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18 posts from January 2014

January 31, 2014

Smirk IV and SB pick. Broncos win! (Sorry, Denver); plus Martin vs. Incognito The Poll (vote now) & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 31. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today birthing the latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito please shut up, Smirk III (the dopest Super Bowl of all), SB who-you-hope-wins poll, Heat about June & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

1aa1aleatherSMIRK IV: WEEKEND MEANS SUPER BOWL PARTYING (AND A GAME, TIME PERMITTING): Today's fourth of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns delves into the major parties 1aa1abermanassociated with Super Bowl Week, including the annual ESPN party at which a lurching, leering, perspiring Chris Berman inadvertantly drips sweat into other peoples' cocktails while falling over backbackbackbackbackward. Also included in today's new Smirk: Bruno Mars, Eli the orangutan, seasick Broncos, fake stuff, Peyton's ducks, God and ancient trophy-makers. Click on Smirk IV for the complete latest column. (Previously: Smirk IIISmirk IISmirk ISB Top 10 Storylines).

OFFICIAL SUPER BOWL PICK: BRONCOS, 24-20: Well, this is it. Based on the miserable season I've had 1aa1fripixwith my NFL picks, the hope of Seahawks fans is hereby fortified as Broncos fans dash for the Pepto Bismol. (Is Pepto Bismol even still a product?) There are reasons to like the slight-underdog Seahawks. One is that in previous No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense Super Bowls, the D-teams are 4-1. Another is Peyton Manning's spotty track record in cold weather. Nevertheless sometimes you go with your gut feeling and I think this is Peyton's year. His season. His Sunday. Click on Super Bowl Gem for the full predix capsule.

Poll result: Most want Broncos to win: In the last blogpost we asked not for a prediction but who you want to win Sunday, and 66.0 percent said Denver. That's less than the 72.4% who previously predicted Denver would win.

WHERE DOES YOUR SYMPATHY GO IN THE DOLPHINS' MARTIN-INCOGNITO BULLYGATE MESS?: The 1aa1abullywhole thing reared its homely head again this week as alleged victim Jonathan Martin did a TV interview and alleged bully Richie Incognito's lawyer fired back with stuff damning to Martin. I find it funny that both men are now publicly playing the sympathy card and that neither man -- at least to me -- is sympathetic. You may feel differently. We did three different Bullygate-related polls back in the fall when it was a national story but this is the first that essentially is One vs. Other. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

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January 30, 2014

Jonathan and Richie: Please just shut up and go away!; plus Smirk III: It's the dopest Super Bowl. Who you hope wins? Poll; vote!; also Heat about June & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 30. I'm in the Dungeon today fashioning my Super Bowl prediction. It'll be online later today and in Friday's inky pulp editions. 2) Click on Kumbaya, Now Win for my column off this week's introduction of new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Thunder and LeBron vs. Durant poll, Smirk II and Jersey's D-list celebs, Jonathan Martin speaks, Marlins farm system & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

JONATHAN AND RICHIE: BOTH OF YOU PLEASE JUST SHUT UP AND GO AWAY!: The NFL/Ted Wells/Dolphins Bullygate report is coming out right after the Super Bowl, and that's probably why the prinicipals -- the supposedly bullied Jonathan Martin and alleged bully Richie Incognito -- have come out of hibernation this week. First Martin breaks silence with a sit-down interview with NBC's Tony Dungy and continues to portray himself the victim. Now it comes out that Incognito has hired a top PR firm, Sitrick & Co., to buff his image. Incognito's lawyer took the offensive today with information that Martin sent text messages to Incognito as rude and lewd as some Incognito sent. Oh, and Richie today started a Twitter campaign with #FREEINCOGNITO as a strike against Martin's latest interview-attacks. Here is my campaign: #WILLYOUPLEASEBOTHJUSTSHUTUPANDGOAWAY!? I mean, seriously. Is that too much to ask? Two things are self-evident by now. One is that Incognito was ringleader of an over-the-top lockerroom culture. The other is that the soft Martin was not built to man-up and stand up to it. So here we are. Both of them playing a sympathy card, and neither one of them sympathetic. Both of you, be gone!

Today's third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns reports that the Marijuana Policy Project has paid to
1aa1billboards2erect several pro-pot billboards (one is pictured at right) all around the Super Bowl stadium. Which makes sense, since the Broncos and Seahawks come from the only two states (see left) to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Oy! Note: This item should not be construed as an endorsement of marijuana. Even if Dad offers to pass you his joint, don't do it, kids! Also included in today's new Smirk: Roman Numeral celebration, Chinese New Year, Cheerios, Lauren Tannehill's rifle and an old crone in Budapest. Click on Smirk III for the complete latest column. (Previously: Smirk IISmirk ISB Top 10 Storylines).

WHO DO YOU HOPE WINS THE SUPER BOWL?: We asked last week who you predicted would win (it was 72.4 percent Denver). This isn't about who you think will win or who you'd bet on. This is who you WANT to win. If you are not a fan of either the Broncos or Seahawks -- that would be about 95 percent of the country -- chances are you still have a rooting interest. Who? And why? Take a dip in our poll.

HEAT-THUNDER, LEBRON-DURANT: IT COUNTS LATER, NOT NOW: Oklahoma City Thunder won in Miami last night 112-105 and Kevin Durant (33 points) and LeBron James (34) put on the show you expected, and none of it really mattered. See, being a two-time defending champion means you are the only team in the NBA that can say the following and mean it, and suffer no rebuttal whatsoever: "It isn't about January. It's about June." Boo-ya!

Poll result: LeBron swamps Durant (of course): We asked in the last blogpost who you'd rather have on your team right now, and LeBron James beat Kevin Durant with 75.2 percent. (What else did you expect in a Miami-based poll?) 

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January 29, 2014

LeBron v. Durant. Poll. Vote!; plus Smirk II: D-list celebs rep Jersey at SB; also Dolphins/GM sing Kumbaya, J.Martin speaks, Marlins & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29. Dolphins have mutually parted with personnel guy Brian Gaine, who was passed over for GM job. No surprise. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk debuts, Super Brrr poll, indoor football, Pete Seeger & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Thunder spank Heat: LeBron James (34 points) and Kevin Durant (33) put on the show you expected tonight, but OKC's 112-05 win was sobering. Thunder is missing Russell Westbrook, remember. In the roller-coaster of a Heat fan's emotions, this had to indicate that the hurdle isn't just getting past Indiana in the East. The greater hurdle is beyond.

On new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey: He brings peace and harmony and gets Miami's front-office back on that proverbial "same page." Now let's see if Hickey brings talent and winning. Click on Kumbaya, Now Win for my column off Tuesday's introduction of the new general manager. 

HEAT-THUNDER. LEBRON-DURANT. DELICIOUS!: People who keep saying there's nothing interesting about this Heat regular season (talking to you, Le Batard) might want to dial into tonight's visit by the 

1aa1alebdurOklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant at the bayside arena (won by OKC, 112-95). It was more than a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals won by Miami. It was personal. You'll recall how Durant dissed Dwyane Wade by saying James Harden, not Wade, should have been included in a Sports Illustrated 10-best-players list. A frosty Twitter exchange ensued. Now, though more unspoken, is the rivalry between Durant and LeBron for the mountain top. An ESPN poll just this week had it Durant over James in the MVP race by 72-28 percent. And LeBron edged Durant by only 53-47 on the question, "Who would you choose to start a franchise?" I put the question, though slightly diferent, to you in this poll. Considering everything including their ages -- James just turned 29; Durant is 25 1/2 -- who would you rather have on your team right now? (No, the results thus far do not surprise me. Yes, of course a Miami-based poll skews the outcome. Yes, for sure the result would be different out of OKC. Relax. It's just a blog poll!)

SMIRK II: NEW JERSEY TROTS OUT ITS BEST D-LIST CELEBS FOR SUPER BOWL MEDIA DAY: Today's 1aa1amozartsecond of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns tries to figure out which was weirder about Media Day: The journalist dressed like Mozart, 1aa1aregisufcDeion Sanders' nonsensical questions, Regis Philbin with a UFC belt, or has-been celebs Dionne Warwick and Joe Piscopo greeting arriving media. Also included: DeMaryius Thomas' jailed family, Super Pope, an aging stripper, a dead camel and sacrificial cows. Click on Smirk II for the complete column. (Previously: Smirk ISB Top 10 Storylines).

British people explain Super Bowl, American football: Click here for a short, amusing video.

Poll result: Super Cold Bowl a bad idea: We asked in the last blogpost if you though playing a Super Bowl in freezing weather was great or ridiculous, and 83.1 percent said ridiculous.

JONATHAN MARTIN SPEAKS!: The most famous Bullying Victim in Dolphins history sang to priestly Tony 1aa1dungyjonDungy on NBC's Today Show, reiterating the "attacking nature" of taunts he endured. He said he "felt trapped, like I didn't have a way to make it right." The interview was not that illuminating, but I loved the mesmerizing backdrop of the set (pictured): A deep-hued, richly decorated den, almost a drawing room. I think Martin and Dungy should have done the interview wearing smoking jackets, a fine Montecristo in one hand, a snifter of Courvasier in the other.

JUDGING MARLINS' FARM SYSTEM: ESPN's annual ranks slots Miami 19th of 30 MLB farm systems in 1aa1amarlinsterms of rising available talent. But that's misleading because Marlins tend to call up young talent much sooner than most teams, with Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich prime examples. Miami has four guys among the top 100 prospects: LHP Andrew Heaney (34th), 3B Colin Moran (55th), CF Jake Marisnick (84th) and LHP Justin Nicolino (93rd).

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January 28, 2014

Super Bowl With a Smirk debuts with Jersey whine on menu; plus new Super Brrr poll (vote now), Dolphins' GM-hire brutalized by fans & more

1aa1algo1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 28. Seems today's Smirk debut is attracting lots of eyes in the Northeast. A friend in Alexandria, VA outside DC sent me this screengrab of an algorithm that determines popularity of news articles and weights them by size. Catch me right in the middle 2)  No radio for me today due to conflicting assignment. I'll be at Dolphins GM introductory news conference columnizing off that. 3) Blog will be Super Bowl-intensive this week but not forgetting Heat and other stuff. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' GM Hire and poll, Heat-Spurs, Grammy Awards & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Super Bowl Week Top 10 storylines: Here is my annual Super Bowl Week preview, in which an apparently self-loathing journalist pokes fun at the bombast of the Super Bowl and at the media driving the excess. I think the word "Peyton" may be mentioned a few times. Click on SB Top 10 Storylines for the column.

1aa1asbnj 1aa1asbnySUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK I: JERSEY WHINE AND CHICKEN WINGS: The first of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns debuts today leading with New Jersey's pouting as New York gloms all the attention as host. Also included: Cheap tickets, Don Shula, Radio Row, child referees, National Chicken Council, a soprano and (spoiler alert!) solid information that Denver will win 31-28 in overtime. Click on Smirk I for today's complete debut column.

SUPER BRRR: OUTDOOR GAME IN FRIGID CLIMES: REFRESHING OR DUMB?: Chances are you think a NY/NJ Super Bowl is either a great idea or ridiculous. I suppose a few folks might be undecided. Another school of thought holds that where the game is played matters only to the host city; that fans not attending the game don't care. Today's poll offers no gray area, though, just a thumbs up or down. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Dolphins hiring Hickey as GM hugely unpopular: We asked if your initial reaction to Miami hiring the Bucs' Dennis Hickey as general manager was "pleased" or "disappointed," the poll drew our biggest response in awhile, and you trashed the choice. And even 86.0 percent were disappointed.

INDOOR FOOTBALL TEAM COMING TO MIAMI: It'll be called the Miami Inferno, will be coached by Pete Taylor and will play at UM's campus basketball arena. Officia announcement coming tomorrow.  

ON PETE SEEGER: Pete Seeger, the great folk singer and activist, died today at 94. I wonder if the 1aa1aseegerNY/NJ Super Bowl would pause for even a second to remember a New York City native who led a remarkable life? I wonder if any of the players have even herard of him? Seeger (along with Woody Guthrie) introduced America to its folk heritage, sang for migrant workers in the '40s and joined Occupy Wall Street protesters in his 90s. Folk music in not in my wheelhouse, but much respect for a passing icon of Americana.

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January 26, 2014

What do you think of Dolphins' hiring Hickey as GM? New poll. Vote now!; plus Hickey reacts, Heat-Spurs, Grammys & more

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 27. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package leading with the onset of Super Bowl Week. 2) Can't Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus just get it over with, hook up, and start having Babies From Hell? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' bizarre GM search, Canes-'Cuse, Dwyane Wade health poll & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Super Bowl Top 10 storylines: Here is my annual Super Bowl Week lighthearted preview, in which an apparently self-loathing journalist pokes fun at the bombast of the Super Bowl and at the media that drives the excess. I think the word "Peyton" may be mentioned a few times. Click on SB Top 10 Storylines for the column.

1aa1dhickeyDOLPHIN SETTLE ON HICKEY AS LONG, STRANGE GM SEARCH ENDS: A Dolphins general manager search that saw at least three preferred candidates rebuff Miami ended today with the hiring of Tampa Bay Bucs director pro player personnel Dennis Hickey. Interestingly, Tampa Bay also had a GM opening and did not even consider Hickey for the job. What do you think of Miami's hire? Obviously none of us can know for sure for awhile, but what best expresses your intiial reaction? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

HICKEY'S REACTION TO HIRING: Via the Dolphins: “Miami is a great franchise with a historic tradition and passionate fans. The opportunity to work with Stephen Ross, Joe Philbin and the entire Dolphins organization to build a team that wins on a consistent basis is exciting, “ Hickey said. “The Dolphins certainly have talented players and I am eager to hit the ground running with our personnel and coaching staffs. We will all work together to construct a team that will make our organization and fans proud.”   

HEAT WHIP SPURS: Miami at home won 113-101 over San Antonio yesterday in an NBA Final rematch, with Dwyane Wade returning to action with limited effectiveness after four straight games out with knee soreness. Result had an order-restored feel, although Wednesday's visit by Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City should be a more heated test.

Poll result: Wide concern for Wade health issues: We asked in previous blogpost, and only 22.0 percent felt Wade's health (knee) issues were not a problem. Another 13.5% said the concern would decrease the likelihood LeBron James re-signs, 12.5% said it indicates Wade is past his prime, 6.7% said it hurts Heat's three-peat title chances -- and 45.2% said all three factors were real.

A FEW QUICK GRAMMY THOUGHTS: Is it an "Emporer's New Clothes" thing? Did no one close to the two 1aa1daftguys have the nerve to tell Daft Punk they looked like idiots carrying their helmeted persona onstage last night? ("Get Lucky" is a great song, though). Was that walking cane a prop or is Madonna really that old? Anybody else really tired of the aggressively inoffensive LL Cool J? I think Lorde has talent but the song "Royals" was way overhyped. The only category I actually cared about was Best Americana Album, but Mavis Staples didn't win and it didn't get on TV anyway.

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January 24, 2014

Dolphins' name Bucs' Hickey as GM; plus how concerned with D.Wade's health? (poll), UM-'Cuse, SB Top 10 SB topics & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 26. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest notes-column package leading with the onset of Super bowl Week. 2) Can't Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus just get it over with, hook up, and start having Babies From Hell? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL and possible placekicker rule changes with poll, Ray Farmer waffling, Heat-Lakers & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Super Bowl Top 10 storylines: Here is my annual Super Bowl Week lighthearted preview, in which an apparently self-loathing journalist pokes fun at the bombast of the Super Bowl and at the media that drives the excess. I think the word "Peyton" may be mentioned a few times. Click on SB Top 10 Storylines for the column.

Canes fall to 'Cuse: UM men lose at home yesterday to unbeaten No. 2 Syracuse, 64-52. Miami had its only lead at 47-46 with 8:20 to play but was outscored 18-5 from there. Canes feel like an NIT team.

Gone but not forgotten: Ron Fraser, the great UM baseball legend, died one year ago this week.

DOLPHINS' GM-SEARCH WOES START WITH OWNER ROSS: Now Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also has said no to Miami. I think Caserio was just playing the Dolphins for a raise in New England. That's the problem right now. Others smell weakness in Miami, so Miami gets played. Top candidate Ray Farmer, the Browns assistant general manager, earlier withdrew from the Dolphins' GM search because of doubts about the club's 1aa1arosssfront office structure -- and that's squarely on owner Stephen Ross for either of two reasons, or both. Either Ross (pictured) is somehow failing to make that structure clear during extensive interview sessions. Or that structure is simply unappealing to candidates. Farmer after all was at least the fourth potential hire to rebuff the Dolphins. Either answer makes Ross and the club look bad. Ross has said publicly the new GM would have "autonomous power" over the roster, over free agency and the draft. Yet it is obvious the owner is splintering authority by extending power and influence to head coach Joe Philbin and team executive Dawn Aponte, who has come to play a sort of Black Widow role in this saga. One also imagines that prospective candidates may see lurking "advisor" Carl Peterson as an unsettling factor who's also in on the splintered structure. All of it has turned this GM hunt into a soap opera as much as a search. As the Dolphins Turn. So now it looks like the GM job will go to either the Titans' Lake Dawson, Bucs' Dennis Hickey, or an internal promotion for Brian Gaine. Obviously none can be said to have been the first (or second, or third) choice. The hire will be seen as a disappointment. It's like I've said for years, folks: It ain't easy being a Dolfan.

ON DWYANE WADE'S HEALTH ISSUES: The veteran Heat guard missed a fourth straight game in Thursday's win over the Lakers due to knee soreness and has now missed 13 of 43 games this season -- though he is expected to play today vs. visiting San Antonio. It is 1aa1dwadehealththe problem with the Heat that isn't talked about much, almost as if the subject were taboo, or not an issue at all. But it is an issue, for any or all of three reasons: 1) It suggests Wade, now 32, is past his best days and, by age or health, won't again consistently be the player he was. 2) It directly affects Miami's likelihood of a three-peat championship, if you reasonably think the knee issues may continue into the playoffs. And 3) It can only decrease the chances LeBron James will re-sign with the Heat after this season. Which is the most real or biggest of these three factors to you? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Hey, NFL. Leave the scoring rules alone: We asked in last blogpost about NFL considering eliminating extra-point kicks and another idea to limit field-goal tries to three per team per game. No, you said: 63.4 percent said don't do either and only 8.3% said do both. There was 25.2% support for eliminating PATs but only 3.1% for limiting FGs.

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January 22, 2014

Should NFL eliminate PATs? How about limiting FG tries? Poll. Vote!; plus Ray Farmer, Heat-Lakers & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 23. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphin' best candidate and top candidate-who-isn't in GM search, two views of Heat struggles, defending Richard Sherman & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Farmer! You in or out?: Conflicting reports that Browns assistant GM Ray Farmer may have withdrawn from Dolphins' GM search are disconcerting to say the least. He's a frontrunner. If he's out, job could go almost by default to current assistant Brian Gaine.

Lakers at Heat tonight: The marquee for this matchup is unusually modest, though, with Miami only 6-5 this month while adjusting to Dwyane Wade's parttime health, and the Kobe-less Lakers mediocre at best. Kobe dropped in on a University of Miami business class yesterday then attended Canes' loss to Duke. Gotta do something with all that free time.

1aa1kickxpSHOULD THE NFL CHANGE ITS SCORING RULES INVOLVING PLACEKICKERS?: Commissioner Roger Goodell this week floated a very interesting proposal for a possible rule change eliminating the extra-point kick. I would add into the discussion an equally interesting idea to limit field goal attempts. A summary of both proposals is below. Read them, then vote in our poll and say why.

The NFL proposal for eliminating PATs (extra points): Goodell (pictured) says the NFL may consider eliminating the perfunctory point- 1aa1goodellafter-touchdown kick, which is roughly a 99 percent likelihood. His proposal: Touchdowns would be worth seven points. Teams would then have an option to run or pass for an added eighth point, but if they failed, the TD would be devalued to six points. (This scoring change presumably also would eliminate the seldom-used two-point conversion play). The negative: The change messes with tradition and, many would argue, is simply unneccesary. The positive: Everything else. Adds excitement and strategy, and lets you know who the daring/gambling coaches are.

The Jackson Carney proposal for limiting field goals: Jackson, 11, is the son of a friend. He had this idea while watching the Ravens win with six field goals: Limit teams to three FG attempts per game in regulation. The negative: Messes with tradition and, some would say, is simply unneccesary. The positive: Adds excitement, encourages going for it on 4th down, puts added emphasis on touchdowns, increases strategy as coaches gamble whether to save the third FG try for late in games. (Some say a better FG change is to vary value, such as 1 point for a chip shot, 2 for mid-range and 3 for 50-plus yards. But that could encourage teams with 3rd-and-long to intentionally lose a yard or two to add a point to their FG try. Teams also could circumvent the rule with longer snaps to artificially increase distance for an added point).

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January 21, 2014

Meet Dolphins' best GM contender, and top candidate-who-isn't; plus 2 views of struggling Heat, M.Obama dunks on LeBron, defending Richard Sherman & more

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 21. It's No-Radio Tuesday. The Dan Le Batard Show struggles without me today. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Broncos-Seahawks in Super Bowl with poll, early SB betting trends, Martin Luther King Jr. & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

ON THE DOLPHINS' LONG, BROAD, WEIRD, CONTINUING GENERAL-MANAGER SEARCH: Thus far Miami has had interest in 11 men for the job of replacing Jeff Ireland and has interviewed seven, reportedly with more possibly yet to come. This is a long search. The fact Miami does not have a personnel boss in place and that presence at this week's Senior Bowl is being tsk-tsk'd by many in the league (even though it isn't a huge deal). There is speculation Miami is not getting top candidates because people mistrust the leadership structure, even though owner Stephen Ross has said the new man would have "autonomy" over the roster, meaning free-agency and draft decisions. We look at the team's top actual candidate for the GM job, and the top candidate who isn't:

THE TOP ACTUAL DOLPHINS' GM CANDIDATE: RAY FARMER: [Click on The Case For Farmer for today's latest column by me] Ray Farmer, the Browns' assistant general manager after six years as the Chiefs' 1aa1farmerraydirector of pro personnel in 2006-12, is the best man for the job among actual contenders, according to, well, says me. Farmer (pictured) is young (39), smart (Duke), a former player (Eagles), and seen as a rising young star among NFL talent evaluators. And, not insignificantly, he is African-American. The Dolphins could use that diversity, in that role. This is the franchise that once interviewed but did not hire coach Mike Tomlin because they thought he was "too hip-hop." This is the franchise whose previous GM alienated many blacks by asking Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview if his mother was a prostitute. Farmer should be hired first on qualifications -- don't mistake that -- but he also could help Miami gain back credibility in the way the club is perceived. The Dolphins, a club source told me, envision that Farmer could become the next Ozzie Newsome, who made champions of the Ravens after becoming, in 2002, the NFL's first-ever African-American GM.

THE TOP CANDIDATE WHO CURIOUSLY ISN'T: SCOTT PIOLI: You know what Scott Pioli, the most accomplished former and available general manager around, is doing these days? Working for NBC Sports 1aa1pioliand the network's Pro Football Talk as what they gruesomely call "an informationalist." Pioli (pictured) wants back in the league. There is speculation the Texans may be interested. Why not Miami? Pioli is a Bill Belichick protege who helped turn the Jets from a 1-15 team in 1996 to 12-4 by '98, then helped Belichick win three Super Bowl with the Patriots. His most recent time with the Chiefs was not nearly as successful; he was fired Jan. 4, 2013. Nevertheless, his resume is loud. He'd be a heavyweight hire. Certainly you'd think he'd at least be interviewed. So why no Dolphins interest? Pioli is the man who replaced Carl Peterson as Chiefs' GM, and Peterson is now Stephen Ross' confidant leading the GM search. A Dolphins source also told me that Pioli's long, very close friendship with Belichick, Miami's main AFC East adversary, would make him an "odd, awkward" hire.

Poll result: Loving Peyton. All Broncos in Super Bowl: We asked in the last blogpost who'll win the SB (you may still vote), and it was Broncos swamping Seahawks by 72.9 percent to 27.1%.

TWO WAYS TO VIEW HEAT: Miami is 5-5 in its past 10 games, giving up 113 points on average in those losses. Last night meant the Heat have now lost 4 of the past 6 games... The hand-wringing worrier says: "These defensive issues and Dwyane Wade missing so many games makes me doubt a three-peat. It's as if we're coneding the No. 1 Eastern seed to Indiana and just hoping to find that 'On' switch in the playoffs. It's concerning." The preening grinner says: "C'mon! Relax. We've seen this movie before. The regular season doesn't matter. The defense will gel. As long as LeBron laces 'em up, no worries." So. Which fan are you right now?

M. Obama dunks on LeBron: OK, sort of. Well, not really. But Erik Spoelstra, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen were taping a PSA on fitness and healthy earting at the White House last week, when Michelle Obama and LeBron James photobombed the thing. Click HERE to watch.

DEFENDING RICHARD SHERMAN: Seahawks star cornerback trashes 49ers' Michael Crabtree in on-field 1aa1arshermaninterview immediately after Sunday's game and fans and media go ballistic. A few things here. Yeah, Sherman (pictured) personally criticizing an opponent was classless and, as much, egotistical. But you just caught him in the emotional aftermatch of the biggest play and biggest game of his life. And we can't have it both ways, media. We rightly criticize athletes for banal, cliche comments ... then get outraged when they say something that is quotable. Real emotion is sometimes volatile and raw. This was. Sherman has sinec apologized to Crabtree. Time to move on. Alas, Sheman's tirade will continue to be a Super Bowl Week Chewing Point, so settle in and get used to it. 

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January 19, 2014

Broncos vs. Seahawks in Super Bowl 48: Who wins? You decide, right here. New poll. Vote!; plus MLK & more

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 20. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Champ Sunday picks and polls, LeBron's b'day message to Wade, IOC's 'anti-American' ruling & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Click on Super Sunday Twice for yesterday's column previewing AFC and NFC Championship Games, and on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes-column package leading with Heat.

Well, I blew it. I wrote that betting against Peyton Manning at home was like betting against tomorrow's sunrise. 1aa1denseasbThen I went and did it. Broncos win, 26-16, in a game not as close as score suggests. All Denver. All Peyton. You all had it. Denver was the pick of 69.6 percent of you in our poll. In the late game, 62.3% thought Seattle would beat San Francisco. I had the road 'dog again: Niners. And was wrong again. Seahawks, 23-17. Now it's the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl the seeds and the oddsmakers predicted. In retrospect, I wish I'd stuck with Peyton but do not second-guess liking Niners. The question now for you: Who wins on Feb. 2 in the cold of New Jersey? Vote and say why.

 SB a betting tossup: Las Vegas can't seem to decide on a favorite here, with some books favoring Seattle by 1 point and others Denver by as many as 2. Early money swinging to Broncos. I think the line will settle at Denver -2 or even 2.5. Over/under seems in the 47-48 range, low for a Super Bowl, lowest, in fact, in 32 years.

1aa1amlkON MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: It's MLK Day in America, honoring the great civil rights icon who would be 85 today if not slain in 1968 at age 39. I strongly reccomend a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, built beside the Lorraine Motel where King was killed. It is a profoundly moving experience.

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January 17, 2014

It's NFL Champ Sunday! Who'll win? Poll. Vote!; plus Charlotte mocks Heat fans, LeBron's b-day words for Wade, IOC's 'anti-American' ruling & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 19. Marlins avoid arbitration with Giancarlo Stanton, sign him to one-year, $6.5 million deal. Smart for both sides. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins hire Lazor as OC with poll, Lauren Tannehill's gun, Heat lose 3rd straight as Oden debuts, LeBroning, Heat White House visit, Clark the Cub & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Click on Super Sunday Twice for today's column by me previewing the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Also click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes-column package leading with the Heat. 

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFF PIX: 2 GAMES, 2 UPSETS. OY!: The NFL delivers us Champ Sunday, the best day of football of all. Start with Patriots-Broncos and the 15th edition of Tom 1aa1fripix 1aa1afcnfccgBrady vs. Peyton Manning. Continue with 49ers-Seahawks and the best and most brutal rivalry in the sport. Delicious! Betting odds portend a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl. But I'm predicting a 49ers-Patriots SB with road-'dog upets in both the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Click on Playoff Championship Gems for the expanded prediction capsules on both games. Our usual Friday Page NFL column previewing Sunday's games will appear this week in Sunday's paper (Saturday online). Meantime, I'm curious how many of you agree with me that both Sunday games will be upsets. (I doubt many). Tell me in this poll. This is not asking who you want to win but who you predict will. Vote, say why and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Niners-Seahawks preview from Taiwan: Click HERE for a short Taiwanese animation video on the NFC title game. Strangely, it all makes sense to me.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS MOCK HEAT FANS: Charlotte's arena played a scoreboard video mocking "bandwagon" Heat fans during last night's game, a Miami win. The club has since removed from YouTube the video that meant to embarrass the Heat but embarrassed the home team instead. Seriously, Charlotte? Really!? Yours is one of the worst franchises in sports history. You are in a position to mock no one about anything.

LEBRON'S BIRTHDAY MESSAGE TO D.WADE: Dwyane Wade turns 32 today and Heat teammate LeBron James posted a photo collage of the two of them on Instagram along with this message, shaded 1aa1heat2and verbatim: "Happy Bday to my running mate, homie, brother, and most of all straight up friend! The friendship we've created our rookie year at pre draft camp was pure and that's why we stuck together from that point on! Obviously didn't know we would eventually become teammates and do the things we've done so far. I came to Miami for 2 reasons. To play with U and to win championships and I can't thank u enough for the sacrifice you've made since I arrived homie! No matter what happens in the future we stuck together like brothers for life. And no matter what they say, u still a BAD Mutha-Shut-Yo-Mouth out there on that court! @dwyanewade. Oh almost forgot u old as dirt! Boy you look 40. Hahaha! #TreyBallBDay #YouASuckaOnYoBDay" That's not friendship you can fake. That's real. The chilling part for Heat fans: "No matter what happens in the future..." 

IN DEFENSE OF OLYMPICS' 'ANTI-AMERICAN' RULING: The International Olympic Committee told U.S. women's hockey goalie Jessie Vetter she can't wear her stylized helmet with the words 'We The People' (pictured) during the upcoming Sochi Games. The immediate reaction of any patriotic American might be 1aa1vetterhelmetrighteous indignation, but wait a second. The IOC has a rule against athletes engaging in all forms of "publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise," which makes sense and must be broadly applied to have any weight. Do I personally consider quoting from the preamble of the Consitution to be a play for publicity or to be propaganda? No and no. But it's a short leap from 'We the People' to 'In God We Trust' to 'Right to Bear Arms' to 'Viva Fidel' to 'Pro-Choice' to 'Support Gay Rights' to 'Run Hillary Run!' to 'Hi Mom' to 'Yankees Suck.' You get me? Better to not allow any sort of "statement," however benign, than to have to decide what's OK and isn't from a proliferation of them. Me, I think what it stands for makes 'We The People' one of the greatest phrases ever, but in the context of an international gathering, it is a poltical statement. I do think the Olympics can be a platform to espouse free expression. For example, I encourage U.S. Olympic athletes to criticize host Russia's anti-gay law in interviews if they are of a mind. But I can also see why literally wearing a message on one's sleeve (or hockey helmet) during competition might be prohibited.

Poll result: Broad support for Lazar as new Dolphins' O.C.: Call it Bill Lazor's first win as a Dolphin. We asked in the last blogpost and you answered overwhelmingly in support of Miami hiring Lazor as offensive coordinator. Approval topped 90 percent with 46.7% "leaning favorable" on the hire and 44.5% "very favorable." Only 5.7% (leaning) and 3.1% (very) were unfavorable.

FINDING JEFF GILLOOLY: With the Winter Olympics near and a new documentary out on Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding, reporter Amy K. Nelson tracked down Jeff Gillooly, who infamously masterminded the knee-capping of Kerrigan on Harding's behalf. Gillooly is now Jeff Stone, living in Oregon. Fascinating piece. Read it HERE.

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