Late last week, the NFL proposed that COVID-19 vaccinations be made mandatory. Reports say that they presented this new policy initiative to the NFLPA for its consideration/acquiescence/whatever. According to other reports I have read, the NFL has more than 90% of its players vaccinated – one report had the percentage at 93% – but holdouts remain. The union position here is a rational one:
- The union acknowledges the effectiveness and the safety of the vaccines.
- The union points to the strict COVID-19 protocols from last year and to the effectiveness of those protocols when strictly enforced.
The protocols currently in force call for vaccinated folks – players, coaches, staff members – to be tested biweekly and for unvaccinated folks to be tested daily. It is difficult to “take sides” on this issue because both sides have a rational basis for their positions. My guess is that the current proposal for mandatory vaccinations – as with previous requests of a similar nature – will not get NFLPA approval.
A few months ago, I mentioned that Louisville assistant coach, Dino Gaudio, had been indicted on extortion charges. Last week, Gaudio pleaded guilty to those charges in Federal court and – per a plea agreement – he will spend a year on probation and pay a $10K fine. [Aside: According to one report, the maximum penalty here could be a fine of $250K plus 2 years in prison plus 3 years on probation.] According to the court documents, here is what happened:
- Gaudio and another assistant coach at Louisville were fired at the end of last season by head coach Chris Mack. The team missed the NCAA tournament last year and posted a 13-7 record.
- Proximal to the time of his dismissal, Gaudio told “Louisville officials” that he was going to report violation of NCAA rules by the team unless Louisville paid him for the rest of his contract – – $425K.
- The rules he alleged were broken involved the production of “recruiting videos for prospective student-athletes” and the use of graduate assistants in practices. [Aside: I have no specifics here but that sounds awfully minor to me. What do I know?]
- Gaudio also sent a text with one of the allegedly improper videos to various folks associated with the university. That text message traveled outside the State of Kentucky on its way from Gaudio to the university officials and that is how the Feds became involved.
It sounds to me as if Gaudio simply lost his grip on life for a moment when he was fired by Mack because the two men have a long and positive relationship. The two coaches were on the same NC State staff as assistants from 2001 through 2004; Gaudio had been a basketball broadcaster for ESPN when Mack hired him as Mack’s assistant at Louisville. It is not as if these two guys did not know each other or that they had a longstanding beef with each other. And there is one more thing about this story that makes me shake my head:
- Louisville is going to suspend Chris Mack for 6 games this season for “failing to follow procedures in handling this matter”.
The university did not elaborate on what procedures were not followed but given the outcome here – a guilty plea and the university not having to pay the extortion amount – I have to wonder just how important those “procedures” are.
Switching gears … Bob Molinaro had this to say in one of his recent columns in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“According to a survey by some entity nobody’s heard of, Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish leprechaun is the fourth-most offensive college mascot, trailing only schools with Native American mascots.
“The difference, of course, between Native American mascots and Notre Dame’s is that leprechauns aren’t real. And never have been. Or are some people still a little vague about that? Nobody of Irish descent — or any other descent — is bothered by Notre Dame’s nickname and mascot. Don’t people ever tire of attempts at manufacturing nonsense?”
My response to those statements – and I agree with both entirely – has two thrusts:
- Indeed, people will continue to “get bent out of shape” over fringe issues because the environment in 2021 is to shower such folks with attention. If someone were to organize a march to protest the leprechaun, someone would make that into a serious report and give the organizer an Andy Warhol prescribed fifteen minutes of fame.
- Moreover, we have set the bar far too low. It has gotten to the point where a single person who takes offense at something – anything – means that there needs to be attention paid to that issue and for the issue to be debated and resolved in some way. That is nonsense because it sets up a cottage industry for “taking offense”. Today I can be offended by the NY Jets because we are coming up on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Tomorrow I can be offended by the NY Giants because the name is a form of “body-shaming”. The day after that, I can be offended by the New England Patriots because the name is an affront to anarchists everywhere. And none – as in not even one – of my nonsensical outrages should garner any attention.
Finally, I will close today with a brief statement from W. C. Fields:
“I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………