5 Offensive players for the Pittsburgh Steelers

It is the first preseason game. There is a certain amount of excitement which accompanies the first football game of the year, even if it is a meaningless exhibition. However, if you haven’t been glued to the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, but want to know who to keep an eye on in the game Friday night, we’ve got you covered.

Here are 5 offensive players to keep an eye on in the game at Heinz Field. Keep in mind the focus of this task was based on the players who will still see significant playing time despite it being the first preseason game.

Sammie Coates – WR – No. 14

There is a massive amount of anticipation surrounding Sammie Coates. After a rookie season which saw him inactive more than active on game days, he had a tremendous performance in the AFC Divisional round against the Denver Broncos. However, that was just one game. Now, Coates has had a very solid training camp to date, and looks to step in and help fill the void vacated by suspended Martavis Bryant. He still has some consistency issues, but Friday night should see him get plenty of repetitions and targets as he prepares for a bigger role in 2016.

Landry Jones – QB – No. 3

In 2015 Mike Tomlin suggested no quarterback has ever played as many snaps as Landry Jones did in the preseason. He might be right, but Jones still has a lot to prove in 2016, and will likely see a great deal of repetitions in the 2016 preseason. The Steelers are hoping Jones, or Bruce Gradkowski, will step up and be the team’s true No. 2 quarterback, and Jones will have his chance with the starters for the first game on Friday night.

Jesse James – TE – No. 81

With news of Ladarius Green and his health issues being the hot topic surrounding Steelers fans, Friday night fans should focus on Jesse James at tight end. The Penn State product was a pleasant surprise as a rookie in 2015, but has he evolved into an every down player? Only time will tell, and Friday night against the Lions will be the first step. Look for James not just as a receiving threat, but watch him in the trenches in both pass blocking and run blocking. That is where his true maturation will have to show.

Alejandro Villanueva – OT – No. 78

The battle for starting left tackle rages on, and Alejandro Villanueva looks as if he is the man to beat for the job. Villanueva and Ryan Harris are in a very heated competition for the right to protect the blindside of the quarterback, and every snap of the preseason will matter in this competition. Villanueva will most likely start the game, but how he performs will be the test of whether he continues to start games. Keep an eye on the man they call ‘Big Al’ early and often.

Eli Rogers – WR – No. 17

The Steelers have an opening on their depth chart for their 5th WR spot. Most likely, the player to win this battle will not just be able to play the slot on offense, but also handle return duties. Eli Rogers has been taking advantage of the opportunities coming his way and will look to continue his progression on Friday night in Week 1 of the preseason. Keep an eye on Rogers as a receiver, but especially on Rogers as a return man, both kickoff and punt return duties. This is where the job will likely be won, or lost.

Are there surprises in store for the Pittsburgh Steelers leading up to draft day?

History has shown that surprises can pop up in the days before the draft, and even on the day of the draft.

In 1996, the Pittsburgh Steelers caused a stir by trading a second round selection and a fourth rounder the following season to the Rams for Jerome Bettis. The rest is Hall of Fame history as “The Bus” became the face of the team and helped drive it to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl XL victory.

In 2003, the Steelers traded up eleven spots in the first round and gave up their third and sixth round picks in that draft to select Troy Polamalu.

In 2006, they gave away their third and fourth round selections to move up seven spots to take WR Santonio Holmes.

Ever since they made that move to nab Holmes back in ‘06, the Steelers have stood pat on their first round selection position.

So, might it be time for another draft day surprise? Free agency could still dictate.

The Carolina Panthers release of Pro-Bowl corner, Josh Norman, set off a flurry of speculation as to whether the Steelers would try and sign him. The Steelers did express interest, but so did a lot of other teams. Eventually, the Redskins signed him to a 5-year, 75 million dollar deal, which is more than the Steelers could afford.

However, the whole situation raised an intriguing question: might the Steelers sign another player lingering in free agency no man’s land just before the draft?

It turns out that there are a few free agents still without a contract:

Free Agent Possibilities:

One of the most interesting players in this category is defensive back Walter Thurmond. Much has been written about Thurmond’s flirtation with retirement. The obvious question is whether this is just a ploy on Thurmond’s part to entice an NFL team to offer him a lucrative contract. The fact that he hasn’t retired yet indicates that he’s holding open the possibility of returning.

If the Steelers signed him, it could change their draft strategy, enabling them to focus more on other areas that need an infusion of depth.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers is also available. Powers is 28 and played in 82 out of a possible 87 games since being selected in the third round in 2009. Powers recently visited with the Giants, but never signed a contract. He’s a bit on the small side, measuring 5’9″ and 190 pounds, but in those 82 starts has totaled 11 interceptions.

Jason Jones is another player on the market who the Steelers already met with. The 6’5″ 272 pound defensive end visited with the team in the early portions of free agency, but never signed. He’s still looking for a team and would definitely provide much needed depth and skill along the defensive front.

Other Draft Options:

Is it possible that the Steelers could look to swing a deal in the first round, either trading up or down? Traditionally, they don’t trade up very often, and this year they need as many picks as they can get. It’s unlikely they’d trade away a second or third round selection to move up, particularly when this draft is deep on the defensive side of the ball.

However, they could move in the opposite direction, and it might be worth while to do so. By trading down or even out of the first round, they could pick up an additional pick or two, perhaps an additional third rounder and a fifth to replace the one lost in last year’s Brandon Boykin deal.

It’s always interesting to speculate what the Steelers will do in the days leading up to the draft. This year, more than those in recent memory, there are some moves that could be made…

…perhaps even the next big surprise.

Pittsburgh’s Strip District Steelers stores are a football fan’s gold mine

ocals and out-of-towners alike know that no region beats out the city’s Strip District neighborhood when it comes to authentic Steelers memorabilia, clothing, accessories and more. Every day, thousands of black and gold fans gather to browse the streets of Penn Avenue, Smallman Street and their neighboring streets to find the biggest bargains on essential Steelers gear. If you’re searching for the best and most unique Pittsburgh sports merchandise, these three Strip District Steelers stores are a football fan’s gold mine.

Albert’s Gifts

With one of the city’s largest collection of black and gold merchandise all in one place, Albert’s Gifts is a massive must-see shopping stop for any Steelers fan. Whether you’re searching for unique apparel and jewelry, Steelers-themed car decorations, pennants and flags, bobble heads, collectibles and even home décor, you’ll find it at Albert’s Gifts—and at some of the best bargains in the ‘Burgh. While you’re there, browse the store’s extensive collection of additional Pittsburgh sports products, including Penguins and Pirates essentials, military-themed gifts and state souvenirs. Albert’s Gifts is located at 3001 Penn Avenue.

Mike Feinberg Company

Between its black and gold exterior and jam-packed storefront windows filled with Steelers merchandise, there’s no doubt that “you’re in Steelers Country”, as the store’s banner reads, when you arrive at Penn Avenue’s Mike Feinberg Company. When it comes to the most unusual, popular or hard to find sports memorabilia, you’re likely to find it at this Strip District favorite. Marketed as the city’s Party King, Mike Feinberg Company has everything you need to make your next tailgating party complete, from party supplies and tableware to black and gold-themed costumes, air horns, pom-pom shakers and car embellishments. Mike Feinberg Company is situated at 1736 Penn Avenue between Schorin Company, Inc. and Parma Sausage Products, Inc.

J. Marcus Wholesalers

J. Marcus Wholesalers has been a Strip District sports team staple for more than three decades following this family owned and operated company’s desire to bring the best black and gold merchandise to the heart of Pittsburgh. Officially licensed Steelers items, including apparel, home décor, collectibles, tailgating essentials, tools and car accessories and even pet gear are among the retailer’s most popular picks for Pittsburghers looking to show off their Steelers pride. Locals and out-of-towners alike will appreciate the huge collection of Pittsburgh Nation items that range from hats and shirts to puzzles, iPhone cases and novelty towels. J. Marcus Wholesalers is located at 1728 Smallman Street with convenient parking nearby.

Magical Inspirations For Decoupage Projects

our imagination is the only limit when it comes to finding decoupage inspirations. You can conjure presents and works of art and make them materialize right before your eyes. You can even turn back time and make old furniture new again (or vice versa, making new furniture seem antique).

A table napkin, a doily, a photograph-they can all be transformed into objects d’artes by the magic of decoupage. At its heart decoupage entails translating an image onto a prepared surface-be it wood, glass or even ceramic. The finished image, nestled on its new home, is then layered with varnish or wax to realize your desired aesthetic effect.

Among decoupage enthusiasts, handmade paper, because of its versatility, is the hot medium right now. But you need not follow this latest trend. With a vigilant eye you can save those candy wrappers and labels and even used stamps that would have found their graves at the local landfill, and give them a second less utilitarian life as the patterns and images in your latest decoupage master work. Similarly, left over gift wrap can find new utility as the verisimilar 3 dimensional images on greeting cards and hand-made book covers. Just apply the repeated gift wrap images to paper and cut them to fit their new context.

Even Nature’s little works of art-autumn leaves, tulips, seashells, or parrot feathers-can be civilized and pressed into service as part of the intricate detailing that transforms mundane coffee tables or jewelry boxes into beautiful crafted objects of aesthetic appreciation. Or even something as simple as a lampshade. Just imagine taking that dirty old lampshade, giving it a good cleaning and then embellishing it with a scene captured right from the natural world, a virtual tapestry with real pressed lilies and the discarded yellow feathers from your parakeet. The ugly old lampshade is now a conversation piece.

Even over-looked second-hand items that crowd thrift stores, the detritus of our industrial age, can be reincarnated by the life giving force of decoupage. An old stained but sturdy chest of drawers can be raised from its tomb in the basement to become an art center where you store and organize your brushes and pigments when they are not in use-or maybe even a newborn’s changing table and then a storage space for the child’s toys as he or she grows.

(Here’s a tip from a seasoned decoupage enthusiast on which varnish to choose: A quick drying water-based varnish is perfect for protecting pieces from scratches and scuffs and even a bit of heat. A thicker, oil-based varnish is the way to go when you want to give an item that yellowed tint of an antique; you can even give new furniture that crackled or marbled effect with an oil-based varnish, so that the new becomes old again for the very first time. )

As I said before, only your imagination is the limit. Just think of all the possible, low-cost yet personalized gift ideas: a set of penguin coasters for the aunt who loves arctic themes, a Hannah Montana protective book jacket for your tween’s biology textbook or a Steeler’s logo for your football obsessed husband’s coffee mug. The possibilities end only at the hazy far reaches of your dream space.

The Incredible Inclines – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“Learning is it’s own exceeding great reward.”

William Hazlitt

If you ever have the chance to visit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania I would recommend that you stay in one of the hotels on the south bank of the Monongahela River located in a place called “Station Square”. The views of the incredible Pittsburgh skyline rising up above the brown Monongahela river with its bridges and barges is amazing to say the least. There are all kinds of shops, stores and restaurants in Station Square and a clean, convenient subway / trolley (known locally as the “T”) that provides easy access to the bustling downtown area know as the Golden triangle.

Although there are many reasons to visit Pittsburgh as a tourist such as professional baseball and football, the Pirates and Steelers respectively there are also many historical gems you can find if you look for them. Most people know about Fort Pitt, and the Carnegie Museum on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh but my favorite attractions are two relics of an era gone by, across the Monongahela River from the skyscrapers on Mount Washington.

These two anomalies are the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines. Back in the mid and late 1800s there were scores of German immigrants living on Mount Washington who would make the trek down the bluff each day to work in the mills, rail yards and coal barges of the Steel City. If you look at Mount Washington today from Station Square, you will understand how these immigrants got tired of this daily slog and proposed the construction of several “inclines” like they had back in Germany so that they could easily get up and down the mountain.

Originally there were as many as 17 of these Inclines or “Funiculars” which is their technical name meaning inclined plane or cliff railway. The two remaining inclines are owned and operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County. The inclines are rustic looking conveyances that look somewhat like a skiing tram on the outside and an old trolley car on the inside. Both of the remaining inclines have their own station buildings at the bottom and top of Mount Washington. Each station has two cars and two sets of tracks which are side by side.

These pairs of trolley like cars are connected by a cable and as one car moves up, the other car on the adjacent track moves down. The ascending and descending cars counter balance each other. Riding these inclines for me was as unique an experience as riding the strange elevator to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

Of the two inclines, the Monongahela incline is the most accessible as it is an easy walk from Station Square. This incline is the oldest and steepest incline in the USA as it was built in 1870. It is 635 feet long, travels at 6 miles per hour along a 35 degree incline and can hold 23 passengers per car. As this historic piece of engineering climbs the track, the views of the city get better and better with each foot of elevation gained.

While you have to drive a few miles west on East Carson Street, in my opinion, the Duquesne Incline offers the best views of the city. The views of the city from the top of this incline are absolutely stunning.

From the top of the Duquesne incline I recommend a short walk west down Grandview Ave to “Point of View” park. Here there is a bronze statue commemorating the meeting near this place between George Washington and Seneca leader Guyasuta. The real attraction here however is the most amazing view of Pittsburgh’s incredible skyline and the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where at the “Point” they merge and together become the mighty Ohio.

Standing at this place From left to right you will see the USS Requin submarine at the Carnegie Science Center, Heinz Field – home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the yellow “Three Sisters” bridges and many others on the Allegheny river, the fountain shooting high in the sky at the very point of the Golden Triangle, gleaming skyscrapers such as PPG Place, BNY Mellon Center and the black US Steel Tower, Coal barges oozing up and down the rivers along with all kinds of other water craft, and the shops of Station Square and the historic old Smithfield Street bridge which connects downtown to station square by spanning the Monongahela river.

Of all the places I have traveled to, few vistas can compare to the one described above. As the lights come on in Pittsburgh and the sun sets, it is that much more incredible.

Everyone Can Enjoy a Pittsburgh Themed Gift Basket

Located within the Keystone State, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh was once the city known for its steel industry and today is renowned for its sports fans. Whether you know someone from Pittsburgh or not, you probably have deeper Pittsburgh connections than you realize. A hub for Pierogies, Heinz ketchup, and the Steelers, Pittsburgh blends the best parts of the culture and history of Pennsylvania. When you are looking for a gift that offers the best features of the city, consider a Pittsburgh themed basket. You can celebrate a person’s love of the city, encourage their obsession Steelers, welcome them on a recent move to the city, or express your disappointment about an upcoming move away from the city through a mixture of Pittsburgh relevant gift baskets.

Football Fans

Pittsburgh is known across the country for its die hard football fans. For those who are Steelers fans or perhaps interested in becoming football fans, a basket loaded with black and gold goodies can be the perfect way to cheer on the team on a Sunday afternoon. Use your Steelers playing cards to play poker or just enjoy a black and gold smiley cookie as you watch! These snacks and gifts will make an afternoon of football pleasure all the more enjoyable.

Black and gold does not have to be limited solely to football though. All the city’s major athletic teams sport the black and gold colors within their logos. Use the Steel City colors in your basket on coffee mugs, note cards, and snacks. From chocolate pizzelles to caramel corn, you can have tasty treats for watching a movie on a rainy afternoon or for tanning in the sun on a day at Moraine State Park.

Moving Away from Pittsburgh

To let your friends or family who are moving know that you will miss them, send them a Pittsburgh themed basket to make the transition a little easier. Something as simple as a recipe from Isaly’s can remind them of home. Isaly’s is a family owned store popular in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Since the 1930s, Isaly’s continues to remain a staple supplier of meats and cheeses for the region. Nothing reminds you of your Pittsburgh home like a basket with a recipe from Isaly’s for a home cooked meal, Heinz ketchup, and an Iron City beer to go with it.

Moving To Pittsburgh

For those who are eager to become familiar with the traditions of Pittsburgh, you will find that delicious, ethnic food is a part of all of them. The Hispanic and Italian cultures are deeply embedded in these traditions. Sure, the staple foods for Pittsburghers are pierogies and ketchup, but Reyna Foods in the Strip District provides the tortilla chips and salsa that Pittsburghers crave. Welcome a new neighbor by getting them a taste of Latin American food to enhance their first experience of Pittsburgh.

Italian food is also a little better when it’s from Pittsburgh. Nothing beats a dinner of pasta and vodka sauce with perhaps a little salami to accompany it. Pittsburghers love their Italian food, there is even a section of the city designated as Little Italy, and so a basket of Italian necessities can be a great start for a new home in Pittsburgh. There are varied cultures living in Pittsburgh brought in by the universities, medical centers, and technology companies, so the food there reflects that diversity.

When you want your loved ones to know you are thinking of them, you can send them gifts that include all the treats of a Pittsburgh local bakery. You can purchase a basket online filled with pastries, cookies, cinnamon bread, and chocolate covered pretzels and have it delivered in Pittsburgh or anywhere in the country. The new or long-time Pittsburgher in your life will love the gourmet treats in a custom designed basket. Let’s face it, a day with caramel corn is always better than a day without it.

Basket Affair offers a wide selection of unique, made to order basket designs that are perfect for all occasions. Whether you are interested in sending a Pittsburgh themed basket, a gift for a new baby, or an elegant wedding present, Basket Affair has gourmet baskets to choose from, all of which can be delivered anywhere in the country.

Best places to get Pittsburgh Steelers gear for football season

With an impressive victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night after scoring 24 points in under three minutes, the Pittsburgh Steelers have progressed to having four wins and three losses.

Since the offensive line is beginning the look solid and the defense is, according to Snoop Dogg, “click clackin’” , a sense of hope for the AFC North team has again been established. With what may be a promising road for the Pittsburgh team, fans from all over the world are hoping for a playoff spot. There is no better time than to stock up on stellar Pittsburgh gear for the 2014 to 2015 football season.

Whether you love Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Le’Veon Bell or the team as a whole, there is a multitude of retail shops and online stores where you can buy unique Steelers gear and stand out from any crowd.

 

  • Steelers Sideline Store
    The official Pittsburgh Steelers shop has five different locations throughout Pennsylvania, including the Grove City Outlets, Pittsburgh Mil

    The official Pittsburgh Steelers shop has five different locations throughout Pennsylvania, including the Grove City Outlets, Pittsburgh Mills Mall, South Hills Village Mall and Westmoreland Mall. The best location to shop, however, is the Steelers Sideline Store located at Heinz Field.

    Located at Gate B of the home of the Steelers, the shop offers an array of Pittsburgh-themed merchandise, including women’s apparel, automobile accessories, replica jerseys, newborns’ and children’s apparel, Super Bowl memorabilia, home goods and tailgating products.

    Shop t-shirts, mugs, flags, hats, magnets, gloves, jerseys, pants, jackets, sweaters and more, all conveniently in the heart of Pittsburgh, right inside the stadium itself.

    The store phone number is 412-697-7728 and the store hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays and game days.

  • FansEdge, Inc.
    The FansEdge, Inc., website sells a multitude of unique Steelers-themed items, including watches, clocks, leggings, bathing suits and mercha

    The FansEdge, Inc., website sells a multitude of unique Steelers-themed items, including watches, clocks, leggings, bathing suits and merchandise for pets. Conveniently, the shop offers free shipping for orders that are more than $49 (so you’d really only need one or two items to be eligible). The shop also offers special sales and deals, so people with all kinds of budgets can shop until they drop.

    Find folders and bumper stickers for as low as $1.49, ornaments for $3.95, charm logo necklaces for $8.95, autographed footballs for $400 and jackets for $130. The shop carries nearly 4,000 Pittsburgh Steelers products, so you can find something for everyone.

  • Kohl’s
    When you walk into a Kohl's store, you'll find apparel, accessories, shoes, home goods and even small appliances. What many people may not k

    When you walk into a Kohl’s store, you’ll find apparel, accessories, shoes, home goods and even small appliances. What many people may not know, however, is that the Kohl’s website offers a wide variety of football fan merchandise, including beverage tumblers, baby onesies, slippers, jewelry and more, for as low as $3.

    The best part about buying football merchandise (or anything, really) is that if you open a Kohl’s charge card, you’ll receive coupons for 15, 20 and 30 percent off, while can be piled on to items that are already on sale (and there are always items on sale). The store will also run promotions in which you’ll receive Kohl’s cash for a certain amount of money spent (so you can go back and use your Kohl’s cash to get that Steelers beanie you wanted).

  • Zazzle Inc.
    Zazzle Inc. is an online retailer that sells unique merchandise and paraphernalia that can't be found anywhere else. With more than 619,000

    Zazzle Inc. is an online retailer that sells unique merchandise and paraphernalia that can’t be found anywhere else. With more than 619,000 designers, 98 makers, 551 brands and millions of customers across 17 sites, the company sells creative customized products. You’ll find one-of-a-kind Steelers merchandise. Find postcards, magnets, phone cases, unique t-shirts and even dry-erase boards.

    Shop t-shirts that read, “Steel City,” “I perspire Steel City fire,” “Sixburgh,” and, “Got Six?” Find baby shirts that read, “I poop black and gold,” and, “Steeler girl for life.”

    Visit the Zazzle website to shop creative and unique Pittsburgh Steelers gear so that you can stand out at the next football gathering and tailgating party.

  • Black Loves Yellow
    Sellers on Etsy are known for offering unique handmade or hand-crafted goods of all kinds. A shop in particular, called Black Loves Yellow,

    Black Loves Yellow

    Sellers on Etsy are known for offering unique handmade or hand-crafted goods of all kinds. A shop in particular, called Black Loves Yellow, offers unique hand-crafted Steelers apparel for girls and women.

    Opened in June 2011, the five-star-rated online seller has sold more than 40 items, and offers one-of-a-kind pieces. Each item is individually crafted with dedication. Find unique hand-painted and tye-dyed Steelers t-shirts and a unique studded upcycled Steelers sweatshirt for only $46. The company only ships within the United States and is based in Boca Raton, Florida.

 

Sports – The Perfect Business

Name an industry that gets free advertising every day in every newspaper around the country? Still thinking? Here is another hint – they have web sites, radio shows, TV shows and entire cable channels dedicated to talking about them and their product? Give Up? The answer is sports.

What an incredible industry. Every morning Jerry Jones’ team has articles written about it. Free color pictures on the front page promoting his brand. Radio shows talking solely about his product for hours on end.

More than 30 million people play fantasy sports. The average player in fantasy sports spends about $110 a year on their fantasy teams, and that is mainly to have “bragging rights”. Some of us can remember back in the 1990’s when people played “rotisserie leagues”. Today ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sportsline and others have very sophisticated online systems to manage leagues and get you information about your team, players and league standings.

They make a fortune on these sites from advertising because they know they have a market of 18 – 50 year old males earning over $50,000 a year and who spend more than two hours a week playing these games, reading the ads, and messaging their friends about the sports articles. Why are fantasy sports games so popular -because we love sports and the fantasy games feed the love.

In 2004, the CBS and Fox networks spent a combined $8 billion to broadcast NFL games for six years. In 1999 CBS spent $6 billion for the rights to broadcast the NCAA basketball tournament for 11 years. In 2006 Fox and TBS signed a combined $3 billion deal with MLB to broadcast a few games a week plus the post season. In 2001, the NBA signed a six year $3.4 Billion deal with Time Warner. Why are billions of dollars being spent to broadcast sporting events? Because we love sports they are making money on filling that love.

You get the idea. Sports are part of our lives. We have an insatiable appetite for sports. We emotionally connect to players and teams. They are our role models. Entire cities shut down when a championship game is being played or for the victory parade. Corporations invest millions and billions of dollars in sports related media because they can get a return on that investment.

Sports Marketing – Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Michael Jordan and countless others are not only great talents, but they are the stars of carefully crafted marketing plans. These marketing plans are geared towards raising their profile, creating interest in the fan base and expanding that fan base. This does not happen just because Tiger is a good guy. This happens because there are millions of dollars to be made. Thousands of hours are invested into these marketing plans – creating the images, the right words, the right message and the right media outlet.

There is a greater point here – the business of sports has successfully tapped into our emotions and our lives in a way no other business has.

Marketing 101 – When we have read the countless books on selling and marketing, we learned the best way to sell to a person is to tap into that person’s emotions. The ability to create and emotional attachment from the buyer to your product is priceless. Everyone remember the tire ad where the baby was sitting inside the tire giggling and looking cute. You’re not buying white-walled radials – you are buying protection for your children. No price is too steep for that.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could create this type of emotion that for a furniture store? Imagine radio shows talking about trundle beds, recliner sofas and nesting tables. Well it’s hard to get excited about china cabinets the same way we do about football – and we never will. The only things that tap into our minds like sports is politics and religion. Those will too quickly become controversial for the entrepreneur.

Back to selling and our emotions. The greater the emotional attachment people have to a product, the better for us. But not all of us are not going to be as successful at tapping into Joe Public’s emotion-meter with our business idea like the NFL or tire manufacturers. They have a big head start and deeper pockets than the rest of us.

What is an entrepreneur to do? How can you get people loving your product as much as the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Sorry to put it this way, but you probably won’t. But on the bright side, if you can’t beat them join them.

Sell Sports – Sports related businesses have a big plus going for them. You are already tapping into an emotional vibe that is deep-rooted and long-living. No need to try and build that positive feeling. ESPN has taken care of that for us. All you need to do is find some avenues in sports-related business to take advantage of this fervor.

Most of us do not have 700 million sitting around to buy the next NFL franchise coming up for sale. We need to reach for some lower hanging fruit. Let’s consider a couple of business models that allow you to take advantage of the sports machine that have less barriers to entry.

Sports Tickets – The secondary sports ticket market is a $10 billion a year business. Many people reading this are going to say “ticket scalping”. To them we say you are buying a limited supply of a product and reselling it on the open market to the highest bidder. Exactly how different is this from buying and selling houses? If we had the same moral indignation for ticket resellers and we do house flippers, Carlton Sheets would be flipping burgers.

Not every ticket has a worthy resale value. We need to separate the wheat from the chaffe. We also need to know where to sell our wheat, metaphorically speaking. There are several places that offer a quality education on how to venture into this market. They will educate any novice or intermediate on the secondary ticket market and keep them from making costly mistakes as well as make profitable deals. Look for something that not only gives you a “how-to” manual, but also provides you with information on a moving-forward basis. Ticket sale dates and presale codes are valuable items. The cost of the course is usually recovered in a few transactions.

End Exhibitionism in the National Football League

Once again, the most wonderful time of the year has arrived for fans of the National Football League. The NFL’s exhibition games, euphemistically named “pre-season”, have commenced with the annual kickoff at the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Fans know that their teams’ weekly contests and all the days pre-game speculation and post-game dissection are just around the corner. The sensation for football aficionados resembles that of children when the Christmas merchandise appears in stores. Unfortunately, the anticipation has been needlessly extended just like the retail outlets do by decorating immediately after Labor Day instead of after Thanksgiving Day.

Honestly, does anyone still cling to the antiquated notion that professional football players need four meaningless games in order to prepare themselves for the regular season slate of sixteen? Teams engage in mini-camps throughout the off-season. Plus, players voluntarily participate in drills with teammates during the spring and summer before the official opening of training camps. The days when most, if not all, players showed up to training camp in mid-summer noticeably overweight, stiff or, in any other way, indifferent of any football related matter since their teams’ final game of the previous season have gone the way of the phonograph and black/white televisions.

Granted, most fans enjoy watching the first and possibly the second exhibition games. Those two provide an opportunity to view rookies selected in the draft and new additions to the team acquired via free agency or off-season trades. Few fans have access to the scrimmages conducted during training camp so the first exhibition game remains the initial viewing of the newcomers in their new uniforms. However, the novelty soon dissipates in the knowledge that any outstanding performances must be weighed against the half-hearted level of effort of veterans in the games and the irrelevancy of the final scores. The only drama for those fans who watch the final two exhibition games lies in the holding of their collective breath in hope that none of the starting players of his/her teams sustain any injuries preventing them from playing the the games that actually count in the standings.

Therefore, this writer proposes the elimination of the last two exhibition games. Undoubtedly, the owners and others who benefit financially from the staging of these meaningless contests will object. After all, NFL teams charge hefty prices for tickets to these glorified scrimmages which season-ticket holders cannot avoid since these exhibition games are included in their season ticket packages. Those who make their living based on attendance at the games such as vendors, employees at parking lots and others would hate to see two of their ten opportunities for sales to vanish. Obviously, some recompense must be offered to assuage the pain of withdrawal.

The solution will prevent the loss of revenue by those with a stake in upholding the number of games played at an NFL venue yet give the fans more of what they deserve: games that count in the standings. The final two exhibition games should be replaced with two more regular season non-conference games. Just as college football teams typically play two or more non-conference opponents at the start of a season, the NFL would benefit by such a structure of scheduling. The number of games a team would host would not change so there would be no loss of revenue. Fans would not feel cheated by paying to see as many inconsequential games as they do currently.

To further bolster the appeal of these two additional non-conference games, each team would have a list of annual opponents that would spark much interest among the fans to see the teams play every season despite not being in the same conference. Several match-ups of teams in the same state or otherwise within close proximity to each other stand out as obviously interesting contests. The high level of anticipation would exist regardless of the records of the teams entering the contests. Opponents in the same media markets such the Jets and the Giants in addition to the Raiders and the Forty-Niners would provide an outlet for the antipathy between both sets of fans on the field during a relevant game of the regular season. Intrastate matches such the Cowboys versus the Texans, the Buccaneers versus the Dolphins, the Redskins versus the Ravens, the Eagles versus the Steelers and the Rams versus the Chiefs certainly hold more allure in a regular season game even though these teams often play their in-state counterpart in exhibition contests. Even annual meetings between teams of states bordering each other like the Colts versus the Bears, the Lions versus the Browns, the Chargers versus the Cardinals and the Falcons versus the Jaguars could develop into heated rivalries with a traditional early season date against each other.

An extra financial benefit of scheduling these games with teams within a close distance of each other should appeal to owners as well as fans. The shorter distance between the city of visiting team and the home team’s stadium will reduce travel costs. For some of these proposed annual contests, the visiting team could easily take buses to their opponent’s stadium. A person does not need a Ph.D. in economics or management to realize the tremendous savings in the substitution of one or two short bus trips for several dozen adults instead of flying across timezones for a handful of trivial exhibition games. Also, visiting fans will be more likely to attend games if they can drive to the opponents’ stadium and return home the day of the game.

So when will Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners of NFL franchises adjust to the current situation and abolish some of its needless games in favor of some that will draw much more attention from the fans? Hopefully, the change will occur sooner than the decades that passed before the NFL acknowledged the utility of the two-point conversion and implemented it.

Analysis Of NFL AFC East Teams For People Interested In Sports Betting

If you are interested at all in Sports Betting you will want to understand what’s going on in the AFC East.

Does Coach Bill Belichick have any more rabbits to pull out of his hat? After half a decade of being the perennial favorite to win the Super Bowl, and winning three of them, the New England Patriots enter the 2006 as a seemingly average looking team. The naysayers will point to the loss of defensive coordinator, Eric Mangini, to a head coaching job for the Jets, and also the heart and soul of the stalwart defense, Willie McGinnist (LB) to Cleveland in free agency. The faithful will point – as they always do – to the brilliant game planning of Belichick and “Mr. Clutch”, Tom Brady (QB). Though the Patriots went 10-6, Brady had his best regular season as a pro, and Belichick was constantly juggling an injured roster, anything but a Lombardi Trophy is viewed as a disappointment in Foxboro. Running back Corey Dillon will be on the hot seat this season as Father Time and rookie Laurence Maroney will be looking to cut into his playing time. Also, did the Pats make a mistake in letting Adam Vinatieri (PK) leave as a free agent? The odds makers say, “No”, as they make New England a 7-1 favorite to return to the top of the mountain.

You can cut the excitement and anticipation in Miami with a knife. It appears that second-year head coach, Nick Saban, is one step closer to returning the Miami Dolphins to prominence in the NFL, and atop the Eastern division. Gone are Sam Madison, the Ricky Williams and David Boston soap operas and offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan. However, hope springs with the addition of Duante Culpepper (QB) and a slew of solid free agents. Culpepper claims he is fully recovered from major knee surgery that sidelined him for the bulk of last season. Additionally, a breakout season could be in store for Ronnie Brown (RB). Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor still anchor one of the League’s best defenses; however, the secondary has been completely revamped. Vegas books aren’t totally convinced about the resurgence of the Fins, as they are only 15-1 shots to win it all.

Where have you gone Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Andre Rison? About the only thing for Buffalo Bills (2005: 5-11) fans to be thankful about is that they aren’t Jets fans. Bills ownership decided to tear it all down this off-season to build it back up again, beginning with new head coach Dick Jauron (formerly of Chicago). The Bills brought in four new offensive linemen, two wide receivers (Peerless Price and Andre’ Davis) and a third quarterback, Craig Nall, to compete with J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb for what may be a year-long tryout for 2007. Willis McGahee (RB) seems to be the only bright spot on offense. On the defensive side of the ball, it doesn’t get much better. The signing of Larry Triplett (DT) and a healthy Takeo Spikes should keep them floating, but for the most part; the entire team will likely be treading water this season. The Bills are a long, 50-1 in Vegas.

That leads us to the New York Jets, and the only thing that Jets fans have to be thankful for is that the Knicks’ Isaiah Thomas is not their GM. After a dismal 4-12 season in 2005, few teams needed to make impact moves more badly than the Jets, and few teams did a worse job in acquiring key players than the Jets. The problems with the Jets seem to begin and end at the quarterback position with the uncertainty of the health and true talent of Chad Pennington. First-year head coach Eric Mangini at least made the decision to try to keep Pennington upright by drafting “next big thing” offensive tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. The team lost All Pro John Abraham at defensive end, and replaced him with former Pittsburgh Steeler, Kimo von Oelhoffen. For those with a taste for long shot bets, you can find the Jets listed at 75-1.