Dom Imus died last weekend. His was a complicated existence. He was a shock-jock; he was a humanitarian; some say he was a racist and a misogynist; some say his charity work proves he was no such thing. Here is something that should not be in question. For more than a decade in the nineties and the aughts, Imus in the Morning was the most influential program on the radio. Don Imus was a great interviewer and he got great guests from then-candidate Bill Clinton to David Brinkley to Snoop Dogg to about a dozen US Senators.
Rest in peace, Don Imus…
Dan Daly – formerly with the Washington Times – had this Tweet over the weekend regarding the Skins and their search for a new head coach:
“Dan Snyder’s pitch to prospective coaches has always been the same: ‘Come to the #Redskins. Make a lot of money. Wish you were never born.’”
That sums up the life cycle of Skins’ coaches since Danny Boy Snyder bought the team 20 years ago. The atmospherics of the job are so bad that one of the coaches left a lot of money on the table and called in his resignation from the golf course – – or so the story goes.
Kevin Blackistone argued in the Washington Post last week that Curt Flood should be in the baseball Hall of Fame. Just as I have believed for about 30 years that Marvin Miller belonged in the Hall of Fame – and will be inducted posthumously – Curt Flood also belongs there as a contributor to the game. He belongs in the same category as team owners and former Commissioners and the like; he does not belong there as a player. However, he deserves a place in juxtaposition with Marvin Miller; those two men changed MLB significantly – and for the better.
With 2019 seeing its days dwindling down to a precious few [Hat Tip to Frank Sinatra] I tried to come up with the sports figure who did the most honorable thing in 2019 and the sports figure who did the most dishonorable thing in 2019. I got it down to two people in each category and could not “break the tie” in either case. So, let me hand out some “dual awards” here.
For the two men on the most honorable list, let me give them a White Hat Award recalling the old western movies where the good guys always wore a white hat:
- Tony Bennett: No, not the crooner. I mean Tony Bennett the head basketball coach at UVa. After the Cavaliers won the NCAA basketball tournament last April, UVa offered Bennett a “significant raise” which would seem to be appropriate to the circumstances. Bennett turned down that raise and said he preferred that the money that would have been added to his exchequer instead go to giving raises to his assistant coaches and to university projects seeking to upgrade facilities for the student body at large. I think he should be fitted for a White Hat.
- LeBron James: This award has nothing to do with any on-court achievements. LeBron James founded the I Promise Charter School in Akron, OH. Kids enrolled in the school receive free tuition, free meals, free transportation to and from school and free school uniforms. In addition, James has guaranteed every graduate of the school free tuition at the University of Akron. The school opened in 2018 and James expanded the number of students enrolled in 2019. I think he should be fitted for a White Hat.
For the two men on the least honorable list, let me give them a Black Hat Award as a parallel because in the old-time western movies, the bad guys always wore a black hat. [Aside: I sometimes wear a black cowboy hat; the reason for that is simple. If I were to wear a white hat, it would be false advertising…]
- Antonio Brown: Forget about all the diva behavior; lots of very talented WRs have exhibited similar behaviors but stopped short of two things that Brown was involved in during 2019. First of all, he was charged with sexual assault of a woman who was a trainer he worked with; and second, he got himself released by the Oakland Raiders after threatening to punch out GM, Mike Mayock. Arriving to training camp in a hot air balloon or showboating on the field after a TD is harmless silliness; charges of sexual assault and threatening to punch out a team official are in a different dimension. I think he should be fitted for a Black Hat.
- Myles Garrett: Many people who cover the NFL have reported that he is a mild-mannered and intelligent person who is thoughtful and self-aware. I have no reason to dispute those reports. However, he is also someone who – amid a scuffle on the field – ripped the helmet off Mason Rudolph and used it as a bludgeon to hit Rudolph on the head. That single act goes way over the line of civility. I think he should be fitted for a Black Hat.
Finally, here is an interesting observation from Bob Molinaro if the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Idle thought: The increasing popularity of the college transfer portal — three of this year’s four Heisman Trophy finalists were transfers — takes a little of the air out of National Signing Day.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………