Tag Archive | "Matthew Stafford"

Stafford is key to Lions defense


This NFL preseason we keep hearing about how the Detroit Lions defensive line has shown vast improvement from last season and will be depended on to carry the team’s questionable squad.

If you  watched either of the Lions’ first two preseason games, it’s clear this group is aggressive and will be wreaking havoc, collapsing pockets  and causing Percy Harvin-type migraines for their opponents.

Coach Jim Schwartz worked overtime to revamp the front four that includes newly-acquired veterans Kyle Vander Bosch and Corey Williams as well as No. 2 overall draft pick, Ndamukong Suh. This unit will be a force no doubt but the key player to keeping points off the opponent’s board this season is actually on the offensive side of the ball; his name is Matthew Stafford.

Stafford, who ranks near the top of the Top 50 Athletes salary list, has shined thus far in the preseason and has done well showing off Detroit’s new offensive weapons like wide receiver Nate Burleson, rookie running back Jahvid Best and tight end Tony Sheffler. With wideout Calvin Johnson thrown in the mix, Stafford has been showing great poise this preseason and opting for longer, structured drives as opposed to looking for the homerun ball to Johnson.

Yeah, it’s preseason and we know the Lions were 4-0 in preseason the same year they went on to their Matt Millen-infested 0-16 record but the good news is, Stafford is orchestrating 10, 11 and 14 play drives this preseason and that may be the key to this team’s success.

If Stafford can learn to utilize the new two tight end formation the Lions are implementing and  control the ball and clock, keeping the team’s sieve-style unit off the field, expect these 2010 Lions to compete.

The Lions’ defense is suffering some significant personnel losses including the season-ending injury to linebacker Jordan Dizon and the nagging groin injury that has severely limited second-year standout Louis Delmas. Not keeping veteran tackling machine Larry Foote who wanted to stay in Detroit may come back to haunt the Lions, especially after the Dizon injury

Over the past few years opposing quarterbacks have feasted on Detroit’s defense making career days out of what should have been ordinary Sundays.

I don’t expect to see embarrassing opening game plays like the 60+ yard bomb that Matt Ryan smoked the Lions’ defense on in his first play of his NFL career or the multi-career-days so many running backs have put up against the team’s former defenses, but regardless, there is still a lot of work to be done and that’s why Stafford is the key.

Stafford has brought hope to Detroit and their loyal fans and thus far is showing he can handle carrying the team on his shoulders. Question will be, can he maintain ball control and keep the team’s demise off the field.

NFL: Why Roger Goodell should lift ban on Tweets – Sports Climax 

Rex Ryan “King of the F Bombs” – Sports Climax

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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NFL camp news, Favre says he’ll retire


Across our nation, teams and media outlets are buzzing with what has turned out to be eventful NFL training camps thus far. The most recent news coming out of the camps was Brett Favre allegedly telling Chilly and Zygi he is retiring and not to expect him in camp but more on that later.    

The preseason will officially begin for the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys this Sunday night and follows shortly thereafter for the remaining 30 NFL teams.  Many are left wondering if the issues and problems in camps can be conquered prior to game time.

The main news out of the Cowboys camp surrounds first round pick Dez Bryant. The rookie signed quick, was the first to show on the field the first day of training, then refused to carry veteran Roy William’s pads. The following week, Jon Kitna threw a pass behind the wide receiver and after getting hit on the play, Bryant is expected out with an injury that occurred on the play. Is the Lions’ curse hitting the ‘Boys in Dallas?

For the Detroit Lions after revamping the roster with several trades and FA signings, the primary obstacle remains signing Ndamukong Suh.  As the second overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Suh is likely to request quite a payday.  Last season, the Lions were faced with a similar obstacle as they worked out a record contract with University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford but that was signed the evening before drafting the No. 1 overall pick. 

Presumably, Suh or his agents were waiting on Sam Bradford to sign with the St. Louis Rams in order to gauge and asking price.  With Bradford recently signing for $78 million – $50 million of which is guaranteed – it seems likely that the Lions will have to show Suh the money.  Much of the speculation has been that Suh will ask for more than Bradford.  Suh’s agents claim this is not the case but continue to pursue what they believe to be market value for what many still consider the best player to come out of the draft.

The training camp season has been one of injury struggles thus far for the Philadelphia Eagles.  As of Monday, six starters were on the shelf during training camp with the most notable being DeSean Jackson.  Jackson went down on Saturday with a lower back injury and was carted off the field.  As of Tuesday morning, Coach Andy Reid has commented that Jackson is steadily improving. 

For the Washington Redskins, the primary issue has been Albert Haynesworth.  Haynesworth has been unable to complete the team conditioning test satisfactorily.  After initially failing the test twice, Haynesworth sit out due to knee soreness on Saturday and Sunday.  Haynesworth began the test on Monday but was unable to continue due to the knee issue.

The team conditioning test mandates that certain running drills are completed within an allowed amount of time.  While Haynesworth has been unable to successfully complete the drills, 47-year-old Mike Golic 16 years retired out of the NFL completed the drill on the ESPN network Monday. 

The Redskins – Haynesworth drama began in early June when Haynesworth failed to show up for a mandatory mini-camp due to his objections of the new defensive scheme. He later pocketed a $21 million bonus and demanded a trade.

Though the New York Jets believe they are Super Bowl contenders with or without Darrelle Revis many would argue that Revis will significantly increase those chances.  Revis has yet to show up for the Jets training camp and though various reports exist on the reasons for the holdout many agree that the main issue is total compensation. 

With 54 tackles and 6 interceptions last year with perhaps the largest coming during the Wild Card game that lifted the team over the Bengals, Revis is said to want either a short term deal with a large signing bonus or a long-term deal believed to be in the range of $30 million.

The running back position is now the area of concern for the Denver Broncos as starter Knowshon Moreno was recently carted off the field with what wound up being diagnosed as a “slight tear” in his right hamstring.  The Broncos remain convinced that Moreno will be back in 2 – 3 weeks but that seems like a best case scenario.  The team remains hopeful that Moreno will not miss any carries as the talent behind Moreno on the depth chart is unproven.

In Chicago, the Bears are learning a new offensive system and are getting newly acquired pass rusher Julius Peppers accustomed to the defensive system.  At this point in time, hope is high but the Bears will need to execute in all areas in a division as competitive as the NFC North.  After a dismal 2009 season, Bears fans are hopeful that the Martz offensive system will work to Cutler’s strengths. 

In Minnesota, the Vikings have learned that Brett Favre will retire for a third time.  However, many inside the NFL and owner Zygi Wilf are convinced Favre will return before all is said and done.  Regardless, the Vikings will need to look at the possibility of moving forward with Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels and Joe Webb as signal callers.  Behind Favre, the quarterback position in Minnesota is still unproven and training camp play has given no firm indication of who might be the projected starter should Favre stay true to his word.

Expectations are higher than ever for the Houston Texans.  Coming off of their first winning season in franchise history, the Texans are looking to make their first playoff appearance in the history of the team.  Many around the NFL point to the possibility that they may do it in impressive fashion – clinching the AFC South ahead of the Indianapolis Colts.  If quarterback Matt Schaub can continue to pass as he did last year only bright things should be expected for this team as the young talent continues to gain experience.

Competition in Arizona has led to many on-field fights as the team begins to adjust to life without Kurt Warner.  The expectation in Arizona is that Matt Leinart will be the signal caller for the start of the season.  When the Cardinals drafted Leinart the expectations were that he would someday carry the weight of the organization on his shoulders.  In the NFL, he has had mixed results with moments of despair and flashes of brilliance.  In any event, the success of the team likely hinges on how the team adjusts without Kurt Warner.

When the preseason begins this Sunday night, teams will have four weeks to adjust their roster to the best possible.  If the past few seasons have shown us anything expect new faces in the playoffs and a high level of competition across the league.

MORE NFL: Is Roger Goodell Losing his Big Stick? – Sports Climax

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Used with permission of the author.

Cade Caldwell is an Atlanta-based sportswriter and contributor to Sports Climax.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Staggering stats of Top 50 paid athletes


In the turbulent economic times of today with few professions being safe from financial challenge, the top American athletes continue to find guaranteed financial success.

While the economy dips, the average salary of the top 50 highest-earning American athletes shows an increase of 11 percent from the 2009 average with an unprecedented $26.2 million.  Not only guaranteed of the salary agreed to in the terms of their contracts, today’s athletes are raking it in for various endorsements deals.

Golf actually topped the list with the top two American athletes in terms of overall earnings are golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.  Despite the recent troubles Tiger Woods has faced, as well as the loss of several endorsements, he still leads the way as the highest paid American athlete at over $90 million dollars.  Woods also remains the leader in endorsements at $70 million.

At nearly $30 million behind fellow golfer Tiger Woods sits Phil Mickelson at a total of over $61 million in earnings.  Mickleson is second in endorsements as well at $52 million.  Woods and Mickleson represent the only two members of the PGA on the list.

Surprisingly, the NHL is not represented on the list and the only boxer listed is Floyd Mayweather coming in third at just over $60 million.  Mayweather was not listed last year but the earnings from two successful fights propelled him near the top.

While racing is represented on the list, it is only represented by NASCAR with three competitors receiving mention.  Of those, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was highest at 16th.  Each of the NASCAR drivers were alike in that the endorsements they received outweighed their salary and winnings by millions.  Coincidentally, all three are currently under contract to Hendrick Motorsports with the other two NASCAR representatives, in order of earnings, being Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

The NBA had the most athletes on the list at 16.  Not surprisingly, the league leader in terms of earnings was LeBron James at 4th.  Of the nearly $46 million James received in earnings, $30 million came as endorsements.  James’ new teammate Dwyane Wade landed 10th on the list at nearly $28 million in earnings.  The majority of Wade’s earnings came from his salary and winnings.  The other new resident of South Beach, Chris Bosh, is not currently on the list.

The NFL was the second most represented league with a total of 15 representatives.  Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning led the way at 9th.  Of the nearly $31 million earned by Manning the split between salary and winnings along with endorsements was almost even.

The second representative of the NFL was Matthew Stafford at 11th.  Nearly all of the almost $28 million Stafford earned came from his record breaking contract following the 2009 NFL Draft.  Stafford received less than $1 million in endorsements.

MLB players occupied 13 spots on the list.  Of these, five were members of the New York Yankees with the top MLB representative Alex Rodriguez coming in at 5th with $37 million as he looks to hit his 600th career home run in the near future.

The Boston Red Sox represented three spots on the list while the Toronto Blue Jays held one which may mean, in terms of salary, the ultra-competitive AL East appears to be the place a free agent looking for a big payday might wish to land.  Between New York, Boston and Toronto, the division held nine of the MLB’s thirteen representatives.

The MLB also held the final spot on the list.  New York Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett was listed as 50th at a total of just under $17 million.  Nearly all of Burnett’s earnings were due to his salary.

The list appears certain to change.  For instance, popular Yankee Derek Jeter is currently 8th on the list but may be destined to climb higher as his contract ends and negotiations are likely to guarantee a pay increase.  Though not currently on the list, one might estimate that the recent deals of Joe Mauer and the soon to be on-the-market Prince Fielder will be propelled into the top 50.

The average of $26.2 million among the top 50 seems like an amount that is meant to be overshadowed with these and many new deals looming.  As sports in the major four professional organizations seems to be more competitive than ever with late season pushes into the playoffs and ratings at all time highs one can safely assume that these deals are only likely to continue as markets fight to place a winning product onto their fields.

Used with permission of the author.

Cade Caldwell is an Atlanta-based sportswriter and contributor to Sports Climax.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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NFL quarterbacks shattering records


Throughout the history of the National Football League the quarterback position has been one of great importance and in the minds of many NFL fans and the media the quarterback is usually the one to blame when things go awry.

While the game has traditionally focused on an even balanced attack consisting of passing, running and strong defense, recent statistics suggest this trend has shifted.

The passing game has exploded. 

During the 2009 season a total of ten quarterbacks passed for over 4,000 yards.  Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans compiled the most at 4,770 yards and nearly propelled his team into the NFL playoffs for the first time had it not been for several missed kicking opportunities earlier in the season. 

Also included in that elite list was Brett Favre of the Minnesota Vikings.  Though Favre had struggled with his decision on retirement earlier in the year, he led the Vikings to within one game of a Super Bowl appearance – a large part of which hinged on his arm. 

Among the other starters that exceeded 4,000 yards in 2009 are both Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts.  Not surprisingly, the Saints and Colts collided in the Super Bowl with Brees’ performance earning him the Super Bowl MVP. 

Interestingly enough, the leading rusher for the Super Bowl Champion Saints last season was running back Pierre Thomas with a total of only 793 yards.  A year earlier the Pittsburgh Steelers became Super Bowl Champ with another leading rusher with less than 1,000 yards in Willie Parker with only 791. 

The trend of recent NFL drafts supports this change in style of offense on the field.  In the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions drafted Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall with their first pick of the draft.  Placing the bank on the arm of their new quarterback, the Lions signed Stafford to $78 million, $41.7 million of that guaranteed, an NFL record. 

Later in the same draft, the New York Jets moved up with a trade and selected Mark Sanchez No. 5 overall.  Sanchez later signed a deal worth $50 million.  As the largest contract the Jets had offered in the history of the organization, the deal included $28 million in guarantees.  Sanchez became only the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first playoff game. 

In the 2010 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams passed up the opportunity to take college defensive star Ndamukong Suh in favor of selecting Sam Bradford.  Although Bradford has yet to agree to a deal it is expected that the Rams will offer a deal that will likely surpass the record received by Stafford a year earlier.

Although teams are more likely than ever to place a premium on a young quarterback during the draft, it doesn’t always work as expected.  In 2007, the Oakland Raiders selected JaMarcus Russell with the No. 1 overall pick of the draft after Russell had displayed a substantial amount of talent throughout his days at LSU and was highly coveted following the NFL Combine. 

After a long holdout, Russell and the Raiders agreed to a contract worth $61 million with $32 million guaranteed.  As a starter for the Raiders, Russell would finish a dismal 7-18 before being released in May 2010.     

What does this mean in terms of the growing popularity of the sport?  The NFL leads the way among all professional sports organizations in television ratings and will receive a combined total of $20.4 billion from FOX, CBS, NBC and ESPN.  The current terms of the deal are until 2011 for FOX, CBS and NBC with ESPN maintaining rights through 2013.  Between the four, the contract of ESPN is the most valuable at $8.8 billion.  For the first time ever, the 2010 Draft was aired in prime-time and reported a 30 percent hike in ratings.

In 2003, the league launched the NFL Network.  Many argue that the network is among the most successful of the networks devoted to the four major professional sports.  In 2010, the network began airing Canadian Football League games and will air the Grey Cup.  Some criticize that the league is airing CFL games in order to stir further interest in a full-time team in Canada. 

Despite whatever motive may exist, the league has shown an interest in international exposure evidenced by playing a regular season game annually in both Toronto and London.  Closer to home, the league often makes its presence felt in San Antonio. 

While the success of all four sports leagues is apparent, only the NFL could move forward in operations without a marketing department.  When such a successful product explodes on the field boosting television ratings to levels previously not imagined the surge in viewers and in the cash flow destined to come from networks can only be expected to inflate further. 

 As long as the pigskin is being tossed for a record number of yards the NFL can continue to expect the popularity to follow.  And in this economy, it is nice to have advertisers that are looking for you!

 Used with permission of the author.

Cade Caldwell is an Atlanta-based sportswriter and contributor to Sports Climax.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Stafford Leads Lions to Dramatic Last-Second Win


DETROIT – The Detroit Lions may have found the leader they have been searching for over the past few decades and that leader staffordmay have accomplished a near-impossible feat; winning over the Detroit media.

On his home field in a game against the Cleveland Browns, Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford had been battling all afternoon to lead his team back from a 24-3 deficit and it ended in dramatic fashion.

Down 37-31 Stafford had no timeouts remaining, needed to get into the end zone from the Cleveland 32 and had only :08 seconds to do it. What happened over the next several minutes may become Stafford’s defining moment.

Stafford took the snap and scrambled Favre-style, avoiding an aggressive rush while trying to find an open receiver. He avoided one rusher, then another as the clock ticked to :00. Stafford saw the Browns’ 305-pound lineman C.J. Mosley barreling in at him but stood tall, planted his feet and threw the desperation pass.

As the ball sailed towards the end zone, Mosley crushed Stafford into the Ford Field turf. The rookie quarterback laid flat on the turf, grimacing in pain with an apparent shoulder injury but the Hail Mary pass was answered in the form of yellow hankies blanketing the end zone.

Pass interference on the defense.

While Stafford was helped to the sidelines where team doctors attempted to look at the injury, Cleveland decided to call time out to set up their defense as Lions back-up quarterback Daunte Culpepper was stepping up to the line to take the game’s final snap.

“I heard time-out over the loudspeaker and knew that was probably my only chance of getting back in,” Stafford said. “It was my left shoulder. Don’t really need it to throw.”

The doctors attempted to keep Stafford down to examine and determine the type of injury but Stafford refused to stay down. When he told the doctors to help him up, they refused until he demanded.

“Once one of them helped me up,” Stafford said, “they weren’t going to stop me.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz must have had a tremendous amount of information swirling through his head. His back-up quarterback was in the huddle on the field, his starter with an obvious injury demanding on returning for the final play, his team needing a touchdown to win, no timeouts remaining.

Ignoring the pain, Stafford found the energy to push his way back onto the field, took the final snap and thread a bullet to tight end Brandon Pettigrew for a touchdown, his record 5th of the game and a 38-37 victory. Stafford also finished with a career-high 422 passing yards.

See dramatic comeback video on NFL.com here.

Schwartz was nearly lost for words during some of the post-game. “[Stafford] popped up, and all the team doctors said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.’ I said, ‘What does he have?’ They said, ‘We don’t even know.’

Stafford, his shoulder wrapped in ice, elaborated more during post game. “I was in some good pain, but the play goes on. It didn’t feel good, but I didn’t care. It was one play. I knew I didn’t have to play too much, just one snap, and try to throw a TD.”

“I’ve never been a part of [winning with no time on the clock],” said Stafford. “I’ve been a part of some close ones at the end, obviously, but that was wild.”

Wild? Yes. 

True courage? Yes.

Defining moment? Time will tell and more importantly, the Detroit Lions may have finally found their leader.

Related Articles:

No Doubt Now: Stafford Strong Enough to Lead – Detroit Free Press

Stafford Shows True Grit in Beating Browns – The Detroit News

Schwartz: X-Rays Negative on Stafford’s Shoulder – DFP

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Heisman Trophy Winner Bradford Considers Having Surgery


OKLAHOMA – ESPN reported that last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Oklahoma Sooners’ quarterback Sam Bradford (AP Photo/Ty Russell)is seriously considering having season-ending surgery on his injured shoulder.

Bradford has missed a majority of the season and when he tried to make a comeback last week, lasted just two series of downs before leaving the field aggravating the injury further.

The Sooners entered the season focused on making a run for a national title but those dreams were shattered in one snap of the ball. The Sooners currently sit at the cellar of the AP Top 25 with a 3-3 record and are struggling to earn a decent bowl bid.

While we watch Bradford’s stock in the NFL 2010 Draft drop like a Wall Street crash, it makes me reminisce about the day Mark Sanchez announced he was leaving the USC Trojans and opting to join the draft.

At the time, USC Coach Pete Carroll showed some displeasure at the press conference and said Sanchez “made a bad choice”.

Since then, Sanchez has been the starting quarterback for the New York Jets, playing under a contract fat enough to support even the family members he has never met ($60 million with $28 million guaranteed).

Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford who went No. 1 overall in last year’s draft is another player who left campus early. Stafford who is currently rehabbing a knee injury suffered this NFL season is the starter for the Detroit Lions and playing with a $72 million contract ($41.7 million guaranteed).

While Bradford contemplates going under the knife with a cloudy future and Sanchez and Stafford cash their checks every week, I would like to now ask Mr. Carroll who he thinks made a “bad choice”.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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NFL News – Urlacher & McNabb Out; Sanchez and Stafford Debut


All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher, the heart and soul of the Chicago Bears’ defense will miss the remainder of the brian-urlacherseason after dislocating his wrist in the 21-15 loss to the division rival Green Bay Packers Sunday night.

With the injury occurring so early in the season, Chicago is expected to shop around for a replacement to fill the middle linebacker spot. Derrick Brooks is expected to join the team if the two sides can work out a deal. Brooks is familiar with Chicago coach Lovie Smith and Chicago’s defensive schemes.

Mark Sanchez silenced some of the critics including Pete Carroll, his former coach at USC, when the rookie led his New York Jets to a 24-7 win over the Houston Texans.

Earlier in the year and prior to selection day, Carroll had publicly stated that Sanchez “made a bad choice” in joining the NFL draft.

Sanchez finished 18-of-31 for 272 yards and one TD.

In other injury news, joining Urlacher on the sidelines list is Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb who suffered a cracked rib in his team’s 38-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

With McNabb’s status unknown and Michael Vick ineligible for another week, don’t be surprised to see ex-Eagle Jeff Garcia donning green in Philly this weekend when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints visit the ‘City of Brotherly Love’.

In other rookie news, Matthew Stafford will have to wait for his first victory. Stafford appears to have a much larger chore ahead of him than Sanchez after his Detroit Lions started this season where they left off last year.

The Lions’ defense who were worst in the NFL last year were ripped apart by fantasy football favorite Drew Brees, who tossed six touchdown passes during the 45-27 blowout over the Lions.

Stafford finished 16-of-37 for 205 yards and 3 INTs.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Will Culpepper Ask to Be Traded?


DETROIT – When Daunte Culpepper decided to come out of retirement and sign with the Detroit Lions in October (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)2008 we covered that story and the first line in our coverage read, “Run Daunte run! In the opposite direction.”

Culpepper, a three-time Pro Bowler, may wish he had heeded that advice as he finds himself relegated to the back-up quarterback position on the worst team in the NFL, riding the bench while Matthew Stafford, an unproven rookie, will be taking snaps Week One in New Orleans.

Prior to signing with the Lions, Culpepper had several meetings and tryouts with other NFL teams and turned down offers to play back-up for two winning teams, Pittsburgh and Green Baybefore deciding to play in Detroit. He was clearly looking for another opportunity to start and his discussion with the Lions is sure to have included that.

Culpepper didn’t speak to reporters after Monday’s practice, there’s an early warning sign he will be wanting out of Motown. If he demands a trade like many of us think he will and should, the pressure on Stafford to succeed multiplies tenfold since there are no veterans on the sidelines to step in if he falters or go to for guidance.

The bench is a strange place to assign a veteran like Culpepper who is a proven NFL quarterback that has thrown for more than 13 miles in his career. Thirteen miles . . . 23,208 yards . . . more than 232 football fields.

Being replaced with a rookie can only add fuel to the fire. Leave it to the Lions to use and hang another veteran out to dry, (Google Tatum Bell).

Culpepper showed great loyalty during his college days at the University of Central Florida.

After running up staggering stats, several top colleges tried to recruit him but he chose to stay in Orlando playing for the only school that offered him an opportunity during the original recruiting process.

Most youngsters his age would have jumped at the chance to play in the SEC but Culpepper stayed loyal to UCF. He went on to set a laundry list of NCAA records before being drafted in the first-round by the Minnesota Vikings.

Since arriving in Motown last fall, Culpepper has shown great commitment to the Lions organization.

He showed up in game shape this summer, dropping 30 pounds in the offseason preparing to lead a 0-16 disaster out of the cellar. The Lions quarterback position was Culpepper’s to lose but he was never given a fair chance to lose it.

Although he showed more poise and confidence and ran stats much more impressive than Stafford during preseason, Stafford connected with wide receiver Calvin Johnson for long gains on several occasions. That is sure to have caught the eye of Lions Coach Jim Schwartz but in all fairness to Culpepper; Johnson sat out with an injury both of Culpepper’s starts.

If anyone thinks Culpepper would have trouble finding a sprinting Johnson down any sideline they didn’t watch Culpepper when he made a living heaving spirals to a guy named Randy Moss. Culpepper’s arm clearly has some life left and he deserved a legitimate chance to reinvent his career and rejuvenate the Lions.

Quarterbacks do it every season. Last year Chad Pennington found his game in Miami and took home the AP Comeback-Player-of-the-Year award, leading the Dolphins to an 11-5 record. A year earlier, Jeff Garcia bounced back and found himself playing into January after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 9-7 division-winning record and playoff spot.

Culpepper must certainly feel burned; shafted. He did nothing that justified losing the starting position this preseason and Stafford didn’t perform well enough in his two starts to earn it.

Curious to see how this latest move by the NFL’s most desperate organization plays out. Snatching an opportunity like this from a veteran like Culpepper can cause bad Karma in your locker room.

Will it lead to trade demands by the 32-year-old quarterback who’s playing years are limited?

Don’t be surprised if it does.

Related Articles:

Starting Stafford Too High a Risk for Lions. 

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Starting Stafford Too Huge a Risk for Lions


DETROIT – After seeing rookie sensations Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco evolve into legitimate starters last year in the Matthew StaffordNFL, the temptation was too much for the Detroit Lions and Coach Jim Schwartz.

With the season opening September 13th with a road game in New Orleans followed by a visit from the Minnesota Vikings, Schwartz ignored the risks and named Matthew Stafford the starter.

Putting the young slinger across from Minnesota’s swarming defensive line just eight days into his NFL career may evolve into a human sacrifice and reinvent the name ‘Purple People Eaters’ for the Vikings.

The Vikings sacked Lions quarterbacks a total of 10 times in the two games last year. That is a risky scenario to place a young rookie quarterback in who is trying to build confidence.

Stafford has an incredible arm, there’s no doubt about that but it’s hard to throw with a 300-lb. lineman’s arms wrapped around you.

We’ve been hearing the Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco theories but those two rookies stood behind proven offensive lines last year and were given plenty of protection throughout their 11-5 seasons. There’s talk about how improved the Lions O line is this year but why not wait a few weeks to verify that.

The league’s best quarterbacks crumble under excessive pressure up front, even Tom Brady as seen in the Super Bowl game when the New York Giants knocked Brady totally off his game upsetting the heavily-favored New England Patriots.

The NFL game is a sprint compared to NCAA and Stafford could have gotten a feel for the pace and speed of the game by watching the first few Sundays from the sidelines.

There would be a lesser argument for handing Stafford a clipboard and headset in New Orleans if this were a ‘Stafford vs. Stanton’ or a ‘Stafford vs. Orlovsky’ debate but the Lions have a proven Pro Bowl quarterback on their roster, Daunte Culpepper who has thrown for 23,208 yards in his career. That’s 13 miles; more than 232 football fields.

Culpepper deserves a legitimate chance to reinvent himself. It happens all the time. John Travolta did it on the screen with Pulp Fiction; Chad Pennington did it on the field with Miami last year.

Culpepper, the three-time Pro Bowl player showed up 30 pounds lighter in game shape before the season started expecting to start. Now that he finds himself out of the starting position he was never given a chance to lose, there may be some bad locker room karma heading the Lions way.

When Daunte joined the Lions in October 2008 we covered that story, “Daunte Should Avoid the Lions”. The Lions have a knack for finishing player’s careers on a sour note (Google Tatum Bell and Marcus Pollard). If Culpepper sits rotting away on the bench while he has some arm left, he could join that group. You have to wonder; Will Daunte ask to be traded?

Culpepper appears committed to again making a mark in the NFL and he cannot do that collecting splinters on the bench.

Playing against former teams brings the best out of athletes as we see ever week when ex-Lions visit Detroit and have career days after being traded or cut. I would have expected the best out of Daunte against his former Vikings team during Week Two at Ford Field.

The logical decision would have been to sit Stafford for at least two weeks then re-evaluate his progress, the O line and the team then go from there. William Clay Ford is always more interested in selling tickets as in the case with hurrying quarterback Joey Harrington, a first-round dud that was never given a fair chance to develop.

The Lions got impatient. This is clearly a rebuilding time, just as the past decade has been so what would a few more weeks of development have mattered?

 This is unlikely to be a playoff season but the Lions are taking a chance of destroying the confidence of their franchise $78 million investment-another reason this team is, and may always be, destined to be a loser.

Voice your opinion by taking our front page poll and vote whether Stafford and Mark Sanchez should be taking snaps NFL Week One.

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More Matthew Stafford Articles:

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Why Stafford and Detroit Lions are a Bad Marriage

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NCAA Football Weekend in Review


The NCAA Football season opened with a bang this weekend.

Sam BradfordSome of the news creating the biggest buzz was #20 BYU upsetting #3 Oklahoma Sooners 14-13 in a game that included Heisman Trophy winner QB Sam Bradford watching a majority of the contest from the sidelines while sporting a sling on his multi-million-dollar throwing arm.

Bradford sprained the shoulder during the final seconds of the first half then was replaced by back-up Landry Jones who finished (6-of-12, 51yds) for the game-quarterback stats unfamiliar with the Sooners and their fans.

In another game, #6 the Ohio State Buckeyes avoided an embarrassing upset, squeaking out a win against Navy in the final minutes.

With the Buckeyes leading 29-27 late in the forth quarter, Navy attempted a two-point conversion but the pass was intercepted by the Buckeyes and taken to the house on the opposite side of the field giving the Buckeyes a narrow 31-27 victory.

Is there a reason to worry in Athens?

The #13 Georgia Bulldogs may be headed in for a long season while they try to compensate for the loss of two members of last year’s dominating offensive backfield, quarterback Matthew Stafford who went #1 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft and running back Knowshon Moreno, another first-round selection.

The Bulldogs offense sputtered out and they lost to #9 Oklahoma State 24-10.

In the days sparring matches, Tim Tebow and his #1 Florida Gators defeated Charleston Southern 62-3, #2 Texas squashed Louisiana-Monroe 59-20 and #4 USC, led by freshman quarterback Matt Barkley crushed San Jose State 56-3.

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Why Stafford and Detroit Lions are a Bad Marriage

Get Ready Lions, Stafford Knows How to Party!

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