There are lots of recurring sports “stories” that I try to convince you to ignore simply because the “stories” come from low-grade ore in terms of important “news content”. Spring Training reports, Super Bowl Media Day shenanigans, mock drafts months in advance of the real thing and any report labeled as “Bracketology” fall in that category. There may be a nugget of news in a whole pile of such reporting, but it will be hidden in amongst a ton of dross. Today, I would like to add one more segment of annual sports reporting that you can comfortably ignore – or skim very lightly at best:
Stories leading up to the NFL Combine
The Combine as an event is over-reported; but at least, the over-reporting has to do with athletic accomplishments that may have a bearing on the future careers of NFL aspirants. However, reports appearing now regarding who will or will not throw at the Combine or who will skip the 40-yard dash are little more than space fillers. If the outcomes from the Combine are important information for you, be sure to check in to see who ran how fast and who jumped how high after they actually do that. Until the Combine is over, find something else to ponder…
The Combine leads up to the Draft. Now the Draft is important to NFL teams and therefore the fans of those teams. Lots of people pour lots of mental energy into psyching out the players and the teams and “The Draft”. I get that; I do that too. Nevertheless, do not lose site of the fact that the Draft is an art and not a science. Even though teams seek to quantify the physical attributes of potential draftees, the actual selections rarely turn out to perform in ways that verify that the #1 pick was better than the #2 pick who was similarly better than the #3 pick … and so on. I know this is changing sports on you, but this observation from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot focuses directly on the uncertain nature of the draft:
“Swing and miss: Rumors that the Timberwolves were trying to trade Ricky Rubio this week recalled the 2009 NBA Draft, when Minnesota used the fifth and sixth picks to take Rubio and guard Jonny Flynn, who is out of the league. And they passed up Steph Curry in the process.”
Given the vagaries and uncertainties of the Draft, why impute any value into reports that may or may not turn out to be valid regarding who might or might not do what at the Combine leading up to the Draft?
CBSSports.com had a report last week that Verne Lundquist will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Sports Emmy Award Ceremony. It would be difficult to make a case that Lundquist is not worthy of such an honor. I can recall hearing him do play-by-play for both college and pro football, provide “whispered commentary” on the Masters, and I loved listening to him and his long-time partner – Bill Raftery – doing college basketball games. Last year, Lundquist was paired with Jim Spanarkel for March Madness and that worked very well too.
Congratulations to Verne Lundquist for this award. It is well-deserved…
I wonder if – in a former incarnation – Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones was Father Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town in Omaha. Boys Town was an orphanage; it is now a center for “troubled youth”; one of the foundations of faith that drove Father Flanagan was that every boy could become a good and productive adult if as a boy he had a loving/nurturing home and access to education. I can take Jerry Jones’ actions over the past several years and map them onto that sort of “foundation of faith” that motivated Father Flanagan. Briefly:
The Cowboys had T.O. on the squad for 3 years.
Dez Bryant needed and got “chaperones” early in his career. Even today, most of Bryant’s tirades involving his own teammates are handled in a very low-key manner.
Greg Hardy signed on after he was convicted of domestic violence – a conviction overturned later on appeal.
Randy Gregory flunked a drug test at the Combine. How dumb – or anti-social – must one be to do that? The Cowboys drafted him because he can rush the passer.
Johnny Manziel is likely going to be a free agent very soon and Jerry Jones has said that he thinks Manziel would be a strong candidate to be Tony Romo’s understudy and potentially the Cowboys’ QB in the future.
Father Flanagan lives on in Dallas…
The Randy Gregory situation is a timely one. Last week, the NFL announced that Gregory would be suspended for 4-games at the start of next season for violations of the NFL substance-abuse policy. Now unless there is some part of the current NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement that I do not know about, here is what has to have happened:
Gregory’s failed drug test at the Combine put him in the NFL substance-abuse monitoring program. That engenders more frequent tests; on-demand tests and random tests.
To earn a 4-game suspension, a player would need to fail 3 of those monitoring tests – or simply refuse to participate in the counseling activities that are also part of the substance-abuse program.
Assuming that Gregory did not punch-out a counsellor – that would have made news if he had! – it means he got caught with drugs in his system 3 times between the Draft last year and February of this year. That is 3 times in 7 months when he has to know he is on the radar for frequent testing.
There were reports after the Draft last year that Gregory would have a security detail assigned to him to help him stay on the straight and narrow. As noted above, the Cowboys had done this sort of thing with Dez Bryant in the past so that reporting did not light up the Internet. And still, he will miss the first 4 games of the 2016 season…
Here are the bottom lines on all of this as they relate to the Cowboys as a team and Jerry Jones as the owner-GM of the team:
1. Jones needs to go to the private security firm that he hired to help Gregory stay out of trouble and get a rebate.
2. If Jones thinks about signing Manziel, he might want to think about putting one of those chips in Manziel that allows the team to geolocate him at all times. A night on the town with Manziel and Gregory as “running buddies” would be unlikely to end well.
Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald in the wake of the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory:
“After the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning called Cam Newton ‘extremely humble’ in defeat. Then Manning went on to refer to Terrell Owens as ‘reserved’ and Bill Belichick as ‘exuding warmth’.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………