Rest In Peace, Willie Wood

Willie Wood died yesterday.  Wood was a Hall of Fame defensive back for the “Vince Lombardi” Packers in the ‘60s.  In Super Bowl I his interception of a Len Dawson pass changed the momentum of the game and set the Packers up for a 35-10 win.  Willie Wood was an undrafted free agent who played QB in college – demonstrating once again that the NFL Draft is not nearly a science.

Rest in peace, Willie Wood…

Allow me a few more comments about Sunday’s Super Bowl game and telecast.  First, I thought that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman gave us an excellent account of the game.  They have no control over the whoop-di-do that accompanies a Super Bowl game presentation, but I thought they did a good job ignoring it/minimizing it and making a sensible call for the game.  I know there are folks who just don’t like Joe Buck and/or Troy Aikman for whatever reason(s), but I thought they did a really fine job on Sunday.  I was particularly pleased to see that Aikman offered criticism as well as praise during the game.  Often in a Super Bowl game, there is an over-abundance of praise emanating from the TV speakers.

I mentioned yesterday that my long-suffering wife and I watched the game in Philadelphia with a standard cadre of friends.  As you might expect, we do one of those Super Bowl pools where one answers questions such as:

  • Coin toss, heads of tails?
  • National anthem, over or under 2 minutes?
  • Will both QBs complete their first pass attempt, yes or no?
  • Will the first ad be for a vehicle, beverage or something else?
  • Will Patrick Mahomes throw for 350 yards, over or under?
  • You get the drift…

Sunday, I finished dead last in that pool.  My long-suffering wife had a better pool entry than I did.  I experienced the feeling of one amid a “walk of shame” …

Two members of the winning Chiefs’ team had reason to be doubly happy for the Super Bowl ring they will ultimately receive:

  1. Austin Reiter:  He was drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Skins who had no use for him other than a slot on the practice squad.  In 2016, he signed on with the Browns as part of their active roster and was with the Browns for the 2016 and 2017 seasons which saw the Browns amass a record of 1-31-0.  The Browns cut him just before the start of the 2018 season and he signed on with the Chiefs the day after he was cut.  Austin Reiter escaped two of the most dysfunctional franchises in US sports and now has a Super Bowl ring.
  2. Terrell Suggs:  He has been in the NFL since he was drafted by the Ravens in 2003.  He was a defensive mainstay for the Ravens and left that team to sign a one-year contract with the Cardinals just prior to the 2019 season.  In mid-December, the Cardinals simply released Suggs and there were reports that he did not “fit in” with what the Cardinals were trying to accomplish.  A few days later, he signed on with the Chiefs.  Terrell Suggs may not have “fit in” with whatever it is that the Cardinals were doing, but he fit in sufficiently with the Chiefs to be part of the defense that helped win him a second Super Bowl ring.

The WNBA and the WNBPA have reached a labor agreement that should assure labor peace through the 2027 season.  Some have called this agreement a turning point for the WNBA as a sporting entity and others have called this agreement a gamble.  WNBA Commissioner, Cathy Englebert seems to have embraced both descriptions calling the new CBA a “big bet on women” by the league.  Here are a few of the key element of the new deal:

  • Total salary for the players will rise more than 50% over previous levels.
  • “Landmark benefits for motherhood and family planning” are included.  [Aside: I have searched for specifics here but have not found them.]
  • Better travel conditions.  [Aside: Presumably this will avoid a team pulling a no-show for a scheduled game due to travel snafus as happened with a WNBA game in the past.]

One of the concessions made by the players is an assurance that the players will show up for WNBA training camps from the opening of those camps.  That could mean that some top players will need to amend their lucrative overseas contracts to report to training camp “on time”.  I find that an interesting concession because players’ unions normally do not agree to conditions that might be deleterious to the interests of its top-shelf members.  Whatever…

To me, the statement by Ms. Englebert that this CBA is a “big bet on women” by the WNBA reflects the fact that WNBA teams lose money under the current economic constraints and the new CBA calls for team expenditures to rise significantly.  When a business is losing money, one might expect it to try to find ways to reduce costs as it simultaneously seeks to expand revenues.  That is not what this new CBA does.

In the major men’s sports in the US, the Commissioner’s main job is to grow revenues for the league as a whole while maintaining labor peace.  Commissioner Englebert seems to have accomplished the second part of that job meaning she needs to get to work on expanding league revenues.  Getting more fans to games is one obvious way to increase revenue – but that is a small piece of the action needed here.  The big drivers for increased revenue for the WNBA will come from better TV contracts and from corporate sponsorships.

Finally, since I mentioned my shame above, let me provide you with the definition of shame form The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Shame:  The realization that nobody else thinks the thing you were caught doing was as wholesome as you thought it was.”

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