Last month the New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams traveled to London to play their week 8 match. Though the game took place at Wembley Stadium it was designated a home game for the Rams, which of course gave the Rams a disadvantage, as it means they only get to play 7 true home games this season. Needless to say, they were destroyed by the defending AFC champions and current ambassador team of the National Football League, 45-7. In front of a crowd of over 80,000 no less.
It’s true, American football sells a lot of tickets in England. Whether or not the fact they only get one or two games per year plays into those sellout numbers has yet to even be discussed. Right now, the discussion is all about how excited London mayor Boris Johnson is on the prospect of an increased NFL presence in the city and the nation. There are so many lucrative opportunities for both sides, if commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners agree to play more games or even relocate a team to London.
Dez Bryant has been a consistent topic of conversation for the Dallas Cowboys, a team that makes news regardless of whether or not it has a winning record. Ever since being selected by Jerry Jones late in the first round of the 2010 draft, and especially since Jones personally offered the jersey number of Cowboys wide receiver legend Michael Irvin, Bryant has been expected to blossom into one of the league’s greatest.
He’s got the size, he’s got the speed, and he’s got the pedigree—coming out of Oklahoma State during their recent resurgence. Now in his third season, Bryant looks to be finally proving himself as a core member of this Cowboys unit. The offense has been built specifically with him in mind, and he is particularly useful on a team with Miles Austin, who more often than not attracts more opposing coverage.
Saints owner Tom Benson has gone on record saying he is strongly considering making Sean Payton the highest-paid coach in the NFL. Payton’s reputation took a huge hit earlier this year when the league office was investigating “Bountygate” and discovered that Payton was aware of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ policy of paying his players to hurt opposing players. Payton was suspended for (at least) a year, and the Saints have been decidedly-underwhelming in his absence.
It’s roughly midseason and the annual coach carousel is beginning to spin. Andy Reid is on the hot seat in Philadelphia. San Diego head coach Norv Turner is almost certainly going to be fired at the end of the season. Now, speculation is turning to the possibility that Sean Payton takes this opportunity to either get a max contract from Benson’s Saints or find a greener pasture.
Jerry Jones is interested in Payton. Jerry Jones has a lot of money. Jerry Jones has made a career out of making large and rash decisions. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are coming off a potentially season-saving win against the Eagles last Sunday, and therein lies the conundrum.
The Los Angeles Lakers just balked on Phil Jackson, the guy that got them their last 5 championships. This is equal parts surprising and telltale of the current state of the NBA.
This is a league in which parity is almost non-existent. Everyone knows who the final four teams will be in both conferences. The chances for even young and exciting teams like the Pacers and the Nets are slim in toppling the empires built in Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and Oklahoma City. LeBron James himself suggested years ago that the league contract teams to make it more competitive. I don’t see David Stern contracting anything before he retires as commissioner, and I don’t see any hand-picked replacement doing that either.
The Cowboys are in trouble. They’re coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Giants in which they clawed their way back from a 23 point deficit only to have Dez Bryant’s game-winning touchdown catch in the final minute called back because his fingertips were out of bounds as he landed. They have been anything but consistent all season; playing different football every different week. The problems multiply as the season goes on, and eventually you begin to realize that even if the Cowboys were to win their division and make the playoffs they would be as flimsy a threat as they were in 2008, when they were the no. 1 seed and were ousted (by the Giants) in the divisional round. It would be difficult for me to tell you that there is hope because, after all, I’ve seen this movie before. We all have.
However, there actually is hope for this team. They can turn it around and salvage what is rapidly turning into yet another completely disappointing season—which would make it arguably the 9th straight completely disappointing season for “America’s Team”. Here are 3 changes the Cowboys must make if they want to reverse the losing trend in Dallas: