Saturday, July 29, 2006

Got Chocolate Milk?

I've always loved chocolate milk. I would rather drink chocolate milk than regular milk. Actually, I would rather drink chocolate milk than water. I know that's not practical, but it's the truth. Now, I have an excuse to drink chocolate milk. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism recently, says chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid after a strenuous workout. In fact, the study said drinking chocolate milk helped athletes perform nearly twice as well in subsequent workouts than a carbohydrate replacement drink, and just as effective as Gatorade. I love Gatorade, but not as much as I love chocolate milk! Now, I have an excuse to drink both of them. I'll drink Gatorade during the workout, to replenish the fluids and electrolytes I lose while working out, then drink chocolate milk after the workout to help my muscles recover. Now, all I have to do is start working out...

Billy Cundiff's Shoe Donated To His High School

Former Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff has one shoe in the hall of fame, and another in his high school trophy case. The plant shoe he wore when he kicked a record-tying 7 field goals against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football back in 2003, has been donated to the high school where his playing career began. There's a good article in the Harlan Tribune about it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Parcellisms: The Highlight Of Cowboys Camp

There are a lot of people excited about the Dallas Cowboys getting underway at training camp in Oxnard, California. Most of the focus has been on new wide receiver Terrell Owens. But, my favorite part of camp, year in and year out, is Bill Parcells' press conferences. Seriously.

Most coaches and players are busy refining their "coach speak." You know what I'm talking about. Here are some examples:

"We're taking it one game at at time, giving it 110%..."

"You have to play all four quarters..."

"We're firing on all cylinders..."

Parcells has his own form of coach speak. He talks in what we like to call, Parcellisms. They are statements not necessarily unique, but not usually associated with sports.

Here's what I'm talking about. This is from today's camp opening press conference.

On answering a question about all the talent this years squad has, and what he told his players:

"I told them, I don't care how may lemons you got, or what the quality of the lemons are. You still got to make the lemonade."

And, responding to questions about defensive back Keith Davis, claiming to be an innocent victim of a shooting, for the second time:

"My father used to have an expression for things like that, you know. He used to say, hey Parcells, it's never your fault but you're always there."

That's classic! Those are the kinds of answers I like to hear.

So, buckle the chin strap, because we've got our back against the wall, and it's do-or-die time. We're ready to give it all we've got. It's a team game and we're ready to play.

Eric Williams On NFL Training Camp

Check out KLTV NFL analyst Eric Williams' Full Contact article this week on NFL training camps. It's timely, as the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL open their camps this week.

Here's an excerpt:

I think the old Redskin offensive lineman, captain of the Hogs, Jeff Bostic, said it best to me as we lay there stretching on the first morning of training camp. "Eric, you know, right now, this will be the best we will feel for the next 6 months." I laid there in that summer heat, with sweat dripping off my brow, thinking, what a profound statement he made, especially since it came from an offensive lineman.

Eric played defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins in the 80's and 90's. He won a Super Bowl with the Redskins in 1992.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gander Mountain Tip: Blade Basics

Gander Mountain has a team of experts in hunting, fishing, camping, marine and outdoor life that are dying to share their knowledge with local folks. As a result, their "Pro Staff" has agreed to provide me with tips and tricks on various outdoor experiences throughout the year.

Here's a fishing tip from Joe Bucher on blade basics:

The raw shape and physics of a blade have everything to do with its performance. This is the key thing to learn and recognize about spinners in general. Here are a few general guidelines to follow when looking at various spinner blades. Big round blades make a bait run shallow. Smaller, thinner blades do just the opposite. This, in itself, will help you determine which spinner lure to choose for a specific task. The more you know about blade dynamics and spinner function, the better it will all serve you on the water. Once you know the true physical function of these various blades, it will make all these choices much easier. Essentially, large rounded blades produce a lot of "lift," resulting in a lure that quickly rises up towards the surface as retrieve speed is increased. The faster you retrieve a big bladed bucktail, the shallower it will run. Consequently, if you're fishing high weeds, typical by late summer (August & September), you can't go wrong with a big-bladed spinner.

Joe Bucher, Gander Mountain Pro Staff
From: "Fishing with Joe Bucher" on the Sportsman's Channel

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

East Texans To Play In All-Star Game-But Should They?

I've never understood why college football programs allow their recruits to play in all-star games. Yes, it's a great honor, but it's also a great way to get your top player hurt before he ever walks onto campus. I've heard the argument... Whether a kid blows a knee in an all-star game, or fall practice on campus, he was going to blow his knee anyway. But, how do you know if those coaches are truly looking out for your recruit, or training him the way you would have trained him?

All I have to say is Tony VanZant. Never heard of him? Exactly! VanZant was considered the savior for the University of Missouri football program. The running back from Hazelwood Central high school in St. Louis was named the Parade Magazine national player of the year in 1985 (Emmitt Smith earned the same honor the following year). He could have gone anywhere, but he decided to stay in state and play for new Tigers head coach Woody Widenhofer. The summer before his freshman year at Missouri, VanZant decided to play in an all-star game. He blew out his knee in that game and never made it to Columbia that year. He would eventually play for Missouri, but was never the same after the injury. He's now a high school coach in Michigan.

Kevin Simon of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, a Tennessee recruit, blew his knee in the 2000 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was forced to redshirt at Tennessee that year, and struggled with ankle and knee injuries the rest of his career. His story is a little more promising than VanZant's, though. The Redskins took a chance and drafted him in the 7th round this year. We'll see how those knees hold up in the NFL. Ironically, several De La Salle players have declined all-star game invitations ever since the incident with Simon.

High School all-star football games should be honorary. If a game would be played, these players would be included. If I'm Mack Brown, I wouldn't let Longview's Vondrell McGee anywhere near the THSCA All-Star game next Tuesday, especially following the announcement that Ramonce Taylor is leaving school. Chances are he won't get hurt, but why take that chance?

East Texans scheduled to play in the THSCA All-Star game Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at UT Memorial Stadium at 7:30 PM:

North All-Stars

E. J. Shankle - WR - Lufkin (Texas A&M)
Vondrell McGee - RB - Longview (Texas)
Tyler Jones - LB - Emory Rains (SMU)
Jason Teague - DB - Carthage (LSU)
Kerry Maddox - DB - John Tyler (Washington St. )
Daylon McCoy - LB - Tatum (LA Lafeyette)
Dustin Earnest - LB - Texas High (Texas)

South All-Stars

Deroderick Strickland - QB/WR - Big Sandy (Reedley College)
Justin Smart - LB - Marshall (SMU)
Jessie Harrison - LB - Paul Pewitt (Arkansas Tech)
Jared Lindsey - DT - Alto (Houston)
Britt Mitchell - TE - Kilgore (Texas)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Top 10: Greatest QB's Of All Time

I realize this is a subjective list. No one can truly rank the best NFL quarterbacks based on pure statistics, otherwise we'd have to include the likes of Vinny Testaverde, Dave Krieg or Boomer Esiason. No offense to those guys, but there's more to being a great quarterback then just stats. You have to consider many factors, including leadership, performance under pressure, and of course, Super Bowls. Spencer, our sports producer, and I sat down to hash out our top 10 list. We first added the no-brainers to the list, then "nominated" a large group of potential candidates. We then considered stats, eras, wins and impact on the team and league. It wasn't easy, but here is what we came up with.

1. John Elway -- Elway was a no-brainer. He probably would have made the list even without his final two seasons, but adding two Super Bowl wins to his resume made him a shoo-in. The Denver Broncos legend leads the NFL All-time in wins, winning percentage, most Pro Bowl selections for a QB (9), most game winning or game-tying 4th quarter scoring drives (47), Super Bowl appearances as a starting QB (5), and most rushing touchdowns by a QB in the Super Bowl (4). Even when the Broncos were bad, he made them good. He could nearly single-handedly win ball games. And, when you can say "The Drive" and everyone automatically knows you're talking about Elway beating the Cleveland Browns in the 1987 AFC Championship game, you deserve to be here. I know there will be argument as to whether or not he's number one, but his sheer athleticism is scary. How soon we forget, Elway hit .318 with 4 home runs, 25 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 42 games for Oneonta of the New York-Penn League in '82, and would probably have been Lou Piniella's replacement in right for the New York Yankees! That sucker was going to be successful no matter what sport he played. (He played 16 years)

2. Joe Montana -- While Elway is known for "The Drive", Montana is known for being a part of "The Catch". As Cowboys fans are painfully aware, it was Montana who lofted that now famous six yard pass just out of the reach of Everson Walls to Dwight Clark in the back corner of the endzone with less than 90 seconds to play to help the San Francisco 49er's beat Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game. Nicknamed "Joe Cool", Montana is top 10 all-time in pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. But, it was the postseason where Montana really made his mark. He holds post-season records for most career TD passes (45), and passing yards (5772). He holds Super Bowl records for highest career passing rating (127.8), most career completions (83 in 4 games), most consecutive completions in a game(13), most career yards gained (1,142), and most career TD passes (11). He was the winning QB in four Super Bowls, and is the only player to win the Super Bowl MVP three times. He's also the only quarterback to play in four Super Bowls without throwing an interception! (He played 15 years)

3. Dan Marino -- OK, there's no doubt the Miami Dolphins great deserves to be on this list, but some will argue this is too high, while others will say he's the greatest of all time. Here are the facts: He's the only quarterback on the list without a Super Bowl win. He took the Dolphins to the playoffs 10 of his 17 seasons, led them to three AFC Championship game and one Super Bowl, losing to Montana and the 49er's in Super Bowl XIX. But this is where statistics plays a huge role. Marino holds or held nearly every quarterback record in the game. Currently, his name sits atop 26 NFL records, including 61,361 career passing yards, a total that may never be caught. A Super Bowl win probably would have solidified him as the best ever. (He played 17 years)

4. Bart Starr -- I know I'm too young to truly grasp the impact the QB's of eras gone by had, but I'm a student of the game, and I know dominance when I see it. Starr was the best player on the best team of his era. He led the Green Bay Packers to six NFL Championship games, winning 5 of them. He also led the Packers to wins in the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967 and was named the MVP of both of them. He made one of most famous plays in one of most famous games, again, Cowboys fans will well remember, the 1967 "Ice Bowl" in which Starr scored on a QB sneak to win it and send the packers to Super Bowl II. (He played 16 years)

5. Brett Favre -- Some will say this is too high for Favre. There are many QB's below him with more Super Bowl wins. But few if any QB's below him played such a large role in his team's success. Take Favre off the Green Bay Packers, and they don't win anything. I know that's a very subjective statement and probably not entirely accurate, but I see the type of talent he has/had around him and I'm amazed at what he's been able to accomplish. Favre led the Packers to three straight NFC Championships game, and two straight Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI and losing Super Bowl XXXII. The three-time NFL MVP holds 10 NFL records, including most consecutive starts by a QB, currently standing at 221 (241 if you include the playoffs). He's also second in five other records, including career passing yards (53,615) and career passing TD's (396, which is just 24 behind Marino). (He has played 15 years)

6. Johnny Unitas -- There are many old-timers out there who I know are ringing their fists at me, no doubt saying the Baltimore Colts legend should be higher on this list. He was one of the most dominant players of his era. He was the first QB to throw for 40,000 yards, at a time when QB's just didn't throw the ball that much. His career passing yards (40,239), and career passing TD's (290) still rank in the top 10 all-time, and his 47 consecutive games with a TD pass still stands. He's a three-time league MVP, and was on three NFL Championship teams, two Super Bowl teams and one Super Bowl winner. Notice I didn't say he "led" the Colts to those titles. That's why he's not higher on this list. He was hurt most of the 1968 season and only played in Super Bowl III as a last ditch effort to rally the Colts, who ended up losing to the Jets. And, in Super Bowl V, despite throwing a 75-yard TD pass, he wasn't around at the end of the game to see his team win. So in essence, he's only responsible for the back-to-back NFL Championships in '58 and '59. I know this is another one of those players who was before my time, but I just don't see him as a better QB then the five men in front of him. (He played 18 years)

7. Terry Bradshaw -- Some will say, the Pittsburgh Steelers QB is only on this list because of the Super Bowls. I will argue, that is exactly correct! His career numbers are nowhere near the top of the list in any category. Yet you can't deny his knack for winning. The 1978 NFL MVP led the Steelers to 8 AFC Central Division titles, 6 AFC Championship games, and 4 Super Bowl Championships, including two over the Cowboys. He was part of what is arguably the most famous play in NFL history, the "Immaculate Reception", in which Franco Harris plucked a deflected pass just inches from the ground and ran it in for the game-winning TD against the Oakland Raiders in 1972. I'm not going to hold his acting career against him. (He played 14 years)

8. Troy Aikman -- This is one of those players that could go either way. I can hear the argument, "the only reason he won was because he had the best supporting cast in football." That is correct, the Dallas Cowboys had one of the best teams in football. Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson assembled an all-star cast. But, you still have to perform when it counts. Aikman never won a league MVP, but he did win a Super Bowl MVP. And the fact he led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins in four years secures him a spot on this list. He was an efficient and accurate quarterback who could keep his cool and win ball games. He holds the Super Bowl record for highest career completion percentage (70%). Sadly, concussions forced Aikman to retire after just 12 seasons. It makes you wonder how much more he could have accomplished. (He played 12 years)

9. Tom Brady -- Some say Brady is too young to be on a list like this. I say hogwash! Look at what he has accomplished in six years with the New England Patriots! When you win three Super Bowls in four years, you deserve to make the list. He holds the Super Bowl record for most passes completed in a game (32). He also has two Super Bowl MVP awards. Brady reminds me a lot of Aikman. He has a coolness under pressure, he's accurate and he wins. (He has played 6 years)

10. Roger Staubach -- Led the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history, while being named MVP of Super Bowl VI. In all, he led the Cowboys to four Super Bowls, winning two of them(Staubach was a backup to Craig Morton for Super Bowl V). "Captain Comeback" as he was nicknamed, had a knack for fourth quarter heroics, leading the Cowboys to 23 come-from-behind fourth quarter wins. Like Aikman, you wonder what he would have been able to accomplish with a longer career. Staubach only played 11 seasons, because, as a member of the United States Naval Academy, he served five years in the Navy following his graduation from college. He was 27 when he started playing for the Cowboys! (He played 11 years)

I can hear the screaming already. How is Fran Tarkenton not on this list? What about Steve Young, or Sony Jurgenson, or Bob Griese, or Warren Moon, or Jim Kelly or Y.A. Tittle? They are all great quarterbacks who received serious consideration. In fact, Spence and I found it very hard not to include Tarkenton. The 1975 league MVP held nearly every passing record at the time of his retirement. But, he never won the big game, losing in the Super Bowl three times. If Young would have been the starter longer in San Francisco, his numbers may have been astronomical. But, Joe Montana (he was Montana's backup for 5 years!) and a concussion (ended his career) put a damper on that. When you include all of Moon's stats from the Canadian Football League and NFL, his numbers are better than anyone who has ever played the game. But, the CFL is considered lesser talent, and he never played in a Super Bowl, much less won one. Again, assembling this list did not entail the use of rocket science, but it was sure fun doing it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Great Advice For Teaching Kids Golf

I've been running a segment this summer on Tuesday nights called "Lessons From A Pro", in which PGA golf teaching professionals from around East Texas offer their insight into different aspects of the game. We've had some really good tips that I know have helped my game. But, this past week, Darrell Chase, who is the head golf pro at Peach Tree/Oak Hurst Golf Club just South of Tyler, gave wonderful ideas on how to teach your kids the game of golf. I can't wait to put the ideas into practice with my 7-year-old son.

Darrell has actually published an article on this subject, and gave me a copy of it. I'm including it here. I think you'll get a lot out of his ideas.

Coaching Your Children
By Darrell Chase

Playing golf with your children can be one of the most positive things that a family can do together. Learning the game of golf, not how to play, but the game, will teach children about honesty, integrity, and accountability; all attributes that will make them better citizens in the future.

Introducing golf to your child is easily done just by exposing them to the game. Go ahead and pay for the extra seat in a cart and take them with you. Most children relish the idea of "hanging out" with their parents and their parent's friends. It makes them feel older and accepted. When they tell you that they would like to try it, then you have the opportunity to hook them, but just like an elusive fish, you have to be patient.

Teaching the golf swing to children is easy. Kids have no pre-conceived ideas of how the swing works. The adults that we teach have to be deprogrammed and reprogrammed in order for them to improve. With children, all we have to do is show them. Kids learn by watching. Keep it simple. Don't get too technical until they are older and they have been playing for a while. To teach a beginning child to hit a golf ball, let them know that there are only three things that they need to do. First, they have to make a full shoulder turn. Have them turn their back to the target or turn their lead shoulder to the ball. Second, they have to set their hands at the top of the swing. Have them get a 90 degree angle between the shaft and their forearm. If they are too young to understand what a 90 degree angle is, tell them to make the capital letter "L" with their golf club and their forearm. Third and finally, have them turn through into a balanced follow-through position (one foot, one toe, belt buckle and chest at the target, club over their lead shoulder). Teaching balance is the most important thing you can do for your child's golfing career. I ask my juniors to hold their balanced follow-through until the ball stops moving. I also ask them to pay attention to how long the Pros on TV watch their shots in the balanced follow-through position. Let them tee up balls at first, lowering the teeing height as they get the hang of it. As they improve, keep lowering the teeing height until they can be weaned of the tee and they can hit the ball off of the grass.

Bad news: The full swing is the easy part. Short game and putting are where success (lower scores and self-satisfaction) is found. The short game is a great opportunity to teach kids that golf is not about how far, but how close. [Dads, please reread the last sentence]. Young children will not be able to hit the ball as far as their parents do until they get bigger and stronger, but let them know that there is no reason that with practice, they can chip, pitch, and putt as well or better than you can. It takes touch, not strength, for the short game. Teach them the low, bump and run, chip shot. This is the most accurate and most forgiving of all short game shots. Teach them that the high, pitch shot is necessary only when the ball has to travel farther in the air than on the ground, such as over a bunker or a creek. Stress to them that this is the most difficult and unforgiving shot in golf. Don't let them make this their favorite shot. Emotionally, this is the most satisfying shot in the world, pulled off successfully, but if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. The low shot is much more accurate and forgiving.

Start all children off with a putter. Teach them that the object of the game is to get the ball into the hole with the fewest strokes possible. Putting may be the most difficult sill for a beginner to grasp and distance control seems to be the hardest part. Spend time with them on the putting green putting a ball to you, trying to get it close enough that you don't have to take a step to retrieve the ball. Vary the distance of the putts and soon enough they will get the hang of it. Have your children make lots of two and three foot putts. Hearing the ball rattle in the cup breeds confidence and success. Putt-Putt is another good place to emphasize how important putting is. Most kids would prefer to spend their practice time on the driving range banging balls, but it's an improved short game that will lower their scores. Do your best to have them spend as much time chipping and putting as they do on the full swing.

When your children enter the twilight zone (teenage years), chances are your advice is not well taken. This is where you pass them on to your local PGA or LPGA teaching professional. It's not worth the frustration to either side of this battle.

I have many parents tell me that they wished that their child had devoted their time to golf instead of baseball or basketball or some other sport. I disagree with them. Sports like that are for youngsters and this is the only time in their life that they can do it. I ask the parents to keep their kids exposed to golf so that they will still have all of the good fundamentals intact when they start playing again. They will have the rest of their life to play golf.

Take your children to the course with you, teach them about the rules and etiquette of the game, be patient with them, and finally, practice what you preach. The time you invest with your children will be rewarded many times over.

Darrell Chase is the head Golf Professional at Peach Tree/Oak Hurst Golf Club, a 36 hole public facility in Tyler. Darrell has been awarded the 2000 Junior Golf Leader of the Northern Texas PGA. He hosts a couple of free summer golf camps in the area, Camp Darrell at Peach Tree/Oak Hurst, and the City of Tyler golf camp with the Tyler Parks & Recreation Department.

Monday, July 10, 2006

No Lance, No Problem

Yes, we miss Lance Armstrong. The inspirational Texan blew the doors off the cycling world, winning a record 7 straight Tour De France titles. What makes his accomplishments even greater is the fact he did so after overcoming testicular cancer. He gave American, non-cycling fans a reason to be fans of cycling. In his absence, it seems there's no reason to watch the Tour De France this year, right?

Think again.

Meet Floyd Landis. The American is in constant pain due to an injured hip he says will need to be replaced after the Tour. Nevertheless, he's currently in second place!

Let me say that again. He needs a new HIP!

Daniel Coyle of The New York Times wrote a great article on Landis, entitled What Floyd Landis Has Been Pedaling.

He talks about how Landis fractured the hip in a crash in 2003. As a result, Landis suffers from a degenerative condition caused by a lack of blood supply. Other patients who suffer from this situation describe the pain as "grinding your bare feet into hot broken glass and jagged shards of metal." Are you kidding me?


I laughed out loud when he said "Landis possesses a high pain tolerance." You think?!

This guy shouldn't be standing, much less competing in the Tour De France. Yet here he is, just one minute behind leader Serhiy Honchar of the Ukraine after 8 stages.

Let's rally behind one of Armstrong's former teammates, and embrace Floyd Landis as our reason to watch Le Tour!

American Woman: Ghost of Tennis Past

American women have OWNED professional tennis. But now, that dominance is slowly slipping from our grasp. America's tennis stars continue a downward spiral in the world rankings after sup-par showings at Wimbledon. Venus Williams, who was the defending ladies' champion, tumbles from 12th to 23rd after being upset in the third round by Jelena
Jankovic. Lindsay Davenport is the only American now ranked in the top 20, falling to number 10 from number 7. There are just 12 Americans ranked in the top 100!

What's going on? Of the 15 women who have held the number one ranking on the tour since the rankings began in 1975, 8 of those athletes have done so wrapped in the American flag.

Between 200 and 2002, American women won 10 of the 12 majors. That is dominance. Since then, American women have won just 5 of 14 majors. That is not dominance. In fact, American women have won just 9 of the last 86 WTA events.

Age is a factor. Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati are both 30 and suffering from various injuries. Serena and Venus are 24 and 26 respectively, but in women's tennis, that is old.

The problem seems to be, there aren't any hotshot young American women ready to burst onto the world stage. Just two American teens are ranked in the top 100.

It seems I'm picking on the women, when the men have won just 6 of the 26 grand slam titles since 2000. The point is, we don't expect the men to win. We do expect the women to win. It's not fair, but it should be flattering for the women. We are proud of their accomplishments and hope to see it continue. Let's go Williams sisters. Please carry the flag until the next generation is ready!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Best Dunk Ever?

I have to confess. I like watching a good dunk. I know, basketball purists, like legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, claim the dunk is to blame for the decline in fundamentals by American basketball players. But, anything that I can't do, no matter how hard I try, like give birth, fly, or dunk a basketball, holds a special place in my heart. The artistry of a Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins or Vince Carter is beautiful to watch. Having said that, I thought I had seen it all on the basketball court, until I saw the video of Taurian Fontenette, otherwise known as "The Air Up There", pull off a 720 degree dunk. That's two complete 360 degree revolutions! It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Fontenette performed the dunk as part of the And 1 basketball tour.

You HAVE to see the video of his 720 degree dunk at the And 1 website.