Drew Smith

Welcome Back Tiger!

March 16th, 2010 at 9:51 pm by under Sports

    With Tiger Woods announcement that he is going to play the Masters, there is only one thing that I thought: Finally!

    I know Tiger has lost a lot in the eyes of the public, and deservedly so.  He’s a cheater, womanizer, a cad, and a maybe even a misogynist to a certain extent.  That being said, I never looked towards him for marital advice or as a familial role model.   I didn’t even care what type of clothing he wore, razor he shaved with, car he drove, drink he drank or where he invested his money.  I only wanted, and still want, one thing from Tiger: to watch him play golf.

     Entertainment.  That is the only thing that Tiger is good for to me.  I could care less what his personal life it like, as long as I get to see him work his magic in a final round and win another major championship.  It’s not that I give his personal life a pass, it’s just that it doesn’t affect how I watch the sport. 

     I cover athletes for a living, and the stories I hear that I can’t report would make your hair stand on end, and ruin your faith in many well known players.  Not all of them are the same, but enough are like Tiger for me to ignore the entire group as people I look up to for how to live my life.  I think Charles Woodson is cool (see my other blog post) but I’m not taking cues from him how to act.  I just enjoy the cool.  With Tiger, I enjoy the golfing drama.

      Woods belongs on the golf course for him to matter.   When he finally gets back, I will be happy to see him, and I hope he’s as good as he was before he left.  I’m just in it for the entertainment.


The One thing I hate about the Olympics

March 1st, 2010 at 3:52 pm by under Sports

   I love the Olympics.  I get into every single part of the games.  From the opening ceremony to the closing, I watch as much as I possibly can.  If it’s the winter, I’ll watch Denmark vs. Norway in curling, check out the finals of the 5,000 speedskating between the Netherlands and Italy, and all of the events in between.  However, as a broadcaster, I sometimes have to watch between fingers draped over my eyes while shouting at the TV, not because of the competition, but because of the quality of the broadcast.

    I know this is something that may only interest me, but as I have watched the hours of television produced by NBC for these Olympics, I have come to realize that two things- competition flow and game day directing- must be at a premium, because the network doesn’t seem to have a high enough opinion of either to make the games as enjoyable experience as I think it could be.

     First of all let’s talk competition.  I get how the network, which says it is losing money on the Games (though not as much as “The Marriage Ref” will lose.  Did you see that show after the closing ceremony?  Holy Moly that was horrible television)  wants to pump up the tension to create better television and keep people tuned in, but I cannot abide the continuous splitting up of events.  If you aren’t going to show them live, and NBC has very little live coverage, then at least give me a beginning middle and end in that order.  Continually starting and stopping events by weaving them together made for fractured viewing, and sent many, including myself, to the internet to find out the winners.

     Now about game day directing.  OK, I’m a tough, tough critic here because I’m in the business.  However, during the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as a number of the events, I noticed the shot choices by the director (the man in the truck who decides which camera we see when) perplexing at best, and enfuriating at worst.  Examples were many, but let me focus on just a couple.  During the opening ceremony, which is a stage show that encompasses an entire stadium, the director felt that the public were much more interested in the reaction of the few recognizable US athletes as they watch it unfold than in the ceremony itself.  At one point, we were watching Shaun White and his snowboarder buddies react enthusiastically to what was going on in the stadium, while being denied the chance to see that part of the event itself that was so amazing to the athletes.  Television is supposed to bring you to places you can’t go yourself.  If I want random athlete reaction, I’ll check the Twitter accounts.   This was repeated in the closing ceremony, and once again left me disappointed (Though not as much as “The Marriage Ref”.  That really is bad TV).

    Is this like pointing out a small scratch on an otherwise pristine car, or a mole on a timeless beauty?  Perhaps.  But to paraphrase Seinfeld himself, it doesn’t upset me as a viewer, it upsets me as a broadcaster!


The Coolest Guy I Know

January 14th, 2010 at 8:07 pm by under Sports

   Congratulations to Charles Woodson for winning the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL, and his All-Pro selection.  He no doubt deserved it, and was a dominating player, even from the defensive back position.  He’s the only defensive back other than Deion Sanders to win the award.

    In addition, he happens to be the coolest guy on the planet.

    When I say cool, I mean it in the old school way.  He dresses cool, he walks cool, he speaks cool and is always the coolest person in the room.  He’s under control, and makes those around him comfortable, even though he is obviously cooler than they are.  He’s a great athlete, but doesn’t tell everyone about it, and the guy even has his own wine label. 

      I’m not a Michigan fan, and am a bit of a cynic when it comes to professional athletes.  Usually I don’t root for them, nor am I surprised when the do something selfish and by most of our standards ridiculous.  In fact, when the Packers signed Woodson, I railed against it.  He was coming off a major injury, and had never been a high interception guy.  In fact, when we talked to him in his first training camp, and asked why he chose Green Bay, he very frankly said it was because Tampa didn’t have enough money.   Honest answers are also cool.

      Despite the rocky start, Woodson has aged well, and since he has grown up in the last two years, he has turned his life around to match up with the cool he already had.

     This year Woodson donated $2 million to a children’s hospital in Michigan.  When asked why, he said it was time.  He is now a father.  He is now a husband.  That makes his cool meter go up even more, and puts him in a class few athletes can match: cool even when you take away his athletic accomplishments.


I don’t think so, Ochocinco

September 16th, 2009 at 4:30 pm by under Sports

 

    First of all, I like Chad Ochocinco’s (ne Johnson’s) antics.  I think it helps make the NFL fun.  He reminds everybody that though the NFL is big business, it’s just a game, where players who can back up their mouths with their play are allowed to talk a little junk.  With the Bengals coming to town, Ochocinco has promised that if he scores, he’s headed for a Lambeau Leap.  I, for one, would love to see him try a Lambeau Leap, just to see the reaction of the Lambeau faithful.

     Two years ago he jumped into the Dawg Pound in Cleveland after scoring against the Browns, and earned a beer bath for his troubles.  I have a feeling the fans around the end zone will be saving a brewski for a Lambeau Field baptism if Ochocinco makes good on his promise to make the leap. 

      That being said, I don’t know if he will get the chance.   The Bengals aren’t a very good football team, and this year the Packers are just better.  It’s a game the Packers should win going away, and  I think they will.  I talked to members of the defense on Wednesday who say they will be focusing on stopping the run.  Does that mean Ochocinco will be ignored?  No, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to have a free roll to the end zone.  However, if he does get there, I suggest the fans give him a welcome into the stands worthy of an interloper who is stealing a venerable tradition.  I’ll let the fans decide just what that is.


A Different Kind of Camping: Packers Training Camp Day 1 and 2

August 2nd, 2009 at 6:23 pm by under Uncategorized

A Different Kind of Camping

 

   Welcome back to Packers Training Camp!  It’s a whole new look this year- for everyone involved.  For the players, the new field takes a little getting used to, but the slipping and sliding around of the first day seemed to get a little better on day two of camp.  For the fans, it’s a much better view of camp, as they have a place to watch that is a little more comfortable than dodging the traffic on Oneida.  With the raised stands, they get a better view, and can hear the players better as well.   For the media, it isn’t that much different, though we have a nice afternoon shade spot, thanks to the Don Hutson Center.

   Sunday was offensive penalty day at camp.  Not officially, of course, but it could have been.  False starts, illegal snaps, poor play.  At one point I thought Aaron Rodgers was going to pop someone.  Still, lots of time left in camp to clean that up.  Even with the new system being put in place, the defense looks to be ahead of the offense right now.  Some players have been standing out- Jeremy Thompson looks good in coverage- he told me he lost some weight, trying to get quicker- though he hasn’t be able to get by the likes of Chad Clifton.  No one gets by Chad Clifton in training camp, by the way.  They just don’t.

      Hopefully the kinks will be worked out as they go along.   Hit of camp so far, by the way, Nick Collins giving DeShawn Wynn a forearm shot and de-cleated him!   We’ll hopefully get more fun as the days go on.


Come canoeing with me!

July 26th, 2009 at 9:07 pm by under Sports

  Day One: There is little like the tranquility of a canoe trip, and the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota is one of the most beautiful and accessable places on earth.   A million acres of lakes and wilderness to explore.

    I got a chance to take the trip in mid-July, my second one to the Boundary Waters area.  I also took a small camera with me, and did a video blog day by day while I was there- click here for the link for day one!  While the first couple of days were nice weather for paddling and portaging, the last four were where nature decided to take it out on us, with wind, rain and cold the rest of the way.  However, the scenery was still stunning, and with a group of young people (14-18 year-olds) it was fun to see them discover the wilderness for the first time.

Day Two:  Click here for day two of my video blog!

Day two of the journey in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota was sunny but windy, and portent of things to come. We paddled and portaged about 12 miles, going deeper into wilderness.
We also stopped at a campsite that was on the edge of a set of cliffs to do some cliff jumping for the younger members of our group. Everyone had a great time making the leap, and everyone got down, and back in the canoe, safely!
Wildlife hasn’t been as plentiful as expected, but we’ve had glimpses of eagles and loons, and got some fishing in in the evening, to no avail. I can safely say no fish were injured in the taping of these segments! User error, I’m sure.

 

Day Three in the Boundary Waters: Click here for my video blog day three!

A windy, and rainy day today, as we pushed south through the Boundary Waters to lake Muckwa, staying on an island campsite for the third night in a row.

The weather has turned a little on us, as we got some more wind, with some rain as well.  We had an interesting view of some loons today, as well as an area that had been decimated by a forest fire within the last year- just gutted between lakes.   Interesting to see how nature cleanses the landscape.

Still no fish, but maybe tomorrow!

Day Four on the Boundary Waters: Click here for my video blog day four!

Another day on the Boundary Waters, and another day of gray weather.  Nonetheless, we made almost 10 miles again, stopping on an island campsite for the night.

Last night a frightening front came through with high winds and severe pressure changes that actually pulled our tent pegs out of the ground and took down part of our dining fly.  You never know what you will find when you head out to the wilderness, so be prepared!  The fish are still eluding us, but we’re hoping to get at least one before we have to pull out.

 

Day five on the Boundary Waters: Click here for video blog day five!

Day five of my trip to the Boundary waters was, unfortunately, a gray day again.  We haven’t seen the sun since Monday afternoon, so are feeling rather soggy. 

Today we canoed in the worst conditions I have ever experience in my time in a canoe!  The waves were so large, we had to angle into them to make sure we didn’t capsize, and still we weren’t sure we wouldn’t go under.  We probably shouldn’t have been out on the water.  However, we were without a campsite, so had to plow through to get to somewhere we could set up camp.

We also hit the longest portage on our trip: 240 rods.  One rod = 16 feet, with 320 in a mile, so a 2/3 mile high through woods and mud with a 70 pound canoe or pack on your back is a tough one.  We made it, however, and plan to push to the end of our journey tomorrow.

Boundary Waters day six: Here’s the link to the video blog day six!

Day six, and we are off the water, a day earlier than planned, thanks to the weather.   After four wet days, we decided to get out a day early to get warm and dry!  

Our last night we got more rain and wind, and before bed ate all the deserts remaining in the food barrel!  We had pudding, cheesecake, and camp muffins to warm our spirits and our bellies- delicious!

We ended up traveling more than 56 miles on the water and through the portage trails, seeing lots of wildlife, and having a ton of fun.  The experience, which is life changing for some who come out here, will be a lifetime memory for the young people who came with us especially.

Check out my other Boundary Waters information for more tidbits about the million acre wilderness area that gives a once in a lifetime experience.
Check back every day, and I’ll have more updates from the Boundary Waters, one of the most beautiful places on earth!


Wonderful Wimbledon

July 5th, 2009 at 5:37 pm by under Sports, Uncategorized

     Wimbledon is one of my favorite sporting events of the year.  I generally watch hours of tennis during the fortnight, once even subscribing to HBO (where they used to show much of the early action) just to watch Wimbledon.   I lived in England for four years growing up (and actually went to grade school in the town of Wimbledon for about four months), and though I never got to go to the tournament-the year I was old enough, I got pneumon- I did watch Davis Cup tennis at the facility.  I thought nothing would ever top last year’s finals between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, but this year’s gentlemen’s finals sure came close. 

      Five sets of tremendous tennis, with a fifth set that went longer than many full matches.  That’s some serious drama.  Federer’s win over Andy Roddick cements him as perhaps the greatest player in the open era, with 15 majors, besting the 14 of Pete Sampras.

     What strikes me is the similarities between Sampras and Federer.  Both had big serves, tremendous ground strokes, great net play, and couldn’t play on clay.  Sampras never did get his French Open, while Federer got his this year.  I had the chance to hang out with Sampras at an event in Houston years ago when he and Andre Agassi were trading titles after Agassi’s comeback, and found him very low key, focused and polite.  However, you could tell there was a burning desire to win that went with it.

      Tennis isn’t a sport that a lot of people follow like they used to.  However, it has what I love about sports: the man on man competition, hand-eye coordination, 140 mph serves, power and finesse, no ties; it’s great.  Perhaps the personalities just aren’t as compelling, but the tennis is just as good.  Hopefully Nadal’s knees allow him to be the main competition to Federer for the next couple of years.


How do you wear your neoprene? OTA Blog

June 10th, 2009 at 5:03 pm by under Sports

Packers public OTA (organized team activity) for Wednesday, June 10.

Conditions- perfect for practice!  Sunny and 65, light breeze. Of course, that’s also perfect for golfing, but hey, we all have to make sacrifices.

 

11:15 am- Stretch them out- some faces returning to camp- LB Clay Matthews (1st round pick 2009) is participating today, and NT Ryan  Pickett also is here.  S Atari Bigby is also participating today.  It will be interesting to see how he picks up the new defense.  He has said it is perfect for a safety who likes to come up and hit, which he does.  Speaking of safeties, Nick Collins absence has become conspicuous.  He says it isn’t contract related, and I have a good source that tells me his family issues truly are tough right now, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

 

11:25- Seems like we are down a punter- only two on the field.  Adam Graessle is nowhere to be seen.  I mean, how injured do you have to be to not be able to take a knee on the grass, like most punters do for 75% of the practice? (Note: Just found out he was cut!  That’s how you have to be as a punter to miss practice…)

 

11:35- Brad Goode is snapping into a net, but when they turn around and do punter snap catching practice, they use the JUGGS machine.  Someone please explain that to me.  Perhaps they would get done too quickly if they put the two drills together, ie: the long snapper practicing snapping to the punter who is practicing catching.  Call me crazy…

 

11:45- Had a great conversation with former long snapper Rob Davis, who is now in charge of player development in a non-football sense.  He puts together a program that teaches the players how to handle their money, all about taxes, beware of groupies, find a passion after football.  He mentioned how Brett Favre can’t step away from the game because he doesn’t have anything else in his life he is passionate about enough to make him move into that realm.  Rob’s doing a great service to the young players, if only they will listen.  We’ll do a story on this soon.

 

11:53- Matt Flynn running the offense.  Have you ever noticed he looks just like Matt Damon?  I told him I enjoyed his work in the Jason Bourne series, but Matt didn’t think that was particularly funny.  I’m guessing he gets this all the time.  Maybe he switches identities as a pick-up line, however.  No? Just me who thought of this?

 

12:02- OL coach James Campen is urging his troops to put a little more hustle in between drills, in a little more colorful language than I’m comfortable using here.  His players respond well, and get their feet off the ground as they walk to the next drill.

 

12:05- DL Aaron Kampman is getting some one on one attention with coach Kevin Greene.  This is going to be quite a journey for Aaron.  He did himself no favors by his frosty interview last week, making those who heard it assume he was angry.  I think he’s just cautious, because he has made a couple of pro bowls and doesn’t know if his skill set will translate.  If anyone knows that position, however, Kevin Greene is the guy.

 

12:10- I look down on the sidelines, and I see various hats and sweatshirts, and sweatpants lined up.  It reminds me of my daughter’s school.  All in a neat row and in numerical order, each with the player’s number sewn in the back, just like my daughters name in her school stuff.  What happens to all that gear when someone gets cut?  Does the next 41 just get the stuff the other guy wore, regardless of fit?  Or does he get to pick out new stuff?  So many questions unanswered…

 

12: 15- General Manager Ted Thompson shows up in his customary baseball cap and sunglasses.  I say hello, he nods.  Not much information exchanged.  I don’t think he’s going to show his cards on the Jennings or Collins extensions, but it’s nice to be acknowledged.

 

12:25- About 100 railbirds were watching practice today.  They were treated to some nice catches by Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Brett Swain (!) and Korey Hall.  Not a loud group, but very dedicated to be attending an OTA.

 

12:30- Souvenirs!  Punter Durant Brooks has just shanked two punts onto Oneida Street!  Into traffic!  Luckily, no one drove off the road.  I’m thinking if you can’t keep it in the practice facility, your chances of making the team are looking a little worse.

 

12:45- Nice play by Brandon Chillar- tipping an Aaron Rodgers pass in the air, then making a nice catch for the interception.  A very interesting dress choice for the linebackers, by the way.  Chillar likes his sleeves hiked all the way over his shoulders (Welcome to the gun show!) and has neoprene leggings under his shorts.  Poppinga is the same way.  AJ Hawk and Desmond Bishop, on the other hand, have the neoprene top AND bottom under their jersey and shorts, while most everyone else is just in shirt and shorts.  Maybe they called each other before practice…

 

12:54- Did I mention Jordy Nelson has been making some nice catches?  Gets another.  James Jones will have a fight on his hands this training camp for that number three spot.

 

1:04- There has been a Pat Lee sighting!  He had a couple of nice knock aways today.  Would be nice if he were to develop into a future replacement for the “two aging corners” (I believe copy law dictates we have to refer to Woodson and Harris that way), but I’m not sold just yet.

 

1:12- Practice finishes!  Another OTA in the books.  The Packers have more next week, then the mandatory mini-camp is from June 22-24.


Big hair, big guys, big fun! OTA Blog

June 3rd, 2009 at 2:37 pm by under Uncategorized

   The Packers had their OTA today on Clarke Hinkle Field, and here is a running diary of some of what went on.  Conditions: Sunny, but breezy and chilly.

 

11:15 am- WR Donald Driver is here!  He’s decided to make an appearance after last week getting thrown about the media with possible contract renegotiation demands.  Seemed to be healthy, and made some nice catches.

 

11:20- C Scott Wells is in a t-shirt and isn’t practicing.  He is going to have a tough time keeping his starting job this year, I think.  Jason Spitz has looked sharp at center, and with the talent they are bringing back on the offensive line, Wells could be the odd man out when all is said and done.  Needs to get healthy first, however.

 

11:30- K Mason Crosby gives a wave as I walk by.  Kickers are interesting people.  They are very serious about their craft, but not as serious about their job.   They (kickers) are the butt of a lot of camp jokes, but the get that, and are ok with it.  I don’t know if the other players consider them “football” players as they stretch and kneel on the other side of the field, but Mason is as good as they come.

 

11:35- A fan drives down Holmgren and honks his horn the ENTIRE length of the field, all the way to the end.  Players don’t even look up.  Impressive honking dedication, however.

 

11:37- A bus of school kids comes by, with kids hanging out the window screaming for the Packers.  I mean, no where else in the country would have a scene like this, right?

 

11:40- If you haven’t had a chance to get down to the open OTA, you have missed a very impressive afro by Nick Barnett.  I don’t think he has cut his hair since his knee injury.  He isn’t practicing, but I wonder if his helmet size has increased, he has so much hair…

 

11:45- Just tweeted from camp.  Ain’t technology grand?  If you haven’t signed up to follow us on Twitter, do it!  Search “fox11sports” to find us.

 

11:48- OL Josh Sitton just stopped past to get a drink, and I can see what he has been working on in the off-season: A ‘fro of his own!  I think with Mark Tauscher out of the picture, Sitton and Alan Barbre are competing for “most unruly head and face of hair” in camp.

 

11:50- Ball security drills.  Cool new one for the offensive line: a bunch of blocking pads are piled up with a ball beneath them.  It’s a fumble recovery drill, and at the whistle the big O-lineman dives into the pads to find the football.  I find myself thinking this would be a fun game for my 5-year-old’s birthday party next week.

 

11:55- Have a nice conversation with former NFL, AFL QB and Sturgeon Bay grad Chris Greisen about his career.  Our daughters were in pre-school together.  He is going to try out for the new UFL, which has their draft later this month.  Just four teams, with a six week schedule, then a championship game, playing between September and November.  He’s hoping to be able to hook on.  He says they pay pretty well:  $30-200 thousand for just six games= not bad.  Best of luck to him!

 

12:00- The noon whistle blows, and RB Deshawn Wynn fumbles a kick off return.  I don’t think the two were related.

 

12:05- Special teams session going on, and ST coach Shawn Slocum isn’t happy with the preparation of the players.   Justin Harrell is urged to please take a gander at the playbook a little more often, though not in those exact words.  This is a family friendly blog, after all.

 

12:12- Individual drills are starting, and I’m watching the RB’s.  New FB Quinn Johnson (5th round pick) seems to be the guy they pick on, since he’s the only rookie.  First, Edgar Bennett gets him to jump off-sides, which gives everyone a chuckle, then hitting the sled, he gets in trouble for pin-wheeling his arms before laying into it, provoking chants of “He’s winding up!” from the rest of the players.  Johnson has to do the drill again! 

         I also have to remark that Ryan Grant looks considerably thinner as opposed to the end of the season.  Don’t know if that is on purpose, or just an off-season weight.

 

12:20- Checking out the Offensive Line drills.  Sitton is a very technically sound lineman, in the drills, at least.  He gets praise from the coaches, and I think will start at the right guard spot this year, if Spitz plays center.   New lineman TJ Lang (3rd rounder) gets some good encouragement from coach James Campen.

 

12:26- New defensive line coach Mike Trgovac is very hands on, literally.  He just grabbed new tackle BJ Raji (1st rounder) by the shirt, moving him around to show him what he wanted.  And BJ is not little.

 

12:47- WR Jordy Nelson has made some very nice catches this session- will he become a bigger part of the team this year?  This is his time if he wants to step it up.  I don’t know if James Jones is as secure as some think, especially if Jordy can string together some good practices.

 

12:55- OLB (!) Aaron Kampman just looks a little weird playing in an up stance.  But he just knocked away a pass, and OLB coach Kevin Greene went nuts!  I think it is going to be fun to see Kevin Greene on the sidelines this year.   He has said he doesn’t remember much of his NFL career (“I’ve had a lot of concussions,” he told me a couple of months ago.), but he has the passion, that’s for sure.

 

12:58- C Jason Spitz just threw a cut block on BJ Raji, who jumped up to complain, but realized no one was going to listen to him.  Welcome to the league, rook!

 

1:10- Last play of the OTA, S Aaron Rouse gets the pick of QB Brian Brohm.  Back-up QB’s didn’t have a great day.  But hey- that’s what practice is for!


Mickelson Doing the Right Thing

May 20th, 2009 at 2:51 pm by under Uncategorized

      Phil Mickleson is a study in contrasts in his golf game.  He’s a gambler who goes for amazing shots, making some of them, but a player who plays with precision around the greens.  He’s a player who has won dozens of tournaments, but a brain freeze cost him a US Open.  However, there is no doubt where his priorities lie.  When his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, he did not hesitate, immediately cancelling all plans, including playing on the tour, to be with his family.

     Mickleson’s family has grown up in front of golf fans, starting with finishing second to the late Payne Stewart in the US Open in 1999, with Payne cupping Phil’s face in his hands, telling him just after Stewart’s winning putt went down not to worry about the title, that it would never mean nearly as much as the impending birth of Phil’s first daughter.  From there to the sight, over and over, of Phil’s wife and little girls running onto the green to help him celebrate a tournament win, including three majors.

      I’m not a huge Phil fan, but I absolutely applaud his dedication to his family and wish his wife Amy the very best in her recovery.  Here’s hoping all goes well, and we see Phil back on the course soon, back to a normal life with a wife who is cancer free.