Laurier Women’s Rugby Team Optimistic About Playoffs

For the first time since 2005, the Laurier women’s rugby team enters the OUA playoffs with a winning record.

Starting outside center Tamika Marks-Grant is a 5th year player who has been there through the dark days for the women’s rugby team. “My first two years on the team did not win a single game.” Grant-Marks recalls losing a game to Guelph 108-0 during her first two season. Losing was uncommon for Marks-Grant who won an OFSSA gold medal with Guelph high school Centennial in 2009.

It wouldn’t be until her third year on the team that Marks-Grant would finally win her first game as a Golden Hawk. The team qualified for the playoffs, but we quickly eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Grant-Marks missed her fourth year due to a concussion, but the team would again improve by a win, finishing at 2-3. For the second straight year, the team would again be quickly dispatched from the playoffs in the quarterfinals.

Grant-Marks can pinpoint a few reasons why the team has improved to 3-2 this season. “In my first year, we barely had enough healthy girls to field a team. There was about 20 max, but most of the girls were injured and were not able to play. This year has been the first time we have had a full 30 girl, enough to scrimmage with in games. The large numbers this year also helps to keep momentum since we have the subs there when someone goes down. This year we are more confident in our skills and our teammates. We also have about fourteen vets, either in fourth or fifth year, who are hungry for wins.”

Saturday, the team travels to London to take on Western in the quarterfinals. Grant-Marks described the feeling within the team when they clinched a playoff spot. “We were all excited and overjoyed. We know we are a team that can compete with the best. It has taken us awhile to get to this point where we have a real shot at advancing past the quarter finals.”

Two weeks ago Laurier faced Western and lost 46-14. However, this has not discouraged Grant-Marks or the team. “We expect to win. The last game we had against them during the regular season we mentally entered the game expecting not to perform well and that was reflected in the game. When we enter games with confidence we are able to play great rugby. The game we just played against Waterloo Warriors (Laurier won 52-17) is an example of how entering a game with confidence allows us to control the game. We want to come out of the gate running hard and not letting up for the full 80 minutes. We want to redeem ourselves!”

Game notes: Laurier lost to Western 64-19 on October 17th. An early injury to Laurier’s starting fullback 15 minutes in forced several lineup changes. Western gain momentum after several back to back tries and there was no looking back for the Mustangs. Grant-Marks described the outcome as “a very tough loss.”

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2015 World Series

This is a story, I wrote for the student paper over a month ago. My predictions are terrible.

As the seasons change from summer to fall, the search for baseball’s Mr. October begins, as the players seek immortality through their play in baseball’s Fall Classic the World Series.

October 18th 1977, Reggie Jackson stepped to the plate at Yankees Stadium in the bottom of the fourth inning. After hitting homeruns in game four and five, the Yankees were looking to win the series in front of 56,000 screaming fans. After walking on four consecutive pitches in the first inning, Jackson came to the plate with a runner on. Los Angeles Dodgers starter Burt Hooton threw the first pitch to Jackson who smashed the pitch over the outfield fence to give the Yankees their first lead of the game. Jackson came up for his third at bat in the fifth inning with a runner on again. Jackson would see just one pitch, as he sent the pitch into the bleachers. By the time Jackson came to the plate again in the eighth inning, chants of “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie” could be heard audibly from the Bronx faithful throughout the stadium. Knuckleballer, Charlie Hough readied and threw the first pitch to Jackson. With a loud crack of the bat, the ball rocketed off the bat of Jackson and landed 475 feet from the plate. The Yankees would go on to win the World Series behind the MVP performance of Jackson, whose legend was created as “Mr. October.”

The 2015 Major League Baseball playoffs are searching for one player to lay claim to the title of Mr. October and carry their team to postseason glory in the same manor Jackson did in 1977.

Following 162 games, there is no denying that each team is tremendously talented, but each team also carries a potentially fatal flaw. The question will be which team will protect their flaws and expose another team’s fatal flaw.

In the American League it’s a three team race. The Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas Royals clinched the division and avoid the one game wild card playoff. While the third team in the race, the Yankees must first win the one game elimination playoff before moving on. In the National League it is a wide open race among the five teams, with no clear favourite.

The Blue Jays have relied on a heavy hitting offense that features three potential Mr. October candidates in homerun sluggers Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and likely AL MVP Josh Donaldson. If the Jays are to make a deep run this year, it will be based off the strength of their offense that scored over 800 runs. The fatal flaw will be the starting pitchers not named David Price. Former Cy Young winner, Price is the one known quantity in the Jays’ rotation. The Blue Jays’ are depending on three of Mark Buehrle, Marcus Stroman, R.A. Dickey and Marco Estrada. Buehrle’s shoulder has been a question mark for his late season starts as he has had starts pushed back and struggled to log innings. While Stroman has made only a handful of starts following March ACL surgeries is far from a guarantee. Dickey is in his early 40s and prone to giving up big innings and long balls. Estrada has the lowest upside of the three and relies on generating weak contact to gets outs. If the pitching staff can win two games each series on days that Price does not pitch, the Jays are poised for a deep run.

The Royals’ have led the AL Central from start to finish, but have faded near the end of the season. The biggest strength of the Royals was their bullpen that was able to turn games into six inning affairs by shutting down opponents from the seventh inning onward. However, injury to closer Greg Holland turns the Royals’ biggest strength into a question mark as depth will now be an issue as everyone is pushed up an inning. The offense scored over 700 runs, despite getting below average offensive contributions from catcher, second base, shortstop and right field. With a shaky starting rotation lead by Edinson Volquez, pitching will ultimately prove to be the fatal flaw for the Royals. If the Royals are to make a deep run it will be on the shoulders of homegrown talent such as Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain who all have on base plus slugging percentages over 800.

The Yankees must overcome a one game playoff before advancing, but there is a strong possibility the Yankees make a deep run into October. The Yankees’ Mr. October could prove to be a player they wanted nothing to do with for the past two years, Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has turned from hated cheater to cheered anti-hero for his ability to hit the ball out of the park. The Yankees offer perhaps the most balanced team, a dependable, but not spectacular pitching staff and a similarly described offense. The biggest flaw the Yankees have is their age and the negative consequences related to injury that come with starting an everyday lineup with only one regular starter younger than 31.

In the National League wildcard game, the Chicago Cubs travel to Pittsburgh for one game showdown. The Chicago Cubs have succeeding based on the strength of their pitching staff lead by Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta. But the flaw the Cubs have is their inexperience and dependence on young talent. If the bright lights and national spotlight get to the rookie tandem of Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber the title draught will continue in the windy city. If the 107 year Curse of the Billy Goat is to be broken it will be behind one of Bryant or Schwarber’s Mr. October performance.

The Pirates are built in a similar pitching first model of the Cubs. The Pirates rotation starts with former top pick Gerrit Cole, but backend of the rotation of A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano must overcome past postseason failures. The Pirates candidate for Mr. October is former MVP Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates offense will go as far as McCutchen carries it.

While the Cubs offer young talented bats, the New York Mets offer young talented starting pitching which will determine their postseason fate. If Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom pitch well the Mets postseason stay could be prolonged. The problem for the Mets is their offense. It was a tale of two halves for the Mets, who struggled in the first half, before coming alive in the second half to over take the Washington Nationals for the NL East title. Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes was a revelation when he was traded to the Mets at the trade deadline. If the power surge Cespedes provided in the second half continues, the Mets Mr. October candidate will be the reason why.

The Dodgers are built around perennial Cy Young candidates and past winners Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. However, for all of his regular season success, Kershaw has struggled in past playoff appearances. If the Dodgers are to advance they need Kershaw to play the role of Mr. October. The Dodgers highly paid lineup only surpassed the 600 run total this season, but if Kershaw and Greinke dominate like they can, offense will be less of an issue.

If there is a favourite in the National League, it is the St. Louis Cardinals, who from the lowest levels in the minor leagues to the majors are baseballs best run team. Built around a strong pitching staff the Cardinals had the best record in the majors from start to finish. The flaw of the Cardinals is their offense which only averaged four runs a game. The offense and pitching staffs could both take a hit if catcher Yadier Molina’s late season injury prevents him from playing. If Molina is healthy he could be the Cardinals’ Mr. October.

Predictions:

Wild Card Winners: Yankees and Cubs

ALDS Winners: Yankees and Blue Jays

NLDS Winners: Dodgers and Cubs

ALCS Winner: Yankees         MVP: Alex Rodriguez

NLCS Winner: Cubs               MVP: Jake Arrieta

World Series: Yankees            MVP: Masahiro Tanaka

Brantford Halts Subdivision Expansion

City councillors listen to residents’ pleas and vote unanimously to halt planned construction in phase three of the Pace Avenue subdivision.

Following a two and a half hour discussion, the nine city councillors present all voted against the rezoning of land along Pace Ave. The land was to be used to build five more single family homes in the subdivision. Ward One councillor Larry Kings and Ward 5 councillor David Neumann were absent from the Committee of the Whole meeting to vote.

The first hour and a half of the discussion was painfully slow as councillors attempted to gain a better understanding of the situation and what the developer was attempting to accomplish and how it would affect current residents of the subdivision. The developer had filed an application to rezone land on Pace Ave to build five single family homes and move a storm water pond sitting on the land to complete the third and final phase of the subdivision. Ward four councillor Rick Carpenter went through the over 30 page report and questioned nearly every point in the report, gathering answers from the engineers, city officials, city planners and the developer.

However, it was not until the residents of the Pace Ave subdivision were given a chance to speak did the councillors fully grasp what some residents have had to live through for almost 19 years.

“I’ve lived in a construction zone for years.” Said Laura Flannigan who bought one of the first houses built in the Pace Ave subdivision. Flannigan’s sentiment was shared by all but one of the 11 residents who took to the podium to talk to council.

Real Estate agent Terry Hardy moved out of the subdivision in the fall of 2014 after describing his frustration with a lack of progress being made to complete the subdivision. “Residents who pay five to six thousand dollars in property taxes expect to have roads paved, sidewalks completed and no mounds of dirt making the land look like a construction site. I’ve never paid so much in taxes and been so embarrassed in where I live.” Said Hardy.

Hardy’s complaints of incomplete parts of the subdivision are some of the 53 outstanding items that have not been completed from the first two phases of the subdivision plan. Hardy also noted that from May to October 2014, a high percentage of residents put their homes up for sale due to frustration over the lack of completion. Hardy himself, sold three houses within the subdivision.

Of all the residents to voice their displeasure with the proposed rezoning, none spoke with a passion of Kurt Rose. Rose moved into the subdivision nine years ago. “I’ve lived in a construction zone for nine years.”

Rose also brought up the pond that the developer wanted to move as part of the proposed third phase. “I was under the belief the pond would always be there. It was the reason we bought our house.” Said Rose.

Rose’s concerns did not end with the lack of completion and the moving of the pond. Rose’s main concern was safety. “Safety should be our number one concern and I’m not sure that beings meet. There was a fire in 2014 and the street has no secondary access. The fire truck had to use land on phase three to turn around.” Said Rose.

Rose ended his speech with a question to councillors’ to ponder, “Where will we be left again if these are not built to completion again.” Said Rose.

Following councillors hearing the concerns of every resident who wished to speak, the councillors briefly dilated prior to voting.

“When people can’t enjoy their neighbourhoods it’s a sad state.” Said Ward four councillor Cheryl Antoski.

Antoski’s sentiments were backed by Ward two councillor John Utley who described the expectations of owners when they first purchased homes in the subdivision years ago. “Homeowners envisioned owning a home where they could look out their windows and see a pond. Instead they will be see housing. There expectations will never be meet and I will not be supporting the motion.” Said Utley.

Ward one councillor Rick Weaver heard the cries from Rose about safety and said “I will not support the proposal because of the lack of access for emergency vehicles.” Said Weaver.

“It’s hard to gain their trust back after what they’ve been through… I will not be supporting the development.” Said Carpenter.

Ward two councillor John Sless provided the most colourful explanation for not voting for the proposal. “It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. You wake up and nothing changes. I will not support the motion.” Said Sless.

With councillors voting against phase three of the development, the developer is allowed launch an appeal and attempt to get the decision overturned.

 

NBC Scores A Knockout

March 8, 2015

NBC scores a knockout with its debut broadcast of Premier Boxing Champions, bringing the sport back to national primetime television.

From the very beginning of the 8:30 broadcast, NBC made it abundantly clear how serious the network is about its decision to invest in boxing. NBC’s broadcast achieved its goal of generating interest in its Saturday night programing.

For NBC, the premier episode of the series could not have come at a better time for the network. Interest was surely peaked with news that the sports two biggest stars agreed to fight on May 2nd.

The broadcast started with an opening credits in the mold of NBC’s very successful Sunday Night Football. The opening video was successful in communicating to viewers exactly who the boxers were and that they are in fact stars in a sport that desperately needs more.

NBC and the MGM Grand made an interesting decision to have Al Michaels, the multiple time winning Emmy broadcaster’s mic live throughout the arena generating crowd reactions to his every word. Michaels provided the show with instant credibility to tell casual viewers that NBC’s venture into boxing is a big deal that you need to watch.

After a video promoting one of the events two main events, Michaels brought out boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard was eager to promote the important of boxing being on network television primetime for the first time in 30 years. Leonard articulated to the audience how important for the sport of boxing being on primetime is. The point is even more essential with the commonly held believe among people who are not fans of the sport that boxing is a dying form of competition.

Michaels and Leonard would go onto discussion the first bout featuring former three division champion, and cocky loud mouth Adrien “The Problem” Broner. Before throwing to Laila Ali in a pre-recorded interview with the challenger John Molina Jr. Ali, the daughter of boxing legend Mohammed, came off as a star instant. The charisma and knowledge of Ali jumped of the screen whenever she was on camera. In her interview with Molina, the boxer promised a slugfest and again promoted the importance of network television.

Calling the action for NBC was Marv Albert. The network choose to introduce him by showing the last call Albert made of boxing on network television. The decision to do so, aged Albert badly. However, Albert’s performance was solid throughout the broadcast. Albert successfully called the action within the squared circle while displaying great chemistry with his colour analyst Leonard. The ability of Albert and Leonard to successfully navigate and articulate relevant questions and answers to the viewers, greatly improved the broadcast’s informative nature to casual boxing fans who may have been tuning into to view the sport for the first time in years. However, Albert did show some rust calling boxing as his calls of the action inside the ring were lacking at times throughout the night.

Broner and Molina opened the action in the ring. Both fighters came down a rather ugly and seemingly unnecessary catwalk on their way to the ring. NBC seemed to dictate that neither fighter come out with any member of their corner or entourage. While also tuning down the entrance music subduing the effect of the entrance. Broner entered the ring the heavy favourite. While Molina promised to “Bring the Problem.” Molina was the heavy crowd favourite as the antics of the younger Broner have turned off many fans making him one of the sport’s biggest villains.

As the bell rung to signal the start of the bout, Broner, usually a slow starter got off to an impressive start. Broner decisively took the first two rounds with a very cautious Molina, who could only land a single punch in round one. Broner’s trainer Mike Stafford had little respect for Molina. “Molina is a one punch fighter. We aren’t going to lose to a one punch fighter.” Said Stafford.

Molina won his only round of the night according to unofficial scorer Steve Farhood in the third as he put together a powerful combination. The three punch combo proved to be one of the few outburst of offense that Molina had on the night. The most impressive part of Molina’s game Saturday night was his trunks. On each leg, Molina had an airbrushed picture of the face of one of his friends who recently passed away.

From round four onward till the conclusion of the 12th and final round, Broner completely outclassed his opponent. It appeared Broner had toned down his in ring antics until the eighth round while tied up with Molina on the ropes, Broner stuck out his tongue began to dance in a clownish fashion and continued to trash talk Molina. In the 10th round Albert questioned former referee Steve Smoger about referee’s Robert Byrd’s performance in the fight. Smoger replied, “It’s not a tough fight to officiate. It’s a tough fight for Molina.”

The fight proved to be disappointing for both the audience and the network who were surely both hoping for a knockout. The bout proved to be rather boring as two of the three scored all 12 rounds for Broner. In a post-fight interview, Broner discussed the crowd who booed him the entire night. “Last time I fought for the crowd I lost.” Broner was quickly cut off before he could get the network into any trouble with a live mic in front of him.

Between fights, NBC showed another phenomenal video promoting the next episode of PBC on April 11th featuring Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. The video outlined the rise from humble beginnings of both fighters.

The main event featured two fighters looking to lay claim to the title or at least enter the conversation of top welterweight not named Floyd Mayweather Jr or Manny Pacquiao. NBC billed Robert Guerrero as a fighter who had only lost once in the past nine years. That one loss to Mayweather. While Thurman was depicted as an up and coming power punching star, who is stepping up in class from his former opponents to face Guerrero.

As with the first fight, vignettes ran telling the story behind each fighter. Guerrero’s video package was based on his family as much as it was his career as a boxer. The video outlined how fighting is a Guerero family tradition as Robert is a third generation fighter with his father training him. But Robert was quick to praise his wife Casey as the best fighter within the family. Casey is in her fifth year of being cancer free following her victory over leukemia. Casey required a bone marrow transplant during which time Robert took a hiatus from his boxing career.

The video of Thurman was used to demonstrate both the speed and power Thurman poses. After the video concluded B.J. Flores, who was used well the entire night interviewed Thurman about how the fighter uses visualization. Thurman gave an excellent, well-articulated description of exactly how he saw the fight going. Thurman visualized himself knocking Guerrero out, however said he did visualize a plan b, in which he would use his skills as a boxer to lead him to victory.

The introduction of both fighters left the viewer knowing that the crowd was going to be behind Thurman. Kenny Bayless was the third man in the ring and was given a strong review by Smoger for his refereeing throughout the bout. Albert continued to note how Thurman was very inexperienced when it came to fighting left handed fighters.

Thurman got out to a quick start winning the opening two rounds. The early rounds featured fast paced action where both fighters landed powerful punches. In the second round, Leonard noted how it appeared Thurman had hurt Guerrero with one of his powerful right hands. In the third round, Thurman and Guerrero’s head collided accidentally and left Thurman with a large welt on his forehead.

Throughout the bout, Thurman displayed both the speed, strength and defense that has made him such a highly touted prospect. The head movement of Thurman made him a difficult target to land punches on throughout the first half of the fight.

As the fight entered the seventh round the action had noticeably slowed from the earlier rounds. However, in the ninth round with his welt noticeably increased in size, Thurman was able to send Guerrero to the canvas. As the cameras began to zoom in and focus on the face of Guerrero as Bayless gave him the ten count, blood was streaming down from his eye. Guerrero beat the count before being saved by the bell before Thurman had a chance to finish the fight.

The knockdown seemed to energize Guerrero who seemed out of the fight following the knockout. Despite taking a powerful combination from Thurman, Guerrero was able to respond back with his own power punches. As Guerrero continued to fight and refused to back down the crowd turned it allegiances and loudly backed Guerrero.

However, it was all too late for Guerrero. Guerrero kept coming in the eleventh and twelfth rounds. As he was too far behind to win the fight by decision. Guerrero did stun Thurman in the final round but could not score the knockout he needed to win the fight.

As the bell rang to conclude the action on NBC, the judgers presented their scorecards. Thurman won unanimously by the scores of 120-107, 118-109 and 118-108. The victory cemented Thurman as a top contender within the 147lb division.

Some quick notes. I scored the first fight 119-109 in favour of Broner. With the victory, Broner would appear to be in line for the winner of one of two fights. Broner could challenge either winner in the April 11th PBC main event featuring Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson. Or Broner could challenge the winner of Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse.

In the second fight I was generous and gave the last two rounds to Guerrero. I had Thurman winning 116-111. For Guerrero getting a next big fight will be an interesting proposition. Guerrero is positioned as an entertaining fighter but not an elite caliber fighter. A matchup with former Mayweather opponent Marcos Maidana could provide boxing fans with the most entertaining matchup.

For Thurman, his next opponent will likely be a fighter considered to be in the top five rating of The Ring Magazine’s welterweight division. A matchup with another young up and coming such as Kell Brook or Shawn Porter would be an excellent matchup. However both fighters are currently signed for upcoming fights. Two fighters who are not signed for a fight that would be interested in a fight with Thurman include Juan Manuel Marquez and Amir Khan. With Thurman receiving mainstream exposure, a Marquez matchup could headline a pay-per view and generate 300-400 thousand buys. But with pay-per view considered a business on the decline, Thurman may angle for another PBC fight with Amir Khan to build his profile before angling for a bigger pay-per view fight and payday.

The night can be considered successful by NBC as the network won the night generating a 2.53 rating and 3.13 million viewers. The results are interesting as they outdrew the last UFC on Fox card featuring Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson.

Brantford MP Phil McColeman

Phil McColeman takes lessons learned from education and business experience as a home builder as framework for his political career as Brant Conservative MP.

61 year old Phil McColeman will be running for re-election in October for Parliament. McoColeman will be looking to win his Brant riding for the third time since 2008, but it is the lessons learned throughout his university career and business venture building houses that shape the way he views politics.

McColeman’s decision to enter politics came in 2006 following the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal involving the Paul Martin Liberal government. “Corruption happens, what made me the most upset was that the people showed no remorse, saying it’s the government’s money. No it’s my money… Its good hardworking people’s money who pay taxes… It’s their money not the government’s money… I trust the government to spend it properly.” Said McColeman.

But McColeman’s introduction in politics came from his business interests. Starting a family construction business over 25 years ago, he became a government lobbyist. McColeman became the local president of the Brantford Home Builders Association before becoming the provincial leader. He recalls having to meet with Ontario Premiers about the home building industry and ways to improve affordability and becoming more energy efficiency.

The building blocks of McColeman’s career can be traced back even further when he was in grade 13 and decided to make the drive to Waterloo to speak with the Dean of Admissions of Wilfrid Laurier University. After discussion with admissions, McColeman says he was “lucky to get into university.” As he was able to convinced admissions to grant him admission on a probationary status. McColeman eventually graduated and went on to attend Kent State University where he worked as a grad assistant. Today, McColeman is still associated with the university that gave him a chance as he serves on the Wilfrid Laurier board representing the Brantford campus.

Through his university experience, McColeman described post-secondary education as transformative. “Education transformed my life and others. Young people need the opportunity to become educated at all levels.” Said McColeman.

Education is one of the key areas of interest for McColeman. The Conservative backbencher is also interested working with people with disabilities. McColeman works closes with the Federal Minister to improve life for the disabled. McColeman’s other passion comes from his business interest of home building. McColeman has been working to change the tax framework placed on every new house that is built. The tax is eventually passed down to the homebuyer. McColeman pointed to the city of Markham where the tax reaches $54,000. He suggests the government needs to intervene and set a controlled tax.

With just over six months until the election, McColeman outlines the issues he feels will be the major issues come October 19th. He states health care as being a traditional issue that comes up every election. He then points to two other sectors that will be the major issues during campaigning. McColeman describes the economy as healthy but notes how jobs and employment will be a major issue.

The third issue that McColeman predicts as being a major topic of discussion are related to world events such as terrorism and security. McColeman brings up Bill C-51, Canada’s Counter Terrorism Act that gives more power to the police and RCMP. Bill C-51 allows for the detaining of individuals who are directly tied to a terrorist organization. The process as described by McColeman, has the police go before the judge and present evidence. If the judge rules in favour of the police, they are issues a warrant to arrest the suspect, search their property and hold the suspect for ten days.

McColeman describes his relationship with the media as one based on trust. He says the media can paint a stereotypical picture of what every political party and politician looks like. In the opinion of McColeman, this is a lack of disrespect shown by the media. However, he also believes that each party paints the picture of their party in the public sphere, based on popular opinion and constructs. But McColeman concedes that both sides, the media and government must eliminate the distrust between the two parties along with any biases. Sticking to his belief, McColeman is an open book with the media. “Everyone in the media has my cell phone number. It could ring right now. I need to be accountable to the local media.” Said McColeman, who promises members of the media that he will produce a response to their question before their deadline.

McColeman describes himself as “driven and motivated.” He views himself as a results orientated man. “I want to see results. I want results as fast as possible.” Said McColeman. The building blocks of McColeman’s success in business, family and politics are due to the character he has developed throughout his life. He describes his theory on his personal character as “the power of the individual.” A theory he developed through his father, an honest, hardworking blue collar Canadian who worked multiple jobs to support his family. For McColeman, he looks to help people with similar ideals. People he describes as looking to create their own success and are self-reliant in order to live fulfilling lives.

Despite a business career of over 25 years and a political career that is in its seventh year, McColeman still views his greatest accomplishment as his family, including his four children and four grandchildren.

Bills Acquire Matt Cassel

March 4th, 2015

The Buffalo Bills have made their second trade in as many days as they acquire quarterback Matt Cassel from the Minnesota Vikings for an undisclosed draft pick.
A day after trading for running back LeSean McCoy from the Philadelphia Eagles, General Manager Doug Whaley was back at it again today. Bills beat reporter Joe Buscaglia tweeted last night after the McCoy trade, “The Bills are being very aggressive. I would not be surprised if there is another move soon.” Tweeted Buscaglia.
The move foreshadowed by Buscaglia addresses one of the Bills’ biggest needs, the quarterback position. With the retirement of last year’s starter Kyle Orton, the Bills were set to enter OTAs with former first round pick EJ Manuel as the starter.
In Cassel, the Bills acquire a player with near identical career numbers to the player he will be replacing on the roster, Orton. Both Cassel and Orton are 32 years old. Cassel’s $4.5 million dollar salary is just a shade cheaper than what the Bills paid Orton last season. Orton and Cassel both entered the league in 2005. Orton started out of the gate for the Chicago Bears replacing an injured Rex Grossman. While Cassel, spent his first few seasons backing up Tom Brady in New England. After ten years in the league, Orton has started eleven more games and thrown 350 more pass attempts. Orton holds the slight edge in completion percentage at 59.5 per cent compared to Cassel’s 59 per cent. The similarities continue across the board as Orton and Cassel, have near identical touchdown to interception ratio, average yards per pass.
The move for the Bills is the definition of a lateral move. The team neither improved nor regressed. The strategy seems obvious for the Bills as they will lean heavily on the running game while hoping Cassel can operate as a game manager who limits mistakes.
The trade cannot officially be announced until March 10th due to league rules.

LeSean McCoy Traded For Kiko Alonso

LeSean McCoy Traded For Kiko Alonso

March 3rd 2015

The Buffalo Bills land LeSean McCoy in trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for Kiko Alonso.
In the first major surprise of the NFL off-season the Bills acquired the 2013 NFL rushing champion for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso had a fantastic rookie season in 2013, but missed all of 2014 following a torn ACL.
Major trades are a rarity for NFL teams, who will routinely cut players they view as unworthy of their contract. A one for one trade for key starters on opposite sides of the football is even rarer. Nearly eleven years ago to the day, the NFL saw a similar trade that saw the Denver Broncos trade running back Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins for cornerback Champ Bailey and a second round pick.
Portis was coming off of a Pro Bowl season for the Broncos when they traded him to the Redskins, where he would go on to play seven seasons for the Redskins. In four of Portis’s seven season he gained over 1500 all-purpose yards.
While the Broncos would get one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play in Champ Bailey. Bailey would play ten seasons for the Broncos making nine Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams. The next stop for Bailey, will be the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Both the Bills and Eagles are hoping for similar results. The Eagles are hoping that former Oregon star Alonso regains his pre-injury form. While the Bills are banking on McCoy remaining a top five running back for the next three seasons. But the trade has far more layers than just the players switching teams.
The Bills inherit McCoy’s larger contract. McCoy has three years remaining on his contract for three years and $25.3 million dollars. The three years will likely represent the final years in McCoy’s NFL career as an elite back, but with running backs there is always the possibility that McCoy never makes it to the third year of the contract.
For the Eagles, they take a $3.4 million dollar cap hit for trading McCoy but saving $8.6 million by trading McCoy. Kiko Alonso is significantly cheaper, making under $1.8 million dollars combined for 2015 and 2016. The move also allows the Eagles to releasing the aging DeMeco Ryans who is coming off of a torn Achilles tendon. Cutting Ryans would save the Eagles $6.9 million dollars. The big question for the Eagles will be how to spend the extra money they have gained after releasing Trent Cole and Cary Williams. The Eagles will have nearly $30 million dollars in cap space going into free agency. Enough to sign at least one premier free agent.
The question every fan wants to know is who won. The easy answer would be the say the Bills as they got the best player in the deal and if you ask Clinton Portis, that’s exactly what he says. “The Bills really won in this trade and I know for LeSean McCoy, there’s some aggravation in being traded, you feel like you’ve done so much for a city, but you have an opportunity to go to a team that wants you, play for Rex Ryan, a guy you know will run the ball.” Said Portis
But Portis also added, “This is a trade, I really don’t understand… I don’t see Kiko Alonso turning out to be a J.J. Watt or a Ray Lewis, just dominating this conference… Maybe he does, but I don’t see it. It’ll be hard to do.” Said Portis to NFL AM on the NFL Network.
However, this trade is as even as they get for trades. Both teams fill needs and accomplished a goal they had in mind. If there is a winner you have to lean toward the Eagles. The Eagles can use the newly created cap space to sign a cheaper option at running back who may not be as elite a talent as McCoy but fits Eagles’ Head Coach Chip Kelly’s offensive system better. The Eagles have filled their need at middle linebacker and can potentially sign two starters with the cap space created. While the Bills made the trade do to the emergence of Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham, two young linebackers drafted by the Bills who filled the void of Alonso last season. The move also signals the end of former first round pick CJ Spiller’s time in Buffalo.