RIP Buddy Ryan

Buddy Ryan died at the age of 82 yesterday. He was more than just a defensive coordinator extraordinaire; he was a defensive innovator. To say he was a “colorful character” would demean all the colors of the spectrum. He was a no-nonsense guy who – even more than Howard Cosell – told it like it was. I remember he said about one player who was not performing the way Ryan wanted that he would trade the guy for a six-pack and he would not demand that the six-pack was cold. In terms of his defensive philosophy, here it is in his words in a nutshell:

“No quarterback has ever completed a pass while laying flat on his back.”

Rest in peace, Buddy Ryan.

The news reports leading up to the Olympic Games in Rio continue to be “less than positive”. The Olympic mavens put golf back into the Olympics after a hiatus of 112 years. The top golfer in the world at the moment, Jason Day, announced that he will not participate in the Games this summer due to “concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus”. The top stars of the NBA are one-by-one finding reasons to opt out of playing for the US national team. I am sure that I have missed some of the players who have opted out but here is a list of the ones I was able to cobble together:

    Steph Curry
    Anthony Davis
    James Harden
    LeBron James
    Kawai Leonard
    Chris Paul
    John Wall
    Russell Westbrook

Here are some of the players who will represent the US in Rio:

    Carmelo Anthony
    Harrison Barnes (!!)
    Jimmy Butler
    DeMarcus Cousins
    DeMar DeRozan
    Kevin Durant
    Draymond Green
    Kyrie Irving
    Kyle Lowrey

I think the “opt-out squad” is the better team. Just saying…

There should be no stigma attached to any of these athletes choosing to sit out these Olympic Games. In the case of a PGA Tour pro or an NBA player, the Olympics are not the pinnacle of his sport; nor does he need a good showing in the Olympics to break through financially. Fundamentally, the Olympics needs the starpower those players bring a lot more than the players need the Olympics.

That is not the case for athletes in swimming, sailing, gymnastics, Greco-Roman wrestling and the like. Those athletes have trained for and pointed toward Olympic participation for years; if they opt not to participate in these Games for fear of the Zika virus, they may never have another chance at the pinnacle of their sports. The motivations and pressures on athletes vary from sport to sport with regard to these questions.

Meanwhile the Acting Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Francisco Dornelles, told a Brazilian newspaper that these Games could be a “big failure” due to budget constraints that undermine security efforts and the ability to move people and equipment around from place to place in the city during the games. Rio has yet to receive a promised payment from the national government of $860M for a variety of purposes; the games begin on 5 August and you don’t even need an abacus to realize that is 5 weeks and 2 days from today.

Rio was to build a Metro line to one of the areas where competitions would happen; that was to be a main mode of transit between those venues and places like the Olympic Village. The Metro is not yet finished and one of the problems is that the national government has not yet coughed up the $290M it promised for that project. That brings the total of national money not delivered to $1.15B. Imagine the situation where the Brazilian government finds $1.15B hidden in coffee cans somewhere in the Treasury and delivers it to Rio tonight. How effectively could that money be spent in the next 5 weeks and 2 days to do things like finish the Metro?

Just in case anyone missed the point on how serious things might get, Dornelles also said that without an infusion of cash from the national government, police patrols and security efforts may have to be curtailed at the end of June due to – wait for it – insufficient gas money. Living in the DC area, I am used to politicians crying wolf and prognosticating apocalyptic consequences if they do not get their way in some struggle. Lack of money to buy gasoline to maintain police patrols goes beyond anything I have ever heard around here…

You can read more about this situation here.

Now let me put a cherry on top of this lovely sundae… For the Rio Games, the only anti-doping lab facility in the city has been closed for economic reasons. The accommodation will be to take the samples from the athletes and fly them to other labs in other places for testing.

    Somehow, I am not convinced that this is a cost-cutting measure.

    Somehow, I am not convinced that all those logistical handoffs will necessarily assist the anti-doping authorities in keeping things on the up-and-up.

    Somehow, this pandemonium situation will have to be resolved or we may learn ex post facto that the winner of the 100-meter sprint event has been drinking cheetah urine for the last two months…

Finally, I need to end this on a lighter note. So, please consider this commentary from Brad Rock in the Deseret News recently:

“Stephen Curry’s wife Ayesha, who has a TV cooking show, tweeted last week that the NBA Finals are rigged.

“Speaking of rigged, how does she time it so her persimmons cookies come out perfectly, right after the commercial break?”

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

2 thoughts on “RIP Buddy Ryan”

  1. There should be no professional athletes in the Olympic games. It was created for amateurs and should have remained that way. What’s the fun of watching a bunch of NBA guys destroying Latvia!

    1. david:

      I am certain that Baron de Coubertin – the father of the modern Olympics – would agree with you there. I certainly agree that the Olympics were more fun to watch before they were dominated by pro athletes. I also believe that those days are in the past and are never going to be recovered.

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