NFL Draft Round One In The Books

So … would anyone here be surprised to learn that I spent last evening watching ESPN’s coverage of the first round of the NFL Draft?  I should certainly hope that is not the case.

I recognize the importance of making the programming “compelling” and “commanding”; ESPN does not want thousands of viewers tuning away after the first couple of picks.  Nonetheless, some of the deathless prose offered up by the ESPN Draft experts simply fell flat.

Let me point out ever so gently here that at least 20% – and maybe 40% – of the first-round picks will never live up to that billing for the entirety of their professional football career.  I say that with confidence because that is what has happened in many of the previous years of the NFL Draft.  And in fact, there was a free agent signing about 10 days ago that points out the fact that drafting football players is not a science.  It is two parts art and one part luck.

  • In the 2014 NFL Draft, Jadeveon Clowney was the overall #1 pick.  Everyone raved about him and how he was a dominant defensive end/edge rusher; his highlights from college days at South Carolina were nothing short of amazing; none of the draft experts thought that was a “reach”.
  • Clowney spent 5 seasons with the Texans followed by one year with the Seahawks and another year with the Titans.  He signed about 10 days ago with the Browns on a one-year deal.
  • In his seven seasons in the NFL, Jadeveon Clowney has a total of 32 sacks.  That is not remotely close to what the “draftniks” projected for him on Draft Night in 2014.

Here is the essence of the problem of projecting a player from college into the NFL.  If you think the word “projecting” is too high-fallutin’ let me say it is not much more than a guess on the part of the “scout”.  The issue here is that college football is a totally different game than NFL football for one simple reason:

  • In college, a potential high draftee is playing against an opposing unit that may have one or two NFL caliber players on the field in most if not all games.
  • In the NFL, that same draftee will take the field against an opposing unit with 11 – and sometimes more – NFL caliber players.

Not only does it make a difference – – it makes a BIG difference…

Moving on …  If anyone actually believed that there was even a shred of ambiguity as to whom the Jaguars would take with the first overall pick, that person probably thinks the way to save time is to deposit an alarm clock in your bank account.  Notwithstanding the fact that the top draft pick had no mystery surrounding it, the folks who make their living turning the days leading up to the draft into a vaudeville show felt the need about a week or so ago to create doubt about Trevor Lawrence’s ”worthiness” of such an exalted status.  Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginia- Pilot summarized that nonsense in this comment:

“What a warped world — sports division — we live in when Trevor Lawrence finds himself defending comments that he doesn’t carry a huge chip — real or manufactured — on his shoulder. After dismissing one of the fundamental tropes of sports hagiography, the presumptive future Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback was run through the mill by football analysts needing more grist, no matter how nonsensical. Worse yet, Lawrence said that his self-worth is not entirely tied up with football. Oh my. He’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Or what some might call a well-adjusted person.”

Another “lead-up to the draft narrative” concerned the intentions of the Denver Broncos with their first-round pick.

  • Would they take a QB?
  • Would they trade up to get a QB?
  • Would they trade down if the QB they may have wanted was off the board?

Just before draft day, the Broncos seemed to settle that speculation by trading a 6th round pick this year to the Panthers for Teddy Bridgewater who has one more year left on his current contract.  The Panthers will also pay part of Bridgewater’s salary this year as part of the deal.  If you are wondering how or why the Panthers would give up such a large amount for a 6th round pick, the answer is that in the world of NFL salary cap financials, the Panthers gain about $8M in cap space to spend on some other part of their team.  Remember, the Panthers acquired Sam Darnold from the Jets for 3 draft picks about 3 weeks ago.  The fact that they let Bridgewater go means that the Panthers’ braintrust is convinced that Sam Darnold can be “the guy” in Carolina.

The fact of this trade says something else from the Broncos’ side of the transaction.  What it says to me – loudly and clearly – is that Drew Lock is going to have to up his game to the point where he beats out Bridgewater for the starting job in Denver.  Lock played well in 2019; he started 5 games then and the Broncos were 4-1 with him as the starter.  However, last year he started 13 games and the Broncos’ record was 4-9.  Here is the most telling stat to me:

  • In 2019, Lock completed 64.1% of his passes; and in 2020, he completed only 57.3% of his passes.

That is a significant decline, and the sample size is adequate – – 443 pass attempts in the 2020 season.

With the Draft over and with the owners’ meeting over where they would decide on any rule changes for 2021, the next big event for the NFL as it seeks 12-month news prominence will be in mid-May when it announces the full schedule for 2021.  Until then – and after that until minicamps and training camps begin – the league will have to settle for news about how the owners and players are disagreeing on this or that issue and how everyone on both sides is pissed off to the Nth degree.  Hi … Ho!

Finally, let me close today with one more observation by Bob Molinaro from a couple of weeks ago:

Future watch: If Mike Tomlin coaches through his new three-year extension, the Steelers will have had only three head coaches in 56 years. The Browns have had four since 2018.”

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



Kim Mulkey Leaves Baylor For LSU

Kim Mulkey is a force majeure in women’s college basketball.  She will be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in a couple of months; she has won national championships as a player and as an assistant coach and three times as a head coach; she was also part of an Olympic Gold Medal team as a player.  Her record as the head coach at Baylor over the last two decades is 632-104 with 3 National Championships and 17 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances – – not counting 2020 when there was no NCAA  Tournament.  Her Baylor teams have finished first – or tied for first – in the Big 12 Conference standings for the last 11 consecutive seasons.  Kim Mulkey is still looking up at Pat Summit’s achievements in women’s college basketball and at Geno Auriemma’s accomplishments there, but there is no way to deny that she is among the elite coaches in that sport.

It is precisely because one cannot deny her prominence that it is unusual to report that she is leaving Baylor to take the head coaching job at LSU.  One might create a story where this is a homecoming of sorts because Ms. Mulkey was born and raised in Tickfaw, LA.  [Aside:  Tickfaw is about 50 miles east of Baton Rouge and across the breadth of Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans.  I present that datum because I had no idea where Tickfaw was; according to Google Maps the nearest town would be Natalbany, LA, which for many of us is three miles from the end of the Earth.]  That “homecoming narrative” is enticing and comfortable; it may also be overly simplistic.

Let me make two things clear before I launch into a possible analysis of this situation:

  1. I do not read minds.  I have no idea what the internal motivations of Ms. Mulkey may have been in making this decision.
  2. I do not know Kim Mulkey from a toaster oven.  We have never met; everything I say here is speculation based on “analysis” from afar.

Kim Mulkey took the head coaching job at Baylor in 2000 and her Lady Bears won her first national championship there in 2005.  Around that time, Baylor’s athletic department and structure was not exemplary, and her teams were the major source of athletic pride on the campus.  In 2007, Baylor hired Art Briles as the head football coach and the Baylor football fortunes improved dramatically.  Briles took a football team that was a perennial also-ran in the Big 12 and won the conference title twice in his eight years at the helm.  Then came the outrageous scandal involving Briles and the Baylor football program in 2016.

When Baylor dealt with Art Briles as it did, Kim Mulkey took exception to those decisions and that began a situation where she and the folks running the university would not see eye-to-eye on several future issues.  But with the football program in disarray and with the men’s basketball team still rebuilding from the disastrous days of Dave Bliss, Kim Mulkey was a force majeure on campus in Waco, TX just as she is in women’s college basketball.  Her Lady Bears already had 2 national championships by that time and consistently made deep runs in the NCAA Tournament; she had major influence in the school even though her sport was a women’s sport in a conference where football – clearly a men’s sport – is king.

With all that as a backdrop, Kim Mulkey decided to leave Baylor and her established program there to take the job at LSU where – to be honest – the women’s basketball program has not been particularly successful or important in the past several years.

  • LSU’s last conference championship was in 2008.
  • Since 2014, LSU has not advanced beyond the first round in the NCAA Tournament and has not been in that tournament at all in four of those six seasons.

So, is the “homecoming narrative” reflective of reality or is it a wonderful feelgood story applied to a highly regarded coach in a less-than-clear situation?  I will buy the “homecoming narrative” to some degree but not as an exclusive explanation.  Kim Mulkey – in addition to her obvious capabilities as a basketball coach – is not a shrinking violet.  She is a person who has definite views on things and has no compunctions about letting the world in on those views.  For years, she was the loudest voice in the choir that was Baylor athletics; the university was set to build a new arena for basketball, and she opposed the administration’s plans because she said the arena was too far from the main campus.

Just this year, she “suggested” that the NCAA hold its women’s Final Four without any imposition of COVID-19 testing:

“They need to dump the COVID testing. Wouldn’t it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that test positive or something and they don’t get to play in the Final Four?  So you just need to forget the COVID tests and get the four teams playing in each Final Four and go battle it out.”

Of course, the NCAA ignored that “suggestion” recognizing that it should not be in a position to loosen health and safety protocols at the 11th hour with the potential for some athletes to contract COVID-19 in those final weekend games.  I mention this only to demonstrate that Kim Mulkey is not afraid to take controversial stances on issues.

However, I do think there are three other ripples in the pond here that may have had influence on her decision to move from Waco ,TX to Baton Rouge, LA:

  • Baylor football made a dramatic comeback under Matt Ruhle going 11-3 (with a loss in the Sugar Bowl) in 2019.  At Baylor, football will always be a bigger deal than women’s basketball.
  • Depending on the report you read, Mulkey will get a nice raise based on the move from $1.5 – 1.8M per year at Baylor to $2.7M per year at LSU.
  • Baylor men’s basketball just won the NCAA Tournament championship.  Yes, Mulkey’s Lady Bears won 3 NCAA titles – as recently as 2019 – but this year’s title for Scott Drew and the men portends a recession in the pecking order for Mulkey and the Lady Bears on campus.

Only Kim Mulkey will ever know the full story of why she has chosen to make this move; I certainly do not claim to have insight here.  However, the convenient “homecoming narrative” has a few potential tears in the fabric and they are sufficiently obvious to me that I look at the decision and simply say:

  • I hope all of this works out for Kim Mulkey and for LSU and for Baylor University.

Finally, apropos of nothing, here is an item from Dwight Parry  of the Seattle Times from a few weeks ago:

“A stray dog who stole a player’s cleat and ran onto the field, interrupting a soccer match in Bolivia, has been adopted by Tigre player Raúl Castro — the one who caught the dog and carried him off the field.

“In a related story, they’re still waiting for someone to step forward and claim the Super Bowl streaker.”

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



Pet Peeves

Yesterday, I mentioned that a pet peeve of mine involved NFL WRs and DBs throwing imaginary flags on half the pass plays as they were begging for a pass interference call.  As I was in the process of posting that rant, it set in motion some thinking about my pet peeves in sports in general.  So, today I want to list the ones that came to mind.

  • [If people can abide the concept of “Christmas in July”, then simply consider this as “Festivus in April”.]

I am tired of turning on an NBA game and watching it turn into a three-point shooting contest.  Just last night, the box score for the Nets/Raptors game showed a total of 88 three-point shot attempts.  For those of  you who are keeping score at home, that is a three-point shot every 32.7 seconds for 48 minutes.  I do not find that entertaining enough to hold my interest for a full regular season NBA game which is only marginally important to begin with because there are too many of them.  The only logical cure I can see for this – ignoring the option of getting rid of the three-point shot all together – is to cap the number of three-point shots for each team in each game.  Once the quota is met, any other shots made from “downtown” would be worth only 2 points.  Don’t hold your breath for that…

Sticking with basketball – at all levels – for a moment, intentional fouling at the end of just about every game is annoying on several levels.  Very obviously, it contributes in a major way to the fact that the final two minutes of a basketball game might take 20 minutes of real time to unfold.  However, there is another problem here.

  • A foul in basketball is a violation of the rules.
  • The team that is trailing in the game is intentionally violating the rules of the game to gain an advantage.
  • Somehow, that behavior has become acceptable…

I am tired of tuning in to ESPN and/or FS-1 only to find faux-debate programming.  At least 90% of the “disagreements” vocalized on screen are trivial at best because the “issues” at hand are insignificant.  And to make things worse, when there is not some current “issue” worthy of time on the air – – but that time on the air has to be filled with theatrical acrimony – – the shows turn to hackneyed topics that have been “debated to death” such as:

  • Michael Jordan or LeBron James as the GOAT?
  • Belichick or Brady as “the reason” for the Pats’ dominance?  [No consideration given to “both” as an answer.]
  • Greatest baseball player NOT in the Hall of Fame.

You get the idea here…

How many of the faux-debate shows do you think “argued” about whether Madison Bumgarner’s 7-inning no-hit game should count – – since the game was only scheduled for 7 innings and he allowed no hits?  Well, every one of the ones that I tuned in to the next day covered that critical issue.

Speaking of annoying TV programming, can someone explain to me why all the TV programs that are lead-ins to NFL games consist of a bunch of people sitting around a table yukking it up and generating phony laughter on the set?  Wow!  Someone just made a cute remark about Jimmy Johnson’s hair; no one ever did that before; let’s all guffaw for 10 seconds…

I am tired of seeing football coaches – NFL or collegiate –  racing down the sidelines to call for a timeout often leaving the player/coaching area on the sidelines to accomplish that without any consequence for leaving said area.  Here is my solution:

  • A timeout can only be called by a player on the field.
  • If a coach or player leaves the designated team area on the sidelines, it is an automatic illegal procedure penalty.

Speaking of timeouts, there are clearly too many timeouts per team in basketball games given that there are automatic “TV-timeouts” built into the event.  In addition to reducing the number of team timeouts, I would like to revert to the rule that timeout can only be called by the player in control of the basketball.  There is only one person who can possibly be in control of the basketball at any instant without the call on the floor being a “jump ball”.

While I am at it, bring back the jump ball.  The possession arrow was a nice experiment but there is no reason to posit from the outset that each team deserves 50% of the possessions there.  If that were the case, the visiting team would start every game with possession of the basketball and the game would unfold from there.

I did not like the designated hitter rule when it was adopted by the AL back in the 1970s; I still do not like the designated hitter rule; after more than 40 years of living with the designated hitter rule, I think I can safely say I am never going to like the designated hitter rule.

I am also on record as having had enough of “instant replay” and its expansion into areas of the game that make it more intrusive to the flow of the game while not fulfilling the “promise of instant replay” that lured everyone into the goat rodeo that it has become:

  • Instant replay will “get it right”.
  • Well, evidence is that it does NOT always “get it right” and anyone who calls what replay is now anything related to “instant” needs to consult a dictionary.

Finally, I mentioned Madison Bumgarner’s 7-inning no-hitter above.  For the record, MLB will not recognize it as a no-hit game which is OK with me.  The existence of MLB 7-inning games however gave rise to this comment from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Everybody up: Now that MLB seven-inning doubleheader games are here to stay, it’s time to get accustomed to the fifth-inning stretch.

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



The CFL Returns?

Yesterday was all about college football; today I will begin with news regarding other levels of football.  I learned from reading Gregg Drinnan’ s, Taking Note blog, which you can find here, the CFL plans to have a 2021 season albeit one that is postponed from its normal schedule.

Normally, a CFL season would begin in mid June and run through to a Grey Cup game at the end of November.  The coronavirus pandemic shut down the CFL entirely in 2020 putting the entire league in jeopardy economically; but with a recent announcement, it would seem that the CFL has made it through the worst of times.  For 2021, the CFL hopes to begin on August 5th – – or 8 weeks later than a normal season kickoff.  Training camps will be opening around the time when a normal regular season would be starting, and the idea is for players to report and then go immediately into a 7–10-day quarantine before team activities begin in earnest.

To compensate for the late start, the regular season will be compressed from 18 games to 14 games and the Grey Cup game will be held in mid-December this year.  There remains one potential fly in the ointment:

  • The CFL still needs approval from public health officials in a variety of local jurisdictions as well as getting approval from provincial and national government and health officials to put on games where there can be enough fans in the stands to make the league economically viable.

A CFL season for 2021 is not guaranteed – – but at least there is a plan for how one might come to pass.  Compared to the situation about a year ago, that would have to be categorized as good news…

Last week, I mentioned some NFL rule changes that would be in effect for 2021 – – and presumably beyond.  In addition to the rule changes I noted then, there will be a point of emphasis this year to try to limit “taunting” in NFL games.  I think that is a good idea and one that could easily have been  put forth 5 years ago if not more.  I have another “pet-peeve” about modern NFL games that I would like to see as a “point of emphasis” and I wonder what readers here think of the idea:

  • I have had it up to my eyebrows with WRs and DBs throwing imaginary pass interference flags on about 50% of pass attempts downfield.
  • I think each team – not player, but team – should get one of those pantomimes per game.  After that, the act of throwing an imaginary flag is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
  • Put that into effect and coaches will see to it that the “imaginary flag toss” will come out of the game in about 2 weeks.

Enough about football for now; it is April; there needs to be something going on in baseball that deserves attention.  About a week ago, MLB umpire, Joe West, won a defamation lawsuit against former major league player Paul LoDuca and West was awarded $500K by the judge.  Here is the salient point in this matter:

  • LoDuca said on a podcast that he was involved in a game catching relief pitcher Billy Wagner and that West’s calls of balls and strikes in that game was “influenced by bribes” from Wagner to West when Wagner allowed West to drive one or more of Wagner’s antique cars.  According to podcast, the game ended with a Wagner strikeout of a Phillies batter called out by West.

As I understand libel and slander and defamation, the truth of the statement is an airtight defense.  Lacking the ability to prove the veracity of the statement, another defense when the plaintiff is a “public figure” is that the alleged defamer uttered the statement that cannot be proven to be true with malice.  That is a high hurdle, and it is probably why many politicians, celebrities and other “public figures” choose not to sue for slander/libel/defamation.

In this case, the extensive nature of MLB stats was an asset for Joe West.  He denied being “bribed” by Billy Wagner (of course) and showed that he was not the home plate umpire in the game against the Phillies where LoDuca claimed all of this happened.  There was only one Mets game where West was the home plate umpire, LoDuca was the catcher.  In that game the Phillies were not the opponent and the game ended on a home run and not a strikeout by Wagner on a “fortuitous call” by West.

In this particular case, the evidence provided by baseball stats pretty much established that LoDuca’s statement was defamatory.  The judge also determined that there was malicious intent in those remarks – – although I am not in a position to describe how he arrived at that conclusion.  The judge did say that the statement made by LoDuca on the podcast – if it were true – would have accused West of accepting a bribe which is a crime.

West’s attorneys convinced the judge that West’s name needed to be cleared because with an allegation of bribery hanging over his head, he would likely not be considered for or elected to the Hall of Fame.  [Aside:  The fact that his lawyers asserted this says to me that the sin of hubris is not a crime that might keep one out of the Hall of Fame…]  The attorneys also convinced the judge that there were economic ramifications for West here also.  If he were to be in the Hall of Fame, he could charge far more for speaking and appearance fees in his retirement – – which coincidentally is planned for the end of the 2021 MLB season.

The bottom line is that LoDuca owes West ”$500K plus interest” – – I am not sure if the interest is from the time the fine was levied or from the date of filing of the lawsuit or from the date of the alleged bribery incident about 15 years ago.  If West’s attorneys are correct that West as a Hall of Famer could charge $20K for a speaking engagement, that means West just got paid for about 25 speaking engagements he did not have to attend.

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times from a couple of weeks ago:

“Jamison Hensley of ESPN.comafter Ravens coach John Harbaugh paid the entire $2,000-plus restaurant bill during a Baltimore charity event: ‘Harbaugh covered the spread.’”

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



All College Football In April?

My sports attention over the weekend was clearly focused on college football including the Division 1-AA playoffs where there is a family rooting interest in Delaware as one of the participants.  By the way, Delaware won its first-round game over Sacred Heart and will face Jacksonville State next weekend.  What caught my attention was an announcement by the college football mavens regarding rules changes and the college football playoff.  Three rule changes and a “point of emphasis” will be in effect in 2021; there is good bad and ugly in that mix.

  • Good:  When there is suspicion that players have been faking injuries to slow down “up-tempo offenses”, officials can use replay after the fact to make a determination.  This process may not mete out punishment proximal to the “faking”, but it is a way to try to cut down on bogus injuries – – and that practice seems to have spread widely in recent seasons.
  • Bad:  The team area on the sidelines has been expanded to run from 20-yardline to 20-yardline.  It has always been between the 25-yardlines until last year when – to promote social distancing on the bench, believe it or not – the team area extended between the 15-yardlines.  So now we settle for a compromise?  Look, the players and coaches make the officials’ jobs harder; if they want to make a change there, compress everyone into the space between the 40-yardlines to assist the officials.
  • Ugly:  The overtime rules will change.  Some will say that is a blessing – – until you hear what they are going to do.  Starting this Fall, teams must go for two-point conversions starting in the second overtime period; that mandate did not take effect until the third overtime period in the past.  And here is the horrible part – – after the second overtime period and if the score is still tied, the game will change into a two-point conversion shoot out.  College football will emulate soccer and change the game itself to break a tie.  Supposedly, a major motivation for this change was a 7-overtim game between Texas A&M and LSU; I do not care if it were a 10-OT game; at least they played real football to determine the winner.

The “point of emphasis” is a good one but it should not be necessary if officials would have asserted themselves properly in the past.  For this year – and presumably going forward – game officials will “crack down” on taunting penalties and on coaches who enter the field or leave the team sideline area to argue with calls made on the field.  Both of those things are good things, and they should have been common practice at all times in the past.  The fact that they need a “point of emphasis” for 2021 is not praiseworthy for college football officials.

My other major issue from the weekend related to college football was sort of disappointing.  With the NFL Draft on tap for later this week, I gathered my notes from last year’s college football watching for my annual pre-Draft prospect commentary.  I had a sense that I had watched a lot less college football last year than normal given the schedule uncertainties and the smaller number of games on TV; but until I reviewed my notes, I did not realize that I had a serious deficiency on my hands.

I always watch a lot more of the major schools in Power 5 conferences than other schools but my notes this year make it seem as if I watched that football exclusively.  And there are fewer players noted – – and they are the “usual suspects”.  Everyone has read about the 5 QBs who could go in Round 1 this year; I never saw Trey Lance – – but I have notes on the other four.  I have plenty of players from Alabama and Clemson in my notes and there is other representation from the SEC and the ACC and the Big 10 – but there are only 14 players that have not been written up to death already.

So, I decided to dispense with the normal pre-Draft format and break this into small parts here:

  • QBs other than the “Big Five” slated to go in Round 1:  I thought Kellen Mond (Texas A&M) improved a lot from junior year to senior year and liked his “size and physique”.  I liked the passing accuracy of Kyle Trask (Florida) but thought he “might not have the arm-strength to make it in the NFL”.
  • RB other than Najeh Harris or Travis Etienne:  I think Michael Carter (UNC) will be a good pick for the middle rounds because he “can be part of a running or a passing game”.  He is short but he is big; he “looks like a pro” to me.
  • TE other than Kyle Pitts:  I noted that Pat Freiermuth (Penn State) is “big, strong and great hands”.  I said he would be a good pick on the third day even though he is “not fast”.
  • WRs you have not read lots about:  I thought Dyami Brown (UNC) has “sprinter speed” and “is a deep threat on every snap”.  He also has “ good hands when the ball gets to him in the open”.  I also noted that Terrance Marshall Jr. (LSU) was “overshadowed by Ja’Maar Chase but Marshall is big and has great hands”.  I noted that he could become a “possession/Red Zone receiver”.
  • OL:  I noted Wyatt Davis (Ohio State) was a “really good pass blocker”.  I noted that Aaron Banks (Notre Dame) was a “powerful run blocker and a good-enough pass blocker”.  Both were mid-round picks in my estimation.
  • DL:  Davyon Nixon (Iowa) is “powerful as a run stopper” and “gets middle pressure on many pass plays”.  I had him listed as a late round pick.  Azeez Ojulari (Georgia) is “super quick pass rusher” but “not yet big enough for NFL except on obvious passing downs”.  I had him as a late round pick also.
  • Linebackers:  I wrote that Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame) had “plenty of speed to cover in the passing game” and was “ a sure tackler in the run game”.  However, I also noted he is “too small to play LB in the NFL – screen graphic says he weighs 220 lbs”.  So, maybe a late-round pick?
  • DBs not named Patrick Surtain II:  Caleb Farley (Va Tech) is “tall with a long wingspan and good cover skills”.  However, I also noted that he is “not the best tackler on the field”.  Asante Samuel, Jr. (Florida State) is “genetically designed to be a cornerback” and “very physical in pass defense and in tackling”.  I thought both players here were second to fourth round picks.
  • Punter:  Oscar Bradburn (Va Tech) “gets good distance plus good hang time”.  My note says, “have his agent on speed-dial to get him as an undrafted free agent”.

So, that takes care of college football business from last weekend and sets you up for a few names to look for in the later rounds of the NFL Draft at the end of this week.  I shall close today with an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times related to college football:

“Ohio State safety Marcus Hooker was arrested on DUI charges after he passed out behind the wheel while waiting in a McDonald’s drive-thru line.

“Defense lawyers can’t decide whether to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or ‘I deserve a break today.’”

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



NFL Happenings …

No one should be surprised to learn that the NFL owners rejected any and all of the “major” rule changes proposed by teams and adopted a handful of rule changes that tinker around the margins of the games.  For example, the onside kick will not be replaced by a single “4th and 15 play”.  Here are some of the changes for 2021 – – and presumably beyond:

  • In onside kick situations, the receiving team can only have 9 players within 10 yards of the boundary line at which a kickoff becomes a free ball.  In the past, teams had chosen to line up 10 – – or even 11 men – – in such situations.  [Special Teams’ coaches will have to go back to their drawing boards…]
  • It is now official; there will be no overtime periods in Exhibition Games.  The only people who might care about that rule change are folks who wager on NFL Exhibition Games.  [Let me catch my breath here…]
  • They adopted a new rule that will allow running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs to wear uniforms with single digits.  [Indeed, there was a rule against such a thing until now…]
  • They formally instituted the 17-game regular season schedule that we have known for weeks was going to be the case starting in 2021.  [$$$…]
  • There will be “expanded communications” between replay officials and other game officials with the on-field crew when there is “objective information” that needs to be brought to the attention of the on-field crew.  [I smell more game interruptions on the horizon here…]
  • Double passes had already been disallowed but starting in 2021, the defense will not need to decide to take the penalty or take the loss of down.  Starting in 2021, it will be an automatic loss of down.  [Since this sort of play happens about once every two seasons, I doubt this will have cosmic implications…]

Now, let me posit a bargaining point for the owners and the players that will bring a plus to both sides and deliver a minus to both sides:

  • The players agree to expand the regular season schedule to 18 games and the owners agree to cut the Exhibition Game schedule to 2 Exhibition Games per season.

One plus for the players is that the total number of fames is reduced from 21 today to 20 under my proposal.  Another plus for the players is more league-wide revenue which translates into an increased salary cap and salary floor.  One minus for the players is that there is indeed an extra regular season game on the schedule and players have not been warm to that idea for a while now.

One plus for the owners is more revenue as they get to “sell more inventory” to their “broadcast partners”.  Another plus is by reducing the number of Exhibition Games they also reduce the potential for a long-term injury to a player that could result in paying that player a contract guarantee without deriving any benefit from that player’s participation.  Exhibition Game injuries can cost owners sizeable sums.  One minus for the owners is that they will forego revenue derived from the 2 Exhibition Games that are taken from the schedule.

At the moment, the owners and players are in a spitting contest over virtual OTAs versus in-person OTAs all of which are defined in the CBA as “voluntary activities”.  That level of pettiness does not portend any likelihood for meaningful and serious negotiations along the lines outlined here.  But one can hope…

Over the past week or so, the breathless pre-Draft news dealt with where Justin Fields fit into various team plans.  Some reports had him slipping way down in the first round of the draft; other reports had him being a long shot for the overall #2 pick by the Jets but a potential pick at #3 by the Niners.  Yesterday, a report surfaced that may shed some light on the disparity of reporting:

  • Justin Fields informed NFL teams that he is managing epilepsy.

According to reports, other members of Fields’ family have suffered from epileptic seizures in their youth, but many have outgrown them as they matured.  Justin Fields is managing the seizures with known medications and he asserts that he has never had a seizure on a football field.  He also asserted that the seizure incidents have been decreasing in frequency in recent years.

How all this will affect Field’s draft status will soon be revealed.  Instead of worrying about what team will get to draft him and which team will choose to pass on drafting him, I prefer to take this moment and wish Justin Fields good health and full management/overcoming of his epilepsy.  I have no medical knowledge here but epilepsy is a “neurological condition” and football is a game where concussions happen.  Is there a relationship there?

Moving along …  Sammy Watkins signed on with the Ravens as a free agent in this offseason.  As part of his introduction to the fans in Baltimore, he said:

“It’s time for the world to see the real Sammy Watkins.”

Excuse me; Sammy Watkins has already been in the NFL for 7 seasons and has participated in 86 games; he has been on playoff teams with the Rams (once) and with the Chiefs (three times).  He has played with Patrick Mahomes for three years and been to two Super Bowl games in the past two seasons.  And now, I am supposed to believe that the real Sammy Watkins has yet to emerge?

Finally, since today’s rant has touched on a variety of NFL-related issues, let me close with this item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Marshawn Lynch and Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared together on a vaccination info video?

“Eat your hearts out, Felix and Oscar.”

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



Do Not Boycott The Winter Olympics In China

Recently. Bob Molinaro had this item in his column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Brewing: The controversy over whether America should boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics or work to pull them out of China could have been anticipated the moment the International Olympic Committee awarded the event to a country with such horrific human rights abuses. But taking into account China’s immense market, the IOC and its corporate sponsors — largely American — cannot resist pouring money into the country, human rights be damned.”

There is an awful lot to unpack in that statement.  Let me start with the reports that the current US administration might be considering a boycott of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.  Well, how well did that work out in the past?

  • In 1980, the Olympic Games were held in Moscow.  The US was mightily offended by the actions and intentions of the USSR when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.  To demonstrate the depth of its concern, the US chose to boycott the 1980 Olympics.  Please note that the US boycott in 1980 had just about zero effect on the Soviet decision makers with regard to Afghanistan; the boycott was symbolic and useless.
  • In 1984, the Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles.  At the time, the US and the USSR had dozens of issues over which they disagreed; but it is fair to say that the main reason that the Soviets and some of its allies chose to boycott the 1984 Games was to “punish” the US for its behavior in 1980.  Please note that the USSR boycott in 1984 had just about zero effect on any decisions made by the US administration at the time; that boycott was similarly symbolic and useless.

Now – – as history is poised to repeat itself – – the Winter Games will happen in Beijing in 2022 and the Summer Games will happen in in Los Angeles in 2028.  Currently, the geopolitical rivalry of note is between the US and China and the current US administration is reported to have an Olympic boycott under consideration as a gesture of showing the folks in Beijing the depth of its consternation.  Once again, I feel the need to channel Derrick Coleman here in order to express the depth of my sense of the importance of such a gesture:

  • Whoop-di-damned-do!

Let me assume that the “boycott to emphasize US concerns” wins the day in Washington over the next 9 months and that there is no US Olympic team that arrives in Beijing for the competition there.  Out of all the many issues over which the US might hope to demonstrate moral concern regarding Chinese behavior(s), can someone point me to any sort of logical path whereby the boycott leads naturally to modified Chinese behavior that swings in the direction that the US chooses as its moral North Star?  I have not yet heard such logic.

There are plenty of issues over which the US and China can and do disagree as I sit here and pound out these words in April 2021.  In no particular order, here are some such issues – – and most importantly, I seriously doubt that a US Olympic boycott will have any positive effect on the status quo of any of them:

  • Full disclosure of data regarding the origin(s) of COVID-19: The majority of evidence points to a species jump of the virus from bats to humans but there are still data gaps that suggest this virus was engineered and accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan.  The actions of the Chinese government a year and a half ago regarding the virus and its subsequent dealings with the World Health Organization have not been fully transparent.  Guess what; the failure of the US Olympic Team to show up in Beijing in February 2022 will not create said transparency.
  • Political freedoms in Hong Kong:  When the Brits returned Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1999, there were certain “democratic assurances” given by the Chinese leadership associated with that divestiture.  Over the past two decades, there has been a tightening of the screws on the people in Hong Kong with regard to the definition of “political freedom” as tolerated by the Chinese.  Over the past couple of years, that tightening has markedly increased.  Guess what; the failure of the US Olympic Team to show up in Beijing in February 2022 will not result in political freedom in Hong Kong.
  • Tibet:  It has been more than 30 years now when Western countries began to decry the Chinese annexation of and dominance over Tibet.  I would bet that about 90% of the Free Tibet bumper stickers on cars in the US now reside in landfills somewhere.  Guess what; the failure of the US Olympic Team to show up in Beijing in February 2022 will not result in Tibet emerging as a free and independent nation.
  • Uighur genocide:  According to the majority of Western reporting, the Uighur minority in Xinjiang Province is being targeted for “re-education” or “elimination” by the Chinese authorities.  Guess what; the failure of the US Olympic Team to show up in Beijing in February 2022 will not miraculously change the status of the Uighurs in China from a group that needs any sort of “re-education” to one of equal stature with other groups in China.

The US and a bunch of its allies may decide to boycott these upcoming Games and it will not amount to a drab of donkey dreck when it comes to tangible and meaningful alterations regarding Chinese policies on any of those issues above.  In fact, the most probable logical extrapolation of a 2022 boycott by the US would be another boycott by the Chinese and/or some of its surrogates of the 2028 games scheduled in Los Angeles.  Is anyone ready to consider a fundamental change in US democratic or diplomatic positions six years hence over such a boycott?  Do the words “feckless”, “useless” and “inept” come to mind yet?

In the original statement from Professor Molinaro that started this rant, he notes that much of this controversy could have been anticipated at the time the IOC awarded these Winter Games to China about a decade ago.  Indeed, the evidence supporting such foresight was present then, but the IOC has a long history of ignoring any such signals and thinking that its treasured “Olympic Movement” can overcome any political or social disagreements among nations due to the purity of the competition in the Games.

  • [Aside:  I have referred in the past to the “Olympic Movement” as being akin to a “Bowel Movement”.  I am not anywhere near the point where I feel any need to change that opinion.]

In retrospect, the IOC and the “Olympic Movement” has some dirty laundry to deal with.  Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler staged the Games in 1936; the world did not yet know the depths of the depravity of that regime, but those Games can only be a stain on the Olympic reputation.  Lest anyone forget, the Olympic Games were also held in Berlin in 1916; unless you slept through that chapter of World History, you should recognize that the German government at the time was not exactly seen as a beneficent force in the world at large at the time.  As noted above, the Games were staged in Moscow in 1980 and then in Beijing in 2008.  The conclusion here is that the IOC does not care about political or social righteousness; it cares only for governments to commit to staging these events on the grandest possible scale.  [Aside:  Even if a country cannot afford such an extravagance – Athens in 2004 or Rio de Janiero in 2016 – the Games will go on there at the expense of the poor people of that country.]

The best course for a US administration to take here would be one that minimizes the importance of the Olympic Games as a recurring international event.  An Olympic boycott will confer a level of importance on the Games that the Games do not deserve.  Moreover, the losers in such a boycott will not be the ne’er-do-wells in the Chinese hierarchy; here are the real victims if there is to be a US boycott:

  • NBC will experience a financial bloodbath as it pays out its commitment for the broadcast rights to those Games but cannot sell much of any of its advertising inventory herein the US because there will be no Americans in the competitions.
  • The US athletes who have trained for most of their lives for the chance to compete in these Games will be denied any chance to win an Olympic Medal not because they were not worthy of such stature but because a bunch of suits in Washington decided not to sanction their participation.

I refuse to take a back seat to anyone when it comes to contempt for the IOC and the high-fallutin’ ideals of the Olympic Games; most of that aura is nothing more than the “man behind the curtain” in the Wizard of Oz.  And because the IOC and the Games do not deserve any sort of identification as a “signature world event”, my position is simple and straight forward.

  • Do not boycott the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing – – unless you are prepared to boycott any and all future Olympic Games no matter where they are held.

Allow me a tangential thought here.  The IOC is not beneficent as Professor Molinaro points out above.  Nonetheless, consider that one of the US sports organizations widely hailed for its sensitivity to social issues and social justice – – the NBA – – does lots of business with those “bad guys” in China and when an NBA GM dared to Tweet his support for the folks in Hong Kong demonstrating for democracy, none other than LeBron James said the GM needed to educate himself.  For the record, that GM lost his job over his Tweet…

Finally, I mentioned above that NBC would be a financial victim of any sort of US boycott here.  I will not be glued to my TV set to watch the Winter Games with or without US participation; I find most Winter Games events to be uninteresting at best.  Therefore, let me close today with a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

HDTV:  A device that allows you to watch crap in greater, more pristine  detail.”

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



Two Sports on Life Support

Earlier this week, I wrote about the proposed “Super League” in European soccer and how it was not being received well in some parts of the European “football community”.  This morning I got an email from good friend, a woman who has lived in Scotland for the past 20-25 years and who has become a soccer – football to her – fan there.  The title of her email is:

  • Death of the Super League

I mentioned in my writing that two of the four overseers of the proposed Super League were Americans who owned bits of European clubs.  My friend refers to them as American bankers and billionaires and she says that they grossly miscalculated the negative reactions of fans in Europe and specifically the negative reactions of the fans of the 14 clubs in the EPL that have not been “invited” into the “Super League”.  Whenever there is widespread agreement among the populace on any issue, you can be sure that politicians will rush to align themselves with that widespread agreement.  My correspondent says that the Ministry of Sport would be looking into a “windfall tax” and “other penalties” for clubs that might be part of the proposed “Super League”.

She believes that the “Super League” is dead in the water and that few if any of the fans will mourn its passing.  As I said at the end of my comments last Monday:

“This is a most complex issue; it is likely to go on for a while before it is resolved one way or the other.”

I have a sense that there will be more rumblings and grumblings about the “Super League” down the line.  Stay tuned; the story is probably not over just yet…

Moving on …  the ”Super League” is not in the best of health this morning but I think there is a sport that is in worse shape – – Boxing.  As I have mentioned here several times, back in the 1950s when baseball was the national pastime, the biggest other sports were:

  • Horse racing
  • Boxing

Today, boxing is just about dead.  Finding meaningful and/or riveting fights on the boxing calendar is difficult; if there are one or two a year, that is a banner year for boxing these days.  That situation is bad enough for a sport that is in decline but as they say on the late-night infomercials, “Wait … there’s more!”

Too much of boxing has left the realm of “important sporting event” and has wandered off into “concocted circus event”.  Just to be clear, that is not a good place to be.  The latest big time “boxing event” involved Jake Paul – identified not as a boxing champion but as a “social media celebrity” – knocking out an MMA fighter.  It was a non-boxer beating another non-boxer in a boxing match that drew millions of dollars’ worth of attention.  If that were a one-off occurrence, it would not be so bad, but that match was Jake Paul’s second big fight; in the first one he knocked out Nate Robinson – – not a boxer but a former player in the NBA.

  • [Aside:  This is analogous to Joe Flabeetz – someone you have never heard of – beating a former athlete like William the Refrigerator Perry in an event that is totally unrelated to Perry’s former sport – – say the 100-meter dash.  It does not prove much of anything and it should not be something that focuses attention on itself.]

Once again … there’s more.  Other nominal boxing events that have drawn lots of attention recently are staged events where it is the aura of the participants that draws attention and not the skills of the participants.  Consider:

  • Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor:  A world champion boxer fought a guy who had never been in a boxing match in his life.  I am surprised that it was not arranged for the winner here to face 65-year-old Hulk Hogan in a Steel Cage Texas Chain Saw Death Match.
  • Mike Tyson/Roy Jones, Jr.:  At least, both of these guys were boxing champions – a long time ago.  Both were in their 50s and had been out of “real boxing” for about a decade when this fight took place late last  year.  The result of this fight was a “split draw”.  Moreover, on the undercard for this circus event was the Jake Paul/Nate Robinson “battle”.
  • Evander Holyfield/Kevin McBride:  They will fight on pay-per-view on June 5th.  Holyfield is 58 years old; McBride is 47; Holyfield last fought a real match in 2011; McBride has been out of action for almost 10 years, and he lost 6 of his last 7 “real matches”.  This will be an 8-round bout with two-minute rounds a testament to the fact that these are “boxing geezers”.

These circus events draw lots of attention and real boxing matches do not; if that is not a signal that boxing is moribund at best, I do not know what would have to happen to put boxing into that category.  I hope no none will be surprised when the winner of the Holyfield/McBride encounter challenges Mike Tyson to another circus event.  If Holyfield is the winner, they better get the fight set quickly lest the folks who sanction such “sporting events” around the country are put in the position of certifying a 60-year-old man as fit to be a professional boxer.

Finally, let me close today with a comment related to parks and arenas selling their naming rights.  This comment is from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald from a couple weeks ago:

Corporate names in South Florida keep getting worse: First it was the home of the Heat becoming FTX Arena. Bad. Then it was Marlins Park becoming loanDepot park. Worse. Now Inter Miami announces its home in Fort Lauderdale is now AutoNation’s DRV PNK Stadium. Oh if only I were kidding.”

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



Not-So-Instant Replay…

In his column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, Bob Molinaro had these two items:

“Two months after the Super Bowl, NFL draft palaver engulfs sports TV and radio. Two weeks into its season, what you mostly hear about Major League Baseball is that its replay system is a farce. Therein lies a problem for the National Past-its-time.”

And …

“Don’t know about others, but I could live out my life perfectly well without official replays. Just as I lived a perfectly happy childhood absorbed by sports long before reviewing calls became a thing. I just wish all leagues and sports could keep things moving. Replay rules prevent that from happening.”

The evolution of “instant replay” from a technological panacea to an annoying presence is an example of the proverbial slippery slope.  As technology became available to have at the ready replays of every molecule of action in any sporting event of consequence, several things became clear:

  1. Things look different when viewed up close and magnified than they do at full speed.
  2. Things look different when viewed from different angles.
  3. Game officials sometimes miss a call or three because they only see a piece of action from one angle and at full speed without magnification.

The vector heading of most thinking at the time when technology provided for “instant replay” was that technology was the knight on a white horse who could ride in and save sports from the dastardly situation of a blown call.  Technology would allow for “perfection”; there would be no more “grey areas”.  Technology would fulfill Superman’s quest for:

  • Truth, Justice, and the American Way!

And here we are … with even better technology than back when “instant replay” was going to save the day … with more officials on the field/court … with more replay officials in more various locales … and what do we have?

  • There are still plenty of “grey areas”.  Officials in the NFL have even invented a vocabulary that conveys their level of uncertainty on a call after seeing the replay.  A call is confirmed or changed when they are confident in doing either one of those things; a call is left to stand when they still are not sure what the “absolutely correct” call should be.
  • “Instant replay” is anything but “instant”.  Some replay events can take up to 5 minutes.
  • “Instant replay” is used in far too many “instances”.

And, as Professor Molinaro points out above, “instant replay” chops up the flow of just about every game that it has touched.  Let me suggest a few changes here that might speed up the game by changing what “instant replay” might be used for:

  • MLB:  Use it for “home run or not a home run” calls; use it for “fair ball home run or foul ball”; and use it for determining if a “fair ball down the line was actually a foul ball”.  That’s it; I can live with an occasional mistake on the base paths.
  • Basketball (NBA and NCAA):  Stop using replay to adjust the time on the clock at the end of a game.  The fact that every examination of the clock shows that it needs adjusting certainly means that every clock stoppage in the first 95% of the game needed adjusting.  The game has arrived at its end point imperfectly before the final minute or two; live with it.
  • Football:  Lots of reviews can be obviated by changing one rule and allowing the ground to cause a fumble.  Moreover, if the rules mavens cannot come up with a definitive definition of what is a catch and what is not a catch then maybe stop using replay to look at what is or is not going to be ruled as a catch.  Just a thought…

[Aside:  If you really want to turn the game of football into a boring 5-hour slog, just expand the replay rule to include “holding” or “not-holding” by the 5 offensive linemen on any given play…]

We got to where we are with “instant replay” because we looked at technological wizardry through rose-colored glasses and imagined that it would lead us to a land flowing with milk and honey.  The premise sounded irrefutable; replay would always “get it right”.  The problem is that it does not always “get it right” and that its scope has been expanded to too many aspects of the games such that it is an intrusion and not a godsend.

Perhaps we should not be so surprised to come to such a realization.  Technology has been welcomed as a glorious blessing in many parts of our lives only to let us recognize down the line that it may not be all it was cracked up to be.  Social media platforms would be one such technological encroachment in society that we now recognize is “less than a perfect addition” to our lives.  Just because technology can do something does not mean that we need to put up with technology’s baggage as it does that something; sometimes less is better.

Finally, Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle had this to say about some other additions to our society courtesy of technology:

“Handy tip: The microchip they secretly implanted in your arm during your ‘vaccination’ can be de-activated by a quick blast from a Jewish space ray.”

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



Rebellion In The Air…

The big sports news of the day comes from Europe where a dozen of the big-time soccer teams in the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A have announced that they will break from the current soccer establishment there and form a “Super League”.  At the moment, there are 6 English teams, 3 La Liga clubs and 3 Serie A teams in the “Super League”.  The plan is to add three more “permanent members” and then have 5 “other members” forming a 20-team league that would play mid-week games so that the teams can continue to participate in their national leagues.  Interestingly, two of the four members of the “governing board” for the Super League are American owners of European soccer clubs – – John Henry and Joel Glazer.

There is less-than-universal support for such a Super League.  German clubs, and some of the better teams in France and Portugal have said they will not join the Super League.  As you can imagine, UEFA and FIFA are not happy about this.  Here is what UEFA had to say about the breakaway league:

“Every club and player participating in the Super League could be banned from all UEFA and FIFA competitions, European or International level.

“As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”

FIFA obviously does not like this idea because it would allow a large part of the best soccer to be played without FIFA “oversight” and “control”.  My cynical view here is that if FIFA is given an opportunity to share in any revenue(s) generated by the Super League, they might ease their opposition just a tad.  This is a most complex issue; it is likely to go on for a while before it is resolved one way or the other.  If you want to be able to understand the origins of the issues when you hear about some change in the status of soccer in Europe over the next year or so, please read this introductory piece at

Rebellion is in the air in the sports world – – or maybe its just the pollen in the air…  About 20 of the 32 NFL teams will hold OTAs without many of their players present in person.  Players – – at the urging of the NFLPA and team representatives – – have decided that they will stay away from these activities to keep the pandemic under control.  If you believe that is the prime motivation here, you probably also believe that Lucy will one day hold that football for Charlie Brown to kick.

The players look back at last year when OTAs were held virtually because last year there was some immediacy to pandemic control when there were lots more questions than answers abut COVID-19.  It turns out that last year’s NFL season came off with only minor hitches and statistically, there were fewer injuries than in “normal seasons” before last year.  So, the players have chosen to flex their labor muscles here and to focus attention on that part of the CBA that labels OTAs as “voluntary” acts by the players.  In essence, players on more than half the teams have said they are not going to volunteer to be present and will participate virtually.

The NFL offseason program for veteran players has 3 phases – – as spelled out in the CBA:

  • April 19 – May 14:  Virtual meetings; no on-field drills with coaches.  Team weight room facilities are there for those players who choose to avail themselves of those facilities.
  • May 17-21:  Full-speed on-field drills and practice with coaches present but without contact.
  • May 24-June 18:  Team OTAs plus mandatory mini-camp.

Rookie mini-camps will be held a week or two after the NFL Draft; there does not appear to be a significant change in place there.  Given that more than a few rookies will have opted out of college football last year, rookie mini-camps are likely to be even more important for draftees than usual.

My reaction to this seeming act of defiance by players borders on dismissive.  First of all, even the union recognizes that it is crass at the core.  The NFLPA “understands” that some teams will have players participating in the “voluntary” activities because those teams have significant numbers of players who receive “workout bonuses” for attending such activities.  Translation:

  • Safety and control of the pandemic take a back seat to performance bonuses that might be at the “six-figure level”.

In addition, these declarations of independence by the players simply means that they will adhere to the terms of the CBA which have labeled these offseason activities as “voluntary” for years.  By standing on their hind legs and declaring that they will not be attending, all the players are asserting is that they are willing to defy their coaches’ preferences and urgings so long as the CBA provides them cover.

Moreover, these are the same players who ratified a new CBA – – by a remarkably close vote to be sure – – just a year ago.  In that CBA, the players folded their cards on two issues that they had declared to be “lines in the sand” prior to negotiations.  Those were:

  1. Thursday Night Football
  2. A 17-game regular season schedule.

Those were health and safety issues; those were abominations in the sight of the Lord.  So, what happened?  Not only did the players give in on both issues for an extra percentage point of the revenues being counted toward setting the salary cap, but also the players signed onto the new deal for 10 years.  One full decade…

Look, I happen to think that the players were right to sign on; they will take down lots more money in salary caps and salary floors with the new deal than they did in the previous deal – – and certainly more than they would have gotten without a 2020 season due to a work stoppage.  However, I find the current posturing and the tone of “rebelliousness” just a bit over the top given last year’s behavior that was more akin to “rolling over and playing dead”.

Finally, since today’s rant has been about seeming acts of rebellion, let me close with some thoughts on rebellion by people much smarter than I:

“I find rebellion packaged by a major corporation a little hard to take seriously.” – – David Byrne

And …

“Rebellion is always going to fascinate, as it’s always packaged in a very safe way.” – – Irvine Welsh

And …

“I am from a family of artists. Here I am, making a living in the arts. It has not been a rebellion. It’s as though I had taken over the family Esso station.” – – Kurt Vonnegut

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