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Friday, June 25 marks the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. Meanwhile, NFL training camps begin in just a few weeks. So, in one of the more awkward marriages between pop culture and the National Football League, it is time to assess the state of each team heading into training camp through a song by the King of Pop.
The first part of our series pays a visit to one of the NFL’s most competitive divisions.
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State of the Franchise: Arguably, no team faces as much pressure to win in ’10 as the Dallas Cowboys. Super Bowl XLV will be held in their building and already the players are keenly aware of what is at stake as this season approaches. Coming off of their playoff win since 1996, the safety net for head coach Wade Phillips is long gone.
Song: The Girl Is Mine – When the Cowboys are in the limelight, female celebrities find their way into the arms of Cowboy players. Upon hitting it big, Tony Romo had dalliances with Carrie Underwood and most notably Jessica Simpson.
Now, wide receiver Miles Austin, who is coming off of his first big season, isn’t wasting anytime cashing in on his new found stardom. He is reportedly dating Kim Kardashian, the former flame of Saints running back Reggie Bush. Such a development caught the eye of Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson, who believes the Kardashian women are the key to winning championships.
By the way, Dallas and New Orleans play on Thanksgiving Day. Can we get a split screen between Austin and Bush if Kardashian is still in the picture? Maybe a pregame handshake?
New York Giants
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State of the Franchise: After becoming the toast of New York City by winning Super Bowl XLII, the other tenants of Giants Stadium have begun to steal the headlines away from big brother. Another year removed from the Plaxico Burress debacle, the biggest problem entering 2010 lies with the defense, which was atrocious under the now departed Bill Sheridan. The Giants finished 30th in points allowed, giving up 427 points.
Song: Got To Be There – In case you’ve been hiding in a bunker, the Giants/Jets will open up a new Giants Stadium in September to replace the Meadowlands. That same new edifice will host the Super Bowl in 2014. The Giants will try to do a better job of defending their home-field in 2010. They finished 4-4 in their old home in 2009.
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State of the Franchise: The post-McNabb era begins with Kevin Kolb at quarterback, who most around the team believe can lead the team back to the playoffs…it’s just a matter of when. Philly’s biggest question mark besides Kolb is on defense where they clearly missed the steady hand of the late Jim Johnson. It also helped to have Brian Dawkins roaming the secondary in previous years as well.
Clearly, the Eagles were missing their trademark toughness on defense. That was never more evident than the Cowboys smoking the Eagles in consecutive weeks during the regular season finale and in the first round of the playoffs. Dallas made roadkill out of the Eagles, crushing them by a combined score of 58-14 during that span.
Song: PYT (Pretty Young Thing) – The Eagles offense possesses several young stars including the aforementioned Kolb, the bombastic DeSean Jackson, and rising runner LeSean McCoy.
Philly management tends to move out players once they head past 3o as they like their stars young, younger, and youngest. Their young stars should light up the scoreboard as long as the Eagle offensive line is sturdy.
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State of the Franchise: Mike Shanahan replaced the embattled and now unemployed Jim Zorn as head coach. His task is to fix an offense that labored to be consistent last season and also he must manage the Haynesworth mess, which threatens to hound the team during the preseason and possibly into the regular season.
Song: Never Can Say Goodbye – Will Donovan McNabb ever stop talking about the Eagles? He claims he’s over it but will not let go. McNabb sounds like an ex-girlfriend who “has moved on” but can’t stop talking about their previous love.
He said goodbye back in April but every time someone in Philly chirps, McNabb is sure to get his licks as well. He’ll have an opportunity to knock off the Eagles twice and perhaps, he’ll have some sort of closure…or not.