Category Archives: Sports

I’m On TV and You’re Not

Talk about waking up on third base and thinking you hit a triple, how about that Britt McHenry?

Maybe you’ve seen the video that sent Britt on a quick and eternal trip to internet hell. She’s been working for ESPN as a reporter for a little over a year, but it wasn’t one of her typically vapid reports that got her in trouble.

It was a video that showed the world what an entitled, arrogant snob she really is.

Apparently a towing company had the nerve to respond to a call and tow her car from a parking lot in Arlington, Va. A security video caught her taking it out on the clerk.

Here are some of the money quotes: “I’m on television and you’re in a f-ing trailer, honey.”

I’ve worked in television for more than 30 years and was exposed to some gigantic egos, but I can honestly say I never heard anybody use the “I’m on TV and you’re not” line on someone.

Then she reminded the woman of the differences in their education: “That’s why I have a degree and you don’t.”

And, of course, she let the lowly clerk know what an awful job she had: “ I would never work in a scum bag place like this.”

McHenry is 28 years old and has a Masters degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Based on her comments, she apparently believes that her degree and her many years of experience were as much a factor as her looks in landing a job with ESPN.

She works for a network that has set the feminist cause back decades by hiring an army of women, who, while competent, would not have gotten a foot in the door for a job interview if not for their looks.

You’ll know ESPN is hiring women for their expertise when they start hiring women who look like Chris Berman and John Clayton. That’s not to say that there aren’t women who are good looking and competent. But only someone afraid of the PC police or protecting their job at ESPN would deny the value of good looks when it comes to hiring female sportscasters.

McHenry lamented the overemphasis on a woman’s appearance in a blog post a while back because of the use of an almost naked woman in a cheeseburger commercial: “When so many females fight for gender equality and in pay and opportunity- still to this day in 2015 – an advertisement like that only sets women back generations.”

“Women can be comfortable in their own skin…Be the woman with a voice, not the sexed up body without one.”

And this quote from the viral video: “Lose some weight, baby girl.”

After the video went viral on Thursday, McHenry became 10 times more famous than she was on Wednesday, but in none of the media reports about her did I see any reference to a brilliant observation she had made, commentary she had done or story she had broken that skyrocketed her to network stardom.

That’s because she’s not working at ESPN because of her masters degree, her unique reporting style or her special insight. She’s there because she’s, first and foremost, really good looking.

And that’s okay, looks always have and always will be a major factor in being paid to be on television and it is possible to be really good looking and really good on the air, which she may be, but, when you are a woman and walk off a college campus into a sports job working for a station in a Top 10 market, chances are pretty good that you weren’t hired because of your degree or for your mind.

I don’t have the numbers, but I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of young sports reporters whose first jobs are in large TV markets or at a network are good looking females.

There aren’t a lot of chubby 25-year old men covering major events for any of the sports networks.

Sounds harsh. Sounds sexist, I know, but you would have a hard time finding an honest person, who knows anything about sports television in 2015, to disagree.

If you have a list of 20-something, ordinary looking males working as sideline reporters, I’d love to see it.

Britt McHenry shouldn’t be fired. She has paid a huge personal price for her little tirade and social media has made it too easy for people who love to see a celebrity crash and burn for one violation.

Just remember, the next time you see Britt McHenry back at work on ESPN, she’s on TV and you’re not.

NFL NEEDS TO STOP THE REEFER MADNESS

Maybe the NFL is banning the wrong drug.

Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers and his former teammate, LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots received their punishment for their run-in with the law last August.

Bell was pulled over by a cop as he and Blount were on their way to the Pittsburgh airport to board the Steelers’ team plane to Philadelphia.

The cop said he smelled marijuana coming from Bell’s car. They were both charged with misdemeanor marijuana violations and Bell was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

Blount got probation but was able to wipe his record clean with 50 hours of community service.

Bell also got 15 months probation and was entered into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time offenders.

Earlier this week, the NFL handed out its penalties. Blount was suspended for one game and Bell for three.

The NFL has a big problem with players who smoke marijuana. Alcohol is okay. Understandably, the league has a zero tolerance policy for DUI and DWI convictions.

Marijuana is still illegal in most states but that’s looking more and more temporary every election cycle.

The NFL needs to get with it and stop testing players for marijuana.

One of this year’s top prospects, pass rusher Randy Gregory, may have cost himself millions of dollars by flunking the marijuana portion of the drug test at the recently completed NFL Combine. He was considered a top five pick but has been falling down most mock draft boards.

He’s falling for the stupidity as much if not more than the weed, but the NFL caring whether Gregory has smoked marijuana in the last month is at least as stupid as his decision to smoke it.

Quick question: What was the NFL’s biggest problem last season?

If you didn’t answer domestic violence you weren’t paying attention.

Another question: Under the influence of which drug – marijuana or alcohol – would a big, strong man be more likely to physically abuse a woman?

It’s alcohol and it’s not even close. If your own life experiences haven’t told you that, there are plenty of studies that prove it.

In fact, if I were an NFL owner, general manager or coach, my first choice would be that my players stay away from both, but my second choice would be that they choose weed over booze.

If Bell and Blount had been drunk instead of stoned back in August, chances would have been much greater that they would have injured themselves or someone else in an accident or become involved in a violent confrontation with the cops.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that one fourth of all violent crimes and three fourths of all intimate partner violence incidents are committed by an offender who has been drinking,

Researches at Yale University did a nine year study of married couples and found that those who regularly smoked marijuana reduced their chances of partner violence.

Another study found that 20-year old drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent – the legal limit for driving – had an almost 20-fold increase in the risk of a fatal accident compared with sober drivers.

The lead author of the study, Eduardo Romano, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation said that, after adjusting for demographics and other factors, marijuana did not statistically increase the risk of a crash.

So, how much sense does it make for the NFL to have no penalty for a player who drinks a fifth of Jack Daniels every night, as long as he doesn’t beat someone up, run someone over or get himself arrested but a suspension for a player who shows signs of smoking a joint any time in the last 30 days?

The drug that is more likely to perpetuate the NFL’s biggest problem is okay. The drug that might eliminate it is banned.

Of course the one that is banned doesn’t bring in billions in advertising dollars or concession stand sales.

DISCRIMINATION IS WRONG. EXCEPT WHEN IT’S NOT.

Have you noticed that sports, politics and political correctness seem to be bumping into each other a lot lately?

NCAA President Mark Emmert, whose office is in Indianapolis, where a basketball tournament of some note will be played this weekend, was quick to jump on his high horse and head for high moral ground when the state of Indiana passed a law intended to protect religious freedom.

Emmert, as many others did, interpreted the law as an attempt to give private businesses the right to discriminate against people who are gay.

Charles Barkley, in town working as a CBS-TV analyst, said, “America’s always had a racial problem. Now we have a homophobic problem. Any form of discrimination you have to check it.”

Somebody needs to tell Barkley and Emmert about an NCAA school that has been guilty of discrimination for almost 200 years. And it’s happening now – almost right under their noses- an hour away, in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

That’s the home of the Wabash College Little Giants, a Division III school playing in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Wabash actually won the first national intercollegiate basketball tournament ever held in 1922.

So where’s the discrimination?
No women.

That’s right. Wabash discriminates against women right in front of everybody and has been since 1832. It’s one of only three remaining male-only liberal arts colleges in the United States.

Should Emmert insist that Wabash stop the discrimination and enroll women immediately or be banished from all NCAA competition?

Better yet, do Barkley and his many friends in the self-righteous, hysterical media believe that the federal government should force Wabash to go co-ed?

Or do they all only want to use the force of government against private property owners when they believe their oxen are being gored?

And this isn’t about comparing discrimination against gay people to discrimination against women. It’s about whether the NCAA or, more importantly, the government has the right to tell anybody with whom they can or must associate.

If you believe in freedom of association, then you have to tolerate associations that offend you.

Keith Olberman is a smart and ridiculously talented TV sportscaster but, boy, is he clueless on this subject.

Keith, of course, jerked his knee so hard he almost blew out his ACL and jumped on his ESPN high horse with a scathing attack on the NCAA about a minute and a half after the law was passed.

He wanted the NCAA ,NFL, NBA and the rest of the human race to stop doing business in Indiana because the law was just a sneaky attempt to make it okay to discriminate against gays. And he said that, in the future, this law could allow the Pacers, the Colts or the NCAA to refuse gays admissions to their games.

See, Keith, as smart as he is, is so much in love with government and the idea that it should control every aspect of his life that he no longer understands the difference between public and private property.

He equates a baker not wanting to use his privately owned oven on his private property to bake a cake with two grooms on it to a gay person being denied access to a taxpayer funded stadium.

Here in Western Pennsylvania, we have some high schools that have been practicing discrimination for decades. Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Erie Cathedral Prep blatantly discriminate against girls.

Boys only.

They also show up in the state playoffs in football and basketball just about every year.

What if say, Hillary Clinton, who expressed immediate outrage at the Indiana law, were to be elected president and decide that it’s unfair for schools like Wabash College, Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Erie Cathedral Prep to only admit boys, denying young girls access to those great athletic programs?

Should she have the power to force them to admit girls?

I think I’ll send her an email and ask her.

Because Hillary graduated from Wellesley College, which discriminates against men.

That’s right.
Women only since 1870.

RETIRE 21. STOP OBSESSING ABOUT 87 AND 71

It’s time for Major League Baseball to retire number 21.

This should be the last season in which any Major League player wears Roberto Clemente’s number.

That’s right. Twenty-one should belong to Clemente the way 42 belongs to the great Jackie Robinson. His number was retired in April of 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Robinson becoming the first black player in MLB history.

It was the right thing to do for too many reasons to count and it was one of the few major decisions made by Major League Baseball that received universal approval.

Robinson’s struggles and ultimate triumphs are well known. If there is ever a Mt. Rushmore for civil rights heroes, he’s on it, right up there with Martin Luther King.

(Clemente actually convinced some of his teammates to protest playing the Pirates’ home opener on April 8th, 1968 because of King’s funeral. The game was moved to April 10th.)

Clemente wasn’t the first black Latin American player in baseball.

He wasn’t even the first black Latin star.

Minnie Minoso was hitting .300 in the big leagues as early as 1951 with the Chicago White Sox.

Clemente was the first black Latin star to speak loudly about the discrimination that still existed toward all black players, but especially the ones who “talked funny.”
Clemente said that he was treated like a “double nigger” because of the color of his skin and his Spanish accent.

It takes world class stupidity for a person, who can only speak one language, to question the intelligence of someone who’s trying to speak a second one, but Clemente dealt with it everyday from people in the street, his teammates, opponents and the media.

I remember a headline in a Pittsburgh newspaper, the morning after Clemente had been knocked down several times by opposing pitchers: “Let Me Peetch.”

Writers thought it was a good idea to quote him phonetically.

If you never saw him play, don’t expect to get a real appreciation for him by Googling his stats.
He finished with 3,000 hits and a .317 batting average but those are numbers.

You had to see him run the bases.

I watched him for 18 years and when I say I never saw him NOT run full speed to first base with his arms flailing and leaning into the bag, I mean never.

And that includes after a one-hopper back to the pitcher.

He has Gold Gloves and a Hall of Famer’s worth of assists, but you had to see him throw to really appreciate his arm.
I think the best word to describe it is ridiculous.

It’s been 42 years since Clemente played his last game and I’ve still never seen anyone throw like that. Indescribable would be another good word.
But none of that is why 21 should be retired by Major League Baseball.

Clemente’s number should be retired because of what he means to millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean, where baseball is more popular than it is in the United States.

He wasn’t the pioneer that Robinson was but he dealt with as much if not more abuse and humiliation because of where he came from, the color of his skin and the way he spoke.

He made no apologies for his heritage. He proudly flaunted it – considered “uppity” by lots of people, including many of his teammates.

Clemente was still playing at a high level in 1972 and was expected to be the Pirates’ right fielder in 1973. Everybody knows why he wasn’t.

After an earthquake devastated the city of Managua in Nicaragua, Clemente organized a campaign in Puerto Rico to send food and medical supplies to aid in the relief effort. When he heard that corrupt politicians were stealing what the Puerto Rican people had sent, he insisted on accompanying the next planeload.

The plane crashed shortly after takeoff and Clemente’s body was never recovered.

Clemente is a Latin American hero. Hundreds of schools in the United States and Latin America are named after him.

Every September, Major League Baseball celebrates Roberto Clemente Day. Every year, the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team” is given the Roberto Clemente Award.

It’s time for one more honor for The Great One.

Retire 21.

-If you are among the growing number of people who have decided that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are underachievers because they’ve only won one Stanley Cup, it might help to keep in mind that Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr won two.

Then ask yourself if Crosby and Malkin have played a season with a player as good as Ron Francis.

How about Paul Coffey?

Kevin Stevens?

Rick Tocchet?

Joe Mullen

Larry Murphy?

Mark Recchi?

They are all either Hall of Famers or near Hall of Famers and they all played on either the 1991 Stanley Cup winner or the 1992 Cup winner or both.

That group went to two Stanley Cup Finals. Lemieux never went to another Final after he turned 26.
The difference between going to two Finals instead of one was “The Save” by Frank Pietrangelo.
Championships are rare.

So are chances to play for a championship. Instead of focusing on what the Penguins haven’t done with Crosby and Malkin, think about where they would be without them.

TRASHING THE COWBOYS

Good for Dale Hansen.

He’s a rarity in American sports media for a couple of reasons.

His age and his guts.
Hansen is 66 years old and looks it and he is still working as a weeknight sports anchor in a major TV market.

There aren’t a lot of old, chubby, bald people doing sports on local TV newscasts these days, especially in top 10 markets and sportscasters with the guts (not to mention the permission) to say the kinds of things that Hansen said about his local NFL team are even more rare.

Hansen works for WFAA-TV in Dallas.

Here’s a little of what he had to say about the Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett on his Wednesday sportscast: “He’s one of two things. He’s either a fraud and hypocrite when he talks about having the right type of guys ‘character guys’ on his team… or he really has no say and he’s simply the puppet so many of you think he is.”

And here’s what he had to say about the Cowboys as an organization: “Just when I begin to think the Cowboys can’t sink any lower…they can’t fall from grace any more than they have…they find another shovel and dig a few feet deeper.”

What got Dale Hansen so fired up?

The Cowboys signed Greg Hardy to a contract what will pay him somewhere between $8 and $13 million next season.

You remember Greg. He’s the Carolina Panthers all-pro pass rusher, who was convicted of beating, choking and threatening to kill his girlfriend.

But that was a bench trial – meaning that it was a judge who heard the testimony and found him guilty. Hardy, under North Carolina law, appealed the conviction and asked for a jury trial, even though the judge suspended his 60-day jail sentence and put him on 18 months probation – a slap on the wrist if there ever was one.

His girl friend, probably a few million dollars richer, didn’t show up for the trial and the charges were dropped.

Hardy will probably be suspended for at least a few games by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who saw no reason to suspend him after his conviction.

The famous Ray Rice video drew a little too much attention to the NFL’s domestic violence problem and Goodell, who Hansen referred to as “the NFL’s Barney Fife,” put Hardy on the exempt list about 15 minutes after that video went viral.

That meant he couldn’t play, but he would still get his $13 million salary from the Panthers.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones backed Fife ..sorry Goodell…when he suspended Ray Rice. He said “ (Domestic abuse) is intolerable and will be adjudicated accordingly.”

It becomes a lot more tolerable when your team’s biggest need is for a really good pass rusher.

Wonder how Jerry would feel if a video of Hardy with his hands on his girl friend’s throat suddenly showed up.

Maybe you have to be 66 with a successful TV career behind you to have the guts to say this on a local TV newscast in an NFL city, but you can be sure that it wouldn‘t happen in very many NFL cities:

“The irony in this signing? Cowboys vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson (the owner’s daughter) is on the NFL’s personal conduct policy committee. It must be quite a committee…and quite a policy. And apparently if Charlotte were ever beaten by a man, the esteemed owner would be okay with that man on his team…if he could play.”

Hansen’s reaction was rare and refreshing.

But not nearly as refreshing and rare as it would have been if no NFL team had offered Greg Hardy a job.

SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON

I was a member of SAE fraternity at Kent State a million years ago.

I say was because I never became a full fledged member through the required rush/pledge/initiation process. I was a social member.

I was already 21 when I got to Kent State and knew some guys in the fraternity and ended up spending most of my time with them during my two years there.

I became a social member for two reasons. Softball and football. I was pretty good in both and the fraternities took their intra-fraternity competition seriously.

I was taught the secret handshake and some of the long standing traditions but I was never told the secrets.

I really didn’t care about the secrets as long as they let me play centerfield, wide receiver and go to the parties.

I’ve thought about those secrets a lot this week after the video of the SAE racist song from Oklahoma went viral.

Was that song one of those secrets? I don’t know but I doubt it. It might be a song that had been passed down at some chapters in the South. But one thing is for sure, those kids on the bus in Oklahoma didn’t make it up last Thursday.

Oklahoma University had no right to expel the kids on the video. And no need to. They have every right to be as racist as they want to be as long as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights.

They will pay the price for singing that song for a long time without anybody having to violate their constitutional rights.

I still feel loyalty to SAE even though it was a million years ago that they bent the rules a little to allow me to enjoy the sports and the parties without having to go through the tough pledging process.

And I don’t think it’s a racist organization.

In fact, if you check out the Kent State chapter’s Facebook page, you will see several black members.

And something everybody should keep in mind. Every fraternity and sorority out there-white-black-Asian has its secrets and they would not want them to be made public.

That’s why they’re called secrets.

TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN

Easy come. Easy go.

What was the bigger story this week, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger signing a five-year contract extension for something in the neighborhood of $125 million or Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds announcing his retirement and walking away from $30 or $40 million?

The story that affects the Steelers the most is obviously Roethlisberger’s signing but isn’t that a dog bites man story?

Who didn’t think that the Steelers would extend a 33-year old franchise quarterback’s contract? It was always a matter of when and for how much.

Worilds’ retirement at 27 on Tuesday isn’t exactly sending reverberations through the NFL because he’s a slightly better than average pass rusher.

But, in the middle of the money grab that is the National Football League, he was sure to get between $20 and $30 million as a free agent.

It’s rare for anybody to walk away from that kind of money. In sports or any other profession.
Worilds made close to $10 million last year and a total of around $13 million in his five years with the Steelers.

Maybe he woke up Tuesday morning thinking about mini-camp, training camp and a 16 week season and said, “Who needs this?”

It amazes me that more players don’t do it.

Especially football players.

If you play just about any other sport, at least 60 percent of your time is spent actually playing the game you love to play.

If you’re a football player, there are, counting exhibition games and possible post season games, somewhere between 16 and 24 times a year when you actually get to compete.

And in football, of course, you really only get to play half the game.

Baseball, hockey and basketball players don’t have 1/10th the number of meetings that football players have. Imagine how those must drag for an offensive lineman playing for a 3-8 team in December.

After you’ve already made $40 or $50 million, you’d have to really love football to not be tempted to turn in your playbook and head for the beach.

Pat Willis, an All-Pro linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers also walked away from a pile of money on Tuesday.
He’s 30 years old and could have made another $30 million on top of the $50 million he made in his eight-year career.

Missing 10 games last season, toe surgery and recurring problems with his feet made him decide to walk away knowing he can still walk without a limp, unlike so many former players he knows.

Roethlisberger says the negotiations were easy because it was a fair contract but he also had all the leverage. He could have pushed it to the limit and held out and even forced the Steelers to put a franchise tag on him next year.

Having already made over $100 million might have made the numbers less important to him. Quarterbacks have and always will make the big bucks and 33 isn’t nearly as old for a quarterback as it is for every other position on the field.

Jake Locker was the 8th pick in the NFL Draft in 2011. He played a total of 30 games at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans in four seasons and made $12.5 million.

He announced on Tuesday that he’s had enough. Twenty-six years old and his number one job just became remodeling his house in Ferndale, Washington, 16 miles from the Canadian border on the Pacific coast.

Not bad for a 26 year-old guy with a young wife and two kids.

Most players find it hard to walk away from the game because there’s so much money to be made.
More are starting to walk away because there’s so much they’ve already made.

With so many retired players still paying the physical price for extending their careers to the max, guys like Locker, Willis and Worilds look like the smart ones.