One Step At A Time

Back in September, I wrote that one of the major difficulties with the job that Roger Goodell has developed for himself was that he had to be “The Disciplinarian”. In that piece, I argued that the role of disciplinarian does not mesh well at all with the more fundamental responsibilities of a commissioner:

    A. Grow the league revenues

    B. Maintain labor peace

    C. Maintain and enhance the league’s public image and standing

I also suggested there that the best way to deal with discipline would be to “outsource it” to an arbitration staff paid for by both the NFL and the NFLPA such that there would be no suspicion of pulling fiscal strings behind the scenes. Well, last week, the NFL and the NFLPA took a first step exactly that path. They agreed to hire an outside arbitrator to handle the appeal that Ray Rice and his attorneys have filed. This is a big deal. The NFL and the NFLPA have agreed on a single person to handle this matter and both sides have agreed to live with the consequences of that person’s decision here. That may seem very normal – even mundane – for us “ordinary citizens” but that has never been the case for the league and the union.

Former US District Court judge, Barbara Jones, will be the arbitrator. For one, I hope that her handling of this matter is so exemplary that both sides come to the decision that hiring a small outside staff that will do nothing except handle disciplinary matters is a positive direction for both organizations.

Greg Cote posed an interesting rhetorical question in the Miami Herald yesterday:

“Question: How does A’s general manager Billy ‘Moneyball’ Beane get to keep being a genius when this was the 17th consecutive season his team failed to reach the World Series, let alone win?”

I think the answer to that question is that the baseball poets and Michael Lewis have anointed him as a genius and no one wants to be the fart in church to suggest otherwise. I never believed Moneyball to be a faithful rendition of history from the time I read it. I am not one who resists new analytical stats – although I do believe some of the “advanced metrics” are a tad arcane – but I also believe firmly in the “Eyeball Test”.

Now for a retrospective view of why the Oakland A’s were so successful around the turn of the millennium that you would not get just from reading/seeing/reading Moneyball:

    The A’s had three young pitchers (Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito) who all blossomed around the same time. No analytical process predicted that would be the case nor did any such process make it happen.

    The A’s at that time had a roster with more than a couple of players who have since been associated with PED use.

Now, that leads to a retrospective on this year’s big trades for Jeff Samardzija and John Lester near the trade deadline. For whatever reason, the A’s cratered after that trade; the team was 66-41 when the trade went down; the A’s went 22-23 after the trade. It is difficult to look at those numbers and say the trade was a “success” for the A’s but that is exactly what Billy Beane keeps trying to say. In fact, the SF Chronicle reported that he said the A’s might not have made the playoffs had he not made that deal.

There is no advanced analytical stat that measures “team chemistry” or whatever you want to call that concept. However, if the SF Chronicle report is accurate and I have no reason to doubt it, how might the 20 or so players in the A’s clubhouse feel about the way team management views their value. They were 25 games over .500; they had the best record in MLB at the time; management says they would have missed the playoffs without a couple of additions to the roster. Billy Beane likes to dismiss any discussion of things like “team chemistry” and the “Eyeball Test” as irrelevant. In this case, he had better be correct…

    [Aside: Every time someone asks me what I mean by the “Eyeball Test”, I use this example if the person is more than 35 years old. In football, the career quarterback ratings say that Chad Pennington, Duante Culpepper and Jeff Garcia were all better quarterbacks than John Elway. That does not pass the “Eyeball Test”.]

Here is another item from Greg Cote’s column in the Miami Herald yesterday:

“Saw a headline that LeBron already has mastered new Cavs coach David Blatt’s offense. Figures. The offense may be summarized as, ‘Give the ball to LeBron!’ “

That snarky remark got me thinking about the Miami Heat for the upcoming season and leads me to ask:

    How long will it be until folks begin to question if Erik Spoelstra is actually a good NBA coach or is he just a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time to be on the bench with LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh?

The Heat will not be nearly as dominant this year as they have been for the last four years. The reason for that will be that LeBron James is in Cleveland and not in Miami. Nonetheless, Spoelstra will take some heat.

Finally, since I have used two of Greg Cote’s items from yesterday’s Miami Herald, let me close by using a third. It needs no amplification:

“Johnny Manziel says he might offer to counsel Jameis Winston. No, seriously.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

More Legal Stuff For The NFL

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changed one of their rules. That rule had been the NFL’s basis for having and enforcing its “Blackout Policy” for local telecasts. The FCC did not order the NFL to do anything; it simply negated the rule. Here is where it gets complicated – too complicated for me to understand based on the various reports I have read/heard.

The NFL is appealing the FCC decision. No surprise here. However, I do not understand what if any added “jeopardy” this might heap upon the NFL. If there is no added jeopardy, of course they will appeal and appeal and appeal.

Several reports say that even with this ruling, the NFL can continue to have its blackout rule – no telecasts to the local area if the game does not sell out 72 hours prior to kickoff. If that is the case, I have to say that I do not understand why or how this is any big deal at all.

Finally, I do not understand why the NFL does not argue that lifting this rule and permitting even the possibility of local telecasts is blatantly unconstitutional per the Eighth Amendment. That amendment forbids the infliction of “cruel or unusual punishments. If the NFL has to televise Jacksonville Jaguars home games to the home TV market, that would inflict the punishment of watching the Jags stink it up on the road AND at home. How cruel and unusual is that?

I wonder if the scouts and the player development departments around the league are looking at the recent events involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson to the point where they might be changing the ways they will evaluate and interview high-talent collegiate prospects before drafting/signing them. I am specifically thinking of Jameis Winston here.

No questions continue to obtain with regard to Winston’s football skills; he can play. There are loads of questions about his socialization level/maturity/ability to stay out of trouble. Winston is only 20 years old; he has only been at Florida State for 2.5 years; and in that short time, he has been involved in:

    An alleged rape
    A shoplifting escapade
    Standing on a table in the student union shouting obscenities.

That is not a warm and fuzzy trifecta; that does not portray a young man who has self-control and/or a keen sense of what is right/wrong/acceptable/unacceptable in terms of behavior. No matter; he is going to be a high draft pick by an NFL team because he has “that kind of talent”. “That kind of talent” has seemingly immunized him from suffering the consequences of these kinds of actions to date; but in the current environment, that continued immunity is not a sure bet.

I would love to see the scouting reports that come from the “Chief Scout” that go to the “Player Development Guru” and the GM for teams that will be drafting in the Top 10 next year. If I had to write it, I would make sure it was clear that this kid is a special talent on the field – and that he has a special talent for finding troubles off the field. In large font type and in red letters, I would point out to the draft day decision makers that special talents like Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Ray Rice did not materially help their teams in 2014…

Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot summed it up this way:

“A message: The consequences of Winston’s actions have stretched beyond Internet ridicule, an all-too-brief half-game suspension and a growing bad reputation. Now Mel Kiper Jr. has weighed in, dropping Winston from third to 25 on his famous Big Board eight months before the next draft. As silly as it sounds, maybe this will get through to the kid whose quarterback skills are eclipsed by his talent for making wrong choices.”

If I were King of the World, here is an immediate change I would make for all sports telecasts:

    There would be no interviews with coaches just before the game or at halftime of the game. The penalty would be caning – probably 50 strokes would do the trick. The coaches clearly do not want to be interrupted from whatever zone they are trying to get themselves into; they never say anything even remotely interesting; the interviewer has to pretend to care about the pabulum answers. Stop this insanity and stop it immediately!

Now that the police, prosecutors and a Grand Jury have decided that Tony Stewart will not face any criminal charges in the events that led up to and resulted in the death of Kevin Ward about a month ago in a dirt-track race, it is time for the people screaming for Stewart to be boiled in oil to – how can I say this politely? – shut the Hell up. Unless one of them can prove conclusively in public that he/she is a mind reader, there is not much that any more theorizing or arm waving can accomplish here. I do not know if Stewart ran over the kid intentionally or because he lost control of his car after “trying to scare the kid”. More importantly, neither does anyone else except Tony Stewart. That includes all the Internet shriekers who have already convicted him of a half-dozen heinous crimes.

Remember the adage used by lawyers for public figures who have been indicted by a Grand Jury that it is easy to indict a ham sandwich. Well, this Grand Jury found it more difficult to indict Tony Stewart so the evidence before them had to be pretty thin. That means he is less likely to have committed a crime than a ham sandwich – even one with mustard and a pickle.

Finally, here is one more cogent observation from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot regarding the strange course of events for the NFL in this early part of the 2014 season:

“In passing: Remember when NFL officials thought the biggest distraction this season would be Michael Sam?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

The Baseball Playoffs…

I got an e-mail from a former colleague who has retired to live in Pismo Beach and write books. He is also an avid LA Dodgers’ fan who wanted me to make World Series predictions as soon as the baseball playoff picture had been resolved. Well, the games begin today and even though it is not a fundamental part of my nature to please other people, I will honor that request:

    American League: I have to root for the Royals; the last time they were in the playoffs was before Fawn Hall had her 15 minutes of fame. [Google is your friend.] I do not think the Royals – or the A’s – will emerge from the play-in game to make it to the World Series but I would love to see the Royals advance. I think the Angels’ pitching is suspect; I think the Tigers’ defense is beyond suspect. I like the Orioles to win the AL pennant because they are above average in just about every aspect of the game.

    National League: The Washington Nationals are the best team in baseball from top to bottom and from side to side. Once they demoted Soriano from the closer’s job, they removed their only real liability. Having said that, I worry about any team getting through a 7-game series against a team that can start Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke twice each. The Nationals are the better team, but I suspect the Dodgers will win the NL pennant.

    Notice that I have avoided picking a “cute World Series” such as a Bay Area Series (Giants/A’s) or a Tinseltown World Series (Dodgers/Angels) or an Interstate 70 World Series (Cardinals/Royals). The idea of these “cute World Series” names has been done to death.

Sticking with baseball for a moment, the Twins fired manager, Ron Gardenhire yesterday. The Twins have been awful for a couple of years but that awfulness is far more a product of the roster assembled by the team front office under the budget constraints of the team owners than it is a product of the manager and the coaching staff. As they say, you cannot fire the players – not without having to go out and spend a lot of money on free agents to replace some of them – and so the manager takes the blame.

Yesterday, I think I made it clear that I had had more than enough of the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour Around America. Well, I suspect I was not the only one. Consider these two items:

“Speaking of Jeter, I’m not saying his final home game in New York was a baseball lovefest of Biblical proportions, but did you see where the Three Wise Men — Bob Costas, George Will and Peter Gammons — showed up bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh?” [Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel]

And…

“Now that the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour is just about a wrap, how’s that Welcome Back, A-Rod campaign for 2015 coming along?” [Dwight Perry, Seattle Times]

The Ryder Cup has come and gone. In case this remains a mystery to any sports fan, golf is not a team sport and just because you dress all of the players in the same outfits – preferably ones that they would not be caught dead wearing at any other moment in their lives – does not turn golf into a team sport. Once again, I seem not to be alone in my marginal interest in the Ryder Cup; here is what Greg Cote had to say about it in the Miami Herald:

“Golf’s Ryder Cup matches between the United States and Europe end Sunday in Scotland. It’s one of sports’ most riveting competitions, according to announcers for the broadcasting network.”

Whilst on the subject of golf, consider these two items found in Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter in the Seattle Times:

“Golfer Tiger Woods, who parted ways with adviser Sean Foley last month, says he might serve as his own swing coach for a while.

“Tiger to give swinging a try with no adult supervision — what could possibly go wrong?”

And…

“GM is coming out with a self-driving Cadillac.

“ ‘So where were you when I needed you five years ago?’ moaned Tiger Woods.”

I did a double take when I first read a report that the new manager of Leeds United in the Championship League in England would be Darko Milanic. I thought that the draft bust taken by the Detroit Pistons had given up basketball to take up soccer coaching. At that point, I realized that I had no idea where Darko Milicic’s career had taken him now and so I went to Google to find out. Strangely enough, Darko Milicic is indeed giving up basketball for a new career vector in sports. He will not be a soccer coach; he plans to become a kickboxer. Seriously, that report comes from ESPN and not The Onion

Finally, here is Greg Cote’s commentary on the US Open Tennis Tournament from the Miami Herald:

“Marin Cilic beat Kei Nishikori for the men’s U.S. Open crown. But, really, other than it being a star-less, lopsided match won by a guy coming off a doping ban, it was a great men’s final!”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

News Flash; Stop The Presses…

It is not often that I get to break news in one of these rants; that is not their intent. However, here in Curmudgeon Central, I have breaking news. Derek Jeter had decided to retire and he played his last game in MLB over the weekend. Who saw that coming?

Seriously, last year we had Mariano Rivera take a yearlong “victory lap” around MLB and this year we had Derek Jeter do the same. Unless someone reconnects Ted Williams’ head with a torso over the winter, I really do not want another year of ceremonial goodbyes. Enough already…

Two comments regarding Ray Rice, the NFL, domestic violence and the like and then I want to move on:

    1. Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot seems to agree with me that at least some of the anger directed at Roger Goodell is misplaced:

    “Maybe you noticed that some NFL players expressed more anger at Goodell over fallout from the Rice case than they have over what Rice did to his wife. Feel free to be disgusted.”

    2. I have heard all that I need to hear from ex-jocks on TV regarding the issue of domestic violence. I realize that the Presidential Campaign for 2016 is just about to begin and that means that athletes and celebrities will feel compelled to tell me what their political views are. My earpans will be under assault for the next two years. Can I get just a brief respite now?

It is never news to report that someone in the US Congress is grandstanding but one such Congressional event falls into the category of “grandstanding that will actually work”. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will introduce legislation that would revoke the NFL’s tax-exempt status specifically because the league continues to have a team with a nickname that is racist. I do not care which side of that argument you wish to take; that is not the point here

I have said for years – actually for more than two decades – that the only way the team would change its name or that the NFL would force them to change its name would be to apply economic pressure to the team and/or the league. Senator Cantwell’s bill would begin to do just that. Her legislation is based on whatever moral position she and others may have with regard to the team name “Redskins” but her legislation would take their morality and move it into operational mode.

While I agree completely that the South Park satire of the NFL is brilliant, the NFL and the Redskins can shrug it off and wait for the next satirical commentary from Jon Stewart and/or Keith Olbermann and then they can ignore those also. But removing the tax exemption? What might be next? Legislation to outlaw the Redskins’ trademark? How about mandating an anti-trust investigation into the NFL itself?

Economics is the battlefield the NFL does not want to have to defend. Senator Cantwell’s legislation would not resolve this problem even if it passed tomorrow – and it will not pass tomorrow because Congress is in recess until after the mid-term elections and will then reconvene in a lame-duck session where no one will want to do anything resembling “controversy”. In the new session of the Congress, this bill will languish in whatever committee it goes to until and unless other members push for it to go to the floor for debate. I think the odds of this bill ever seeing the light of day are long – but it focuses on the only meaningful aspect of this controversy that has a chance to result in change.

In the backdrop for all of that, Danny Boy Snyder announced that he has begun to explore options for a new stadium in Washington – or maybe in Maryland or perhaps in Virginia. Obviously, he hopes to start a bidding war among the jurisdictions so that he does not have to pay for the stadium out of his pocket. If you live in area, you would recognize immediately that the local pols would fall for that gambit faster than a prom dress hits the floor around midnight. In order to separate the idea of a “new stadium” from the “nickname controversy”, Danny Boy might attempt to form what I will call the AUC – the Abjectly Unholy Confederation. The AUC would have two major players:

    1. Danny Boy Snyder whose dual objectives are to keep his team name and also to get a brand new playpen for his team at minimal or no cost to him.

    2. The well-meaning – but addle headed – folks in this area who want Washington DC to be the US city nominated by the US Olympic Committee to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Yes; those folks exist and they have already begun their “communications operations” to convince the people and the pols in this area that they have a good idea as opposed to the dumbest idea since the screen door on a submarine.

In case you have not put two and two together properly, the common ground between Danny Boy and the “Olympics” is that the stadium used for the Opening and closing Ceremonies could also be Danny Boy’s new playpen. As this all moves forward, I suggest that someone in the Washington Post will come to the realization that this is the vector for the AUC sometime in the next 12 months. They will then trumpet their new insight and use it to bolster whatever side of the argument they happen to be on at the time. Trust me; this will happen…

    [Aside: Danny Boy and the Olympics would have been a great name for a “doo-wop” group back in the early 60s…]

Finally, let me close today with some more words of wisdom from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Weather or not: The excuses some NFL people have used to explain why it took so long to suspend players for domestic violence incidents generally fall under the heading of ‘the climate has changed.’ I never realized there were so many meteorologists running NFL teams. But no one who respects the difference between right and wrong waits to see which way the wind is blowing before doing the decent thing.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Learning From Experience…?

People – and institutions – learn things in different ways. The norm for most institutions is that they learn by experience and not from some kind of group-cognition that reveals some kind of understanding of smart things to do as opposed to dumb things to do. One of the adversaries to “learning by experience” is stubbornness; some folks – and some institutions – seem impervious to taking advice or considering protest. Often, such folks/institutions rightfully become public piñatas for their actions flavored with their stubbornness.

If these rants followed a path of political commentary, that introductory paragraph might fill up a week’s worth of verbiage for folks to read. Fortunately for everyone here, I try to concentrate on sports. Today, I would like to suggest that two sports institutions that I have bashed more than once in the past may have shed a tad of stubbornness and may have learned from experience. That does not make them perfect – they have a LONG way to go just to become something more than a waste of space – but it is a start.

The first organization that may have figured out that obstinance is not next to Godliness is – hold your breath – FIFA. According to a Reuters story earlier this week, the 2022 World Cup Tournament will not happen in Qatar. The report quotes a FIFA Executive Committee member, Theo Zwanzeiger, focusing on something other than the social/political/diplomatic/economic aspects of the FIFA decision to put the games there:

“Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions…”

It would be a lot easier for the FIFA foofs to be stubborn about their previous decision – and avoid all gas they will take from Qatar and whatever allies Qatar can gather in a debate to change the decision made in 2010 – when the arguments did not focus on player safety and fan safety. More from Theo Zwanzeiger:

“They may be able to cool the stadiums but a World Cup does not take place only there.

“Fans from around the world will be coming and traveling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor.

“That is not something that FIFA Exco members want to answer for.”

Other FIFA officials quickly pointed out that Zwanzeiger was not expressing an official FIFA position and that he was merely expressing his opinion. Nonetheless, it appears as if concerns for athlete safety have caught the attention of at least some FIFA officials and that is a significant change.

Learning from experience…?

The second organization that seems to have learned from experience and had decided to change its current behavior is – hold your breath again – the NCAA. Mark Emmert said that the NCAA will stay away from involvement concerned with domestic violence or investigations of domestic violence on college campuses. He told the AP that domestic violence is a school issue and not an NCAA issue and that colleges should handle these matters – even if they involve student-athletes.

Mark Emmert is absolutely on the right side of that issue – and that is not a sentence I am wont to type. Not only does the NCAA have no organizational interest in such matters, the NCAA has no expertise or insight to add to anything the colleges might choose to do or not to do. If he can hold to that position, he got it right. However, he is more than likely to take a whole lot of gas for that position. Let me frame the argument for you:

    In the sordid Jerry Sandusky situation, Mark Emmert and the NCAA dove in headfirst to punish Penn State to the point where it tried to get $60M from the school to use as it saw fit at other member schools. [A court said that was not going to happen, but that was the NCAA intention.]

    So if that is the NCAA established precedent for handling outrageous criminal behavior that has nothing to do with on-field athletics, why the change?

      A. Does the NCAA think that victims of domestic violence – the vast majority of whom are women – do not matter enough to warrant draconian sanctions?

      B. Does “date-rape” on campuses not sink to the same level of sleaze as “shower-rape”?

Sadly, the best answer for why the change will probably not get much play in headlines because it is too straightforward. The reason is that the NCAA had no business sticking its nose into the Jerry Sandusky matter in the first place and that the NCAA has learned something from that experience. Date-rape and domestic violence on campus is a matter for criminal investigation and the criminal justice system. The NCAA has nothing whatsoever to do with that and it needs to avoid becoming involved with it.

The issue of domestic violence as it relates to athletes – particularly football players in recent weeks – has come into focus recently with the names Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Jameis Winston as part of the headlines. Obviously, the half-game suspension for Winston that turned into a full-game suspension for Winston had to be part of Mark Emmert’s thinking and commentary on this matter. He did have one comment that seems to indicate that the NCAA realizes that this is a “school-matter” as opposed to an “NCAA-matter”:

“Most universities understand [student behavior and student punishment] is a reflection on the university. Universities have a lot more at stake in holding students accountable for their behavior. I wouldn’t say it’s done right all the time, but it is done right most of the time.”

Learning from experience…?

Finally, here is Greg Cote of the Miami Herald on the PGA’s FedEx Cup:

“The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs were won by somebody named ‘Billy Horschel,’ a strong indicator that whatever the FedEx Cup playoffs are, they stink.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

The Disciplinarian

More than a few folks have written – and sports talk radio is all over this idea – that Roger Goodell has to be fired in the wake of the goat rodeo involving Ray Rice and his fiancée/wife. I do not think that is necessary or justified and I believe that those who are calling for his dismissal are missing the point about what a Commissioner for a major sport is supposed to do. The problem is history.

The first sports Comish in the US was Kennesaw Mountain Landis; he got the job to be the capo di tutti capi in MLB after the Black Sox scandal in 1919. He was supposed to rule with an iron fist and make sure everyone in the game toed the line. Most people think he did that; I happen to think that Landis was a lot more bluster than tough guy but I am probably in the minority there. People have come to think that Job Duty #1 for a sports commissioner is to be a disciplinarian. Not so…

The job of the commissioner is to grow the league and the measures of league growth are things like revenue, attendance, public awareness, TV ratings etc. All of those are intertwined but when you take them as a package and add to them the responsibility to deal constructively with the players’ union, you have the modern set of responsibilities for a league commissioner. Unfortunately, they also seem to carry the burden of history with them and they are also expected to be “The Disciplinarian”. That role does not mesh well with “grow the league” and “deal constructively with the union”.

Flip this issue on its head for a moment as a gedanken experiment. Imagine that Roger Goodell was not “The Disciplinarian” and we gave that job to DeMaurice Smith with the same level of authority and acceptance bestowed on Roger Goodell. Regardless of Smith’s good will and positive intentions, his main job – to represent the players on labor issues – would be in conflict with this new role as “The Disciplinarian”. My point is that neither Goodell nor Smith has a position that allows them to blend in any meaningful way their “main job” with the job of disciplinarian.

I think the best solution to the angst and anger that exists at the moment over the Ray Rice matter is to look for ways to evolve the system to a point where “The Disciplinarian” is a job separate and distinct from the NFL front office and from the NFLPA. Like the US, these folks need a “third branch of governance”.

There will be a bazillion details in the creation of the position of “The Disciplinarian” and each of them will represent a hurdle to be crossed. I will not even begin to try to flesh out all those details here except for the sine qua non in this idea:

    “The Disciplinarian” and whatever staff he/she needs will cost money. Everyone in every position is beholden to whoever pays his/her salary. Therefore, the costs for “The Disciplinarian” and his/her staff need to be borne by the NFL and the NFLPA in equal measure.

If there were indeed a person who was “The Disciplinarian”, no one would be thinking that Roger Goodell should be fired about now because he is doing his main job (grow the league) quite well.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Johnny Manziel – through his company, JMan2 Enterprises LLC – has applied for trademark rights to a bunch of names including:

    Johnny Football
    Johnny Cleveland
    JMan
    JMan2
    ManzIIiel

Why stop there?

    The first time he leads a team to a last second win on a TD pass, he could call himself “Johnny on the Spot”.

    When he gets in the news for partying hard in Vegas he could call himself “Johnny Be Bad”.

    If he wins a game on a quarterback sneak, he could be “John Doe”.

    If he finishes second in the MVP voting, he could claim to be “John Adams”.

    If he ended all his press conferences by saying, “I have to go to the john,” he could try to trademark that phrase too.

The name on Manziel’s list – not my frivolous list – that I find most interesting is “JMan”. I really wonder if in the sporting cosmos of the Cleveland area Johnny Manziel’s name would be associated with “JMan”. After all, there is this other guy playing in Cleveland who might also be their JMan – LeBron James…

    [Aside: I wonder if Don Imus ever tried to trademark the name “I-Man”?]

Manziel’s publicity grabs speak to the possibility of an ego run amok. That is not exactly a newsworthy item in the world of sports as evidenced by this terse – yet accurate – summation by Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot of another sporting situation involving ego:

“Idle thought: Tiger Woods fired his swing coach because the golfer couldn’t fire himself.”

Finally, in the wake of the furor over the video tape of Ray Rice in that elevator, here is an item from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald on the blessing of a missing video tape:

“ESPN apologized for airing a report that discussed the locker room showering habits of openly gay NFL player Michael Sam. On the bright side, the report did not include video.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………