The American system of jurisprudence is safe; I was not needed as a participant this morning; the people of Northern Virginia can go about their daily lives with peace of mind. Not necessarily so with the sports world…
John Daly asked for – and received – a waiver from the PGA honchos regarding his participation in the upcoming PGA Championship. As a former winner of this tournament, he is eligible to play in it until he retires; however, Daly has been suffering osteoarthritis in one of his knees and he asked the PGA mavens if he could use a motorized golf cart. The PGA folks said it was OK.
As soon as I read about this, my mind went back to Casey Martin who had some sort of congenital problem with blood circulation in his legs that made it impossible for him to walk an entire golf course – even though his golf game was good enough to qualify him for the PGA Tour. Martin sued the PGA under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) about 20 years ago and took the matter all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States where the Justices decided that the ADA superseded the “Rules of Golf” and that Martin had to be allowed a waiver under those sacred “Rules of Golf”.
The NY Post had a report earlier this week that there have been significant budget cuts – to the tune of $20M – at the NFL Network and that several of the network’s regular programs have been jettisoned. Frankly, none of the five mentioned in the NY Post report are anywhere near “top-shelf” from my point of view, but their removal from the airwaves makes me wonder how the NFL Network plans to fill all that airtime. After all, there are just so many times you can show replays of past Super Bowls and compilations of the 10 Greatest Off-Tackle Running Plays of All Time.
A spokesperson for NFL Network told the Post that the network would be airing new programs tied to the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season in existence. That sounds like new programming to me and “new programming” does not easily mesh with the idea of a $20M budget cut. Whatever… The NFL Network is hardly the bedrock of my TV viewing experience.
Speaking tangentially about the NFL, the splashy part of free agency is over despite the fact that there are still some recognizable names who are not signed with any teams. Forgetting all the signings that made headlines back in March, let me list here a few transactions that escaped a lot of scrutiny/analysis, but which could be important:
- The Niners signed CB, Jason Verrett (TCU and LA Chargers) to 1-year deal for $3.5M. Verrett can play as shown by the fact that he made the Pro Bowl once; his problem has been injuries just about every year. If he can stay healthy, I think the Niners got a steal.
- The Pats acquired Michael Bennett from the Eagles for an exchange of low-round draft picks. Bennett can still play and what the Pats gave up is about equivalent to a tuna salad sandwich.
- Running backs in the NFL tend to have a “Sell By” date around 30 years old. The main RB for the Bills last year was LeSean McCoy who is 31 years old. In free agency, the Bills signed Frank Gore – – who is 35 years old. Say what?
- Of course, there has to be an interesting move by the Raiders in any compilation of this sort. Since the end of last year, the Raiders traded for Antonio Brown – giving up their version of a tuna salad sandwich – and then signed Vontaze Burfict as a free agent. I doubt that I would get much push-back if I called each of these guys “attention-grabbers”. If they can get with whatever the Raiders’ plan is and then stay with it, the Raiders acquired two capable players – – and in Brown’s case a VERY capable player. If, on the other hand, these two guys go off the rails, they might easily take the entire team down with them. As usual, it will be interesting to watch what happens with the Raiders.
The Federal trials of the folks accused of bribery and funneling college basketball recruits to various schools seemingly ended yesterday with another guilty verdict. Now comes the interesting part; what is the NCAA going to do now that it knows for sure that there is a seamy underbelly to basketball recruiting. Until these public trials, the NCAA could always say it was investigating this and tracking that without ever having to do anything concrete to try to provide remedies to the cheating. Now they do not have that patina to hide behind and at the same time, the NCAA does not have a ton of evidence on its own to use as a hammer against the schools and coaches who have been “skirting the limits of the recruiting rules”.
In a perfect world, the Feds would give the NCAA the evidence at hand and the NCAA could pretend that it knew much of it prior to receiving it from the Feds and then do some sleuthing of its own. But according to a story in today’s Washington Post, that is not likely to happen. NCAA major domo, Mark Emmert said this at a news conference about a month ago:
- “We’re going to continue to argue aggressively that they [the Feds] should provide that information so we can get to the facts, since there’s so much interest, not just on our part, but across the country in knowing what really transpired there.”
Good for him; that is a recognition of the fact that the NCAA investigators would have no prayer of coming up with comparable evidence on their own even if pointed in the direction where it might be found. The problem for Dr. Emmert and the NCAA comes from the story in the Washington Post:
“But according to legal experts, that possibility [getting access to the Feds’ evidence] is remote. As a rule, the Justice Department doesn’t release investigative material not made public through trials or court proceedings to private citizens or private agencies.
“’An investigation by the Justice Department is done for one purpose: to determine whether or not a crime is going to be charged … They’re not in the business of providing information to people … just because there might be some ethical violation or rule violated,’ said Nick Akerman, partner at Dorsey & Whitney law firm in New York and a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York who also served on the Watergate prosecution team.”
Here is where you can read the entirety of the Washington Post report on the subject; I found it interesting and informative.
Finally, speaking of NCAA violations, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times from a while ago:
“The NCAA has ordered Ole Miss to vacate 33 football wins over six seasons — including 15 that All-SEC tackle Laremy Tunsil played in 2013-14 — for using ineligible players.
“In other words, a Tunsilectomy.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………