Argos Bolster Running Game with Signing of ex-Texan Slaton

Running back Steve Slaton has found himself back in professional football, but this time, he’s taken his talents to the CFL. Earlier today, the Toronto Argonauts officially announced that Slaton has been signed to a contract as an import running back.

To make room for Slaton on the roster, the Argos released import running back Tristan Davis.

Slaton, the 89th overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, previously spent a four-year stint playing ball south of the border with the Houston Texans. During his rookie campaign with Houston, Slaton broke what was the single-season rushing record (1,282 yards.) He also set the single-game rushing mark (156 yards.)

Slaton was later used by the Texans as their main kick returner in 2010, before getting released by the team in the 2011 offseason. After, Slaton’s fate as a professional football player was uncertain.

On September 28, 2011, Slaton was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins. He ultimately wound up playing in just three games, with only 17 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns, a far cry from his nine-touchdown performance in his first year back in ’08.

In September of 2012, Slaton got cut by Miami and later worked out for the Chicago Bears in the wake of Matt Forte’s injury. He wound up being unsigned in favor of Khalil Bell. The Detroit Lions also made a play for Slaton, but nothing materialized.

Slaton’s big splash came in college football as a member of the West Virginia Mountaineers.

At WVU, Slaton set, and still holds, the records for career rushing touchdowns (50), total touchdowns (55), single-game rushing touchdowns (6, October 15, 2005 vs. Louisville,) single-season rushing yards (1,744), single-season total yards (2,104), along with being near the top of the record books in scores of other categories.

Also during his college career, Slaton took the MVP honors at the 2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl while also being named 2005 Big East Freshman of the Year. He had 4,728 all-purpose yards for the ‘Eers  which saw the team earn two Bowl Championship Series appearances in his three years.

He also had quarterback Pat White, now with the Edmonton Eskimos, as his teammate. If you followed Mountaineers football at any point from 2005 to 2007, you know how explosive a tandem they were, and I don’t need to tell you how dynamite they were.

His pro career stats were less than spectacular: 1,896 rushing yards, 4.3 yards per carry, 13 touchdowns. That’s a good season for most NFL running backs. Fact of the matter is, for most of the time that Slaton was with the Texans, they had no offensive line of which to speak.

With the Argos signing Slaton, this creates some competition in training camp this year. Slaton is expected to battle Chad Kackert for the starting job. Kackert, who gained just 440 yards for Toronto in 2013, needs to step his game up or risk losing his job to Slaton.

Ideally, the Argos would want to have Kackert and Slaton split the rushing duties this coming year. If both men have a strong camp, they could emerge as an explosive tandem in the CFL in 2014.

In all honesty, the wider field in the CFL is advantageous to Slaton’s cause. He can produce rushing numbers more akin to his collegiate career. He could be the new Michael “Pinball” Clemons if he plays his cards right.

Mike and Mike: Worst Show on Sports Talk Radio (a.k.a., Making a Case for Boomer and Carton’s National Expansion)

I like a little sports talk in the morning with my cup of coffee. It soothes me and gets me going before I head out to school for the day.

You’ve got three main contenders for your listening pleasure: FOX Sports Daybreak (always good), Boomer and Carton, heard in New York City on WFAN-AM 660 and FM 101.9 and seen nationally on CBS Sports Network (great,) and the always horrible Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio.

I think I speak for all sports talk radio listeners when I ask “why is this piece of shit show still on the air after all these years?” The answer is simple: ratings. As long as this steaming pile of sheer radio tripe brings in the ratings, ESPN Radio simply does not care about the quality of its flagship program in the weekday lineup.

These asswipes try to be funny, but they’re not. The rapport between hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic is portrayed as a sitcom-like offshoot of Steve Urkel and Carl Winslow’s relationship on Family Matters. 

“Greeny” takes the role of an obnoxious nerd that you just want to punch in the nose, where as ex-NFL lineman Golic takes on the role of the common man with a penchant for stuffing his gullet with food. These guys are incredibly annoying. This show should not be viewed or listened to by anyone on any morning.

ESPN is to blame for putting this crap on the air, both on its national radio network and on television via ESPN2. If the network had any brains, which they might not, they’d wise up and cancel Mike & Mike.

Still, the show unfortunately goes on, and Douchebag & Douchebag… er, Mike & Mike, still have jobs. No one can seemingly beat this show, no one except Boomer and Carton. I have been watching these guys (former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and WFAN host Craig Carton) for some time now, every Tuesday and Thursday morning before I go to class at YSU.

I have never come across a program as good as Boomer and Carton and it’s great that these guys are finally taking their show to a national level by having it televised by CBS Sports Network every morning live from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time (it also is rerun from noon to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time daily on CBS Sports Network.)

At present, the CBS Sports Radio morning show is TBD in the Morning (Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson.) As is the case with all CBS Sports Radio shows, WFAN, like all other CBS owned-and operated sports radio stations, does not clear this program in favor of local shows like Boomer and Carton.

If CBS Sports Radio knew how well the Boomer and Carton program was doing in the ratings (it’s beating Dave Lupenthal’s show on WEPN, airing in place of Mike & Mike), they’d put Boomer and Carton on the national lineup in its morning slot.

If Boomer and Carton got placed on the CBS Sports Radio lineup, there’s no doubt that it would destroy the sucky Mike & Mike program in the ratings. Hey, CBS Sports Radio, make it happen!

 

Multitude of Issues Surround CFL, Players’ Association as CBA’s Expiration Nears

As the American sports media won’t tell you because they don’t care at all, the Canadian Football League and its players’ union are in a spat which could delay the start of 2014 CFL Training Camp and the regular season.

The charge: The CFLPA wants a return to revenue sharing with the League, something that they relinquished when they agreed to the soon-to-expire collective bargaining agreement prior to the 2010 season. (The current CFL CBA runs out on May 31, one day prior to the scheduled opening day of training camp for all nine CFL teams. The CFL has previously said they won’t play the 2014 season under the rules set forth by the 2010 CBA.)

Because of the CFL’s exclusive English and French language television contracts with TSN and RDS, the League has managed to recoup some of the money lost.

Still, the CFL contends that all of the new facilities opening or those soon to open require an outpouring of cash, as well. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are set to move into the new Tim Hortons’ Stadium at the outset of the 2014 season, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders need to come up with $40 million to construct their new ballpark, due to open in 2017.

Another interesting aspect is that the CFLPA recently requested that all active players supply their mailing addresses in the event that they would need to vote to strike late this spring.

Money isn’t the only issue here. The CFL is fighting to increase the work week from four and a half hours daily to 44 hours a week, the maximum number of work hours permitted by Canadian labour law. The Players’ Association also wishes to see a decrease in contact during practice sessions.

Players maintain that every hit they take and every blow they sustain depreciates their playing career. No kidding. We’ve seen countless football players suffer brain damage, become paralyzed, get reduced to a vegetative state, and die because of blows to the head and body.

On the other side of the coin, the League contends that having padded practices helps its players get adequately prepared for gameday scenarios. Hard to argue with either viewpoint there.

The key on this issue, as well as all the other sticking points to this CBA, is who blinks first. As of this writing, there’s a stalemate between the CFL and CFLPA, and the next round of face-to-face negotiations will take place early next month.

It goes without saying that the clock’s ticking away. Look at this timeline:

  • Early May: Next round of meetings taking place in Toronto.
  • May 13: 2014 CFL College Draft (noon ET, TSN) [coverage continues at 2:00 ET on TSN Mobile TV] {Canadian broadcast only.}
  • May 31: Current Canadian Football League CBA lapses.
  • June 1: (pending approval and ratification of new CBA) Training camps open.
  • June 9-20: (pending approval and ratification of new CBA) CFL Preseason games played.
  • June 26: (pending approval and ratification of new CBA) Regular season begins (Toronto Argonauts vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers.)

There’s a bit of a silver lining with all of this. History dictates that the CFL CBA will be agreed to and ratified by the May 31 deadline. Only once (1974) has the CFL and CFLPA failed to agree to the collective bargaining agreement in time.

Then again, the CFL and CFLPA could take this all the way up to the final days prior to the expiration of the CBA. The current CBA was agreed to on May 26, 2010, a mere five days before the 2006 CBA was set to expire.

The CFL and CFLPA will likely agree to the new CBA before the May 31 deadline. It’s just a question of when.

QUICK ADDITION: CFL commissioner Mark Cohon appeared in an interview during TSN’s broadcast of Game 2 of the Brooklyn Nets/Toronto Raptors NBA Eastern Conference First Round playoff series on Tuesday night. When asked about the CBA, he said:

We’ve got to create a fair deal with our players… We want to play.”

 

 

ADDITION TO THE QUICK ADDITION: The CFLPA is under new leadership. Scott Flory, offensive lineman for the Montreal Alouettes, recently took the position after retired Edmonton Eskimos receiver Mike Morreale stepped down to become the National Sales Manager, United States for Concord, Ontario-based DVI Lighting, Inc. 

http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/sports/cfl/story/1.2593414

American Conference Producing Viable Contenders in AFL

In the AFL, you have power teams in the National Conference like the Arizona Rattlers and Spokane Shock. Both of these clubs have powerhouse names like Nick Davila, Erik Meyer, Tysson Poots, and Adron Tennell.

Both of these teams are legit title contenders for certain, and have a good shot at playing football in August this year.

But hold on, because it seems that the American Conference has clubs that can hang with their National Conference counterparts and are real contenders in their own right, as well. Although it’s been long contended that the National Conference is the more dominant of the two in the Arena Football League, we may already be seeing a turning of the tide.

Just look at the records of some of the best teams in the American Conference and the teams that they’ve recently had to face. The 5-0 Cleveland Gladiators now have Quicken Loans Arena all to themselves for the rest of the spring and summer with the Cavs on vacation.

Last week, they had to fight tooth and nail with Meyer and the Shock in Spokane. After Shock receiver Hank Edwards caught the go-ahead TD pass with 13 seconds remaining, Cleveland was faced with 29 yards between them and the victory.

Chris Dieker threw the ball up for grabs on the final play, finding Thyron Lewis, who snatched the ball from the rebound net for the touchdown at the buzzer, stealing the 52-50 victory away from Spokane.

Next up, the Gladiators return home to battle the 3-2 Pittsburgh Power in a rematch of their 63-53 Week One win. The Power got into a dog-fight themselves last Saturday night versus the Arizona Rattlers.

The game was a classic strength vs. strength war. Points were the order of the day, with the teams seemingly trading touchdowns with each other all game long. Though Power receiver Aaron LeSue had a fabulous game, catching six TDs (a franchise record for Pittsburgh), Nick Davila was truly the better gunslinger, ending the night with nine touchdowns en route to a 73-69 victory for Arizona.

It was the most impressive losing effort that any team in the AFL has put up against Arizona so far this year. The Power, unlike many of the Rattlers’ previous opponents, were actually able to hang with Arizona throughout the game.

Fans who tuned into the NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday Game of the Week on CBS Sports Network saw an awesome display from the Iowa Barnstormers in their home battle against the LA KISS. In J.J. Raterink’s first appearance in Iowa since being traded to LA, he and the KISS were effectively shut down.

LA was kept off the board through the first 15 minutes, and Raterink was absolutely horrible, getting intercepted three times against his former team. Iowa managed to hold the KISS to a mere 12 points on Saturday night to improve to 3-2. Every Barnstormers defensive back notched an interception in the win.

Thus far, Carson Coffman has gone 112-for-197 for 1,329 yards, 23 touchdowns, and five interceptions. J.J. Rater-who?

Even the Orlando Predators have emerged as a prime contender seven weeks into the season. Their 4-2 start is reminiscent of the Predators teams from yesteryear.

In this year’s second incarnation of The War on I-4 against the Tampa Bay Storm in Orlando, Preds QB Jason Boltus had a hot hand, passing for nine touchdowns (four to rookie wideout Greg Carr) and 365 yards en route to a 77-65 disposal of their division rivals.

Carr intercepted Randy Hippeard’s pass on what would have been a two-point conversion attempt to draw the Storm closer. Carr took the ball all the way to save the win.

By and large, the American Conference is greatly improved just seven weeks into the season, compared to what it was last year. If you look at the arenafootball.com poll question for this week, it asks which undefeated team (Arizona or Cleveland) will stay undefeated longer.

Judging by their schedule, Cleveland probably has the tougher road to go this year, but don’t be shocked if the Gladiators and Arizona meet in the ArenaBowl two Saturdays before Labor Day.

Alouettes Say “Bonjour” to Ochocinco

A few weeks back, the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes turned heads when it was announced that they would invite former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson for a tryout during spring mini-camp in Florida.

The Oregon State Beavers alumnus wowed Alouettes scouts in his Tuesday workout session, making sharp cuts to rid himself of defenders and hauling in passes just short of midfield. It seemed to have worked. Earlier today, general manager Jim Popp inked Johnson to a contract.

Johnson, who spent over a decade playing football stateside with the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots, was signed to the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad during the 2012 NFL preseason. His US career was derailed after he was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery on his girlfriend.

Earlier in the week, Johnson met with reporters at Alouettes’ mini-camp in Vero Beach, and he admits that because of his negative rapport with the League, the doors are likely now closed to an NFL return.

“It was a horrible mistake,” Johnson said. “A dream of mine since I was 4 years old was taken from me, rightfully so, by my wrongdoings.”

Johnson is happy to be playing football anywhere at this point.

“I just want to get back to doing something that I love to do, regardless of where it is,” he said. “[Whether it's] Montreal, flag football, back in the street the way I grew up, I just want to play football.”

The receiver utilized his Twitter account to reach out to the Als, and Popp quieted the rumors of a publicity stunt by Johnson and his camp. Here’s what he had to say:

It’s all business. It’s real. He’s in great shape. He wants to play and we’ll see how things are. None of you would know it was here unless it got tweeted out. ”

This is what Popp said of the decision to sign Johnson.

Chad Johnson did an outstanding job the last three days. As we added him into the mix, it was to see how he communicated with the players, how he held himself, the way he physically held up, his true interest in coming to the CFL. It was a total evaluation so that it’s a good fit. He was very happy and very excited to be on the field again and we are happy to welcome him to the Alouettes.”

Chad Johnson is a man who, in the last several years, has done a complete 180 from the kind of guy that he was in Cincinnati. He has engaged in misdeeds, paid the price, and has now learned from them.

At this stage in his career, the 36-year-old Johnson is not looking for a big-money contract like so many athletes of his stature are, but rather just a second chance at playing the game he is passionate about. Football is Chad Johnson’s life.

Having that game taken away from him two years ago was a real wake-up call for him, a call which he answered. Here’s hoping he has a successful run as a member of the Als.

QUICK ADDENDUM: Johnson must still obtain a work permit in order to play in Canada. The Als hope to know whether or not his permit is approved by Thursday, May 1. Montreal’s training camp is set to begin on Sunday, June 1, with its first preseason game on Saturday, June 14.

http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/story/?id=449632

https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/chad-johnson-takes-steps-toward-234605248–nfl.html

CFL Posts Coming Soon!

Football is not just a game with a 100-yard field. Sometimes it’s played on a 50-yard field, or, in the case of Canadian football, a 110-yard field. In some instances, you don’t get four downs to gain 10 yards for a first down, you get just three.

You don’t have 11 men to a side in some leagues, you have 12. Some players are from their home country, while others are imports.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the magic of the CFL. The CFL is not covered that much by the American sports media, and it’s a damn shame. Half of the players in the CFL are American.

The CFL is viewed by many of its detractors as a “dumping ground” for players who were just not good enough to make it in the NFL. In reality, NFL legends such as Warren Moon, Jeff Garcia, and the great Doug Flutie, had fruitful careers in the Great White North before taking their talents stateside.

It is in that positive spirit that today, I proudly announce that, in addition to the Arena Football, Indians baseball, and all the other posts you see on here, you will now see a category devoted to all things Canadian football and the CFL! 

The CFL is perhaps the most exciting brand of outdoor gridiron football in North America, and my goal here is to bring some of that excitement to you, right here on this blog. This is Drew Zuhosky, The 3-Down American, reminding you to never concede the rouge.

Indians/Tigers Postponement a Sign of Wussification in America

The Indians should be playing tonight. They should be in action right now against the Detroit Tigers. It should be game one of a three-game series. I should be listening to Tom Hamilton right now.

But I’m not doing any of that, because the Indians aren’t playing tonight. The game was postponed at the discretion and the decision of the Tigers because of what was termed “inclement weather.” The game, which was called around 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time today, did not need to be postponed.

Sure, there was snow on the ground in Detroit this morning, but it’s fine now. No new snow has fallen in Detroit since earlier this afternoon, when the game was called. This is total BS. The field at Comerica Park, where the Tigers call home, is in good condition tonight.

This game should never have gotten postponed, at all. So WHAT if it’s just a little too cold for baseball? That’s not an excuse, nor will it ever be. Damn it, we have people who show up to playoff football games at Lambeau Field in sub-zero temperatures drunk off their asses, wearing nothing but a pair of undergarments.

But when chilly temperatures are factored into whetheisr or not a baseball game gets played, the conditions lean the decision toward “not.” Why is this the case?

As long as there’s no snow falling, who really cares how cold the weather is? Play on. It just floors me that they decided to call it off with no inclement weather in the forecast.

At the core, the decision to unnecessarily postpone tonight’s ballgame is another sad example of how soft we have become in this country. It’s another chapter in the wussification of America.

Good Lord, this is like the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. “Oh, this porridge is too cold.” If Goldilocks had the guts, she’d have eaten the cold porridge, slept in the big bed, and sat in the big chair. Goldilocks didn’t have the guts because she was a wimp that enjoyed things that were small and juuuuuuuuuuuuust right! 

If the Indians and Tigers had the guts, they’d be playing right now. But that’s sadly not the case because these guys are too soft. There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be playing tonight. Skies are clear in Detroit right now, and there is no snow.

Instead, they decided to take the wimpy route tonight and not play when the game really could have been played. I am disgusted by this. Don’t give me that crap about how it’s too cold. I sat on metal bleachers to watch a college football game during a snowstorm last November, so I know a thing or two about weather that’s “too cold.”

Because of the Tigers’ regretful choice to postpone a game that didn’t need to be called, they will now be forced to make up the game that should be going on right now as part of a day-night doubleheader in July. Dumb move. Man up and play ball!

No Tom Hamilton tonight. No baseball. Bob Frantz is yakking the night away on the radio. It’s all thanks to the Tigers’ stupid mistake. I’d have played.