Despite the loss of Troy Brown, New England’s best wide receiver, to injury throughout most of the season, the Patriots have looked fully functional on offense. Quarterback Tom Brady has shown tremendous poise and maturity after a slightly disappointing sophomore season. Running backs Kevin Faulk and Antowain Smith have done what the team has needed, grinding out a few yards here and there, and tiring the defense until Brady makes the big play. The emergence of Deion Branch as a reliable “go-to” guy has really filled the hole left by Brown’s injury.
What makes the Patriots so dangerous, however, is their depth. Brady has completed at least eight passes to 10 different receivers and 20 passes to five different receivers. Write a letter to the editor if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this team remind you just a little of the 1994 Patriots team which saw five players catch 50 or more passes?
However, the reason the Patriots are in first place and are the hottest team in football is not their offense; it is their stingy defense. Allowing only 15.5 points per game, the Patriots have allowed 10 or fewer points in five games, and have not allowed a touchdown in three of their last five games. Since allowing 31 points in week one, they have allowed only 13.8 points per game, the fewest in the league.
Think I’m hyping the defense just a little? If so, imagine how good they’d be if they weren’t missing offseason acquisition and perennial Pro-Bowler Ted Washington, as well as defensive anchor Ted Johnson to injury. Add to that nagging injuries to All-Pro Ty Law, and rising star Richard Seymour, and the Patriots simply do not have their ideal team on the field.
Now that the Patriots are sitting at 8-2, the league may finally take notice of their surprise success. Don’t expect that to slow the Pats down, though. Brady, Bill Belicheck and the rest of the Patriots veterans all know how to win and are hungry to get back into the Super Bowl picture. The Chiefs may be the team everyone is talking about, but don’t expect their high-powered offense to get past the Patriots defense in the playoffs. The Patriots will satisfy part of the unfulfilled emotions left by the Red Sox.
After 12 years, the heat is finally off Vince McMahon, owner of the World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly World Wrestling Foundation). McMahon, the brains behind the multi-billion dollar wrestling organization, was involved in a steroid scandal in 1992, which ultimately led to his indictment and later acquittal on charges of distribution and possession of anabolic steroids. The charges against McMahon were brought up due to the conviction of the WWE’s physician at the time, George Zahorian, on 12 charges of selling anabolic steroids to McMahon and other WWE wrestlers. Since 1992, multiple professional wrestlers have died prematurely of apparent steroid-related health problems. Included amongst those wrestlers are a few my of boyhood favorites, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Davey Boy Smith and Hawk (from Legion of Doom). Others who have admitted to using steroids include Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger and McMahon himself. Although steroids have clearly been present in other professional sports, it has always been assumed that wrestling is the biggest problem because of its muscle-bound superstars.
However, in recent weeks, the attention has moved elsewhere, specifically to track and field, baseball and football. With new technology, better labs and smarter chemists, steroids are now more popular, rampant and (gasp) less damaging than ever.
This week, the NFL notified four Oakland Raiders that they tested positive for the newly discovered performance-enhancing drug THG (tetrahydrogestrinone). This notification comes on the heels of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into the whereabouts of the lab responsible for manufacturing the illegal substance. Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) is at the center of the investigation, as his company seems to be the likely supplier of THG.
Last week, Major League Baseball announced that steroid testing will be mandatory for all players, and fines and suspensions will be implemented because of results that over five percent of MLB players tested positive for banned substances during last season. While the MLB penalties are a laughing stock amongst anti-drug lobbyists, they are a sign that steroid use is a much larger problem than was first thought.
Steroids are bad: bad for your mind, bad for your body, just bad in general. When are athletes going to realize that they are ruining their lives by taking steroids? The only thing steroids are good for is athletes’ wallets because bigger muscles lead to bigger paychecks. And last time I checked, baseball players hitting 40 home runs per year (or MLB players in general) aren’t running to the poor house. Sure steroids give them an advantage, but so does working out five hours a day in the offseason instead of four. All of these players used their natural, god-given ability and talent to get to the top, so why do they now need illegal substances to stay there?