2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Wait a minute: Words of caution for joyful Avs hockey fans

    Thu, October 31, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Suddenly, the Colorado Avalanche is relevant again after spending the past few seasons wandering through seasons without many friends in our state.

    After a 10-1 start, the Avs are again cool and Pepsi Center is a happy destination on game nights. Hiring Patrick Roy appears to have been a genius move.

    But …

    Let’s not get too excited.

    Why?

    Let’s look at recent Colorado sports history.

    The 2009 Denver Broncos raced to a 6-0 start under the direction of 33-year-old Josh McDaniels, who seemed destined to become The Boy Wonder.

    We all know how the McDaniels experiment turned out. Boy Wonder turned into Boy Blunder. The Broncos lost six of their last eight to finish 8-8, and McDaniels was soon gone.

    The 2006 Broncos won six of their first eight and looked ready to travel to the Super Bowl. They lost five of their last eight and missed the playoffs.

    And, more recently, the 2013 Colorado Rockies bolted to a 13-4 and as summer approached it seemed Coors Field would be filled with fans and wins.

    The Rockies blundered to a 61-84 record after the fast start with manager Walt Weiss looking about as wise and knowing as departed manager Jim Tracy.

     

  • Farewell to Allen Iverson. Former Denver Nugget revolutionized basketball, for better and for worse

    Wed, October 30, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Allen Iverson is both overrated and underrated.

    He is overrated as a player.

    I’d see he had scored 30 points, and then look at the box score. He had scored 30 points mainly because he had launched 30 shots.

    In 2001-2002, one of his finest seasons with the 76ers, Iverson averaged 31.4 points per game. But he shot only 39.8 percent from the field.

    And yet …

    He is underrated as a basketball revolutionary. Iverson ranks alongside Julius Erving, Connie Hawkins, David Thompson, Dominique Wilkins and a very few others as a basketball showman.

    He could score on anyone, but Iverson’s greatest strength also was his greatest weakness. He believed no one could stop him, believed he could make any shot. Didn’t matter if five defenders surrounded him. He was going to shoot. And he shot far too much.

    Iverson said goodbye to basketball on Wednesday in a largely ceremonial retirement announcement in Philadelphia. He showed up for the show in a black leather hoodie, black cap and gold chain. Typical Iverson.

    “”I always felt like it was cool being me,” Iverson said.

    I first saw Iverson in person when he was a freshman at Georgetown. He was listed at 6-foot, 160 pounds. He was not 6-foot, and he might have weighed 155. He was the quickest thing I had ever seen on a basketball court. He remains the quickest thing I have ever seen.

    There are all kinds of ifs when it comes to Iverson.

    If he had ever embraced the role of true point guard instead of embracing the rapid-fire approach.

    If he had ever seized control of his have-fun-all-night lifestyle.

    If he had been 6-foot-2,  190.

    If he had understood the idea of disciplined shot selection.

    But there is no if about this:

    Allen Iverson played basketball his way. He didn’t listen to coaches or teammates or fans. He listened only to his own voice.

     

  • Bronco Ronnie Hillman’s career now in severe jeopardy because of fumbles

    Mon, October 21, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    It’s been lonely. For months, I’ve been one of the three of four Ronnie Hillman supporters in the state of Colorado.

    After Hillman’s fumble Sunday night against the Colts, there might not be any Hillman supporters in our state.

    It was a huge mistake. The Broncos had momentum and millions upon millions of TV watchers were feeling the same thing I was feeling:

    Peyton Manning is going to find a way to win this one.

    Then Hillman fumbled. Then the Broncos chances all went away.

    Hillman seized my attention when he shredded Air Force’s defense in two dazzling performances. He ran with surprising power inside. He ran with speed and imagination and deception when he went outside.

    I saw him as a solid NFL player. A little undersized, for sure, but on his way to a 10-season career anyway.

    Trouble is, he can’t hang on to the ball. He fumbled repeatedly in exhibition games, sending him tumbling on the depth chart.

    He’s teetering now. He can’t be trusted with the football.

    A running back has a tough gig. Eli Manning, Peyton’s little brother, is on pace to throw 30 interceptions this season, but he remains the Giants starter. Quarterbacks can make dozens of crucial mistakes and still retain their reputation as daring, care-free gunslingers.

    Running backs have no  such margin for error. Fumble and you’re done. A running back carries his career, quite literally, in his hands each time he heads into a mass of tacklers.

    Hillman fumbled on Sunday night. He might have fumbled his career, too.

     

  • Irsay’s remarks about Manning aren’t ‘cheap.’ Irsay’s remarks are the truth

    Wed, October 16, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Colts owner Jim Irsay wishes he owned more than one Super Bowl ring, especially considering his Colts traveled to the playoffs 11 times under Peyton Manning’s direction.

    Broncos coach John Fox, sticking up for his quarterback, says Irsay’s words are a “little bit of a cheap shot.”

    Hate to disagree, John, but Irsay’s words were this:

    The truth.

    We are again witnessing Manning’s utter mastery on the football field, but we are again witnessing this mastery during the regular season. Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback in NFL history.

    In the playoffs?

    Not so much. He’s struggled to eight one-and-dones in the playoffs, including last season’s defeat to the Baltimore Ravens.

    Why does Manning destroy everything in front of him during the regular season and then struggle, season after season, in the playoffs? This struggle is one of football history’s great mysteries. 

    This mystery long troubled Irsay. It still troubles him.

    “We’ve changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these,” Irsay told USA Today as he held up his Super Bowl ring. “(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these. Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated. You make the playoffs 11 times, and you’re out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this.”

    Irsay then help up his Super Bowl ring again.

    Fox called Irsay’s words, “disappointing and inappropriate … They sounded a little ungrateful to me.”

    Notice Fox did not call the words inaccurate.

    I’ve read some of sports writing colleagues sputter about Irsay’s words. One of those colleagues wondered how Irsay could imply that Brady is more of a winner than Manning.

    Maybe it’s because Brady is more of a winner than Manning.

    This story is not over. Manning can silence all doubters and skeptics and critics – including one named Irsay – this season. The Broncos are headed to the playoffs, a destination that has so often frustrated Manning.

     

  • What exactly did Weiss do to keep his job with the Rockies?

    Tue, October 15, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    If you want to keep your job, get hired by the Colorado Rockies. Walt Weiss led the Rockies on a second-half collapse. He lost 52 of 81 games on the road. He finished 14 games under .500.

    He was handed a new 3-year contract on Tuesday.

    Is Weiss the man to lead the Rockies out of their long slumber?

    Maybe.

    But he didn’t show much talent in the art of awakening this season. He was on a one-season audition to keep his job as Rockies manager. His previous managing job was at Regis Jesuit High School.

    You might think a 74-88 finish would have been a failure of that audition. But you don’t own the Rockies.

     

  • Expect Navy-Air Force game to be close. Here’s why

    Fri, October 4, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Navy is a 14-point favorite to defeat Air Force in Saturday’s football game. Yes, that football game that almost didn’t happen.

    That spread is too high.

    Here’s why:

    In the past five games between Air Force and Navy, the largest margin of victory was eight points. Three games have been decided in overtime. Navy has scored 117 total points. Air Force has scored 110.

    In other words, expect a close game. Yes, I realize the Falcons have allowed 195 points in their past games. Still think this will be close game.

     

  • Does Air Force’s football team stand a chance in Saturday’s clash with Navy?

    Fri, October 4, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    What kind of chance does Air Force have to grab a victory in Saturday’s clash with Navy? You know, the game that almost didn’t happen.

    Air Force has surrendered 195 points in the past four games. Meanwhile, Navy rolled to 92 points in impressive victories over Indiana and Delaware.

    Can Air Force resurrect its season here in Maryland?

    Let me know what you think.

     

     

  • Karson Roberts faces a big test … if Air Force plays Navy on Saturday

    Wed, October 2, 2013 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Karson Roberts delivered a superlative debut as Air Force’s quarterback on Saturday in a loss at Nevada. He directed Air Force’s complex option attack with expertise. He ran with authority. He passed when he had to pass.

    But Nevada has a recent history of having barely a clue against Air Force

    Roberts big test will be this weekend at Navy. And, yes, I realize that test might not even take place.

    Navy’s defense knows all about option attacks. Navy’s defense sees a run first, run second offense every day in practice.

    Don’t get me wrong. Roberts has a chance to revive Air Force’s teetering season. He did everything he needed to do for the Falcons to win at Nevada.

    This test will be much more brutal. Roberts began the season as Air Force’s third-string quarterback. He placed 42 points on the board against Nevada. He’s shown promise.

    On Saturday – if this game happens – we’ll see if he can make good on his promises.