Late last week, I ran across a report related to a suspension for Juventus player, Paul Pogba. He had a random drug test last August after a game and his testosterone levels were in a range considered “not to be created naturally” and the test revealed “non-endogenous testosterone metabolites present.” He was suspended after that test and then a subsequent analysis last October of the “B Sample” from the offending test confirmed the elevated testosterone levels. Last week the national anti-doping authorities in Italy banned Pogba from competition for 4 years. That is not a typo; as things stand now, Paul Pogba will not play soccer for 4 years. Pogba will turn 31 years old in about two weeks; a suspension of that length might just be the end of his career. Naturally, he will appeal the decision as it stands to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which is centered in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Paul Pogba may not be a household name here in the US, but he is a top-shelf footballer in Europe; he is a star and a leader for Juventus which is a top-shelf team in the Italian Serie A. You can go to Wikipedia to read about the honors and the accomplishments in his career; if you do not want to do that, please take my word that this is not some minor figure in European football. He is also not a multi-time positive tester; and yet, he got a 4-year suspension.
- I have to wonder how many American pro athletes would take the risk of a 4-year suspension if that were the norm for a first offense.
Moving on … As I was grazing around Internet sports sites looking for material to use in these rants, I ran across this headline:
“Johnny Manziel will boycott Heisman ceremony until Reggie Bush gets his trophy back”
I don’t know how you feel about Reggie Bush having his Heisman trophy “repossessed” by the Heisman organization. I recognize that it is their award, and they can issue it to whomever they please, meaning they should be able to repossess it on whatever basis they establish for said repossession. On the other hand, Bush won the award for his play on a football field isolated from off-field happenings that were not criminal or sociopathic. I have never lost a moment’s sleep pondering the events and the consequences of that whole business.
But I did react to that headline – – not in the way the headline writer or the article author might have preferred. I did not click on the headline to see what the report had to say. Rather, I made a note on my clipboard asking the following question:
- Who cares if Johnny Manziel boycotts or attends Heisman ceremonies anytime between now and the Twelfth of Never?
For the record, I care even less about Manziel’s “boycott” than I do about who ought to be in possession of the Heisman trophy previously awarded to and then rescinded from Reggie Bush.
Switching gears … Bob Molinaro had this item in his column last week for the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Money for nothing: The arrogance of NFL owners is on display again, this time with the Carolina Panthers’ David Tepper raising ticket prices after his team’s 2-15 season. But he’ll get what he wants — all the owners do. Don’t waste sympathy on paying customers who cave to the new prices.”
The increase is not outrageous; according to reports it averages out to 4% stadium wide. Molinaro mentions the team’s NFL-worst record of 2-15 last year but he preferred not to point out in addition that the Panthers were shut out in both of their final two games last season. Those two shutouts put a perfect bracket on the Panthers’ season since they were also shut out in the Opening Game back in September. In a less malevolent universe, Panthers’ season ticket holders would be getting a small rebate from last season’s purchase rather than a price increase for next season.
Oh, and speaking of the Panthers and their owner, David Tepper, let me offer a small bit of advice to the new head coach of the Panthers, Dave Canales:
- The best predictor of future human behavior is past human behavior.
- Ergo, rent – – don’t buy…
The following is the text of a Tweet by Tom Pelissero widely considered to be an NFL Insider:
“No surprises: The new kickoff rule crafted by NFL special teams coordinators would allow teams to attempt an onside kick only when trailing in the fourth quarter — and require them to declare it in advance, per sources. Language still being finalized and owners must approve.”
Teams would have to declare in advance that they are going to try an onside kick? Is there any other play in a football game where the team must declare what it is going to do before they try to do it? Using this reasoning, teams should also declare their intention to run a fake punt or a fake field goal before they break the huddle.
Look, there are precious few onside kicks in NFL games under the current rules. There are 272 games in the NFL’s regular season; I would be shocked if there were more than 50 such plays attempted in those regular season games last year. It seems to me that Special Teams Coordinators ought to have better things to do with their spare time in the offseason than this.
Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close today with an assessment of a novel in a book review written by Dorothy Parker:
“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown by great force.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………