Thursday, March 16, 2017

Who Would You Add?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

As the NFL off-season hits it's stride and we're into free agency, and the 2017 Draft takes place in April, I've decided to examine a few players which could play this year.

The three that standout are Oklahoma Running Back Joe Mixon, former San Francisco 49'ers QB Colin Kaepernick and former Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel.

Each player has an interesting story but the big question that executives will have to ponder this spring--- Are these players more trouble than they're worth?

Let's start off with Mixon.

He's the most intriguing player of the group.

The 20-year old has served a one-year suspension from Oklahoma for a domestic violence incident back in 2014.

Because of this, the NFL didn't invite Mixon to the Scouting Combine as a result of his off the field behavior.

Mixon is a dual threat running back.

In 2016, he rushed for 1,274 yards on 187 carries and 10 touchdowns. He added five receiving touchdowns.

In 2015, Mixon had 113 carries for 753 yards, seven touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns.

There is no question the kid can play.

A fan recently asked me that if I were an NFL executive, would I draft Mixon?

Let's put it this way, I'm a firm believer in second chances.

There is no question that I don't tolerate domestic violence.

Let me repeat, I don't tolerate domestic violence and there is no place for it in society!

With that said, Mixon paid the price for his mistake and served a one-year suspension from Oklahoma for his actions. He's been punished for his behavior.

He does deserve a chance for an opportunity to play in the NFL but there must be stipulations in his contract!

First, he must go to therapy for domestic violence.

Second, there should be a clause inserted into his contract that if there is one mishap, his employment should be terminated.

Let Mixon know there is Zero Tolerance for his actions.

Finally, the contract should be constructed as a small base salary with incentives.

This same fan asked me if the Detroit Lions should draft him?

From what I've heard, Mixon is a first round talent that doesn't figure to slip past the third round during the second day of the draft.

Somebody will take this kid and he could be a steal if he avoids any off the field incidents.

I would say yes.

The Detroit Lions have had good success with running backs that have Oklahoma ties.

The Lions drafted former Heisman Trophy Winner Steve Owens in the 1970 Draft. He played five seasons and appeared in one Pro Bowl before a knee injury ended his career.

In 1980, the Lions went back to Oklahoma and selected Billy Sims with the No.1 overall pick and Sims also played five seasons, amassed 5,106 yards, 42 rushing and five receiving touchdowns along with three Pro Bowls.

Once again, a knee injury ended the career of a Lions running back.

Then there was Barry Sanders.

He was drafted in 1989 from Oklahoma State University.

All Barry did was get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards, had 99 touchdowns, 2,921 receiving yards and another 10 touchdowns.

He was in 10 Pro Bowls.

What else do I need to say except that the state of Oklahoma has been kind to the Lions with running backs.

Somebody asked me why former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice didn't get a second chance after his domestic violence incident?

The answer to that is the incident occurred later in his career and he was on the downside since many running backs break down into their 30's.

If he had more production in him, he could have gotten a second chance.

In fact, Detroit Lions Coach Jim Caldwell didn't bring Rice to town. Caldwell was a former Baltimore Ravens coach.

You could say that Rice was black-balled for his actions and the bad publicity the NFL received didn't help his case.

So there you have it with Mixon.

I'll be curious as to where he winds up and earlier this week, there were 12 teams that wanted to meet with Mixon.

You can rest assure that every President, General Manager and Coach will do their homework. They'll have to get their owner's approval to sign off on adding Mixon knowing what the potential backlash could be from the advertisers and fans due to his checkered past.

The Minnesota Vikings had to deal with this when star Running Back Adrian Peterson went through similar issues.

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The other two players are easier to breakdown.

Let's start with Kaepernick.

Last year he decided to protest and not stand up for the National Anthem because of moral issues.

That's all well and good, but now he's decided that he's made his point and will stand up in 2017.

The only point that Kaepernick, 29, has made is that he's an unrestricted free agent and he's looking for work.

Bringing in this guy would be like having the circus come to town and there would be publicity for all the wrong reasons. No team needs to have a soap opera.

According to TheScore.com, they said that the teams who should look at him are the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and the Chicago Bears.

First of all, since Jim Harbaugh left San Francisco for Michigan, Kaepernick's play has steadily declined. Aside from one Super Bowl Appearance, he's struggled on the field.

I'll give Kaepernick this much, the 49'ers are on their third coach in three years excluding Harbaugh.

Jim Tomsula followed Harbaugh, then came Chip Kelly and now Kyle Shanahan.

It's hard for any quarterback to go through that much lack of stability.

I've seen this drill too many times over the years.

Kaepernick does have a good arm and is extremely mobile.

His on the field numbers are good.

In six years, he's thrown for 12,271 yards, 72 touchdowns, 30 interceptions and has rushed for another 2,300 yards.

In Cleveland, I don't see Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson adding Kaepernick.

He won't tolerate the baggage that he brings and shipped out Manziel very quickly.

Anything is possible with the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears just signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Mike Glennon to replace Jay Cutler. I don't see this happening.

The bottom line is I don't think there will be any rush to sign Kaepernick until after the draft or if another signal caller gets hurt.

It's amazing how looking for a job changes ones outlook on how a person moves forward.

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Finally, there is Manziel.

I've never seen a guy that has generated so much publicity for such a short period of time for all the wrong reasons.

Aside from his 2012 Heisman Trophy from Texas A&M, this guy is a BUST if I've ever seen one.

He's played in 15 NFL Games and has thrown for 1,675 yards, seven touchdown and seven interceptions.

He's got a domestic violence act on his rap sheet. He gets more publicity for his partying and alcohol than his performance.

Maziel's immaturity became an issue in college then followed him to the NFL. There were arrests plus other run ins with the law.

I don't care if the guy was recently engaged.

Until he grows up, I can't see too many teams taking a chance on him.

Manziel, 24, does have mobility and is an excellent scrambler.

He has a pro arm and looks like a gunslinger.

Should he get another opportunity, he's going to probably get suspended for the NFL's Personal
Conduct Policy.

Heck, if Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones is going to give another domestic violence offender Greg Hardy another chance, perhaps I could see him bring in Manziel. Hardy blew his latest chance with the Cowboys and is out of the NFL.

But there are a lot of people that need to see that Manziel needs to get his life in order. Event his agents have gotten rid of him.

I feel so strongly about this that I doubt the Canadian Football League with it's wider and longer field would touch him.

Yes, Manziel would sell tickets, but is he more trouble than he's worth?

That's the Million Dollar Question.

The only thing that Manziel has going for him is that teams are desperately looking to find a good quarterback.

But I'm not holding my breath with Johnny Football.

If I were a betting man, of these three players that I spoke about, I would go with Joe Mixon. But I'm not a betting man.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Beware Of The Wolverines

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Before you fill out your brackets here is something to keep in mind.

How much can emotion factor into whether a team makes an incredible post-season run?

In last week's Big Ten Tournament, The Michigan Wolverines played this card all the way to a Conference Championship.

The Wolverines airplane crashed Wednesday, but thankfully nobody was hurt and the team flew out the next day to Washington D.C. where they would face Illinois in their practice jerseys on Thursday, March 9. The determined No.8 Wolverines thrashed No.9 Illinois 75-55.

Michigan arrived at the arena at about 10:35 a.m., and they were playing basketball less than two hours after that (tipoff was delayed about 20 minutes).  They flew in on the Detroit Pistons Jet.

On Friday, March 10, Michigan would play in its regular jerseys and needed OT to defeat No.1 Purdue 74-70 as the ride continued.

On Saturday, March 11, the Wolverines next victim would be No.4 Minnesota as they outlasted the Golden Gophers in the semi-finals 84-77.

Championship Sunday occurred on March 12 as No.2 Wisconsin stood in the way of a conference title.

But Michigan showed a tremendous amount of resilience as the Wolverines blasted the Badgers 71-56 to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will now face the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Friday.

It was refreshing to see the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., rooting for Michigan throughout the tournament, as it appeared as U-M was playing at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.

If the Big Ten was looking to expand the brand by adding Rutgers University and Maryland, the conference did exactly that in Washington D.C. opening up the East Coast Market.

The Wolverines enter the NCAA Tournament with a 24-11 record.

John Beilein is the school's all-time winningest coach with 213 wins passing Johnny Orr and guided the team to an NCAA Finals Appearance in 2012-13, as the team was 31-8.

Beilein's all-time coaching record stands at 689-409 with a winning percentage of .628.

Whether Beilein can work any magic in the NCAA Tournament remains to be seen.

But how far can emotion take a team into the tournament?

Lets go back to 1990 as the Wolverines had to deal with this first hand.

On March 4, 1990, Loyola Marymount University Forward Hank Gathers died during a basketball game due to a heart attack. The Lions would represent the West Coast Conference (WCC) in the NCAA Tournament.

Led by Gathers childhood friend Bo Kimble, the Lions would make an incredible run through the NCAA Tournament all the way to the Elite Eight.

That year the Wolverines were the Defending National Champions and they encountered a hungry Lions squad.

How hungry were the Lions? Loyola was coached by former Los Angeles Lakers boss Paul Westhead, who brought an explosive offense to college. Westhead ran a run-and-gun style which enabled LMU to average a Division I-record 122.4 points per game that season.

On March 18, 1990 at the NCAA West Regional in Long Beach, CA., the Lions devoured Michigan 149-115. The Wolverines simply ran into a buzz saw.

The Lions would eventually lose to eventual National Champion University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) 131-101.

But it would be an incredible run for Loyola Marymount University.

Obviously, none of the current Wolverines were alive when all of this took place.

But if these kids were to look at NCAA Basketball History, the Lions tournament run was extremely special.

Fortunately for Michigan, the plane crash may have shaken these kids and their coaching staff up but, thankfully nobody was hurt.

Yet, with their success in the Big Ten Tournament, this is a great emotional adrenaline builder for the entire program.

On Saturday, March 18, this will be the 27th Anniversary of the Lions thrashing of the Wolverines.

I'm sure U-M would like to keep their magical run going past this date.

Michigan is considered a sleeper by many experts to win the NCAA Title.

I hope these experts are indeed correct and they win the NCAA Title.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tale Of Two Quarterbacks

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

It will be hard to find two football story lines more compelling than these.

But as far as I'm concerned these are quite interesting in their own way.

First, we'll start out with former Florida Gators QB Tim Tebow.

From a character standpoint, Tebow is A-1 in My Book.

This is a guy that you won't see in an arrest mugshot photo.

If I had a daughter, I'd try to set her up with Tim.

He's a true role model.

When Tebow was trying out for the New England Patriots in 2013, Owner Robert Kraft was rooting for him to make the team.

However, since the Patriots opted to keep two signal callers at the time, Tebow was the odd man out and was released to get the Patriots down to the Final 53 roster size.

This was unfortunate because New England Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels selected him in the first round when he was Denver's head coach.

This is a guy that won a playoff game with the Denver Broncos which is better than many of the other teams as well as prominent QB's have failed to accomplish.

Unfortunately, that wouldn't be enough for Tebow to make it in the NFL.

Now I'm not one to give any career advice, but when the Broncos gave Tebow an opportunity to decide whether he wanted to be traded to the New York Jets or Jacksonville Jaguars, he opted to play in the Big Apple under Rex Ryan hoping to be a Wildcat QB thinking he'd eventually become a starter.

That situation fizzled.

Tebow should have played for the Jaguars where he had a chance to play QB in his hometown.

The Jaguars are a very patient franchise, but Tebow opted for the endorsement possibilities of New York rather than earning them later succeeding for a team that needed him and a city which would have loved him.

He would have also increased the Jaguars attendance.

To compound the problem, if Tebow really wanted to play QB badly, he could have developed his skills in the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Two QB's that used their play North Of The Border and cashed in with the NFL include Warren Moon and Doug Flutie.

Tebow's running ability would have been a good fit for the CFL.

With more NFL teams looking for QB's, Tebow could have had more polished skills and experience under his belt.

Some of the contracts that are being signed by these QB's during free agency have been totally ridiculous.

In three NFL seasons Tebow played, he was 173-361 with a 47.9 Completion Percentage in 35 games. He amassed 2,422 yards, tossed 17 touchdowns, nine interceptions along with 989 rushing yards. He was sacked seven times to go along with six fumbles lost.

Although his NFL Dreams began to diminish, Tebow, 29, has been able to stay in the spotlight and does work for ESPN on The SEC Network. This position does keep Tebow close to the game and he earns a really good living behind the microphone.

Now as we fast forward to his current dreams, Tebow figures since he couldn't make it in football, he'll take his swings in baseball after being away from the diamond 12 years.

Thus far, it has been a difficult transition for the former Heisman Trophy Winner.

During the Arizona Fall League, in 19 games, Tebow hit .194 with 20 strikeouts in 64 at bats.

I missed The Tebow Circus by a day when he arrived for Spring Training on Monday, February 27.

During Spring Training, the Mets lost 14 players, 11 from the Major League Squad due to the World Baseball Classic.

The Mets played this well as he played in three games and once again, Tebow was outclassed by going 1-10 with four strikeouts and a .100 batting average.

His first hit on Monday came off Miami Marlins right-handed pitcher Kyle Lobstein.

For New York, it was an opportunity to boost attendance for the three games and cash in on merchandise sales.

There has been no shortage of standing ovations at Port. Saint Lucie's First Data Field.

I will say that thanks to name recognition, Tebow got a better opportunity to even play in these games more so than any other prospect in the minor leagues.

But now the question remains, can Tebow tough it out in the Minor Leagues with long bus rides and much lower paychecks?

I do believe that Tebow will put fans in the stands wherever he plays.

If he ever develops into a good left-handed hitter, this might boost his chances to progress and get another shot down the line to advance in Minor League Baseball. A team can never have enough good left-handed bats.

There is an adage in baseball that if you're a good hitter, you'll get noticed and promoted. I've seen it happen many times in my 35 plus years covering baseball.

I don't see Tebow having money issues since he has other opportunities outside of baseball.

I'll be curious to see how he handles the long bus rides.

His Minor League Salary will amount to what a Summer Camp Counselor will earn.

If he doesn't make it in baseball and he's even said that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing he's ever done, at least he'll know that Michael Jordan never made it to the Major Leagues.

There is nothing wrong with being in the same sentence as Jordan.

I do wish Tebow well in attempting his endeavor and I hope he proves me wrong when I predict, he won't play in the Major Leagues.

He should have paid his dues and stayed with football that made him lots of money and famous.

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From Tim Tebow to Vince Young, the former standout QB at Texas.

Young was drafted in 2006 in the first round, third overall by the Tennessee Titans.

With Texas in 2005, Young won a BCS National Championship and a Rose Bowl MVP.

In the NFL, Young would play six seasons with the Titans and the Philadelphia Eagles and played in two Pro Bowls.

He amassed 8,964 passing yards with 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions. Young rushed for 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Young would get tryouts from the Buffalo Bills (2012) Green Bay Packers (2013) and Cleveland Browns (2014) but he was unable to make those squads.

He retired and began working with Texas, does TV Work on the Longhorn Network, owns a Steakhouse along with a Real Estate Brokerage.

In early February, Young was added to the negotiation list of the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Part of the attraction for Young was the interest shown in him by Chris Jones,

The Roughriders Head Coach/General Manager went out of his way to get Young's phone number from Mark Speer, who coached against Young when the latter was a star in the Houston High School Ranks.

There is no better opportunity than having a coach who believes in you.

Young's talents should be well suited for the longer and wider field of the CFL where midfield is the 55-yard line.

Once Young made up his mind to make a comeback, his agent Leigh Steinberg moved swiftly to get his client signed. Young signed a one-year contract (with a club option for a second year).

The 33-year old Young signed a contract on March 9, 2017 and a Press Conference was held to introduce Young as the team's new signal caller.

Steinberg and Young's plan is that they're looking to make Vince as good of a player as possible in the CFL. The plan is to win Grey Cups.

Just an FYI, former NFL Running Back and Texas Longhorn Ricky Williams played one season for the Toronto Argonauts.

So when you think about whether Tebow makes it with the Mets or whether Young plays well in the CFL, one thing remains consistent.

Both players are hard workers and haven't lost their competitiveness to compete and see where their sports careers take them.

Since they're "Young Enough" to turn them around or let's put it this way, Young and Tebow have Unfinished Business to take care of.

I have a gut feeling that Young could make it to the NFL in a couple years if he has a couple productive years North Of The Border.

As for Tebow, it's anybody's guess as to what he'll try next.

I wish them well.

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