The NFL Shoots Itself In The Foot …

The NFL is big on keeping its brand – The Shield – in the collective face of the US sporting public.  About the only thing that motivates the NFL more is to keep its brand in front of the public in a benign/glowing/favorable light.  I find all the previous commentary to be self-evident.  [Apologies to Thomas Jefferson for using that construction so close to July 4th …]

It is because of the league’s dedication to continuous positive imagery presented to the public that I find this next item incongruous at best and downright dumb most of the time:

  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is an offensive guard for the KC Chiefs.  He just completed med school (McGill University in Canada) while he was an active player.  He took classes during the off-season when he had time on his own.
  • He wanted the name on the back of his jersey to read “Duvernay-Tardif M.D.”   After all, that is what he is; he is a medical doctor.
  • The NFL said, “No!”

I understand that the NFL image mavens want to maintain control over what can and cannot be displayed on player nameplates during games.  After all, the NFL could not possibly continue to exist if some player took advantage of a lax ruling here and wore a jersey nameplate that read “He Hate Me” or “Who Gives A S[p]it?”  It seems to me that there is a 40-acre field here between “Duvernay-Tardif M.D.” and “He Hate Me”; the NFL must see this as an incredibly steeply inclined slope that is covered with black ice.

I believe that Duvernay-Tardif is the first active player to complete his med school requirements and classes while still maintaining himself as an NFL roster denizen.  Frankly, I find the successful blending of those two endeavors to be inspiring and I find it some thing that should be seen as laudatory at several levels.  Clearly, there are those who work at 345 Park Avenue in NYC who do not see these accomplishments in nearly the same light.  I think that the NFL could benefit greatly by having announcers point out that Duvernay-Tardif – after a great play that was captured on replay for all to see – was more than just a “dumb jock”; Duvernay-Tardif was a med school graduate.  I don’t see how that sort of publicity could hurt The Shield but I am not in the PR world…

In Waco, TX, there has been an ongoing “football-related story” that has been far less than laudatory for the team and for Baylor University which had been the locus of that team.  After some gut-wrenching stories and times, Baylor fired its football coach and its AD and is trying to reboot itself with an image that is something less loathsome than Dr. Josef Mengele.  There was a report produced by an independent law firm hired by the university to “clear the air”.  It seemed as if that report would allow the university to “turn the corner” with a new sports administration and a new football coaching staff in place.

Perhaps that sentiment was premature …  Here is a column written by Kevin Sherrington in the Dallas Morning News.  Here is the third paragraph of that column:

“Because of Baylor’s decision to gloss over the actual facts – whether out of misguided intentions to shield the innocent or in an attempt to cover up guilty parties – the university needs to start all over and get it right this time.”

Obviously, I would recommend that you follow this link to see the entirety of Kevin Sherrington’s argumentation in support of that directive.  I will only say that if he is only partially on the right track, this situation is still a gigantic hot mess.

Eight national teams remain in the World Cup.  Let me declare a bias here before I comment:

  • On my recent trip to the Balkans – much of the reason I was off the air for about a month – our trip leader was Croatian.  Since the US (my country) did not make the tournament nor did Italy (my heritage), I promised our trip leader that I would root for Croatia in this tournament.  Full disclosure there…

The best team I have seen so far in the games I have been able to watch for more than the highlight reels is Brazil closely followed by Belgium.  Those teams will meet tomorrow and the winner will play the winner of the France/Uruguay match.  That end of the quarterfinals bracket houses much the better teams.  In the other bracket, Croatia looks to be better than Russia, and England has seemingly exorcised the ghosts that have haunted that team for the last 30 years or so making a Croatia/England contest for a berth in the Final Game a possibility.

True to my word, I am pulling for Croatia.  Having said that, my guess for the Final Game contestants would be:

  • Belgium versus England

Even if you profess not to like soccer, let me urge you to tune into these games with even a semi-open mind.  If you do, you will see some amazing athletic action.

Finally, Japan advanced to the “knock-out round” – – only to be knocked out” – – based on fewer yellow cards than Senegal.  Here is how Scott Ostler summed up all of that in the SF Chronicle:

“Was anyone pleased with Senegal being knocked out of the World Cup on the fair-play tiebreaker, based on more yellow cards? I know Draymond Green voted against that rule.

“Soccer fans wonder, if Senegal and Japan had had an equal number of yellow cards, what would the next tie-breaker have been? Answer: The team with the best haircuts advances.”

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