What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
15) The College Football Play-off and the ESPN-ization of Bowl Games
There are two words to describe how we got this four-team playoff to determine the college football national champion.
Don’t even try to deny that. Sure, you can point out that we really aren’t adding any games with this play-off, which is true. But this play-off was clearly made to be a television event.
First of all, did anybody watch that reality show they made around the selection committee? I tried to watch it, and after five minutes I felt nauseous and like I needed a shower. It was so obviously contrived, such an obvious attempt to generate phony controversy. Want to know why Baylor and TCU didn’t get into the play-off? Because they were never going to…they were the pre-determined “outside looking in” teams so that we could have at least one coach come unglued over the process, which is exactly what Baylor’s Art Briles did.
But this just isn’t about the big schools and bowls. There’s a whole lot more little guys being allowed to belly up to the post-season buffet. I’m in a Bowl Pick ‘em challenge, and it took three fucking pages to print out the complete list. The Miami Beach Bowl? The Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl? The Boca Raton Bowl?
The fun little fact I discovered is that ESPN actually owns ten of these bowl games. The finances are amazing. They can put on these little games for less than a million bucks a pop, which is an amount they can clearly make back on advertising revenues during the broadcasts combined with deals they make with all the parking/concession people at the stadium, and the local Chambers of Commerce. You know damn good and well that bowl organizers even before ESPN made sure they got a taste of whatever the local hotel, restaurant, and general merchants were getting from filling a town with 30,000 (or more) football fans.
From the National Championship game all the way down to the Fargo Bowl, the tie that binds is ESPN. The fact that a media outlet is now actively participating in the staging of sporting events is just another step in the cooperation between broadcasters and sports leagues; one which will prove to have a major impact on the future of sports in America.
14) A Changing of the Guard in the NBA
Say what you will about David Stern, but there is really no questioning that he left the NBA in a far better state than when he became the commissioner in 1984. That isn’t to say there haven’t been some major bumps along that road, but in his 30 years as NBA commissioner, David Stern presided over the Association as it went from a league struggling for its very survival and entered an unprecedented era of popularity.
Stern’s detractors like to point to the fact the league’s success was tied to its star power, but it was Stern who figured out how to market those stars and capitalize on their ability to draw fans. This is why the NBA just signed a TV deal worth $25 billion, and regardless of what you think of Stern’s involvement in fiascos like the implementation of the NBA Draft Lottery or his intervention in the sale and purchase of the Seattle SuperSonics, that would have never happened without Stern.
Another legacy of David Stern is how his successor Adam Silver immediately handled a controversy that threatened to do major damage to that which Stern had helped create. I’ll get to that story later in this piece.
13) Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis Scandal
Raise your hand if you are ready for all this “steroid” nonsense to go away. Regular readers of this blog have to know where I stand on this issue, but even the most ardent self-appointed moralist on this issue has to be ready for it to be over. Hopefully, maybe the story can die along with what is left of Alex Rodriguez’ career.
When he was originally suspended for 221 games for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, the common belief was that was effectively a death sentence for his career. But then an arbitrator reduced that suspension to 162 games, which leaves Rodriguez set for a return to the Yankees in 2015 at age 39.
This begs the question: Given his precipitous decline in recent years, along with his injury history late in his career, how much can the guy have left?
This may very well be the perfect argument to illustrate how hypocritical all these politically-correct do-gooders really are. The only reason the whole anti-“Redskins” movement has any traction is because of the team’s idiot owner.
People who pay any attention to this issue ask an obvious question, but don’t see the equally obvious answer. The question is “Why is ‘Redskins’ wrong, but so many other native-based mascots are accepted?” That’s a fair question if you ever watched a Kansas City Chiefs or Florida State Seminoles home game. The fair answer is that while there was some noise about those and other mascots when this movement started some twenty years ago, the do-gooders kept gunning for “Redskins,” because team owner and massive idiot Dan Snyder keeps digging his heels in claiming the name is not a slur but a tribute to Native Americans.
In other words, the do-gooder movement is really more about flexing its muscle rather than eliminating “offensive” mascots. The University of North Dakota fought back, and the battle over the “Fighting Sioux” mascot ended up in court for years. Snyder won’t back down, and the battle rages on.
There’s an old Dubsism video podcast that explores why some mascots are offensive, and some are not because many of these mascots still exist with little or no problem. This new development with Washington suggests many franchises which have kept their franchises also simply kept their mouths shut.
11) The Michael Sam Fiasco
Shortly after finishing his college career at Missouri, Michael Sam came out publicly as gay. While he was an SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Sam was also seen as a player with limitations in the NFL. Despite his excellence at the collegiate level, Sam was a “tweener;” his body type stuck him in between the ideal for positions for which he might be considered. The concern about Sam was that he would be too slow to play outside linebacker (his original position), and that he lacked the size to play defensive end.
Despite that, draft experts still ranked Sam as a third- or fourth-round draft prospect. That was before the workouts at the Draft Combine confirmed everybody’s suspicions. You can read the results for yourself.
Good arm length. Anticipates the snap and has a very good initial first step. Plays hard — gives great effort and competes every down. Good on-field intensity and demeanor. Attacks the edges aggressively and motor runs hot. Outstanding weight-room strength — can squat a small house. Very durable.
Lacks burst and acceleration off the edge to get a step on blockers and finish. Sack production results from effort and production flushed to him and is not creatively produced with savvy pass-rush moves, speed, power or bend. Average hip flexibility and snap — struggles clearing his hips at the top of his rush and trimming the corner. Adequate anchor vs. the run. Is late to disengage from blocks. Does not strike with authority. Inconsistent tackler. Late bloomer who could require time to adapt to the pro game.
A productive, 4-3 weakside rusher who came on as a senior and it made his last season his best. Could fit most ideally as a 3-4 outside linebacker in a zone-blitzing scheme like the Steelers or Ravens. Compares favorably to Chargers 2009 first-round pick Larry English, an overhyped, overdrafted, marginal producer in the pros.
That last line tells it all; “…overhyped, overdrafted, marginal producer in the pros.”
It was Sam’s performance at the Combine which led to his drop to the seventh round. Even though he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, it was his lack of performance that led the Rams to release him. The Cowboys gave him a shot, but they also released him. With the NFL Draft coming in a few months, it seems unlikely another team will pick him up.
However, that hasn’t stopped the narrative about Sam being the NFL’s first openly gay player. The problem he’s never played in a regular season game.
There are so many people who have waiting for years to write the story about a major figure in one of the “big four” sports to be openly gay that they quit waiting for the announcement to come from a “star”-level player. They ultimately settled for a guy taken near the very end of the draft. They didn’t even wait for him to play in an official game. However, that hasn’t stopped some from claiming that Sam’s failure to make a roster is about discrimination. You have to break it down to truly appreciate how silly it is.
…Michael Sam is not with a team and has not made an active roster. While some apologists claim he’s just not good enough for the NFL, many others in and outside of football are scratching their heads as to how this could be happening to a man who 12 months ago was being discussed by some as a possible first-round draft pick.
Whoa…discussed by some? Maybe you might have found a leaky-skull like skip Bayless who might have used the words “Michael Sam” and “first-round draft pick” in the same sentence once, but nobody seriously ever thought Sam could go that high in the draft.
So, once you establish that Michael Sam was a “first-rounder,” then the next paragraph seems far less ludicrous.
With every week that passes featuring mediocre players taking the field for NFL teams, and various clubs showing no ability to stop the pass, the reasoning for the NFL’s collective snub of Sam becomes more and more clear:
Michael Sam is not on an active roster today because he is openly gay.
Now the question becomes how does the writer back up such a sweeping statement? That’s where seriously flawed logic come into play.
While a lot of talk had been made about the NFL Draft history of SEC Defensive Players of the Year (Michael is the first ever to not be selected in the first five rounds, and only the second to not go in the first two rounds), there are other numbers that tell a more compelling story of the history that is being made by the NFL keeping Sam on the sideline.
Since 2000, 73 different men have won the Defensive Player of the Year award in the big five football conferences: ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12 and SEC. Of those 73 men, only four have fared worse in the NFL Draft than Sam, all of whom went undrafted.
If the supposition is that any player who wins an award in college football is automatically destined for a role in the NFL, well…this is going to be easier than I thought. Do I really need to trot out the list of Heisman trophy winners who sucked on Sunday? Better yet, this is the best example of a player in Sam’s position the author can find:
Jackson Jeffcoat was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Year just last season. The Texas linebacker signed with the Seattle Seahawks after the draft, was cut in August, then signed with Washington before Week 1. Incidentally, no Texas players were drafted in 2014. He’s currently on Washington’s active roster.
In other words, the best example to be found is a guy riding the bench for arguably the biggest dumpster fire in the league. Hold on…it’s about to get way better.
Of all 73 men to win one of these prestigious defensive awards from the big conferences, Sam is only the third one ever – and the first to be drafted – to not be with a team halfway through his rookie season…
… To put it another way, of the 73 DPOYs in the big conferences since 2000, 95 percent were selected earlier than Michael Sam; all but two since 2000 (97 percent) – and 100 percent in the last eight years – made an active roster his rookie season … all except for Sam.
Here comes the conclusion…are you ready for it?
Why is Sam not with a team right now? Why was he not selected before the seventh round? Because he’s gay. Period. That’s it.
Yep. Period. That’s it. No other argument could even possible hold water at this point. None. Period.
First of all, I never trust any argument whose conclusion is simply to dismiss any other one possible . I’m right, you’re not, period. Strong arguments survive challenges; which tells you all you need to know about ones which evade challenge at any cost.
Secondly, it is important to note this argument never once mentions the real reason Sam nearly fell completely out of the draft; his combine performance.
It is also worthy of note the author how the author refers to this as the NFL’s “collective snub?” Obviously, that means it wasn’t enough the Rams drafted Sam, or that the Cowboys gave him a second chance, which is a hell of a lot more than many players get. Once he declared his sexuality in front of the world, Sam was supposed to be granted access to an NFL roster so the media could finally have their “openly gay athlete” narrative.
The real problem here is that despite how much the sports media tried to make a big deal out of Jason Collins being the first openly gay player in the NBA, ultimately nobody cared. What the proponents of the “openly gay athlete” story have grossly miscalculated is that “gay” doesn’t drive this story; “star power” does. No matter how you slice it, Michael Sam was never going to be a star. Period.
Ryan Meehan and I explored this topic a long time ago, and the calculus hasn’t changed. This was more about a political agenda; the media tried to create a gay version of Jackie Robinson; instead they created a side-show attraction that ultimately won’t help anybody.
10) Team USA Gets Americans To Care about the World Cup…Sort Of
The US wasn’t expected to get out of the group stage considering it was in a so-called “Group of Death” with perennial powers Germany and Portugal, and longtime nemesis Ghana. But Team USA prevailed over the African which had given them fits in previous tournaments, and a tie against Portugal guaranteed a trip to the knockout round.
The miracle run died at the hands of the Belgians, but this was the best thrill ride American soccer fans have had in quite some time.
The problem was that right after the World Cup, most Americans went back to not giving a shit about soccer. Granted, the sport is growing in popularity in this country, and I’m on record as to what soccer really needs to do to continue that growth, but until then, the American pro-soccer crowd needs to keep it’s expectations realistic.
They thought 2014 was the year that America would finally get into soccer. But Americans love an event, and the World Cup is just like the Olympics in the sense that this is a time every four years we care about something for about two weeks.
9) Johnny Football Fever
Johnny Manziel…maybe you’ve heard of him. The guy can’t stay out of our consciousness because we as a nation are fascinated by this guy. He doesn’t stay in the headlines because of his on-field exploits. His football career can be summed in two sentences.
We love to pile on sports figures based on what we’ve seen most recently, and right now that isn’t good for Manziel. But let’s be honest, the on-the -field narrative on Johnny Football is far from over. So why are we fascinated by this guy. Because his life is way better than yours.
Face it. Even a lousy NFL quarterback’s life kicks the shit out of yours. Do the math. Even the worst quarterback in the NFL makes a shitload of money, but that’s balanced out by the fact he has to take the sting out of what gets said about him by getting blowjobs from swimsuit models. Johnny embraces the party side of that lifestyle when he’s supposed to downplay it, and that’s why we love him. Shit, most of you reading this would love to be him.
8) The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour
The Captain walked away from baseball after 19 seasons, leaving behind a Hall of Fame career, legions of adoring fans, the respect of rivals, and, of course, a legendary roll call of celebrity ex-girlfriends. What can you say about Derek Jeter that hasn’t already been said.
7) LeBron James Goes Home
America loves the “hometown hero” story, and the LeBron James narrative couldn’t be anymore down that alley. It’s got the hometown angle, it has the Prodigal Son angle, and if LeBron somehow manages to bring an NBA title to Cleveland, they’ll put his face on a mountain…well, if they had a mountain in Cleveland.
6) Luis Suarez Puts The Bite On Giorgio Chiellini
We’ve already discussed how Americans caught the World Cup bug, but then Nyquil-ed their way back from it. However, in the rest of the world, the Luis Suarez story may easily be the biggest of the year. Dubbed the “bite seen around the world,” the Uruguayan forward dug his chops into the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during a first-round match. Not only was this just another example of what a huge douche-hammer Suarez is, but the fact that he tried to pull a flop of his own is quintessentially why soccer’s growth potential is limited in America.
5) The Sochi Winter Olympic Games
For two weeks in February, the world’s attention focused on Sochi, Russia. What I can’t figure out is why anybody was surprised to see a bunch of goofy stuff happening in a country which has been Europe’s retarded little brother for most of it’s history.
The allegations of corruption should have been the least surprising. Post-communist Russia has been an economic “Wild West;” anything goes if you’ve got the dough. It really should have been much more surprising to see simply weird things in Russia, like oddly-colored drinking water, stall-less bathrooms, and recycling toilet paper.
4) The Oscar Pistorius Trial
The “Blade Runner’s” trial was South Africa’s version, except this time the killer went to jail. He never denied shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, he clung to a “mistaken identity” defense. Pistorius said he fired four times through a locked bathroom door in the middle of the night because he thought there was an intruder in his house. He was sentenced to a five year prison term after the court decided his claim didn’t have a leg to stand on.
3) The Death of Kevin Ward Jr.
Too many people wanted to call this a tragedy, and while the death of a young man can certainly be so, one simply cannot ignore the role stupidity played in this. Despite what anybody says, Ward wouldn’t have been killed that day if he doesn’t get out of his car.
2) Donald Sterling Commits Career SuicideDonald Sterling’s idiocy was never a secret, but when an ex-mistress secretly (and illegally) recorded Sterling asking why she insisted on bringing her black friends to Clippers games, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver got his chance to take decisive action by banning Sterling from the NBA for life and forcing the sale of his team. It was easy for Silver to torpedo Sterling; basketball fans and the public-at-large were appalled to hear Sterling comments. Everybody was in such a rush to bury Sterling that nobody noticed Silver had seriously over-stepped his authority, and that by forcing the sale, Sterling netted a nearly $2 billion. I’ll say anything you want on tape if you give me that much money.
1) The NFL’s Never-Ending Public Relations Nightmare
Ray Rice. Adrian Peterson. Concussions. Bad officiating. Rule changes that are screwing up the game itself. The hits just keep on coming for Kommissar Goodell. A few years ago, coming out of lockout, Goodell looked like he could be Kommissar for life. And as long as the NFL corporate offices are plumbed with hot and cold running money, he likely stays that way. Even with the current troubles, the league’s strategy of battening down the hatches and waiting for the storm to pass seems like it’s worked pretty well. There’s no doubt, though, that the general public is watching the NFL with a more suspicious eye.