The NFL Draft is Complete and Utter Bullshit

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If I really wanted to go further into this subject, I would tell you two things.

One, ESPN laid off a bunch of people today because no one likes their product. People are cutting the cord, they're abandoning televised sports, and they're not interested in whatever ESPN is selling. If you have a product, and demand for that product drops, it probably means that people just don't like your shit.

Two, ESPN is desperately trying to make fetch a thing. No, sorry, that's wrong. ESPN is desperately trying to make the NFL Draft a thing. It is not a thing. The NFL draft is an attempt, by the National Football League, to find a handful of college players who can survive playing professional football. Every year, teams fail to find good football players. Instead, they make minor celebrities out of players who go to pieces mentally, fall apart physically, or fail to take advantage of an opportunity to play professional football. This all unfolds at these things called training camps, which aren't a thing, either. This is the behind the scenes developmental stuff that most people don't care about. 

Do you know who cares about this stuff? Zealous superfans, degenerate gamblers, and the family members who think they're going to get paid. That's more sad than happy, I'm afraid.

Here's a question for the NFL. Do you have a football game to play in September? Then go play it. Here's one for ESPN. Do you not get that people are losing interest? It's called voting with your remote crontrol. There are fewer and fewer people who are interested football, and televised sports as a whole. Are you going to front load your programming here in the off season with bullshit for months and months and make something out of nothing? I gotta tell you, I'm even less interested now.

ESPN, you suck. The NFL Draft is not a thing. Go back to what you're good at, which is putting on things people want to watch. Big hint for you--everything you're doing right now is NOT working.

Eli Manning Wants You to Have Fake NFL Memorabilia

Let's not pretend that this is a unique and horrifying story about one unethical athlete. I would be willing to bet you that Eli Manning is just the guy who got caught saying what he felt:

Eli Manning had a role in the New York Giants' scheme to sell fake game-used memorabilia, Kaja Whitehouse and Bruce Golding of the New York Post reported.

Per court documents, Manning sent an email to equipment manager Joe Skiba that read, "2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it. Eli."

This came shortly after a request from marketing agent Alan Zucker for two game-used helmets and jerseys.

Manning, Skiba and the Giants were among those named in a lawsuit from three memorabilia collectors.

Another email exchange featured Skiba admitting to the plaintiff that Manning created the fake memorabilia because he "didnt want to give up the real stuff."

So much for the sanctity of the sport and the love that an organization has for its fans. Anything for a buck, right?

Do you know how much sports memorabilia I own?

None.

Why?

Because it's probably all fake, and always has been fake, so why throw away money on something that could be real or could be as phony as Eli's crocodile tears will be when he has to address this issue. I don't hound people for autographs and I don't care about selfies or anything like that. Do you know what's real?

Technically, everything.

But why throw away money on something? For the fun of it? Well, I guess it depends on how you define fun.

Oh, and why are most of Archie Manning's kids assholes? 

Darryl Sutter is Out of a Job

This really surprised me today:

The Los Angeles Kings have fired coach Darryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi, who led the franchise to its only two Stanley Cup championships.

The Kings on Monday also promoted former defenseman Rob Blake to vice president and general manager, while longtime executive Luc Robitaille will be their new team president in charge of all hockey and business operations.

Everyone knows why the Kings had a rough year. They lost Jonathan Quick at the beginning of the season and didn't find a suitable replacement. They had a roster that couldn't get it done, but it's not like they don't have the talent around which you can build a great team. How does firing Sutter fix the roster problems the Kings face in the years ahead?

How do you do that to the guy who brought two Stanley Cups to a franchise that had none? Hockey is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kinda sport, and that's how they're doing things in Los Angeles. If they can get a good coach and get back into contention, well, I guess that would prove me wrong. I was of a mind to see them make roster changes and come back next year and do fairly well, but how likely is that now?

No Guns at Arkansas Football Games

Somewhere, someone is sad but I'm now following Wally Hall because, well, why the hell not?

Arkansas fans, leave your guns at home. You're not allowed to take them to football games (seems like someone always forgets, right?)

This is Stupid, and, Of Course, It Involves Guns

I refuse to believe that people in Arkansas are this stupid:

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The view of the general assembly is, "beer plus college football plus shenanigans is enhanced by the presence of guns as long as you have enhanced training."

What the hell is that, by the way? Well, to me, it's something that the police chief's kid gets in order to wave around in front of people. It's what people with a lot of money and influence get when they want something from the local sheriff. It's kind of a no-brainer. If you are smart enough to pass "enhanced level of gun training" class, shouldn't you also be smart enough to know that a football stadium is exactly where you don't take your gun?

What happened to common sense? Do you know where you need to carry your gun? Not at a college football game, that's where.

Did That Team That Nobody Likes Win?

I am not a March Madness kind of fellow. But if that team that plays for that school you went to won, great. If they lost, well, bummer, man.

There is a huge disconnect between the reality of college sports and the overall college experience. I read a side item earlier about Lamar Odom and how he went to a college on the east coast. He was not a good student, but he was great at basketball. He maybe lasted a year with that team, left no mark on that school, but they go crazy for him and love him anyway. What is there to admire? That's where he stopped on the way to going to the NBA. He didn't graduate, he didn't stick around and help the team win a lot of games. One and done, baby.

Bob Knight is Crazy

Thousands and thousands of words have been written about Bob Knight. What nobody seems to understand is that he's crazy:

With Knight, the ironies and contradictions always wreathed around each other. The same man who demanded discipline from his players, showing so little impulse control himself. The figure who demanded unwavering loyalty from those around him, quick to excommunicate friends from his inner circle and turn on allies (read: Mike Krzyzewski, among many others). The coach who sometimes spoke in the most profane terms imaginable, prudishly forbidding the Assembly Hall crowd from chanting BULL-SHIT. The teacher who stressed attention to detail, going about his own business with active disdain for nuance.

Really, if you reduce every anecdote, every public statement, everything Knight has ever done down to one thing, it all makes sense. He's a out-of-control lunatic. How is he even allowed to own a gun or drive a car? I've never understood this.

There is No Russian Word for Sportsmanship

Maybe there is a word, but I doubt anyone in Russia understands what it means. I hate to generalize, what with all of the cheating, the doping, and the widespread corruption, but there's something wrong with Russia when it comes to presidential candidates from New York and with sports in general:

Perhaps you've heard of Russia, this small little country that's been in the news lately. The country, which hosts the World Cup in 2018, has had a small problem with its soccer fans getting into brawls before games. One lawmaker, however, has a solution: Legalizing the fighting and turn it into a sport. Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian parliament, introduced the new "sport" in which 20 unarmed fighters on each side go at it inside an arena. “Russia would be a pioneer in a new sport,” Lebedev said. “English fans arrive, for example, and start picking fights. And they get the answer — challenge accepted. A meeting in a stadium at a set time.”

I wouldn't go around wishing for a brawl with British soccer fans. First of all, some Scotsmen might show up pissed and beat everyone up. Second, you go up against some bleary-eyed howling Arsenal fans on the wrong patch of ground and you'll waddle home on two bloody stumps. And, third, what the hell?

Legalizing unruly fan fighting? Really? Come and join the rest of humanity when you come to your senses.

Charles Oakley Should Sue the Knicks

Apologies to anyone who doesn't care about New York sports, but this should be a bigger story:

The forced removal of retired New York Knicks star Charles Oakley from Wednesday’s Knicks-Los Angeles Clippers game at Madison Square Garden has sparked a legal controversy that keeps growing.
As previously detailed on The Crossover, Oakley was charged with three counts of assault and one count of trespass after he and several Madison Square Garden employees scuffled a few rows behind the court. In an incident that was recorded by multiple cameras, Oakley threw punches and shoved, though the resulting injuries were reportedly very minor and none of the injuries required any medical attention. Oakley’s outburst appears to have been directed mainly at Knicks owner James Dolan, who was sitting nearby and whom Oakley contends has treated him with disrespect and disdain
Dolan opens the door to be sued by Oakley for defamation
Dolan escalated the Oakley conflict in remarks made while on Friday’s The Michael Kay Show. During the interview, Dolan declared that Oakley suffers from a “problem with anger” and that Oakley is “both physically and verbally abusive,” which Dolan—who does not appear to have any formal training in medicine—classified as “personality problems.”

If the NBA didn't already have the precedent that was set with Donald Sterling and the Clippers, everything regarding James Dolan would scream of divestiture or the stripping of the franchise from his ownership.

This article really gets at the legal ramifications of Oakley suing the Knicks. What should happen is this--Oakley should sue them for the embarrassment of physically removing him in the manner in which they did and the NBA should separate the Knicks franchise from James Dolan. Those two things don't have to happen together, but if they did, that would be justice.

Does race come into play here? Absolutely. I think Oakley was treated the way he was because he is black. Plenty of very, very privileged and wealthy white people say horrible things at NBA games courtside and nothing happens to them.  Oakley was manhandled, defamed, and assaulted. Yes, he did strike at Madison Square Garden personnel. Was that reasonable, given what they were doing to him? I don't know how you could say he wasn't defending himself. 

Does the fact that Dolan has run the Knicks straight into the ground factor into this as well? Yes, and that's the NBA's problem because well-run franchises don't seem to have these problems. Much of the ire directed at Dolan stems from the fact that he's a terrible owner with a terrible executive in the personification of Phil Jackson. To say that the Knicks are mismanaged is an understatement. This should be a storied, honorable franchise. It's far from that.

Just as the Sterling story was whipped into a frenzy, so should this one be talked about and debated. You had a very ugly incident that overshadowed the game where it happened and no one has gone after the one man who could have handled things within the limits of decency. James Dolan is so far outside of those limits, there's really no recourse but a severe and permanent punishment.

Tom Brady and Donald Trump Are Really, Really Good Friends

It might not be a big deal right now, but it will be in the days and weeks ahead. 

The friendship of Tom Brady and Donald Trump is like proof hell is real if you're a New England fan who voted for Hillary. You have the golden boy quarterback--the best ever--and the most unpopular president in the modern era. 

How long do you think it will take for Brady to salvage his own image (endorsements are really important when you're a quarterback approaching the age of 40) and conveniently stop appearing with Trump? Or will Brady double down and proudly defend his friendship?

At some point, someone's going to be thrown under the bus. And what kind of new and exciting version of hell is it when Corey Lewandowski gives an interview to gush like a schoolgirl about a friendship between two men?

ESPN Gets Rid of More Talent

While I am happy to see shows like this die, it's really more about ESPN not wanting to pay people than it is about ratings or anything else.

The Sports Reporters, a Sunday morning talk show in which boomer columnists who stopped actually watching sports when Michael Jordan retired for the second time take turns benevolently donating their dignifying Pensive Faces to the vulgar ball-games, will be canceled, according to a report by Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch.
For fans of a certain age (aging ones), The Sports Reporters was sorta like This Week with David Brinkley but for sports, only, somehow, with the latter show’s performative grown-up-edness turned up to 93, and with Mitch Albom’s brown football-helmet coif standing in for George Will’s bowtie as the indicator that no one who couldn’t remember Woodstock should bother taking it seriously. Its central premise was that what makes sports interesting is that sometimes Serious News Journalists Like Mike Lupica grace it with their attention. It was great fun, actually, if you watched it with the right frame of mind. Jason Whitlock was on it literally dozens of times.
In his SI column on the show’s cancellation, Deitsch places it in the lineage of the sports-arguing shows that came later, like First Take, Pardon the Interruption, Around the Horn, All Takes Matter, and whatever all the other shows are in which sports idiots very loudly pretend to disagree each other. I don’t think that’s quiteright, although The Sports Reporters deserves credit for its role in opening a career pipeline from local newspapers to national prominence for sportswriters—a phenomenon that, among other things, has been filling the panels of the sports-arguing shows ever since. (And, yes, credit is the right word there; if nothing else the local-column-to-afternoon-arguing-show sluice provided a way for at least a few washed-up, cranky old farts to clear out and make room for new voices and perspectives, and that’s not nothing.) The juice of The Sports Reporters, though, never was disagreement or debate, but consensus and membership: it was a country club you could join by watching ESPN at a certain time of day on a certain day of the week, and thereby learn the gestures and expressions of sober grownup sports enjoyment.

I have always thought that there was an underlying racism in sports reporting. You can look in any major American newspaper, and there's usually a columnist on the sports pages who bemoans the fact that so-and-so from the local pro team "doesn't play like a team player" and "doesn't play the game the right way, which is the old way that old white guys played it." If there's a lot of institutional racism out there, a good part of it comes from the fact that young, exciting players in all major sports who aren't white are usually due for some form of criticism any time they do something interesting.

So Long, Raiders

Is this really going to make anyone happy?

The Raiders will file relocation papers to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

Funding has already been approved for the Raiders' new $1.9 billion NFL stadium. The money approved by Nevada law makers includes private and public money. The initial plans showed the Raiders would contribute $500 million and casino owner Sheldon Adelson would contribute $650 million. Hotel tax funding may contribute another $750 million.

The move would have to be approved by 24 of the NFL owners at their upcoming meeting in March.

There used to be an understanding that, because of legalized gambling, no professional sports team would move to Las Vegas, Nevada. I think that, give we're about to see an NHL expansion team start up there, those days are gone. It's hard to come up with $2 billion for a stadium, but if the Raiders were, indeed, looking to move, why not another major city in the United States? It seems like a temporary fix to me. Why not go to St. Louis, San Antonio, or Louisville? Why not find a city that wants an NFL franchise? Oklahoma City wouldn't be a bad idea, either. Notice I did not say Des Moines.

 

 

Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan

Not much love from the local media in Buffalo:

Rex Ryan came to Buffalo full of bluster and boast, proclaiming himself as the man who was going to end the Bills’ unfathomable playoff drought, which in January 2015 stood at 15 years.

Rex was going to build a bully, the kind of team that no one was going to want to play against. The No. 4-ranked defense he inherited would become No. 1, just you wait and see. Playoffs? Of course the Bills were going to make it.

“I’m not going to let our fans down,” the bombastic Ryan said the day he was introduced as the Bills’ head coach, two weeks after Doug Marrone had quit. “I’m not going to do that. I know it’s been 15 years since the Bills made the playoffs. Well, get ready man, we’re going. We’re going. Am I guaranteeing a Super Bowl and all that? I’ll tell you what I will do; I will guarantee the pursuit of it. Through hard work, through preparation, we’re going to see how many teams match our work ethic, and all that.”

Well, two years later, Bills fans are let down, way down, not to mention aggravated, and now they have to saddle up for another bumpy ride as the Bills — yet again — will hit the reset button after announcing Tuesday that Ryan and his brother, Rob, have been fired.

Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will serve as head coach when the Bills close their season Sunday in New York against the Jets. It was also announced that general manager Doug Whaley - who has had a hand in hiring the last two Bills head coaches - will lead the search to find Ryan's replacement, a strong indication that Whaley's job is safe.

Owner Terry Pegula released a boilerplate statement that read, “I spoke with Rex earlier today and we mutually agreed that the time to part ways is now. These decisions are never easy. I want to take this opportunity to thank Rex for all his efforts and wish him all the best moving forward. Kim and I and our entire Bills organization share in the same disappointment and frustration as our fans, but we remain committed to our goal of bringing a championship to western New York.”

Rex is walking out of town with his tail between his legs, having never backed up any of his big talk. The Bills won just 15 of the 31 games he coached; they tacked on two more years to their postseason drought; their defense got much worse as the players never bought into, nor understood, Ryan’s complex scheme; and while no one ever questioned the work ethic of Ryan or his players, it was clear the Bills were not a well-prepared team, and they were often an out-coached team on game days.

When you lose in the NFL, it's worse than anything on Earth. It is quite possible that, fifty years from now, aggrieved Bills fans will burn the Ryan brothers in effigy. But, the funny thing is, the Ryan brothers will be back next season, standing on the sidelines somewhere, and they'll have good jobs and good contracts and all of this will be forgotten.

Jeff Fisher

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Jeff Fisher was fired yesterday, and everyone seems to think they know why:

Jeff Fisher, whose job security became baffling as he led the Rams through years of mediocrity, was fired today as the team’s head coach. The team announced the move this afternoon.

Fisher was fired after perhaps the single ugliest loss of his coaching tenure, a brutal blowout at the hands of the Falcons on Sunday that ensured he would have his fifth consecutive losing record at the helm of the team.

Fisher's record was awful, but there are plenty of teams with losing records this season. There are plenty of teams in the NFL right now that are under-performing. Fisher wasn't fired because he was losing. Fisher was fired because the front office of the Los Angeles Rams is in complete and utter disarray. They extended his contract and then they fired him? That's dysfunction at the franchise level. What did the recent franchise relocation have to do with this? Who knows? 

Were it not for the close loss in Super Bowl 34 to the Rams, Fisher (then coaching the Tennessee Titans) probably would have ended up a more obscure figure. I believe his finishes this stage of his career with as many regular season losses as Dan Reeves, but don't give up hope. Fisher will probably come back as a coach in some capacity.  Guys like him end up being someone's coordinator for offense or defense almost immediately.

Skip Bayless

Skip Bayless is proof that you can be awful on television and not know anything and make millions of dollars:

“Too many people in charge at ESPN, for my taste, were a little too fearful,” says the outspoken host, who leaves the Disney-owned network after 12 years for a new show that will launch Sept. 6.

Skip Bayless says his move to Fox Sports 1 – with a new daily program that is set to bow Sept. 6 – will allow him to remove the “handcuffs” he’s been compelled to wear at ESPN, where he hosted the popular ESPN2 program First Take with Stephen A. Smith.

“Too many people in charge at ESPN, for my taste, were a little too fearful,” Bayless tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview officially revealing his move. "It's a Disney network. There are just certain boundaries that you can’t even tiptoe along. Not that we won’t have boundaries at Fox, because we will. [But] they will trust me to go a little deeper. I can be completely honest on everything."

And people wonder why sports programming has taken such a hit in recent years. Thanks to the carte blanche option, people unplug themselves from sports as soon as they can. It's not entirely because of Skip Bayless, but it's damned close.

What's the over/under on Bayless running for President in 2020?

 

Megan Kalmoe is Pulling For You, America

AP London Olympics Rowing Women

Oh, my word:

"My request to everyone who is fixated on s--t in the water: stop. Stop trying to ruin the Olympics for us," Kalmoe wrote in an essay for theGuardian.

The 2012 bronze medalist in quadruple sculls noted that it does no good to complain about the water quality and that there have been similar concerns about the host cities of each of the past few Olympic Games. While the pollution is an issue (not just for the Summer Games, but for everyday life in Brazil), she is just thankful Rio has put in a lot of time, effort and money to host the Olympics.

Now that the Opening Ceremonies on Aug. 5 are just days away, the 32-year-old Kalmoe doesn't want to talk about the water quality. She is ready to compete: "If you are that insecure about where we stand, America, let me be the one to say it. I'll say it, if it will allay your fears and put some of these issues to rest: I will row through s--t for you, America."

Do we really need to censor the word "shit" here? I don't think that we do. I think that these will be the Olympics where a lot of cowardly people stayed home. The bravest and the best of us are headed to Rio. Whiny ass titty baby bitches need not apply.

Look What Bigotry Cost North Carolina

Check out Governor Pat McCrory's freakout below:

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game will move from Charlotte, North Carolina, because of that state's controversial transgender bathroom law, the league announced Thursday.

The league said it would make an announcement about where the February game would be played in the coming weeks.

    The NBA also said it hopes to hold the 2019 game in Charlotte "provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter."

    Gov. Pat McCrory slammed the decision.

    "The sports and entertainment elite, (N.C.) Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media have for months misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present," the governor said. "Left-wing special interest groups have no moral authority to try and intimidate the large majority of American parents who agree in common-sense bathroom and shower privacy for our children."

    The National Basketball Association is a billion-dollar money-making enterprise, not a "left wing special interest group." If you are going to tell these entities that your bigoted state is open for business, don't be shocked then they protect their own business interests and reject the offer to be associated with intolerance and hatred.

    In a decent America, this would lead the citizens of North Carolina to conclude that their legislature and their governor do not accurately reflect their values. This is no longer a decent America; this will allow everyone to double down and claim victimhood. But, hey--the market has spoken.

    Baylor University Won't Do the Decent Thing

    Baylor University has thus far refused to release anything resembling a written report that would cover a slew of recent sexual assaults and convictions. It refuses to acknowledge that there is a serious problem and we know this because they won't even pretend to be transparent and honest about the investigation into what happened to derail the athletic program:

    The former Baylor president Kenneth W. Starr complained that he had never seen it. Baylor’s alumni association called for its release. The Big 12 Conference has asked for it — twice.

    But there is one problem. It — a written report of an investigation conducted by an outside law firm in the wake of several sexual assault allegations and convictions involving Baylor football players — does not exist.

    “Various voices have called for the release of the ‘full report,’” the university’s interim president, David Garland, wrote in June after the Board of Regents demoted Mr. Starr and fired the football coach Art Briles.

    The lawyers’ report, however, “was delivered in the form of an oral presentation that fully and comprehensively presented the individual and aggregated findings and the evidence supporting the findings,” Mr. Garland said.

    Baylor’s decision to forgo a comprehensive report — after an investigation that granted the lawyers what the university called “unfettered access,” more than 65 interviews and one million pieces of information including emails and personnel files — has frustrated not only the supporters of the punished administrators but transparency advocates, who wonder about the impartiality of the lawyers the university hired to investigate itself and whether Baylor is withholding information publicly to protect itself from criticism, lawsuits or both.

    Getting rid of Ken Starr was a good start, but the university needs to realize that a lack of transparency and accountability only leads in one direction--downwards, into a spiraling morass of lawsuits, negative media coverage, and banishment for the athletic program. 

    The Big 12 needs to suspend Baylor until a report is produced. Period. End of story.

    Melt Down That Goddamned Statue of Joe Paterno

    Well, if this doesn't end the discussion as to what Joe Paterno's legacy should be, I don't know what will:

    A man testified in court in 2014 that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno ignored his complaints of a sexual assault committed by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in 1976 when the man was a 14-year-old boy, according to new court documents unsealed Tuesday in a Philadelphia court.

    The victim, who was identified in court records as John Doe 150, said that while he was attending a football camp at Penn State, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Sandusky’s finger penetrated the boy’s rectum, Doe testified in court in 2014, and the victim asked to speak with Paterno about it. Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.

    “Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?'” the man’s lawyer asked him in 2014.

    “Specifically. Yes … I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted… I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”

    Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.

    They should melt that statue down and use it to make sewage system grates, something useful. I don't like to be wasteful. I do like the idea of justice being served. And if there was any justice whatsoever, the NCAA would invalidate every Paterno win since January 1, 1976 and make it permanent. People make significant character-defining choices in their lives, and Paterno made his when he walked away from accountability.