The NFL – demonstrating once again that the acronym might stand for the No Fun League – has a new wrinkle in the rule book for the 2016 season. The basis for the rule change goes back to a game last year when Green Bay Packers’ WR, James Jones, wore a green hoodie under his jersey and had the hood sticking out over the back of his jersey when he was on the field wearing his helmet. Jones said that the reason he did that was because it was cold and he wanted to keep warm. For the record, there is meteorological evidence that it does indeed get cold in the late Fall and early Winter in Green Bay Wisconsin.
That solution to the cold will be against the rules as of this year and the reason is simple, incontrovertible – and at the same time sort of silly. Hoodies under jerseys cannot be worn because the hood obscures – at least partially – the nameplate on the back of the player’s uniform. As I said, “simple” and “incontrovertible”. Also “silly”. Then again, it is a part of the league’s “uniform policy” meaning that “silly” is a standard feature.
Fear not. The uniform rule only applies to players. Bill Belichick will still be allowed to dress like a homeless vagrant on the sidelines so long as there is a Patriots’ logo on the hoodie he sports…
To read about some of the other rulebook tweaks the NFL has put in place for the upcoming season that have nothing to do with the rules of play, check them out here.
Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times dug up this tidbit about an athletic “dress code” and it makes the NFL policy look reasonable:
“The Iran soccer federation’s ‘morality committee’ has suspended national-team goalkeeper Sosha Makani for six months for wearing inappropriate off-field attire — specifically, loud yellow pants reminiscent of SpongeBob SquarePants.
“And you thought the NFL fashion police were tough?”
Maria Sharapova has been suspended by the tennis mavens for 2 years for using a banned substance and failing a drug test. She has claimed that she took it under doctor’s orders for a heart condition and that she had been taking it for many years on that basis. She also claimed that she was unaware that the drug had been added to the “no-no list” and therefore she continued with what was her medical regimen. Who knows if any or all of that is true?
The original recommendation was for her to serve a 4-year banishment but the tribunal that heard her appeal reduced it to a 2-year hiatus. This will be a tough thing for her to come back from; she will be 31 when her suspension ends; for most tennis players, that can be the twilight of the career.
I do not follow tennis assiduously and – as I have stated many times before – I do not read minds. Nevertheless, I wonder if some small part of the lengthy banishment here is a way for the tennis mavens to demonstrate that they are going to “be tough” on Russian athletes who test positive for PEDs/banned substances. The stories about Russian athletes doping for the Winter Games in 2014 and for other recent international competitions are myriad. Maybe this is a grandstand play on the part of International Tennis Federation?
Once again, let me turn to Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times for a summary of the Maria Sharapova situation:
“Tennis grunt queen Maria Sharapova has been suspended two years for using a banned substance.
“Here’s guessing she didn’t take the news quietly.”
With all the news of on-air talent “defecting” from ESPN – or being asked to leave – and rumors of retirements, there is one broadcasting icon at the network who is not going anywhere. Brent Musburger has signed a multi-year contract extension with ESPN and will continue to call SEC football games on the SEC Network with Jesse Palmer as the color analyst. In addition, Musburger will continue to do college basketball games after the football season is over.
Musburger turned 77 a few weeks ago and he started his broadcasting career with CBS Radio in 1968. He stayed with CBS until 1990 when a change in management there found him “expendable”; he signed on with ESPN in 1990 and has been there ever since. I have not read any reports on how long the contract extension is.
Speaking obliquely about college football, there was news recently that the Sun Belt Conference will hold a Conference Championship Game starting in 2018. If you give me a couple of weeks to think about it, I may come up with something equally inconsequential as the determination of the Sun Belt Champion. The conference itself is in a state of turmoil at the moment; let me review the bidding:
Two members (Idaho and New Mexico State) are “football-only members” and they are being kicked out of the conference at the end of the 2017 season.
Coastal Carolina – graduating from Division 1-AA to Division 1-A – will join the conference in 2018.
If you Google “Sun Belt Conference”, you find that there are no powerhouse programs there. In fact, what you will find are a lot of teams that serve as Homecoming Opponents for powerhouse programs.
I pay attention to college football but I have to admit that I had no idea who the Sun Belt Champion was last year – or the year before that. So I went and looked. My guess is that you too were not aware that:
Arkansas State has won or shared the conference title 4 times in the last 5 years.
Georgia State was the conference champion in the year that Arkansas State was not.
Finally, let me close with one more comment from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Federal agents set up a fake university — the University of Northern New Jersey — to break up a ring that sold more than 1,000 bogus non-immigrant student visas.
“The ruse was so convincing, insiders say, that eight SEC teams already had them on next season’s nonconference football schedule.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………