Another NBA “Fix” …

Yesterday, I suggested a fix for a problem facing the NBA in the Spring of 2024.   Today, I want to focus on another issue facing the league now; and once again, I will provide a potential way to improve the status quo.  Let me repeat a data point from yesterday:

  • The Iowa/South Carolina championship game for the women’s NCAA basketball tournament a couple of weeks ago had a TV audience more than double what any regular season NBA game drew. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but TV audience size and TV exposure are vital signs for the viability of the NBA.  And the statement above would not have been thinkable in the Executive Suites of the NBA merely 3 or 4 years ago.  Nonetheless …

The audience-size issue relates to a couple of things:

  1. NBA basketball is regional/local and not national.  The Lakers, Celtics, Knicks when they are good, Bulls when they had Jordan and Heat when LeBron first took his talents there have/had ”national appeal”.  The rest of the league and the rest of the time, the enthusiastic interest is local and not much more.
  2. There are far too many regular season games that are rendered meaningless early on into a season.  And in many NBA markets, lots of those myriad meaningless games are available on TV.  It is hard for anyone beneath the “rabid fan” descriptor to get excited about most if not all of those contests.

I cannot prove this next assertion with cold hard facts, but my sense is that the sporting public in the US has grown tired of the formation and dissolution of so-called “Super Teams”.  When LeBron /Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh created the first “Super Team” and won a championship, it was noteworthy, and it drew attention.  However, after so many hypes and subsequent underachievements, fans seem to have reacted with yawns instead of roars.  The latest flameout of a “Super Team” would be this year’s Phoenix Suns.  When Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal assembled themselves in Arizona last summer, Booker said:

“I don’t know how other teams can guard us.”

Well, the Suns just got swept from the playoffs by the Timberwolves and most of the reaction has been akin to “Ho hum…”

The NBA should – – but will not – – cut the regular season back significantly.  Some have suggested cutting it from 82 games to 72 games; I have suggested several times in the past that the regular season should be 58 games long; every team should play a single home-and-home series against every other team in the league and that should define the regular season.  I am not the least bit sanguine about the league cutting the season back to 72 games; I would be gob smacked to learn that anyone in league management had even uttered the words, “fifty-eight games” in any context other than as an uproarious joke.

The NBA mavens know this is a real problem.  They contorted themselves into “Twister-like” postures to create the wonderous “In-Season Tournament” back in November of 2023 with the clearly obvious purpose of getting some fans to give a rat’s patootie about a game between the Rockets and the Hornets sometime proximal to Thanksgiving.  I can recall exactly two things about that In-Season Tournament:

  1. The Lakers won it.
  2. The games were played on garishly painted courts making them immediately distinguishable from an ordinary regular season game.

That’s it; that’s what I recall; that’s the list.

So, let me suggest here a way to create some meaning for some of the games featuring bottom feeding teams.  Let us be candid here; in the 2024 season, the hopes and aspirations for the Pistons, Wizards, Hornets, Blazers and Spurs de-materialized sometime around Thanksgiving 2023.  They were playing only to decide how many – – or how few – – ping pong balls they would have in the lottery drawing for the first pick in this year’s draft.  None of these teams or their fanbases could have thought that any of these five teams would be “making noise” in late April 2024 let alone in June 2024.

However, playing for ping pong ball population in a jazzed up popcorn machine does not get fans’ juices flowing, so let me offer a “Secondary Post-Season Tournament”.  Instead of ping-pong balls determining draft order, let teams decide it on the court.  Ten teams in the league do not make the play-in round to the “Championship Playoffs”.  So give them some post-season action of their own where the more you win the better your draft pick.

The “Secondary Post-Season Tournament” – – please don’t call it the Booby-Prize Tournament – – could be single elimination, double elimination or best of three series; I think I prefer double elimination but it is not a strong conviction.  The idea here is that the top draft picks are determined on the court so there is no longer any advantage to “tanking” a season which happens despite the NBA’s protestations.

  • [Aside:  I know that having ten teams in the “Secondary Tournament” makes for awkward scheduling, so perhaps you increase the play-in round for the “Championship Tournament” from ten teams per conference to eleven teams per conference?]

Such a secondary post-season tournament has two advantages:

  1. It makes late season games for teams that have no real way to make the “Champiionship Playoffs” into something meaningful that might be worth following for fans.
  2. It incentivizes winning games in the “Secondary Post-Season Tournament” to win those games and not tank them since it is the winners who benefit directly from the game outcomes.

Finally, if you don’t like my suggested “fix” for this NBA problem, you might enjoy this words from “Mythbuster” Adam Savage:

“I have some ideas on how to fix that.  They’re not very good ideas; but at least, they are ideas!”

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



Fixing Before It Breaks …

Bert Lance was a senior advisor in the Carter Administration and this axiom is attributed to him:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In the main, Mr. Lance and I are in agreement.  Where I might deviate slightly is in a situation where something is not “broke”, but it is also not in the best of condition.  In such a circumstance, I am not averse to fixing something before it breaks.  And that brings me to the NBA…

It was not that long ago when the NBA was alleged to be the model sporting endeavor in the US.

  • Its players were highly recognized and generally admired.
  • Its growth rate in terms of TV audiences and sponsorships was half-again as much as the NFL.
  • The NBA was the “hot growth stock” among the sporting entities in the US.

Such is not the case in 2024; I do not mean to imply that the NBA is on the verge of a collapse; it is not.  At the same time, the league and the “insiders” who would never say something negative or dire about the league need to take a deep breath and begin to think about a couple of things.

  1. The “franchise faces” for the NBA are aging out of relevancy quickly.  The world no longer waits breathlessly for any pearls of wisdom to be dispensed by LeBron James; Steph Curry is still the plucky little crowd-pleaser but his game is not nearly what it was pre-COVID; Kevin Durant has about worn out his welcome; James Harden and Russell Westbrook evoke as many negative feelings as positive ones.
  2. The NBA’s television presence is starting to look like a house of cards.  Traditionally, the NBA dominated Christmas Day with a quadruple or quintuple header of good games.  No longer…  In 2022, Christmas fell on a Sunday and the NBA played games then and dominated the TV ratings.  Bad news for the NBA here; in 2023, the NFL decided to expand its Monday coverage because Christmas was on Monday.  Basically, the median NFL audience on that day was about the size of the total audience for all five NBA games.

Who are the replacements for the NBA’s aging “franchise faces”?

  • Wemby?  Maybe someday, but I doubt many folks would recognize a “mug shot” of him where his 7’ 4” stature is not revealed.
  • Anthony Edwards?  He is indeed an exciting player, but I wonder how many fans realize that this is his 4th year in the NBA.
  • Luka Doncic?  No …
  • Nikola Jokic?  Perhaps the best player in the world today, but not nearly the face of the league.
  • Jayson Tatum?  Meh …
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?  An emerging star with an engaging personality on camera, he might just be the NBA’s “heir apparent”.

The fact of the matter is that in the world of basketball today – – in April 2024 – -, the player who moves the needle in terms of fan interest is in the WNBA not the NBA.  The force majeure in basketball is Caitlin Clark and people can mythologize about her all they want, but she cannot play in the NBA.  At the same time, there is no one in the NBA under the age of 25 who has the same “draw” as Clark does and no one coming to the league as a rookie in the Fall of 2024 is nearly as recognizable or as magnetic.

I think it is useful for the NBA to try to figure out why it is the case that Caitlin Clark is the focus factor that she is.  And here is my starting hypothesis:

  • Caitlin Clark will arrive at the training camp of the Indiana Fever as an “established brand”.
  • Sports fans know her, know about her; and many have seen her play.  [Aside:  The Iowa/South Carolina championship game for the women’s tournament a couple of weeks ago had a TV audience more than double what any regular season NBA game drew.  Let that sink in …]
  • Reports say that Nike has given her a $28M promotional deal.  Nike does not hand out money of that proportion to just anyone; Nike is a brand and Nike recognizes the value of partnering with “another brand.”

About 5 years ago, LaVar Ball was omnipresent in every form of the media spouting off some outrageous stuff.  In the envelope of his perorations, however, there was a nugget of solid truth.  He pointed out that when his oldest son was about to be drafted into the NBA that the teams and the league did not know how to deal with Lonzo and LaVar because they were arriving in the league as an “established brand.”  They already had a shoe deal; they were selling their own shoes!

  • Think now about all the players who will be eligible for the NBA Draft this year and name me the player who is already an “established brand”; I’ll hang up and listen for the answer…

I began today saying that sometimes you need to fix things to prevent them from becoming totally broken.  By now, you are wondering what the fix is here.  Well, I have a suggested starting point.

  • Players need to sit out at least one year after their high school graduation before they can enter the NBA.  The CBA between the NBA and the NBPA demands that.
  • Instead of drafting all those “one-and-done aspirants”, the NBA should identify a half-dozen or so players who have the game and the presence/personality to become a focal point for the NBA’s fans and the NBA should pay them “NIL money” to stay in college and to play college basketball for two more years before “graduating” to the NBA.
  • The league will not bat 1.000 in this endeavor, but it will bring more players to the league who are already “established brands” than is the case now.

The current situation is not dire, but it is not positive either.  I think this NBA problem can be identified and should be addressed.   Maybe there are better ideas than mine out there; if so, they should come forth because this is not a situation that will cure itself.

It ain’t broke, but it could stand some fixing…

I’ll have some more suggestions for NBA improvements tomorrow.

Finally, let me close today with this observation by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert:

“Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.”

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



2024 NFL Pre-Draft Analyhsis

For people who have recently joined this caravan of sports, let me explain what the followiing is – – and is not.

  • It is not a “Mock Draft”.  Those are stupid.
  • It is not a “scouting report”.  I am not a scout.
  • It has no “inside information”.  I am not an “insider”.
  • It has no “film analysis”.  I have no access to “film”.

I am a college football fan who watches college football on TV because I like it.  I keep a notepad next to me while watching and make notes about players I see during games who – – I believe – – might become decent NFL players someday.  Just prior to the NFL Draft – – it begins tomorrow night at 8:00 PM EDT – – I dig up my notes and post them here.

There is a clear bias to what follows.

  • I live in the Eastern Time Zone; my focus on teams from the east and mid-west has nothing to do with “west coast/east coast bias”; it has to do with games on my TV when I am likely to be tuned in.
  • I watch the “good games” involving good teams preferentially.  So, I rarely tune in to watch much of the action in the MAC or the Sun Belt conferences.
  • [Aside:  I did tune into some James Madison games last year because they are relatively new to Division 1-A football and were doing very well for that status.  Also, they are “nearby” in Northern Virginia …]
  • I may have only seen a team play once in a season so I can easily miss a real prospect if he missed the game or did not do anything that caught my eye.
  • I will list players alphabetically by position lest anyone try to infer some sort of ordering among them which is absolutely not intended.

So, with that as prelude, let me begin with quarterbacks in this draft.  As a note to all the comments that follow for quarterbacks, I have begun to change my views on the importance of “arm strength”; I believe I over-rated it in the past.  In the NFL today, it seems that QBs are asked to “layer” their throws more often than they are asked to “power the ball” to a receiver.  What I mean by “layering” is the QB must throw the ball over the hands of a linebacker dropping into coverage to a receiver who is breaking in front of a defensive back.  That sort of throw takes “touch” to a greater extent than it takes “arm strength”.  In the current NFL, I think a QB needs both skills.

  • Jayden Daniels – LSU: “Agile, mobile and fast” is my primary comment here.  I also noted “they ask him to throw long a lot” because he does that well.  My bottom line was “has to be a first-round pick near the top of the draft”.
  • Drake Maye – UNC:  He “throws a great long ball” and is very accurate.  He is a “strong runner but not elite speed”.  “First round” was my summary note.
  • JJ McCarthy – Michigan: “Accurate passer” and someone who “finds open receivers”.  He is “not very big” and that might hurt him in the NFL.  I said, “second or third round”.  [Aside:  Current thinking seems to have him much more highly rated than I had him last Fall.]
  • Bo Nix (Oregon): “Good size” and “accurate passer” are my positive notes here; “not quick or fast” is my negative note.  “Third round?” was my guess back in November/December…
  • Michael Penix (Washington): “Big and strong but not very mobile “and “throws long ball accurately” summarize my view of Michael Penix.  I also noted “strange throwing motion but it works for him”.  I said second round…
  • Spencer Rattler (S. Carolina): “Not as big as some other QBs” but he has “big arm and accurate touch passer too”.  My concern is “forces passes into coverage – – plays like Bret Favre without Favre’s arm.”  My summary was “developmental project – 4th or 5th round?”
  • Caleb Williams (USC): “Best plays are broken plays” and “looks to run/ad-lib very quickly”.  He is an “elite athlete” and “has to go in the Top 5 of the Draft”.

Moving on to running backs.  I think a back’s blocking ability tends to be underrated by “Draft Pundits” so some of my comments here may not correlate with the comments of others.

  • Braelon Allen (Wisconsin): “Big power runner who can block DEs effectively”.  He is “not real fast” he is a “grinder”.  I said second round…
  • Trey Benson (Florida St.): “Slashing runner” “hard to tackle” “usually gets yards after contact” are my positive notes.  “Not active as a blocker” is my negative note.  “Third round?” was my guess.
  • Jonathon Brooks (Texas): “Big powerful runner” with “good hands as a receiver” are his plusses.  “Ineffective blocker on runs and on pass plays” is a negative.  “Late round pick” was my bottom line.
  • Blake Corum (Michigan): “Reminds me of Darren Sproles”, “quick to the hole” and “gets yards after contact” are all good news.  He is short and was not used a lot in the passing games I saw so I don’t know how “versatile” he might be in the NFL.  My notes say, “second or third round”.
  • Tyrone Tracy (Purdue): “Screen graphic says 5’ 11” and 220 lbs. – – he looks bigger than that”.  “Used as kick returner”, “good hands on pass plays” and quick runner.  He is “not super-fast” and “blocking is sketchy” made me guess “fourth or fifth round”.

Moving on to the wide receivers … I have several guys on this list who might be excellent NFL contributors for quite a while.

  • Keon Coleman (Florida St.)  “Big and tall with excellent hands” but “maybe not top-shelf speed” made me think he was a “second round pick”.\
  • Marvin Harrison, Jr. (Ohio St.):  I said here I thought he should have won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football last year.  My notes on him say “always open”, “great hands”, great size” and “has to be a Top 5 pick”.
  • John Jiles (Western Florida – Division II): Obviously, I did not see him play but I got an email from a reader who said I should include him in my listing because he “plays under control and still gets open every time they call a play to him.”  The email says he is 6’ 2” and weighs 205 lbs.  Now you know what I know about him…
  • Xavier Legette (S. Carolina): “Big man with good hands” and “good-enough speed”.  “Catches whatever hits his hands”.  I said, “second round, maybe third”.
  • Malik Nabors (LSU): “Not very tall but breakaway speed and great hands”.  “First round” was my thinking.
  • Rome Odunze (Washington): “Most acrobatic WR I can remember” and “tall but a bit skinny” made me think he was a “second round pick?”  [Aside:  It seems that current evaluations have him much more positively reviewed than I did.]
  • Devontez Walker (UNC): “Speed ball – runs by defenders” and “good height and good hands” were positive notes.  “Don’t seem to call his number often” made me wonder why.  “Mid-rounds?”
  • Xavier Worthy (Texas): “Little guy but really fast”, serious deep threat receiver” and a “willing/active punt/kick returner”.  Small stature makes me think “third or fourth round”.

Next up will be the tight ends.

  • Erick All (Iowa): “Big man who is a power blocker for run plays” and “good hands when they throw the ball to him”.  He is “not fast” but “gets yardage after contact.”  I said, “fourth or fifth round.”
  • Brock Bowers (Georgia): “Does it all” and “can’t miss prospect” lead to my bottom-line comment “first round for sure”.
  • Theo Johnson (Penn St.):  Screen graphic says “6’ 6” and 260 lbs. and I believe it.”  “Not super-fast” but “good hands on short passes over the middle.”  He is a “decent blocker on run plays”.  He is “a project” who should go in the “later rounds.”
  • Ja’Tavion Sanders (Texas): “Big guy with good speed and good hands” is the positive note.  “Cannot or will not block” is a negative.  “Late round pick” because of his potential.

Now is the time for the offensive linemen.  I generally do not try to distinguish between the positions on the OL since NFL teams move people around from slot to slot on the line.

  • Joe Alt (Notre Dame): “A very large human being” he “blocks well on pass plays and on run plays.”  “Not very athletic” but “he can anchor an OL for a long time”.  “First round for sure” was my assessment.
  • Kiran Amegadjie (Yale):  Saw him in one of the All-Star Games and was impressed by his “quickness’ and his “size” coming from an Ivy League team.  “Worth a shot in the late rounds.”
  • Graham Barton (Duke): “Strong power blocker” who “stays on blocks in pass protection.”  “Not very fast” is “probably an inside lineman in NFL”.  “Later rounds pick.”
  • Olumuyiwa Fashanu (Penn St.): “Very quick for someone so big” and “better pass blocker than run blocker” are my comments.  “Mid rounds” was my guess.  [Aside:  It seems as if folks today have him ranked higher than I did.]
  • Tyler Guyton (Oklahoma): “Huge frame” and “crushes people in the running game”.  “First round probably”.
  • JC Latham (Alabama): “Superb run blocker” and “good not great pass blocker”.  Should go in “Round 1 or 2.”
  • Hunter Nourzad (Penn St.): “Good pulling blocker on run plays to the outside” and “good enough on pass blocking”.  “Should be a mid-round pick.”
  • Zak Zinter (Michigan): “Power blocker in run game and pass game”.  “Neither quick nor fast” his game is “all strength/hand-to-hand combat.”  “Mid rounds?”

It is time to shift over to the defense and I’ll start with the defensive tackles.

  • Braden Fiske (Florida St.): “Excellent interior pass pressure”.  He is “quick and athletic” and “decent against the run.”  Bottom line was “third round?”
  • Marcus Harris (Auburn):  I only saw him in an All-Star game where he was dominant.  I have no idea how he played in the regular season, but I have only seen his name mentioned once or twice in this entire “draft season”.  Will the real Marcus Harris please stand up?  [Hat Tip to “To Tell the Truth”]
  • Kris Jenkins (Michigan): “Big body that stops runs in the middle of the line” but “not a lot of interior pass pressure”.  “Round 4?”
  • Maason Smith (LSU): “Good size, good quickness, good hustle.”  “Like his pass pressure from the inside”.  Might go in second round or third.”
  • T’Vondre Sweat (Texas): “Run stuffer in the middle” but “not great inside pass rushing” led me to guess “fourth round or so?”

Now for some defensive ends:

  • Chris Braswell (Alabama): “Good speed on pass rush attempts” but “can be run against” limits his draft potential.  His “Alabama pedigree” will help his draft position so maybe “second round?”
  • Adisa Issac (Penn St.):  Screen graphic says he is 250 lbs. which is “small for a DE in the NFL” but he is “ferocious as a pass rusher” and “takes on blocks well against the run.”  If he can “add weight without losing speed?” he can be a productive DE in the NFL.  “Worth a third or fourth round pick.”
  • Cedrick Johnson (Ole Miss): “Solid pass rusher” who “needs work against the run”.  “Late round pick”
  • Chop Robinson (Penn St.): “Another 250 lb. DE…”  “Very fast” and “very athletic”.  “Should go earlier than teammate Adisa Issac but not in first round.”
  • Jared Verse (Florida St.): “Very quick, a dangerous pass rusher” he “also plays the run actively”.  “Second round?”

It is time for some linebackers

  • Tommy Eichenberg (Ohio St.): “Good inside run defender” who “has speed to cover backs out of the backfield”.  “Big hitter” who should “go in Round 2.”
  • Cedric Grey (UNC): “Violent tackler” with “enough speed to play outside runs and inside runs.”  “Not a good coverage guy in passing game” is a negative comment.  Late rounds?
  • Jordan Magee (Temple):  His name came to me from a Temple alum.  According to my “informant”, Magee is “a terror when he blitzes”.  My reaction is that Hassan Reddick went to Temple, and he too was a terror when he blitzed.  Hmmm …
  • Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. (Clemson):  He “has the right genes to play inside linebacker” and “has enough speed to play outside runs and to blitz”.  Like his father, he will “make an impact when he tackles”.  “Third round, maybe?”
  • Dallas Turner (Alabama): “Outstanding pass rush and speed” but “will need to diversify his moves in the NFL.”  “Very athletic and plays all over the field”.  “First round pick for sure.”
  • Trevin Wallace (Kentucky):  I only saw him in an All-Star Game where he showed “excellent speed for a LB” and he “made several tackles for a loss”.  I have no idea where he might be drafted.

Now the cornerbacks

  • Terrion Arnold (Alabama): “Good size” but not “top speed”.  He “always seems to know where the ball is going”.  “Second round”.
  • Cooper DeJean (Iowa):  He is “always around the ball” and a “good pass defender and a good run defender.”  “Wonder if he is a better safety than corner in the NFL?”  “Should go first round.”
  • Cam Hart (Notre Dame): “Good size; good in coverage and good tackler.”  “Not a first-round pick but should go soon after that.”
  • Kalen King (Penn St.): “Excellent run defender” and “big hitter on receivers”.  “Looks a bit small; needs to put on some muscle for the NFL.” “Later rounds.”
  • Kamari Lassiter (Georgia): “Long and lean – will need to add muscle for the NFL”  “Instinctive and always near the ball.”  “Fast enough”.  “Third round?”
  • Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama): “Good size and excellent speed.”  Seems he “uses his speed to catch up to receivers who beat him to get open temporarily.”  “Plays with an edge.”  “First or second round pick.”  [Aside:  If my first name was “Ga’Quincy”, I too would adopt a nickname like “Kool-Aid”]
  • Nate Wiggins (Clemson): “Good size and good speed.”  “Covers well but not aggressive against the run.”  “Should be gone by the end of Round 2.”

Here are some safeties that caught my eye.

  • Daijahn Anthony (Ole Miss): “Effective on blitzes even if he does not get a sack” and “good size and sure tackler.”  Third round pick.
  • Josh Proctor (Ohio St.): “Like his height and speed” but “needs to add bulk to play safety in the NFL” “Late round pick”.
  • Tykee Smith (Georgia): “Good tackler and good-enough speed for coverage.”  “May need to add some muscle for NFL” but “instincts are good.” Third round.

Here are two punters for whom I made notes.  [Aside:  Both punters here are built like linebackers …]

  • Tory Taylor (Iowa):  He is listed as 6’ 4” and 225 lbs.  “Punts are long and high” he creates “lots of fair catches.”  Stats for last year say he averaged 48.2 yards per punt.
  • Porter Wilson (Duke):  He is listed as 6’ 5” and 230 lbs.  “Plenty of hang time here”.  Stats for last year say he averaged 46.9 yards per punt.

The only kicker I made notes on was …

  • Will Reichard (Alabama):  Not only can he kick for distance, but his accuracy is also excellent – – “field goals and PATs go right down the middle.”

So, there you have unsolicited comments on about 60 players for the NFL Draft that begins tomorrow.  You will note the lack of “coverage” for minor conferences except for one last note that comes from my watching James Madison University in a game last year.

  • Jamre Kromah – DE – (James Madison): “Dominated the line of scrimmage making several tackles for a loss”.  “Might need to add bulk to be a DL in the NFL but maybe a linebacker?”  Worth a late round shot in the dark.”

Finally, the NFL Draft is all about hope for the future.  Sometimes, that hope is fulfilled for fans; other times, not so much.  So, let me close with this observation about “Hope” by Nietzche:

“Hope in reality is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torments of man.”

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



Economics Vs. Sociology

There is a hue and cry about in the land.  It seems as if some folks have just discovered that London is the capital of England, and they are appalled that such a thing might be allowed to continue to be the case.  Cries of righteous indignation are everywhere.  What has caused this mass case of agita, you ask?

  • The contract that Caitlin Clark will get l;in year one from the Indiana Fever of the WNBA is less than 10% of what the lowest paid player in the NBA will get.
  • That revelation has alerted sensitive folks across the land to the issue of pay inequities in professional sports.
  • And … those sensitive folks do not like this at all!

</Sarcasm> I am not here to champion unequal pay for male athletes because they are males; that makes no sense and is indeed offensive.  I am here to explain why this situation exists and why protesting is not going to change it.

Using professional basketball as the test case – – since it is the Caitlin Clark contract that has generated all this stomach acid – – the fundamental basis for the different salary levels between the NBA and the WNBA can be summarized in a single word:


The current CBA for the WNBA can be viewed here.  The part of the CBA dealing with team salary caps begins on page 70 if you are interested in reading it; the cap for a year depends on the value of the contracts from previous years; it is complicated but the previously existing small contracts factor into the team salary cap.  This is the CBA negotiated in 2020 which is supposed to extend to 2027; it is not a remnant of times when women were denied voting rights.

The current CBA for the NBA attaches salary cap numbers to annual revenues for the league; you need not be a math genius to see how the NBA numbers can explode when revenues go up significantly – – and indeed that is just what the cap numbers have done.  The NBA TV deal is worth more than $50B over the lifetime of the deal.  The WNBA TV deal brought in about $200M last year.

Teams in both leagues operate with the hope that they can turn a profit.  Players’ salaries are a major cost factor for teams in both leagues and the fact of the matter is that more revenue available to the owners/teams/league means more can be spent on players’ salaries.  These teams are not like the US Government that can spend money it does not have for extended periods of time with little to no consequences; do not merely compare player’s salaries between the two leagues; compare the revenues as well.

Here is the question I would love to have verified:

  • How many of the purveyors of righteous indignation about salary inequities have paid $34.99 (that’s the total cost) to buy the WNBA League Pass giving the holder access to about 150 WNBA games nationally?  Selling League Passes increases revenue…
  • Then, in addition, how many of those same observers of pay inequity are going to watch all those games in order to drive audience numbers through the roof to the point that advertisers will pay top-shelf money to networks that air WNBA games?  That is where the big money is; the WNBA – – in economic terms – – is a television series and the value of that series is directly proportional to the number of eyeballs that watch the series episodes.

The reason I would want to know about how many activists and commentators are doing these things is that these are constructive ways to increase the salary levels for WNBA players.  These actions – to include buying a few tickets and seeing a few games in person – will improve the status quo.  However, they will not bring any real notoriety to the folks who undertake the constructive approach…

Let me be clear.  From a sociological standpoint the idea of equal pay for equal work is a proper one.  If Joe Flabeetz retires as the CEO of National Veeblefetzer and is replaced by Suzie Glotz, then Suzie Glotz should be paid what Joe Flabeetz was paid for doing the same job.  But the WNBA pay situation is not a sociological situation; it is an economic situation.  Let me compare Joe Flabeetz and Suzie Glotz in a different light:

  • Joe Flabeetz is the CEO of a manufacturing corporation that has gross revenue of $10B annually and has a profit margin of 10% after paying all other costs and salaries.  Joe makes $50M a year for his efforts.
  • Suzie Glotz is the CEO of a manufacturing corporation that has gross revenue of $100M and has a profit margin of 10% too.  But Suzie’s corporation cannot pay her $50M because that would be half of the corporation’s gross revenue for the year.  They are doing the “same job” but the revenues of the two entities are significantly different.

Yes, I have concocted the two examples but there is an important lesson to be gleaned from them.  If Suzie Glotz ran the big corporation and Joe Flabeetz ran the smaller corporation, then it would be Suzie who should get the bigger payday.  There is the sociological aspect of the equal pay concept at work; the economic aspect is the reality that the smaller corporation simply cannot spend that kind of money on a CEO and hope to stay in business very long.

Caitlin Clark’s minuscule rookie salary in the WNBA as compared to whomever is drafted #1 in the next NBA Draft is not the result of misogyny nor is it yet another example of the exploitation of women in our society.  The smaller salary reflects the very real – – and verifiable – – difference in the revenues generated by the WNBA as compared to the NBA.  And here is just one data point to show that this ought not be a “gender issue”:

  • Caitlin Clark will make $76K as a WNBA rookie next year; the National lacrosse League is a male-dominated entity, and players there make between $10K and $35K per year.
  • It is not about gender; it’s about Revenue.

Finally, I said above that the “TV rights” for the WNBA was an important element for the economic success of the league; so, let me close with this view of television by comedian Fred Allen:

“Television is a device that permits people who haven’t anything to do to watch people who can’t do anything.”

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



More College Football Turmoil

Yesterday was about the potential for helter-skelter situations in college football as schools switch conferences and conferences keep expanding.  That is not the only nexus of chaos in college football; today I want to focus on two other ongoing issues.  The first issue involves NCAA athletes, the NCAA itself, the Congress of the United States and the fifty States that comprise the United States.  What could possibly go wrong?

The underlying “problem” that needs “resolution” here is how to regulate the ways and means by which college athletes can be compensated for the use of their name, image and/or likeness (NIL).  The current status is that various states have passed various pieces of legislation trying to regulate this mess; it should be no surprise to learn that all those varying State laws are not the same.  The NCAA as an institution has all but admitted publicly that this problem is way too complex for them to handle; and so, conference commissioners and coaches and even a couple of university presidents have said there needs to be Congressional action.

It seems like a week does not go by where some Congressthing and/or Senator introduces a bill that nominally has bipartisan support to clean up this situation.  Surprise once again; all those introduced bills are different one from another.  The most pragmatic noise I have heard regarding this situation came from Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) who said that there was no hope of any congressional legislative action unless and until the colleges themselves all get behind a single bill.  That sounds simple and obvious; that also sounds like something that will be a bone of contention among various school groups and something that could test the wisdom of Solomon.

I have no interest in the machinations and horse-trading that will have to happen to get schools on board behind a single set of objectives or that will have to happen to get legislation through the House and the Senate.  But I do have a couple of ideas for foundational pieces that being in any legislation of this kind, and I will offer them here at no cost to anyone:

  • Transparency: The NIL deals between an athlete and a “commercial partner” should be public record.  Athletes can be paid for being athletes at the collegiate level these days; there should be no under-the-table money.
  • Limitations: While I have no personal reason to want to limit the kinds of sponsorships athletes can accept, I recognize that there might be some linkages that need to be out of bounds.  Athletes should not be allowed to accept money from hate groups for example; athletes at church-related schools might have to accept that they cannot endorse pornographic websites.  This will be a thorny area, but I think it must be included.
  • School Funding: When NIL money flows to athletes via the school they are attending, the school must pay into a fund that will be used exclusively to pay for health insurance for the athletes for a period of time after the athlete uses up his/her eligibility.  Call this the Readjustment to Real Life Fund if you will. Schools derived benefit(s) from the athlete; this is a way for the school to ease the athlete into the real world.
  • Stability: NIL deals should be for more than one year in duration.  They need not be for four or five years, but they should be for more than one.  AND, if the athlete chooses to transfer prior to the end of an NIL contract, he/she owes a portion of the already collected funds back to the source of the funding.

The overarching danger I see here is that this sort of legislation will create some sort of US Government oversight entity and that entity will do what every regulatory/oversight entity does – – it will make rules and regulations.  The potential here is for this new entity to create a rule book that equals or exceeds the one the NCAA has had for years that runs to multiple hundreds of pages – – and it only deals with things like recruiting.

Be afraid; be very afraid …

The other college football issue for today demonstrates to me two things:

  1. Some college athletes are not that bright.
  2. Some college football players believe that “the rules” do not apply to them.

A bunch of athletes in Iowa – – at both Iowa and Iowa State – – have been suspended from their teams and face legal action for betting on college sports.  I have said here before that I think the NCAA’s rules on athletes gambling on sports are overly restrictive.  The NCAA makes it improper for a college football player to bet on the World Series because the NCAA also offers college baseball.  By extension, it would also be improper for a college baseball player to bet on the FIFA Women’s World Cup because the NCAA also oversees women’s soccer.  I think that is just plain stupid.

However, some of the suspended players in Iowa did not merely cross the line into Stupid Land, they went barreling into that territory with guns blazing.

  • Two players stand accused of betting on games in which they participated.  When I was a kid and I did something stupid – – at least twice a week – – my father would tell me, “You must be twins because no one person can be that dumb.” Well, I think that statement applies to any athlete who bets on a game they play in.
  • Another player demonstrated that he knew what he was doing was not the right thing because he is accused of using his mother’s name to conceal his identity as the one making the wager.
  • A former Iowa State defensive end, Enyi Uwazurike, is implicated in this matter from his time at Iowa State.  I guess he thought this sort of behavior was okey-dokey because he left Iowa State and was drafted by the Denver Broncos.  Yes, he has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for – – you guessed it – – violation the NFL gambling policy/rules.

The good news is that all this came to light and that there is no reason at the moment to conclude that any of the wagering activity threatened the integrity of any actual games.  Moreover, it is a good thing that this is being given media attention because that might be an object lesson to athletes at other schools regarding the impropriety of such behavior(s).  This good news can be minimized, however, if there are not severe punishments handed out here.  If the only punishment is to make these miscreants take some sort of personal ethics seminar that lasts 4 days, the message sent will devolve to:

  • “It’s the wrong thing to do, but it’s no big deal.”

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



College Conference Musical Chairs

I want to wade into “college football” today and some of this may spill over into tomorrow.  I have already commented on the move by Colorado from the PAC-12 to the Big-12 and speculated on the possibility that the Big-12 might want to poach the other three so-called “Four Corner schools”.  A headline yesterday at made me sit up and take notice; it said that the Big-10 might have its expansionary eye on:

  • Cal
  • Oregon
  • Stanford
  • Washington.

I can quickly understand why the Big-10would be interested in Cal, Stanford and Washington.  Those three schools are located in large TV markets and the big money in college football comes from TV revenues.  “More money” is a powerful motivator.  San Francisco is the 10th largest TV market in the US and Seattle is the 12th largest.  However, the inclusion of Oregon on this list is interesting.

Over the past 10-15 years, Oregon has been a solid football program.  Since the arrival of Chip Kelly in 2009, Oregon has been to the Rose Bowl 4 times and played in the National Championship Game in 2014.  But Eugene Oregon is a flyspeck of a TV market; it ranks 119th in the US, one spot ahead of Macon, GA and six spots below Fargo, ND.

Meanwhile, there is a current PAC-12 team in a very large TV market not on this speculative list.  That would be Arizona State sitting in the middle of the Phoenix, AZ TV market which is sandwiched right between San Francisco and Seattle.  So, let me assume that the headline and report from yesterday is correct; what might that mean in terms of the thought processes ongoing in Big-10 HQs:

  • The conference wants the better team/program (Oregon) because it feels it already has three large TV markets on the West Coast covered?
  • The Big-10 knows or thinks that the Big-12 has the origins of a deal in place already with Arizona State and does not want to get into a bidding war?
  • Arizona State does not want to go anywhere without Arizona and the Big-10 is not willing to take Arizona at the expense of Cal, Stanford and/or Washington?

Any or all those questions could be in play here; that would be grist for a discussion among people who cover college football closely – – not a faux debate among people who yell at one another on TV.  But no matter the consensus that might arise regarding the behind-the-scenes machinations here, one thing is clear to me:

  • The Pac-12 will cease to exist if Cal, Stanford, Washington and one other school go elsewhere.

I find it interesting that the PAC-12 used to be the “poacher” here and is now the “poachee”.  The Big-12 originated in the mid-1990s when what used to be the Big Eight absorbed 4 teams from the old Southwest Conference; Colorado was one of the founding members of the Big-12 in those days and in 2010, the PAC-12 lured the Buffaloes away from the Big-12.  At the time, there were rumors all over the place that Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would follow Colorado to a new conference home and that the PAC-12 or PAC-14 would be a dominant force in college football forever and a day.  In addition, that would have been the death knell for the Big-12 which also lost Texas A&M to the SEC and Nebraska to the Big-10.

Texas turned down the invitation by the PAC-12 because it has its own TV network – – Longhorn Network – – and the PAC-12 TV deal would have forced Texas to shut that down.  When Texas opted out, so did the two Oklahoma schools and the PAC-12 settled for Utah in addition to Colorado giving the conference an even number of teams.  No matter how you slice that cake, adding Utah when there was the potential to add Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is settling for crumbs; and it seems as if the PAC-12 never got past that gut-punch.

The other interesting about-face here is that the Big-12 survived a PAC-12 onslaught in 2010 and maintained itself as part of the so-called “Power-5” since then.  But once again, the Big-12 had to scramble because Texas and Oklahoma will be leaving to join the SEC in another year; those have been the flagship programs of the Big-12 and folks wondered if it could survive.  The conference has expanded itself; its additions have not been blueblood programs like Texas or Oklahoma, but they are widespread across the country from West Virginia to Colorado to Houston to Iowa State.  Can it survive in that condition?  Time will tell, but I like the Big-12’s chances for survival better than the PAC-12’s chances as of today.

So, four of the five so-called “Power 5” have been participants in the game of conference musical chairs recently:

  • The Big-10 added USC and UCLA
  • The SEC added Texas and Oklahoma
  • The Big-12 added schools from lower conferences and Colorado
  • The PAC-12 lost Colorado

And while all this was going on, the ACC stood pat – – which is interesting simply because everyone else is behaving differently.  The next big change in the revenue stream for college football is going to be the expansion of the College Football Playoffs from 4 teams to 12 teams.  I am not a TV marketing guy, but if March Madness brings $1B to the NCAA every year, I have to suspect that the TV rights for the 11 college football playoff games will bring half again as much or $1.5B  How that money will be shared among conferences is still TBD – – but it sure will be better to be perceived as a solid member of the football hierarchy than not.  You may not think it’s fair, but the SEC and the Big-10 are going to get more money from that deal than will the Sun Belt Conference; bet on it.

So, what is the ACC thinking here?

  • We can’t leapfrog either the Big-10 or the SEC in football relevance so let us just sit back and maintain ourselves as one of the “Power Players”?
  • Our ACC Network is not the biggest one in the country, but we are on the air in enough major markets to keep it and the conference afloat.  So, we need not dilute its viability by expanding to a far-flung outpost with no ACC ties or tradition?

Now, all of this gets tied up in the still-evolving nature of Name, Image and Likeness regulation which is a topic for tomorrow.  So, consider this topic  “To Be Continued”.

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



NFL Draft 2023 – – Pre-Draft Analysis

I am going to be out of the country without a computer when the NFL Draft happens this year, so I am doing my annual Pre-Draft compilation a bit earlier than usual. Let me do a reset for newcomers:

  • I watch a lot of college football on TV, and I keep a notepad beside me, and I make notes about players I see that I think can play at the NFL level.
  • Then, before the Draft, I gather up my notes and try to decipher my less-than-easily-legible handwriting.
  • I have no inside information here; these are just my opinions from games on TV.  So, I may have seen a team play but not have any notes about one of that team’s best players because I did not notice him.  Or maybe he missed the game due to injury.  The sampling of the universe of college football players is not exhaustive.

As I was collating my notes from last Fall, I notice that I was very restrictive in the games I watched; in previous years, my viewing preferences included all the Power 5 conferences and some weeknight peeks at the other conferences.  Last year, most of my viewing was SEC, Big 10 and ACC; I must be getting picky in my old age…

There is a lot of emphasis on QBs at or near the top of the Draft.  Fortunately for me, I actually saw most of the guys who are getting that sort of coverage; so, I’ll begin with the QBs:

  1. Stetson Bennett – Georgia: “Great college QB but I don’t think he can play in the NFL”.
  2. Malik Cunningham – Louisville: “Mobile” and “accurate thrower” but I think he is “too small” for the NFL.
  3. Max Duggan – TCU: “Big and strong” but “not accurate on deep throws”
  4. Will Levis – Kentucky:  He is “big and strong”, and he seems “like a fastball pitcher”.  He is “surprisingly quick” for such a big guy.
  5. Anthony Richardson – Florida:  He is “big and fast”.  Reminds me of Randall Cunningham including lack of accuracy on passes at the same young age.  Needs to learn to put some “touch” on short passes.  “May need a year or two as an understudy” but worth a high pick.
  6. CJ Stroud – Ohio St.:  He has a “quick release” and is “accurate on deep throws”.  He is a “first round pick for sure”.
  7. Bryce Young – Alabama:  He “reminds me of Jalen Hurts” from years ago before Hurts added lots of muscle.  “Very instinctive player”.

Let me turn to the RBs next:

  1. Israel Abanikanda – Pitt: “Very elusive” with “excellent acceleration” and “tough enough to run inside.”  [Aside: He broke a school record held by Tony Dorsett for most yards rushing in a game.]
  2. Devin Achane – Texas A&M:  He is not a “big back” but he “runs well on the outside.”  My notes say “Mid-round pick”.
  3. Tank Bigsby – Auburn: “Power runner” always “falls forward for the extra yard”.
  4. Zach Charbonnet – UCLA: “Runs well inside” and “fights for extra yards”.  He has “decent speed” and “blocks well”.  “Mid-round pick”
  5. Jahmyr Gibbs – Alabama: “Speed merchant”.  “Second round?”
  6. Bijan Robinson – Texas: “Very fast” and “big enough”.  His pass blocking is “adequate”, but he is a “good receiver”.  Not a lot of running backs go in the first round these days, but this guy might be an exception.

Next up, let me do the TEs – – which will be brief this year:

  1. Michael Mayer – Notre Dame: “Big and fast with soft hands”.  He “needs to work on his blocking”.  “Probably second round.”
  2. Brenton Strange – Penn St.: “Excellent blocker on running plays”.  “Not super-fast but catches well”.  He could be a “steal in later rounds.”

The best WR I saw in college last year – – Marvin Harrison Jr, – – is not eligible for the draft this year, but here are some WRs that caught my eye:

  1. Josh Downs – UNC: “Little guy” who “gets open most of the time”.  He “also returns punts”.  However, his blocking is “non-existent”.  Second round or maybe third?
  2. Bryce Ford-Wheaton – West Virginia:  This is a “BIG WR” who runs after the catch.  “Good blocker” and “good enough speed”. Third round?
  3. Malik Heath – Mississippi St: “Good hands” and “fast enough”.  “Gets very open on intermediate routes; is that due to Mike Leach’s offense?”  Worth a shot late in the draft.
  4. Jalin Hyatt – Tennessee: “Pure speed” with “good hands”.  He should go in the “first round.”
  5. Charlie Jones – Purdue: “Not real big and not real fast but fights for every inch on every play”
  6. Jonathan Mingo – Ole Miss: “Big and tough” he gets “plenty of yardage after the catch.”  Gone by the second round.
  7. Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio St.: “Good size” and “good speed” and “excellent hands” plus “good blocker” leads me to believe he will go in Round 1.
  8. Cedric Tillman – Tennessee: “Tall and strong”, he looks like a “possession receiver”.  “Better than average blocker”.  Third round pick.

Keith Jackson used to refer to offensive linemen as “The Big Uglies”; I have no interest in judging them with “beauty points”, but I will give you a heads up that some of these guys are VERY big men.  I tend to lump all the offensive linemen into a single category simply because NFL coaches move them around a lot; so here are my OL spottings from last year:

  1. Steve Avila – TCU: “Very big for a center” but he has “mobility and strength”.
  2. Jacob Gall – Baylor: “Good run blocker inside” but “looks slow to me”.  “Plays hard on every snap”.  “Practice squad pick?”
  3. Gabe Houy – Pitt: “Always downfield blocking on run plays” but “pass protection is just OK”.  This could be a late round pick for a practice squad.
  4. Paris Johnson – Ohio St.: “Big, strong and agile”.  I said, “first round pick” and “does everything very well”.
  5. Broderick Jones – Georgia:  He “totally dominated the Oregon DL” for the whole game because “no one ever got near Bennett”.  My note says he is “agile” even though he is 300+ pounds.
  6. Olusegun Oluwatimi – Michigan: “Very good run blocker inside and outside”.
  7. Cedrice Palliant – Marshall: “Strong as an ox” he “moves DL with arm strength”.  However, looks “really slow” so maybe a “late round pick as a development project?”
  8. Peter Skoronski – Northwestern:  Commentator in the Nebraska game opening weekend said Skoronski had only given up one sack in 12 games in 2021.  I kept an eye on him and he is a “really good pass blocker”.
  9. Sidy Sow – E. Michigan: “Big and very strong”.  “Uses quickness plus strength on run plays”.  Playing against “lesser competition” means he probably goes “late in the draft if at all.”
  10. O’Cyrus Torrence – Florida:  My note says “HUGE”.  Stats say he is 6’5” tall and weighs 335 lbs.  “Not a lot of speed” but a “powerful run blocker.”

Before turning to the defensive players, I made notes on last year, let me dispose of the punters and kickers because there are so few of them on my list.  There is only one punter in my notes this year:

  1. Bryce Barringer – Michigan State:  Punts are “long with lots of hang time”.  “Consistent” which is good because “he will be punting a lot the rest of this season”.  [Aside:  Punters rarely go in the first three or four rounds of the draft, but this guy might just be worth taking then.]

I have notes on two placekickers this year:

  1. Jack Podlesny – Georgia: “Down the middle on field goal tries” and “good depth on kickoffs”.
  2. Chad Ryland – Maryland: “Kickoffs are deep and high – not a lot of returns by opponents.”

Turning to the defense, let me begin with the big guys up front – – the DL:

  1. Will Anderson – Alabama: “Could be a DE or an OLB and would be great at both”.  Will go “Top 10”.
  2. Felix Anudike-Uzomah – K-State: “Tall, long arms and mobile”.  “May have to add weight in NFL”.  [Aside:  I also noted that a team might draft this guy if they hated their radio play-by-play announcer.]
  3. Karl Brooks – Bowling Green: “Pushed around lots of Marshall players” so “worth a pick late”.
  4. Jalen Carter – Georgia:  He is “quick and strong” and is “good against both the inside run and the outside run.”  “Best pass rush move is bull-rush.”  “Should go early.”
  5. Isaiah Foskey – Notre Dame: “Very disruptive against Clemson” and “good against run and pass”.  Second or third round?
  6. Siaki Ika – Baylor: “Huge man – graphic says 6’4” and 350 lbs.”.  “Run stopper but not a lot of interior pass rush”.
  7. Myles Murphy – Clemson: “Speed rusher and power rusher”.  “Second round?”
  8. Mazi Smith – Michigan: “Dominant inside run stopper”.  “Pass rush is OK.”  “Mid-round pick”.
  9. Byron Young – Tennessee: “Good quickness and speed” and “good tackler in the open field”.  “Definitely needs to add strength and weight”.  Late round pick.
  10. Cameron Young – Mississippi St.: “Tough against run but not much pass rush”.  “Late round?”

Moving along to linebackers:

  1. Jack Campbell – Iowa: “Always around the ball” and “good tackling technique”.  “Pass coverage is good”.  “Should go in round 2 or 3”.
  2. Shaka Hayward – Duke: “Good size and good sense of where the ball is going” but “not real fast”.  Late round pick or maybe an undrafted free agent?
  3. Dylan Horton – TCU: “Good tacker with good size and good speed”.  “Should be a mid-round pick”.
  4. Ventrell Miller – Florida: “Good tackler and hard hitter”.  “Awfully small for NFL standards”
  5. Demarviohn Overshown – Texas: “Seems to be around the ball on every play except downfield bombs”.  “Good tackler with excellent speed”.  “Second round”?
  6. Trenton Simpson – Clemson:  He is “a speed guy” who “might be too small?”
  7. Charlie Thomas – Georgia Tech: “A tackling machine – always around the ball” but “needs bulking up”.

Next up are the CBs:

  1. Julius Brents – K-State: “Big guy who covers well”.  “Impressive game against Oklahoma.”
  2. Clark Phillips – Utah: “Not very big but all over the field against USC”.
  3. Joey Porter, Jr. – Penn St.: “Good tight coverage” and a “good tackler”.  “Tall with long arms” he “should go early maybe even round 1”.
  4. Kelee Ringo – Georgia:  He is a “big CB with lots of speed”.  “Aggressive tackler”.
  5. Cam Smith – South Carolina: “Tight coverage without lots of help” but “boy, does he look skinny”.

Last but not least, here are my notes on safeties in the 2023 NFL Draft:

  1. Brian Branch – Alabama: “Wow, he’s everywhere on every play.”  “Has to be a first-round pick…”
  2. JiAyir Brown – Penn St.: “Hard hitter with good tackling fundamentals”.  “Pass coverage is solid.”  Maybe 2nd round?
  3. Chamarri Connor – VA Tech: “Hard hitting tackler on run plays” but “pass coverage is only adequate”.  Late round pick.
  4. Kaevon Merriweather – Iowa: “Good in pass coverage but not fast enough to play CB”.

Finally, the NFL Draft is an aspirational event for players and for teams; so much data has been collected, massaged and digested you would think it was a science.  So let me close with this from John Adams:

“Now to what higher object, to what greater character, can any mortal aspire than to be possessed of all this knowledge, well digested and ready at command, to assist the feeble and friendless, to discount the haughty and lawless, to procure redress of wrongs, the advancement of right, to assert and maintain liberty and virtue, to discourage and abolish tyranny and vice?”

President Adams would probably be sad to know that in 2023 finding a Hall of Fame player in the sixth round is probably an even higher aspiration for many NFL coaches, execs and fans.

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



Bad Ads 2022 …

Normally, I save this compilation until New Year’s Eve as the last rant of the year.  However, this year my long-suffering wife and I will be spending the time between Christmas and Twelfth Night in Ireland visiting our grandson – – and his parents too of course.  I will not be taking a computer with me and there is no way on the planet that I would try to compose something like this on a phone; ergo, it has been pushed forward a week on the calendar.

The basis for this annual happening is that the folks who pay for commercial time on TV are the ones who make it possible for me to see all the sporting events/programs that I enjoy throughout the year.  I certainly do appreciate sponsors making all that programing available but that does not mean that I must think that the ads they put in front of me are meaningful and/or effective.  In fact, lots of them are not very good and some are downright stupid.  So, this gives me a chance to point out the ones that are the worst of the lot.  It’s what curmudgeons do …

Let me begin with one ad that has been around for several years and is stupid on so many levels that I am shocked when they “bring it back”.  I’m sure you will recognize this one.

  • A young man and a young woman are out walking in the deep snow when the young man tells her that he has something for her; he whistles and a young puppy – looks like a Saint Bernard? – comes bounding through the snow from an unseen location to the young woman who picks up the puppy and hugs it.  She tells her soulmate that she has something for him; she also whistles, and a driverless GMC pickup truck comes driving up to them in the snow – – stopping short of running them over to be sure.  The young man ignores the attractive young woman and goes to hug the truck.

You know, it must be nice to live in an economic situation where one can buy a $60-70K present for one’s partner without him/her knowing the money was missing from the exchequer.  Moreover, if in real life the guy ran and hugged the truck and not the woman, that puppy would be replacing him in the bed, and he would be sleeping in the truck bed.  And they keep bringing that ad back year after year…

In the world of truly stupid ads, there is a new entry this year from a source of truly stupid ads in years past.  Liberty Mutual seems to be “moving on” from a tight focus on LIMU the Emu – – and Doug – – which is a good thing.  However, the company now has an ad showing “young people having a good time” at a pool party where they “have fun” looking at laptop computers and cell phones with the Liberty Mutual app on the screen.  They have those devices in and around the swimming pool.  Just what I need, an insurance company that thinks portable electronics and swimming pools go together.  The person who came up with that needs to be in the deep end of a swimming pool just as someone throws him/her a plugged-in toaster…

Occasionally, you see an ad on TV, and you wonder what thought process led to someone paying for the airtime to show that to me.  A prime example this year was GE Aerospace advertising on NFL games.  Why?  Can someone there possibly think that the next time I need a jet engine, I’ll remember this ad and go buy a GE Aerospace jet engine.  Which exec in GE approved that advertising expenditure?

Old Navy continued their tradition of ads around Holiday Season featuring ugly clothing and annoying characters.  This year it is a woman “playing the piano” and “singing” until she tries to feed a bunch of asparagus to a stuffed reindeer.  This obviously makes me ready to rush out to Old Navy.  How about you?

During March Madness in 2022, there were repeated live-reads by the play-by-play guys about Coca Cola where they urged you to “Debate the Goatness”.  Those intercessions hit an exacta one should never seek; they were annoying AND they were stupid.

But wait; there’s more…  The good folks at Coke also used ad time in March Madness to introduce me to a new product – – Coke with Coffee.  And wouldn’t you know it, they added vanilla to that concoction.  That gets a strict “I’ll pass” from me…

Also during March Madness, the folks at Dell chose to take some time to inform us of their product line.  To highlight the fact that Dell technology allows people to work from home or the office or just about anywhere, the ad shows hundreds of people in an “office setting” moving their desks out to the middle of the streets in an urban area.  That blocks traffic completely since the desks are proximal to one another.  So, the message here is that Dell technology creates the potential for urban gridlock and creates problems for anyone who might be trying to get somewhere for some reason.  Not a good message…

In the world of beer advertising, we can always count on these two competitors to come up with something dumb:

  • Miller Lite tells us that it has more taste and only one more calorie than Michelob Ultra.    The “calorie part” can be objectively measured; I assume it is true; and simultaneously, I know that one calorie is irrelevant.  Regarding Miller Lite, the “taste part” is like choosing if you would rather be hung or shot.
  • Bud Light has an ad with the music and song lyrics, “I believe in miracles, you sexy thing…”  Who greenlighted that juxtaposition?  A glass of Bud Light – – the visual in the ad – – is neither sexy nor miraculous.  It is merely swill…

In 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused food commodity prices to spike to the highest levels ever since global stats began to be kept.  The food price index jumped 10.6% year over year.  There was also a spike in the number of bad ads perpetrated on US TV watchers in 2022 by restaurants and other food purveyors.  Are those two things conjoined?  It doesn’t matter; here are some of the bad ads from that group.

  • Taco Bell ran a series of ads where two people are engaged in some sort of social interaction when a “gong” rings and one or both march off like zombies to a Taco Bell.  The screen graphic says, ”When you need a taco …”  And then the visual shows the yutzes proceeding to eat a burrito.
  • Sonic had a mind-bending ad saying that when something is half-price, it is twice as good.  Really?  Think back to the fourth grade when you were memorizing your “times tables”; now, remember from those days that twice times zero is still – – zero.  Want an example?  Would “half price” get you to try a burger adorned with mule snot?  Hey, it would be twice as good since it’s half price…
  • I’ll just throw this out there because I assume that you are – – as I am – – fed up to the earbrows with “The Antonellis” and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.  I hope they both eat so much cheese that they are not regular until next year on the 4th of July.

In this cursed food category, there are two sponsors that contributed two separate ad campaign entries that were bad/stupid in the year.  The deserve the scorn provided by a category of their own this year:

  • Chipotle advertised that its new chorizo was its “best ever” and that it is “plant-based”.  If you ever wondered how good Chipotle’s original chorizo was, you now know.
  • Later in the year, Chipotle also told us that “real food tastes better”.  OK, I agree that “real food” must taste better than “imaginary food”, but Chipotle are the same folks who just got through telling me that plant-based chorizo was the best chorizo they ever made.  Now hear this!  Plant-based chorizo is not real food!

And …

  • Applebee’s began the year with an ad featuring a guy in a restaurant setting saying that he had been making memories here since he was little.  He has been making memories at Applebee’s – – where the motto ought to be something like, where you go when you are too lazy to microwave your food at home.  My reaction was:  You poor thing.  I am so sorry!
  • Then, Applebee’s appropriated the theme song from the TV sitcom, Cheers, in an ad campaign.  Let me set the record straight here: Cheers was one of the best sitcoms in TV history; Applebee’s is an eatery that has never been one of the best of anything.  This appropriation of the theme song is an abomination in the sight of God.   [Luke 16:15]

So, there is my compilation of bad ads in the waning days of 2022.  You may wonder how I convince myself that I have sufficient insight and/or stature to label these ads as bad ones and that would be a fair question to ask.  Rather than pat myself on the back, let me close with this observation about advertising by David Ogilvy, known as the “Father of Advertising” and a founder of the giant international ad agency, Ogilvy and Mather:

“It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product.  Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.  I doubt that more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.”

Do you see any “big ideas” in the ads cited above?

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



Forcing Daniel Snyder To Sell The Commanders?

I read a report last week in USA Today that some of the NFL owners were beginning to “count the votes” in an attempt to force Danny Boy Snyder to sell the Washington Commanders.  Obviously, I have no insight into the veracity or the extent of any such activity.  However, I will say that there are hundreds if not thousands of Commanders’ fans here in the DC area that went to church over the weekend and lit prayer candles asking The Almighty to let those rumors come to fruition.  For anyone who does not live – or has not lived – in the greater DC area over the past 20 years or so, the one-and-only thing that Commanders’ fans hope for more than a new owner is a Super Bowl Championship.  Truth be told; I am not so sure that a small cadre of fans would rather see a new owner if given that choice.

Me?  I could not care less who owns the franchise.  But I suspect that reports about anything imminent happening on that front are either wishful thinking or trial balloons.  I know that the NFL Bylaws sets out what must happen to remove an owner or a team if they engage in something that is detrimental to the NFL or to professional football and I know that a vote of 24 or more votes by the 32 owners is what is needed to kick someone out of the club.  But I think things will have to get a lot worse before any action of that sort is taken – or even begun in earnest – by other owners or the Commish.

I believe that there have been 4 times when the league has “nudged” an owner to the side:

  1. The owner of the AFL’s NY Titans, Harry Wismer, was told to sell the team when it got to the point that his payroll checks were not cashable.  That would seem to be an airtight reason to get a new owner in place; the Commanders are nowhere near such a state.
  2. The owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Leonard Tose, was “convinced” to sell the team when his casino gambling losses got to the point where the team might have had to be mortgaged to pay off the debts.  [Aside:  Tose also had to liquidate his privately owned trucking company to square everything he owed.]  Again, the Commanders and Danny Boy Snyder are nowhere near that sort of financial precipice.  [Aside #2: At one point, Tose got a cash loan from another NFL owner, Hugh Culverhouse, and got that owner to guarantee a $3M loan to Tose.  Talk about bad optics…]
  3. The owner of the SF 49ers, Eddie DeBartolo, was suspended by the NFL for one year and he then quietly transferred team control to his sister who continues to own the team.  DeBartolo pleaded guilty to federal charges involving extortion by the then governor of Louisiana involving a gambling license on a riverboat there.  Danny Boy Snyder is not in any sort of parallel situation here.
  4. The owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson, agreed to sell the team after his being accused of sexually harassing employees.  His decision to sell the team obviated any sort of action by other owners but interestingly – to me – the league seemed only too happy to get a new owner there so that the “story would go away”.

It is Situation #4 above that may have a parallel in the case of the Commanders and Danny Boy Snyder.  There have been stories of a “toxic workplace” for women – especially team cheerleaders – under Snyder’s ownership and one woman alleges that Snyder inappropriately touched her.  There has been no action to adjudicate those charges and the NFL conveniently made sure there was no written report of the findings of the investigation that it conducted into the “toxic workplace” allegations.  As I said, there may be some parallel here, but it is not the most robust of comparisons.

Here is why I think things would have to get a lot worse before any sort of movement to kick Danny Boy Snyder out of the club can gain momentum.

  • I think that it is 100% certain that Daniel Snyder would sue the NFL and the other owners up and down the course of any such movement to oust him.  Remember, this is the man who sued his team’s season ticket holders in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse when some of them could not afford to maintain their payments on those tickets.  He is no stranger to lawsuits.
  • The danger for the NFL and owners in that situation is that court proceedings are far more open to public scrutiny than are the private dealings among the owners and/or the NFL’s closed arbitration sessions that are used to resolve disputes of all kinds.  In the situation where this gets down and dirty, this could turn into a matter where both sides choose to employ a scorched earth tactic against the opposition.  If you think the Huge Culverhouse loan to Leonard Tose mentioned above was a bad optic, think about what this could evolve into.

As I said above, I care about who owns the team about as much as I care about who the team’s long-snapper is; it just does not matter to me.  But I do think that it matters to Danny Boy Snyder a lot; not only is it an asset that continues to make him wealthier, owning an NFL team is something he does that others who may be far wealthier than he cannot do.  Some men look around to find a “trophy wife”; Danny Boy Snyder has a “trophy asset”.  And for that reason – in addition to the Commanders’ profitability – I think he is not going to sell the team voluntarily or without a fight.

He had to eat crow publicly when he had to rename the franchise after he said he would NEVER do that.  Somehow, he does not strike me as someone who enjoys eating crow – – and selling his team would be tantamount to eating crow again.

Finally, since most of today involved me presenting my opinion on a situation, let me close with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Opinionated:  Knowing absolutely nothing really loudly.”

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




2022 NFL Draft “Analysis”

Traditionally, I gather up notes that I took while watching college football games in the previous fall/winter and use them to make projections about the NFL Draft in the Spring.  Family, social and travel events this year made it impossible for me to get that done prior to the Draft, so I am going to do it differently this time around.  I will go through the draft as it actually happened and append any notes I have – – assuming I can decipher all of them.

Lest anyone is new to these sorts of things, let me lay out a bunch of disclaimers:

  • This is my perception based on watching games on TV.  I do not scout; I do not go to these games; I do not talk to coaches or players; I do not watch film 100 hours a week.
  • My viewing habits/preferences are skewed.  I watch a lot more games involving top teams from power conferences than I do involving lesser conferences and/or bad teams.  That is my choice because my viewing is done mainly for pleasure and not for scouting.
  • I live on the East Coast meaning I get to see eastern teams and midwestern teams a lot more conveniently than I do western teams.  So, it there is a fantastic prospect at a western school in a minor conference, the odds are I have never seen him play football and that is why I have nothing to say about him.
  • Because I know as I am looking at games on TV that I am not in any position to make broad comparisons among players around the country, my assessments of when and where players might be drafted will vary widely from reality.  There will be about 250 – 275 players taken in this Draft; I will have no notes on at least 200 of them – – but I will probably have a note or two on someone I liked who never got drafted at all.

With those ground rules stated, let me get to the meat for today…

Trayvon Walker DE Georgia – – Overall #1:  “Quick off the ball; lots of speed”.  “[Georgia’s] defense is stacked so probably drafted later than others.”

Aidan Hutchinson DE Michigan – – Overall #2:  “Good pass rusher and good run defender”.  “Should go first round”

Derek Stingley, Jr. CB LSU – – Overall #3: “Good man-to-man cover corner” “very quick to react to pass to his side” “sure tackler”.

Evan Neal OT Alabama – – Overall #7:  “Big man, strong man, quick on his feet”  “good pass protector”  “will go in first round”

Charles Cross OT Mississippi State – – Overall #9:  “Very good pass blocker but MSU does not run the ball enough to know if he can block on runs very well”

Garrett Wilson WR Ohio State – – Overall #10:  “Deep threat, good speed and hands”

Chris Olave WR Ohio State – – Overall #11:  Deep threat”  “think he is better than G. Wilson”.

  • [Aside:  Obviously, since the Jets took Wilson instead of Olave they disagree with my assessment.  C’est la vie…]  

Jameson Williams WR Alabama – – Overall #12:  “Seems as if he is always open over the middle”  “speed burner” “first round pick for sure”

Jordan Davis DT Georgia – – Overall #13:  “Huge hominid”  “run stopper” “screen graphic says 340 lbs.; must be before breakfast”.

Kyle Hamilton DB Notre Dame – – Overall #14:  “Big, fast, good cover and good tackler”  “top ten pick???”

Jahan Dotson WR Penn State – – Overall #16:  “ Plenty of speed and good hands”  “not very big so he might slip to mid-rounds”.

Kenny Pickett QB Pitt – – Overall #20:  “Supposed to be one of the top QBs in the country.  He’s good but no “wow factor” “maybe 2nd or 3rd round?”

  • [Aside:  Let the comparisons begin.  Dan Marino also went to Pitt and slipped to the 27th pick in the 1983 draft…  Welcome to the NFL, Kenny Pickett.]

 Quay Walker LB Georgia – – Overall #22:  “Does everything well – cover, rush passer, tackle” “good speed for his size” “should go early”

Devin Lloyd LB Utah – – Overall #27:  “Screen graphic said 235 lbs. and he is fast!”  “good in coverage too”  “mid-round pick”.

Devonte Wyatt DT Georgia – – Overall #28:  “Best player on best defense in the country”  “lots to choose from on Ga’s defense but he would be first for me”.

  • [Aside:  Of course, the Packers had to take him; they traded away their player named Devante (Adams), so they needed to replenish their supply of Devontes.]

Kenneth Walker III RB Michigan State – – Overall #41:  ‘Power runner with good speed” “fights for every yard” “mid-round pick?”

John Metchie WR Alabama – – Overall #44:  “Not as good as [Jameson] Williams but fast and sure-handed”  “mid-rounds”  ‘not very big but jumps well to get ball”.

David Ojabo LB Michigan – – Overall #45:  “Big and fast”  “Power pass rusher”  “hits hard”  “first round pick”

  • [Aside:  He tore his Achilles tendon at a workout in March and still went in the middle of the second round.]

Joshua Ezeudu OT UNC – – Overall #67:  “Big strong and good pass blocker”

Nakobe Dean LB Georgia – – Overall #83:  “Not real big but really fast” “sure tackler” “vintage sideline-to-sideline guy”

  • [Aside:  He was not the best player on the Georgia defense by any means, but how did he last this long in the Draft?]

DeMarvin Leal DT Texas A&M – – Overall #84:  “Small for a DT but plenty of speed and agility” “sure tackler”  “mid-round pick?”

Malik Willis QB Liberty – – Overall #86:  “Great running QB skills”  “pass accuracy is unimpressive but arm is strong”  “long-term project for the NFL”

  • [Aside:  These notes come from watching some of the Senior Bowl game.  I did not see Liberty play in the regular season]

Rachaad White RB Arizona State – – Overall #91:  “Really good in open field – makes guys miss”  “good in passing game”  “late round pick”

Matt Corral QB Ole Miss – – Overall #94:  “Aggressive runner – not a good QB style in the NFL” “not a big arm but accurate throws”  “needs development”

Logan Bruss OG Wisconsin – – Overall #104: “Good run blocking – – not as good pass blocking” “late round project”

Danniel Faalele OT Minnesota – – Overall #110:  “Huge guy; can’t miss him”  “screen graphic says 6’ 9” and 380 lbs.”  “believe it or not, he is faster than a fire hydrant”  “late round pick”

Isaiah Spiller RB Texas A&M – – Overall #123:  “Good size and agility”  “runs hard”  “late rounds”

Jordan Stout K Penn State – – Overall #130:  “Booming punts that are high and long”  “kickoffs reach end zone”  “kickers/punters go in the 6th or 7th round”

  • [Aside:  Jordan Stout went in the 4th round to the Ravens.]

Hassan Haskins RB Michigan – – Overall #131:  “Big tough bruising runner”  “very good pass blocker”  “good not great speed”

Zach Tom OT Wake Forest – – Overall #140:  “Big and quick”  “good pass blocker/ decent run blocker”  “late rounds”

Sam Howell QB UNC – – Overall # 144:  “Excellent runner in an RPO offense”  “not a big arm but good accuracy” “worth a pick mid-round”  “long slow pass release on deep throws”

Otito Ogbonnio DT UCLA – – Overall $160:  “Good size, good run defender, mediocre pass rush”  “late rounds”

Ko Kieft TE Minnesota – – Overall #218:  “Big man; not fast but good hands and can get yards after catch”  “lined up next to Faalele [see above] they block out the sun”

Tariq Castro-Fields CB Penn State – – Overall #221:  “Good speed; good cover guy”  “comes up to play the run well”  “not as tall as other DBs”  “2nd or 3rd round?”

Jesse Luketa LB Penn State – – Overall #256:  “Big and powerful; hard hitter”  “not super-fast but usually around the ball” “good pass rush from inside”  “3rd round”

Now for some notes on players who I thought could be drafted but who were not.  I will list these folks alphabetically lest anyone think I am prioritizing them:

Chase Allen TE Iowa State:  “Big target and good hands”  “not lots of speed”  decent blocker”  “take late rounds”

Bubba Bolden S Miami:  “Big hitter but not good tackler”  “late rounds”

Trevon Bradford WR Oregon State:  “Small and fast”  “good jump to get high passes” “cannot or will not block”

Ellis Brooks LB Penn State:  “Not very big but always around the ball”  “good tackler” “mid-rounds”

Malachi Carter WR Georgia Tech:  “Big, tall guy with good hands”  “not a lot of speed – possession receiver”

Cameron Dicker K Texas:  “Draft him so local writer can make reference to ‘Dicker the Kicker’”

Dontario Drummond WR Ole Miss:  “Big possession receiver”  Sure hands and gains yards after being hit”  “not big enough to be a tight end”

Jerrion Ealy RB Ole Miss:  “Little guy who is both quick and fast”  “good hands – third down back?”

Jeremiah Hall RB Oklahoma:  “Big power runner”  “good hands” “decent pass blocker”  “mid rounds”

Smoke Monday CB Auburn:  “Good size and strength”  excellent run defender/tackler” “got beat deep a couple times” “love the name”

CJ Morgan DB Mississippi State:  “Good size; sure tackler”  “fast enough to play safety”

Jayden Peevy DT Texas A&M:  “Good interior pass rush”  “strong against run”  “mid-rounds”

Mike Rose LB Iowa State:  “”Big and strong”  “good run defender”  “inside pass rush” “not real fast”

Carson Strong QB Nevada:  “Lots of hype on him being this year’s Josh Allen”  “big arm like Allen but not very accurate”  “big and strong but not quick or fast”  “mid-rounds maybe?”

  • [Aside: This is from watching the Senior Bowl game; I did not see Nevada play last year.]
  • [Another aside:  The Eagles signed Carson Strong to a free agent contract so Jalen Hurts gets to share the QB room with another guy named “Carson”…]

Finally, since this has been all about the players taken in this year’s NFL Draft, the most appropriate closing comment comes from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:

“If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had a sense of humor, he’d step up to the podium and declare: ‘With the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select … The Wrong Guy!’”

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