At Ease, Soldier

I don't think anyone received more praise at the 2008 NFL Draft than seventh-round pick, Caleb Campbell. I know you might be pondering, "what's the big deal about a seventh-rounder?" Well, it is because this story is about more than just football. Campbell is the first Army player to be selected in the NFL Draft since 1997, due to a "service option" rule that allowed him to enter said Draft in the first place.

West Point graduate, Caleb Campbell, says farewell to Michie Stadium.
West Point graduate, Caleb Campbell, says farewell to Michie Stadium.
The rule states:

Cadets accepted into the program, "will owe two years of active service in the Army, during which time they will be allowed to play their sport in the player-development systems of their respective organizatio ns and be assigned to recruiting stations. If they remain in professional sports following those two years, they will be provided the option of buying out the remaining three years of their active-duty commitment in exchange for six years of reserve time."

Because of the implementation of this rule, the West Point graduate from Perryton, Texas was able to realize his long-time dream. Vietnam veteran and current coach for the Detroit Lions, Rod Marinelli, understood what kind of dedication Campbell brought to the table and was willing to give him an opportunity. When Caleb Campbell's name was finally called at the podium, he was greeted with chants of "USA" and a well-deserved standing ovation.

Now on July 22nd, Campbell verbally agreed to a 3-year contract with the Lions, but nothing was officially signed. The following day (yesterday), the day before training camp, Campbell recieved word that he would have to serve two years before becoming eligible to play in 2010. As it turns out, the U.S. Army revised its interpretation of the policy two weeks prior, regarding soldiers playing professional sports to complete two years of active duty before applying for a release. Campbell and the Lions didn’t officially receive notice of the change until yesterday. With that being said, I can only imagine how dissappointed he must feel. Being within reaching distance, only to have the rug pulled out from under you at the front door. I am not sure how I personally would have handled the news, but rest assured Caleb Campbell was not phased.

“Now that they understand the policy, they understand how this is going to benefit the Army. Whenever I’m settled in, I will report to the local recruiting station in the area and I will take it very seriously. It’s my job in the United States Army. This is how I’m serving my country.”

And for that, I take my hat off and give you the same standing ovation that embraced your entrance into the National Football League. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, "we all respect you Caleb Campbell." Many thanks for what you have done and will do for our country. The amount of fans you will have as a player cannot rival the many you currently have as a person.

A Smash Rival?

NOTE: I wrote this entry some time ago, so while the writing is not timely, the concept is still relevant.  I will post something more recent, soon!

The much anticipated Super Smash Brothers Brawl has finally arrived after numerous delays and Nintendo fanboys are now rejoicing. It has been some 6 years since Melee graced the Gamecube. The latest version of this 4-player action fighter is sure to be a success while unveiling new characters, stages, and online functionality.

I love the concept of gathering a large group of Nintendo characters (and now some 3rd party.. Snake?) and shoving them into a fighting game with colorful graphics and an intuitive control scheme. The most discussed topic about the last two iterations of the SSB series have been the characters, and rightfully so. Being able to go head-to-head with Nintendo icons such as Link and Samus is what makes this series such a novelty. With that being said, there are a number of characters from a couple of rival platforms that I believe deserve a fighting franchise of their own. Here are some of my top choices:

Lara Croft
(Tomb Raider)

Possibly the most notorious video game vixen in history has earned her spot on the roster. Over the years Lara has increasingly become more badass and can certainly hang with the fellas. Her duel-wield abilities and years of agility training at the mansion make her one tough adversary.

Sam Fisher
(Splinter Cell)
Solid Snake somehow found his way to SSB. Yes, that is a big loss for this foe, imaginative title. But have no fear... another stealth aficionado is here! And instead of a cardboard box for hiding, this guy hangs from a pipe, grabs you from behind, and snaps your neck to your ultimate demise!

(Devil May Cry)
The DMC series has always been one of my personal favorites and Dante is easily a contender for the most badass game character around. His flashy attire and hilariously sarcastic personality are what make him memorable. And oh yeah, he's a demon hunter.

Ryu Hayabusa
(Ninja Gaiden)
A quality ninja game was practically a lost art form until Ninja Gaiden came along. Shinobi was a valiant attempt, but the unfathomably hard difficulty shied gamers away and the Tenchu series is mediocre at best. But then like Y2J, Ryu Hayabusa came and rescued us with his nifty Dragon Sword and served up a can of whoop-ass like no other ninja could fathom!

(Resident Evil 3)

The third installment in the series introduced a new kind of enemy to players. A large, intelligent, missile launcher wielding zombie that is just as fast as you and loves to pop up anywhere and everywhere. "Nemesis" is an understatement.

(God of War)
We all know why the game is titled God of War. And no Ares, your sorry ass has nothing to do with it.

Sweet Tooth
(Twisted Metal)
The serial killer clown who drives an ice cream truck is one of Sony's most recognizable characters. Sweet Tooth was finally playable outside of his notorious truck in Twisted Metal: Head-On in a bonus mode. This maniacal monster is practically an obvious choice as an addition to the roster.

Ratchet (Ratchet & Clank)
As one half of Insomniac's unusual duo, Ratchet can certainly hold his own with many "tools of destruction" in his arsenal. Who doesn't want to see this lombax throw up a disco ball and blast Kratos as he dances?!

Big Daddy
Keeping with the theme of duos, Bioshock heralded it's own unique twosome. This heavily armored behemoth in a diving suit served as a bodyguard to the Little Sisters. The Big Daddy is as memorable a character as there is and you would totally buy this game just to play as one.

Tommy Vercetti
(Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)
Vice City was one of the best selling titles on the PS2. We played as Tommy Vercetti, a mafioso fresh out of prison, trying to make his way up the crime ladder. Vercetti is as hardcore as they come and can do some serious damage with a rocket launcher.

Master Chief
Surprised much? I didn't think so. Chief is a cultural icon. He is the hero of one of the highest selling games of all-time. This super soldier is everything the Terminator wishes he could be and then some. I'll take the Chief via Battle Rifle any day. Let the t-bagging begin!

There are copious amounts of fan-favorites who could have made this list, but that would just be more time consuming. Regardless, I think what we have here is a nice start. Now if only this foe title could come to fruition, then we would be on to something. Until then, happy wishful thinking to all!

Rampant Rampage

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Mixed martial arts is constantly credited as one of the fastest growing sports today. Since the debut of the Ultimate Fighter television show on Spike TV, MMA has been in nothing short of the limelight. Fighters such as Roger Huerta and Chuck Liddell have donned the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine, respectively. Fight organization EliteXC has since signed a network television deal with CBS. I think it is safe to say that this sport is now officially on the verge of "mainstream." And congruent to every mainstream sport, mixed martial arts has its share of superstar athletes, none more prevalent than Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.

Since winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship from Chuck Liddell in May of 2007, Jackson has been pushed to the forefront of UFC promotion and has embraced the role with open arms. Sporting a rugged beard and chain-link necklace makes him easily recognizable, while his outlandish, media-friendly personality instantly increases his likability. Everything seemed to be on the right track for Jackson until July 5, 2008 when he was derailed by number one contender, Forrest Griffin.

Coming in to the fight, Rampage and his trainer Juanito Ibarra were confident (maybe overly confident) that Griffin couldn't compete with the champ. They were soon humbled when the first Ultimate Fighter winner swept all three of the judges scorecards for a unanimous decision victory. The bout ended in a cloud
of controversy as some felt Jackson had won and the sold-out crowd openly booed the decision. Regardless, the outcome was set and there was a new champion crowned that night.

I didn't think much of it because with the constant backlash from fans and the supposed protest of the decision from Ibarra, I had assumed there would be an immediate rematch. Forrest Griffin himself agreed with the idea. If anyone in the sport knows what the people want to see, it is UFC President Dana White. All should have been copa
cetic in the Jackson camp, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

On Tuesday the 15th, Quinton Jackson was arrested in Costa Mesa, California after being chased by the police. He was driving with a flat tire while talking on his cell phone and when asked to pull over, he ignored the officer and fled in his pick-up truck. Jackson was eventually arrested five minutes later, ending the pursuit.

I can't remember whether my first response was shock or confusion, but regardless I was experiencing both after I digested the news. Just two weeks prior, Rampage was the biggest star in the sport and now he is on news channels, lying face down on a street, being handcuffed by police. Jackson went from fame to misfortune in the blink of an eye and nobody wants to see that happen. I think the biggest question for me was, "why did this happen?" This was so out of character for Jackson and I believe everyone was taken aback.

Yahoo! Sports was able to talk with Dana White about the incident and his statements painted a clearer picture.

"Rampage doesn't do drugs. Rampage really doesn't even drink. This whole thing made no sense to me. (Then) when I got there it made a lot of sense. As this thing continues to grow and people will get more famous. Fame isn't easy to deal with. Harder for all the fighters are all the cling-ons. I can't police every fighter. As soon as something goes wrong I'm there and I'll help them."

Rampage was very popular in Japan when fighting for PrideFC, but that is a bit different than
being the poster boy for the number one MMA organization in America. The process of becoming the best in an individual sport is arduous, but the pressure of staying at the top is almost unbearable. It takes focus to deal with new-found fame and I truly feel that Rampage lost it all after being defeated. I never pictured Quinton to be in the predicament he is in now, but I hope that he has a support system that will help him recover and recapture championship status once again.


A short time for praise..

Wow. I can't say I'm not happy to see Giant Bomb finally up and running. This has been a night of enamor and excitement for many, especially the Giant Bomb staff. I remember checking my e-mail profusely, hoping that maybe we would be treated to a surprise early beta. As time passed, I noticed the community increase and the buzz of a new site looming. I knew the day would eventually come, but now that it is here, I am beside myself. This community-driven haven for gamers is certainly more than I expected and I haven't even scratched the surface of what is available to me. I know it might sound a bit trite, but I am really happy for the staff and what they have going here. This is just the beginning of a prodigious website with limitless potential. I know this community is going to grow exponentially and Giant Bomb will be the next big thing amongst the game-dedicated titans. Congratulations Giant Bomb! Your rookie year is going to be a great one!

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