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Albert Haynesworth - Sideline MVP

In recent years, I have become surprisingly sympathetic for athletes and their fight for more money. As a sports star you have a relatively short amount of time to make your money — there is little loyalty in the sports business (ask Bernie Williams) and if you get hurt your career can be over in an instant.

So I am fine with players asking for big contracts — just not when they already have a contract.

I truly don’t understand the precedent set in the NFL of holding out for a bigger deal. If you’ve signed a contract, you have no right to ask for more money. You think you deserve more than you’re being paid? Fine. As soon as that contract is up, make your case. Better yet, let the fact that you feel you are underpaid motivate you to work even harder. But until you’re a free agent, I don’t want to hear about your contract demands. There is someone out there who will pay for much less than you are already making. I want my drama on the field, not off of it.

Holding out is ridiculous, too. You think hockey players hold out? Hoops stars? Baseball players? The other players wouldn’t have it. You’d be a pariah by the end of holdout day one.

What brought this to my attention was Texan’s all-world wideout Andre Johnson asking for a new deal and sitting out practice. There is no questioning Johnson’s attributes, he is a top five receiver in the league.

But no one forced him to sign his current deal. None of these players are forced, for that matter. They put their name on the dotted line. They are agreeing to that deal. They have no one to blame but themselves the predicament. If the players are so adamantly against the deal, don’t sign it! Or better yet, if they don’t want to “outplay” the contract, then don’t. Stop putting in the effort. Pull an Albert Haynesworth or JaMarcus Russell: Get fat and stop caring.

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised. Not that I think that Andre Johnson is going to stop making cornerbacks look silly, and I don’t think he’ll stop putting in the effort. I’m just blown away by how some athletes are just in sports for the big payday and nothing else. I’m sure there are these types of players in every league, but the NFL sticks out in this regard. Haynesworth has spent more time complaining about his contract than he has on the field, not caring about pass rushing since he got the biggest deal for a defensive player in NFL history (while still having the audacity to throw a hissy fit about the 3-4 switch). Russell apparently cared so little about football after getting his payday that team officials would find him wandering the halls of the Raiders’ facilities when he was supposed to be in meetings like a kid in middle school trying to cut class.

It’s a joke. While some players restructure their deals so the team can go after more players, others are so focused on getting theirs that they don’t care what they do to the team in the process.

You never see it in baseball, and I can’t remember seeing it in basketball or hockey.

You signed the deal, you made the decision. If you have a problem with the contract, don’t blame the GM or the coach or the media.

Point the blame at yourself.

Sorry we haven’t posted much lately. Finals are around the corner and driving us crazy. But I felt I needed to post this story on Ben Roethlisberger that SI did. Check it out. Really eye-opening.

Will have some reaction/response to it later in the week. Until then, read it.

Capital losses

The Washington Capitals are out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after the Canadiens eliminated them in Game 7 last night at Verizon Center. And even though the Caps knocked out my Blueshirts last year, I was rooting for them. Not only are the Capitals one of the biggest draws in D.C., but Ovechkin is about as marquee a player as there is in the NHL and he does wonders for the game. I argued on the show Tuesday that the NBA doesn’t need big markets in the playoffs to make the league work. The NHL is a completely different animal.

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As per UMD commit Ashton Pankey’s twitter account, class of 2011 PG Sterling Gibbs from Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) has commited to the University of Maryland.

MLandBoundAsh: My mans sterling gibbs committed to maryland today .. Lets get itttttttt

Definitely good news for the Terps’ basketball team. Stoglin and Howard look like they could be options at the point, but a solid recruit like this would be huge for the team’s future.

Gibbs made the decision tonight, according to reports. Driesell leaving wasn’t enough to deter the guard from picking Maryland over Seton Hall, Rutgers, Indiana, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Florida, Virginia and St. John’s.

More to come.

All right, I get it: We’ve done a bunch of posts on the NFL Draft and that might be annoying. But there was one thing I forgot to mention in my last update that I really want to put out there.

The anticipation and tension of waiting for picks to be announced is one of the best aspects of the draft. Roger Goodell has you hanging on his every word until he finally proclaims who your team has taken. But this simple joy is being ruined.

During coverage of the draft, ESPN cuts to shots of players on the phone smiling, crying which gives away the next pick. I’m sure some like this because you find out the pick before you would otherwise, but I hate it. I much rather hear Goodell say it. What’s happening now is anticlimactic and boring, and frankly, ruins some of the fun of the draft.

So the three-day primetime event known as the NFL Draft is over. As the Giants’ picks grew fewer and fewer, I got the same feeling that I remember having as a kid when I realized my Christmas presents under the tree were running out. But even if the Giants didn’t come out of the weekend with their middle linebacker of the future, I throughly enjoyed the weekend. Not so much because of the Giants picks, but because of the event’s new three-day format.

In terms of the picks, I don’t have many thoughts — you can read my musings on Jason Pierre-Paul a few posts ago. But contrary to what Mel Kiper and Todd McShay will tell you, it is impossible to grade the draft this early. There is a reason neither of them are NFL GM’s. Yes, based on your big board and your mock draft, picking so-and-so at a certain point is a major mistake.  First of all, I trust NFL coaches and executives a lot more than I trust these talking heads. Also, no one has hit the field yet — thus we have no idea how good any of these picks are. So that ranking, but it an A an F, it’s essentially awarded based on name value.

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This is going to come off as sour grapes because I’m writing about something bad that happened to the Yankees a few minutes ago. But It speaks to a much broader issue.

Joba Chamberlain just gave up a mammoth two-run blast to Kendry Morales of the Anaheim Angels that probably cost the Yankees the game. Oh well, I can live with it considering how well the Bombers have played in the early going.

But as the shot cleared the fence, fireworks were launched into the Anaheim night. Really, Angels? This is a regular season game. In April. Maybe if it’s a walk-off I understand, but now the picture on the screen is all foggy because you over-celebrated a hit that didn’t even win the game.

If the Yankees were doing this, I would be even more annoyed. It’s not classy, it’s becoming a growing trend in Major League Baseball, and it’s obnoxious. Baseball isn’t the Fourth of July. It isn’t a spectacle like a football or basketball game. It’s a ball game. It’s our national pastime.

Unless it’s the postseason or a walk-off, keep fireworks out of it. Have a post-game celebration if your as pyro-obsessed as me and my friends were back in middle school. But during the game, the only thing that should be launched is the baseball over the fence —  just like Kendry Morales did. The big fly to souvenir city should be enough to keep fans entertained.

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