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Make Rome Great Again

Naming your fantasy football team is something many owners spend weeks, if not months, trying to figure out. I’m no exception. I started in 2011 with a Roman theme when I named my team “The Roman Knows.” From there I moved on to “The Roman Empire”, “Roman Crusade”, “Roman Gladiator”, and “Rome’s Revenge.” This year I was racking my brain trying to come up with the next rendition when it hit me…”Make Rome Great Again.” For me though the true fun begins after the team is named because it’s then that I start to design my logo. Let’s just say that The Donald left me all kinds of possibilities. Here is what I came up with. Enjoy.

Donald-Trump

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Wives Are Not Big Fans of My Fantasy Football Trophies

When it comes to my fantasy football trophies I know one thing to be certain: wives do not like them. So if you’re married be forewarned. When I sculpted The Armchair Quarterback way back in 1993 I knew it had to be large and proud. It had to be a trophy that would demand respect and make a statement. Both were achieved. Years later when I introduced The Throwback my criteria remained the same. Wives though just don’t see them the same way. I believe the words “ridiculous” and “monstrous” have been uttered on more than one occasion. I had one friend’s wife even tell me that she hoped her husband wouldn’t win his league because she knew it meant he would proudly display the Armchair Quarterback in their family room for the entire year. Such a shame.

Wives are not my biggest fans
Wives are not my biggest fans

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Fantasy Football Loser Trophy Changes Everything

A lot of fantasy football leagues are realizing that playing for a loser trophy adds another level of excitement and competition. I can speak from experience. I didn’t sculpt the Ultimate Loser until my league was nearly 15 years old and the reason I did it was to keep guys fully engaged in the league for the entire season. Some guys, knowing that they had no chance at the league trophy, would kinda pack it in at the end of the year. It happens all the time in fantasy football leagues and many times it can cost another team a birth in the playoffs. We’ve all seen it happen. With a loser trophy though hanging over the heads of all league owners, no one can take a week off. The possible humiliation of being on a loser trophy just won’t allow it.

A fantasy football loser trophy will keep owners fighting to the bitter end.
A fantasy football loser trophy will keep owners fighting to the bitter end.

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A Cleveland Championship Week I’ll Never Forget

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It’s been two weeks since my hometown Cleveland Cavaliers won game 7 of the NBA Championship after being down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors and I think it’s finally starting to sink in. Watching the 4th quarter of the game every other day seems to help.
As many of you know, I’m a huge Cleveland sports fan and thus suffered through the heartache and misery of the Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers for the last 40 years. Unless you’re a Cleveland fan you just can’t fully understand the gravity of continually losing in the most gut wrenching, rip your heart out kind of ways. Or the long agonizing droughts all three teams have experienced. So for the Cavaliers to finally win a Championship after Cleveland fans have suffered for 52 years, was an indescribable moment. One that I knew I had to experience in Cleveland.
When the Cavaliers won game 6 my wife turned to me as I crawled into bed and asked, “what happened? Did they win?” I simply said, “I’m going to Cleveland.” She knew that I wasn’t joking. I’ve told her all along that if any Cleveland team had a shot at a Championship I’d be experiencing the moment in my hometown. Two days later I was on the road at 6 am making the eight hour trip from Brooklyn, NY. The next 8 hours would be filled with thoughts of a miraculous comeback from a 3-1 deficit (something no team had ever done in NBA history) and a ticker tape parade through the streets of downtown. The images I had floating around in my head though were hard to embrace. After all, I’d been burned so many times in the past that I think I didn’t want to get too excited. Misery hurts that much more when you’re coming down from a place of confidence and glee.
When my friends and I arrived downtown the streets were bustling with fans that had the same kind of wishful confidence that was brewing inside of me. Would this be THE night? We eventually found ourselves at a hotel bar that was packed with screaming patrons. All of us with one common desire; to witness and experience history. The game was a back and forth battle with neither team able to deliver a knockout blow. When Golden State surged slightly ahead in the fourth quarter you could feel the “here we go again” air fill the room. I’ve breathed it in many times in my 45 years and know exactly what it tastes and feels like. The Cavaliers however would quickly answer and soon found themselves in a 89-89 tie with just over 4 minutes left in the game. The collective heartbeat of the 100+ fans in that hotel bar raced as all of us felt that our dreams of a Championship might actually be realized. Then it happened. With just under a IMG_1703minute to go in the game, Kyrie Irving launched a 3 pointer that will forever live in Cleveland sports history. It was the shot that put us ahead for good. As the final seconds ticked off the clock the bar erupted in screams, laughter, embrace, and overall hysteria. I was in partial disbelief as I hugged friends and total strangers. We had all been downtown for the chance we’d experience what was now taking place; absolute collective joy. 52 years of suffering was gone. The curse was finally dead. Cleveland had its Championship!
The exuberance would soon fill the streets as ecstatic fans of all ages, colors, and nationalities spilled out of the bars. Everyone was now hugging and high fiving, yelling and chanting, laughing and crying. This was pure heaven for a sports fan. The misery and suffering of 52 years was finally being washed away in one night. A night that I had wished for so many years and now one that I’ll never forget.

Three days later the ticker tape parade happened where an estimated 1.3 million fans filled the streets of Cleveland. People from all over the country and world were there to take in the experience. I made sure that I was one of them. My friend Mario and I were downtown by 6 am in order to grab the perfect parking spot and hold our place along the route. Little did we know that getting a location that early didn’t matter since the streets would be overrun with fans. The parade was even delayed because the route was clogged with so many people that the parade couldn’t get through. This was Cleveland! A city and it’s fans that had been waiting for this moment for five decades. As Lebron, Kyrie, JR Smith, and all the other players slowly drove past I found myself reflecting back on the heartache of years gone by. “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, “Red Right 88”, “The Shot”, Jose Mesa, “The Decision”, and many others were now finally going to take a back seat to the incredible memories from the most amazing week I had ever experienced in my beloved hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

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Sam Bradford Needs to Grow a Set

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 8.35.29 PMLast season I continually started Sam Bradford as my QB on my fantasy football team and each week he proved that I was an idiot for instilling my faith in him. That’s fantasy football though. Sometimes you get blindsided by the promise of the offense and fail to see the ineptitude of not only the player but the entire team. So when the Philadelphia Eagles decided to sign Bradford in the offseason to a two year deal worth a guaranteed $22 million, many like myself thought they were insane. He proved for the entire 2015 season that he’s an average starting QB at best.
The Eagles eventually came to their senses after he signed that contract and they went ahead and traded multiple picks to the Cleveland Browns so that they could move up in the Draft and take North Dakota quarterback Carson Wentz. Now Bradford is complaining and expressing his displeasure with the situation. Unreal. Here’s an idea Sam- Play better! When the Green Bay Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre never said a word. He was confident in his talent and kept Rodgers on the bench until Green Bay was forced to decide on the young gun slinger vs. the aging veteran. Bradford on the other hand complains because he knows the organization mortgaged the future for a strong armed, no nonsense rookie that will be looking to take his job from day one. Sam Bradford needs to grow a set and show up with the mentality that he’s going to keep Wentz on the bench for as long as he can. You signed the contract Sam. Now live up to it.

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Laremy Tunsil Pick Could Pay Huge Dividends for Dolphins

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 8.27.26 PMLaremy Tunsil’s epic 2016 NFL Draft will forever be remembered because of the video that was posted to Twitter just 13 minutes before the first pick was announced. In it Tunsil is seen wearing a gas mask bong and, unlike Bill Clinton, clearly is inhaling. The video created shock waves that every GM at the top of the Draft couldn’t ignore. Tunsil fell from the projected first overall pick at one time, all the way to #13. The video cost him millions.
For the Dolphins, it could be the steal of the Draft if Tunsil lives up to his one time projection as the top overall player. Let’s face it, every GM knows that players smoke pot but they don’t want their name attached to a guy that has controversy linked to him before he even enters the league. Apparently Miami’s front office felt convinced the reward vs. the risk was worth it. We shall see.
One thing however is for certain. The NFL will use Laremy Tunsil’s night as a warning to all incoming players on what not to do.

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Johnny Manziel Worst Pick by Browns Since Coming Back to Cleveland

The Cleveland Browns have had so many bad draft choices that it’s hard to come up with a list of the worst. However, figuring out who would be at the top of that list is easy. Johnny Manziel. The former Heisman Trophy winner was a first round draft choice who was supposed to turn around the fortunes of the franchise. Instead, two years later he’s seen here in this photo sitting at a bar in Columbus, Ohio before a Justin Bieber concert. It doesn’t get much worst than that.

Does it get any worse?
Does it get any worse?

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Browns Were Right to Trade Pick to Eagles

nfl draft 2016My buddy Jim texted me today with the news that my beloved Browns traded the second overall pick in next week’s NFL Draft to the Eagles.  He wasn’t pleased.  I, on the other hand, was thrilled once I heard the details of the deal.  The specifics include the Browns getting this year’s #8 pick along with a 3rd round and 4th round pick.  They also acquired the Eagles 1st round pick next year and a second round pick in 2018.  I’d say that’a nice haul for a team in desperate need of a ton of help.  The Browns have been in “rebuilding mode” since they returned to Cleveland in 1999 and this trade will hopefully be what propels them to actually start on the foundation of that rebuild.   I was hoping Carson Wentz was going to be the selection if the Browns stayed at #2 but with the Rams jumping ahead of them it assured that one of the two top QBs were going to be selected before them.  That put a lot of pressure on teams like the Eagles and 49ers to really consider trading with the Browns if they were in love with both QBs.  The Eagles apparently are.  This trade, like all others, will be evaluated a few years from now to see who made out.  If the Browns blow their selections like those of years past then this trade will be another crack in the never ending “rebuild.”  I for one think it’s the beginning of a concrete footer.  You gotta believe!