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Jaguars Need Clemmons at OTA's

May 29, 2015 -- 9:32am

Chris Clemmons had every right to skip the Jaguars voluntary mini-camp.

I know that’s been his history dating back to his days in Seattle so it certainly isn’t a surprise. I believe him when he says he works hard during the offseason to stay in top physical shape.

I also know the NFL is a hard line business. There’s not much sentiment on either side – management and player – when it comes to cutting players and players jumping teams for more money.

Still, I don’t like the fact Clemmons wasn’t with his team this week. If he is, indeed, a leader among the Jaguars then he should have been with his teammates.

Whether his absence has any negative impact is difficult to gauge. I just know the margin of error for Jaguars is miniscule when it comes to them showing big improvement.

The Jaguars aren’t talented enough to overcome the smallest hiccup.

If the Jaguars are to play at a .500 level, a lot of good things must happen.

Offensively, quarterback Blake Bortles has to show significant improvement. Free agent tight end Justin Thomas has to be a force. Someone must emerge as a major star among the second-year wide receivers. Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon has to approach 1,000 yards rushing. Left tackle Luke Joeckel has to be a lot better. Free agent right tackle Jeremy Parnell has to be as good as the Jaguars think he is.

Defensively, the Jaguars have to create more turnovers. Sacks and interception numbers have to go up.

And, of course, they must avoid crippling injuries. That’s true to some degree for all teams, but more so for the depth-deprived Jaguars than the vast majority of teams.

Clemmons has been in the NFL long enough to know how fragile the Jaguars are. That’s why the veteran defensive end should have been with his team this week.  

Kids Don't Belong in Press Conferences

May 27, 2015 -- 9:41am

I’m a fraud. 

For more than 50 years I’ve been telling my readers, listeners and viewers that I told you exactly how I felt; that I had no agenda; that I told you how it is and how it should be.

But something happened recently that fired me up but I kept my mouth shut because . . . well, I didn’t think it would be a well received rant.

It has taken me a week to make this confession. It isn’t easy telling the world you’re a coward.

But no more. The real Lamm returns.

After game one of the NBA Western Conference championship series, star Steph Curry took his 2-year-old daughter Riley to the post-game press conference. While he was trying to answer questions, Riley stole the show, doing the kind of cute little things 2-year-olds do and making 2-year-old noises.

From what I could tell everyone thought it was adorable.

It may have been adorable but it was also rude and disrespectful.   

There, I said it. It feels great.

The post-game press conference is a working place. Reporters are fighting deadlines. Kids don’t belong there any more than they belong on the bench with their dads.

Curry isn’t the first athlete to take their kid(s) to a press conference. In fact, it’s a fairly common practice that should stop.

Sadly, I think many athletes show off their kids on such occasions to help their images. (Hey, look at me, the great daddy, the great family man.)

The athletes will tell you they want to share these moments with their kids. The ones who mean it skip the post-game celebration with their teammates and buddies at their favorite watering hole (which probably has a dancing pole) and celebrate with their families.

They like to talk about how difficult it is spending so much time away from their kids. The truth is most athletes have more opportunity to be with their kids than the average working man or woman. For one thing, athletes have long off-seasons. Do you?

I know plenty of sports writers who spend most weekends year-round on the road. (I used to be one.) But I’ve never known one who took his 2-year-old to a press conference.

Golf Will Survive Post-Tiger Era

May 26, 2015 -- 10:06am

Tiger Woods lifted golf to new heights in popularity, but nothing lasts forever. When his body and life – and, as a result, his game – started falling apart in ’08, golf took a punch where it hurts the most, in the pocketbook.

The worry lines on the faces of those who make a living out of the PGA Tour, however, are beginning to disappear. While no one expects golf to return to where it stood when Tiger was at his dominating, record-shattering best, there are positive signs that pro golf is going to be just fine.

Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth – and even a few others such as Bubba Watson and Ricky Fowler – are attracting the attention of sports fans, not just golf fans. They have the TV numbers, ticket sales and corporate sponsorships headed in the right direction.

Tiger’s greatness is missed, but not nearly as much as many feared.

I do realize, of course, that those who are familiar with my work probably question my perspective on this subject. I’m not your typical sports fan, placing baseball and golf at the top of my favorite sports list. Yeah, it’s fair to say I’m a golf nut.

But I recognize little tell-tell signs that convince me Rory and Jordan have crossed the line, joining the ranks of athlete-celebrity.

What s an athlete-celebrity? How they perform is often bigger news than the final result.

Example: LeBron scores 45 points, grabs 18 rebounds; Cavaliers win.

Example: Tiger shoots 74; three tied for 36-hole lead.

Example: Trout strikes out five times; Angels win.

Example: Peyton throws for 500 yards and four TDs but Broncos lose shootout.

I do find myself going through the golf scores looking to see what McIlroy and Spieth shot before checking out whose leading. That was the first sign they’d crossed the line from golfer to athlete-celebrity. Over the years I’ve done the same thing with Tiger, John Daly and Arnold Palmer.

It may not be scientific, but it’s enough to convince me pro golf is going to survive the post-Tiger era.

What Happened to the Indy 500?

May 22, 2015 -- 9:33am

Heading: Indy 500 no longer a big deal . . .

Remember when the Indianapolis 500 was a really big deal?

There was a time when the Indy 500 winner, like the heavyweight boxing champion, was one of America’s biggest and best known sports heroes.

The names Foyt, Andretti and Unser were as familiar to sports fans as Mantle, Koufax and Rose; Brown, Butkus and Sayers; Palmer, Nicklaus and Player.

But that was before cell phones and the internet; before smoking was considered a crime; before political correctness; before SUVs and Bluetooth.

Those days are long gone, as is the popularity of IndyCar racing. NASCAR became America’s choice when it came to car racing for a lot of reasons. It was more competitive, less expensive and more American.

And more organized. While NASCAR boomed, the people who ran IndyCar racing bickered, eventually dividing into two racing organizations that hardly anyone follows or cares about.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was once filled with nearly 200,000 fans for weekend qualifying sessions. Last weekend’s qualifying runs attracted a few thousand.

Once it was considered an accomplishment simply to make the race. This year there weren’t enough entrants for a full field. Most sports fans would be hard pressed to name a more than a couple of the drivers.

The Indy 500 is still a big one-day event. About 300,000 people will pack the stands. The TV numbers will be good. But that’s it, one day. The big build up to the race is history. The post-race celebration ends shortly after the checkered flag is waved.

Where once the Indy 500 was a major happening on the American sports calendar, it’s now merely a blip on the radar.

Everett Golson Worth the Risk for FSU

May 20, 2015 -- 9:40am

The tale of two new leaders . . .

  • FSU fans should be excited but cautious about the “recruitment” of quarterback Everett Golson.

At Notre Dame Golson proved when he’s good he’s very good. He also proved that when he’s bad he’s a turnover machine.

Overall, it appears to be a good catch for the Noles. FSU was headed into the 2015 season with lightly-regarded and inexperienced veteran and a bunch of highly-touted freshmen at the QB position. Golson immediately becomes the odds-on favorite to win the starting job and keep FSU among the college football elite.

Coach Jimbo Fisher couldn’t have been excited about the possibility of starting Sean Maguire or a freshman behind a totally rebuilt offensive line. Golson should make life easier and more successful for the group of talented but inexperienced linemen. Plus, he gives the freshmen QBs time to learn, develop and separate themselves.

The key to success for FSU is for Golson is to fit in, not try and to be another Jameis Winston.

  • I’ve always maintained that of all the so-called important jobs in big-time professional sports the least important was being a Major League Baseball manager.

I’m not about to change my mind now.

Obviously some managers are better than others and the best of the bunch do make a difference – albeit a small difference. It comes down to being a leader of men and everything that entails, but little else.

I bring this up again because of Marlins’ hiring of Dan Jennings as their new manager. Jennings’ credentials as a MLB manager are he once coached high school baseball in Mobile.

Oh, Jennings knows baseball. He is the Marlins general manager and he was a hall of fame-caliber scout. But he hasn’t worked out of a dugout since those days in Mobile and playing briefly in the minors.

How he fares as a big league manager will depend a lot more of how well Giancarlo Stanton hits than any strategic moves he makes.

With the hiring of Jennings I rest my case.

Gus Bradley Remains as Popular as Ever

May 18, 2015 -- 11:31am

The two sides of popularity . . .

  • A person can’t change his personality and those who try are quickly spotted as phonies. But I’d advise every coach and aspiring coach to do their best to mimic the strengths of Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley.

In spite of a 7-25 record and no tangible proof the team is improving, Bradley’s popularity is incredible. The reasons are simple. He’s consistently upbeat and accessible. The media love him. The fans love him.

I’m not saying Bradley is a bad coach. There’s no question he started his head coaching career with a bad hand. The Jaguars’ 2013 roster was among the worst I’ve ever seen.

Of course I’m not saying he’s a good coach either. For one thing, too many times apparent halftime adjustments by opponents have turned close games into blowout losses for the Jaguars.

Personality can only take a coach so far. But is an age where patience has been replaced instant gratification Bradley is ahead of the game.

Others coach would be wise to follow his lead.

  • I’ll shed no tears when Tampa Bay loses its Major League Baseball franchise. It doesn’t deserve a Major League team.

Ah, you didn’t know the Rays were moving, did you? Well, it’s not a done deal and there hasn’t been that much talk about it, but behind closed doors there’s some serious discussion about the Rays moving to Montreal.

I never have understood why the Rays get so little fan support. The area is a hotbed for youth baseball and spring training. The Rays have been a competitive team most years despite being a small payroll franchise.

The most popular excuses for the lack of fan support are Tropicana Park is a bad park and it’s located in St. Petersburg, not Tampa. A don’t agree with the first (Tropicana isn’t Wrigley Field but its okay) and the second is just that, an excuse.

Me and about 10,000 loyal Rays fans will be the only ones sorry to see the Rays leave town.

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