Miami Dolphins

Ricky Williams loses drug test appeal

So Ricky has lost his appeal… and nobody really cares. Dolphins fans are sick of the soap opera, Nick Saban has Ronnie Brown, and the other players won’t have to answer any questions about Ricky after training camp. Hell, not even Ricky cares. In what is apparent to almost everyone, this is how Ricky wanted it. He got the $8.6M monkey off his back, played the full 2005 season and now can be free to smoke all the pot and practice all the yoga he wants.

In every interview since he left the team in 2004, it was evident that Ricky Williams didn’t like football and didn’t want to be a football player. Sure, he said all the right things about bring re-energized and enjoying his time with Nick Saban and the Dolphins, but in between the lines, you could read his desire to just get back to Australia or India or Marin County. He says he’ll be back in 2007 but the odds on that are about the same as Vince Young joining Mensa.

So this is the end of the Ricky Williams saga. A can’t miss athlete whose legacy will be more for pot smoking and posing on the cover of ESPN in a bridal dress with Mike Ditka than anything he did on the field. But it’s not a tale of wasted talent. Ricky just did what he wanted to do. Who are we to judge?

[Miami Herald]: Dolphins must run without Ricky
[Miami Herald]: Now Ricky has time to find himself
[Miami Sports Dudes]: Debating the effect of Ricky’s suspension

NFL General

Computer is smarter than your head coach

Hello Barry Switzer

The mad scientists at End Game Technologies have come up with a computer model, ZEUS, that can correctly pick the next play to run. Using data from NFL game logs and the current situation, the computer can run a million game simulations and tell the coach which play he should call next that will result in the highest game winning opportunity.

Here’s an example:

Coaches often lose sight of this goal by focusing on points rather than the statistical expectation of winning. Points certainly matter in an NFL game, but not all points have the same value.
Consider a team trailing by 2 points on the last play of the game at their opponents 2 yard line: the extra 4 points that come with a touchdown in lieu of a field goal have no value whatsoever. The field goal is the optimal GWC choice. In this simple example, if the team went for the TD and succeeded they would still be charged with a large blunder even though it didn’t affect the outcome of the game. This is because the chosen play will lose on average. ZEUS focuses on the methodology of optimal play-calling not the short term results.

They are quick to stress that ZEUS is intended to be a coaches aide and not a replacement. Considering the salaries that coaches make, you can believe that these units won’t ever make it into team headquarters. However, we see a future where every football analyst has one of these bad boys and plugs in the data for critical decision and god help the coach that makes the wrong call. Basically, everytime your boneheaded coach makes a dumb call, you’ll know about it.

This article on this site about onsides kicks supports what we’ve been saying for years: the onsides kick is severely underutilized. This is purely our own thinking… Let’s say your team has just scored and needs the ball back with 1:59 to go. You have two time-outs left. If you kick off and stop them at the 20 yard line, so what? If they get a first down, you’re done. Now, let’s say you onside kick. If you recover, well, great. (ZEUS says there’s a 25% recovery chance.) If not, the opposing team has the ball at, say, your 45 yard line. If they get a first down, you’re done. So what’s the difference between your defense having to stop them on your 45 or their 20? Sure, you have less field to goal if you force them to punt from their 20, but the biggest factor in this situation isn’t the field position, it’s possession. Why not give yourself the extra 25% chance of getting the ball back right away?

Back to ZEUS…

The company states that over a course of the season, callign the correct PAT and 4th down play can result in an increase between .6 and 1.25 wins . They also claim that ZEUS can help make decisions regarding the GWC (game winning chances) of the #1 ranked kicker vs the #32 ranked kicker. So no more terrible contracts and overvaluing of players by GMs.

Of course, if any of this comes to pass, football won’t nearly be as fun to watch. If we can’t second guess and curse at the coaches, who are we going to blame for our team losing again? Oh yeah, the refs.

(Story via

[Science Daily]: New Computer Model Of Football Can Help NFL Coaches Call The Next Play, Evaluate Playe

Video Games

Madden 2007 is trying to wreck Shaun Alexander’s season

Sorry Seattle fans

EA Sports announced that Shaun Alexander, the Seattle Seahawks $62M man is going to be on the cover of Madden 2007. Seattle fans and Mike Holmgren are already cursing EA but Shaun is just happy to collect the big endorsement check.

To be on the cover of Madden NFL 07 is a big milestone in my career since I have always been a huge fan of this franchise. EA SPORTS is focusing on the running game in this year’s version, so I was honored when I was chosen to be on the cover to represent the improved running game.

We’ll see what Alexander has to say when he becomes the latest victim of the Madden cover jinx. Here’s the easiest Fantasy Football advice you’re going to get: DO NOT take Shaun Alexander with your first round pick.

Oh, the jinx is very real folks. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vegas odds for Seattle winning the Super Bowl just dropped in half. Here’s a rundown of covers and actual performance since Eddie George in 2001.

  • 2001 Eddie George: His jinx took a year to kick in but his rushing production went from 1509 yards to 939 the year after appearing on the cover.
  • 2002 Daunte Culpepper: Daunte went from fantasy stud (33 TDs and 3937 yards) to fantasy dud (14 TDs and 2612 yards) and finally succumbed to a knee injury.
  • 2003 Marshall Faulk: Total production went from 2147 to 1490 all purpose yards, a 44% decrease. The Rams went from Super Bowl runner up to 7-9.
  • 2004 Michael Vick: Broke his ankle in a preseason game. The quickest jinx in Madden history.
  • 2005 Ray Lewis: Ray Lewis avoids the cover jinx… because he was just standing there.. didn’t see a thing. Nope. Didn’t see a thing.
  • 2006 Donovan McNabb: DMac got into a highly publicized feud with Terrell Owens and then had his season cut short by a sports hernia.

So what’s in store for Shaun Alexander? Here are the official SC odds:

  • 5-1 Torn ACL or MCL
  • 4-1 Ankle injury
  • 3-1 Sharp decline in production
  • 20-1 Broken ankle on horse collar tackle
  • 50-1 no injury
  • 100-1 Breaks hand while washing his truck

[Video Game Generation]: Seahawks MVP Shaun Alexandar Soars on Madden NFL 07 Cover

Green Bay Packers

Favre passes T.O. for biggest ego

Favre loves him some Favre

Brett Favre has quietly passed T.O. for having the biggest ego in sports. On Saturday, after a “family friend” (we’re giving 3-1 odds that it was actually Favre with a Darth Vader voice changer) alerted reporters that Favre would make an announcement about his decision, a whole bunch of reporters showed up at his charity golf tournament just to be chastised by Favre.

What did you guys waste a trip down here for? Y’all brought the cold weather, too.

Perhaps the reason the media wasted a trip down there is that you wanted some pub for your little golf tournament and you wanted to be in the papers again so Packers fans and management can beg you to stay for one more year.

Last week, Favre caught some flak for saying “What are they going to do, cut me?” He defended that statement this weekend with “If you know me, you’re not concerned about that comment.” What? So, if we knew you at all, we’d know you’re a selfish arrogant s-o-b and wouldn’t be concerned about that statement. Gotcha.

Finally, if you want to see some very different reports of the same event, check out the links below for the articles from a Biloxi MS newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, and the Associated Press. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel even has an article by Bill Glauber subtitled Favre is just like everyone else: Big decisions take time. The difference is that most people quietly make a decision and go with it. They don’t hog the media spotlight in an effort to gratify their own ego.

[Sun Herald (Mississippi)]: For Favre, it’s still a no-decision

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]: Favre wants a Super Bowl contender

[AP]: Favre’s scoop? He’s still firmly undecided