NFL AND POLITICIANS THICK AS THIEVES

Don’t you just love those venerable, old stadiums and ball parks? Wrigley Field. Fenway Park. Dodger Stadium. Lambeau Field. The Rose Bowl. Edward Jones Dome.

In case that last one kind of caught you off guard, it’s the dump where the St. Louis Rams play.

The Rams want a new stadium and they, with the help of the NFL, are using a not so veiled threat to move to Los Angeles in order to get it.

The Edward Jones Dome opened in 1995. Yep, 19 years ago.

Remember when teams used to play in the same building for 50 or 60 years? That was when team owners paid for their own buildings.

As of 2012, 125 of the 140 teams in the NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer, were playing in stadiums built or refurbished since 1990. Most, if not all of them, were paid for mostly with tax payer dollars at a cost of more than $30 billion.

You’ve heard all the arguments about what a great idea it is for local and state governments to subsidize pro franchises.

They’re usually made by consultants paid for by team owners, or stupid and/or corrupt politicians. Economists who study the effect of the new stadiums after the fact tend to blow that theory out of the water.

Greg Mankiw, who’s chairman of the economics department at Harvard, did a survey of economists and 85% of them said that local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises.

What do you suppose the local “leaders” were telling the fine citizens of St. Louis in the early nineties when they were trying to sell them on the idea of spending a quarter of a billion dollars on a stadium for the team that was going to be re-locating from Los Angeles?

Georgia Fronteire, the owner of the Los Angeles Rams, was tired of sharing a stadium with the California Angels and decided to move when she found out that the local politicians weren’t dumb or corrupt enough to give her one of her own.

So, here we are 19 years later and the usual promises and threats are being made.

There will be even more economic benefits with the new stadium than they got from the old dome and the Rams are threatening to move again.

To L.A., of course.

They would like a new $700 million stadium and would like the local taxpayers to pay for it.

As usual, there is plenty of media cheerleading being done on the part of the local thieves…er, team. In his St. Louis Post-Dispatch column on Tuesday, Bryan Burwell showed lots of impatience with the team and local politicians for not coming up with a deal that would keep the Rams in St. Louis.

Nowhere in his column did he question whether giving the Rams one dime of other people’s money to replace a 19 year old stadium was a good idea.

Nothing new in St. Louis.
It has happened and will continue to happen in cities all over North America.
The Rams will get their new stadium.

The NFL will let everyone know that it is willing to pay for half the cost of a new stadium in Los Angeles. More teams will threaten to move there and one eventually will.
That will open up another jilted city for an expansion team.

Remember Cleveland?

The jilted fans will be easily convinced that a new stadium will bring jobs, improve the quality of life in their neighborhood and help them overcome the embarrassment of losing a team.

Owners will get richer and politicians will be re-elected.

They all should be arrested.

GO PRO, YOUNG MAN. GO PRO

The next thing Todd Gurley should sign is an FXFL contract.

In case you hadn’t heard, the FXFL is a new professional football league and it’s tailor-made for a guy like Gurley, who appears to have been a little anxious to start making money for running with a football.

Gurley is almost universally considered the best running back in the country. He’s 6’1”, 220 pounds and he’s averaging – are you ready?- 8.2 yards a carry in college football’s best conference, the SEC.

Apparently Todd was studying too hard last year to notice that Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M got in a lot of trouble with the NCAA for creating the suspicion that he was getting money for his autograph.

Manziel’s “suspension” was for only half a game because the NCAA couldn’t prove that he ever received direct payment for signings.

Georgia has suspended Gurley indefinitely until the investigation into his alleged violation is completed.

So, here we have a 20 year-old football player who’s averaging more than eight yards a carry and may not be able to carry the ball again this season because of a stupid violation of an even more stupid rule.

Seems like a perfect time to turn pro.

Unfortunately for Gurley, the NFL has a really stupid rule of its own that prevents guys like him from playing until they are a full three years beyond high school graduation.

In a sane world – one in which there is no pro football monopoly – Gurley would be able to say, “Whoops, I violated a stupid rule. I don’t want to play college football anymore. I’d prefer to be paid for playing and I think I’m just as ready now as I’m going to be next August.”

The NFL would have you believe that this stupid, un-American rule is in the best interest of college student-athletes. You would only believe that if you were as stupid as the rule.

But, watch how the media will focus on Gurley’s stupidity and even more on the stupidity of the rule he violated and watch how they will ignore the stupidity, not to mention the immorality of the NFL rule.

Here’s where the FXFL comes in.

At least this is where it should come in.

The league consists of four teams made up of players who have had tryouts with NFL teams in the last three years. ESPN3 has agreed to televise its games, which began last week.

Todd Gurley should be able to tell the NCAA and the University of Georgia to take a hike and he should call the FXFL and say he’s available to play next week.

The FXFL, of course, would benefit from the publicity and sell lots of tickets to Gurley’s first game.

This is unlikely to happen because the FXFL is in the process of kissing the NFL’s behind in hopes of developing a working agreement similar to Major League Baseball’s affiliation with minor league baseball.

It would be nice if Gurley could sue the NFL for the right to play based on anti-trust violations but a kid from Ohio State, Maurice Clarett, tried that in 2004. He won his case in court, but the decision was overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judge who rendered the decision was Sonia Sotomayor, who’s now on the Supreme Court and may or may not be an NFL season ticket holder.

Remember the outrage from the national sports media last year when Manziel was being persecuted for allegedly making a few bucks with his autograph?

Remember how the NCAA was ridiculed?

The NCAA has since agreed to tweak its rules to give more power to teams in the five big conferences, which could eventually lead to players being paid.

But the NFL’s ridiculous and stupid rule that prevents perfectly qualified players from playing in the only major pro football league in America will get no tweaking.

And watch the lapdog media give the NFL a pass and focus instead on the stupidity of a 20 year-old college kid.

FINDING RELIGION IN THE END ZONE

Scoring a touchdown in the NFL can be a religious experience.

There was quite a bit of justifiable outrage when Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was penalized for falling to his knees in prayer after returning an interception for a touchdown Monday night. The league issued an apology and said there should not be a flag for a “Player who goes to the ground as part of a religious expression.”

Sounds like a sensible approach.

Unless you want to get technical about religious expression.
Why couldn’t a player say that his end zone dance was a form of religious expression? Does the NFL have a list of acceptable religions, or could players make them up as they go along?

Ridiculous? Of course it is, but the official who threw the flag Monday night was going by the letter of the law.

This zero tolerance insanity is obviously a result of touchdown celebrations that had gotten out of hand for too long.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was penalized 15 yards for doing a belly flop after scoring a touchdown in the Steelers’ embarrassing, penalty-infested loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs Sunday.

His was one of many amazingly stupid penalties taken by the Steelers and, at his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Brown had scored enough NFL touchdowns that it should be routine for him.

And he said it would be nice if Brown just flipped the ball to the official.

Brown was asked about it on his local radio show and he said, “I just like to have fun. There’s a lot of work and energy that goes into scoring a touchdown.”

Brown, of course, needs to grow up. He’s obviously unaware that the No Fun League’s zero tolerance policy on touchdown celebrations is in place.

Another guy named Brown, first name Jim, has been trying to convince black players, who are almost expected to dance – an obvious example of the soft bigotry of low expectations if there ever was one – that they are feeding a negative stereotype with every performance.

Jim Brown is almost universally considered the best NFL player ever and despite playing only nine seasons, when the seasons were 12 and 14 games long, is 10th on the all time touchdown list.

So, he knows all about arriving in the end zone.
And he cringes when he sees current players “having fun” when they get there.

“(It’s) the buffoonery, The things we fought to get away: the stereotypical gestures. The rolling of the eyes, the dancing, and all the Walt Disney stereotypical racial disgraces.”

“You wonder how these individuals can be so stupid not to understand how the general public is looking at them…If you study history, you don’t want to emulate the things that were degrading and humiliating.”

“The humiliation was real. Now, guys are playing the yes-a-boss slave. That’s embarrassing to me. To think in this day and age, these young men would be out there shaking their butts and not knowing much of anything else. Not understanding the dignity of man and how to play a game and play it hard and let that speak for itself.”

I wonder how many current NFL players have ever heard Jim Brown speak on the subject.

For that matter, I wonder how many know who Jim Brown is.

The solution is simple. When you score a touchdown, spike the ball or , better yet, give it to the referee. Say your prayers on the sideline.

God and/or Allah will find you.

DEREK JETER AND JUST WATCHING THE GAME

In case you missed it, Derek Jeter is retiring.

You would have to have been in Yemen for the last six months to not be aware of the six-month retirement party that Major League Baseball threw for Jeter, who is finishing up his 20th year with the New York Yankees.

Why is there so much love for Jeter?

He’s a Yankee and for millions of people in North America, that is reason enough to hate him.
He had a great career but he’s not going to be any Top 25 Players of All Time lists.

Maybe he’s beloved by fans and the media because he’s a throwback. Twenty years in the number one media market in the world and the worst you can say about him is that he dated some really, really good looking women.

No ugly divorces.(He was never married.)
No sexual assaults.
No steroids.

He’s humble and polite, which sets him apart from way too many stars in too many sports. Remember Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks using his live, on-the-field Super Bowl post game interview to pound his chest, look into the camera and declare himself the best cornerback in the world?

That got him on Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

In 2014, over the top is the way to go.

I wrote a book called “Just Watch The Game” a good portion of which is dedicated to pointing out how, in sports today, the game seems to get lost in the surrounding hype and stupidity.

Most fans seem to have become fans of being fans.

Tailgaters show up at 6 a.m. for games that start at 1 p.m.

You’re no longer a Steelers fan or a Packers fan. You’re a member of Steelers or Packers “Nation.”

Grown men dress like boys, wearing the authentic game jersey of their heroes, who are often young enough to be their sons.

That, of course, leads to fights, in which grown men wearing opposing jerseys, beat themselves within an inch of their lives.

There was a lovely scene at last Sunday’s Cardinals-49ers game in Phoenix, when two guys wearing 49ers jerseys were set upon by decked out Cardinals fans. Maybe you’ve seen the video of them tumbling down the blood-stained, concrete stairs.

Jeter’s predecessors on the great Yankees teams of the ‘50s and ‘60s were hated by people in every city they visited. But fans back then seemed to have some perspective, not to mention a dash of maturity.

They were there, first and foremost, to just watch the game.

They came dressed as regular human beings and didn’t feel obligated to get liquored up for five hours before the first pitch and go looking for someone wearing a Yankees cap to beat up.
Of course, the farewell party for Jeter was over the top, but you can’t blame him for that. It’s just the world we live in.

That’s why the Pirates pack goggles to wear during the champagne spraying celebration for clinching a wild card spot.

Jeter’s a throwback to the time when a team had to, you know, win something before having a champagne party.

But why not break out the bubbly and cheapen every pennant- winning celebration that preceded you when the team can sell the bottles for $50?

That’s what the empty bottles will be selling for next week. And they will be authenticated by Major League Baseball.

If that’s a little too pricey for you, how about a cork for 15 bucks?

This is nothing new. Amazon has an empty champagne bottle left over from the Yankees’ 2010 ALDS celebration available for only $160. If you want the cork, you’re on your own.

But don’t let anybody tell you that fans are taking this stuff too seriously.

Just watch the game, indeed.

SPORTS ADMINISTRATORS NEED TO PUT UP OR SHUT UP

Florida State’s half-assed attempt at punishing Jameis Wintston is all you need to know.

You remember Jameis, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, who beat the rap on a sexual assault accusation. The prosecutor, William N. Meggs, said that, because of a sloppy police investigation, he didn’t have enough evidence to prove the alleged victim had been raped.

The New York Times did some digging around and determined that, “There was no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

“The detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report and then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser.”

The consensus among most observers is that Winston got the star quarterback of the possible National Championship winner treatment.

Fast forward to Tuesday and Winston is standing on a table in the Florida State student union yelling – well, never mind what he was yelling. It’s a vulgar phrase that shouldn’t be written here and it’s definitely not something that someone recently accused of sexual assault should be saying out loud in a public place.

For that, Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher “suspended” Winston for the first half of Saturday’s game against Clemson.

Late Friday night somebody at FSU wised up and doubled the penalty and said Winston would be benched for the entire game,

One more big opportunity missed by a big time college coach.
Fisher had the chance to send an obviously well-needed message to Winston and a powerful message to the rest of his team.

He could have – should have – suspended Winston for at least three games. It’s these kinds of missed opportunities that lead to the problems that the NFL has been having the last few weeks.

Little or no accountability.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgerson was told by Morgantown police Wednesday that they had a nightclub surveillance video of his best defensive player, cornerback Daryl Worley, putting both his hands on a woman’s throat and throwing her to the ground.

Worley was charged with battery and suspended indefinitely, which apparently means more than half a game.

Holgerson should have kicked Worley off the team.
For good.
No second chance.

And when WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck saw that Holgerson wasn’t willing to get rid of him, he should have stepped in and done it himself. And when WVU President Gordon Gee saw that Luck wasn’t willing to do the right thing, he should have kicked Worley out.

The time for second chances is over.
Big time college and professional athletes have obviously not been getting the messages that have (or haven’t) been sent to them.

Token punishments and empty threats aren’t working anymore if they ever did.

And when a player is kicked off for committing a violent crime, other teams need to avoid the temptation to give him that second chance no matter how good he may be.

It’s time for college coaches and administrators to start taking preemptive action. When a high school kid proves he can’t stay out of trouble or do college work, don’t offer him a scholarship.

Or shut up about how you’re trying to clean up college sports.

Pro teams should do what the Philadelphia Eagles did with their All-Pro wide receiver Desean Jackson this Summer after reports surfaced that he was hanging out with gang members in Los Angeles, including two who were suspected of murder.

They released him.

It produced a good bit of whining among the national sports media about how there was no real proof and Jackson hadn’t committed any crimes.

That’s exactly the point. That’s what preemptive means. Nip it in the bud. Don’t draft college players who have criminal pasts or criminal friends.

NFL owners, like the Ravens’ Steve Bisciotti, who, according to ESPN, knew exactly what Ray Rice did in the elevator that night, have to stop hiding behind the commissioner and pushing for leniency and start doing the right thing.

Or just shut up.

NFL HAS ZERO TOLERANCE FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE, SORT OF

Too bad J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t available.

Mr. Hoover is the most famous FBI director of all time and, even though his reputation has taken some hits since he died in 1972, everybody would have been a lot more impressed if he had been called in to investigate the NFL instead of a more recent former director, Robert Mueller.

Mueller was called on by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate, well, Roger Goodell.

It seems people are having trouble believing that a company powerful enough to call on a former Director of the FBI to investigate itself couldn’t figure out whether or not its leader had seen a video.

The video in question, of course, is the one that shows Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiance. It cost Rice his job and it could end up costing Goodell his.

Goodell claims he never saw the video and that, to his knowledge, nobody associated with the NFL had seen it.

It was right after the Associated Press reported the existence of a voicemail from an NFL office number that the call went out to Mueller. On it, a female voice expresses thanks and says, “You’re right, It’s terrible.”
Call me crazy, but this doesn’t sound like a case worthy of a G-Man who spent most of his career trying to expose al-Quaeda plots.

How hard could it be to, by process of elimination, find out whose voice is on the recording and ask her who she was thanking for sending the video?

But this is the NFL and image is everything.

Yep, “We here at the NFL will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this because we consider it our duty to wipe out domestic violence across the globe.”

Except in Charlotte, North Carolina where Greg Hardy was expected to start for the Carolina Panthers against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, despite being convicted of abuse at least as severe as Rice‘s.

Hardy’s former girl friend accused him of, among other things, throwing her into a bathtub, slamming a toilet seat on her hand, picking her up and slamming her on a couch full of loaded weapons, choking her and threatening to kill her.

A judge heard the testimony and found Hardy guilty and sentenced him to a 60-day suspended sentence and two years probation.

(Once again, law enforcement lets an abuser off easy.)

Hardy exercised his right to appeal to a trial by jury – a smart move that will save him millions of dollars. He has a 1-year $13 million contract and would be out several million if he had accepted the verdict and been suspended by the NFL.

The trial probably won’t happen until after the NFL season is over and he has been paid the full amount.

Will you be surprised if Greg drops his appeal after the clock runs out?

The NFL is calling Mueller’s efforts “an independent investigation” despite the fact that two team owners, Art Rooney II of the Steelers and John Mara of the Giants, both grandsons of NFL founders, will be providing oversight.

Kind of like a fox overseeing a hen house investigation.

That’s not to impugn the integrity of either Rooney or Mara but whatever the NFL gains from bringing in J. Edgar…I mean Robert Mueller, is lost by including them.

And none if it matters anyway if Greg Hardy plays another game in the NFL this season. As Rooney knows all too well because of the six-game suspension given his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, Goodell has suspended players without waiting for formal charges to be filed much less an appeal being heard.

Mr. Mueller knows all about finding clues, but he may have met his match with the NFL.

The evidence gets stronger every day that it doesn’t have one.