sports, in back-to-back weeks.

I have a feeling that I'm not the only person that feels this way. I may have missed a race that featured a pot hole on the track that lasted over six hours and resulted in 1:44 in delays, but I do feel that the NASCAR's opening week's Super Bowl system is a pot-hole in itself. Like the track, the system needs to be repaved.

I know that NASCAR's ratings are down, so the sport should follow the lead of MLB and shake things up! I hope I've made my case now I welcome any debate from all of you readers.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

As The Woods Turns

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

After watching Tiger Woods scripted statement, I told my friend Dennis Roetzel at CiCi's Restaurant in Deerfield Beach, that I didn't want to waste my space talking about his unethical acts of adultery.

But as time progressed and I watched Woods in front of a microphone instead of swinging a golf club, I couldn't resist.

My fellow Capricorn, who was born on Dec 30, 1975, a day after my birthday on Dec 29, isn't as smart as I thought he was.

He should have followed the lead of LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant who committed adultery in Colorado, and admitted he made a mistake just days after his situation happened in November. Perhaps Woods wouldn't have lost as many sponsors while his dignity & integrity wouldn't have taken as big of a hit as it did.

Bryant bought his wife an expensive ring and I'm sure he paid a huge price financially with her to regain her forgiveness in an attempt to regain her trust. To his credit, he's still married and has rebuilt his image, regained sponsors and last season led the Lakers to the NBA title.

Watching Woods TV appearance reminded me of the Watergate Scandal back in the 1970's as every network covered this story. I can just imagine with today's media how much more coverage the Watergate Scandal would have received with CNN, FOX News, FOX, CNBC and MSNBC joining ABC, CBS and NBC.

Woods press conference also reminded me of OJ Simpson's double murder trial. Every media outlet wanted a piece of the action.

To have President Bill Clinton get Impeached because he cheated on his wife Hillary, only not to get removed from office, goes to show you that our society does tolerate idiotic behavior.

We've dealt with steroids, athletes domestic violence issues, drugs and guns. Regardless of how all of this plays out, the end result is "The Cover-Up is worse than the Act."

What Woods did was completely inexcusable!

I despise any type of cheating in a relationship whether it's adultery from an unstable marriage or a partner who is dissatisfied in the relationship. It's happened to me and I wouldn't do it to my partner. If the relationship is bad, then both individuals should move on and go their own separate ways.

Yet in the end, Woods has to own up for what he's done and if his stupidity costs him a lot of money, a career, his beautiful wife Elin as well as the family, then so be it! He violated her trust and she should divorce him!

Woods needs to grow up and be more accountable for his actions!

In some ways, Woods reminds me of Mike Tyson. What doomed Tyson's career was not having his personal priorities in order.

Tyson would proceed to go through a divorce with actress Robin Givens and then eventually lost his heavyweight title on Feb 11, 1990 to Buster Douglas. He would serve three years in an Indiana jail for rape. On June 28, 1997, Tyson tarnished his reputation by biting Evander Holyfield's ear in an attempt to regain his title back.

While I don't think Woods will take as big of a fall as Tyson financially because he seems to have better financial advisors around him and lesser bad habits, Woods still has a chance to resurrect his career.

Three more PGA wins will make second on the all-time wins list with 74 surpassing Jack Nicklaus. Five more majors places Woods with 19 that would break Nicklaus' mark of 18. I can just imagine how many more sponsors he'll acquire if he achieves these accomplishments.

If he wins again, the public will forgive.

While Woods is taking time off from golf to continue his therapy, he should have a Laptop Computer handy and research the rise and fall of some prominent athletes.

As aforementioned, Bryant turned his negative situation into a positive. Tyson's life is truly a sad story because of the fact that the most dominant heavyweight champion of his era could have been headed for additional greatness if his mind wasn't a train-wreck.

Former Tennessee Titans QB Steve McNair was killed as a result of adultery and poor judgement. Former LA Lakers guard Magic Johnson has the HIV Virus because of his aggressive sexual behavior.

I've lost count of how many kids Holyfield has with different ladies. But I do know that if he continues to fight in his 40's to support his children, he's headed down Muhammad Ali territory with future brain damage that could lead to Parkinson's Disease. This will cost Holyfield physically and financially.

Woods, 34, should look at these incidents and learn from them. Tiger should replace the "G" he knows as "Golf" and use "Google" then go to Wikipedia and monitor their downfalls.

I still believe that Woods private life should remain that way. What he does on his own time is his own business.

Where it bothers me the most is having to constantly hear, read and watch his boneheaded mistakes dominate the airwaves when there are more worthwhile things to talk about.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saints March To History

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

MIAMI GARDENS----Going into Super Bowl XLIV, this writer did predict that the New Orleans Saints would score 31 points. The problem is he also thought the Colts would win by a 38-31 margin.

Oh well, I'm not alone because there were many others who expected Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to walk away with his second Super Bowl Championship.

But destiny is the key word as to what transpired Sunday Night at Joe Robbie Stadium.

The New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 and despite the fact that there were two small market teams playing, that didn't matter as far as TV Ratings were concerned.
According to the Nielsen Ratings, this was the most watched program in US Television History as 106.5 million tuned in.

We had the hometown boy in Manning facing a city that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Is there any doubt that the Saints have become America's adopted team? As I spent time at the Media Center talking to radio show hosts along with other national media members from around the world at Radio Row, there were plenty of these people who were hoping that the Saints would come marching out of Miami with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

As it turns out they did. The celebration has shifted from South Beach to Bourbon St. But while this victory does bring joy to New Orleans, even when I was there two years ago, the devastation of the storm was still quite evident. That's what many of us in the media talked about at the various functions throughout the week especially throughout Sunday's game.

This was more than a football game, it was a human interest story in every way possible. That's what made it such a thrill to be a part of. There could be no better hype leading up to this game then listening to the players, coaches, media, commissioner, etc., talking about the significance about what a win would mean to New Orleans.

Despite being 13-3 and being the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Saints were still underdogs to the No. 1 seeded Colts who were 14-2.

Last year in Tampa, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the underdog Arizona Cardinals 27-23 but needed an eight play, 78-yard drive capped by a six yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes to earn the win. Pittsburgh also had a Super Bowl record 100-yard interception return from James Harrison at the end of the first half.

There were a lot of critical plays in this contest. But the only interception Manning threw resulted in a 74-yard touchdown return by Tracy Porter that gave New Orleans the 14 point lead. But Manning did throw for 333 yards while New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has folks in San Diego scratching their heads by letting him leave as a free agent as he threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns.

Nevertheless, this was history at its best and to be part of a crowd of 74,059 yards was a tremendous experience watching the Saints win their first ever Super Bowl Championship.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsportss3.com.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Last Time....

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

1. The last time a Detroit Red Wings Goaltender won the Vezina Trophy was back in 1954-55 when Terry Sawchuk won his third award as the NHL's top goalkeeper.

2. Speaking of Professional Hockey, which team wore the Red, Black & Gold uniforms and played at Cobo Arena? The Michigan Stags played in the defunct World Hockey Association (WHA) and were coached by Johnny Wilson, who held the same position with the Detroit Red Wings. The Stags began play in 1974-75 but folded on Jan 18, 1975. The team moved to Baltimore shortly after it folded to finish out the season.

3. The last time a Detroit Tigers pitcher won the Cy Young Award was when Willie Hernandez led the Motor City Kitties to a World Series Championship in 1984. He was 9-3 with a 1.92 ERA and posted 32 saves.

4. The Michigan Panthers won the USFL Championship Game in 1983 defeating the Philadelphia Stars 24-22 at Denver's Mile High Stadium in front of 50,906 fans on July 17.

5. In 1984, the Panthers bid to repeat failed as they lost to the Los Angeles Express 27-21 at the Coliseum on June 30 in the Quarterfinals in three overtimes. To date, this is the longest game in professional football history and only 7,409 saw it. The contest was 93 minutes and 33 seconds. The QB of the Express was NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young.

Ironically, in the other sport called Football/Soccer, the Detroit entry in the North American Soccer League which played at the Pontiac Silverdome, the former home of the Panthers, was named the Detroit Express.

6. The Detroit Drive won four Arena Bowls including three in a row. The Drive won in 1988, 89, 90 and there last one was in 1992. Their kicker Novo Bojovic (Central Michigan) played on all four championships and won another one with the Michigan Panthers. It's hard to believe that this guy has won five championships, yet played in only one season in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, appearing in only six games.

7. The last Detroit Red Wing to win the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) was Roger Crozier back in the 1964-65 season.

8. The last time Detroit hosted an NHL All-Star Game was on Feb 5, 1980 at the Joe Louis Arena as the Wales Conference defeated the Campbell Conference 6-3. Detroit which was a member of the Wales Conference, was represented by Reed Larson, along with former and future Red Wings. Ron Stackhouse, Jim Shoenfeld, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne, Danny Gare, Darryl Sittler along with Coach Scotty Bowman represented the Wales.

Bernie Federko played for the Campbell Conference.

Ironically, there would be three future Buffalo Sabres ties on this team to Detroit with Bowman, Shoenfeld and Gare. Bowman would eventually coach another Sabres legend in Detroit as Dominik Hasek led the legendary coach to a Stanley Cup title in 2002 over the Carolina Panthers 4-1. This would be Bowman's record ninth and final championship as a coach.

He has 11 titles total with a one in the front office of the Pittsburgh Penguins and another with the Red Wings. Don't expect the Red Wings to host another All-Star Game in Detroit until a new stadium is built and there is speculation that this could be the Red Wings final season at Joe Louis Arena as they'd move to the Palace of Auburn Hills on an interim basis.

9. The last time the Pistons hosted an All-Star Game was in 1979 when 31, 745 fans saw the West defeat the East 134-129 at the Pontiac Silverdome. Bob Lanier represented the Pistons while former Coach Doug Collins (Philadelphia 76'ers) was selected but didn't play due to injury. Notable stars for the East included Julius Erving (Philadelphia) George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs) Elvin Hayes (Washington Bullets) Moses Malone (Houston Rockets), the late "Pistol" Pete Maravich (New Orleans Jazz) and Campy Russell (Cleveland Cavaliers).

For the West, David Thompson (Denver Nuggets) Kareem Abdul Jabbar (LA Lakers), the late Dennis Johnson (Seattle Supersonics) and Paul Westphal (Phoenix Suns) played for the winning team. To this day, I'm puzzled by the fact that the Palace of Auburn Hills hasn't hosted an All-Star Weekend because it's one of the best arenas in the country.

10. Finally, the Detroit Lions last NFL Championship was in 1957. The team has qualified for the playoffs only nine times in more than 50 years since winning that championship and has only one one playoff game. They are now only one of four teams that have never played in a Super Bowl.

It doesn't matter how old or young you are. I'm amazed at how many championships and big events have taken place that many of us have forgotten or don't realize. As for the baby boomers, there is more to Detroit Sports History then the four major teams along with Michigan & Michigan State.

Despite all of the Lions failures, there have been professional football championships.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be read at wwww.scottsports33.com.


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