Friday, February 12, 2016

Facing The Music: On The Sorry Story Of Disgraced Winger Adam Johnson



The trappings of modern day footballers is immense, rich, privileged and publicized. As a professional athlete earning millions of pounds, euros, dollars from endorsement, anything that you do will be magnified by the media, and if you overstep your boundaries, you risk losing it all. 

In England, one classic example of a player's fall from grace is winger Adam Johnson, whose despicable indiscretions will forever alter the lives of many. Before that, Johnson had a lengthy football career that started in 1995 and included stints at Newcastle United, Middlesborough, Leeds United, Watford, Manchester City, and most recently, Sunderland, where he scored 19 goals in 109 appearances.

Johnson already has a partner and a daughter, who was born more than a year ago, in January of 2015. However, his life changed for the worse on Mar. 2 of that year, when he was arrested by Durham Police on suspicion on having sexual activity with an underage girl, 15 at the time. Just this week, he plead guilty to "one count of sexual activity with a child and one count of grooming."

Immediately, Sunderland terminated his contract and Adidas terminated his deal with him. The Daily Mail, which also described the events leading up to the sacking. wrote this of Johnson's plight.
Sunderland had not expected the guilty pleas, they had not even suspected them. They had, with good intentions, supported their employee, a man who protested his innocence. But now he had pleaded guilty. Guilty of child-sex offences.

The club did not comment on the stunning development to begin with, other than to say they had backtracked on their initial decision to allow Johnson to remain part of the first-team squad during his trial.


But then, at 7pm on Thursday, Sportsmail broke the news that Johnson - whose contract was set to expire in the summer - had been sacked. A club statement followed within half an hour, confirming that his contract had been terminated with immediate effect in light of the guilty pleas.


Some will argue they had no choice - except they did. The Premier League leaves to the discretion of the football club as to whether a player guilty of child-sex offences is allowed to play. Sunderland decided that Johnson should not and acted swiftly.


So what next for Johnson? For now, he cannot look beyond the next 10 days or so, a period in which he will be tried in front of a jury on two further counts of sexual activity with a child, both involving penetration. He denies the charges. On a football pitch, however, there is no denying that his future is in serious doubt.



Disgraced players have time to turn their life and fortunes around. Many have failed, others have succeeded. In the case of Johnson, he now reaches a personal crossroads, and a heavy cross to bear as a result of his own personal hubris. At age 28, Adam Johnson will have plenty of time in solitary confinement to think and change how he views the world around him when his sentence is completed.

Without question, he is currently despised in many footballing circles in and out of Britain. He has let his partner down. He has let his daughter down. He has let his many fans from his numerous clubs down and he has let the sport down. He is not alone, as other players in the the NFL, NBA and soccer have come under similar charges.


In these challenging times that await Adam Johnson, a lot will need to be asked of him. Weekly and monthly counseling sessions with experts specializing in family therapy and pedophilia await. A reaffirmed commitment to securing the happiness of his partner and daughter, and the solidarity of his community is on the cards. Finally an open desire to be an advocate of the sport and be a role model outside of sport may win back the support he has lost. A monumental task as it will be a major uphill battle, but it won't be an impossible climb.


You see, fallen stars whose backs are clearly against the wall rise up, kick back at the darkness until it bleeds daylight, and redeem themselves courageously in and out of their sport. So a new life journey will await this fallen star, one that many (or few) hope will rise again just like his star role when he was a shining star playing for Sunderland and the Three Lions once upon a time.

A subtle reminder: be sure to visit The Stoppage Time, powered by Azteca Soccer, for more Premier League news. Stay connected on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Los Angeles Rams 2016 Dates

Here are key dates on the NFL calendar for the Los Angeles Rams.
Feb. 7: Super Bowl 50
Feb. 8: Waiver system begins for 2016
Feb. 13: Regional combines, Houston Texans Methodist Training Facility, Houston, Texas
Feb. 16: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players
Feb. 23-29: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
March 1: Prior to 4 p.m., Eastern time, deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players
March 5: NFL Regional Combines, Minnesota Vikings Training Facility Max Winter Park, Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
March 7-9: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2015 Player Contracts at 4 p.m., Eastern time, on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m., Easter time, on March 9.
• Prior to 4 p.m., Eastern time, clubs must exercise options for 2016 on all players who have option clauses in their 2015 contracts.
• Prior to 4 p.m., Eastern time, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
• Prior to 4 p.m., Eastern time, clubs must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2015 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
• Top-51 Begins. All clubs must be under the 2016 salary cap prior to 4 p.m., Eastern time.
• All 2015 player contracts expire at 4 p.m., Eastern time.
• The 2016 league year and free agency period begins at 4 p.m., Eastern time.
• Trading period for 2016 begins at 4 p.m., Eastern time, after expiration of all 2015 contracts.
Annual Meeting, Boca Raton, Florida.
April 4: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2015 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
April 18: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 22: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
April 28-30: 2016 NFL Draft, Chicago, Illinois.
April 30: After the final selection in the Draft has been made, clubs may begin signing Undrafted Free Agents who were eligible for the 2016 Draft.
May 6-: First weekend after the NFL Draft: clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
May 9: Rookie Football Development Program Begins.
May 13-16: Second weekend after the NFL Draft: clubs may elect to hold their one three-day post-draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
May 19-22: NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Invited Rookies (typically, first and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.
May 23-25: NFL Spring League Meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina.
June 1: Deadline for prior club to send “June 1 Tender” to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents who received a qualifying offer for a Right of First Refusal Only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA’s “June 15 Tender” provision.
June 2: For any player removed from the club’s roster or whose contract is assigned via waivers or trade on or after June 2, any unamortized signing bonus amounts for future years will be included fully in Team Salary at the start of the 2017 League Year.
June 15: Deadline for club to withdraw qualifying offer to Restricted Free Agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting “June 15 Tender” of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player’s prior-year Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
June 19-25: Rookie Symposium, Aurora, Ohio.
July 15: At 4 p.m., Eastern time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2016 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.
• Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
• Veteran players (defined as a player with at least one pension-credited season) other than quarterbacks or “injured players” (as defined in CBA Article 21, Section 6) may report to a club’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
• Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all rookies and first-year players.
• A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a Club’s roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who join the roster after that date may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.
July 22: Signing Period ends for unrestricted Free Agents to whom a “May 10 Tender” was made by prior club. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
July 22: Signing Period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights.
Aug. 11: First preseason games
Sept. 11: First regular season game
Final preseason and regular season dates and opponents to be announced in April
Oct. 23: Los Angeles Rams vs. New York Giants, Twickenham Stadium, London, UK

Peyton Manning: Is He Done!?



SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- If Peyton Manning is going to walk off into the sunset following the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl 50 victory, the decision will take a backseat to celebration.

Manning was noncommittal regarding his future plans in a post-game interview with CBS' Tracy Wolfson.

"I'll take some time to reflect. I got a couple priorities first," Manning said. "I'm going to go kiss my wife and kids. I want to hug my family. I'm going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, Tracy, I promise you that. I'm going to take care of those things first. Definitely got to say a little prayer to thank the man upstairs for this great opportunity. I'm just very grateful."

Manning later told CBS' Jim Nantz that is heeding the advice of former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, who cautioned against making an emotional decision in the heat of the moment.

Few Hall of Fame quarterbacks are fortunate enough to go out on top. Manning has an opportunity to join Broncos general manager John Elway as the only members of that exclusive club after a unique 2015 season which saw the 39-year-old quarterback transition from perennial MVP candidate to fading liability to injured backup and, finally, to postseason game manager.

The Super Bowl 50 victory gives Manning a winning postseason record (14-13) and a pair of Lombardi Trophies. He joined Norm Van Brocklin as the only quarterbacks to win NFL championships with two different organizations. Van Brocklin was the original Elway, retiring after his 1960 title with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's just awesome because he was on a team that could help him get a win," coach Gary Kubiak said after the game. "He didn't have to go out there and do it all on his own and he knew that. I told him that I watched John Elway win a championship with 120-something yards passing, and he got one today with about a 100 and something yards, too. I'm just so proud of him."

Few qualities trump perseverance in professional football.

Only one of 32 teams can win the Super Bowl, which means each year ends in disappointment for 97 percent of the NFL's players, coaches and front office executives. The game itself batters and bloodies its combatants, shortening their seasons as well as their careers.

Two months ago, all signs pointed to an ignominious end for Manning. Instead, he persevered in the face of a nagging plantar fascia tear and the embarrassment of being unceremoniously demoted for the first time in his legendary career.

Manning knows it took a fluky C.J. Anderson fumble to unseat Brock Osweiler in the regular-season finale. He understands the Broncos' 194 yards of offense on Sunday were easily the fewest ever by a Super Bowl winner. He might be holding out faint hope for the fountain of youth, but he still realizes his battle-worn body was a liability in converting just one of 13 third downs versus the Panthers.

Through all of that adversity, he can find satisfaction in avoiding back-breaking mistakes while watching two of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks implode in the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.

Manning famously carried a team with one of the worst defenses in football to a Super Bowl XLI Colts victory. Surely he can relish the fairytale ending of hitching his wagon to a star-studded defense in the final act of a storied career.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Denver Broncos: Super Bowl 50 Champions



SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Denver Broncos authored one of the greatest defensive performances in Super Bowl 50, helping Peyton Manning write one of the game's most improbable stories in the process.

The Broncos are Super Bowl champions for a third time after dismantling the Panthers 24-10 inside a raucous Levi's Stadium. It was only fitting that the game's decisive moment was made by Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Miller was named Super Bowl 50 MVP.

Late in the fourth quarter in a one score game, Miller fought off Panthers tackle Mike Remmer's initial block, dipped his shoulder, kept his balance and reach his long left arm at Cam Newton. The ensuing fumble was Carolina's fourth of the day and fourth turnover overall. Like the high-powered Steelers and Patriots offenses before them, the Panthers' offense had no answers for this incredible Broncos group.

Peyton Manning said after the game that he will "take time to reflect" before announcing any potential retirement, but every sign points to this being Manning's final game. After coming up short so often in the playoffs with high-powered offenses, it will be hard for Manning to resist riding off into the sunset on the back of this Broncos defense.

"I'll take some time to reflect. I got a couple priorities first" Manning told CBS' Tracy Wolfson after the game. "I'm going to go kiss my wife and kids. I want hug my family. I'm going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, Tracy, I promise you that. I'm going to take care of those things first. Definitely got to say a little prayer to thank the man upstairs for this great opportunity. I'm just very grateful."

Manning knows that defenses like this don't come around often. They hit Cam Newton 13 times and sacked him seven more. The Panthers' high-powered offense kept getting chances in the second half, but Denver's defense kept stuffing them. Denver's special teams and defense essentially out-scored the Panthers on their own, setting the Broncos up for 17 points.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lucky Pouches? No Problem, Been There, Won That.



I didn't get stiffed by the 2015 Lucky Pouches this weekend on Pangya Global. Decided to buy five pouches and ended up winning my first set of Elemental Ears and a bath towel set for Spika. Yay, so now Spike can finally golf barefoot on my main account! She joins Kooh and Nell as the golfers who can golf in the game with no shoes or socks on. If only Madoka can join them as well. Combine with winning three other rare items off Premium Memorial Coins, I went 5/8 this weekend, which is pretty good given how much I get nerfed by Pangya's RNG.



I've gotten some nasty complaints about the RNG and it's amusing at times to read the feedback. Here's one you'll like.

---

Hello,

first: sorry about my english, it isn't that good, i hope you understand.

i am really, really, really mad at this game. i am so mad, i think about quitting forever. seriously.

this day i spend 50 (FIFTY!!!!) euro for premium memorial coins and lucky pouches.

i had 19(!!!) premium memorial coins and 6 lucky pouches.

what i won? i guess it was 1 set. ONE. ONE DARN SET! out of 19 PREMIUM(!!!!!!!) memorial coins!!

are you kidding me pangya?! seriously! 50 DARN EURO FOR ONE SET!??!?!

btw i got NOTHING in my 6 lucky pouches!

really, i feel fooled. i feel Pang!, Pang! FOOLED!

i will never again spend ONE darn euro in this game!

thanks for NOTHING!

---


You know, some players have won nothing from their run of pouches. So the fact that I had won something from these pouches means that it was money well spent. Oh yes, and did I mention that I finally got that Band Set (H) from the Opened Spinning Cubes? Hair looks great with a swimsuit. Reminds me of Juri from Aikatsu or something.




Up next, I think, should be another character Grand Prix event, or the Valentine's Day promotion. I may consider keeping some cash to buy my alternate account some chocolate boxes to accelerate the training of the caddies and get them to Level 4. Alternatively, I hope they bring back the Choco Sticks for this one. I never got a Choco Stick because I wasn't playing the game the last time they had it, so bringing this back would be fantastic.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Op-Ed: An Open Letter To Central Coast Mariners Membership

Dear Central Coast Mariners Membership:

The Webster's Dictionary defines the term "petulance" as "the quality of being childishly sulky or bad-tempered." Such is the case of all of you as a supporter group. Now, this past weekend, Mark Rudan, who I have respect for as a broadcaster and expert on the game of soccer in Australia, is, to put in vulgar terms, "taking the piss" for a hot take on the sending off of Nick Montgomery during the Western Sydney Wanderers' 2-1 win over your side. The Telegraph had this to write on the matter...

THE sending off of Mariners captain Nick Montgomery has sparked an angry row between the Central Coast and A-League broadcasters Fox Sports, with the club making a formal complaint about comments made in the wake of Saturday’s defeat to Western Sydney.

Montgomery was dismissed late in the game for an ugly, studs-up tackle on Wanderers winger Golgol Mebrahtu, a challenge described as a “terrible tackle” by Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic after the game.

Though Mebrahtu wasn’t badly injured, Fox analyst Mark Rudan said during the post-game broadcast that it was “about as bad a tackle as you will see, especially against a fellow professional who’s just come back from a long-term injury”.

Asked on air if Montgomery would know about Mebrahtu’s injury history, Rudan replied: “Absolutely he would.”

So, here is the response from you, and I quote...

On behalf of our Members, players and staff the Central Coast Mariners have today issued a formal complaint to Fox Sports Australia and Football Federation Australia in regards to inappropriate comments against our Club and players following our most recent match against Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Mariners have been inundated with Members expressing their concerns and demanding that the Club takes appropriate steps to ensure that the integrity of the Mariners and its players are protected against unwarranted and totally unfounded comments.

This was also raised officially by the Club’s supporter groups who recently held meetings with Mariners Chairman, Mike Charlesworth.

The Mariners will be updating our Members on any formal response we receive from Fox Sports Australia or Football Federation Australia on the matter.

Any Member wishing to express their views are encouraged to contact the club via email on memberships@ccmariners.com.au so we can contact you directly to discuss your concerns.

Here's my thoughts on this: Mark Rudan's hot take on Montgomery's tackle on Mebrahtu is the last thing you should worry about, Central Coast. You mates are at the bottom of the A-League ladder, facing a Wellington Phoenix team that is desperate to stay in the race for Finals Series football. I strongly recommend you focus on this week's match and leave Mark Rudan out of this.

Mark Rudan is not Rebecca Wilson, a journalist that I personally give you clearance to go after. This petulance from you and the entire Mariners organization is wasted energy that will diminish you as a relevant organization in the country going forward. This is where you should just let the media do their job because in this instance, they aren't going after you. They're going after a harsh challenge that resulted in a well-deserved red card. In short, a football play.

So, drop your complaints, on behalf of The Stoppage Time, Central Coast and steady on. Wellington will love a distracted team because that's akin to going upstream on a semi-inflated raft without a paddle. Don't pay the price for your petulance. Worry about the trip to Christchurch, or, quite frankly, dare I say it, you will be feeling the aftershocks of another defeat away all the way from the South Island of New Zealand, to the cozy confines of Gosford. Just so you know...and that, mates, is the bottom line.

Signed,

Jo-Ryan Salazar, columnist, The Stoppage Time.