Tag Archives: NFL

Papa Rocco’s Pizza Rocks Gulf Shores, Alabama

19 Oct

A visit to the coast is not always about seafood. Sometimes you want an inexpensive meal or perhaps you are craving some good Italian food. Such a Sunday afternoon feeling led us to Papa Rocco’s Pizza in Gulf Shores, AL. It’s a short scooter ride from the beach. And, perhaps more importantly, we had heard good things via foodie chat on the web.

There are about 10 flat screen TVs inside Papa Rocco’s and it seemed like each one had a different NFL game on. Tourists decked out in Packers, Colts, Browns, and Rams attire mixed easily with fans of the New Orleans Saints (the closest thing that we have to a home team along the Alabama Coast).

We ended up feeding the family for just over $20 — and the pizza was pretty darn tasty! Ours came with pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers and red onion. To be honest, we could have probably downed a second pie — it was that good. The spaghetti and meatballs also looked very tempting. The meatballs were huge (well, about the size of billiard balls). The service was excellent and the atmosphere comfy. We will surely return. Thanks, Papa! 


Campbell’s Time Running Out?

8 Dec

Redskins Ravens Football

Jason Campbell has now had plenty of time to develop as an NFL QB. How much longer are Redskins fans going to have to wait for him to blossom into the leader we thought he would become. His slow, sleepy demeanor is frankly disturbing to me. Have you ever seen him get fired up? Have you ever seen him clap his hands in an effort to rally his teammates? Have you ever witnessed him admonishing a teammate for a mental lapse? In fact, have you ever observed him (on or off the field) showing any emotion whatsoever? The guy, I’m sorry to say, is a zombie.

This team needs a leader and that leadership is clearly not coming from Campbell nor from the slightly kooky, “hip hip hooray antics” of woefully inexperienced Head Coach Jim Zorn. Daniel Snyder and his cronies have made blunder after blunder in running this team. Deon Sanders, Steve Spurrier … must I continue? Snyder pays far too much to get far too little out of this group of players — and coaches. We need to trade for a QB or start thinking about giving Hawaii’s Colt Brennan a shot behind center. If not, I guess we’re looking at another 10 years of frustration and mediocrity in a football market that deserves far better.

Right now, we’re staring at a possible last place finish in the NFC East and an early end to what started out as a very promising season. Snyder can always go out and buy himself another Bentley to put a smile back on his face this holiday season.  The rest of us in Skins Nation are left holding a big old bag of coal. Bah Humbug, indeed!

Michael Vick Pays The Price

16 Nov


Here’s the latest on Michael Vick — what a waste of talent.

Hope he can straighten himself out and make something positive of his life.

Michael Vick lives in a prison in Kansas, making 12 cents an hour while plotting his return to the NFL. His houses and farms will soon be gone, the two yachts are history, and he’s down to his last couple of Range Rovers.

A race horse he bought for $60,000 died of colic, the Atlanta Falcons are still trying to hit him up for millions they paid him, and the IRS and the state of Georgia want nearly $1 million in back taxes.

In 2006 he made nearly $15 million. Recently he reported total income of $12.89 for an entire month.

That’s $12.89 as in 12 dollars and 89 cents. This from someone who, before things went terribly bad, categorized a $1,000 check to his mother as “chump change.”

The numbers are cold, but they have to warm the heart of any animal lover sickened by what once went on at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels. To many, seeing Vick stripped of the material things he and his fellow millionaire athletes like to enjoy is almost as good as watching him go to prison in the first place. 

Best of all, the dogs who survived the terror of Vick’s dogfighting ring are having the last laugh.

They’re the stars of a recent National Geographic Channel television special. They live in comfort in a Utah ranch, thanks to $928,000 Vick agreed to contribute to finance their care.

And now they have their own wine.

Yes, there’s Meryl, looking anything but ferocious on a bottle of Syrah. And there’s Lewis, peeking out from the front of another Vicktory Dog bottle.

Maybe Vick can pick up a $40 bottle when he gets out of prison next July, assuming things go as planned. If he’s careful about not spending his prison earnings in the commissary, he could be paroled with enough to buy a couple of them.

He shouldn’t drink too much, though. Because he’s still got some football to play.


This is the famous Vick chew toy

Buried in the hundreds of pages of paper detailing Vick’s financial woes the other day in federal bankruptcy court was the declaration that not only does Vick expect to be reinstated in the NFL upon his release but also believes he will “be able to earn a substantial living” playing quarterback once again.

Good luck with that.

Just what team he believes will employ him to do so wasn’t mentioned, but the Falcons are surely out. They severed their ties with the quarterback they once were sure would lead them to a Super Bowl and are now being led by a quarterback who has been so good in his rookie season that he just might.

Vick is supposed to be released July 20, so he could be out just in time for the opening of preseason camps. But how many teams are so desperate for a quarterback that they would risk the ire of PETA-types and other animal activists to sign an ex-con who admitted to doing some heinous things?

The other question is how much would they risk for a quarterback who has a career passing rating of 75.7, fumbles the ball once every 10 times he carries it, and hasn’t played a down in two years. Quarterbacks who could run were once the rage in the NFL, but most teams today look for the traditional pocket passer.

If a team did take a chance on Vick, it would likely be for little or no guaranteed money with incentives kicking in only if he produces—something that can never be certain in the NFL, where injuries and age can quickly take their toll. Even then, Vick won’t keep all his salary because under his bankruptcy plan he must pay part of any future earnings to creditors.

Indeed, Vick’s financial mess is as much a cautionary tale to his fellow athletes as his criminal woes are.

He has assets of $16 million but owes creditors $20.3 million. His attorneys had to hire forensic accountants to find out where the money went, $18 million of it over the last two years alone as Vick bounced from one business deal to another and seemed to hire financial advisers he met standing in line at the supermarket.

Flush with bonus money from the Falcons, Vick bought houses by the handful, invested in a rental car franchise in Atlanta and poured money into a liquor store and restaurant. He hired friends, gave away money and cars, and could never say no to his mother, who got $700 for an Easter Egg hunt one year and $317,000 for a new church building the next.

Now he sits in a prison in Kansas after a staggering and quick fall from the top. Once a favorite of fans who couldn’t buy enough of his No. 7 jerseys he’s now vilified and hated by millions who will never forgive the despicable things he and his buddies did to their dogs.

A comeback is still possible, but my guess is that this story will not end well. Upon his release from prison, the odds are Vick will spend more time dodging creditors than defensive linemen.

The dogs are a different story. Those that survived will live in comfort the rest of their lives.

And for that, we should all raise a glass of Lewis red in celebration.

Insightful Piece On Redskins’ QB

31 Oct


To understand just how Jason Campbell makes it work for the Redskins, we had to reveal his life … in reverse.

by Justin Heckert 

Getty Images

SEPT. 14, 2008
There’s a moment during the game, toward the end, when he throws one of the best passes of his life. Fourth quarter, three minutes 38 seconds remaining against the Saints, Redskins down by two. Jason Campbell takes the snap. All throughout training camp, during avoidance drills, five or six times a day, the 26-year-old quarterback practiced what’s about to happen over the next three seconds. There’s a man in his face, coming at him through the line like a bull. Campbell turns his right shoulder inside, avoids the tackle, takes two quick steps forward and rears his arm backward, his body completely sideways, as hough he’s about to throw a javelin. The ball coasts 60 yards. As Santana Moss pulls it in for a touchdown, Skins coach Jim Zorn thinks to himself, I’ll be darned if it didn’t happen exactly like the drill. Wow.

In Suite 24 at FedExField, Campbell’s mom is jumping up and down, screaming. His father stands too but doesn’t make a sound.

JULY 23, 2008
During the first week of camp, Campbell’s new coach is teaching him how to position himself differently in the pocket—by bending his knees slightly. This will help him make quicker drops in Washington’s new West Coast offense, Zorn explains. But sometimes Campbell’s body posture reverts, and he says, “Durn it, I did it again.” Or: “That just be durned.”

Five months after Joe Gibbs resigns, Jason Campbell has this realization: He’s been in seven different offensive systems in eight years. And as he counts on two hands the names of all his coordinators, it strikes him how ridiculous that is.

DEC. 6, 2007
Campbell is jerked down from behind by a Bears defensive end, and his left knee gives out. As he writhes in pain, his teammates plead with him: “Don’t look!” It is in this moment, on the ground, then on the cart, that he realizes how important it is to take his job completely seriously. Because he doesn’t want it to be over. The next week, he sits at home with a dislocated kneecap, watching the Skins on TV, feeling as lonely as he’s ever been. One month later, he watches helplessly from the sideline as his team is blown out in the playoffs.

SEPT. 17, 2007
It’s Monday Night Football—Campbell’s first start on the NFL’s biggest regular-season stage. In the second quarter, he’s running down the sideline for what he’s sure will be some kind of heroic, 50-yard touchdown. But as he’s about to jump teammate Antwaan Randle El, who’s wrestled his man to the ground downfield, the receiver inexplicably stands up, as though the play were over. Campbell trips over Randle El and falls down with an empty field ahead. He stares at the end zone and thinks to himself, How many times do you get to rush for 50 yards as an NFL quarterback? Don’t that just be durned.

NOV. 19, 2006
Coach Gibbs wants to know if he’s ready. As a rookie in 2005, Campbell sat on the sideline learning the team’s conservative offense. It was all for naught; the Skins hired Al Saunders in the off-season to overhaul the system. Now, after having had just three months to master the new playbook—Saunders’ infamously complicated playbook—Campbell is making his NFL debut, at Tampa Bay. Gibbs calls him into the office and asks, “Are you ready?” Campbell thinks, Am I ready? I haven’t even run a snap of our offense since training camp.

On his very first play, he throws a beauty of a deep sideline pass to Brandon Lloyd. The receiver drops it.

Campbell is on a first date, which comprises bowling and a movie. “Durn, I left my wallet in the car,” he tells his companion, who will later become his girlfriend. He says “durn” instead of “darn.” This is because he’s from rural Mississippi. A “reaaaal country boy,” says Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers. The more you talk to Campbell, the more he arches his a’s and loses his t’s. He also has a habit of pausing, of taking a breath in between words, of staring down at his fingers, of curling the left side of his mouth when he remembers something that must be really good. His teammates make fun of him because he looks like Lionel Richie. But his date tonight doesn’t tease him about this. As she foots the bill for bowling, she plays another angle. “You just wanted to see if I’d really pay,” says Mercedes Lindsay, Miss District of Columbia USA 2007.

AUG. 1, 2005
The night before his very first practice with the Redskins, Campbell goes to McDonald’s at 10 p.m. and orders a burger and fries. His stomach starts to cramp a couple of hours later. The cramp turns into a gurgle, then into a problematic pain. He can’t go to sleep, even though the next day is one he’s been thinking about since he was 11 years old. He drinks some water. He sits up, gets the chills. Then he’s in the bathroom, his long legs bent and his hands clutching the rim of the toilet. Washington’s No. 1 draft pick spills his value meal down the drain. The next day at camp, he gets himself checked out by the team’s medical staff. Veteran quarterback Mark Brunell walks into the training room. “Are you sick already?” Brunell asks. “On your very first day?”

FALL 2004
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is hanging out in the training room with some players from his offense, including Campbell. The coach can’t remember his senior QB’s saying 10 words to him ever, which is why he can’t believe it when a few of the Tigers tell him now that Campbell has a date tonight. Tuberville asks them, Why are you telling me this? Their answer: Jason’s got no game when it comes to girls—at all.

SEPT. 18, 2004
It’s late, awfully late. Fourth-and-12, Auburn down 9-3 to LSU. The third game of Campbell’s final season is about to end with a loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium, in front of the largest crowd ever to see a football game in the state of Alabama. Coordinator Al Borges can barely stand to watch from the sideline. He took over the position in the off-season, replacing Hugh Nall, who replaced Bobby Petrino in 2003, who replaced Noel Mazzone in 2002. Is it any wonder Campbell has been struggling all day? As much as Borges tells him to let it rip in the new West Coast, the QB still sometimes plays as if he were afraid to mess up.

As the stadium waits, quiet as a spool of string, Campbell takes the ball from under center. The Tigers blitz. Before he’s hit by two defenders, Campbell finds receiver Courtney Taylor with a 14-yard pass to get the game-saving first down. Three plays later, he hits Taylor again for a 16-yard touchdown. The Tigers win 10-9 and don’t lose a game all season.

SEPT. 6, 2003
Campbell gets booed off the field. For the second straight game, the junior fails to direct a touchdown drive—and for the second straight game, the Tigers lose. So much for their preseason No. 6 ranking. So much for Campbell’s experience as a third-year starter making a difference.

FALL 2001
They drive all night to see him play. They leave under dark from their home in the pine belt countryside and head deep into the blank, flat spaces of southern Alabama. Larry and Carolyn Campbell always arrive at Jason’s apartment around 3 a.m. Their son, a redshirt freshman who’s already sharing snaps with Daniel Cobb, leaves the door of his apartment unlocked. His parents creep in while Jason and his roommate, running back Ronnie Brown, are asleep.

As the most coveted QB coming out of Mississippi, Campbell decides to play football at Auburn. But the junior star hasn’t told anyone yet because he knows it’ll be big news. All Campbell tells his parents is that he’s prayed a lot about it and wants to announce his decision at one of the places he’s most comfortable: in front of the congregation at his church.


Getty Images


FALL 1998
Taylorsville High is trailing Newton High 28-7 at halftime. Campbell, the starting quarterback for the 2—2 Tartars, knows what some people are saying. His dad is the school’s basketball coach, and the vice principal, and a science teacher, so the kid is starting only because of favoritism. Jason tries not to think about it. But his new coach, Shannon White, can’t remember the kid smiling even once in any of the team’s practices.

Campbell starts the second half in the shotgun. He throws for five touchdowns and 400 yards. He runs for 100 more. The Tartars win 48-28 and don’t lose another game all season.

He stands onstage in front of 200 people at Pine Valley Baptist Church, holding a candle. He’s 15, playing one of the Three Wise Men in the church’s annual Christmas skit. He goes to church every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday; has since he was born. His dad is a deacon. Jason is taller by far than any of the other kids who are standing near the manger in front of the pews, because he’s grown about a foot the past year. He got a whole new set of clothing the summer before the performance, clothing he can no longer wear. He looks like “nothing but legs,” his mom likes to say.

DEC. 31, 1992
Jason turns 11. For the next year, he repeatedly prefaces his statements by saying, boldly, “When I go pro … ”

His favorite food is banana pudding. He also likes chicken casserole, corn bread, crab legs, greens, peach cobbler, peas and shrimp. Jason and his older brother, Larry Jr., have contests to see who can eat more shrimp. Jason sometimes plays tabletop football by using pencils as players. His best subject is math, and his favorite cartoon is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When he’s sure no one’s watching, he gets out his TMNT figurines and tries to mimic their cartoon voices. What he doesn’t know is that his parents have seen this and think it’s hilarious.

Everyone comes over to Jason’s home because his dad put up a hoop at the edge of the yard. Tiny Summerland, Miss., consists of about a dozen households, and the kids head to the brick house on Smith County Road to shoot baskets and toss the football. Under the footsteps of so many children, the St. Augustine grass has dried up and gone. “The Kool-Aid” house, Carolyn calls it.

One day, Jason comes inside crying because Larry Jr. and some of the bigger kids have pushed him around. His dad looks at him and says, “If you keep cryin’, you can’t hang with them. You have to find a way to beat them.”

The Campbells buy one of those electric football game boards with magnetized players, the kind where the small figurines buzz around haphazardly. Larry helps 3-year-old Jason set up plays on the board and teaches him about the various positions. Jason is mesmerized simply by watching the pieces of plastic knock into each other. Later that summer, at a family reunion in Taylorsville, he picks up a football, and his parents can barely get it away from him. “He wanted that ball,” Larry says. “He just held onto it and held onto it.”

‘Skins are on a roll — can they keep it up?

6 Oct

Quarterback Jason Campbell has yet to throw a pick in 2008
Great win over the Eagles on Sunday — the Rams, Browns, and Lions are next.
Barring a letdown, they could be 7-1 before butting heads with the Steelers and Cowboys at home.
Here’s the Eagles re-cap from ESPN.com …  The Redskins completed a remarkable two-week swing with a 23-17 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field to improve to 4-1. This is no longer an upset-minded team. Quite simply, this has all the makings of a playoff team.Washington withstood a furious start by the Eagles, and then spent the final three quarters dominating every aspect of the game. Eagles coach Andy Reid was left mumbling something about putting his team in the right position, which for now is dead last in the NFC East.A week after gashing the Cowboys for 144 rushing yards, the Redskins picked up 203 against the Eagles. Philadelphia came into the game giving up 53.8 yards per game, but Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts combined for 70 in the first half alone. Portis finished with 29 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown.With the Redskins facing fourth-and-1 at the Eagles’ 38-yard line with 2:48 left, Zorn never hesitated to call Portis’ number. The running back plowed forward for three yards to seal another huge division win. And when Zorn emerged from the visiting locker room later, Portis’ family members were waiting on him.

“I hope you don’t think I abused your son today,” Zorn said to Portis’ mother. Some of you might recall that Portis was critical of Zorn’s play-calling after the loss to the New York Giants, but that game’s now a distant memory.

On Sunday, the Redskins couldn’t have asked for a worse start. The Eagles scored on their first possession, and following a Redskins three-and-out, rookie DeSean Jackson returned a punt 68 yards to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead.

That’s when Zorn made an important decision. He stuck with a game plan that included a steady dose of running plays to the left side and passes to Chris Cooley. With the Eagles taking Santana Moss out of the game, quarterback Jason Campbell stayed calm and relied on other players.

“It would’ve been easy to get away from the game plan and get pass happy,” Campbell told me after the game. “But it was too early for that. We had a good game plan, so we just decided to stick with it.”

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