The Federal Communications Commission ordered the elimination today of sports blackout rules that blocked cable and satellite broadcasts of games blacked out on local stations.
a local broadcast station.
“The action removes Commission protection of the NFL’s current private blackout policy, which requires local broadcast stations to black out a game if a team does not sell a certain percentage of tickets to the game at least 72 hours prior to the game,” the FCC said in a statement.
The FCC’s order found the blackout rules are “no longer justified in light of the significant changes in the sports industry since these rules were first adopted nearly forty years ago.”
“At that time, ticket sales were the primary source of revenue for the NFL and most NFL games failed to sell out. Today, television revenues have replaced ticket sales as the NFL’s main source of revenue, and blackouts of NFL games are increasingly rare.”
Only two games were blacked out last season, the FCC said.
“Today’s action may not eliminate all sports blackouts, because the NFL may choose to continue its private blackout policy. However, the NFL will no longer be entitled to the protection of the Commission’s sports blackout rules. Instead, the NFL must rely on the same avenues available to other entities that wish to protect their distribution rights in the private marketplace.”
The league, which objected to lifting the rules, said in a statement that teams “have made significant efforts in recent years to minimize blackouts.”
“The NFL is the only sports league that televises every one of its games on free, over-the-air television. The FCC’s decision will not change that commitment for the foreseeable future.”
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) asked the FCC in June to lift the blackout rule, arguing in a letter to the commission that it “unfairly harms consumers by insulating the NFL from market realities and punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and declining populations.”
Today, Blumenthal declared the FCC “officially threw a flag on the NFL’s anti-fan blackout policy.”
“The sports blackout rule unfairly harms consumers by punishing fans in cities with large stadiums and declining populations,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “The FCC did the right thing today by removing this antiquated rule, which is no longer justified by facts or simple logic.”
“Even as the NFL made millions upon millions of dollars off of broadcasting rights, they continued as recently as this season to threaten fans with unnecessary blackout restrictions.”
In a wide-ranging townhall-style interview, former President Bill Clinton told CNN that he doesn’t think racism has gotten worse in the country and that President Obama’s Syria strategy has a “chance” of being successful.
Clinton said the ISIS threat is “quite significant and it certainly threatens to change the whole landscape in the Middle East, redrawn national boundaries, crash national governments and we know they’re killing a lot of innocent people who don’t agree with them.”
“They ran the Christians out of Iraq who’ve been there since the dawn of Christendom and they butchered those Syrian soldiers and, you know, we don’t agree with the Syrian government but their soldiers, their uniformed personnel and thought with rules of war, and of course they like to decapitate people on the Internet,” he said. “So I think that strategy that the president has adopted has a chance of succeeding. I support him on what they’re doing.”
Clinton added that arming rebels in Syria is “worth the gamble.” His wife advocated this to President Obama three years ago but was overruled.
“One thing we know will happen, if we don’t help people who are trying to create an open inclusive secular society, they will lose. If we do help them and they lose anyway, somebody will get their weapons but I don’t think that will massively change the balance of power. Anytime you do anything, it might not work. We don’t have 100 percent in control,” he said. ”You just make a judgment over whether it’s more likely than not to work.”
On the recent unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Clinton said he doesn’t think there’s been a rush to judgment in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson.
“What do we know? We know that the young man was unarmed. We know there was some kind of altercation with the police officer. We know when he was trying to get away he was shot. We know he had two bullets in the head. We know somebody made some sort of mistake. We don’t know what that was,” he said.
“…The most interesting thing to me about Ferguson was when the governor put the African-American state trooper who was from that area in charge of overseeing the situation and communicating with the folks in the community, things got better.”
Racism hasn’t gotten worse in the country, Clinton said, “but I think that we’re playing with it, with its darker possibilities with things like the stand your ground laws.”
“I actually think we are less racist, less sexist, less homophobic than we used to be. I think our big problem today is we don’t want to be around anybody who disagrees with us,” he added. “And I think that in some ways, it can be the worst silo of all, be holed up in.”
Clinton said he’s a “huge” football fan and hopes the NFL is “trying to get it right now” with the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal.
“I grew up at home with domestic violence. And — God, I hope that it works out all right for — I hope he really is OK and he never does it again. Sometimes, people don’t, but it’s rare. And I think what bothers everybody is that that, that seems that the NFL diminished the importance of it early on,” he said.
“I think that people who are rich and popular because of athletics, or entertainment, or any other thing like that, they shouldn’t be held for an impossible standard, they shouldn’t be exempted from the general rule that we can’t get away with abusing people because of our position.”
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has asked for a Pentagon review of the military’s involvement in the National Football League. The review comes in the wake of several domestic violence complaints against NFL players.
The connection between the NFL and the military goes back decades, and the connections are considerable.
The Army alone spends some $10 million a year buying advertising from television networks broadcasting NFL games. Games are also broadcast by the Armed Forces Network to troops deployed overseas.
Military support for the NFL games includes: providing ceremonial units at games for colors ceremonies; military personnel singing the national anthem, and other units providing drill teams or flyovers. Military personnel, including wounded warriors, often appear at NFL events honoring those who serve.
The Army and the NFL also have a agreement to share information and resources to better understand traumatic brain injury, which is a major medical issue both for wounded troops and football players. They are working together on awareness of TBI as well as research into treatment. The military has been sharing some of the lessons learned on TBI from the last 13 years of war, specifically.
Another program, NFL Play 60, has seen players visit military bases to encourage children to be more active as least 60 minutes a day to help prevent childhood obesity.
It is clear the White House is also closely monitoring the NFL controversy, with one senior administration official calling recent abuse allegations “deeply troubling” and stressing the league’s obligation to “(get) control of the situation.”
“Many of these professional athletes are marketed as role models to young people,” the official said. “So their behavior does have the potential to influence these young people. So that’s one of the many reasons it’s important the league gets a handle on this and have zero tolerance.”
Just how is the NFL supposed to “get control” of the domestic violence committed by their players? There are more than 1300 NFL players on 30 rosters across the league. Six players have been accused of domestic violence in recent months. While that is six too many, the question has to be asked: is domestic violence in the NFL so serious and so widespresd that it must become a federal issue?
No doubt women’s advocates would love to make it one. Already several big money advertisers like Anheuser-Busch and Nike are looking closely at their relationship with the NFL. A pullout by those two giants would hit the league where it hurts the most: advertising dollars.
There are legitimate questions about how the league has handled specific cases — most notably, the Ray Rice clocking of his girlfriend in an elevator. But how can you blame anyone, especially Commissioner Roger Goodell, for the actions of players off the football field? The only way this campaign against the NFL makes sense is if you consider the enormous amount of money at stake, and the high-profile nature of the crimes, which aids women’s groups in fundraising and marketing.
During a news conference on Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised that the league “will get our house in order.”
Goodell announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will lead an investigation of the way the league handled the Ray Rice case, and he said that at the end of the process the league will implement new conduct policies.
“I promise you that any shortcomings he finds will lead to swift action,” Goodell said. “The same mistakes will never be repeated.”
Goodell has faced intense criticism over the league’s handling of off-field violent behavior from some of its players. The issue came to a very public head when a video surfaced showing Rice, a star for the Baltimore Ravens, punching his then-fiancee.
As long as Goodell has the support of owners, he should have some breathing room to be more proactive. In a radio interview this morning, I mentioned that Goodell can’t get a complete grip on this until the surprises stop. He thought the Rice situation was handled, then the second video surfaced. Just when damage control was settling in there, the Peterson incident became public. Before almost anything could be done about that, a second allegation was made known. Then the Dwyer story happened. Goodell and the league have been reeling and on their heels in a purely reactive mode because of all of this.
They need the surprises to stop before anything substantive can be done. The PR department needs to be paid more too.
In other not-so-good news for the league, the Dept. of Defense is looking into its connections with the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer head-butted his wife and broke her nose after she bit his lip to stop his sexual advances, and he punched her in the face the next day, according to a police report made public Thursday.
Dwyer later threatened to kill himself in front of their 17-month-old son if the wife alerted the police, according to the report, which detailed the latest domestic violence allegations against an NFL player. Dwyer was arrested Wednesday and benched by the team.
The police report describes two altercations between Dwyer and his wife, on July 21 and 22. In the first, Dwyer tried to kiss her and take off her clothes, according to the report. She told him to stop and bit his lip when he wouldn’t, the report said. Dwyer then head-butted her, it said. Police were called to the home by someone who heard arguing.
“Publicist for the National Football League” would now be a candidate for the old “Dirty Jobs” show if it were still on the air.
While it isn’t statistically an epidemic yet, it is now a problem that seems to be spiraling away from the previously cool, collected, and always in charge Roger Goodell. He is now in a difficult position where he has to be extremely proactive all the while avoiding turning the league into one that operates on a “guilty until proven innocent” policy.
Very often in large organizations, the best way to regain control of a situation is for some management heads to roll, even if management isn’t directly responsible. Goodell, however, isn’t removed from these actions anymore. His awful handling of the Ray Rice situation carries over to each new case now, despite his admission that he was wrong.
Running back Adrian Peterson will not play for the Minnesota Vikings until his legal issues are resolved, the team said early Wednesday.
It’s a reversal of course for the Vikings. The team had earlier said that Peterson, who is facing a child abuse charge, would practice this week and could play in Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints
In a statement early Wednesday, the team said Peterson has been placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require him to “remain away from all team activities.”
Vikings: Peterson won’t play on Sunday Should fans stop watching NFL games? Lemon: I don’t condone what Peterson did
“While we were trying to make a balanced decision (Monday), after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian,” said a statement from owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. “We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right.”
The “balanced decision” on Monday came before the Vikings’ main sponsor, Radisson, backed off from its financial involvement with the team.
This is just another response from the NFL’s upper echelon that shows how remarkably out of touch they are with the people who spend money on their product. Roger Goodell shouldn’t have had to see the second Ray Rice video to know what Rice did was heinous, and the first allegation against Peterson should have been enough for the Vikings to keep Peterson suspended for a while. It seems as if they’re all trying to gauge the public’s tolerance for off the field violent behavior.
Or they’re just kind of dumb.
The top beer sponsor is weighing on the NFL for its handling of a string of highly-publicized abuse scandals involving star players.
On Tuesday, Anheuser-Busch — a big spender in Super Bowl advertising whose Bud Light brand is the official beer of the league — issued a highly critical statement of the NFL.
“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” said the beverage maker in a statement released by a spokesperson. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”
Those “expectations” were not disclosed in the statement. However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been widely criticized over his handling of the domestic abuse scandal involving Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice and child abuse allegations leveled at Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson.
The company’s brand, Bud Light, has been the official beer of the NFL since 2010, when it replaced MillerCoors as the premier sponsor. Anheuser-Bush has been a top spending brand with the league from 2009 to 2013, spending $149 million during five Super Bowls, according to Nielsen statistics released in January.
This is where the calls for Goodell’s job will really heat up. His job is to manage the league’s image so the sponsor money keeps rolling in without interruption. If one of its biggest sponsors expresses concern, the problem has become unmanageable.
On a somewhat smaller scale, Radisson “suspended” its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after they reinstated Adrian Peterson and another allegation of child abuse surfaced.
If more sponsors begin grumbling soon, all of Roger Goodell’s damage control to save himself will probably be for naught.
As a former Dallas Cowboys fan, I half want the Washington Redskins to win the Super Bowl this year — just so the media will have to twist themselves into knots avoiding using the name.
That will be fun to watch.
Demagoguing Democrats aren’t fun to watch. Sen. Maria Cantwell has figured out a new way to attack the issue. She is threatening to pull the NFL’s non-profit status, according to AP.
In a news conference that featured Native American, civil rights and religious leaders, Sen. Maria Cantwell took aim at the NFL’s pocketbook by announcing she will introduce a bill to strip the league’s tax-exempt status because it has not taken action over the Redskins name. While prospects for such a bill becoming law would be tenuous, the inevitable hearings before lawmakers would enhance the spotlight on a movement that has gained substantial momentum over the last two years.
I’d bet that most Americans don’t know that the NFL is a non-taxpaying non-profit. Should it be? The League, which by law is a “trade association” among the teams, rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars — apart from the teams’ earnings — every year. The NFL commissioner makes nearly $30 million per year. Now the NFL is embroiled in a whole bunch of scandals in addition to the Redskins’ name controversy. It’s the perfect time for politicians to threaten them.
Cantwell may have stumbled into something here.
Famous for its investigations under chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ranging from Benghazi to the IRS scandal, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will next probe domestic violence in the National Football League, according to one of its members.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said she asked Issa and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) to hold a hearing after revelations that heightened concern about how the NFL handles domestic violence cases, including the recent Ray Rice revelations.
“The NFL’s failure to appropriately respond to crimes and misconduct has harmed the prestige of the game and the millions of Americans who look up to these players as role models,” Speier said in a statement. “The NFL’s gross mishandling of the deplorable actions of Ray Rice is the latest example of how this insulated institution has incompetently dealt with serious issues.”
Speier said the investigation should go beyond domestic violence in the league, as well.
“This committee must also investigate the League’s tolerance of performance enhancing drugs, the impact of traumatic brain injury on players later in life, and the tax-exempt status the NFL enjoys thanks to a loophole congress created in the ‘60s,” she said.
“I look forward to working with Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings to shed light on the NFL’s internal policies and processes, which have been largely inconsistent and opaque, and identifying areas where reform is needed.”
The committee has already been delving into human growth hormone testing, with Issa and Cummings meeting with the NFL Players Association and league officials over the past year.
Last week, the players approved an NFL proposal that tests for HGH.
“I applaud the Players Association and NFL for taking a major step in the right direction towards implementing HGH testing for the first time,” Cummings said in a statement Saturday. “Testing for HGH will help prevent injuries on the field and send a clear message to young athletes that HGH will not be tolerated at the game’s highest levels. I encourage the Players Association and the NFL to iron out the remaining details so that HGH testing can begin immediately.”
When I was growing up in the 1950s, corporal punishment was not only commonplace, it was an accepted adjunct to raising good, obedient children.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” may have been a euphemism for “child beating” even back then. But spanking was considered an important part of child rearing, and few parents would have thought that it was abuse, much less unnecessary.
Taking a rod to a child’s backside — or a razor strop, or a paddle — might be stretching the point. But it was considered to be a parent’s absolute right to discipline his child any way he saw fit — even if that meant leaving marks on the child’s body.
Times have changed and striking a child anywhere for any reason can get you in trouble with state child service authorities. Some may think we’ve gone too far in protecting children while interfering with the right of parents to raise their child by their own lights.
If you believe that, allow me to introduce you to Adrian Peterson.
Peterson is not only star running back for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. He is the best back of his generation, a marvel of speed, power, and shiftiness. Yesterday, authorities in Texas handed down an indictment of Peterson for child abuse.
His unsettling and sometimes shocking explanations for beating his son with a tree branch because he misbehaved remind us that socioeconomic and cultural differences in parental attitudes toward child rearing are still with us, despite efforts to eradicate child beating disguised as “discipline.”
The “whooping” – as Peterson put it when interviewed by police – occurred in Spring, Texas, in May. Peterson’s son had pushed another one of Peterson’s children off of a motorbike video game. As punishment, Peterson grabbed a tree branch – which he consistently referred to as a “switch” – removed the leaves and struck the child repeatedly.
The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”
Peterson also allegedly said via text message to the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh” and also acknowledged the injury to the child’s scrotum in a text message, saying, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”
In further text messages, Peterson allegedly said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”
According to police reports, the child, however, had a slightly different story, telling authorities that “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face.” The child also expressed worry that Peterson would punch him in the face if the child reported the incident to authorities. He also said that he had been hit by a belt and that “there are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet.” He added that Peterson put leaves in his mouth when he was being hit with the switch while his pants were down. The child told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.”
It seems apparent that Adrian Peterson experienced similar beatings as a child and was only “whooping” his son as he had been “whooped” as a boy. This becomes clear with Peterson’s bewilderment at thinking that anyone thought his intentions and motivations were anything but legal and proper.
Peterson, when contacted by police, admitted that he had “whooped” his son on the backside with a switch as a form of punishment, and then, in fact, produced a switch similar to the one with which he hit the child. Peterson also admitted that he administered two different “whoopings” to his son during the visit to Texas, the other being a punishment for the 4-year-old scratching the face of a 5-year-old.
In an interview with Houston police, Peterson was very matter-of-fact and calm about the incident, appearing to believe he had done nothing wrong and reiterating how much he cared about his son and only used “whoopings” or “spankings” as a last resort. He offered up information that the police didn’t have and was incredulous when asked if some of the numerous wounds and marks on the child were from an extension cord, saying, “Oh, no, I’d never hit my child with an extension cord. I remember how it feels to get whooped with an extension cord. I’d never do that.”
Peterson also said, “Anytime I spank my kids, I talk to them before, let them know what they did, and of course after.” Peterson also expressed regret that his son did not cry – because then, Peterson said, he would have known that the switch was doing more damage than intended. He didn’t realize the “tip of the switch and the ridges of the switch were wrapping around [the child’s] legs.” Peterson also acknowledged that this was administered directly to the child’s skin and with the child’s pants pulled down.
It would be a mistake to ascribe this attitude to black America only. It is more a product of one’s socioeconomic strata and tradition than a condition based on race. From what I can discover, Peterson grew up in a lower middle class home with loving parents. While his parents divorced when Adrian was seven and his father was convicted and given an eight-year sentence for money laundering when he was thirteen, Peterson maintained close contact with his father, even speaking to him before every game in high school despite him being in prison.
The AP reports that the NFL had this week’s “new” video of Ray Rice punching his then girlfriend five months ago.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive five months ago, while league executives have insisted they didn’t see the violent images until this week.
The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
The law enforcement official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, says he had no further communication with any NFL employee and can’t confirm anyone watched the video. The person said he was unauthorized to release the video but shared it unsolicited, because he wanted the NFL to have it before deciding on Rice’s punishment.
The NFL has repeatedly said it asked for but could not obtain the video of Rice hitting Janay Palmer — who is now his wife — at an Atlantic City casino in February.
Did the NFL not take the Rice situation seriously at the beginning, or did the league engage in a cover-up?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has even more questions to answer now. This will end up defining his time at the NFL helm.
Update: The NFL denies:
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) September 10, 2014
This won’t do.
The Baltimore Ravens fired running back Ray Rice after a second video surfaced — this one showing him punching his then fiancee, Janay. The NFL also suspended Rice indefinitely so that no other team could sign him.
Carson, a former professor and director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, said that he hoped the league would get some help for Rice. Then he added:
“Let’s not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy. He obviously has some real problems. And his wife obviously knows that because she subsequently married him. So they both need some help.”
Mediaite has more, but it doesn’t help Carson’s case.
Rice obviously does have some problems. But it’s not “demonizing” to recognize that the horrific videos of him punching a woman out are in fact horrific. He punches her out cold and drags her out of the elevator. That’s domestic abuse. Yes, he needs help, and so may she. He also does not need to be representing the Ravens or the NFL while he gets help.
While we’re in the demonizing business, it’s worth taking a look at the Ravens and the NFL too. There are reports out — that the NFL deny — that the league already had the second video before it was made public yesterday.
If the team and the NFL already had the second video, and still only gave Rice that initial two-game suspension, then, what? They only fired Rice because he became an even bigger public relations problem for them?
The Ravens had Janay come out and apologize alongside Ray Rice, after the first video surfaced. If they had the full video at that time, or any other time between then and this week…
The “demonization” is only getting started.
The Baltimore Ravens have severed ties with running back Ray Rice today, after new video surfaced that shows him punching his then fiancee in an elevator.
The NFL had suspended Rice for two games, the first of which was Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
At the time the first domestic violence video surfaced, back in May, the Ravens struck a note that struck many as far off-key.
Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 23, 2014
The Ravens have scheduled an announcement for later today. Word is that Rice is finished.
— Ainsley Earhardt (@ainsleyearhardt) September 8, 2014
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 8, 2014
Terminating him now does raise more questions about the NFL’s lenient treatment of him in the first place. In the first video, it was clear that he had been hitting his fiancee.
Yes MT: @TheFix One thing with Ravens: Is the fact Rice knocked his wife unconscious the issue? Or that footage came out? I worry the latter
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) September 8, 2014
Rice has married Janay, the woman he is seen punching in the video.
In all seriousness though, Ray Rice has a scary temper, and given that he probably sees this firing as his wife’s fault, I fear for her.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) September 8, 2014
Update: The NFL has suspended Rice indefinitely, so no other NFL team can sign him.
Update: ESPN’s Adam Schefter goes weapons free, blasts the NFL for claiming that today is the first time the league has seen the new tape.
On this morning’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked President Obama about golfing directly after addressing last month’s beheading of journalist James Foley:
TODD: I’ve got to ask, like, so during that vacation, made the statement on Foley, you went and golfed. Do you want that back?
OBAMA: You know, it is always a challenge when you’re supposed to be on vacation, because you’re followed everywhere. And part of what I would love is a vacation from–
TODD: You want us to stop following you.
OBAMA: — the press, because–
TODD: I promise you in two and a half years I think that happens.
OBAMA: Because the possibility of a jarring contrast given the world’s news, there’s always going to be some tough news somewhere, it’s going to be there.
But there’s no doubt that after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain they were going through, after the statement that I made, that I should have anticipated the optics. That’s part of the job.
And you know, I think everybody who knows me, including, I suspect, the press, understands that you take this stuff in. And it’s serious business. And you care about it deeply. But part of this job is also the theater of it. Part of it is how are you–
TODD: You hate the theater.
OBAMA: Well, it’s not something that always comes naturally to me, but it matters. I’m mindful of that. So the important thing is in addition to that, is am I getting the policies right, am I protecting the American people, am I doing what’s necessary?
Nice catch by JWF.
According to NBC’s Peter King, NFL officials called teams around the league to gauge their interest in signing former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, to their practice squads.
The Cowboys signed Sam to their practice squad Wednesday. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams but didn’t make the Rams’ 53-man roster.
King reported the news about Sam during the pre-game show before NBC’s coverage of the NFL regular-season opener between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
“The Rams waived Michael Sam, the first openly gay player trying to make an NFL roster, he was unemployed for two days,” King said. “During that time a league official contacted multiple teams asking if they had evaluated Sam as a probable practice squad player.”
“Now Sam and the NFL avoided a nightmare situation when he signed with the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys.”
What’s this “nightmare situation”? Every team cut a whole lot of players during pre-season. They do that every pre-season. Cutting players who aren’t good enough is one of the purposes of pre-season. After the Cowboys signed him, owner Jerry Jones admitted that Sam “is not ready to go at all.” Yet the NFL called around, and the Cowboys signed him.
Is it standard practice for the National Football League’s office to call up teams to get one player who hadn’t made the grade picked up by another team? The fact that King reported it suggests that it’s unusual.
Now why would the homophobic NFL make such an effort for one player and not the hundreds of other players who were cut during pre-season?
Update: Exit question — did the NFL shop around to find a home for Tim Tebow?
Lifelong soccer fan here. My team, Arsenal, was established by brawny men who crafted weapons for the British military at a time when the sun never set on their empire. They have a cannon in the frickin’ logo. They have another frickin’ cannon parked outside their stadium in London.
They’re called, even in our politically-correct age, the Gunners. The NBA team formerly known as the Washington Bullets envies their aggressive branding.
Back when I was kid soccer player and fan, football coaches would smear the sport as a “Communist plot.” That smear would continue right up until the coach needed a kicker. Then, whaddya know, he’d go for a soccer player, because they know how to kick a ball with power and control. Soccer goal keepers also make good punters and tight ends.
But there’s a story out today that has me re-thinking the whole commie plot angle.
A letter is circulating on behalf of the NESCAC Men’s soccer coaches to parents of student-athletes, saying the conference will only allow ‘positive’ cheering from fans, furthering the wussification of sports in America.
The NESCAC (New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference) is comprised of schools such as Williams, Amherst, Tufts and Middlebury.
According to the email, NESCAC coaches ask that fans refrain from any ‘action that could potentially be construed as negative or confrontational,’ including booing and holding up signs that ‘could be interpreted as offensive in nature.’
Because I pay way too much attention to soccer, I get where this is coming from. It’s coming from Europe. Some fans in some countries (mostly Russia, but also Italy and Spain) engage in racist chants and hold up racist signs against non-white players on their rival teams (but not, of course, on the team they support). Some players, like World Cup vampire Luis Suarez, get a little racist on the field once in a while.
Those selectively racist fans get banned from stadiums for life when they’re caught, and the teams usually have to pay a price too. That tends to come in the form of having to play games with sections of their stadium seating left unsold, which costs the club money.
But in the US we don’t have that problem. We’re not as backward as Europe is on race relations.
Europe’s soccer fans do lead the world in hurling negative but non-racist, sometimes obscene, abusive chants at the enemy on the field. Many of those chants are hilarious and add to the atmosphere of the game.
But that also doesn’t really happen in US soccer. It’s not a part of our game here. We lag in the atmosphere indicator. The best US fans are probably the ones who support Portland and Seattle in MLS. They pack the stands and the Timbers have a logger guy who cuts a log with a big chainsaw when they score. That’s not politically-correct (a tree had to die!), and therefore it’s pretty cool. But I guess it qualifies as “positive.”
Yet some Yankee soccer people are writing emails warning everyone not to get all negative when cheering for soccer? I bet they vote leftwing Democrat and think Barack Obama is just grand, too.
Has Democrat governor candidate Wendy Davis flip-flopped on football? In Texas?
The Greg Abbott campaign has sent around a press release that makes a good case that the state senator who is originally from Rhode Island, and who pronounces Texas “Tak-sas,” has a convenient memory when it comes to Texas’ second religion.
SHOT: Today Sen. Davis Said She Has Been “Cheering For The Cowboys” Since She Was Young And Hasn’t Stopped Since. SEN. DAVIS: “And we wish our Cowboys the best. I grew up cheering for the Cowboys and I haven’t stopped ever since and I’ll be cheering for them again this year.” (KTCK-AM, 9/3/14)
Here’s the clip. It’s from earlier today.
Davis says clearly that she grew up cheering for the Cowboys, never stopped, and will be cheering for them again this year. So the Abbott campaign has rendered the quote accurately.
But, there are chasers to follow the shot above.
CHASER: In August Sen. Davis’ Daughter Said Her And Her Mother Were Both “Big Fans” Of The New England Patriots. “The two propose a tour of the family’s Spanish-style town house—starting with the media room, where Super Bowl parties are held (‘Mom’s best friend is Patti Kraft, whose father-in-law owns the Patriots, so we’re big fans,’ Amber tells me).” (Heidi Mitchell, “Stand And Deliver: After Her 12-Hour Filibuster, How Far Will Texas Senator Wendy Davis Run?,” Vogue, 8/15/13)
BuzzFeed: “[Sen. Davis] … Loves The New England Patriots.” “[Sen. Davis] hosts Super Bowl parties and loves the New England Patriots, which her BFF’s family owns.” (Jessica Testa, “6 Times Wendy Davis Was A ‘Cool Mom’ In Her Vogue Profile,” BuzzFeed, 8/15/13)Sen. Davis: “Go Pats!!!” (Facebook.com, 1/20/14)
This was posted on that now locked Facebook page. This year. Not at some distant point in the past. 2014.
I might be the wrong person to write about the Cowboys right now. They make me angry. I grew up in the era of Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett…a Cowboys era in which they won things. They won things early in the Jerry Jones era too — three Super Bowls in four years with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. But they have been mediocre since, and not just mediocre, but mediocre because Jerry Jones is not a football guy yet he has appointed himself general manager for life. They show no signs of getting above mediocrity, because Jerry Jones shows no signs of obtaining a clue.
All signs point to the Cowboys being terrible this year. They lost all of their pre-season games for the first time in 14 years. Their defense, the worst around last season, does not appear to have improved. The injury bug has hit them very hard. Tony Romo and the play callers can be expected to throw away at least two games in the crucial playoff run-up. Football is one of my two big sports (soccer the other), but I don’t even intend to pay them much attention this year. So, disclosure is out of the way.
It’s no crime to change one’s football allegiance. Families are often split, brother against brother, over gridiron allegiances.
But Wendy Davis has clearly flip-flopped here, unless her excuse is that she supports both teams. Who does she support when the Cowboys and the Patriots face each other? Texans have a right to know.
Houston is a major Texas city. Like Dallas, they have a team that pretends to be in the NFL. What is Wendy Davis’ opinion of the Texans? Or “Tak-sans”, as she pronounces the word?
Texans are big hearted and can forgive lots of things, but lying about football? That crosses a bright chalk line.
Well, that didn’t take long. The St. Louis Rams cut defensive end Michael Sam over the weekend. Sam is, or would have been, the NFL’s first openly gay player.
He was drafted late, seventh round. Homophobia was suggested. Now that he has been cut, homophobia has been blamed, by Michelangelo Signorile at the Huffington Post.
Michael Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams over the weekend. Over the following 24 hours, no other team had decided to claim the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL. Then came the news that the Rams didn’t choose him for its practice squad. And though he could be picked for a practice squad for another team this week, NFL watchers believe his options are dim.
There have already been lots of arguments on social media, and it will continue this week, over whether or not this represented homophobia in the NFL. Frankly, I’m astounded that anyone can even debate this. One person on my Facebook page said that if Michael Sam were good enough he’d be playing. I don’t know how this person could possibly justify such a statement since the NFL’s record — of giving slaps on the wrist for ugly homophobic incidents and hiring known haters — suggests otherwise, and no openly gay player had been drafted before.
And none of that bears on Sam’s performance in pre-season or whether he is what the Rams or any other team needs. He had a decent pre-season. The Rams cut him because he wasn’t what they believe they need. No other team took him on.
That’s what happens in pre-season football. Some rookies make it, many rookies don’t.
The Rams also cut Sam from their practice squad, and explained why.
They already have five defensive ends on their 53-man roster and have depth needs at too many other positions to cover injuries, and they need players for the scout team to run the plays of opposing teams in practice now that the regular season is here.
As of Sunday night, the Post-Dispatch had confirmed the names of six players the Rams will sign for their 10-man practice squad. But they still had needs to address at quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback – which would soak up the final four spots.
They’re too deep at defensive end and too thin elsewhere.
Signorile devotes the rest of the article to bashing the NFL for being “homophobic,” a smear that halts any discussion dead in its tracks. He bashes the Giants for hiring David Tyree for player development, because Tyree opposes gay marriage.
What that has to do with whether Tyree will make a good player development director or not is not explained.
Bashing Tyree’s hiring is telling. Tyree is the former Giant wide receiver whose insane helmet catch led to the Giants defeating the Perfect Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Tyree might know how to spot and develop players for the Giants. Or not. But his stand on gay marriage has nothing to do with that at all. Signorile wants Tyree banished over something that has nothing to do with his job. He wants Sam captured by an NFL team for reasons that have nothing to do with the job.
A former Ohio high school basketball player is suing his high school, the athletic director, the school’s principal, and his former basketball coach, alleging they violated his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, resulting in a “loss of liberty” when he was cut from the team.
The suit was originally filed in Medina County Common Pleas Court [read the complaint here] by Chase Johanson, who graduated from the school in 2013 and is currently on the track team at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The case was transferred to the U.S. District Court Aug. 27 at the request of the defendants, who said the lawsuit belongs in federal court because the claims involve constitutional issues.
Johanson, who says in an online profile that he was a 6′ 7″ power forward for Medina High School and “my father played basketball at the University of Tennessee,” claims the problems at the school began in December of 2010 during his sophomore year when there was a conflict between a school-sponsored musical performance (in which Johanson participated) and a basketball game. “Following the code of conduct for the school, when such a conflict arises, there was an agreement that he could participate in the musical performance with no clarification of penalty,” the complaint explains.
But Johanson claims that he was forced to sit on the bench for half of the next basketball game as a result of his choosing to attend the musical performance, which ultimately led to two years of conflicts and meetings between Johanson, his mother, the athletic staff, and school administrators. Coaches claim that Johanson’s lackluster athletic performance and bad attitude didn’t warrant being rewarded with much playing time, while Johanson and his mother say that he was being unfairly targeted and punished by a coach who didn’t like him.
In the wake of criticism over a two-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, the NFL has established a six-game unpaid ban for personnel who violate the league’s policy on domestic violence, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday.
A second incident would be punished by a lifetime ban from the league, Goodell said in a letter and memo to the owners of the league’s 32 teams.
Without referring to Rice by name, he acknowledged in his letter that he made the wrong decision in that case.
“I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will,” he wrote.
Goodell has been trying to destroy football with an almost missionary zeal. While busy attempting to remove almost all on-field violence from an inherently violent game, he’s pretty much ignored the off-field variety. When Rice received a two game joke of a suspension in the midst of the league doling out much harsher punishments for substance abuse, even the most devout football fans (“Present.”) were appalled.
Hopefully, the threat of a lifetime ban for a second violation will give this policy some teeth.
Do you want to know why I tend not to post the Hero of the Day story that everyone else on the Internet runs with? Because these days, they usually fall apart within 48 to 72 hours. I just skip their arc from fame to infamy to the dustbin of pop culture history.
USC football player Josh Shaw admitted to USC officials that his story about heroically rescuing his nephew is a lie.
In a statement, USC says … “Shaw came to USC athletic department officials this afternoon (Wednesday, Aug. 27) and admitted that he had lied about how he suffered his ankle injuries over the weekend.”
“He said that the story he told of rescuing his nephew in a pool in Palmdale, Calif., was a complete fabrication. He apologized for misleading his coaches, teammates, athletic department officials and the public.”
I guess we’ll get one of these cynicism-building college football scandals every year or two from now on. Last year it was Manti Te’o and the fake dead girlfriend. This year it’s a guy who lies about saving his drowning nephew. Plus the usual assorted shoplifting and alumni gift stories.
Anyway, Miley Cyrus stunned America, with her touching tribute to homelessness. But it turns out that “Jesse” is a wanted man. His choices led to his being domicile challenged.
Tuesday, the world learned a little about “Jesse” and how he ended up on the streets of Los Angeles. Here’s a synopsis via Billboard:
Not long after the VMAs, his mother confirmed to The Oregonian that Miley’s Jesse was her son, Jesse Helt, a native of Salem, Oregon. And on Tuesday, Inside Edition spoke with an Oregon court official who revealed that Jesse Helt was arrested for attempting to break into an apartment four years ago. Billboard contacted the Salem police department and confirmed the 2010 incident.
Courts documents obtained by Inside Edition and shared with Billboard detail Helt’s attempt to break into a Salem apartment in Oct. 2010. Helt was charged with criminal trespassing and criminal mischief. According to the AP, a warrant is currently out for his arrest.
Months later, Helt’s probation officer filed documents stating that Helt skipped a probation check-in appointment and failed a drug test. Helt admitted to smoking marijuana, writing and signing a statement in March 2011 concerning his probation violation. The statement ended with the following promise: “For the sake of my freedom I have chosen to stop smoking weed and from now on I will not violate my probation.”
Since then, Spin reports that he briefly attended community college and worked at the Oregon State Fair. While attempting to start a modeling career in Los Angeles, the AP reports that Helt lived on the streets.
So Jesse has a criminal record, an open warrant for his arrest, a drug problem, and is homeless because he took the brilliant career path into the safe and secure world of modeling.
The intended lesson of Miley’s charity, there but for the grace of God goes you, eh, isn’t all that.
Want another lie exposed? Another downer for the day? Ok, try this: Hello Kitty isn’t even a cat.
Or, if it’s a cat, since it owns a pet cat, Hello Kitty is really Hello Slavery. But it’s not a cat.
According to Sanrio, Hello Kitty — whom you have seen on literally every consumer product at an increasing rate over the past 40 years — is in fact a human child.
“Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”
Thank goodness that Hello Kitty is not in fact a cat. Because that would be awk-ward.
Let’s end on something a little less shocking, a little more predictable.
Remember the Boston bomber brothers? Their sister got picked up for…prepare not to be shocked…making a bomb threat.
The best chance yet at a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and Gaza failed this week, when Hamas fired rockets at Israeli cities. They broke the ceasefire agreement, and so Israel retaliated with air strikes; and now, we’re back to square one.
You might think Qatar, with its ultra-wealthy skyscraper-clad cities, is far removed from the Gaza situation. Especially given there’s almost 700 miles between them, and that Qatar is a US ally, a seemingly westernized place, and a titan of globalized industry. But Qatar is wielding a lot of influence over Hamas and the negotiations.
According to the Washington Post: “An official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement suggested Wednesday that Qatar torpedoed the peace talks. After signs of progress last week, Hamas negotiators returned to the table after consultations in Qatar with new conditions.”
Qatar is convincing Hamas to take a hard-line stance in talks with Israel.
So how do they have such influence? Well, for one, the Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal moved to Doha, Qatar, when he was exiled from Kuwait. He is one of the primary executives within the Hamas organization, and he lives in Qatar.
Meanwhile, in 2012, Qatar promised Hamas $400 million in aid. Their cause and terrorism activities have direct funding ties to the Government of Qatar.
Also, when Hamas took charge of Gaza in 2007, the Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was the first foreign dignitary to even visit the Palestinian territory. And, al-Thani even chartered a private plane to bring Hamas militant trainers to Doha to further their education, and experience life in the big city.
So the Qatari-Gaza relationship is strong and gives Qatar a lot of sway in cases such as this.
The reason Israel and Hamas haven’t come to a truce of some sort this go-round is the extreme demands that Gaza is putting forth. According to The Telegraph, “Hamas wants all restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza to be lifted.” This means that Israelis are supposed to let Gazans into their country, inside their sovereign borders, with no control.
So, when we hear that Qatar is bolstering Hamas’ more radical demands, we see that they are responsible for the negotiations falling apart. Because Israel wouldn’t meet these demands, Hamas left the table and fired rockets at Israel.
The Zionist Organization of America has called for a suspension of the $11 billion arms trade deal, that US Secretary of Defense Hagel made with Qatar this July. The Zionist organization wants Qatar named an International State Sponsor of Terror, which would also bar them from having FAA rights to have flights in or out of the USA, and it would allow people to sue Qatar for damages associated with the terror acts.
I agree with the ZOA’s call, but also want the international community to condemn Qatar on a broader level.
A little over a month ago, we just finished watching the FIFA World Cup, and many of us got really into it. Cheering on the US, which did better than anyone thought they could, laughing at “Tim Howard Saves” memes, and rooting for Germany or Argentina in the final round, was exhilarating. But, in 2022, the World Cup is supposed to be in Qatar.
There are already a lot of reasons why this was a bad choice. There is no soccer infrastructure there, and it gets very very hot. And it was uncovered that Qatari billionaires had set up slush funds to bribe many African and Asian leaders into supporting their bid, and even created a whole oil trade deal with Thailand to procure their vote. They have been treating their laborers, who were hired to build from scratch stadiums around their nation, very poorly, prompting World Cup sponsors like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Visa to question their work conditions.
But now that we know more about Qataris involvement with the terrorist organization, Hamas, I think the US Government and US Soccer Association, as well as the World Cup corporate sponsors, should reinvigorate the call for the 2022 tournament to be competed elsewhere. The UK and the US have both been mentioned as possible replacement locales. The World Cup, and its millions of dollars in revenue, should not be in Qatar.
It’s time we show the world that there are real consequences for funding terrorism, and for going against our strongest allies, like Israel.
If you guessed “the nearest tee box,” you know your president.
POOL REPORT: “Obama stepped to a podium and delivered his remarks… Afterward, the motorcade drove to the Vineyard Golf Club.”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) August 20, 2014
Obama did deliver that statement and said that ISIS ought to be destroyed, but he didn’t offer a plan to do that. He didn’t offer to lead.
Perhaps he’s too busy concentrating on his bunker game.
File this story under politics, news, terrorism, and sports.
The last 24-48 hours on earth have been pretty awful. Iraq is falling apart. ISIS is hunting and killing Christians and other non-Muslims there and only the Kurds, badly outgunned at this point, have the stones to stop them.
Russia is invading Ukraine.
Our commander-in-chief stirred himself to leave the golf course long enough to address the nation via Facetime and say little, other than to advocate for regime change in Iraq. That makes him the fourth or fifth US president in a row to publicly call for that, but this president lacks the geostrategic wherewithall to use Australia as a base to win at the board game Risk. His statement on Monday left much to desire. That Obama again called for the Iraqis to have an “inclusive” government when Obama leads America’s most divisive government — a government his own loyalists have weaponized against dissent — was just the perfect topper. Does the man even listen to the words that come out of his own mouth? Does he know what they mean?
Though not on the same scale of tragedy as the horrors in the preceding paragraphs, the shocking death of Robin Williams hits hard. That a man who made us all laugh for decade after decade — since he played the lovable alien Mork all those years ago — battled depression is just a bit much to take.
Robin Williams was as much a pillar of American culture as anyone. He was just always there, going off on stream-of-consciousness riffs and making us laugh without taking the lazy route of going political to get cheap laughs. He earned every single laugh he ever got. Robin Williams also spent a great deal of his time entertaining the troops serving overseas and never made a big deal about that. By all accounts he had it all, was a nice guy, and was unquestionably talented. And yet the demon of depression got him.
As it said, it’s just hard to take.
I just want to start the day on a positive, and soccer is one place I go to escape the bad things.
Texan Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders is one of a very few American players who can claim to be among soccer’s elite. He was the hero of the US effort at the World Cup this summer, Captain America, scorer of that goal against Ghana and that other goal against Portugal. He’s clutch.
The other night, his Sounders beat Houston and Dempsey came off at the end of the game. What he did next created a memory that some kid will carry with him for the rest of his life. Those of us of a certain age remember the old Mean Joe Greene Coke commercial.
Clint Dempsey did something like that.
President Obama made a surprise video appearance at the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland on Saturday. Joining Greg Louganis, Lance Bass, the Pointer Sisters, and Broadway’s Andrea McArdle and Alex Newell in celebrating the event, Obama said, “Since 1982 the Gay Games have given lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes and supporters around the world a chance to come together to compete, celebrate, and inspire others.”
President Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, noted how the country has changed since the games began in 1982. “We’ve also seen America change in that time, even since 2006, when the games were last held in the United States in my hometown of Chicago. We’ve come a long way in our commitment to the equal rights of LGBT people here and around the world,” he said.
As international crises continue to dominate the world stage, the president took a break from his vacation and busy golf schedule to record the message for the Gay Games, boasting about his accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT movement since becoming president. ”I’m proud of my administration’s record and of the citizens who’ve helped push for justice.”
The president had a special message for those living in countries that persecute LGBT individuals, explaining what he believes to be the “very idea” of America. “You should know that the United States stands with you and for your human rights, just as our athletes stand with you on the field at these games,” he said. “After all, the very idea of America is that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, or who you love, you can make it if you try. That’s who we are. That’s who we should continually strive to be. ”
Obama wished the athletes well. “We’re also a country that loves competition, so let’s get these games underway. Good luck to the athletes, have a great time in Cleveland and Akron, and go, Team U.S. A.!”
“The Gay Games is thrilled to have President Obama take his time to show his commitment to the Games’ mission of inclusion, participation and personal best,” said Hollie Ksiezyk, co-chair of the 2014 Gay Games.
Fellow co-chair Steve Sokany agreed. ”It was a special moment that no one in the arena will forget and a great way to kick off the exciting Games week,” he said.
Journalist Connie Schultz, wife of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, tweeted about how deeply moved she and Sen. Brown were by the opening ceremony:
— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) August 10, 2014
— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) August 10, 2014
Approximately 8,000 athletes are expected to participate in 36 events over the next week.
Watch the video of Obama on the next page.
Three Democratic senators urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to impose a stiffer punishment on a Baltimore Ravens running back for his off-season domestic violence arrest.
Ray Rice agreed to enter a counseling program to avoid prosecution on a third-degree aggravated assault indictment stemming from a February incident in Atlantic City, where he was captured on video dragging his unconscious fiancee — now his wife — out an elevator.
Rice said it was a “one-time incident” and “totally inexcusable.”
“That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life. The pain I’m talking about living with is waking up every day, and my daughter is 2 years old now, and I have a little girl, who’s very smart, very intelligent, and one day she’s going to know the power of Google, and me having to explain that to her, what happened that night,” he said at a May press conference, adding that “when the time is right” he wants to go out and speak against domestic violence.
On July 24, the NFL suspended Rice for the first two games of the upcoming season and fined him one more game check, totaling a loss of more than $700,000 in salary.
In a statement handing down the punishment, Goodell said Rice’s conduct “was unquestionably inconsistent with league policies and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL.”
“The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game,” the commissioner continued. “This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) complained to Goodell in a Thursday letter, though, that the punishment was a slap on the wrist.
“The decision to suspend Mr. Rice for a mere two games sends the inescapable message that the NFL does not take domestic or intimate-partner violence with the seriousness they deserve. As has been widely pointed out, the NFL has imposed longer suspensions for offenses such as non-violent breaches of banned-substances policies and breaking NCAA rules by selling memorabilia. Both on its own and in comparison to these other cases, Mr. Rice’s suspension reflects a disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women,” they wrote.
“We therefore urge you to take two steps immediately. First, reconsider and revise Mr. Rice’s suspension to more adequately reflect the seriousness of his offense. We are also writing to the Baltimore Ravens to request that they impose additional discipline under their own authority, but it is imperative that the NFL itself makes clear that this conduct is truly unacceptable.”
The senators also asked that the NFL “develop procedures to ensure that allegations and evidence of domestic violence are addressed appropriately.”
“The pressing need for such procedures is clearly shown by a U-T San Diego study indicating that 21 of 32 NFL teams last year employed a player with a domestic violence or sexual assault charge on his record, as well as by Bureau of Justice statistics indicating that one in four women will face domestic violence during her lifetime,” they wrote. “We note that the NFL’s ‘Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse’ provides for a flat penalty of a four-game suspension (and up to a year’s suspension for repeated violations) for offenses that include ‘fail[ure] to cooperate with testing, treatment, evaluation or other requirements [or] a Positive Test.’ Similarly standardized procedures and levels of discipline should be applied to incidents of domestic violence, which by many measures constitutes a far more serious offense.”
Four years ago this week, workers tore down the iconic, 10-story-tall Lebron James Nike mural that had graced the side of the Landmark Office Tower in downtown Cleveland for most of the Cavaliers star’s tenure with the team. The transparent mural covered the window of my husband’s office in the building and he watched as a part of Cleveland history fell to the ground in heaps that day, along with the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Northeast Ohioans. A handful of diehard fans stood on the sidewalk below that day, snapping pictures of what they thought was the last glimpse of their hero on Cleveland soil. It was a terrible day after a terrible week. In the hours following James’ announcement that he was “taking his talents” to the Miami Heat, angry fans hurled rocks at the mural, which featured a triumphant James with his head thrown back and “We Are All Witnesses” emblazoned on it.
It’s an indisputable fact that James handled his departure poorly, sticking a thumb in the eyes of fans — who had supported him since he was a standout at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School — by turning “The Decision” into a national media event. It was tantamount to a high-profile Cleveland-shaming in the eyes of many fans, who burned #23 (and #6) jerseys in response, knowing that their hopes of a Cavaliers championship had just defected to Florida. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wrote a scathing, emotional letter to Cavs fans that week (which was still on the team’s website until last week) calling James a “former hero” who had “betrayed” the team. Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and a major partner in several Ohio casinos, told fans at the time that they didn’t deserve James’ “cowardly betrayal.”
It was a painful episode in a long history of Cleveland sports disappointments. No Cleveland team has won a championship in half a century, not since the 1964 Browns won a (pre-Super Bowl) NFL title. The last time the Indians won a World Series was 1948 and the city has never won an NBA title. So perhaps it’s not difficult to understand, just a little, why LeBron found himself the repository of fifty years’ worth of pent-up frustration.
For the last two weeks Northeast Ohio has been on “LeBron Watch,” waiting for “The Next Decision.” On Thursday reporters and fans were camped outside his Bath Township mansion (just outside Akron, where LeBron has maintained a residence) after the media reported that an announcement was imminent. Fans and pundits speculated about factors the NBA star might be considering as he pondered his decision: money, family, roots, championship, legacy.
If the Giants do this, the question will be, which cultures will win or lose? It won’t be very hard to predict.
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The San Francisco Giants organization is in the final steps of adopting a policy to ban fans from wearing “culturally-insensitive” attire at AT&T Park.
Giants’ Sr. Vice President Staci Slaughter said the Giants are very proud of their diverse fan base, but want fans to respect one another.
A lone incident involving a protected group sparked this radical change.
A couple of weeks ago, at AT&T Park’s Native American Heritage Night, two groups of fans had a disagreement over the issue of what should and shouldn’t be worn.
SF Examiner reported two Native American fans asked a third fan, who appeared to be Caucasian, to remove a headdress he was wearing.
Slaughter said the consideration to revise their dress-code policy partly stems from that incident.
It’s funny actually. The Giants got what they wanted — people celebrating a specific culture. Like this, from the same event in 2012.
You get the idea. People in the stands who were wearing the same things that people on the field were wearing in the official program caused a stink.
That turned into a disagreement and now no one gets to play.
But which cultures will win and lose?
It’s San Francisco, remember.
Another soccer post. Give in to your anger, soccer h8terz. Let the hate flow through you.
If you don’t really care one way or another, bear with me. Or bare with me if your grasp on language is a little loose or you’re into that sort of thing.
Landon Donovan is the leading scorer in US soccer World Cup history. He has scored more World Cup goals than Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonel Messi. If you know much about soccer, you know that that’s a big deal.
Donovan is 32 years old, not in his prime but still has a lot of gas in the tank, but was left off the US roster for this year’s World Cup. He isn’t shy and does have an arrogant streak. He is a player who already has a coach’s view of the game. He’s also probably the best that the United States has ever produced. So he has some credibility. I’ve seen him play in person once. He’s exceptional. He knows what he’s talking about, as long as he’s talking about soccer.
After the US crashed out by losing to Belgium, Donovan gave up some quotes that Yahoo! Sports is describing as a “bitter slam” on coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday, Donovan told MLS Soccer on Wednesday. “I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.”
Cut from the World Cup squad in late May in a surprise move that prevented him from playing in his fourth World Cup, Donovan has never been one to mince words, but his detailed assault on the U.S. World Cup team’s flaws, and Klinsmann’s role in the developing of those flaws, was still pretty shocking.
“If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys. As a whole, I think tactically, the team was not set up to succeed,” Donovan said. “They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they’ve been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking — trying to do that. And the team’s been successful that way. Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know.”
“Michael was put in the wrong position,” Donovan said. “He was put in a position that he’s not used to playing. He does a better job, as you saw with Julian Green‘s goal, being in a deeper position. And having someone in a front of him, someone to help Clint also, makes him that much better because he’s got more opportunity to pick out different passes, more attacking options ahead of him. I think that was clearly an error.”
Whether driven by anger at seeing his friends, and his national team, miss a golden opportunity to make a deep World Cup run, or driven by continued resentment at being denied his chance at playing in a fourth World Cup, and playing on the sport’s biggest stage one final time, Donovan decided to join the folks bashing Klinsmann rather than taking the high road and letting the court of public opinion cast a verdict on Klinsmann’s performance as coach.
it may have felt like something Donovan had to do, but in the end it smacked of petulance and bitterness and not the actions of someone who once said that he would be the U.S. team’s biggest fan even if he were left off the World Cup team.
I can’t agree with that. Donovan was asked questions and he answered them. He’s a soccer player, not a politician. If you don’t want his actual opinion, don’t ask for it.
A little perspective is in order. The USA looked great in qualifying but drew the worst group at the World Cup — Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Hardly anyone expected them to get out of that group. I didn’t expect them to get out of that group, with or without Donovan. Germany and Portugal were the favorites, but the latter got hammered by the former and never recovered.
The US did get out of that ghastly group, and that was a huge achievement, and Klinsmann deserves huge credit for that. His tactics mostly worked, even against Belgium. Very few defenses have been able to stop Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku even when they’re not tired. He came on when the US defense was already haggard and had stopped Belgium’s talented group, and he made the difference. That’s what great players do, and Lukaku is on track to become great.
Klinsmann rolled the dice by taking only one real big-body striker to Brazil, Jozy Altidore. Altidore has had a very off year at Sunderland. His selection was a bit of a surprise given how poorly he has played over the last year, when Eddie Johnson was available and they’re very similar players. Johnson was not selected for Brazil either. So the USA went into Brazil too thin at a very important position.
Altidore’s hamstring injury in the first game versus Ghana forced Klinsmann’s hand. He had to refigure the team. He had to push Dempsey into more of a lone striker role, and he chose to push Bradley, who is usually more of a deep-lying midfielder, farther forward into more of a center attacking role. Bradley is a very good player and has experience in Europe, but that position shift didn’t suit Bradley, and it showed — he was the guy giving the ball away all the time. His giveaway in the closing seconds against Portugal led directly to the tying goal, which cost the US two points and sent it into the knockout round against a tougher opponent. That’s what Donovan observes in the quotes above. He’s right.
Had Donovan been available — had Klinsmann taken him to Brazil, that is — Altidore’s injury probably would have hurt less. Donovan is not the same kind of player as Jozy Altidore. Altidore is a big, bullying striker. He’s a wrecking ball. Donovan is a creative midfielder who can score from just about anywhere. He pulls the strings. He unlocks defenses. He has loads of experience. He can change a game at any moment with the killer pass or an unexpected shot. He can carry a team that is struggling. He can be the creative outlet for a team under siege, as the US was for most of its games, because the US still isn’t a world power in soccer. But we’re getting there.
Klinsmann left Donovan out of Brazil. That had to hurt.
It’s hard not to have some sympathy for Donovan. He is better than almost every player that Klinsmann ended up taking to Brazil. Dempsey can claim to be better, maybe, on his best days. He is certainly very good. Tim Howard is definitely a world class keeper, but you can’t really compare a keeper to a creative midfielder like Donovan. Howard just seems to get better every year. But Donovan is a unique talent, not terribly big, not the fastest man out there, but he is extremely skilled, very elusive, and hyper aware of the game around him. He makes any team a little better, and sometimes a lot better. I mentioned his arrogance, which is real, but there is a selflessness about him too. He is a team player. Donovan could have played in Europe, and has at times, but he has chosen to play most of his career in the US to help grow soccer here by being the face of the sport. Playing in Europe pays more and offers the big trophies and endorsements. Donovan basically left those opportunities on the table to keep playing here.
And Klinsmann left him out of Brazil.
So I don’t read Donovan’s comments as bitter. They’re honest. He’s an athlete, not a politician.
Klinsmann probably won’t like them, mostly because they’re coming from Landon Donovan. But Klinsmann knows better than anyone else that Donovan is right, and he also knows why Donovan is right. He knows that not all of that has to do with Donovan, but some of it does.
Jurgen Klinsmann is a great coach and he’ll be great for American soccer. He’ll learn from this and build a better team for the next cup. And he will build it without Landon Donovan, unfortunately. It’s a shame that two of America’s top soccer brains will probably never end up working together again.
Patrick Ruffini is a very smart man. He posted this on Facebook last night.
While there’s rightfully talk about making them smarter and more data-driven and efficient, this is meaningless without creating a real emotional connection with voters and getting the relationship with the supporter right. We can’t be all brain and no heart.
That’s exactly, 100% right. It’s something I’ve come to accept over the past few years, especially the Obama years. While issues do matter to some extent, and campaigns and tactics surely matter too, the emotional connection that a candidate makes with potential voters can make or break their career. Especially at the presidential level, where many voters vote symbolically rather than on qualifications, character or issues.
Barack Obama has understood this more deeply, and longer, than most of us. Well, either he understands it or his advisers like David Axelrod understand it. Either way, or probably both, explain quite a bit about why he has won two presidential elections despite being unqualified the first time around, and an obvious failure the second. He had established an emotional bond with enough voters that they didn’t care about the details. They liked him, and that was enough. Plus his IRS had suppressed conservative groups.
Ever since he began his presidency, Obama has tended to avoid specifics in his speeches, while pursuing policies mostly through regulations. Regulations don’t need congressional input. The regulatory state is harder to track. Obama can defer to the EPA, DHS, HHS, whatever, whenever one of his regulations causes him any political problems. Or he can blame Bush, one of the progressives’ Emmanuel Goldsteins. The Koch brothers serve that role now, too, as the Bush presidency fades from memory and more Americans are realizing that compared to Barack Obama, W wasn’t so bad after all.
Back to the emotional connection. Barack Obama has been making some odd moves as his world burns seems to be burning down around him. He is sliding badly in the polls. America is getting a case of buyer’s remorse over electing him. His presidency is a rump of what it was up to 2011. Even many of the congressional Democrats don’t really trust him. Candidates like Wendy Davis won’t even be seen with him.
While Putin and ISIS march forward, Obamacare remains a mess, the economy remains stagnant, etc etc, Barack Obama pops out for lunch at Chipotle. And makes a point to let everyone know about it.
It backfired on him, a little, because Barack Obama is a cad.
That was a week ago, during a parenting summit. As a parent, I’ll state categorically that Barack Obama has been the worst president for parents since Bill Clinton turned cigars into sex toys. Clinton hauled politics into the gutter and polluted the meaning of “is.” Obama’s assault has been against our ability to make a living, and against the churches we belong to to teach our children our faith, and against our property and religious rights. Plus Obama just can’t get enough of Planned Parenthood, the industry/lobbyist/special interest built upon abortion.
The parenting summit was obviously a play for suburban vote, the soccer mom vote, the middle class vote. It was mostly to blunt charges that his policies are subversive and anti-family. See here, he’s having a whole summit on families!
What he was actually doing was creating more anger among some women voters over equal pay, an issue he supposedly resolved with the stroke of a pen years ago.
But for lunch, why Chipotle?
Companies and restaurants are now especially feeling the Millennial affect because the population dines out and purposefully spends in ways more different than ever, and now that their spending power has increased, companies have no choice but to follow suit and appeal to them the best way they know how.
If you think the Millenials’ influence can’t be that dramatic yet, just ask McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) if its business has been affected by the maturation of the huge generation. The world’s largest fast food chain once had drive-thru lines spiraling out of parking lots, but now the restaurant is faced with a new generation that is focused on health and fresh ingredients to such a degree that consumers have never been before. Barkley reports that 26 percent of the generation considers themselves health fanatics, and thus, the likelihood of those Generation Y’ers visiting McDonald’s every night is lower than ever, and that reality is only expected to continue.
McDonald’s is still in the top ten restaurants for millennials. But look which chain comes in at numero uno.
1. Chipotle (NYSE:CMG)
Last, but certainly not least, America’s favorite Mexican grill. Almost half of all those Millennials surveyed byGlobalHue noted Chipotle as their favorite fast food brand, and the company boasts an impressive 46 percent figure. Generation Y’ers are drawn to the Denver, Colorado-based company’s fresh salads, meaty burritos, and infamous guacamole, and colleges are even noticing the trend as more and more campuses recruit the Mexican restaurant to set up shop on their grounds.
Chipotle’s stock has risen significantly within the past few quarters as it continues gaining popularity and new consumers, and its latest earnings still even managed to live up to lofty expectations.
Along the same lines, he has made a very grand show of paying attention to the US run in the World Cup. He crashed a watch party, led a chant on camera, and called up Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard after the US loss to Belgium.
Because millennials rate the World Cup as the top story that they’re paying attention to. More than the IRS scandal, more than the VA scandal, more than any scandal, more than the Middle East and even the economy.
That will probably change now that the US is out.
If I’m right about this, that Obama’s choice of lunch and sports comes down to his attempt to hold onto the millennial vote by keeping their emotional connection with him, even while his economic policies are screwing them over, then watch for him to pop out to a Panera, a Subway, or a Taco Bell before long. He’s one of us! He cares about what we care about! He listens to the music we listen to! He eats where we eat! He likes the five dollar — five dollar footlong!
And I’m still jobless and living in my parents’ basement!
Taco Bell would give him a two-fer — it’s #4 with millennials and probably #1 with stoners. Taco Bell is also climbing with Hispanic customers.
Soccer haters, you’ve had your fun. You’ve mocked kicky ball, you’ve said it’s socialist, you’ve tarred it as communist. You’ve bragged that you don’t know anything about soccer, and that you don’t want to know anything about soccer, and you’ve smeared anyone who does know anything about soccer as either a socialist, a communist, or a pantywaist.
Tell that to Tim Howard. If you have the guts.
So here’s the deal. Soccer is not only not any of the things that you haters claim, it’s actually much more of a capitalist sport than you realize. Because you don’t know anything about it. Here are five reasons that soccer is actually capitalist and ruthlessly American.
1. Soccer rewards success and punishes failure ruthlessly.
The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB are mostly static leagues. Regardless of their win-loss records, the leagues keep the same teams around year in and year out. Franchises like the Detroit Lions become embarrassments that go on for years on end, yet they are never booted out of the NFL. Loser teams stick around in all of the US top sports leagues. That’s also true of US Major League Soccer. Teams move from town to town every once in a while, but they’re still the same team nearly all the time. Even if they get a new name.
But in the world’s soccer leagues, if you suck, you get kicked out of the league. And if you’re good and finish at the top of your league and you’re in a league that’s lower than the top league, you get promoted up to the big league. Of the 20 teams that make up England’s Premiere League every year, three have been promoted because of their accomplishments in the second-tier Championship League the season before. And the worst three Premiere League teams got relegated down to that second-tier league. If they want to get back to the top league, they have to earn it by finishing high enough to either earn automatic promotion or go into a playoff to earn it. Any EPL team can get relegated if they have a bad enough season. The same is true for leagues all across Europe, wherever there are enough teams to have multiple leagues with tiered systems.
One year of suckitude and you and your club get sent down to a lower league. That’s hard core. US sports could learn a thing or two from the creative churn of soccer’s relegation-promotion system.
And by the way, a good player in a lower league team can find himself scooped up directly into a top team in a top league if his play is good enough. It’s all about how well he plays as an individual. If you shine even on a horrible team, you’ll move to a good team.
This was the end-of-game post on the New York Times’ live blog of the USA v. Belgium World Cup game moments ago.
Apparently it’s a phrase that just comes naturally at the New York Times.
The United States can make some history today. A win over Belgium would send the US into the quarterfinals of the World Cup for only the second time ever in the current World Cup tournament structure. The last time it happened was 12 years ago. The farthest the USA ever got in a World Cup is the semifinals in 1930. That was the very first World Cup, and it only included 13 teams. The USA defeated Belgium in the first round of that tournament, 3-0.
ESPN is cranking up the hype machine for today’s match with this gritty video. Take a look.
Team news for today — the USA may have striker Jozy Altidore available from his opening match hamstring injury, while the Belgians may be without both of their center backs, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen. If all of that comes to pass, the USA have a very good shot. The USA have decent shot anyway. The Belgians have a great collection of individual players, but the US have played as a strong team so far.
Texan Clint Dempsey, broken nose and all, leads the Yanks as captain.
A new Pew poll makes some sense out of a couple of last week’s major Obama tweets. In one tweet, the president allowed himself to be seen watching the US vs Germany World Cup match aboard Air Force One. In another, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos tweeted that President Obama had shifted foreign policy decisions around World Cup soccer matches.
— GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) June 26, 2014
Apparently Obama’s internal polls show the same thing that Pew found. That is, that among younger Americans — the 18 to 29 year olds who propelled Obama to victory and on whom he still depends — the World Cup is blowing all other stories away.
Young people typically express lower levels of interest in news stories than older Americans, and the age differences are striking when it comes to Washington news and violence in Iraq. Just 13% of those younger than 30, and 19% of those 30-49, say they tracked news about Iraq very closely. That compares with 36% of those 65 and older and 34% of those 50 to 64.
Republicans interested in IRS scandalHowever, the World Cup is a different story. About a quarter (24%) of those under 30 say they are closely following the World Cup – making it by far the story they express the most interest in. Young people are more likely than older age groups to be closely following the World Cup.
Pretending to care about the World Cup so much that it even impacts his foreign policy moves connects Obama to two of his preferred groups, millennials and Hispanics.
Interest in the World Cup is also relatively high among Hispanics. Overall, 23% of U.S. Hispanics say they are following the soccer tournament very closely while another 32% are following fairly closely.
The World Cup beats the weaponization of government for this president, any day. Did you notice that on Monday, Obama timed his immigration announcement so that it would hit between the day’s two World Cup knockout matches?