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FROM THE NOSEBLEEDS

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There is one play that is so rare, so unusual, that it has only been successful on five occasions in almost 15,000 NFL games played since the league’s inception in 1920. And only once has it changed the outcome of a game.

There is a little known, obscure rule called the “Fair Catch Kick” rule that is obviously a holdover from the rugby days.  Here is the description of the rule from NFL.com:

Fair Catch Kick –
After a fair catch, the receiving team has the option to put the ball in play by a snap or a fair catch kick (field goal attempt), with fair catch kick lines established ten yards apart. All general rules apply as for a field goal attempt from scrimmage. The clock starts when the ball is kicked. (No tee permitted.)

For the laymen out there (like me), it means that the ball can be placed at the spot of the fair catch and, just like a kickoff in windy conditions, is held by a placeholder (so there is no snap). The rest of the offense lines up even with the kicker and cannot pass scrimmage until the ball is kicked. The defensive team must be at least ten yards from scrimmage and cannot rush until the ball is kicked, therefore no effective block attempt can be made.

There are a myriad of reasons as to why this doesn’t happen more often, the most obvious being that a fair catch must be made within field goal range.  This must also happen with minimal time left on the clock, otherwise the offense will most likely take a few snaps in an attempt to advance the ball or score a touchdown.

In 1968, the Chicago Bears travelled to Lambeau Field to play their biggest rivals, the Green Bay Packers.  The Bears got a career day out of future Hall of Fame running back Gales Sayers as he set the club record for rushing yards in a game (205 yards on only 24 carries), but due to ineffective quarterback play (Virgil Carter, who began the season as the 4th string QB, was 5 for 14 for an anemic 51 yards) and an untimely mistake (a Sayers fumble halfway through the fourth quarter), the game was tied 10-10 late in the game.

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Bears assistant coach Abe Gibron approached head coach Jim Dooley with the idea.  With the Packers inside their own 20-yard line and preparing to punt, Gibron said, “Let’s get the fair catch when they punt so we can go for the free kick.”  Even though there was still more than thirty seconds left on the clock, the recent Sayers fumble and the fact that the Packers had blocked the previous Bears field goal attempt made this outlandish idea a plausible one.  And probably the best option to leave Green Bay with a W.

With Bears wideout Cecil Turner back to receive the punt from Donny Anderson, the historic play almost never happened.  “They told me to fair catch it no matter what, and I was a little nervous,” Turner said, having already dropped three passes that day. “The wind took the ball a little bit and I had to run to get it, and I clutched it in my belly real good.”

When the Bears coaching staff then called for the free kick, even some of the players were confused.  Tight end Austin Denney started to go out with the offensive unit until the coaches called him back.  Defensive lineman Willie Holman said, “I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  I never heard of such a play.”

With 26 seconds left on the clock, Mac Percival, a straight-on style kicker, went out onto the field to attempt the game winning 43-yard free kick (at the time, the goal posts were still situated at the front of the end-zone).

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Mac Percival is the only kicker in NFL history to kick a game-winning fair catch free kick.

“Well, we had no idea what (Coach Dooley) was talking about. In fact he had to tell us, ‘Well, you line up like you’re going to do a kickoff.’ Then Richie Petitbon had his leg out like he always does to hold it. An official came up and said: ‘No, you’re offsides. Pull your leg back so you won’t be offsides when you hold the ball.’ Then they told me to try to kick it, which was fairly easy because there was no rush and no hurry. It was kind of like just being out at practice. It was quite exciting,” Percival stated.

Percival nailed the 43-yarder, and the Bears stole a 13-10 victory.

The last successful fair catch kick happened in 1976 when Ray Wersching made a 45-yard free kick field goal for the Chargers, although it had no effect on the outcome of the game (the kick occurred at the end of the first half of play).  The last six attempts, all unsuccessful, have all come at the end of the first half and have all been attempts of at least 58 yards (73, 61, 60, 58, 68, and 69 yards respectively).

“People are still unaware of that rule, they just don’t know about that,” Percival said.

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– DJ Fitterman

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As the NBA Finals come to a close most sports fans will turn their attention to college football and the NFL, if they haven’t already. When did football become the giant that we all know and love? Most fans are more concerned about OTAs for their favorite teams than anything else going on in sports. All others sports have almost become things to pass the time until football season is here. It wasn’t always this way.

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October used to mean playoff baseball, now the only thing I’m concerned with in October is the Red River Rivalry and if the Texans are who we thought they were.  ESPN airs year around NFL and college football shows.  There is a 100 days till kickoff countdown college football and a three hour special dedicated to the release of the NFL schedule. I would love to say the rise of Fantasy Football is the cause but who plays Fantasy “college” Football.

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10 years ago you would have laughed if I told you ESPN agreed to pay The University of Texas 10-15M annually for the next 20 years to air a couple football games and Olympic sports. Who would have ever thought the Big 10 and Pac12 would have there own networks? Now the SEC has struck a deal of it’s own. Believe me,  these deals are based on football and football alone.  There is a reason the now debunk Big East never got a deal like that.  Basketball doesn’t move the needle. The last NFL TV deal was worth roughly 27 BILLION dollars.

Maybe in our busy worlds one game a week is all we have time for.  Maybe that’s all we have time to follow. Football is perfect for the world of instant gratification.   For three hours on every Saturday or Sunday we escape the daily grind.  The “Black Hole” in Oakland believe it or not isn’t full of misfits. Its filled with businessmen, blue and white-collar workers who are family men that just wanna let loose.

Outside of March Madness, how many of you are ever really glued to a sporting event that doesn’t include a pigskin?  Does it take an $80 Mayweather fight to do that?  A game 7? I’m not sure but I can pretty much guarantee most of you will be glued to the Broncos vs. Ravens opener to kickoff the NFL season along with LSU vs. TCU and Georgia vs. Clemson to open the college football weekend.  When was the last time you watched a baseball game from start to finish? How about a regular season NBA game?  Tell me how great watching four days of Masters coverage was?  You can’t, because you know you fell asleep.  Try to fall asleep during the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

Since the Super Bowl ended, National Signing Day has come and gone. I’m preparing for my fantasy football draft. I booked a trip to San Francisco in October to see the Texans. I’ve looked over the college football schedule more times than I can count.

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Is it football season yet?

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In April TrueFanView.com released a piece written by Joey Covers.  Joey lives in Las Vegas. His life is spent raising children with his wonderful wife and keeping a very close eye on the world of sports.  He wrote about how the NBA would drown us in silly commercials. He wrote the NBA playoff theme song would soon get on our nerves. He even predicted what artist that song would be performed by(Will.i.am). He nailed it, all of it. Joey even went as far as giving all the readers “the field” in betting on who went to the NBA Finals. Joey took the Heat and Thunder with this caveat, “unless injury prevents it”. It’s like he knew. It’s like he looked into his crystal ball and watched Russell Westbrook’s knee crack under Patrick Beverly’s pressure.

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This Joey Covers guy…..he’s good. Real good.

I was hoping with everything I had my Rockets would defy odds and somehow knock off the Thunder. Didn’t happen. At that point I was stuck watching the playoffs unfold with no real “rooting” interest. I wasn’t too concerned that the worst-case scenario could happen. I hoped Golden State would take care of my life long enemy in the NBA. Nope. I then looked to Memphis to do the job. They disappeared. So here I am on the eve of Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals dreading the awful fact that I have to watch the San Antonio Spurs compete for another title. It’s disgusting. And to make matters worse, we now all know that even when Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh disappear, LeBron James is capable of carrying the Heat to an NBA Finals.

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Worst. Case. Scenario.

Period.

I really hope at some point in this series all 10 players on the court flop at the same exact time and end up on the floor while the ball just bounces at midcourt. Imagine the fear of a Joey Crawford not knowing who to blow his whistle against while all of the SUPERSTARS lie on the court. That would be so awesome. History would be made.  It’s bad enough we have to hear the “who knows how this goes, each team sat their STARS each time they played” nonsense. I couldn’t care less who wins. Really, I do not care. Not even one little bit. The Heat with LeBron won their ring in a strike-shortened season. ASTERISK. The Spurs first title came the same way, after a 50 game season. Not to mention they’ve never won a ring back to back. ASTERISK. Remember how these two teams came to be? The Spurs sat every starter for an entire season to draft Duncan. The Heat have three guys who sipped drinks pool side and thought if they joined forces they could win NOT 1, NOT 2, NOT 3, NOT 4……you remember.

Miami Heat Introduce LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade

Enough of the ranting, I’ll get on with it.  For the Spurs to win they must continue the style of defense they used against Memphis. Popovich utilized the Spurs size to disrupt the Grizzlies on the defensive end. Each time the ball went into the post, Grizzly big men were swarmed by the Spurs big men with help from Kahwi Leonard. All those bodies and long arms really shut down Gasol and Randolph. Look for the Spurs to do this when the ball goes in the post to LeBron. The Spurs will GIVE Haslem and Bosh the outside shot. (note: My feelings are Haslem does not shoot as well as he did and Bosh will not shoot as poorly as he did against the Pacers.) On the offensive end it’s all about Tony Parker getting into the paint. He must score and allow that to set up Leonard and Danny Green for open shots. Duncan needs to be Duncan. How? He’s like 60 isn’t he? The same can be said for Manu. (I hate Manu. Like fire ant bite hate him. Only in sports, nothing personal.) No team has better role players than the Spurs. Year in, year out. I have no idea how it happens, it just does. So expect solid contributions from the Spurs bench and role players. Yawn.

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The Heat must do more to beat this Spurs team. Despite “t-shirt fans” claiming LeBron is the best ever in the history of man, he will not be able to save the Heat the way he did against the Pacers. Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade have to pick their play up. They flat out played poorly in the East Finals. Should we all expect them to “turn it on” for the Finals? Not me. Not against this Spurs defense. Ball movement and transition baskets are a must. Some how, some way, the Heat must control the glass. The more offensive possessions the Heat can create the better they will be. Speed the game up. Get out and run. Keeping Tony Parker in check is the single biggest factor here. Let him penetrate at will and it could be a short series. Again, keep the Spurs off the glass. And limit the open three. The Heat have to find a way to not get killed in the paint and recover to the arc and defend the three. Defend the three. The THREE, DEFEND IT!!!

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So who wins? I say, “Who cares?” I’ll watch but in no way do I care. I hate the Spurs. I can’t stand the Heat. (It’s more a Heat bandwagon thing than the team itself.) If I have to pick a winner, if you’re going to make me…….

Spurs in 6.

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Excuse me while I go barf.

Manuel Palomarez

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I am a Las Vegas resident. I’ve called the city my home for ten-plus years and pretty much seen and done it all. Quite frankly it’s just another city to me at this point.  The one unique thing about this city that you can’t find anywhere else in this country is legal sports handicapping.  Sure you can login to the numerous overseas accounts and place your wagers….  Bodog comes to mind. That is all well and good until your account gets locked or they delay your payment for months.  In fact, ninety BILLION Dollars was wagered this year on the Super Bowl alone while roughly just ninety-five million came from within our country’s borders.  This isn’t a post about the legalization of sports betting in the US. Its more about the enjoyment of a bet and its ties to sports.

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This starts when we are kids. An argument begins and there is only one way to handle it. BET ME! This was the ultimate put your money where your mouth is proposition and an instant way to settle an argument.  Watching your team lose and having to go to school the next day to fork over the five bucks was always miserable.  On the other hand being able to say, “I told you so” when your team won and getting paid was very fulfilling.  Growing up this was just the way it was. No point spreads. No teasers. No parlays.

When I got to Las Vegas everything changed.  Of course I was always aware of the “betting line” and who was favored growing up. None of that mattered as a kid though. I’ll never forget my first bet.  I had it all figured out. I ‘d watched sports all my life. This was going to be easy for me.  The Patriots were coming off of their first Super Bowl victory over the Rams. They were hosting Pittsburgh. I believe the Steelers were a three-point favorite.  New England was a fluke in my mind. They beat the Raiders because of the tuck rule.

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They went on to shock Pittsburgh in the AFC title game, then pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. They didn’t have staying power. At least that was my thinking.  I laid my sixty dollars down on the game to win roughly fifty-five dollars because of the “juice” that I didn’t know existed.  The juice is how  casinos make their money on sports (more on that later).  The game was never close. The Pats controlled the game from start to finish.  I was out sixty bucks.  From that point on the defending Super Bowl champs won every season opener they appeared in until this past season when the Giants lost.  What a way to start.

Betting lines are not set because the “books” think a team will win by X amount of points. They are set to create equal action on both sides.  This allows the books to rack up on the “juice”.  For example you must bet $1.10 to win one dollar no matter which side you’re on. Teams like the Cowboys, Lakers and Steelers always have inflated lines because sports books know money will always come in on teams with large fan bases.

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I’ve suffered many bad beats over the years that I will never forget. They really never leave you. Every poker player knows the term “bad beat”. The term applies to sports as well. The one that always comes to mind is the 2004 national semifinal between Duke and UConn.  UConn was a 2.5-point favorite. They trailed by as much as eight with under 4 minutes to go.  UConn closed on a 14-0 run to take a 4 point lead after an Emeka Okafor free throw.  Duke’s Chris Duhon hit a three-point shot from about halfcourt as the buzzer sounded Giving UConn a one-point win. This shot was meaningless to most. It wasn’t meaningless to the couple hundred people at the sports book that had money on the game. The place erupted. Some were mad, others glad. All impacted by a seemingly meaningless shot.

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Nothing is worse than the meaningless TD that causes a game to go “over” the total which results in a  “backdoor” cover. The hoops team that decides to foul down ten points with under ten seconds left when two more points is the difference between you winning and losing your bet.  The “U” throwing a pick 6 against Maryland on Labor Day weekend busting the cover as they were trying to go in for the winning score. My only thought was, “anything but a pick 6”.  These are the moments that drive you crazy.

The flip side is NOTHING equals betting on your team to win in a big game and watching them come through.  This was the case in January of 2006 when Texas faced USC in the Rose Bowl for the National Title.  The Horns were huge underdogs. No one besides the inhabitants of Austin and ESPN College Gameday analyst Lee Corso gave them a chance.  To this day I’ve never bet more on a game.  As I watched the closing minutes, the money didn’t matter at all. I was like a kid again. Money was on the line but I was simply a fan.  I just wanted to rub it in the faces of everyone who said my Horns couldn’t do it.  I just wanted to be able to say “I Told You So”.

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Joey Covers

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44 wins.

Zero losses.

44 times Floyd Mayweather has stepped into a boxing ring, 44 times he has left a winner. Think back on all of Mayweather’s victories. Now try to remember a time there was any doubt as the judges’ scorecards were read after the 12th round. Mayweather has dominated a sport riddled with corruption and scandal. He has managed to maximize his earnings every single time he puts on the gloves. Mayweather promotes himself. No need for an Arum or a Don King in Floyd’s camp. He handles his business in the ring and out.

BRITAIN BOXING

I’ll admit, I am no expert when it comes to the sport of boxing. I have never followed the sport with a watchful eye hoping to catch a glimpse of the next “Great American Boxer”. Over the years I’ve paid more attention to the “mega super cards” than the Friday Night Fights card on ESPN. I’m a main event type of guy. I’ve watched the main events long enough to know a good one when I see it.

Now that we all know where I stand when it comes to boxing, allow me to explain why I have never, and might not ever root for Floyd Mayweather. I could point to his actions away from the ring. The spousal abuse, the constant need to hear his own voice or the jagged relationship with his father. Lets not forget his short stint in the world of professional wrestling.

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All reasons enough to dislike Mayweather. He seems like a terrible guy outside the ring, but what he does there has no bearing on my wallet. When I decide to pony up the outrageous amount of money it costs to watch a pay-per-view, none of the “terrible guy” things are considered in my decision to buy the fight. I look at Mayweather’s opponent. My question isn’t whether the guy fighting Mayweather can win, it’s can this guy make it interesting?

Floyd Mayweather is such a dominant BOXER, his fights tend to swing to the boring side. He hits and avoids being hit. It’s the definition of the “sweet science”. He executes his game plan without ever having to adjust. Mayweather can score at will. He has knockout power, yet it seems he gets more satisfaction out of outpointing his opponents for twelve rounds. Opponents have that hours away from retirement look on their faces as they wait to hear if the judges felt Mayweather pitched a shut out. Simply put, Floyd Mayweather might be too good for my money.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Robert Guerrero

Usually an absolutely dominating sports figure is a must see. It’s entirely the opposite when it comes to Floyd. Why spend the money if we know he is going to cruise to a decision victory? Why pony up if we know Floyd’s opponent stands no chance? I saved 65 dollars Saturday night. Floyd’s fight went exactly like I thought it would. I have yet to see a highlight. Reading articles on the fight tell me all I need to know. Floyd Mayweather’s greatness means I have sixty-five more dollars to spend on my wife for Mother’s Day. Despite his greatness I can’t root for Mayweather. Mayweather is just too good. He is just too good. I can’t stand him for that.

Manny Palomarez

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