The Train Daddy is back with the pain, daddy, and is, as always, bringing sports knowledge and life lessons to you, the reader. You can call me the George R.R. Martin of the sports world. That’s where my genius comes from: reading the works of a master like Martin or listing to what ESPN analyst Colin Cowherd has to say. Pick your sources wisely. Don’t just read and believe anything posted on the Internet, because there is a lot of crap out there. Granted, reading from different sources is how you decipher the excellence from the doo-doo, but let me tell you I strive to give you, the reader, the best I have to offer.
I love to talk everything sports, I love to tie in America’s social issues with sports when it’s the appropriate time, and I love more than anything to talk football. And right now, with the beginning of a fresh football season around the corner, it’s time, baby! So, in the last couple of issues I have written pieces that deal with controversial topics in the sports world and the politically incorrect world. We talked Donald Sterling a few months ago, we broke down the Redskins name-change controversy last issue and now we move forward with a topic that won’t ruffle any Indian feathers, something we all can agree on: football in Tennessee. Around the country, football teams pound each other as they run drills over and over. The pre-season is already here and millions of Americans have already begun studying positional charts as they prepare for another season of fantasy football. As I have said many times, baseball was once called America’s sport, but that died many years ago, and American football has been in the spotlight ever since.
It’s similar to the Cowboys once being named America’s team. If America’s team has only won a single playoff game since 1996 and has given us three consecutive 8–8 seasons, maybe it’s time we find a new team. Or maybe it’s as simple as the Cowboys finding a new quarterback. Sorry, Romo.
All aboard the Train, a little Titans talk, some Me-Ma shuffle, insight on how you can conquer your fantasy football league, and whatever else I throw in the mix. Choo-choo!
Anyone who has read my articles over the past seven years most certainly knows about the famed Me-Ma and her shuffle dance. She is a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and the most passionate Titans fan in the universe. It has become tradition for me to do a Me-Ma story every season, and, holding true with tradition, we have a fresh 2014 season at its beginning and the Me-Ma is pumped up and ready. What makes her the most passionate Titans fan in the universe? It’s simple—every Titans Sunday, she is ready in game-day attire, and she welcomes friends and family into her home to enjoy the passion. Some Sundays it’s pizza and snacks, but on the special Sundays it’s homemade spaghetti with garlic bread and a salad. Delicious, I tell ya! Like I said, it’s simple—the Me-Ma truly loves the game, the team and the joy it brings to all the loved ones that surround her on game day. Just like Robert De Niro in the movie Silver Linings Playbook, she is all about her juju. The famous Me-Ma Shuffle is her way to keep the Titans moving in the right direction, with oxygen tubes helping her breathe though she still has the moves. The Me-Ma shuffle is more of a two-step. It’s simple but it’s the Me-Ma’s signature dance move. The better the Titans play, the faster the dance gets. It’s a very productive juju dance that has true power behind it. There is no better feeling than leaving the Me-Ma’s house full of spaghetti after a Titans victory. Those are the days when you appreciate the joy that friends, family and sports can truly bring.
After the departure of running back Chris Johnson, the Titans really have a lack of what we would define a superstar. Johnson still produced at a reasonable level, but let’s be real—he was nowhere near the level of talent he showed us in his past record-breaking seasons. Do you have to have a superstar to be a good team? So, who is going to be the superstar for the Titans this season? The Titans really showed their hand this past May, and I agreed with the decision when they decided not to pick up Jake Locker’s $14 million final season option. That was three months ago, and with a new coach and a hungry fan base, it’s time, Locker. Jake the Snake will no doubt get the chance to be that superstar Tennessee needs, but this is the last shot. Last season, Locker began the season with six touchdowns and zero picks, and a healthy 3–1 record. In the last of those four games he went down with a sprained hip and MCL. When he returned three weeks later, his play had diminished; after another three weeks a Lisfranc injury ended his season. Currently, Jake is doing well by all reports from mini-camp in Nashville. He is faster than ever, he is reading the field before the snap and he is on target. I truly believe in Jake, that he can be a superstar, but his biggest concern is staying healthy. If Jake can’t stay healthy this season, say goodbye to Jake, and Jake, say goodbye to Nashville. Don’t make me retire that No. 10 jersey to my closet so soon.
What about the other positions on the team? I am excited to see what Bishop Sankey has to offer, being the first running back taken in this year’s draft. I have watched tape of this beast. He is fast, strong and a capable receiver out of the backfield that should benefit from one of the best, if not the best, offensive lines in the NFL lead by Levitre and Warmack. My favorite group is the receivers. With the veteran Washington being no more than consistent, Wright was explosive last year and if Justin Hunter can learn to run routes he will be formidable, as his size and speed are comparable to a Calvin Johnson. The receivers are young and hungry, and with the departure of Kenny Britt, there should be no garbage lingering around. I don’t expect a playoff team by any means, but some serious potential in key spots like the quarterback and running game can do wonders for the future. I just want to see growth and leadership from Jake and the rest will fall into place. I want the word to be hope after this season, not rebuilding.
ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith is once again in the news for some controversial issue. So what did Stephen do this time? I mean, it seems just like just yesterday he was defending Mark Cuban’s comments, and Stephen A. Smith even admitted being attacked by people calling him an Uncle Tom, with people of his own color stating he was a sellout. So what did he do now, to receive a suspension from his ESPN talk show? Anyone familiar with the Ray Rice case . . . well, you know, he knocked out his then-girlfriend (now wife) in an elevator, and video exists of him dragging her lifeless body out a casino elevator. This happened months ago, and only recently Rice was given a controversial two-game suspension from the NFL—one that many thought was too light a sentence. I completely agree it was too light. So, Stephen A. Smith was on television talking about the events that led to the suspension, clearly stating Rice was wrong and deserved punishment. While never excusing Rice’s actions, Smith offered the opinion that, “In general, when there is violence, sometimes it might be worth asking questions about provocation.” So for even suggesting that there could be justifiable provocation before a fight between a man and a woman, Smith is off the air after the outcry of upset people. Smith has since issued an apology.
Personally, I don’t believe he owed anyone an apology. Listen to the segment. He never suggested that Rice’s wife had it coming. Truly, I believe Smith is an awful sports anchor. He blabs and shouts and incoherently rants about whatever the topic is for the day. That’s why I am disgusted with the actions of ESPN. He was hired to blab and be opinionated, and he does that well but then it results in suspension. Domestic violence is serious and should be a serious penalty for anyone committing the crime. But once again, in a politically correct world, the management at ESPN bows down to the ridiculous whine of crybabies, just because Stephen A. Smith voiced an opinion on what’s supposed to be an opinionated sports program.
Football is something that we as a country can all agree on. It’s a game, true, but it’s more than just that. It’s a game that brings people together as one. We watch it, we talk about it, we created a game from the game, and fantasy football is everywhere, with 32–40 million Americans projected to play this year. Some people do their drafts online, giving people the opportunity to play with friends and family who may live hundreds of miles away. My favorite, though, is a live draft at a local bar or in the privacy of your own home. These are the serious drafts. It’s no simple task to get 10–12 people together to accomplish something that takes roughly two hours or so. But from personal experience, being a commissioner of a league entering its sixth year, well, there’s something special about the same friends showing up year in and year out to play a game.
Take it from me—as someone who constantly places in the top of my league standings every year, here is some info to help you out this fantasy season. With different styles of play using standard scoring, and PPR being the most popular, my tips for success are for a standard fantasy setting for a 10–12 person league, generally what everyone plays. My number-one rule that I have lived by over nine years of playing the game is to always take the two best running backs available with your first two picks. Granted, situations happen where it is tough to do, but it has served me well. I had a buddy tell me he would take Peyton Manning if he had the first pick of the draft this year, arguing the touchdowns he will throw is all the proof he needs. Well, some may agree, but I can promise you that if you lack running back talent you will not make a run at the playoffs, and there is no position that gets gobbled up quicker in terms of talent. Sure, some say winning in fantasy is 75 percent chance but the other 25 percent is skill and preparation. Make sure you study positional charts and player rankings prior to your draft and always do at least one or two mock drafts online. Once you understand the ins and outs, you will be winning again and again. To be a winner you have to watch football. This may be tough for you. Watch games, watch for breaking news on injuries, be the first to pick up the backup of a superstar that goes down. In my experience there are typically only two to four go-getters in a league of 12 that stay up on this, but typically the people making the most moves always end up in the playoffs. Another tip for success: Keep your eggs in many baskets; don’t pick multiple players on the same team. Beware of picking players that have the same bye (off-schedule) weeks. That’s it, I kept it simple. In nine years of playing fantasy football I have missed the playoffs one time. The few things I just told you have been my bread and butter to success.
That’s it, the Train is out the station, my friends. Time to wrap it up! There is nothing more important than the 5 F’s in my life: Faith, Family, Football, Food and Friends. That’s how I live my life, in that order. And it has served me well, just as my fantasy football info will serve you. Out the station, choo-choo!