Legal Stuff Today – – From A Non-Lawyer

According to a report at last week, Jon Gruden is “mulling his legal options regarding potential claims against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell.”  Serendipitously, I happened to bump into a friend who is a retired attorney and asked what might be the basis for such a lawsuit.  He is an avid sports fan and was familiar with Gruden’s firing based on emails that the NFL had collected in its investigation of the toxic work culture that existed in the Front Office of the Washington Football Team.  He tried to explain to me the concept of “tortious interference”.  Here is what I understand from that 10-minute conversation:

  • Gruden lost a job for which there was a contractual relationship between Gruden himself and the Las Vegas Raiders.
  • The cause of his loss of job – and therefore an economic loss – was the release of emails that were in the possession of the NFL and were nominally to remain private.
  • Gruden will assert that the release of emails was intentional and not accidental.
  • Ergo, the NFL – or someone at the NFL with access to those emails – inflicted a loss on Gruden by interfering in his relationship with the Raiders even though he had nothing to do with the “toxic work culture” being investigated which caused the emails to come into the possession of the NFL and neither did the Raiders.

Please make of that skimming of the surface of this aspect of contract law what you will.  To me, this potential legal action means two things:

  1. This matter is not dead and could come back to life with a bang.
  2. This is a trial where I would like to be a juror; the testimonies and cross-examinations here could be extremely interesting.

While I am treading very lightly in the area of legal matters and the NFL, let me return for a moment to the Henry Ruggs II incident where Ruggs was arrested after a car crash that killed a woman in another vehicle.  The authorities say Ruggs was driving at 156 mph and had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.  Obviously, these charges need to be proven in court before the legal aspects of the case are decided; however, the NFL has a precedent for the way it might treat Henry Ruggs II once the Nevada authorities have completed their actions.

In 1999, Leonard Little (a defensive end for the St. Louis Rams at the time), was in a car accident that resulted in the death of a woman in another vehicle.  Little’s blood alcohol level was 2.4 times the legal limit at the time of the accident.  After the legal actions were resolved – Little was sentenced to 90 days in a workhouse, a thousand hours of community service and five years of probation – the NFL suspended him for the first 8 games of the 1999 season.

Times have changed since 1999 but in matters of crime and punishment, it seems to me that precedent is still an important element in balancing those two aspects of a case.  One can argue that what the NFL did 22  years ago was ”insufficient” in some way and that the league can now set a “more proper standard” for sanctions in matters such as these.  I believe that would be a difficult position for the league to take so I would expect something along the lines of an eight-game suspension to be the NFL’s action at the end of the legal process here.

Let me switch sports here but remain in the “legal realm”…  The CBA between MLB and the MLBPA expires 3 weeks from today on December 1st.  Normally, this is the time in negotiations where lots of things happen quickly as the deadline gets close; however, that does not seem to be happening this time around; there are no reports of progress at all.

Moreover, that three-week window to find a way to avoid a work stoppage includes the week of Thanksgiving.  I do not suspect that all the parties will take off on Wednesday and remain incommunicado for 3 or 4 days, but I do think there will be some “fallow times” during that week.  Given the choice, I suspect that folks on both sides of the negotiating table will prefer to be at a family Thanksgiving dinner table that week.

Baseball free agency has already begun – it started on November 7th – and it has been more than merely “quiet” since then.  Clearly, teams and player agents want to know what the new CBA is going to say about salaries and luxury taxes and arbitration and the like.  So, a lot of individual negotiating and a lot of trade proposals will have to be put on a back burner and then carried out in a condensed time frame if there is a work stoppage as of December 1st.

The union probably wants to find a fast-track for the younger star players to be paid in accordance with their on-field production.  Owners will want some significant concession(s) to relinquish the control they now have over their young stars.  If the union cannot get a lot of movement on that front, it would likely try to get an increase in the minimum salary for all players thereby moving the young stars up the economic ladder just a bit.  As always, this is about money and control; given where things stand now, I do not see a new CBA rising from the ashes in the next 3 weeks.

So, MLB is probably going to have a work stoppage.  In labor relations terms:

  • If the players initiate the stoppage, it is a strike.
  • If the league initiates the stoppage, it is a lockout.
  • If you are a baseball fan, it is frustrating no matter the label.

Finally, since I began today with a comment about a possible lawsuit by Jon Gruden against the NFL, let me close with a definition offered up by Ambrose Bierce:

Lawsuit, n.  A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.”

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



Roger Goodell’s Income…

Last week, there was a report that NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, had earned – – well, at least he was paid – – a total of $125M in salary and bonuses over the last two years.  I have had differences with Goodell and some of his decisions over the years, but I am here to say today that he deserves that $125M.  Let me try to justify that statement…

Back in 2014 in the aftermath of the “Ray Rice Incident”, I and many others found fault with the NFL and Roger Goodell in the handling of that matter and the discipline handed down.  However, on reflection, I then came to realize that the root of my problem with Goodell was his position as the NFL’s disciplinarian was not with Roger Goodell as the league’s commissioner.  My problem came from the fact that Goodell’s real job has little to nothing to do with handing down discipline.  I did a rant on that specific subject in September 2014; if you want to read it in its entirety, here is the link.

Here is what I think is the relevant passage from that rant in 2014:

“The job of the commissioner is to grow the league and the measures of league growth are things like revenue, attendance, public awareness, TV ratings etc. All of those are intertwined but when you take them as a package and add to them the responsibility to deal constructively with the players’ union, you have the modern set of responsibilities for a league commissioner. Unfortunately, they also seem to carry the burden of history with them, and they are also expected to be ‘The Disciplinarian’. That role does not mesh well with ‘grow the league’ and ‘deal constructively with the union’.”

In 2020 and 2021, attendance for the NFL is down from where it was in 2014, and just about everyone knows that the pandemic has a lot to do with that.  Notwithstanding the lower in-stadium attendance, when you measure the NFL on things like revenue (up over 2014), public awareness (try to read a sports section today where there is no mention of the NFL) and TV ratings (the NFL is the highest rated show on all five networks that telecast NFL games), things are more than hunky-dory.

Roger Goodell is not solely responsible for the league’s profitability and popularity, but he was directly involved in two things that made life better for team owners – – and remember, it is the team owners who hire/fire NFL Commissioners.

  1. Goodell oversaw CBA negotiations with the NFLPA resulting in a 10-year deal that guarantees labor peace and guarantees owners generous profits over the time of that labor deal.  The value of franchises just keeps going up and up; owners have to love that.
  2. Goodell also oversaw the negotiations with the TV networks some of which run even longer than the 10-year CBA does.  What those deals do is to lock in about $110-115B in revenue over the life of those deals.

Let me try to put those financial issues into perspective by doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations here:

  • TV deals this year bring in $10B in round numbers.  Suppose the NFL HQs skims 5% off the top of that revenue to help keep the lights on in the league Front Office.
  • That leaves $9.5B to be shared equally among 32 teams meaning each team would get $297M from the TV deals alone.  That money is pocketed by the owners before they ever sell a single ticket or have anyone buy a team jersey or sign a “partnership deal” or a “naming rights deal”.
  • Granted the salary cap figures for 2021 are depressed due to reduced in-game revenues in 2020 due to the pandemic, but the salary cap for 2021 is only $182.5M.
  • So, just from the TV deals, each NFL owner is $114.5M to the good this year.  The next time someone asks you how teams can afford to have 20 assistant coaches and trainers and scouts, remember this ballpark number for 2021.

So, back to Roger Goodell and the reported $125M he got as salary plus bonuses over the last two years.  Previous reports said – and I have no way to corroborate or deny those reports – that Goodell’s base salary was $44M a year.  If correct he would have earned $88M over the past two years simply by managing not to get fired.  So, it would appear as if he earned about 42% of his annual salary in bonuses.  If you are not particularly fond of The Commish, those numbers might be hard to swallow but consider two other points:

  1. Roger Goodell serves another very important function for his employers – the owners.  He takes the blame and makes himself the target for just about any criticism that might come the league’s way.  For example, if the Congress decides to hold public hearings with regard to the NFL’s “investigation” of the toxic work environment that existed for the Washington Football Team, it is going to be Roger Goodell who will be seated in front of the Congressthings listening to their rhetorical flourishes masquerading as questions.  He will be the target of their ire.
  2. Roger Goodell drove the negotiations with the union and with the TV networks and those turned out to be highly beneficial for Goodell’s side of the table.  Perhaps, that is a sign of Goodell’s innate negotiation skills; and if it is, then we should not be so surprised to learn that he negotiated a really beneficial deal for himself when he negotiated with the owners for his salary and benefits package.

I am sure I will continue to have my differences with Roger Goodell over various issues in the future, but I think I understand why he received the money he has over the last two years even though I do think it is just a tad excessive.

Finally, since today has been all about money, let me close with the following observation by Dorothy Parker:

“Money cannot buy health, but I’d settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.”

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



Aaron Rodgers Should Be suspended…

The Green Bay Packers lost a game yesterday to the Kansas City Chiefs that they would probably have won if Aaron Rodgers had been the Packers’ QB for the game.  The Packers’ defense held the Chiefs to 13 points, but Jordan Love – making his first NFL start for the Packers – was only able to score 7 points.  As you must know by now, Rodgers missed the game because he tested positive for COVID-19.

If that was all there is to the story, one could toss it off as a stroke of bad luck for Rodgers and the Packers and look ahead to see if there are any sorts of playoff projections that can me made based on this defeat.  Would that everything here was so simple…

Ever since training camp, Aaron Rodgers has said he was “immunized” against COVID; he never said he was vaccinated, nor did he say directly that he had turned down the vaccination.  People tolerated that because he is a star player, and he has a persona of being a cool guy who is often flip with the media.  Heck, that is the persona that has gotten him as far as it has with the State Farm ads.

The problem is that he is not vaccinated AND that he has been violating the NFL protocols for unvaccinated players since the start of the season.  One glaring example is his appearance at his weekly press conferences.  As an unvaccinated player, he is required to do those session masked; Rodgers has done them all unmasked.  Given that easily observed violation of the protocols, it is logical to assume – – but we do not know for certain – – that he also violated the protocols when it comes to his mask-wearing behaviors inside the Packers’ facilities with his teammates and coaches.

Now comes the time to dig deep into the history of the US over the last 50 years or so and ask three variants of the question made famous by Senator Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) during the Senate hearings related to Watergate:

  1. What did the Packers know about the lack of vaccination and when did they know it?
  2. What did the NFL know about the lack of vaccination and when did they know it?
  3. What did the NFLPA know about the lack of vaccination and when did they know it?

These answers are relevant because it certainly seems to me that this was not a deep dark secret known only Aaron Rodgers and the medical professional who treated him with homeopathic “stuff” to provide “immunization”.  It is clear to me that Rodgers has been deceitful in his lies about his status and his improper behaviors as a result of his deceitful status representation.

  • But what did the team know and by letting it go on how badly did they endanger other players coaches and team staff?
  • And what about the league?
  • And what about the NFLPA which negotiated an agreement with the league nominally to protect its members from being exploited by rapacious owners who might provide ill-suited working conditions?  How about one of your own members being the “endangering agent”?

The COVID vaccines have presented a trigger point for many Americans.  Let me put my cards on the table:

  • I am vaccinated – – and boostered.  My extended family – save for my 8-year-old granddaughter – is also vaccinated and boostered.  My granddaughter has gotten a first shot and is awaiting the time for her second shot.
  • In any discussion with anyone, my recommendation is to take the vaccine.  Medical history says vaccines work – – see polio, smallpox et. al.
  • Socially, I believe private entities can require employees and customers to be vaccinated.  I do not support nearly to the same degree having governments mandate vaccinations.
  • I believe that unvaccinated individuals can and should be held accountable for their choice to turn down the vaccine.  That accountability might manifest itself in loss of a job or reduced health benefits or denied access to certain events.
  • I am fed up to my eyebrows with anecdotal horror stories about this entire issue; it is time to put lots of the rhetoric on ice.

But in the case of Aaron Rodgers, I am afraid that his “star player status” could get in the way of him suffering some consequences of his behavior.  And by “his behavior” I do not mean his decision not to take the vaccine – – that is HIS business and HIS decision.  What I mean by “his behavior” is his mendacity and his deceit.   Here is my position on the matter and I suspect that it will not resonate well with many NFL fans:

  • Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games a few years ago.  The nominal behavior that got him suspended was deflating footballs; that charge was not well supported by evidence and science said there were environmental factors that could have caused whatever measurements were made to have been what they were.  Brady was also non-cooperative with the investigation and supposedly was not candid with the folks doing the investigating.
  • Aaron Rodgers’ behavior is potentially far more consequential than was Tom Brady’s.  He has been lying about this status and availing himself of the relaxed restrictions enjoyed by vaccinated players for at least two months – – and probably four months.
  • I think Aaron Rodgers deserves a longer suspension than Tom Brady got.  For me it is a minimum of 6 games.

Finally let me close today with an observation from a highly unusual source for these rants, Pope Benedict XVI:

“In the name of freedom, there has to be a correlation between rights and duties, by which every person is called to assume responsibility for his or her choices, made as a consequence of entering into relations with others.”

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



Football Friday 11/5/21

Some Biblical scholars say that rains that caused the Great Flood – the one that Noah rode out on the Ark – began on a Friday.  I have no reason to dispute such an interpretation, but I can report that today is Friday and the weather here outside Curmudgeon Central shows no indication of impending rain.  So, I guess it is safe to get going on this week’s Football Friday.

Traditionally, I begin these rants with a review of last week’s Six-Pack.  The fact that I will admit to have committed such thoughts to the memory of the Internet demonstrates my inability to embarrass myself; last week’s selections were putrid:

  • College:  0-3-0
  • NFL:  1-2-0
  • Total:  1-5-0
  • Money Line Parlay  0-1

Since the start of the season, here are the cumulative results:

  • College:  7-10-0
  • NFL:  14-16-1
  • Total:  21-26-1
  • Money Line Parlays  0-1


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats continued their unbeaten season last week with a home victory over the George Fox Bruins by a score of 38-7.  Linfield is 7-0 for the 2021 season and 5-0 in Northwest Conference games.  This week the Wildcats will travel to Salem, OR to face the Willamette Bearcats.  Willamette is not having a good year on the gridiron; they bring a 1-7 record to the kickoff, and they give up 42.4 points per game.  Go Wildcats!

Looking at the contenders for the Brothel Defense Award for 2020 – the college football team that allows opponents to score early and often:

  • Arkansas St. gives up 42/4 points per game
  • Kansas gives up 43.8 points per game
  • UMass gives up 46.3 points per game

Over the last week there were two reports of coaching changes for college football.  Both were surprising to me for different reasons.

  1. Gary Patterson and TCU went their separate ways.  TCU has not had a sterling season in 2021; the Horned Frogs are 3-5 this week and one of those 3 wins came over a Division 1-AA team.  The surprising element here is that Patterson has been the coach at TCU for 22 years; I never saw him leaving the program in mid-season.
  2. Clay Helton reportedly found a new job.  Recall that Helton was fired at USC back in September; if reports are correct that he has already accepted a job, that would mean he was never really looking to take some time off and live on his buy-out check.  Reports this week said that Helton has taken the job at Georgia Southern where the Eagles are 3-5 so far this season.  In terms of prestige, it sure looks like a big step down for Helton from USC (PAC-12) to Georgia Southern (Sun Belt).

Kudos to the folks who did the scheduling for the teams in the Big-10 East.  There are 4 very good teams there:

  • Michigan
  • Michigan St
  • Ohio St.
  • Penn St.

The schedule maker clustered the games among those teams toward the end of the season giving them added gravitas.  Ohio State – for example – still has games against Michigan State and Michigan; Michigan State has Ohio State and Penn State still on the calendar.

Speaking of the Big-10, here are happenings there from last week …

Wisconsin 27  Iowa 7:  In the first half, Iowa made 1 first down and had 19 yards of offense.  The total offense for Iowa in this game was 156 yards; they had 24 yards rushing on 30 attempts.  The Badgers did not set the world afire on offense gaining only 270 yards, but it was plenty given the performance of the defense.

Rutgers 20  Illinois 14:  Rutgers is 4-4.  Can they get to a bowl game?  They need 2 wins from these remaining 4 games:

  • Vs. Wisconsin
  • At Indiana
  • At Penn State
  • Vs. Maryland

I doubt that the Scarlet Knights will be favored in any of those 4 games but that is why they play the game on the field and not just on paper…

Michigan St. 37  Michigan 33:  Sparty moves to 8-0 for the season while Michigan is now 7-1.  I thought this would be a tight defensive game and took it UNDER 51.5 last week.  My bad!  Michigan had 552 yards on offense to “only” 395 for Michigan St.  State had a balanced offense for the day gaining 199 yards rushing and 196 yards passing.  Michigan kicked a field goal with 12 minutes to play in the game to take a 3-point lead 33-30.  From then on, here are the Michigan possessions:

  • Fumble
  • Turnover on Downs
  • INT

Ohio St.  33  Penn St. 24:  Ohio St. shut down the Penn St. running game holding the Lions to 33 yards on 29 attempts.

In games pertinent to the ACC…

Notre Dame 44  UNC 34:  UNC was ranked in the top 10 in the pre-season polls and this loss puts their record at 4-4.  Reporters never seem to hold the poll voters responsible for such “irregularities”.

NC State 28  Louisville 13:  Louisville led the game 10-7 at the start of the fourth quarter and outgained NC State by 73 yards in the game.  The Cardinals also committed 10 penalties in the game for 101 yards.  Here are the final two possessions for Louisville:

  • With 5:53 to go and State leading 21-13, the Cardinals get the ball at their own 25.  Faced with fourth down and 2 yards to go, they go for it and do not make it.  NC State gets the ball at the Louisville 34 and gets a TD to make the score 28-13.
  • With 2:21 to go and State leading 28-13, the Cardinals get the ball at their own 25.  Faced with fourth down and 3 yards to go, they go for it and do not make it.  NC State gets the ball at the Louisville 34 and runs out the clock.
  • Notice any symmetry here?

Wake Forest 45  Duke 7:  Wake remains undefeated at 8-0.  Moreover, Wake has scored 35 points or more in every game this year.  The Deacons lead the Atlantic Division; NC State is in second place there with only 1 conference loss.  Here is the rest of the schedule for Wake Forest; it is not an easy one:

  • At UNC
  • Vs. NC State
  • At Clemson
  • At BC

Clemson 30  Florida St. 20:  I took FSU +9.5 in last week’s Six-Pack.  FSU had a PAT blocked in first quarter.  Oh well…

Syracuse 21  BC 6:  Syracuse won its 5th game of the season meaning it can be bowl-eligible with another win.  The last bowl appearance for the Orange was in 2018 when they won something called the Camping World Bowl.  Syracuse has 3 games left to play in order to find another win; here is the schedule:

  • BYE Week this week
  • At Louisville
  • At NC State
  • Vs. Pitt

Miami 38  Pitt 34:  I said last week that Pitt tends to lose a game or two a year that they should not.  Here was one of them.  Pitt is now down to 6-2 overall but they still lead the ACC Coastal Division with only this one conference loss.  Miami was a 9.5-point underdog and were led by a big game from freshman QB, Tyler Van Dyke.  This is Miami’s second consecutive win over a ranked opponent. Miami has only 2 conference losses; this win keeps them relevant in the ACC.

Va Tech 26  Ga Tech  17:  Coaches often say they strive for balance in their offense.  Ga. Tech had a perfectly balanced offense here; they gained 183 yards rushing and 183 yards passing.  They had 20 rushing plays and 26 passing plays in the game.

In Big-12 action last week …

Baylor 31  Texas 24:  Baylor is still in the race for the Big-12 championship with only 1 conference loss.  Texas led 21-10 with 9 minutes left in the third quarter and 21-17 after three quarters. Then from about 9-minute mark in the third quarter to the 8-minute mark of the 4th quarter, the Texas defense gave up 3 TDs on three drives that totaled 208 yards.  Ugly…

Oklahoma 52  Texas Tech 21:  That is the kind of dominant win the Sooners should hang on mediocre teams.  Where has that sort of performance been earlier this year?  Sooner freshman QB, Caleb Williams posted this stat line for the day:

  • 23 of 30 for 402 yards with 6 TDs and 0 INTs.

Oklahoma St. 55  Kansas 3:  The Cowboys posted 534 yards on offense; Kansas managed to gain only 143 yards including only 44 yards passing.  Kansas had 7 first downs in the game and 3 turnovers.  It was a debacle.  The score was 45-0 with 3:50 to play in the 3rd quarter when Kansas kicked a 45-yard field goal to avoid the shutout.

In SEC games last week…

Mississippi St. 31  Kentucky  17:  The Bulldogs’ defense had it second consecutive strong showing in this game holding the Wildcats to only 216 yards in the game.  Meanwhile the Air Raid offense was clicking with 344 yards gained in the air.  Mississippi State’s QB, Will Rogers (not that one, he’s dead)  set an SEC record for completion percentage in a game with more than 30 pass attempts.  Rogers was 36 for 39 in the game.  Mississippi State needs one more win to be bowl eligible.  Here are the Bulldogs’ remaining 4 games:

  • At Arkansas
  • At Auburn
  • Vs. Tennessee State
  • Vs. Ole Miss

The Bulldogs have been to bowl games in each of the last 11 seasons.  They need to find a win on that schedule and the game at home against Tennessee State looks good from here…

Auburn 31  Ole Miss 20:  Here is another game where the stat sheet is much closer than the scoreboard.  The difference in offensive output was only 21 yards.  Auburn QB, Bo Nix, had an efficient and effective game passing for 276 yards including one TD pass and rushing for two more scores.  Ole Miss turned the ball over on downs 3 times in the second half.  Auburn has only 1 SEC loss; they have a difficult schedule ahead of them, but if they can get to the Iron Bowl against Alabama with only 1 loss, then a win there would put Auburn in the SEC Championship game against Georgia.  Here is Auburn’s schedule:

  • At Texas A&M
  • Vs. Mississippi St.
  • At South Carolina
  • Vs. Alabama

Georgia 34  Florida 7:  In terms of offense the teams were even; Florida gained 355 yards and Georgia gained 354 yards.   The score was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter; then, the score was 24-7 at halftime.  How did that happen?  Here are the Florida possessions in the second quarter:

  1. Turnover on Downs
  2. Fumble
  3. INT
  4. INT
  5. Halftime.

Georgia has Mizzou, Tennessee and Ga Tech (as Division 1-A teams) left on its schedule. With their win last week and Kentucky’s loss to Mississippi St., I believe Georgia is guaranteed to be the SEC East champion this year. They will be huge favorites in two of those games and will probably be only a 10-point favorite over Tennessee.  That will put Georgia in the SEC Championship Game – – and unless they get totally blown out there, I see them headed to the CFP.

            Out there in PAC-12 territory …

Washington St 34  Arizona St. 21:  The stat sheet for this game says it should have gone to OT.  Sun Devils gained 406 and the Cougars gained 400 yards.  The difference here is rather obvious:

  • Arizona St had 5 turnovers (2 INTs and 3 lost fumbles)
  • Washington St. had 1 turnover (an INT)

Utah 44  UCLA 24:  There is another game that was very close on the stat sheet but not on the scoreboard.  Utah scored touchdowns on its first 4 possessions and never looked back.  Utah now leads the PAC-12 South Division with only 1 conference loss; Arizona State is second in the South with 2 losses.

Oregon 52  Colorado 29:  This outcome was never in doubt.  The Ducks led the game 45-14 at the start of the 4th quarter.  Oregon leads the PAC-12 North with 1 conference loss.

Cal 39  Oregon St.  25:  By losing here, Oregon St. now has 2 conference losses  in the North Division.  If they can get to the final game against Oregon with only two losses, they could win the division with a victory over the Ducks.  Cal showed balance on offense along with efficiency.  The Bears gained 258 yards in the air and 245 yards on the ground.  Cal was also 12 for 18 on third down attempts.  Three turnovers by the Beavers did not help their cause.

USC 41  Arizona 34:  Arizona is still winless at 0-8.  The USC defense should not be proud of this game giving up 34 points.  In the 7 games leading up to this, Arizona had never scored as many as 20 points in a game and had been shut out once by Colorado.

In miscellaneous college football games:

Nevada 51  UNLV 20:  UNLV drops to 0-8.  Nevada gained only 20 yards (18 carries) rushing but then again UNLV only gained 10 yards rushing (24 carries).  Clearly this was an aerial contest…

Fresno St. 30  San Diego St. 20:  That is the first loss for San Diego St.  In the West Division of the Mountain West Conference, there are three teams with only one conference loss – – Fresno St., San Diego St. and Nevada.  Fresno State would own the tiebreakers here since it has beaten both Nevada and San Diego St.

Houston 44  SMU 37:  This is the first loss for SMU; both teams are now 7-1 for the season.  Houston led 20-0 late in the first quarter but the game turned out to be a close game in the end.  The Cougars have won 7 in a row since losing in Week 1 to Texas Tech.

Coastal Carolina 35  Troy 28:  Troy is a 4-4 team.  Maybe the “Coastal Carolina mystique” is no more?

Cincy 31  Tulane 12:  The score was 14-12 at the half; this was not a dominating performance by Cincy.  Tulane is a 1-win team and that win came at the expense of Division 1- AA Morgan St.  Another head-shaker here is that Tulane has given up 40 or more points in 5 of their 7 losses; Cincy only scored 31…

Liberty 62  UMass 17:  Liberty covered 5 TDs this time…  The score was 41-3 at halftime.

Foreshadowing… Starting next week I will be focusing on the teams that are in contention for an invitation to my imaginary SHOE Tournament – – where we could det3erming on the field which team is the worst team in the country for 2021.


College Football Games of Interest:


(Fri Nite) Utah – 9 at Stanford (54):  This is an important game for the Utes as they seek to maintain control of the standings in the PAC-12 South Division.  Interestingly, the spread for this game opened at 6 points and jumped to 7 points almost immediately.  The spread hung in at 7 points until Thursday when it went up to 9 points in the span of a couple of hours.

Army at Air Force – 3 (37.5):  Get ready for running plays in this game.  Air Force leads the nation in rushing attempts per game (63.8) and in rushing yards per game (318.4)  Army is second in the nation in rushing attempts per game (63.6) and is also second in the country in rushing yards per game (312.3).  Games between the service academies are always fun to watch…

Pitt – 21 at Duke (64):  Pitt could use a “get-right game” now after losing last week to Miami.  Duke will give them that opportunity.

NC State – 2.5 at Florida State (56):  The Seminoles were within a score of Clemson down to the final play of the game last week.  NC State cannot afford a loss which might put them 2 games behind Wake Forest in the ACC Atlantic Division race.

Wisconsin – 13 at Rutgers (38):  Rutgers is looking for two wins to become bowl eligible; this is not likely to be one of the places they will find one.  I will say, however, that this is a large spread to cover in what looks to be a very low scoring game.

Clemson – 4 at Louisville (46):  If Louisville loses here, it will be their 4th conference loss; they are irrelevant in the ACC Championship Game picture.  If Clemson loses, it will their 3rd conference loss and they too would become irrelevant.  An interesting game…

Iowa – 12 at Northwestern (40.5):  The Hawkeyes began the season 6-0 with wins over teams like Iowa State and Penn State.  They have lost their last two games and have only scored 7 points in each of those losses.  As an homage to Bill Cullen on To Tell the Truth:

  • Will the real Iowa Hawkeyes please stand up.

Houston – 13 at USF (53):   A let-down game for the Cougars after beating undefeated SMU last week?

Indiana at Michigan – 20 (51):  The Wolverines cannot afford another in-conference loss…

Wake Forest at UNC – 2.5 (77):  The oddsmakers believe that the Deacons’ perfect season will come to an end here.  Regarding that big number on the Total Line consider:

  • Wake is 5th in the nation in scoring (43.8 points per game).
  • UNC is 22nd in the nation in scoring (36.5 points per game).

K-State – 24 at Kansas (56):  This is a rivalry game where one of the rivals just stinks.

Florida – 18 at South Carolina (53):  Florida coach Dan Mullen really needs his Gators to win this game convincingly…

Baylor – 6.5 at TCU (58.5):  Baylor needs a win to stay within shouting distance of Oklahoma in the Big-12.  TCU will either be emotionally charged or emotionally let down by the news of Coach Patterson’s leaving the school.  Baylor is the better team and I think their motivation here is more predictable; I’ll take the Bears to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six Pack.

Oregon St. – 10.5 at Colorado (54):  This is an important game for the Beavers as they strive to maintain relevancy in the PAC-12 North.  For Colorado, this is just another football game…

USC at Arizona St. – 8.5 (60):  This is an important conference game for the Sun Devils; not so much for the Trojans.

Missouri at Georgia – 39 (60):  Even with that spread, this is a conference game and not a body bag game…

Ohio St. – 14.5 at Nebraska (66):  The Buckeyes have been on a roll since losing to Oregon in Week 2.  Since that game, they have only been held under 41 points once – – last week against Penn State.  Ohio State leads the country in total Offense at 547.6 yards per game.  Nebraska ranks 44th in the country in Total Defense and 26th in the country in scoring defense.  I like the Buckeyes to keep rolling here to stay in the Big-10 East picture and to maintain the attention of the CFP Selection Committee; I’ll take them on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Mississippi  St. at Arkansas – 5.5 (55):  The Bulldogs need one more win for bowl eligibility; can they squeeze it out here?  I mentioned above that State’s QB, Will Rogers went 36 for 39 passing last week.  Here is data mining stat:

  • Against SEC opponents, Arkansas allows 66% pass completions.

I like the Bulldogs on the road plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Oklahoma St. – 4 at West Virginia (49):  The Cowboys cannot afford another conference loss, but this is a dangerous game for them.  West Virginia is a tough out in Morgantown…

Tennessee – 1 at Kentucky (56):  The spread here opened with Kentucky as a 3-point favorite, but it has moved slowly and steadily in the direction of Tennessee all week long.

Michigan St. – 3 at Purdue (53):  The Boilermakers were the ones to hand Iowa its first loss of the season; can they do that again to Sparty?  Is this a classic let-down game for Michigan St. coming off a big win in a big rivalry game last week against Michigan?

Auburn at Texas A&M – 4 (49):  This is a big game for the Aggies; they still have a path to the SEC Championship Game.  They need to beat Auburn here and then root for Auburn to beat Alabama.  Since Texas A&M beat Alabama on the field, they would own the tiebreakers there.

Oregon – 7 at Washington (51):  This is an intense rivalry that gets far less coverage than it deserves.

Cal – 11.5 at Arizona (51):  Is this where Arizona finds its first win of the season?  I don’t think so…

UNLV at New Mexico – 1.5 (45):  Is this where UNLV finds its first win of the season?  They have a real shot here because New Mexico is not a good football team.

LSU at Alabama – 28.5 (67):  In recent years, LSU would not have been a 4 TD underdog to half of the NFL teams…


NFL Commentary:


Teams with a BYE Week this weekend:

  1. Bucs:  They lost last week and have two weeks to prepare for the Football Team.
  2. Football Team:  They lost last week and have two weeks to prepare for the Bucs.
  3. Lions:  They lost last week – – as they seem to do every week of every year…
  4. Seahawks:  They won last week and hope to have Russell Wilson back on the field next week.

Over the last two editions of Football Friday, I have taken note of how many blowout games there have been in the NFL and wondered if growing numbers of non-competitive games might damage the league’s popularity.  This week, NFL Insider, Jason LaCanfora, on echoed my thoughts.  You can find the entirety of his comments here.

Here are a few of his comments:

“We aren’t even at the midpoint of the 2021 season – the first of the expanded 17 game schedule – and there appears to be no end of high-school style beatdowns that are over in many cases before halftime.”

And …

“It feels like there is a blowout problem arising. Sometimes when it’s quite predictable, and occasionally when it’s not.   But, most often, it is one of the usual suspects involved, and Vegas is going to have to continue pushing the point spread to new highs in many cases to account for the trend.”

And …

“We’ll see if this ends up being a blip. Or if these egregiously lopsided kind of affairs are something we can come to expect a few times in each expanded window. But the degree to which some of these teams are unable to put forth a fight for even a half feels a little bit like what MLB is going through.”

With that as a prelude, there were “only” 3 outrageous games last week; I have pulled them out of the pile of results from last week…

Seahawks 31  Jags 7:  The Jags won the stat sheet 309 yards to 229 yards.  Geno Smith was efficient if not spectacular throwing for 195 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs.  The Seahawks’ defense has been heavily criticized this year, but it was pitching a shutout until the final two minutes of the game when the Jags finally scored.  That was the Jags’ only visit to the Red Zone all day long.  In addition, the Seahawks’ defenders stopped the Jags on 3 fourth-down tries.

Rams 38  Texans 22:  This is a blowout game because the score was 38 – 0 at the end of the third quarter.  Matthew Stafford threw for 305 yards and 3 TDs. The Rams’ defense recorded 5 sacks in the game.

Eagles 44  Lions 6:  This was the “early game” on FOX in my viewing area – – until the score was 31-0 and they switched us over to a “more competitive game”.   Jalen Hurts only threw for 114 yards in this game but the Eagles ran the ball for 236 yards on 46 carries.  (They only attempted 14 passes in the game.)  They held the ball for 35 minutes and converted 5 of 10 third down situations.  The Eagles’ defense sacked Jared Goff six times and pressured him continuously.  Frankly, the Lions  played as if someone had dissolved Quaaludes in their sideline Gatorade.

The rest of the games were as competitive as we have come to expect from the NFL…

Panthers 19  Falcons 13:  There was not a lot of offense in this game.  Matt Ryan threw for 146 yards, and he was the most prolific passer on the field.  A big difference in the game was third-down efficiency; the Panthers converted 10 of 17 situations while the Falcons went 3 for 10.  Panthers’ QB, Sam Darnold had to leave the game with a concussion and was in the league protocol for concussions.  Calvin Ridley did not play in the game for personal reasons; that could not have been something Matt Ryan wished for.

Steelers 15  Browns 10:  This game was the CBS early time slot game in my viewing area.  It was about as artistic an endeavor as an axe fight.  Steelers’ kicker, Chris Bowell was injured in the game on a fake kick and the Steelers had to try two-point attempts after their two TDs in the game; neither of those conversions worked.  The Browns had the only turnover in the game, and it came in the 4th quarter while the game was a one-score contest.  Ben Roethlisberger’s record against the Browns in Cleveland for his career is now 12-2-1.  The Steelers’ defense deserves plenty of credit for this win holding the Browns to 10 points and only 3 of 10 third down conversions.

Saints 36  Bucs 27:  Jameis Winston had to be helped off the field in the first half with a knee injury incurred when he was “horse-collar tackled” on a scramble.  Trevor Siemian came in to finish the game and posted a positive stat line:

  • 16 of 29 for 159 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs

That may not look as gaudy as Tom Brady’s stat line – – but it was enough to win the game:

  • 28 of 40 for 375 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs

The Saints took the lead at 29-27 in the final two minutes with a 23-yard field goal.  On the next possession, Tom Brady threw a Pick Six to end the game.  This win puts the Saints on a par with the Bucs in the NFC South since both teams have 2 losses on the season – – and the Saints hold the tiebreaker as of now.  These tams will meet again on December 19th in Tampa.  Circle that game; it should be a critical game in the standings.

Here is the most interesting thing to me about the outcome of this game:

  • The Saints have beaten the Packers – resoundingly – and the Bucs.  Those are two excellent teams.
  • Meanwhile the Saints have lost to the Giants – a bad team in the same season.

Broncos 17  Football Team 10:  The game was tied at 10 apiece at the start of the 4th quarter.  Melvin Gordon scored his second TD of the game in the final 5 minutes to give the Broncos the lead.  Later, he lost a fumble at the Denver 24 yardline giving the Football Team a shot to tie the game in the final minute; but the Broncos’ defense held on for the win.  The Football Team saw its recently signed kicker, Chris Blewitt have two field goals blocked in the game.  The first was not much of a block because the ball was only about 6 feet off the ground when it reached the line of scrimmage where all the linemen were pushing and shoving one another.  Two weeks ago, the Football Team demonstrated total ineptitude in the Red Zone against the Packers and last week they got to the Red Zone twice and scored zero points.  The Broncos’ defense had 5 sacks and stopped the Football Team on 4 fourth-down tries.

I ran across this stat from this game:

  • WFT ran 19 plays inside the Broncos 30-yardline.  Total offense on those 19 plays was 17 yards.  Eleven of those plays resulted in either no gain, a loss or a turnover.
  • Yowza!

Pats 27  Chargers 24:  The stat sheet for the game was as close as the scoreboard.  The Pats’ offense was not particularly efficient, but the Pats got 4 field goals and a Pick-Six TD in the game.  The Chargers gained 163 yards rushing on only 20 carries.

Bills 26  Dolphins 11:  This game was 3-3 at halftime; here are the results of the first three possessions by the Dolphins in the second half:

  1. Three and out
  2. Three and out
  3. Three and out

The Dolphins’ defense tried to keep it close, and the score was a manageable 10-3 after three quarters.  The Bills put the game away in the 4th quarter with two TDs and a field goal in their 3 possessions in that 4th quarter.  The Dolphins turned the ball over twice including an INT in the final 3 minutes of the game.

Jets 34  Bengals 31:  I said last week in reference to this game that the oddsmakers feared a letdown game from the Bengals after beating the Ravens in Baltimore two weeks ago.  Well, this was a letdown.  Mike White made his first NFL start for the Jets; he threw for 405 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs, and the Jets amassed 511 yards on offense for the day.  The Bengals led 24-17 at the start of the 4th quarter and coughed up a hairball from that point on.  The Jets held the Bengals to 41 yards rushing for the day.  The Jets have only 2 wins this year but they have come at the expense of the Bengals and the Titans – – two division leading teams.  The Jets’ defense sacked Joe Burrow 3 times in the game.

Niners 33 Bears 22:  The Niners dominated the stat sheet 467 yards to 324  yards.  Nevertheless, the Bears led 13-9 at halftime and 16-15 at the start of the 4th quarter.  Here are the second half possessions for the Niners; it is not an endorsement for the Bears’ defensive unit – – although to be fair Khalil Mack was not on the field for the game:

  • TD
  • TD
  • TD
  • Field Goal
  • Kneel out the game

Justin Fields ran for 103 yards and a TD in the game.  Jimmy Garoppolo ran for 4  yards and 2 TDs in the game.  Seriously …

Titans 34  Colts 31 (OT):  This was a game of momentum swings.  The Colts took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but only led 17-14 at the half.  This win puts the Titans firmly in command of the AFC South race.  The Titans have two losses, and the Colts have 5 losses – – including ceding the tiebreaker to the Titans in the process.  This score of this game is one that the Titans seem fond of in 2021; consider these results from earlier in the 2021 season:

  • October 31:  Titans 34  Colts 31  (OT)
  • October 18:  Titans 34  Bills 31
  • September 19:  Titans 33  Seahawks 30 (OT)

Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury that some reports say will be season ending   He had surgery on the foot in the last week; the Titans signed Adrian Peterson to the practice squad; it does not look good for a Derrick Henry return this season.  It is easy to say that the Titans offense for the last year and a half has “run through Derrick Henry.”  That is not a cheap attempt at a play on words; it is simply a statement of fact.

Cowboys 20  Vikes 16:  No Dak Prescott; no problem.  Cooper Rush played QB for the Cowboys and acquitted himself very properly here:

  • 24 of 40 for 325 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

For the game, the Cowboys had 142 more  yards on offense than the Vikes had, but two turnovers and 11 penalties against the Cowboys for 96 yards kept the game close.  The winning TD came with 55 seconds left in the game when Cooper Rush hit Amari Cooper for a short TD.

Chiefs 20  Giants 17:  This was hardly an impressive win for the reigning AFC Champion against a team that is 2-6.  The Giants led early in the 4th quarter 17-14; however, in the 4th quarter, the Chiefs drove for two field goals while the Giants’ possessions produced a punt and then a turnover on downs.  The schedule for the Chiefs for the rest of the 2021 season is most difficult.

  • As of this morning, the Chiefs will not play a team with a losing record between now and the final game on Jan 9, 2022.


NFL Games:

Yes, I watched some of last night’s Colts/Jets game; the first quarter was interesting; after that…  The Jets had no answer for Jonathan Taylor who averaged 9.4 yards per carry in the game.  The Colts as a team ran the ball for 260 yards.  Mike White injured his arm and had to leave the game; at that point, the Jets’ fate was sealed. 

Texans at Dolphins – 5.5 (46):  The spread here opened at 7 points; the drop means there was “excess money” coming into the sportsbooks on the Texans.  Why anyone would bet on this game is a mystery to me.  Yes, I know; Tyrod Taylor is back to play QB for the Texans this week; maybe that is what “moved the line”.  This is unequivocally the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.    The loser here will likely gain in the competition for a high draft pick in 2022; other than that, there should be no interest here.

Broncos at Cowboys – 10 (49):  The Broncos’ defense is good, but the Broncos’ offense is less than mediocre.  I cannot see how the Broncos can keep pace.

Vikes at Ravens – 6 (49.5):  The Vikes play to their competition’s level and the Ravens are a good opponent.  The Ravens had a BYE Week last week to prepare for this one.  I have a hunch that the Ravens’; coaches were all over the defense for the last two weeks after a miserable outing last time and that the defense will show up lean and mean this week.  Give me the Ravens at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Pats – 3.5 at Panthers (40.5):  Bill Belichick has done a number on Sam Darnold and his former teammates in NY over the past couple of years.  He can do it again this time despite a stronger cast around Darnold – – and this assumes Darnold is fully recovered from his concussion last week.  I like the Pats to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Bills – 14.5 at Jags (48.5):  I think the Bills will get themselves back to their norm after a week to ponder a lackluster showing against the Dolphins last week and will turn this into a rout.

Browns at Bengals – 2.5 (47):  This could be the Game of the Week if you live in Ohio and/or are a fan of any AFC North team.  However, we take a larger and longer view here in Curmudgeon Central; it is a good game but not the best one of the week.  Once again, Odell Beckham, Jr. is in the middle of a team soap opera in Cleveland.  Don’t look now, but the Browns are in last place in the division.

Raiders – 3 at Giants (46):  It is a long trip and a “body clock game” for the Raiders.  The good news is that it will be the Giants that take the field against them.  The Raiders lead the AFC West this morning; they have plenty of reasons to take this game seriously.

Falcons at Saints – 7 (42):  Which Saints team will we see?  The one that beat the Bucs last week and that beat the Packers by 5 TDs earlier this year? Or the one that lost to the Giants?

Chargers – 1 at Eagles (50):  The spread opened as “pick ‘em” and expanded from there.  One sportsbook this morning had the line at 2.5 points.  This is another “body clock game”  for a west coast team but the fact is that the Chargers are the more talented team.  The Chargers have lost 2 games in a row and are in danger of falling out of contention; the Chargers will put a stop to that in this game; I like the Chargers to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Packers at Chiefs – 7 (48):  This is an example of the “Aaron Rodgers Effect”.  This game opened as a “pick ‘em” game – – until Rodgers was ruled out for a positive COVID-19 test.  This would have been the Game of the Week until that positive COVID-19 test.  Now, the interesting thing will be to see how much Jordan Love has learned by studying and practicing alongside Aaron Rodgers.  The key to the game now is simple:

  • The Packers will emphasize the running game.
  • The Chiefs have been vulnerable to the run all year long.
  • Can the Chiefs contain the Packers’ running game?

Cardinals at Niners – 1 (45):  Kyler Murray sprained an ankle 2 weeks ago and it looked as if it were still bothering/limiting him last week.  Is it fully healed?  DeAndre Hopkins had limited practice time last week.  Is he near full strength?  When you marry those injuries/limitations with the absence of JJ Watt from a leadership position on the defense, this game could be a lot closer than the team records in 2021 might indicate.

(Sun Nite) Titans at Rams – 7 (52.5):  Here is the Game of the Week.  The Titans have significant adversity to overcome with Derrick Henry on the shelf.  With the Colts victory last night, the Titans could see their 4-game lead cut to 3 games only a week after beating the Colts head-to-head.  The Rams hope that Von Miller is a quick study and that he is ready to contribute on defense.

(Mon Nite) Bears at Steelers – 6.5 (39):  The game should be close; that is the reason to watch it.  It would take a lot of imagination to think that this will be an exciting offensive display.

Let me add in here a College Football Money Line Parlay:

  • Ole Miss at minus-330
  • Mississippi St, at +160
  • Fresno St. at minus-200.
  • Parlay wins $408 on a $100 wager

And for good measure, here is an NFL Money Line Parlay:

  • Patriots at minus-180
  • Chargers at minus-120
  • Steelers at minus-280
  • Parlay wins $287 on a $100 wager.

Finally, I will close here with an NFL observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“The Minnesota Vikings are turning their practice facility into a community COVID-vaccination site.

“Hardcore fans are demanding to take their shots downfield.”

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



Kudos To The Atlanta Braves…

Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves as the 2021 World Series Champions.  When the Braves lost the services of Marcell Ozuna back in June when his wife charged him with domestic violence, the Braves were languishing in the NL East standings and then when they lost Ronald Acuña, Jr. in July, I thought the Braves were out of the running to make the playoffs. However, a flurry of in-season acquisitions and some great pitching down the stretch put them in the playoffs where the team just caught fire.  The team and the Front Office deserve their accolades.

Diametrically opposite sentiments should go out today to Henry Ruggs II.  He has been released by the Las Vegas Raiders after a fatal car accident where Ruggs had pending felony DUI charges and in an incident where the police say Ruggs was driving at 156 mph.  According to Las Vegas authorities, in addition to the excessive speed – – no, I do not know how the police determined that – – they say that Ruggs blood alcohol was twice the legal limit and just for giggles, they found a loaded gun in the car he was driving.

Earlier this week, I got an email from a reader who is in suburban Paris, France for the Fall season.  He has subscribed to ESPN Player so that he can watch college football while outside the US.  Here is the meat of his communication:

“Well, as I watch the ACC network in particular (as well as other games of interest) it seems that at every exchange of possession they break for a commercial.  Having been physically present at the recent [UNC/Duke] game I noted that the network official on the field that holds up the digital sign to show the length for a commercial generally informed us that we would sit for up to at least 3 minutes while someone sold beer or gold coins or whatever!!

How in the world can any football team develop any rhythm with these sorts of breaks?  Also, how stupid of me to have to sit and stare at a basically blank screen telling me that the game is on commercial break?  In addition, since the ESPN Player app doesn’t even show commercial content I’m treated to a graphic and truly obnoxious music.

“Anyway…I know it’s all about money and I’m about to swear it all off (if only I could) but did want to raise and rant about this to you thinking that your vast audience might find some empathy and concern for the same issue…and that you might have some pithy thoughts to share.

“If not, that’s OK, I feel better on this Tuesday late afternoon here in suburban Paris in having gotten this off my chest.  Of course, I do have the option here of waiting until the games etc. are over and I can watch them on replay on Sunday W/O any interruption and maybe already knowing the outcome.”

There is certainly not a lot in that message that needs to be contradicted – – because the reader is correct.  I and others have noted that college football games are now trending toward game times that range from 3 hours and 45 minutes to 4 hours.  Part of the time expansion can be ameliorated by some rule changes I have advocated in the past, but the money generated by advertising is directly proportional to two things:

  1. The size of the audience which drives up the cost per 30 seconds of air time
  2. The number of seconds of advertising sold at whatever is the rate.

The reader here is completely correct to note that it is about the money and not about the games.  Why do you think the MAC plays games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays?  Answer:  They get paid to do so and they would not get as much if they only played on weekends because MAC games are – generally speaking – less interesting than other college football game options.  It is about the money – – exclamation point!

I think that the lack of a universal overseer in college football exacerbates the problem.  In the NFL, the league office controls the number of games to be telecast and it makes sure that each of its “broadcast partners” gets a fair share of national games where there is little choice for fans to go and watch a different game.  Such is not the case in college football and in that circumstance, many of the games draw a limited number of eyeballs.  Lower numbers of viewers lead to lower rates for 30-second ads when then means there need to be more of those lower-rate 30-second ads to generate desired levels of revenue.

There is another issue that leads to limited audiences for many college football games and that is inherent in the sport.  Passionate interest in college football comes from alums and students.  Let me use myself as an example here; I went to an Ivy League school so my allegiance to games involving ACC teams is nil; I will watch games on the ACC Network for two reasons:

  1. It is an important game involving two teams generally thought to be among the better teams nationally.
  2. I just like college football in general and happen to settle on that ACC game as something to watch.

On a normal Saturday here in the DC area, I have the option to watch about 20-24 college football games from noon until about 2:00 AM on Sunday morning.  That divides the audience pretty effectively; lots of folks can find access to a game that has an emotional link for them, but all those folks are not likely to pick the same game.

Let me channel President Clinton here and say:

  • I feel your pain…

I also know that the quest to reach revenue targets works to assure that the number of ad slots wedged into individual college football games is unlikely to decrease any time soon.  Those are the thoughts I have to share on the matter; sorry that they were not nearly “pithy.”

Finally, having touched on the subject of DUI above, let me close with this observation by humorist, Robert Benchley:

“Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it’s compounding a felony.”

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



Soccer Stuff…

I ran across a report about a week ago that said the folks at FIFA headquarters in Zurich were “exploring the possibilities” for moving significant parts of those headquarters to a city in the US.  That caught my attention because in Europe – and in many other parts of the world – futbol/soccer is the predominant sporting enterprise and sporting interest.  In the US, soccer is at best the fourth most important sport and most likely the sixth or seventh most important sport.  So, I wondered why FIFA would even consider such a change.

The part of the organization that might be moved would be the folks who oversee the commercial side of FIFA’s activities.  Those are the folks who do things like negotiate media rights deals and official sponsorships for entities under FIFA’s domain.  According to the report I read, FIFA itself as the sport’s global overseer takes in more than $2B per year.  That number tells me that there would be more than a couple of US cities that would seek to be the landing spot for that enterprise.

According to the report, the folks at FIFA see a presence in the US as valuable for two reasons:

  1. There are plenty of people in the US that have experience dealing with the financial and commercial aspects of major sporting enterprises.  FIFA sees a talent pool here that can run its current operations and potentially expand them.  Current rules in Zurich demand that FIFA employ a minimum number of Swiss employees; presumably, that would not be the case in the US.
  2. If a FIFA presence here were to spark interest in soccer in the US – and soccer indeed is growing in interest and importance here – then there is room for a lot of market expansion for FIFA to exploit.

Several years ago, the US Department of Justice indicted several FIFA officials on corruption and bribery charges.  Those charges led to a change in FIFA leadership and prodded the Swiss authorities to launch its own investigation.  Nothing much has happened on the Swiss side of that investigation leading the current FIFA leadership to be at odds with the local authorities.  Suffice it to say that FIFA officials and Swiss officials do not see eye to eye on several matters.

As with any complicated agreement, there are hundreds of details to be worked out before anyone starts packing up their household things in Zurich for shipment to Wherever, USA.  However, this is an interesting development when you recall  that FIFA’s World Cup Tournament will be held in the US in 2026.

Let me stick with the sport of soccer for a while longer today and draw your attention to the darker side of the sport.  Soccer is a passion in various parts of the world that goes beyond the visceral levels of fandom here in the US.

  • Recall that a Colombian player named Escobar accidentally scored an “own goal” that knocked his Colombian national team out of a World Cup tournament about 30 years ago.  He was murdered about a week after that “own goal”.
  • Also recall that English soccer clubs were banned from participation in European soccer events about 40 years ago because of the hooliganism of English fans who would travel to see their team play.  Some Liverpool fans were tried and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after a melee in Belgium.

I bring that up because just this week a soccer coach for a team in a “third-tier Argentine league” in northwestern Argentina was shot in the shoulder after gunfire broke out at a soccer match; indications are that he was “collateral damage” and not the target of the gunfire.  Nevertheless, whatever it was that incited fans to fight among themselves – – reports say that the fighting erupted among fans of only one of the sides and not between supporters of both teams – – led quickly to gunfire.  That side, Huracan Las Heras, issued a statement about its fans.  They want real fans to attend games and they want the troublemakers to stay home so that the “real fans” and their families can come to the games.

One last soccer item for today …  I happened to glance at the English Premier League (EPL) table – or standings – recently and noted that the season is about 25% over.  As usual, there are a half dozen dominant teams and a half dozen teams whose only realistic objective for the season is to seek to avoid relegation to a lower-level league where revenues are also lower – – much lower.  There is an interesting symmetry expressed by the top team and the bottom team in the EPL as of today.

  • Chelsea has played 10 games.  They have 8 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw.
  • Norwich has played 10 games.  They  have 0 wins, 8 losses and 2 draws.
  • Chelsea has scored 26 goals and allowed 3 goals in those 10 games.
  • Norwich has scored 3 goals and allowed 25 goals in those 10 games.

Naturally, I had to go and see if Chelsea and Norwich had played each other yet this  year.  [Aside: The EPL schedule has every team playing every other team twice in a season; there are no divisions or conferences there.]  Indeed, the two sides met on October 23rd at Chelsea’s home field; here was the result:

  • Chelsea  7
  • Norwich  0

As bad as that looks, the stats for that game are even more startling.  Chelsea took 23 shots in the game and 13 were recorded as “on target”.  Norwich took 3 shots in the game and only 1 was “on target”.  Unless Norwich has about a half-dozen quality players recovering from injuries who will be back on the team soon, I think the team owners had better plan to take in significantly less revenue next year as the team is relegated to the Championship League.  As they teach you in the Boy Scouts, “Be prepared.”

Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close today with this observation by author, Fran Lebowitz:

“Smoking is, as far as I am concerned, the entire point of being an adult.  Many people find smoking objectionable.  I myself find many – even more – things objectionable.  I do not like aftershave lotion, adults who roller-skate, children who speak French, or anyone who is unduly tan.  I do not, however, go around enacting legislation and putting up signs.”

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



All Baseball – – Most Of It Off The Field

As someone with no rooting interest in the World Series, I am happy that the Astros rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win last night.  Given that the teams will get today off to travel to Houston for Game 6, that gives me an unencumbered viewing of Monday Night Football tonight and then an uninterrupted view of Game 6 tomorrow night – – and perhaps Game 7 on Wednesday.  The batteries in my remote got a serious workout last night as I tried to follow two events in real time.  [Yes, I had the Cowboys/Vikes game recording so I could go back and get some of the things I did miss there.]

In a story related to baseball, those fun-loving folks at PETA – I like to think of it as People Eating Tasty Animals – have jumped on the seemingly endless trend these days to take offense at the name of something.  Last week PETA publicly called on MLB to change the term, “bullpen” to “arm barn”.  Here is the meat of their statement:

“Words matter and baseball’s ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals.  PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players and fans to change up their language and embrace the ‘arm barn’ instead.”

The folks at PETA must believe in the adage that any publicity is good publicity because this symbolic nonsense comes on the heels of a call from PETA earlier this year for the folks in Cleveland to add a “vegan hot dog” to the “contestants” in the “hot dog races” that take place between innings at games at Progressive Field there.

Dwight Perry reacted to this call from PETA in the Seattle Times over the weekend:

“PETA wants baseball to stop using the term ‘bullpen,’ saying it is a holding place for cattle about to be butchered and no place for pitchers.

“But still passing muster, for now: ducks on the pond, dying quail, gopher ball and dog days of summer.”

And, if I may add to Perry’s list, when a pitcher enters the game from the “arm barn” he will immediately have to deal with an opposing player who is using a BAT!  In deference to those flying mammals, should we call that a bludgeon and the player a bludgeoner?

Enough already…

In somewhat positive news related to baseball, there have been reports saying that there is progress in the negotiations between the Oakland A’s and the local governments in and around Oakland that could lead to the A’s remining in Oakland with a new place to play their games.  It is not a “done deal” but reports call the latest happening “clearing a major hurdle”.  Here is the deal:

  • The Alameda County Board of Supervisors – – Oakland is in Alameda County – – approved a “non-binding resolution to commit tax dollars to the $12 billion Howard Terminal project.”

The “Howard Terminal project” is a major development proposition which would build a baseball-only stadium at a waterfront property in Oakland.  In addition to the stadium, the project includes the building of:

  • 3,000 residential units
  • 1.8 million square feet of space for commercial use
  • A hotel

The owners of the A’s want to do the development and to recover some of the costs “through tax revenue”.  It is not totally clear what that means or how that might work but this move by the County Board of Supervisors comes on the heels of a previous commitment by the Oakland City Council – – in another “non-binding resolution” – – to allow the team to recover through tax funds the stadium-related infrastructure but would not allow about $350M in revenue recapture for infrastructure in the rest of the development area.

So, here is the way I understand the situation:

  • There is still negotiating to be done and the votes by both governing bodies to date is merely a signal to all the parties to keep at the negotiating.
  • I guess the idea of cost recovery through tax revenue means that the developers would get either a tax rebate or reduced taxes on revenues generated via the project up to a certain amount.
  • If that assumption is close to correct, then it would appear that there might be two tax rebate “bundles” from which the developers might draw – – the one approved by the City and another approved recently by the County.

I must say that I do not understand how the passage of two non-binding resolutions is categorized as clearing a major hurdle for this development project – – although I guess it would have been a major buzzkill if either or both bodies had voted against these non-binding resolutions.  Obviously, the Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, sees the County Board’s vote in a much rosier light than I do saying that the Board of Supervisor’s action:

“…paves a clear path to keep the A’s rooted in Oakland and build a world-class waterfront ballpark district that will benefit Bay Area residents for generations to come.”

As Yogi Berra was reported to have said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Finally, since I cited Dwight Perry above, here is another of his observations from the Seattle Times:

“The Mets have reportedly turned to Chris Christie — the former New Jersey governor — for advice in their ill-fated search for a general manager.

“When asked what advice he could possibly offer, a Mets spokesman said they’ll close that bridge when they come to it.”

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



Football Friday 10/29/21

TGIF – – Thank God It’s Friday – – is a common state of mind in workplaces around the country.  Here in Curmudgeon Central that acronym is modified slightly to become TGIFF – – Thank God It’s Football Friday.  So let me get into it and review last week’s Six-Pack:

  • College  =  1-0-0
  • NFL  =  3-2-0
  • Total  =  4-2-0

That brings the cumulative season totals to:

  • College  =  7-7-0
  • NFL  =  13-14-1
  • Total  =  20-21-1


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats extended their record to 6-0 for the season last week beating Pacific Lutheran 52-7.  In five of their six victories, Linfield has scored more than 50 points.  This week Linfield hosts the George Fox Bruins in McMinnville.  The Bruins have a record of 4-2 for the season and have won their last 4 games in a row.  Both teams are undefeated in Northwest Conference games this year.  Go Wildcats!

Taking a quick peek at the schools in contention for the Brothel Defense Award – given to the team that allows others to score most easily:

  • Tulane gives up 42.3 points per game
  • UMass gives up 44 points per game
  • Arkansas St. gives up 44 points per game

Texas Tech fired Matt Wells as its head football coach this week.  This is interesting because Tech is 5-3 this season and the last time the Red Raiders had a winning season in football was 2015.  I would have thought that a 5-3 start to the 2021 season might get him a contract extension.  By the way, the last time Texas Tech had a winning record in Big-12 Conference games was in 2009; Mike Leach was the coach that year and he too was fired during the season.

One a more generic level, I wonder about one of the ongoing storylines for this college football season.  Cincy has gotten a lot of support as an “outsider team” to break into the CFP this year.  So, I wonder what might happen if the following comes to pass:

  • On November 20 Cincy with a 10-0 record hosts SMU with a 9-0 record.
  • Suppose SMU wins that game on the road.
  • Does the narrative immediately flip to SMU worthiness for the CFP – – because there has been little evidence of that narrative to this point of the season?

UNLV has a large replica of a slot machine on its football sidelines this year.  Whenever the team scores or creates a turnover, players gather round the slot machine and pull the lever.  That seems harmlessly clever; University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a slot machine; a natural connection.  However, there is a meta-message here and it is not nearly as benign:

  • UNLV has lost every game to date this year.
  • Slot machines are programmed to assure that players using them are losers in the long run.
  • Hmmm…

If there was a thread that ran through last week’s college football results, let me suggest that it would be unimpressive performances by ranked teams.  Let me pull those unimpressive results from the bulk of the commentary here to show what I mean.

#2Cincy 27  Navy 20:  This was not the kind of impressive win that a Top 5 team would be expected to put upon an opponent who arrived at the kickoff with a 1-5 record.  The Middies outgained the Bearcats 308 yards to 271 yards and had more first downs too (21 to 14).

#3Oklahoma 35  Kansas 23:  This was an ugly win for the Sooners; Kansas outgained Oklahoma 412 yards to 391 yards; Kansas had more first downs and Kansas converted on 9 of 13 third down tries.  The Jayhawks led 10-0 at the half and led 17-14 at the start of the 4th quarter.  If the CFP Selection Committee “snubs” the Sooners, the way they played in this game will probably be a major reason for the “snub”.

Illinois 20  #7 Penn State  18  (9OT):  And it was in State College no less. The Lions were 24.5-point favorites at kickoff.  This was the longest game in Division 1-A ever.  The total Penn State offense was 227 yards.  The only word I can come up with here is “shameful”.

Iowa St. 24  #8 Oklahoma St. 21:  Oklahoma leads the Big-12 with a 5-0 record; Iowa St, Oklahoma St. and Baylor have one loss in conference games.  Iowa St. drove 85 yards for a TD late in the 4th quarter to come from behind to win this game.  It was as even on the stat sheet as it was on the scoreboard.

Appalachian St. 30  #14 Coastal Carolina 27:  The pollsters and the people doing Top 25 rankings should now pose this question:

  • What lovely parting gifts do we have for the Chanticleers, Johnny?

This was no fluke.  Appalachian St. outgained Coastal Carolina by 226 yards of offense.  Coastal Carolina’s running game was shut down gaining all of 55  yards on 29 running attempts.  Two turnovers by Appalachian St. kept this game closer than it should have been.

Miami 31  #18NC State 30:  The stat sheet for this game was as close as the scoreboard was.  Miami played with a true freshman at QB, and Tyler Van Dyke exceeded any rational expectations anyone may have had as he filled in for injured starter D’Eriq King.  Van Dyke  was 25 of 33 for 325 yards passing and 4 TDs.  This is the first conference game loss for the Wolfpack who remain in contention for the ACC Atlantic Division title trailing only undefeated Wake Forest.

Wisconsin 30  #25Purdue 13:  The game was tied at 13 as the teams came out for the second half.  That is when the Badgers’ defense decided to pitch a shutout.

Seven of the Top 25 teams last week either lost outright or were most unimpressive in beating significantly lesser competition.  It makes one wonder about the validity of the rankings…

Moving on to Big -10 games from last weekend:

Michigan 33 Northwestern 7:  Michigan advances to 7-0.  The Wolverines rank #2 in the nation in scoring defense allowing only 14.3 points per game and they rank #11 in the nation in Total Defense allowing only 299 yards per game.  Michigan’s offense is no slouch either; they score an average of 37.7 points per game.  Last week, Michigan’s offense gained 457 yards and Michigan’s defense only allowed 233 yards.

Ohio State 54  Indiana 7:  The game was tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter; then the ass-kicking began.  The Buckeyes gained 559 yards on offense and held the Hoosiers to a mere 135 yards for the game.

For fans of ACC teams…

UVa 48  Ga Tech 40:  I said last week that there could be fireworks in this game; that was pretty much on point.  The teams combined to produce a total of 1206 yards of offense.  There were 59 first downs achieved in the game; the teams combined to go 13 for 24 on third-down tries – – whenever one of the defenses managed to create a third-down situation.

Pitt 27  Clemson 17:  Clemson’s offensive ineptitude was on display again here.  The Tigers gained only 309 yards  of offense for the day and 80 of those yards (more than 25 % of the game output) came on a single drive for a TD in the first quarter.  Pitt converted 11 of 19 third-down tries in the game.  The Panthers remain unbeaten in ACC games (and 6-1 overall) with this win.  Clemson has now lost twice in ACC games meaning they are really longshots to make it to the top of the ACC Atlantic Division this year.

Syracuse 41  VA Tech 36:  As the score indicates, there was plenty of offense in this game.  Syracuse amassed 545 yards and Tech gained 437 yards.  Tech led 36-27 with five-and-a-half minutes left in the game.  Syracuse got a TD on a short drive to narrow the margin to 36-33; then the Syracuse defense held and gave the ball to the offense at their own 30 yardline with just over a minute left to play.  Forty-five seconds later Syracuse scored the winning TD.  In my preseason essay on college football this year, I said that Va Tech coach, Justin Fuente, was probably on a warm seat that could get hot with some bad losses – – like this one…

Florida St. 59  UMass 3:  This is the kind of shellacking that the coaching staff at Florida St. needed to lay on such a mismatched opponent.  The Seminoles gained 586 yards on offense; the Minutemen managed only 241 yards.

Wake Forest 70  Army 56:  Wake gained 638 yards on offense; 458 of those yards came through the air.  Impressive.  Wake allowed Army to gain 599 yards of offense; 420 of those yards came on the ground.  Unimpressive.  The Wake Forest defenders need to say, “Thank you!” to the offensive guys this week; usually when you give up 8 TDs in a game, you lose that game…  Wake is still undefeated.

There were no Big-12 games of note other than the ones cited above as unimpressive performances, so let me move on to the SEC…

Texas A&M 44  South Carolina 14:  This game was 41-0 at the end of the third quarter.  South Carolina only produced 185 yards on offense for the day.

Alabama 52  Tennessee 24:  This game was close with 14 minutes left to play; the score then was 31-24.  From that point on, the Alabama defense asserted itself with an INT that led to a short-field TD and then forcing a turnover on downs allowing Bama to make this look more like a blowout than it was for most of the game.

Mississippi St. 45  Vandy 6:  Mississippi St. gained 522 yards on offense here; Vandy gained 145 yards.  It is not news when a Mike Leach team gains 461 yards passing; it is news when a Mike Leach team holds an opponent to 6 yards rushing for an entire game.

Ole Miss 31  LSU 17:  The Total Line for this game was 76.  Two weeks ago, the Total Line for an Ole Miss game was 83.  Neither game came close to threatening the Total Line even though Ole Miss won both games.  Maybe it is time to recognize that Ole Miss can win games without scoring 50 points?

In games involving teams from the PAC-12…

Washington 21  Arizona 16:  Arizona remains winless for 2021.

BYU 21  Washington St. 19:  I wondered last week how the Washington St. team might react to the firing of its head coach and 4 assistant coaches.  BYU is a quality opponent and Washington St. played  them tit for tat.  A missed PAT in the third quarter by Washington St. and a failed 2-point conversion to make up for that miss provided the margin of victory here.  BYU RB, Tyler Allgeier gained 191 yards on 32 carries and scored 2 TDs in the game.

Oregon 34  UCLA 31:  UCLA rallied from a 34-17 deficit in the 4th quarter to make this a one-possession game.  However, the final UCLA drive ended in INT with about 45 seconds left on the clock.  The PAC-12 conference race is very fluid at the moment.  There are no teams that are undefeated in conference games.  In the North division, Oregon and Oregon St. each have one conference loss.  In the South division, Arizona St. and Utah each have one conference loss.

Oregon St.  42  Utah 34:   Neither team is noted for its offense but both teams found ways to gain over 450 yards in this game.  A blocked punt returned for a TD by Oregon St. provided the margin of victory.

Notre Dame 31  USC 16:  The Irish led 24-3 after three quarters; the stat sheet says it should have been much closer than it was because USC outgained Notre Dame on offense by 45 yards.  The Irish benefited from 9 penalties (5 of those penalties produced first downs for Notre Dame) and they converted 8 of 12 third-down tries in the game.

In miscellaneous games…

UTSA 45  La-Tech 16:  UTSA remains unbeaten for 2021.  On the stat sheet this game should have been a nail-biter; each team gained 401 yards of offense; three turnovers by La-Tech provided the difference in the game.

San Diego St. 20  Air Force 14:  San Diego St. remains unbeaten.  This was a defensive game from start to finish; the Aztecs gained only 229 yards and won the game.  Air Force led the nation in rushing coming into the game and was limited to 192 yards on 49 attempts.  This was the second conference loss for Air Force; they trail Utah St. in the standings and one of the losses for the year was to Utah St.

SMU 55  Tulane 26:  The Mustangs maintain a patina of relevancy.

San Jose St. 27  UNLV 20:  UNLV remains winless for 2021.

Hawaii 48  New Mexico St. 34:  The Aggies are 1-7 for the season and the reason is their defense.  Only once have they held a team below 30 points this year – – and they gave up 28 in that game.  Even in their win over Division 1-AA South Carolina State, they gave up 35 points.


College Football Games of Interest:


Iowa at Wisconsin – 3 (36.5):  Neither team is great on offense; Iowa ranks 74th in the country in scoring offense and Wisconsin ranks 110th.  Both teams play well on defense; Iowa ranks 4th in the country in scoring defense and Wisconsin ranks 17th.  I agree this will be a defensive contest, but I am still stunned at how low that Total Line is for the game.  The betting action and the polls are in conflict for this game.  Wisconsin is the favorite but is unranked; Iowa is ranked in the Top 10.  Interesting…

Duke at Wake Forest – 16 (70):  Duke gives up 31.6 points per game; Wake Forest scores 43.1 points per game.  This should not be close…

Michigan – 4 at Michigan St. (51.5):  Both teams are undefeated as of today; that will change tomorrow.  Both teams rank in the Top 20 in scoring defense.  I will anoint this as the College Football Game of the Week.  I see this as a defensive game, so I’ll take it to say UNDER the Total Line; put it in the Six-Pack

BC at Syracuse – 7 (51):  The spread opened at only 4 points and has climbed steadily throughout the week.

Iowa St. – 7 at W. Virginia (47):  An important Big-12 conference game for the Cyclones…

Miami at Pitt – 9 (62):  This is a big game for Pitt and the spread opened at 12 points and has been dropping steadily.  Historically, Pitt teams lose about a game a year to an opponent they ought to beat.  Is this one of those games?

Rutgers – 1.5 at Illinois (42):  Two lesser lights in the Big-10 should put on an entertaining game…

Va. Tech at Ga. Tech – 4 (55):  This could be a big game for Va. Tech coach Justin Fuente (see above)

Florida St at Clemson – 9 (48):  Clemson only scores 20 points per game so that line looks fat at first.  Then you look at the Clemson defense and see that it only allows 14.6 points per game, and you wonder if the Seminoles can actually hit the end zone twice.  This is a big test for Florida St. who arrive on a 3-game winning streak; this is also a big test for the offensively challenged Clemson offense.  I think that line is indeed fat; I’ll take the Seminoles plus the points because I don’t like Clemson to score that much; put it in the Six-Pack.

UMass at Liberty – 36 (57.5):  The last time Liberty had a line like this, they were 33-point favorites over La-Monroe – – and then Liberty lost that game outright.  I can only find one Internet sportsbooks with a Money Line for this game – – in case you think lightening will strike twice:

  • UMass is at +8,500
  • Liberty is at minus-23,500
  • Good luck…

North Texas at Rice – 3 (56):  Rice has won 3 of its last 4 games – – in case you had not noticed…

UCLA at Utah – 6.5 (60.5):  This is an important PAC-12 game for both teams.  Utah shares the lead in its division with Arizona St and each has one in-conference loss; UCLA has two in-conference losses so another one would probably end their hopes for a chance to play in the conference championship game.

Washington St. at Arizona St. – 16 (53):  The same situation as in the UCLA/Utah game applies here.  Arizona St. is tied for the lead with Utah in the South Division and Washington St has two losses already and could become irrelevant in the North Division if they lose here.

Oregon St. – 1 at Cal (55):  The Beavers are tied with Oregon for the PAC-12 North lead and Cal is at the bottom of that division with 3 in-conference losses already.  I am surprised to see the spread as small as it is.

Colorado at Oregon – 24 (49):  This should not be a nail-biter…

Purdue at Nebraska – 7.5 (53.5):  The Total Line opened the week at 49 points and has risen steadily as the days went by.

Kentucky – 1 at Mississippi St. (47):  The oddsmakers obviously believe Kentucky’s defense can control the Bulldogs’ Air Raid offense.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma – 20 (66):  An interesting way to start for the interim head coach at Tech…

Penn St. at Ohio St. – 19 (62):  In some seasons, this would clearly be the Game of the Week; but in 2021, it is not even the Big-10 Game of the Week when compared to Michigan/Michigan St.

SMU at Houston -1 (62):  The Mustangs have not lost yet…

Texas at Baylor – 3 (61):  Baylor has only one conference loss so far; they need to win here to stay within hailing distance of Oklahoma.

Ole Miss at Auburn – 3 (66):  Each team has only 1 loss in conference, so this is an important game for both sides.  The Ole Miss path to the SEC Championship game is to win out and root for Auburn to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl later.  Auburn needs to win out to get to that game.  I think Ole Miss is the better team here and ought to win the game outright; I’ll take the Rebels plus the points on the road; put it in the Six Pack.

Georgia – 14 vs. Florida (51):  Many is the year when this game would be the Game of the Week…

Cincy – 26 at Tulane (62):  The Bearcats need to win impressively this week; they were disappointing last week (see above).

UNC at Notre Dame – 4 (62):  Back in August, this was a game I had highlighted on the schedule.  Then they started playing the games for real…

Fresno St. at San Diego St. “pick ‘em” (45):  San Diego St. is undefeated this year; Fresno St is in the same Mountain West Division with the Aztecs and Fresno St. has only one loss in conference.  The Mountain West may not be the football equivalent of some other conferences, but this is a big game for Mountain West fans.


NFL Commentary:


The NFL trade deadline is next Tuesday afternoon, and it cannot get here fast enough.  Once it has come and gone, we can be freed from any more reports such as these:

  • Will Deshaun Watson be traded?
  • Where will Deshaun Watson be traded?
  • Will the NFL allow him to play if and when he is traded?

In addition, we can stop reading things like:

  • Five trades that contending teams need to make now
  • Will the Jackasses be sellers or buyers this year?
  • Six players who can benefit from a change of scenery

Enough already…

Two weeks ago, there were a bunch of blowout games; last week there were enough blowout games that makes me begin to wonder if the NFL is tilting away from parity more significantly than usual.  There are always dominant teams and bottom-feeders in every season but in the NFL there always tended to be a solid middle-class of teams that were good enough to keep many of the games close.  In fact, it is that strong middle class of teams that allows the NFL to carry on with its mantra of

  • On any given Sunday …   [Read with the intonation of John Facenda!]

It is difficult to put a lot of faith in the “Any given Sunday” proposition when 30% of the games are decided by three scores or more.  I hope the results of the last two weeks do not portend the separation in the NFL between a bunch of really good teams and a bunch of really bad teams.  That would not be a positive evolutionary step for the league.  The presence of 4 games with double-digit spreads on the card for this week is not a good sign.

Here are the six blowout games from last week; there were only 13 games on the card…

Bengals 41  Ravens 17:  This puts the Bengals in first place in the AFC North and it happened in Baltimore.   The game was close at halftime with the Bengals leading 13-10, but the second half was a totally different story.  Yes, Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are excellent (Chase had 201 yards receiving in this game) but do not give short shrift to the Bengals’ defense.  They are also playing excellent football; they only give up 18.3 points per game.

Giants 25  Panthers 3:  Sam Darnold has really come back to Earth after a big start to 2021 in a new environment.  Last week, he was miserable throwing for only 111 yards on 25 pass attempts and tossing in an INT just for good measure.  But wait, there’s more…  He was also called for intentional grounding in the end zone – – so he yielded a safety too.  The Panthers were not able to run the ball either (56 yards on 17 carries) so it was not a pretty afternoon for Panthers fans or backers.  The Giants played opportunistic football scoring 25 points but only gaining 309 yards on the day.  The Giants’ defense dominated this game registering 5 sacks and holding the Panthers to less than 200 yards offense.

Pats 54  Jets 13:  The Pats racked up 551 yards on offense and here are the results of the Pats’ 11 possessions in the game:

  1. TD
  2. TD
  3. Field Goal
  4. TD
  5. TD
  6. Field Goal
  7. Punt
  8. TD
  9. TD
  10. TD
  11. Kneel out the clock

Jets’ QB, Zach Wilson injured his knee in the first half and did not return to this game to take a pounding.  That may have been a blessing in disguise for him and for the team in the future.

Titans 27  Chiefs 3:  I’ll say it now;

  • If the Chiefs do not improve significantly starting immediately, they are not going to make the playoffs.

I know that Patrick Mahomes had to be removed from the game, but that is not why the Titans prevailed.  The Titans had the ball for more than 36 minutes last week and converted on 8 of 12 third down tries.  The Titans’ defense limited the Chiefs passing game to only 4.7 yards per pass such that the Titans had more passing yards for the game than did the Chiefs.  Looking at the replay of the game, the Titans just pushed people around for most of the day.

Cardinals 31  Texans 5:  Do not pin this loss on the Texans’ defense.  They recorded a safety, created an INT and sacked Kyler Murray 4 times.  This loss belongs on the offense’s ledger.  Here are some sorry-assed numbers for the game:

  • Texans had 160 yards total offense
  • Texans recorded 8 first downs
  • Texans were 2 for 13 on third down conversions
  • Texans were 0 for 2 on fourth down conversions
  • Texans never got into the Red Zone.

Bucs 38   Bears 3:  It was 35-3 at halftime and the Bucs called off the dogs.  The Bears turned the ball over 5 times and went 2 for 11 on third down tries.   This was the late afternoon game in my viewing area; I basically gave up on it at halftime and paid attention to other things in my life.

It is hard to believe that any of those games were fun to watch – – even for fans of the winning sides.  And for the NFL where parity has become commonplace, it is hard to believe that I have put games with 14-point victories in the category of “non-blowouts.”  Here are the rest of the games from last weekend…

Packers 24  Football Team 10:  The Football team won the stat sheet – – because the stat sheet does not itemize the plays that created the outcome.  The Football Team had 430 yards on offense to only 304 yards for the Packers and the Football Team never punted the ball over the entire game.  Normally, those stat sheet entries point to the winning team but not last week.  Here is what the Packers did to win the game:

  • Washington got to the Red Zone 4 times and scored 0 TDs.
  • Washington turned the ball over twice.
  • Washington failed on fourth-down tries 4 times out of 5 attempts.

The “good news” for the Football Team is that this was not another game that the defense lost.  This time it was the offense that botched things.

Colts 30  Niners 18:  The Niners specialized in committing defensive pass interference penalties – – and I do not mean to imply that any of the calls were borderline.  At one point, the Colts had gained more yards on 3 long defensive pass interference calls than they had gained on offense by themselves.  For the night, the Niners committed 7 penalties for a total of 122 yards.  Add 4 turnovers to the Niners side of the ledger and you can see how this game ended the way it did.

Falcons 30  Dolphins 28:  Finally, we come to a game decided in the last minute.  It is not too often that a game summary for the Falcons includes plaudits for their defense – – but two INTs  by the defense came at convenient times to keep this game close until the final drive when Matt Ryan – – with the help of a great catch by Kyle Pitts – – set the Falcons up for a winning field goal with no time left on the clock.  Tip your hat to the Falcons’ special teams too; they blocked a kick in the game and that turned into a TD by the offense.

Raiders 33  Eagles 22:  The Eagles led the game 7-0 after the first possession of the game; by the next time they scored, the score was 30-7 in favor of the Raiders and there was only 11:41 left in the fourth quarter.  This was an ineffective and unorganized showing by the Eagles.  Jalen Hurts was only 18 of 34 for the day and the Eagles managed to lose two fumbles in the game.  Derek Carr had a monster game here with this stat line:

  • 31 of 34 for 323 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

Rams 29  Lions 19:  The Lions took a 10-0 lead in the game and seemed as if they might pull a massive upset.  They outgained the Rams on offense and the Lions’ defense held the Rams’ running game to 47 yards on 19 carries.  However, the Lions did turn the ball over twice and the Lions did allow the Rams to convert 9 of 13 third down plays.  It was not a “statement win” for the Rams but it might be a statement loss for the Lions who did gain 415 yards on offense for the day – – and still lost.

Saints 13  Seahawks 10:    Both starting QBs did their best to try to give this game away; Geno Smith got the job done.  The two teams combined to go 5 for 25 on third down conversions; total offense for both teams was only 523 yards – – about what the Bengals totaled by themselves in their win over the Ravens.  DJ Metcalf caught an 84-yard TD pass in the first quarter to put the Seahawks on top 7-0; for the rest of the game, he caught 1 pass for 12 yards.  Was that dumb play calling or dumb execution?


NFL Games:


There are only two teams on their BYE Week:

  • The Raiders can enjoy their two-game winning streak under interim coach Rich Bisaccia.
  • The Ravens can lick their wounds after the beating they took last week at the hands of the Bengals.

Naturally, I watched last night’s Packers/Cardinals game; it was a great game; both teams played well on defense and the game was decided by an INT with about 15 seconds left in the game.  The Packers played without two of their top receivers; no problem; the Packers ran the ball for 151 yards on 34 carries.  For the Cards, JJ Watt did not play, and DeAndre Hopkins was probably only on the field for a half-dozen plays due to injury.

The stat sheet for the game was dead even; the Packers gained 335 yards as compared to the Cards’ output of 334 yards.  The biggest difference was in time of possession; the Packers had the ball for 37:35 due mainly to their success in running the ball.  Three turnovers by the Cards – including the INT that sealed the game for the Packers – did not help the Cards’ cause even a little bit.

The Packers now hold the tiebreaker over the Cards should that come into play for seeding in the NFC playoffs.  However, the Packers’ schedule from here on out is not particularly soft.  They are on the road in KC next week and still have games against the Rams, Ravens and Browns plus two against the Vikes.  But for now, the Packers sit atop the NFC.

Dolphins at Bills – 14 (49):  The Bills are clearly the better team here and they are coming off their BYE Week; the Dolphins have lost 6 in a row after winning in Week 1.  In the first meeting of these two teams this season, the Bills dominated to the tune of 35-0.  It will be closer than that this time – – but still not close.

Panthers at Falcons – 3 (47):  The Panthers started the season with three wins and have lost their last 4 in a row.  The Falcons are on a 2-game win streak.  Matt Ryan is clearly the better QB in the game; the Panthers’ defense is the better defense in the game (third in the league in Total Defense).  The loser of this game will see its relevance diminished regarding playoff potential.

Eagles – 3.5 at Lions (48):  This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Lions are winless for a reason; they are not a good football team.  The Eagles have won twice but that masquerades the fact that the Eagles too are not a good football team.  Both teams could wind up drafting in the Top 5 in next year’s NFL Draft.  If the Lions lose here, their schedule takes a turn for the worse:

  • At Steelers
  • At Browns
  • Vs. Bears (Thanksgiving Day Game)
  • Vs. Vikes
  • At Broncos
  • Vs. Cardinals
  • At Falcons
  • At Seahawks
  • Vs. Packers

Perhaps, the Lions will be favored on Thanksgiving Day at home; but other than that, they should be the underdog in every other contest all the way through to January 9th.

Looking at the rest of the Eagles schedule they have a game against the Jets that should be winnable, and they have two games against the Giants and another two games against the Football Team that might produce a win or two – – or not.

Titans at Colts – 2.5 (51):  At the beginning of the week, the Titans were favored by 1 point in the game and the Total Line was down at 47 points.  That is a lot of line movement for a single game. The Titans lead the AFC South at 5-2; the Colts are second at 3-4.  This is a big deal game for the Colts because a win would put them only a game out of first place and it would keep them in wildcard contention in the event they never do catch the Titans.  It is a big deal for the Titans as well since a win would give them a 3-game lead in the division with half the season in the books and it would give them 2 wins over the Colts in 2021.  For these reasons, this is my Game of the WeekThe Colts have played well the past couple of weeks, but the Titans are really on a roll; I like the Titans to win outright so I will take them plus the points on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Rams – 14.5 at Texans (48):  The Rams got a soft spot from the schedule maker playing the Lions last week and the Texans this week.  The Texans have the worst point differential in the NFL at minus-106 points.

Bengals – 10.5 at Jets (42):  This line tells me that bettors are worried about a let-down game from the Bengals this week after clobbering the Ravens last week.  Clearly, the Jets are not in the same category as the Ravens.  It will be interesting to see how the Bengals play in this circumstance; most of these players have never been in a similar setting.  With Zach Wilson injured, the Jets will have Mike White at QB with recently acquired Joe Flacco as the backup.  This could get ugly quickly.

Steelers at Browns – 4 (42.5):  Case Keenum should start in place of Baker Mayfield here; normally, that would be a disqualifying mark against the Browns.  However, the Browns’ defense is good against the run (second in the NFL) and if they can shut down Najee Harris, they will take away a major component of the Steelers’ offense.  This will not be an artistic event by any means, but it is one of the better games to watch in the early afternoon time slot.

Niners – 4 at Bears (39.5):  This game got serious consideration as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  Neither team is getting quality play at the QB position; that was to be expected for the Bears as they sought to develop Justin Fields into an NFL QB.  That was not supposed to be the case for the Niners who had to expect more productive play from Jimmy Garoppolo than they have gotten.  The Bears are 3-4 and two of those three wins came at the expense of the Bengals and the Raiders – – two division leading teams.

Jags at Seahawks – 3 (44):  The Jags had a BYE Week last week to bathe in the glory of a win over the Dolphins two weeks ago.  Now they must go to Seattle which is not quite as long a journey as the one to London.  The Seahawks have been uncharacteristically bad at home this year losing all three games played there.  In “normal times”, the Seahawks can rely on the fact that they are sure to get competent play from the QB position; with Russell Wilson on the sidelines, that is no longer a guarantee.  This was my runner-up for the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.

Pats at Chargers – 4 (49.5):  The Chargers opened the week as 6-point favorites, and that number has dwindled slowly downward all week long.  The Chargers had a BYE Week last week to prepare for this game; the Pats had a monster game against the Jets (see above); they will not match that kind of offensive output against a decent Chargers’ defense.

Football Team at Broncos – 3 (44): Washington’s defense played its best game of the year last week; it did not produce a win, but there was clear improvement.  The Denver defense is injured, and the Broncos are a team that relies on its defense to keep games close.  I think the wrong team is favored here; I like the Football Team on the road plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Bucs – 4.5 at Saints (50):  This is a big game for both teams in the NFC South race.  For me, Saints’ games are “unpickable” because there is no way to know which version of Jameis Winston will show up and play.  He might throw 5 TDs in a game – – or he might throw 5 INTs.  It makes a difference.  A win for the Bucs here would put them two up in the loss column versus the Saints.

(Sun Nite) Cowboys – 1.5 at Vikes (55):  This spread for this game is all over the place; I found it as a “pick ‘em” game at one sportsbook and at 2.5 points at another sportsbook.  The line cited here is the most common one.  Both teams had a BYE Week last week; this was my runner-up for Game of the Week

(Mon Nite) Giants at Chiefs – 9.5 (52):  One Internet sportsbook opened this game with a spread of 13 points; everyone else had the game at 10 or 10.5 points; it did not take long for the lines to level out across the sportsbooks.  This is a big game for the Chiefs who have not looked like a playoff team for the last several weeks.  Given the urgency for the Chiefs plus the fact that the Giants are not very good, I like the Chiefs to win big here; I’ll take the Chiefs and lay a whole lot of points; put it in the Six-Pack.

So, let me review the Six-Pack and give you a bonus selection for the week:

  • Michigan/Michigan St. UNDER 51.5
  • Ole Miss +3 against Auburn
  • Florida St. + 9 against Clemson
  • Titans +2.5 against Colts
  • Football Team + 3 against Broncos
  • Chiefs – 9.5 over Giants.


BONUS SELECTION:  A three team Money Line parlay where all three teams are small underdogs:

  • Titans at +120
  • Football Team at +150
  • Ole Miss at +130
  • Parlay odds pay out at +234  (if I did the math correctly)

[EDIT:  I did the math wrong.  The parlay odds pay out would be +1165.  I was very sloppy.  sorry.  Thanks to the reader in Houston for the correction.]

Finally, let me close with this item by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Browns sack-master Myles Garrett has decorated his front yard for Halloween with tombstones featuring the name and jersey number of opposing quarterbacks.

“What’s he handing out this year, Nestle Crunch?”

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



Such A Headache…

I really do not mean to harp on the subject of the leaked emails related to the investigation of the Washington Football Team’s sexual harassment situation in its Front Office, but the story will not go away.  Yesterday, Roger Goodell said that the NFL was not the source of the leak; this morning there is a report in the Washington Post that says Tanya Snyder – – the co-CEO of the team and nominally the one running the show over the past several months – – told the other owners at their meeting that the Washington Football Team is not the source of the leaked emails.

Naturally, proclamations of that sort draw attention and encourage others to try to “unravel the mystery” as to “who dunnit.”  Let me try to frame the mystery here.

  • We can be confident in saying that there are three definite residences for that trove of emails.  The WFT has them, the NFL has them and the investigator(s) led by Beth Wilkinson has them.  However, it is not possible to say that within those three entities there is only one copy or that portions of the complete inventory are not held by multiple individuals.
  • Moreover, “heavily redacted” copies of some of the leaked emails were entered into evidence in a Federal Court by lawyers representing Danny Boy Snyder several months ago.  That fact alone says that there are other potential sources for leakage.

Therefore, Roger Goodell can only say with certainty that no one in the NFL to his knowledge is the source of the leaked emails and Tanya Snyder can only say the same thing about the WFT as the source of the leaks.  Unfortunately, that is about as far as I can go with deductive reasoning in this matter because once I get to the point where the possibility of multiple copies exists, there is no way to deduce how many there are or where they are.  So, off I go into the realm of speculation…

Just to be clear, I am not someone who is prone to conspiracy theories.

  • I do not believe in the world domination of the Trilateral Commission nor in the puppet string manipulations by the Elders of Zion.
  • There are no microchips in COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • There are no biological agents in “chemtrails”.
  • The Bermuda Triangle is bunk.
  • Fluoridation of water supplies is not a Communist plot to undermine the health of Americans.
  • Climate change is real.

The leaked emails in this matter injured one party directly and two parties tangentially.  Jon Gruden lost his job as the head coach of the Raiders and reports said that his contract called for him to make another $65M over the next six and a half years.  So, it would be reasonable to start by asking who might want to injure Jon Gruden in this way.  After ruminating on that for a moment, I come up with nothing and that leads me to the next step in my speculation here that Jon Gruden is “collateral damage” in this matter and not the target of the leaked emails.

The other two individuals who are tangentially damaged are Bruce Allen and Jeff Pash.  [Pash is the NFL general counsel and an executive VP of the league; he and Allen shared more than a few emails.]  So, who might have issues with either of those parties?  I mentioned above that some “heavily redacted” emails were submitted to a Federal Court by lawyers representing Daniel Snyder.  That submission was an attempt by Snyder’s lawyers to get the court to order discovery procedures involving Bruce Allen as part of a larger action Snyder filed against a New Delhi media outlet for defamation of character because the outlet asserted some sort of connection between Snyder and Jeffrey Epstein and sex-trafficking.

As the senior legal officer inside the NFL, it is reasonable to assume that he had knowledge of Ms. Wilkinson’s investigation and probably has been directly involved in any decision processes involving the assertion of confidentiality granted to those who came forward in that investigation.  I can imagine multiple scenarios where a variety of folks might have an issue with some position that Pash has taken in the past.  It is the multiplicity of those scenarios that makes me stop and recognize that all of this is speculation and cannot lead to any sort of conclusion I might reach with any confidence.

The fact that Allen as a team president was in email contact with Pash seems like a logical connection to make.  The fact that Gruden was with ESPN at the time of the email exchanges with Allen is not nearly as “natural” a happenstance.  But it is not necessarily nefarious either.  Here is something that makes me wonder:

  • Were there other WFT officials who were corresponding via email with parties outside the team?  I have to think that is the case.
  • So, why have only messages involving Allen been leaked?  Everyone else was as pure and the driven snow?
  • This whole thing makes my teeth itch.

So, my plan now is to try to let this issue recede into memory – – assuming there is not another data dump later this week.  I will certainly look forward to the outcome(s) of the Congressional intervention into this matter; if they hold hearings on this and put those hearings on TV, I will await the SNL re-enactment of those hearings.  I will try to ignore the carefully worded statements issued by the NFL or the lawyers representing the women who were subjected to sexual harassment or the NFLPA or …

Finally, to end on a much lighter note than what is above, here is a Tweet recently from Brad Dickson formerly with the Omaha World -Herald:

“Nestle is recalling 28,000 lbs of DiGiorno Crispy Pan Crust Pepperoni Pizzas. What happened – did something healthy fall into the mix?”

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



The World Series Has Begun

Well, the World Series started off with a bang last night; the first batter in the first inning knocked the ball out of the park.  A baseball historian found that this was the first time in the history of the World Series that had happened.  For the visiting Atlanta Braves, the hits just kept on coming and the Braves won the first game by a score of 6-2.

I think the most amazing happening of the game was the performance of Braves’ pitcher Charlie Morton.  In the second inning, a line drive hit him on the leg.  He struck out the next batter and then got another out to end the inning.  He came out for the third inning and struck out the first batter; then he walked off the mound and the field with a trainer because – – the line drive that hit him in the previous inning had broken his leg and he could no longer put weight on it.  However, he did get three batters out after his leg broke.

The win flips “home field advantage” from the Astros to the Braves and the Braves will start Max Fried in Game 2.  The Braves won 10 of Fried’s last 11 starts in the regular season; this could be a pivotal game in the Series.

The only negative thing about last night’s game – – other than Morton’s broken leg of course – – is that the game took just over 4 hours to play.  Fortunately, the ball was in play enough to maintain interest and consciousness throughout.

With regard to another MLB issue, there seems only to be negative news.  The existing CBA between MLB and the MLBPA will expire in early December and every report that I read says that a lockout/strike/work stoppage/ call-it-what-you-want is “inevitable”.  If those prognostications are correct, here is what that means:

  • For most of the “Hot Stove League” there will be no news of free agent signings or trades.
  • For most of the “Hot Stove League” baseball news will be PR crafted statements by the negotiating teams along with reports of the “sticking points” in the talks.
  • There will be speculative pieces on the likelihood of both sides reaching an agreement by the time pitchers and catchers normally report to Spring Training.

The Bottom Line is that all this will damage baseball.  This is not the kind of news that baseball fans want to hear and read about in the winter.  What they do want to hear and read about are trades and free agent signings that lead to anticipation of Spring Training and next year’s regular season.  I do not dislike either Rob Manfred or Tony Clark when I say that I would be more than happy to hear from them exactly one time between now and mid-February when Spring Training camps open as usual.  That single appearance from them would be to announce a new CBA that both sides are pleased-as-punch about.  I do not think there is much of a chance that I will get my wish here…

Moving on…  Yesterday, I wrote about some Congressional grandstanding that seeks to obtain and reveal information gathered by the NFL investigation into sexual harassment within the Front Office of the Washington Football Team.  The team owners are meeting and there was another grandstanding event yesterday.  One of the accusers/victims of the sexual harassment happenings hand-delivered a letter to Roger Goodell asking that he make the evidence gathered open and available.  She had to know that was not going to happen yesterday, but it did present a photo-op and it did get the story back in the papers again this morning.  Here is what The Commish had to say about what was discussed in yesterday’s meeting:

“We feel that this is the appropriate way to do it [inform other owners of the investigation and the aftermath].  We summarized the findings of [the investigation] and made it very clear that the workplace environment of the Washington Football Team was not what we expected in the NFL and then held them accountable.  But more importantly, steps were put in place to make sure that it does not happen again.”

Since I do not know what the findings of the investigation process were, I have no way to begin to know if the people involved with the Washington Front Office at the time of the harassment behaviors were held sufficiently accountable.  Goodell seems to think that levying a “record fine” of $10M on the team is part of having held the team accountable.  But let me put that in perspective here since Forbes estimates the value of the franchise in 2021 at $4.2B:

  • Imagine that you had a bank account with $100,000 in it.  That is an asset.
  • Now, imagine that you did something wrong, and someone levied a fine against you such that you had to tap into that bank account.
  • If you were fined an amount such that your bank account suffered the same depletion as the $10M fine did for the Washington Football team,  you would owe someone the grand sum of $238.10.
  • Your remaining balance would be only $99,761.90.

Putting aside the math exercise above, I have a much more fundamental problem with Goodell’s statement.  He said – I am not inferring anything here – that the league put steps in place to make sure this does not happen again.  Really?  What are they?  You should be proud to let everyone know how you prevented that kind of situation from happening somewhere else in the future.

Obviously, one good reason not to offer any specifics or any transparency here is that there are no such steps that might make sure this does not happen again.

Finally, since the events pertaining to the NFL happened at a meeting of the owners, let me close with this definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Meeting:  A business term meaning, ‘officially sanctioned waste of time.’”

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