I Am Not “Deeply Troubled” Today…

First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all – particularly the family contingent currently residing in Dublin, Ireland.

Second, congratulations to Michigan and Holy Cross as they won their “play-in” games to join the round of 64. If you are drawn to Cinderella stories, consider Holy Cross who is in the tournament with a sub-.500 record and who will need to make it to the Final Four to get their record up to .500. The first obstacle in the Crusaders’ way is #1 seed Oregon tomorrow…

Now, there was a disheartening report yesterday regarding Arnold Palmer. It seems that he will indeed be attending the Masters next month meaning he has been at Augusta National for the tournament every year since 1954. Palmer cited a shoulder injury that will prevent him from joining Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in the opening tee shot ceremony. I know there have been a bunch of golf tournaments already in 2016 but the fact is that the Golf Season really begins with The Masters. Palmer is 86 years old; there is a sort of majesty associated with the three great golfers walking to the first tee and hitting drives down the fairway to start the tournament and the season. This year, it will only be two-thirds as majestic as it was last year. Here’s hoping Palmer’s shoulder injury will heal sufficiently to let him join his colleagues on the first tee in 2017.

Back in the days of the NFL Combine, there was a report that one of the members of the coaching staff of the Atlanta Falcons asked one of the players there in an interview if the player was gay – or some question to that effect. The team disavowed the question and the player did not get himself into high dudgeon and the story went away. Personally, I filed it in the corner of my brain where I keep examples of people saying stupid things.

    [Aside: In the past, I had opportunities to give presentations to people with regard to my professional endeavors. At the end, I would invite questions by saying, “There are no stupid questions; there are only stupid answers. Ask what you want…”

    Based on the report of this interview, I may have to amend the premise of my invitation. There may, in fact, be stupid questions…]

In any event, the story went away … until yesterday. It seems that the Attorney General of New York – remember, the coach works for the Atlanta Falcons and the question was asked in Indianapolis – announced that he was “deeply troubled” by the incident and that he was going to ask some questions of his own. Please note, that the NFL Combine closed its doors on 29 February; it is more than two weeks since the stupid question was asked, answered, announced and forgotten. Personally, I think that is a significant measure of the “depth” of the troublesome feelings that the Attorney General may or may not have on this subject.

Look, I understand the impropriety and the illegality of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. If you read the two previous paragraphs, it should be clear that I do not think the assistant coach was in the right by asking what he did. Nonetheless, this smacks of a grandstand play of the highest order by the Attorney General.

As a result of his ”deeply troubled” state, he has asked the NFL to examine its hiring practices and cites as the basis for his intervention in the matter the fact that the NFL Headquarters is at 345 Park Ave in Manhattan. I will leave it to the lawyers who read these rants to explain the reasoning that is asserted there because I think it is a stretch worthy of Reed Richards of Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four.

Imagine for a moment that the Jacksonville Jaguars fired a game-day parking lot attendant and that the attendant claimed that the basis for his termination was his sexual orientation. Would that be something sufficiently “deeply troubling” to the Attorney General of New York to get involved in some sort of dialog with the suits on NFL’s Mahogany Row about the league’s hiring practices? If so, the Attorney General of New York must simultaneously be able to assert that serious criminal wrongdoings have been rendered extinct in the State of New York and that is why he is inserting himself into such a matter.

Roger Goodell has shot himself in the foot – and perhaps in even more sensitive portions of his anatomy – with his handling of investigations into alleged misdeeds by players and coaches and equipment managers and etc. Despite his singular ineptitude in that arena over the past several years, he is not responsible nor should he be accountable for the stupidity of each and every person who is employed by the NFL. Similarly, the Attorney General of New York should not be held accountable for every mistake or blunder committed by someone working in that orbit of the State Government. If a mass murderer goes free because someone mishandled the critical evidence that would have put the mass murderer in jail forever-and-a-day, that is not the fault of the Attorney General and he should not be responsible for that result.

What the assistant coach did was inexcusable; it may in fact be illegal. But it did not happen in New York; the coach’s immediate employer is not in New York; the player who received the question is not a resident of New York. If the Attorney General is genuinely “deeply troubled”, I can see him contacting his counterparts in Indiana or Georgia or possibly a US Attorney in one of those areas since there may be Federal laws that apply here. Those contacts and expressions of his “deeply troubled” state of mind can easily and effectively be done quietly and privately. As opposed to…

Since I mentioned the Combine and the concept of being “deeply troubled” above, I want to make an observation about some of the hyperventilating coverage that event draws. Every year, there is a report – or multiple reports – where the writer cites a conversation with an unnamed “NFL scout” or “NFL personnel people” who the writer says were “deeply troubled” by the 40-yard dash time registered by some offensive or defensive lineman. Every time I read such a report, I wonder what the problem might be. Perhaps, the “NFL scout” in question here harbored some idea that his team might draft this lineman and use him also as a kick returner – but the slow time in the 40 would mean the special teams coach would not go along with that.

The NFL Combine is an unending source of irrelevant stories; it ranks second in NFL events in that category right behind Super Bowl Media Day. Sadly, this year’s Combine provided a story that lingers two weeks after the event – as if we did not have enough while it was ongoing.

Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald regarding another sports story of minimal lasting importance:

“Nebraska hosted its first beach volleyball game. The World-Herald assigned its beach volleyball expert. It’s a guy who’s seen the movie ‘Blue Lagoon’ nine times.”

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