Fading Fame

Over the past week or so, I have seen a variety of reports with headlines that follow this line of thinking:

  • Ben Simmons demands a trade … Ben Simmons will not report to training camp … Superstar wants out of Philly

After the way the Sixers exited the playoffs a couple of months ago and given the way the fans and sports media in Philly have “dealt with” that debacle, I am sure that Ben Simmons has gotten the message that the fans do not want him back on the team.  I am not the least bit surprised that he wants to be traded nor would I be surprised to learn that the Sixers will be looking to move him.  What confuses me is that some folks who report on the NBA consider Ben Simmons to be a “superstar”.  I do not.

Simmons is an excellent passer, and he is as good a defender as there is in the NBA these days.  However, basketball is a game that requires players to be able to put the ball in the basket on a more than occasional basis; NBA games do not end with scores of 21-18.  Ben Simmons lack of scoring ability keeps him from being a “superstar” because of the seriousness of that hole in his game.

Certainly, the Sixers’ front office will try to maintain a narrative that Simmons is a superstar and that the Sixers will demand a heavy ransom from any team that wants to take on his services.  If GM Daryl Morey can pull that off, he has a great retirement gig waiting for him as a used car salesman.

Speaking of retirement, a strange sequence of events over the past couple of days has placed former UConn football coach, Randy Edsall in retirement.  Eleven days ago, UConn was pantsed by Fresno State to the tune of 45-0; last Saturday was even worse.  At least Fresno State is a Division 1-A team and they showed well in their second game of the year losing to Oregon by only a TD.  UConn was not nearly so competitive in their second outing of the season.

Last week was supposed to be a cupcake game for the Huskies as they took on Division 1-AA Holy Cross.  The final tally had the Huskies on the short end of a 38-28 score.  Moreover, this was not a fluke win by the Crusaders on some sort of lucky bounce of the football.  Holy Cross gained 100 more yards on offense than UConn did.

On Monday morning, Randy Edsall said that he was going to retire at the end of the 2021 season – presumably to spend more time with his family.  I remember thinking at the time that he might have come to that decision as a means of avoiding being separated from the school before the end of the season, but that did not matter all that much.

Then yesterday came the news that Randy Edsall had retired and that the defensive coordinator would be the acting head coach for the rest of 2021.  The irony in that situation from my perspective is that the defensive coordinator is the guy in charge of the team unit that yielded 38 points to Holy Cross.  For that, he gets a “promotion”?

Here is the PR statement regarding this retirement situation from the UConn Athletic Director:

“Upon further reflection by both Randy and I (sic), and after having the opportunity to visit with Randy today, we are both in agreement that it is in the best interest of our student-athletes to have a new voice leading UConn football,”

Here is what I think is the best outcome for UConn:

  • Either drop back down to Division 1-AA … or …
  • Eliminate football entirely.

There is no great tradition of UConn football; college football as an activity is not important in Connecticut or in New England – possibly apart from the campus of Boston College.  I am sure there is a rich alum of UConn or two who dream of big things for UConn football; even if they bankroll the program to keep it in Division 1-A, it will be decades before anyone utters the phrase:

  • UConn is the Alabama of New England.

I want to take a moment here to make two quick statements:

  1. Randy Edsall was one of my College Coaches on a Hot Seat just two weeks ago.
  2. Randy Edsall will probably enjoy retirement more than he would have enjoyed being on the UConn sidelines for the rest of 2021.

Moving on…  About a month ago, I mentioned here that Clinton Portis was facing some serious legal issues.  He owed a woman about $150K in child support and had defied a court order related to that matter; that got the judge in Florida to issue an arrest warrant for Portis.  Simultaneously, Portis and a half dozen other defendants were indicted in Federal court for insurance fraud.  That trial ended in a hung jury and Portis’ lawyers must have gotten a reasonable deal from the prosecutors because Portis subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

These charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of not more than $250,000 or twice the gross financial gain from the fraud. He will make restitution of $99,264 to the Gene Upshaw NFL Players Health Reimbursement Account Plan.  Portis admitted that he took part in a scheme to defraud the plan through “false pretenses, representations, and promises.” Basically, he admitted that he made false claims for benefits under the health plan for retired NFL players.

Finally, the three protagonists of stories related today can see their fame fading just a bit.  So, I will close here with Mark Twain’s view of “fame”:

“Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.”

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