Friday, August 19, 2005

Randy Speaks and People Go Crazy

I’m shocked. I couldn’t believe it when I read it. Randy Moss smokes marijuana? Noooo. For anybody who might have been surprised – get a new hobby. But there are two things that I thought about when I heard this news. 1) It’s Randy Moss’ business and 2) Obviously it doesn’t effect his play.

Next Tuesday night on HBO’s ‘Real Sports with Byrant Gumbel’ Moss says since entering the NFL seven years ago that he still smokes marijuana "every blue moon."

Apparently when asked again whether or not he still smokes marijuana Moss said: "I might. I might have fun. And, you know, hopefully ... I won't get into any trouble by the NFL by saying that, you know. I have had fun throughout my years and, you know, predominantly in the offseason.”

Of course after hearing all of the reports Randy is back pedaling and his agent, Dante DiTrapano is saying that HBO is trying to intentionally damage Randy Moss’ reputation. DiTrapano also said that Moss was talking about past use in the interview.

I would like to note that Moss has never been suspended for violating the league's drug policy. Of course NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said yesterday that it is confidential whether a certain player is in the drug program or not. He did test positive several years ago and had to submit to urine samples for two seasons. After testing clean for those two years following the positive test, Moss was taken out of the NFL's drug program. If a player tests positive, the NFL's drug policy stipulates that players can be tested up to 10 times a month. A second violation results in a fine equal to the player's salary for four regular season games, a third is a four-game suspension, and the fourth is a year's suspension.

Let’s face it, Randy has had his share of problems on and off the field throughout his college and pro career. He lost scholarships to play football at both Notre Dame and Florida State because of a battery charge and marijuana use. Because of that he went to Division I-AA Marshall where he set records was the top receiver in the 1998 NFL Draft, but didn’t get picked until the 21st overall because teams were worried about his past trouble.

Since being an NFL All-Pro receiver he’s bumped a traffic officer with his car in 2002 and squirting an official with a water bottle in 1999. He was fined last year for pretending to pull down his pants to ‘moon’ the Packers fans during the Vikes playoff victory. All of these and probably more led the Vikings to trade their star wide out in early March to the Raiders.

Let’s take a step back for a second and give the guy a bit of a break. If he does still occasionally smoke marijuana – it surely doesn’t hurt his play. His play is sometimes characterized as “All World” and isn’t that what matters most? Sure, Randy might not be the best teammate in the world or the greatest blocking receiver, and he’s admitted to “taking plays off”, but his play is stellar. As Eagles fans would probably laugh about now – Randy has never been kicked out of training camp either. Let the man play and don’t judge an interview on HBO. As long as he’s not using “performance enhancing drugs” such as steroids, I’m not really worried about what he does in the offseason or on his off time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Second "Big One" for Lefty

Phil Mickelson dropped in an easy birdie putt to win the 2005 PGA Championship yesterday – his second major. His final round, which was suspended because of bad weather, 72 and final score 276 was one stroke better than Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn.

Is this the start of something great? Has Lefty finally proven to the golf world that he is in fact on the level of the Tiger Woods’ and Vijay Singh’s? I think he has. Mickelson is a quiet and somewhat shy man with golf talent oozing out of his somewhat chubby body. But until the 2004 Masters in Augusta, Georgia he was considered by many to be just another great golfer who couldn’t win the “Big One”. Now in just two years he’s got two of the major titles.

Mickelson's championship yesterday was very different from the 2004 Masters. To earn the Green Jacket Mickelson charged from behind with a back-nine 31 to beat Ernie Els with a dramatic 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole. At this tournament Mickelson began Monday morning with a one-shot lead and a 3-foot par putt on the 14th green. He made it and followed with another par on the par-4 15th hole. Then he began to waiver…but never fell to the charging Bjorn and Elkington. His approach shot on the 18th hole will be replayed and talked about for years to come. It was with exception to his long putt at the ’04 Masters his greatest shot. Leaving him just a few feet from the title…and he dropped in the putt with ease.

Tiger, Vijay, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and all of the other great golfers of today took a back seat to Mr. Mickelson, for the second time in eight majors. The 87th PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey was about Phil from start to finish. Mickelson left the course with the lead for four days, one more than normal because of the inclement weather. For two days, he played great golf, getting to the weekend at 8 under par. But more remarkably was that for the next two days he refused to give in as he gave away two three-shot leads and came away the champion.

I think Thomas Bjorn summed it up perfectly when told reporters afterwards, “He’s not a one-major guy; He’s a ten-major guy. He’s going to go on and contend for majors as he’s always done, but it’s going to be easier and easier for him to win them now.”