I want to clean up some odds and ends on my clipboard today. I’ll start with the announcements earlier this week that ESPN has added two more former football players to its commentary ranks.
- Mark Sanchez will call his NFL career quits and move on to the next phase of his life as a studio analyst for college football. He will replace Mack Brown at ESPN since Brown left to take on the head coaching job at UNC. This is a “reunion” of sorts for Sanchez. He joins ESPN which also employs Rex Ryan as an NFL studio analyst and Ryan was Sanchez’ first coach in the NFL with the Jets.
- Rob Ninkovich has been out of the NFL since 2017 and he will join ESPN as an NFL studio analyst. The announcement of his hiring indicated that he would be working on TV and on ESPN Radio.
There was not a lot of ballyhoo when NBC Sports Network hired a color analyst for its presentation of the Tour de France. There are probably two reasons for that:
- The Tour de France probably draws ratings similar to infomercials for some sort of kitchen gadget that run at 3:00 AM.
- The analyst they hired to do commentary for a bike race was Lance Armstrong.
The analogy that leaps to mind here is that Lance Armstrong doing color commentary for the Tour de France is about as apropos as the Food Network naming Hannibal Lecter as its next Iron Chef.
Prior to the Manny Pacquiao/Keith Thurman fight last week, Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot regarding the challenge facing Pacquiao (age 40) and Roger Federer (age 38) as they continue to compete against younger men in their sports:
“Ringwise: At 40, Manny Pacquiao will fight 30-year-old unbeaten American Keith Thurman on Saturday for the welterweight title. Federer is going strong at almost 38, but that doesn’t compare with what Pacquiao signed up for. Philosopher and former heavyweight Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb once said it best: ‘If you screw things up in tennis, it’s 15-0. If you screw up in boxing, it’s your ass.’”
Lorenzen Wright was a former first round pick out of Memphis by the LA Clippers in 1996. He had a journeyman career that lasted 13 seasons. He was found shot to death in 2010. According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “[his] body was found riddled with gunshot wounds in a swampy field…” I guess the police quickly ruled out the possibility of suicide.
Earlier this week, his former wife pleaded guilty to “facilitation of first-degree murder” in the matter. That same report in the Review-Journal says that his wife masterminded a plot to kill Lorenzen Wright at his home in Atlanta but that attempt failed. Then, his wife and another man conspired to kill Wright in Memphis which is where Wright’s body was found after he had been missing for 10 days.
Here is a link to the report in the Review-Journal. When I read it, my reaction was along the lines of – – you have got to be bleeping kidding me…
Moving on to a topic related to today’s NBA, the current CBA there allows for something called a supermax contract to be awarded to players who meet certain criteria. The idea is a good one; the results have been not-so-good. The idea was to reward veteran players who are of star-caliber to sign contracts worth up to 35% of the team salary cap. To qualify for such a supermax, here is what the player needs to do:
- The player must be on the team that owns their rookie rights.
- The player must have completed 8 years in the NBA
- The player must have achieved at least one of these honors along the way – won the MVP Award in any of the previous 3 seasons – or – won Defensive Player of the Year in the year before the supermax is negotiated or won it in the two previous seasons to the negotiation – or – made one of the All-NBA Teams in the year prior to the supermax negotiations.
Those are stringent requirements; as you might expect, there are not a lot of supermax contracts out there. The problem here is that there are five supermax contracts out there and two of them are – candidly – “albatross contracts”.
- John Wall is signed for 4 years and $171M by the Wizards. He is injured and will miss all next year; his value to a team is totally dependent on his speed and the injury is to his foot and Achilles tendon. Assuming he returns to play in the Fall of 2020, he will be 30 years old at the time.
- Russell Westbrook is signed for 5 years and $206.8M. His value to a team depends on his athleticism; he is 30 years old now. He was recently traded from the Thunder to the Rockets demonstrating to my mind that the Thunder recognized that he might not be worth the sort of financial commitment they made to him.
My problem with the concept behind the supermax goes beyond the devastation it can wreak on a team when something like an injury corrals 35% of their salary cap space. My problem is that the third criterion above depends on the vote of media personnel to qualify a player for a supermax deal. Why is that a good idea?
Finally, here is an observation related to the NBA by Brad Rock of the Deseret News:
“NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at a press conference that he values a competitive balance among teams, whereby ‘strong management is rewarded.’
“Knicks: ‘What are YOU lookin’ at?’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………