The Curious Case Of Joe McKnight

Joe McKnight has been dealing with unfair expectations since he was a five star recruit coming out of John Curtis Christian High School in Louisiana.  By now, mostly everyone reading this probably knows his sob story.  From the day he stepped on the USC campus everyone in the greater Los Angeles area expected him to carry the load of the Southern California dynasty and duplicate the highlight reel that Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush left behind.  McKnight, to no fault of his own, has been living off of his recruiting legacy since that first day of summer practices and the expectations have followed him since. 

There was no exception to this when the Jets drafted him in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The common fan expected Joe to make a mockery of AFC defenses and their coordinators.  However, McKnight was a disappointment for Jets fans as soon as he came to camp out of shape. 

Since that disappointing camp, there has been a steady rise in his play.  He worked hard to get in shape and become one of the more reliable special teams players for the Jets as a gunner on the punt team.  Given the chance to start, McKnight ripped through a terrible Bills run defense in the last game of the season accumulating 158 of his 189 total yards for the year.  It is easy to write off McKnight’s performance on special teams and in the last game of the year, but it would also be wrong.  While the fans might not have taken Week 17 seriously, McKnight did, and proved that he is able to be successful on the NFL level given the right opportunity. 

This is what Jets fans should expect out of their 4th round picks, hard special teams play, and a mentality to take advantage when given the opportunity to start. Even though this is only his second year, I believe it is a make or break year for McKnight.  He has to believe that he can be a key contributor to this team in order to be successful on the field.  McKnight’s biggest issue seems to be his nerves and hopefully they will be calmed with a full season under his belt.  With a more than capable mentor in LaDainian Tomlinson, McKnight will be able to hone his skills and ease into a role on the Jets offense.

Waiting for a catch…how will McKnight develop without a full offseason?  Will he show up focused and in shape?  Will he revert back to his old habits?  Will he know the playbook and everything else that is asked of him?  Can he pick up things fast enough to get significant (8-12 touches) playing time within the first few games of the season.  Thankfully, all of these questions will be answered soon enough with the lockout coming to an end.  If I were a betting man, I would put my money on McKnight coming into the 2011 season focused and determined to be a vital player in the Jets offense. 

Yet, remember Jets fans, he is not going to become Tomlinson in his prime.  Readjust your expectations for McKnight from his reputation to a 4th round draft pick and I can almost guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised by his play.

100 Days And Counting: The Nightmare of the NFL Lockout

I’ve heard talk of shortening the baseball season. Please don’t do that. I need something to sleep to. Baseball is the old man’s game, Played by people who generally have little to no personality. How can you have a personality on a baseball team? A fist pump after a strikeout? Not flashy enough. An occasional dirt kicking at the umpire? Why don’t we mic up the managers when they go out there for a good verbal throw down? Cliff Lee is about as exciting as Bingo at the Community Center, and I’ve never actually heard Roy Halladay speak…that’s baseball in a nutshell. If anyone still thinks Ozzie Guillen is edgy or interesting…I’ve walked through the Lower East Side and heard more truth, insight and rage in less time.

50 game NBA season? Maybe I can actually watch the Nets get themselves out of the running by game number five. Boy, that first week is going to be a blast though. I can predict with certainty that Indiana, Memphis and Oklahoma City are going to take big steps forward. There will be ten teams that have the potential to win the whole thing: angry Kobe, revenge of D-Rose, rise of Durant, the long sad story of Dwight Howard and the gondola singer that is Stan Van Gundy. the NBA may be one of the few sports that could actually benefit from a shortening of the season.

Football. It is hard to even type out. I’ve played so many hours of Madden my fingers begin making audible and hot route ps3 controller movements when I am sitting on the bus. I can’t do it anymore. every game brings me to tears (of joy or sadness I have yet to determine).

There are certain conclusions I can draw about what has happened so far in the off-season. The Bengals will never be good, not with their current owner at least. I would rather watch Cincinnati at the college level. Terrell Owens is done. Tiki Barber is a smiling joke who thinks using the term depression rights all the supreme wrongs he has committed throughout his miserable post football existence. The Giantswill yet again put out a defensive line that makes grown men feel like children, even if Osi isn’t there.

Sometimes I dream of a Jets/Giants Christmas Eve game, freezing at the Meadowlands, 10 below zero, screams coming from every direction, and then it happens: Woody Johnson and the Mara family come out to the 50 yard line, microphones in hand and begin to explain why there will be no game after the coin toss. The lights go dark. “revenue sharing model…cost efficiency with regard to player/owner incentives…rise in advertising and broadcasting costs.” It is a two hour speech and at the end, the players walk back to the locker room, handcuffed to each other as to not even throw a pass or run the ball. There is silence all around. There will be no more fun.

Why Are You Shaking? Continued Coverage Of The NFL Lockout

America needs football. Why? When you are away from football, you start taking up causes that you don’t have the foresight to know are going to ruin you. Like David Tyree, NY Giant headcatcher who recently came out against gay marriage, something that will have him torn apart in almost every NY tabloid from the Daily News to the New York Times.

Then you have Plaxico Burress, who is fresh out of jail and looking like he’s trying to hide his aging body, recently tore apart Tom Coughlin. He may be mean and old, but the guy knows how to win. Oh yes, and then you have LeSean Mccoy, who claimed that Osi Umenyora (who also happens to be suing the NY Giants), is “soft and overrated”. Have fun trying to run the ball next year.

So what news do we have about the Jets. Well…they have been working out…that is good. What I like more is the fact that Darrelle Revis took Kyle Wilson under his wing, probably under pressure from Rex and Mike Tannenbaum, who uttered something like “listen man, we can’t have this blow up in our face…I’m still having nightmares about the Gholston deal”

I also like to see Vladimir Ducasse putting the work in. They’re going to need him at multiple position s,so they probably needed his rookie year to bench him (somewhat demeaning for a second round pick) to see if he was mentally tough enough to make it at either tackle or guard.

Looking at free agency, you can’t assume though, that Plaxico Burress, Randy Moss or Terrell Owens will actually fit in with the system that Brian Schottenheimer runs. Especially because they won’t be the prime receivers. Sometimes the Jets play long, sometimes they play short. The Holmes/Edwards combination is perfect because one is a short burster, and one is a long strider. Edwards on the vertical, and Holmes on the stick. Why change something that is vital to Mark Sanchez’s development when you can just shrug off a few DB’s?

There’s a good chance Holmes and Edwards will take a pay cut if they sign, and Cromartie will get more money than he deserves, but hopefully it is a short term, two year deal in case his head gets too big. Which it will if the Jets ever win a Super Bowl.

What else is there to hope for? The best running game in the league? Greene, McKnight, Powell and Tomlinson? Sounds like all points covered. Greene power running. Tomlinson 3rd down. Powell the Thomas Jones replacement, McKnight the Reggie Bush type to keep the linebackers on their toes.

Is it possible to have rookies unused for 2 years in a row? We all know how useful Kyle Wilson, Joe Mcknight and Vladimir Ducasse were their rookie season. Remember, Buddy Ryan hated rookies, and Rex probably does as well. Too much to learn, especially this year. Good thing is, there are going to be a few rookie players and coaches on the Jets schedule, which will be a whole bunch of fun for all the Jets DB’s, none of whom are rookies.

In other news the Yankees pitching is doomed, the Knicks future is doomed, and the Rangers and Islanders arouse little to no of my interest. I meant to say something nice about soccer but I lost the paper I scribbled it on. Off to the Casey Anthony trial, this stuff is better than Days of Our Lives. God bless Long Island, where you can barely hear the shrieks of madness from the inferno of Manhattan.

Let’s Make A Musical: Thoughts On The NBA Finals And The Psychology Of Enjoying Failure

It says something that almost every person that despises LeBron came out with long proclamations that make no sense, seeing as how he is 26 years old. That’s correct. 26 years old. People are so forward with their claims that they proclaim he will not even achieve a single championship.

Did he shrink under the pressure? Sure. But to say that the pressure put on LeBron James and the pressure put on Michael Jordan are even in the same ballpark, would be insane. Is LeBron James Michael Jordan? No, he’s Lebron James.

With social media and the amount of press generated on a daily basis, Michael did not have to deal with articles about teammates having sex with his mother or girlfriend. He did not have 4,000 bloggers on his back because he was stuck with a horrible franchise, a horrible owner, and let’s face it, a rather small town mentality that looked like 4 year olds stuck in the bodies of 34 year olds. Remember, someone in Cleveland had to OK that witness poster.

Was Miami the answer? Probably not, but to leave Cleveland was a PROFESSIONAL decision. Because, let’s look at this, any other field of work would not even create one article of scorn, much less complete hatred. So to do something that was NOT illegal, and create a movement to burn and destroy pictures of someone, it makes fans look like religious fanatics and not sports fans. LeBron is not a religion, and it’s your fault as a fan for treating him as one.

Do I think the bracelet with King James on it is ridiculous? Hell yes. Do I think that over the top preseason stunt was too much? Hell yes. But guess what? Other people were involved in that besides LeBron James. Business people. The same people who decided to turn Miami upside down in creating LeBron burgers, hotel suites, and other sick twisted merchandising opportunities.

To all the people that got offended by him talking about his postgame comments, go check what he said today. He knew he isn’t better than other people. He plays basketball, he doesn’t cure cancer. And he didn’t steal your 401k. For anyone to think a basketball player is the highest form of humanity, they really need to get a grip on reality. As a sidenote, try getting told you suck for about 20 times and not getting at least a little upset. To be honest, I am shocked he didn’t reach across the table and choke Gregg Doyel.

So lets move on to Dallas, shall we? Dirk was a man amongst boys. There is absolutely no way to dispute that. He was a German romantic hero. He didn’t have the physique, the look, the speed. Yet he had one of the greatest shots of all time. A shot you can’t teach. His shooting coach could write a book, do a movie, and create an entire school, but he probably wont, which only adds more to the mystique.

Jason Terry was a New York Jet. He talked and walked. Actually he ran, right to the basket. It made Rex Ryan weep.

Dallas deserves everything they get, and Lebron deserves some of what he gets, but when your joy is in others failures, try for a moment to imagine being the close relative of someone like LeBron, when you have no public voice, no defense, just the continuous cackling of the deranged hate-mongers everywhere you go.

As a final note, to look at the childish mentality of all of Ohio, look at the governor, who after the Mavericks won, named them honorary Ohioans. Wow. You really showed LeBron. Don’t scorn us, or we will pass resolutions. Why don’t you just go Harry Potter and make it a fine to speak of LeBron James in public?

The Debate Continues: Best New York Jet To Have A Beer With?

Justin weighs in with his opinion to my original article…Best New York Jet To Have A Beer With —

This question depends on two things. The first, do I want to get into a fight? The second. do I want accompaniment by a female completely out of my league?

Let’s just say I want to get into a fight. Clearly, the guy I want helping me is Muhammad Wilkerson. Why? 7 foot wingspan. 315 lbs. 6’5. That’s all I have to say. He is clearly the most athletic and largest player the Jets have. True, he is just a rookie, but attributing fight skills and football skills is a messy and sometimes hazardous business. All I want is a bull rush. The crowd will disperse rather quickly.

Female accompaniment? I want two. I want Sanchez and Scotty McKnight. Bro paradise. How could you not at least get something worth a blackout as a third wheel with these two? You would have to be shaking violently and peeing yourself not to be able to get someone to at least talk to you after 10 tequila shots and who knows how many margaritas. Mission Viejo for life.

Of course I would like to chat with Revis and Rex, but my time at the bar is extremely limited, and with free drinks, you should either end up in bed or in jail. Settle for nothing less.

Strange Days: How The NBA Finals Will Define The Lives Of Many

Justin weighs in with his thoughts on the NBA Finals before they tipped off last night…

This is it. The finals. It has been a long, strange road. We had the foolish notion to assume a 6’2 point guard could actually work over the greatest power forward on earth without a legitimate 2nd man. Boozer was a joke. We assumed you could live off of pure talent and athleticism without having second or third round playoff experience. Both thoughts have been struck out with a rather convincing display of wisdom and what I can only call “complete” basketball.

The Mavericks showed that a roster of players who have been to the Finals will always outdo the inexperienced Thunder, who had to rely on out of this world displays by 21 and 22 year old players who are still learning how to play team basketball.

I thought that the Heat would have to rely on Lebron and D-Wade. Then I realized Udonis Haslem, who has been gone for what seemed like the entire year, was what really made the Heat machine tick. Remember, he was there for the 2006 championship and knew that the Big 2 would need help. They got it in both the physical and emotional sense.

I tried to go about this objectively, but after considerable thought, trying to think of a Dallas championship seems to be rather far fetched to me. Let’s say Dirk does go for 50. The Heat would probably do better letting him score that many, because playing defense on the rest of the team would be a joke. Jason Terry against Dwayne Wade? That’s almost laughable. Watching Jason Kidd trying to keep up with Lebron would be even funnier. Mario Chalmers may not be an All Star, but he will be a wash with Kidd. 38 years old makes him the oldest point guard in Finals history. This is not the team you want to play against.

The Heat will make plays that throw SportsCenter into a complete frenzy. They have been waiting for this. They will make people who hate them throw televisions out the window. It will be like a Michael Bay movie. They are actually currently installing 43 pyrotechnic towers along the sidelines with tags in Heat players sneakers for fast breaks, and I am told they are preparing backboard flamethrowers for every LeBron dunk. It will make Transformers 3 look like Little House On The Prairie. Some even say the temperature in their building will be increased to 136 degrees before warmups. It will be like watching Ali in Africa. Complete and utter physicality.

The question remains. Do we want the Heat to win? I don’t know. Do I want Dallas to win? I don’t know. Perhaps I would like to see Dirk vindicated…

Do I want to see Lebron vindicated? Not really, but I do think there is a certain point that you reach when your entire life has been devoted to something, reaching a dramatic arc, and violently exploding like the eventual megastar status of the sun…maybe it will be a last second game 7 dunk. One can only hope.

A Trip To Yankee Stadium: A Brief Encounter With History

“Yankee Stadium is one of the few places in America that can feel alive on a Monday Night”
– Anonymous

I walked out of the grand concourse subway station. I was not supposed to get off there. I was supposed to get off at Yankee Stadium, but because I drank two small nips of Southern Comfort on the subway ride uptown, I forgot I was supposed to get off at Grand Central and transfer from the 4 to the 5. Someone was apparently trying to close what seemed like a very large post office right outside the subway stairs. People were protesting. They were not happy. When 25% of The Bronx is underemployed, people do not take that walk from some work to no work lightly. And why should they? The financial district should have been arrested and forced into manual labor after the mess they created.

I got past the crowd and started walking down River avenue, which had the hills of a San Francisco slum. I couldn’t quite tell the burnt red factor buildings apart, but I was supposed to go in one and walk up to the 5th floor.
On the 5th floor I couldn’t quite tell the small grey cars apart but I finally approached one that looked friendly. The trunk had a cooler full of bud light. This would most definitely be a Monday night to forget.

The walk to the stadium was something unlike I had ever been a part of. You walk under the subway for a while, passing dump after dump until there it is, this gleaming tan colossus, lit up like Vegas on a Friday night. You get so caught up in staring at it that you forget you have two very busy streets to cross. Once across you see the entrance, and luckily, because we were doing our best impression of Miami Heat fans, we got to the stadium about 40 minutes after first pitch.

Perhaps here was the point that I should have had the good sense to stop drinking. There was no need to consume any more, especially because I was under the influence of a prescription medication for my rather weak night vision. But no, I was going to gleefully pay $12 for a beer, yes, in fact, give me two. I would be the king of the bleacher creatures, no price too high!

Now, I am of course a gentleman, so instead of waiting for a female acquaintance to buy her own beer, I decided to buy one for her. Except I soon found out that at $22 for two bud lights, chivalry can send you to the poor house rather quickly.

At a certain point, like all fans of baseball games, you are asked kindly to leave once the game is over. Apparently I did leave under my own power, smiling and tipping my cap to NYPD on our exit. I then proceeded to prance down the street until we reached the parking garage. Everything past that is fuzzy, right until 8:45 the next morning when I woke up and realized something was very much wrong.

What i was supposed to do, was get up at 6:45, wake my sister up, and get to the train station to take the 7:10 to Manhattan, which would get me into Penn about 8:30 with enough time to get to work by 9am. This did not go as planned. As soon as I turned my head, I felt everything sloshing around like someone hit me up side the head with a bat and poured vodka down my unconscious throat. Which may have happened. I have hired a private investigator to look into it.

I did in fact make it to work that day, and felt like dying at various points throughout the day. It was wonderful, that feeling like at any point you could throw up sausage, peppers, red bull, bud light, bud light, jolly ranchers?

Postscript: Baseball

Considering there are 81 home games to 8, you can understand the chance of seeing something at a football game that you have 9 more games to wait for in baseball. Which is why most people show up in the 3rd inning. To be honest, I have had a love/hate relationship with baseball my whole life. I played little league, but as I found the intricacies in sports like football and basketball, baseball seemed like a relic. It’s boxing and slow dances. Sunday drives and dinner with the family. We move faster now, we think faster, (for good or ill) and for all our advancement it remains the same as it’s always been. Chess for old men. But there is beautiful music made that people play chess to.

Beat The Drum: The Warrior Is Here

“Pressure can burst a pipe or pressure can make a diamond”
– Robert Horry

As drama critics are looking for work, NBA writers are writing odes to Dirk and Derrick. How could you not become poetic after each game 1? With a Western Conference Finals pitting two 22 year old superstars against a bunch of rapidly aging veterans with a 7 foot shooter who all of the sudden realized somebody had to be Playoff Kobe when Kobe isn’t around, who wouldn’t watch with a box of tissues and a bottle of Jameson next to them? I personally prefer a glass of red for every home team basket and a glass of white for every away team basket, but details at this point are trivial.

So why do I keep looking at Miami and Oklahoma City like they’re not ready for the stage? The Heat will not win a championship with two guys that aren’t playing to absolute perfection. Apparently there are three other guys that are supposed to do something on the court as well, but in Miami the other three, save for Bosh occasionally showing up when there is no hope, do not seem to share the same desire to win.

Remember the Lakers? Didn’t have the desire to win. Got comfortable. The Heat are going through the same thing, except they have rested on the fact that almost all NBA writers watched the 2nd round series against the Celtics and pretty much wrote off the Bulls. The Celtics were running on pure fumes, there would have been nothing left against the Bulls, it would have been an all out thrashing. The whole team would have broken down, resulting in Delonte West and Jeff Green becoming starters by game 4.

The Thunder however, seem to be on the verge of becoming a great team, but due to mid season trades, things have become a little strange. Yes, they had enough to finally put away the Grizzlies, but the pressure only gets higher, and every missed basket is like a last second shot attempt. Athleticism will not win championships. Ask Lebron. They have to get smarter, they have to be more efficient, and can’t turn over the ball on these insane, free for all fast breaks that seem like a last ditch effort to simply outrun the opposing team. Speed kills indiscriminately. Westbrook getting stuffed results in one less man on the defensive end when the Mavs start that insane shooting parade.

There will be enough swing between games one and seven to bring back the 70s. Ordinary sports writers will become schizophrenic and watch every game with split personalities. Old vs young. Good vs. Evil. All sides will reign at some point.

They Fell Towards The Night…How The Lakers And Celtics Went Away In Outrage & Silence

Watching the end of the Lakers game made me sit back in disbelief, it was all too easy. There was nothing left to examine. I watched a dynasty crumble. The fouls that outraged the old guard of the franchise were almost on cue, it had been written but what scared me the most is that after two complete beat downs Kobe Bryant didn’t completely lose it in any of the press conferences and give that strange scowl of utter disgust towards everyone in the room.

Phil Jackson checked out early. The brain can’t try and compute after so many mistakes. There was nothing to do except try and remember that the voices behind him would soon be gone for good. Find the golden silence and drift away, occasionally whisper to Brian Shaw…

Where does the loss of the Celtics and the Lakers leave us? Where are we going? Is Miami really something we want? I try and look at Miami like postmodern art, I understand the spectacle but there’s no soul there. There is no mystery. It is a pure efficient athletic monster. It is the NBA combine but will it survive the pressure? At this point there have been 353,948 articles available on the internet about the Heat, with the current rate at 27 per hour.

Are we going somewhere too fast? Is there a reality being faced? A strange hyper-trading, big money moves all over the place league of no teammates that aren’t preconceived and no real hometown heroes? What are the Miami Heat? What exactly is Modern Miami for that matter? Are they evil for being so over the top and plastic? Remember that parade? It is impossible not to factor South Beach in to what they represent: it is a funhouse of sex, fast money and drugs and you, America, want a condo on Ocean Drive.

The Lakers were old Hollywood. The Bulls were hallowed ground after Jordan. The Heat are the rap stars of today, they’re richer than you, they’re more popular than you and you’re jealous. You hate the fact that basketball can be the most over the top and entertaining sport known to man, you hate the strong preying on the weak.

You hate it, yet it is like watching cars roar down the Bonneville Salt Flats. You know at least one will explode, it is just a matter of when and explosions are fun from a distance.

Beat Writing Is Going To Die…And Is Already Dead, Respectively

I sit in bed watching ESPN on my Ipad, which is amazing, first because I am lazy and like to spend my first waking hour contemplating what sort of insane trouble college football is in, and second because I am one of three people in America without HDTV. I am giddy, giddy at the fact that beat writers in LA are going to be freaking out over Andrew Bynum’s trust comments. And freak out they do. One writer actually threatened to go down to Staples Center and give the team an inspirational speech a la The King’s Speech…”We will overcome this hurdle, we will move forward, with grace..with determination and with the heart of a champion still beating inside us”

My advice to freakout beater? Get a drink. It is around cinco de mayo and you shouldn’t be dwelling on things like the Lakers getting knocked out of the playoffs, even though it is your job, a soon to be over job. Shoot out an article about the sunset in Los Angeles and let the chaos ensue. Dirk reigns, even though I called them the laughing stock of the NBA due to Mark Cuban but old Mark has finally shut it and I wear will wear leeches and flog myself while typing a formal letter of apology.

Beat writers. My advice to aspiring beat writers is that you should, for the most part, strike journalistically while the iron is hot. Imagine being a beat writer for the Cavaliers after Lebron? The Mets? The Panthers? Well, the Panthers will be interesting until Cam Newton finds his way out but for the most part, beat writing seems to be a slog after the first few years. Very few franchises are continually intriguing, or continually great. If you live long enough, you may see something great, or you may have a heart attack after a preseason game and drive off a bridge.
My generation has ADD, there will be no more beat writers by the time we are through. No one wants to get up everyday, look at the same millionaires or soon to be millionaires while you contemplate refinancing your three bedroom house, and write about them in a scowling, jealous rage or the stale praise of a book reviewer.

How can you gauge style if you don’t have variety? I’ve seen more than one beat writer drop dead at their desk because their wife accidentally texted them when they meant to text their boss about their after work rendezvous while a story comes over the AP wire about some new rookie just got signed for $5 million, the brain can’t handle such karmic madness.

ESPN will become a socialist enterprise. No one wants to hear about fast break points from a 300 pound fat guy, like that guy on the couch who predicts football games for ESPN, you will be first chubs. They will allow only the physically fit to report on sports and beautiful girl next door types like Michelle Beadle, who could tell me I have terminal cancer and I would still look for a way to ask her out for a drink. Has anyone noticed the sort of serfdom most radio hosts at that network are subject to? Working 20 hours straight, 1pm radio show, 11pm sportscenter, 6am radio show, 6 PM Sportscenter…

Athletes are strange creatures. Study them like you would a fetal pig. At a safe distance. Remember that if they are forced to write an open letter about the state of their team going forward, most people would be embarrassed to read it. You are the writer. You are the one who writes the story. Get a little crazy. Own history. And stop reading other beat writers and copy and paste from the Surrealist Manifesto at any chance you get, give construction workers a little arts and culture at 5am on the Long Island Rail Road. They might just look out the window and wonder if they are dreaming…