Monday, August 20, 2012

Rise and Shine?

August 20 

                   The Miami Dolphins have arguably have had one of the most talked about training camps since the days of Dan Marino. First, the team signed on to the popular HBO show, Hard Knocks, which gives viewers unprecedented access to a NFL training camp.  With this added obstacle, Joe Philbin already knew that his first year as an NFL head coach would not go under the radar. Secondly, the Dolphins brought in aging loudmouth wide receiver, Chad Johnson, who had just come off an atrocious season in New England and was looking for a rebirth in South Beach. However, Johnson was cut only a week into camp due to a August 12th arrest. So, to add to to the chaos of Hard Knocks and Johnson. the team had a 3 tier quarterback battle between David Garrard, Matt Moore, and first round draft pick Ryan Tannehill. 

                    All three quarterbacks had something to prove entering camp. Garrard entered camp with something to prove after not starting in the league in 2011. Moore arrived in camp as the team favorite and presumptive starter for week 1. Then there was Mr. Ryan Tannehill, who was drafted eighth in the 2012 NFL Draft after only starting 16 games in college at Texas A&M. 

                  Coach Philbin knew that there was a lot on his shoulders once camp got underway.  As camp began, Tannehill was not present due to contract negations with the team. So, the first couple of days became a duel between two fledgling veterans. Just a few days into camp, it was announced that David Garrard would begin working with the first team in practice after a mediocre first few days by Moore. Then, four days into the Dolphins' camp, Tannehill arrived ready to prove his recently signed $13 million contract. 

                    Now with all three quarterbacks in camp, Coach Philbin and Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman could begin to decide who would start week 1 versus the Houston Texans. In just one week it was determined that former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, David Garrard, would emerge as the top QB in camp.  However, just before the Dolphins would start preseason play against the Tampa Bay Bucs, team doctors found that Garrard required arthroscopic knee surgery and would be out for at least a month. After the news was delivered, Coach Philbin quickly appointed Moore as the starter of the first preseason game for Miami.  Miami lost to the Buccaneers 20-7. 

             Though discouraged by team's loss to Tampa, Coach Philbin was able to observe Tannehill in action. Tannehill , in the game, completed 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards including an eleven yard touchdown to tight end Charles Clay. Afterwards Ryan emerged as the perfect replacement for Garrard, because of the mobility and accuracy that Tannehill showed in his first ever NFL game.  Throughout the next week in training camp, Tannehill was quickly climbing up the rungs to become the starting quarterback for the Dolphins.

          In the next preseason game against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, Tannehill was not impressive, only throwing for 100 yards and completing less than 50% of his passes. Despite the weak performance in the game against the Panthers, Head Coach Joe Philbin determined that Tannehill is the future      and on Monday announced that the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft will become the seventeenth starting quarterback of the Dolphins since Marino.
      Due to the poor play by Moore and the potential promise shown by the former Aggie, the decision comes as no surprise to many, including myself. But what must be asked is this, Will Tannehill be able to maintain his position over an injury ridden thirty four year old? In my opinion, Garrard will not start a game for the Miami Dolphins ever again, and it looks like a new era in Miami has begun, the Tannehill era. If the first year quarterback proves to be successful then the sun will be shining on South Beach for years to come.

Alex Hanon
Sensational Sports

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Number Nine will always fly in Nashville

                   As we celebrate the greatness of our country on this 4th of July, we must not forget what happened three years ago on this day. Many in the NFL and sports world lost a true legend, Steve McNair. McNair was shot and killed in a hotel room three years ago. The alleged shooter, McNair's mistress,Sahel Kazemi, then shot herself. Making the crime a murder-suicide.

                 Many in Nashville, Tennessee, where McNair resided, as well as many other football fans throughout the world were stunned to hear the news that one of the great quarterback's of the early 2000's had passed away.

                 McNair was not only a great ambassador to the NFL but also the city of Nashville. McNair had numerous philanthropic efforts throughout the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee that benefited the citizens and fans of both Tennessee and the Titans organization. 
Although fans were still disgruntled with the ownership for trading .the beloved "Air McNair" to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2006 off season, fans stilled poured out support once it was pronounced that their former star QB was dead. Shortly after news broke of Steve's death, Titans owner Bud Adams said the following, 

         "We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair's passing today. He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with his untimely passing." (AP). 

                McNair famed seasons took place during his stay in Tennessee. Steve wore the Titan blue for eleven seasons. At the 1995 NFL Draft, McNair was selected number three overall by the former Houston Oilers, now the Tennessee Titans. McNair first season of starting came in 1997, and just two years later, Mcnair helped lead the Titans to an appearance in the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams. The Titans lost the game 23-16, as on the final play of the game Titans Wide Receiver, Kevin Dyson, was tackled one yard short of the goal line, securing victory for the Rams. 

              Then in 2002 the Titans made another run to the Super Bowl, with an 11 and 5 record in the regular season. However, in the AFC championship game the Oakland Raiders beat the Titans 41-24.
                     However, The very next season for McNair turned out to be his best. McNair had reached the pinnacle of  a player's performance in the NFL by winning an NFL MVP. However, McNair had to share the honor with Co-MVP, Peyton Manning. McNair finished the season with 24 passing touchdowns, over 3,000 passing yards, and just seven interceptions. 

             McNair was then traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2006, along with long time Titan wide receiver Derrick Mason. Fans of the Titans were stunned to hear that their long time quarterback ,who led the team to their only Super Bowl, was traded. McNair spent only two seasons in Baltimore before retiring in 2008. 

             Many  fans of the Titans and McNair, including myself, are still sad over the loss of the great quarterback and man. McNair was an icon in the state of Tennessee. Whenever a sports fan thinks of the Tennessee Titans he or she thinks of Steve McNair. McNair, in my mind, should be a Hall of Famer,  "Air McNair' had over 30,000 passing yards and 174 passing touchdowns. McNair will also go down as being of the great players in Oilers/Titans franchise along the likes of Warren Moon, Earl Campbell, and Bruce Matthews. McNair is the icon of the Tennessee Titans and ,in my mind, he always will be.

Alex Hanon
Sensational Sports 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tiger's win at Congressional.

Yesterday in Bethesda, Maryland the king of golf may have returned. Tiger Woods won the AT&T National at the Congressional Country Club on Sunday with a score of eight under. Woods finished his victory with a two under par score in the final round. Woods was paired along with Bo Van Pelt and Brendon De Jonge.

Entering the final round, De Jonge was the outright leader of the tournament with a score of seven under, however he struggled in the final day of the tournament by shooting a six over par, including four consecutive bogeys on holes 9, 10, 11, and 12. Woods’ other competitor, Bo Van Pelt, was battling the former number one golfer in the world, all day Sunday. Whenever Tiger made an impressive shot or putt, Van Pelt would match it.

The entire tournament would come down to one hole, the 16th. Both players entered the hole nine under for the tournament. Both hit mediocre shots off the tee, but both men had open opportunities to score a birdie on the last par five of the round. Van Pelt’s second shot put him in a good situation that could result in a birdie if Van Pelt could chip the ball onto the green. Tiger’s second shot put his ball farther back of Van Pelt’s, but if hit right, the ball could land on the green for a birdie opportunity.

Tiger’s third shot was hit high and over the green into the rough, putting him in a position that would most likely result in a bogey on the hole for Woods. After Woods’ horrendous third shot, Van Pelt looked to cease the moment, and take control of the tournament.

As Van Pelt was thinking of the positives of making this critical shot, Van Pelt was preparing for his critical swing. As Van Pelt swung, the club head barely hit the face of the ball, causing the ball to go a miniscule distance. Van Pelt then chipped his ball onto the green still giving him an opportunity to save par on this difficult par five. Woods then hit a marvelous fourth shot onto the green giving him a chance to save par as well.  However, both missed critical par putts, and once again it was an even match between Van Pelt and Woods.

. The threesome now headed to the 17th tee. On the 17th Van Pelt would succumb to pressure by hitting his tee shot into the rough on the far right side of the hole. Tiger’s ball was hit beautifully off the tee and down the fairway giving Woods momentum.

The day did not end well for Van Pelt after the difficult 16th he would go onto bogey the 71st and the 72nd holes. Finishing the tournament six under par, Tiger, after a needed par on the 17th, concluded his week at Congressional by paring the final hole of the tournament, thus clinching his 74th career win on the PGA tour.
            Tiger’s win at Congressional breaks a tie with Jack Nicklaus for 2nd in  wins on the PGA tour. Tiger is now only needs eight more PGA Tour victories to tie Sam Snead for the most wins on the tour. The win for the Tiger is his third of the season.  Making him the first player on tour this season to have three wins. Woods’ other victories on the tour this season came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament. Woods’ recent wins have now ascended him to the top of the Fedex Cup standings.

            Despite Tiger’s recent wins on tour, many of his critics will still doubt him until he wins another major tournament. Many believe that Tiger will not be the old Tiger unless he wins a major. However, I believe that Tiger is back because he has shown that he can consistently compete for wins on tour every weekend and that he can instill fear in his opponent’s at their most critical times. For these reasons and more, I believe that Tiger Woods is truly back.

Alex Hanon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anthony Davis: The Different Kind of Star

                 Tomorrow night in the 2012 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Hornets will select Kentucky freshmen phenom, Anthony Davis, to nobody's surprise. Davis will become the starting center of the team  that will be surrounded by proven role players, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza. During his tender at Kentucky, Davis won several  accolades including national Player of the Year awards from the Associated Press and the Naismith Foundation. The 6"10 center also won the Defensive Player of the Year and was named an All American. The freshman phenom ultimately led the Wildcats to the team to a 38-2 record and a National Championship game win in the Final Four against Kansas.

                 Davis comes into the NBA as being one of the most talked about number one picks in recent memory. Many scouts complement him as being a freak of nature. A man who grew from being a point guard in his high school years to a starting center in the NBA. During his one year at Kentucky, the general public observed his incredible shot blocking and rebounding abilities. Many believe that once he steps on the court in New Orleans, Davis will have an immediate impact on the team. Davis will quickly become the focus of the team's goals on the defensive end of the ball as well as helping out in the paint on the offensive side.

                However, Davis may not develop into the fully fleshed superstar, one who is very expressive to the media,  that many may expect. Davis seems to be a more reserved athlete that may not be as flashy as a star such as Lebron or a Dwight Howard. His abilities as a player and his reserved attitude make him an easy comparison to Tim Duncan. Duncan was a phenomenal young talent at Wake Forest in the mid 90's. Duncan than became the number one pick by a middle of the road franchise in San Antonio. Duncan then became a superstar in the league thanks to winning four NBA championships with the same franchise with players such as David Robinson, Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

               Tim Duncan has turned into one of the NBA's most respected players of all time because of his consistency throughout his career. Duncan is one of the athletes in sports that kids can really look up to, a player that not only looks after himself but his team and his city. Every thing that Duncan is associated with is performed with the up most class and respect for both himself and his team. You never see Duncan go cry out to the media get his coach fired, like a Howard,  or complain about his team's play. He just goes to practice the very next day with  the  mind that  thinks that yesterday is the past and the next day is a new beginning and another chance for success. 

              Anthony Davis is destined to become the next Duncan. Davis brings the right attitude to the arena everyday and is the ultimate team player. Selfishness is not in his vocabulary. Davis is put into a situation that can turn it around instantly. With one of the most underrated players in the league in Eric Gordon and a young and upcoming coach in Monty Williams. The Hornets can make the playoffs in Davis' rookie season while along the way  potentially helping him win the NBA's Rookie of the Year. Davis will also quickly become one of the best big men in the Western Conference with the likes of Andrew Bynum, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Love and Tim Duncan. If Davis stays healthy he could help lead a city that almost lost its pro basketball franchise, to the promise land by winning several championships for its new owner, Tom Benson. whose Saints rose the city's spirits after the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, and returned New Orleans to its former glory as being one of the great American cities, by winning Super Bowl XLIV. Davis will truly become the center of attention in both New Orleans and the NBA as soon as he arrives in the big easy.