The Post

The Best Stadium Amenity, Ever

Iowa football is doing a very cool thing. I bet you’ve seen it. Their home field now has a sparkling new children’s hospital that looms right over the rim of Kinnick Stadium. The building is the tallest habitable structure in Iowa City, and cost $380 million to build.

Hawkeye fans have been scratching together money for it for years, with “Touchdowns for Kids” campaign. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz – who would have long ago bolted for the NFL, and since been long fired – kicked in a cool $1 million of his own money for the hospital.

Now, during every game, there’s a moment where the fans all turn in unison and wave at the kids who gaze down from the top floors. Kids with tubes stuck in their bodies, kids with shaved heads, kids who haven’t been out of the hospital in over a year.

It’s a small thing. A token thing. But an incredible thing. It’s brilliant. And it got me to thinking. “Wouldn’t it be nice if EVERY new stadium we built these days, had a kids hospital attached to it?”

Its already a crime that cities build money-making palaces for billionaire owners, only to watch them launch their franchise values into the stratosphere. And since forcing owners to pay for their own is difficult (but sometimes possible, as it largely was with the coming palace in Los Angeles for the Rams and Chargers), how about this: tell sports owners: “We’ll build a stadium, but YOU need to build the hospital.”

Imagine every new stadium having a therapeutic connection to recovery rooms full of kids on the brink of death, and families torn by grief and financial worry. Sports owners like to play the “this new stadium, and my wonderful team, will have a real benefit to our beloved city” card. If we made ’em all build a hospital on top of it, then that old canard would actually be true.

Good on you, Iowa Hawkeyes.

Gamechangers

So I’m driving from the golf range with my daughter and nephew today. Because this is what dads do, I said we needed to stop at Wawa for a celebratory snack. After checking out, my nephew Luke sees the blue M&M’s bag in my hand. “What’s that flavor,” he asks? I reply: “Caramel. Oh, you haven’t had them? GAMECHANGER!”

I wish I had more discipline to resist, but I just don’t. They are THAT good. A perfect blend of thick candy shell, thin layer of caramel, and a chocolate core.

This spawned a back and forth with the kids, about OTHER delicious food items, life things, that are ….. GAMECHANGERS. The definition of what qualifies, in of itself, debatable. Which makes it fun. Whatever it is you claim, it’s gotta be a NEW twist on a genre or invention, and it has to threaten to become the new most popular iteration of that thing.

I think I’m going to try to make this a once-a-week segment on my radio show. Feel free to play at home. Or send me your nominations.

Backyard Pools, The American Dream

My brother-in-law Todd and his wife Yvonne (my wife’s sister) are thinking about building a pool in their backyard. I am in full support. Why wouldn’t I be!? Not my money! Not my (potential) headache! I’ll bring my swim trunks next time we visit!

But here’s the thing that still floors me about the “pool biz.” The number of horror stories of pool-building gone wrong, is seemingly endless. My in-laws say there are about 5 or 6 neighbors who have had bad experiences. Including one neighbor whose builder just QUIT halfway through the job. It led to a near mental breakdown of the husband, and almost a divorce. I have a neighbor who had a pool build that spanned an absurd 14 months, and legal action (both ways!) And what is crazy, is that my neighbor is an accomplished civil engineer, who is not cheap, and extremely detail oriented and thorough in everything he does!

And yet, because pools involve so many different variables, so many different trades required to construct, and now so many bells and whistles… it just seems like the chances for things to go bad remains exceedingly high.

I wish them luck. I just keep thinking of Brian Nelson’s timeless words of wisdom to me, as a (remorseful) pool owner himself. He said…

“You can’t always not be building a pool.”

Don’t read and re-read that one too many times. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s on purpose. But it really just means that once you put a pool in your backyard, it’s over. The dream is accomplished. But the dream is also dead. The dream of almost every suburban homeowner, is that of Clark Griswold gazing through a window in the winter, thinking of glorious summer days splashing happily just steps from your back door.

In other words, the warm and fuzzy feeling of DREAMING about a pool, and the excitement of BUILDING a pool, essentially die the moment you turn off the hose.

I don’t have a pool. I have plenty of space. I might be able to find the money. But I doubt I’ll ever get one. I think the moment has passed. And that’s not a bad thing.

For everyone who DOES have a pool, and built it without any undue headaches…. I salute you. And when can I come over?

 

An Odd Hill To Die On

I’ve absorbed the Jemele Hill kerfuffle – and that’s all it is, this too shall pass – for a week now. And I guess I am left with this one question: “What makes her happy in life?” I would assume she’s thrilled at this broadcast opportunity she’s been given – hosting SportsCenter with her kindred journalistic and ethnic brother Michael Smith. What a break! What a gig!

Talking sports on TV. That MUST make her happy, no?

So in light of the controversy, is she happier now that she’s been lionized by her supporters for not just speaking “truth to power” but shit-talking it to it’s face? Or is she miserable and paranoid that a weak moment on social media has perhaps poisoned her best chance at a lengthy and influential run on the (still) premiere sports network in America?

I’ve heard both theories. Jason Whitlock seems to think this is a well orchestrated exit plan, for a show that’s sinking. Bill Simmons however, thinks she’s brilliantly checkmated the network into “needing her, more than she needs them.” I dunno. I suppose it depends on what her “long game” is. She could certainly hop-step to another non-sports cable network like CNN or MSNBC and be another political voice for the left. But that field is crowded, and full of more experienced and talented on air personalities that already share her social virtues to the hilt.

I read a good piece about how this new SC6 came to be, and how Hill had bounced around the Bristol TV Funhouse and various shows up until now. I totally understand how she and Smith wanted to make THEIR version of SportsCenter one that delivered the sports, but also delivered a more black-oriented pop culture, all while being socially conscious.

If they could make that combination actually WORK, while bringing in and holding the curious and open minded. If they could somehow deliver sustainable ratings, what a powerful addition to the media landscape that would be! What doors that might open to the NEXT Jemele Hill and Michael Smith? Right?

So far, its not working. Prior to the Trump Tweetstorm, ratings for the 6 p.m. SportsCenter were down almost 20% from a year ago. This won’t help. It’s hard to think a viewer, aware of the controversy who voted for Trump for a variety of reasons but none of them racist, would feel welcome inviting Ms. Hill into their home. If ratings plunge another 20% this year, then I’d have a hard time seeing ESPN renew her deal. No matter how much her immediate bosses like her style, and agree with her politics, there are people and forces above those bosses who might end up calling the shots.

I would hope that Hill cares most about making every effort to reward her company for the chance it gave her, by delivering a show that’s economically viable, if not robust. If she doesn’t feel she owes it to ESPN, then I’d hope she at least sees the SC6 project as bold, but fragile, and something that deserves protection from downward forces above all else. It’s her baby. Protect it!

To quote one of the 3 rap songs I know anything about… as Eminem said..

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime….

At this point, the shot has been played. You can’t go back, fluff it up, tone it down, explain it away. It’ll either make her a modern media superstar, or sink ESPN’s latest experiment to Make SportsCenter Great Again.

2017 Week 2 Wrap: Redskins 27 Rams 20

All I can say, is “thank god.” Thank god that a 13-0 fast start – which easily could have and should have been more like 27-7 – didn’t melt into a last second loss. Life in the NFL is constantly a binary state. You either win, or lose, and your entire world feels different depending upon what happened last Sunday.

So let’s be thankful for all that we avoid this week. No talk of the season being over. No chatter about was Jay Gruden’s extension a mistake. No Kirk talk. At least for one week.

At 1-1, even with two hard wins on the schedule coming up, we have ourselves a season. So let’s dig in.

Run, Run, Run
That was a spectacular effort up front. Amazing. A final run/pass tally that is rarely seen in the modern, pass-all-the-time NFL. 39/27 run-pass is rare. And it usually means your team is ahead by 3 touchdowns all day long, and it just trying to burn clock. Not the case here. The Skins ran the ball to victory when the game was deadlocked at 20. The final drive was 7 runs, 4 passes, with a rookie RB toting the rock. The urge is to say: “Let’s just do this all the time.” Well, if only it was that easy.

Kirk
For the second straight week, he was MEH- at best. But when the game was there to be won, he won it. Engineering a 70 yard drive, and plunging the dagger in with a perfect touch pass to Jay Gruden’s adopted son, Ryan Grant. Sorry Kirk haters, but that will go down as a “4th quarter game winning drive” in the big old dusty book known as “Just How Good Is Kirk Cousins.” You can footnote it all you want (mostly runs!) but he won. And winners write the history books. As for the rest of the game, there was almost no straight line, downfield probing of the Rams secondary. It was all medium stuff, with in-breaking routes, or sideline targets. Kirk again looked tentative and out of sorts. He must play better, and I think he will. But I also think there’s disorganization with his WR’s that we on the couch simply can’t know. Perhaps guys not running the correct routes. Or maybe not winning their routes when they absolutely have to win. For the second straight week, we’re all wondering: “Shouldn’t we have spent some money to keep at least Garcon OR Jackson?”

The Fade
Throw this play into a North Korean gulag, and never let it see the light of day. It’s not our thing. It doesn’t work. Jay, please stop calling it. I’m not even sure how “in style” it is league-wide anymore. It seems fun and easy: Step 1) Get tall player. 2) Have him jump up and catch touchdown 1-on-1. Reality is different. Timing has to be there. Passer touch has to be there. Our WR’s ability to fight through contact has to be there. And yeah, I’ve seen fade passes get picked off, too. It’s not a zero-risk play. Junk it. Instead, put this play in the mix down on the goal-line: the 4-wide spread “shovel” pass. Seems to me, that 70% of the time, it scores a touchdown 80% of the time. Or something.

Toughness
They don’t put a number for this in the box score, but it’s required to win football games. When Jordan Reed returned to the sideline after his chest injury – sans shoulder-pads – I was certain: “He’s done for the day.” Not so. He ended up strapping up and returning to play on crucial 3rd down late in the game. Didn’t catch a pass, but was out there as a threat. Then you had Mason Foster, dislocating his shoulder, having it popped back in and making the game ending INT. Awesome.

Balls
A lot of people were wondering, and worrying, that Jay’s play-calling might not be as dynamic or bold as young Mr. McVay – now standing on the opposite sideline. Well, not so on the game-winning play. On 3rd and 5 at the 12 yard line, every gutless NFL coach in the league usually runs and settles for a (Yay! We’re 3 points ahead! Hooray!) field goal. Instead, Gruden went shotgun/bunch formation and trusted Kirk to deliver. I was standing in my basement, clapping my hands so hard they stung after that beauty! It almost made me want to forget his lack of…..

Brains
Timeout usage by coaches in the NFL is still an emotional, knee-jerk endeavor. It’s not rational game-theory. The value of having all-three 2nd half timeouts in your pocket eludes most coaches. With all-3 timeouts, you can force the opponent into a 3-run, :24 possession when you absolutely MUST get the ball back. Without any, a team can burn 2 full minutes off the game, by just taking 3 knees. Yet here was Gruden, utterly wasting two timeouts in the 2nd half. The first was on defense in the 3rd quarter, with Goff and the Rams facing a 3rd and 10! The second was after the Skins converted on a 3rd down dart to Crowder to keep the chains moving at 4:49. ARRRRGH! WHY! When will he ever learn?

Quick Hits
– Josh Norman continues to be worth every penny. The punch-out is now a lethal weapon.
– Can’t fault Breeland for whiffing on Gurley’s hurdle. Go look at it again: Breeland’s trying to make a form-perfect WAIST HIGH tackle. And Gurley just vanishes.
– Hopkins missed another one. I know it was from 50, but the ice is getting thin. And I’m a big fan.
– Lots of Skins fans in the building. Very encouraging. Who sez we don’t have a certain “National” element to us?
– Chris Spielman is quietly outstanding as an NFL TV analyst. He explains football concept plainly, and as they happen. No condescension. No cliches as crutches.
– Hekker is a bitch when it comes to fake punts. We were his 8th victim on Sunday. So it’s not that we were asleep. I think Fabian Moreau was playing “off” on purpose on his gunner, for fear of getting beat over the top for a TD. We’ll see what the coaches say today.
– Rob Kelly had his best day yet as a Redskin, and still he left a bunch of yards out there. I can’t recall the last time I saw an NFL RB just run straight into an open field tackle, 20 yards past the line of scrimmage, with a ton of running room toward the sideline. He also missed a pretty blatant cut-back to open space early in the game.
– Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder are friggin’ FOOTBALL PLAYERS! Period. I wish I could clone 53 of them.
– As fun as it was to watch the Robert Woods meltdown, and it dearly cost his team with two stupid penalties in the 2nd half, just remember that it could have easily been our guys. Breeland and Norman are great alpha-dog competitors, but they push the line. This week Woods ended up drawing the flags. Next week, it might be us.
– I have a fundamental problem with Jay trusting a crucial red-zone feature play (the fade) to a guy who was not a full participant all week in practice (Doctson). Run that play for Pryor instead. If you must…
– If Jared Goff is special, I can’t see it. It doesn’t mean he isn’t. I just can’t see it. And remember: the Rams gave up 2 #1’s, 2 #2’s and 2 #3’s to get him. (Although they clawed back a 4th and a 6th from the Titans in the deal).

 

2017 Week 1 Wrap: Eagles 30 Redskins 17

Sep 10, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) attempts to intercept a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As a fanbase, we’re traumatized. This acceptance, precedes any analysis of yet another opening day loss in the Jay Gruden Era (now 0-4 out of the gate).

We’re traumatized by the litany of stupid moments engineered by our team on the field, and off, over the last 18 years. And like any traumatized soul, we tend to catastrophize things like Sunday’s loss to the Eagles.

In short: it wasn’t that bad. Hardly. Go ask the Bengals. Or the Colts. Or the Giants. Or Texans. Now those guys had BAD days. Our guys just played a shit game, and got beat. Rightly so.

It didn’t mean there wasn’t some genuinely remote-smashing moments. Nor that there aren’t troubling signs already, of season long weaknesses to come. There were, and there are.

But if you ask me: a 19-17 game with 6:43 to play, plus the football – especially after being down 13-0 to start, and with 3 turnovers already and just 30 yards rushing out of your backfield – is no catastrophe. It’s a frustrating loss.

Of course, Kirk Cousins threw a bad INT off his back foot, in the red zone with 12 minutes left in the game. Indefensible. Yet, if I dare point out to the professional Kirk-haters in our fanbase that the game would not have ended right there with 12 minutes to go, had Kirk hit Crowder in stride for the TD, I will be labelled an apologist.

It’s gonna be a long year on that front. Grant me strength. Let’s just see the whole 16-game movie, how ’bout, then we’ll have all winter to fine tune exactly how many million a year Kirk is “worth?” Sound good? Because right now, some of us are trying to have a season. And for this season, Kirk is our guy. Period. We’ve already paid for him.

Let’s tally up the good, not-so-good, and the downright frightening.

Good
Josh Norman: Incredible competitiveness, and nose for the football. Expensive. Worth every penny.

Zach Brown: already has me thinking he’s like that last FA LB we took off Buffalo’s hands. Erased plays all day, left and right. Fletcher 2.0.

Chris Thompson: Not only with that pinball TD catch and scamper, but did a good job on blitz pickup all day.

Ryan Grant: Hell, yeah give it up for ol’ Ryan. Maybe Jay’s gonna be proven right on this one after all.

No-So-Good
Pass Rush: Had some moments. Had Wentz dead to rights too often. Didn’t put him on the ground enough. Too many long developing plays, where Wentz had plenty of time.

Crowder’s “Jump-Catch-Fumble” on the punt return. What, the, fuck? Bro.

Ryan Anderson’s neutral-zone infraction (seriously is it that hard to line up on-sides?) wiped out a Junior Galette sack he so richly deserved. Amazed and slightly shocked Galette is finally out there playing. What a road he’s travelled.

Kirk. Tentative at times with his new WR’s. But it’s still on him. You’re the man, dude, make it work.

Awful
O-line protection for Kirk. Both Moses and Trent got banged up wheels at some point in this game, but still, they were abused at times. Lavau continues to be a weak link.

Running game. Sure we can blame the o-line here too, but I stand firm in saying Rob Kelly is just a bad idea as RB1. While I don’t think college “pedigree” means everything in the NFL, we have to constantly remind ourselves this guy was an UDFA who never had a single 100 yard rushing game in college. Very few NFL RB1’s from that mold. Whatever Jay sees in Rob – and he’s professed his LOVE for Kelly – I don’t from my couch. He’s a below replacement level NFL starting RB.

Terrell Pryor’s hands. Oh holy shit were they bad on Sunday. And Browns fans will say: “Yup, while the rest of the world was just watching his highlights last year, we watched the games. And he dropped more balls than you can imagine.” I don’t want to imagine him as Andre Roberts, or Rod Gardner 2.o, but he’s gotta tighten that up. This isn’t Instagram, where you can delete your drops.

Josh Doctson. Still. Can’t. Get. On. The. Field. He played SOME on Sunday, but had no impact. And this is after a summer of coddling, coaxing, hyping, and hoping. I have zero expectations of him ever being an impact WR. Sorry.

Nugget Time
More than a few people asked me why once again FedEx Field looks so bad already. Kinda brownish, and clumpy. Look, it is, what it is. We’re in the worst zone to try to grow real grass for football. Athletic bermuda has stopped growing already. And playing college games on the surface doesn’t help. Unless you want to spend a pile of money on it like Lambeau to make it half-bionic, fed with grow-lights through the winter, we’ll just have to hope the new stadium’s turf is better.

Instant replay was great again, huh? I’m not even mad. I’ve seen this over and over and over. I made my objections loud and clear. And I lost. The mob has spoken. They think it’s a good thing. Well, there was your good thing, ready to save the game from being decided by a wrong call. And yet….

Why in the bloody hell is Bashaud Breeland returning kickoffs? Why? This is a zilch play, that rarely nets a return past the 30 if you even get returnable kicks. Staff that position with an expendable redshirt and be done with it. Our starting OCB? The fuck you crazy, Jay? Breeland got blasted right on his knees at least 3 times on returns by my count. Insane. Hey Brian Quick: if it’s in the endzone, catch it and kneel. If not, run like hell, and don’t fumble.

I hate when coaches trade a :40 time coupon, just to avoid a 5 yard penalty. Gruden did on 3rd and 9 with time left in the 3rd quarter. It was of no use. They kicked a FG anyway. Had Kirk’s incompletion been called correctly, that timeout would have been worth it’s weight in gold.

On The Notion of “Sticking To Sports”

There’s a new battle cry out there amongst the sports opinion ecosystem: DON’T just “stick to sports.” The age of athlete activism is upon us, even though athletes have been activists on their own time for years. Now, it’s just more in your face. Which can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how you like to take your activism.

Here’s an excerpt from a RealClearSports column by Cory Gunkel.

Rachel Nichols best summed up the hypocrisy on her ESPN NBA show, “The Jump,” on Wednesday.

“You can’t applaud athletes for putting their passion and resources into addressing the very real and physical damage caused when a person loses their house to a flood, but criticize athletes for putting those same passions and resources into addressing the very real and physical damage when, say, an unarmed person is shot and killed,” Nichols said. “It can’t be socially acceptable for an athlete to give out food to a hurricane shelter, but not acceptable for him or her trying to address a politician trying to defund school lunch programs.”

Gunkel says we need to slay the “Stick to Sports” rejoinder for good, and forever mix our sports and our politics and social issues. If this is going to be the case, may I humbly suggest a few things for those athletes who are itchin’ for activism?

Understand the difference between ACTION and mere VIRTUE SIGNALLING. 
The JJ Watt argument is a bad one, because in Watt’s case he was spearheading a humanitarian issue. He was actually DOING something about a problem. Furthermore, there was no “two sides” to the issue he was tackling. People were flooded and in need of supplies, water, and such. Nobody was saying “nah, these flooded Houstonians are babies. They’re fine!”

When it comes to athletes who tweet about “social justice” and specifically police brutality, one must realize that there is a tangle of complex issues in play on that one. For starters, the data on fatal police shootings is not kind to the narrative. But then again, people have different takes on how that data should be sliced and diced. I purposefully did not link any articles here, because you can do your own research, and I feel like nobody needs anymore “HERE, read this link you dummy and SUBMIT to my opinion” pieces on the internet.

Beyond that, I have not heard a single compelling ACTION item that Colin Kaepernick or others are suggesting be implemented to help solve the issue of racially biased policing/brutality. Is it more cops? Less cops? A new training program? Federalize law enforcement across all of the US? Do we want to forcibly match the racial percentage of police to the communities they serve? If a city is 80% black, do we want an 80% black force? What if it’s too hard to reach that number? Should we lower police academy standards to achieve a near perfect racial makeup?

What do you want as an activist, and what is your plan to achieve it? Without those two things, you merely have virtue signalling and attention seeking, not genuine activism. Kapernick has donated a million dollars to some 24 very worthy charities. That’s great! But what does he want me, or anyone else, to DO? Activism is only effective, if you get people to ACT.

Be Humble and Accept That the National Anthem Is Not the Right Place Or Time
Like many sports fans, I would have had no problem had Colin Kapernick spoken thoughtfully about police brutality and inequality in law enforcement after games, during sit down interviews with ESPN, at rallies, and via his social media platforms. But wearing pig socks to practice, and tweeting old photos of slave catcher badges is not thoughtful. And choosing the anthem as his stage, is simply wrong. And I’ll never sway from that opinion. The national anthem to many, is a ritual, and a collective vigil in which we come together as a society, to give thanks and pause for 2 minutes for living in such a wonderful country. It’s not protest time. Or look-at-me-time. Not now. Never.

Sure, it’s a moment of high leverage and attention for the players who are doing it, but it’s not their stage. I find it rude, and disrespectful to our military and those who have sacrificed for America’s safety and future. Then again, that’s just MY opinion. Un-swayable. But as VALID as anybody else’s opinion. And yes, I am well aware of the fact many military members are JUST FINE with anthem protests. To me, this is as inappropriate as somebody showing up to a candlelight vigil for somebody who was murdered (not by cops) and holding a big sign advocating for less restrictions on concealed carry laws. You may think THAT would have saved this person’s life, but the issue is more complex than that, and many would disagree. The anthem is a vigil. Respect it.

Prepare For and Accept That There Will be Strong Pushback and Debate on Some of Your Pet Issues
The left’s idea of “I’m not going to just stick to sports” also comes with a tacit belief that anyone who disagrees with them, is wrong, evil, and needs to be shouted down, shamed and shunned. I recently saw an ESPN personality use her twitter account to rally people to oppose the president’s repeal of DACA. Okay. Fine. Are you ready to engage with others in the sports world who want to argue that this is the right and proper thing for the president to do? Better yet, are there any sports media people insane enough (in this witch burning climate no less!) to mount that horse? DACA is complicated. Immigration laws, amnesty, executive orders, states rights…. etc. etc. At least that’s how I see it. Complicated. Some will no doubt eviscerate me for even saying it’s complicated! They will say it’s NOT! It’s SIMPLE! And it’s EVIL and HEARTLESS… and…. (sucks in deep breath of contempt)… CRUEL!

My thoughts in immigration, DACA, the debt ceiling, North Korea, Russian election interference, campaign finance reform, the electoral college, police brutality, the tax code, and to a much lesser extent, the designated hitter, are complex and varied. None are my expertise. They spill over different parts of the traditional ideological spectrum, and some of them are more emotionally based than empirical.

I could tell you about them here. Or on Twitter. Or Facebook. Of while the national anthem is playing. But I don’t see much actual good coming from that. I also don’t see where mixing them into our daily sports pancake batter is a good idea either. But apparently, some do. If you really want to know what I think about some things, then let’s buy each other a beer and we’ll have a good talk. If we try to do it via the internet, I am pretty sure it won’t go well.

Now…. who’s ready for SOME FOOTBALL! (Duh.. duh… duh DUNNNNNNN!”

Football Is Not For Everybody

On December 4, 2016, the Washington Redskins were defeated the Arizona Cardinals 31-23 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ.

The Su’a Cravens news was a real kick to the nuts to Redskins fans this weekend. On the one hand, I have absolutely zero problem with a young man, just 22, deciding that this body-demolishing blood sport we love so much, just isn’t worth the millions. God bless, go in peace. But at the same time, I am piecing together some troubling maturity issues that are not unique to Cravens, but rather a sign of the times.

And forgive me if this sounds a little like “Old Man Yells: These Damn Kids Today!” because it really isn’t. I’m more sad for Cravens. He seems to be a millennial prototype of a digital world that is stunting growth and personal responsibility. Cravens was granted a highly unusual, non-injury-related, “Left Team/Exempt List” status when he abruptly went into Bruce Allen’s office and tried to “retire” on Sunday. That gives him a solid 4 weeks to “sort some things out” as it was described by sources.

Okay, I’m fine so far.

But then what’s the next thing I see? Cravens on Snapchat, talking about how he doesn’t feel he needs to “explain himself” and that he just wants to do “what makes him happy.” To me, this is the modern curse of the millennial: in constant need of attention, and completely unaware of the concept of accountability to others. Said Cravens: “You can hate me, you can love me, but there will be no grey area or in-between. I don’t prefer it any other way.”

That’s what social media does: it makes you OBSESS about what people THINK about YOU. I know this. I feel it all the time while using stupid-ass Twitter. It’s evil. I hate it. I wish my job didn’t keep score via social media the way it now does. I’d leave in a second. It’s fundamentally UN-healthy to be buffeted by the highs and lows of the opinions of some Chewbaca avatar named “Chewdog99” with 37 followers.

At the very least, Cravens should have told the Redskins BEFORE cutdown day, not after. Furthermore, not everything in life, makes us “happy.” As Al Swearengen once famously said: “That’s what life is, one vile fucking task after another.” Cravens has(d) a promising career ahead of him. He was switched to safety this season (a move he requested), and despite one concussion last year, a knee injury, and a biceps injury, it’s not like he had been carted off the field in an immobilizer. There’s a little bit of hey “let’s just gut it out” that goes into playing this sport.

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic caught an amazing exchange between Cravens and the Skins LB alpha-dog Will Compton this summer in training camp. In light of what we know now, it’s rather ominous.

Some are also reporting that he has been “homesick” for his family in Southern California, adding to his 2nd year angst with the team. Okay, fine. Maybe he’s a quiet homebody, I think. But wait… no.. not exactly. Here’s the same Su’a Cravens bitching about a local car dealership on Twitter, over a vehicle dispute. And it was a team sponsor! Again, not even a social misdemeanor, but it reveals a certain immaturity. Didn’t he first think: “Hey, maybe I should talk to the team’s PR director about this… first?” At his 2nd round salary, he could buy a full price BMW from any dealer in town, and be treated like royalty I would assume.

I went to school in Santa Barbara, and oh boy did I get homesick bad around the holidays. But it never made me want to drop out of school. I still enjoyed it too much, had things I wanted to accomplish, and in the end it made going home even sweeter. I guess I just have a hard time with hearing “homesick” from athletes these days, when we have service members sitting in a donkey infested stone-age dustbowl dodging RPG’s for 2, 3 years at a time.

But I’m not mad and will never be mad at this young man no matter what he chooses. This sport, is surely not for everybody. He owes nobody anything. Not even an explanation. (Well, he might owe the Redskins some signing bonus money, but that’s for the accountants if and when the time comes). But for a guy who has been given 4 precious weeks of a newborn NFL season to “figure things out” I know one goddamn place that is NOT going to help. At all.

And that’s social media. And yet, that’s the only world millennials seem to live in now. It’s a damn shame.

 

 

Top 5: Browns Idiots, Long Games, Fall, Tech-Lust, This League…

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Cornerback Jordan Poyer #33 and cornerback Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns celebrate after a fumble recovery during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns are idiots. They have new idiots in charge, but idiots, they remain. So let’s just get this straight. They offered CB Joe Haden a reduced salary of $7M per year, instead of the $11M he was owed, and he turned it down. So they cut him. The Browns can now throw that $4 million in savings on top of the nearly $54 million they have already UNDER the salary cap. What are they going to do with that $4M? What have they proven? What’s the plan? And has somebody reminded these geniuses that they are blowing $16M this year on a QB they aren’t going to start, and surely hope never gets to play? Oh, right. They got a precious 2nd round pick to take on Brock Osweiller’s absurd contract. Ain’t no fucking way a 2nd round pick is worth $16M bucks, but whatever. So these moneyball geniuses Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, what is their plan? Stockpile draft picks? Okay, good. I’m down with that. But pile up a ton of money? Why? To spend on who? And when? Haden may be a reduced and oft-injured version of his previous Pro-Bowl self. But he doesn’t suck. Wouldn’t it be nice if fans could compel NFL front-office people to answer fans questions under oath. I’d love to hear their “logic” on this one.

Most great movies are under 3 hours long. For those that dare probe beyond three hours, they better be damn good: like Deer Hunter, or Titanic. And yet college football games are now routinely running 4 hours. FOUR. Maybe a white-hot SEC blockbuster can keep your ass on the edge of the couch that long, but most games surely can’t. Thursday’s opener between Indiana and Ohio State ran 2 hours in the first half, plus 20 minutes at halftime for the bands, and who knows when it ended, because I’m going to bed. The constant throwing in today’s modern game, and the silly clock-stopping rules, and maybe just maybe we go to a crisp 12 minute half-time like the pros. Oh, and you might want to start the game before 8 p.m. in the east.

I’ve bitched a lot about the weather this year in the mid-Atlantic region. I’m good at bitching. I know. But there is surely something about the transitional months, which make my heart sing. Tonite, for example, I was picking up my daughter at field hockey practice. The temp was a comfortable 68 degrees, with a still wispy cloud cover over a setting  sun. The angles of the light are different now, and even if you don’t know it, you feel it. It’s glorious. There’s no way to describe it unless you live it in a part of the country which changes through all four seasons. Fall, is coming. Football is here. The holidays and family lie in the distant horizon. It’s hard not to be happy. Oh sure, I know. The memories of the blazing, oppressive July heat should still be fresh in my mind. The dread of the bone cold bleak February days, with ice storms, sleet, and slush will rush in quickly once the Christmas tree is out by the curb. I’ll return to bitching then. And dreaming of Arizona. For now, however, this is the best time of the year. Period. End of story.

I was all ready to buy a new drone, but then DJI came out with a new Mavic (Platinum) and Phantom 4 “Obsidian.” Yes, they are better. Yes, I want them. No, I can’t help myself. I also want a full-frame Sony A7 camera. I already have the APS-C sized A6300. It is amazing. Take stunning photos, has 4K recording and 120 FPS slo-mo at full 1080p. But as a budding photog, I just feel like you really aren’t shit if you don’t shoot full frame. You can get the original A7 with a decent kit-lens for $1100. But with the sensational A7RII and A7SII bodies, who the hell wants “ancient” 4 year old tech? Let’s hope I go to bed, and just forget about all of this tomorrow.
The NFL has hooked into a Cat-5 shitstorm with the revelation that the league ignored the recommendation of their lead investigator in the Zeke Elliott case of “no suspension.” Plus, the league’s DV honcho Lisa Friel, specifically BARRED the same lead investigator from meeting with Goodell regarding the case. Friel, oh by the way, is a rabid Giants fan who has a “shrine” to her  Big Blue favorites at home, and boasts of her family’s 60 years of being season ticket holders. The Cowboys are due to open against… the Giants. This. Fucking. League.

Matt Stafford Just Got Paid, And Deservedly So

With Matt Stafford’s new contract extension in Detroit, the price of starting QB’s remains on a linear glide path into the stratosphere. They aren’t getting cheaper. And Bruce Allen’s “fair offer” to Kirk Cousins back in July, looks even smaller and more pathetic by the minute.

Stafford’s new deal has $92 million in guarantees (a new record) and nearly $50 million at signing. While if true, it does mean Allen’s boast that Kirk’s $52 million at signing would have been a record, but that’s all that was essentially guaranteed (the $72M “for injury” part is pure bullsmoke).

There’s a lot to like about Stafford. He’s a big unit missile launcher, and a baller who love to make throws with that cannon arm. He also will play in near excruciating pain.

But I don’t think he’s the intuitive pocket magician that fellow big unit QB Ben Rothlisberger is, and his career 61% completion percentage is low for an “elite” guy.

And then of course, there are the low-hanging Twitter apples you can throw at Stafford like this. “That much money for a guy who HAS FEWER PLAYOFF WINS THAN THE RIGHT FIELDER FOR THE ST. LUCIE METS!

Zing. Got him.

Or the fact that Stafford has only 1 win in his CAREER on the road against a winning team. (Internet stat, I haven’t verified it. Could be as fake as the shark swimming on the Houston highway photo). He’s 51-58 career, and 0-3 in the playoffs. And of course, he’s had to carry the burden of The Curse of Bobby Layne and the Curse of Jim Caldwell.

But still, I doubt any Lions fan is yearning to head out on a search for the “next” good QB, while suffering the incompetent endzone ramblings of the next Dan Orlovsky. Stafford’s expensive, because QB’s are the price of doing business in the NFL.

He plays. He starts. He’s good. Pay him. It’s not much more complicated than that.

With Kirk, the problem is that he doesn’t have a superpower. He’s not a ninja like Rodgers, a supercomputer like Brady, doesn’t have the cobra-quick release of Drew Brees, or the lumbering brilliance of Big Ben.

He’s just GOOD, and that should be GOOD ENOUGH because the option is Nate Sudfeld and reaching for a top-15 QB in next May’s draft. In otherwords, QB hell. The Redskins have been consistently behind the curve on getting Kirk under wraps for the foreseeable future (say 4 years) and with every deal like this, they are even more hopelessly behind.

At this point, the only way for everybody to save face – the Redskins, Kirk, Bruce – is for this team to win 11 games one way or another. 10 plus a playoff game. Or 11 outright. That should do it. Nobody gonna walk away from an 11-win NFL party. But anything short of that, and I think it all unravels next winter amid finger pointing and second guessing. Kirk will be a Niner, or a Jet, or a Bill, or a Ram, or a Cardinal, or a Brown, or a Bronco, or a Texan, or a Jaguar, or a Viking. He might not score as much money as he was shooting for with the Redskins, but I don’t think he’ll care.

His new team will be thrilled to have him. And Kirk will finally feel wanted.

VONTAZE BURFICT SUSPENSION
I’m troubled by this one, I’ll be honest. On the one hand, Burfict is stone cold football thug, who not only has no regard for the health or brain safety of his fellow players, but is also a liability to his team when it comes winning games. He singlehandedly threw away the Bengals win over the Steelers in the 2016 playoffs. That said, when you take what looked to be a legal hit, and convert into a massive 5-game suspension, you open a pandora’s box of problems in the future. How many “priors” do you need to have as a player, for the league to convert a technically legal hit that looked nasty, into a significant suspension? For a league that makes rules on top of rules, they also find ways to ignore those rules when it suits their agenda. At this point, the NFL should just say: “If we don’t like a hit you deliver, we might suspend you.” At least that, would be honest.

JOEL OSTEEN AND HIS ARK
The term “fake news” is too often thrown around, and used without context or explanation. Sometimes “fake” news is really “non” news or just incomplete news, or even beside-the-point news. Or it’s just social media gun-jumping that gets accepted as fact. Turns out that Osteen’s church really IS flooded (like the rest of Houston) and that they plan to assist in recovery and shelter efforts as soon as is reasonably possible. So yeah, so much for that Joel Osteen is the Devil narrative that seemed like such a hot-take about 5 minutes ago.

STAT OF THE DAY
The Detroit Lions last had a 100 yard rusher in a game, in Week 13 of 2013. It was Reggie Bush.

TOP THREE TUESDAY

Top 3 Things I Can Smell From Long Distance
3 Burning cigarette
2 Lettuce on my taco
1 Mustard

Top 3 Guys I’d Like to Drink Beers With From Deadliest Catch
3 Andy Hillstrand
2 Wild Bill
1 Freddie Mogatai

Top 3 Things Simple Things That Would Make the World A Way Better Place
3 The internet would close for 6 hours a day
2 More people would let other motorists cut in/make left turns
1 Free Parking

Top 3 Patriot Myths About Their Success
3 They never make personnel mistakes
2 Brady has never had any weapons
1 They cheat (Good because they are good.. they cheat because they are ruthless a-holes)

Top 3 Redskins One-Year Redskins Wonders
3 Daryl Gardner (15 games 4 sacks from DT pos)
2 Timmy Smith
1 Mark Rypien

Top 3 Mike Rizzo Moves
3 Drafting Anthony Rendon 6th overall out of Rice
2 Acquiring and Extending Gio Gonzales
1 Joe Ross and Trea Turner for Stephen Sousa Jr. and low level arm

Top 3 Everyday Things You Should Never Skimp On
3 – Quality desk chair
2 – Mattress
1 – Air conditioning

Today’s 5 Things: Mayweather v. McGregor

Before I get to my “5 Things” today, I had to weigh in on the devastation in Houston. Geezuz god almighty. The worst. THE WORST. Of all of the natural disasters, flooding takes the cake. Because unlike fires, and tornados and such, peoples houses are left mostly intact, only they are completely fucked and will never be the same due to water damage.

A fire comes and burns your house down. Okay, bad. But they come in with bulldozer, haul away the wreckage, and build you a spanking new home on top, hopefully with every bit of it paid for by insurance. Flooding? Oh, you’re fucked. I just had a TEENSY tinsy flood in my basement – burst water pipe, about 1/2 of water on concrete utility room, that seeped through and affected 3 other finished areas.

Lemme tell ya… it was as PAIN IN THE ASS to get fixed. First had to get a water removal company with a billion fans running for like 4 days. Then rip out drywall and baseboard and carpet padding. Then I had to get the insurance company to come out and write up an estimate. Then I had to have two different parties come out to fix it all. All the while, moving a bunch of crap on shelves and in boxes all over.

I can’t even imagine the hell of Houstonians with a flood like this. The stink. The mold. The rot. Hell… the FISH in the living rooms! And worst of all… what is a decent time frame to expect somebody to be able to fix your house? A month? A year? Never? Is there enough new drywall and carpeting in the world to fix all of this? Ooof. Godspeed Houston. This is awful.

Now… onto sports.

MAYWEATHER BEATS MCGREGOR
I wanted to pummel Mayweather at -400 for 2K but chickened out at the last minute. It just seemed too fishy for various reasons. But in the end, it was what we thought it would be: a dominant Hall of Fame boxer, giving a professional boxing clinic to an amatuer. Not that McGregor embarrassed himself. He didn’t. But let’s not kid ourselves, he was nowhere close to actually WINNING the fight. And to quote Herm Edwards: “Hello…. you fight… to win the fight!” The fight was interesting, and for the $20 a paid as part of a posse to watch the fight together, I didn’t feel cheated. Hell, it was far more interesting than the Pacquiao fight. I just don’t like how after the fight it was all mutual respect and shit. Nah, keeping talking smack afterward, like they did before the fight. Once you are in the gutter, don’t try to put on a tuxedo after you’ve taken our money.

REDSKINS DRESS REHEARSAL GAME

There will be plenty of panic among Skins fans after their distinctly “meh” outing vs. the Bengals. Kirk does not remotely look like he’s worth even half of his $24M salary (much less even more in a long term deal) the defense looks no better than last year’s wet cardboard version, and the perennially injured Josh Doctson is looking more and more like a guy you would be crazy to think can help fill the shoes of either Garcon or Jackson this year – or ever. Rob Kelly appears to be the “good enough” starter at RB, but not anybody who will scare opposing defenses. I will say that I’m not worried, but don’t mistake that for me saying I think the team is “fine.” I just don’t know. The NFL’s pre-season is a meaningless kaleidescope that is quickly and resoundingly forgotten once real bullets start flying. Plus, the NFL is an “episodic” league in which every Sunday comes individually wrapped. Doomsday follows every loss, and sunshine and lollipops ever win. It’s quite possible the Skins open with a crappy 1st half in Week 1 vs. the Eagles, are trailing 13-3, then rally to squeak out a 20-19 win. Onto Los Angeles in Week 2, and if they beat the Rams and Jared Goff they fly home 2-0 and there’s not enough duffel bags to fit everybody’s happiness and optimism about the season. And yet… they might have only played so-so football to win those two “episodes.”

PRESEASON INJURIES
Not that the Patriots themselves were talking like this, but everybody else was: “They could go 16-0 this year!” Well, karma is a bitch, and with Julian Edelman’s season-ending ACL tear, I’m gonna say 16-0 (a longshot in reality, anyway) is now out the window. Doesn’t mean 14-2 isn’t still doable for the Terminator-like Pats (and their “Division of the Dead”) but Edelman is a massive loss. Worse than Gronk, IMO. So here’s what I keep coming back to. NOBODY knows exactly how much pre-season “live fire” football is the right amount. Even the coaches don’t know. I am sure they have their theories and superstitions, but nobody knows. The “theory” of why to play in August is obvious. Timing, reps, adjusting to new players, etc. etc. But isn’t that also handled in practice, where injuries are far less of a risk? When is the first NFL team going to actually TRY sitting everyone of their 1st stringers for ALL of August? Maybe they would look super fresh, and totally in rhythm come Week 1 anyway. My point is: nobody has even tried it. If just one team did that, and if it appeared to be a brilliant move that worked out, then the copycats would come flooding in. The NFL pre-season would quickly become a starter “no-go” zone leaguewide.

GAME OF THRONES
I’ve been bitching about how bad this season has been for a while – like many Thrones nerds have – but the season finale was an ass-kicking-tour-de-force from start to finish. So many incredible scenes, and action on multiple fronts. The Stark girls getting their shit together and comparing notes for once on who is really causing all the problems, not only made sense from a “don’t these otherwise smart characters have brains?” standpoint, but it led to the great “swerve” that ended in Aria’s cold-blooded execution of Mr. Gravelvoice. Oh, chaos is a ladder? Chaos is you bleeding out from an 8 inch slash to your throat! Boom! The un-boxing of the wight in front of Cersei was incredible. I’ve never seen heavy CGI applied with such realism. To show a dismembered half-dead zombie in broad daylight, and not relying on quick-cut edits, mingling with real human actors was nothing short of jaw dropping. Then we had the Cersei double-cross on brother-lover Jamie. Maybe it’s me, but I find Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to be the best actor on that show. When he had to remind Cersei of how shortsighted her strategy was, it just rang true to me. I don’t know what it is. He was both incredulous at how stupid that idea is as a long term play, and pissed that this woman who has never been in battle brushes off things like Dragon Air Superiority as meaningless. I’m a fan. Plus, the first snowflake falling outside Kings Landing on his leather glove? Perfect. Why he needs a glove for a gold hand? I have no idea. Just go with it. Dany and Jon Snow banging below decks? Bout damn time. The ladies who watch the show even got thrown a bone with a little Kit Harrington booty. Top rate stuff. Now… we wait. A full year. Crap!

POTOMAC CUP
We had a perfect weekend in the return of my Ryder-Cup-style amatuer event between Maryland and Virginia this past weekend at Potomac Shores GC. I can’t say enough thank you’s to all involved, but let me hit the high notes. Thank you to the players. This event is only as good, as the men who decide to play in it. We had at least 5 former college golfers in the event, 3 guys who had played in the US Amatuer, and a bunch of club champions. And then there were a good number of guys who were just grinding lunch-pail single digit handicaps with jobs and families. Nobody looked down on anybody. Everybody played hard and laughed with each other even harder. Thanks to the golf course and head pro Todd Van Meer. We were treated like honored guests. The Jack Nicklaus layout is an incredible rollercoaster of spectacular hole after spectacular hole. It’ll get even better when they replace the fairways with bermuda to better withstand our withering summer heat. And thanks to Ron Thomas my brother-from-another-mother and Maryland captain. Dude is the best. Classy. A leader of men. Helluva golfer. He’s the only guy I know who can watch me drain a 15 footer for par on 18 to eeek out a “halve” against him in our singles “Captain’s match” and be genuinely happy. I mean, really, really happy for me. He’s a scratch who’s injured but won’t talk about it. I’m a 7. I shot 81 and careered it. Thanks to Mike Caruso who was the silent “sales rep” who helped broker the meeting with the finals site. Thanks to ESPN980 PD Chris Johnson who supported the event at every step. Looking forward to the event getter bigger, fancier, better in 2018! And… someday, let’s hope, a Virginia win. Maryland 19.5 Virginia 16.5. We’ll get ’em next year.

 

 

Zeke Stuffed For A Loss of Six

At this point, I raise a practical question not unlike Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, when he timidly wondered whether or not they were playing Stonehenge that night.

Is the NFL’s domestic violence policy… uh… “working?”

I mean, I’m just asking if there’s any kind of metric on success here? Is it player games suspended per incident? Are we looking for less actual domestic violence, or just more players suspended for it Because the league has now lowered the burden of proof to somewhere just above: “Did she Instagram it?”

The Zeke Elliot case is a confusing mess. He’s a dimwitted diva who, clearly, doesn’t get it. And she’s someone who lets a soon-to-be NFL star pay her rent and co-sign for a car. Oh, and she also allegedly tried to coerce her friend to lie to the police about one of the incidents, but hey, the league said they had “no reason” not to believe her.

Zeke probably did it, or at least did some of it. But I’m still sorta stuck on this notion that without pretty solid proof, the league should swallow hard and take a pass on these kinds of cases.

And while I’m delighted that Jerrah’s ginger lap-poodle, the man he supported so robustly during Deflategate, has come home to shit on the new carpet with this one, it angers me to no end that the next team/player/fanbase Goodell decides to fuck over just to earn some “attaboys” at his next cocktail party, is just around the corner.

All I know is this: nobody who watches and consumes NFL football was beating the drum for last year’s most electrifying rookie to get suspended for almost half the season. Nobody. So who is the league trying to please? The nearly 40% of the fanbase who are women, I presume. But do they have any hard evidence that women as a demographic tuned out when Ray Rice was not suspended long enough for knocking out his wife, but then came flooding back when was effectively banished for life?

As they say, where’s the data? And do they know how many women who root for the Cowboys are even more pissed than Jerrah about this one? Let’s say you claw back an additional 4% of women fans because you are now cracking down on domestic violence, but you lose 8% of your men because your “investigations” are like Monty Python witch trials. Are you still “winning?”

Oh right. Never mind. This is not about the dollars for the NFL. No, it’s a moral issue. The pressing issue of our time. And it’s been that way ever since… hmm.. ever since.. OH YEAH… ever since Goodell was made to look like a doofus in the wake of the Ray Rice affair. Got it.

Last year, the NFL saw an otherwise un-explained 9% decline in TV ratings across all prime time offerings. Numerous polling entities with established credentials, cited the Colin Kaepernick-led anthem protests as the primary culprit.

And yet the league still doesn’t believe that! It was the election! Bad matchups! Blowouts! So now they are convinced that murky he-said/she-said’s like this incident involving Zeke Elliott and his girlfriend of 3 months are a threat to the Shield and it’s empire?

If this is all it takes to get a player suspended, then every team should enlist a shadow army of instagram models to act like heat seeking missiles at star players on rival teams in their division.

Trust me, there would be no shortage of them lining up for the mission.

This was one such “Instagram Model” who couldn’t resist snapchatting her star sexual conquest when she bedded Zeke allegedly behind Mrs. Thompson’s back. If indeed Zeke was physically violent with Thompson in the aftermath, you can imagine the conversation that started it.

Of course this doesn’t exonerate Zeke laying a finger on her, but at least now we’re honest about who and what we are talking about. These are two highly immature millennials: him: fueled by fame, ego and testosterone and her: hoping for a slice of that fame and status no matter how steep the price. That the NFL is now in the business of trying to sort out these matters – sometimes over a year after the fact – is madness, if you ask me.

Any NFL girlfriend now with a bruise and a grudge is in one helluva a strong negotiating position on her man.

Even the simple in this case becomes muddled if you read the police reports and try to match them up with the press release. The Columbus, Ohio prosecutor’s office said they didn’t go any further because of “conflicting and inconsistent information across all incidents, resulting in concern regarding the sufficiency of the evidence to support the filing of criminal charges.”

But the NFL said, that the prosecutor’s office told THEM (the NFL), “we never had reason not to believe her.” Well…. which one is it? And can we get the Columbus DA on the phone and get him/her on the record.

At the very least, the league should realize how much they have now incentivized lying for women in rocky relationships with NFL players. There’s now a huge financial incentive to threaten a player with lies about abuse to keep a player paying that rent, or to buy you a car. And if they refuse, there’s a vindictive incentive for them to then turn around and lie to the NFL and burn down 1/3rd of a player’s annual paycheck.

Back when Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes burned down Andre Rison’s mansion, would Rison have been hailed as a “victim and survivor” of domestic abuse, or given a 6-game suspension under the presumption that “he must have started it?”

If Jay-Z were a linebacker for the Giants, would Goodell hire Exponent to analyze whether his grabbing of Beyonce’s sister’s leg constituted a purely defensive move in that elevator, or rather the opening move in a MMA-style takedown?

So many questions…..

Elliott and his camp said the woman got into a bar fight at 2 a.m. around the time of the alleged abuse, and surmised her bruises and scrapes could have come from that. If true, are there witnesses? Is there security camera footage?

Either way, the NFL said we’re not buying it – sorta like they didn’t buy the ideal gas law either – and do you have any other theories as to how she got those injuries?

At this point, if you are Zeke Elliot, in the middle of a nasty breakup with a girlfriend of only 3 months, to whom you have co-signed for a vehicle, and paid her rent, what are you supposed to tell the NFL? What story, exactly, would make the NFL say: “Hmmm…. we never thought about that. Case closed!”

Even though Elliott will appeal, and even though his lawyer said compelling evidence will be presented that shows there was no such abuse, there’s only so far Elliott would be advised to press this matter even were he truly innocent of all accusations.

She’s got a story to tell, plenty of sympathetic media outlets waiting to hear it, and ugly photos to back it up. Unless Elliott has video of somebody ELSE doing this to her, or perhaps a copy of a powerpoint presentation laying out the “set up” there’s nothing more to be gained. He’s got thousands of NFL yards in front of him to chew up, touchdowns to score, jerseys to sell, and Salvation Army kettles to jump into. Now, if he can just keep his hands to himself on parade floats.

In the meantime, I go back to my original question: “We’re doin’ good on this stuff, right Roger!? Tell me we’re doin’ good!”

And while you are at it, tell me what round to draft Zeke in my fantasy league? If you could, that would be a huge help.

In Short, You Look Silly

In 1964, Ken Venturi defied doctors orders and slugged his way through 36 brutal holes on a Saturday at Congressional Country Club to win his lone major, the US Open.

He was wearing pants.

Now look, I’m not anti-progress, or common sense. The fact that the US Open once had players grind through 2 rounds on Saturday to keep the Lord’s day free and clear, is not something I would advocate to make a return (sorry, God.)

But every now and then, lines in sports… must be drawn.

I’m drawing my line, at the knees.

The PGA of America’s decision to allow players to wear shorts during practice rounds is a mistake. Plain and simple. Anybody who loves golf, should be able to look at these pictures of Tour stars with their pale walking sticks on full display, and admit it.

Stupid. Save that for home, at the club, fellas. You are on STAGE – at a major, no less! – and the fans don’t want to see you looking like the “A” flight at a member-guest. It’s akin to the letdown when you see Scarlet Johanssen caught by the paparazzi in her Sunday sweats, dashing out of a Starbucks without makeup and her hair all-a-mess.

Boo! I don’t need that visual. And I don’t care to hear that it shows how ScarJo is “just like you and me.” She’s not! She’s a goddess of the big screen!

As a golf nerd, Tour pros are that way to me too. When they are playing a Tour event, I want them in proper battle gear, even on a Tuesday. I remember going to the Kemper Open as a kid in the early 80’s, and just marvelling at how crisply pressed Lanny Wadkins looked. You could cut yourself on that crease in his pants!

Today’s fabrics are light-years ahead of the heavy linen drapes that I am sure Venturi had to lug around in 1964. Thanks to the fitness of modern players, and better synthetic fabric underwear, the documented cases of swamp-ass on Tour have been reduced to nearly zero.

Plus, you know goddamn well… if any of their half-dozen-fucking-corporate-logos were stitched below the knees, these guys would wear pants through Dante’s fifth circle of hell.

Hell, it was 78 and raining on Tuesday in Charlotte. These babies wore shorts for one reason: take ground whenever it’s available. And they’ll be coming for more. Trust me. The next move will be for Tour players to lobby to wear shorts at any time they like: including competition rounds.

And if they could get away with it, they’d ask to ride carts.

The “what’s the harm” crowd will say: “So what? Shorts don’t affect play. What do you care?”

Fine. If your next airline pilot rolls into the cockpit with sneakers and a Tommy Bahama shirt, you okay with that? If your doctor explains your test results in his office, wearing a Florida State sweatshirt, that cool?

Uniforms in sports, and life, almost NEVER affect the functionality of the job or sport at hand. That’s not their point! Uniforms are about conveying an image of professionalism, and presentation that signifies you are in the big-leagues.

The waiters at a fine steakhouse, don’t ditch the crisp white shirts for a t-shirt just because “it’s only the lunch shift.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sit in my lawn chair and yell at passing traffic.

Aug 8, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Phil Mickelson tees off on the third hole during a practice round for the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Smokin’ Jay, Rides Again

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 13: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is hit by Cameron Wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Somebody asked me Sunday night on Twitter what I thought of the Jay Cutler signing by the Dolphins.

“Duct tape move, with likely duct tape results” was my answer.

And yet, the Dolphins still made it, still paid Cutler at least $5 million more than his proper salary for a (semi)retired 34 year old coming off a shoulder injury, and still think he’s a better answer than Matt Moore.

Why do teams do this?

The usual twin motivators of all of us humans: hope and fear.

Rationality was told to shut up, and sit down.

The “hope” is that Cutler reignites the mojo with former OC Adam Gase – under whom Cutler had his best season in Chicago – and rides a team with some talent back to the playoffs, and perhaps even one game further. The “fear” is that without Cutler, the season is viewed as being dead on arrival. And the price of just having a seat at the table anymore in the NFL is a “starting caliber” QB. (Your interpretation of that animal, may vary).

So let’s play this out. Once Cutler “saves” this season, he would seamlessly hand the team back to a fully repaired Ryan Tannehill? Would he get a new short-term contract as starter? Would he accept being a backup to Tannehill in 2018? Bah! Why are you asking these dumb questions! We’ll figure it out later! The season is coming! The season is coming!

See, that’s where even the best case scenarios on “Cutler the Dolphin Savior” fall apart. But in today’s NFL, next year not only doesn’t matter, it practically doesn’t exist! Only the season staring a team in the face matters anymore. There is an urgent irrationality to the league that didn’t exist back in the 1970’s or 80’s.


As a kid, I remember certain teams would enter any given season pretty much knowing they would suck. And while they weren’t happy about it, they were at least stoically resigned to their fate. You could also scrape by with a journeyman QB, given that running was a far bigger percentage of offensive plays than it is now.

Ironically, Kurt Warner was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Sunday. We know his story. Sure, it was likely too late back in 1999 for the Rams to make a desperate trade or out-of-the-booth-signing (Trent Green went down in the 3rd pre-season game after his 22nd throw!)

But everybody remembers Dick Vermeil saying through his choked up tears: “We’ll rally around Kurt Warner… and we’ll play… good football.”

A blizzard of touchdowns later, ending in a Lombardi trophy shower of confetti, and it remains one of the greatest NFL stories ever told. If the irrational urgency of today’s league applied, the Rams would have rushed to sign somebody like Warren Moon, who had started 10 games as a 42 year old in 1998 for the Seattle Seahawks.

Or, the Rams could have done almost exactly what the Dolphins just did: sign a 34 year old former Chicago Bear, who had played an incomplete season the year before. Today, that guy’s name is Jay Cutler. Back then, it would have been Erik Kramer coming off a 3-5 record, with a “meh” 60% completions and 9 TDs over 7 INTs.

Instead, Vermeil and the Rams found their upper lip and bit into it hard. We’ve got a guy. He doesn’t suck. And we’ll figure it out.

Nobody does that anymore. The Vikings didn’t last year when Teddy Bridgewater went down. Sam Bradford didn’t save the season. And he probably won’t this year, either.

Don’t hold your breath hoping Cutler will either, down in Miami.

 

Potomac Cup Qualifier Results

We have our men.

A heartfelt thank you to everybody who came out to the 2017 Qualifier at University of Maryland GC yesterday. It was great to get this event back off the ground after a 6-year hiatus.

I received many heartfelt thanks from the players for organizing the event. And I accept those humbly. However, it is the players who make the event, not the other way around.

We have some very, very, good golfers in the Finals this year. These guys play a LOT of tournament golf. They choose which events to play, and which ones to skip.

This, was essentially a “new” event for 80% of the guys who showed up. They didn’t know if it would suck, be a joke, take 6 hours, or what. These guys work for a living, and their time is valuable.

But they showed up, and played good golf on a good golf course. I can’t ask for anything more than that.

A big word of thanks as well, to my golf show partners who helped encourage me to bring the event back, and help pull it off.

Ron Thomas, who is the most well known, and well liked amatuer player in the state of Maryland. Ron’s tireless evangelism about the Potomac Cup to players he sees at section events, is simply priceless. He’s also a fine player, and a thoughtful captain.

Jon Guhl, who is the Middle Atlantic section’s PGA executive director, works a million events all over the place. He took time out to do this event, full uniform and slow-play badge!, for no pay other than a few cokes and a bag of chips. Jon’s presence, gives the Potomac Cup a level of legitimacy that cannot be purchased at any price.

And my guy John Ronis, Director of Instruction at Woodmont CC and “teacher to the stars” who teamed with me for a not-at-all-terrible 1-under par 70. John carried me through the first 7 holes, and made many clutch putts to save par. He then “took a golf nap” for a few holes – as we all do – but remained focused enough to bang in some putts whenever needed!

Thanks to Jeff Maynor at UMDGC for having us! Thanks to Brian Patrick Dix their assistant. And thanks to Looper – Caddies on Demand, for providing fore-caddies for each group! What a pleasure it was to have a kid running around, picking up balls we aren’t playing in the format of captain’s choice, tending flags, cleaning balls, raking bunkers!

I’ve never played a scramble that moved so fast. We got around in 4:09 and several groups broke 4 hours flat! Amazing!

Please download the Looper “app” for your phone, and get to know about the service and spread the word. As of now, they are in the process of opening new markets, and adding courses. So if your city, or your favorite course doesn’t have Looper yet…. TELL YOUR PRO!

Now it’s on to the Finals at Potomac Shores GC in Woodbridge, VA in 3 weeks! It’ll be a helluva a fun layout for match-play, and very photogenic to boot!

Thanks to former radio sales colleague Mike Caruso who helped me land that site as our Finals venue, and thanks to Todd Van Meer their head pro, for seeing the value in hosting us and the event!

Best of all, I’ve got some real studs on Team Virginia this year! I’m looking forward to bringing the Cup back to the Commonwealth!

Potomac Cup Qualifier 2017

Losing Blinked First

What Jordan Spieth did on Sunday at Royal Birkdale is now the stuff, of instant legend. Move over Seve, with your “birdie from the car park” at the Open. Jordan’s bogey from the equipment trailers, will be talked about for years. This wasn’t just a case of getting out of jail from one bad swing. Spieth had been leaking oil all day long, and right from the start. Crooked drives. Chunked iron shots. Yanked putts. Anyone who has ever played golf knows the feeling of when “the wheels come off.” When that happens, it takes an incomprehensible level of focus and mental toughness to hold it together and not collapse. Only the rarest of elite players can do what Spieth did: stare down humiliation, then mount it, and ride to victory.

I will let you readers slot Spieth’s amazing comeback from the brink amongst my top-9 list of “Most Mentally Tough Victories in Championship Golf History.” Not every one of these moments involved a player recovering a car that was skidding over the cliff. But all of them required a sort of “dig down deep” and see what’s in there, kind of effort. Something tells, me, yesterday’s amazing finish is no lower than 4th.

1- 2008 – US Open – Torrey Pines – Tiger Woods playing with a torn ligament in his knee and a hairline fracture, beats Rocco Mediate in an 18 hole Monday playoff that still had to go to sudden death. Woods makes numerous incredible shots, despite buckling at times in pain, chipping in from off the green, and then ultimately curling in a birdie putt on 18 in regulation punctuated by Dan Hicks’ famous call: “Expect anything different?”

2 – 2016 – US Open – Oakmont – Dustin Johnson, already victim to one dodgy rules violation at a major, is informed he “may” have committed a penalty when his ball moves slightly while on the putting green on the front nine. Not even knowing what score he might need to win the golf tournament, Johnson calmly plays the final 6 holes as if nothing mattered. He dominates the brutish 18th hole with a massive drive and a 7-iron from 191 yards to 4 feet, making the birdie. He’s later assessed a penalty, but it doesn’t matter.

3 – 1999 – Ryder Cup – Brookline – Justin Leonard is getting buried by Jose Maria Olazabal in Sunday singles, as Johnny Miller cackles on TV that he should have stayed home in bed. Down four holes with just 7 to play, Leonard starts making bombs after Davis Love III arrives to cheer him on, culminating with the historic cross-country snake on #17 to clinch the Cup.

4a-b-c – Tiger Woods Wins U.S. Amateur: 1994, 1995, 1996
a -1994 at Sawgrass, he was down 5 to Trip Kuehne with 12 to play before mounting a furious rally. It culminated with hitting a wedge right of the pin on the narrow ledge on the 17th green. In a straw hat, shorts, and a broad-striped peach and white shirt, Tiger delivered a nuclear fist pump after draining the 15 footer for birdie from the fringe. The world now knows about Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.

b -1995 at Newport CC: Down 2 to Pennsylvania luxury car deal Buddy Marruci after 19 holes, Tiger closes him out on 18 with a knockdown 8-iron to a foot. That night, Earl Woods boasts to the media over champagne: “Before it’s all over, my son will win 14 Majors.” It’s maybe the most prophetic boast in sports history.

c- 1996 at Pumpkin Ridge: Woods falls down 5 through 9 holes in the final to 19 year old Florida Gator Steve Scott. Down 5 with 16 holes to play Woods mounts a furious rally to prevail on 2nd hole of sudden death. He turns pro immediately, dunks an ace at his first pro tournament in Milwaukee, then wins in Las Vegas before the year is out to secure his status on Tour.

5 – 1984 – US Open – Winged Foot – Fuzzy Zoeller watches Greg Norman drain a snake on the 18th green – presumably for birdie to clinch the Open. Zoeller, waiting in the fairway waves his white towel, in mock surrender. However, the putt was only for par, and after Zoeller makes a par of his own to force a playoff, he dusts Norman easily in a Monday playoff, shooting 67.

6 – 2015 – US Open – Chambers Bay – Jordan Spieth double-bogeys the par-3 17th hole with a 3-putt on the worst putting surfaces in major championship history. All week players had complained about the rock hard, lumpy, mostly-dead poa-annua greens, both privately, and in public. Spieth, however, figured out a way to play them, and bounced back with a birdie on 18 and then watched Dustin Johnson three-putt from 12 feet to hand him the trophy.

7 – 1986 – Masters – Jack Nicklaus – Considered washed up at 46, the Golden Bear moves into contention late on Sunday afternoon. With his son Jackie on the bag, Nicklaus is nearly overwhelmed with emotion as the galleries cheer him every step of the way. Realizing he could win, Nicklaus digs deep and hits the 4-iron of his career into #15 for eagle, a lazer-like 6-iron to 4 feet at 17 for birdie, and then makes the most iconic putt in modern golf history at #17.

8 – 2007 – British Open – Carnoustie – Padraig Harrington squanders a one-shot lead on the treacherous 18th hole by hitting not one, but two shots into the “Barry Burn”. He later admitted he wished at that moment the ground would “open up, and swallow him whole” he was so devastated. He manages to get up and down for a double bogey, however, and then watches Sergio Garcia make bogey to force a playoff. Harrington prevails in the 3 hole playoff.

9 – 2002 – PGA Championship – Rich Beem – A tour nobody makes an eagle on #11 and a 35 foot bomb for birdie on #16 to keep a charging Tiger Woods in his dominant prime. Woods would finish with 4-birdies-in-a-row, but it was not enough. Beem never flinched from the roars that were exploding just behind him. He would also, never win again on the PGA Tour.

Made Guys

Thirty years ago, I was 19 years old. I had a (mostly) full head of moppy brown hair, a 32 inch waist, and dreams.

Of what, I can’t really remember. It was, after all, 30 damn years ago.

That was the year these clowns began their morning show on WLZR FM-102.9 in Milwaukee, WI. Bob and Brian. This past weekend, I was flown up there from Washington D.C. to help throw them a surprise party at a local bar.

It was amazing. And if you are not one of my listeners/readers from Wisconsin, here’s a little 15 minute video of what their run at “Lazer/The Hog” has been all about.

Just about every person involved in their run at the station was there to hoist a glass. Except one poser PD who famously said that hosting a charity golf tournament was pointless because: “Our listeners don’t golf. They go to rock concerts, and get drunk.”

Boy, was he wrong. These guys have run the biggest single day golf outing in the state of Wisconsin for 25 years running now. Well, let me restate that. It started as a much smaller hard-scrabble affair at a local run down municipal course. NOW…. well… it’s a double-shotgun at the premiere resort in southeast Wisconsin, Grand Geneva Resort and Spa.

It sells out in a little over 25 minutes each year. It raises a shitload of money for kids with cancer. Boom. Winning. Fuck that PD. Moron.

I have been a part of this show for coming up on 23 years now. I was a young and hungry 26 year old working at One-on-One Sports in Northbrook, Illinois. A sales executive at our place – Greg Noack, who I had gotten to know through us both being avid golfers – knew the then GM of Lazer, one Tom Joerres. Their existing “sports guy” was Mark Patrick (his real name, “Storen” and yeah, his kid is the former Nats reliever, Drew) and he abruptly left Bob and Brian’s show to take a more lucrative offer from another station “across the street” in town.

It lasted about 8 months. Meanwhile, I got a tryout. And somehow, got the gig. And it’s been a helluva a 23 year ride for me.

But let’s get back to Bob and Brian. These guys are nothing short of amazing. How do you stay relevant, fresh, and likable for that many years? How do you not MURDER your co-host at some point, just being sick and tired of looking at them across the console?

More importantly, how do you not end up sideways with somebody in management along the way, and get shown the door?

As I told these guys at their party last weekend: “I’ve just been in the sidecar, throwing beer bottles and yelling at other motorists along the way.” When anybody says that my segment of the show is their favorite, I understand fully that it’s really just me getting to play a sports guitar solo in front of an amazing backing band.

Bob is the show’s muscle and the big laugh. It’s genuine. Never forced. He knows funny. He is funny, and he never tires of it. Brian is like the rational force that cannot be defeated. His brain works 3-moves faster than yours. He’s amazingly well read for anybody his age… much less… for a stupid FM dee-jay! I feel like they are my big brothers. Both about 10 years older than me.

What doing their show all these years has done for my ability and style as a sports talk show host, cannot be understated. I believe it helped mold me into a sports radio host who isn’t obsessed with suffocating the listener with angry arguments, or mind numbing stats all the time. I learned that it’s okay to be a little stupid. To sometimes not care. To remember that most “sports fans” really don’t follow all of this shit as closely as we think they do.

And they sure as hell don’t care about the “issues” that many in my biz want to climb onto a soapbox and rant about. They wasn’t to be entertained. Nothing more, nothing less.

Whenever I look for topics for Bob and Brian, I always try to figure out what is the most widely relatable sports stories of the day. They have a massive audience – not just #1 in all key demos, but almost DOUBLE that of the 2nd place show in town on any given ratings book – and it’s an audience full of women. Women who KNOW their sports!

You’ll never fully understand how sports obsessed the upper midwest is, until you spend a little time there. It’s amazing. And that has made my job with these guys, an easy lift most mornings – like playing in a band, really loud, and really fast.

The most common question I get from listeners, is whether or not we “plan” or “script” some of the things we do. The answer is no. Not because it’s in any way “cheating” or an admission of a lack of talent. Nah. It’s because we’d just fuck it up if we tried. In fact, the most common thing heard as we are chatting before the On Air light goes red, is the following phrase: “Hey, hey hey… Shut the hell up! WHY aren’t we talking about this on the air???”

At most, it’s a way to tap an oil vein of a topic, before quickly capping it off in case we can turn it into a gusher.

By now, after 23 years, we know each other’s “moves” and pet peeves so well, that it can be like a good 3-way wrestling match where we take turns body slamming each other, en route to a logical pinfall somewhere along the way.

I don’t know how much longer these clowns have in them, but I wouldn’t bet the “under” that’s for sure. And I plan to hold on to the seat of this sidecar until somebody throws me out of it. Boys, it has been, and continues to be, a helluva ride. I know I’m almost 50, but I still feel 26 in my head.

Here’s to 30 more.