I think there has been too much discussion about and dissection of the motivations involved in Simone Biles’ withdrawal from the women’s team gymnastics competition at the Olympics. Simone Biles is not obligated to participate in any event; she competes because she is competent enough at her skill to be worthy of Olympic competition and she competes for whatever internal forces drive her. As far as I am concerned, that says it all. Therefore, if she chooses to withdraw from an event, the decision is hers and ought not be subject to scrutiny – – unless someone believes somehow that the withdrawal involved some sort of criminal or heinous action.
Simone Biles has earned her position and her recognition within her sport by her performance(s) over the years. She does not owe anyone an “explanation” for her decision(s); she is an adult and a very competent adult. I will not criticize, speculate on or prognosticate about why she chose to do what she did. If she ever feels like telling the world about her thinking that led to her action here, I will be an interested listener.
The Tour de France is over; and it was won by a Slovenian rider, Tadej Pogačar. This is the second year in a row that he has won the race and joins a list of 13 riders who have won the race in successive years. The first Tour de France was in 1903 and the only years that did not have a race were the years when Europe was involved in two World Wars.
Congratulations are in order for Tadej Pogačar.
I know that times change and that people change their minds and their priorities, but sometimes the changes are so stark that it makes me wonder how sincere they were in previous stances taken. For years, the NFL was opposed to gambling on NFL games – – notwithstanding the fact that betting on NFL games helped to fuel the sports’ rise to prominence/dominance in America. Commissioners testified passionately before Congressional committees about the assault on the integrity of the games and the league itself posed by “gambling interests”.
In 2015, the NFL called a halt to a Fantasy Football Convention scheduled to be held in a Las Vegas casino that was to be headlined by Tony Romo and would have involved about 100 other NFL players. Fantasy Football was OK with the league; remember at the time there was an actual debate ongoing about whether Fantasy Football was gambling or not. [Aside: It was gambling then, and it is gambling now.] Here is what the NFL said at the time about this event:
“Players and NFL personnel may not participate in promotional activities or other appearances at or in connection with events that are held at or sponsored by casinos.”
A mere six years ago, players or coaches or GMs or scouts could be fined or suspended for taking part in a promotional event sponsored by a casino. Here we are in 2021 and this is the state of play for the NFL:
- Caesars Entertainment – – owner of places like Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Lady Luck Casino, Horseshoe Casino – Baltimore, Bally’s, The Flamingo, Paris Las Vegas, Rio, Planet Hollywood, Circus Circus and you get the idea – – just bought naming rights for the New Orleans Saints’ stadium for $138M over the next 20 years.
If that “change of thinking” over a meager 6-year stretch of time does not bring your thinking up short, let me just remind you of an old street adage:
“Money talks and bulls[p]it walks…”
The “NFL Insiders” would have had us believe about 6 months ago that Russell Wilson would never play for the Seahawks again and that DeShaun Watson would sit out if the Texans did not trade him. [Aside: To be fair, those “Insiders” were pontificating before any of the myriad sexual harassment/assault allegations against Watson materialized.] Nonetheless, Wilson remains in Seattle; Watson is being shopped around without takers by Houston and that brings me to Aaron Rodgers who was supposedly never going to play for the Packers ever, ever…
If we are to believe the latest soothsaying regarding the Aaron Rodgers/Green Bay Packers “disconnect”, Rodgers is about to report to training camp on time and will play QB for the Packers in 2021. At the end of the season, the team will “reconsider his position with the team” – – whatever the Hell that might mean – – and thereby facilitate his departure from Green Bay to somewhere else in the NFL.
If indeed this is a correct assessment of the state of play, all the reporters who were positive that Rodgers would never again suit up in the Green-and-Gold were dead wrong. If indeed this is a correct assessment, all the reporters who had “sources” telling them that Rodgers would sit out the year were dead wrong. And even if these latest reports are totally correct about the 2021 season, there are still some details hanging out there to dry such as:
- After Rodgers plays for the Packers this season, the team will deal with him in a way that allows him to play elsewhere. What does that mean? He is under contract until the end of 2023 with the Packers. Has the team agreed to release him for nothing, or have they agreed to find a way to trade him to a place where he wants to play?
- The “next team” to get Rodgers would get a Hall of Fame caliber QB along with Hall of Fame caliber passive-aggressive behaviors. What is that worth on the trade market? Aaron Rodgers is 38 years old; he is not a “kid”; his passive-aggressiveness is not a phase he will “grow out of”.
Let me put an unsensational and a totally uninvested perspective on all this:
- Until and unless I know the fine-grained details of what the Packers and Rodgers have agreed to as a way to handle the next NFL offseason, I will not pretend to be able to project what is likely to happen. My guess is that both sides will keep much of those details under wraps meaning that most of the “reporting” over the next 4 months or so will be a lot closer to “speculation” than it is to “reporting”.
- One fact remains inviolate until I read a credible report that it has been changed by Rodgers and the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is under contract to play NFL football for the Green Bay Packers – – and no other team – – through the end of the 2023 season. He may want out of Green Bay to play elsewhere – – but he cannot trade himself to any other team. That contractual “fact” must change if Rodgers is to “take his talents” elsewhere; and it is logical to ask what the Packers might want to receive in exchange for their part in altering that “fact”.
Finally, since I dealt with issues related to gambling above, let me close with this pronouncement by the Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw:
“Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich: that is fundamentally why the bishops dare not denounce it fundamentally.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………