Ancillary Football Stuff Here …

With the players and coaches from the Super Bowl teams having arrived in Las Vegas, the NFL has imposed even tighter restrictions on gambling activities for those folks.  Here is the bottom line:

  • While in Las Vegas, players participating in the Super Bowl are prohibited from engaging in any form of gambling, including casino games and betting on any sport. – – AND – –
  • Players on teams other than the super Bowl participants may gamble legally but nay not wager on the Super Bowl game or any proposition bets related to that game. – – AND – –
  • Team officials of any club and employees of the participating teams may not bet on any sports or play any casino games until the Super Bowl game is over.

While that seems a bit draconian to me, I am not in the position of protecting the image and the acceptability of a product that generates about $20B a year in revenues.  So, the NFL poohbahs have chosen to be ultra-conservative in their dealings with gambling in Las Vegas.  In a correspondence with players, Commissioner Goodell explained this ultra-conservative approach this way:

“The NFL is strongly committed to protecting the integrity of out game.  As NFL players, you have a special responsibility … to ensure that it is always played fairly, honestly and to the best of your ability.  This includes taking all appropriate steps to safeguard our game against possible gambling-related risks that can undermine the confidence and trust of our fans …”

Reading that excerpt from the Commish reminded me of an old NFL story.  Back in the 1960s, Alex Karras was suspended from the NFL for a full year when he admitted to placing bets on NFL games.  When he was reinstated by the league, he returned to his team (the Lions) and was named a captain of that squad.  As such he was in the mid-field group just prior to the game for the coin toss.  When the referee asked Karras to call the toss, Karras allegedly replied:

“I’m sorry sir; I’m not permitted to gamble.”

So, just how will this year’s coin toss take place in light of the NFL prohibitions on players and coaches and gambling?

I want to go back for a moment to the NFL coaching mixture that seems to have ended for this offseason.  Probably the earliest and fastest decision in the process was by the Cowboys to retain the services of Mike McCarthy.  Given the trouncing the Cowboys suffered in the wildcard round of the playoffs this year, I was a bit surprised by that decision.  Obviously, I have no inside information here; but I do wonder if the swiftness of that decision to keep McCarthy happened in this way:

  • Jerry Jones places a call to Bill Belichick’s agent sounding out if Belichick might be interested in coming to the Cowboys.
  • The agent returns that call a few hours later and says, “Hell, no!
  • The Cowboys announce “Plan B” as if it had been “Plan A” all along.

I have said this before, and I will say it here again.  Since it is apparent that Bill Belichick will not be on the sidelines for an NFL team next season, he belongs on television.  If you saw him in studio setting doing the NFL’s Best 100 Players, you saw that he is comfortable, knowledgeable, and even engaging on TV.  He is not always like his monosyllabic press conferences; I think he would be a star on NFL studio presentations.

Here is a Quick Quiz.  No googling allowed …

  • Four different NFL head coaches have lost the Super Bowl game 4 times.
  • Name them.
  • [Answer below.  I got 3 of the 4 very quickly and finally got the last one.]

An email from a reader asked if I thought the praise and the reaction to the Chargers’ hiring of Jim Harbaugh was over the top.  I would agree that some of the coverage was excessive, but I do think that Harbaugh’s coaching history plus the roster he will inherit justify plenty of optimism on the part of Chargers’ fans and NFL commentators.

In Harbaugh’s first two coaching stops, he took two college teams that were anything but traditional powers (University of San Diego and Stanford) and rather quickly turned them into winning programs.  Then he went to the NFL and took over a Niners’ team that had gone 6-10 the year before he arrived.  The next season, the Niners were 13-3.

When he went to Michigan, the Wolverines were consistently pushed around by Ohio St. and sometimes lost to other Big-10 schools too.  It took Harbaugh several years to get the type of roster he wanted and that made Michigan into the Big-10 bully in place of Ohio St.

Does this mean I am betting on the Chargers to make it to the Super bowl next year?  No.  But I do believe that Jim Harbaugh will improve the Chargers’ record beyond 5-12 next year because he has a very talented QB and some pass-catching talent already in place.  I believe that prior performance and experience are important when projecting future results.

Here is the answer to the Quick Quiz:

  • Bud Grant
  • Dan Reeves
  • Marv Levy
  • Don Shula – – This is the one that took me a long while…

Finally, having dwelled on coaches and coaching today, let me close with this:

“The interesting thing about coaching is that you have to trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled.”

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



3 thoughts on “Ancillary Football Stuff Here …”

  1. I loved the losing Super Bowl coaches quiz.

    I wonder what Kyle Shanahan might think of it? Perhaps we would be wise to push the pause-button on this subject for, say, six more evenings?

    1. Ric Charlesworth – – an Australian cricketeer and a former member of the Australian House of Representatives

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