THE GREAT PACQUIAO DOES IT AGAIN
The nerve of Jerry Jones outbidding Vegas for the Pacquiao-Clottey fight on 3/13. The fact that it was in Dallas didnít prevent me from stepping up. As usual, ala two years now, Iím at the betting window whenever Manny fights. I laid a very long line this time, but my confidence in Manny Pacquiao, the best fighter in the business, rewarded me. Pacquiao is a combo of hand speed, power, foot speed, relentless energy, endurance and heart. He also has the benefit of the watchful eyes and mind of Freddie Roach, the best trainer in boxing. To be sure, Manny is an incredible boxing work of art.
I do believe Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has figured that out. Mayweather, who wiggled out of the 3/13 fight with Manny, fights Shane Mosley on May 1. If Mosley wins, it is quite conceivable weíll see a Pacquiao-Mosley fight in a few months. However, I expect Mayweather to beat Mosley on May 1.
So, my message to Mayweather:
If you want to make a quick $25 million for a maximum of 47 minutes work (do the math), then youíll fight Pacquiao.
If you want your pro career unbeaten record to end, and it will, then youíll fight Pacquiao.
Apparently Manny Pacquiao will soon be retiring. That disturbs me greatly. I may have to go to work for a living.
THE NFL IS NOT COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Pete Carroll is leaving USC after great success there to return to the NFL to coach the Seattle Seahawks. This will be his third stint in the NFL, having had mediocre head coaching performances with the Jets and Patriots. Have NFL teams learned nothing? John McKay, John Robinson, Bobby Patrino, Nick Saban, Dennis Erickson, Steve Spurrier, Bud Wilkinson and Lou Holtz; do those names ring any bells (not to mention all the others I'm sure I'm overlooking off the cuff at the moment)? All these great college coaches failed at the pro level. Why? Well folks, that's easy to answer. The NFL simply isnít college!!!
I can think of only two coaches who were as successful in the NFL as they were at the college level. That would be Paul Brown and Jimmy Johnson. (Barry Switzer joins them in being the only coaches to win college and NFL championships, but I donít put Switzer in their class. He inherited the roster gift Jimmy Johnson left him in Dallas when Johnson couldnít live any longer with Jerry Jonesí interference, and he, Switzer, should have had more than that one win in Super Bowl XXX in 1995.)
College players play "Yes Sir" football because their futures depend on it. College coaches control their scholarships. NFL players display an attitude that most college level coaches and staffs have not dealt with. It was Spurrier who complained he didn't have the players in the NFL. What a shock! In college you can grab the cream of the crop from high school. In the pros, you're getting the best of the best. That field goes from loads of Division 1-A college teams down to just 32 pro teams.
As a pro coach, you have to manage and coach the pyramid-high talent called men, very highly paid men, many of whom make more money, much more money, than do their head coaches. They have great talent and great egos to match. You have to treat them like men. You have to stack your skills as a coach against the best coaching minds the NFL has to offer. College players are forced to buy into any coaching philosophy you want to toss at them. Pro players know the difference, and without their respect, youíre toast! Thatís precisely why a NFL head coach had best have successful NFL experience in dealing with certain types of players that can cause coaching problems and sleepless nights.
Think about it; would you rather have coached Terrell Owens in college (U.T. Chattanooga) where you control his scholarship, or coach him in the NFL where he has a history of trying to control you? Itís a perfect example of the fact that the NFL is not college football. Pete Carroll will most certainly be reminded of that statement in Seattle in due time.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL RATINGS
Pure and simple, ratings in major league baseball have fallen over the last several years. They should.
Games continue to take more time. Baseball is still watched, but its young fan base is shrinking by the year. Young people are much more into computers, electronics, and the modern nuances therein, like sex. Baseball has become the sport of the 45-year-olds and over, way over.
And even for them, the ďolderĒ audiences are fed up with the lack of a salary cap in MLB if they live in franchise areas that have no chance to win even before the season ever begins, and are, for all intents and purposes, eliminated from the chance of a playoff appearance by July 4th. These teams become, in fact, the minor league systems of the ďhave money teamsĒ in MLB. The ďfire salesĒ are completed by the trade deadline of July 31st. Small-market teams unload their talent for financial reasons. Thus the top market/payroll teams will always control MLB unless and until Bud Selig gets off his proverbial ass and structures a salary cap that permits a small-market New Orleans to be number one. Major league baseball is absolutely the poorest run of our four major sports, and has been for years.
(The NFL collective bargaining agreement is into a cap-less structure, too, but it will be very different from that of MLB. Player movement in the NFL will be even more restricted than it is now under their new collective bargaining agreement. The NFL collective bargaining agreement is another subject.)
I send a letter to Bud Selig every year following the World Series requesting an audience with him to discuss my opinions. That letter, in great detail, is in my computer; I simply change the date on it annually. I have done so for several years. Iíll bet you wonít believe this; I have yet to receive a response. Iíll do it again this year, but Iíll stop when postage stamps hit a buck or I conk, whichever comes first. Another reason for me to stop writing Selig would be for him to put his sport in line. Iíll be the lead writer for ESPN The Magazine before that happens. Besides, I hear that Selig plans to retire after this season. Thatís the good news. The bad news is that absolutely nothing will be changed by his successor.
COACH K: PLEASE DONíT CHALLENGE OUR INTELLIGENCE
Duke Basketball and United States National Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski (itís not easy to pronounce a name with ten letters when only two are vowels) cannot be defined solely by those accolades reserved for a highly successful sports coach. Indeed, Krzyzewski, in his 29th season at Duke, has led the Blue Devils to numerous winning seasons, and has crafted a tremendous on-court legacy. I have great respect for coach K.
However, the Duke coach was recently quoted as saying that ďThe only reason the Lakersí offer in 2004 was made public is because there was serious consideration. I was pretty close. We talked money.Ē
Mike, I donít believe you. If there was serious consideration, it was on the part of the Lakers. I believe you used the Lakers to get the money you wanted to remain at Duke. Congratulations, you got what you wanted.
Lakers fans are glad you did. As it turned out, after that single season hiccup in 2004-2005, basketball guru Phil Jackson returned to the Lakers. Thanks, Mike, but please donít challenge our intelligence.
MERLIN OLSEN & WILLIE DAVIS
Both Los Angeles sports stars recently passed away, both at 69.
After a brilliant 15-year career as a Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the Rams, Olsen went into acting. As a member of the Rams' famed Fearsome Foursome, he did no acting, just intimidating, hitting and tackling. He was a fully respected member of that great Rams line, the group including Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier having recorded a combined 315.5 unofficial sacks.
I always felt Willie Davis was underrated. A track star when the Dodgers signed him out of high school in 1958, Davis scored from first on singles nine times in his one season on the farm. The longtime Dodgers centerfielder set still-standing Los Angeles records for hits, extra-base hits, runs, triples and total bases. Davis played briefly for five other teams before retiring in 1979 with a .279 career batting average and 398 stolen bases.
42 million condoms have been shipped by the UK's Dept. For International Development to South Africa, site of the 2010 World Cup. Why? South Africa is, sadly, home to 5.7 million HIV-infected people. My advice to the jocks while you're there; keep your straps on!