Athlete Development

  • Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald recently allowed Yahoo! Sports the chance to see a glimpse of his unusual, but highly effective training techniques. The All-Pro wideout incorporates track and field, plyometrics and other training styles into his routine. While they are intense, the numbers don’t lie: according to, Fitzgerald has totaled more than 600 receptions and 8,000 yards to go with 65 TDs since 2004. Oh, and he’s only missed four games and fumbled a whopping five times during that same span. [Larry Fitzgerald: Elite Athlete of the Week]
  • If all QBs aren’t created equal, then why should they continue to be graded as if they are? This week, ESPN launched a new QB rating system. Led by former NFL QB and Super Bowl XXXV champ Trent Dilfer, ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (TQR) measures the overall effectiveness of a team’s signal-caller. My opinion: this new rating will be a major upgrade from the current QB Rating. TQR accounts for other factors besides yards, touchdowns and interceptions: decision-making, how many sacks a QB takes, 3rd & 4th down conversions and more. If ESPN’s TQR becomes a hit on Monday Night Football, expect it to trickle down to other NFL broadcast providers (Fox, CBS) and perhaps the NCAA. [Total Quarterback Rating Shifts the Way We See the Position]
  • On the ESPN program, Outside The Lines, the subject of high school 7-on-7 football leagues was discussed. These summer leagues, similar to summer clubs track and field or AAU basketball, are becoming more prevalent. The collegiate governing body and high school coaches are concerned that these leagues may become opportunities for major NCAA violations. While the benefit for a high school athlete would be more chances for development and exposure, the cost for the NCAA, as well as high coaches, appears too steep, as agents, scouts and other individuals affiliated with college football programs may use these teams as illegal pipelines.  [7-on-7 High School Football Draws Scrutiny of NCAA, High School Coaches Over Fears of Third Party Influence]
  • Washington Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg had such a great start to his career last season: his starts were so good for an underperforming Washington squad that they were named “Strasmas." Yet, unfortunately the pitching holiday season, and Strasburg’s, were cut short when the rookie suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Now, the human strikeout film himself started his 1st rehab start in 11 months. The former No. 1 overall pick appeared sharp, striking out four and allowing one run in 1 and 2/3 innings of work for the Class A Hagerstown Suns. While he has yet to return to the majors, a lot of credit is due to the Nationals for being patient and making sure their ace of the future is fully healed before returning. [Stephen Strasburg Looks Sharp In Return]
  • With the NFL becoming the 1st of the “Big Four” American sports to have random testing for HGH, a popular new drug may make the testing more difficult to track. Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), a chemical found in deer antlers, has been used for healing by ancient Asian cultures. While the chemical is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and all major sports, it’s one form of HGH that is currently untraceable by the tests administered by MLB, and those soon to be implemented by the NFL. While the HGH testing included in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement was a step in the right direction, IGF-1 may have pushed its impact back a couple of steps. [Deer Antler Supplements Might be a Major Challenge for Pro Sports' Drug Policies]
  • It is no secret that collegiate sports have reached a tipping point, one marred by NCAA violations, dismissals of several high-profile coaches and unprecedented sanctions. In that vein, presidents of NCAA colleges and universities met at a retreat on reform. At this meeting a proposal was made to allow individual conferences to determine the length and amount of the scholarships each college sports program will offer its student-athletes. While this idea could potentially decrease, or perhaps even eliminate, the incentive for college athletes to seek illegal means of income, it may have the equal chance to increase the level of illegal involvement of third parties: boosters, agents, managers, etc. Either way, one thing’s for certain: the NCAA and its governing of college sports must change. [NCAA Presidents Discuss Scholarship Terms at Retreat]
  • Kansas City Chiefs DE Tamba Hali recently signed a new deal, making sure he will be terrorizing QBs in the AFC West for years to come. The former PSU great inked a 5-year, $60 million contract (with $35 million guaranteed), after leading the AFC with 14.5 sacks last season. The 6-year pro has steadily improved his defensive stats and his Pro Bowl year was vital in transforming the Chiefs defense from among the bottom of the NFL to one of the league’s up-and-coming units. Kansas City defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is certainly excited to have Hali back. When asked if he was satisfied with his pass-rush, he said “"No! Tamba's not here yet!" Crennel added, "Soon as Tamba gets here, my pass-rush will improve."  [Tamba Hali, Chiefs Agree to 5 Year, $60M Deal, Source Says]
Human Relations
  • It's never too early to pursue your dreams. Ask Leonel Angel Coira. Real Madrid recently signed the 7-year-old wonder kid to a deal, which will allow Coira to develop and eventually assume the role of the perennial champion team’s best player, a title now currently occupied by forward Christiano Ronaldo. This raises a ton of questions about the unfair expectations being placed on young sports stars so early in their careers. [Real Madrid Signs 7-Year-Old Argentine Boy]
  • This week’s “Never Say Die” athlete of the week has to be South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. The 26-year-old double-amputee sprinter was chosen to represent his country in the 400 meters at the World Championships later this month. Pistorius will become the first amputee to run at the World Championships, nearly a year after failing to qualify at last year’s World Championships. In addition, Pistorius will run in the 4x400 meter relay and has already qualified for the 2012 Olympics in London. [Amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa To Run 400 Meters at Worlds