Will Jermain Taylor Sign His Own Death Warrant After Defeating Sam Soliman?

Tonight, Little Rock native Jermain Taylor took home the middleweight IBF title with a unanimous decision take-down of 40-year-old Sam Soliman. On the surface, that’s great news for one of Arkansas’ most beloved athletes. In reality, it could present an opportunity for the former Olympic gold medalist with tragic consequences.

Because this Soliman win returns some prestige to Taylor’s once-matinee brand, many boxing pundits believe it’s likely HBO will attempt to schedule a fight between the 37-year-old Taylor and undefeated Ganndady Golovkin, who at age 32 has the highest KO ratio (27 of 30 fights) in middleweight championship history. Golovkin, aka “GGG,” has never been knocked down or knocked out in over 375 fights. If the promise of large purse trump the publicly stated intentions of Taylor’s promoter Lou Dibella, it could pose serious health threats to Taylor, who was severely beaten the last time he fought boxers remotely near Golovkin’s caliber. As Jake Emen of ProBoxing-Fans.com writes:

Make no mistake about it, Golovkin vs. Taylor would be an absolute disaster. Jermain Taylor is a fighter who has suffered bleeding on the brain. Caleb Truax knocked him down. Kelly Pavlik, Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham all brutally kayoed him. Prior to this fight, he didn’t sniff the top 10 of the Middleweight division. He has no business in the ring against somebody like Gennady Golovkin at this stage of his career, and more importantly, at this stage of his life. If anyone around him had any sense, they’d let this return to championship glory signal the end of Taylor’s career, a heroic curtain call enabling him to rest easy for the remainder of his years – not to mention allow him to sort out his pending legal issues. But no, that won’t happen, will it?

Before this match is actually scheduled, Golovkin must win his Oct. 18 match against Marco Rubio and it’s possible Taylor will fight once more too. Still, the stars seem to be aligning for what could be a catastrophe for Taylor – and the sport of boxing – given the brain damage Taylor suffered in 2009.

In 2011, the Nevada State Athletic Commission approved Taylor’s reapplication to fight after he’d gone through a battery of tests and received clearance from doctors.

Dr. Margaret Goodman, a long-time ringside physician for the NSAC, condemned the decision. “I think it is unconscionable that Jermain [Taylor] was relicensed,” she told Ring Magazine. “It is not about whether his brain has healed or how he looked in the gym. Jermain has shown a predisposition to cerebral hemorrhage, and irrespective of whether or not he bled, he has shown he cannot adequately handle a punch.”

Goodman ultimately said the commission was playing “Russian roulette” with Taylor’s life.

I love miracles and feel-good stories of redemption and all that, but not enough to see what could transpire if this fight happens. I hope Taylor still has enough of his wits about him to say “no” to HBO if and when the time comes.

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Another Step to San Antonio Becoming NFL Raiders’ New Home

Evin Demirel:

Yes, from almost all statistical accounts, 27-year-old Raider running back Darren McFadden‘s production is heading south. But could his franchise follow?

Originally posted on The Big Lead:

San Antonio Raiders

San Antonio residents have been receiving mailed surveys asking about their interest and support if the Raiders played in San Antonio, according to a report from News Radio 1200 WOAI.

In July, reports emerged that Raiders owner Mark Davis had flown to San Antonio and met with civic leaders. The Raiders lease in Oakland expires after this season, and Davis refused to be a co-tenant with the 49ers in the new Levi’s Stadium.

The questions include asking what other sports teams the survey respondents have supported, and whether they would be interested in season tickets at various price points, and also “would you support the Raiders were they to move to San Antonio?”

WOAI is also reporting that the cost of the survey ($50,000) is being paid equally by the city of San Antonio and the Raiders.

Is this posturing? It’s a little late in the game to…

View original 45 more words


NFL Pro Bowler Lorenzo Neal to be Auctioned Alongside 50 Units of Botox

Life's not quite a breeze for Lorenzo, but it's close.

Life’s not quite a breeze for Lorenzo, but it’s close.

Few professional athletes have had as much success jumping from one franchise to the next as four-time Pro Bowler Lorenzo Neal. For 11 consecutive years, playing for the likes of Tennessee, San Diego, New York, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, he blocked for a 1,000-yard running back. He might have been the greatest journeyman in NFL history.

While Neal’s career accomplishments put him in rarefied air, the diversity and number of his activities since retiring after the 2008 season place him in a class all his own. On Saturday night, thanks to the Clovis North High School Bronco Foundation’s fundraiser, he takes the next step in a five-year journey that grows more fantastic by the day.

Neal, as well as the San Diego Chargers [12-1 favorites to win the 2015 Super Bowl], are item No. 7 on a list of live auction items that have been lassoed up by the foundation and donors for Clovis North’s annual Stampede:

“7 Priceless Football Weekend for 4 with Lorenzo Neal and the San Diego Chargers: watch Saturday’s pre-game practice, tour the locker room. and take pictures with your favorite Chargers. Receive executive parking pass for Sunday, attend the Chargers’ executive tailgate with Lorenzo Neal, and then go into the game -November 23 vs. the Rams.”

The list of potential prizes for supporters of this central Californian school doesn’t end with the chance to chill with Neal, the opportunity the feel the fire of fantasy football stud and MVP candidate Phillip Rivers from but feet away, get half a side of Organic beef butchered to one’s specifications or a beer Kegerator. Thanks to generous sponsors such as California Industrial Rubber Company, Inc. and Fresno dermatologist Kathleen Behr, silent auction items like botox are on the table too. Dr. Behr has provided 50 units of the cosmetic toxin for the evening’s festivities.

So, how exactly did Neal find himself here? Was it divine providence, or mere caprice, that led him from paving paths for Adrian Murrell, Warrick Dunn, Eddie George and Corey Dillon to being sold at the Panoche Creek River Ranch off North Highway 41?

The power to unravel this koan is beyond me.

I do know this: “Low Daddy” has become an entrepreneurial Krakatoa whose powers may just be unfathomable. He has spewed more revenue-generating and philanthropic lava, in more directions, than most minds can grasp.

Poppycock, you say?

The 43-year-old’s unofficial c.v. since retiring says otherwise. In it, we get some standard retired-player coaches’ clinic type stuff here, and a lot of NFL broadcast and radio color commentary there, but it gets pretty non-predictable in a hurry.

In the last five years, Lorenzo has also been:

- Hanging with comedian Adam Corolla, talking door hinges, flipping properties and why serving time sometimes isn’t all that bad.

- Taking care of his 1971 and ’72 Cutlass Supremes

- Headlining an apparently short-lived reality TV show project called “2nd Shot at Glory,” packaged as “American Idol” meets “The Biggest Loser” meets America’s most beloved pastime… football.” The show was to involve Neal and at least three other former NFL players supervising the efforts of pro football prospects.

2nd shot at Glory

“Participants can be from every position in the NFL. Can you imagine a kicker winning? – the outrage, the pandemonium!,” we read on the show’s Web site. “Finally, you can have your 2nd Shot at Glory by competing against other men from all across America for money, glory and most importantly, the opportunity for a spot on an NFL roster.”

“The winner receives $500,000 cash prize and a guaranteed contract with a professional agent to negotiate their first contract.”

- Overseeing another apparently short-lived project called Fan Foods Inc., a grocery store with a not-sizzling Facebook presence.

- Getting the word out on breast cancer

- Providing for his children, including a daughter who has suffered seizures and speech delay

- Helping Native and aboriginal youth stay active

- Running a non-profit called Worldwide Athletes, LLC. Purpose = All about getting kids access to higher education.

- Helping students at Fresno High School set and achieve goals through his “Changing a Generation Foundation.”

- Charging up to $2,000 per hour – with occasional half-off discounts – to speak to kids in a motivational manner.

- Hawking a workout device called The Body Stretcher

- Wearing  a CrossFit T-shirt at a CrossFit gym grand opening

- Endorsing the StreetStrider, said to be the world’s first indoor/outdoor elliptical cross trainer

loneal

- Being a professor at Football University

- Helping run an anti drunk-driving service called Safe Ride Solutions. “Basically, it’s like having a AAA card for partying,” Neal told Yahoo Sports. “You call an 800 number, and an off-duty police officer comes to you and drives you home in your own car, no questions asked. It’s totally confidential. When we pitched it to the NFL, they gave us their approval and told us it was OK to shop it to teams.”

- Crashing his truck into a pole after getting drunk on the Fourth of July. Nobody was hurt. “[He] just ran off the road, struck a pole,” officer Axel Reyes told KFSN-TV. “Nothing real major about it.”

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NFL Fullback Extraordinaire Lorenzo Neal Fought a Sumo Champion

It’s not any old NFL legend who has traveled to Japan and intentionally walked into the path of a human Mack truck, but Lorenzo Neal – in case you didn’t know – isn’t just any NFL legend.

During his career at Fresno State in the early 1990s, he was an All-Big West running back as well as an All-American wrestler. At one point he ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Naturally then, the sport of sumo wrestling intrigued Neal as collegian during a trip to Japan for a now-defunct football bowl. He wondered how his skills stacked up against those who outweighed him by 100-200 pounds. And then Neal went beyond wondering, as he recounted to Fox Sports journalist LaDainian Tomlinson:

I was wrapped in a fabric thong and spun around. (It was pretty interesting!) I was given a nice tug (on the loin cloth) before stepping into the ring and thought to myself, “OK, I don’t know if I want to be out here (for very) long.”

I went through three wrestlers and then faced the big boy, Akebono. (Akebono was the sumo champion at the time.) It wasn’t fun and it didn’t go well. Akebono hit me a couple of times in the throat, so I quickly jumped out of the ring and stated that I would stick to playing football.

Not a bad decision. After focusing on football and establishing himself as a premier fullback in his 17-year NFL career, Neal no longer competitively wrestles. But although he doesn’t hit the mat like he did back in the day, he still sometimes finds himself in unique positions.

To wit, the below email sent from California’s central valley, where so many Arkies and Okies migrated looking for a land of plenty amid the ravages of the Great Depression. Even today, parts of that land are still as fertile as any in the world. From it flows forth a cornucopia of fine foods, wines, services, cabo timeshares, Botox units and muscular former Chargers.

Item No. 7 below is proof:

September 29, 2014

Bronco Buster News:
Stampede Promises
Great Time, Ya’ll!

It’s a Stampede!

The Bronco Stampede is stompin’ through this Saturday night (starting at 5:30pm) and have we got a round up of great items in store for you!

From a gorgeous Dessert Sale to a Silent Auction with one-of-a-kind items, this is the best bronco bustin’ event the Stampede has ever seen: don’t miss dancing, dining and drinks under the stars at beautiful Panoche Creek River Ranch.

If you haven’t purchased your tickets, there’s still time. They are $40 until today at midnight, but prices go up to $45 through Saturday. Click here for all the info and to buy them now.

Lasso a Dream – 
Preview Live Auction Items Now!

The Bronco Foundation and our generous donors have lassoed up fun and unique items for the Live Auction! Starting at 7:30pm, bid high to benefit our Broncos and win these fabulous donated items:

1   One CIF Sports Pass: includes entry for two into any high school sporting event in California through June 2015 (excluding play-off games).

2    California Wine Locker with beautiful wine barrel Lazy Susan

3    Beer Bash in Your Backyard: A beer Kegerator and Keg of Tioga Sequoia craft beer

4    Steak Lover’s Dream: Half a Side of Organic Beef – butchered to your specifications

5    Stunning Square Shaped Diamond Earrings: 1.0 carat weight of diamonds

6    Exclusive CNEC 2015 Graduation Package: Reserved front row seating for 8 with 2 reserved parking spots

7    Priceless Football Weekend for 4 with Lorenzo Neal and the San Diego Chargers: watch Saturday’s pre-game practice, tour the locker room. and take pictures with your favorite Chargers.  Receive executive parking pass for Sunday, attend the Chargers’ executive tailgate with Lorenzo Neal, and then go into the game -November 23 vs. the Rams.

8    9′ by 12′ All-Steel Shed: features roll-up door and fiberglass skylights with free delivery (within reason) on October 6, 2014

9    Private Plane One-Day Adventure for up to 6 people

10    Shopping Spree Weekend: Two nights at the San Francisco Fairmont Heritage Place and a $500 Visa gift card

Please visit our Foundation webpage for more details about each item.

If you can’t make it to the event but still want to bid, we can provide you with a proxy bidder.  Contact us at broncofoundation@gmail.com to make arrangements. 

Thanks to all our Sponsors!

AOS -

Automated Office Systems

Kathleen L. Behr, M.D.

Boman & Associates Insurance Agency

Borga Steel Buildings & Components

Caglia Environmental

California Industrial Rubber Company, Inc./The Brust Family

Catalyst Marketing Company

Central Valley Labels

Donaghy Sales

LinkUs Corporation

Panoche Creek Packing

Sam’s Italian Deli and Market

SunPower by Quality Home Services

Silent Auction
Highlights!

Don’t miss our many spectacular silent auction items!  Some highlights:
*  Eat Street Bistro foodtruck catered dinner for 40   
*  Hell’s Kitchen:  VIP seating for 4 to a Hell’s Kitchen dinner service taping and VIP lounge access
*  Lasik Surgery: 
performed at Eye-Q

*  Oahu, Hawaii Timeshare Week:  2 bedroom, 14th floor penthouse beach villa at Ko Olina Villas Resort

* Cabo Timeshare Week:  Luxury suite at Pueblo Bonito Rose Resort and Spa
*  24 Harris Ranch Tri-tip roasts
 

*  Weekend stay at a cabin in Shaver

*  UFC Fight Tickets
 
*  50 units of Botox: from Dr. Kathleen Behr
*  Weekend stay at a condo in San Simeon, CA
 
*  Fine wines:  an unbelievable collection at our wine auction

Arkansan Mike Dunaway, Whom Greg Norman Called World’s Longest Driver, Dies

Mike-Dunaway-Golf-Magazine-Covers

Dunaway was the first professional long driver to   grace the cover of Golf magazine

It was in 1985 that Conway native Mike Dunaway announced himself to the world as not only one its most powerful drivers, but possibly golf’s savviest self promoter. On the cover of Golf, the former UCA linebacker stood atop a mound of money and boasted that he would pay anyone who could drive a golf ball farther than he could, that person could take the entire $10,000 beneath his feet.

“One soul stepped up to the tee, was thrashed, and the magazine bested its previous single-issue sales record,” the  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Bobby Ampezzan wrote in 2009. That exposure and success propelled Dunaway, who died Monday at age 59 in Rogers, into becoming a one-man marketing hurricane in the niche sport of long driving, in which the act of hitting as much hell out of a ball as is physically possible with a piece of graphite becomes something like science.

“Long driving back then, you kind of got your name out there from folklore,” Dunaway told Ampezzan. “I mean, I’d do exhibitions, and I would hit the ball farther than anybody. But then if I came back in five or six years, to hear people talk about the distance, it would take two shots to match it — with an air cannon! Folklore and bar talk. But that’s all fishing was until they started those $1 million bass tournaments.”

Over the decades, Dunaway penned numerous instructional articles and appeared in videos touting his technique. In the 1990s, he hosted the TV show “Golfing Arkansas” and appeared at events with 1991 PGA champion and fellow Arkansan John Daly. PGA Tour great Greg Norman said of Dunaway: “This is the longest driver in the world,” according to a 1991 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article.

For Dunaway, the notion “Drive for show, putt for dough” did not apply. For years, he used a pure technique honed at the feet of the sport’s Yoda and a powerful 5-11, 245-pound frame to make a living from whacking living daylight out of pebbled sphere. In the early 1990s, he won a $25,000 distance shootout in Texas and $40,000 from the world’s richest long-drive contest in Japan. His longest drive in competition was a 389-yarder in Utah.

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Bret Bielema Embraces the Gecko, Breaks with All Kinds of Convention

Think the modern big time college football coach is entirely beholden to the corporate powers backing him? You best think again.

Think modern big time college football coaches are entirely beholden to the corporate powers backing him? You best think again.

For someone hailing from the breadbasket of America, Illinois native Bret Bielema sure knows how to cut against the grain.  The second-year Arkansas head football coach has most famously eschewed the up-tempo philosophy adopted by so many of his peers to build a fearsome, old-school running game that has transformed the Razorbacks into the nation’s best slow-down* offense, and sixth-best overall.

The question of how good 3-1 Arkansas really is will be answered this Saturday when Hogs, who have cracked CBS Sports’ Top 25, take on undefeated, No. 4 Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas. Buoyed by an unexpectedly strong defense, the Aggies have crushed each of their four opponents including South Carolina on the road. In his third season at Texas A&M, head coach Kevin Sumlin has his up-tempo Aggies clicking on all cylinders, churning out 612.5 yards a game under the direction of quarterback Kenny Hill, as surprising an Heisman Trophy candidate now as Johnny Manziel was almost two years ago.

Arkansas is a 9 point underdog but whether it wins or loses on Saturday, one thing’s for sure: Bielema’s not changing tact any time soon. He’s not falling in line with the Malzahn and Sumlin-ites around him. Indeed, sometimes he’s contrarian without even intending to be. For evidence, look no farther than his post-game press conference after Arkansas’ 52-14 decimation of Northern Illinois last weekend.

In it, Bielema’s does his thing, talking in rapid fire fashion and making reporters chuckle with quick asides, when he starts praising his team’s special teams effort. He lauds kickoff specialist Adam McFain, an unrecruited walk on who’s on the brink of also becoming Arkansas’ long-range field goal kicker. Then, with the signage of Razorback athletics sponsor Farm Bureau Insurance behind him as usual, he describes a couple defensive special teams formations unveiled against the Huskies because “we knew they would take some chances in the kicking game.”

The first is “a punt safe look” he tells the reporters is called “Allstate.” As in Allstate Insurance Company.

Then, with that Farm Bureau signage still behind him, he praises freshman cornerback Henre’ Tolliver for making a clutch tackle of Northern Illinois’ quarterback on a 4th-down running attempt. So what was the defensive formation called on that play?

Geico. Yet another insurance company not named Farm Bureau.

geico

The Hogs used this "Geico" formation to stymie Northern Illinois' fake punt kick attempt.

This Geico formation insures against fake punt success.

Bielema and his staff could have easily labeled one of their formations “Farm Bureau,” but I find the fact they didn’t to be marginally refreshing. Major college football is such big money these days, with so many corporate ties, it’s nice to see that the names of coaches’ plays and formations don’t have sponsorship tie-ins.

Not yet, at least.  As long-time Arkansas sportswriter Nate Allen noted, Razorback athletics have “operated in increasingly corporate fashion since 2008 when Jeff Long replaced longtime athletic director Frank Broyles.” Indeed, the University of Arkansas recently trademarked the “Hog Call,” its sports teams’ nearly century-old cheer.

Such revenue pursuit, of course, follows in line with other major college football programs because every other school – especially in the brutal SEC West – is pouring more and more tens of millions of dollars into its most lucrative sport. But the business logic is sound: With enough winning, those tens of millions of investment can lead to tens of millions of profit. That’s why Texas A&M looms as a pivotal game for a rising Arkansas program. Bielema knows, too. He said last weekend his players have shown “a certain mentality and attitude that has not been here since I’ve been here.”

If that translates into the Hogs’ winning on Saturday by slowing the nation’s most deadly offense**, and in the process shocking pundits around the nations – then the players’ deeds will match their already sky high confidence.  And, so long as SEC wins result, Arkansas’ corporate sponsors should hardly care what’s written on the pages of a playbook.


*Arkansas ranks as far and away the nation’s most deadly methodical offense (which takes into account the team’s % of drives with at least 10 plays), according to the number crunchers at Football Outsiders.

** Texas A&M has the nation’s most efficient offense, when measuring ” its actual drive success against expected drive success based on field position.”

Via Football Outsiders

Want to know what the hell the above abbreviations mean? Here’s some light shed, thanks to Football Outsiders:

  • OFEI: Offensive FEI, the opponent-adjusted efficiency of the given team’s offense.
  • OE: Offensive Efficiency, the raw unadjusted efficiency of the given team’s offense, a measure of its actual drive success against expected drive success based on field position.
  • Ex: Explosive Drives, the percentage of each offense’s drives that average at least 10 yards per play.
  • Me: Methodical Drives, the percentage of each offense’s drives that run 10 or more plays

N.B.  You’ll notice above Arkansas’ record is 2-1, not 3-1. That’s because stats from Arkansas 73-7 win over FCS foe Nicholls State don’t count here.  The numbers above are filtered to eliminate games against FCS opponents, first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores.


Promising time for Arkansas, from ground (game) level to 36,000 feet

Evin Demirel:

Nice quick preview below for the Arkansas-Texas A&M by Little Rock native George Schroeder. For a much more technical, detailed preview (from the Aggies’ perspective) see the following: http://tamu.247sports.com/Article/Texas-AM-Arkansas-Myles-Garrett-Kenny-Hill-Trey-Williams-31403224

Originally posted on USA TODAY Sports:

Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema celebrates after a score with offensive lineman Denver Kirkland. (Nelson Chenault / USA TODAY Sports)

Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema celebrates after a score with offensive lineman Denver Kirkland. (Nelson Chenault / USA TODAY Sports)

At Arkansas, the offensive linemen always fly first class. Literally. It’s Bret Bielema’s way of recognizing the efforts of the guys who power his smashmouth attack by giving them the best seats – and the biggest, too – right up front, on team charters.

“It’s huge,” says Brey Cook, the Razorbacks’ senior right tackle, and he means it literally, too. “Those airplanes are tiny. Road trips can be miserable. First class is great. You get to spread out and relax.”

In other words, it’s Hog heaven.

But the best reward for the biggest guys might have come in the past few weeks. After hammering away for a long time with little to show for it, the Razorbacks have finally broken though, ending a 10-game losing streak – the longest…

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