I just got off the phone with Tony Dungy. I had called my old special teams coach Joe Marciano, who is now the special teams coordinator for the Houston Texans. I left him a message asking for Tony's cell number so that I could contact him. Joe called me back and told me that he had just got off the phone with Tony and that Tony was looking for my number. That is a "Goocher" in my book.
Being an athlete and/or a coach is demanding enough. However, how we handle both victory and defeat provides the opportunity to demonstrate character. The NFL is a "machine" and I have seen many people change under its grips. I have heard coaches tell our team one thing, only to have something else happen. That was never the case with Tony. With the amount of money and pressure that is found in the NFL, Tony never allowed it to control him. His faith in man-kind is strong. His faith in God is stronger. This man "Walks the Walk."
I will forever be grateful to Tony not only for how he handled my situation, but how fortunate I am to have him as a friend and the impact that he has had on my life.
Here's how important national letters of intent are in the recruiting process: you can't just sign one whenever you want.
The NCAA has specific time periods in place for inking such important agreements. They vary by sport, and there are a lot of sports. So it's easy for recruits to commit to a school but really have no idea when they're supposed to sign their letter of intent to make it official.
Here is a breakdown of when national letters of intent are signed for athletes wanting to earn a scholarship for the 2009-10 school year, according to the NCAA website:
Basketball (regular period): April 15-May 20, 2009
Football (mid-year junior college transfers): Dec. 17, 2008-Jan. 15, 2009
Football (regular period): Feb. 4-April 1, 2009
All Other Sports (early period): Nov. 12-19, 2008
All Other Sports (regular period): April 8-Aug. 1, 2009
The coaches of most sports seemed satisfied with the calendar in place, but there are discussions of implementing an early-signing period for high school football recruits. In recent years, football prospects have committed, decommitted, recommitted, decommitted and committed elsewhere, filling all the time they have to make a decision before February.
One Division I coach told me he uses 25 percent of his recruiting budget "babysitting" recruits, or visiting recruits who have already committed to make sure they don't stray.
Nothing is imminent, though, so the dates in place will be a good forecast of years to come.
visited four different doctors to get opinions on his damaged left knee over the summer.
Specifically, Merriman wanted to know if he could play football with a torn PCL and a torn LCL.
Four doctors said he needed surgery. Merriman ignored them and declared himself available for the start of the season anyway.
"My knee still looks pretty good," he said at the time. "The decision was left up to me to play. If you give a football player a decision to play, you know, I'm going to play."
Elite athletes become elite through relentless hard work and a ton of passion for the sport they're playing. But when should someone step in and say no to an athlete who doesn't have it in them to say no themselves?
Merriman, who played one game before hanging it up and electing surgery, isn't the first example of an athlete playing through a potentially catastrophic injury. Not even close. Remember:
, who played in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 despite a broken leg. Doctors wouldn't clear him to play but he did anyway, catching nine passes for 122 yards in a loss.
was the Heisman Trophy favorite in 2007 before hurting his knee against Arizona State halfway through the season. He returned two weeks later against Arizona but left again when his knee buckled. It was then made public that he tried to play with a torn ACL.
-St. Louis Cardinals superstar
has played the 2008 season with a "high-grade tear" in his elbow, which is liable to blow any day. It's his call to delay surgery as long as he can. The way he can hit a baseball (even with the bad wing), nobody's going to get in his way.
tried to compete in front of his home country with a serious Achilles injury. He had barely broken out of the blocks on a false start when he finally gave up, knowing it wasn't going to work.
It seems coaches don't intervene in the professional ranks, which is up for debate. College coaches have much greater authority over their players (football coaches, in particular, take advantage of that). But in the case of Dixon, Oregon's coach allowed him to play until there was another sign of trouble.
Here's the debate: Where does it stop being the player's call and starts being someone else's? Should Chargers coach
have stepped in and told Merriman no? Would the NFL Players' Association have raised a fuss if Turner didn't play Merriman? We know San Diego fans would.
If Merriman wanted to play through this injury while at the University of Maryland, does that change things? What about during his high school days in the Washington, D.C. area?
It's a gray area worth visiting. Merriman wasn't the first player to ignore a doctor's orders. You can bet he won't be the last.
Through my experience playing in the NFL and being a union
representative for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I saw first-hand what
happens to athletes when their playing days come to an end and they
haven't prepared for their second career. A very small percentage of
athletes make it to the pros. Of those who do, a smaller percentage
play long enough to retire comfortably for the rest of their lives.
In the NFL alone, the average career is only 3.5 years. You don't qualify
to become an unrestricted free agent (where the big contracts are
usually signed) until you have played four years.
There are a lot of sad stories about pro athletes who didn't prepare themselves
enough for life after their sports career is over. Don't let that
happen to you. It is a long shot to play professional sports. However,
going to college, playing the sport you love and getting a great
education will provide you with an incredible experience that will carry
you through the rest of your life.
No matter what sport you play, your coach develops plays that you use to help the team win. Most
teams have a playbook. Being a student-athlete and trying to have a
game plan for college requires its own "playbook." The NCAA has done a
great job trying to take the burden off of athletes and parents by
creating a game plan to follow. The process to get into college can be
overwhelming. However, using the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete is a very smart thing to do.
Have you gone to NCAAStudent.org site? It is a really cool interactive site.
It is essentially a playbook with information about being an NCAA
The site itself was designed to look like a playbook. It is a three-ring binder that "is dedicated to helping you
understand the balance between academics and sports required of every student-athlete for a successful life in school, and out. Here you can learn about the NCAA, download the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, and discover how you can go pro in something other than sports."
When you go to the site, the first words that you read are: There are over
380,000 student-athletes, and just about every one of them will go pro
in something other than sports.
I really enjoy the emphasis that the NCAA has put on "going pro" in something other than sports. The
inside folder pocket has an envelope with pictures that open to the
television commercials they have played.
I certainly was not aware of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete
when I was in high school and there wasn't an interactive website for
me to review. The site and its design effectively simplify the
This playbook discusses:
Core Course, GPA, Tests, Special Conditions
NCAA Eligibility Center
Questions to Ask as You Consider Colleges
Information for Parents and Guardians
Details for High School Counselors and Athletic Administrators
The media gives a lot of emphasis to professional athletes and thus every
kid wants to grow up to be one. I can tell you personally that although
it is a great experience, it sometimes is not all that it is cracked up
So check out the site, read it, download the playbook
and follow it. I am confident that if you follow the plays in this
Who doesnt love a good t-shirt? I know I do. ESPN recently published some of the t-shirt slogans that didnt make the cut in the MLB online team shops. My two favorite slogans just so happen to be from the two teams I love to watch play each other the most the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Check out Rejected T-shirt slogans to view some of these hysterical MLB rejected t-shirt slogans.
Do you refer to the sport as soccer or football? Well, no matter what you call it you will love this video of the top 50 goals.
How extreme is extreme? Well, a recent photo essay by TIME will show you just what it means to push the limits. The North Pole Marathon, which is run entirely across the frozen Arctic Ocean, is just one of the 13 most Extreme Marathons in the world.
Andy Roddick has the fastest serve recorded in pro tennis at 155 mph. Watch this Active video
Anyone else thinking, I wish I could serve like that? These 10 Tips for Faster Serves from Active will help you be more like the legend himself.
I would assume everyone has at least some knowledge of the protests going on regarding the Olympics and Torch Relay, but have you played the video game in which your goal is to "navigate the Olympic torch away from angry protesters." It is an interesting way of handling the situation to say the least, brought to you by ESPN. Play Torch Run and let us know your thoughts on the game and the situation.
Have you found anything interesting recently? Share it!
Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder ended the nation's longest football winning streakjust barelywith a 41-34 overtime victory over Charlotte (North Carolina) Independence. Charlotte Independence won 109 games in a row, a streak that spanned exactly seven years.
During the run, the Patriots, who have been ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press state 4-A poll since the beginning of the 2001 season, became the first team to win seven straight state championships in North Carolina.
For a football program that almost graduated two full cycles of high schoolers who never knew defeat, I cant imagine it has gone over very well. I have a feeling theyll be back on track soon and working hard to secure their eighth state championship.
This reminded me of another team that got noticed for ending another impressive streakbut on the other end of the spectrum. Last winter, Caltechs basketball team beat an NCAA Division III school for the first time in more than a decade, ending a 207-game losing streak by beating Bard College 81-52. The Beavers, hadn't beaten a fellow Division III school since the 1995-96 season.
Check out all the latest high school football news, results and rankings at FootballPower.tv
Opening Day featured an opportunity for the BJB organization and families to show their support for the family of Pfc. Joseph Miracle, a former player and soldier recently killed in combat. The Jr. Blackhawks designated Miracle as the "Honorary Captain" of the 2007 Jr. Varsity season and presented his family with a check for $250 for the foundation they are setting up in his name.
A Corpus Christi Pee-Wee football coach who charged and knocked down a game referee is blaming the 18-year-old ref for the attack.
Witnesses said the coach, Robert Watson was angry at the ref for ordering him off the field for cursing -- as well as at his 5- and 6-year-old players for not blocking. Watson's team, the Titans, was trailing the 49ers 12-6 with 10 seconds left in the Pee-Wee league's championship game when the incident happened.
Police Captain John Houston said the coach had been warned several times about cursing on the sidelines before his ejection. Houston said the referee was left briefly unconscious by the attack but is otherwise alright.
In the face of increasing amounts of abuse such as this from players, coaches and fans, many officials are leaving the profession. But there are steps you can take to help keep them around.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, football, long considered to be the ultimate guy sport, appears to be getting a gender infusion. The National Football League has compiled some notable facts about women and football:
1) In 1996, a girls-only division was made available for participants in the GatoradePunt, Pass & Kick competition. About 125,000 of the 500,000 participants that year were girls. By 2000, the number of girls participating in the contest had risen to more than 1 million. The NFL Gatorade Punt, Pass and Kick program creates lively and engaging competition for boys and girls ages 8 -15 to compete separately against their peers in punting, passing and place kicking skills.
2) More than 30 million women watch football on televisions on an average weekend.
3) Game-day attendance is 40 percent female, with more than 375,000 women attending games on an average weekend.
4) Over 100,000 girls participate in local flag football leagues sponsored by the NFL.
Perhaps the phrase "football widow" is on the way out as more and more females are becoming interested and knowledgable in the sport of football.
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Jonathan Daniel)
Bowl Championship Series* officials concluded three days of meetings last week with no major changes being made to the system used to crown a college football champion.
Among the wide range of BCS issues that were discussed included the standings and automatic qualification standards. The commissioners from the 11 major conferences and Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White decided to continue with the current system as-is.
There has been a cry to only make conference champs eligible to play for the national championship as well as to change the rule allowing a maximum of two teams per conference in the five big-money bowl games. There was reportedly no support to revise the current BCS system.
Last season, the BCS produced another controversial championship game. When the final BCS standings were released, Ohio State and an was left behind with no chance to have a crack at the title. The debate over whether the Gators or Wolverines should've played the Buckeyes raged for weeks and stirred up much discussion on improving the BCS system.
Historically, sports have shown us that the best team the entire season through doesn���t always have what it takes to win when it counts. It just doesn���t seem to be a fair assessment, especially when people use the argument that a playoff system will never be implemented because of all the revenue that would be lost on bowl games. The thought of compromising crowning an NCAA football champion that is truly the best because of moneythat shifting the game around for the sake of entertainment instead of in an effort to uphold the integrity of the game and collegiate sports is even an optionmakes me sick.
After a tremendous showing at the NFL combine, Whitworth College tight end Michael Allan has transformed himself from little-known Division III athlete into a viable NFL prospect. Active.com spoke with him to get his thoughts on life at a small college and what it's like to read your own player profile on ESPN.
Mel Kiper gave you some love last night on SportsCenter as a high-value pick in the draft. That must have been pretty cool.
Yeah I saw that. My buddy called me from Spokane and told me to turn it on. Not often you hear your name on SportsCenter.
How does a kid who didn't make his high school all-star team turn into a possible first- day NFL draft pick?
(Laughs) I don't know. A lot of it is physical maturation. I was kind of an awkward athlete coming out of high school. Six-four, 190 and running a five-flat (40-yard dash). I grew into my body halfway through college. I always knew how to play the game. Once my body matured I was able to do it cleanly.
Today I decided to sift through some of the great sports nicknames and post up a list of my favorites. Many people say the creation of sports nicknames is a lost art and that athletes just don���t have nicknames like they used to. To an extent, they have a point; modern nicknames are, for the most part, boring and unimaginative (T-Mac, A-Rod, etc.) I'd like to salute a few of the great ones from the past in a brief list of my favorites (in no particular order):
The Iron Horse (Lou Gehrig) ��� There are few nicknames that are more apt in their description of a player than ���The Iron Horse���, earned by Gehrig during his long-standing record streak of 2,130 consecutive games played.
Shoeless Joe (Joe Jackson) ��� This is one of my favorite
nicknames of all time. Joe Jackson earned the name ���Shoeless��� when, as
a young player, he took off a pair of spikes that hurt his feet and