With help from Gatorade, Eli, and LT, TSR spends a day in the life of an athlete

“Do you guys want to play Foosball?”

“Sure, sounds cool.”

“All right, it’ll be LT and me versus you two.”

There I was, in a trendy New York City building in SoHo, lined up across from a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer ready to play Foosball. While I tried to remember the last time I played the table game, flashbulbs started to go off around me as the ball was dropped into play.

This is going to be an interesting night, I thought to myself.

After years of it only being available to college and pro athletes, the sports nutrition leader Gatorade is set to release “G Series Pro” to the public. The beverage line, which is designed to help elite athletes perform at their top level before, during and after practice or competition, will be available at GNC stores nationwide starting on May 1.

To help launch the new “G Series Pro” product line, Gatorade held a get together in Manhattan on April 13. Along with an exclusive group of media members, in attendance that night were Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, Jets’ running back LaDainian Tomlinson, as well LT’s new teammates, offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson and receiver Jerrico Cotchery.

“What are you doing, man?” I barked at my Foosball teammate Kyle (another member from the media) after he allowed Tomlinson to score two quick goals to send us to an early 2-0 deficit. “You’re killing us with your play!”

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The top five best, worst and most improved offensive lines in the NFL

There’s a secret that most good fantasy football owners don’t want you to know: Knowing how good (or how bad) an offensive line is could be the difference between you making the playoffs in your league, and winning the whole damn thing.

The bottom line is that the offensive line is the key to whether or not an offense is going to be successful in any given season. They’re the reason why guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brews are able to rack up terrific passing yards year in and year out, and why Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner and Adrian Peterson continue to be solid fantasy backs. So knowing which O-lines are quality and which act like revolving doors to their team’s backfield will give you an edge on draft day.

Below is a ranking of the top five best lines, the top five most improved lines and the top five worst lines in the NFL heading into the ’09 season. Use these rankings as a tool to help you make better decisions on draft day and to also aid you when you’re stuck between a couple of players in later rounds.

Granted, we’re not advocating bumping certain players to the top of your pre-draft rankings just based on these rankings. The Lions offensive line is the worst in football, but if Kevin Smith is there for the taking in the 5th round, by all means jump on him. This article is purely meant to be a helpful aid; obviously you still have to use solid judgment on draft day.

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Bill Cowher turns down Jets

Jet fans hoping that the firing of Eric Mangini would lead to the hiring of Bill Cowher will be disappointed to know that the former Steelers head coach will not be in green and white next year.

Bill CowherFormer Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who rejected a chance to become head coach of the Browns last weekend, is not going to interview for the head coaching position of the New York Jets, according to multiple sources.

Cowher, according to a source, has been contacted by the Jets. Although he is interested in the Jets job, he told the team he would not be a candidate because he would like to bring in his own personnel director. Jets owner Woody Johnson plans to keep Mike Tannenbaum as his general manager after firing Eric Mangini as head coach Monday.

With Tannenbaum as the general manager, Cowher is willing to pass on the Jets opportunity, stay in broadcasting for another year and wait to return to coaching in 2010.

Cowher has told friends the Jets job interested him for several reasons. First, Cowher would love to coach in the New York market. Second, two of his daughters are either going to school or working in the New York-New Jersey area.

Cowher does plan to coach in 2010. In 2009, though, he was only willing to return if every situation was right for him. He wanted to have a two-year break from coaching to be with family and recharge.

I think several hundred Jet fans just dove head first off the Hudson Bridge.

Maybe Johnson can convince Tannenbaum to take another position within the front office and then give Cowher complete control. Although to be fair, Tennenbaum has landed D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Leon Washington in recent drafts, so he’s not a complete dud as a general manager. (Of course his latest first round pick, Vernon Gholston, looks like a complete bust considering he was inactive for most of the season because he can’t learn the playbook.)

The Jets will probably wind up with one of the hot coordinators considering they already have a GM. Like Cowher, one would think that Marty Schottenheimer would want complete control as well, so I bet he passes on the Jets too if offered the position.

UPDATE: The Daily News is reporting that Cowher and the Jets will now sit down to discuss the team’s head coaching vacancy. There’s hope yet Jet fans.

Jets’ offensive line key to playoff hopes

In the weeks leading up to the kickoff the 2008 NFL Season, I’ll take a look at position groups that could potentially lift teams to new heights, or bury them and their postseason hopes. Today I take a look at how the play of the offensive line can affect the New York Jets playoff hopes.

Obviously Brett Favre is going to dominate the headlines in New York this fall, but the Jets’ playoff aspirations are going to rest more on their offensive line than Favre’s cannon right arm.

In the 2006 NFL Draft, much to the dismay of some of their fans, the Jets selected monster offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson instead of a potential franchise quarterback in Matt Leinart. With their second pick in the first round (acquired from Denver via Atlanta), New York took former Ohio State center Nick Mangold.

Head coach Eric Mangini was making a point. He knew that without a solid offensive line, it wouldn’t matter who he lined up under center.

Ferguson and Mangold went on to have productive rookie seasons, but the entire line under performed in 2007 and the Jets sunk to a 4-12 record. Quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens struggled, while running back Thomas Jones (acquired from Chicago during the offseason) was largely ineffective.

This offseason, the Jets doled out $40 million, with $21 million in guaranteed money to sign former Steelers’ guard Alan Faneca. New York hopes the former Pro Bowler Faneca will get the underachieving Ferguson and Mangold to play to their high expectations again in 2008.

Also this offseason, the Jets signed free agent right tackle Damien Woody, formerly of the Lions. While Woody was largely a bust in Detroit because of weight issues and is coming off shoulder surgery, he’s a small upgrade over 2007 starter Anthony Clement. Joining Woody on the right side is Brandon Moore, who returns as the Jets’ starting right guard.

If the Jets can get better production out of their offensive line in 2008, it’s hard to imagine a productive runner like Jones will struggle again like he did last season. And it’s no secret that if Favre has time, he’ll pick a defense apart with his incredible release and accuracy. Despite their poor 2007 season, the Jets have enough talent to win this year. But the play of the offensive line is going to be the key in whether or not this team can battle for a Wild Card spot in a tough AFC.

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