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The Neutral Zone

On Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, Brock Richardson and his panel of sports experts engage in a lively roundtable discussion about Parasports and professional sports news and newsmakers.

The Neutral Zone

On Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, Brock Richardson and his panel of sports experts engage in a lively roundtable discussion about Parasports and professional sports news and newsmakers.

September 13, 2022

Speaker 1:
Are you ready? From AMI Central. Now circling in the neutral zone. Here's the pitch on the way. 36 yards for the win. This. Here comes the big chance. The shot. Is this tiger? The neutral zone. Home run. This is good as it gets. Now here's your host, two-time Paralympian Brock Richardson.

Brock Richardson:
Hello, and welcome to our very first podcast episode of The Neutral Zone. I am indeed your host, Brock Richardson, and I am alongside everybody from The Neutral Zone. So let's start with Claire Buchanan. Claire, how are you?

Claire Buchanan:
I am doing fantastic. We had a little bit ... We almost had an extra co-host here today. My son wasn't feeling well yesterday, so he spent the day home with me today and actually helped me set up all my new mics and everything. So yeah, we almost had a fifth co-host here today, but luckily found a babysitter and we're all good to go.

Brock Richardson:
Hey, man, he could have been our first critic of-

Claire Buchanan:
Yeah. you know what? He loved putting the headphones and playing around with the mic today, so he might be a future co-host.

Brock Richardson:
Absolutely. Also joining us is Cameron. How are you? Nice to see you physically.

Cam Jenkins:
Nice to see everybody physically, as well. Yeah, I'm looking so forward to the new rendition of this podcast. Yeah. It was a good week, good weekend, and just ready to talk some sports.

Brock Richardson:
Absolutely. I'm right there with you. And finally also joining us is Josh Watson. Josh, how are you?

Josh Watson:
I'm doing well folks. It's good to see everybody's smiling faces. We get to try out this brand new platform and let's see how this goes today. It's going to be fun.

Brock Richardson:
Absolutely. I think I would be remiss if I didn't start this by acknowledging Queen Elizabeth the Second and her passing at the age of 96 years of age. Quick thoughts from all of you. Josh, what are your thoughts?

Josh Watson:
Tragic day for the Royal family, of course. There are many people, not just in Britain, but around the world who don't know what it's like to have a different monarch on the throne. So it's a little strange for me knowing that I'm living through something that's going to eventually wind up in history books, but just very reflective of her reign and everything she went through as a monarch and curious to see how the new Monarch Charles III will proceed as the monarchy grows and evolves.

Brock Richardson:
Cameron, and then Claire.

Cam Jenkins:
Absolutely. It's the only queen that I've ever known. She was on the throne for 70 years, which is the longest reigning monarch. It's truly hard to put into words how I felt. Obviously, I felt sad that she had passed away and sad for the family. It's just, to see how steadfast she was. To be able to make the decisions that she had to make throughout her life and how young she was. It was just amazing that she was able to work for so long. I know in a speech earlier, many years ago, she talked about that, how she was going to be there for the people of England or UK for her life and she'd be working for all of her life. So it's a sad day and I'm really entrusted to see how King Charles the Third will do moving forward and how he'll bring the monarchy into the new century.

Claire Buchanan:
Yeah, it'll be interesting to see how if tables turn or how this evolves. With the new ruling, it's a generational thing that like everyone around the world is experiencing all together. So yeah, it was kind of sombre event and thinking about her family and her friends right now. Yeah, I'm looking forward to how the royal family proceeds and kind of evolves into this next generation of a different ruling of the Monarch.

Brock Richardson:
Yeah, I related last week, Thursday, sort of to a similar feeling of 9/11. That's in the way of the fact that the whole world sort of felt, to me in that moment, that it froze. I realized that life would change as we know it, because all of us sitting around this proverbial table have only known one monarch as you guys really well illustrated. And I just think that that's the reality we live in. And King Charles the Third, although that's weird to come out of my mouth as we've not referred to him as that as of yet, that is our new reality. And all I can say is best of luck to him and condolences to the family and everyone that is affected.
Now, it's time to get into our headlines for this week. Let's do it.

Josh Watson:
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released defensive lineman, Garrett Marino, after yet another questionable hit. This time on Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quarterback Zach Collaros, which garnered criticism around the CFL. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Marino has been involved in such a play. Earlier this year, he was responsible for a hit on Ottawa Redblack's quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, which resulted in the league suspending him for four games. Unfortunately, this particular player just does not seem to be able to learn and to adapt his play to the rules of the league as evidenced by the fact that he's been suspended once this season already. Here's hoping that if he does get another chance in the league, he will learn from his mistakes. But as a follow up, he has been cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, so he is currently without a team.

Claire Buchanan:
The Canadian Women's Hockey team has dominated the international stage with winning gold at the Olympics, the under 18 tournament, and most recently the World Championships. We also have a new record holder for most points at a women's hockey World Championship tournament. USA's Hillary Knight has surpassed Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser for the most points in her World Championship career. Knight now has 59 points leapfrogging over Hayley Wickenheiser who had 56 points.

Cam Jenkins:
Montreal Canadiens' goaltender, Carey Price, has been placed on the long-term injured reserve after having off-season knee surgery. This announcement comes three weeks after the Montreal Canadiens suggested he would be ready to return for the 2022-2023 season. He is now expected to play... Or sorry, rather that he is not expected to play at all for this upcoming season. And if that is the end for Carey Price, which a lot of people are saying, he has had a phenomenal career. I really think that a lot of the mishaps, or a lot of the players that he played with, he covered up for a lot of their mistakes. And I think that you're seeing that now and I think they are in the full rebuild mode for Montreal. It would be an absolute shame if this was the end for Carey Price.

Brock Richardson:
Those are your headlines for this week. Let's check in on our Twitter poll questions. when we go way, way back to the last time we recorded on audio, the question was do you think the 11 game suspension was enough for Cleveland Brown's quarterback Deshaun Watson? 67% of you said no, 33% of you said yes. This week's question is, do you think Serena Williams is the greatest of all time in all sports? Yes, no, only in the sport of tennis. You can cast your boats at our Twitter handle, which you can get right now as we bring it to you.

Speaker 1:
And welcome back to The Neutral Zone AMI broadcast booth. Play ball. And we are set to get this ballgame underway. The first pitch brought to you by Brock Richardson's Twitter account @neutralzonebr. First pitch, strike. And hey gang, why not strike up a Twitter chat with Claire Buchanan for The Neutral Zone. Find her @neutralzonecb. And there's a swing and a chopper out to second base right at Claire. She picks up the ball, throws it over to first base for a routine out. And fans, there is nothing routine about connecting with Cam and Josh from The Neutral Zone at @neutrazoneCamJ and @JWatson200. Now that's a winning combination. And this Oregon interlude is brought to you by AMI Audio on Twitter. Get in touch with The Neutral Zone type in at AMI audio.

Brock Richardson:
I would like to welcome in our first guest of our new video podcast. The Canadian Paralympic Committee has been an extreme supporter of ours here at The Neutral Zone. In fact, our first guest joined us twice in a matter of three weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, and she is back to join us again. I am talking about Chief Executive Officer Karen O'Neill of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Karen, nice to have you with us today. Welcome back.

Karen O'Neill:
Well thanks very much Brock and everybody. I'm thrilled to be here on the new format. It's pretty exciting actually.

Cam Jenkins:
It's very exciting. It's nice to see your face. We've talked a few times through audio, but it's really nice to put a face to the name. So thanks for coming on. And I just wanted to maybe start off with the audience members that are new. Can you maybe describe how you became involved with the Canadian Paralympic Committee?

Karen O'Neill:
Sure. Thanks very much, Cameron. Gee, I've always been in sport my whole life and I grew up in an area called the West Island in Montreal. Through aquatics, I ended up helping out in some programs for adapted aquatics at Pointe-Claire Swimming Pool, which evolved to the Quebec Red Cross and then the National Red Cross. And at that time all my involvement was pretty much swimming focused. But then when I became involved in national programs and we just saw the real gap in leadership for coaching technical material, I became more involved in a broader sport arena, I'm going to say. And so quickly went into Canadian Wheelchair Sport Association and also I would say volunteering with the Canadian Paralympic Committee. So it was with a good handful, I'd need two hands to count the number of years I was a volunteer with the Canadian Paralympic Committee on their board and their [inaudible 00:11:49] for one of the sets of games. That really brought me back to, I'm going to say the perfect convergence and honestly the highlight of my entire career now as CEO of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Josh Watson:
Can you talk to us a little bit about your day-to-day operation at the CPC?

Karen O'Neill:
Oh, sure, Joshua. Well, I'm not sure there's anything day-to-day or so-called normal or average about anything we're all doing just given we're coming out of Covid. But a few things for those people that might not know a lot about the Canadian Paralympic Committee, we're a national organization with 27 members. And those 27 members would be sport organizations like Swimming Canada, Across Country. So the list goes on for all the summer and winter sports that you would see. Those are our members. And at the top of the list people would recognize us for convening and getting all things organized for Team Canada who participates in the Summer and Winter Olympics in a four year cycle.
I'd also say a secondary area that we really focus on is sustainable performance and pathways so that in order to have the kind of results we do, but quite honestly to be able to support our 27 members so that they can increase participation, increase engagement at all levels of sport participation within their particular sport.
I'd say the last thing we really focus on is communication. Really. There's, as you would all well know, some pretty incredible stories of coaches, athletes, the people that really help our sport community work. So our day-to-day is really helping those three areas operate at a very physical level. Our national office is located in Ottawa, I mentioned our 27 members, and then we work with many of our partners like Heritage Canada, through Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Own The Podium.

Claire Buchanan:
You had mentioned the experiencing Covid and the pandemic. From before the pandemic and going through the pandemic as an organization, have you had a feeling of having to quote unquote bounce back from the pandemic and kind of how it affected the organization and then trickling down to your other partners that you support?

Karen O'Neill:
Yeah, that's a great question Claire. And quite honestly, whether it be when I was first on talking to Brock and Cam, I found my answers, and my responses have probably evolved over the last two years. Just as a reminder for everyone, our Covid decision for the game started in March, 2020 in which our boards of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Canadian Olympic Committee agreed to not send a Team Canada, which quickly thereafter of the games for Tokyo were delayed the year. So again, we usually have one set of games every two years, winter or summer. So what this did was number one, delay the games for a year, which meant all those contracts, arrangements, everything that we had to undo to redo again. And then on the back end, we ended up with two games, Tokyo, in the early fall, and Beijing in the February, March period. So that was two major sets of games in six months.
So that's not a long time ago. That's March, 2022 coming out of it. So I'm not sure I'm to the point of saying bounce back, claire, but maybe if you call me again in January and I'm having New Year's resolutions, I'll have that. But all kidding aside, I would say I couldn't be more incredibly proud of our whole team, our members. The resilience and innovations that everybody showed and demonstrated during Covid still continues. So there's actually quite a few silver linings to Covid. Our entire team, including the sports, a lot of rest and recovery. And I also want to amplify rest and recovery at both a physical level but also a mental health level. Oftentimes, people see some of the challenges for some of the training.
I mean it was training and competition that were some of the biggest barriers during that period of time. I mean, many of the athletes in Beijing and Tokyo had not competed or seen their competition for two, three years. It's pretty tough to be at the highest pinnacle of competition when you see your opponents for the first time. So all to say, I would say that everybody's taking some of the lessons learned, really refreshing and refilling their tanks and looking at what next at multiple levels. I can honestly say my overall comment is I can't be more pleased and proud to have been part of Team Canada and all of our partners that made it work and produced the kind of results that we did coming out of Beijing.

Brock Richardson:
We're in the midst of a conversation with Karen O'Neill, who is the Chief Executive Officer at the Canadian Paralympic Committee. I'm joined by Claire Buchanan, Josh Watson and Cam Jenkins, and of course I'm your host Brock Richardson, and you're listening to The Neutral Zone.

Cam Jenkins:
So Karen, we're in and about approximately 700 days to the Paralympic Games in Paris for 2024. What are the preparations like at this stage for the organization?

Karen O'Neill:
That's another great question, Cam. Just to give you an idea of where our heads would be at 716 days to be exact. A lot of times the preparation for summer games, I mean really right now it's really refining and getting some of the last minute details because any kind of competition, coaching, I mean we're retrospectively looking at the last 4, 6, 8 years. So at this point, I could say at a very practical level, in fact, we have a team heading over in about three and a half weeks to Paris for a site visitation. We're working quite closely with our embassy in Paris to help host. And we're also working hand and glove with our sports. It's one thing for us to organize a team and all the details that go with a successful Team Canada in Paris, in this case, but it's another thing also to be able to align with what people are already doing.
The last thing you want to do is introduce anything new. So hand in glove, our team is working incredibly closely with our sports that are going to participate in Paris to see what their training requirements, flight requirements. You've got an array of some very specific needs for food, bed, you name it. We want to make sure that we can provide that.
The second thing I'll say is that many people might not know that we actually take care of a third set of games in each quad, quadrennial, and that's the Parapan Games. Santiago, Chile on November 17th, I think it is. So that's 431 days away. So what we do is we usually look at the Parapan games just before the Summer Paralympics as a package, bit of a dry run, a field test for the team, our staff, our processes, and our protocol.
So again, another team visit to San Diego in a couple weeks. And we're looking at a trial of a few new things to help support the team in San Diego. Last point, San Diego's qualification for many of the sports participating in Paris. So San Diego is very, very important.
Last thing I'll say with the world not having been able to participate, or friends and family coming to the games, we know this is going to be big. So if anyone has a chance to go on the Paris 2024 site, it's going to be a remarkable set of games. I mean, every set of games is memorable. But you've got each of the sport venues in front of some of the most historic monuments of Paris. Like equestrian in front of one of the largest, the visible historical places. I would say that some of the ancillary programs honouring that we're not going to be distracting for the teams, that's the last thing they need. They need to focus on competition. But our sponsors, friends, family, we know that everybody's going to be pretty excited not only for Paris, but post-Covid to celebrate and witness some pretty exciting sport real time.

Josh Watson:
That is amazing. Now switching gears a little bit, National Coaches Week is coming up from September 19th through to the 25th. Can you talk to us a little bit about the organization's support of such a great week?

Karen O'Neill:
Well, sure, Josh. We couldn't do anything without coaches. Again, going back to our 27 members, one of the strongest pillars of sport is going to be coaches and quality coaching. We work really closely with the Canadian Coaching Association and participate both in the event itself, but also we're going to be bringing back something we used to do, which is the coach's spotlight. So during that week, we're also going to be highlighting some of the great and very talented Paralympic coaches. In addition, that's going to be a kickoff for us to do a profile in story on one of the Paralympic coaches, winter and summer, once a month for thereafter. So we're pretty excited about that.

Claire Buchanan:
Now through September 30th to October 1st, the Game Plan summit will also be taking place, which is an organization that you support as well. Can you give us a rundown of that event and what it does for athletes who are still athletes and/or who are retired from sport?

Karen O'Neill:
Thanks, Claire. I can talk a little bit about it, less about some of the details of the agenda, but if there was an athlete, for instance, listening who wasn't aware of the summit, going to the Canadian Olympic Committee site and looking for Game Plan conference September 30th to October 2nd, they'll be able to find some of the details there. Game Plan was created a handful of years ago, I think it actually goes back to about 2016. The Canadian Olympic Committee, Paralympic Committee, Sport Canada through Heritage, and also COPSI, the Canadian Olympic Paralympic Sport Institute Network, all got together to respond to a gap. The gap was really around, I'm going to say an integrated and total athlete development and wellness program. So Claire, as you mentioned in your question, whether it be you're on national team now and oh my goodness, look at everything, or you're actively competing internationally and/or you've just retired.
So game plan is this incredible program where there's a list the length of my arm of some pretty incredible Canadian corporate sponsors who have stepped up to help support career, education, mental health, networking, skill development. It's an incredible program and it's fall now and in fact a kickoff for the Smith School that supports, I forget what the number is, but executive MBA certificates. So it's an investment of resources that certainly is unparalleled and it just keeps getting better and better every year.
Last thing I'll say, I think it's just going to be outside of Toronto and it's a great opportunity for networking, especially across sport. Because most of the athletes, until they retire, unless it's at a major set of multi-sport games, don't get the opportunity to visit or see unless they're at an integrated training facility. So it's a really neat way for the athletes to network and especially athletes across all stages of their career. Thanks for asking.

Claire Buchanan:
Absolutely. Actually, I will actually be at the event myself. It'll be my third Game Plan summit event that I've attended. And like you said, it's unparalleled. You get so much insight from, again, other athletes and just yeah. It's such a great way to broaden your interests and your life post sport or even while you're in sport. Yeah, I am so grateful for the program itself.

Karen O'Neill:
Oh, that's so nice. Thanks for sharing, Claire. Hopefully, I hope to be there for a portion of it, so come and say hi.

Claire Buchanan:
I will definitely.

Cam Jenkins:
Karen, you were mentioning about mental health and I know that's on the forefront these days with every organization. Can you maybe talk a little bit about mental health and how was it during the pandemic and how is it coming hopefully out of the pandemic for the athletes?

Karen O'Neill:
Yeah. Cam, I won't pretend to speak for certainly the athletes, the direct experience, but I'm going to say from some of the more general observations and what we've paid attention to. For the last two sets of games for both Tokyo and Beijing, we were working really closely with our members to see and support also our members, because so many of our members also have direct mental health support, whether it be through a performance and or mental health consultant and support. And then for some of those sports that might not, or we want to look at a broader team approach, we've also hired a mental health specialist heading into Tokyo and Beijing to be able to develop a longer term plan. So again, to my comments at the beginning, you never want to start something or introduce something new at the games. Not the time to do it. Not helpful.
Susan is the name of the mental health specialist that was working with the sports, supporting the development of their own plans in addition to being available while at the games as things arose to help support through their support, and then if any additional resources were required. It's not also just limited to athletes and coaches, though. Our team back home, we asked a lot of our team to participate in the size of games over six months. so we also had some mental health support for our own team, that being our mission staff here in Ottawa and also those that traveled with them.
That's just an example of the kind of initiatives. Again, it's not a one shot wonder. It really is a process. And I would say it needs to be as important in the investment and the leadership, the priority and intentionality as we do for a sport technical program.

Brock Richardson:
I think the one point that you just hit on is one that I really like. I like the fact that we're not just focused on athletes, we're focused on staff. Because I think the easy answer is, well, the athletes are going through mental health and challenges with the sport, but we don't realize that how many hours and hours coaches and support staff put into all this. And I think that's really, really important, Karen. So thank you so much for mentioning that. Really appreciate that, and it's a good sort of thing to make sure that everyone knows about as well.

Karen O'Neill:
Thanks Brock.

Brock Richardson:
Well thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate it. I always love the Canadian Paralympic Committee's support of our program. Thank you for being on our first voyage here with the video podcast. We really appreciate it.

Karen O'Neill:
Well, thank you Brock, Claire, Cam, Joshua. Really, a pleasure to be on the inaugural voyage here and look forward to the next discussion. Thanks very much for doing what you're doing and bringing the conversation out to the community. Much appreciated.

Brock Richardson:
That's what we're here for and we appreciate these conversations, as well. That was Chief Executive officer of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Karen O'Neill. If you want to get ahold of us, here's how you can do it coming up right now.

Speaker 1:
If you want to leave a message for The Neutral Zone, call now 1-866-509-4545. And don't forget to give us permission to use your message on the air. Let's get ready to leave a voicemail.

Brock Richardson:
Well guys and girl, it's such a wonderful way to kick off this show when you have someone of the knowledge of Karen O'Neill and the willingness and the understanding and the desire to join us on the program. Really great to have her on board as always. And we will bring you up to speed on all kinds of para-sports as they come and go over time. This is what we're here for and what we're doing. And time to switch gears to the NFL. Well, that's where we're going to start anyways.
Some big news coming out of Dallas. Quarterback Dak Prescott is going to be having surgery after having a thumb injury, and will miss multiple weeks. I've written down here that's so Dallas, it's just so Dallas to have week one of the season-

Claire Buchanan:
Oh, so it's a thumb.

Brock Richardson:
Yeah, Yeah.

Cam Jenkins:
There's no way I'm going to feel sorry for Dallas.

Brock Richardson:
No.

Josh Watson:
Probably not.

Brock Richardson:
I don't feel sorry for Dallas either, but hey, it's news and it's there and so we shall share it.

Josh Watson:
Absolutely.

Brock Richardson:
Let's start with week one of games that we all took in. We'll start with Josh, then we'll go to Claire, then we'll go to Cameron and I will bring up the rear.

Josh Watson:
Well, for me, being a Dolphins fan, of course I had to check out the Dolphins and the Patriots. Very, very happy with that 20 to 7 result for the Dolphins. We have a new head coach who got his first win as a head coach, which was really exciting to see. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle all seemed to be working well together in the receiving core. We do need to work a bit on the running back situation. They picked up Raheem Mostert from San Francisco in the off season. He seemed to struggle a little bit, so hopefully they can get that organized. But I mean, let's be honest, it's the Patriots and I'm never going to assume that the Patriots are the way they are in week one. So I'm fully anticipating that we're going to have to be fighting it out with them and with Buffalo going forward. But that was an exciting game for me. I did of course check out the Bills and the... Help me out here, guys. Bills and...

Claire Buchanan:
Oh, they played LA.

Cam Jenkins:
Rams.

Brock Richardson:
Bills and ...

Josh Watson:
That was it. Yes, the Rams.

Brock Richardson:
I drew the same blank. It's all good.

Josh Watson:
I did check in the Bills and Rams. Yeah, exactly. You'll, you'll be able to see it on my face now when I just poof, gone. When I did check out the Bills and Rams, I was a bit surprised at how well the Bills handled things, but overall, I'm not surprised that they did. They're looking like a very strong team, as well.

Brock Richardson:
And Cameron, what would you say?

Cam Jenkins:
For me, I was watching the Bills and the Rams on Thursday night or trying to stay awake for it. It should be illegal for a senior citizen like myself, or close to being a senior citizen, for it to be an 8:00 or 8:30 PM game, because there's no way that I'm going to get past the first half hour to an hour to watch the game. NFL, if you could please just cater to my needs and my needs only by putting it on at I'd say six o'clock Eastern Standard Time, that'd be beautiful.

Brock Richardson:
Just a second. Just a second.

Cam Jenkins:
But I digress.

Brock Richardson:
Hold on. You're not even old enough to get the shopper's discount yet. I won't call out your age. Those of you that want to know.

Cam Jenkins:
I was offered the shopper's discount and they gave it to me and I felt terrible because I did not say anything about what my age was. They just assumed it. So I'm like, okay, well I'm going to get a discount.So apparently I look old enough to get the shopper's discount. Let me just say that first and foremost.

Claire Buchanan:
Well, I mean I also fell asleep in the middle of a football game. It was last night I went on a 10-kilometer hike, let's just say that, first of all.

Josh Watson:
That's impressive.

Claire Buchanan:
I was exhausted. But yeah, I honestly, seeing the Bills on Thursday play the way that they did, they have one of the best defensive cores in the game right now. I hate to say it, sounds like gay broken record, but defense wins championships and they have a very good chance of winning the Super Bowl this year. But I mean, as a-

Cam Jenkins:
Willing to bet something on that, Claire?

Claire Buchanan:
Hey, I keep betting playoff beards with you guys. So I mean I am game for a bet. I'm game for a bet.

Cam Jenkins:
Play off beards.

Claire Buchanan:
But if you guys lose, I got to see some playoff beards.

Cam Jenkins:
Are you going to grow a playoff beard if you lose?

Claire Buchanan:
 Yeah, I'll just, I won't touch it. It'll just grow out this way. We'll see how it goes.

Cam Jenkins:
With the Bills, I was surprised, to be quite honest with you because they got 292 passing yards. And to me that seems quite average. But when I was watching the game, Josh Allen, he seemed to be in complete control. I know, I think there was a couple of interceptions with the game too, but that's what shocked me is to see how dominant I thought Buffalo was and they were with the rushing yards, they were. But then when I actually looked at the statistics, it was like only 292 passing yards. But they looked dominant.

Brock Richardson:
Yeah, I think the thing for me that's kind of the scariest thing is that they need to get their running game going. And I understand people are out there saying, "Well they got Stefon Diggs." Great, they had Stefon Diggs last year, as well. And I just think that that's the part of this team that needs to be better. I mean, the throwing's going to be there. Sure, it's all well and good. You're going to have to compete with Kansas City who's going to be there with Patrick Mahomes. You're going to have to compete with the LA Rams, yet again. I don't think, even though it's a one win, I don't think it's easy to write home and say, well, because we beat the defending champion, well therefore that's it. This is a long season.
And Josh, I'm with you. I really like what Miami's doing. I believe in Mr. McDaniel. I think that it looks a lot more mature than people may give him credit for. He just needs to be confident in the pocket and throw the football. I'm not a believer in Mac Jones for the Patriots, I'm really not. But this is Bill Belichick, as you point out, that we're talking about. And so yeah, that's the thing that we all have to wonder. We all can say the AFC is a quote unquote weaker division, which whatever fine. But you're going to have to take on the big dogs in the other divisions before you can even start talking about Super Bowl. Does any of you have-

Cam Jenkins:
But I think-

Brock Richardson:
Sorry, Cam, go ahead.

Cam Jenkins:
Oh, I was just going to say, I think you're giving the Patriots way too much=credit because they're not the Patriots of old with the star quarterbacks. So I think they're certainly rebuilding and I don't think that they're going to be doing very well this year.

Claire Buchanan:
I'll have to agree with you, Cam. I think out of the two quarterbacks from Alabama, Miami definitely ran away with the better starting quarterbacks. He looked really good when he was at Alabama, but it's going to be a long road for the Patriots. He is a great quarterback, but I think again, he has a long way to go to be able to fight with the bigger teams there.

Brock Richardson:
Okay. I want to run down some of your dark horses, let's say. So let's go with Josh then Cameron, then Claire on the dark courses of the NFL. And you can go any division you want

Josh Watson:
Dark horses. Wow. That's a tough one. Can you call Kansas City a dark horse? I don't know.

Brock Richardson:
I don't know.

Josh Watson:
I would pick them, I think, because they have lost Tyreek Hill. They've lost a couple of people on their defensive side. So they're not the Chiefs that have been so dominant in recent years. They do still have Mahomes, so I suppose that one's maybe an iffy pick.

Brock Richardson:
But no. But it takes more than a quarterback to play football and when you take out guys, whether he is a good quarterback or not. So it's fair to call them a dark horse. I think it's a bit of a risky dark horse, but I'll give that one to you.

Josh Watson:
All right, fair enough.

Cam Jenkins:
Would you consider the Bengals to be a dark horse team? Because they kind of came out of nowhere last year and they might come out of nowhere this year, too. Well, they did really well last year, so if they do really well again this year, do you believe in the Bengals? Or is it still just kind of catching lightening in a bottle? So I think that's going to be a dark horse team and see how they compete this year and see if they can do as well as they did last year. Because they certainly weren't expected to do well.

Brock Richardson:
For sure.

Claire Buchanan:
Absolutely. I think everyone was surprised by the Browns this week, as well. They're always a dark horse. If they do well it's going to surprise everybody.

Cam Jenkins:
 [inaudible 00:39:03] Detroit Lions losing. That's like-

Josh Watson:
Yeah.

Brock Richardson:
Just a minute. I'm looking up the word dark horse and the Browns are beside the name.

Claire Buchanan:
Yeah. Just right there in the dictionary. There's a picture of them. Honestly I think everyone's counting out my pack this year. Hey I now have a cheese head that I can wear on this show now.

Josh Watson:
Oh boy, here we go.

Cam Jenkins:
I'm surprised you didn't wear it for this episode.

Claire Buchanan:
Yeah, my pack are going to do well. I know they didn't do well the first week but yeah, don't count them out. And I think that the league and the critics have kind of pushed them out of the conversation this season.

Brock Richardson:
Yeah, I think-

Josh Watson:
I'm just glad that all the Packer fans are able to breathe after watching Aaron Rodgers run into is, what was it, a left tackle that sandwiched him to the ground?

Claire Buchanan:
Yeah.

Josh Watson:
Thought for sure he was leaving with a concussion after that one. But yeah, thankfully he was all right.

Claire Buchanan:
Well, that's another thing they, they're missing their run game and they have to find ways to not just rely on the arm of Aaron Rodgers.

Cam Jenkins:
But that's what they've done for years now.

Claire Buchanan:
Yeah.

Cam Jenkins:
And I think you can't really call them a dark horse team if they're going to have Aaron Rodgers because they always go out front. You're just a Homer Packer fan, so.

Brock Richardson:
I'm going to throw in a dark horse that I'm surprised nobody has thrown out there. I am a believer in the Saints. I think that Jameis Winston, even though no more Drew Brees that get all that, I believe that Jameis Winston can be that guy. That game that they played this weekend was unbelievable. Came down to the very last minute and he threw some pretty solid touchdowns. They've got Michael Thomas as a receiver and I think if he can stay healthy, they are a dark horse. Aside from the Browns, move the dictionary aside, they are kind of your epitome dark horse. I really believe that they can do it.
Now the star beside that one is can they stay healthy? That is the question that they're going to have to answer. Because Mr. Winston, although good. Is no Drew Brees at the same time. So we'll see what happens here with that. It's going to be interesting. I mean week one, there's still teams that will put together their Super Bowl parade and everything is all hunky dory. We've got a long season to go, but it's fun to kind of put out there what can be. Anything more on the NFL or can we move on to baseball?

Claire Buchanan:
Who thinks that they already have a contract written up for Gronk when he comes back halfway through the season?

Brock Richardson:
Yeah.

Cam Jenkins:
Well, guarantee-

Josh Watson:
You mean which team or?

Cam Jenkins:
Tampa Bay. It's going to be Tampa Bay, again.

Josh Watson:
Oh, of course.

Cam Jenkins:
Why not get paid X amount of dollars like he does to play the last few games of the season and then go in at playoffs and then [inaudible 00:42:01]

Claire Buchanan:
He gets whole year vacation, plays a few games of football gets paid.

Josh Watson:
That sounds about right.

Cam Jenkins:
Three things in life that are guaranteed death taxes and probably Tom Brady and Gronk win in the Super Bowl, so.

Brock Richardson:
Does anybody believe in Tom Brady retiring? Because I posted in our instant message group when we put this out there. I'll believe it when I see it. Does anybody believe in this at all?

Claire Buchanan:
No. That has to come with an action. You can't just say it.

Josh Watson:
He's definitely sticking around, especially if he gets divorced.

Claire Buchanan:
Yikes.

Brock Richardson:
Wow.

Cam Jenkins:
I think that's why he will retire after next year because I think his wife is pretty upset. So to happy wife, happy life. I think this is going to be his last season because of that.

Brock Richardson:
Yeah, I mean, I... Listen, until Tom Brady is gone for half a season, I'm not buying it. I'm also-

Cam Jenkins:
He's forty-flipping-five.

Brock Richardson:
Doesn't matter. He should've stopped five years.

Cam Jenkins:
How does he keep doing it at this stage of his career? How does he be so phenomenal?

Josh Watson:
That's the question.

Cam Jenkins:
I don't know. It's just mind boggling,

Brock Richardson:
It's the water in Tampa and New England that's been keeping him going here.
All right, let's switch gears into the MLB. They've got some new rules that I want to go over. So let's start with the no shift. Three players must be on either side of second base. All infielders must have two feet on the dirt when the ball is thrown. Then the second one is the pitch clock. So 15 second pitch clock with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runner on base. Then you may throw over three times, but on the third time when you're going to pick somebody off, you have to get the runner or it is considered a balk. Which of those rules, I mean we could talk about the 15 inch bases to the 18 inch. Yeah, I'm basically, who cares about that one? Which of those rules do you guys like or dislike the most? Let's go Cameron, Josh, Claire on this one.

Cam Jenkins:
I love not having the shift. Just play your position, stand where like I'm used to players standing from the 1800s onwards and just... I don't want people doing the shift, because it makes the game so much more boring. So it's nice and then people are going to have to run more and they're going to have to show off their defensive abilities a lot more. So I think that's going to be exciting and that's going to give the game a little bit more action. A little bit more runs.

Josh Watson:
Sorry, I guess that was my cue. For me, I'm interested to see the pitch clock and see how that is going to work out. We have seen in the past some notoriously slow pitchers where you could pretty much go and take a washroom break and come back and you wouldn't have missed a pitch. It's going to be interesting to see how teams handle that. And do they keep those pitchers around and try and convince them to move faster? Or do you see a lot of pitchers that we're used to seeing maybe out of the league because they can't adapt? It's going to be very interesting.

Claire Buchanan:
That is an interesting point, Josh, that it's going... Yeah, it's going to put pitchers in a new maybe routine that they go into on the mound and that a routine could make or break some athletes.
Brock, you didn't want to mention the larger bases, but that's the one thing that kind of stuck out for me because I think the larger bases makes it easier to steal bases. That essentially decreases the space between each base.

Brock Richardson:
Yeah, fair.

Claire Buchanan:
It'll be interesting to ... I think that's a little ridiculous of a rule to put in place because bases have been the same size since the start of baseball, I believe. I think that's one thing that they didn't really have to touch. But yeah, Cam you pointed out a great thing. I've mentioned over the span of my time being here that I've learned a lot from not knowing anything about the game of baseball to now being involved in conversations like this. Thank you for pointing out that the defensive shift rule is actually going to make us see more athleticism on the field because they really have to stay within their quote unquote square of defensive positions.
So yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing that. The Blue Jays themselves have had quite a few number of outfielders that are MVP worthy. So it'll be exciting to see how that changes the game.

Brock Richardson:
For sure. The one rule that I think they really missed the boat on, and it's one that I've talked about on various programs this week is the whole, when we slide into a base and we lose contact and the runner gets tagged. I don't think that was the intention of the rule for players to be called safe and out. Now I get it. By the letter of the law, the runner is out. That's fine. But do you guys like this rule or is it just me that goes, "Ah, that's not the way this rule was designed for was to call a player out after they are safe and because they popped up, eh, that's the end of that." Cam, Josh and then Claire.

Cam Jenkins:
Yeah, I think that I like that rule. You put your foot on the bag, you got to keep it there so it teaches you how to slide properly so your forward momentum doesn't go off the bag. For years, it's been awesome when you see those kind of, I'll call them trick plays where the person has it in their glove and they pretend to throw the baseball but they still have it in their glove. Then the guy goes off of second, then pops them and then the person's out. I personally love that kind of stuff and to see those kind of plays. It just kind of adds something to the game. So personally, I think they do need to stay on the bag.

Josh Watson:
I'm not quite as enamoured with it as you might be, Cameron. I think that if somebody steals a bag and they beat the tag, then they should be allowed at least to stand up. If you're standing on second base and then you walk off the base and get tagged, well that's your own stupid fault. But to slide in, beat the tag and have to watch all these copious replays and say, "Well, did his hand come off the bag or did he reach around the fielder?" Even at home plate, it's a challenge. It's like did he avoid the tag as he was sliding in or not? And it just it slows the game.

Cam Jenkins:
That's a tough one for home plate. I don't like that either, Josh.

Josh Watson:
Yeah. Once you slide into a base, I think you should be able to just be safe. That's-

Cam Jenkins:
For home plate, I think that, I miss the days of... It's bad for the catcher, I understand why they're doing it, but there was something about it when they blocked the plate, and they were trying to get there, and knock the catcher over, and so on and so forth. Now, you can't even touch the catcher and it seems to be really hard to slide into home plate or to be able to do that without interfering or touching the catcher. Because if you do, you could be out anyway.

Brock Richardson:
That's because nobody understands the rule and how to block the plate, including the major league baseball umpires.

Claire Buchanan:
This is why though. We've had these rules in the game this entire time and I think changing these rules are going to create a lot of controversy, and a lot of, I don't know how to put it. In basketball, you call it flopping. I think it's going to cause players to try to trick the system.
Again, I'm with Cam, I love seeing those tricky plays where an athlete takes the time to get in the other athlete's mind and see if they're going to go off the bag or how they're going to slide into home plate. Yeah, I think we don't want to change the games that we love too much. I think that's what happening in baseball specifically right now. There are a lot of changes happening. I'm really wary if it's actually going to stay true to the basis of the game.

Brock Richardson:
We literally don't want to change it where nobody understands what the rule is anymore.

Claire Buchanan:
Exactly that.

Brock Richardson:
I think that's where we are at with this home plate and sliding rule. Nobody gets it. The analysts pretend to do this whole deal and it's all good. I don't know. The MLB needs to get their stuff sorted out. Limiting the amount of times you can throw over to first base is not something we need to deal with at this point. Let's get the home plate rule straightened out.

That is the end of our program for this week. I'd like to thank Cam Jenkins, Claire Buchanan, Josh Watson. Our technical producer is Marc Aflalo and our manager of AMI Audio is Andy Frank. Tune in next week because you just never know what happens when you enter The Neutral Zone. Have a great week. We'll talk to you next week. Be safe. Be well.