Marlin Briscoe died earlier this week. He was the first Black starting QB in American professional football. Briscoe played at a time when there existed a mindset in many if not most football coaches that Black players were not “smart enough” to handle the subtleties of the game. Briscoe was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 1968 in the 14th round out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He played QB for the Broncos in 11 games that year and started 5 of those games. His stat line was not spectacular even considering the way pro football was played in the 1960s except for one stat:
- Briscoe led the NFL for that season at 17.1 yards per completion.
When the Broncos decided that he would not be given a chance to compete for the starting QB job in 1969, Briscoe asked for his release and the Broncos complied. He signed with the Bills as a WR and was voted to the Pro Bowl at that position. He played 8 seasons as a WR and chalked up these career receiving stats:
- 224 receptions for 3537 yards with 30 TDs.
- 49 rushes for 336 yards and 3 TDs
It would be a stretch to compare him to Jackie Robinson in terms of breaking a color barrier, but it would also be wrong to think that what Marlin Briscoe did in 1968 was “no big deal”. It was a watershed moment for the NFL.
Rest in peace, Marlin Briscoe.
Returning to a topic from the past couple of days, Kyrie Irving opted-in to the final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets. He was given permission to try to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with a team of his choosing in the league. Reports say that could not generate interest and that the best offer he could entertain was something called a “mid-level cap exception” to play with the Lakers for $6M. The Nets’ contract is worth $36.5M. Kyrie Irving may be flaky, but he can figure out that a $30.5M difference in contract value is a lot of cheese.
What surprised me about reports that accompanied the news of Irving’s opting-in was a column in the NY Post by Mike Vaccaro. His columns are balanced when they are critical; even when he writes “negative stuff”, the tone is always balanced and measured. Not so here…
In his column about Irving coming back to the Nets, Vaccaro uses phrases like “pathetic petulance”, “serial phony”, a “one-man act of subterfuge”, and he calls the Nets a “freak show”. Here is a link to that column; it is worth reading in full.
There is another recent column I suggest you read. Thom Loverro is the lead columnist for the Washington Times, and he is not remotely interested in offering any aid and comfort to Daniel Snyder for anything. When Snyder stiffed the House Oversight Committee’s invitation to testify about the Commanders’ previous “toxic work culture”, Loverro took to the keyboard. For this piece he anointed Snyder with the name “Skipper Dan the Sailor Man” because Snyder was reportedly on his yacht in the Mediterranean making him unable to attend the Committee hearing. Here is the link to that column.
Dwight Perry had this comment in his Seattle Times column last weekend:
“Major League Baseball will allow its teams to sell sponsorships to cannabis companies that market CBD products, the Sports Business Journal reported.
“’Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain’ is about to be supplanted by ‘Cheech and Chong and Pass the Bong.’”
MLB is the first of the major US sports to deal openly in terms of sponsorships and the like with cannabis companies. I will not be surprised to see other leagues follow suit because there is money to be made via those sponsorships. For example, I read a report that the NFL at the league level now takes in $2B per year from its sponsorships. There have been a few changes in the sponsor lineup recently because Little Caesar’s is now going to be the NFL’s Official Pizza replacing Pizza Hut and E&J Gallo will be the Official Wine sponsor of the NFL.
You may be asking yourself, “What benefit does a winery get from being an NFL sponsor?” Well, for one thing, the deal will give Gallo “exclusive pouring rights at major events including the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl.” Those “pouring rights” will necessarily have to be shared with other booze sponsors because Anheuser-Busch is the Official Beer sponsor and Diageo is the Official Hard Liquor sponsor. Now you know what sort of wine will be available if you venture out to see the Super Bowl or the Pro Bowl in person – – assuming of course that the NFL does not axe the Pro Bowl as it should have done years ago.
Supposedly the biggest sponsorship deal for the NFL is with Verizon and that deal is reported to be worth $300M per year. I must admit that I do not understand how any sort of sponsorship deal can be worth that amount of money – – but I have never been in the marketing business.
Finally, since I cited Dwight Perry above, let me close with another of his observations in the Seattle Times:
“At TheOnion.com: ‘North Dakota constructs billion-dollar stadium just in case some NFL franchise gets desperate.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………