Sunday, May 1, 2016

New Website

I've moved! Well at least on the internet.

Check out my new website, which has brand new blog posts, podcasts and more at



Friday, April 29, 2016

4-29 Hoffman Show

Damon Amendolara and Anthony Gulizia join me to talk about a wild first round of the NFL Draft. Plus, why I sympathize with Dee Gordon and the legend of the words "in perpetuity."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Random Rumblings: April 28th

Why the tape is not enough

Tonight is the NFL Draft and arguably the two best players on tape won't be taken early. One won't be taken at all, not just in tonight's first round but at any point in the next three days. Why? Injuries.

Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith had the best tape of any prospect according to multiple analysts, yet he likely won't be taken at all. The defensive standout tore his knee ligaments in the Fiesta Bowl and he's at risk to never play football again because of nerve damage in his leg. UCLA's Myles Jack will play football next year. The question is how long after that as he has a degenerative issue in his knee.

Jack made interesting comments yesterday about his knee, saying that he doesn't know how long he'll be able to play. He said that anything over three years is average anyway, so who knows what the future holds for any player. While all of what he said is technically true, he did himself no favors in being honest. Teams don't spend first round picks for average.

The larger point here though is the justification for teams putting in massive amounts of homework into drafting players. They're about to make multimillion dollar investments into these guys, so every piece of information is useful.

What's interesting is the difference between the extensive homework teams do on rookies versus the quick decisions made on free agents, who cost significantly more money. The difference in the two situations? Leverage.

A player essentially has to play where he's drafted. In free agency, especially with the best players, the player has options. Instead of convincing teams to pick him, it's the teams convincing the player that they're the right place to be and that convincing is both literal in conversational terms and financial. The more you want a player, the more money you give him.

If Jack's knee holds up for a decade and he plays at a high level, people will look back and scream about how he was the best player on tape and lament not taking him. However if he's out of the league in three years, the team that did take that risk will be mocked for selecting a player with such an obvious downside. Teams can't win unless they're the one that was right. The narrative plays the result. The reality? The projection business is hard and every situation is different. Some decision makers have the license to take risks. Some don't. Some do have that right, but probably shouldn't.

The only sure thing is that if anyone tells you they know exactly how a player is going to turn out, they're telling you they can do the impossible.

Yeah, that was a foul

The Hornets took a 3-2 lead over the Heat last night in a controversial Game 5. There were some bad calls both ways, but a blatant missed foul late has everyone's attention. Goran Dragic shot a three from the corner which was blocked by Kemba Walker. Dwyane Wade got the rebound and attacked the basket where he was rudely greeted by Cody Zeller. The Hornets forward crashed into Wade and no whistle blew. It was a foul. There is no debate.

The verticality rule is explained in this video. It's pretty simple. If you jump straight up and down, it's not a foul. If you jump horizontally and make contact, it's a foul. This was a foul.

It's frustrating and disappointing that a game's outcome can so heavily be influenced by someone not on one of the teams so blatantly not doing their jobs correctly. Refereeing is really, really hard. It's a thankless job that only comes up when something is wrong. Guess that's why we're talking about it.

Some will talk about "human error" being a part of the game, but the only errors that should exist in an ideal world would be made by those affiliated with the teams. If a player misses an open shot, that's the game. If a coach makes a poor strategy decision, that's less fun than seeing the players decide the game, but that's sports. A referee? Give me the robots!

The rules are the rules. Enforce them. And to anyone who thinks that wasn't a foul, learn the rules. There is no intelligent argument here. Just learn the rule.


Mike Tirico is leaving ESPN for NBC, which is a monumental move in the media world. Tirico has been at ESPN for 25 years and is the signature voice for the network. You probably knew all that. What you might not know is what it's like to have experience with Mike personally. That is just as big of a treat as it is listening to him call a game.

We've spent short amounts of time together on multiple occasions thanks to our mutual love for our alma mater. Mike is as proud of a Syracuse alum as there is and still dedicates a lot of time (and likely money) to the broadcast program.

Every time I see Mike, he makes me feel like an old friend that he's known for years. He has that special ability to make anyone feel important. He's invested in how you're doing. For someone who is a titan of our industry, he's incredibly human.

That humility is also what makes him so great on the air. He's smarter than all of us. Nobody knows more about more stuff than Mike. He covers NBA basketball, college basketball, NFL football, golf and tennis and I swear he knows each rulebook better than some of the officials in those sports. It's absolutely astounding. Yet, he delivers that information in a way that doesn't scream "look at me and how smart I am." He's just brilliant.

His role at NBC could eventually evolve into calling the NFL's premier weekly game (Sunday Night Football), the Super Bowl every three years and hosting the Olympics. He'll be calling the biggest events in sports and he's more than ready. I also expect him to be a part of the Kentucky Derby broadcast.

Back in 2012, we had Mike on my college radio show and I asked him about his bucket list. He said he'd gotten to do, or at least see, pretty much every event he could have dreamed of except two. One was the Indianapolis 500. The other was the Kentucky Derby. Both happen during the NBA playoffs, something Mike's giving up in the move from ESPN to NBC as the peacock network doesn't have any NBA rights and won't for the foreseeable future. The Indy 500 is on ABC, so he won't be able to call that although he could attend. The Derby however is on NBC, so expect him to have some role in that broadcast if his bucket list hasn't changed.

Reads of the Day:

Lions LB Deandre Levy with a powerful, necessary and potent piece on sexual assault prevention:

The MMQB's Andrew Brandt takes us inside an NFL war-room on draft day:

ESPNLA's Arash Markazi on Doc Rivers, including some powerful quotes from his son and player Austin:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

4-27 Hoffman Show: McNally, MacMahon and more

In the first edition of the new podcast format, I talk about the reaction to #MoreThanMean and Bomani Jones' thoughts on that subject. Plus, I talk with Brian McNally (106.7 The Fan, DC) on the Redskins recent moves and draft plans and Tim MacMahon (ESPN Dallas) on the end of the Mavs season. Lastly, I explain why Malachai Richardson should leave Syracuse and tell the tale of a two sport Sunday in New York.

For name ideas for the podcast, tweet me! Email works too. Carrier pigeons are no longer accepted. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Random Rumblings: April 26th

After a weekend in New York, the blog returns for NFL Draft week and some interesting turns in the NBA Playoffs. "Reads of the day" will also be different today. No reading involved! The four hour bus ride back from NYC lead to some great podcast listening, so I'll give you those instead. To the blog:

Don't Poke The Bear

Mavs owner Mark Cuban is really, really smart. Sometimes really, really smart people do really, really dumb things. Mark Cuban did a really, really dumb thing before Game 5 of Mavs-Thunder on Monday night.

Cuban said that Kevin Durant was the only superstar on Oklahoma City's roster. Asked about Russell Westbrook, Cuban said he's just an all-star, not a superstar. Westbrook proceeded to go score 38 points as the Thunder ended the Mavericks season.

Cuban's comments didn't make any sense on a number of levels. First, they were blatantly wrong. Westbrook set an NBA record with 18 triple-doubles this year. The Thunder were 18-0 in those games, meaning he wasn't out there collecting empty stats. He's a force of nature that defies science in how hard he plays every night. His intensity and passion are palpable. He's a more than occasional pain in the ass for the media, but there is no denying his greatness as a player.

So while Cuban was wrong and may have fired up Westbrook if the comments got back to him before tipoff (the Mavs seemed to try to get under Westbrook's skin all series), there are larger implications at play as evidenced by Kevin Durant's post-game press conference.
Durant is a free agent this summer. Westbrook is one next year. The Mavericks have consistently put themselves in a position to land big free agents, but have never reeled one in. Why would an owner, who is consistently mentioned as a major positive of the franchise (and is one of the very best in sports), put himself in a position where he could hurt his team? It seems short sighted and self-defeating. Even if the Mavericks consider Westbrook less than Durant from a scouting standpoint, there's no reason to publicly say that. Instead, you do what Rick Carlisle did after the game, which is to overly emphasize the greatness of both players.

I'll never complain about honesty from someone we cover as a collective media, but this one just doesn't make sense. There's a part of me that wonders what Cuban's motivation was and if there is some ulterior motive. Cuban's way smarter than me. He's a genius on many levels, so I'd be naive to just assume that I've got all of this figured out without at least acknowledging he might have some grand plan here. The question is if that plan exists and if it is ill-advised.

From my seat, it seems like it is. There seems to be no benefit. The Mavericks will certainly try and get in a room with Durant this summer. We'll see if they get a visit with one of the league's premier superstar after their owner diminished his friend, who is also in that class.

The Injury Bug Bites Twice (UPDATE: Three Times)

The NBA Playoffs were likely to play out in a rather direct fashion if everyone stayed healthy. The Cavaliers would face some challenge along the way to winning the Eastern Conference where they would lose to the Warriors, who would be pushed on some level (possibly to a decisive seven games) by the Spurs on their way to winning the west. However fast-forwarding is not allowed and the "if everyone stayed healthy part" is always a long shot. This is why they play the games.

Steph Curry hurt his ankle in Game 1 and had the entire NBA holding its collective breath after falling in Game 4 of the Warriors opening round series. The MVP has a grade 1 knee sprain and is out at least two weeks. In the regular season, that means a set amount of games. In the playoffs, that's a giant TBD.

This is where one injury affects another. The Clippers were having a hard enough time with the Blazers with Chris Paul and will likely now be without him. The star point guard broke his hand Monday night as the Blazers tied their series at 2-2. The winner of that series faces the Warriors, who will presumably close out the Rockets in Game 5 tonight at Oracle Arena. While Golden State isn't going to root for another team to suffer a key injury, they're undoubtedly rooting for that series to go as long as possible. The more time the series needs, the fewer games Curry misses while his knee heels.

While you make think the Warriors would be just fine without Curry, the numbers say otherwise. The Warriors were more than 1,000 points better than their opponents this year. They were also outscored with him on the bench for the second straight year.

2014-15 2015-16
Curry On-Court +920 +1022
Curry Off-Court -92 -140

It's astounding that team that won 73 games and outscored opponents by more than 10 points per game could possibly have a player it couldn't live without, but it seems the Warriors are in that position with Curry.  It's worth pointing out that Dryamond Green actually had a bigger plus and lower minus in his splits than Curry, although with the two playing a high percentage of their minutes together, it's impossible to separate who is responsible at what percentage. Clearly Curry is massively important and it'll be tough for the Warriors to beat whoever is next without him. Perhaps the Paul injury will extend the Blazers-Clippers series just enough that Golden State won't have to worry about playing without Curry for more than a game or two, both of which would come at home.

Update at 5:04 PM EST on Tuesday: Clippers forward Blake Griffin will miss the rest of the playoffs with a quad injury. Paul is officially listed as out indefinitely.

The Clippers with Griffin, but no Paul were still formidable. Griffin's good enough to run a highly effective offense through, at least against the Blazers. The Warriors might've been a different story because Griffin would be guarded by Green, but the Clippers could (and have before) figured out how to score without Paul. Now, beating the Blazers is not only going to be difficult, I'm predicting it won't happen. I just don't see how they guard Damien Lillard or score enough to win. Injuries are a part of sports. The absolute worst part of sports.

Don't Read, Just Listen

As mentioned, here are the podcasts I enjoyed on the bus ride from NYC to DC.

Clippers guard J.J. Redick has done an exceptional job with his podcast. I enjoyed his chat with Late Late Show Producer Ben Winston. The two somewhat interviewed each other, providing some cool insight into both the entertainment and sports worlds:

Redick also had Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. The two comparing notes was really insightful. I especially enjoyed Rodgers comfort with his own greatness. He skipped the fake humbleness that a lot of athletes indulge in, acknowledging his high level of play comes from a place of extreme preparation:

The same can be said for ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. Listening him talk to Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch on both football and media was really interesting and entertaining:

Friday, April 22, 2016

4-22 Random Rumblings

Another Legend Gone

This is getting old. We've lost absolute titans of their respective worlds multiple times already in 2016 and yesterday's was perhaps the biggest. Musical legend (and that might not be strong enough of a word) Prince died at the age of 57.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm the world's biggest Prince fan, but you have to be a special kind of fool to not recognize his genius. I know many of the hits from "Little Red Corvette" to "Raspberry Beret" to "Purple Rain" and down on, but I've never taken a true dive into his musical catalog. As I listen to the remembrances of him, the depth of that catalogue has been a recurring theme. With some travel upcoming, and thus time to listen to music uninterrupted, I plan on diving into the deep end head first. I'm sure I'll find what so many have already, which is a full appreciation for a one of a kind artist.

Music is a big part of my life. It has been since I was 15 and started dj'ing, suddenly exposed to music of all generations. I would describe my musical knowledge as more wide than deep, although I've started to add depth in a number of genres as I've gotten older (thanks Apple Music!). Old school hip-hop is certainly where I've taken the deepest dive. I started that dive listening to the music from SVP & Russillo and discovered the brilliance of A Tribe Called Quest. When Phife died a few weeks back, it didn't hurt me like it did those older because, while I LOVE the music, it wasn't an integral part of my childhood. That's a different kind of hurt. His music was something I had discovered when I was older, deeply appreciate and appreciate more every time I listen. Phife was a genius. I understood completely the loss to the hip-hop community and anyone who grew up on his music.

Prince is that to all music. I was reading an article from Master Tesfatsion in the Washington Post about his experience with Prince. He talked about how, as he dove into Prince's catalogue, he discovered how influential he was on the music he loved and already knew. I remember going through that with Phife, and I'm 100% sure that it'll happen with me and Prince as I dive beyond the hits into his catalogue. I'm looking forward to it. I just wish I had done so sooner, and that the opportunity to see Prince perform would be there as I did.

I hate James Harden

The preceding bold and underlined header is a 100% true statement in a sporting sense. I don't know James Harden. He might be a swell guy. I have no idea. I wish him no harm. I also acknowledge he's a phenomenal basketball player. I hate watching him play basketball and actively root against his success.

Harden plays a style that is infuriating to watch. He plays consistently in isolation. He draws an inordinate amount of fouls. It's just not aesthetically pleasing. His game-winner last night was no different. He drove one-on-one, got away with a blatant push-off and hit an open jumper.

The push-off should've been called. In a late game situation, if a referee isn't 100% sure of a call (s)he should swallow the whistle. This was not one of those times. There was zero doubt that Harden committed an offensive foul. He pushed Andre Iguodala away with a fully extended arm. Iguodala had zero chance to contest the shot because of that push-off. It has to be called. I hate James Harden. I hate that no-call. I hope Steph Curry's ankle is ready for Sunday and the Rockets, who are just as unlikeable on the whole as their star, lose by 30.

This is the end of my James Harden rant.

Josh Norman's next stop

Former Panthers corner Josh Norman is visiting the Redskins today and reports say they could sign him before the weekend. Norman's asking for an absurd amount of money. He's 28 years old and wants a long term deal worth $16 million. Reports say the Redskins and 49ers are looking more in the $14 million per year range. That's still crazy, but a touch more palatable.

Just because he's asking for a lot of money (and I'm certainly not faulting him for asking) doesn't mean that he's not a really, really good football player. He's not Patrick Peterson or Darrelle Revis. He may not be Richard Sherman, but he's right there and very close based on last year's performance. He's a zone corner, which is just fine for the Redskins. He's also shown the ability to lock guys up man-to-man.

The Skins run a variety of coverages, but love to run Cover 3. They struggled at times last year on the outside in that scheme and had more success late in the year running 2-deep coverages (Cover 2 and Cover 4 aka quarters). No matter the coverage, Norman would immediately become their best cover corner and give them one of the best outside pairings in the league. Bashaud Breeland played at a Pro Bowl level and probably would've garnered that honor if he would've made a few of the interceptions he was in position for. Norman doesn't have that problem. He's got exceptional ball skills and finishes plays.

If they sign Norman, the Redskins have a decision to make on Chris Culliver. Last year's big money cornerback signing could be cut easily, saving the Redskins $8 million dollars on the cap. Essentially they'd be signing Norman for $6 million this year. They could also move the big, physical Culliver to safety. There are real concerns about Kyshoen Jarrett's injury because of the nerve damage that it included. The Skins also have the oft-injured Duke Ihenacho and 32 going on 33-year-old Deangelo Hall. They could use someone in that spot and someone who already knows the defense, albeit from a different position, wouldn't be the worst option.

Culliver's fire and competitiveness helped change the culture in DC last year. He frankly did more in that department than on the field because of his injuries. However there are definitely pockets of the organization that aren't his biggest fan, so it wouldn't surprise me if cutting him was the move.

As for Norman, my thoughts on the move will all depend on the contract structure. If Washington can get out of it after a year or two, then I have no problem with spending big on a player of his caliber. If it's a true long-term commitment to a 28 year old corner who was difficult enough to deal with that Carolina decided to set him free as opposed to keeping him around for another Super Bowl run on a one year, franchise tag deal? Not exactly in favor.

Reads of the Day:

ESPN's Wright Thompson on the secret life of Tiger Woods is jaw-dropping. So many good nuggets. So much information. Set aside 30 minutes and dive in:

Peter King of the MMQB goes inside the Titans-Rams trade for the #1 pick:

There are so many good Prince pieces, but I particularly enjoyed this one because it involved Carlos Boozer, who is one of the last people I ever expected to have an amazing Prince story:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Podcast: Eric Edholm on the NFL Draft

Looking for a 25 minute NFL Draft crash course? You've come to the right place! Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sport's Shutdown Corner blog talks draft with me. We cover the evaluation process, some of the big names and touch on the Josh Norman story.

Follow Eric on Twitter here and read his work here.