#Als sign Ex-#Rams, #Cowboys Linebacker Michael Sam

In the run-up to the 2014 NFL Draft, former Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam made a courageous revelation to the media and to the country as a whole.

Before the NFL Scouting Combine last year, Sam announced that he was gay. The defensive back was ultimately selected with the St. Louis Rams’ seventh-round draft pick (249th overall) last May.

Despite a preseason wherein Sam recorded 11 tackles and three quarterback sacks, he failed to make the regular season 53-man roster. Just days before the NFL regular season began last September, the Dallas Cowboys acquired Sam, signing him to their practice squad.

Last October, Sam was waived by the Cowboys organization after a month and a half.

For months, Sam has been waiting to get back in the game in any form. Today, he’s back in football.

The Montreal Alouettes have signed Michael Sam to a one-year contract with the team, a deal which includes a vesting option for an additional season in 2016.

Sam comes to Montreal after having a great college career at Missouri, where he recorded 123 tackles (36 for loss), 21 sacks, and two interceptions.

His best season of his collegiate career came in 2013, his senior year. That season, Sam split the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award with Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley, currently with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

In the 2013 season, Sam had 11.5 sacks (the conference leader in said category), 21 tackles, and one forced fumble (which he took back for a touchdown in the 2014 Cotton Bowl Classic, a 41-31 Tigers win, only the second Missouri Cotton Bowl victory in team history.)

Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp welcomed Sam to the team warmly on Friday, saying “With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today. Not only have we added an outstanding football player, we have added even a better person that brings dignity, character, and heart to our team.”

Sam welcomes the opportunity. When reached for comment on Friday morning, he thanked Popp, Robert Wettenhall, Alouettes owner, and head coach Tom Higgins for taking a flyer on him. He’s eager to get to work.

“I cannot wait to put on the pads, get back on the field and work hard each and every day with my teammates to bring a Grey Cup to the great fans here in Montreal,” Sam said in a statement Friday morning.

New CFL Commissioner Jeffery Orridge weighed in on the signing earlier Friday, as well, congratulating the Alouettes organization on bringing Sam to the team, and calling the signing  “another indication of how open and progressive the CFL is.”

Personally, I’m very happy for Sam and the Alouettes organization. Michael Sam is a great football player, one who deserves a chance to show everyone what he can do at the professional level. He struck a blow for gay athletes and gay people everywhere. This is a man who deserves our respect and admiration.

Best of luck to Michael Sam.

Team Morale a Key to Breaking KISS Slump

The Los Angeles KISS have had a rough go of things to start their franchise. After going 3-15 in the inaugural 2014 campaign, they still have yet to record a victory in their sophomore campaign.

At 0-8, LA is the last winless team in the Arena League this season, and the stats reflect their record.

First off, LA has only scored 300 total points through eight weeks of play while surrendering 466, the worst aggregate score in the league. Secondly, the KISS have committed 80 penalties for 494 yards lost, also dead last in Arena in this category.

The KISS also rank last in every other major statistical category in the AFL, except for yards gained on offense. With this week being the team’s bye, it’s time for head coach Bob McMillen to take the focus off of football for right now and try to loosen his players up.

When any team endures a long slump like the KISS have endured to begin this season, sometimes doing non-game related activities can boost a club’s morale and really bring the players together.

Between games, the KISS could try a yoga session. Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt cancelled his team’s practice on May 10, before Cleveland’s come-from-behind win over the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinal versus the Chicago Bulls, this being less than 24 hours removed from dropping Game Three at the hands of Chicago and Derrick Rose, whose game-winning buzzer-beater gave the Bulls a 2-1 series lead.

Blatt instead had a team yoga session at the Cavs’ hotel that Saturday, and the Cavs wound up taking the ensuing three games to secure a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. If it worked for Cleveland, it can work for LA.

Secondly, McMillen could try taking the team out for a fun night of bowling. A game of bowling or two is sometimes a great stress reliever, and this 0-8 team is obviously under a tremendous amount of stress.  Plus, sports teams will often hold bowling nights with some of the players, so why not take the guys out to knock down some pins?

Thirdly, how about a night at the arcade for the team? Arcade and video games are quite a good stress reliever, and can really bring out togetherness among the players of the LA KISS. In between games on a West Coast trip last season, several players on the Cleveland Indians found an arcade in the Anaheim area to blow off steam after dropping a series to the San Francisco Giants, although the slump continued in the ensuing series against the LA Angels.

The LA KISS desperately need a slump-buster and they need one very soon. Breaking the slump begins with boosting the team’s morale, and then the KISS can work up from there.

Late Hits Should Be Among Rule Changes in Arena Football

We’re about a week and change removed from the late hit delivered by Arizona Rattlers noseguard Anttaj Hawthorne to San Jose SaberCats quarterback Erik Meyer during the May 2 nationally-televised game.

Last Tuesday, as a result of the hit, which occurred after Meyer was already injured by Hawthorne’s teammate, Mike McAdoo, the AFL banned Hawthorne for four games. Meyer left the arena the night of the injury by ambulance.

Meyer was placed on inactive reserve by the SaberCats organization several days later and backup quarterback Nathan Stanley started in his place last Saturday night in San Jose’s 61-28 victory over expansion Las Vegas. After hearing peoples’ thoughts about the late hit and reading articles pertaining to said hit in preparation for this blog post, I feel that it’s time for the AFL to make changes to the late hit rule, among others.

First off, any egregious late hit on a quarterback, such as Hawthorne’s hit to Meyer’s upper body, should be subject to an automatic ejection.

These types of hits will take years off quarterbacks’ lives. Remember the vicious hit delivered by John Mohring of Iowa to Meyer during the opening game of the season in 2012 when Meyer was a member of the Spokane Shock? That hit in question resulted in Mohring getting tossed from the game and Meyer being out the entire season with a concussion.

Secondly, they should review late hits that cause ejections in the same manner that the NCAA does for targeting/ initiating contact with the crown of the helmet. Anyone who has watched major college football over the past several years knows this rule by heart. If the call is reversed after the video review, the penalty in question and subsequent ejection is rescinded.

Since 15 yards is too large of a foul to be assessed in the Arena League, the foul should be 10 yards and an automatic ejection.

Thirdly, the AFL has prided itself on having a fast-paced style of play, which, as fans have seen every week for almost 30 years, has lent itself to points in bunches. At present, the length of the play clock on plays not occurring after penalties is 35 seconds. The League should at least experiment in shortening the play clock’s length on such plays to 30 seconds. This would make the pace of the game a little faster.

In keeping with the play clock theme, when the game clock is under 35 seconds in the quarter, the play clock should be deactivated, like in the NBA when the shot clock goes dead under 24 seconds in the quarter. This would create a no-huddle offense for the last few plays of the quarter, especially in close games.

The only exception to this rule is in the event of an incomplete pass in the second and fourth quarters of games when the one-minute timing rules go into effect, and it would also be used in the event of a timeout with under 35 seconds to play in the quarter. For these instances, the play clock would be turned back on when a timeout is called for or an incomplete pass is thrown.

This is where you have the floor, AFL fans. What other rule changes do you think the League should consider?

“X-Files” Reboot Series Gets Premiere Date Set; Show Debuts in January

In 1993, the original X-Files series took the country and world by storm with its plots revolving around UFOs, space aliens, investigations and the platonic relationship between Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (portrayed by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, respectively.)

In later years, specifically, the eighth and ninth seasons, Agent John Doggett (played by Robert Patrick, whose character was brought in to replace Mulder after he was abducted by aliens, died, and resurrected) [Mulder appeared sporadically thereafter] and Agent Monica Reyes (played by Annabeth Gish) joined the cast, with the writing staff hoping that both characters would be the successors to Duchovny and Anderson’s characters.

Anderson remained a constant fixture on the original series, as well as both X-Files theatrically-released films.

In 2002, following nine seasons, 202 original episodes, and one feature film, The X-Files was retired by the FOX network, with nightly reruns continuing on Sci-Fi Channel and TNT (which had just recently transitioned to its current full-fledged schedule of off-network reruns of dramatic series and films at the time) for several years.

Weekly syndicated reruns of the series, which had been running since the fall of 1997, continued for a few more years, as well.

Flash-forward to this past March, when FOX announced a major piece of news, particularly so in this era of old primetime series being reimagined and resurrected. The X-Files was back.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will each return portraying their classic roles of Agents Mulder and Scully… FBI! (Sorry, I had to do that.) Mitch Pileggi, who portrayed Assistant Director Skinner, will also be back on the miniseries.

And, yes, The Smoking Man, played by William B. Davis, will return, as well. All of this was confirmed by Duchovny in a Letterman interview earlier this spring.

FOX has now announced the premiere date of this new six-episode miniseries of The X-Files. It will debut on January 24, right after the network’s coverage of the 2015 NFC Championship Game on FOX NFL Sunday earlier in the evening.

That’s a good callback to the original series, which aired on Sundays for much of its nine-season run.

After the debut of the miniseries, it will move to its usual time, Mondays at 8:00 p.m. EST/PST for the next five Mondays.

To allow for the new X-Files in January and February, returning series Gotham, which usually occupies the 8:00 timeslot on FOX on Monday evenings, will be put on hold for the duration and re-assume its normal time after the miniseries.

I’ve been excited for this new miniseries since the day it was officially announced. The X-Files was the show which sparked my interest in UFOs and space aliens, an interest which still continues to this day.

Get ready, because, come January, The Truth is Out There… all over again.

ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to Program Repeat on Night of Last “Letterman” Broadcast

In 12 days from now, legendary late night talk show host David Letterman, 68, will bid farewell to television on his final original episode of The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. While the guests for Letterman’s last three episodes have yet to be revealed, the host of a rival comedy series has revealed his plans for the big night.

As a tribute to Letterman’s television career, Jimmy Kimmel, host of the self-titled Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC, a show that has aired directly opposite The Late Show since January 8, 2013, has said that his show will be programming an encore presentation of a previous broadcast on the evening of May 20 in lieu of an original program.

Kimmel, a man whose comedy career was influenced by Letterman, will be the only rival late night host to take that evening off. At this time, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC and Conan on TBS will be first-run offerings that night.

In an e-mail interview with The New York Times, Kimmel explains his reasoning behind the rerun, saying “I have too much respect for Dave to do anything that would distract viewers from watching his final show. Plus, I’ll probably be crying all day, which makes it hard to work.”

Kimmel should be applauded for his decision to not program a new broadcast on the same night as David Letterman’s final show. Dave is quite simply one of the best talk show hosts of all-time, right up there with the late, great Johnny Carson.

Through the years, several late night hosts have come and gone, such as Arsenio Hall, George Lopez, and Chevy Chase, but Dave has remained the one true constant in late night television. Although incoming Late Show host Stephen Colbert, whose incarnation of the program will not begin until the night after Labor Day, will be taking over the franchise, the show will not be the same without Dave.

Nor will late night TV.

Today’s current crop of late night hosts, like Kimmel, Fallon. and Conan, all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Letterman. Without Letterman, there wouldn’t be a Jimmy Kimmel, there wouldn’t be a Conan, and there wouldn’t be a Jimmy Fallon.

It’s in that spirit that I think Fallon and Conan should follow Kimmel’s lead and program reruns of their respective shows, as well.

When it was announced that Letterman’s final Late Show episode would be broadcast on May 20, it was known that the night would belong to Dave. It should belong to him, too.

Chances are, someone who currently watches Fallon or Kimmel grew up watching Dave. The fact that NBC and TBS are currently planning original Tonight Show and Conan episodes on the night of the last original Lettermanhosted Late Show is mind-boggling.

David Letterman is a late night legend. On May 20, the night will belong to Dave. The other networks should do the respectful, honorable thing and let the night belong to Dave.

The Late Show with David Letterman will continue with first-run episodes until May 20 on CBS.

Why I’m Boycotting Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

It may be a much-anticipated fight, but I’m boycotting it. It may have gotten advanced billing as the “Fight of the Century”, but I’m boycotting it. It’s the right thing for me to do.

Later tonight, inside Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will go toe-to-toe in the biggest boxing match in a long time. I, for one, have no interest in the bout whatsoever.

As you’ve heard in the run-up to tonight’s big fight, Floyd Mayweather has had a troubling history of domestic violence charges brought against him. Back in 2001, Mayweather and his daughter’s mother bickered over child support payments, an argument which escalated to the point where he swung open a car door, hitting the woman in the head. He then punched her three times in her face, bruising her in the process.

His record has gotten worse from there. Mayweather is, at the core, a personification of abuse.

Since 2002, Mayweather has been convicted of domestic assault multiple times, including numerous counts of battery and domestic violence.

Simply put, anyone who has bought, or is thinking of buying, tonight’s pay-per-view broadcast is giving money to this guy. Anyone who abuses a woman cannot be called a man, period.

Besides, there are so many other alternatives you can watch today and tonight, like the last few rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. As I’m typing this blog post, I’m watching the draft on NFL Network. There’s also an NBA Playoffs game tonight. At 8:00 p.m. EDT on TNT, the Los Angeles Clippers will battle the San Antonio Spurs in the only Game 7 of the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

There will also be baseball on today and tonight. FOX Sports 1 has a doubleheader starting at 4:00 EDT this afternoon.
NBC will also begin its Kentucky Derby coverage at the same time.

Tonight, the Arena Football League will showcase five games in Week #6 of the season throughout the night, and there will also be a full day and evening of matches in Major League Soccer.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao may be the biggest fight in recent memory, but is it really worth your money or time? I know it isn’t worth it for me.

#Browns Whiff on Second First Round #NFLDraft Pick

At least the Cleveland Browns kept both of their original selections in Thursday night’s first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. They didn’t trade up with the Titans to snag the #2 overall pick, Marcus Mariota out of Oregon.

Their first pick, Danny Shelton, a nose tackle out of the University of Washington at the #12 spot, was a fairly good selection, with CBS Sports giving the front office a B for choosing him.

Shelton, a former Academic All-American and PAC-12 All-Academic selection, has proven to be a good pass-rusher and tackler.  He’ll be a man that the Browns, who ranked 32nd in rush defense a season ago, will look toward to improve on that mark.

It’s what Cleveland did with their second first round draft pick that raised some eyebrows.

With Nelson Agholor, the leading wide receiver on last year’s USC Trojans team (104 receptions for 1,313 yards [12.6 yards per catch] and 12 touchdowns) still on the board at #19, the Browns pass him up in favor of Cameron Erving, offensive lineman out of Florida State. Agholor was instead selected by the Philadelphia Eagles one pick later.

Erving can no doubt help the Browns’ offensive line, one that was reeling after the season-ending injury to Pro Bowl center Alex Mack a year ago.

In his Seminoles career, Erving also spent some time as a defensive lineman, registering 22 tackles and one sack over three years of action.

Still, though, the fact that the Browns missed out on a tall wideout who can catch the football, run punt and kick returns back, and score is just mind-boggling.

At present, the tallest receiver on the Browns is 6’5″ Rodney Smith, who’s five inches taller than Agholor. Smith has yet to even catch a pass in his career. His most recent stats are from 2012, when he caught 38 passes for 524 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the FSU Seminoles.

In the past, Browns receivers have routinely dropped wide-open passes.  Agholor doesn’t do that. As his 2014 stats at USC indicate, he is a sure-handed receiver who can get the football into the end zone regularly. Quite simply, he was the best option that the Browns could have had at receiver in the draft.

Some people are hoping and banking that Devin Smith out of defending national champion Ohio State (931 yards on 33 receptions and 12 touchdowns in 2014) will still be on the board when Cleveland selects with the 43rd overall pick tonight in the second round.

Although Smith has the capability of making a big play every time he catches the ball, he doesn’t necessarily fit the Browns’ offensive scheme in my opinion.

At the same time, however, Smith would be a viable replacement for suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon, who’s been banned for the entire 2015-16 NFL season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Smith is the same height as Gordon, so maybe he could fit in the scheme in the long run.


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