The legacy of Peyton Manning

 

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I know, I know…

People that know me are probably thinking “No this dude isn’t going to sass (shout out to Perry LOL) Peyton Manning right now!”

I wont.

I will give credit for one of the greatest careers we have ever seen.

Some people were saying before Super Bowl 50 that Peyton’s legacy was already intact, win or lose.  That’s false because we keep score…of everything.  American sports fans are enamored by numbers more than we care to realize.  And two Super Bowl wins looks much better than a 1-3 mark in the big game, no matter how you slice it.

Do I think Peyton Manning is the greatest QB ever? No…but that’s not a bad thing.  Its kind of hard to designate THE GOAT in a position where there are so many other-worldly talents that have played the game at its highest level.  Unless its a clear cut decision ala Michael Jordan in basketball, there is really no such thing as THE GOAT in any particular sport.  What I will say, is Peyton is indeed in the top tier of QB’s that ever played the game.

The Joe Montana/Johnny Unitas/Dan Marino/Tom Brady class….he is there and that is something to cherish and praise.

I have been following Manning since a little ESPN show called Scholastic Sports America in the early 90s.  He was the top ranked player in the nation going into college, then at Tennessee he was the best QB in the land, but couldn’t get over the hump and defeat the rival Florida Gators.  It seemed as if his career would have the same sort of feeling of emptiness until his Colts finally defeated the Patriots in the 06 title game.  Every player has a proverbial monkey on his back, The Patriots and Tom Brady was that monkey.  Winning the Super Bowl that season was the icing of the cake.  A career that was predicted to win multiple Super Bowls had finally won his first.  Last night fulfilled that ultimate goal.  Its not unlike other superstars who won their last game as a Super Bowl Champion.

John Elway and Jerome Bettis didn’t have to play lights out to win their last games, nor should they have had to…just like Peyton.  I believe this was his last game, and if it was, no one will remember how he played during the season/playoffs, they will remember the ring and that’s a really cool thing.

Chocolate Covered Ants review

 

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I’ve lived in DC all my life, and I’m still in awe of many unearthed jewels this city has buried within the city limits.  One such place is the Anacostia Playhouse, which I had never heard of until I was recommended to see a play there called Chocolate Covered Ants. To say it was a pleasure and privilege to attend the show is an understatement.

The play was presented by Restoration Stage http://www.restorationstage.biz/ and is currently the only all black theater group in the DMV area.

The play itself is a real deep, heavy look at the plight of the African American male through the research of a professor at a woman’s college who is actually researching the plight of the black woman and the last leg of her research is black men, to see if their actions have any deep effects on our women.

The intimacy of the Anacostia Playhouse added to the aura of the play itself and at times became so heavy that I, myself looked at myself in the proverbial mirror and even opened up previous wounds in my life I didn’t know I even had.

I truly recommend anyone in the next week or so to check this play out as it ends its run on Sunday, February 7th.  It was great. Thank you for the recommendation :)

To get your tickets, please visit Restoration Stage’s website by clicking here. Or call Restoration Stage at
(202) 714-0646 to order your tickets.

 

 

 

 

Wizards at midseason? Still a question mark

 

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Coming into this huge season for the Washington Wizards, two underlying issues were on the agenda.  One, would they overplay their hand on the pursuit of Kevin Durant and will this team full of square pegs for round holes keep itself competitive in an improving Eastern Conference.

Lets answer the first question, the overplay.  Yes, the Wizards have stacked up all their chips in a grand attempt to woo DC native Kevin Durant to sign as a free agent this summer.  Do I believe it was the wrong strategy? I honestly don’t think so.  Currently as roster is constructed, there is the need for one more superstar to take the team to the next level, why not put everything on the table for this special talent, even if its a pipedream.  As we have seen for decades in the NBA, superstars win titles.  Thats just a fact.  The more talent you have on the roster, the better chance you truly have for winning major  hardware in June.  Now, I don’t believe that we will sign him because I think he will resign in Oklahoma City but its better to try (or atleast be in contention to try) than to not have a shot at all.

Secondly, for all of the funky positions that players on the roster have had to play this season either because of the injury factor (most missed games by injury in the league) or by roster construction, the new “Pace and Space” offensive system hasn’t worked the way we all envisioned it to.  Not having a true stretch big really hurts what the offense is supposed to accomplish.  Jared Dudley has done a yeoman’s job trying to be that guy, but at this point of his career, he shouldn’t be the main guy opposing defenses have to acknowledge on that end of the floor.  Guys like Otto Porter and Kris Humphries have tried to stretch the floor but as of today are not able to do that on a consistent basis.

 

As I stated earlier, the injury bug ravaged this team in the first half.  Brad Beal started off the season on fire averaging over 20 points per game and becoming that guy we all wanted him to be, but again a stress fracture in his leg caused him to miss 20 games and is now on a minutes restrictions.  If that wasn’t enough, Nene missed 19 games himself.  Add off season pickup Alan Anderson to the injury heap as he has not seen the floor this season.  Multiple games missed by Drew Gooden, Humphries, Porter, and Gary Neal has given coach Randy Wittman very little to work with at any given moment.

 

It has taken a yeoman’s effort from our resident All-Star John Wall for this team to hover around the .500 mark at this point in the season.  During the first month of the season, Wall was, for lack of a better term, lackluster.  After some self reflecting, he came out in December and played the best basketball of his life and earned December Player of the Month in the Eastern Conference, the first for the Wizards franchise since 2006.  Wall also won Player of the Week for the week of January 17th as well.  Without his stellar play, this team would be competing wit the likes of the Lakers and Sixers for the #1 overall selection in the next draft.

 

All in all, this team, when healthy, can make a run for the playoffs.  Four games out of the divisional lead isn’t an insurmountable lead but something needs to change.  Whether its using one of the pieces on the roster for an upgrade or what.  The inconsistency is killing the fan base.  There is starting to be an apathetic feel for the team and that shouldn’t be the case because the team is still growing.  But lethargic losses to the likes of the Lakers, Blazers etc are causing this team to become an afterthought in its own city.

 

 

We liked that…but TALENT matters

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Good season fellas.

I am proud of what the team accomplished this season.

But at the end of the day, talent matters.

Today in the NFC Wild Card matchup between my Skins and the Green Bay Packers, I watched a top tier QB do what top tier QB’s are PAID to do, beat an inferior product and make winning plays when it mattered.

Was that a product of a defense that didn’t bring their best effort today? Sure…but in the playoffs, even the BEST QBs are humbled by the bright lights and better teams.  Hall of Famers such as Peyton Manning have a losing playoff record.

The reason I bring this up, is the inevitable new contract that the Redskins now have to pay Kirk Cousins to remain our starter.  Don’t get ANY of what I’m about to say twisted, because HE earned the job, HE earned the new deal he’s about to receive, just look at it from the larger point of view and not as a Skins fan for a moment.

Kirk’s new deal will pay him probably around the 16-17 million dollar area.  I call that area the 2nd Tier QB Area…the Carson Palmers/ Matt Staffords/Tony Romos/Jay Cutlers of the world.  A couple of those guys that fit in that criteria have singlehandedly had to win ballgames for their teams, have had to use their singular talent to force results whether good/bad or indifferent, that is what’s expected once you reach that level on the pay scale.

With Kirk, as GREAT as he was the last 8 games of the season (and he was just that again, don’t get it twisted), he will never have a extended run of great quarterbacking as he had in these last 8 games.  Why? Because he just isn’t talented enough.  And that’s not a knock for him, 99% of the QBs that have ever played the game have had a run like that.  He will probably regress to the mean of the other Tier-type QBs because that’s what he is.  He CAN improve alot of things in his game, and he probably will, but honestly, he needs upper echelon talent around him (Jordan Reed, Desean Jackson etc) for his maximum effectiveness.

Just look at the QB’s that he will be grouped with once he signs his new deal:

Matt Ryan

Joe Flacco

Ryan Tannehill

Jay Cutler

Tony Romo

Matt Stafford

Alex Smith

Carson Plamer

Andy Dalton

Sam Bradford

 

A funky mix huh?

Going into next season, is Kirk as talented as these guys? Some yes, some no…

To me, this was one of the basis of the whole Robert Griffin issue.  In the new NFL, you need a Top Tier QB to win meaningful ballgames.  Top Tier guys are the most talented.  Talent sometimes wins games that you just aren’t supposed to win.  Talent makes plays most players just cant make.

 

All season, I’ve compared this season Kirk has had to the season Ryan Fitzpatrick had in Buffalo which was so great that they thought it was time to sign him to a massive extension WHILE that said season was still in session.  We all know how that turned out because he is now a NY Jet.

 

Fitzpatrick is a starting NFL QB…but when it was time to boogie in Week 16 vs Buffalo to make the playoffs, he threw 3 INTs in the 4th quarter when it mattered.  A more talented guy maybe doesn’t do that,  hell I dunno.  But in those pressure packed moments, its usually par for the course for the least talented QB to make crucial errors.

Obviously we need help and continuity in all phases, Kirk DEFINITELY needs a run game and I think with our new front office hierarchy, it looks like we have the start of putting the correct pieces in place for Kirk to grow and develop, I just hope Skins fans aren’t expecting him to produce top tier fireworks when he may just be the box of sprinklers you give your kids on the 4th of July.

Hail….

 

With best start in team history, Capitals are flying high

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With apologies to the the other team juggernauts in the NHL currently, right now, the Washington Capitals are the best team in the sport.  After Saturday’s 3-1 win vs their closest adversary in the Eastern Conference, the Montreal Canadians, the Caps now have an unfathomable 54 points in only 34 games played for a record of 26-6-2.  The 54 points are the best ever at this point in team history and give them a 10 point lead in the Atlantic Division (over the New York Rangers) and simultaneously the Eastern Conference.

 

One thing is for certain with this team, they are lead by perennial MVP candidate Alexander Ovechkin and his longtime linemate Nicklas Backstrom but whenever  a team seems to overachieve as the Caps are right now, the influx of new blood and the best goaltender in the league are the main catalysts.   Second year stud center Evgeny Kuznetsov has taken a leap to another level, tied with Backstrom with a team leading 30 points, newcomers Justin Williams and TJ Oshie have contributed 10 and 13 goals apiece as the Caps are the only team in the NHL to have six players with 10 or more goals this season.

 

One of the troubling patterns during the original “Rock the Red” era Capitals was the fact that the team either didn’t stick with a goalie or chose not to develop one of the young goalies in the farm system.  Under Coach Barry Trotz, 5th year goalie Braden Holtby has rewarded the patience of his coach and organization by becoming the best goalie in the league with a league leading 22 wins in just 28 starts.  His 1.92 Goals Against Average (GAA) is again the best in the NHL.  Do you sense a pattern here?

 

Coach Trotz has pushed all the right buttons since his arrival last season. He finally has a team that is a two-way juggernaut that can beat you in multiple ways even if Ovechkin isn’t the  main guy scoring all the goals.  With the All Star break approaching, its going to be nice watching a team with legitimate championship goals try to deliver on such a lofty goal each and every evening.

The Kobe Bryant Retirement Tour hits DC

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As a point of reference, I am not the biggest Kobe Bryant fan.  Some may have concluded years back that I was one of the oft-mentioned “Kobe Haters”.  But one thing is for certain, no matter what some people may feel about Kobe the Man or even “type” of player Kobe Bryant was, there is no denying the impact he left on the league and the legion of fans that engulfed the Verizon Center (to the dismay of many) on Wednesday night.

After the Wizards won a huge game in Cleveland the night before, people treated this game vs the 2-win Los Angeles Lakers as an afterthought.  Mr. Bryant was having none of that, putting on an exemplary performance for the ages with 31 points which included two lead taking jumpers within the last minute of play to lead his Lakers to victory 108-104.

The final score was insignificant in the grander scheme, as every fan of the sport was there to witness, one last time, one of the true greats of the game.  To say Bryant has struggled this season has been an understatement, but with the announcement of his retirement on Sunday, the season has turned from an ongoing joke to one last curtain call for the future Hall of Famer.  I have rarely attended a sporting event and not cared who won or lost but by the middle of the fourth quarter, I, along with the sellout crowd of over 20,000 knew we were witnessing history.

If watching on TV seemed like it was a road game for the Wizards, it certainly looked that way inside the arena.  At least 65% of the crowd were Laker/Kobe fans and they were rambunctious from the opening tip-off.  As Kobe scored 14 of his points in the 4th quarter in a virtual duel with Wizards point guard John Wall down the stretch, the crowd was as emphatic as I’ve ever heard in the Verizon Center.  Sadly to say, the pro-Laker crowd drowned out any and all Wizards supporters this night.  But for this one night, it felt alright with me, a basketball historian who understands the place Kobe Bryant holds in the hearts of many fans.  Fans who long for the passion and determination not seen a lot in today’s generation of players.

After watching Bryant soak up all of the cheers from his adoring fans one last time in DC, I was reminded why we love this game so much.  Kobe gave it all, on the end of a back to back, in the middle of an East Coast road trip when he could have just shut it down and coasted thru the dregs of his final campaign.  But he didn’t, and that is one of the reasons he is beloved by so many.  I am a believer.  Thank you Kobe.