March may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb; but here in Curmudgeon Central, I try to keep an even keel. I seek to maintain “Consistent Crankiness” from day-to-day and month-to month. Accordingly, you should not expect leonine outbursts here today. However, I make no promises about tomorrow because here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we are holding our primary elections today. That means I will go to the polls later today to discharge my responsibility as a citizen. In so doing, I will approach a system dominated by people for whom I have generally low regard – or worse. Ergo, unless I mellow by tomorrow morning, I might tend to the upper limits of my “Consistent Crankiness”.
The NFL Combine is finally over. I will go out on a limb and say – without actually reading them – that you can safely skip any of the “post-mortem reports” from the event. Anything that tries to summarize the Combine activities in terms of “stock trending up” and/or “stock trending down” should not be taken with a grain of salt for the simple reason that it should not be taken in the first place. I did run across one article that dealt with the uncertainty of drafting a QB this year where none of the eligible candidates come with a pedigree similar to those of Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariotta from recent years. In that article, Bruce Arians was quoted saying:
“When you’re dealing with these guys and evaluating [them], the two muscles you can’t evaluate are the brain and the heart. And they’re the two you play with.”
That is not exactly a malapropism, but it is close. The brain – yours, mine or a quarterback’s – is not a muscle. If it were a muscle, then the brain would be a form of meat and that would make the quarterback a meathead and you would not want to draft him. In any event, that was one of the most important “insights” that I gained from reading – sparingly – about the NFL Combine. As they say in the car ads on TV, “Your mileage may vary…”
With the announcement that Tom Brady has extended his contract for 2 more years and would be playing QB at age 42 should he play out that deal, let me present to you a couple of numbers that should reinforce your belief in the fact that a top-shelf QB is critical to NFL success:
Bill Belichick’s record when Tom Brady is his starting QB: 183-65 with 6 Super Bowl appearances and 4 Super Bowl victories.
Bill Belichick’s record when someone else is his starting QB: 40-48.
The NFL recently provided us with yet another installment of “The Story That Will Not Die.” According to reports, two members of the British Parliament sent a joint letter to NFL Commish, Roger Goodell, urging the Commish to do one of two things:
1. Change the name of the Washington team because the name is offensive.
2. Alternatively, send a different team to play in London next Fall.
The two MPs were indeed in high dudgeon as they crafted their missive. Here are a few samples of their rhetoric:
“As one of the U.S.’ biggest cultural exports finds success in the U.K., the sport’s values and standards come with it. Unfortunately, it is apparent that within these values there is a deliberate insensitivity and apparent hostility to a prominent minority group.”
“We were shocked to learn of the derivation of the term ‘R*dskin,’ pertaining as it does to the historic abuse of native Americans, including the production of a piece of flesh as proof of kill by bounty hunters. The exportation of this racial slur to the U.K. this Autumn … directly contravenes the values that many in Britain have worked so hard to instill.”
The Skins and Bengals are scheduled to play there in October this year and the controversy that we have dealt with on and off for the last 35 years or so has now spread across the pond. The two MPs seem not to have picked up on the key element of the dispute over the name; they seem to think that appeals to morality and good taste and respect for others is what all this is about. Actually, what it is about is far more crass; it is about money.
Memo to Offended Members of Parliament: The Washington franchise makes money hand-over-fist using that team name. Until and unless something happens to change that fact, the team name is not going to change – and Roger Goodell will not/cannot order such a change.
What I find very interesting about this particular situation and the agita it seems to have generated in Great Britain is that the monetary aspect cuts both ways here. The presence of an NFL game in London does attract some money to the local economy and there are more than a few folks in London who would like to see a permanent NFL franchise there for economic reasons. The reality is that should the British acquire an NFL franchise, it would be part of the same league that harbors this team with this name that the MPs find sufficiently offensive that they penned the letter that they did.
The Skins make money so they are not changing their team name; the NFL puts some money into the London economy so London continues to want to host NFL games – including the one on the schedule this October between Washington and Cincinnati. That is the thing about money; it spends equally well no matter the source. That may not be the most uplifting thought for the day – but it is reality. Sometimes reality bites … sort of like the reality I am about to encounter as I head out from Curmudgeon Central and go to the polls to vote.
Finally, to close on a lighter note, here is an item from a recent column by Brad Rock in the Deseret News:
“Continuing on their roll, the [BYU} Cougars have received a commitment from four-star junior college transfer Handsome Tanielu.
“If BYU has any sense of humor, it will hire former Western Kentucky defensive back Wonderful Terry as a graduate assistant.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………