NFL Week 5 MVP, COY and ROY power rankings

You think it’s hard to predict the games and standings from week to week? Try picking MVP candidates. There are five or six different candidates emerging every week. We’ll do this as one post again today and start separating them out next week. And I’m sure by this time Tuesday everything will be turned upside down again. Enjoy the games today everyone!

MVP Power Rankings

1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles—He didn’t play last week and yet the Eagles still won, but barely, on the road in San Fran. Against a team that still hasn’t won a game yet. And hence my case is made again. And when Kolb and the Eagles lose at home to the Falcons today, fans in Philly will be chanting Vick’s name, which will have made my case again.

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Darius Rucker has an End Zone Obsession…and he’d like to share it with you

Not that there aren’t already plenty of places on the World Wide Web where you can go to make weekly football picks, but if you’re one of the millions of people who have owned and loved Hootie and the Blowfish’s album Cracked Rear View, then it might just behoove you to offer a cursory click onto Darius Rucker’s End Zone Obsession.*

End Zone Obsession originated out of an attempt by Rucker and his “people” to figure out a more exciting way to interact with his fans, and when the talk turned to football, Rucker knew they’d hit on an idea that had serious potential. Soon, web designers were hard at work, putting together an easy-to-use site that would allow Rucker and his fans to pick the winners and losers for each week of the NFL season.

“People have been challenging me, and I’ve pretty much accepted every challenge,” said Rucker. “Last week, everybody was talking trash before the weekend, and then I won, ‘cause I picked every game right. So I was on this morning, doing the trash-talking. I’m telling them, ‘Guess you’ve got to do better next week!’”

As Rucker is a diehard Miami fan, this interview obviously took place prior to the Dolphins having been blown out of the water by the Patriots, but it’s not as though his tune will have changed as a result. Clearly, it’s far too late for that now…

* Rucker officially became a Miami Dolphins fan on January 16, 1972. “The Dolphins are playing the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, and I’m in the house with all my cousins. My two aunts are there. There’s, like, 14 kids, and every kid in there, everybody in my whole family, is pulling for the Cowboys. I decided that day that I was pulling for the Dolphins…and I remember crying when the Dolphins lost at the end. But the next year, I started playing little league football, and ever since then I’ve loved the game.”

* He has a piece of swag that would make any Dolphins fan drool. “The very first Miami Dolphins game I ever got to go to, it was a Monday night game against the Steelers back in ’94, and I got to sing the National Anthem. After that game, Dan Marino took his jersey off and gave it to his assistant and had it framed for me, and that is my favorite piece of paraphernalia that I got. I’ve lived in my house for 12 years, and my decorator laughed at me when I moved in, because that jersey was up in the house before anything else could enter.”

* There has only ever been one occasion when his devotion to Miami has wavered. “When I heard that Dave Wannstedt told Dan Marino that he thought that he had a better chance to win with Jay Fiedler than him, I really thought about switching my alliances, because I thought we had the dumbest coach that had ever coached a game of football.”

Given Rucker’s dedication to the Dolphins, he’s not afraid to admit that you can always count on him to make the same selection on End Zone Obsession week after week after week.

“I’m talking to my assistant yesterday, I’m making my picks, and he goes, ‘What do you think about the Dolphins game?’ And I said, ‘Dude, I’m picking the Dolphins sixteen times in a row.’ I can guarantee you that. I’ll be picking the Dolphins sixteen times in a row. And it’s not, like, I’m thinking in my heart, ‘Oh, well, I’ve got to pick the Dolphins.’ I truly believe they’re going to win.”

* For the record, yes, we do know that Rucker has not only continued to record well beyond Hootie’s aforementioned 1994 album but, indeed, has been shifting mass country-music units for the past several years as a solo artist, thanks to such hit singles as “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” “It Won’t Be Like This for Long, and “Alright.” But, damn, man, Cracked Rear View went platinum sixteen times over. I think that still warrants being cited as his predominant accomplishment, don’t you?

Hot Stove League: Lots of little movement

You know it’s a slow week in MLB again when the big news is that Jeff Kent has announced his retirement. And just like Kent does with ease himself, the news stirred up controversy. This volatile player has never quite been a media darling, and has often gotten into it with teammates. But there is now debate about the guy’s Hall of Fame credentials. Okay, he may have the most homers for a second baseman in history, but you can’t tell me this guy is in the same class as a guy like Joe Morgan. He’s just not. And while a .290 career batting average is nothing to sneeze at, 377 homers over 20 years is not exactly Babe Ruth-esque.

Anyway, as Manny Ramirez remains unemployed, there were a few other smaller signings and moves this past week….

Okay, this isn’t small but just announced on Friday, Prince Fielder has agreed to a 2-year, $18 million deal with the Brewers that will keep him firmly entrenched (and who could move the guy?) on first base in Milwaukee through 2010. I’m glad for the Brew Crew since they lost out to the mighty Yankees in the CC sweepstakes.

Catcher Gregg Zaun re-signed with the Orioles, the team that drafted him back in 1989. The journeyman player signed a deal worth $1.5 million with a $2 million option for 2010.

The Phillies signed outfielder Jayson Werth to a two-year, $10 million contract and also inked reliever Chad Durbin to a one-year deal worth $1.635 million.

Young right fielder Nick Markakis of the Orioles came to terms on a six-year, $66.1 million deal, covering his first three arbitration-eligible years as well as his first three free agency eligible seasons. Clearly the O’s believe in this kid and want to keep him away from the Yankees and Red Sox.

Two other catchers signed this week—Brad Ausmus reached agreement with the Dodgers on a 1-year, $1 million deal; and Henry Blanco signed a $750,000 deal for one year to back up Padres’ catcher Nick Hundley.

Shortstop Omar Vizquel, who at 41 still looks like he’s 25, has been invited to spring training by the Texas Rangers. Vizquel signed a minor league deal that will allow him to mentor 20-year old Elvis Andrus, and to possibly become the team’s utility infielder. In order to make room for Andrus on the field, the Rangers are planning to move all-star shortstop Michael Young to third base. In addition, the Rangers are said to be casually wooing free agent pitcher Ben Sheets, who lives in Dallas.

Meanwhile, Tom Covill of Yahoo Sports posted this great summary of the remaining big name free agents still looking for work. It’s really kind of mind-boggling, but looking at these tiny deals being signed this past week, it’s clearly about economics and nothing more.

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