It’s a rematch of Week One’s epic battle as last week’s dominant force, Pat Lavery, has whipped up a fresh bowl of questions for our contestants. Staff writers Mike O’ Donnell and Brandon Lee will go to war against sports assistant Garrett Rasko-Martinis for Week-Five prowess. These battle-tested individuals will discuss Brett Favre’s newest retirement allegations, a new era in baseball and the greatest dunks they have ever seen.
1. Now that Brett Favre’s retirement is definitely final (we hope), two questions: How much, if at all, did his final season with the Jets tarnish Favre’s legacy, and what will the Jets do with the quarterback position?
BL: I don’t think his season with the Jets tarnished his legacy. With a Hall of Fame career like his, nothing can really tarnish his legacy. Favre is the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdown passes and has one Super Bowl ring and three MVP awards. Unless Favre was on ‘roids, nothing can really tarnish his image. The Jets should either trade for Derek Anderson or draft a quarterback. I think they should hope the Lions don’t take Matthew Stafford with their first pick. Several mock drafts have the Lions taking an offensive lineman in the first round anyway and have Stafford falling to as low as the 10th pick, so the Jets could trade up for Stafford or settle for Mark Sanchez. Either way, I think the team should properly address its quarterback issue through the draft.
GR: I don’t think that Favre tarnished his career. He simply fell prey to the same temptations that so many professional athletes have. He had a great season two years ago. It’s understandable he thought he’d come back. The man still had a great career, and this season he showed his age. It doesn’t change his legacy or his career accomplishments. It’s just unfortunate for him that the last season of his career will be remembered as the year he had as many interceptions as touchdowns, as opposed to a season he got the Packers to the NFC Championship Game. As for the Jets, they were a team that was in win-now mode this year, and they did not. There aren’t that many quarterbacks on the market, and Kellen Clemens certainly didn’t prove he was ready to lead the team two seasons ago. I think the Jets may need to go into rebuild mode, consider drafting and investing in another quarterback and, at the very least, give Clemens another chance this season. Maybe if their offensive line plays next season the way they did this season, Clemens can have a chance to come into his own, although he will also have no deep targets to throw to.
MO: I don’t think it tarnished his legacy as much as most may think. Favre still had the itch to play, and you can’t fault a guy that wanted to come back and see if he still had it. With only weeks to prepare, he led a team that was a mish-mash of big signings and young players that went 4-12 the year before to a respectable 9-7 season. Obviously, this disappointed many Jets fans, but he did much better at the Meadowlands than Chad Pennington or Clemens ever could. No matter what, Favre will still be that heroic icon in Green Bay despite his so-so year in New York, as the Packers are already planning to retire his number in a huge ceremony next season. As for the Jets, go to the free-agent market or make a trade as opposed to the draft. A guy like Donovan McNabb, Derek Anderson or Byron Leftwich should be their top priority. Drafting a young quarterback would make Jets fans wait even longer to win, and signing a proven starter like those mentioned above would make things much easier.
PL: We all agree that a finale with the Jets did nothing to change Favre’s legacy as a great NFL quarterback. So who came up with the best plan for the Jets’ future? Mike, you pointed out that not even Pennington could have done as good a job this year with the Jets as Favre, and you suggested a few solid and available names to pick up where Favre left off. Three points. Brandon, you mentioned Anderson as well but I couldn’t figure out whether you thought that or the draft was an overall better idea, 2 points for you. Garrett gets 1 point because Clemens won’t get Gang Green anywhere.
2. Considering Alex Rodriguez’s emotional ESPN interview and confession and Miguel Tejada’s admission to lying about taking steroids, how much closer are we to entering an era in which MLB players are not only up-front and honest, but even willing to discuss past steroid use?
BL: A-Fraud is a superstar and Tejada was an All Star. Both are pretty high-profile names. When it comes to steroids, you can take the Bonds/Clemens route or the Jason Giambi route. With the Bonds/Clemens route, you can deny, deny, deny using performance-enhancing drugs and get the United States government involved. By taking the Giambi route, fans will shake their head for about a week and be disappointed, then they will praise you for being honest (even if you just call it “stuff”). We’re pretty close to entering an era in which MLB players are honest about taking performance-enhancing drugs, and it all started with Jose Canseco and then Giambi.
GR: Rodriguez and Tejada did not volunteer this information on their own. Rodriguez was forced into a situation where only an admission of guilt could save what little reputation he had left after Sports Illustrated accused him of taking steroids. Tejada was also charged with steroid use, but his situation is far more serious since he is now also in legal trouble for lying to Congress. Pleading guilty to this charge is his only way to try and avoid his maximum sentence of one year in prison and deportation. I think the time is distant when players will volunteer information that puts them in a negative light. I expect Bud Selig’s decision regarding Rodriguez’s suspension to have an effect. If Selig suspends Rodriguez, even after he told the truth about his steroid use in a time when a positive test would not have even garnered him any penalties, it will most likely serve to discourage future players from discussing their past steroid use.
MO: We are closer to an honest era, but it comes with a catch. A-Rod only admitted steroid use because he had nowhere to go. He had been caught, so the only way not to end up like potentially jail-bound Bonds and Tejada was to admit his guilt. If we were truly in an era of honesty about steroids in baseball, the other 103 players who were in that random drug test along with A-Rod would have admitted their guilt, too. The bottom line is this: Players are only going to admit guilt when they are caught and have no place of solace. No player wants to be labeled a cheater, liar or juicer. As sad as it is, as of right now, credibility in baseball simply means not admitting you’ve done performance-enhancing drugs. Either that, or Canseco will have to do the admissions for everyone instead.
PL: As much as I’d like to believe that professional athletes will one day own up to their off-the-field actions, I don’t think Major League Baseball is getting any closer to a Jiminy Cricket era of clear consciences. So Garrett gets 3 points for agreeing with me there, and for the interesting point that a Selig punishment could have an adverse effect on players discussing the past. Brandon gets 2 for splitting the players into two factions – notice how nobody talks about Giambi’s past use anymore after he came clean? And this is a guy who still hits 35 homers a year. Mike gets the hard-luck 1 point.
3. During this weekend’s newest installment of the NBA’s annual Slam Dunk Contest, Nate Robinson wrote another chapter into the history books with his newest high-flying flush. What is the best dunk in the contest to date and why?
BL: As much as I’d like to choose one of the classic dunks by Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins, I’m going with the most creative and difficult dunk I have seen – Jason Richardson’s one-bounce, between-the-legs reverse slam in 2003 to win the slam dunk title. Yes, there’s something magical about Jordan’s dunk from the free throw line, but Richardson’s dunk required the utmost body control, hand-eye coordination, practice and speed. Jordan’s dunk just showed that he could fly, but Richardson displayed his hops and creativity, not to mention he threw it down with his back to the basket.
GR: I’m going to show my basketball ignorance in this question, but I suppose I have no choice. After extensive research (a combination of cross referencing previous winners from Wikipedia with YouTube clips), I have to say my favorite is a Vince Carter dunk from when he won the Slam Dunk Contest in 2000. He did what appeared to be a 360 windmill dunk. It was glorious to behold, and it was done so quickly and flawlessly I had to watch it several times in slow motion just to process what actually happened. VC’s slam is my choice.
MO: It definitely was Dwight Howard this year. The premise of the Slam Dunk Contest is simply this: Perform dunks that have never been done before and, in doing so, give the fans the utmost of entertainment. Howard took that to a whole new level this year. Not only did he slam it home on a 12-foot basket and go well above that rim, but he also did it in entertaining fashion, coming out of a phone booth in his Superman cape while grabbing a pass off the backboard from teammate Jameer Nelson. He did it all in that one single slam, and the fact that a man his size, six-feet 11 inches and 265 lbs., got the ball to about 14 or 15 feet in the air has absolutely never been done before, and might not ever be seen again.
BO: As a guest judge, this was a hard question to call and it came down to the wire. After weighing all three answers, the winner of this question made the best argument regarding all aspects of the contest, and that contestant was Mike O’Donnell. Mike, you get the 3 and the win for Week Five. Brandon, you made a good argument for the creativity factor, but Mike covered all fields. You get the 2. Garrett, go back to your corner and stop trying to answer basketball-related questions. You get the 1-pointer and may God have mercy on your soul.
Mike gets the week-five win, 7-6-5.