Fear And Loathing To Las Vegas: 31-1, the Raiders are leaving Oakland

By Will Stevenson

Welcome to the NFL where business is booming. As a North Carolinian, I have watched professional teams come and go, and I’ve often wondered why this state hasn’t been a part of the events that go on in our professional leagues. We haven’t had a baseball team, so watching the Braves on TBS or the White Sox and Cubs on WGN were the regional options.  Our basketball team was here, then went to New Orleans with our good players and ultimately drafting Chris Paul, then leaving us with an expansion team called the Bobcats. Oddly enough the HB-2 sent the 2017 NBA All-Star Game to New Orleans, so yet again New Orleans was there to take our karma (Somehow I feel David Stern is behind this, but I digress). Our football team came in 1996, I was there when they played their home games at Clemson Stadium. The Carolina Hurricanes are our hockey, which they were relocated from Hartford.

With North Carolina being more famous for their collegiate sports, our history as a professional sports state pails in comparison to places such as Cleveland, Green Bay, New York, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. Although I don’t have a long-standing connection with the Carolina Panthers or the newest version of the Charlotte Hornets, I still have an understanding of how it feels to know the team you invest your time and money into is leaving to another city. With today’s 31-1 vote to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, those feelings of betrayal and emptiness were connected once again. We’ve all seen this coming for the past couple years and we should have know it was going to happen when the Rams moved to LA, and then subsequently the Chargers. The Raiders stayed in Oakland, but most knew it wouldn’t be for long, as Las Vegas was ramping up their proposal. With that 31-1 vote, Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins voiced his concern with the Palm Beach Post, “My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us.” Is that a general concern of the fans, or is Stephen Ross looking at his mid-dumpster fire of a money-making franchise and seeing what is to come on the horizon?

All Las Vegas needed was a team, any professional team to get the NFL on board. Baseball wasn’t budging, the MLS isn’t in the Big Four as far as major sports are concerned here in the states, and the NBA wasn’t ready to test those waters after the debacle of a weekend with their All-Star game (Shoutout PacMan Jones). That leaves one left: Hockey. That’s right, the NHL, a league that has undergone major construction with their relocation over the years through their rebranding after work stoppages and the loss of network sponsorships, has paved the way for professional sports in Las Vegas.

The NFL has continuously noted the conflicting interest of gambling and a possible move to Las Vegas, but it’s 2017, and with the world being so technologically advanced, there’s no need to refuse uncharted territory that can be seen as financial gain. A fan base is key to the business of relocation, but the Raiders won’t see Las Vegas for another 2-3 years with the opening marked for 2020. For the NFL, that’s plenty of time to decide on PSLs (Personal Seat Licenses), sponsorships, parking, traffic, and promotional tactics: And Hotels. Let us not forget this is a business, and when a new sports franchise is coming to town, there are business partnerships that must be forged: Restaurants, Hotel Chains, Flights, Ticket Packages, “Ambassadors”, Spokesmen, Commercials, etc.

Enough of the business aspect, let’s get back to the fans in Oakland. The Oakland fan base has once again suffered. Their team is leaving, and their team is actually good with a promising offense running the show. You know what that means: The Raiders have two years to go for it all. I know stacking rosters to win isn’t the most efficient way of building a championship contender, but the Raiders have only one chance to do it. With the Patriots maybe-slowing-down but not probably, the Raiders need to win the Superbowl with the team they currently have. They need to win before the fans have to choose between going to Las Vegas or possibly rooting for either of the teams in LA. Help us all if any Raider fans have to cheer for the Rams.

This is a day when all Raider Nation collectively post on social media to grieve. Every meme, picture, comment section, Twitter think-piece and Facebook Group is already feasting at the Vegas trough. Just as Kendrick Lamar said to rappers about his upcoming album, Oakland has two years to get their sh*t together. In two years you will only have the Warriors to cheer for, and I’m sure that traveling package for Las Vegas won’t be cheap. Your significant other will only allow so many “football trips” to see the Raiders play in Vegas, and I’m sure some of you are already planning to fail two years in advance.

Happy Monday Oakland, Happy Monday.

PS: Who will be the next “Purple” in Las Vegas? Ask for a friend.

I seriously think you should jump on this wave!

By Lawrence Edwards

OK, before I get started let me tell you that this isn’t a fad that will quickly fade out, nor is it a get rich quick scheme. It’s simple, I am not forcing you or trying to persuade you to do anything. I just want to share with you something that I know sports enthusiasts every where will enjoy and offer you the opportunity to be apart of something or get ahead of everyone else on a trend that is about to take the world by storm. From Football to Cricket we have something every sports will fall in love with. You have two options: Affiliate or Player. I will go in to great detail about both and most importantly the coming of a game changing sports app by United Games that is going to absolutely blow your mind!

Now what we are talking about here is an app that will let you enjoy your favorite sport interactively while watching the game. This app is going to bring a new dynamic way of playing of enjoying sports. It’s not just going to focus on the major sports but every sport.  The point is to get everyone to enjoy sports better, not just the people who have time for drafts and 4 different fantasy leagues or the ones who are good at selecting the right combination of players in order to enjoy the experience.

Now, as I previously mentioned you have two options to join this wave, either as a player or an affiliate. If you want to just be one of the first to enjoy the experience of this game changing app then sign up as a player for free. You will be a pre-registered player and once the app launches within the next 5 weeks you can begin enjoying your interactive sports experience and start earning some rewards and points. I don’t know about you but once I started playing fantasy football and basketball, the game became THAT much more interesting to me. I began to pay attention to things that I didn’t before. This interactive app will award every real sports fan the same experience but much better – did I mention that some of EA Sports former developers are building this thing? – Get ahead of the trend, this app is coming and it’s going to change the way we enjoy sports forever and it will be the first of it’s kind, share it with your neighbors, share it with your family, if they love sports, chances are they will love this!

Now if you are interested in becoming an affiliate of United Games and getting the opportunity to not only get ahead of the trend but earn some money while doing it, then this the route you want to go. Now let me tell you this isn’t a pyramid scheme or something wild like that, if you don’t want to be an affiliate then you don’t have to. We aren’t trying to recruit people for money, we are just offering an opportunity to earn some income based off of people just playing the game. Now when this was brought to me a few weeks ago I had my initial negative thoughts. I was told that I can become an affiliate for free, feel it out see if I like it and if I do I would have to pay a one time fee of $30 to stay an affiliate and $9.99 a month to maintain my affiliate site and if I don’t just simply cancel no harm done. Now I’m no easy person to convince to join things, so I did my own research before I agreed to sign up for anything. Now I hate selling things, I’m terrible at it, so the fact I didn’t have to sell a product and it was an app – I’m a huge tech junkie – helped me decide to really read up on it. So I did my research and found that this app could really be something special and I don’t have to pay my fee until the app launches in 4-5 weeks at the time of this writing. I figured, what can I lose? I can jump on board playing a new fantasy app and maybe earn some money while doing it. Every time you share the app and someone signs up, whether as an affiliate or a player, and starts buying or earning tokens, you get a piece of the pie, NICE! Another selling point for me was the fact that in order for you to earn income you have to fill out tax form 1099. That right there let me know it was legit. Now United Games is offering this opportunity only up until the app launches in 5 weeks. Once it goes live, the affiliate opportunity will be no longer offered. You will only be able to download and use the app.

Whether you sign up to be a player or an affiliate I can assure you that this app is going to change your sporta experience. The point of this blog is to get the word out that a Giant is coming and to offer, what I believe to be a grand opportunity to be apart of the next big thing. If you like what you heard here today feel free to drop a comment, email me (lawrence.edwards115@gmail.com) or if you got here through my Facebook link, just shoot me a DM and I will happily send you a link to be an affiliate or a free player so you will be all set to go when the app launches. Once you click the link there will be more information for you to read through to get an even better understanding. You’re going to love this!

Here is a one page info sheet you can look at to get more information. Feel free to contact me with questions.

 

Is The Fix In?

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By Kim Dunning

When money is involved and more specifically Vegas is involved, you have to question whether or not pro sports are fixed.  Lately, especially since the creation of social media, things don’t always add up when you are watching professional sports.  There are times where it can look like the officials are involved in the speed of the game or how, especially in the National Football League, the referees control the game.  A bad call in the NFL can be detrimental to an entire team.  There is an old saying for NFL fans that holding could technically be called on every play.   So why do so many people believe in conspiracy theories or fixes? Is it because they are emotionally involved with their team and can’t handle a loss so they cry foul? As our fellow blogger LaDonna Williams  pointed out, this is a huge excuse when a fan is defending their teams loss.   Rich people hate losing money, so why would multi-million dollar owners leave their hard earned money up to chance? Let’s take a look at the possibility of a fix in the major pro-sports.

The NFL

The NFL would most likely be the easier sport to fix.  The NFL is listed as “sports entertainment” on their taxes so they can legally fix their games and get away with it. The last  10 years of the NFL playoffs, it’s fairly certain if you pay enough attention you can call the Super Bowl winner by at least Week 10.  If you think this can’t be true, let’s simply put it this way.  During Super Bowl XL, arguably one of the worst officiated games in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks met.  During that 2004/2005 season Steelers coach Bill Cowher announced it would be his last season as head coach for Pittsburgh and Steelers running back Jerome Bettis had also announced his retirement.  Pittsburgh ended up winning the game and both Bettis and Cowher were able to retire with rings.  Looking further, right after 9/11 when American patriotism was running rampant, the New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl.  Just last NFL season, the NFL let Peyton Manning walk away from the game with his 2nd ring.   There is a great YouTube video that you can go and judge for yourself.  You can view that here.  So why would the NFL be the easiest to fix? Simple, the referees are under a gag order and take no responsibility for blown calls and secondly, they control the flow and pace of the game.  They can choose to call a penalty to stop the momentum of the game or to give momentum to another team.

The NHL

This one is intriguing.  The NHL lost a lot of fans after their long hold out back in 2012/2013, which almost killed the National Hockey League.  Since then commissioner Gary Bettman has done a lot to promote the NHL.  NBC has picked up the Stanley Cup playoffs and are trying to bring fans back into the game.  This has been an on-going issue with getting fans back into the NHL.  The NHL is also listed as sports entertainment as well. As we see now as the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are currently being played, fans of the game have watched what has been arguably the worst officiating in playoff history. The NHL in my opinion would be difficult to fix because it is a fast paced game and the officials don’t always see every single penalty.  But on the flip side there are uncalled penalties that happen right in front of the referees and aren’t called.  Those are the calls that make people question the legitimacy of the organization.  It’s highly unlikely that the NHL is fixed because of the simple fact hockey is a game of momentum, but then again you never do know.

The MLB

Major League Baseball is the only professional sport that is not listed as sports entertainment.  Could the MLB fix their games sure, but baseball seems even harder than hockey to fix.  It’s a long season in MLB and hitting a baseball is more of a science and natural talent than anything else.  I’m sure pitchers could throw games and especially players but if you truly are a competitor why would you? Then again money talks.  We all know the whole Pete Rose saga and how that ended up with no Hall of Fame bid.  Is it because Rose exposed that the MLB is fixed?  Not to mention the MLB has been investigated in the past for possibly fixing games.  You still have to take into account that the MLB also recently got busted for major players using steroids.  The MLB had to be aware of this during these players active years but there again who’s to say they didn’t choose to ignore it?

The NBA

Finally we get to the National Basketball League.  Again why would something that generates a lot of money leave anything to chance.  There was an article that broke in 2014 that former NBA referee Tim Donaghy claimed the NBA instructed him to favor the Nets over the Raptors.  Conspiracy theorist even believe that the NBA lottery is rigged to give teams a boost.  The Playoffs even this year with LeBron James are showing favoritism towards the big name player.  Two games that come to mind is the 2001 Eastern Conference Final where Allen Iverson, the biggest star left to go up against the Lakers and didn’t even shoot that many free throw (something like 10%).  Then in Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference final the Lakers were down 3-2 in the series against the Sacramento Kings.  They shot 40 free throws and there were a lot of missed calls and bad calls.

The Conclusion

Once again sports are a multi-billion dollar revenue.  Why wouldn’t they fix games, especially playoff games which for sports like the NBA and NHL is the most watched? If the refs and the league fixes their games and extends series it just equals more revenue all the way around.  When money, the mafia and Vegas is involved, you have to steer on the side of caution.  I’m not saying it is fixed but then I’m not saying it isn’t fixed.  The best way is for you to watch video’s, read articles and take the facts and make your own educated opinion.  I’ll leave you with this video which may or may not convince you either way.

 

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Why Blues? Why?

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As a die-hard Blues fan July 1st was a rough day for me and many other Blues fans. July 1st started free agency in the NHL. The Blues already traded Brian Elliott to the Flames. Him complaining about sharing time with Jake Allen might have played a part in that trade. There were key players that the Blues needed to keep making another playoff run.

Their two top veteran players Backes and Brouwer were both free agents. Both of them played a big role in Blues success in the playoffs. Backes hit the game winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7. We needed one of them if not both of them back. Well, that didn’t happen Backes signed a five-year, $30 million contract with Boston. Then Brouwer signed a four-year, $18 million contract with Calgary. The Blues also lost Steve Ott, which he signed a one-year deal with Detroit. I am trying to understand the Blues way of thinking on this, letting both of them go. Is it because both of them are in their 30’s? Or are they just being cheap?

 “We’re different,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “I think time will tell. I think you look at it as windows. What we’ve always talked about is as one window closes, we want to have this window propped up. I think with (Vladimir) Tarasenko and (Jaden) Schwartz and (Robby) Fabbri and (Colton) Parayko and (Alex Pietrangelo), we have a lot of good younger players and it was time to move in that direction. We’re a younger team. We’re a different team and we’re going to be putting a lot of responsibility on the younger players. The leadership is changing and now it’s going to be interesting to see how these younger guys evolve into leaders.” These moves either will make Doug Armstrong look amazing at the end of the year or a complete idiot. Well will see in the next hockey season.

On a positive side, they resign Allen to a four-year extension. They also brought back David Perron to the team. He signed a two-year $7.5 contact. As well they signed a backup to Allen yesterday as well. They brought in Carter Hutton, who signed a two-year contract.

As a fan I am not mad at Backes or Brouwer. It’s a business they went where the money was. I am just sad that they left. I wanted them around for many more years. I loved watching them on the ice. Backes did tweet out an heart felt message to the Blues fans yesterday .

 

Thank you Backes , Brouwer and Elliott for everything you all have done with the Blues.

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Sidney Crosby: One of the Greats

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By Yusuf Nakhooda

It is a great credit to all the greats of the game of hockey in the way the media talks about Sidney Crosby.

How can someone be expected to match what Bobby Orr did, winning eight consecutive Norris trophies as the NHL’s top defenseman at 27-years old? How can someone be like Wayne Gretzky, who with eight consecutive Hart trophies and who had four Stanley Cups by the time he was 27- which lead to him becoming “The Great One”? Then there is Gordie Howe, may he rest in peace, who won four Stanley Cups for the Detroit Red Wings by the age of 27 and  had six Hart trophies in a 12-year span which is how he became “Mr. Hockey”.  Their accomplishments are so legendary that they will never be repeated and will always minimize this generations new generation of stars until now.

Sidney Crosby is the best ever.  People don’t give “Sid the Kid” much credit and he has been playing for so long.   Crosby lifted his second Stanley Cup on Sunday night.  He needed 7 long, hard years to do it again, but this win was convincing.  With his Pittsburgh Penguins dominating from start to finish, Crosby was a key part of handcuffing the San Jose Sharks with his defensive play.  Crosby’s defensive play is rarely mentioned  but the Penguins defense held the Sharks to only 12 goals in six games which is amazing.

Although Crosby only scored four points in the series, the Sharks stars didn’t do much either to assist their team.

Crosby came up big in the deciding game with two assists, including a terrific pass to teammate Kris LeTang for the game winner in Game 6, midway through the second period.  Crosby was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs for the first time in his career.

This Cup win caps a strange season for Crosby and the Penguins.  Their coach was fired in mid December and replacement Mike Sullivan presided over a further decline as they won only 5 of his first 15 games behind the bench.   They were, at that point, in mid- January, 12th in the Eastern Conference behind Montreal, Ottawa and other teams and were in danger of missing the playoffs by a long shot.  However, the Penguins are the NHL’s best team ever since making one of the NHL’s most remarkable turnarounds.   Crosby is the biggest reason why.  The now 28-year old “kid” from Cole Harbour, N.S., charged back into the scoring race with a 50-goal, 110-point pace over the final 40 games of the regular season.  Then in the playoffs, with his team on the brink of elimination, he added three huge goals – all game winners in the conference finals.  The Penguins rallied to win in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Crosby’s ability was the difference when the game was on the line.  That’s what prime time players do.

Crosby was already a fire Hall of Famer before adding this second Cup, but the question of how high he climbs the steps of the all-time greats remains open.  If healthy, he can play at least another decade and creep into the top 10 ins coring in NHL history, joining his mentor and owner Mario Lemieux in 1,700-point territory.  That is magical.

Crosby will never have all the trophies as Howe and Gretzky did, as the game has changed over the years.  With more competition and players vying for the accolades there are no dynasties anymore.  Individual players are having a small impact in carrying their teams to championships.  It’s now become a team sport.

Crosby is simply the straw that stirs the drink.  He simply drives the Penguins.  They are the best team in hockey, bar none.

It’s been this way from the beginning, back when he was firing pucks into his parents’ old dryer in the basement and anointed as the Next One at 14-years old.  Crosby has had a tough road from there to here.  His body is battered and his psyche has been tested, but somehow he never lost the burning fire that allowed him to overcome it all and push to become a better player.

This second Stanley Cup Trophy is well deserved.  Here’s to many more Cups for that kid from Nova Scotia.  Take a bow Sidney Crosby, you have answered your critics.

 

 

Open Letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins 

By Kim Dunning

Dear Pittsburgh Penguins:

Congratulations on your Stanley Cup win for the 2015-2016 NHL season but most importantly, thank you for making me fall in love all over again with hockey.

You see this past year hasn’t been the easiest year for me. In November, I lost my father and then in February my sons great gramma passed away. During the NHL playoffs, watching you play became a distraction for me. While in the midst of the playoffs, I lost my best friend and my 17 year old dog passed away.  I continued to use hockey as a distraction. Something I haven’t done in over 5 years, except for the playoffs.

Low and behold you continued to win games and series. My distraction became my passion again! I feel in love with old friends from previous years and made some new friends this year.  The way you played as a family and the heart and soul you showed throughout the playoffs, brought me to the realization that if you, who had all the odds stacked against you, could go to the Stanley Cup Final, I too could find that kind of strength in my everyday life to deal with all the grief live threw at me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me that even though everyone doubted you and called you the underdog that with strength and a good support network, you can make it and prove everyone wrong!  Thank you for bringing back the love of the classiest sport ever! Thank you for bringing me and hockey and you guys back together!

Again congratulations on the Stanley Cup and I look forward to seeing you on October 12!

 

Sincerely,

A Fan Who Needed You and You Were There

Why Sidney Crosby Deserved the Conn Smythe

 

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By Kim Dunning

Sidney Crosby, the MVP of the NHL Playoffs. You can almost tangibly hear the groans coming from fans who dislike him as a player. The excuses hockey fans used as to why Crosby didn’t deserve the MVP award were varied. Some say he didn’t do enough in the playoffs to be worthy of the Conn Smythe Trophy. If you read or trolled Facebook during the hockey playoffs, everyone who wasn’t a Penguins fan had negative things to say about Crosby and his playing style but like it or not, Crosby is up there with the likes of Mario Lemuiex and Wayne Gretzy. When asked right after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Penguin players were adamant about how well deserved Crosby was of the MVP.

Crosby may not have shown up on the statistics as being a MVP like player but behind the scenes he definitely was. People who don’t follow hockey should know that the MVP is selected by a group of 18 people made up of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and was not only based on the final series with the San Jose Sharks but based upon Sidney Crosby’s entire playoff performance. Crosby had 19 points in the playoffs this season and none of those came in the final series against the Sharks. He did, however, have two assists in Game 6.

So why does he deserve the MVP? Easy! Crosby motivates his team to become better. Word on the street is that he showed up to non-mandatory skates and helped the rookies who were playing in their first Stanley Cup playoffs series get better. Crosby, although wasn’t the score machine that Phil Kessel was, still took a lot of pressure off his other teammates by being on the ice. He did what a great captain does, motivates everyone on the ice to be better players around him. Sometimes it’s not the performance on the ice that matters, sometimes it’s the things that go unnoticed that make that person an MVP.

With the Conn Smythe Trophy added to his collection, Crosby becomes an elite player. He is the only NHL player to win the Art Ross Trophy twice as the regular season points champion (2007 and 2014), the Hart Trophy twice (2007 and 2014) as the League MVP and the Ted Lindsay Award as players’ MVP three times (2007, 2013 and 2014). Also Crosby has an Olympic Gold Medal, two Stanley Cup Championships, World Championship, and World Junior Gold. These accomplishments have yet to be matched by any other NHL player.

So if you still feel Crosby doesn’t deserve the MVP for the playoffs, you are still entitled to your opinion. Hopefully this has opened your eyes a bit to Crosby’s other accomplishments and most importantly to his leadership. His teammates will agree that without him, they wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup this year. It can now be said that Crosby has definitely grown into a great hockey player and even more important a mature and fierce leader. He’s no longer just “Sid the Kid”… he’s Sidney Crosby, captain and two time Stanley Cup Champion.