I'm moving!

I'm retiring my blog, but that doesn't mean I won't continue to share my Two Cents on the the world of sports with tampabay.com readers. You can find all of my commentary, rankings, lists and more here:

 http://www.tampabay.com/writers/tom-jones

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Thursday: Chat with Tom Jones, 12:30

Want to talk about the start of hockey season? The NFL playoffs? College basketball? Sports on TV/radio? Join Tom Jones for a live chat Thursday, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Can't make it? Leave a question in the "Comments'' area below, then check back afterward to replay the chat.

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Shooting from the lip/Jan. 14th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports

tebow.Best next analyst
There's already a buzz that if no NFL team is interested in Tim Tebow then he might be able to make the jump to television. Actually, the more likely scenario is Tebow would be willing to play a position other than quarterback if that's the only way he could stay in the league, and plenty of teams would be interested.

But let's just say he can't stay in football. Maybe ESPN could hire him. To make room, they could dump Merril Hoge.

Speaking of Tebow, you do realize he has won more playoff games than Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform, right?

vangundy.jpgMost entertaining attack
Please, Jeff Van Gundy, never take another coaching job. Don't hit the lottery. Don't go on a yearlong eat-pray-love trip to find yourself. Don't do anything except what you're doing right now. You need to be calling basketball games on TV the rest of your life.

ABC/ESPN's NBA analyst is already elite, and now he's starting to put distance between himself and every other sports commentator on television. Here's the latest from Van Gundy: …

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Dec. 20: Chat live with Tom Jones, 12:30

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Shooting from the lip/Dec. 10th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

army.Best coverage
The annual Army-Navy football game is one of sports' greatest traditions, although the game itself has lost a bit of its onfield pizzazz because of Navy's recent dominance. The Midshipmen won their 11th game in a row in the series Saturday.

But when you watch the pregame pageantry, you can't help but acknowledge just how special this game is. CBS did its usual splendid job covering Army-Navy more as an "event" than a "game.''The result of the game certainly matters to the teams and those who are and were in the military, but for the rest of us, Army-Navy is about those serving this country.

That sentiment was expressed perfectly before the game by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview with CBS’s Tracy Wolfson.

"Every year this game seems to get better and better,'' Dempsey said. "And I know (Army was 2-9 going into the game). But it's the spirit of the game and the way that spirit defines us as a military. … It's really about the soul of the military.'' …

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Shooting from the lip/Dec. 3rd edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

chiefs.Strongest comments
The story of the weekend was the tragedy in Kansas City, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shooting and killing the mother of his child and then driving to Arrowhead Stadium and killing himself.

The NFL made the decision to play Sunday's Chiefs-Panthers game as scheduled, and it appears the league took its cue from the Chiefs, who wanted to go forward with the game.

Was it the right call? Personally, I don't think so. This is bigger than the Chiefs. Out of respect for Kasandra Perkins, the 22-year-old woman killed, as well as sending a message that some things should take precedence over football, I think the league should have postponed the game until a later date. Then again, I'm not a Kansas City player, and I didn't lose anyone close to me Saturday.

carter.jpgMany analysts weighed in on the topic Sunday, but no one was more compelling that ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown analyst and former player Cris Carter:

"One of my best friends, my roommate Jerome Brown, died in a car accident (in 1992). Philadelphia Eagle, great player, great person. … I was in the league (for) 9/11, and I didn't think we should play. And we didn't play. …

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Shooting from the lip/Nov. 26th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

suh.Strongest comment
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a heck of a player. A heck of a jerk, too. Seems we can't go more than a few games without Suh doing something dirty. The latest incident was kicking Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin on Thanksgiving Day -- the second straight Turkey Day that Suh used his foot against an opposing player.

Even worse, perhaps, than facing punishment by the league, Suh has lost the respect of many who played the game. That includes CBS NFL Today analyst Boomer Esiason, who laid into Suh.

"This is supposed to be a brotherhood,'' Esiason said. "You're supposed to have respect for one another. Bruce Smith, I could always shake his hand. Reggie White, I could always shake his hand after a game. I would never shake this guy's hand because, once again, he has crossed over the line, and it's obvious it was on purpose.'' …

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Shooting from the lip/Nov. 12th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

martin.Best praise
How fun to finally see the Bucs get attention from the national media. Over the past couple of seasons they have been ignored by the networks, and you can certainly understand why. Not only were they bad last season, they were, worse yet, boring.

But after a solid start to the 2012 season, the Bucs are getting noticed. CBS made the Bucs a big part of its pregame show, sending Bill Cowher in to do a feature on coach Greg Schiano and his team.

Meantime, after his 251-yard rushing game, Doug Martin has become the talk and toast of the NFL.

"Doug Martin is an every-down back, and we don't have many in the NFL,'' analyst Marshall Faulk said on the NFL Network's GameDay Morning. "With Vincent Jackson and Josh Freeman, they have their triplets.''

Best prediction
Talking about the Falcons-Saints game, ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown analyst Mike Ditka said: "I can see the Saints pulling off an upset. They've got to outscore them. Their defense is not going to stop Atlanta’s offense.''

Ditka was right all the way around as the Saints beat the Falcons 31-27. …

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Shooting from the lip/Nov. 5th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

sandy.Saddest fact
Mike Ditka of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown was trying to say the right thing, so I'm not jumping on him, exactly.

But in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Ditka said, "One great thing about sport in the history of our country: It's an outlet. … So for 2½, three hours today, it's going to be football as usual, life as usual. I wrote down one thing: Life doesn't stop after a disaster like this, but it sure slows down a lot.''

As much as I'd like to think that sports is a great diversion from a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, it really isn't. Ultimately, those most affected by disasters and tragedies can't find a diversion in anything, including sports.

Like I said, Ditka was trying to say the right thing, and sports ultimately do help us return to a sense of normalcy after something tragic. But to suggest that sports erase the awful things in life, even for a couple of hours, just isn't true.

rg3.Most brow-raising comment
The NFL Network's Sterling Sharpe spouted off about comparisons between Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. …

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Shooting from the lip

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

danielson.Best coverage
Saturday's Florida-Georgia game wasn't the best-played college football game ever. Actually, it was a dog with both teams playing sloppily.

But CBS's broadcast was superb. Leading that charge was analyst Gary Danielson, who had his best day of the season. Danielson's analysis was spot-on all day, and he was excellent in his anticipation.

His finest moment: In the first quarter, Danielson noticed how a Georgia defensive end crashed toward the running back on a quarterback option play. Danielson pointed out that Gators QB Jeff Driskel could have had a big run if he had held on to the ball and to look for that play later in the game.

Sure enough, in the fourth quarter, Driskel held the ball, that same end crashed the middle, and the quarterback raced for a 20-yard run.

Danielson also had the best line of the weekend. When talking about whether or not a play should be reversed on a video replay, Danielson talked about the different philosophies of replay officials: "Sometimes,'' Danielson said, "they won't overturn anything unless it's obvious to 10 guys in a bar.'' …

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Wednesday: Chat with Tom Jones, 12:30

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Shooting from the lip/Oct. 22nd edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

buck.Best announcer
NBC's Al Michaels remains the best play-by-play announcer in the country, but Fox's Joe Buck is the most prominent. Michaels mostly does one thing: Sunday Night Football. But Buck has become not only the second-best NFL announcer, behind Michaels, but the best national play-by-play voice for baseball.

Here's how you know an announcer is at the top of his game: When you hear him, you immediately know you're watching a big event. When you hear Buck, you know that game is key, whether it's baseball or football.

Fox took criticism last week by giving Buck double duty on the same day. He called the Giants-49ers football game Sunday afternoon, then rushed across San Francisco to call the Cardinals-Giants National League Championship Series game that night. Sure, it was partly a publicity stunt, but that's fine. I wanted to hear Buck calling both games.

The cool thing is Buck was humble about it. "It's not like I was in the pentathlon,'' he told Sports Illustrated. "I just sat there and talked. It's cute for Fox, but beyond that, people just want to watch the game.''

Well said -- just like everything he says. …

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Shooting from the lip/Oct. 15th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

junior.Most ill-advised comment, Part I
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. sought medical help for a concussion last week, and that led to him being shut down for two races. Then driver Jeff Gordon said he hated to admit it but he probably would keep quiet if he had concussion symptoms so he could keep driving.

I suppose Gordon should be given credit for his honesty, and he's probably not the only driver who feels that way. However, Gordon needed to keep his mouth shut on this topic. Though he likely didn't intend to question Earnhardt or suggest drivers should keep injuries quiet, that's the way he came off. Earnhardt should be praised, especially because his concussion issues affect his fellow drivers as well. If I was a driver, I'd be a little nervous driving 180 mph next to Gordon, knowing he would go out there even when he didn't feel well. …

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Shooting from the lip/Oct. 8th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

valentine.Worst idea
A year ago, Terry Francona was fired as manager of the Red Sox and ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine was hired to replace him. That left an opening in the ESPN booth, and it was filled by none other than Francona.

Well, now that Valentine has been fired by the Red Sox and Francona hired by the Indians, you might think Valentine can just slide back into his role at ESPN.

That would be a mistake by ESPN.

Valentine's embarrassing tenure with the Red Sox shot a major hole in his credibility with baseball fans. The hole is so big that fans likely wouldn’t believe much of what he said on television.

Look, Valentine knows baseball and can communicate with an audience. But his season in Boston was way more than just a losing one. It was a train wreck. He criticized players, fought with the media and even threw his coaching staff under the bus, suggesting it undermined him.
Most of all, Valentine came off as unlikable. …

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NFL Network coming to Bright House

nfl.

The NFL and Time Warner, which handles negotiations for Bright House, reached a deal Friday after what was, essentially, a nine-year standoff since the network first launched in 2003.

The network will appear on digital channel 183 and in HD on 1145 and there will be no extra charge to Bright House subscribers, according to Bright House spokesman Joe Durkin.

The NFL Network is a 24-hour station run by the NFL and dedicated to the NFL. While it shows replays of games, as well as highlight, analysis and pre- and post-game shows, the biggest thing fans care about are games.

The network is carrying an expanded set of games this season, 13 primetime regular-season games on Thursday nights. Arena games, college bowl games and the NFL Combine also are televised by the NFL Network.

All Bright House subscribers should have the NFL Network in time for next live game — Thursday’s broadcast between the Ravens and Browns. …

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