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Bon Jovi-ing the Rest of the NFL

Jul 30, 2014 -- 2:37pm

These are tough times for Buffalo Bills fans. Regardless of how much E.J. Manuel and Sammy Watkins impress at Summer Training Camp at St. John Fisher, the spotlight is on the team’s uncertain ownership situation. The Toronto Sun reports Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, investor Donald Trump, and rock star Jon Bon Jovi have all submitted ownership bids. Bon Jovi has quickly become the least popular choice among Bills fans due to concern he will move the team to Toronto.

Courtesy ESPN.com

It really isn’t fair to Upstate New Yorkers that your beloved Bills might leave the country and to make things worse, you have been constantly subjected to Bon Jovi puns in headlines documenting your greatest fears – that the Bills will “Runaway” to Toronto. So that you are not alone, I have Bon-Jovi’d some other NFL teams having controversial offseasons. Here are some teams that have Bon Jovi lyrics describing their situations: 

Seattle Seahawks

We've got to hold on to what we've got 
'Cause it doesn't make a difference 
If we make it or not
  - "Livin' on a Prayer" (Slippery When Wet, 1986) 

The Seahawks are hoping to return to The Super Bowl, but runningback Marshawn Lynch is more concerned with his contract. Lynch is suspicious the Seahawks are going to release him after this season, meaning he won’t receive the final $9 million of his four-year/$30 million deal. He is holding out to do whatever he can to keep his money.

Cleveland Browns

It’s my life
It’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive  -
"It's My Life" (Crush, 2000)  

Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel partied right up to Training Camp, spending 4th of July weekend in Las Vegas and Austin, Texas. The Browns are reportedly pretty concerned with his lifestyle.

St. Louis Rams

Shining like a diamond, rolling with the dice,
Standing on the ledge, I show the wind how to fly.
When the world gets in my face,
I say, Have A Nice Day. - "
Have a Nice Day" (Have a Nice Day, 2005) 

Michael Sam is a trailblazer, the first ever openly gay player to be selected in the NFL Draft. While some fans, players, and coaches have questioned if he is a good fit in the league, Sam has been nothing but a professional.

Washington Redskins

It's all the same, only the names will change - "Wanted Dead or Alive" (Slippery When Wet, 1986)

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is still adamant that he keep the team’s racist name, despite growing support for a change.

Baltimore Ravens

Shot through the heart
And you’re to blame
You give love a bad name- "
You Give Love a Bad Name" (Slippery When Wet, 1986) 

Ravens runningback Ray Rice broke the hearts of Baltimore fans and fellow alumni of Rutgers where he was regarded as a hero. He is now shamed as a man who committed an act of domestic violence again his girlfriend (now wife). 

***Buffalo fans can sign the official petition to keep the Bills in Buffalo and away from Bon Jovi, by going to 12thManThunder.com .

Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman. 

Cornell Alum LeNeveu's Peculiar Journey to the Stanley Cup Final

Jun 09, 2014 -- 6:23pm

Courtesy Getty Images

With Ithaca native Dustin Brown leading the Los Angeles Kings on a march to a possible second championship in three years, it is easy to overlook the Cornell alum on the opposing roster in the Stanley Cup Final. That’s because that Cornell alum is the backup goaltender to 2013 Vezina Winner Henrik Lundqvist. It is also because he was not on the New York Rangers’ roster ONE week ago.  

It has been a long and strange journey for David LeNeveu. The Fernie, British Columbia native manned the net for the Big Red from 2001-2003, posting a 1.20 GAA and 94% save percentage during his sophomore campaign when CU advanced to The Frozen Four. A 2002 2nd Round Draft Pick of the Coyotes, LeNeveu joined the Phoenix organization after two years on East Hill, progressing to the parent club in 2005.

However, LeNeveu has never solidified himself as an NHL goalie. He has played in just 22 NHL games in 11 years of professional hockey. The rest of the 31-year-old’s career has been scattered across seven AHL teams, an ECHL team, and even two squads in Austria.

So how did it come to be that a career journeyman is suiting up for his third straight game in the NHL Stanley Cup Final? Patience and luck.

Veteran Martin Biron was supposed to be Lundqvist’s backup this season. However, after struggling early, Biron was waived and retired soon after. New York was forced to promote prospect Cam Talbot from its AHL affiliate in Hartford, resulting in a lack of a goaltending depth in the organization. The Blueshirts signed free agent LeNeveu, who started the year in the ECHL, to the Wolf Pack on January 14th. A week later, Lundqvist came down with the flu, and LeNeveu was recalled to New York.  After backing up Talbot on the bench for one game, he returned to Hartford.

LeNeveu joined ESPN Ithaca’s “Between the Lines” as a guest, and made it clear that he was not at all fully satisfied with his cameo appearance.

“That was a culmination of a lot of things falling into place at the right time,” LeNeveu said. “It was a brief stint. It was a quick up and back, but my goal still is to stick there long term. It’s not that I achieved a goal. It’s part of the process. I was definitely happy and excited to be part of that. I’m just trying to work my way to get back up there again and to hopefully stick around for a while.”

He received another opportunity last week after it was announced Talbot is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury. LeNeveu was added to the Rangers roster and has backed up Lundqvist from the bench for the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

When we chatted with LeNeveu on BTL, I asked him how he has stayed so resilient throughout his whirlwind professional career.

“If you let go of the dream, your dream is dead,” he said. “You have to keep believing in yourself. There’s many points in people’s career where everything seems so far away, and other times you think you’re so close. You’re never as good as you think you are, you are never as bad as you think you are. You have to keep on pushing on a daily and consistent basis to achieve your goals and you always have to have a set goal in mind with little incremental goals on the way through. Without a plan, it’s pretty hard to achieve your end goal in mind.”  

The veteran netminder’s wisdom could be a welcome presence in the locker room tonight before Game 3 of the NHL Final, for a Rangers team that is two losses away from being eliminated but also four wins away from reaching its ultimate goal of hoisting The Stanley Cup.

Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman. 

The Jets are Returning to Cortland...Should Fans?

Apr 24, 2014 -- 5:27pm

The Jets are coming back to Cortland. A month after the New York Daily News first reported Gang Green would be holding its 2014 Summer Training Camp on SUNY Cortland's campus, the Jets and Cortland State officially made the announcement Wednesday.

This will be the Jets' fifth trip to Central New York in six years, sans 2011 when full training camp was cancelled due to an NFL lockout. However, it was far from a sure thing that the team would be returning this summer. This time last year, New York was projected to have an atrocious season, likely resulting in the firing of head coach Rex Ryan. Instead, after a surprising 8-8 finish, General Manager John Idzik announced Rex would be back in 2014. Ryan was the man who brought the Jets to Cortland in the first place, recognizing that bringing his players upstate for training camp, away from the distractions at home and in New York City, would be beneficial. While Idzik and owner Woody Johnson have publicly only said positive things about Cortland, if Rex Ryan was no longer part of the organization, it was doubtful the Jets would have returned to Rex’s hand-picked summer destination.

35,000 came to The Summer of Tebow in 2012, dropping to 21,000 in 2013 without him (ESPN Ithaca Staff Photo)
With that said, Rex will be back and the Jets will be back. But will the fans be back? 2013 saw a noticeable drop-off in attendance from the 2012 Summer of Tebow, with numbers down from 35,500 fans to 21,000 fans. The ever-polarizing quasi-celebrity Tim Tebow leaving the organization before last training camp had an impact on the smaller crowds, but it was not just the lack of Tebow. There was a lack of receivers, runningbacks, tight ends, and quarterbacks that were going to create much buzz or excitement. We’ll never have another Tim Tebow in Cortland, but this summer should be more exciting than the last one.

Top 5 Reasons to Get Excited for the New York Jets 2014 Training Camp:

5) Sons of Anarchy

Courtesy ESPN.com
I’m not going to crown them “the new Sack Exchange” just yet, but the young group of Jets defensive linemen dubbed “The Sons of Anarchy” have a lot of promise. Snubbed Pro-Bowler Muhammad Wilkerson, AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson, and Damon “Big Snacks’” Harrison led a young line that propelled the 2013 Jets to the most tackles at or behind the line in a single season (159) since The Sack Exchange in 1981. Linemen are not typically a significant attendance draw, but this unit will be fun to watch as they gear up for their second year together.  

4) The Rookie Weapons

Courtesy ESPN.com
The Jets have an NFL-leading 12 picks in the upcoming draft, including one 1st round selection and two more in the first eighty picks. Idzik and Ryan are expected to scoop up at least a couple of receivers and tight ends to give Geno Smith/Michael Vick a shot at creating a legitimate passing game. After two summers of New York rolling out the likes of mediocre Jeremy Kerley, disappointing Stephen Hill, and broken down Santonio Holmes onto the field, fans will be delighted to see promising youngsters running routes and catching passes.

3) Chris Johnson

Courtesy ESPN.com
The running back-by-committee of Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Alex Green, and Mike Goodson was surprisingly effective this past season, rushing for the sixth most yards in the NFL. This offseason, the Jets added a proven top back to lead the committee, in Chris Johnson. The former Tennessee Titan has totaled over 1,000 yards on the ground during each of his six seasons in the league. While 28 years old is not the age of a young man in the NFL, Johnson is still an explosive player who should impress fans with his speed and playmaking abilities.

2) Eric Decker

Courtesy ESPN.com
Eric Decker's positive impression of MetLife Stadium when his Broncos  played the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII may have slightly impacted his decision to sign with the Jets. However, Decker’s performance in the game itself likely had no impact in New York’s decision to sign him. Decker was invisible that Sunday, catching just one pass for six yards while getting smothered by the Seattle defense. It was Decker’s regular season that earned him a five-year, $36 million deal with Gang Green, snatching 87 catches including 11 touchdowns. As a Jet, he will no longer have Peyton Manning throwing to him and fellow receiving threats like Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Emmanuel Sanders drawing defenders. When he takes the field in Cortland, we will begin to see if he can be an elite, number one receiver with the rebuilding Jets offense.

1) Michael Vick

Courtesy ESPN.com
It is hard to find a more polarizing, well-known football player than Tim Tebow. He may not be much of a professional quarterback, but people want to see the man play, even just to see the mythical superhero in real life. In some ways, Vick's star power is not too far off from Tebow's. Unlike Tebow, Woody Johnson did not bring in Vick for the publicity. He brought in Vick because he was one of the top available veteran quarterbacks this offseason who the Jets were able to bring in to compete with and mentor second year signal caller Geno Smith.

Michael Vick may not receive the same type of fans' signs as Tim Tebow, but his star power could bring increased crowds. (ESPN Ithaca Staff Photo)
However, Vick will still be a huge draw. Some of it will likely be a handful of the folks trying to bar him from campus, possibly heckling him because of his history and admittance to involvement with dog fighting. It will be interesting to see how the SUNY Cortland staff and security will handle any such hecklers. A lot of Vick’s draw is his name power, from both his off-the-field controversies and his sucess with the Falcons and Eagles. For better or worse, like Tebow, Vick has transcended mainstream sports. Casual football fans will come to Cortland to see Vick on the field in person. If he is as healthy as he says he is and dazzles, he’ll not only win the job from Geno Smith, but entertain everyone on the sidelines at camp in ways Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Greg McElroy, and Matt Simms never could. A quarterback with star power who plays like a star. Wouldn’t that be something this summer? 

Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman. 

Should I Join "The League?"

Jan 24, 2014 -- 6:08pm

I went through a fantasy sports withdrawal for nearly a decade. It started in 2003, when I got the draft time wrong and learned my entire football team had already been completely autopicked. I remained indifferent about that team all season. Then a few months later, I accidentally placed sensational NBA rookie Carmelo Anthony on waivers instead of the injured Anthony Carter and my fantasy basketball team plummeted. I immediately quit playing fantasy sports. 

For years, before every football, basketball, baseball, and hockey season, the invitations would pour in from friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. “Join my fantasy league!” I declined all of them. Eventually in 2012, I gave in and joined a friend’s fantasy football league. I loved it. I have not turned down an invitation to any league I have been invited to since.

So if I received an invitation in the mail to join something called “The League,” I would probably do it. I first learned of “The League” this week. WETM-TV in Elmira reported that an Addison (13 miles southwest of Corning) man received a ten page letter in the mail Tuesday telling him that a secret society called “The League” was recruiting him and had been watching him for a while. The letter said he had to send back his invitation certificate, by mail or fax, by the end of the week or his membership would expire. The recipient learned that this was a scam in which the victim pays $140 in advance for a full booklet which you never receive.

But I’m not that smart to be able to figure out it was a scam. If I received this letter, I would have been excited for the opportunity to join “The League.” I love watching History Channel specials on The Free Masons, The Illumanati, and Skull and Bones , and have always wanted to join a secret society. I surely would have wondered, “What is 'The League?'”

Silverman's Top 5 Guesses: 


5) “The League”

                Courtesy TVRage.com 

I get to play fantasy football with Nick Kroll and his buddies? Sign me up.


4) The Fantasy Baseball League in "Knocked Up"

             Courtesy BlueJayHunter.com

I got Matsui!


3)  "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

                         Courtesy ComicVine.com

Some of the greatest literary characters of all time…and me!


2) The League of Nations

                    Courtesy Awcungeneva.com 

It was kind of replaced by The United Nations, but not forgotten! 


1)  The Justice League

                 Courtesy BusinessInsider.com

The Avengers have Iron Man. The Justice League would have Silverman. Although instead of Robert Downey Jr., the former Brat Pack-er playing me in the movies would likely be Anthony Michael Hall. 

Sadly, it appears "The League" is fictional and actually a scam. So don’t  join “The League,” guys! But if you do create a legitimate fantasy league or secrety society, please invite me.

Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman. 

Silverman's "Ithaca's Sports Person of the Year"

Dec 16, 2013 -- 5:59pm

Last week, Time Magazine announced its 2013 "Person of the Year.” Pope Francis came away with the honor, with Edward Snowden runner-up.

My "Between the Lines" co-host Jeremy Menard and I, thought, we would come up with our finalists and winner of Ithaca’s 2013 "Person of the Year.” Then we realized we’re sports guys. The only people we know in town are coaches, athletes, and those who serve us beverages at our favorite local establishments. We have the same amount of credibility picking Ithaca’s “Person of the Year” as Miley Cyrus would have had as Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” (she was a finalist for it though, seriously).  

So instead we came up with our finalists for Ithaca's Sports “Person of the Year.” Jeremy and I came up with our lists separately, without discussing ours with each other. Here are Jeremy’s. And here are mine:

5. Sean Rossi (Ithaca College Basketball Guard)

During the 2012-2013 season, Rossi became the all-time assists leader in Division III men’s basketball. During his senior campaign, he led IC with over seven assists per game, good for fourth in the nation. He was also named a D3Hoops.com Second-Team All-American.

Courtesy D3Hoops.com

4. Tim Locastro (Ithaca College Baseball Shortstop) 

In the spring of 2013, Auburn native Locastro led IC baseball in batting average, hits, runs scored, triples, and home runs. The shortstop earned a spot on the Empire 8 First Team and led the Bombers to the College World Series. After the season, the junior declared for the MLB Entry Draft and was selected in the 13th Round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Locastro played for the Bluefield Blue Jays of the rookie Appalachian league, finishing with a .283 average, 28 runs, 13 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 43 games.

Courtesy D3Baseball.com

3. Mike Welch (Ithaca College Football Head Coach)

Before the 2013 season, the Bombers were predicted to finish fourth in the Empire 8, in the conference’s coaches poll. Throughout the year, IC suffered countless injuries, including a season ending injury to starting quarterback Phil Neumann. Yet a team starting a backup QB and a third string runningback, was crowned Empire 8 Champions. It then went on to win its first postseason game in a decade. Why? The coaching of Mike Welch. The Ithaca College head man got the most of a battered offense, and he and Defensive Coordinator Mark McDonough led a defensive group that allowed just 15.9 points per game (22nd in the country). This team was not the most talented, but it played hard for its coach, a coach who got the most out of his team.

Courtesy The Ithacan

2. Rob Pannell (Cornell Lacrosse Attack)

The expectations were high for Rob Pannell’s fifth year of eligibility at Cornell. And he delivered. The attacker led the Big Red in scoring and brought Cornell back to its first Final Four since 2009. Pannell became the first ever three-time Ivy League Player of the Year. He also joined Max Seibald ’09 as the second Cornellian ever to win the Tewaaraton Award for the nation’s best lacrosse player.

Courtesy CornellBigRed.com 

1. Kyle Dake (Cornell Wrestler)

2013 was the year of Kyle Dake in Ithaca. The Cornell wrestler won his fourth national championship in four years. He became the third collegiate wrestler ever to win four title in four years, and the first ever to win them in four different weight classes. The Lansing native won the Dan Hodge Trophy for the nation’s best wrestler, won the Sports Ilustrated Male College Athlete of the Year, and was a finalist for the ESPY for Best Male College Athlete.

Courtesy NCAA.com 

Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman. 

SU's Next Destination?

Dec 02, 2013 -- 6:57pm

Sure, Syracuse sophomore forward Michael Gbinije referred to it as a “business trip.” While it might not have been a vacation on paper…the Orange’s trip to Maui last week was not exactly an all-day conference in an airport motel.  

Syracuse’s Thanksgiving week “business trips” have only gotten better and better over the past few years. In 2010, SU played in the Legends Classic in Atlantic City. Yes, AC is down the Jersey Shore. But if you’ve ever been there, especially during a season other than summer, or have even watched "Boardwalk Empire," you know it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. In 2011, Syracuse took the court at Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tipoff. That was certainly an improvement over Atlantic City. In 2012, the Orange did not play in a Thanksgiving week tournament, but it did open up the season on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.

How could SU top these sites? Well, it went to Maui. A tropical island. So how can Syracuse top that for next season? Is there a better place on this planet to leave frigid CNY and play a basketball tournament in? I don’t believe one exists. So instead, I picked places that may or may not exist.

Silverman’s Top 5 Suggestions for Syracuse’s 2014 Thanksgiving Week Tournament

5. The Twilight Zone
Rationale: Laws of physics and science no longer exist. Who knows what will happen?!
Maybe we find out one of Syracuse’s players is really an alien. Or Jim Boeheim gets transported back in time to try to stop Keith Smart’s game winning shot in the 1987 National Championship only to fail and somehow cause Carmelo Anthony to not come to SU, resulting in zero Syracuse titles.

Photo Courtesy PaleyCenter.Org 

4. Middle Earth
Rationale: “One ring to rule them all” would be the first holiday tournament prize of any significance.

Photo Courtesy NPR.Org

3. Narnia
Rationale: After very high travel costs for this year’s Maui Tournament, Syracuse finds simply walking into a wardrobe closet to reach its destination is a lot more financially sound.

Photo Courtesy TheGuardian.Com

2. Atlantis
Rationale: No, no, not the Atlantis Tournament on an island resort in the Bahamas. I mean the actual utopia of Atlantis.

 <---Not the "real" Atlantis 
Photo Courtesy Blogs.Sun-Sentinel.com

1. The Death Star
Rationale: Nowhere in this galaxy or any galaxy far, far away, has hosted more epic battles than The Death Star. Obi-Wan Boeheim would instruct Syracuse to use “the force” (aka the 2-3 zone).

Photo Courtesy Today.com

My “Between the Lines” co-host Jeremy Menard also came up with a list. Unlike mine, some of his locations have been confirmed to exist.    

Menard’s Top 5 Suggestions for Syracuse’s 2014 Thanksgiving Week Tournament

5. Grand Canyon
Rationale: Syracuse can play on that Nik Wallenda tight rope, 1,500 feet in the air.

Photo Courtesy TheGuardian.com

4. Jurassic Park
Rationale: It would be cool to play against dinosaurs, like when Vince Carter went 1-on-1 with a Raptor in the late 90s Gatorade commercial.

Photo Courtesy TheGuardian.com                                          Photo Courtesy CGW.com

3. The Bat Cave
Rationale: Unlike the Gotham Classic that Syracuse participated in, in 2012, this would take place in the real Gotham City.

Photo Courtesy TheHollywoodReview.blogspot.com

2. The North Pole
Rationale: Playing next to Santa’s workshop would be a lot of fun.

Photo Courtesy StarPulse.com

1. The Moon
Rationale: Syracuse has already played on land and sea. How about space?

Photo Courtesy NASA.gov

Catch Eric Silverman on "Between the Lines" on ESPN Ithaca 1160/107.1 and ESPNIthaca.com weekdays from 4-5 pm, alongside Jeremy Menard. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericcsilverman. 

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