No. 1 pick is a tricky business | NevadaAppeal.com

No. 1 pick is a tricky business

Joe Ellison
Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist

With the first pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans by-passed consensus No. 1 Reggie Bush, and instead selected defensive end Mario Williams. For this decision, the Texans were ridiculed and persecuted, especially after Williams broke a bone in his foot and Bush enjoyed a successful season.

This year the Oakland Raiders chose consensus No. 1 JaMarcus Russell, a quarterback expected to be the future of the franchise. But Russell held out for more money, just signed his contract this week and so far has wasted his rookie season.

Houston negotiated with Bush’s agent before the draft, but Bush wouldn’t sign the contract that was offered by the Texans, and Williams did. The Raiders pulled the trigger on their intended target before starting negotiations.

Ideally teams would be able to choose who they really wanted at No. 1, and those players would be signed before training camp. But it seems lately that you can’t have it both ways. If you believe that a bird in the hand is worth one Bush, Houston did things the right way. It could take 10 years before we really find out.

PLAYOFFS

For the second consecutive year, one of my preseason playoff predictions was accidentally omitted from my first column. Oops again! But looking at last week’s printed picks, it wouldn’t be hard for people to figure out that the missing Wild Card team was San Diego.

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After going 14-2 last season, the only direction for San Diego to go is down, which is where the Chargers should go after firing their entire coaching staff and hiring head coach Norv Turner and his 59-82-1 record. But it shouldn’t be so far down that they miss the postseason.

TENNIS

The Williams sisters struck again at the U.S. Open, defending their titles of being the poorest sports in the universe.

After losing to Justine Henin in the quarter-finals, Serena gave absolutely no credit to the world’s No. 1 player, saying “I made too many mistakes,” and “She hit a lot of lucky shots.”

Henin has defeated Serena in three consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, and the 7-6, 6-1 score in New York indicates zero luck was involved. Serena just got her big butt bounced out once again by the better player.

In the semis, Henin defeated Serena’s sister Venus also in straight sets on the way to her championship. After the match, Venus said she was not playing at 100 percent, and that she had been anemic. Henin’s deadpanned response was, “What a surprise!”

These Williams stories have already gotten old. It’s time for the sisters to start growing up. To be the best, tennis players must train physically and mentally. The sisters need to get in shape, play in more tournaments, toughen up, and somehow represent the United States as a country of true champions, not spoiled brats. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that will happen any time soon, if ever, for the Williams sisters.

GOLF

Golf’s inaugural $63 million FedEx Cup playoffs come to a close this weekend, with Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson, Rory Sabbatini and K.J. Choi the only ones left with a shot at the $10 million first prize.

Mickelson got some flak for skipping last week’s tournament, blaming Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and stating that the $10 million should go immediately to the winner, and not be given as it is now in the form of a retirement annuity. But we shouldn’t believe that story.

By Tiger skipping the first of the four tournaments, it clearly forced Mickelson to skip one too. If Lefty had won the title having played in all four, people would have said, “Yeah, but he needed all four to beat Tiger.” Mickelson just leveled the playing field for the media and critics who constantly compare him to his only rival, Woods.

NASCAR

Men’s golf of course stole its idea from NASCAR, which is in the fourth season of the Nextel Cup Championship playoff. This year the rules were changed to allow the top-12 instead of 10 drivers vie for the title, and the points have been currently reset to reward those who have won the most races during the season.

Winner – I’ll stick with my preseason prediction of Tony Stewart. It is uncanny how the last two Brickyard winners and six out of the last nine have gone on to win the Cup. Stewart drove down that path in 2005 and is attempting to duplicate that performance. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon are also obvious strong picks.

Nextel Cup odds, race odds and one-on-one driver match-ups are bettable.