In Week 11, first-time “Ref” Brandon Gould asks Editor-in-Chief Bobby Olivier, Correspondent Ken Mauss and Correspondent Joshua Fidler whether Auburn quarterback Cam Newton will still get a vote for the Heisman Trophy, where Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford will sign as the front-runners in the free agent market and which young quarterback will be next to join the upper-tier of their position in the NFL?
1. After hearing all the reported allegations against Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, does he still get your Heisman vote?
BO: After enduring the media coverage of the Reggie Bush Heisman fiasco, I am so sick and tired of these allegations against Cam Newton. His father clearly didn’t understand, or disregarded NCAA rules by telling Mississippi State that it would take money to get Newton to play there. As of right now, Newton himself has done nothing but score touchdowns for an undefeated SEC squad, and for that, he still gets my Heisman vote. Unless league regulations pull him off the field, he deserves the award for what he has done between the hashes this season, not what his idiot father did beyond them.
KM: If the allegations are true, no, he does not get my vote. He’s having an exceptional year for arguably the best team in the country, but accepting money to play at a school is an absolute no-no, and would automatically rule him ineligible for the entire season. Newton would not only lose his chance at a Heisman, but Auburn would have to forfeit all of their wins from this year. A safer choice for the Heisman is sophomore LaMichael James, the star running back for the BCS No. 1-ranked Oregon University. He has 17 touchdowns and 1,331 yards rushing heading into the game against California. Both are deserving, but the question marks surrounding Newton makes James a much more attractive choice.
JF: Unfortunately, I do not vote for the Heisman winner. But if I were to be voting I would have to still give it to him. I believe in America someone is innocent until proven guilty. We are not in communist Russia. Does accepting money make Cam Newton run faster, throw with more precision? No, and it is ridiculous to say that accepting money would improve his stats. On an unrelated note I think Reggie Bush still deserves his Heisman. I think college athletes should be compensated somehow. They put their lives on the line to play for free. With what happened to Rutgers’s LeGrand who is now paralyzed below the neck, it would be insane to not accept money. Also Newton has been the best player this year, leading Auburn to an undefeated 10-0. He has almost 2,000 throwing yards, more than 1,000 rushing yards and 34 total touchdowns, 19 throwing and 15 running. Since Newton is the most deserving player, he deserves the Heisman Trophy.
BG: Josh gets 3 for stating that money doesn’t score touchdowns, Cam Newton does. Bobby gets 2 for pointing out that it hasn’t been proven that Newton did anything wrong. Ken gets 1 for giving a pick other than Newton.
2. Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford are the two biggest names on the free agent market — where do they sign?
BO: As a Yankees fan, I must admit, I feel like the Yankees signing Cliff Lee is the easy way out after he torched them this season. Usually if there is a player of Lee’s caliber available, I want him on the team,
but after learning to hate him, I don’t want him as much as I want to beat him. I have a feeling Lee feels the same way. He doesn’t seem like a big-city guy, and the Rangers left a positive impression on him. I say he stays put in Texas. Despite the pleading of many Mets fans, Carl Crawford will fly west to California and play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim next season. The Angels had a down year, Crawford fits their system and mentality, and reports have said that the halos will make a serious run at the 29-year-old outfielder.
KM: Cliff Lee isn’t leaving Texas. He’s going to listen to the Yankees offer, but I don’t think Nolan Ryan lets his ace walk. There’s no income tax in Texas, so if money is truly the driving factor, Texas technically can offer more by simply coming close to the Yankees offer. Carl Crawford, however, won’t be in Tampa Bay at the start of next year. Bobby Abreu is a terrible outfielder. He’ll be 37 when the season starts and would be better served in a DH role. I think this makes Anaheim a great landing spot for Crawford. Tampa Bay won’t be a big player in Crawford, and the Yankees like Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. The Angels make the most sense.
JF: Unfortunately for the fans of the Rangers, Red Sox, Mets, Rays and anyone who hates the Yankees, Cliff Lee will be wearing pinstripes come next spring. It is almost inevitable, with the Yankees’ insane ability to spend a lot of money, and Cliff Lee’s ability to accept a lot of money. The Yankees have a few things on their side: 1. The money 2. Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia are good friends, going back to their days on the Indians, (this includes their wives too) 3. The money. It is simple and for many it is upsetting. Carl Crawford however is another story. There are a few teams that could end up with Crawford on their roster in 2011 — the Tigers, Angels and Red Sox. Personally I think that the Angels will sign him. They have a vacancy in their outfield, and Carl Crawford is the perfect person to fill an outfield vacancy. The Angels also have enough money to give him to make him happy. Signing Crawford will give the Angles an all-star left fielder and one of the fastest players in baseball, which will make small-ball lover Mike Scioscia happy.
BG: Josh gets 3 for giving a trifecta of reasons why the Yankees will sign Cliff Lee. Ken gets 2 for bringing up the lack of income tax in Texas. Bobby gets 1 for not wanting Cliff Lee.
3. There are several young quarterbacks who are having strong seasons thus far, which of these quarterbacks will be the next to join the upper-tier of their position in the NFL?
BO: I would like a definition of upper-tier, but going on what I think it means, Sam Bradford is the only one I see reaching that level anytime soon. He gives the Rams hope, and has already shown that he can win — or at least not lose — games on his own. His completion percentage for a rookie (58.6) is strong, and coming off serious shoulder surgery in his senior year of college, he has been a pleasant surprise on his way to offensive rookie of the year. He spreads the ball around (six receivers with more than 10 receptions), and even though Stephen Jackson only has two touchdowns, Bradford has kept the Rams in every game but one. He’ll be on the cover of Madden one day.
KM: Josh Freeman has started only 18 games in his young career for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, yet already has six come from behind wins. His 85.8 quarterback rating is six points ahead of fellow second -year quarterback, Mark Sanchez. He only has five interceptions on the season, tied for fifth fewest in the NFL for quarterbacks who have started all of their teams games. Freeman’s maturity from last season to this season has shown, as Tampa Bas already has more wins than all of last season, and will be in contention for a wild card berth in the wide open NFC.
JF: I am interpreting young quarterback to mean that he is 25 or younger, which automatically eliminates Rodgers (27 in a month) and the younger Manning (29). This leaves a few candidates, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and the annoying Jets fan will say Mark Sanchez. The next elite quarterback will be Joe Flacco, he has one of the strongest arms in football, and accuracy to go along with it. Flacco’s passer rating is 88.9, compared to Peyton Manning’s 96.1. Flacco has thrown 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in the strongest division, defensively in football. Ryan has similar numbers, but because Flacco has the better running back and wide receivers, he can only get better. Sanchez has more career interceptions than touchdowns, until he gets that number turned around, he will never be elite. Flacco has the arm, but is also sneaky fast, which adds another dimension to his game.
BG: Josh gets 3 and the win for noting that Flacco is not only talented, but also has the weapons to succeed. Ken and Bobby both make good points that Freeman and Bradford have been difference makers on their teams. Bobby gets 2 for making a Madden reference and Ken gets 1 for discussing Freeman’s maturity.
Joshua takes this week’s AtD, 9 – 5 – 4