Notebook – September 6, 2006

Passing records, CFL Notes, Tennis and Mike Keenan make this edition of the Notebook.

Damon Allen Sets All-time Career Passing Yards Mark

A lot of press (requires registration) was given to Damon Allen leading up to and his subsequent breaking the pro football career passing yards mark on Labour Day. Within most of coverage was debate as to whether Allen should be considered to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Some interesting ideas have come out of the debate, including an “exchange rate” for quarterbacks. Lost in this argument, however, is that players are not elected to halls of fame for achieving one record. It is a combination of performance, championships, and moments of excellence within a whole career. This is not to say Allen should or should not be elected, that is a decision for those that have a vote. The media debating the issue and using shoddy statistical analysis to make a case is just poor journalism though. I expect outright refusal from American fans, media and Hall of Fame members like Dan Marino, but the Canadian media should stick to the facts, like it will never happen, rather than distort statistics to say why he shouldn’t be there. Let us also not forget Allen’s career is not over, he plans to play to the end of the 2007 season at least.

For me Damon Allen has never been the most exciting player to watch. For most of his career, he was a 200-yards per game passer who often would go two-and-out for many possessions yet put together drives to eventually score and come out on top. One exception being last year when he played incredibly well and deservedly took home the CFL‘s Most Valuable Player award. Yet his longevity has allowed him to achieve the pro football career passing yard mark, rush for over 10,000 yards (15th on pro football list), after achieving great things in his college career in both football and baseball. All of this adds up to a great athlete, perhaps the greatest of all time. I think the greater history and breadth of skills of Damon Allen grants him consideration for the title over Tiger Woods, who has been given the greatest athlete of all time title by some pundits for his dominance in golf.

NFL Media Juggernaut

The NFL season starts this Thursday with shuffled television properties. NBC takes on the Sunday night football game while Monday Night Football moves to ESPN. With competitive play lacking in the CFL this year and no big story lines to follow the CFL could be pushed to the side within the sports coverage. Not helping is Larry Tanenbaum and Ted Rogers publicizing their desire to land a NFL team for Toronto. Anyone who reads the article will see it is no more than a pipe dream of these two men (who are most interested in (1) the money an NFL club could bring to their empires and (2) rubbing shoulders with the billionaires of the world). First, the NFL is not looking to expand. Second, they wish to fill the Los Angeles market with any team that may move, leaving Toronto left as second choice. Third, the two franchises talked about moving, the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, are not likely to move. Buffalo will very likely concede to any needs of a new owner rather than see the team leave and both the city and league will favour owners who do not have plans to move the team. New Orleans’ situation is likely a few years away from coming to a head due to the Hurricane Katrina situation. If a new stadium is not on the horizon there within a few years, they may be targeted for movement to Los Angeles at a point where the league will be less criticized for dumping on the citizens of New Orleans. Fourthly, the cost of a NFL franchise, $900 million today, will soon be over the $1 billion mark. This is beyond the reach of any Canadian individuals, especially considering the risk with a small stadium, currency exchange and struggles in getting players to play in Canada (see MLB, NBA, NHL). Even if all of these factors are overcome, a Toronto bid still has their stadium, Rogers Centre, as a factor. With no public money to partially fund a new stadium, the 56,000 stadium (even with retrofits) along with border issues would be a blemish on any bid and the NFL would likely look elsewhere rather than risk shrinking their reach with expansion into Canada. The NFL will keep the carrot dangling for these rich old men, but Ted Rogers could be dead before any opportunity arises.

CFL Quick Notes

It is nice to see teams making changes in the middle of the season. So far this year, Toronto has relieved their offensive co-ordinator, Saskatchewan has released their General Manager and Hamilton has fired a head coach, two assistant coaches and brought in a new GM. Normally CFL teams are adverse to mid-season change, partially due to contract commitments. This only leads to 1-17 seasons however. The moves at least allow for greater preparation for next season. Contrast with the Eskimos, who have committed to their football leadership through the end of the season.

Hamilton’s George Hudson is proposed a scenario where Ottawa expansion lands him back in Ottawa.

Larry Smith in Montreal’s stadium expansion plans.

Jesse Palmer considers playing in Canada as an option after being cut by ’49’ers.

CBC nominated for two Gemini’s for Grey Cup broadcast.

The CFL trade deadline is less than two weeks away, here are some some things teams may be shopping for.

Agassi’s Last Gasp

Caught some of Andre Agassi’s late night matches before he was eliminated on the weekend from the US Open, and he impressed. I have not watched much tennis since the old McEnroe-Connors days and never liked Agassi much, but I could not help appreciate the effort he was putting in.

Keenan “Resigns” in Florida

Just before training camp Florida Panther GM Mike Keenan “resigned” to pursue other opportunities. Has there ever been a coach/GM with a record of moving around like Keenan? When will owners start bypassing him for positions because of his record? Is this just the norm for GM’s/coaches these days, less than three years as a coach, less than two as a GM?

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