The Combine – – And More…

The NFL Combine proceeds apace.  The league has turned the Combine into an annual reality TV show and it has generated a cult-like following of “Combine junkies” who track the players’ results in the various physical tests.  I suspect that it would not take me long to convince readers here that I am not one of the “Combine junkies”.  However, I have a generic observation about those ‘junkies”.

The physical tests at the Combine seek to measure fundamental athletic skills that – presumably – are vital to success as an NFL player.  If you buy that premise, then all of them have a degree of relevance.  However, the “junkies” seem to put tenfold importance on a single test – – the time in the 40-yard dash.  Speed is important in football; there is no argument there.  You can see the importance of speed every time a defensive back intercepts a pass and there is an offensive lineman trying to run him down.  That rarely happens…

Having said that, it seems that the “junkies” find significance in the fact that one player ran 4.35 in the 40-yard dash while another ran 4.41.  Personally, I find such a difference meaningless; this is not an Olympic sprint where the difference would be definitive.  There is some debate about how fast Jerry Rice ran the 40-yard dash when he was coming out of college.  Some say it was 4.71 seconds; Bill Walsh said it was 4.59.  “Junkies” today would call that slow and drop Jerry Rice’s draft stock to the lower rounds based on his lack of speed.  Question:

  • How many times do you recall Jerry Rice being caught from behind by all of those other players who timed out so much faster than he did?

I am sure it happened a few times.  I am certain that Jerry Rice also found a way to get open and behind those faster players enough to amass 22895 yards receiving and 197 TDs.

This year the timing of the Combine has coincided with the time when teams make their decisions on things like franchise tags and releasing veteran players.  Three of the veterans who are now free agents are interesting to me.

First, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings have parted company primarily because his contract with the Vikings would have called for him to make $18M next year.  Peterson is an excellent RB – even if his recent injury history and the pounding he has taken over his career leaves him at something like 80% of what he used to be.  However, $18M is way over what his contribution to a team in 2017 is likely to be given that he has been healthy enough to play in 20 games over the past 3 seasons.  There is a saying around the NFL:

  • The most important “ability” is avail-“ability”.

Perhaps Adrian Peterson will provide some symmetry for the universe with his free agency.  Consider:

  • Brett Favre played most of his Hall of Fame career for the Packers and ended up with the Vikes.
  • Perhaps Adrian Peterson, who has played most of his Hall of Fame career with the Vikes, will sign on with the Packers and finish his career there?  The Packers could use a running back…

The Niners released Colin Kaepernick.  Like Peterson, his contract called for him to make far too much money in 2017 than one could rationalize.  Unlike Peterson, Kaepernick does not have a Hall of Fame résumé in his back pocket.  The thing that makes Kaepernick’s free agency interesting is that he announced right away that he would no longer be kneeling during the National Anthem.  He said that he believed that his protest had achieved its goal(s) and he would stand for the anthem in the future.

Recall when Kaepernick began his protest that I said I supported his right to protest and had sympathy with the issue he was protesting – – police violence.  I also said that I would have preferred that he chose a different means to make that protest but that it was his issue and therefore his choice for the “protest vehicle”.  I maintain that position.

HOW-EVAH [/Stephen A. Smith] my inner cynicism is awakened here.  The juxtaposed timing of Kaepernick’s free agency and his calling off his protest and his declaration of success for the protest seems awfully convenient.  I do not read minds but if I were a GM thinking about signing him to a contract this year, I would want to sit down with Kaepernick alone – – no agents or handlers in the room – – and talk about all of this in depth.

The Jets released Darrelle Revis who still had 3 years to go on a 5-year $70M contract.  Jets’ coach Todd Bowles emphasized that the Jets’ decision was an economic one and that makes plenty of sense to folks who watched Jets’ games last year.  Darrelle Revis was arguably the best CB in the NFL a few years ago; he was far from that last year; the remaining 3 years on his contract would have paid him as if he were still one of the best CBs in the NFL.

Over and above Revis’ deteriorated performance last year, recall that he was arrested and charged with a variety of things as a result of a fight outside a club in the Pittsburgh area recently.  That matter is not nearly resolved and while I believe Todd Bowles when he says that the arrest played no part in the decision to release Revis, it is an issue that any team seeking to sign him up should consider.

The Niners and the Jets are teams in need of significant makeovers.  The situation with the Niners is obvious; they won only 2 games last year; they fired just about everyone in the Front Office and on the coaching staff; they do not have a QB on their roster.  The Jets’ situation is a tad less obvious; remember the Jets missed the playoffs on the last game of the year in 2015; then things unraveled last year.

Here is a thumbnail sketch for the Jets:

  1. Releasing Revis saved the team $6M in cap space.
  2. They also released nick Mangold who has been the glue of their OL for about 10 years.
  3. They released Ryan Fitzpatrick and none of the 3 QBs left on the roster has shown the ability to be a solid NFL QB.
  4. says this morning that the Jets will release WR, Brandon Marshall today.

It appears to me that the Jets are committed to a “youth movement” starting in 2017.  If they have some other strategy in mind, it is surely not self-evident.  This team has lots of holes to plug in this off-season and at some point, they are going to have to find a QB.  Ryan Fitzpatrick was dismal last year; that is why they released him.  However, their current “QB-status” is probably best described as “QB-purgatory”.  Good luck to Jets’ GM, Mike Maccagnan, and coach, Todd Bowles, on the rebuild. I hope they are given more than a single season to accomplish it.

Finally, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times found this comment from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle.  Somehow, I missed that column by Scott Ostler so thanks to Dwight Perry for alerting me:

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, after new 49ers GM John Lynch said he’ll be in the market for fast, physical players with character: “There was concern that Lynch would say, “We’ll be looking for slow, weak guys with no respect for the law.”

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



The NCAA Does It Again…

I have written more than three thousand of these Daily Rants; and until today, I have never included a quotation from Bill O’Reilly.

“I consider myself a law-abiding person.  But I’m exhausted.  I don’t know where to put the bottles, newspapers, cans and other stuff for garbage pickup outside my house.  The rules are so thick you need someone from M.I.T. to explain them.”

I think that I have mastered the rules of trash and recycling here in my community without having to resort to hiring an M.I.T. consultant but there are indeed situations where rules are so complex – and sometime so petty and meaningless – that one would need to be wary of breaking one or some of the rules at any moment.  The NCAA rulebook leaps to mind here.

According to a report at

“The NCAA has suspended five University of Richmond baseball players because they took part in Fantasy football.”

Seriously, if Groucho Marx were with us, a duck would fly down and give the NCAA $50.  This is stupid even by NCAA standards and that is saying a lot.  Moreover, it is stupid even though I AGREE COMPLETELY with the NCAA’s premise here that Fantasy football is gambling.  I also agree that it would be an assault on “the integrity of the games” if players were to wager on games in which they participate.  However, these baseball players were doing something that is legal and had nothing to do with collegiate baseball – – let alone University of Richmond collegiate baseball.

I know; it’s in the rule book and they broke the rules.  Nevertheless, if the NCAA is indeed an organization run by intelligent and rational adults – and many of their actions cast doubt on that premise – there should be a way for one of those intelligent and rational adults to call a time-out so that everyone can take a deep breath and recognize this simple fact:


The University of Richmond baseball team – and the program itself – gained no on-field advantage from the fact that five team members took part in Fantasy football.


The important issue here is contained in the phrase “gained no on-field advantage” because that is the only reason that there is an NCAA rule book in the first place.

Honestly, I have come to believe that the operating mode at the NCAA comes down to three simple steps:

  1. Ready
  2. Fire
  3. Aim.

The only way to conclude my comments on the latest NCAA priggishness is to recall an old headline on an article in The Onion[Aside:  If by some chance someone at NCAA HQS in Indy reads this piece, it is not a good thing to have your actions fit into a headline from The Onion.]

“NCAA investigating God for giving gifts to athletes”

Let me switch gears here and talk about the latest incident in the ongoing soap opera concerning where the Oakland Raiders will play football in the future.  There is a group in Oakland – Fortress Investment Group – which is fronted by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott that seeks to build a new stadium in Oakland and keep the Raiders there.  This group has been securing capital for the project and working with the city fathers in Oakland much more quietly than have the folks in Las Vegas.  What just happened is that Fortress has now submitted – for the first time – a formal plan to the NFL for a stadium in Oakland where the Raiders could play.  This plan has the support of the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

On the Raiders’ side of the table, Mark Davis has filed his request with the NFL to move his franchise to Las Vegas and the owners are scheduled to vote on that request sometime later this month.  Pardon my cynicism here, but the addition of another player in the game here tells me that the NFL owners will find a way to kick the can down the road sometime later this month to create time to put the squeeze on the Las Vegas people and the Fortress people to sweeten whatever deal they are proposing at this particular moment.

The current plan calls for Fortress to construct a new stadium that will cost $1.3B on the site of the Oakland Coliseum where the Raiders currently play.  The NFL dismissed this idea previously, but the formal submission of a plan to the league indicates to some that Fortress has addressed the concerns that NFL had with the general outline it saw previously.  This story is not over; the fat lady has not sung; in fact, I suspect the fat lady is still in her dressing room putting on her make-up.

Finally, Mike Florio of had this comment that will make you realize why the Oakland Raiders need a new place to play their home games:

“For $20, you can tour the stadium where the Raiders play. For $50, you don’t have to go on the tour.”

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



Bad Boys …

This morning, I am reminded of the lyrics to a Bob Marley song:

“Tell me; whatcha gonna do? When they come for you?

“Bad boys; bad boys …”

Indy Colts’ defensive tackle, David Parry, was arrested in Arizona.  So, what’s the big deal here?  Athletes get arrested all the time…  The circumstances here are unusual even when viewed through the prism of strange behaviors exhibited by athletes who run afoul of the law.  Here are the allegations:

  1. Parry and two other folks were picked up by a man driving a “street-legal golf-cart” as a taxi.  [Before anyone asks, I do not know if this is some sort of “Arizona version of Uber”; all I know is that is how this story begins.]
  2. At the end of ride, Parry allegedly assaulted the driver by striking him in the head and stole the golf cart.
  3. Police found the cart crashed into an obstacle and found Parry on the sidewalk reportedly in a state of inebriation.
  4. Police charged him with robbery, auto theft, DUI and criminal damage.

I did not read anything about the other two passengers who began this ride with Parry and the golf-cart driver so I have no idea what role either or both may have played in this crazy opera.  You must admit that this one is a wee bit different from your standard athletes acting badly story.

In another aspect of athletes and anti-social behaviors, the NFL is grandstanding at the moment.  There have been myriad examples of NFL players getting on the wrong side of the law with regard to assaults and fights and domestic violence.  The NFL has been less than tough on most of those players and is surely not in any good standing with folks who empathize with the victims of those anti- social actions.  So, now in March 2017, the NFL is playing to the crowd and trying to portray itself as the guy in the white hat.  Here is how:

  • They are not going to allow Chad Kelly or Joe Mixon to participate in the NFL Combine that began yesterday.
  • Kelly was involved in a bar fight about a year ago and was arrested.  He was convicted of “non-criminal disorderly conduct” – whatever that is in New York State.
  • Mixon punched a woman in the face and it was caught on tape about 2 years ago.  In a plea deal, Mixon was found guilty of misdemeanor assault.

Neither Kelly nor Mixon behaved in an acceptable manner by any rational standard.  Nonetheless, what the NFL is doing here is so hypocritical that it makes me wonder if the league is going to DEFCON2 on the Hypocrisy Scale these days.  Here’s the deal:

  • Kelly and Mixon cannot Participate in the NFL Combine.
  • Kelly and Mixon can hold their own “pro-days” where scouts and GMs can see them work out and perhaps interview them.
  • Kelly and Mixon can be invited by any “interested teams” to fly to the teams’ facilities for a day or so of working out and interviewing.
  • Kelly and Mixon can be drafted and can play in the NFL.

So, what is the grand and symbolic value of the moralistic stand that the NFL is undertaking as of today?  It is meaningless; and it is yet another example of the arrogance of the NFL and its players.

It is a big deal these days to talk about “privilege” as it is conferred to various classes and categories of people.  The NFL and the NFLPA represent and enjoy what should be called “athlete’s privilege”.  The individual athletes do not pay the same price for their anti-social behaviors that normal folks would pay while the NFL and the NFLPA consistently express shock and horror at what athletes do – while finding exactly no ways to make sanctions against perpetrators sufficiently onerous that the behaviors happen less frequently.

I am sure that there are some PR trolls in the NFL and/or the NFLPA who will proclaim the banishment of Kelly and Mixon from the NFL Combine as some sort of strong stand by the organizations against domestic violence and/or bar fights.  When you hear those sorts of statements, the first word that should come to mind is:




Having spent time dealing with a stolen golf-cart and some sort of faux-righteousness regarding player behaviors, let me now engage in some conspiracy theory.  You all know that I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories but I think this one could be made into a special by NFL Films were it true – – and it is not.  Anyhow, let me set the stage:

  1. Tom Brady’s game worn jersey from Super Bowl 51 is still missing.  The Houston police, the Texas Rangers, the super-sleuths from NFL Security and – for all I know – the security folks for the Trilateral Commission have not found it nor have they identified a suspect.
  2. I read a report that said the value of that jersey is $500K to a collector.  Let me assume that number is somewhere close to accurate even though I have no expertise in that area and would not ever think of paying that kind of money for a garment that has to reek with body odor by now.
  3. So, the person or persons who pilfered the game-worn jersey would be charged with First Degree Felony Theft in Texas and if convicted, that person could face sentence of 5 to 99 years in jail.  [First Degree Felony Theft involves stealing something worth $200K or more.]

Now comes the conspiratorial stuff…  Just suppose that the jersey is – and has been all along – in the possession of Thomas Edward Patrick (“Tom”) Brady Jr.  Obviously, he cannot be charged with theft because you cannot steal something that belongs to you.  But Tom Brady wants to create the situation where everyone believes that the jersey is stolen so that – – wait for it:

  • He and Robert Kraft can arrange to plant the jersey in Roger Goodell’s basement while the Commish is off attending an NFL game at a stadium somewhere other than Foxboro next year.
  • The sub-text here is: “I’ll see you a 4-game suspension and raise you First Degree Felony Theft…

Do not misquote me here; I am not saying this is what happened to the jersey or how it will be discovered.  I am saying that it would make for a GREAT story…

Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha-World-Herald that I can completely agree with:

“A high school basketball player in New York was benched after missing the team bus because he helped save an ice fisherman. It’s stories like these that make me glad that high school coaches don’t run the world.”

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